Thursday, 3 September 2015

Expectation vs Reality.

More often than not I face a sense of wild disappointment in my 'reality' when I've lead up to it with a very much romanticised 'expectation'. Having a vivid imagination can tint any actualities in a less than magical way. I let my mind run away from me as I conjure up the reality I would like, and then I have to reassure myself that, yes, everything is as good as I wanted it to be it's just a matter of being in the moment, when the moment actually arrives. Whether 'expectation' and 'reality' are all that separate - depending on where you categorise 'reality' and its realness - they never seem to match up. The most obvious explanation to me is that my ability to be in the moment comes much more readily when I lose myself to my imagination and I forget to focus on my surroundings than when I am desperately trying to observe myself in a real situation. The key is the conscious production of thoughts and ideas versus the subconscious. Over thinking has never been a good thing.

I can compare my acknowledgement of my expectations and realities today to those I experienced as a child to notice the effect awareness can have on my concept of time and the events in between. Until I was about 12 Christmas would always be the most enrapturing, fantastic day of the year. The sensation of utter joy was unrivalled. I would go to bed the night before with butterflies in my stomach and sleep restlessly, dreaming of possible realities for the next day until I would wake up and each one of those expectant dreams were actually surpassed. The day would always seem to carry on forever as if there was no limit for the excitement surrounding the celebrations. I was so completely in the moment that time spread out and slowed down as I forgot to notice its passing. I was not time's prisoner, I was just walking along beside it.

Now I think that Christmas day gets shorter and shorter, despite the fact I no longer go to bed at 8:30 pm. In my desperate attempts to 'make the most of' the reality I feel as if time is running away as I force myself to enjoy each moment. Enjoy this, I will think to myself as the moment passes and I barely brush its surface because I've incased myself in my thoughts. Time seems to be speeding along, as it does, I am told, always appear to do for the older folks and I can't seem to stop telling myself to enjoy it and just be in it. My expectations and realities go hand in hand with time because when I daydream I have no care for it and when I am living in a moment I constantly worry about the time running out from under my feet. When I daydream long periods of time pass without my noticing and I have lived in a little peace, but I shatter these dreams each time I try to replicate them in a reality that should be allowed to play out by itself.

If I thought a little less perhaps my realities would become greater than my expectations, but teaching a mind growing in awareness and unwanted cynicism to be calm and let itself become encircled by whatever event unfolds itself is proving a little more difficult than I ever expect.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Keeping up with Myself.

I have technically kept a diary since I was 9 years old when my cousin gave me a large notebook with a picture of a kitten on the front. That was like most other people's experience of a diary; I only ever wrote in it with intervals of at least 6 months. The early entries are quite amusing. "Mum was Really angry cos I didn't lay the table when she asked me and we were just doing something and then we were walking towards the door and she got histerical and I said shutup and now i'm up here! NOT EATING! I made up with mum and had a delicious tea."

But now in this past year I have begun to really and truly 'keep a diary'. This diary is no longer the sporadic and always impassioned work that it used to be, nor is it the public sort of diary that I keep up here. This new diary is perhaps much more private, and much more dear to me. The entries are a little more thought out, or at least better written. And better spelt. Instead of being a method of release when I'm angry or upset and being filled with lines like "MUM IS BEING HORRIBLE TODAY" the diary is more a means of catching the thoughts I have whenever I feel it necessary for them to be caught.

It's an extremely therapeutic process. I splurge real life, real time, unfiltered thoughts and feelings onto the page and then I get to look back at bite sized moments of my life whenever I please. I record the memories that I want to keep shiny and new and I figure stuff out by letting confusing or interesting thoughts and ideas flow. Sometimes it is just a snippet of my teenage dirtbag moods and experiences, other times I make an effort to record something vaguely poetic. I want to always keep a diary. It helps you to not forget those moments that get lost forever if not quickly noted down soon after. I hate forgetting those moments, and this way I never can.

