2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

3 Things I’m Not Telling Myself Enough

 

Sometimes, you need to keep a mantra that you repeat to yourself in your mind. Something to help catch yourself when you’re not feeling so great. Between a chant and a statement. Something to prop you up on particularly bad days. They say that our thoughts create reality, and if that’s so, it’s easy for me to drift towards negativity and pessimism, which in turn can manifest itself in negative experiences. It’s a concept I’m starting to believe in, the idea that your thoughts create your reality. You really do manifest your existence by your attitude. In saying this, I’m not a fan of the whole claptrap ‘The Secret’ idea, where if you think of money constantly it will come to you. This kind of deluded activity can only inevitably result in further disappointment and loss. As self-helpy as it is, however, trying to think positive thoughts has been something that I have attempted to insinuate in my life. I try to tell myself things that will either calm me down and destress my mind, or give me a boost of confidence.

I keep little notes about my flat in places that I will always see: bathroom mirrors, Fridge doors, next to my desk. I’ll glance at them occasionally. They say things like, ‘I’m willing to change’, or ‘I speak and think positively’. They become familiar maxims that have in turn grafted themselves within the recesses of my mind and the shape of the words become burned into my mind’s eye. As crazy as it sounds, it helps keep me above water and to keep paddling along.

Despite all this, there are always times when I feel defeated, and that crushing sense of anxiety and doom persist. It’s not a great feeling. I can be my own worst enemy at times; it can be so easy to simply crumple into nothingness and become recalcitrant and lazy. I’m learning to be able to detect these moments and to deflect these feelings, and to really work on being aware of my moods, as well as external influences.

So what are 3 things I’m not telling myself enough?

It’s never too late, and you’re never too old

 

Being 33, I sometimes feel that I have squandered so much of my time and life. I feel as though I have wasted years of my life, and I really don’t have much to show for it. I spent my 20’s being lazy and indolent, and now I sense that I am paying for it. My workplace is full of young, 20-something go-getter types who exude youthfulness, vibrancy and a sense of excitement at life that is so far removed from my existence. I always wished to be this kind of person in life. The energy level is always high and everyone’s personality cheerful and bright. I look at myself and consider myself over the hill occasionally. I think at times that I have wasted the greatest gift that could be given to anyone, being life.

…However. As I get older, I begin to find myself meeting and interacting with people of similar age or older than myself; many of whom have changed careers, transformed their lives, and have found prosperity and success not in their 20’s but later on. It’s such a gratifying and inspiring thing to behold; to be in contact with people who have done so amazingly well for themselves, and it goes to show that it is not a prerequisite to be a precocious 20-something in order to be successful. This has in turn made me rethink that no, life isn’t over once you hit 30: in fact, I feel it’s just really getting started. I know how cliché that sounds, and that it’s *such a 30-something thing to say. But I need to tell myself more that it really is never too late, and that no, I’m never too old for anything at all. For heck’s sake I’ve just successfully mastered the art of skateboarding [grazes and scratches on my limbs not withstanding] at 33. There really is something liberating to knowing this, yet it is something that I really do need to tell myself more and more.

 

Be kind to yourself

I know that I am far to hard on myself I tend to self analyze and self criticize far too often, and far too harshly at that. I don’t know how people could not be hard on themselves. It seems innate with me. Maybe it’s a result of parenting, and a strict Catholic education. This harshness and strictness results in me easily and without any restraint belittling myself in my mind. I can spiral out of control with the thought process of ‘I’m not good enough‘, ‘I’m not worth it‘ and so on. It’s really become something that has been almost second nature, this trashing of myself. Because that’s what it really is. I’m figuratively trashing my whole existence. Like a snake eating its own tail. It may feel good for a short while, it might fill you up as there’s something intoxicating about talking yourself down, ripping your own self to shreds, yet it won’t in the long run keep you full. I guess it’s been liberating, being cruel to yourself, as it becomes a tool and justification to simply just ‘giving up’, and not working at the issue of being kind to myself.

I don’t know if this is something that you yourself, dearest reader, has ever possibly experienced. Maybe this sentiment is foreign to you. I don’t know if you’ve spent the nights unable to sleep because you’re filled with regrets about choices made or not made in life, or that you can’t help but feel inadequate, too fat, too short, too ugly. Or that during the preceding day, you think you’re an idiot for saying this, or doing that. I don’t know if because of these ugly and maligned self-harming thoughts it’s resulted and manifested itself in physical form, or mental illness in yourself. It really is like a drug, talking shit about yourself. It’s easy to do, and not so easy to stop. It can manifest itself in so many ways outwardly as well. Mannerisms, general outlook. Personality and humour. Even posture.

