10 things I learnt on holiday

For many of us, holidays are a time for relaxation, reflection and a chance to re-charge the batteries. Whilst I do many of those, my overactive brain also ensures that I spend my days lounging in the sun forward planning, analysing and making many lists on how I can detox my life. I sound like a barrel of laughs don’t I? (Sign up for a holiday with me here…)

I have just returned from a week in Santorini, perhaps the most beautiful place on earth (apart from Sheffield of course). I spent 7 days with my boyfriend, good friends and was lucky enough to witness one of by best friends getting married to the love of her life. It was stunning, the whole week. But I would be lying if I told you I spent the week in blissful happiness, instead there were moments plagued with anxiety and a few tears shed. Why, I’m not sure. But what I did learn is 10 important things about myself.

1) I most definitley have body dysmorphia
On the first day I said to my boyfriend Joe, I wish (as vain as it sounds) that I could be one of the girls who could take a bikini shot and be brave enough to share it with the world. “Let me take one photo of you so you can see how lovely you are.” He did, and I honestly could not believe what I saw. Perhaps it was the good light, black bikini and flattering filter but the combo made me look kinda okay. I don’t see it when I look in the mirror but it’s taught me that for a while now I’ve still been a ‘big girl’ in my mind and I need to stop dressing in tent like clothes and learn to appreciate and embrace my body. I’ll regret it when I reach 60 if I don’t. (The best thing was all the lovely comments from my friends and family, you babes.)

2) Greek food is like sex on a plate, but better
Good job I took the bikini shot on the first day as I have arrived home with a large gut or perhaps a baby whom I will call Stavros in my womb. It’s the most amazing food in the world and made me realise how much I am missing out on. It’s given my mouth a food orgasm and I want to experience more food cultures and learn to cook amazing food and fill my Instagram with those amazing dishes, like Mille Mckintosh but bigger portions.

3) I have to accept I am wheat intolerant
It’s a dark day for a foodie like myself, but after spending every night in the foetal position after inhaling mountains of pitta and tzatziki it’s time to accept that my body simply cannot digest wheat. I’ve given it up from today and I’ve spent 97% of my day thinking about bagels but I hope it will improve my gut, skin and hair.

4) I’m Mary and I suffer with anxiety
There I said it. There have been brief mentions of it in my blog and my boyfriend and close friends know it’s an issue that plights my every day but after a few hairy moments in Santorini, including one where I actually cornered the bride on her wedding day for a tiny little breakdown, it’s time to do something about it. In true Mary Hickey form I’m reading everything the internet has to offer, ordering books on Amazon and looking into professional help. I’ve realised it’s not normal to have a racing heart, painful chest and sweats every time I drive, or walk through a crowd or receive a piece of ‘bad news’. I’m sure admitting it is not the hardest part but at least it’s step in what I can only imagine is a very long journey. I hope others who think they are suffering the same will find someone to confide in, because once you do you wonder how you ever coped without the support.

5) There is nothing like a conversation with a female
As I just mentioned I had a number of wobbles on my holiday, luckily Joe was there to deal with the majority but every now and then you just need to chat to a female don’t you? I went with away with two ‘close friends’ and came back with a handful. I found that if you lay your cards out on the table, it’s so often others are playing with a similar hand. Sometimes you need to babble away to a group of girls and get your problems of your chest to discover they’ve been through it too and can help. I’ve come away with lots of incredible advice, many reassuring nods and the knowledge that I can call any of one them and they’d be there to listen.

6) I need to start appreciating the now
I’ve never been able to appreciate the now. When I first got my hamster, Harriet (may she rest in peace) I spent the first few weeks crying because I didn’t think 3 years was long enough for a hamster to live. I worried about what life would be like without her (I’m serious) and struggled to actually enjoy having her. I found it’s actually quite exhausting lying on a sun lounger with a cocktail and book in hand thinking about the fact I’ve got work in a week. So I really tried to turn myself off and I’m trying to do it back at home too.

7) Getting told there is a problem is not always a bad thing
Of course when me and Joe arrived in Greece we were met off the plane by the manager of our hotel who told us there was a ‘problem’ with our room. The previous occupants had been involved in a quad bike accident and were laying flat out in the room in full body casts. “You can’t have the room for another two nights”. Oh great. After Joe’s immediate “I’m the customer, I’m not happy” esque outbursts we discovered we were going to spend 2 nights in their sister hotel. AKA heaven. A cliff side resort with a free bar and fresh breakfast every morning over looking the sea. I felt like Miranda Kerr. I’m hoping I’ve learnt something from facing initial problems, and maybe the next time I am faced with a problem, such as a potential employer telling me post interview “we loved you, but we’ve decided to go with someone else” that there is something much better around the corner.

8) I have the most incredible boyfriend in the world
Cynics and singles look away now. But he really is. You know those girls who are crazy during a full moon, their periods, when they’re tired, hungry etc etc etc.. Well I am all of those rolled into one. A delight. How he puts up with me I don’t know but I do know is that I’m glad I enjoyed my single days and never settled because I’ve got a winner. He has shown me so much love, support, friendship and loyalty over the past 2 years it’s almost sickening. The past week has made me realise, like my mum and dad when I was younger that I shouldn’t blame him for everything and take things out on him and I’m so incredibly fortunate that I’m in love with my best friend. *Another part of me shrivels up and dies*

9) EVERYONE is going through stuff
How many times have I referred to social media as the devil that gives its audiences preconceptions that everyone else’s life is amazing? Well this past week has proven to me that whilst the majority of us are happy souls we all have baggage and shit going on back home that we are all having to deal with, even on holiday. What’s important is we help each other carry our shit bags (eww, but couldn’t think of a better word and I’ve already used baggage) and we listen, and most importantly we remind each other that we are all bloody amazing.

