The one article every 20-something year old MUST read

I am so about to get into a mini bitch fit. This week alone I have seen various friends sharing and liking articles from Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog that are peppered with 20-something year old women embarking on risqué activities like flashing their breasts in bikinis + jumping fences that say ‘no trespassing’. The article title is always something similar; ‘why 20-something women need to stop thinking like 30-something women, ‘Relax – you’re only 25′ and my personal favourite, ’10 reasons why getting married at 22 is like leaving the party at 9pm.’

It doesn’t take a genius to realise why these kind of articles get the bee under my bonnet buzzing. I always click on them because I would like to think I could relate to them being a 21 but I always get half way through and notice that they are geared towards two things; painting a carefree picture of 20-something year old life and avoiding monogamy like the plague.

One of the articles I read was just a giant list of why you shouldn’t even THINK about being in a relationship with someone when you are in your twenties because being in your twenties is for having fun and fun only. And everyone knows that being with someone means you aren’t having fun.

I feel these articles are created to make some girls feel good about their existence while victimising and ridiculing others. And it worked because for a split second it made me think; gosh I seem to have my shit pretty well put together … maybe I am missing out?

You see the effect of reading shit like this creates? It has the potential to be very destructive. For both types of women who read them. If you don’t have your shit together and are wandering around aimlessly these articles might serve as a reminder that you are doing everything you should be because you are 20-something. You don’t need to think of the future, have career prospects and you most definitely don’t need to be in a relationship because you should be sleeping around and binge drinking yourself into oblivion every Thursday night.

On the flip side if you do seem to be on a path that seems a little older than your age because life handed you lemons and you grabbed hold of them this article serves as a reminder that you might be too grown and out of touch for your age. You are missing out on all the fun because you are getting married and leaving the party at 9 whiles the rest of us just settling in.

I mean come on! Life isn’t made from a cookie-cutter and not everyone needs to have identical experiences in order to have lived. You may have travelled to Europe, got a degree, jumped out of a plane, paid into your pension, entered a wet T shirt competition, got engaged, bought a car, gone backpacking, moved out of home, discovered you were gay, started a cake business … all this stuff isn’t on some checklist that’s being held in the heavens for when you pass on into the next life. God isn’t going to be waiting for you at the pearly gates to tell you that you can’t come in because you didn’t tick donkey riding in Peru off ‘the life list.’

And doing any of these things out of the sociably acceptable sequence does not mean you are a success or failure. It means you did life the way it came to you. I mean, I was fortunate to have met Matt when I was 20 and I sure as hell wasn’t going to lose him because I was young and thought there was more to be done or had or tasted in the world.

These articles may seem harmless on the surface but they are just another way in which society is imparting its voice on who, what, when, where and how you should be. And in reading them we are choosing to accept these imposed rules.

I’m definitely not saying don’t read them, not by a long stretch. I know that it’s nice to feel connected particularly when you haven’t got your shit together. To know that perhaps someone out there doesn’t too and it’s okay and you’re not off track. I’m just saying, don’t mold your life around these ideals. You are a human and someone else’s idea of living doesn’t have to be your own.

If you want to go on safari and live in a tent for the rest of your life … do it.

If you want to live in your home town & marry your high school sweet heart … do it.

If you want to dress up as the opposite sex and sing ‘I shot the sheriff’ … do it.
(please, I will pay to see.)

The only thing I ask is that you don’t ever put someone down for not walking in your shoes.

Whatever you do, don’t fire me.

People get fired for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don’t. One thing is always true. We aren’t wanted anymore. For whatever the reason, we aren’t wanted anymore. Let that sink in; you aren’t wanted anymore. “But I still want to be there.” It doesn’t matter. You aren’t wanted there anymore. Shake the dust off and walk on. What’s the dust? Resentment, anger, hostility, regret, bitterness…shake off these dust particles. They’re heavier than you think. They’re also unsightly. People look and wonder why you’re covered in dirt, not wanting it to rub off on them. Shake it off. Scrub it off. Do whatever is necessary to get rid of it. – David Horsewood.

It sounds punchy and very hard hitting but the message isn’t to wound or cause distress. It’s almost a little bit of tough love to get you on your next step in life quickly. So you can look back and say, ‘well … that was a blessing in disguise.’

