I blog for Change…

As I attempt to orient the windy and often treacherous roads that encapsulate life, here are some of my thoughts on the successes, failures and ultimately the hope and positivity in which I strive for a better world. I also hope that I can use this blog as a platform to elevate the social justice issues that are somewhat forgotten in the modern discourse of staying silent on issues that challenge.


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What it takes to stay true to who you are

As we enter adult life, the lines of what is acceptable can sometimes get blurred – particularly when measuring this against a workplace or our own careers. Theoretically, we would all put our hands up and say that the morals and ethics we carry in our personal lives should be wielded in their entirety into our 9-5 existence. However, so often this is not the case.

I have been in this situation – whereby I found I was working in one of the most toxic and unethical workplaces possible. I was consistently witnessing situations that were socially unacceptable and borderline bullying, but somehow I justified them in my head in order to convince myself that, in this context, it wasn’t actually all that bad. I had subconsciously, without even realising, skewed my morals and values in order to fit into that context and not turn the spotlight onto myself by going against the majority.

To compound this, I was slowly but surely becoming that angry person in the corner that unexpectedly snapped at people. When I wasn’t verbalising this negativity, I was instead staring metaphorical daggers at colleagues out of my misplaced frustration. All of a sudden, I had become someone that I wasn’t; I had given in to the toxicity of the environment around me without even knowing it. It honestly felt like I had morphed from a peace-loving, kind, caring individual into an apathetic hypocrite that turned a blind eye to unethical behaviour, when it occurred in a context in which I had something to lose by speaking up.

What I eventually came to realise was that I couldn’t completely change the situation that was at play in my workplace. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I kept bumping my head against a brick wall when attempting to change the culture. The conclusion that I eventually came to was that the only thing I could control was myself, my own behaviour and how I treated others. I made a commitment to carry the values of kindness, sincerity and honour that I so valued in my personal life into that of my working existence. I understood that in order to survive and keep the essence of who I was intact while working there, I needed to draw up a plan. And this is what it was:

  1. Always treat others with respect and dignity, regardless of the environment or situation.
  2. Do your 7.5 hours of work, then walk out the door and leave all of the negativity behind once you step off that doorstep.
  3. Take regular breaks, go outside and enjoy the beauty and splendour of nature.
  4. Laugh hard, heartily and as often as you can.
  5. Remind yourself of who you are, what you believe in and what you are willing to put up with.
  6. Don’t let others’ bad behaviour influence your own.
  7. Stick up for what you believe in and speak up against unethical behaviour whenever you can.
  8. Listen to your inner voice and nurture your kindness at all times

Let’s face it, we live in a world in which we can’t all the time afford to just give up and walk away when we see something that we don’t like. In a career sense, this is heightened by so many things around putting up and shutting up in order to invest in career progression. I am by no means advocating publicly standing on a podium and calling everyone in your workplace out on their bad behaviour. What I am saying is always take the time to remind yourself of who you are and how you would like to be treated. Remember the values that you yourself carry, and don’t tarnish them by justifying someone else’s bad behaviour. Look inward in situations that are toxic and focus on how you carry yourself.

In the end, I had to weigh up what was best for me. Would I stay and continue operating the way I was but risking my own identity by doing so? Personally, I decided to (eventually) walk away and invest in myself and my innate nurturing nature that I was losing by staying still. That was my personal choice and it might not fit for others. Regardless, I never would have survived as long as I did had I not looked inward and reminded myself that it is possible to operate ethically, morally and with dignity in an unethical workplace. So stay strong ladies!

Sx


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Stand up; stand out.

Over the past year or so, I’ve really started to think about what it means to live a life that is fulfilled, honest, reflective and in pursuit of our ultimate goals. It seems that life presents us so many opportunities to send us off track in pursuit of these. We are too often negatively impacted by society’s ideas and standards for what it is that a predetermined ‘happy and responsible life’ should look like. But why is it that we so easily give up on our ideals and our own standards in order to conform to what more likely, is set to be the mundane?

