Desperate, Clingy, Feminazi Proposes to Her Sad, Beta Boyfriend

Opinion Pieces

Admit it, the Title drew you in. Part click-bait – because you know you want to read a sad story of desperate measures, and partly because you know its me, and that I will have drawn up and injected a lethal dose of sarcasm.


I want to start this post with an acknowledgement and apology to the people whose responses/stories I have included in this. Firstly, if you recognise your response/story, then I want you to know that I am including it, but not singling you out. Secondly, I want you to know that I do not judge you, or think of you any differently. I include my own damming accounts/reflections in here too.



I proposed to my boyfriend in November 2016. You’d think by now that a woman proposing to a man would be a non-event. In 2016. But apparently it still is, just sitting there bubbling away under the surface on society’s mask of “equality”.

One family member, when my mother excitedly told the news at a family event while we were still away on our holiday, open mouthed and shocked outright said “But she can’t!”

My mother, sweetly and politely reminded her it was 2016, and of course women can propose.

The family member agreed, of course women can, but clarified “But it wasn’t on Feb 29th!!!”.


I had a billion different responses, all ranging in varying levels of support and surprise. But what I really learnt from proposing to my now-husband, is despite appearances of equality, we really have a long way to go.


I am aware of the image I must conjure up in certain people’s minds when they learn I did the proposing.

And I am aware of it because I used to have a similar reaction.

At best it’s an un-smiling woman, with tight hair in a low-bun, wearing pantsuits and no makeup, carrying a clipboard and post-it notes, notoriously inflexible, not “fun”, with no social life who likes to control board meetings and run a tight ship. At worst it’s a giant praying mantis, screeching loudly with bulging muscles, stomping her way through life and ripping heads off the spindly little males. She also doesn’t wear a bra.

Related imageImage result for desperate woman



For context, I didn’t always plan on proposing to my husband.

I, like many, many other women and girls, had the image in my head of my partner proposing in some romantic personalised way to me, where I would get emotional, say yes, and don a remarkably sweet and sparkly engagement ring, showing it off to friends and families as I retold the story of how he asked.

The problem with that story I had in my head (and those of you who know me would agree) is that it REALLY doesn’t fit with who I am.

This is how the wedding industry, the engagement industry, and our overall attitude of women and love in society has marked young women like me. Because, even if I was ever to be proposed to by a man, if I was being honest with myself, this is not how I would have wanted it.

Firstly, I don’t wear jewellery, so a ring is not a necessary thing.

Secondly, a personalised way would be on top of a cliff after an amazing day of climbing, watching the sunset.


But, I didn’t have much to be guided by.

In fact, not many of us women do. In 2017, a survey found that only 1% of heterosexual relationship marriage proposals were by the female partner ( We just don’t have a script or any real life examples to draw on.

On top of that, when we do hear of non-traditional proposals (e.g. no ring, non-traditional method, not a surprise etc), the dominating cultural response can be less than positive.

I once heard a proposal, where the man proposed to the woman after a day of hiking through mud, sweat and tears, described as “quite different and risky”, because it didn’t follow the pattern we are familiar with. There was still a ring, and the man was still doing the asking. But because they were dirty, sweaty, and not somewhere conventionally “romantic”, it was considered unorthodox and “risky”.

It’s no wonder that we women are inflexible when it comes to dreaming up our own romantic versions of proposals – because unless you have someone else in your life who has done it a different way, it can be really quite hard to not only come up with something different yourself, but also have the courage to do it.


So how did I come from dreaming of a romantic evening sunset where I am given a dazzling diamond (that I certainly will never wear, let alone actually want), to proposing to my husband in the desert dirt by our campsite, after a day of mountain biking (without showers) with a book of drawings?


It’s a big step, really. But honestly, all it took was to see someone else walk that path for me to realise there is so many other ways of living your love.


A good friend from my 4th year of medical school, was studying with me in Armidale.

She was planning on proposing to her boyfriend, and enlisted the help of another friend and me to discuss her ideas.

One day, after classes finished, she had us around for dinner. We were enjoying good food, and chatting away, when she brought the idea up.

I remember trying to play it cool, to not react, or widen my eyes when she told us she was going to propose. She said it so casually, and matter-of-factly, like it was a regular thing, and I didn’t want to react the way I felt.


And the fact I reacted this way inside, brought me a deep sense of shame.


Shame because I considered myself a feminist, and this shouldn’t have been a big deal. Shame because I did feel that way, when I honestly knew I shouldn’t.

Shame because I was clearly manipulated by society to believe a certain thing and think a certain way.

It was hard, cold evidence to myself that I had been affected in the way I acted and thought about the world, and that it was not in line with who I thought I was.


Back in the living room, I didn’t react that way outwardly. Instead I got excited and asked all the right questions.

But when I got home later that night, I kept going over and over how I felt and how I had reacted inside. I couldn’t stand the way I had felt about it, but I also couldn’t stop that niggling voice inside me that said, “women shouldn’t propose, because it’s just wrong”.


Instead of giving in to that overwhelming loud niggling voice inside, I decided to confront it. I spent the next little while teasing out all the reasons I thought that was true and analysing them.

Eventually I realised there was no solid reason that I could back up with my actual beliefs as to why women couldn’t propose to men, other than being unintentionally conditioned to think that way.


So, it was with true joy that I celebrated my friend’s engagement, when she finally proposed to her boyfriend with an engraved watch, in a castle in Canada.

It was also around this time that I started thinking seriously about my own relationship with my boyfriend.

I had previously thought I was ready to get married, and we had discussed it together before. But only academically, in terms of we both agreed that we would get married one day.

I had started to be ready for that day to come, and I had been wondering how I would bring it up with him, to prompt him to propose.


Thanks to my friend, I suddenly had an alternative way, other than passively hoping he would ask me.

She had given me the idea, and the courage to follow it through.

I spent months creating a beautiful book of drawings of all our adventure’s together – mountain biking, hiking, climbing, sailing, caving. I weaved a story of all these adventures we had shared, and the story culminated in a picture asking him to marry me.

It was perfectly, uniquely, us.

When we got home from America, we excitedly shared the news.

We were ready for people to make the assumption and ask us things like “so you finally popped the question, good on ya mate” to Kirren, or “Where did he do it?” to me, or ask to see the ring.

What I wasn’t ready for was the sudden silence, the raised eyebrows, or the outright “and was Kirren ok with you doing that?”

So, I’ve compiled a list of the different responses I got from people.

Don’t get me wrong – we got nothing but overwhelming joy and support for our intended marriage from our friends and loved ones. Most people were honestly so excited and showed nothing but that excitement. But there were a few responses to the method of engagement that were less than receptive.

