So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that ‘the disease that shall not be named’ is posing a much bigger threat to society than initially anticipated. COVID-19 has shown us how connected our world is and has shown that borders, policies or political leaders, cannot stop it.
And while we’ve been stumbling our way through it all, panic buying toilet paper and pasta, we’ve all been acting like business as usual, with a side of panic. The stats and data are there, this thing is dangerous and threatens the vulnerable. THIS IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL.
This means that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done. We need to be critical, creative and caring. We need to think outside the box, make sacrifices and ultimately adopt a level of discomfort and uncertainty for the foreseeable future.
So I’m interrupting business as usual with some ideas and tips on how to navigate this difficult time without losing your mind, with realising there’s enough toilet paper for everyone, and holding on to what’s left of our humanity.
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats it’s most vulnerable members
There are many people around the world who are doing it tough in this difficult time. Everyone is struggling to adjust and adapt to this new reality, no one was prepared.
Be kind and patient. Assume that everyone is doing their best. Talk to loved ones and reach out, even if they seem fine, remember, this is not business as usual.
It’s OK to turn off news notifications and block alerts from social media. This doesn’t mean you’re being ignorant, it means that you’re trying to preserve yourself. This is a marathon.
Take care of yourself and the people around you. Wash your hands. Drink plenty of water. Invent a new way to give your housemate a hug.
Practice gratitude for the things you do have. Internet, access to information, clear blue skies (for the first time in months), a community, clean water, Netflix.
Remember that your inconveniences and hurdles, could be saving lives. Though I must admit, stressing about toilet paper is extremely inconvenient, I’m reminding myself that the world will not fall apart without it. Yes it sucks that your travel plans are affected, that party, festival, wedding is cancelled, but it will come when the time is right.
It’s normal to be anxious and concerned. Whilst no one knows what the next few months will bring, we all need to realise that we’re in this together. We will figure it out, we will respond, we will learn and we will grow.
We will get through this, but let’s keep our kindness and humanity in tact.
There’s not many people who can get me panicked that I’ll miss a train at 6:30 in the morning, except for my friends. And on Sunday 8th March, International Women’s Day, I spent some quality time with some strong women that I’m lucky enough to call my friends.
Zina and I had tickets to the All About Women Festival in Sydney. It was our second year attending so I think this is the start of a new and exciting tradition for us.
Race to learn
We attended a session featuring the deity Flex Mami and iconic Clementine Ford all about ‘finding your voice,’ especially in the digital sphere. Just two seats away was my amazing colleague and I knew we’d have a lot to talk about when we returned to the office.
The conversation ebbed and flowed between why we may or may not need to find a strong online voice for ourselves, where our voices develop from and what drives us to voice our opinions and experiences.
“We always race to speak, but we don’t always race to learn and understand.”
I thought that the biggest take away for me was that some of us are lucky to have a platform, my blog is one of mine. And that with a platform comes a responsibility.
My colleague asked me yesterday at work what was my purpose in life – I know, just small talk.
After thinking about it for some time, now, in the stage of my life I’m currently in, I replied, ‘to learn all that I can.’
I believe, what Clementine and Flex showed was vulnerability in not knowing things, in making mistakes and growing and evolving their ideas and values.
“No one finds their voice or comes into this world as a perfectly politically correct person.”
We’re all on this journey together, and this International Women’s Day, with the theme being Each for Equal, is really resonated that we’re all trying to do our best and understand this crazy world and our position in it.
So, what about my voice?
At 25 I know that I’ve got a voice. I know how to use it. I’ve perhaps used it irrationally before. And I’ve said things that I perhaps regret or shouldn’t have said.
But I’m aware of this. I feel so aware of my views, values and voice and I’m always questioning why I think, react and behave this way. I think what’s next for me is refining my voice. Cutting out all the shit, all the nonsense, all of the stuff that does not spark joy, and use my voice wisely.
I want to race to learn, rather than race to speak. Because I think when we learn and take our time, is when we grow and create magic.
A huge shoutout to the incredible women in my life who have shown me the way, and played a pivotal part in me finding more voice. To my family, friends, colleagues, role models, acquaintances… to the people who listen to me, support me and lift me… thank you.
Maybe it’s Mercury in Retrograde, but maybe it means that something exciting is coming… I just have to find my way through it all.
I think it started at the turn on the new year. Entering a new year, a new decade, I felt myself starting to yearn for something big. I am very happy in my life right now don’t get me wrong – I guess it was more of a realisation that if I don’t do all of the things I want to do now, then when will I do it?
