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Wanted: One Time Freeze

Life Is Short. When your Grandparents say that to you, when you’re say, eight or nine, you laugh, with this subconscious perception that you’re going to live forever

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Life Is Short. When your Grandparents say that to you, when you’re say, eight or nine, you laugh, with this subconscious perception that you’re going to live forever, and that you’ve got years and years left before you end up thinking the same way. I’ll be 18 in November. Officially an adult. That rather alarming fact has made me realise that all those patronising elders from your childhood were bang on – life is short and all you can do is sit and watch the years fly by.

I know, I know, I’m only 17. I’m practically a baby still, but I can assure you, even at my age you feel like the years have gone without you. Eighteen is an age I used to dream of when I was younger, about twelve, thinking “That’s years and years away,” and when I saw cousins and relatives turning eighteen, they seemed so grown up, so mature, and smart, and I was convinced that on coming of age, your one of the adults, and your thinking about children and houses and getting married.

Marriage is the last thing on my mind. Even before I do reach ‘that age,’ there are so many things happening, that scare me half to death – and outline my transition out of childhood and into the scary real world.

I’m currently studying for my AS levels, the first year of traditional A-levels. Suddenly I’ve come out of my GCSE’s and my safety blanket has been whipped out from under me – I may be in the same school, but the nurturing and motherly attention your teachers subjected you to for all those years has dissolved into essay after essay, responsibility you cant really get your head around, and exams appearing before you’ve had chance to catch your breath.

And then there’s an even scarier prospect – university. I know I want a degree. I need a degree for my profession – but being launched, rather forcefully, into choosing an actual university, rather than just putting it to the back of your mind for ‘when you’re older,’ is what really shocks you into growing up. You have to choose your last place of education before your thrown to the lions in the real world – you have to decide where in the county you want to go, expenses, where you’re going to live, what you actually want to do with your life – and on top of all that there’s the extra pressure of UCAS, personal statements, and whether your choice of university will actually accept you at all.

I’m currently in the process of choosing my mine, I think I’ve cracked it, and the one I’ve chosen means I can do as planned and get a house with my boyfriend – but then there’s the gut wrenching feeling of “should I move away?” “What am I missing?” “Can we afford to get a house?” You know it’s irrational, but you cant help it – I know I want to go to TASC, get my degree in journalism and live with my boyfriend for the duration – but what with everyone choosing their own Uni’s, open days, and careers advisers making you feel like this is the last chance you’ve got – you feel nervous and doubtful nonetheless.

Which leads me to my next big transition: choosing somewhere to live. My boyfriend works full time and runs his own business, so in that sense we’ve got the advantage that he can get a mortgage. We’ve been looking at potential areas we could move to – but whilst he’s clicking away on the internet and thinking about ‘our first house’ – I’m sat beside him, barely believing that I’m leaving home and moving into my own house. That I’ll be cooking, cleaning, paying bills, decorating, and then living with him– there goes safety blanket number two.

The fact these big decisions are looming are joined by small first time experiences, adding to the transition from seventeen and innocent, to 18 and independent. This June, I’m going on holiday, abroad, without my parents. For the first time. Now, I’ve been to France and Germany with school, and last summer spend a week in a hired caravan on the coast with two friends – but this is different. France and Germany, I was supervised by teachers. At the coast, my grandparents were in their caravan on the same site – but when I venture off to Salou, Spain, with the boyfriend, I’ll be very much unsupervised.

I know I’ll love it, and I am excited. I spent a weekend in London with him, and we coped fine. I think its more the fact that I’m finally doing these things, everything I knew I’d do ‘someday’ is happening all at once and I know I’m not a child anymore. I’m happy about these experiences – first times, big decisions, becoming independent, taking mine and Matt’s relationship to an adult level – but at the same time it makes me wonder where all the years went.

