Baby Steps

There’s a pile of unfolded laundry in my apartment that has become a metaphor for my chronic problem avoidance. It started as a small pile, could have easily been folded and put away in the space of 10 minutes, but it kept getting pushed and pushed.

“I’ll do it later”

“OMG but it’s so little, it’s not a big deal!”

“It’ll take me all of 10 minutes to get this done, I’m too busy right now”

“GET OFF MY CASE, IT’S CLOTHES NOT GENOCIDE, I’LL FOLD THEM LATER!”

“Okay, okay, OKAY. I’ll DEFINITELY do it on Saturday”

It has been 6 Saturdays. The pile has grown to the height and width of my bed. For any other person, this would comprise the entirety of their wardrobe, and therefore force them to fold said clothes and put them away, but not me. My wardrobe is still bursting at its seams, in fact, I have enough clothes to wear till the end of the year without ever having to touch that pile. A fact that I have made damn sure of. 

Those clothes are a painfully accurate metaphor for my life and I just… The thing is this, shiny new problems keep arising, taking place of the old problems and because the old problems are terrifying – deep set traumas that definitely need attention – and I am afraid of what I’ll find, they stay untouched in a corner of my mind, judging me daily and hindering me in ways that I am aware and unaware of. Just like these clothes at the foot of my bed. This apartment is tiny, I can’t access my windows and dressers without doing a pole vault over the clothes or stepping on them, it would be far easier to simply sort through and clean up but, no. 

See, If I sort through those clothes, I will find that I have far too many duplicates of the same items, or I might find that there are items there I forgot I even had. I might even find the one article of clothing I have been searching for in my wardrobe and have had to replace. It would make me feel terrible for spending money when I absolutely did not need to – a guilt I thoroughly hate feeling – but, BUT it would also give me a holistic view of my wardrobe, making my life and dressing up in the morning generally easier. 

But I don’t want to feel guilty about whatever I find, so I make do with what I have, and what I can’t find, I conclude that I don’t have and promptly buy a new one, thus highlighting the fact that I tend to polish problems instead of solving them…deep breath. 

Just like my laundry, I have been putting off seeing a therapist or even seriously considering seeing one. There are too many negative connotations of therapy where I come from – you’re insane, weak, an attention seeker, too rich to spend money on basic things so you pay someone else to listen to your entitled problems – the list is endless. I have been grappling with the idea for over a year, talking myself in and out of it in the same breath.

“But there are so many things you need to work through, you know this”

“Yes, but my problems aren’t special, other people have bigger problems”

“You’re diminishing your issues because you don’t want to get help, that’s toxic”

“Yes, but thinking that I’m special enough to warrant therapy is also toxic”

“This is bullshit, go to fucking therapy, your partner, your friends, your family, EVERYONE WILL THANK YOU FOR IT!”

“Sigh, I’m an asshole and the therapist is going to see through this blatant attention grab and call me out on it. I would have spent money to have someone tell me I’m a complete shitbag, I don’t think I can bear it.”

“My God, please, I’m begging you be kind to yourself, talk to someone.”

“…It would break my parent’s hearts…”

On and on and fucking on. I have endless arguments with myself and they’re all circular. I never end anywhere but right where I started. Even when I decide to go for it, I put it off to an undefined, yet specific later date, just to shut myself up. I never do it, just like I haven’t folded my laundry even though all it will do is help…

Now that I’ve written it out and put it out there to be judged, it sounds ridiculous to even me. Alright, I’ll do it. I’ll fold my laundry.

And…and I’ll speak to someone. It’s 2019, what people will say should not be my problem anymore…right?

Starting Over. Again.

Every new beginning starts with a loss of some kind doesn’t it? A rejection from a place you really wanted to work at, a breakup with someone you really thought was “the one”, the loss of a loved one whom you never thought could die, the disappointment of realizing that your boss was never going to reward all your hardwork…the list goes on. For me, it’s all of the above and then some. They didn’t all happen at the same time, but happen they did and the each heartbreak was as painful as the first.
Right now I’m sitting in my living room, after getting a rejection from a job I thought I was a-shooing for, after coming home from working a job where I am completely under-appreciated and overlooked, and the existential crisis is in full throttle. 

Why does any of this matter?” 

Is this even worth it?” 

Am I even as skilled as I think I am?” 

What’s the point of this drudgery?” 

Am I destined to be a failure forever?” 

Should I just jump off a bridge and be done with it?” 

