An Open Letter to You

Dear you,

There’s no such thing as a waste of an experience. Or a period in time. Or your life. You cannot live your life without personal growth and development. And you cannot live without impacting upon others. So there is no waste. Unless you live in a hole, with no outside interaction it is literally impossible. And even then – if you allow yourself to learn new things and think new thoughts, you are simply not a waste of space, or of anybody’s time.

It is easy to think that if you don’t achieve what you set out to, or are going day-to-day without striving for any new goals, or without any major life changes, that you are wasting your time. That you should be doing something more. More important or impressive or useful. But sometimes we all need a break. Sometimes it’s a day or two. Sometimes a year, or even more.  Studying for years and doing nothing resembling your qualification, isn’t a waste – it’s personal growth, determination and self-reflection. It is the able to re-evaluate your life and all you’ve learnt and decide that, maybe that’s not what you want after all and that’s okay.

It is so essential that you let yourself take the time that you need to sort through everything. You need to let yourself remember what it is that you truly want, and learn how to make yourself happy again. It is too easy to go through life doing only is expected of you, or what you think you should be doing, without asking what it is that will actually make you happy. It is so easy to pin your hopes on the next thing, and the next after that; “I’ll be happy after I leave school”, “I’ll be happy after I get a car”, or find a partner or get a full-time job or whatever it is. It is so easy in this way to let life pass by without being happy with what you have and who you are in that very moment.

And easy too, is to compare ourselves to others, seeing that we are underachieving, or worthless compared to them. But any comparison that you draw to another is unfair on you. There is no one else on this little blue planet who is you.  Nobody has the same life, experiences, thoughts and feelings as you. Even if you are in outwardly similar positions, there is no knowing what is actually going on. If you see them as successful compared to you in one aspect, it is unbelievable they are more accomplished in every aspect. And even supposing that maybe (impossibly) they are, who is to say that they are happy and don’t look at others the way you view them?

As cliché as it is, you really do only get one shot at being alive, so you must try to be you. By attempting to be somebody else, you are depriving yourself, and the rest of the world of the chance of seeing who you can really become. And you know what, it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to feel lonely, or sad, or frustrated – they deserve to be felt too (didn’t you learn anything from Inside Out?)

Suppressing emotions never ends well and only leads to more heartache further down the track. Let yourself feel. But then do something about them. Talk to a friend, watch your favourite movie, write it all out. Do not let yourself sit in your pyjamas pretending like everything’s fine for the fourth day in a row, without trying to help yourself. If you do not ask for help or support, people will assume you don’t need it. But everyone needs it at some point. And that is very okay. It is only human. We all hurt, we are all damaged and flawed. But we can all help each other. And that’s the best part.

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Disclaimer: This is mostly a letter to myself, these are the important things I need help remembering sometimes. I am sorry it is so ramble-y. 

Eligible || July Review

EligibleEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a modern American retelling of Austen’s perennial favourite Pride and Prejudice. Set 200 years later and in Cincinnati, it was such fun to revisit Liz Bennet, one of the most loved heroines in English literature.
Pride and Prejudice has been retold so very many times that I was worried Sittenfeld would struggle to do anything new with the source material, and either mirror another adaptation too closely, or stray so far from the original that I would have to dig deep to find any similarities. In fact, neither of these happened at all. Eligible managed to, at once, remain true to both the plot and the personalities of the whole cast of characters, and remain surprising by the way the plot points of the original translated into the modern world.
In this version, journalist Liz and yoga instructor Jane move back home for a few months after Mr Bennet has a heart attack. Mr Chip Bingley is a doctor at the local hospital after a failed stint on ‘Eligible’ (Sittenfeld’s barely-masked version of ‘The Bachelor’). Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy is the sexy new-in-town brain surgeon from a family of money but with a complete lack of social etiquette. And so, Pride and Prejudice unravels itself. Each character is familiar and yet new. Everyone has been updated but remain true to who they were originally supposed to be. It makes perfect sense in the 21st century that Mrs Bennet would spend all her time catalogue-shopping in front of reality television; that Kitty and Lydia would be Crossfit lovers and spurn the non-believers; and that Liz wouldn’t want children.
(view spoiler)
The thing that was handled poorly in this novel, would be the representation. Sittenfeld tried to update this novel by including characters with various sexual/gender/racial identities, and ones dealing with various mental health problems, which is great. Diversity and representation is wonderful, in theory. However, Sittenfeld doesn’t explore or resolve these issues well at all. Under the guise of (particularly) Mrs Bennet’s blatant and overarching ignorance, the non-cis/straight/white characters are underdeveloped, with their diversity often being their only defining characteristic. (view spoiler)
However, I found this book a wonderful, light, hilarious at times holiday read. It was generally well written and I thoroughly enjoyed this new take on things. It was a quick read due to Sittenfeld’s propensity to write in very short chapters (over 180 in this book!), but also due to her wit and charm. Even though I knew how it would all pan out in the end, I found it very hard to put Eligble down.

I received my copy of this novel as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.

View all my reviews

All around the World

The Internet can be a really great place for a great many things. And friendships is one of them. Of course everyone uses the Internet to keep in contact with their ‘real life’ friends, and to stalk people they met at a party/ kindergarten but haven’t spoken to since (no shame, we all do it). But making brand new friends? Stranger danger! All those online safety seminars from school start to trigger something way in the back of your mind that, perhaps, this isn’t the best idea.

But maybe it is.

Imagine this – you have a friend who you talk to literally every day, you let each other into your respective lives and you find you have lots in common and a real connection. You support each other through everything and it becomes a real solace knowing that you can just pick up your phone and they’ll be there. Wouldn’t you want a friend like this?? Or, if you have one already– another?

The only problem is, that maybe, they live in another city, country, maybe a different continent even. But with the wonderful World Wide Web right here for us, why should we let a few thousand kilometres get in the way?

This is what happened to me! Three years ago, I sent a little message reaching out to someone I followed on Tumblr. On my England trip earlier this month, I was sleeping in her house. In the interim we shared practically everything with each other. We bonded over music and books initially, but soon we were sharing advice and our days and just being great pals. The 17,000ish km proved little barrier to our friendship. Sure the nine hour time difference meant that we were each usually asleep for the majority of each other’s day, but that just means we made time in the mornings and nights.

I was so excited and nervous when they day came to finally meet Lauren, my boyfriend tried in vain to calm me down. After three years, it seemed like we knew each other so well on the inside. But I didn’t even know how tall she was! It was quite an odd experience, but so wonderful. I cried when I got there and I cried when I left. It was so very special to actually be in the same room together, this person who knew me so well – and we finally got to have a conversation with no screen between us.

We are just like old-school pen-pals but in the digital age, although we occasionally do send physical post. We have learnt so much from each other – both on a geographical / cultural level, and on a personal level. I’ve learnt to how to be present without being present. And we still discover differences between our societies all the time (who would have thought England would be that different to Australia?)

In short, be smart – don’t give out personal info to complete randoms on the Internet – but friendships that you make can be some of the best you have. I’m sure we’ll be friends for a very long time yet.

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My beautiful friend Lauren and I in her town.