Sunday, 27 July 2014

Not Falling in Love

(Apologies in advance that this is going to be a bit long and a bit of a ramble because I'm just free writing and it's a bit of a mess to try and edit it)

One of my biggest fears in life is that I will never fall in love romantically. 
I'm nineteen and I've never even been close.

It feels like almost everyone I know that's my age or older (and younger in some cases D:) has been or is in love. It's not that I fear myself incapable of feeling strongly or caring genuine about someone, I just have only ever felt it in a platonic way; I love my family and closest friends deeply and care a lot about them but the closest I've been to being in love is the fantasy of it.

 In all of the relationships I have been (attempted to be) in, I have been the one who's lost interest. It seems as soon as I have (and take) the opportunity to be with someone I'm attracted to (both physically and because of their personality) I find they are not all the kind of person I am attracted to and I just...stop being attracted to them...with some I've just stopped liking them full stop.

Part of me thinks this is just because I've got into a couple of "relationships" I shouldn't really have gotten in to. Primarily this was because I knew I didn't really want a relationship at that stage - I still don't, I don't think - but I'd convinced myself that for this person I did, for this person I would make the effort. I would want to make the effort.

But, alas, no.

And the fact I'm not even all that sorry about it not working out, that I realised so early on that these weren't relationships I wanted to make the effort for, is the reason I worry. These are people I really liked before, people I really saw myself being with. People I could talk to for ages; it could be just the two of us and it not be awkward; people I would look forward to seeing. Then as soon as we'd been on a date or the joy of knowing they liked me back had worn off, I just felt....nothing. Just annoyance and slight resentment. This all just makes me think that the reason I worry I'm never going to fall in love is because I get bored of (potential) boyfriends so quickly. Someone said this to me once and I denied it profusely because I thought he'd got it all wrong - I hadn't got bored of them, I'd just realised we didn't have as much in common or as much attraction as I thought - but what if he was right? What if I'm going to be one of those people who never falls in love or has a long term relationship because they only want the chase and not the result?

It's not like any of this is a conscious effort. I do enjoy the build up, the flirting, the possibility, the wondering far more than I have enjoyed any (well maybe all but one) date I've been on but is that just because I was going on dates with the wrong guys? Or is it destined to stay like that? Does whatever weird mix of chemicals and consciousness that decides my emotions not have the capability of desiring anything more than the chase?

Maybe not, because despite all this I do crave some aspects of an established relationship: closeness, trust, being able to talk about anything from the most trivial to the most personal (and, of course, physical attraction). Maybe it's not the being in love bit I don't want but the preliminary bits that go into it - the getting to know each other part where each time you have to decide how much more to reveal about yourself. The effort, essentially. Without this, though, the love bit is obviously never going to happen.

So maybe this is all just immaturity? I know I have to put the effort in, I just don't want to. So in a few years, when I've gone to uni and matured (ha ha ha ha) and had a far larger pool of people to choose from than I've ever had (or am likely to have), I will find that guy who I like so much I will want to make the effort (?)

But as I said, I know all that already, that I have to put effort in and have never wanted to....So is that really immaturity? Or is it the wrong guys or is it the wrong me? Is it linked to the fact I don't have a particularly obsessive personality? I've never obsessively collected anything or got really obsessed with celebrities, etc because I just don't have that trait.  Is romantic love (or at least certain types of romantic love) just a form of obsession? If so, then I don't think that kind of love will ever be available to me (or anyone else lacking an obsessive trait). (Maybe that's not such a bad thing, though.)

So (not to repeat myself) maybe it really is just that I get bored of everything eventually; I always want to move onto something else, thus I've never been obsessed with anything. I want to move on to a new club, a new subject, a new story, a new hobby, a new idea so will this desire to move on will also apply to my dating life too? I hope not. I really don't want to be the kind of person who has to move on from every relationship because 'I've got all I can out of it'. I want to be the kind of person who finishes things, follows through but I'm having to fight myself for all of it. I only followed through with my A levels by not really trying after around February of second year and now I regret the fact I could have done better (not that I'm complaining about what I actually got!). I hate that part of myself, I really do but my motivation just goes from everything before I'm done with it (with the exception of reading a good book!), even if I was enjoying it to start off with. Falling in love is following through with someone and your feelings for them. It's following through with the emotion so that it doesn't evaporate when commitment is on the table. So will it always be a forced experience to follow through, even if it's for love?

