Thursday, 3 March 2016

To Ink or Not to Ink?

Tattoos have become a popular accessory to have on your body over the past few years, but unlike clothes, they stay – trust me. Some people get tattoos for a laugh and if you’ve ever seen the show Tattoo Fixers, you’ll know what I mean. Several people of all ages come into the edgy pop-up shop with dire tattoos, ranging from the words “Chicken Nugget”, which two girls acquired whilst drunk on the strip of Magaluf, or a badly drawn star on the ankle that was done with a sterilised needle at a skate park at the age of fourteen.

Sometimes people seem to forget that these don’t scrub off in the shower. They are now a part of you for life. A pretty daunting prospect to some, but for others, it’s something sentimental – just for them, no one else.

A few years ago, there was a segment on ITV’s This Morning, discussing the stigma surrounding tattoos, and whether celebrities who proudly show off their ink are bad role models. Do these tattoos makes them defiant against a social norm, or unprofessional in the workplace? Of course, Britain’s resident loud-mouth Katie Hopkins was putting forward her argument against tattoos, claiming that when people are young and impressionable, they will do anything to emulate their idols; whereas a little-known X Factor contestant claimed that they were works of art.

I can see both sides of this argument, but I can’t necessarily agree wholly with Hopkins that the entire population with tattoos get them to imitate their role models. What people choose to do with their bodies, whether that be piercings, tattoos, or even just expression of individuality through clothes, or even eccentric hair cuts or colours, is their own choosing. Yes, there is an argument for people being impressionable, but people are influenced by everyone surrounding them – their parents, friends, teachers as well as what they see on the internet. But these tattoos that take the shape of 1950’s pin-up girls, animals, or philosophical quotes, do not have to imply that someone is a bad role model. Your lecturer could have a cheeky tattoo concealed under that beige jacket of theirs, but that doesn’t mean you won’t listen to them, because, after all, they are there to teach, not show off their body art.

People who have tattoos themselves, may not even have them on full display, out of their own want for privacy, because their tattoo is for them, and them alone. They may be small and easily concealed so they are allowed to express themselves but keep it private. Tattoos can be described as an expression of one’s personality, or inner self, or they may be an attention-grabber which is made to shock, or provoke a conversation or questions such as “Why that?” or “What inspired you?”. Inspiration can vary from person to person. It could be in memory of someone close to them, an obstacle overcome, or simply that they just like the design. But who are we to say that these people are in fact bad people or bad role models to others? Are these people automatically less credible just because they brandish a lyric from their favourite song on their arm? Are you going to discredit my article when you find out that I got my first tattoo only a few weeks ago? Yes, it is arguable that some tattoos can be obscene and ridiculous, but on the other hand, some tattoos can beautifully done and can be considered works of art.

Yes, the prospect of being drawn on with permanence can be frightening, but sometimes you have to grin and bear it – literally. But you have to be sure that this inking is what you really want, or whether you’re doing it to be different just for the hell of it. Just keep in mind that this is for life, and not only for a few hours like the temporary tattoos that you used to stick on with a wet sponge when you were seven years old. You have to be sure that this expression of yourself is something you’ll be happy showing your parents, or and that it won’t inhibit your career in later life. Yes, tattoos are great to show off to your mates, but they really aren’t when you wake up and realise you have the word ‘Potato’ tattooed on your chest. Tattoos take time, so my advice is: take your time. Plan it carefully, and make sure you’re happy with decision, and that you don’t waiver over your choice in the days leading up to your first inking. Better yet, if it has some sentimental and personal connection to you, it makes it worth the pain.

An expression or not, tattoos do not dictate whether someone is “bad” or not, Hopkins. People are free to make their own decisions, but if a young eighteen year old decides to copy their favourite singer or actor and get that initially horrifying inking, remember that they made that choice, and that if they regret it in later life, it was exactly what they wanted at that point in time. If you’re looking for someone to pin the blame on, don’t blame their role model, because we have no idea what the reason or impetus was for their tattoos. It shouldn’t effect their personality, or whether they are “good” or “bad”. So remember the next time you meet a respectable young man or woman, if you catch a glimpse of their personal inking, it does not effect who they are as a person, or make them less competent than others at their job.
The rush of your first tattoo is such a good feeling but just remember to be prepared.

Oh, and also, the pain isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.

My tattoo has its own meaning to me, so I'm not bothered if other's think otherwise, because I know that I endured twenty minutes of etching for me, not for any other reason.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Is it Me?: The Realities of Depression

An NUS survey found 78% of university students suffer from mental health issues. And with government cuts to funding to aid mental health, it seems that we, as a country, are moving backwards in our understanding of these issues. People who suffer from mental illnesses ask, 'Is there something wrong with me? Is this feeling normal? What's made me this way?' Evidently, mental illness has become a topic that still seems to lack understanding.

