So far, yet so good

So far, 2020 has been one big slap in the face. We all had big plans for this year, and I don’t think the “c-word” (behave, I mean the other c-word) was in any of them. But I have chosen not to let it break me.

If anyone here has read my last blog post on ‘Mindset’ you will know that I tend to look for the positives in everything and I like to make the best out of a bad situation. In this situation however, I didn’t have to look very far to see the good side. All I had to do was look outside and see that my neighbour who hasn’t gotten off the sofa in 10 years, is now outside doing their daily walk, or go onto Facebook and see my old school friend putting on a live concert in their living room just for the hell of it.

I want to make it clear that I understand how utterly horrible this virus is and I do hope it leaves us as quickly as it arrived. Nonetheless, the virus has put us all in the same situation. It’s here whether we like it or not, so we may as well make the most of it eh?

When our mate Boris announced the lockdown, it was bittersweet. On one hand, we all knew it needed to be done and that it was the only thing that was going to get us closer to defeating the enemy. On the other hand, there was a state of grief that masked the entire country. We had to say ‘see you later’ to a lot of the things that we take for granted every day – our friends, family members, hugs, our freedom.

I know I am extremely lucky in all of this; I live with my wonderful family, I have the countryside on my doorstep, and I am both emotionally and physically healthy. I am fully aware that there are others who don’t have the privileges I have and this lockdown may be mentally exhausting for them. To those people, I salute you. However, if you are in a similarly lucky position to me then I want you to stop moping around and start to see why lockdown is actually a blessing in disguise.

In the short time we have been gifted with lockdown, I have realised a few things about the human race:

1. We do a lot of things just to please other people

I don’t know about you, but I have not worn make up, washed my hair, dressed nicely, put on fake tan, or shaved my legs half as much as I would if we weren’t in lockdown. Boys, call me disgusting, but if a girl is telling you that she has, she’s probably lying.

The only time I have put on make-up or clothes that aren’t sweats, is when I am recording a video for my music pages. But why? Because that’s the only time other people see me.

We all like to pretend that we wear make-up and do all these things for ourselves to feel good – and don’t get me wrong, it does feel good to strut around your bedroom feeling like Rihanna – but can anyone here honestly tell me that they have put in half the effort in the last 4 weeks as they would have in normal times? Of course not!  I mean, what’s the point in making an effort just so you can stare at yourself in the mirror?

Maybe it is about time we started doing these things for ourselves. If you want to buy nice underwear, curl your hair and wear red lipstick just to make your morning coffee, then do it. Likewise, if you feel your best in a pair of sweats and a messy bun, that’s okay too! We’ve got to start saying “I am going to do this because it makes me feel good” because right now, you are all you have.

2. We all needed a break

I don’t know what to believe when it comes to the origin of this virus. I do like to entertain the idea of conspiracies and theories, just because they are a lot more exciting than some dude in China scranning a bat and starting a global crisis. Nobody has a definite answer as to where this started or where it will all end but what I do believe is that this needed to happen.

I said it from the start, but maybe this is Mother Nature’s way of telling us to chill the f*#k out. It’s like she has given us this beautiful planet with all its resources, where we can roam freely and do as we please – as long as we don’t take it too far. The same way our parents allowed us to go and play with our friends, as long as we are back before the streetlights go on. But what happens when stay out till after dark? We get grounded. Our parents trusted us to be home by curfew but when we broke that trust, the privilege got taken away from us.

We have been abusing our planet for years, thinking we could continue to do so and we would keep getting more and more chances. But we were on our final straw and we didn’t even know it. We pushed our luck and used our last chance.

I read an article about the fish returning to the rivers in Venice since the residents and tourists have disappeared. This, among other amazing observations, shows how much we as humans have damaged the earth’s natural beauty and maybe the only way to restore the planet is to keep the humans away for a while. An American living in Wuhan said, “I used to think there weren’t really any birds in Wuhan, because you rarely saw them and never heard them. I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing.”

As well as the world needing a break from the humans, I think the humans needed a break from the world.

We wake up, go to work, come home and go to sleep, then we wake up and do it all again the next day. I work in the events industry and someone said to me at the beginning of all this, “what are you going to do if you can’t work?”. I replied “I am going to walk, run, cycle, play guitar, draw, write, sing, read, listen to music… maybe just live my life?”

They were shocked. Imagine your life not revolving around work?

As a society, we live to work, we don’t work to live. All I ever hear are people saying:

I need a break…’

‘How is it Monday again already?’

‘I wish I could have some time off to do nothing…’

We have been given the break we’ve been asking for, yet there are people who can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’. We go through the rat race of life, constantly competing with others. Whether it is for a promotion or scrolling through Instagram to see who has the most expensive handbag, we are always pushing other people down in order to raise ourselves up. And we call this normal?

I read a tweet that said “Coronavirus has proved that everything around us is a fake social construct. We are learning to live without things our lives revolved around, like work, school, gym, malls and society. It’s taught us that in the end its your own home and family that keep you safe.”

