Positive Image

In the past few weeks I have seen a lot of posts on social media and blogs from girls I consider beautiful and flawless admitting that they don’t like the way they look. Having spent my whole life feeling self-conscious about my weight and bad skin, it really struck a chord with me. In one way it was almost comforting to know that these gorgeous women who have hundreds of followers on Instagram and look amazing in every picture they share are plagued by the same worries and anxieties that I am.

On the other hand, it also made me stop and question why we put so much pressure on ourselves to look a certain way. When I think back to my teenage years, I can’t remember a time I didn’t compare my looks to that of other women, be it the popular girls at school or actresses on TV and in films. With the rise of social media, and in particular photo sharing sites such as Instagram, there seems to be an increasing feeling among young people that they have to present a certain image of themselves to the world.

Interestingly I know quite a few of my friends who don’t like getting their photo taken. They will look at pictures taken on nights out or special occasions and say they look awful. Until recently I didn’t realise that I also do this. Looking back over recent pictures I found myself disliking how I looked in every single one.

It was that attitude that inspired this post. I wanted to try to boost my self-esteem and show myself that despite my imperfections, I can look nice in a photograph. I decided to share a recent picture of me that I quite like.

At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I like this photo because I actually look happy. It was taken on a day trip to Stirling and it was one of the first times I had felt properly happy in months. I also like my hair in this picture, especially the wash-out blue streaks I had sprayed in that morning. I might not look perfect, but that’s because I’m not. I’m nearly 30 so of course I have crow’s-feet. Instead of focusing on that as a sign of ageing, I want to see it as a sign of maturity, of gaining life experience and wisdom.

All of us have something about ourselves that we would like to change. I think it’s human nature to never be one hundred perfect satisfied with how we look. I know I am always going to wish I was thinner and had better hair, but instead of letting this get to me I am going to try to accept my imperfections and realise that, given the right light and angle, I can look okay in a photo.

2017 So Far

It’s nearly June, which means we will be in the sixth month of the year. Am I alone in feeling like we have reached this point really quickly?

To be fair, the year started out quite slow. January and February seemed to last forever. Since March, however, the months have been speeding by. Maybe it is the lighter nights and mornings, but spring 2017 has been something of a whirlwind. In some ways I hope the weeks continue to pass quickly. I have a whole week off in July, my first full week this year, and I am so ready for it. On the other hand, the faster the months go in the sooner it is to my 30th birthday. I don’t think I’m quite ready to hit that milestone yet. Continue reading “2017 So Far”

What Love Means To Me

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

A lot of people are quite scornful about today and, yes, it has become overly commercialised and tacky but I still love the idea of Valentine’s Day. As many of you may already know, I am a romantic. I love anything to do with romance and hearts and flowers. Ever since I was little I have been captivated by the idea of meeting my prince charming and being swept off my feet.

Of course, I know real love is vastly different to what we see and read about in fiction. Nevertheless, I still think it’s a good idea to dedicate a whole day to love. Valentine’s Day is marketed as all about romance, but love takes many shapes and forms and should be celebrated for all the many ways it can touch our lives.

At one point or another all of us will experience some form of love. Our first concept of love is usually garnered from our parents. I was lucky enough to grow up in a happy home. My parents were married for 30 years and though they could bicker for the world, they were still very much in love.

I always remember my mum telling me that the best advice she ever had was from her own mother. My grandmother told my mum that marriage is like two horses pulling a plough; both have to pull in the same direction in order for it to work. Now that I am older and have been in a relationship for three years, I can fully appreciate just what my gran meant by these words.

Being in a relationship takes work. When I was little I always assumed that love was simple. I never realised that loving someone means learning how to deal with their bad moods, or learning how to admit when you are in the wrong and compromising when you can’t get your own way.

For me, falling in love has taught me how to be a rounder person. I have always had a tendency to be selfish, something I attribute to being an only child. My whole life I have been spoiled and allowed to get my own way. Being with my partner has taught me how to share and to accept that I cannot always get what I want. I honestly do not know how he puts up with me sometimes. I am stubborn and moody and often a little unfair to him.

Loving someone means loving them through good and bad times. If you are lucky enough to find someone who wants to be with you even when you get huffy with them, who thinks you look beautiful even when you have a break out and you haven’t shaved in a few days, then you should cherish that person. Until recently I took my partner for granted, but losing my mum showed me that you should hold the people you love most close. My boyfriend is my rock. He has helped me through the worst period of my life this far and he knows how to make me smile. No one believes in me more than he does. Without him I think I would be a lot more selfish and definitely a lot less happy.

Whether you like the idea of Valentine’s Day or not, use today to show the people you love most just how important they are to you. That doesn’t have to involve buying a gift or taking them out to dinner. Something I’ve learned over the past few months is that words are so much more powerful and meaningful than a gift. Simply saying, ‘I love you’ or ‘Thank you for being in my life’ is worth more than any bunch of roses or fancy meal. It is the little things that really count – making a cup of tea, rubbing their temples when they have a headache, snuggling while you watch TV. That is what love means to me.

2016: A Year in Review

Well it’s that time again – the last day of the year, a chance to look back and reflect on the 12 months that have just passed while looking forward to the year ahead. Is it just me or it seems to have come around rather quickly? 2016 has simply flown by, especially since I started my job at Heriot-Watt. Maybe it’s the routine of going to work 5 days a week that just makes it seem like the days go by at break-neck speed.

I’m not going to lie, I will not be sorry to see the back of 2016. There does appear to be the general feeling that this has been a rubbish year what with the state of world politics and all the famous icons who have been taken from us. On a personal level, I can categorically say that 2016 has been one of the worst years of my life. So much has gone wrong and very little has gone right.

