Self Love Club

Oh Hey! Long time, no speak (shock). Since England went into full on heatwave/ football mania I have to say I have been taking some time to see friends, top up my vitamin D levels and become the bronzed goddess that hibernates within for the other 360 days of the year. Hence minimal screen time and no blog posts.

Peak heatwave I was sat outside in the garden with my parents of an evening. We don’t do this (ever) so it was nice just to sit and chat. Conversation somehow wound up on my exes and past relationships. As we called into question nearly every life choice I have made since I was 16 and fondly remembered a couple (very few) of the people I dragged into their lives my dad piped up and said, “yes but you have to be nicer to yourself, it is good to see that you’re back to doing you.”

I just sat there. Usually, if we are talking relationships the only things my dad contributes are slightly sickening anecdotes from before he met my mum and became a tamed man or the outrageous nicknames he has for my exes which ‘coincidentally’ only surface when things fall apart. This was a deeper insight.

I remember the first boy that really broke my heart. We were 13, and he had a Bieber cut and rode a skate board. It was a real 2008 Avril Lavigne dream. I thought he was far too good for me- a god amongst men (boys). Then he cheated on me and I vividly remember sitting on the kitchen counter in tears with my mum and vowing I would never like another boy again. If only that were true.

I would like to think I am okay in myself. I definitely need my own space, am somewhat comfortable in my own head and wouldn’t say I am one of those people that prefers to be in a relationship. However, I know I am still cripplingly terrified of disappointing people, of losing them when in reality they are making no effort to try and keep me.

No matter how self-confident you are, how many girls nights you have or how many Slumflower threads you read we still live in a society that dictates that women have more cultural and sexual currency and worth if they are pleasing to men and change themselves for their partners. If ITV2 is to be believed, so long as you’ve got a peachy bum and perky tits the world is your oyster and you can try and unlearn all of the misogynistic ideals that we have forced on us from date dot but it is really fucking hard.

It is so easy to compromise your own self love to impress a person who isn’t adding value to your already amazing life. I have sat for hours with my insanely intelligent, empathetic, kind, beautiful friends analysing why some trash guy hasn’t text them back and what that has to do with them (the answer is always nothing by the way).

An insecure persons idea of wonderland is tearing down a women they thought was too good for them in the first place. If you are going out there, operating on a standard that you know you deserve in full knowledge of what you bring to the table that is really attractive. It isn’t bitter, it isn’t aggressive and it is only intimidating to those that are too weak to handle you. Take up as much space as you want!

We like to think that we go through life unscathed. I know I have gone into relationships with the belief that I have zero baggage from the one before. Yet I still think about someone I broke up with two years ago on a weekly basis and am still working through fall out from my last relationship now. Just because someone hurt you doesn’t make you weak.

We need to stop screwing ourselves over. Saying that you are a self-saboteur and you’re not good at relationships without considering that the people you dated might not be totally healthy for you is so easy. Why blame someone else when you can talk yourself into a corner?

Growth has taught me that nothing and no one out there is worth me getting out of character for and you don’t owe anyone pretty!

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Wine Wednesday: Talk Dirty

We literally live in a society completely obsessed with sex. So why do we still find it so hard to talk about it?

I am not sure at what point I am going to have to start paying Love Island for the true enrichment it brings to my life. Not only is it quenching my inner thirst for gossip it is essentially writing my blog. A couple of nights ago the islanders played a lovely game of Mr and Mrs- harmless enough. This is one of my favourite drinking games- it is always nice to find out what your flat mates favourite sex position is so when you’re shouting through the wall at them you can make your off putting comments really specific.

Whilst watching Wes call Laura ignorant (and then wonder why she was so upset) and Danni and Jack come out on top was all very amusing, Eyal and Megan gave me the most food for thought (not a sentence I thought I would write about either of them).

When Jack asked ‘how many boys has your girl slept with?’ and Eyal wrote 37 Megan looked a little beyond offended. We’ve all been there. Either you or your partner has one too many vinos, gets a bit brave and asks the other about their past. It is a bit awkward but why wouldn’t you want to know? Because you genuinely don’t care? Or because you enjoy living in denial that your partner hasn’t actually been with anyone else?

