fear

versus head versus heart.

 

Three little words.

Three little words with the maddening power to make my rib cage expand to bursting point.

Three little words that have been ricocheting between my thoughts for days. But now the days have melted into weeks and, to my horror, months.

These words have been haunting me for months; they’ve been with me as I’ve stood waiting for the lights, climbed the escalator and strolled the grocery aisles. They have invaded my existence.

I don’t know.

(more…)

Advertisements

a step into the unknown.

Scene from “Duck Soup” (1933).

Confessional: despite the fact that I blog about my love life, I actually have very little relationship experience.

Yeah, ironic, I know. Or perhaps that’s doesn’t come as a surprise at all… (Hmm. Let’s not dwell on that, ok?) Also, please do not use my blog as relationship advice. That would be a very bad idea.

(more…)

the tear.

Lost in choices.

Image

Serving suggestion: This post is best read with “Eye of the Needle” by Sia playing in the background.

I should have known it was coming; it had been bubbling away under the surface throughout the day. Just a faint little scratch on my back where even my disproportionately long arms cannot reach.

It hit me as I was standing there surrounded by strangers. It had been a while since its last visit, but here it was again as the bleached white horizon melted into a majestic, luminous blue. What were once trees were now shadowy silhouettes in this twilight puppet show.

Here we all are – standing centimetres away from each other, whilst only paying our palms any regard. We wouldn’t be able to hear what our neighbour said even if they did say anything. Those white cords are so tangled up in everything now.

****

I have been drafting this blog post, on and off, for nine months.

Nine months.

It was nine months ago that this new reality suddenly clarified itself. And when it did, it all became rather petrifying.  

It began with the realisation that I am nearing the end of my current life stage. It is all fairly insignificant, but in this moment it feels so daunting. See, up until now there was such a limited range of choices:

You can choose to go to this school or that school. You can choose to be friends with this person or that person, this group or that group. You can choose to break the rules or toe the line. You can choose to go into a trade or stay at school. You can go on a gap year or work or go to university. You can choose to dress how you like. You can choose to study, basically, anything. You can choose to be friends with these people or those people. You can choose where you work part-time. You can choose where you want to live. You can choose to change jobs. You can choose what you consume, literally and metaphorically. 

But the next set of choices is bewildering.

You can choose what you want to do with the rest of your life. You can choose which industry you want to work in. You can choose to travel the world without a return ticket. You can choose to think about the future and save up for your first property. You can choose to move to the other side of the world. You can choose, well, anything.

It just feels like these decisions are going to have so many more repercussions, that they are going to be far more instrumental in determining the tone of the rest of my life than all of the decisions I have made prior to today.

****

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Ahh, kindergarten cliches.

I cannot clearly remember what I “wanted to be” as a kid. Although, I have a vague feeling that there was a stage when I wanted to be a marine biologist (mainly because it sounded exotic). Apart from that I can’t seem to remember, which for someone who often has a disturbingly detailed memory, is mildly disconcerting. I can vividly recall posters on our kindergarten walls, but I can’t remember what I wanted to grow up to be.

These days I have a better idea of what I want to be. And by “better idea” I mean “I have an answer to the “So, what are you going to do when you finish uni?” question”.
“Marketing,” I reply. That seems to satisfy all parties. And, look, it’s not like I don’t want to work in marketing. I do. I think I do, at least. I mean, it combines many of my skills and interests, plus it is a growing industry where, in relative terms, there are jobs available (the novelty!) I think I can see myself doing well in marketing and enjoying it to a greater or lesser extent.

To a greater or lesser extent.

Unfortunately, I am blessed and cursed with having learnt about the concept of fulfilling work. On the one hand, it is wonderful and inspiring. On the other, I am letting it paralyse me, because now, although I try to rationalise it, that is what I am seeking.

I am going to start working full-time in the near future – something which many of my peers have already been doing for multiple years – and I just want to know that I am making the right decision for me. I feel like I’ve wasted enough of my early twenties farting around as I struggled through uni (and life in general).

