The subtle art of saying no

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.’

Image result for i'm busy gif

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.

Image result for no thank you gif

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 do.

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 doing
  • 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 specifically?
  • 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!

I’ll be there for you: What friendship looks like to me

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 Shameless podcast, 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.

University: Soulmate

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.

How to push your comfort zone in your mid-twenties

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.

You may even surprise yourself and score a try!

The things no one tells you about finishing uni

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!

Stretch Marks, Cellulite and Pimples Oh My! A Girl’s Journey To Love Her Body

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!).

MAFS and the Creation of the ‘Crazy Woman’

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!

8 Things I Love About Myself

Yep, you read the title right, this blog post is publicly owning up to the things I love about myself. And before you think, OMG here she goes, just think about the last time you had an open and honest conversation with yourself and thought ‘damn, I really love that about me!’ It’s probably been a while. In fact, some of you may never have actually verbalised the things that you love about yourself.

With Valentine’s Day come and gone, and it seems love is in the air. So I thought I would try this little exercise to show myself some self-love and challenge you to list 3 things you love about yourself!

I love being a redhead

I seriously believe that being a redhead is now a part of my identity. It’s funny because growing up I was teased and ridiculed for being a ranga. But now I freakin love it! I couldn’t imagine having any other hair colour. I love that I’m unique and stand out in a crowd (I don’t exactly love that it means I’m sensitive af to the sun but I guess that’s part of the package). I love that some of my best friends are redheads and seriously we are a force to be reckoned with.

I love that I have a healthy relationship with food

If you know me, then you know that I LOVE food. Food is a freakin way of life and I’m always looking forward to my next meal or snack. It makes me so sad when I see people who are self-conscious, picky or have a troubling relationship with food. Food is literally fuel for your body. We need it. So we might as well enjoy it! Of course, eating a balanced diet is crucial but I don’t see the point in beating yourself up about having that extra row of chocolate (or eating the whole block). Or cutting yourself off from some delicious French cheese. Or saying no to that fourth slice of pizza. Seriously, life is too short not to enjoy the goodness of food.

I love my passion

I am an incredibly passionate person. I get excited about the littlest of things. If you’re going to do a job then you might as well do it the best you can. And for me, that means being passionate about my work, my commitments and activities. When I get behind a cause, there’s no stopping me!

I love that I am supportive

I’ve always said that I’m the best secondary someone could have. I think it’s because I don’t always like leading the way and being out in front, but I can absolutely get behind someone, push them, believe in them and enjoy their success. Whether it be my friends business selling coasters, cards and cheese boards, my friends earring business, my friends band, my friends music performance, their race, their new job, their upcoming travel, their engagement… I am 110% there! I love the people that surround me and I genuinely believe in people and I want to see them succeed.

I love my curves

Oh baby this has taken a long time but I feel that I’m finally in a place where I love my body and I really couldn’t imagine myself not having curves. I feel like I’ve ‘grown in’ to my body and I feel like a woman. It’s pretty damn awesome and it’s something I’m sharing because I think we all need to have better relationships with our bodies. This isn’t to say that ‘I’m hot’ or that I think I have a perfect body – of course I have insecurities. Everyone does. But when I love my body I feel so much better in every other aspect of my life than when I hate it. We have to believe that we’re given our body for a reason and we simply have to own it.

I love that I’m ‘Worldly’

Some of you may not know that A Worldly Addiction, started as a travel blog to share my experiences galavanting around Europe. But it was also created with the idea of exploring new ways of thinking and new experiences. I love that I’ve had the opportunity to travel and study overseas. I love my curious and inquisitive nature. I love that I’ve been to many beautiful countries and I love that I have many more on my bucket list.

I love that I can have long-distant friendships

OK so I generally hate having to say goodbye to friends and it sucks not being able to see them regularly, but one thing I’m proud of is my ability to maintain friendships across the seven seas and for years. I’m really secure in my friendships and I know the value of my relationships. I feel so lucky to have incredible friends no matter the time or distance.

I love my empathy and vulnerability

I think I’ve got a really great sense of empathy – in fact – sometimes a little too much. I’m highly emotional, and yes I cry from time to time, but like to believe it’s because I’m able to put myself in other people’s shoes. No matter the situation, I can stay calm and respectful of people’s feelings and experiences. And I love the fact that I’m vulnerable and open about my own feelings and experiences – heck, I’m dedicating this whole post to it!

