M-m-m-my Corona

There are days that I awake feeling as though things make sense now in a way that they’ve never before. The slow pace, the perspective, and the sifting out of useless junk that quarantine has allowed are gifts to behold.

Other days I writhe with anxiety and a sadness that isn’t FOMO, because nothing fun is going on. I guess it’s a kind of grief, if I have to put a word to it. Though in reality, it isn’t grief. I don’t actually know that there is a perfect word for it. It’s an uncomfortable purgatory of sorts, whilst we decide as a collective which path we’ll take next.

We’ve found ourselves at a crossroads: a necessary shaking of the snowglobe and opportunity for a rethink from the very obvious string of poor choices we have made. The power-hungry corporations and corrupt governments that have decimated the planet and widened the poverty gap. The brainwashing and beliefs that the individual has no power. Or worse, that every person placed on the pedestal at the front of the nation is credible. Worthy. They stand therefore they must have been touched by God. Only, that couldn’t be further from the truth. No man is without his flaws. No one exempt from poor decisions that must be admitted and corrected with humility and grace.

It’s not about perfection, for none of us embody such an elusive trait. Rather, it’s about trial and error, hard work, a dose of lightheartedness and above all else: thinking with the collective in mind. Not just your family. Not even your country. Not even all the other Homo sapiens on the planet. But the complex, interwoven, delicate architecture that dictates how many years we’ve got left on Earth before it’s declared a dead zone. After all, as the saying goes: we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

I’m realising the importance of playtime with friends. Of dancefloors packed with conscious, considerate humans. Of people-watching from my favourite cafe. Of xeno: those fleeting exchanges between strangers that are random, but powerful and alleviate any feelings of loneliness.

I’m thinking more each day of the allure of being at least somewhat self-sufficient. Whether that’s how I procure my energy or how I get delicious, nutritious food onto my table.

I’m becoming more aware of the humanistic need for physical touch, communication through body language and facial expression and the ways we bond through shared sound, scent and taste.

I’m reminded that the sense of community is always there. Sometimes it gets smothered underneath tales of darkness, fed to us in one very specific narrative that thrives off of fear and hopelessness amongst the masses. But most people – like, almost all of the people on this planet – are wonderful and want exactly the same things as each other: to survive and thrive.

We’re all on different journeys as we continue to quarantine so that we can protect our loved ones and society at large. And amongst even my most level-headed peers there are moments of uncertainty, fear and doubt about what looms over yonder on a horizon that fluctuates between blindingly bright and stygian as the night.

Know that the oscillations are normal; you’re an anomaly if you have been without a dull, dark day throughout all of this. But you can hold space for a future that’s better and I encourage you to spend at least a small portion of your time envisioning this.

What do you want to see for yourself and others? What kind of beautiful, brighter things that seem unimaginable in this current paradigm? National healthcare in America? No child going hungry? The use of psychadelics for healing, without stigma? A reverse on climate change and ocean acidifcation? The preservation of wildlife and collapsed fish stocks? No taboo for discussing mental health? Think big and embellish these ideals with as many details as you can. You have nothing to lose in doing so; only an abundance to gain.

I can’t tell you what tomorrow will look like, let alone next week. But I can tell you what I want to see for us all and I’m cementing it down in my mind’s eye. I hope you are too.

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

Zero Waste & Veganism No Longer Cut The Mustard In This Climate Crisis

So much changed in my life in 2019. It was a big year for me and I’m still very much processing it all as I ride the wave into this new decade that promises to be many things, including bizarre and chaotic from what I’ve seen at first glance. The themes that resonate above all else are vulnerability and communication. I’ll elaborate on those in a little bit.

I moved to Arizona a few months ago for an entirely new chapter in my life. I’ll be here a while; I’m in Grad School now. It’s hard. My brain is constantly being pushed to its limit. Plus, I’m in America; the land of “more is more”, “guns = life” and, supposedly, “each man for himself”.

I went through a pretty arduous but liberating process ridding my life of almost all of my possessions before I left Bristol last summer. Only the essentials made the cut and so I’ve been starting life, effectively, from scratch. And do you know what? It has been bloody marvelous.

