Out Of Order

As I started walking up to the bathroom, it dawned on me that this was my first time going into this bathroom since the year before last, where quite a strong post of mine was written, one of my go-to places I’d hide to have a panic attack if I felt one coming. Out of interesting coincidence, the exact cubicle I’d go in, was out of order. You could look at this two ways. A symbolic representation of being in a better place than before, or a bit weird that I’m talking about a broken down toilet. Whichever way you want to look at it – it brought a particular post to mind which I wrote in that very cubicle…

While sat locked in a toilet cubicle, crying, suffering an anxiety attack, I decide to build up a stream of consciousness to calm me down.

This is a very Hermione Granger thing, an all time low for 12 year olds and everyone knows it won’t go well, I mean she had to face a troll for gods sake, and all I’m facing ultimately is myself. Sadly I don’t have Harry or Ron to save me or comfort me. I’m sat in here waiting for time to pass so I can stop crying and finish my attack in time for my lesson. I’m 19, but I’m still here, literally wanting my mummy, and wanting to teleport home.

But I know it won’t stop. They have been on repeat all morning like a bad song and I’ve avoided most social interaction (apart from regrettably informing the Christian Union that I was an atheist and wouldn’t be suited to their project they wanted me to be a part of) but only because I had to and couldn’t avoid it.

The next worry is I have to go into my lesson today, imagine a weeks worth of studying for this, all gone to waste if I don’t. I can’t stop crying. I just keep crying. Why of all the places, and situations does it have to be now and today. I knew this would happen. I knew it would come for me in my worst moment, just to really take the piss. Can anyone hear me?

Pathetic. This is what 12 year olds do when dealing with nasty comments, problems at home and problems you can’t control. Yet in the same that’s exactly what’s currently happening. My body is under attack, beating myself up with nasty comments and heightening problems that may not even ultimately be problems, yet feel completely out of my control. I can’t win until they decide to stop. And even when they stop, immersing myself back into society acting as if nothing happened becomes the next hurdle.

My smeared makeup, sallow skin and eye bags and looking as well as feeling drained isn’t something easily hidden. Then comes the paranoia of whether people can notice. Can they see me? What must they think when they see me? What if my cover and intention to hide is blown?

And as minutes swift past, here comes the cool down.

I’m not ready to unlock just yet. Wait til the coast is clear.

Breathe.

…Well. At least it’s not a troll, right?

 

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An Honest Overview, Anxiety and Panic Disorder: My Story, And Why It’s Not Embarrassing.

Someone once asked me, “Why do you talk about suffering from a mental illness on social media? Nobody needs to know, it’s embarrassing.”

It’s exactly questions like that which urge me to do so.

If all I did was be ashamed of myself, and ashamed of what I go through, I would be in the same state I was two years ago having panic attacks in toilet cubicles minutes before my lectures questioning myself. It’s 2016, why does this stigma still exist?

I talk about suffering from anxiety and panic disorder over social media because every time I do, I wind up with messages from close friends and acquaintances admitting to me that what I have described sounds similar to what they go through, yet are too nervous to get diagnosed. Sometimes even out of embarrassment.

There is nothing embarrassing about suffering. There is nothing embarrassing about dark thoughts and trauma. There is nothing embarrassing about being amongst the 3 million in the UK alone that feel the need to hide. And if a random (lengthly) post over social media is enough to encourage others to be less afraid, then it’s worth every word.

I like writing, and I have a knack for writing far too much and sometimes even being overly dramatic. But when I tell people my life changed when I began suffering from nocturnal panic disorder, it’s with no exaggeration whatsoever.

When people talk about the lowest they’ve ever felt, what’s made them the most upset or what’s hurt them the most, to me what comes to mind is all the time I wasted. In complete seclusion, sometimes even sadly with witnesses, I’d cry so much my eyeballs swell and I hyperventilate while wishing I was a better person. I wouldn’t feel good enough, I’d feel like I was a fraud for even having a life at all, and that none of my efforts could ever make anything or anyone feel like they wanted to know me or be around me. I became obsessed over whether I was good enough for others, and hated who I was because of that before even considering if I was happy with myself first.