I’ve been thinking about how I would cope with this kind of rejection and long story short, I wouldn’t. Being a people pleaser by nature, if I’ve invested even an inkling of effort into a relationship or job prospect and it doesn’t work the way I want, I feel deflated and crushed.

***

Side note to highlight the extent of my people pleasing
When I first moved to London I applied for what I thought was a reception job at a (bullshit) company called DS Global. After going through the three step interview process which involved scouring the streets and knocking on people’s doors asking for charity sign ups, I didn’t feel comfortable walking away. I knew I didn’t want this job and I felt duped that they would advertise it as a 9-5 desk job but I really wanted to prove to the interviewer that I was the right candidate. My competitive nature also contributed to me completing the interview course and getting the job but that main reason as to why I didn’t walk away on the first day was because I wanted to show I was the one. The one person they were looking to hire and that I could fit any mold that was presented to me. I quit 3 days later.

***

The idea that someone in the world wouldn’t want me for my skills, personality, talent or time is a really distressing concept that just doesn’t sit well with me. And it doesn’t extend to people either.

Fiancé and I went to Lady Dinah’s Cat Cafe to sip tea and stroke the cats one Friday afternoon. I was so excited because I had been waiting for one of these cafes to open since they first became ‘a thing’ in Japan and the day had finally arrived. After sitting patiently for half an hour it was clear the cats weren’t interested in me or sitting on my lap. The rejection completely killed me and drove me to thinking all sorts of crazy things like, ‘why don’t they love me? You’d think they could just pretend to like me. I thought I would be a great crazy cat lady? Great, now I can’t even get that cat Matt promised me when we move to Australia because it won’t even like me. Maybe it’s my perfume? I think it’s too warm in here so they don’t want to be near anyone … no it’s definitely my perfume.’

See! I can’t even cope with the rejection of a cat. Even reliving that experience is making me feel tetchy.

When I saw this quote it really made me think about what I would do if I was ever sacked. I’d like to say I would be able to cope with like a rational adult but the reality is (even after hearing this quote) I know I wouldn’t. I can see it now. I would start out frantically trying to explain all the reasons this was a bad move by the company in hushed tones. Throw a public fit. Smash some things. Lose a shoe. Accept that I’ve burn all my bridges. Emotional eat my way to a size 32. Live the rest of my life with seething aggression towards that company and the people who fired me.

I’m a mess .. the questions is, are you?

Don’t ever trust The Voice within – unless it truly loves you.

There’s cake in the office. It’s placed down beside me and one of my colleagues who is gluten and dairy intolerant. Judging from the rich smells exuding from said cake as everyone passes by it has gluten and dairy in it.

I’ve just eaten so I don’t fancy cake but that doesn’t stop my mouth salivating at the thought of taking a piece … or four. And then Voice kicks in and starts questioning me, why do you want the cake? I don’t. What are you feeling? Not much, I am full and contented. I’m about a 6 on the hunger scale so I’m good. Then why are you thinking about the cake? Because everyone is eating it. Am missing out on something … No, I’m not. It’s the same Sainsbury’s cake they bought in for Mark’s birthday. I’m good, I am not missing out because I’ve had that cake before.

I’m resolved. I don’t want cake.

Casually four or five people start swarming around the cake like locusts ready to feast. Idle chit chat ensues while they cut off a slab one by one and return to their desks. You can hear the odd mutter, ‘Mmmmm just what I needed’ and ‘this would go perfect with a cup of tea.’

And then The Voice starts again.

Are you sure you don’t want some cake? I’ve heard it’s delicious. No, no thank you. Nothing has changed since you first asked me. But Jess said it would go well with a cup of tea and you’re drinking a cup of tea? Yes, I heard her say that but this is green tea and I know chocolate cake doesn’t go well with green tea. Can you please be quiet I am trying to work and I don’t want to eat.

‘Hmmpphhh,’ says The Voice.

At this point I’m not fighting The Voice. This is what I would call a conversation between The Voice and myself (or my stomach). This isn’t like how it used to be. It used to be demanding and restrictive. The Voice now has my best interests at heart but is still primitive in the fact that she hoards food for times of famine and she genuinely believes that any time I am not eating is a time of famine.

And then everything changes.

