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Creating Momentum

Career, Culture, future, Life, summer

Hello there,

Due to my shockingly infrequent posts, I suspect you have not been avidly checking my blog to see if there’s a new piece up. However, I am making some changes to that and hope to use the summer to start to build momentum towards a personal project that has been a dream of mine for years.

The dream? Launching an online magazine you seriously are going to WANT to read. Like, you are going to NEED it in your life. The idea is still in its embryonic stages but I decided it was finally time to start letting it grow!

For the moment, I intend for this blog to be a launchpad. It starts by me becoming more disciplined and writing waaaaaaay more regularly, hopefully about things you want to read. Even if it’s only little updates like this. And the plan is not just to write things you want to read, but to write things you want to share, to talk about, and comment on.

So along the way, you might notice the blog layout changing or new additions here and there – I’m in the process of creating my own personal domain for example. Anyway, I’m going to do my best to document these things as they move forward – or don’t as the case may be – both here and through my own social media (find me on Instagram or Twitter). I hope my journey to launching this crazy idea might inspire you to jump right into your own adventure and run like crazy with that thing you’ve always wanted to do but never quite got round to.

So yeah, here we go!

Until next time…

My (anti)Brexit List or Why I’m Vote #RemaIN

Culture, emigration, future, Germany, Life, politics, voting

 

I didn’t really want my first post back after a few months hiatus to be about Politics, but the thing is; I’m not sure I can stay quiet. Not that I’ve exactly been silent about the upcoming UK referendum, but, as more and more people tell me why they are voting #Leave, I feel it’s time I share why I’ve voted to #Remain. I’m going to try and keep it short but I’m not making promises. I could write entire 4,000-word essays on this topic ten years ago.

So while I’m praying my little ballot paper has already made it’s way back to the electoral commission HQ place to wait to be counted, here’s some reasons why I put an “X” next to “Remain”.

    • As an ex-politics student who studied the EU in depth for a good few years, I’ll be the first to tell you the EU is flawed. There’s a plethora of institutions and, honestly, even when studying it, it’s not always exactly clear what they all do. In fact, I’m pretty sure I once joked with someone about how complicated it was and that they just seemed to keep adding countries to avoid anyone ever really getting it.ANYWAY, I say all that to say, yes, the EU has it flaws. Yes, it needs reform. Yes, it’s needed reform for a while and yes, it’s been slow at that reforming process, but what do you expect? There’s a bunch of different countries, agendas and beliefs all bundled together, it’s going to take a while. But I still think we have a better chance to see change happen by staying IN it and being part of the change. The UK isn’t the only nation that wants to change the EU (whatever the media might tell you). As a Brit in Germany, it certainly seems like the Germans want to change it too and they’re watching our referendum with interest.

 

    • I’m a Brit living and working in another EU country and frankly, I massively appreciate the freedom of movement/immigration/emigration thing we have going on because of our EU membership. No one has yet, in my opinion, presented a viable option of how things would/could change if we left, so why would I vote to change things that could potentially make my life more difficult and less rich? Also, from living in Germany for four years and chatting with Germans, I have discovered the Germans have pretty much the same fears and concerns about EU immigration/immigration in general as the UK, so any argument based on anti-immigration won’t change my mind. The tactics employed by the #Leave Campaign concerning EU immigration is just terrifying, and that’s not the England I love.

 

    • I have a lot of friends who are EU nationals living and working in the UK right now and paying into the British economy. They have no voice to say what happens to the taxes they are paying. But my EU national friends in the UK can vote for MEPs to represent them either in the UK OR in their home country (but only in ONE of those places) and that, even if there’s not much achieved by MEPs right now, is a small step in a democratic direction.

