United In Struggle

A common questions kids are asked is what they want to be when they grow up. As teens, that question becomes, “What do you want to do after high school?” (usually, the expected answer is college and little more than that). As an adult, the question is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or any number of years, but I’ve mostly heard five.

For me, the answer is: I don’t know.

While I’m not one to think life just happens with zero control over its events, I don’t think in the other extreme of having absolute control over everything. My life certainly has not gone as planned, and I do not mean solely my adulthood. My life has been going unplanned since my childhood days. While I’m not entirely ungrateful, it’s only because the end result is I lived through it to reach what I’m happy to have now. And even that can be counted on one hand.

Something I have noticed with my co-workers is almost everyone either attends college or has a second job. The former is obvious, but in the case of the latter, it’s simply because it’s that hard to manage for them. And of the jobs I know, their first ones aren’t what’s usually considered low-paying. On one occasion, I also had a customer mention he works three jobs. Why? To pay his mortgage. Even my former clinician, who is well-established in her career of 10+ years as a psychologist by now, has told me she and her husband resides in his family’s home because they struggle financially otherwise.

That is truly terrifying to me, even more so than having nothing planned to begin with. I understand what they do is out of necessity, but merely one job for me creates feelings my life is slowly descending into a meaningless existence of work and sleep. To need to hold two or three to survive? I question if passing life in a coma would be preferable. I suppose those examples emphasize everyone has it hard in some way, but that’s little comfort to me. I do not want to have the same struggles at 33 I’m having at 23.

If someone were to ask where I see myself in five years, I truly couldn’t answer. Any position I’ve gotten myself in, especially my job, has been unexpected. If someone asked me in 2015 where I saw myself in 2016, the answer would not have been anything close to working. The truth is I cannot see myself in any position I’m not currently in or haven’t been in previously. Until it happens, I subconsciously believe it can’t happen.

Perhaps this is another discovery of adulthood taking me by surprise and I’m slow at keeping up. At 23, I feel as if I haven’t aged a day past childhood, despite my life as it stands resembles nothing of my childhood (and I’d have killed myself by now if it did). In the end, many things feel very confusing and I’m uncertain if they’re supposed to feel any other way. The one thing I’m certain of is no matter how much I learn, how much better I supposedly become, I still feel like I know absolutely nothing. That makes no sense, and as far as I can tell, neither does much else.

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Let’s Talk About: Twilight Sparkle

Wait, what?

Yes, I mean the main protagonist of My Little Pony. I had zero intention of ever watching this show, but my boyfriend is a fan of it and urged me to watch it. Eventually, I gave in and watched the first episode. I was instantly in love with Twilight. But I don’t like what happens to her.

Let me make my annoyance obvious. In the episode summary on Wikipedia, she’s referred to as an anti-social pony. Anti-social.

I hate this. I despise introversion and being reserved are seen as negative traits. Why? The second episode revealed why these events were necessary. That doesn’t help because it still portrayed Twilight preferring her alone time as a bad thing and her preference only changed because of an emergency matter (I’m not going to rant on why Celestia thought it was a good idea to form an entirely luck-based plan instead of be directly upfront with Twilight, or I won’t shut up). I know it’s a common thing in cartoons for lifelong bonds to form instantaneously, and I’d absolutely expect that in a cartoon with friendship as its theme. Except maybe that’d be a reason to have the friendships form more realistically instead of in such a cliché way. I love my best friend like she’s my sister, but I sure didn’t feel that way a day after meeting her. But cliché formulas are also common in cartoons, especially ones intended to have lessons taught through the episodes.

I probably seem strange to have a rant about this. After all, I have a best friend and a boyfriend, so why would I be bothered by a loner character learning about the “magic of friendship”? Easy. I just said it. It only happened because of an emergency matter. No relationship works like that! Friendship and love (of all types, not only romantic) are amazing things, but they don’t happen instantly (before you argue with parenthood: oxytocin). Strong bonds don’t form overnight in any situation. I am more outgoing than I used to be, but that took years. I wasn’t suddenly no longer an introvert or reserved because I met my best friend one day ago. Guess what? I’m still introverted and reserved, and I still despise most people, something working in retail has actually made stronger due to being in constant contact with people. Whatever percentage the number three is of the human population is the percentage of people I like having around.

These two episodes would’ve worked better as a season finale, not a season beginner. I could almost understand these traits being portrayed negatively if Twilight was evil, but she’s not. In fact, despite being obviously unhappy about being sent to the festival/party, she was polite to the others while trying to get away from them as quickly as possible, and if memory serves, she did help when one of them almost hurt herself by accident. She’s not mean, and wanting only her books as company doesn’t make her mean, bad, or evil.

