Dating Myths: The Truth About Chasing Unicorns

Most girls grew up wishing for a unicorn.  When they were sensible enough to realise that wasn’t going to happen, they set their heart on a simpler, more attainable pony. To this day, even the girls that actually got their chestnut thoroughbred or snow-white pony would trade that nag in a heartbeat if his magical, mystical Unicorn cousin came prancing up to the plate. Straight off to the glue factory for you, Mr. Ed, next to that shiny, shimmering stallion you look like a bottle of Clag. Because no matter how adult we pretend to be, there’s a little girl inside every woman that still wants to believe in fairy tales.

Tell Santa what you want for Christmas Judy. “A pony”. What do you want for your birthday, darling? “A pony”. Sweetie why are you crying? “I. Want. A. Ponyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”. Well, Judy, you go out and find that pony, but don’t come crying to me if he bucks you into a blackberry bush or shits on your shoes. There’s a lesson here, Judy: nothing good is ever without a trade-off and there is never a reward without a risk. Chasing love is  often a choice between unicorns and ponies. Should you hold out for your fairy tale or do you bet your money on the realistic, reliable and more readily available steed?

It begs a few questions about unicorns: do they actually exist? How do you catch one? And if by some small miracle you do, then what do you do with it? I’ve waded through a fair bit of emotional horse manure in my attempts to wrangle a garden variety pony and I’ve been left wondering if there really is something more? Is there a mythical beast out there with my name on it, a game changer holding the key to my happy ending?  I thought, “what the hell”. If I’m going to risk getting crapped on it might as well be by a unicorn. At least they probably crap out glitter.

I don’t normally chase the unattainable. Some are brave and without fear, but frankly I’m a big, fat pansy that’s scared of rejection. I don’t like to set myself up to fail and like many single pringles, I’m a control freak so I don’t want to put myself in a position of unequal power. Happy to be a unicorn? Yes. *Swishes mane with glee*. Happy to chase a unicorn? Oh hell no, I don’t wanna play a game I can’t win.  But Carpe Diem/ YOLO/ DILIGAF, I thought I’d give it a try and this is what I’ve found: Traditionally the unicorn is that too-good-to-be true stranger/dreamboat/ man of your dreams/ personification of perfection/ unattainable beyond measure/ I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter kind of human. The type of person your girl friends tell you that you deserve to be with, but you’re not sure actually exist in the realms of men (eg. Chris Hemsworth as Thor *drool*).

Do they exist? Yes. A unicorn has an unimaginably rare combination of traits that you want to dedicate your whole life to being worthy of them. It’s the 6’4” smoking hot veterinarian who speaks three languages, is kind to his mother, spends his spare time reading to blind homeless children, has a heart of gold, a wicked sense of a humour and charm that makes grown men consider switching teams (Missing person: If you find this man please return to Life in Arcadia, care of Jules and DO NOT alert the authorities).

We have all glimpsed a unicorn before: the unattainable dream often personified as your best friend’s big brother, the hot lecturer, the high school captain, the heart-throb lead singer or the incurable bachelor. Effortlessly resplendent with the perfect balance of friendly and aloof; often engulfing you in a full body paralysis every time they speak.  Aside from putting you at risk of choking on your own tongue they drive you hopelessly insane whilst doing absolutely nothing at all except being just ever so slightly out of your reach. Always.

That, my friends, is the unicorn. Very hard to find, even harder to catch. You might only come across one or two in your lifetime. Some say they are just a figment of your imagination; a cruel mirage in a desolate dating wasteland. Others say finding your unicorn is the meaning of life and you should never stop searching until you find one and marry it.

Catching one is as much a game of chance as it is a game of skill. Like the lottery, you will undoubtedly lose but you can never win if you never play. There’s no right or wrong way to catch a unicorn. But remember that everything looks perfect from far away. When you get closer you can see past all the glitter and rainbows and things aren’t always as perfect as they appear.  A good friend once told me that those whose talents are most obviously on display are often those hiding the biggest flaws. Like cologne, a man’s true qualities should be discovered and not advertised. Let that sink in.

