Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

High On Likes

Ten years ago, if a guy were to approach you in a club, knowing your name and other details about your life, you would run away and scream, “Stalker!”

Now, if a guy does the same, it’s cool; he follows you on Instagram.

It happened to me a few months ago and the guy quickly became aggressive when I apologised for not knowing who he was. It wasn’t cool, it freaked me out.

This angry stranger “followed” my life is pictures. Scrolling through my posts attempting an outside point of view made me feel sick: there were photos of me and my friends in bikinis on holiday, selfies, modelling photos half naked… All which seemed innocent, fun and worst of all normal at the time now seemed seedy and boastful in this weird collection of exhibitionism and narcissism called My Profile.

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It was the last straw on something I’d considered for a while. I disabled my account.

Alarmingly, I’d never thought about Instagram in terms of my privacy. Instead, I’d been building up to disable it after realising that it affected my mental health in a negative way.

Within an hour, no less than four people had sent me texts, ranging from concerned to hurt, asking why I had ‘deleted’ them. I later learned that they had been told this through an app which alerts you when you’re followed or unfollowed by an account. People really are invested in this thing. Relationship dynamics are affected and ego’s are hurt.

Social media is weird. The terms “follow”, “like”, and “share” mean completely different things now than they did years ago, with those phrases and others like “retweet, unfriend, block” becoming everyday conversational dialogue. Social media has become as normal as brushing your teeth.

So many relationships begin, grow, or solely exist in cyberspace. Whole persons and careers are created and maintained on smart phone applications. On a whole, social media is undeniably dumbing us down and running our lives, but I believe Instagram to be the worst; Twitter is a platform for words, a space to be intelligent, funny, witty, charming in 140 characters or less. Facebook, however you use it, is designed to share and keep in contact with friends and family – but Instagram? Instagram puts importance on the physical image. You can write a funny caption, but it’s the photo above it that’s going to get ‘liked’.

Yes, it can be used to share beautiful photographs. But it is photos of people  – particularly attractive women’s faces and bodies – that receive the most likes. Just look at the 11 most liked photo’s on Instagram ever – the physical is of sole-importance.

 

 

It allows us to construct our own fairy-tale image; psychologists use the term ‘self-presentation’, “positioning yourself the way you want to be seen.” A study found that self-presentation is so powerful, that viewing your own social media profiles increases self-esteem.

Compilation of boastful, ‘fun’ posts featuring me as an apparent party girl who holidays more than she’s at home

But Instagram never made me feel good. I’d subconsciously compare myself to everyone else seemingly having a better time, looking their posed, filtered best, usually from the comfort of my own bed while I looked like a frog. We never scroll through Instagram when we’re having fun, do we? I would only scroll when I had nothing better to do, making me receptive to negative feelings of boredom or loneliness before photos had even loaded. I would often close the app feeling undeniably depressed. So why did I continue to use something that was bad for my mental health?

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I’d never thought much about why and what I post until I disabled my account. When I was modelling I used Instagram to network with photographers and promote freebies like skincare and haircuts. I never felt that I was sharing too much of myself. But amongst those arguably useful posts are a few that, after my reflective time out, I now see as nauseatingly narcissistic.

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I actually thought I had made it acceptable because I was being philosophical in my caption, lol

 

Why at 23 years old did I feel that it was necessary to post a photo of myself in a bikini, alone, while on holiday with my boyfriend? The honest answers are:

  1. I wanted my followers to know I was on holiday.
  2. I obviously didn’t think I looked bad, or else I wouldn’t have posted it – I wanted my followers to see that I looked alright.
  3. I knew that a photo of a girl in a bikini will get the likes that, at the time, I unknowingly craved.

It all sounds arrogant, but are you honestly going to tell me that you can’t relate? Chances are you, your friends, your girlfriend, have posted photos for the same reasons. Why else would you take time out of your day to share a photo of yourself to the internet?

We are an insecure generation, constantly feeding off likes and follows for some sense of empty validation from strangers. Although I may look confident in that pink bikini, and at the time I thought I was – if I hadn’t needed validation then I wouldn’t have posted it. My ‘racy’ photos littering my feed now make me feel uncomfortable, especially now realising that strangers have studied them.

Compilation of meaningless, strictly narcissistic, vainglorious, egomaniacal posts posted by yours truly

After my much needed detox, the image of a girl alone in a bathroom seems like the epitome of vanity and shameless narcissism. I want to scream at her, “No one cares! Go jump in the pool! Go live your life! No one needs to see that!”. Yet, 99% of sexualised female celebrities and models do exactly the same thing and are praised for it.

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I recommend every one –even those who think I’m dramatic for thinking an app could affect my mental health – carry out a social media detox for a week and see if you notice a difference in how you think or live your life. I personally have so much more time for productivity; all the time you spend taking photos, or thinking about what photos to post and simply looking into other people’s lives, really does add up.

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The main thing that was putting me off disabling or deleting was FOMO and keeping up appearances; almost as if not posting was in inkling to the outside world that all was not well. But trust me, you are missing out way more on actual real life than what other people are up to. And those ‘likes’ lose importance strangely quickly. After six weeks, I reactivated my account, but now peeking into others’ lives feels really invasive. I have also completely lost that need to post; once or twice I have almost posted something and then asked myself, why?

Close the apps, put down the phone and enjoy the moment. If you’re going to take photos, print them, and give thought to the ones you do post. Don’t try to create an image of the perfect life – live your version of your perfect life.

The only person you should let validate your life is yourself.

PS. Follow @_theluckyleo on Instagram (no selfies, I promise)

ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM GOOGLE IMAGES & MY OWN INSTAGRAM 

 

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Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

Am I A Psycho Girlfriend Or Am I Just Honest?

