The Millennial Crisis

HarleighQ is back, baby! I hope you didn’t miss my love-filled rambles too much. I came to the realisation that something has been missing in my life, and although I don’t always take myself seriously as a writer, this thing is my baby! I have been throwing myself in to my fiction (we’re about 10 chapters in to my yet untitled epic) but my baby needs to be nurtured. As do I.

Which brings me to the topic at hand… the Millennial Crisis.

Welcome to the beginning of a series I’m going to call ‘First World Problems’ where I will unashamedly discuss things that are petty but relevant to my generation, because we all deserve to be heard, and we all need to know we aren’t alone.

Our government rarely listens to us, we’re struggling financially, we don’t know what we want to do with our lives, our love life is a shambles, our mental health is struggling, our friends are just as fucked up as we are or they’re already married with kids. There’s constant pressure to work out our future, have savings, be loved by everyone, settle down and appreciate how ‘good’ we have it. Fucking hell. Hello quarter life crisis. My name is Leigh and I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m sure I’m not alone in expressing my guilt when it comes to how overwhelmed I feel. I often sit and reflect on how it was for our parents’ generation, and their parents. They didn’t have the freedom we do, the endless opportunities when it comes to careers and following our dreams. They were ruled by obligation and inherent sexism. We are so lucky! We are so privileged! Yet why do so many of us feel like we are swimming upstream, mere seconds from drowning?

I think it comes down to the simple fact that we want happiness to be a constant, not a fleeting memory. Every human on this planet deserves happiness. Otherwise, what’s the point? Just because it’s taken until now for us to practically be able to pursue this mentality doesn’t mean that we’re wrong, or dumb, or dreamers. We’ve just finally come to terms with how short life is and how important it is to live it to the fullest. Why shouldn’t we spend it smiling and choosing not to hurt anyone in the process?

What’s my crisis? Take a seat friends.

I am a dramatic person. I will own that. But I also struggle with quite severe anxiety. It’s come on as a mixture of things in my life, a combination of genetics and experiences I’m sure. Sometimes I don’t know where to draw the line between my dramatics and an actual genuine feeling of being overwhelmed by life. Then I start to feel tremendously bad. I have the most incredible family, and career wise I am totally sorted. But you know what? Everything else is a struggle! I’m allowed to admit that. At the moment, it really is.

I travelled so much in the last couple of years with little regard for future Leigh, and now I’m paying for it. It was so worth it at the time, but now my life is on hold while I move home to do damage control. Yeah that’s right, most of my issues are totally self inflicted!

Let’s not even get started on my love life. There’s a reason I declared myself Millennial Bridget Jones on Facebook the other day. I am well and truly stuck in Daniel Cleaver faze. Honestly? I don’t deserve any better either. I’m not ready.

I’m pretty lonely, living in quite an isolated suburb in an isolated city spending more time with myself than anyone else. I’m an extrovert. I drive myself and my family crazy after a while. I really am a lot. I start fixating on things like the news as a mental escape which only drives me more mental.

I feel guilty when I don’t believe all of the claims in the #metoo movement pinpointing men in Hollywood, my heart bleeds for my American friends dealing with a tyrant like Trump. I want to cry because our government wasted billions of dollars humiliating my friends in the queer community just to prove a point, and the reef is dying, as are the people abandoned on Nauru. There are so many things swirling around my mind at all times that sometimes I wish I could revert back to childhood, when my only worry was if my bike chain fell off. Even then, I knew how to fix it.

None of this is a poor me, or a poor us. But if we don’t change this mentality of ‘you don’t know how good you’ve got it’ whenever people bring up mental health issues, we’re going to go backwards. We have come so far from that toughen up mentality. Let’s keep moving.

