SHOULD WE BE MAKING PLANS? by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

rancho relaxo

I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m almost constantly feeling the pressure of a plan. A plan to catch up with a friend, a plan to service my car, a plan to finally catch my pet mouse, Enzo, who has escaped his cage and been living like he’s on spring break in the apartment for three weeks (we now call him Enzo Houdini) … in fact, I can’t remember the last weekend I’ve had where I didn’t have something planned. It’s exhausting. Isn’t the point of a weekend – in some senses – to pull us back from the daily rigour of our lives so we can wind down and just Be again? Isn’t it important to have some time that has no constraints so we can, for once, feel semi-free?

This got me thinking, what if we let the plans go? Could we benefit more if we released things from the grip of our daily schedule? Would more opportunity crop up if we let things flow their natural course? How would that affect our relationships?

Basically, are things better left unplanned?

~

I should first make the point that I recognise how privileged this conversation is. Woe is me. I have to catch up with my mate on the weekend. In fact, it’s so ghastly we might even have to go to a beautiful Italian byo restaurant together to do the catching up. We’ll have to eat spaghetti vongole and drink oodles of wine amid lovely conversation. Eughk.

But despite this conversation’s absurdity, plans still have a very real effect on the rhythm of our lives. While having a rhythm is definitely necessary for a fulfilling life, it’s helpful to think about what kind of rhythm is sustainable for and nourishing of the varied facets of our beautiful and abundant existence.

We wade our way through our diaries every day. They remind us to meet that person, go to that Pilates class, not forget the dentist, take up Italian lessons, get those test results and contact that old friend … we are constantly submerged in these thoughts and the wells of intention they spring from: intentions about what we aim for in our careers, how we hope to love those we are in relationship with and above all, who we wish to become.

So if making plans and following them through is about fulfilling our deep-seated intentions, how can we figure out if we’re going the right way about it?

Let’s consider, for a jiffy, what life would be like with no plans:

I spose the article may as well end here, seeing as I wouldn’t put aside any time to write it.

...

Okay. So that was a dead end. But what if I wrote it simply when I was inspired to, rather than putting aside time to try to nut-it-out?

This would be effective in the end – I’d get the job done – but the timeframe mightn’t work for the publication I’m writing for. They’ve got their own set of sh*t to do and bunch of great things to get out in the world. Plus they’ve got you guys wanting to munch all their epic content up. Munch munch munch …

So if one person decided to give up making plans, while it may be a functional way of living in a ‘state of nature’ (i.e. a world existing without any human society), we’re social creatures and that means we have to cooperate in tandem with other people and the established rhythms of their lives, whilst also wrangling our own.

Aside from that, plans are a significant part of what helps our daily momentum and energy form and keep ticking. If I didn’t have Pilates planned in the morning, I’d sleep in. No question. Instead, I’ve made that plan so I stick to it. The result of that plan then energises me for the rest of the day, so I can better fulfill the other things I need to do.

So we need plans. They’re important. But the crux of this conversation is about how we decide to balance our plans with our time to just Be, and how we can learn what type of balance is going to best help us head for those career, relationship and self-shaping intentions we want to achieve.

The truth of this is that it’s different for each of us. I know, however, when I feel overwhelmed by plans. I know when the thought of the weekend feels slightly daunting, rather than the relaxing time I probably need. I know when I begin to operate on a more uptight and anxious rhythm than I would like, because I’m not taking enough time to be kind to myself.

But I still cock it up all the time.

I’m often tired and overextended and I often wish I had a week just to sleep and swim and clean and read and lie under trees. But then when I have the time for that, I make a plan and the imbalance continues to build. This is partly because I have an addictive personality and a penchant for drinking wine with mates, and partly because I’m terrified of disappointing people, but it’s also because there are so many goddamn good people to hang out with and fun things to do (and nice wine to drink too). But I’m finally learning to say no and cancel a plan when I need to.

That’s what it’s about, really, learning. An incremental understanding of what our hopes and aims are, what our limits are, what our habits are and what we need to do to reinstate some balance.

Our relationships, if they’re true ones, will respect that. Our opportunities, if they’re the right ones for us, will align with that.

