18 December 2013

What 2013 has taught me

Hi guys. It's been a while, I know. I've been settling in to life in NW2 and constantly messing things up too quickly, and then taking too long to fix them. It hasn't left much time to sit down and write (which I've actually really missed).

Now, I know that 2013 isn't over yet, but with work wrapping up for the year, and many things coming to an end (it was my line manager's last day before maternity leave today, and loads of lovely temps are finishing up their contracts on Friday) there is a weird sense of finality in the air. Another chapter is ending, and another is beginning.

So with this in mind, I have begun to reflect. Unlike last year, I don't feel too nostalgic. This year's been tricky, with lots of hard lessons to learn, various issues to deal with, and lots of occasions where I've just been looking forward to the future. "Tomorrow's another day" doesn't seem like the nicest mantra to live by (and I've been using this a lot for motivation)... Maybe it's just been a case of unlucky '13 for me, who knows?

Here are the things I've achieved in 2013:

1. Landed a 2:1 in English Literature from the University of York
2. Proven that I am officially the worst at pub golf (with a rather cringey forfeit)
3. Worked at Red Bull Racing
4. Been hired as a PR intern for The Body Shop
5. Moved to London
6. Survived my first Fashion Week
7. Managed to not embarrass myself at the work Christmas party
8. Moved into a flat, paid for with my own money

But all my achievements (excluding number 2) have been down to a lot of hard work. And the bad news is, the hard work doesn't stop.

At university, there was a sense of consistency and stability. Outside of this self-contained bubble, change is an inevitable part of life, and there's no avoiding it. It's a case of adapt or be wiped out, sink or swim, dog eat dog (insert cliché of your choice). There's no time to get comfortable... In fact, there's no time at all! I got home today and realised I was taking really short breaths and had to remind myself that could actually breathe slooooowly. Which makes me sounds a bit bonkers, but as I reminded my colleagues at work today, "All the best people are."

Taking the post back to the actual title ("ABOUT BLOODY TIME!" I hear you say, if you've actually made it this far) here's a non-comprehensive list of what I've learned this year:

1. If you must work hard, play hard too, or you WILL go stir crazy
2. Taking responsibility for your failings is embarrassing, but it's all part of growing as a person
3. Drunk texting is never EVER a good idea. EVER.
4. London is a great place to live, as long as you can tolerate smelly/greasy/rude people every now and then
5. Something that matters now will mean next-to-nothing sooner than you think (and this can be a good thing).
6. Nothing is ever black or white
7. A bad day, week, or even a few weeks, does not mean you have a bad life
8. Sleeping does not qualify as relaxation
9. Everyone is guilty of making a bit of drama to keep things interesting
10. Awkward situations are inevitable
11. Weekends are a gift
12. Pizza fixes everything
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24 November 2013

Blood, sweat and tears, or "Sofie moves out"

At the beginning of this week, I said "If I can get through this week, I can get through anything." Now, on Sunday night, I can happily breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that yes, I DID IT.

This is what went down: 

Wrapping three digits worth of advent calendars
Creating a portfolio for...
A graduate scheme interview
My mid-year appraisal
A weekend in the midlands with my university friends including a very late night out
Packing for...
Moving to North West London. Today.

This time last week I had to remind myself that a week was only 7 days, and I could totally handle it. Maybe.

Panic.

The good news about the mass of advent calendars I sent out is I can now wrap things pretty darn well, ready for the festive season. The bad news: there were a LOT of advent calendars. I was so happy when I finished wrapping that I did a little jig in front of the post room guys. I think this just confirmed their suspicions of me as a mad lady, but I was too happy to care.

Creating my portfolio was stressful, but also a nice little boost. There's nothing like putting together a presentation about what you've achieved and giving yourself time to digest that these things are all yours, and I did actually deserve a pat on the back for my efforts up to this point.

My graduate scheme interview was a bit of a mess, since I'd misunderstood the meaning of "marketing communications" (thinking this would be similar to what I'm doing now) and after babbling about PR and how much I like working in the beauty industry, they interrupted with "So what makes you think you fit with *insert name of company* and advertising in particular? To which I may have replied something like "Um... Why not?" Oops. It also didn't help that my answer to "What was the last film you saw recently?" was "Monsters University" and it WASN'T, it was "Le Weekend", which would have made me sound so much more cultured. Sigh.

My mid-year appraisal was okay and went a lot better than I thought it would! Always a relief.

I was finally able to let off some steam with friends at the weekend and it was so so nice to see them. Especially as I hadn't seen one of them since graduation, which is now over 4 months ago. Someone please tell me where the time's going? Because I honestly don't know. It really was great to catch up with them and have a good old natter about anything and everything.

Unfortunately, I had next to no sleep last night because I was panicking so much about today, even though i'd been very good and completed most of my packing before I left for the weekend. Moving really is one of THE most stressful things. To make matters worse, my hungover/shattered state was pushed to the limit when my stepdad managed to cut open his forehead whilst loading my bits into the car. Disaster! I just heard a call of "Sofie, come here quickly" and was met with a bloodied father. It pushed me over the edge. I just started sobbing and clumsily trying to put ice into a bag rather than into a glass, THEN putting it into a bag.

I don't deal well under pressure, especially when tired, groggy, stressed, and witness to a bloodied mess of a father.

Did he have concussion? Was he able to drive? Did he need to go to A&E? Where was the nearest walk in centre?

Luckily, he was okay (just a bit sore) and we moved my mountain of rubbish into my new flat.

Phew. It's been quite the week.