So, Unicorns, if you catch one, then what? What do you do when you finally catch an untamed animal with a precarious pointy protrusion? All of a sudden your fairy tale feels a bit more like The Running of the Bulls and you start to get a horrible feeling that someone is going to get seriously injured. Whether or not you get gored in the small intestine, sooner or later you realise that the things we build up in our heads are usually the greatest disappointments. Liars, cheaters, commitmentophobes or creepily dependant mumma’s-boys; often these mythical creatures have been frolicking freeling for so long in everyone’s imagination they haven’t even been broken-in. The reality can never live up to the hype, so maybe it’s better to be wowed by a pony then disappointed by a daydream?

As beautiful as they are from a distance, once you rub the rainbows out of your eyes and the glittery shit off your shoes you realise unicorns are really no different from all the other ponies.

Thanks for reading. If you love Life in Arcadia why not follow us on Instagram to get you weekly lols at @lifeinarcadia and don’t forget to sign up for email notifications in the menu tab at the top right of the page. Love x

Aside

Five Sure Signs You’ve Settled into Singledom

Single and ready to mingle is a thing of the past. Single and ready to get comfortable in my own company, pay for my own meals and by-pass the dating dilemmas is in for the foreseeable future. If you’ve found yourself using your time to pursue interests and activities instead of decoding pseudo-cryptic text messages or worrying more about the quality of your coffee than the cuteness of your barista then there’s a chance you’ve transcended into the comfort zone. This is a magical world where you’ve overcome the stigma of being “alone” and stopped searching for a Twilight-esque fictitious love, only ever uncovering creeps and never Edward Cullens. If you’ve put up a no vacancy sign in the window whilst you revel in your independence (and polar fleece track pants), there’s a good chance you have settled into singledom. Here are a few more signs you might be there or well on your way:

  1. Not taming the hairy beast:

Shaving your legs is a weekly or bi- weekly event. Often you inadvertently flash your yoga class your hairy armpits and are reminded to shave because of supportive pro-feminist remarks from the androgynous hippie up the back that smells like weed and incense. Who can blame you? It’s the middle of winter, razors don’t grow on trees and in all fairness a little extra insulation can’t be a bad thing.

  1. Sleeping like a (sloth) queen:

You do not think of your bed as a love haven or a work bench. It is a hibernation-zone-meets-pillow-fort designed to encapsulate you in complete isolation while you binge-watch Game of Thrones. These days, the most compelling reason you have to wash your sheets regularly is the smearing of fake tan that have turned them orangey brown; that and the crusty drool on your pillow case that accumulates when sprawling out like a starfish in an attempt to cover as much surface area as possible on your queen-sized bed. Bliss.

  1. Underwear? Just don’t care:

Your prime reason for choosing underwear is their function. Your colour co-ordinated, frilly, skimpy, bedazzled underwear is shoved to the back of you intimates drawer and is not likely to see the light of day any time soon. Your go to underwear are your mismatching, comfy boy-legs and that 3-year old bra with a tear in the lace because they are the most comfortable ones you own. Let’s face it, no-one’s going to see them anyway. Where’s the reward in wearing unsupportive shoe string straps, bralettes with sparse nipple coverage and enduring lacey g-strings riding up your butt all day? Bridget Jonesin’ it erry day. No regrets.

  1. (Unat)tending nest:

You used to clean your room every time you had a cute boy coming over, now you just clean your room when you’ve lost something of major importance like your Girls boxed set or your buy-10-get one-free ice-cream coupon. Your complex filing system has outgrown the designated storage areas in your room and evolved into a meticulously managed floordrobe. No pressure to overstuff cupboards to bursting point three times a week when boyfie comes around to maintain the illusion of orderliness. Your room is perfectly chaotic and free, just like you, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

  1. Sorry, I’m busy:

Your Tinder profile is gathering dust. Your Facebook inbox: crickets. Those “Hey how’ve you been?” texts are going unanswered and you’ve stopped searching through your Instagram likes for regular offenders. Long gone are the days that every half decent guy you meet sparks your imagination “(I wonder what suburb we would live in, I love that he’s passionate about his career. I wonder what kind of dog we should get? I think he would be great with children. Oh and he’s so tall.” Puke.) Far from the doe-eyed day dreamer you might have once been, you now use a strict allocation system where new males are automatically filtered into one of two buckets: f-wit or friend zone. Dating is fine for people who like that sort of thing but if you’re going to drink wine on a week night you’re going to miss Masterchef and spending your Saturday mornings at brunch is a non-neg girl bff commitment so there just really isn’t a convenient time, ever. Sorry.