The most common theme I notice are excuses from women. It was as if my simple and polite correction of “I actually proposed to him”, became perceived as me casting a judgement on their feminism. Which was simply not true – I was only excited to be sharing my news with them, not judge them.

Some came up with excuses why they could never do the same (even though I hadn’t asked).


Here is a list of some typical responses or reasons

      • I want it to be romantic though, you know, in a traditional way, with him getting down on one knee, and picking a ring out for me
        1) Just because the woman is doing the proposing doesn’t make it UNROMANTIC. There is this awful idea that persists even today that “romantic” things are done BY men, TO women. This is dumb. Women can be romantic – to their male partners or female partners.
        2) If you want a ring, now you get to choose the perfect ring together, and one that actually fits or suits you!
      • If I propose and he says “yes” How do I know he really WANTS to get married, and isn’t just agreeing with me for convenience, or not to hurt my feelings? When a man proposes, you know for sure his feelings are true.
        1) Welcome to the world of men, ladies. You can reverse that entire situation for men. How does he know you aren’t just saying yes to not hurt his feelings, or because you are undecided and it’s the easy option? Or that you just really want to get married because weddings have been built up into this giant necessary milestone for a woman since you were a child.
        2) If you suspect he won’t be sincere in his answer to you, then maybe you need to rethink having a relationship with this man.
      • “He would NOT be ok with me proposing” or “He would prefer to be the one to do it”, “He would take it as an attack on his manliness”,
        – I have heard these, in multiple different renditions. The idea of being with someone who would be hurt, upset, embarrassed or feel his masculinity attacked by the person they love declaring they want to spend the rest of their life with them, is less than ideal to me. I would want to challenge that ideal in them, hopefully prompt them to grow and change (like I did when confronted with a similar reaction), otherwise they are choosing to allow gender roles, societal rules, toxic masculinity and sexism stand in the way of a true partnership, and to colour the relationship and love between two people.


      • “That’s his job”
        Apparently, in a world where men and women are considered equal, the same people who loudly proclaim that they do equal amounts of cooking, cleaning and watering the garden in their household chores, still believe there are “mens” and “womens” jobs in the relationship. Really, all they are showing is that having men and women take equal parts in household chores is just a popular fad they have become accustomed to, and that the real deep seated gender role stereotypes still exist, and can’t be applied outside of who does the cooking in the kitchen.



      • It just doesn’t seem right, for the girl to be chasing the guy”
        This is the same logic people apply to anything they’ve grown up thinking or believing, and rather than challenging themselves to grow, they decide social stagnation is better. People also said “it doesn’t seem right” about gay marriage, interracial marriage, women getting the vote, women going to university, the list goes on… I’m not implying these people are on the same level as homophobes and racists, just that that is the same lack of logic and critical self reflection, and it’s not a good reflection of your character.


      • “Aren’t you worried he’ll be disappointed? You’re depriving him of the chance to propose to you”.
        If my husband is going to be disappointed I declared my undying love to him before he did, then maybe he should have jumped onto it earlier.
        Also, depriving him of a chance to be romantic is quite a patronizing thing. Its like going around giving a child an opportunity to be responsible every now and again, and rejoicing when they get it right. I don’t need to give him opportunities to be romantic. If I’ve taken this one “away from him”, he’s a big grown man, he can find another way to make me feel special and needed and loved. This is way my way of being romantic to him. I didn’t do this because I was “fed up” and because he is a baby and can’t even do a romantic proposal properly. I did it because 1) I wanted to get married to him 2)I was very ready to move on to that stage of our lives and advance our relationship and 3) I wanted to ask him, to show him how much he meant to me.


      • I’d be scared people would pity me – like why didn’t he propose to me

People will judge you no matter WHAT you do in life. If someone is going to feel sorry for me because “I had to propose” then, they don’t understand me and don’t plan on trying. And in that case, I shouldn’t be affected by what they think of me.

      • I like traditional engagements

“Traditional” is an ever-evolving concept. One day, maybe women and men proposing equally as often will be considered traditional, and something else will be the radical new thing. If this evolution wasn’t the case – “traditional” engagements would be arranged marriages by your parents, and a dowry would be involved.




In sharing these responses, I am not trying to say I am better than these people. Because I am not, and I originally had an aversion to the idea too.

I am trying to paint a picture, use personal stories as evidence that we, as a society, have a problem.

That for all the advancements we have made in gender equality, for some reason, we have not made much progress in how we express our love.



To add to my personal anecdotal evidence, I’m going to direct you to look at the popular culture surrounding the issue. We don’t need to look very far to see these negative stereotypes existing today.

Just doing a preliminary search of “proposal” on instagram brings up thousands of relevant hashtags and accounts.
Proposal story instagram accounts, some boasting up to a million + followers, are sharing pictures and videos to millions of viewers, most likely to be young, not engaged, or not even in a relationship.
I did a quick preliminary audit of 5 such accounts, and found 1 account had shared 2 posts in their entire collection of a woman proposing to a man, and a few accounts had posts of same-sex couples.

Movies and TV have been perpetuating the idea, with notable examples from my growing up and impressionable years including:

      • The Proposal with Sandra Bullock (2009). The IMBD summary says it all “A pushy boss forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada.”

When She proposes, it’s a joke, a sham, its for her Visa. At the end of the movie, after the two characters have grown closer and in love, he proposes and they live happily ever after.

      • Leap Year (2010) – where the main character plans to propose to her boyfriend, and ends up finding out she doesn’t love him and falls in love with someone else who proposes to her instead, kind of implying that when a girl decides to propose the relationship is crappy and doomed, and only when a guy does it – its true happily ever after love.
      • Miranda Hobbes (Sex and the City) – a workaholic, inflexible, career driven control-freak, who proposes to her partner
      • Big Bang Theory: When Penny is white-girl wasted, squats down, and drunkenly proposes to Leonard (only to be rejected) and the audience laugh.



In addition to all this negative portrayal of women proposing, we don’t really have any good examples in our popular narrative to draw on. We all know exactly what to do when the time comes for a man to ask us to marry them.


The New York Times did a pretty good article on this exact issue, and I wanted to share a couple of quotes from it:


“when women ask men, there’s no script for how they are supposed to react. Women scream or jump in the air. From our research, many men said having a woman propose to them wouldn’t feel right. It’s all about controlling the timing of these events. When they ask, they get to advance the relationship.

 Why do men get to be the gatekeepers of relationships? Why do they continue to get to decide and call the shots in relationships? You can argue that we are more equal now than ever, and that gender inequality, on a whole, doesn’t exist in modern relationships. And while we are certainly much better off than our ancestors, men are still in control of the advancement into serious relationship – marriage.”


