The Hard Stuff

The day I came out (God, I still hate that phrase) was the same day I jumped in front of a car.

To be fair, the car was a close friend’s in the parking lot at school. It was, on my part, (supposedly) a joke. She was going really slow, and I just kinda bumped into it. Also, I guess I had technically came out to that same friend two days earlier – though it was an accident.

At the time, coming out and jumping in front of a car seemed worlds apart. It’s looking back now that I realize how connected the two things were.

Since coming out, I’ve been very open about my bisexuality – even when I was warned that talking about it so much would become what everyone knew me for. I didn’t and don’t care. If just one person had told me being bisexual was a thing and was okay before I turned 19, my life could have been very different. For starters, I probably wouldn’t have jumped in front of a car – no matter how slow moving it was.

Coming to terms with my sexuality is not something I discuss very openly. Even before posting this, I debated whether I wanted to share or not, but ultimately the theme of this blog is exposing myself.

I talk about what it means to be bisexual, representation, stereotypes, and everything since I came out, but I don’t talk about how I got there.

I don’t talk about the overwhelming fear I felt on and off since grade 8 that someone would mistake me for a lesbian even though I really like boys. I don’t talk about overcompensating by saying I was so straight it wasn’t even funny. I don’t talk about what it was like to think I might have been in love with a best friend at some point, or how much easier life could have been if she was a boy and I could actually like her. I don’t talk about the quick Google searches in incognito mode so I could figure out what bisexual meant and how to determine that I was one. I don’t talk about how I wished I was a lesbian because at least people “get” that. I don’t talk about the suicidal thoughts I had, or how I thought it’d be so much easier if I just ceased to exist. I don’t talk about how I had a mental break down at a Christmas dinner and to this day my whole family thinks I was just rude and not in the middle of a massive identity crisis. I don’t talk about how even though it’s gotten easier to say offhandedly “I’m bi”, I still cried and forgot all words when I told my parents. I don’t talk about the struggles or hardships, or the very real reality that for a while jumping in front of a car seemed like the preferable option than coming out.

 

I went to my first Pride this past weekend. It was amazing.

I was so nervous before going but it was honestly the most love and support I had ever felt. Everyone was authentically themselves. My best friend came with me and told me she loved her bi best friend.

Between dancing, laughing, and cheering my head off, I didn’t think of the emotional aspect. Not until I saw the group of parent supporters march past me. I don’t even remember any of the signs, or what sent me over the edge. I remember saying (or hearing) “Oh, it’s the parents!” I remember that huge rush of fear from my closeted days surging forward. And then I remember turning to my best friend and asking her why I was crying. I’m still not sure of the answer. I think it was from relief and happiness and an overwhelming sense of love.

The weekend was way more than I could ever imagine and I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone in the community, everyone who made Pride happen and who made me and my friends feel welcome. You made me forget about the hard stuff while I was there, and then gave me the oppourtunity to reflect back on it and appreciate it for getting me here. Thank you.

-Red Hot

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University Graduate – say what?

University Graduate – say what?

I graduated University a week ago.

I graduated a week ago.

Someone gave me a degree.

I’m now a University graduate.

I graduated University a week ago.

Maybe if I say it enough it will feel real?

I had two ceremonies as I was enrolled in a smaller University/College that was affiliated with the University of Waterloo.

I’m a UW Alumni (or is it Alumna? I didn’t take Latin).

I had two ceremonies. I walked across a stage in my 5″ blue stilettos twice. I was given a class ring, and a degree that’s sitting on my bookshelf. I chatted with the Chancellor (twice) and got pictures with my favourite professor. I listened to so many speeches. I wore a long shapeless gown twice in unbearable (Ontario) heat. I sat beside a close friend from high school, making jokes and staring at a broken clock.

I did it twice. And it still doesn’t feel real.

I assume that by writing all this down – by working through my thoughts – maybe I can acknowledge in a timely fashion that I graduated.

I should be happy, excited, and proud.

At least that’s what everyone keeps telling me. I should looking forward to my next steps – my next journey.

In reality, I wake up every morning and stare at my four month school calendar and worry that I still have an essay to write even though classes finished two months ago.

I think, in reality, I’m just ignoring these feelings, this acceptance of finishing such a monumental event.

My cousin and I are the only two in our family to have University degrees. We graduated a day apart. We did it, dude!