I guess I’ve allowed myself to think that my twenties are the only formative time of my life. Yes, I think they are very formative, but I’ve gotten this idea in my head that I have to get through a heck of a lot of stuff in the next seven years. Lord.

****

Where within the marketing industry should I work? Should I work in media or branding or PR or digital? Should I work agency or client side? Are all of the stereotypes about client and agency sides true? (My experience thus far says “yes”.) Will the work that I do actually make a positive contribution to the world? Will I enjoy it? Will it be fulfilling? Or will it govern my life? Will I chase after success and then realise that it doesn’t actually mean that much?

Or should I just take advantage of the fact that I am young and go and pursue my dream of living in Italy? Should I just ship my ass over to Italia and not look back? But what about buying my investment property? And getting started on my career? And doing sensible setting-myself-up-for-life things that I want to do? And what if I don’t ever come home?

That I have the audacity to complain is, in many ways, truly breathtaking. 

I am in the privileged, incredibly privileged position where I have choice. My pay, even if it’s seen as a “low” starting salary among my equally junior peers, will still place me amongst the most wealthy in the world. My work may not be as glamorous or interesting as that of others, but I’ll probably work in a safe, reasonably friendly workplace with my own computer, stationery galore, clean(ish) carpets, a swivel chair, bins which are emptied on a regular basis, flushing toilets, a kitchen, running water and air-conditioning. There may not be that many women in the boardroom – yet – but women are, on the whole, respected and treated as equals.

Yet, despite all of this, I look ahead and wonder whether I am going to be in the air-conditioned confines of an office for the rest of my foreseeable future with despair. And I wonder, if I choose to channel my ambitions and energy into this part of my life am I going to get to the end of my life – whether that be months, years or decades away – and be satisfied with how I spent the precious little time that I have on this Earth?

****

The buses, these great mammoths, weave through impossibly tight cracks in the traffic. The doors open and we, with our white cords dangling around our scarf-wrapped necks, silently file in. Will I come to know each of these faces, will I watch them silently age, but never know their names?

There are only remnants of burnt orange along the horizon now and what was a royal blue has been submerged in a midnight ink. Where did the sunshine go? I barely know what the weather was like today. Is this what being an adult is meant to be like?

****

The tear. It’s another one of those idiosyncrasies of the English language: it is both a noun (the water-like result of crying which comes from your eyes), a verb (to rip something) and yet another noun (the result of the ripping). 

This is the latter noun; this is my tear: I am unsure which direction to take my life in. I would really just like to be able to do it all. Or at least to do something and know that I was making the right decision for me, knowing that I wasn’t making a terrible mistake and wasting another irretreivable day.

And, ironically, this tear can sometimes result in another noun: the water-like droplets which carve out their path through my makeup. 

Alex x

I don’t want to say no.

The heartbreaking realisation that you have to say no.

Image

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”
– Dirty Harry, Magnum Force (1973)

“A man’s got to know his limitations, and a woman’s got to know hers too.”
– Dirty Harry ft. Alex.

 

Yes.

It was all about saying yes. (more…)

words, actions and the vast chasm in between.

Dissecting a state of paralysis.

ImagePhoto courtesy of Jeen Na.

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”
– Simone de Beauvoir

“Live the life that you want to live today.”
– Just some words I wrote on a piece of paper which I then stuck on my wall

****

Funnily enough, writing this post has me thinking about this one time when I was squished in the backseat of a stranger’s car with three other people in the middle of the night driving along empty streets. As you do. 

At the party we had just left my friend and I had – unbeknownst to each other – both been eyeing off umm flirting with politely chatting to the most attractive guy there. At the conclusion of the evening he kissed one of us while the other was collecting their stuff. Then, in the car on the way home, someone else in the car shared that he had told her that he was interested in one of the Sydney girls… the one he didn’t kiss.

Oh, and at this point in time I was more or less sitting on top of this friend (seeing as we were still doing the sardine-in-the-backseat-without-seat-belts-oh-my-god-such-rebels thing).

Awkward.

“Words and actions,” I said loud enough for her to hear, looking straight ahead.

