Monday, 25 June 2018

Feeling Boxed In By Blogger Pressure

Here I am. It is 12.40 on a Tuesday afternoon. I am waiting in for a parcel. Ava is asleep and Isaac is at work. I have been staring at a blank 'new post' page on Blogger for the last ten minutes like a post will magic itself up out of nowhere. I keep opening unfinished drafts, writing a sentence, then closing them. I want to write but I don't feel like I have anything to say. Or anything meaningful to say.

When I first started this blog, I would post very often - sometimes every night. I would write about everything and anything. I would snap some pics on my camera and upload them totally unedited. There wasn't that much thought going into it and I loved it. And other people loved it too. I would read their blogs and they would read mine. It was like having a whole lot of pen pals - we were all interested in each others lives.

But now I feel this massive pressure when it comes to blogging. I scroll through Bloglovin and everyone has professional photo shoots coupled with really thought-provoking pieces about life and love. I keep hearing that my posts should be long because Google likes that? I worry that a potential brand looking to collaborate could be reading this and quietly judging the fact that I have just written 'potential' three times and I still probably don't have the correct spelling. I feel like I have to alter myself and my writing to be likable, to gain followers, to progress, to get brand deals, to succeed. I have to be the girl next door type. I have to be political but not too much. I have to wear 'girl power' t-shirts and write a paragraph about how feminism is so great and we need to fight the patriarchy without actually talking about anything real. Like how women are producing these t-shirts for pennies on the other side of the world so we can stand up and declare how good a feminist we are. It is like a true irony, right?

I feel boxed in by my own desire to succeed because I know what people like and I am more than aware that I am not that. I am not a Disney princess girl in a fairytale suburban life where everything is unicorns and sparkles and pretty donuts and afternoon lattes and expensive makeup palettes. I am not rich. I am not blonde with blue eyes and a button nose. I am not all of these things that I have tried to pretend that I am throughout my blogging career. I have battled trauma and eating disorders and heartache and poverty over the last 6 years but my Instagram feed has always shown coffee shop avo toast and half-smile selfies. I have been at my very lowest point and I still kept up pretences. And I just feel so done with the falsehood of this industry. I hate curating myself and my experiences into something a little more palatable.

I'm not saying that I don't love taking outfit pictures and reviewing eyeshadows - or reading blog posts like this - but I just don't see people like me in the blogging world, especially succeeding in the blogging world. But maybe that is because people like me are pretending to be something else. I mean, even I am to an extent. I like people to think that I have money to go on fancy holidays or to laze around in coffee shops and have a new outfit on every time I post but I really don't. I like to write about my uni experience like I had an amazing time but really I was miserable and it was the darkest time of my life so far. I act like I didn't have to go to the council and make a homelessness appeal a few months ago. I guess, I act like I am middle class because middle class people are who I see succeeding. And I hate that I didn't share all these things because I know other people have been through them too. I hate that I have pretended and tried to keep up appearances when I could have just been real and been someone that you guys could relate to. But also I don't blame myself too much. If I had written about these things, I don't think that I would have gotten the amazing brand deals I have gotten recently. I do want to succeed and this industry kinda sucks in that there is a real formula for achieving that success. If I don't put up pretty outfit pics coupled with a few paragraphs about self-confidence or toxic friendships, will I make it?

But I don't know where to go from here. Most days I love this industry. I love having a community and seeing other women excel. But I find that I censor myself a lot here and I don't want to anymore.

Monday, 18 June 2018

How I Found Out I Was Pregnant

Finding out that I was pregnant was an absolute surprise. I was in my final term at uni and had only moved in with my husband a couple of weeks before so it was really unexpected. Thinking back, there were quite a few signs that I had overlooked but, at the time, I thought nothing of them.

The first major sign that I had overlooked was that my period was late. I travelled to visit my husband in the Lake District around the 25th of February and expected my period around the 27th. It didn't come but, for some reason, I shrugged it off. I was used to a little irregularity in my periods - especially as I hadn't been eating enough on some crazy diet and with all the final year stress too. So I really thought nothing of it. I had been working like mad doing nights, trying to plan coursework and attend lecture during the day, and fit in a relationship too - I didn't have time to worry about something as small as my period.

