Category Archives: Life Thoughts

The Sun Has Got its Spring On

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I probably sound like a broken record because all I ever talk about is the weather and seasons and how they make me feel but HELLO SUN WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE. This winter has affected me more than ever, sad face, which means that the anticipation of sun has been stronger than ever. Now it finally seems that spring has graced us with its presence and with it has come a sprinkle of happiness. I’m happy, people on the streets of London are happy, the UK in general is happy because who can’t be happy when after months of being sun-deprived we get some light and a taste of the happy months to come. I’m wearing my spring coat for the first time this year and it feels damn great.
The appearance of sun isn’t the only reason for my happiness, but it’s linked. This weekend is Easter and so marks the end of boring dark cold winter, and the beginning of happy fun plans. It’s also the first lengthy period of time off work since Christmas, which was hello how long ago? Too long. Those mince pies and mulled wines are a distant memory and all that fills the gap between then and now is werk werk werk. I need break now pls. It also helps that I’ve got a city break and a two week holiday planned in the month after Easter. April is the month of dreams and it’s finally around the corner, hey hey tans and swims and happiness.
Life seems to be slotting into place for me, plans are afoot and with spring and summer comes change. Good change. I’m going to be leaving London for a while, and so on Monday I took the opportunity to give London a little bit of love. I have a lot of qualms with London and the way of life that it enforces in us, so I don’t often appreciate the great things about it. But this week I did. I walked and observed it’s pretty buildings and bridges and looked across views and drank the best hot chocolate of life at Gail’s Artisan Bakery. See, everything’s better when the sun comes out, I even love London (a lil bit).
It might seem silly to think that sun equals happiness, but for me I think that’s just the way it is. Yeah I still love life in its own way when the seasons aren’t in our favour but I don’t have the same continual happy outlook that spring brings. Spring basically means new life, and that’s what it is, for humans as well as for trees and flowers and the rest. So thank you March because everything is a little brighter and lighter and alive. And that means happy. Happy happy happy happy.

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Who Makes the Rules?

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I don’t generally worry about how other people perceive my life, or me as a person. It doesn’t bother me if people don’t think I’m making the right life choices because it’s not their life, it’s mine. However recently I was telling someone about all my plans for the future and they made a comment that really got under my skin. ‘When are you ever going to commit to a job? You’re too old to just leave your job and go away!’

I could have just laughed it off because lol I’m 25 and I’m not too old for anything (except maybe Oceana), but I didn’t. I was offended. It made me feel uncomfortable, like my outlook on life deemed me not good enough. Society expects us to leave university, get a career and stick with it. To progress in our chosen path, to never be jobless, to be safe and secure and predictable. I don’t know about you but to me  that whole idea seems rather old fashioned. Who makes the rules? Why should society or any person in it say what I can and can’t do with my life

I don’t have any responsibilities at the moment. I don’t have a house or kids or even my own pet, I’m not relied upon by anyone to provide anything. I don’t have a life ambition to reach a specific job by the time I’m 30, I don’t need to get started on a career path that requires 8 bazillion years of studying. I have lots of life ambitions, but going off and doing different things is going to help them, not take away from them. I don’t want to run away from life, I want to create it.

Life is about having a multitude of experiences, creating a portfolio career. So when you finally find your ideal job you have loads of relevant experience to draw on from different fields. Not ‘committing’ to a job might sound like a negative, but is it really negative when you’re actually committing to yourself? Committing to making your life the best it can be and going outside of your comfort zone, giving yourself the opportunities to achieve more.

I want to see the world. I want to immerse myself in as many cultures as possible, try on a different way of life for size and see how it fits. Meet people from backgrounds completely different to mine, work with them and exchange stories with them and befriend them. I want to wake up to a hundred different skylines, put my toes in every sea, eat every cuisine and all the cringe cliches under the sun.