If this sounds like you and the thought of having to regularly shave, dig out uncomfortable underwear and disassemble your pillow fort sounds like waaaaaaaaaay more effort than it’s worth then you’ve reached the ultimate comfort zone. Congratulations on being successfully single. Not everyone can do it. If your single status is making you feel uneasy, just remember the new Magic Mike movie is about to be released and Channing has enough love (and abs) for all of us to enjoy.

Thanks for reading. If you love Life in Arcadia why not follow us on Instagram to get you weekly lols at @lifeinarcadia and don’t forget to sign up for email notifications in the menu tab at the top right of the page. Love x</p

5 Tips for the Guy Who Dates Everyone:

For us hungry singles, the solo life is a little like roaming the plains of the savannah: nothing but dust and tumble weeds as far as the eye can see and there’s not a soul in sight to make you feel guilty about eating no-fat yoghurt for dinner or fighting climate change with hairy-leg forests.  Whether you’re swaggering through the open plains like the bossest lion in town or you’re optimistically searching the horizon for the Simba to your Nala we all crave one thing from the opposite sex: attention.  In your twenties you’re at the top of your game and you want to know that someone somewhere has you in their crosshairs and is lining up to take a shot. Who wouldn’t want such a magnificent trophy stuffed and mounted on their wall? Isn’t that what dating is all about anyway?

Whether your game is hunting for the king of the savannah, chasing some sexy poacher booty or making easy pickings of a wounded, newly-single gazelle, girls are not idiots. We have a secret network of informants and we will find out if someone is out spraying bullets around with a machine gun trying to hit every target in his sights. We all know those guys who have messaged every girl in a friendship circle and had a crack at them all…. Simultaneously. Bravo, buddy, but what are you trying to achieve? The odds of an all in orgy are pretty low, as are your chances with anyone of them if your game is that weak.

Girls talk, if you hadn’t noticed. So if you want to play the field and date more than one at once then you need to avoid overfishing in the same ponds. I’m not going to tell you to only date one person at a time and get up on a high-horse, because girls are multi-dating too and that is fine. Everyone is so busy trying to look busy that it’s hard to see someone more than once a week anyway, so if you are craving a little romantic attention you might need to start a rotation to get your needs met… people are getting harder and harder to nail down. But lads, you’re doing a community service really, aren’t you? You’re a handsome young stallion that can’t be tamed; it is your moral duty to go sow your wild seed while you’re still young. Heaven forbid you should settle down prematurely and let all that talent go to waste. Run free, break hearts, have “fun” and make memories that will make your sixty-five year old self proud.

But here are some simple guidelines that can help you be a little more subtle in your quest for world (girl) domination:

  1. Make sure your candidates don’t know each other.

Honestly, these days it takes about 10 seconds to look at mutual friends and even if you find that a stretch too far, try a little common sense. Girls are the same age, you met them at the same place and they both live within a 5km radius. Chances are they know each other, they are probably friends or worse: enemies. We have all stuffed up an opportunity with a hottie by being greedy and targeting a not so hottie at the same time only to find out they are friends, colleagues, cousins or archenemies. Shame it’s always the better looking one that backs down.

  1. Think about location.

Try to define suburb parameters. You can’t be jumping into Lady A’s territory for a quick romantic brunch with Lady B because you will probably get spotted by the neighbourhood gossip girl if not Lady A herself. Also be smart about the venue, as much as you want to take them all to your favourite restaurants, by the time you’ve taken six different dates to your local it starts to get a bit awkward and not just with the staff, who are worried you’re an escort (or just a general jerk), but also when you get your dates mixed up and wax lyrical about the amazing tapas you shared only to be uncomfortably corrected: “Sorry that wasn’t me, I had the eye fillet and you got salmon…” Awks.

  1. Monitor your level of commitment.

Dating several people at once is just a fact of life these days but it’s a transitionary period rather than a long term commitment, just like living in share houses until you find you own home. Don’t be setting up joint bank accounts with your Tuesday girlfriend and picking out a puppy with your Friday fling. If you want to date several people at once then keep it light. Men are terrible for over promising and under-delivering, sorry lads but there’s a bit of the McDonald’s effect where you get us excited telling us you’ll take us to Tahiti in six months. You’re lathering on the mayo without thinking, but girls believe that kinda crap and you can bet your bottom dollar they will spit in your face when all they get is a soggy burger and a bunch of broken promises. If you’re playing the game remember the spirit of fun and keep the future plans to a minimum.