For example, I have said I’ve wanted to go to Tasmania for the last three years. I keep talking about it, imagining it, researching it, making plans, and guess what… I still haven’t gone to Tasmania. And if I don’t make my wants and needs a priority, maybe I’ll never go.
I feel like 2020 is a big year and that it’s the year for saying yes to something that scares the shit out of you. I feel that I’m in a great spot, a comfortable spot. I’ve created an amazing environment in my workplace, I’m friends with my colleagues, I’m good at what I do and I’ve been getting coffee from the same guy nearly everyday for 6 years, I live in a nice place with amazing people, I know all the good coffee spots around town… but I am afraid.
I am afraid of becoming too comfortable. I never want to take this comfort for granted, but I’m also not ready for my ‘once in a life time’ comfortable life. I’m 25 years old. Yes I could be engaged, saving to buy a house, heck, even popping out a kid or two. And while maybe that’s coming for me one day, I am currently seeking discomfort.
So this year I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Well, in several different rings. In several different locations, and industries, and positions… let’s just say there’s a lot of hats floating around with my name out there.
And maybe it’s asking too much to expect those hats to land perfectly aligned, perfectly timed, and in preference of where I would like to wear those hats… yep – I know I’m dreaming.
I guess in my current quest for discomfort, I’m bloody uncomfortable. I have to make hard decisions to make and need to dig deep to think about what I really want in life. Seeking discomfort doesn’t mean I’m not grateful and completely in love with my life as it currently stands. It just means that I’m ready for the next challenge, and maybe it’s time for me to step up.
Sometimes, all you can do is throw your hat in the ring and bask in the discomfort of not knowing where it will land.
In the spirit of seeking discomfort, this is the first in a new blogging series. I want to write more, be more open and connect with people who might be experiencing similar challenges, experiences in life.
So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on an update.
🎧She’s On The Money Their latest episode ‘I see it, I like it, I want it, I got (credit card) debt,’ is a brilliant and important conversation about our society’s view of credit cards. It was a bit scary because they said several things that I have explicitly thought myself like ‘I’ll pay it off,’ ‘I only put necessary items on credit,’ etc. but the truth is, personal debt in Australia is crazy. We have one of the highest rates in the world and I have one. I don’t know if it’s me just trying to justify my use, but…. they’re not evil, I think it’s just a wake up call for me to reflect on my spending habits and think about what I buy on credit and how I could navigate my spending in a smarter way.
📺Liar Whislt this TV series isn’t the most gripping, best acted show I’ve seen, the framing of this show is incredible. It will make you think about your biases, and turn them on their head. In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein verdict, I think this is incredibly important. The end of Episode 3 will have your mouth wide open in disbelief.
Have you ever been asked to do something that you really
don’t want to? And you spent hours, if not days, trying to conjure up an excuse
as to why you can’t do it? And not just any excuse, but a plausible excuse.
Family events, a friend’s birthday, a reunion, a prior commitment at a prior
venue that you simply could not skip on. Alternatively, we begrudgingly say yes
and complain that we have to participate in this random thing that we’ve been
asked to do, so that we don’t offend the person asking us.
We’ve all been there. Making up excuses, searching for excuses, before finally giving. But to be quite frank, I’m pretty sick of doing things that I don’t want to do. What better excuse of not doing something than simply, ‘I don’t want to.’
I think from a young age, we are programmed to please people. Especially as a woman, we’re expected to be obedient, to play along, and do whatever it is to please the people around us. It means sacrificing our time, energy and effort to keep the peace and keep everyone happy. Whilst this isn’t the end of the world, and saying yes can be a great thing, there’s something terrifyingly empowering about saying no.
This is not only apparent in our personal lives, but also in
our professional ones. As a young professional, I have been brought up in an
environment where I feel the need to prove myself. That I couldn’t possibly
have earned my position because I’m too young. So I find myself holding
incredibly high expectations of myself, pushing myself and putting my hand up
for everything to prove how deserving I am of having the opportunity to have
this job. This is a pretty self-destructive notion that will quickly lead to
burnout and feeling unrecognised for the extra work you’re pushing yourself to
I used to think that saying no was saying no to new
opportunities, to miss out on growing, to limit yourself and ultimately hold
yourself back. And whilst sometimes saying yes to things that make you feel
uncomfortable is freakin awesome and does facilitate growth, saying no doesn’t
mean you miss out on that opportunity.