10) Writing is kinda my thing
You know when you leave a music concert or a dance show and you feel in awe but also kinda deflated because you’re not as talented as them? Well I get that a lot. But a conversation I had on holiday with a friend I call ‘The Body’ and whom I am incredibly jealous of, left me feeling all warm and gooey inside. “You’ve got a real talent Mary.” “Really?” “Yea, you can write, I wish I could write like you.” Yea, maybe I can. I love it, I think about it all the time and every so often I get a comment that makes my day and sometimes my week. Her comment made me realise that writing is kinda my thing and more importantly I’ve realised I don’t actually give a shit about how many likes, comments or shares I get. As long I just make one person think differently, and make my friends and family proud who cares? What’s more important than your family being proud or your friends looking up to you? Nope, not a lot.

Oh yea one other thing I learnt, the new Bridget Jones is AMAZING. But Bridget is 50, 50!!

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Entitlement

entitlement

Many of the posts I write for this blog focus on my unhappiness, bad luck, dislike for social media (at times) and general lack of self esteem. Pretty morbid I know. But as I’m not a diary writer, I use this as an outlet for all my thoughts and fears. I should really be more private, but since the birth of this blog I have received such wonderful feedback and advice, reading all your comments is my new ‘girl talk’ fix and it’s cheaper than Cosmopolitan.

I guess what I want to focus on in this post is a trait that I have recently recognised in myself. It’s up there with my hormonal mood swings, constant appetite and overbearing opinions, as one of my worse attributes. As many of you already know, I suffer from career jealously. I occasionally suffer from body jealously too when I stalk Kendall Jenner on Instagram, but in terms of family, friends and boyfriend I personally think I’m a winner. So really, it’s only other people’s career highs that cast an almighty shadow of jealously over me from time to time.

I’m a big thinker, probably because I spend the majority of my life sitting on trains, and I’m also very pragmatic. Therefore I am constantly trying to pinpoint the route of my unhappiness that creeps in now and again and find a way to solve it. I think my issue is me, not everyone else. And that’s because deep down I am so incredibly proud of all my friends and family who have nailed down their dream career. It’s myself I get upset with when other people get promoted or sail through an interview. I ask myself, why isn’t that me, but then I continue watching Harry Potter and realise that I can’t sail through life expecting life to throw me great opportunities. This in when I realise, oh shit I’m one of those self-entitled arseholes. I think, just because I got good A-Levels,  graduated with a BA and PGD, worked for free for months AND am simply a nice person that I should get the career I want. I can proudly say that I do work really really hard. But when has anything ever come to me without exhaustingly long hard work. My A-Levels took me 2 years of hard work to achieve, university took 3, well 2 if you cancel out the first year of drinking and partying all the time, and my driving… Well it took me 6 years of lessons and 5 tests. So perhaps I need to recognise that my life challenges me, it always has. For some reason my life has always ensured I work that extra bit harder, for that little bit longer. I’m actually kind of getting somewhere in my career, I work in communications in a charity I write for the metro.co.uk and I’m writing a book. I just want more, all the time. And I want more now. I want my book on the shelves of Waterstones and a permanent job that pays well. But like everything else, it’s going to take a lot more hard work from me and a little bit longer than everyone else.

I had a bit of a career u-turn last week and I survived. Six months ago I would have been in a pit of self-loathing for a week and cried for days because of that rejection. But this time, I just picked myself up and started again. This entitlement I have is something that I am slowly trying to get over. I’ve had 9 interviews now for various jobs I wanted, non of them wanted me. But looking back over the last few months I’m so glad it happened. I am actually genuinely pleased I didn’t get that first job I interviewed for at the beautiful magazine I loved. The rejection has made me a better, stronger and more determined person. I will probably get 100s of rejection letters from publishers when I try to get a book deal, but so did JK Rowling, and look at her. I know that everything is going to be okay. My friends may be doing better than me, but good for them! I’ll get there too, I’m just taking  longer to get there and trying to enjoy the view as I go.

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Don’t believe everything you see online

Sunday nights are made for social media stalking. Right now I bet you’re spending ‘quality time’ with your friends, family, boyfriend/girlfriend (or your favourite TV box set) whilst secretly refreshing your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over and over again.

You may tell yourself you’re catching up with friends and keeping up to date with everyone else’s life, but deep down you’re doing what we all do, comparing your life to everyone else’s.

Social media is a funny old bugger isn’t it. I myself have a pretty precarious relationship with it. I actually need it, I use it every day to better and further my career. In my ‘real’ job as a Communications Coordinator at a youth charity and in my fun job as a Lifestyle Blogger at metro.co.uk. Without social media I doubt anyone would actually read my writing or know anything about the wonderful charity I work for.

If I left social media at my desk, like my work phone, I predict my life would be a lot more boring, but perhaps a lot happier too. I spent approximately 50% of my day on social media, and that’s outside of work hours. That’s 50% of every day being jealous, comparing myself, being angry, frustrated and moreover letting ‘real’ life pass me by.

We are all guilty of using social media to sensationalise our lives. We upload photos, videos, check ins and 140 characters of the highlights of our day. A delicious breakfast, an idyllic spot for lunch, a spontaneous afternoon purchase, a pre-dinner selfie – do I need to go on? By the way, how many of these have you seen on my social media? Guilty, I know. Whilst we’ve all been lapping up the likes and comments on our ‘perfect’ lives we’ve forgotten to realise how shit we are making people feel. I had a scroll through my Instagram today, and I was impressed. Lazy afternoons with my handsome boyfriend, a Happy Birthday message from Dermot O’Leary, smug post run selfies, gallons of chocolate milk, beautiful friends, countless evenings in front of Grey’s Anatomy, summer evenings spent on South bank. Even I would be jealous of my life. But what you don’t see is all the tears, anxiety and sheer boredom that makes up a big chunk of my week.

