Sunday, 17 March 2019

Peer Pressure in Adulthood

Firstly, let me say that although the next paragraphs mention a hot topic of discussion, this post is NOT about the pro-life or pro-choice movements and I only mention the issue in order to examine a particular human trait.

I never hide my beliefs. If I stayed quiet rather than voicing my thoughts about something just for the sake that 'everyone is entitled to an opinion', I would in fact be going against my own belief. So in the midst of a furore about the topic of abortion a couple years back, my then editor invited me to write about my stance on a magazine that had mostly pro-choice authors. You may read the article here: Why I'll Never Be Pro Choice.

Given the current almost volcanic debate going on in my country (Malta) about the possible legalisation of abortion, I thought it was the right time to re-share my article which presents not a religious or hostile pro-life argument but rather tackles pro-choicers' views whilst saying why I do not deem them plausible reasons in favour of abortion. If my article hits too close when read, then I am probably presenting a good argument.

In a bid to share my views further and present my cause, I politely asked most of the people on my contact list to share my article on. Amid the thumbs up signs of pro-lifers and a couple of 'I'm pro-choice' people who respected that our idea differed, I met with a surprise. A person who seemed to me very much a pro-lifer in personal view, pointed out that sharing my article would cause harm to her career. I understand a passion for what you do but to hide who you really are simply to avoid boycott sounds to me very much like the peer pressure we blame on teens.

I personally rather lose some followers and be true to myself than act like someone I am not to please others. What happened to 'Love yourself and be true to yourself first'?! This person argued that voicing any view on the matter in question would always result in haters and that she did not judge anyone for their opinion or what they did so didn't want people to think she did. Say what?! That made my heart thump and upset me till a day later, here I am writing about it. I don't judge others either. I have amazing friends who are pro-choice and although I can never agree with them on the topic, I would not cut them out of my life for that. I actually admire that they are ready to say the truth about how they feel despite knowing my opinion differs greatly.

Knowing I am in the company of, or Facebook friends with, people who have a reaction opposite to mine to the same issue, doesn't mean I shouldn't feel free to voice my own opinion out of fear of how others react. What are we? Ten years old again? What are we? Money-makers who see people as dollar signs that might fade in the face of our true self? If that is how we are, then that is how people will perceive us too. Everyone is what they make of themselves and if we don't believe in ourselves enough to take a stance when we believe in something, then we will be treated as cowards for that is how we will appear.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Happy Meal Life

I took my son to McDonalds last week. His invariable meal choice whenever we go there is the famous ‘Happy Meal’, an assortment of junk food and drink with a toy attached. Needless to say, it is the toy that entices him to make his choice and I am happy to comply on the rare occasion we do visit the diner.

My son is not the only child who is magically lured to this ‘Happy’ meal and as I sat looking around me I could see other Happy Meal cartons dotting the whole of the place. Which prompted me to ask myself, why is the kids’ meal the ‘Happy’ meal?

We value our children and try to make them as happy as we can, within our limits that are usually brought about by our own upbringing, our own standard of living, our own big love for those we care about as well as the circumstances we find ourselves in. Children always come first. We give them priority, thrive on their joy and ensure they always get the best of what we can give them. Which is all well and good, human and proper.

However why is it that most of us don’t respect ourselves in the same way that we respect children? We deserve a Happy Meal too in my opinion?

We put our children to sleep early to ensure they get enough rest and are sharp during school hours but I know very few people who have disciplined themselves to get enough sleep in adulthood. Most of the time, adults have an ‘I have to do it all’ attitude. Have to? There is no ‘have to’ and in the long run we usually just end up physically sick till we have to deal with ourselves and give ourselves the rest our body and mind crave.

We tell our children to work hard in school to grow up to choose the career they want. Yet adults invariably get sucked into the 9-5 job to ‘make money’. What is money? It is the means to the lifestyle we want and not important in itself. (Read my Minimalism and the Economy article here: So why not, rather, have a job that makes us happy over the one presenting the bigger bucks or else not even that but just a safety net? I rather land on a slippery rainbow slide than a black safe boring safety net thank you very much.

