Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Unexpected Joys Of Moving To London

I'm having a bit of a bad day, more like a few weeks. I'm struggling with feeling burnt out, tired and anxious about work, life and everything in between. But in the midst of things, and to make myself feel a little bit better about everything, I've decided to write a few little things about the good things about moving to, and working in London.

1. Friends

My first few years out of University, I navigated pretty alone with the support of my family and my new work colleagues and flatmates. It was great to meet new people, but being in London has meant I've reconnected with a large amount of people I went to University with.

Going from seeing them once or twice a year to almost weekly has been brilliant (but sometimes overwhelming). I'm still recovering from two weekends of house parties that made me feel like I was back in my uni town.

2. Using my time more wisely.

Time has always been a source of anxiety for me. Not having enough time, having too much time. As an introvert, I crave time alone with my thoughts, even if it's making a nice dinner or switching off with some Netflix after work, these things are pretty essential to me.

But being in London, with a commute that's longer than a 20 minute walk and longer working hours, I never thought that I would voluntarily make plans for after work, knowing that it'll take me an hour to get back home afterwards and knowing that I'll be a bit tired the next day. It's pretty liberating.

It also made me reaslie how much time I used to waste. I'm hoping once the evenings get later, I'll be able to have a bit more motivation to do more.

3. The Freedom

I love exploring London. I love how easy it is to hop on a train or tube and be in the centre of it all. I can't wait for more weekends spent in the sun visiting museums and places I haven't been to before.

I also love that a trip into London isn't a big trip. I can spontaneously book tickets to see some theatre or make a quick dash in on a Sunday and still be home in time for dinner.

4. Career experience

As much as I am stressed, the career experience will be invaluable - note the will. I know I need to power through, learn from my mistakes (and there have been many) and come out the other side with a load of experience under my belt. I just hate that I had to go to London to do it.

Here's to a hopefully less stressful and productive week. To ward off the Sunday worries, I'm having a cup of decaf tea and a chocolate hobnob whilst listening to The High Low podcast.


Sunday, 10 February 2019

6 / 25 - Books I've Read So Far In 2019

It seems like everyone has caught the reading bug this year. My twitter was filled with new year's resolutions about wanting to read more and I was no different. In a bid to 'consume more culture' rather than spend hours scrolling through social media, I set myself a challenge to read 25 books this year. I'm actually also keeping tabs on Goodreads (which you can follow me here on if you fancy) which is where I get a lot of recommendations from people I follow.

I also joined the library this year, and where I have got most of these books from. I no longer have the space to house lots of books anymore, most of mine were packed in a box when I moved to London. Hence why the library is great. No, I can't get the latest book that is featuring on everyone's Instagrams, but I love looking around and picking up a book purely based on the description on the back. I tend to go for romantic comedies or period stories. Who knows, one day I may venture into crime or something equivalent, but these books have kept me in my own little bubble on my commute.

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

I usually always watch the film of a book first, but with this, although knowing a little about it as I had seen adverts and trailers from a few years ago, I liked not knowing the full story before and having a film to compare it to. Looking for her next book topic, writer Juliet receives a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey. Set in the aftermath of WW2, she travels to Guernsey and discovers a literary group who meet after their founding member disappears.

The book is written entirely in letters - a little different than your usual read and a really charming way of moving the story along. I did however find the introduction of characters a little hard to follow, but that also could be my quick reading style and a noisy reading environment.

It was lovely, heart-warming and basically everything I need a bit of escapism to be.

2. 1984 - George Orwell

This certainly did break the mould of the rest of the books on this list. I loved watching The Handmaids Tale and I think it's the sociologist in me that makes me really interested in dystopian society, but ones that could very easily become reality.

I was gripped by the story, I read it whenever I could and was instantly fascinated. In a world of 'fake news', I was especially intrigued about the way in which the "Party" looked to control the media and even the creation of new language to stop spreading wrong ideals.

I really would urge everyone to grab a copy and read it. I found it gripping and a worrying sign of what could become reality.

3. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simpson

This had been on my to read list for a little while, although I never picked it up. Don Tillman, socially challenged genetic professor looks to find a wife when he meets Rosie who goes against all the criteria he is looking for.

I loved the character of Rosie and how she slowly brought Don out of his shell. The ending was particularly charming, because who doesn't love a happy ending? I think there is also a sequel, so I'll be looking out for that soon.

4. Dear Mrs Bird - AJ Pearce

This was slightly along the same lines of the first book on this list. I think it must be my love of Call The Midwife and my nan lending me books about women in the war that made me pick this up.

Aspiring journalist Emmy finds herself working for a declining women's magazine, typing up agony aunt letters rather than being a war correspondent as she dreamed. I really liked the character of Emmy, and her best friend Bunty. With a few twists and turns in the backdrop of WW2, it was a sweet read.

