My mind is my worst enemy, and my best friend

Sometimes, I like to reflect on my life to date. I like to analyze the journeys I’ve gone through, my achievements, my struggles and my life-altering experiences. Actually, this is a lie. I do not do this sometimes. I do this quite frequently, in fact. It also does not seem apt to describe this analysis and constant over-thinking as something do. It is more something that my mind, a somewhat separate entity, does without my consent.

My mind and I have always quarreled. This was not a new development that occurred once I hit puberty. Since as long as I can remember in fact, my mind has played tricks on me. I do not mean that my imagination causes me to see something that isn’t there. I mean that my mind causes me to question my very reality and worth in this world. My mind plays tricks on me because it causes me to have false beliefs.

Hallucinations are something that I have only experienced once in my life. This was several years ago, when I was 17, and alcohol, a lack of sleep and severe sadness and stress caused me to momentarily hear false chatter between a man and a woman. I cannot even recall what they were saying, but it was not angry or threatening, they were just having general chatter.

Thankfully, I was instantly aware that I was hallucinating, and I did not harbor the false belief that this chatter was real. It is because of this, and because this was an isolated experience, that I can confidently declare that I do not have a mental illness such as schizophrenia.

I do however, have depression. And sadly, I have for several years. It’s very hard for me to pinpoint when exactly I first became depressed. I recall feeling very lost and uncomfortable and useless throughout my childhood. I recall assuming the “class clown” role around my family; probably because I didn’t really have another role; at least not one that I could see.

Depression is a really complex problem, and one which I still don’t really understand. Medical professionals have referred to depression as “a chemical imbalance”. This is probably true to an extent. But for me, depression is a hell of a lot more than that.

You see, my depression clogs my brain’s pores forbidding any true beauty from fully shining through. My depression bullies, humiliates, undermines and uses me. She is a cowardly, mean-spirited evil spirit plagued with negativity and self destruction and poison.

When I feel truly and absolutely depressed, it often does not feel like it is truly me that is experiencing it. It feels like an outer body experience. Because when I am in modes of severe depression, the world around me stops. And all of a sudden I’m watching myself plagued with guilt, emptiness and pain.

And depression is a really fucked up thing. Because it doesn’t make sense when you really think about it. When somebody describes a bad mood as “being depressed”, you discover after you speak with them a little bit more that they’re agitated because they had car trouble or they’re stressed out about a relationship or a social event, or they’re just really tired and aren’t interested in doing anything productive because of that. And after they tell you all of this you realise that this is an isolated instance of being depressed and is situational, and once their fight with their Mam or their other half is resolved they’ll be fine again especially after they get a long hard nap.

But it’s not like that for me. My depression isn’t situational because even when I was a little kid and magic and wonder were real, and things like finances and relationships were shallow and meant nothing, even then I felt depressed. And I can’t pinpoint exactly why this is.

There have been points in my life when things have been going really well for me, and still I lay awake at night having intense anxiety about saying something stupid or embarrassing myself. And the vicious bitch that is my depression won’t shut the fuck up and allow me to be happy. Because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been plagued with complete and utter non-sensical guilt over often very stupid things that nobody cares about anyway.

I often see my mind as utterly paranoid and self-doubting. And when I think of who am as a person, I do not see myself as having those characteristics.

Obviously, because I’ve only ever been me, I can’t comment on my unhealthy thinking habits as being normal or abnormal. I do however get the impression from the world around me that thinking this way is not normal; or at least, it’s not supposed to be normal. But maybe, most people experience this negative thinking but they hide it so well that people around them won’t notice.

My mind has always been fucked up, basically. And by extension, maybe I too have always been fucked up. However, I do think that creative or artistic people are more inclined to experience the mental turmoil which I’m trying to describe. And because I am naturally that way inclined, I think I’m more prone to it.

My mind is my worst enemy because she’s troubled and negative. But she is also my best friend. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to write, create, film or express myself. It is because of her, that I overthink and overdo and over-analyze.

She is part of me, often much to my dismay.

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I think I might have Dyspraxia. This is my story.

shoelaces

I’m 5 years old. I can’t figure out how to tie my shoelaces. Any guidance I receive from adults makes no sense to me. I eventually learn my own way of tying my shoelaces, a sort of ribbon technique, and tuck the laces into my shoe.

