The Test of Time

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I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. This is mainly because I’m leaving the town I grew up in, and am faced daily with the question of ‘aren’t you gonna miss things?’. If I’m being honest, leaving Bournemouth has always been a fairly easy decision for me because other than my family, I haven’t felt like I have that many other ties to this place. I’ve quite honestly felt like I’ve had no friends in Bournemouth for quite some time now.

I was one of the only people in my group of friends who didn’t go to university after sixth form, and I maintain to this day that that was the right decision for me, but it did mean I isolated myself quite early on. Even before we left school, I was getting a bit sick of hearing everyone talk non-stop about what uni they were going to, sorting things out etc, and although they’d probably never admit it, I know that my friends judged the decision that I made in choosing not to go.

So I left them drift away. I kept in touch with a few, and there would be the occasional gathering when people were back at Christmas or in the summer, but again I tended to steer clear for fear of that inferiority feeling I would get around them. Just over two years ago was the last time I went to a party with these friends, and to be honest, it was great, and I was starting to feel a little more confident about being around people again, but then a personal situation messed everything up, and I pulled myself away again because there were two people in the group that I couldn’t face seeing again. I’m still in a group chat with all these people, but I stay silent, and I can’t bring myself to show up to any of these gatherings.

But that’s just back story, and not what this post is really about.

Yesterday I ran into an old friend in the supermarket. He was one of my best friends during my last few years of school, but he went off to uni and although we’d occasionally chat on Facebook, it’s been about 2-3 years since I saw him last, and even those times would have been fairly brief.

So when I saw him in the supermarket my head went two ways. The first was ‘oh my gosh I need to go and talk to him’, and the other was ‘he probably really doesn’t care about seeing me’. Luckily, the first won out. We stood and caught up right in the middle of an aisle in Sainsbury’s, and d’you know what? It was so good to talk to him again.

We talked like old friends, which is exactly what we are, but it wasn’t one of those conversations you have with someone you used to know, where you just blurt out whatever’s happening in your own life and don’t really pay attention to what they’re saying back, it was a proper conversation. Old jokes from years ago were being thrown about, nothing was fake or forced and I walked away at the end of it with the biggest smile on my face.

I guess through all the recent years where I haven’t felt like I had that many friends, I forgot about the friends that are still there even when you can’t see them. The true friends that no matter how many miles are between you or how many months or years go by will still always consider you to be a friend, and treat you like a friend, and sometimes it just takes an unexpected moment to remind you of those things.

Tackling Self Doubt

I think you’d have to be pretty damn confident to not ever suffer from just a smidgen of self doubt every now and then. Or this just might be how I, a severe lacker of confidence, feels about the matter. You tell me. Anyway..

Self doubt is that little voice in your head that pops up from time to time and tries to knock you down a peg or two (or a hundred) whenever you’re feeling good about yourself, or an aspect of your life; for me, the subjects that hit me hardest are related to my blog or my businesses. In fact, I’m so used to these little episodes now that at the same time as totally sucking, I know that they’re just a phase that will inevitably pass, but I’ve also started to develop my own little coping tactics for when that sinking feeling starts to take over.

Firstly, I vent

Self doubt is absolutely no good bottled up, so I tweet about it, or stick something on my Instagram story. It might look attention seeking to some, y’know, the whole ‘I feel like I’m rubbish at everything I do’ sorta thing, but I honestly am not fishing for any compliments when I do this, its just better out than in. Sometimes I don’t even vent publicly, and its a message to a friend, or a quick chat with someone, just to get it off my chest and out of my head, where otherwise I know it will fester into an endless pit of suckiness.

Then I take time out

Because a lot of my self doubt is about my small business, if I’m having a bit of a time of it, I step away, and its the same with my blog. Forcing something out doesn’t often lead to the best results, and sometimes stepping away gives you a chance to miss what you love, which motivates you to get back to it after a little bit of time. This doesn’t even have to be a vast amount of time; it can be as small as 10 minutes to go and get a drink or check your phone.