I know I'm only young and I have (hopefully) many years of my life to work all this out and fall in love. I know that, having never been in love, I don't actually understand it or how it feels or works. I also know that falling in love is not the be all and all of life. I'm just scared of the possibility that I have an inability to ever experience it (being in love). I'm scared that I'll be lonely and be left out of the experiences of my peers because of it.  - it's hard not to when every piece of pop culture seems to revolve around people in love.

I really don't do well on my own.

I guess I'll have to learn to.

I'm not actively looking for a relationship right now and don't intend to start in the near-future, I just hope the situation changes eventually...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

What is a "hero"?: Lot's of questions, no actual answers

So, I walked the 10k Race For Life today for (if you don't know) Cancer Research UK.

My participation in the event evidently shows I am pro-fundraising events of this nature; mass participation makes sense if you want large numbers of people giving a relatively small (or not so small in some cases) amount of money adding up to one large sum. In an ideal world we'd all give as much as we could afford without prompt but as this doesn't work, fundraising events are the way to go.
I am aware of  how cancer (and other serious illnesses) affect both the patient and those who love them; obviously I don't want people suffering, but is everyone who raises money for research into cancer cures really a "hero"?

Dicitionary.Com defines "hero" as: "1.a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child."

Firstly, I'm not sure I really have my own definition for what a "hero" (or "heroine" if you want to go down that path) is (in a non-lead character sense). Whilst I don't disagree with the dictionary definition I'd certainly find it hard to apply to real life situations (as you will see) and I wouldn't use the word as freely as I have seen it used today. Is someone walking 10k and getting sponsored £30 comparable to the acts of other people defined as "heroes"? Is it comparable to someone fighting for their country or rescuing people from dangerous situations or a parent going hungry so their child/ren can eat? Most people would say no. These are extreme examples, yes, but my point is should the word "hero" be solely reserved for things of an extreme nature?

Does the frequent use of the word in a situation such as this diminish its value in the same way I feel the overuse of the words "tragic"/"tragedy" and "disaster" (amongst others) by the media diminish their value when genuinely horrible news is covered (war, mass loss of life, etc.)?

Is it just that I feel the word is overused because I would feel it misplaced if directed towards me? Sure, I feel pretty good knowing I'm helping a good cause and I hope the money I raised will be put to good use (I'm sure it will be) but on the scale of noble things achieved and achievable by human beings it hardly ranks highly. I am all for small and everyday acts of kindness and generosity (I wish I was better at it) but I feel the people that do these things aren't (primarily) doing them for the recognition, they're doing it for the cause - they don't necessarily want to be constantly called "heroes". Is there a better word or phrase we can use to show our gratitude to them without using the word "hero"?

Or is being a "hero" something totally relative to the situation? If, as in the dictionary definition, it is based on the opinion of others, does that mean that the participants in fundraising events are "heroes" to those working and hoping for cures and treatments? Thus, others naming myself and the rest of the participants in the race today "heroes" is completely justified if it comes from those benefiting from it.

If we run with this, then maybe it is always necessary to preface or qualify the "hero" to show an acknowledgment that it's all relative: "You're a hero to the people you are helping" "You've done something heroic" "You're a hero today" perhaps?

Then there's all the grey area, the huge spectrum of people between walking a few miles for sponsorship and the extreme examples I mentioned previously. When and where is it appropriate to name any of these people "heroes"? Do these people who arguably deserve the title more but are forgotten about because their efforts are less public?

What about celebrities who do (usually) sporting events for charities? Clearly these people feel strongly about the charity in question and if they inspire others to get involved that's commendable but should they be called an "inspiration" rather than a "hero"? Do they only get given the latter title because of their public profile?

Do you qualify for the title of "hero" only if you actively raise money for many causes? Or make an extra effort to spread the word about the importance of what you're raising money for? Or, more broadly, if you make a repeated effort to do more than the majority, for something which primarily benefits others? Basically: can heroism be defined persistent/widespread small and medium actions? Or is that something else?

