an unedited diary entry:
I’ve just finished reading a memoir. Specifically, Robert Webb’s ‘How Not to be a Boy’, though I don’t suppose that matters. I am about to turn 25 in, oh, three minutes. Technically. Although I am mid-way through a flight to New York so I’m not entirely sure what time zone I’m in and what counts as my birthday.
I digress. I am alone in every sense of the word. I am physically alone (even the annoying woman I was seated next to for take-off has moved), and I am single. I am twenty-five (exactly, it’s midnight now) and single.
And I’ve just read a memoir, which has me thinking, amongst other things, what the bloody hell I would write in a memoir at this point. The vast majority of Robert Webb’s book takes place over the course of his childhood, teens, and university years, though it is fair to say that it could not have been written without the perspective he has seemingly gained with age and experience. Nonetheless, should I have a book’s worth of Life by now?
It might be more pertinent to write this on waking up tomorrow morning, properly 25, but tomorrow morning I won’t have another three hours left to kill on a plane. I have been answering the question ‘how old are you’ with ’25’ or ’25, well, nearly’ or some variation of that for the entirety of September, but hadn’t given much thought to what, if anything that number means to me or anyone else. 25 both does and does not ‘seem that old’ to me. Most of my friends are older than I am by years, but also twenty-five is the oldest I’ve ever been.
I am often, I think, self-conscious about age because of my older friends and the fact that whatever I say about 25, they have already felt it. They’ve been there, done that, got the badge, blown out the candles, etc. I also feel self-conscious because I know that at the end of the day a person’s age means largely nothing, besides a vague (but sometimes inaccurate) indicator of the amount of Life Experience they have.
As I write now I remember Millie telling me that 25 was the birthday that she had an age-related breakdown about. I have, when talking about my upcoming 25th, been saying to friends and acquaintances that 25 feels scary because I can no longer be good at something ‘for my age’. Unless I become Prime Minister, or something. In my field, however, people are achieving YOUNG as hell; as far as blogging or ~influencing goes, I am ancient.
So I suppose 25 is bringing with it a sort of identity crisis, but one I can see very clearly, almost like an out of body experience. Maybe all that therapy (and time left alone to think on solo flights) is paying off, ha.
Is it interesting that one of the first things I wrote was ’25 and single’, because I have not given any thought to that as a concept til now. I don’t mind being single, I quite like it a lot of the time, actually, and I have no real desire to settle down yet. But I do know that buried in my head like a fucking tick is the idea that my parents, who are still together, met when they were around my age, and that everyone around me seems to be getting engaged or married (well, both most of the time). Though my rational brain is fighting with all its might the idea that new lover = potential life partner, that is sometimes quite a hard fight.
I’ve had a few weeks to settle into 25 and ultimately it doesn’t feel much different. Being a September baby and thus having my birthday coincide with what was once the start of the school year, I subconsciously or sometimes consciously find myself making premature new year’s resolutions on entering each new year of my life. This year: read and write more; do something for work other than run this blog (more on that later, perhaps); trust myself; talk about how I feel with everyone I have any kind of friendship or relationship with, but also get better at keeping my cards to my chest when necessary. Be less naive and stop expecting the best from people.
Stop expecting the best from people. This could be viewed as a step backwards into pessimism, but instead I think that applying my brand of cynicism to people I meet and even people I know already, rather than just strangers and intangible things, will stand me in better stead to meet and hold on to the genuinely good ones. I trust too much. It isn’t about coldness, it is actually maybe even about being nicer and kinder, but warier.
25 and single. Being single is invaluable for personal growth, I think. It gives you time to reflect not just on past relationships, but also on yourself as a being outside the context of someone else. I don’t think I change drastically from relationship to relationship (save for the added trauma here and there lol!) but I think I become better at being myself, and being there for myself, when I don’t have one person to depend on to be there for me.
I won’t be donning a purity ring for my 25th year, but I don’t want to be in a relationship because it seems more comfortable than the alternative, and I don’t want to be in a relationship because I quite like them and they’ve asked me twice and I’m scared of saying no. I’m going to be there for myself first.
photos by Zac Mahrouche, from my birthday do (which he attended as a pal I didn’t just make him come and take photos of me bowling I promise)
Au revoir l’obscurité: goodbye darkness. I don’t tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, but rather on my t-shirt (and on my twitter feed, ehem). Perhaps I am just caught up in the high of good weather, festivals and football, but tentatively I really do feel like I have said goodbye to the ‘darkness’ and profound sadness that recent months has brought me.
To put it plainly, I am buzzing.
