Thursday, 17 January 2013

Outcasts and girls with ambition (and my eyebrows) that's what I wanna see

Years ago, when Mlle Awesome was not even a full day old, my father took us to the hospital to meet her. My mother took one look at me and demanded to know what I had done to my face. My father and siblings stared at me bemused ..that is until my mother pointed out that I had shaved off half my right eyebrow.  Literally. I remember, that at this age I hated my bushy eyebrows but I couldn't figure out how other girls and women got their eyebrows to look so nice. I knew that razors removed hair, voila! I had removed half of mine before getting cold feet and was easily reassured that there was no difference when my family didn't seem to notice.

Nowadays, I have long since gone through life not really caring about my eyebrows. Ever so often I will look at them, smooth them out and, even occassionally, lament their bushiness. When this happens, most of the time I do nothing to try and fix them. I have let my sister pluck my eyebrows before - she got one hair out and I decided plucking was not for me. Another time, just before my sister's wedding, we were at a beautician who couldn't believe we would't want anything done with our eyebrows...and she proceeded to "shape" them despite our protests. I am not very girly when it comes to make up and getting manicures, massages etc. I have had my nails done a few times, and I have enjoyed getting them done, but I have never thought of going by myself to get it done - I've always ended up going because a friend was going. I don't wear make up on a daily basis because that means getting up earlier - I just about wake up as it is!
Despite my normal lack of grooming, I have recently dabbled in some ...and only because of the challenge of stepping outside my normal comfortzone.
Whilst my mother has (correctly) pointed out this really isn't that much of a challenge - it's not like I ran a marathon! However, it was a small step out of my comfortable existence and did involve pain! Rest easy folks, this is not a tale of a Brazilian, read on!
One of my friends has her sister visiting her at the moment and last week we were all at dinner together at another friends apartments. After dinner, our host sat down with her head lying back on her bed whilst the sister sat over her, pulled out some thread and began threading our hosts eyebrows. This girl was squeezing my hand, tears running down her face as she whimpered little mewls of pain. After she braved her way through this, another girl decided to try it. She was much more stoic but I sat in shock as both she and our host suggested that I get my eyebrows threaded. After protesting, and jokingly threatening to lock myself in the bathroom rather than do that, I proceeded to explain that I could not understand volutarily inflicting cosmetic pain on myself.
However, I was dared, challenged to at least get the middle bit between my eyebrows done. As I debated, my friend, whose sister was doing the threading, was recounting horror stories of her own about threading. Accepting the challenge I leaned back and was pleasantly surprised that the middle bit was not painful -  a little twinge sure, but nothing I couldn't handle. Thinking this would be a piece of cake after a few mintues of recovery decided to get my eyebrows done as well. I won't lie, my eyebrows were waaay more painful than that middle part but overall it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be as I only had tears running down my face and managed to survive without any whimpering!
Would I do it again? Probably not! I don't like having to do that maintenance. Would I recommend anyone to get it done? Definitely not! You can try it if you want but I will not be the person you point the finger of blame at so you can say "She told me to do it!" I believe in low-key maintenance. I realise as I get older this may be a problem. However, despite the fact I don't wear make up and  have no interest in consistent grooming, I have been told that I don't look much older than 25. Considering I'm now 30, I consider this quite an achievement . As Pink says " I'm so glad that I'll never fit in. That will never be me". I'm not and will never be one of those girls obsessed with make up, clothes and consistently looking good. When I go out, I make an effort but on a daily basis I prefer to present my actual self to the world. What you see is pretty much what you get. This may be the wrong attitude but I won't deny what I look like, warts and all.

Here in Korea, I got my photo taken for my visa for when I go on vacation. I don't look like me because here they airbrush your photos. I look as if I am wearing make up and that I have flawless skin. It looks like me but reminds me of the first time I wore make up which was when I was in college and one of my friends did my face for me. I was out at Rileys (the only club in town) and as I walked past a mirror I thought to myself "Wow, that girl is wearing the exact samething as me!" only to realise that was me. On closer inspection she looked like me but at the same time...not.

So you might think I'm mad that I prefer to be a girl who isn't into make up or grooming. (And, let us be clear, I am not judging anyone who is ... that is for them to decide) I much prefer to spend the time that I have doing something way more worthwhile..........sleeping! On a more serious note, this post was inspired by Pink's song "Stupid Girls" and I do believe that a trend has started where overall there is a lot more focus on how a girl looks rather than how she behaves. I need look no further than Korea - there is such an obsession with youth and beauty here that I fear that "outcasts and girls with ambition" will fall by the wayside. You don't need to be like me and not wear make up to be ambitious but it shouldn't be the only thing you are ambitious in. These days there is too much focus on looks, celebrity and that ever elusive 15 miutes of fame. I don't, and have never wanted, to be the next president or CEO...but we need people who do want this (boys  and girls alike). The only way we can achieve this is if we move away from this stupid encouragement of all things celebrity. Not everyone can be famous, not everyone can be president and, more importantly, not everyone should even attempt to do this. I used to like shows like America's got Talent or the Xfactor (British version) until I realised that they promote the vacuousness that is so prevalent in our cultures today. Where are the outcasts, the girls with ambition, the people who want to change the world, even just their tiny little bit of it? That's what I want to see.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

I hope I can make it feel like Christmas

My Christmas tree on Christmas Eve
Mince meat (non-alcholic and alcoholic)

It's hard to believe but over a year ago I began this blog. What's even harder to believe is that this blog is STILL in existence and has not diminshed to the sidelines like so many other literary efforts. What is even more surprising? I have found out that I actually like to write!