All of that takes money, I know. So I’ll do what I can when I can and make the most out of what I have. I’ll find experiences that are more than just traveling and offer me a new way of life for a little while. Yeah maybe it might be a good idea to save for ‘the future and stuff’. But why? I don’t know what my future holds, so why do I need to save for it? What exactly am I saving for? We can always earn more money but we only live once. I live in the moment and always have done. At some point certain things will happen in my life and I’ll need to plan for the future and settle down and save. But not yet.

What is Life: A Wintry Reflection

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What is life? This is something I say to myself multiple times a day. Life is many things, it’s amazing, random, ridiculous and surprising. But the times I find myself saying ‘what is life’ are more often than not the times when I’m not happy with the situation I’m in. When I’m stressed at work, when I’m confused about the direction life is leading me, when I just don’t know what the hell is going on. We have a tendency to complain about anything and everything, especially when it’s cold and dark and there’s no sun shooting out happiness for us to cling on to. Winter drags us into a dark hole where everything seems like an effort, because all we really want to do is hibernate until the world gets a little bit brighter.

I’m a big life thinker at the best of times which means that winter instils in me even more of a contemplative mind. I overthink and overthink, I have emotional Sundays for no reason other than its Sunday. I make plans for the future then scrap them and make new plans then decide I want to run away chasing the sun then decide I want to stay at home forever. I come full circle every time I try and make some kind of decision about what I want to do with this thing called my LIFE. Life is hard, right?

But why does it only seem hard when the weather is getting us down? Maybe it’s just me but if it was sunny right now I would be seeing life through rose-tinted glasses, frolicking in that happy go lucky summer way and not worrying so much about life. What is it about winter that makes us question our purpose and direction? Life is more boring for one, there’s no festivals, no beer gardens after work, no holidays. Which obviously leads us to the search for something to add a bit of excitement. It’s also that new year thing, we feel the need to turn over a new leaf or do something crazy and radical because we have to make this year a year to remember. But mostly I think it’s the frustration that comes from the routine of working life. Nothing makes a day seem longer than when you wake up and it’s dark, you leave work and it’s dark. Unless you brave the cold and take a brisk lunchtime walk you might not see natural light all day. And that is just not okay. Something needs to be done about that.

Basically summer you need to hurry up. I don’t like wishing away time but if the sun doesn’t come back to me soon I’ll probably end up either refusing to leave my bed or taking a spontaneous flight to a land with more life. See ya London office, you just ain’t doing it for me right now. Obviously I’m not going to run away (yet) because I’m not completely mental (or rich), so what can we do to make this post-jolly season bearable? How do we stay optimistic in the depths of winter?

I know I put myself down earlier for making too many life plans, but actually organizing a trip can help because it gives you something concrete to look forward to. Exercise is apparently an obvious one but I can’t really recommend that because I am yet to get my fatarse off the sofa. HOW can you run when your nose freezes off, HOW? I went to the sauna does that count? What I will say is that yoga massively helps me. I know it sounds cliche and hipster-wannabe but whatevs, it’s the truth – half an hour of yoga at lunch and I’m ready to tackle the world, my stress is gone, I breathe more deeply and my body relaxes. Much needed for anyone who works at a desk cos that is NAAAT natural. Warm soups and hot pots and goodness at lunch is a definite yes, none of this salad nonsense. How are leaves and avocados going to keep you warm in your tummy? And just not dwelling on things I guess. Weather happens, life goes on and we can’t let horrible winter infiltrate our minds and emotions. THERE IS LIGHT ON THE OTHER SIDE. I think it’s time for an inspirational quote, from Dumbledore no less:

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

He so wise.

January: Dry Detox or Fun Time?

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Okay, so January is without a doubt the most depressing month ever. You’ve just had a jam packed month of fun, indulgence, drinking, food, family, friends, traditions and all things festive and exciting. Then all of a sudden – nothing. The festivities come to an end and you head back to work and it seems like there is nothing good to look forward to in life ever. It’s cold and miserable, it takes pretty much the whole month to adjust to 9-5 work every day instead of lay ins and all day sofa film binges, and it’s basically just dull.
Now, I understand why people would choose this month of hell to detox and be healthy and abstain from alcohol, I do. The amount we consume over the holidays and in the lead up to Christmas is ridiculous and obviously our bodies need a break from all that. But the other part of me is saying, why oh why are we choosing to make January worse than it already is? It’s bad enough that we’re having withdrawal symptoms from the activities Christmas and New Year bring, without sucking the fun out of the rest of the month too. Are we trying to force ourselves into a huddle of hibernation and sadness and boredom?

