Friday, 17 November 2017

Moving Onto Bigger and Better Things

We live in a world where social media equates to 99% of our daily life. From 'Instagramming' that perfect cup of coffee, to Tweeting about the latest drama! We are totally immersed. There's been quite a few things flying around online and in my mind and I really feel like I need to get things off of my chest. 

'Just because it's not on social media, that doesn't mean it's not happening.'

I know people who will tweet about how they're feeling, as a cry for help or to simply just get the thoughts out of their head. I do it, but there are times when I simply can't put into words how I feel. People just assume you're ok because you haven't tweeted about feeling down or that you're struggling. This is where you really see who actually cares about you. The people who check up on you or just start a general conversation with you, without the prompt of a 'negative' tweet are the ones who matter. Recently, I have felt that whenever I tweet something positive, it is seen as a way of 'rubbing it in people's faces'. 

This brings me on to the topic of 'communities' ...

'Just because we are all part of the same community, it doesn't mean we all have to get along.'
'Communities' on twitter can be a great thing. They're a way of meeting new people, engaging in their content and sharing similarities. However, these 'communities' aren't always the best things to be a part of. I'm using the word 'communities' lightly because I really don't like the idea of how they operate. I have been a part of the 'mental health community' for the past year or so. At the beginning, it was a great place to connect with people who also struggled with their mental health; it made me feel less alone, however things don't seem to be this way anymore. 

I feel like if I am not tweeting about how depressed or anxious I am, I simply don't 'fit in' with the community. Another person on Twitter also said that they feel that are not 'unwell enough' to be part of this community. This is where the idea of communities is all wrong. The idea of these communities is to connect people together, however it is doing the complete opposite, in my opinion it is excluding people. This is why I have completely detached myself from any kind of 'community'. A community is just an adult way of saying 'clique'. 

I don't want to feel pressured into posting particular content just to fit in to that group of people. I want to post things for me, engage with whoever I want, say whatever I want! I use social media and an outlet to express how I am feeling, whether that be happy or sad. If I am going through a difficult time, I don't want people feel pressured to ask me if I'm ok just because I am part of a particular community. I'd rather people genuinely care and ask if I'm ok because they actually cared about my wellbeing. 

I recently went through a difficult time in my personal life as some of you may know and I used my
Twitter as a way of expressing how I felt. In no way was I using it as a way to seek attention or force hate on other people. If anything, I did the complete opposite and didn't want anyone to be negative. Some people may say, 'Don't put your personal life online' and the truth is, whatever I put online is such a small part of what is actually happening or how I am feeling. NO ONE knows what went on/goes on behind closed doors. The things you see online are a moderated and edited version. 

We also need to remember that we are all just humans on Twitter. When we signed up, we didn't sign a contract saying that we had to be part of any community. I'm not going to get along with everyone and I'm definitely not going to agree with everyones opinion. If you simply don't want to see my content, unfollow me... believe me, I won't cry about it :') We are all becoming too obsessed with likes, follows and blocking. If someone blocks me, I don't care! I've blocked people or muted them and sometimes I can't even remember why, but I obviously needed to do it at that time... and that's ok! 

'I've moved on, in more ways than one.'
This brings me on to my last point. I have moved on in both my 'online life' and my personal life. My online life started to take over my life and I began to be obsessed with sharing everything online and spending every waking moment online. This was actually doing more harm than good. Being clouded by the mental health topics made it harder for me to recover. Don't get me wrong, it is SO important that we raise awareness, but if you let your mental illness be the only thing going for you in life, you need to take a step back and realise that it's not healthy. Being immersed in it 24/7 made me fixate on it all even more and I forgot that I actually am 'Sophie'. I became 'Sophie, the girl who has social anxiety and depression', I lost the Sophie that has so much more going for her, but was being held back by mental health. 

Following on from this, I have also moved on with my personal life. I have been speaking to new people, I guess you could say I'm now back on the dating scene (scary but exciting)! Speaking to new people who are not connected to my 'online life' in any way, has been so refreshing and has really made me take a step back and realise that I do have a life outside of social media. One person in particular who I've started speaking to has made me realise how fixated I am on the online persona I have created. He even told me that he was worried about me and I haven't even met him yet... that's when I realised that I really do need to take a step back from it all. 

No matter how much people will want to try to hurt me or bring back bad memories, I am not going to let it stop me from living my life. I'm proud to say that I'm a 20 year old woman, who has already achieved so much in her life and has so much going for her.

On to bigger and better things... 

Friday, 20 October 2017

I'm Not Amazing

"You're so strong and amazing" 
"You're doing amazingly well" 
"You've been so amazing with how you've dealt with this"

Over the past year or so this is what I have been hearing. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for all of the support I have, I wouldn't be here today without it but it does get to a point where they're just words. 

I know I am guilty of just saying the generic "You're amazing" advice but like other people, in some situations I just don't know what to say. When does this supportive advice just become the automatic response? 

I am constantly having people tell me that I am strong and amazing but it comes to a point where I just can't even begin to believe it. Yes, sometimes I do feel like the strongest woman in the world and I do think I have handled things in a grown up manner, but how can I listen to someone saying I'm strong when all I feel is defeated and weak? 

I will be lying in bed crying my eyes out, with people sending me the most heartwarming messages telling me how wonderful and inspiring I am. If I was really strong, inspiring or amazing... why am I in bed sobbing until my face is blotchy and I've got snot bubbles blowing from my nose (you're welcome for that lovely image). 

I don't know why I'm like this. I don't know why I can't trust and accept what people say (I mean lets be real, I probably do know why). Am I alone in feeling like this? I guess sometimes what I say or do online is the 'better' version of myself. I might say that I have achieved a lot but what you don't see is the panic, anxiety and struggle I have had to get to that point.

So when you tell me that I'm strong and amazing, don't be offended if I disagree with you. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

"I felt dirty, I didn't feel like 'me' anymore."

