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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A Woman’s Right to Choose.. (?)

A recurring conversation that seems to consistently come up as of late is that around the question of having children. In the past, asking someone if they ‘wanted’ to reproduce would be null and void. It would have been a no brainer and not a question of if, but when. What I have noticed though is that of my friends, peers and co-workers who are of a similar age, those who express the willingness unquestioningly to have children are those to be found in the minority. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority do not directly desire to ever have children per say, but instead express a sense of uncertainness about this and therefore acknowledge that in future, it could really go either way.

The significance of all of this has not escaped me. When considering if this would be a conversation between late 20 something’s in the generation just past, it struck me that it would definitely not have been the norm. In the grand scheme of things the pattern is usually that you meet someone, get married and have kids; in that order and directly one after the other. So what’s changed in all of this? I mean, the women around me still express a desire to share their life with someone but it doesn’t represent the conventional norms which have been the go-to life mould in the past.

What has changed in this equation is that of choice, and not just of the generic form, but more significantly of a woman’s active right to choose and decision make in line with what happens to her body, her life and her future. In days past, marriage and kids were a package deal, and arguably THE package deal that young women best aspired to. What’s shifted in part due to women’s rights movements and the fight towards equal pay has not only been an increase in opportunity in the workforce, but also allowed for an attitudinal shift where women have been able to prioritise their careers and invest in the pursuit thereof, putting the immediate need for childbearing in the background.

But in all of this, the women that expressed ‘not being sure’ still seemed to sheepishly convey it in a tone expecting judgment and ill will as a response. Should we be ashamed to openly say that as women of a possible child bearing age, that we don’t actually want to reproduce? Is it societally incorrect to say that we are simply unsure and that investing in our career is the top priority of our lives? It sure does make people uncomfortable but perhaps the bleatingly obvious double standards that exist between men and women in this circumstance are what we should in fact be ashamed of. At the end of the day, in a just and equal society a women’s right to choose is what should be the unquestionable norm. I for one will continue to wield this right unapologetically regardless of how uncomfortable it might make society as a result.

Sx


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To be vulnerable.

Last year I was prompted to think about vulnerability, what it meant and its place in the existence of things. When we’re young we are told about the need to constantly strive for betterment and the consistent battle forward towards success. In most respects, when we think about this said success, we envision a product, entity or being that displays the positive end result of some unforeseeable toil. We conjure up an image of a person we deem to be successful and then compare our own lives to that model. In most cases it’s someone who we idolise, who in our minds has now reached ‘success’ and therefore has an enviable existence that we ourselves are constantly in the pursuit of.

What we forget as human beings is that, it always seems rosier from the outside looking in. Even though this person that we idolise has achieved that one element that we equate with life success, this does not automatically translate into an existence free from struggle and therefore utter perfection. In reality, we are chasing after something, towards a level of ‘perfection’ which in itself is realistically unattainable. The theory of that person living a blissful and trouble free way of life is a farce which is merely a socially created facade setting us on a never-ending pursuit towards an unfeasible outcome.

So why do we only present one aspect of our lives to society once we are deemed as being successful? I suppose it very much hinges on the ‘put your best foot forward’ approach. However, wouldn’t a society which is more conducive to peace, change and sustainability promote a more open and honest conversation on the elements upon which make us human?

Let’s face it, we are utterly imperfect beings and our true humanity rests on the ability to accept this fact and move forward despite it. What would happen if we were more open about saying ‘yes I am successful in this one area of my life, but I struggle in others too’? What if we were more honest about highlighting the things that we fear, more transparent in showing our vulnerabilities to the world? Surely, we would then at the very least be working towards a world where role models are known not just for their wins in life and success, but for the strength associated with their innate humanness as well.

By sharing our vulnerabilities does that make us appear weaker? Wouldn’t it be more so of the case that we were weak because we embarked on never-ending pursuits to hide those emotional scars? Surely, by showcasing that there is beauty, resilience and strength in vulnerability is a better investment in time than idol worshipping one side of someone’s life in isolation and thereby pushing generations towards an unattainable journey of attempting to achieve the life that even their role models are in absence of.

Sx


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To be lonely.

I wanted to write today about the concept of loneliness and how it takes its effects on both a personal and societal level. I have often thought that I’ve never really taken the time out to reflect on what it all really means to me; I mean I’ve had people consistently tell me that’s what I am/will be, if I limit myself to a life on my own. I’ve had people tell me how I feel, or should feel but the more I pondered on it, the more I realised that I’d never actually come to a definitive point on how I envisioned loneliness and whether that was the direction I was going in.

I had an experience/a flirtation/a dalliance or whatever one would call it not so long ago where I understood that I was making an attempt at appeasing something within me that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. I consider myself a rational human being who on most occasions painstakingly weighs up all options and their future validity prior to taking the next step. However, I found myself willingly doing the opposite of this for reasons unbeknown to me. Was that a result of the loneliness that everyone had warned me about? Or perhaps it was the opposite..

The truth is I’ve always been an introverted person. Being an only child whose parents were out working for most of my childhood meant that I spent most school holidays at home, alone for up to 10 hours each day. I’ve grown used to being by myself for the entirety of my life and never thought much of it. So why is it, that now all of a sudden I find myself making what seems to be irresponsible decisions in order to plug a hole that would appear to be non-existent in the first place. Have I subconsciously given in to the rhetoric of that ‘lonely ageing lady’ that trolls the corridors of life searching for her next hit of comfort & intimacy?! If so, how and when did this happen??!