5. Us - David Nicholls

This book was beautifully written, switching seemlessy between the past and present in a way that wasn't confusing. It was full of detail about Douglas and Connie's 25 year marriage and Doug's attempts to rekindle their marriage, and his relationship with his son as they go on a big holiday around Europe before their son Albie goes to University.

I really loved this book and even though the ending was a little unexpected, I felt happy with the way it was finished.

6. Becoming - Michelle Obama

This was one of my favourite Christmas presents and I've been keeping it as a book to read before I go to bed rather than take on my commute (also because it's quite heavy!). I absolutely loved reading about Michelle Obama's childhood, early career and her experiences of being the First Lady. She is so inspiring and it's a really great read.

I've got my next three books ready to go, which are Bridget Jones's Baby, Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland and The Cactus by Sarah Haywood which I'm looking forward to reading next.

Any book recommendations, please send them my way!


Friday, 11 January 2019

Ways I'm Making London Bearable

The end of 2018 was a pretty big change for me. I changed jobs and moved to London. For someone who had worked and lived in small(ish) towns and cities, this was a huge change for me personally and professionally. I was terrified - and still am to some degree- but I'm trying to navigate through the craziness, whilst still holding onto a few of the things that I am used to.

One that doesn't apply to everyone is that I still have my car. In the short amount of time I had to find a place, I opted for a higher number zone. There are pros and cons to this which I would love to do another post on, but having my car makes me feel a little more connected to my family, plus the ability to drive to the nearest Lidl is a lovely feeling.

I have a few little habits and rituals that I have taken from each living situation I've lived in. From a student to being in a house share, batch cooking has been a sense of comfort and security. I currently have 5 portions of sweet potato curry in the freezer ready for this week. Yes, I end up eating the same thing, but having some sort of order makes my little amount of time I have in the evening stretch a little further.

As it was the first week of January, I had some things I needed to tick off my to do list. This included signing up for the GP and changing some addresses which makes the move seem a little more permanent. I also joined the library, which, whilst wandering around the quiet hall, made me forget about the hustle and bustle of London life and have a little bit of peace. Plus, I now have some great books for my commute.

I'm also trying to meet up with my friends. I never had my university friends in such easy access, and although work schedules are hard to match up, it's great to reconnect with some people, and spend more time with those who lived far away. I have always been a homebody, but my first month here, I met up with friends once or twice a week. Getting home any time after 9pm used to make me quite anxiety filled. But now, time isn't something that scares me.

It wasn't until I went home for Christmas that I realised that my worries and anxieties about living and working in London including money issues, feeling like an impostor at my new job amongst other things were things that almost all of my friends have experienced or are currently experiencing. It made me feel a lot less alone and more something that we have to get through. 

So here's to a new year, and trying to navigate the craziness of living and working in London. 


Saturday, 10 November 2018

Things I've Learnt Living In A House Share

1. You'll question humanity multiple times, especially around dinner time when you want to use the nice pan but someone hasn't washed it up since last weekend.

2. You'll cave eventually and do everyone's washing up but grumble constantly and send a passive aggressive whatsapp message about it.

3. Talking is often the best way to get anything solved, but surely you shouldn't have to tell someone to clean out the sink of rice, right?

4. You can actually make some friends and in all seriousness, it's a great way to meet people when you move somewhere new.

5. You'll actually be sad when someone leaves. How dare they have any other people to hang out with and move in with their boyfriend?

6. I've learnt to sleep through quite a lot of noise, except the noisy gamer housemate who 'forgets that you're in the house' when he's shouting at his World Of Warcraft game at 3am.

7. You'll silently judge each person who comes around to view an empty room. They had better be house trained.

8. You'll come to the realisation that the house is, and always will be a little bit shitty, but the idea of scouring Spareroom and having to move again is a bit too much effort.

9. There'll always be some sort of weird substance in the sink / some weird smell in the fridge / some strange food cooking.

10. Don't expect anyone to do any cleaning up..ever


Saturday, 28 April 2018

Shit Happens... let's play a game about it

I love moaning about adult life, and when I'm not moaning about adult life, I do love a night in with a few drinks playing a board game. Now, I do enjoy a good game of Cards Against Humanity, especially with a few drinks involved with my house mates, or even my family, so when I was asked to try this new game, Shit Happens, I was instantly intrigued.

The game has 200 cards, or Shitty Situation Cards which each has an event that could happen. They rank from something minor like stepping on lego or your mum complaining about her sex life, to more problematic scenarios like learning your partner is your first cousin and being buried alive.

They are apparently ranked by a panel of 'qualified grown ups'. I can't say I agree with all of the rankings, personally I think losing my laptop or a partner screaming an ex's name during sex would be disastrous, but that's kind of the fun of it too.