I personally do need to give my body a bit of time out from all the funs simply because my pre-Christmas period was SO mental. I don’t think there was one day where I wasn’t drunk. I went on spontaneous work nights out that went on til dawn so stayed at my friends house and continued being ridiculous for the whole of the next day at work. I ate unhealthy amounts of cheese, drank unhealthy amounts of wine and even reverted to a student mindset leading to spoons pitchers and the roxy. I probably spent 57% of my time at work laughing at videos of singing and lightsabers or destinys child photoshops or cringe voice messages. All in all it was an absolutely fantastic and hilarious couple of weeks but my goodness did my body hate me for it.

By the time Christmas arrived I was ready to sleep for eternity but then came the festive period and all the indulgence that brings with it. And of course it was fabulous. You simply cannot beat good old family time and Harry Potter games and walks and dinner parties. I managed some relaxation in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but then came the craziness of fancy dress, old school drinking games and 7am beer pong. And with that, the hangover to beat all hangovers.

So I get it. My body is begging me for sleep and green tea and kale and exercise and all the rest of it. January is an obvious time to tell yourself that you will be healthy and exercise, because what else are New Years resolutions for? But I think we actually do ourselves more harm than good by aiming for a COMPLETE life change. I am never going to go to the gym more than once a week, and I am never going to stop wanting to eat cakes. That’s just life. I can’t expect January to be any different just because it comes after a month of saying “yolo it’s Christmas”.
I do want to exercise more than I was (I’m sure I can improve on nothing), eat some healthy foods, and have a little break from our old friend alcohol. But I’m not going to make any bold claims like I’m giving up drinking FOREVER or I’m only eating smoothies or I’m running to work every day. No, nada, not going to happen. And I have plans for January that involve going out. Yes, yes I do. That might not be fitting with the ethos of dry January but I CANNOT bear the idea of a month of nothingness. Leaving the world of cosy homely goodness and reentering the commuting working world is bad enough in the midst of winter, without the thought of being sensible all month. Not being sensible is OKAY as long as it’s not a constant wildness. It’s called finding the balance, and it’s called life. Go with it. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Autumn Reflections & Resolutions

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October isn’t generally a standard time for making resolutions, cos, yknow, it’s not a new year. It can be a weird time of year because the beautifulness of summer is over, and yet we’re not quite allowed to get excited about Christmas (although I DEFINITELY am). There are lots of great things about autumn. Wrapping up in big furry coats, having an excuse to drive everywhere (lazy), speciality coffees ALL the time, nights in by the fire drinking red wine and watching X Factor… or something more sophisticated. The list goes on. But as great as it is, October is still an in between time that doesn’t have much of a purpose.

For me though, autumn always feels like the start of something new. I don’t know whether it’s all this crisp, fresh air and the hint of seasonal excitement, or just because I’ve never got out of the ‘back to school’ routine. To be honest, this is the first time I haven’t had a complete life change at this time of year. School, travels, uni, moving to Bristol, moving back to London, and now… staying in London. There’s no massive change occurring in my life and it’s a bit disconcerting. Like, I have no reason to buy new stationery and work clothes, what? I’m like a real person with a job that doesn’t centre around the school year. However, doesn’t mean I can’t use the start of the academic year as a reason to make some goals and motivational YOU CAN DO THIS life thoughts.

1. Be more active.

Autumn can be an excuse for us to get into a hibernating rut and hide under our duvets every night after work, but that’s never going to give us the gogetter attitude we need to do life. Exercise, even if it seems like the most horrible thing in the world, will always make you feel better and more alive in the long run. You can be active in a million different ways – a couple of weeks ago I went to a trampoline warehouse and did flips and played dodgeball and flung myself into foam pits, and it was absobloodylutely fantastic. It made me realise how desperately unfit I am, but I felt like a child in all the right ways and I want more of that now please.