One of the things that I’ve been struck by is the sheer kindness of total strangers since I’ve moved here. To help me get around, find my way when I’m lost, give me things “to get you started”, invite me to social gatherings, introduce me to people, buy me dinner, ask me about myself and be genuinely interested…the list goes on.

Perhaps it’s because I’m in my spiritual homeland and, if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that when we’re where we’re meant to be, magical stuff happens. Or, perhaps it’s because America has this sense of community and “love thy neighbour” that’s infectious and undercuts the bullshit capitalist/corporate nonsense thrust upon its people by the powers that be. Either way, people have become my priority.

I still call myself an environmentalist; arguably more so now than ever before, actually. And it has always been that way. Ever since I was a kid organising litter-picking groups and volunteering outdoors, I’ve made life choices to study, document and communicate environmental destruction, highlighting the need for greater awareness about a myriad conundrums. I’ve tried to have the lowest impact without infringing on my own happiness or mental health. I can hand-on-heart say that I’ve always try to do what’s right.

Only, I don’t exist in a vacuum.

Over the past few years, I’ve lived a very privileged life. I’ve had a decent job, lived in a great city, had a healthy body and no dependents etc. I’ve spent my days indulging in a trendy and pretentious, “I’m vegan, no thank you, no straw, please” bubble of pretending that that is enough. That eating exclusively vegan is somehow God-like, or lugging my “zero waste essentials” kit everywhere with me is elevating me to Sainthood.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with taking tofu over pork in your ramen or getting a pumpkin spice latte in your own to-go cup, but when these choices come at the cost of isolation and disconnection from others, I’m not so sure I still agree with them. Nor do I agree with blindly accepting anything (no matter how vegan/zero waste-ish) without considering the supply chain. There are huge issues with a lot of soy and bamboo coffee cups – remember that!

Since I’ve lived here, for the sake of maintaining my sanity and not having a total breakdown, I’ve had to adopt a go-with-the-flow mentality. Moving abroad, processing the change in culture, having to make a whole bunch of new friends, learning my way around a new place, navigating a change in career (and not being funny, but, like, a really fucking challenging one at that), it would have just been too much for me to keep the reins really tight on myself and refuse to consume any plastic or animal products, as I was trying my best to do for a while in Bristol.

I’ve attended seminars with free pizza and I’ve eaten it. I’ve been recommended the “best burritos in town” (cheese mandatory) and I’ve devoured them, often whilst sat contentedly staring at a cactus for 20 minutes or more. I’ve purchased nachos in a styrofoam container. I regularly buy groceries packaged in plastic. I’ve eaten fish and enjoyed every bite. There are a bunch of things. But, do you know what? I’ve never been happier in my entire life.

To clarify: I don’t think that you need to eat animal products or consume single-use plastic to be happy; you can do without either when you’re in the groove. Rather, it’s the barriers I’ve done my best to dissolve, allowing for fruitful, meaningful connections with others that has really given me the good feels throughout this settling-in process.

See, we’re all the same. We all want what we think is best for ourselves and our loved ones, based on the ways that we have been raised and the experiences we’ve encountered. Sometimes kindness to the environment factors into that. Sometimes it doesn’t, unfortunately. One thing I have learned is that amazing things happen when people feel a part of something greater than themselves. That old sense of community I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that. We see it most profoundly in times of crisis which – although tragic – warms my heart. Just take a look at Australia right now.

We live in a time where the societal constructs favour isolation and loneliness. Depressing as that is to consider, lengthy work weeks and life within a cell phone do not equal the magic formula for love and connection. Neither does an economy built on the absolute requirement for its participants to perpetuate the high turnover of cheaply made, disposable items once coveted, rapidly diminished to garbage.

It’s not enough that we try to do our bit in isolation. It’s easy to be able to go to the grocery store, fill the cart with plant-based foods, pack the stuff in reusable totes and be done with it. We desperately need more than that, though. We need to work towards healthier communities where no person is left behind. We must listen better, prioritise healthy minds and spirits, fight constantly for equality amongst all peoples and most importantly find common ground where it appears – on the surface – as though there is none.

