The Importance of Shopping Sustainably and Independently

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while now and have been really excited about it, hence me posting it in the middle of the week as a bit of a bonus post. The reason for this is the incredible top I am wearing in these photos. I picked it up at a store in the Gracia region of Barcelona, called the 8pm Store, conveniently situated just next to the apartment we were staying in, off my cousins recommendation. The 8pm Store is an independent concept, fashion store, stocking clothes all of which have been designed sustainably in Barcelona as well as an art exhibition. The clothing in the store was so cool and being in the store itself was an amazing experience. Plus, the owner was so friendly, explaining to me more about the idea and logistics behind the store, also gifting me a free postcard from their last exhibition, which was such a nice touch and really made me feel happy for the rest of the day.

This experience got me thinking about why it is so important to support independent fashion. I would never have had an experience like that in a high-street store and because fashion is a really creative thing for me, it’s so inspiring to have a shopping experience like I did in The 8pm Store. Another really great shopping experience I had was also on my travels this year back in March when I went to Edinburgh at Armstrongs Vintage. I was also recommended to this shop by a friend, this is definitely the best way to find places to go when travelling from my experience, and it was probably (definitely) the best vintage shop I’ve ever been to. It was huge and the choice was incredible, from costume dress to the most incredible vintage denim. This is where I picked up the jeans I’m wearing in this photo, they’re by YSL and cost me a mere £20. I have pretty much always been looking for the perfect pair of white jeans and these are them. I had to get them taken up, which wasn’t expensive, but altering is definitely always worth it as a piece that fits you properly will mean you want to wear it more often and longer.

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

I realise I’ve spent the first half of this post gushing over these two shops, they’re seriously worth the fangirling though, so I’m going to move on to what this post is actually about, why shopping sustainably and independently is important. We all know the horrors of fast-fashion, from horrendous factory conditions to the colossal environmental effect, so I’m not going to guilt-trip you with any statistics. Especially because I still very much buy clothes from fast fashion retailers, it’s the most convenient and affordable way to shop and as much I’ve tried to avoid it, I just can’t at the moment, partly because financial reasons and partly because of selfish ones. So, instead, I’m making a conscious effort to support sustainable and independent shops and brands more often as well.

The most expensive sustainable fashion tends to be the brands who have built themselves on this ethos because it’s expensive being ethical in every single way and that’s just the way it is. I’m talking about the likes of Reformation and Everlane. The 8pm Store falls into this category of store though and although it’s more expensive than your average high-street store, it’s still really affordable. The top I’m wearing in this photo, which is handmade and of incredible quality, cost me between €35-40 (I can’t remember the exact amount), which is definitely more than I would spend on a piece like this at a high-street store. But I was willing to pay not only for this top that I love, but for the experience of being in the shop and the sustainablity behind the piece. This is something that can be hard to take into account when you put a similar piece from an independent, sustainable designer next to a Topshop piece for a fraction of the piece but I personally think, if you’re able to, it’s 100% worth supporting the former for the reasons I’ve just mentioned.

However, most of the time I’m just not able to buy expensive pieces, which often means I resort to the high-street. But another option is something that I love and have found some of my favourite pieces I own from, charity shops. They’re so unbelievably cheap AND you’re supporting a good cause by buying from them. My favourite pair of jeans cost £2 from a charity shop and the cost per wear is definitely in the minus’ now. Although charity shopping can be time consuming, I’ll often set out an entire afternoon or morning to go and look around the charity shops, it’s so rewarding and can help you save so much money that it’s 100% worth it. I know people are sceptical of charity shops but you won’t believe the gems you’ll find in there and most of the things haven’t been worn or have barely been worn so there is no need to worry about that aspect of it. Obviously, as well, it’s by far the most sustainable way to shop.

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

Moving on to the second part of the title of this post, shopping independently. This is something that I am very good at whilst travelling but pretty poor at when at home. At home I’m all too temped to revert to the trusty high street but on holiday, shopping independently is an amazing way to get to know the place you’re in. The predominant way that I shop independently at home is through charity shops and vintage shops. Both of the places I am based, Liverpool and Manchester, have a great array of independent clothing stores that don’t fall into the categories just mentioned and are a little more expensive but I think it’s just getting into the habit and mindset of shopping there.

Nevertheless though, I still try and make an effort to shop independently because, as I mentioned, there’s nothing better than having an amazing shopping experience and independent shops definitely offer that more than chains do. Plus, they give a place character. Whenever I go away, whether it’s in the UK or abroad, I always try and steer away from what I’m going to call the ‘chain area’ of the city and venture out to the areas that actually feel like you’re in a different place. I’d hate anywhere I live to not have this feel at all and if we don’t support these independent businesses then they’ll no longer exist.

Here’s a list of some of my favourite independent stores, from fashion to all sorts of other things with links to their websites/social media:

  • The 8pm Store, Barcelona (Fashion/Art)
  • Armstrongs Vintage, Edinburgh (Fashion)
  • COW Vintage, Liverpool, Manchester and Various Other Places (Fashion)
  • Utility, Liverpool (Home/Gifts)
  • Chapter One, Manchester (Bookstore/Cafe)
  • Fred Aldous, Manchester (Art/Gifts)
  • Park St in Bristol has the best independent vintage shops, I can’t choose just one from the one time I’ve visited (Fashion)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it’s given you some encouragement to head down to your local independent clothing store, or try and shop a little bit more sustainably! You won’t regret carving some time out to visit your local charity shops or vintage shops to grab a bargain. Even if you go high-street shopping afterwards, you’ve probably saved yourself some money by buying something second-hand and you’re helping to save the world a little bit at the same time, so it’s a win-win. I’d love to hear your favourite independent shops or the best ways, in your opinion, to shop sustainably in the comments or on social media! As mentioned, I’m by no means perfect with this and am not claiming to be so any tips and recommendations are very welcome!

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

 

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

The Importance of Sustainable and Independent Fashion/Shopping

Top- Dreamers Not Allowed

Jeans- Vintage YSL, Armstrongs Vintage

Shoes- Vans

Sunglasses- Mango

Hair Clips- Accesorize

Necklace- Alex Monroe

You’re Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

The ethos behind my favourite ever website/blog/publication, Man Repeller, is ‘where an interest in fashion never minimises ones intellect’, which is one of the reasons why it’s one of my favourite places on the internet. For a long time, an interest in fashion and/or clothes has equated to being a little bit dim, to put it nicely. After all, the most intelligent people don’t care about what they look like, right? Steve Jobs wears the same clothes every day! Wrong. Being interested in fashion, whether it’s fashion styling, writing or simply shopping, has nothing to do with how intelligent you are. In fact, some of the people I admire the most because of their intelligence (cough, cough Pandora Sykes, my ultimate dream girl in every area of life) have built themselves or their careers through fashion, or use it to define a big part of themselves.

