Twenty-One Things I’ve Learnt In 21 Years

This is something I’ve seen going around a lot and I think it’s lovely to hear people’s insights, see some changes and generally just try to better yourself.

Now I’m a 21 year-old I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past (as well as looking forward to the future!) and even though it might not feel like it sometimes, I’ve done so much and grown loads. Here are some key things I’ve learnt over the years that may be beneficial to you.

1. Practising pays off, even though it can be really tedious and annoying.

For me a key area I learnt this was makeup, and after many years of messing about with the stuff for fun I’m finally getting okay at it. This also applies to other, non-superficial areas too! Just keep showing up and pushing and you’ll get there.

2. No one knows what they’re doing. Literally no one.

Not even that girl who looks like she has it all together. I know this because I pretend to be her and I still haven’t got a clue. I thought that by 21 I’d have everything figured out, but every day is still a learning curve. It’s totally okay, we’ll figure it out one day- maybe.

3. Always be yourself. Do what feels right for you at all times.

Any other action or behaviour will come across awkward, weird and uncomfortable for everyone, especially you! Listen to yourself and try to not focus on what other people might think. You have to live with yourself everyday and that is something you should honour.

4. Don’t be afraid to change it up.

A lot of people go through this stage of altering their appearance, friendships and values when they’re a young teen but I think it’s something that we should constantly do. Experiment with different versions of yourself and try new things to figure out what you like. It’s how you often find that you have always been exactly how you were meant to be.

5. Being girly isn’t a weakness.

Feminism! This one took me far to long to grasp. Liking pink, wearing ‘feminine’ fashion, being interested in beauty… The list is endless. None of the things are a bad or should be thought of with guilt. You are never just one thing so why pigeon-hole yourself?

6. It’s better to not have been the popular one at school.

It gives you an opportunity to grow, change and focus on what is really important right now. School may be considered the ‘best years of your life’ by adults, but trust me it’s not. You have so much wonder to come and luckily you haven’t peaked too early!

7. It takes time to find the right contraception.

 You need to educate yourself, try things and listen to your body. The first method you try might not be your last.

8. There are no deadlines on milestones.

You’re going through life at your own pace so it’s pointless to compare what you’re doing with other people’s experiences. (See: sex, first kisses, getting drunk, education, getting married, etc.)

9. Creating a safe place for yourself is the best act of self care. 

Whether that place is outside or in your house, take time to figure out where you feel the safest and make that space exactly how you want it. This will be your sanctuary for the days when things seem to be a much and a place for you to chill out whenever necessary.

10. Just because your life and/or choices look different to other people doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

You know yourself best, so just do what’s right for you even if it’s difficult or doesn’t match up to others. You should be your number one and this takes time to understand and accept. I promise you- you’re doing fine.

11. Be grateful for your parents/guardians/friends. They do so much for you.

This can be hard to see sometimes but be grateful for those around you who care because one day they may not be around. Gratitude is a wonderful thing to practice and can change your outlook and the way you handle so many different situations.

12. Time doesn’t have to be an important factor in friendships.

You don’t have to stay friends with someone just because you always have been and alternatively you can become brilliant friends with someone you’ve just met. Time isn’t really an important factor, or at least it doesn’t have to be. Sometime you just need to go with your gut and heart to find the right people.

13. Try to save some of your money for a rainy day. Having something behind you can make the world of difference. 

Try to budget and keep bits of money back in case you ever need it. If not, it’ll come in handy for that trip you want to do or that bag you’ve wanted for ages. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

14. Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.

Whether you’re feeling bad right now, or you’re annoyed at past you, we need these times to grow and get to a better place. Everything is valid.

15. Worrying can destroy everything you care about. 

Try to switch off and get out of your head a bit because worrying and overthinking will ruin your relationships, friendships and experiences. Take a walk, open up to someone close or write it down. You need to find a way to get these things out of your head so you can be more open to the important, and present, things.

16. The internet doesn’t need to know everything you’re up to.

You don’t have to post it to prove that it happened and it doesn’t have to be an instant thing either. Don’t let sharing stuff get in the way of your experiences. It’s brilliant to share and show off what you’ve been up to, where you’ve been and who you’ve seen but remember to enjoy the moment a bit first.