So much has happened in the last year. I could not have foreseen where 2012 was going to take me - I was too focused on the fact that I had just turned 29 and needed to make some sort of change in my life before I hit 30. I'm glad that I set this challenge for myself as turning 29 was one of the best things to have ever happened to me.

When I started this blog, I hadn't yet received my TEFL Qualification. Look at me now! Living and working here, friends from all over the world and a job I thoroughly enjoy. However, I am someone who very easily gets stuck in a rut. I don't always realise that I am stuck until something makes me open my eyes and ears. For example, for years my family had told me that they thought I was stuck in a rut in my old job. Not because I wasn't challenged there or because I wasn't enjoying myself, but because I had opted for security and stability instead of the adventures and dreams I once craved. Although I heard their words, I wasn't able to process them until the right moment, when I climbed out of the rut and back on the road. I don't like ruts...but unfortunately, they seem to like me!  Last year, I talked about how I wasn't doing any resolutions - well the reason being is because resolutions tend to become my ruts...and not in a good way. I fail in them too often and can't seem to become resolute again. Last year I set myself goals. This year, I plan on setting habits. Why?

Well, because I have family and friends who make it seem like Christmas even when [I] go wrong. They forgive and move on. They deserve a version of me who tries harder and does better. I have a nephew who is the light of my life. He may not have been in it for very long but he has made such a brilliant impression on it. I want him to know me at my best. It's because of him that I am in Korea. Not because I am at my best when I am nowhere near him, but because I can only be at my best if I begin to “live”. By staying in Ireland, in my old job, close to my family I was getting stuck in a rut and I couldn’t figure a way out. My nephew gave me the passport to live as I couldn’t (and can’t) bear the thought of letting him down. I want him to know me as someone who doesn’t let fear stand in the way of her dreams. I want him to know me as someone who is fun to be around. I want him to know me as someone who will love him and everyone around her with all that she has. I want him to know me as someone who is courageous, someone who dreams and someone who can rise to and succeed in any challenge that life sets her. In regards to my past, I have failed in this – all of this on so many occasions. Not because I don’t love my family or friends but because I hadn’t figured out how to make them “feel like Christmas even when things went wrong”. They (and my nephew) do this constantly for me but until I realized that I wasn’t doing it for them, I couldn’t achieve my own dreams. They deserve better than what I have given them these last 30 years. They have given me Christmas all year long and instead – I gave them winter far too often. So this year, you might think I’m mad, but I am going to strive to bring Christmas all year long. I don’t know yet, how I can achieve that but one thing is for sure – I need to start making the little things habits – habits for me to improve me and habits for me to improve the world. I need to start with myself – so here is my first attempt at starting a good habit and breaking one bad one: I am going to walk rain, snow, ice or shine for 10 minutes everyday once I am home from work. These 10 minutes can not form part of my current schedule (ie walking from the bus stop home). The bad habit I want to break: Being comfortable.
You might think I am mad to want to be uncomfortable – however that is not quite what I mean. What I mean is, I have become too comfortable in my life in Korea and me being comfortable equates to me slowly falling into a rut. So my life needs some shaking up. I am not sure how to shake it up but over the next months I want to try and do something different once a week – something I haven’t done before – whether it is to try some raw fish or yoga…I want to break my habit of being too comfortable in my laziness.

On a sidenote, people who make it feel like Christmas even when things go wrong: Well, nothing went wrong this Christmas – yes, I missed my family terribly. Yes, I wanted to be home. Yes, Korea doesn’t feel much like Christmas but the people who are here did. I have friends who are not even Christian, let alone Catholic, and they went above and beyond to make this Christmas special. My own family, despite the distance and time-zone differences, made this Christmas additionally special as I got to participate in our family’s traditional Kris Kindle and was able to open my present with the rest of them on my Christmas morning and their Christmas Eve. A friend, her brother and I went to Christmas mass in the white falling snow. A small group of us did our own Kris Kindle exchange and brunch in the morning and the evening brought together a group of 23. The people I have as friends here made me realize that even when things don’t go the way you want them to, you can still have Christmas! So here’s to great friends, amazing family and what are, hopefully, unbreakable good habits!  Bring it on 2013!

PS Inspired by Neil Diamond's "You make it feel like Christmas".