So. Would things be better left unplanned? Not really, but sometimes we need to cancel plans and be comfortable with that. Sometimes we even need to plan to have no plans and stick to that. At the end o’tha day, we need to gently learn how to listen to ourselves. We need to listen so we can figure out what our own fertile and nourishing rhythm might be.

I know what I’m doing this weekend — absolutely-bloody-nothing.







ALL OR NOTHING – REALLY? by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

 One panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch

One panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch

It’s all or nothing people! Go hard or go home! Give it your all or don’t bother showing up! Blood sweat ‘n’ tears! More energy! More exclamation points!

We’ve heard and felt spurs of support and opinions like these countless times. We’ve had them drilled into us through childhood stories, coaches in sports teams, the media, self-help books, films … and sometimes through those closest to us when we seek advice from them, or even when we don’t. But what does the ‘all or nothing’ mentality actually look like and is it a beneficial stance to position ourselves in?

I think not.

We live in a consuming and abundant world, a world of choice and chance, a world of progress – whatever that means – a world of technology and innovation … a world full to its brim and boiling over. So how can we simmer merrily rather than boil over ourselves, and how can we maintain balance and ensure we’re living flourishing, productive and intuitive lives that are in line with who we are? Does the answer lie in giving it our all?

So many stories woven into the culture of our time launch us onto the treadmill to fabled Successdom. We must try, as hard as we damned well can, to be wealthy, beautiful and renowned. We need to do everything in our power to aim for that: we must yearn, reach, launch and pursue blindly to succeed.

As a result, I’ve found myself wanting. Wanting to be more beautiful, more privileged, more fashionable, more elegant (or elegant at all, wasn’t gifted with that ole’ stick at birth that’s for sure), more charitable, more caring, more astute, sexier, fitter, funnier in social situations, more confident, calmer, more courageous and more successful overall …

It doesn’t stop and it’s exhausting. I’m sick of wanting. I’m sick of feeling like I need more and need to be more ... and by sick I mean genuinely sick. This mentality has a profound effect on the way I see myself and the way I conduct myself in the world. It has an effect on my self-worth, my confidence, my anxiety and my relationships.

Our competitive culture is causing this sickness, one in which someone’s bikini post makes me feel second (or one millionth) best. It’s not the owner of the bikini post’s fault, it’s the social framework surrounding it that’s damaging. It’s the disposition and inclination for me to rate myself against that person, even if I’m happy for them. It’s the temptation to sometimes be scornful as a result. It’s the notion that we should all be spearheading towards the same end: the shit-hot abs in a Marysia bikini with a negroni in hand off the coast of Capri on holiday from our already-very-successful-in-our-twenties job even though we have family money so don’t really need the job anyway end. The end that means we’re sitting at an acceptable (and hopefully admired) place somewhere near the top of the pile of human wankery. You know the one – that end, that culture, that sickness.

Sure, healthy doses of determination, commitment to goals, focus and perseverance are important traits, and laziness is no virtue, but there’s a difference between working hard and always feeling that how hard you’re working isn’t enough. Life isn’t a hunt for mahi-mahi, it’s not a race to a finish line, or indeed a sport at all, and to approach it as such is only damaging to our potential to thrive in the fullest way we are able.

Why pursue beauty over brains, or success over sleep? Why wreck ourselves trying to succeed, while thinking the same idea of success applies to all?

We live in a world of myriad and changing perceptions to match the myriad and changing beings living within it. Part of the wonder of being human is our ability to have such complex conscious lives, so why close ourselves to that by seeking one end at the likely expense of others?

Life – in reality – is not segmented into halves, or extremes. We are not one thing or the other, we are a fluid amalgamation and wonderful bundle of our experiences, feelings, physicality, memories, learnings, opinions, skills, failings, and generosities … we are a moving mosaic, in which the idea of ‘all or nothing’ doesn’t fit.

‘All or nothing’ denies our humanness. It ignores the elaborate tangle and continual process of untangling and re-knotting that is our lives. It ignores our real need for its opposite: balance.

I might sound like a meditation expert from that Gaia channel that keeps trying to catfish me on Instagram, but it’s true. The ‘all-or-nothing’ approach doesn’t do justice to the things that need our attention.