****

I am not wise; I pretend to be wise. I can rattle off things which certainly sound wise, much to my father’s annoyance. Why does this irritate him? Because wisdom without discipline is futile. And I epitomise wisdom without discipline.

See, I may know what’s good for me, but do I actually employ any of these tidbits of awesome into my own life?

Ahh no. I can definitely vouch for the fact that it’s a no. Ok, no need to be overly enthusiastic, Alex. A simple “no” was sufficient.

Want some examples?

Do I know that ice-cream is not a “health food”? Yes.
And so what did your diet consist of over your recent break? Umm. Ice cream. Maybe. Perhaps. Definitely. Yeah, so mainly ice cream.

Do you know that exercising on a more regular basis would improve your fitness, energy levels, skin, mood and overall health? Yes, I do know that.
And how many times have you exercised this week, Alex? Ahh minus twice. (I didn’t even know that was possible.)

Do you know how to make more financially responsible decisions so that you can save money for travel? Yes, it’s called not going on Asos.
And did you receive yet another parcel from Asos yesterday? Ahh yes. Yes, I did.

Do you know that going to bed earlier is immeasurably good for your health and wellbeing? Yeah, I feel ah-mazing after getting an early night.
And how often do you do this? Twice a year… max.

Do you know that you gain very little from sitting at your laptop? (Well, apart from testing the strength of your self-esteem by playing peer-comparison games on Facebook and knowing every detail of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe.) I’m sure that my stalker-esque knowledge of Kate’s wardrobe will come in handy one day. It will, I swear.

My saving grace is that I do drink water and I floss my teeth on a semi-regular basis (which is better than “never”, right?)

****

I am full of words. My words create blog posts, but they do not generate actions. I talk a good game. I’ve read hundreds of articles about a) fitness b) health c) getting what you want out of life d) being a better person e) blah blah blah.

I don’t need any more knowledge (seeing as nearly all of the articles can be reduced to the same thesis). I have all of the major building blocks I need. Perhaps lots of life stuff isn’t that complicated, but that we make it complicated so that we don’t have to can postpone tackling our issues… (Please note that that was an inadvertent “I am Alex and I am so wise” comment. See what I’m talking about?!)

Yet I prefer to read articles similar to previous articles about “Living Your Best Life”, rather than actually making changes so that I do live my best life. I have all of the tools already sitting in my handbag (or head). It’s just that I choose to not use them.

Why the hell not, Alex?!

I don’t know. That’s exactly what I’m trying to work out.

Insert literal thinking time here. 

(Disclaimer: I am about to sound like an arrogant twat.) I know that I can do it. I know what I’m capable of and I have a firm belief in my capabilities. I can put my words into actions. I have the drive, willpower and discipline to achieve my goals. I know this because I’ve already proven it to myself. I took all of those traits to the th degree. Which was only very detrimental.

Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps I’m afraid of what my life will become if I fully exercise the full force of my willpower again. I’m afraid that allowing the tidbits of wisdom I have amassed to be transformed into action will turn me into the obsessive person I was. And that scares me and if that’s what would happen I’d much prefer to stay being the unhealthy, hypocritical, arrogant person that I am, thank you very much.

If I put into action the things that I want to be a part of my life my life would be an Instagram feed of green smoothies, early morning runs, national park walks, camping trips, quinoa salads, piles of books I’d (metaphorically) devoured, sunshine, a chic yet rustic apartment, fresh morning air, travel, limbering limbs, laughter, healthy/#clean/gourmet meals, fresh flowers, lunch break walks, re-established evening rituals, organic protein balls, a vintage bike and seeing the stars out in the countryside.

It sounds glorious. And pretty damn healthy and happy. And sickeningly virtuous.

The only thing is that I’m not very skilled in virtue.

I hope I’ll get there. No, I will get there in time, but it’s going to take time. Seeing as I’ve written this post I can’t feasibly get away with doing nothing now (it’s harder to be a hypocrite when you have an audience) I’ll just have to keep taking some very small steps in the meantime.

But until I get past my fear I’ll just have to content myself with watching other people project the beautiful, organic life they (want all of their followers to think they) live on my Instagram feed.

