10 Things I Will (Not) Regret In Ten Years Time.

I made the mistake of going on Facebook today – apparently some woman is having her second child, it’s the talk of erm… Britain. (Maybe she’s important somehow, like maybe she was working on the cure for a disease or something? I mean, the media is kind of going crazy, so she must be soooooo important!)

Anyway, among the drivel about a peanut-sized fetus, there was this gem about how I am totally going to regret these ten “choices” in ten years.  I mean, that’s vastly important information so I thought I’d better read it, before I get that tattoo of my driving license on my arm.

Apparently, it's been done... Photo courtesy of Dave (the tv channel).
Apparently, it’s been done…
Photo courtesy of Dave (the tv channel).

Except, as I read through these ten things, I found I was kind of underwhelmed. I was expecting (stupidly) an insightful list of things I totally think are a good idea now, that I will regret later. That’s what the title led me to believe. What I got was disappointing common sense, things that aren’t even choices, and a few things that are not so black and white as the article suggests.

1. Wearing a mask to impress others.

Okay, so obviously this refers to pretending to be someone you’re not, and not to literally wearing a mask all the time (unless you’re trying to impress members of the KKK or people who really love gimp suits, obviously). In which case the article is totally right – if you pretend to be something you’re not all the time to impress other people, you’re going to feel shitty. Firstly with exhaustion, and secondly with the realization that no one really knows and respects the real you, which is pretty lonely.

On the other hand, there are times when you should probably put your best face forward, and that might involve a little mask wearing. I doubt anyone has ever regretted showering and acting polite when they felt shit on the inside during a job interview, if you catch my drift.

2. Letting someone else create your dreams for you.

Every sci-fi in history says this is totally a bad idea – not least because people in your head will attack the person fucking your dreams up.

This bitch is going down!
This bitch is going down!

But seriously, living your own life is just common sense. Nothing to see here folks!

3. Keeping negative company

Okay, everyone likes nice people. You should hang out with nice people, people who make you feel good. But this one totally contradicts with things happening later on in that it’s kind of selfish and douchy when you think about it. I mean, nice people aren’t nice all the time – people fluctuate. Don’t give up on your buddy because they were honest with you about that haircut you love but they think is hideous, or because they were a bit mardy with you that day their husband died, or because they don’t want to hang out with you when they’re in the depths of a long depression. Just like you, they have fluctuating moods and personalities and are not perfect all of the time.

4. Being selfish and egotistical

 I donate to charity whenever I can – time and money, I give everything to support causes I care about. Some people would say I have a selfless side; other people would rightly realize that I do get a bit of a kick out of doing good, so some of it is still kind of selfish; other people would say I don’t do enough because I don’t deal in absolutes. I mean, I sleep at night rather than spending all day and all night helping folks, so I’m just not giving enough. The problem with selfishness is that it’s almost entirely decided relatively – as in by comparison between you and some bugger else. So, basically, stop worrying about being “selfish” by other people’s standards and just do what you think is right.

5. Avoiding change and growth

What can I say – some change is good, some not so good. Avoid the good, go for the bad. Wait… that’s the wrong way around!

6. Giving up when the going gets tough

Over the summer I had a shit job. Most of us have been there – it looked okay, and actually it turned out to be a steaming pile of shit. But I stuck it out based on the notion that I shouldn’t just quit because it was crap and thus kinda hard to put up with.

In doing this, I ended up putting up with stuff that no person should ever have to put up with, including but not limited to: four hour daily travel, eight hours without a break, doing everything on my own, sexual harassment (that was ignored), and an unsafe working environment. My nerves now completely shot, I have quit.

Sometimes, you should preserve. Others you should run for the hills. Learn to recognize which is which to avoid regret and unnecessary bullshit.

7. Trying to micromanage every single little thing

This is explained in terrible wishy-washy bullshit in the article (which I find ironic given later advice!), but the principle remains that you can’t manage every aspect of life. Sometimes things just happen and you can only deal with the consequences of it.

8. Settling for less than you deserve

Hold on a minute… the article said don’t be selfish, and yet this involves that very thing! Sometimes in life, this totally applies – if you work a certain number of hours, you deserve a certain amount of pay, for example. If you pass all of your assessments for a qualification, you deserve to be awarded that qualification. If, however, you are nice to a chick that’s a friend, and she doesn’t shag you, you can’t exactly claim you were swindled – no one said you “deserved” that as a reward. So, bear that sort of thing in mind.

9. Endlessly waiting until tomorrow

We’re all going to die! HOLY SHIT WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! And we haven’t got a clue when, it’s true. So while that does mean trying to get the most out of your life, what it doesn’t mean is not making any future plans simply because you can’t be totally sure you’re going to be alive by then. Future plans are still awesome, and some tasks take longer than a day to complete.