To start the game, you pick three cards randomly to start off your 'Lane Of Pain' in numerical order. One player picks up a card, reads the shitty situation and the player to your right has to guess where the card will go in their lane of pain lineup. Guess it right you win the card, guess it wrong and it goes to the next person and so on. If you win a card, you add it to your line up and the game ends when someone gets 10 cards in their lineup.

It actually took us a while for anyone to win any cards as some cards were surprising with their scoring, but maybe I am not a totally qualified adult like the ones who picked the ratings! The game got a lot harder with the more cards you win, as trying to predict where they would come up in your lineup was difficult when some ratings were so close together. We did actually have quite a giggle with some of the scenarios which were totally bonkers.

This is a fun idea for a game, and a great starter to a pre drinks (or a night in like us!) in a house share or university halls. If you're looking for a new card game to add to your growing stash, this is a good one to try, and you can realise, or reaffirm, how shitty adult life is at the same time.

Thank you Cheatwell games for providing me with the game to play and try out - you can buy the game here.


Monday, 9 April 2018

The Graduate Diaries | Two Years On...

Maybe I should start calling The Graduate Diaries, The Adulting Diaries because I still feel like I am trying to navigate life after university.

This stage of life is very strange, and no one really prepares you for it at all. There are some friends who are moving in with their boyfriends / girlfriends, some married, some pregnant, some still in university, some in amazing jobs and some who are still struggling two years on to find something permanent.

I need to remember that everyone has different timelines and everyone wants different things. There is no one size fits all for life after university. Not only are you adjusting to moving back home, or moving somewhere completely new, you're losing the safety university life. For me, adapting to the working world, was a massive step, and is much harder than it imagined.

The last seven months in my second job have been an eye opening experience. I've had to grow up, take risks and speak up more than I have ever had to do before. I'm given real responsibility and have to bear the consequences if things go wrong. I have to balance working professional relationships, personal relationships whilst trying to eat healthily, fit in some form of exercise (because that's what adults seem to be able to do) and resist the urge to buy homeware I definitely don't need. So things could be a lot worse, I don't have a family or people who are dependant on me to have to think about, but even then, the thing with different time lines is that I see other people achieving different things.

I also think that social media in your post-university timeline is really interesting. During university, posting selfies, pre-drink poses and club photos was seen as the done thing, to show everyone what an amazing time you are having. You don't post about all the times you were in the library, stressing over an essay or dissertation. I feel that with a lot of my friends, and even my self, you have to show yourself in working life that you can have it all - a relationship, friendships, eat healthily and have a job. Bonus points if your job is something really exciting. It's like we're all trying to prove that we can do it and function. It isn't until you see those people in real life where you realise that things aren't all as they seem. They're having problems living at home, they hate their job or they just broke up with someone and not taking it well.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, but talking to a lot of my friends who are graduating this summer and friends who I haven't seen for a long time, that there is no one way to navigate life after university. It's hard, you'll feel lonely, you'll feel like you're falling behind whilst simultaneously feeling ahead.  You'll sometimes crumble under the pressure of adult life and adult responsibilities, but you'll also thrive and grow more as a person. Start focusing on yourself - self care is so important in whichever way you find best, surround yourself with supportive people, but come out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Everyone's still learning. We can do it.


Saturday, 10 February 2018

F.R.I.E.N.D.S Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations Of Adult Life

So no one told you life was gonna be this way.

I am starting to feel pretty lonely. I've always been a homebody, when I am very rarely out, I desperately want to make my excuses to get back home. But then when I'm home I want to be around people again.

This isn't always the case. I love being by myself, doing things for me, and not having to deal with other people, but sometimes, I wish I had my support network with me. In my post about the life lessons my friends taught me, it made me realise how much I value, cherish and love my friends. But living miles away from them is pretty tough.

And that's where Friends comes into all of this. Watching it as a 13/14 year old who definitely didn't understand a lot of the jokes, I couldn't wait for adult life. Living out your twenties with a group of friends who hung around in coffee shops, had dinner together, who went out on new dates every week and gossiping about it afterwards was what I always wanted.

I'm at a point now where I have come to terms with life definitely not being like that. And sometimes, actually most of the time, I'm okay with it, but sometimes I'm not.

Whilst I have great and lovely housemates, we rarely spend a weekend together. We value each other's alone time, and many of them have partners or work colleagues they see. I don't have those other people outside the house to hang out with. That's the problem with moving somewhere new, or even moving home after university.

And how do you even make friends as an adult anyway? I tried going into the staff room at work today in the hope to meet some new people. It was a total fail. There wasn't many people coming in or out, and if they did, we sat, in silence on our phones. I'm desperately looking for an activity to get involved with, hopefully things will get easier when it stops being so dark after work.

Yes, my life's a joke, I'm broke, and my love life's DOA, but I'm finding adult life to be a little lonely.

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