*insert a witty title related to the marriage referendum here*

I’m trying to understand things from a ‘no’ point of view. Like when I ask my sister for a lift to town and she refuses. Or when my younger sisters ask if they can give me a makeover and I give them an incredulous look that shoots down any hope they had of making me look pretty. Or when a group of people in Ireland ask if they can have a few rights and half the country is outraged and basically says that that’s asking a bit too much.

One of my favourite things to do is debate with people about different topics (sometimes I get so passionate that I’ll argue with people who are on my side) and so I’m going to try argue as best I can why you should vote yes.

“Let’s not redefine marriage”

Well…we’re not.

marriage

Like, ok, I see where you’re coming from, the whole man and woman thing, but hey check out what’s written in brackets in that definition. “In some jurisdictions, two people of the same sex”. We’re not redefining marriage because it’s already recognised that the LGBT community can get married. The only problem here is that Ireland isn’t one of those jurisdictions (yet) because some of you have got yourself in a mess over what the dictionary says. Do you know what else is in the dictionary? The word twerk. Let’s tackle the real problems here people.

“A child deserves a mother and a father.”
This argument is just downright disrespectful. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home with a mother and a father, but I know people who come from single parent homes. Despite what the no side will have us believe, people who have only a mother or only a father can (shocker) be decent people. There’s honestly nothing else I can say to this argument except it was a low blow not just to same sex couples, but to hundreds of families all over Ireland.

“A child needs her mother for life, not just 9 months.”
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of privilege again. Congratulations on having a mother who was able to give birth to you herself. Now let’s stop stripping the dignity away from families who have had to use surrogacy.

“It’s not natural.”
Do you know what else isn’t natural? The smell my dad sometimes leave behind in the bathroom but I fucking deal with it.

“Won’t someone please think of the children?!”
Yeah let’s take a moment and think about the children. You know what it means for people like me? It means I’ll still be able to get married, just the same as before. You know what it means for the LGBT community? It means young kids who are discovering they’re gay will see that they’re being valued. They’re not being treated any differently to their straight counterpart and you know what that’s gonna do? That’s gonna make them feel like they matter. God forbid someone feel like they matter.

You see, May 22nd is an important day for everyone in this country. If the yes vote passes, that means I won’t have to sit my kids down in the future and apologise on behalf of my generation and the generation before me for not believing they deserve to be married should they be gay. It means I won’t have to apologise to my gay friends for the fact that they’re not being valued and recognised in the same way I am by the constitution. It means equality matters.

So on May 22nd, don’t be a dick.

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While my friends were getting high and chasing girls down parkway lines I was losing my mind

I used to keep a diary (and by diary I mean I opened up Microsoft Word and wrote a couple of sentences about how I felt that day). It’s been nearly a year since I wrote anything in it but I just found it and decided to have a read and see what ridiculous things I used to write about. I completely forgot that when I used to keep this ‘diary’ I was completely miserable and not enjoying college in the slightest and just generally hating everything.

I’ll take you back to semester 2 of my first year of college, around the time I started keeping track of my thoughts. My anxiety was at an all time high, I was having panic attacks at least 3 times a week and avoiding going to classes because of it, I was eating a Chinese takeaway at least twice a week (which doesn’t actually sound all that terrible but when you put on weight and you’re already miserable with yourself, it’s awful). I remember crying myself to sleep every second night until I got home at the weekend. Semester 2 of my first year of college was, as you’ve probably gathered, an awful awful time for me.

But the reason I’m talking about the diary I found is because there was one post in particular that just got to me. I wrote it on the 22nd of March last year and it has just one simple sentence;
“It’s easier to like yourself when other people like you.”
I don’t recall exact details of what was going on around then, but I do remember how I felt about myself. Like 99% of the world, I struggled (and sometimes still do I guess) with self esteem issues. If you had asked me to pick out my least favourite thing about myself when I wrote that diary entry, I honestly don’t know how long we’d have been talking about all the things wrong with me. Don’t get me wrong, I can still give you a long list of things I’m not too fond of about myself but what I’ve managed to learn in the last year is that there’s more important to just let it go and to stop being apologetic for the way I look and to start to actually like myself.