A few weeks ago, I saw a group of people picketing for veganism on a street corner outside a major grocery store. While I considered myself vegan for a long time and think it’s great to forgo animal products in the name of a healthier planet, this tactic as a means of converting the masses simply doesn’t work. In the same way that it’s ineffective to ram your religion down another’s throat and expect a positive response, so too is trying to shame others into eating what you eat. Your intentions might be pure and the message important for the collective wellbeing, but if you don’t convey it in a way that’s digestible, it’ll stay solely in your sphere.

I have a friend that works for a company that specialises in helping organisations in disagreement over environmental issues find common ground and rationally work towards solutions that everyone can agree upon. They consider the concerns of all parties involved with equal respect. This is how we need to approach all of our issues when it comes to the best path forward through our current climate crisis. We all think we know best; that our facts are the right ones to be taken as gospel. Scientific evidence must be brought to the table, though, and used at the basis of any decision-making. That’s where we’re tremendously lacking and it’s a total embarassment considering the mind-blowing bounty of resources available that all point at a different way of doing things despite leaders creating policies based on opinions.

Find. Common. Ground. Do what these leaders aren’t doing, because you’re smarter. Share your struggles, embrace the hardships and know that it’s OK to lean on others for support. Be open to having your opinions swayed. Be receptive to learning new things. Be comfortable challenging the very foundations upon which your beliefs have been built.

In one of my cell biology classes this past semester, we delved into the mechanics of actin and myosin filaments in helping cells do stuff like contract and move things around. The take-home message was that cells must be dynamic in order to be healthy. Nerdy as it sounds, I very much take this as a metaphor for life. Nothing is static. What can you think of that does well when it stagnates? Nothing. No, we like fresh and flowing and I encourage you to approach your thoughts and beliefs with the same logic. Be open to moving with the times; the survival of this planet depends on it.

Overtourism, Underappreciation: How Do We Tackle Our Travel Crisis?

There’s a very particular type of learning that comes through travel; in particular venturing to a faraway place where the culture and language are entirely different to your own. I like the way that it puts you in your place a bit: shows you how much you really don’t know about the world. It also challenges you on the most basic levels of communication and navigation – things we take entirely for granted and spare little thought in our day-to-day lives.

I’m very fortunate to have grown up as a third culture kid, because despite the longing for home and loneliness I battle with at times, I traverse through life fairly open-minded and interested in others whose lives are wildly different to my own. And honestly, without tooting my own horn, I think it’d be pretty stellar if more people were as curious.

With the internet bringing us ever closer together, the world seemingly shrinking before our very eyes and platforms like Instagram unlikely to disappear any time soon, we have at our disposal access to travel unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. All the flight deals, phenomenal ease of staying connected even in the most remote of locations and enough FOMO-inducing travel inspo pics to scroll through for the next 100 years.

I feel bittersweet about it all, to be honest. On the one hand I think about the ways in which travel has enriched my life and shaped me into the person I am today (and God, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.) But on the other, I gingerly peep at the harsh reality that perhaps the world’s beautiful natural spaces aren’t abundant enough to go around. We’re at 7.7 billion people on this planet and while each deserves an enriching experience during his or her time on Earth, is it really doable? Is there a way to keep doing all the travel while avoiding the plight of overtourism?

Overtourism has trashed our beaches, national parks and cities and while the average person truly means no harm, there’s an unfortunate “mob mentality” that kicks in when we see one person disrespecting a space; it suddenly seems to send a wave of permission through the masses that a free-for-all is totally acceptable. Look at what happened with the US government shutdown earlier this year? National parks now face years of damage that is, tragically, thought to be irreversible in some places.

So who stays and who goes? That’s the uncomfortable question. Or is there a way that we can still travel freely without leaving our footprint in the sand, as it were?

