Tag Archives: Interview

Is teen-mom Kylie Jenner really the next role model?

So earlier this year Kylie Jenner, youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, gave birth to a baby girl at the age of twenty. And we all know that she isn’t any ordinary teen becoming a mom, she is a model, reality television star, socialite and social media tycoon. And with her lip kits and self-branded cosmetics business, also a multi-millionaire.

Now she, having a baby at an age when most people are busting their backs getting degrees or working (and paying off their starter loans) might seem a little odd. Funnily though, it seemed only ‘a little’ odd, if not completely normal after a while when the news first broke in the media. And now look at us, talking about it as if nothing really major happened.

But the other day, I was at one of my friends’ house, just chatting about the news, when her mom tells me she too was a teen mom. And I look at my friend with an almost shocked and disbelieved look. I couldn’t believe that my friend, who would be twenty now, had a mother who was just eighteen years older than her. And suddenly a presumed mental image of their lives popped in my head, complete with all the society’s pressures, expectations and resentments. But then I also could see my friend sitting next to me, so happy and relaxed, and her mom so full of life and humour, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was life like for a regular person who became pregnant during their teenage years.

Did she get the same level of acceptance from the society as Kylie does today for her early pregnancy? What were the circumstances that lead to it? How did her family react to the news? Who supported her during the time and along the way? Did she feel alone? Did she feel ready? How did she manage to provide for her daughter when she herself was practically so young? Did the stress of a different (and a significantly difficult) life, make bonding with her daughter difficult? Have they reached to the point in their lives now, when they feel comfortable with their life’s story despite all the stigma attached to this bigger idea (and how)? How do they make this unique bond between them work amidst all the pressures and responsibilities?

All these questions, but the question that surprised me the most was the one that I asked myself, why did the idea of my friends’ mother being a teen mom shocked me when I felt next to normal when I heard Kylie Jenner’s news?

So, I sat down with my friend and her mom, for a day of storytelling and revelations.

“I was young when I got pregnant. And my family was very religious. My mother was understanding, but my father and the society [were] not so much. So, when they found out [about it] they demanded I marry *Margo’s dad. I knew he wasn’t ready but since that was the only option we were left with, we went for it. Eighteen years old, in love, married and with my baby on board, I was quite happy. And one of my sisters was also expecting her baby around the same time, so I was excited to have our babies grow up together.” **Lily says with a rueful smile on her face.

And I think to myself, well that’s a good start. Mostly everyone’s happy and there are no mean blames thrown here, like that would ever be in case of Kylie and her family, them celebrating this change instead of being worried about future.

Kylie Jenner at her Babyshower, November 2017

“But life works in unexpected ways,” continues Lily, “and shortly after a year of marriage, me and Margo’s dad separated. He wanted different things in life, [things] that no longer included room for his family. So, baby Margo and I went back to living with my mom. Suddenly single and with complete responsibility of my little baby but no real work experience, I felt like I had somehow further failed in life.”

I can see that on outside, Lily looks relaxed as she goes down the memory lane, though a pained expression plagues her face, as if she could almost physically feel all the stings and stigma of her past again.

“But my mother was there with me, supporting me still, and pushing me to not give up hope in life just yet. So, I studied to become a teacher, and later started teaching at this place called ‘Kumon’. See Kumon is a kind of an after-school in Brazil, where kids go to improve their English and Portuguese skills. But my earnings from [working] there weren’t enough to support my family. So, in year 2008 I decided to move to UK to make a better earning and life for us.”

So many twists and turns in such short time, I feel my own heart sinking a little for all the problems Margo’s mom had to face in her youth. Social stigma and financial security, now that’s something Kylie Jenner would never have to worry about. After all, she is a celebrity worth millions.

Reality television star, Owner of self-branded cosmetics, Multi-millionaire

“Coming to UK was not that hard, we came through our EU citizenship. But after that things again got tricky to manage. No job, money or even a proper place to live, the only thing I felt like I had was a little piece of my family here, in this foreign country. My sister and her husband were already [settled] here, so Margo and I simply moved in the same house as them. Getting a roof over our heads felt like a huge blessing I received after such a long time. Shortly after that I picked up job as a nanny, and since I already had teaching experience I was good at looking after children.” says Lily, looking proud of the bravery her younger self showed at the time.

