A phantom that inhabits me wherever I go

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I am in the cafe and veil myself in the proficiency a cup of coffee and a laptop presents. Today I am ok, but I have dragged displacement about me like a weight or like a phantom that inhabits me wherever I go. Only in the creative process of my work is this distilled and centres me like an internal compass, and I transmute the phantoms in the act of being an artist. I am the daughter of two migrants, each from separate countries who both fled or were war damaged. I was born in England but moved to Ireland over 20 years ago. I have negotiated 4 cultures now but belong to none. I look to what dissolves these boundaries that people are so fixed on. When I make work, I am exhilarated, it is the only thing that dissolves the unbelonging I have felt all my life. The atmospheric silent invisible treacle that can bind me is also dissolved when I meet others like me and it has taught me to find a meeting place and empathic listening in all people I encounter and somehow people give me their stories. It’s like I have been an atmospheric barometer all my life to work out the nuances of what is going on. This habit comes from being a child in situations where you are having to learn ways of being other people have embedded in them from being born in a place of belonging. I try not to dwell on displacement anymore, but it is a dwelling, it is where we , the others, dwell.

It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I had an appointment booked at the PPS office in Dublin to acquire a PPS card to enable me to be part of Irish society, and received racist treatment, judgement, blocking me from getting a PPS number even though I have every right to one, and then a complete change of attitude once they realised my company had arranged the appointment for me after an international relocation.

I do not look Irish, I look Asian. After I have witnessed the rudeness to me, the deliberate obstruction of the office staff blocking me from a PPS number, and the rude attitude to others in the waiting room that I also observed, it is my belief that everyone who passes through that PPS office as an immigrant gets treated like 'scum'.

I felt that every effort was made to create a difficult situation that will block or scare or confuse those who are eligible for a PPS number as well as those who are not. I understand that some may be there asking for a PPS and benefits when they are not eligible, but I believe there is a polite, non-personal, non emotional process to determine this without creating fictional barriers, without judgement and prejudice, and without treating each candidate derisively 'until proven otherwise'.

I don't know if all staff working there have the same attitude as I only interviewed with one person. However, I do know that she had a big sign printed up telling me why I was not eligible, and the information on it was contradictory to what my relocation company (IrishRelo) had told me the requirements were. This means that the PPS office is giving out different and incorrect information, not the factual information that the relocation companies advise on and as the policies are set out.

I will explain what actually happened step by step:

  1. I have moved to Ireland with my husband who works for a corporate here, we are married so I require a PPS for tax purposes, I was also asked for PPS by my landlord (so I think you need it for renting but I am not sure), and I also want to learn to drive so I needed it for a provisional driving license.

  2. My husband went for his appointment separately to me, accompanied by Irish Relo, and he is a tall white guy - rarely running into discrimination! His experience was very pleasant, smooth, and friendly. I was not expecting anything different as I also had the paperwork from Irish relo, had gone through their checklist of what to bring, and arrived with my marriage certificate etc.

  3. When I spoke to the person in charge of my appointment, she was very rude and abrupt, I told her that my husband and I just moved over, the details of his company and that I would need the PPS for marriage tax and tax purposes, as well as to learn to drive.

  4. She said that I cannot get a PPS number unless I have proof that I need one. I showed her the marriage certificate and she said this is not proof. I showed her emails from his company and she said that this does not mean that I require a PPS or am entitled to one, just because he is working.

  5. I mentioned that I would not be able to do simple things like go to the doctors or take driving lessons if I did not have a PPS, but she said I would need proof that I am learning to drive.

  6. I explained again that I need a PPS simply to apply for the Irish provisional license so I would not be able to have proof yet - I asked what would be considered proof in my case, and she said a driving license application form. I said this was ridiculous as it takes 1 minute to download and print one and anyone can print one - it is not proof one way or the other so why did I need to provide this? It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier.