If my social media accounts were to give a true reflection of my life what you would actually see is; my psoriasis infused scalp that gives me constant dandruff and ensures I spend hundreds of pounds on medicated shampoo, night after night spent alone in my flat whilst my boyfriend works away on the X Factor, endless tears of frustration to Abellio Greater Anglia Trains because it costs me £12 a day to get to and back from work, reading my pay-check every month and wondering how I will pay my bills, my crippling anxiety that keeps me and my boyfriend awake at night whilst I worry that my life is shit compared to all my friends, my longing for the North and the realisation that I’m never going to live there again, my body dismorphia which results in me constantly wearing tent like clothes to cover my figure because I still see that 13 stone girl carrying uni weight when I look in the mirror. My life doesn’t look so great now does it? What I’ve just told you are deep and dark real life situations that I experience every day, a lot of the time whilst I’m uploading a picture of the frozen yoghurt I’m eating to give you all an illusion that my life is brilliant.

Maybe if when I logged on to Instagram and saw stretch lines and bushy eyebrows instead of perfect bodies and brand new Mulberry purchases, then my anxiety and jealously would subside, it’s a vicious circle isn’t it? What I’m learning, from conversations with good friends and reading other blogs (i.e. Hannah Gale), that we shouldn’t take what see online at face value. There are deep underlying layers to everyones life. Yes I have just uploaded a picture of mine and Joe’s romantic film night but that’s not all I have done this evening. I’ve done the washing up, taken out the bins, cleaned out my ears and filled out a doctor’s form – wild.

The message behind this rambling post is simple – don’t believe everything you see online. If you don’t believe me, look at what I’ve actually done tonight. Imagine if I actually posted this on social media…

I’ve hung out my laundry – a wild 30 minutes.

Laundry

I’ve done the washing up – wahoo.

Washing up

I’ve soaked my favourite pan (because Joe burnt chilli onto the bottom) – Lucky me.

Burnt pan

Wild Sunday night y’all.

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Nostalgia

x-factor-tulisa-pic-itv-891497563

Earlier this week something very strange happened. After finding my ancient 1 GB Ipod in an old bag at the weekend, I felt compelled to fill my commute with the likes of Ne-yo, Pussycat Dolls and Westlife. It took me back, way back to when I was care free teen fretting over what to wear to Embrace nightclub on a Saturday night and whether or not I would get in with my older sister’s ID.

I didn’t expect to experience an epiphany; moreover I didn’t expect the lyrics of Tulisa from N-Dubz to spark it. In the midst of Dappy’s ‘na-na-naiis’ Tulisa, sang something that really struck a cord with me. ‘Trust me it will only get better” now, trust me, I would never trust the female boss. Her extra curriculum activities caught on camera and fashion choices say it all. But her lyrics hit me at a time when I can’t get over how much I miss my past. I know what’s causing it. For the last three years I spent my summers at an American children’s camp. It was the very best time of my life, but last summer I made a conscious decision not to return and was very happy with this choice up until the social media swarm of friends returning hit me. I realise I’ve spent the last month dwelling on the past and how much better it was. This realisation, of how much time I spend stuck in the past and not looking forward to the future is mind blowing, and a huge waste of time.

It got me thinking about all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in my life, and how at the time I never thought they could be topped. When I look back to that summer after my GCSEs I can remember how, at the time, it was the greatest time of my life. It was a completely care free and wonderful time. Equally, my three years at university were arguably the most fun and an experience where I learnt so much about myself. Then I look back on my last three summers in America where I met the love of my life and friends for life. It’s not up until now, unfortunately because of Tulisa’s wise lyrics, that I’ve realised that my life has just got better and better and will most probably continue to get better. All those memories that I look back on and smile, I really never thought they could never be topped, but they have. Every single one. It doesn’t even have to be those really memorable experiences. If I look back and think really hard, I remember when Craig David released ‘Born to do it’ I never ever thought a greater album could be released by a living man. (Please don’t judge me on my music tastes!) BTDI is still arguably one of the greatest albums of all time but Drake’s Take Care may have just overtaken old Craigy boy to the top of my favourite list. With all this exhausting reflection and looking back and comparing my life from now to then, I’ve just decided to trust that life will just get better and music will too!

I know many of you find life so exciting because you never know what’s going to happen. Unfortunately I’m not so spontaneous, I like to plan, be prepared and know what’s coming. I’m slowly starting to let go of this need for control and let my huge amount of hair down but guess I just feel safer looking back in the past because it’s already happened. Nostalgia plays such a huge part in my life, I’m constantly looking back and re-living favourite moments from my past, but I think it’s time to take a stand, look back and just smile rather than cry because I miss it all so much and look forward to the future and all it will bring.

I’m hoping Craig David gets his act together and releases a new chart topping hit.

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40 things that happen when you move in with your boyfriend

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I’ve lived with my boyfriend for over 8 months now. After saving and searching for the perfect home we’ve finally, moved out the comfort of his parents house, into our own little flat. It’s an equally exciting yet terrifying time as the realisation sinks in that ‘this is it’. I’ve been making a conscious log, of all those annoying things he does that make me love and hate him in equal measure. Many of which we aren’t pre-warned about when we first take the plunge. Here are just a few…

1) Perhaps the greatest myth of living with your boyfriend is: “You will have sex, all the time, everywhere.” This does not happen. Netflix, Gone Girl and Macadamia hair masks take priority in the evening.

