This Is Not Your Life Forever

I’m not going to lie: I’m not entirely where I want to be right now. But, to be fair, I’m twenty-two years old; how many people my age are?

Right now, I’m still living with my parents, but I have my eye on a cheap apartment in the town where I actually want to live, the town where all my friends live and where I actually stand a chance of getting the sort of job that I want. However, I cannot currently afford aforementioned cheap apartment after four years dedicated to university, and so I’m working retail jobs until I can. I’m single, I don’t have a lot of friends that I see on a regular basis, and I’m not very good at making new friends. All of this sort of adds up to a general feeling of “meh” about where I am right now.

And I know I’m not alone in this.

There are a lot of people out there who aren’t exactly where they’d like to be. A lot of young adults, still trying to figure out what sort of life they want to live and how they can achieve it, as well as a lot of older adults who really don’t feel “settled” yet. To be honest, it’s sort of a human condition, because very few of us are lucky enough to be born directly into the place where we want to be.

We all have goals we want to achieve.

We all want to find ourselves and become comfortable in our identities.

We all have places we want to go, things we want to see, stuff we want to do.

And sometimes, when we’re stuck in that place where we don’t want to be for long enough, it becomes easy to think that you’re going to be there forever.

It’s easy to lose hope, and to think that the things that you want are never going to come to you – either because you aren’t good enough or strong enough to get it, or because the whole cause feels hopeless.

But here’s the thing: you aren’t at the end of the race yet.

After all, change is the only constant in life. And maybe it won’t always be the change that you expect, but it will be change nonetheless. A year from now, you will be an entirely different person. Ten years from now, you will have an entirely different life, hopefully a life that you’re more satisfied with.

And I know, change takes a long time to come. It can be frustrating sometimes, it can be disheartening, but where you are now is not where you will always be. Time passes slowly, but it passes, and it brings with it many beautiful things. It brings with it your dreams, a new love, new friends, new family. It brings with it an endless array of possibilities, so many that you can’t even imagine them all now.

So don’t get stuck in today. Don’t keep dwelling in this idea that this is your life, this is forever, because it isn’t. People come and go. Dreams come true and evolve into new dreams. And along the way, even in times where you are not satisfied, there are still many things that should not be taken for granted.

I may not be satisfied living in my parent’s house, but at least I have a place to stay. There are too many people out there who cannot say that, and I know that I am incredibly privileged to be able to. I may not currently have the life or job that I want, but I have the means to work toward it. I am grateful for that.

And though I don’t know what your circumstance is, whatever it is, I am sure that you can think of something in it that makes it at least bearable for now.

That’s a problem with being dissatisfied with today; you run the risk of taking things for granted. It’s not the only problem, of course – just a problem.

Enjoy life while you can, but keep working toward the life you want. Stop and smell the roses, and then charge ever forward. But whatever you do, do not give into despair. Do not give up. Your life can be exactly what you want it to be, just so long as you do not give up hope.

Advertisements

We Need to Be Selfish

Selfishness is a character trait that gets sort of a bad name. Along with traits like greed, ambition, and pride, selfishness is one of those traits that you rarely see in the story’s hero, unless it’s a flaw that needs to be overcome. Selfishness belongs to the villain. It is a problem, a word to dismiss your choices and behaviour as wrong.

“You’re being so selfish” is just another way of saying “you shouldn’t do that”.

But I’m going to offer up a rebuttal to all of that today: personally, I think we all kind of need to be selfish at certain times in our life.

I’m certainly not going to deny that selfishness can be a problem, especially in excess, but aren’t most things already a problem in excess?

Selfishness becomes a problem when you are consistently ignoring another person’s feelings and putting your needs above theirs.

Selfishness becomes a problem when you become absolutely incapable of looking beyond yourself and seeing things from another perspective.

But at the same time, it’s difficult to deny that the opposite of excessive selfishness, and by that I mean excessive selflessness, can also be just as much of a problem.

If you spend your life living for other people, you risk losing your sense of identity. You become their caretaker, or a filter for their thoughts. You waste all your energy trying to make them happy, so that you have none left to make yourself happy. When all you care about is other people, then you stop caring about yourself – and we have seen multiple examples of this.

