Floating between two worlds

Let’s make one thing clear. These ‘worlds’ may not necessarily be two different physical spaces. Do you feel that the persona you’re known for at work, and your identity outside of the workplace, are entirely different? Or maybe you’ve managed to build up an entire online persona that is miles away from how people who know you in the non-virtual world would describe you. Heck, you don’t even know which one you can confidently call your ‘true’ identity.
The migrant experience surely tests this notion. Migrants have to navigate between two different sets of cultures, mentalities, rules, regulations, customs, and whatnot. They are quasi-outsiders in a liminal zone, trying to find a comprehensive identity that is the sum of these two separate experiences. They are trying to foray into a brave new world, while, at the same time, attempting to find a sense of familiarity in the smallest of things. It’s no easy feat.
Before anyone starts commenting or debating the migrant experience, I sincerely invite you to spend some time reflecting on the incongruencies and the conflict of identities present in everyday life. Maybe that confusion can serve as a spark that ignites the flame of empathy for the individuals around you who are striving to create a new life for themselves.

Chasing Ghosts

Hammock – Then the Quiet Explosion

I have to admit…these last two days served a moment of deep reflection about where my life is heading. I’ve also reflected about the ghosts of the past – i.e. past memories, people, thoughts and places that I’ve found myself revisiting in some way or another, whether literally or metaphorically. It has made me realise how this one simple word – past – is the ultimate Pandora’s box of ‘what if’s,’ regrets and nostalgia.

How many times do you personally look back at your past, and wonder what could have happened if you had pursued that relationship, chosen that career path, moved to that place, did not do those things…

On the other hand, what if you try to pursue those past ‘what if’s’ now, in the present moment? Would you find that you’re still compatible with the one that got away? Would you find that the career path that you had dreamed of in your youth is still valid and compatible with your present self? Would Paris still fulfil the person you are now?

These are the ghosts of our past…ghosts that are still haunting us as life forces us to seamlessly move from one day to another, and years and experiences mould us and change us in unimaginable ways. How can we liberate ourselves from the ghosts that float in our shadow, reminding us of what could have happened differently, when we fleetingly glimpse at our changing and hardened faces in shop windows, each and every day?

Alas! I wish I had the answer to that one!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Haven’t written here in quite some time. Do you know that feeling when you’re constantly bombarded with work that you have to finish, and decisions that you have to make? Well, safe to say that March was that month for yours truly.

We’ve all been there. What’s more… the twenties are supposed to be the period in everyone’s life where a lot of changes happen at once (or so the world says). One day you’re in one particular place, the next day you’re in another (both literally and metaphorically). One day you feel like your life is a complete mess, the next day some miracle happens and you’re okay (at least for some time). One minute you’re stuck in routine, the next, everything’s changing so fast you don’t even know where you’re heading.

On the last day of March, let’s make a toast to the turbulent twenties. Let’s hope I manage to learn a thing or two after all this decision-making!

The Art of Letting Go

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February is definitely proving itself to be an interesting month. From birthdays to Galentine’s and Valentine’s, February is teaching me a lesson in the art of letting go.

During the second month of the year 2019, are you learning to let go?

From a personal standpoint, this month has been a steep learning curve. For starters, my birthday almost brought on an age crisis (‘Oh-where-has-my-childhood-gone type’)…this mere number that seems to have so much importance…at least if you let it control you and your perspective. Galentine’s Day made me reflect on the women in my life… the ones that inspire and challenge me, and also the ones that proved themselves to be a toxic nuclear meltdown. Next came Valentine’s Day – a day so highly revered by multinational corporations as a money-making machine, yet instead of harbouring this sentiment this year, I viewed it in a light-hearted manner, and took the time to appreciate the key people in my life.

If I could sum up my February in a few words, ‘the month of letting go’ would definitely be a good fit. Letting go of toxicity. Letting go of vices. Letting go of personal faults that have long been undealt with. Letting go of the past. Learning to take care of and appreciate my body for once. I wish I could master the art of letting go, but at the same time, I now realize, that like every other artistic discipline, it requires time, patience and dedication. Let this be the start of a beautiful, new chapter.

The Naked Truth behind Talent Competitions

Currently listening to – nothing

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After viewing all the hatred and bias directed towards the winner of a certain singing talent competition in my native Malta, I couldn’t help but wonder, are we truly encouraging youngsters today to flourish creatively, or are these so-called ‘talent competitions’ doing more harm than good?