A year ago today I became the girlfriend of a man (if you can call him that) who I thought, I was going to be with for a very long time. As you will know, I'm now no longer with this person due to their selfish and thoughtless acts. Since about the age of 12 years old I have really struggled with my confidence. I was picked on at school, called fat and ugly and that stuck with me for a very long time. Around April last year when I was going through another break up, I took it upon myself to change my attitudes and my body and begin to love myself. I accepted that I wasn't going to be the next Victoria Secret model, I accepted that I wouldn't have men falling at my feet, but I did accept that this was me and I loved myself.

When someone has been cheated on, they often seek for revenge or send hate to the person in question. However with me, I just did not have the energy to stoop as low as he did. We rarely talk about the other factors that come with being cheated on. Yes, we've lost someone who we loved and cared for. Yes, we've lost the future that we had planned and imagined. But, the main thing I've lost is my own self love and confidence. As I'm writing this, my eyes are beginning to tear up because at the moment I feel as if I'm never going to get that self confidence and love back. He has taken that away from me and that is one thing I will never forgive him for. He spent the last year telling me how beautiful I was, how lucky he was to be with me (which he definitely was)... even the morning after he slept with her, he was looking at me while I was looking at myself in the mirror and he was telling me how pretty I looked... knowing full well what he had done to me the day before. 

When I found out what he had done, I felt physically sick to think that I kissed and touched him after he had been with her... I didn't know where she had been and neither did he, he put my health at risk. Which makes this even more confusing for me because it was difficult for us to even sleep together because of what he has, yet he managed to jump into bed with her in a heart beat. That made me feel like I wasn't good enough, like I was doing something wrong and he can tell me time and time again that it wasn't my fault; but there has to be a reason for him to do what he did and I still haven't got an answer. A lot of people have said to me that this is a reflection on him and not me, which I'm trying so hard to believe but my mind does not want to accept that. 

For around a few weeks after everything had happened, I could barely look at myself in the mirror, I couldn't sleep alone in my bed and I had to have my mum sleep next to me, I could barely touch my own body because I felt like they were both on me... I could have endless showers but I'd still feel dirty. I didn't want to put makeup on for a while because all I could keep thinking was that this makeup was on my face when it had 'her' on it. I know it may sound stupid but I know that Rich, if you're reading this, you can definitely understand how this feels... I don't want to make you feel even more guilty than you already feel but the thoughts you've struggled with for a very long time, are now very similar to how you have made me feel. I am in no way saying that I'm suffering in the same way you do, because I've lived with you and I know how hard it is for you... but the same feelings are still there. I can accept what you've done with her because you were clearly very desperate for whatever you did with her, but I can't accept how you have made me hate every single inch of my body. 

I spent hours doing what I could to try and feel clean again. I scrubbed and scrubbed my lips until they were red raw, split and bleeding. I just wanted to get them off of me. My lips used to be my favourite feature about myself, now whenever I look at them, they just look dirty. When I knew every single detail of what they did... from the moment they got naked, to the point where they finished, all I could think about was where I touched him or where he had touched me a few hours after he had been with her. I scrubbed my body to the point it was painful to touch, I didn't feel like 'me' anymore, I lost a sense of who I am. 

I now get too scared to talk to guys and when they compliment me, it just makes me feel sick. I can't trust what they say and I feel like I'm being lied to all over again. I know I shouldn't hate all men for one man's stupid actions, but that is how I feel. It has made me feel vulnerable and lost. 
I'm now at the point where I want to love myself again. I want to spend time doing my hair and makeup and to leave the house feeling confident. I want to get to the stage where talking to a guy, doesn't fill me with anxiety and fear of getting hurt again. I want to wear things I wouldn't normally wear and just have fun with clothes, hair and makeup and just create a new 'me'. I am beginning to lose weight and feel a bit more confident in clothes, which I guess is one good step towards recovery.

It's time to get Sophie back...

If you have experienced something similar, please don't hesitate to comment on this post or message me on Instagram or Twitter. It'll be nice to know I'm not alone.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Student Stigma || WMHD17

With today being World Mental Health Day, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and spotting the symptoms early. As many of you may know, I have recently launched a project called Student Stigma which has been funded by O2's Go Think Big. The reason I set up this project is to highlight the importance of student mental health. 

I feel that there is a lot of stigma surrounding students and their mental health. When I say that I'm a student who suffers with depression and social anxiety, I get the odd comment stating that what I am experiencing is just the 'normal' stress and worries that a student faces. Comments like this is the reason why Student Stigma is so important. I know that I definitely have social anxiety and depression and I'm sure my doctor agrees considering I've been backwards and forwards to her for the past couple of years now.

When a lot of people say the word 'student' they immediately think of university students, however we forget that children in primary school, secondary school and college are also students. The reason why I wanted Student Stigma to be for people of all ages, is because my 'mental health story' began at the age of 7 years old when I had my first ever panic attack. If you would like to know more about my story, you can either watch my 'Mental Health Story' video, read my story on Time to Change or my interview with the Guardian

At the time of my first panic attack, I was unaware of how I was feeling and what was happening to me however *luckily* my dad had experienced panic attacks before, so he knew how to look after me. If my family did not have the knowledge of mental health and illnesses, we would not have been able to see the early signs of my anxiety. 

One thing that I think needs to change, is the lack of mental health education in schools which is why I hope Student Stigma can allow me to go to schools and campaign to raise awareness of mental health. Being able to see the early signs of a mental illness can be life saving and it definitely makes the process a whole lot easier. Growing up can be a traumatic, exciting and a whirlwind experience for many children and young adults, so it's no surprise that many suffer with a mental illness later on in life. 

This is why I thought this would be the perfect day for me to encourage you to share your story and raise awareness! 