2) You will scrimp and save to get that first months rent together: The first thing he will do when you move in is install Sky, with the Sky Sports package.

3) You will find him using your trusted Tangle Teaser to scratch his beard.

4) The top shelf of the fridge will always contain two crates of beers that he always “got on offer” at Sainsburys.

5) He will be come obsessed with unnecessary house gadgets; a multi-purpose Microwave and industrial strength super-turbo Vax vacuum cleaner have already turned up on my doorstep.

6) He will become equally obsessed with everything Groupon has to offer.

7) He will complain you always steal the duvet, yet he will always kick the duvet off his feet and in turn expose yours.

8) The second thing he will do after installing Sky is set up his Playstation, TV, DVD and Apple TV. He’s got his priorities sorted.

9) You will have evenings where everything about him annoys you, even his breathing, but you will miss him the minute he walks out the room.

10) He will do a ‘big shop’ yet fail to buy any fresh fruit or vegetables.

11) The day you actually get your keys you will immediately crave your girlfriends. Remember when you got the keys to your first place with your best girls and drank wine on the floor and installed fairy lights everywhere before moving any furniture in?

12) Yet you will realise you will never want to live with anyone else but him ever again.

13) The cushions you so carefully arrange on the sofa will always end up on the floor.

14) He will never EVER change an empty toilet roll.

15) The Nivea skin range you bought him to tackle his dry skin will gather dust at the back of the bathroom cupboard.

16) He will always answer your pleading calls and give you step-by-step instructions on how to watch Grey’s Anatomy on his Apple TV and never get frustrated.

17) You will often want to inflict serious pain on him and imagine creative ways of doing so.

18) You will catch him watching Mary Berry and Masterchef to learn tips on cooking you a delicious meal.

19) You will find you never have to empty the bin. Is there a man’s guide somewhere that tells them this is a right of passage?

20) Whenever he’s away you will sleep on his side of the bed.

21) He will move your precious trinkets off the shelf and replace them with his ridiculously large collection of Blu-rays.

22) He will absolutely have to have a footstool.

23) He will also claim the only chair in the house is his ‘man chair’.

24) Whilst you spend three hours organising your new wardrobe he will instead spend three minutes stuffing clothes into drawers before returning to installing gadgets.

25) Despite having a working oven and a fully stocked fridge you will spend the first night in your new flat eating pizza out of the box.

26) He will try to be romantic and buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate the move; you won’t tell him that it’s gone off.

27) Seven Jeremey Clarkson books will appear in your bathroom for ‘toliet reading’.

28) Do I need to point out that the toilet seat will always be up?

29) Like emptying the bin, he will see locking up as his role in the home.

30) He will cook delicious dinners and even offer to do the washing up, yet leave traces of food on the plates only for you do re-do it all.

31) You will look forward to nights on your own, spent in a dressing gown watching SATC and eating chocolate, but you will spend the entire evening texting him.

32) You will love him more and more every day.

33) You may buy slinky pyjamas from Boux Avenue, but you will sleep in one of his t-shirts every night instead.

34) You will forget that it’s unacceptable to pluck your facial mole hairs in front of him.

35) When he comes home all excited because he’s bought something lovely for your flat you may burst into tears and want to marry him right there and then.

36) He will say “leave it to me” whenever you receive a bill.

37) Thinking of future baby names will start to take up two hours of your day instead of one.

38) He will ask you how to turn the washing machine on.

39) You will realise that all of a sudden you have a boyfriend, best friend and flat mate all rolled into one.

40) You will wonder how you ever lived apart.

x

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Since when did life get so disappointing?

I am constantly on the lookout for ideas for this blog. I look for inspiration everywhere; conversations on the underground, magazine articles, discussions with friends, social media, the list goes on.

The aim of these posts is always to get people thinking; yet more often than not I treat them like a diary entry, often spilling words from my head onto a page with no clear thought process involved. I just simply write what I’m thinking and hope others like it. 

After my last post, Success v Happiness was so well received (thank you again), I really felt the pressure for this one. I guess that’s why I felt the need to dig deep and get personal again, covering a topic that so many of us feel a lot of the time, disappointment.

I promise there will be no violin strings involved, instead I want to look back on why so many of us are so disappointed these days. Back in school I can’t remember feeling really disappointed – there were times when I didn’t reach certain goals or milestones, not getting the lead in Bugsy Malone still cuts me deep now and again, but overall when I was at school I was pretty content with how my life was panning out. Look at friends for example, how often do you plan to meet for a drink only to receive a text message as you’re walking out the front door “Sorry babe I can’t make it tonight, I’m shattered and I’ve got loads to do” – how disappointing. Back in school however this just never happened. We all couldn’t get enough of each other, we walked to school together, got told off in class for gossiping together, then there was the slow walk home together followed by and hour long conversation on the phone and my favourite pastime, using the dial up internet to chat on MSN for hours – us girls just wanted to spend every minute together. But now everyone is letting life get in the way of spending genuine time together. Of course it’s so much easier to go straight home after work, instead of travelling 30 minutes going the wrong way on the central line for a quick coffee, but as friends we need each other more than ever, and we are all disappointing each other out of sheer laziness. 

Looking back on exams, they were never a doddle for me, the relief I felt after passing my maths GSCE with the prospect of never doing a mental maths test again, was a greater relief than finally passing my drivers test after 4 attempts. But I worked really, really hard, failure was not an option so I worked my butt off and studied the A-Levels that most interested me and got into the University I wanted to spend three years partying (and studying) at. – Not a lot of disappointment going on here, minus the four failed driving tests of course. 