One of the men in his Capri pants strolls over, takes a piece of the cake and says to me, ‘Isn’t this tempting? Aren’t you on a diet? I suppose you can’t have this?’ And right in that instant, I want cake.

Not because I fancy the cake. Not because The Voice convinced me it could go well with my tea. But because someone in the office came over and opened their big mouth. They ASSUMED I was on a diet and they ASSUMED I would be tempted by something so sinful and off limits.

I can feel my pride and ego burst through my conscious mind and flare up like fireworks on bonfire night because I am NOT on a diet, and I can eat the cake if I choose to!

Suddenly the once calmed Voice is in protest and wants to rebel against this persons passing comment because somewhere in the comment it believes that person was judging it. The Voice believes that this person wasn’t being considerate or concerning but rather judgemental and suggestive that I should be on a diet.

‘How dare he,’ my she shrieks. ‘I will show him, Marnie hand me the cake.’

At this point the stomach, although a little miffed is still in protest against eating.

‘Common, there’s no space in here. Gimme a break!’ he sighs.

‘A break? A break?! Didn’t you just hear him? He said you are fat and intolerable and should be on a diet. He said you can’t have cake! He said you shouldn’t have cake! GIVE ME THE CAKE BECAUSE I WANT TO PROVE THIS FUCKER WRONG,’ cries The Voice.

*****

HOLD UP!

Skip to 1:50 in this video

If you go back for a second and re read what was said you might notice a lot of what I heard was not actually said.

******

I can now see what’s happening so before it goes any further I ask The Voice a few questions.

What are you feeling? Angry, frustrated, annoyed, challenged, fat, unworthy, judged.
Why are you feeling that? Because I’ve changed and someone made judgements on my PREVIOUS eating habits. I did used to be on a diet and I did used to turn my nose up to treats in a bid to ‘be good’ but I don’t do that anymore!
Did this person know you had changed your eating habits? I don’t know. It’s possible they didn’t.
Did this person offend you? Yes.
Do you think they meant to offend you? No.
Do you think you took offense when it wasn’t intended? Maybe.

The Voice knows now that it is in the wrong.

For a second it was propelled back to when I was 12 standing on the patio eating sour cream and chive crisps while my Dad and his friend are having a beer. After a few large handfuls from the bowl my Dad stops mid conversation to focus on me. He says, ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough?’

I immediately reply, ‘No!’ and continue to shove crisps in my mouth except now I am not doing it because I am hungry and enjoying the crisps. I am eating out of rebellion and embarrassment at what my Dad has just asked. I was doing it because The Voice took offense to a comment that was never meant to be offensive had mirrored what I thought about myself in Dad’s words.

Nine years later and I know that my Dad would never have asked that question if he knew how much it would would have stuck with me. If he had known what it was like to be a young girl dealing with immense body issues and that one small statement could have the power to control his little girl for many years after. But the blame doesn’t lie with him and it certainly doesn’t lie with the man who had just asked a question about cake.

The blame lies with The Voice that never got past being an uncomfortable teenager who felt judged by her Dad. The same voice that spurs my ego to life like a peacock presenting its best tail feathers any time it feels challenged or judged. The Voice that still mirrors what it truly believes about me and my tendencies in the things other people say.

If The Voice truly loved me it may have heard my Dad say, ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough? Because your mother is cooking your favourite dinner and I know you won’t want to miss out.’ It might have also interpreted my co-workers comments to mean, ‘Geez sitting next to the cake area all the time would be so tempting if I was on a diet. I know I wouldn’t have your willpower.’

A week ago in my old food restricting ways I would have been able to see my reflection in this one small comment and I would have let it completely destroy me. The Voice would have given in the instant it felt challenged and eaten out of spite. I am sure the longing for more than one slice to numb the feeling of unworthiness would have grown too strong and I am sure it would have lead into a fully fledged binge. But that would have been me then, before I stopped restricting and counting calories and basing my worth around the numbers on the scale.

The me now has given up these things and is learning that past experiences really do have the power to affect you but only you can give them the power to control you. I feel so relieved to know this is one focal point in which I can work on to become one with The Voice. After all, my biggest critic (and I’m sure the same applies to you) is my own Voice. The one that acts on primitive instincts and tries to shield my feelings like an older brother to a sister.