“In 2016, we have Hillary Clinton shattering glass ceilings, Sheryl Sandberg telling us to “lean in,” and Beyoncé singing anthems about how girls run the world. But when it comes to the marriage proposal, women are somehow fine taking a backseat. “





You don’t need to be the “strong independent women, bossy career woman, uber-planning woman, bra burning feminazi” to propose. I consider myself strong, driven and a feminist. But I am not a career climber, and I quite like wearing bras. The fact of the matter is I am a strong independent woman. I am strong, I am a woman, and I am capable of being independent in my own person. But a marriage isn’t about being a strong independent woman. It’s about being a partnership. And I stress that being a strong independent woman has nothing to do with proposing to my partner. It may have given me the courage to do it in a so-called “equal” time when women don’t propose often to men, but the real reason I did so, is quite plain and simple: I wanted to marry this man, and I was ready to. All I had to do was see if he was feeling the same.


And now to answer the question many people wanted to know:
How DID Kirren feel about all of this?
Well, I’ll let the smile do all the talking.



Finally I want to actually acknowledge the amazing family and friends I have, despite what I might make it seem like in this post. While researching for this post, I read a lot of blogs, articles, discussions and forums online. I was saddened every time I read someone’s experience about how they were going to propose to their boyfriends, some even going out and buying a ring, only to be continually harassed, unsupported by close friends and family, and eventually talked out of it by them. These women regret it now, and having read other women’s stories of their proposals, wish they had found them earlier for encouragement.  I wish they had someone in their lives to encourage them. I wish they had someone like I had with my medical friend, who paved that path for me.




Some fun reading articles if you’re a nerd like me





Giant Praying Mantis with Bulging Muscles Who Eats Men For Breakfast and Doesn’t Wear a Bra (subtitle: Tess Rants about sexism)

Opinion Pieces

“Do you really think sexism still exists Tess? Or are you just finding drama where there is none?”

I was asked this (or something to this effect) by a well-meaning friend a few years back.

I was taken aback by the question, and I didn’t really know how to respond. Having been brought up in a very equality-minded home, where my parents drilled into me at a young age that men and women should be equal, and having surrounded myself in my adult years by friends of both genders who took part in stereotypical male activities in the outdoors, I flailed trying to find a response.

The part of me that has had the “equality is key to progress” mantra stamped into my brain automatically fired off with “of course sexism still exists and is important to fight against!”.

But the other part of me – the part that always suspects I am wrong and know nothing of grown up affairs – faltered.

My response came out as some sort of mumbled, stuttered strung together mash of cliche sentences, which I am 100% certain convinced my friend I was regurgitating nonsense feminism propaganda and actually had no idea what I was talking about.

To an extent, that is exactly the truth. I really had no idea what was going on. I was in my first years out of home, first years living my own life, in this grown up adult world, and I had previously lived a very privileged life, full of support and love.

Whenever someone questioned my statements, my opinions, I assumed it was because I was not articulate enough, not intelligent enough, and that my opinion or statement was in all probability wrong.

Whenever someone took over a task for me, I knew it was because I hesitated in performing it and also probably lacked the skill necessary to complete it anyway.

As time has gone by, and I have started reflecting on some key stand-out experiences, I have realised that none of this was true.

Here are a list of times, that stand out without me thinking much about findings examples, where I experienced sexism, and I – for whatever variant reason of too shy/too scared/assumed they were right and I was wrong – brushed it off as ‘normal’.

  • only girls who have been roped in by their adventurous boyfriends mountain bike

I had recently started mountain biking with my Loverboy. We were equally as shit, equally as brave, equally as poor and had equally as shitty bikes are each other. We had driven one Easter break down to Mt Buller, where we had heard of the best mountain biking tracks in the country. With us, in our borrowed Station-wagon, were our 2 falling apart hard tail mountain bikes.

We arrived bright and early one morning to the Mt Buller carpark, eager and ready to roll. Only problem was: my brake pads had somehow come loose and disappeared from the front brakes of my bike (yes, this was back before we could afford the oh-s-fancy discbrakes. Pity us). We rolled the offending bike into the bike shop/hire shop at Mt Buller, to get the issue fixed. The bike repair man had no brake-pads for us. We decided to splash out and hire me a bike so that we could actually enjoy what we had come here to do. I ended up getting a nice shiny red bike, which would be miles better than the Loverboy’s shitty bike. Whilst paying for the pretty red (red=fast guys!), we asked the nice bike-man which trails he would recommend. He gave us the trail map of the area and asked about our abilities. We replied in unison “intermediate – blue”. He then drew out a route for us on the map, taking us down some greens to start with, then some easier blues, and if we felt confident after that, some proper good blue runs, before completing our circuit.

Excitedly, we grinned at each other.

The bike-man shared our enthusiasm, and stated “Man! you’re gonna have the best time!”

Thinking he was addressing us both, I opened my mouth to agree. The bike-man turned to face me, pulling a half frown,

“Look, I’m not gonna lie. Its hard riding. Like, quite hard. You’re probably gonna cry”.

He then, lightning speed before I could recover myself, turned back to Kirren “aw, but dude, You’re gonna have the BEST time!”.

I panicked.

Why would he say that? Was it going to be super hard? As always, my default reaction was that he was all-knowing, and that I was pathetic and a crap rider and that I was going to cry and have the worst time.

I, very casually, trying to keep my cool, asked “which part exactly?”, trying to find a pin-point on the map of the exact moment of my impending melt-down.

He roughly passed his finger over the marked blue trails. “It’s quite difficult from here to here. Its fine though, it’s easy enough to get off and walk. And also, there is this nice part right here” His pen drew a big circle around a ridgeline on the contour map “Where you can take a good selfie”. He smiled sympathetically at me.

I nodded, my heart pounding in my chest, a familiar feeling of anxiety and dread overcoming me.

We thanked the bike man, wheeled out of the shop, and made our way to the start of the oncoming ride.

I was so scared.

I was clearly going to fail at this ride.

All because of something a stranger has said to me. It says wonders about my self-confidence at the time doesn’t it?

Beside me, Kirren was practically bounding with excitement for the wonderful sunny autumn day of riding ahead of us.

I distinctly remember, the first part of the ride was a fire-trail down a hill to where the single-track stuff started. A firetrail. I remember, so very clearly, being terrified of this fire-trail, the words of the bike-man echoing in my brain.

A firetrail terrified me.

I had been on dozens of firetrails on bikes, ever since I was about 7 and would take my bike up the 4wd tracks in the national park behind my house. Furthermore, I had ridden lots and lots of actual technical mountain biking trails in the past few months.

Kirren and I rode together, me gaining more and more confidence as the day went on and I realized I had done much scarier riding before.

It culminated in a particularly technical track, with tight switchbacks, which I shot through with a smile in the fading autumn afternoon. Kirren, riding just a second in front of me, stacked it on a rock, and ripped open his knee. blood was pouring everywhere, and I patched him up fast.

