uncertainty anxiety
thoughts, Writing

The Two Sides of Uncertainty

uncertainty anxiety

A while ago I wrote a short ‘creative’ piece and uploaded it on Medium, a story-writing and sharing platform. I had some thoughts I wanted to share about uncertainty – is it something restricted to the realms of anxiety and sleepless nights, or is it more than that? Is it something we need, as humans, to feel excited in the anticipation of things to come? Is it both? I have a lot of questions. Read away and feel free to share your own experiences of anxiety and the in-between!

There’s a reason, I think, why places like purgatory and the dentist’s stark, white waiting room fill us with a subtle sense of dread. A reason why, being quite an impatient species, we’d rather keep a band-aid on or rip it off, tiny hairs plucked out screaming, in one swift motion, and a reason why the time between the fight and the break up builds a tempest in your chest before things quieten down once more. [Continue reading]

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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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thoughts

It’s starting to get to me.

Ominous title, I know. But you know me – I like to be as blunt and to-the-point as possible. Today’s topic is something that many living on tiny Malta will be familiar with – construction. More specifically, the unbridled spread of construction, cranes, and concrete across the island like some sort of cold, grey plague, and the general ugliness you’ll be smacked in the face with in most of our towns – particularly in central Malta. This is a taste of what you see during an incredible, fiery sunset in my hometown:

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Great view, isn’t it? How about no. It’s depressing, and messy, and it looks like nobody gives a damn. I’m embarrassed to say that this is my hometown. Half-finished apartments, cables and wires reaching across from block to block, and pavements and roads so riddled with holes and craters they’d give Sonny Corleone a run for his money. Of course, we always make sure that the roads used by foreign dignitaries are lovely and smooth, just in time for their visits – to hell with everyone else (i.e. the people who actually live here).

And the cranes. The cranes. 

During my 5-minute walk from my car to work, I counted no fewer than 8 gigantic cranes in St. Julian’s – and that’s without turning my head to look around. There used to be a bit of greenery just before heading down the hill to St. George’s bay, but that’s been ripped down and replaced with – wait for it – more parking spaces for a local taxi company. It bothered me, this assumption that we have the right to eat up every bit of nature or beauty in favour of more money and more parking spaces and more concrete.

If it’s not the cranes, it’s the so-called “Malta Planning Authority.”

I say ‘so-called’ because it’s less about the planning, and more about selling any piece of land or tearing down any building, regardless of historical and aesthetic value, to the highest bidder. There are some stunning town houses and villas dotted around central Malta, Sliema in particular, and it seems the ‘Planning Authority’ is perfectly fine with adding eyesore after eyesore, paying no mind to what the impact will be on the town or community as a whole. They’ve got a whopping 1.7 star review rating on their Facebook page, and if you ask me, that’s pretty generous. Check out what locals have to say about their ‘planning’ and you’ll see what I mean.

Where do ‘they’ draw the line? Why do we seem so powerless to do anything about it? How is it that we can have Valletta 2018 and the EU presidency on the one hand, and this, on top of the rampant corruption and general failure to govern on the other? You do know that Joseph Muscat hasn’t properly dealt with Konrad Mizzi’s Panama scandal, right? Why is Konrad Mizzi even working with the government at all? The list or questions goes on and on, so I’ll hit pause there. We just don’t deserve the EU presidency if our PM can’t clean up his own house. 

That’s what I’d love to know. Right now, I just feel like running away from this hot mess.

-Kelly

Check out a 2013 article about this issue here, and feel free to share your own thoughts and links below! 

 

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T.S. Eliot the love song of j alfred prufrock
thoughts

Thursday Thoughts & T. S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot the love song of j alfred prufrock thursday thoughts

So I’ve never written anything like this (i.e. thinking out loud) before, but hey – why not? I was going through some photos I took yesterday, and stopped at this one. It’s nothing special, just a photo of the sea – something which we have in abundance here in Malta, a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean, sandwiched between Europe, Africa, and everyone else. Something about it (don’t ask me what or why, because for the life of me I don’t know) reminded me of T.S. Eliot, one of my favourite poets, and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – a beautiful poem I studied when I was reading for my master’s. It’s a pretty long poem, and I’d recommend listening to it here, but here’s the ‘full’ quote in all its poignant glory:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

Something about this part of the poem resonated with me. Maybe it’s the sense of apprehension Prufrock feels, the ping-ponging of ideas and lukewarm decisions that plague and terrorise those so unsure about what to do next or how to do it, scaring themselves out of taking action in the process. Maybe it’s the potentially-maddening routine he captures in his ‘evenings, mornings, afternoons’ and coffee spoons. Maybe, being a coffee fiend, I just remembered the coffee. I don’t know, but I just wanted to share this particular poem on my little piece of internet in general, and with you in particular. Read it. Enjoy it. I won’t go into any more detail about the poem or my thoughts on it because I don’t want to colour your own interpretation, but I would love to hear what you think about it and how it makes you feel. Hit the comments if you’d care to share, fellow literature-lovers.