I’ve recently come to understand that time is one of the
most precious things we have. And it’s important to protect it at all costs. As
our lives get busier and busier, our weekends get booked out months in advance and
seeing friends becomes a series of cancellations and rescheduling, the last
thing you want to be doing is spending your precious time doing things that you
don’t really want to do.
I’ve found myself asking, how the heck do I say no? To a
friend, a family member, a colleague, a boss, a partner… so here are some
little phrases and sayings.
That’s not really my scene
Thanks but there’s other things I’d rather be
That’s not really up my alley
I’m going to have a ‘me day’ instead
Can you elaborate on why you need me to do it
Can I think about it and get back to you?
I can’t commit to this at the moment
At the end of the day, saying no is an empowering thing. Saying no can set new boundaries. It can challenge people and get them to seriously think about what they’re asking you. It is self-care by honouring and respecting your time. And at the end of the day, you’re just one person. You can’t possibly do everything for everyone, and if you can, then maybe it’s time to start putting yourself first. Say yes to saying no!
Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said “I’m here for you” and proved it.
While listening to the Shamelesspodcast, the girls were discussing performative friendship on social media. And it was only last weekend, when it was another friends birthday, I thought to myself ‘do I really need to post another photo?‘ It’s not that I don’t like that friend or that I didn’t have any nice photos together. It was that I felt an overwhelming duty to do so. And as I’m describing this, I’m sure you know the exact social phenomenon I’m referring to. It’s your friends birthday so you post an old picture of the two of you on your stories, or if you really love them, on your feed. Or, going one step further, making a collage of photos and posting on their Facebook timeline. Wow. And whilst I’ve enjoyed doing this for friends over the past few years, I can’t help but think… why? Apart from a few seconds of humour, embarrassment or entertainment, it disappears in 24 hours. Which got me thinking… what does friendship look like to me?
This inspired me to reflect. And I thought about what I value in friendship and what friendship means to me, how it has shaped me and if I’m a good friend at all! Interestingly enough, I feel that my values around friendship (and I guess in life more generally) begins with my star sign (yep, basic bitch right here, but hear me out). I’m a cancer and strongly identify with being a cancer. Emotional, creative, an extroverted-introvert, I wear my heart of my sleeve, I’m an empath, sensitive, sometimes unpredictable, but if we form a connection and relationship, I’ll fight for it to the death. These attitudes transfer to my friendships, I believe I can make friends with nearly anyone, and that no matter what others think, I will always know the true value of our friendship.
High School: BFFL
When you’re at high school, you think your friends are friends for life. They’re your crew and you ain’t ever leaving their side. Until you do, and you grow, and you meet new people, and you make new friends, and you realise that some of your high school friends no longer serve you in the way it used to. The friendships that last, and surprise you in ways you could have never expected, are the ones that will grow and continue to serve you in the best way possible. The others will drift off, usually without you even knowing.
Then you get to uni, you make a whole new family of friends and you think these friends are ‘the ones.’ As a friendship group, you go through so much together, and get a real taste of adulthood. You ‘love’ your friends, you can’t imagine your life without them and that your crew that goes out to sing karaoke and heads to the beach for a hungover swim will be like this forever. And just when you think you’ve found your crew for life, you graduate, people continue to grow, they move away, you grow apart and you figure out, again, that friendship is an ever changing force that will continue to challenge and support you.
Professional: Still figuring it out
And then you adjust to full time work. Your friendship circles become a little smaller, and it becomes a little easier to spend a night in, than heading out. And I am completely guilty of this. I need a lot of ‘me’ time and down time to reset. Adjusting to full time work is pretty exhausting, and that’s why I find myself bolting straight to my room after work and throwing myself on the bed to stare at the ceiling for 30 minutes. It’s my little after work routine and I seriously love it.
Nomadic, true friendships
When I think about my best friends, the people I would have at my wedding, fly across the world to be with if they asked for my help, give my left arm to, they’re the people that I don’t see or speak to everyday. And I think it’s because loyalty is something that doesn’t require constant maintenance. It’s like the Great Wall of China, built on a solid foundation and it will stand the test of times. I think these deep feelings of loyalty and friendship began when I was quite young.
Growing up, my family and I moved several times around Australia. Moving schools, saying goodbye to old friends and working up the courage to make some new ones. Back then, I’d write long letters to my old school friends about my gross new school uniform, what the popular girls looked like and how the snacks at the canteen compared (serious stuff). So over time, I became accustomed to my friends not always being physically close, but knowing that at any time, I could send them a letter with a life update and I’d get one in return about the boy they liked or how annoying their little sister was. I knew they were always there for me, as I was for them.
