*I recorded myself reading this post if you would rather listen to my marvellous voice.
We interrupt your daily pandemic life with some Andreea-related stories. No, this isn’t a pandemic revelation, rather an “I’m unemployed seeking to delve inside my soul and discover who I am before I jump into another job/city/life and distance myself from my essence even more” type of situation.
Some of you may already know that 2019 was a difficult year for me. From the loss of my grandparents to the loss of people that have hurt me and that I felt brought rivers of toxicity in an already shadowy forest that my mind is, I lost a lot. On the other hand, I gained knowledge, life experience, wisdom, the ability to make better choices, etc. As unfortunate as I was to feel anger and pain, I found comfort and soothing remedies in some other beautiful people who were bright and kind enough to take some of my pain and replace it with love and acceptance. After much stress and difficulty, and many lessons learned, I needed to leave Barcelona behind for a while, to reassess my thoughts, plan better, and be happier upon my (if) return.
What does one do when one is unemployed, in a town with no friends (other than a beloved partner) and living with parents again? One reflects. Getting deep into “who you are”, trying to “detach oneself from thoughts”, “enjoy the present”, and everything else that comes with a mid-20’s crisis can be quite tiring. Who knew doing nothing, being purposeless, and lacking social interaction could be so mentally draining?
People hurting you can be a pain in the ass but realising how you’ve been hurting yourself can be even more stressful and disappointing. In my travels to the depths of Andreea land, there comes an awful conclusion: I perceived my body as my enemy for a long time and now it’s fighting back.
I was a chubby child. The time I spent in primary and secondary school was surrounded with encouragement to accept everyone and look at others through a non-judgemental lens (at least that’s how it went with my generation). However, that didn’t keep away the kids around the block and the constant bullies calling me names; it also made me feel uneasy when some kids would play with me as I had internalised a feeling that every time they looked at me they were disgusted by my body.
My parents have always been supportive. They encouraged me to do sports. I always refused. Not because I was lazy, rather I didn’t want to be seen. Fat bodies were (and mostly still are) viewed with disgust and judgement: “you are lazy, you are not careful, you are not self-loving”. And when someone does try to lose weight for whatever reason, they’d all laugh at the effort, as if no matter how hard you try to be who they tell you in magazines, on TV, and even social media, you will always be a fatty. And so, I was ashamed and fearful of the school gym hours, for example, avoiding to do anything that would cause my classmates to look at me, laugh, judge, boasting in their superiority of having a “thin” body. What I was most ashamed of was the male gaze, as theirs was the harshest. I imagine most young girls felt aware of their male classmates’ gaze regardless of body shape, as we encourage our men to objectify women at a young age; but that’s a discussion for another time.
Men would never like me because of my muffin tops or thick thighs, which in the first few years of high-school I would cover with baggy or black clothes. I didn’t want to be seen. Back then, I also couldn’t find clothes my size in Romania, so would always buy them from abroad (quite a good reflection of how size L+ bodies were excluded from existence in society).
Much of my life revolved around this vicious circle of not caring for my body due to shame and fear, as well as wanting to be invisible because I felt that I occupy too much space with my being or needed to hide my imperfections. Most of my teenage years and even earlier than that, I went for something that I thought gave results by malnourishing myself and putting my body under long periods of starvation: the blessed diet.
Let me clarify that I am not ditching dieting in general, rather the types of diets popular in the first decade of the 21st C, where you would eat poorly for a certain amount of time and then whoooosh back to the pantry of sweets we go once it’s over because hey we gotta reward ourselves after all that hard work! There is much dispute around diets and everyone has the freedom to choose, yet a teenager who’s going through this process several times throughout a year, always obsessing over the results and being disappointed with the poor outcomes, is in a rollercoaster of joy and suffering. Since then, more research came out on nutrition and I came to better understand some facts, especially after becoming a vegetarian. On the topic of “where do I get my protein from” “but you still each cheese no” we’ll discuss another time.
In order to make up for my failure of having a few more kgs than a “normal” person would, I became a smart-ass and looked to outwit most of my peers, often ending up in arrogance or snobbery. The more rejection from others I faced, the more I had to make up for it and the bigger the “try-hard” I became. Funnily enough, I wanted to be smart effortlessly. To be smart, you must do so without failure, because failure makes you a loser, a pariah, society laughing at you while its belly rolls in circles over the snack-filled table. I couldn’t possibly fail, because I was already a failure given my fat body. I couldn’t be beautiful like those other girls and I couldn’t dress up fashionably or have any type of style because the only style was that of the thin body, which not only fatties like me couldn’t try out, but many shapes and bodies in the world. Because we are all different and trying to be the same as some pain-striken image in whatever media is suicide.
