THE COLLEAGUE

large

People often talk about how important their friends are.

We so frequently recall fond memories of those we have known since university or school and we praise our families for being wonderful- and don’t get me wrong, these people are the people I turn to first. I do feel, however, that we need to give our work colleagues a little more credit for the crucial part that they play in our everyday lives.

Hear me out.

I get that your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover has to endure a run down of the last eight hours at the end of a long, hard day. I know that your girlfriends are the ones nursing your broken heart when things don’t quite work out as planned. Your mum and dad will no doubt be the ones to get you through a really rough patch, it was your grandparent’s job to spoil you rotten and your brother or sister are there to let you know that you’ve put on a bit of weight when no one else will. But the people you work with? They’re the ones who see you everyday, come rain or shine. On a good side of the bed day or on a bad side of the bed day. There’s no respite for those you share a desk with and they have to look at your face for at least six hours a day, whether they (or you) like it or not and this is why I feel it’s high time we celebrate these people we find ourselves spending most of our time with.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a good work colleague is hard to come by. In fact, starting a new job is a bit like an arranged marriage: you just don’t know what you’re going to get, but what I can say, with some certainty, is that knowing that I can have snippets of great conversation and a laugh at some point between the hours of 9am and 5pm is what makes me stop hitting snooze on my alarm each day. Aside from loving what I do, of course.

More to the point though, post-education, where else do you get the chance to meet and make life-long friends anymore? As a twenty-something, you can’t just approach people in bars and ask them to hang out with you as a mate. Nor do apps intended for this purpose ever really work. Friendship groups are set in stone by 27 and work is the only place you get to meet anyone new. Yet another reason why work colleagues are the bomb.

This positive outlook on desk mates, however, isn’t always agreed upon. In fact, I’ve heard tales-a-plenty about torturous co-workers in the last few days and I recently listened to a podcast by The Pool where someone had written in to ask for advice on how to handle their god-awful neighbouring teammate who chewed really loudly at their desk and sighed a lot. First of all: really dude? personal space, please. Secondly, it made me realise how lucky I have been. Although I’ve had some awkward romantic encounters and have faced both healthy disagreements and a couple of disappointments throughout my working life, I have always managed to find people I click with within my team, company or school and it is those humans who I would like to celebrate today. The ones who put up with my incessant need to talk things through, the ones who help curb my habit of writing endless lists and those who spend hours after work chatting, just because.

So, colleagues of the world: although we might have to make small talk with one another on impromptu tube rides home, spend lunch times working next to each other instead of eating across from one another and we may get a little inappropriate at after work drinks, you are what makes the 9-5 bearable, so let’s be grateful for that.

Tomorrow, take the time to offer a colleague a cup of tea or fetch them a diet coke from the shop. If you have a bit of spare time, offer them a helping hand with something they’re working on, or just get blind drunk on prosecco after hours for no reason at all.

You never know, once you get to talking to people, you might go from being colleagues to life-long friends.

Lord knows, stranger things have happened.

THE DOLLAR

large (2)

Before I begin, I would just like to point out that if you have invited me to your wedding/birthday party/hen/bar mitzvah or even your grandmother’s coming out party this year, I love you, I am looking forward to it, I will be there and it will be great.

I am just terrified.

Not terrified about meeting new people, getting too drunk, saying something stupid or figuring out what to wear, how to get there, or whether or not I’ll have a good time. In actual fact, I have growing concerns about the hole that is currently burning in my back pocket (or more realistically, purse).

I’m not tight. In fact, I’m pretty frivolous with cash. And yes, I do understand that due to my age, invitations to elaborate affairs are to be expected, but four weddings in four months seems a little excessive, don’t you think? Add to that a festival, a hen and a few birthday parties, as well as a new car and things begin to add up/I start to feel sick about how I’m going to afford it all.

I know.

Don’t even say it.

This post couldn’t be more first world pains if it tried.

I know that there are children missing in Calais and bombs going off around the world. I am well aware that global warming is a losing battle placed at the forefront of literally no one except Leonardo DiCaprio’s minds and basically all of the good celebrities are dying this year, but seriously, this influx of expensive weddings in exotic locations, matched with sky high estate agent fees and other unearthly costs are getting to me. And although I care about these aforementioned global issues, please just humour me and allow me to nab just five minutes of your time to moan and bask in our mutual (because I just know that I’m not alone in this) hatred for all things money related.

And if you don’t want to hear it? Click away now.

