The struggles of being female part three.

There are some very real struggles that come with being female. I’ve written two posts about this in the past, and I’ve been feeling the struggle this week so I was motivated to add more to the list.

This was meant to be both satirical and serious, but the majority of them ended up being more serious than satirical. Either way, these are some very real struggles that come with being female.

  1. When women are mean to other women. This drives me crazy, and I really hope I’m not the only one to feel this way. I’m of the belief that, as females, we should be bringing each other up, not tearing each other down. Empowerment, that’s what the world needs more of.
  2. Crop tops. I hope I’m not alone in this. As a 30 year old female, I am passed the stage in my life in which I would like to be wearing half-a-shirt. Crop tops seem to be having ‘a minute’ right now, and they’re all I seem to find in every store that I go. What drives me even crazier about crop tops is that they’re essentially half of a shirt, and they seem to cost twice as much as the equivalent in the men’s section. While in a store called ‘Journeys’ the other day, a men’s Champion brand hoodie was $40. A women’s cropped champion hoodie (half a hoodie) was $86. How does that make any sense? I want a full shirt.
  3. Double standards. If a man sleeps with a lot of women, he’s seen as a ‘hero’ so to speak. If a woman sleeps with a lot of men, she’s treated as though she’s a whore. If a man marries a younger woman, he’s again seen as a ‘hero’ for landing a younger woman. If a woman marries a younger man, she’s seen as taking advantage, or gross, or any one of the mecca of negativity society places on her. Why is it right for men and wrong for women? Look at how women are reacting to the Priyanka Chopra/Nick Jonas marriage. Why do so many people take such issue with it? Why does it matter?
  4. Employers/potential employers asking inappropriate questions that are none of their business. Three days ago, I made the mistake of answering the phone for an unknown number and it was the CEO of a company that I’d applied for a position with. Over the course of the forty minutes that we spoke, I proclaimed that I was wanting to relocate to be closer to my boyfriend. He then decided it was an appropriate question to ask me when I plan on having children. I can’t even begin to explain the ways in which that is inappropriate, uncalled for and none of his damn business. I don’t think he appreciated my answer, and I think he knew he pissed me off. Though we spoke of the prospect of me coming for an interview, I have yet to hear anything from him since. Which is fine. If that’s how an employer operates, I likely don’t want to work there anyway.
  5. ‘Don’t be so emotional’. Firstly, I take issue with this statement being thrown at women because of the fact that it paints the subject of being emotional as being a negative trait. There’s nothing wrong with being in touch with your emotions. Women, females, girls alike are kind, caring and giving. And being emotional helps contribute to that kindness and caring that we give to the world. Secondly, I take issue with this statement being thrown at women because it contributes to the culture of toxic-masculinity that instills a belief in men they’re not allowed to be emotional. Being emotional is not a negative thing.
  6. Why is makeup and skincare so darn expensive? I love collecting makeup, I really do. I love dolling myself up, I love trying different types of skincare and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It seems ridiculous to me that we’re in a time where a Drugstore Foundation costs $20.99 and Sephora Foundations can cost $200. Economically speaking, there’s no need for the markups on these products to be so high. Companies are taking advantage of us because they know they can.
  7. Walking alone after dark can be really scary. It is. If you’re a female and you’ve ever had to do this, on a creepy street, on a dark street, right downtown the city, you likely know what it’s like to walk with your keys in your knuckles, or to call someone while you’re walking just so that you have someone to talk you through your walk. You know what it’s like to want to park as close to the door as possible, or under the nearest streetlamp so that it’s not as dark. It’s not that I’m overly fearful of the world, it’s just that if you take the proper precautionary steps, you can avoid running into bad situations.
  8. Fake pockets in women’s pants. This one makes me so ragey! I want my pockets. Why you gotta play me like this? I have things I need to carry. Why are so many women’s pants made to look as though they have pockets when they really don’t?
  9. Trying to understand what goes on inside the mind’s of men at any given moment in time. Because you can see the wheels spinning in their head, you ask them what’s up, what they’re thinking or how they’re feeling and you’re hit with ‘Not much, nothing and fine’. You know that’s not the full answer, but you can’t force them to tell you anything.

Read previous installments here:

9 Struggles that come with being a girl >

The Struggles of being a girl, part two >

Let’s talk about it.

