“Well you don’t need to lose weight anyway”

I’m not sure why this is a socially acceptable thing to say to people, but apparently it is.

I hear it often enough.  I don’t try to provoke it – I never bring up weight in conversation – yet it happens regularly.  And I don’t know how to respond.  And it’s awkward.

No, I don’t need to lose weight.  Really, I could do without losing any, if I want to stay healthy.  And I have no intention of losing weight.  Why so many people assume this is a thing I would be concerned with causes me mild confusion, to be honest.

It’s awkward for three main reasons:  Firstly, the person who says it, seemingly is concerned with weight and weight loss.  I don’t know what to say to them.  I have no desire to discuss their weight or my own.  It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people.  Secondly, it happens a lot if I make reference to that one bit of exercise I may have done that week or month.  I arrive into work all red, and explain that it’s because I’ve cycled in, so people get that I don’t normally sweat that much, and I’m told I don’t need to lose weight.  I wasn’t trying to lose weight.  I was mostly just trying to get to work, ’cause I didn’t have a car, and didn’t feel like walking 10k to get there.  That and being healthy and getting fresh air is always nice.  But now I almost feel bad for exercising.  Thirdly, it brings up everyone’s weight issues.  The person who says it may be thinking about their own efforts to lose or gain weight.  I’m reminded about the weight I lost over the past year, from stress and the like.  I don’t need to be reminded about stress and the like.  I’m trying to forget about stress and the like.

People often compliment others on their weight loss too.  Not to make a massive generalisation, but a lot of the time, all of this is done by women.  The problem here is, you have no idea why they lost that weight.  They may have exercised a lot, and eaten really well, and they might be grateful for recognition of their success at becoming healthier, yeah.  (Though I still think it’s risky because it might be promoting the idea that they should be a certain weight, in order to look good, which is not the intention.)  Or they might have had a fairly tough time recently, causing them to lose their appetite.  Anxiety, depression, stress and much more can cause rapid weight loss.  If you want to compliment someone on how much they’re struggling, then sure, compliment them on their weight loss, and how great that look now that they’re wasting away.  Otherwise, maybe don’t.

I’m not intentionally skinny.  I haven’t been dieting at all, or even exercising half as much as I should.  I just have a light build.  And I’m unusually tall, for a girl.  So my weight, which isn’t actually that low, is spread out over a decent amount of space.  But people have felt the need to comment on this since I was little.

To me, it just seems roughly as ridiculous as casually bringing up the fact that someone is morbidly obese.  Rude, awkward, and generally unpleasant.  When are we going to stop placing all this emphasis on being skinny?  Being skinny should not be a goal.  Being healthy should be.  If you are skinny, you’ll probably spend a lot of time feeling a tad awkward or guilty about it, because people comment on it all the time.  Today I was told “you’ve a great figure”, which was lovely, but I don’t know how to respond, like do I just say “haha yeah genetics are great” or do I do the classic Irish thing and claim to be obese (spoiler: no).  Other times people just say “oh my god you’re so skinny”, to which I don’t really know what to say, short of just apologising (I haven’t tried this method), and if it’s a very unfortunate day, this pretty much equally skinny person will refer to themselves as fat.  I don’t have time to spend my days telling women they’re not fat.  They have access to mirrors and weighing scales, they should be able to figure out that they’re not fat for themselves.  Not that they’d believe me anyway, because disagreeing with someone saying they’re fat is generally just sort of polite, unless you’re their doctor or something.

This may not be the greatest problem to face the world of 2016, but it is annoying.  It’s usually unintentional, but it promotes a negative idea about how people should look, and for that reason, it makes me uncomfortable.  You decide if you need to lose weight.  Aside from your GP, I wouldn’t really let anyone else weigh in too much on that decision.

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Blog Trouble

The main problem I encounter with blogging, apart from writing coherently in English and posting consistently, is that most of my ideas come to me in the latter part of the day.  Or, more accurately, at nighttime.  Right now, I have several ideas floating around, but it’s almost 4am, therefore I’m too tired to write them, and well, should really go to sleep rather than attempting to create new blog posts, which I no doubt would end up having to edit drastically, because of typos, errors and just a lack of sense being made due to the time at which they were written.

That really is all for this post seeing as it is late and I should sleep even if I have no classes tomorrow.

Good night!

Register to vote by Tuesday to be eligible to vote in the Irish marriage referendum

Young’uns of Ireland, if you still haven’t registered to vote and want to take part in the marriage referendum next year, the registration forms have to be in by Tuesday (November 25th, 2014).

Info on how to register.

Haven’t a notion if you’re registered or not?  Check the registrer.

Don’t think you’ll be in the country to vote?  You might be eligible for a postal vote.  (Works for erasmus, work placements and the likes if organised in advance.)

(Same goes for if the referendum is on a weekday and you’re miles away from your voting station because of college.)

Hon voting, yurt.

Coin Flip

On Sunday, my inability to make a decision finally resulted in me choosing to flip a coin, to help me figure out what I wanted.  And I’d been told that when you flip a coin to make a serious decision, it results in you generally realising what you want before the coin even lands.  Maybe that knowledge messed it up for me because in the time the coin was flipped into the air, spun and caught, all my mind was telling me was “I don’t know”.  I actually couldn’t decide.  The coin failed.  I failed.

Except I think I just had a delayed reaction to the coin flip, or it it didn’t have the same effect because I was so aware that it was going to make me decide so I panicked, was sort of scared, and couldn’t think.  Even a minute later, when I was told the coin had said ‘heads’ – which we had chosen to mean I would stay in France for the year – my reaction was disappointment.  I knew that it would have been the same if they had said it was tails, but from that moment on, and taking into account some advice from college friends who’d all already made their decisions long ago and without much difficulty, I started seriously thinking about leaving my erasmus at just one semester, instead of extending it to two.

