Girls

Every day millions of baby girls are born in to this world.

A few of us are very, very lucky.

We are born in to love. We have a beautiful home to call our own. We are raised with kindness and patience. We have two people who adore us and do everything in their power to do it right. We can avoid the badness of this planet because we are grounded by love and support.

We really are the lucky ones.

There are lots babies who don’t have it so good.

Having a family who give me everything is something that for the longest time I have taken for granted; yes, I love them more than breath, but I never truly appreciated just how well I did in the life lottery.

As I became a woman I explored the world a lot more. I travelled a lot. My morbid curiosity kicked in and I started studying crime in my spare time as a hobby. My Papi being a prison officer gave me an acute awareness of ‘badness’. I don’t think I ever comprehended the extent until it started to creep in to my life. I realised that heartbreak and poverty and pain are always only a stones throw away from all of us. It is very close to home. It’s getting worse, too.

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I have seen girls and women with sparks and brains and character dim and change and break. I’ve seen the affects a childhood or relationship built on fear can have.

It all kind of came to a head the night I watched the British drama ‘Three Girls’ which is a factual retelling of a harrowing and sickening trend; women who fall prey to evil men.

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For a start, watch it. I cry a lot, but this broke me. I held it in until the end of part one and then I snapped. I felt it, all of it, and I sobbed and I couldn’t stop. I cried for every single baby girl in this world who doesn’t have a daddy to protect her. I cried for every baby girl who found herself out of control of her situation. I cried for every rape victim, every exploited child, every female used and abused with no where to turn.

We know our world is filled with bad, bad people.

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I hate the fact that we have to discuss an entire gender in such a negative way. Of course we know it’s ‘not all men‘. It’s a fact, though, that male violence is one of the biggest issues we have. As women we are raised to always have our guard up and be vigilant. We know to walk quickly when alone, be on our phone, not wear anything too revealing, not make eye contact, avoid going out at night.

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I wish I could open my arms and hold close every single person who has ever been hurt, and I hope that in writing the way I do I will open a dialogue or raise awareness. I just want to talk about it. We are not okay.

Women are forever in an inferior position when it comes to physical dominance. There is a threat of violence and control that most of us are not physically capable of overcoming. When we are in what we think is a safe place, and people we trust betray us, where can we turn? Most of us can’t punch our way out. We can’t assert dominance or command respect. We can’t just get up and leave. That isn’t something that our society is comfortable with as a whole. I can preach equality until I am blue in the face but it is a fact that there are still so many men out there who see women as inferior and treat us as such.

There are girls growing up in worlds where they are told that all they have to offer is their body. They are hurt, they are used and maybe they’re discarded. Maybe they are recycled until they’re too ‘old’ and ‘dirty’ to be considered desirable. Drugs and alcohol are used to get them through. They might be used as a tool in the power play or maybe they’re an escape mechanism. Lower socioeconomic backgrounds are the most vulnerable.

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How can we help them?

Why is the first question that gets asked always ‘why didn’t she say no? Why didn’t she walk away? Why didn’t she defend herself?’

How about: ‘why the fuck are men still raping women?’

We shouldn’t have to raise women to protect themselves. This victim blaming bullshit needs to end.

We are not objects to be used. We are human beings with the same brains as everyone else. We feel pain. We do what we need to to survive.

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Everyone knows someone who has been raped. You might not realise it, because she probably didn’t tell anyone. The majority of rapes aren’t reported for fear of the consequences, be it a further threat of violence from the perpetrator, an inability to escape the situation, or fear of the marginalisation they will face from their peers. Maybe they just won’t get convicted like the sickening graph above.

#MeToo started a few days ago. A queen I have adored for years named Alyssa Milano began the movement on Twitter to show solidarity with women who have experienced sexual harassment and assault. Suddenly, the vulnerable conversations had between close girlfriends are out there for the world to see. Thousands of women are taking to social media to confess their own experiences of sexual violence or violation. It’s not a hushed topic anymore. Now we see just how big this thing really is.

I have had many conversations with fellow twenty-somethings about the times we have been sexually assaulted on nights out. Groping, touching, hurting us because we aren’t giving them attention. We aren’t reciprocating their advances. We moved away when they came too close. We accepted their offer to buy us a drink so now we owe them sex. We danced a bit too sexy so we deserve a hand up our dress. We went out for a smoke and were alone a few minutes too long. I never looked any of them in the eye, many of them I didn’t see coming, so I’m not really sure how I was asking for it. Is that where it all starts for these men? A casual man-handle without consent? Or are there degrees of inner predator?

Every single time I find a way to blame myself. I flirt too much (but I flirt with everyone…), my boobs were out (am I not allowed to be proud of my body?), I caught his eye (I should be able to look around the room without inviting an invasion), I didn’t call him out when he touched me (but his friends were all there and a lot bigger than me), I was too nice and I gave him the wrong idea (and some men wonder why women act like bitches), I went home with him (but I made my feelings about contraception clear).

We still aren’t talking about this enough.

For anyone reading this, and I genuinely hope there aren’t many, who might be going down the thought train of ‘well how do I know if someone is keen then? Am I just supposed to stand with my hands behind my back? Will a girl I hook up with turn around and say she didn’t consent afterwards?You aren’t listening to what we are saying. Unless you are the type of man who puts your hands on a woman without invitation, or takes a girl home who is clearly too drunk to look after herself, none of this is directed at you. If she moves away from you, let her! Don’t play the victim, because you’re not. I know for a fact that my men don’t feel this way, but I have seen the comment sections, I’ve overheard the loud, brutish pub banter, I know what we are up against. This isn’t a crusade against a gender. We love men. That’s the whole point. We want to be able to continue to love men and feel respected and safe while doing so.

Girls and women alike often live a life of fear. For some of us, the lucky ones, outside of a bar or club it’s just a passing thought as we wait for an Uber or walk alone at night. I always hold my keys between my fingers like a weapon and call my family as I walk, loudly stating where I am and that I’m on my way. I’m as privileged as they come with my strong family unit and ‘safe’ suburbs but it is always on my mind. I’m not exaggerating, and I’m not paranoid. Go read the hashtag.

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Today I am taking a stand; this is for my sisters.

I am opening the dialogue. I am using my voice to speak the truth without fear of offending. I don’t give a shit if I upset someone’s fragile ego. I do not paint everyone with the same brush, today I am talking about men who hurt women. It is real, it is constant and it is happening all around us.

There are thousands of issues in this world, but today, in the wake of yet another man in a powerful position being finally exposed for his disgusting actions, despite decades of protection from his colleagues (see: Harvey Weinstein) I stand for women.

I stand for Rose McGowan banned from Twitter for calling out other men who defended him, I stand for the girls who had their childhood stolen by organisations of men pimping them out, I stand for the girls and women who aren’t safe in their own home.

Let’s stand together, all of us, men and women, against this shit. Let’s talk about it, let’s call it out and let’s make a change.

This isn’t okay. It was never okay.

For women everywhere.

For the facts:

https://www.ourwatch.org.au/Understanding-Violence/Facts-and-figures

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoffences/yearendingmarch2016/domesticabusesexualassaultandstalking

To learn more:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/fiona-mccormack-preventing-violence-against-women-in-australia/6552078

How to help:

https://www.whiteribbon.org.au

https://www.actionaid.org.uk

Financial aid isn’t viable for all of us, but starting a conversation is a step in the right direction. Look around, and offer your help to anyone who might need it. If you’re one of my beautiful male friends, you can really help us. Don’t ever be a bystander. You have nothing to fear, we love you, but we just need you to understand.

Tara Moss on Toxic Silence

I’m so proud of you guys. It takes a strong woman to speak up and a strong man to listen and learn. Thank you for reading.

HarleighQ

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Who Are You?

My darlings.

I'm starting this post having just rewatched the first ever episode of a show I feel I've grown up with, Catfish.

For anyone unfamiliar with concept, Catfish features two amazing men, Nev and Max, who help people who have started relationships online with people they have never met. Spoiler alert, more often than not, the people they are speaking to aren't who they say they are. Be it fake photos stolen from someone else on the internet or pretending to be someone they know personally, it's clear that the Catfishers are unhappy with who they are.

Often they've been bullied or have had a hard time and use this persona like a shield. They don't feel good enough.

I think it takes a pretty cruel person to bring someone in to your insecurity, and use them to boost your self esteem through deception. However… imagine if they channeled their negative life experiences in to making themselves better people. Instead of using a mask of someone else.. imagine the self love they could generate!

Dialling it back, let me tell you my story.

I remember starting high school. It was a big public one a half an hour walk from my house, just outside the Yorkshire village I grew up in. Almost all the kids I went to primary school with went with me. Masses off us trudged through the rain and the snow, across the train tracks to the intimidatingly massive new chapter.

