New editions

We’ve all said ‘new year, new me’ at every orbit the EARTH has made around the sun, even so, this phrase seems much easier said than done. Humans tend to over-celebrate the birth of a new year through excessive partying and celebration, yet struggle to realise that the new year is a celebration of the Earth- not you.

Yes, we can use this opportunity to turn over a new leaf; become better editions of ourselves. However, it’s the way in which we do it that matters the most.

“Time is relative, and flexible, the dividing line between past, present, and future is an illusion”

Time is merely just a social construct invented by the Egyptians to create order. We constantly live around deadlines such as submitting in work or even to catch the bus. In all honesty, these deadlines only exist to run a decently functioning world where disorder is prevented. We even set our own personal goals under deadlines which, when we don’t meet, gives an overwhelming feeling of failure. Following your life around deadlines can make your head burrow deep underground, often causing rushed work. This may make you miss out on opportunities and open paths to help you with your journey. Instead, we could create different versions of ourselves and learn from previous mistakes. Even if you feel as if your goal is still further from reaching distance after creating different versions of yourself, an open head and an open mind will allow you to venture into new realms and create better ideas.

Whatever time zone you may live in (on Earth), as individuals we should learn to live in our own time, working on individual goals at our own paces. Of course, at times there will be moments when we compare/get compared to people similar to us who have publicly achieved something. This should not hold you back. In fact, with hard work and determination, you could have anything you wanted and even more. With every mistake you make, a wiser version of yourself is created. Let’s not wait until a new year to turn over a new leaf. Take each day as it comes and every mistake as a learning curve. Add every achieved goal on to your timeline and soon you’ll flourish in success. Have a productive year!

Confronting an old friend

I recently met with a guy that I had dated for a while back when I was at school,  intending to ask him questions about the relationship we had. What I got from him was so personal that it made me reconsider everything about myself hence why I’ve been holding myself from writing this. This was 3 months ago:

It was a chaotic beginning to say the least. We had both arrived at opposite ends of the park and spent a good hour searching for each other. The butterflies were increasing by the minute as I checked my phone, only to receive a tonne of messages from him threatening to leave if I didn’t hurry up. I ignored them since I knew he wouldn’t have left until seeing me. I did find him, eventually, and he seemed to have calmed down from tone of his text messages, making me look like an idiot whilst I was profusely apologising to him. 

I felt safe under his presence, like I didn’t need to look after myself because I felt as if he was doing it for me. He was wearing his usual. Dark coloured jumper, jeans and the light-weight jacket with a sheen of lambency. I could’ve settled for the handshake but he went in for the hug. Just as well because the scent of his aftershave brought back moments of lust. Our relationship began during the school days. He says he noticed me in a maths class. One night, he finally plucked up the courage and messaged me with one of the most ridiculous pick up lines. Before this, I hadn’t even known of his existence. He told me he was drunk but I didn’t care, I liked him. I liked him because he noticed me. Nobody ever noticed me. As we walked under the bridges and along the emptying canals of East London, the sun was beginning to set but conversations only just beginning.

He told me how the failure of our relationship lay on faults of both of ours. Deep down, we both knew – know – that it was my fault. I continued to put him on a status above mine thinking he was far too good for me when the whole time, we were equal. Was it because he was white and that I belonged to an Asian minority? His confidence? Intelligence? Physique? All of this resulted to a feeling of anxiety and resentment in myself. He thought the relationship failed because of communication but really I had trouble communicating with myself. My mind, constantly competing with his gestures. He’s out with his friends today. Why aren’t I out with mine? Oh that’s right, I don’t have any. But he couldn’t know that. I put myself forward as an optimistic conversationalist which knowledge of politics and a tongue of witty sarcasm. He thought of me as a family girl, a vocal in the church choir, a giver. Really, I am all of those. But I failed with him. I gave him the right key to my heart but changed the locks just as he approached it. I was lost, broken, unfixable. All this I was realising during our meeting, all this he was completely oblivious to. All this he is still unaware of.

Barbie’s problem

A few weeks ago when I was teaching a girl no less than 10, I saw that her pencil case was covered with prints and stickers of Disney princesses. This for me brought back moments to reminisce. I picked up the case and fingered the outlines of it. How I used to look up to all these characters, creating shrines for them in my bedroom and dressing up like them for every birthday. Momentarily, I asked the girl who her favourite was. “Belle” she said. Then I asked her least favourite expecting a villain like Scar or Ursula. “Tatiana”, she said as if it were obvious enough. I asked why. Her response instantly brought me back from my reminiscent high. “Because she’s brown.”

“Brown, but you’re brown too?”. Bearing in mind that the girl, like myself originates from South Asia. “I’m not brown, I’m white” she said almost proudly. I ended the conversation right there. The last thing I wanted was to argue with a child. Her comment angered me but more importantly I was concerned to what made her think this way. What was so wrong with us Asians that made her want to deny the fact that she was brown?

This isn’t the first time that problems have arisen with diversity in fictional characters and toys for children. Take Barbie for example; the doll was first released in 1959 where is wasn’t really a problem for all dolls being identical in skin colour, hair or having the “perfect” body. It was a huge hit with young children and parents since birthday presents had just gotten easier.

The issue relies on the fact that young girls from across the globe will have been conditioned to think that beauty only lies within a woman of white skin, blonde hair and a body shape that is impossible and unhealthy to achieve. Studies show that 40% of children are dissatisfied with the way they look after having received a Barbie doll. This comes from a variety of reasons such as body image and skin colour. Although the demographic for the Barbie is well below the age of ten, the long term consequences are much more severe. Having worries about body image at a young age is more likely to lead to having disorders with eating, social anxiety and body dysmorphia. What Mattel failed to mention is that the real life size of Barbie is frankly impossible to achieve. According to calculations, the doll would have a dress size of 2, this being far below the average dress size of an adult and extremely unhealthy.