[Insert obligatory picture of Rome here]
[Insert obligatory picture of Rome here]

10. Being lazy and wishy-washy

Have you ever spent the day sat in front of the TV? Of course you have, you lazy bastard. There was so much more you could have done that day – maybe you were even thinking that as you watched Jamie and Adam blow the shit out of stuff on Mythbusters. So why didn’t you do it? Are you lazy and unreliable? Are you afraid of taking responsibility for shit?

Or, just maybe, you really needed a fucking rest. Just because you aren’t leaping from buildings or running a marathon every day doesn’t mean you aren’t doing something quite important. Just like sleep, taking a regular break to be lazy is very important. Think of RSI, but for your whole body and brain. Yeah, you can go back to watching Mythbusters in your pants now – do it for the welfare of you, man!

You got to the end!

In which case, you deserve a reward. Like my number one tip for not regretting anything ever? Don’t choose to regret stuff. You aren’t perfect, and shit happens. That, like you, is perfectly okay bro.

10 Things I Will (Not) Regret In Ten Years Time.

The (Un)Friend Zone

I apologise for my absence – it was my birthday a few days ago. Let me make it up to you!

I’m going to tell you a story. It goes like so:

Once upon a time, there was a 15 year old girl called Laura, who had a really close male friend. She thought the world of him – even though everyone else found him quite irritating and selfish. She just never saw that side of him. She was really glad to have him as a friend.

One day, Laura and her friend – let’s call him “Ben” – went for a walk in the local area. Ben decided, for some reason, he wanted to go to the grave yard (yeah, creepy, right?) because there was something in there he wanted Laura to see. So she obliged, and off they went. He took her to a patch of grass and sat down… then turned to her and asked her to freakin’ marry him

Laura was shocked – she had no idea he felt that way, and she never wanted to get married, and, well, Ben just wasn’t her type. He was her close friend, and she liked it that way; she didn’t want anything more. So Laura decided to do the right thing, and tell him the truth. He nodded, she gave him a sympathetic hug, and they both went home. As soon as she got through the front door of her house, she received a message from Ben. He called her a total bitch, and said it would be her fault if he went to kill himself that night. Laura was devastated and broke into tears. She told her family, who called him a git. She told her friends.. who sided with Ben, because she’d totally “friend-zoned” him and she was ‘cruel’.

As I’m sure you can tell, this actually happened to me when I was 15. It was seriously scary and upsetting. But you’ll be glad to know he didn’t kill himself at all. Still, the subject of the “friend zone” is one that touches a nerve with me, naturally. So you can only imagine how I felt when on my news feed this morning, I found this:

Yeah, seriously. This exists.
Yeah, seriously. This exists.

I’ve had enough of this shit too. I have a personal policy when it comes to people who insist upon the friend-zone being a real thing, something which is increasingly well known. I UNFRIEND YOUR ASS.

You read that right. You talk about how you, or someone you know, has been “friend-zoned” and, context permitting, I will cease to be your friend. Some people think this is rather dramatic, but I totally disagree. Allow me to explain this policy.

You see, bleating about the friend zone actually says a lot about a person and how they view their friendship and relationships, stuff that probably influences the way they act. People that believe in the friend zone are looking at friendships and intimate relationships from a particular angle – the ‘slot machine’ angle. It works like this:

Exhibit A.
Exhibit A. 

Friendship is a slot machine – you put “niceness” chips in, and you expect eventually the “machine” will put out in a particular way. You’ve been nice to it, you’ve given it your time and all your niceness chips. You deserve a reward. So when the machine doesn’t put out, you’re upset. You maybe shake the machine, demand to know why it isn’t working, and walk away from it to find a machine that does work like that.

One error these people make is that friendships just don’t work that way. In fact, they might look a little more like this:

Yeah, those 'niceness chips' really get around, buddy.
Exhibit B. Yeah, those ‘niceness chips’ really get around…

Let’s say each of those people are the female’s friend, and the arrows are the famous ‘niceness’ chips. Some of them might be interested in relationships with one of those ladies… but judging by the diagram, niceness chips alone doesn’t quite cut it. They both have plenty of niceness chips, and they’re giving plenty of them back. Friendships, much like relationships, are reciprocal – you give something, they give something too.

Plus, the other point about friendships is the reason why you are being nice to someone. Most people are nice to their friends because they enjoy their company, and they want to keep these people happy because dang, these people are awesome to hang out with. If you are being nice to someone simply because you expect something particular in return – like some sweet, sweet lovin’ – you might be a manipulative selfish butthole. Your niceness does not entitle you to any special favours – it is the cornerstone of a good friendship, and a good friend is all that it entitles you to. That’s it. Nothing else.

I was nice to her, so that totally means I can steal her stuff, right?
I was nice to her, so that totally means I can steal her stuff, right?