In time I grew to love that school and it's long corridors and kids twice the size of me, shoving everyone around for fun. You had to have a drawstring bag otherwise someone was bound to unzip it and knock your stuff on the floor. You had to keep your hand down in class so no one could take the piss out of your answers. You also knew very quickly who the top dogs were and to remember your place.

Bullying is such a normal part of growing up. I put it down to trying to fit in to this new environment, and me being a bit of a bossy boots by nature, but my two best friends from primary school decided they didn't like me anymore. After that, I had a really hard time making friends.

When I did start to bond with someone, often a false rumour stating I'd said something behind their back quickly ended it. I guess that was the thing with me. If I took issue with someone, I would just say it to their face. Maybe that was my problem. Being too upfront made me a target for the whisperers. I was so scared of what I did say getting twisted that I just stopped speaking. It took me years to get the confidence to voice my opinion back. I make up for it now 😊.

I wound up having to go to a 'friendship group'. It was designed for myself and fellow lonely kids who were struggling a bit. We'd do quizzes and talk about our interests and hobbies. Everyone was weird and it was nice to have people to eat lunch with. Yes, there were a few sandwiches ate in a toilet cubicle. What a cliché.

A few long months in, having truly learned the importance of empathy, I reconnected with a couple of the girls from my primary school. We ended up in our own tight knit group.

Rarely a week went by without some of the five of us falling out, of course, but blissful were the lunch breaks spent giggling our heads off in the hot lunch room and getting kicked out for being too loud. Through many hours spent in the library, I discovered Louise Rennison's book series about the most relatable tween on the planet, Georgia Nicolson. I was proud of my new little Ace Gang.

Times got real tough again when I found out I was moving to Australia. Slowly but surely I felt the girls retreating from me, my closest friend especially. She became quite cruel, and though an adult brain understands self preservation and the primal need to lash out in order to protect ourselves, a scared thirteen year old did not. Some of my memories of this time are so vivid. One, I was sobbing at my work station in Food, not wanting anyone to see me. I'd been handed the notes some of the girls had been passing about me. I think it said something about me being a try hard and a made up thing I hadn't said. I'm pretty sure that was the day we made rice pudding.

In the very end they had tried to fix some of the damage caused, and there was a leaving party at my best friends house with Sing Star, baked goods and lots of trampolining. It felt like the end of the world.

Then I left England and didn't really look back.

As with most new kids, I found myself right back where I started in Australia, too.

This new high school was tiny, and I started week three of term three of year nine to be precise. I was buddied with one of the 'cool' girls. I think my teacher thought she was doing me a favour, but she and her friends were very uninterested in me. We were very different people.

In this school watched Napoleon Dynamite, I heard rumours about a boy getting a hand job behind a textbook in class, and got teased for my big shoes. I had to wear UGG boots and a miniskirt to be cool, and I definitely had to shave my legs and pluck my mad Wog eyebrows. What a different world this was!

Yet again, I had a hard time making friends. I'm a girl with a lot of passions. At the age of fourteen, it was Harry Potter and Home and Away. I could barely make eye contact with a boy without turning crimson and I was best friends with my family (and still am).

It was a long and lonely summer, but year 10 began my ascent in to one happy young lady. I made friends with four incredible girls. I can't remember how we found each other exactly, but I distinctly remember one incident in particular.

I was eating cheese and pickle sandwiches for lunch. English people reading this know what I am referring to I'm sure. The two Australian girls that would let me sit near them had no idea what the weird brown stuff I had was. They were loudly ridiculing me, for not the first time unfortunately, when a tiny, wonderful, sparkly eyed girl from southern England barked at them 'its Branston pickle?' With a level of sass I've yet to hear since. They soon shut up, and I soon changed who I sat with at lunch.

Next joined Shaz, a witty and cool as a cucumber girl whose best friend had recently changed school. Then there I was Bek, the green eyed and incredibly intelligent girl that I absolutely idolised (and still do). Thus, Ace Gang 2.0 began. We had sleepovers, long chats, giggles and an obsession with YouTube videos. We talked and sang and danced and we're allowed, encouraged, to be 100% ourselves with each other. We were not without our disagreements of course, teenage girls are a nightmare, but we thrived together. They saw me through my first kiss (literally) and all those other fun things 15 year olds do.

I got in to anime and started writing fan fiction and making music videos. I made the pilgrimage to the city for the final Harry Potter book with Abby and Danica, the two pickle-girl life savers, at 530am one brisk morning. I drew a lot, very averagely. I had a puppy Rio and two six month long crushes that went absolutely nowhere. Two others joined our crew, and soon we were going on adventures to Freo for Timezone photos and sushi train.

My second six month long crush, and first taste of heartbreak, got wind of my affections when I got up the courage to ask for his number on the school bus one day. 'I don't know it,' was his earth-shattering response. Lorraine, one of our new editions, heard from a mutual friend that he intended to pretend to like me and then thoroughly humiliate me in front of everyone on the bus the next day, so she decided to berate him in the hallway for all to hear. My heart was crushed but my friend was golden.

Of course, things changed over time. Boys, Abby moving back to England and just growing up different pulled us apart. By year 12 I was back to my lonely self, this time with two equally lonely companions, Jessie and Arran. Those cynical bastards are still my best friends to this day. God love them.

It wasn't until many years later, having lost all of the things that made me me, that I realised just how important it is for us to be true to ourselves.

I can pinpoint the time when I started to lose my kook. I was deep in a relationship where I didn't feel like myself anymore. It can be hard for natural born people-pleasers like myself and every other Cancerian in the world to stay true to ourselves when we're in love. Sometimes we go too far the other way.

For a lot of people it's their experiences with bullying at school that dilutes their colours. They're sparkling too brightly, and it seems to be in a lot of humans' nature to dim that rival sparkle as much as possible. But the thing is, if we don't care what other people think of us, it completely removes their power.

I am incredibly proud of baby Leigh, because my God did she stay true. I wore all of the nerdy, weird shit I loved on my sleeve for all the world to see and I never felt any shame for it. I surrounded myself with people who were proud of me, and I was proud of them. We lifted each other up and protected one another from the evil outside which slowly stopped mattering. My self preservation developed in to completely cutting people out who I feared would hurt me. It's served me quite well so far. I just can't do fake politeness. My face is too emotive. I give myself away.

As an adult I've gone through the cycle again. When I don't feel like I can be myself I tend to retreat. I look inwardly for that place of peace and power. I remind myself why I like me, regardless of if others do or not. I'm still a pleaser, and I still need validation, but I'm getting better. Maybe I need to ask baby Leigh how she did it. Through all the shit, I was always me.

In telling this story I'm hoping that others who have been shaken by self-doubt due of external factors realise that they were never ever the problem. If you have a good heart, that's all that matters. Let your freak flag fly! The most attractive people in the world to me are the passionate ones. I don't care what you love, if it matters that much to you then you're a dream come true. Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine.

At the ripe old age of 26 I know who I am and what makes me happy.

I love the Beatles, I love looking like I just walked out of the 70s, I love loud live music and I love writing. I love connecting with people, and I love talking about aliens and politics and nature. I love the ocean, and I love red wine and cheese platters.

Most of all I love all of the incredible people all over the world that I have met. Be they weird, loud, artistic, spiritual, gentle, wild, funny or my polar opposite, they are completely and unapologetically themselves.

Being a people pleaser isn't as good a quality as it sounds. It's easy to lose yourself, or change to fit an ideal instead of fulfilling who you really are. Being judged is scary. It's a constant battle not to care too much.

Two years ago I would never have walked down the street in my Rockabilly gear. I also didn't eat much and was overall pretty fucking lost.

Now I find myself curvaceous, sassy and proud of my wild outfits and huge smile. I am proud of myself for all I've done, and I love the person I have become very much. I still love all my nerdy things, and I will gladly talk about them to anyone with remote interest (glazed over eyes works too). If it wasn't for all of the negative experiences I've had, not fitting in, feeling lonely, having my heart broken, I wouldn't be who I am now.

None of us would be real without the shit. Don't let it change you, though.

There may be people who love you unconditionally, but it's you who needs to love you most. You're the cheerleader. You're the one whose been there through it all and lived to tell the tale. You're a bloody legend!

Talk about yourself, be proud. It's ok to blow your own horn sometimes. If the people around you don't want to listen, they aren't your people babe. We should all be rooting for each other. What are friends for?

We are all so unique and have so many stories and experiences. We are all part of this great big mad world, but there's only one YOU.

So be you, be free, be everything you've ever wanted to be. Let the love pour out of you. You'll attract the right people, this I promise you.

In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

So tell me, beautiful people, who are you?

