Happy Monday Morning! It’s been a while since I’ve written a weekly blog update of what’s been going on IRL this week, but the reasons behind that will be explained further down in this post. So this post is all about thank u, next – tell me you haven’t had this song on repeat all week and I’ll call you a liar. Standing up for myself – again! I know I’ve touched on this before, but I feel like I’m being tested and I can’t not stand my ground – and how, this links to Halsey’s incredible poem, An Inconvenient Woman, at the Glamour Woman Of The Year Awards. And finally, how after a few really rough weeks I’m beginning to feel like myself again.
Oh Ariana Grande, could I love you any more? I didn’t think so, until she dropped this absolute tune last week. Thank u, next for those who haven’t heard it, is about her past relationships (to which she calls out her exes by name) and about growth and pain and learning from heartache. At first on hearing the title, I’d hoped it would be some sassy af song shading her exes and about how she’s moving on and so much better for that. And it was essentially that – minus the shade towards her exes. In fact, the lyrics “I’m so fucking grateful for my ex” confirms the total opposite.
I found it weird. It sort of disappointed me at first. What are you DOING Ari? Can I not just pretend that we might be friends and you’d join me in a bit of “my ex is a prick!” chat??? Because some of my exes are total WANKERS, do I really want to be thankful for them? But I think you can take it as literally or figuratively as you want. And the way I really see it is linked to the advice I give to my friends when they come through a breakup “you’ve learnt so much about yourself and you know that going forwards your next relationship will be different and better as a result” – I’m an advocate of dating lots of people because it opens you up to experiences and knowing yourself better. Sure, maybe we don’t all wanna whatsapp our exes saying “thanks for being a prick, babe” but we can be lowkey thankful for the way it made us grow. I might not want to give them credit for me being who I am today, but I’m not sure many of us can say that we’ve left a relationship and not really learnt a thing.
Ariana sings “one taught me love, one taught me patience, one taught me pain”
And for me it’s more like:
One taught me that betrayal isn’t about infidelity – it can be emotional betrayal. Letting you down when you need it the most. I learnt that I have so much to give, and now I’m so so afraid of giving that away that my emotional walls are up incredibly high. But that’s ok – it just means I now have very high standards! Picky ftw.
One taught me how important communication really is. You have to just be upfront and talk about your feelings or it’ll all go tits up I swear.
One taught me how nasty some men can really be sometimes. I took a lot of shit from this person and let them walk all over me but I’ve never let anyone treat me that way since and I know all of the warning signs now.
One taught me that you can’t sacrifice your own future for the sake of a relationship with someone – you have to put yourself first. Love others, but be selfish.
But it’s harder to put those words into a song, I guess…
I’ve admittedly been a bit of a pushover in the past. In relationships, in friendships, and in jobs – it’s something I’ve been improving and working on massively. But last week I was tested. Oh dear GOD I was tested so much. I dealt with several situations where I effectively spoke out about something I wasn’t happy with, and was met with drama. The old me probably would have apologised for all of it and tried to sweep it all under the carpet and moved on, but I’m so over being that person. It doesn’t get you anywhere, especially when you know you are in the right and deserve so much better than that.
As I’ve said before, as women we’re taught to be compliant. “Be a good girl” “don’t make too much noise” “don’t be so bossy” – and they are messages that I see play out in every day adult situations but in a more subtle way. “Don’t cause a fuss because it makes you unlikeable” is a message others still try to feed me when they can, and it’s one I find quite dangerous as I like to be liked. I care about people liking me more than I should. But who cares about people liking you if they’re not liking you for the real you? They’re liking you for the watered down, passive you? They end up liking a lie. And you don’t get anywhere – you can’t progress as a person and grow as a business if you are holding back.
Halsey read out an incredible poem, An Inconvenient Woman, and it summarises and expresses this sentiment better than I ever could. Listen to it below. I grew up not wanting to be inconvenient, but then I realised what made you inconvenient was so skewed, as a woman. Why are certain qualities seen as admirable if you are a man? But a negative as a woman? It’s the subtle nuanced inequalities I find difficult to fetch the words for when I’m debating equality with some guy I’ve gone on a date with and who is totally blind to anything past his white male privilege. So I urge anyone out there who minimises themselves to be seen as more desirable by men, or in the workplace, to please stop. Be inconvenient. Be loud. Be demanding. Be yourself, unapologetically.
To quote Austin Powers in the Spy Who Shagged Me, I felt as though I’d lost my mojo. It’s just been gone since summer. Pop it on the missing persons list and offer a reward for if it was found! This, interlaced with a whole host of problemos I have felt totally weighed down by, has left me feeling not like myself over the past few months. The past few weeks have been especially hard, and I’ve been in the awful trap of self-sabotage and mental punishment for “not being good enough” – whatever that means. I was losing sleep, unable to breathe for feeling like my chest is closing in on me and anxiety was twisting and tightening round me like a boa. My head a constant whirl of emotions – most of them exhausting, draining me and making me feel as though I can’t carry on.
It got me thinking about work, and dealing with difficult times whilst working. It’s always hard when you go through a phase of depression or deep, deep anxiety, to not take it to the workplace. But I miss that at my office job I could just put my earphones on and crack on with my tasks. But many jobs don’t allow you to do that – mine included. You’ve got to put on a happy face and pretend to be ok. Nobody wants to watch someone cry on insta, really? And then the problem with that is that it feels so far away from what you are feeling deep down that it all feels like a complete lie. Then, when you tell the clients you’re working with or signing off campaigns with that you may need extra time to complete the work because you’re going through a rough time, they don’t understand: “but you seem fine? You’re posting on instagram and you look happy? So why can’t you take on this work?” – and then they think that you are lying. And I’m left feeling like I’m making a pathetic excuse to a teacher about why I can’t do my homework. So just because someone looks like they’re holding it together online, doesn’t mean that they’re not suffering. I think the pressure to keep up appearances when you literally work in and ON social media is definitely heightened. I managed to keep IG up, because to be honest, it’s the most important one to try and keep up when you’re feeling blue. I didn’t feel like writing, nor did I feel like being chirpy and happy on camera. That just felt too much of a lie. I honestly don’t know how my friends who work in teaching deal with this kind of thing – at least I can put a dog filter on my IG stories and some music to hide my misery – what can they do?!
Anyway, despite that, I feel like I’m finally beginning to get things back on track. It’s important to be kind to yourself and not give yourself such a hard time. I’d say don’t sweat the small stuff, but I ALWAYS sweat the small stuff. So TRY not to. And give yourself a break.
Photography by Beth Elstone