When relationships do form out of friendships, it’s because that person offers something else on top of niceness coins – like they find them physically attractive, or they share the same sense of humour or something. So if they don’t accept your offer for a relationship, it simply means you were missing that magical ingredient at that time. It sucks for you, but deal with it. Life isn’t a fucking fairy tale. Do not reject their choice entirely and tell them you’re a ‘nice person’ who totally just got shoved into a ‘friend-zone’ by someone who totally only wants to date ‘losers’ or ‘assholes’. (Acting like an asshole isn’t going to make them jump into your arms.) Try respecting their choice as an adult of reasonable intelligence who is fully capable of making their own damn life decisions.

So when I say I will not be your buddy if you talk to me about the damn friend-zone, what I mean is just this – I am convinced that you will only see me in terms of what I can do for you, and not as a real person with real feelings, who makes legitimate choices about my own life, or as a person you might like to have around just because we have fun. I don’t want a friendship based on manipulation and bullshit, thanks. Welcome to the unfriend-zone.

The (Un)Friend Zone

Britain is NOT the best place to be a woman

So, the other day UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo said that the UK was the sexist country in the world, in her opinion, and everyone got their knickers in a right twist over it. Understandably, I suppose – it’s hardly a judgement that’s going to help British tourism or anything.

395037015_46a08536ea_m
Britain, anyone? Photo courtesy of hongkonguk13

Her reasoning is that the UK has a “boys’ club sexist culture”, and that government measures like austerity tend to have a disproportionate impact on women. She also criticized the media’s negative and sexualised portrayals of women – she argued they created negative and damaging perceptions of women and girls, and lead to the “marketisation” of their bodies – and was miffed that she wasn’t allowed into Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, where their have been some controversial complaints from women in the past.

Now, I’m not going to argue that Britain is actually the most sexist country in the world, because that statement is utterly ridiculous. I don’t have to worry about being prosecuted for ‘promiscuity’ if I’m sexually assaulted, I can have a job, I’ve been educated. If I had a husband and he hit me, that would be a crime here, not his ‘right’ as my ‘owner’. So being a woman in Britain could be worse – much, much worse.

You could also be Katie Hopkins... Case and point?
You could also be Katie Hopkins… Case and point?

But the counter argument I’ve heard, about Britain being the best place in the world to be a woman, is equally stupid. Where does this even come from?!

First off, just because the lady made a silly hyperbolic statement, doesn’t mean the stuff she’s talking about isn’t an accurate reflection of what it’s like to be a woman in Britain. The “boys’ club” is a real thing – it’s most apparent in Parliament where there are only 147 female MPs, compared to 503 male MPs. There are currently only 3 women in cabinet (though two more of those are allowed to attend. Equality, right?!). To put this into perspective, 45% of Sweden’s national parliament is female. It’s not a competition, but I think it’s obvious who’s winning.

I couldn’t find any figures on transgender or androgynous individuals in politics, unfortunately.

The figures rather accurately reflect leadership positions all over the country. Although more women go to university than men now, there are startlingly few female lecturers, professors, and researchers in general. Research presented by female lead researchers is more likely to be rejected. Likewise, even though women dominate education, but more headteachers are male.  Don’t even get me started on leadership in other industries…

So, men make all the decisions. Not surprising, then, that you have ridiculous outdated rules governing women. Like, you literally have to have two doctors ‘satisfy the criteria’ for the Abortion Act 1967. Which are, by the way:

  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk to the woman’s life than ending the pregnancy
  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health than ending the pregnancy
  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk to the physical or mental health of any of the woman’s existing children
  • there is a significant risk that if the child is born s/he would have a serious physical or mental disability.

Yeah, because you’d have to be mad not to want a child.

I’m not even going to talk about domestic violence, or portrayals of women in the media, catcalling, the division of domestic labour, women in science and engineering, austerity measures – I don’t need to. It’s all pretty obvious stuff to anyone who isn’t willfully blind, and it would be patronizing to you.

What I will say is this – just because one turd has a bow on it, and the other has gone white and stinky, doesn’t mean the first isn’t a turd. Stop excusing our existing cultural problems with pathetic stuff like “oh but it’s so much worse elsewhere”, because all you are doing is making Manjoo look right.

Still a turd. Photo courtesy of South Park Studios.
Still a turd. Photo courtesy of South Park Studios.
Britain is NOT the best place to be a woman

I’m totally not a feminist – except when I am entirely a feminist.

There was this lone tree in the middle of a small patch of grass at school that us ‘freaks’ claimed for ourselves (until the school chopped it down, presumably because we were having too much fun), and this was where we would have lunch every day, provided it wasn’t sopping wet or covered in snow. I distinctly recall one lunch break at school at the tree, sat munching my sandwiches happily, when the subject of feminism came up.