There are two types of girls in relationships:

  1. The girlfriends that are totally rational, cool and collected. They don’t care that you have female friends, even if you’ve once drunkenly fucked them. They understand that you’re a human being and have your own life, wants and freedom. They call you once, and then wait patiently for you to call them back, however long it takes.
  2. The girlfriends that aren’t liars.

 

Thing is, the ‘crazy girlfriend’ cliché has given us a bad name. In movies, people are stalked, bunnies are boiled, bitches are murdered and cars are driven off cliffs. In real life (the Take-a-Break-Jerry-Springer-World), people can be un-funny psychopathic; penis’ are cut off, fried and served with eggs for breakfast. And of course, some girlfriends are extremely high maintenance or just complete bitches. Number 2 aren’t those people; Number 2 are just women strong enough to be honest about their feelings and their expectations of their partner’s behaviour, in the same way that a lot of men are to their partners.

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You see, for some odd reason, my generation of women have been brainwashed into suppressing their feelings for fear of being considered a “Psycho Girlfriend”. The dream is to be the “Cool Girl”: The Number 1’s. In The ‘Cool Girl’ Is Not Fiction, But a Phase, Tracy Moore writes;

The Cool Girl model of womanhood – Olivia Wilde in Drinking Buddies, Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs, Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer, Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (before she starts pretending to be the kind of hopelessly needy girl that is, obviously, repugnant to men) – is something you’ll only find on the big screen.”

The Cool Girl is the girl that’s “not like other girls” – the girl that doesn’t have girlfriends because they’re “too much drama”. The guy in the hot girl’s body. With this attractive image are also underlying suggestions of submission, complete emotional security/confidence and all round robotic-ness.

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I have been, or have at least experimented with being, a Cool Girl. At 16 I thought I was cooler than Summer in 500 Days. I pretended not to care that his best friend was a girl that had given him head months before we met, and that I was cool with him going out all weekend and not calling me for three days. I pretended that I didn’t really want to text him and limited my communication to every other day if he didn’t contact me first. Fucking hell, I even pretended to like football and The Smiths. I went through his phone and saw texts from a girl I hated talking about meeting up and I never even confronted him. Despite all of this, he broke up with me (I know…), thus breaking my tiny dumb heart for the first time. We eventually got back together but I stopped being The Cool Girl and started being more honest. Our relationship was a lot more relaxed, but there was still a lot that bothered me which I kept to myself; that he kept me separate to his friends and that he openly talked about other girls arses, amongst other things.

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I was stupid and blinded by first love naivety. Although I didn’t see it at the time, I believe that that first relationship gave me a sensitive Mugging Off Meter. It made me ruthless from the very start of relationships; If you don’t return my calls, bye. If you flirt with girls in front of me, you’re funny. In every relationship since, I have been honest and frank about my feelings and have been respected for it, albeit being called crazy from time to time. I’m not about to fake an attempted suicide when I’m dumped, or fight a girl that speaks to them in a club. But will I interrupt their conversation and introduce myself with an arm around his shoulder? Yes. Will I leave 30 missed calls, 20 texts and 10 voicemails if their phone isn’t answered all day? Absolutely.

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If that’s “crazy”, then I’m guilty. I have also been known to:

  • stalk ex’s online (there’s a whole article about that one)
  • stalk boy’s in real life, once hiding behind a bin
  • question boys on every single female they’ve ever met
  • get jealous irrationally
  • kick off in public due to paranoid behaviour
  • hurl footwear at a man (not proud of that one)
  • follow boy’s on nights out completely coincidentally
  • dramatically enter a room when I think something fishy is going on (nothing is ever going on)

I seem like an insecure mess, right? I hope I’ve made you feel better about yourself. But I don’t think this behavior has to mean the girl has been hurt, has issues or insecurities, and it definitely doesn’t mean that she will always be that way. We go through phases depending on what’s going on in our lives and who we are in a relationship with. At a time when I didn’t feel good enough for someone, parties were a sensitive place for me; I once followed a girl around a club because I was sure that she had been flirting with him (she had). Last year, after a lot of self-development, I watched calmly from afar as a girl sat on his lap and he instantly yet politely removed her. Later, when I told him I’d seen it, he asked why I hadn’t come over and sat on his lap instead; proving that what some people see as crazy, some find cute.

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My list of behaviour considered psycho becomes considerably shorter the older I get and the more secure I feel. Since the first boyfriend I’ve never felt the need to check a phone because I’ve never been given a reason to. Nowadays I would never date a person that gave me a reason to feel jealous – if they do, they’re obviously just not into you. It’s that simple. “Crazy” or “Psycho” is just a word used to invalidate your feelings. The truth is, even when our feelings seem irrational – we feel that way for a reason. We are human beings. Love and lust are chemical. Seemingly crazy behaviour is only a reaction to intense feelings, often worsened when mixed with personal feelings of inadequacy or insecurity.

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I believe in vocalising how you feel; communication is the key to a happy and healthy relationship. If your partner is too immature to handle you, they’ll be someone that can. For every crazy girl there is an equally crazy boy or girl to fall in crazy love with. You might be crazy for the rest of your life and meet a person strong enough to handle it, or you’ll meet someone that calms you enough that those feelings quietly fade away.

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Recently, I’ve seen a trend of girls owning their crazy and I love it. I’m so happy to be alive in the time of memes – memes are amazing for relating and normalising thoughts and behaviour once believed to be embarrassing. Confidence is without a doubt the sexiest thing about a woman. Be honest and have confidence in your feelings and you just can’t lose.

Own your crazy. Being cool is overrated.

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And as WordPress doesn’t upload the link, here is a little something to end on.