Adulting: Relationships that serve one another
Fast forward to my adult life, I enjoy moving, meeting new people, trying new things and making new memories. I know that not everyone will be around forever and that friendships change. And for me, the most successful friendships I have, are the ones that are a little like that beautiful little cactus on my window sill. It doesn’t take much to keep a strong friendship alive, because it’s tough af. Unlike the needy succulents sitting next to it that often require a lot of love, attention, water (but not too much. Those suckers are temperamental). Sure, those friendships can serve a purpose and help me grow, but at the end of the day, they’re not going to flourish on their own.
I like to think about life in retrospect. So, when I’m 30 what do I hoped to have achieve? And when I’m 60? On my deathbed? The thing that is reoccurring throughout all of these milestones, is that I want to be surrounded by positive, exciting, challenging, genuine and brave people. And for me, I want there to be as many people in this group as possible. People who bring out the absolute best in me, and in return, hopefully I can help them become the best version of themselves. I don’t believe there’s such thing as too many friends. There’s such thing as too many succulents that’s for sure.But the end of the day, I just want a few soulmates, far and wide, who will catch me when I fall and give me boost forward when I’m heading towards the stars. Oh and to share a cocktail or coffee with every so often.
Thankyou to the people who make me ‘me.’ I love you.
By the time you reach your mid-twenties (yes, I’ve just turned 25 and I’ve reached the next life stage of mid-twenties), you’re in a good swing of things. In your early twenties you tried new things, failed, succeeded, you figured it out and now you’re steadily moving through life quietly killing in. Your comfort zone is well and truly formed and you’re living in it. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but I’m not one for stagnating.
Earlier this year, whilst intoxicated at the pub, I somehow got caught up in a conversation where I signed up to play touch football. To many people, this may seem like a pretty normal conversation. But for me, I was immediately riddled with doubt, anxiety and fear. I had never played touch football before, I didn’t know the rules, I didn’t know all the girls on the team, basically I didn’t know what I was doing.
I guess working in a full time job, you get in a bit of a monotonous routine. Plus I’d noticed myself becoming a bit lazy. So in that moment at the pub, I thought this was the perfect way to get fit, make some new friends, but most importantly, try something new.
The whole day before my second game I was riddled with anxiety
About 20 minutes before our first game, I was frantically watching YouTube videos of how to play touch footy, the rules and how it all works. The first game I spent most of my time jogging up and down the wings, seeing how the game worked and observing/participating/scratching my head/panting.
The whole day before my second game I was riddled with anxiety, thinking about the 7:15 kick off and how I was absolutely terrified to go. All of these negative thoughts flooded my head. ‘The other girls think you’re shit. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re too unfit to play. You don’t know the rules. The other team is targeting you because they know you suck. Why are you even trying.’ I somehow made it to half time before I started to freak out. I was on the sideline and was honestly on the verge of tears. Why was I putting myself through this?
As I ran back onto the field, trying to bottle up these feelings, my team mate threw me the ball and I ran. To my absolute surprise, I dodged the other team and ran through several players. I continued running, not quite knowing what had even happened. Before I knew it, I put the ball down on the ground (that’s called a try), I turned around, and my team mates were cheering for me. Holy shit, I just scored a try!
People are just stoked you turned up
Whilst I didn’t score a try for the rest of the season, my anxiety reduced dramatically and by the end, I was actually looking forward to our touch games. And I’m so glad I pushed through the feelings of being uncomfortable and being filled with self-doubt.
Isn’t it funny how I tried something new and I immediately expected to be good at it? Like hello….. people train and learn rules of games for YEARS! It’s your first time ever playing, people are just stoked you turned up! And this is the part I’m trying to work on. The voice in my head doubting my ability and telling me to take a step back. I think back to all of the times I supported my friends trying new things, and how supportive, encouraging and patient I was. Why would I expect my friends to turn around and not reciprocate those thoughts?
At the end of the day, you can’t be good at everything, and you certainly can’t be good at something the first time you try it! I think in our twenties, we’re so used to being good that we’re so afraid to fail, we’re afraid to even try. That’s why I think it’s imperative that we try new things, we fail, we learn how to learn again, and be kind to ourselves.
When it’s 1am and you’ve had too many coffees, too many toasties from Panizi and you’re tapping away at your politics essay, graduation feels like a distant dream. Slowly but surely, every presentation, essay, report and participation mark add up and you’ve finally completed your degree. But there’s a few things that no one tells you about that magical moment you’ve been dreaming of. As someone who’s finished two degrees and is still trying to figure it all out, here are the things that no one tells you about finishing uni.