  1. Be honest

Look, I’m not telling you to number off your hoes or write a press release detailing your dating goals. However, if questioned, you really need to be prepared to be honest about your intentions.  Feelings get hurt when people don’t know where they stand. Lucky for you multi-daters, people want to believe they are the only one and usually they don’t ask questions they don’t want to know the answers to. Questions might lead to an awkward conversation but honesty is the best policy because the truth will come out sooner or later, regardless. Don’t hate the player, hate the game right?

  1. Don’t leave it on a bad note.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and even if you’re in a big city the young, attractive, smart people are a small minority.  If you don’t manage your recruitment and termination processes with sensitivity, news of your bad reputation will spread faster than a wardrobe malfunction at a Victoria’s Secret show. If Lucy decides she doesn’t want to be on your rotating roster try to part on good terms. In short, don’t piss in the pool: avoid nastiness at all costs and don’t kiss and tell – we all have to swim in this water. Just because you don’t want to date someone doesn’t mean you have to hate them. Be a grown up and keep it civil.

Evidently, the dating landscape these days can be a bit like the Hunger Games. It’s wild, dangerous and there are a lot of losers. You get a whole group of contenders and let them battle it out with each other until the bitter end whilst trying to manipulate the game so it’s as entertaining as possible. So, until you’ve found your champion try to follow these simple rules to manage your band of tributes. Happy dating kids. May the odds be ever in your favour.

The Two Types of Crazy

You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.

Crazy is a sliding scale on which everyone sits and there is one simple test that can give a deep and comprehensive view into someone’s level of mental stability. Namely, that the more adamant you are that you’re not crazy, the more likely you are to be clinically bonkers: fully-fledged, couch-jumping, crazy-scientologist, Tom-Cruise level cray cray. But crazy is not necessarily a bad thing. Like humans, it comes in all shapes and sizes; some good and some evil. Some comes wrapped up in a Taylor-Swift-like disguise.

The way I see it there are two very distinct types of people in this world: people that know they are crazy and people who do not know they are crazy. Now, that might sound like a broad generalisation but I am yet to meet anyone in this life who does not border on being at least slightly deranged. And how do I know you’re mad? Because you’re here and everyone here is mad. Whether you are hosting the tea party or just dropping by for a quick scone and a waft of Earl Grey, it’s undeniable. We have all fallen down a rabbit hole at some stage and found ourselves knee deep in an obsessive pursuit of love, order or perfection. In order to find acceptance without judgement, we often surround ourselves with equally dysfunctional creatures forming our own hysterical tea-party themed support group. Safety in numbers dear Marchie, sanity is relative so as long as we are as crazy as the company we keep then no one needs to lose sleep over the difference between a raven and a writing desk.

So, we are all varying levels of crazy. Whether you are a level 5 or 500 crazy, the defining aspect of your malady is your level of awareness. I am more than happy to stand up and toast my insanity like the Mad Hatter in Wonderland, much preferring to be a mercury addled madman than a dozy dormouse or an insufferably ignorant Alice. If you remember, Alice – the tightly laced damsel – was tumbling in and out of reality, changing shapes and being wildly inappropriate at social events, all the while chasing some enigmatic white rabbit who had the sense to run for his life in the opposite direction. Even more fearful was the Queen of Hearts, who (much like your psycho ex) was bulldozing her way through the kingdom, decapitating anyone in sight. Of course no one is game enough to tell her she’s overreacting for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

So as I explain, it’s not the knowingly mad ones you have to watch out for. Indeed, you should be wary of any one who is cracker enough to think they are sane. I give you fair warning that the more adamant someone is about not being insane the more likely they are to go full Jekyll on your arse.  Much like an infant with a semi-automatic, they don’t know they are brandishing a powerful weapon so they are prone to start spraying crazy bullets over innocent by-standers.

It’s the big difference between Facebook stalking with your friends at brunch and hiding in the back seat of someone’s car, smelling their gym socks to work out if they’ve been training or off cavorting with some strumpet.

