Veering values = Breakup time

Almost 10 years later, it’s time for a break…

I believe our relationship began March 2006. I was slightly dubious at first but after a bit of prodding and convincing (it didn’t take much) I decided to give it a shot – Facebook. For the most part the pros have outweighed the cons but recent events have started to make me question how much value it brings to my life.

There’s no doubt that I’m enamoured with Facebook. If I have a spare moment it’s easy to open up the app and have a quick glance to see what my friends are up to. Well, not just my friends, even people I haven’t spoken to in the last 5 years. There’s really no need to keep have such a wide network of people but I keep them around because at one point they did bring some value into my life and those who know me can attest that it’s not easy for me to throw things away. I’m cursed with being a pack-rat, I keep unnecessary things around and I’m now realizing that doesn’t just refer to physical objects. I don’t even want to think about what percentage of my day is devoted to facing that familiar ‘f’ icon.

But it’s time to re-evaluate things. Facebook is a powerful being and people are very influenced by its presence. When the Paris terrorist attacks happened Friday November 13th, Facebook was quick to offer a French tricolour filter that people could put over their profile picture.

Where are the rest of my filter optionsWhere are the rest of my filter options?

A way to show solidarity and to show that we are one with Paris, we stand behind you. A nice sentiment indeed, but what about the Lebanese filter I would’ve liked to put on to show my sympathies towards the terrorist attack that occurred in Beirut just THE DAY BEFORE?? There is an obvious first world bias that Facebook has where France, it appears, is more deserving of an appeal than any other country where crimes against humanity are happening. I’m not saying the filter is completely irrelevant. There are people who have a personal relationship with the people/city/country but what I’m against is that no other options have been presented to society and I feel there’s a bit of mind manipulation going on that I don’t want to be a part of. The fact that Facebook is offering ONLY the French flag belittles the other travesties in the world. I don’t see any authentic altruism in offering a French filter flag, I see that they chose an event that the media really focused on and capitalized on what would be a popular trend of the day. I know Facebook is not the only one to blame here. I know that the media reports events, and outlets choose which are deemed to be higher priority. I do wish that there was more evenly distributed representation of news items because we as society are influenced by what is presented to us, so as media outlets that distribute information it’s YOUR responsibility to help us overcome ignorance and to gain wider awareness of what’s going on in the world.

So Facebook, for now I’m saying goodbye. Because right now every time I go on and see that specialized filter a spark of rage ignites within me and I don’t need that in my life right now. I’m sure I’ll be back…I can never stay away for long and I’m actually quite sure you’ll find a way to seduce me back into your clutches. I’m not off of social media completely. You can still find me on Twitter and Instagram but for now I just want to follow my selected newsfeeds that have yet to be manipulated.

I’m a humanist. All lives matter. I believe in action over prayer. #actionforpeace
Ciao, I’m out.

Worlds divided: How to stay friends with new moms

I just read an article, which I initially thought was oozing with sarcasm, only to get to the end and discover it was genuinely written!

The article: To My Friends Who Became Mothers Before Me

In brief, the author basically writes an apology letter about how she, a non-mother at the time, should have been more considerate towards her mom friends and apologizes for unloading her problems onto them.

“I’m sorry I ever uttered the words ‘I’m so tired’ in your presence; I had no idea what tired really means.”

“I’m sorry I called you crying about my single girl drama when you had babies and toddlers and husbands needing you 24/7. I know now that talking on the phone when you have small children is pure torture;  I don’t know how or why you made time to listen.”

“I’m sorry for not shutting up when you were sleep deprived. I didn’t know what it does to your attention span. I should have sat with you in silence and rubbed your feet.”

“Thank you for standing by me through my self-absorbed years while you wiped butts and scrubbed vomit and soothed screaming babies and forgot about yourself while I obsessed over totally meaningless things.”

This piece was written in complete earnest and based on the comments that followed (“Perfect. I wish I had done more for my mommy friends before I had my own.” “Hit a nerve! Thank you for articulating the feelings in my heart.” “I love it! More friends and family should read this.”) I think I’m in the minority among those who feel somewhat offended that those who aren’t mothers couldn’t possibly understand what real stress feels like or that the problems we face are petty in comparison to what mothers experience. This piece makes light of the problems of childless people, undermining whatever life events or issues that might be going on with someone that isn’t a mother, and puts mothering (I’d like to say parenthood in general, but this particular article definitely had a focus on mothers) on an undeserved pedestal.

Am I now to expect that my friendships with my mommy friends to be one-sided and that we should expect meaningful/meaningless dichotomy corresponding to mother/non-mother? That’s not what my friendships were like before and although I’m fully aware that the dynamics are different and priorities change I just don’t see how a friendship (or any kind of relationship, for that matter) could be healthily sustained if it’s just one-way.