 

    • On the topic of democracy/democratic deficit (I once wrote a lengthy essay years ago about that by the way), I know the EU gets a lot of flack for not being truly democratic but think about this:
      The EU has evolved to become what it is today, but because it’s politics and it’s multi-national and it’s bureaucratic, it hasn’t necessarily developed in the most streamlined of ways, meaning democracy isn’t necessarily there in the ideal way it should be. It’s perhaps a bit more diplomatic than democratic to be honest. But, like I said, it does give all EU nationals wherever they live in the EU (even if they’re not living in their home nation and can’t vote in state elections in their resident EU nation), the right to vote for someone who will (hopefully) represent their views at some level. I know it’s not the most ideal situation but speaking as someone who’s well on their way to loosing the right to vote in their home nation (unless I move back there), being able to have a say in the EU no matter where I live in it, is actually pretty awesome.Also, if you’re going to complain about the lack of elected representatives making decisions for us, have you looked at how the UK elects Members of Parliament recently? Our First Past The Post system means that you don’t need to win more than 50% of the vote to get a seat. You just need to win enough votes to be the party with the highest number of single votes in your area. Basically, if you manage to choose the biggest piece of pie, you win. At least the EU uses Proportional Representation which means pretty much everyone’s political views are represented no matter how much pie they got.

 

    • I don’t believe either side has been responsible in communicating the true predicted impact of what leaving or staying will really have. It’s been a lot of scaremongering, misleadingly represented facts and figures, and an absolute avalanche of opinions spun with emotions. In this situation I favour one of two options. Sticking with what I know (ie remaining in the EU) or making the government do what we elected them to do which is make decisions on our behalf, representative of our beliefs. But then, I don’t really trust the current UK
      government
      (see: Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt) so I’d rather vote to #Remain

 

  • And finally, I was going to write something here about the economics of it but if I’m honest, I don’t understand enough about the economic implications of staying or leaving to offer that as a reason why I decided to vote #Remain. What I do know is that, what I have read so far and tried to understand, to me, just doesn’t actually add up. Kinda in the same way that EU nationals can’t all be taking UK jobs and stealing all our benefits.

 

OK. I’m done now. Maybe you understand where I’m coming from. Maybe I’ve inspired you to go find out for yourself and make your own decision. And so, with that all said, however you decide to vote on Thursday, please do three things.

      1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK (to get you started, spend 20 minutes listening to this uni professor explain some things about the EU.)
      2. GO VOTE
      3. REMEMBER the history Europe had before the EU was born. The EU rose out of decades of unrest, where hate had bred hate, where extreme-wing politics (both left and right) had prevailed, and where people and nations had been torn apart. The EU wasn’t a first attempt at unification – there were previous iterations that had failed – but it has been the one that has survived the longest. To me, that indicates that there is something good in it. We need to work together to find that and improve the rest of it.

 

 

Stop Saying We Need To Address The Gender Imbalance

Career, future, Life, politics

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen posts like this one on HuffPost and J Law’s rant on Lenny talking about women in our society, whether we’re represented at the top and what we’re being paid compared to our male colleagues.

Everyone’s clamouring that we’re not doing enough and there should be more women in high/authoritive positions, and I don’t disagree, I really don’t, there should be more women in top roles. However, I feel like half the reason that it “hasn’t happened yet”, as so many people bemoan, is because this only started being a real REAL focus in the last 5 -10 years. Probably closer to 5. It hasn’t happened yet because it takes TIME TO WORK to those positions. Merkel is 60 or so right? Most leading politicians are in their 40s or 50s, that means they were born in the 1960s or 1970s when the roles and views of women were starting to change but only in certain circles. These people were born into a world with a very different mindset about the role of women compared to the mindset of the world today on this same issue.

We live in an age where people expect to get things instantly, and we don’t see why we can’t have gender equality instantly. But changing mindsets isn’t an instantaneous thing. Changing mindsets is a long process. It takes decades. Centuries even. How many years did women fight for the right to vote in the way we so often take for granted now? It wasn’t an overnight movement. It took years of protesting and petitioning. It took people, mostly women, making huge, bold moves in the hope something might change this time. Votes for women wasn’t something that was a success within a few years.