Eyals assumption and Megans reaction are both really problematic. Eyal assumed that Megan would have slept with 37 boys because she is open about sex- that by the fact that she felt comfortable talking about it would mean that she is ‘up for it’. Similarly, if Megan is so open and comfortable talking about doing the deed then why was she so offended?

It doesn’t matter how enlightened you consider society or your inner circle to be- slut shaming is still very much alive and well. The attitude that it doesn’t really matter how many gals a boy has managed to sleep with (Adams curt 200-ish), there is still meaning ascribed to a girl who engages in casual sex. And being sex positive isn’t synonymous with sexually active.

I rather enjoy a chinwag about sex. I don’t see the embarrassment behind it and, yes, there is a time and a place i.e. in a bar not your Monday morning briefing at work, but on the whole I think it helps people bond. There is nothing like hearing someone say me too after you have admitted to doing something truly mortifying over the weekend. Yet just because you’re sex positive doesn’t mean you don’t have any verbal barriers (contrary to what my friends might say). I find this happens a little more now I have come out but no Darren from IT I don’t want to tell you what I did in bed with my ex-girlfriend and if scissoring is ‘a real thing’. Go back to Google you perv. Just because someone feels comfortable talking about sex to their friends doesn’t give you the entitlement to ask them filthy invasive questions. The normal codes of social conduct still apply- we have not entered some sexy void (lol) where behaving in a socially acceptable way has been thrown out of the window.

I am also really confused as to why people struggle to take sex positivity seriously, socially or professionally. Being comfortable doing you does not diminish your worth or your ability to get a job done. When I tell people at work that a lot of the freelance writing I’ve done has centred around dating and sexuality I have been asked why I don’t choose to cover ‘real’ topics or seek out ‘real’ journalism. Similarly sex work is often seen as dirty and lazy. On the whole- not ‘real’ work. You can’t enter into ‘real’ relationships as a sex positive women without people calling out your intentions because you’re just the girl who is looking for a good time.

Sex is a part of our everyday lives. If you aren’t doing it, you’re talking about it/ avoiding talking about it or it is being used to sell you yogurt (Nicole Scherzinger I am looking at you babe). Sex positivity is about creating safe spaces to start conversations about consent, something that in this day and age is more pertinent than ever. Just because you like talking dirty over a beer with your mates does not devalue you or make you lesser.

Adam is Frankenstein and we are his creators…

It’s that time of year again folks. Like clockwork as 8:45 rolls around, I sit battling the feminist voice in my head and my need for a bit of mind numbing guilty pleasure. By 9 o’clock I will have succumbed to putting ITV2 on but ‘only until the first break’ and by 9:10 I am fully engrossed. Like millions of other people this year’s Love Island has got me gripped. As I am reminded on a daily basis at work that ‘it was the most watched thing by young people last year’ and it appears this year is heading in the same direction. Four million people tuned in on the opening night.

It isn’t just an hour of my life every day that Love Island has taken over. No, no. If I am not in deep heated group discussions about how to pronounce Eyals name or tagging people in Adams wandering eye memes, I am trying to convert my parents/ co-workers/ people on the train to join the cause with me.

And the worst part about this fixation is I have no idea why I enjoy Love Island so much. It stands for everything I generally avoid. It is just a poor excuse for a social experiment where women are packed into an evil villa and encouraged to run around in bikinis in the hope to impress some horrid jacked-up man boys who are really more interested in sucking up to the worst one in the pack (yes Adam we are looking at you).adam1

Despite, obviously, tuning in every single night this year feels a little different. Whereas in years gone by we have had the light relief of Marcels references to Blazin Squad, Camilla explaining feminism to Johnny or Cara and Nathan being…Cara and Nathan, this year seems to have centred solely on Adams mission to be the smuggest fuck boy that has ever graced our screens.

At times it has made for really uncomfortable watching because, yes these people have applied to spend 6 weeks with people they pretend to like (or love) in a bid to win £50,000 but emotional manipulation isn’t fun to watch.