2. Look after your body.

Listen to it. Know when it needs a fun night out, know when it needs healthy food and exercise, know when it needs indulgence and fun, and know when it just needs a day of rest.

3. Allow yourself indulgent days.

Enjoy the luxuries of life, and don’t feel bad about it. Give yourself a day off work with the aim of doing nothing, treat yourself and just spend time making yourself happy.

4. Gain skills and experience outside work.

It’s easy to think that once we’ve joined the big bad working world, that’s it, were set. We don’t need to search for work experience because that’s what work is. However you should never underestimate the importance of gaining new skills outside work, especially if you’re not sure what it is you want to do. Volunteer at a youth club, organise events, take online courses (there’s lots of free ones that are actually mega good, try Future Learn), start a new hobby, do anything! It will also give your life more variety and stop that whole ‘searching for newness’ thing.

5. Don’t let anyone influence the way you live your life.

The only person you have to make happy is you. You decide how you spend your time, and who you spend your time with. Make time for the people who uplift you rather than drag you down. You know who will always be there for you, who will prioritise you and have your best interests at heart, and who will never say no when you need to hang out/go out/chat shit. Surround yourself with those people always. Never take them for granted because they are your life.

6. Laugh more.

When’s the last time you laughed so hard you cried? Those moments in life are SO much more important than you realise, and they generally come when you’re with the aforementioned most important people in your life. The best times aren’t always filling your life with events and activities. They are being completely silly and laughing at yourself because ‘oh US, we are so hilarious’ until you have no idea what you’re even laughing at anymore.

7. Discover new places.

My friends and I have decided to try one new place per month, with the hope that we’ll find some that we love and can make into our regular haunts. There are soooo many great places in London that I hear about on the grapevine and instantly forget, so go to the same places time after time. That stops now. Our first one occurred recently and was quite a spontaneous choice but ended up being 100% GREAT. It’s called The Piano Works and it’s basically two pianos, some groovy (yes groovy is absolutely the word of choice here) singers and a backup jazz band who play any song you want. Just write it on their ultra cool napkins and give them a tip if you’re extra generous and REALLY need to hear this song. They also have de-licious cocktails in the manner of gin elderflower and prosecco combinations. Yum. Any more suggestions for new places to try please? Next on my list is The South London Soul Train in Peckham and Cahoots.

8. Appreciate your family.

Make time for them, treat them well, and don’t take them for granted. At the end of the day they’re the ones that will always be there to feed you good healthy foods and bail you out when you’ve spent all your money AGAIN (thanks guys). So make them feel appreciated, they deserve it.

9. Create more homemade foods.

Every now and then after an indulgent weekend I get this feeling like WOW I HAVE EATEN ALL THE FOODS IN THE WORLD WHAT IF I DIE FROM MAHOOSIVE BELLY. I love food ridiculous amounts, but eating out all the time can leave you feeling bloaty, gluttonous and empty in pockets. The feeling after a big hearty home cooked meal is so much more satisfying. Even if you’re the same amount of fullness, the fact that it’s been freshly made by YOU just has a better feel for your tummy and mind. I’ve attempted to go vegan for October (post on THAT palava to follow) so I’ve had to make lots of food at home, and being forced to do that has been nice. I now want to make the time to buy new foods and try new recipes at home at least semi regularly.

10. Read more inspirational quotes.

I love a good inspirational quote, mainly because I fully embrace the cringeness of them and basically allow them to influence my life choices. When I lived in Bristol doing the most boring job known to man, myself and a friend had a deal that we would send each other at least one quote a day. Of course this meant that I would spend 50-60% of my day scrolling through Pinterest quotes to find the perfect ones. Since having a job where I’m actually busy I’ve had less time to quote my life up, but the great Hannah Gale recently reminded me of the importance of a bit of inspiration. I’m now making it my mission to find one quote a day that’s relevant to my life, because we need a reminder that the petty worries we have aren’t what life’s all about, and there are greater things out there waiting for you. Let’s start off with a fave of mine:

“Take time to do what it is that makes your soul happy.”