I do not write in it every night religiously,  I don't always have something to say. I am just creating a physical place to store a few favourite or interesting memories. Perhaps it is to romanticise my own life a little by decorating a particular moment with frilly words and expressions, perhaps it is to anchor my existence to a flimsy little notebook. But I do know that I look forward to the years to come to sit down and enjoy the person I once was at 17, 18, 19 and all the other moments I am waiting for.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Exams do not mean shit (and other excuses for any existing student)

In Britain today every 17/18 year old will be receiving their results for their A Levels. For many it is a relatively crap day. You wake up with nerves jangling - if you were even lucky enough to get a good night's sleep - and you anticipate the worst no matter who you are. You have waited around three months for this day, and now it is here and you must face a sort of future. University, retakes, choices and even going back to school at all are all the stakes in line here.

However, if you have worked hard you will most likely do well. Whether this means a stellar results sheet or whatever is required to get you into the university of choice the effort you put in is almost always reflected in what you get. 
Unless, of course, we take into account the fact that the exam paper may have been especially hard, or completely unexpected, or you felt really quite ill on the day. In those cases no matter how clever or hard working or passionate you are something will go wrong for you. An entire future can be based upon a tiny letter written on a piece of paper and if that hour and a half in the exam room was not your finest then needless to say you will face disappointment. I also say entire future because I would like one adult to honestly tell me the other valid and successful options to begin my grown up life other than going to a good university. Society and government are obsessed with attending higher education like never before and so undeveloped, hormone ridden teenagers must push themselves under a mountain of undesired pressure to reach the holy grail of education so that their step by step life can begin and we can all hope to contribute taxes in the next few years. Hurrah. 

It is almost universally assumed at my grammar school that not going to university can cause some deep and regrettable dissatisfaction with life because anything else must be totally awful. We were literally told by a guest speaker one afternoon that "People who attend university have greater satisfaction with life". I would like to know who vomited that out as a 'fact'. I can hardly believe it to be at all true. 

This morning when I went to collect my own results I was being rather harsh on myself for not doing as well as I'd hoped in one subject. I was actually crying. It probably looked pathetic. I can still go to a fantastic university with this result. I am not entirely sure what my problem is. I suppose the inescapable self comparison with my fellow classmates is part of the issue. And then the fact that I am a self diagnosed perfectionist who secretly hopes for good fortune to be handed to her on a plate doesn't aid the situation at all. Perhaps it is because now I cannot apply to a university I had hoped to go to since I was very young. As a disclosure I should say that I didn't actually like it too well when i visited. But I guess it's the not being able to say "I told you so" to all those who said "Ooh that's ambitious" when I told them where I wanted to be. Either way I was upset. I was under the impression for a short while that this result was important. I kept forgetting it didn't actually degrade my quality of life in any sort of way. 

And then on the way home whilst I quietly sobbed to myself about the slightly disappointing outcome of a single exam I noticed the bin lorry on its round of the local houses. Inside the lorry one of the bin men was dancing. He had a smile on his face. He looked happy. And then I came back to reality.
I didn't know whether any of these men had been to university or what they'd done at school or how well they'd done but I did know that they weren't slitting their wrists at the side of the road because they hadn't gone through an uninspired system just to get into an essentially worthless office job. They were doing something useful and beneficial to everyone in the surrounding area. That seems extremely satisfying. I have always heard people joke that if their exam results didn't go well they'd just become a bin man. "It's okay it's always been my preferred profession anyway." they'd say sarcastically, inside they were hoping that it would never become an ironic reality. But really I don't see how they would be any less content with a job as a bin man than with any other career. They would still be loved, still be capable of loving others, still be able to read, still be able to discuss and debate, still be able to dance and drink and eat. 

I think that it is rather difficult to remember that one's life and quality of life does not hang by a thin thread off the edge of whatever results one receives from doing A Levels. I even think that people often forget there is always a solution. Even if you've done very well it is easy to feel a pang of disappointment if it still wasn't what you expected. It is easy to forget that in the grand scheme of things, in the great bowl of happiness and joy that should be your life, exams really don't mean shit. They will not bring you unyielding pleasure, they will not bring you your family, or your friends, they will not bring you the ability to enjoy living. 