Maybe I am being over sensitive because I know a lot of us have been there. Adam is every guy you first started seeing when you moved to university. You had just moved away from home. You had are in a house full of strangers and the only other person you thought you had loved was your childhood sweet heart. ‘Adam’ swoops in all shiny and new on the outside looking nothing like the boys that you know back home and he knows all the right things to say. Then, when he inevitably joins the rugby/football/ hockey/ water polo team and realises he’ll have girls on tap at the sports night out he freezes you out, tells you you’re the crazy one for being paranoid and you never hear from him again. In fact the only thing different between Adam and your first uni boyfriend is Adam wouldn’t actually have time to go to lectures because time learning is wasted when he could be pulling girls.

The way Adam treated Rosie- smirking at her as she told him that she felt used by him all but reminded me of how Zara was treated after Alex slept with her and look how that ended up. He is getting a wedding spread in OK and she has disappeared. As much as we may not like it, we excuse these boys behaviour because they’re nice to look at.

It is for all of these reasons that Adam is the perfect Love Island contestant. And his family are playing it right too taking #teamRosies side. He has started a national debate- as if we weren’t already talking about Love Island enough. Whilst I love Alex- and believe me I really do, a whole villa of doctors just like him would make for very polite, respectful TV. That isn’t why we watch Love Island. You can’t sell the premise of a 6 week free holiday in a luxury villa with obscenely attractive housemates and not expect the slimiest, best looking snakes to be attracted. Adam is Love Islands Frankenstein. He is not a nice person- regardless of the fact of whether this is all an act. But whilst we need Love Island (and I really do) we will continue to create and excuse more people like him.

72 hours in Budapest

Once again we are just going to ignore the time stamp on this post as I got back from Budapest a week ago and have essentially been sour ever since. As per usual, on the run up to the trip I managed to work myself up into a ‘what am I doing with my life? I will never succeed’ frenzy so waking up on Thursday morning and going to pick up my best friend was sweet relief. I had been on the planning team for coverage of the Royal Wedding all week so if anyone so much as muttered the names Harry or Meghan to me I think I would have snapped. I was on the edge.

The idea to go to Budapest was born like all great plans are, over crisps and wine (mine and Becky’s speciality dinner). I didn’t really know what to expect but had heard amazing things and at that point, a break anywhere would have been welcomed- be that Budapest or my bed for a Netflix binge.

After too many nights of sitting in the garden over a laptop and wine planning the trip it felt weird to be setting my out of office email on Wednesday night and actually think about the fact that I had to pack, wash my hair, shave my legs, tan and get into general holiday mode.

Budapest wasn’t really like any city I had visited before. I thought it might remind me a little of Prague or Amsterdam but it was so different.

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Days:

One of the best decisions I made was choosing to go away with Becky. I thought I was organised but that girl is the holiday prep queen. We pre-booked two walking tours and a boat trip before we left which meant we had a general idea of what our days looked like before setting off, preventing aimless wandering around the streets.

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I know she wouldn’t mind me saying that Becky and I have straight up no sense of direction. A bad combination of google maps not working and a paper map in Hungarian meant that we spent most of the first night wandering the streets looking for wine. The first walking tour sorted that right out. Lead by an insanely cool woman (the only kind you see when you’re away on holiday) she took us through Pest, across to Buda and back again giving us great recommendations on ruin bars, clubs and cafes. She also took us to some of the most beautiful spots in the city.

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The next day (slightly hungover) we decided to take a communist walking tour- perks of going away with a history graduate. Lead by the sassiest guide, the tour was completely different, taking us around Budapest’s financial district, government buildings and remaining soviet monuments. Sadly though, the heavens opened and as Becky and I decided we were going on holiday and would bring the sun with us, we were wearing shorts. We took shelter in a nearby café before escaping back to the hotel for a little pre-sesh nap.

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On the last day (majorly hungover and tired beyond belief at this point) we begrudgingly packed our bags, tried to put the room back together (hiding all wine bottles) and checked out. We went on to the House of Terror- a museum dedicated to the fascist and communist regimes. Budapest has so many museums and sights that I never would have pushed to go to the House of Terror had the communist tour guide not recommended it so highly and I am really glad we did. It gave political and social context as to why Budapest is like it is today. In the afternoon we took a boat trip down the Danube to Margaret Island. This is one of Budapest’s loveliest parks and is a nice place to escape the noise and bustle of downtown. While Margaret Island is mainly a great place for a stroll, there are a few attractions including Sculpture Avenue, medieval ruins, a small zoo, swimming pools, an outdoor waterpark/beach, and a health spa resort. It was the perfect way to spend our last afternoon, mooching about in the sun with an ice cream.