I’m 7 years old. I’m in school and I can’t figure out how to write in a straight line. My teacher surmises my diagonal writing as laziness. Over the coming years, I finally figure out how to write in a straight line, but it takes a conscious effort and lots of practice.

I’m 8 years old. It takes me longer than my siblings to dress myself in the mornings. My school uniform fills me with dread, as I have to button, tie and tuck in. I can’t figure out how to dress myself properly. I need to stop and consciously think before putting a shirt on. Which side is the front and which side is the back? Buttons are a nightmare. How do I figure out which button goes into which hole? Forget about tying a tie. That will always most definitely be an impossibility.

I’m 9 years old. I can’t figure out how to read the time. I cannot wrap my head around any learning technique provided to me by my teacher or by my parents. The numbers read in my brain like a foreign language, the structure of the clock going in a circular shape makes no sense, and I struggle.

My classmates and friends pick this up almost instantly. My younger brother, who is one year younger and two years behind me in school, picks it up instantly too. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just learn simple things that everybody else can learn in the snap of a finger? After several hours of guidance from my mother, I finally grasp the skill of reading the time. But for several years afterwards, I have to consciously think about it before being able to surmise the reading. It takes me until I am about 15 to understand and read the time in the 24-hour format. I opt for digital wherever possible. I avoid clocks in my day to day life if I can. They fill me with doom.

I’m 12 years old. I get my first bra. I can’t figure out how to clasp it for a long time. Anything fiddly makes me panic and I become frustrated. I sometimes ask my sister to clasp it for me to avoid the struggle.

I’m 13 years old. I am in secondary school, and learning is so hard for me. My teachers scold me and make remarks about laziness and insufficient study when I do badly in a test. Note taking is impossible. The only subject in which I can make sense of is English. Language, my native one at least, makes sense, whereas everything else academic goes over my head. When I try to take notes, I go into elaborate paragraphs, making them short stories rather than anything remotely factual. Learning off dates, locations, science and maths theories and measurements is impossible. So I soon decide that I am just stupid, and that I will not put in much effort anymore. Because when I try, I don’t get it right anyway.

dyspraxia

Growing up, I do believe I showed the symptoms of Dyspraxia quite early on. I struggled with putting my shoes on the right feet. I struggled with my lefts and rights. I struggled with anything mathematical. I struggled with time-keeping, with paying attention. I struggled with schoolwork. I struggled with walking in a straight line! Thinking I was just being clumsy, my friends and family would tease me. But I genuinely had to consciously think about walking in a straight line. It did not come naturally to me. I was not “clumsy”. I was not “lazy”. I firmly believe that I, and countless other forgotten children, had a learning disability, and that sadly, nobody ever thought to diagnose me, and get me the learning support that I badly needed.

I, like countless other children with an un-diagnosed learning disability, were labelled as lazy, clumsy and distractible by authority figures. I, like countless other children, was allowed to mature feeling that I was just plainly stupid. Why? Well, now as a grown adult, I can pinpoint several reasons as to why I was never diagnosed and properly helped throughout my schooling years. These reasons are possibilities, from my perspective. They are not firmly factual.

The first reason is the time and the location of my schooling. I grew up and went through public school from 1998 to 2010. I went to school in rural Ireland. I believe that during this period, there was not the same level of awareness about learning disabilities as there is today. Growing up in a rural area emphasized this.

The second reason is my gender. Because boys are more likely to have dyspraxia, girls often go un-diagnosed. It is more common for teachers and parents to recognize symptoms of dyspraxia in male children; because that’s the “norm”. If girls show the symptoms, they can often slide through the cracks and simply be labelled as “clumsy” and “lazy”. There are also gender norms at play, which lead adults to believe that female children are naturally tidier, better presented and more organised than their male classmates.

The third reason is my personality. I was an extremely shy child. I did not socialize much. I did not speak out of turn. I never showed challenging behaviour in the classroom. I was hyperactive with family; but in school, I was cripplingly quiet and had anxiety about public speaking. A child like this is more likely to slip through the cracks. If a child does not “beg” for attention, a child may not receive the attention he or she requires.

