THE WOMEN

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Women are strange creatures, I’m not afraid to admit that.

We say that we’re fine when we’re just about ready to burst into tears or throw something at the wall. We can text our friends for 16 hours and still find stuff to talk about when we meet for dinner later that evening. We tend to own a ridiculous amount of something we like, be it lipsticks, shoes, skateboards or vinyls. We fixate. We work out what we adore and then love it to death.

We have in-built alarm bells that tell us if you’re a bad egg, our ability to multitask is second to none and we just sort of… know when something’s not right.

We push something the size of watermelon through something the size of a lemon (thanks for that one, ‘Look Who’s Talking’), we bounce back from the bad times and we bleed for five days a month and don’t die.

But more than anything?

We’re fucking resilient. We have been fighting the battle for gender equality for decades and we won’t stop until we get what we want. Or rather, need.

However, despite our strength and persistence, I know that there are those of you who aren’t quite sure what we’re still fighting for. Many of you are left stumped as to what else we could possibly want; after all, we can vote now…

And what do I say to that?

Go and pick up a newspaper or talk to someone with a vagina.

Not only are we struggling in western society to have our voices heard, to make sure that we’re being paid the same as our male colleagues and to eradicate sexual and street harassment, but women on a global scale are suffering in ways that we can’t even imagine- and guess what? We ain’t quitting until every girl is offered a worthy education, until women are allowed to wear what they please without being objectified and until sexual pleasure for women becomes a right, not something that can brutally be taken away using a dirty scalpel and bad intentions. Basically, we just want women around the world to be treated equally – not better than – men around the world. But apparently, this won’t happen until 2133 if we don’t actively campaign for progress, starting now.

Think about all of the wonderful women who have shaped who you are today. Think about the struggles they’ve faced, that you’ve faced together. And then think about what you can do to stop our current, unjust normality from affecting your children – sons included – because I believe that as long as women are at a loss, so are men too. Both genders offer different strengths and by working together, we can move mountains. Or – more realistically and beneficially – cure cancer, explore the universe hand in hand and generally make the world a happier (and more peaceful) place, side by side.

I’m not doubting how great men are. That’s not what feminism is about. But today is about womankind and I think it’s important to take some time to celebrate us in all our glory and make that (hopefully final) push towards global equality.

We might come in many shapes, colours and sizes, but our bodies are machines; we can sometimes be a little insecure about the way we look (although that will change once attitudes towards us change); we can be sensitive, insensitive, hairy, scary, fearless, fearful and everything in between. These are all things to celebrate today, not berate.

Just because the shackles have been loosened, ladies, that doesn’t mean that we’re free. We can still feel the cold metal resting – albeit loosely – around our ankles and that just isn’t enough for me. And neither should it be for you.

Men say that we are hard to work out. And I quite like it that way.

Once you let us live as you do, only then will we let you know the true magic that lies within us.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY EVERYONE!

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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So you’ve made it to the end of the week. Well done. Here are some interesting reads, from the past 7 days, for you to enjoy.

If you love love.

Why man buns might not be so hot right now.

Twenty something virgin?

Photographs of yesteryear.

I’m not lonely, I’m single.

How to be brave.

A weepy one.

Industrial Farming.

Freezing Eggs and Mr Right Now.

Was carnival fun this year?

Depression.

A thought on religion.

A must see.

Have a good one.

X

The Confidence

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Bar that one time in primary school when I panicked about going it alone and made my dad endure an hours-worth of circle time as he dropped me off for school, I was a quietly confident child.

Although shy, I was unafraid to hold elaborate birthday parties, send the boy I fancied a love letter and take exams way beyond my capacity. This glorious self-belief continued into my stint at an all-girls Catholic school where I and a group of friends were involved in everything; from the Duke of Edinburgh Award and school productions to learning sign language and attempting circus skills. I was utterly fearless of failure, even in four foot stilts.

Then came sixth form. The lower part of the school was made up of around 800 sexually charged teenage boys and the upper sector was a killer combination of sexually charged teenage boys and girls. With this transition came my first boyfriend, my first break-up, my first falling-out with friends, my first E-grade in a real exam and my first proper hangover. From this point I began to realise that life threw challenges at you and ‘failure’ wasn’t just a made-up word whether I liked it or not.

So as I embarked on my gap year and university adventure, I attempted to shun the capacity for failure and invented the “do-it philosophy”. I decided that I would say yes to everything that I wanted to, even if I was terrified. And to this day, 2008 was one of the best years of my life. Since then, I’ve had numerous jobs, paid a ridiculous amount of money for a degree in English, remain hopelessly unemployed and have had my heart broken. This has resulted in me being the person I am today: someone with lots of strings to my bow but without the confidence to fire the arrow.

For me, confidence has dwindled with time. For others, it’s been quite the opposite, which has led me to question: on the whole, does confidence soften or strengthen with age?

There’s the wonderful misunderstanding of what it means to fail in youth but then there’s the glorious realisation with age that a mistake is only as huge a deal as you make it. Or you let others make it. I’ve realised that the basis for confidence is your perception of other people’s reactions to you. If you quit your job for the right reasons, you’ll always assume everyone thinks you’re a failure. They don’t. They just want to make sure you’ve made the right decision. If you have the confidence to realise that you alone have the ability to rectify your mistakes, support your choices and make them work, you will be fearless and fabulous all at once. But don’t forget, there’s a pretty nifty safety net in the shape of your closest friends to catch you, if not.

No one has ever told me that I’m ugly; I have never been bullied and have always been pretty successful when it comes to exams and job applications. But something inside me has snapped along the way and hasn’t ever quite been fixed. It’s clear that my confidence fell after my first experience of failure. I began to put up a guard because I suddenly knew what disappointment felt like. So now, I’ll try something new. And that will be to forget failure and remember success. This way, nothing but confidence will survive.

So I’m going to embrace the ethos of my inner five year old and quite literally dive in head first. But I’ll bring with me the precautions that come with experience and I’ll probably test the water first. I’m also more likely to wear goggles, just in case.

I think confidence is something that most struggle with and perhaps we feel that we were more confident at various stages in the past when we were “happiest”. In reality, we’re all just a little bit scared. But with the help of make up or a pair of ray-bans, our game face has been strengthened and we’ve realised what brings out our inner confidence. Whatever that is, wear it well and remind yourself of how good you are at being you.

After all, you’ve made it this far and you’ll probably look back in years to come and envy the person you are today.

Go in for the kill with confidence. You’ll never look back.