At any one moment, we are in the act of balancing. Right now I’m typing and thinking and trying to not let my back get too sore in this seat, I’m staying hydrated, I’m recognising the time passing and how long I put aside to write this. I’m aware that I’m a little hungry but that my peckishness is likely due to my omelette and morning coffee wearing off and my body wanting some other form of stimulation. I’m aware that I need to call dad today, to see if he made it to Western Australia okay. I also need to post that thing I just sold on ebay. Crap! Now I’ve lost focus and need to get back to my writing … bringing the balance lever up again on that one so I can remain productive. On a grander scale, I’m balancing the intricacies of my work and relationships, my health and the health of those close to me. I’m dealing with the difficult experiences I’ve been through in the past, that still have scars healing. I’m wondering how to approach things better in the future.

Sometimes, one of those aspects needs more attention than the rest, but I’d topple over if I let the others simply fall away in the pursuit of a single end.

The various things we are all balancing in our lives are similar, but the minutiae of them are always different: our relationships are different; our perceptions of the world and of life are different; our needs are different. So to have a societal framework that pushes us all through the same funnel of self-worth and success, while fostering imbalance through mentalities like ‘all or nothing’, is an narrow approach that makes little sense.

So, I’m trying. I’m trying to reframe my understanding of beauty, intelligence, worth and success. I can see many other people doing it too, and it’s as though we’re breaking the water’s surface to gulp air after a long time under. But there’s so much good-intentioned talk about ‘you doing you’ and all of us ‘living our best lives’ still woven into a social fabric that doesn’t vouch for balance or for those intentions to really manifest. There are still currents at our feet, pulling us under to a place where only the fast-paced, single-minded, competitive culture reigns.

At least once a day I see someone on Instagram and feel envy, but I previously wasn’t aware of that; and I am now. At least once a day I see myself in the mirror and think I don’t come close to meeting the required paradigm for beauty; but I’m aware of that now. At least once a day I question whether my writing is any good. At least once a day I think I should be working harder, exercising harder, trying harder, being better.

But I’m good. I’m good. I’m good enough, and I’m always growing. I don’t need to want more of the things I’ve been told I should value. I don’t need to pursue an idea of success that I haven’t defined, or an opinion of beauty that isn’t based on what’s best for me. I don’t need to fall out of balance because I’m pushing myself too hard in one way, rather than gently and kindly focusing on all areas of my life that are worth it. And they are worth it, those things … the things that are yours and yours alone. Because they’re not defined by anyone else’s ideals, and they are yours to grow and cultivate in the way you desire. We are all our own markers of success and balance, and that’s a refreshing thing to remember.

So does it take all or nothing? Maybe it’s more about thoughtfulness, integrity and balance instead.


This piece was originally written for The Conscious Playground.

STEPS TO BEATING A PANIC ATTACK, AND CALMING YOUR ANXIETY IN GENERAL. by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

From one (previously very anxious, now far less so) person to another.


Have you ever had a panic attack?

Those of us nodding behind our computer screens will undoubtedly agree, they’re properly awful.

While it no doubt feels different for all of us, for me a panic attack feels like I’m clouding over with dizziness, breathlessness and fear … it feels like my chest muscles are tightening, and are no longer under my control. It feels like my ‘self’ is either falling away, or becoming so glaringly close that I can’t see beyond it.

Even if you haven’t had a panic attack, do you go through bouts of anxiety? Bouts of feeling breathless, tense, uneasy and unsafe? Most of us do, I suspect.

Here are some thoughts about curbing your anxiety by changing your relationship with it, from someone who’s come a long way in the last couple of years.

I am no mental health expert, and people certainly go through varying degrees of anxiety, which can lead to other mental health difficulties. These thoughts are a reflection on my experience and on what has genuinely helped me. Seeking medical advice is really important and nothing can substitute that until you feel comfortable for it to do so. Either way, I do think this advice will always help, as long as it is in addition to the medical help that may be needed.

First, you’re not abnormal or wrong. Anxiety isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s really important, and is a sign you’re a sensitive, intuitive person. Anxiety is a feeling, or state of being, which tells us how we’re connecting, both to the world and to ourselves. 

No, you haven’t been taken over by that scat bug thing from Animorphs that makes you lose your mind. You’re not losing your mind full stop. Anxiety is telling us something, but it needs to be acknowledged, accepted and trained to help us, rather than allowed to hinder.

Instead of trying to push it away or ignore it, we need to make it a mate … we need to focus on the things that help us temper it, but also change our relationship with it so that when it comes, we can use it for good.