Other than the odd bad break-up, a boy once recorded “you’re dumped” on a mobile and got his friend to re-play it to me at lunchtime, an ex boyfriend with two wandering eyes and a penchant for Jodie Marsh look-a-likes and the occasional refusal from my parents to go to an under-18s night at Centertainment in the middle of Don ‘dodgy’ Valley (if you’re from Sheffield you’ll understand), I experienced no life-altering disappointment till I grew up and everything got serious.

Disappointment is horrible feeling, it’s one you can feel right in the pit of your stomach and one you often have to disguise. Negative feelings can be released through a good cry and a hard kick of whatever is nearest to you. But with that feeling of disappointment how many times have you tried to rise above it and not let it defeat you, only for it to come crawling out (in my case via my eyes) as soon as you’re alone.

I personally believe that the reason disappointment is so poignant in so many twenty-something people’s lives these days is that during school and university there was always a cut off date. We knew we were living one stage of life that would lead to next; School – University – Job. But with the job market as it is – shit. We are all stood here looking around thinking is this it? Is this what I worked my ass off for? It’s that tricky stage in life where finding the balance between ‘wahoo I’m young and free and I want to live my life’ and ‘I can’t afford my rent this month’ seems impossible. We are all young, yet with so much responsibility and so much disappointment that life didn’t quite work out the way we planned.

I believe being disappointed can also have a snowball effect, how often has a train delay or an early morning traffic jam ruined your day? Since when did we all get so grouchy and angry at the world, back in school it was so easy to brush off a bad mark in geography because we were all just looking forward to morning break.

Disappointment is something I feel on a daily basis and it’s always at myself, it’s exhausting. It’s all engineered by the fact I’m not in my dream job. What’s worse it we are all told from an early age that we only live one so find the job you want to do and don’t settle for anything less. But my dream job is out of reach right now so am just supposed to feel disappointed for the next few years?

Luckily, I’m surrounded by an incredible foundation, whose support is endless – my family, friends and boyfriend. You need people around you who let you rant 99% of the time about how life isn’t quite how you imagined yet give you that response you need, “Shut the fuck up Mary”. It’s so crucial we remind each other of all the milestones we’ve overcome and how much we’ve achieved. Us young graduates are living in an incredibly difficult time – but we are all managing. So many of my friends have battled over the last few years to get where they are now, they may not be in their ‘dream’ job but they’re most definitely on their way. I hope it’s my turn next. One thing I’m going to stop, right here and now, is wishing my life away waiting for great things to happen. Who knows what’s around the corner, in the meantime I’m going to enjoy the little things that make my life so wonderful. Right now that’s a cup of tea and Grey’s Anatomy. 

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Success vs Happiness

Stepping stonesTwo years go, if you said to me a conversation with my boyfriend would have been the catalyst behind a blog post I would have laughed in your face. This blog was originally launched as an outlet for my cynical, un-romantic, rant infused, single self. How the times have changed…

Last night during my weekly Sunday night breakdown, fuelled by an on-going lack of self worth, my boyfriend Joe showed me something that overturned a thought process that’s been determining my life for as long as I can remember, have a look:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGoTmNU_5A0 

The message behind the short video entitled Music & Life is one that completely resonates with me. We are told from an early age by our teachers, parents, guardians, mentors, everyone, to strive for success. It’s drilled into us so much that we believe reaching success is our one goal in life and the one thing that can make us truly happy.

All the messages behind this video got me thinking, how much time in my life do I dedicate to striving for success, and have I ever sat and thought about how unhappy this makes me? Every day, other people’s successes are rammed down our throats they don’t even have to be work related in fact it’s often they’re not. How often do you meet up with your friends and merely wait your turn to brag about how fabulous your life is, or more often how shit it is? It seems we now often compete with our friends over who has the most miserable existence. And when we’ve left our friends we then log onto social media, which is a whole different ball game. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – are they really digital tools that allow us to connect with friends and family all over the world? No, they’re online platforms that allow you to glamourize your successes, brag to friends, and show off. I’m guilty of it too I assure you! But how often has somebody bought you a wonderful gift or you’ve visited a beautiful city and instead of taking it all in you instead immediately upload an image to Instagram, missing the sheer beauty of that experience whilst you’re deciding which filter makes it look the most fabulous. Then there’s LinkedIn the oracle of unhappiness: This person’s got this new job, and that persons got this promotion, ‘hey, congratulate so and so on reaching one year in their fabulous job you wanted’. Social media is becoming and endless charade of everybody else’s success and its making me unhappy.

It’s a horrible trait of mine to feel jealous instead of happy for that girl from school who has bought a house, yes bought a house at 23. I find myself bitching to myself about friend’s promotions, and their endless holidays instead of thinking ‘you go girl’. I need an intervention, because all of this success is suffocating, and my life seems to be flashing by in a whirlpool of disappointment, jealousy and let-downs. I need to stop letting others set the benchmark for my success and do it in my own time. So I’ve made a choice, and I hope in this post I can inspire others to do so. I’m going to stop viewing my life as a series of stepping-stones to get to the end goal that is ultimately success. Instead I’m going to dive in and take the plunge and stop obsessing on getting to that end goal and instead enjoy the journey.  I will continue to hold true to my hopes and dreams I’m just going to take the pressure off.