 

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Advice, Happiness

The Ex-Girlfriend Club

When I was 16 I met a boy called Will*. Will was my first everything: first boyfriend, first “I love you”, first other-person-orgasm, first p in my v.

But I wasn’t Will’s first any of those. That title in his life belonged to a girl called Chelsea, subsequently becoming another first for me: the first ex girlfriend.

These were simpler times. Pre Instagram and pre Facebook boom, it took a mutual acquaintance causally mentioning Chelsea for me to find out about her, around four months into our then very teenage relationship.

Of course, I’d recently been experiencing multiple overwhelming emotions for the very first time, such as attachment, sexual connection, vaginal stimulation and the gag reflex. None of these shocked me (the gag reflex comes in at a close second) or hit me quite so hard as the pure stomach turning gut wrenching jealously I felt upon learning of what I envisioned of Will’s “First Love”. Suddenly, our relationship felt tainted, which sounds very Victorian I know, and is strange because it’s not like I ever thought he was a virgin. Funnily enough, the fact that he wasn’t a virgin when he met me made me fancy him even more and installed a confidence that he’d take the wheel on my loss of virginity experience. But now, after discovering the details, I wished that I’d been his first. The awful, juvenile terms “sloppy seconds” and “upgrade/downgrade” was rife in our small town Essex gossip culture. I wasn’t anyone’s seconds. He was. I didn’t feel special anymore.

And to make it worse, she was hot. I tried to find faults in her to comfort my ignorant pubescent woman brain, but failed. She was tall and blonde, with a sexiness about her. I instantly compared this to myself, the unsexed round faced brunette tomboy in thick rimmed glasses, and for the first time ever, contemplated my own attractiveness. My awkward stage went on for longer than most (can we just forget pre-2011 didn’t happen?) whereas it seemed as if she’d never even endured one. As the law of attraction would have it, now knowing her face and name, I started seeing her everywhere on our college campus, but refused to acknowledge her existence, even to my friends. I didn’t need their opinions or even the truth, and I wasn’t insecure enough to put her down in order to pull myself up. She never caused trouble in any way. She was just living her life. But to me, she was the bitch that my boyfriend loved before me.

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(I literally ignored her existence at this party and we still managed to – kind of – be in the same photo.)

We’re raised well prepared for relationships and “love”, but no one ever warned me of the ex girlfriend game. Once over the age of 18, chances are your significant other has known genitalia other than your own. It seems like a simple fact of life, but one we are never emotionally prepped for or allowed to be honest about. No girl wants to be the “psycho” or to ruin her new relationship ‘cool girl’ myth. But if you tell me that you don’t know your S.O’s ex’s name, guess what – I don’t believe you.

Because, for every man I’ve been romantically or sexually involved in, I’ve known at least one ex by name or face, whether I’ve searched them out, stumbled across them or simply heard stories straight from the man’s mouth. Unless you’ve known them personally, they become a ghost like presence in the back of your sub conscious, even if it is a tiny little thought in a darker moment of the day, existing in a universe parallel to your own – still kissing and loving the man that is now yours. Their names become harder to pronounce, as if even the phonetic produces a venom, paralysing your lips. And even if their name is rarely mentioned, no matter what age, to some degree your person shared experiences and parts of their life with this other person. So in getting to know your person to the best of human ability, they’re going to remain in there somewhere, however much hidden.

To date, Chelsea is the only ex I’ve had no choice but to share an intimate space with, i.e a campus, a corridor or a mutual friends party. I’ve seen others in social situations that have been easy to escape from. I even worked with one, but didn’t have to be in close proximity with her. Chelsea is the only ex who’s persona was crafted in real life. All of the others have been created in a cosmic space between my brain and the internet.

For all the advantages that technology has granted us, among it’s negatives are the utensils to feed our curiosity in this particular subject. A simple Google search could show you half a dozen different medias that she has used over the years. I once found myself three years deep into an ex’s blog, flooded with photos of her and the guy on amazing holidays, making that past parallel universe far too present. And as the years have gone on it’s become as easy as a swipe of the index finger to fall head first down the rabbit hole and suddenly find your self finger slipping on a photo she posted 120 weeks ago. Social media gives us the tools to construct these once mysterious figures from the past. A 140 character tweet somehow acts as an autobiographical look into their soul, as does an over used Emoji or a one sentence self-bio.

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^THE WORST. 

You may believe that my behaviour and outlook is “psycho”. I’m ok with that, because I could name you twenty girls that have admitted to the same behaviours, and if we’re all psychos, then I guess we’re psychos. My own mother, at 53, tries to hide the flames in her eyes whenever her partners ex wife is mentioned, but fails. Thank God she doesn’t know how to use Facebook. It’s an organic emotion and action given our lives and culture mixed with our female animalistic instincts. It’s completely out of my usual nature and conscious control: I try my best to love or at least appreciate and support all women. But mixed with this possessive, jealous, stereotypically Leo outlook of needing to be the very best and perhaps a deep down insecurity within relationships, I’ve projected my inward thoughts onto their uniquely-crafted-by-me personas, and created monsters, of which are (probably) very far from their true selves. Take it through extensive experience, stalking is a game you enter with absolutely zero chances of winning, as is comparing yourself or your present relationship to any other human or past relationship. You will never come out of a stalk feeling better about yourself, as much as you like to believe the unflattering drunk photo of her does. Even this paragraph made me hate myself… But truthfully it’s never ever good to feel like that. It’s all about understanding our own brains and situations and having clarity, and not feeling guilt over emotions we don’t understand.