If you would like to share your experiences of having a mental illness throughout education, whether that be past or present, please join in campaigning with Student Stigma. Share your story, share your advice and chat to others! This is a safe place for everyone and especially for students who may need more education about mental health. 

Lastly, do not be dismissive of students when they say that they're struggling. Unless you have been in their situation, you do not know how tough it can be!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Dear Stranger

Dear stranger, 

You may see me laugh and smile online but what you don't see is when I'm crying myself to sleep or when I'm trying to get through a panic attack. You may see me out with my friends having a good time, but what you don't see is the anxiety and worry that is going through my mind.

You may see me tweet saying I feel better, but what you don't see is the struggles I'm still facing, the battles I'm fighting. Just because I'm having a good day, it doesn't mean my problems have completely disappeared. 

What you see online isn't always what is going on behind closed doors. I'm not saying I'm being two faced or fake. I'm not saying I'm not happy, but what I am saying is that you really don't know what people are going through by just reading a few of their social media posts. 

Lastly, I really hope you think twice before the things you say. You may mean well, but when someone is vulnerable and sensitive, the smallest of things can affect them.


A fellow stranger. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

'Just because I have a mental illness, it doesn't mean I'm a nice person all of the time'

I've often heard the phrase 'mental health community' being thrown around a lot and one of the main things being said by a few people is that, people in a mental health community need to be supportive and kind all the time. There's something about this that really annoys me. Just because we suffer with a mental illness, this does not mean we are not human. We will still be bitchy and we will still speak up when we don't like someone/don't agree with someone. 

Why should we be nice all the time? Yes, this would be the case in an ideal world, but it's just never going to happen. I have social anxiety and depression and yes I will be sympathetic when I want to be but just because I have these illnesses it does not mean I am not going to hate the people who have hurt me. If I have been hurt by someone, I will do what any other human being would do and I will hate them for what they've done to me. It's natural and normal to feel this way. 

We, as mental health bloggers/advocates always say that we will not be defined by our mental illness. So why are we being told that we should be kind and caring all of the time because we are advocates for mental health?

I personally know people who have suffered with their mental health, but have still had the power in them to hurt me and do something so beyond horrible. This is proof that just because mental health is a big part of your life, it doesn't mean you need to be best friends with everyone. 

Of course, it is lovely to have a community to turn to but this does not always necessarily mean that everyone is going to be supportive and kind. But of course, I am not saying to go and hate on everyone who is struggling, they need help!

It's a tricky one... 

What are your thoughts? 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A single moment...

In that moment, everything changed.
Everything that was planned was suddenly no longer happening.
The future I would have spent with someone is now simply just a thought and no longer a reality.
I felt everything go numb.
The whole world had stopped. 
I was no longer aware of everything around me.
I was vulnerable but I couldn't bring myself to care.

Everything that had just happened, overshadowed all of the happy memories.
In that moment I was lost.
Struggling to grip on to reality, like water falling through my fingers.
Stuck in a whirlwind of emotions; anger, frustration, panic, betrayal, fear, grief, love and worry.
Not knowing where to turn to next.
Fighting to take the next breath, make the next move.

Alone, with the person who I loved next to me but feeling as if they had died and are no longer there.
The person I thought they were or knew them to be didn't exist anymore.
They became a stranger to me, but a stranger who knew every last little detail about me.
Not wanting to leave them because I don't know if that's the last time I'm going to see them.
They've done the worst thing imaginable to me.

Nothing can prepare you for that moment.
In that moment, what I thought my future would be, suddenly slipped away...

Sunday, 18 June 2017

I Am Life's Punching Bag

I feel like I am life's punching bag, constantly being knocked down. It seems like with every positive thing that happens in my life, 10 other negative things happen and overshadow it. Don't get me wrong my life isn't all doom and gloom and I am so lucky to have the life that I do have, but I can't help but feel like I need a break from it all sometimes. 

Nobody ever really talks about how students with mental health issues cope in the summer. I've kind of touched on this in a previous post, which you can read about here. Just because university finishes, it does not mean that your mental illness stops. If anything, for me it gets slightly worse as I haven't got a lot to keep me occupied therefore, giving me too much time to over think and put myself in a bad and unstable mood. Recently, I have been doing whatever I can to keep my mind occupied and active, whilst of course giving myself a break still. I have focused on my blog more, started working with Student Minds and I have started planning my own little project called 'Student Stigma'

Despite all of this, I still feel like a punching bag because it seems that everything I try to achieve recently, has fallen through and I'm basically getting no where with it. I have applied for over 40-50 internships and work experience jobs and only heard back from a couple of them, who agreed to give me the experience. I sent endless emails confirming dates that I could do, to get little to no reply back. Fast forward a month or so and I have now had replies saying they cannot offer it anymore as they have someone else. This has also happened with a handful of others who have advertised a job to then say that they cannot offer it to anyone anymore. I completely respect that this is the way in which life just happens to work but I can't help but feel disheartened. What am I doing wrong? However, I'm not letting this knock me back... I have applied for a couple of part time jobs which I hopefully have some chance of getting, if not I know I have tried. 

So life just keeps punching and punching but I will not give up. I have so much support around me from family and my friends Nicole (who is amazing;) ) and Katie who is equally amazing and of course Rich. Friends are so important to me and they make life's 'punches' a little less damaging. If you are a student struggling over the summer, surround yourself with as much support as you can because believe me, it helps. Students can feel so lonely and useless over the summer, but we need to remember how hard we have worked and we deserve this break. 

If you ever feel like you are struggling, please do not hesitate to DM me on twitter or to leave a little comment on here!

Don't be life's punching bag!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

University Survival Guide

If you're starting university in September, you may be wondering what it is actually like. I'm going to give you a university survival guide from someone who has lived at home for uni! This might come in handy for you...

