The day I became a woman

Dearest Reader,

My mother, sitting once again in her oriental garden of wisdom, told me that on the day I get my period for the first time, I would become a woman. I was told to expect my period when I am something like 13 or 14 years old. Alright, I thought.

I got my period when I was 11.

To put this into perspective, “Titanic” was released in the same year, and you had to be 12 years old to watch it.

Having seen the movie, and also seen my first period, I can safely say that blood coming out of my vagina was a lot more traumatising than watching a ship glamorously sink.

So did I handle the situation like a real woman?

Well I walked from the bathroom to my teacher and told her that I think I have my period, but it could also very well be the case that I am slowly dying because I am only 11, and it was supposed to come much later. I was so worried about my imminent death that I was allowed to leave school and go home. I told my mother I was deadly sick, and explained what happened. She started laughing, and gave me some chocolate. I ate it and thought it may be my last meal.

So my period was definitely not the day I became a woman.

Neither was my sweet 16th, my 18th, moving out, my driver’s licence, my high school graduation, my first sexual intercourse, my uni graduation, my first job, my first heart break, or any of the other things that are supposed to push you into the land of maturity.

But then, the day came.

I walked home, turned the keys into the door, stepped into my home, and stared womanhood right into the face.

It was a spider.

Not a normal spider.

A big-ass, hairy-ass, brown, disgusting Australian jungle mother spider of magnitudes and dimensions I have not seen in my entire life, or at best at the Zoo. I had dealt with Australian “house spiders” many times, many the size of my palm and jumping around like hairy assholes, but this was never-before-seen grandness for me. In my rational mind, I knew this was a huntsman and these spiders are harmless. But it was a huntsman the size of a God damn Brazilian tarantula.

It was hanging on the ceiling right above my bed, and its weight was evident in the way its legs were struggling to hold it up there. It was so horrifying, tears of sheer fear started rolling down my eyes. The first thing I did was slam the door and scream like a little girl outside my apartment. It was worse than seeing blood in my underpants.

I then decided to call everyone I know who could possibly handle this – but it so happened to be 3pm, and everybody was at work. So I started frantically knocking on my neighbours’ doors, only to find that nobody was home. I was, I concluded, alone with this thing.

I then engaged in a ritual of opening my door screaming, crying, and slamming the door close again. Despite my upsetting behaviour, said spider remained civil and kept sitting in its place above my bed.

I finally worked up the courage to walk in, find the insect spray bottle and – under much screaming and crying – finally get close enough to spray. The spider started stirring, walked along the wall, all over my bed, to the floor, around my room, and stopped under a chair. The entire time, I was screaming, crying, jumping, spraying, and quite possibly poisoning myself at this point.

Eventually, the spider died and turned into a curled up pile of hairy shit. It looked a lot smaller and less scary now, but I still had irrational fears that if I went too close, it would come back to life and eat my face, so I decided to vacuum its body from afar. Even my vacuum was struggling to suck that thing up, but it was eventually gone.

I checked my entire house for more spiders every 3minutes. I couldn’t sleep for days. I had sweaty nightmares for months. I jumped in fear every time anything moved. It took about half a year for me to relax again.

That was the day I turned into a woman. How do I know?

Last night, I sleepily walked into my bathroom, and saw another palm-sized hairy brown huntsman on my bathroom ceiling. I’d say it would make the top 3 of biggest spiders I’ve had in my house.

Yet, all I did was roll my eyes in annoyance. I got the spray, waited patiently for it to die, and vacuumed. No screaming, no crying. And above all, I just went to bed, turned off the light and went to sleep.

I am officially a woman. It only took three decades and a jungle spider.

You are more than what they see

Dearest Reader,

Without tooting my own horn here, I look slightly younger than my age.

This is mainly due to a combination of my ridiculously tiny body, the fact that I wear braces, and of course my overall juvenile behaviour.

As a result, it is not unusual for people to think I’m less experienced or knowledgeable than I actually am. Sure, it’s nice to be asked for ID when you buy a beer, and we can all pretend I don’t have almost two decades worth of beer guzzling experience. It makes me feel less disgusting.

But because they think that, I think that too. This is especially true professionally speaking. Not too long ago, I walked into a financial consultancy where two men in suits greeted me. They had a visibly puzzled look when “Zozan” from those emails turned out to be a tiny female in a floral dress. They kept checking the empty corridor behind me, perhaps waiting for my dad to show up and do the talking for me.

Those sorts of reactions immediately make me feel out of place and unqualified to be there. Although I was confident walking in, I quickly found myself regretting it. While they explained stock options, I thought to myself: You shouldn’t be here. Getting financial advice. You should be eating caramel popcorn at a fun fair and go ride a unicorn.

Last week I found myself in a training exercise on my first day at a new job, and I was paired up with Grumpy Lady. She was visibly older than me – I’m going to say she was approaching 60. She was clearly disappointed that she had to work with me. As mentioned previously, I tend to adopt juvenile behaviour, so I decided to make matters worse and told her it was my first day.

Instead of focusing on the exercise, she bitchily interrogated me on my work experience. I slowly started to feel inadequate again, imagining unicorns coming to my rescue, until I realised I don’t really have to take it.

Grumpy Lady: Have you worked in PR?
Me: Yes, but I didn’t like it. I guess I’m just not the corporate kind.
Grumpy Lady: Maybe you need to work in a different corporation.
Me: I have worked in different corporations.
Grumpy Lady: Maybe not long enough.


Me: I’ve worked in corporations for 7 years, in 4 different corporations, in 2 different countries, I believe I know. 
Grumpy Lady: Oh. Sorry, you look very young.
Me: I am young, but I’ve been working since I was 19. 

BAM! Then she finally launched into friendly banter.

I felt proud for having stood my ground. It shouldn’t take a stranger to tell me what I know and what I can do.

But then again, it’s nice when it does happen. Later that day, the company newsletter went around, introducing me to the team:


Welcome Zozan

–        Zozan Balci is teaching Public Relations in the Diploma of Communication in Semester 3. She has experience in public relations, corporate communications and media relations and as a freelance journalist (news and consumer). Zozan is also conducting doctoral research for the School of Communications at UTS in the area of socio-linguistics and is also a trained ESL teacher.