It’s taken me years to establish clarity on why we seek out the ex. I think it begins rather innocently as purely fierce curiosity – trying to work out if he has a type and if you fit it, or measure up to her level, even though a true ‘level’ will never exist. Plus, curiosity over our own metaperception: if I see her a certain way, does he see that in me? Is that how I appear to others? If she is forced into your personal business by way of contact – I’ve had a few weird messages from some scorned ex’s and one that has called the guy while I was sitting next to him to tell him she missed him – it becomes even harder not to investigate a potential ‘threat’. For me personally, this curiosity has at times murdered, butchered and dismembered the cat, and developed into a weird sort of morbid fascination. I’ve paralleled our lives so freely that it’s almost scary – 141 weeks ago when exhibit A. was in New York being a successful supermodel, I was crying after my first fashion week in London. 214 weeks ago when exhibit B. was loved up with my current love… Oh… I was loved up with my ex love… Awkward.

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The worst type of photo to see whilst stalking his ex / anyone could ever post. 

Which leads perfectly to another interesting comparison: unless you males have a secret community with a strict confidentiality agreement, you seem to react to our ex’s in the complete opposite way – remaining so confident in your patriarchal position that you just lack that need to compare, analyse and care whatsoever. When asked if he cared about in any way or had stalked any of his gf’s ex’s, one male friend laughed, and could only muster, “Why would I?”. Following continued probing, he later added, “I guess if she’s with me now, there’s just no need or want to go looking into her past. The past is the past. You girls seem to love the past”.

I can’t help but agree with that generalisation. But in these irrational, jealous moments, we also seem to magically forget that we have our own pasts, once too featuring other people: perhaps even more in love and having even better sex. There have been a few ex girlfriend’s that I have seen as SO beautiful, in a emotionally distressful time when I couldn’t feel worse about myself, convincing myself that I was the ugly one after a string of Candice Swanepoel’s. It didn’t help that a friend of the boyfriend, every time she drank, told me she loved me and that I was so much better than his most recent ex. “You’re great. I mean, she was BEAUTIFUL, but so cardboard. You are so clever and funny!” The first time she said it, I took it as a compliment. By the third time that she’d repeated the exact same sentence, all I managed to hear was, “SHE was BEAUTIFUL” – i.e, you’re not. I felt too embarrassed to tell my boyfriend at that time, so confided in another male, who cuttingly told me, “Even if she is way hotter, why do you care? You’ve had way hotter men than *****, but you still prefer him. It’s obviously the same with him otherwise he’d still be with her and wouldn’t want to be with you.”

Here’s an exercise for you: Close your eyes and picture your “best looking” boyfriend/sexual partner. I don’t mean your most attractive over all to you or the one you fancy or love the most. I mean the usual consensus of what’s physically “good looking” to the general public.

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If it’s your current, lucky you, I guess he’s perfect. But chances are he’s the guy from your past that had good looks and not a lot else. Now compare them to your current, in the same way you’ve compared yourself to his ex’s. In my case, exhibit Lol’sFromMyPast was a 6’4 male model gym buff who turned my flatmate’s gooey eyed and wet knickered. He was also dumb and dull as fuck and gave me nothing but something nice to look at, the novelty of which wore off after three weeks, which was still far too long. Exhibt SexiestManInMyEyes was an intelligent, endlessly interesting and charismatic, 5’9, un photogenic, wonky nosed tech geek, who gave me more orgasms than my right hand. The result? What does “looks” matter? Looks are nothing to do with love or even attractiveness and are always completely in the eye of the beholder anyway. Ask me which man I’d pick given the chance out of the two – I’d pick the latter in a fraction of a heartbeat every single time, with absolutely no thought needed.

We see every little thing that could be wrong with us, when others just see you in all your perfectly imperfect glory. I think women think that men think about “looks” ten times more than they actually do. If my current boyfriend told me he’d been humped over on the sofa stalking my ex on his phone for an hour, accidentally liking a year old picture in the process, I’d be dumbfounded. I’d demand to know what had lead him to such a time wasting activity. The ex couldn’t be further from my mind, living in another parallel universe filled with people who’s body parts once touched your mouth but who’s presence you now could not care less about.

Coincidentally, there’s other people I could not care less about, who’s bodies haven’t been near my mouth or any other orifice: my ex boyfriends’ current girlfriends’.

While conducting an albeit light study on other girls’ feeling towards ‘the ex’, another target came to light organically: 8 out of 10 girls I asked were very interested in their current’s ex, but 7 of those added that they also looked for and resented their ex’s current. This is really interesting to me, as it is honestly something that I am not effected by. Luckily, by the time they’ve moved on, I’ve moved on. I’ve been forced to acknowledge their existence, online and in person, but have never ever ever felt that little jealousy twinge I’ve had for ex’s. When I see the currents, I can appreciate their looks or overall character without compromising my own, sometimes even KNOWING that they are way prettier than me, and – I promise you – not caring one little bit. I don’t know exactly what the difference is, or how I can hold such opposing views on the two, or why some girls feel the opposite way. Perhaps that’s a-whole-nuva article.

Lastly, another super important thing to realise in order to come to terms with their ex is the strong likeliness that you are or one day will be the ex girlfriend to someone’s boyfriend. Imagine a girl you’ve never had anything to do with, examining your thoughtless Instagram posts, thinking you’re dumb and wondering if he found you prettier. Freaky Matrix style shit, huh? Ever had a boyfriend talk shit about his ex? He’ll probably be talking shit about you to his new girlfriend in a year from now.

After the first year of my relationship, I never saw Chelsea again, but if I saw her name on a friend’s Facebook, did I have a little look? Of course. Although, as time went on it became way less frequent, until after three years Will and I broke up for good. As my experience in men grew, so did my experience in mythic “ex girlfriend’s”. In turn, the longer I was with the man, the less I cared about the ex’s. I’ve come to realise, that you really only fully get over the girl when you get over the guy. With no judgement, I can’t help but wonder if the girls that have an issue with their ex’s current, perhaps aren’t over either of them.