So, what does this week have in store? Despite being busy, I'm hoping it will be more fun than stressful, thank goodness. I'm catching up with friends for post-work drinks, seeing Catching Fire (I. AM. SO. EXCITED. *squeals*), getting made over for our work Christmas party, and taking the following day off to recover and prepare for a weekend of excitement (I hope it's exciting, anyway!).

I might take a picture of my new room when I've got it looking all pretty. Not that I think anyone will care that much, but because I am very very happy with it. And I have a double bed again! The space is such a novelty...

Anyway, I'm starting to become a tad hysterical due to a lack of sleep/too much excitement, so I think we'll leave it there, shall we?

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10 November 2013

Never look back, never give up

A slightly more optimistic blog this time (not hard, I know) with the title inspired by Haim, who along with Chvrches, Lorde, London Grammar and Daughter, I can't stop listening to at the moment. The lyrics are a nice little mantra to (try) and live by.

I've been even busier than normal the last few weeks. I've seen Daughter in concert (they were AMAZING and she even made me momentarily consider cutting all my hair off and getting a fringe again), gone to my first football match, and helped my co-workers to launch Christmas at our blogger event last Thursday.

The theme for the event was SCHOOL, because the company's initiative for Christmas is to build 5 schools in CFT communities from consumers buying product. It's such a lovely idea and I'm pretty sure the bloggers enjoyed themselves. I myself was on a sugar high from our make-shift tuck shop and the glasses of prosecco I consumed, so I may have been a little biased... But hey, I like to think I deserved a treat after getting tape burn from duct-taping 34 boxes of product up! It was a fun night, and the venue looked fab.

                                  
                                  
                                  
                                  
                                  

In other news, I attempted to go out with friends on Friday, but it kind of failed... And when I say failed, I mean it took 2 hours to get someplace that was meant to take 15 minutes, we didn't actually go to a club, and I ended up terrorising late-night pedestrians (this sounds like a euphemism for prostitutes, but it's not) by wailing "Mirrors" by good old JT at them whilst my lovely and fiery friend tried to convince us that the taxi driver wasn't legit. It was quite the experience, and I guess a night that ends in "New Girl" isn't the worst night, right?

The next few weeks are going to continue to be hectic. I have a personal project I'm working on (watch this space!), grad schemes to apply for, birthday presents to plan and party outfits to sort... But things could be worse.

Have a good week, everyone :)
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20 October 2013

Tumblr: my toxic frenemy

First things first - I'd like to thank Chelsea Birkby, my oldest friend, and one of my best friends in the world. If it wasn't for her, this post wouldn't be happening. And for that, I owe her a lot. Firstly, because without her I'd still be stuck in a toxic cycle, and secondly, for making me feel a whole lot better about everything. She has inspired this post. So Chelsea, this one's for you (and for Katie, who kindly said "You're fit babes, don't worry about it")...

Lately, I've been on a downward spiral. Initially it started with self-doubt, which I blamed on starting a new job, and the uncertainty and anxiety that comes with new ventures. But then I started to dislike myself, dislike how I looked, dislike my size, my hair... just about everything. I mean, it started to veer on self-loathing.

Only now do I realise that this is bad, and it needs to stop.

And if my job wasn't to blame, what was? The simple answer: Tumblr.

Now, for those who aren't familiar with Tumblr, it's a social platform like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, but it's different in that its main focus is photography (although you can share links, videos, quotes, text, and more).

At first, Tumblr was a bit of a novelty to me. It was a place to share things that I couldn't on Twitter. You know the drill: things you wouldn't post on Facebook, you tend to post on Twitter... And Tumblr was a place I could post things that I felt were too angsty for Twitter. 

It was a place I could rant, complain, moan about anything I wanted, and no one would say anything.

Which was liberating for a while, but then kind of sad, when you think about it. Can you imagine a place where people speak about things that bother them, and they disappear into the internet, with no one to console them? Well, that's Tumblr.

But it gets worse. Because Tumblr is more than that, worse than that. Not only does it allow a place for people to complain, but it allows for people to indulge in sadness. Almost until indulging becomes normal, and expected.

My "dashboard" (the equivalent of a facebook wall, or a twitter feed) was full of quotes and photography reblogged by people saying things like "When will things get better?", "I wonder if anyone knows how lonely I am", "It's 1am and all I can think about is you, and where things went wrong", "It sucks to be the ugly, fat and boring friend"... and so on. These posts have notes (likes & shares) in the 6 figure range. It's not right. And when you see things like this all the time - I'm guilty of scrolling through my dashboard first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening - it starts to affect you. And in my case, I found myself starting to feel this way, reblogging sad things, and feeling sad.

If that wasn't bad enough, Tumblr is guilty of promoting an unrealistic body image and unrealistic role models. I became attuned to seeing picture after picture of flawless models, Emma Watson, Lily Collins, Cara Delevigne, until I became numb. I knew I couldn't look like them, but I wanted to. It made me feel utterly crap. And the "typical Tumblr girl" was laughable - long, long dirty blonde hair, button nose, thigh gap, flat stomach, often donning a bikini (they always have pert, cellulite-less bottoms) or cut off shorts which on anyone above a size 6, would be considered indecent.

Again, if you see this all the time, it becomes the norm, and something to aspire to. Tumblr was my guilty pleasure, but it also became completely toxic. I felt like if I was down, I could always find solace in an angsty marker pen-covered paint sample (look it up, it's a total tumblr stereotype). Whenever I felt like I wasn't looking my best, seeing those  "perfect" girls was painful. It wasn't fitspo, it was just ridiculous. It was as if Tumblr was simultaneously encouraging indulgence in self-hatred and adoration of the unattainable, yet I couldn't get away. For every "sad" quote, there was a beautiful picture of the beach, offering a little escapism and aesthetic pleasure. For every ridiculously toned stomach, there was an adorable cat gif. But the negative always out-weighed the positive.