This piece also hit a nerve with me because it’s like becoming a mother is the be-all and end-all of life. It worries me sometimes when a mother becomes so consumed with her child that her child/ren becomes her identity. When I talk to my friends, as much as I like hearing about the going-ons with their child, what I’d rather know and talk about is what’s going on with THEM, what’s going on in their head – is that too much to ask?

I was speaking to another childless friend about this issue and it seems I’m not alone in wondering how to go ahead with friendships with new moms. Said friend actually googled “How to be friends when your close friend is now a mother”, and laugh as you may, but this is a real problem and actual search results showed up! In case you’re wondering the articles pretty much said:

-Put your friendship on hold until the baby is older

-With kids, fake it til you make it –> Pick up, and play pretend with the kid even if you feel awkward. Investing in your friends’ kids is a way to show your support for their decisions and a way to remain close to them.

-Communicate –> If you feel like you’re losing your friend, tell her. (I can’t say I’m the best at communicating…In all honesty I’d probably go to tip #1 if I felt like I was losing a friend)

-Be willing to let go –> *tear*

With 85% of my close friends being new moms/pregnant I’m left to wonder what will happen to my friendships as my friends continue to bond over their similar lifestyles while I’m left behind in the pre-historic childless group.

I can’t say I’m generally a fan of things written by The Daily Mail but I enjoyed reading this (good for both parents and non-parents alike): Hello baby, goodbye friends: How having children tests friendships

Welcome – your thoughts

Anti-Valentine’s Day

I don’t think there’s any need to beat around the bush with today’s blog post. I absolutely CANNOT stand Valentine’s Day and every single year, I cringe as February 14th creeps closer and closer. I wish I could hibernate from mid-Jan to Feb 15th so I could avoid the vomit-inducing tradition that forces me to read bullshit marketing material like:

“Top 10 sexiest restaurants to take your loved one” –> 7 course meal for you lovebirds…at only £100 a head. Good deal.

“(Expensive) Gifts to show her you care” –> Because the more money you spend on me, the more it means you love me…right, bae? #nomoneynohoney

Gotta love this one…what’s better than diamonds? Diamond water, obviously.

Really? A whole new low...Really? A whole new low…

Even Sainsbury’s is sending me Valentine’s Day themed emails…hello, I don’t want to buy heart-shaped cookies and pink sparkling wine, OK!? #unsubscribe

I’d just like to add in here now that these are not words coming from a bitter and single spinster. These are words coming from a girl who appreciates thoughtfulness all year round and doesn’t want one particular day to be forced upon someone to prove their level of affection. The funny thing is, the day is SUPPOSED to represent romanticism when in actuality, it’s the complete antithesis of that. Valentine’s Day has now made it easy for people to turn their brain off when it comes to showing their S.O. that they ‘care’. Where’s the spontaneity and surprise element? Instead, a day of romance has been chosen, where gifts are readily available (oh, the power of suggestion) and thought is no longer required since advertisements and the masses have stated what’s appropriate to do and give. The world has essentially done everything possible to make romance as easy as possible, which really leaves me thinking that…#romanceisdead

This year, in particular, is filling me with #ValentinesDayRage. This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, which means I’m going to be subjected to the madness all day. If it fell on a weekday I could just go to work, go home, and avoid all the VDay shenanigans, but tomorrow as I walk out and about I’m going to see vendors fitting in their last attempts to sell their bouquets of red roses, helium heart balloons and jewellery stores staying open just a little while longer so people can pick up last-minute gifts. Ugh, it’s all so commercial.

But that’s not even the worst part of the weekend. Because get this, my most despised ‘holiday’ also coincides with the movie release of THE WORST BOOK EVER WRITTEN (you can read my sentiments on the book here).  50 Shades of Shit officially opens in theatres today so not only have I been forced to face the sickening lead-up to Valentine’s Day for the past three weeks, but now I’m predicting I’ll be forced to spend the next three weeks reading and hearing debates and reviews of this Oscar-worthy movie.  I should just ship off to the South Pole for the next month…I clearly shouldn’t be part of mainstream society at the moment, huh?


Valentine’s Day Protester

Edit: M asked me Friday night if I’d like to do anything tomorrow. I asked him why he was asking, to which he responded “For Valentine’s Day! Like a date!”. I don’t remember the last time he suggested a date night so all I can say is….Point. Totally. Proven.

A Change of Direction

I feel like I’ve taken many plunges in life but apparently I can’t get enough of them because I just took another one.

What did Hazel get up to today?

-Woke up

-Got ready for work

-Grabbed an almond tea

-Worked on a report (90 pages and counting)

-Had leftover pasta for lunch

-Did three gym classes (Body Combat, Fitness Yoga, and Body Pump…overkill, even for me, but I’m not here this weekend and wanted to fit in my gym sessions)

-Oh, and I handed in my resignation.