All I wanted to do was hide away, because in my head, that was the best solution.

I wouldn’t disappoint anyone anymore. I wouldn’t be a burden to my closest friends. If I kept well away, they would be happier. If I expressed my feelings too much it would put people off me. If they knew what I was going through they would see me as an attention seeker. They would think I was a psycho, they wouldn’t understand. To be upset, and to barely sleep, and to cry more so than speak wasn’t an excuse for falling grades or not going to uni. It’s probably just overreacting. It’s probably because I need attention.

And yet if Doc came and offered me a go in the DeLorean and the power for none of what happened to have ever happened? I’d take that opportunity.

I’d be walking upstairs holding my chest feeling palpitations and nausea darting my eyes at the people around me. I’d wake sometimes up to 5 times a night from the exact same dream unable to lift myself from my bed, because it felt like someone was sat on my chest. I’d fall back to sleep in complete exhaustion, and turn up to lectures unable to process a single word being said or concentrate at all. My vision would progressively blur in social scenarios and my hearing would zone out as if I was about to pass out, before the feeling of dread would squeeze my brain and tell me to get out before I embarrass myself. In those moments you feel entirely, completely alone, and get scared when people offer to help because you don’t want them to even witness how vulnerable you can be.

And the doctors first thought I had asthma!

I was eventually (finally) diagnosed in October 2014 with anxiety and panic disorder (specifically nocturnal). Anxiety and panic attacks that don’t just happen when they need to, but uncontrollably at any time. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy, about to go to a lecture, in a museum or with your friends on a night out. It doesn’t just pick the perfect moments. It happens so often that it literally stops you from wanting to go out, just in case. The medication that I had to take three times a day required me to stop drinking, which meant being a sober uni student. I had therapy, medical check-ups to check up on how I’d been feeling. The sanctuary I found was being locked away, on aeroplane mode, and not telling anyone what exactly was going through my mind. Because I thought it was embarrassing.

A good friend once said to me, it’s like a broken leg without the cast. Because you can’t see the cast, people assume it’s not there or not real. People still have this stigma against mental illness. That it shows weakness, vulnerability. Even suffering from it makes you believe you are weak and vulnerable. Don’t show how you really feel, don’t let anyone know what you’re up against.

Yet within this time, I found another sanctuary. My blog. Words On A Whim was born just a week after my first uni exams. I had this weird urge for some form of escape at the time and I didn’t revisit the blog properly until I began frantically writing in anything I had available for a form of escape that wasn’t “snap out of it” (because believe me, no matter how many times you tell someone with a mental illness to “snap out of it” 10/10 times it won’t disappear overnight). From nothing, to 10,000 views a year, working amongst a group of others helping the development of ‘Koko’ the mental health app, receiving various nominations and recognition from companies I’d talked about in my ‘seeking management’ posts such as Headspace, I found myself in the right place. And yet yesterday, I privatised everything I’d previously written on my blog.

Up until now, I wrote because it was my escape away from nosy minds and anyone that wanted to unlock the truth to who I was, how I thought and what I was going through. It was an embarrassment after all right? Because of this blog, I got to have some amazing experiences and even have a chat with an inspiration of mine, Carrie Hope Fletcher in the #useyourand campaign (an event in which I happened to meet one of my closest friends, @Ksenija) But since my year abroad, and ultimately feeling a lot happier and better in myself than I once did with a new found confidence and self-peace (with the occasional glitch still to this day) I’ve decided to start all over again. This time I want to write looking back on who I was two years ago, and not as the girl two years ago. I will recall old posts from time to time, but it’s probably best I write about some of the harder moments in a more positive mind frame.

The best part of all this is that what was something which helped me, slowly became something which helped others. The messages I receive from strangers around the world, and even friends and acquaintances through Facebook every time I write on social media about my experience is both upsetting but warming. To know that there are people out there who are going through this, undiagnosed, unsure and in need of desperate help to regain control of their life is a horrible feeling. That’s why I post about it on social media. That’s why we have to talk about it.