The fourth reason is my severity. I did struggle with all of these things as a child; but perhaps they were not all too prominent for teachers to notice. Perhaps in those days, the fact that I was good at writing and reading English lead teachers to believe that I did not have a learning disability. Perhaps, because the likes of dyslexia is much better known in education, teachers may subconsciously monitor this area of learning moreso than others.

So, do I have dyspraxia, or don’t I? The simple answer is, that I do not know. I was never officially diagnosed with having this learning disability. I did however, at the remarkably late age of 17, receive an assessment from an educational psychologist (who, frankly, had terrible communication skills, spoke down to me, undermined me and lowered my self confidence even further).

The psychologist surmised that I had dyscalculia, and on his report, noted that my spacial awareness was far below the average. He did not, however, diagnose me with having dyspraxia. The only reason this examination was encouraged was because I was failing Leaving Cert Maths, and with an official diagnoses, a separate exam centre could be requested on my behalf. I did get the separate exam centre; but a diagnoses as a young adult which granted me a support as minute as a private exam centre was less than sufficient.

Since finishing school and progressing to third level, I thankfully have not experienced a tonne of challenging dyspraxia symptoms, so in my adult years thus far, I have put the whole dilemma to the back of my mind. This was until very recently, when I began working as a care worker in a nursing home. As you can imagine, this role requires a high level of assisting with dressing residents. And doing so is hard for me, because although I can now dress myself without difficulty, dressing others brings me back to the very dark place I was in as a child struggling to dress myself.

The old symptoms are back… which shoe goes on which foot? How do you put on a sock so it’s on the right way? How do I figure out these buttons, these shoelaces? I have to stop and consciously think before putting somebody’s shirt on over their head, as to how to put it on in a way which is comfortable. And, of course, which is the right way around. And I still accidentally put shirts on the wrong way around, and then fix it. And this is really really difficult.

I have surmised that I do have dyspraxia. The symptoms which have greatly hurt and frustrated me in my life, would indicate that I have a learning disability of sorts. Changing bedclothes is still terribly hard for me, which luckily for me, is also required in my current job. Only it takes me much longer than my colleagues to master the seemingly simple task.

So yes, maybe I am “stupid”, “lazy” or “unfocused”. Or maybe, society has made me feel that way, because of how narrow-minded people can be.

I have often been ridiculed for not knowing how to read a map, understand directions, giving people the wrong directions, and not being able to differentiate between my right and left unless I am physically standing at a junction. I can’t do so from sheer memory alone. Yes, people who tease me do not know that my brain works differently. They think I am just being clumsy and feather-headed. Because this is the easier answer.

You can tease me for being different. But just know, that I am fully conscious, I am fully mentally capable of understanding that my brain works differently to yours. But also, please know that this does not make me any less of a person to you. I have a learning disability, and I did not choose that. But I have adapted to it. And that’s more than lots of people have done in this world…

dyspraxia 2

I’m the black sheep, and I’m OK with it

Ah, the notorious black sheep. The outsider, the odd one out, the third wheel; whatever you want to call it.

I feel that being the black sheep of ones’ family can often be perceived as a terrible thing; that you don’t have a good relationship with your family, that you don’t want one, and you’re just “too different to work”.

black sheep

But, I’ve come to the revelation that being the black sheep doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Firstly, I do firmly believe that the majority of families have black sheep. But, there is a sliding scale of black sheep. On the bottom, you have the cuckoo, estranged black sheep whom everyone can conclude is unhinged in some way. On the top, you have a black sheep whose only contrasting trait could be something as trivial as different likes and dislikes. And then there’s somewhere in the middle; where I, and many black sheep, lie.

I come from a very close family. Over the years we’ve shared everything with one another. We support each other, we try not to judge one another, and most importantly, we all love each other. Sadly though, over the years, I’ve realised that not all families are quite as fortunate as us Kellehers.

family meme

 

I have a loving mother and father, a younger brother and an older sister. That’s right; I’m the middle child *gasp*. And truthfully, although it has become somewhat of a satirical stereotype, I can tell you that there are problems associated with being the middle child.