This might sound quite dramatic, but it's pretty amazing (disturbing?) the effect images and words can have on a person. Needless to say, if you've ever been moved by a book or a painting, you can begin to understand what I mean. Tumblr is just a digital version of this.

So, what was the point in this post? Yesterday I posted a particularly negative rant, and I woke up to my friend Chelsea saying "I saw your post, and I'm worried about you". It took a friend telling me to stop, and consider what the site was doing to me, to realise that I had to draw a line. Tumblr, if it was a friend, would be the type that gives you a back-handed compliment, lets you think they are reliable and trust-worthy, then completely betrays you, wishing you'd never met them in the first place.

I didn't need a "note" on a rant I'd written to make it feel like someone understood me; I needed a friend to tell me that I had a lot of things going for me, and that I was lovely, and beautiful, and had to stop being so negative.

Since this text, I have deleted the Tumblr app on my phone and iPad. I'm going cold turkey and avoiding the site until further notice. If I have a craving for pretty photography, I'll go on flickr or something. If I want a nice quote, I'll Google one. I thought Tumblr was the perfect combination of guilty pleasures rolled into a social media site, but it's only served for me to feel awful about myself, and it's time to cut it off.

Has anyone else felt the toxicity of Tumblr, or is it just me?
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11 October 2013

Glamour, the country and peppermint tea

The last few weeks have all been a bit of a blur; a blur of mail-outs, late nights, train journeys, appointments... the list goes on. It's been busy, to say the least. There have been new faces, which are wonderful (if a little daunting, sometimes) and old faces, which have been like metaphorical hugs.

Last week, I volunteered to help out at a Glamour Reader Event in partnership with The Body Shop*, which took the form of a make-up masterclass. If you haven't been to a reader event before (I hadn't), it's an event that readers sign up for (so pretty self-explanatory, really) and involves pampering and discounts.




The event was held above the Body Shop store on Bond Street and it was done up wonderfully thanks to the creative agency we work with - all twinkly fairy lights and plants and products EVERYWHERE, not to mention yummy nibbles and drinks. The masterclass was held by Lan Nguyen-Grealis, the Head Make Up Artist we worked with at Fashion Scout, and she used a model to talk through the season's best looks and gave tips how to achieve them. My favourite? For a natural take on contouring, brush a "3" shape from the forehead to the cheekbone, then from the cheekbone down to the jaw.




I enjoyed myself a lot, but it meant I had voluntarily put myself up for upwards of 12 hours a day. Whoops! Safe to say come Friday, I was absolutely exhausted. So what better way to fight exhaustion than to take some time out and visit and good friend in the countryside?




The weekend was exactly what I needed: lots of sleep (I managed to sleep in until 2pm on the first day... sorry, I'm not sorry), yummy food, good company, a lot of down time watching trashy tv and a spontaneous movie marathon (who could say no to "Friends With Benefits" followed by "Easy A"? Not us). We went fruit picking, walked the dog... and before I left we went to THE most beautiful pub I have ever visited. It looked like a miniature castle, with turrets and everything! I loved it.


My "I'm ready for the pub" selfie...


And it was nice, having someone my own age to talk to. I have lovely people at work I get on with, but we never really have chance to talk outside the office. I do miss being surrounded by 20 year olds nattering about boys, clothes and Made in Chelsea, sometimes.

I'm having to step up my game - work-wise - at the moment, testing my time management skills to the extreme! I've been arranging meetings with bloggers and press and although everyone I've met has been super lovely, sometimes it's not half frustrating trying to chase people up! My advice would be to not lose hope, and utilise every resource you have. And if that fails? Pick up the phone. It's quite ballsy, but it does get results. There's nothing worse seeing your inbox change to (1), only to realise it's not a response and have to go back to the waiting game (I hate waiting on people, have you noticed?).

Anywho, although meeting people who have been in the business longer than you is a little terrifying, it's rewarding, gives you a break from the office, and improves your confidence. It's kind of like blind-dating, but with no sexual agenda... Oh, and not to mention you get the chance to explore London's array of cute cafes and bistros. Always a bonus!


I loved Bills, located in St. Martin's Courtyard, Covent Garden

With being so busy, you'd think caffeine would be the answer, right? Well actually, no.

I've become a little paranoid that I'm taking my health for granted. I'm not doing enough for MYSELF, yet hoping that my body deals with whatever is thrown its way. In terms of getting ill, I'm a ticking bomb. So, I've decided to stick to one cup of coffee when I get into the office, and have herbal teas (my current favourite is peppermint, FYI) any time I feel myself start to lag. And tonight I'm going to start exercising again after 4 MONTHS, so you never know, I might die in the process and you'll never have to read my ramblings ever again. A blessing in disguise (maybe).

Which brings me to TODAY, where I dressed up as a Gingerbread woman and ventured into big publishing houses around the capital to deliver Ginger-themed goodies to beauty teams. Half hilarious, half embarrassing, people were divided between thinking I looked cute and plain creepy. The latter wasn't too great - fancy hearing "That's terrifying!" when you're stuck in an oversized onesie for the day, whether they like it or not. All I could do was awkwardly wave, which only seemed to creep them out more. Oh, well!


I'm in there, somewhere...

Toodle pip, and have a lovely weekend!

*Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. My opinions do not reflect those of The Body Shop, only of my, er, mind.
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23 September 2013

The rookie guide to London Fashion Week

                       

SS14 witnessed The Body Shop as the Official Make Up sponsor for Fashion Scout for the sixth season running. Being the make up sponsor is reeeeally cool for us because it means that our products are showcased at the majority of shows. 
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8 September 2013

The best lessons are the hardest to learn.

Yes, that's right - I'm going to get all serious on you. You have been warned!

The end of the upcoming week will mark my 8th week milestone of my year-long internship.

As it stands, the internship has not gone as smoothly as I could have hoped. It's had it's perks, but it's also had its lows. 

Last week, everything got way, way, WAY too much, and I learned some very important lessons that I'm still struggling to accept.

If you don't already know (and most people that have met me even a few times will know this, because it's pretty much ingrained into my character) - I'm a perfectionist. In my mind, if something isn't done to its full potential, and it's not something I can be proud of... what's the point?

This characteristic has been my downfall - my hamartia, as good old Shakespeare would say - in the workplace.

In my position I really strain myself. I have so much to do, so many things to prioritise, remember, chase up, complete, move, etc, that I am stretched out too thinly. The problem is that with a million things on my to-do list, I can never do anything to its full potential. Consequently, what I end up doing is putting all my efforts into two or three things, and letting minute details of other things which are just as important fall down by the wayside.

I won't go into detail, 1. because it's boring, and 2. because I'm not sure if it's considered "Private and Confidential" and I don't want to get into trouble, but I made some pretty hefty errors in the last few weeks.

It all came to a head towards the end of last week, though, when I came back from a brain-melting task which had taken me close to four hours, and it was 6:15pm (I'm meant to finish at 5:30, but never do), and I still had at least 6 things to action which would take me a good while. I was exhausted, my eyes hurt, I had a headache after squinting at letters and numbers, and I really, really just wanted to get home. I was so stressed, I wanted to cry.

"Go home" my colleagues said. "I can't" I said, "I still have loads to do!"

At this point I could have just happily put my head on the table and screamed in frustration. How had I let things pile up so much? How had I gotten so behind? Why do even the smallest tasks take so long? WHY am I still here with so much to do?

But I didn't, because I couldn't. So as the aforementioned colleagues gathered around my desk and had a look through my extensive to-do list, I sat there, torn between a state of being emotional numb and mildly hysterical, and tried to breathe as they told me how they were going to help me with the sticky situation I'd gotten myself into.

"This isn't me!" I wanted to shout, "I'm a hard-worker! I try my best at everything! All I want to do is be the best intern ever and not mess up! I can do better!"

I felt like I'd failed. I felt like I wasn't cut out for the job, even though I remindede myself I was chosen out out a rather large number of candidates.

But I hadn't actually failed. I'd just tried to do everything and I hadn't communicated my problem, which was as simple as: I'm too overwhelmed.

Even though I ask questions pretty much all the time, I never actually admitted that I had too much on my plate, because I thought it was expected of me to just do what I was given and get on with it. But the issue was that I'd gotten so many things to do, and gotten into such a state that I didn't know what to do, so was consequently at a loss at how to handle everything. All I'd needed to do was metaphorically stuck my hand up and say "Help me before I get majorly overwhelmed and want to curl up into a ball to let the magic fairies sort my life out."

It's a hard lesson to learn, but I understand that it's an important one. I let my pride get the better of me, and as cliched as it sounds, pride definitely comes before a fall. The workplace is a constantly challenging environment... no one expects you to be able to silently slot in and become a super robot whizz and never say a word. Not only am I learning new skills and techniques and adapting to new routines, I am learning to help myself and communicate that in fact, no, I can't do X, because I'm still devoting a lot of my time to Y.

On a lighter note, I am lucky to be attending Fashion Scout as part of London Fashion Week between the 13th and 17th of September, which I'm very excited about. My next post will hopefully be more positive! As far as I know, I'll be helping out backstage with models and assisting our make up artist with various things, and escorting guests around the site. Wish me luck, and thanks for reading!


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1 September 2013

A graduate's guide to living and working in London.

                      

As I face the reality of my seventh official working week in London (um, where did the time go?), I've realised how much I've learned in under two months. 
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26 August 2013

For crying out loud, stop hating on Miley Cyrus.

This glorious Bank Holiday Monday, I started the day as I usually do, by clicking onto various social networking sites. But instead of feeds being full of how people were going to spend their precious day off, I was met with post-VMA madness, directed specifically at Miley Cyrus.

I've followed Miley's career since the very beginning, thanks to my Peter Pan complex and love for cheesiness in all forms. I watched Hannah Montana. I knew all the words to "Best of Both Worlds". I bought her album "Breakout" on iTunes. I still listen and dance around to "See You Again" and "7 Things".

When she released "Party In The USA" and it became (semi) acceptable to admit to at least finding it catchy, I felt smug in the way fans do.

Hell, I love Miley Cyrus.

The day she cut off her luscious brown locks, I was like "Giiiirl, what have you DONE?!", my reaction similar to when Emma Watson did the same. But hey, I really think Emma works the pixie look, and Miley has kick ass cheekbones and she said it made her feel more true to herself, so who am I to judge?

However, the day she cut off her locks was the day that opinions really started to divide. People seemed to be really pissed that she'd done it, as if in doing so, she was setting a bad example.

Which leads us to the last few months. Miley (previously known as Smiley to close family and friends, doncha know) has admitted to smoking weed because it calms her down. Shock, horror! A child star doing soft-core drugs... oh no - not again! She's already done a half-Britney and cut her hair off... What's to stop her turning into Lindsay Lohan or doing an Amanda and going out in an electric wheelchair with a white blanket over her head?