I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and to give myself some slack in life. I give myself time to do what I want, and what makes me happy. I’m also learning that it’s not a great idea to dwell on thoughts far too much, or to compare myself endlessly to people that I will never be, for whatever reason. I still trip up like many of us do, and have my bad days, yet this is something that I am aware of.

 

I must create.

 

As the two points above are preoccupied with the mind’s well-being in a nurturing,  self-healing and self-aware respect, this point is something that I need drummed into my mind like rote, endlessly.

I  must create.

The need and desire to make something, anything at all, to produce and be prolific with what I come up with is a definitely tangible feeling within me. Like a tendril of smoke that is somehow able to pull at my psyche, willing and urging me to continue on. An invisible string pulled by some great puppeteer in the sky looking down on me.

I always feel the sensation and need to create. Whether it be a simple line in a journal, or taking a photo, or writing a blog post, there’s this fantastic sense of accomplishment as well as release upon the completion of something that I have worked on. I don’t know what will come any of it, if anything at all. I’m not too sure I care. If I don’t do any of this regularly my mood declines sharply. Creating something has become a bulwark of life, colour and imagination against the demonstrably drab reality of work life. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my job as well as my colleagues. Yet at its core, it is a very physical, task-based job that does not give itself over to creativity or imagination. Which again is fine, as this is what I wanted in a work place. But there is really something to be said of having a side project of my own apart from day-to-day life, something which I feel I can get so much out of by putting so much in. I must create because I must put back out in the world, and not just consume. I must create because I feel this inherent need to, it is very much a part of me.

So, these are the 3 things I need to tell myself more of everyday. I don’t know how successful I am at telling myself these 3 things, yet the good news is that I’m aware.

 

What would your 3 things be?

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Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The 2 Qualities I Wish I Had.

2 qualities that I wish I had are ambition, and confidence.

I feel that I lack both of these traits, and because of this I can never unlock my full potential. There seems to always be something holding me back, and the reason and excuse is always, inevitably, me.

I wish I had the drive and ambition so many of the people around me at my workplace seem to have. They’re almost like golden people, immortals stepping among us simpleton dullard mortals. Well, that’s how it feels to me anyways. I picture these proactive and vibrantly invigorated types as being almost god-like. Ubermenschen. Kinda like how the elves in Middle Earth were portrayed: they were just better than humans. They were graceful and lithe, athletic yet elegant, of such sound mind and formidable intelligence, of fleet of foot yet not brash. I can’t help but think of these people I work with like that, or at least in a similar way. And meanwhile I’m just a humble, simple hobbit, content with his lot and with ease, relaxation and hearth of home. I hope that being around this kind of energy, this kind of greatness will rub off on me somehow. They say that you should surround yourself with the type of people you would like to be, I assume because whomever one associates with, you will be affected by them just as they will affect you. Their traits will become a part of your own life, world and personality, and vice versa. So logically, go out and find the hottest most intelligent and caring people you can!

I do hope that there is some modicum of truth in this, as I want to be more like these people upstairs: upbeat, positive and proactive in their lives. I know I will never be 100% like this, I fear that the cynic and ironic skeptic in me is simply too far ingrained, yet I am a fervent believer in change. I know I am changing. I know that I am a far different creature than I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even 1 year ago.

I also know that in the future, I will continue to grow and to change. Yet I will still paradoxically be the same inherent person that I always have been, hopefully just a little more ambitious, charismatic and confidence.

So how do you attain something that is undefinable and intangible? If only this was a computer game, where I had set objectives and goals in order to clear a level, gain HP and XP, and modify and upgrade myself. If only I could tweak the notches about, raise my experience and add more points to my Ambition and Confidence traits.

Unfortunately, as much as I can spin analogy after analogy tying life in with a game like the Sims, reality is much messier, difficult and organic in nature. I can’t simply just expect that by doing, by achieving, that I will simply be allotted points to use to improve myself, although that sounds pretty fantastic I have to say. Our mindspaces are much less ordered and much more chaotic generally.

Life is not easy, fun, simple or linear. there are many factors that can irrevocably change things for the better or worse. Yet in amongst this, we do have a propensity for change and improvement. And the only way any of us can change, or allow ourselves to become better people is really to not be comfortable, and to say to oneself, ‘yes, I deserve this’. This for me is the only way I will ever be able to become more ambitious or self-confidence. I have to declutter my mind of the past, of the voices that once ran rampant in my mind telling me that I am never good enough. I need to dust away those cobwebs and be more open to new experiences that aren’t comfortable or necessarily fun, but will surely help me grow.