17. Metal actually does explode in the microwave.

I found this out the hard way. It can also catch fire too so be careful and stay aware!

18. Learn how to be on your own.

It might become the best lesson you’ll ever learn. You need to rely on yourself totally and be your own best friend because at the end of the day, you are the only guarantee in life.

19. A good bra will change your life.

It’ll make you look and feel amazing, trust me. It might even be worth spending that little bit more money in order to feel this way. Comfort and confidence are the key to any fashion experience.

20. You can trust places like you trust people.

It can be an instant feeling when you get there; you’re definitely going to like it here. I’ve experienced this only a handful of times in my life but it’s often a great factor when making major decisions (see: choosing a university, moving away, work)

21. The loudest people often don’t have anything to shout about.

Whether they’re bragging about sex, drinking, their love life or success you never get to see what actually goes on behind closed doors so take everything with a pinch of salt. Try not to get too caught up in what other people are doing, because they’re not you and everyone experiences things differently.


Happy Birthday Me!

I’m expecting this year to be full of growth, change, joy and fear and I am so buzzing for it. Although things may get tough I’m so proud of myself for everything I’ve done to get here and I love that I’m only going to continue to learn more.

Thank you so much for reading this post. I’m so grateful for you being here. Let’s hope this blog continues for many more birthdays!


Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Here’s The Deal With Porn: Sex, Education & Reality

When you think about it, the fact that there’s an industry dedicated to watching other people have sex seems a little mad doesn’t it? But porn is a massive player in our current society and it’s been something that has caused many debates over the years.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with porn. I’ll just put that out there right now. At the end of the day porn is just sex and as long as consent is present, then there is nothing wrong with it. It’s only natural.

But porn isn’t just sex, is it? I don’t know whether it has ever been that simple. Porn does not represent what most people would recognise as sex in any sense of the word. It’s all false and fabricated, which is of course the point.

Porn represents a fantasy of what sex could be, but only if you’re a man. At most times a straight man, regardless of what kind of porn you’re watching. It’s such a small market yet that’s obviously where the money comes from.

There is nothing wrong with making a product and aiming it at a specific audience. But nowadays when sex education is lacking and the act is everywhere in our media and daily lives, we need to start thinking about everyone who is watching porn.

Despite what you may think, anyone can watch porn. But unless, as mentioned, you’re a (possibly straight) man you’re probably going to feel a bit disappointed by what you see.

In porn everything is tailored for the male viewer, or the male gaze if you want to get technical with it. The length of the video, the setting, the props and the models are all tailored to attract the male audience. And fair does. But for the rest of us watching, it’s a bit shit. We’re obviously excluded from the situation and that’s not fair.

If these materials are going to be out there, and are going to be so accessible too, then allow other people to have a look in and be represented.

The fact that porn is tailored the men causes problems within the content. For most women watching, porn can seem pretty degrading and in many cases fairly violent. There is often no representation of consent nor any basic respect or interest for the women involved. In the media women are often used as props and in porn this is no different. The women here are simply something to look at and use, without any consideration for their wants or desires.

Again, porn is a fantasy and for some people this may work for them. But for the many young people relying on this industry to educate them on the things their school has missed out, it’s so dangerous. These young people will learn behaviours from the porn they see and expect their sex to be similar to what they see online.

This lack of respect, care or consent is then considered normal within this group and will be replicated throughout their lives.

That’s not okay. Sex requires consent in order to be sex. Without consent, any act is rape.

Consent (verb) 

  • give permission for something to happen.

This obviously causes many issues and it upsets me so much that this is what people have to rely on as there is materials to educate. (Check out the materials at the end for some good educational tools I have found)

The sex in porn is not normal sex. It is not what sex between most people looks like. It is a glossy, practiced and acted performance that is used to entertain.

Sex in real life can be awkward, funny, messy, hairy, fast, slow, loud, quiet; whatever you want it to be. But chances are it won’t replicate what you’ve seen online. For the record, no one looks that good for the entire time they’re having sex and no one looks that good after sex either.