I remember where I was standing the day that I got the call. A grossly uncommon occurrence, my phone was ringing, the caller ID displaying my friend’s husband. In the twelve years they’ve been married, I can count on two fingers the times he’s phoned me. This being one of them.

My friend was in the hospital. She’d swallowed a half-bottle of pills, drank a bottle of wine, slit her wrists and laid down in the bath tub to wait to die.

It was July 1st, Canada Day (three years ago). There were fireworks going off in the background as I heard him explaining to me what had happened. And, as sad as it sounds, this was my first time hearing that she even suffered from depression. She’d never told me and I had never asked.

Lesson learned.

I hopped on the plane 24 hours later and went to see her. With guilt in my gut and sadness in my heart, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

She spent almost three months in the hospital. Seeing her there, barely there, heavily medicated, being watched like a hawk to ensure she didn’t try to hurt herself again, that was hard on me. And if it was hard on me, I can’t imagine how hard it was on her.

Over the next three months, during the periods of time in which she got access to her phone, I learned the extent to which she’d been suffering. I also learned the extent to which she was still suffering as the doctors mixed and matched medications to help her feel better, and the side effects they came with.

If you don’t ask, you just never know. The problem with never asking is that you don’t think about it. And you need to think about it. It’s not pleasant. It’s not happy, but it needs to be talked about.

I carry around a lot of guilt over not knowing how much my friend was suffering. And the stupid thing is, I know it’s not about me. It’s really not. It’s about her. I owed it to her to check on her. I owed it to her to be an ear for her to talk to. And I wasn’t there.

Never again.

Let’s talk about it.

Seriously.

When I ask you what’s wrong, I want you to be truthful with me. No matter how awful, no matter how dark, I want to know.

Being able to take those deep, dark, depressing thoughts from the far corners of your brain and let them out into the universe, it helps. I’m not saying that it solves everything, but it definitely helps. And people who are suffering, they need peace… no matter how small of a dose it comes in.

If you know me, you know that I’m the type of person (now) who’ll ask how you’re doing… one, two, three… maybe even four times. That’s on purpose. I want to know how you’re doing. There’s no motive behind it. I just want the truth. Life ain’t always pretty… and it need not be painted that way. I want the people in my life to know that I’m the person you don’t always have to be happy towards.

Sometimes you just need to have an angry phone call where all that you talk about is the things that suck, depress you or piss you off.

Sometimes, you really just need someone to listen.

I want to be that person who people know will listen. I want more people to be that person who people know will listen to them. I want more people to be that person that you know will listen to you.

The way I see it, we could all do a little better with ourselves and others if we just listened.

Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk with the people we love about everything. Not jut the positives, but all of the negatives. Because peace of mind is important, no matter how small the dose.

One of the most accurate descriptions of love that I’ve ever read.

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

Bob Marley

On body positivity.

I want to talk about a sticky subject for a moment, so I’ll try to keep it brief.

Body positivity is about respect. It’s not about what you believe is attractive or what you view as healthy. Body positivity is about respecting that beneath that outer layer we all show to the world, we’re all human. There are no exceptions.

Body positivity is about the belief that all bodies are a work of art. Why? Because our bodies protect us, help us and are the reason we’re all able to get around and do ANYTHING at all. Whether you’re skinny or not, tall or short, have knobby knees or dangly arms (or no arms), scars are scrapes, or any of the mecca of things that pepole can be/are insecure about, body positivity is a respect for yourself and for all humans.

It has NOTHING to do with what you view as attractive.

Body positivity is integral to happiness, both your own and others. Respecting yourself for you who are will help you to love yourself for exactly who you are. And let me tell you, you are fucking amazing. See it, believe it and know it. And pass that respect on to other’s as well. Because as much as we like to tell ourselves the opinions of other’s don’t matter, they do. So let them know they’re fucking amazing. Because body positivity can make a world of difference to one’s self-esteem.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Hey Self,

I know you’ve been a little down lately. I know you’re struggling. I know that things really don’t seem like they’re ever going to turn around for the better. Please here me when I say this: KEEP GOING.

Please, keep going.

There will come a time when this will all be a distant memory. There will come a time when you smile because you want to, not because you have to. Most importantly, there will come a time when you are happy, again. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but trust me when I say this, you will be happy again.