The more I think about all of it, the more dramatic and dangerous the thoughts get. But…I’ve been here before and I have learned to reel myself in and talk myself off the ledge. I learned quite early that no one is as skilled or as persuasive at talking me through some shit times as I am. I know myself better than anyone else, so it goes without saying. That’s not to say that my friends and family are lousy at it, on the contrary, I have the greatest support system anyone could ever ask for, however, these spirals come often and they sometimes show up without warning so I need to know how to administer mental first aid for me as well. I do it quite well.

What is today’s spiral about you ask? Well, today, I started to mourn the loss of the person I used to be. The girl who had such lofty dreams, such high aspirations, such grandiose plans to take the world by storm. When I was younger, I spent all my days working nonstop at this dream I wanted: Starting a fashion house for petite women. I would sketch for hours on end, visualize, manifest, dream and sketch nonstop until it was second nature. Everything was inspiration, every piece was unique and meant something to me, I poured my heart and soul into this dream and I never conjured a reality where that dream did not come true. It was impossible because I was going to work my fingers to the bone, seize every opportunity and do the work sunup till sundown if necessary. I was fucking unstoppable!

Fast forward 12 years and that girl is nowhere to be found. Sometimes on days like this, she resurrects in a blaze of accusations. Fingers pointing, angry, furious at who I let us become. 

You let me die!” 

You keep making excuses!” 

You kept waiting for the right time!” 

There is NO RIGHT TIME!” 

WHY DID YOU LISTEN TO THEM?” 

WHY DID YOU BELIEVE THE LIES?” 

How could you!” 

WE WERE GOING TO BE SOMEBODY!” 

And I try, you know…I try as best I can to explain to her that none of it was planned. Life came at me so quickly and so vehemently, I couldn’t hold on to her anymore. I had to “grow up”, “do my part”, “help out”, etc. I had to be an adult and make adult decisions. I try to explain how hard I held on to her in the first few years when I finally got the chance to leave my home country and move to a new country. I tell her how I immediately put together my portfolio and applied to Fashion school, ready and willing to do what I had waited my whole life to do. That application was rejected, the first of many, many more to come. I was crushed but I still had her fire burning in me so it didn’t stop me! I applied to a different program (Marketing) at a different school and I got in. I was determined to make inroads into Fashion with this course. Marketing is important, can’t sell a product if you can’t market it right? So, I stayed in that course – even though I was miserable. Everyone asked why I wasn’t doing a fashion course including my professor.

You’re clearly cut out for it!” 

You have the style!

You’d fit in perfectly!

You should still go for it!” 

And I smiled at the questions. “This is important too”, I said to myself, “This will matter, don’t you worry.” I held on tightly to that teenage girl and her dreams as the years began to pass. However, with each passing year, I lost the will to dream any longer, with each passing season, I lost the ability to hold on to her as fiercely as I once did. 

You see, I had moved to a country where I was seen as less, for something I had no say or control over. The micro and macro aggressions came daily, wave after wave of cruel putdowns and letdowns. I walked through all of it – the inability to land a job I was qualified for because whatever experience I had was foreign and therefore irrelevant, having to work a menial job to make ends meet (even though I had left a well paying job back home), the sidelong glances from College Faculty when I asked why I got a lower score on an essay I had thoroughly researched, being told I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about and had clearly read ahead in the course when I correctly answered a question that hadn’t already been taught in class (I hadn’t, I simply already knew this information from high school back home). The thing no one could grasp was that the education system here is backward compared to back home, so when I got here I already had an edge over my “peers”. Back home, learning was not phased by age, then strictly packaged and dished out carefully once you came of age. Back home knowledge was available to all who sought it – if you could comprehend the curriculum of a class, and pass the tests, you were put in that class, no questions asked. The objective of education back home was to make you learn, so you were constantly tested and pushed beyond your comfort zone. Education here was comfortable and designed to be easily digested, and what that translated to was that what they were teaching in business school at a college level, I had learned in business studies at a high school level. I knew more things because no one had ever told me I couldn’t learn back home. No one had ever stopped me from reaching further than my curriculum.

But, no one believed me. I was the girl from a foreign country, I had a place and it was beneath the rest of them. I was not allowed to be as good, the fact that I was foreign dictated that, so who the hell was I to dare to presume that I could compete? At some point I stopped arguing, and just went with it. I had no idea I was internalizing all of it, and by doing so, was slowly letting go of the girl who could do anything. No one believed I was capable of the things I said I was and at some point, I too stopped believing me.

I woke up one day and I was the girl who had no future. The girl with no direction. The girl who couldn’t write an essay properly because

These couldn’t possibly be your words, you need to go back and cite them“. – College Professor after reading an assignment I handed in.