The organisation Time To Change had its national Time To Talk Day on 4th February, and its aim is to try and beat the stigma of mental health issues. Part of this is gaining the courage to talk about personal experiences, and raising awareness - throughout the country, as well as amongst our generation - as some may feel embarrassed to talk about how they're feeling.

2015 was the year I learned to accept that that feeling I've had since I was a wonderful teenager wasn't something I should've dismissed and put away on the shelf. I don't know what it is that makes me feel or think this way, but it's there - and has been for years. Part of my mind has constantly nagged me that something was a little off - but coming to accept that I haven't been myself, and dealing with these issues, is an idea I'm trying to make sense of. The media want to discuss the stigma of mental health, but this, in turn, has led to parts of social media glamorising symptoms of depression, anxiety and self-harm.
People are made to feel "qualified", but mental illnesses aren't something you're qualified to suffer from. But that's just it, mental health issues aren't something you should be qualified to suffer from. It's the dark shadow over your head, the feeling of utter isolation even when you're surrounded by friends, the severe lows where you can't muster enough energy to get up, and the questions that fog your mind. Mental illness creeps up on you. It takes its pick and holds on. It wants you to understand that although others may not be able to see the problem, it doesn't mean it's not there.
You can't pinpoint the day something goes or becomes 'wrong'. Being depressed at an impressionable age led me to take an attempt on my life. There was no identifiable trigger, but in some part of my mind, I'd had enough. Admittedly, at such a naïve age, I should have realised the consequences of my actions, had the attempt been successful.

I convinced myself the only person who would understand why I feel this way, is me. So, I kept quiet, ignoring that what I was feeling wasn't just teenage hormones, but something unexplainable. The feelings and thoughts about myself worsened through sixth form. The environment I found myself in was toxic, claustrophobic, and mentally, emotionally and physically draining. So when a sweeping 'craze' of constant calorie-counting and subtle fat-shaming consumed my year, it became inescapable. I like food; I like watching Bake Off and Masterchef as much as the next person. The phantom of 'healthy living' was everywhere, both inside and outside the classroom.

Inadvertently I was made to feel guilty about liking to eat, with comments like, 'Are you really going to eat that? It's X amount of calories,' or, 'A moment on the lips, forever on the hips,' from people reading the calories on my food. My appetite decreased rapidly, I concealed the full extent of the problem, and became a regular at the gym. So instead of plodding along, I decided to run. I've never been the skinniest, and that's fine because I like food and want to enjoy it. So, I worked hard, went to the gym, ate less, kept a part-time job, learned to drive, gave away my food, applied to university, and went home every day knowing that I was my own ticket out. With the stress of A-levels, I began to experience headaches and stress I had never experienced before. I was so focused on getting out of school, I had forgotten what I was doing to myself to get there.

It was around this time that I learned that my best friend had been seeing a therapist for anxiety and panic attacks. I'll never pretend to understand how she feels, and she'll never pretend to understand how I feel or where it came from, especially when she confided in me that her anxiety had worsened and decided to try a new method - antidepressants.
There seems to be a stigma surrounding antidepressants and those who use them. However, antidepressants aren't just prescribed for those suffering from depression, but also anxiety, OCD and insomnia, as well as ADHD. Sometimes you have to try something, even if it scares you.

So I have an admission...

I referred myself to the NHS to enter therapy and become the person I once was - or thought I was. After a blind-siding experience, everything seemed to come crashing down, taking those feelings off the shelf and back into my mind. After several sessions, I was referred to my GP to seek an alternative method of antidepressants. I was scared - as if it's my dirty little secret, something I felt ashamed of. I've come to realise that I need to get better, and this is a way I can try; and in the process of doing this, I've come to contemplate what's best for me. Even my position at university and whether it's what I really want, or whether it was what's expected if me.

It took losing nearly two stone, a severe lack of appetite, hair loss, crying for days and nights, self-mutilation, and an irrational breakdown, leaving me wanting to escape from the psychological prison I found myself in. I hadn't been honest about what was going through my mind, especially with those closest to me. I kept it from my family and the people surrounding me here. I regret not telling them sooner, because I pushed them away when I needed them most. I downplayed the truth and lied to those closest to me, and the ones I care about most.

I was afraid I'd be shunned, that people would tip-toe around me, being wary of what they say. I didn't want it to become anyone else's burden.

So, when someone asked me, 'Do you suffer from depression or anxiety or anything like that?' I half-lied because I myself didn't know. I lied because I didn't want them to worry, because I'm not 'that' girl who has a problem. Any for lying to you, I'm truly sorry.

It's hard having the constant battering of 'There's something wrong with you' in your head, especially when it's your own voice, or you'll never believe you'll be good enough at anything, or for anyone, is the cruellest trick you can play on yourself.
Awareness about mental health is integral to our understanding of not only others, but also ourselves. Hopefully, speaking out about personal experience with mental illness will raise awareness and help beat the stigma surrounding these issues.

