Don’t take women for idiots. Written for myself as much as for everyone else.

As I progress through my twenties, I notice a growing trend in almost any conversation about future plans, whether in relation to career, travel, money — whatever it might be. Someone, almost always another woman, will feel the need to remind me subtly that my time frame for having children is slowly but surely getting shorter. As if this is news to me.

It’s not just me. This seems to happen with women in their twenties and thirties all the time. It’s not usually direct. Sometimes it’s a “You’re not thinking about kids yet?” If it’s a relative, it is often along the lines of “don’t you wait too long to give me grandkids/nieces and nephews”. Weirdly enough, sometimes it comes from a friend or a peer who doesn’t even seem to be thinking about children themselves. It’s a subtle comment that reveals that, in fact, they are. Worst of all, sometimes it comes from ourselves; we become the person reminding another woman in our lives that it will get harder to have children as she gets older.


How to liberate yourself from the achievement trap and try new things.

With more than one fifth of the world’s population in some kind of lockdown at the moment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are having to spend a lot more time at home.

For many people, the extra home time has provided a chance to spend more time on their hobbies. For others, it’s provided a realisation that they don’t have many hobbies. …


Learning to explain my biracial heritage at home and abroad.

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I am what many would describe as “ethnically ambiguous”.

I have a medium brown complexion. My features are not easily distinctive . My natural hair is dark and curly, but not afro.

My normal accent is very classically English, but I also speak both French and German.

I am, in fact, mixed race — of both Ugandan and English heritage.

All this means that I get asked the same question on a regular basis:

Where are you from?

And, in some circumstances, depending on the answer I give, this is then followed by a further question:

No, but, where are you really from?


Refuse to let sedentary living take its toll.

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Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

In the UK, 81% of office workers spend 4–9 hours sitting at their desks each day, equating to an average of 67 sedentary days per year. Almost half (45%) of the 1250 office workers in a study by the office equipment specialists Fellowes, said they sat at their desks for 6–9 hours daily, whilst 36% claimed they spend 4–6 hours seated.

In the US, the figures are no better. According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 Americans sit for more than 8 hours a day. …


From evenings in the bath to my daily commutes, a moment of meditation keeps me calm at every turn.

There are many ways to meditate, but for a beginner who hasn’t ever meditated regularly before, an app can make it a whole lot easier to get started with a meditation practice. I downloaded an app called Buddhify to help me do just that.*

Buddhify provides a set of guided meditations that can be done on the go, and absolutely anywhere. The tracks are tailored towards all kinds of situations and daily activities. …


As women, society teaches us not to take up space. Cycling on city roads teaches us the opposite.

As women, most of us were raised in such a way that encouraged us to take up as little space as possible. The most ‘ladylike’ way of sitting for women is to have our legs crossed, hands in our laps. We are more likely to dodge out of the way of others when walking down the street, more likely to apologise for squeezing into busy train carriages.

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Liverpool Street Station, London. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

The imbalance in claiming space goes beyond public transport etiquette and manspreading. Women are conditioned to seek to take up less space in a non-physical sense too. Research shows that women are more likely than men to underestimate their achievements and skills, and therefore less likely to put themselves forward or ask for opportunities. Plus the fact that a woman who is assertive and shares a lot of opinions will be called “bossy”, and perceived as less likable than a male who acts the same - not to mention the studies that show that a woman who speaks less than a man in a mixed-gender conversation, will be perceived to have spoken more. …


Sometimes your own company is the only company you need in order to grow.

For two months last autumn, I lived alone for the first time in my life. Just me in a little apartment. Granted, it was not permanent while I stayed in Munich taking an intensive German language course, but that was still a pretty big change from what I’ve been used to my whole life. I went from living with family to living in noisy student halls with shared bathrooms, to various flat/house shares with 2–4 flatmates, back to adult living with my parents, dispersed with various stints living with my boyfriend, to then, finally being alone.

And I loved it.

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Englischer Garten, Munich.

The first week was a little lonely, as it always is when getting used to a new place generally. I found myself putting Netflix shows on to play in the background just so it was less quiet. Three weeks later, I was still watching Netflix, but only an episode as I ate my meals at home, and always in German so I was constantly immersed in the beautiful language! It’s not binging if you’re learning, right? I think at first I was surprised by how quiet it was all the time. I quickly learnt to fill my empty days, evenings and any other moment with the sounds of things I enjoyed; be that music, radio, guided meditations or just the sound of my own thoughts and ideas. I also missed my boyfriend most in that first week, probably with hindsight because I was just feeling a bit lonely/overwhelmed. …


As a twenty-six year old I always read those articles that list the things you should/shouldn’t do in your twenties. And after reading them, I’m inevitably always left judging everything I’ve ever decided so far in this decade of my life and questioning whether I’m doing anything right. Whether I’m living as carefree as I should be, whether I’m working hard enough, whether I’m thinking too far ahead, or not planning enough for my future.

Those articles always say that during your twenties you should make the most of having fewer responsibilities, fewer physical limits, fewer emotional or familial constraints, to do all the things you’ll never get the chance to do again. The thing is, the people that write those articles are very often conveying their own regrets or wishes for their twenties, which are now past. They wish they had travelled more, or quit that job they hated, or furthered their education. I am all for listening to and learning from people with more life experience than myself. …


From better communication to appreciating your partner more, the benefits are endless — if only you can stomach the distance.

Even if your relationship isn’t ‘long distance’ all the time, most of us have to go through some periods of distance with our partners, whether it’s when one has to travel for work, or takes an extended trip to visit family, or gets a great opportunity in a different city. And for some people, me included, the relationship has rarely not involved some distance.

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Image by Manu Mangalassery

I’ve been with my partner for almost 4 years. During that time, we’ve each lived in 3 different countries. We met in Lyon, France, and had a blissful few months together before deciding to go the distance upon his return to Vienna, Austria. Since then our position has been: Lyon-Vienna, Vienna-Leeds, Luxembourg-London, Munich-Luxembourg and now finally London-Vienna. After four years of flights back and forth, a lot of airport reunions and a ton of Skype dates, I’m realising just how much I’ve learned from this relationship because of the distance that’s constantly separated us for anything from two weeks to ten weeks at a time. …


When I stopped striving for happiness, I realised I was happier being content.

My mother has this obsession with asking myself and my sister if we are happy. It started about 2 years ago, as a kind of passing phrase she would say at the end of a phone call or a Skype. But then she became obsessed with asking it every time she saw me, my sister, or our partners. She wouldn’t let it go. We’d go to a restaurant for a family meal and she’d ask it about twelve times before the main course was even finished.

What started as a relatively deep, thought-provoking question that forced me to think about my state of happiness, became a kind of careless comment, no more caring than when you say ‘hey, you alright?’ or ‘hey, how’s it going?’ …

About

Helen RC

Londoner. Lover of life. Eternal optimist. Writing about identity, self-growth, mindfulness, work, and relationships — always from the heart.

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