The obvious first step in responsible travel is to do so with the environment at the forefront of your mind. Before the photo-ops are explored and the bar has been located, I wonder how things might be different if we weren’t so entitled. It’s a complete privelege to visit another person’s land (or sea) and we must do so with immense respect. We need to adopt humility and pause to face the reality that those places don’t need any sign of us after we leave. None of us are that special. And while other nations kindly welcome us in and let us stay for a while, exploring what they have to offer, we will eventually leave and they do not wish to be stuck with the house left trashed by the party, if you catch my drift? Neither would you, I’m sure.

But let’s say everyone transformed overnight into respectful tourists, sticking to the footpaths and leaving no trace of their plasti wrappers, we still face the harsh truth that the numbers are staggering. The number of flights and pressure to expand our airports. The number of Air Bnb’s forcing out locals from their hometowns. And the population density that doesn’t go unnoticed by local flora and fauna, reshaping wildlife communities in search of tranquility. These things will still exist.

And so I pose the question – even if you have no answer: how do we stop the death and destruction that overtourism has caused and is popular culture ruining the world more today than it ever has?

Photo by Febiyan on Unsplash

How The Pill Ruined My Life – My Story (The Full Length Version)

Ok, let’s start with a bit of housekeeping. Boy has it been a minute since I last Sphynxed. In case you don’t know, I publish weekly over at Peaceful Dumpling and frequent the Gram (did I really just write that?) on a regular basis. So, if you want more, I suggest heading over to either of those.

My life is akin to a whirlwind these days and unfortunately I am simply unable to update this blog as much as I’d like. I’ll be a PhD candidate in a few months too, so the excuses will no doubt continue then *sob*. However, I’ll be moving abroad, so I imagine there will be at the very least a sprinkling of Third Culture Kid anecdotes in due course. Not to mention some nerdy science talk about brains and stuff. I’m really selling myself here, aren’t I? Stay tuned.

Something I talk about a lot in person and across the internet is my absolute loathing of hormonal birth control. After all, it stole nearly a decade of my life from me. I’ve previously called it “man’s last exercising power over women” and that belief still rings true. I think it is an abomination that young women aren’t better educated before interfering with their endocrine systems; that we hand over the most sacred, core part of ourselves to an industry that tells us we are dangerous, baby-making machines; that we’re told the problems we’re having with our menstrual cycles are best masked with synthetic hormones instead of being tackled head on -nevermind that they’ll just sit there dormant ready to cause problems later in life…

I’ve been through some horrendous stuff as a result of taking the pill, as you’ll shortly read. But despite it all, I don’t think I’d change it. I love the woman I’ve become, but I do wonder what I could have done with all that stolen time; where I might be if I hadn’t had my mental health affected in the way that it was. God damn do I want things to be different for the next generation of young ladies, so no one has to live the lie I did. I write this in hope.

I so desperately wish that society had been different when I was an eighteen-year-old packing my bags for university. Even prior to that, I wish that the school curriculum in the US and UK where I grew up hadn’t failed me so. Why did no one properly teach me about my menstrual cycle when I was 12 and getting my period for the first time? Why was I led to believe that once a woman gets her period, she’s a baby-making machine? Why did no one tell me that actually, I was only fertile for a small window of the month? Why did no one tell me how important diet was for my endocrine system? Perhaps if I knew what I needed to at the time, I wouldn’t have gone in to the GP to request that fucking pill when I was 18. I went because society told me that that was what responsible women my age did. And responsible I was.

I was in and out of the doctor’s office that day in a matter of minutes and looking back, this horrifies me. “Do you have a family history of DVT or breast cancer?” are not sufficient determinants as to whether the pill is right for someone. Not even close. But it’s all I was asked. So off I went with my first prescription.

So, I’m 18 and I’m popping the pills and heading off to university in a new town with my bags, my books and what felt like adulthood neatly packaged behind those little foil blisters. I remember thinking to myself that I felt like a real woman for maybe the first time. I was taking responsibility for my fertility (or so I foolishly thought) and prioritising my studies.

Then things got weird.

I should have been out and about socialising, but instead I was withdrawn and anxious and spent a lot of time hiding away. To put things into perspective: I’ve moved around a lot in my life and I’m a really outgoing person. This was unusual behaviour for me. On paper, my first semester of uni was a really exciting time, but all I wanted to do was escape to somewhere else… be someone else.