Love your second biggest fan,

Harleigh Q

Xo

The Trouble With Social Media

Hello Millenials, Gen X & Y and Boomers.

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How are you?

Good I hope.

This week I fell from my perch a bit. I have been making a shift in to profiting on this little talent for eloquent bull-shitting lately. I sponsored a couple of my posts to reach a vaster audience and started a little hub of love on Instagram named @HippieHarleighQ and my very own Facebook like page.

It’s a big stretch for me. You guys know I’m an open person, but I’m also extremely sensitive.

Like, very.

I guess I don’t care if people judge my selfies or photo shoots because I know I’m just a normal girl trying to love myself and inspire others to do the same, and the overconfidence is just my sense of humour. But when it comes to someone questioning my insides? Oh boy…

Someone that I don’t know commented under one of my posts ‘sponsored? Hahah’ and I was bubblingly upset for the rest of the day. Yeah. I’m that bad.

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I promptly deleted the ad for the day it had left.

One thing I don’t want to be is ‘Insta-famous’. However, I do want to connect with more people. I guess it’s the same thing, isn’t it?

As a result of my new found need for money, I’ve been spending more time analysing my online presence. I’ve been looking at other people’s pages, reading their captions and hashtags and working out just how they do it.

Due to my ridiculous hyper-sensitivity I’ve also been questioning myself a hell of a lot more than usual.

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Where my anxiety had become very manageable, suddenly I am opening myself up to the devil known as comparison; the thief of joy, they say.

Oh boy, they are right.

I’m not happy at the moment. I have stopped enjoying my moments and I have started caring way too much about other people’s opinions. It’s like being a looney teen again. I’m a 26 year old woman! I thought I was supposed to be over that by now!

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I’ve been working out, eating right and I’ve cut right back on the naughty drinking. I’ve practically quit smoking. I’ve also stopped reading, I’m struggling to write and I’m losing my connections with my friends. Why? Because I’m thinking too much.

One of my spectacularly beautiful and intelligent girls said to a few of us a while ago that she found Instagram depressing. I couldn’t relate.

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I loved Instagram. I loved the amazing #bopo pages I follow; the gorgeous vintage collections, artists and hippie clothing companies that fill my feed. Facebook was much the same; interesting news articles, friend’s hilarious titbits about their day to day and some cool travel photos. I thought it was maybe something she could control by changing who she follows.

I was so wrong.

When you’re in the headspace of comparison (aka: thief of joy) the things you were looking at before that made you smile suddenly cloud your mind in a dark way. I enviously analyse the photography skills of my #bopo girls. I skip over friends’ posts and seek out my target audience to see why they aren’t engaging with me more. I’ve picked people who aren’t giving me as much attention as they used to and I’m agonising over it.

I have stopped valuing the good in favour of the goal.

Specifically, artist friends, do you know what I mean? The success of something locally doesn’t mean much when your reach isn’t vast enough? Something you wrote is no longer measuring up because something from last month did way better?

I want us all to stop.

Stop stop stop.

Social media is not real. We also can’t control who is seeing our posts due to the very money-focused algorithms. Don’t think less likes means people aren’t loving you. They aren’t seeing you.

~

Today I scrolled back through my Instagram for photos that looked out of place (I’m notorious for archiving mismatching colours in favour of a flowing theme rather than honest expression).

I came across my America and Europe photos.

I zoomed in on my and Martina’s smiley faces on our way to the opera dinner in Rome. I remembered vividly how incredible that night was, and how none of us had had signal in that little underground restaurant so we just talked and talked and talked like it was going out of fashion.

I saw myself standing at the top of the Rocky steps, one of my biggest life goals, for the second time.

I scrolled a little further and saw the gorgeous beach photos I took when I went down the coast with my Kate for a sneaky getaway, and the Melbourne food market tour I went on when I was learning how to use my new DSLR.

Not a single one of these times did I have my fucking phone in my hand.

I then scrolled back up and looked at my tagged photos, and I saw my face hanging in an art gallery in Maryland.

No, no one has written a song about me and no, I haven’t appeared in a music video and no, I haven’t collaborated in writing a great song, but someone liked my face so much that they decided to stare at it for hours and create a beautiful work of art that is now selling for $650USD. One day I might be hanging on someone’s wall. Wow.

What the fuck is wrong with us? Why do we always strive for what we don’t have or feel discontented when our lives are filled with amazing things to be proud of?

We can’t blame the media for everything. It’s not going to change any time soon. I think it’s our own doing, in a lot of ways. When we don’t switch off, we don’t absorb.

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Our phones are glued to our hands and life is witnessed through a screen instead of through our square little eyes.

~

I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to switch off more often and get out in to that big bad world without a shield of phone to guard me, and I’m going to see how my happiness level goes.

I have an inkling I might feel just that little bit lighter; and not just because my phone is a brick for the blind.

If we don’t get out there and do, how can we be?

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I hope this little shake up helps some of you guys too. I hadn’t been able to pinpoint my lull but now I have, I’m going to try to fix it as best I can.

One hour free of technology after work each day to focus on my other things e.g. pile of unread books and neglected keyboard and guitar.

You’re all beautiful, interesting people. That’s why you’re my friends.

Now let’s go and be that without validation (said the queen of needing validation). Life is short, don’t spend it sad because some people are cooler than you.

No one will ever be as cool as Ringo Starr. It’s time we accepted it.

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Forever your honey,

Harleigh Q

Xo

Defining Success

The term ‘success’ has come up a few times in my world lately.

I was having a really interesting chat with my Sarah over a daytime cocktail bowl. We realised that many people have a pretty standard view of what makes a person successful.

I’m starting to realise that my definition is quite different from the norm. I thought I’d analyse a few of the definitions I know to help me better understand the different perspectives.

Do we really all judge ourselves and each other by these standards?
~

Money

Let’s start with the thing we have been trained to value above all else since the day we could count: moola.

It makes the world go round, there’s no denying it. I know people who can’t breathe unless they have several thousands nestled deep within their untouchable savings account.

They have the freedom to buy the nicer things, treat themselves on occasion. But there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing those numbers tick up and up every payday.

It’s starting with nothing and making decisions each day that get you to a place of calm and comfort.

That self control is impressive to say the least. While others blow it all in an online shopping spree over a glass of wine (guilty) the knowledge that no matter what life throws at you, you’re prepared and on top of it. You’re not a slave to a bank or in debt to anyone, that’s success.

Career

The driving force, the crowning jewel. Oh, to be a boss!

It’s not just about power, though it feels damn good to take control, it’s about having a reason to get out of bed everyday.

There’s a fire in your belly, a drive, a force pushing you to give your chosen path your whole heart and soul.

Lunches ate at a desk between phone calls, balls with awards and glamour and recognition. Seeing your name on the leader board, a thank you email, a cuddle from someone you helped. There are so many reasons to be proud.

Degrees, commutes, essays, studies. Getting to work and leaving in darkness. A sense of total achievement. Glory, recognition, importance; maybe even fame.

A career is a purpose alright. It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows with the people you spend more time with than friends and family.

Putting your heart in to your work? That’s success.

Knowledge

What an overwhelming thirst it is, to understand, to comprehend the world and her wonders.

News articles are beautiful things. The media can be a necessary evil at times but they’ve learned how to weed out the scare tactics and get to the heart of the facts.

Books are fuel. They’re an escape and a companion. Like two lives running simultaneously, there’s the conscious person and the person living inside the stories, past and present and everything in between.

Documentaries are relaxing viewing. Dates and events are stacking in mind, occasionally skewing but always sparking interest and pride.

Deep, stimulating conversations with companions who share your need to understand, to challenge, to explore. To hold your own with the passionate and intellectual alike, that’s success.

Possessions

I can’t count how many people I know with slabs, cars and engagement rings. They’re somewhere along the building time scale or checking out display homes. They’ve got a fat deposit in their bank account ready to burn. They’ve got a beautiful, brand new car. They’re living in their own self-designed haven.

They’ve worked damn hard, they’ve made sacrifices. They didn’t get to go out and play, go on the holidays. But, to buy the ultimate independence? That’s pretty incredible.

They’ve got beautiful things. They might have beautiful hair and makeup and jewellery or maybe it’s just a beautiful home, a well taken care of vehicle. They’ve dedicated years to it, they deserve it. Now, time is theirs. Life is pretty and peaceful. Work is necessary, but it’s a means to an end.

A home, a base, freedom. A sense of pride. That’s success.

Love

I’ve met an incredible bunch of men and women in my life, but there are a few of them who have had a small sadness in their eyes. These are the ones who tell me they’re failing. They mention a want for a person above all else. They are lonely. They don’t see life beginning until they find someone to share it’s ups and downs with. Nothing can begin until then.

This group value love above all else. A job is a job, and experiences aren’t as good unless there’s someone to share them with.