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Earlier this year, I received a random LinkedIn invitation from none other than Chelsea. A name that once bubbled my blood now just rung prettily in my ears, and was one I realised had been buried deep in the past. The memories of my past feeling towards her shocked me, and suddenly everything clicked. I found clarity.

I accepted, saw a link to her blog and spent the next hour reading. She seemed cool and clever and exactly my type of girl. I somehow felt I owed it to my 16 year old self, to add her on Facebook and tell her I loved her writing – call it writer karma if you will. A week later we met for the first time. I was excited to finally speak to her and debunk the myths in my head. But like a first date, I was nervous we wouldn’t get on and I’d have to devise an escape route through a public toilet window.

Happy ending alert: we did get on, shared a few bottles of wine and laughed hours away without any weird “what-shall-I-say-now?” moments. In fact, I think I get on with her easier than I ever got on with Will. If you’d have shown a 16 year old me this scene from her future, she never would have believed you.

It’s so weird to think that, the way I feel about Will and whoever his current girlfriend may be now, is the same way Chelsea felt about Will and I way back then. She was over him, not caring who I was. I was in love with him, caring way too much about her. And now seven years later, we were in a bar in Notting Hill together, getting on so well that the topic of our once shared ‘love’ was the dullest and briefest thread of the evening’s conversation.

A POEM:

So remember, ex girlfriends are humans too
living their own unique lives as are you
If you’re cool and he finds you’re cool
chances are she’s cool
and you’d find her cool too.

Give it a few years – who knows – you could be friends.

ALL PHOTOS AND IMAGES FEATURED ARE COURTESY OF GOOGLE IMAGES & FACEBOOK.

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Advice, Happiness, Health, Interview

“There will always be more parties” – Things I Wish I’d Heard at 23

Birthday’s are funny things, aren’t they? Fundamentally, they serve solely as an excuse to dedicate a whole day to the celebration of you and your life, in which you are rewarded with praise, parties and presents, purely for having won the sperm race and surviving however many years of earth you personally have thus far.

I recently turned 23. 23 is a pretty forgettable landmark – it presents no new allowances like 18 or 21, and no philosophical rush of importance like 25 or 30. Even 22 had a Taylor Swift song. 23 is just a red flag reminding you that you are two years away from 25, and seven short years away from 30. Pause Taylor Swift for a second and you’ll hear a faint, monotonous ticking noise…

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I feel that now more than ever, twenty somethings are feeling an immense pressure to succeed. We are a generation of perfectionists, influenced by the media and countless sources of overflowing information. Technology is developing at the speed of light, and we are expected to hold on tight or get left behind. The Earth, once gigantic, has been made smaller but technology, so that we are all just tiny fishes drowning in one big bottomless pond.

I recently discussed a personal anxiety with my friend Steve, who at 28 isn’t much older than me at all. He told me that when he was my age, he didn’t appreciate being responsibility free and wish he’d used that to his advantage. It made me realise that nostalgia and first hand knowledge allows us to look back on our younger selves and see that we were unnecessarily anxious, because nothing is as bad as it may have seemed once it is in the past. Advice can help us to view things in a different perspective. Listening to others’ regrets could stir something within us early and help to avoid our own future regrets.

So I asked 23 friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances over the age of 30 what advice they would give if they could have a conversation with their 23 year old self:

Fraser, 52, Insurance broker, Essex.

“If you’re not happy in something, whether it’s a relationship or a job – QUIT. It is never too late to change your life, you are never stuck in anything.”

Helen, 52, Hospice nurse, Wiltshire. 

“Follow your heart. If it feels right then do it! If someone else’s advice isn’t quite ‘you’ then go with your gut feeling. I married at 19 after lots of,

Are you sure you’re not too young?/Will this relationship last?”  

I am so glad that I followed my heart… As it was right! We have been happily married for 32 years.”

Vicki Psarias, Film maker http://www.vpsarias.co.uk  and blogger (http://www.honestmum.com) (http://www.mummysgotstyle.com)

“Keep truckin’, follow your dreams (as you will) but be open, always. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself. I had directed my first short film at the time, had just got a distinction in my MA in Screen Direction, but I was too hard on myself, my own worst critic and I would say in retrospect, ‘girl, cut yourself some slack, you’ll find the right job for you, eventually (when technology catches up) that allows you to be whomever you want to be, and it will happen after kids, a time when many will tell you your creative career will die. Well it thrived’.

Remember, things will work out. Hone your talent, be tenacious but also kind and life will work out the way it should.”

Joe, 32, Musician, South East London

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, but don’t expect happiness to be a default setting.”

Ste, 40, Builder, Essex. 

“ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, wear a condom.”

Rory Gullan, 30, Fashion photographer, London.

“At an extremely stressful time of my life, my mum asked me, ”What’s the worst that could happen?” I told her, “Well, this”, to which she repeated, ”What’s the worst that could happen?” So I told her – “I could fail.” And she simply said, “Exactly.”

Since then I’ve used this in everything I do, and everything just seems that much more straightforward. Failing is one less thing to worry about because it’ll teach you a lot more than always succeeding.”

Julie, 49, Yoga instructor, Essex.

“Believe in yourself and all that you do. Don’t worry about what other people think, just know that you are attractive to others.”

Joe Mehmet, Salon owner and top hairdresser. 

“Invest in your future rather than live for now. As time catches up with you and then you realise that you haven’t got enough for the rest of your old life; In your twenties it’s all about fun fun fun but when you hit the fifties you need security as pensions won’t be enough – nor will the state look after you.”

Jake Mavity, 35, Director and producer, London. 