After taking that goddamn pill for a few months without any real reason to (my periods were never a problem and I definitely wasn’t getting frisky), I simply didn’t collect any more from the pharmacy when the pack ran out. In a matter of weeks, I started to feel myself come back to life. Thankfully, I got the chance to enjoy a really great second half of the school year, a fun summer abroad and fulfilling first semester of my second year. Then I met a boy who quickly became a boyfriend.

Back to the doctor’s I traipsed, asking to be put on a different pill because of how badly the Microgynon had fucked with me. He obliged and hooked me up with Marvelon.

Ah, marvellous Marvelon. It seemed to do the trick. The relationship was a trainwreck waiting to happen, but I was definitely more sociable and, you know, in love. Things were pretty good, so I quickly forgot about the pill. Like many women, I swallowed it mindlessly day after day on autopilot. Every morning at 7am. For the next 7 years.

Less than a year after I started taking Marvelon, I began experiencing sharp, stabbing pains in what felt like my ovary. Whenever I’d contort my body while doing yoga or getting sideways and sweaty, the cramps would come. They were unbearable. I mean, we’re talking pass out on the cold bathroom floor when you get up to pee in the night unbearable. Having your housemate discover you with a towel half-pulled over you that you’d used for a blanket because you couldn’t make it back to bed unbearable. There was blood loss too, when I had one of these attacks and I’d be left doubled-over, physically unable to stand up straight for up to 48h afterwards.

I headed to the doctor again and again and again and after trying an elimination diet (because we initially thought it was something wrong with my digestive tract rather than my ovaries) and pressing him about the abnormal bleeding, he finally sent me for an ultrasound that revealed a cyst on my right ovary. It was about 5cm in diameter.

I got scheduled for a laparoscopy during the summer before my third year of uni was due to start. Bear in mind that this is like core data-collecting time if you’re a keen student like me, who wanted to get her disseration sorted ASAP. It was savage having to take time out for surgery, but such is life.

The surgeon did a fantastic job and I don’t have any scarring, so I’m eternally grateful. But I’ll never forget sitting in the follow-up appointment and having him tell me that it was really important that I stay on the pill for the rest of my fertile life because “it’s an excellent way to minimise your risk of developing another cyst, which you might be prone to“.

As you can probably imagine, after the ordeal, that guidance from a medical professional embedded itself deeply into my subconscious. The pill became like water: an essential that I would never be able to live without. (Apart from, you know, baby-making and the on-set of menopause.)

My relationship ended and I stayed on the pill. I met a new dude and a few years went by. We were happy for a while. We moved in together. Then things took a turn for the worse.

I went for an annual pill check-up and the nurse noticed the “old fashioned” pill that I was on and recommended I switch to one with a lower dose. “It’s probably for the best“, she said, “You’re only young and will probably want kids someday, so it’s a good idea if we reduce you to a lower dose.” She sent me home with Loestrin-30 and away I popped.

It wasn’t long before I spiraled into a deep, dark depression and it’s crazy looking back now that I didn’t put two and two together and realise that this turn had coincided with the pill change. But there we go. Hindsight is a funny thing.

I spent a year or two moping around, oscillating between desperately unhappy and numb to the point where thoughts of suicide crossed my radar more often than not. I’d walk the walk and talk the talk, working, socialising and taking care of the fort, but all the while I felt like a complete shell of myself. Again, that pining like I’d had with Microgynon at the tender age of 18 to be somewhere else…someone else.

It’s hard to describe to people who haven’t experienced pill-induced brain fog quite how bad it is. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I can only describe it like being sat in a tinted glass box looking out at the world. No one can see you and you can’t interact with any of them. As you sit there, you question who you are as a person; as a woman. You wonder why you feel so emotionally unstable; why you can’t seem to get to where you want to be; why you feel so disconnected from everyone – even those closest to you.

I went to therapy. We talked about my past. Some of those conversations helped me tackle other, unrelated demons in my life. But for the most part, I spent a lot more money than I really needed to, trying to fix a girl I was breaking on repeat, each day I drugged myself with that pill.