Have a great Thursday!

-Kelly 

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reading
Adult Life, thoughts

New Year, Same Me

Happy New Year, ladies and gentlemen! Now that the festive season and all the food, parties, and self-indulgence it brings with it are fading away into your Instagram feed, we can finally sit down together for a little 2017 chat. Tea? Check. Biscuits? Also check. Alright let’s get started.

new year's resolution tea

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I can be a little very cynical when it comes to the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ mantra. What’s wrong with ‘old’ you? And what’s so new about ‘new you’ just because you’ve changed your hair colour, bought yourself a fantastic new handbag, or started going to the gym? These are all fine, noble pursuits and pretty exciting on a personal level, but they’re not really ‘profound’ enough to actually change your already-great self, are they? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a case of ‘New Year, better me’, by which I mean you continue to work on being the best version of yourself you can be, no matter what that thing you’re working on may be. It might sound a tad cheesy, but hey – some cheese is good.

So rather than giving you a wishlist of all the things I’d like to start doing this year, I’m going to change things up a little with a look at 4 things I want to continue doing this year. Here we go.

1. Learning how to cook

learning to cook

A fair few posts ago, I talked about learning how to bake. It’s not that I don’t like baking, but actually cooking a full meal is way more satisfying to me (and generally less naughty). Right now I’m trying to learn a little more about Japanese dishes like ramen, onigiri, and omurice, but I also love trying different Italian recipes. It’s a slow process, but I’ve got some willing test-subjects to help me along the way and taste my cooking. Poor things.

2. Reading more

reading

For a while I would scratch my head, wondering where all my reading time had gone. When I was doing my A-levels, I could devour an entire book in one day, so what happened? Here’s what happened – Netflix and social media. Oops. In 2016, I worked on getting things under control and made time for my beloved books, and there’s no reason to stop this year. I own almost 400 books – it’s not like I’ll run out of reading material any time soon.

3. Choosing quality over quantity

new year's resolution

And I’m talking specifically about clothes, shoes, make up and accessories that might cost more, but last longer and usually feel better. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good bargain and will never stop hitting Primark as long as I live and breathe, but there’s no way in hell that you’ll catch me spending hours trawling through the place and leaving with 3 or 4 bags of socks and (future) regret. These days, I tend to make it out of there with one bag of goodies and zero pounding headaches, and I try to invest in better-quality brands for my wardrobe staples.

4. Keeping it simple

new year's resolutions

I generally try to use this approach in most areas of my life – writing, recipes, relationships, and even my personal style. When it comes to writing, I’m positively ruthless when it comes to editing and chopping off entire sentences or paragraphs which add nothing to the work. When it comes to recipes, well I just don’t have the skills to try more complex cooking – but we’ll get there eventually. Relationships – no games, tell the truth, and always say what’s on your mind (even if you might be wrong). When it comes to what I wear – as I’ve grown into a semi-functioning adult, I find simpler cuts and colours more appealing than the patterns, prints, and slogans of my teenage years – but I won’t shy away from the occasional over-the-top necklace, though. Keeping things simple is liberating. 

That’s all for today – have a prosperous year, guys.

-Kelly

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hades disney funny
Adult Life, Funny, thoughts

5 Things Maltese Atheists are Tired of Hearing

As our charming yet construction-ridden slice of the Mediterranean is dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century (barely), atheists  in Malta feel that they can be a little more open about their views, both online and in their day-to-day lives. I should probably take a minute to clarify my understanding of the term ‘atheist’ here, just to avoid any confusion:

atheist (noun)
  1. a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods. Not particularly a fan of Satan either.

I’m not entirely sure if you experience something similar where you’re from, but here in Malta saying you’re an atheist is basically like saying ‘I just sacrificed a goat to Beelzebub before coming over’, and you get the look. That being said, non-believers all over the island have to deal with some pretty ridiculous questions and comments – and those questions make for some pretty good laughs. When you’re done weeping for humanity, that is.

1. Imma…your parents know? 

Translation: “But…do your parents know?” 