But now a troubled, and sad look came upon Margo’s face.

“Ever since then mom has been working as nanny. In our first year here, mom worked so many hours that I barely got to see.” says Margo. “Sometimes I felt really bad, I was young you know, and I missed my mom so much. We never had enough time to spend together. But it got better with time, and I think I too adjusted with my new life.”

I see Lily exchange a subtle look of deep understanding with her daughter. And Margo continues, “It’s similar in the present, she is working until late but since I’m older now so I don’t really mind anymore.”

“But during the time when she worked a lot and I was young too, it was difficult. But then it all got better once we started travelling together. We went on our first vacation to Brazil in 2010, which was great! But we really started bond when we travel more after 2014, and we visited Spain, Italy, Scotland and many places around England. Travel became our thing, it became the activity which truly brought us together.”

“And I think the best moment [between me and mom] was in Spain, where we just played cards by the beach. In that moment, I could feel all our worries and responsibilities drifting in the back of our minds, and we could just focus on spending our time with each other.” says a glowing Margo, looking happy to relive that moment.

“I guess in hindsight, I think we got lucky a lot of times. I know it’s [life after teen pregnancy] not all the same for everyone, but I feel quite blessed and content with how my life turned out. I am happy now, with only a few regrets, but who doesn’t have some [regrets in life] anyway.” says a broadly smiling Lily.

Margo and I were still sitting in Lily’s living room, but Lily took her leave to prep some tea for everyone after sharing her life’s story. And I can’t help but think to myself, even though they feel comfortable in their lives, look so happy now, and boldly accept their story, but overcoming all of that pain and struggle must take a lot of hard work and constant effort every single day. We all know by now that not everyone who walks down this path gets a happily ever after. Society makes that possibility perfectly clear and unforgettable, but only for the ordinary people. The rich and famous have the privilege and means to break free of the social boundaries that most of the world has to live in.

So, my only hope is that girls out there who are now in a similar position, transitioning into teen moms, don’t go into this life naively thinking it would all be rainbows because of what they see of celebrity lives on social media.

 

(Names of *daughter and **mom have been changed to maintain their privacy and anonymity)

 

Esports commentator Anders Blume shares his story

Discovering eSports was almost like a “religious experience” for Anders Blume, the now voice of Counter-Strike, a title awarded by fans.

Anders is one of the largest play-by-play commentators in the growing eSports scene (also known as pro gaming or competitive video games). He grew up in the small town of Farum, Denmark, playing video games from a young age. It was in early 2013 when Anders did his first cast (commentary) of a match of Counter-Strike, the 5v5 competitive first person shooter. It wasn’t long before this side project of his allowed him to cast matches to sold out arena’s and millions of concurrent viewers online.

Q: When did you get into Counter-Strike?

A: I got into Counter-Strike because a friend of mine took me to a LAN café in the centre of Copenhagen. That was not the first time I’d ever been to a LAN café but it was the first time I’d tried playing Counter-Strike, and that was in 1999. I would say I walked away from that experience thinking “This is something else, this was too much fun”. I just kept coming back.

Q: What do you think it is about Counter-Strike that was different than other games you’d played?

A: It’s hard to say. In retrospect I think it has to do with a great mix of being able to play as a team but that each individual member of the team can do enough to change the outcome of the game. Also it has an infinitely deep or high skill ceiling, you can always become better at the game in some way and that’s just very appealing I think. Back then, at the time, maybe there was that feeling and we just didn’t know how to say it but, it was almost like having some sort of religious experience walking away from that game. I remember the train ride home and everything. I remember how – for lack of a better word – ‘high’ we all were on just having played the game. It might also have that kind of childhood nostalgia to it, but it was something like that.

Q: Did you ever compete in Counter-Strike?

A: Yeah, I did. The landscape is so different now. I think if you tried to measure it against the modern landscape it would be hard to find a fitting way to do that. We started off with a friends-based team, then eventually some of us wanted to play a bit more so we had to find other people online that we thought were good at the game. Obviously, the kind of sponsorships you could get back then were ridiculous compared to today, so it was all just sort of, hobby level. But yeah, we did take it seriously.