Of course, I learned all of this much later. The starting point was university, where I opened my eyes to how the media is all lies and that advertising wants to make you miserable so you could buy more things to fill up that void. How it’s all interconnected, how capitalism fucked me up. Ironic, given that I grew up in a country severely recovering from communism (after 31 years, I can confirm we are still recovering).
Something that consistently helped me gain more self-confidence and empathy was theatre. With it, I was able to leave my coat of invisibility in the backstage in order to be free in front of the dusty curtains of various stages. I loved theatre and still do, even wanted to go and study it at university. That didn’t happen. I’d internalised the idea that actresses need to be beautiful = skinny and maybe blonde; if not at least with bright eyes. Also, actors are poor, because they are artists, and artists are poor, because society is very conflicted when it comes to art as a means to make money. AIN’T ART GONNA SAVE THE WORLD! Get outtaaaa heeeereeeeeeeeeeee… Conclusion: no place for me on stage.
Speaking of university, insecurities surrounding my body would worsen after leaving Romania and moving abroad. Despite being more confident, the leftovers of the voice telling me I should stay invisible because I’m a failure were still whispering. I was used to men rejecting me – the U.K offered me the spotlight. I suddenly wasn’t the fat one anymore! Huraaay this country has a serious weight problem and 90% of the people I know who’ve lived there had gained weight at some point. I wonder why…? Anyway, time to explore all the wonders the male sex has to offer. Make sure to use Tinder to meet a lot of them, because finding self-worth in men’s opinions is the right way to go! Quantity over quality! I’m all about that millennial lifestyle where we hide our feelings and sacrifice our time and energy to please people who don’t even give a shit about us! Wooohooo partyyyy my body IS NOT a temple!!!
And that was me. For about 6 years (with minor interruptions). Luckily, this period ended and I am on the way to self-love and acceptance without having to confirm it with the male gaze. Yet, I spent years of fighting over their attention with my female counterparts, constantly comparing myself to other girls, finding their flaws and putting them on a pedestal, bringing each other down in “cat fights” that live in masculine fantasies. I judged my sex harshly, finding ways in which I was superior to popular or beautiful or simply existing women.
Because that’s what society needs: more women hating on women.
I followed the mentality of “yeah I enjoy spending more time with guys than girls as it’s less drama and men are more easy-going” (I am talking here from a cis heteronormative view). Turns out, boys (not men?) love to swim deep in drama while your girlfriends are there with tea and blankets and wisdom to help heal your wounds. Hell, they’ll even lick your wounds. The female energy is a blessing and the feminine one (which all of us hold in our souls whether we like that or not) a never-ending mystery.
If you managed to get to this point, congratulations. I thank you and send my deepest love to you. By now, you have grasped a sense of my insecurities throughout the years, my fear of failure and expecting myself to do everything perfectly from the first try, my invisibility cloaks (the Harry Potter type), the vicious circle of ignoring physical activity because I could never succeed in the face of society, the self-assurance I looked for in the wrong places, the hate I lived with for the feminine. Some maybe think why the fuck is Andreea sharing all this long deep personal shit with us? Well, I’ve been asked what’s up with my blog and I wanted to share with you some of my transformation. I even started doing more physical activity because I want to be healthy and fix some of the things of my past, rather than focus on “losing weight”. I want to be healthy and happy – if my body changes with the process, whatever shape it may take, it’s just a consequence.
I hope that by seeing how my life has been affected by one grain of hatred that turned into a large field, I would encourage you to reflect upon yourselves as well, and see what comes up. Cause in the end, what better time for deep personal shit other than today?
Many of you have been asking me what’s going on with my blog.
What’s going on with my blog?
We’re used with things coming out and about whenever we want them to. In this day and age, if something good is going on, it means we want more of it, and we want it now. We’re not living in an age of instant gratification and immediacy just to not receive things whenever we want, right? Andreea, give us bloooog!
It’s been 8 months since I last published something – it feels like it’s been 8 days. I haven’t stopped writing, though. It’s just a matter of being ready to share things publicly, to allow myself and my thoughts to be known and invaded by other’s opinions and thoughts in return, whether they’re positive or negative. I started things, I finished others, some fictional, some inspired by “real” situations. Bits of text that were too personal to share or too controversial to even write about, bits of text that had more than one main character that often ends up not being in my life anymore. Characters come and go, lessons are learned or forgotten, you grow or you stay the same.
I am on a journey of self-discovery.
Never in my life have I been more aware of myself.
Never before have I been more confused as to who I am.
Never in my life have I been more conscious of the people around me and their beings.
Never before have I known so much about culture.
‘Are you ok, Andreea?’