Even if you are the world's biggest perfectionist and your marks are not in fact perfection please refrain from berating yourself. Exam results do not accurately measure your intelligence, or even your commitment to hard work, nor do they measure how much you enjoy the subjects you take. Exam results will never be able to affect the brilliance of your life effectively. Life is good still. Life is always good. Exams do not mean shit. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Supporting Black Rights as a Clueless White Girl.

I am a white, middle class, privileged and educated young woman whose surrounding area has a black population of approximately 0.1%.

My only troubles are those of past anxiety disorders and an overbearing sense of the black hole of the rest of my existence. I face discrimination as a woman, technically, but my own experience as a feminist comes from wanting to ensure the life of equality I lead within my family and amongst friends for other women who suffer far more than I ever will.

In short, I live a relatively care free and happy existence with opportunities (hopefully) laid out in abundance before me if I choose to get my act together and pursue a path with passion and enthusiasm. That is all I need to do for myself. I have unbending support from my family and friends and teachers and, even, society. Mostly I fit into what society would like as an ideal: White, Middle Class, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Eloquent, Polite. I could go to anywhere in North America and most likely be welcomed - before I opened my mouth and said something liberal, socialist or radical in some areas - and I would certainly not face any trouble with the police unless it was warranted.

I would not be singled out, ridiculed, or even hated by an upsettingly large group of people for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I would not be shot in the back for my skin colour without even holding a weapon myself. No one could come up with a name laden with a history of a dark, dark oppression and brutal slavery to lower and undermine my being. I would not have to fear the authorities whose sole purpose is to 'protect me'. I would not be sectioned by history and society to live in one area with my people because I would be received with hospitality anywhere I went. I would not still be facing a looming and obvious discrimination in the place of my birth for the way that I looked.

I would be allowed to exist as a human with a right to liberty in the constrained and often misconstrued sense of the word. I would be absolutely fine and dandy because I am white. Setting aside issues I may otherwise face as a woman I would be safe and looked after. I would not be essentially dehumanised by a system of oppression against what I am and where I come from.

Frankly what I am trying to say, in a rather long winded manner, is that I can never truly understand the suffering and the fear and the injustice that black people face in America - and sometimes here too - in a first hand way. I have no right to question those in the middle of the movement against racism because I cannot know how awful, how agonising, how frustrating it is. I cannot say to black women that I am in the same boat because how dare I even begin to think that our situations are similar. As women we will face discrimination for our gender, as black women they will face an agenda against their existence.

Therefore my only issue is this: I struggle to know how to truly support anti-racism movements. I do not want to offend, belittle, or patronise a people who know discrimination in a 'free land' like no other. But I support and believe in their battle and rights with my whole heart. I will stand with them, or just on the outside in encouragement if it is not my place to shout out. I am wholly revolted by the bitter and poisonous racism that exists in frightening quantities in today's 'liberated' west.

I will express my utter distaste for any form of racism openly for really it is all I have the ability to do and I will fully support those who are still afflicted with a deadly prejudice. I will just stand in solidarity with those who still suffer for it is -  in the way of black and white, good and bad - the right thing to do.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The creeps we shall encounter.

We have been staying in Paris for a week - my friend Anneli and I - and a day ago we had been walking along the Seine after having had lunch underneath the Eiffel Tower. It was a fantastic day. The type of day where everything is exciting and new and beautiful. And it continued to be such a day, for the most part, without counting this unfortunate encounter. The bank of the Seine on which we were walking has been painted with geometric shapes and board games and small, box type rooms act as libraries and caf├ęs and toilets along the way. Anneli had gone to use one of the toilets and I had gone to wait at a table where the top was decorated with the board of a game of Ludo. It was warm and I was calm and sleepy and happy.

