anxiety breathing exercises
Adult Life, thoughts

How I deal with anxiety spirals

As I type this out on the fly in my favourite coffee shop, I’m on day three of teetering on the edge of a cliff. Fall off that precarious ledge, ladies and gentlemen, and we plummet headfirst into that oh-so-annoying thing called an anxiety spiral.

This manifests differently in different people and it can be triggered by any combination of things; hormones, alcohol, changes in your life, being faced with decisions, public speaking, social interactions, the wrong word at the wrong time, something embarrassing you did five years ago, et cetera. The list is virtually never-ending, and the effects can be crippling to some, and plain inconvenient to others. I’ve experienced situations which had me feeling so helpless, I couldn’t leave my bed all day except to use the bathroom. It wasn’t great.

The anxiety spiral

Personally, the main thing that gets to me during one of these spirals is the obsessive part. If something sets me off, I get tunnel vision and can’t see anything or anyone else but that thing causing the anxiety. And to be quite honest, it can feel like my mind is unravelling at the time.

It’s the end of the world to me, even if to my friends or family it shouldn’t even a blip on the stress radar. I’m the worst person ever, how can anyone stand me let alone like me, I’m the most annoying thing ever to walk the earth, I’m probably too loud and talk too much, I’m not actually a good writer, I’m not really good at my job, I’m not a good person, I’ve probably offended someone today, I sound stupid, and that person who saw me drunk three years ago probably still laughs at me sometimes. This is just a snippet of the thoughts that swirl, quite mercilessly, around in my head when it’s happening; your reality is distorted, and even though what you want most in the world is someone to stroke your hair and say everything is fine, you know you also won’t believe a damn word of it. You’ll probably think they’re just saying that to make you feel better. I guess the best you can do in that situation is to trust your support system to be honest with you.

For people dealing with anxiety know that it generally comes with physical manifestations too – anything from a quickened heartbeat or nausea to a full-blown panic attack. Everyone has their own version of this personal hell, in varying degrees, and I can only tell you what it’s like for me. I’m lucky to have never dealt with a real panic attack, but having your mind obsess and your heart feel like it’s going to bust out of your chest is also deeply unpleasant. Logically, I know my ‘fight or flight’ is kicking in and the adrenaline is making my body feel panic, but that does little to help me at the time.

How I’m dealing with my anxiety

For a long, long time, I didn’t know that this thing that was happening to me had a name or that it was happening to countless others in the world. I was weird and panicky sometimes, that was it. It always passed – but it also always came back.

I got a little older and took time to really dig down into what it was I felt, what triggered those feelings and what made me feel better when it happened. Fast forward to this weekend, and I’ve actually written down, on two sticky notes, the things that aggravate my anxiety and the things that help me manage it. Almost like an ‘in case of emergency’ reminder. Here’s a snippet:

Things that make it worse
  • PMS. Lord Jesus, PMS.
  • Drinking more than two or three glasses of wine.
  • Indecision.
  • Too much coffee.
  • Being disorganised or messy.
  • Falling behind on deadlines.
  • Not taking the time to cook meals.
  • The possibility that I’ve hurt someone’s feelings.
    • And then overthinking this for hours on end.
  • Not being active.
  • Spending time on social media.
Things that (therefore) make it better
  • Regular exercise – get those happy hormones a-flowin’.
  • A clean bedroom and freshly laundered sheets.
  • Five-minute meditations – I use an app called ‘Calm’.
  • Cutting down on social media.
    • I highly recommend switching off notifications as a trial if you’re uncomfortable with completely ridding your phone of the usual suspects.
  • Reading for leisure.
  • Making lists (evidently).
  • Staying on top of my work.
  • Doing things to make other people happy.
  • Sketching, writing, or playing videogames.
  • Spending time by the sea.
  • Puppies. Lots of puppies.
  • Drinking less coffee, and avoiding it after 5pm.
  • Evening Primrose oil. That shit is legit.
  • Getting out of bed and having a shower even when it seems like the hardest thing ever.
  • Talking about it with someone I trust.

Of course, I’m not against the use of medication to help with anxiety and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Pharmaceuticals should absolutely not be demonized or viewed as some sort of necessary evil; I have loads of friends who tell me how their lives have been massively improved by anti-anxiety meds, and I’m happy for them. I’m just trying my own thing first, and that’s okay too.

tips to deal with anxiety

Anyway, I just thought I’d share what I’m doing to keep a handle on things and stay balanced when anxiety makes that difficult. Sharing this kind of stuff helps others who might be struggling with it, so I’m all over that.

