You Won’t Change Your Life in 30 Days (or 90 days or Whatever)

change_your_lifeHello beautiful Rinsers! I’ve missed you! Today I’m going to talk about something which I think is very important in our culture that focuses on quick fixes. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – all these lose weight/change your mindset/quit smoking etc etc in 30 days self-help books and programmes.
For the record,  I’m not being a hater here because you can certainly BEGIN to change that quickly but I really think more realistic expectations would help people stay on track and improve their lives long-term.

Example 1: Losing weight and becoming fit

Especially if you have not been an active person and you haven’t been eating well most of your life, it’s very easy to jump start your weight loss. Your body will go into shock because of your new habits and you’ll lose weight in no time. What’s the problem then? Sooner or later you’ll stop losing weight at an astounding rate you got used to. Your body won’t be in shock forever and your weight loss may either slow down or stop entirely. Who wants to do all the work and see no results? No one. This is the reason why a lot of people either 1) become more restrictive with their diets and exercise regimes and develop unhealthy and unsustainable habits or 2) get demotivated and get back to their old habits, which now are likely to cause a yo-yo effect. If you’re just chasing the high, the low will get you.

What’s the solution then?

Try to make sustainable goals, depending on your current fitness/eating habits. Do you eat junk food every day and binge on sweets? Try to address one problem at a time by first decreasing such behaviours and then making them an exception (which btw you should allow yourself to make from time to time guilt free). Add two exercise sessions per week to that and you’ll start to see sustainable results.
The big plus of such an approach is that you start enjoying the small changes and you can truly incorporate them into your life. With restrictive diets and quick fixes, you feel like something is being taken away from you and you’re likely to rebel against it or just feel like you live a life of deprivation. Healthy lifestyle is a marathon and not a sprint. Don’t listen to friends and acquaintances offering you overnight effects. Make small, sustainable changes instead and your results will last for a life time.

Example 2: Changing your mindset

This is even more difficult than changing your eating and exercise habits. Why? Losing weight and becoming fit will get you a LOT of approval in our, let’s be honest, superficial culture. Your friends will tell you that you look great and even if some will hate on you for saying “no” to gorging on Pick’n’Pay cake for colleague’s bday, your visible effects should keep you motivated. Now, with changing your mindset, things are much more difficult because culturally there are many wrong believes that are accepted. Just as an example, many women still believe that men are cheaters or abusers and this is just the way they are. It will not gain you popularity to decide for yourself that it’s not true and refuse to accept so little for yourself. People will get upset with you and resent you as a result. “Does she think she’s better than us?” they will ask, which may make it difficult for you to upkeep your change. The same will go to saying “no” to anything that’s socially accepted and expected but you don’t feel is good for you (examples include: becoming less stressed, deciding worrying is pointless, saying “no” to fear-mongering, not indulging in constant complaining or in gossip…).

What’s the solution then?

Decide what matters to you and stick to it, whatever others say. It’s difficult, it’s challenging but if it’s important to you, it’s important to you. You have one life.

Example 3: Bad habits

Maybe it’s the New Year’s Resolutions Time and maybe you’ve just decided to change your life. This is why you will now quit smoking, get rid off all your pot or stop overspending. From now on you’re going to be perfect! For a day or two… and then you’ll fail. If you aim high and you rely solely on your will and self-determination, it’s a really rough ride. Think about it! Your life won’t change overnight so you’ll still have to deal with your friends who smoke or ads on TV encouraging you to spend.

What’s the solution then?

I’m not saying here that going cold turkey is always a bad solution and it never works. There are also some drugs for which it’s the only way forward but I really hope that you’re not addicted to any of those. For most of us mortals, however, getting rid off bad habits is much more successful long-term if you change them gradually.
When I eventually successfully quit smoking (touch wood), I started by cutting down to 10 cigarettes a day and then downgrading slowly but surely. When I was down to 1 cigarette per week I stopped enjoying smoking and I realised how it affects me negatively (increased anxiety, immediate but temporarily shortness of breath). At 1 per month I found it gross. I haven’t had a cigarette in 4 years but I’m still craving one as I’m telling you this. This just shows that it may take 21 days to change a habit but that doesn’t mean that your inclinations towards it disappear entirely.