And the VMAs. After witnessing a myriad of gifs from Buzzfeed articles, I decided to check out this "embarrassing" and "shameful" (shameless?) spectacle for myself on YouTube. To be honest, I was more shocked by the comments than the actual footage.

For anyone who HASN'T been sucked into the Miley-VMA-circle-of-craziness, Miley performs her newest hit "We Can't Stop" in a teddy leotard (which she rips off when she sings "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke) and gives the audience an interesting show of grinding and twerking, sticking her tongue out a lot and thrusting with/against a foam finger. It's pretty intense.

                          

                             

The performance is risqué, but the reaction was disgusting. People have deemed her a "whore", someone even saying "I really hope she dies, like, really soon." What the actual hell?!

A common response was "what would her father say... take your daughter home" blah blah blah. People, her father is her MANAGER. I'm pretty darn sure he knew what his daughter was doing. And why was the performance such a surprise anyway? Hasn't anyone SEEN the video to "We Can't Stop"? It's more of the same. The producers of the VMAs knew what they were letting themselves in for. And god knows her dad would have said something. Isn't the whole point of such awards to put on an entertaining show, anyway? Say what you like, but viewers would have at least been entertained...

I don't get what people's problem is. If the girl wants to grind, twerk, cavort in her undies and stick her tongue out suggestively at depressive teddy bears, who cares? We shouldn't be questioning her, but maybe why it bothers US so much. Miley is a display of aggressive feminine sexuality. Are we intimidated by this? Oh please, I do hope this isn't yet another example of patriarchy, telling us that females must be innocent, girly waifs, thus easily controlled and manipulated by all-powerful men. Surely not? Yawn.

Miley Cyrus is 20 years old. She knows what she's doing, and she's above the age of consent. Yes, maybe her actions are more acceptable in the confines of a bedroom, but should her death REALLY be encouraged by people who don't even know her?

And don't even start on the "bad role model" argument. If your daughter/niece/grand daughter/god daughter suddenly starts doing what Miley did on stage in public, maybe, just maybe, it's the parenting which is at fault here. The girl is just having a good time. Men (and woman) pay for worse, for god's sake.

Sure, this isn't a very thorough argument, but I'm just sick of the slut-shaming and abuse Miley is getting. It's her life - she can do whatever the heck she wants. And she's being paid for this... her life could be so much worse. And if I had her bangin' figure and self-confidence, there's no way you could try and stop me twerking in public.

As the girl herself says: "Nobody's perfect, we've all gotta work it..."

YOU KEEP WORKING IT, MILEY.

                                        

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13 August 2013

Wishing I'm on the street where you... work

It's no secret that I'm a fan of London. My poor friends, bless 'em, were bored to death with me going on and ON about how I couldn't wait to move there and start my ascent up the career ladder. Working hard, playing hard, drinking copious amounts of exotic cocktails in trendy places, meeting new people, and finally having some disposable income to play with (read: spend on clothes, shoes, bags...) - London, to me, was where I would thrive.

And even though I haven't been playing that hard (because I'm working ridiculously hard, and by the time I get home all I want to do is get into my PJs and not move), I'm still falling hard for London. Who needs a man when you have a city?  London is forever making me smile and coo with glee as I set my eyes on beautiful views, secret malls and quirky pubs. It seems like every week I decide a new area of London is my "new favourite place".

But the place which has stolen my heart is actually good old SE1, also known as the London Bridge/Borough area. And this area just happens to be where I work.

When I first had my interview at The Body Shop, I was blown away by the proximity of The Shard. Little did I know, however, that The Shard is only one of the amazing gems nearby. My hour-long lunch break has given me the chance to start exploring the area, and each time I stumble across something different and equally brilliant.  Whether it's spending a small fortune on a (bloody good brie, roasted red pepper, ham and mayo) baguette at Absolutely Starving, or strolling along the Thames and having a good old gawk at the Gherkin, SE1 is always aesthetically interesting. And I say "interesting", not pleasing, because some things are more bemusing than pretty...

Before I came to work in London, I always fancied myself working in Soho or Oxford Circus, but working where I am just seems so much cooler, not to mention the volume of tourists is significantly less! And who needs the Selfridges Food Market when you have Borough Market right on your doorstep with Brownies to die for?

The only bad thing about the fantastic array of bistros/wine bars/pubs/cafes/street vendors is that my mental list of places to visit is about as long as my arm, and will probably take longer than my internship lasts to get through them (mainly because I couldn't afford to dine at them once a week. Or even bi-monthly). But, hey, they ain't goin' nowhere, even when I do.

Here's a few snaps of views that have taken my fancy so far:
View of The Shard from Guys St. Thomas Gardens
The pretty ceiling at Hays Market
Sushi at Chozen noodles
Having a cheeky wander down the Thames, enjoying the sun
Umbrellas in a courtyard just off Borough Market. How beautiful are these?!

My next post will be clothes-related - promise! I just needed to get some gushing off my chest...
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26 July 2013

I'm not saying it's going to be easy...

I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.

Okay, so I'm not Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, neither am I his love interest in said movie (sob).

Nonetheless, it's the quote that sums up the last few weeks for me. And my oh my, what a couple of weeks it's been!

My departure from student-dom to adulthood began with a week at Red Bull Racing in the Marketing Department. It was absolutely amazing, especially as I'd underestimated just how COOL the company was. The people work hard, play hard, and were absolutely lovely; even approaching to ask me to ask them questions. I learnt a lot, having to listen to members of the brand, hospitality, account management and communications team, and had a brilliant time in the process (as well as consuming way too much Red Bull. For the record, I recommend the new editions). I completed my project - creating a running show car event - by Thursday, which meant on Friday I experienced Silverstone, and saw Vettel - whey!