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Nights:

The nightlife and food scene in Budapest is amazing! As two gals who more than enjoy a glass of wine and a good meal it did not disappoint. Food and drink is so cheap and delicious and there is so much choice.

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On the first night, after some wandering around and getting lost (alcohol did not aid our sense of direction) we found ourselves in a queue for Instant- 2 houses converted into 6 bars, 3 dancefloors and 2 gardens. It was HUGE. We got talking to a few people while we waited to get in and ended up spending the whole night with them. The perks of meeting people when you’re away- if they’ve been in the city longer than you they know all the good places to go to and people are so friendly when they’re away. It also didn’t hurt that they were Italian.

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Before we went away everyone who I spoke to recommended the ruin bars so on our last night we met up with the guys from the night before and took one of their recommendations. The bars were insanely cool set in the ruins of abandoned buildings, none of the furniture matched, the environment is super relaxed so it is dead easy to strike up a conversation and it was in no way like anything that we have in the UK. We stayed until 5:30 and then wandered back to the hotel as the sun was coming up over the city.

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DISLAIMER:

I loved Budapest. It was a really beautiful city if a little rough around the edges. There is so much we didn’t get to do and we are already planning our trip back. The only downside I would say is that it seems to be a prime destination for stag dos. I’m familiar with being cat called and dealing with creeps on nights out but I have never experienced anything like how bad it was. It became a bit of a joke in the end- the final straw being two Japenese guys approaching us and trying to chat us up using google translate… it was a strong no. Aside from this, people were really friendly and if you brushed it off or ignored them it wasn’t threatening.

Being away has left me feeling refreshed, I just can’t get off skyscanner now. A week of work has left me in need of a summer holiday

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Wine Wednesday: I can’t Bumble

So, Wednesday has come round again and, without wanting to sound like the old woman I have truly become, where the hell did the last week go? This week has had a distinct lack of wine, sleep and practically anything other than work. So whilst todays post may be more aptly titled coffee Wednesday rather than wine Wednesday we shall push on.

Today I want to talk about dating- partly because who doesn’t love a good gossip about bumble but also because I need major help. I am fairly newly single and living back in my parents’ house in my home town. I’ve never really dated whilst living at home. I had boyfriends through school but our time was spent hanging around, trying to find places where we could make out and not get caught and generally doing whatever teenagers do. Surprisingly that doesn’t appeal so much now.

I feel like whilst my knight/princess in shining armour (or architect in a designer suit) might be waiting for me in a bar in the Northern Quarter, I’m not holding my breath. There are probably lots of viable options out there- in the real world, but I also know what I’m like on a night out. I don’t want to use the term ‘resting bitch face’ because I don’t subscribe to the gendered nature of the insult but you get the picture. I have been told to smile on more than one occasion and if you know me at all you can imagine how that goes down. I hear work is another place people meet prospective partners but I work in a newsroom with predominantly married and/or middle aged people. After quiet consideration I have decided the adultery thing just isn’t for me and whilst I’m sure being a sugar baby is a pretty comfortable set up, I work with journalists- there’s not going to be a lot of sugar.

So, this brings me to online dating or Bumble more specifically. I like Bumble, its CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd is a massive girlboss and I kind of like that the girl has to message first. My only issue is I’m not good at Bumble. My sarcasm never translates well and I know that may say more about the people I’m matching with rather than my obvious hilarity but where do you go when someone calls you cold within six messages? (This only encourages me) It’s not that I choose to be facetious. If anything it is a natural reaction to seeing a man in a vest taking a selfie in the gym mirror. Another issue: If there is a dog/cat/bunny/other furry creature in any of their pictures I’m going to swipe right. This leads to fairly questionable matches with really cute pets I will never meet.

I feel like Bumble has changed too. I first started using it back in 2015- an all-round better time. President Obama was in office, we didn’t know what Brexit was and I was still a student and considered 10 o’clock an early start. After re-downloading it now in 2018, when we are inflicted with the Donald’s orange mug on the TV daily and Brexit very much means Brexit, Bumble seems to have taken the same downward turn.