A while ago, someone passed by me on the way to his destination and, for some reason, he asked me this question. No prejudice, no assumption, no tone. Just the weight of those words floating in the air, connecting the unknown between us. What does one do when faced with such a dilemma?
In my mind, the classic cliche unfolded. No, I’m not ok. I’m stressed and tired, lost and confused, longing for that which I cannot have and pushing away that which I do have. I entertain myself with mindless distractions and engage in the endless illusion of money and its power over the opportunities in my life. I’m stuck in the misery of the modern lifestyle while the urban environment is constricting me from breathing gulps of fresh mountain air. Is it still fresh when half of its trees are repurposed for farming? Is it still fresh when the layer above it is contaminated by airplane chemtrails? Is it still fresh when the waters are flowing through streams of pollution?
Of course, it’s all about perspective. Some would find my situation to be the best compared to others – I do eat every day and I can afford all the necessities. Yet, I find myself imprisoned with the need for money in order to survive, as I’ve never lived in the wild and natural resources are too out of reach in the city. I could give up money and everything that comes with it, but I’m too comfortable to reach into the unknown. Nature has become the unknown nowadays, providing for yourself and surviving the threat of a physical death is something our ancestors had to worry about.
Things have changed. We’re under the threat of an intellectual and conceptual death. What does it matter that our bodies decay, if our legacy lives on? What does it matter that we destroy everything around us, as long as there are still people around to talk to about it? Concepts and imagination push each other aside to win over the mind. We’ve come very far on the evolutionary scale and established ourselves as “superior” to all the rest, even those amongst our own species. Speech and fantasy are what brought us evolution – the intellect, the mind, the synapses whose work still remains a mystery to solve.
What’s most baffling to me is how two humans, two fundamentally similar beings, can be so different when it comes to aspects of the mind and “human” conduct, aspects technically developed through the commonality of speech. Ethics, morality, and beliefs determined by culture, education, experience… there’s not one overarching element. Relationships last forever or they break with screams, all because of our minds and the craving for the physical.
It’s assumptive of me to blame it on culture or evolution. Blame it on the people. Blame it on the individual. Blame it –
“Andreea, you need to be more positive, dear.”
‘Yes, I’m good. And you?’ I answered.
‘Yes… Why are you smiling?’
‘Because not a lot of people ask me that question. Thank you’.
The meaning of his words was more than a casualty thrown out of the sake of courtesy or the sake of social interaction. That’s when you feel that a person becomes valuable to you and you develop a relationship of care and trust. Sadly, we betrayed each other’s trust in the meantime. We come into each other’s lives, we make mistakes, we learn lessons, we move on. Is he a bigger person for doing things I don’t agree with? Am I a bigger person for believing I am right based on my morality and ethics, my culture and education? Who’s to say – God, who doesn’t even say much?
Not sure what the point of this post is (this seems to happen often). People, culture, the self, self-sufficient millennial ramblings that run through my head? Maybe I’m writing only when I’m trying to convince myself of certain things. By encouraging others, I’m subtly sending my brain and ego signals convincing me that I have to follow my own advice. What’s clear is that I’m suffering a culture shock, especially with myself. I try to be less of who I am and more of who you all want me to be.
But what does that help me with?
We interrupt your New Year’s resolution with a horrid statement: time is an illusion. 😮
Let’s say my NY resolution is to reach a new level in my romance zone – the switch from British to French boys should evolve to a new zip code and personality trait. But you can’t reset what you feel as easily as you mechanically reset a machine (rumour has it machines will soon start feeling as well so maybe this is not the most accurate comparison but at the same time hey the future is near A.I. will take over aaaaahhhhhh we’re getting distracted).
New Years’ and birthdays, things I’ve always been ambivalent to. Call me a hater or a sad person that doesn’t want to celebrate the privilege of being born and experiencing the passing of time.
Standing on the cold tile of my new flat’s balcony and watching the fading of a sunset sky, I contemplated the ephemeral nature of time. As I was gazing in the distance, the colours played in rosey gradients, reconstructing the glass and concrete silhouettes that gave shape to a modern skyline. The contour of the mountains in the background turned darker and darker, along with the minutes floating into the evening.
I became aware of time.
It’s a strange feeling, that moment. Being so present makes you oblivious to how time moves with you. A 15 minute change in environment felt like an eternal second. It made me ponder on how humanity started defining temporal concepts in order to make sense of the greatest aspects of our lives: time.
We categorize and think about it ‘all the time’ – we’re running out of it, we have too much of it, we think too much of either what was or what will be, and our perception of its flow is constantly changing depending on the activity that we’re doing. Hours turn into days and days turn into seconds.
The only way is forward and we can’t undo what’s already been done – this is basic, common knowledge, yet we ‘always’ seem to forget. I like to believe that I stopped thinking about the past as much, but how can it be possible when I keep longing for certain aspects of it to be part of my present and future?