I’d love to hear what you do when this demon scratches at your door, so feel free to share your tips in the comments!

-Kelly

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Adult Life, Living Abroad

4 quick tips for living in a house share

If you’re in your late teens or early 20s, you’ll probably be looking at flying the nest and moving into your first houseshare. The taste of independence only just out of reach, and you want it more than a drunk me wants pizza.

Living in a house share is obviously cheaper than living solo, but it’s also a lot more fun if you’re moving to a new city and makes the whole ‘I need new friends’ thing easier to navigate, so I’d definitely recommend it.

Renting in the North East

Property in the North East is known to be more affordable than it is elsewhere in the UK. I can testify to the fact that Newcastle, in particular, isn’t just affordable in terms of its accommodation, but the cost of living is cheap too. You can rent a lovely room, in a house or apartment bang in the city centre, for somewhere in the region of £400 to £500, bills included. I personally used Spareroom to find my place, but there are loads of options if you just hit Google with the right keywords.

Top tip: Always check reviews for the real estate agency you’re thinking about using. You’d be surprised to learn just how many shady agencies are out there, and if you’re a student, you’ll be an even bigger target for ‘questionable’ landlords.

Sidenote: why I didn’t want to rent a property in Malta

In Malta, this time tends to come along a little later in life because rent and property costs are extortionately high thanks to the obscene hike in prices we’ve seen following the gaming industry boom. The average cost of renting a property in a central location in Malta (by which I mean a room in an apartment or a one-bedroom ‘cosy’ apartment) would set you back around €700 to €1000 a month without bills.

Anything cheaper than that is either a golden nugget of a find or somewhere with questionable standards, to say the least. That’s the lion’s share of your typical Maltese salary, living very little for things like food, savings, and a social life after you’ve paid bills. No thanks. Moving swiftly on.

Tips for living in a house share

One of the best things about moving out of your parents’ place and sharing a home with people you’re not related to is that you’ll learn how to live alongside folks who come from different backgrounds to your own. You might become a little family unit away from home and watch Great British Bake Off together every week, or have an absolutely awful time because people are funny. Here are a few tips to avoid the latter, or at least help you handle potentially awkward situations.

1 | Always pay your share of the bills on time

Nobody wants to be that housemate. If one of you has taken responsibility for calculating and paying the bills each month, the rest of the house needs to put up their share sharpish.

The best way to avoid any dilly-dallying when it comes to money matters is to send out an email each month with a breakdown of the bills and the details for the account that everyone needs to transfer over to, with a deadline tacked onto it. Make sure the deadline you set for everyone gives you enough time for the money to come in before bills go out.

2 | Don’t leave passive-aggressive notes

You’re grown-ups. Kind of. You need to be able to talk things out, especially when they’re essentially nothing more than minor misunderstandings. Sticky notes and passive aggressive texts (especially ones that start with ‘can we please remember…’) just piss everybody off, so put on your grown-up panties and talk it out face to face before things get weird.

Before you get to the stage where you’re absolutely vibrating with rage because Brenda left her dirty dishes out longer than you’d like, take a breather. Remember that just because you like to live your life a certain way, doesn’t mean others have to adhere to your cleaning schedule and whatnot. That being said, if Brenda’s leaving her crap all over the house for four or five days at a time, it’s time for an intervention. Not over text.

3 | Organize house dinners

This is the perfect way to bond with your housemates, show off your cooking skills (or try and sharpen them up), and create a warm ‘family’ atmosphere.

Good food, good wine, and some background music set the scene for a little camaraderie and a lot of laughs. Also, it’s always kind of awesome to come back to a home-cooked meal once in a while when you’re no longer being fed by your mum on the regular.

4 | Respect boundaries and space

I’m going to say this one time and one time only: do not assume you can wander in and out of anyone’s bedroom. It doesn’t matter how close you are, and it doesn’t matter if Wendy left her Netflix running and you can’t stand the murmur of Orange is the New Black leaking out into the hallway. It doesn’t even matter if Brenda left her bedroom light on. You do not. Go in. Their rooms. Okay? Okay.