I remember riding with pride back towards the carpark, knowing I had managed to come away unscathed, after riding everything Kirren had done, with just as much speed.

Before we went into the shop, Kirren smiled at me and grabbed my hand.

“hey, go in there and tell the guy how much fun you had, and that you didn’t stack it once, while I tore open my knee.”

This was the first time I realised that day, that maybe what the guy had said was a little sexist and un-called for. Kirren had noticed it, but not realised the impact it had had on me.

We went into the shop together, and the shop-man instantly noticed Kirren’s bleeding knee

“Niiiice! you must have been giving it a real good go!” he said, before either of us could voice our practised come-back to his earlier remarks.

“OH” we faltered. “Yeah, must have fucked up a turn or something” Kirren fumbled.

I never delivered my line.

Me on the FAST red bike

Kirren on the crappy blue bike

  • boys-only weekend camping getaways can’t have girls go on it because then the boys won’t be able to fart and swear and be boys and you will ruin it for them

When I was a little girl, about 7 years old, I had mostly male friends. It was a product of the area I lived in – geographically isolated from other people in a very small country village on the border of a national park. I had the best time as a child – running through the mountains freely, playing epic hide-and-seeks in the caves and cliff faces of the Wollemi National Park, pretending to be wild horses running from captors and pretending to be Bushrangers building our hide outs in the trees. I loved building fires, building camps and camping under the stars. I loved playing in the coals of the fire, collecting firewood, and eating damper.

Every so often, and I honestly can’t remember how many times this happened over the years, the local dads in the area- and their young sons ages ranging from 3-12 – would have a “boy’s gettaway” in the mountains. Sometimes they would ride their horses up to a hut somewhere int he Wollemi national park. Other times it was the 4wd, or motorbikes.

They sometimes camped in caves, sometimes in the old drovers huts, or sometimes in tents out under the stars. They would go for 1-3 nights, sometimes taking musical instruments with them, sometimes ropes to abseil off cliff-faces.

I remember one particular weekend very distinctly. I was about 7 or 8.

My brother, 3 years younger than me, had been kitted out with his winter warmies, some sleeping bags and a bag of marshmellows. My best friend up the road, and his brother, were also similarly prepared. My cousins, and their fathers, had driven up for the weekend to join in on the fun weekend of camping in a family known cave that I had been to numerous times before.

Never an easy child for my poor parents, I had thrown multiple tantrums wanting to join on the trip.

My poor mother, trying to keep the peace, had explained to me in an attempt to reason with an unreasonable 8 year old, that the men needed a weekend out to be men, with their sons. I, not understanding that at all, and still thinking way past the behavioural cut off for development, that the world revolved around me, screamed and cried. It was just not FAIR!

Mum, attempting to find a reason in the law that states men need men time, explained the only reasons she could fathom: the males wanted time to bond, and that if I was there they wouldn’t feel comfortable farting, and smelling and swearing. My presence would ruin it for them.

I remember exploding into a fit of rage, crying and incomprehensible screaming at this. I wasn’t able to articulate it to my mum at the time, but I remember thinking it to myself – I was more than happy to fart with them – in fact I thought farting was hilarious. And I didn’t give a shit (the worst swear word I knew at the time) about them swearing around me!

I was angry, and inconsolable. And not for the first time. Apparently this was such a predictable tantrum from me, that mum, after previous boys weekends tantrums, had invited my female cousin up for the weekend to distract and play with me.

The unfortunate thing was, this cousin of mine, was just as much in love with the outdoors, camping and “being a boy” as I was.

We conspired with each other.

The evening my brother and all the other men drove out into the mountains to begin their weekend of camping and exploring, my cousin and I prepared our bags. We had a sleeping bag and an extra jumper, some gloves and a torch, and maybe an apple or a musili bar.

After mum had put us to bed that night, we lay in bed waiting until she had gone to sleep.

We then snuck out on the house, and began sneaking through the paddocks towards the sleepy black mountains. We didn’t make it very far before out light died from low batteries, and the creepy scary noises of the night made us turn back.

We scurried back to bed, warming ourselves under the blankets, and vowing we would re-attempt at the crack of dawn.

Dawn came, and we were out of bed again at first light. We waded through the long, dewy grass of the paddocks before the national park entrance. We finally made it to the treeline, and ducked under the fences. We began the way towards where I knew the cave was, but stopped after a minute to eat our breakfast of apples or musili bars.

We were never going to make it – but our determined 8 year old selves thought we would.

We began to shiver, sitting eating our food as the cold winter sun rose above the misty paddocks, our clothes soaked through from the dew in the grass.

Cold, and still hungry after a long walk from the house on our little legs, we decided to turn back and have breakfast by the fire.

I will never blame my parents for the feelings I felt during those times.

I will never blame my parents for not including me on the men’s weekends.

They weren’t the sole organisers or instigators of those weekends. The fact that the men wanted a weekend away all together with their sons is not a crime in my books. In fact, it’s a wonderful thing that men were spending quality time with their sons.

It also wasn’t my parents place to overturn the whole event with lessons on equality, allowing me to partake in the activities, when so many other daughters and wives were being denied. Maybe none of them wanted to go, like I did. Maybe they did.

But I will not blame my parents for keeping the peace and the tradition.

I blame society instead.

It was during this time, at the confusing age of 8, where I went through a stage of secretly wanting to be a boy.

I had weighed up the options in my 8 year old brain, and decided life was better if you were a boy.

You got to pee standing up. Which was forever more convenient in the bush and mountains.

You got to go on boys weekends playing and camping  in the mountains, abseiling and building fires.

You were allowed to fart, and one-day swear.

You got to ride motorbikes, you got to enjoy action movies.

You got to play with action man AND barbie, instead of always having to play with barbie.

You weren’t forced into dresses or to brush your hair.

People didn’t buy you pink things for your birthday.

You weren’t frowned at for wanting a black bicycle with red flames on the side, instead of a pink and blue glittery one.

This culminated, one day, in dress-up day at primary school, which brings me to point numero tres:

  • Only men can be action heroes

One day a year you got to go dressed as whoever you wanted to, and  parade in-front of the parents and teachers at the dress-up parade.

I, having had a tantrum the year before wanting a BatMan outfit for Christmas just like my cousin had gotten, went proudly to school that morning dressed as BatMan. I even had the cool mask!

This resulted in me, proudly standing on stage, as the principle announced each dressed up school kid and their character over the microphone. Then, when I went up to the principle and whispered my character to him before the big announcement, he asked “are you sure you aren’t batgirl Tess?”. I looked at him like he was stupid

“No!” I replied emphatically “Phillipa (the friend behind me in the line, whom we had co-ordinated to be Batman and Batgirl together), is Batgirl!” I explained, rolling my eyes.

