Friends

Something I think about a lot is the fact that I don’t have a best friend. I have loads of fabulous wonderful friends who are ridiculous and I love them, but I don’t have that one person who I can go to with anything.

I mean, a lot of why is my own fault. After a bad relationship I kind of pushed everyone away. A lot of things happened that I bottled up inside and didn’t want to talk about. It became easier to just put myself above everything and it really made me selfish with my time. It was a lot easier to be alone than to be surrounded by people who didn’t know. It’s only recently that I’ve opened up about a lot of it.

I’m also terrible with keeping contact with people. When I went off to uni it was a new start and I could be a new person, and everyone from school reminded me of home and a person I didn’t want to be.

More recently after moving back home it’s hitting me that I don’t have that one friend soulmate. Someone I could cry on, tell anything, eat junk food with. Someone to tell me I’m being ridiculous when I need it. Spend hours on the phone being silly.

Is that a romanticised version of a best friend? Maybe. But it would be quite nice to have.

The reason I wrote this was because today is Mental Health Awareness day and there were a lot of tweets about people having wonderful friends who have helped them through so much. I do have that, but I still sometimes feel like an annoyance. But maybe one day I will find someone I mesh with so well that it won’t matter.

Anyway I know that I need to make more of an effort with people. Maybe I’ll meet my friend soulmate at some point, but I won’t if I don’t try.

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All Consuming Technology

What I find funny is that a lot of adverts for technology items focus on productivity and making it easier to get tasks done. What’s funny about this is that the reason I get nothing done is technology. My days are consumed with television, games, YouTube videos, and staring at my phone waiting for the next text/tweet/like. When I think about how much my life revolves around it, I feel flat and lifeless. Yet, here I am, writing a blog post on a laptop. Ironic.

Take these items away and what do I have? Time. Time that I would be forced to fill with activities, cleaning, actually leaving the house. But what do you do when you live somewhere you find tired and boring? When you’re waiting for a job to begin? When you know your days are soon going to be filled to the brim with travelling and hard work? The motivation to get up and go just disappears, because you want to relax while you still can. In my book, relaxing used to mean a cup of tea and a great TV show, but now Netflix is becoming a thing of nightmares that I can’t bear to use for longer than two episodes.

Basically what I’m saying is that I’m in a temporary life slump whilst I wait for my job to begin. It’s not fun and it’s incredibly boring, and I was hoping writing about it would ease the lack of motivation. Maybe I just need to accept this state of graduate living for a while.

A Feeling of Wrongness

I think it’s pretty clear that how you approach something can effect the outcome. For example, going into a lecture feeling hungover and negative usually ends in you counting down the minutes until it’s over. But what if you’re someone who strongly knows when something isn’t right for you, and no matter how positively you go into it, in the back of your head you know that you won’t be doing this in the future?

Recently I took part in a work experience opportunity that gave me an insight into a certain type of job and industry. Obviously I went into it feeling nervous; I had to get up super early (which my body never agrees with), I was going to a place I’d never been before, and I didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully I didn’t faint, which we all know is one of my party tricks. So basically I went into it feeling more on the negative side, simply due to nerves. It was all okay though, because I was doing what I do well. Writing. And the people were nice and it was a nice place. But within a day I knew it wasn’t for me. It had always been a perfectly viable job option, and yet I could sense this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

A lot of people do jobs that they don’t want to do in order to live. It sounds stupid, but I know when I’m not supposed to be doing something. I get a feeling of wrongness. A lot of the time it feels like I’m the one doing something wrong, maybe I have high standards or I’m just being naive with how I see my future, but once in a while something happens that doesn’t give me that sense. It feels right, and it tells me that I’m not crazy and that there are things out there for me.

My work experience ended on a high note, with my mentor giving me praise for my work. How can something I’m reasonably good at be something that I don’t enjoy doing? It’s food for thought, but is my feeling of wrongness just the universe telling me that this isn’t my path? Or is it just me?