I guess the whole reason the diary post got to me was just because I can’t remember what it’s like to be that sad about things. The last year hasn’t been perfect, and it’s taken a long time to get over a lot of my own problems with…well, me, but it’s been worth it. I’ve surrounded myself with some really excellent people who have unknowingly made me feel better about myself just from really simple things that they do. I’ve become one of those people that enjoys working out (I know, I kind of hate me for that too) simply because it makes me feel better about myself. I’ve got things to look forward to, I’ve got the company of wonderful people, I’ve got it pretty good.

But the main thing I’ve learned is that it’s more fun being unapologetically happy than anything else.

There was another diary entry I found. It was written exactly a month after the other one I’ve already mentioned and it too is only a sentence long;
“Fuck anyone who says you can’t choose to be happy.”
It takes a lot more than just waking up one day and deciding you’re gonna be happy, but when you get to the point where you do want to make a change, fucking do it and don’t look back because I promise you it’s not gonna be easy and it’s certainly never gonna be perfect, but it’s most definitely worth it.

A brief guide to being a good customer

  1. There’s this really cool thing called manners that’s really appreciated.
  2. Why are you taking your anger out on the cashier when you could be, oh I don’t know, acting like a decent person?
  3. If you’re that person who walks in 2 minutes until closing time, every single shop assistant is bitching about you.
  4. Oh you’re buying perfume/aftershave for your wife/husband but have literally no idea what they like and now you’re a little bit angry because I’ve been asking a lot of questions to try help? Allow me to recommend the most expensive perfume we have.
  5. Some questions are completely valid and I understand that you might feel stupid asking, but if you have to ask what 3 for 2 means there’s no hope.
  6. You know what’s really hilarious? Picking up an item and then deciding you don’t want it but leaving it in a completely different place, you can only imagine how much we love playing your weird game of hide and seek.
  7. It’s a little awkward for both of us when you’re buying condoms.
  8. I have uttered the words “you can only use the advantage points on your card if it covers the cost of what you’re buying” and had people get mad at me for it. I cannot apologise enough for rules I don’t make.
  9. Saying thank you goes a very, very long way in retail (I already mentioned manners but I’m mentioning it again because it can really cheer a cashier up).
  10. If you’re telling me to hurry up because you have a bus to catch or some other place to be, trust me, I’m going as fast as I can – if you’ve told me to hurry up, I want you gone as fast as possible too.
  11. Just generally remembering that people who work in retail (or any kind of job) are also humans with real feelings is a really nice thing.

Building bonfires on my vanities and doubts to get warm – just like everybody else

By the time I was 13, I had friends who had started dieting, and what makes that sentence worse is that I thought it was completely normal. By the time I was 13, some of my friend’s biggest fears was putting on weight. By the time I was 13, I had friends who had fully convinced themselves that what they saw in the mirror was the most disgusting thing they had ever seen.

Where have we gone so wrong that young girls and boys – children – are growing up learning that it’s ok to hate themselves? When did it become more acceptable to bring yourself down than to accept and agree with a compliment someone is paying you? Why is having confidence and self worth such a rare thing these days?

Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had the type of body that fits into the clothes American Apparel sells (although I kind of wish I had the kind of money you need to shop there more). Whenever I’m outside that shop, it’s like a dramatic scene from a film where I wistfully think about how I want to be small enough to wear the clothes before I see my reflection in the window and start picking apart my body. I still hate clothes shopping because I hate trying on a pair of jeans that end up being too small because for some reason, every time that happens, a small part of me is embarrassed about having to get a bigger size. It’s infuriating that it’s been ingrained into so many people’s minds that being bigger is the worst thing in the world; surely being disloyal or manipulative or selfish is far worse?

What scares me is that if you were to ask any person you know what their biggest insecurity was, they could probably go for hours listing every little thing they hate about themselves but if you asked what they liked about how they look, how many of us would genuinely be able to give an answer?

Take it from someone who, at the age of 14, brought an extra towel whenever she went for a shower so she could use it to cover the mirror and not have to look at herself because she disliked her body that much – it’s far more fun to not give a shit about how you look. And yeah, that’s far easier said than done but I promise you it’s worth it. Being happy with who you are and being comfortable in your skin is a work in progress and it’s hard. It’s far easier to sit at home and hate yourself, but it’s far more important to be happy with who you are.

I learned a lot about being a friend when I was alone

So I’m gonna share a story today.