Maybe if I say it enough it will feel real.

There were two moments – one at each ceremony – where the acknowledgement of what I have done threatened to consume me.

An offhanded “You should be proud of yourself” brought tears to my eyes.

I blamed the heat I was suffering through.

A booming “Here are your 2017 graduates” had me choked up. I swallowed, made a stupid snarky remark, and followed my friend across the stage.

I am proud of myself.

Holy hell am I proud.

I have worked so hard to get where I am. I paid for all of my own education. I worked as many as three jobs at once. I didn’t really have a social life for a long time, yet I still have a handful of friends I would do absolutely anything for. Anything.

I didn’t network in the traditional sense. I stuck my nose in my books and only came up to accept a praise on an essay I had written a few days before because my perfectionist ass wouldn’t sit down and write it until I absolutely had to.

I discovered so much about myself, the world, and our future.

My heart grew and then I hardened the outside so no one would know just how deeply I care.

My mental health suffered drastically and then I did something I never thought I would do – I got help. I reached out, asked for help, and then ran with it as my new mission.

I made it through four years.

I made it through nearly $40,000 of school fees. I made it through terrible courses with great professors, and great courses with terrible professors. I made it through essays. I made it through frosh week (barely). I made it through a couple of fails and low marks. I made it through two more seasons on a competitive dance team. I made it through eight different jobs. I made it through probably a hundred books. I made it through twice as many essays. I made it through the rough times and the oh so good times. I made it through 3am essay-writing sessions. I made it through classes I barely went to. I made it through expensive meals on campus, and this new iced coffee addiction that is making me jittery as I type this. I made it through friendship ups and downs, and came out with my long-term best friend and a best friend that I can’t believe I met only in third year.

I made it through University.

I am so proud.

Writing this all down is helping, but more than that, is a conversation I had with Jess.

My best friend who still has one more year left. My best friend who isn’t living ten minutes away anymore, but I can’t be too mad because I’m moving across the country in a few months. My best friend who isn’t super mushy, but who texted me all week telling me she was proud of me until I told her I was proud of me too.

She wished me luck.

She told me I looked great.

She told me she was proud and couldn’t believe I had graduated.

She told me she was proud of me for getting into Grad School.

She told me “You made it!” She told me she couldn’t “get over how amazing and exciting it is!”

When I didn’t have the words, when I couldn’t find it in myself to acknowledge what was happening, or to be proud of myself, she did it for me.

She told me again and again how big of a deal this was until I believed her.

I succeed. And I should be proud. I am proud.

I earned a Bachelor degree in four years at one of the top Universities in the country. I graduated not only with distinction, but on the Dean’s Honour List. I got accepted into a graduate program that only accepted 12 people. I got in on a scholarship. I’m not in a ridiculous amount of debt. I was the first one in my family to tackle University. I have amazing references. I have great relationships with many of my professors (though only one stands out as being there the whole time).

I know there are a few people who are jealous of my success. I know there are people who don’t believe I had to work hard. There are people who believed my nonchalance attitude, and couldn’t understand why I was ever worried because I had “everything going for” me.

No I don’t.

My success was not handed to me.

I am not naturally smart – I’m actually quite stupid. But I worked hard, and I took detailed notes, and I retained the knowledge, and I studied something I was passionate about.

I am not in debt because mommy and daddy paid for my school. I did. I worked multiple part-time jobs while in school, and then full-time on top of that every summer.

I wasn’t always on the Honours List. I pushed myself – maybe too hard at times. I worked my way there.

I am not an outgoing and friendly person by first impression. I am not an easy friend. You have to work to earn my trust and I have to work to get people to stick around.

I did not apply to Grad School and get in right away. I waited 8 months, never really knowing where I stood. I sent weekly emails to make sure they knew my name.

My success wasn’t handed to me. I worked for it.

I graduated University a week ago.

I am so proud.

 

-Red Hot

 

It’s a Small World

“It’s a small world!”

I hate that phrase.

I can’t even tell you how many many times I’ve heard it in my 21 years, just that it’s been a lot. Hell, I’ve heard it multiple times in the last 48 hours.

