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

Avoiding the fact that I’m a mess

“My preferred method of dealing with things is avoidance and hoping it goes away.”

When I wrote this down the other day as an upcoming blog topic, I originally thought it was going to be funny. The punchline was something along the lines of “I am not a mature adult.” It was going to be another way for me to prove to everyone that I am a hot mess, and people really need to stop asking me for life advice or to give presentations to their high school classes (because yes, I do that now).

I was going to share stories of how I’ve been ghosted in the past, and have also ghosted people without seeing the issue that so many other people my age see. I was going to recount my best petty and passive-aggressive messages, posts, and comments. You were going to read it, laugh, and then think “my god she’s a mess. I’m glad I don’t actually know her.”

But then, like many things in my life (and yours too probably, idk. I don’t know your life) it got serious.

I started working on the anxiety section for my therapy today, and lo-and-behold the first sentence in my handbook was: “There are two types of behaviours that characterize our anxiety: avoidance and safety behaviours. We avoid and seek safety when we are anxious, because these behaviours help us feel better in the short run” (Greenberger and Padesky, 225) (Yes, I cited that in proper MLA form; I’m an English graduate – what did you expect?)

When I read that sentence, everything sort of clicked, and I no longer thought my post about avoidance could be funny and harmless.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an idiot. I know what I’m doing when I’m avoiding confrontation, situations, certain discussions, people, etc. I know that I am avoiding them to remove myself and my anxiety from the situation. I know that it’s not making anything better. I just hope that things will be solved without confrontation. I hope that “closure” isn’t a real thing that people need.

I knew I was avoiding things. I’ve been avoiding things my entire life. I’m good at it. What I didn’t know was how much I relied on avoidance, or how it contributed to my anxiety to make it worse.

I’m not perfect, and I don’t pretend to be. I say that often enough, but I feel like I need that disclaimer.

Obviously I still don’t love confrontation. I don’t think I can promise that I will never avoid a situation ever again. I can tell you that I know firsthand that it just prolongs and increases anxiety. I can tell you that avoidance is easy, but not really worth it.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re avoiding. Are you avoiding something for your personal safety? Maybe keep doing that. Are you avoiding an uncomfortable conversation? Maybe you should just get it over with nice and quick.

And maybe you should stop taking advice from someone who calls herself Red Hot Mess (though please keep reading my blog)!

-Red Hot

Can you platonically send nudes, and other questions

Can you platonically send nudes? Asking for a friend.

I don’t know; I think that would make a great book title. If I ever write a book about being a hot mess, and the numerous unanswered questions I have, I think that will be the title.

Seriously though, are you ever just having a really great/confident/feeling yourself day? Or ever just have a day where you feel crappy, but look hot? Do you ever take sexy photos for yourself and then sigh because you have no one to share them with?

No. That’s just me? Alright.

Sometimes I think it’s such a shame that men can get away with sending unsolicited dick pics to assert their “dominance”, or make a woman uncomfortable, or just because they’re feeling good about their body, but women can’t do the same. I mean it would be pretty weird if I sent someone a picture of me lounging in a bra. It would also not have the desired “woah you look good today!” effect. I’m 99% sure it would just result in more unsolicited dick pics and a constant stream of “u up?” texts.

I used to think nudes were something that should never be sent ever because the internet is a scary, cruel place, and oh my god I am so terrified of anyone’s nudes leaking.

But as I grow older and surround myself with more feminists, I think there’s something really empowering about sexy photos and nudes. You’re claiming your body and saying “yes, this is how I look and I liked myself enough to take a picture and send it to you.” I just wish there was a way to take, post, and send sexy pictures without it being for the male gaze.

I want these pictures for myself. I want these pictures to satisfy my own ego and desires.

I want people to praise me for feeling confident, not reduce me to a sex object.

There is a balance. It’s out there somewhere. I follow some comedians, models, and average everyday women on Instagram who I think have that balance. They’re able to post pictures of themselves for themselves. Because they’re confident.

That. I want more of that.

-Red Hot

Embracing the Uncertainty

Do you ever get that feeling where you think you should be freaking out, but you’re weirdly calm? I don’t know if I’m just “going with the flow” for once in my life, or if I am so stressed and terrified that I am doing some serious repression that will take years to undo.

For the first time in my life, I don’t have a plan for the future.

And I’m doing okay.

Most of the time.

When you’re young, you have plans for the future; for what you want to be when you grow up, for the places you’ll travel, and the family you’ll have. You know that every September you’ll be back in school, with a few changes to class, teachers, and friends, but it’s still familiar.

When I was graduating high school, I had offers to multiple Universities. I had 3 possible routes that I could take. I had choice, but it was a plan.

When I graduated high school, I knew I would be attending the local University for a double major in English Literature and History (this has since changed to a major and minor respectively).

When I was done first year, I knew I was going to be working the night shift at a factory for the summer. Then I would go back to school in September.

After third year, I knew I wasn’t going back to that same factory. I didn’t have a solid plan for summer, but I knew I would get a job then head back to school in September.

I have one more day of classes left for my Undergrad. I have no summer job lined up. I have zero plans for April and May. I have yet to hear back from a graduate program I was ecstatic about. I tried to plan for a month of traveling Canada in July, but VIA Rail crushed that dream 12 hours after giving it to me.

I don’t know where I’ll be in September. There’s a chance that I won’t be going back to school, and that is both terrifying and exhilarating. I have so much freedom!

But good god, I don’t want this freedom yet!

I have so many more essays I want to write. I have so many more research ideas. I want to keep learning. I want to keep studying. I want to write and defend my thesis.

But it is legitimately out of my control right now.

I have no set plan.

I have ideas and hypothetical things I’d like to do depending on the job I can get for the summer, or if I don’t get into Grad School.

For once in my, life I can’t tell you where I see myself in five years. I’m scared, nervous, excited, anxious, a little stressed, and simultaneously both over and underwhelmed.

But I’m okay.

-Red Hot