Things from January

It's a good job I'm not a 'new year new start' kind of person – although admittedly I was pretty glad to see the back of 2016 – because let's face it, January has been tough. Both personally (which I talk about here) and also for the world (which you've undoubtedly not been able to miss). 

Fortunately there were some nice things too:

La La Land

I'm not usually into musicals, but I am usually into Emma Stone, so I figured I may as well give La La Land a watch. And I loved it. I loved it so much that I went to the cinema alone for the first time ever to watch it second time round, and I'm pretty sure I've had the soundtrack on repeat ever since. To me, it was the right kind of magical without being cheesy or unbelievable. Plus the music. Plus I really enjoyed spending the entire film almost crying because why don't I look like Emma Stone? Plus I may have bought myself as new watch on the basis that it 'reminds me of the planetarium scene'. No? I don't know either. One of the more off justifications I've used to purchase something.

OPOA

Work wise, we finished Issue 3 of One Piece of Advice alumni magazine. This issue's cover features the work of Liv & Dom, which I'd definitely recommend taking a look at! I chatted to Dan about curating the Bournemouth Fringe Festival, and found out what Kate keeps in her car boot

Pillow Talk

My / everyone's favourite lip liner, Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk, is now available in lipstick form. This is good news. That is all.

Ok?

"I wouldn't think twice about tweeting about how I'd been stuck in bed all day because of a cold, so why should I treat this any differently?"

I had a really nice day on Saturday. I'd woken up and put on an outfit that I really really liked and I had Wagamama for lunch and went to see La La Land (and admittedly cried) and was generally just in a very good mood.

Yet something that should perfectly normal behaviour, seemed oddly unnatural to me, because I couldn't remember the last time I'd felt so OK. It seemed that I'd forgotten what it feels like to go a whole day without some sort of feelings of anxiety or sadness creeping up on me, and I don't think I am OK anymore. 

I've always been an over-thinker, but towards the end of last year, my somewhat anxious thoughts seemed to spiral into full blown and far too often bouts of anxiety. I found myself on edge a lot of the time, worrying about things that, logically, I didn't need to be worrying about at all. It got really hard to concentrate on things and I managed to turn any minor niggle my brain may have had, into something ten times the size.

And then I got sad. Except I couldn't work out why I was sad. Because it was a different kind of sad to the sad I felt when something had happened to upset me, or I'd read a sad news story, or I hadn't quite got what I wanted (hello only child). It was the kind of sadness that didn't have a reason, and it didn't care that it didn't have a reason, because it was here to stay. I can only describe it as though someone had put a very heavy weight in my chest, so heavy that I couldn't pick it up to move it off.  It's not all of the time. Some days, the weight is lighter than others and I can look past it and get on with my day. Yet other days, and these other days usually come out of nowhere, it gets heavy again and I'm constantly on the verge of tears for no logical reason.

If you know me at all, you'll know that I like to have an answer for things. I like to be able to fix things and explain things and have a solution. But I couldn't with this. Because you can't fix something when you don't know what's causing it. 

It's not like I didn't try either. I tried doing things I enjoy to take my mind off it. But you see, I don't enjoy the things that are supposed to make me happy anymore. And that has to be saying something when the unopened ASOS/Topshop/H&M parcels in the hallway are of absolutely no interest to me.

I've been somewhat wary about sharing this, but I try to be as honest as possible, and I can't bring myself to write cheery posts about my month and the things I've been wearing, when this feeling actually consumes most of my time. Besides, I wouldn't think twice about tweeting about how I'd been stuck in bed all day because of a cold, so why should I treat this any differently?

And yes, I phoned the doctors and I have a triage appointment lined up, but whilst the NHS is fantastic it's also slow. So now all I have to do is wait, and that's really hard.

Things from 2016

I've been feeling kind of sad lately and, a week ago, I was adamant that I wasn't going to write about my year like I usually do. Having not had the best year, the last thing I wanted to do was dwell on Brexit, the multitude of heartbreaking situations around the world, and all the ways my year could have panned out for the better.

But I do like having things to look back on. So instead of analysing each week and month and season, I made a list of things that I did/saw/read/liked that were actually pretty good.

Things from 2016

So, you know, not all bad.

Confidence

confidence

noun

the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.

the telling of private matters or secrets with mutual trust.

