THE OPINION

Someone once said to me, ‘It must be exhausting having an opinion about everything’, and although I can’t actually remember who said it (no doubt a man), I certainly remember being offended by it.

Women have fought for the right to exercise their vocal chords and share their opinions for years, and I, therefore, feel very strongly about speaking out whenever I like in order to honour the ongoing effort. It comes as no surprise, then, that the comment got my back up, but when I actually came away from the conversation and went about my daily life, throwing a billion ‘I think’, ‘I like’ and ‘I disagrees’ into the world, I became acutely aware of how much time and energy I was wasting on forming opinions about things that actually have no effect on my life whatsoever, whilst noticing that everyone else had fallen into the same habit.

Social media, of course, has played a pivotal role in feeding our new age need to share and seek approval every second of every day (having a blog doesn’t help), and although I think it’s wonderful how many active conversations are now being had online (taking the last general election for example, where young people were more engaged in politics than ever before), I do think Zuckerberg and co. encouraging us to constantly like, share or hide irrelevant fodder every second of every day, is to the detriment of our mental health and maybe even lives.

We spend so much time sparking opinions about inane things, such as what someone had for brunch or the fact an old school friend just got engaged when, if we really gave it a minute, these things don’t really warrant an opinion. It’s a waste of headspace and all it does is pave the way for comparison. However fleeting the thought process may be, it can’t be good for you to make so many judgements calls in just 24 hours?

My issue with voicing so many opinions on a daily basis runs deeper than just this, though. Our generation of opinion sharers are in danger of being only that. We feel as though we’ve done our bit because we’ve shared yet another post by Greenpeace without actually taking action. Without donating money. Or time. I’m worried that people’s social media activity is starting to placate activism. It’s become more about what causes we’re seen to be supporting rather than what efforts we’re actually doing to in order to fire up change.

So let’s put an end to all that.

Don’t be lured into liking or commenting on reams and reams of photos and statuses all day long. Instead, make sure that before you hit like or dislike or comment on something someone’s tagged you in, hold that thumb and think for half a second about whether it’s worth your time. Not only will preserving your opinions and voice online add value to it, you’ll also be amazed at how much time and energy you save, enabling you to focus on the things that really matter. And finally, if you see something you feel strongly about – be it about animal cruelty, sustainability or mental health – do more than just share it on your Facebook feed, because although you’re creating noise, there’s a limit to how far the sound reaches – and there’s a cap on how much of an effect it can have. After all, actions really do speak louder than words.

THE PLUS ONE

If you know me IRL, you’ll know I love to talk, that I live for socialising and admittedly, at times, enjoy being the centre of attention, but there is simply not a chance in hell I would attend an event of any kind (except for a work one) on my Jacobs.

In fact, walking into a room full of people I don’t know without someone on my arm (be it pal or partner) fills me with dread and panic. I find silences and standing alone oh so awkward, filling them at any opportunity and the thought of having to twiddle my thumbs while everyone around me has a good time fills me with fear.

As someone who would happily take a lone ranger under the wing of me and my friends, I’m not sure where this fear that no one in the room would want to talk to me has come from, and why I don’t have enough faith in other people to do the same for me, but tonight, I found myself at a loss for people to attend an event with, and instead of going it alone, I let this fear get the better of me and bailed.

I would secretly love to be the sort of woman who can rock up to events alone and work the room as confidently as when surrounded by my posse, but I’m not convinced even the most confident of women could manage it.

But I’m all for self reflection and improvement, so I’d like to know if I’m wrong.

I’m not talking going alone to a party where you’ll know other guests by the way, I’m talking going alone to a party where you will definitely, 100% know nobody. Is it lame I can’t do it? Should I work on being able to? Or is it simply natural human instinct that I’d like back up.

If I’m alone and you think I should’ve been a bit more brave, then I’m going to add it to my ‘Before 30 Bucket List’ – (eesh, how am I there already?)

If you’re with me, I’ll stop beating myself up about it. Sometimes humans don’t need to be brave, they just need to do what feels right.