I’ve been anxious since I was eight. Not the whole time obviously, but someone asked me when the first time I could remember being anxious was, and it was definitely a pretty shitty day back then. Now, I live a great life, I’m very fortunate generally but especially because I have loving family and friends. So in many ways it seems I have no reason to be anxious. (Spoiler – that’s a load of tosh – everyone has reason to be anxious: we are all fluid beings moving through a fluid world, affected by the goings on within it.)
Despite my relative privilege, I’ve lived with an undercurrent of anxiety, that can spur into panic attacks, for much of my life.

It all came to a head in the last few years – around the time I hit my late twenties – with panic attacks every time I drove down the highway from Sydney to Canberra. I do this drive quite a bit, and tend to drive alone in the country a lot too, and this became a catalyst for what felt like a full-blown meltdown:

I’d feel like my eyes were clouding over on the highway – while going at speed – and that I’d begin to hallucinate and inevitably crash because I was seeing something outside the reality I was actually in. (Woah.)

I also used to have the classic Sunday-post-party panic attack, where I’d feel like my world was crumbling and that the beginning of a new work week heralded the apocalypse and also a heart attack. (Again … woo-up sally.)

Then there was the on-the-other-side-of-the-world-away-from-home panic attack, the trying-to-go-to-sleep-but-can’t panic attack, the train-stations-are-hectic panic attack, the in-an-important-meeting panic attack, or the I-might-be-in-physical-danger panic attack … and so on.

So with all this experience building, my panic attack portfolio was looking pretty shit hot.

Since then, I’ve used this experience, along with much help (which I’ll go into in due course), to make some even more hot progress, so that I no longer have panic attacks, and am far better at managing my anxiety in general.

~

We live in a frenetic, overwhelming world, with lights and cars and trucks and beeps and staplers and people bumping into us and smells and that asshole yelling at us for parking like a drongo and too much coffee and so much on and computers and social media and the wellness industry and bullshit and politicians who do fuck-all and a dying reef & environment in general and the patriarchy and body dysmorphia and iphones and instagram and likes and an-apple-a-day-keeps-the-no it doesn’t cancer is everywhere- and family disagreements and money and not having enough money and physio appointments and dinner on friday and need to get d'affinois for dinner on friday but can’t afford it and fights with your partner cause you’re overwhelmed and what’s our five year plan and why do we need a five year plan and why can’t we just live in the present?

~

I read a book recently – a great book – called Notes On A Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig. It’s short and easy and absolutely worth the read if you’re looking for something new on your bedside table.

Matt likens our connected, twenty-first century world to a giant nervous system, where we’re the neurons and the world is a single being on the brink of a globe-sized panic attack. We’re in a time of cultural, technological and social overload.

I think this idea feels true to many of us. We can feel the increasing tension, the bubbling over and unease … and it’s making us anxious.

But while we’re all definitely on the stove, we can still learn to take ourselves off the boil.

How can we calm ourselves in such a world, and how can we learn to treat our anxiety differently?

These are the things I have done, and some of the things Matt also recommends, to change the relationship we have with our anxiety, and reconnect with ourselves and the world in a beneficial way:

Stop doing as much of the stuff that you know isn’t good for you.

Stop drinking, smoking and doing whatever else, so much.

Instead, do more of the things that make you connected, happy and full.

This seems so obvious, but it’s advice from one of the psychologists I saw when I was in the midst of my intense bouts of panic attacks.

She asked me what I liked doing aside from drinking wine and rolling cigarettes, and I said “Reading, swimming, singing, writing and being in nature”, to which she replied “Cool, just do more of that.” and ended our session.

Write down your triggers. Where have you had panic attacks before?

Acknowledge the places that are triggers for you, and try to write down why. Are there lots of stimuli? Is there a lot of unnatural, human-made stuff there? Does it pull you back into an unpleasant memory?

The lovely little part of our brain that helps us have recurring anxiety or panic attacks in certain situations is called the amygdala. This little biddie is a lover of habits, so we just need to retrain her so she can form new ones. Acknowledging your habits exist and wondering why they do, are the first steps in her new exercise regime.

Read.

Reading is one of the best and easiest ways to switch our brains (and whole selves) into the present. While we certainly venture into our imaginations when we read, we are focused on what’s in front of us – what’s being said – rather than worrying about all of life’s other hubbub.