Now that all the things we thought were important have been taken away from us, it’s like we are being forced to face ourselves. To ask ourselves, when all is said and done, what is really important, what is really ‘normal’. The system has been shut down and we don’t have to keep running anymore; we don’t have to keep pretending anymore.

So before you try and rush back to ‘normal life’, ask yourself which parts of ‘normal’ are really worth rushing back to. 

3. When this is over, we gotta seize the day

Carpe Diem. We’ve all heard it, I’m sure some of you even have it hanging on the back of your door. But have you ever thought about what it means?

How many of you have made plans in your life that you just ‘never got round to’? Maybe you were planning to find your dream job, maybe you were planning on going to the gym to get your dream body, or maybe you were planning to travel the world – but you just ‘never got round to it’.

I had plans, we all did. There are things we say we are going to do, but we always put them off.

“The gym will still be open on Monday, I’ll start then.”

“The flights are too expensive this year, I’ll travel next year”

“I’ll go see granny next weekend instead, she will understand.”

The truth is, you have been telling yourself you will start the gym every Monday for the last 10 years and your poor granny boils the kettle for you every Sunday but you are always too busy.

Too often, we take these little privileges for granted and expect them to be available to us forever. But guess what? The gym isn’t open on Monday, you can’t fly anywhere anytime soon and you most definitely cannot go and see your granny next weekend.

We need to start seizing the day. We have been putting our goals off for too long, and now the possibility of achieving them has been taken away from us. None of us expected this to happen but we assume that these things will always just be there when we want them, and now they’re not.

We will reach the other side of this and it is not the end of the world. But one day it will be, so if there is anything you can take away from this lockdown, it’s that life is short. Book that flight, apply for that job, buy that car you’ve always wanted. Start working on your dreams, before it’s too late.

4. Humanity is at its best when we are united

Finally: the most positive thing to arise from our current situation. Never before has the whole world had to come together to fight one common enemy (except in the last season of Game of Thrones).

For the first time in the history of mankind, celebrities, CEOS, politicians, cleaners, receptionists and interns are all in the same boat. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter how successful you are or how much money you have – nobody is immune and the only thing that is going to get us through is the common realisation that we are all the same.

Personally, I think I speak to my friends and family more now than I did before lockdown. We are so far apart but, in some ways, we are closer than ever. We are finding new ways to communicate and using our imagination to keep ourselves entertained.

I never thought I’d see the day when all my friends would spend their Saturday night doing a virtual pub quiz and I certainly never thought we’d be in our 20’s still nominating each other to neck pints and do handstands, but hey, we adapt.

The thing is, normally we are all too busy to see each other or hang out. We always have something more important to do or someone else to please, but when everything is stripped back, that’s when we can see the people who will keep us sane during the hard times. The people who are always there in the background. You may not always have time to show them your appreciation, but when life gets too much and you feel like falling down, those are the people who you will catch you. Every. Single. Time.

One of my best friends recently said to me, “I am so grateful I’ve had this time to bond with my little sister. I never had a childhood with her because I moved away when she was younger but we are so much closer now”. 

And that’s what this is about. As I said at the start, I know this isn’t an ideal situation and there are definitely some people who aren’t as blessed as you and I, but we are the lucky ones and it’s time we started recognising it.

This post is based on my own individual situation. If you are someone who is finding it tough to see if the positive side of this, please read my blogpost on ‘Mindset’ and to see how you can break the situation down into more manageable pieces: https://niamhdoherty.com/2019/11/02/you-are-the-puppet-your-mindset-is-your-master/

If you just need a listening ear, send me a message on Instagram (@niamhydoc) and we can have a cup of tea via Skype and a virtual hug.

 

Niamh Doherty graduated from Ulster University last year with a BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations. She now works at ICC Belfast, attracting large conferences to the city. Niamh can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-doherty-b49ba2179/. She blogs at: https://niamhdoherty.com/

“But which one is right?” MY opinion on this generation

I’m here today to talk about snowflakes. No, I don’t mean the little white fluffy things we see at Christmas (more like March if you live in Ireland), but the delicate, precious, if-you-touch-them-they-melt, human beings that we have walking among us every day.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I could not care less about what religion or sexual preference you have; I don’t even care if you like to wear Tuesday socks on a Friday. But that’s exactly my point – I. Don’t. Care.

 

We live in a generation where people care too much. I will never understand why anyone would want to walk through this earth, getting offended by every minor thing they see or hear, when they would be much happier if they just didn’t give a shit. Likewise, I don’t get why people try to offend others for having different thoughts to them. As a wise man, Ricky Gervais, once said, “Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.” When people get offended by homosexuals, does that mean they’re right? No. When people get offended by someone else’s religion, does that mean they’re right? No. It’s all just opinion.

