Part of knowing yourself means working out the things, or perhaps the thing, you are good at.  This isn’t always simple and it may require a very open mind. Knowing yourself also entails working out the things you are not good at.  This is generally a lot easier.  In fact, if you’re having any trouble with this bit it’s time to tell your mum you’re moving out.

Ugh. Look at that eyesore blocking our view. Pic: Supplied

One of my strengths is identifying the negative side to any person, place, animal or thing.  I am like a falcon; where others see a sea of golden wheat, I will see the rat.  No field is too wide or densely planted.

Not only can I zero in on the negative like a raptor, I use what I find sustainably: maximising the mileage I get from each negative detail and regularly reusing information.

As the falcon inspires a certain awe, so too my negativity has inspired a certain awe in our home - to the point where my partner is constantly commenting on it. 

Perhaps I would have preferred to be really good at line dancing or harness racing, but, as my kid’s kinder assistant says, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.”  So I’m not complaining, notwithstanding that complaining is in fact another particular strength.

The word “master” is bandied about a lot.  But over time my practice of negativity had reached a level where it would in fact be reasonable to say I was a master.

If your strength is perspicacity, or just reading verbs, you will have noticed me use the word “was”.  And this is because, in a most unsettling turn of events, my negativity has recently been shaken to its very foundations. 

Where would such a disturbing occurrence take place? Well, rest assured, not on the safe shores of Terra Australis.  This extreme personality event took place on a verdant knoll belonging to Fiji.  It was like the coup all over again – I was surrounded and change was rammed down my throat.

DFAT’s site has no warning and travel agents, despite their months of training, are completely uninformed about the risks.  No one warns you that trying to maintain the practice of negativity in Fiji is like trying to arrange a buck’s night in Kabul, or find someone to wag school with you in China. 

In a state of complete ignorance of these risks I disembarked on the island.  As I sidestepped random livestock to exit the landing paddock little did I realise I had effectively cut off my air supply.
It started almost immediately – a relentless succession of unprovoked acts of warmth.  The local population was incorrigibly friendly and particularly susceptible to bouts of uncontrolled good humour. Whichever direction one turned it was one happy, open face after another.  Clearly it was going to take a person of uncommon negativity to be able to see through all this – I refocused.

The warm weather, lush vegetation, pristine seas and fresh tropical food all took their toll though - collectively assaulting my ability to concentrate.  The surreptitious removal of schedules, timepieces and information technology further confounded the situation.  I knew there had to be something negative in my midst but I just had to have a nap and finish my fruit plate before I could work it out.

Back home I was accustomed to a supportive community of like-minded individuals, willing to suckle side by side on society’s breast, like so many little piglets, swallowing the stream of pretensions, vanities and anxieties that she feeds us.  Over there I was confronted by people engaged in a case of stubborn nipple refusal.  They couldn’t have sourced a handmade, organic French soap, neon runners or a teeth-whitening service if their national security depended on it – and they simply didn’t care.

Over the coming days I would apply my full powers to analyse every part of my experience there.  To scan the stream of islanders I encountered for an ulterior motive, a note of falsity, a skerrick of surliness but to no avail.  It was with mounting anxiety that I found myself scrabbling for something to hold on to, something to regain my footing and maintain my outlook.  I failed.

So if you’re a chipper little unit, inclined to mirth and optimism and generally content with your lot, you’ll fit right in – though whether or not you actually need a holiday is debatable.  If you err toward the uptight or you are a fellow minus man – you’ve been warned.

Most commented


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    • nihonin says:

      05:47am | 27/07/12

      ‘One of my strengths is identifying the negative side to any person, place, animal or thing.  I am like a falcon; where others see a sea of golden wheat, I will see the rat.  No field is too wide or densely planted.

      Not only can I zero in on the negative like a raptor, I use what I find sustainably: maximising the mileage I get from each negative detail and regularly reusing information.’

      I like how positive you are concerning other people and your interactions with them. wink  I read your article and took a horse tablet sized grain of salt.

    • Greg in Chengdu says:

      01:27pm | 27/07/12

      Another day another feminist article on the punch.

    • acotrel says:

      06:10am | 27/07/12

      ‘One of my strengths is identifying the negative side to any person, place, animal or thing.  I am like a falcon; where others see a sea of golden wheat, I will see the rat.  No field is too wide or densely planted.’