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Uncategorized

Anxious Anxious Me.

Anxious Anxious Me.

It strikes me without warning, so completely, and without any rhyme or reason. Tension and tightness  clamps my chest, my breathing quickens and becomes faster, shallow and less able to convey oxygen into my lungs. My skin sweats and shortly perspires and clams up. My face clearly changes, as does my demeanour. Shoulders might slump. Posture diminishes as an outward sign of feeling crumpled. My confidence shatters and dives. Coworkers, friends and family can clearly see me struggling. I wish I could explain how it feels, or what I feel at this moment.

I still can’t tell you where this sense of impending anxiety comes from. It just appears out of nowhere. I can’t say why one day I feel great, alive and invigorated and yet the very next flat, barely able to do simple tasks and full of internal monologue. I wake up on days like today and my heart feels as though it’s racing, barely restrained within me. I feel paranoid, wary and on guard, despite the fact that I have done nothing wrong, and have no guilt over anything as again, I can’t think of anything that I could have possibly done to make me feel this way. Is it because of worries in life? Work problems, family issues or problems with other loved ones? Did I get this nervousness from my mother?

There’s literally no real reason for me to have this anxiety which creeps around every few months. Life for me is good. I don’t suffer from want for anything. I work in a decent job, I have a great boyfriend and can afford my rent. So there’s plenty to feel grateful for. Perhaps it’s more the fact that I self-assess constantly. Maybe my overt self-examining of life leads me to consider myself unworthy, which then leads to anxiety attacks. It might strike me in the morning when I wake up. I may have had a great, restful sleep yet regardless, wake up with a sense of dread and fear.

Fight Or Flight

An instinct for me when I do get anxious and suffer an anxiety attack no matter how minor is that base bodily instinct, hard-wired into our biology, that of ‘Fight Or Flight‘. I’ll have to decide then and there whether I can fend off these feelings and attempt to modify my thoughts, regulate breathing and simply place it out of my mind and get on with my day or simply pack it in and find the nearest exit. It’s almost like a giant lever in my mind that cuts power. Or those old brakes made of cable that would hang above passengers in old steam trains you see in old movies that would activate the brakes. During these episodes, nothing is more attractive to me than being at home in my bed with the covers over me. My bed becomes the Starship Enterprise and my doona Deflector Shields impervious to all. Nothing can get through. All I want is to disappear for the day.

In the past, during these attacks, I have physically been unable to carry on with my day. I recall one instance whilst working at my previous workplace. I would usually catch the train in the morning. On one of these days commuting to work, I got off the train at the nearest station: a busy station close to the city airport. There were people bustling about in their morning commutes, tumbling out of packed trains, piling into further full trains, and herding themselves towards the exit turnstiles. The rumble of voices and footsteps echoing the large and imposing chamber-like walls of the station. I’ll never forget this day as I filed in line and shuffled into the herd-like crowd towards the turnstiles. I decided to pull back and wait for the crowds to process through the exits.

And that’s the moment it struck. My heart began to race, my skin began to sweat. I could feel the muscles in my face tensing and transforming my relatively calm face into one of worry and fear. I could remember thinking to myself, over and over: ‘I can’t do this today. It’s not possible. I need to get out. I need my own space.’ I felt like I was in a rather bleak Haruki Murakami moment. I could either press on into the crowd and through the exit and onto work, or escape. My instincts kicked in and I chose escape. I turned myself around, pale-faced and wide-eyed, and almost without any thought, floated back to the platforms, caught the train and before I could recall, I was home.  I became a ghost and disappeared out of there. An apologetic text was sent to my work, but the truth is, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the day. I couldn’t be at work facing unhappy customers and mean demanding managers who misunderstood me. I needed that time to myself to have some silence and peace at home.

A part of me hates that I harp on about this subject. I know it can all be construed as something akin to whingeing and whining. I know I can come across as moody and brooding. I used to love the fact that I was seen as this. I would thrive off it. But I find confronting and writing about my ailments, problems and issues such as anxiety acts as a salve or healing agent, and these days I aim to be as open with myself as I can be. Sometimes it’s easier for me to express feelings this way as opposed to conversing. However, I always feel orders of magnitude better afterwards.

Misconception.