I’ve always wanted a career within the fashion industry, but as my life took a more ‘academic’ path and I really started to care about my academic performance, which also led to a boost in my grades, I began to doubt whether this type of career was for me. This was almost sub-conscious, perhaps partly because I know it’s a competitive industry, but I think mostly because I thought I should do something more by the books, and, as an English Lit student, something specifically to do with books. Maybe I still will end up going down this path career-wise but I’m definitely more open and more interested in a career within the fashion industry, thinking of it as something that will allow me to reach my full potential in so many ways and something that I would be proud of, not ashamed of. 

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

Many people think putting outfits together and photographing them is a waste of time and vain but, for me, it’s a really creative process. It provides me with a space to be creative and, although I’m not always completely comfortable in front of the camera, it’s something that I really enjoy altogether. It’s not something that everyone can do, whether that’s because they don’t enjoy it/don’t have the patience for it or because they simply are not good at styling. I’m not trying to say that I have a talent for putting outfits together or anything but getting dressed in the morning is a creative process for me and, especially on days when I’m glued to my desk doing UNI work, I really appreciate and enjoy this moment of creativity.

Wearing school uniform was something I absolutely hated, and wearing the same clothes for work at the moment has a similar effect on me, and unlike other peers who would say that they missed the ease of their uniform, being able to choose my own outfit every day, as little of a thing as it seems now, was so liberating for me. I don’t have anything against Steve Jobs, or anyone else who wears the same clothes every day, and I’m not saying he’s not creative (he definitely is) because everyone is creative in different ways. But just because I spend 15 minutes (sometimes much, much longer) deciding what to wear in the morning, that does not make me any less of an efficient or intelligent person and it is not something to be looked down on and I think it should be seen as creative as writing and drawing and all of the other generically creative acts, because it feels that way for me.

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

I carry absolutely zero shame for having an interest in fashion anymore and that’s why I wanted to dedicate this post to Man Repeller. Because Leandra (the founder of Man Repeller) has created a space where women can have intelligent and important conversations, whilst also writing and reading about the phenomenon of gym shorts as a ‘thing’ (this is a real, and good, article currently on the site).

I try to create a similar space with my blog, but obviously in this case it’s just me talking to myself. The posts vary from fashion-based, discussion-based to many other things and I feel just as confident in writing about them all. Man Repeller also allows me to feel justified in writing about more than one thing on my blog and not having a niche, something that I’ve tried to create and failed. I want this blog to be a reflection of me and because I am a multi-faceted human being, that means I am going to write about lots of different things, usually uniting them with posey photos of me, such as these ones taken in Liverpool’s St John’s Gardens.

Anyway, I ran off on a bit of a tangent there (what’s new?) but I just wanted to write this post to try and dismantle the stigma around fashion . I hope I’ve helped you to shatter any negative perceptions of those who are interested in fashion you might have had, and I hope that if you are a fashion-lover (that sounds so 2012) that you embrace it and feel proud of it! It means you’re creative and gives you an amazing way to construct your own identity in whatever way you want… But that’s a different post all together! Maybe next time!

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

You're Not Stupid Because You Like Fashion

Top- Mango (old, similar slogan here, similar colour t-shirt here)

Skirt- Miss Selfridge (old, similar here)

Faux Leather Gilet- Topshop (old, similar here)

Shoes- Primark (probably still available in store)

 

In Defence of Love Island

In Defence of Love Island

Photography by Ell Field.

Love Island, on paper, isn’t my type. I was adamant about this last year. I don’t really like reality TV, or TV in general that much so I didn’t see why this daily reality TV show would be for me. All of my friend’s watched it and were trying to convince me to join in but I wasn’t even willing to put one of my eggs in the TV show’s basket. For the first few weeks, I stayed loyal to the fact that I’d never really liked reality TV and I just KNEW that it would be the same with this TV show. But I well and truly mugged myself off. After seeing snippets of it last year through my sister and boyfriend watching it, I slowly became interested. That interest grew and now I would call myself a dedicated fan of the show and I am so happy that my friends’ grafting in trying to convince me to watch the show paid off, because I love it so much. Ok, I’m done with casually slipping Love Island lingo into this blog post (for now…), so please carry on reading, especially if you don’t watch the show and were very confused by that introduction.

Despite the show gaining popularity like no other over the years, I’ve spoke to so many people who still have reservations about it, oh hell, I was one of them last year (ok ok I promise that was the last reference, especially to Dr Alex who I am not a fan of). These reservations are usually/always based on the fact that watching it every night for 2 months is a waste of time, which from an outside perspective is a valid point. But in this post I am going to explain why watching Love Island, and the show’s existence in itself, is not a waste of time. With the show’s final being aired tomorrow (*sobs*) and the fact that I am wearing a dress that was worn by Liverpool’s very own Hayley on the show which is now part of Missguided’s ‘Love Island Collection’ (even though I bought it last year before it was part of it but let’s just ignore that), I thought this would be an apt place and time to express my love for the show and explain why I am annoyed at my past self for refusing to watch it until half way through Season 3.

In Defence of Love Island

The first argument against Love Island that I want to talk about is that it’s a waste of time to watch it because it’s a waste of time to watch any type of TV, but especially this kind, every night for 2 months, because this is the one that was most valid for me last year. I’m not trying to say that watching Love Island every night boosts my intelligence and makes me a better person because, quite frankly, it doesn’t. But it provides me with a form of escapism like no other. In fact, watching the show is my ultimate escapist activity, switching off from my own life completely and becoming engrossed in the lives of others for an hour. As someone who can become obsessed with doing work and being productive, Love Island is the best method I’ve ever found for switching off, and the fact that it allows me to switch off every day for an hour just before I go to bed, is perfect. Not only this but it happened to start this year on the day of my last university exam, meaning it really got me into the swing of taking time to myself over summer. For people who can switch off and relax easily, this might not be a big deal. But for many, I think Love Island provides an hour a day in which they can stop thinking about everything else going on in their lives, which can be so beneficial for many and I think is a reason why so many people love the show.