Back when I was in second year, a shy awkward 14 year old who listened to Bob Dylan and Paramore religiously, I had a bit of a hard time. It’s not a year I look back on fondly. I remember the point that it all started going downhill was around the time we went on a trip to the Gaeltacht for a weekend and I genuinely said about 10 words that whole weekend. The reason for my lack of conversation was that I had gotten some really bad news and was terribly upset about it and when bad things happen to me, I’m one of those people that will not tell you. I will use the old “I’m just tired” excuse and keep it to myself because I have always had the “well my problems aren’t that bad and other people have their own things to be dealing with” kind of mindset.

After we got back from that trip, I started distancing myself more and more from the group of friends I had. I sat alone at lunch and always made myself look really busy so no one would bother me. I usually sat alone in the canteen and if I thought I was starting to draw attention to myself because I was alone at lunchtime, I’d go outside or to the PE hall. One of the places that I ate in a few times was Mr Heveran’s classroom. I remember I asked him could I sit there one day because I ‘had work to catch up on’.  Being the fantastic man he is, he let me sit there whenever I asked. I’m honestly not sure if he’d even remember me coming to him those few lunchtimes but I was always grateful for it.

I can’t remember how long I sat alone at lunch for but I do remember I once called home pretending to be sick because I just did not have the heart to do it that day. That was the same day a girl in my year wrote to me on MSN (back when MSN was all the rage) to make sure I was ok. We had chatted a few times before and somehow the topic got onto how I sat alone at lunch sometimes and she asked me to sit with her and her friends the next day.

I guess the moral of my long winded “I know what being alone is like” story is that the smallest gestures do make a difference. That sounds so incredibly cheesy but I was in such a terrible place until someone reached out and made an effort to make sure I was ok. So just be kind to each other because you don’t know the depth of difference your actions are making, and what better legacy to leave than one of kindness?

My friend Lauren wrote a really excellent piece on the misconceptions about depression (http://ellaur.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/depression/) and it inspired me to write this post, so go check it out if you haven’t already!

If music was the food of love, then I’d be a fat romantic slob

I, like the rest of the world, have an undeserved sense of egotism when it comes to my music taste so what better way to higher my level of music snobbery than to post my favourite albums here? Enjoy them (and please don’t judge me).

  • Alt-J: An Awesome Wave
    – they’re odd. Very odd.
  • Busted: A Present For Everyone
    – if you don’t like Busted then you must hate fun things and you can’t be trusted.
  • Band Of Horses: Cease To Begin
    – the kind of album that’s perfect for staring out the window of the car in the rain and thinking about sad things.
  • The Black Keys: El Camino
    – this is an album that I think about 90% of the world is familiar with and if you’re not, you’re doing something wrong.
  • The Beatles: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
    – how very clichéed of me.
  • Bleachers: Strange Desire
    – if ever a film is made about my life, let this be the soundtrack. Personal favourites; I Wanna Get Better and Like A River Runs.
  • Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago
    – I’m not entirely sure what being a hipster actually consists of, but this album makes me feel hipster to the bone.
  • Blink 182: Take Off Your Pants & Jacket
    – it’s almost a cliché for pop punk fans to love this album but there’s a reason it’s their most popular.
  • Biffy Clyro: Puzzle
    – excellent lyrics to angry music, what more do you want from life?
  • Brand New: The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me
    -if you listen to anything from this album, make sure it’s Jesus Christ and The Archers Bows Have Broken.
  • CHVRCHES: The Bones Of What You Believe
    – it’s a really good album to jog to. It’s also a really good album whether you jog or not.
  • Citizen: Youth
    – I’m not sure there has ever been a more perfect debut album.
  • Damien Rice: 9
    – because he’s so much more than Cannonball.
  • Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: Self Titled Album
    – I won’t even make any comment, I’ll let the music do the talking on this one.
  • Fences: Self Titled Album
    – the singer has tattoos on his face so he’s not going to be employed anywhere else, the least you could do is buy their music so they’re earning money (it’s also a really good album so there’s that too)
  • Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
    – this album will be passed from father to son for generations so do yourself a favour and jump on the bandwagon that has existed the last 30 years.
  • Frank Turner: Tape Deck Heart
    – everything this man has ever done makes me fall in love with music all over again.
  • John Mayer: Continuum
    – the only man that will ever make you wish he was singing to you.
  • Keaton Henson: Dear
    – this guy just gets it. What “it” actually is, I’m not sure, but he gets it. (Special shoutout to Meagan for getting me into him)
  • The Killers: Hot Fuss
    – the first album I bought with my own money so it holds a special place in my heart. I assume everyone loves this album as much as I think they do, and if they do, that means everyone loves this album A LOT.
  • Little Green Cars: Absolute Zero
    – you want this band in your life and you want them in your life before they get really famous and I become that really annoying person who always brings up how I was a fan before they went mainstream.
  • Lorde: Pure Heroine
    – the song 400 Lux actually has the lyric “you buy me orange juice” and if that doesn’t persuade you to want to listen then maybe the excellent music will.
  • The Lumineers: Self Titled Album
    – the only album that could compete with Citizen for the “best debut album” title
  • Oasis: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory
    -the only Oasis album you need in your life
  • Paramore: Riot
    – set free the angsty teen in you
  • Porter Robinson: Worlds
    – this album hasn’t actually been released yet but I don’t know any of his other stuff and the singles already released are really good, so get this when it comes out.
  • Real Friends: Put Yourself Back Together
    – I hope to one day be scorned by a lover so I have an excuse to sing along passionately to this album. I mean, I already sing along really passionately, but I need justification for it.
  • Rise Against: Appeal To Reason
    – the only album that makes me want to start a revolution (and I have the Les Mis soundtrack on my iPod)
  • The Shins: Oh, Inverted World
    – they’re just an all round pleasing kind of band.
  • Tegan & Sara: Heartthrob
    – one of the few bands me and Ellen actually agreed on, so that’s one thing. It’s also a great album, so that’s another thing.
  • The White Buffalo: Shadows, Greys and Evil Ways
    – if you like anything Eddie Vedder has ever done, you will love this guy. Personal favourites include The Whistler and Redemption #2