No one wants the entirety of the past assaulting us at every thought, yet the past is what represents us best and it’s why we’re so attached to it. Without it, we would not be able to communicate, have personality traits, be… us, with our individualism and uniqueness, differentiating us from the others. As you grow up, you evolve and take in experiences that ‘make you’. The past ‘makes’ us. We ‘make’ the future. The present’s just chilling in the corner.
We keep track of time to assess how much the past has changed us and how much we shall evolve in the future. We want to assess how meaningful our lives are by analyzing our mistakes and setting positive goals for the future. What a great year 2018 was, let 2019 be even better! And for some reason we keep forgetting that there’s today as well.
I think setting resolutions and being self-aware is the bread and butter of a good breakfast – sorry, I meant living a life that won’t make your mind swirl around in circles with regards to life’s meaning and the philosophical disposition of being. The problem is that we don’t keep track of time to know who we are in this exact moment, right now.
Far back in history, people used to follow the sun: it was the arbiter of the flow of time. Nowadays, society forgot about the sun – it’s too busy burying its nose deep in some phone clocks or expensive wrist watches. In the 16th Century, Galileo measured motions using his pulse. Today, we’re barely aware of our heartbeat unless it’s under stress and sending our brain terrified signals to… feel.
The time you do something doesn’t have to be in 2019 or 2024 and it doesn’t have to be about things you could’ve done or could do. The time to make a change is now. The moment you’re present is when you’re actually experiencing time. Now is the only moment you’ll ever have. Now is the moment to change, evolve, create, explore, become the best version of yourself, as you want it to be.
So, my 2019 resolution for us all is the following: don’t wait in order to effect change – especially since, from an environmental point of view, we only have a decade left to set things right. Be conscious of your thoughts, your body, your voice. Listen. Do things at your own pace and set goals based on your own perception of time and ambition, without the pressure of the outside world or societal organizations of time – well, don’t come to work at 12 p.m just cause you’re not taking standard clocks into consideration anymore.
But, most importantly, start now. Live now. Be now.
I want to talk about a city that changed my life.
Well, all the places and spaces that we flow through have a sort of influence on ourselves, our behaviours, our hobbies. Lancaster helped me develop as a student and set the stepping stones into adulthood. Manchester was the bridge between a life in a small town to a cosmopolitan one. Hah. I suppose size does matter… when it comes to the space you’re living in, of course. Bigger cities mean less time to do basically anything because of the endless possibilities to do everything.
Barcelona is all the personalities you could think of in one. Its saturation and complexity surprise you on a daily basis – you feel something new every day. The more you interact with the city, the infinity of smells, the pollution, the colours, the thieves, the heavy, humid breath, the love… the more you want. Barcelona lures you into its charms and hugs you in its strong arms. It wants you to know that whatever you need, it’s there for you – from technological advancements to creative flares and fresh tans.
Barcelona sings with the never-ending international and local chatter, the piercing motorbike exhaust pipes, the rattle of cutlery and plates, the sound of the waves, the squeaky or husky barks, the muffled techno bass in the background… At night it dozes off in a dreamless sleep, perpetually interrupted by groups of loud drunk party-goers and garbage trucks. In the morning, it breathes in combinations of sea salt, exhaust fumes, olive oil and garlic (sometimes dog shit or pee as well because not everything is dreamy).
Barcelona is social, you’re in constant communication with either people, the sun, buildings, narrow streets or marble floors. The good and the bad of the city merge together to create a conflicted relationship within yourself. So many of the people I’ve met told me they’re in awe every day: ‘I can’t believe I live in Barcelona’, ‘It’s amazing to be here all the time’. I smile and nod, thinking that as true as that is, as amazing, inspiring, and breath-taking this city is, it can often make you feel lonely. You’re surrounded by people and interactions, yet rarely do they become substantial enough to be meaningful. This is a result of an industrialised, commercial lifestyle. Never before have we felt so alone in a sea of people.
It’s impossible to feel like that for a long time – when you have an infinity of options regarding activities, work, and play, how could one? Barcelona is your parent, sibling, and friend, it can guide you through its narrow romantic streets or through its wide modern boulevards towards old or new passions and achievements. It nurtures you as you worship its godly self. Unfortunately, as with most things humans tend to love and admire, we start to destroy what matters most to us.
Barcelona is scared. Its sense of identity is shifting and it cries out in pain for all the theft, abuse, pollution, and illegality tainting its walls. During hot summer days, its concrete pavement suffocates from all the petrol and human waste while the flustered sea brings countless bits of trash to the shore. Its neighbourhoods are often disturbed by intensified screams and creepy stares. Barcelona is hurt, yet it constantly strives to BE better, to achieve MORE.