1: Don't bother writing down EVERY word you hear in a lecture
When I started university in 2015, I was one of those students who attempted to literally write down pretty much everything that was included in the lecture. I didn't even read back on my notes. I think most 1st year students do this but trust me, it lasts around 2 days then you realise how pointless it is. If you really do want to document everything that is said in a lecture, simply record it and save your hand from cramps! 

2. Try to take your own food for the day
My university cafe is certainly not cheap (for a uni cafe that is) also there isn't much choice. If you have a gluten allergy at my uni, you have no chance. Everything is just white bread with a sad filling that tastes like disappointment. Take your own little snacks or pop to a supermarket instead. Most people say that they put on weight when they go to university and live in halls but trust me, you will put on weight even if you live at home. You find yourself snacking constantly just to fill the breaks or to fuel your endless amount of uni work. 

3. Choose your friends wisely
For my course I have to do a lot of presentations and group work. You'll soon realise that group work at university is basically a living hell. When you start university you are completely chucked into the deep end and you need to suss everyone out quickly. I luckily met someone on my first day who I am still really good friends with now and also someone else who I met in the second week of uni. I would have not been able to do uni without these two! However, I have had my fair share of arguments and enemies... it naturally happens but it needs to happen in order to understand who you work best with. 

4. Public transport is your worst enemy ... prepare yourself
If you are living at home or your campus isn't on site then you will be doing your fair share of travelling. It takes me around 2 hours on the bus to get to uni but only around 20 mins in a car. For my first year I had to get the bus, but luckily this year I have had Rich to take me. You will soon realise how horrible school kids are (a small minority are nice though)... they crowd the whole bus, have zero respect for anyone and drive you crazy. Not the ideal thing when you're travelling on the bus for 2 hours for a 9 hour day at university. 

5. Create your own deadlines
If you have a deadline set change it to a week earlier, this'll make you work faster and be able to submit it early knowing that you can make changes etc. Do not leave all of your work until the last minute... a degree isn't the kind of thing you can do the night before. Start it 3 months before the deadline because you are going to have about 5-10+ other things to do on top of it. 

Are you starting Uni? 
If you have any questions,  leave them in the comments below and I'd love to answer them! 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Self-Care Is Important

If you're someone like me who suffers with a mental illness or you're someone who just generally gets caught up in everything and needs a break, then self-care is so important. We tend to forget about looking after ourselves from time to time. We are brilliant at keeping our physical selves healthy but when it comes to our mental health, we tend to leave it behind and push it to the corner of our brains. 

I am a strong advocate of self-care days, I mean every day should be a self-care day but I know realistically we haven't got the time to have a full pamper day. However, recently I have been doing little things to help with my mood and mind in general and I strongly urge you give them a go yourself! 

Run yourself a bath...
This is such a simple one but the most effective for me. If I'm ever feeling poorly or a bit sad or deflated, the first thing I do is run a bath. I make sure I make time in my day to have one, this can be done by doing errands whilst waiting for the bath to run. Like today for example, I went on my exercise bike while the bath was running and when I had done my workout I could jump straight into it. When I was at school, every Sunday evening I would run myself a bubble bath with candles and watch my favourite YouTubers and then jump into bed and read a book. It prepared me for the week ahead and it was like I was ending the week positively. 

Pamper yourself...
Even if it is just a quick 5 minute face mask, it makes you feel so rejuvenated! I've recently been obsessed with the Loreal Pure Clay Masks, they leave your skin feeling so smooth, cleansed and radiant. The best thing is, you can put the different masks on the different problematic areas on your face, all at once! I feel that when my skin is looking good my mood is better because I feel confident enough to go out into public without any makeup on (which used to be so scary and unimaginable for me).  

Take a social media detox...
If you have read my blog post that I uploaded on Monday, you'll know how much it helped me to have a little break from social media. It enabled me to completely clear my head and 'reconnect' with the world physically rather than digitally. We have become so accustomed to having our phones right by our sides 24/7 and our thumbs just naturally click onto the apps, that we have forgotten what the real life is like, the unedited version. I strongly urge you to try this... delete the apps... or just leave your phone at home for the day. You soon realise that you can actually live without it! 

Watch some crappy TV...
We all have a guilty (I'm not guilty at all) pleasure when it comes to trashy TV. Mine is Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I got into this last summer and it is definitely my go-to programme to watch when I am home alone and feeling a bit 'meh'. I don't know what it is about it but I just find it so relaxing to watch and it is the best form of escapism for me. I also love Hollyoaks, I don't think I've missed a single episode for the past 8-10 years! There's always something happening, someone is always being killed! I love to watch this on catch up in the mornings when I am home alone, with my breakfast and a cat by my side. It just makes me forget about life for half an hour! 

I know I'm not the only one when I say this but I get so stressed and agitated when my room is a mess. It's a mess at the moment and I cannot wait to clear it all out. As the old saying goes 'A tidy house, is a tidy mind' and I definitely live by this. It is a chore but if you just whack on a soundtrack on Spotify or pop on a playlist of your favourite YouTuber, it is so therapeutic and rewarding once you have finished. 

So they're just a few things I like to do when I am feeling a bit down in the dumbs or anxious and I strongly urge you to do the same! 

Self-care is so important and we need to remember to give ourselves a break!

What do you do to wind down and give yourself a bit of self-care?
Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

In 10 Years Time...

In 10 years time I'll be 30 and I'm hoping I can achieve the following by that time...