“Slow down. I thought there was a mad rush to achieve stuff when actually life is bloody long and you don’t have to have it completely nailed by 30. And relax. Twenties are rubbish compared to how fucking awesome your thirties are. The fun of the twenties with no insecurities and more cash. Bliss.”

Bobby, 33, Music journalist, Essex. 

“Nothing is ever as bad as we imagine it to be, and that feeling anxious is natural. It is perfectly normally to feel scared, but to let that fear prevent you from doing what is good for you is the most frightening scenario of all.”

Tav, 36, Club manager, London. 

“Don’t expect anyone to provide for you; the sweetest money you’ll ever make will be the money you make for yourself.”

Michelle, 53, Actress, London.

“The minute you have a back up plan you are admitting defeat. Don’t look for love, it will always find you.”

Bobby, 69, Club owner, London 

“If you look around a table and can’t pick out ‘the mug’, you’re it.”

Ian, 32, DJ and photographer, London.

“There will always be more parties.”

Sid, 70, Antique dealer, London.

“Just live life as it comes. Always be polite, manners cost nothing.”

Jo, 42, Makeup artist, London.

“You are beautiful. Just be confident, listen to your inner voice and do what makes YOU happy.”

Mike, 47, Managing Director, London. 

“Think twice before you cross someone because it will always come back to you. Honesty is the key to life.”

Jens, 70, Property developer, Surrey.  

“Don’t rush into things. Take your time and think through your options. You are only 23 and still have 50-60 years of living in front of you.”

Siobhan, 47, Deputy head teacher, Berkshire. 

“Don’t get to your 40’s and say. “I should have done that.” Life presents people with opportunities all the time. Some people take them and some people don’t. Don’t miss out!”

Richard, 35, Film editor, London.

“Don’t panic. Smile. Laugh. Have lots and lots of sex.”

Vero, 43, Saleswoman, Dorking.

“Don’t smoke. Get your cervical smear test. A friend of mine had to have her entire cervix removed in her late twenties because they found cancer.”

Julia, 58, Artist, Surrey.

“Self development, self development, self development. Make it a life long commitment and investment to become the best version of yourself in mind, body and spirit.”

Victoria, 54, Social worker, Essex. 

“Trust your instinct, and don’t let pressure get in the way of it. At 23 I had doubts about my engagement, but went through with the wedding so not to let any one down. As soon as we were married he became extremely abusive and I found myself divorced by 25. Don’t waste years of your life unhappy. As soon as something doesn’t feel right or make your life better, remove it from your life.”

 

 

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Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

Break Up to Wake Up

I have never heard anyone say a that their break up was easy. Even if it was the obvious option, a mutual decision, or for one parties best interests. Even if the love you shared has slowly dwindled into nothing but a comfortable familiarity. Even if that person ripped your heart into one trillion tiny pieces, the loss of a constant presence isn’t something that can be forgotten in the mili-second it takes to say, “Goodbye”. The simple yet agonising pain of missing someone can be overwhelming and at times inconceivable.

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Of course, some people are quicker to get over than overs, and some are lucky that they are kept busy or disconnected enough that time heals the pain faster without much thought. But, I am almost certain that even those people have at some point found themselves awake at four am thinking, “fuck.”

Love is a real strange thing. You meet a stranger. You like them. You spend your very precious time with them. You share your inner most feelings, emotions and fears with each other. Whether the connection hits you like a punch in the face or is more of a slow burner, creeping up on you unexpectedly, it becomes so strong that our emotions translate it in our brains as ownership. They are yours and you are theirs. Out of the 7.125 billion humans on planet Earth, you have a favourite.

Now take it right back to the begging: you meet a stranger. A stranger that has a whole universe of their own before they enter yours. A stranger that owes you absolutely nothing and to whom you owe nothing in return.

But our brains somehow persuade us that we will never ever ever find a stranger whom we prefer to the present favourite stranger, meaning that when the break up comes, we enter panic mode.

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Cat Stevens wrote, “the first cut is the deepest”. I personally believe that your first break up hurts more than any other. Largely due to the fact that after the first, you have the comfort of experience. You got over them, so you will get over the next. And the next after that.

At 20, I broke up with my first boyfriend after three years together. I honestly, seriously, literally thought I would never meet anyone that made me feel more at home than he did. I thought that, at 20 – 20!!!! – that I would end up un married and childless, with ten dogs and an extremely large wine cabinet, still crying myself to sleep over the loss of my first love.

Schokolade Zum Fruehstueck  Bridget Jones's Diary  Renee Zellweger Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) wacht am Neujahrs Morgen auf

I can’t tell you that I felt amazing and free and could laugh at my previous sentiments after two weeks. The cold truth is that I was sad for a good six months. I tried to date after a while, but the table space between the new unknown man and I felt like light years. It wasn’t getting better. I then made the cliche mistake of organising a catch up (let’s-attempt-a-friendship / I-just-want-to-look-at-your-face-in-person) coffee, after which we kissed and I begged him for another chance. Cough he said no cough. I was humiliated, and the hurt I’d felt over the last four or five months quadrupled and hit me in one big blow. I promised I would never beg a man ever again.

After that incident, I felt better by the day. My mindset became completely different, until I met someone whose company I genuinely enjoyed and felt I could have sex with without crying afterwards. I never cried once. A few nice men later, I found myself head over heels in love again. This time, it was my first love that felt light years away, and the forever alone sentiment, down right laughable.

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It is never too late to move on from Mr. or Mrs. Wrong. My mum met her Mr. Right after a failed marriage, two children and countless relationships along the way, aged 49 in Stansted airport after a delayed flight. They have now been together for almost six years and are yet to have their first argument. That’s the best example I have, and it’s a pretty good one.