Though I have my sleep back, I’m no expert. But for someone that only yesterday, wound up clenching her chest in tears over worrying and not feeling good enough, when these glitches happen I’m much swifter in re-establishing my happiness and determination.

So instead of hiding away, I’m going to make my blog and posts public. I’m going to stop neglecting the platform that helped me, and made me happy, and I want to become as pro-active as I was before, only with the me today rather than the me two years ago. I’ll risk the 10,000 a year mark for creating something I’m unafraid to hide, and hopefully not lose all those readers in the making! But most of all, it’s because some of the people closest to me, and some of the people I’m not even that close to anymore, are currently going through the exact same thing, or little bursts of things I’ve suggested and said in the past has helped and struck a chord. So why not share it?

I’m imperfect, I make mistakes, I overthink and have random glitches of emotion and can get anxious still at times about whether I’m good enough, whether I’m a burden or if I’ve done or said something wrong. But I just need to remember that the right people will stick around, the right people will understand and the right people will remind me they’re there when these things do happen. *Without making me feel like I’m anything to be ashamed of or an embarrassment. * And I hope I return the favour, or at least if I don’t do so enough I’ll work towards doing it more. I finally feel like I’m at a point in my life where I feel the most me.

Maybe instead if I went back in time, I’d tell myself it would all be worth it in the end, and I’d have to go through pain to understand myself, and understand the world better in return.

 

Stay Smiling,

Nat xoxo

 

All Brand Newish

Firstly, apologies to my current readers. You won’t find any of my old posts on here (ahhhhhh what the hell have you done?!) I know, I know. But please, let me explain myself.

My blog started around 3 years ago, and posts and posts later my blog totals into having sometimes over 1000 views a month. That’s a lot.

In fact, this year and last I’ve received over 10,000 views. That’s a lot of people reading my blog.

But truth be told, even though you’ve been reading my blog, I haven’t posted anything properly recently, right? I’ve neglected a platform that once made me so so happy. For some stupid reason, I forgot all about it. More specifically, I couldn’t bring myself to write. Every time I would try I would lose motivation, or not be happy with my content. So I figure it’s time I did something about it.

Part of the reason I wasn’t finding happiness in my writing, was because my year has been incredibly happy and eventful. I guess amongst that, I felt like I no longer needed to keep a hold of something that was my creative outlet in all the times I needed it. Truth is, I needed it all along, and in neglecting my blog I neglected something I truly loved, something which was once a huge part of my life.

I’ve privatised my previous posts. And I’m prepared to risk those 10,000 yearly views to start Words On A Whim all over again, and be proud of it rather than keep it hidden in the dark. Previous posts then still have the potential to pop up occasionally, or I’ll rewrite things in a way I’m happier with, hopefully gaining new readers and exciting old ones. (If I don’t, do send me a virtual kick in the nuts, I know it’s all a bit drastic.)

I want to start over. I want to start writing over, as the person I am today, rather than to find remnants of the person I was two years ago. I want to talk about that person from two years ago, and not be her. I want to give my perspective on the life I lead before as my happier, more me self. I want things to be a bit more brand newish, and to feel proud and pleased with it.

My blog will take course as it did all along. Words On A Whim. Expect nothing less, than the rambling anxious confusion that I am trying to make sense of it all. Expect the same stories of life and anxiety.

I hope this change will be for the better, and I hope I can finally be more open and proud about something I used to love.

Stay Smiling,

Whim xoxo

Who Do You Think You Are?

What does it mean, to know who you are. What do you have to do to be satisfied? Discovering who you are, is a discovery that forever changes, sometimes progresses, sometimes regresses, but is never going to end.

Sometimes you find yourself in times where major events happen, that you won’t realise until later life have changed who you are or had some influence into who you are.

Sometimes you find yourself obsessing over a thing that can shape your style, your likes and dislikes and your opinions.

Sometimes you find yourself admiring others, copying others even at times, to be like them or to try and hinge parts of your personality to be liked by them or to be similar to them in some ways.