Basically, being 27 in 2016 is quite difficult.

The majority of my friends are living with their parents. Some have only just left home and others are returning home to save money on rent. We still drink before we go out, if we’re having a big one, in order to save cash on cocktails and we jump at the chance to use a 50% off key ring (who wouldn’t) to buy pizza from halfway across the city. We swap clothes and buy and sell online and we can still barely make rent (that’s if we’re even paying any). And I’m sorry, but I just can’t help but feel jealous of the generations that came before us who had probably bought a home and were two thirds of the way up their chosen career ladder by my age.

The problem is that I don’t take money too seriously. I like to earn it so that I can spend it on seeing a new part of the world or to eat dinner with friends. I never like to miss out on celebrating something wonderful with people I love – even if does mean forking out money from an overdraft – and saving, in this climate, seems like a waste of time to me. But I’m angry. Angry that I’m not alone in not being able to afford a fucking thing (despite having a full time job) and angry that I have to think so much about sheets of paper that, essentially, are nothing more than bog roll.

This post is pointless. I know that. I’ve just spent half an hour moaning in writing about having lovely weddings and birthdays to attend this year. I’ve just whined about having to fork out money in order to spend five, blissful days in a field with my boyfriend and I’ve moaned about paying for a new home with said boyfriend, something that other people would kill to be able to do.

So, although I had planned on berating the world for making money a necessity and had intended on putting all things cash-related to shame, all this post has done is remind me how lucky I am. Lucky that I have friends to share my money with and to spend my money on. Lucky that I have a job that allows me to enjoy such experiences. Lucky that I get the opportunity to have so much fun. And lucky that, although I might not be minted, I am happy.

So, although I haven’t achieved what I had set out to (which was to moan about the things I don’t have), I have instead been reminded of what I do have and have been rewarded with a huge (and much needed) dose of gratitude, which is never a bad thing.

Suck it up, Olivia. Life is good.

THE LAUGHTER

large (1)

Not a day goes by where I don’t laugh. I mean it. It’s not a conscious thing, I just don’t think my subconscious would allow for anything else.

I’m not saying that I laugh my tits off at funerals and I certainly don’t always see the best in everyone. I don’t have a constant, deranged smile on my face, but nor do I succumb to frowning more often than necessary- not only because it gives you wrinkles but because it’s just plain ugly. School reports would often ask why I found things so funny, why I couldn’t sit still in class and stop messing around with friends. I think I just realised – perhaps a little too young – that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

And by that, I don’t mean the big things. Of course, there are elements of life that we must treat with a little more tact than making a cheese and pickle sandwich on a Thursday afternoon, such as raising kids or forging a career.

But when it comes to the small stuff? Don’t sweat it.

I’m talking about the rude people you encounter on your morning commute and the self service tills that just don’t seem to work, despite it being 2016. I’m thinking of the times your friend cancels on you at the last minute or the promotion you missed out on at work. I’m thinking about losing bank cards or missing the 28 day curfew on a return. You know what I’m talking about: the niggly annoyances of every day life that make you just want to scream (until you get a little perspective, of course). The same niggly annoyances that make everyone look so grey and miserable as they move around the city.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re permitted to be annoyed – in fact, it’s healthy to react to things – but negative thoughts lasting longer than 30 minutes? You’re wasting your time. You won’t get that half an hour of wallowing back, that person is still going to have been rude to you and you won’t be able to change the past: so why are you still making it your problem? Instead, find the strength to turn the situation around: laugh at their ill manners and know that it will come back to bite them on the bum; shrug at your boss’ poor decision making skills and, most of all, keep your goddam chin up.

Whether you are the CEO of a billion dollar corporation, a cleaner at the cafe around the corner or an overworked NHS nurse, the truth is, the perils of daily life can get us all down at one point or another. Things bother us and, in our own little worlds, the small gripes become big gripes and, when they add up, it can become really difficult to get up in the morning.

But there’s not much we can do about bad days, sadly. They happen to the best of us.

What I am trying to say though, is that we should try to deal with them better. In fact, I suggest you do one (or all) of the following: Feeling ill? Take your favourite colleague out for a warm bowl of soup and spend your lunch hour (and actually take an hour) talking about your love life, your aspirations or simply what you did at the weekend. Do not, under any circumstances, discuss your 9-5. Feeling undervalued at work? Find a hobby or start a blog and showcase your talents to those who want to hear and see them. Feeling lonely or out of touch with things? Set up a Twitter account and search for a hashtag relevant to you. Start a discussion. Ask a question. It’s free. Feeling demotivated? Sign up to a half marathon, join a gym or go for an evening walk. A little exercise really does go a long way.