Wait, is this even any of your business? Why shouldn’t they know? Will they disown me? The fact this is an actual ‘concern’ is a concern.

things atheists tired hearing house of cards

2. But how can you have morals without religion?

Look buddy, if you need to be afraid of an omnipotent figure and the threat of eternal damnation to put you off killing people, then there are bigger things to worry about than someone’s atheism. Having morals and being a good person is more about how your parents raise you and who you are than just doing it to avoid hell. Hell – also known as the place kids are taught to be terrified of. The one with the fiery abyss. You know the one.

the office things atheists tired of hearing

3. Aren’t you worried you might go to hell?!

This is awkward because you need to believe in heaven and hell to be concerned about the matter…

hades disney funny

4. Why don’t you come to my prayer group?

I appreciate the offer – but no thank you. Because you don’t see me recruiting you into my (non-existent) atheist group. Let’s go have some tea instead.

tea gif atheists

5. Ara tgħidx lin-nanna ta!

Translation: “Don’t you dare tell your grandmother!”

God forbid you should tell your adorable grandmother/aunt/in-laws/5th cousin twice removed/Joey tal-ħaxix that you’re a heathen. (See what I did there?)

i am lord voldemort gif atheists malta

That’s all from me for today, folks. Remember – no matter what your views on religion/atheism are, remember that they’re your views. Don’t try to force it on other people, and don’t be a hypocrite.

-Kelly

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thoughts

My Top 5 YouTubers Right Now

If memory serves, the first Youtuber I ever properly followed was Ray William Johnson from =3, a channel devoted to taking a look at recent viral videos with hilarious commentary and an excellent Watchmen comic background. This was around 7 or 8 years ago, and although I’ve ditched poor Ray I’ve discovered a bunch of new content creators that have me absolutely hooked on their channels. Here are 5 of my favourites in no particular order!

iisuperwomanii – Lilly Singh

I first followed Lilly Singh because I thought her videos were just plain funny (especially the ones where she’d parody her own parents), but quickly discovered that ‘Superwoman’ was an all-round inspirational powerhouse encouraging women to build each other up in a world where we’re taught to see each other as competition. Bravo, Lilly.

Sharla In Japan / Sharmander

This Canadian ray of sunshine is one of my all time favourites when I’m looking for anything and everything related to Japan. I’m planning to visit the country in the near future, so her videos give some great insight into what Japan is like, where you might like to visit, and what kind of (sometimes rather strange) food you should sample. And there is a very, very cute cat named ‘Maru’ involved.

NB: It’s almost impossible to mention Sharla without giving a quick shoutout to awesome Youtubers like Kim Dao, Taylor R, Rachel and Jun, Micaela, Mimei, and Texan in Tokyo. In truth, I watch all of these brilliant J-vloggers in equal measure! 

Abroadin Japan – Chris Broad

Are you sensing a theme here? I confess – I’m a little obsessed with Japan. Chris Broad is the sarcastic and dry-humoured host of Abroad in Japan, an excellent channel covering a pretty awesome range of topics, including personal favourites like ’12 Tips for Learning Japanese’, ‘Teaching Swear Words to Japanese People’, and ‘Reading your Ridiculous Hate-filled comments’. Here’s the video that got me hooked on the channel:

4 Refinery 29

This channel is just top quality when it comes to lifestyle videos, but my absolute favourite series is called Try Living with Lucy. Lucy Fink is a charismatic 20-something stop motion artist and YouTuber with a penchant for taking up 5-day challenge like this one below – it almost got a heavy sleeper like me into waking up early, and that’s saying something!

5 Just Kiss My Frog – Leena

I stumbled upon this quirky channel when looking for videos about studying English as an undergraduate many moons ago. I’ve been totally hooked ever since thanks to an intoxicating combination of brains, wit, (beautiful) books, body positivity, and a generally magical personality that has any subscriber feeling as though they’re sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat with their good friend Leena.

Do you have a favourite YouTuber I should know about? Just link me in a comment below! 

Kelly

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Adult Life, thoughts

Positively Body Positive

“The Body Positive Movement is a feminist movement that encourages women and/or female-identifying people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being.”

– The Body Positive Organisation 

I remember a particular moment when I was young – around 13 years old. It was summer, and I was sitting down in my characteristically ungraceful way, when I suddenly felt a sense of absolute horror at the way my thighs filled the seat when I sat down. Why do they look like that? The ladies on TV and in magazines didn’t have legs that did that. Look at them! They’re huge (they weren’t). I must be fat. I’m definitely fat and ugly. That’s why that boy in class doesn’t like me. And my TEETH – they’re not straight enough! Oh my God this is a disaster. My hair never looks right either. I don’t want to go to the beach with the boys, my tummy has rolls when I sit down! 