The second main argument against Love Island is that the content of the show is vain and contributes absolutely nothing to our society, expect perhaps perpetuating negative attitudes. As I briefly mentioned earlier, you are not going to get the same benefits from watching Love Island as reading an encyclopedia but that’s not why anyone watches it. But despite the fact that Love Island is an escapist activity for me and for many, the issues that are inherently wrong with the show itself and that arise from the activities within the villa provide important societal discussion points. For example, the TV show does have a body image issue, this one is non-negotiable. Everyone in the villa has the ‘ideal body’ and, of course, this can have a negative effect on more vulnerable viewers. But the fact that this is the case has started a huge discussion on the subject, on social media and beyond and perhaps brought the issue to the attention of those who might have dismissed it in the past. I hope Love Island rectifies this issue in the next series by recruiting contestants of different shapes and sizes, reflecting the real world in a real way but, as much as I don’t like to use this as an excuse, no TV show, or book, or anything is perfect and sometimes being able to use something as a point of discussion and criticism can be irrevocably useful.

In Defence of Love Island

Love Island has incited some really interesting conversations this year, from body image, to race, to female friendships and other feminist issues. A weekly podcast that I’ve loved listening to is ‘Under Cover Lover’, an unofficial Love Island podcast that dives deep into all of these issues and that has encouraged me further to watch Love Island critically, something I can’t really help but doing anyway. The fact that I can watch something in this way, having these interesting conversations about it whilst also still living my escapist dreams is the perfect scenario and the main reason why I think Love Island is so brilliant.

If you have been watching Love Island, I hope you’re not too sad about it ending tomorrow. If you are, do what I’m going to do and go back and watch the previous series on Netflix and/or send me a message so we can chat about it (I could do this for hours). I’d also love to hear who you are rooting for to win! I’m a loyal (no Georgia-reference intended) and die-hard Jack & Dani fan but I was shocked to hear that more than one of my friends is rooting for Kaz & Josh, so I’d love to hear your opinions. If you haven’t watched Love Island this year, you’re probably a bit late to start. But I hope this blog post has convinced you that it’s not a waste of your time, whether you’re looking for something to calm you down or if you love partaking in a bit of critical conversation. There’s always next year to start watching it… or ITV Hub but don’t say I didn’t warn you of the binging that will take place if you go for the second option.

In Defence of Love Island

In Defence of Love Island

In Defence of Love Island

Dress- MissGuided

Bag- Very (No longer available, similar here)

Sunglasses- Primark

Are Words Dying Out?

Are Words Dying Out?

Photography by Ell Field.

I’m back today with a more ‘thoughtful’ post (i.e writing about something that’s been on my mind that has nothing/very little to do with the photos I share alongside it). These types of posts, as opposed to posts about fashion and style, tend to be my favourite ones to write and tend to be received the best upon sharing so you’ll probably be seeing much more of them on my blog. I’ve even created a new category to my blog called ‘Thoughts & Musings’ to allow myself this space on my blog, so do head over there after reading this post to read more of these types of posts. Also, final sort-of disclaimer before starting the post, you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting on my blog as much recently, which isn’t down to lack of wanting to do so but a lack of time as I have been working A LOT. For now, my aim is to get up a blog post once a week on Sunday evenings but don’t be surprised to see an extra post up (probably on Wednesdays or Fridays) on the weeks when I’m working a little bit less.

Anyway, let’s move on to the discussion point of this post, something that’s very close to my heart, words. I’ve always been a reader and a writer, both in and out of school. As an English Literature student, I spend most of my time doing these two things during the academic year and as an avid reader and someone with a blog, I spend most of my free time doing the same two things. I simply love words (hence the name of this blog), whether I’m reading them or writing them. But in an age where most of our communication and entertainment is in the format of  photos, videos and even voice-notes, are words simply unnecessary? As you can probably guess, I’d argue against this and although I love Instagram, Netflix and Snapchat as much as the next person, I get the most satisfaction through reading something that is above the 140 character (or is it 280 characters now?) limit and writing something longer than an Instagram caption.

Are Words Dying Out?

This post isn’t designed to be an insult to anyone who doesn’t enjoy reading or writing because not everyone does, and I’m not going to act all high and mighty just because I do! To my shame, I’m really not interested in anything remotely science-y and I even find Blue Planet (maybe stop reading now if you’re a big fan) pretty boring. Everyone has different interests and they’re definitely not always as simple as preferring English to Maths or History to Science but sometimes people simply do not like reading or writing and that is fine. The problem today, in my opinion, is that many people don’t know whether they do or not because today’s fast-moving, visual-orientated society doesn’t give them a chance to find out. When I was listening to The High-Low podcast the other day (10/10 would recommend), someone sent a question in asking about how to improve their attention span in order to be able to read for longer, worried that social media had essentially shrunken theirs. The discussion that ensued following this was so interesting. Pandora and Dolly discussed how social media essentially provides quick-fixes to everything, allowing you to consume so much varied information in one go, which is perhaps why the ‘task’ of reading one book that is on one topic sounds like too much and boring for many people. After this, they thankfully assured their readers that it is impossible for our attention spans to ‘shrink’ and that, with practice, almost anyone can become an attentive reader. Despite this, it is still interesting to think about how social media is changing our habits and our ways of thinking.

Even as someone who loves to read I still find myself reaching for my phone rather than a book 90% of the time, a habit that I’m trying to change, and skipping through articles to the ‘important bit’ and ignoring most of what has been written. I think this is part of the way modern life is becoming more and more fast-paced and social media is obviously becoming such a big part of it. Since starting my blog I’ve found that I’m on my phone even more now but, because I use social media to promote and go alongside my blog, I can kind of count it as being productive. And it is a lot more productive and positive than it used to be, but I know that turning to a book or an article would be much more beneficial for my brain and my mental health than scrolling through Instagram for the 20th time that day.

Are Words Dying Out?

Finally, I wanted to discuss how the gradual death of words is affecting blogging. I only started my blog a few months ago but it’s already clear to me that people would rather scroll through my Instagram than scroll through my blog, which is fine because scrolling through my Instagram is less time-consuming and probably a quicker way to get to know me and see what I’ve been up to. Does this mean that blogs are going extinct? I don’t think so. I think/hope that there will always be people who love to gobble up words as much as I do and therefore blogs will always be able to survive through them, if not on such a large scale as photos do on Instagram. I think there is an element of compromising as well because putting a blog post up without photos is pretty much a no-go, which is saying something in itself. This can sometimes be annoying for me because sometimes I want to discuss something and don’t have the photos to go with it but I also understand this need for a visual aid and enjoy it myself. I compromise with this by just adding photos to a blog post that are, more often than not, unrelated to the topics that I’m discussing. And this seems to go down with readers of this blog just fine!