Lie on the earth.
Grounding yourself’ can be a literal thing too. Lying on the earth (not the carpet or the wooden floor, the actual grass, sand and soil) is one of the most calming things you can do.

Swim, walk, get out of the city.

Speaks for itself. Just get out of man-made stuff and into the natural world, where good things, natural things and calming things flow around you and through you. We aren’t on a planet, we are it.

If you have an animal cuddle it on your belly.
Cause dogs and stuff are awesome. They also make you more present.

Turn off all notifications – the people can wait. This is an important one … or at least it has been for me.

This is one of Matt’s recommendations, and is honestly one of the best things I’ve done to temper my anxiety. I don’t get ‘dings’ from my phone anymore and because of this I don’t feel the desperate and immediate need to see what’s going on outside what I’m trying to do, or where I’m trying to be. It also helps our brain focus far better on whatever task we’re doing, lengthening our ever-shortening attention spans.

Things can wait. People can wait. We don’t need to be in a world of immediacy.

Stop giving so much of a fuck about what people think.

People are thinking more about themselves than about what you said last night or what you were wearing. If they’re people worth keeping in your life they will understand that not all interactions are perfect and they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt or *shock horror* not judge you in the first place.

Something that helps me mid panic attack.

Cross your arms against your chest and tap your collar bones slowly, and one at a time with each hand or the tips of your first two fingers on each hand. There’s a reverberation to his that brings me back to earth. You can also try and count to fifty or more with each tap. Make sure they’re slow. Also download Headspace and listen to it whenever you need. Belly breathe.

Try to retrain your amygdala.
This is the aforementioned exercise regime. Mid panic attack, or as you’re falling into it, don’t run. Turn to face the feeling and say to it repeatedly and with intention:

I do not do this anymore.

I do not do this anymore.

Olivia, you do not do this anymore.

I Do Not Do This Anymore.

I Do Not Do This ANYMORE.

MATE! YOU DO NOT DO THIS ANYMORE.

I DO NOT DO THIS ANYMORE.

I Do Not Do This Anymore.

O, you don’t do this anymore.

I don’t do this anymore.

This will take time. I am still working with it today, but it does help.

I do not have them anymore. (See? I’m even practicing now!)

Finally, and so importantly, know that this is a relationship, not a means to an end.

Anxiety – like happiness, fear, loneliness or anger – tells us about the way we are positioned in the world … and that something might need re-balancing.
It is a reminder to care for ourselves, so don’t treat it like the enemy. Try to re-imagine it as an old friend who knows you well enough to pull you up when things are going awry. It’s only there to help.

Because of this, anxiety isn’t something we’ll ‘get rid’ of. Doing all of these calming things above aren’t a means to the end, to ‘Rid Ourselves of the Scourge of Anxiety!!’, like it’s some 1950’s horror film like The Blob, or a condition like the black plague.

Always remember, anxiety is a feeling that tells us about our current position and balance. It’s always a work in progress, a constant relationship, a friend, a pointer to how you can be more connected to yourself and life around you.

SO PEACE OUT SISTAS N’ BROTHAS. I’m off to go stare at an ant mound (another, fascinating thing that has helped me too).

This article was originally written for Chronicles Of Her.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON CLOSENESS by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

Hi. Me again.

I’ma hit you with three friendship scenarios.

 

i. We’re close. Yep. Yeah… like really close. In fact, she’s probably one of my best friends.

*six months later*

Ohhh, well, you know… I guess we’re just in different places now… yeah, we’ve kinda drifted I spose.

ii. Mate we should do this more often!! That was a hoot n’a half.

*only catch up every 6 months to hit the wines*

iii. Come for dinner, you bring the chicken, and I’ll hug you while you pick your nose.

(End scenarios.)
 

Of course these don’t come close to summing up the different forms and facets of friendship, but I whacked them in to get our lil’ heads a’thinkin.

What types of friendships do you have? How have your friendships changed over the years and how has that made you feel along the way?

In recent years – in the post-apocalypse of hitting my late twenties (fairly dramatic, I know) – I’ve begun to realise more fully that there are different types of friendships. In the way your previous romantic partner was different to your current, or future one (you’d bloody hope so), friendships are unique connections with unique humans, and so each one will always be different.

i.