I think that for me, having an older sister meant that I was unfortunately compared to her quite frequently in childhood in terms of progression, achievements, interests and personality. I dealt with this just fine as a child; it was never completely over the top, but it did exist in my upbringing. On the other side of this, my younger brother, being the “only boy”, was often seen as a unique entity from my perspective. As the three of us grew up, my brother and I shared similar talents and attributes; most notably, my brother and I loved to write stories and “novels” from a young age, but I sadly felt in my brother’s shadow.

My brother was much more confident and upfront about his writing abilities; whereas I, for some reason, felt shy and secretive about mine. My brother was proud of his writing and happily exclaimed to others his desire to become a novelist when he grew up. I strongly admire my brother’s childhood confidence, and am not trying to undermine him and his strong abilities as a child. However, to sum up, I felt throughout my upbringing as the middle child that I was simultaneously in my older sister’s shadow and my younger brothers’.

middle chid

 

As children, my siblings and I weren’t noticeably different to one another. The three of us were actually incredibly similar. However, as we grew into our teenage years, and our personalities began to progress, it became evident from my perspective that I was quite different to my siblings in a lot of ways.

This is by no means any shade on my siblings. I truthfully adore the two of them with my whole heart. My brother and my sister began to develop the same ideologies, ways of thinking, interest in arts and personality traits as the three of us grew up. At this point, I did not even consider the possibility of being a “black sheep”.

However, as the three of us further developed into young adulthood, it became apparent to me that my siblings not only shared extremely similar viewpoints on things, but they also responded very similarly to distress, and in times of discomfort, my brother and sister tended to come to the same or a similar conclusion.

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My brother and sister, now as grown adults in their twenties, are remarkably similar individuals. Not only do they look alike; they think alike. I find a new similarity between the two of them almost on a daily basis. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I believe that these similarities are entirely transparent. I do not see them as pretentious. I genuinely do believe that my siblings are just, by nature and/or nurture, extremely alike.

I’ve realised in recent years that I am different. But more importantly, I’ve realised that this is a good thing. I am quite happy to be my authentic self whenever I can; and if that’s “different”, I am happy to embrace it.

So yes, I am a black sheep of sorts. If my siblings and I express our opinions about a situation, my brother and sister will almost always express the same or similar beliefs. I, however, tend to think in a different way.

I am not only a black sheep in my family; but I’ve come to the conclusion that I may in fact be a black sheep of society. I find more and more over the years that I’m on a different wavelength to my colleagues and peers in many regards. And truthfully, I think that is largely due to the fact that I am naturally such a daydreamer.

But, I will no longer feel bad about being different. And, I have decided instead to embrace it.

Being the “black sheep” can, and does, of course lead to various trials and tribulations at times. But, what’s the alternative? Try to fit in? Become agreeable just for the sake of it? For me, I have no interest in that anymore.

To fellow black sheep, you’re perfect the way you are. You don’t have to be the same as your family. That’s the beauty of humankind; we are all different. And in some regards, we are all black sheep.

Is not dating a trans person transphobic?

It’s come to my awareness that in this modern world, there are many otherwise open-minded and compassionate individuals who do not understand or stereotype the transgender community. There have been occasions where I’ve heard friends and acquaintances refer to the transgender community as “hermaphrodite”, “trannie“, “gay” or “someone who had a sex change”. To be clear, in the vast majority of circumstances, these comments have not had any callous intent. From my perspective, these comments are the result of fetishisation from the porn industry, misinformation about the trans community spread through the media and/or an inherent physiological need to identify people as either male or female. In fact, I really do think that many people in this modern world cannot wrap their heads around the sheer idea of being transgender.

trans

And really, I understand how the vast majority of the public cannot understand the idea of being transgender. We’ve seen the exact same reaction when it came to the gay community, women in the workforce and black people living among white people in our history. History has shown us that human beings, when faced with an alien situation or concept, are quite literally fearful of it. Subconsciously, we think to ourselves that men are the polar opposite to women. The media has reinforced this with the idea that men and women have certain personality traits, ambitions and responsibilities.