These slim flared trousers were inspired by a man I saw on the overground wearing a similar pair with cowboy boots and long hair (if you’re reading this……. hmu) and I am a big fan of the 70s Mick and Bianca Jagger vibe. I paired them with a knotted t-shirt and round sunglasses in the hope of tricking people into thinking I’m cool.
photos by Georgia
It’s 2018, we’re all in debt, we all have to work til we’re 90 and will never own a house, and Donald Trump is the President of the United States. We. Are. All. Stressed. Stress can cause a plethora of problems; the most affecting of these for me personally is that if I let stress build up my general mental health suffers quite dramatically.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Some people thrive on stress, others collapse. I am somewhere in the middle – I like to be busy, but I am easily overwhelmed. Stress management is, therefore, key. I find it really difficult to notice when my stress is getting ‘too much’, and I also find it difficult to take time to properly relax. Things pile on top of each other very quickly, and before you know it the small things become unmanageable.
In my years of managing the relationship between stress and mental health, I have found that the best way to keep on top of it is by noticing other symptoms. My sleep is one of the first things to suffer; I either cannot get to sleep, cannot wake up, or both. Quality of sleep is a tangible symptom of feeling stressed, which is less tangible and therefore harder to control and keep on top of. It is easier for me to notice that I am sleeping too much, too little, or badly than it is for me to notice that I am feeling too stressed or overwhelmed. Noticing the quality of my sleep and then taking steps to try to improve it in itself helps me to feel less stressed, and more able to tackle whatever tasks I have. I allow myself a lie in if I have been struggling to sleep, or force myself to set a slightly earlier alarm each day if I have been struggling to wake up, and I got myself a good mattress and some decent pillows. No screens in bed is wishful thinking so I set myself the realistic goal of trying to stay off my phone and watching an episode of something nice before I sleep instead.
NB: I do not suffer with insomnia, and so my thoughts on stress and sleep unfortunately cannot take this into account. If issues with your sleep are persistent and affecting your daily life, you should speak to your GP.
Tempur will be donating £10 to The Mental Health Foundation for every mattress sold throughout May this year. This post is sponsored by Tempur, all thoughts and words are entirely my own.
A huge part of my job is tied up with social media. I post every day, and spend hours scrolling through feeds full of friends, other bloggers, celebrities, and everything in between. I ‘have’ to do this, but the chances are that if this wasn’t my job I would still have similar habits, as I always have. To an extent I could probably be considered a ‘social media addict’, whatever that means.
I also have pretty poor mental health. In my case my poor mental health has been in no way caused by my social media use or presence but, in the same way that other areas of life do, it must affect and inform it. I am certain that social media and its omnipresence, while it can be a force for so much good, can also take a real toll on our collective mental wellbeing. There are many levels and nuances to this discussion that I could not even begin to cover in this post, especially when it comes to issues relating to fat-phobia, homophobia, transphobia, white-washing and racism – things that I am privileged enough not to have to experience directly, online or otherwise. But overarching all of that, affecting potentially anyone who uses any form of social media, is the curse of comparison.
At a talk I attended recently, when the subject of social media and mental health was broached author and model Juno Dawson said that she finds herself scrolling through Instagram and comparing herself to trans models, like herself, in particular. Instagram has done a world of good for diversity but we are still falling foul of comparing ourselves, consciously or otherwise, to people who we perceive to be like us but in some way better.
I love following slightly ‘aspirational’ people, bloggers in particular. Most of the time it drives me and inspires me to better myself and my content. But every now and again it gets me down, and if comparing yourself to others makes you feel bad, then that can negatively impact your mental health. So often a discussion of social media and mental health boils down to the message that you should not compare your life to the lives portrayed by the people you follow on Instagram. But what happens when you start comparing simply your own Instagram account with someone else’s, or you own writing with someone else’s? And what happens when you are making your entire living off the representation of yourself online?
The problem for me here is twofold: firstly it is quite difficult to get away from comparing yourself to other bloggers. It is something that I would imagine almost all of us struggle with every now and again, especially when experiencing periods of bad mental health for other reasons. Secondly, while I try to act honestly and with a degree of integrity in everything I do, it is sometimes hard to reconcile the idea that I am living off my online image with the fact that I might be contributing to the problem of unrealistic representation on social media. Potentially I am both a victim and a perpetrator.
A cute photo I post with my boyfriend doesn’t show the fact that our relationship can sometimes be challenging, I don’t live blog my therapy sessions on Instagram stories, and some of the hardest times in my life are documented on my social media profiles not with total honesty but with outfit photos.