The sex in porn is so false it’s actually pretty annoying. The poses, the noises, the faces. Everything has been constructed to look good on screen, because that’s what it’s for. But no matter how aware you are of this fact it’s not hard to internalise some of the things you’ve seen online and feel shit about what’s going on in your own life.

There are some wonderful companies attempting to make porn for women and plenty of campaigns are fighting for a better representation in this industry. However, for the time being we’ve got to deal with what we have. By opening up the conversation about how false it is and explaining that this isn’t normal sex, the kind that we will experience, can ensure that although it remains we can alter how problematic it is.

Sex and porn aren’t things to be ashamed of and the sooner we accept this and allow people to be free in their sexuality, the better things will become.


Materials:

Laci Green (Related: Sexual Objectification)

Hannah Witton (Related: Behind The Scenes of An Erotic Film)

How To Be A Woman Caitlin Moran* (chapters dedicated to Porn & Sex)

Banging Book Club (Podcast & Twitter)

Let’s Talk About Sex Sarah Rae Vargas


*affiliate link used

Speak soon,

Rachael

The Current State of Affairs (Ft. Votes & Protests)

With the current states of affairs, it’s not difficult to feel as though all hope is lost. It can sometimes feel like to world is ending, with no one understanding the actions of their peers; with protests to battle against decisions already made and with fear being a common emotion among any old enough to understand what’s going on.

Some major decisions have been made both here and overseas that do not reflect either the view of the people or attitudes deemed acceptable today. Issues regarding equality (in all sense of the word) are rising, just when we getting confident that these old ideals were ridiculous and redundant. And although it seems as though all our problems can be pinned on one leader or another, we need to accept that as the public we are not innocent in any of this either.

It’s easy to point the finger at that orange-faced man on the TV or your government representative, because they’re the ones in charge right? But in these states of democracy we need to see that it is our actions, our views and our desperation that has put us here.

The news in America was obviously a great shock, but while others turned to anger and fighting I found myself feeling sad. I was sad for those who were so desperate to see change that they turned to archaic opinions and frightening predicaments; I was sad for the many who were hopeful but still didn’t do enough; I was sad about the lack of education and the lack of interest some people demonstrate in these important affairs. I am now sad about those who live in fear.

But at the end of the day, a vote was made. Although it may not be the vote you wanted it is the vote of the majority (including 53% of white women) and in a democratic society these changes must be made. This man should rule; that country should leave.

“democracy: (noun) a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”

synonyms: representative government, elective government

Although it may not be the vote you cast (and as long as you cast your vote then your job is done. If you didn’t then I’m afraid you can’t really speak out) there are ways that you can make a difference and still ensure that your voice is heard. There will be some useful links at the end of this to help you, but on a smaller scale just by speaking out and remaining compassionate you can make all the difference.

The views of your current leader mightn’t (and hopefully don’t) reflect your views and this may make you lose hope when people agree with what you see to be wrong. But don’t be disheartened. This is your chance to educate and expose some new ideas.

Although protesting is obviously the most public (and seemingly most common right now) way to express your opinion, this is something that should only be done if you have a specific case in mind.

It’s all well and good blocking streets to campaign against a leader or a vote that has been made (and in many cases this is successful and generally just a good thing to do to show your support) but it would all work a little better if we were more specific about what we don’t like. In the case of Trump, there is nothing you can do to get him out of the leader seat. So instead of putting all your energy and time into campaigning for the impossible, aim to fight against his policies or the things he’s said that aren’t okay.

trump-1

Instead of being disrespectful, because even if you disagree there is still a large majority of people who thought the opposite (and even though they may be wrong they are still people and should get your respect), aim to educate. Use your campaigns, your protests and your posts to explain exactly what has happened and why it’s wrong. Be clear and honest as for some people the idea that these beliefs are wrong is just not possible. Talk about their children, use their futures as an example; make it understandable and be open to answer questions. But also be prepared for backlash and don’t push back. Instead remain calm and kind- you don’t need to stoop to that level to win an argument. Besides winning shouldn’t be your aim here, educating and exposing what is right so that people can understand the consequences of their actions should be your goal.