Later on, as we mingled with the other students and parents, I found out how cruel kids can be for the first time, when everyone began teasing me for being BatMan.

“But you’re a GIRL!” I remember one girl explaining, like I was an idiot child who had forgotten my own gender.

I came home in tears that day, and mum hugged me, made me pikelets for afternoon tea, and helped me plan next years outfit – a princess from fairyland with wings and a sparkly dress.

Until recently, there wasn’t many other super heroes in movies that were women. I certainly had a hard time finding one when I was a kid to dress up as.

  • Women’s-only Outdoor events are “less than”

So this point and its associated sexism is all on me. I am the perpetrator. I am the ‘bad guy’ here.

I am a lover of the outdoors. I am a climber, a hiker, a canyoner, a mountain biker, a skier, a caver (albeit a poor one at best).

I absolutely LOVE anything outdoors and challenging.

But for the longest time, I cringed away from ever involving myself in anything “women’s” oriented.

Women’s climbing trip? ugh! So not cool.

Women’s mountain biking clinic? Ugh, sounds like a beginners lesson to me!

Women’s hiking meet up? No thanks,  I’d rather not spend a day hiking with unfit barbie dolls, and comparing the cost of Lorna Jane leggings!

Yes, seriously guys, that was the attitude I entered the grown up and outdoor world with.

The only thing I knew about women in the outdoors was that outdoor women’s gear was always pink or purple (two colours I absolutely HATE), and that most women didn’t do outdoor things, and that I was really “one of the boys”.

This perplexing and embarrassing attitude started to change around about the time I started seriously climbing.

I went on climbing trips, and found myself (and my pathetic lack of self-esteem) worried I was taking too long climbing something, worried I was slowing everyone down, worried that my ineptitude was annoying every other male on the trip with my  incompetence (because males have always outnumbered females on any climbing trip).

I, as a consequence, never volunteered myself to be the leader. I never tried to lead climbs I hadn’t done before, and I never tried climbs I knew weren’t within my skill range. I therefore, never, ever pushed myself.

Sometime during this time, some “all girls” climbing weekends were being organised by my local university outdoor club. Still wary and under the impression girls events = less than, I joined up.

This is about when I also moved into a house full of female climbers.

Do you know what I discovered?

It took an embarrassingly long time to connect the dots.

But whenever I went out with girls to climb, I felt less pressured to be fast, quick, competent and “good” at climbing.

I felt more empowered to take my time on a climb I struggled with.

They encouraged me, the talked me through it, they lamented being short and not being able to reach holds, and they voiced their understanding as I found myself being overwhelmed with fear on a climb.

This isn’t to say men-folk ever did the opposite for me, whilst climbing with them. They generally are awesome people who would belay me all day if I asked them to, shout out encouragement if I requested.

But the support and lack of imagined judgement I had from women was the best thing for my climbing.

Since then, I have been surprised time and time again whenever I’ve been on a female – dominated day of outdoor activities. Women did NOT equal less than. Some girls I went climbing with absolutely CRUSHED it. Some women’s mountain biking events were way, way, way above the skill level I could attempt.

I found Instagram communities specifically for women in the outdoors, and I devoured blog posts and stories of the kind of achievements they were reaching that I could only dream of.

Having an amazing time with a bunch of women on a women’s backcountry skiing trip

My friends Bek and Georgia came on a climbing trip to the Warrumbungles where we climbed a spire together and had a blast

  • Men set up camp, women make it homely.

I’ve grown up camping. Lots.

I’ve been well conditioned to the rules and regulations of a good camp-setup by my father – the tarp Nazi. Tents must be tight, pegged out, taut and tidy. Tarps mustn’t flap in the breeze.

Not only does this look nice, it prevents damage, wind noises, moisture and rain from wrecking your camping experience.

As a consequence, my tent is always pegged out beautifully, and I can’t stand a floppy lazy tent.

Kirren is the opposite. He can’t stand spending all that time fussing with a tent. Especially on a nice clear and still night. He would rather just throw the fly over the tent in a token effort and leave it.

I love fussing around at camp. I gather the firewood carefully, I build the fire and light it with gentle breaths and deep lungs if it’s damp.

Kirren would rather sit in the dark and cold with a good book and some food than bother with the annoyances of building and maintaining a fire.

This is the perfect dynamic.

I set the tent up, with my tight ropes and lines. Kirren sets up the beds inside.

I collect firewood, set the camp up. Kirren chops and boils for dinner.

This is the way it goes.

I get dinner and beds. He gets an unwanted tight tent and a nice fire to sit by.

A friend of ours, once, after observing us many times camping together, pulled me aside one day.

I’d just finished taking over setting up the tent, and my friend, whilst Kirren pumped up the airbeds, spoke with concern to me in a hushed voice.

They asked me to maybe let Kirren set up the tent next time, and if I’d ever given a thought to how it might be emasculating him every time I set the tent up and did the fire.

I was so flabbergasted by this unsolicited and unexpected advice, that I didn’t know how to respond.

Half of me was waiting for the punchline, the joke that was this ridiculous conversation.

I think I’ve shared enough of my tales by now for you to realise I didn’t say anything at all to stand up or challenge.

Later that night, whispered in the confines of our very tightly pegged out tent, I relayed the conversation to Kirren. We Snickered away quietly together, although Kirren was a little hurt that his friend thought his masculinity was so small and fragile it needed defending in such a humiliating way.

Asking the big scary bossy controlling girlfriend to relinquish some of her excess of control in order to make the weak tiny male feel more like the man he should be.

I can just see the way they must picture me in their mind. A giant praying mantis, screeching with bulging muscles as I try to rip off the head of the little spindly male.

A Happy Tess with a very tight tent, on her solo backcountry skiing trip

  • Women are nurses, men are doctors

I totally understand where this one stems from. Historically speaking, majority of nurses were female, and majority of doctors were men.

But people, it’s the 21st century. And it’s not like this is a recent change.

I cannot count the number of times in a day I get mistaken for a nurse.
Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t offend whatever overweight ego people might think doctors have.
I’m mostly just fed up having to sigh and say “Oh, sorry, I’m a doctor.” or “sorry, I’m not  your nurse, I don’t know how long your medications will be”

And I know it goes the other way for male nurses too.

There honestly are countless examples, but here are a few:

I am in the Emergency Department working the evening shift. I am tired.

A 40ish year old male comes into ED after coming off his mountain bike. He is mostly ok, just needs to be checked out and sent on his way.
I introduce myself “Hi, My name is Tess and I am one of the Doctors here”, before taking a history and examining him.

I need to run a few tests, organise some Xrays. I explain all of this, and do so.

I read the tests, make sure he intact.

Then I go to tell him the good news that it all checks out and he can go home with some regular pain relief (which I write a script for).