In this instance I think all I need to remember is, at the end of the day people aren’t judging me half as much as I think they are and no one really cares if you eat cake.

beautifulmirror

NOTE- If someone is judging your food choices its either because they are concerned for your health or a fatist/health extremist who secretly despises you for eating the things they restrict in their diet.

Did you know …

Did you know that the best time to give a compliment is the exact time you think it?
I stole that quote from the movie Don Hemingway but that’s not the point.

When was the last time you thought something positive about a beautiful woman who walked past or a man wearing a super sharp suit and said something to them? Did the urge to stop them and say, ‘Red is really your colour. You look fantastic!’ prevail or did you saunter back into your own life letting them and that moment pass?

I can tell you that yesterday I handed out 4 sincere compliments. 2 were to people on the street, 1 was to a colleague and 1 was on Facebook (don’t know if it still counts.) Not because I am a saint but because I would like to think that I could, only for a moment, build a connection between someone who doesn’t and may never know my name. Have a moment with them that is completely selfless. A moment I created in an act of unselfish service to make a stranger feel better. Feel important. Feel valuable and noticed. Isn’t that what we all want? To be noticed …

Well here’s the kicker, if you want to be noticed you’ve got to notice.
Start with seeing the big things like the height of buildings. The sky. The sound of a passing lorry. And work yourself into seeing the small things like the wrinkles that have formed on your parents faces since you’ve been away. The flick of a woman’s hair. The cackle of your co workers laugh.

From there you might even be compelled to FEEL things. The sting of a chilly autumn wind. The legs of your trousers on your skin. Your fingers tapping on a keyboard. The thrum of a heartbeat as you drift off to sleep. What is it to physically feel something?

Once you can see and feel, maybe just maybe the sensory blinders that had been blocking you from noticing life would lift and you would be able to start to appreciate little things. And everything would become magnified as if you had been in a freak accident and you now have super hero noticing powers. Not in a noisy sense though. Not as if you were on ecstasy and everything is louder and brighter and beautiful – but as if you just had the power to hone in on things you knew existed but never really noticed.

Once you can really see and feel and appreciate everyone and everything in its essence and being – wouldn’t you stop feeling so ashamed or nervous about shooting a compliment to a deserving stranger? Wouldn’t you feel compelled to notice the beauty of their skin, perfume, eyes, trouser suit, pocket square and let them know
‘Hey you riding that hotdog. I notice you and I think what you got going on is impeccable.’

Could it be possible that the steps to being noticed is to feel, see, appreciate, learn to notice and then, and only then be noticed yourself? Wouldn’t your appreciation for yourself allow you to inadvertently be noticed by yourself? I don’t know, maybe I am just rambling … my initial blog post was going to be about the correlation between Nutella cupcakes and the Big Bang Theory so I guess you could say I am rambling.

#foodforthought #foodformouth #foodforuniverse?

pauladeen

Visting the dream because I’m not adult enough to live it yet.

So I thought I might update you all about THAT trip to the London – Google HQ because I totally forgot I even owned a blog after I had published the article.

In short the Google office is an adult’s playground. Think free food on every corner, whiteboard walls, your own barista course, Winston Churchill’s very own bath tub in reception, rooms full of instruments, an actual London double-decker bus complete with its own meeting room facilities and the cherry on the cake … a plaque in the women’s bathroom that confirms David Hasslehoff visited the very same offices you are currently in.

Pretty much you dream it Google has it – but like, the better version of it.

The events that took place didn’t involve the foozeball table scenario I had playing out in my mind but it did involve an in-depth tour of the office which was probably better than what I envisioned anyway. No joke, there was food EV.ER.Y.WHERE

Unfortunately all my Google photos are on my old broken phone so I don’t have much to show you. I know, I can hear you scoff as if I made the whole thing up but I didn’t, I promise. To prove the awesomeness of Google HQ I managed to salvage this kick ass picture of me in a row-boat.

Row row row your boat - and don't get out until Google give you a job!!

Row row row your boat – and don’t get out until Google give you a job!!

I GIVE UP!

That’s it.

I have had enough.

I have given up on diets.

