THE CASH FLOW

It seems like only yesterday we were all on a level playing field.

Only really able to afford H&M, Primark and bits from the ASOS sale. We’d drink to get drunk before heading out and we’d have a similar amount of pennies in our purses.

In the last couple of years, however, although we’ve all definitely moved on from bargain bins and can each afford at least one drink in a real life bar on a Friday night, things have changed. We’ve taken different career paths, life has thrown some of us all the luck in the world, and others, a good few curve balls. We’ve travelled, we’ve temped, we’ve climbed ladders. We’ve joined wallets with boys. We’ve changed direction. The result of all the twists and turns of our twenties has meant we now don’t all have the same amount in our pockets as before. It’s all gone a bit sort of ‘The One With Five Steaks And An Eggplant‘ episode in Friends. At times it can be frustrating, at others it can be awkward.

Luckily, my friends and I aren’t stupid. We acknowledge that our salaries range from modest to hefty. We cater for somewhere in the middle and we shop, eat and drink within our means. We lend each other cash if we need to and celebrate when the money comes a flowing. Finances are rarely a big deal, but the divide is there, and I’ve a horrible feeling it’s only going to become more obvious as time goes on. I know nobody’s talking about it, but with destination weddings in abundance, babies popping up left, right and centre, and many buying houses in the city, I can’t be the only 28 year old wondering where all the money came from, can I? And if I am, perhaps I should’ve started to think about my finances a little sooner than now.

In truth, money has never meant a great deal to me. In fact, I’ve never really given it more than thirty seconds of thought, if I’m honest. Probably because I’ve never really had it. I didn’t place any importance on it and have always spent every penny of what I’ve earned, which has been fun, but not a particularly sensible decision.

I won’t go into detail about what I’ve learnt about money in the last few months right now, because I’ve written a little something for The Coven about how I’m feeling about the current cash flow situation, but I thought it might be helpful for those of you who are also feeling this way right now, to know you’re not alone. To know that there are still some of us who can’t afford that popular designer handbag, the fancy car or a house in London. And that’s okay. As long as you’re keeping enough aside for a rainy day.

Turns out, by simply saving a little each month, cutting back on take out coffee and not buying that pair of boots you think you can’t live without can make all the difference when it comes to the big stuff.

People tend to avoid to talking about money, but I’m starting to think we’d be much better off if we did.

So let’s start today.

If you have any money saving tips or advice, get in touch. I’m all ears (and empty pockets), ready to learn.

THE JOY OF NOT SHARING

I talk too much.

I’ve been told so since I was a kid.

Talking the ears off mum as we traipsed up and down Oxford Street. Not stopping for breath in Maths. ‘Chatty’ etched into pretty much every school report I ever had (along with ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘sociable’, and we all know what those adjectives really mean when spouted from the mouths of teachers).

And even well into adulthood, not much has changed.

I’ll talk about anything that springs to mind. Form opinions on anything you fancy. And when it comes to life crises, relationship woes and friendship concerns, I voice those too. Heart on sleeve for life, that’s the Aries way.

Now, lots of therapists and elders will tell you that’s great. That talking is healthy. We’re constantly encouraged to ‘speak up’ and ‘get things off our chest’ in order to help improve our mental health, but you know what, I’m not so convinced spilling all of the beans all of the time is such a good idea.

As someone who keeps other people’s secrets entirely to themselves, but airs all their dirty laundry online or over a negroni or two with my best ones, I’ve learnt that vocalising your worries or concerns can actually sometimes be detrimental to one’s decision-making, overall happiness and ability to work out who you are. Being silent, and not giving a trivial problem room to breathe has a lot to answer for.

Sounds unhealthy, right? Probably is, for someone who can keep their trap shut for more than thirty seconds.

But for those of you who can’t, hear me out.

Decisions both large and small, I struggle to make them. I always order last in a restaurant. I rarely paint my nails in anything other than white, navy or nude. In fact, I never do, yet I own around 80 different shades of various polish. Big life decisions? Give me a month. Other people, quieter people, seem to make decisions left, right and center. For me, a talker, I weigh myself down with so many opinions that I rarely know what I want. If I listened to the voice inside my head instead of talking all the time, perhaps I’d stop drowning out my own thoughts and be able to hear myself a little clearer.

The problem with sharing so much is that people will respond to what you’re saying, and rightly so. But as helpful as it may seem, collecting so many opinions can also be quite damaging. The two cents of others can tend to muddle your own thinking and push what you really think or want to the back of your mind, which in turn, is just as unhealthy (and counter-productive) as not talking at all.