But most importantly? Find a way to laugh at least once a day, no matter how hard it might seem sometimes. Find out the name of the person who makes your morning coffee or greet the TFL worker at your station. Force a smile in the face of difficulty and chuckle away the negativity. You burn calories, you acquire fewer wrinkles and – I promise – your world will become a much better place for it.

Still not feeling the fun? Click here. This clip is never not funny.

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

Longer days and brighter evenings have made everything just that little bit better this week. Open your window wide, make some fresh coffee and hop back into bed for a bit to enjoy my favourite pieces from the last 7 days…

Relevant

Inner Critic

So bang on

Debate

One Night Stands

Birth control for men

Nostalgia

Netflix is important

Oh, Maria

Abuse

Sapiosexual

Funniest piece I’ve read all year

YES

Have a wonderful week.

THE LATE TWENTIES

large (2)And just like that, I turned 27.

It seems like only yesterday that I didn’t want mum and dad to leave me alone at the school gate; since I had my first boyfriend; since I was put into detention for talking too much and since graduation. It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was too scared to ask for mayonnaise in restaurants, since I drank prosecco despite the hellish hangover to follow and since I bought all my clothes in Primark. Basically, time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.

And so here I am. In my late twenties. Young for some, ancient to others.

But what’s it like?

Well, when people asked me at 17 where I thought I’d be in ten years time, I certainly wouldn’t have painted a picture of my current Hannah Horvath infused lifestyle. I wouldn’t have been living at home and I wouldn’t do what I do for a living. I used to think that when you were my age you were an adult: mortgaged, engaged, successful, maybe even pregnant? I was so excited about turning 27 that I used to stick apples down my shirt and prance around the house pretending to be as old as I am now. I had so many expectations for this year. And in truth, now that I’ve arrived, it’s a bit… weird. 

It’s sort of a halfway house between feeling capable enough to have a mortgage and raise children, but not wanting to. It’s a confusing mix of wanting to eat snacks on a comfortable sofa over going out dancing but then dearly missing the stories from epic nights out. It’s wishing that you had more responsibilities than you do but being secretly happy that you don’t own a dishwasher. It’s that fine line between crop tops and tees. It’s the knowing that you’re not old enough to feel stable just yet but also being very aware of the fact that you’re not young enough to live a completely carefree and frivolous lifestyle anymore.

But for all it’s uncertainty in some aspects of life, being 27 means that I know who I am and that all I want is to be happy. I finally know what clothes suit me and that it’s okay to wear winged eyeliner on the daily. I know that my freckles aren’t my own worst enemy. I know that my legs might not be my favourite feature but they’re not the worst that could happen to me. I smile everyday. And I know who my friends are.

But most of all? I recognise that it’s important to be grateful and that things will work out if I try hard enough.

Being 27 might come with a few more grey hairs and the pesky ability to put on weight far easier than being 26, but the understanding yourself a little better is well worth the wait.

Happy Birthday to me.

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

flowers

It’s Mother’s Day! But it’s also a Sunday. And Sundays are best spent in bed with coffee and some good reads. So here goes.

The Importance of Home

Make the Internet Safer

Read It

Pick N Mix

One for the Mothers

Freeze It

Climate Change

Positive Anxiety?

Episode 2

Female Desire

Rehab

Proposal

Sharing is Caring

90s Reflections

Have a wonderful week!

THE FAKE LOVE

large (1)

He was really funny.

Like, ‘my cheeks hurt’, ‘I almost just pissed my pants’, funny.

He smoked. He drank gin. He sat at the desk next to me at work.

I loved him. The only problem was, somebody else loved him too. That person was his girlfriend.

For us, there were no meeting of eyes across a packed room and it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. He was in a new city and I was a bit… lost. We got on. A few messages and intense after work drinks later, we kissed.

And that was sort of that.

By ‘that’ I, of course, mean full-blown affair.

But did I care that I was doing the dirty? Not really. I was going at 100mph and enjoying myself too much to notice his relationship falling apart, to care that the guy I was seeing was getting hurt too, to think about the innocent woman who was driving herself mad with suspicion or to realise that what I was doing was wrong. We spent all our time together at work. We spent all our time together outside work (that we could manage). We stayed late almost every evening. We drank together every night. We met up on lazy afternoons in galleries and on park benches. I would do all I could to see him: cancelling plans, avoiding dinner dates. I even called things off with the perfect guy for him.

