Autumn is here…

And I couldn’t be happier about it…

It is mid-September, the weather is changing and the leaves are starting to turn orange. I feel like it is pretty safe to say that autumn is well on its way. I love autumn for so many reasons: it means my birthday isn’t too far off which is exciting for everyone, isn’t it? It also means Halloween and dressing up isn’t so long away. The weather gets a little colder and crisper and the trees become far more beautiful. As I have just finished my MA and my brain is well and truly fried I didn’t want to completely fall off the blogging band wagon, so I thought I would write down all the reasons I love autumn (also just to excite myself).

A new start- I know people usually use January or spring as a fresh start but that seems completely illogical to me. I usually see in the New Year a little bit inebriated, no change there. Spring in the UK is rainy and cold and doesn’t have any fun holidays other than Easter, which, after 18 years in education I just associate with revision or dissertation writing. Autumn on the other hand is wonderful. It marks the start of a new academic year, you have all new stationary and a new diary and the memories of summer. Although, for the first time, I won’t be going back to university, this September marks a fresh start back at home, job searching (let’s just hope it doesn’t take too long or this optimism may disappear).

Clothes- I don’t care what anyone says, autumn fashion is infinitely better than any other season. I firmly believe I was put on this earth to wear dark and neutral coloured jumpers, jeans and boots and September is the time for this. Due to the fact that summer in the UK is a little less than delightful I have to (get to) repurchase all of my jeans because they all have holes in from wearing them all summer long. It isn’t yet cold enough for a big coat, so a jumper and denim jacket completely serve their purpose of keeping you warm and cosy. It makes me excited just thinking about it.autfashion

Beauty- This is sort of a little extension of autumn fashion but the one thing I hate most about summer is you can’t (I can’t) put a full face of makeup on without it making its way south after an hour of wear. Foundation goes patchy, my lips get dry and eye liner isn’t even an option. On the other hand, autumn is perfect for orangey, bronzey eye shadows and taupe lip stick. Your tan (probably fake like mine) still hangs over from summer so make up looks glowy and warm and stays where it’s supposed to.makeupedited

The adoption of general cosiness- Basically the things I like to do all year round become far better. I posted about Hygge a while ago, purely because I am a sucker for anything I find on Instagram but autumn is the season of Hygge. Sitting in a coffee shop reading and people watching for hours on end is much more pleasant when your coffee doesn’t give you a hot flush and, instead warms you from the inside out. Call me a child but walks are 100% more enjoyable when there are crunchy leaves on the ground, Beer gardens in mid-summer are nice but I am so ready to be sat, curled up in a big arm chair in the corner of a little pub with a glass of wine.steamedit

I feel like there is something in the air when autumn arrives. A sense of excitement forcing me to be more productive. Whatever it is, I am very pleased it is hear, now roll on Halloween.

 

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Feeling like an Impostor in your own life

This year has been a lot. Like so many of my peers I am coming to the end of my Masters, I have done a few internships at national news outlets and got a scholarship to study in Prague under journalists I had followed for a long time. Yet I feel like it has all been a happy coincidence.

From the moment my Postgrad Application was accepted to sitting writing this now it all feels like it has been one big fluke. This isn’t something I have actively thought about before until this week.

As I mentioned I had the absolute honour of going to Prague to study (and explore) last week. One night the lecturers and students were having some drinks and one of them turned to me, “what do you want to do Alice?” As a soon-to-be graduate this is not a question I am unfamiliar with and it isn’t exactly a difficult question. Yet I went bright red, sipped a lot of my wine and then answered “I don’t know.”

That’s a lie. I do know what I want to do, I have known for quite a long time but I was scared to say it out loud. What if they turned around, laughed in my face and said “you? Really?” Considering I had never met these people before and they were all genuinely nice people, this was obviously a completely irrational fear.

It wasn’t until I googled this that I found ‘Impostor Syndrome’. Coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes, the phrase was used to describe individuals who struggle to realise what they’ve achieved and live in fear of being exposed for their actual, incompetent selves. This can lead to self- sabotage and poor mental health.

I think, being faced with the fact that you undervalue yourself would make most people feel uncomfortable- what an arrogant thing to have to realise. But when you’re not applying for a job because you think you don’t deserve it or you’re scared to speak up on a placement because you’re scared people will think you don’t know what you’re talking about, it is a very real thing.