I remember turning sixteen like it was yesterday. I remember my first love not so long ago, and then the heartbreak that followed when it ended. All these things have now been and gone, and it feels like I’m growing up a lot faster than I first realised. It’s said that these years are the best of your life, after you turn 16 it’s all supposed to kick off – party after party, boyfriends, dates, new friends. I was talking about mortgages to my boss at work, and he stopped and said, “you should be out on the town every weekend, spending your wage on beer and nights out, not thinking about mortgages.’

But frankly that’s not me. I do enjoy my social life, and I am living the wild teenager life in a sense – I’m not going to deny myself of a mad party or a good night out. I got to see about two live bands a month, and attend as many music festivals as I can afford in the summer.  But with time going so fast – can you believe its March already? – I feel like I need to plan, as if I’m bracing myself for when it all explodes and suddenly I’m 18.

So what I’m requesting is a time freeze. It feels like before I know it another big experience has passed, another year has gone. If I can stop time, stop this ‘growing up’ business, just for a day, maybe too, I know I’ll feel more confident in the times that are to come. I know it can’t happen, well, not right now anyway, but wouldn’t it be perfect? If you could stop time, think about what’s been and gone, think about what’s to come, and rid yourself, just for those 48 hours, of the frightening feeling that life is short, and getting shorter.

I’m 18 this November. I’ll be the ‘grown up’ at the party who all the younger cousins are in awe of, I’ll be making big decisions that will affect the rest of my life, and all I can hope for is that I will be smart, mature, and grown up.

Wanted: one time freeze.

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Make Dodgeball Great Again

Dodgeball is not an ‘unethical tool of oppression’ and to label it so is both ludicrous and dangerous. Have we lost our minds?

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I remember it as if it was yesterday. The recently completed gym floor was crisp, clean, and squeaked with almost every step of the overpriced sneakers that graced it. Battle lines had been drawn and there I was, locked and loaded in the far right corner of the gym. I had scanned the battlefield ahead, and saw that the opposition numbers were dwindling- falling like the cannon fodder they were. My fellow combatants were more than capable, some in fact, excelled like this game was art, like it was real battle.

Then I saw my target, arms to her side, nervously looking across from her side of diminishing numbers. Her eyes screamed ‘fear’ (or maybe indifference, but in my mind, it was fear) and I knew that there was only one thing to do. I gripped the foam of the ball with a vengeful firmness, loaded my arm with the fury of a Nolan Ryan fastball and let loose. My memory says the sound of the noisy gym was broken, and that all the fellow combatants and fallen brethren fell silent, stopped and followed this one moment as the ball left my hand to its intended destination. It was a glorious moment. Glorious because unlike most times, the ball flew through the air with unmatched grace. Unlike most times I threw the ball, there was no deviation, no broken flight plan. And unlike most times, where I’d luckily hit my target on the leg, or on the arm, it zeroed in with laser-like precision and exploded itself right in Annie’s* face. Bullseye. Like a bird exploding from a Randy Johnson fastball.

Did I revel in the glory of that standstill moment? Was the brazen destruction of a fellow combatant as cinematically award-winning as a Spielberg movie? The truth is, that wasn’t the case. Amongst the fleeting chaos of the game, no one saw. No one stopped and watched my moment, and that in reality, it was a split second that remains animated only in mind. I recoiled in shock, partly because it was not my intention to hit someone in the face, no matter how unintentionally glorious it was. But partly because my gut instinct was to slink away into the back of the pack to hide unseen- like a cowardly saboteur responsible for the wreckage, eager to hide from the blame. I didn’t even look back at what I had done.

I don’t remember who won this particular game (safe to say it wasn’t Annie), but it was all part and parcel to the wonderful school-time game of dodgeball.

One that has come under scrutiny, and under the threat, by the researchers discussed in this National Post article, who have labeled it an “unethical tool of oppression”. With such hyperbole, you’d think they were talking about a population who lived under a military dictatorship, or a segment of that population threatened during mass rioting. Not surprisingly, I lived through both of the latter, and no, dodgeball is nothing like either. They are talking about dodgeball- a mostly harmless game (unless you are Annie) played by children during recess and PE class.