Growth in life should be constant and you should strive to keep improving every day. Once you’ll lose weight you may figure out that you want to cut down on sugar too not just on calories. When you’ll stop dating bad boys, it’ll be time to focus on meeting the good ones. And so on and so forth. There’s no change in life that will change EVERYTHING and you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment, if you think that what you’re currently striving for will make you a completely new person in 30 or 90 days or whatever it is that your current plan assumes.

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Adoption as the First Choice

adoptionLong time no see, Dear Rinsers. Today, I’ve decided to write a post that I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to find on the web myself, namely about adoption as someone’s first choice.

Being a thirty year old woman in a committed relationship makes it difficult for you not to think about babies A LOT. This doesn’t have so much to do with your own cravings but rather with what people think that you should do. Whenever someone gets pregnant, organises a baby shower or you’re simply at an event full of children (all of which happen a lot to you when you turn 30), people ask you what about you (, guys)? Sometimes they’re just being mean because you’re single and obviously you won’t impregnate yourself or have a child with your friends with benefits and they want you to feel bad about yourself. Other times, they’re upset that you still have time to do things they don’t have time to do themselves. Because, seriously, why do you care and how is it any of your business when or if people will have children? And if there’s no other questions you can ask a woman in her 30’s perhaps it’s up to you to work on your worldliness and small talk skills?

Genes and Co

It’s difficult for me to reply also because I don’t want to have biological children and I don’t feel like discussing that with everyone. I always felt that way, hunted by the thought of children in orphanages who’ll never have a family. I also don’t know what’s so amazing about my genes to necessarily feel like they need to be passed to another generation and why are they allegedly better than what children in orphanages have on offer. I don’t understand why other people don’t see it that way either.
They naysayer will tell you that children in orphanages have alcoholism in their families. So do I and! In fact, my tendencies to unhealthy drinking are so strong that I quit it altogether over a year ago. They’ll tell you that the children can have mental illnesses but I myself have lived my life dealing with crippling depression, anxiety and OCD. Of course, I have some perks in my genes too and I could want to pass these on but I just don’t see why I should. Everyone has some perks in their gene, after all.
I don’t understand the idea of wanting to reproduce on the organic level that people don’t understand my attitude. The need for me to adopt was always as strong as the need of other people to have biological children is. I don’t know why it’s so but it just is.

It’s Not About the Childbirth

The painful part about wanting to adopt as your first choice when you’re a woman is that people judge you as a coward. Oh women, we can be so terrible to one another! Childbirth should never have become a pain resistance competition. And because it is there may only be one reason for you to want to avoid it – fear and weakness. You just don’t want to go through a childbirth, they say, how selfish and weak of you.
I don’t deny it either – I don’t want to go through a childbirth similarly like most people would not like to go through body altering, painful experience if they don’t see a good reason for it. And I don’t. There’s enough babies in the world and we have overpopulation.
If I felt like that was something I wanted and I felt was important for me I would do it, in the same way I went through the pain of moving to a country I knew no one in, serial dating and extensive work on myself to find the right partner or a year of waking up early on weekends and working late during the week to write a novel. I’m not avoiding pain all-together and it’s judgmental to assume that I do. Just like any reasonably being what I’m doing is striving to avoid pain that I don’t find justifiable.

Life is Suffering 

Another thing is that I’ve spent a lot of my life wishing I was never born. That’s something that most people with mental problems who often wish just not to be themselves can relate to. But even without these issues, however lucky you are in life, you’re going to suffer greatly.
Your child didn’t ask to be brought to this world and it’s going to suffer because of your doing. If you had never had it, it wouldn’t have suffered. You can, of course, decide to take this responsibility on because to you there’s more beauty than pain in life. You can also decide that this is not a place you’d like to bring another being to. The choice is as much yours to make when you decide to have biological children as it’s mine to make not to.

