Be Nice It's Tuesday


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Fate and Regrets

I’m not sure whether I believe in fate or destiny. Well I mean, I don’t. Not really. But some things do just seem meant to be.
I’ve heard about or experienced various examples of this, but I was particularly struck by a story my Nana told me last week. When my Aunt was in her teens, one of her brother’s friends quite liked her. But he was quite a bit older than her, and nothing happened. Years later he was married with a son, she had a partner with whom she later had a daughter, but my Nana and Aunt passed him one day and my Aunt said to my Nana ‘That’s the man I should have married’. Well, long story short, his marriage failed, she left her partner, the two of them have now been together for, ooh, I don’t know, probably around ten years.
So maybe there are some things that will just work out, because how could they not? And you don’t regret the things that got in the way of it happening sooner, because they’re not necessarily bad things, and sometimes they’re needed. I’m sure my Aunt wouldn’t say she’d rather have been with this man from the start, because then she wouldn’t have my cousin. So yes, I do think there are some times when you just have to trust that if it is meant to happen, it will happen.

But there’s only so much that you can leave to fate. At some point you have to take charge, say this is what I want, and just go for it.
Of all the Birthday wishes I’ve ever made I’ve only had one come true. And that’s because it wasn’t so much a wish as a decision. I was about to blow out my fifteen candles, when I looked across to one of the party guests, one of my friends, and thought, I wish he’d just ask me out. Three days later he did. But that’s because making that wish gave me the resolve to just tell him (in a roundabout way via text messages) how I felt.

At the beginning of this summer I broke up with my (more recent) boyfriend. I had all sorts of guilty feelings about it, and wondering whether I was doing the right thing, whether I’d regret it, but also at the same time thinking maybe I shouldn’t have got into a relationship with him in the first place, and just generally feeling like I’d messed everything up.
On one of my holidays this summer I met a man (it seems strange saying that, I’m at the age where neither man/woman nor boy/girl sound quite right in describing people roughly my own age) in a pub one evening, and he seemed very nice, but I completely messed up conversation (full story here). I was kicking myself afterwards, and kept hoping I’d happen to run into him again so I could get it right. But fate did not put him back in my path.
Later I met someone else who was clearly interested in me. By this point I was feeling quite lonely and desperate, so decided I would find an opportunity to get him alone and kiss him. But fate, or bad luck, or whatever intervened late in the evening, and so the opportunity was taken away. And maybe this was a good thing in the long run; I may have regretted kissing someone I didn’t really know or even like that much, but I was still annoyed that it hadn’t worked out as simply as it had seemed it would.
In between all of this I was at home, becoming increasingly aware of returning feelings for my first boyfriend, thinking vaguely that if the perfect scenario arose it would be easy to tell him, but if not then it just wasn’t meant to be.
And so we get to last week; my cruise holiday. Most of the people on the cruise were quite elderly, but there were a few other young people, one of whom caught my eye straight away. I kept seeing him around, and each time I did we made proper eye contact and smiled for a few moments. This wasn’t the kind of smile you give any random stranger you pass by. This was the kind of smile that made me unable to stop smiling for half and hour afterwards just from the memory of it, that made me feel all warm inside, that felt like a real connection between us. However it was a big boat, and every time I saw him he was with his family, or I was with my nana, or we were busy with places we needed to go. I kept trying to find the perfect moment when we were on our own and I could talk to him, I was forever walking around the ship keeping an eye out for him, but, of course, the moment didn’t happen. We were on this ship together for a whole week, and in that time we only spoke three words to each other (when going through a door, he said ‘after you’ and I said ‘thanks’).

On the last night I was standing on deck, lamenting the lack of opportunity to get to know this boy, when I had a realisation.
It felt like I’d spent the whole summer regretting things that hadn’t happened, or that I hadn’t said, and I kept putting it down just to lack of opportunity, but I hadn’t really always done everything. I could have gone straight back to the cellist and asked his name. I could have suggested a walk down to the beach with the other guy earlier in the evening, before everything went wrong. And there were a few times on the cruise when I could have just said hi to that boy, and not cared who else was around, or if I’d turned round a few seconds earlier or later a couple of times, things could have been different.
But I didn’t do any of those things. I could put it down to just not being a very confident person, which I’m not, but that’s not all there is to it. I keep waiting for destiny to present me with these perfect moments, easy opportunities, and so I miss the vague chances which I do have. They’re gone, however much I replay them in my head with me acting differently or something different happening, I can’t change it now, and I’ll never know what could have happened.
So there, looking out over the sea, I realised that there are some times when you need to just go for it, and I decided that I was going to get to the end of the summer and be able to look back and feel I’d got at least one thing right. And I knew what I had to do.