If there is one thing that I want to impart upon you, dear reader, is that if you do come across someone like me who visibly suffers from panic attacks or anxiety, don’t misconstrue them as being unfriendly, depressed all the time or negative. Understand that it’s not something they or myself choose to have happen. Maybe be genuine and ask if everything is alright. If that person can talk about it comfortably, let them. If not, perhaps give them some space. Let them have their time. If you manage someone who is prone to anxiety don’t be surprised or upset if they need to take a day off or leave early. If you have a friend that maybe isn’t coping with being out somewhere busy like a pub or club, don’t be surprised if they too ghost out of there. Sometimes a quiet environment and a moment of tranquility is needed. It’s just a period of time for this person to realign themselves. Just don’t think that this person is pissed off, doesn’t like you or thinks the world is out to get them.

It’s a simple thing to assume and have misconceptions. About anything, really. People, places, beliefs and ideology for instance. The concurrent thread through all of this is ignorance. Lack of information and experience creates ignorance which then bleeds contempt and misunderstanding. Whereas knowledge creates the opposite. Be kind to your wide-eyed anxious person that you know.

 

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2016, Australia, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Folly Of Nationalism.

Pride in one’s nation can be a very dangerous thing. An accident of birth determines so much of one’s circumstances, whether being born as female or male, in differing socio-economic circumstances and geographic location determines one’s life to a substantive degree.

The fact that so much human misery and destruction, both to ourselves and to this planet we inhabit is due to what is in essence tribalism and factionalism magnified in macro makes me personally deride national pride. I know this may be a very controversial point of view, but I am against national pride, patriotism and nationalism as these concepts so easily lend themselves to the politics of hate and exclusion, namely right-wing political ideologies filled with hatred and racism such as Fascism.

Being a self-identified Social Democrat, my standpoint is one of inclusion, fraternity and opportunity for all, not to mention basic human rights that should be afforded to all. REGARDLESS of skin colour, gender, age and sexuality. Universal healthcare, education and welfare support to name a few. Luckily, I live in a nation that gives me access me these things, however we are facing a crossroads, one in which we can easily begin the long downward slide into rugged individualism, economic rationalism and 100% free marketeering. The aforementioned concepts of universal healthcare, education et al should not be a source of pride, they are EXPECTATIONS to me. All in all, I don’t want us, a post-colonial nation which has suffered from so much cultural cringe as well as a lack of identity, to become something akin to a 51st state of the USA.  The political, economic and social policies and goals of the current government, a conservative economo/finance-centric one, would have us simply become a facsimile of the United States. I know the likelihood of this is slim, but I find that some political factions in this country would dearly love this country to forgo and forget its important and indelibly widespread, and far-reaching social-based policies which have helped shape us as a nation. Policies, which established by the almost hallowed yet ultimately doomed and somewhat naive Whitlam government in the early 1970’s that have really become enmeshed and a vital component and makeup in our national identity.

Mateship, a buzzword so easily thrown around in a disparaging manner, especially with regards when describing the ‘true-blue ocker Aussie identity’, to me belies the sense of humanist spirit summed up in the classic phrase ‘egalite, fraternite, liberte’. The term mateship to me has a very real cringey self-involved aspect linking to the identity of the average Australian as a sun burnt, beer swilling tradie white Aussie battler, yet we all know this is far from the reality. It to me equates far more to the crux ideal that we are all in this together, that we are all a community and that in short, we are still affected by the plights and suffering of others.  We only need to look at how we have mistreated political refugees in recent years as well as the indigenous peoples of this nation not to mention the very real lag in progress for Gay marriage to see we have a long way to go. So, due to my political ideologies which have more concurrent concerns on the state and welfare of the human being as a part of a greater community than nationalist pride, I find this question, in fact the entire concept of national pride somewhat disturbing.

Australia has had somewhat a strange and if not at times quietly turbulent history. This nation was established on the plight, plunder and suffering of the indigenous populations and peoples that inhabited this land for many an epoch before the first European man set-foot on our shores. The colonies that formed the core of what would later become Australia in 1901 were established simply due to the fact that the British required pre-eminence and predominance in every aspect of society at the time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Competition in trade, military strength and cultural influence was fierce between the imperial powers. Colonies were established simply to deny the other colonial and imperialist powers of the day namely France and Russia a foothold on this continent. Purposeless colonies established in order to restraining other nations from gaining a piece of this incongruous continent. A somewhat strange and wasteful notion. A continent with untold mysteries and clearly very misunderstood. For decades it was believed a large inland sea bisected the continent, where unbound arable lands were to be found. A localised El Dorado, almost. Water has always been much more important than gold here. The truth was, this land was and still is harsh; unforgiving yet also beautiful and compelling in its hardness and alien nature in comparison to Western Europe.

The European policy of Terra Nullius, or ‘Empty Land’, which essentially equated the British or any other European imperialist power having right and reason to plant a flag anywhere that was not according to them inhabited [Farming, structures], meant that this land was forcibly and unjustly stolen from the indigenous tribes that very much inhabited this continent.