I interviewed a writer a little while ago, a real girl boss. At the end of the interview I was packing my things away and apologising if I was a bit jittery at the start and she turned to me and said, “Do any of us really know what we’re doing all of the time?”

It’s so essential to stay humble but when you can’t enjoy the opportunities you have earned it might be time to start backing yourself a bit more. Apply for that job or enjoy the praise you get for the work you have done- because why the hell not you?

Reserved for ruffians and sailors: How to unsuccessful navigate ‘smart casual’

Who invented the dress code ‘smart casual/? No really? I guarantee they were the type of people who would never be able to pick somewhere to eat but turn down all other suggestions and then not order chips and steal all of yours- AKA the worst kind of people.

Usually when you ask for a dress code it is because you don’t want to get it wrong- smart and casual are two different dress codes and for a girl who spends her life in pyjamas, I need the clarity. Can I turn up in trainers? Should I wear a dress? Can I fool them into believing I’m a grown woman?

Since leaving uni the prospect of real, adult job interviews has been more imminent than ever. It has finally dawned on me that putting in a 9-5 stint of House of Cards isn’t actually sustainable and by September my overdraft will be gone (not that I am already teetering on the cusp of it already).

Obviously different sectors demand different dress codes from staff. I count myself lucky that I can turn up to placements in my outdoor pjs or culottes as they are more commonly known, and it generally falls in line with what everyone else is wearing.

We are taught from such a young age that first impressions matter. Yet no one should judge a book by its cover (wow, all the clichés). How far are you supposed to go in interviews to impress an employer regarding the way you look?

This has stemmed from a very long standing debate with my parents about my facial piercings and wrist tattoo. According to relatives unless I want a job at sea I have severely decremented my chances of employment. A few months ago I was told that the shine off my nose ring or tongue bar could distract an interviewee. I’m easily distracted but really?

As I have written before, it baffles me that people still think they can pass judgement on certain aspects of people’s appearance like it really has anything to do with them. Yet I can’t help but think myself lucky to have chosen a creative sector where such traditional prejudices no longer seem to exist. Basically every other aspect of work life has evolved so why are tattoos still reserved for sailors in some people’s minds?

With body art becoming increasingly socially acceptable, both in and out of the workplace, are people really risking their careers by getting the latest body decoration?

Graduates are constantly told how competitive the work place is and to show a bit of personality in interviews to set themselves apart. Does that translate to- take out all of your piercings and hide your tattoo for god’s sake? I am tempted to say no. I would perhaps question the judgement of someone with a profanity tattooed across their forehead or an offensive symbol but that’s not exactly the majority of people and I am pretty sure if you spoke to them for a few minutes the tattoo would be the least of your worries.

I don’t think people would really consider their body art or piercings as a fashion choice as such and therefore would they count as falling in line with a dress code? Tattoos and piercings are, in some cases, forms of self-expression and can be talking points. It’s fine to not like them, each to their own. But I don’t believe you could consider someone to be unfit for a job because of them.

The Telegraph reported that it is estimated that 1 in 3 young people have at least one tattoo and they’re becoming more popular. Here’s hoping that discrimination towards body modification dies out as the new workforce moves up. But in the meantime, I’ll be keeping mine on show and if someone could just tell me what to wear to interviews (or give me an interview) that would be grand.

 

Not so guilty pleasures

The Danes got a lot of things right as far as I am concerned. Danish pastries have to be the undisputed greatest breakfast creation of all time (apart from coffee obviously). All Scandinavian men and women are effortlessly cool and completely beautiful (an unbiased fact). And lastly, I am aware I am so late to the party but this week I discovered Hygge (pronounced hooghae).

In a week where the RFU cut the professional women’s contracts, Donald Trump announced that he would ban transgender soldiers from the US military and Charlie Guards parents enter their last court appeal for their baby to spend his last days at home, twitter has been a pretty dark place. It was the late discovery of Hygge that saved me from falling down the never ending rabbit hole of the 24/7 news cycle.

Defined as a Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”, Hygge is seen as a key aspect of Danish culture. It is basically finding joy and pleasure in the very small things.