They seek a soul connection, and oh how their energy lifts and life sparkles when they find someone who feels the same.

Being single is a minefield at times, being single in your late twenties can be stressful, especially. Most of my people have found their partners in life. I’m surrounded by engagements and weddings.

Cementing the feelings, starting the story.

Love conquers all. That’s success.

Experiences

Finally we come to my personal measure of success. Stories.

To me and many others, a life spent in one place is a life half lived. The world is gigantic and magical and so full of dreams to be realised and lives to intersect.

We want to expand our minds through experiences. We want to see how everyone everywhere lives and breathes. We want to understand them. I love humans and I do think love is a great measure of success, but the stories I share with people and the memories I create are what I crave. They’re how I feel alive and satisfied.

I may not have any money in the bank, and I have to work damn hard to afford my own impulsiveness, but to me it’s all worth it.

A life lived on the edge of adventure, without fear or limits, that’s what it’s all about to me. Being able to jump in head first, that’s success.

~

I decided to ask some of my friends their thoughts. How do they define success? What are their goals? I think millennial success is a whole different ball game.

An angry Scot of the Highlands

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I just want to be happy and healthy in whatever I do. If I am comfortable to be able to fuck around and continue acting like the 10 year old I basically am mentally, whether at work or at home, I reckon that’s success. But also can’t get past the Ol’ material indicators of success too. House, car, job, family etc

A sassy Swedish feminist

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Success means destroying your opponents. We’re not here to make friends.

I want babies in a beautiful apartment and to be financially stable enough to take them for daily baby chinos in my Sportscraft shirts, chinos and loafers and spend the weekends getting fucked up on red wine whilst my babies are being cared for by the Swedish au pair (because she’s not a white supremacist she wanted me to add that the reason she wants a Swedish au pair is because she wants the baby to be duo lingo).

An angelic Kiwi vagabond

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I think to me it means waking up and going to sleep happy, having goals and a purpose to live for.

My life goal is to live in harmony with the land! Being self sufficient only taking what’s necessary to survive. Always has been – long way off that yet. But you know I’ve achieved some things like not eating animals.

A dreamy Brisbane fairy

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Success to me is that feeling of accomplishment and pure joy after realising you achieved something you were striving for. It fills you with courage and soaring pride. It makes you realise and relish your unlimited potential. It opens you up to the next challenge. Success fuels self-love.

My life goal is to be happy. I believe I’ll achieve this by continuing to grow, change and challenge myself.

A wild and wonderful full time Asia explorer

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Success is that feeling when you look back and realise how far you have come. success is consistently growing and changing as a person and knowing there is no finish line, it is consistent work and passion that isn’t always easy but nothing worth doing is easy.

My life goal is to always be learning and using my knowledge to bring others happiness and enjoyment, no matter what I might be doing, and to always be moving. I like being on the go and doing new things or visiting new places. I want to continue doing it as it keeps me content and happy.

A kind and loving Kiwi healer

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Success is finding love and someone to share life with.

My goal is actually less about my career and more about building a solid life long, committed loving relationship with someone and having babies. If you don’t have a family to share your life with then what do you have. Nothing means a lot if you don’t have someone to go home to.

A fierce and fabulous Pocahontas

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I guess I feel like I’ve achieved some of my dreams, but others I’m still working on (and I’ve certainly failed along the way!).

I am not sure about life goals but the next few years I’m focusing on education and finance so I have a foundation to work on my other dreams, which are more travel and one day starting a family of my own (i’d totally love to take my kids on adventures like living in a caravan or something crazy and whatever). Also, trying to reconnect with my creativity cause I’ve always wanted to write a novel but never taken myself seriously.

I do have two quotes I like that help me out though, can’t remember who said them:

“Ordinary things, done consistently, produce extraordinary results”

“Every accomplishment stars with the decision to try”

A mystifying and sensual lead singer

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I consider success to be doing the things that you are doing well, getting better and better at them by doing them a lot and then having something to show from it; maybe while attempting to maintain a level of sanity without slipping into complete poverty, and being good to others along the way.

My life goal? huge question.

One of them is to have a large and varied body of work.

A bush doof king

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Success? The first word that popped into my head was “happiness”.
The second word was fulfilment.

My goal is to leave a lasting impression on the people around me. That may sound silly from someone who shouts anti establishment because who cares what people think about you. But I do care about the people I love and trust. So that in turn would make me happy, fulfilled and therefore successful.

I think I could write a whole blog about what success means to me. (hmm me too)

A London style cat

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Success to me means: feeling like you have taken yourself to new levels, where you have excelled more than you though you would. Being full, not craving for more all the time because you are finally mentally, emotionally or financially happy and fulfilled.

My life goal is to stay alive, healthy & keep being happy. Influence & inspire however I can. Plus be successful by my definition.

A vintage Goddess

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To me success has never meant wealth, it’s not materialistic, it’s never meant fancy cars, homes, careers or acquiring ‘stuff’. Ugh! Gross! Living a successful life is in kindness, compassion, respect and becoming the best person you can. Always growing.

My life goal is to strive to be the best person I can be while I’m on this planet. Be bold and adventurous while being kind, compassionate, honest and hoping that the people I love feel my love. Oh and to dance… it’s cliche but always dance like nobody is watching.

This guy

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To me, success is recognition. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, but if other people are noticing then you’re probably pretty good at it. You could be the best painter in the world but if you don’t share your art, you’re not making anyone’s life better with it, you might have brightened your living room but where’s the fun in no one enjoying it? Being loved is success.

My life goal is to have a ground floor or first floor converted unit in Melbourne, some plants, a crate bed that I painted, fairy lights. I want a big record collection and someone to enjoy them with. I want to be known within my circle as an excellent cook and host, and I want to feed my huge family around a table outside where everyone helps themselves and we all talk too loud and dance after dinner.

~

In conclusion, I don’t think we can really attribute success to one thing. It’s subjective. If you’ve found what you want in life and you are going after it with all you have, you are on the road to one hell of a fulfilled life.

If you’re fighting some demons on the daily but putting those feet on the floor, one in front of the other, ticking gently on, you’re succeeding.

Good on you.

If you focus on the area that you don’t think you’re succeeding (e.g. me and my finances, lol), and compare yourself to others, but neglect the amazing things you have done (.e.g travel the world), you’re going to be very unhappy. Happiness is success. Be proud of yourself.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t doing well just because you’re focussed on an area that they might not appreciate or value the same, either.

Life is short, do your thang.

Get it, my darling dreamers. I’m proud of you.

Harleigh Q

Xo

Phases of Friendship and the Importance of Kindness

WARNING: Extreme hippie content ✌️

I have met so many incredible men and women. Some of them I wish I could put in my pocket and keep with me forever. Others, we live our lives and come back together with wild stories to share and it’s like no time has passed at all.

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I have all kinds of friendships. Some people I speak to almost every day. Facebook messenger was one of the greatest inventions ever (cheers Mark). We’ll share little bits about our days, from what we had for lunch to how we’re feeling. Sometimes we’ll discuss what books we are reading or our future plans.

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Some of my friends I only communicate with via photo likes until one day one of us will send a long, heart-felt love note to the other. I’m watching you, I’m thinking of you, I’m proud of you.

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My closest friends of all are my family. When I got a message from my sister asking ‘is this your new thing now? You’re going to link everything back to space?’ I could help but laugh out loud. If your family can’t call you out on your bullshit, who will?

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Some people I have met, bonded, taken drunken selfies and shared toilet cubicles with and then never spoken to again. I see their social media updates and they see mine. We both go about our stories, perhaps occasionally smiling when we think back to the time we shared.

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Then, on rare and magical occasion, I have met some people that I feel are a piece of me. There’s a little collection of souls on this planet that I would do anything for. They bring out all the best parts of me, we raise each other up, we care deeply about the goings on in each other’s lives and minds. We click over things like social conscience, music, nature.

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These are the kind of friends with which I’ll eat healthy snacks or wine and cheese, sit on the beach, try acro yoga, spoon, sing at the top of my lungs, or quite simply, do nothing but lie on the ground and watch the stars.

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These people refresh my soul every time I see them. I feel invigorated and excited after our time together. I’m a total ambivert. It completely depends on the person if I’m going to be sociable or not, but these kids are my tribe.

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There’s no talking time limits, no judgement, but there’s also no crap. They call me out when I’m being unreasonable and I do the same. We help each other understand things from another perspective. We just want each other to be the best person we can be. Everyone in the universe deserves a friend like this, and I really hope you all have one.