Add to this the penal and convict legacy of this country, as well as prevailing casual racism, the mistreatment of immigrants as well as indigenous peoples, and it makes me hard to have pride in my country of birth. In many ways I’m very lucky to be born in a nation that has afforded many including myself so many liberties and freedoms. Of course this is undeniable. A dark side of our culture has come to the fore in the past, and I’m sure will continue to flash and flare in the future. The Stolen Generations, the Cronulla riots of 2005, the plight and abject suffering of the asylum seekers and refugees of Manus Island are some examples to name a few.

No nation is perfect, no nation-state to me deserves pride and patriotism invested in it. Our governments and politicians who are the apparatus and nervous system of all nations deserve to fear their citizenry and treat them with an accordance of respect and deference, as the citizenry are the nation, not the artifice of national identity. Nations are simply lines drawn on a map, the reality is often much messier and much more prosaic and obtuse. There is never black and white, but always grey.

Yes, I know I sound like a raving rabble-rousing left-wing Marxist ideologue apparatchik but the truth is, nationalist pride for me is a very perilous concept, one that can create competition, enmity and disparity which can lead to human suffering and bloodshed.

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2016, Gayblog, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

My Marvellous Meds

Lately I’m getting asked quite regularly about my medication. I’ve been taking antidepressants/anti anxiety medication for just over a year now. I’m very open and honest about it, which is something I never thought I would be. I’m happy to share my experiences with medication.

Growing up in a family where mental illness was viewed a fixable state of mind that was able to be fixed through hard work, grit and physical activity lead me to believe that medication for mental illnesses was simply a taboo. I still remember my parents saying there is no such thing as stress, it’s just something made up for lazy people to get out of work.

In fact, I grew up believing that any form of medication as well as therapy strategies like psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and the like were detrimental, negative and simply a means to shirk responsibility.

If you’ve followed my blog you’ll note that much of my written subject matter since starting out in 2014 is charting my progress and journey from being undiagnosed with depression to seeking help and initiating treatment in the form of medication as well as therapy. It’s been a difficult road, and I still have my ups and downs. So I decided to write a post about my marvellous meds.

Why I take them

My medication has been a help. I can’t deny that. That’s why I take them. However, its not the 100% solution to solving all the problems in my life, but is simply one part of a larger strategy. Aside from meds, other strategies such as psychology sessions, exercise and positive thought modification techniques have meant I have a larger plan for attacking my depression. A bigger picture, which lets me work through my bad days. Meds have really helped improve my general mood however. I still have my less-than great days, but for the most part it’s really helped me manage my moods. It’s been tougher for me lately as I’m currently in between jobs, and I find when I’m not busy at a job or working on a project my mind can run off it’s hinges and into darker territory.

What they don’t do

Meds aren’t going to put the fucked up parts of your life back together, or automatically stop the shitty thoughts in your head as you try to get some sleep at 3am. They won’t necessarily have a direct effect on the course of your career, relationship or mental makeup. They won’t magically transform you into a wide-smiling, motivated go-getter overnight. They won’t make you a better lover or friend, they won’t make your bed in the morning or write emails or perform better at work/study. They take time, and you won’t see any change quickly. How they do work is more akin to something in the background humming away that has a purpose, like a fridge. You know its there doing it’s thing but you don’t pay much mind to it.

What they do

It has a job to do, and sometimes you’re aware of the proverbial humming fridge sound which means it’s working and keeping your shit cool. But for the most part, I just tend to go about my day as per usual. What I have found however after being on them for over a year is that my ups are much higher, and my lows occur less frequently and are generally much less world-ending or fraught with despair. The best way to describe this is with the idea of a wave pattern. Before starting medication, the wave would crescendo then quickly dip low. Nowadays, that wave is more uniform. I still feel down sometimes, yet the main thing is that the low in the wave is not as low as before. I am also more productive, although this is still something I need to work on. The fact that I have kept this blog going for almost two years is a testament to that. I don’t get so affected by something that has previously had a monumental effect on me, and I’m also able to deal can deal with negativity much more efficiently.

In the words of Aahliyah [RIP], I can figuratively ‘dust it off and try again’.

giphy

Hey gurl.

I also find myself being more relaxed in social settings and being less nervous when meeting new people, or in high stress situations, not to mention not being as anxious when attending large social gatherings.