The girl would couldn’t maintain an A average because no one believed she could and she figured they were probably right.

The fact that you even made it on the honour roll is amazing, you shouldn’t try to get back on it, you should be happy with where you are.” – College Professor after I sought guidance on how to improve my grades.

The girl who was so deeply depressed that she couldn’t find joy or inspiration or happiness in any of the things she used to love. I woke up one day and I was the girl who was miserable with no idea why. I had lost myself, with no clue when or how it even happened.

Naturally, I tried to fill the void. With other people, with things purchased, with seeking validation in things that made no sense at the time: I insisted on moving out of my parents’ home, even though I couldn’t afford to (did not go well the first or second time), I insisted on starting a relationship with a person I knew deep down there was no future with, but I insisted (that definitely did not go well), I tried to take back my future by transferring to a course in Fashion (my third course in the span of 8 years at college) but by the time I did that, the girl who lived for it was gone already. Fashion school gave me no joy, and no hope. I had been beaten down so thoroughly by this time that I could barely get out of bed on the best days, couple that with toxic habits and an even more toxic relationship…I barely made it out alive. Then I decided after 9 years of struggling, that it wasn’t me, but the environment I was in. I couldn’t cut it in the foreign land, so I would move back home where I could be surrounded by things that were familiar and loved. I would go home to where it all began and rekindle my lust for life. Convinced that this was the right decision – even though everything pointed to the contrary – I packed my bags, desperate to find myself again, bought a one-way ticket and moved back to my home country. The boy I thought I loved was there, my friends were there, I had some family there, and I had determination, I was definitely going to make it. Also, I had a job offer so I knew what I was doing. Right?

Wrong. The next two years were the most difficult years of my life. The relationship I held on to, ended within two months of my move back, the job I thought I had was a sham and ended within 2 months, I endured and suffered so many indignities in my bid to prove that this move was worthwhile, culminating in me ending up homeless (twice). Everything I thought I knew was questioned. The girl I thought I was got eviscerated in ways I never thought were possible. She died a messy, merciless death and I looked on helplessly. One year into my move and the void I felt and had hoped to fill was greater now than it ever had been. The dreams I had managed to hold on to had been completely shattered.

After two years, and losing the one family member I relied on for support and encouragement to cancer, I moved back to the foreign land in shreds and quietly grew up. There was no more talk of that girl, no more wishful thinking, no more insane beliefs in who I was and what I was going to do. Who I was was an adult, what I was going to do was get a job, pay bills, do my part and if I was lucky, buy a few things I liked on the way. And I did just that, none of it was conscious, it simply happened because it had to, and quite frankly, I was tired of fighting for a dead girl.

I am currently trying to explain all of this to the 19 year-old presently screaming at me internally. I am doing my best to explain to the ghost of the girl I once was that I replaced her wild dreams with the promise of a paycheck, that I traded her untamed optimism for a defeated realism. I am trying, desperately, to make the girl who thought, nay, believed without a doubt that she could do anything, understand that I now have a specialized skill set. I am now one thing and one thing alone and that thing is definitely not what she dreamed. I go to work, I do the one thing I’m supposed to know how to do and I pick up a paycheck at the end of the month. On days like this, when she comes at me with the full force of her guilt and anger, I explain to the dead girl whose spirit refuses to be buried, that I have no choice – that I had no choice. I had to pay bills, rent isn’t free, this car won’t pay for itself and retirement won’t save for itself. I tell her that dreams don’t come true for everyone, that only a select few have that luxury. I scream back at her that parents, friends, lovers, almost everyone I know has given up on a dream they once had, not for lack of trying to achieve them but from the pure fucking exhaustion of trying to scale the insurmountable obstacles constantly put in their way – especially when they find themselves in a foreign land. I try my damndest to drown her yelling and accusations with platitudes and justifications, to put the ghost of this girl to rest once and for all with all the things I tell myself to sleep well at night. I try, and usually on other days, I succeed…

But she’s not having any of it. Not today.

On Shopping While Petite

Full disclosure: This is a rant. You have been warned.

I used to love shopping. Walking in and out of stores all day, trying on clothes, falling in love with adorable things, I could do that all day. This was adorable back when my style was super teeny bopper and Forever 21 was my mecca. Then I grew up. My style evolved and now, I hate shopping. The stores have remained the same, nothing has changed, except I’ve realized much to my chagrin, that retailers haven’t yet figured out that grown ups also come in small sizes. I’ll expand on this.