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Above image is not the same Kelly I’ve just described

And then came the inevitable comparison against my friends’ bodies (especially the petite ones), not just that day but for quite a few years to come. The thing is that, despite being a healthy weight for my age and height, I’d repeatedly find myself staring at my reflection and sucking my stomach in to see what I’d look like, or physically flattening my stomach to see how it must feel to look like girls ‘should’ look. This sort of thing happened for years and year and influenced what I wore, how I felt and to a certain extent, how I acted.

It’s only around 3 years ago that I slowly started pulling myself out of this damaging yet widespread mindset. I did start exercising regularly (later taking up kick boxing), and that did help me feel better about my body, but losing weight didn’t necessarily mean that I felt positive about how I looked. I could wear the clothes I wanted to wear, and shopping completely stopped feeling like a trial by fire in the changing room. There was still, however, that obsession with sucking it in and comparing myself to the other beautiful women around me.

Enter, BodyPosiPanda – aka the stunning and vibrantly-coloured Megan Jayne Crabbe. I don’t know how I discovered her on Instagram, but I’m glad I did; she describes herself as a ‘body positive feminist ed warrior’ – and she certainly is. I’ve learnt to be kind to myself and be positive about my body; to change the horrible things being said in that inner-monologue. To resist looking at myself through the eyes of someone being paid to photoshop the hell out of an image of a woman into what society has taught us is right.   We are so much more than numbers on a scale, or calories in a chocolate bar. Be healthy, but also be happy. If there’s one thing I regret, it’s the outfits I didn’t wear and the time I spent agonising over bits of my body that I had been taught to hate and wished I could just cut out with a big pair of scissors.

 

That’s why I want need to share this with you – because we need body positivity to be everywhere, and this is just how I’d like to do my bit. Do follow bodyposipanda and spread the body-posi-love.

Kelly

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Adult Life, thoughts

The Importance of Being (Okay) Alone

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Over the last year or so I’ve probably written and re-written and deleted this post a dozen times; maybe that’s because I know the whole subject of being alone versus loneliness is quite a sensitive one to many. I’ve been away for a while, busy flitting between work and a trip to the UK to visit family, but I’ve had some time to myself to think about this. Let’s give this a shot. 

The world is saturated with quotes and films which lead us to think that we’re perpetually in search of some other half, implying some sort of lack on the part of the single person. There’s a sense that you should be looking for someone to complete you because as things stand you’re incomplete. You need to go out and hunt that ‘other half’ down before all the available men and women are taken by more fortunate parties. If you’re alone, then you damn well better be feeling lonely because that’s just how things work. Right? Wrong.

Now before I start to sound cynical, here’s a quick disclaimer to let you know that I’m all for the romance and the fluttering feeling you get when that guy you like looks at you, talks to you, or likes your latest selfie on Facebook. And don’t get me started on when the date happens – I’m a sucker for all of that good stuff (especially if said date involves excellent food).

What I’m not a fan of is perpetuating the idea that a person isn’t complete unless they’ve got a significant other. The anxiety and misery that this type of thinking creates is not just unfair but bordering on the ridiculous – and I regret not having realised this sooner (which explains why I’m writing this, hoping that it might help someone else realise this earlier on in life than I did). If you’re constantly in search of an ‘other’ to complete you, you’re walking around feeling like you’re not good enough, like there’s a big hole in your chest; that’s just not right and definitely not healthy. Instead of embracing the notion that you should be out there looking for ‘the one’ why aren’t we helping people realise that being okay alone is what comes first, before getting into a relationship? Why aren’t we helping people value themselves as whole, complete human beings who don’t need someone else to function on a day-to-day basis?

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When that special person does come along, then what you’ve got is a really great partner to go on adventures with. I don’t mean Indiana Jones style adventures (but I’m not discouraging that) – I mean life in general with all the possible experiences waiting at every turn, whether it’s trying out that new Indian restaurant or planning your next trip together.  What we need to look for isn’t another half, because we’re already whole. What we’re looking for is another whole to complement your own complete self. And when that happens, it’s beautiful and you are ridiculously happy.

But don’t forget that you are okay in solitude. Your time alone with yourself is valuable – use it well. We spend so much time giving our energy to the world out there that we need the down-time to recharge and build ourselves up as individuals. It’s about having time to read a book, do something creative, exercise, unwind, or simply reflect on the week’s events and write a few lines in your journal. Invest time in yourself. Be kind to yourself and be okay alone because you deserve to feel whole and there’s nothing wrong with it. At the end of the day, you might end up giving yourself the space you need to see that you’re not really as alone as you felt in the first place.

That’s my 2 cents, anyway.

Kelly

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