I know I’ve always heard this phrase: muttered to people who are friends of my parents friends; whispered to me as my parents walked away from a 20 minute stop in the mall when we saw my mom’s second cousins; said with a smile and a shake of his head when my dad found out that his best friend from high school is my best friend’s uncle. It’s been shouted in gasps at the realization that I’m not a stranger but a mutual friend. It’s been an offhanded comment at work when a co-worker tried to set me up with someone I already knew. It’s been a cheer that followed a “she’s your cousin?”

“It’s a small world, eh?”

Always said with a smile. Always a sort of excitement. Always meant to be kind.

And yet I always find myself answering with a tight lip smile, quick nod, and an eye roll as soon as the other person looks the other way.

I hate this phrase.

I don’t remember when it started, just that in the past few years I decided I never wanted to hear this phrase again. Ironically, I’ve heard it more than ever.

I. Hate. This. Phrase.

Because it’s not a small world. Not really. Just my family has never left this region, and my friend’s families seem to be very similar.

It’s not a small world.

Yes, we are all connected in a way we’ve never been, and the outcomes of globalization is something I’m sure I will discuss another time, but it is not a small world. It is a world that is large and vast, with secrets in every pocket. It is full of billions of people who I have never met or even heard of, yet I’m supposed to believe that my soulmate lives down the street. There’s so much to explore in the world, but I’ve only seen a 20 hour radius.

Do not tell me that it’s a small world.

It’s not a small world.

It’s a small bubble that we seem to be stuck in. A small, safe bubble that we are comfortable with; we’re comfortable and we don’t want to leave because we’re happy believing that it’s a “small world, eh?”

I’m not happy with it.

In fact, I’m moving across the country in a few months and I’d be lying if I said that the phrase “it’s a small world” didn’t have any sort of impact on my decision.

Because it did. Oh boy, did it ever.

I’m tired of hearing “it’s a small world” when I haven’t explored the world. How can it be a small world when I’m moving to a city in my home country where I still won’t know a single person.

It’s not a small world.

It’s big and exciting. And I’m going to explore it. I’m going to get as far away from “it’s a small world” as I can.

-Red Hot

Mid-life Crisis

Do you ever think about your mid-life crisis?

I don’t mean the “mid-life crisis” you have when you’re about to turn 20 (guilty), or the “mid-life crisis” you have when you fail your first University assignment (guilty), or even the “mid-life crisis” you have when you’re 21 and all of sudden you have an Undergraduate degree and you have to face the reality that no one wants to hire or pay a highly-educated millennial (guilty. Every day.).

Those are all very valid reasons to freak out, especially when we’re a generation with a grip on reality and an understanding of the human existence that’s enough to turn anyone into a blubbering, anxious mess overnight.

No, I’m talking about the real mid-life crisis.

You know, the one that Baby-Boomers all claim they experienced? The one where you wake up and realize that you fucking hate the job that you’ve been in for the past 30 years that you got on no experience; but instead of leaving and giving someone else the chance while you find what makes you happy, you take your salary that is just a little too high for your position when there are still waitresses who don’t make minimum wage, and you buy a Ferrari? That mid-life crisis.

Or, if you actually decide to leave the job that’s making you unhappy, you go back to school and try something else out. Or maybe you have a friend-of-a-friend in this newer field that you’re dying to try out, so you switch careers and actually feel happy for the first time in your life. That mid-life crisis.

The mid-life crisis in which you realize that you no longer love your heterosexual lifemate, and so you go off to find a new heterosexual lifemate, who’s probably younger and prettier. Or, *gasp*, maybe you realize you no longer love your heterosexual lifemate because you fell in love with someone of your same gender (or a gender you didn’t even know existed until there was terminology provided for it), and then you have a huge “I’m gay” crisis, but more realistically you probably just fall into one of the many other sexualities that aren’t as black and white as straight and gay (or you’re just like really good at lying to yourself and everyone around your for the last 50 years. But probably you just need a google search to help you broaden your sexual vocabulary). That mid-life crisis.

Maybe you turn 50 and decide nothing’s worth it anymore.

Maybe you turn 50 the same year minion memes got popular and now that’s all you share on your Facebook feed.

Maybe you have a mid-life crisis like the ones we see in the movies.

Maybe your mid-life crisis is a weekend in Vegas that we’ll never speak of.

Maybe it’s the knowledge that you know exactly what will make you happy and you’re going to go out and get it, damnit.

Maybe your mid-life crisis is the decision to live for yourself and no one else.