I’m fed up of seeing success as such monumental things like a job promotion or financial freedom from my parents; instead I’m going to find success in every day life. Success is all relative, for some it’s an achievement getting out of bed every day and walking. Do you realise how lucky you are to get out of bed each day, to see and hear and be loved? Maybe I’m getting a little deep here but it’s true.  Instead of comparing yourself to everything and everyone try doing one thing each day that makes a positive impact on somebody else’s life. Turn jealously into an emotion that drives you, but remember not to take success at face value, if someone is bragging about their amazing job every day maybe their home life isn’t so great. I’ve come to realise that our personal attributes and the impression we leave on others is what really measures our success. So take the plunge and enjoy the ride of life, for all its ups and downs. Stop being so determined to reach that end goal of ‘success’ and instead focus on making others happy. You know that feeling when you buy a gift for someone they’ve always wanted, imagine if you could bottle that feeling? I find that nothing makes me happier than inspiring others and making their life a better place simply by being in it. Remember: “You’re not rich until you have something that money can’t buy.”

Be happy.

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March 24, 2014 · 3:25 pm

Eight reasons why it’s great to be a twenty-something female in 2014

After last weeks ‘glass half empty’ rant fuelled blog, I feel it’s more important than ever to spread some positivity. This particular post is inspired from last weeks commute to work where I made it my priority to everyday, sit and think of a reason why it’s great to be alive. Sometimes, when you’re cramped up against a sweating beast of a woman with egg down her chin you’ve gotta think of just one reason why you’re lucky to be a twenty-something female in 2014. So here goes…

1) The feeling of taking your bra off at the end of each day
I beg of you, please, tell me one moment in your day that is better than the release of your nunga nungas from the vice of your bra? It’s that split second moment we all wait for at the end of the day, sometimes we keep our bra on that little bit longer to appreciate even more how bloody good it feels to take it off. At the weekend I often go native and spend 48-hours inside with no bra insight, often knocking myself out to run to the door to greet the delivery man with my curry, but sometimes for a treat, I strap them in just for one hour so I can enjoy that feeling. It’s one of those special feelings a man will never be able to experience, like giving birth to a child, only better.

2) The fact lower heels are back in fashion
Now I have always, always been a lover of heels. What’s not to love? A beautiful pair of heels can give you more confidence than any other item of clothing, they lift your butt, lengthen your legs and most importantly that ‘clip-clop’ sound gives you a sense of power, confidence and femininity that can for five minutes make you feel like you’re walking down your very own “I look fabulous tonight” catwalk. BUT for someone who is 5’7 with a group of friends who barely reach my armpit, the last few years of shoe fashion fuelled by tottering 6 inch heels have given me an ora of intimidation rather than attraction on a night out. There is nothing un-sexier than hovering over everyone and having to crouch down to order a drink. So it’s wonderful that lower heels are now paving the way in fashion, gone are the days of Alexander McQueen esque heels filling the shelves of New Look and Topshop, instead high-street stores such as Whistles and French Connection are following the likes of Chanel, Prada and Tom Ford who have lowered their heels yet added height to the expectations of women like me everywhere who can now last the night and look more fabulous and less frightening.

3) Beyonce
Do I really need to say more? Keep paving the way girl, keep paving.

4) Feminism
Five years ago, if you or I had uttered the words feminism it’s likely we would have been chased away with by a swarm of angry people brandishing pitchforks, screaming words like “bitch”, “bra burning lesbo” and “get back to the kitchen”. Today however it seems everyone is talking about feminism, and not under hushed tones and behind closed doors, instead people are really TALKING about it. And it’s not just the big leagues like Oprah, Ellen and Beyonce (you know they’re in the big leagues when they only need one name) it just seem to be a topic of conversation everywhere, and a positive one too. Something is happening with the word feminism, it seems to be going through a transition. It’s not just about equal rights and equal pay anymore, feminism covers such a wide array of topics; sexuality, freedom, choice, opinion; us girls now have more power than ever before over the choices and decisions we make. We are no longer talking about “having the right” to do something, because now we “have the right”. Every so often a topic comes along, like gay marriage or immigration thats gets everyone talking from politicians to movie stars to the person next door, and right now it’s feminism. Bloody brilliant!

5) Hats
On a slightly less political topic than the previous, I’m really happy that hats of all shapes and sizes seem to be ‘in’ right now. I know hats have always been ‘in’ but, I don’t know about you I think there’s a lot of confidence needed to pull of a hat. For some reason they always look fabulous and effortless on celebrities and in the pages of fashion magazines but it seems as soon as I try a fedora on in a shop I look more like John Wayne than Millie Mackintosh. But as it’s 2014 and everyone seems to be doing it, I’m embracing the hat. I love them and I’ve been told I suit them so I’m just going for it, berets, fedoras, bobble hats – bring it on. Flat caps however, I’ll steer clear from. Flat cap and a northern accent in London? I think not.

6) Chocolate milk after exercise
Now I’m one of those gals who will go through phases of loving exercise followed by six months of hating it. If I really get into the gym I love it and I’m addicted but if I have one of those horrific boxercise sessions and I can’t move for three days after, I struggle to get back into… six months later I’m still yet to join a gym down south. However, a few weeks ago I was informed of news so wonderful I wanted to dig out my Decathlon gym gear from the back of my wardrobe and hit the treadmill. It’s been scientifically proven that the best thing to do after an intensive work out is, not to stretch out in an array of embarrassing  positions in front of the weights area, no, it’s to drink a low fat chocolate milk. I didn’t listen to the scientific reasons why, I was too excited by the prospect of drinking a Yazoo after a run, but this is what the experts at Harvard are now doing. A good enough reason to get down to the gym ey?