Giving Back to Community

I’m no saint I’d like to bring up a healthy baby but there’s something very strong in me that wants to make better a life of a child in seemingly unfavourable circumstances.
Such a baby just wants to be loved and cared for and yet, society approves of it only if it’s taken to a family as a second choice. “Agh, shame” I imagine people smirking at the sight of a white couple with their adoptive child of a different race, because their choice couldn’t have possibly be their first one. It must be, because they couldn’t conceive and here’s another reason for “ag shamers” to feel superior (and what a reason is that!).
I don’t see why such a child must be necessarily a second choice because kin or not kin we’re all human and I feel as much for such a child as I do for my sister or my mother or anyone else. Why to bring a new life to this world when you can enrich your life by bringing up someone who unless you give them a chance may never have a family? And why should they feel they’re your second choice if someone who gave birth to them already rejected them and marked them with trauma they’ll struggle with all their life?

I’m not saying adoption is for everyone. I’m not saying that it is or should be everyone’s first choice either. However, if someone tells you that it is, perhaps you should stop making stupid, judgmental comments because this isn’t something you personally want but ask them what’s the reason instead? Paraphrasing Mae West, if you’re shocked a lot, it just means you should be shocked more often. Also, why are you bulling people into having children? Aren’t there enough of them in the world, which is why there are children suffering in orphanages all around the world in the first place?

Live and let others live.

Give me you thoughts, Rinsers!

Review: Book Club

BookClubPoster“Book Club” is a newly released chick flick with a number of great actresses and actors. It’s a story of four friends, now senior citizens, who’ve been meeting up monthly to discuss a book from their reading list. Their next read is “50 Shades of Grey”…

First of all, it’s nice to see a movie about older people. When Shonda Rhymes (the creator of “Grey’s Anatomy”) got an award for including diverse characters in her shows, she said that she’s not diversifying TV but she’s normalizing it. Inclusion of non-white people, sexual minorities and people older than 30 is just an actual representation of the society. It’s actually sad to have to say that it’s refreshing to see older people on screen, especially in the context of love and sex. It should be the norm but it isn’t. Series like “Grace and Frankie” about ladies in their 70s dealing with all sorts of life problems are still an exception to the rule. “Book Club” addresses partially why it is so. We think of older people as being fragile and not being able to take care of themselves. That may be true of some but times are changing. Seniors go to the gym, beat us dirty thirties on runs (so many of them beat me every time I take part in a race!), they study, start new careers and like everyone else want to have sex.

On the top of raising social awareness “Book Club” is just an enjoyable comedy to watch. You know the type: won’t change your life but is a pleasurable pastime that gives you a few laughs and will be forgotten in a week or two. A big advantage of this particular movie is that you can see some great Hollywood actors on screen, including Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Andy Garcia, just to enumerate some of them. As a typical romantic comedy it’s oversimplified and things go way too smoothly for the characters but that’s just a part of the genre. I think someone who has read “50 Shades of Grey” will appreciate the movie more (certainly get more jokes) than someone who hasn’t. Please don’t read the book if you haven’t, though ’cause it’s really trashy! I also don’t think reading it made as much impact on anyone as it did on the characters but exaggeration is oh well, yet again a part of the genre.

All in all, if you want some light entertainment, you’ll probably get exactly that out of “The Book Club”. If romcoms irritate you, rather skip this one.

 

Review: On Chesil Beach

On_Chesil_Beach

Let’s talk about sex, baby. “On Chesil Beach” for a movie about sex has very little of it happening on screen so don’t get too excited. This lyrical adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel (check out my review of his novel “Sweet Tooth” here) with the screenplay by the author has just debuted on South African screens. It’s worth a watch, especially if you’re a McEwan fan, but far from brilliant.

Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) are in love but come from very different backgrounds. They can talk for hours, have fun together and his family loves her. But are they truly a match? They’ve never had sex or know much about it, which will make their wedding night truly unforgettable and not in the right way.
The narrative in the movie splits between the said wedding night and how the relationship had progressed leading to it. Sounds promising? Perhaps but something went wrong. Maybe it’s just that two hours for an adaptation of a very short novel (or should I say a novella? The Booker Prize Committee seemed confused too!) was just too much screen time, which is why it resulted in lengthy story telling?

