Everything I’ve learnt at 25

So today is my birthday and I officially feel really old! There are certain things about life that just feel very different now. I don’t think in the same way I used to, I don’t act the same way and I don’t want the same things. There is actually so much I’ve learnt, even over this past year and as 25 is a milestone (quarter of a century and all that), as well as a really strange birthday to have at the moment (during a global pandemic), I wanted to reflect on some of these things with you.

The first thing I’ve learnt is about myself. I feel like I’ve been learning so much about myself over the past couple of years and my character has really evolved. There are things I would do years ago that I couldn’t even dream of getting involved in now. The biggest one for me is confrontation and drama. There was a time when I would pride myself in being the type of person who would always say what was on their mind. That type of what you see is what you get person. But what I’ve learnt recently is that not everybody needs to see you. I’m very comfortable with who I am and I have nothing to prove to anybody. Having this mindset has led me to learn that there are a lot of things which are better left unsaid.

Things like gossip. I think there are plenty of us who love a gossip, but I’ve finally excluded myself from this group. In fact, there is nothing I hate more than gossip. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to spread it and I don’t want to be involved in it.

When it comes to drama, I try my best to avoid it all costs. But I’ve also learnt that it’s impossible for me to be on damage control the whole time. I can’t ensure that every little inch of my life will fall perfectly into place. Sometimes, things will erupt. It’s just life. There is no calm without chaos. And a lot of the time, there are very valuable lessons to be learnt through chaos. You learn about yourself, you learn about the people around you and I think you learn how to avoid being in the same situations again.

I’ve also learnt a lot about money! The shopaholic in me finds it extremely hard to say no to materialistic purchases. Just a few hours ago I was in Harrods, talking to a sales assistant at YSL about whether I should buy a bag for £1600. My new life motto when it comes to big purchases (or any purchases really), is only buy it if you can buy it twice. In this situation, I applied the rule and I could definitely have checked out and been good. I wouldn’t have had to use any credit to buy the bag but I would have been -£1600 in savings and at least a few months back from being able to buy a house.

At this age, I value my long term goals a lot more than I value my immediate ones. My immediate goal with that bag would be to take it on an evening out, take it out for lunch, take it out shopping (and I know I am talking about the bag like it’s a person but I just love bags, okay?!); but to do all of those things, I would be spending even more money. So really, buying the bag would be costing me more money long term and drawing me further and further away from my long term goals. There will be a time for me to buy a YSL bag without having to think about these things and when the time comes, it will be so much more worth it.

The last thing I’ve learnt is about emotion. I have the tendency to react on emotion and in the past year or so, it’s meant that I’ve made decisions which have diverted me from some of my most important goals. I’m the kind of person who needs to detach from a situation, think about it on my own and work out a plan. I live for plans. There has to be a plan for everything to keep me sane. And maybe to some people that’s unhealthy and maybe by the time I’m 30 I’ll realise that I ditched all of my plans anyway. But for now, the best thing I can do when I’m feeling emotional about anything, is to take a step back, take a deep breath and take as much time as I need to come up with a plan.

Valuing my sanity and my time is something I put above almost anything else in my life. If you know me, you’ll know that my favourite saying is “I don’t have time for…”. Well, this has served me very well. I don’t have copious amounts of time to feel things that will prevent me from moving forward with my life. Whether that’s resentment, heartbreak, embarrassment, fear. I will do whatever I can to keep moving forward in life and this is what keeps me sane. This is what keeps me valuing my time. Most of all, this is what has kept me focused and happy.

I’m beginning to learn that happiness is a choice. I choose to let things go and I choose not to harbour negative emotions because it makes my happier immediately and it makes me happier long term. This is a tough one to learn and it’s taken me a while, but it’s been very worth it. Always forgive. Holding onto grudges is one thing that I can promise will only ever eat you up inside.

So here’s to 25 – I can’t wait to see what else I achieve in the next quarter of the century!

Dismantling myths against “Black Lives Matter”

How to Best Adhere to Social Distancing While Attending BLM ...

Over the past week, I have seen so many people taking to social media to raise awareness for BLM. But with that, comes disagreement and ignorance. If you’ve only just started learning about the everyday horrors of racial injustice, then you might be reading comments online that confuse you. Well, this post is here to dismantle that confusion. I’m going to be taking popular arguments against BLM and dismantling them for you – so that you can fully understand what all of this really means.

“All Lives Matter is racist against white people.”

This is perhaps the most popular one I’ve seen. I firstly want to point out that the protestors of all lives matter only seem to care about “all lives” when they are faced with the option of protecting a disadvantaged group. Supporting an oppressed group is somehow so horrifying to them, that they have to counteract it instead. The fact is that all lives do not matter because black lives do not matter. And that is specifically why we are campaigning for them to. It’s not racist to speak out in support of the oppressed. It’s racist not to.

“The police have killed white people too.”