(If you were wondering, the event I was supposed to go to before everyone bailed on me was Lauren’s Girl Vs Cancer, #notapityparty – If you would like to support her cause, buy a banging t shirt today.)

THE HELP

The past couple of years have seen the Internet come alive with mental health posts, tweets and shares, which I not only think is great, but also oh so necessary in an ever changing and fast paced world.

More so than ever before, we are being honest and open and are willing to share in order to guide and make one another feel less alone, as well as ease our own pain. Each account I’ve read or video I’ve watched has touched me in some way, sure, but none more than this snippet from Megan of Wonderful You. You can hear the crack in her voice left behind by the heavy hands of depression and can see in her eyes and face that she is struggling. She’s not in tears, nor is she in the throes of the dark place she talks about, but she is in the immediate fall out from it – that weird place of nothingness and not feeling like you anymore.

It is not only the most honest and raw post I’ve seen, it’s also the most useful and accurate description of what it truly feels like to suffer.

I hope sharing this soothes at least one of you, because god knows, we could all use a little help sometimes.

Read Megan’s blog

THE WRONG SIDE OF MY TWENTIES

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And just like that, I turned 28.

I was so tempted to be all sad and mopey about the transition into my late twenties, but I realised there would be no point, as I’m actually not sad about it at all. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I’m feeling pretty happy about getting older.

I know right, unheard of.

As a woman, I sometimes feel as though I shouldn’t want to get old. Constantly being provided with unwanted advice on how to avoid wrinkles, hide those pesky grey hairs and being told which PT will prevent me from falling victim to my ever decreasing metabolism – and if I’m honest? It gets a little boring. Especially whilst men, in addition to not having to purchase tampons and being legally permitted to take their tops off in public, are also being told they simply get better as they get older; it just doesn’t sit right with me that age, along with our weight, faces and body shape, is just another thing we as women should be made to feel insecure about.

Which is why I am singing the praises of growing up and ushering in my 28th year with open arms.

Here’s why.

My 25th and 26th years were the worst. A story for another day, or perhaps never, actually, I basically let two birthdays pass me by, by getting far too drunk, not taking anything particularly seriously (although this still exists in moderation) and making bad decisions left, right and centre, not understanding the true meaning of consequence. Poof, two years, gone.

My 27th birthday, however, was a game changer, bringing with it a real difference in me. Not just in the sense that I moved halfway across the country, but I had a genuine mental growth spurt. As in, I actually felt it happen. I suddenly stopped sweating the small stuff (although I still have my moments), I relaxed into my skin, accepted who I am and took ownership for both my strengths and my flaws.

As fucking cringe as that sounds, it’s true. At 27, I began to grow into myself and realised when Ryan told me ‘things would be okay’ in that thick Yorkshire accent, they really would.

So if you, like me, are edging closer to what ‘they’ deem to be the wrong side of your twenties, embrace it.

Much like a fine wine, it seems shit really does get better with age.

Happy Birthday to me.

THE HAPPINESS

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I’ve decided to put together 20 (very simple) ways to give yourself a little lift when things aren’t quite going your way.

If you know of any others, do let me know.

Here goes:

  1. Finish that book left to rot on your bedside table.
  2. Take a bubble bath and soak until the water gets cold.
  3. Buy a really good cup of coffee, no matter the cost.
  4. Invite a colleague to actually take a lunch break and sit down to eat together (not at your desk!).
  5. Buy gelato, find a bench and sit for a while.
  6. Spring clean.
  7. Take unwanted goods to a charity shop.
  8. Throw a couple of quid into a homeless person’s hat.
  9. Light some candles and read a magazine.
  10. Sit under a duvet on the sofa – ain’t nothin’ more indulgent than that.
  11. Turn your phone off.
  12. Start a new series on Netflix.
  13. Go to bed an hour earlier than usual.
  14. Get Jiggy Widdit.
  15. Go to the cinema and splash out on popcorn and a drink.
  16. Facetime a friend.
  17. Delete Facebook from your phone, or if you’re feeling really brave, delete it altogether.
  18. Drink prosecco during the day.
  19. Apply for that job you want.
  20. And a failsafe, final suggestion: move your goddamn body in any way you can.