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Another thing that I have found a constant through my life is the way my connections will ebb and flow like waves. Sometimes, we get busy. Sometimes, we argue. I have gone months without speaking to best friends. I still consider them so, but I think we all go through so much in our lives and change accordingly. It makes sense that we have different needs from different people at different times. When my life is stressful or I’m struggling I need my lovers, when I’m happy and excited I need my party people, when I’m trying to grow I need my inspirations, when I’m down I just need mi famiglia.

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This is a love note to every single one of you. Regardless of which category you fall in to, know that you are always loved and needed. I carry all of you in my heart. I get lonely very easily, and you guys keep my world spinning. If it’s a little message or a like, a kiss on the cheek or a cuddle, it’s always appreciated. Near or far, that connection isn’t going anywhere. We all meet for a reason.

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I’m so thankful for everything I’ve learned from all of you.

Make sure you listen to what the people around you have to say too. There’s a lot of wisdom to be shared. Despite the way it feels sometimes, you’ve got some people who really love you. Let’s bring out the best in each other.

~

Now, moving in to just that, lets talk about the importance of kindness.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating because it really is so important to me.

My favourite thing is when I hear people compliment others when they aren’t around. In a world where people are so full of opinions and walls and anger, it’s such a rare and beautiful thing for someone to take a moment to acknowledge how much they enjoy another person.

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I think most of us forget to give compliments. It’s such a simple act that can make someone’s day. Someone once told me they like the way my eyes wrinkle when I smile. It has completely changed the way I feel about myself. I feel warmth when I see photos of myself with eyes shut and grin wide. That’s a happy girl.

Think about your favourite compliment that someone has given you. Close your eyes and remember how you felt in that moment. You probably still feel that way now. Maybe it made you like something about yourself that you had once been self conscious about. Maybe it gave you something new to be proud of.

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I very rarely say things about people that I wouldn’t say to their face, and I definitely never say anything I don’t mean. I don’t want to encourage fake compliments that are only designed to make you feel good for being nice. I want real deal, from the heart, I love you and I love this about you kindness.

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Please don’t ever be that person who says things they don’t mean. It rots your soul.
This kind of love share doesn’t have to be just verbal either.

If you see someone who you know is an affectionate person looking a little out of place, give them a cuddle or a back tickle. Physical affection is the greatest thing in the world and I think a lot of us are missing it.

It’s hard out there for the single people! We might be most content but we all miss a cuddle on occasion.

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In kindness you will meet the friends I was talking about before; the soul brothers and sisters. One of my best friends in the universe was a mean little bastard in high school, but I saw through it. Now he’s one of the most lovely, interesting and fun people I know. Ten years later.

Don’t be scared to look people in the eye and read what they are thinking, not just what they say. Our defensive nature is a big issue, honestly. Don’t be scared to push down people’s walls.

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However, if you’ve found someone whose difficult to see through, good luck to you. I pride myself on my ability to suss people out and those people still throw me! I blame my Slytherin nature, wanting to adapt to everyone around me to better know how to get them on side…

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Just kidding. Honestly, we’re all the same deep down. If someone recoils at your love and affection it’s got a lot more to do with them than you. They’ve probably been burnt and have become that closed off person that you never want to be.

Some people are scared of affection, some declare you are being ‘clingy’ or ‘too much’. Ohhh the amount of times I’ve felt that door slam. Dude. There’s a lot of us out there who can give love without an intense emotional attachment. But you know what? That’s fine. We’re love bubble beings. If they don’t understand that we just want everyone to feel good, and we probably aren’t going to stalk them and boil their rabbit, they can go about their biz without us.

Don’t ever let them upset your self-esteem, okay? They’re just made of different stuff and their ego is perhaps a little too developed… Don’t ever change. One day you’re going to meet someone who fits your jigsaw bits perfectly and will match your love ten times over. That’s why you can’t let life dim your sparkle!

The moral of this story? Love and be loved. Open yourself up, let the good vibes flow. Be kind. Always.

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Harleigh Q

Xo

Self Care Part 2

This is a reinforcement for the messages I brought up in a previous blog post, Self Love Club.

~

I have been in wallowville the last month. I’m sorry for the neglect. I’ve moved my inner monologue to my diary rather than my blog. Some T does not need to be spilled on here.

The world is spinspinspinning and I’ve been feeling very much behind the curve. I’ve bitten off a lot and set a really high standard for myself and now I feel like I’m drowning a little bit.

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I was thinking back to a few months ago when I was on cloud nine and I’m trying to work out what the main triggers were. One big thing was that I was listening to Nico Tortorella’s ‘The Love Bomb‘ podcast. I was filling my ears with love on a daily basis and it was pouring out of me at the same rate.

Yesterday I picked up my copy of Pamela Des Barres’ memoir ‘I’m With the Band‘ again. I’m starting to feel that old tingle and flood from my chest to the kindred spirit within the vanilla coke stained pages (don’t ever let me borrow your books). Her life is mine, she’s just a bit ahead, a bit wilder and in a much freer environment. I get that same taste, the tendency towards hero worship. Giving and receiving magnetisms. There’s that old fire again!

I was worried it had gone out, because the last few weeks I’ve been retreating further and further in to myself. Sleeping more, doing less, working, drinking, resting, nothing. No health consciousness, no exercise. It’s got me completely and utterly drained. It’s a bit of a jump from my Self Love post. I might love me but I’m not taking care of me.

Humans are so flawed. I don’t think it’s possible for us to click on to something instantly and never have setbacks. You can have all the knowledge and good intentions in the world, but life gets in the way!

That’s why I’m writing this part two.

~

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Self love is all well and good, but it takes a lot. It takes practice. I get mad at myself. I feel like there’s two Leigh’s. There’s the hippy lover with the kindness and the openness and the world at her feet; then there’s crab Leigh. She puts constant pressure on herself, a negative running commentary. She doesn’t want to do things. Incredibly good at justifying, she’s fucking stubborn and she’s mean to me.

It’s a battle. I feel like we all have an inner crab, some are just louder and stronger than others.

Mumma and Papi tell me constantly ‘stop putting so much pressure on yourself‘. I’ve always liked to know which direction I’m heading. I like to have a 2 year plan in place and even though everything changes constantly, I need to convince myself that I’m moving on up. I can’t handle routine and stagnancy. In the same breath though, I don’t seem to like accepting my own achievements. When I do well at work, which to be honest has become a constant, I still don’t accept that it’s my hard work.

Ugh. Why can’t we take ownership of good things? Is it just easier to fail? It’s easier if something does go wrong to be able to shrug and say ‘well it wasn’t me in the first place’. It’s like I’m holding my breath waiting for it all to go to shit. Crab Leigh is chilling in the wings waiting to give me a big fat ‘told you so!’ Fuck that. Maybe I’m just good at my job.

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You’re the only one thinking you aren’t good enough.

The wild thing is, from the outside no one would ever know we feel this way. I am my most honest when I write. I just want to make a difference in someone else if they are feeling the same thing. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of isolation. It’s crazy how quickly things become overwhelming when you stop spending quality time with yourself.

So, how do we turn off these inner killers?

Self care is hard. It’s easier to eat shit, not work out; be tired and stressed. Let it beat you. But then… what do we get out of that? Bugger all is the answer.

Life ends. Don’t let that happen while you’re still breathing.

Do you feel me?

~

I’m going to make a pact with myself and any of you lovers who have been struggling with the same thing. Can we promise to be kindest to ourselves?

If you do good, celebrate it. YOU did it.

If you’re buying lunch, get something green. Tummies like it.

If you’re feeling stressed, take a bath, go for a walk. Nourish your body and your mind will follow.

If you’ve got a day off, don’t sleep all day. This one I’m going to struggle with most!

Imagine you’re a plant or a pupper. You need just as much love, care and attention. Pupper Leigh needs a daily walk or run and nutritional value in her food. Look I know I’m weird but it works for me, and I know you guys are weird too so get on board.

Stress has a choke hold on me at the moment and I’m tired of it. I’m tired tired tired. I just want to be refreshed, excited and happy like some of the incredible girls on my news feed living their truths. No, no one can be happy 100% of the time and I know we all only show the highlights (unless some of you caught my not so hilarious meltdown over missing my flight), BUT we can all take steps out of the darkness.

Let your conscious mind rule you instead of the inner killer. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing. I’m going to try to make more of an effort to do it. Sleep when you’re dead and all that jazz; except Sunday which is going to remain do nothing day.

Also, I’m going to stop drinking as much. Simple as. It’s yummy, but it’s expensive and it’s not helping.

Most importantly: The hard work really does come back around. Bite off more than you think you can chew! You’ll be surprised how much you can handle. I was. Now I get to host agents in my favourite destinations, I get people calling and asking for me. Way to make a girl feel special. Yes it’s hard, but it’s so so worth it.