A couple of nights ago I was out with some friends. This time I didn’t wait until my ex and I just so happened to be alone together and having a deep conversation, I just got myself next to him as we were all walking to someone’s house, and said ‘can I talk to you for a minute?’ We loitered until everyone had gone past, then I awkwardly forced myself to tell him that I like him again. I knew he probably wouldn’t feel the same. And it’s not as though I actually want anything; there were problems in our relationship before anyway, we’re about to start different unis, and I really don’t think I should be in any relationship until I could sort out this mess of emotions I have at the moment and stop feeling so strongly about these ransom people I’ve met, and just have my life slightly more under control. So considering all this, I was surprised at quite how upset I was by him kindly apologising that he knew how I felt (I dread to think how many of my other friends have picked up on it), but there was nothing he could do about it. I said it was fine, I didn’t want anything, it’s what I expected, and anyway I deserve it after how I treated him. Then I walked home, crying most the way.

But you know what? I already feel better about it. Hopefully now the next time I see him I won’t have these hidden things weighing down on my. And I can stop wondering about all the ‘what ifs’ (except, of course, ‘what if I never broke up with him in the first place?’ and just enjoy the last two weeks with my friends.
I still think the same about this ex as I did when we first broke up; maybe one day we’ll get back together, but that will happen if and when the time is right. But now I also know that I’ve got to at least give fate the chance to make things happen. I’ve got to make and take opportunities, not wait for them to happen to me. And above all, if I’m ever going to be with him – or anyone else – again, I have to start by being honest about my feelings.
But I’ll let you know how awkward it is next time I see him.

Wow, that was a long one, thank you if you read it all. Here are some songs which I think link to how I’ve been feeling about all of this:
Guess We’ll Never Know by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Life’s Too Short by Scouting For Girls
Get It Right from Glee

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A Family of Three

Almost twenty-two years ago, my mum gave birth to twin girls. I know little about the following three and a half years, since I didn’t exist at the time, but then I was born, and we became a happy family of five.
I’m not going to say that I’ve never fallen out or been annoyed with my sisters or parents; there have been some problems over the years. And when I was young I trusted my big sisters completely, which I probably shouldn’t have done, since it led to things such as me spending most my life in the smallest bedroom, getting in trouble for opening a Christmas present which my sister handed on Christmas Eve, telling me it was Christmas Day, and having to watch their choice of films because I believed that the actors played the whole film out every time you watched a video, and that they were too tired or busy to do my choice.
And of course it wasn’t easy a) being the youngest – my bedroom adjoins the TV room so I would be able to hear them all enjoying the film I wasn’t allowed to watch, and my achievements are often overlooked because my sisters have already done that, and b) having twins as sisters; they were always very close and I often felt like the fifth wheel in our family.
Nevertheless, I generally got on well with my sisters, and I think the older we got the more they became my friends. I  will always be grateful to them for the way they let me hang around with them sometimes when they were with their friends, at an age where I was still probably annoying and too young to really join in the conversation, but I always say to friends who are annoyed with younger siblings, if you’re nice to the, they will grow up and stop annoying you. My sisters are also very generous in buying me presents, we all share clothes and shoes, we tell each other a lot.
When I was 15 I started year 11 at school, and my sisters were starting university. They both chose different Scottish unis, so are quite close to one another, but far away from home. I was devastated about them leaving, and the fact that both went at once meant it had a huge impact.The timing of them leaving was also bad, as it was only a few weeks before my best friend was taken into Hospital and I didn’t see her for months, so all of a sudden I’d lost three incredibly important people who, before then, had just been there for my whole life. It was a very lonely time for me. I still miss them a lot when they’re away, and the longer they’ve been at uni for, the less often they come home. This summer we’ve had just two nights of all five of us together, and that is not enough in my opinion.
However, it hasn’t all been as bad as I imagined. If anything I’ve got with them even better since they left; I’ve had some really fun trips up to Scotland to see them; it makes it all the more exciting when we do see each other; and actually I have enjoyed experiencing life as an only child in our family of three. I stayed in my tiny bedroom because I’d just got it how I wanted it when they left, and I couldn’t really face all the hassle of changing bedrooms. But I have had a bit more space to work, I get in the bathroom when I want to, it’s easier to use the kitchen. And although sometimes my parents drive me round the bend, I feel like I know them a lot better having lived just the three of us. I also occasionally get random presents, which is easier for them to do for one person than three, or I get a say in food shopping or house decorating and other decisions. And I have to say I do quite like it when my sisters come home and I know where things are in the house, what’s been going on in the village, I have in jokes with our parents, which my sisters don’t get. All in all, it’s been a good three years.
But now it’s my turn to leave. And things are going to be different again. I think it must be strange for my parents, after twenty-two years to go back to it just being the two of them. But as before, I’m sure there will be things about it they enjoy and things they miss. My sisters are both planning visits to me during my first term of uni, and I know we will always see each other as much as is possible, but I also know that’s likely to keep getting less and less. But we’ll come to that when we come to that. For now, I wish my sisters were home right now which they were supposed to be, but I’m just glad I have had such a wonderful family in which to grow up.