So there you have it. The list could have been longer had I added that I love B*Witched (I can almost hear Ellen and my da rolling their eyes at that) but I thought exposing my love for them might have made people not take me seriously and I wanted you all to think I had really good taste. Pretty sure I’ve succeeded in that…right?

My mother says to get a job, but she don’t like the one she’s got

I spent some of my Christmas break last year working in Tesco and I’ll be honest, all I’ve realised is that this whole ‘work’ thing is not for me. In fact, the whole ‘school-get a job-eventually die’ thing doesn’t appeal to me either. My mother tells me it’s because I’m lazy (which I suppose is partly true given the fact I’ve spent the last few months Googling ways to earn money without getting a job) but I can’t remember the last time she came home from work and gushed about serving impatient customers who forget that people in retail or any kind of job are human beings with actual feelings.

Can you imagine a world where we were completely truthful in job interviews? (How very John Lennon of me.) But when you’re asked a question along the lines of “why did you apply for this job?” can you imagine yourself replying with “well to be honest, I’ve noticed that in the current economic climate my family isn’t as well off as I once believed when I was ten years old and it’s gotten to the point that I feel guilty asking my mother for a tenner when I go out”? I know that if a protagonist in a film said that they would have the job in a matter of minutes, but in real life a stern faced employer is shoving you out the door despite the fact you told them in your cover letter you were an honest person.

I saw a video recently of a favourite comedian of mine Dave Chappelle explaining why he turned down a 50 million dollar contract with Comedy Central. His explanation mainly boiled down to how he was comfortable enough with his paycheque and didn’t need the 50 million because money can’t buy happiness and all I could think was 1) that maybe money can’t buy happiness but it can give you a sense of security in relation to your finances and therefore you’re as close to buying happiness as anyone and 2) how nice it must be to have enough money to be able to turn down another 50 million. And do you remember when the Wolf Of Wall Street came out? Do you also remember the news stories about how Jonah Hill only earned $60000 for it? Yes, that’s right, only. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that by Hollywood’s standards $60000 is probably something they associate with peasants at this point, but by my standards $60000 has me set for the next couple of years of college. It almost makes me mad that my parents weren’t the kind to force their children into being famous child stars who would inevitably grow up troubled and do a few prison stints (hey, at least I’d be able to pay my way out and still have enough money to fall back on for the rest of my life).

So you can quote that Jessie J song about how it’s not about the money and you can tell me about how Bill Gates dropped out of school and still became a millionaire but unless you have a million dollar idea and a few million in your bank account, you’re stuck with the slaving away for 50 years on something that you hate.

But what do I know? I’m merely an 18 year old with an already developed feeling of doom regards to financial security and who doesn’t know how she’s going to survive unless she becomes a millionaire.