What started with an unsuccessful visit to the hairdresser, ended with E&M‘s Julia Zalewska realising how many things were changing around her, and her being unable to just stand still. From external pressures to getting married to the dark future of our planet, Julia gives us a personal account of how all these changes make her feel.

Last Friday, I visited a hairdresser. It was a dilemma: I really felt like refreshing my look, so I tried to make an appointment at my trusted salon. But the first available date was in weeks, way too late… As I wanted something simple, I thought that it would not be bad to try out a new place (I believed the good reviews on Google). I could not have been more wrong.

My hair was a complete disaster. From bright luminous blonde, I went to much darker and a bit ginger? I cried Friday night and Saturday morning, then washed my hair with head&shoulders mixed with baking soda (don’t do this at home, or anywhere). Right now, my hair is more or less repaired (after a second visit to the hairdresser). It’s still not satisfying, but a lot better.

No more big changes

The reason I’m telling you this silly story is this: for the first time in a long time, I did not want a big change with my hair. I used to joke with my friends (when I was single) that I liked my hair like my men – changing. But now I wanted no fringe, Godard’s muse or boyish haircut. Just a refreshment – a few highlights and trimming the tips.

I’m at this point in life where I feel right. I just want to live in the moment – not going anywhere. Just like I didn’t want to change my haircut, I don’t want to change much in my life. But it’s quite challenging to just stay still and take a rest.

It’s quite challenging to just stay still and take a rest

Many things have changed recently, and it all leaves marks on me like steps set in the snow. The changes are not bad but tiring in a way. One of my closest friends will soon move to Berlin. It’s a huge change in her life and, supporting her, I feel as if in a way I am there too, with all of her emotions and worries. I try to soothe her feelings, make it better and many times I get an impression that I can’t, I just don’t know how.

I think it’s the best thing that could have happened to her and hope she’ll think the same, when she’s finally there. But the choice she has made is not only about living a fabulous life in Berlin, with its Kreuzberg, Helmut Newton museum, and hipster coffee shops. The first step she must take is leaving – leaving our town, saying goodbye to her friends and family that she now sees every week, and to her beautiful lavishly-growing plants. It’s not easy, even if it’s only a train ride or a flight away.

Are we already there?

Also, I’ve now found myself to be a person of a certain age, whose peers are getting engaged and married. I must admit it’s a bit of a surprise that we’re already here – I’m only 25. It seems surreal, whenever I see someone’s Instagram account with the description “my husband …” It feels as if suddenly there’s an elephant in the room. And don’t get me wrong: I do think it’s wonderful when people are in love and decide to get married. However, I also hear a lot about the pressure from family and friends, I even experience it myself. It’s all these questions: “when will you get engaged?”, “when will you get married”, “when the kids???” And the only thing I feel like answering is: “never”. That kind of decisions shouldn’t be forced.

Photo by Guilherme Petri on Unsplash

Times have changed, and fortunately many things are different now. When my parents got married it was “the Big Step”. After their wedding, they moved in together and started to share a life. But it doesn’t work this way anymore. We don’t have to put labels on our beloved ones to make the relationship real. I’ve already made ‘the Big Step’: my boyfriend and I have moved in together and decided to share our lives. And I don’t need a ring to feel sure of it.

Maybe it all sounds a bit cynical; there still is this romantic gal in me, which only makes it harder to figure out what I want. To have my cake and eat it, too. I would still enjoy exchanging engagement rings – to give the other a symbol of my love, just like in ancient times (when men also received rings). Maybe I’m just not big on weddings, which, in my opinion, are nothing but an enormous effort and a lot of stress.

Just don’t mind society

I remember one conversation with my professor in psychology, when he said: “you don’t have to get married, have kids, just follow your path, don’t mind society”. At that moment, I thought it was nothing astonishing. But now I understand what he meant – it’s not that easy to do what you actually like.

But now I understand what he meant – it’s not that easy to do what you actually like

If I was about to get married, I would make it spontaneous. Painless, forgettable, but fun. A Vegas kind of wedding. Maybe getting out of the spotlight would make it more bearable?

I feel like writing about it to get it off my mind. Maybe in a few years, or more than just a few, I’ll have a different view on the topic.  But for now I am happy that marriage is just a hypothetical situation that might (or might not) happen in the future, and I don’t have to make any plans just yet.

Global burn-out

Other changes I face are not just mine. What happens in my country, and the world, becomes difficult to handle. There’s the burn-out, which might be the main reason for my exhaustion. I believe it’s not only mine, not only Poles’, but also many people from around the globe.

The world is coming to an end is my only comment, and we (the people) are making it come true. The greed and thoughtlessness got us to the point where climate changes are going to make Earth uninhabitable. The consequences we experience now – fires, floods, earthquakes – are just a slight preview of what’s worse and inevitably to come.

I doubt if there’s any strength left in me to participate in protests, I feel helpless

Besides the climate, there’s the politics. And I can’t even put in words how furious I am to see how Poland is loosing the democracy we’ve built over the last decades, after communism. I’ve recently translated some texts for an exhibition of Belarusian women artists, and I realized how many similarities there are between our countries. It frightens me how fast we’re getting there. I doubt if there’s any strength left in me to participate in protests, I feel helpless. And the situation only gets worse – just recently Poland’s parliament has passed a new media bill that is an attempt to silence a TV channel critical of the government and it’s just one thing out of many that make us step backwards.

The world is changing

Not to mention what’s happening in Afghanistan. Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” is happening and it’s the 21st century. It could have happened to me – I believe many women face this thought. I could come up with many adjectives to try to describe what the Afghan women are facing, and I’m sure that not one, not all of them, would be adequate. It’s heart-breaking and I join them in their sorrow.

All these changes awaken in me an urge to stand still. Like at the museum, when you’re standing in front of the painting you know so well, and it’s just comforting. I want to stop the series of fallacious changes, but I can’t think of a way to bring peace. Maybe the hope is in the relationships with people, in giving. We have to help one another. There are many people out there in need, and we should try our best to care for them. Not only our friends, but also the refugees, and the people who’ve lost their houses as a result of climate catastrophes.  I guess it’s just so simple, but again, as what I heard from my professor: even if it’s uncomplicated, nobody said it’s easy.


Cover photo: Photo by Guilherme Petri on Unsplash (Unsplash licence).

  • retro

    Julia lives in Cracow with her beloved boyfriend and flat-faced cat Louis (a she). She’s a Psychology graduate at Jagiellonian University. Julia has a big crush on Truman Capote, on Italy, and on movies from the 60s. She loves long walks by the sea, a good wine & visiting museums (as art is nested deeply in her heart). She can’t imagine her life without jazz music and more alternative sounds like Beach House, the Marias or Men I Trust. She’d rather not share her future plans. Just not to jinx it. You can join her over on Instagram: @indulgeinfeelings.

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