I’ve yet to watch another episode because this kind of treatment with introverted characters puts me off watching anything more of whatever media it is. However, I went through her character list on TV Tropes and it seems, for the most part, she still keeps her introverted personality and she does slowly change over time instead of instantly. That sounds much better, though it doesn’t change my opinion about the first two episodes. The downside is, if TV Tropes is accurate, she rivals Pinkie Pie in exuberance by the latest season. I hate to admit it, but I find Pinkie Pie annoying, as I greatly dislike overly energetic characters who behave like they’re drunk on happiness. Of course, I doubt I’ll get as far as seven seasons anyway. It took me over three years to get to the fourth season of Sailor Moon, and I’ve only watched three episodes of that.

If I do continue watching MLP, I’m hoping to find Twilight’s friends aren’t the pushy type who will continuously try to “pull her out of her shell” and nag her half to death about “opening up”, and will instead respect her wishes if she wants to be alone to study, read, or whatever else. I don’t think it’s wrong (however cliché it may be) for loner characters to go on to learn about friendship and love, or even for their personality to eventually flip a 180. I do think it’s wrong if the path that gets them there portrays that part of their personality as an issue and to be dealt with by forcing them into such situations (as with Twilight) instead of letting them develop willingly. And for heaven’s sake, I hope Celestia is more direct and upfront instead of continually being cryptic and secretive, but since when have mentor characters ever done that? But that’s a whole different rant for another day.

The Struggle of Getting Dressed?

My favorite thing about no longer being in school is not having to wear uniform. However, there’s something I just do not understand.

I’ve read some students prefer school uniforms because it takes the struggle or fuss out of getting dressed in the morning. My question is: How?

In what way is it difficult to get dressed? I was capable of dressing myself from the time I was three years old. How is it possible to be old enough to be in school, especially high school, but incapable of getting dressed unless someone tells you exactly what to wear?

From kindergarten to 12th grade, I attended four schools in total. Two required uniform and two didn’t. I had zero trouble getting dressed for the schools without uniform. There was nothing difficult about it. There was no struggle at all. I put my clothes on and I left. Easy.

Plus, if it’s really hard to dress yourself without uniform, how do you dress on days you don’t attend school? Do you wear the school’s uniforms on those days too? If it’s really that hard, I can’t imagine how you’d manage on the weekends unless you have something that requires wearing uniform on those days too. What about summer break? That has to be a strain. Perhaps they don’t enjoy summer break since uniform isn’t required?

I probably sound like I’m being sarcastic with this post, but I’m genuinely confused and curious. I have been out of high school for four years now. I’ve had absolutely zero trouble dressing myself without being told what exact clothing to wear. To my knowledge, most colleges don’t require uniform, so how do these students who struggled to dress themselves without uniform requirements handle the matter if they move on to college?

Truthfully, my biggest confusion is why anyone would want to look identical to everyone else. I couldn’t care less about fashion, but I’m not anyone’s identical twin. I don’t want everyone to look exactly like me nor do I want to look exactly like everyone else. I also found most of the “benefits” of school uniforms are absolute lies, particularly that they prevent bullying (whoever said that never dealt with bullying) and create a sense of belonging (Why would I want to “belong” to this place I didn’t choose to attend?) and unity (again, bullying disproves that).

I do know there is a fetish for school uniforms and were I talking about that, I’d understand the preference for it. But that’s not the context here. In the end, my question remains the same: Why is dressing yourself in your own clothes such a difficult task? I understand everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but this is about putting clothes on your body. Why do you need someone to tell you “put these clothes on your body” or you can’t do it?

Siblings: Fantasy VS Reality

First, it seems I’m terrible at keeping up with my blog’s anniversaries. After May 22nd, my blog turned five years old. Maybe I should start making a yearly scheduled post for that.

Now, on to the topic at hand.

A stereotype of only children is they are spoiled because of their lack of siblings. Some people think it’s selfish not to give a child a sibling, and some only children do grow up to say they wish they had siblings.

I’ll be honest. Hearing these things makes me cringe, especially the former. Why? Because they’re idealizing having a sibling.

I don’t think people who consider it awful for a child to have no siblings, or who wish they themselves did, realize having a sibling is no guarantee of not being selfish or never being lonely. I don’t believe they realize that sibling could very well be someone they don’t care to have in their life. Having a sibling does not automatically mean you have a built-in playmate/best friend for life.