 

There are so many different mid-life crises out there. I think we all need to go through them, and as much as I poke fun at the stereotypical ones, they’re stereotypes for a reason. Many people go through those. Many people turn 50 and suddenly their perception of the world shifts. That’s alright. Go grab life by the hand and apologize for ignoring its reality for so long.

Chase your dreams. Experiment. Find someone who makes you happier than you’ve ever been. Drive your kids around in your new Ferrari (or yell at them if they look at it too long). Go on the Europe trip with your high school bestie that you planned, but never got around to. Take a chance and try out that position at a start-up even though it’s super risky. Put all your eggs in one basket. Post those stupid minion memes (please don’t). Do whatever you want to make the next half of your life amazing!

 

Me?

I hope that I finally learn to scuba dive and stop being afraid of deep water. I hope I actually take up photography seriously and don’t make jokes about how bad I am in an attempt to cover up that I’m nervous about learning a new skill and being judged for the fact that I’m not a natural. I hope I combine those things and take beautiful underwater photos.

And maybe turn into a mermaid. That’d be cool.

-Red Hot

Giving Up

I promised myself that when I started this blog it would be consistent.

I knew that sometimes life got in the way, and I wouldn’t always be able to post when I was scheduled to. I also promised myself that I would never explicitly state when my posts would be going up because in the past that has backfired on me. The last promise I made to myself was that I would try really hard to never skip a full week.

But that’s exactly what I did and I feel shitty about it.

Not because I assume my followers were absolutely devastated when I didn’t post last week. Not even because I knew it meant my viewings would go down.

Honestly, I’m upset because I feel like I always start things; I always have great ideas; I always have new goals that, realistically, are a little out of reach but I jump for them anyways. Until I don’t. Until I stop. Until things get a little too hard; until I get a little too discouraged; or until things start to get a little too real. Then I give up.

I know I’m being hard on myself.

That doesn’t always happen, and when it does, there usually is a very real reason behind it. I stopped my last blog because I wasn’t passionate about it. It was too easy to just post random things there whenever. There was no theme. There was no work. And so I “gave up” on it.

At least that’s what I told myself and everyone else. In reality, I knew I wanted something more. I kept that old blog until I had a clear indication of what I wanted to do next. Voila! Red Hot (Mess) was born.

I love this blog. I’m passionate about it. But I’m also scared that I’ll do that whole giving-up-but-not-really-giving-up thing again.

Missing my posts last week was easy.

It’s not like I really had anything to do. I was busy, but I’ve been busier.

I have tons of stuff pre-written. I could have easily spent ten minutes to fix one of those up, post it, and share it on my Facebook.

My point is, it wasn’t too hard, but I avoided it anyways.

And that scared me more than anything.

The thing that’s been at the front of my mind since Thursday was that I didn’t post. Did that mean I was giving up? This is a time where I really can’t give up on anything. Did it mean I was done with this? Was I unreliable like I’ve always feared?

As soon as I realized that I was upset because I didn’t write – I didn’t do something I love and care about – I realized that I wasn’t giving up.

Life gets in the way. Sometimes I wake up with no motivation. Somedays I wake up wanting to do so much that I do everything that’s not a real responsibility. Sometimes I don’t know what to write. Sometimes I want to write, but have nothing to say. Sometimes I know exactly what to say, but don’t want to sit down and do it.

Shit happens. We get upset. We don’t always keep the promises that we make to ourselves and to others. Sometimes it seems like everything is going wrong when we want it to go right. But we can’t beat ourselves up over it.

There’s a lot of things in my life and my personality that go against my ambitions. It’s one of the many reasons I call myself a hot mess.

But hey – my therapist told me I have confidence, so at least I have that going for me.

-Red Hot

Should my face burn this much?

I am no stranger to the face mask trend.

I will try pretty much anything that is supposed to nourish my face and make it smoother than I ever thought was possible.

After years of dealing with eczema, I try to take care of my skin as best as I can without using harsh chemicals. Face masks seem perfect.

I’ve tried many different kinds: Korean sheet masks, peel off charcoal masks (DIY version), clay that tightens, mud that feels slimy until you wash it off, and my personal favourite, this one that smelled like chocolate cake.

I recently got my sister to jump on this band wagon with me. After putting on her first face mask, she shouted “Why is my face burning?”

It’s just a little tingle. Nothing to be worried about. It’s working, I reassured her.