If you are going to protest, by all means go for it. But it’s best to be specific (stick to an issue like racism, sexism or immigration) and for God’s sake do your research. Again people are going to ask questions so use this time to educate and open more people up to new ideas. This is something you can only do if you’ve researched. Remain passionate, otherwise what’s the point in campaigning if you don’t care, and compassionate. Some people will still think they’ve done the right thing or some mightn’t even understand. They are still people. If you’re campaigning against the ill-treatment of others whether for their colour, gender or ethnicity then make sure you represent the right way to treat people regardless. Even if they disagree with you, or call out rude things.

Now is the best time for us to rally round, help each other out and generally just stay supportive. There is already too much fear and anger in the world without us adding to it. If things are happening that you don’t agree with, speak out. But please bear in mind the advice given. If you see people fighting for change, help them. But above all remain kind and respectful to your peers and the people around you, because that’s the one thing we don’t have enough of right now.


Materials:


Speak soon,

Rachael.

Mind Your Damn Business: A Discussion On Privacy by a Nosy Journalism Student

I haven’t even started this post yet but I already know it’s going to have no structure and no clear point. Apologies. But this is a topic I really want to talk about and something that I’ve been thinking about recently for various different reasons.

I am currently in my last year of a Journalism degree, which means for the past two years I have been taught how to be more curious, how to be ask the right questions and how to find things out. Which is all well and good and these are certainly skills I will need should I go into this field.

On a personal level I have loved learning these things. I’m naturally a nosy person and I ask a million and one questions a day (something I’m sure my friends and family hate). Basically,  I feel like I didn’t grow out of that stage every toddler goes through where they want to know the answer to everything, right now. I’m 20, guys.

Anyway, I’m hoping you get the picture. I’m a nosy, curious person who loves nothing more than finding out information about other people.

Despite this, I do find myself thinking or saying the phrase “it’s none of your business” a lot of the time recently. Even though I’m studying journalism and I am such a nosy sod (seriously. I’m embarrassed for myself a lot of the time) I can’t help but think that it’s all kind of wrong.

In an age of social media, we’re encouraged to share everything with our followers and our friends. And some people share everything. I mean, everything. Which is totally cool, you do you. But because we’ve become so used to having access to people’s personal lives, whether they be celebrities or old school friends, we begin to expect it. So when someone chose to keep something private, we feel enraged.

How dare they not share that with us?

We begin to feel like we’re owed this information. And that’s kind of messed up.

But not only do we want access to this information, but because we’ve gotten so used to seeing it we feel like we can comment on how other people live their lives.

We all do it and I for one am guilty of this on almost a daily basis- which is really sad when you think about it.  We all have our own ideas of what is the right or wrong way to do something, from the way we study, the way we raise children, the way we work: the list is endless. And when we see someone do something differently to how we would like it to be done we freak out.

Celebrity magazines thrive of this stuff, man. How many articles have you read insulting the way a famous person does this or that? Tonnes, I’ll bet.

It’s such a normal and common thing that I think we’ve forgotten how wrong it is. Like what business is it of ours how someone chooses to live their own life? As long as they’re not hurting anyone or breaking the law or something like that, then what does it matter?

Of course, if you see something actually wrong (ie. legally) then don’t be afraid to report that shit and put a spotlight on it. But in terms of the everyday stuff, why do we care?

I don’t have a solution to this. I don’t even have any suggestions to offer on how to get better at minding your own business. I just wanted to express some opinions on this topic and hopefully get some kind of discussion going, because it’s an interesting topic.

If you are interested in this kind of stuff, I’d recommend you watch this video by the wonderful Sarah Rae Vargas which inspired this whole train of thought.

How public are you on social media? Are you a nosy person? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Or you can Tweet me and start a conversation there.

Thanks for sticking with me, if you did, through this long post. If you like my blog you can follow it on bloglovin too.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

 

What Is Self Care Anyway?

Following Mental Health Day this week (Monday 10th October, FYI) I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole ‘self-care’ thing.