Beyond your bedroom, every other space in a house share is communal. Having a private space that you know people aren’t going to have access to (unless you’ve expressly given that permission) is essential if you’re going to hold on to that precious sanity and zen. For those of us who might struggle with such things as ‘personal space’, ‘boundaries’, and ‘basic human decency’, here are a few quick bits to remember:

  • It’s not your room.
  • If you’ve knocked once or twice, to no avail, do not just walk in. Silence ain’t consent (THIS ONE WORKS ON SO MANY LEVELS).
  • Just because you’re fine with people wandering into your room, doesn’t mean the rest of the world feels the same.
  • Why do you even need to get into that room? What’s so urgent? That’s what I thought. Take your hand off the door handle, Bernice.

Oh, and while we’re here, respect for spaces also applies to communal areas. Other people use that space, so make sure you leave things clean and ready for the rest of the house to use it.

Right, my fellow twenty-somethings, that’s it from me. I hope these quick tips save you some awkwardness in the long run, and if they don’t, well, I tried. 10 points to me.

If you have any tips on living with people you’re not related to, hit me up in the comments!

-Kelly

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being yourself
Adult Life, Living Abroad, thoughts

What’s a ‘tiffin’ and when will it stop snowing?

As I write this, I’m sitting at Waterstones watching snow drift past the windows overlooking Newcastle city centre. To my left – a red pot of Earl Grey tea (fitting, since I’m so close to Grey’s Monument) and a teacup, with a cherry and walnut chocolate tiffin beside it. What’s a tiffin? I have no real clue, but it’s biscuity and amazing. A few years ago I wanted nothing more than to be in this exact place, just reading a book or doing some research. And now I live here, and I do that – perhaps too often, judging by the number of Waterstones Cafe loyalty cards I fill up. Today, the sky shifts from icy grey to bright blue with sunlight bouncing off the snow – almost blinding. It’s perfect.

It’s perfect because today is one of those days where I remember that I’m doing something I’d dreamt of doing for years before getting the gumption to actually go out and do it. Sometimes, somewhere between the ever-present deadlines, self-induced crises and little worries here and there that come with living alone, I forget how special that is and how much it means to me. So when I crunched through the snow on my way down here today, I felt happy. I feel light. I won’t ramble on about it – just don’t forget to take a moment from time to time to appreciate what you’ve achieved. Just be for a while.

February is at an end and spring is technically just around the corner – although I am curious about when the season will actually show up. Winter seems intent on overstaying its welcome. Yes, spring is synonymous with rebirth (or in my case, awful hayfever), but rather than that, I find that I’ve been thinking about change recently. Small changes, specifically. Changing bits of my day or shifting my habits because it’ll make me feel better in some small way. I mean I’m doing typical things like eating more fruit (ish), maintaining a balanced diet, going to the gym three times a week and all that jazz. I’ve even cut down my coffee intake to a maximum of two cups a day. But I’ve been thinking about one thing in particular: ‘authenticity’.

If there’s one theme in all my work, it’s about authenticity and self-expression. It’s the idea that some things are, in some real sense, really you – or express what you and others aren’t.  – Bernard Williams (Philosopher)

I don’t exactly mince my words when it comes to saying what I think, and I do try to be myself, but I feel like there’s something nagging at me. I think that moving to a new country, not knowing too many people, it can be easy to say or do things that you don’t necessarily think or want to because in your anxious mind it means winning favour or friendships (even if you’re sbukkata/outspoken like yours truly). It’s totally wrong, of course. Back in Malta, your people know you and have done (for the most part) since primary school. They know how old you were when you disobeyed your parents and got wrecked in Paceville, they know who first broke your heart and how long it took you to get over them, and they know exactly how you like to take your tea or coffee. There’s no complication there, no need to ‘appear’ any certain way. Move abroad, and it becomes tempting to be a little too agreeable because you want certain people to like you. Forget ‘silly’ – it’s stressful and unnecessary and should have been left behind in secondary school. People who are meant to become your friends will become your friends anyway, bullshit or no bullshit. With that in mind, I want to work on being a more authentic version of myself, or more authentically me – whatever way you’d like to word it. It’s a strange thing to try and express, but my guess is that if you understand what I’m trying to say you’ve probably experienced it yourself. I don’t even like using the word ‘try’ up there – if you’re trying to be authentic then I feel like there’s still some kind of artifice involved. I suppose it’s something like being the you that you are when you’re alone in your room folding clothes, or happily walking to Waterstones with snowflakes settling in your hair – and not compromising that for anyone, really. The only person you should be concerned about ‘liking’ you, is you. Isn’t that who you can always depend on in the end? Anyway, that’s just been on my mind recently and I felt like sharing – it’s probably some sort of weird way of holding myself accountable to this commitment to authenticity.