Twenty-seventeen rolled around and I decided to do a year of mini, month-long challenges rather than vague and unattainable new year’s resolutions. This changed things in a pretty big way for me. I was on a journey to my most authentic self, trying to eat better, look after my body and take care of my mental health. Naturally (thankfully) I came to the realisation that the pill I was taking (which I now began to suspect might be the source of my anguish) was perhaps the most inauthentic thing I could possibly be doing to myself.

Let’s think about it: the pill puts our bodies into shutdown; throwing into disarray an effective endocrine system that evolution has taken hundreds of thousands of years to perfect. It floods us with synthetic compounds that interfere with over 150 bodily functions. Because that’s just it; it’s not only the reproductive organs that are affected. There’s our digestion and our mental health and our skin and our cardiovascular system and just about everything else, all because we’re terrified we’ll get pregnant every time we have sex? Or because some doctors shamefully think the solution to heavy periods or PCOS is hormone shutdown rather than looking first at diet and lifestyle?

We only make an important change in our lives when the worst case scenario that might result seems less bad than the reality of the current trajectory. For me, ditching the pill was exactly that. I really didn’t want to get pregnant, but it got to the point where I’d rather possibly find myself with child than live another day as a shell of myself. So I bid it farewell.

Ditching the pill can be really overwhelming, even when intuitively it feels like the right thing to do. I started slow, did my research and utilised some incredible resources. I prepared myself for what might happen to my body as it detoxified itself of the synthetic hormones I’d been pumping into it for years. I prepared myself for how the dynamics might change in my relationship. And then I sat back, tried to relax and armed myself with lots of nourishing foods and skincare as I waited for the hurdles to make themselves known.

I was surprised by how little time passed before I started to feel more like myself again. My relationship was falling apart due to unrelated issues, but I was starting to notice a new confidence budding within me and intuitively knew that this was the start of the rest of my life.

Time passed and the skin eruptions started. Painful, cystic acne that I’d never had before began scarring my face and leaving me self-conscious. I am a swimmer and so being bare-faced is a part of the deal. It was tough having the confidence to stand tall and do so, but I knew it would eventually get better.

I’ll mention that this is the point at which many women go back on the pill. I honestly don’t blame a single one of them. If you’ve experienced years of glowing, clear skin and suddenly have to try to navigate being an adult woman dealing with acne, I wouldn’t be the first to tell you that it isn’t great for your self-esteem. But I persisted.

The months rolled by, my relationship ended, my sex drive reappeared and I looked in the mirror and saw a woman looking back at me with knowing and integrity. For the first time in my adult life, I knew who I really was and what I wanted. And for the first time, I wasn’t scared to go and get it.

In the past year, I have changed my entire life beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself and I dread to think what kind of hole I’d be in if I hadn’t made that decision to ditch the pill those 18 months ago.

The skin issues have passed, along with most of the growing pains. These days, I pause for a moment most mornings and thank the universe that I made that decision way back when to get to know myself. And I thank myself for sticking with it while my body navigated the chaos.

If you’re thinking of ditching the pill, there are numerous amazing resources available to help you get through the crazy. I recommend starting here. And please do not hesitate to get in touch if have any questions. I am totally here for you girl.

From the bottom of my heart, I want you to know that life can be so much better than how things are right now. The universe is just waiting for you to take that leap of faith and get to know your real, authentic self.

Photo by Paulo Evangelista on Unsplash

To All My Friends Approaching 30

It’s a funny thing: age. The fear of getting old permeates society like a virus and it’s truly atrocious. It’s horrid for men and women alike. You spend all of childhood itching to turn 18 or 21 or whatever other age is considered “adult” in your part of the world and then within a few years you’re desperately clinging onto that youth for fear of wrinkles, shriveled ovaries and dying alone. I’m kidding, guys…

I turned 28 yesterday and I’ve had a merry old time reflecting on my twenties thus far. The cringeworthy clothing choices, the poor decisions, the loves and losses and the hilarious adventures around the world have all shaped me into a woman I’m pretty damn proud to put out into this mental society as I perch here typing this. I still walk the earth without the foggiest idea of where I might end up, but I’m a little better equipped to deal with the setbacks these days.