So until words truly do die a death, which I know the book-lovers of the world would never allow to happen anyway, I will continue writing on this blog, whether anyone reads it or not! And if you are someone who likes reading or writing but perhaps has fallen out of it, there’s no time quite like the present to start again- you could even take a look at my blog post on the best holiday reads for some reading inspiration! I’d love to hear your thoughts on how social media is affecting our reading and writing habits and maybe even some ways to ensure that you still get your dose of words in the comments or on social media.

Are Words Dying Out?

Are Words Dying Out?

Are Words Dying Out?

Top- Topshop

Skirt- Topshop

Shoes- Topshop

(yes, I really like Topshop)

Bag- ASOS

Why I Love Film Photography

Why I Love Film Photography

Film photography is something I got into a couple of years ago and I absolutely adore it. There’s nothing quite like dropping a roll of film off somewhere and feeling the excitement (and the fear that the camera shop will mess it up) of getting it back to see all these photos and memories. In a digital age where you can get most things with the click of your finger and make everything look perfect, there’s something so refreshing about having to wait for your photos and not being able to agonise over them during and after taking them.

People often find the fact I use a film camera very strange, with questions on it ranging from ‘who still uses film?’ and ‘what’s the point?’ I’m hoping this blog post will show those of you who are little skeptical about film how great it is and maybe even convince you to give it a go yourself. After going through multiple disposable cameras and loving the photos I took from them (and the novelty of having printed out photos) I decided it might be time to move on to a film camera because, not only is it cheaper than buying multiple disposable cameras but the photo quality is obviously better too. I asked for any old film camera for Christmas from my parents, after my researching came to no avail, and ended up with one that, looking back on it now, was actually pretty good- good job Mum! If you’re wondering it was the Olympus Superzoom 700XB- it lasted me about a year and I got some great photos with it, but it unfortunately broke after that just as I arrived in Rome, which I was absolutely gutted about as I was so excited for the photos  I was going to take on that trip. That is probably the worse thing about film photography, how unreliable it can be. Film cameras are no longer being made so you’re always going to be using a second-hand camera which means they are prone to breakages. This is something that comes part and parcel with all the good things about film photography and I still think it’s worth it. After all (most of) the cameras aren’t expensive, (I’ve spent as little as £10 on one and as much as £40 on another) this one in particular cost around £25 I think. And these little mishaps make getting amazing photos even more exciting.

After this I gave up on film for a few months, not intentionally but because I never got round to buying a new camera. When I did, I bought one for £10 off Depop (the Praktica G8000 autofocus). I only managed to get one roll of film out of this camera because the second roll I took came back blank, which I was so sad about (I might have cried a little bit). I’m not sure if this was my fault or the fault of the camera but to avoid it happening again and because I wanted a better camera anyway, I bought the Olympus MJU II Zoom 170 (what a mouthful). I paid £40 for this camera off eBay, making it the most expensive one yet, but you can definitely see the price difference in the picture quality. For reference, you can see some photos I took on my Praktica camera in this blog post from my trip to Berlin and photos I took on the Olympus camera in this blog post from Corfu and this one with lots of random photos. I’ve been loving using my new camera and, since buying it 2 months ago, I’ve already gone through 2 rolls of 36 exposure film, which is a lot for me!

Why I Love Film Photography

Anyway enough about the quality and the cameras, I want to talk about why I go through all of the trauma involved with film (broken cameras, empty rolls etc.) and why I love it despite and because of these aspects. As I mentioned, shooting on film just feels so refreshing. Having printed out photos (and seeing them before you see them on a phone screen) is such a novelty and something that will always make me feel so happy. I actually started putting them all in scrapbooks last year which I know will be amazing to look back on- note to self: must continue with that soon. The spontaneity of taking photos with a film camera is another reason why I love it. Whether I’m taking a photo of a scenery, friends or someone else is taking a photo of me, it feels so good to take the photo and leave it at that, with no feelings of dissatisfaction because you have no idea what the photo looks like. By the time I get the photos developed I’ve usually forgot about most of the photos I took as well and they always come as such a nice surprise, both because of the memories and how the photos actually look. Which takes me to the main reason I love film, and the reason I think why most people shoot on film, how the photos look! A film photo is so distinguishable in my opinion and I can’t even describe why I love the way it looks so much apart from saying that it looks real. I don’t know if this makes any sense but photos taken using film always feel so authentic and that’s what I probably love about them the most!

People are definitely starting to appreciate film photography more and more and if you’re thinking about getting a film camera, I’d definitely recommend doing so! They’re all easy to use and you could always start with a cheaper one if you’re not sure if it’s something you’ll carry on with. One thing I will mention is the expenses involved in getting photos developed, which are steep. It ranges from about £10-£15 to get a roll of film developed (if you want them on a CD and the prints) which is why, up until now, I’ve only shot maximum of 5 rolls a year. But now I’m coming to realise just how much I love film photography, I’m hoping to start doing it more frequently. Because £10 a month doesn’t seem like that much for photos I love and will (hopefully) cherish forever.

The photos here are ones that were on the same roll of film as my Corfu pictures and I thought this would be the perfect way to share them. All of these photos came out so well from the quality to the colours and they’re some of my favourites because of that and the moments they capture. I hope this blog post has inspired you to order a film camera and I hope you’re enjoying my film content as I’m hoping there’s going to be a lot more of it! If you’re looking for more film content definitely check out Lizzy’s blog Shot From The Street. She is the queen of film photography and is consistently creating some incredible content with film, always inspiring me. Let me know in the comments or over on social media if you have any questions about shooting on film (although I’m definitely no expert) or if there’s anything specific you’d like to see on my blog film-wise!

Why I Love Film Photography

Why I Love Film Photography

Why I Love Film Photography

Why I Love Film Photography

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Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

I’ve now officially finished my first year of university which is a very weird feeling as this year has flown by and it doesn’t seem so long ago that I was moving into my little room in halls. This year has brought lots of ups and downs but, looking back on it, I know I definitely made the right decision with what I chose to study and the university I chose to study at and I have had a really good experience. So I thought I’d talk a little bit about the best and the worst parts of my first year at UNI, what I’ve learnt (other than the fact that there’s only so many Jane Austen books you can read until you begin to want to bang your head against a wall every time you turn a page) and how I feel different since last September. I wasn’t sure about the cliche that university is ‘the best years of your life’ back in November when my mental health was at a low, but I really do feel now that first year truly has been one of the best years of my life, because of it’s difficult times and the things I’ve learnt from them and, of course, because of all the people I’ve met, the things I’ve done and the books I’ve read. The photos included are taken in my favourite area of Manchester, the Northern Quarter, with some of Manchester’s signature graffiti, which I thought were apt for this post.