      I’m like that when I watch Parliament Question Time !

    • marley says:

      07:12am | 27/07/12

      You don’t have to be a falcon to spot the rats in Parliament.  The joint is overrun with them.  A bat could spot them.

    • nihonin says:

      07:20am | 27/07/12

      Must be hard on your one eye.

    • daf says:

      07:34am | 27/07/12

      Oh GOOD one acotrel - I second that!

    • Ginger Mick says:

      10:37am | 27/07/12

      Yes and the rats are starting to leave the sinking ship.

    • Greg in Chengdu says:

      11:02am | 27/07/12

      Your sixth sense must have been on holiday for the whole time Julia has been PM then

    • Emma says:

      06:39am | 27/07/12

      Sad you cant see the positives in Australia. Because they are everywhere.

    • Chris L says:

      10:13am | 27/07/12

      You mean like how good our economy is doing? I agree.

      So many people seem to want the economy to crash and can’t just appreciate the fact that we’re doing well.

    • acotrel says:

      07:12am | 27/07/12

      ‘Sad you cant see the positives ‘

      It seems to be a common complaint.  I seriously believe there is widespread psychological depression amongst our population, particularly amongst the young. I believe it is caused by ‘the cult of the individual’ - there is no sense of belonging, and pride in the tribe.  The violent expression of their rage and frustration when they get on the piss,  is a worry !

    • Retired Soldier says:

      09:10am | 27/07/12

      acotrel says:07:12am | 27/07/12
      Most of the usual “experts” on this forum normally disagree with you, including myself. Your comment today is spot on and I would defy any of your detractors to deny that.

    • Nikki says:

      03:15pm | 27/07/12

      We aren’t allowed to have a sense of belonging or pride in the tribe. Those that do are labelled Hansonite, rednecks, xenophobes and banjo pluckers. National pride is forbidden, except the orgy of Oz love on the prescribed day in January, and a little bit on Anzac Day. Displaying the Australian flag at any other time will have you branded a dangerous far-right loon.

    • Rose says:

      07:50pm | 27/07/12

      Bullshit Nikki!! Patriotism is not, and never has been taboo in Australia. Sure, we tend not to be big fans of American style pageantry and overdone displays of superficial self aggrandisement, but we certainly have a sense of pride in our great country. Generally people are labelled Hansonites and redneck etc when they get into nationalistic displays, and rightly so. Nationalism serves no purpose other than separatism, with some people considered more Australian than others, with complete disregard for the worth of other nations and other traditions. Australia is a migrant nation, always has been, always will be,so you can not truly show pride in Australia without showing pride in the ability of our nation to welcome people from numerous countries of origin and successfully integrate them into our society.
      I will always be fiercely proud of being Australian but I don’t consider that being Australian makes me any better or worse than those from other countries, I recognize the inherent value in all people based on their actions, not on their country of birth, one of the few things in their life they had absolutely no control over.
      I will always support the right of people to fly the flag, play Slim Dusty or do whatever they do to celebrate being Australian, until they do so in a way that attempts to diminish others, in which case I do reserve the right to think of them in suitably derogatory terms. Being Australian is something we should all celebrate every day, but it is never an excuse to discriminate or to be offensive to others.

    • gobsmack says:

      07:44am | 27/07/12

      Fiji is also blessed with a dictator so the Fijians don’t have to endure the unrelenting negativity of partisan politics.

      It’s almost impossible to comment on this site without some knob making a tenuous link to their pet hate.

    • acotrel says:

      08:18am | 27/07/12

      ‘It’s almost impossible to comment on this site without some knob making a tenuous link to their pet hate.’

      Dictator in Australia ?  Who are you possibly suggesting ?

    • year of the dragon says:

      08:21am | 27/07/12

      Like someone linking a story about optimism to partisan politics for instance.

    • gobsmack says:

      09:16am | 27/07/12

      @year of the dragon
      There is a difference between commenting on partisan politics and making a partisan comment.

    • year of the dragon says:

      10:07am | 27/07/12

      gobsmack says:09:16am | 27/07/12

      “There is a difference between commenting on partisan politics and making a partisan comment. “

      Yes but you were talking about “knobs’ making tenuous links to pet hates. Your pet hate appears to be “partisan politics” and “partisan politics” has a very tenuous link to the story. Ipso facto, you are a knob.