-Kelly

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Adult Life, Living Abroad

Moving Abroad: The First 3 Days (ish)

Well it looks like I actually went through with the whole ‘moving to Newcastle’ thing, huh? It’s barely been three days (as I write this post I’ve been in the city for approximately 2 days and 18 hours), but I’ve been running around taking care of all the bits and pieces that need to be done before I settle in properly – namely:

  1. Completing registration at Newcastle Uni
  2. Registering with a GP
  3. Moving in to my accommodation
  4. Getting a UK number sorted
  5. Hitting IKEA for the first time in my life
    1. Trying not to panic about how big and maze-like IKEA is
  6. Shopping for the things I need to function as a normal adult human
    1. Such exciting items include: washing up liquid, laundry detergent, kitchen utensils, hangers, towels, etc.

moving abroad

It’s a work-in-progress..

There’s still a lot left to do, but I’m pleased with how much I’ve sorted over the past couple of days.

moving abroad

Yes, they do get sun here.

21686498_10154974200263316_5596167746482799429_n

One of my favourite parts of the city.

I was worried that I might struggle to talk to people and make friends here, but that was silly because everyone’s been so friendly. I’ve already been to The Botanist for drinks with some other postgrads, a pub quiz, and an actual night out – my first one in Newcastle. We hit a club called Flares, which was an instant winner because it’s totally committed to serving you the cheesiest music and your guiltiest of pleasures (in my case, that’s probably Despacito’). Not a hint of irony. The rest of the night was filled with indie music at a place I’m struggling to remember the name of, but anywhere that plays four Arctic Monkeys songs in rapid succession gets major brownie points from me.

 

 

 

Today I hit the Societies Fair at Students’ Union, and that was pretty cool. I was drawn to the Feminist Society and Debating Society (eek!), and I might look into the Model United Nations Society (double ‘eek!’). Anyway, what’s next? Tomorrow we’re thinking about hitting Alnwick for the day, and tonight the Mediterranean girl in me is craving pasta, so I’m hunting around for the right restaurant. Stay tuned for more northern updates and ‘toon’ quirks…

-Kelly

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lifestyle blog
Adult Life, thoughts, Travel

So…I’m moving to the UK.

Well I have been quiet for a fair while, haven’t I? Things have been a little hectic, partly because holy shit I’m moving abroad for the first time in my life. And that kind of thing takes time, you know? Existential crises take time.

 

Where am I off to and what’s the plan?

Anyway, I’m moving to a northern city called Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and I’ll be living and working there while I study for an MLitt Philosophy at Newcastle University. Hurrah! For a long time, it’s basically been my dream to do exactly that – but that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows once I hit the big, red button.

The (Blind) Panic

There have been many times where I was gripped by this white-hot fear that it was all going to be a terrible mistake – that I’d end up alone, nobody there would like me, and it’ll all just be a massive failure resulting in me returning to Malta with my tail between my legs. The flip-side to that was pure elation at the fact that I finally took the steps I needed to get myself where I want to be; it’s easy to get too comfortable here in Malta. Easy to forget how badly you need to leave.

On wanting to leave Malta

Before some of you reading this hop on the ‘MALTA D BEST’ bandwagon and get on my case for wanting and needing to leave, give me a moment. Malta is a great, beautiful island with centuries of history and some of the nicest people you’ll meet this side of the Mediterranean – but no matter how great your home country might be, I think it’s just so important to live abroad for a while, in different countries if possible. Why? Well I just think it shapes us into generally better, more independent and interesting people. Living with your parents until you’re like 30 isn’t the way to encourage personal growth, just saying.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll move on to one other reason I need to leave: the way this country is being ruined one development, one crane, one bribery at a time. The fact that ‘we’ the people seem so powerless to stop it is maddening.