7) Rucksacks
Now like the heels I mentioned earlier, I am a lover of bags. But when you work in London where a packed lunch, book/kindle, Metro, cosmetics bag (you need it after a commute), Filofax, Quaker oats sachet, dry shampoo and a coat for all seasons are every day essentials you can often feel like you’re carrying a small person around on one shoulder. It’s an every day occurrence to arrive home each day with half my shoulder gauged out by my favourite handbag, so you can only imagine my delight when the likes of Louis Vuitton, Mui Mui and Chanel filled their catwalks with rucksacks in their A/W and S/S shows. The lovely Cara Delevingne is rarely seen without one, it’s currently the most wanted on my endless wish list. I can’t wait to buy one and re-live my Year 7 rucksack wearing glory days before Jane Norman shoulder bags became the only acceptable way of carrying 17 textbooks to school each day.

8) Reading glossy magazines = intelligence instead of ignorance.
For this moment to be best explained it’s crucial to re-live an important moment in my life. When I started studying at Kingston University I initially started out on a combined course of Journalism with Creative Writing. On arrival at my first seminar I arrived with confidence that my incredibly varied literary tastes would be embraced by my lecturer and course mates.  This naive assumption was quickly crushed by a Gant wearing, bouffant haired, Chaucer reading A-hole who laughed in my face when the topic of discussion “Who and what do you like to read” came to me: “I enjoy reading a wide range of literature, To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite book, however I also love J.K Rowling and reading Cosmopolitan”. Met by a multitude of “huh?” and “who is this idiot” self expressions you can only imagine how quickly I begged my journalism lecturer to change to full journalism. I still remain angry with myself for doing so. I LOVE to read, it’s my greatest passion, so to be turned off studying the art of creative writing but a room full of toffs seems ridiculous. I wish I could see them all now, because it appears that the times have changed. Glossy magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Clare and Glamour, which were once see as materialistic, girlish nonsense read only by bimbos are now held in incredibly high regard all over the world. These magazines publish fantastic articles covering a whole scope of things, from FGM to eating disorders to feminism to breaking the glass ceiling, issues which we all treat seriously. What’s funny is these magazines haven’t changed the content they produce, they’ve always covered such issues. It’s another example, like feminism, where attitudes towards women have changed. These glossy magazines have stamped their authority on the world and now finally, get the recognition they deserve.

I’m sure, as it’s Monday tomorrow many of you will be thinking of reasons why it’s rubbish we work all the time and be baffled as to where the weekend goes (if you find out let me know) so for now, just have a quick think, why is it great instead of every other person in the world, you are you. Now take that bra off!

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Room 101

I think it’s safe to say I’m a pretty positive person. My friends and family would describe me as someone who always tries to see the light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark the tunnel is. I’m proud of the fact I always try to see the best in everyone and try to keep negative comments to a minimum. However, over the last month I’ve been filled with many a negative thought about the strangest of things. I’m not sure if it’s the January blues, the fact I’m commuting on the underground with creatures of Mordor every day, or all the determined, detoxing, “2014 is my year” comments filling my newsfeed. Never mind the catalyst – everything is pissing me off. As I want to return to my positive self ASAP I thought a rant would fill be once more with tranquility and peace. It’s likely I will soon delete this post in disgust of my time spent whining over ridiculous pet hates, but right now, I’m certain it will make feel better.

Here lies forth my top five for Room 101

“You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.”

 

1)     Loud music on the London Underground
I’ve already mentioned my distaste for the underground. What’s to like really other than the excitement northerners feel when the first re-locate to London and realise they are officially in London? It’s busy, smelly, boiling hot and nobody talks to each other. I’m certain if we filled the underground with Sheffielders conversations would flow. Instead it’s a zoo of Candy Crush playing, Metro reading, sweating anti-social commuters on route to work, which is fine. BUT there is one type of person in particular that should be permanently barred from the underground: Anyone listening to overbearing and often horrendously chosen music. There’s two types of music listeners, those who (maybe subconsciously play music through their headphones for all to hear) or the worst kind; Those who actually blast the music out their phone with no care in the world for everyone else trying to get home in peace. If you’re one of those people and you’re reading this, please stop. We don’t like you, especially you, the girl who played Boy Better Know out of her Samsung last Friday.

2)     Job Rejection Letters/Calls/Emails
As if the rejection isn’t bad enough from your dream job, employers really do make the whole situation a lot worse with their cock and bull drivel they insist on throwing down your throat. “It was such a tough decision and you were our second choice”, “We think you will go really far, we would like to keep in touch because you’re fantastic”, “We think you would get bored quickly because you’re very intelligent, enthusiastic and outgoing”, “You’re over qualified”, “I’m sorry but you just weren’t successful this time, we’ve decided to go with someone else who can offer something a little different than you”, “I can’t really give you any feedback why because you’re perfect for the job, just not right now”. These are all genuine responses I’ve received on the back of a job rejection. It’s like being broken up with when you’re 15 with, “It’s not you, it’s me”. Please, you don’t want me, so just get some balls and give it to me straight, I’m a big girl, I can take it, I promise.

3)     Interview/Job success statues on social media
Following on from the above, what’s perhaps more vile is those smug individuals who post job success on Facebook before even informing their family and real (not Facebook) friends. Yes, you’re over the moon and it’s been a torrent year of job rejection, and borrowing money from your parents, but please invest your smugness somewhere else – maybe in a phone call to your family? Maybe I will forgive you all when I finally land my dream job and I shoot myself in the foot with a job happy status. However, those who I won’t forgive are the people who post information about their job interview for the whole world to see! I mean bloody hell, you haven’t even got the job yet and writing about how excited you are about the prospect of a job interview you probably won’t even get is just lining you up for the slaughter house. Come on people – keep a bit of class.

