THE NEW YEAR

large (19)I feel like I have learnt more about myself in the past year than I have in the last 26 put together.

I started 2015 on what can only be described as the lowest I have ever been. I had no job, my relationship was hanging on by less than a thread and I was suffering quite severely with anxiety and low self esteem. I looked to the year ahead and couldn’t see past March to be honest. I felt as though everything I knew about myself was wrong, I didn’t know where I was going to be by the following January and, when things were really bad, I didn’t care.

But here I am. With a job I don’t love but I need, not for the money but peace of mind, a relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything and a healthier outlook on the future.

Cliché or not, I genuinely can’t believe how much can change in a year.

Back in January, those closest to me kept saying that time was a healer and that things would change. They would remind me that nothing is permanent and that I wouldn’t feel this way forever. As you can imagine, I didn’t believe a single word of what they said. Instead, I chose to just bury my head in the sand and carry on with things by ignoring the stuff that was bothering me. This, of course, only made things worse. Until I decided to hit the reset button, chill the f out for a bit and start again.

And then just like that – or rather, six, quite long, quite difficult months later – on an ordinary day in December as I walked home from work, I realised that I didn’t feel sad, anxious, hurt or disappointed anymore. In fact, without knowing, I had grown in confidence, I was happier, more optimistic and driven than ever, but I didn’t feel these things outwardly, overwhelmingly or life-changeingly. I felt them in the most beautiful way possible: I simply felt okay again. And that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve when I hit the reset button back in July. I just wanted to feel like I was in control again and – finally – I do.

So, although I have friends who are joining me on a high of happiness at the close of the year – from engagements and career moves to pregnancies and new relationships – I also have those around me who have recently lost loved ones, who are caring for those who might not be with us for much longer and those who are nursing not broken, but completely shattered, hearts. And it is to those people who I am dedicating this New Year’s post to. Because I was you this time last year, waiting for midnight, hoping for a fairy godmother to appear and wash all of my troubles away with her magic wand. So, although you know as well as I did that she’s never going to come, I am here to remind you that, over the next few months, your luck will change, that there is still time to fix whatever it is that is broken and that by this time next year you will look back and almost be grateful for what you’ve just endured. It will take a few months of cutting yourself some slack, a dash of hard work and a whole lot of me time, but I promise, you will get there.

So, whether you’re excited, apprehensive or nervous about the coming year, be sure to surround yourself with the people you love tonight and give thanks for the things you do have, because that’s really the only thing that matters in this life.

See you in 2016 for another adventure.

Happy New Year.

THE SUNDAY ROUNDUP – 2015

large (20)I started The Sunday Papers a few months ago when I decided that I wanted to share my favourite articles of the week with you. The idea was to get people reading, generate discussions around important topical issues and discover some great online magazines along the way. However, when I sat down to write my final Sunday Papers post of the year, I decided that – instead of sharing my media highlights of the week with you – I would share my personal “life highlights” from the last 365 days.

I am a great believer in gratitude, optimism and glass half-fullness, so I’d like to share these moments with you in a bid to celebrate the goodness of 2015 rather than dwelling on the negative that sometimes seems to surround us.

So here goes.

Falling in Love with my Blog Again

Back in March, restless before my 26th birthday and impending nose-dive into my late twenties, I decided to invest in a new web layout. Although I will soon be able to do this myself, web design was out of my reach at the time and I chose to use Pipdig who were an absolute dream to work with. I was so happy with the design and ease of application and would recommend them to anyone looking for a change. The fact that I am still loving the layout after 9 months is testament to how pleased I am with the result. Best investment of the year.

One Room. All of my Favourites.

After a bit of a tumultuous few months, I decided to have a low maintenance birthday this year and invited all of my best ones to my boyfriend’s flat for drinks and a jaunt into Tooting. The best birthdays are the ones spent with food, drink and good people. Nailed it.

Watching Florence + The Machine at Glastonbury

By far my favourite moment of 2015. I’ve seen her perform before and since Glastonbury and I’ve never felt the way I did when watching her on the Pyramid Stage that night. Magical.

10 Year Reunion and the Realisation that Life is Good

My school reunion made me realise that things rarely change between good friends. After nervously teetering in stilettos, arm in arm with the same friends I’ve had since my school days, I had an epic evening catching up with the women of my past and celebrating our achievements. From engagements and travel to babies and career moves, we had all moved on but still shared the same (hilarious and sometimes shocking) memories that shaped us and even managed to find time to sing a rendition of Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love of All – a song close to my year group’s hearts – one last time. Ten years on, we were all still a long way from where we had predicted we’d be in our year books, but it was still reassuring to know that everyone was doing okay after all these years.