We are such a powerful, caring, socially conscious generation. I’m writing this post to remind my beautiful friends that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. We are just trying to do our best, and make the world a better place as we go. That weighs really fucking heavy sometimes. We are trying to reverse decades worth of damage. We have to remind ourself and our peers daily that it’s okay to be who you are. You don’t have to hide anymore. You don’t have to feel ashamed; be it your sexuality, mental health, gender identity, kinks, dreams, stupid financial decisions, putting travel before your career or vice versa.

You don’t have to be strong and closed off. Openness is beautiful. It’s not dangerous to let people in, to wear your heart on your sleeve, to stand up for what you believe in. It’s okay to be kind, honest, sweet. Getting hurt is a part of life. Pick yourself up, dust off, and let them all back in again. If you need help with that, I’m always here with advice. I don’t follow my own, naturally. I’ve got lots of love to give though!

Pain is relative. I have nervy b’s every few days and you know what? I’m going to stop beating myself up over my sensitivity. I have pretty valid reasons to be upset most of the time, and just because I’m privileged doesn’t mean I can’t cry. We all need to cry it out sometimes.

We don’t have to know what we’re doing, or where we’re going. We just need to be kind, listen to our hearts, surround ourselves with supportive people and the rest will follow.

I love you all so much. Never feel like your feelings aren’t valid. Life is a roller coaster, baby. It’s better to feel the highs and the lows than nothing at all.

Some people may call us weak, but you know what? I’d rather be weak than an asshole.

I hope a few of my fellow crisis kids feel a little better after reading this. I promise, you aren’t alone. It’s going to be okay.

Harleigh Q

Xo

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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

#LifeGoals.

 

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Today, as we do every day, Nat and I were chatting about life.

I told her I see her as #lifegoals. She has a beautiful little family and her home is incredible. Like, seriously. Ocean views from her living room. Wellington is a cold little dream.

Her response was ‘you don’t want to rush it my love!‘.

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I love my Nat. We are on the same wave length. She has travelled extensively to some of the most mind blowing destinations. She’s a real traveller as I like to say. Off the grid, a proper backpacker. She’s been completely solo and her stories are my favourite. I will not repeat, they aren’t my stories to tell. But, one day, I’ll have lots of my own!

 

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I’ve decided what my life goal is. It’s pretty simple and it’s pretty awesome.

I want to have lots of stories to tell, and I want to use them to inspire other people to pursue their travel dreams too. 

Of course I want the normal things too. One day I’ll (hopefully) meet a wonderful man who shares my passions, have my own big, loud woggy family who loves to sing and dance and laugh and eat just like mine. I dream of us all sitting around a big table with wine and curry and chatting about our days with some classic tunes on the turntable.

I know I’ll have that one day. But I’m in no hurry. I know it’ll take someone really special to keep up with my itchy feet and mad family (love yous! But you are mental!) and I won’t settle for less than someone who adores me and them just as much as I do.

 

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As per our discussion, here are some of mine and Nat’s favourite things about travel:

  • Watching sunsets and sunrises
  • Tasting truly good local food
  • Being nervous in big unfamiliar train stations
  • Sitting on your bed in a new hostel
  • Making eye contact with strangers and smiling
  • Kissing a foreigner
  • Getting lost in big cities
  • Drinking chai lattes and people watching
  • Reading in the airport
  • Trying to speak another language
  • Swapping stories with fellow travellers
  • Singalongs in hostels with the wankey guitar guy (we hate to love him)

Work is work and thankfully we fell in to an industry that will always be there, and we work really hard so that we know our jobs are secure for when we come back  (what a blessing!) but the best bits of life are definitely the in between bits; the bits where your mind isn’t anywhere else. You are completely in the moment, watching whats going on around you, and just being.

 

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I hope everyone gets to experience the things on our little list at some point. For me, they are what makes life worth living. It’s so freeing to be completely alone and present. I’d never known that feeling before until Europe 2012. I was so excited the entire time, not knowing what’s going to happen next. Routine is great, but it’s not for me.

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Here are a couple of travel stories I’ve accumulated so far!