Crazy should never be taken lightly. Someone who is visibly crazy is a manageable risk, you can rely on them to be consistently loco and thus manage the element of surprise. If you’re dating Britney Spears, you know she’s going to be kookier than the Adam’s Family. But when you meet someone who seems very, very sane, almost normal… well, you can rest assured Mr. or Mrs. Hyde won’t last forever. One minute you’re brunching with the girl of your dreams then you’re bound and gagged in the boot of a car because that extra tang in your voddie soda was Rohypnol and not lime juice.

Beware that if things seem good to be true then they probably are. What was a bit of harmless fun with a nice and normal person sees you moving house and telling everyone you’re gay just to douse the crazy fire and stop the relentlessly stalking. You might end up with a girl whose love is like a candle: if you leave her, she will burn your house down. Or a guy who just cares about you so much that he goes full God Father on any life form with a Y chromosome and threatens to have them sleeping with the fishes.

These clueless crazies are left wondering “why me?”….. “I don’t understand why she felt the need to get a police involved. All I was trying to do was show her how much she means to me by disembowelling her stuffed animals.” Well perhaps, Sweet Cheeks, you are the constant and it’s your psychotic controlling nature; your wildly inappropriate social behaviour; disturbing levels of clinginess; or perhaps your complete lack of awareness or any or all of the above! “Why me”, you ask? Well, it’s because you’re a flipping psychopath.

Life is a tea party and whether we like it or not we are all a little bit mad. The only hoice you have is whether you accept it or not.  If you’re reading this and wondering how many metres in 100 yards or whether a letter via carrier pigeon is in breach of a restraining order then perhaps you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. Perhaps trying to understanding your own mental enigma is the first step toward being a much more favourable party guest.

So, happy revellers, if you are cray cray and you know it clap your hands. Tea and Crumpets all round.

The Curse of the Distracted Man

As I sit down to write the fourth introduction to this post, I am painfully aware of how highly distractible I have become. Today I’m running off about four hours of sleep and three lattes but that’s pretty much my usual state. I currently have four-zillion-and-fifty-one things running through my head or buzzing through my phone, hurtling into my consciousness and bumping me off track like some obnoxious fat kid in a dodgem car. Boom. I’m halted. Productivity at a standstill once again as over-weight Bobby cackles maniacally and rears up for the next assault. Right, where was I? Oh yes, blog post: I was going to write about  being distracted or something like that but I can’t seem to sit still long enough to get anything out on the page.

With push notifications and unlimited Wi-Fi connections it’s bloody hard to focus our attention long enough to cook a piece of toast without losing interest, calling three friends and organising brunch instead. We are so overloaded with commitments and responsibilities that we can’t sit still for more than a minute without with churning through more unique thoughts than a nun on LSD. I like to call it the Curse of the Distracted Man (or Woman) and it’s a modern day epidemic that has us constantly disconnecting from the people around us. Example: I find it hard to take phone call in my own home without switching to speaker phone so I can trawl my Instagram feed, catch up on my emails and start a beginner’s course in Mandarin. Is it because I’m not interested in what my family/ BFF/Bae has to say? Not at all, I’m just so pressed for time and overcommitted than any unused opportunity to multitask seems like a careless waste. Sorry, Mum.

So, Sexy Singles, maybe Mum will put up with your constant distraction and your repetitious “uh, what, sorry… pardon?” but what about Mr. Distract-a-babe or Little Miss Disinterested? How can you capture someone else’s attention when you can’t even manage your own? Now that is a challenge. No matter how happy you are being single, you still want to know that all that hard work and glamour isn’t going unnoticed. Thank God for the constant buzz of our smartphones reminding us that we are still hot and still relevant. Naturally it makes sense that the majority of dates no are organised online nowadays. It’s easy, accessible and not to mention it softens the blow of rejection and allows for calculated flirty banter. Just one problem, when we finally make it down to dating town sometimes we can’t remember how to communicate without the aid of emoji’s.

For us, the distraction-afflicted phone addicts, how do our over-loaded minds affect our dating prospects? It feels like everyday life is a juggling act with 100 applications running and it gets harder and harder to prioritise them as we take on more and more responsibilities, let alone write back to text messages. I saw a great quote the other day, it read: “my brain has too many tabs open.” It was like a one-line description of this whole generation. As a group we often do a bloody terrible job at dating because we can’t follow a single train of thought for more than about 30 seconds. In theory, dating is pretty straight forward concept, just like going to the supermarket. Unfortunately, when I try and go to the supermarket I set off looking for some wholesome skinless chicken fillets and come home with 2 Curly-Whirlies, a tub of yogurt and a trashy mag (then wonder why my cupboards are bare and my stomach is growling).