An all-girls BBQ in Beckenham and the night of a thousand Old Fashions

On the hottest day of the year, a friend of mine threw a birthday party in her back garden, which just so happens to be the size of a football pitch, with her parents, who just so happen to be some of the best around. A few Hungarian shots, home grown food and potent wine later, we hung out in the evening breeze, arguing over whether to have Kisstory or Magic on the radio and trying to make sure Helen (the birthday girl) was still standing (she wasn’t). That day spent in her garden was the most carefree I had been in a while and, just to add to it (because Summer evenings have a knack for surprising you) a friend and I ended up crashing a boy’s night out in Brixton and discovered a secret bar where we drank Old Fashioneds and talked until the early hours. For some reason this ordinary day became one of my highlights of the year.

The 4th of September 2015

Just a very good day indeed.

An Engagement to Remember

Finally, and most importantly, one of my oldest friends got engaged just before Christmas. IN NEW YORK. I cried, I screamed, I did all of the things that I thought I would do if I were to get engaged. I had no idea that someone else’s joy could bring me so much happiness, but it turns out it can. When you’ve grown up beside someone and shared their boy history along the way, seeing them so happy with someone you adore as much as them? Priceless. And the perfect end to 2015.

So that’s it from me and my year. What were your highlights of the last 365 days? Be sure to write them down and be thankful for them. Who knows what the next twelve months might bring…

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THE INFECTION

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I like to think I’m pretty knowledgable when it comes to matters of the vagina. I read lots of magazines, I google NHS symptoms more often than I probably should and I actually sat up and listened during my Sex Ed lessons at school. I know the difference between a diaphragm and an IUD, I know that Herpes is for life, that Chlamydia is curable and – after entering into a somewhat unfortunate conversation during this year’s Halloween celebrations – I now know what a ‘dental dam’ is. (You should absolutely google it by the way, you won’t know contraception until you know this.)

But it seems this weekend was a weekend full of adult sex education, because – after 26 years – I was introduced to Cystitis for the first time.

Yes, Cystitis. Something that many of you have probably suffered from several times over, but I am new to and am therefore going to want to talk about.

It happened after an action packed weekend of cycling and hanging out with my man friend. I woke up on Monday morning to an overwhelming urge to pee. So I peed. Then I felt like I needed to pee some more. But I couldn’t pee. And it hurt when I did. A lot. And there it was. The very moment this god-awful infection walked – or rather slithered – into my life. Brilliant, I thought. Another triumphant loss for womankind. But I then discovered that men can suffer from it too and I put my pity party hat away.

And that’s basically all I have to say. That it really hurts and it’s really annoying. And I hate it.

You’re probably wondering what the purpose of this post is. Truth is, I just needed to voice how difficult this little infection has made my life over the last couple of days and to let you know that no matter how much it seems as if there’s no light at the end of the urinary tract infection tunnel when you’re inside it, there is a way out. Just stick to the home remedies and hot water bottle and you’ll get there. Trust me.

After sixteen cartons of cranberry juice, fourteen gallons of H20 and 48hrs worth of Sodium Citrate sachets later, it’s sort of gone. And MY GOD, I’m loving being able to pee again. Just like when you get over a week-long cold and you swear that you’ll never take your healthy nostrils for granted ever again, well, the same goes for my urethra. I love her and her ability to let me wee with success and I will worship her and take care of her until the day I die.

So here’s to cystitis, one of the very few things to put me off ever having sex again.

Welcome to my life you awful, awful thing you.

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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The weather has turned a lighter shade of cold and I am all for it. Hats, scarves, coats, layers: call me a basic bitch; I love it.

I know The Sunday Papers are late this week and I am sorry. I know that finding a nook in the sofa and not being able to vacate it to retrieve my laptop is not an excuse and so again, I am sorry. But hey, I am only human. And it was quite nice not to be glued to a screen for just one day of the week. But my favourite reads are here. So if you’re not keen on Downton or if you have yet to be sucked into the absurdity that is Towie, have a chomp on this lot.

I’m a flake and not proud

Pro choice?

Something I’m confused about

Art from the womb, not the heart

If you haven’t signed up to Lenny yet, please do (if you still can)

As IF everyone has cottoned onto my favourite drink

White Feminism: I’ve thought about it a lot lately

I HEART CAITILIN

Believe it or not, racism exists

Squatter photography

Save our NHS

Laura (from The Job Centre) has signed a book deal!

Why Women Cheat

Have a great week.