A big part of waking up after a break up is acceptance; accept who you are, what makes you happy and the kind of person that could add to your unique breed of happiness. Even if your heart is broken and it was completely that persons fault – it wasn’t really their fault – you just weren’t right for one another. Once you come to that understanding yourself through time, self love and rational thinking, that acceptance will come naturally, and forgiveness will follow. If hating that person gives you the power to move on, so be it, but only through letting go of that hate will you truly, truly move on and discover your true love within yourself and for another.

Louis CK said, “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.” It’s the same with all relationships, whether you’re married or have been dating for four months. A rational break up is always, always, always good news. Life is far too short to be in a complicated or anything less than happy, fulfilling relationship. Plus, the greatest things in our lives happen because something changes. Perhaps the relationship has been subconsciously holding you back from being exactly who you want to be or doing exactly what you want to do.

Being with the absolute right person for you is the easiest thing in the world. However much you try to tell yourself otherwise, or how ever much the nostalgia and the panic mode clouds it: if someone makes you miserable than they are not that person, and you should not be with them. Period. And anyway… You’ll never find the right person if you never let go of the wrong one.

You – whoever you are, whether I know you personally or not – are amazing, and you deserve happiness. The best thing you can do, the only thing you can do, is turn your hurt and heartbreak into a positive drive. Use this time to find yourself, excel at work, get healthy, sort out your shit with no ties. If you’re the revenge type (maybe you should re read the last few paragraphs if your answer is yes), happiness is the ultimate revenge. Being self destructive will get you absolutely NOWHERE. Take that from someone who has made that mistake and learnt from it.

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THINGS I WISH I’D BEEN TOLD TO DO 

  1. SPEND AS MUCH TIME WITH PEOPLE THAT MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY AS POSSIBLE. Family, girlfriends, guy friends, your pets, your therapist… Etc.
  2. TREAT YOURSELF. Whether that be buying yourself a break-up-gift, pampering yourself, a holiday. Happiness if priceless, even if it’s fleeting. Although please keep in mind your rent.
  3. TALK ABOUT IT. If you can feel certain friends getting bored of it (insert question of friendship quality, sorrynotsorry), find someone that has perhaps been in your shoes and is a talker AND a listener. It really will help. They might even point out some things as an outsider that will bring you to your own realisations.
  4. DO NOT CALL/TEXT/EMAIL/‘ACCIDENTALLY’ BUMP INTO/MEET FOR ‘FRIENDLY’ COFFEE. Under no circumstances. Unless you share a child. Exchange possessions, get your shit and leave. I KNOW it’s hard but it really will make it a lot easier in the long run.
  5. READ:HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU IT’S CALLED A BREAK UP BECAUSE IT’S BROKEN HEAL AND MOVE ON 
  6. WATCH: 19 Best Movies to Watch After a Breakup  I couldn’t have written this list better myself. 
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Advice, Happiness, Health

THIS GIRL CAN (AND DOES)

Exercise is good for you.

Without a shadow of a doubt.

100%.

Period.

I know I know… You’ve heard it all before. But it really does has no negative consequences, and will improve your life ten fold if done right. Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, I really regret that work out”, or “I wish I didn’t start exercising” ?

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Only some of the health benefits include:

•up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

•up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes

•up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer

•up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer

•a 30% lower risk of early death

•up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis

•up to a 30% lower risk of depression

•up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

I’d be a liar if I told you that I exercised purely for the benefit of my health. Not only does exercise make you lose weight, tone and gain muscle, it also improves your skin, posture, produces collagen, and generally makes you appear healthier physically.

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If only there was a magic way to get into shape without all the effort, huh? Because exercising can be a lot of effort. There’s no short cut, there’s no magic spell. Just hard work, motivation and determination.

While I was at university, when I was going through a hard period in my life, I used exercise as a way to escape all of my stresses. I can’t say it made all of my stresses disappear, but it was a lot better than drinking my sorrows away at a bar. Also, the rush of endorphins I got after a work out improved my mental health for the rest of the day, and wore me out ready to sleep well in the evening.

Eventually, I completed university and my dad died. I was having a lot of therapy at this time too, and gradually something in my brain adjusted. I let go of a lot of negativity and became a lot more chilled out. Watching my dad die so young enforced in me the importance of living for the moment and being as happy as possible. Unfortunately, this meant I gradually stopped exercising all together, eating food I had kept from myself for so long, and ending my sober stint.

Although I didn’t put on a huge amount of weight, I was very aware of my lack of fitness and loss of muscle definition. I also had developed a sleeping problem and found my mental health dipping. After a year of not having one solid base, I finally moved into a flat, and finally re joined a gym.

It only took one proper session to get straight back on the saddle. I came out feeling that incredible high of endorphins and wondered how I’d gone so long without it.

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But I can not lie to you… When I am exercising, I am not enjoying myself.

Quite often, a little demon pops into my head, saying

“WHY on Earth are you choosing to do this to yourself?”

“You are literally paying to be in pain.”

“This won’t be over in five minutes. You have to do this for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”

“You’re in pain, dripping wet, and you’re still not a Victoria Secret Model.”

I ignore it, and keep going. I like to push myself until I am wet with sweat and my legs feel like they can’t move any longer. But that’s just me. Once you get to the stage, the rush of endorphins kick in, and the little demon gets blown away.

Until tomorrow.

Exercise-Class

^WHY ARE YOU SMILING? 

I think we should be more honest about exercise.

Feminism in our times and place still has a long way to go. There are subconscious pressures and judgements in all areas of our lives, without the added pressures of trying to exercise and not feel awful about it.