On about the 8th of March, my husband moved into my little room in my student accommodation in Cardiff and waved the Lakes goodbye. My period still hadn't raised its ugly head but I still wasn't thinking about it. But the very day that my husband moved in, I was sick as a dog. We had spent the day going around the shops and having food out but I had had the worst stomach cramps all day. I remember thinking it must be either my period finally arriving or a bad bout of food poisoning. I managed to make it home before I was very sick for the first time in my adult life. Somehow pregnancy still didn't cross my mind. I blamed it on some Shake Shack cheesy chips I'd eaten and got on with enjoying having my husband around.

After about another week, I noticed that my sense of smell was so strong. It was crazy. I mean, I could smell Quavers from the other side of the cinema when we went to see a movie. And I had gone off of certain foods and really wanted to drink orange juice. It was weird as I usually eat anything and everything. So, my husband suggested I take a pregnancy test. I just laughed as he bought me one and sent me off to the public loos in St David shopping centre. Flash forward to five mins later and me frantically texting my flatmate telling her that there is a very faint line in the positive window. I was squinting thinking that it must just be my eyes.

When I left the loos, I told my husband that I wasn't sure as there is a mega faint line so I have to take another test in a bit. Later on, I took a test when we stopped off in Wok To Walk (you really would have thought we'd be doing this at home, right?). Same again. Mega faint line.

So, we go to Boots where we got the pregnancy tests from and asked to talk to the pharmacist. He assured me that there is no way that I could be pregnant after I showed him the tests and that they are probably faulty. I mean, the line would be darker, right? To be sure, I invested in a digital one and headed home.

Once we got home, I went into the loo and braved the digital test. Two minutes later, 'pregnant' flashed up in the window. Lord, I almost died. My mind went crazy. Like, how can I be pregnant?! I was literally crying and my husband was hugging me tryna calm me down whilst also panicking himself. We weren't ready for this! After a sleepless night for my husband and a not so sleepless one for me after that day of endless walking and peeing on sticks, we kinda regained some composure. After every word had been said, we woke up assured that we could do this. We were both so scared but I started to feel excited about this journey and now, over a year later, we have a lovely 7 month old girl who we adore and it all worked out for the best. Although I still can't stand the smell of Quavers.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Unpopular Opinion: Blogger Edition

A big part of blogging is the community. I love all my blogging babes and the support we all give each other. It is awesome how the same ladies always like and comment on my things and share my content. I love finding people who like similar things to me and being able to totally fangirl over anything from a lipstick to this one restaurant we both went to in Krakow. But I also feel this pressure to keep up appearances in the blogging community and either be enthusiastic about something I'm not that fussed about or just keep schtum if I'm not into something. Until today! Today I am sharing all the things that bloggers love but I kinda don't like very much (please don't unfollow me!).

I'm not fussed over Disney
Ok, I like some Disney films and I grew up watching the classics but I don't understand the absolute hype over everything Disney. When the Primark merch came out, I was like 'yeah, it's cute but not something I would buy'. Sure, I would go to Disneyland - and I definitely intend to take Ava there one day - but I am not a massive fan girl. Also I am still waiting for a Jewish princess.

Krispy Kreme donuts are really sickly 
Krispy Kreme donuts are another thing that I don't mind but really am not fussed on. If someone buys me one, I would be happy but I could probably only eat half. I mean, I once ate a whole Battenberg over the course of an evening but a whole Krispy Kreme donut? It's too much for me. And they all kinda taste the same to me. Like, give me a Tesco jam donut instead.

Instagram themes are too much effort
I can appreciate the work and creativity that goes into maintaining an Insta theme - if you have one, you are basically Van Gogh of the influencer world - but it is too much effort and sucks all the fun out of Instagram for me. I have tried to keep a theme before but it just made me hate Insta and want to chuck my phone out of the window. I love snapping pics then just putting a filter on them and sharing them - I don't have the time to be planning my grid. Big up people who have a theme but I'm gonna keep my hot mess of a grid myself.