To be fair, this is the year that I achieved one major goal – I finally found a good job. After years of writing cover letters and attending interviews I was beginning to doubt I would ever get there, but in March my hard work was rewarded. I haven’t missed the hospitality industry once since I joined the admin world! It is so nice to have set hours of work every week, to know that I have weekends to myself and don’t have to work until eleven o’clock at night. Continue reading “2016: A Year in Review”

Turning 29

Thursday was my favourite day of the year – my birthday. I might be a grown up but I still love getting presents and having an excuse to eat cake.

This year was no different, but there’s something about reaching the last year of your twenties that makes you think back over your life so far. Okay, so maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, but I did find myself taking stock of the last nine years and the things I have and haven’t done.

I think it’s fair to say we all have regrets but I do wish I had done more with my twenties than I have. Youth is wasted on the young, they say, and I certainly didn’t take advantage of my twenties. I’ve spent most of them living in a bubble of anxiety and low earnings, both of which have prevented me from doing the things I probably should have.

My twenties haven’t been all bad. I did obtain two degrees, met lots of interesting people, fell in love with an amazing guy and travelled to some great places. I am conscious, however, that I have not made the most of my twenties and so, now I’ve hit 29 I am determined to make the most of the next twelve months. Below is a list of just some of the things I hope to achieve before I turn 30.

  • Learn to drive – It is actually ridiculous that I have put it off this long. I did take six months’ worth of lessons when I was 17 but I gave it up when I went to university. One of my biggest regrets is not taking it up again sooner. Where I live a car is kind of a necessity. It would be so much better for getting to work too.
  • Go abroad for the first time – This one is really dependent on money. I have never been able to afford to travel outside of the UK before and I’m not sure I can afford it yet, but I really want to start seeing some of the world. There’s so much out there and I think it’s time I broadened my horizons.
  • Find a place of my own – Again, this is very dependent on money and is something I am not sure I will be able to achieve but I am adding it to the list because it is something I have longed for for quite some time now. All my friends have moved in with their significant others and I must admit I do feel sometimes like I am lagging behind. There is something almost shameful about still living with your parents at 29. My boyfriend and I want a place of our own, but as I’ve already mentioned money is an issue. Realistically I know it is unlikely to happen any time soon until we are both earning a decent wage, but it would be wonderful if I could tick this off the bucket list before my next birthday.
  • Be healthier – Okay, so this is one of those catch-all terms which are probably not very useful, but I do want to start eating better and exercising more. Work makes me lazy. After a long and stressful commute the last thing I want to do is cook dinner so we do tend to eat a lot of ready-made meals. It’s no wonder then that I am beginning to get fat. I want to start experimenting with what we eat and working out more. I’d love to join a gym class, I just need to find the confidence to do so.
  • Read more frequently – Since I started my job at Heriot-Watt I barely read anymore. Commuting has turned me into a zombie. I come home and sit staring at the TV screen until I fall asleep. This needs to stop. My to-read pile keeps on growing while I’m still ploughing through a book I started weeks ago. To be honest I am struggling to engage with the books I pick up lately. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book. This is something I seriously want to change. Reading has always been my passion and I hate that I am losing my love of it.
  • Take more photos – My other half would roll his eyes at this because he thinks I take too many photos, but photography is something I have grown to really enjoy. I love looking back at all our holiday snaps and there is nothing better than the buzz of capturing a really good photo. Over the next twelve months I want to improve my photography and continue to document my life through pictures.

Those are just some of my goals for the next year. I know that some are highly dependent on outside factors and might not come to fruition but I hope that, if nothing else, I am more motivated and adventurous in my 29th year.

 

Half-Way Point

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Happy 1st June everyone. We’re half-way through the year already. Am I alone in feeling that it doesn’t seem so long ago that it was New Year? It is a true saying that time flies the older you get.

Now that June is upon us it seems like a good time to take stock of the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year. For 2016 I decided to set very few goals and to keep them as vague as possible. Maybe that’s not a good strategy for achieving anything, but I’ve found that setting specific goals doesn’t always pay off. One lesson life has taught me is that it isn’t always possible to plan for things. Expect the unexpected as the saying goes.

My goals were simple: to write down every book I read, to try not to compare my life to others’ and to do more with my free time. So how am I faring?

Goal 1: Of all my aims for 2016, this is by far an away the easiest to achieve. That said, remembering to write each book down after I’ve finished it has proven a bit challenging. There was one particular instance when I went to write down a book I had just completed and realised that I hadn’t written down the previous book. On the whole, I am managing to update the list and it is a good way of keeping track of how many books I have read so far. Much to my disappointment I have only read eleven books so far in 2016. Going into the second half of the year I hope to read more frequently and increase my tally by December. Continue reading “Half-Way Point”

New Month, New Start

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Hello everyone, congratulations, we made it through January! Is it just me, or did it seem to drag on forever? I feel like Christmas was eons ago and not a month. To be honest, there wasn’t much to like about January 2016. The weather was awful, it was dark almost twenty-four-seven (at least it felt that way) and I was down in the dumps most of the time. Truth be told, I’m not sorry to see the back of it.

Now that February is here, it’s time to look back and reflect on how I’m faring with my goals thus far. As you may recall, I set myself three very simple goals, hoping that this would make them more likely to be achieved. Progress, however, has been a bit of a mixed bag. Here is an update on each of them.

Write Down Every Book I Read – I have actually fared very well on this front. I’m pleased to say that I read three books in January. Having time off work certainly helped me to get in some valuable reading hours, but I’m hoping that I can continue to read more as the year goes on. Books are one of the joys of my life and I do find that my state of mind is greatly improved by even a few hours of reading a day. As promised, I have been writing each book down when I finish it, which will hopefully help jog my memory when December comes round and I can’t recall what I read or when! Continue reading “New Month, New Start”