For instance, I have lost count of the amount of cis-gendered men and women alike who have made the generalised statement that “women aren’t funny”, and refuse to give female comedians a chance because of this. But really, if we think about it, how could half the Earth’s population be born unfunny? Making jokes and making people laugh is something that most of us have done at some point or another. When people make this statement, I truly believe it comes from our subconsciousness telling us to reject and be fearful of an alien concept or situation. Men have always and continue to dominate the comedy genre, so when we are faced with a female attempting to do the same, our reaction is almost defensive and fearful that the norm could possibly be compromised.

women funny

What we see now with the transgender community is the same we saw with the gay and lesbian communities of our past. I’m not denying that homophobia is still prevalent in society, but in the past twenty years we have made leaps and bounds. The taboo that once existed has nearly disappeared.

I can admit that I haven’t had a close friendship with a person who I was aware was transgender in my entire life. I have met trans people, but that’s it. There has been no particular reason for this. Truthfully it’s understandable that a trans person might not disclose the fact that they are transgender with people they barely know. I’m sure this is especially true in Ireland, specifically so in my very small rural hometown.

However, I have been watching and keeping up to date with YouTube vloggers since I was about 17 now. I have watched several transgender vloggers and YouTube documentaries discussing and exploring transgender issues. I have also taken it upon myself to watch a myriad of documentaries following the lives of transgender people.

Educating myself on the transgender community has broadened my mind, and truthfully I at one point knew nothing about the transgender community also. My teenage self may well have used terms such as “trannie”, “transvestite” or “hermaphrodite”. This is what happens when you know nothing about a community.

ignorance

In the past few years, many of the transgender or cis-gendered allies I’ve kept up to date with through social media, have referred to the disinterest in dating a transgender individual as transphobic.

When I initially stumbled upon this idea, I agreed. I thought to myself that refusing to date a transgender person was also a stem of an ignorant and close-minded society. But upon further reflection, I think that the summary “transphobic” may be an over simplification. Let’s look at some reasons why a cis-gendered person may be disinterested in dating a trans person.

1. Reproduction

Many of us desire to reproduce and have a family. Although there are clearly alternatives to the traditional route, including artificial insemination, adoption and surrogacy, many of us would still ideally prefer to reproduce the old fashioned way. I cannot explain why this is the case; but I can assume it is linked to animalistic instincts and the innate desire to pass on our genetics.

Transgender people, unfortunately, can no longer reproduce post-operation the natural way. This means that if a cis-gendered person settles down with a transgender person and both wish to start a family, they will have to go down alternative, often very expensive means to do so. Many of us cannot even contemplate the idea of forking out thousands and thousands for reproductive treatment. Many people work for low to mid wage salaries and do not even have the means to do so if desired.

Personally, I think this is a valid concern for people in not wanting to date and settle down with a transgender person.

2. Masculine and feminine traits 

Many men have expressed attraction to younger women with hourglass figures. Many women have expressed attraction to men with body and facial hair or a muscular physique.

While most transgender people will take hormone treatment, obtain breast surgery and even undergo facial surgery to appear more masculine/feminine, many cis-gendered individuals seek out naturally occurring secondary masculine or feminine traits in finding a mate. Some people even find the idea of cosmetic surgery a turn-off in a romantic partner.

We must understand that these attractions are not inherently transphobic; but are linked to our animalistic instincts and turn-ons.

3. Social pressure and mental illness

Whether we like it or not, we all care to an extent what our friends and family members think of us and our lifestyles. We all fear social ridicule for being different. Many cis-gendered individuals are scared of what people will think if they date a transgender person. I am not one of these people; but I do know that these concerns exist for many.

The transgender community are also more prone to developing mental illness than cis-gendered people. This is due to a systematic ignorance and intolerance of the transgender community. Is it any wonder that transgender people may feel vulnerable, ridiculed or less than for just being themselves? The fact that the transgender community are more prone to developing mental illness is no fault of their own; but the fault of our intolerant society. However, for a cis-gendered individual who has had no history of mental illness, the thought of dating a person who has mental illness or is predisposed to it may be an intimidating concept.

transgender 6

I will never tolerate offensive remarks, hate crime and social exclusion of the transgender community. I will not tolerate or engage in transphobic behaviour from anybody, even people I barely know. However, I do genuinely think that the blanket statement of not dating a transgender person is transphobic is over simplified and does not take into account the factors I have just mentioned.