For example, mothers are often considered one of our society’s most prime examples of selflessness, but 11 to 20% of women who give birth in the United States report symptoms of postpartum depression, meaning that more women will be diagnosed with postpartum depression in one year than men or women will be diagnosed with tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, or epilepsy. And yet, only 15% of these women will ever receive treatment for their postpartum depression because there is such an intense stigma against mothers who suffer from it. These are women are literally not taking care of themselves because they have been told by society that it is more important that they take care of their children. That if they don’t drop everything and put their children first, then they are selfish and, therefore, bad mothers.

And if postpartum depression goes untreated, it can result in some very dangerous, life-altering side effects, like chronic depression and anxiety for the mother, and complications in the child’s development.

And I’m not trying to say that mothers with postpartum depression should neglect their children completely; all I’m trying to say is that there needs to be a balance between caring for yourself and caring for others.

And you don’t even need to be a mother to need this balance too. I have known many people who spent years dedicated to other people, whether it be to a parent, a sibling, or whatever, doing whatever they could to make them happy, until one day they just couldn’t anymore. They realized that nothing they had done had made them happy, that they didn’t even really know who they were, and they needed to take time for themselves and find out who they were. Sometimes this means partying. Often this means rebellion. And every time I have seen someone do this, they did it because they needed to. It is because they could not do anything else anymore.

I have also known people who never came to this point where they realized they weren’t happy; they just kept serving other people, more and more of them falling away until they were just a ghost. They didn’t have their own opinions. They didn’t stand up for themselves. They just parroted the things that others said to them, reflecting them more than they did themselves.

I’m not trying to say that taking care of others is not a fulfilling thing to do. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider other opinions. All that I am trying to say is that you are just as important as anyone else.

You deserve the chance to be yourself. You deserve the chance to build your own identity and become comfortable in it. You deserve the chance to understand what you believe in and how your mind works and when you are not well, and all of those things are bought through selfishness. Through taking the time away from other people and focusing on yourself.

The main component throughout all of this is balance.

You need to know that other people matter, but you need to know that you matter too. You matter just as much as anyone else does. And just like your parents or children or whatever the case may be, you deserve love and kindness and understanding. If you rob yourself of this, that is when you risk becoming a ghost.

So be a little bit selfish. You need selfishness. We demonize it too often in our society, when the truth is that it is just as dangerous and just as beautiful as selflessness.

Why We All Need to Talk About Biphobia (Discrimination Against Bisexual People)

I’m not going to lie – I’ve had a difficult time coming to terms with my sexual orientation, and I blame part of that on the fact that I am not attracted to one singular gender. I am attracted to girls, boys, transgender people, gender queer people, non-binary people, etc. – basically, I’m attracted to people before genders, a phenomena that is more commonly known as being bisexual.

Now, bisexuality can come in multiple forms. By definition, it is the attraction to two or more genders, but what this means is a bit more complicated than it sounds. It is possible to be bisexual, but have a preference for one gender or the other. You can be bisexual and be attracted differently to either gender. Or you can be bisexual and experience equal attraction to either gender. At the end of the day, there are no straight-forward rules for identifying as bisexual – if you feel like you identify as bisexual, then you are bisexual. It’s as simple as that.

Now, I have known that I am bisexual since I was about ten years old, but I did not know the above information until I was around twenty years old, when I finally decided that it was time to be proud of who I am and research information on what that meant. In my searches, I came across several blogs and websites on bisexuality, and it was here that I found the official definition of what bisexuality was, because I had previously thought of it merely as an attraction to both boys and girls, split equally down the middle. It was also in these blogs that I first came across the word ‘biphobia’.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, biphobia is, as you might expect, the discrimination against people who identify specifically as bisexual. Although bisexual people can experience homophobia as well, biphobia is a partly separate issue, relating to the issues that bisexual people in particular face.