Indeed they have. Statistically, US police have actually killed more white people than they have killed black people. But the numbers are disproportionate. Based on the overall population and the percentage of black people that make up that population (13%), more black lives are lost to police violence than white lives. You have to actually care about the movement to research and understand these facts, which many people cannot be bothered to do. It takes time to look into individual cases and statistics but it’s important to do so. Have a look at the below, from Washington Post and Statista.

Infographic: U.S. Police Shootings: Blacks Disproportionately Affected | Statista

It’s also really important to understand that we’re not fighting just because they have killed us. The fact that we lose black lives to the police is just the fatal final step of racially motivated police injustice. There is unjust brutality that comes beforehand. So we’re fighting against an amalgamation of factors that have led to black fatalities. We’re fighting because they racially profile and arrest us either for trivial offences or crimes they “thought” we were committing. And when they do arrest us for these crimes, they subdue our right to live until they kill us. They fire several “warning” shots, they chase us and pin us to the ground like animals, they physically beat us. They use unjust force that is breaking the law, they group up on us and have other officers protect them while THEY commit crimes against us. All after arresting us for crimes that they will later admit we did not commit!

So to the all lives matter protestors, tell me, do you really believe that this is happening to all lives?

“Nobody is talking about what these black people were doing in the first place.”

If you had really looked into what many of the black people who have been killed by the police were arrested for, then you would see that the violence is unjust. Using a counterfeit $20 bill should not equal an on-site death sentence. Selling cigarettes without tax stamps, brandishing a toy gun, going for a run in your neighbourhood, visiting a family member, hanging out with your friends on the street. The list goes on and on. You’ll find that in many cases, “these black people” were doing absolutely nothing wrong. As I said earlier, they were racially profiled.

And no, I’m not saying that black people are not criminals. We commit crimes the same as any other race. But the point is, that when we commit the same crime as a white person, we are handled differently. Physically handled differently – because we immediately become victims of police brutality, whilst white people are cuffed humanely within the scope of their human rights. And mentally handled differently – as in the case of the Central Park Five, who were manipulated by police officers into giving testimonies that incriminated them for a crime they did not commit. We need black lives to matter as much as white lives do.

“When a white person is killed, nothing happens.”

The simple answer to this is that when a white person is killed by the police, it’s not based on the colour of their skin.

I also feel that if as a white person, you felt there was a problem with police brutality within your community, then why didn’t you address it? Black people have been addressing this injustice for years, across many sectors where racism is prevalent. Don’t attack us for supporting our own people and fighting for our rights when you have always been at perfect liberty to do the same.

The reason you haven’t had to do this is because you’ve always had rights. We don’t have as much reach or as much influence as you do. We live in a world that has been carefully curated to benefit you, so when we need help, it has to start from our own community. We literally had to create this movement, raise awareness and we are actively making things happen to try and create change.

There hasn’t been a movement against white injustice at the hands of the police because it simply does not exist.

It’s important to understand that we’re not saying Only Black Lives Matter. We have never said that. Arguing that all lives matter is the same as saying “I don’t see colour”. You need to recognise how people’s experiences differ based on their race. If you truly care about all lives, then you simply cannot refuse to acknowledge that not all lives are the same. Black lives are in danger. There is no racial bias within this movement because the very point of it is to fight against that.

My thoughts on the UK election result…

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

This Thursday 12th December we held a general election in the UK. I was at the polling station at 7am on the dot. In fact, I was the first person to vote at my polling station – that’s how bloody eager I was. Now, I hope that those people reading this post who were able to vote in this election, did. Nothing frustrates me more (apart from the Tory win at this election, but we will come to that…) than people who don’t vote when they are eligible to do so!

I made sure to read the manifestos of the parties thoroughly – apart from the Lib Dems, whose manifesto lacked so much clarity that I personally didn’t see the point in continuing. In my opinion, the Conservative manifesto was all about Brexit. In fact, that’s not even an opinion – they proudly claim this themselves. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Although Brexit is very important to me, it’s not the only thing that influenced my vote. Over the next 5 years, we have more to worry about than just Brexit. This should not have been a Brexit election.

If you have read my post on climate change (you can do so here), then you will know that I am extremely concerned about the future of the planet. So any manifestos that speak thoroughly to solving this global issue, go down favourably with me. I also care about issues like the cost of living, accessibility to skilled jobs, affordable housing and homelessness, crime and the way that we view and respond to immigration.

Now, with all of this in mind, I read the manifestos of the Conservative and Labour parties. My constituency has a majority Conservative hold so I was torn between tactical voting (Lib Dems) and genuinely just voting for who I most found my beliefs aligned with. I simply cannot support a Conservative government, when it means that the prime minister is a man who has repeatedly insulted every minority and under-privileged group in this country. Everyone that’s not a rich white man essentially. He is sexist, homophobic and he’s a racist. Referring to Muslim women as letterboxes and black children as picaninnies – are we just going to excuse this along with the long list of offensive things he’s said in the past? For a quick run through, you can read about them here. Or, you could just research him yourself and become informed about the kind of man that is going to be running this country for the next 5 years. Anyone who supports or even worse, tries to defend this man – well, frankly I don’t want to hear it.