Has anyone else struggled to get through even the simplest coffee date without an attack of the Gen Y phone-checking interlude? A few years ago it was downright rude to text or call in the company of someone else but now it’s become common place. Trying not to look at your phone on a date is the new generation blinking contest, both parties dying to moisten their eyeballs in the sweet pool of notifications that have gathered during the time it took to cover-off small and place your order. What is the meaning of those five loud vibrations my phone has emitted throughout dinner… maybe I should excuse myself for a “bathroom/selfie/Snapchat/Instragram/e-mail/Whatsapp break”. Maybe I can get away with sneakily checking my messages whilst photographing my dinner (thank god that’s also widely accepted these days… Phewww).

I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to telling my date to put his phone away. If anything, I jump at the opportunity to whip out mine for a quick sweep. We are so over stimulated it’s hard to sit still and have a regular conversation with someone without compulsively checking for messages or sharing inane memes from our endless collection of screenshots.  The cat doing yoga and pictures of my past brunches may have shown how worldly and hilarious I am, but more likely they pointed out that I’m just as distracted and self-involved as everyone else. And so the curse claims another victim. But wait, no it’s okay, he didn’t even notice my self-indulgent rampage because he was too busy sending urgent emails. Alas, it’s no fun playing hard to get when the other party has resigned themselves to a liking-spree on Instagram during dessert, before I’ve even had a chance to flash my catch-me-if-you-can smile.  *winky face, blowing a kiss emoji*

The guys that can leave their phone in the car while they’re at dinner and the girls who can mute their notifications for two hours without collapsing from FOMO are becoming a rare breed. So – if you’re trying to work out how to keep a date’s attention while you’re out eating (short of finding someone different to eat with) all I can suggest is that you try texting them.

Love and Other Fast Moving Goods

In this life of fast cars, fast food and fast money things that take time tend to take a backseat. We are so used to instant gratification that it is an almost-alien concept to nurture and grow something for more than a few minutes. If our seeds don’t propagate, reach maturity and bloom in the space of two minutes we ditch gardening all together and do what any self-respecting Gen-Y should do: move on. I don’t like to fuel Gen Y biases but I feel as though were born at the tail end of a revolution and our concept of success, hard work and even love are shaped by the rapidly changing world we grew up in. I’ve spoken before about my propensity to cash in phones (iLove You, iLove You Not… iDunno) the same way I cash in relationships: yearly. This is because like you, I have been raised to feel the like obsolesce is inevitable and that anything I have is temporary until the next big thing comes along.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened by the transient nature of friendships, jobs and love. This eternal optimist has had her flame for life dampened by the idea that, in fact, nothing does last forever. I wistfully recall the glorious lyrics from Pooh’s Grand Adventure, where the two odd buddies cheerfully quarreled about how long their friendship would last. The highly cynical Christopher Robin sceptically advised “Forever and ever is a very long time, Pooh.” To which the charmingly overweight, binge eating, dependent-wreck Pooh replied: “forever isn’t long at all, when I’m with you.” For a long time I thought I was Pooh (I’ve also thought I was shit at times too) but recently I’ve been taught by the school of Chris Rob. Turns out poor Pooh was just a stepping stone on the path to the next best thing. He knew that in the big wide world there was going to be more for him than an engorged stuffed animal with stupendous charm. He was already plotting his next move long before old Pooh Bear realised he was the last man standing in a three-legged race to forever.

For the last twelve months I’ve been wildly optimistic about love, friendships, careers and life. But as the optimism fades, like a general anaesthetic, I am left wounded and bemused as I hurtle back to reality. Life was so much simpler when forever and ever didn’t seem like such a long time. But these days, a month feels like a lifetime. Life is full of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) and more and more I’m starting to feel like one of them. FMCGs, as the name suggests are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low-cost. They are items like chocolate bars that generally have a short shelf life, either because customer demand is high or because product deterioration is rapid. It’s a low-margin business that demands trade in high volumes in order to reap a significant profit. Well, that sounds like modern life right there: always scrambling to upgrade to a newest version before we have truly extracted worth from the first.