I’m tired. Tired of the year-round struggle with allergies and throbbing sinus headaches I get because of the dust. I’m tired of the 8+ cranes I see every morning as I make my way to work. I’m tired of the other (countless) cranes spreading across the island like some sort of plague. I’m angry about how the so-called Planning Authority is doing literally nothing to preserve our history or maintain some sort of aesthetic integrity in our cities, towns, and villages. They don’t care and they don’t listen. I’m angry that the government does nothing to stop this rampant over-development of our tiny island – we’re going to run out of space, and you can’t bribe someone into creating more land. I’m tired of the traffic and pollution. I’m tired of how disgusting this supposedly-1st-world EU country looks when you venture beyond the bits we show to those all-important dignitaries. I’m tired of the complete disregard shown to the environment. I could go on, but I think you get it, right? On to more positive things!

Things I’m Excited About

Oh goodie, my favourite part. I’ve been visiting Newcastle ever since I was a child because I have family up north – so I already know what I’m excited to do once I settle in there:

  • Waterstones, Blackwells, and all the other bookshops that are NOT Agenda
  • Cooler weather (I’m a winter person)
  • Sweaters and scarves and wooly socks
  • Hanging out with my English family
  • Newcastle University!
  • Grainger Market – a huge market in Newcastle where you can buy all the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat you want (and more) at really good prices
  • Trains
  • Castles, lighthouses, ruined monasteries, etc.
  • Amazon Prime Now, not even going to lie
  • Having my own space that’s 100% mine and not in Malta
  • Lush
  • Snow (a little bit)
  • Pub lunches
  • Living right next to a huge park
  • Getting a bicycle

I’m a woman of simple pleasures. Give me a bicycle, a good bookshop, and the university of my dreams and I’m set. Oh, and here’s a picture of a tiny seaside town, just an hour away by bus, at sunset:

 

Anyway, I think I’ve moved past the whole ‘terrified to leave’ stage and into the ‘I’m so excited’ stage! Of course I’ll miss everyone here, but I’m only moving a 3 hour flight away. It’s not Australia.

Have you moved to another country? Do you have any tips for a newbie like myself? Hit me up!  

-Kelly

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what is a slut
Adult Life, thoughts

What does a slut look like?

what is a slut

Hey guys! I recently wrote a little something for Eve  – let me know what you think! Here’s an excerpt:

Language is a powerful thing when it comes to shaping society and how we interpret the world. The way we speak about women who own their sexuality and refuse to be ashamed of it reveals a cultural assumption that women can either be virgins or whores, and there’s nothing in-between. It reveals a ridiculous level of societal concern (and nosiness) about the sheer possibility that a woman might be promiscuous; religion and state are so concerned about female sexuality that it creates rules, unreasonable dress codes, and even legislation protecting this sacred, purely feminine purity.

[Continue reading on Eve.com.mt]

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egrant michelle muscat
Adult Life, Funny

5 Ways to React to Daphne’s Egrant Bombshell

Ah, Malta. Sometimes I feel like our relationship is a lot like the Eurovision song On Again Off Again by legendary duo Julie and Ludwig. I love the tan you give me over the summer months, but hate the sticky humidity and general BO that washes over the island; I love your history and rich cultural past, but hate the unbridled construction and simmering racism I still see; I love the Maltese countryside, but hate how little we do to protect it.

But right now, most importantly, I hate the way we do politics in Malta, but I love the laughs (sometimes nervous ones, in desperation) we get out of our situation. The Panama Papers scandal was a huge deal, but our government pretty much failed to do anything about it. Enter journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who has been building up to what I call the PanaBomb all week, and finally dropped a big one on us today. How do we react? What do we do? Luckily, we have gifs for every occasion thanks to, well, the internet.

1 | “I knew it!” / “Għidtilkom jien!”

The ones who ‘had a feeling’ this was coming all along, and have been telling you for aaaaages (or since DCG dropped that massif hint the other day). Anyway, they’re pretty pleased they called it. Give ’em a bit of figolla.

panama papers michelle muscat egrant

When you know they’re lying because you’re about to serve up some screenshots.

2 | The Stoics

These guys won’t be phased. They’ve become hardened to the harsh reality of the political world, and can’t be shaken by this latest revelation. Well, either that, or they’re sick of hearing about it and just want to enjoy the rest of Skjetti in peace.

panama papers michelle muscat egrant

3 | Tistgħu tgħiduli x’inhu jiġri hawnekk?