My mother had two children while my father had one, so I somewhat got to experience being an only child while growing up when I visited him. I much preferred the only child life. Just about every positive reason stated for having siblings never existed for me.

Taught me how to share? My sister and I only shared if forced, and I hogged my things because she continually lost or broke them. My mother forced me to loan her my baby blanket for the kindergarten (I was 8). At the end of the year, she never retrieved it, so it was thrown out. My 8-year-old self was furious because that blanket was one of my favorite possessions. But the reason I argued (and lost) against her borrowing it in the first place is I knew she’d lose it. As an adult, I still hoard things, and part of the reason I tend to buy excessively is that I can finally live without worrying where my stuff will disappear off to.

Playmates and best friends? Again, not unless forced. Otherwise, we either played alone or played with our school friends. My sister and I fought constantly, and the only time we got along on our own was to (figuratively) beat somebody else down, which usually meant drive the adults crazy. I remember people used to say we’d grow up to be best friends. At the ages of 23 (me) and nearly 20, that ship has sailed. Our relationship as sisters borders on dead. My best friend and the person I call my sister are the same person, but she’s not genetically related.

Never being lonely? I don’t even want to talk about this. All I have to say is loneliness due of no people is no better or worse than loneliness because of people.

Teaches eldest siblings to be responsible? First off, I want to hang the person who came up with the notion that oldest siblings should be live-in babysitters. If someone asked me why I want nothing to do with parenthood, the answer of “being forced to babysit my sister” would be in the top three. “Babysit” was essentially the short way of saying “everything your sister does is your fault, no matter where I am in the house”. My sister never got in trouble unless I also did. This didn’t stop until I moved out of the house, which means even at age 13, my sister was deemed “too young to know better” and I was “supposed to set a good example because I was the oldest”. Why was I supposed to enjoy this again? Ironically, babysitting other people’s children as an adult wasn’t an issue for me. Perhaps it being voluntary has to do with it?

I know everyone is entitled to their feelings, but I wish people would stop thinking “siblings = automatic BFFs” because it truly does not. Siblings are essentially hit or miss. If you’re fortunate, the stereotypes are true and you luck out. If you’re not, you get a situation like mine, where your sibling only talks to you to start an argument at four o’clock in the morning.

There have been brief periods of time where we do get along, but they’re sporadic at best. I’ve said before if I wanted to be a parent, I’d be “one and done” because I’d have zero desire to put up with what I went through with my sister. If my hypothetical kid was really so lonely, I’d let them adopt a pet. Really, I did have a cat for a few years while growing up. Much better company.

Seen and Heard

I’ve talked about this before, using a different phrase, but after working in retail for some time now, I can’t help bringing it up again.

“Children are meant to be seen, not heard.”

The sentence ignites a great amount of irritation in me. I won’t repeat myself because I went into plenty of detail about why the similar phrase, don’t speak unless you’re spoken to, is outdated and makes no sense. But this one feels even more so.

Although it’s short, after the time I’ve already spent working in retail, if there is any age group that should be seen instead of heard, it is adults!

The majority of the customers are pleasant and most transactions go normally with zero trouble. Of the problematic customers I have had, however, I’ve never had one who was a child. Neither have my co-workers. When my co-workers talk about the trouble they have with customers, they are referring to adults.

That’s not to say the children are always angelic. Of course, I hear children cry and occasionally throw temper tantrums. Or they touch things and don’t put them back correctly. I won’t deny that behavior is annoying.

But it pales in comparison to the adult who yells at me because I can’t do their return due to lack of any proof of their purchase (receipt, phone number, and/or sale tags). It’s nothing compared to the adults who frequently come to the register at closing time with a large amount of items for purchase, layaway, or both. It’s not children who leave the aisles a mess, with clothes and trash strewn across the floor (our toy aisle is very rarely messy!).

The worst thing a child has done to me directly at my register? Chatter. Yes, the “worst” experience I’ve ever had with a child at my counter is them sparking up a conversation with me. How dare they speak to me, an adult, when they haven’t been addressed?! Actually, I’m glad they do. They’re quite cheerful and tend to be the bright spot of a long shift.

In fact, the only times so far I’ve heard children continously cry are when they are tired or otherwise uncomfortable, and they’re usually small children (under three years old). I remember one particular small girl who was wailing so loudly, she could be heard throughout the store the entire time she and her family were there. My curiosity got the better of me and when they came to my register, I somewhat jokingly asked if the little one was having a bad day. Her mother flat out said she was tired and needed a nap. Is it the child’s fault she’s not being permitted to sleep? Who isn’t cranky when they’re being kept awake?

