As we end the month some refer to as ‘Sextember’, I wanted to reflect on what it currently means to me to be a single girl. Various books, articles and Instagram feed scrolls later, I began to collate words of affirmation for myself, and this is what eventually came of it.
In my early teen years, I was an obsessive diary writer.. and that’s putting it mildly. I eventually had to force myself to stop writing because, being as fixated as I was on recording every minute detail of every day, I was at least several weeks behind on my entries. Since then, in an effort to learn the art of editing and save myself from the inevitable fate of carpal tunnel and/or arthritis, I’ve taken to lists.
Towards the end of a year/the beginning of a new one, aside from the usual resolutions and stuff, I like to make a little record of things I’ve achieved over the year… big things, little things, strange things, memorable things.
1. I became a Master, by finishing my postgrad studies in design.
2. After talking about it for many years, I finally took hip hop dance classes. It was amazingly fun… and then I decided to stretch myself with a jazz class straight after hip hop one night. I was mesmerized by a beautiful male dancer flying through the air and doing a spinning thing and trying to do the same… and suddenly, I was on my ass, being helped up by an Indian guy (who was definitely less coordinated than I, and yet he still managed to not fall down). And seeing as one of my number one rules in life is ‘never return to a place where you have fallen on your ass in front of a large group of people’, that was the end of that.
3. I finally started designing and making real jewellery! I’m currently working on producing a limited run of my best pieces from the last collection, and designing a new collection!
4. I published an opinion piece over at Your Friends House about how watching copious amounts of SVU has made me think that every stranger who smiles at me for no reason could be a rapist. My girl friends’ reaction: “YES. I totally identify with this”. My guy friends swayed between “Ummm, I feel uncomfortable because it sounds like you are making fun of rape” and “Whoa, girls are cray”. I learned so much about gender dynamics!
5. I learned ALOT about social media through my first internship at a gallery. I wish I could say I didn’t still wish I was successful enough to not have to manage my own though.
6. At my second internship with the fashion label stylestalker, I stepped into the role of photographer’s assistant for a day (after avoiding it like the plague for many years) and realised it wasn’t half bad. It actually made me want to pick up a camera again! I also learned a bunch of useful things about the intersection of fashion and graphics, and officially became a fan of youtube and other internet tutorials. People are SO helpful!
7. I somehow learned to become less attached to material things. Not quite sure how it happened… Looking back, it feels like I just woke up one day and felt really claustrophobic about all the STUFF that was everywhere. Since then, while it may not look like I’ve made much of a dent in getting rid of said ‘stuff’, I know the biggest step has already been taken… emotional detachment.
8. I made the gym a part of daily life again… to the point where I no longer feel like my feet will explode from heat exhaustion when I put them into sneakers during the summer months.
9. I went on a blind date. It wasn’t even super-awkward.
10. I re-read my childhood diaries and came to appreciate what a funny/nerdy/awesome 9yr old I was (and how utterly unaware I was of it). My descriptive entries about just receiving looks from the opposite sex around 13 were a bit alarming though.
What were some of your highlights?
1. There’s a reason why I no longer go out for long and leisurely walks…. Strange men who are driving past, suddenly slow their cars next to me and do everything from waving, hollering obscenities to asking for digits. It’s pretty tragic that even my relatively quiet streets aren’t safe from the likes of propositioning drivers.
2. It is really satisfying to scribble on paper, as opposed to typing on Word.
3. If I am running late for a train, the ticket machine is always going to be faster than the ticket attendant…. unless there is a person with a confused look on their face in front of it. (Note: If you happen to be said confused person, the next time someone offers to help you, instead of scowling and continuing to fail at making the machine give you a ticket- resulting in everyone in line behind you also missing the train- accept the offer.)
4. If I covet something too much, it will never, ever live up to my expectations…. be it a person, an object or experience.
5. There is no such thing as a perfect day. Newton said it best, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. If 3 good things happen and I’m jazzed about what a perfect day I’m having… I might then lose my water bottle on this scorcher of a day, for example. So a day when nothing terribly exciting happens, but also, nothing bad happens, may be the most fulfilling kind.
6. Old friends are like old jumpers, no matter how old or ratty, I’ll know every hole, stain and loose thread; it will know all my bumps, awkward limbs and surface sensitivities. Best of all, it always fits snugly in all the right ways, no matter how long it’s been since the last wear.
7. Ironing is therapeutic.
For me, finding balance in the wilderness that is everyday living has always been one of the greatest challenges. I’ve been revisiting the EPIC series, The Secret Life of Us lately… and inspired by the character Kelly’s need to ace the Trifecta (Work life, Family life and Love life), I’ve since developed my own system for maintaining sanity. A little something I like to call FLOPSIES.
8 Points of Balance and Wellness
Family. I define this as spending time with or doing something nice for members of your family. When you’re cooped up at home a fair bit, and have little time to spend being a social butterfly… it’s easy to begin to feel really disconnected and detached from the rest of the world. So for me, having breakfast and a chat with my mum everyday has made me feel connected and centered again.
Love. Once again, being kept busy running in the rat race, expressions of love become scarce. But as nurturing actual relationships take more time and effort than I can spare right now, to fulfill this category, I count everything from telling a friend I love them, to conversations with someone I may be crushing on haha.
Occupational. This currently accounts for most of my time, but I’ve been focusing on it in different ways lately. Discovering occupational wellness means exploring our true purpose and calling in life, learning to cope with work stress, working toward our goals, and finding a career that lines up with our ultimate dreams. Your occupation is what you’ll spend most of your time doing, so you want it to feel meaningful. This requires taking directed steps to get in touch with who you are and what you want from your chosen career. I spend a treasure trove of time making lists, as some of you know… and am now trying to make those pipe dreams I list into reality.