Barcelona is my mentor. Its complexity, visual aesthetics, and strength inspire me while the way it loves and celebrates life fills me with a constant desire to enjoy every moment of it. Maybe in a few years, it won’t feel like that anymore. Maybe in a few years, I will move on to new spaces. Yet, its beauty will forever remind me of how it helped me grow and frame my identity.
I am Barcelona. We all are.
The sound of typing.
Do you know that feeling when you want to start something but then get caught up in the process leading up to that something and never manage to actually do what you had planned? I’m sure you’ve been through this.
For example, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post since publishing the previous one. And I always want to keep on writing after having finished a piece. Yet somehow… I end up not doing it. Again. It seems to me that I only sit down and properly contemplate once in a few months. Why is that? Is it because only once in a few months certain events happen in my life and I feel inspired to write, express, comfort myself? Is it because only then I get the time, the mood, the inspiration? I don’t know how to answer these questions, and it’s definitely not relevant to what I’m about to say. But, I feel like I needed an excuse, an apology. To you, dear reader, but mostly… to myself.
I spent the past hour looking for a good writing tool that would inspire me to keep focused once I get cracking. I ran several tests, and after finding the one, here I am (gotta say Scrivener is kinda cool). But I still procrastinate. I noticed this when I work as well. I do something important for a few minutes, then automatically check my phone for social media or any other distraction that will help my mind breathe after all those 5 mins of hard work. I get distracted when I watch a movie, or am at the gym, in the metro, and so on. My attention span is getting shorter and shorter, and the number of articles that I read (or try to) and videos that I watch (while browsing on my phone at the same time) confirm that most people nowadays do the same. No wonder that due to our shortened attention spans, we no longer have the time or focus to reflect on someone else’s
Hey. Trying to prove a point here. Got distracted for a bit.
I’m sure everyone’s read at least an article on how we don’t have the patience, focus, and determination ‘we used to’. We’re growing impatient while walking on the street, when we’re tired, hungry, waiting in line, for a text, anything… We’re especially impatient when we are out of our comfort zone. We pay less attention to books, hobbies, people. We don’t have time to commit. We need to focus on ourselves, on our careers, our future, but let’s not forget the past, and maybe it’s better to live in the present and I think that
Oh, time. Thyme? We got distracted again.
It’s because my phone keeps wanting to be in my hand. I think I’m different than others, ‘Oh I don’t spend all my time on social media’, ‘I post only once every few months on Facebook now’, but alas I’m lying to myself. I used to judge people for checking their phones first thing in the morning and endlessly browsing through feeds without seeing that I was doing exactly the same. Hypocrite (insert angel emoji). What would it be like if I inserted an emoji in this blog post right now? Let’s see.
Dammit, Andreea. This attention span needs to be longer than 6 lines a paragraph.
Social media, you either love it or hate it. But we don’t like dualism, dear, things aren’t always just black and white. They can be grey, beige, purple, and all those combinations. I do feel both ways when it comes to it. For one, it does make you feel closer, connected to people who are far away from you. Distance is sometimes hard, but this helps us keep in touch in quite a busy modern lifestyle. Yet, we become a spectator of people’s lives, all through the lens of a wonderful device: the smartphone. And so, watching television has been replaced with watching videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Vine… (does anyone remember that?).
And then you have the opposite part of the lens. Us, the sharers. We express ourselves through our photos, words, we become a new persona. We carefully choose what and how to share and which angle and filter would work best to portray us (#datpronoundroppin). Is that a bad thing? I have to say I like my Instagram profile *product placement*. It’s a simple way for me to share part of my view of the world, allowing people to have a glimpse of my mind. Freedom of expression? Ahh let’s not talk about freedom, it’s too heavy of a subject.
But I also like my Instagram profile because of my phone. This piece of technology that changed how easily and quickly we can achieve things. We’re scared of artificial intelligence taking us over. To me, it seems that we’re just going hand in hand with it anyway. We open our eyes to it in the morning and stare till our eyelids lazily fall in front of the blue light screen. My screen is colour coded (yes, I am that person) and I just love watching the order of my apps because the colours are so beautiful and it gives my visual mind a sense of calm and relief (am I weird? I guess so) and the screen is so bright and the text looks so clear and I take pleasure from just looking at it and
uuuhhh heeeyyy capitalism just slapped me in the face. or it caressed me and thanked me for being its diligent follower.
So easy to be distracted in this mountain of choice. Many things to do, but so little time. Many things to write, but so little space.
Sorry, just seen someone’s messaged me. I better reply before I
in my head.