When Anneli returned a man came to ask in French if we could take his picture for him. Of course I obliged, he was just a tourist like us. I followed him over to the edge of the water and he told me where to stand to take the photo. I then had to try my very best not to burst out laughing and look knowingly at Anneli whilst he posed like an amateur model and walked towards me as if on a catwalk. He looked ridiculous. "C'est bien?" I asked holding out the crappy camera knowing that really the photos could never be very good. He told me they were great and I was ready to walk away, the deed of being a kind stranger nearly over. But then he strangely asked me to be in the photo with him which, obviously, is not a thing a stranger would agree to. However, being slightly out of my depth for a moment and a little confused I stupidly agreed. The camera was so awful you wouldn't be able to tell it was me anyway. And then we stood to pose, awkwardly, and I felt a hand slide with an unwelcome familiarity around my waist. I think if you looked at the photo a short moment of distress would be painted on my face. I wanted to get away. But I didn't feel ready to make a fuss. I still don't know why. Anneli and I were now sharing frequent glances of worry and began to give his camera back and move away. He asked another question I couldn't quite understand but the gist I got was that he wanted to look into my eyes. I got that gist because he had tried to turn my face towards his. Please no. I remained polite, "non merci", and began to edge away. Any decent person would have noticed my friend and I were uncomfortable, and yet he still stood a little too close to us. I think now is a good time to point out that this man looked as if he could have been about 15 years older than me. Anneli and I more forcefully moved away still politely declining his perverted advances. He still persisted. He kissed me on my cheek before we made a more urgent move. I continued to say No, Thank You.

No, thank you? How about "Back off you perverted creep get away from me!"? Unfortunately, however,  I didn't say anything remotely close to that. I would have liked to have made it much cruder.

We walked a little while away before I began to feel a little bit disgusting. I didn't want to have been in that situation, and I am ashamed at the weakness I expressed in my inability to tell him to back off. I felt  a bit sick. I literally washed my face with hand sanitizer. I wanted to forget the entire debacle. Why did I let him do that to me? I feel such an awful idiot. For all my feminist rants and beliefs the moment I faced a violation of my personal space as a woman confronted by a man I stood in waiting without moving to defend myself. I let him get away with it. I didn't even shout at him afterwards. Why?

I kept asking Anneli if she'd seen him take something from my bag, perhaps that was his game. No, just a perverted photo for who knows what purpose that I let myself be in.

Had I been caught off guard? I guess so. Was I scared? A little, but I think I was too confused to really comprehend or analyse the situation first hand. I think I was naive. I had been having a nice day with a nice friend and with nice French people telling us where to go when we got a little lost. We hadn't planned to meet a creep in broad daylight by the river Seine. I suppose I remained polite as a defence mechanism. Really all I wanted was to get away. In such a bizarre experience I felt I had no opportunity to unleash an anger I know is normally within me for these exact situations. Because of course, despite their unexpected timings, these situations are to be anticipated for pretty much every single woman and girl in their life times. I don't exaggerate. I really didn't believe that I would go through my life without meeting a man who wanted to exploit me or violate me in some way. I would have to meet one or two at some point. One of them happened to be met the other day.

After it had happened Anneli and I discussed how much safer we'd feel if we had one of our male friends with us. We wished to be protected. We felt vulnerable. Suddenly thrown from a nice, sunny day in Paris to an existence in which we must be perpetually on edge looking for men who may wish to do things to us we do not desire to happen to ourselves.

We are young, strong minded, confident women in Paris and we feel a little wary, a little unsafe, of what next we may encounter.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

What even is this?

Most of the time - in fact - every time I tell somebody that I write a blog they ask me what it's about. Oh, I say suddenly racking my brain for an explanation of the half decent ramblings I like to splurge out now and again, it's sort of... social commentary? But is it? I think I stole that from somebody who categorised it in that way when I tried to explain what I liked to write about but really I'm not sure if it always fits into that.