1. In 10 years time... I want to be in a well paid job within social media/digital marketing

2. In 10 years time... I want to complete a makeup course for stage/film/TV makeup and gain a qualification 

3. In 10 years time... I want to have my own place with Rich (in the hope that we are still together in 10 years time haha), whether it be renting or owning

4. In 10 years time... I would like to be thinking about marriage, although marriage isn't the be all and end all for me ... but I mean what girl doesn't want their 'big day'

5. In 10 years time... I want to work in theatre, whether that's for the advertising and marketing or in the actual production behind the scenes

6. In 10 years time... I would like to be thinking about kids. I mean I'm majorly broody now so! (Run away Rich (please don't))

7. In 10 years time... I'd like to have my own charity or organisation of some kind. At the moment I'm working on a project, so who knows where it'll be in 10 years time

8. In 10 years time... I would like to save up and go on a road trip around America including DISNEY! 

9. In 10 years time... I'd like to carry on blogging and vlogging, documenting my life in a similar style to The Michalaks, so I can savour those memories forever

10. In 10 years time... I want to be happy and healthy as well as my loved ones! 

What would you like to do in 10 years time? 
Let me know in the comments below... 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Things People Do Not Understand About Uni

In October 2016, I wrote this post all about 'Some Misconceptions About Uni' and the feedback I received was breathtaking! I wrote that at the beginning of my second year of uni when I was so fed up and angry of people assuming that all students are lazy and useless. 8 months on I have finished my second year and achieved another 1st overall. How do you think I've achieved that? Definitely not by sitting around and doing nothing... so why do some people think Uni is all fun and games? 

1. Just because you're studying a degree about a subject you enjoy, it doesn't always mean it is going to be fun and easy

I study advertising and marketing communications, so you could say I am passionate about it considering I have my own blog/brand, but this definitely does not mean I throughly enjoy it. Now, I am only speaking for myself and my own experiences so this might not be the same for everyone but I HATE it when people say that my uni work must be easy because it is something I'm passionate about. Yes, I am passionate about it but after writing 40,000+ words of reports/essays and 14+ presentations and 6 hours worth of exams later, I don't exactly feel tip top about the subject. 

One thing I hate about my degree is the fact people think it is just 'advertising' and 'marketing'... I think I've done about 4 weeks of advertising and marketing in my whole degree. It includes so much more, you wouldn't even believe. 

2. Living at home doesn't make your uni life much easier than living in halls

Yes, living at home may take the pressure off slightly but I still have full right to feel just as stressed and lonely as people do in halls. When I first started uni, it felt like I had been chucked into the deep end and someone (who lives at uni) said that I was not allowed to feel like that because I still live at home. No one has the right to tell others how they should feel. 

It is nice to live at home because it saves the hassle of moving your whole life backwards and forwards and I'm still around friends and family, but that's about it. There are many downsides to living at home. I don't have that 'uni experience' like others do, it wasn't easy for me to go to freshers events which is why I didn't go (and because of other reasons), it was more difficult to make friends because you're not around them 24/7. So living at home certainly does not make it easier.

3. You get lots of time off even when you're at uni

Yes, I only go to uni 3 days a week but this does not mean I stop as soon as I get home. When I am at uni I'm in lectures, in my breaks I'll be doing group work and when I get home I'll carry on with my individual work. Even when I gave myself time to 'relax' I couldn't fully relax because I felt guilty that I wasn't doing any work.

We do get 4 months off for the summer and it is so nice to have a break but at the same time, I feel like I'm going crazy because I have no purpose. I'm trying to keep myself busy but ironically my mental health is worse during the summer, as I have time to sit and think and my mind is no longer occupied. 

So if you're not at uni and you tell a uni student that they've got it easy, think again! If you haven't gone to uni yourself, then you have no right to say how a uni student should be feeling or how they should live their life! 

Do you feel the same way as me?
Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

4 Things I've Learnt After 4 years of Blogging

It's 4 years this year since little 16 year old Sophie started Petals of Perfection. I had no idea I'd be blogging for this long and I definitely did not expect to gain so much from it! Life goes by so quickly and we often get caught up in it all but I am so glad that I have managed to document at least these 4 years of my life, especially considering how much has changed in those 4 years! 

So what have I learnt...

1. 'Internet friends' can be so much more supportive than 'real life friends'

Since I've been blogging only a small handful of my 'real life' friends have supported me, many others have told me that I won't get anywhere with it. Let's just say, those 'friends' are no longer in my life thank god and I feel so much better for it! Since blogging I have met so many amazing people and even been lucky enough to meet up with some! The blogging community can sometimes be a bit like its own Mean Girls film but there is still a lot of support around! I met Macey (Hey if you're reading this) on Twitter in March 2015, as she was a reader of my blog. We are now best friends, even though she lives in America, we are still able to talk to each other every day thanks to Snapchat! 

I have also met the love of my life *ALL THE CHEESE* on Twitter. When I first knew of Rich... I think it was around this time last year, I never even imagined to be where we are now! I remember looking at his profile picture where he was wearing that pink shirt (which will forever be my favourite on him) and thinking that he looked like a nice and genuine person (also not bad looking)! We happened to be in the same group chat but never really spoke on there, until one day he slid into my DMs... and the rest is history ;) (Love you too Richardo) 

2. Life isn't all about marble backgrounds, cacti, fairy lights and PR samples

Petals of Perfection began as a beauty blog, as I was inspired by the likes of Louise Pentland, Rhiannon Ashlee and many other amazing bloggers and vloggers! Then suddenly the beauty blogger bandwagon started moving. Everyone and anyone was doing it. This was obviously a great thing as this meant I was able to easily make friends online with similar interests to me. Since then, I've slightly fallen out of love with beauty blogging. I will still occasionally do it here and there but I definitely prefer to make videos on my YouTube about beauty! 

My blog has somehow become like a journal to me, I feel like Holly in The Perfect Man (One of the BEST films ever). I use this little corner on the internet to talk about my emotions, my life updates and my opinions on certain topics. I'm loving my blog more than ever at the moment because it feels completely unique! I think I've just grown up and realised that not every blog post needs to have a marble background in it or some kind of PR sample that I am reviewing (Not that there is a problem with that). I feel like I have completely stripped back and opened my heart to the world and it is so therapeutic for me to be able to just say how I feel and upload it to the world. 

