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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Love: renegotiated

What a celebration of women we had last week. International Women's Day followed by Mother's Day on Sunday saw the country reminiscing the resilience of movements such as The Suffragettes and, the heroes more commonly known to us, our Mums. 
In true diva style, I found no better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than by throwing some shapes to ABBA’s greatest hits in one of Newcastle’s clubs. I even dragged my German flatmate along - she had just received her amazing Master’s degree result - ensuring her hard work was saluted too. Even in the dark, sweaty confines of the club, I felt empowered by the sass heads surrounding me (and perhaps also by my popping pink eyeshadow). 
Just as I was being twirled around to the stirring melodies of Voulez-vous, someone taps me on my back. “Holly,” his drunk eyes await my reaction. 
A few gin and tonics in myself, my polite filter seemed to have evaporated. “God, I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” even as the words leave my lips I'm shocked at the tone of my voice.
But let me explain. In front of me stands a boy who turned nasty after a couple of dates last year whilst simultaneously knocking my confidence for a while (gracias, seƱor). This is your stereotypical rugby lad; puts on a pretence that he’s hard but deep down drowns out his emotions by degrading others. I don’t even need to tell you about this species - if you’re at Uni they occupy every street corner and entice girls with their good looks (despite their sexist shanter). 
He looks momentarily offended but then initiates textbook complimenting (yuk) and then the best bit, he begins grovelling. Normally I let things like this slide to avoid conflict but for one, he interrupted arguably ABBA’s best banger and for another, I’m a strong independent woman - so I take this as an opportunity to let him know that, yes, he was out of line. When “c’mon, we were such a good team” slurs out of his mouth, I practically scoff in his face before rotating back to my group of gals. Sorry ABBA, but I think I’ll reject this man after midnight. 
This small yet satisfying success seems incomparable to the stories of my friends who continue to slay away in their own way. Friends who have for years worked their way up in a profession, friends who are learning new languages abroad and friends who are studying hard to pave their way in the world. What an inspiration. It got me thinking how we’re too often reliant on others recognition for our own gratification. We’re young and thriving on successes unparalleled to love.
Last week I FaceTimed my flatmate studying in Australia who humbly reeled off her travel triumphs. She tells me, yea there are some fit Aussies, but the majority still don’t celebrate her for her. She’s instead focusing on choosing which part to take in the two plays she’s been offered.
As if we even needed reminding, Mother’s Day commemorated our everyday champions. To the mothers who have raised us, to the mothers and children who have lost one another and to those yearning to be mothers - every one of them holds a special place in our hearts. I’m lucky enough to have a best friend, best critic (she always gets a preview of my blogs) and best Mum all combined into one. 
Sometimes we're so busy getting old that we forget our parents are getting old too. We forget to thank them for teaching us qualities that the education system never could - how to hold your knife and fork, how to hold your head high, how to hold on to your passions. We forget to thank them for pushing us into that insanely embarrassing twenty seconds of courage, where something great came of it. We forget to thank them for teaching us no matter how much the truth hurts, it's better than being lied to. We forget to thank them for encouraging us to travel, to write that book, to finding a house where the light is always right. We forget to thank them for turning up at our bedroom door, with a cup of tea in hand, in an effort to say 'I love you'.

In a world which questions if the power of love will ever overcome the love for power, I encourage you to celebrate the kind of love that we take for granted. Stop seeking out someone to fill a void, and instead appreciate the people who make us what we are.