Translation: Can you tell me what’s going on here? 

These are the ones who either aren’t bothered, aren’t interested, or are just plain oblivious to the world around them. Let them carry on enjoying life without the oily shadow of corruption hanging over their lives (che drama!), or give them a brief summary.

panama papers egrant

4 | MADONNA MADONNA, NO!

These people are panicking, and probably pretty devastated by the news. That being said, they also probably had secret accounts and were recently exposed on a certain journalist’s blog. This is a minority group. Nothing to see here.

madonna madonna no

5 | The Ones in Denial

So what if there’s evidence? It’s all lies. All of it. Everything. Nope. Mich and JoJo wouldn’t do this to us, would they? Our PM and his wife wouldn’t screw the country over like that, right? Not the people who voted for them, at least? SAY IT AIN’T SO!

panama papers michelle muscat egrant

BONUS: The Ones Who Were in Transit 

egrant michelle muscat


Well, ladies and gentlemen, what can I say? Grab a cup of tea and what’s left of your Easter goodies and watch the Maltese drama unfold.

-Kelly

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HOW TO HAVE A DEBATE IN MALTA
Adult Life, Funny

How to have a Debate in the (Maltese) Comments Section

I do this strange thing where I ping-pong between either being cripplingly shy, or not being able to stop myself from voicing my opinion on something. That ‘something’ is usually related to gender, women’s rights, racism, civil rights, religion, and whether or not we should be putting pineapple on pizzas. Sometimes, I can’t stop myself from entering the dark, dank abyss that is Malta’s comments section. There are a few publications that actually moderate comments, meaning that some of the downright abusive stuff doesn’t make it through – but sometimes they kind of…delete the civilised, well-structured comments responding to things like ‘your parents should have taken the morning after pill so you wouldn’t exist’ and ‘you’re an idiot’.

how to have a debate judge judy eyeroll

Last week I got well and truly stuck in a debate (I use the term very loosely) on whether or not we should secularise schools – the news article was basically reporting the opinion of a local Muslim leader, one shared by many Maltese people. He said, in a nutshell, that we shouldn’t be teaching one religion at school, using the education system to indoctrinate children into one faith while making those who have been raised in another one to feel somewhat marginalised. It’s a fair sentiment. It makes sense. Educating people about the different religions of the world would, in turn, lead to a more tolerant society and lessen the chances of radicalisation across the board. The fact that he was a Muslim leader, however, sparked some serious xenophobic outrage loosely disguised as religious fervour. Anyway, enough of that – here’s a quick go-to guide on how (not) to have a civilised online debate, with the help of the iconic Judge Judy (because why not?).

1 | Pretend not to be a racist/Islamophobe/xenophobe

(While totally being a racist/xenophobe and launching personal attacks on anyone trying not to be a racist/xenophobe)

giphy

A lot of comments section lurkers love to hide behind the illusion that they’re basing their arguments on some sort of religious moral highground, when in reality they’re just using religion as an excuse to spew venom. If they were the staunch Catholics they were pretending to be, I’m pretty sure they would be less like this, and more ‘love thy neighbour’:

how to have a debate

2 | Use ‘Go bekk to jor kantrij!’ ASAP

(Translation: ‘Go back to your country’ – the ignorant person’s go-to comeback when their close-minded and sometimes hateful views are questioned by someone who might be foreign, but also might just happen to have a different skin tone/ethnic background)

how to have a debate judge judy

It’s not really their business, but I was born in Malta and have lived here all my life. That doesn’t save you from the ‘get off my island’ bullsh*t that seems to be a shared sentiment among our so-called patrijotti, apparently. I was told to pack up and leave Malta if I didn’t agree with their opinions. Great job, guys.

how to have a debate in malta

3 | Be as petty as humanly possible

Losing the argument? No problem. Abandon whatever semblance of a point you were trying to make (MALTA IS A CATHOLIC COUNTRY IT’S IN OUR CONSTITUTION) and start throwing and picking on particular words to launch playground level insults. Example: Using the expression ‘flogging a dead horse’ could result in…

how to have a debate in malta

That’s the way to win, right? (It’s not, you’re being a d*ck.)