Recently, I’ve watched helplessly as the most unique, different and distinctive people have given into the conformity that exists around them and allowed this monotony to diminish their spark. They’ve given into the nagging societal voice at the back of their minds which tells them that life will be that much easier if they just conform. I’ve also witnessed people of this same group allow society to tell them that their quirks are character flaws, and the worst part of all of this is, that they have believed them and moulded into the nothingness void of what is considered to be the socially acceptable human being.

Our generation, like others which have preceded us, have seemingly rewritten the rules on how to live a ‘meaningful’ life. Unlike the generations before us though, Gen Y has placed emphasis on investing in moments, in memories like travelling the world and living abroad in the pursuit of adventure. And yet, we are still guilted into perceiving this is a nonsensical temporary skip away from reality. What of those of us that haven’t given in to the ‘inevitable’ grounding of our realities? Those of us who haven’t done the ‘sensible’ thing? Chosen the dependable vocation? The most poignant question to pose here is, isn’t life about risk taking in the first place?!

The truth is, we live in a society to which the consistent messaging of ‘the right type’ of behaviour, of life, of existence has almost become subliminal in nature. The everyday toting of such an ideal has become the hypocritical catch cry of our universal existence. Since when did difference and individuality become such a stain on humanity?

The day I take my last breath, I want to be able to look back at life and say that I lived it the way that I wanted to, the way that made me happy. I want to be able to affirm that I followed my own unique path, and whilst it may not have always been easy or the ‘right’ way, it served me the purpose of a lifetime of memories that were ultimately worth living for.

Sx


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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I often wonder what it is about ageing that automatically makes us more cynical about life? Gone are the days of child like hope and positivity based on an all encompassing assumption that life is utterly magical. Instead of looking out the proverbial window and seeing sunshine and rainbows, we envision a dark sky with a fast approaching rain cloud which threatens to debunk any previous fascination and inquisitiveness about the world outside. Is it naivety that allows children to open their eyes and see the possibilities? Or is it that we adults, have allowed ourselves to be tainted by the struggle that this life?

The assumption that I have come to realise that is the most disempowering, is that life should be easy. Things should fall into place because that’s what the natural order predetermines it to do. I then wonder, how much of what we expect to be the case for our existence, actually isn’t and that this is the ultimate source of all our troubles. We imagine, no actually, we expect the presence of a result for which if we follow the right equation, then the outcome is a given; X + Y = life success. Society almost shouts its unequivocal message at us each and every day, that this preconceived image of how our existence should be is just an instant away, as long as we follow the recipe to a tee. So we go along, believing this and do what we have been told in expectance of life success. The problem with all of this is that no one ever tells us about the presence of the unknown – the existence of unpredictable shocks and blimps on the life radar. The constantly lurking in the shadows figure of the unknown is an entity of which has the unprecedented ability to change every part of the equation and the impact of the result itself. So why does no one warn us about this impending doom? And why is it that we are so easily convinced that life is a disaster if it doesn’t entirely go to plan?

Does the sun still not shine as bright? Is the beauty of all things instantaneously snatched away when the life plan deviates in another direction? The point I am trying to illustrate here, is that, surely if society as a whole took to promoting messages of imperfection and resilience, illustrating the beauty and wonder that occurs when life changes are essential; instead of ones of perfection and unattainable ideals, then surely we would be a species far less doom and gloom and constantly neurotic than we are!

Yes, the children that looked out the window and saw sunshine, lollipops and rainbows have grown up. But that doesn’t mean that the hope they so naturally exhibited has to disappear with them. The aspect of naivety in this situation isn’t being hopeful, it’s the misunderstanding of the presence of the life recipe for perfection. Life will have its inevitable lows, failures and downturns but having an understanding that there is magnificence and growth to be had within this surely is the key to living a life that is real, fulfilled and worth it at the end of the day.