 

Once upon a time, there was a big bang (or so the theory goes) and this earth was created. There was nothing but plants and animals. Then society came along, decided what was right and wrong and this created opinions, and opinions, as we can see today, create offence. Now, if you are a woman and one day you wake up and you decide that you would like to be a man, go right ahead. But be warned, someone out there is not going to agree with it. In the same way, people who decide to eat a vegan diet would not agree with someone who eats meat. But which one is right? Neither, because it’s all based on opinion and personal preferences.

 

Let’s talk about Friends, the greatest TV show on earth (in my opinion). The show that was once so ahead of its time, due to the same-sex wedding and the transgender character of Chandler’s father, that it was actually banned in parts of the US when it first arrived on our screens in 1994.  But now, since its release on UK Netflix, some millennials believe that the show is offensive to this snowflake generation. One of the main reasons for this was that they found the fat-shaming of Monica to be extremely problematic. But when you think about it, should they really be praising someone for living an unhealthy lifestyle? (Don’t get me started because I could write a whole new blog post about people who praise obesity). Another issue that has been getting a lot of press recently, is the use of the word ‘faggot’ in the classic and amazingly-brilliant Christmas song ‘Fairytale of New York’. Now, this song has been around for years and yes, I know, times have changed, blah blah blah, but if you warriors stepped back from the keyboard for long enough you would realise that this song is about a heterosexual couple, therefore the use of the word faggot here could not mean a gay man, as this would not make any sense. If you then took the time to do a little research, you would see that early usage of the word ‘faggot’ actually meant ‘a repellent man’ which, when you think about the fact that this couple had a love-hate relationship, would make a lot more sense.

 

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In my 21 years of living, I have learned a couple of things and one thing I know is that if you have a different opinion to someone else, you should not get offended when they don’t agree. You also can’t get offended when someone carries out their own personal practises or beliefs just because you have decided that you believe in something different. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and just because yours goes against what society deems as ‘normal’ does not mean that your opinion has any more significance than anyone else’s.

 

I saw these Hindu words on an Instagram post today, and I thought it would fit perfectly here. “There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”

 

Now I am aware that this post has probably offended some people, but really, those people should have stopped reading at the word ‘snowflakes’. And that’s the point, if someone doesn’t agree with what you believe in, or if they are talking about something that is going to offend you, don’t take to twitter and tell them they’re wrong or ‘outdated’, just ignore them! Learn not to give a shit. Try accepting that everyone is unique and different and that maybe, just maybe, there is no right and wrong way to live your life.

 

But that’s just my opinion.

 

Niamh Doherty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/niamh.doc.9 ; Twitter @niamhydoc

 

“Happiness”

“Will we just book flights?”

The 5 words that prompted, what was about to be, the best year of my life.

We kissed our parents’ goodbye at the gate and looked back at them with tears in our eyes, excitement in our hearts. “So this is what they mean by ‘bittersweet’” I thought. The time comes in all of our lives, for us to let go of our parents’ apron strings and for them – to let go of us.

It was the first time I had moved away from home since my first year at University (but we all know that doesn’t count when you are only living in Belfast and you can go home to get your clothes washed every weekend).

Touching down in Perth, there were many emotions and feelings running through me. The majority of this was probably just jet-lag but there was also a little guilt, mixed with happiness and a dash of nerves. However, as soon as I arrived in the city and got my first glimpse of the western coastline, everything else faded into the background and I knew, this was where I was meant to be.

At the beginning, we had no real idea of where we were going, taking each day as it arrived. To most people, we had practically nothing, but we had each other – and that was a lot in my eyes. It was here that I realised what is really important. Like, REALLY. I stopped dwelling on the trivial and instead, starting looking at the bigger picture. Sometimes we just take the time to look up from our phones and appreciate the beauty around us, in the here and the now. (Because when you’re living in a shipping container with just a bed and a toilet, you don’t really have another option.)

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When we arrived in our new home, Byron Bay, it was masked with uncertainty. No one tells you about the struggles of being away from home. It is not all like what you see on Instagram. It can be lonely, it can be tiring, and some days you may wonder if you’re doing it all wrong. But remember, I did say it was the best year of my life. And I wasn’t lying…

As the author, Emily Jenkins, once wrote, “…we’ll deal with it, because the good outweighs the bad”. And that’s exactly what we did – dealt with it. Because when that’s the only choice you have, you make it work; and the result is something more perfect than you can imagine.

One of my favourite sayings became more prominent to me during the first few months of 2018 than ever. “You can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain”. All of a sudden, the tables turned for us. I found myself in a job I had never thought of doing, but one that turned out to be a perfect fit. We managed to find a house better than we ever thought we could afford. And when I looked around me, I was surrounded by the most amazing company I could have wished for. (Not to mention we were in the best place on earth.)

ND3

It was at this point, I realised how completely, truly and utterly happy I was. I know, everybody has a different definition of happiness, but to me this pretty much sums it up (and I think most people will agree):

“Happiness is a feeling of contentment, that life is just as it should be.”

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Niamh Doherty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/niamh.doc.9 ; Twitter @niamhydoc