A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities

I like to share my life on the internet. It's something I've been doing for over a decade in some form or another, and something that feels inherently normal to me. Yet I've been tying to write something along the lines of this since September, and I've found it near impossible to finish.

I feel like you can look at the idea of confidence in different ways. When it comes to my appearance, I think that I've come to the conclusion that maybe I'm alright, you know? I mean, there's still the days where I'd much rather swap faces with Lily Collins but, on the whole, alright, sometimes good. And I'm ok with that. What I really seem to struggle with is the confidence to do things and talk to people and generally exist outside of my 'comfort zone'. 

So back in October, I did something I never have the confidence to do. I hopped on a train, headed to Cambridge, and met the lovely Alex, who then proceeded to take photos of my without my clothes on.

When I saw that Alex was taking bookings for her confidence shoots again, I knew straight away that I wanted to do it. And then I doubted myself. Because what would other people think, and how would I explain it and why on earth would I want to take my clothes off in front of a total stranger? Yet I just have been feeling extra brave that day, because I went ahead and sent the email anyway.

Fast forward two months and I found myself at Kings Cross Station, waiting for a train and feeling understandably nervous. But as soon as a got off the train the other side, spied Alex waiting for me in her car, and had done the introductions, all my nerves started to peel away.

An hour or so later, and I was all done. And the weirdest part was that it wasn't weird at all. Yes, it's a slightly odd experience taking your clothes off in front of someone you've never met before. But I just wasn't nervous, and not being nervous is something I'm just not used to.

I felt a weird sense of accomplishment on the way home. You see, for me, the whole point of it was to do something entirely outside my comfort zone. And I had. I didn't change my mind at the last minute, I didn't worry about it for days leading up to it, and I didn't panic. I'd done it.

And whilst I may have come to terms with the way I look, which sounds a lot more begrudging than I mean it to, seeing the photos afterwards made me look at myself a little differently. Good differently. I may have even had a tiny cry.

Obviously it wasn't a quick fix to my confidence issues. I still hate public speaking, and picking up the phone, and meeting new people, and sharing my thoughts and ideas, and a whole myriad of other things. But I suppose, if I can do one seemingly scary things, I can do more of them, right? 

Right now, I've still only told two other people this story. I'm not very good at sharing things. So I suppose hitting publish on this is the last part of my 'doing something outside my comfort zone' and just going ahead and telling everyone. 

And actually, it feels really good. 

If anyone else is interested in doing something similar, I can't recommend Alex enough. Not only are her photos beautiful, she's absolutely lovely, and seems to have a way to make the experience totally normal: alexandracameron.co.uk

9th November 2016

On 23rd June 2016, after having already submitted my postal vote weeks before, I spent my evening making jokes about dogs at polling stations. Because yes, I was worried, but I went to bed with at least some confidence in the fact that the UK would most likely do the right thing. 

On 24th June I woke up, checked the news and promptly burst into tears. I was upset about the results, but I was also angry that hatred seemed to have won.

Last night, 8th November 2016, I made no jokes about dogs at polling stations (quite possibly because that's not a thing in the US) and instead had a very, very disturbed night's sleep.

On 9th November 2016, I woke up terrified to check the news. And then I did.

When I'd browsed the posts on #ElectionNight the previous evening, I'd been shocked to see young women the same age as me, proudly declaring their support for Trump. 

And I didn't understand. 

Because surely the overwhelming majority of so called millennial didn't want this? We're progressive and accepting and inclusive, right? Except I was wrong.

The thing is, when you surround yourself with those who share your values, it's easy to forget that not everyone does. Megan actually said this very well in under 140 characters today.

I'm sure I've read a version of what I'm about to say, put much more eloquently that I could, somewhere on the internet. But I can't find it, so here goes. Hatred and ignorance doesn't just come in the form of a 70-year-old business man turned wannabe politician turned President of the United States. It comes in the people that voted for this. The young women who, at a glance, I thought were just like me. The friends of friends who you see making racist jokes on Facebook. The distant relative who you can never quite bring yourself to start an argument with.

Six months ago, I'd seen more people post in favour of Remain than Leave. Six days ago, I'd seen more people for Clinton than for Trump. But here we are.

Racism and sexism and and bigotry is still a problem and, if we don't acknowledge this, how do we make it go away?