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I Love My Friends

At a party I had a few nights ago, I found myself in the garden having a very deep conversation with one of my friends when he confessed to me that he doesn’t know what love is. I said that no one does really, but he told me that he doesn’t think he loves his sister, and how he doesn’t understand it when people talk about loving their friends. He asked if he was just cold and heartless.
I gave it a moments thought; I’ve never considered whether I love my family and friends, it’s just the obvious thing. My sisters and I have only fairly recently started ending phone conversations with ‘love you’, but it’s not as though it’s something unusual, and I’ve always said it to my friends a lot. As a Christian I would say I love everyone, that’s kind of the point, but there are different kinds of love – we didn’t even touch on romantic stuff, but I hope that this friend still feels he was in love with me when we were together – and surely what I feel for my friends is in some way different to other people?
As I was thinking this I heard laughter and talking coming from the kitchen where some of our other friends were. Just hearing that sound of them enjoying themselves filled me with a warm, happy glow which banished any doubt that I love them. Certain of my friends are the most important people in my life, but all of them are pretty high up there. We’ve been through a lot together, I couldn’t cope without them and I always want them to be happy, even when they hurt me, and even when them being happy means them not spending much time with me any more. I have been in love (romantically) twice in my life, but both times I would have (and to some extent did) chosen my friends above my boyfriend in a flash. I intend to get married so hopefully one day this will change, but for now I am just happy to say that I love my friends and would do anything for them.
Our conversation about this was cut short when someone else came outside and interrupted us, but he said he’d like to continue it sometime. But I don’t really know what to say to him. Do we just have different ideas of what classes as love? Is there actually something wrong with him? Am I just overly sensitive and emotional? I’d be interested to know what you all think, so please leave me a comment. Would you tell your friends you love them? Or are they just people you hang out with and nothing more?