It’s become somewhat of a trend on social media and we’re often surrounded by images of Lush products and bubble baths. Which of course is a part of it, but it isn’t always pretty and so Instagramable.

We all have a metal health just as we have a physical health. It just looks different for everyone.

THE BASICS

self-care 

noun: care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.

It’s pretty self explanatory but it does what it says on the tin. Although seeking help and support from other people is brilliant (in fact the Mental Health Foundation claim that talking to other people is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. You can read that here) you can also take control and look after yourself too.

You can do this in various different ways, which I will discuss in a minute. But the main thing to remember is you have control. When you’re struggling with mental health issues, whether that be a diagnosed problem or not, it can sometimes feel like you have no control over yourself.

But this idea of self-care puts the control back in your hands and reminds you that no matter how bad it gets, there is always something you can do for yourself that can help you along your journey.

(If you are struggling I will put some useful links at the end of this post to help)

HOW TO HELP YOURSELF

Self-care isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it takes more than pampering yourself or working out. A lot of the time self-care covers things like getting yourself out of bed, ensuring you’ve washed your face and brushed your teeth. It’s the effort a lot of people have to put into doing the daily things that most of us don’t even have to think about.

Self-care can also be the bigger things in our lives that may be harder to deal with but have a great impact on our mental wellness.

If things haven’t been feeling to great for a while, Mind, the mental health charity, recommends:

  • Assess your current situation
  • Look at the relationships you currently have
  • Ask for help
  • Take note of what make you happy or sad
  • Spot the warning signs

(You can read more about these here)

These are normally the ‘bigger’ things that have an impact on our mental health. With these it may take a little longer to notice a positive effect. But trust me (and Mind) they’re so effective.

You first need to evaluate what you already have going on in your life and see how these could be effecting your mental well being. Once you recognise the issues, you should talk action to either remove them or change them. Hence why this can take a little time.

THE ‘SMALLER’ THINGS

I don’t really like to downplay mental health or any kind of health issues really. It’s such a personal thing that no one can really judge (or at least try not to anyway.)

However, alongside those bigger, slower steps outlined above there are some simpler actions you can take to improve your mental well being on a day-to-day basis.

The following are things to do when you’re having an ‘off’ day:

  • Pamper night
  • Go for a walk
  • Read a book
  • Play or listen to music (a personal favourite)
  • Chat with friends/family
  • Eat well or cook
  • Do something good for someone else (ie. make them a meal)
  • Watch a movie or TV show

You can check out some of these in more detail in a post I did a few weeks ago.

Also see Mind‘s and the Mental Health Foundation‘s tips.

The key is to try to distract yourself. Take your mind of what is currently happening, even just for a little while.

If you are struggling please seek help either from friends or family or one of the professional services linked below.

Remember that you are not alone and everyone is going through struggles of their own. You can do this.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

USEFUL LINKS

Mind Contact: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/ 

The Samaritans: 116 123 (it’s free)

BEAT (Eating Disorders): Helpline: 0345 634 1414 Youthline: 0345 634 7650

Childline: 0800 1111

Other useful details: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

 

 

 

 

Becoming Unstuck: How To Get Out of A Rut

It’s so easy to get stuck into a rut and feel like there is no way out. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, being ‘stuck in a rut’ describes those times when you feel like you’re trapped. When things aren’t going quite as you’d like but you can’t find any way to resolve that.

This is kind of how I’m feeling right now and I know I’m not alone. Although it seems like everyone and their mother is excited about Autumn (I too am one of those people) it is a difficult time of year and I think we forget that. The days are shorter, the nights are darker and things generally get a little low for a while.

It’s natural for us to feel a little crap during this change of season but it, of course, isn’t the best. We’ve all got things to be getting on with and that’s really hard to do when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

So for both you and me, here’s a little reminder of some basic things we can do to make ourselves feel better and drag ourselves out of this rut.

  • Go Outside

Walk.jpg

This is something that is going to get harder as the season goes on because it’s cold and it’s probably raining so going outside is the last thing you’d like to do. I know that we’d probably all rather be sat inside, cuddled up in something warm watching the weather from a safe place but getting outside is so important for your mental health.

