In Holding Each Other, We Hold Up The World.

Until this afternoon, I thought the idea of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States of America was some cruel, sick joke, or a convoluted test for humanity to prove themselves.

Until this afternoon, I felt safe.

I came home shortly after the news was announced, after being out without internet, and the first thing I saw was a text from my nineteen-year-old sister.

“Please, PLEASE write about this.”

And if I’m honest, I wasn’t going to write about it. The last thing I want to be is cliché, or worse, uninformed or insensitive. Neither do I want to perpetuate our communal grief, shock, sadness, pain and fear.

But I owe it to my sister and to everyone to try my best.

I could explain in horrific detail the consequences of this shocking event, but you’ve no doubt already heard it all.

Instead, I want to use the influence my writing has to say this:

This is, in my simplest words, a tragedy. This was unimaginable and it is now unpredictable, but, like in everything, I believe there is hope.

I’m not saying you have a choice over whether you have your pussy grabbed, or whether a racist megalomaniac tries to kick you out of your own country.

I’m saying what this election has shown us more than anything is that there is power in numbers. There is power in standing up for what is right, and when you believe in something enough, you can make it happen.

Though this logic can and has been used against us, let it be your beacon in this dark time. Let it be a hand for you to hold through the treachery and the pain, and if you find this hand is slipping from your grasp, keep reaching out. Because someone, somewhere, is reaching out their hand as well, and in holding each other, you will hold up the world.

You, you right there behind your screen, are strong. And if you don’t believe me, look up from your screen, or open Facebook or look at your text messages and take a second to notice everyone around you, everyone you have ever seen, have ever loved. Look up and realise that alone, you are strong, but together, we are stronger.

I’m a teenage girl in Australia. I am not as strong as I wish I was and alone, there is little I could possibly do to brighten this dismal, four-year sentence.

But I promise, with every fibre of my being, with every ounce of love in my heart, I stand with you.

I stand with you against racism. I stand with you against queerphobia. I stand with you against misogyny. I stand with you against violence, sexual and otherwise.

I, and everyone I love, stands with you.

Every time you oppose someone being hateful, even if it’s a stupid meme, we win. Every time you speak up about what’s right, even if it’s to your cat, we win. Every time you live authentically, even if it’s for a second, even if it’s in your bedroom, we win.

He’s won the battle, but we will win the war. The war against hate.

And to that seed of doubt that still nestles in your head, hear this: Love has to win. I have to believe that. I don’t have another choice, because if I want to live my life – and fuck, I want to live my life – I have to believe that love will win.

I hope you believe that, too.

Be Not Deafened By Hate

Every day, we are inundated with endless floods of hate. From the moment we wake up to investigate that late-night notification, mindlessly scrolling through our News Feed with one eye open, to the ‘going to bed, talk tomorrow x’ text, just before we close our eyes.

Hate is everywhere, and tuning out is an insurmountable challenge.


Some days, noticing it is optional. Days when the world spins gently on its axis, swaying with the movement of the love and light that flows between us. Days when the sun is shining and somehow, everything seems less awful than it has been. Days when, just for a change of scenery, you don’t look too closely at the cracks in our society.

Other days, it bombards you. Someone’s been blown up someone’s been invalidated someone’s been offended someone’s been misrepresented someone’s been snuffed out, like a candle, before they had time to properly fill the world with their light.

Some days – most days – the hate is inescapable. The hate is everywhere.

Deafening.

For every person trying to be authentically themselves, there is another telling them they aren’t real or valid. For every person trying to teach us that their way works for them, there is another telling them to stop pressuring us to change ourselves. For every person trying to live there is another trying to cut their life short and I, for one, am tired.

Wake up. Open your eyes and see the light that shines from good intentions. Open your heart and hear the gentle hum of a kind soul. Open your arms and feel the gentle weight of a burden shared.

And when you have seen, heard, and felt the world as it is meant to be, rip open a packet of face paint, don your warpaint and let the battle-cry of beautiful souls rip through you. Scream, fight, believe in what you know is right.

And when the hate becomes deafening again, scream louder.

I Am a Queer Young Woman. I Am Not Afraid to Say That.