We let our children play and drive them around to get them to their extra-curricular activities to get their fun. But are we getting enough fun? Do we allow ourselves the time and space to dream, take a class we enjoy, read that book or watch that film without guilt of ‘not having time’?

For a few weeks since the start of this year I had a boyfriend. Unfortunately things didn’t work out and we split after less than a month but it was one month where I had to share my time, answer texts, meet on the allotted day and time regardless of my mood and physical energy. It started to drain me though I wasn’t sure why. When we did split and I started embracing my single lifestyle again I noted how for all the time I was dating him I had given up on most of my meditation sessions, had had no time to read and was only watching films and series in his company, never alone, simply due to that I can only do so much in a day. I am sure that were it a relationship that was going to work I would have felt differently about it but the point here is that we should always give ourselves the time to do that which will make us better versions of ‘us’.

We notice things that drag us down and complain yet not change the situation if it is too daunting to do so. Sometimes I wish adults were allowed the temper tantrums that we expect and accept of children. ‘I don’t wanna’ is a familiar phrase in parenthood but it is never the parent saying those words.

What if we started ‘not wanting to’ do some things and actually accept that of ourselves? To the tired mama out there, it’s ok to not do it all. To the fathers juggling more than one job, it is ok to not give your children the latest new ‘fad’ toys. They might be craving your presence more than the so-called ‘Happiness boosters’ that keep getting advertised. To all of us including the non-parents, being an adult should not s**k.

My son’s favourite go-to when he is pissed off is to say it is not fair that he only gets to do all that he wants when he becomes an adult. Maybe he is right and we are wrong, and as adults, which should strive to do what makes us happy.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

From Strangers to Flatmates

Last Saturday night, as Malta faced one of the worst ever recorded storms in the island's history, I sat in the small kitchen drinking a beer and swaying to an assortment of music videos suggested by myself and four of my five flatmates in turn. (Thinking about it, my current living arrangement sounds like something out of the BBC series White Heat, about which I had written at length here:

The cosy and friendly atmosphere prompted me to comment on how in the three months that I'd lived with the previous flatmates in the same flat, this thing had never happened. Meanwhile, three more months spent in a different flat-share last summer had yielded an even more bitter-sweet experience.

I like to think that I am on a kind of Sabbatical, albeit a forced one. One year of living with strangers out of necessity, but also my first year of living totally away from family which in itself has given me a new autonomy. But back to the topic of the day, living with people who are neither family nor, in most instances, of my same nationality, has opened up the possibility to really grow mentally. I was never really racist but I do tend to be quite guarded as a person and previously would never have even wanted a friend to stay over let alone share my living quarters with someone, or in this case five someones, that I did not previously know.

I grew up in a home where we were very reserved and I remember thinking it very strange when a relative or other of my ex husband would invariably pop into his mum's home without prior notice. Yet here I am now, so happy for the good company that I will definitely miss the long chats over tea of an evening or whilst cooking, as well as walking into 'my' kitchen for breakfast to find one of the other girls there. I have found my multi-cultural rental a real 'home' away from my home and were it not for having my son currently living away from me due to the living arrangement, I would be very content to prolong this sense of comradeship. In fact, just thinking about leaving in a few months makes me kind of sad. We will say we'll keep in touch, and maybe we will. But by now I know very well that distance does damage to any kind of relationship and that family life will almost surely gulp me up in a new lifestyle that will differ to the one I currently enjoy.

Gratitude helps in any given situation and I am finding it easy to feel grateful for sharing my home over living totally on my own. Nothing beats sharing good news and bad, feeling safer when the lights go out in the storms or simply laughing my nerves off. I even enjoy sharing my hairdryer and feeling useful, as well as the fact that we are causing less of a carbon footprint than if we were all of us living on our own.

As previously stated, my experiences with some other flatmates had not been as sweet so I could never draw a line and say I have loved the experience all through. However there is always a good and bad side to each story and I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to experience this lifestyle for myself. As it is said, it is much easier to try something when you know you have a way out and my safety net is my new flat. So I will enjoy my last few months of this hippie way of life before entering a new phase in life.