Also, the team have a table football next door to their office, which they make frequent use of. I may have beaten my Line Manager at a game. Like I said, the company is seriously cool.

Between saying goodbye to friends and packing, the week and following weekend were crazy with moving to London preparations. I don't think anyone can prepare you for a permanent move away from home. My brother is taking over my room as I move into his (smaller) room when I return home, but my room won't ever be my room again. Scary!

And this week? Well... interning is not to be taken lightly. My role alternates between PA, product packer, unpacker, organiser, creative thinker, tally charter, newspaper-scanner and ALWAYS a sweaty commuter. Always. The amount I've had to take on board has been overwhelming, to say the least, and I'm terrified for when my lovely intern friend Sarah leaves at the end of next week after giving me a two week handover.

The tube is a whole different ball game. This week alone I've been burped at, lifted off the ground due to the general scrum, almost bowled over, stared at (creepily), been made half an hour late to work because of delays, but managed to get through 2 of The Hunger Games books. So there's always a silver lining, people.

I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that during the week I'll have to be as flexible as possible. That, alas, is the world of PR. Despite the rather glamorous upcoming events, the role I'm in is anything but glamorous. But it's okay, because everyone in this business has to start at the bottom, and at least I'm being paid, which is a lot more than some people can say.

Today I went to Oxford Street with my fellow intern, and my mood lifted significantly. This is because I realised, whilst drooling over the gorgeous prints in Zara, and the Kurt Geiger counter in Topshop, and just about everything I set my eyes on (before we got sworn at by a cyclist. Oh, London), that THIS is what I'm here for. I'm here to work, but I'm here to ENJOY. Enjoy the fruits of my labour, enjoy my freedom from the stranglehold of academia. London isn't just work for me, it's a whole new life of brilliant things that I can't even imagine.

 

So yes, my internship may end up being gruelling, exhausting, stressful and chaotic... but it's going to be worth it. It really, really is.

I just need to remember that the next time I'm given a ridiculously arduous task, which will probably be... 9am Monday morning. C'est la vie!
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12 July 2013

Does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all?


We were left to our own devices,
Many days fell away with nothing to show.

- Pompeii, Bastille.

Even though during the last three years many days did fall away with nothing to show, Wednesday 10th July signified the date of my graduation, the day to celebrate what I did have to show: a 2:1 in English Literature from The University of York.

Despite having worked graduation in previous years and becoming rather jaded by it all, my own graduation day was absolutely wonderful, made all the more special by being accompanied by my Mum and Stepdad.




Having finished my degree and graduated, I feel waves of relief, pride and triumph, but also of anxiety, panic and sadness.

I have worked hard my whole life to get to this point, and I have achieved what I set out to do, which is brilliant, of course.

But then I realise that from this point onwards, I determine my life.  There’s no set destination apart from the destinations I aspire towards.  Milestones of GCSEs, AS and A2 levels are far behind me, and now, so is a degree.

I’m more than happy to leave the stress of education behind (you couldn’t pay me to do an MA at this point!) but at least in education you were surrounded by people in a similar position and environment to you.

The world of employment beckons – I’m working at Red Bull for a week in the Marketing department, and the week after I begin my year stint at The Body Shop – yet I feel at a slight loss, and slightly lonely in my circumstances. My friends will no longer be there when I get home from a long, brain-melting day, and there will be constant pressures to perform on a professional and very much individual basis.

What if I’m absolutely terrible? What if the world of Marketing and PR defeats me?

And yet, working opportunities aside, I still feel about 18.  I came back from York, and it was as if time had stood still.  Everything was the same as before I set off for university (aside from the height of my younger brother, and a bush that had to be cut down to stop our house subsiding…)

But I do feel a little older and a little wiser, and I’ve returned to the South with amazing memories and friends I hope are friends for life, in addition to my close group of school friends. And I have a degree!

So even though things do change, and it is quite (read: VERY) scary, some things do stay the same, and that’s okay. The stability of my home life will hopefully keep me grounded, and I know that if things get all too crazy in the world of work, I always have a brilliant support group and a super fluffy cat ready to give me a hug.


I’m thrilled to have graduated, and excited to start the new phase of my life. So, bring it on, world! I’m ready to see what the future has in store*.

Congratulations, class of 2013!

* sorry for the cheesy ending. I do love a good bit of cheese, literally AND metaphorically.
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30 June 2013

Moving out and moving on.

Hi guys - it's been a while!

The end of university was hectic, and as a result, my blogging flailed and took a back seat.

Now that I've left university *sob*, I'll try and make time for regular blogging, although I can't promise that all entries will be enthralling and life-changing.

It finally hit me this morning, upon waking up and hearing nothing but the birds singing outside (as opposed to honking, ambulances and the like) that this was it... I had finally left York, and excluding graduation and the odd weekend trip up, I was never going back.

This realisation has made me pretty emotional, but I thought I'd turn this sadness into something more creative. And so, here is a list of things a student cannot do upon returning home and living with the parents:

1. Nights out

Nights out at home will never be the same as a night out at university.  I've decided this is for three main reasons...

Pre-drinks: At university, I would drink a bottle of wine before I'd gone out, or a healthy amount of cheap-o vodka with mixer. At home, you can't sit in the living room, chugging back the vino, without parents exclaiming "Exactly HOW much are you drinking? You'll be on the floor! Just THINK what you are doing to your LIVER." 