I really hope there won’t need to be a part 3. I’ve got some big adventures ahead (in one month to be exact) and I want to be sound of mind and heart for my travels. I’ve earned that from myself. I deserve a break and pure enjoyment. So do we all.

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~

Just a little reminder that this isn’t about the number on the scales. This is about mental health. It’s far more important.

We need to keep addressing it.

If you’re struggling, reach out. I’m learning to and it does help, I promise. Even if this post doesn’t change anything, you aren’t alone.

I may have a bit of a cool girl persona (I can hear those of you who know me well scoffing at that), but I will always be open and honest with you guys on here. I’m bloody kidding myself if I ever think I could pull off mysterious. It just ain’t me, and I still seem to attract the rad kind. You do you.

Final note, everyone please watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I watched it in a day. It brought a lot of things to head for me and I hope it can help you guys too. It is an incredible and important show.

Be strong, be bold, be unapologetic but most of all: be kind.

Harleigh Q

Xo

You Do You

Today I wanna penetrate the skin. I want to talk about who we are on the inside. I want to discuss authenticity. Let’s talk about the power of being a weirdo.

Tell me if you feel me here, but do you guys ever find yourself surrounded by perfectly nice people having a perfectly nice time, but feel kind of.. on the outside?

Some of you might relate to this in the form of when you return from travels, or move to a new places, start a new job, spend time with old friends who aren’t on your level, meet friends of friends that you really aren’t digging.

I don’t know why it happens, and it genuinely does suck when you like people but you just don’t feel yourself around them. It’s probably the reason so many people prefer their own company; they find it hard to vibe with people.

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I’m just here to remind you guys, and myself, that the world is absolutely full of angels. They will come to you in all forms. They will shine bright, and they will pull you up to their level. They will love you, all of you, just as you are. They won’t let you flat-line. They want to see you succeed.

~

A couple of weeks ago I spent a two hour car ride with two ladies, one I’d never met before and another who is quickly becoming one of my favourite people. We spoke deeply about our experiences and what makes us tick. I was so in awe of these gorgeous, authentic ladies and their openness. I know I’m an open person, I feel no shame in it. I love it when people say things to me like ‘you’re very honest, aren’t you?’ Why yes I am, and it’s attracted some pretty incredible people and experiences in to my life. Being vulnerable is so powerful guys. Sadly, I rarely find people who are the same.

When I told the girls this we came to the conclusion that sometimes with certain people, you feel like you need to dim your sparkle. You don’t want to shine too bright, talk to much, be too interesting; you don’t want to come across as an arrogant asshole to put it bluntly. If that same person still expects you to listen to the ins and outs of their mind, they aren’t loving you the way they should.

You know what I loved the most about the time I spent with those ladies? They made me love myself more.

So choose your tribe wisely.

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Something I think gets taken for granted a lot these days though is the beauty of authenticity.

There are so many people that try so hard all day every day to fit an ‘ideal’. They mold themselves around celebrities, the people around them… is it for acceptance? A sheep in a herd of others all following the same script. Where is the realness in that though?

When I was 11 a new girl joined my primary school. It was our final year and she was called Caitlin. I had never met anyone cooler in my whole life.

She is my first memory of falling in love with someone’s spirit. At that young age she had the kind of calm confidence that girls in their early 20s dream of. She was from a military family, had a strong southern accent and had been to a lot of schools. She introduced us to songs that were trending in London, games those kids would play, but overall, she was just so real.

She didn’t seek other people’s acceptance because she already had her own. I used to love our sleepovers where we’d discuss her old schools, what she thought of the kids at ours. Every boy had a crush on her because of her chilled out aura. I was fascinated.

I have no idea what she’d be doing these days, but I’ll bet she’s killing it.

As I’ve gotten older I have realised the most attractive thing about people is a quiet confidence. Never questioning themselves, just being.

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When you know who you are, what you like and what you want from life, it’s quite intoxicating. So many people spend their whole lives seeking out people to tell them what to do and how to be. I made a decision to never, ever do that again.

I remember being mortified when new friends discovered my extensive manga collection, and even worse when my passion was referred to as ‘weird’. I used to buy trendy clothes and talk about people instead of events or ideas. I would like bands because the people around me liked them. I’d go to nightclubs for the same reason.

I no longer recognise that person. The only approval I want is my own.

I don’t know if most people realise this, but we are completely in control of our own personalities. If there is something that you don’t like about yourself, it is within your power to change it; be it recurring negativity or a snappy way you speak when you’re tired. Sometimes it’s a judgmental thought train. I’m talking about negative personality traits here, don’t change your loud laugh or goofy smile. Those things make you you.

If you’re shy, though, and think that it’s holding you back in life, don’t let yourself use that as an excuse. I have been incredibly shy for the vast majority of my life (I’m talking crippling, physically ill and shaking level of anxiety every single time I had to go somewhere new or meet someone I didn’t know very well), but I trained it out by throwing myself in to the unknown at every opportunity. I quickly realised I wasn’t going to die if I diverted from my safe routine. It’s a heavy topic I’ll probably write about in more detail one day, and please don’t think I’m downplaying anyone’s struggle, but I really do know what I’m talking about with this one. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.

You can craft yourself in to to being a person that you would fall in love with. It’s powerful to choose that path. It’s important.

I hope it doesn’t always take earth shattering events for humans to change their ways, but for me that was when I decided all I wanted in life was to become my most authentic self.

I took away the shame I felt for not fitting in and just started being me.

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I proudly discuss my love of graphic novels, pop culture and small Aussie bands. It’s an amazing way to connect with people that are on your wavelength. You wouldn’t find them if you weren’t being you.

A mod, a hippy, a pinup, a groupie, a lover, a groover, a woman, a Goddess.

The moral of the story my babes, is that not everyone is going to like you; but some people will simply adore you. Surround yourself with people who tell you so, and don’t worry about the rest. Be happy in yourself. They aren’t meant to be part of your story.

It’s better to be alone and content than surrounded by people who make you feel lonely.

Vibe baby vibe. You’re perfect, just as you are.

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Your friend forever

Harleigh Q

xo

Self Love Club

I was 15 when I decided I didn’t like my body.

I’d never thought much about it before. I grew up playing football (English) and dancing so I was very fit. I’ve always enjoyed a good chocolate bar or packet of crisps. No biggie pre-puberty!

Then I got my little soft tummy and my hips came in. I was so uncomfortable. I’d hide in my over-sized uniform and never draw attention to myself. I honestly don’t know a girl who didn’t feel this way at some point.

Boys started becoming a concern. I had two very long and heavy crushes on boys in my high school. One of them I see occasionally on the train now (Mexican boy for those playing along at home). The other got wind of my affections and decided he would pretend to like me, then as he got off the school bus, would tell me he actually hated me. One of my girls found out about his plan through a mutual friend and proceeded to berate him in front of everyone. Queen.

Ahhh school. I don’t miss you in the slightest.

Moving swiftly on, none of this does much for a girl’s self esteem. Especially when you’re a codependent little book worm with a passion for anime and YouTube videos. Thank God
I grew out of that phase! (Hah)

To be completely honest, and I don’t need to go in to detail with this, I have struggled with disordered eating for a very long time. It’s something I still battle on a daily basis, one extreme to the other.

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I have a weakness for instant gratification over long term goals in every aspect of my life. It’s fun, until there’s consequences; be it money, men or pizza.

~

I have always cared far too much what other people think of me, and that’s really impacted the way I behave as an adult. It’s only in the last couple of years that I have stopped doing things because people want me to; I have started doing things because I want to. My happiness is the priority. So it should be,when you’re young, free and single. You’ve got the rest of your life to take care of partners/babies/families and only a limited time for you.

In turn, I am slowly but surely trying to change the way my mind works when it comes to my body. I’m quite tired of punishing myself for not fitting in to an ‘ideal’. Whose ideal is it anyway? It’s not even mine. I have hips. I’m never going to look like Twiggy. I can still be a mod icon!

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Do you feel me brothers and sisters?

It’s ingrained in us to desire what we don’t have. That doesn’t mean that what we have isn’t desirable.

I had a really interesting conversation with a couple of my beautiful friends last weekend. As we relaxed on the veranda of an old pub in Eumundi at 7am, we discussed whether we thought it was harder these days for males or females when it comes to living up to the media’s depiction of attractiveness. I love getting the male perspective on these things.

One sat on one side, one on the other. I personally think it’s equally hard for both. Skinny guys are constantly bombarded with images of body builders the same way girls are with tiny models or curvaceous sex symbols. You can’t be all things to all people.

I think it’s a matter of preference. We are all attracted to different things.