We keep churning through life’s offerings so quickly that we perpetuate this FMCG cycle and become a part of it by default. I’ve been busy investing in myself, pouring my heart and soul into my friends and relationships and searching relentlessly for a fulfilling career for an end goal of securing a life of slowly-maturing, stable investments that yield hefty returns. But how wrong was I? I’ve been treating people like property (The Dating Game) and they’ve been treating me like ice-cream (We Can Dish It Out, But We Can’t Take It).  I’ve been paying my way through life with fat stacks of cash but accepting dividends paid out in Monopoly money. I’ve been trying to in vain to build an empire, because lord knows Rome wasn’t built in a day, but when I look around all I can see is young upstarts bragging about how fast they got Park Lane with four houses (hotel coming soon), whilst getting ready to sell up big and move onto the next thing before the game is even finished. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

We’re all aware of this easy come, easy go attitude because we are its greatest advocates. Routinely we ask ourselves: why should we bother trying to repair something when it will cost just as much to replace it? Sure that might be the case when it comes to laptops or vacuum cleaners but not relationships and careers. These things should be regularly serviced and patched-up. They are not a tub of yogurt that’s gone a bit sour, more often than not they are a car that just needs a bit of oil. We are constantly abandoning opportunities that just need a little bit of TLC in order to keep reaping returns. But alas: try and fix a four-year friendship? Nah. I’ve got 3000 friends on Facebook, I don’t need that bitch. Ride out a rough patch a work? Damn, have you seen how many jobs there are on Seek? Then there’s the old “Hey, its been ages! We should catch-up ” (aka “do you still think I’m cute?!”) messages that start popping up in your inbox when someone is preparing to exit a relationship and looking for a soft place to land.

A new boyfriend every week, a new best friend every month and a new job every year. Keep. ‘Em. Coming. Companies wonder why young talent won’t stay when they’ve been contracted, probationed and treated like visitors in an organisation that wants them to feel at home. Friendships these days seem to go out of style faster than most reality TV contestants and don’t even get me started on long-term relationships (apparently a terrifying prospect for FMCG fans). Love and romance now inevitably die like cut flowers because everyone wants a bouquet of roses but no-one wants to take care of the plant. Quite honestly, I’m sick to death of being someone’s impulse purchase that gets picked up and dropped like a packet of Mentos. Don’t buy into FMCG life choices and don’t ever let someone treat you like one. In life, although they might be part of your appeal, you should never be chosen solely for your affordable price, convenient location or cuter-than-most aesthetics.

Man vs Woman: Who Wins the Grooming Contest?

As we stand knee-deep in manure in the paddock of life, we often can’t help but ask ourselves if the grass is really greener on the other side. Sauntering through the meadows wondering “what if I had been a born a bull and not a cow? How would life be different?”  No doubt the pastures are probably much the same shade on both sides of the fence but there’s always room for speculation. I don’t want to argue on which gender wins at life because that’s not as black and white as Daisy the cow. Undoubtedly guys have many struggles that we can’t relate to, but  I’d like to share with you what grooming  looks like from the female paddock. While we are primping, curling, blending, soaking, painting, plucking, rinsing and repeating you lads seem to roll on by, not a care in the world, looking effortlessly handsome after about five whole minutes of grooming.  Lucky bastards.

Let’s start with the most obvious one: makeup. Granted, this one is both a blessing and a curse for females. The arbitrary grind of makeup application is draining and I dream about the amount of extra sleep and money I would have if it was out of the equation. Don’t even try and tell me that girls choose to wear make-up and that we look just as good without it because we don’t. You are misinformed. I can bet that half the girls you think you’ve seen without make-up were wearing foundation and mascara at a minimum; more than likely they woke up 15 minutes before you to smash on some face paint and brush their hair before you woke up.  Trust me on this one; I have tried not wearing makeup before only to be accosted by concerned friends and family: “No Dad, I am not sick. I am just ugly. Thanks for noticing.”