Chop and change

I’ve already changed my meds once since starting them, as I found the previous prescribed medication had side effects on me which I didn’t care too much about, like lowered libido, increase in headaches and stomach aches. My thoughts on this are if it’s not feeling right, change it. Hit your GP up to change your script. I simply spoke to my GP with my concerns and was given a new set to try, which have been way better for me. Since opening up about this issue, I’ve met and spoken to many people who have given me advice as well as how they’re feeling on what they’re taking. It almost feels like speaking about your drink of choice, or what cheese you like. I like this as it has de-stigmatised this from being a taboo subject into something more grounded and social, and strangely has made me feel a part of a club. Brie or camembert?

Don’t feel bad for taking them

Is it right however, to use medication with the purpose of altering one’s mood or general demeanour? Again, growing up in a household that was quite conservative in its views on medication for mental illnesses, I always viewed meds as something only those who were suicidal took; a last resort. To me, the mind was something inviolable, holy and unalterable. I was brought up to believe that medication causes one to become something unnatural. An automaton that isn’t the real you, a modified version of you with a layer of nauseating cheerfulness draped over skin. It took some time for me to educate myself and to understand that the mind is chemical-based. I lacked and still lack the right chemical mix that most people take for granted. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t normal to experience running the daily gauntlet of emotions and despair I felt. My mind quite literally stopped me from experiencing life. Which is why I personally don’t feel bad at all for taking medication, and neither should you. Perhaps me as a teenager would have been dismayed that I would have need of them, but hey, in short they’re designed to put in balance what some of us lack.

So never feel bad or feel as though you’re a failure or you’re somehow inadequate for needing them. I find that increasingly people are opening up about this, and the more I speak to and open up to people, the more I hear that medication has really helped people for the better and works for them. Which is a bit rad really.

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2016, Uncategorized

On Being Afraid.

Fear, and feeling afraid of anything can be such a life-halting force. It can deter us from moving forward in our lives, it can tempt us into drinking the bittersweet nectar of self-wallowing. It can drive us off the proverbial cliff; yet at the same time fear can be a potent motivator for many. The fear of failure, or mediocrity in this case for me, is a constant in my world.

I’m afraid of failure, right now at this point in my life. Failure is something that is on my mind a lot these days. Far too much mental energy is expended in my mind to thinking about my life, and how I feel as though I’m not reaching my potential. I’m afraid of mediocrity, of living life in the box, of every year that goes past being identical to the last. A generation of us have grown up with the ideal that we can all be ‘Whatever we want’ as long as we put our grit, determination and drive to it and work hard for it. Is this the truth? Is it possible to work hard and reach that impossible dream, or are we all setting ourselves up for a fall?   For me, I feel as though it has been a long, slow and difficult progression, getting what I want, and where I want to be in life. Right now, my career [or lack thereof] is what has been filling me with fear.

Truly, I’m afraid of being 40 and still being a Human Vending Machine. It all comes back to this. I don’t want to be folding clothes, tidying pillows, putting chairs away and wasting my days away with a ‘hi, how are you?’ I just can’t do it, and I refuse to. Yes, I know that so many other people are struggling with so many problems of much more magnitude than my little conundrum, yet lately I have been putting a lot of brain power and thought to my future, and my escape plan out of my current job. I just don’t want to be there forever, my dream is to be in a workplace where my skills other than that of selling are appreciated, a place where I am motivated to give my all because I actually enjoy being there. Where I am now currently is far from this. It is a factory. Fast Furniture. It’s terribly difficult to face the day there sometimes, to put on a brave face and live day in day out. I started my current job almost two years ago, with the intention of progression. Which inevitably has not happened. I’m forever thinking about my future at work, and formulating little plans and fantasies in my mind, the foremost being the moment I finally attain that job that will lead me to an actual career, and I tell everyone there that I’m leaving, with a big unapologetic grin. Am I placing too much strain on myself? Is this fear something that will leverage the best out of me to get me off my arse and get out into the world, or will it make me drift in a malaise?

I’m afraid of being in stasis,I’m afraid of every year morphing into the next, each segmented division of time being the same as the previous, as well as the next.I’m afraid of not changing, growing or evolving. Of being static. I want to change. ‘I Am Willing To Change’ is something I tell myself almost daily. It’s a simple self-affirmation that I will say to myself in the mirror when I wake up, or at work on particularly difficult days. I Am Willing To Change. We all can change. I truly believe this. We keep the core of ourselves intact, yet we are always in a state of flux. Transforming, discarding and shedding our old selves, and forming our new selves.

