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?

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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.

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My Past & Me

None of us are ever capable of really understanding the struggles of others.  Unless you’ve lived someone else’s life, you can’t judge.  So, no-one can judge anyone.  Especially if they don’t know the first thing about said person’s past.  It’s very easy to look at someone, see that they’re fun, funny, giggly & easy going, and decide that their life has been easy.  But, how do you know that for a fact?
I have always been a bit eccentric.  I laugh a lot, have a weird sense of humour & I have always struggled to make (and ultimately, keep) friends.  Friends, and acquaintances alike, see me as a happy person.  I do try to be happy, & I am happy a lot of the time.  But I firmly believe that happiness isn’t guaranteed, it’s something you have to work on for your whole life.
I grew up hating myself more than I could possibly explain.  I never did well in school, I never did well with friendships, and ultimately, I felt like the most physically ugly girl in all of the world.  As a child, I didn’t fit in.  I did my own thing.  I always had a great family life, though – & I still do today.  This was such a huge comfort to me as a child.
As I went into secondary school, my mental health became worse.  I hated being there, but I wasn’t the type of student to break the rules, be disruptive in class or even skip class the odd time.  I followed the rules, the routine, but I despised it.  Unfortunately, I had a few teachers throughout my second level education who, I feel, bullied me.  I can’t really use a different word, as bullied is so fitting.  They saw that I was under-confident & uninterested, and they played on it.  I dreaded some classes as I knew being publicly humiliated by my teacher was always a possibility.
In school, I hung out with whoever would be my friend.  I went through a lot of friends in secondary school, but none of them are still my friends today.  Unfortunately, I didn’t understand at the time that friends were meant to be kind & respectful to one another.  A lot of my friends spent most of the time taking the piss out of me and I was the butt of all jokes.  In hindsight, they weren’t really friends at all – but, at the time, I was convinced they were.
As secondary school came to a close, I was excited & happy I’d made it to the finishing line.  There was just one problem – I didn’t have the faintest idea what was next in The Aisling Kelleher Adventures.  I passed my exams, & my results were a bit under the average.  It was enough Leaving Cert points to study something, but not enough to study anything I really wanted to in third level.
I ended up in a PLC course an hour from home, in Print Journalism.  It was during this year that I had a mental breakdown.  It was partly due to an incident that happened at the time, but mainly to do with a lifetime of covered up depression, self-loathing and heartbreak from just being me.  The whole world around me crumbled.  I became suicidal – but, there was a flicker of hope inside of me.  I knew how to love, & who I loved, & I knew that people loved me.  My family.  How could I selfishly end my life, & destroy theirs in the process?  If it wasn’t for them, I dread to think what might’ve happened to me…
I spent the next few months in recovery.  I took anti-depressants, and moved back home where my parents took care of me.  I was self harming at the time – the guilt I still feel from this is overwhelming.  It is so painful to look into the eyes of a loved one, & to realise that your own self-loathing is actually causing their heart to break, too.
Those few months weren’t easy.  Sometimes, I spent the whole day in bed.  Sometimes, I found myself crying & I didn’t even know why.  Ultimately though, I found a new passion in photography, vlogging & all of the media.  I wanted to be a journalist, TV presenter/producer, or a photographer.
Every day was a struggle.  A struggle to not cut myself, a struggle to get out of bed, a struggle to do anything productive or worthwhile.  If it wasn’t for my family’s supervision & support, those everyday struggles would have been so much harder.
I fell into the same routine of making friends with people who treated me badly.  Again, I was the butt of all jokes.  I don’t fully know what happened though, but it was like one day I woke up, & I thought to myself that I don’t deserve this.  I deserve good people. I deserve good people. I deserve good people…  It suddenly made sense to me.  The reason that unkind people found me in the first place was because I sought them out.  My own insecurities and self-loathing wouldn’t allow good people to come into my life.  I needed to work on tearing down the wall that I had had up my whole entire life.  If I could do that, good people could become part of it.
I cut off contact permanently with emotionally abusive people, & I told myself that I’d rather be a loner in preference to spending time with them.
To this day, there are still people who see that I am not confident, & they play on it.  But I have something now that I didn’t have with the teachers & the abusive friends.  I have the ability to stand up for myself.  My main interest in this life is the interest of other people – the people I care for.  I would do anything to ensure their happiness.  But something they never tell you is that you also need to make yourself happy.  If you do not work on being happy, taking care of yourself to a certain degree, how can you ever show love & support to other people?
I am now twenty one years old, & I am trying to make my dreams come true every single day.  And you should, too.  Every day is a struggle to be happy.  There are times that all I want to do is go back to doing nothing, & living a meaningless, lazy & unmotivated lifestyle.  But when that happens, I need to look inside of my soul & find that strength, that push, that courage, to get back up after being knocked out, to love again after getting a broken heart.
There is no magic potion for happiness.  It is something you need to find yourself.  What makes you happy?
My past & me have a love/hate relationship.  I hate being reminded of Past, but I love how Past motivates me to have a better future.  What’s done is done.  Messes have been made, milk has been spilt, hearts have been broken & heads have been wrecked.  But every single day is a fresh new canvas we can all work on.  Every single day is a day that can never be repeated.  Today, I am going to try to be happy.  Are you?
 