I get out of the metro. There’s no rush, there aren’t a lot of people around me I’m up the escalator and I’m typing a message to a friend on Instagram we’ve met during Christmas it’s a funny story I finish texting him, saying that I can’t wait to get home and read Harry Potter and go to sleep am I boring? I don’t know… a guy is climbed up on a ladder trying to fix a light in the ceiling of this somewhat dirty metro stop I walk past him and watch three girls coming down the stairs: black, pink, blue I keep walking and walking and walking and oh there’s three gentlemen and oh god that’s such an ugly cockroach and then I walk and I think to myself thank God I’m not sleeping in the streets, thank my parents actually for supporting me for so long giving me the life, well now I’m living the life, but am I really? well I have money and a shelter and I’m going to bed soon and ooops I almost bumped into someone and now I walk past the red… red windmill as in a bad replica of the Paris Moulin Rouge and then I keep walking and pass by trees and grey pavements and loud cars rushing and rushing towards who knows where? I wouldn’t want to be rushing anywhere our entire lives are just an endless stream of rushing… rushing… I keep thinking to myself… well I’m very deep in thought right now but I’m interrupted by this couple saying good-bye in front of a large, black door.
oh they’re speaking in English, but I wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying, to the meaning of the words they were saying I am just surprised that they’re speaking in English well it’s not like that is not an often occurrence in this city. He kisses her on the cheek maybe it’s a first date maybe not maybe they’re friends they’re quite old maybe not that old and then they’re gone and now I see two women kissing each other on the cheek hugging each other speaking in Catalan ‘yeah well I will see you again maybe at that …?’ and the other one starts talking about her plans for the weekend and I question myself how do I even understand without even understanding?
hey this is interesting, looking at people, looking around me, watching and taking everything in, the streets, the lights, the silence, the footsteps, the noise, my breath, people sleeping, people eating, people dreaming and screaming, maybe I’m going to remember all of this so I keep walking. I see a man walking his dog, it’s a very tiny dog, he’s throwing something in the trash I keep walking and I see so many bikes and I think to myself oh I really need to buy a bike but am I going to buy a bike? what about money? well… money… I look at my reflection in the restaurant window several people are having dinner as I get onto the street filled with restaurants and people eating and drinking and enjoying life, but are they really enjoying life? what exactly is happening in their minds? what is it that upsets them, or makes them happy. so many people talking so much noise plates forks clutter drinks glasses chatter where am I? who are they? some of them are tourists, maybe on a date but there’s a lot of groups here as well are they all tourists? do they speak the local language? do they speak more? they’re all of different faces, ages, features, I look at a waiter he’s smoking a cigarette, hunting to see whoever’s gonna pay the bill.
and I turn around the corner. oh a handsome man smoking a cigarette looking on his phone, of course he’s looking on his phone everyone is on their phones these days including me sometimes well who would’ve thought that I’m not perfect? but does perfection lie in not using your phone? there’s the guy at that restaurant who always returns my gaze back when I pass by and look through the window. I really need to buy some empanadas from there one day will I ever find out his name? I keep walking and walking and there’s only the sound of my footsteps left on the street and I think to myself am I gonna get home and manage to remember all of these thoughts and everything that I’m thinking? am I gonna be able to write all of this down?
ah noise so much noise after all that silence and quietness and peace so much noise from that motorbike and it’s screeching and scratching my eardrums and I think to myself of course pollution transportation motors grey dark industry capitalism death ah there’s a car and its so intrusive with those flashlights so strong i turn left and I’m so close to home but I trip on a little hole in the ground because everything is under construction in this society and a city is defined by the amount of concrete it has growing within it and i see a policeman he’s playing with some keys in his pocket and he’s also smoking why is everyone smoking? and those keys are so loud why am I even thinking why am I not shutting up can’t i just keep walking without a constant buzz in my head?
I’m so close to getting home, there’s a person across the road speaking in Italian maybe? melone, corleone, I don’t even know hahaha am I actually laughing in my mind oh two joggers I will definitely go to the gym as well yes of course this is what I keep telling myself and two cars cross and a key enters the keyhole and I get inside of the elevator and I look at my reflection in the mirror and why am I looking in all reflections that I pass by why do I need this feeling of safety that the person thinking and staying in front of this mirror is actually… me? I feel so much comfort, why does knowing who we are make us feel like this well I suppose it’s good to know that I’m back to myself after being in the minds of so many people… walking and listening to their conversations and their voices and I take a deep breath in but I put the wrong key in the door and this is the first time it’s happening since I moved here well I suppose it was bound to happen since I’ve been streaming of thoughts but here I am, in my room, so much comfort, so much silence, I open my computer, and then… I start typing.
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who accessed, skimmed through, or even read my previous post. It looks like over 170 of you saw the post, and I really appreciate your interest (much love, many hearts). I will definitely tackle on the topic of relationships, ghosting, dating etc. in the future, as these are aspects that every single one of us goes through, and they often become part of our identity.