What is life without change? Meaningless, stale and fetid. I know this is quite a dramatic statement, but in my eyes we all have to be willing to change ourselves, to adapt, to be dynamic. I’m not the same person I was 7 years ago. Both literally and figuratively. My skin grows, dies and is replaced by fresh new skin. My hair gets greyer each year. My mind grows un-incapacitated, expanding like an infinite USB memory stick. I learn more and more every day. I collect information, no matter how trivial, and I manage to store it away for future use. I collect life experience as well, and snapshot every event in my mind.

I am afraid of losing this ability, of not being able to collect things like experience and information, of taking things at face value, of not looking past the present, of not breaking life down into its core components. I’m afraid of my world being confined like an ornamental garden: manicured, pleasant and placidly safe.

Fear and being afraid can be a positive thing; it’s what makes us strive to achieve foremost. What would life, the world and existence itself be like if it weren’t for a small dose of fear to motivate us into doing things? Into achieving and reaching higher and higher goals? It can help us grit our teeth and carry on towards the light on the hill. Perhaps I should choose not to be afraid, but to look forward to my future, to take every step towards that future with a determination and undaunted, unbowed outlook.

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2016, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Hetero-Normativity In Gay Relationships.

The other week I had a fight with my boyfriend of almost 7 years about ham. Ham. I went to the shop armed with a list of items to get for dinner as provided by my culinary genius husband-man, one of the items listed being simply ‘ham’. So I picked up some sliced ham at the shop and returned home, little to know what a giant shit-storm was about to take place once I got back.

To cut a rather long and incredibly dull story short involving accusations of idiocy, lack of intelligence and logic, I came home with the wrong ham. The boyfriend blew up at me, I blew up at him, and once the initial wave of hot-blooded Italian tempers gave way and reason returned, we realised we were fighting about HAM.

This is a relatively normal occurrence for us. The bi and sometimes tri-monthly fights about things which are so inane and rudimentary yet at the time seem monumental and colossal in importance for us are a fixture in our otherwise serene 6 and a half year-long relationship. The both of us share very similar upbringings, including Italian backgrounds, which means, aside from consuming way too much pasta and carbs in general, we like to lose our tempers and proclaim vendettas against eachother quite easily and quickly, leaving logic and reason far, far behind. Knives and any sharp objects in general should be well hidden and secure. In short, we’re honouring the time-old Italian tradition of Vendetta, but without all the dueling and bloodshed. We both feel however that it’s better getting the crazy out and yelling at each other than bottling it up and creating yet more fun neuroses for us to enjoy.Again this is because of our similar upbringings, where emotion and passion go hand in hand.

I feel like most couples have the same, or a similar experience in life, regardless of sexual orientation or socio-economic circumstance. Which made me think how alike to straight people LGBT co-dependents can be, or have become; which then in turn led me to think about what the status and/or validity of Gay/Lesbian/Trans et al relationships.

 

Find your soulmate, pair off, buy the house in the ‘burbs with an accompanying purebred dog and a Range Rover or VW Golf. Possibly have kids down the track and many a wine-fuelled soiree along the way.

 

Increasingly to me, this is becoming the status quo and norm of LGBT relationships. Is it because I’m getting older and leaving my so-called party days in the past? This may not apply for all members of the community who are in relationships obviously; yet more and more it seems that a ‘hetero-normative’ conformity is becoming the standard. What’s this mean? That Gay and Lesbian relationships which are stable and monogamous are on the rise. Something akin to a traditional straight relationship. Which leads many [including myself] to wonder what is to become of us. Are we wrong to want to instinctively seek out monogamous or monogamous-appearing relationships? Does this mean we are becoming simply facsimiles of what many of us don’t want to be: the stable, unexciting and dull loveless heterosexual couple? There are many LGBTIQ people out there who rail against and abhor this supposed heteronormative conformity, the catch cry always: ‘Why do I want to be married? I’m not straight and I don’t want to be’.

The well-appointed house or flat, the fancy car and/or purebreed pets. A steady and high-paying job with a lot of upward mobility. Preferably in a design/creative field. All the trappings of a typically urbane, staid and comfortable existence. I for one can’t talk as I live in one of those ‘well-appointed abodes’, or ‘Hipster Apartment’ as a friend remarked the other day. Is this all a positive evolution? Through the rise of the stable monogamous relationship, are we able to prove to the wider world our worth; a place where we can have our rightfully fought-for and earned position in society along with the responsibilities that go along with it?

Do we even need to prove this point to the mainstream community?

Do we need to actually prove anything to anyone at all?

If we can have the freedom to marry [something which we in Australia cannot do yet but that’s another blog post], do we become something very akin to the run-of-the-mill straight couple in every suburb in the country? Or are we as a community, by entering in very ‘hetero-normative’ relationship becoming the very things so many brave and fearless individuals have fought against? Do we lose our Queer identities and richly vibrant culture by evolving into what is expected by the wider society: coupled-off interchangeable hetero-induced straight-for-all-intents-and-purposes couples?