Recently, I’ve realised that keeping some things private is a good idea. I’ve been sharing less with friends and I actually feel a heck of a lot better for it. There’s less judgment, less pressure and I think I’m finally working out what I really want. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a very long time.

Although I’m going against what pretty much all psychologists will tell you, I do think that for those of us who like to chat or find decision-making a struggle, we might actually be better off saying nothing and figuring things out in our own mind and time instead of constantly conversing with friends and family. That way, we might get what we really want as opposed to what we think we should be aiming for.

They do say silence is golden, and I think they (in some cases) could be right.

THE GHOSTING

If you’ve reached the end of your twenties without coming into contact with a ghost, then lucky you. You smashed it. Congratulations on not having to have endured that sort of strange silent rejection, because let me tell you, it’s pretty weird when it happens.

I mean, it’s never happened to me in a romantic sense, but I have been ghosted by a friend.

Yep, that’s right, one moment things were (albeit not entirely as rosy as they once were) fine. We had drifted a little but we were both busy and she had just got into a new relationship. The next moment? I wasn’t getting a reply to messages. I kept trying and all I got was either nothing or a, ‘Yep, maybe we’ll see each other soon’. No kiss.

I’ve asked mutual mates and they’ve said they’re none the wiser, although I’m not sure this is entirely true.

For the nine years we knew each other, from that very first toastie we shared on the corridor floor of our first-year halls, to the last drink we shared, we were inseparable. We had the most fun. So many of my favourite memories are of getting drunk and dancing with her. Staying in with her when she had a broken leg. Doing shots in the middle of the afternoon because, hey, we’re young. We would talk for hours about boys. She hated how crude I was and I thought it hilarious how prudish she was. We loved anchovies, soppy love songs and Eastenders. It was the sort of friendship that was hard to find.

It’s been two years now and I still haven’t a clue what I’ve done or what’s happened or changed. I’ve sort of decided on a reason, but can’t be 100% sure it’s correct. I’m probably way off the mark. I’m so baffled by the events of the last couple of years that this Valentine’s Day, I even sent her an ‘I miss you’ text and got nothing in return. I didn’t feel hurt or rejected; I knew it was time to let go.

And that’s the thing with ghosting.

It gets to a point where it just doesn’t hurt as much anymore, a bit like grief. In fact, if anything, I’d say it can be far less painful than being confronted with the reason you aren’t wanted as a friend or lover, anymore. That way, you can pretend it’s not you; it’s them, and live under a blanket of blissful ignorance that you didn’t actually do anything wrong. That is was their issue.

So, to the friend who ghosted me, if you’re reading this, which I doubt you are, and to all the other Caspers out there: you’re not teaching anyone a lesson, in fact, you’re not making any sort of point at all, except for the fact I must’ve mistaken you for a much better human being in the first place.

If you want closure, always have the guts to do it properly, because I’m fairly certain the only person you’re hurting in the long run, is yourself.

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 BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO BRISTOL

The best thing to happen to Bristol (aside from me moving here and a Polpo opening up on Whiteladies Road, of course) has actually arrived in the form of the most affectionate app in the world.

Yep, you heard it right. As if the city wasn’t kind enough already, a man named Paul and a woman called Alice have just brought a whole heap of added goodness to the west country with the gifting app of the future.

It’s called Huggg.

Yes, with three gs. They’re gangster like that.

Huggg is an upgrade on a well written WhatsApp, a thought out iMessage or a line of meticulously thought out emojis. It’s better than the age old poke on Facebook and it’s certainly an improvement on those gift cards you find at the bottom of your bag, months after they’ve expired. It’s everything your long distance relationship has been waiting for. It’s what will save parents waving their children off to university in September from having a breakdown. And, truth be told, it’s the stuff every lazy girl’s dreams are made of.

But what is it and how does it work?

Huggg basically allows you to send coffee, cocktails, burgers or breakfasts to anyone you like. As long as you have a phone and their number, of course.

If you’re away on a work trip and not there to sleep next to that special someone, send them a soup to spoon instead. If your best friend graduates and you can’t be there to congratulate them, send them a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate. Or if your colleague is hanging at work, send them a caffeinated pick me up from across the office.

Although there is nothing better than a real life hug, huggg is a pretty great alternative if you are a little too far away to reach.

Currently, only available in Bristol and Bath, download the app and get started today.

P.S. I’d love an iced soya latte from Friska if anyone’s offering.

Happy huggging!