Over to you…

I challenge you to share at least 3 things you love about yourself!

Keepin’ it casual: Casualization of the workforce

Casualization of the workforce. You may have heard of it. Permanent, full-time jobs are becoming increasingly hard to come by and are being replaced by insecure and uncertain jobs. Being a millennial and working casually kind of work hand in hand. Balancing study, a social life and a few days of work a week, well it just works. But what happens when it’s not quite working anymore? At the end of the day, casualization can make your work feel unvalued, make you feel unsure of your future and make it difficult to apply for permanent positions and credit cards. After five years of working casually, here’s my rant and here’s how I navigate the uncertain world of casual work.

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Expectations

When I’ve worked casually, it’s never been quite casual. I’ve had immense responsibility and been expected to work on certain projects on certain days and certain hours. Whilst I welcome EVERY opportunity with enthusiasm, excitement and a can-do attitude, it’s hard to not feel pressure when there are such high expectations of you.

Sick of no sick leave

I get that it’s kind of the whole deal with casual work. No leave, no sick days, nothing. So you go to work when you shouldn’t because you’re sick. You push yourself when you shouldn’t because you can’t afford to take a day off. And you run yourself to the ground with no bonus.

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Casual employment working against you

So you’re looking for a permanent job to have some sort of security in your life (crazy right?). It turns out that being a casual employee can work against you. Recently, I’ve been looking for jobs with a bit more security within my organisation. I came across a fixed-term position that was PERFECT! It was similar to the position I’m currently doing and would’ve been an exciting new opportunity. But no, you had to already be on a fixed-term or permanent contract. I just don’t understand how you’re immediately ineligible purely because you’ve only ever worked casually?! Again it’s the feeling like your work and your commitment is not valued by the institution. You’re ‘in’ when they want you in, but you’re out, you’re gone in an instant.

People treat you like milk, you’ve got an expiry date

I find that the most difficult thing about working casually is that people know and remind you that you have an expiry date. It stops you from reaching your full potential and taking complete ownership of projects. I totally understand because it would be pretty shit having someone come in, change and initiate projects, and then leave. But what if they don’t want to leave? What if they want to stick around and make a real difference? Unfortunately, it just feels like my talent and skills are wasted.

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Holidays whenever you want

Believe it or not, there’s a benefit to being employed casually and that is… holidays whenever you want*!!! Oh shit, right, I forgot that conditions apply. *Technically, you can holiday whenever you want. But you do so with the risk of not coming back to a job. Oh, and of course, it’s not paid because you don’t have leave. If you wish to have time off when it’s busy, it’s likely they won’t be happy.

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You might just think that I’m complaining. I want to be clear and say that I am incredibly grateful for the chance to work and earn an income. I’ve had it pretty damn good, I love my job, I love who I work for and I love who I work with. The reason I’m writing this post is because there are many people who aren’t so lucky. And one day, that could be me. My Dad always said that when you’re casual, your contract ends the minute you clock off and starts again the next morning (if there’s a next morning). The matter of fact is, that casuals are unfairly relied upon and that reliance is growing.

Sure this has short-term implications and leads to a bit of frustration. But it also has serious long-term consequences. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the University of Wollongong is comprised of 71% casual employees. That is INSANE! Call me crazy, but don’t you think that universities should be investing in the wellbeing, happiness and retention of hard-working, passionate employees to contribute back to a thriving, world-class institution?

The way I see it, one day, I’ll move on. I’ll be another number on their register that is no longer submitting fortnightly timesheets and they’ll replace me with another number. I’ll invest my passion, enthusiasm, skills and dedication to another employer. And if I can’t find one, then I’ll invest it back into myself. It’s a harsh but necessary reminder that in life, especially your working life, you have to look after yourself. You have to keep your best interests in mind and you have to be your own biggest supporter.

I’ve loved working casually and it’s opened some amazing opportunities for me. And I’m happy to keep working casually whilst I save my money, especially whilst I have my Gap Year 2.0. But I’m not sure about living my life with such uncertainty in employment. It doesn’t quite work for me.

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[A big thanks to all of the incredible colleagues who make me feel more than my employee type and make me feel valued, supported, encouraged and creative!]