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First Impressions

A lot of emphasis is often placed on first impressions. I remember going into a Tech lesson on my first day of High School and, after yelling at someone for saying one word to the person next to him, the teacher explained to the rows of terrified 11-year-olds that it takes only 11 seconds (I’m fairly sure that’s the number she said) to form an impression of someone and it’s very hard to change that opinion once it’s been made. Basically she was saying that her marking for the next year would be biased based on how tightly our ties were tied as we walked in.
It is true though that people tend to make very quick judgments of others, from job interviews to making friends to deciding which way to swipe on Tinder (I’ve never used it so not sure which way is which). And i’s understandable, we’re busy people, and there are only so many people you can actually spend time getting to know, so you need some sort of filter. But it is dangerous to get too stuck in opinions, so much so that you won’t consider any other possibility.
When I was 8 or 9 a new boy joined the ‘cello section of the Junior Strings group my best friend and I were in. He seemed alright at first, we didn’t have much to do with him but we chatted occasionally. But then he started to get annoying. Like really annoyingWe started the same High School and he just annoyed me more and more every time I saw him. On one memorable occasion I went home from a Music School Ceilidh and wrote in my diary that he had ruined it by being so annoying, and he was my ‘worst enemy’. Come year 9, the High School music department were running a trip to Salzburg, and of course the ‘cello section was me, my best friend, and this boy. And on this trip we bonded. We had ‘cello section photos, he kept bringing his iPod over to play us music, I found myself spending more time with him that some of my other friends and, even more surprisingly, I was enjoying his company! He was quite popular, in our music nerd group obviously, but even in the wider year group, and for the first time I suddenly began to see why. And then, a year and a half later came what is one of the proudest moments of my life. I was with a few friends, he’d just had to leave early, then I got a text from his saying ‘will you be my best friend?’ I explained that I already had two joint best friends, so we settled on bezzie mates, and we have stayed that way ever since.
In year 8 there was a boy in my maths class who was a total creep. Him and his friend terrorised me and my best friend and there were multiple occasions when I said things specifically about how I, or anyone else for that matter, would never go out with him. Well, the full causes and transformation are too complicated to explain, but two years later he became my first boyfriend. We were together for two years and he is still a good friend whom I trust completely.
I’m not saying initial impressions are always wrong. In my first Psychology lesson at college a girl came in and I thought, she’s someone I would be friends with. Later in the year we were moved to sit next to each other, and I got on really well with her. Unfortunately though we never progressed to spending time together outside Psychology so I haven’t seen her much since I dropped it.
But I think the important thing to learn is that first impressions are often incorrect. People change, they may change, you may, or maybe you just need to get to know them properly in the first place. You don’t often get a second chance at forming opinions, people come and go in your life so quickly. But if you get the chance then take it. Admit it to yourself if that creepy guy hasn’t actually been that creepy lately. If you can’t even remember why you think that girl from work is a bitch, then forget you ever thought that and try having a conversation with her. You never know who might actually become a really important person in your life. And if that person you thought you were going to be best friends with actually doesn’t have much in common with you, that’s fine too, because there are still plenty of other people out there. At least you tried.


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Some thoughts on Feminism, Sexism and Rape/Assault (non graphic)

*Disclaimer* ~ These are some really big issues, so before I start I want to make it clear that I’m not pretending to know everything or have all the answers, I have not researched what I’m about to write, nor is it supposed to be representative of all people, or even a majority. These are just some thoughts I’ve had, based entirely on my own personal experiences.

Last October I was in Berlin. There was a group of three boys with whom I spent a lot of time; the one who is now my boyfriend, and two whom I shall call the polite one and the one who likes guns. My boyfriend doesn’t drink alcohol, but the rest of us were making the most of the lower drinking age in Germany by having a glass or two of beer or wine.On the first night, the friend who likes guns offered to buy the round of drinks, so the next night to polite friend paid for us. The one who likes guns suggested that my boyfriend could buy a round the following night, then on the last night we paid for ourselves. When I asked when it was my turn to pay, especially since my boyfriend was always getting the cheapest drinks, the two who are not my boyfriend were almost horrified by the suggestion and assured me that I did not need to pay, they were doing it. I’m fairly sure chivalry was mentioned in there somewhere. I was torn about this. Sure, it was very nice to go out for a meal, have a glass of wine, and only pay for the food, nice to be looked after and spoiled a bit. But I am a feminist, and I thought, well why should they be forced to pay just because they’re men? Are they saying that women are superior so should have things bought for them? Or is it that a girl couldn’t possibly be able to take care of herself, she has to rely on men for everything? Either one of those would be wrong. I did end up buying drinks for them on the last night, but I didn’t bother trying to explain to them that they’re not obliged to buy things for women.