It’s not hard to feel like you’re stuck in a rut when you haven’t moved from the sofa for a while. When you feel yourself getting low or agitated or generally just a bit ‘meh’ try to organise some time to go outside. Even if it’s a quick walk to your corner shop, those few minutes where you’re breathing in some (questionably) fresh air and moving about will make you feel so much better and productive.

  • Make Plans

Planner.jpg

We become stuck in a rut because it feels like there isn’t anything new happening. Everything feels the same, day in day out. I think it’s quite easy to forget that we can change that and we can in fact control our daily routines to some extent.

Although I’m about to advise you to make plans with your friends, your family, your flatmates or whoever you have around you at this moment I am really bad at this myself. I really do think that this is a super important step in getting out of a rut and I know that when I have something to look forward to, even if it’s just a simple movie day or going out for tea, I feel better but I’m really bad at it. I’m one of those people who will change their mind a million times about attending an event and then I’ll probably end up cancelling anyway (sorry!). This is something I want to change (and maybe something I will discuss in a later post) because I know how beneficial it is for me, and you, to go out and do things.

Having something to look forward to will help push you through this strange time and show you that it doesn’t always have to be the same story everyday.

  • Be Creative

creative

In her fabulous book, Big Magic, that I have talked about a million times, Elizabeth Gilbert said:

If I am not actively creating something, chances are I am about to start actively destroying something.

(You can find this quote on her post here too)

And damn can I relate to that. It’s something I’ve realised pretty recently but if I am not working on something, whether that be this blog or university work or even free writing,  I feel crap. I get irritated and stressed because I feel totally useless. And when I don’t work on anything for days or weeks on an end, those feelings get worse and worse.

Whatever your creative thing is, your hobby, past time or passion, try to work on that even if you don’t feel like it. When you’re stuck in a rut and you feel low, the last thing you want to do is be creative (I would like to quickly point out now that creative is a subjective term and can relate to anything from art to sports. You know what your thing is) but it can help you so much.

Force yourself to read, write, run, dance, draw. Whatever it is you enjoy, take even an hour out to do that thing and I guarantee you’ll feel so much better after.

As always I hoped this helped. What do you do when you’re stuck in a rut? I’d love to know.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

Four Simple Ways To Get Your Shit Together

There’s nothing worse than feeling lost and stressed. The summer is basically over now and we’re all getting back into our normal routines; our workload’s are increasing and things are generally starting to pick up. In this time it is so easy to feel like things are getting on top of you and you’re starting to lose grasp.

I’m a worrier by nature so I feel like this quite often. Because of this, I’ve have come up with four simple things to do to make you feel like you’ve got your shit together and are once again ready to take on the world.

  • Clean Your Makeup Brushes

If you’re a makeup wearer then you’ll know the pain of washing your makeup brushes. I mean, maybe it’s just me being lazy but it’s a task I hate doing and will try to avoid it for as long as I can. But, dedicating even half an hour one evening to go through everything and clean is guaranteed to make you feel like you do indeed have your shit together and are winning at, well, life basically.

  • Self-Maintenance

Everyone can stop what they’re doing for a least a couple of hours on an evening and you should do. Take this time to run a hot bath or shower and pamper yourself. Shave your legs (if you fancy), wash and condition your hair, exfoliate, moisturise: do whatever it is in this time that makes you feel good because I promise you’ll feel amazing afterwards and all the more ready to keep going.

  • Do Some Exercise

Now I’m not encouraging you to take out an expensive gym membership and work out everyday. I mean, if you want to do that don’t let me stop you. But exercise doesn’t have to cost anything. Simply getting outside and going for a walk does wonders for both your physical and mental health. Put in some headphones and go for a wander and you’ll return feeling lighter and brighter.

  • Tidy Room, Tidy Mind

I can’t work if the area I’m in is messy and quite frankly I don’t understand how anyone can. Even if you’re not a neat freak, just do a quick whizz round of your room- put things back in drawers, make the bed. Having a clearer space with seriously help clear your mind and allow you to focus on what actually needs done.

Star

Keep calm and carry on my chums. I believe in you.

Speak soon,

Rachael.