The movie certainly addresses a number of interesting issues such as sexual (and general) compatibility, the importance of sex in a relationship, sexual frustration of well-behaved people. I can’t complain about the acting either. The performances by both actors are, in fact, very strong. Seeing that their relation is the focal point of the story, it adds a lot to the movie. You may remember Saoirse Ronan as a young girl from another adaptation of a McEwan novel, “Atonement”. Already there she was a remarkable actress and she doesn’t disappoint in “On Chesil Beach”. She’s detached, calm and perhaps slightly deprived of emotions, just like I imagined Florence when reading the book. Billy Howle as Edward is quite a straightforward guy, at the same time fierce and awkward. Other actors are somewhat peripheral but they do a good job too. I also really appreciate the music and beautiful scenery.
Unfortunately, it was just all not enough to keep my attention through the movie. I really like deep, well-constructed characters but this movie completely forgets that there needs to be some action. Watching the film felt a little bit like watching a couple’s therapy session.

To sum up, “On Chesil Beach” is an okay plus watch. I can see and appreciate what the director and the scriptwriter tried to do there but I’m not buying it as a product. Now to finish off I’ll share with you an amusing anecdote about the writing of the novel: Apparently, Ian McEwan has admitted to taking a few stones from Chesil Beach in a radio interview. He kept them at his desk when writing. This confession caused protests by Mother Nature lovers as that was apparently illegal, which the author hadn’t know about. He ended up paying a fine of 2000 pounds. Go figure, the Brits!

 

Review: Queer Eye

Queer Eye“Queer Eye” is a Netflix reboot of an American reality show, which ran for a few years and was cancelled in 2007. The premise of the old show and of the new one is simple: a number of gay men, known as the Fab Five performs a makeover. A typical formula of an episode is: the Fab Five changes a person’s clothes (Tan), hair and grooming habits (Jonathan), house (Bobby), teaches them something useful in social/cultural life (Karamo) and a tad about cooking (Antoni). I have just finished watching season 2 of the show and I’m happy to share some thoughts.

First of all, I love how “Queer Eye” plays with stereotypes (just look at the title!). Unfortunately, there’s a very limited general perception of gay men assuming they’re all the same in terms of behavior. Obviously, gay men as any other group are very diverse and can’t and shouldn’t be all put in one box. “Queer Eye” is spreading social awareness in that way, giving the audience five men who are gay and that’s pretty much the only thing they have in common. They have different backgrounds, personalities, sense of humor and tasks on the show. Fortunately, they all do get on well at least on screen (I assume off screen too as they demanded to all be paid the same), which makes the show really entertaining to watch.

The Fab Five is based in Atlanta and usually makes over a straight man. Season 1 was a bit too scripted for my liking with the men to be made over seemingly chosen by (an American) social issue to discuss. The chats with the participants aimed at “solving the issues” were at times painful to watch. Season 2 seemed to have been much more free-flowing.
Let’s be real here, I don’t think a makeover can change anyone’s life entirely but it’s definitely a first step in a good direction and it’s nice to watch people grow. Despite this artificiality, which is just a part of reality TV, “Queer Eye” is actually a very entertaining and heartwarming show. It’s really pleasant to see people being nice to one another, especially when they’re seemingly very different. It reminds the audience that at the end of the day, we always have something in common with others. Being bullied ad school (check out my review of “13 Reasons Why, Season 2”), not being accepted by one’s family or just a general struggle with being one’s true self are very widespread problems. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we tried to relate a bit more to one another and focus on what we share rather than on what divides us?

Apart from the educational value of “Queer Eye” there’s a lot of guilty pleasure in watching it. It’s fun to see neglected houses turning into simple masterpieces and men with beards that hide the last two weeks of breakfast in them becoming their best looking selves.It’s a good reality show that you can watch with pleasure when the Cape Town dams are filling up with water due to the rainfalls, during your local winter or whenever you need a pick-me up. I’m really looking forward to season 3!