There’s no minions hiding in your laptop ready to celebrate the moment you hit submit on your final assignment
I remember submitting my last every essay. I was sitting in one of the computer labs in building 17. I pressed submit, took a deep breath, then looked around. Where were the balloons, sparklers and celebrations? I thought the day I submitted my Honours thesis, people around me would break into song and dance. Yet you’re sharply reminded that life goes on, people will continue to nap in South Wing, and sadly, it’s just another day (but for your – a really successful day).
Meeting new people becomes a lot more difficult
I never would have thought that those people I did a group assignment with in my first year would turn out to be my best friends, even now. And I never would have thought I’d still be in touch with the French exchange students I met through the French society. Whilst I like to consider myself a social person, it’s pretty difficult to meet new people once you’ve finished uni. In the professional world, there’s no lunch time uni bar sessions, no starting at 11 after a night out at the Illa, no awkward ice breakers with 25 other students in your class. But one thing uni taught me, is that new friends come from very unexpected places, you just have to make the effort.
What do you call yourself now?
After several years of putting ‘student’ on forms and applications under ‘career,’ you’re now a bit stuck. The most unique species of uni graduate are those who know exactly what they’re doing. This usually applied to those who studied teaching, nursing or engineering, they’re going to be a teacher, nurse or engineer. But what do you become when you study Communications and Media? International Studies? Arts? The beauty, and also the curse, is that there’s no one career for you, and no single career you can put on that form. The best thing about becoming a ‘communicationist’ or ‘international studies person’ is that you can be whatever you want to be.
Comparison-itis is not useful at all
When you finish uni and move in to the real world, and you don’t really know what you’re doing, you will find yourself looking around at your peers and freaking out a little. One of them has a grad position at a big corporation, one’s moving to Spain to teach English, one’s doing a Master’s degree, one’s moving to Melbourne and one’s getting married and starting their own business. Yep, there’s a lot of talented people graduating from UOW. And you’re one of them, even if you don’t have a plan or have it quite figured out, it’s important to stop comparing yourself to others and know that you’re on your own path. Chances are, your peers are looking at your achievements and questioning their own as well.
Fake it til you make it
After several years of being a student, adjusting to life without timetables, tutorials, research projects and Friday afternoons at the unibar, it’s pretty normal to be feeling a bit lost. At the end of the day, people everywhere are faking it til they make it. I’m lucky I’m working in a role that I enjoy, with people who are kind, supportive and inspiring. Am I in my dream job? Not yet. Am I changing the world? Not quite. But am I enjoying the ride? Absolutely! It’s scary and overwhelming finishing uni, always second guessing whether you’re ready, capable or if it’s right for you, but as the saying goes, fake it til you make it!
The thing no one tells you about uni, is that uni is truly a special time in people’s lives. If you belong to the UOW alumni group, we’re some of the lucky people in this world, to obtain a tertiary education at one of Australia’s finest institutions, and privileged to pursue further education. So when you get to wear that royal blue cap and gown, know that you’re leaving something amazing, but you’re more than prepared and capable of moving into the big wide world. Because one day, you won’t have to fake it anymore!
It’s no surprise that the media, celebrities, influencers, magazines and Instagram make it feel like us women are not sexy, fit, beautiful and hot enough. We’re not enough, full stop. Well if you’re new around here, you know that’s not quite my style. I am all for embracing our bodies, loving ourselves and giving the finger to anyone who makes us feel anything less than awesome.
After a recent conversation with some girlfriends about our bodies, I thought I had to get specific. Specifically stretch marks, cellulite and pimples. How they make me feel, how I deal with it and how I embrace them.
Now I’m not going to pretend I’m a medical expert. There are plenty of reliable sources out there to help you with all your medical questions. This is purely my experiences, thoughts and perspectives towards my body, so don’t go trying to tell me I’m wrong.
Firstly, I am a curvy woman. I am well aware of this. I became aware of this when I was about 11 years old. I distinctly remember walking to my year 5 class when I was living in Townsville. I was walking alongside a friend when two of my friends walking behind me started laughing. We stopped to ask what was funny and they said that it was funny that my legs wobbled when I walked.
When I took up ballet classes when I was 13, well, you could only imagine. I didn’t quite fit in with my stick thin classmates. I was told to suck in my stomach, tuck away my butt and focus on strengthening ‘the right’ muscles (aka not muscles that added to my curvy figure).
