Sunday, June 18, 2017

Questions and Assumptions

Crossing That Line

Too often am I faced with invasive questions and assumptions when it comes to the really important life decisions that should only be discussed between partners: wedding plans, work visas, family plans – you name it.

Worse yet is when family members are grilled on the same topics, resulting in major assumptions that characterise us poorly, and ultimately leave us incredibly frustrated.

Now, before I go any further, my family are not the creators of such burden. Since moving to the UK, both my immediate and extended families have given nothing but support: emotionally (with daily texts and photos from home), psychologically (helping me to nut out problems I face that require a second opinion) and physically (with the sending of care packages, despite the enormous cost of shipping and customs charges).

While I answer most questions asked of me while maintaining some semblance of privacy, my family aren’t always afforded the same courtesy.

If someone asks me a question that is too personal, I have no problems showing them where the line is and reminding them to stand behind it. Unfortunately, when my family is grilled, it is socially unacceptable for them to respond in the same way without being perceived as ‘defensive’. So then they are left trying to explain MY situation between bossy, instructional comments that tell them what they “should” do, all while enduring intense judgement – for MY personal decisions. It’s not too fair, huh?

So I’d like to dispel some myths about living abroad, living away from my family, working in a foreign country, and our wedding plans. This blog will put my mind at ease, as I cannot be interrupted, and my actions, thoughts or feelings can in no way be misconstrued. What I say is what I mean.

Questions asked of my family

1. (Moments after being told I’m engaged) “Did he give her a big ring?”
A: The ring is absolutely perfect – down to the finest detail. Now let’s focus on the fact that two people will be marrying for love, not money or possessions.

2. “So you're flying over for the wedding? For how long will you stay in England?” 

A: No. This is something we’ve discussed and toyed with, but I’ve been raised to think practically and logically. I have been home to Australia twice to visit, as I missed my country, my family, my friends, and my angel of a dog. I wanted familiarity (and sunshine!). It doesn’t make sense to spend enormous amounts of money to fly my family over, when I’d be at work, or overseas on my honeymoon.

3. “Good. You have accommodation there.”

A: Even if my family did visit, we could fork out money on blow-up mattresses that would be used for a week, but would they be comfortable? Our sweet, neat, cosy 1-bedroom flat wouldn’t be suitable for a family of five.

4.  *gasp* “They want a PRIVATE wedding?!”

A: Oh my lord, yes. Growing up, I NEVER wanted a big wedding. From an early age (and probably due to my social anxiety, and the inherent need to never let anyone feel left out), I always preferred to elope; this made people gasp every time, but it is honestly what I wanted and continue to want. Luckily, my fiancé wants the same! 

The venue is gorgeous: nice building in an old, clean and respected town. Yes, we have a photographer and yes, we have booked our exciting honeymoon.

At the end of the day, flying my immediate family to England means my extended family (who are just as important to me) miss out on the wedding.

Then there’d be the pressure of having a big family dinner – again, not something either the bride or groom wanted. We will celebrate with our families separately when we see them, so we can spend one-on-one time with them. That would mean the world to us.

So yes, we are having a VERY private wedding. And we are SO excited. 😃

5. "Has she bought the wedding dress, yet? Can I see? How much did it cost?"

A: I will wear the modest, modern wedding outfit I envisioned for my wedding. ☺💖

6.  “My daughter drove in to her wedding in a Ferrari.”

A: How lovely for your daughter! If that is her dream, I’m glad it was achieved. For me though, I’d rather save that money for a house deposit. We cannot wait to landscape our own garden in a home not governed by a landlord or pushy real estate agency.

7. Why don’t you just go to England for a few days at least? You HAVE to see your daughter/sister marry!

A: First of all, no, they don’t. They might LIKE to, but they don’t HAVE to. My family is wise enough to know that it is the life we make for ourselves after we marry that counts.

The other thing is, money aside, many of us have multiple responsibilities that prevent us from travelling willy-nilly. I won’t go into them here as it’s nobody’s business but ours, but seriously, stop pushing the issue. Do NOT feel sorry for us, we aren’t the ones with an issue here – you are! We are all very satisfied with the wedding plans as they are, thank you. 😊 

A Change in Direction…

Now, on a slightly different note, I am a young (multiple) business owner who works diligently and efficiently to make these work – with measured success.

My best friends and family know what I’ve achieved, I know what I’ve achieved, where I’m going with the businesses and how they will grow, but too many (nosy) acquaintances feel it’s their place to make very personal assumptions without knowing the full story. And because of that, some people have developed a false understanding of both me as an individual and an entrepreneur.