Is too much career choice a bad thing?

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I love the fact that at our age there are so many options open to us. It’s not seen as weird or flakey to change career direction, it’s seen as building your portfolio of experience. We have so many transferable skills that we can pretty much try our hand at anything, bar things like medicine or architecture that take a million years of study. And I truly believe that we need to try lots of different options, to see what fits. How do you know if a career is the right one for you until you try it? Your dream job could be completely different to how you imagined it, and yet you could end up loving something you might never have considered. But when does this career trial period of life come to an end? Is there so much choice that we never feel fully satisfied in a job because we know there are always other options for us to explore?

I’m the kind of person who lives way too much in the future, constantly thinking about exciting trips and events and future life plans. I know I need to live more in the moment and enjoy the now, but I think it’s just embedded in my personality. And it’s for this reason that no matter what I’m doing or how much I enjoy it, part of my mind is always considering other opportunities. I imagine myself in so many other situations just to distract myself from the minutiae of everyday routine. I’ll actually walk past builders and think to myself, what if that was my life. I’ll look at everyone on the tube and try and guess what they do, and then imagine myself in their shoes. Obviously I don’t want to be a builder and I definitely couldn’t be even if I tried, but the idea of a totally new different life excites me, whatever it is.

What I’m really trying to escape is routine and repetition. As soon as I’m settled in a job and a way of life, my brain has become used to that routine and is no longer whirring with the newness of it. So it needs something else to focus on. And the thing is, whatever else I did, I would go through exactly the same process. Any change in job or life is exciting for the first few months, but eventually you always settle into a routine.

So what can we do as eternal ‘flitters’, the butterflies of the career world? How do we satisfy our need for change and excitement and novelty in our job choices? I do believe that eventually we will find a life routine that makes our souls happy. It’s probably not about routine being a bad thing, it’s about the routine that you are in. Or maybe it’s about finding a job that doesn’t limit you to a specific routine, that changes daily.

Routine isn’t all about the job or career you’ve chosen, either. Your life choices that take place outside of your career play a massive part too. I think we all need to realise that finding a job and a life you really enjoy takes time, and we shouldn’t just rush from job to job without allowing ourselves to actually settle into anything. Satisfaction comes from getting really good at something, learning new things everyday, and becoming comfortable and familiar with your role and your organisation. Too quickly our mind travels to the idea of a complete life change, as soon as we get slightly bored of what we have now. Change is exhausting as well as exciting, and constantly looking for new and different things to do with our lives can’t be healthy for our minds. Allowing ourselves to enjoy the here and now will have a massive impact on our happiness and energy.

Of course, there is a definite possibility that the job you do is completely unsuited to you, and in that case you’re allowed to consider other options. But I also believe that when the time is right, opportunities will come to you. You might love the place you work but hate your role, in which case instead of flying to the other side of the world you could explore options and experiences within that organisation. You might have a hobby or skill which you never realised could actually be turned into a career. You might need to go back to studying in order to get your dream job, and that’s okay. Or you might need to take some time out of the career world to travel or volunteer in order to realise what your life calling is, and that’s okay too.

This might be a bit of a tangent and is probably a whole separate discussion, but I think the strain of living and working in London has a big influence on our wellbeing. We probably blame our jobs for our frustration with life and daily routine, but the truth is, London life is draining. We see all the opportunities for fun that London offers but we never have time to make the most of them because we’re not on holiday, we’re living a life. We feel a constant need to keep up with the hustle and bustle of London busybodies, so we’ll attempt to rent a fun flat and do fun things because YOLO but then AHH how am I ever going to buy a house and be a grown up. And then even when we find a place, no one in their twenties can afford to live as central as they would like, so we add 1-2 hours to our working day just travelling on hot sweaty tubes. Naaada fun.