So it is me? A question I find I ask myself far too often, but that somehow, there is nothing I can do. So just remember...

It's not just you.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Message: Unsent.

We've all had those messages we wish we'd sent, or hadn't for that matter. We've come so close to hitting that "Send" button, but there's that inner voice in the back of your mind telling you it's a bad idea. Sometimes it is, and sometimes, you just have to hit that button and take a chance with Fate.
I have done both these things; with my parents, friends, and those I once was more than 'just friends' with. I tell you, it's so much easier to convince yourself that this is a good idea under the heavy intoxication of the infamous Quad Vods of your local student bar. I've sent messages I wish I hadn't, and sometimes, I feel like I just had to. You just need to get that thing off your chest. And sometimes you breathe that refreshing sigh of relief, and sometimes you regret it instantly and have to endure a drawn out conversation that you wish you never had. Again, this has happened to me, and as I'm sure, many of you. If there's that niggling bit of doubt in your mind, be cautious when making a decision like this. You don't want it to bite you in the arse.

The impetus for this post came from an article I stumbled upon on the Daily Mail (other good newspapers are available) at the end of January. It talked of a girl- Rora Blue, as she is known to her followers, who started a project surrounding unsent messages to peoples' first loves. Now, normally I'm quite cynical when it comes to mushy, lovey-dovey, cringeworthy messages such as the ones displayed in her Sacramento collage, but something about this just seemed a little different.
With an initial response of 2000 messages, Rora asked people to submit a message under the prompt: State your first loves name and tell me what you would tell them if you sent them a text message. Also include the colour that you think of when you think of your first love.” Now, I'm sure you all of person, a brief idea of a message, and maybe perhaps a colour that remind you of your first love. If you don't know you've been in love, or think you have, that works too. Her aim- to "visually encompass the complexity of the feelings and colors associated with a first love". Now, to you and me, this must seem fairly easy. We all know what we'd want to say to that one person. Or do we?

I had a thought about this whilst reading- what would I say to my first love? This led me to question whether I had been in love at all, or whether I had just told myself that at the time? So, meaning to look properly at Rora's project for weeks over the beginning of semester two of my academic year, I finally found time to look at this very brightly colourful and diverse collage; with messages declaring enduring and unrelenting love for the person in question, to those a little for sceptical of the relationship, to those ones that were slightly more bitter. And when I mean bitter, I mean the words "fuck" and "karma" were used very excessively.
Some people say that you should never regret meeting anyone, or a relationship, because at the time it was exactly what you wanted. But surely that means, we as human beings, aren't then going to learn from our experiences if we don't reflect on them and ask ourselves what we would do differently, or vice versa?
My flatmate has said the same thing to me. Now, my problem is that my ex is also friends with my housemate, and was even before we had crossed paths, and also currently lives with her boyfriend. So I can understand her trying to remain impartial. Although, I've come to learn, that no matter how much someone says they're unbiased, there always tend to be a lenience to one side or another. My relationship with my ex-boyfriend was not a bad relationship in the slightest. And many ask, including myself, why we ended in the first place? His feeble answer of "I think I'd be happier single right now" just didn't seem to cut it. This is even further complicated by him telling me that he still loved and cared for me, he just couldn't be in a relationship right now.
If he had talked me through his feelings I probably would've understood more reasonably, and we wouldn't be in the awkward and sometimes anger-stricken, I can't call it a relationship, place we are in. We only see each other if we go out as a group. So we sit in the same room, acting as if we don't know each other, whilst behind the exterior we know every inch of each other's hearts, minds and bodies. I can honestly admit that he's better at acting as if nothing had ever happened than I am. I'm not one to bullshit about how I feel, but I'm also not going to make the situation any worse than it already is, because that's not fair on either of us, or our friends caught in the middle.

Rora's project has since reached over thousands of people all across the globe, even to me right here in the UK. Reading some of the messages that are updated to her website's archive, I found some that were utterly heart-breaking, because I found myself understanding what they were meaning, in a way I never had before. And part of me hated that I did. I understood the pain they felt mourning someone who was still alive. The devastation of seeing the one they love look at someone else in the way they used to look at you. The pang inside you that makes you feel sick when you hear they have someone new. Someone that's not you.
So much for being single...

If you've read my previous post, that include my article published in the Wessex Scene concerning the idea of "relationship goals", then you might've picked up on a few small details, that in all may seem entirely insignificant. When I talk of seeing my ex as a stranger I know everything about. The things I know are subtly included in the article. Yes, his favourite colours are in fact black and orange. He does prefer numbers to words, whereas I'm the exact opposite. This is mainly due to my ineptitude to solve anything further than a simultaneous equation at GCSE level. All you have to do is look at our highly differing degrees- I study History, whereas he studies Maths and Physics. EW. I know, grim. Gives me shudders just thinking about it. And we spent many a time speeding down awfully thin country roads, blaring out anything from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to The Kooks. The surprisingly sunny and clear weather made this feel as if it could've been a movie scene. Too good to be true.