Now, I do not at all think children should be treated like adults, and in general, adults are more mature than children. I do believe that. But this concept that a child shouldn’t be allowed to speak solely because they are a child isn’t one I’ve seen to have much merit to it.

If this also refers to interrupting adults when talking, again, that should apply to everybody. Interrupting someone is rude, regardless of your age. I don’t want to be interrupted by a 30-year-old any more than I want to be interrupted by a 3-year-old.

Classism?

I had a very interesting “discussion” earlier today… if you can call someone throwing around insults like an elementary schooler because you don’t agree with them a discussion.

It seems it’s considered “classist” by some people to suggest it’s best to wait until one can afford to have a child before actually having a child.

Now, I do understand how that statement can be taken wrongly, but most people who say this are referring to being capable of, at the very least, providing for a child’s basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – before having them.

Apparently, however, even that suggests a prejudice against poor people. Never mind I’ve most often heard that statement from people who know the hell growing up without enough food to eat really is.

Before I continue, let me say this: I am well aware situations can change over time. This statement refers to those who do not have any children, not someone who already is a parent, or whose financial circumstances crumbled after their children were born. No, this refers to someone who is currently struggling and, for whatever reason, chooses to bring a child into their struggle and, as a result, struggles to provide for that child, or ultimately cannot provide for that child, because of what their situation already was.

With that clarity out of the way, I truly fail to see how suggesting it’s best to be certain you can fulfill a child’s basic necessities before you actually have a child is “classist”. Even if you can provide nothing more than basic necessities, you are still able to provide for that child. It’s the bare minimum, but it’s still enough to keep the child alive. Somehow, no matter how many times I explained this, it was read as me saying “if you’re poor, don’t have children”. Interestingly, I never mentioned a particular social or economic class. That assumption came out of the mouth of the people arguing against it.

Let me use myself as an example. I don’t have any children and I don’t plan to. If, however, I somehow changed my mind on that and decided to have a child… that child would die. That sounds morbid, but the job I have cannot even provide me with shelter for myself. So, where would I attain shelter for my child from? Now, I could provide food and I could provide clothes… but where would I put them? I could keep the child in one outfit, so that takes care of the clothing necessity, but that child will become hungry over and over. Without shelter, where will I store the food? Or do I buy food every time the child’s hungry since I can’t store it? And where does the baby sleep? Where do I bathe this baby? Uh-oh. This is a problem. My child has no shelter!

Now, knowing full well I have no capability of providing that child with something so fundamental, why would I go on to have a child? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because I know I can’t!

Yet, that’s “classist”. Now, here’s the trick question: Did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I was poor or did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I could provide food and clothes, but not shelter?

Time’s up. The answer is: Because I couldn’t provide shelter. Everything in that paragraph refers to the child’s needs and my incapability of meeting those needs, or at least one of them.

And that is the gist of it. If anything would prevent someone from providing the basic needs that keep their child alive, no matter what that reason is, to willingly bring in a child into the world while fully aware of that knowledge is irresponsible. My belief isn’t that poor people shouldn’t have children. My belief is anyone who knows ahead of time they cannot fulfill the most basic needs of a child shouldn’t go on to have a child until that changes. Economic class be damned.

However, let’s say for a moment this is “classist”. What difference does it make? At the end of the day, there is a child whose needs cannot be met by their parent(s). Somebody must feed, clothe, and give shelter to that child. If the parent(s) cannot do it, the child will either die of neglect or be relinquished from the parent(s) for that neglect.

There is a somewhat popular meme that says when people talk about getting a pet, they are constantly reminded of the responsibilities of owning said pet, but when people talk about not having a child due not being able to provide for said child, they are told they’ll “figure things out” or “God will provide”. I have heard more times than I care to count there is no “perfect time” to have child, but the idea of hoping things will just fall into place seems like a dangerous gamble to take with a responsibility that’s obviously much larger than a pet. If that gamble falls favorably, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences and the child will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of them.

Of course, in the end, it’s not my business and the responsibility of providing for that child is not mine. However, I think about this because, despite my lack of desire for parenthood, I don’t like the idea of any child being neglected. It is in no way fair to force a child into a situation where their needs cannot be met, and “life isn’t fair” should only refer to unavoidable events. Children should and deserve to be born into homes where their needs being met isn’t a worry.