Next, I remind myself I am awesome

I don’t often compliment myself, but its always when I’m struck with self doubt that I find myself being nice to myself. Its a bit cliche but I give myself a proper pep talk and really hype myself up, but not to the point that I’m big headed, just enough to kick myself back into gear again and then I let my actions do the talking again.

And then I back it up with proof

Often, I need more than just the hype to really see my worth again, but I think that’s just because I’m a proof-liking person. So I pull up my Etsy sales, or my blog stats, or I look back at something to show how far I’ve come, and suddenly all the words I’ve been telling myself to make me feel better are actual truths, not just motivational rubbish.

Then, I can get back and smash it

I always like to come back fighting, so I get back to things with all guns blazing. Sometimes that means I have to fake a little bit of confidence, but as the old saying goes, you’ve gotta fake it ’til you make it, right?

And remember, just because you doubt yourself, doesn’t mean anyone else doubts you.

Self doubt is just that – yourself. These feelings can come and go and come back again over and over, but I bet through all this you’ve got your own little cheer squad who believe in you no matter what you think of yourself. These people will be your rock through these moments. Believe what they tell you.

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My Best Self

I’ve been thinking about myself a lot recently, but not in a narcissistic sort of way. You see lately, I haven’t always been liking myself that much.

Its no secret that there is a lot going on in my life right now. Matthew and I have just bought our first house, and I am in the process of moving away from my home town, which has been massively drawn out as I’m still working my notice period in my current job. I’ve felt in a real state of limbo over the last few weeks, and honestly its been getting to me a bit. I feel so on top of certain aspects of my life, while simultaneously drowning in others, and this position has been messing with me more than anything else. To put it simply, I just haven’t felt like I’ve been my best self lately.

I’ve not been doing the things that make me happy. I love going to the gym in the morning, and normally that’s at least 4 times a week, but lately I’ve been struggling with managing twice a week due to just feeling overwhelmingly tired and unmotivated most mornings when my alarm goes off. There’s a little voice in my head that tells me I should go back to sleep instead of getting up, and it just keeps winning out.

I haven’t even been making an effort with my appearance lately. Makeup has been absolutely non-existent on my face, with the exception of a little eyebrow maintenance, and instead of dressing how I like dressing, I’ve just been throwing on whatever I can find, which primarily has been baggy, stretchy trousers and loose tops, and I tell myself that it’s more comfortable but I just end up feeling like a slob all day.

This just isn’t the me that I want to be. I’m losing confidence and it’s all my own doing – like another part of me is sabotaging everything that the good part of me is trying to do. I keep telling myself that it’s just a phase that I’m going through while everything is up in the air, and I just hope to god that that’s true and that it will all sort itself out very soon, but I’m not going to stand by and wait for it to happen; I’m making changes.

Sometimes it’s not always possible to be your best self, and that’s completely ok, but when it’s making you unhappy, you don’t have to just stand by and watch it spiral out of control. I’m going to do my best to by my best from today onwards.

Five Things I Learned From Jobs I Didn’t Get

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, I’ve worked a number of days in my life. And while I’ve learned a lot of things in my working life, many of the things I have learned have actually been from the jobs that I didn’t get along the way.

Just because its your dream company, doesn’t mean its your dream job

A few years ago I squealed for joy when I found out my local Lush store was reopening after a huge shop refurb, and were looking to hire a whole bunch of new staff. I smashed out a cover letter that very night and was absolutely buzzed when I was not only invited to a group interview, but also invited back to a trial shift/second interview. Where I fell down was the trial shift, because I wasn’t as totally in your face as your typical Lush employee (if you’ve ever been in a store, you know what I mean) and because I didn’t jump on shoppers the second they walked in through the door, I wasn’t Lush material. I was semi-devastated at the time, but then I realised that the pushy sales assistant thing is definitely not my thing, and I would have felt really pressured in that job.