The result of this election has been angering me all weekend. Genuinely, I am so disappointed. I think that the Conservative party is the worst party of them all and I just cannot understand why so many people voted for them. The only explanations I have for this, are that voters secretly share his controversial views and that he gained much of his support through leading his manifesto with Brexit.

Brexit has been going on since 2016. It’s now almost 2020. I know that this has been drawling on tirelessly. We’re all fed up of hearing about it on the news because we never get any clarity as to what is actually happening. We voted and the result of that vote, four years later, has not been fulfilled. It’s shambolic. During this time, we saw David Cameron immediately resign, Theresa May continually lead us into more and more disarray and then we got Boris as prime minister – who promises to get this whole ordeal sorted quickly and finally. To debate Brexit is really a separate topic on its own. I want to remain in the EU for several different reasons – the freedom to travel, work and live in any other EU country, access to emergency healthcare in any EU country as well as the option to seek help from an EU embassy outside of the EU if I’m abroad, the fact that the single market and trade sustains masses of UK jobs and businesses, which keeps the country thriving and the wider influence that we have from being part of a large union. These are just my reasons laid out simply, as I’m not going to be debating Brexit in this post. But I do feel that people voted Conservative not because they want to leave the EU with Boris’ deal or because they want to leave at all, but simply because they want to Get Brexit done. I’ve watched interviews with members of the public on this and even many of the remain voters say they just want to get this over with now. Boris promises to do that. People like Boris because he promises to do that and they believe that he will.

But for me, this vote was not just about Brexit. The Labour manifesto advocates change: It’s time for real change. There is a whole section on how they will lead a green industrial revolution through switching to renewable energy. This will create one million more jobs and reduce the cost of energy bills. Labour also recognise that the biggest polluters of our planet are in the wealthiest percentage of the population. If you read the Labour manifesto and compare it to the Lib Dems, you will find that Labour clearly details the how and the Lib Dems simply state that they are going to make sure they do this and that, without actually explaining the workings behind any of it. Saving the planet is my biggest concern and I felt that the Labour manifesto was the only one, out of all three manifestos that I considered, that gave this the detail and attention it deserves.

There is a whole section on tackling poverty and inequality – something the Conservatives only mention in passing. Not to mention that the homepage of their manifesto is scattered with images of white people and nobody else, when this is a multi-cultural country. Labour consider lots of different types of people in their manifesto – unemployed, self-employed, households with one person working, teenagers on minimum wage, people working full-time but facing too-high living costs, excessive working hours and the recognition that a healthy working environment allows you time to switch off. They also speak to several different injustices – gender differences and closing the pay gap, racial and religious injustice, taking care of our younger workers to make sure that they are not exploited with low pay and zero hour contracts. It’s the most inclusive manifesto.

Labour talk about making the NHS a zero-carbon service and investing in mental health to ensure that more people have access to the help they need. When they talk about the police, they talk about improving the relationship between communities and the police, providing more training and proportionate stop-and-searches. Unlike the Tories, who pledge to put 20,000 more officers on the streets and increase their powers to stop-and-search. They mention making stop-and-searches fair and proportionate, without even acknowledging the ways in which it currently isn’t. So how are we supposed to believe that they know what is fair and proportionate? There is one mention of the word minority in their manifesto and it is in reference to the ‘criminal minority’. There is one mention of ethnicity and religion, lumped together can I add and not addressed as separate entities. It simply states that a Conservative government will protect people from physical attack and harassment, without stating how and again, without recognising the specific problems that people are facing within these contexts. They just mention this for the sake of mentioning it.

The Conservative manifesto talks about ‘prevent[ing] any foreign interference in elections’. Which brings me on to the fact that there were so many European citizens who were turned away from their polling stations on Thursday and refused the right to vote! At the same time, there were people who didn’t receive their postal votes or received them the day after the election. I mean, really? These are the things we need to be talking about. If you ever want to get a sense of what is really happening to people in this world, read your Twitter feed. I’m not saying that Twitter is the voice of truth, but in a way, it is the voice of many people’s truths. The voice that speaks to the things you won’t be able to read about or hear on the news.

I voted Labour because, in my opinion, their discussions are holistic. They have detail and numbers in their manifesto to ensure we clearly understand the what and the how. You can question those numbers if you like but there are explanations behind what they say. It’s the most thorough and detailed manifesto I have read. I’m disappointed that more people didn’t vote Labour, I really am.

As I’m sure you can tell, I am really frustrated by the result of this election. In fact, it’s been irritating me all weekend. I know that the result is the result and we can’t change it now but I’m allowed to have my views, I’m allowed to be annoyed and I’m allowed to express why. For the next 5 years I have to have Boris Johnson as my prime minister and I really couldn’t think of anything worse.

What are your thoughts on the result?