Falling in the depressing black hole of the social media scroll

socialmedia

I would really love someone to stand over me and snatch my phone out of my hands when I’ve had enough of the internet. This person or creature would need to be able to pick up on my sudden change of mood and be able to remove my phone or chuck my laptop out of the nearest window before I sink too far into the ‘why isn’t that my life?’ depression. If you fancy the job please submit your CV, I make a really good cup of tea.

It’s been written about to death, but the levels to which the internet affects happiness and perspective on young people right now is obviously still high. I see stuff about it every day. I am one of those people, despite how much I try to disregard the filtered view of others I get from scrolling social media and reading blogs, who still feel like they’re missing the mark.

When you’re scrolling through posts there’s always someone out there having a better day than you, having a nicer weekend than you, eating better food than you, forever buying new clothes, forever travelling to beautiful places and in the end, you just want to be someone who isn’t you. I don’t feel like this very often, but I know I spend way more time than is healthy glued to my phone and on social media. The other day I was sprawled on my bed in the evening feeling frustrated and angry at my body for making me unable to exercise due to a flare up of EDS and it took three things to turn my mood from annoyed to fully vile.

I saw a photo of someone on my Instagram feed in gym clothes looking pretty perfectly toned and posting about training for winter runs, I then got an advert targeted at me on Facebook for homeware I could never afford after snappily swapping apps. Then to finish me off I went into my emails and saw I had been invited to yet another PR event that I wouldn’t be able attend because it’s in the day and I have a job.

These three things, separately, don’t really mean anything. This person looking good on Instagram would not get a second thought from me 99.9% of the time. The most likely outcome usually would be me looking for where they got their leggings because they’re always so nice. On that evening though, it just amplified my ‘I can’t exercise and I’ve been comfort eating crap all day so I’m just going to get fatter and fatter’ mood even more. I just felt worse about myself and angrier at my health for looking at one photo.

The advert for homeware appeared because of the stuff I’ve been looking at for Christmas presents. Cookies and data collecting and all that stuff the internet does to advertise things to you came together to make me feel worse about money and worse about not being able to buy things for myself- this shouldn’t matter. I’m not a materialistic person. I don’t go shopping much. I don’t have online baskets full of stuff waiting for payday. I just suddenly felt inadequate and left out and behind from an advert telling me I need a marble crockery set.

The event thing is perhaps the most stupid. This happens fairly often to me and I usually just politely decline and don’t dwell. I have a job that I like and I’m happy in. I can’t go out in the middle of the day to meet PRs and have tea with people. I know that, yet that evening I was suddenly of the opinion that it was unfair, stupid and I shouldn’t have to pick between the two. Hello first world problems brat, how are you?

I don’t like the version of myself I feel when I overdose on the internet. Social media isn’t the place to be when you’re feeling down- not for me anyway. Sometimes it can lift me up- a lot of the time I consume it thankfully and I contribute. I post and tweet and will carry on doing so- I tried the whole digital detox thing and I hated it. When I’m feeling bad about myself, most of the time a jaunt on social media ends in a downward spiral of asking why I don’t look better, why my house doesn’t look as good as those I see splashed on online, why I don’t have more money and why I can’t afford six holidays a year.

It’s not pretty to fall down the black hole of the scroll and I really hope that as time goes on, young people get better at separating reality and filtered lives. I don’t know how that can happen but it’s definitely what I want for when I have children who despite my best efforts will most likely be scrolling themselves before I know it.

10 sources of happiness at age 26 and a half


The past few weeks have been stressful, busy and really long. When I say really long, obviously I mean they’ve gone ridiculously fast and here we are staring down the barrel of 2017 and more importantly, CHRISTMAS AGAIN! I’m just saying they’ve been long because it fits with my current ‘life is hard’ mantra. 

How it’s time to start wheeling out mince pies and making plans with every friendship group you have to go ice skating, I’ll never ever know, but this year it’s welcome. I need festive fun and lighthearted gingerbread snowmen and twinkly lights and all that other jazz. The lead up to Christmas is full of stuff that remind me of childhood happiness, which leads me onto happiness now. 

Happiness. Happiness when you’re aged 26 and a half like me, or you know, a few years either side of that. The past weekend has been a chance to breathe and do stuff that oozes happiness- mostly edible, but still, and I’ve realised how much happiness has changed for me. These days, these are the things that make me feel fuzzy or say YAY out loud: 

1) A really well baked cake. Like, a cake you can try while it’s baker eagerly looks on and comment on how moist it is and how perfect the filling is and ask what the recipe is even though you know it’s blatantly BBC Good Food. 

2) Rain. A day where it rains like the world is ending (let’s say Sunday) so you have the perfect, damp excuse to just stay indoors and not do the washing you had planned and not move much and feel actually rested. 

3) Waking up in a house that was cleaned the day before. I never thought I would be this person. I never thought the faint smell of bleach and clean bedding and lemony stuff would make me feel content BUT IT DOES. 

4) Waking up after 8am. Every week that passes sees my ability to sleep in diminish slightly further, even more so with a hangover. 

5) Quiet public transport. Yes, this is essentially a list of what’s most boring but isn’t it true? Isn’t people not shouting, not having loud phone calls with their cousin, not cackling and not arguing on your train carriage the greatest thing? 

6) Caffetiere smell. Needs no further explanation.

7) Those amazing ‘dine in for two’ meals that M&S started and now most supermarkets have copied that sometimes come with wine and can definitely be a dine in experience for one when the hunger is real. 

8) A really well ordered and empty inbox. 

9) Jeans that fit. I never really appreciated well-fitted jeans until this year when I discovered well-fitted jeans. There’s no going back to jeans that bunch up at the knee or slide down your bum. 

10) A clear, sunny view of my home city. 

3 simple things that mean much more as time goes by

I’m not trying be really wise before my time at 26 years old, I swear. These are just things I’ve noticed more and more, especially during the last year or so. Time still surprises me every day by how bloody fast it’s going, but it also surprises me how much change happens almost in secret. I can’t decide if I suddenly like realising how much life has shifted or if a bit of notice or realisation would be nice. Anyway, rambling aside- these three things, stuff I used to either not think about much or just never really realised, have changed a lot in my mind as I continue to rattle through my 20s.

1) Comfort food has taken on a whole new meaning 

Comfort used to be eating crisps and dip in bed when I was tired, hungover, feeling left out with friends or losing the hormone battle. It can still be those things, but now it’s mostly there for times when I feel like the entire world is trying to shut down my efforts to claw together a successful life. Bad day at work, messing up on something big, not hitting personal targets, realising finances aren’t what they should be, getting to grips with mortgages, bills, life savings and pensions. The list goes on. It gets a bigger, scarier and more serious list as time goes on.  Now comfort food is coming home after a long and exhausting day and sitting down for a little while to eat something you love without considering calories or how many spin classes are needed to burn it off and cutting yourself some slack. It’s something that can reset a terrible week. It’s so much more of a comfort now the stakes are higher. This might sound dramatic and I know a bowl of cheesy pasta doesn’t have healing powers, but food is a big deal. 

2) Productivity equals contentment 

I’ve never been lazy. I would say I’m quite the opposite in fact, which is why I used to consider any opportunity to lay around or sleep in as a massive treat. These days though, despite feeling tired most of the time, I can’t find much contentment from lazy days. It’s still a treat but I feel worse off if I take full advantage. I know it’s nice to lounge around in clean bed sheets and drink tea under the duvet and all that, but I feel like I’m wasting precious time if I’m not getting stuff done. This is definitely not what I would have expected from myself five years ago but it’s getting more and more true. Getting up early on a weekend and doing chores or being out by 9am makes me happy. Remind me of this when I have kids. 

3) Health is wealth 

It’s been especially prominent the past two years in my life, but I want everyone around me to be healthy. I want to be healthy. I want to be well and ready to get up each day and work hard and do well and I want that for everyone I care about. The worry and strain that the health of others can have on us is immense. I feel like health is wealth and it definitely helps with overall happiness too. I’m trying to hard to work on my own health, but I wish I could work on other people too. 

21 Sources of Childhood happiness that are still as good now

  
1) Tea and biscuits.

2) Pancakes on a weekend morning.

3) Listening to it rain from bed.

4) Saturday nights in with a 4000 calorie meal.

5) Coming home to the smell of dinner already being cooked.

6) Waking up to sun coming through blinds.

7) Watching homemade Yorkshire puddings rise in the oven.

8) Eating whole loaves of bread between 2 or 3 when only toast will do.

9) Having someone else paint your nails.

10) Being a ‘practice model’ for any kind of plait.

11) The smell of fresh washing coming in from the garden in the summer.

12) The smell of cut grass on sunny Sunday mornings.

13) Being told you’ve made a really good cup of tea.

14) Waking up in the middle of the night to go on holiday and being so excited despite it still being dark and having had about an hours sleep.

15) Being given any hot fruit pie for pudding.

16) Hot chocolate made at home properly on the hob.

17) Watching a storm with all the lights off but but never getting too near a window for fear of lightning striking.

18) Absolutely anything Winnie The Pooh.

19) Getting straight into a bath after getting caught in rain.

20) Any occasion that warrants a buffet style dinner.

21) Taking a duvet downstairs to the sofa for a day of not moving.

A friendship round-up

freinds wales

The last couple of weeks have been a really gross time. You know when you’re already down and your health kicks you? Well yeah, that. I’ve basically had a stubborn and really hectic cold that developed into a chest infection and of course, true to form, I had a holiday booked in the middle of it. My body loves to coast along and then dump as many germs as possible on me when I have nice plans. I still went to a lot of beaches and got fully involved with wine though so FU bacteria and viruses and life.

Being really ill was actually made a bit easier by something that sounds bad and I wish it didn’t happen, but all my friends have had a terrible couple of weeks too. Sharing the bad times made them a lot less bad. Eight of us (my uni friends) went to Wales for four nights and in that time we frequented A&E, an emergency dentist and spent a lot of time on NHS Choices. Between us we had two chest infections, a burnt hand, a sore throat, a cold and the lovely little sexy surprise of shingles. I shit you not. My friend actually got diagnosed with shingles.

HOW DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN?

It went from just me feeling like crap, my friend with some suspect mouth ulcers and feeling run down and once black filter coffee accident, to full bodily chaos. We survived the trip and did everything we wanted through sheer perseverance but seriously, what is the universe doing?

I’m just glad I have the sort of friends that instead of getting angry about me spreading a cold around, just started making puns and pouring flasks of hot whiskey. I’ve said it so many times before but choosing your friends carefully makes an enormous difference to life in general. Even when we’re all suffering, irritable, snotty, sore and utterly grim looking, my friends still come through and bring the good times.

Examining your friends infected mouth (shingles can be brutal yo) is not ideal weekend away times, but life happens. I’m glad that I feel confident enough in my mid-twenties to know I have friends that will ask if my nose is leaking ‘a nicer colour’ and top up my wine while they’re at it and still eat food I helped make.

I had a crap time with friends when I was a late teen and it took a while to work out what kind of group, and now groups, I wanted to be part of. I’ve done a pretty good job. I’ve found some good people. I’m smug about it. In the last five years I’ve made friends for life, met people who have impacted on me hugely, made friends abroad, friends at work and I’ve also culled friends and cut people out. Not in a horrible bitchy way or because I think I have a right to dump people, just because there’s little point in keeping people around who give you nothing back.

Some of the stuff about friendship on this blog has been the most read and most shared, so it seems to be a topic people can relate to:

Culling bad friends 

The kind of friends we all need

Unideal situations with friends

You get the point. I go on about friends and support a lot, but it’s when you’ve been reminded how lucky you are and how much friends matter that you may as well go on about it a bit more.

 

It’s about bloody time spring

IMG_8806-1

I really like weekends where you do a lot of one thing like sleeping for 25 hours or the polar opposite- being outdoors and full of beans for 2 days  But there’s nothing in life like hitting the nail directly on the weekend head and having the perfect amount of everything to lift you out of a massive rut and make you feel like a better, healthier, happier little human. AND FINALLY ITS NOT  DEEPEST WINTER.

We’re coming out of quite a shit time of year. It’s cold out, you probably don’t have masses of fun planned, you have to go away if you want warm weather, everyone’s got a cold and it’s just a bit Blergh. Although leaving work at the end of last week in the light made me feel much better about life. I’m so over the dark and the cold and feeling like I’m blindly trying to climb out of some wintery, lazy hole I’ve fallen in. I want to feel like one of those super cheery people you see on Facebook checking in at parks and picking daffodils and going on runs through fields (who are they though) because SPRING.
Tbh Spring, you could have come sooner. It’s been a long old winter and I’ve never felt so lethargic and lazy as I have done since January landed. Hibernation has been high. Procrastination has been strong. It’s time for longer days and sunnier weather and more time outside. I need vitamin D and I don’t know about you, my skin is about ready to just fall off and start a new life abroad without me. Dry, flaky and so dull and grim.
Thanks to two days of sunshine and despite a deathly sore throat I did the perfect amount of everything this weekend and finally feel like I’ve stepped out from under my grumpy, miserable rock.
I spent a couple of hours strolling around shops and a long old time in Boots finding something to undo the damage winter has inflicted on my face. We also walked the two miles home because the sun was out and it wasn’t freezing and it wasn’t raining and what a miracle. Then I saw loads of friends at the pub, talked about rubbish, watched rugby, got a bit drunk, went on an epic dog walk the next day, showed a friend my favourite park in the world, had a long bath, did loads of body admin and laid under a blanket reading. The park btw, in the photo at the top, is called Morden Hall and it’s buried in deepest South London and you’ve probably never ever heard of it but it’s worth seeking out on a nice day. Oh and a certain genius pal of mine made slutty brownies and brought them to the pub (they’re apparently called slutty because they’ve got everything in them, ahem) with cookie dough and Oreos and ALL the chocolate.
The nicest weekend I’ve had in a long time and I’d like to give a big shout out to the sun and Spring and seasons and weather and lighter mornings and longer evenings. If this were a tweet it’d be finished off with a load of the ‘hands in the air praise be’ emojis.

 

 

Keeping friends and staying happy

IMG_8004

I know it’s said by so many people in their twenties every single day and might cause people to roll their eyes, but being an adult IS hard. I mean, there could definitely be less decisions, more freedom and longer annual leave allowances- I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s also hard to strike a good balance where you find time to do things that make you happy, if you can remember what those things are, of course.

I still think of really silly, small things as sources of happiness and a lot of them haven’t changed much from when I was younger. Stuff like pizza (you know it’s true), sleeping in, booking holidays, laying in really hot baths, swimming, cheese, melted cheese, baking- the list goes on in that fashion. Apart from it being fairly obvious that food with a high calorie content brings me joy, it also makes me realise how few ‘big’ things I can list.

I have my family, and I have travel which will always be givens and probably the same for loads of you, but the other thing is friends. I love my friends. I feel like  I’ve made good friend choices over the years but as you get older friendships really change. The dynamics of friendships and groups and how much time we have to dedicate to each other changes. Relationships start to play a part, work changes how we spend our time and then there’s the scary factor of people starting to move away. I’d happily round up my friends, go back to my uni town, put them all in a house and camp out there for a while, so I can see everyone and have the kind of buzzing social life I used to have. Maybe just minus the £4 corner shop wine.

I still make time to see my friends at weekends, and the ‘let’s get dinner’ thing has become a massive part of my working week. I would say I manage to get in a couple of after work social sessions a week and they definitely help to break the monotony- but I feel like when you spend a lot of time being ground down by life and feeling tired from work, you need your friends.

You need the boost of a stupid message with a link to something funny. You need the offer of a few drinks on a Friday or a few hours roaming around shops and talking about life. Also, I feel like friends are really important for later in life, so it’s important to put the time in now.

I’m going away with some of mine in a couple of weeks and now it’s looming nearer I literally can’t wait to go. I just want to be with my friends for more than a couple of hours. I want to lounge around with them and eat bad food and stay up late and relax and feel human again. I also want to feel the way I do when I spend a lot of time with people who I’ve chosen as life companions-  cheerful and refreshed.

Hygge: what it is and why we all need to embrace it

  
Lots of people claim that the lead up to Christmas is their favourite time of year. Things get wintry and we all lose our shit over mulled wine, fairy lights and pop-up ice rinks. We’re adorable really. Oh and if you know what’s good for you you’ll be well into experimenting with putting toppings on mince pies- peanut butter, vanilla cream, Biscoff, jam (seriously, get involved). 

 A good friend of mine emailed a BBC magazine article about Denmark and the concept of hygge to me a while back and I fell hook, line and sinker. It’s exactly what I want to embody in life and it makes me want to take my savings and run away to a new life in Scandinavia immediately with a wood cabin and my own sleigh. 

As the article says, hygge is all about shooing away the darkness and using your loved ones and happiness to create a feeling of warmth and joy. It’s also about being cosy, making things comfortable, feeling safe and contented and coming together to get through the harsh winter months. Now, I may not live in a freezing country (ahem) and I really usually wouldn’t go in for this stuff (in fact I would normally screw up my face and be all ‘urrghhh hand me a mulled wine and shut up’) but this is too adorable. I want to be cosy and contented with twinkly lights and friends and candles etc etc.

They really do life well in that part of the world. 

 

I ended up sheltering from gale force winds and rain after journeying an hour across London to go to a Christmas market with friends last week only to get there and see it being packed up. We then walked around, freezing, and ended up at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich hoping to get mulled wine, but the hut had also closed (sort it out Greenwich, 6pm is not late). We ended looking out at the city sparkling on the other side of the river and then after running to get out of pouring freezing rain we fell into a nandos, ate until we could barely move and laughed at pretty much everything from a warm, comfy corner. That was pretty hygge. I felt fully hygge. I’m going to make it happen or try my hardest until people start telling me to ‘stop trying to make hygge happen. It’s never going to happen.’ 

In all fairness, hygge is so fetch. I like to think Regina George found hygge.

Anyway.

There’s so much going on in the wider world right now that terrifies and horrifies us all on a daily basis. It’s grim and it’s bleak and at the moment Christmas is just about breaking through and making things feel a bit better. Not even better, just.. More bearable, even if it’s temporary. I’ve even stopped watching the news everyday to try and escape some of the misery, so hygge is welcome. If we all let a bit in and tried to feel content with what we have the world might slightly improve on the happiness scale. Hygge won’t be solving world peace or bringing an end to crisis, but I like to think it could bring a bit of joy, even if it’s one night in with wine, food and big bobbly socks.

   

When did our 20s become the era of paranoia?

thumb_IMG_1450_1024

I’ve read enough articles, lists, blogs and spent enough time on social media (believe me) to know that a lot of people in their twenties spend a massive proportion of their time worrying. Girls especially, but that might just be my skewed view as I follow more girls on social media, read women columnists more and generally get a lot of my material from blogs- predominately written by females.

I fall into the worrier category. I fall into it so hard I would like to put myself forward as team leader, get us all uniforms and arrange the Christmas social so we can talk about what we’re scared of over some gins and then get cheesy chips after. (Genuinely, I would be up for this).

I don’t know when it happened, it certainly hasn’t always been this way, but I literally spend my life paranoid and it’s mostly about health, money and other people. Having a chronic illness nestled within my body wreaking havoc doesn’t help, and I have plenty of very good, medically certified reasons to be worried, but I go beyond those. I just worry for worry’s sake. It’s pretty much my hobby now. But thanks to the power of the internet and very few thoughts being sacred, I can (sort of) relax in the fact I’m not alone.

My peers are just as paranoid as me.

God, we need to sort ourselves out. Whenever I read a tweet from a friend who’s worrying about something to do with health or finance or any other young adult topic, I just want to reach over and whisper “don’t worry pal, me too.” That sounds creepier than I intend it to be. But if you are one of these worrisome people, please try and take a breath and lessen the teeth grinding and anxiety in your stomach, you’ve got some company. There are others out there right now doing all the things we know are bad for us- Googling symptoms, scrolling through unrealistic Instagram accounts, comparing careers to people older and much more experienced and staring at our banking apps and thinking ‘where’s the money gone?’

Exhausting though, isn’t it? As much as I want to take a chill pill and feel the way I felt when I was about 20 (which by default was tipsy, warm inside and free) and roam around like I’m indestructible and totally on top of everything, I just can’t. The paranoia and the concern have crept up and taken hold and they’re not just here for a sleepover, they want to stay longterm. Cute. NOT.

It hasn’t been all bad- it’s given me ambition. It’s made do things outside of work that create work that ultimately make me extra money, help me get contacts and help me grow audiences for things like this blog- all because I was worried I wasn’t doing enough career wise. People actually read this blog, which is still amazing even now, and people actually reach out to talk to me off their own back and tell me they like my blog- even more amazing. So yeah, in some ways, I’m kind of thankful for it, but there has to come a time when it stops.

There’s only so much time in one day, and wasting too much of it worried about every ache, pain, thinner looking friend or more retweeted article than your own will only result in a downward spiral of misery. And making other people happy above ourselves, despite the fact we’ll carry on doing it forever anyway, is no good. It’s just no good.

Worried about your fertility? About your chances of buying a house? About your liver? About those headaches you get? Your overdraft? Your credit rating? Not being travelled enough? Not going out enough? Not getting enough attention from certain friends?

The list goes on and it could just get bigger and bigger and evolve the older we get, or we can learn to accept, which as someone who hasn’t got to that point can contest to- it ain’t easy.

This era of worrying might pass, and who am I to even speak for people in their twenties, I’m only half way through. I just want to worry less and I think I could round up a small (or maybe world domination size) army of people who would like to join me in that. Throwing away youth on endless amounts of worry and paranoia sounds awful and I do not want to look back and realise that’s what I did. I want to do EVERYTHING and have a lot of fun while I’m doing it.

Let’s go start a revolution shall we? (Or let’s just have an early night and not Google ovary disorders for a while). Baby steps.

Ever felt bad about yourself for not being what other people want you to be? Come join the club of EVERYONE. 

   

  

Sometimes I feel so horribly guilty about stuff that I shouldn’t give a second thought to that I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. What is more likely though, is that it’s society telling me I should feel bad and should act a certain way and look a certain way and feel a certain way, and if I don’t then I’m an outsider. I’m wrong and the trendsetters are right and I should go think about what I’ve done. Shame on me.

I go through phases of trying to eat mostly plant-based food (lol tonight I had nandos and mug cakes and two kinds of cheese) because it’s good for me and it’ll make me healthier and thinner and stronger and people will nod and clap and cheer. YAY GREEN JUICE. And then I remember Biscoff and tangfastics and it’s like, sorry broccoli hun, not today. 

I go through phases of trying to dress differently. I try to buy things that other people will approve of and get flustered and annoyed if I leave the house and something doesn’t look right because the thought of those strangers judging me on the tube is awful. Then I remember I like floral things and I like being warm and I like having comfy feet and it’s like, sorry over-priced, uncomfortable, not practical shoes, you gotta stay at home today. 

I also go through phases of trying to alter how I act to change people’s perceptions of me so they’ll accept me quicker or think I have a different, more appealing life than I really do. Then I remember that’s just a shit thing to do. It’s just so lame. And all other words that mean the same as lame in the theosauras. All of them.

This has been in my drafts for a while and I’ve never found time or really liked the way it read to finish it and hit publish. But this week has been a week out of the ordinary and for the first time in ages I haven’t even felt a glimmer of those thoughts, which might be why I can finally finish writing about them. 

It’s just so ridiculous that we all go about our lives concerned over what others are doing and looking at photos of people famous for doing not much else other than pouting on Instagram and having desirable eyebrows. 

It’s when unexpected things happen that thoughts like ‘I don’t want people to think I don’t double cleanse my face and eat courgetti’ become so bloody stupid. Like, what is our problem? I would rather not have so many bad, sad or down times that force me into putting things into perspective, but it’s definitely good on occasion to remember that I am what’s important, not strangers or judgement from people I likely would never share a friendly word with anyway. 

It gets bad sometimes. It gets so bad that I want to tell myself that I can’t sit with us. I would rather I go away to a corner and stay there. It would be grand if we could sometimes take out our overly conscious brains and stick them at the back of the wardrobe while we have some time off from worrying about appearances and how happy people think we are. There’s a market for personalised brain boxes on Etsy and I said it first. 

It’s not a groundbreaking, genius or bold statement, but wouldn’t it be good to keep our head together and in the real life game the way it fleetingly feels when we’re reminded that there are things way more important and meaningful to spend our brainpower on.