The article goes on to say how dodgeball, along with other forms of games played during PE class are sports of “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation” and that dodgeball in particular, is “not just unhelpful to the development of kind and gentle children who will become decent citizens of a liberal democracy. It is actively harmful to this process.” Sounds like it was written by someone picked last in gym class.

We can argue endlessly about the participation-trophy culture that has permeated the discourse of children’s sports (they couldn’t even settle on a winner at the Spelling Bee). But the truth is, I fear greatly for the future of democracy if we equate the game of dodgeball to actual, real oppression. Sure, Annie probably doesn’t like dodgeball all that much, but I too was hit plenty on the dodgeball court. Like I was on the basketball court. But it’s all part of growing some thick skin in this very real world where people don’t throw soft, red balls at you. The truth is, most kids would probably benefit from getting hit in the face with a dodgeball a few times, it’ll be good for them in the long run. This I’m certain of.

I had a lot of fun playing dodgeball as a kid. It’s an absolute shame that there are “scholars” and “researchers” who equate it to very real life issues this world faces. Teaching kids that life isn’t fair from a young age is a good thing. Participation-trophy culture is not. I don’t need a Ph.D. to know so.

Dodgeball teaches you a great deal in a simple game. And if dodgeball supposedly teaches children lessons of democracy, then I sure as hell would want the future leaders of whatever world we venture towards to be able to dodge a wrench when someone throws one at their heads.

*Annie is not her real name. C’mon, how much of an asshole do you think I am?

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The Art of Corporate Pandering

Corporate pandering is at an all-time high and it seems that even the communities they pander to see through it.

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In a recent Spectator article, politician Craig Kelly calls out the hypocrisy of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as it attempted to insert itself into the climate change debate. In the piece, Kelly details the ice cream giant’s position as; “deceptive, misleading and breathtakingly hypocritical … holding hands with anti-capitalists that would seek to destroy them at first opportunity. They are effectively feeding the crocodile, hoping it will eat them last.

It is not the first time the ice cream company has attempted to insert itself into controversial, political issues. However, Kelly’s point that Ben & Jerry’s insertion into debate is another opportunity for “the sanctimonious to virtue signal” seems to be a common thread amongst many brands today.

Brands are becoming more “woke” in this day and age, finding opportunities to push agendas while selling everything from razors to soda. Some companies really have turned it into an art. But what in essence does all this corporate wokeness actually do? Does an ice-cream company selling sweet dairy products while pushing for marriage equality actually help those who are fighting for it on a grassroots level? Are all these brands genuine in their quest to improve the world or, as many expect, just pandering to whatever current hot button topic is in hopes to sell a few more units? It is possible for companies to support a myriad of human rights campaigns without splashing it all over their products? I suspect not.

This month is Pride Month and we’ve seen countless brands around the globe adorn rainbow flags and push for equality. Rainbow flags on your Nikes? Sure, but why not all year round? Do equal rights in one country matter more to Nike than it does in another? I can’t speak for the LGBT community as an outsider, but here are some thoughts of someone from within the community in regards to these multinational corporations jumping in on hashtags:

Like Ben & Jerry’s, the hypocrisy is real. Charlatans in woke clothing. If you’re going to take blood money in one hand, don’t try to shake mine with the other claiming it’s clean.

Corporate pandering is at an all-time high and it seems that even the communities they pander to see through it. Does a shaver company really care about trans rights or does it just want to appear like it does, so people will buy more shavers? The answer is obvious.

I feel like it won’t be long before an automotive brand panders to my Asian heritage during some Asian Heritage month by using technological advancement in self-driving and self-parking automobiles as a way for more Asians to buy their cars. Ok well, maybe just for the Asian women then.

Is there a problem with responsible corporations? Absolutely not. But corporations exist to do one thing and that is to make money. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. Make a great product that I like, and I will happily purchase said goods. Just don’t try to blow smoke in my face as I, like I hope most people do, see through their smokescreen of insincerity.

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