It took almost 60 years for Barbie to have a transformation. In 2016 Mattel created dolls with several skin tones and body shapes. One size certainly does not fit all and customers were given a choice of what kind of Barbie they could have. But was it 60 years too late? Barbie’s brand image will always be of a silicon plastic doll with white skin and blonde hair and not the diversity that has recently been introduced. So for the future, children will need to be brought up with the varied dolls, potentially reducing eating disorders in teenagers and a less conditioned vision of beauty.

Barbie body image

In light of world mental health day.

My mental health story. 

NOTE: (trigger warning*) Writing this piece brought back memories that I have hidden for a long time. I tried to make my stories as light as possible hence why it may sound trivial but there is a lot more to it of which I am not yet comfortable to share. I am not diagnosed with any mental disorder and please do not try and diagnose yourself. I try to better my mental state by writing things down or turning them into art like poetry. Please speak do to someone if you are going through a tough time.

My jet black leather-leather-bound journal. I was gifted this when I turned 10 and it didn’t really have a particular use. It’s been a holiday journal, drawing book and now it plays a role as my mental health diary.

Up until the age of 10, I would say that I was a very intelligent and likeable young girl. I was swimming for my local team, played a musical instrument, had lots of friends and was academically striving at school – you could say I was “perfect”, an all-rounder. The earliest memory of me breaking this character down was when all the girls in my class had started to eat a school dinner, leaving me as the only girl with a packed lunch. I was sitting on the grass, a few metres away from a large circle of boys when one shouted out to me ‘nerdy lesbian’. More awful words followed. In all fairness I didn’t know what most of them had meant so I was not bothered. 

The last year of primary school was possibly my worst. Let me give you a scenario: the girls in my class, my ‘friends’, formed a dance group and called themselves the ‘Golden Chicks’. Since I was always around them, I was appointed as their manager. I did everything they asked me to do from filling out their audition forms to spending a long time mixing their music which they could use to perform with. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me as odd when they would have sleepovers or group meetings without me. When I confronted them, the typical response would be “We’ll invite you next time” or “we’ll tell you about the meeting later”. What shattered me the most was when they used their own music to perform at the end of term assembly and had discarded mine completely. Things went from bad to worse when I was the only person in the class not to be invited to a birthday party. She kept telling me that she had forgotten to bring in my invitation and she would be sure bring it the following day. This never happened of course and it truly made me feel lonely at that moment in time. Over time, my personality changed from being bubbly and kind to angry and bitter. I was constantly jealous of everyone else being happy and enjoying their last few weeks of school. I really don’t know what came over me when I started stealing things from the sliding drawers of my classmates and put them in someone else’s drawer when nobody was looking so that they would get into trouble. Thinking about this almost a decade later, I think at first I was unintentionally bullied and isolated by my classmates. My personality before may have come across as cocky and overly passionate. The way I was treated gave me a negative attitude and turned me into a horrible person masking what I felt deep inside; having a constant urge to fit in with the people around me. 

I was accepted into a highly selective grammar school when I was 11. I went back to my old bubbly personality but my new found fear of loneliness still hung onto me. I made friends quickly, who did not judge nor tease me for being a ‘nerd’. There were times when my group of friends would make plans for the future to go to Cambridge university and live together. Then one would say “except for Thanucha obviously no offence”- meaning I was not clever enough. After this my lowest point was when I was 15/16 or so when my close-knit group of friends had cut me off completely and I had just been dumped from a year long relationship. I felt at my loneliest, I had nobody to hang out with during breaks as it was the last year of school and everyone already had their friendship groups. The place I felt safest was in the girls toilets on the far end of the school – where people don’t usually go to. The end cubicle was hidden away behind the door and was completely dark. It also had the best wifi connection so I was sorted for company. For a whole year, every lunchtime I would go to my cubicle, eat my lunch there and come out when the end of lunch bell rang. If I had work to do, librarian would let me work in the store room all because I did not want to be seen alone if front of my ex friends. Sometimes I would see them walking a few paces in front of me in the corridor which automatically made me turn around and walk the long way to my lesson. I started being late to school every morning  simply because then I wouldn’t have to do the daunting job of walking past all four of them to get to my seat in registration. During the holidays, I felt a huge sense of relief that I would no longer have to face anyone. However, I felt more and more depressed everyday. I would not shower for days at a time, there were times when I would no wear my glasses for days in a row so that essentially I would not have to see the world. I also self harmed a lot. Here is a short extract from my diary:

19th December 2015:

“Its nearly Christmas but I’m not excited as I usually am, I haven’t even bought anyone presents because I don’t care. Really, I wish my mind was more at ease, resting in peace…”

I kept my emotions between myself and my diary. I honestly don’t know how I came out of constantly feeling trapped and uneasy. If I knew how, I would say so but I don’t. I tried putting more effort into my schoolwork and fought off negative thoughts. My handwork paid off and I proved my doubters wrong. My mind is more at ease but some situations always make me feel uneasy. Like walking past a big group of people and being horrified at the fact that they might talk or laugh about you when actually most of the time they wouldn’t even notice that you’re even present. I now have a group of friends I can speak to and feel comfortable with. And as for feeling lonely, I have learned to enjoy my own company and forget about trying to impress anyone.