Passion counts for a lot

You can prepare for an interview all you like, but some interviewers want to see how much you want the job more than necessarily having all perfect answers. Feedback from one interview that I didn’t get hired from was that while I had great answers and they said I could have easily got the job, but other candidates showed more enthusiasm about the role and were more passionate about starting a career in that field, and that was just something that I couldn’t beat.

Just because you don’t get the job first time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reapply

Technically, this isn’t about a job that I didn’t get, because its about the job I have now, but that’s exactly the point. I interviewed for this job once, and when I didn’t hear back for a while, I assumed that it was a no, which was then confirmed when I heard back about a month later, but I was invited to a meeting to get some feedback. During this meeting, I was told that there were two positions to be filled, and three people that they were torn between, one of which was me, but they settled on the other two. However, another role had just become vacant, and while they had to advertise the role again properly, they asked me to interview again, and well the rest is history!

Ask for feedback

Whenever you here back from a job that you didn’t get, don’t be afraid to ask the question of why you didn’t get the job. Take any ‘negative’ reasons as constructive criticism and learn for the next time, but also listen to the good things they will inevitably say about you, and also don’t feel hard done by if the reasons are that other candidates had more experience or were better suited – that’s not a problem with you!

Sometimes you’ll just never hear back

Unfortunately, there are some jobs that won’t even reject you, they’ll just ignore you. A lot of companies now even put it on their job applications to say that they won’t respond if you’re unsuccessful, leaving you completely in the unknown as to if you’ll ever hear back, and why you didn’t get it if you never do. I’ve learned not to take it personally and just move onto the next, their loss!

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Our New Build Experience

I can’t actually remember at exactly what point Matthew and I started looking at houses, but I’m pretty sure we’ve always been set on a new build.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I’d never really thought about new builds before, probably because there aren’t so many new builds around where I’ve always lived, but Matthew was pretty set on wanting one, and as soon as we started looking, even just at photos online, I was pretty easily swayed.

We were very lucky in that moving up north gave us a much better range of houses within our budget – we could have never afforded a place in Bournemouth – and we quickly settled on one particular developer that we loved almost every single type of house they built: Bellway. We did look around some other homes from other developers, but we just found that Bellway had the nicest houses, but also the most relaxed and friendly sales staff.

We also very quickly found the house that we wanted – the Oakwood – and it was really just a case of finding an Oakwood in an area that we liked, although we cared more about getting the house than we cared about exactly where it was, so long as it was within the wider area which Matthew’s job needs him to be living in, and that was when we found our house.

One of the draws of a new build for most people is having the ability to choose many of the features of your house, such as the kitchen cabinets, bathroom tiles, carpets and flooring etc. Well, we didn’t quite manage that. Most of the big decisions about the house have to be made before a certain stage of the build, and as our house was already mainly built when when we put down our reservation fee, we didn’t get to choose the kitchen design or any of the bathroom tiles, but the only thing that really bothered me about that was that I don’t like the kitchen worktop, but the rest is absolutely fine. We did get to choose our carpets and flooring as those are pretty much the last things to be fitted in the house, and while we’ll probably replace the vinyl in the kitchen and bathrooms eventually, we really like the choices that we made and they suit the rest of the house really well.

The good thing about the build being started before we bought it was that there were a lot of incentives thrown in. When developers are on a tight timeframe for completing a development, they really want to sell off the houses that are already built before they start on the next batch, and that was basically exactly what happened with ours. Before we’d even seen the house, they’d already upgraded the kitchen to include some appliances that normally aren’t included as standard, such as a fridge-freezer and dishwasher, and when we were looking at putting down the reservation fee, they agreed to also throw in turf and fences for the garden, as well as paying our stamp duty, which saved us a bunch! We did choose to pay for a few additional extras – downlights in the kitchen, and a shaver socket in the bathroom – but that was it for us as they had to be paid for up front.

Annoyingly, due to work being done every time we went up, we didn’t get to actually go inside our house until our official home demo – where the site manager shows us around and explains how to open the windows, where the fuse box in etc – but actually it was nice to just see it all finished.