My Time at University and Graduating

Two days ago, I handed in my last ever assignments at university.

I probably won’t be able to process this for at least two months. I mean, how could three years have gone by so quickly? But in reality, those three years are an accumulation of everything I’ve achieved. That equates to:

  • 46 Assignments (roughly)
  • 1 Exam*
  • 1 12,000 word Dissertation
  • Countless nights out
  • 1 Student who isn’t ready to leave yet

*Creative Writing doesn’t do exams, this was from my joint honours in first year!

After all that and the mountains of emotion that comes with university, I can proudly say I’ve finished. I will be graduating 21st October 2017, and I have no idea where I’ll be then. But wherever I am, I know I wouldn’t be there without this experience.

University isn’t for everyone, that’s a well known fact. Some people are naturally independent and charismatic, able to climb the career ladder without the help of education. But for me and many others like me, I was nowhere near ready for the world when I left sixth form. I had no life experience, no independence, and more importantly no confidence. Uni isn’t just a place to go and get pissed regularly with your friends. I mean, it can be, but it teaches you so much about yourself and what you can achieve. I know this is silly, but I went for an eye test on my own for the first time on Monday, and that was a personal success! I don’t think I could have done that if I hadn’t continued education to be honest. I mean, who knows where I would be if I hadn’t?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life before university. Now I do.
I didn’t know how to completely be myself and not care about others before university. Now I do.
Even silly things, like I didn’t really care much about make up before uni, but now I do because I found a love and passion for it.

What did university do for you? And if you didn’t go, what was the best part about not going? (Aside from the debt, lol)

Book Review – The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is also a Star is a wonderful tale of fate. It focuses around two teenagers who both have something bigger going on in their lives, yet somehow a crossing of paths makes their lives seem not so bad. It has a similar premise to the 2014 movie, Before We Go, featuring Chris Evans, in the sense that it’s focused around one single day.

Yet the thing that makes this book special, and especially memorable, are the chapters not focused around the teenage pair.

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(That is my cat in the background, she also appreciates a good book)

Obviously you have your main story, but Yoon did something especially clever by having certain chapters explain back stories of characters, meanings of words, and why some things happen. These interjections give you an completely rounded picture of the narrative, without feeling like the author is being intrusive or ruining the story. There’s an entire world in this book, you just have to dive in and see.

The characters are fully developed, although they’re both better versions of teenagers than I’ve ever witnessed. There’s a grown up air about both of them, maybe due to their situations, but it does make them seem only a tad unrealistic. They both firmly know who they are, yet I’m 21 and still aren’t completely sure of that. I suppose you could take it them as being easier to understand because they’re not representations of the average teenager, which makes it a smoother read for all ages. Despite this, I did like them both, as well as all the minor characters who featured in the book. I felt part of the story, and it made me realise that these situations do happen to people all the time.

It was an all together easy book to read – the words flowed carefully yet didn’t make you feel like you were reading a YA book. It’s a carefully thought out exhibition, guiding you, explaining things, informing you. I actually learnt things from this book, and I love it. Any way I can accidentally learn something is the best.

This is one of those books that you should probably read in your lifetime. It’s like literary fiction for a younger audience, because it’s special and one of a kind. Yoon has also written a book called Everything, Everything, which has recently been turned into a film! I would love to see a film version of The Sun is also a Star, but I think the interjecting chapters could be difficult to shoot. All together I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, which is quite an accolade from me, and I hope you take the time to give it a go!

My Thoughts on Expectations

You know what the one of the best moments in life is? The moment that no one bats an eyelid. The moment when you realise that no one gives a damn about the thing you’ve been agonising over for the past week.