“I think feminism is stupid,” one of my friends began. “It’s full of man-hating women that just want to be superior to men. I want to be equal to men; I don’t hate men at all.”

We all nod. “It should be called equalitism or something,” someone adds, having yet to be introduced to humanism I presume.

“I agree with women’s rights,” I remember saying, “but I’m not a feminist.”

At the time, this statement was entirely correct. I have always been a fierce supporter of equality in all forms, but never did I identify as a feminist. Even as I began to call myself “Ms” instead of miss – following a lesson on the origins of the term that left me feeling unclean – I wouldn’t allow myself to be called a feminist. I knew of no feminists, who were frequently criticized by the adults in my life, so my stereotyped view of them was left unchecked. I didn’t want to be a hairy, unclean, militant, grumpy bra-burner who loathed men.

Over the course of time, I began to understand that the people peddling these ideas that feminism is the domain of hairy, man-hating lesbians were the same people desperately trying to suppress the fight for equal rights for… well, just about everyone really. It’s seems pretty obvious to me now, but as a kid you just aren’t aware of these things, especially when no one you know is a feminist. In fact, my first introduction to someone with the same views as me identifying as a feminist was in my media heroes; people typically named Ellen or Jess who talk a lot of intelligent stuff and who’s brains I would literally kiss if it wouldn’t kill them instantly.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? You’d be right – the entire freakin’ point of me telling you all of this is that we should be proud to be supporters of equality. We need to shout from every rooftop how freaking awesome it feels not to be oppressing people. 

Because if we don’t, there are going to remain a whole bunch of very confused people out there who genuinely believe the bullshit that people say about advocates for women’s rights, and are going to fall into the traps set by conservative prudes desperate to keep them in their places. That isn’t extreme – it’s already happened to a lot of the girls who were in that very conversation with me that day. They’ve accepted their ‘lot’ in life, and given up on big dreams, just because those dreams aren’t the done thing for ladies. That’s so sad. Seriously – fuck that shit. No more.

So let’s talk about rights; loudly, publicly, until it drives our neighbours bonkers. Let’s don a uniform of pro-whatever badges, and bumper stickers, and t-shirts, maybe even shoes. Let’s all be feminists.

I’m totally not a feminist – except when I am entirely a feminist.

I love people that don’t have all the answers.

Every time I go to restaurants, it seems to take me forever to decide what I want to eat. Usually that’s because there’s a lot of good stuff on the menu, or because I had something similar recently, or because someone else is paying and my favourite meal costs a small fortune and I’m trying to decide if it’s okay to order it. On a few occasions it’s been because there’s not been as much food on the menu as wine – I like to ask for water in those places because it messes with them, they act like they don’t even remember what water is when you ask.

Anyway, the point is, everyone always laughs at me for this. It’s gotten to the point that instead of taking my time, I copy someone else’s order because it’s easier than trying to decide while everyone is mocking me (which is really distracting). Sometimes that even leads to me eating stuff I’m just not supposed to have, and feeling super ill later. I know, I know – you’re thinking “why on Earth would you even do that it’s so stupid?”. I’m with you, buddy.

Sometimes, the world can be an incredibly demanding place. It wants answers, and it wants them RIGHT NOW. Which I can understand; I’d love to just skip ahead to the bit where we have a cure for cancer, for example. Yet in this demanding world, being in a hectic rush can actually pretty counter-intuitive. We all know that we make mistakes easily when running around like headless chickens trying to meet insane deadlines, yet somehow we still do it anyway, and frequently criticize people that don’t have meet them.

Jeez, you’d be amazed just how many times I’ve heard in my young life thus far that fence-sitting is just not allowed. (I hate that term; it almost seems like accepting parts of both arguments on a subject is not actually a decision, when it is.) Even in situations where there isn’t a clear answer, you’d better have one, buddy…

You know what? I actually love people that don’t have all the answers immediately, and sometimes aren’t totally sure what they want. They’re careful people – they’re probably engaged in a good, long debate about the pros and cons of having that steak, or whatever the debate is to be had. When they do eventually make their decision, it’s a damn good one, having been thoroughly considered. It’s something that they stick to, usually, because it’s the absolute right decision for them.

Not only is it good for individuals to take their time, but the undecided among us are good for the rest of us as well. While ever they’re ‘fence-sitting’, we still have to debate the important issues with them. We have to refine our arguments, keep producing evidence – we have to be sure before they can be sure. So when we are arguing, the same thing happens for us; we become entirely certain that what we’re saying is right, or else we’re forced to switch sides. (That’s the theory, anyway; some people are likely to just continue blindly arguing without thought.)

We need more time-takers. I freaking love those guys!

I love people that don’t have all the answers.