Monday, January 2, 2017

Time to Say Goodbye

Right 2016 has gone, vanished, it's history - everyone can now come out of their various hiding holes and breathe again! It's time to make those resolutions that we never stick to, join that gym that we never go to and in my case get my UK driving license that I've never gotten round to getting (I know - bit behind). So it's finally 2017! I saw in the new year cramped on a tiny balcony in East London, attempting to huddle for warmth with my mates (if anyone has seen March of the Penguins - imagine that but with people), watching the sky explode with fireworks as everyone happily popped champagne and said goodbye to a horrible year.

Now I wouldn't say that 2016 has been the worst year in history (1916 or 1945 for example, or the year Kanye West became famous...), but let's be honest, it hasn't been great. Personally, I was left devastated by Brexit, appalled by the events in Syria, angry at Trump and I will never truly be able to get over the sudden passing of Alan Rickman (as I write this I can't help but murmur 'alllwaaaays' to myself in what I feel is a worthy imitation).

Global events aside, however, 2016 wasn't a bad year for me. Actually it was really great. I completely changed careers having quit my job a year before to go travelling, I explored four new countries, left behind a toxic relationship, started dating again, unlocked a couple more of my passions and quite frankly grew up. Most importantly, I stopped second guessing myself, stopped thinking that I'm not good enough for someone and stopped compromising parts of my life for someone else's happiness. At the beginning of 2016, I gave myself an order -  that I was going to be a bit more selfish and less of a people pleaser this year, and I followed through. It was great - I highly recommend it.

It wasn't all good though, the one thing that 2016 did teach me is that sometimes things have an expiry date and that nothing really lasts forever, however much you may want it to. Sometimes you have to walk away and not look back. And so it is with this blog. I've enjoyed writing and editing this blog for the past four years but looking back on all the things I've written about from Kenyan life to dating in London, I can say with confidence that I'm no longer the same person I was. I've outgrown this lovely little blog and in the spirit of the New Year I'm moving on and leaving it behind.

It's not all doom and gloom though, as I think I would go mad if I stopped writing. So I have started a new blog, one which is a better reflection of myself. My new blog, A Shade More Sensible, (please stop rolling your eyes and/or laughing) will be up and running soon, and if you wish to keep up with my ramblings you can visit it here: where I will happily be writing away with a laptop in one hand and a cappuccino in the other.

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Well Done Patriarchy - You've Had A Great Week!

So we all know about that overarching dementor-like thing that lurks over us women, pulling the chair out from under us whenever we feel like we are finally on top, smirking at us when we ask for a promotion or payrise and laughing at us when we "talk like men". Yep, I'm talking about patriarchy, who has had a fantastic week - so a round of applause for what good old patriarchy! *insert severely sarcastic tone when reading the previous sentence*

Reinforcing our lack of faith in our Criminal Justice System  

As most of you might realise, I am constantly glued to Twitter, whether it be to see what my favourite writers are getting up to, get some creative ideas or just to follow the news, I'm always tweeting away. So it was no surprise that I was online when the news of Ched Evans came up.

Initially, I was shocked, I fully believed that he was guilty, but I figured that there must have been overarching fail-proof evidence to allow for this verdict. So, you can imagine my disgust when I read that the crucial evidence against the girl had been given by two of her past sexual partners (neither of whom was present at the scene, might I add). In 2016, this should not be the way to trial a case, you should not base a rape verdict on whether or not someone enjoyed a certain type of sex in the past. That"evidence" doesn't mean she wasn't raped, the poor girl had a huge amount courage to make a claim against such a high profile player, she endured death threats and assault attempts when she spoke up. And to have her entire case dismissed based on her past sexual experiences? Well this, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason women who are abused don't speak up, why they remain silent and why the abuse continues. Whether you like it or not the CJS's response to victim's of sexual and physical assault directly correlates to the likelihood of people coming forward. Why would they? When they're so likely to be victim blamed and dismissed from the outset? There are countless examples of this, and just when you think things are moving forward something like this happens. Go figure.

Normalising Sexual Assault 

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but can someone please explain to me how we got to a point where we have a candidate running for The President of America who openly boasts about sexually assaulting women? Can we really go from Obama to Trump? Really? It seems unlikely, but then look at Farage and Boris, it could happen - it did happen.

I know there has been a lot of backlash over the Trump tapes, with several of the republican candidates pulling out of backing trump. Which on the one hand is good, but on the other hand, let's not forget that they are the same men who vote against abortion and equal pay. Trump has time and time again sexually objectified women, treated them as second-class citizens and even gone so far as to admit that he would sleep with his daughter. Yet still, the women who support Trump stand by him, and the men normalise, mitigate and brush his comments under the rug and good old patriarchy rules out again.