Last Sunday, June 12th 2016, a gunman murdered 49 people for a part of their identity that I share with them.

I am a queer young woman. In spite of everything, I am not afraid to say that.


The recurring fear among many LGBT+ people this week is not a hard-to-reach conclusion: “It could have been me.” Or, “It could’ve been my friends, my family, someone I know and love.”

I don’t share this same fear. I’m a teenager, not yet completely out, and as such, I’ve never been to queer spaces or hung out with queer adults.

My fear is different. My fear is the shock and horror that comes with realising that someone hates me that much. That someone hates who I am so much that they would shoot me, that they would kill me and laugh while they did it. That there are people in this world who think I should be dead.

I don’t bully people. I don’t watch people bully other people without stepping in. I don’t share other people’s secrets. I don’t hurt animals. I don’t litter. I don’t abuse my privileges. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I don’t pressure other people into smoking, drinking, or doing drugs, and I don’t judge those who partake. I don’t rely on others to get me through life. I don’t borrow what I can’t return, and I don’t lend something I can’t do without. I don’t lie. I don’t hate. I don’t discriminate.

I am a good person.

I am also a bisexual person.

In some people’s minds, these things are mutually exclusive. These people want me dead.

As a queer young woman who tries her hardest to look for the good in all people, this was, is and will always be a hard pill to swallow.

It’s easy to brush it off. To say, “But you know they’re wrong, but you know you’re a good person, but you know you’re safe.”

Those 49 people knew that too, or they thought they did.

They thought they were right, and good people, and safe, until someone took their lives from them.

I am young. I am not ready to die, and neither were they. Neither are any of us.

I know I am right. I’m trying to be strong. Everyone knows that we are sad. This is not enough.

Being right doesn’t make them any less dead. Being strong won’t bring them back. Being sad won’t erase from the survivor’s minds the haunting sound of the gunman’s laugh.

Being brave is what will create the change we need. I’m being brave right now, posting this on the internet for all to see, trying to create the change I need to feel safe again.


To those who want to question my identity:

My ability to love someone is one of two things: firstly, it is a part of me that is beautiful and pure and won’t be tainted by anyone’s hate or oppression.

Secondly, my ability to love someone is none of anyone’s fucking business.

Turnbull, Shorten, I’m talking to you:

 I am going to marry the person of my dreams. I have a right to marry the person of my dreams. No one, not even you in your fancy office with your privilege and your power, will stop me from getting that. I am not a second-class citizen.

Homophobes everywhere, this one is for you:

If you think that the LGBT+ community will settle down eventually, you are wrong. If you think that our fears will last forever, that they will divide us, you are wrong. If you think that in the face of adversity I will be any less proud of who I am and who we are, you are wrong.

We are strong. We are brave. We are proud.

As much as we might be hurt and afraid, you haven’t won.

And if you think for one single second that hate will ever win, you are wrong.  

 

On Rethinking

As a teenager, it is easy to adopt that well-known ‘twelvie’ mentality’ – to assume that you know who you are, where you are going, and how you plan to get there.

And I, just like everyone, like to have a plan. I like to think that my idea of life now, and of myself, will continue to ring true in the future.

It is evident to me I was – am – wrong.

I started reading at 5 years old, and writing soon after. By seven I had read Harry Potter books 1-5 (the others had not yet been published) and at 11 I took my first genuine stab at writing a novel, after many unsuccessful attempts. It was an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, a play I had not yet read at the time, based on Australian native animals. Needless to say, it was not my greatest success.

With this theme of literacy a constant motif in my life, my future occupation was clear to me: I wanted to be writer. It was what I loved, what I was good at, and the idea of seeing my name on a dust cover thrilled me.

My dream job digressed some – from writer to singer to neuropsychologist to journalist – and I found myself back where I had begun, writing for the people. Through my work on my blog I had found my passion, and my future plan was concreted in my head.

This was not to last.