    • gobsmack says:

      10:27am | 27/07/12

      @year of the dragon

      It seems I have touched a raw nerve.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      01:10pm | 27/07/12

      Personal insults are a conservative trait, you should know that Gobsmack!.

      Day in, day out on the Punch

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      01:12pm | 27/07/12

      2nd thought, being technical YOTD has a point I guess.

      Still sticking to my conservative jibe though.

    • nihonin says:

      07:02am | 28/07/12

      simonfromlakemba says:

      01:10pm | 27/07/12

      Personal insults are a conservative trait, you should know that Gobsmack!.

      None shall see, as clearly as the blind.

    • year of the dragon says:

      05:54pm | 28/07/12

      simonfromlakemba says: 01:10pm | 27/07/12

      “2nd thought, being technical YOTD has a point I guess.”

      In other words, vindicated.

      “Personal insults are a conservative trait, you should know that Gobsmack!.”

      “Still sticking to my conservative jibe though.”

      My earlier post got lost in the ether. However, my points were:

      1. I haven’t insulted anyone (personally or otherwhise). It is gobsmack’s opinion that making a “tenuous link” from the topic to their pet hate are knobs not me. I just pointed out that he was doing exactly that.

      2. You resorting to personal insults to attack someone for making personal insults. Although I think now that the logic has been explained we can all agree that I didn’t personally insult anyone.

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:57am | 27/07/12

      Nice try, Fiji Tourist Bureau.

    • Chris L says:

      10:01am | 27/07/12

      Good work Mahhrat! You found the negative!

    • Mahhrat says:

      10:28am | 27/07/12

      “Raptor” indeed.  Player, PUHLEASE.

    • subotic says:

      08:44am | 27/07/12

      Struggling to stay negative?

      Hell. I feed off my anger & negativity like a monster. I’d be lost without it!

      I mean, could you imagine my comments without my negativity? I know, rite…

      Like, seriously, people who are deliriously happy all the time scare the crap outta me. That shit ain’t normal. Like born again Christians. Nobody, and I mean no normal person, struts around all day like that.


    • chuck says:

      09:46am | 27/07/12

      unless they are on uppers or a greenie hugging a tree!

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      11:21am | 27/07/12

      I’m with ya sub, I despise happy people. What’s their deal? Oh, and people who are happy in the morning, what the shit is that about? What kind of sicko would be happy about having to get out of bed…. I think someone has something to hide if they’re happy about that, the kind of person to have human skin lamp-shades and missing people in their roof cavity. I feed mostly off my anger and negativity, but also off the tears of fat people, minority groups, and happy people after I make them sad.

    • Emma says:

      12:10pm | 27/07/12

      Dont get me started on born again Christians! Their concept is to conveniently swipe away the past by saying “I am a different person now”.

    • Punters Pal says:

      09:29am | 27/07/12

      Great work, Amy. I just got back from Fiji as well, spent a week there as a family. Left our phones in Australia, so we had no access to our e-mails and internet for a week. It was really great, one of the most relaxing holidays ever.

      Most locals had nothing bad to say about political situation either. Apprently the previous government was very corrupt and it is now getting cleaned up.

      Fiji bitter by the pool - heaven.

    • CorBlimey says:

      10:16am | 27/07/12

      Amy, don’t struggle to stay negative. Go have a chat to SSR - he’s like the Jedi Master of Negativity. He’ll sort you out. raspberry

    • Susan says:

      10:30am | 27/07/12

      Interesting how we all see this piece. 

      What I read was…I will talk about myself first and imply I am super negative thus if any of you find fault with my piece I already have my reaction covered.  I don’t tend to read the press so I didn’t know about any problems in Fiji unlike many other Aussies.  I am used to hand-made French soap and various other niceties but I discovered that not having them was not as bad as I thought.  Fiji is actually quite cool.

    • Ginger Mick says:

      10:42am | 27/07/12

      “cool”  not much longer, global warming is gunna get em.  wink

    • PhoenixGirl says:

      10:48am | 27/07/12

      I recently watch a doco “SAS Heroes: Last Stand In Oman”

      In this doco there are two hero’s whose bravery and heart is hard to find a match. These two were Fijians.

      It is clear that the world has a lot to learn from Fiji and its amazing people.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      12:09pm | 27/07/12

      Fiji sucks. Hong Kong and Tokyo are much cooler…...