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THE JOB CENTRE – EMMA GANNON

Photo Credit: What Olivia Did

Age: 26

Occupation: Digital Journalist and Social Media Editor for Glamour Magazine

Which means: I make the decisions on how we manage our different online channels and the ongoing content strategy that sits behind them. I work with the wider editorial team, working closely with my online editor and the print team to ensure the brand stays strong across all social media channels. I’m also a freelance journalist for a whole host of different magazines and I am writing a book.

Did you go to uni? I went to Southampton and studied English Literature and Film studies. Mark Kermode did a few guest lectures, which was cool. I graduated in 2010.

What have you been doing for money since then? Lots of things. Copywriting, editing, book-writing, social media consulting, branding, doing talks, workshops, events, commercial projects and freelance writing. Fingers in pies, basically.

Have you always wanted to work somewhere like Glamour or did you have anything else in mind? Yep, I always wanted to work at a magazine. Even as a toddler I’d waddle straight over to the magazine section in supermarkets. I’ve always been obsessed with mags, books and online editorials. As a strong-minded woman who loves culture, fashion, tackling women’s issues and reading interesting features it was always one of my ideal places to work.

Do you have to have a degree to do your job? (Be honest!) Or is work experience more important? I can only speak to my own experience on this one. If I’m 100% honest, I don’t think my degree was useful in the sense that I’m in debt and I don’t remember anything I actually learned in my essays or seminars. In the three years post-uni I achieved things beyond my wildest dreams just by rolling up my sleeves and DOING IT. University was very hypothetical and I didn’t really enjoy the experience. I wish I could have dived on into the industry at a younger age, but then I don’t know if I would have even got my first job without a degree on my CV. So, it’s a catch 22 because back then it was all about the “grad scheme”. Now, I think there are lots of other “apprentice schemes” which means no degree needed. For me personally, yes, I did probably need my degree to get where I am today, but I can’t help but think it could have been shorter; three years was a long time to bum around and do a small amount of learning.

I love your blog. Why did you set it up and how much of a part did it have to play in landing your current role? I started my blog in 2010. I don’t think it played a huge part in me landing my current role as I’d had 5 years of social media and writing experience on my CV, separate from my blog, but it’s definitely a nice added bonus when someone notices you have one and that you keep it up! I totally recommend blogging for your own personal pleasure.

Whats a typical day at the office for you? No day is ever the same! One day it could be that we’re out in the afternoon at a hotel location interviewing a celebrity or that they are taking over our Twitter, or we’re in a planning meeting, or I’m out meeting commercial clients, or spending a day at my desk doing presentations or lots of emailing, scheduling interviews, writing a feature up or hosting a brainstorm. Lots of different things. I normally go out for lunch with a PR, or grab something with a colleague.

Is working at Glamour glamorous? Ha ha ha. I’ve been asked this before. I guess it is! It’s Britain’s number one magazine based in Mayfair, how can it not be? But everyone’s really down to earth and cool. It’s NOT Devil Wears Prada.

Whats the dress code and what do you suggest wearing to an interview at a magazine? Be yourself but look smart and feel good. There’s no real dress code. Lots of people dress up, some dress down, some dress in the middle. I can’t do “casual” in the office because I like getting “in the zone” on my way to work, but as Winter approaches I will definitely be getting the woolly jumpers out! I think smart-casual is a good middle ground, so you don’t feel too dressed up but you feel CHIC.

Whats the best thing youve been asked to do in your job so far? Interviewing Lena Dunham.

The worst?  When I was asked to go and buy my boss some underwear.

I hate when people ask what you think youll be doing in ten years from now- I dont even know what Im having for dinner tonight! So I’ll ask you where you see yourself in two to three years time instead. What are your achievable goals? I think I’ll still be writing and working at a magazine, hopefully working on book number two!

As a creative, are you nervous that the industry is changing? I personally find it really exciting. As a blogger and working in “traditional media”, I think I’m quite good at noticing trends in both areas. I think new formats and platforms are growing so it’s up to the people behind a brand to move with the times, change platforms and understand people’s behaviour. Basically, you need to reflect on where you’re at every few months and see if you need to “upgrade” your site or change direction. Same with blogging. I find it worrying when people think YouTube is just a phase. I find people who say “that’s not how we normally do it” or refuse to change process or take risks quite frustrating, because the Internet changes so quickly that it’s important to keep up with new trends. You have to watch your competitors extremely closely.

And finally, what one piece of practical career advice would you give to your younger self? 

Say yes to everything. Then learn to say no to stuff. Be confident with what your worth.

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Emma is one of my favourite bloggers and an all time lovely lady. Super talented and always friendly, she is sort of my inspiration in that she is publishing a book next year. So, basically, she’s living the dream. Or at least my dream. I guess now I know one way of going about doing it too.

If you have any questions for Emma, say hello!

*photo credit goes to Olivia Purvis of What Olivia Did*