3. It's ok to be me!

Social media and the blogging world opens our eyes to some ideologies that seem too far to reach. When I first started blogging at the age of 16 years old, I was a vulnerable teenager who was trying to find who she was and to begin to grow up. I remember looking at other bloggers and vloggers and thinking "Why can't I be them? Why haven't I got their body or their life?". I tried to change myself to fit these ideologies, to fit in with the blogging world! Since then, I have realised that what we see online might not be what is going on behind closed doors. It is an edited and cut down version of people and their lives, almost too unrealistic that they lose some of who they are as a person. We as humans naturally want to fit in and we will do and say whatever we can to be part of a group. Through my 'blogging journey' so far I felt myself trying to slip into these ideologies. It's not until recently that I have accepted that it is ok to be me, it's ok to talk about my life on my blog even though it doesn't fit into the ideologies. 

4. Blogging isn't all fun and games

When I first started a blog I did it purely for a hobby, something to do when I haven't got anymore homework to do. After about a year of blogging companies started to approach me and ask if I wanted to collaborate with them. Of course I did not turn them down (minus a few who I did turn down because they did not suit my blog) however, this began to happen on a regular basis. I'm not quite sure why or how as I did not have a massive following, but I guess as soon as one company wanted to work with me other companies followed. 

I remember in my 2nd year of blogging I'd have to turn down 90% of collaborations as it was all too much for me. I didn't want to blog for the 'exposure' of the PR samples, I wanted to blog for me. I'm not saying I'm ungrateful for the companies who have approached me in the past, I am so so grateful and it's brought me so many opportunities but it got to a point where my blog wasn't a hobby anymore and I felt pressured to write content. Last summer I had quite a few posts and videos planned with companies and I tried so hard to get them all completed but in the end I had to turn some of them down. I remember sitting at my desk for up to 14 hours a day, non-stop blogging and editing videos for companies. I enjoyed it but there were definitely a few tears. This has made me realise that I need to blog for me, if I get approached by companies and I feel that it suits my blog then of course I will accept, but I'm not going to make the same mistake and turn blogging into a chore.

What have you learnt since starting your blog?
Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 12 June 2017

An Extra Limb

Before I start this post I'd just like to let you know that I'll be blogging every day this week, so make sure you're following me on Twitter (@PetalsofPerfect) to keep updated of when I upload! 
When did my phone become an extra limb? When was it when I knew I couldn't go a day without it? 
When I was younger we did not have high-tech flashy touchscreen phones, we just about had a Nokia 'brick phone' which had the odd game of snake on it and you could only call and text. We then moved on to more advanced phones that had a flip screen or a side keyboard. I remember having my first ever phone in year 6 (I think) so when I was around 9/10 years old. I used it purely for calling my grandparents or parents to let them know I'm walking home from school. I think I rarely texted on it or used it when I was at home, but it made me feel like I had some kind of freedom and responsibility. 

Fast forward 10 years and here we are now. I'm 20 years old, with an iphone 6 and I would do anything to rewind back 10 years ago. Phones have developed so quickly and it is amazing how we all just naturally adapt to them. They have become part of our lives, we can't go anywhere without them. When I was younger, I'd leave my phone in my room all day and not even give it a second thought, I didn't need it by my side constantly or even switched on for that matter, so why now has it become an extra limb? I can't even go downstairs without taking it with me incase I get a text, call, Snapchat, tweet, Facebook notification or message. Why does this suddenly matter to me? Why do I NEED to open that Snapchat straight away? The time between my Nokia 6111 and my iphone 6 is so blurred, I don't quite know when my phone became a limb. I could be wrong but I think in 2008 apps became a thing and that's when we were able to access the likes of Twitter and Facebook on our phones. I think this is where it all changed for me.

I've become so sucked into the social media digital world to the point I have forgotten what the real world is actually like. Of course social media had given me so many opportunities with blogging, meeting friends online and of course meeting Rich on Twitter, but sometimes I wish it didn't exist and I know I'm not alone in this. I spend every breathing second of everyday on social media, switching from app to app for no purpose or reason at all, I'll do it sometimes without even realising. Rich and I are both guilty of spending more time on our phones than actually spending time together. We've now both realised this and hopefully we can make changes.

A couple of weeks ago I took a break from social media, I deleted all of the apps on my phone for a day (I know it doesn't sound like a long time but believe me, it helped) and I found myself to be checking my phone for notifications or going on my phone to click on the Twitter app but it wasn't there. It scared me to think that my mind and body just naturally does this now, I automatically go on to my phone and click on all the possible social media apps, even when I know they're not there. 

After a day or two I began to look at my phone less and actually do things with my life. I found I had more time to watch TV, blog, go out and actually enjoy time with friends. After a couple of days I reinstalled the apps on my phone and I was actually surprised at how little I went on them. So after just a day or two of not having the apps on my phone I noticed a massive difference, it felt like a massive detox that was well and truly needed. I invest too much of my time on social media and I can see how much it has affected my mood. My timeline will be filled with so much negativity, which I understand is normal as not everyone can be happy all the time, but I noticed how negative it made me feel. I thought to myself, "I don't need to be reading all of this" ... yes, it's nice to be updated and feel in the loop, but not checking my phone for a day or even just an hour, won't be the end of my life. I can live without it and I need to remember that. 

I strongly urge all of you to delete your social media apps for at least a day and see if you can notice a difference like I did, see if it affects your mood in any way. You'll be surprised at how much time you spend on your phone and how often you go to check your social media. 

Do you feel like you've gained an extra limb? Do you find yourself feeling lost without your phone?
Let me know in the comments below your thoughts on this and whether you feel the same!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Size Does Not Matter

When did it become the norm to wear makeup or to be particular size and shape? 

We're told from a young age not to wear makeup to school and what we should be wearing. My school was so bad for this, in sixth form we were not allowed to wear a certain type of material, to the point where teachers would literally chase students around the school to 'punish' them for wearing the material. Why should this matter? Why from a young age are we told how to dress and act to fit in with society? 