 
 

Is Barbie REALLY distorting the body image for young girls?

It seems that we are constantly hearing shudders and disapproving tuts from parents and guardians alike, regarding the Barbie dolls their young girls play with.  I am sure that I am not the only one who has heard statements such as “Barbie makes little girls think that they have to look a certain way”, and “Barbie doesn’t represent a normal woman” being thrown around in the last number of years.  But, are these disapproving remarks actually truthful? Or, is this just an irrational concern?

When I was younger, I played with barbies. I liked to make them prance around the place, often in a somewhat ‘unladylike fashion’, contrary to their flawless, pretty appearance.  In fact, I spent very little time as a young girl concerning myself with what Barbie wore.  I can’t remember ever maintaining the dainty little shoes which came with her – they always became lost in some way or other.  Similarly, I spent little time brushing her hair.  I’d roughly scrape through her plastic dyed hair with a human sized brush, and scrape it back with one of my scrunchies.  My Barbies spent most of their time frolicking around the place like they were drunk out of their minds… no shoes, carelessly dressed, often going around with missing items of clothing, etc.  I gave my Barbies certain personalities.  I remember when I was small, I was not one of these young girls to play into ‘the princess Barbie’; I always found the sporty and sociable Barbie to be far more appealing.  I know that other girls are different, and they spend all of their time sitting in their pristine rooms, brushing Barbie’s hair, dressing her, and of course, maintaining every last one of her colourful dainty shoes.

Some little girls are interested in beauty, the colour pink and fashion – and others are not.  Whichever the case, I fail to see how playing with a Barbie doll can distort their body image.

Barbie was not the only toy we played with when we were young. There were plenty – Baby Born, toy cars, teddies, board games, remote control cars, or even ‘make-it-yourself’ sets (which were referred to as ‘makey-do sets’ in my house).  I cannot speak for the general nation of children, but in our house there was rarely gender distinguishing when it came to toys.  My siblings and I shared our toys.  I didn’t adapt an unrealistic body image from Barbie, just like I didn’t aspire to be a cowboy from playing with a Woody doll.

For the most part, I feel I can speak from experience, and say that toys do not put any pressure on children to become a certain person.  Similar concerns have been expressed regarding video games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’.  My simple response to this concern is that maniacs, murderers and rapists have been around for centuries.  I fail to see how a violent video game is going to encourage children to act violently.  Also, the game is only suitable for over 18 year olds — so maybe your child shouldn’t be playing it anyway if you do not want these concerns to become reality.

I can safely say that for me, a toy was always just a toy when I was young.  I was never under the impression that girls who looked like Barbie existed.  Perhaps ‘blonde bombshells’ did, but nonetheless they were human beings with non-animated faces and hair that wasn’t plastic. I also knew that Woody from Toy Story didn’t exist, and that race cars required a driver to move, not a hand.

Toys are there for children to create, to imagine, to have fun and to even express themselves.  So, my simple answer to the title of this blog is ‘no’, I don’t feel that Barbie distorts the body image of young girls.  Barbie is just a glorified piece of plastic, with round plastic boobs and plastic white-blonde hair.  Barbie was made out of plastic – just like Baby Born was, and just like remote control cars were.  I was never under the illusion that I would someday become a Barbie replica – and I never felt any of my other friends would either.  I was surrounded by real-life women, who were not made out of plastic and did not have permanent makeup tattooed onto their faces.  I always aspired to be like these women – I never aspired to look like Barbie, or act like her (considering her personality was somewhat bland.)

If anything, we need to concern ourselves with real-life women.  I do recall aspiring to be like Rachel Stevens from S Club 7, or Emma Bunton from The Spice Girls.  Rachel Stevens was awarded the title of ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ during my childhood; and Emma Bunton often wore very little clothes and behaved very promiscuously in music videos (although she was most probably playing the character of ‘Baby Spice’)

Are these really positive role models for young girls?  Both examples were sexualised in the media.  Barbie was also sexualised; but as I have stated, the difference is that Barbie is plastic. Perhaps we need to be concerning ourselves more with the unsuitable role models for young girls?

But for now, I don’t feel Barbie is putting on any pressure. And, if you think she is, just don’t buy her for your children. It seems pretty simple to me!

Thanks for reading 🙂