I think for many people, although they go into the dating scene seeking out a cis-gendered individual who can naturally reproduce, they may at times be surprised with who they fall in love with. Anybody could unexpectedly fall in love with a person who just so happens to be transgender, and the previously mentioned factors just wouldn’t hold weight anymore.

However, this is a very complex issue, and one I am sure I have yet to learn a lot more about. From my perspective now though, I think the above mentioned factors are valid in not actively pursuing a transgender person to settle down with.

However, if a cis-gendered individual has no desire to reproduce, has no issue with hormone therapy or cosmetic surgery etc, I think there can be transphobic reasons for refusing to date a transgender person. If you truly will refuse to date a transgender person for no other reason than the fact they are transgender, I do think that this is transphobic.

We must consider these factors though, for the rest of the cis-gendered population.

If you are transgender, I love you. I accept you. I respect you. And if you are a single transgender person, someone will most definitely love and respect you for exactly who you are. Don’t settle, and don’t allow yourself to be disrespected or fetishised.

 

Is this all there is?

Whenever I’ve declared to loved ones that I believe I’m going through a quarter-life crisis, they chuckle. They think it’s a joke. And really, I don’t particularly blame them. You see, our media has portrayed twenty-somethings to be carefree and blissfully youthful, with “their whole lives ahead of them”, so what could they/we possibly have to worry about?

young 1

The thing is though, I don’t think I have ever felt carefree and youthful; particularly not once my twenties started. With my twenties came more stress, more responsibility and more pressure. There is not only an overwhelming pressure for young people today to go to college and qualify in a particular discipline, there is also the addition of social media to ensure we always compare ourselves to our friends.

I know it’s inevitable at this point that older generations may be thinking But young people have so many opportunities nowadays! Gone are the days of fighting for your rights! The world is a sea of possibilities for young people today! And yes, I do get that. I really do.

For instance, if I was born as a woman in a different time, I likely would have birthed 4+ children by now and be chained to the kitchen sink, with no access to a blog, and most likely I wouldn’t have directly chosen this life. I probably wouldn’t have had any access to education, at least past primary school level, and a rewarding career was most definitely out of the realm of possibility.

I have complete and utter respect and adoration for the women of the past. I really do. They birthed children, cared for them, managed the home, cooked, cleaned, nurtured their husbands, and in a lot of circumstances, were rarely even acknowledged for doing so. It was merely a cultural expectation that that is what you did as a woman. There was no choice involved. That was the only path for a lower class woman in the past. But, were they happy? Quite simply, I cannot answer that. I cannot speak for the women of the past. But I can only assume that if they were happy, it was merely that they never had the opportunity to know anything different.

My point is, ones happiness is hugely dependent on ones circumstances. Nowadays, us millennials have been brought up to aspire to greatness. I recall that as a child, it was merely assumed that we would all finish secondary school and progress to third level education, become an academic of sorts, and achieve this mystical greatness. 

In fact, I cannot recall one instance from either my primary or secondary education in which a teacher made any insinuation that us (the future generation) could achieve greatness through a trade, through a retail job or through being a homemaker. It was merely assumed that we would become professionals and achieve GREATNESS.

And through this upbringing, we began to believe that once we were adults, we would be fulfilled and free and well-off. And yes, maybe us millennials became entitled as a consequence to this. Through our upbringing, we were taught that we were special and important and by merely being qualified and having the patience to study at third level for 3/4 years, this magical greatness would embrace us. We wouldn’t embrace it, but it would come running after us because we were that important.

businessman

The thing is though, by the time we reached that level, of finishing college with honours, there was no greatness to be had. I distinctly recall in Ireland when the R word hit the media like an incurable virus; Recession. It meant that before I even finished secondary school, I knew that my home country was in a terrible state. At one point, you couldn’t turn on the news or open a newspaper without a mention of this DREADED RECESSION.

But still, we were urged socially to finish college and achieve greatness. And if we didn’t achieve greatness, well that was just our fault for being entitled and unwilling to work from the bottom and go the extra mile; which apparently are traits that us millennials are severely lacking.