Freshers week was a weird one for me, as it probably is for everyone, but, really, it felt like freshers lasted for the first two months of university and they were probably two of the best. The novelty of being in a new city and constantly meeting new people was great and any sense of homesickness hadn’t really kicked in yet so I was really able to soak everything up in a positive way. I was also really excited about my course as, at this point, it essentially just consisted of reading lots of fiction, listening to people talk about it, and discussing it, which really didn’t feel like work to me.

November and December were probably the shakiest periods of my university experience, as I spent most of my time writing essays and less time socialising and the homesickness really started to kick in. It was difficult but it also taught me how to be resilient by myself and, although it didn’t feel like it at the time, helped me to become more independent. It was also a time where a lot of the foundations of my current friendships were set, despite everything that was going on in my head, so, really, it was an important period of university for me. And, of course, it was Christmas, my favourite time of the year, which meant making the most of everything Manchester’s Christmas scene has to offer from the Christmas Markets to seeing ‘Nativity!’ at The Palace (a highlight of my year- truly a masterpiece.)

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

After some much-needed time at home with my family and a couple of weeks of revision, I went back to UNI feeling much better about myself in January and one of the first things I did was sign myself up to the university’s counselling service, which helped me immensely and allowed me to enjoy semester two so much more than semester one whilst being in a really good mental place. Whereas the first semester’s socialising activities consisted mostly of going out and drinking, I was now socialising in lots of different ways too, which was definitely a really positive thing. With the strike period during February and March came a period of uneasiness as there was nothing forcing me to leave my room and see people but it also allowed me to socialise at different times meaning I could do different things, get some extra hours at work (I worked as a Secondary English Tutor at high schools around Manchester for pretty much the whole year) and spend some more time on my extra-curricular activities, which is when this blog started coming into the works.

The post-strike period is a bit of a blur to be honest but I think it mostly consisted off doing lots of reading, writing essays and spending time with friends and then, before I knew it, I was back home for Easter for a few weeks. This was the period when I actually started my blog and since then, I’ve been feeling constantly inspired, if also constantly busy. I went back to UNI for a few weeks and juggled probably the most work I’ve had all year with essays to write, exams looming, lots of extra tutoring hours and writing for my blog 3 times a week but I feel like I managed pretty well and the fact that I was feeling a lot more content in myself and with the people and places around me definitely helped me to de-stress. I then spent a week in Corfu, which I won’t go on about because social media has definitely seen enough of that trip, came back to sit my exam and before I knew it it was my final week of first year. This week feels like it was the best yet because Love Island started. No, I’m joking it wasn’t because of that although watching Love Island with my friends in eachother’s rooms was definitely a highlight of the week and it really was the best week of first year for me. I spent the entire week with my friends and finished it off by going to Parklife, which was one of my favourite weekends and festivals in so long. I said it on my Instagram but it was the best way to end my first year at UNI because it was so much fun. But also because drinking and ‘partying’ are things that usually make me feel very anxious but it was a totally anxiety-free weekend, which made me feel so happy and proud of myself. The fact that my first year ended in the best way possible makes me feel so optimistic for the rest of my time at UNI.

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

I’m home now and have been for a couple of weeks and I’m already missing my friends and university generally. Although I’m definitely going to make the most of this summer, I have a new job that I’m loving and have some plans to go away, it’s such a nice feeling to know I’m already looking forward to going back to UNI in September because 7 months ago I couldn’t have imagined myself feeling this way. I absolutely love studying English Literature, feel so lucky to have met some amazing people and Manchester is such a vibrant and exciting place to be (even if Liverpool will always have my heart). I’ve learnt so much about myself this year, mostly how obsessed I am with working hard and being busy which, although does carry some negativity which I’m trying to let go of, has made this year very worthwhile and meant I truly have got lots of shit done. With this though, I’ve realised that grades don’t mean everything and have made myself busy in lots of areas of my life, not just UNI, thanks to the reassuring mantra of the student, ‘first year doesn’t count’. This has allowed me to expand myself in lots of different ways but has also improved my mental health so much and I’m now in the best place I’ve been in a long, long time.

I’m sure the next two years of university will fly by and so I’m determined to make the most of them in every way. I’d especially like to take advantage of all the wonderful things Manchester has to offer next year as one thing I haven’t done enough during first year is explore the city. But, as I said, I have a few months till I’ll be back- living in a house not halls (yay!)- so I’m putting that to one side for now so I can enjoy my summer. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I’d love to hear about your university experiences in the comments!

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

Goodbye For Now, Manchester | Reflecting On My First Year of University

Top- New Look

Jeans- COW Vintage

Shoes- Primark (bought in the last 2 months so should still be available in store)

Bag- ASOS

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Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

This outfit is probably my favourite out of all of the outfits I wore in Corfu so I’m really excited to finally share it on my blog. Sorry if you feel as though I’m dragging the holiday content on a little bit but I’ve had a busy few weeks since I got back and so didn’t have time to share the blog posts all at once but I do want to share all of the blog posts I planned because I like how the photos have come out for the most part! But I promise there’s only one more week of content from Corfu coming up. Although, I have just booked a trip to Barcelona in 3 weeks so there will be more holiday content before you know it.

Anyway, as mentioned this happens to be one of my favourite outfits I wore in Corfu and I’m so happy with how the photos have come out. I was actually expecting this to be my least favourite outfit from the trip seeing as it’s the most basic, just a t-shirt and a skirt. But maybe that’s just what I feel most myself in? I’m also a big fan of colour co-ordination, as you might be able to tell from past outfits I have shared, and baby blue is one of my favourite colours to wear so it’s unsurprising how much I love it.

I think the main reason I’m so happy with these photos is the location. Luckily, the hotel we stayed in in Corfu (Gretocel Eva Palace) was so beautiful and had a pastel colour palette of dreams. This particular location was on my route from the beach to my hotel room every day and I was eyeing it up for a while before I took these photos here. Pinky/peachy walls, which are a common feature of Corfu’s architecture, along with white railing, wicker chairs and a bit of greenery are my idea of an aesthetic dream and made me feel like I was on the French Riviera during the 1950s. The setting actually feels reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night which, although I personally think is painful plot-wise, provides some beautiful imagery of the south of France in the 1920s.