Yes, yes, another job bites the dust. My CV/resume is pretty colourful because I’ve had quite a few jobs in the last decade. The good thing about this is that I now have a wide range of experience in multiple sectors. Another good thing is that from each job I’ve gained a better perspective of what I want/don’t want out of a job. The bad thing is that it’s taken me a while to figure out what I really want to do as a profession and as a result, I haven’t been able to hone skills in a particular area, so rising up the ranks and getting a senior position won’t be happening for me anytime soon.

But I’m hoping all that will change! For the past year I’ve been toying around with the idea of taking an intensive computer programming course. I love the start-up/tech industry and know that’s the direction I want to head towards but I’m sad to report that my current skillset just won’t cut it. For what I’m looking for, I’ve basically got the technical skills that are equivalent to that of my grandmother (with dementia). Programming bootcamps are all the rage at the moment and I’m just itching to be a part of the cool kids again. Ok, I jest, but after months of research with a dash of soul-searching I decided that taking a fully immersive course in Web Design and User Experience would be a great way to combine my love for marketing along with technology.

Startup Institute

Enter…Startup Institute! As of yesterday at 4pm my placement in a 2-month immersive program Web Design course was confirmed. And the cherry on top…I’ve also been offered a 50% scholarship! And the cherry on top of the cherry…the course is in Berlin! Although the idea of moving away for the course was initially hard to digest the thought of it now has me pretty excited. Berlin’s a modern and vibrant city that’s a melting pot of cultures and fresh ideas. They have an ‘anything goes’ kind of attitude that seems to be attracting many technology companies to set up camp. I thrive off of other people’s energy and everyone I’ve interacted with at Startup Institute is so passionate about what they do and what the program has to offer that they’ve got me jumping off walls with excitement. That feeling of a weight being lifted off your chest because you feel inspired and you’re doing something good for yourself – it’s incredible. For awhile I felt like I was wallowing in complacency and that’s something I’ve always sworn to myself not to do. I knew I had to get out of that situation before my rut was too deep to dig myself out of.

I'm in!I’m in!

I have to keep on taking plunges in life. I love exploring new depths and seeing how far I can go. I’ve only got one life (none of this after-life business for me) and living one that’s etched with regret isn’t something I really fancy doing. So Berlin, heeeeeeerreee I coommmeeeeee!!!


The Re-identification Process

Over the past 5 years I’ve received more wedding invitations than I can remember. Yup, I’m at the stage in life where my Facebook feed has gone from pictures of wild weekend benders to photographs of people ‘naturally’ sitting on a sofa in a field of wild flowers (aka engagement photos) and white gowns. Actually, to be honest, I’m past that stage…that stopped 2 years ago. Now my Facebook feed is filled with baby photos and articles about daycares and anti-vaccination debates.

However, there have been a handful of people I know who didn’t take the wedding plunge, but instead went the opposite direction. The past year seems to have been a ‘make it or break it’ year among my unmarried friends and the majority of them in this situation broke it. I can understand it being a scary step when you feel like you’re going against the grain by not following the norms of tradition, so hats off to those who broke out of their comfort zone to venture back into the scary world of…singlehood.

But why do so many venture back into this world with such trepidation? And here’s one of my burning questions: Why does being in a relationship define someone SO much that not being in one any longer basically strips them of their identity to the point where they don’t know what to do with themself anymore?

I noticed that upon being newly single many seem to pursue interests that used to sit in the back of their minds. From my observations I’ve noticed that people pick up previous interests or take on new projects that they didn’t bother going ahead with during the relationship stage. Someone I know who recently broke up with his girlfriend of 9 years got together with friends just 3 days after the breakup to discuss starting up a hobby club that had been on his mind for quite a while. When I heard this I just thought “Why didn’t you pursue this earlier if it was something you were really interested in? Why did it take breaking up with your girlfriend to get involved in something?” And the thing is, he isn’t an anomaly. It’s common to hear people hitting up the gym again, getting back into an old sport or starting up a new interest after a breakup and I’m not sure why being single seems to be a requirement in pursuing any kind of personal interest.

What is it about being in a relationship that makes people not care about personal growth anymore? Are nurturing a relationship and nurturing self-enhancement mutually exclusive activities that can’t be done in conjunction with one another?

I hope I’m never in a situation where being on my own leaves me feeling empty and unsatisfied. I’d like to think that being in a relationship is complementary to your lifestyle, not something that defines you. I don’t believe in a ‘better half’ or a soulmate or that there’s someone out there who can ‘complete me’. I believe I’m whole on my own and that anyone (who deserves to be!) in a relationship with me is just an added enhancement.

I noticed I’ve asked a lot of questions in this post…if you’ve got answers, please feel free to answer!