Let’s take a look at the very root of the problem. First of all, these talent competitions are owned by multinational corporations, whose aim is not to expand the creative careers of young people, but to milk as much cash as possible from desperate youngsters who want to be ‘discovered’. Furthermore, we are fostering a mentality that promotes unhealthy competition, instead of encouraging and investing in young people’s creative output and giving them the tools necessary to take care of their mental well-being in tough industries such as the music industry. Instead, a lot of young people today think that the only way they can ‘make it’ is to take part in these competitions. What’s more, music labels prefer investing in artists who are already famous via these reality shows, rather than striving to discover and invest in developing artists who are truly trying to work hard on their musical output in an organic manner.

I am particularly disgusted by the way the public is trying to pit two teenage female contestants against each other. This brings another bigger issue into focus: the mentality of pitting women against each other, and tallying them up, rather than encouraging more women to involve themselves in the arts. It is a classic case of online bullying, with the aim of putting young women down and making them doubt themselves… crushing them into pieces and destroying their self-esteem. It is truly disgusting to watch how a country that portrays itself as progressive in the eyes of the world, is still largely bigoted and so easily duped by public displays of a Hunger Games-like manifestation.

Oh My Malta…how can we all still be so blind?

Why unemployment doesn’t completely suck

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Currently listening to: The Parrots – Soy Peor

So I started 2019 unemployed. Many people would absolutely baulk at this idea – associating it with a tonne of things: laziness, the problem with Gen Z, etc. Others would use this fact to smirk and prove themselves right when saying that a degree in the humanities doesn’t lead anywhere. In a society where the spirit of late capitalism reigns supreme, and where your salary seems to define what you are and who you are, an unemployed individual is expected to almost play the ‘sick role’ in society.

However, I viewed my unemployment as an opportunity to reflect on what I really want to do in life…an opportunity to spend some time indulging in my passions and actually doing things that have long been delayed, including:

  • Spending more time on my musical projects.
  • Kickstarting a possible path in writing and starting this blog. I’ve been writing in a creative manner all of my life…however after a series of unfortunate rejections, I never found the courage to write publicly until now.
  • Starting a de-cluttering campaign (see my second post).
  • Going through some major life-changing episodes with a clearer head.
  • Discovering and exploring the world of freelancing.
  • Finding the time to catch up with some long-delayed appointments.
  • Nurturing my mental well-being.
  • Spending some well-needed dates with myself.

I guess every cloud has a silver lining…and while unemployment leaves a dent in your pocket, I believe the key is to appreciate it as a window of opportunity for self-development, and not to perceive it as an in-between phase lost in a frenzy of panic, CVs, and interviews. Who knows, maybe unemployment can be the key to finding your next passion in life, leading to something truly worthwhile, after all.

To swipe or not to swipe? That is the question.

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Currently listening to: La Femme – Runway

The modern phenomenon of dating apps has stopped being a phenomenon at this point and is now so ingrained in normality that it’s like expecting that everyone has a social media profile or an email address. Yet, how are dating apps affecting our daily lives and psyche, and is the digital persona more important than your ‘offline’ persona nowadays?

I have always been divided about the concept of these apps. The immediate gratification offered by a simple swipe often leads to a lot of disappointment afterwards. Useless messages and exchanges, the occasional uninvited photos, the meetings that never come to fruition…it’s safe to say that it’s an endless cycle. We can compare it to a ‘window-shopping’ exercise for potential partners… like going on Amazon or eBay to purchase something thanks to a simple ‘Search’ button.

However, are these digital personas turning into a marker of social status? After watching the Black Mirror episode ‘Nosedive’, I couldn’t help but wonder whether dating apps are the new social credit system in the dating world; where people are ‘disposed’ of if they don’t get enough swipes or likes, and where the constant pressure to keep up a trendy digital persona leads to inner conflict. All that seeming plurality creates a tonne of expectations…and a hell lot of dating fatigue.

So what’s the moral of this story? It’s easy to judge and say ‘Delete all apps, and do it the old-fashioned way’, however, I believe that that comment is very misleading since one cannot reverse back to how things were. On the other hand, I would say that at a point, it would be useful to remind ourselves that our own self-worth is not based on any social credit system and to truly invest in our self-worth. A recent post by The Artidote states that ”Inner peace is the new success” and this is totally applicable to the inner turmoil that can be caused if the imposing digital persona and social credit pressures aren’t taken with a pinch of salt. In the end, no one can truly judge you in a few seconds by a few photos and a stupid caption…it takes so much more to discover the inner core of a person than this.