Is it just silly to think that the word "hero" is overused or to try and define it too generally?
At the end of the day people make their own judgement as to whom they would view as a "hero" and whether or not they feel comfortable with the title for themselves.

The important thing is that people are helped by the actions of others, not what they are called for doing so.

So let's just let them get on with it.

Well done to everyone raising/donating money for/to any charitable cause, including all my fellow participants in Race For Life today.

To those working on a cure and  people who have fought/are fighting/will fight cancer and their friends & families, I truly hope the money raised will help.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

So Actually, My Life is Pretty Good

Although much of this content of this blog is likely to dwell on my fears, insecurities, stresses and inadequacies as a human being, I think it's wise to note that despite these things, my life is actually pretty darn good. Perhaps there are some of these things that we should all be more grateful for (in the UK) - healthcare,  peace, education*, perhaps everyone is and I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. Somehow I think not...

Here are some things that I personally am (very) grateful for:

  •  My parents (and by extension myself) are comfortably enough off.                                                                             
  •  I live in a peaceful (within itself, ha) democracy with free health care and education and a welfare state                                                                                                                                                      
  • I got good grades and am going to a good university.                                                                                    
  •  I have friends and family whom I love.                                                                                                                               
  •  I'm in good mental and physical health.                                                                                               
  • I have a long (though rapidly decreasing) summer to read and relax and enjoy the nice (if muggy) weather with my friends (if I actually motivate myself into organisation, which seems unlikely)                                                                                                                                                                          
  • I am only 66 days away from starting a university course for which I will become £54,000+  in debt. How is this a positive? Well, I will get the pleasure of moaning about being £54,000+ in debt whilst knowing that until (in the, most likely, distance future) I start earning £21,000+, I won't have to pay any of it back and it's highly unlikely I'll ever pay it all back...So hoorah! The best of both worlds...(The making students paying £9,000 a year is really paying off there, isn't it Government? Don't even get me started on the fact the maintenance costs are a more immediate factor in whether university is affordable)                                                                                                                                                 
  • For university I'm moving to London, the biggest, scariest, most expensive place I'll have ever lived, as well the most exciting, diverse and unique. This also affords me the right to moan about housing costs to anyone who will listen. Who says the ability to moan shouldn't make you happy?                                                                                                                                                                                         
  • Going to university means I have an excuse to buy things I quite frankly know I don't need but can guilt my parents into believing I do - "Oh but everyone will have their own chopping board. People will hate me if I keep borrowing theirs" "How can I study properly if I don't have coordinated stationery?" "Doing laundry will be really expensive so I'll need this extra pair of jeans" etc.                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Doctor Who is back soon and who doesn't like watching it with the blind optimism this series will be better than the last only to be bitterly disappointed every time?

In all seriousness, though, despite the possible appearances of this ramble of a post (yeah, sorry), I am really quite content with my life and situation. Not content enough to sit still and do nothing but secure and grateful in the knowledge I have all I need and more and am likely fairly spoiled because that fact.
Can I ever be too grateful for that?
Hopefully one day far more of the world will be able to say they are grateful for, can take for granted even,  free education, healthcare and peace and the opportunity this affords them to do more with their life than just survive it.
Can we ever stop trying to make that happen?
Having these things gives me the chance, the responsibility perhaps, to go out and do with life what I can, and do that to the absolute fullest. It isn't always easy to be positive in life, whatever your situation, and people who should seemingly be content with their lot can and do have very valid reasons for not being.
For me, right now, however, whilst I'm still lucky enough to have my health and my youthful optimism, I feel I owe it to the world to be as positive and life-grabbing as I can be. By George, it'll be one hell of a ride!**

Oh lordy, I hope this won't turn into a blog of lists and rambles...

**If 'one hell of a ride' means lots of reading, kittens, homemade Viking costumes, food, rum, fruitless attempts to right the world, and a whole load of weirdness.

*[Of course there are things to not be contented with in my country (and the world more generally). True equality is still not really (definitely not) here. Minorities of any/every description are still seen as a threat by certain people in society and people are made to feel badly because of it. There is a huge disparity between what people of lower income and higher income backgrounds earn and achieve academically (on average). There aren't enough people talking about mental illness, disability and (real) sex in public (not suggesting these things are related other than that they're 'taboo') etc. etc.]