I recently read an article posted online at HuffPost about the ramifications of LGBT relationships being legitimised by the wider society, foremost being the fact that the poster boys and girls of this wave of controversially titled ‘LGBT Assimilation’ in terms of hetero-normatised relationships are generally going to be Middle-Class or above, Caucasian, cisgendered [I still struggle with that term], and relatively prosperous. As author of this article Colin Walmsley states, with the fight for marriage equality almost at an end in the Western world, have we lost the very essence of what it means to be Queer? Have we also left behind those who aren’t so fortunate, such as transgendered, homeless or other marginalised segments of the LGBT community?

‘After all, although marriage is a declaration of love, in many ways it is also an expression of interpersonal stability, economic security and social respectability — attributes that many marginalized LGBT people do not have. So while love may have won for middle and upper class gays, many transgender people, queer people of color and queer homeless youths instead find themselves left behind by a community that has become increasingly defined by the interests of its white, cisgender, middle and upper class members.’ 

Another point made in this article is that because of the rise of the so-called onrush of LGBT assimilation, more LGBT people are transitioning from being on the fringe of society to ebbing towards the hubs and centres of societal power and authority. As many of us prosper and climb the ladders of success, what effect does this have? As concluded in this article, those who fought for Gay and Lesbian rights from some 50 years ago were the ones whose unconventionality and diversity gave birth to the very idea of Queer/LGBT culture and the fight for equality.

And they’re the ones being forgotten.

We all know about the ‘whitewashing‘ of the new film based on the historically important Stonewall Riots, where important figures in history who are non-white, non-cisgendered individuals have been replaced by stereotypically handsome white youngsters. This is just the latest.

With our expensive clothes, exclusive club nights, gym memberships, vintage cars and elegant homes, are we killing the very thing that has brought us to this point in time? Or is it simply logical once full equality is achieved to want to be ‘like everyone else’ and fit in?

As the well known artist and long time advocate for the Bohemian lifestyle David Hockney recently stated in an interview,

‘Too many gay men have become ‘boring’ and ‘conservative’… too many gay men were determined to lead ‘ordinary’ lives by entering into civil partnerships and having children through adoption or surrogate mothers;
“They want to be ordinary – they want to fit in,” said Hockney, “Well I don’t care about that. I don’t care about fitting in. Everywhere is so conservative.”

He has a very valid point. Our sense of ‘Bohemia’ is fast becoming a thing of the past. You only need to see the state of things in my hometown Sydney for yourself. Gay-friendly venues are shutting doors more and more frequently. Why is this? Because traditionally LGBT communities have been ones living and growing on the far-flung fringes of society, away from the societal structures of power, protected by this protracted distance which meant that new and previously unseen support networks, subcultures, art and concepts emerged and arose. You only need to recall the impact of LGBT people on so much of society which stems from these communities in history, how much art and culture and innovation has been borne of these petri-dishes of new and experimental cultures that were created out of necessity. Warhol, Mapplethorpe, Oscar Wilde Turman Capote Annie Leibowitz. I could go on indefinitely. The one thing besides being supremely talented and Gay or Lesbian was that they were all involved with the subversive and underground Bohemian LGBT cultures of their times.

Will we loose this streak of creative fury and inventiveness, as well as our zeal, steadfastness and willingness to dare and fight for what’s right? Is the future of LGBT/Queer culture to be one of ‘beige’ sensibilities, where the acceptance of full marriage equality has led to a loss of this once-vibrant culture? Is the first thrown brick through a window going to be replaced with a French Bulldog or some other trendy purebred dog, clutched in a well-toned arm as opposed to being flung into a window of course. I fear that this may be the case, or that there will somewhat be a growing divide in our community between those who long for a ‘conventional’ relationship and those who don’t. I know that relationships aren’t for everybody.Which is ok with me. I know marriage isn’t for everyone, again which is ok. My life with my partner works well for me, but I don’t disrespect those who believe that being in a relationship tends to be a hetero-conformative concept placed on us from above. And I’d like those who have the opposite viewpoint to not disrespect me for being in a relationship.

For me personally it is quite difficult for me to say which way I feel about this argument, as I agree with both sides. LGBT people need to continue to work at being accepted in our society in general, and one way this can happen is if our modal relationships are somewhat normalised to a degree. However, I accept that we are far from dull and normal as a segment of society, and that we should be all inclusive and not forget who and what makes us, and our special community great.

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