The one ray of light we got out of this was an exceptional and a heart breaking speech by Michelle Obama. In it she tries to reassure people that sexual assault isn't normal, it's not okay and it sends a terrifying message to children.

The Gender Pay Gap Continues 

And the cherry on top of the cake, and the one thing that really gets me is, of course, the gender pay gap. I call on the government to get every young girl in the same room and look at them in the eye and tell them: it doesn't matter how much you work, what grades you get or how you act - you will never earn the same as a man. Talk to them about how the plastic bag tax has raised billions for the economy but how they can't close the gap. Tell them they are worth less than those plastic bags. Because that is what it boils down to.

New research, shows that men earn up to £85,000 more than women by the time they reach their 50s. The study also shows that this starts as soon as women enter the workforce, thereby we are being screwed over at every opportunity. Just look at Asda, only now have the court ruled it applicable for the women to take the supermarket chain to the courts over unequal pay.

So there you have it, a smashing week for patriarchy. Less so for us women, but all we can do is let our anger fuel us, use it to fight against the normal and hopefully one day it will be the driving force behind us becoming equal to our male counterparts in every aspect of life.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Death Of The Dating App: Falling In Love Offline.

Coffee for one please :)

So, ladies and gentlemen, you will be pleased (or displeased, depending on which blogs of mine you liked reading) to know that the novelty of dating has completely and utterly worn off and my pompous posts about matches, bad dates, good dates and everything in between have come to an end (for now). "Why?" I hear you ask. To put it quite simply: I have fallen in love with someone. This person is someone who has been missing from my life, someone who completes me and someone who I have a ridiculous amount of respect for. This person is me.

Before you all start rolling your eyes and thinking oh no - she is becoming a self-help cult blogger, bear with me. This isn't a post in which I am going to tell you all to throw your phones into the Thames and take up meditation in Nepal. No - I am just going to ramble on a bit about how I fell out of love with online dating and through that figured out who I was (as much as one can in 6 months).

My online dating experience:

So to clarify, the fact that I am spending more time focusing on myself and less time engaging in mindless 'dating chat' with virtual strangers does not mean I have become a recluse in the dating world. Just that I am taking a very much needed step away from it (well, the online stuff anyway - if Scott Eastwood happened to walk past, stop and ask for my number... well that's a different story). The apps, which I once found so entertaining, now bore me and on them I am not the carefree, laid back person I know I am, instead, I am just another disposable face. Judged in a second by a stranger.

In the past six months of online dating, I have been on countless dates. I have met a vast arrange of people, been on second and seventh dates, created my own dating rules, gained a stalker, came across more self-entitled men than I care to admit, I have "ghosted*" people and been "ghosted" in return, I even used them to conduct a social experiment.

Sounds fun hey? I have had some great times and met some great people but unless you 'click' with someone, whatever that means, then the novelty wears off - there are literally only so many awkward pauses and " you don't want an alcoholic drink?" moments that I can take. Unfortunately, I'm not alone in feeling somewhat emotionally drained by this new way of dating. Almost everyone who I have talked to feels the same, and yes I know we are in a digital age and all that, but when did we all become so disposable? I felt like something needed to give, and plane tickets to Nepal were too expensive so phone in the Thames it was!! Jokes - I would never give my phone such an untimely death. Instead what went were the dating apps.

So this offline love you speak about...

To bring it back to the self-help cult aspect of the blog post - yep I am totally talking about the importance of self-love, which can really only be found offline. With the dating apps no longer a part of my life, so too left the pressure I felt when talking to guys. I tend to suffer from FOMO - there I admit it, I always felt as if I was missing out on something. I never said no. I didn't realise it until I deleted the apps, but turns out I had FOMO on them too - what if I was missing out on meeting a great guy because I wasn't constantly swiping?

Now, I couldn't care less. The one thing that dating takes away from you is the time that you have to truly be yourself - you don't have to make compromises or sacrifices, you don't have to do anything you aren't comfortable with and you can just have fun.

So my time got invested heavily in the things which actually mattered to me. I had a huge clear out of all my old clothes (five charity bags worth to tell the truth), I started going to the gym way more (at 5:30 in the morning - yep I'm that person now), freed my weekends up for time with friends and most importantly took time for myself. Whether that be in the form of a long bath, reading my book, an evening walk - or even writing this blog.

It's not been easy, I am, by nature a bit of a people pleaser. It's taken me a while to get back to where I was - when I was ok being by myself. As I write this post, I am currently sat outside a coffee shop, with a blanket draped over my shoulders, an over enthusiastic pigeon at my feet and a cappuccino in hand. I am quite literally the only person sitting alone. And for the first time in a long time, I am completely ok with that!

*ghosted is the term used when you have been talking to someone online for a substantial amount of time and then suddenly you never hear from them again - no explanation, they just disappear - like a ghost.
* *photo source from shutterstock.