When you think about it – discovering who you are is like trying on a pair of shoes. Try on the red wellies, they’re a bit big but you’re happy to grow into them, but next week you don’t like them and try on a new pair. Sometimes you try shoes on that fit perfectly until a years time. Sometimes you try shoes on that you like until 10 years later where the thought of even trying them disgusts you. But sometimes you find some you love, and will always love, even when they no longer fit. Or you’ll even find some you now hate but you can laugh at, and accept, because at one point you did love them. And all of those scenarios are completely ok, and you’ll experience many like it, you won’t just stick to one pair of shoes.

But along the way, you slowly collect parts of who you are. In various different ways you find out, and you change your mind on whether you like it or not. Change happens all the time, all through life and despite everyone being afraid of change at some points in life, it inevitably happens but is incredibly exciting.

My Mum once asked me if I ever wanted to see a medium, to help me discover who I was, what I was in for, how I should feel. I know at the time she was just trying to help. But in my eyes, there’s no better person to tell me or to find out than myself. I love the stupid haircuts I went through, the fallouts, the misery, the happiness, the cat eared cardigans and the graphic designer, the avid reader and aspiring teacher, and even the me I am today – full of unknown aspirations and pathways, filling up a personality chunk I ripped out of myself by removing someone from my life who previously filled it.

This final paragraph is to tell you not to look for someone to fill a chunk, if you’re looking to fill a chunk in your personality. With whatever you have to do to find out who you are, never make it someone else. Never pass on that responsibility to another person, or you’ll find yourself reliant on never being whole unless someone holds you. Finding out who you are never ends, but is also never solved by other people.

Working yourself out, is actually a lot of fun! Try all the shoes, just to see what makes you feel comfortable and happy.

Make sense? Of course not always, but that’s the point!

Whim xoxo

 

The Beauty Of Being You

Understanding my head and heart currently is a task. My feelings and thoughts change not only on a day to day basis but sometimes hourly. Amongst my thoughts are my random bursts of paranoia that have washed up that affect my day to day and cause me a tonne of embarrassment in front of my friends. One minute I’m nervous if one of my friends hasn’t replied to me – when in reply it takes me sometimes too long or I’ll reply something stupid. Because clearly I’m adjusting to being lonely, and being a bit needy. But in combination to this, I start thinking about what I should do about making it better.

If I talk to a friend about this paranoia, I regret it and want to make it better. If I’m replying terribly I’ll want to spice up conversation or wonder about how to become a better person. I want to be charismatic. I want to become someone full of bubbles and light and happiness, someone inspiring, someone that helps. Someone that listens, then beat myself up about not asking enough questions to someone or not listening enough to someone else’s story. I’m self conscious, randomly. I left my friends waiting today, so that I could get home to put tights on in 30 degree weather after being nervous about having my legs on show. I feel like I should lose weight and tone up if I plan on ever finding anyone to be with ever again because I’m not good enough. I’m nervous about my hair, my skin, the things I choose to do in my spare time. And then, I remember.

So, yesterday I went to a record market. There was a DJ playing reggae, there were comic book stalls with graphic novels, album cover artworks everywhere. I wore one of my favourite cardigans, and my comfy trainers. I offered for people to join me, only one of my friends came and even she just stood in the sun enjoying the scenery. But for the first time in far too long, I felt like me. I bought myself a Prince vinyl, and a Moomins graphic novel. I was home, and this was me.

The thing is, I can be as paranoid as I like about what I wear, who I’m with, what I say, the way I am as a person. But truthfully, half of those decisions I find myself wondering about what other people think. Not what I think.

And truthfully, if this is also you, how many times are those decisions based on what others think?

I could have not gone to the record fair yesterday, despite my largest passions being literature and music, all because out of the hundreds of people in the Erasmus group I asked nobody wanted to come or could have come. But I still went. I may have browsed the boxes alone, I may have looked a little lost, maybe even out of place. But it made me truly happy, and I felt not only entirely in my element, but me. Not focussed on the thoughts or judgements of others.