This was not meant to be a rant about London, because I love it and it’s great and all. But I think we too often search for a new career because something about life isn’t satisfying us, and we don’t consider other factors. We could move from job to job within London, or any city, without finding something that sticks. Maybe we should be looking outside the box of life that we sit in and the circles we move in. Maybe we shouldn’t be afraid to take a leap and step out of our comfort zone.

Only you know what makes you happy, whether that’s the career you’re in, or the career you want, or something else entirely. All I know is constantly searching for something when you’re not sure of what probably isn’t going to lead you anywhere. We need to learn to enjoy where we are in our lives at the moment, but not be scared to embrace opportunities. Because before you know it everything will be changing and we’ll be oldies settling down, and that is scary as HELL.

Reflections on Transitioning from Student to Working Woman

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Recently my sister moved back into the family home for her first taste of the London working world. In the lead up to the start of her job I didn’t have much hope for a smooth transition; like most students she slept for a vast proportion of the day, watched copious amounts of Netflix and did uni work late into the night. She’s actually coped rather magnificently and is usually awake and perky far earlier than me (which makes me question my ability to function as an actual human being before 9am). But nevertheless the change in her lifestyle made me think about my experience of leaving the student life and entering the big bad world of work.

I loved my university years a ridiculous amount, and this was a lot to do with being in the amazing city that is Bristol. Myself and my housemates enjoyed student living to the max, all the way through to the end of third year. We would go out 2-3 times a week, maybe more, have house parties and dinner parties and any-excuse-for-a-party parties, and spend our days in bed or on the sofa interspersed with small amounts of work here and there. It was great. We literally had the most amount of free time you ever have in your life, with only 2 hours of contact time a week in final year. Of course those 40 hours were meant to be used for independent study and revision and stuffs, but what’s a student to do when there’s daytime TV to watch and summery activities to enjoy..? (I did do some work at uni, promise).

As much as I made the most of being a student and appreciated the freedom, by the time I graduated I was ready for work. I was ready to get a regular paycheck and be a smart working woman in the city and actually do something with my life. However my transition was not smooth. I bummed around as a waitress for a couple of months before getting an office job in Bristol, but even after I started my proper adult job I found it hard to grow out of student habits and routines. I still thought midweek student nights out and drunken dinner parties were appropriate and turning up to work hungover was a standard thing. I didn’t fully commit to my life in Bristol because I came home to London most weekends so I constantly felt in between and never settled.

As time moved on I gradually cut down the student behaviour (a tricky business when living with students), but I realised that I hated my job so I still didn’t completely immerse myself in the working world I was a part of. I was always distracted by other parts of life and looking for new opportunities. A summer of volunteering and a temporary receptionist role later, I’m actually settled in a job and a career and although I live with my parents I feel like I’ve fully transitioned, and this is my life. Seeing my sister transition into work so well impresses me, and makes me wonder if I would have progressed more with life if I’d let go of the student life.

I miss lots of things about student life. I miss living with my friends and having all the time in the world to gossip and be creative with cooking and house decor and spotify playlists. I miss having the energy to go out for 5 nights on the trot, and the community feeling you got at student clubs when you said hi to 38 people you vaguely knew from some society or house party. But I wouldn’t go back now. Looking back at uni life I see a lot of fun but also a lot of wasted time. Part of me salutes my student self for being a slob for the time of life when it was possible, but part of me wishes that I had used that time to be productive in a way you never have time for once you work full time. I would love to be able to fit new opportunities and creative outlets around work and social events but life just doesn’t allow for that.

University should be something that we reflect on with fondness for the memories we created and the friendships we made helping each other vomit (or you know, the normal way). We may wish for that time and that freedom now, but in reality it wouldn’t make us happy. Doing a job we enjoy and getting the perfect work-life balance is what should make us happy now. Being professional working women with careers should make us happy. Who wants to be a student and eat pasta pesto every day? To celebrate my sister starting her career we went out for lobster. I may not be able to afford my phone bill or new shampoo, but who cares. We are strong independent working women and we can go out and eat lobster if we damn well feel like it. That’s what transitioning into the world of work is.

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