Physical. Staying fit has never been very easy for me. While I’ve never struggled with issues of weight or anything, I hate that I can’t run for 5minutes without feeling like my lungs are on fire and getting a stitch! And being a food lover, it’s a bit of a constant challenge trying to eat healthy, as well as balance it with exercise. So for me, this point is all about having a lifestyle based on good habits and supporting my level of fitness.
Social. Relationships of all kinds have been a major source of neglect for me this year, and thus, a major source of guilt. Becoming a borderline recluse as a result or spreading myself a little too thin, I’m now dedicated to sharing the friendship love better than I have been.
Intellectual. This category is about mental stimulation for me. Concentrating on it is helping me fall back in love with life and sparking my imagination in a million ways. I’ve been reading more, watching things that inspire thought, writing and creating art! So far it’s been a fabulous journey of exploration and wonder.
Environmental. I’ve always known that my mood is wildly affected by my surroundings, be it people, places or objects. When my workspace is clean, organised and clutter free, I’m much for likely to be able to concentrate and be productive. Despite everything I do to the contrary, when I need to really concentrate and get something done, I revert to minimalist ways. There needs to be silence and only the necessities surrounding me. I’ve also read that “you feel better when you connect with nature and care for your natural environment. Acts of caring, whether extended to your personal surroundings or the world at large, create simultaneous feelings of self-care”. So I’ve been allotting a little time everyday to keeping my personal and workspaces tidy, throwing out things that might otherwise hung around for ages only to be brutally discarded later, and going for nature-appreciating walks, watering the garden and so on.
Spiritual. This is actually the hardest and least achieved on my list. I don’t do too well with broad, vague definitions, and this encompasses… a whole lot. I’ve taken spiritual wellness to mean, clarifying my beliefs and values so I can truly live by them. We each have our own, individual spiritual journey, and I’m currently working on seeking meaning and true purpose in life. In many ways, this means working out my connection with the universe, and what I contribute to it. So it’s safe to say, this is one facet of wellness that will most likely never be completely clarified.
So that is my current, daily system… I’d love to hear about other people’s individualised systems too if you have them.
5 reasons why I am fond of using aliases
1. Saves me from constantly having to spell my name, using the spelling alphabet. I for India, R for Romeo, N for November, I for India and another N for November. You wouldn’t believe the number of mistakes that still occur following this, e.g. “What was that? Irwin? Irmin? Anna?”
2. To avoid the question of… “Oh that’s unusual, where is that from?”, and upon owning up to my origins, “Wow, your English is very good, you don’t have an accent at all!”. Well, I’ve only lived outside of my island home for the past 15 years.
3. To prevent the following scenario: I introduce myself to someone before giving them a massage and get the question mentioned above, but he decides to take it one step further and Googles “Irnin name origin”. I tell him I’ve tried this myself numerous times to no avail, which he soon finds out for himself… at which point he just googles “Irnin”. My greatest nightmare is one step away from coming true as about the first 20-30 results lead to me, my blog, my linked in account, my exhibitions. Then it happens. The nightmare becomes reality as he clicks on my blog and starts poring through it while I am massaging him. He clicks on Poetry, reads a few of those, tells me they would make better song lyrics than they do poems, and that it’s obvious I must have terrible taste in men- being an expert on both topics I’m sure. He reads my letters from the Everafter project, and chuckles to himself; comments on my ‘Rads’ category, that that is a strange choice of word, asking if I came up with that all by myself or was it a commonly used phrase amongst friends? That sure was the longest ten minute massage I’ve ever given. And thank my genes I’m brown, or the deep blush of warmth rising from my neck and encompassing my entire face might have shown as a colour!
4. Who wouldn’t love that hit of anonymity, posing as something as common as Ruby, or Helga or Justice, when they are ridiculously easy to stalk? I mean track down. I mean, find.
5. Sometimes it’s just less pressure to be somebody else for a minute or two. Especially in a massaging situation where I’m only with them for 5mins and no matter how much I try to convince them otherwise, a select few people still hold it on par to a slightly sexual experience. These people shouldn’t be allowed to find me, it’s almost what you might call… a risk. They already know my face, an unusual name like mine to go along with it? Like taking candy from a baby, I’d be making it way too easy for them. A few years ago, I received a long and winding email from some guy I went to school with, that I had no recollection of, who had a bit of a crush… he tracked me down through other people from our school, using a FAR too detailed physical description. So this email monologue was all about how he had been watching me sleep on the train. True story.
Nine ways to let go of a snag in your day:
1. Blast very sing-able tunes directly into your ear. (e.g. you took the words right out of my mouth! must’ve been while you were kissin me….)
2. Say LALALALALALA…. very loudly in your mind until the general annoyed feeling dissipates.
3. Expend incredible concentration on something detailed, like a sketch.
4. Have a quick power nap and hope your subconscious has something juicy for your eyes to feast upon.
5. Don’t relate the negativity to anyone else – often, talking about it will just get you riled up again.
6. Talk to someone who makes you laugh your ass off… and allow them to make you leave the conversation ass-less.
7. Focus on another form of obsession instead, such as a crush or the one that got away, the painful unrequited love or the chipped nail you can’t file.
8. Watch something full of melodrama and get caught up in it, like Dawson’s Creek… Oh Pacey!
9. In the words of Gaga… Just dance.
Steps towards getting over something*:
1. A sudden and radical change, haircut or dye usually suffices.
2. Go cold turkey.
3. Make a lot of to-do lists and try to get through at least a quarter of them.
4. Rip off the band-aid, face it and attempt to deal with all that you’ve shoved under the carpet.
5. Take baby steps, instead of attempting giant leaps.
*disclaimer – may only serve to fill a void and act as momentary distractions