“Fitspo” accounts on Instagram boast incredible bodies without showing all the effort these people went through to obtain it. Not to mention the good camera angles, lighting, editing and poses used to create a perceived perfect body. This, along with news of celebrities, athletes and models, looking amazing down to a so called simple work out regime, only makes us feel awful about ourselves. Don’t forget, there is a lot that these people don’t allow us to see. Nothing annoys me more than when someone claims they love exercise and find it easy. A lot of us, including me, do not. Constantly being fed images of happy, carefree exercise is undermining, patronising and intimidating.

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^Yep, because the difference has nothing at all to do with the angle, knickers, lighting or pose… Sure. 

I am also well aware that the majority of people have actual grown up lives and don’t have the luxury of time to exercise. I am a bit spoilt in this sense, but, I do believe everyone should make time where your health is concerned. It could be as little as walking instead of driving or using public transport. Even walking up the escalator instead of gliding up in the air on the right hand side is an excellent way to exercise.

Thankfully, it seems some companies have got my back on this subject.

Nike’s “Better For It” campaign (2014) proves that even the biggest sport and fitness companies are turning their backs on unrealistic advertising.

Finally! A multi million dollar company is branching out to a wider range of people, and at least begging to recognise the problem with false advertising. This is a powerful and inspiring ad, and definitely made me feel better knowing that other women have a little demon too.

While waiting for my tube the other day, I noticed this poster:

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“This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations. It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.”

I would urge everyone to visit http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk for more information on the campaign. I am so happy that this has been created, and that we women can inspire and encourage each other without discrimination or pre possessed ideals.

There are many ways to exercise. You do not have to lock yourself in a gym for hours on end. Personally, I love going to classes because there is someone to guide you through it and the group atmosphere really helps with motivation. And at the end of the class, you all feel connected, because you have achieved something great together.

So let’s stop being so hard on ourselves when it comes to exercise. Health is paramount at the end of each day. In order to love yourself you must look after yourself.

Your body is your home – don’t burn it down.

PS. I hightly recommend:

LDN Muscle for everything health and fitness, especially their range of fitness guides for men and women of every fitness level.

Virgin Active for an all round amazing gyms across the UK with an excellent range of classes.

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Advice, Happiness

Comparison: the cruelest attack on oneself.

989a02cc13f76d2346a4b64c4b0de2e4Insecurities can eat you up like a parasite, until you’re nothing but an anxious shell of what you once were. Trust me, I’ve been there, along with a huge number of young women I personally know.

Living in the best city in the world has it’s downfalls: there’s an unworldly beauty starring down at you from every billboard and up at you at every magazine stand. Throw in being a model: those unreal women become very real indeed when they’re sitting beside you at a casting or appearing on your Instagram newsfeed. (Or, if you’re me, going clothes shopping only to realise the girl modelling them is your ex’s new girlfriend. This wasn’t even an isolated incident…)

Being confident in yourself in one thing. But once you start comparing yourself to others, it’s difficult to stop, as there will always be someone to compare yourself too. The world is getting smaller. Years ago, the only people we could compare ourselves to were class mates, family members and perhaps the untouchable girls on the magazine covers (who, of course, aren’t real people) But then the internet (and within it, social media) came along and presented to us the prettiest girls in every high school, in every area of every city, and opened up the flood gates in what is now an infinite ocean of faces, bodies, features and accomplishments to compare our own to.

But why do we care so much about being pretty? What is it with pretty? How about being pretty kind? Pretty smart? Pretty honest? Pretty funny? Pretty independent? 

I happen to know a young lady who is absolutely stunning. She turns one hundred heads per street, has thousands of Instagram followers and just so happens to be a successful international super model. Yet, the same woman has confided in me that she feels “too ugly” to model, as the fashion industry (the perfectionism, rejection, emphasis on physical appearance) has over time absolutely destroyed her confidence. She has been forced to compare herself to others for years. There is no one that looks quite like her, so it’s not hard to see how she is forced to compare herself to girls with a completely different look. But that’s the whole point. She doesn’t look like anyone you’ve ever seen before. Therefore, she’s shockingly gorgeous. There is only one version of her in the whole world. She is completely unique, like a rare precious stone. But to her… it’s a different story.

This both saddens me and gives me hope. Because, if this beautiful creature can look amazing while feeling rubbish, there’s hope for us all. But self perception is the most important thing of all. All that matters, if how you see yourself. Women are like flowers: there are many colours, shapes, sizes, smells, each intriguing in their own way.

All flowers are beautiful. You may prefer a rose to a sunflower, but somewhere not so far away there will be someone who prefers sunflowers. And that’s looks alone.

There are a thousand ways how someone can be beautiful: Warmth, charisma, good health, kindness. The way someone speaks, the way someone moves, what people say. These things are true beauty.

Adams Family Actress Anjelica Huston once told super model Erin O’Connor, “You’ll never be pretty but you’ll always be magnificent”. Later, when asked about Huston’s comment, O’Connor said, “That was something someone said to her once and she passed it on to me. It wasn’t some big statement, it was just kind of, ‘Here’s a theory for you, honey, and it will get you through your life.'” But how did it feel to be someone who makes their living from their looks being told they weren’t pretty? “Well, it happened to her, so it was her experience,” she insists.

You will never be someone else. You can get all the surgery in the world, but you will still be you, at the core. You don’t have to be pretty like her, or like them. You can be pretty like you. And that’s the easiest, most freeing thing in the world.

You attract the energy you give off, so spread beautiful energies that people will want to surround themselves with, and that you will be content living within. Feeling confident and sure of ourselves makes us feel amazing about our choices and drives us to live and think in a more positive way. Period. In tern, those of us who are confident without a doubt appear more attractive than those that are insecure.  They radiate strength, passion, and in term, beauty. 

“Confidence is not “they’ll think I’m pretty.” Confidence is “I love my inner self too much to care.”

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