Now, I want to emphasize that this is not a word that I had ever heard until I started looking up information on bisexuality on the internet. And if I had not had reason to look this information up, if I was either straight or gay, I very well might never have come across it. Which struck me as exceptionally strange and disappointing, because the more that I read about it, the more I realized that biphobia is something that we all need to talk about – not just bisexual people. It is something that straight people need to remember, and it is something that homosexual people need to remember.

And why?

We need to talk about biphobia because whenever someone gets romantically (or sometimes sexually) involved with someone of their own gender, the dominant response is “oh, I guess they’re gay now” or “I didn’t know they were gay”, even if aforementioned person has had multiple partners of the opposite sex. The possibility that they might be bisexual never even crosses most people’s minds.

We need to talk about biphobia because in an interview with Larry King, Anna Paquin, an openly bisexual woman, was referred to as a ‘non-practicing bisexual’ because she is married to a man, whereas married straight women are not referred to as a ‘non-practicing heterosexual’ and married lesbians are not ‘non-practicing homosexuals’. And this is not an isolated incident either; this is something that even believed in my teen years – that when I get married, my identity would change depending on who I married. If I married a man, I’d magically become straight. If I married a woman, I’d magically become a lesbian. But that isn’t how it works. Bisexual people are bisexual – that doesn’t change based on who their current partner is.

We need to talk about biphobia because bisexual people are often accused of being queer people who are able to ‘pass’ as straight because they are capable of entering into relationships with someone of the opposite gender, but it is not a privilege to have your identity consistently dismissed and ignored throughout your life.

We need to talk about biphobia because bisexual women are automatically assumed to be promiscuous women who are merely trying to impress men, whereas bisexual men are automatically assumed to be gay men who are too afraid to come all the way out of the closet. Either way, bisexual people are automatically assumed to just want men at the end of the day. This assumption is so strong that many lesbians have stated that they would never date a bisexual woman because she’d probably just leave them for a man, because we all know that that’s what bisexual women really want (cue the eye rolls).

We need to talk about biphobia because I as a bisexual woman feel like that is not something I should disclose too early in a relationship, because it might cheapen me in my partner’s eyes.

We need to talk about biphobia because bisexual women in particular are dismissed as dirty, promiscuous, greedy, and unlovable, while simultaneously being sexualized, fetishized, and objectified by men who really like the idea of a woman who will sleep with other women, but also with them as well. Perhaps as a result of this, bisexual women are nearly twice as likely to be abused than straight women (according to a Buzzfeed report). Bisexual women also have a 46.1% chance of being raped in their lifetime (whether that be by a romantic partner or not) – a rate that is 2.6 times higher than straight women and 3.5 times higher than lesbian women (according to the bisexual support website Bitopia).

We need to talk about biphobia because I as a bisexual woman feel as though I cannot or should not date a man, because if I did, I’d lose something in the process – a feeling that is only emphasized by biphobic representations of bisexuals such as in the television series Glee, wherein there is one episode where a gay character becomes upset because his boyfriend kisses a girl. But it wasn’t the possible cheating that made him upset, no – it was the fact that the kiss resulted in his contemplating that he might actually be bisexual, as though his realization that he might be bisexual makes him less valuable in his boyfriend’s eyes. This conflict is resolved when the boyfriend character comes to the conclusion that he is completely gay, and thus the gay character can rest easily knowing all is as it should be. There is also a later episode where a lesbian character discloses that her ex-girlfriend was bisexual, to which the girl that is currently flirting with the lesbian character responds by saying that it’s “for the best” that she’s an ex then, and that what she really needs is a “100% Sapphic goddess”. This openly biphobic character is then treated by the lesbian as ‘better’ than her exes because she’s a real, bonafide lesbian. And this is a television show that marketed itself as being open-minded and inclusive.

We need to talk about biphobia because it is everywhere, and it isn’t something that I even thought about all that much until I had need to think about it. If I wasn’t bisexual, then chances are I’d be continuing to perpetuate these toxic beliefs today, because I wouldn’t know any better.

And people need to know better. That is why I talk about biphobia.

Because bisexual people are not dirty, greedy, naturally promiscuous, or whatever a biphobic society that enforces these beliefs paints us as. We are people. We are people who want to find love as much as anyone else. The only difference between us and anyone else is that we have to live with these assumptions held against us, and people are not talking enough about that. And we deserve better than that.