Recently, I have seen a few tweets flying around about H&M and their sizing. It looks like we have all been affected by this, me included. I dread going into H&M knowing I'm around a size 12 but having to go into their stores and pick up sizes 14-20 just to find that even then, I don't even fit into them. Rich and I went into there a few weeks ago because I needed some new jeans. He asked me what size I needed so that he could help me look, to which I replied "Most likely a 14+". Let's just say he was shocked to learn that this was my size in H&M. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with being a size 14+, every one is different and we should embrace that! However, when I went into the dressing room to try on a range of sizes from 12-20, I could barely get my foot into a size 20.

Being someone who has struggled with their confidence since a young age, I found this shopping nightmare experience difficult and disheartening. I literally walked out crying. Shopping is supposed to be leisurely and fun, not scary and soul crushing. Then I saw another tweet which opened my eyes and made me realise that I shouldn't be disheartened when I have to buy a larger size. I can't for the life of me remember who tweeted this but it was along the lines of; 

"Sizes were used in clothing to help make your shopping experience easier. The sizes do not determine what you should or shouldn't wear". 

I fail to remember this! When I go shopping I tend to walk past shops like H&M, TopShop and Zara because I know/I have made myself believe over the years that their clothing is not tailored to my body shape and size. So when I went shopping yesterday, I went into H&M as I had a £50 gift card to spend in there and as soon as I walked through the doors my heart filled with dread. But then I remembered that tweet and I thought to myself "No. I don't care what size I need to pick up. I'm going to get whatever I want and feel confident and happy in it, despite the size on the tag". I ended up walking out with a range of sizes from medium to large and a size 14. When I actually wear these clothes, no body is going to be able to see the size on the tag, so why does it matter so much to us? Why do we let society brainwash us into thinking we need to look and be a certain way? 

So, the moral of this post... SIZE DOES NOT MATTER!

Be you and don't let anyone tell you what you should be picking up in the shop! 

Have you struggled with this? Is H&M your worst enemy? Do you have any advice on how to feel more body confident when shopping for clothes?

Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

All the Celebrations

It's been a few weeks since I last blogged so I thought I'd do a little update post! 

So many celebrations have been had, many glasses have been 'cheersed' and a lot of cake has been eaten! On the 19th of May I turned 20 years old, I'm not quite sure how my twenties crept up so quickly but here I am! In my 20 years of life I have achieved a lot; primary school, secondary school, GCSEs, ALevels, two years of university, being highly commended in the Beauty Blogger Awards 2016 and much, much more! 

Looking back on my 20 years of life makes me realise how much I have experienced and achieved. We tend to ignore the little accomplishments after a while. Completing GCSEs and ALevels is just considered the norm but when I look back on it I am so proud of myself for pushing through those stressful times in my life and achieving the grades needed for university. It shouldn't be forgotten because it is considered the norm, we need to start celebrating all the accomplishments, big and small! 

I can now say that after another extremely stressful year at university, after all the hard work and revision, I've finished on another 1st class degree achieving a 1st in both exams. I really didn't have much hope for myself this year and I continuously doubted myself but... here I am, my second year of university finished with yet another 1st at the end of the year! 

Following on from this, I am also pleased to announce that I am now part of the editorial team at Student Minds as a sub-editor. This role will be for a year starting in June 2017 and ending in June 2018. I'm so excited to get fully invested in the charity and help raise awareness of mental health issues in students, as this is something that also affects me. 

My sister Hannah and I will also be participating in the Race for Life 5k Mud Race in October and we are already over halfway to raising our target amount! If you would like to read more about this, then head over to this blog post! 

I will also be uploading more on my blog and YouTube so keep your eyes peeled and make sure you subscribe here!

Thank you for all of your continued support and love! 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Going in Slow Motion

Recently I have been feeling a bit lost, a bit distant and out of touch from the world. So many things are happening all at once. So many changes. I don't know how to feel about it all and how to keep up with it. It feels like the world is carrying on around me at lightening speed and I'm going in slow motion. I've got my exams at the end of this week and next week and I have been cramming in as much revision as I physically can. But what am I going to do after that? I've my birthday and my sister's to look forward to and a holiday but that is about it!

I've got this sudden fear that I'm actually going to have time by myself to think (overthink) about everything. Last summer was tough... I had just finished a stressful year at uni, my ex dumped me and I had little to no friends. If it wasn't for Nicole and Katie (And Jack) I would have had one of the worst summers ever! I pretty much spent 4 months home alone, trying to find things to do during the day but had zero motivation to actually do them. 

I'd spend hours in bed just staring at the ceiling, thinking about life, endlessly scrolling through Twitter and Facebook until my fingers cramped up. Crying over my break up, feeling miserable day in and day out. I spent hours exercising (literally 2/3 hours on my exercise bike non-stop) just to fill the day up and to keep my mind active, so I didn't overthink every little detail and put myself in a bad mood. 

I know a lot of students feel like this, especially once they graduate and they are left to fend for themselves. I am dreading that feeling and I am praying that I'll be able to find a job as soon as possible. I guess I get the same sort of feelings as graduates do. I long for a break, uni is so intense and there is always something going on. But when you have time to actually stop and think and to have a bit of 'me' time, it isn't always a good thing. You're so alone in your own thoughts and you don't know what to do with yourself. I know my sister felt like this as well throughout uni and when she graduated, so I know it is all normal, but it still doesn't make it easy. 

A lot of people say to me "Enjoy your summer, you finally have a break and nothing to worry about" but the thing is, I can't fully enjoy it. Yes, it is nice to not have any guilt for chilling on the sofa and watching a film but at the same time, your mind is so used to being active and on the go 24/7, that your whole body just crashes. Like a deflating ballon, slowly shrivelling up and losing all motivation (air) to go through another day of being home alone. This year I have been actively looking for work experience/Internships to fill up some time and to gain some experience and possibly earn money, so I am hoping that I get something. However, I still need a break... I am really struggling to find the balance. 