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Speaking of France, you may have noticed the slogan on my top, of which I have dedicated this blog post to, is in French. It’s one I picked up from & Other Stories, as you might have seen in my blog post on the new bits in my wardrobe, that I was immediately attracted to because I am always a lover of white T-shirts, anything baby blue and the French language. I obviously had to google translate the writing in the changing rooms to ensure it didn’t say something like ‘Pizza is life’ and was pretty pleased to find out it translated to ‘Sunset Boulevard’ as I think that’s pretty non-offensive and maybe even a little bit cool? The French language has always been something I’ve wanted to learn as I’m fascinated by it and the culture of France, you might even call me a Francophile! Although my GCSE in French put me off a little bit (2 hours straight weekly of copying from a textbook and equally painstakingly boring tasks was far from enjoyable), it’s always been a goal of mine to have a decent understanding of the language. Not only is the language in itself beautifully romantic (a cliche but one that holds lots of truth) but I would love to live in France one day, not forever but for a few months or a year or so and so obviously knowing the language would be necessary. Apart from said GCSE French and inevitably failed attempts to complete DuoLingo, my French language skills don’t go very far. Maybe (hopefully) this will be the year when I take this goal of mine a little bit more seriously and attend some real-life classes or something like that. Let me know if you’ve ever learnt a language independently or in an unconventional way (i.e. not as part of your full-time education) and if you have any tips for doing so as I’d love to hear them!

France seems like such an inspiring place to be creatively and I think spending an extended period of time there, namely in Paris, would be so good for me. It’s something I really hope I’m able to do when I finish university. I have considered a year abroad but if I was to live there I’d want to dedicate most of my time to being creative in ways that don’t involve my degree so I’ve ruled that out. But I hope I’m able to live out this dream one day, learning the language would certainly be a good start!

Anyway I thought everything in these photos came together quite nicely, from the French slogan tee with the Riviera esq location, to the vintage style sunglasses and skirt with the old-fashioned feel colours and style of this part of the hotel. I’m now off to play, if you can call it that, on DuoLingo in hopes of fulfilling my Parisian dreams!

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Boulevard Du Soleil Couchant

Top- & Other Stories

Skirt- Topshop (it’s now £15 in the sale!)

Bag- Zara

Sunglasses- Primark (similar here)

Shoes- New Look (old)

 

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The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

Welcome (back?) to my blog! So sorry that I haven’t been as regular with posting recently. With a holiday, exams and post-exams celebrating, I’ve not had much time to sit down and write. But I have 40 minutes till tonight’s Love Island so I have plenty of time to write this post and hopefully I will be back to posting on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays weekly now. One of the reasons I’ve let myself stop posting so regularly is because it’s another way of getting over my perfectionism. I’m definitely not a perfectionist in every area of my life but in the areas where I set myself goals, I most definitely am. I’m most regularly setting myself goals within UNI and blogging, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about the pressures of perfectionism in each of these parts of my life.

I decided to discuss this topic in a post with these photos because I very much had an ‘ideal image’ in mind before shooting them, as I do with most planned shoots, and the outcome wasn’t as good as I had hoped. This is partly because we were in a rush whilst taking them but also because they were taken on a busy street in Corfu where lots of people were giving me strange looks and I’m still not totally comfortable with shooting in front of strangers, especially when the people who I’m with/are taking the photos feel the same way. I was kind of inspired to use this backdrop for my photos by Lucy Williams’ recent campaign with Mango. Obviously my photos haven’t come out half as good as hers because I didn’t have a professional photographer shooting the photos, nor did I have a full day (or maybe even days) to perfect them, plus the backing and support of a major company. Considering the circumstances in which these photos were taken, I should be happy with them and I am after thinking about it! But this is just an example of one of the ways in which I hold myself up to ridiculous standards (and a segway into the rest of the post).

The Pressures of Perfectionism

So, personally, I am mostly a perfectionist academically. This is something I’ve talked about previously in my post on work-life balance as well as my post on my experience with anxiety, so I won’t really go into it too much. But it is interesting to consider how much of the pressure I used to put on myself (and still do sometimes) academically is really created by myself rather than influenced by social factors. The pressure I put on myself during A-Levels was mostly generated by people telling me how difficult they would be and perhaps maintained by the feeling that I would inevitably be letting people down if I didn’t do well. Although it really was me and, mostly, no-one else putting this pressure on myself, I think it was created by my social situation i.e. the fact that doing well in A-Levels is seen as the be-all and end-all during sixth form. My first-year of UNI has allowed me to be a lot more laid back because rather than being told that grades mean everything, we are instead told that grades don’t matter this year, which has been endlessly helpful for me.

Moving onto university (I’m on a roll with the segways today), this post was actually inspired by conversations I’ve had with various people about the social pressure of university, particularly inspired by one with my friend Lucy at Parklife festival this weekend. You might be surprised by the amount of people who have dropped out of university this year based on the appearance of their Instagram feeds. Social media definitely suggests that EVERYONE is having a great time at university because, as my friend Katy said, no one is going to post a picture of themselves during one of the (probably) many times that they are crying in their bedroom. First year of university is difficult for most people but because we are constantly told that it should be ‘the best years of our lives’ and that we should be extremely social, there’s lots of guilt attached to feelings of sadness, boredom and loneliness at university and I think the pressure to be perfect is extremely prevalent here. I’m glad I’ve been able to share some of my more difficult experiences with university on my blog because it is so isolating seeing people with lots of new friends going out every night on Instagram, when you’re spending your 5th night on a run eating leftover bolognese and writing an essay on a Jane Austen novel (I’ve written on three Austen texts this year which might just have put me off her forever). But no one, that I know of, is really having an amazing time all the time so just remember that. I’m definitely going to be making more of an effort in second year to talk about some of my more difficult moments at university on Instagram. Even if I don’t post a photo of myself crying in bed- because, quite frankly, I don’t want to do that and I am 100% sure that no one wants to see it- I might talk a little bit about my shitty week in the caption or on Instagram stories. Not to moan but to prove to anyone who might think that my life is in any way ‘perfect’ that I have as many shitty times as they do and so they should never feel bad about them or pressured to have to feel better.

My perfectionism is something I’m trying to let go of in all areas of my life and I think I have been able to do so in lots of ways. I’m never going to be totally laid-back and I really don’t ever want to be as my motivation and determination has been really good for me in lots of ways. But when it starts to affect my mental health is when I know I’ve taken it too far and hopefully in ignoring and abandoning any pressures to be perfect I won’t have to let it get that far again. My Instagram and Twitter DMs are always open if you want to talk about any of your experiences and if you’ve gone through anything similar, do get in touch! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it’s reminded you to focus on yourself and ignore any social pressures around you.