And speaking of identity, it’s a topic that will be discussed today. I spent a lot of time thinking what to write about next. There are so many thoughts and opinions that go through my mind, or that I listen to, that sometimes I wish I’d have a ‘pensieve’ (like in Harry Potter), where I could take all my memories and put them in a bucket and then sink into the bucket of abyss (well I’m just blabbering now so let’s get down to business).
A couple of years ago, in my third year of university, I remember taking a course on nations and migration, as well as intercultural identities. One of the many interesting subjects we debated then was a ‘sense of belonging’, or what we mean when we talk about ‘home’. I recollect how a lot of us wanted to make the differentiation between ‘home’, as in where our family lives, and ‘home’, as in our student accommodation at the time. A home doesn’t only refer to a physical space where you grew up in, but also to your country, culture, understanding of the world. I believe that the most important aspects of making a ‘home’ is culture and… objects. Things. The realm of the physical.
We are so attached to things that it came to a point where we are characterised by them. We don’t feel comfortable in a new space unless we fill out that space with bits and pieces that we think represent our selves. When we move into a new house, it does not become a home until we’ve spread around our personal photographs, clothes, books, computer, decorations… everything that we hold dear. Time also plays an important part of this house-home transition. The more time we spend in a place, the more comfortable we feel there.
Of course, there are people that have left all these physical and material objects behind. And they feel so much better. They are free from the physical constraints of space and can do whatever they want. They are backpackers, travellers, adventurers, or minimalists, people who are content with who they are and what they have (or don’t). People who grew tired with all the clutter in their lives, and wanted to belong anywhere and nowhere at the same time. Or just people that realised value shouldn’t reside in things, but experiences, memories, or other unquantifiable and spiritual/ emotional aspects. But are we strong, determined, or willing enough to let go? To lose our sense of ‘belonging’, in order to live freely and assess a new identity of… ‘not belonging’?
Culture, or rather a sense of national identity, is another aspect of making us ‘belong’. I believe that culture came before nations, even though today, one is more transparent than the other. I spent quite a bit of my teen life traveling through Europe, thanks to my beloved mother and her job. The division between ‘us and them’ stroke me every time I would land or take off in or from a foreign country. And after moving to the UK for my studies, I started to feel a bit weird when I’d come back to Romania for the holidays, and all of a sudden everyone was speaking, behaving, and looking… Romanian.
But then, I remembered Benedict Anderson’s notion of ‘imagined communities’ (throwback to uni, once again). Anderson claimed that nations are alive only because our minds imagined and socially created them. He talks quite a lot about how the printed press (his book was published in 1983 so the internet wasn’t really a thing back then) helps in delimiting this boundary of ‘nationess’, by also creating a division between the local and global, the ‘us and them’. This for me became extremely clear during Daily Mail’s campaign against Romanians and Bulgarians, after the work restrictions had been lifted. One would think that ‘divide and conquer’ is not the norm anymore, but in a present where break-ups are the norm (be them political or romantical), maybe we were wrong to assume that.
After living in the U.K for 4 years, I ended up doubting to whom my loyalties lay. I was born and raised in a culture, yet I don’t identify with it anymore. I spent 4 years in the other, where my acculturation process went quite well, but despite taking over some of the characteristics of that culture, I still don’t identify with it. At the moment, I am in limbo. Or maybe I just lost my ability to imagine… communities. But in the end, there’s nothing wrong with being on the grey line, instead of the black/ white one. Things shouldn’t always be definitive, deterministic, and other D words. We shouldn’t be defined just by ONE culture, but by every bit that we’ve experienced. Or maybe we shouldn’t be defined at all.
So, the next time someone asks you, ‘where are you from?’, think for a second. Are you a backpacker, traveler, an adventurer, or something completely off the books? Where do you really belong?
P.S Thank you Dan, for helping me sort this post out!
I have an issue with modern dating. Actually, with dating in general. Actually no, with relationships. In fact, I have an issue with society and humanity as a whole. Why, oh why do we spend countless of hours, texts, emotions, energy, hoping that we will have the time of our lives, but always living in fear of being hurt or rejected? Of course, I’m being a bit negative here, relationships are what determine our lives, from the moment we get out of our mother’s womb to (most of the times) our deathbed. All this time, our histories have been tainted by our obsession with sex and passionate pain. But nowadays we don’t go and kill our lover for cheating on us (well, depends doesn’t it), now we just block them on social media, ignore them or trash them out, again on social media or to our friends, or if we pass by them on the street we act like we’ve never seen this person before in our life.