Rora tries to understand the complexity and variation in emotions people have toward their first loves. What colour would I think of? That's easy- orange. I can't associate any other colour with him than orange- not fluorescent, but not dull either. And the feelings I have toward him? Well, that is something unexplainable. It swings from one extreme to another. Right now, I don't recognise him. He's not the man I met at the end of 2014, and accidently fell in love with a few months later. I can honestly say that if I had met him now, at this very point rather than a year ago- I'd hate him. We wouldn't get on at all. We would clash like thunder and lightening. And in the end, lightening is always more destructive. Sadly part of me regrets getting into a relationship with him, because I've lost more than I've gained, due to the amount of effort and investment we had both put in. You can see this, just by how far we travelled to see each other outside of uni- him being from Somerset, and me from a quaint village in the home county of Surrey.

The Unsent Project offers a personal insight to people's raw and real emotions toward others. I can't implore you enough to visit her website and see the rainbow of emotions for yourself. These declarations aren't cowardly, but unfortunately for some, the things we want to say, they just shouldn't matter or are relevant to the other person anymore.
It's hard having to see that one person you let in move on to someone else. Especially when they're a constant feature in your life. I, unfortunately, can't escape, which makes this all the more difficult. Part of me is torn between wanting to scream or hide under my duvet. Unfortunately, mine and his time together is up. I've lost my best friend. The person who knows me better than anyone else- and yes Mum, he just knows me in a different way. More intimately.

I feel vulnerable knowing that he knows everything. That he was the first person I let in, and he seemingly got bored. He's never been good at articulating his thoughts, so I seem to be looking for an answer I'm never going to get.
Unfortunately, we are now unable to salvage any form of friendship we could've had. Why, you may ask? Because we apparently "had something between us". So I asked myself- does that mean what he had with his girlfriend before me wasn't "something"? Because they get on fine now, because they've moved on, or as he described it "it's as if we never went out". So does that mean, actually and rather surprisingly, he did love me like he said he did? Or am I not worth his time?
The thing is, I know I still bother him. Because I have rule- don't ask, don't care. And he does the opposite- even if it it's completely innocent. I think I'll bother him until the day we properly part ways. Who knows? Time can change things. 

So express those feelings you may've bottled up inside. Visit Rora's website and take note of the varying array of Unsent messages, because if unlike me you actually have some degree of emotion, it will capture you in a unique way. And write your own if you feel you have something important to say.

You can also purchase your own personalised sticker, with colour and message applicable only to you, through, so go check it out if you'd like that little nostalgic reminder of your first love. And if you find yourself hovering over that "Send" button, just think- is it really what you want to say? And what will it achieve
I've been lucky enough to be in contact with Rora directly, when I stupidly forgot to add my personalised message when purchasing my stickers. I asked about her inspiration for the collage and why she chose to express her vision in this way. I hope she chooses to expand her work, which you can also find on her websites. Ones which you can also take part in. One in particular, I found most amusing called "My ex's shit".

Check out her website here for more details about the Unsent Project:

The Unsent Project made me think about what I would say to me ex, but also what he would say to me. He was never good with words anyway, so it would probably be brief. We don't talk now, so who knows how he feels.

"The medium is the message."- Marshall McLuhan

Monday, 8 February 2016

Jet Black Heart. Part 2.

So, following on from my post about Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share with you an article I wrote concerning the imploding craze of #Relationshipgoals. Dun. Dun. DUN. This particular fad really gets under my skin, as it might do yours.
The following is longer and way more personal version of the article I wrote, drawing my own experiences and thoughts that have trailed through my mind. As well as letting you guys know about how destructive this ideal can be in the real world, I guess I try to advise you to look for happiness, not through our screens but right in front you. It can be unexpected, and sometimes- absolutely perfect in its own way.
So, bitches... Let the bitching begin...
With the ever-increasing surge of social media, and the overwhelming influence of the internet consuming the everyday lives of the modern adolescent, a phrase that has become all too popular amongst the rose-tinted and blissfully naïve minds of young romantics, or fantasists, some might say, has been the overly used thread of #relationshipgoals. A trend and topic that has inserted itself into our vast social domain, becoming a fad amongst the teenage population.
This trend allows those who dream of being loved to expect certain aspects of relationships by the one they adore. There is an overload of photos on our choice photo-sharing app, Instagram, depicting teenage and young adult couples engaging in acts of playful affection, with their surroundings almost as beautiful as the photo's intended main focus. Also, young males in their late teens to twenties, showing off their partners to their audience; dripping in expensive couture and overly ostentatious bling, us mere mortals can only dream of owning. Now, whilst these various displays of affection can be described as sickly boastful, by showing off the "simple" pleasures of intimacy, and lifestyles only a fraction of the globe enjoy, you always manage to catch a glimpse of that caption- #relationshipgoals.