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Actually leaving the twitter/ my laptop/ the house in general

Initially I wrote it off as some hippy dippy, Instagram solution to feeling stressed out. However, I wrote a few months ago about how I struggle to maintain balance when I am going through down times. I know personally, I can really lose sight of any sort of perspective regarding stress and anxiety when I am faced with a twenty point to-do list, £10 to my name and very imminent deadlines.

Once you get past the images of hands cradling a mug, candles lit at dusk on a picnic table, bikes with woven baskets and child safety seats leaning against a colourful brick wall, Hygge, as a philosophy, does make a lot of sense. Going outside and looking after yourself (inside and out). Taking time out to do the small things you like doing just for yourself- be that reading before you go to sleep with a cup of tea or getting up earlier to have quiet time.

Obviously #Hygge does appeal to me because I’m basic and looking at pictures of artisan coffee and old bookshops is my jam but we so rarely get a chance to sit, in total and complete silence and either do nothing or take the time to do something we love, uninterrupted.

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Any other excuse to go for coffee

Everything is so none stop now and we’re all so busy that doing small things we enjoy becomes a source of guilt. If you know you are a nicer person if you have a cup of coffee and some time away from twitter before you get out of bed *cough* me *cough* then do it and don’t feel guilty about it. At the end of the day, it will still be there when you’re done.

I would just like to add that Twitter was not a completely horrendous place. Rihanna met President Macron and the First Lady to chat about girl’s education around the globe. Love Island finished and the tweets between Kem and Chris were everything we could ever hope for and more. If someone wants to commission their own series I am there for it. And last but by no means least President Justin Trudeau is the cover star for Rolling Stone…be still my beating heart!

 

 

 

A week on Twitter: Morris, Murray and privilege

Privilege is a funny thing and not something I really think about all that often (probably because I’m privileged enough not to have to). However, having done three years of a social science undergrad I have read more papers and written more essays on gender, class, race and sexual privilege than I care to even dwell on.

And every so often something happens which makes the hierarchy of privilege so painfully obvious that it is difficult not to think about it. This week has been a interesting one.

I have been on placement all week which has had me doing a whole range of things, namely getting up at 6 (vom), enduring the busy commute and then looking for stories. All of these activities bar getting up in the middle of the night (because 6 basically is the middle of the night) generally features twitter.

I do love twitter. I love that it’s quick, newsy but opinionated. When the news broke this week that tory MP, Anne Marie Morris was ordered to resign after using the ‘n’ word in a meeting (and absolutely rightly so) I was (already) angrily scrolling through my feed on the train.

It threw up a lot of questions, primarily, what the hell? Why was that saying in her head? What age are we living in? Is this real life?Colin-Farrell-WTF.gif

Her complete ignorance to how it had caused offence got me thinking about how people often don’t think something is an issue if it isn’t happening to them. They say ignorance is bliss. I can 100% guarantee Morris has never had her whiteness called into question. Her race is probably something she doesn’t even think about. But come on. I couldn’t believe there were debates going on as to whether her resignation was an overreaction.

Twitter wasn’t a complete annoyance though. It also provided me with the gem that is the video of Andy Murray correcting a journalist after his loss at Wimbledon. If you haven’t seen the video, where have you been and I very strongly recommend it. As a journalist makes the statement that “Sam is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009” Murray very smoothly interjects and says “Male Player”. There is a lot of nervous laughter (from the journalist) and Murray continues to look completely disinterested.

I would have loved this interaction, however it had played out- if Murray had jumped up on the table, thrown a copy of the female eunuch at the journalist and ripped his top off to reveal a ‘females are the future’ top hiding underneath. But the reason it was so brilliant was that Murray corrected the journalist so casually, so naturally because he legitimately see’s the likes of Serena Williams, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki as his peers, his equals.giphy (5).gif

This is not performative feminism in any way shape or form. He’s not doing it to get in his wife’s good books or look like the ‘nice guy’. We have got good at putting up a front of being socially accepting and aware. Progressiveness is sexy. So many people were against Trumps Muslim ban, holding it up as a blatant injustice. Yet those same people get offended when being pulled up for saying “Oh but they’re not like other Muslims.” Millions of people will attend Pride across the world yet some of those people will not use the pronouns that trans men and women go by because “well they’re not really a man/woman are they?”