To take the UK as an example, modern campaigning for women’s right to vote started in the 19th century. The movement that would become the Suffragettes was born in 1903 but it took 15 years and a World War before Britain let women have the vote. And that was on the condition they owned property and were over 30. It was another 10 years after that before British women could enjoy the same voting rights as British men. Some countries, like Finland, were decades ahead. Others took much longer to adopt gender equal voting rights.

Will It Ever Happen?

As a generation who expects to get things straight away, if something doesn’t happen in the next five minutes we wonder if it could ever happen. We forget that sometimes things don’t happen in the blink of an eye but more in the gestation of an embryo. If something doesn’t happen now, our generation questions whether it’s going to happen at all. This morning’s newspaper is the lunchtime chip paper before it makes it out of the newsstand. Only, no one eats chips in paper anymore. A better analogy would be this morning’s newspaper is lining the cat litter tray by noon.

So yes, we need more high profile powerful women. Women like Hiliary Clinton and Angela Merkel. Women like Tina Fey and Jennifer Lawrence who call companies out on the gender pay gap. But remember 20something and 30something feminist supporters (women AND men) – we have grown up listening to people telling girls we can be whoever we want. We can be a president, we can be a CEO, we can earn the same wage as our male counterparts. But yet, as Always so wonderfully pointed out last year in their ad campaign, “like a girl” is a phrase we’ve all grown up with being used as an insult too.

I don’t want to gain a “top position” in a company tomorrow because I am a woman. I want to gain that top position because I worked my way there. Sure, maybe I still have to work harder and longer to get there than my male counterparts. Sure, maybe I still have to face more prejudices on the way there. But I don’t have to work as long or as hard or face as many of the challenges as a woman in my position would have done 40 years ago. That’s progress.

The Gender Imbalance

Stop saying we need to start addressing the gender imbalance. We don’t need to start addressing the gender imbalance because we already ARE addressing the gender imbalance. Things like this take time for it to show out at the very top. It’s not ideal, but that how things go. When my generation are sat there, drawing our pensions, and the gender imbalance/gender pay gap is still like today’s, THEN we have a problem. But I hope and believe, 30 years from now, the girls born today will be confident in their roles and goals and be on the kind of equal standing with their male colleagues that is our dream ideal.

Sure, make a point. Photoshop the men out of photos of political leaders, business leaders and other male dominated professions but stop whining that we’re not doing enough, fast enough. What we’re not doing enough, fast enough right now is making sure people have basic provisions to live. That people in war torn countries can seek refuge in other nations.

And to get back to Feminism or whatever we call this, we’re not doing enough to change attitudes in places where women are still second class citizens. There are countries in the world where women don’t have the same rights to life and freedom as you and I. Where they can’t drive a car, or wear what they like, or choose their husbands or enjoy the same access to education. It’s all very well us Western Europeans or Americans or Australians crying that there aren’t enough women at the top. What about the places where there aren’t enough women at the middle, or even at the bottom? How about we also shout about that too? How about we stand together to raise future generations ACROSS THE GLOBE who value women AND men and embrace the different things men and women can bring to the table precisely because they have different genders?

We don’t need to address the gender imbalance. Rather we need to keep working to change gender mindsets.

Life In Germany: Challenging perspectives

Culture, emigration, Frankfurt, future

The longer I live in Germany the more I discover how ingrained my British culture is. I guess, though, it’s hardly surprising considering ALL my years of life thus far have been predominantly spent in England.

I’ve lived in Germany for almost two months and that time has opened my eyes to how tied my thoughts and perceptions of the world are to a British sensibility.

Before I moved I thought I was quite accepting of other cultures. In school and at university, despite living in predominantly white middle class areas, I’d had friends with all kinds of national backgrounds; Nigerian, Singaporean, Chinese, French, German, Indian, Greek, American, Welsh, the list goes on. At the time I thought I was embracing my friends’ cultures. But now I live in a foreign country I realise what I accepted was an Anglicised adaptation of their culture. I had an expectation that if you moved to my country you should speak my language and do things the way my country and culture dictated. However, somewhat naively, I had not considered that this notion should also work in reverse.