You see, I’m a grown ass woman. I want to buy nice, staple pieces for my grown ass woman wardrobe. I want to walk into a store with my size in mind, pull out the clothes that correspond to my size, try them on and have NO problems. Alas, at 5ft 3 and 97lbs, this will not happen because I am not just petite, I am a TINY petite.

Note: Before you tell me to eat a sandwich, or try to tell me that I don’t have issues because they at least have my size in stores, allow me to remind you to kindly shut the fuck up. This is MY space to talk about the world as it affects ME. If you have your own issues, you can add them in the comments and we can fight the power together, or you can go away. I’m fine with either, but what you not gon’ do is try to diminish my problems to highlight yours, because I’m not here for it. I just need pants that fit. Honestly. Truly.

So what are these issues I’m maudlin and a-wailing about you ask? Pull up a chair nwanne m, nodu ani, and I’ll tell you all my woes, starting with:

Pants – Need to be hemmed and taken in at the waist. Every time. If it’s jeans I just have to make do with whatever length they are, and give up circulation in my legs if I want the waist to be snug. Below is an actual image of me trying on size zero pants. E V E R Y  T I M E.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-09 at 16.20.03

Dresses – Always look like bags and are usually several inches longer than they look on the model. Don’t EVEN get me started on maxi dresses.

Blouses & Tees – Too big. Too baggy. Too much. Like, why is my “perfect tee” a dress, people? It did NOT look like this on Victoria Beckham. Ihe a aburo ihe anyi kpaa.

Bras – Nobody makes bras for me. I’m a 30C and La Senza used to have my back until they just up and changed their minds one day. And to all the nice, well-meaning ladies at Victoria’s Secret/La Senza/Winners that I’ve complained to, please know that 32B does not fit right. I know because I have several at home to prove it. Telling me that it does, doesn’t make it true.

Swimsuits & Two-Pieces – UGH! Just, ugh. Le struggle! If it fits on top, the bottom is a bag, if it fits on the bottom, the top is too tight. If it’s a one piece, the waist/stomach area just has random space. When I manage to find that unicorn one that fits snug all around, guess what else is really snug? Yup, wedgie. Fun stuff.

ASOS_caramel

I own this. It does NOT look like this when I wear it.

Shoes & Belts – This is the only place I’m lucky more often than not. Then again, being tiny means tiny ankles/tiny waist which means the last buckle hole is usually two notches above the point where it’s comfortable for me. How sway.

Side note: My “aha!” moment on this issue came very recently (hence this rant, obvs). I used to walk around thinking this issue was me specifically, with my tiny proportions and tiny self, until a very kind salesgirl at Nordstrom, when I asked for the petite section responded by telling me they don’t have one, then giving me a litany of issues she also had while picking out clothes. She’s a chubby petite and she has the same issues I do. I then remembered that one of my friends and coworkers, Josie, is a regular sized petite and she too, has the same issues. My dear friend, Chrissie is a curvy petite – full on hourglass body packed into a 5 ft 2 frame – and she too, has the same problems! So finally, it clicked – NOBODY MAKES ANYTHING FOR PETITE PEOPLE, PERIOD. It’s not just me, and it’s not just because I’m tiny, it’s simply because adults stop existing after 5ft 5 in the fashion world.

The thing is, everyone seems to have accepted this general pretence that all adults are above 5ft 5 as the norm BUT I REFUSE to. I’m just over here with so many questions. Like “Yeah, that’s cool, but WHY though?” cos I really don’t understand how this is a thing. Especially here in Canada where the average woman is 5ft 3. You would think this would be petite Valhalla, but no! Retailers are still making and selling clothes for these fictional tall people, that none of us seems to be or even know.

So, what then? Should we petite people just walk around swaddled in scarves, cos those usually fit perfectly. I really don’t understand it. Petite people are people too. Grown up people. Grown up people who want nice pants and mixed separates and co-ords, and cute dresses that they don’t have to break the bank for (see my lament on the Tibi Dress). We just want nice things and adult wardrobes, that’s all. Is that really too much to ask? Why can’t we have nice things?

sigh I’m sad now. Sad and just tired.

If you’re petite and you’re reading this, have you found a life hack? Help me sis. Help me. If you haven’t found a hack, and just want to rant, giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl, I am here for ALL of it.

 

Quote

“A woman who cu…

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” – Coco Chanel

Or in my case, my life. I’ve chopped it all off. It’s about to go down. (Read that in Kevin Hart’s voice and have yourself a chuckle.)

 

Stay fab!