For almost every single blog post I write I have very little idea of what I am talking about. I suppose you could say my blog is observational, I take an idea or something I am interested in and then I write directly what thoughts I have about it in that moment. And then I post, and that is that. I do not have a fashion blog, a life style blog, or even a social commentary blog. I just have a blog for my thoughts and ideas. Which, perhaps, is the original concept for a blog.

Often I wonder if one day I will look back at previous posts and feel deeply embarrassed that I could ever think such a thing or write in such a way. In total honesty I have done that quite frequently before, but I never dare take it down, for it would damage the nature of The Fully Intended. Where my posts have few consistent themes or can contradict their own ideas they do all consistently reflect my thought processes. The workings of my inner mind, or just outside the innermost part, are concentrated here for all to see. I am figuring things out this way, perhaps, for all of you to witness. It is possible I have just been writing a very public, very embarrassing diary for the last 3 years in which anyone can read how I have been growing and learning and developing my ideas and identity since the age of 14. Although truthfully I enjoy that idea.

I do hope that as I get older and my outlook changes my posts become richer and better written. But I also appreciate the record of how my outlook alters with time and the insight it can give you for being aware of your own mental development. Perhaps the next time I talk to somebody about my blog and they ask what it's about I should just tell them it's an enriching experience for myself and a public diary for mostly everyone else. As time moves on I will still have no idea of what I am talking about, but I hope this small, insignificant journey is as bizarre and enjoyable for just a few other people as it is for myself.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Fiery Women.

                                                                     Source: via

I am about to carry out a personal investigation into the feminist ideals of female protagonists in As You Like It and Top Girls as a part of my Pre-U English literature qualification. When I described my idea to my teacher she pointed out that in both, despite being written in completely different eras, the feminist ideals I was looking for were constructed by feisty, defiant women. I hadn't quite thought about it before (I had only just made up the question for the essay) but I realised had deliberately gone searching for characters who in some way fought against the status quo, defied at least some small aspect of stereotyped femininity for any period and were gutsy whether it made them likeable or not. I had looked for fiery women because, for me, that became synonymous with feminism. Women who had been oppressed and spoke out in some manner against their oppression, or questioned their state of being, with an air of defiance were exactly what I was looking for. 

I did not care for female characters who were still slaves to a male writer's idea of femininity and who, despite expressing some form of oppression, were quiet and well behaved and downtrodden. I cared for women who were actively speaking out (even if in Shakespeare's case this could have been unwitting) against standards of delicacy, obedience, and pleasantness for the female form. 

But does this then mean that only fiery women, both fiction and non-fiction, can become feminist idols? Or is it due to my own personality that I find myself attracted to such a quality in who I admire? Even celebrities like Zooey Deschanel who on the outside look kooky and sweet and harmless I consider to be defiant in the unapologetic manner with which they simultaneously carry their darling appearance and continue to express feminist thinking. 

The thing is in order to be agreeing with feminism and having it mean the belief in equality one must automatically be unapologetic, defiant and angry in some way. Even with a sweet demeanour there must be some fire within you to be questioning the justice in the treatment of men and women throughout every aspect of society. Therefore, does a woman who is simply nice and compliant and who does not speak against any whisper of oppression qualify at all to be a feminist idol even if placed in a situation in which they passively question the ideals of their own gender? Would that even provide anything to greatly admire?

I know girls who are quiet and shy and very, very nice but who also call themselves feminist and get angry about injustice and so in my mind that still makes them defiant.  The fire and the anger is still there and the patience for sexism lacks somewhat so they are still gutsy. 

I should conclude therefore by answering my own question by saying that, yes, only fiery women and characters can become feminist idols because there must be some defiance within one's person to fight against any form of oppression. It does not necessarily mean that they are overtly obstinate but simply their level of patience for bullshit is relatively low. Women who are in some way ardent about their beliefs in the face of disapproval or oppression represent feminist ideals: they are not willing to sit submissively in the face of discrimination.  So I will continue to look for these ideals, high and low, for research purposes and for my own satisfaction in even the shyest of women because, for me, that's what it takes to apprehend feminism into some section of your being.