Now, to use an English idiom, the shoe is on the other foot. Let me give you an example, I would not expect someone in England to approach me and ask if I spoke German, Spanish, Urdu but yet I am fully prepared to ask someone in Germany if they speak English. This is the resounding impact of my British upbringing. Having realised this, I have a completely different perspective on the people I meet in my day to day who look at me slightly vexed and say “Nein” as I utter “Sprechen Sie Englisch bitte?” These people are pertaining the same expectation I have in my country of origin. Simply, “if you live in my country you should try to speak my language”.

And so while I will not renounced my Britishness, I am prepared to be more Germanic in my day to day – as I’ve already expressed in this blog, I am trying to master the German language as my own.

I draw the line at adopting the German’s version of tea though.

Please send supplies of Tetley and Yorkshire!

2012: Time For A Change

destiny, emigration, Frankfurt, future, Germany, Hope City Church

Over the last few months this blog has somewhat been lacking posts and for this I apologise. It is not because I have become slack at blogging. Far from it in fact. For the last few months I have found myself writing, editing and running blogs for others (most notably Anya 17 and Hope City Frankfurt). Only thing is, between that and holding down two part time jobs, it left me with no time to write in my own blog (although with probably only six readers in the whole wide interweb I doubt my ramblings have been missed too much!). But now it’s 2012, it’s time to pick up the old keyboard and screen and start over. 


I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions (mainly because I am abysmal at sticking to them), but for me, 2012 presents a long-awaited beginning which should at least be documented in the semi-permanence of the internet [purely for it to be lost in cyberspace and then one day rediscovered by some unsuspecting hacker who probably hasn’t even been born yet, you understand].

The dawning of 2012 marks the final steps towards probably one of the biggest and slightly more mental decisions of my life. In a matter of months, nay weeks (job, flights and accommodation permitting), my pale little English face will soon be finding home amongst throngs of German ones as I set up life in Frankfurt.

Yes, at 26 bizarre and wonderful years of age, I am going to leave my mother country and attempt to live in a land where to be honest, I can hardly order a coffee and my ability of asking for cake with it involves saying “Kanne Ich……….. [long pause as I point widely]…die kucken?” (Apologies to anyone who can actually speak German and is aware of the shocking language assault I just performed, please bare with me.) 

It might seem like a mad, hair-brained idea (my mother is less convinced it is now following several lengthy discussions about it over the last ten months) but I’m a believer of destiny and calling and I’m as sure as I can be that moving to Germany is part of an incredible plan for my life. Sure, if you’d told me three years ago that this is what 2012 would look like, I’d have probably thought you were, well, not altogether there, shall we say?

It certainly wasn’t part of my original life plan dreamt up years ago when, aged about six, a teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. In that version of my life, I was probably the secret sixth member of the Famous Five, grew up on the dark Heathcliffian moors and could talk to any book character I pleased. Or I was a secret mutant human, part of Xavier’s school for the gifted, best friends with Bill and Ted and able to ride any horse I wanted. I probably also told this teacher I wanted to be a jockey or a vet or a Thunderbird or something. I definitely never imagined living in another country (living in fiction was enough, obviously). Not until I was 13 at least and began to harbour desires of being a journalist in the Big Apple a la Sex In The City (although I had no idea who the heck Carrie Bradshaw was) did my life plan ever consider a bit of healthy emigration.

But now, now I’m actually alive in 2012 and it isn’t some ethereal, slightly futuristic number given to a year in the distant future, now, I’ve come to realise that my life plan doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I live in the destiny I’ve been called for. I cannot wait to live in Germany no matter how daunting it may seem. There’s only one go at this life so I might as well give it my best shot and take the bull by the horns. 

You’re welcome to join me for the ride.