  7. I pulled out the checklist I had printed off, that Irish Relo had given me stating (in the PPS office's invite letter) the list of items I needed to have with me, and I checked off each one as present. She took the list off me and threw it in her bin, and I demanded it back.

  8. She kept saying that I need to go and get proof, and would have to arrange another appointment (which would take 1-2 weeks)

  9. Finally, I managed to point out to her that Irish Relo had sent me, at which point she suddenly realised that I should not be categorised in her mind as 'immigrant' aka 'undeserving person', but as 'high earning expat, working for a corporate'. In that moment her whole expression and demeanour changed, and suddenly she was as helpful as she could be. She produced a blank driving license application form which she had a pile of in her draw, and told me to add my name. She processed my paperwork and issued a PPS number. Why was I getting this different treatment now? Why was I a diffent case in her eyes?

  10. I was grateful that I had managed to break through her wall of prejudice, but I was so saddened at the stark contrast between her treatment of me when she had categorised me as one thing or the other, and the different treatment towards my white husband. It showed me a very two-faced organisation who, given their purpose and their audience, should surely be regulated on their treatment of people and be trained to keep a neutral response.

Whatever is happening here, and whether or not she has on other occasions been right about non-eligibility for a PPS number, there was no need for such an attitude of prejudice, derision and disparagement. I was saddened as I looked around the room and saw others who may have had much more difficult journeys to get to Ireland than I have, may need the PPS number much more than I do, and now have to face the belittling attitude of this woman as one of their first 'welcomes' into the country. Potentially other administrators have the same checklist (it was a printed out list in shouting capital letters with an official logo). I believe the checklist itself was incorrect and should not be allowed as they are the official issuing office of the PPS.

I also observed lots of processes that cause anger, annoyance and dismissive behaviour in the staff and the visitors - for example all who book appointments are given set times, (mine was 10.15), and then told to wait - we have to go in to the booth when our time-slot comes up. There was no communication that they were running over an hour late, they did not call the name of the next appointment, there was no ticket-line system, and people keep getting up worrying that they had missed their appointment or that someone else has skipped ahead. I was lucky that english is my first language and I could approach a staff member to ask, and I could also be brave enough to ask those around me and understand that they were ahead of me in the queue. Others were not feeling so brave - Especially for those who are nervous, or did not have English as their first language, this was extremely confusing. By time people get into their appointment an atmosphere of stress, worry, impatience and confusion has been created in the applicants. Meanwhile an 'observation' of how rude and impatient immigrants are, is being constantly reinforced in the minds of the administrators - surely these processes could be evolved for a better experience for all rather than fostering racism from day one?

I actually like my accent being different. It is who I am.

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I look like I belong here, I think. But I speak, and all of a sudden I am other. My accent is wrong. I have to explain who I am, why I'm here, how often I go "home", what I think of Ireland, what it's like where I'm from, etc. etc. For 18 years now, and counting. Young ones say I'm not Irish even though I've lived here longer than they have. Amazing what the exact way you say words has an effect on how those words are heard. People read back stories, mostly untrue, into what they hear because it is said in an accent that isn't theirs. I don't hear the Irish accents because I'm surrounded by them, work with people with them, have family with them... so I forget I have a different one. But people remind me. Even on holidays to other parts of the world, people point out that my husband and I say things differently. Our accents aren't the same. And the explanations begin again. It's a pain, all the explaining, but you know, I actually like my accent being different. It is who I am. It is my history. It is my parents accent. It is my sister's accent. It's is my school friends' accents. It is an accent that ceases to exist when I go "home" and don't have to explain anymore.

There were many times where the thought of “Will I ever have a boyfriend, a husband in my life?” came to mind.

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

Coming from a family with strict & traditional upbringing, it had been a bumpy journey growing up. With parents setting the ground rule of “no-boyfriend-till-you-graduate”, it became awkward for me to approach such topic. There were many times where the thought of “Will I ever have a boyfriend, a husband in my life?” came to mind. After 27 years, I found the companion that I had been searching for, I never thought I would ever find that special someone to spend the rest of my life with.