If today, I had thought for a moment about what I was comfortable in, rather than what others would think of my bare legs which rarely get a chance to see daylight, maybe I would have had a positive day like yesterday. But because I cared so much about what other people thought, it happened to ruin my day a little, all for the sake of what would make other people happy.

And it’s at this point, it’s important to ask yourself. What makes me happy? 

One of my favourite quotes from the Lion King (my all time favourite film, no shame!) “Remember who you are.” – Because the moment you forget, you become someone you’re not, or begin to strive to become someone you’re not in order to either fit in or impress others around you. But it also forces you into an uncomfortable zone of feeling like in order to be accepted you have to be someone other than yourself.

After watching a TEDx talk tonight on YouTube, a quote that has been imprinted in my brain went along the lines of “you should show yourself unconditional love.” While I’m glancing at my fat spreading thighs, slightly hairy, complete with stretch marks, why am I wearing these shorts? Because it’s 30 degrees, and despite what other people may have thought about my legs today, the important notion to gather from this is when am I going to be happy with myself, and how can I achieve that. People come and go in life, the best of those stay. But you will always be there for yourself. If there is anyone that you should be showing unconditional love to, it’s yourself. Did my friends judge my legs? Maybe, but I will never know about it, and the only person who truly beat me up today for my legs, was me.

So, remember who you are, do things that make YOU happy. Don’t wonder if someone likes you, wonder if you like them. Do the things you love, and be the way you want to be. The paranoia comes and goes, and it’s a challenge to learning to love something you loathe for the fear of other people not liking it. But I believe you’re awesome, and we are awesome. Show yourself some appreciation, but also don’t fear being who you are for the sake of others. Because being you is beautiful.

Whim xoxo

In Private – 447 Words Today

You know things have gone wrong when the only moments you can truly cry, are alone, on the 5am bus back home. These are the only moments I can truly look into myself and realise I’m entirely deprived of privacy, and I can look into how I really feel. I replay all the moments I ever cried, as much as I’m crying now. All those times I ever had to say goodbye. All the times I have ever been hurt. And then just as those thoughts get deeper and I can finally sink into my inner pain to resolve what the hell is going on I’m interrupted by a group of four drunk girls, smelling of bakery food, gossiping. And then my privacy ends. I don’t know when I’ll get it again. Usually in the moments I stay up til 2am when my room-mates are officially asleep and unable to hear my sniffles or weeps. If not then, then in the shower while I Feel Fine by The Beatles blares and my tears can mingle with the sulphur drizzled water. My most prized possessions are my health and happiness. And apart from those, when they are on the low side, my prized possessions are my smoke and mirrors. Without them, people would be able to see deep into the core of my unhappiness. People might worry.

The stupid part is that I know they are already worried, it’s just I know if they knew the extent of my feelings that they would be even more worried. To be in a situation where you need a constant emotional escape, and to have no where to do that apart from in the extremely lucky moments of the night is a shame. It’s a shame towards my sleeping pattern, granted. It’s a shame further towards my well being because I’m only getting worse. Although, when I do talk about my problems to others, I all of a sudden grow numb. It’s only really while I’m alone that I find myself struggling to hold back the tears.

Annoyingly, there are even strangely times I wish I could express my emotions in front of others. It used to be such an easy task. But my body has just gotten so used to yearning for privacy when I need to cry and express those emotions in such a way, that it has become nature to only expose my raw emotions when I have the world around my and my head to myself. I’m finding being alone a beautiful sanctuary regardless of it’s negatives currently, these moments are just so hard to grasp in a time when I need them the most.

Whim xoxo

 

Womanly Ways – Random 250 words (another poor excuse for my 500 words a day)

Yesterday was international woman’s day, and to celebrate I watched my favourite speech regarding feminism. It’s by Chimamanda – I’m sure you’ll know it, if not, no worries, the youtube link is right here and you can buy the speech on amazon in book form. The thing is, it’s almost as if international woman’s day came to me as a blessing, like I needed to revisit that speech to understand current life situations and make a decision. And then I realised, I needed reminding of so many things I should have already known.

