So… What do you do? ūüôĄ

Ooooh, don’t ya just flinch hearing it?

Why? Because maybe what you do¬†doesn’t define you. Or perhaps you’re not particularly proud of your occupation or lack thereof…Before I had a “real job” (gives me shivers), I’d find myself awkwardly avoiding to answer ‘cus I didn’t really know how.¬†Now, I still get awkward because being a Social Media Manager who semi despises the stuff makes it feel like I’m conning people as to who I really am. It’s a pickle I’d like to get out of.

I get that it’s a classic conversation starter and asked with good intentions (most of the time), but boy can it put you on the spot. Especially if what you’re “doing” is not so hot. Like when I had to answer with – “I’m actually on the bene”, as if that was something I did. ¬†You know what, I don’t wanna¬†be judged by what puts money in my bank account. ¬†I’d rather be judged by what puts joy in my heart. By what fills my soul not my freaking savings account. And you’re darn right I wish they could be one in the same but sometimes that just aint the case. Sometimes money just needs to be made honey.

My little bro was a catalyst for this journal entry when I heard his response to the age old question was simply, “I Surf”. Is it his occupation? Nope. Does he get paid for it? Nah. Is it his biggest passion in life which he spends every minute he can doing? Heck yes! So then I’d say it’s the most accurate, fulfilling and self descriptive answer he could have given.¬†#PROUD

This little anecdote got me questioning… At what point do we have the right to say we do something? How many times a week do we need to do it, how much do we need to make and when are we good enough at it (and by whose bloody standards?) The answers don’t come easily because it’s all a bunch of bullsh*t if ya ask me. Just another box to fit into so you can present yourself as a pretty little package to society.

To hell with that.

We have the power to redefine the line we use to respond to – What do you do? To mix it up, have fun with it and start a more stimulating conversation by giving a more interesting and soul fulfilling answer. Be confident enough to own the hobbies that make you truly happy and to shove aside shame so that you can shine instead.

So here’s to switching out small talk for big talk and taking pride in promoting our true passions whether they come with a pay check or not!

Now, time to practice what I preach: I’m an explorer, writer, recreational dancer and part-time tree climber (but thinking of going full time).

What do you do?

10 Transformational Travel Perks

‚ÄúTravel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Mark Twain

Hey fraands, I wrote a post a while back about the downfalls of long-term¬†travel which I felt was important to share, but now it’s time to balance the scale and talk¬†about the perks because they are plentiful! So here’s the other side of the story morning glory.

1. FREEDOM  There is an undeniable sense of freedom that comes with defying societal pressure to conform and carve out your own path instead. To redefine yourself by stepping out of the box you fit into back home and finding out who you truly are. #YouDoYou

2. OPPORTUNITIES¬†– Let’s face it, you just don’t get the same life-altering opportunities¬†sitting on your ass at a desk or the comfort of your couch as you do when travelling. They’re out there in the wild waiting to be snatched up like fresh baking for anyone willing to make the journey.

3. DEEP FRIENDSHIPS¬†– Bonds created abroad are next level. There’s no time for small talk because you know time is precious so you simply cut to the chase. Deep and meaningfuls are bountiful and this allows for deeper connections to form with new and old friends alike.

4. CONNECTEDNESS ¬†Exploring the world doesn’t make it seem so friggen big and scary. You realise how much we all have in common beneath superficial exteriors and labels which can only result in a sense of belonging to a much larger community. #WeAreOne

5.  AN OPEN MIND Staying stationary makes it all to easy to get so stuck in your own perspectives. Travelling forces you to explore different ways of life and in turn dream up ways you could live yours!

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6. WAKE UP CALLS – Say Sayonara to your expectations because little can be predicted on the road. I love when life gives you a good old-fashioned rude awakening that makes you question everything!

7. FLEXIBILITY¬†¬†Going with the flow is the only way to go because life throws some serious curve balls especially abroad. ¬†Letting go of how you think life “should” (hate that word) be and allowing it to unfold in ways you never imagined.

8. CONFIDENCE – When you overcome fear and self-doubt you feel pretty darn good about yourself and what you are capable of.

9. INTROSPECTION¬†– Travel forces you to take a look inside to contemplate your current state. To discover what fuels your fire and what puts it out. It’s the greatest journey of self-discovery!

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10.¬†GROWTH¬† – ¬†Often a result of adversity because jetting¬†off isn’t an escape from your “problems”, it’s a direct and confrontational facing up to them. These growing pains can hurt but avoiding them will cause more damage in the end.

So there you have it, a few of the informational travel perks that come with taking yourself out of your comfort¬†zone and into the unknown. There is no doubt that¬†fear is felt by everyone but it doesn’t¬†STOP everyone that’s the difference. The rewards are far worth the risk and I truly believe every¬†single person can benefit from sailing away from their safe harbour even if all they gain is a deeper appreciation for it. Travelling is an investment into yourself to become a more¬†well-rounded, open-minded and confident person who knows exactly what they want out of life.