Have you ever had a fast friend for a time, only to feel them slip away? Or on the other hand, maybe you’ve wanted to slip away from them? This is your love-affair-for-one-hot-summer type of friend, and when these friendships end they can be hard to bounce back from.

Once you might’ve been as close as a coupla’ pez in a packet, but for whatever reason the gods of friendship popped you out and you ended up miles away from each other.
This has happened to me, on more than one occasion, and sometimes I’ve been hurt by this ‘happening’… maybe I wasn’t ready for it, or maybe I was offended that someone evidently wasn’t interested in maintaining a friendship with me. I’ve also done it to people too.

Given we’re all generally friends with human beings (“speak for yourself!” they cry), who are living, breathing, fluid creatures, we should probably get used to the idea that those humans – their values, thoughts and intentions – will continue to change. In fact, everything will. You’ll be changing right alongside them. So for friendships that weave in and out of closeness, or are close for a time and then dissipate completely… it might be the time for a cup of concrete and a classic c’est la vie.

Rather than being hurt by it, forming an acceptance and understanding that this is the type of relationship you have with that person, makes it way more digestible. Friendships can’t be forced, and to assume two people will change in the same way and at the same time is an extraordinary expectation. It only happens with a few people in your life, and those are the ones you’re willing to really and absolutely fight for.

ii.

Another type of friendship is the wine-o-clock-once-every-few-months-friendship: a personal favourite of mine.

You know those people who you love to see, love to spend a giggly night with, but to who you’d probably never reveal the fact you wee in the shower? (Obviously this is horseplay, I would never pee in the shower, but then how well do we really know each other...)

There’s often an expectation with this friend, that you should increase the frequency of these catch-ups, that you should forge your way to close friendship. Is this always reasonable though?

I’ve decided I don’t think it is. Not always. I dislike this expression, but I agree with its sentiments: there are different horses for different courses. To expect that every friendship you have in your life should be spearheading its way towards Best Friendom is, well… a little weird. Imagine the reality of that for a second. Where would you draw the line? Would everyone you meet who you got along with need to be afforded the same efforts? What about the friendly fishmonger at the end of your street who you have funny chats with when they sell you the occasional Red Emperor? We’d all be absolutely exhausted.

There’s a bit of stinky stigma floating around, that makes us feel awkward if we don’t try to further these types of friendships. We feel pressured to say ‘we should catch up soon’ when we run into each other, despite neither party really being committed to that end, at least not on a regular basis. So what are we doing that for?

We’ve all grown up with the idea that friendships are forever and that BFFs are the end game… and that’s true of some friendships, but it needn’t be true of all, and it puts pressure on the ones that aren’t the former and hinders our ability to enjoy them for what they are.

So let’s bugger all that off. We don’t need it. I say be happy with your occasional friends, your wine-o-clock-once-every-few-months-friendships, because they’re a refreshing bubble of difference that you encounter every so often, and that’s a lovely thing in itself. It doesn’t need to be more.

iii.

Then you’ve got your best friends. Your close-as-a-duck’s-nuts friends.

I can’t really say too much about these ones, because we all have entirely unique experiences of them. Uniqueness is true of all relationships of course, whether they’re close or not, but these ones have levels of intimacy that can’t often be penned without diving into a Tolkien-esque explanation.

Friends like these are the ones who know you’ve got a real love for molluscs, know that you have a tendency to over-dramatise situations, and have an ability to pull you up on things you mightn’t be so proud of. These are the ones who shape you into a better human, and who grow alongside you while you do the same for them. These are the ones you fight for.

I was listening to a talk from an awesome neuroscientist the other day, Fiona Kerr’s her name. Fiona was talking about how eye contact creates human connection, and sparks our brain to grow. Eye contact grows new brain. Literally.

Friendships go even further though, and for the friends you have who you’re closer to than almost anyone else, when you’re together your brains are playing in sync and dancing together.

~

We have friends for a while, friends in context and friends forever. While these don’t show us all types of friendships in existence, they show us that all relationships are different, and that we don’t have to force things or feel awkward for engaging with them in whatever way we feel is natural.

Wouldn’t it be a good day if we could bump into an old friend on the street and not feel the pressure of a forced ‘we should catch up’... next time, I swear I’m going to try it.