    • subotic L. Claypool says:

      12:21pm | 27/07/12

      Primus suck.

      Boom boom….

    • Zeta says:

      12:15pm | 27/07/12


      Step One: Find out your Qantas flight is code sharing with Air Pacific.

      Qantas has its problems, granted. But I persist with their slightly shabbier planes, their weak rewards program, their ridiculously expensive business class (it’s 40 per cent more than business class on any other carrier) for just one reason – efficiency. Qantas is a little slice of Germany over our lazy Australian skies. The staff are always older, quicker, and less likely to chit chat with Football trips than the younger, stupider hostesses on other airlines.

      So there’s nothing more jarring than finding out you’re flying Air Pacific instead. Don’t get me wrong, the staff are lovely people, but that’s about it. Being a lovely person does not get me a hot towel, it gets me angry, because I’m watching you smile and high five every f***ing passenger while I am still sans hot towel. You know what else? They don’t even have hot towels on Air Pacific.

      Step Two: Fly to Suva.

      The Fijians are masters of misdirection. Look it up – US Navy Seals actually learn the tactics of Fijian warfare. Nowhere is this more obvious than their two airports. Tourists are funnelled by travel agents into Nadi Airport, sure, it’s about as well appointed as Hobart ‘International’ but it’s where they deploy their absolute ace people. Smiling, happy Fijians barking ‘Bula!’ at every man woman and child within range.

      Suva is a different story. Suva is the other half of the country they don’t like to tell you about. A dystopic nightmare of failed planning policies, poverty, colonial hold over corruption, crime – and some of the cheapest methamphetamine you’ll have offered to you, repeatedly, between the cab rank and your hotel.

      Step Three: Watch Fiji TV

      If, like most tourists, you get off your plane in Nadi, stay a couple of nights on Denarau and then get shuttled off to some predominantly white, Australian owned island resorts you could be forgiven for thinking that Fiji is one of the nicest dictatorships since the reign of Tarquin the Bro King. Watching Fiji TV news spoils this fantasy. Imagine if the ABC never ran a grab from Tony Abbott. Or the Greens for that matter. Chinese news at least has the illusory gloss of integrity. Fijian news doesn’t. Just an endless parade of old men in uniforms telling the country how safe and prosperous they are.

      Step Four: Visit an Indian community.

      It’s easy to forget that only half the country are happy, smiling Fijians with fuzzy hair and big smiles for the tourists. The other half of the country are a poverty stricken underclass of Indians who can’t vote, can’t own property, can’t own their own businesses and are basically considered untermensch by the Fijian ruling elite. They live in villages that are rented to them by prosperous, neighbouring Fijian villages in conditions not dissimilar to some of the worse parts of India. They don’t make any clay trinkets to sell you, and they don’t get healthy kick backs from Hilton and Sheraton in return for land. They live in the dirt and work their fingers to the bone driving cabs and cleaning your hotel rooms for lower pay than full blooded Fijians.

      Step Five: Ask a Fijian what their ancestors believed in.

      The Fijians are only too happy to sell you ornate and intricate reproductions of their ancient culture, but just try asking one of them exactly what that culture was. Never have I ever seen a culture so absolutely white washed by Christianity. Evangelical missionaries have pretty much stamped out one of the richest, proudest cultures in the Pacific and replaced it with a naked white man pinned to a cross. Our Indigenous Australians might have it a lot harder than the Fijians, but at least they managed to hold onto a 40,000 year old oral history and language. The Fijians have lost that, and replaced it with a cringing interpretation of every one’s favourite sky ghost.

      If that doesn’t maintain your cynicism, nothing will.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      01:16pm | 27/07/12


    • Nikki says:

      03:35pm | 27/07/12

      Step Six: consume too much delicious fresh milk from green coconuts and suffer with explosive diarrhea for the rest of your holiday.

    • cb says:

      01:24pm | 27/07/12

      i love negative

    • the cynic says:

      05:10pm | 27/07/12

      Step seven: You have to fly back to Aussie on Air Pacfic yet again and then be greeted by a bloody happy smiling Indian Immigration clerk in a turban welcoming you back to your own country after enduring a week of ever smiling Fijians.

    • nihonin says:

      05:37pm | 27/07/12

      I’m positive, I’ll always be negative!


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