We build a rapport over the fact we both mountain bike. He asks when he can go back out on the bike.

I tell him whenever he feels up to it.

He grins at his wife. “See, I can go tomorrow!”

His wife smiles wryly, clearly wishing I had said a different answer “lucky you’ve found an ally in a mountain biking nurse!”

“Yeah! Thanks Nurse Tess! So we right to go now?”

I sigh. I think about correcting him. He and his wife are nice.
I don’t want to make them feel awkward or embarrassed. It’s a simple mistake.


Another time in the Emergency Department, I spend most of the evening seeing a man with chest pain. I, as always, introduce myself. I take his history, I examine him, I put a IV line in and take blood tests. I look at his ECG that the nurse has taken for me. I organise Xrays and any other relevant things. I spend ages trying to track down what medications he is on because he can’t remember. I spend ages talking to his wife on the phone who is understandably worried and concerned but cannot make it in to the hospital yet.

I have many other patients – it’s a busy night in ED.

But I take the time to do my best for him.
I speak to his cardiologist, and get him admitted, then do all the things the cardiologist wants me to do for him before he goes to the ward.

It’s not hard,  it’s my job.

I finally go to explain to him and his wife (who has finally arrived) what we are doing, how he is going to be admitted to the ward and stay for a few days in hospital. I explain about the minor heart attack he has had.

At the end of it, I ask them if they have any more questions.

The wife asks “Yes, when is he going to be seen by a doctor? He tells me he hasn’t yet seen a single doctor yet and he has been here for 4 hours.”


It’s after hours, I am the ward doctor for a number of wards.

I have been asked to review a patient who has a blood pressure which is worryingly low.

I go to them, examine and assess them. I take a few blood tests, and explain to them what is going on. I get paged to another emergency, so I tell the patient I will be back shortly.
They reply “Oh, nurse, before you go can you get me a glass of water?”

Every time a patient calls me “Nurse” on night shift – I steal their icecream

  • Men Propose, Women squeal. But they both do the housework

I am not going to hash this one out too much because I actually have an entire blog post coming up about this whole topic.

Basically, in 2017, women proposed to men in heterosexual relationships less than 5% of the time ((

Our entire culture is dominated with the fact men propose, women get a diamond ring.

Men are the gatekeepers of our relationships, and they decide when it gets to advance to the next level.

Most of the time.

I proposed to Kirren. Most of the time I get wonderful responses to this fact.

But I get an uncalled for amount of surprise, pushback, and questions like “But how did he feel about that?”.

My response: Fucking wonderful thanks. The love of his life just asked to spend her life with him.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. In the process of writing this, I began to realise more and more and more examples in my life. This blog grew and grew. I have to stop somewhere.

I know that I lead a very privileged life, in a very privileged time. I am aware of the sacrifices made by women before me to get us here. And I am aware of the very real physical dangers some women experience as a result of men and their attitudes towards women – both in Australia and in other parts of the world.

I don’t think my issues are even close to the importance of theirs.

But they are still important.

Our attitude (both men and women) towards the female gender needs to change. Our whole society needs to change. If it doesn’t, then people like me will continue to whinge in blog posts, and even more importantly, the less privileged women will remain so horribly ignored.


13 Reasons to Rant about Travel

Opinion Pieces

An article popped up on my social media feed recently.  It listed 13 reasons why I shouldn’t worry about stupid things like money or security, and should ‘just travel’ instead.

As I read through the list, I felt a familiar rage building up inside me.  Want to know why?

Cracks neck, flexes knuckles Heeeeerre we fucking go.





  1. Travel will turn you into a storyteller.

With your constant adventures, you’ll have an endless supply of travel tales to entertain your friends with at parties or at those #awks moments when you’re short of small talk. It’s true – travel leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.


No. No it will not.

Sure, travel is bound to give you a thousand good experiences to draw, to reflect, and talk about. But those experiences do not automatically make you good story teller.

Have you ever been to one of those gatherings?  Someone introduces you to their mate Ed.  Ed shakes your hand, offers you a beer, and flicks his golden dreadlocks out of his face assaults you with a bottomless well of stories of the time he was just too gosh darn adventurous and ate some dirty street food and got gastro in this little village in Thailand, where no one spoke English. He had to catch a bus in this horrendous state because he was going to miss his flight to Pakistan. He managed to soldier through Pakistan, where he lost 28kgs AND his luggage. He takes your silence as encouragement to continue. You learn that he reached Santiago with nothing but his dreadies and a pair of fisherman pants. A local person took pity on him and drove him to their great aunt Mamma Healers place.  He stayed there for 3 weeks eating all their food and taking advantage of their hospitality.

You just stand there and stare into their unblinking gaze waiting for them to stop, but they just keep going on and fucking on, and you start mentally calculating how many hours of your life have been wasted listening can’t to stories that started with someone getting gastro in South East Asia.

You don’t need to travel the world to be a good story teller. One of my favourite story tellers is my friend Georgia. She has an uncanny ability to turn even the most mundane daily event (that if anyone else told you about would bore you senseless)  into a hilarious, riveting, clutching-your-sides laughing kind of tale.

You know what you sound like when you tell story after story of your travels at those parties? A douchebag. A giant, self-absorbed pile of douchebags.

Next time, I dare you to ask someone else what they do for fun, or for a hobby. You might learn about something totally new. Otherwise you’ll just fall back into that same old story about the hilarious time a taxi driver misunderstood you and took you to a brothel instead of your hotel…



Until you go home and boast about all the amazing adventures you’ve been on.






  1. Travel opens your mind.

Nothing will expand your horizons more than experiencing different cultures and traditions on a regular basis. Everyone who has spent money on travel will tell you that you are not the same once you’ve been to the other side of the world.

Oh My Tehlu this trope needs to stop!

Travel is a great way to learn about the world and the people we share it with. I believe that it’s very important in today’s global society to learn about other cultures.  Immersing yourself in someone else’s world is a wonderful way to do this, and is part of the reason why I took my teenage sister back-packing through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand last year – to open her up to the world and its differences at a tender and impressionable age.


Making my sister do an assignment on the Vietnamese involvement against the Khmer Rouge in the Cambodian Civil War, whilst in Vietnam

I also spent a large chunk of my toddler years living in Thailand with my parents. It’s great, you should do it.



The sentiment that travel-expands-your-mind, which is perpetuated every-fucking-where, comes hand in hand with the assumption that those who don’t travel overseas are ignorant peasant villagers.  They just aren’t enlightened like the rest of us travelling folk.