Why Are Relationships So Hard?

tough“Why are relationships so hard?” isn’t only a popular search term that brings people to our website but also a question people seem to ask often in real life. So here are some answers you may (or equally may not) find relevant to you:

  1. You’re with a wrong person

We could indulge in a philosophical conversation about how nothing truly is right or wrong and how things sometimes are right for that particular moment in a person’s life. We could but we won’t. Being with a person you’re not a match with is like trying to link two puzzles of not complimentary shapes together. It may be almost right or it can even look like it’s the right one for a while but soon it will become evident it isn’t the one you’ve been looking for.
A bad start  is a particularly good indicator of you and the person perhaps just being wrong for one another. I know that people love to romanticize martyrdom and sacrifice but love isn’t meant to be hard, especially not in the beginning. Your partner is supposed to be a source of strength, not someone who drains you.

2. Your expectations may be too high

A good relationship is exactly that… a good relationship. It is NOT a solution to all your life problems. If your life isn’t working otherwise, even the best relationship won’t do much for you. Besides, if your life is a mess you’re likely to end up dating someone who’s life is a mess and that just complicates things because now you not only have to sort your shit out but also encourage someone to sort their shit out and if you don’t manage, break up with them when you realise all they do is drag you down. It’s possible that the relationship isn’t hard but just everything in your life is and it feels that way. Also, don’t ever trust what you see on social media wishing you were like this or that couple. It ain’t real.

3.  Define “hard”

Life’s hard in general. If your complaint is that you encounter certain problems in your relationship and you don’t spend all your time with your partner lovingly staring in each other’s eyes while simultaneously shitting rainbows, well, that’s life. A fight from time to time is healthy and so is a bit of silence. You’ll never again have the intensity of the first few months either (not that you could actually live on that little sleep forever). It’s just science.
However, if your partner makes your life a living hell or you have serious issues with them it may be best to seek some professional help. That applies to a long-term relationships. If it’s not working right in the beginning, rather let it go (also read point 1 of this post).

4. Maybe you’re the problem

People love to blame things on other people and make swift generalizations. Whenever someone says something like “Men are just like that.” what they really mean is “Men have been like that in my experience because that’s the kind of men I’ve been choosing but change is difficult so I prefer to say something which sounds like a general rule so that I don’t feel bad about it.” After all, if something is just reality you’re being pragmatic, right? Wrong. Listen out for statements of this sort you make and analyze whether they’re actually true.
It may be that you keep repeating yourself that relationships are hard just to avoid the truth about your relationship or relationships being hard. Have you noticed the “you” part? That’s because you and your choice of partners is the problem. Now, if you want to know why is that invest in psychotherapy or other professional help who’ll help to discover the reasons because no one is paying me to discover that!

5. The why isn’t that important

Whether you have a low threshold for problems in life, you’ve chosen a wrong partner or you just like to say things like this to make yourself feel less responsible for your life, understanding the “why” behind the question “Why are relationships so hard” won’t help you. Sometimes there is no “why” like with why some people are born to poverty or children die of cancer. Things just are and if you prefer you can believe in supernatural being such as gods and their plans. Alternatively, you can accept that some things just are.
Brief, don’t ask “Why Are Relationships so Hard?” rather choose questions about things which you can change like “Why Is It 7th time in my life I’m asking myself “Why Are Relationships So Hard?”?” or “Why Do I Find Relationships so Hard?”.

 

 

Review: Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

mating in captivityEsther Perel is a renowned psychotherapist who has been working with couples like forever. One of her main interests are long-term relationships and more specifically domestic sexuality and infidelity. She’s also fluent in 9 languages and in general a very impressive smart thinker. During one of my book shopping splurges I bought a copy of her book “Mating in Captivity” and here’s what I think about it.

