Twenty-One Things I’ve Learnt In 21 Years

This is something I’ve seen going around a lot and I think it’s lovely to hear people’s insights, see some changes and generally just try to better yourself.

Now I’m a 21 year-old I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past (as well as looking forward to the future!) and even though it might not feel like it sometimes, I’ve done so much and grown loads. Here are some key things I’ve learnt over the years that may be beneficial to you.

1. Practising pays off, even though it can be really tedious and annoying.

For me a key area I learnt this was makeup, and after many years of messing about with the stuff for fun I’m finally getting okay at it. This also applies to other, non-superficial areas too! Just keep showing up and pushing and you’ll get there.

2. No one knows what they’re doing. Literally no one.

Not even that girl who looks like she has it all together. I know this because I pretend to be her and I still haven’t got a clue. I thought that by 21 I’d have everything figured out, but every day is still a learning curve. It’s totally okay, we’ll figure it out one day- maybe.

3. Always be yourself. Do what feels right for you at all times.

Any other action or behaviour will come across awkward, weird and uncomfortable for everyone, especially you! Listen to yourself and try to not focus on what other people might think. You have to live with yourself everyday and that is something you should honour.

4. Don’t be afraid to change it up.

A lot of people go through this stage of altering their appearance, friendships and values when they’re a young teen but I think it’s something that we should constantly do. Experiment with different versions of yourself and try new things to figure out what you like. It’s how you often find that you have always been exactly how you were meant to be.

5. Being girly isn’t a weakness.

Feminism! This one took me far to long to grasp. Liking pink, wearing ‘feminine’ fashion, being interested in beauty… The list is endless. None of the things are a bad or should be thought of with guilt. You are never just one thing so why pigeon-hole yourself?

6. It’s better to not have been the popular one at school.

It gives you an opportunity to grow, change and focus on what is really important right now. School may be considered the ‘best years of your life’ by adults, but trust me it’s not. You have so much wonder to come and luckily you haven’t peaked too early!

7. It takes time to find the right contraception.

 You need to educate yourself, try things and listen to your body. The first method you try might not be your last.

8. There are no deadlines on milestones.

You’re going through life at your own pace so it’s pointless to compare what you’re doing with other people’s experiences. (See: sex, first kisses, getting drunk, education, getting married, etc.)

9. Creating a safe place for yourself is the best act of self care. 

Whether that place is outside or in your house, take time to figure out where you feel the safest and make that space exactly how you want it. This will be your sanctuary for the days when things seem to be a much and a place for you to chill out whenever necessary.

10. Just because your life and/or choices look different to other people doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

You know yourself best, so just do what’s right for you even if it’s difficult or doesn’t match up to others. You should be your number one and this takes time to understand and accept. I promise you- you’re doing fine.

11. Be grateful for your parents/guardians/friends. They do so much for you.

This can be hard to see sometimes but be grateful for those around you who care because one day they may not be around. Gratitude is a wonderful thing to practice and can change your outlook and the way you handle so many different situations.

12. Time doesn’t have to be an important factor in friendships.

You don’t have to stay friends with someone just because you always have been and alternatively you can become brilliant friends with someone you’ve just met. Time isn’t really an important factor, or at least it doesn’t have to be. Sometime you just need to go with your gut and heart to find the right people.

13. Try to save some of your money for a rainy day. Having something behind you can make the world of difference. 

Try to budget and keep bits of money back in case you ever need it. If not, it’ll come in handy for that trip you want to do or that bag you’ve wanted for ages. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

14. Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.

Whether you’re feeling bad right now, or you’re annoyed at past you, we need these times to grow and get to a better place. Everything is valid.

15. Worrying can destroy everything you care about. 

Try to switch off and get out of your head a bit because worrying and overthinking will ruin your relationships, friendships and experiences. Take a walk, open up to someone close or write it down. You need to find a way to get these things out of your head so you can be more open to the important, and present, things.

16. The internet doesn’t need to know everything you’re up to.

You don’t have to post it to prove that it happened and it doesn’t have to be an instant thing either. Don’t let sharing stuff get in the way of your experiences. It’s brilliant to share and show off what you’ve been up to, where you’ve been and who you’ve seen but remember to enjoy the moment a bit first.