Getting tipsy: At university, towards the end of a pre-drinking session, people tend to stand up drunkenly and visit the toilet quite a lot. God forbid at home your parents bump into your drunken friends, which if they aren't accustomed to this, looks a) bad on your friends, and b) stands as a bad reflection on you.

The aftermath: The end of a night at university for me means visiting either McDonalds, or grabbing some cheesy chips, then going home with friends and drunkenly dissecting the night's events, careless of how much noise we're making. At home, when you come back, parents and siblings tend to be asleep, so you have to keep the noise down. You're not with friends, and leftover cheesy chips on the dining table would not be appreciated.

2. Throw caution to the wind

University means absolute freedom, meaning it's completely up to you how you spend your time.  If you go out to a friend's with the intention of coming back early, but then don't end up returning until the early hours, no one cares.  At home, however, it's "What time will you be home?" and "Will you be wanting dinner?" and "Who is this friend? Have I met them before?", the Spanish Inquisition only standing to become more intense if you don't keep to your word and return home punctually.

3. Sex

Does this one really need explaining? Unless your bedroom is on the other side of the house, you have perfected doing the deed silently, or have deaf parents, this is a no-go. And forget one-night stands... can you imagine the awkwardness between your hook-up and parents the next day if you fail to sneak them out? Cringe.

4. Manners

This one falls under...

Swearing: now I'm no sailor, but I will hold my hands up and say that with my housemates, I was guilty of letting slip the "s" bomb as an adjective, and the "f" bomb if I was angry.  At home, however, this isn't so acceptable, especially with younger siblings present.  Suddenly you're your parents' "little girl/boy", not on equal ground with your housemates, and there's a hierarchy (and guess what? You're at the bottom). I said "bloody" yesterday and my mother tutted "Language!" ... I don't swear all the time, obviously, but when you're thrown into an environment where Swearing Is Not Acceptable, it's quite a shock, and you have to adjust.

Generally having no shame: As a girl, I can't shout to my former all-female house for a tampon (sorry, guys!), and I'm pretty sure my swooning/leering at the Diet Coke hunk every time the advert comes on, and my saying "And THIS is why I want to marry an architect" comment upon watching Grand Designs wouldn't be quite so tolerated.  Ditto laughing about awful hook ups and pointing out euphemisms, etc etc.

5. Food/hygiene habits

Towards the end of university, my diet was pizza, crisps, fizzy laces and alcohol. At university, a dinner consisting of Walkers Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli (a sharers bag, obviously) is more than okay.  In fact, it is applauded - "That is by FAR the best flavour". I think if I tried to pull this at home I would be laughed at and told not to be so stupid. Hygiene-wise, we ran of out loo-roll all the time, and would often have to use cleansing wipes as a substitute. I told my parents this and they almost had a heart attack.

6. Sleeping

Every student will know that at university sleep is the next best thing after food, drink and friends.  It's almost as exciting as the day your student loan comes into your account (I did say almost). Napping was my saving grace in first year, and it's the perfect time waster. When I finished my dissertation, I'd wake up at 9am and realise I COULD GO BACK TO SLEEP. And I did. Today, however, I was berated by my father for waking up at half 11. Sigh.

Student life is pretty brilliant: complete freedom, and at least 3 years with like-minded people who are a similar age and share similar interests.

Even though my upcoming graduation symbolises a shift away from student life, I fully intend to embrace my student days when I can. I may have moved physically away from being a student, but it's going to take more than a geographicaly shift to shake the student out of me.  Sorry, parents!
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27 April 2013

"The Real Woman" and why chocolate should never be "bad"

I’ve never understood people that go on diets. I view diets in the same way I view really strict parents. It’s almost as if by being super restrictive you are tempting a massive rebellion… and I just don’t get it.  When people “fall off the wagon” and admit, rather embarrassed, that they have succumbed to Dominoes and a couple (read: A LOT) of chocolate, I am never surprised.

It’s not normal to only eat vegetables, fruit and the odd bit of protein.  You crave sugar and fatty stuff because god knows nothing tastes better than that first slice of pizza/first bite of a Double Decker when you’re absolutely starving. By making the former “off-limits” and “bad”, you are making it the most tempting, seductive thing in the entire world. Honestly, who actually believes in the phrase “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”?  Being skinny feels quite nice, I guess, but to compare being slim to things like Doritos and full-fat mayo (anything but full-fat mayo is a farce) and further, to imply that to be slim you can’t allow yourself fatty, carby treats, is utterly ridiculous.

And you know what else I really dislike? This whole culture of setting up curvy women as “real women”. In pushing the coveted hour-glass figure, culture is condemning those who are naturally slim or boy-shaped.  When magazines decide to stop labelling celebrities who have put on a couple of pounds as “fat” (which they aren’t), they describe these curves as representative of them being a woman. “Real women have curves”. Okay, great, brilliant, we are embracing curvy women, but what about the other end of the scale?  What about those who don’t have a sexy booty or boobs Kim Kardashian would be proud of, or a tiny waist and prominent hips? Are they not real woman now?  I’m sorry, but I thought we were moving forward here, but it seems as if we’re going too far the other way.  When will culture understand that the key to promoting body confidence isn’t to create an ideal that is often impossible for women to adhere to (without copious amounts of expensive surgery) but to promote the idea every woman is a real woman, regardless of shape?

This does not mean, however, that I’m saying women who are extremely unhealthy or obese should be idolised in the same way, but we’re all people here.  Maybe society should be pushing ways to eat a balanced diet without implicating this ridiculous “perfect body shape” idea and telling us that certain foods are “bad” and count as a splurge, saved for specific days.