I don’t like muscles in men (except for that really intense, slightly creepy thing I have for Sly). I’m too vividly reminded of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an angry rant because someone chose not to get up early and work out. That, of course, wasn’t my fault. I’m not a big trainer. I don’t want to be with someone who is. I love men with soft tums or slimness. Tattoos are great. I want someone who will eat pizza and stay in bed all day; someone I can exchange music with. I find thick dark hair, a great smile, intense eyes and deep conversations irresistible.

We’re all shallow in our own way. There’s nothing wrong with preference, and there’s people out there who think you are 10/10 perfection just the way you are too (I hope you’re one of them). Never forget that. You are someone’s thing. There’s your happy thought for the day.

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~

I bought a size 14 skirt (shock horror!) because I’m tired of feeling uncomfortable in my cute little minnies when I’m lounging. I wanted something comfy for the hours upon hours I’ll be spending on a bus on my next adventure.

That’s two whole sizes bigger than I was this time last year. That’s 4 inches. I have gained 4 whole massive inches around my hips. I’ve also gained a feeling of self worth, travelled America and Thailand, moved interstate again, become one of the top consultants in my field and ate a ridiculous amount of pizza.

But, you know, God forbid 4 inches.

I’m tired of thinking I’m unhappy with my body. Why? We only get one, just like we only get one life. I don’t want to spend mine counting calories and obsessing over food like I have for years. I just want to be happy, and love myself the same way I love you guys.

Can we make a pact?

Look in the mirror and find the things you love about yourself. For me it’s my incredible boobs (duh) and wee waist. I enjoy my hips and poot – aka little tummy; thanks Joey for the excellent word. Remember that this is the way other people look at you. Only you focus on the negatives. We are our own biggest critics.

Now let yourself love. Smile, gently caress the bits (oo-er) and take a moment to be proud. We’re alive, in tact, whole and healthy. Life is good. We are great. Have a boogie.

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Mummas, your tiger stripes are sexy as fuck, you warriors. Fellow mermaid thigh bellas, your cellulite is beautiful. If Mischa Barton has it I’ll take two.

The more you love yourself, the more other people can love you.

~

This brings me to the final part of this little post. The Self Loath Club.

Please, please remember my darlings that negativity always comes from unhappiness. If you have someone in your life who points out your ‘flaws’ (there’s no such thing unless you smell like eggs) or negs you out, it’s because they’re unhappy.

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I don’t know a single happy girl who does this.

I know several insecure ones who do.

It’s horrible, and commenting on other people goes completely against my polite English nature, but it happens a lot. If you find yourself thinking negatively about someone else, question where it’s coming from.

As strong ladies I think it’s our job to change this culture.

I’m the biggest coward in the universe, except when it comes to shutting down dick heads in bars, but if you find someone is negging you please call them out on it! Do not let it penetrate your shield. Stay firm and glow with self love, and do not take their words on board. They’re only saying it to make themselves feel better. That’s really sad, isn’t it?

If it’s a dude/chick/person of the non gender you dig negging you just tell them to fuck the fuck off.

I love you babies.

Thanks for reading.

You’re welcome for the Joe gifs. Though you probably preferred the Franco one.

Harleigh Q

Xoxo

P.S. Re-reading this post, I reference pizza a lot. Mi piace.

Bohemianism and the Art of Love

The last month or so I feel like I’ve been living in a love bubble. I made a choice to come out of my shell again and open my heart to people here in Perth. I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled at the curves, instead of frowning. I decided I wanted to radiate that same warmth I found while driving across America. I wanted my pure adoration of other human beings to paint a smile on my face and it hasn’t left me.

Since I made that choice, I’ve been taking care of my body more; daily yoga and runs, less binging or extreme control when it comes to food and more balance. I’ve taken time to find beautiful music I connect with, I’ve been practicing my piano every day. I’ve found my flair for writing has returned.

I don’t like being vulnerable just as much as the next person, and it can be really hard when you spend a lot of your time in a stressful or negative environment to not let in engulf you. It’s true though, you cannot see the light unless you push through the darkness. 

With my reemerging confidence I’ve managed to connect with the people I care about more too. My nephew finally kicked for me! I have happily and openly conversed with strangers and stayed out until sunrise by myself when my ladies got tired because I wasn’t quite done vibing. I’ve met new friends this way, spent the afternoon at the movies with them or a new coffee shop.

I had a complete epiphany the other day when I stood in the unfamiliar hallway of a new art gallery/coffee shop in Freo, a place I rarely venture. As I waited to greet a friend of a friend who I had barely met before, I didn’t feel nervous. I was completely calm, smiling at the pretty posters on the walls. Of course she turned out to be amazing, but for someone who has had anxiety issues since very young, this was… massive. I have officially pushed myself to the point where I no longer fear the unknown. It’s doable guys. It’s fucking doable.

Tying in to my recent developments, I’ve been doing some research in to exactly what it is I stand for and if there’s a word for the kind of lifestyle I’m living. It’s not very square, but it would be great to meet some others who share the same ideals.

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I have felt like a penniless writer in vintage Montmartre pretty constantly lately; all bright eyed, emotional, open and excited.

Do you believe in freedom, beauty, truth and love?

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

Thanks Wikipedia!

As some of you may noticed I’ve been switching my brand up a little, slowly but surely. My end goal is to be the most authentic, free and open human being I can. The ideologies I follow can be summed up perfectly by the above paragraph.

I’d heard of the Bohemian revolution before but it wasn’t until the tender age of 11 that I was truly able to comprehend the amazing things those people stood for and just how much I identified with it.

It’s all thanks to a wee masterpiece called Moulin Rouge.

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Oh man Baz really is my spirit animal.

It’s not a fashion trend; to me it’s a life. It’s a way of being. Penny Lane is a perfect example. She’s a seeker of beauty and truth, an adventurer, a vagabond.

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I am so in love with the idea of love without restraints. Life can be lived without a path in place. We can just make our way down, weaving through obstacles and connecting with people in shared experiences along the way.

I don’t know if I can live my most authentic life in Perth. Not for a while. Adventure always seems to happen away from home, for me. Home represents safety and love and so much happiness, but my wild days are only just beginning.

As dad said to me recently, ‘If you were a 70s kid, you’d be in a cult wouldn’t you?’

Most likely some hippy commune. I like to think it wouldn’t be Manson’s or the COG. I’m quite confident there were many tribes that weren’t quite so fucked.

I never feel more at home than when on the road. Sitting on an aeroplane is the birth of a new story and I always feel so content in that moment. There’s no where else I’d rather be. I’m sure my fellow wanderers are smiling away as they read this.

I’m looking forward to my next feat. Mid May I will be hopping through Singapore and Zurich to the great city of Roma. There I will meet my gorgeous Swiss angel Martina, and we will galavant through the south of Italy for two weeks, ending up in Athens.

I have been fascinated with Greek Mythology since I was a baby nerd (now I’m a big one) so the thought of entering the Parthenon, the temple of the great goddess Athena, takes my breath away.

After my little Eurotrip I’ll be jetting solo to the land of dreams, USA. LA to LA, 54 days, one mad adventure with a whole new Contiki fam. On this loop I’ll be revisiting some old favourites (Dallas, Vegas, Memphis, NOLA, Orlando…) and exploring loads of new places. I get to turn 26 in Quebec City. Bon anniversaire!

I want to try and carry this spirit with me; this openness. It’s so freeing. Suddenly I’m not worrying about people’s opinions of me because I’ve allowed myself to acknowledge that I have achieved a lot, I have so much love around me and, to quote one of my favourite goddesses, Kaitlin: your vibe attracts your tribe! It’s a really hard thing to learn to do, and we all slip sometimes, but I think giving yourself the time and care you need is vital.

Self care looks different to everyone. For me, it’s not weighing myself, not staying in bed the entire day watching Netflix (just most of it), waking up at 5.30am so I have time for my coffee and yoga, and persuing my creative outlets. I need to write, draw, read my comics and books, play my piano, listen to my records, watch some anime.

Do things that make your soul smile. 

Live by the great philosophies of freedom, beauty, truth and love.

I think it’s incredible that we are on the cusp of another revolution. Women are banding together, men are coming to fight with us. People want to know what’s happening in the world, they want positivity and change. I am so proud to be a part of it, right here and now.

I will always try to understand the world around me and question things, without judgement. I care about the people and things around me so much. I’m going to stop thinking that’s a bad thing and fucking embrace it. One more kind human is never a bad thing, and thank you gorgeous friends for also being the kind of people we need in this world; open, honest, fun and fucking woke! You guys rock.

Anyone fancy joining my tribe? Send me a message. I’m always up for a coffee (alcohol) and chats about the universe.

Now, let’s go a little deeper.

Another artist I am so connected with at the moment is Nico Tortorella. My most recent post was about him.

I wanted to explore his methods more by interviewing myself in the style of his incredible podcast, The Love Bomb. I’m honestly obsessed guys. If his cute laugh and amazing poetry doesn’t do it for you I don’t know what will. So here it is:

What was your first experience of love?