#sigh

Alex x

PS: And happy Mean Girls anniversary, bitches. #tenyears #sofetch

dreamscape.

Relearning how to dream…

Image
Print and photo by the talented Jasmine Dowling.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
– T. E. Lawrence

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”
– A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

 

Whilst catching up with friends recently I’ve noticed that I have been getting rather excited when talking about my plans for the year and for the future in general. Look, it’s better than reporting that “not much” has been happening (seeing as it renders catching up somewhat redundant), but my enthusiasm is bordering on geeky.

Although it is a bit lame, this quietly marks a significant personal achievement.

How??  Well, let me explain.

See, one day nearly two years ago I came to the rather awful, heartbreaking realisation that I had no dreams.

None. None at all. Unless you include “passing all of my subjects this semester” as a dream.

My dreams had been erased and scratched out and burnt. They had disappeared and vanished. Life, which had once been in high-definition, had become a foggy blur where my dreams were completely indiscernible.

It was a rainy, grey winter’s morning in Sydney and I was sitting with about 30 strangers at a one day event for young adults which I had been invited along to. They had advertised it with inspirational guest speakers (including a non-Rugby sports star) and free lunch. Hence, I was sold.

Our morning session began with a motivational speaker (the one who wasn’t an elite athlete) presenting. As it so happened, he spoke to us about the power of our dreams and how to achieve them. Between scribbling down some thoughts on the very pretty notebook we’d all been given at the start of the day, he turned the question to us: “So, what are your dreams?”

Uhhh… Well, this is awkward… What are my dreams? Hmmmmm… Ahhh… Errrr… Ummmm.

It was at this moment that it hit me that I had no dreams.

As per usual, I didn’t really put all of the pieces of the puzzle together at the time. However, looking at it now, it makes perfect sense as I was actually in a really dark place at that time. Everything was a struggle. I could barely see past the next few days, let alone months or years ahead. Depression is a bit of a b!tch at the best of times.

I find it saddening just to type it, but I simply didn’t have energy or cerebral space to contemplate the future. Thus, I had few plans and little to look forward to. I had nothing to aim for because I had no dreams to fuel those aims, which only served to compact my depression a bit more.

However, my lack of dreams was not fixed as simply as just, well, dreaming. No, in this case it took working on the depression before I was eventually able to start dreaming again…

****

Cut forward nearly two years. A fair bit has changed and I have come a long way… and I guess one of the inadvertent markers of how far I’ve come is that I’m dreaming again.

In all honesty, I can barely remember anything that that motivational speaker said all that time ago. Oops. I was listening, I promise! The whole ‘dreams’ thing had dropped off my radar fairly soon after that day. However, they’ve finally come back onto the scene. I think this has been aided by now being able to countdown my days left at uni and being inspired by my friends and peers, who have reminded me that we can all do some pretty awesome sh!t with our lives.

And now that they are here, oh, are they here. A bland, ambivalent, vague future has been replaced by ambitious, vivid dreams which I am feeling pretty damn passionate about.

That doesn’t mean that I have complete clarity or that I’m not confused about which path to take (Ha! What a novelty that’d be!), but man does it feel good.

It feels so good to want something – to be driven and to have a capacity for desire which extends beyond chocolate.

However having dreams isn’t entirely straight forward.

See, now that I have dreams, I have to do something with them. Good work, Einstein. 

This would be simple if I had simple dreams, but, naturally, they are rather grand and not the kinds of things which can be pulled off in a day. Yes, that is probably part of the inherent nature of dreams – that they are long-term things to work towards and look forward to – but I didn’t imagine that having dreams would be so… problematic.

See, now that I have some dreams I am actually slightly afraid. No, that’s not a word I use in relation to myself very often – I use it very rarely, in fact. But articulating my dreams has churned this up in me because once I say them aloud then I am, in a way, committing myself to make them real and they could well take me down some very different life paths to the one I am currently travelling on. The unknown is exciting, but it’s a bit scary too. In addition to this, I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed articulating my dreams to others because I feel that there are other people who are far more talented and better-suited to my dreams.