I’ll never forget being intimate with someone. We were getting down and they made a comment about how thick my legs were. In fact, on several occasions, people have thought that during this time is an appropriate time to comment on my body hair, my tummy, my butt, the size of my breasts and my curves (but not in a sexy way).
Added to this, my skin has been a pretty chaotic rollercoaster. I got my first acne break out when I was 11 years old. Yep 11. Tiny little Adelaide had sweat pimples scattered across her forehead. 13 years later and the breakout, pimples, acne scars haven’t gone away. I still have frequent breakouts and black heads (and yes I’ve tried Proactive and all those other toxic products, and they don’t work). I’m nearly 25 years old and pimples are very much a part of my life.
When it comes to stretch marks, I guess I got pretty lucky. Yes I faintly have them around my thighs, hips and butt. I don’t have them on my boobs (I’m still waiting to grow into my boobs), and I know I got off pretty easy with the stretch marks. I’ve witnessed my friends bodies grow and as a result, get stretch marks. I’ve seen them get embarrassed and feel ashamed, all for the little wriggles that tell the story of their growth.
Cellulite is a new addition to all this. It’s a strange one because us women are told that having cellulite = failure. Cellulite is something we should be afraid of, fear and reject whole heartedly. It’s something that’d decided to say hello to my thighs in recent years and become more prominent. Whilst no one has made any comments like they did when I was 11, from the way society comments on women’s bodies, I already know it’s not ‘acceptable.’
It’s hard to have all of these experiences, fears and judgement and still hold your head high. Whether we like it or not, people are pretty judgemental and make assumptions about your health, diet, skin care routine and fitness. As hard as it is to step back and brush it off, you’ve just gotta do it. Because it’s a million times better than the alternative.
It sucks that that we are made to feel ashamed of their bodies. It can completely eat people up. It can dictate the way we dress, whether we go to the beach or not, if we try a new sport or not, if we feel confident getting intimate with a partner, if we have that next slice of pizza or if we stand a certain way in a photo. There’s definitely been times in my life where I’ve felt down and insecure about my body. Times that I don’t feel pretty enough, sexy enough, thin enough or fit enough. But I refuse to let those insecurities dictate my life, my happiness and my worth.
We am so much more than our bodies. My body is a vessel that I choose to fuel and nourish. Sometimes with veggies and salad, and others with pizza and pies. I love going rock climbing, doing yoga or going for a walk, and I also love sleeping in all day and watching YouTube. I like to wear crop tops and mini-skirts, and I like to wear baggy shirts and be a complete dag. Whatever I’m doing or wearing, I just like to happy being me!
At the end of the day, life is so much bigger than a pimple on our chin, some stretch marks on our hips and parts of my body that wobble. Let’s focus on what’s really important, the smiles on our faces, the bounce in our steps, the energy we bring to the room and the way we make people feel. The important stuff. The stuff that reflects our kindness, compassion and excitement for life. I’d rather go my whole life with a giant pimple on my forehead and live my best life, than have clear skin and still be uncomfortable in in nit. Life is too short and too damn great. Wobbles and all!
If you’re interested, I made a little video a few years ago about my experiences living with acne (it’s super cringey because I made it in 2016 but hey check it out!).
Individually, we are one drop. Together we are the ocean.
On Sunday 10th March, I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do… attend an event about empowering, educating and inspiring badass women. All About Women is a festival celebrating women and our achievements whilst critically engaging in the global discussion surrounding gender inequality, and what it looks like for women around the world.
As I was on the train en route to Sydney, I firstly took some time to think about my experience as a woman in the world today. I am a proud feminist and feel relatively ‘woke’ about women’s issues in today’s society. But no matter your ‘wokeness’ level, if you’re a woman navigating today’s society, gender inequality affects each and every one of us in different ways. This is what gender inequality feels like in my everyday life;
I am terrified to walk home from the train station (5 minutes from home) at night.
I am scared of having my drink spiked when on a night out.
I feel ‘lucky’ for getting a job, rather than feeling I’ve ‘earned’ it.
I am labelled hysterical and psycho when I am angry or emotional.
I think twice about what I wear out, in case I attract unwanted attention.
I question my male friendships.
I get offended by trashy hip hop music videos.
I second guess when I hold hands with my girlfriend in public.
I’m constantly told my body is not sexy enough, slim enough or (insert health influencer buzzword here) enough.
I’m worried I won’t have enough superannuation when I retire.
I hold off disclosing my sexuality straight away.
My heart breaks every time I hear about a woman who has died at the hands of violence.