There are so many Andy Murray’s out there,  people who are genuinely socially aware. Who care not because it is going to get them 10 more followers but because it is the right thing. It’s just a shame that some of the people we voted into power don’t seem to feel the same way.

The Girls by Emma Cline

I don’t know if it is just me but I find that university completely kills my desire to read. I used to love reading- be that novels, non-fiction, biographies but when you have been in a library for ten hours, the last thing you want to do is pick up a book.

After not reading at all last year I made, what I thought would be a really easy resolution (as I am pretty anti-new year’s resolutions). I decided I wanted to read a bit more; maybe a book every one or two months. It is now July and I can finally say I finished a book, cover to cover, for the first time in a very long time.

The book in question was ‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline and oh my word! I cannot remember for the life of me where I first heard of Clines debut novel, whether it was recommended or I was just drawn in by the cover (I’m a sucker for a nice cover).File_000 (2).jpeg

From start to finish ‘The Girls’ completely broke my heart. It captured my imagination and by the end, well and truly blew my mind. If I am half the writer that Cline is in my lifetime I will be more than overjoyed.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The book is set in two different time periods, following Evie Boyd in the present day and 1960’s California. Disenfranchised by day to day life and estranged from her parents, Evie is lured into a cult by a charismatic leader, Russel and mysteriously beautiful member, Susanne. Mirroring the Manson cult, there is inevitably a bloody conclusion.

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The colour in Clines prose and the dreamlike way she describes the lost girls and the ranch they live on is sexy and intensely consuming. You won’t be able to put the book down. While Evie’s situation becomes very foreign to the majority of us, Cline describes the awkwardness of being 14, negotiating the adult world when you aren’t quite a child, so acutely it is like she is telling you exactly how you felt.

I have never come across a writer with such an amazing understanding of the human condition. If you haven’t read it, it is the perfect summer read!

 

 

Everything is about to change…

So, as it turns out when life gets busy, I seem to drop everything and turn into a lethargic mess, hence the lack of blog posts over the last couple of weeks (look at me sounding like a broken record).

I am writing this from what can only be described as a cave made out of my own ‘stuff’. Like so many other students, I moved out of my university flat this week (sob sob). Saying goodbye to my flat 9 babes came round far too quickly and took me completely by surprise.15043432_1196998870335579_8330948759835901952_n

If you have ever done the ceremonial move as a student you know the cleaning process that goes before it. So naturally, instead of getting an early night so we would feel fully refreshed for our day(s) of tidying and scrubbing we decided to demolish all of the alcohol left in the flat and go out one last time. Waste not want not.

After being faced with the sheer amount of crap that I have managed to accumulate over the last four years I packed up my life, cleaned my room only to anticipate my deposit being ripped away from me and drove home (the suspension on the car will never be the same again).

I hadn’t thought about unpacking the car again until I was sat on the sofa with a cup of tea, thighs burning from walking up and down the stairs, so I decided I deserved a break. A three day break actually.

After a fun long weekend of catching up with family, going out for food and bingeing love island from my bed, I am now finally forced to move back into my old bedroom. That or setting up camp in the middle of the room and hoping my parents wouldn’t notice that all of their suitcases are gone.pack.gif

This is the first time I won’t be going back to Sheffield (or any other educational establishment) in September in my entire life. I thought I would feel more euphoric about it than I do.

In reality, it is really bloody scary. I have to get a job now, something I so craftily avoided last year. I wrote a post about how I felt finishing my undergrad but this feels completely different. There is no way I want to stay at university but the uncertainty of ‘what next’ is killing me.

If you have followed my blog for a little while you’ll know I like a recap post– a post looking back on my year or three.

There is no doubt that this year has, perhaps been one of the hardest but most rewarding years of my life. I haven’t been able to see some of my main gals everyday which has sucked but I have also had some of the best opportunities and made friends I know I will have for life.

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I won’t miss living in student halls, although my house does feel deafeningly quiet and the prospect of not seeing out hangovers over pizza and crap TV is a little bit heart breaking. But after 4 years of being a student I can (almost) say it is over.

Now I can either go and find myself in Asia or start a vicious cycle of underpaid internships for the next ten years of my life. The options are endless…