Why does everyone want to hang out instead of going out? I’m 23 years old, we can go to a bar. My parents taught me about stranger danger- please don’t utter the words ‘netflix and chill’. I received a message last night at 1am saying ‘what are you doing? Do you want to come over?’ No, no I don’t! It’s a Tuesday night, do you not have a job?

Why are all the men I match secretly (or not so secretly) sexist? After completely ignoring my opener (which spice girl he’d be- I get down to the nitty gritty straight away), Mike decided to inform me that he doesn’t have time “for silly little girls who will use me to go for expensive dinners and then ghost me. I don’t have time for using whores who expect me to obey their every wish and then think I won’t want anything back in return. But you seem nice so hi.” As elated as I am that you think I ‘seem nice’ I’m okay Mike but your misogynistic bullshit is not.  giphy.gif

Upon seeing that I’m a journalist Sam messaged me just to check that I am capable of writing about more than ‘women stuff’ and I wasn’t a ‘feminazi’. Sorry to disappoint babes.time-magazine-wants-people-to-stop-saying-the-word-feminist.gif

And my personal favourite was Jack, an unpublished screenwriter (aka unemployed) who asked me if I became a journalist or in his words a ‘sell out’ because ‘you’re not intelligent to go into the real creative arts’. I informed him that I had two degrees and he told me he had a ‘degree from the most important university of all’. Oxford? Cambridge? UCL? No, no Jack has a degree from the University of life…01e10e941db771b59875a5511db80c5f.gif

So this is it, me holding my hands up in the air asking for help or an intervention or something. While I think living in my small home town probably doesn’t help, I don’t think moving out for the sake of my dating life is a completely viable reason (as much as I have discussed it with friends). In the meantime I may have to delete bumble again and go and talk to someone face to face…imagine that.

Will I ever not want to be skinny?

Back in September I wrote about going back to the gym and my first experience of a yoga class alone (I am yet to return, I have accepted that I will just go through life on the edge of a meltdown). In all honesty, the reason I started going to the gym was because I had just moved home from university and my brother no longer lives here so I ran out of things to occupy my time pretty quickly. All of my friends already had proper jobs and there is only so many times you can tidy your room and avoid looking at your inbox in case there’s a rejection lay in wait there. I wasn’t in a good place.

I started to go to the gym because it was an hour and a half of my day where I had to be somewhere, doing something that didn’t involve starring at a screen. Whilst it was hard at first it soon became the bit of ‘me time’ that I craved. Since starting work it has kept me afloat. It is the one hour that I can turn a podcast on and ignore emails and the nagging feeling that I should be sending more pitches out.

I also wasn’t happy with how I looked. I know what you’re thinking- ‘is anyone?’ but a Masters year of drinking far too much and living off convenience food had left me a slightly podgier version of myself. I wasn’t working out- at all (unless you count walking back from nights out with a detour to the chicken shop). Over the last 7 months I have noticed a bit of a difference. I had my January graduation as a goal to comfortably fit into a size 12 dress and feel good about it. And I did. I look back at my undergraduate graduation- I’m wearing a lace purple dress that is a little too tight and completely the wrong cut and in every single picture I have my hand in front of my stomach. I don’t look happy and I hate looking back on the pictures because I remember how uncomfortable I felt all day.13754669_10209189608444710_8134632358993966907_n

This time around I bought a new dress and heels that fit properly, I knew I had lost a little bit of weight and I stood taller. Instead of trying to make myself as small as possible I actually look happy to be there in all of the pictures.2.jpg

I have had a few comments from people since saying how slim I look or how skinny my legs are etc etc and I am almost disappointed in myself that I feel a twinge of pride. As women we grow up learning that if you are thin and pretty you will be successful and any girl who falls by the wayside will either have to be the funny best friend or the clever one that better hope she glows up eventually. It’s almost impossible to get rid of the voice in your head that says pasta is a ‘naughty’ meal or if you don’t do 10 minutes more of the cross trainer you’ll never get rid of your stomach.

I grew up on a diet of Rachel Green and Samantha Jones- both undeniably funny, beautiful women who didn’t look like me. I couldn’t see anyone who had the same body type to me and whilst I am so happy that this isn’t necessarily the case now I wonder if we will ever get past the idea that skinny is better. I have definitely seen the positive benefits of the gym- both physical and mental but I think it will take a little bit longer to unlearn 23 years’ worth of bullshit beauty standards.