Being a working class blogger is hard
People like to say 'hard work pays' whenever anyone raises a class issue but the influencer world is definitely geared towards those with excess cash (dosh, wonga). Like, I'm not gonna post a house tour because we don't even have carpets in our house as the council didn't put any flooring down and we're still saving to do it. As a working class blogger, I feel like I have to pretend and act like I am living a lifestyle which really isn't my reality.

Copper wire baskets are rubbish
Remember those copper wire baskets we all bought from Primark? Absolute trash. They're the storage equivalent of eating soup out of a sieve. I swapped mine out for a lined wicker basket because, get this, stuff doesn't fall out the second you put it in there. What can you even keep in there? The holes are too big. Nothing stay in there. It is ridiculous.

Freakshakes are just that - freaky
It is milkshake and cream and sprinkles and cakes and Lord knows what else stuffed into a mason jar and sold for like £5? When I could just a milkshake from McDonald's? I'll pass. I like a milkshake as much as the next girl but freakshakes are next level and I'm not into it. They are just too much of everything.

I hope you liked my brutal honesty and haven't unfollowed yet. Now it is your turn - what are your unpopular opinions that you haven't dared to share with your blogging pals?

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Things We Learnt Living Without WiFi For Two Months

For most millennials, this is a modern day nightmare but, up until a couple of weeks ago, this was our reality. We had switched to Talk Talk as our broadband provider a month before we moved house but when we got to our new house, there were so many issues setting up the broadband. Engineers kept booking and cancelling. Some came but didn't manage to fix the problem. Talk Talk kept pushing the date back. In the end, what was meant to only be a couple of weeks turned into a couple of months. And for two young people, this was pretty difficult. I'm sure some people would scoff at us but the internet has become such a massive part of all of our daily lives so to suddenly not have it did cause some issues. But we did learn a few things.

Libraries are super important
These two months have taught me that we need to preserve libraries at all costs. To start with, I was using Costa as a place to settle down in for a couple of hours with my laptop and a coffee but then I thought about how much I was spending in a week just to use their wifi and decided I needed a new place to camp out in. That's when we discovered the idyll which is the local library. It is free. It is quiet. The wifi is unlimited. And you can even print stuff. We need more places like this.

I use my phone too much
For the first few weeks, I kept buying data add-ons so that I could continuing scrolling through Insta but, by the end, I wasn't actually so fussed about using my phone. I spent time doing other things like making bread, playing silly games with Ava, going on long walks, and actually watching films without giving a running commentary of the action on Twitter. This time showed me that I am hugely reliant on my phone in so many ways. Instead of looking up recipes, I trusted my gut and experimented. Instead of walking the route that Google Maps told me, I explored different places. In all honesty, I kinda didn't want to use my phone anymore by the end of the two months because I realised that I was wasting so much time on it that could have been used doing other things - more beneficial things.

Social media can be bad for your mental health
Social media is a great place to make friends and find a community of people with similar interests to you. But it can also be a very negative place and I find too much of it really draining. Whether it is the bigots of Twitter bringing you down with their misogyny or the unworldly beauty of Insta models making you feel not so good about your rolls and not so shiny hair, social media isn't all unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes you really need to just take a time out and breathe. And remember that no one is perfect and that bigots are not worth the energy of even thinking about.

The internet is a super useful tool
Despite loving my time offline - and kinda never wanting to return again - there is no getting away from just how useful the internet is. Anything you want an answer to is a quick type into Google away. Personally, I love using the internet for finding new recipes to try and different places to plan to travel to (and for a cheeky ASOS browse). I think once you've had the internet, it is super difficult to live without it as it makes some things so much easier.

At the end of these two months, I feel like I have learnt that I need to moderate my internet use more and spend less time aimlessly scrolling. I want to make a conscious effort from now on to put my phone in another room and spend time just being. I want to give Ava my undivided attention more often and I feel like spending less time online will be a big step in the right direction.

Would you be able to live without wifi?
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