jayalvarrezSteady diet ocean style 😜 @alexisreneg
@jayalvarrez "Steady diet ocean stlye @alexisreneg"
It's almost as if we, as a generation, have become obsessed with finding happiness and love, through the displays of affection of complete strangers. One then allows themselves to model what they consider to be the "ideal" or "pinnacle" of a relationship, to be based on the acts and behaviour of another. This can be seen by the exotic travels to various wonders of the world, the excessive demonstrations of wealth with lavish gifts, and experiences some of us may never be able to one day experience for ourselves. These vain and materialistic ideals which the next generation have immersed themselves in, can be fractious and poisonous to them when seeking the intimacy and affection from a partner.
These "goals" imply a set of instructions and guidelines for both boys and girls to follow in order to achieve this narcissistic perception of "love" many so desperately crave. Quotes that claim girls should be treated like princesses, put on a pedestal, and showered constantly with gifts; mainly consisting of branded clothes or extortionately priced make-up. That boys are these misunderstood beings that are besotted with their partner, living with this re-occurring nightmare of self-deprecation, fuelling their need to be constantly reassured from their other half that they are indeed loved.
These "goals" can manifest into frustrations and discontent when another doesn't treat you the way you think you should, or feel you deserve to be treated. Or that they don't share sympathy for your moodiness, or looking after you when you're on your period. Girls, it's nothing new, it happens to the rest of us, too.  When the behaviour of your partner doesn't match your expectations, you feel let down and decide to look for love elsewhere, in the hope that you'll be one step closer to achieving those "goals". If it is love the teenager generation believe they are searching for.
article photo 4We grew out of idolising fairy tales, happily ever-after's, and finding Prince Charming as children, and now seem to be centring our focus upon on a more "realistic" depiction of what love and relationships appear to be. But is this rise of #relationshipgoals having the opposite effect on our sponge-like minds? Being more detrimental that helpful in achieve happiness? Or even making us resent what we are presented with in reality, and setting our sights on the seemingly never-ending fruitfulness and wealth of those that engulf our social media feed.

However, we have to be weary of the photos we like, or the tweets we retweet, taking them with a pinch of salt one post at a time. Photos are only a snapshot of someone's day. Do the photos many aspire to replicate really depict the reality of one's relationship? What about the other 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds of the day? Just because a mere fraction of someone's relationship is publicised, it does not mean that it's an accurate account of the feelings that lie behind it. It merely captures the optimistic, note-worthy parts of the relationship, reinforcing the idea to their followers that that they are the perfect pair.
We have to ask ourselves whether the admiration for such displays of affection and adoration; with the nauseatingly, over-flattering declarations of one's love for another, or the three dozen red roses or the six foot teddy bear, or the grossly romantic trips to Pairs to celebrate an occasion, really constitute what it means to be in a relationship? Other whether we crave an actual relationship, or the materialistic attributes that seem to come along with it? Is it really love and happiness the next generation are searching for? Or is it our self-indulgent need to fill these materialist desires?
article photo 3 The self-reassurance that their partner worships the ground they walk upon, inadvertently implying that there are some people on this earth that are above human, exceed our expectations of human behaviour.

However, it is important to remember than we are human, we all want things, and to feel what we have never felt. But we don't have to aspire to others, and plague ourselves with the damning #relationshipgoals.

Are we really that un-satisfied with what's brought to us in the real world that we use the escape to social media to fuel our superficial and indulgent desires? Are we poisoning our minds with the thought that there is always someone better than ourselves, who can give us what we oh-so crave?

Every relationship is unique, and the fact that teenagers believe they should behave in a certain way contradicts the idea that a relationship something to cherish, becoming more about what the two people gain, rather than about each other. Expectations of #relationshipgoals can be shattered within an instant, with our emotions fuelling our passion, rather than what we think we're going to expect.