Every girl has a different routine when it comes to makeup but what it boils down to is a combination of skill, investment and expertise developed over a lifetime of trial and error (special thanks to my high-school friend who very politely told me to buy a bronzer without glitter for the day time and to my mum for throwing out my purple hair mascara). My makeup bag is now worth more than what’s in my wallet, not to mention the ten years it took learning to apply nail polish, the three years it took to perfect the art of fake tan and the 437 bottles of foundation I bought before I found the perfect match (and thank you to whoever installed florescent lighting in department stores for that).  And what are we trying to achieve with our groaning make-up bags full of glosses, creams and powders? The “natural” look of course (#iwokeuplikethis #icallbullshit)! Anyone who has seen me without make up and lived to tell the tale will know that in fact I look like the poster girl for a government anti-crystal meth campaign. I definitely wasn’t born with it, thank God there’s Maybelline. There’s good and bad to makeup and actually maybe this is a win for us girls because with all the smoke and mirrors of make-up we can razzle-dazzle you into thinking we’re more Scar-jo than Monster but for boys if you’re ugly… you’re ugly. Soz.

Onto the bathroom – oh, to be a man in the shower. All you have to do is stand there, be naked and enjoy the blissful cascade of temperate water. A lot of guys don’t even use shampoo these days, and really they don’t need to. As we try to steal back some time in the mornings the shower is a bit more like an automated car wash that systematically deploy washes, scrubs and rinses. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, exfoliator, brush teeth, shave legs, rinse conditioner get out moisturise, body face and hands (each with different products) then the arduous task of drying your hair. If you don’t have 6-8 hours to spare then you probably own a $250 turbo powered, ionic, ceramic, and more-powerful-than-my-economical-city-car hairdryer like me.  Guys won’t understand the need for such a powerful piece of machinery… but they also won’t understand the feeling of having a dead otter hanging off your head and the risk-factor for hypothermia if you sit around waiting for your hair to dry naturally. For a girl spending 45 minutes in the bathroom is a given – for a guy it’s a bit suspicious. That’s all I’ll say.

Peeing standing up. That’s a win, but let’s not go any further on that topic because I don’t want to risk get into the whole Freudian envy conversation. Similarly, guys are winning the bathroom game because they are free from the demands of the monthly moon-cycle and the hormonal rollercoaster that comes with it. Some argue that Man-struation actually does happen but I’ve been too busy sobbing hysterically over Grey’s Anatomy and feeding my face with chocolate to have investigated that any further.

And finally, hair removal. I’m all for the man-scaping and there’s definitely increasing pressure on men to get around grooming. I see the barber shops, moustache wax and all that gaff. Still, the pressure is mild for you in comparison. For a lady you’re going to be treated like some kind of lost tribeswoman if you decide not to shave your legs or manage your eyebrows. I don’t need to explain the pain and cost associated with waxing, threading and electrolysis – if the procedure itself doesn’t hurt you the maintenance bill is sure to sting. With the rise of the new lumberjack fad the onus on men to shave is at an all-time low as they try strike the perfect balance between wood cutter and woodland creature, yet still we ladies try to live up to unreasonable standards of hair removal battling shaving rash, in-growns and blunt razors as we fight a futile battle against nature. I absolutely draw the line at arm-shaving; I’m not even going to entertain the idea. I’d rather have the forearms of the Yo-Go gorilla than suffer from cactus-like arm regrowth. End of conversation.

All I know is that I certainly envy the simplicity with which guys can maintain their appearance. The rise of the man-tenance (is that a thing?!) is sure to increase the pressure on men to take a more regimented beautification routine. God knows that there are hordes of you already secretly bleaching your teeth, tanning and waxing when you think no one is looking. Just be aware that  girls can spot a plucked eyebrow, an unseasonal tan and your Hollywood choppers from a mile away so there there’s no point denying, just own it. Guys, however, are still in a lucky position where they can pick and choose their level of grooming. If I was to throw out my razor and grow a healthy crop of armpit hair I would lose all social credibility and be bundled in with hemp-toking hippies. If I didn’t wear makeup I’d probably be quarantined for fear of Ebola and if I threw out my hair routine I’d be Hermione in the first Harry Potter movie.

The apparent downside for guys is that they have fewer avenues for beautification. Sadly, if you’re an ugly guy then you’re in a spot of trouble. But still, I can’t help but think about the cumulative amount of hours I’ve spent buying, applying and removing makeup and all the rest. If I had that time back I probably could’ve walked the Kokoda, learned Spanish and won a bronze in rhythmic gymnastics. But would anyone really care if I was a yellow tooth, uni-browed, hairy little acrobat? No, I think not. Unfortunately for us, Susan Boyle is an exception not a rule, and if you don’t adhere to the minimal social standards for preening you are not likely to get any positive press.