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

The Pressures of Perfectionism

Dress- Zara

Bag- Zara

Sunglasses- Mango (No longer available on the website, will update the post if they re-stock them)

Shoes- New Look (old)

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Finding A ‘Work-Life Balance’

‘Work-Life Balance’ is a phrase that I’ve heard used lots since I’ve started following the lives of bloggers through their blogs themselves, YouTube, Instagram etc. It’s something that they often talk about struggling with as because documenting their life is essentially their career, it’s difficult to draw a line. Obviously, I am by no means a full-time blogger and I, for the most part, don’t really see my blog as work at all- it’s a hobby that I enjoy. However, taking pictures, editing HTML (which mostly consists of me watching endless YouTube tutorials) and actually writing blog posts is time-consuming and so adding my blog to the things that I do has made it difficult for me to relax over the past couple of months. It hasn’t made me feel crazily stressed but I could feel the amount of time I was spending working taking it’s toll on me so I’m trying to take some steps to change that. With studying for a full-time degree, working as an English tutor part-time (which involves lots of planning), having a significant role within the campaign Girls Against, plus running my blog, I often work from 8am-10pm on weekdays with minimal breaks, which is really unhealthy and bad for my mental health. I discussed how work took over my life during my A-Levels in a recent post about my experience with anxiety and I’m determined not to let that happen again this year, even if I do enjoy all of the things I class as ‘work’ now. So here are some of the things I’m doing to try and ensure I make time for myself:

1. Scheduling in ‘holidays’.

People who work a 9-5 job obviously have a given amount of time for their holidays but, although with UNI we are given lots of time off for Christmas, Easter and summer, all of the other things I do continue throughout the year. So I’m trying to give myself official weeks off where I can just totally relax. I can’t say I’ve managed one of these so far but I am planning on scheduling some in over summer and I definitely took a few days off everything during Christmas and Easter, if not a full break, which felt really nice in itself. However, I am currently on holiday in Corfu (as you might be able to tell by these photos), the week before my only UNI exam this semester, which is an attempt to try and force myself not to go overboard with revision. I am also in Corfu because I am not going to turn down a week of sun. I’m doing 2 hours of revision a day (ish) whilst I’m here, one in the afternoon and one in the evening and trying to relax for the rest of the day. I’m also writing blog posts (currently sat on my balcony writing this one) and taking photos for my blog because, as mentioned, I enjoy this and don’t find it stressful whatsoever. Although I’m pretty sure this might be the only blog post for this week because I want to make the most of my time here.

2. Taking Weekends Off

This is something I’ve been trying to do since the beginning of university. I decided that I’d much rather work really hard throughout the week so I can have my weekends to myself. This is in part due to the fact that I mostly see my boyfriend on the weekends and I wanted to make sure I had time to see him but also because I struggle to take evenings off if I know I haven’t got everything done that I wanted to do that day and don’t enjoy the scheduled ‘relaxing time’. Whereas with weekends, once it gets to Friday evening I know that I’m done for that week and anything else will have to wait till Monday. This is, of course, something I won’t do during my second and third years of university as my workload grows, and something I don’t do 100% of time now, so I will have to find another method of relaxation then, but it works great for now.

 3. Making Plans and Sticking To Them

This is a really important one for me because I struggle to relax on my own because I’m always thinking that there’s something more productive that I could be doing. However, when I’m with someone else, I know that there’s no way I could be doing work at that moment and want to make the most of the time I have with whoever I’m with, so I’m really able to fully relax.

 4. Planning My Time

Something I’ve started doing recently is realistically planning my days hour by hour. This means that usually I really have got everything I wanted to do done by 8pm and can relax for the rest of the night. I’m still a bit rubbish at switching off in the evenings though and often find something else productive to do without even thinking about it. But telling yourself that you’re going to stop working at a certain time can be really helpful.

I’m going to leave this post here for today because I am hungry and I can smell the food from the restaurant of my hotel but I hope it helped you think about whether your work-life balance is truly balanced and gave you some tips to help it get there. I’m wearing this skirt from & Other Stories again because I just can’t get enough of it along with this top also from & Other Stories, both of which I featured in my last post about what’s new in my wardrobe. You’ve seen the shoes and the bag before but this bag is now back in stock on Zara (linked below)! I’m off to relax and enjoy the rest of the time I have in beautiful Corfu now but keep an eye on my Instagram to see what I’m up to.

Top- & Other Stories

Skirt- & Other Stories

Shoes- New Look (old)

Bag- Zara

 

My Experience with Anxiety

This past week has seen a great deal of discussion around the subject of mental health as it has been Mental Health Awareness week. Dealing with anxiety is something I’ve mentioned briefly in previous posts on my blog but is something that affects my life significantly, so I thought I’d take the opportunity of this week being specifically dedicated to mental health awareness to discuss my experience with anxiety. The photos I’m sharing alongside this post don’t really have anything to do with the topic of mental health but I wanted to write about this topic and share these photos on my blog so it made sense to include them together. Plus they were taken in one of my favourite places that I like to go to to de-stress. I want to share this because I’m very aware that social media and blogs only present the best bits of life, which can be really disheartening if/when you’re feeling bad and so I want my blog to be a space that is honest and really reflects me as a person. I’m also hoping that in sharing my experiences I can help anyone reading this who might have struggled with similar experiences feel less alone. I thought I should also mention that I know people have it worse than me and I’m really not writing this post to complain but just to bring awareness to the fact that all mental health struggles are legitimate and you should always try to look after yourself and those around you.

That brings me nicely onto the beginning of my ‘journey’ with anxiety, as I dismissed my feelings as ‘nothing’ for some time. My anxiety is very much linked to the education system, as I will discuss a little bit more later on, and they began when I started sixth form and studying for my A-Levels. From day one of sixth form, I was prepared to do crazy amounts of work because I had been warned again and again and again about how difficult A-Levels are. And from day one I pushed myself very hard to do as much work as possible. For the first few months, I thought I was coping fine and for most of the first year of sixth form, I felt like I was. It wasn’t until after my AS exams that I realised the extent to which I’d exhausted myself mentally and was left feeling a little empty (I know this sounds vague but I can’t explain it in any other way). I don’t think I’d really developed anxiety at this point but I’d definitely planted the seeds. By setting my standards so high in terms of work, I became so overly-organised, becoming overwhelmingly angry and disappointed in myself if I didn’t reach both my daily and long-term goals, which, in turn, inevitably led to lots of feelings of stress.