It’s so easy to disregard people, and so many of my dissertation participants have mentioned being ghosted or just ignored, with no apparent reason other than ‘the other person just stopped replying’. It’s rude, disrespectful, and a perfect example of how fluid and malleable our daily lives and identities are nowadays, or what Giddens, this sort of badass sociologist, called ‘confluent love’. This type of love is short-term and disposable, and partners should actually split up if they do not feel comfortable with each other anymore, or if one is annoying the other. It seems that we no longer care to ‘commit’ to our significant other, or work towards rebuilding or fixing the relationship, rather act the same way as we do with everything now: broken phone? No worries, I’ll get a new one. Had a fight with a friend? That b**** is gone from my life. Some might say that this is not true, but what I noticed is that my generation constantly tends to act this way (myself included).
Why is it so difficult to be honest with each other? Why can’t we just say ‘I’m sorry, but this is not going to work, because of this and this and that reason’? Why do we have to brush past people’s feelings and, if we receive questions or texts from the person we’re ignoring, we think they’re desperate or clingy (well, in some situations, they are?). Yes, it will definitely hurt the other person, but isn’t closure what everyone seeks when something with no explanation happens? When someone passes away and we don’t know why, the pain will linger much longer and will be stronger if we do not get closure. When someone tells us that we’ve done something wrong, the stress of what could’ve been done better is always greater unless they give us feedback and explanations as to why we’re mistaken. When we connect with someone so deeply and then they trash us out, the questions and racing thoughts will never stop unless we get closure. We tend to put the blame on ourselves, maybe we talked too much, maybe our jokes weren’t funny, maybe we sent too many texts, or maybe… maybe.
Then comes the question, who is at fault for this? Is it the other person for being ignorant and dismissive, or is it you for not ‘knowing better’ and letting yourself be fooled once again? Part of this concern is our fault, because now we are so used with building up unrealistic expectations of ‘instant messaging’, that if someone doesn’t reply within the minute we immediately expect the worst. ‘He doesn’t like me because he didn’t reply within 5 mins of my text!’, when the guy was probably on the toilet reading the ingredients for Glade because he forgot his phone in the other room. Some people are truly busy and do not have the time to reply straightaway. However, they usually don’t post on social media or ‘are active’ whilst not replying to you. Those are just… relentless, let’s say.
I mean, if you truly want to ignore someone, at least have the courtesy not to post on social media. Or maybe some even forget to reply. But if they forget to reply to your message, isn’t that enough of a sign that it’s not worth wasting your time with them? And this doesn’t apply to romantic interests only, but friends or acquaintances as well. Here I am, asking all these questions, proving how we became so obsessed with checking when ‘he/she was last online’, or wonder if the message went through, or ask why we were left on ‘seen’, and so on, constantly feeding into your irrational fears. Technology is so innovative and life-changing, but in a weird way we’ve managed to make it the most sickening way of communication.
I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have been in long-term relationships for years, and they often expressed their concern regarding today’s single life. ‘I don’t think I could do it, honestly, now with all these dating apps and all this effort… it is a lot of effort’, says my beautician after I explained the topic of my dissertation. Truth is, in today’s technological era I don’t even think we can get to know someone and fully commit again. We’re so used to texting and instant messaging that we don’t even take the time to meet up with a person face to face and relate to them on a ‘real’, meaningful basis (I’m talking here about situations were people are in the same city, not 500 kms apart). Again, several of my participants have complained of how when they met with a person they’d been speaking with through instant messaging or text, it often happened that they were dull, or not at all what they’d expected. We waste so much time texting and talking about meaningless things, which are good sometimes, but not ALL the time, that when we’re faced with each other there’s nothing left to say.
I’m not sure what the point of this first post is. Technology, dating, or both? I started writing it when I was furious because something similar had happened to me. We spent some amazing, quality time together and then I get the silent treatment, without doing anything wrong whatsoever (and I’m not being subjective here). Of course a stream of questions and doubts stormed through my mind, but luckily I have amazing friends and the capacity to realise that there is no point in living in the past and trying to relive what happened, or finding answers to my silly questions. When you have apps such as Tinder (which don’t get me wrong, can sometimes be of immense help when you want to meet people, especially in a new, foreign place), characterised by how quick and frail you can build relationships, of course we can’t expect the other person to always talk with us or to be sincere about their feelings. Unfollow, unfriend, unlike, delete. It’s so easy, isn’t it? So easy.
So let’s try to be more honest with one another, and let’s try to put more effort into building, mending, and maintaining relationships. Everyone knows that lying never does any good, yet we keep on lying and creating doubts. We keep on ignoring just because it’s not in our comfort zone to reply to someone, we just ‘can’t be bothered’. The truth hurts, but it’s the best step towards healing that one can get. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be on my way to have an honest conversation.