Last Thursday was my friend’s 18th Birthday, and the last day of term, so a fairly large group of us went out for a meal then to a pub to celebrate. I knew that I’d be going home late, and didn’t want to pay for a taxi, so I had considered asking if anyone would walk home with me then stay at mine because where I live is quite out of the way, but in the end I just decided to walk with a friend who lives on my way home then do the last bit alone. My sisters always say they weren’t allowed to walk home on their own at night, which is probably mainly because they generally went out together, but I think it does worry my parents a bit. I don’t mind walking around at night, but if I’m on my own I stick to bigger roads when possible, try to remember to take something reflective, don’t listen to music so I can hear what’s around me, keep my phone out so if I have to go past anyone who worries me I can pretend to be talking to someone. And I’m quite confident (some would say stupid) with it; I know girls my age who would never walk home on their own after dark. At the meal on Thursday I was talking to a friend with whom I’ve often had problems in the past, he can be quite…insensitive. Or to put it bluntly, very offensive. But he’s been alright lately, so I was talking to him about how I was getting home, and he was shocked by how much I’d had to think it all through – whereas he just wouldn’t think twice about going home alone – and the fact that I think when I move to a city I won’t go out on my own at night. He’s been known to be quite sexist and inconsiderate, but he actually said to me Is that what it’s like being a girl, you don’t feel safe even round here, you have to think about all of that? 

I think though, although it’s generally viewed as being a problem for girls, I don’t worry about being attacked or whatever because I’m a girl. For me, I think the risk comes with the fact that I am very small and therefore quite weak (which I suppose, on average more girls are than boys). I am often acutely aware that if anyone wanted to do something to me, most of them could do so easily and there would be absolutely nothing I could do about it. It would be interesting to see generally how much size/strength of males and females has and effect on perceived safety.

When I was at that party on Thursday, I was wearing a lacy top, a black skirt which I will admit was rather short and tight, and some tights with a pattern of hearts up the back. Two of my friends called me a prostitute, and one of those (and another one) also said I looked like a slut. This didn’t bother me too much; they’re my friends, I know and they know that I am not a slut or a prostitute, and to be honest, I was happy with how I looked so I didn’t really care what they thought. It does always irritate me a bit though when people think it’s OK to pass comments on people like that. And then I was struck by the fact that, when I was walking home and passed the one other person I saw on the walk, as I approached I automatically pulled my skirt down to make it longer. Why should I have to feel like I need to cover up a prescribed amount of my body to protect myself? It goes back to everything about people thinking the best rape prevention is to teach girls not to get attacked, or that if you’re dressed provocatively then you’re asking for it anyway. And yet that was so deeply ingrained in me that I didn’t think twice, there’s a man there, I need to make sure I don’t look tempting or whatever. (It should be noted that this man and his small dog in no way posed a threat. As I walked past, the dog came to have a sniff, at that point the man noticed and did the general nod/murmered greeting that us Yorkshire folk do upon seeing a stranger, as though nothing was more normal that taking your dog for a stroll through the village at 1 in the morning.)

Finally, there’s a lot on the internet at the moment about protecting people (not just women) from rape and sexual assault, and this is a good thing. There are many different parts to this, so there’s no way of generalising or finding any one answer. One big problem isn’t people getting attacked by strangers (as they’re walking home alone in the middle of the night obviously), but people who are in relationships where one of them pushes too far, or they do something then one changes their mind and gets angry. So I guess I wanted to finish by talking about my current relationship, to show that not every relationship goes wrong, there are good people out there. I’m not going to go into details, but I think many people would think me strange for how little I’ve done in that department as a 17 year old who’s had two long term boyfriends. I don’t really see anything wrong with people who have done more, I’ve just never wanted to. A lot of that stuff just scares me really. So I’ve told my boyfriend that. Any times we’re together we constantly ask each other if we’re OK. One time something happened which I was fine with at the time but did change my mind, I told him, he felt the same, everything was fine. Later this week he’s invited me round, he told me his mum will be out, but we had a discussion, we set down ground rules of anything we don’t want to happen, so now I can look forward to spending a nice day with him without any pressures or expectations on either of us. So my advice to anyone would be, whatever you want from a relationship, find someone who thinks the same, and communicate, listen, and respect each other. If only it were always that simple.