So, here are some questions I am often asked (but not given the chance to actually answer):

1. Do you know what you really want to do? It seems like you’re just banging about with no real idea of what you want!

A: Firstly, how incredibly rude. Secondly, if you’d stopped at the question before making your assumption, I would have told you exactly what I want to do. And you’d know I’m doing it.

2. You are always working so hard! You’re struggling financially, and I just want to help!

A: Yes, I work very hard. I rarely switch off - a failing of mine, but also a strength. But the thing is, business excites me, and for too many years I was afraid to take a risk – even if that meant simply researching the business I wanted to develop. I guess I was afraid of failure. How many successful people achieved success overnight? Success that earned longevity? I can’t think of any.

As for the financial assumption, we are not ‘struggling’ at all. I ALWAYS have an income, because I have always budgeted and planned out our immediate and distant future:

-   Where will we be in one year?
-   How much will rent be?
-   What job will I be doing?
-   Do I want to give up my weeknights and weekends to mark Secondary English papers again?
-   Can I put the teaching workload ahead of my relationship?
-   How much will this visa cost?
-   Can we end our current lease sooner?
-   When will I find time to have the car fixed?
-   Will this plumber ever return our calls to fix that leak in the flat above?

So in short, we do not need financial help. What a terrible assumption to make. We are capable adults with clever heads on our shoulders. If we are struggling, we’ll let you know. But honestly, don’t hold your breath.

3.  Does Gigamov make money yet? What is your plan? It’s just a hobby. Focus on something that will earn you money.

A: I find this so rude. I don’t bother explaining to people who tell me how to run my community-led website how this so-called ‘hobby’ works. But I will explain briefly here.

I am so proud to have built Gigamov from scratch: from its conception, to its development, recruitment, and the small successes it’s earned in its 7 months. Yes, that’s right. I founded Gigamov in December 2016 and launched in January 2017 with a solid team of foundation writers (voluntary) who continue to write several news and reviews items each week.

No, I cannot pay the writers at this time (as they knew when joining our community). We do not profit. So if that constitutes as a hobby in your books, fine. But let me remind you, earning money from click-ads isn’t as simple or as lucrative as it first seems. It takes time.

We will get there eventually, but right now, we have a steady team of writers who have grown in confidence with every review they submit, and who have even received job offers in the writing field because their work is published on a professional website separate to their blog pages. I am happy to give these writers the chance to become published in a world where publication is near to impossible.

We have gained special access to numerous gigs and conventions because of the work we do, and for pop culture fans, this is a massive win! So if we’re not making money right now, that’s fine by me. It will happen eventually.

4. Why aren’t you teaching full-time anymore? Is it a lifestyle thing?

A: Lifestyle? Really? I still work really hard, both as a supply (casual) teacher and at home. If I taught full-time, the workload I’d be bringing home would prevent me from working on our businesses of an evening. I know what is important in life, and it isn't drowning in data entry, reports or marking.

5. Why are you teaching Primary now? Was Secondary too hard?

A: Secondary was lovely. I have so many fond memories of the students – even when they were being little s**ts! It really was both the most exhausting and rewarding (albeit quite thankless) job I’ve ever had.

What I didn’t agree with was the focus on data (and too often, ‘fudging’ data to benefit the school), and the misguided leaders who had no concept of or empathy for children anymore.

Schools unfortunately are now all about data and training and increased workloads – which is totally detrimental to the students we teach. I can no longer be a part of that environment. Primary schools are much the same, but at 30, I needed a change.

Teaching Primary has been a totally new challenge – not harder in any way, but not easier either. Just… DIFFERENT. I’ve drawn upon my Secondary Teaching skills, and honed others to develop them for a younger audience. It’s been a great adventure.

6. When will you go back to Australia? Or are you staying in the UK for good?

A: January, baby!

7. What food can I get for you? I don’t have any superfoods or special health products on hand. I’m so sorry…

A: Don’t be! If I’m a guest in your home, I’ll be grateful for whatever you provide. Of course I prefer to eat healthy (I can eat more and relinquish guilt!), but unless you’re a commercial organisation who is expected to cater for nutrition-focussed individuals, a sausage on the barbie’s fine by me! 

I know there are PLENTY of other questions and assumptions that are made about my life here in the UK, as well as the exciting ventures my fiancé and I have coming up, but I hope my answers have cleared up any misconceptions you yourself may have had.

One thing I have always struggled with in life is defamation or misrepresentation: I speak for myself. No-one speaks for me. And, some questions just needn’t be asked.  Think to yourself, “will it kill me now to know?” If not, it’s probably best left unsaid.

Now, back to my Sunday morning where the sun is actually out in abundance, the church bells are ringing, and my cup-a-joe is waiting patiently to be sipped.

By Belinda Pearce

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