When you feel sad, remember that the sun always shines after the rain… even in Vancouver. When you don’t want to go out in public, force yourself to. Being around people is good for you. And when people annoy you, practice patience. Why? Because no one is perfect, and there are presently people in this world practicing their patience on you.

Don’t be wary of the people who want to help. Whether they love you, they have a saviors complex, or just want a project, an offer of help is an offer of help. Appreciate the offer for what it is. Also, please don’t alienate yourself from people who do not understand. If they’ve never been through it, it may be hard for them to understand, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. Education is far more important than alienation. If you can help even one person to understand it, that’s one more person to have in your corner.

Look after yourself. Don’t ever be afraid to treat yourself. Make decisions that are going to benefit you, make you smile or contribute to your happiness. You deserve it. You deserve the whole world… and then some. So please don’t let your brain tell you otherwise.

Cry. Cry when you want to. Whenever you want to. Tears are not a bad thing. Far from it. So don’t ever be afraid to shed tears if you need to.

Speaking of your brain, please don’t ever let it win. I know it’s hard. Sometimes it can feel as though the negativity is all you can see, but trust me, there is good in there. Your brain does not control you, and it does not define you. Your choices define you. Make the choice to not let your brain win.

Exercise is important. Integral… to your well being. When all you want to do is lay in bed and hide from the world, tell yourself that 30 minutes is enough to make a difference. Because 30 minutes is enough to make a difference. You’ve got this. So do this.

Lastly, be yourself. Who you are is enough. Who you are is fucking amazing. Remind yourself that you are a warrior and that you can get through anything. One day, when this is all a distant memory, you’ll look back on this time and realize how much strength you have, how much growth you’ve been through and all the crap you’re truly capable of getting through.

Love yourself.

Respect yourself.

Just keep going.

Sincerely, Me.

On ‘building your dream blog’.

Whether you’re using your blog as a platform for which to vent out the current frustrations of daily life, or, you imagine it a platform for people to come to and learn about the newest and greatest trends of the moment… whatever your reason for blogging, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to take the time to learn.

Learn about the website you’ve chosen to use for your blog. Learn about blogging trends. Learn how to create your best blog. Learn about analytics. Learn about search engine optimization. Learn about how best to phrase the thoughts in your mind so they make the most sense to someone who isn’t you. There’s so much to learn when it comes to blogging. This is an activity that, in my opinion, you should never stop trying to learn more about.

With so many blogs out there, often times it can be really easy to ask yourself ‘is there even room for me’? Yes. There is always room for you. Learning will allow you to better yourself and your blog. If you’ve been wondering about things to read or learn, here are a few tips that I have found very helpful to myself over the past couple of months (since I started my blog in January):

  1. Write for yourself first. This is integral when it comes to writing a successful blog. And, it also happens to be the step that will make you most happy. Trying to write what you think people want to read/see/hear will leave you unsatisfied and confused as to why you’re not achieving the growth you desire. Writing about what you want will help you to find an audience who loves and/or understands exactly what you do and how you feel.
  2. Be consistent. Consistency is one of the most important tools a blogger can use to their favour. Remind yourself that it’s much easier to lose traffic than it is to build it up, so, if you’re blogging, ensure you’re consistently blogging.
  3. Choose a simple layout. Think of it this way: if you’ve ever been to a website and thought that it was cluttered, not user friendly and had an ugly layout, remember that everyone has different opinions. What you like isn’t necessarily what anyone else likes. So, if you’re hoping to create a platform for which to appeal to the most amount of people possible, chose a simple design. Something that is simple is user friendly and far more likely to appeal to more eyes than a specific, more complicated design.
  4. Use catchy headlines. A catchy headline is the perfect amount of click-bait needed to get someone to read your article/post/entry, without actually lying to them about the content within it. (This is much easier to do if you write your blog post first and then choose your headline) The rules for creating a catchy headline are to keep it simple, powerful, useful and bold.
  5. Don’t cheat. I cannot stress this enough. In this day and age, it’s sooooooo damn easy to just talk to one of those ‘growth hacking’ firms that can provide you ‘x’ amount of followers for just a one time fee of $45.99. Please believe me when I say this… a small amount of real followers who follow you because they genuinely love your content and, hopefully you, are infinitely more valuable than any amount of followers that you could purchase.
  6. Give away your knowledge. If you’re a subject matter expert on a certain area, tell people. Give them the information that you have to give. Teach them things! People love to learn, and if someone wants to read, allow them the opportunity. Don’t hold in the good stuff for fear of giving away the ‘secret sauce’. The secret sauce is that blogging is free, and if you have the opportunity to teach someone something – teach them. If you’re a doctor, teach people about health and wellness and how to avoid illness. If you’re a librarian, teach people about books and the options that libraries can provide. Whatever you consider yourself a subject matter expert on, why not share that information and allow us to all be informed?
  7. Stay true to yourself. People don’t care to follow a site as much as they care to follow a person.
  8. Don’t demand attention. Earn it. Hopefully this is pretty self-explanatory. No one has to read your page. It’s not a requirement in anyone’s day. What can you do to make them want to read your page? Because you’re certainly not going to succeed if you try to force them to read it.
  9. Pick a side. If you’re wrong, don’t be afraid to admit to it. Your opinions are your own for a reason, so don’t be wishy-washy when you’re talking. Share your opinions, and be open to the opinions you get in return.
  10. Love the readers you already have. It can be really easy to get so focused on growth that you ignore the people who are already reading your blog. If you’ve got people who are reading your posts, time after time, let them know you’re appreciative of them. If you intend on growing your audience organically, show as much kindness to your readers as they are showing to you.
  11. Use proper tags. Tags are what allow your posts to be searchable, both on wordpress and on google. If you’re aiming to be searchable, having the proper tags associated with your posts can help immensely in drawing people to your page to read your posts. If you write a post about Anxiety, tag the post ‘Anxiety’, don’t tag the post ‘Follow me’.
  12. Give it time. Don’t forcus on the analytics… at least not right away. Successful blogging does not happen overnight. If you’re aiming to grow your audience organically, acknowledge the fact that it could take months, if not years to grow a readership that you might desire.

