It’s okay to not be okay

As I’m a bit under the weather at the moment, now seemed an appropriate time to write about a phrase I think is important – that it’s okay to not be okay.

Sometimes we are just not okay. Maybe we are going through something, maybe we are unwell, or maybe we are feeling low. It might be something major or it might just be a weird mood. Whether the reason is small or huge, seemingly nothing or feels like everything, it is all relative, and if you feel bad, you feel bad. You don’t need justification or validation. There might be no reason in the world for how you feel other than you’ve found yourself in a bad mood that day or just feel down.

As while, of course, ideally we should try to cheer ourselves up if we can, get through what we are struggling with, and seek help, sometimes we just need to accept that is how we feel. Accepting it is the first step to feeling better, too. We need to accept when we are not feeling well enough to work, and not push ourselves and make it worse. We need to accept if we are just feeling low and be kind to ourselves, don’t over think the reasons, instead wonder what may cheer us, rather than beat ourselves up. We need to accept when we are going through something that is perhaps difficult and emotional, and that it may take time to work through. And it is okay to be feeling like all of these examples.

You are not going to be okay all of the time. You don’t have to be okay all of the time. You cannot always be in control. It can be really frustrating, feeling bad when we want to get on with things. But we can’t rush it, and accepting our feelings can only help this process. We certainly can’t always control our feelings, we cannot help what we feel, and we should never feel bad for simply feeling. We are only human, after all.

It is okay to admit that you are not okay. To both yourself and to others. When we do tell someone that we are not okay, we will hopefully feel their support. Seek help if you can. We will all struggle with things. We cannot be happy, positive, and feeling well all of the time. We cannot always easily cheer ourselves up, find a solution, or simply get over something. It can take time. We need the dark moments to help us really appreciate the light.

We must try to not let anyone else make us feel bad, either. If you’re not feeling good, in whatever way or sense of the words, then you are not feeling good. That’s it, you said it. It’s a fact. You don’t need some huge ‘reason’ or to validate your feelings to others. They are your feelings, and they are always legitimate and important. If anyone makes you feel bad in anyway, they’re just not being very kind or understanding. If they make you feel like you need to justify or explain how you’re feeling, or even suggest you ‘should’ feel better by now, do not listen to them. You never have to explain yourself and there are no time frames to these things. They are deeply personal and unique to the individual. We should all be more compassionate towards others, as you never know what someone may be going through, and as friends, we should always be there to listen and understand.

So, while it is not ‘okay’ to be feeling bad in the sense that it would be much, much nicer if we could be feeling better, unfortunately this is not what life is always like; we are not always okay. If we can accept that, and accept when we aren’t feeling good, then I think we will start to find it easier to feel better again. Acceptance is the first step. So be kind to yourself, let yourself off, accept that you feel bad, but also know that you will feel better. This is just the dark moment, and soon you will be in the light, where you will appreciate its brightness so much more.

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Virginity is a social construct

I have an issue with the concept of virginity. It may seem like a simple ‘rite of passage,’ but I would argue that it is actually a regressive and oppressive concept for all people.

Supposedly, all ‘virginity’ means is someone who has never had sex before. But the concept isn’t that simple. It’s entrenched in double standards, and has always had very different connotations in relation to men and in relation to women.

All you have to do is look at this dictionary entry for ‘virgin,’ which reads: “a person, typically a woman, who has never had sexual intercourse.” Why is this word ‘typically’ used to describe women? What is the difference between a man who has not had sex, and a woman who has not had sex? Nothing – surely? Well, our society and culture doesn’t view it that way.

It’s no secret that the concept of virginity has been used for centuries to control women and their bodies. Throughout history in the Western world, people were expected to remain ‘chaste’ before marriage, a religious value that is thankfully now largely seen as outdated in the now more secular Western world. It was one ripe with double standards, rarely applied to men and women in the same way. Despite the value, men were actually often encouraged to become experienced, whereas it was of absolute importance that women remained ‘pure’ until marriage. Women who had sex before marriage, or were rumoured to have done so, would be completely shamed, considered ‘damaged’ or ‘fallen women.’ Sounds familiar, right?

It’s familiar because nowadays, the concept of virginity is still wrapped up in harmful double standards. It places pressures on both men and women that are oppressive and damaging. For men, there seems to be more pressure to ‘lose’ one’s virginity, to be sexually active, a ‘player’ or ‘stud.’ Those who are ‘still virgins’ are often shamed for being so. Women, on the other hand, are taught that virginity is a ‘virtue’ that they should protect, and are routinely ‘slut shamed’ for being sexually active. Both of these types of pressures are damaging to men and women, and to their relationships with one another.

Virginity is also a very damaging concept as it places so much emphasis on the ‘value’ of being ‘pure.’ But this actually means nothing, because in reality, when you ‘lose your virginity’ nothing happens to suddenly change you, does it? You might feel a little different, but it’s all down to the individual, it’s specific and unique. But there is no difference between you before and you after sex for the first time, other than that new experience. I also dislike that it is considered something you have ‘lost,’ because this places so much pressure, expectation, and value on something that is really just a made up thing, a social construct. There is literally nothing you are losing, if anything you are only gaining things by doing something new for the first time.

And what difference does it make whether you’ve had sex once, not at all, or hundreds of times? It might mean something to you – but that is how it should stay – completely personal, with no outside opinions! When and how and with whom someone has sex with is entirely up to them and their partner(s), no one else. We should never judge anyone else in this matter; it’s simply none of our business.

Then there is also the problem with how we define what ‘losing your virginity’ consists of, or by extension, what ‘having sex’ consists of. Typically, people might only think of heterosexual sexual intercourse. But this isn’t inclusive to people of all sexualities. It is also ignoring the fact that when we have sex, this doesn’t just mean sexual intercourse, it can encompass other kinds of sexual acts and experiences. Someone may feel like they have had sex for the first time after they have a sexual experience that wasn’t sexual intercourse, and who is anyone to say that they’re wrong? Sex is utterly personal, it means different things to different people and we should respect that.

So, as far as I’m concerned, virginity is just a socially constructed concept, created to control and repress people. Of course, having sex for the first time, whatever that may mean to each individual, can be a key experience for many people, and I don’t mean to diminish that. But I don’t think ‘losing your virginity’ is the right way to frame it, because the concept is so damaging to all with how it places a ridiculous amount of made up pressures and expectations on people, and is still heavy with double standards. We need to break down these double standards, acknowledge that ‘sex’ can encompass many things, and mean different things for different people, and we need to eradicate all notions of pressure and expectation in regards to sex, which the concept of virginity contributes to. So let’s scrap the idea of virginity, it’s just made up anyway.