  1. To be happy, and to not listen to the social stereotypes of my being, but to take charge in achieving what I want in life and what I know is going to make me happy.
  2. I don’t need to have anyone give me my happiness, but true happiness only comes from myself. If I can find happiness in myself and on my own without relying on anyone else, I can achieve the happiness I’ve been yearning for.
  3. I am deserving of respect.
  4. I am only as powerful as I make myself and let myself to be.
  5. I shouldn’t ever hide my anger, because I’m a woman and I should think it important to be liked by others.

It’s about time I didn’t just remember this every so often, but made it a life change to know it. And I believe others should, too.  Don’t settle for being in pain, and cracking. Settle for realising and then harnessing happiness while you still can.

Whim xoxo

Love Yourself; Training Yourself Into Body Confidence

I don’t even have to look at my body to tell you all of the things I don’t like about it. Because I’ve told myself about the things I don’t like about it so many times. I’ve had self confidence issues for as far as I can remember, all the way from tap dance class when I was about 7 and I felt embarrassed to be seen in a leotard, because I was fatter than all the other girls.

  1. I don’t like my nose, it’s crooked and large.
  2. I don’t like my toes, they’re so big they blister.
  3. I don’t like my tum, it’s flabby and jiggles.
  4. I don’t like my bum, it’s not rounded or toned.
  5. I don’t like my boobs, they’re too far apart.
  6. I don’t like my skin, it’s sugar skin that’s grey and sags, full of spots and wrinkles already.
  7. I don’t like my cheeks, I’m always chubby.
  8. I don’t like my hair, I dyed it too much and now it’s ruined.
  9. I don’t like my lips, I wish they were fuller.
  10. I don’t like my body hair, its everywhere and is a constant daily task to get it away.
  11. I don’t like my thighs, they’re too blubbery.
  12. I don’t like my eyes, they’re too small.
  13. I don’t like my eyebrows, I have crows feet and the hairs grow upwards.
  14. I don’t like my fingers, they’re too short and stubby.
  15. I don’t like my size, I wish I was a bit taller.
  16. I don’t like my body shape, I find it really difficult to buy jeans.
  17. I don’t like my smile, I can’t smile with my teeth.

But everyone has insecurities. That’s just looking at my body. I have personality insecurities, things I do I wish I didn’t, and I’m also pretty sure I’m not alone. This isn’t just a teenage thing, insecurities pass throughout life and they’re always there. There are parts of your body that can change (I don’t agree with surgery, I think it should only be used for super serious cases but if you’re stupidly unhappy about something to the point where it ruins your everyday, that’s your choice if it’ll make you happier!). You can wear make-up to feel happier. Go to the gym to tone up. But ultimately, you’re only as beautiful as you let yourself be. Everyone is different, everyone has insecurities. Learn to love them. Learn to love yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice, if we all just told ourselves the things we love about ourselves as often as we tell ourselves the things we hate?

  1. I like my nose, I can flare my nostrils and the rest of my family have it the same shape.
  2. I like my toes, they serve me well and are so short and stubby they never get stubbed.
  3. I like my tum, I have a great belly button, it all just needs a bit of toning.
  4. I like my bum, It’s a big wide bum that would look great if I exercised more.
  5. I like my boobs, they look great in or out of a bra, no matter if I don’t have wonderbra cleavage 24/7.
  6. I like my skin, it’s real skin that gives me issues so I can learn to look after it.
  7. I like my cheeks, I have cute little dimples all of the time!
  8. I like my hair, I just need to look after it, but it grows quickly!
  9. I like my lips, they’re never dry or crackly.
  10. I like my body hair, it gives me an excuse to buy lush things and have a long hot bath to shave it all off. Plus I could grow a tash greater than any man has witnessed if I felt like it.
  11. I like my thighs, they’re great for balancing cups and bowls. It’s an art.
  12. I like my eyes, my Mum has always told me they look like malteasers.
  13. I like my eyebrows, they’re like Keira Knightly’s.
  14. I like my fingers, I have my Mum’s fingernails, they type well and quickly, plus I always have an excuse to compare hand sizes and have a Disney Tarzan moment more often than most people!
  15. I like my size, it means I can fit into small spaces easily during hide and seek games, and my arms fit into pringles tubes so I can always reach the blighters stuck at the bottom. Talk about survival of the fittest.
  16. I like my body shape, I’m a pear, according to Gok. Who needs jeans when leggings exist that flaunt my curves!
  17. I like my smile, because it’s my smile, and as long as it shows people I’m happy it does a wonderful job.