These are just some of the ways I do not feel equal in society. But being a white woman living in Australia, I know that my experiences are vastly different than those experiences of women of colour, transgender women, women with disabilities, women of faith and any woman who identifies as part of a minority.
This is why I wanted to attend this event. To hear, learn and grow from women whose experiences are different to mine, reflect and challenge my own knowledge, and think about what the future of feminism and gender equality looks like.
The Cut On Tuesdays featuring Clementine Ford
I attended a live recording of one of my favourite podcasts called ‘The Cut On Tuesdays.’ If you haven’t heard of it, and if you’re reading this blog, you will love it and I implore you to pause. go download. listen for the 40 minutes. come back. and say with me now. WOW!
I’ve never been to a live recording of a podcast, so I can truly say I had no idea what to expect. I attended with my friend Zina, and her Mum, which was a très cool duo to attend with. Under the beautiful arches of the Sydney Opera House, in the newly refurbished Utzon room, Molly Fischer brought the house down with her brilliant episode and presentation. With such a strong voice and even stronger ‘can do’ energy, I was immediately hooked. The fact that I could see Australian feminist icon, Clementine Ford, sitting in the front row, had me wriggling nearly off my seat!
Molly spoke about ‘women’s media.’ Everything from the sealed section in Cosmo, to the buzz word badass, to evolving from a fashion blog to a major political news company, now known as The Cut. When she invited Clementine Ford on stage to discuss gender and women’s rights here in Australia, I found myself nodding along to everything they were saying. As a young woman who recently graduated from a media and communications degree, it’s pretty inspiring to hear directly from the horses mouth, the experiences and challenges associated with being a woman in the media.
When the interview was wrapping up, Clementine Ford asked Molly what she thought of Australia and the way in which we treat women, after rather explicitly suggesting Australia is a rather sexist country. Her response was interesting. Whilst having only been in the country a few days, the first thing she mentioned was the luxury Australians have by having Medicare and universal health cover. Compared to the US, we are incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful system where a doctors appointment doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. It was also interesting to see them apply a feminist lens to healthcare. Women’s rights are human rights and society as a whole benefits when women are treated equally. It was pretty damn awesome to be in a room where I felt excited by the challenge of being a woman with a passion for the media and the critical ability to engage with it.
Wokeness and Radness: Ayishat Akanbi and Jan Fran
The next session I attended was titled the ‘The Problem With Wokeness,’ presented by Jan Fran and Ayishat Akanbi. My first question was, well what is wokeness? And is there a problem with it?
I think the first time I came across the term ‘woke,’ was Childish Gambino’s Redbone, with the line ‘Stay woke, n*ggers creepin. They gon’ find you. Gon’ catch you sleepin.’ Fast forward a few years and being woke is one of the trendiest things you can be. Upon doing some light research before this talk, I found that ‘woke’ or ‘staying woke’ originates from American people of colour about racial injustice in the US with regards to police brutality. Woke is the past tense of ‘to wake,’ implying that wokeness equates to waking up to yourself and the world around you. Seeing the world for what it really is in all its messiness. Now, wokeness equals being aware of various social injustices affecting our communities and livelihoods.
So… what’s the problem with it? Well I must admit, I was so completely absorbed by her conversation and what she had to say, that I stopped taking notes and decided to just take it in. But one of the biggest takeaways is that she argues that wokeness has stripped us of our compassion. At the end of the day, regardless of our identities, we are painfully similar and have a lot more in common that we could believe. Compassion is fundamental for creating empathy and real connections with people who are similar to use yet have experienced the world in a different way to us.
I learnt that you really can’t be woke about everything. At the end of the day, we will never truly understand everyone’s unique experiences of the world. Oppression and inequality affects people in many ways. It’s up to us to listen, learn, be allies and speak up. I learnt it’s also not worth your time or energy to argue with people who are less intelligent than you. And by less intelligent, I mean, stupid idiot internet trolls who have already made up their mind and will attack you to break you. I found this enlightening because it’s a reminder to not always take things personally. That people can be passionate about a situation, whilst being respectful to you. And when they’re not, they’re not worth your time.
Ayishat also recommended if you want to have real conversations and attempt to really debate ideas, then leave your DM’s open. It’s funny how reactionary people are in the comments section. They type first and think later. In the DM’s, it’s a whole other story. People are respectful, polite and articulate. Even when disagreeing on a topic. I honestly believe this is how you have meaningful conversations that lead towards long term change.
I left the Festival feeling incredibly inspired yet apprehensive. It’s kinda crazy attending an event where everyone there is like minded, especially in the fight for gender equality, and then you leave the safety of your bubble and realise that there are some not so woke people out there. But the takeaway is that there are people out there. Fighting the hard fight, speaking out and standing up.