It suggests that the only way to ‘expand your horizons’ is to travel and travel often.  That’s just not true.  Here are a few non-travelling options to get you started:

  • Study something new.Taking an intense university course has expanded my horizons. After a single semester at university during my 4th year, I felt like my brain was going to explode with knowledge. I wasn’t used to learning so much about how the body works and how disease affects it. This new knowledge totally changed the way I view so many aspects of life. And I know this isn’t just me!
  • Learn a language.It’s a sure-fire way to open your mind. You can take a language course from the comforts of your own home, or on a podcast while you drive to and from your “mediocre 9-5 job”. Language works differently all over the word. The grammar, the usage, the flow of it will differ from language to language. The humour is different. The sayings are gloriously unfamiliar. The way people express themselves is different.   The idea of something being ‘lost in translation’ means so much more when you start to glimpse the nuances and subtle concepts wrapped up in language that had once been incomprehensible to you.


  • Immerse yourself in the migrant community in your local area.I grew up in a small country town. The Afghani refugee family that moved into the area had kids my age.    My brother and I would go to their house every day for afternoon tea after school. Afternoon tea was a feast cooked by the BiBi, the grandmother, with help from the mum and the mum.  I remember fragrant saffron rice with oily crunchy tahdig on top. The food was always laid out on a beautiful tablecloth, and afterwards we would watch Bollywood movies under a blanket, translated to us by the kids.

As the years went by, the girl my age started telling me about fleeing from Afghanistan to Pakistan.  Then Pakistan to Australia. I didn’t fully understand her stories at that time.

Since then, I’ve been back through my diaries.  I found an entry about a sleepover I had for my birthday one year.  This girl didn’t come.  I was upset and I told her so.  She explained that she had nightmares and preferred to sleep with her grandmother.

Reading that entry broke my heart. Because I knew this girl, she was my friend. And the knowledge that she relived the nightmares of her childhood each night, impacted on me more than any newspaper story, TV show or overseas trip ever has.






  1. Travel makes you independent.


Once you’ve had to find your way through the streets of Shanghai and figure out how to navigate the public transport system in Vietnam, there’s nothing life can throw at you that you cannot handle.


The notion that using public transport in South East Asia is the hardest thing life can throw at you is laughable.

No one has ever sat in a hospital watching a loved one die from cancer in a sterile hospital bed at 50 and thought, if only I had backpacked through Vietnam, I would be better prepared for this moment.

Life can throw lots of awful, difficult, terrible, hard things at us. Car accidents, getting kicked out of home, losing your job, getting your mobile and wallet stolen, finding out you can’t have kids, your boyfriend/girlfriend leaving you, not being able to find the right guy/girl, the difficulty of coming out as gay to your parents, finding out someone you love isn’t the person you thought they were, not having enough money for groceries some weeks, going through a divorce, getting a diagnosis that isn’t good, failing a semester at university or school, having your pet dog die.

Who in their right mind thinks all those things pale in comparison to catching a bus through a busy city in another country?

It’s also insulting to the people who live in Shanghai and Vietnam.


Travel is scary and hard, and it does make you more independent.

Doing anything on your own in a foreign situation always is. I have travelled by public transport in Ho Chi Minh.  But it wasn’t nearly as hard or scary as the first time I performed an instrument in front of a crowd, or sat my practical medicine exams.

If travelling builds your confidence, that’s great.  Try bringing that confidence to talk to new people into your life at home.  If it builds your navigational skills, or your problem-solving skills, then that’s great too.

Travel can help you develop new skills, but it doesn’t turn you into an iron clad beast who is resilient to everything and can effortlessly tackle any challenge.

(also, ffs, who doesn’t travel with a smart phone these days?)





  1. Travel creates the strongest friendships.


It’s on the road that true friendships become strong. The relationship you have with your travel friends is the kind you see in TV series and read books about. Share an adventure together and you’re friends for life.


To those of you who have made a BFF while travelling, added them on all the social media accounts, exchanged emails and addresses and numbers an underwear sizing: I’d love to know, how many years of denial it takes, on average, before you realise you’re never going to see them again and quietly unfriend them?

I am not saying all friendships made whilst travelling are like that. Some connections do stand the test of time, and that is special.

It feels like you’re creating strong friendships on the road because everything is so intense.  You’re in a crazy new world together, you’re both travellers, you’re doing crazy new things together. It seems like a match made in paradise! But then you go your separate ways, back to separate lives and separate homes. From there, you don’t have as much to talk about.  Your friendship was based in another time and another place, not in the present.  It’s harder to catch up online.  If you can’t afford to visit one another again, the friendship often stagnates.

The good news is, that you can find that same intense, frenzied brand of friendship at home.  Adventures don’t just happen in overseas far off lands. Go join a hiking club, or a climbing community, or plan a trip with some friends to do something crazy and challenging!


Strongest friendship I ever made: with 2 girls I lived with, who one day decided we could climb that spire behind us all by ourselves!





  1. Travel makes you creative.


Something happens to your mind when it comes into regular contact with unknown cultures and patterns – you begin to think differently and you realise that the world is not as rigid and unchangeable as you might previously have thought.



This is a variation on the “opening up your mind” theme above, so I won’t repeat myself.

I must admit that when I travel, I love learning about the folk tales of the place I’m visiting. I love hearing their stories of monsters and demons and heroes and princesses. I often go home, afterwards, and devour Wikipedia articles and websites about these folk tales.

I love seeing fashion and dance traditional to the area.

So, I guess, it does open up pathways to creativity and new ideas. Then again, so does talking to someone, anyone, new.

Travel will not magically transform you into an artist or musician. Travel doesn’t automatically make you something you are not.

It might inspire you to be more creative (maybe), but judging by the same old Grade-A basic photos I see on Instagram of the leaning tower of Pisa, this creativity is clearly subjective.



I’ve rarely felt inspired to creativity by a conversation with someone who holds themselves out as an enlightened #traveller.  You know how these conversations go right?

“How many countries have you done? I’ve done 23!”

“When I was in (insert poor country here), I had the best experience! The locals were some of the most giving, friendly happy people I’ve ever met! They really showed me that money doesn’t equal happiness!”





  1. Travel is the ultimate form of self-expression.


The world is a big and wonderful place and where you choose to occupy your place in it says a lot about who you are as a person. Just think about how satisfying it feels to finally visit a place you’ve longed to see for years.


Um. What.

What does this mean for people who can’t afford to travel, or who can’t choose which place they occupy, because they are in the throes of war or poverty?  Is their geographical location an expression of their personalities, hopes and dreams?

I thought travel was supposed to open your mind to the world outside your own?

Fuck you.


A great way to express your true #uniqueness as a traveller. Now we all know which campsites to avoid parking next to






  1. Travel satisfies your inner desires that material possessions never will.


When you satisfy your insatiable wanderlust, you gain an inner happiness and peace that spending money on material possessions will never be able to give you.



Kirren, being super excited with all the money he spent on buying both of us expensive mountain bikes, so when we did finally travel to the US we had a great time on our own bikes.