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Exs aren’t bad guys

One thing that can be difficult when you’re in a relationship is if, for whatever reason, you have to face your partner’s ex. Or, for that matter, your ex’s new partner.
I am quite good friends with my ex-boyfriend, we still have some of the same friends and I see him most days at college, but i know my new boyfriend finds it quite awkward to be around him, and my ex and I have never directly acknowledged to each other that either of us are seeing someone new. I do know, however, that he’s on the verge of getting together with someone. This felt a bit weird at first, although I am over him I guess it’s inevitable that you’re not exactly going to enjoy seeing someone you used to be with with someone else. But actually one of my biggest worries is that his new girlfriend (if he ever actually asks her to be that) will find it awkward to be near me. I barely know her, but what I do know I like, and I wouldn’t want her to feel she couldn’t become better friends with me just because she’s with my ex-boyfriend.
However, something happened today which got me feeling a lot more optimistic about the whole awkward-relationship-permutations problem. I was walking down the road near my college, and I saw two of my friends with a girl whose boyfriend I stole. Ok, it’s not actually as bad as it sounds, she’d sort of stolen him off me first, and none of us ever did anything wrong, but it would be fair enough for the two of us to hate each other. I don’t actually know her, but I knew who she was and I’m pretty sure she knows who I am. As I went past them I smiled at my friends, aiming it at her too, and got a very warm smile back from her. It’s a little thing, but it really made me happy.
So yeah, I guess I’m just saying…don’t judge people on past relationships etc….? I don’t really know what my point is, but hope you enjoyed the ramblings nonetheless.


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Parents

My parents often annoy me. My Dad and I often seem to end up arguing when we’re both saying the same thing – we disagree about the fact that we’re agreeing! And I just get irritated with my Mum a lot of the time. I have often thought about their flaws as parents, and told my best friend how jealous I am of her mum whom I have known all my life and is lovely.

Having said that though, we never really have huge arguments. We get on well enough, do stuff together, we’re always polite to each other at the very least. In my memory my parents have never really argued with each other, they’ve never had particularly strict rules, and neither my sisters nor I have ever rebelled or disobeyed them in a significant way. Whether their treatment of us has led to us being well behaved, or they’ve been able to be liberal with us because we just are sensible, well that’s probably bordering on a huge psychological debate, so I’ll just stick with saying that in general, they’re pretty good parents.

I’ve always thought this, to varying degrees about each of them at different times, but I’ve heard a couple of things recently which have made me really appreciate everything they’ve done.

Firstly I was talking to one of my friends about his family. He lives with his mum and hasn’t seen his dad for a long time. He knows he has a younger half sister but doesn’t see her, and he’s had at least one step-mum, but he thinks he may now have other siblings by another wife of his dad’s. When talking to him about this I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him, and being grateful that my family are still together. Families break up for all sorts of reasons, so I would never judge anyone for it, but after this I had to just thank my parents for staying together, and I hope for the sake of my kids that when I get married it is for life.

But something else happened this morning. When I got to college I joined a small group of my friends, one of whom was quite upset at something which had happened with her mum. Another friend was telling a story about when she was in primary school and hadn’t done as well in something as her mother wanted, and her mother then told her that she would always love her because she had to, but that didn’t mean she liked who she was. The first friend then told me what her mum had said, which was about equally mean. By the end of this is was in tears; all I could do was give them both a hug. I’ve known for a while that these two women could be…difficult at times. But the girls, my friends, are well behaved, kind, amazing people, and I don’t see how anyone could be so horrible to their own child.

So, although I probably won’t ever say this to my parents, I am so glad that they’ve always been kind and supportive. My Dad an amazing man who I’m pretty sure can do anything, and I’m always proud of the ways in which i am similar to him (well, maybe not the terrible puns), and my Mum has always been there to take me on nice trips and sort out my life when everything seems to be going wrong. And I am constantly glad about how close I am to my sisters. So if any of them ever read this, thank you. And I hope that anyone else who reads this has a family as great as mine.

Edit: I wrote this the other day just straight off the top of my head; I wrote what I was thinking without really thinking it through, and I’m worried I might have given the wrong impression. I wasn’t saying that a traditional nuclear family is the only way to raise kids, or that that friend of mine, or anyone else living with divorced or single parents is having a terrible time because of it. I like living with both my parents together because our family works well and I wouldn’t want to lose touch with either of my parents, and I merely used that example to show when I realised how grateful I am for my parents 🙂