The first time that I can recall having any sense of dread about turning one year older was my twenty-fifth birthday. For some reason that one seemed like I was suddenly getting old. (I speak about this like it was many years in the past; I’m aware that this was just 3 years prior, guys. I know…)

Twenty-five seemed like the year that I was supposed to have my shit together: be the epitomy of success and happiness intertwined into one big, sickening, chunder bucket. By twenty-five we’re supposed to have found the one, be climbing our career ladders, be earning at least a little money and be thinking about buying a house. My reality is that I spent more time moping around my apartment suffering from depression as a result of hormonal birth control than living it up. The year came and went in a blur of blubbering.

Fast-forward three years and I’ve come to realise that all of those aforementioned expectations were utter insanity. However, we live life, we hear things, and our subconscious becomes adulterated with thoughts that are not our own, even though we adopt them as such nonetheless. Society expects things of us and we of it. Only, you’ve got to ask: who actually are these elusive men and women ticking all the boxes? Because I have friends around the world and I sure as hell haven’t encountered any of them!

I’m closer to thirty than twenty and I no longer get asked for ID when I buy booze. I have bills and responsibilities and an actual grown up job. I can no longer stay up all night partying and head straight to work without injecting caffeine or hiding in the cupboard to take a nap. I spend more on my skincare now because the dewiness needs a little helping hand. I don’t care if I look like I’m wearing a potato sack on a night out: I prioritise comfort.

But I also have more confidence than I did back in the days when my skin looked radiant without any sleep and I had the world in the palm of my hand. I’m more savvy and give less of a crap about going to buy groceries in my pyjamas. I would rather be alone than date someone who wastes my time and energy. I still dream (and I dream BIG), but a pearl of wisdom tells me that I probably should try and build up some savings soon and I definitely should prioritise sleep if I want to be a capable, functioning human in my waking life.

It’s a pity that we get so caught up on aging. The fear still lingers somewhere within my bones, but I’m very aware of it now and working actively to dissipate it. It’s hard when we’ve got a market saturated with angi-aging products and images that tell us that young is most beautiful, but beauty is such a complex thing and truly in the eye of the beholder. I look at twenty-one year olds and some of them are physically glowing, but have they learned what I have? Probably not. And can they hold a conversation as well as my friends in their thirties? Almost certainly not.

To all my friends in their late twenties and early thirties: I want to tell you that it’s all right if you’re climbing a career ladder that you aren’t sure is for you. It’s fine that you’re frustrated that all your friends are getting married and popping kids out and you’re nowhere near finding anyone you want to spend more than a drunken night with. That sensation you feel pushing at the walls of your chest to get out and see the world before it is burned alive is normal. And yes, it’s fine to spend the money you’re saving for a house deposit on that adventure of a lifetime instead.

None of us really know what we’re doing. All we must do is try our best and make the best decision we can in a given moment, based on the information we have at that time. Some will lead down paths of opportunity and abundance. Others wont. But that’s the only way to learn and then do better, isn’t it?

I’m twenty eight and I now know what I like. Also, importantly, I know what I don’t like. I no longer waste my time on people who can’t give me what I want. I am happy to have those uncomfortable conversations around taboo topics, if others are willing to engage in a constructive discussion, but I no longer give an ounce of attention to those that leave me feeling sour. I’m single, on the cusp of changing career paths and sometimes told by older generations that I’m far too opinionated to ever have a chance at being a nice, young lady. Tis a shame that some feel this way; can’t they see that I’m only trying to get shit done and save the world?

To all my friends approaching thirty: we are smarter and wiser than we were at the start of this decade. We’ve learned heaps about ourselves and others and the world that – trust me – we will put to good use in the years to come. We have the tools to make the world a better place and are still allowed to have a sense of adventure and wonder. It’s time to grab life by the balls and tell anyone who wants to stamp on our dreams that they can go do one because we deserve nothing but magic.

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