Why immigration is everyone’s business

Being able to live, work and travel overseas is seen by many Australians as a rite of passage. A gap year in London, a Contiki around Europe, a roadtrip around California, a ‘finding yourself’ backpacking trip across South America. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, us Aussies seem to find it.

Now imagine having a Honduran passport and having similar aspirations. To find a good job to support your family, to have a taste of the American dream, to explore what else life has to offer. You can’t get a visa to go to the US because you’re from Latin America and you don’t meet the eligibility criteria, that is if you could afford to get there. War-like violence explodes on the streets of Tegucigalpa (capital of Honduras). In 2012, Honduras had the highest murder rate in the world due to gang-related violence, so obviously it’s not the best neighbourhood to raise children. You’ve got an uncle in California and think you might just have a chance of providing a better life for your family if you make it the dangerous 3,700km. For some, the American dream will always be just that. A Dream. Funny how a passport can dictate more than your boozy South East Asian travel plans… 

With so many policy changes, executive orders and Tweets pumping out of the US, you’d be forgiven for being angry, confused and quite overwhelmed with the current immigration crisis unfolding. Things are changing everyday, every hour and it’s confronting to see so much pain and suffering simply because someone is trying to cross a border. Sometimes it’s a little easier to step back into your comfortable cocoon of Netflix and burritos and switch off. Immigration crisis’ happen all the time right? It’s easy to think that this doesn’t affect you and therefore it’s not your problem. But immigrant rights are human rights. And these human rights are being routinely violated right now along the 3000km US-Mexico border. Now more than ever, we need to remain focused and pay attention. Here’s why this immigration crisis is everyone’s business.  

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The US has the largest number of migrants on the planet. In 2017, there were 86.4 million migrants making up 27% of the total US population1. The US, much like Canada and Australia, is a nation of immigrants, of course acknowledging the first nations people in each of these countries. Yet since 1965, immigration policy in the US has become increasingly restrictive, especially towards people escaping poverty and violence. Isn’t it ironic that the Statue of Liberty says;  

‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.’  

Much of the recent media attention has been centered on apprehensions at the border, including the separation of approximately 2,000 children from their parents between 18th April and 31st May 2018. The act of separating families at the border was implemented under Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy to ‘crackdown’ on ‘illegal’ migration. The idea is to punish people who have broken the law and act as a deterrence to thousands more considering crossing the border. But does border enforcement and these crackdowns mean we will see a reduction in the number of people attempting to cross the border? Think of our Honduran man with not many other viable options. It will not.  

In fact, ‘illegal’ migration to the US has continued to grow. In 1986, there was an ‘illegal’ population of 3 million. In 2016, there was 11.3 million, despite the fourfold increases in hours spent patrolling the border and a twenty fold increase in funding. And what about these 11.3 million ‘illegal’ people currently living in the US?  This population come from primarily Central America with 56% of them being of Mexican nationality, followed by 7% from Guatemala, 4% from El Salvador, 3% from Honduras and 2% from China. It is an assumption that if you are an ‘illegal’ immigrants, you have ‘illegally’ the border. Whilst this is a reality for some, the majority of ‘illegal’ migrants entered the US legally with appropriate documentation and authorization, yet overstay their visas or permits and vanish. But we all know that human beings do not simply vanish into thin air. Instead, the 11.3million people without the security of residency status, live in the shadows.  

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Despite all odds, a small proportion of migrants have been able to ‘come out of the shadows’ and fight for their rights as contributing members of American society. Under an immigration policy called DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals), approximately 800,000 ‘illegal’ migrants. These migrants are often referred to as ‘DREAMer,’ named after the failed DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). DREAMers receive protection against deportation and family separation, applying to those who entered the US ‘illegally’ when they were children. Whilst this temporary protection allows them access to healthcare, get a driver’s license and apply for a social security number, it most importantly gives them a sense of security in a country that they’ve called home nearly their whole life.  But their sense of security is threatened as Trump calls to terminate DACA and deport ‘illegal’ migrants from the US, whilst sending a clear message at the border that ‘illegal’ migrants, specifically from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, are not welcome.  

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Across the US, thousands of people are uniting for comprehensive immigration reform to drastically change the ways the US deal with ‘illegal’ migration. To put an end to children being separated from their parents, people dying from dehydration in the desert, people not able to obtain a driver’s license, people being prosecuted and deported, and families are torn apart. The immigrant rights movement is loud. These people may be undocumented, but they are unafraid. Other groups like the LGBTQI community, the Black Lives Matter movement and the Women’s movement, stand together in solidarity. Because immigrant’s rights are human rights. 