That we are each a you-niverse of infinite possibilities.

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I am happy because I finally realised I am the love I have always wanted and deserve. That we are each a you-niverse of infinite possibilities. That I am and we are slowly unlearning our way into unconditional love. That the first step is self-care. That loving yourself is one step closer to loving nature and others in an authentic, sustainable, centered way. I am grateful.

A print of myself into your memory

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

When I am down. I fall deeply down. I mope in my thoughts. Sometimes I confide in someone. Sometimes I keep it to myself. Last time I used to vomit out the words into my diary. The thing is, I seem often happy. Really, compare me to any other more unfortunate people around the world lacking in food, water and shelter, I am considered well-off enough. I do not need to worry about the next day and how I can survive. But yet, sometimes I feel down. I've seen more than one friendship that I've had fading away in front of me. And sometimes (maybe because I don't necessary ask for it) , I wonder if I mean anything to anyone. If I am gone one day, will I be missed? Will they just mourn for me until a month or a week is over and put it aside in their mind? Why am I here again? Is there a reason I was born? What if I am actually unneeded? Then what is the point? Is my life meaningless? Those questions are the reason why I try so hard to leave something behind to show that I existed. A print of myself into your memory. A good deed done for a random stranger. Reaching out first to help people. But then again, the things you do for others, they might not always remember. They move on with their lives. And that is just how it is. But what can I do? For now, I don't really know. Because the future is uncertain, although I wish there was some way to know.

I wasn’t planning on it, but we fell in love

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I had just gotten out of a very serious relationship because I wanted to travel and he could not understand that. I was traveling and felt like I had figured things out - I was going to explore and after, move to my home city, start working there and “settle down”. Then I met this guy and everything changed. I wasn’t planning on it, but we fell in love. We did long distance for a bit, I moved to be with him in London, and then we moved to start a life together in Singapore. While this was not how I saw my life going - I’m happy that I was open to the new path and I’m so happy I went on this unexpected journey with my now fiancé, future Husband.

I felt unimaginable joy as I descended the hill

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I climbed 2700 ft up a hill in Yorkshire. Ingleborough one of the highest peaks in The Dales. At the top I saw a huge steel cage. Locked in were Ravens and Blackbirds. Scattered on the floor were dead new born lambs for the birds to eat but no water. I went up to the cage and saw the sad eyes of the birds. I felt great sorrow. In an instant without thinking I went around the cage and saw a panel that could be moved. Suddenly my small body filled with strength as I pulled at the panel of steel bars. With all my might I strained and shifted the panel just a few inches. The birds flew to the gap and escaped flying upwards. I shouted ''be free my friends'',  as they circled above me. I felt unimaginable joy as I descended the hill. A small Robin Redbreast followed behind me for a long while. Sweetly singing as if to thank me. I discovered later that farmers trap Ravens to protect newborn lambs and also feed them dead lambs that didn’t survive birth. I still feel the joy I felt when I see Ravens.

Happiness is not a continuous state. It comes in small bursts.

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

A few weeks ago, something I feared and dreaded happened. I thought it would be scary. It had made me redundant from my job. I thought that I would be very upset. But when it happened it was like putting down a huge back pack of rocks. I felt light and free. I hadn't realised the burden I carried. Since then I have been so happy. Happiness is not a continuous state. It comes in small bursts. You have to stop and appreciate the moments. I have had many of these moments over the last few weeks. Probably more than the whole of last year. It's been incredible.

It would be striking up a conversation with a stranger, where I would share that instant chemistry with and enjoy their attention, connection and the impromptu friendship and vulnerability.