We all have ideals about life, partners, education and ourselves. And of course this can be good, striving towards your ideals is a great motivation for doing well and making the most out of life. But how are we supposed to know if these ideals and expectations are reachable? We all have that one ideal version of ourselves right? Mine is a little bit like this:

This Lauren gets up early every day, make up perfectly done, ready to start the day with a coffee in hand and plans for the day. She also never has writers block, loves to jog and spends her weekends going on forest walks and discovering new things. She reads old novels and speaks intelligently about Hemingway and Fitzgerald with ease. She dresses in a sort of rocker/indie/Sarah Manning from Orphan Black type fashion, yet still appears to be completely on trend. She doesn’t spend her money on stupid things, yet still manages to have all the latest make up and clothes.

The key thing here, is that I’m referring to her as ‘she’. I’m doing that because she is not me, and as much as I want her to be me, she isn’t. My problem is that as much as I try to be like her, reading the novels and trying to write, I feel like a phoney. It’s because my expectation is so high that I’ll never feel worthy of my own creation. And that’s just completely stupid because I’ve created this out of my own head. To be that person, it takes hard work and effort, that of which should be spent on more important things. As much as I want to strive for better, this version of me is just a character. The stereotype of the perfect girl, but not the archetype. Unrealistic. Not being perfect is what makes us, well, us. And I wanted to write about this because it’s always something that bothers me, trying to seem like I’m more intelligent/mysterious/interesting than I actually am. I don’t need to do that, yet I still try. We all do. And I just wanted to tell you that you can be that better version of yourself if you reeeeeeally want to, but if you stay as you are, that’s okay too.

I didn’t mean for this to get so deep, but that’s how it turned out. Funny how writing brings things out, isn’t it?

Book Review – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

‘Waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come, and against the moments one was currently disregarding.’

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is a wonderfully strange novel. The characters are odd, as are the settings and the story, but man did I enjoy it. Give me a strange world and I’ll be happy. I have the Chris Riddell illustrated version which, as you can see, also makes for a beautiful visual journey.

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This is actually my first Gaiman novel, as I’ve never had the longing to read one before. Controversial I know, but I was young and foolish. I mean, I’m still young and foolish, but at least I’ve read some Neil Gaiman.

What I love about this story is its originality. It has the basic idea of a hero’s journey from rags to riches, at least in terms of quality of life. Gaiman takes a meagre life and turns it into a great one. Still, Richard Mayhew doesn’t become your typical hero. He’s just an ordinary bloke who happens to visit a strange place and do some kinda cool things. He’s still just as ordinary by the end of it, which instills a sense of reality into Gaiman’s work. Here we are in this crazy, ridiculous world of London Below, yet we can relate to the protagonist because he’s just like us. He makes us wonder what we would do if thrown into a similar situation. I certainly don’t know what I’d do if I met the Earl of Earl’s Court.

That’s another great thing. The puns. THE PUNS! The Black Friars, the angel Islington, and Old Bailey are fabulous characters with ingenious names. It does beg the question why no one has ever done this before though. I wonder what else you could do that with. Although, I just tried to come up with one but failed, so maybe it isn’t that easy.

Of course, the writing is wonderful. He manages to incorporate ingenious lines, such as the quote I mentioned earlier, yet still keeping it light and witty (he is basically goals). I also like the way it comes together. Most chapters are told from Richard’s perspective, but there are also many told from Door’s, or the infamous Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar. It freshens up the pace, keeping it interesting as well as rounding out the story.

After reading Neverwhere, I think I will read some of his other works. Its strangeness has peaked my interest enough to explore further, yet I have a feeling that this won’t be my favourite of his books. Although, of course, it’s wonderful, there’s a lot going on. This is completely my opinion, but I get a bit woolly-headed if I have too much to focus on.

The real question is, which one do I read next?

Writing as an Escape

Whenever I feel angry or completely hopeless, I’m always in need of an outlet. Talking to someone would be option 1, but that’s not always possible. There’s always those days where you just feel annoyed at everyone, so who can you talk to? I’m starting to realise that writing is that person.