To speak specifically about poverty, if someone is poor, but can still provide their child’s basic needs, there is not a problem. That child is fed, clothed, and has shelter. There is no issue here. If they are, unfortunately, too poor to provide those needs, there is a big problem. The message is not “Poor people shouldn’t have children because they’re poor.” The message is “People who know they cannot provide for a child’s basic needs shouldn’t have children because they can’t provide for the children’s needs.”

And if that is indeed classist, so be it. I care much more that a child’s needs are met than someone pointing a finger at me and screaming I’m classist. Of course, I would not tell any person they can’t have a child in the first place, no matter what their situation currently was. As I already said, it’s not my business and it’s not as if anything would stop them anyway. I only hope, for the sake of their child, they are certain.

Sibling Irony

Something I’ve often heard is that having siblings teaching children how to share.

As an (older) sibling, I can honestly say whoever started that belief deserves to be punched.

Having a sibling did not teach me how to share. It taught me how to hoard and hide my stuff because I didn’t want to share. I hated sharing anything with my sister. I didn’t become better with sharing until I was in my late teens and, ironically, didn’t have to share anymore because someone told me to.

But the effects of having a sibling had already been done and I genuinely feel like having a sibling, and specifically being the older of the two, is what contributed most to my lack of any desire to be a parent.

Like most older siblings, I was often responsible for my sister. I don’t solely mean babysitting. If she did anything wrong, somehow, it was my fault. I was expected to know better because I was the older sibling, but somehow, she never was, no matter how old she got. I was actually aware enough as a kid to point this out, but it’s not like I was ever listened to. The bottom line is I very much resented being given the responsibility of a child I had zero part in bringing into the world, and I’m positive merely being a babysitter a few times would not cause that feeling.

Of course, this varies. Some oldest siblings willingly go on to become parents, and my boyfriend is the youngest of his parents’ three children and doesn’t want kids, despite being the typical “spoiled baby of the family” (until a certain age). This came to my mind because I found it ironic and somewhat hilarious. What was supposed to teach me about sharing and being responsible became the biggest factor in why I want nothing to do with parenthood.

More so, my sister has a rather idealized idea of caring for children. She wants kids of her own someday, and I do not knock her for that, but she knows next to nothing about taking care of someone smaller than her. She once asked me how I couldn’t want kids and while I know this is a question sometimes shared by parents, in this case, it came out of the mouth of a 16-year-old whose closest experience with caring for a child had been looking after a baby doll. That question is annoying, no matter who it comes from, but it makes more sense out of the mouth of someone who is a parent and knows they like the experience than someone who’s never done it. Granted, one could argue I’m not very different in that I’ve never been a parent and am saying it’d be terrible for me.

However, there are two differences here. I’m talking only about myself. I’ve never said no one else shouldn’t want to be a parent. I’m saying nothing more than I don’t. The other is, as I said, my sister has never been responsible for any children, whereas I have, and not just her. I can remember being left to after a small group of daycare children when I was about 8 or under (yes, my mother was present). Her idea of parenthood comes from what she thinks it is. Mine comes from what I’ve done, and with no say in the matter at that.

Today, as an adult, I don’t hate children and, to an extent, I do enjoy looking after them. There are times when I’d genuinely prefer a child’s company to an adult’s. Occasionally, children who come to my register with their parents will talk about something, and one child surprised me when she was so quiet while waiting in line, but started chatting with me the second her parents came to my counter. It’s rather cute, even if I have no idea what they’re going on about, and heaven knows I’d rather hear that than be yelled at by a customer for the fifth time because I can’t do their return.

But all of those are temporary. At the end of the day, the children are gone and I go home. I can have patience with children precisely because I’m not around them 24/7. It’s easier to remember they’re children and they’re acting like children than it would be if I were over-exhausted and hadn’t slept in three days. I’ve heard parenthood can teach you patience – likely because you have no choice except to learn – but it could also very well double my temper, which happens naturally anyway. “Doing your best” isn’t an excuse when what you do causes you to scar your child. I didn’t realize until I was an adult my own mother was practically winging parenthood the whole time. She tried, but her “best” was only good when everything else was good. If not, hell reigned upon us.

In the end, along with lack of interest in parenthood, I’m not interested in playing Russian Roulette with someone’s life. At least, I can argue I wasn’t willingly given the responsibility of my sister. That was my mom’s doing. But my child? 100% my fault. No room to complain about having to share then! I’d brought that kid into the world. I’d better share!