Last year was tough and the lonely days got the better of me, to the point where one day I just broke down and told my parents I needed to see the doctor about my mental health. I was so consumed by own thoughts that I just wanted to speak to someone different. Which brings me on to talking about how important Mental Health Awareness Week is. From today (8th May) until the 14th May, it is Mental Health Awareness Week. A week of spreading awareness, supporting each other, opening up to loved ones or someone you trust. Share your story and help other people to share theirs. Don't let your thoughts consume you like mine did. Make this your week to open up and get help, or to just talk to a friend and feel less alone. 

You're brave, you're not alone, you can beat this!
Speak up and get help!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Unwelcome in the Blogging World

I feel like I have no place in the blogging or online 'world' anymore. I can't post content 24/7 like some other people are able to do and because of this, I feel forgotten about. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. When I tweeted how I felt, I got so many replies from people saying they could relate, that it was exactly the same as their own experience. Blogging/Twitter has evolved dramatically over the past 4 years since I started my blog and I'm not saying this is a bad thing, change is good and it is needed, however I feel like I've got lost along the way.

I feel like if you're not part of a clique, or not participating in the crazy (ridiculous) amounts of blog chats that are happening, you are invisible. You can't argue, there are cliques! This naturally happens in any environment so I'm not saying it's restricted to blogging/mental health etc but I do feel unwanted whenever I speak my mind online. This is very apparent in the 'mental health community'. I've bitten my tongue for too long now and I just feel like this needs to be said. I know it is a very touchy subject so I'm only going to talk about my experience as an individual.

I feel like I am not relevant in the MH community; I don't tweet about every panic attack I have or every exposure I do on a daily basis purely because 1) I don't feel I need to (it is completely fine if you feel you need/want to) and 2) Do people really care? My whole timeline would be filled with me saying "Yep, just had my 5th panic attack of the week".

I'm not in any way saying it's wrong for people to speak out when they're struggling and it is SO important for us to talk about mental health, but the reason why it is affecting me is because if I was to join in a mental health blog chat/meet up, I feel like I am not welcome. Because I don't openly express about my struggles online, people don't actually realise how bad I am/can be. No matter how many times someone says "You are welcome, you are part of the community" I just don't feel like I am.

I've seen the 'dark side' to blogging. Yes, it is not all white marble backgrounds, rose gold objects, cacti and Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks, I am fully aware of that and I'm not naive to think that it is. But when will people see what some people are really like? I've mentioned this in one of my recent posts but once again I can't keep looking at my Twitter timeline and seeing others gushing over people who have used and manipulated me in the past. Fair enough they might treat others differently but to me they are hiding behind a kind and caring persona. I know some other girls who have been affected by this as well so I know I'm not alone in this, which makes me feel physically sick to say. Being told that you're the only person someone has and you're the only one that keeps them fighting on, to then find out that you are one of many girls who 'helps' this person, just fills you with so much disgust.

All I want to do is help and care for people but this has been used and tarnished and I now know that not everyone is the same as how they present themselves online (obvious, right?!). People who have also been used in this way have explained how they feel behind closed doors, however, they haven't expressed it in the open like I have and still continue to gush over this person. I'm not sure but to me, that just seems like they are still naive and haven't truly convinced themselves that some people are not true friends. What confuses me the most is that it is so blatantly obvious that this is happening but no one seems to care.

It has been so damaging for me to trust someone with my feelings to then have it chucked back in my face for their own benefit. I am seeing tweets constantly about how much they are struggling and naturally people are replying with supportive messages (which does reassure me that there are nice people out there), but seeing these tweets and knowing deep down that this person is either making it all up or is emphasising on a tiny detail just to fit into a community, makes me so angry.

I know I've completely rambled and gone off of my point but I just need to let it all out now. I can't keep bottling it all up. Moving on to the main point; I feel I've been forgotten about. I knew it would happen one day and people can't make me think differently. When I started blogging I was a beauty blogger, I had my niche and I rolled with it. I connected with so many lovely people and made so many friends, some of which are still my friends today. But since changing to more of a lifestyle/MH blogger I have suddenly been left out of the loop.

I feel like if you're not blogging about the latest beauty must haves or the next thing in fashion, you are not part of the community. I put my heart and soul into my posts and get very little back and then there are some people who can write five lines of a blog post and suddenly they are the next best thing. I know it is not a competition and I am blogging for me and no one else but I'm only human, I will question why I'm not as good as others. I will question what I am doing differently to others, I can't help it. I just feel like I am wasting my time and I know many others who feel like this.

When I mentioned this on Twitter I was overwhelmed by the response. It's ironic that when I tweet about feeling forgotten, I get lots of replies! But that just sums it up. We are all feeling like this, but why? Some said they feel that because they don't run a beauty or a fashion blog, they have no where to fit in with the blogging world. This is exactly it! Blogging has changed from expressing how we feel, to just posting relatable content to gain exposure rapidly, hence why so many people are jumping on the blogging bandwagon thinking it is all fun and games. Others said they just feel like it's them and their blog and then everyone else. It is so hard to join in with blog chats because where you're not part of them weekly, you don't become part of the clique (using this word lightly) and it's basically like talking to a brick wall.

Tams on Twitter summed it up perfectly: "As much as everyone says 'You're welcome and wanted here' I call BS on it. I don't post regularly therefore I am not wanted." - @peachesandbear

I don't know what else I have to say really. I just feel very lost and numb, unwanted and kicked to the curb. I can't help that I feel like this and no one can make me feel differently. I guess I'll just have to keep plodding on.

Do you feel like this? What's your view on this subject?
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
Thank you for all of the support!