DH Leipzig16 NaVi with trophy

Q: What were you doing before you started casting?

A: Well I came out of High School in 2006. So, between 2006 and 2013 I did a bunch of different things all at once. I started doing physics at University and then that didn’t really work out. Then I did Biology and that didn’t really work out. Then I did English and almost got my bachelors in that by the time I’d started casting. In-between all of those things, I’d go back to this one job that I’d had all along, which was database development that I’d sort of learned on the side, at a local company. So that’s where I was at for a long time I would say, no real sense of direction.

Q: So, after hopping around a few subjects at University and working on the side, what made you try casting out?

A: Well, every time I would have time off from University, I would inevitably think to myself “Man, I want to be good at something”. I bought a really nice electronic piano that cost way too much money, and thought I’d learn how to play the piano, that must be nice? Or I thought I’d write a short story, just like 50 pages or something. I had all these, let’s call them ‘creative outlets’ – things that I wanted to do basically. They were a way to try and escape because I knew I wasn’t doing something that I wanted to do. The casting was one of the things I tried, and it just worked. That was just it, the first time I did it I knew like “Shit, this is too good” you know? I have to keep doing this.

Q: Had you always admired casting in traditional sports and wanted to give it a go, or directly through eSports?

A: Well I was never really in to traditional sports so I don’t even know much about football or any other commentary at all but yeah, I was listening to a lot of other people casting Counter-Strike specifically. I thought that they were missing a bunch of stuff that’s going on. I think I even messaged them and told them you know “Listen, you guys are really missing out on some of the details in this game”. And then nothing happened. So, I thought. Okay. What if I do it? What if I try and talk about the game? I have a headset and I have the internet so I’ll do it. And I did. The first night was maybe ten people watching, and maybe seven of them were just my friends. Then the next night it was 20 and maybe still seven of them were my friends. Then a week in it was like over a hundred. When I say those numbers now it sounds kind of ridiculous, but back then it was a hell of a lot of people.

View this post on Instagram

ESLone New York, this crowd is amazing.

A post shared by Anders Blume (@rofanders) on

Q:What was it like going from seven viewers to over a million in the space of a few years?

A: What I did in the beginning was think to myself “How big of an auditorium would I have to rent to get these hundred people and talk to them in real life?”. That mental image helped me a lot in thinking you know, now we have 500 people, now we have 1000 people. That’s so many people you know?

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers who aren’t very much aware of eSports?

A: I’ll say this. In case you are someone who is wandering around in life and is not really sure what you want to be or where to go, one of the huge upsides of working in eSports is that the foundations haven’t really settled yet. If you are someone who wants to test, build and create different or strange things, there’s a bigger chance you’ll be able to do it within E-sports than some of the other places that have existed for a long time. Those places have traditions and a culture of doing things a certain way. There may be a lot more risk here but there’s also a lot more potential. It might be worth thinking about that if you’re going to architect your career in a given direction, that there is a field out there that is growing and growing. You might have a lot of freedom to do weird things, whether you are in advertising, or PR, or Coding or whatever. All these kinds of fields are relevant to eSports and have a lot of room for expansion.

Follow Anders on twitter here: @OnFireAnders

In conversation with a rising blogger

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Credits: Maria Joynson

Maria Joynson is a 19 year old blogger from London. In January 2016 she started blogging about beauty, although now she turns her hand at everything including fashion, food and a series of posts filled with helpful advice for new bloggers. With over 10.000 followers across her social media platforms and amazing feedback on mariaj.co.uk, Maria’s tiny hobby is becoming a huge part of her life. Together we discussed about her experience with blogging, standing out in the community, voicing your own opinion online and changes that need to be made in the blogging world.

Read more

An interview with Michelle Joy Phelps

Michelle Phelps has travelled the world interviewing the sport’s most powerful people. Fighting adversity wherever she goes, she battles harder than the boxers she interviews on her road towards success. “Free time, what’s that?” she jokes. At 29-years of age, she remains busy with work for most of the year and has little time off for herself. But perhaps it reminds her, that chasing a dream, is hardly work at all.

Read more