 

The obsession with “Perfection” #InstaSCAM

Coming in hot with a #realitycheck!

Either I‚Äôm plain out of the loop, ignorant, have too much faith in humanity or all three because I’ve been straight blindsided or better yet, INSTASCAMMED, by the fact that manipulating one’s body/face with an app is a very real, very disturbing and very utilised thing. And I‚Äôm not just referring to¬†Snapchat filters where we can pretend to have flawless skin and big sparkly eyeballs, I’m talking about the ability to snatch your waist, blow up yo butt, lengthen your legs and brighten your smile (only the tip of iceberg),¬†achievable with just the flick of a finger.

As you can see, I’ve had a wee play for myself and GIRLFRIEND MY JAW DROPPED¬†when I discovered first hand how easy, accessible and undetectable this self-manipulation is. Obviously, I’ve done it to the Kardashian extreme otherwise you wouldn’t notice, but that there is exactly the issue – YOU WOULD’T EVEN NOTICE! So you can bet your bottom dollar that no one else will either (cue Ashton Kutcher telling us we’ve all just been Punk’d).
If you’re under the impression this is a strictly a celebrity only occurrence you would be sorely mistaken. Just recently, I caught wind that everyday folk will spend time fiddling around with their body shots and selfies (did you really think her skin was that smooth?)¬†before uploading it to Instagram #Instascam. Many celebrities have been called out for doing this from T Swift to Beyonce, but we almost expect it from them, don’t we? So why should we expect it from each other too?

Here’s my theory; We’re all in the public eye now more than ever, self-made¬†celebrities if you will, that spend time scrutinising photos of ourselves that aren’t “good enough” compared to what we see every day on our feeds. The pressure to keep up with perfection is a constant battle and a losing one at that when you’re comparing yourself to a something that doesn’t even exist. So when you give an average Joe, or shall I say Joelene, the opportunity to finally look like that model in the magazine, hell yeah the temptation is real! But it comes at a cost…
The effects self-manipulation has on mental health is detrimental. I reckon it should be a requirement to upload the original because body dissatisfaction is a big price to pay for something so unnecessary in the first place. I also fear that with such a focus on the external we may forget to work on our unfadable inner beauty. Imagine if we spent half as much time tuning our minds as we did our faces? The world would probz be a much healthier, happier and freer place to be. Unfortunately, there is no app that can give you that, just a lot of hard work, introspection and acceptance of who you were, are and are going to be.

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It seems we’ve come to a point where enough is enough. I can sense the frustration from peers of the perceived “perfection” we are being fed as reality over and over again. No wonder people might be a little alarmed when a tinder date rocks up looking a little less refined than their pics online!
I know we can’t change the photo’s people put up but we CAN change our perspective of them. Take everything with a few thousand grains of salt because these days nothing is really as it seems…
I guess the main purpose of this post is not to judge right vs wrong but to raise awareness as to what is actually going on. Because it’s the people who don’t¬†know that are being harmed the most.
Ps. I know this post could totally backfire and lead loads of people to start using these apps but hey, at least you will see how incredibly easy it is. I mean, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em, right? Mmm, not quite.

THESE are the Good Old Days

Lets be honest with ourselves for a hot minute. The past was not always a blast and the present ain’t as down buzz as it may seem. So whyyyy¬†do I find myself wasting time¬†glamourising the living daylight out of it? Bloody rambling on about “The Good Old Days” like I’m a retiree at the tender age of 24. It’s kind of a drag, to say the least. I’m trying to understand¬†this tantalising tendency to look back at my own personal highlight reel with rose-tinted glasses. For each time I reminisce, I miss the ability to appreciate NOW for all it’s worth.

What doesn’t help, is the massive memory bank right at our fingertips that is social media.¬†Cheers Facebook, I actually would love to see a photo of me 4 years ago tanned and living it up in Greece while sitting as a pale zombie at my¬†desk in the middle of NZ winter. Or how about this reunion photo in your hometown when you’re on the other side of the world feeling more isolated and lonely than ever? Crikey, you really know how to make a girl feel good about herself. Nahhhht.

How many of us have lounged around and scrolled through dozens of photos on our profile and thought, “man, back then I was so much better looking, more popular, more care-free”, blah de blah… Allowing an all-consuming cloud of nostalgia to whisk you away into what was and never will be again.

Choose any page of my journal and it’s pretty darn clear that the struggle has always been real. Yet what we see on our social media highlight reel tells a “pretty” different story. One that makes you see the past as a perfect fairytale and your present as a potential nightmare. Except for those shocking hairstyles and clothes you were sporting, in that case, it’s a step up. Heck, I’ve read my fair share of spiritual/ self-help wisdom to know better than to let precious time slip away by thinking of another one. It’s clear as day that being fully present has endless benefits, but in a world that is #obsessed with clinging to youthful memories, it is not so easy to reap them. Step 1: Resist the urge to self-stalk!