Privileged Australians like you and me will never understand the anxiety and distress experienced by millions of people without legal residency status, or fleeing political violence and persecution, or have our families separated due to mass deportations. But people like you and me can raise our voices in solidarity with these people and say this is inhumane, this is unjust, and this must stop. Whilst America is in the limelight, we must not overlook the immigration crisis’ happening all across the world and on our doorstep. Libyans drowning in the Mediterranean, Syrians escaping to refugee camps in Lebanon, Rohingya pleading for acceptance in Bangladesh, Hondurans running from violent gangs, and Afghani men, women and children detained on remote island prisons run by Australia. In our current state of immigration crisis, perhaps we need to look to those fighting in the US and DREAM of a better world.  

 I originally wrote this article for The Tertangala

 

 

 

The Art of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something that is not often talked about. Mainly because: A-  we like to avoid all confrontational situations and B – we don’t want anything bad to happen to us that requires forgiving. But as we all know, life is a bitch and sometimes you find yourself in situations you’d rather not be in. Whether someone has hurt you, lied, cheated, betrayed or fucked you over, at some stage in our lives, we will be confronted with the reality of ‘moving on’ and faced with the fear of forgiveness.

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Forgiveness does not equal weakness

Maybe a reason we don’t discuss forgiveness and aren’t always willing to forgive, is because we think it implies weakness or needing to apologise. But in fact, I believe the opposite. To forgive is to have the strength to acknowledge your true feelings and confront those feelings head on (which we know can be extremely difficult). It also doesn’t entail apologising. I feel like in today’s society we are always expected to apologise, it’s such a default position to fall to. Saying sorry is almost too easy. Meaning and showing it is much harder. Forgiveness is accepting and letting go of something that someone else is sorry about, it is releasing them, and yourself from the anguish.

An opportunity to let go

Forgiveness is a pathway to inner peace. With it, you let go of negative emotions and is your way of saying that I am OK and ready for a future of happiness.

Selflessness

Forgiveness means that you have the ability to put someone else’s thoughts and feelings front and centre. It’s wishing them the best for the future (and actually meaning it). This is probably the most difficult part of forgiveness. Why would you want the best for someone who has hurt you? Sometimes we secretly wish the absolute worst for that person. But we know that those negative thoughts aren’t going to get us very far in life. Before you know if you’re caught up in revenge and jealousy that you lose sight of what you really want. Being selfless in this way, and wishing the best for someone is probably the hardest part of forgiveness. But once you do, it reinforces your inner peace and reflects your consideration for others, whilst respecting yourself.

Forgiveness is a process

Forgiveness is a process and processes take time. You cannot simply decide to forgive someone nor can you force it to happen. Sometimes confronting these feelings is extremely challenging, particularly if someone has hurt you. There’s expiration or time limit on this, your heart will tell you when you’re ready. Because it’s only when you’re ready, are you then able to move on.

Moving on

At the end of the day, holding on to these feelings of anxiety, worry, hurt and pain are not going to benefit you in any way. You need to consider what you want and where you want to be in life and think if those feelings, thoughts and people are going to positively contribute to your life. If they’re going to hold you back, then it’s time to let go. Letting go can be difficult and so can moving on. But letting go of these horrible feelings that are holding you back, well damn just you wait until they’re lifted off of your shoulders. You’ll soon be a lighter, happier and more peaceful person.

 

Alanis Morissette said it best

Like Alanis Morissette said ‘you’re forgiven, not forgotten.’ Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget about it the hurt and pain, because let’s be honest, sometimes it’s pretty hard to forget. And it’s important not to, we live and we learn, and we learn and we grow. These moments test and challenge us to our core. So it’s important to remember what you’re able to overcome and achieve, because then you’ll be equipped for the next time. And if there’s a next time, you’ll know exactly how to get through it with grace.

 

At the end of the day, no one has time for such negativity. The art of forgiveness will vary with each situation, but I believe that forgiveness is truly an art.  It looks different to everyone and everyone has their opinion on it, but all that matters is that it looks beautiful and peaceful to you.  Mastering the art of forgiveness is not easy, but little by little, you’ll be able to let go of those feelings and put yourself back to where you want to be.