And I Wait

What am I doing, you might ask? I’m just waiting.

Waiting for something to change. Waiting for something good to happen. Waiting for something bad to happen. Whichever comes first, I suppose.

Waiting for my life to begin, like I thought it did four years ago. Like I thought it did three years ago. Like I thought it did one year ago. But no, I’m still waiting. Sitting here all patient-like, twiddling my thumbs, humming a tune, trying to keep my chin up and my head high and my smile on. Trying to keep from losing hope. Trying to remember that my waiting will stop eventually, that it will all pay off in the end, that something is going to change. All I need to do is wait.

And so I do. I wait. Like a good little girl with my legs crossed at the ankles and my nice, white dress so free of stains, I wait.

I wait for the clouds to slide on by and leave the sun shining down on me. I wait for someone to answer my questions, to take me by the hand and lead me forward. I wait to be heard, wait to receive my voice. I wait for someone to see me, really see me, and I wait for someone to care about what they see. I wait to care back. I wait and I wait and I tell myself that it’s good to wait, it doesn’t mean anything that I’m sitting here waiting. It’s not a waste of life, it is life. Life is waiting. And that’s what I’m doing.

And waiting is better than sleeping in the dirt.

Isn’t it?

I wait to lose my patience. I wait to scream, to cry, to break. I wait to reach a point where I can no longer wait at all, and I wait to see what I will do when that point comes. I wait to become a disappointment. I wait to make mommy cry, to make daddy refuse to so much as awknowledge my name. I wait to make everyone hate me at last, the way I know they should.

I wait for the scars that I put on my arms to heal. I wait for the blood to dry and crack and peel away. I wait for my smile to feel natural. I wait to be comfortable in this spotless white dress that they put me in. I wait to know what I would feel comfortable in. I wait to know my name, to speak it aloud and feel how good it will taste on my lips. I wait to find out if any of that will ever happen. I wait for the courage to believe it will.

And so I sit here, and I wait.

And I wait.

And I wait.

Who Am I?

Who am I?

I think a lot of people around my age start to go through this phase, this question of who am I. We want to know. We want to define ourselves. And it’s never enough to merely say I am me. I am a person with blood in my veins and a universe in my soul. I am a series of endless possibilities, a limitless creation. I can do anything and be anything. I am who I am. As much as all of that is true, we still feel the need to set these definitions up for ourselves. We still need a solid ground to stand on, a place to build off from.

So who am I?

Am I a lover? Am I a friend? Am I a daughter, a sister, a mother? Do I need to attach myself to people? Can I exist alone?

Am I a woman? Am I a man? Do I exist in between? Do I exist in neither space?

Am I kind? Am I cruel? Am I a slippery serpent hidden beneath a kind word and a smile?

Am I ambitious? Cutthroat? Willing to do anything and everything to get what I want? What do I want?

Am I a scholar? A worker? A layabout? Am I someone who can be satisfied with all this? Am I someone who craves more, who needs more? Am I someone who can ever be fully satisfied?

And what does all of this mean? Man, woman, child, good, evil, intelligent, hard-working, what do all these words mean in relation to me? Am I any of them? Am I none of them? Can any of them ever fully apply to me? Can I ever receive answers? Or is that all that life is – questions? Just an endless series of questions, a continuous attempt to fill in the blanks until it’s all over and there’s no more you left to be defined?

Or maybe the problem is that we keep asking these questions because we cannot define ourselves. Maybe it doesn’t work that way. Maybe others can define us – they can look at us and make decisions about who we are based on the way that we act, but we can never be fully satisfied with the definitions that we place upon ourselves because we are constantly changing. We are not simply one thing, we are ever evolving, always growing, always becoming different from the definitions that we place upon ourselves. One day we are kind and nurturing, and the next we are angry and all-consuming, a destructive force, our own villains that must be overcome by the hero within us. By the goodness and the contemplation that we are equally as capable of.

So who am I? I am all and everything. I am what I want to be. That’s who I am.