I think I made my mind up on the day, within  an hour of  the coin flip, but I’ve been pondering it since to make sure I’m doing the right thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love to stay for the year, or come back to this town to live here for a while, but I think going home is the right decision.  If I stayed it would probably make college much more difficult, between various modules, and most of all, the equivalent of a thesis that we have to write at some point in the next year and a half.  Seeing as it’s half of third year and all of fourth year we’re talking about here, I’d rather not make things any more complicated than they should be.

I’ve had a massive weight lifted off my shoulders after that anyway.  Fully recommend making serious decisions at least a few days before the deadline (and no later) to everyone.  Except that’s generally what people do, isn’t it?  Yeah…  Well, I tried.  This is a much better result than my last few major academic decisions, which were made either on deadline day, or when it was too late.  Great day for the parish.

An unfortunate and ironic presentation title choice

On Monday, I had my first French class here (excluding a couple of translation classes).  We had to get into groups of three, and pick from the list given what we would do our presentations on.  So naturally enough, I found a pair to work with, asked what they were thinking of doing the presentation on, and went with that, because it happened to be a really interesting topic for me too, and I hadn’t really read the list too carefully.  The subject we chose, was something along the lines of – “peut-on vivre sans un smartphone ?”, or basically, “can you live without a smartphone?”.

Now, unlike most people I know, I didn’t have a smartphone at the time, had never had one, and still don’t, which I suppose gives a different angle to the presentation.  But I have an iPod Touch, so the only negative difference between the combination of that and my beloved Nokia, and an actual smartphone, is that you can’t get Whatsapp on an iPod (Viber, Snapchat, Skype, Facebook Messenger and every other iOS app I’ve ever wanted all work on them, so there isn’t much need for Whatsapp, I suppose), and you can’t pay to use internet on them.  For me, that wasn’t a problem because ain’t nobody got time fo’ that, and I usually have access to wifi, or contact people by call, text, or just later on if I don’t.  No big deal.  I consider my iPod to basically be 95% – a smartphone.

Except I don’t have an iPod.  I lost it the day after we chose our presentation titles…

“O my prophetic soul!”

Hamlet quotes are always relevant.  Deal with it.

Anyway, life without anything close to a smartphone should be fun.  Added to that, this lack of English-speaking thing I’ve started.  And, speaking of which (seeing as one rule for the no English speaking was that I could do so on Skype and the likes) – my one-and-a-half-year-old laptop now refuses to use a lot of apps (it has apps, because it’s silly and has Windows 8), including Skype.  Making calls with any kind of program, from what I can see, doesn’t really work either.  At least, I got the call function of Facebook’s video caller to work recently, but not audio on anything else.  I haven’t tried every possible means of calling or video-calling yet, but I’ve tried a few with no success, and I don’t expect others to be any more successful, but fingers crossed the audio on Facebook will work so I can actually talk to people.

There’s some extra irony at play here I think.  First, I quit speaking English, except for on Skype, and in a few other situations, then I discover that Skype doesn’t work on my laptop.  Then, I decide to do a presentation on if it’s possible to live without a smartphone, and lose what was basically a smartphone for me.

It’s a bit strange that both of those things happened within the space of two days, but hopefully that’s the end of this sorcery…

A Musical Milestone

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to sing a song on my own in front of people, for the first time ever.  Today, I did that, but without consequently forgetting the chords I was playing as well as not blanking when it came to the lyrics.

So that’s not really a big deal – it’s something a lot of people can probably manage very easily.  But it’s not something I’d ever been able to do before so I guess it’s kind of a bucket list moment for me.

Which reminds me, I need to add some stuff to my bucket list, and get crossing more things off…  It’s been a while since I’ve put anything new on it.  Most likely starting with trying some new French food.

Why I’m terrified about going on erasmus

Yes, that does say “terrified”, you’re not hallucinating…

But erasmus sounds amazing? Yes, yes it does.

And didn’t you just spend five months living in Argentina? Yes, yes I did.

So then what’s the problem?!

My problem is, that the whole point of me going on erasmus, is to learn a language. Yes, that’s the point of most people going on erasmus, unless they study abroad, but in a place where their native language is also the local one. However, most people who speak English don’t learn as much on erasmus, well, as I’d like to. I’m not saying that they’re stupid and I’m aiming to learn much more because I’m clearly better than them. I’m not. They probably don’t want to learn a language as much as I do. Or, want to put their erasmus to what they think is better use – maybe by getting to know people from all over the world, and just enjoying the whole experience. And I don’t disagree with them at all. Both of those are hugely important to me too. You can’t just go on erasmus and be stuck in dictionaries and grammar books for the whole time you’re there. I have no intention of that. I just want to improve my French.

Unfortunately though, English is quite a universal language especially when it comes to Europe, and most students who do erasmus speak some English – therefore (and because many of them are native English speakers) it automatically becomes the language they speak with each other, rather than the local language, which they obviously have to know, or at least learn at some point, too. Often, the local language is their third language, and English their second, so it’s actually easier for them to speak English.

This is fantastic if your first language is not English – you can do one erasmus and improve hugely at two languages.

As a native English speaker though, I’m filled with dread at the thought of having to try so hard to avoid speaking English with others in France, if it will even be possible – I won’t be able to completely escape it, but I will speak it as little as possible. Basically, I’m setting myself up to have no friends on erasmus, because I will run a mile from all the lovely erasmus students who (quite harmlessly) dare to speak to me in English, and even the French ones who do the same. Erasmus students don’t generally mix that much with other students and it’s because of this that I’m scared about going on erasmus. I’d rather not have no friends, but I don’t want to only make friends with people who solely speak English to me. In France, I mean. Obviously at home that’s fairly tolerable.