My dream was upheaved by a role as bass guitarist in a local musical – interrupted briefly by a victory at a local music competition where I sang and accompanied myself on piano – the show went swimmingly and I continue to play bass and piano, and sing. It’s getting serious now – I’m considering becoming a legitimate musician, playing gigs and whatnot. Completely by chance and by the goodness of the people around me, I had fallen into the music industry with good prospects of moving forward, and while I was thrilled, I was also stumped.

Being a musician was not part of the plan. Wasn’t writing what I wanted to do? And what about that foray into a medical persuasion? Was I not destined to be the academic that everyone thought I should be?

I thought that finding yourself, in a small country town among hundreds of people trying to do the same thing, was the hardest thing someone could try to do.

Until my idea of ‘me’ was uprooted, turned on its head, and presented back to me as an unrecognisable reflection. It was then that I realised that while finding yourself is hard, rethinking yourself is harder. Learning, unlearning, relearning – all progressively more difficult tasks to undertake.

My point is a piece of advice to other teenagers who, like me, are trying to work it all out.

Don’t set things in stone. Find who you are, find where you fit, find your passions and your people – but don’t place all your eggs in one basket. Maybe it’s only me who did this, maybe it’s all of us, but don’t be afraid to change your mind.

Don’t be so solid in your beliefs that you have to upheave them later, as I did. Be flexible. Keep your eyes and ears open, be aware of where you are and who you’re with. Be ready to rethink yourself – but don’t think yourself into a hole, only to have to dig yourself out later.

On Unpopular Opinions

“Ugh, quinoa.”

“We have PE next? This day just gets worse.”

“I woke up at six this morning. It was hell.”

All phrases I’ve said more than once recently – and none of them phrases that I actually agree with.

I don’t mind quinoa, exercise, or early mornings. I actually love getting up early, and sprinting when I’m stressed. So why do I pretend to agree with the opinion of the masses?

Reform would be easier if this was a conscious choice, but it isn’t. I find myself reacting and agreeing with the opinions of my friends reflexively, without even a pause or a consideration into whether I actually support what I am saying.

Most people know that as individuals we are conditioned by society and the media to have certain hobbies, to like certain things, to act a certain way.  This is proven by the trends you see in the clothes of teenagers, or in the varying frequency in use of words like ‘swag’ and ‘yolo.’ Everything our friends, colleagues, family, celebrities and role models like and share can be seen by us, and all of it has incredible influence on our own thoughts, and our opinions on the world around us.

What’s interesting is that a disinterest in early mornings, exercise and superfoods is a common motif within teenager culture, but showing this ‘popular opinion’ in a different niche of society will be as disapproved of and frowned upon as some of my opinions are now. When everyone in your workplace visits the gym twice a day, “ugh, quinoa” becomes a one-way ticket to Alienation Town. So while it seems like supporting a popular opinion is the way to stay relevant and ‘cool,’ even the term ‘popular opinion’ is as variable as the people expressing these views.

As a young person trying to figure out myself and my place in the world, this reflexive reaction scares me. I don’t want people to think I’m someone I’m not – but what changes can I make, when agreeing with popular opinion comes so naturally, not just to me but to everyone?

I’m not afraid of being different. Really, I’ve been a ‘weird kid’ long enough to know that in the grand scheme of things, being yourself is the way to go. But all my life I’ve been floating along being a weird kid by default – not that ‘weird’ is necessarily a good or bad thing – but I haven’t asserted my idiosyncrasies, or stood up for my own little, unpopular opinions.

Having unpopular opinions is a part of who I am in some respects. And, as odd as it seems, being yourself isn’t just sitting back and existing – it’s reacting and interacting with the world around you in a way that says, “This is me; this is my opinion; it’s not popular, and neither am I. And that’s okay.”


What are your unpopular opinions? Let me know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter

International Women’s Day: I’m Done

Last year, I used the medium of International Women’s Day to discuss equality and feminism within our society, both issues that are of great importance not only to women but to everyone.

This year I’d like to continue to use my privilege, as a writer and a young woman in the first world, to address another pressing issue that is facing the women of today.

Every week in Australia, one woman is murdered in an incident of domestic violence.

I know I am not alone when I express how I am simultaneously grieved, horrified and disgusted by this statistic.