“Mating in Captivity” is an interesting read. Theoretical parts of the book are supported with Perel’s clients cases. It’s quite a comprehensive book in some aspects. I did feel, however, like it was written a bit too much on the basis of Perel’s work experience and thoughts and there was too little focus on other books/research on the topic.
The author makes some very important points. She underlines how a good couple is a union of independent beings and how dependence and lack of separation is a desire killer. This is counter-intuitive given our social and cultural programming (just think about the Jerry Maguire everyone’s favorite line to his love interest “You complete me.”). I also liked how she pointed out the importance of society in formation of our expectations and views regarding sexuality and domesticity. As a representative of any Western society, you can relate to most of what she’s talking about. Still, some of her points are very American culture oriented and fall flat with a non-American reader.
The society has a big impact on us but Perel couldn’t be a respectable psychotherapist without mentioning a thing or two about the impact of childhood and our relationship with parents on our sexuality. Last but not least, she discusses the complex reasons why children can be such sex life killers and no, just being tired isn’t anywhere close to the full explanation.

The book provides food for thought and reads well. I do have certain doubts about its use for a troubled couple, though. Let’s say someone, for instance, thinks that spending 100% of your time apart from work with your partner is the blueprint for happiness but after years of doing so is struggling with resentment and a non-existent sex life. I really doubt that pointing out that this isn’t the way to go, even if supported with an appropriate case study will encourage this person to change. In a way, as good as this book is, it does feel a little bit like preaching to the choir. Perhaps the genre of the book is a bit unclear? It has some traits of a self-help book as well as some of a more general “how human works” vibe. Anyway, thanks, Madame Perel for making me feel justified in my judgment of other couples 😉

 

When Things Change

bloom-blossom-blur-162311Some people dread change, others almost pathologically follow it and then there’s this third group there’s somewhere in between. I’ve been a representative of all three groups at some points in my life. Regardless of what your attitude to change is, things do change so embracing it is just a part of life.

Of course, there are all these unpredictable horrible changes that happen to people. A dreadful disease, a death of a family member, a loss of job or a lover. Life’s full of surprises and many of them are far from pleasant. It’s often not easy to deal with something bad that has hit us unexpectedly, especially that we foolishly consider our lives comfortably predictable and safe. My general make up is more of an expectation of the worst so my relationship with this source of change is weird. It’s not like I’m not angry or sad it’s more like underneath all these feelings there’s a strong undertone of “Oh, hello, tragedy, I’ve been expecting you.” Now, to be honest (touch wood) I’ve been so far spared many of the worst life tragedies and I have had an objectively easy life. Being highly sensitive, however, means that I sometimes take blows that would mean almost nothing or little to other people very badly.

Anyway, let’s not talk about the bad stuff. Change can also be positive but even if it is, it can bring unexpected consequences. For instance, I remember when being a singleton I was the first one to criticize friends who get too comfy with their boyfriends or girlfriends and ditch their friends. Almost two years into being married I still believe that being a separate unit from your partner is crucial to your personal and couple happiness. Say “yes” to hobbies, friends and networking. Still, part of having a functional relationship is spending a lot of time together doing both fun and domestic things with your partner. Even though I used to be so eager to judge, today I must say that life just isn’t the same for a single person as for a person in a committed relationship. When you like spending time with your partner (and if you don’t why are you together?) and they’re your priority, your time for other things becomes more limited. Some things even have to go and honestly you’re quite happy to let them. Sure, it’s nice to have an extended date with your girlfriends from time to time but your preference for a weekend away will be most of the time to be with your partner and/or other members of the coupleverse.

So there’s a partner that will unavoidably change your world in some way. Then there are other things related to being an adult. For some people this means puppies and for other children. The point is, unless you’ve been in the situation yourself you don’t really understand to what extent such things change your life. Surely you’ve been telling people either directly or indirectly “Ah, but you used to be out all the time!”. Of course, when you’re on the receiving end and it’s your friend getting steady with someone or moving abroad or enrolling into a study program on the top of their full-time job you’re the one feeling the emptiness. Unavoidably, however, you’ll be at some point the one changing (and if you won’t is this really a good sign and are you developing at all?). It seems like the best thing to do is to try to get as comfortable with life changes as you can. Both yours and that of others because change is very often a sign of growth and what doesn’t grow is dead (even if just inside!). Also, there’s no point crying over spilt milk and all.