 

This article was originally written for Chronicles of Her.
 

SHOULD WE FIGHT WITH OUR FRIENDS? by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 8.51.25 pm.png

Hear me out.

Have you ever broken up with a friend?

Break ups are bloody awful, no surprises here, but break ups with friends might be even worse.

When you begin a romantic relationship, you’re aware that if things don’t work out, the whole thing might go belly-up. That’s a risk you take. Of course it’s not something you focus on unless you need to, but it’s an understood potential and facet of entering into that kind of close companionship with another h.o.o.m.a.n.

When you forge a friendship, though, there’s no real understanding of a potential end point—no real sense of risk. Friendships (when they begin, at least) are intended and—more importantly—expected to last. BFFs, right?

(In all seriousness though, get me a pair of matching butterfly clips, a broken-heart necklace, a terrible garage band name and a weekly sleepover, and I’m yours.)

But should things happen to crack and crumble, with broken-heart necklaces being thrown in faces, then you might be facing a friendship break up… and friendship break ups are as tough. as. guts.

When you break up with a friend, there’s no emergency response team. Your friends and family aren’t equipped with that unwritten support manual they do so well with at the end of a romantic relationship. The “you’re so much better than them”; the “now you can finally spend time focusing on yourself”; and the “fuck that, let’s get this pal a bottle of campari at 10:00am, a facial, an airbnb in the country, a long lunch and a bucket o’dildos”. *wow emoji*

When you break up with a friend there’s none of that. Instead there can be fissures of quiet and back-door opinions that run through your friendship circle. There’s consolation, to be sure, but generally only from friends that are pretty separate to the affected relationship… and fair enough. Even when the consolation comes, though, it’s often light-handed, because, “at least it was only a mate, right? You’ve got tonnes of them, so losing one ‘doth not herald the apocalypse’, as they say…” (they don’t say this.)

In reality, though, when you break up with a friend, it can take longer to get over than a break up. It’s shocking—genuinely—because we don’t expect it to happen, we don’t anticipate the hurt that it causes, we don’t quite know how to react to it and society hasn’t prepared us too well to deal with that or prevent it from happening in the first place.

Friendship is meant to last ‘forever’.  

Could this understanding of friendship, as perpetual in nature, mean that we have no sense of risk when we’re forging it? With no sense of risk, is there then no sense of needing to fight for it?

More often than not, we won’t fight with our friends, because, well, we’re not in relationships with them… they’re their own people, and they can do as they please, just as we can.

This is true, in part, but it’s also untrue, because we are in relationships with them. Friendships, just like romances, are relationships—they’re just different iterations of human closeness and connection.

This means that just like any functional romantic relationship, they need this whopper of a thing to work: trust. Trust builds connection and community, and brings us out of isolation. Without trust, we slip away from what might be the most significant part of our human experience: the fact that we’re all in it together, and that we shape it, each other, and ourselves in concert with the rest of the world.

So fighting with your friends (respectfully, duh), and committing to an honest, open and sometimes difficult dialogue that is continuously evolving, is yep, confronting, but it will only serve to build the trust between you and inevitably give your friendship the best chance at making the leap to real life BFFs.

At the end of the dizzle, what are our friendships for, if not to connect, enjoy each other and help shape each other to grow as people? So, without committing to honesty together and the potential hardship of that, are we really committing to each other as friends at all?

Get your boxing mitts on folks!

 

This article was originally written for Chronicles Of Her as part of Friendship Week.

DAYDREAM by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

 Shot by Scott Wilson @scottwilsonimagery

Shot by Scott Wilson @scottwilsonimagery

They tie a rope to a piece of coral 10 meters below and you start to breathe. Big, wave-like breaths into your belly so that they roll up and out of you. Just focus on that. Just focus on that... But then your little toes wiggle in the flippers - a reminder that you still have to paddle to stay up in the air - not time to head down there yet.

"Okay, Ash, give it a crack" says Scott. He and Woody can melt down to 40 meters and stay there for minutes at a time - crawling around on the coral below like octopus(es/i/whatever) - patient, slow and curious. It's epic to watch. Ash takes her breath and dips her head below her feet, grabbing hold of the rope. We watch her place one hand in front of the other over and over until she decides she needs to turn around. About 7 meters... Damn good for a first try according to the boys.