Really, we had a pretty smooth experience. It was less than 3 months from seeing the house for the first time to completing, and that was a blessing really as buying somewhere so far from where we live right now could have been a nightmare.

There’s going to be so much more house content coming soon, so stay tuned!

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A Pledge to Myself, Right Now

The last few months for me have been a bit of a rollercoaster. Hell, the whole of 2018 has been a total blur. To say I’ve been overwhelmed would probably be an understatement, and the probably with that is the good old saying: something’s gotta give.

So I’ve been letting things slip. I’m not proud of it, but I know that its true, and the problem hasn’t so much been that I’ve been dropping a few little things from my schedule, its that I’ve been dropping some things that are actually pretty damn important, not necessarily for other people, but for myself.

My skincare routine has diminished to me just barely washing my face in the shower, and there are days where I don’t even fill in my eyebrows. My face has hardly seen any makeup in the last few months, with the exception of when I was on holiday, and when I went to a wedding a few weeks ago, and while I have no problem with not wearing makeup, I really enjoy doing my makeup, and not doing things that I enjoy has really been affecting me.

More recently, I’ve realised that I’m not even wearing the clothes that I love to wear. I’ve gone from wearing outfits that make me feel cute to wearing whatever I can throw together that morning and avoiding looking in mirrors. Suddenly I’m finding things like posting on Instagram feel like the biggest chore on some days, and my blog has been suffering massively because feeling under pressure really hinders my ability to write. I’ve also been neglecting my body; not eating well, avoiding exercise some days and feeling totally sluggish as a result. I’m not ok with this.

So here it is, a promise to myself:

I must remember to take time out for my own happiness. If something’s gotta give, then that’s ok, but don’t let the things I love disappear.

I will look after my body, from getting back on track with eating a balanced diet and remembering to stay active, even if that just means taking a walk at lunchtime. I will drink more water. I will take those extra few minutes each day to look after my skin.

I will not let myself get caught up in negativity, and spend more time reflecting on positive, happy moments in my life, and looking forward to the amazing upcoming events that the rest of this year has to come.

I will try to always be better than the person I was yesterday, because lots of small steps are just as effective as one big one.

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Quality over Quantity

I’ll always befriend a cat

I was in primary school when I first realised that I didn’t have to be friends with everyone to be happy. Year 6, to be precise. Despite going to a tiny little school with small classes, it was already subject to a bit of cliqueyness, and I decided that rather than making myself miserable by clinging onto a group of girls who I had convinced myself didn’t really like me, I could sit by myself, or with people in lower years who I got on with better, and while that didn’t make me particularly ‘cool’, it did make me happy.

Even before then, I knew what it was like to have distant friends. My closest friends while I was in primary school were either in the year above me, so left for secondary school, or had moved to other schools a few years previously, and I got to see them on weekends or at mutual after school activities, so not seeing my best friends every day was quite a normal thing for me.

As I went into secondary school, as is fairly normal with an all girls school, I learned more about how fast-moving friendship groups could be. I started off in the ‘popular’ group in year 7, but quickly learned that I wasn’t actually happy there and moved on, and that pattern continued through my school life – when I wasn’t happy anymore, I found myself drifting away and I moved on. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t skipping from friend to friend by the day or week or even year, I was just quick to pick up when things weren’t working anymore, and I was ok with not having hundreds of best friends at the same time. I picked up some great friends over this time though, many of whom I would still consider as friends today. You see, the good ones stick.

I’ve just never felt the need for fake friends. You know, the ones you see at parties every now and then who pretend to be super interested in your life, when you know they don’t really care about you, or the ones who are only there when they need something from you, but god forbid you should ever go to them with a problem. I’d rather have 10 really good, real friends, than 100 people who couldn’t tell you anything about what’s going on in my life. It might make it seem like I’m a real loner when I say that I have no friends in my hometown anymore, but its the truth and I really don’t mind. I have wonderful friends scattered across the country, and even some across the world. I might not see them every day, or even every year, but they’re there and they’re there for me through whatever.

They matter to me.

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