Last but not least, no one changes entirely. Big events in life usually just strengthen the features that people have already had. These moms that tell you they have no time whatsoever for exercise now that they have kids and you’ll understand that one day, in most cases didn’t use to be active before the kids either (just don’t point that out cause they’ll bite your head off!). Active parenthood is a thing and as challenging as it must be many active people fight to upkeep that lifestyle in some modified way.  The people that all of a sudden start to be crazy late after they get a promotion using their Responsible Job as an excuse, usually used to annoy the shit out of you with this characteristic before too. Those who can’t keep any arrangements after they found a new partner, become just more flakey than before. In other words, yeah life sometimes changes drastically but people are also full of shit and LOVE excuses. Am I right or am I right?

When things change and they change all the time, try to go with a flow. Sometimes change pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes your life even better than before. Other times it makes it worst. Sure, it’s annoying when you had been happy about something and this something changed but it’s just life. Moan and complain a little bit and then move on!

Review: 13 Reasons Why, Season 2

13-Reasons-Why-season2Like many people who watched season 1 of 13 Reasons Why, I did not expect another installment. The narrative seemed exploited enough and the end lacked the regular baits allowing the makers to continue with the plot. It’s difficult to stop once you’re successful, I guess, and the decision has been made to give the audience more.

Was a continuation of the series a good idea? Season 1 gave us what it promised: 13 reasons why Hannah decided to kill herself. It was a good series for teenagers to feel they’re not alone and for those of us who are older, it was a reminder of how horrible high school can be. I’d lie if I said that “13 Reasons Why” wasn’t a bit trashy. Still, it was actually enjoyable. I can’t say the same about season 2.
There’s always something more to say about a story or a character but it doesn’t mean that it has to be said. It’s okay for the audience to have some questions, doubts and a sense that their appetite has not been completely satisfied. That’s exactly what makes people remember series, movies and books. The financially driven compulsion to continue doesn’t always serve the initial product. If the producers wanted to milk that cow a bit longer, perhaps a spin-off focusing on one of the characters was a better idea. Season 2 doesn’t really add anything valuable to Hannah’s story.

The premise is a mixture of the present day school life with a court case between Hannah’s parents and her high school. Clay is still the main focal point of the narrative but it’s more split among other kids than in the previous season. There’s also the ghost of Hannah that keeps following the poor boy (I know, right?). The plot is pushed in a way to awaken enough interest in us about other characters to watch season 3 and the end is this time very clearly open to tempt us into wanting more.
What we learn from the new installment about Hannah’s life makes us feel like she wasn’t as lonely and hopeless as it seemed in her tapes. The friendships she had now seem much more meaningful. Was she really as lonely as she described it? We learn more about betrayals she experienced as well but they feel more justified, seen from the point of view of other kids. All stuff that happened to Hannah is still horrible but somehow after this season she seems less not more relateable.

I also was quite disappointed in the didactic nature of this season. I understand the need to send the message to kids that they’re not alone but did they really have to include all the painfully scripted conversations that I never think would come out of the mouth of a real person? It just smells of propaganda. The wildly advertised additional resources are a place to go to look for help. Characters should behave the way the would in real life, even if it’s not always commendable.

To sum up, I was disappointed with season 2. “13 Reasons Why” didn’t need a sequel and certainly not the one it ended up receiving. If you enjoyed the series rather skip it to be able to retain good memories of it.

Unpopular Views and Choices

solitude

Having unpopular views and making unpopular choices may be glorified in film and literature but in reality, it doesn’t make anyone’s life’s easier. Long-term “living life on your own terms” can be annoying and occasionally even depressing. Te reality check often happens when you leave the bubble of your comfort zone and you deal with an outsider who has views so different to yours that he or she may seem like an alien from a different planet.