So, why are millennials so entitled and unwilling to succeed? Is it really as black and white as that? As a millennial, I say no. I was brought up to believe that I would instantly achieve this wondrous greatness upon reaching adulthood. I was brought up to expect greatness and fulfillment. was brought up to expect more. And yes, maybe was brought up to be somewhat entitled.

Admittedly, obtaining a degree in something as obscure as TV and Media Production was probably not my most sensible decision. Perhaps naively, I chose to follow my dreams because at the back of my mind, I thought doing so would ensure greatness.

Unfortunately, it has been three years since I graduated from college and as of yet, I have not secured greatness professionally speaking. To date, I have completed a 9-month internship for a community radio station, have worked in a banking call centre, and have worked in IT. Admittedly, I am proud that I have sustained employment for the most part. However, it has not exactly been the employment I was raised to aspire to.

college meme

 

I’m going to be completely honest here. I feel disappointed in myself. I feel disappointed that I have not achieved the greatness that I was taught to aspire to. I feel disappointed that at 25 years of age, I’m not fulfilled. I’m not happy. I don’t feel young and carefree. I feel lost and as though life is something happening to me; not something I determinedly and shamelessly embrace.

I have to ask at this point… Is this all there is? Is adult life really this hard? Is adult life really about typing ones days away in the office and budgeting ones earnings to pay for your bills and rent? If so, do I really even want to be an adult? I genuinely don’t think so.

But again, I have to ask the question… Am I only feeling this way because I’m an entitled  millennial?

Have I been raised to have impossibly high standards for myself? Have I been brought up to think that I am entitled to greatness?

Truthfully, as a non-psychiatrist, I cannot really answer that question. But I can, as a millennial, make the educated presumption that my upbringing has taught me that I am special and deserving of the best of the best.

I do think that there is an unbelievable pressure on young people today. Both professionally and socially, we are constantly being compared to one another and called entitled and delusional.

Maybe this is true. But is it our fault? I don’t think so. I actually think that our older mentors; teachers, professors and parents, have attempted to make us millennials more successful than they perhaps ever had the opportunity to become.

Is this all there is? Sadly, yes. Adulthood is adulthood; regardless of if you’re a millennial or not.

The Republic of Ireland is NOT Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland is Munster.

face palm

So, I moved to Cambridge in the UK from Ireland in early 2018. To clarify, I’m a born and bred Irish woah-man. I was raised between Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon and courageously fled further afield to Carlow for my studies, then to Co. Cork for work and to Co. Kilkenny, too (please note my sarcasm, this was not courageous, this is a thing boggers do to work. Note: boggers are people from the cionthrayyy!)

So anywho, wanting a change and more employment opportunities and to experience life outside of the Emerald Isle, I packed up and moved to the UK. My name is Aisling (or Dream, if you ask Google Translate). For the non-Irish folk, it’s pronounced “Ash-ling”. Lots of British people rightfully presumed it was Ace-ling. I don’t have a problem with this at all, because logically that’s what one would assume if they’re not familiar with the name. Like, if you asked a non-native English speaker to pronounce “photographer”, they might struggle too.

However, I did soon find myself becoming embarrassed by my name. I can’t quite explain why, or even pinpoint the exact moment it happened for me. But rather quickly, I started introducing myself as Ash to Brits (for Irish folk, you’ll know this is a common abbreviation, but still not my actual name).

I soon found myself repeating and explaining my name to British people. Without thinking, I would start defensively babbling “Oh, it’s an Irish name. It’s an Irish word. It means Dream.” It was like I was trying to sell my “foreign name” to the United Kingdom. It was almost apologetic, pathetic even… Please accept me! Please love me! Please take me as one of your own! 

It suddenly dawned on me that I too have been ignorant about foreign names back in Ireland. I used to work in a call centre (which was by far the best job I’ve ever had) and I used to grimace whenever I saw a non-national customer’s name on my screen. What should I call him? Maybe I should just stick to “Sir”?! And what if he can barely speak English?!

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Now, to be clear, I’m not by any stretch of the imagination comparing the life of an Irish person living in the UK to the life of an emigrant who has a completely different culture and has to learn the native tongue from scratch. I completely appreciate this is ten times more difficult for the Irish in the UK. I am simply stating that being different, being from a different nation, can be embarrassing. It can be uncomfortable, isolating even. In a sense, you’ll always be an outsider.