Too often when we look at facts like this, we allow ourselves to turn a blind eye and pretend it isn’t happening. Too often we hear a statistic like this one, and within a few hours, our impassioned rage at these atrocities becomes lost amongst the trials and tribulations of our own lives.

The tables turn abruptly when these statistics are presented within your own personal context.

Imagine if every week, just like clockwork, one of your cousins, aunties, sisters, mothers, grandmothers or friends was killed in a domestic incident. Imagine watching someone you love being buried every week. Imagine the grief and disgust and anger you would feel; and now realise that every week, there is someone new who has been left behind.

As awful as this scenario is, it serves to convey to us the reality of living under the shadow of domestic abuse. 

This abomination does not end with physical violence – abuse maintains its monstrous aggressiveness as it snakes into the emotional, the mental, the spiritual and the environmental wellbeing of a person. Abusing someone’s soul is as damaging as that which is more visible, and is worsened by the devastatingly consistent denial that it happens at all.

All forms of domestic abuse are destructive and unacceptable. All forms of domestic abuse need to be stopped.

Somewhere in our ancestry, it has been internalised that oppression and intimidation of women is acceptable. Somewhere in history people were taught that to make someone feel inferior was an assertion of power and strength. And today, I’m done.

I’m done with being afraid for my future, and the futures of my friends. I’m done with hearing stories on the news of yet another domestic murder. I’m done with the realisation that 64% of domestic violence incidents aren’t reported at all.

I’m done with being a young woman in a society where a large proportion of people think I am an object to be abused and intimidated.

This fight that will save lives, this fight that we cannot afford to lose, can’t be solely an act of personal revenge. Women aren’t the only ones who should care about this.

Sons, fight for your mothers, brothers for your sisters, fathers for your daughters. Stand up for the people you care about, the people you love.

We must never forget the tragedies that have preceded today. In recognition and tribute we must adopt this cause, together.

Teach people that intimidation has no place in a relationship. Consider your actions towards others. Look out for your friends and family.

Make today the last day that domestic violence is a problem in Australia.

Australia Day

For a day that’s celebrated in thongs, sunnies, and green and yellow face-paint, Australia Day is one of the most controversial holidays we have here in Oz.

The 26th of January, better known as Australia Day, serves to commemorate this day back in 1788, when the First Fleet of British ships arrived in Australia, marking the beginning of British settlement in this country.

Seems like a pretty good reason to celebrate, right?

Or it would be, if there hadn’t already been people in Australia when the First Fleet arrived. About 750,000 people, which is the reason many people refer to January 26th not as Australia Day, but as Invasion Day.

On his trip around the Australian coast in 1770, James Cook concluded that the island was uninhabited. When he was found to be wrong, the settlers did not turn back, nor even ask the native people for permission to colonise; they continued on establishing their penal colony with disregard to the people they viewed as a lesser race. Unsustainable fishing and hunting led to food shortages; land was cleared and water polluted. The Aboriginal people were close to starvation and the situation was only worsened with the introduction of European diseases that Indigenous Australians had not been exposed to before.

To me, the near destruction of an entire race of people for the petty desires of some self-righteous, egotistical men, doesn’t seem like cause for a sausage sizzle.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t think we should have an Australia Day; I just think we should do it differently.

Of course we have a right to celebrate our country. Of course we deserve a day off work to listen to some live music and eat some charred meats and BBQ chips. But why are we commemorating such a shameful event? Why are we giving credit to the people who almost destroyed the original inhabitants of our beautiful country?

Let’s celebrate Australia Day differently. A different time, a different memory. Let’s celebrate the day when Kevin Rudd apologised for the Stolen Generation. Let’s celebrate the day when government finally allows same-sex marriage.

Let’s celebrate something that is an achievement for all Australians. Let’s celebrate being Australian, regardless of race, sex, religion, gender, sexuality or politics.

Let’s spend Australia Day embracing our diversity, not commemorating it’s attempted erasure.

 

 

 

Thankyou to Aboriginal Heritage for helping me understand the history of Australia Day.

Why Gender Stereotypes Are Holding Us Back

“Wear a pretty dress.”
“Grow your hair long.”
“Put some makeup on.”