We’re not there yet, and we’ve got a long way to go, but in the meantime we can lift each other up and enjoy the ride.
OK I’m pretty ashamed to admit that I am completely and totally hooked on the cringe-worthy Married At First Sight (MAFS). There’s nothing quite like plonking myself on the couch after a long day of work and switching off my critical mind and switching on to people’s mediocre drama. And whilst this season has sparked a lot of controversies, cue Innes emotionally abusing her partner, Dino recording his partner’s phone call, Cyrell lashing out at Martha. Despite all these controversies and the heated reactions of the public, the one thing I have a bone to pick with is MAFS’ creation of the crazy woman.
Firstly, a disclaimer, I am not condoning any of the, quite frankly, disgusting behaviour shown on MAFS by anyone. But I think it’s important to question why all the drama and the ‘crazy ones’ are women. And yes, I’m well aware that this ‘reality TV show’ isn’t actually reality (if those dramatic edits don’t give it away I don’t know what does), but it does reflect society back to us as we watch through the screens. So whether it’s heavily edited or not, what’s shown to us is pretty damn important. And what I’m critical of is their blatant creation of the crazy woman. Lastly, who knows if the people on this are real people looking for love, actors, or crazy robots, but what is portrayed to me, and millions of nightly viewers, is that this is some kind of a reflection of real life.
MAFS have seriously created the ‘crazy woman.’ From Innes, to Elizabeth, Cyrell to Martha, Susie to Jessika, this season is loaded with ‘crazy women.’ Not only are they the centre of and cause of all of the drama and scandals on the show, but they’re pinned against each other. Who’s hotter, who’s got bigger lips, bigger boobs, a better relationship with their husband, can be bitchier towards one another? It’s all a competition and the men just sit back and soak it all up.
I find some of the things said by the men on the show very problematic, that are often overlooks by the ‘psychologists’ on the show. When Mike speaks like he knows it all, telling Heidi to calm down and not take responsibility for what he’s done or said, it makes me cringe and my blood boil. When Dino records his wife on the phone, when Matthew freaks out about Lauren’s sexuality… there’s a lot of ‘crazy’ stuff going on there that is completely overlooked and overshadowed by the apparent craziness of their wives.
What I don’t understand, is that yes, these producers apparently have a lot of power up their sleeve. From filming a scene for hours until someone states they ‘used to be a lesbian,’ or making ridiculous comments, why the hell is this power being used for the same old, boring, predictable shit? I understand it’s easy and a cheap laugh, but seriously, don’t you want to be a part of something bigger? Better? Why not create the character (because they all are characters) of a smart, intelligent, complex woman? Why not address issues that mean a lot to Australians? What about unemployment, unaffordable housing rates, our fears of climate change, where our clothes come from, or the rise of veganism?
It seems that the only people who have shown a hint of vulnerability and talking about something meaningful is Nick and his victory with cancer and Bronson who lost several family members. Even Matthews ‘virgin status,’ that could have been a really beautiful moment to discuss male sexuality and the pressure of modern dating. But no, he was labelled ‘Matthew the virgin,’ or ‘Matthew the ex-virgin.’ (I’m sorry but doesn’t literally everyone on this planet falls into one of those two categories? It’s really not a defining characteristic – they would have been better off saying ‘Matthew the brunette.’) It’s awesome that they’re creating complex, emotional and vulnerable men, but why do the women have to fall under the category of hot, crazy or wife material?
I think it’s a difficult topic because we usually tune in to reality TV shows to switch our brains off, but that doesn’t mean we should switch our standards and values off too. Even the Kardashians are capable of addressing bigger problems (cue family break up, relationships, childbirth, trans women, homelessness, sex tapes and lost earrings). And that’s saying something.
If there’s any light at the end of the tunnel, we know it’s Cam and Jules (I swear if I find out they’re involved in any scandals I will scream in unison with the rest of Australia). They’re the ‘parents’ of the show and the sweethearts who treat each other with respect, honesty and compassion. Jules talked about the importance of children in her future and how that was a deal breaker for her (many women go through this moral dilemma). And Cam talked about his height insecurity, and tendency to put his career before his love life. These are both things that many Australians can relate to and can spark simple and productive conversation.
No, I’m not expecting too much from MAFS or any other reality TV show. You can still have the drama, the scandals and the crazy characters. You can keep your drama, scandals and crazy characters, but please don’t make them all about women!