I think the most important thing you can do for yourself when blogging is to do it for yourself, first. Feed your soul. Let out your thoughts, sadness or desires. Make yourself happy. If you chase this as your passion, that passion will resonate. Do it for the right reasons.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Life after cancer.

Tonight, I am once again reminded why my mother has the biggest heart of anyone that I know.

Tomorrow is her (fingers crossed) last chemotherapy treatment. She’s been talking about it for weeks. And, though it’s been a pretty freaking miserable process for her the past few months, we were very lucky that her cancer was caught early, and that (fingers crossed) she’ll go into complete remission and we’ll never have to deal with cancer again.

Anyways, I digress.

After spending a few hours at Starbucks tonight, with a friend of mine, I returned home to find that my mother had gone to bed even earlier than usual. An hour earlier than normal. When I asked my dad if she was alright (being worried that she’d gone to bed so early) he said that she was tired from all of the baking she’d done.

What?

Oh yeah. My mom, with the help of my dad, baked lemon pie tarts for the staff of the cancer clinic. She plans to give them to all of the staff tomorrow when she goes in for her last treatment.

Atop the container filled with lemon tarts, she’d taped a note. The envelope says ‘Thank You’. Me, being the nosey daughter that I am, had to open it to read the note.

Here’s how it reads.

Thank You.

Thank you to each and every one of you [she names the staff members, doctors and nurses who’ve helped her the past few months] for helping me, for taking me on my worst day, at my lowest moment and making me feel better. Thank you for wiping away my tears, talking away my fears and for treating me as good, if not better, then you would treat your own family members.

It’s because of the incredible kindness of each of you hat I am here, that I have the opportunity for full recovery, that I get to be one of the lucky ones.

Thank you. It’s because of you that I’ve got a second chance. You’ve given me my life back, and I can’t stop thinking about all of the Christmas and Birthday celebrations that I’ll get to be a part of with my children and grandchildren now, thanks to you. Every moment, every celebration, it will matter that much more than it ever did before.

I am eternally grateful for all that you’ve done for me. And, I really hope that you take this a good way when I say that I hope I never have to visit here ever again.

Sincerely,

[Mom’s name]

I most definitely had an ‘I’m not crying, you’re crying’ moment when I read it. I resealed the envelope and taped it back to the container as to not let her know that anyone touched it.

Tomorrow is her final chemotherapy treatment (if all goes according to plan). I’m feeling grateful, and thankful that she now gets to start thinking about life after cancer. I know not everyone gets that lucky. And, from the note I read, it sounds like she’s already begun planning her life after cancer… which in itself makes me extremely happy.