I mean, if I’m having a bad week and I’m on a diet and I’m sick of drinking smoothies and boiled veg with some chicken breast, the last thing I need is to be told by my calendar that I can’t order takeaway because it’s not my “off day”. If I want take out, I’ll be damned if I can’t order take out.

Anyway, what am I trying to say? Firstly, that diets are near impossible because they make what is usually acceptable into something “bad” which then makes it super tempting. I’m saying: if you want to order that Dominoes, ORDER THE DOMINOES. Just don’t, y’know order it everyday.  Don’t deprive yourself of tasty things because life is too short. Just do some extra squats at the gym, or something.

Secondly, I’m sick of the ideal body stereotype. A boy-ish shape will never become an hourglass shape, neither will a pear-shape become top-heavy, or whatever. You need to embrace what you’ve got, and culture needs to stop putting certain figures on pedestals. It will only make different groups of people unhappy as they desperately attempt to become something their body cannot make them. Women should be able to take compliments, whether they are described as “slim” (not skinny – “skinny” is such a horrible word) or “curvy” and not question whether their shape is deemed attractive by society or not.

And on that note, I shall tuck in to my left-over Dominoes and yes, it’s going to taste AWESOME.

** After some Facebook comments that have called to attention Weightwatchers, which is a far healthier method of dieting, and the inclusion of "plus size" models in magazines a positive idea in promoting a body image that more women can aspire to, here is my
response:


"I think curvy models are great! I just don't like how magazines are pushing people to *be* curvy when for some people they can't.
I think the Weight Watchers point system is actually really good, but it can lead to people becoming obsessed with numbers and can take the joy out of food, to an extent but it's definitely a lot healthier than some diets out there.


"Maybe I should have made it more clear that eating HEALTHIER is better than "dieting" as such. I think you can still eat chocolate & carbs, just obviously not in excess, and I feel that diets make the mistake of telling people they CAN'T eat them, which makes it harder to stick to.
Often, sometimes people have a natural weight that they can't shift (if they are trying to lose weight) and on the other hand, other people find it difficult to put on weight. Often dieting doesn't work, and people shouldn't feel bad about that and accept their natural size without hating themselves.
Also I wasn't trying to say that inclusion of "plus size" models is leading to slim people disliking their weight. I just mean that a lot of the time they are plastering women like Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian who are EQUALLY are intimidating as say, Cara Delvingne, and it's just as bad for people's self-image.
I obviously didn't cover the subject extensively enough. And of course that's not to say diets are WRONG, but that they promote an unhealthy sense of restricting and control which is unhealthy and unhelpful

"I wasn't trying to say that slim people are oppressed. I was saying that by promoting "slim" one minute, "curvy" the next, etc etc, that different groups of women are made to feel unhappy with their shape. A lot of skinny, non-curvy woman can be made to feel unwomanly and unattractive when they are told "real women have curves" and it's not their fault, just as much/equally as people that aren't tiny feel insecure when they are told to be smaller. It can work both ways, but obviously there is more stigma if you're "bigger". Both are wrong."

Feel free to comment. This seems to be my most controversial blog post to date!
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18 April 2013

Destination: denim

Somehow, denim has become a massive trend over the last few months.
 
Maybe it's a 90s throwback (anyone else get irrationally upset after they heard that the rumour that the F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion was false?), or maybe - more likely - it's representative of the fashion world wanting to perfect the easy-breezy look that throwing on a denim jacket creates, just in time for summer... but I'm not Anna Wintour, so I can only ponder.
 
Anyway, the fact denim is now available for almost every clothing item (I haven't seen any denim underwear yet, but watch this space) means if you're not wearing at least one item of denim in your S/S 2013 outfits, you're just not on trend. Sorry.
 
Denim is super easy to style, can be dressed up OR dressed down, and the variation of denim effects (bleached, pale, dark, black, crochet, embroidered, go crazy) means that double denim is no longer offensive. Huzzah!
 
So as a tribute to the denim trend, for which I am whole-heartedly on board, here's my top denim pieces for the coming months.
 
1. Light wash Cassie Boyfriend Jeans - £35, River Island.
You can't go wrong with some slouchy boyfriend jeans... I think these could sway me away from the skinny jeans I've been squeezing into for the last 5 years!
 
 
 2. Denim Jacket - £24, h&m
Slouchy, simple, and a wardrobe staple. Easy on the purse strings, this jacket sells itself.

 
3. Lexie Denim Cross-Backed Pinafore - £60, Dahlia
I've had my eye on the Dahlia pinafore ever since it was photographed to sell the necklace the model wears, and now it's finally available for me to actually buy! *cue tears of joy*
 
 
 4. Mid Blue Denim Skater Skirt - £14.99, New Look
Skater skirts don't seem to be going out of fashion anytime soon if clothing sites are anything to go by (which I hope they are).
 
 
5. Mid Wash Floral Print Playsuit - £40, Miss Selfridge
I adore the bleach wallpaper effect on this playsuit. Throw in a peter pan collar and I'm SOLD. Too cute.
 
 
 6. MOTO Bleach High Waist Hotpants - £28, Topshop
These shorts combine a flattering high waist cut with summery bleached denim and a semi loose leg, and they don't look like they are going to show any bumcheek, which is always a good thing.

 
How rad is this cropped denim vest? Perfect for festivals.

 
 
8. Majlis Shirt - £25, Monki
Can't get enough of the colour-contrast denim on this shirt. As soon as I saw it I had to buy it, and I can see myself living in this during the summer months with the sleeves rolled up.

 


So what are you waiting for? Get excited for summer and jump on the denim bandwagon, or risk being left behind...
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