In writing this post I revisited my pretty notebook from that day nearly two years ago (twas the 5th of June, 2012 if you’re interested). As it so happens, during his presentation the motivational speaker talked about how the main thing which prevent people from realising their dreams is what he called the “Fat Bastards” – also known as our negative self-talk which causes us to doubt ourselves, place ceilings over our heads, allow fear to fester, getting us stuck in ruts and allowing what other people say to discourage us.

His advice was to program the voice you do want to hear to speak louder than the Fat Bastards. The negative thoughts are unable to be erased entirely, but they can be dimmed so that they are barely audible.

Well, thank you notebook from 2012 and thank you hoarder Alex for keeping said notebook. See, I told you it would come in handy. 

Well, if it’s as simple as over coming negative self-talk then, in theory, I should be able to do that pretty easily (seeing as I have done it quite a few times before)… but it can be much harder in practice, can’t it?

So, although I’m not ready to type my dreams out on the interweb (which you may find ironic considering some of the other things that I am willing to type about), I have started to tell some of my close friends about where I’m heading…

… and, as it so happens, I didn’t really have anything to be fearful of in the first place.

Alex x

fearing/feeling.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ll be honest with you: the past week or so has been..unique.

I guess it all began with Sheryl Sandberg. In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, she poses the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. Her words really resonated with me… and they got me thinking. What would I do? What am I afraid of?

I’m someone who likes to think of myself as being confident and assertive, whereas “afraid” is not an adjective I’d usually use to describe myself. That’s not to say that I don’t have fears; I’m just not regularly burdened by them (which is great). When I do face a situation which gets my heart racing with anticipation, nervousness or fear my go-to tactic is to inhale deeply and then plunge right into it. Then I pop out on the other side and I’m nearly always fine.

Except.. Sheryl’s question made me realise that there were and are certain situations which I have been avoiding, subconsciously or otherwise because I was afraid. See, I reasoned that there wasn’t much of a need to scare myself on a frequent basis. It simply didn’t occur to me that I would be able to gain so much from embracing fear, no matter how small or trivial it seemed.

ImageThe book in question. Thanks, Sheryl.

Two things came to mind straight away when I read Sheryl’s question: firstly, I needed to have an above-the-line conversation in order to move forwards with or onwards from a particular relationship and secondly, I really needed to bite the bullet and donate blood.

The past week has been punctuated with quite a few above-the-line conversations. I’m unsure whether that’s a term that other people use (??) so if not, by “above-the-line” I mean an open, honest conversation which is necessary in order for both parties to understand each other and, ultimately, to be able to move in a positive direction. Generally, they’re the kind of conversations which I wouldn’t mind avoiding because they are not always particularly pleasant or fun to deliver or digest. However, I nearly always feel better after them..

My recent above-the-line conversations pertained to a wide-range of areas in my life and one of them in particular was about as enjoyable as slamming my hand in a car door. I guess I was afraid of how the people I was talking to would respond and subsequently, the future. However, I got through them all alive and unscathed. Hooray!

Interestingly, I came away from these conversations with different outcomes to what I had hoped for, but now that I’ve had a few days to sit with it all I’m really happy with what has come from them. I have closure (which I’ve realised is really important to me) and I’m able to move forwards, which has seen my mind get giddy with dreams and plans. I also feel excited to go and find more little fears to conquer as I’ve realised that pushing through my fears, regardless of their size, is essential to my growth as a person and ultimately, achieving my goals and fulfilling my dreams. Could I have crammed more clichés into that last phrase? Hmm. Unsure.

However, before I go onto to tackle my next fear I need to man up and give blood. I can handle needles for a short period of time, but the prospect of ten minutes in my arm has never really appealed to me and I have thus, avoided it like the plague for multiple years. But I’m going to organise that tomorrow. I will. I’ve got blood which is fine to give and there are lots of people who need it, so I really have no excuse. Anyway, it can’t be more excruciating than telling someone how you feel about them under the cold, harsh light of a 7-Eleven. Right? Right??

So, how about you? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Alex x

ImageThe exterior of a 7-Eleven. i.e. probably the best location to have an above-the-line conversation. Ever.