Go ahead and let that sink in because from here on out this girl, for the rest of her life will NOT be playing into societies view of beautiful. I have recently taken to reading a few books regarding compulsive eating and without going too far into it all I throw my hands up and admit that I AM A COMPULSIVE CONSUMER! That is, I eat to numb the harsh reality of feeling emotions in their full propensity.

Whether its anger, frustration, happiness, excitement, bordem … you name it, I eat to not feel the fullness of it and to distract myself from something that ultimately cannot destroy me. Yes it can hurt me, make me cry … hell it could slap the biggest grin on my face for a whole day … but it will never destroy me.

But you’ve lost 18kg Marnie, surely your problem can’t be that bad?

Oh but it is. Over the past two years I have counted every single calorie that has past my lips, tracked every bit of physical activity my body has encountered, tried every diet plan under the sun and obsessed about wanting and never been able to eat the foods my heart desires. I’ve thrown my hands up far too many times and said, ‘FUCK IT!!’ only to have my eyes glaze over as I entered into a binge trance and woke up surrounded by cartons of Ben and Jerrys, packets of biscuits and the remainders of my dignity. These things that on the outside seem to have done my body a world of good have depleted my willpower and destroyed every shred of willingness I had to play the diet game.

In a nutshell, I had become a walking talking diet machine that could in detail explain why you shouldn’t eat fruit, how many grams of protein an egg white had and how a full range of motion in a forward facing squat would benefit you best.

The worst part of my daily hell was I would beat myself up.

ALL. THE. TIME.

I felt that my body didn’t reflect the effort I put into being ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’ and that I was not worthy of my own praise. Why should I feel beautiful? I ate cake today. Or even worse. Why should I feel beautiful? I THOUGHT about eating cake today. Pathetic right?

Rewind to Friday 28th March, 2014 and I had begun an awareness journey (how very new age of me) spurred on by reading Geneen Roth’s ‘Women Food and God.’ This book has very simple but freeing guidelines to living a full and fulfilling life without deprivation, desire and everyone’s favourite DIETING.

It has opened my eyes to how it is possible to be worthy of love, praise and all things good without living in the shadow of self hatred and loathing. It is also helping me understand that the best things in life aren’t reserved for the thin and disciplined and that my body is only an entry point to who I am.

I can almost hear your thoughts ticking over saying, “I want this life. I want to love myself. I want to be happy. I want cake!” Whatever it is your mind is whispering, I would urge you to read the book.

Having done so myself, I have realised that being free in my choices with food doesn’t mean that I won’t eat lean chicken breast and two veg for lunch every day. It just means that when I do eat it I won’t begrudge everyone else in the office who has chosen lasagne because I know now that if I want lasagne I bloody well can have the lasagne. The trick is I will only eat the lasagne when I am hungry, to the point of satisfaction and I will stop when I am full.

This may sound so so so absurd to someone who already has this ticker built into them. Someone who’s hunger cues come on slowly and disapparate once they’ve eaten enough. But if you are like me and have tried every diet and training regime under the sun and no longer know when you are hungry then you might just relate. Maybe you are so used to restricting yourself from all ‘unclean foods’ that you are always hungry. Maybe you feel you must eat at certain hours every day so you eat when you aren’t hungry. Maybe you can only sneak food in when you get a spare 10 mins so you shovel anything and everything into your gullet before you have to go back to living. Whatever it is, I hear ya sister and I feel your pain.

I could go on and on about the practices and principles that are instilled in this book but if you are honestly over feeling deprived and half full – or empty depending on how long you’ve been slogging away at the diet machine – then please please please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Geneen Roth’s ‘Women, Food and God.’ Or at least do a quick Google search about the book. Follow her on Facebook. Read someone else’s blog and how they did or didn’t find solace in Geneen’s work – because if it doesn’t work for you then what have you go to lose? A few hours it took to read the book?

What’s that compared to a lifetime full of guilt free chocolate cake?

Image

 

Find yourself within this post – or don’t.

I’ve been deliberating about what would be the first post to grace my blog and to tell the truth it’s not been easy. Would it pay dues to my ‘tagline’ and be about food, exercise and/or wandering? Or would it try captivate you all with a stream of hilarious mean girl gifs?

Well since I’m short on time and mean girl gifs … here it is. My first post.

I hope you enoyed it and found deep elevation (oxymoron?) within it. Remember to keep your eyes open!

Ciao for now.