This dress reminds me that I spent a day shooting beautiful photos in Kew Gardens but running off to vomit every half hour because of the state of anxiety and shock I was in.
This selfie reminds me that I spent that afternoon crying in a park.
I distinctly remember making this photo black and white to hide the red blotchiness of my face, and changing my top only to get straight back into my pyjamas for the rest of the day.
So yes, we all know that an Instagram account is not an accurate representation of the entirety of its owner’s life, but looking after your mental health while online is a much more complex than just that.
To an extent there is pressure on us all make our lives look good online; as a full-time blogger whose livelihood depends on my online life, that pressure is increased dramatically. I ‘must’ curate my Instagram feed to be equal parts perfect, aspirational and relatable; I ‘must’ also not allow my Instagram feed to appear too curated; etc. A lot of my own mental health issues are tied up in a difficulty in accepting failure or fault, so these pressures can often exacerbate my existing problems.
Self-care needs to extend to online. You should seek out and fill your feeds with people who make you feel good on the internet, just as you should in real life, and shun those who make you feel bad, be that because of how they speak to you or simply how the way they portray their life makes you feel. Take some time away from social media if you are having a tough week, mute somebody whose tweets you find exhausting or triggering, block a toxic ex. If a blogger makes you feel more negative than positive, just unfollow them. It isn’t that big a deal, I promise.
During my Australian adventure my friends and I took a two day ‘road trip’ down the Great Ocean Road. We stayed overnight in sleepy Apollo Bay, visited the Twelve Apostles (underwhelming to be honest) and stopped off at some beaches along the way. I am not much of a video person, as you may know, but I hope that one day when I am old and boring (and missing my pals who will have no doubt stay in Australia forever because it is warm and lovely) I will be able to fondly look back on this montage and remember how lovely it was.
This year I joined a gym for the first time. Aside from a few classes that Millie had somehow talked me into, I had never set foot in a gym in my life and found the prospect really quite daunting. But a short induction, a lot of questions to friends who exercise, and most of all just giving it a go soon helped me overcome my gym related anxieties. I’m now a few months into my membership and I have finally started to get a little bit fitter than I was, and lo and behold I feel a lot better for it, almost as if everybody was actually right about the benefits of exercise.
Winter and the painfully cold weather we are having at the moment has brought with it a new obstacle on my fitness journey, though. Why would I exercise when I can sit on the sofa under a blanket with a hot chocolate instead? Getting out of the house – whether that is to go to the gym or just for a walk or a jog – becomes a challenge in itself when the temperature drops, so I have turned to Nike’s winter-wear to help me overcome it. The opportunity to wear good clothes is a great motivator for me, so whether I pull on this extremely bougie deep burgundy velour tracksuit and lightweight but super warm puffer over my gym gear or just take it for a walk around the park, it is playing a part in getting me off my arse. I completed my outfit with these mahogany coloured Air Max 97 Ultras 17s; a near perfect colour match for the tracksuit and a pair of trainers that I’ll be taking out for a spin with everything from wide leg trousers to dresses and shorts in the summer.
photos by Zac Mahrouche
*this post is sponsored by Nike*
Living in a large city with so much going on is a blessing and a curse. Central London is home to pretty much any shop you could ever want to visit, as well as the best restaurants, theatres, galleries and sights, so it is easy to forget that some of the loveliest parts of the city are hidden around the edges.
One of my favourite days of this year involved hopping on a quick train to Crystal Palace Park to see the hilarious misshapen dinosaur statues. South London boasts some of the nicest parks and best views of the skyline, Greenwich market is a cute day out and a great place to take visiting parents, and there’s Kew Gardens out in Richmond (about half an hour out of central London) which are lovely all year round. And all that without the draining (and usually expensive) experience of being in the vicinity of Oxford Street.
A short walk along the Thames Path from Greenwich leads to rugged little beaches like this one – the Thames is as far from white sand and clear waters as you can get and we definitely saw some MASSIVE EELS bobbing around in the water on this day, but it still makes for something interesting and different to do in London. Being here to shoot with Jordan has very much inspired me to explore more little corners of this vast place – do you have any favourite hidden London spots?
A little over two years ago I moved to London from Manchester. I also moved from a lovely little one bedroom flat in the city centre, with double height ceilings, wooden floors, big sash windows, space to keep my stuff and a nice landlord, to a basic bedroom in a two bed with no living room and a tiny kitchen, sad magnolia walls and ambiguous coloured carpets, incompetent estate agents and, at various stages, a mouse problem and a mould problem.