Or, you know, I could do whatever the hell I want.


Gender stereotypes are more outdated than rotary egg beaters. They’re dumber than Valentine’s chocolates on sale on Boxing Day. They’re worse than wearing pants on a Sunday.

The idea that someone born with female genitalia should be fragile, aesthetically pleasing (what does that even mean?) and sexually reserved is, apart from being astoundingly ridiculous and frankly, offensive, a notion that (shockingly) society doesn’t need to ensure the longevity of the human race.

The expectation for someone born with XY chromosomes to be emotionally colour-blind, physically strong and fearless to the point of recklessness is not only damaging to the psyche of every young boy who doesn’t fit this description, but is also making a princely contribution to the gender hierarchy that’s wreaking havoc on the bras of a few select feminists, and at the very least enraging a few billion less select human beings who believe in equality.

In simpler terms, gender stereotypes are stupid and we don’t need them.


My gender doesn’t affect my ability to smile at people when I’m walking down the street. It doesn’t change how many friends I have and love. It doesn’t impact how I word a sentence or blow bubbles, both of which I like to think I’m good at.

I play bass guitar. I play soccer with the guys. I’m pretty good at the parallel bars, a solely male sport. I’m fond of button-down shirts. I like feeling dapper. I am currently sporting a mad undercut with accompanying man-bun, but I’m not a man.

I spend too much money on tea dresses. I have a soft spot for Elmo. I feel most confident when I’m wearing fierce eye makeup. I love to sing. I like wearing earrings. I’m short and slight. I played with Barbies as a kid. I still take my teddy bear on every school camp. I adore John Green books.

It looks like I’ve separated these traits into ‘boy-traits’ and ‘girl traits’ – but the truth is, these are all just parts of my identity. None of these attributes make me more or less myself.

Stop using the words ‘girly’ and ‘manly.’ Stop telling people, especially kids and adolescents, to toughen up or act more ladylike. Everyone on the planet is made up of a billion different traits, all of which are intrinsically their own whether we choose to assign a gender to them or not. The only difference is a bit more self-esteem, a bit more confidence. A bit less bullying, a bit less unhappiness.

A bit more equality.

A New Year

Happy New Year!

And so we all make puzzled faces at one another as we question how another year sailed past so quickly. Just like that, we’re in 2016.


 

My New Year’s Resolutions (Placed on the Internet to Hold Me Accountable):

  • Get my mental health up to scratch
  • Ask for help when I need it
  • Put more effort into the blog
  • Learn that perfection isn’t achievable
  • A few personal goals pertaining to soccer and competitions

 

The reason I’m posting this a week from the actual start of the year is because this is when I would usually give up on my resolutions, if I had made any in the first place. Too busy, too bored, too much effort, these have all been my excuses, and I’m guessing they’ve been yours at some point too. The fact that I’m posting means I haven’t fallen off the bandwagon yet – and I don’t plan to. 

In recent year’s I’ve held less and less value to New Year’s resolutions, believing them to be a waste of time when we all give up on them three weeks down the track. Just because we change the calendar doesn’t mean we’re all reborn, sort of thing.

But upon pondering, I think New Year’s resolutions embody something we all need to remember, all year round, and that is the power of a fresh start. The look and feel of a clean slate. Sure, I was disorganised last year, sure I didn’t exercise as much as I should have, I get it. But if the New Year symbolises anything it’s a new beginning, and ignoring the marketability of it all, and ignoring the exploitation and the undeniable cliche, I’m taking this new beginning and I’m running with it.

Too often, we get stuck in this rut in life – with our studies, our work, our health, our happiness – and we stay there and stew ourselves into a puddle of misery. Getting out of the rut and starting anew is daunting in the middle of June.

I think we should all feel like we can start afresh anytime, but I’ll just hop down off my unicorn and say that I understand that it’s scary. I understand that life is overwhelming and change is difficult, no matter how inevitable. Yes, New Year’s is filled with marketing gimmicks to con you into buying more kale, and the oppressive feelings of disappointment from society when you decide that kale isn’t really your thing. But if you need an excuse to start again, and we all do sometimes, a new year is the perfect opportunity.