Some waterfall in the middle of nowhere with some idiot
@ellenjenne9 "Bristol's pretty... Some waterfall in the middle of nowhere with some idiot" 

A relationship becomes about the little things, not the grand gestures, to prove affection. It's all their quirks and the tiny details that no one else notices, which makes your relationship your own goal. The conversations until unholy times of the morning, fuelled by the alcohol you consumed only hours before. The effort you put in to get to know each other. Even if that does mean staying up an extra hour to wish them Happy New Year because you're in a different country, and an hour behind (whilst being heavily intoxicated at work. It's fine, no one noticed). The fact that his favourite colours are orange and black. Or that she prefers drinking tea to coffee. Or that he prefers numbers, whilst she prefers words. That you share each other's secrets and anxieties, even at one 'o' clock in the morning after an exam gone wrong. Or that he switches the song playing through your speakers whilst you create, what can only be described as a Smurf massacre, as you unskilfully re-dye that blue hair, and it's always seems to be the same one. I've never heard that song the same way. Or when you bring back a small gift from a holiday, just to show that you were thinking about them. Breaking the speed limit on country lanes in a tiny go-cart of a car, listening to rock music. Enjoying the simple pleasures in life between the two of you, no one else.
You become your own goals, your own adventure, your own Romeo and Juliet (without the morbid ending), and the author of your own story. #Relationshipgoals no longer matter, and shouldn't be the main influence for finding the "perfect" relationship, and it's frightful to see that the next generation seem to glorify the glamorous and finer things in life. We should break this stereotype by realising that no two relationships are ever gong to be explicitly the same. Don't worry about replicating the relationship and lifestyle of complete strangers, because it does not guarantee finding your own happiness. Embrace the unexpected love and opportunities that come your way, because in the end, your own adventure is more important than any #relationshipgoals will ever be.
So like I said in Part 1, write your own kick-ass love story. Don't listen to the do's and don'ts, just live! It's important to remember that we don't have to conform to any ideal, but to live in the moment we have been given.
“You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.”- Oscar Wilde

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Jet Black Heart. Part 1.

With only a week until dreaded Valentine's Day, I feel it is only appropriate to share my irritation for it. I'm not the only one who believes the day had been made less about "love" and more about the consumerist bullshit that goes with it. It's frightfully sickening.
I think this perspective comes from my parents. I have no doubt they love each other in their own way, but they've never been ones to publicise their affection, not even buying a card for each other to celebrate the day. But that's what they're like. They don't have to buy each other things on one specific day of the year to prove that their 20 years of marriage actually means something. 
So that's how I went about my first Valentine's with my ex last year. We'd only been "official" for just over two weeks, and I didn't see the point in us doing anything "special" because we knew we didn't have to. And we are not the sort of people to be all lovey-dovey. Well, he might be, but I definitely wasn't. The idea of us contributing to this façade was relinquished further, when my ex had decided to go home for the weekend. He hadn't seen his parents since the Christmas holidays, so his decision seemed perfectly reasonable. He even asked my permission it was okay! Shock. Horror. I just laughed in response, telling him that he didn't need my permission! 