Environment is so crucial when it comes to wellbeing. My first year in London wasn’t easy and I’m quite sure my miserable bedroom only perpetuated that. No matter how hard I tried I could not make it look any better without throwing out half of my things, so eventually I gave up completely.
The nature of this job combined with my lifelong hatred of throwing anything away ‘in case I need it’ means that I have a lot of stuff, and so squeezing everything I had accumulated in an entire flat into my one room with no built in storage was impossible. I lived for a year and a half with a large cardboard box full of jumpers in front of my bookcase because I had nowhere else to put them, a minuscule floor space that got smaller and smaller as the years went on, and with no living room to escape from my mess into. I had nice bedding and a few plants on my windowsill, but besides that buying cute homeware did not make me feel better because I had nowhere to put it. My bedroom looked worse than my much smaller bedroom had in student halls, and I felt overwhelmingly that I had regressed.
this post is sponsored by Primark
Back in the summer came my time came to move out as my flatmate and friend abandoned me to move to Australia. I can’t afford to live alone here and searching for somewhere to in London is The Absolute Worst, but after a great deal of stress I finally found a room in an area I love, sharing with two great girls. There are original fireplaces and sash windows in every room, I have wooden floors in mine, there is even some built in storage and I finally have a LIVING ROOM!
A fresh start and a nicer ‘shell’ was the kick up the bum I needed to sort my home out. I slowly but surely got rid of more clothes, I asked for a nice storage trunk for my birthday and felt like a grown up, I bought things like prints and picture frames and clothes racks, and I made sure that everything I owned had somewhere to go.
Cactus – IKEA
Dinosaur – an arcade!
Faux sheepskin rug – La Redoute*
Black and white throw – Primark*
Grey jersey sheets – Muji (similar available in Primark)
Cushions – Primark*
Once I had sorted out my storage and big furniture, I could finally start accessorising. I have collected a variety of cute throws and rugs and ornaments that serve no purpose other than looking pretty and making me feel better. Primark homeware is perfect for finishing touches: sweet looking ‘faux’ plants that you can’t kill, bright fairy lights, lovely affordable bedding, cushions and throws, and loads and loads of candles.
My house isn’t particularly large or grand and by London standards it is fairly inexpensive, and I won’t lie and say it is always (or ever) as tidy as it looks in these photos. But it feels so good to finally have a space I am proud of again, and a place that I will be sad to move out of not just because I hate moving. Until then, I’m going to carry on making this house a home.
Heart lamp – Urban Outfitters (sold out, but make your own)
Candle – Primark*
Fairy lights – Primark*
White bedding – IKEA
Pink jersey bedding – Primark*
Knitted throw – H&M*
Mustard throw – Primark*
Mustard velvet cushions – Primark*
Hot water bottle – Primark*
Pusheen mug – Truffle Shuffle*
Cactus vase – La Redoute*
Fake leaves – Tiger
Fake succulents – Primark*
Flowers – Bloom & Wild*
Plant in black pot – Geofleur*
Plant in silver pot – IKEA
Splatter jug – gift
Marble jug – Primark*
Light box – Primark*
Hands bowl – Tiger
I’m not much of an exerciser. I break out in a sweat just standing still, I once took an actual nap in a PE lesson (again, really sorry to that poor student teacher), and I’m not even sure if ‘exerciser’ is a word. But last week, after years of ‘thinking about it’, I joined the gym. So, to ensure my fitness journey improves or at the very least continues to exist, I am extremely here for anything and everything that makes exercise or the idea of exercise fun and/or easier.
An invitation to check out the adidas Speedfactory could not, therefore, have come at a more perfect time. The Speedfactory is a portable factory, cleverly designed and built inside shipping containers. The whole operation can be packed up and transported from country to country. I popped along to see what it was all about down in Shoreditch.
The main purpose of the Speedfactory is to collect data and ‘co-create’ with its customers, which it does via various scanning stations. The face scan is just a bit of fun (but you will get a cool gif), the foot scan measures your feet precisely, and finally the test run allows adidas to learn about how you run, and feed it back to you instantly by simply scanning a code on your phone. Smart.
The adidas ‘Made For’ trainer, or AM4, is the first project of the Speedfactory. The AM4 LDN, which has proved insanely popular already (currently sold out online), is the product of consultation with a group of commuter runners from London, designed to meet the specific demands of the city.
In the future, Speedfactory plans to allow adidas to connect directly to each consumer to enable ‘ultimate tailoring’. I will be keeping my eye on what the Speedfactory creates next!
this post is sponsored by adidas
Photos by Tom Connick