It is worth mentioning though that many British people have told me how much they love Ireland. They see the West of Ireland, in particular, as a leafy-green landscape of crystal-clear oceans and peaceful solitude. “It’s so beautiful!” they’ll exclaim, before (normally) telling me they have Irish descent.

However, I have also noticed an ignorance about Ireland from British people. After contemplating for a while, I understand it. I really do. If you think about it, Irish people are exposed to British media so much more than British people are exposed to Irish media.

And that comes to my next point, and the motivation really to write this blog… Southern. Ireland. is. not. a. country.

I’ve come to the realisation that many British people distinguish the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland by claiming one is the North and one is the South. Irish people don’t ever refer to the Republic as Southern Ireland, because quite frankly, it is not Southern Ireland. It is simply Ireland. It is its own independent country. It is its own independent culture, currency, economy and laws.

I’ve also come to the realisation that many British people do not see Northern Ireland as associated with them… when it is literally part of the United Kingdom!

So, for Northern Irish people (and I can only assume this), Irish people don’t see them as theirs, and nor do British people. Where does that leave them, culturally speaking?

In Ireland, Southern Ireland refers to Munster. The part of the island in the south of the Republic. I wonder if British people would be fond of Irish people referring to their land as Western Ireland? I’d assume they wouldn’t be too keen on that terminology.

I’ve also discovered that many British people are completely unaware of the fact they dominated and owned Ireland for so long. I’ve even spoken to British people who didn’t even know Irish was a language, and that we only speak English because of Britain’s control.

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Don’t worry. I’m not one of those people who think a nation of people should feel guilty or responsible in some way for their ancestor’s actions. I just think that as there is such a strong link between Ireland and the UK, and there always has been, surely some knowledge of each other can only be a good thing?

Of course there are probably plenty of Irish people, too, who know next to nothing about the UK. This isn’t right either. Why don’t we settle our grudges, and learn from each other?

To my British buddies, is mise le meas!

 

 

 

 

Scary Movie is a sexist and racist mess

Earlier today, I found myself browsing through Netflix and stumbled across Scary Movie, the 2000 “comedy” parodying teenage slasher and horror flicks. I’d seen the movie years ago, but was too young to understand the jokes and horror references. Now, as a 23 year old, I was less than pleased.

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The movie pokes fun at Scream and I know what you did last Summer, at the expense of young women and black people.

Marlon Wayans portrays Shorty Meeks, a black, stoner teenager who has a juvenile sense of humour and is stoned for most of the movie. Stereotype #1: black guy is a waster who contributes nothing to society.

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Anna Faris portrays Cindy Campbell, a somewhat clueless teenage girl whose boyfriend keeps pressuring her to have sex. Stereotype #2: teenage girl holds virginity as “precious” and “valuable”.

Throughout the movie, her boyfriend (Jon Abrahams as Bobby Loomis) persistently pressures her, mainly to perform oral sex on him. While the group of teenagers are driving together, their mutual friend (Lochlyn Munro as Greg Cox) stands up from the back of the car outside the ceiling window. Meanwhile, Bobby takes his penis out in the driver seat and tries to convince Cindy to go near it. While Greg is hanging out of the car, he steps on Cindy and forces her head down on top of Bobby’s dick. Bobby eggs Cindy on while she is essentially forced into his lap. This – the lack of consent and objectification of women – is seen as a “joke”.

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Later on in the movie, Cindy finally “gives in” and has sex with Bobby. During foreplay, Bobby keeps pushing Cindy’s head down to his crotch, again trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.

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On top of that, Greg frequently assaults Cindy throughout the movie. He beats her up out of anger, or to demonstrate a point.

So, what have we learned? That Scary Movie makes a satire out of sexual consent and domestic violence against women.

The white men remain characters in their own right, and are not stereotyped as a group in society.

I know, I know. It’s “comedy”, and “a satire”. But, at this expense? Satire is based on truth, on real life. Comedy that makes fun of sensitive issues such as these, in my opinion, is comedy in bad taste.