We all take turns at this for some time. Ash has smashed the 10 meters by now, she's lived here by the water for years and shrugs her shoulders in quiet content when we all congratulate her. My turn. She's done it now so I bloody can too I reckon, but I've never been good at staying calm.

So breathe. GiGi's a doctor and she says the body can survive on one good breathe for up to 5 minutes before you're actually in trouble. Funny though, it's not knowing the science that gets you down there, it's not thinking much at all.

I roll over and down with a torso full of air and start to pull myself along. The deeper you get the more you slim out as the particles compress. Right over left, repeat. It's further down than you think. I close my eyes and think about the humpback whales we'll swim with this week. Whales! Right over left, repeat. By now I'm at around 7 meters, I open my eyes and I decide to do it. I'm doing it. If I run out of air on the way up Scott and Woody can help me. Time feels kind of strange down here, marked out by small accomplishments rather than a constant drum. Is that how time feels normally? I don't know, point is it was different.

I realise I'm holding onto the coral, I'm there, suspended upside down at the depth of a tall town-house. It's not the deepest depth in the world but it's further than I've ever gone without an air tank. I close my eyes and all I feel is a deep sway.

After a few moments that feel like a deep pause I roll back over and lock eyes with Scott. He's down there with me and throws me an underwater shaka as I grab the rope to head up. I do a little slow-mo boogie and then look up at the surface. It's a way up but I take my time. I start my ascent and the closer to the surface I get the more I start to feel that jolt in my diaphragm that tells me I need air. They told me to push it aside though so I do... I don't worry this time. Up n' up I go, all the while thinking only that I like it down there and I can't wait to go back. 

OH! FOR OPERA! by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

 Some may see The Opera as an outdated pastime...a relic of the aristocracy and a boring waffle of what sounds like wobbly yelling. I recently went to Opera Australia's 60th Anniversary Gala, as a lucky guest of my cousins, and it really hit me hard.   I find myself constantly worried about the planet and about human action, longing for a breath in the midst of so much villainy (to take those beautiful words from Szymon's 'Golden'). For once, I was invigorated, revived and hopeful. Humans really are amazing creatures... So conscious, so powerful. All we need to do is try!

Some may see The Opera as an outdated pastime...a relic of the aristocracy and a boring waffle of what sounds like wobbly yelling. I recently went to Opera Australia's 60th Anniversary Gala, as a lucky guest of my cousins, and it really hit me hard. 

I find myself constantly worried about the planet and about human action, longing for a breath in the midst of so much villainy (to take those beautiful words from Szymon's 'Golden'). For once, I was invigorated, revived and hopeful. Humans really are amazing creatures... So conscious, so powerful. All we need to do is try!

Some may see The Opera as an outdated pastime...a relic of the aristocracy and a boring waffle of what sounds like wobbly yelling. I recently went to Opera Australia's 60th Anniversary Gala, as a lucky guest of my cousins, and it really hit me hard. 

I find myself constantly worried about the planet and about human action, longing for a breath in the midst of so much villainy (to take those beautiful words from Szymon's 'Golden'). For once, I was invigorated, revived and hopeful. Humans really are amazing creatures... So conscious, so powerful. All we need to do is try!

WORKPLACE ECOSYSTEMS by Olivia Pirie-Griffiths

Most of us are part of some kind of workplace...it's a necessary part of living today, but it's also pretty odd. Have you ever found yourself confronted by the pecking order or by the nuances of how you all communicate?

I've been chatting with friends recently who are burgeoning high-flyers...'yuppies' if you will. Hammering away at the base of a looming column of concrete bureaucracy. My worst nightmare but an admirable display of determination and patience. Anyway, within these conversations there's much yammering about superiors' treatment of juniors, the lack of ethical culture, and of course the perks of those long wine-filled lunches (so it's not all bad). 

Gets me thinking though, surely a shift in perspective would benefit even the most skeptical of groups, the big business folk. This is not to say that all my friends and people who work in the corporate world are disconnected with the process of life, rather that the structure of many a corporation eggs on the perspective of disconnect, rather than of cooperation and flux. We're in this together and surely the best way to flourish is to utilise that. I'm not 'business savvy Sonya' but if workplaces approached their internal workings from the perspective that they're an ecosystem rather than just a hierarchy, there'd be less politics and more productivity.