Opening a Word document and throwing all my feelings onto a page is something which helps me figure out what I’m feeling. Just today, I wrote a short piece about my thoughts and ended up realising what I was actually scared of. It’s a great way of sorting out your mind. I’ve done it before of course, I went through a whole series of letters to someone I ended up naming ‘Pal’, and I often look back on them as a way of reflection. Here is one:

Hey Pal,

So there’s this girl. She has this steadfast dream and a hunger to achieve it. She oozes confidence, with the realisation that she’s good enough. She is completely willing to work hard in order to get to where she wants to be, yet she knows how to balance her life. Her firm grasp of what really matters makes her simply a wonder to be around – boys look at her and see a gem, someone who amazes but still understands. She is completely unique with the understanding that no one could ever really be unique. Her days are filled, yet she doesn’t feel busy or worry about what is next because she knows that you have to enjoy every part of your life. She is happy, and when she cries it’s for a real reason, or empathy for those with a real reason. But let me tell you something about this girl. She doesn’t exist. She is a figment of my imagination, because she is exactly the girl I desire to be. But is a perfect self who I’m supposed to be? Does the lack of strength in some areas simply make me human, or somehow wrong in my psyche? Does being nervous to spend time on my own in public mean something more serious, or is that just an excuse to hide the real problem – I’m human. Just not the human I wish I was. Is it ever really possible to be your ideal self? My ideal comes from films, television and stories, things I hate about myself and things I wish could be. Is that wishful thinking, or are stories really just stories? They must have come from somewhere right? Some people have said I’m naïve, for thinking a perfect me is possible, for seeing the romanticism of life and for trusting people I don’t really know. I just think that’s stupid… since when did everything become so dark?

Yours

The pieces you write don’t have to be articulate or novel-worthy, they just have to help you. For a lot of people, anything creative helps. Music, art, dance – they’re all ways of expressing yourself and giving yourself some clarity. And a lot of the time, you can end up with something really beautiful or inspirational. What I’m trying to say is, there are lots of ways you can make yourself feel better without hurting yourself. Like right now for instance. I got angry, wrote a short piece, then ended up writing this. How things change in one day!

And hey, if that doesn’t work, food is always a good option.

La La Land, and Why It’s Exactly What We Need Right Now (No Spoilers)

La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, has obviously been hyped up a lot. It’s a musical film, which is a genre normally reserved for Disney or film versions of stage shows. We have certain notions associated with musicals that I think La La Land is aiming to banish.

Take a stage show. The actors have been trained in singing, acting, and dancing probably for their whole lives, and they have a certain, how do you say it, flare. I hesitate to say cheesy, because they’re not. They just slot perfectly into that West End box. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that, because I LOVE stage musicals. Jersey Boys is one of my favourites, the harmonies being impeccable, and Matilda gives me feelings of pure joy. Wicked is also incredible, but herein lies the problem. We’ve become so used to this over-exaggerated, dramatic high note, arms-in-all-directions version of a musical. So much so, that people are complaining about the singing quality in a film where the singing isn’t at the forefront, and completely missing the point. And that’s why I think La La Land is so important.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are highly accredited actors. Incredibly versatile, they’ve played many roles opposite each other, which gives them an unrivaled chemistry on screen. They aren’t the first actors who spring to mind when planning a musical, but I am so glad they were picked. This chemistry is the key to this film. It’s not about the singing or the dancing. It’s about the emotions that can only be expressed through music. If you listen to the soundtrack (which I have now done a few times), you’ll hear that the only noteworthy singer featured is John Legend. Of course, he’s a talented man, but that’s the point of his character. He fits the role of the performer who wants to take jazz to another level. Every other actor is an actor. Because they’re playing actors. And lovers. And employees. And people. This is a film about real people, who just happen to sometimes want to express their emotions through song and dance. And if you’re that person, sitting there, criticising Emma Stone’s voice because she’s not doing riffs and tricks, then you’re completely missing the point.