how to have a debate judge judy

4 | And then be even more gross and rude

The comments directed at me were quite a mixed bag. I was called, among other things, a prostitute, a ‘weed of society’, a ‘shame to my sex’ just because I was pushing for tolerance and saying that we should keep religious studies at home and at doctrine classes. I don’t have an issue with different opinions – I have a big problem with how so many seem unable to keep things civil, and go for pure venom instead. I was raised to stay as respectful as possible. Others seem to prefer getting personal.

how to have a debate in malta

I wonder if he spelt my name wrong on purpose, or if it was an honest typo. Either way, implying I am a prostitute, are we? Cute. Adding a sprinkle of sexism into the mix to keep things fresh.

how to have a debate judge judy

5 | GET WEIRD

Are you bleeding out on the Comments Section operating table? No worries. Use a dictionary definition of a person’s surname to try and win some dignity. You’ll fail miserably and look like someone with the social skills of a stroppy teenager, but hey, you feel good. Low-grade bullying is awesome, right?

how to have a debate

Now this guy was interesting, because while he thought it was acceptable to hold a full inquiry into my surname and origins, he refuses to use his own name. Unless his name is “Mustaccun”, which I  sincerely hope is not the case.

If that fails, repeatedly insist that  you find the person ‘hilarious’, and do your best to belittle the person you’re talking to, because that is totally going to help you win and look like the mature pure-blooded Malteser  bully you are. Prosit, ħaqqek wejfer! (Translation: [Sarcastic] Well done, have a wafer/biscuit) 

how to have a debate in malta

how to have a debate

So there you have it, my internet friends. I really don’t take it personally if you or anyone disagrees with my or anyone else’s views about, well, anything. It’s okay to have different opinions – that’s an incredibly important part of moving forward as a society, and I’d hate to live in a place where everyone had the same thoughts about the same issues. Debating through different points of view is how new ideas are born. 

It’s not, however, okay to be rude, get personal, and insult people for not sharing your opinion. Hiding discriminatory views behind something like religion isn’t just weak, but kinda of insulting to other believers of that faith. It’s not okay to live by the ‘like it or leave Malta’ attitude that so many seem to subscribe to. What gives me hope is that I see a shift in attitudes when I look around my generation and beyond. Some say I’m cynical, but it just gives me hope to see more tolerance and kindness coming through in our society. Be kind to each other. There’s enough hatred around.

-Kelly

Have you ever received insulting/abusive/uncivilised comments in response to a fairly-expressed opinion? How do you handle it? Share in the comments below! 

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difference between bachelors and spinsters
Adult Life, thoughts

The Difference between Bachelors and Spinsters

difference between bachelors and spinsters

For as long as I can remember, the words ‘bachelor’ and ‘spinster’ were universes apart. A bachelor is this cool, good-looking guy who can be in a relationship, but chooses not to. He probably lives in a penthouse with a lot of leather furniture and blue-grey decor, and a turntable playing smooth jazz; a different woman stays over every other weekend a la Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. The charming, eternal bachelor (never a slut) looks at his monogamous friends and sighs; attends weddings and mourns the loss of another brother in arms – after fully enjoying the Stag Night. Being a part of Bachelorville is a magical thing brimming with slick hairstyles and chiseled jawlines – sharp suits and naughty nightcaps.

But Venus help you if you and your uterus are single after a certain age, because you’re this strange creature with scaly green skin, three rows of teeth, and a gnome where your lady-business should be, frantically searching for a mate before those all-important child-bearing years are over. A wild Homo Innupta Tristis – a sad spinster, thrust out into the wild armed with little more than a DVD box set of Bridget Jones’ Diary, a pack of tissues to wipe your salty tears, and your pet cat, probably named Morris, there to keep you company.

difference between bachelor and spinster

Oh, and you’ll have already noticed that the world of bachelors and spinsters is completely heterosexual and cisgender, too. Add that to the list of questions.

Wait, what?

I always felt that there was something not quite right about this uneven split, even though I couldn’t always articulate it. I’d scratch my little head and wonder what exactly the right word would be for a lady who was quite happy to be single (like Charlie Sheen or otherwise). Defeated, I just stuck to an un-imaginative ‘not married’. Or ‘single lady’ (my inner-teen was very excited when Beyoncé released her hand-twisting hit into the world). But once I’d come to terms with that one, my next question was: what do we call a man who’s a spinster? Cue frustration. Enter exasperated tween. Give up and play video games ad nauseum. Give it a couple more years, and I’d soon start asking why we felt the need to assign names to people based on their sexual/relationship status or levels of perceived desirability – that bit came a fair while later.