4)     Large Eyebrows
I thought that my venture to Essex would result in even more overbearing eyebrows but it couldn’t be further from the truth. It seems Marmite/Slug-like eyebrows are loyal to the North of the country. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to get a break from seeing the 10 pound eyebrows in real life, but I’m still hit with them every time I log on to social media. Where did they come from? I’m not talking about the naturally big brows here, Lily Collins and Cara I bow down to your wonderful brows. I’m referring to the Crayola drawn bad boys that give girls a permanent look of surprise. Girls, someone should tell you – you look awful, grab a Simple cleansing wipe and remove them, immediately.

5)     It’s your birthday so I’m going to upload a picture on Facebook where you look shit and I look amazing to celebrate your birthday
In this example, you’re either a culprit or a victim of this heinous crime. We all know that one person, she seems to celebrate every friends birthday with a collage of their lasting friendship. Caption: “Happy Birthday to ma number one gurrrlllll, loves yaaaaa”. As if this hideous use of the English language isn’t bad enough its juxtaposed next to an image of themselves looking radiantly beautiful whilst their friend has both eyes shut, two bingo wings flapping about, or even worse they’ve used a photo from back in the day when you’re carrying a lot more timber and you’ve got that awful fringe infested hair cut you thought you’d put to the back of your mind. Is this something that sounds familiar? De-friend them, now! They’re evil!

Now please, I beg of you, don’t hate me. I’ll be back to my positive ways tomorrow. Wait, it’s Monday, Wednesday then, I promise.

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Jealously

Jealously is something every female has experienced at some point in her life. For some it’s an every day battle, for others it’s an unexpected burning sensation at the pit of your stomach when you see your ex for the first time in months with a Miranda Kerr look-a-like hanging off his beautiful arm.

I seem to experience jealously in different stages. Overall I’m pretty content with myself and my life, of course there are every day hurdles I have to over come like avoiding carbohydrates and accepting that no matter how much threading I endure my eyebrows continue to have a life of their own, but it’s safe to say I’m not one of those depressing girls who is jealous of everything and everyone. Instead I have very clear and poignant bouts of utter jealously; my memory seems to remember these jealous moments like they were yesterday.

When I was ten years old, everyone in the world seemed to have a pair of high-heeled black jelly shoes on their feet, and an inflatable rucksack, which allowed peering eyes to see it’s contents, on their back. Arriving at school each day to see every girl in my year with these precious garments, I felt such overwhelming jealously it made me cry on a daily basis. I remember the day my older sister received a yellow inflatable rucksack AND an inflatable chair for her birthday from a friend. Despite my love for my sister I was filled with utter hatred towards her, spawned from jealously in its purest form. I wanted these gifts so much that popping them seemed like the only possibility to deflate my rage. However, my love for my sister overcame my ploy to pop her presents when she wasn’t looking, perhaps it was the high-heeled black jelly shoes I received from my mum who obviously saw the pain I was in that also softened the blow.

When I started secondary school, I thought my jealously for material things would no longer be a problem, we were all instructed to wear uniform so I foolishly thought everyone would look the same. I arrived on Year 7 with my ironed uniform and hopes and dreams for meeting a new best friend, only to hit with a tidal wave of jealously for everyone in Rocket Dog pumps.

With each new academic year came a new form of jealously, it seemed everyone started wearing shoulder bags before me, and then there was the Avril Lavigne inspired baggy trousers and tie combo that I never managed to keep up with, my friends then went through a phase of getting their hair cut into cute bobs, only for my jealousy to instigate me to copy, resulting in a horreondous  Kim Jong-un esque mistake.

School is a time for everyone to be jealous of everyone else. University however, was a blur of jealously controlled by one thing and one thing only, everyone wearing size 12 and under. Yes, university was an awful time for my waistline, and my jealously for everyone without bingo wings and chubby cheeks overrode any possibility of jealously for material things.

So what happens to jealously after academic life when you’re no longer constantly surrounded my hoards of people trying to fit in?

For me it’s all about the four Ps

-Partner

-Property

-Pay

-Profession

As I hurtle into the mid twenties tick box, it seems jealously for other’s possessions and aesthetics are no longer as prominent. I’ve accepted my body, my looks and what my Marc Jacobs purse can afford. Yet, if you’re in your twenties and you’re not furiously jealous of someone you know for one of the above reasons you need to sit in a darkened room and feel ashamed of yourself. Nobody in their twenties can possibly have the four Ps in equal measure. I have one out of four. I have a wonderful partner; I could name a few friends who are openly jealous of my 6’4 Essex man with his comedic personality and ability to make everyone feel at ease. Now I know there’s some hideous women out there who claim once you find your “life partner” everything is perfect, these women obviously have all the four Ps and then some. It’s strange that having one of the Ps – a partner – can make the fact I don’t have the other three so prominent, I feel a sense of unbalance and a lack of identity. Right now, I just feel like someone’s girlfriend. Despite being incredibly proud, I’m equally jealous of my friend’s fabulous professions, their annual pay which pays for rent in London, holidays and a fantastic wardrobe, and their property (some of which involve a mortgage!) If I was to put partner, property, pay and profession in an order of importance I think it would change on a daily basis. The four Ps (or lack of) will continue to define me if I let them, so I’ve decided to put my jealously aside and break the mould. These Ps will no longer define me; if I continue to let them I will keep having a nervous breakdown every time I see a friend’s Facebook status spurred by promotions, holidays and real estate. I know that one day I will land on my feet with a dream job, a house in the country, a pay packet that allows me to buy a Burberry trench and a partner that continues to put up with me. Failure of any of the Ps is not an option. I know it will happen, it’s just a question of when, so for now I’m going to enjoy the ride of life and stop focusing on the things I haven’t got and appreciate the journey and challenge of finding these things. I had to kiss many a frog before I found my perfect partner, so maybe I have to endure awful jobs, peanuts for pay and a leaking bedsit before I can happily have all four. 

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