De-clutter your life!

6a00d8341c6a0853ef01b8d1556789970c-1Currently listening to: Station to Station (album) – David Bowie

In the midst of a major spring clean (or would it be a winter clean?), it dawned on me how much clutter we accumulate throughout the years. From ten-year-old receipts to nostalgic memoirs of the past, to photographs of long-lost pets and tattered love letters of individuals who have long been absent from our lives…clutter seems to constantly pile up and manage to hide itself in secret drawers, until one day, the mere knowledge of its presence is utterly suffocating.

This burst of de-cluttering was partly inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s self-help book ‘The Happiness Project’ – a book particularly apt for this time of year when the concept of resolutions is practically shoved down our throats. But while resolutions are fine (if you can keep them, that is), Rubin attempts to dedicate a year to discovering the true meaning of happiness and implementing monthly goals that, while not being overly monumental in an Eat, Pray, Love way, incrementally lead to a better attitude towards life in general. At least, that is the aim of the book.

The first thing that Rubin did was to carry out a major de-cluttering campaign in her house….and that really made me reflect on my own clutter. As soon as I started de-cluttering, in spite of the initial gasp at the humongous task ahead,  a sense of relief swept over me. It almost felt cathartic – as if the outside de-cluttering was having some effect on a holistic level. This, in turn, led to a major reflection on whether in reality, I was truly de-cluttering the negative thoughts and the toxic people in my life, or whether like the hundreds of things that I found carelessly piled in my drawers, I was still clinging on to them. Furthermore, I found myself questioning if, on the other hand, I was still lovingly feeding the black dog of self-victimization growling sulkily in a corner…

I am not sure whether or not I believe in the myth of New Year resolutions. However, one thing is for sure: as we’re fast approaching the new year, I will try my best to think twice before purchasing anything (challenging the odds of targeted digital marketing), and will also do my very best to think of alternative ways of gifting – with an effort to opt for the immaterial or the sustainable. On a more personal level, I really should remind myself to take that black dog out for a walk more often, and teach it a trick or two. Who knows, maybe by time, it will learn not to take life too seriously after all…

Are you happy this Christmas?

In an age of sheer capitalism, Instagram filters, and depressing global news stories, it seems as if the mystique surrounding Christmas has vanished, or so methinks.

I fondly remember the excitement I used to feel when I was a little girl during the Christmas period. Ecstatically, I used to wait for Santa Claus to deliver the gifts that I would eventually find lying in a neat pile beneath the Christmas tree, leaving milk and cookies the night before to help  in the cause of sustaining his journey (not checking on a search engine whether Santa’s lactose or gluten intolerant). Sometimes, I used to stay up all night ruminating in my bed about the  fantastical possibility of Santa travelling all over the globe in one night, and trying to logistically reason out how he could do such a thing; why poverty still exists even though Santa is supposed to deliver presents to every child in every country….and the like. In the end, I used to console myself that all this can be explained via one term: magic.

It is this same ‘magic’ that seems to slowly disappear once you start growing up and tiptoeing into the so-called ‘adult’ world. In the age of social media, with all the pluralistic possibilities presented to us by new technologies, the belief in the supernatural wanes in favour of instantly gratifying the ego by ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ and ‘face tuning’. The imagination is geared towards capitalistic ends, while dissatisfaction breeds more consumerism.

While it can be argued that the character of Santa Claus has long been used to serve capitalistic purposes, I am still a believer in using the image of Santa Claus to project a more altruistic cause. Why can’t we be a Santa Claus to each other by providing the gift of empathy to a friend who might be passing through a rough patch in life? Why can’t we be a Santa Claus by smiling to a stranger stuck in morning traffic, instead of flipping them off? Why can’t we be a Santa Claus to our own minds by giving ourselves more time to truly take care of our mental well-being and indulge in necessary self-care? Why can’t we be a Santa Claus to our own bodies by stopping the cycle of self-criticism and deleting our social media accounts every now and then?

This Christmas, I truly propose that we all regain the magic that we have lost due to the turbulence of life, and really use this period to be a bit kinder to our fellow human-beings, and most importantly, to ourselves. As simple or campy as this may sound, this everyday kind of magic might truly be the key to overcoming the expectations society imposes on us during the holiday period, and instead be our very own Santa in determining the journey of our own personal lives.