Without a doubt the love of my family. Sometimes I feel like we have a bubble around us. I’ve never met a tighter familial unit than ours.

It probably started with moving to Australia. When I was 14, thanks to the incredible hard work and dreams of my parents, we packed up our lovely little home in York, England and flew across the world. We had never been to Australia before. Do you think that’s where my wild side comes from? I’d say definitely. Since I was a wee baba dad had been talking about moving to Australia, and with more of our friends doing it and his trade coming up on the wanted list, the timing was right. It took us two years and a lot of meticulous planning, documenting and typing. I remember getting an AIDS test at the tender age of 13. It’s no easy feat, moving to Aussie land. Immigrant and proud.

Flash forward to us all huddling around a store bought gas fire in a huge rental house that backed on to the golf course. We landed in July 2005. It was cold, even by our northerner standards. The houses here have high ceiling and tile floors. We swam in the pool with the golf balls by day, and put the oven on with the door open at night. We watched Home and Away. Finn died of skin cancer.

In the next six months we went from being a close family to a united front; a tiny clan. We needed each other. Dad tried new work, mum created a new home, Kelsie and I started new schools. Everything was foreign and terrifying. Friends were friends out of convenience, not connection. We were us. My Yorkshire/Geordie twang quickly reflected the Australian dialect around me through regular ridicule and a desire to be understood. Though, if you hear me talking to anyone from home now, it’s still my natural tounge. Aussie is pure acting  😉.

We met our best friends to this day when they moved in across the road. God bless my dad for being such a friendly soul. We moved in to a rental more suited to our needs and got a beautiful Rottweiler named Rio. My baby sister changed school and gained 110% happiness. I moved in to year 10 and met the girls who would heavily influence the woman I am today. Always, there was home. There was mum, dad and Kelsie. My family. La famiglia. The loves of my life. I don’t want to think about the person I would be without them, because they are everything; they always will be. Roots and wings.

Have you ever been in romantic love?

As I have gotten older I have questioned this more and more. My answer is no.

I don’t believe I have ever been in love with another human being in a balanced, true, mutual and romantic capacity. I think young love is an infatuation. Just because you are willing to do anything for someone doesn’t mean you love them; that’s just a giving nature. If you condition yourself in time to love things about someone that you have never liked or enjoyed before, that is loyalty. If someone tries to change you, put you down, control you or place negativity on you in any way, that is not love.

I have loved many, many people since then. I have spent an hour with strangers and fallen in love with their soul. Some people have the most intoxicating spirits. I love people who are passionate, kind and in tune with the world around them. I love people who give a shit. I love people who will have intellectual conversations with me about politics and space. I love people who will say kind things about other people when they aren’t there. I love people with compassion and empathy. I love people who love travel.

Romantic love is incredible, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. The most important love to me is what I share with the people around me, and myself. I struggle with negativity; it’s like a poison that seeps in to the air and chokes the goodness out of a room. That’s why I want to surround myself with souls I connect with. It’s why I love to travel so much. I want an open mind and an open heart. As Nico says, I’m a student of the world.

So you identify as… I love everyone.

What is love?

To me, it’s when you look at someone and the world slows down. Everything else is irrelevant, because this person is here and they are spectacular. I love a lot of people. I think I understand love on a pretty deep level. I believe it’s unconditional. To love someone is to accept them exactly as they are, and enjoy any way in which they grow and change and be proud of them. Always be proud. You have to love someone as a complete being. That is why I completely and wholeheartedly believe that you cannot know real, deep and true love until you honestly love yourself. Beauty isn’t love. Admiration isn’t love. To me, love is when just feeling someone’s presence calms your entire body. If you can smile just knowing they are near, and feel a warmth in your chest when you know they are happy. Absorbing every moment together but appreciating the time apart, because it’s necessary to keep your sense of self strong. In essence, love is the complete appreciation of another human being, just as they are; wanting their happiness, sometimes above your own.

To my fellow Bohemians,

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Harleigh Q

Xoxo

What’s Love Got to Do With it?

I wholeheartedly, from the bottom of my soul believe in love.

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.

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In all seriousness though, love consumes my every thought and feeling all day every day. I truly, deeply feel the warmth in my chest when I communicate with my friends, family or chat my passion with my agents. I smile when I see outfits I like and take a deep breath every time I hear someone speak in a way I vibe with.

My parents are also a prime example of a great love story, 34 years strong.

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It’s because of all of this that I was super excited when I came across Nico Tortorella’s podcast ‘The Love Bomb‘. I’ve been following him for a little while; I still remember greatly enjoying his fleeting appearances in Make it or Break it, an old favourite show in my household. He regular posts his podcasts on Instagram and I had continuously forgotten to go back and listen when I had the time, until tonight.

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I’ve known about and enjoyed his sexual fluidity, soberness and artistic expression. I think he’s a fascinating human; so when I hit play on the first of his stories, with him interviewing the unlabelled love of his life, I was expecting magic.

What I didn’t expect was two people I’m really intrigued by professing their love for each other and giggling bashfully, while maintaining that they don’t believe in monogamy and stating they regularly date other people who come in to their lives without thought or consideration.

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I was speechless.

I consider myself progressive, and in saying that I know I don’t have to understand the way other people are, I just need to accept it. However, they just completely shook everything I believe in.

I know not everyone spends their life looking for love, and not everyone wants to spend their life with one person, but if you find a person that you really, deeply love, why wouldn’t you want to be monogamous?

Their point was that they don’t believe you can get everything you need emotionally and physically from one person. Now, I don’t disagree with that, but that’s why my current standing is to stay single for as long as I need to gain and learn as much as I can from lots of different people until one day I meet someone and… it clicks.

I watched a gorgeous little video the other day by a man who had a clear and simple message: if you aren’t ready to spend you life making someone else happy, don’t be in a relationship. 

My sentiments exactly. There’s no greater feeling in the world than making someone happy, when you are both giving equally, but until you’re ready for selflessness there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being solo, selfish and fucking fabulous.

But… Nico and Bethany have known each other for ten years. She openly admitted she’d like to have children with him one day. They do spend their lives making each other happy. They’re dating other people though.

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I don’t know if I’m old fashioned, possessive or just a true romantic but the thought that the person I have chosen, who I can see sitting next to me when I’m 90 and covered in wrinkly tattoos, might not want only me… that is just incomprehensible to me. In fact, it makes me feel sick.

I would rather be completely single and emotionally unattached and just have my friend, family and universal love, and not give myself to that person in any way at all. I have been there, and it feels like your insides are being torn apart slowly and excruciatingly over a very long time. I never, ever want to feel that again. I don’t want anyone to ever feel that. It’s mourning. It’s the fucking worst. (That was a shit person too! I can only imagine how it would feel with a real soul mate.)

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How come they don’t feel that? They discussed that it has been uncomfortable in the past, then Nico stated that he just isn’t a jealous person. But, neither am I! If someone want someone else that is fine by me, but I can’t let that person keep a part of me. That’s just not fair, is it? Or is that just the full blown commitmentphobe in me looking for an out?

They both clearly love love, and each other (I’m not suggesting for a second that they don’t), but maybe their love is different to my kind of love. When it comes to romantic love… I just can’t share. That is so sacred to me. Perhaps that means I’m going to be flying solo for a long time yet, and honestly as long as I keep creating these amazing stories and fulfilling connections with fellow humans, that’s okay with me. I have faith, most of the time. I just can’t handle hurting or being hurt. My walls are sooooo up. It’s sad sometimes, being alone, but there’s truly little else worse than being hurt by someone you have given your heart to.

People really are fastinating. As long as no one is hurting anyone, it’s all just ebbing and flowing I guess!

My summary of this whole thing, and I guess what really scares me about this beautiful, hippy generation of mine: have we become so cynical that we no longer allow ourselves to truly commit to one person? Divorce rates are high. I see relationships all around me constantly, but you can tell the ones who are together because they fell in to it, or because they just don’t want to be alone, and which ones are built to last.

Nothing can last if you both don’t want it more than anything else though.

Love isn’t easy, but spending your whole life alone isn’t either. I hope one day I find someone on my love wavelength. Realistically, you won’t always like each other, but you should always, always love. Most importantly: don’t sacrifice your dreams, find someone who shares them.

Come on Millenials, don’t let me down.

Lover of everything, except polyamory,

Harleigh Q

xo

P.S. I highly recommend you guys check out this amazing podcast. When I get over this one, I’ll be binging the rest. I love having my opinions challenged and mind opened.

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P.P.S. If you’re more of a visual creature you can enjoy Nico on Younger, a wickedly clever and funny show on Stan. If you like Sex and the City, you’ll love it.