Let’s be honest, going with the herd is just what’s expected. It doesn’t matter whether you don’t believe in any gods, don’t want children, have 20 of them, dyed your hair pink or moved countries. Whenever you do something that most people don’t do and the effects of it are visible, the question you’ll get is “Why…?” and you’ll get it often.
I remember once hearing a father replying to his son’s question “Why does this lady dye her hair blue?” and him replying “Because that’s the colour she’s chosen for herself.”
It is, of course, possible to make yourself more open-minded. Unfortunately, a lot of people prefer to be surprised all the time, stare and ask. And hey, perhaps I’m a bit jealous. If it rocks your whole world every time you see glitter on someone who’s more than 5 than you truly have an exciting life!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people’s tendencies grow with age. Those who were close-minded get even more into their shells and people who rocked the boat once are not shy to do it again. I think those who by some circumstances were pushed to do something out of ordinary develop a certain liking for it. I mean, it is liberating that you don’t have to do whatever people do and expect you to do but you can rather ask yourself whether it’s your preference.
Such an intrinsically motivated life can be definitely satisfying and sometimes when you’re on your own you can smile to yourself, feeling that you live a life you truly want. However, what people often leave out in their narratives of breaking the rules is the price that they have to pay for it. Sometimes they truly get so self-absorbed in the bubble they created that they forget that there’s a whole outside world out there who judges and disapproves.

Sometimes the meeting with this world is an Uber trip. The driver and I discussed charity. The conversation was full of mutual back-patting related to our amazing awareness of social issues. To improve the good impression the driver said that he’s a Muslim but that’s not why he helps others, it’s because he feels it’s needed. “What religion are you?” he said. Oh dear, I thought but “None,” I replied nonetheless. Then came the silence till I was dropped off and an Uber star rating that lowered my general score. Must be because of this baby I ate for breakfast.
Another time it was my husband’s drunk family member who cornered me in the bathroom at my own wedding, relentlessly trying to learn why my parents weren’t there. The reasons were complicated and none of them was something that I wanted to discuss or be reminded of. She wasn’t accepting any vague replies and eventually, I was saved by another wedding guest pressing bladder.
Yet another time it was actually a funny reminder. A post official misspelled my name and surname in a way that it started to look like a local one.
In any case, making unpopular choices is the easy part, it’s living with them that sometimes is difficult. All I’m saying is: let’s be real and just not forget in our “I’m such a unique snowflake and a rule breaker” narratives that sometimes it’s tough and annoying to be one. Especially, when like me, you struggle to bite your tongue.

Now, even though it can be difficult to express your unpopular views (be it in speech or behaviour), I still think it’s the only way to be. Therefore, what’s left is navigating through the difficulties. Here are certain techniques when people start being nosy and annoying, asking you the question you’ve been asked a zillion of times:

  • Sarcasm

You remember Bridget Jones, the role model of all 30ish singletons? (Btw Poland is so bad in stigmatising being single that I could relate to her in my early 20s!). She had the following exchange with someone at a party trying to publicly shame her:

“- Why are there so MANY unmarried women these days?

– It could be because beneath our clothes, our bodies are completely covered with scales?!?”

If someone is trying to publicly shame you or is asking you a nosy and rude question such as why don’t you have a boyfriend (or when will you have babies or why do you have an accent etc) make a sarcastic remark referring to the underlying cause of your situation this person is suggesting there is.

  • Reply with a question turning the tables

This is my favourite personal technique that unfortunately I often only use afterwards in my head after someone put me on the spot and I got emotional and hurt. Whatever someone’s asking, if you ask them “Why are you asking?” and start drilling, you allow them to embarrass themselves. Ideally, it goes something like that:

– So when are you planning to have children?

– Why are you asking?

A person either gets apologetic and says something like “No reason” or starts to express their actual views, which often end up being embarrassing in the eyes of everyone taking part in the exchange. You can also pull their tongue if they say something too vague with “So is what you’re saying…?” or “So do you think that…?” Expect fun results and blushing!

  • Get emotional and angry

I don’t like this technique but because of my personal characteristics, I use it most often. Many people will back off when you get visibly upset but they also get what they came for. You are, after all, insecure about your silly choice and there is some underlying issue there!

  • Be vulnerable

If you want to shut someone’s mouth forever, being vulnerable is a great option. Sometimes it can genuinely improve your relationship with the person, other times it will at least get them off your back. You can either truly tell them what you think about the issue or share the problems that are related to it. You may end up being accused of oversharing but in this case, it’s a means to an end.

Let me know in the comments section whether you have any more tips or thoughts on the matter! Also, enjoy this sort of related Monty Python clip because Monty Python is always good: