Friday, 15 June 2018

Photo by Edu Grande on Unsplash

So music has always been a massive part of my life. Most of my memories are paired with songs or albums which I was listening to at the time. When I think about my childhood in Oxford, I think about Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, The Killers and Jamiroquai. When I think of high school, I think of Black Veil Brides, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold and Marilyn Manson. When I think of college, I think of The Front Bottoms and French jazz music.

I've always loved playing music too. I used to play the flute and take singing lessons in high school. When I was a toddler, I used to stand on a chair and play my grandad's keyboard. When I started to get into Metallica, I begged my parents for a guitar because Kirk Hammett made playing it look so easy!

These are the 10 albums I have picked out which have stuck with me up until now. Some, I found pretty recently and some have been strong favourites for years! Each means a lot to me! Let me know what your favourite albums are. I'm always looking for new music to listen to!

Adore - The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins are one of my all-time favourite bands. My parents listen to them and I followed suit back when I purchased this album in high school, my first album of theirs. This album is so calm and almost eerie. I adore Billy Corgan's voice. I can't describe it, it's just so beautiful and different. I like to listen to this calming album when I'm reading. It blurs into the background so nicely.

Favourite track: Perfect

Ten - Pearl Jam

Another one I found through my mum. She has always been a fan of this album and I shocked her one day when Jeremy came on the radio and I sang along. I had heard it on Kerrang a few days before but didn't catch the band name. She proceeded to tell me about Pearl Jam and although I love their other music, their debut album will always be my favourite. When I moved to Manchester for university, I would listen to Pearl Jam Unplugged on my iPod on my walk to work. It is still played non-stop and I will never tire of the album, both normal and unplugged.

Favourite track: Black

Tapestry - Carole King

Just before I started uni for the first time, I started to watch Gilmore Girls. It helped me through freshers when I felt super homesick and alone. I would curl up on my bed in my student accommodation and binge watch Gilmore Girls every evening. It was my little comfort. While in this space of time, I found out who sang the theme song and decided to find more of her music. I listened to Tapestry by Carole King non-stop on Spotify for a week before buying the vinyl. To this day, it is my most played record and it's like a musical comfort blanket for me. I can't be sad when listening to this album.

Favourite track: So Far Away

Atlas: Space - Sleeping At Last

A few summers ago, I spent a lot of time listening to character-themed playlists on 8tracks. My favourite character to search for at the time was Grantaire from Les Miserables. On quite a few Les Miserables themed playlists, Sleeping At Last songs were included. Every time I came across one, I would be struck by how beautiful this music really is. Their entire Atlas collection of music is beautiful, but I have always felt drawn to the Atlas: Space collection. Each song is named after a planet and each is incredibly beautiful and emotional.

Favourite track: Earth

Controversy - Prince

Ah, Prince. My ultimate fave. My favourite album by Prince changes all the time and I am sure that if I were to write this post in about a month, I would choose another album. Perhaps Purple Rain or Parade. At the moment, Controversy is the Prince album which I listen to most. Either that or I just put on the This Is: Prince playlist by Spotify. I just generally love his music and I wish that I could have seen him perform live.

Favourite track: Controversy

Talon of the Hawk - The Front Bottoms

In college, I discovered one of my favourite bands through my friends. The Front Bottoms. I was so lucky to see them on tour just before my 19th birthday with a really good friend. To this day, it is still my favourite gig I have ever gone to. Their music just has a way to get me all happy and excited. I love all of their albums, but these days I just tend to really gravitate towards Talon of the Hawk.

Favourite track: Peach

Black Panther (Soundtrack) - Kendrick Lamar

Recently, I haven't been able to get enough of listening to the Black Panther soundtrack. Black Panther is my favourite Marvel film and I was lucky enough to see it three times in the cinema. The soundtrack really pulls it together and I love it so much! It's perfect to listen to on my walk to uni in the morning to really get me hyped up for the day ahead!

Favourite track: Opps

The Pale Emperor - Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson is another artist who I cannot get enough of. I tend to listen to all of the albums on shuffle, but when choosing which to put on this list, I felt drawn to The Pale Emperor. It's easier listening which is what I have needed recently. Background music when I need to focus on my work.

Favourite track: Third Day of a Seven Day Binge

Ride the Lightning - Metallica

Metallica has been my favourite band on-and-off for years and I always seem to come back to them. They bring energy and power when I need to get up and go and are great to listen to when exercising or walking somewhere. In high school, I bought Guitar Hero Metallica and ended up actually getting an actual guitar because I wanted to play like Kirk Hammett. Unfortunately, I'm not even close to being that good at guitar, and I still envy Hammett to this day.

Favourite track: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Bookends - Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel bring back so many memories. In my primary school choir, we used to sing Bridge Over Troubled Water. I would listen to it time and time again. Bookends was the first full album I listened to by them and I have worshipped it since. My dad loves Simon and Garfunkel, and while I sometimes prefer Paul Simon's solo work, they do hold a very special place in my heart.

Favourite track: America

Do you like any of the albums on this list? What are your favourite albums? I would love to know! x

Monday, 14 May 2018

It's back! My weekly diary posts are starting up again after some time off! I feel like since I stopped writing these I've felt less aware of what I've accomplished each week and less motivated to do anything! Time for some changes around here! Ready to join me?


  • It's a bank holiday, which means having to pick up an extra shift at my retail job. I was given the afternoon shift, which meant having some time before work to do some assignment writing! 
  • I did a lot of my uni work from bed before hopping in the shower and getting ready for work. 
  • It's such a hot day today so I managed to find a skirt which was appropriate for work and I picked up an iced coffee on my way in. Gotta get that caffeine! 
  • Nothing much to report from work, it was too warm and pretty busy. When it came to closing time, I was super tired and sat out in Picadilly Gardens for a while before heading home on the bus. 
  • Not the most interesting day to kickstart my PYT posts again but that's just the way these things go!


  • I got up at a fairly reasonable time today and went to uni to get some assignment writing done. This is after I took some product blog pics in my pyjamas for the post since the lighting was coming through my window beautifully and I use my bed for the backdrop of a lot of my pics since I don't have a lot of space in my student room. 
  • Before I started my assignment in uni, I finalised a blog post and spent some time promoting it and scheduling some tweets before getting on with the work! 
  • I left uni a bit earlier than planned and had to skip an event I was really excited for because I started to feel unwell and just wanted to get home and have a lie-down. 
  • I spent the evening preparing for the internship interview which I have tomorrow. I am so hopeful for this interview since it's the summer internship which I have felt most drawn to out of all the internships I have looked at. Since I want to go into marketing after my degree, it is the perfect opportunity and I want it so badly. It's also paid which means that if I get it then I can definitely afford all my rent over the summer and also get some savings together! Fingers crossed!


  • I got up, showered and got dressed up for my internship interview. It was so nerve-racking and I had trouble finding the building where the interview was held. Typical me! When I got to the interview, I realised that I had met one of the two interviewers before and she immediately recognised. I felt like I really clicked with both the interviewers and we got along well. They were both so friendly and it really put me at ease! I felt like we were on the same page about everything we discussed and I even showed them some of my previous relevant work. I may have blundered a few times in the interview but I think it went better than I had expected! 
  • I immediately met with some friends in uni, ate a wonderful toastie and got some more of my work done! We all decided to hop on the bus and head into town for a bit of chill time. 
  • I picked up some lovely goodies from Primark, Monki, Home Sense and Lush before we headed home. 
  • I lit a lavender and sage candle which I had bought from Home Sense and it really filled my room with a calming aroma. I managed to get a lot of my work done this evening. Enough to lead me to believe that I will finish my two last assignments of the year by tomorrow evening! 
  • I read a bit of How To Stop Time by Matt Haig in bed and now I'm ready to turn the lights out and get a good night's sleep!


  • Another day of going to uni early to get work done! 
  • While I was writing my assignment, I received a phone call to tell me that I have got the internship which I interviewed for yesterday!! I'm so excited! It means that I can afford my rent this summer and that I can get some great experience in marketing! 
  • I managed to get loads of work done in uni and also attended a seminar where my group work project was displayed! All in all, a productive time in uni! 
  • I then headed home with a friend to catch up on Riverdale, which was so good! We were yelling at the screen! 
  • I finished both of my last assignments of the year and got into bed at a decent time!


  • I submitted my final two assignments after a quick proofread!! 
  • It's payday which means a trip to Wetherspoons with the workmates. We got there fairly early for food and had a couple of drinks into the evening. I have not laughed this much in so long! We had such a good time!
  • While I was in town to meet my friends, I managed to pick up a few essentials from Lush to restock my shelf.
  • That's about it really, I was super tired after this week so I headed home early and I am so ready to sleep!  


  • Not the most exciting day! 
  • I cleaned the kitchen and bathrooms before getting ready and going to work for the afternoon/evening shift. 
  • I got home at a reasonable time and I just finished watching a documentary so it's time for bed!


  • Today was a bit more interesting than yesterday! I worked the early shift so I had the afternoon free after work! 
  • A couple of friends and I went to Pizza Hut after work and then to the shops! I stocked up on Pixi Glow Tonic and bought a lovely new bra! 
  • Once I got home, I spent the evening catching up on YouTube videos and reading. It's been lovely!

What a busy week! How was your week? x

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

My hair is in the best condition it has been in years and I wanted to do a post all about what I did to improve my hair quality and what products I use every week to keep it in good condition! Expect a rant about how darn good everything smells too! I love a good-smelling hair product!

In the shower!

So, years of using the same cheap shampoo had stripped my hair of all its oils and goodness and made it look super dull and lifeless! I don't know why it took me so long to switch up my shampoo and conditioner, maybe I was just in a solid routine of buying the same thing without wondering whether or not it worked for me! It clearly didn't. I replaced my shampoo, conditioner and daily heat protector spray with the Garnier Ultimate Blends Delicate Oat range and it has transformed my hair! Using the shampoo and conditioner is lovely because they smell so good and the shampoo lathers up like a dream! This is how shampoo is supposed to feel! Even after switching the products for the first time, I could clearly see that they were nourishing my hair way more than my old hair products!

As for the heat protector spray, it has the same wonderful smell and feels great and lightweight in the hair! I have been trying not to blow-dry my hair or put any heat on it at all lately since the weather has been warm and my hair dries pretty quickly on its own. Instead, I spray sea salt spray onto my hair while it's still wet and it helps to give it some more texture when it dries. I used to use the Fudge Salt Spray (nothing beats the smell of this) but lately, I was a bit more broke than usual and I picked up a Primark Salt Spray for £2, which does the job!

Yes, I dye my hair!

I decided to finally pay attention to my neglected roots and dye my hair again for the first time in months! I used the L'Oreal Casting Creme Gloss, as I always have ever since I was about fourteen years old! It always leaves my hair looking super healthy and smelling wonderful! I used the colour 'darkest brown' and it looks so natural and glossy! Most importantly, my hair looks way healthier and so many people agreed when they first saw it! Casting Creme Gloss is only semi-permanent so it requires quite a bit of upkeep but it's also gentle on the hair and makes it feel so healthy and smooth!

Hair masks and pampering!

One thing I have begun to do is to pamper my hair and not just my skin! I discovered the magic of hair masks and I wonder how I never thought to try them before! There are two that I use regularly and they make my hair feel so SOFT! My favourite hair mask is H'suan Wen Hua from Lush. It is INCREDIBLE! I personally love the spicy deep smell, although I know some despise it, and I love the consistency, which isn't too thin or too thick so it spreads through the hair super well! The other hair mask which I love to use is the Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Mask, which is a good budget alternative to the Lush mask!

So that's about it! Switching up my hair products and finding what works well for me has completely transformed the condition of my hair and I'm super pleased with how my hair looks and feels now! What are your hair holy grails? x

Friday, 4 May 2018

I miss my weekly diary posts! It felt good to write everything down and put it out there. Like throwing my personal life out there and getting it off my chest and out of my mind! I may start up the Pull Yourself Together posts again soon but for now, I just want to talk about everything significant that's going on at the moment. Full disclosure. Holding nothing back!

Right now in this moment

My chest feels a bit heavy. I'm trying to pick myself up from a down day. I am a fully hormonal and emotional wreck at the moment and I've nearly cried more times than I can count today! I have been suppressing a lot of negative feelings for a while now and I feel like they are spilling over. My counsellor isn't free for a session until the end of the month and I am sick and tired of going to the GP so often lately, even though my GP is lovely and a total angel! I don't know if I want to speak about everything with friends either. We all have so much going on and I don't want to add to their heaps of troubles! The thing is, in the past few months I have become a sharer. I used to bottle everything up but in the past few months, I have done the opposite. I have almost become reliant on sharing everything with others and now that I don't feel like I should do that, it's becoming really hard to keep stable.


My grades dropped this semester. No matter how hard I have tried to write excellent assignments, it just hasn't been quite good enough. It's almost making me give up. When I got low, I didn't go to my lectures either, which has caused me to fall completely behind with university when exams are looming overhead. I'm not sure if I can pull everything together in time. I'm trying to go back to the way I was in first year, when I was getting great marks in my assignments and studying with intense motivation, but I am just so tired. It's stressing me out so much that I am smoking again. Not great!


Aside from my mental health, my physical health has also been up and down. I started having fortnightly periods. One week on, one week off, one week on, etc. Yeah, that's not ideal. They were also escalating in severity to the point where they are now as bad as they were in high school, before my prescription period medication and being on the pill. After a few weeks of tests to see what has been up with me lately, I finally got diagnosed with PCOS. I have known that I have this for a few years but in my hometown, my GP never took me seriously when I asked about it. However, my GP here has been so helpful and when I mentioned it and talked through my symptoms, he booked me straight in for an ultrasound. Goodness, PCOS gives me so many answers for things I have been experiencing for years. So many things which have been dismissed when I have tried to talk about them! I have also been super ill for the past week with a sinus infection. Not the greatest of times!

Good things

I realise now that a lot of what I have just written is all doom and gloom. There have been some good things! However, as you may know, memories are emotional things and we tend to remember events better if they evoke very strong emotions. That's why we remember all the bad stuff easier. It's just the way we're wired. However, I'm gonna rack my brains for some good stuff! I managed to go home and see my family a couple of weekends ago! It's my favourite! I saw my grandparents, cousins, parents and my lil teenage brother. I started using OpenLearn again to pick up short courses for free which is fun and interesting! I also got some great blogging opportunities which I loved being a part of, including being sent some lovely goodies from Simply Soaps which are a couple of my new faves! I also just ate the biggest and nicest piece of cake in the world from Manchester Museum. White chocolate and poppyseed cake, what a beauty!

When I was writing the PYT posts weekly, it was easier to keep track of the good stuff going on in my life and it pushed me to get out of bed and do more, so I could blog about it and share the experience. I think it's time to bring those posts back, are you ready?? x

Pull Yourself Together #14 coming Monday 14th May...

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Can you believe that April is already over?? It flew by, I didn't even notice it passing! As usual, let's delve into some of my favourite things from this month! This is quite a mixed list this month since I have been all over the place with stress and work and illness. However, when I have had some time to chill and take a step back, this is what I have been loving!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I can't believe I didn't start this show sooner! I was at my guy's house one night and we were looking for something funny to watch and I told him that I had been meaning to watch this for ages but never found the time. That night, we watched a good few episodes and fell in love with the show. Then, when I figured we could watch the next few episodes together, I found out that he had almost finished season 2 when I had been waiting to watch it with him! I vowed to catch up to him and haven't quite got there but this is definitely my new favourite show! I have never laughed at anything as much as I laugh at this! My favourite character by far is Terry, he's just so hilarious and sweet!

Starbucks Reusable Cup

I wanted to buy a reusable cup but really didn't have the money for anything too fancy. The reusable cups from Starbucks are £1 and are definitely sturdy enough for their purpose! When you carry a reusable cup, you can often get discounts on your hot drinks and this is the case at the cafe in the psychology building where I spend most of my time! It feels good to cut down on waste and also to get those discounts! They really do add up when you drink as much coffee as I do!

Pixi Glow Tonic

This stuff is so good! Just starting and ending my day with a swipe of this chemical exfoliant has definitely improved the texture of my skin, which feels so much more smooth and even! I had been dying to try it out for so long and I am so glad that I finally picked up a little bottle of it. It's lasting well as a little goes a long way but I will definitely be repurchasing it when the time comes!


When I got my Xbox 360 the other month, I stuck to playing games which I had played before and knew I loved. However, this month I became completely addicted to Borderlands after looking for something new to play for a while. I love the art style throughout the game and how purely fun it is to play! The soundtrack has also been a must for me while I've been writing all my essays!

Puma Basket Platform Patent Trainers

These trainers are my new everyday item of footwear! I love how they look and how comfortable they are! The red spruces up any outfit and I love how these trainers look with my usual black culottes or skinny jeans. I have been wearing these non-stop with no signs of giving them a rest! Definitely an investment worth making! I know, the pic is blurry af! I don't have them with me right now but I want to get this post out to you so I screenshotted a boomerang from my Instagram story (which is @jessistryingblog btw).

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

After a long spell of not reading much of anything, I delved deep into Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin and finished it in a single sitting! It was eerie, creepy and excellently written! I could not put it down! It is definitely a book which I will read again in the future and I will probably be rewatching the film soon as I haven't seen it in a long time! It was a quick read for me and this is definitely what I needed!

Muji Notebook, Pen Case and Pens

Back at the end of March, I went to London to see Hamilton! It was incredible! While I was there, I picked up some bits and pieces from Muji and I have been loving them! I bought a little notebook, which I use for all my blog planning and ideas. It's so nice to work on dotted paper as you can work portrait or landscape and still with the guidelines to write along. I bought a couple of 0.38 pens and a pen case to use with the notebook so that everything matches. It's also all so compact and easy to throw into my ten thousand bags which I switch up on the daily.

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

It wouldn't be a faves list if I didn't mention a personal development book! In April, I finally read the classic How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I am trying to gain more confidence in my interpersonal interactions and found this book incredibly useful! No wonder it's a long-time favourite for many people and has become such a classic! I will be picking this up and reading through certain chapters time and time again!

My tattoo

Yes, I'm mentioning this again! I got a lovely tattoo on my thigh! It is unfinished and will soon be sporting some more shading and a lil bee but it's so cute and I love it! It's also healing wonderfully which is a lovely relief!

Thank you for reading! What were your favourites last month?

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Monday, 30 April 2018

The lovely people at Simply Soaps sent me some products to sample and I must say that I love them! They use 100% natural and organic ingredients and they take care to make sure that their ingredients are sustainably and ethically sourced. Their website is a treasure trove of information on how they keep their company as environmentally friendly as possible and it is lovely to see! They clearly take great care to ensure their business has as little negative impact on the environment as possible!

As for the products I got to try out, here are my thoughts...

Hedgerow Herbals Rosa Passionata Moisturising Facial Serum

I'm not gonna lie, I was sceptical. I am very picky when it comes to skincare and I have a strict routine when it comes to serums. However, I am so glad that this serum was sent to me because I absolutely love it! Due to the fact that my face is a literal oil slick, I tend to use a good serum before bed and that is what I did with this. I was struck by how nicely it absorbed into my skin and how soft and smooth my face felt in the morning! It worked wonders and I will definitely incorporate it into my usual nighttime skincare routine, as I tend to alternate between a few serums with different effects.

According to the Simply Soaps website, this serum has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties. They give a great amount of information on the different active ingredients, telling you exactly what each ingredient does to the skin!

Geranium Rose Balancing Soap

This lovely soap has quickly become one of my daily essentials! I use this all over my body in the shower and I am struck by how healthy and soft my skin feels! Especially on my arms, which have always been quite dry and bumpy! In the shower, this bar lathers up beautifully and goes onto the skin nicely! I have found with soap bars that they can be too solid and hard, but this soap is lovely and soft! The smell that wafts into the steam of the shower is wonderful and soothing, it feels like a fully aromatherapeutic experience!

The lovely handmade soaps from Simply Soaps are so affordable and clearly made with care! I fully plan to repurchase this Geranium Rose Soap, as its natural ingredients feel so soothing and healthy on my sensitive skin! I am also desperate to try their Lavender Soothing Handmade Soap (we all know how much I love a bit of lavender) and their Guys Bar since I kind of love smelling a bit manly. I may also gift the Guys Bar to my man because these soaps would be the PERFECT gift! I would also love to try their Lavender and Orange Blossom Bath Bags, which are supposed to help with sleep, and their Lavender Toner (yep, I just love lavender)!

I am mentally making a list of what to order from the Simply Soaps website after trying and loving their products! I am also putting together a little gift basket for an upcoming birthday and I definitely think that a couple of these handmade soaps would be perfect for this!

What do you like the look of from this lovely brand? x

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* I was sent these products to review. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own

Thursday, 26 April 2018

I was brainstorming for blog ideas this morning and it struck me that I haven't talked about my body confidence and how it has changed and shifted over the years. I also have some advice that I want to share on the subject and also a little bit to say about how getting my first tattoo has affected the way I see my body.

I don't think I really thought about my body shape until high school. In primary school, everyone just got along and I only have good memories from that time in my early life. However, it wasn't the same in high school, which I think is quite common. I was beginning to see, and hear, negatives about my body that I just hadn't considered before. I felt fat and I began to dislike my features. In PE, I felt useless. I was told that I just wasn't trying at sports and needed to get on with it when what I really needed was the encouragement to improve rather than being completely terrified to go to another PE class. Comments were made about my nose being 'massive' and 'huge'. I remember one instance when I was told that I would never find someone who would go out with me unless they were blind.

Towards the end of high school, I obsessed over body image and tried all the home workouts in the world. In time for prom, I had slimmed down quite a bit and felt slightly better about myself that summer. I even wore a bikini once, but I was still pretty terrified and didn't wear it for long! It was the beginning of my on/off relationship with working out and fitness bursts.

College was a bit better in terms of my body image. I was riding the wave of the body positivity movement and I started my first part-time job so I was able to buy all the clothes I wanted to wear and dress exactly how I wanted. Gone were the days of having to wear a school uniform five days a week and then normal clothes twice a week. I was wearing MY clothes five days a week and then a fast food uniform twice a week. Even when I was putting on weight from stress eating during my A-Levels, I still felt super cute. I started experimenting more with makeup and funky clothes and I even cut my hair super short! I felt individual and suddenly my weight didn't seem like my defining feature.

College was a stressful but great time and I don't think I've ever had such a long period of body confidence! It was wonderful!

My first year of university was a really exciting and interesting time, as well as a stressful and scary one! I was in a new place with new people and I had to learn to be way more independent! During my first year, I started to enjoy cooking and I would make soups and curries and generally eat pretty well. Thanks to this, I lost a bit of weight and felt pretty good about this. However, my low mood started to become an issue and this had an apparent effect on my self-esteem in the second semester and heading into my second year.

In my second year so far, I have begun to seek help for my low mood and anxiety. I am on antidepressants and they did have an effect on my weight. I am bigger than I was last year. However, I have been working so hard on myself and my self-esteem that it doesn't seem to trouble me as much as I would have expected. I dress nicely and focus more on being present and being a good person and less on looking a certain way. At the beginning of the academic year, I hated the way I looked but now I have come to accept it as the way it is. I look like this and I will for a very long time.

I think the thing that helped me the most with my body confidence was seriously questioning my priorities. I believe that I am a fairly good person who is kind to others and works hard. This, to me, is more important than the way I look. I focus hard on my inner self, rather than my appearance, and I gain so much more joy from this!

I also learned that self-compassion and self-care are so much more important than tearing myself apart for the way I look! I wrote a post on 'Treating Yourself How You Treat Others' and I live by that phrase. If you wouldn't tear your friends down for the way they look, why would you do the same to yourself? It's all about treating yourself with the respect and kindness you treat others with!

I got a tattoo very recently too. It's still healing and I can't wait for it to be healed, I love it so much and it is beautiful! I have a tattoo of lavender on my thigh. I was never very fond of my thighs but now when I look at them I see this beautiful (albeit unfinished) bit of artwork and it makes me feel so good. It makes me feel pretty.

My self-esteem is a work in progress. I have a lot of days when I look in the mirror and think I look absolutely hideous. I look down at my body and see rolls and lumps and bumps and imperfections. However, sometimes I see a fairly well functioning body that serves its purpose and doesn't deserve to be hated and put down so much. Sometimes I think my curves are beautiful and soft. I hope to get better at thinking in this way more often than not.

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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

All through my education, I was taught that my academics and my grades determined my employability. I was told that if I were to ace all of my exams, my future would be bright, and if I failed them, then I was throwing my life away. The reality is, you can have great grades and not get employed, and you can have poor grades and still be super employable. Yes, the grades are important and it would be ideal to ace your education, but it isn't the be-all-and-end-all of your career!

So, what are soft and hard skills? Hard skills are skills which are easily measured. These are your grades, your typing speed, your mathematical ability, your training. They are things that you can be taught and things that you can easily prove to a future employer. Soft skills are harder to measure and harder to prove. These are your personality based skills which can only really be shown over time and by observation and interaction.

So if it's harder to learn and prove soft skills, why is it necessary or important to build them? It's important to learn them because you will be able to use them in the workplace to better your career, as well as use them to treat others well and in your day-to-day life. While they are harder to prove, they will be key points in references from your employer and can be shown by experiences (eg. if you have experience in counselling, it connotes listening skills).

If the way to build and display soft skills is through experience, this is what we need to focus on in order to show them to a potential employer. I decided to focus on building my soft skills this year in my second year in university, and it led me to things I had never considered before. I started this by saying 'yes' to a bunch of opportunities which came my way. I had used my university counselling service in order to attend group therapy and to get on top of my depression. This led to them offering me training to facilitate mutual support groups within their service. I also applied to be a 'peer mentor' for my degree programme, which involves connecting with first-year students and giving them support to helping them settle into university life. This involved more training and more connecting. I also volunteered as a 'Welcome Hero', welcoming new students to the university and coordinating trips to local tourist spots.

TopResume listed 6 Soft Skills Employers Are Looking For In The Workplace and all of these opportunities which I said yes to helped me to develop and display all of these soft skills.

  • The fact that I had taken up these opportunities and put in the time and effort outside of my already time-consuming studies displayed my strong work ethic. I was working hard and dedicating much of my free time to the student community around me. 
  • Working in peer support really helped me to work on my communication skills and helped me to come out of my shell. I am quite an introverted person and I would go out of my way to avoid meeting new people and putting myself out there. However, I am suddenly open to connecting with others and have found confidence in my ability to communicate my ideas. 
  • A lot of the opportunities I took required a lot of creative problem solving, as I was spending a lot of time dealing with people and coordinating events, each of which presented their own set of problems. If a facilitator had called in sick and I needed to take over from them, I had to come up with a quick plan of action for the session. If we were on a tourist trip and someone had taken ill, I needed to deal with the situation whilst also ensuring the enjoyment of others. 
  • Time management has also been a big factor in what I do, as I juggle a lot of projects and events around an already busy student schedule. I also work part-time and was already involved in some peer support programmes and a lot of what I do goes into my calendar. Scheduling and time management has become key!
  • It goes without saying that teamwork is heavily involved in most of what I do. It's so important for most projects and jobs that you are able to work within a team! I have been working in great teams of like-minded people in peer support and it's great to see the passion and commitment that goes on behind the scenes of all the schemes!
  • Next academic year, I will be able to gain a lot of leadership skills as I have already been given opportunities for next year to advance in a number of the projects and schemes I am working in! I am so glad that I took up the opportunities when I did because otherwise, I would not have this chance!

Since starting to say 'yes' to the opportunities that come my way, I have taken a certified first aid course, excelled in my peer support roles, taken great blogging opportunities and connected with lots of lovely people! My CV has also benefitted and my soft skills have developed greatly!

What do you plan to do to develop your soft skills? x

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Monday, 16 April 2018

That's right! I miss my teenage emo days! It seems like yesterday that I was listening to all the music I could find in Kerrang and dreaming about a time when Hot Topic would bring its beautiful stores to the UK, specifically near me in Wales! It was a good time! When My Chemical Romance was still together and I could solve all my problems by listening to Carolyn by Black Veil Brides over and over again! Here are a few more reasons why I miss these days!

I felt a part of something

The music that I listened to felt like part of my identity! It was all I thought about and pretty much all I talked about. Whenever I met anyone wearing merch from a band I liked, I instantly felt connected to them! I would find any way I could to be their friend and I met so many people like this! People I am still friends with! I wore my band tees with pride and loved it when people noticed them. Going to shows and signings felt incredible too because I felt a connection to each and every person there.

Having a sense of individuality

I thrived on sticking out in a crowd! I loved having a sense of individuality and causing a stir. I was in a more confident place than I am now and felt like making a statement with my clothes or hair or makeup made me different to everyone else. Unique and someone who could not blend into a crowd! I felt like a total badass and loved every minute of it! I miss that feeling!

My Chemical Romance was still together

Undeniably my favourite bad at the time, and possibly ever, was My Chemical Romance. I loved following them on social media and also finding fellow fans of theirs on social media! It was a massive fanbase and interacting with them made me feel like I had a massive community of friends! I would wait eagerly for new music, lose myself in the worlds that they created with their concept albums and listen to them non-stop!

I lived from gig to gig

Whenever I wasn't at a gig, I was thinking about what the next one would be! Granted, because I lived in a small town, gigs were few and far between and difficult to arrange since I would have to travel to get to them. However, the feeling of being at a gig was my favourite! My favourite bands were right there in front of me and they were actual REAL people. It would blow my mind! I also found being shoved around in a massive crowd very exhilarating. I want to go to see more live music like I used to.

Pulp stores and signings

On the odd occasions in which I could afford to travel to cities, my first destination was always Pulp! The clothes, the merch, the music; it was like heaven! Plus, I once went to a signing held at Pulp and it was all I could talk about for months! I had met and hugged the members of one of my favourite bands and it was amazing! The excitement that I had felt back then just being in these stores is funny to look back on. I do miss that feeling!

The makeup

My makeup skills were very questionable but I loved the way I made myself look! I would use white powder on my already pale skin to make sure I looked extra pale and I would apply thick eyeliner better than I ever could nowadays! I would buy this powder from Claires every time they stocked it for Halloween and it was my top makeup trick! I felt amazing! Sometimes in my room, I would put on makeup worn by my favourite band members! Especially those who wore a lot of costume makeup in their music videos!

Exploring my emotions

I would listen to a sad or angsty song and feel a sense of relatability. This would make me ask myself why I felt that way and led me to think a lot about my own emotions and really understand them! I became more in touch with my emotions than I ever have been and I think that was a very good thing! It made me more self-aware and definitely made me feel way more alone to listen to a song and know that the person who had written it had gone through a similar thing!

What do you miss about your early-mid teen years? Do you ever wish you could go back? x

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Supposedly, everyone has hobbies and things they love to do! I love to read. It has always been a passion of mine and I used to find myself lost in other worlds and other times. However, recently I have neglected this hobby, always telling myself that I don't have the time or that I have 1000 other things I need to get done before I can chill with a book. I have now come to realise that this is utter bullsh*t. I don't have the time because I don't make the time. I don't have the time because I spend hours scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds and watching YouTube videos that I'm not particularly interested in or learning anything from.

I don't mean to be the one who is blaming social media and the internet for all the ills in the world. I do learn a lot from social media and online media, and I do love to use them to connect with others and learn something new. I watch a lot of different YouTube channels and read a lot of blogs and feeds that do bring me joy and teach me a lot of new things about the world around me. However, this is a case of getting stuck down the rabbit hole and forgetting how to stop.

This isn't about spending a bit too much time on the internet, this is about spending entire days or weeks stuck on my laptop, taking breaks only to walk to and from uni. I don't even cook that much and tell myself that it's because I don't have the time. In reality, I have plenty of time.  Psychom have written an article on Internet Addiction Disorder and, although I know that I have not reached this level at all, I find it incredibly interesting (maybe even interesting enough for my dissertation, who knows?) and I definitely see how this could develop! We gain a lot of instant gratification from internet use, so much so that it becomes a massive part of a lot of our daily routines!

I have come up with my own little strategy for kicking myself off my laptop and into some 'better' activities or hobbies, and I think it could work for you too! You need to ask yourself whether the way that you are spending your time is worthwhile and fulfilling? Are your actions bringing you enjoyment and satisfaction or are you just in a routine that's difficult to break? I ask myself this every time I feel myself just occupying my brain by scrolling or passively watch something. It generally helps me to facilitate a task change to better use my time. Last night, I switched off my laptop early and read the entirety of Rosemary's Baby, a book I had intended to read for months. If I hadn't have done this I probably would have rewatched several YouTube videos before falling asleep on my laptop, a regular routine of mine. I found jumping into a book so much more rewarding and fulfilling and I hope to make it a regular thing.

Do you have the same issue of getting lost down the rabbit hole of the internet and how do you combat this? I would love to know your thoughts! x

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

I'm having one of those days.

This is me right now:

A bit of a different image from the ones I usually post of myself, right? It's 1pm and I have a GP appointment at 3:30 so I really should get up and have a shower. I'm just not feeling it. I've eaten three pain au chocolat and chugged a coffee and other than a quick trip to the kitchen, I haven't left my bed. I've been sat here doing my best to be productive since I woke up at 10. My hair has been scooped up into a scrunchie unbrushed and I've written part of a blog post and taken some pretty flat lays of whatever I can reach from my bed. For the rest of the time I've been up, I've mostly just been overthinking and curling up back into my bed, hoping that the world will disappear for a little while. I've been thinking about how I've gained weight, about how my health (mental and physical) is all over the place, and about all of the things I'm supposed to have done since I started my Easter holiday. My self-esteem fluctuates a lot and today it's totally and completely lacking.

The reality is, I was supposed to leave the house by 8:30 this morning. I was supposed to go to the library and get some studying done before the GP appointment. I woke up super late after turning off all my alarms (I can't remember doing this but I assume I did) and I immediately felt a familiar tightness in my chest. I forgot to take my meds (I should take those now) I don't want to leave my house at all today but I have to go to this GP appointment since my health is really worrying me at the moment and I promised my mum over the phone that I would go.

In the next 10 minutes, I need to get out of bed and throw myself into the shower. Or maybe in the next 15, 20 or even 30 minutes. Maybe in an hour. I am a pro at putting things off. When I have days like these, it's a miracle if I leave the house. I tell myself that I'm just lazy and a bad person. That i'm lying to everyone who thinks that I spend all day every day getting things done and being incredibly productive. I tell everyone around me that I'm fine and that I've been very productive today. I got up at a decent time and I am coping very well today. 

To be fair, most days I get myself up and out of the house at a decent time. I am good at getting lots done. I am very productive when I want to be and I successfully juggle several projects at once. However, when these days come I am absolutely useless. Thankfully, I had a free morning so this crash didn't exactly ruin my plans for the day. Once I'm out of the house and walking to the GP, I'll likely feel different to how I feel now. Once I'm out and about, it's way easier to push myself to get stuff done. I'm going to pack my bag for the library and hope that I can get myself to go and do some work this afternoon. 

I have no idea if this post 'flowed' at all or if it's a worthwhile read, I just wanted to show that we all have those days and it's okay to show others. It's just a part of life and not something to completely sweep under the rug.

See you soon for some positive content and lots of tip and advice! x

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