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

It would be striking up a conversation with a stranger, where I would share that instant chemistry with and enjoy their attention, connection and the impromptu friendship and vulnerability. That gives me an unexpected happiness - as it gives some sort of hope that this conversation and acquaintance could grow into something more? A guilty pleasure/confession is feeling very satisfying, watching people who offended me and hurt me get their Karma pay-back, which always makes them suffer x10 more than what they did to me. That makes me happy and scared of my own self at the same time. The other confession is that there are some guys that would come across to me as intelligent and arrogant and hard to get - I like to use that chemistry I have with them and act completely uninterested and cold - other times low-key flirt - and just play with their minds. I need to stop doing that though.

All I can see is shadows of past dreams and windows gloating at me

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I was once sure of what I wanted, when I was a child. But as I grew up, I realised my options grew with me too. So I tried to narrow them down to a few routes. And I started walking on those routes. And so, I walked and walked even as the ground started to feel more bumpy and I started regretting and doubting. Was it because, I really wasn't as good as I thought? Why did I feel stumped the more further away I went and my shoulders heavier with the weight of doubt and insecurity?

When I was young, whenever I felt downtrodden by my failures, somehow I had the drive to go on. In the past, things were clearer to me, which road I would take and not look back. But now, I look down and the road has stopped. Countless times, I have looked back, unsure of my decisions. Now I am blocked by my own fear. I see people far away, achieving greater things yet they are so much younger than me. I know it doesn't actually matter the age as long as you keep trying, but with each tick-tocking, I feel rushed. Rushed to not disappoint my younger self, to reach somewhere, to achieve something. As the time passes, the sound grows louder and faster. And yet, I find myself on a standstill. Turning back from where I am, I no longer know where I want to go, the directions in my mind are a jumbled mess. What am I going to do now? The roads are no longer clear to me. All I can see is shadows of past dreams and windows gloating at me , the success that seems unreachable, that I didn't try hard enough. That I wouldn't make it anywhere. That I am nothing. So I close my eyes and try to sleep these feelings away.

I am in love with someone who is not married to me

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I am in love with someone who is not married to me. He makes me laugh and he gives good advice.

I am me, not an example

I am person who really not say been through alot but i would like to say going through times where i got scolded and punished by my parents, i really hope that a have a 2nd personality to cope with me through those times. I have stolen from my family a number of times, some might say i am young.. well i have to agree but now thinking back , Hey! I just wanted to be noticed. I was the oldest out of 3 children, and i was always told since i am the oldest i have to set an example. But now i know, i am me, not an example, i want to try and find the path i want to go and strive towards it, I am not the oldest I am me.

I feel lonely sometimes

To me, the people around me are constantly telling me I'm blessed to have such good friends, and am blessed with such a good family. Im grateful for all of that, but i think that what people dont know is that i feel lonely sometimes. Even with so many people around me, I'm always overthinking about things and making myself unhappy. It is not that i crave for more, I just feel that sometimes i dont appreciate the people by my side as much.

I believe effort never lies

I am from China,currently studying in SG.I am 19 years old now and I celebrated 3 birthday here.(which means that I live in sg about 3 years already)

I realize that time flies and I always feel a bit sad because I do not really like Singapore since it is not what I think it is before I come here,the accent, the environment (a small city). However,I don't hate this city cuz it is very safe and clean. I have signed a contract with poly which requires me to work in sg for 3 years after graduation,this really make me unhappy since I want to spend that 3 years in other countries,I want to explore more. I have friends here ,closed friends,but I don't know why I feel lonely quite often,my first sem 's GPA is quite low so I am stressed now ... but I believe effort never lies, gonna try my best in this sem.

Feeling responsible all the time

Feeling responsible all the time. Loving being alone. Hiding from the world because highly intelligente.

Lazy lazy lasy

Chased after by those I don't want, and rejected by those I do.