17. Metal actually does explode in the microwave.

I found this out the hard way. It can also catch fire too so be careful and stay aware!

18. Learn how to be on your own.

It might become the best lesson you’ll ever learn. You need to rely on yourself totally and be your own best friend because at the end of the day, you are the only guarantee in life.

19. A good bra will change your life.

It’ll make you look and feel amazing, trust me. It might even be worth spending that little bit more money in order to feel this way. Comfort and confidence are the key to any fashion experience.

20. You can trust places like you trust people.

It can be an instant feeling when you get there; you’re definitely going to like it here. I’ve experienced this only a handful of times in my life but it’s often a great factor when making major decisions (see: choosing a university, moving away, work)

21. The loudest people often don’t have anything to shout about.

Whether they’re bragging about sex, drinking, their love life or success you never get to see what actually goes on behind closed doors so take everything with a pinch of salt. Try not to get too caught up in what other people are doing, because they’re not you and everyone experiences things differently.


Happy Birthday Me!

I’m expecting this year to be full of growth, change, joy and fear and I am so buzzing for it. Although things may get tough I’m so proud of myself for everything I’ve done to get here and I love that I’m only going to continue to learn more.

Thank you so much for reading this post. I’m so grateful for you being here. Let’s hope this blog continues for many more birthdays!


Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s The Deal With Porn: Sex, Education & Reality

When you think about it, the fact that there’s an industry dedicated to watching other people have sex seems a little mad doesn’t it? But porn is a massive player in our current society and it’s been something that has caused many debates over the years.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with porn. I’ll just put that out there right now. At the end of the day porn is just sex and as long as consent is present, then there is nothing wrong with it. It’s only natural.

But porn isn’t just sex, is it? I don’t know whether it has ever been that simple. Porn does not represent what most people would recognise as sex in any sense of the word. It’s all false and fabricated, which is of course the point.

Porn represents a fantasy of what sex could be, but only if you’re a man. At most times a straight man, regardless of what kind of porn you’re watching. It’s such a small market yet that’s obviously where the money comes from.

There is nothing wrong with making a product and aiming it at a specific audience. But nowadays when sex education is lacking and the act is everywhere in our media and daily lives, we need to start thinking about everyone who is watching porn.

Despite what you may think, anyone can watch porn. But unless, as mentioned, you’re a (possibly straight) man you’re probably going to feel a bit disappointed by what you see.

In porn everything is tailored for the male viewer, or the male gaze if you want to get technical with it. The length of the video, the setting, the props and the models are all tailored to attract the male audience. And fair does. But for the rest of us watching, it’s a bit shit. We’re obviously excluded from the situation and that’s not fair.

If these materials are going to be out there, and are going to be so accessible too, then allow other people to have a look in and be represented.

The fact that porn is tailored the men causes problems within the content. For most women watching, porn can seem pretty degrading and in many cases fairly violent. There is often no representation of consent nor any basic respect or interest for the women involved. In the media women are often used as props and in porn this is no different. The women here are simply something to look at and use, without any consideration for their wants or desires.

Again, porn is a fantasy and for some people this may work for them. But for the many young people relying on this industry to educate them on the things their school has missed out, it’s so dangerous. These young people will learn behaviours from the porn they see and expect their sex to be similar to what they see online.

This lack of respect, care or consent is then considered normal within this group and will be replicated throughout their lives.

That’s not okay. Sex requires consent in order to be sex. Without consent, any act is rape.

Consent (verb) 

  • give permission for something to happen.

This obviously causes many issues and it upsets me so much that this is what people have to rely on as there is materials to educate. (Check out the materials at the end for some good educational tools I have found)

The sex in porn is not normal sex. It is not what sex between most people looks like. It is a glossy, practiced and acted performance that is used to entertain.

Sex in real life can be awkward, funny, messy, hairy, fast, slow, loud, quiet; whatever you want it to be. But chances are it won’t replicate what you’ve seen online. For the record, no one looks that good for the entire time they’re having sex and no one looks that good after sex either.