It was decided, admittedly under the influence of numerous Jaeger bombs and double vodka cokes, that we would "celebrate" Valentine's Day two days later, on Monday 16th, after he had come back home and just before I departed for my short trip to Amsterdam with a few friends from uni, in a club where we had unexpectedly stumbled upon one of his friends from home; who's also studying at the same university, and his girlfriend who was coming to visit. I don't exactly remember how the entire conversation paned out, but I vaguely remember my ex shouting in my ear over the awfully remixed music, that we were going to dinner with his friend and his girlfriend. I'm fine with meeting new people in any instance. But this was something new. I was meeting these people, not as myself, but as "the new girlfriend". I had met my ex's friend once before, when he came on a night out with our friends only a week or so before. Suspiciously, it was around the time my ex started featuring me on his Snapchat story. The 10 second photos of me with my awfully dip-dyed green hair. It was blue to start with, okay? But apparently they weren't the first to ask who I was, and why my ex was spending so much time with me. And I don't mean every other evening for a few hours. I mean, everyday after lectures, we would spend hours procrastinating, eating junk food, and getting drunk with our friends. It was easy because we lived in the same halls of residence, and ours weren't exactly big. But I think that was our mistake. I had fallen for the boy downstairs, but I wasn't the only one. My old flatmate is currently seeing the guy she kissed on the first night of Freshers. Kudos to you guys.
It was then that he admitted that a few of his friends, who were retaking Year 13 back home, had heard buzzings about my presence in their best friend's new life at uni. The source- his mum. Who, I might add is a fucking legend, and is one the kindest and battiest women I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. His entire family already knew about me! He had told me this not long after we had returned from the Christmas holidays, admitting that he had fallen asleep and left his phone unlocked. And low and behold, his two older brothers had found the conversations between us. They weren't exactly private, but in all honesty, at this point I hardly knew the guy. Boy, how that has changed. Proof of this being plastered all over his Facebook profile. Much to his horror, and my amusement.
My ex had a lot of intrigue surrounding his new "friend", whereas, my family didn't even know he existed. I wasn't embarrassed, I just didn't want to get ahead of myself, because neither of us knew what was going on, or where it was headed. All I know is that my feelings for him had changed from "friend" to something else in a period of three weeks. His feelings, I am unsure of, both now and then. But there seemed to be indications that he liked me more than I did at that time. I mean, what possessed him? 
Of course our friends from uni knew what was going on, but the outside world seemed too distant for me to bring him into that part of my life. Something I found myself contemplating; whether I regret bringing those two components of my life together.
Anyway. I was left alone on Valentine's weekend, and I couldn't have given less of a shit. The thing I found funny, was that my ex's mum had even messaged him when he told he of his plans to go home, that she was concerned that I wasn't okay with it! He knew my views on the day, and he knew that we didn't have to single out one day of the year to celebrate with each other.
That's not to say I didn't succumb a little bit to the nonsense of the day. I know, call me a hypocrite. But so did he, and it wasn't as if it was a grand gesture. He bought me my favourite chocolates- Guylian. If you've never tried them, then go buy some right now. Because I can't describe them enough to validate their deliciousness. And I bought him cider. Yes, I know it seems impersonal, but makes more sense when I tell you that my ex boyfriend hailed from the vast valleys of Somerset. And, oh yes, does he have a strong Bristolian accent. Something I continue to laugh at when he says words in an odd way, like "bath" or "three". Something I probably shouldn't find endearing or attractive anymore. Cider isn't just his poison, it's his version of water, with all it's varieties of flavours- from the strong and sour "proper" West Country apple cider, to the smooth and unusual fruit combinations of Scandinavia.
Even though I didn't care much for the day, it was nice to know that my ex was still thinking of me. And I know this because he got tipsy with his mates at the pub, and told me that he wished he hadn't gone home, and that he would've rather spent the weekend back at uni. He assured me that he would make it up to me when he came back. Is it bad that I still have that message nearly a year later? It was also the overwhelming cringe-worthy text I woke up to, the first thing being an apology for being so gross with me. But secretly-- I enjoyed it. It was something I hadn't experienced before, or thought would ever happen, so I will freely admit that maybe, to an extent I was wrong.  
Valentine's Day, yes, can be wonderful to celebrate for some couples. But for me, I'll happily stick to doing something special for my other half on any other day of the year, and not being dictated by modern consumer culture. So whatever category of couple you might see yourself fitting into, don't worry about the day. Don't sweat, it's all cool, bitches. Do something to celebrate if you want. Go out to that fancy restaurant that has a reservations list as long as your arm. Buy those flowers. Write that card, or letter- if you're feeling confident. Just enjoy the day, or don't see it as something to be perceived in awe. Just chill, it's just another day of the year.
Now, my personal feelings on the day don't just lie in my experience. I just don't care. Whatever happens, happens. Just love that person like they are the only one for you.
This first part has centred around the daunting concept of Valentine's Day, but another feature that is to take shape is that of #Relationshipgoals.
So stay tuned for part 2, where I delve into the crux of the impact of social media and how it affects not only our perceptions of relationships, but also those relationships we encounter ourselves.
So whilst blindly loved-up couples go about their preparations for the day, I'll stick to my own style, which include going to a Traffic Light Party at our local student dive, or reading about the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Different, I know. Either way, the day will occur with exceedingly preposterous amount of consumerism shoving itself into our faces. Write your own kick-ass love story.
"We loved with a love that was more than love"- Edgar Allan Poe.