I guess what I’m getting at/trying to convince myself of… Is that these are the good old days for goodness sake. These are the moments that matter most. These are the days to be kind, to be grateful, to love and to connect with those around you. If we waste them fantasising over what was, we will not be able to live what is.¬†To fully appreciate and enjoy where we are in our lives and more importantly¬†who we are with.

The past is dead – learn from it, don’t long for it. Today is a glory day, you just have to see it that way ūüôā – Words of wisdom to myself and whoever else can relate.

Realisations @ Live Poetry

I attended a live poetry night a while back for the first time and had NO IDEA what to expect. I questioned whether it was “my thing” or not, based on silly stereotypes and preconceptions that I wouldn’t¬†fit in with the¬†artsy crowd.

I was surprised, moved, inspired and most importantly…Proven WRONG! Isn’t it great when life gives you those little wake-up calls?¬†I was in awe of their courage to speak such truth. To share their tears and laughter with a room full of strangers. Regardless of trembling hands and sweaty foreheads, vulnerability triumphed fear. Yassss!

Each sentence shot through me leaving a trail of goosebumps. As if part of my sleeping soul was awakening after an unintentional¬†hibernation. Each poet could not be more externally different, yet commonalities ran through each of us like a sacred chord that connects all mankind. The audience clicked their fingers in ‘knowingness’ and support. It was a “whole new world”, to quote Aladin. I was happy Netflix didn’t lure away my attention on this occasion.

I pictured myself up there, baring my soul. Would people like me? Would they click their fingers? Would I be accepted? Understood? These thoughts must go through everyone’s mind, the difference being that some don’t¬†let fear stop them. We all want to feel good enough, but waiting for external validation from others doesn’t really cut the mustard if you don’t¬†believe in YOSELF first.

This enlightening evening sparked memories of my school days. Where praise was given for paraphrasing and I was told off for being too opinionated.¬† When I finally got the chance to express myself in the ONE creative writing assignment all year, grades weren’t so hot. Spelling and grammar seemed more important than effort and meaning. Darnit… “I guess I’m not creative enough ūüė¶ If Mrs so and so doesn’t think so then it must be so”, thought little Niki. WRONG!

These memories made me kinda mad.¬†Looking back it seemed ridiculous to grade creativity, it’s too subjective. Absolutely ridiculous to give ONE¬†person the power to crush a spirit or deter a dream. I mean, personally, I don’t get Picasso but he turned out all right. Walt¬†Disney was even fired for “lacking creativity and imagination” according to his boss. We each have an audience, you just have to find it. What isn’t your cup of tea might be right up someone else’s alley and that’s the beauty of individuality!

My point is, don’t let grades/individuals/past failures define who you are and what you are capable of. Don’t ever let them inhibit¬†you from doing what you love. Because by doing what we love, we are doing what we are good at and what makes us happy. We each have something unique to contribute to the world that is¬†upgradeably magnificent. Speak, write, paint, dance and create your truth, we all need to hear it ‚̧

Unsocial Media

Social media – “connecting” you to people on the other side of the world but not in the same room.

When did we start living through a screen? When did we start placing more importance on our social media “presence” than our actual presence? Our filterless, flawless and fabulous selves. Our lying on the couch in our sweatpants eating sour lollies loveable selves. The answer is irrelevant, what matters is where do we go from here? We weren’t taught how to cope with this devotion to self-promotion at school. There was no “how to survive without social media 101” or “how to love and accept yourself as a real person, not a profile 102”.

Do we continue to scroll through mindlessly judging, regretting, wishing and¬†fantasising while staring blankly at a screen? With no external expression of emotion visible beside the occasional LOL from a good meme. We all do it to an extent. Constantly compare ourselves while creating silly stories of why one’s life is somehow superior or inferior to another’s based on a photo of a beach or a freakin’ burrito. It’s a trap, a guilty pleasure that you know is wrong but you just can’t help but overindulge in the occasional serial stalk. But life shouldn’t feel like a competition of “who lives it best” because at the end of the day we are all just¬†doing our best and that is something to celebrate not hate.

We are superficially more connected than ever before but we don’t feel any better, and no amount of new followers or likes will change that. It is up to us to realise self-love doesn’t stem from a selfie and emojis will never qualify as real emotions. If we unlocked our hearts as much as our phones or shared our feelings as much as our photos, I bet life would feel a lot less lonely and home would feel a lot¬†more homey.

P.S. I take full¬†responsibility for this technological tantrum and acknowledge that social media has many great benefits that come with it like funny videos, plus it gives people a chance to create their own community and the opportunity¬†to be heard.¬†But with every advancement, there is a dis-advancement. Balance is FUNDAMENTAL or you’ll go mental.