This is the kind of musical film we need. It’s not a hopelessly romantic story line, it’s not cheesy, and it gives a nod to the fifties, when musicals were regular features in cinemas. It’s a new age for cinema, and I hope many films follow in its footsteps. It’s the perfect film for people open to new ways of seeing things, and also just a nice thing to see with a friend. I went with my friend Elly, and she said in particular that the cinematography was beautiful, and we studied Film Studies for a year, so we would know. Obviously. My mum, a hater of all things over dramatic, said she was a big fan of the film apart from the very first scene; this is coincidentally the only musical-esque number in the film. I did enjoy the scene, but I do have to agree that it’s slightly out of place when you consider the rest. I also just love the fact that the music in this film is predominantly jazz, which makes for a great soundtrack even without the film.

It fulfills the needs of a musical film exactly, without being too much. I love it and so do probably millions of others. Basically, go and see this film. It’s sooo worth it. Plus someone will probably force you to see it anyway so may as well do it yourself!

 

21 Things I’ve Learnt in 21 Years

So I dropped the ball. For a year. The last post I did was a while ago, and I probably should be more sorry, but I’m really not. Life (and laziness) gets in the way, and I’m now almost at the end of my degree. Since this year is all about things ending and beginning, I decided to reflect back in a series of little life lessons. These may not apply to you, and I know that 21 years isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, but I hope to be able to look back one day and remember what life was like. For now, here it is.

1.  It’s really difficult to get hair-dye off painted walls. Hairspray doesn’t work. Seriously, don’t spray hairspray on walls.

2. In school, people respect you for being the same. In university, people respect you for being different. Seriously. If you want to go to lectures wearing bright pink pyjamas, you do that.

3. You don’t have to read adult books just because society says you’re an adult. Difficult books are boring if you don’t understand. Read a YA book about wizards. It’s fun.

4. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to go out for an evening. You probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway if you weren’t in the mood.

5. In relation to that, BEING ALONE IS OKAY!

6. If you think an item of clothing won’t suit you, try it on anyway. You’ll always wonder.

7. It’s never too early to start celebrating Christmas, no matter how many people post statuses about it.

8. I’ve learnt so many things at university outside of my course, but that doesn’t mean you have to go. Get an apprenticeship. Get a job. Go to college. Work for your parents. Do whatever the hell you want. There’s no right way.

9. One thing that I’ve seen circulating online is that you should surround yourself with driven people who will make you want to achieve your own goals. As much as I do believe this, you shouldn’t rule out a person because they aren’t as driven as your other friends. Maybe you can be the person who will push them to dream. And if not? Well, at least you tried.

10. You can celebrate your own little achievements. You went to a dentist appointment by yourself? That’s brilliant!

11. Make up is fun. And it’s for you. If someone says you’re doing it wrong, don’t listen to them. Wear it however you like.

12. Dogs are very important.

13. Never go to someones house and refuse to eat what they make for you, unless you’re allergic or vegetarian. It’s rude.

14. If you’re playing Ring of Fire, you don’t have to drink the dirty pint. Seriously.

15. Don’t be afraid to return your drink to the bar if it doesn’t look/taste right. They’ll remake it for you!

16. Dressing up for costume nights is fun. Don’t be the person who didn’t make an effort.

17. Your relationship problems are your relationship problems. Unless you know they cheated on you, don’t post about it, tweet about it, or write a song about it. We don’t want to know, and it’s a low blow to your partner.

18. Buy Dettol wipes. They are lifesavers.

19. Don’t do all the work in a group presentation. Split it into equal parts and only do your bit. They’ll be the ones who look stupid when they have nothing to say.

20. Going to bed with a cup of tea early is okay. My housemates think I’m a grandma. I’m okay with it.

21. The last thing is that 21 is not an adult. I still feel 18. I don’t even remember being 19. Don’t expect to suddenly grow up. I’m not sure it’ll ever happen. Revel in your youth.