Honestly it wasn’t until today that I even questioned that. I’m currently sitting here as a black tea mask dries on my face. It feels fine now, but 30 seconds after I put it on my face started BURNING. I was full on sweating, my eyes watered; I questioned whether it would be better to wash it off immediately, or if I should leave it on to get my money’s worth.

Obviously I picked the second option.

Up until now, I had only experienced mild tingling. I wonder if that’s what my sister felt, or if she felt this burning?

Beauty is pain. I told myself.

Excuse me, what?

Why do we accept that? Why do I, a self-proclaimed feminist since before it was common-sense, continue to live by this misogynistic rule?

To be fair, I’m wearing this face mask because it feels like I’m treating myself. I don’t have a date tonight. I’m not wearing it to impress someone else. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m wearing it because I have time.

I just want to know why when my face started burning my first reaction was to repeat the phrase that has been passed down among women for generations. Beauty is pain. Why do I have to be in pain to be reassured that something is working? Why is my pain beautiful? Why are we taught that to be beautiful, we must first endure pain?

And for the love of god, why did my face burn so much?!

-Red Hot

Jealous-Obsessed

At the end of every school term, when I should be working on exams and essays, I come up with a new “procrastination obsession” – something I become obsessed with in order to help me procrastinate. Usually it’s a TV show, though I think there have been a few exceptions (Hamilton comes to mind). This term it was a show called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” which I still stand by the fact that I was watching it in preparation for my Women Studies exam!

If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it. It’s a feminist musical-comedy with great representation of LGBTQ+ characters, people of colour, substance abuse, emotional abuse, mental illnesses, and the misogyny that women face on a daily basis.

Again, I don’t want to make this a TV review and I will try my best not to spoil anything, but I highly recommend it.

After watching the first episode, I immediately identified with the main character, a woman who also suffers from anxiety and depression, and has a somewhat obsessive personality. I quickly became obsessed with the show and it’s easy to see why.

In one of the episodes there’s a song called “Feelin’ Kinda Naughty” which describes Rebecca’s girl crush on another character.

It’s not what you think, and I think that’s why it quickly became my favourite song out of both seasons. This isn’t a cutesy girl-crush where they have pillow fights and make-out for the male gaze. It’s a borderline jealous-obsession of one of the other characters – a woman who seems perfect in every way.

I listen to this song A LOT but the last time I listened to it, I was creeping one of my high school friend’s Instagram. I immediately realized that I might have this sort of jealous-obsessive girl-crush on her. I’ve only seen her a few times since high school, but I want to be her best friend. I want to be part of her cool girl squad. I freak out just a little bit when she likes one of my Instagram posts. It’s like a feeling of being accepted into this elite squad of perfect women who are idolized everywhere.

Her Instagram is flawless and I often find myself wondering if I actually have a crush on her or if I am just obsessed with her life. She travels and models. She seems to be healthy and active. She’s talented. She has a Vanessa-Hudgens vibe and looks effortless in every picture. Her strengths seem amplified on Instagram, and my strengths seem lackluster in comparison.

In theory, I know that her life is obviously not just what she shows on social media. I know that my life is also not just what I show on social media. I know that everyone has their own insecurities, and hundreds of Instagram likes is not going to change that.

Yet when I listened to this song while scrolling/just checking up/stalking I laughed at lines like, “Hey cutie, don’t know if you knew but I kinda got a girl crush on you” and “I want to lock you in a basement with soundproof walls and take over your identity.” I cringed at the accuracy of “sorry I said that creepy stuff out loud, that was super rando. I meant to say I wanna do cutesy stuff!” I agreed that she has “silky hair” and abs that I would kill for. I’m jealous of her perfect skin, and want her to notice/compliment me.

When I hear people talk about girl-crushes, this is what a picture (there’s a difference between girl-crushes and being a woman/femme person with a crush on another woman/femme person). It’s not some cute, hypersexualized, lust-filled relationship meant for attention or to satisfy the male gaze. I don’t even think it’s an “omg, if I wasn’t straight…” moment. I think girl-crushes are this perception that someone you sorta know, but don’t fully know, is perfect in every way. Instead of being jealous and focusing on girl-hate, we become obsessed with fantasies of being her friend, or even just being a little bit like her.

Let me know if you also have these kinds of girl-crushes! Is there someone you are jealous-obsessed with?

-Red Hot