The sex in porn is so false it’s actually pretty annoying. The poses, the noises, the faces. Everything has been constructed to look good on screen, because that’s what it’s for. But no matter how aware you are of this fact it’s not hard to internalise some of the things you’ve seen online and feel shit about what’s going on in your own life.

There are some wonderful companies attempting to make porn for women and plenty of campaigns are fighting for a better representation in this industry. However, for the time being we’ve got to deal with what we have. By opening up the conversation about how false it is and explaining that this isn’t normal sex, the kind that we will experience, can ensure that although it remains we can alter how problematic it is.

Sex and porn aren’t things to be ashamed of and the sooner we accept this and allow people to be free in their sexuality, the better things will become.


Materials:

Laci Green (Related: Sexual Objectification)

Hannah Witton (Related: Behind The Scenes of An Erotic Film)

How To Be A Woman Caitlin Moran* (chapters dedicated to Porn & Sex)

Banging Book Club (Podcast & Twitter)

Let’s Talk About Sex Sarah Rae Vargas


*affiliate link used

Speak soon,

Rachael

Sexism, Exploitation and Memes

I wonder how many memes there are on the internet?

They’re something we all see pretty much every time we log onto a social media site. That black and white lettering that protests some sarcastic message has basically become iconic now and will forever be recognised.

Memes are a way for people to rant, to express their opinions or just to make a joke in a quick and fashionable way and overall I think they’re pretty funny. There’s no better way to procrastinate than looking at a photo of a stupid dog with a sarcastic message printed over it.

But I wonder how many memes out there mock women? I bet most of them degrade or ridicule feminism and the actions of women in some way. Although these memes aren’t as cool as a dog wanting cupcakes or a cat with a moustache, they seem to be the most popular ones and the ones that are constantly being shared.

Obviously this is something I don’t like. But I don’t think it’s a problem to be blamed solely on the sharers, as most of these people don’t really know what they’re mocking anyway.

Recently I saw a meme which inspired this whole post. This meme basically said that women complain about men complimenting them or looking at them, but will continue to wear little clothing or present themselves in a sexual manner.

(Because obviously these actions are all just an act to attract men, right?)

The meme was basically saying “why are you complaining, woman? You obviously want this”

Now if I close my mind, I can almost see why some people would find this ironic. But it doesn’t take long for the stupidity (and a bit of fear) to come flooding back in.

People seem to think that if women want to be taken seriously, then they can’t dress in a certain way. For these people, women must not appear sexual in anyway and cover all parts of their body because, God forbid, should we see some cleavage then there’s no way we can concentrate on what these lasses are actually saying, right?

It makes me sad that some people still genuinely believe that clothing (or performances or whatever) has any impact on your rights to be taken seriously or to be heard.

As for the degrading comment…

The reason why a woman choosing, for example, to wear shorts that may reveal her vulva is not degrading is because she chose to wear them. She chose to reveal whatever part of her body she wanted and because it’s her body and her choice, this is not degrading. If you want to label it anything I’d go for empowering.

Everyone has a right to control their own bodies. And if that means they want to be sexual then let them. The problems occur when other people think they have the right to sexualise something that is not theirs. That’s why people speak out about adverts, films, posters or comments that use women’s bodies in a sexual way because the power has been taken away from the person who owns the body and given to someone outside of it.

The whole point of feminism is that people a choice, regardless of their gender. Women, like men, can freely express their sexuality if they want to. But it’s down to them to choose if that’s something they want to do. It shouldn’t be something that other people can choose for you.

Men are, of course, not excluded from this. How many washboard abs and toned physiques have you seen to promote, sell or generally just grab attention in the media recently? There’s tonnes, I know. But the reason we talk about women so much when we deal with topics like this is because it happens to us more. Plus, because it’s deemed acceptable to treat women this way we then start to do the same things to men.

It’s just not fair for anyone and it’s creating such a shitty situation.

Can’t we just let people do what they want, whether that be in fashion or sex or just life, and not feel the need to comment, judge or ridicule? Let’s be fair to one another and if you see something shitty report it and try to educate those who don’t understand why it’s wrong.

And before you ask, yes I can take a joke. I just prefer my jokes to have more humour than spite.


Materials:


*affiliate link used

Speak soon,

Rachael.


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