Saturday, 6 February 2016


No, this isn't a blog about the movie, but the start of my musings into all the things we love and despise about the world. So if you came looking for the movie, I'm sorry to disappoint, but why not stay? I could capture your interest and fill your time with several hours of mind-bending ramblings and discussion points. Just for your info, I've never seen Inception, but from what I've heard Leo DiCaprio should've won that Oscar. But oh well. Maybe it's your year, Leo?
So hey, bitches! And yes, I do mean that as a term of endearment. My name's Ellen, and yes, I know, such an old-fashioned name, but it's mine. And you maybe be wondering why my URL doesn't match my name. Yes, whilst my first name is one you don't hear very often for a young adult (I'm currently six months away from leaving my humble teenage years), Jenne is actually my surname. A name that's even more bizarre and unique. And yes, I have searched myself on Facebook, and I can confirm that I am the only one with my name! So take that, bitches. I've never met or heard of anyone with the same name, unlike my best mate's name "Smith", or "Jones", or even "Taylor". So I decided to use it to make my blog that little bit more special, or unforgettable, even if it means I'm known for having a weird sounding last name, that people still to this day can't seem to pronounce. It's rather embarrassing, really. It's bad enough having a wartime-esque name, without having a peculiar last name to pair with it.
Now, so why are you here? Why am I here most of the point? I'm here to broaden my mind, with my musings and not-so-simple understandings of the big bad world that I find myself in. Including topics I've written in a professional manner for my university's newspaper, the Wessex Scene. Go Stags! However, these ideas will contain more a personal insight and experience to those topics, because there's only so much you can publicise in a professional sphere! And, well, I guess you're here to listen? And that's kind of great.
A bit more about me. Currently a (brilliantly) average second year university student, if I do say so myself, studying History in all its glory, at the University of Southampton. This, something which is entirely baffling the 14 year old me in the back of my head, who's achieving a solid C at GCSE. Take that Treaty of Versailles and Prohibition America! I can't say that it was my ambition to be here in this position, but it works for me and I guess I'm enjoying it.
History is so satisfying, especially for someone like me who is constantly living the formidable "grey area," and have all my life. So whilst I bumble along my degree, I thought I'd immerse myself in the orb of the writer, following my long term ideal of being a Screenwriter. And if that doesn't work out, I'm sure I'll find something, even if it kills me.
Unlike my enthusiastically creative and analytical part of my brain, my parents don't work in the publishing or media industry, and have no prized degree. But they don't care, they both work in the retail industry, respectively, and have worked their now middle-aged arses off to get where they are. Even if my dad is currently unemployed and spending his days imprinting Test cricket or the Premier League into his brain. But he did that anyway, he now just has more time... Much to amusement of my mum. I don't admit it, but I do admire them for their tenacity, and ambition to make the best of the work, to give both my brother and myself the best life they can give us.
I like what I like. Some may not share my enthusiasm, and some may not, and that's okay, because we're all different, and we can all like our own things. I like my television. Always have and always will. From the various compilations of Scandinavian crime thrillers, and frustratingly addictive reality shows or series you happen to stumble upon on Sky, to the seriously addictive Netflix (Tip: don't get a subscription a week before your university exams). Yeah, bad move. This interest (I'm trying to steer away from the word "passion" which has been ruined by entertainment television) is probably the reason why I want to bring my ideas to life for a career. Something which has been spurred on by my hobby for reading, something which I now slave over rather than enjoy for pleasure. The first (proper) book I read at the tender age of 11. And yes, I know that's late, but I just found it boring as child, as many kids do nowadays. However, I encourage that even if you aren't an avid reader, try something simple and ease your way into it, kind of like I did- the Diamond brothers forever being my first literary partners in crime (how ironic), because there are millions of worlds to discover and embark upon. Don't go in for the big guns like War and Peace, Tolstoy didn't write that in a day, you know.  
That's kind of why I'm here, to expand my writing skills to a new format, because I feel like sharing my musings are just as important to share. Especially using words. Words are wonderful things.
Another MAJOR aspect of life I'm interested in, is the adventure-seeking idea of travel. Or wanderlusting, as I prefer to call it. To expand your cultural horizons. Seeing the wonders of the world, both ancient and modern. Experiencing another country's history in reality rather than through the voice of a lecturer. This, being more a short-term want of mine, to see the places further a field. I had originally planned to travel this year, visiting a not-really-friend-anymore-but-still-constant-feature-of-my-life's house in Morzine, in the French Alps, to go skiing- for the second time only in my life. Something my dad loves, but my mum hates. And also whisk off the same person off to explore the other side of the world- the glorious and majestic land that is Australia, or Oz, or whatever you prefer. I've always wanted to go, and having family friends in Melbourne; who have been pestering my parents ever since I was about 16 to go visit them, have been an impetus for my craving to see the other side of the world. Alas, those short term plans, and the surprise (which had been in the planning stages for good three months before our partnership unfortunately ended) are to be no more. So now with all this free time (out of term time, I might add), I seem to have, I've decided to seize this opportunity and actually do something with my time.
This impetus has come from a recent, and sombre experience that what brought into the forefront of my life. I'll tell you about this at a later date. I've applied to jobs; started writing more, especially for my university's publications; and hope to become more involved in university outside of the lecture theatre. This impetus also includes seizing this opportunity to travel, and do the things I want to do. Something that I'm coming to learn is very important for me, especially at this point in my life. So I'm off to see the world! When I have the money... And when I can get my unnaturally busy best friend to mind sometime to just CHILL. Yes, Penny, that is you. I'll keep you updated on this as it makes its way through the planning stages to reality. It might take a while.
So come with me, on this road, whatever it may be. Me and my mind are waiting for you, World. So bring your sexism, political shit, personal problems and consuming university timetable! I'm here to write my take on things, and some will be fun and light-hearted, but I'm also here to write about the serious and sometimes tough-to-swallow things that go on in my life. I'll be as delicate as I can, but I won't tolerate bullshit.
So cheers, bitches. I hope you've enjoyed reading this little introduction about myself, and that you've gathered that I'm quite comfortable chatting to anyone about anything. And that I probably don't know when I should shut up. So thank you for reading this post, and I'm sure I'll see you bitches around in the future.
Your not-so-mysterious author,
P.S. I have a penchant for quotes, so don't be surprise if you see one starting or concluding my posts!