We’ve tried to sort this out by coming up with the word Bachelorette – which actually isn’t a bad one, but doesn’t solve the problem of double-standards on its own. We need to dig a little deeper into the ideology behind the words. The problem is that with or without those all-important signifiers, males and females are judged differently once they reach a certain age and happen to be single and – yes – childless. And that’s where the biological matter of sex fades away, and the cultural issues of gender and, more specifically, gender roles, come into play. Yes, I’m dropping the G-bomb. Don’t panic.

gender roles

The mental knee-jerk reaction we experience when we hear words like ‘bachelor’, ‘spinster’ or ‘bachelorette’ is based on the way we’ve been taught to perceive and understand the world around us. Before we’re even old enough to mumble one-syllable words like ‘no’ and ‘ka-ka’, the world around us starts to build us into boys and girls, men and women. Blue for boys, pink for girls. Boys play with cars and wear super-hero t-shirts, girls play with Barbies and toy babies, and wear dresses. This might seem absurd to some, but I promise you that that’s just how early it starts – and it just continues, over time, in the subtlest of ways.

Human beings are uncomfortable with anything that can’t be identified, categorised, and slotted into a box for convenience – genres, animal species, men, women, spinsters, bachelors, sluts, players, nerds, geeks, bimbos, and so on and so forth until the end of time. We like clear-cut lines and definitions. We like naming things. When you disrupt this black-and-white division of the world, you cause some serious turbulence. You’re a scary thing that broke out of your category. Where are we going to put you now, weirdo?

Re-definitions

Spinster (noun)difference between bachelor and spinster

An unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage, without children.

The gender problem I outlined earlier is captured quite neatly in this straightforward dictionary definition. This word defines a woman based on two key assumptions:

  1. All women should aspire to be married to a man by a certain age
  2. All women want to have children and be married to a man by a certain age

The view that women are essentially baby-factories waiting for a dapper prince charming to roll up and woo them into oblivion is supposedly convenient for society in the wider sense, but is vastly out of touch with reality. Some women want children, some don’t. Some women get married, some don’t. Similarly, some men prefer staying single, others would rather like to get into a relationship, raise children, et cetera. There’s no good and bad about it, however there is a massive misconception surrounding the subject of singledom. The driving force behind the words ‘bachelor’ and ‘spinster’ is the notion that a man can choose to be single, promiscuous, and not want children, while a woman is single because of some intrinsic flaw that marks her as ‘undesirable’, on the shelf. If she also happens to be promiscuous, then she’s called a slut, by the way.

difference between bachelor and spinster

So perhaps, like many things, it boils down to the question of choice. The fascinating thing about language is that it reflects the culture that creates and uses it; if we look a bit closer, there’s that small suggestion that the word ‘spinster’ is a pretty good snapshot of our society. The word captures this blurred image of a nameless woman, deemed undesirable, who can’t choose to be single or without children. It’s something that happens to her, a melancholy condition she has to ‘cope’ with.

Unless, of course, I’ve missed some critical part about being a human being who happens to have a uterus. Do I not get to level up if I decide not to have kids? Is there an exclusive Femininity Club I can’t be a part of if I don’t have a significant other? Will my ovaries explode if I don’t need to be desirable to men to have a good sense of self-worth? So many questions. 

Anyway, this is a little ramble that came up when I was sipping my cappuccino. What other pairings do you think are total bullshit? Hit the comments and let’s talk about it!

-Kelly

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reasons to keep a journal
Adult Life, thoughts, Writing

Dear Diary: 3 Reasons to Keep a Journal (for Eve.com.mt)

Hey everyone! I wrote a short piece about keeping a journal for eve.com.mt – hit the link below to check it out, and have a great week.

-Kelly x

Far from being restricted to the realm of teen angst and that awkward phase you’re oh-so-eager to forget, keeping a personal journal can actually be pretty damn good for you, both psychologically and emotionally.

Full article here: DEAR DIARY – THREE REASONS TO KEEP A JOURNAL

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