Wine Wednesdays: Friendship

I feel like every few blog posts begin with “hey…so it’s been a while”, this is another one of them. You know people say you wait for one bus and then three come all at once. Well my bus was drama and it has obliterated the last month. I feel like March was a fairly chill month, I would go as far as to say boring. Then April hit and all hell broke lose- at work, in my personal life…everywhere. It served me right really for being so smug.

After spending the last couple of weeks in variants of my pjs depending on where I had to go/ who I had to see and moving from my own sofa to friends sofas for wine and crisps I realized, with account of all that is going on in the world self pity isn’t cute and I should probably get my act together.

It was said ‘wine and crisp’ sofa sessions that inspired this next series. I am a massive believer that there is no real excuse as to why you shouldn’t be informed as to what is going on in the world. But reality is, the world can be a bit of a dark place.

Enter Wine Wednesdays.In pursuit of balance, Wine Wednesdays is going to be a super chatty post published on Wednesday (who would have thought it) to celebrate all of the fun, frivolous things that actually keep you afloat and get you through the week. The wine and bitch on the sofa with your friends if you will.

So in honor of the very activity that inspired this series the first thing I want to talk about is FRIENDSHIP.

I was in work last week and due to the fact that it was the Easter Holidays and I heard children cant be left alone there were a couple running around the newsroom. Due to the fact that I have the luxury of sitting right next to a massive open space two had settled themselves directly behind my chair, essentially trapping me in with no means of escape. Whilst I was working up the courage to engage with them (I was dying for the loo) I overheard their conversation.

“Hi I like your truck, can I have a go?”

“My mum told me not to play with boys” (wise mother)

“No but I am Lukas and I am nice” (I wouldn’t go into law pal)
“Okay, I’m Ellie. Yes but only for a second.”
And that was it, they were off and for the rest of the afternoon, chasing each other and screaming- generally terrorizing me. You could have quite easily mistaken them for life long friends.
There is something about being a small child with no inhibitions that makes it insanely easy to just meet people and make friends. When do you lose that? When do you become awkward and anxious? Is it somewhere between the blue eye shadow phase and deciding that no one has ever spoken to you quite like Pete Wentz does in ‘Thanks for the Memories’?
It’s a given that once you reach a certain age you’re too old to make new friends or pick up new hobbies unless it is work related and an some how be skewed as networking. Why? Since leaving uni and the days of wandering into strangers flats because the door was open and it looked like there was a party going on, I have really pined for the convenience of having my best friends so close – in the next bedroom or the same city. But I have also become so close to the girls that I went to school with and couldn’t be near to for 4 years.
The beauty of adult friendship is that you can have friends in so many different places. Be that ex flatmates who live in different cities but who still know you through and through (the good and the unspeakably bad). They seem to have a knack of messaging you just when you need it and no matter how long you go without speaking, you’ve been through (and know) too much to ever not be friends.
The ex course mates who you might not see everyday anymore but completely get it when you have to moan about work or interviews. And every time you all find a spare weekend in your busy busy schedules, between the prosecco, cuddles and singing, they remind you of why they’re you’re best friends.
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Work colleagues who have turned into the only way to get through long days/ nights. They’re the only ones who understand your suspicion of the weird guy who stares a bit too intently across the room and help you develop nicknames for said individuals.
Your friends who were brave enough to go and see the world and you pine for their Facetimes so you can see their tanned faces and hear their stories (and live vicariously through them). And even though they’re on the other side of the world, when you speak to them it feels like having them right there, next to you on the sofa again.
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And your home friends who have had you since day one, who know about all the bad dates, bad hairstyles and girls trip to Sunny Beach that has permanently scarred all involved. They are the only ones who truly understand the pain of coming from your home town and bumping into those less desirable people on nights out.
It is so easy when you get caught up in the all of the joys that come with adulting to feel really alone. In reality, if you only get out of your own head for a moment and speak to that person who sits near you at work and you say hello to everyday but can’t really remember their name or take up that hobby that you’re too shy/ lazy to pursue you realize that there is more that unites us, they (probably) wont think you’re odd and it might be the conversation that you need (wine or no wine).