All of this got me thinking about the ‘societal standards’ that are set for someone my age, or let’s be more honest here, a woman of my age. In essence there seems to be a weight of expectation of, if not having a man permanently around, needing to be on a consistent search for attainment of a temporary stand in. What seems even more mortifying to me after I ended this ‘something with someone’ was that my most immediate afterthought was… ok who’s next…?! I had to fight the feeling to search for my next impermanent someone in order to portray to society that I was ‘okay’; that I’m not too picky, that I am on my way to meeting society’s standards and that I am at least attempting to re-route my path away from this said ‘loneliness’.

If I have learnt anything from all of this, it’s that I’ve allowed someone else’s standards, someone else’s opinions and someone else’s feelings to take over my decision-making capacity and dictate to me what ‘acceptable’ behaviour should be. The truth is, we are all lonely but what I have figured out for myself is that I’d rather be lonely on my own and yet still continue to search for the right path/person in my life, than appease that ill placed feeling by finding comfort in someone else’s version of their own loneliness. So yes, sometimes I do feel the emotion, but I’ve learnt to be okay with this and deal with it on my own because to be honest, there are simply some voids that can only ever be filled from within oneself.

Sx


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My relationship with food… well it’s complicated

As we grow older we begin to understand that our emotional conditioning and past experiences have a way of bleeding into elements of our life that we may not have ever considered. When you’re young things seem so black and white; you have an emotion, you act on it or blurt it out in public, and then you move on. However, as we enter into adolescence we learn that not all emotions that are incurred within us are to be brought out to the fore fray instantaneously. So instead, we learn to internalise them; push them down to be dealt with at another time and place. For me personally, I had never made the connection with these unresolved feelings and the impact they had on my life until I realised that I was (still am at times) an emotional eater. I had the sudden realisation that my relationship with food was actually quite abusive and that this all stemmed from an attempt by my subconscious to fill a metaphorical void.

To be honest, I have made the dance of overeating or deliberately binging, then feeling supremely guilty immediately afterwards a constant occurrence in my life. When I look back I am now able to easily pinpoint these instances to moments of my life when I have needed some extra comfort, but not really understood why. These times are always to be found late at night, when sheer boredom or utter loneliness has been felt while I sit in bed, all alone, feeling subconsciously sorry for myself. It’s so easy to instantly act on these pangs, which I initially put down to hunger without even questioning them but what’s more difficult, and yet utterly necessary to do is dig a little deeper and listen to my body the emotions driving it. In an instant not long ago, I realised that I was using chocolate and fast food to soothe a discomfort which was originating emotionally and had nothing to do with hunger.

So I’ll say it, I am a recovering emotional eater. I have for too long been in the habit of attempting to eat all my troubles away. But lately, I have made myself be more deliberate towards bettering my relationship with food. I’ve taken more of an active focus on nourishing my body with the things it needs to flourish, instead of giving into those feelings looking for a quick comfort fix. To be fair, I’m still learning and trying out different techniques to quell those overbearing emotions. But at the very least, I have made the conscious effort to identify the emotions behind those pre-binging moments, sit with them for a while and understand that no amount of overeating can ease that emotional void with just chocolate alone!

Sx


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The Myth of what Foreign Aid Nay-sayers would have you believe..

As an international development practitioner operating out of a country which is classed as one of the wealthiest in the world I have worked on an assumption that the rest of the population would understand the need for foreign aid and the reasons around why we invest in it. I’ve worked on this assumption for my entire career, and those who know me would understand that I rarely speak about what I do unless asked. For those of us in the field, we do what we do not out of a need to be notarised, acknowledged or accumulate any great deal of wealth. We put our heads down and quietly work towards the end goal of eradicating global poverty by strengthening under developed nations systems for self governance, accountability and greater equality for all.

Although hearing the unwarranted and uninformed conjecture of Jackie Lamby’s ‘first comes our own backyard’ sentiment has confirmed the level of misinformation that has translated into the public sphere around foreign aid and its reason for existence. Of course I could speak to you of the need to invest in the pursuit of a world in which no child goes hungry or dies as an infant of malnutrition; in which a woman no longer faces torture, rape, violence and discrimination because of her gender; or of the eradication of the need for engaging in back breaking, debilitatind and/or degrading labour for less than $1 a day. These images are not new they are pervasive in an unequal world. But what doesn’t reach the consciousness or understanding of most in the need to invest in foreign aid is it’s necessity for the security and vested interests of this country. An underdeveloped, volatile Pacific region is dangerous not only for Australia’s regional security but for its market trade opportunities as well.

The Indo-Pacific region is now one which is synonymous for its rapidly growing economies. The last few decades have seen a change in the way that the idea of foreign ‘aid’ is structured and configured. Gone are the days of welfare politics and direct giving outside of the onset of natural disasters. Donor governments and NGOs alike have understood that in order to better the situation for people in developing countries, the best method is to invest in more accountable and transparent structural governance systems in their own nations and boost opportunities for economic development. In other words, investing in systems to shift developing nations from mere aid recipients to economic partners with equitable societal functions is much more beneficial. Allowing under developed nations to take control and responsibility for their own futures has meant that foreign aid has become more targeted and sustainable.

It’s important to understand this basic principle when considering the need for foreign aid. It’s also crucial to keep things in context when considering all of this. Australia now ranks one of the lowest contributors of foreign aid worldwide. Of every $100 of our national income, only 22 cents is spent on foreign aid. That is 0.22%. So I ask you, is the foreign aid allocation really the most pervasive problem at hand when it comes to our national spending? I would beg to differ.

Sx