  • Probably my favourite ever backpacker memory is from when I was travelling Europe in 2012. By the time we reached Berlin we’d been on the road for about 5 weeks. The hostel we stayed in was absolutely gorgeous. We walked in to a room with wood panelled floor and walls and the highest ceiling I’ve ever seen. The window was open to let in the breeze (it was a warm 35 degrees in Berlin that day!). As I unpacked my backpack I heard a gloriously familiar sound float up to our room. Australian accents; multiple Australian accents. I clambered on the bed to get a better view and spotted three bodies hanging in the courtyard. They didn’t appear to know each other and were giving introductions. ‘We’re in!’ We chorused and leapt down stairs as quickly as possible to introduce ourselves to a little slice of home. We met three lovely people that afternoon. I still have all three on Facebook. As much as I adore the anonymity of travel, there’s nothing more heart warming than that little piece of familiarity. We chatted a while and with 1 euro bottles of sangria on the go I can honestly say most of that afternoon was a blur. My all time favourite memory though? A beautifully bohemian young fellow with his accoustic guitar had set himself up in the corner of the common room. He started strumming and before long the entire room had erupted in to the chorus of ‘Piano Man’. To this day, still one of my favourite songs. How cliche and fabulous.

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  • Now you have all heard my Craig Anderson story (if not, see my post ‘the greatest trip of my life so far!’), but that trip was full of brilliant little adventures. One that comes to mind as the most stand out evening would have to be ‘Swag Night’. I’m a sucker for an accoustic. After an expertly cooked up dinner, we found ourselves huddled around a camp fire drinking wine from classy plastic glasses, wearing UGGs and every layer of clothing we owned. Shorty pulled out his guitar and after the beautiful Frenchman played us a slightly painful set, complete with clackers, we were treated to the old faithful ‘It’s Business Time’ by Flight of the Concords. A few originals too! Only to be topped off by the coolest night of my life. Literally. I got to sleep in a swag in the middle of the bush, the sky littered with more stars than I’ve ever seen. Tick her off the bucket list. It was heaven. Summer would have been better however…. I think attempting to roll up the swag in my PJs and getting lost in the dark on our way to the toilets was another highlight of the experience. Oh Lea 2 how do I manage without your keen sense of direction and tiny bladder.

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  • I’ll regale you with one final tale. This one goes out to fair Italia. In Verona I stayed in a stunning bed and breakfast, which was more like your idea of the most perfect Italian apartment of all time. It was big, classically decorated and more importantly, the kitchen table was littered with delicious food. You cannot beat that Italian hospitality. Upon arrival our host let us know that some Americans were also staying up the hallway from us. That evening we found them playing card games in the kitchen. This turned to drinking card games and 4am chats about politics. The next morning we all rose feeling a little worse for wear and decided to abandon previous plans and, upon our beautiful hosts advise, we caught the train out to lake Garda. Always listen to the locals! We made it, after getting off on the wrong stop and catching a rather expensive taxi, to a stunning ancient village. A castle sat perfectly content in what appeared to be the ocean (nope, just a really big lake). The place smelled like fresh baked goods and roses with a hint of salt in the air. Once we spotted the paddle boats for hire, we knew our day was sorted. Sun baking on the back of a paddle boat and swimming in Lake Garda has to be one of the most surreal and incredible experiences I’ve had. I can’t wait to return to Northern Italy and I cherish the amazing day we spent with our wickedly funny American friends, who I also have on Facebook! Thank you guys for one of my favourite memories, and for proving Americans are awesome.

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I hope that one day someone says to me ‘you inspired me to go for it!’ – that would absolutely make my life. I want people to see that even when bad things happen and your heart’s a bit broken and all that jazz, life’s just beginning. It’s going to be so much better than you ever imagined. That I absolutely promise you.

I hope people don’t wait for other people. I hope people do what they want to do when they want to. You don’t have to answer to anybody… You’ve only got yourself at the end of the day, so make sure you love her or him, and make sure you do everything you can together.

All my love

Harleigh Q

xo