Going into my second year of sixth form were when things started to get really difficult, with the stress of applying to UNI and, of course, the exams. Again, I worked myself crazily hard from day one but, both because of the standards I had already set up for myself, the exhaustion I was still getting over from the previous academic year and because this year’s exams were much more important than the ones I had just sat, the pressure and the stress really started to get to me. The ‘work-life balance’ I had managed to mostly maintain in my first year of sixth form fell through the roof and the only thing I could focus on was work. I declined most plans because I was too busy revising and if I did do anything social, I spent most of the time resenting myself for leaving my desk and worrying about how I would fit all the work I had to do in around it. It’s important to mention that, at the time, I really did not think my academic habits were unhealthy because totally overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion has become such a norm within society, especially within the education system, that I thought what I was doing was normal.

Basically, to cut a very very long year short, I spent the entire academic year working towards my exams whilst feeling rubbish about my life and constantly worried. The only thing that was getting me through my exams was the thought of a couple of months off for summer; this thought, though, only further justified the amount I was working because it allowed me to maintain the mindset that I would have time for rest and relaxation later, which, as a mindset, is fine for a week or two but not for two years. During my exam period and the months leading up to it, I was so stressed that social interaction was genuinely too much for me. Having to even talk to anyone who wasn’t my boyfriend or in my family took so much energy that I felt like I was going to cry. I really didn’t understand this at the time and had no idea where this feeling was coming from and it obviously really damaged my friendships, which I endlessly regret now, but all I knew was that I couldn’t do it and that I would rather walk to my boyfriend’s house (mine was literally too far away) during sixth form lunchtime hours than simply sit in the common room for half an hour. This time in my life honestly feels like a blur and I can’t even remember if I had started having panic attacks at this point. But if I had they were infrequent and it was the general anxiety (feelings that my head might explode at any moment, sickness in the back of my throat and the constant holding back of tears) that affected me more.

Anyway, I got through the exams. But the feelings of relief that I had expected after sitting my last exam on a Wednesday morning (I remember this very vividly) just didn’t come. After finishing my GCSE and AS exams I remember feeling so relieved and happy to spend the bed in day catching up on TV and sleeping. But this time I could not relax. All the feelings of anxiety that I had been pushing away throughout my time at sixth form because I had ‘more important things to focus on’ now materialised. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this but I often find that, during the winter months, when you feel a cold coming on, your body will keep holding it back whilst your busy. But as soon as you have a lie in or let yourself relax in whatever way, the cold develops. This is what I think happened with my anxiety. My brain didn’t even have time to process it during sixth form so as soon as that was done with I had 2 years worth of worries and stress to deal with.

At the time I didn’t realise that this was why I was having almost daily panic attacks though. I was so confused and had no idea what was wrong with me because I was supposed to be happy now exams were over, wasn’t I? It didn’t help that the people closest to me were constantly asking me ‘What’s wrong?’ or telling me ‘I don’t know why you’re worried- everything’s fine’- not that they had bad intentions (I am so grateful to them for offering me support and help) but one of the worst things about anxiety for me is that often there is no reason (that you can identify) for it, which makes you think something is wrong with you, which leads to more worrying- it’s a vicious cycle.

I guess this constant anxiety throughout the summer months culminated on results day. I got into my first-choice University but I just didn’t get the grades I wanted and I was devastated. I understand that I was in a much better position than lots of other people and I totally sympathise with that- I wasn’t, nor am I now, comparing my position to theirs. All I could think about was the hell I put myself through with the end goal of the grades and I was just gutted because I felt like it wasn’t worth it- and all I wanted was for those terrible years to be worth it. I’ve been waiting for something good to come out of those feelings that I felt last August as that is what I would describe as the worst I had ever felt and recently I feel like it has. That day and those feelings made me realise that nothing is ever worth damaging your mental health for. Nothing. And if you’re in the midst of exams right now, please remember that.

Anyway, after this very emotional day, I had a few sessions with a counsellor. I don’t think it helped very much because my head was still in too much of a mess to be able to process my own problems and I generally spent most of the sessions crying and feeling shit about myself.

After this, I left for university and the first couple of months were great. There were some panic attacks and moments of anxiety but generally, I enjoyed them so much and felt the happiest I had done in a long time. But, once again (will I ever learn??) I had started pushing feelings of anxiety, to one side, which led to frequent panic attacks throughout the months of November and December. When I say I pushed them to one side I did so to such an extent that at one point, I had to leave a seminar to run to the bathroom (to avoid not having a panic attack in front of everyone in the room) and then miss all of my other classes that week so I could go home for a few days to recover. So the end of first semester was a little bit rocky. But, unlike during my A-Levels, I now felt comfortable talking to my family, boyfriend and close friends about how I felt and treated my mental health as something that was important, which helped a lot.

After returning to university after Christmas, and a difficult first week or so back, the first thing I did was book myself in for an appointment with the university counsellor. I had around 3-5 sessions with her and they helped me so much. I can tell you right now that before these sessions, I would not have been able to write this post because, firstly, I would have been too worried about what people thought about me but, mostly, because I had absolutely no idea where my anxiety came from or what caused it. My mental health has been much much better over the past few months and being able to talk through my experiences with the counsellor with a clear head allowed me so much clarity.

So now, here we are. My mental health is the best it has been in a long, long time and I’m learning (if slowly) not to push myself too hard. I’ve enjoyed my first year of university so much and feel like I have cultivated a really good ‘work-life balance’, whilst also being able to do other things that I am passionate about and enjoy, such as running this blog, plus a part-time job. I’m lucky enough to be heading to Corfu in a few days and will be spending the entire week before my only university exam there. This is really going to be a test for me of how far I have come in terms of allowing myself to become more relaxed about academics and right now I’m feeling great about it so let’s hope for the best. First year doesn’t count anyway, right?

Anyway, this has been one hefty post and I still really feel like I could have gone into much more detail… I’m bet you’re glad I didn’t! But if you are feeling like you’re struggling with your mental health in any way, please tell someone. Even if you feel like your struggles aren’t legitimate because they’re not on the same scale as some other people’s, they are and you should treat them as such because, as you can tell from hearing about my experiences, they can build up and get worse very quickly. Everyone struggles in some way or another and you should never feel embarrassed about your own struggles. Speak to anyone, just speak to someone because holding things in only makes them worse. My DMs on Twitter and Instagram are always open if you want to talk about anything you might be struggling with at the moment!

Top- Old Hinds Merchandise (no longer available but they sell more merch here)

Skirt- & Other Stories

Jacket- Topshop

Shoes- Vans

Sunglasses- Le Specs

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