The people who spurt these bullshit articles usually say something like “once you travel once, you will never be able to stop and you will perpetually be planning your next country/place/trip”. Insatiable wanderlust will burn through your savings just as fast as buying stuff you don’t need.

Sometimes people surround themselves with material possessions to mask a deeper unsatisfactory part of their life. Sometimes people travel to get away from the same dissatisfactions, I don’t know whether travel helps them resolve those issues.

The trope that material possessions will never satisfy you is a dumb one too.

Material possessions are great.  I love visiting my parents, because I get to sleep on a big comfy bed.  At my place, I just have a mattress on the floor.

I love having a warm sleeping bag when I am out back country skiing, instead of freezing in a cheap shitty one.

After 7 years of being a poor student, I can’t wait to start earning my own wage. I will be able to buy decent fresh farmers market veggies, and clothes that aren’t falling apart, and maybe splash out on some cool devices like a new lens for my camera and a climbing rope instead of always being that person that borrows gear from other people.

I’ll probably be hella satisfied with those few luxuries.

All things in moderation, right?







  1. You’ll never regret spending money on travel.


It’s true what they say – in 10 years’ time, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did do. You will never be that person who looks back on their 20s and wishes that had made more memories when they were young.


Probably not, but you can’t say for sure.

Maybe, when everyone else has a house and you don’t even have a fixed address, you will regret not saving in your 20s. You might not. I’m not you.

Maybe you’ll work hard throughout your 20s, buy a home, buy a car and have a career. Maybe you’ll get to 35 and wish you had travelled more.  Maybe at 35 you’ll look at what you’ve got and think “Oh thank Fuck”.


The ONLY thing guys! Definitely not education, or a trade, or investments!

However, I do regret spending money on travel.

I took a year off study last year and did some travelling.  And you know what? Right now, I am back studying, without a job, with no social security (hey, THANKS Centrelink), having to BORROW money for rent, because I literally don’t have $10 to my name. The free bread in the Surgical Tea Room is my lunch.  I might not remember this in 10 years time, but right now, it’s tough.

I had amazing experiences last year, but those experiences were expensive. I can’t honestly say that every single dollar I spent travelling last year was worth it.






  1. Travel is a unique form of education.


You learn things on the road that you will not learn anywhere else. Travel gives you a global sense of perspective, an open mind, and makes you more patient, understanding, and independent.


Once again, they’re repeating themselves. Opening your mind, change of perspective, independent bla bla bla.

Travel is a unique form of education – I agree. But hey, so is deciding to go out to the Northern Territory and work on a station. So is talking to your elderly neighbour.

I’d begin to argue that with social media and plummeting airline prices and the interwebs, travel is not really that unique anymore.






  1. Travel makes you an Instagram superstar.


Nothing will up your Insta game like the ah-mazing pics from your travel explorations. We all know it – all your friends will be jealous. 


Do I need to say anything?

I mean, we all think it when we post our latest adventures on Instagram.

Don’t lie to yourself. I do it.

But I hate that part of me, and I hope you do too.


“All my instagram followers will totally be #jelly of this selfie of me in the airport in Buenos Aires”





  1. Travel builds your identity.


When you choose not to be constrained by the daily grind like most of us, you shape your identity. You are the explorer. You are the adventurer. You are the person who all of your more ‘serious’ friends look up to with admiration and possibly a hint of envy. #sorrynotsorry


IMG_20170317_124504998 (1)

My identity: currently being built around the fact I have crazy uncontrollable hair, braces at 24, terrible selfie taking skills and a constant need to study every day of my life. #medstudentlyf

The implication that someone who works hard, studies hard, in the “daily grind” of mediocre unenlightened masses doesn’t have an identity is ignorant.

Don’t all the locals in the countries you travel to, especially the 3rd world ones, all work exceedingly hard in far worse conditions of “daily grind”?

Your identity is definitely shaped as a #traveller when you act like this.  I can tell you for 100% certain, when I meet people who are so wound up in their “traveller” identities – as the more ‘serious’ person, I do not look up to you. I cringe. Hard.

The only thing I envy is your complete lack of self-awareness. If only I could be that ignorant of my own personal shortcomings.





  1. Travel makes you more relaxed.


Next you will be telling me that “travel is really hard, and people always think I am on a constant holiday but waaahhh”.

Oh. Wait. #travellers do say that.






  1. DiamondsAdventures last forever.


The adventures you share with your friends on the road, those unplanned moments outside your comfort zone, those spontaneous decisions that create the best moments of your life – those are the memories that will stay with you forever.



Well, at least until you get Alzheimer’s.

Ok, I’ll be fair. I’ll allow this one.  We’ve got 1 out of the 13 reasons that I can’t really criticise.

Oh wait, I am Tess Roser. Yes, I can.

You know what other memories will stay with you forever?


Your graduation, your first love, the birth of any children you have, that time you forgot cutlery on a hiking trip just down the road from where you live so you used tree twigs as chopsticks, that time you went out of your own comfort zone and tried surfing for the first time, or the time you did literally ANYTHING that is out of the ordinary for you…. And they are in no way less amazing or meaningful than any memory you made of hitchiking across Bolivia.


Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes life is beautiful. Whether if you are travelling, or studying, or working, or in between things and thinking “what the fuck am I doing with my life”. If you have the option to travel – then your life is fucking amazing whether you choose to travel or not.

My advice?

Travel, but only if you really want to. Travel overseas, travel in your own country, your own state.

Work hard to buy that house you want, marry the love of your life, raise good kids who might make a difference in the world. Work hard in that lab of yours, slaving away each day on minimum wage to add to our growing scientific body of evidence.  Sacrifice your 20s to the pursuit of something bigger than yourself. Travel if you want to. Your motivation might be to go see the SpaceX rocket still sitting in the back of the fenced off yard in industrial LA. Or it might be to go to that one mountain you’ve never been to in your own state, but have always wondered what it was like on top of it.

Save up, don’t save up.

Go alone, or go with friends, family.

Go for short trips of a week. Go for long trips of years.

Go with 3 bags of luggage. Go with carry on.


It’s your life.

Please don’t feel pressured by society, by social media, by these zombies groaning, shuffling around Italy or Turkey or Laos, posting pictures of the same uninspired tourist destinations, to drop your shit and travel.


And, if you do decide travelling the world is for you –  don’t you ever pretend that you are better, more cultured, more enlightened, more worldly than someone who doesn’t carry a OnePlanet backpack, wear sandals and friendship bracelets and have 4 different currencies in their wallet.

Some people don’t need to travel the globe to realise that this world is a big old place, with amazing mix of histories and cultures.



Me, taking a terrible selfie, not using my expensive SLR camera, whilst exploring the snowy backcountry of my home state of NSW.