It was safe to say I was addicted.

But, as with most addictions, they always leave you wanting more.

So, after months of empty promises, disappointment and getting in too deep, I decided to cut and run. There was no future for us. There never really was. And the stronger fix I was chasing was never going to be found. He loved his girlfriend – despite what he did – and I knew that we would never work. As soon as I realised that I was chasing an unachievable dream with a heart that I was sharing with somebody else, it was clear what I had to do. And so I did.

I’ll admit it, I did cry when it was over. In fact, it pretty much ruined Christmas for me. But the fact that I had dusted myself off by New Year and work resumed as normal – sans romance with him – come January 5th? It meant that I never really loved him in the first place.

In retrospect, I can now see that the all too familiar butterflies and beating in my chest that I mistook for symptoms of love, were actually just a byproduct of my anxieties surrounding getting caught. I realise now that it was the adrenalin – not him – that had made me fall in love with the ‘relationship’ we had.

So, to those of you enveloped in the heart racing, blood pumping momentum of an extra marital? Take this as a slap to the face and a shocking realisation that, actually, it probably won’t work out. And even if it does, do you really want to pursue a relationship with one who is so capable of deceiving someone they share a bed with? The beauty of an affair is that you get to realise what you don’t want in a partner and who you don’t want to become. You berate yourself for being so blind and stupid, but it also makes you realise just how powerful desire can be sometimes, how often it can be mistaken for the real deal and how careful you should be in the future.

The biggest lesson I learnt from falling for someone who was in a relationship with someone else? Don’t do it. Real love isn’t a half hearted, part time, sharing platter. It is a full time, kick you in the balls, can’t be without each other attraction that is both one hundred percent uncontrollable and easy at the same time. It is comfort, understanding and support. It is not holding hands under tables and hiding your phone from your partner. With real love, both parties will fight to the death for it. Not make excuses about rent prices and comfort zones.

Take it from me, never give your everything to someone who is giving theirs to someone else.

Two’s company and three’s (nearly always) a crowd.

THE 14TH FEBRUARY

large (10)

I love it when people say that they dislike Valentine’s Day. Except I don’t love it. I hate it. Particularly when the same people scrutinising its sentiment also celebrate Christmas, Easter, a Friday or even their uncle’s Bah Mitzvah in the only way they know how: with presents, alcohol and too much food.

So what’s the problem with celebrating love in much the same way?

They complain about shop windows, overpriced goods and the pressure to buy. But the same humans, come December 1st, turn into elves themselves, donning Christmas jumpers, drinking too much whiskey and tucking into overpriced Christmas cheese. And I’m pretty sure they ain’t celebrating Jesus’ birthday. They just enjoy the time of year. They like investing time in family – until Uncle Toby drinks too much wine and tells you about that time he and Aunt Sheila did the dirty in the back of your family car – and they get stuck in.

But they come to a halt on love day.

They grimace, they denounce their involvement and shy away from card buying and gift giving.

But why?

The ‘I show you every day’ sentiment doesn’t wash with me. That’s nice and all and I really appreciate being spooned to the point I think I might suffocate on a nightly basis, but why is it such a hardship for you to show me just that little bit more on one day of the year? Yes, card shops relish in this time of year. But they also exploit our warm hearts at many other times throughout the calendar months; so what’s new? You know as well as I do that we’re exploited by big retailers on pretty much a daily basis, but if you really want to roll with that excuse? Then use your hands and make a card, squeeze them extra tightly or cook them a nice meal. Nobody ever said you had to actually buy something.

I think that hating on Valentine’s Day is a little ‘on trend’ but the question I’m asking is: when did love go out of fashion? In a world that can be bleak and a little bit scary, why wouldn’t we take any opportunity we can to celebrate something positive and tell those who we love that we don’t know where we’d be without them and spoil those who most deserve it?

Basically, I don’t care if it’s not really your thing. In fact, let it glide past you for all I care. But don’t shout your mouth off about how much you hate it, because Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be. Make a crappy card, treat them to a homemade red velvet, sit on the sofa with snacks and a good film or just don’t fart on their leg for the next 24hrs. Whatever love is to you, celebrate that in the best way you can.

The 14th February might not mean much to you, but to someone who needs a little loving (i.e. everybody at one point or other), it can mean a heck of a lot.

Have a good one love bunnies.