Make a list of all the things you don’t like about yourself, and then change the sentences to why you do like those things like I have done so above. Have a think, and be positive. Learn to love your insecurities and your imperfections – they are what make you, you! and you’re only human. Being more confident, doesn’t mean being in a different body, or having other people tell you what is good and bad about you. Those opinions and people will come and go, and everyone will think something different. The only constant is you. You always had every reason to feel happy and confident in your own skin. It’s what you make of it that determines whether you do or not. I’m telling you today, give yourselves more credit. Love yourself. – Sings ‘I Feel Pretty’ from West Side Story into the distance –

Whim xoxo

 

Apparently, My Feminism Jumper Won’t Attract Future Husbands?

As some of you may be aware, I am ‘Serbian’. To be specific, I am British with family members from Former Yugoslavia. If you want to be REALLY specific about my family, they are Croats who are actually Serbs because they were Serbs born in Croatia and for all we flipping know my ancestors were Turkish, and before that African, and then if you want to add religion into the mess, from Adam and Eve. And if you haven’t gathered by now – no I have no opinion in the politics of Yugoslavia, and my ethnicity is so confusing to explain that it’s just simpler to call myself human – just like everyone else on this planet.

But my Balkan bloodline comes with a whole lotta culture to it, and what happens to be included in that is anti-feminism, and namely sexism. Do you wanna know how many times I’ve been told to get married as soon as I graduate in the space of 48 hours? 7 times. No I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been told by 7 Balkaners, family or family friends, “When are you getting married then?” “oooh it’s good you’re graduating soon, you can marry!” “have you met any nice future husbands in Serbia to marry once you’ve graduated?” “You and your boyfriend will marry at about 22, that’ll be nice for you when you’ve graduated.” NO NO NO NO NO AND NO!

Do you wanna know how many times my brother has been asked or told when to get married in the past 48 hours? 0 times. Not once. Nobody has asked him. Why haven’t they asked him? He is only two years younger than me, 18, I’m pretty young at 20 so there isn’t much difference between our ages. The only thing I can truly whittle all this down to is the fact I am, a balkan woman. And as a balkan woman, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie refers to in that all famous feminist speech (y’all know the one I’m talking about!) marriage is the most important thing in my life as a woman. I MUST aspire to marriage, because I am a woman, and that is allegedly my main purpose in life as this gender.

It is firstly, entirely unfair, for any young person to be told how they should live their life and what are good and bad choices for them to make. I was told tonight, that I should become a doctor. So, the same man that told me to get married, and that being a feminist would lower my potential in finding a husband, that I should become a doctor. Hey, at least he is all about women doctors(!) but I am doing entirely the wrong degree to be a doctor, and right now I don’t want to be a doctor. So why should I be told what to do, and what would be the least disappointing thing for me to do in his eyes?

Everyone is entitled to their own choices in life. Nobody should be told how to live their life, and people should be free to be able to do whatever they want and feel like. It’s that persons life, not yours, there is no need to dictate it, you go ahead and live your own and don’t push your own expectations of other people onto them. Nobody deserves to feel like they should please people to be successful, but to please themselves only in order to be truly happy and successful.

Secondly, it is also unfair to be made to feel like a disappointing woman, for both being a feminist and not wanting to marry at the age of 22, or to have marriage as my main goal in life. Tonight, I wore a jumper. It says…

FEMINISM- The radical notion that women are people.