I've been through a lot of online 'relationships'. At the end of the day, it was just helping much older men pleasure themselves. I was too young, and I never should've started, but I don't know why I didn't stop, either. Maybe it was the power I had over them- a young child, reigning over an older man's pleasure? The control I didn't have in my life, I had it online. To me, then, it was like I was living a double life. It was thrilling, and my friends would always look up at me for the experiences I had.

Of course, that quickly led to a exposure that happened too young; too fast.

I never saw their face, and they never saw mine, but being in direct control over their pleasure had a certain sort of intimacy which you couldn't find at my age. By then, I'd been hit on, used as mastrubation material, had over half a dozen unwarranted, inappropriate pictures shoved in my face, and even called a slut simply because I refused to sext with him anymore. Recently, someone even tried to blackmail me with pictures that he didn't have- a bluff he called a joke.

I've also met some in real life, and some have lead to experiences that sometimes, I wasn't so sure of. But it was always about the fun, about the stress relief it brought. On the other hand...I've always wondered, if because of these past experiences, I would become undesirable to the people I'm romantically attracted to. Already because of my gender and sexuality, but with these past experiences...who knows, though, because I've always been rejected by them.

The irony. Chased after by those I don't want, and rejected by those I do.

I hate being a doormat

I like to please everyone and wants everyone to like me, but i dont like it. I hate being a doormat because i cant say no. And when i do share my feeling about how i feel to a particular person, i am deemed as rude. Sometimes i feel left out when it comes to friends. To be honest i rather live in solitude then live with my family because i want peace. Sometimes i wake up to my mum and grandma arguing. Sometimes my mum and dad. Sometimes i wake up and she argues with me. I just want a friend that doesnt take me for granted and just be there and if i cant get that. I rather be alone and live alone. Painting and drawing. I am happy though, because even though negativity outweighs my life more, doesnt mean i have to be negative. I am positive and i know one day ill be happy in an apartment i will buy and be a painter or an artist and just be content with life.

You'll learn to dance even in the storm

A part of me believe, I am something more than I am now. But a part of me disagree with that. I am searching for something but I do not know what it is. I am a dreamer but I am also a realist.

Life is interesting and it's always moving but sometimes I wished it could go slower or stop when I am exhausted or even skip some parts of it and just get to the easy part. But thats what makes life is. Something you can actually control little by little even if you do not have the courage or faith to do so but you'll learn to dance even in the storm.

I've learnt to embrace my flaws

I'm tired.

I'm really tired of being happy, enthusiastic and pretending that everything is okay. These were the qualities that enabled me to survive. Some who know who I really am - I'm a terrible introvert. I hate going out. I hate socialising. I dont like to be happy and enthusiastic all the time.

Growing up in a very restrictive and strict family -

There were times when I was younger when I thought about suicide- I was 12 when I realised I had depression. But I couldn't bear it.

Why did I have depression? Well, I had pressure from doing badly in school- Failing math. My parents were so strict, I felt like a bird in a cage. It was suffocating for me.

When I was 14, I admitted to my parents about my disorder and went to a counciler. He told me I was being 'mature', but for me - I had many mixed emotions. Was I really being mature? Wasn't I a coward for not being able to cut or end myself? I had doubts but I just let it slide. (I'm glad I did)

It's been a few years since those dark days. There were definitely times when I thought about depression again, but I think I grew passed it.

I managed to be able to cope with it better. I thanked my 'cowardly' self when I was younger that I didn't manage to harm myself. I learnt to love myself more and began to start appreciating my body. Sure there were times I've wondered why I had my flaws, but then again, it's those flaws that made me who I am. Thus, with that in mind, I've learnt to embrace my flaws. After working at a service job, which made me realise many things, I grew to understand more about the adult world as well.

It's not easy to survive in the real world. I've learnt that I should use my time now and start thinking and planning for the future.

Depression, anxiety, other disorders are sure to come. More in the future.They are the obstacles in my life yet I need to learn to overcome them.

It's a tiring and tedious process, but I hope the ending of my story will end well.