At first, yes, it’s a kick up the bum to anti-feminists, so apologies I didn’t have my rack out instead like a good woman should or focus on wearing something that people would like. Personally, I don’t find the jumper offensive. I find it amusing, and great at the same time, and hope it just makes people look at it and have a bit of a think. I mean, there are definitely worse things you could have on a jumper. Like racist, sexist, derogatory comments and all sorts more.

I was laughed at for my jumper. “Feminism!? Oh no not that…” (by a woman) and the highlight of comments “Well, just for some advice you won’t attract many men with that jumper.”

q1: So my one purpose in life is to attract men now? I can’t have equal rights, opinions or wear what I like because my purpose is to attract men and by wearing this jumper it stops that from happening.

q2: You’re about 56 years old, and you think it’s socially appropriate to tell a stranger who is 20 years old you’re offensive “advice”, what?

q3: So wanting equal rights is unattractive?

q4: So if I came to this party with my rack out, people would be elated to know at least I didn’t wear this jumper?

I do believe, it is a common thing in balkan culture, as I’ve experienced from my own upbringing and personal accounts with my family to be very male-dominant. Women are joked about, deeply sexualised and are shown that they should be constantly in the kitchen, it’s ‘their role’ as women. Men are the head of the house.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and this post won’t appeal to everybody. This is just a post, on a whim as my blog consistently is, saying that being a feminist in a balkan cultured family – sucks. I replied in jest to that man, and said “Well, the men that aren’t attracted to me by my jumper alone are obviously not my type of men.” 

I don’t want to be told what my main priority in life should be, and I especially don’t want to be told it’s to get married. I am not disappointed in myself, despite maybe disappointing many members of my family that this isn’t my main ambition in life. I also don’t want to be told what to wear, specifically because it’s unattractive to the opposite sex and thus be told that I should consider how attractive I look to the opposite sex when I decide what I wear for the day, as if that too is a priority. 

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But nobody is entitled to dictate how other people should be living their life, what they should believe or think. And nobody should share their utter disappointment in you for not being what they personally deem is the right thing to be. That counts for ALL cultures and ALL people.

I’m a proud feminist, and I will disappoint you’re expectations of me as a woman and as someone undergoing higher education. I like my jumper, and I don’t have a life plan. And for that, I’m not sorry. Not one little bit.

Whim xoxo 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

In my younger years I wasn’t one for being disobedient, reckless or out of character. But since I’ve got older I’ve found that being disobedient, reckless and out of character can be an extremely fun thing to do every once in a while. Sometimes we all just take life way too seriously sometimes, and as said in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – and the quotation couldn’t be more precise. 

If you’ve never seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, please watch it. It’s an 80’s movie about a kid who decides to skip school for the day and drags his best friend along with him. They go through some extremely crazy and reckless situations in the day to which point they had ultimately had one of the best days of their entire lives, and a very memorable one too. There is a huge contrast between Ferris and his best friend Cameron though. Ferris hasn’t a care in the world. Cameron stresses about every single move they make that day and struggle to find the fun until the end of the film.

Some days, a lot of us probably find ourselves like Cameron. Too nervous to do something out of character, or reckless. But those are the moments that make great memories to store and share for the future, all the times that you went and did something purposefully to have fun. I always think of this in relation to missing classes. I never used to miss classes, until first year of university. Then I missed a few in second year but not too many – but most of those times I was ill and bed-bound or did nothing productive for the entire day. However since being in Serbia on my year abroad, I’ve actually been purposely missing days of classes in order to do something productive or to go out and have fun. And I can’t explain so much how proud I am of being able to do that!

At the end of the day, think of all the times you could of gone out and made the most of the gorgeous weather to go and have fun? All the experiences you could of had? The things you and your friends could of done in the day? And that day could give you the biggest smile – which is the most valuable thing of all. I’m not saying miss every class you have to do something entirely illegal and reckless, of course! I’m saying, allow yourself to have fun once in a while. You deserve it, and if you don’t take the moment while it’s there who knows when you’ll ever have that chance again.

Go out and have some fun, sometimes we all just need to stop and take life a little less seriously once in a while!