The Danger Of High Expectations.

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We spend a lot of time waiting for things from other people.We’re told from a very young age that we should treat others in the same way that we expect to be treated but sometimes, despite your best efforts with someone, you get nothing in return. In this situation, some people walk away and never look back. Then there are the people that don’t give up, that carry on trying with people because they want to believe that everyone has the same heart as them, I fall into this category.

I know that I’m a nice person, I’m kind, caring and thoughtful. I’m empathetic towards everyone around me and unfortunately, this leaves me open to getting hurt. The biggest problem with being a highly sensitive person is sometimes you give so much to others, that you neglect to take care of yourself. However, I’m learning that even my heart has a limit and I have reached a point where I have to let go.

The image in my mind of how I think certain relationships in my life should be and how my family should look was leaving me emotionally empty. I was going down a path that had no end, searching for a picture-perfect life that wasn’t there. Now, I feel like I am finally at a pinnacle of acceptance. I’m moving on from the childlike family portrait idea that clouded my judgement for so long. Sometimes families fall apart, sometimes it’s people that are in no relation to you that become your family and they show you that blood is not thicker than water after all. Relationships can change over time and not always for the better.

I now know that having high expectations of other people only leads to disappointment. The only expectations I should really have in my life are those of myself. I am the creator of my own life and I should work on improving myself as a person, instead of hoping that those around me fit into a mould of unrealistic expectations. I can’t change another person, no matter how hard I try. We are who we are. We can only change ourselves. Some of us learn from our mistakes but many of us never do.

I’ve learned to accept that I will never have the relationship I wish to have with some members of my family. I’ve realised that I should focus on the good relationships I already have. My life may look a little different to what I originally imagined but there is no reason why I can’t embrace this and be happy.

 

 

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Why I Had A Facebook Detox And Why You Should Too

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So after deliberating about it for a while, I decided to go cold turkey and delete my Facebook app on my phone. I was tired of the EU referendum related statuses and I knew it was definitely time to take a break from social media. I logged out on my computer and removed Facebook from my bookmarks, I deleted the app on my phone, excluding messenger and decided that I wouldn’t go on it for a week. I also didn’t go on Twitter or Instagram but I rarely use those on a day to day basis.

It wasn’t easy. On the second day of my detox, I decided to log in on my phone to take a quick look at the oh so familiar blue news feed of pictures and statuses. It took me a moment to realise what I was doing and I quickly logged out, feeling rather stupid. I never truly knew how addicted I was to Facebook until this detox week. It feels like a compulsive need, I must see what everyone is up to and it’s an unhealthy habit that has to stop.

Sometimes we have to take a step back to realise the mistakes we are making. My mistake was letting social media have a certain amount of control on my life. I had many moments when I was out with friends or having a nice meal when my first thought was ‘I have to make a status about this…’ I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks like this and it just proves how much space social media fills up in our lives.

I’m not saying I’m going to delete Facebook any time soon because I rely on it for my magazine Zest For Life and I use it to chat to my friends that I don’t see every day. Facebook has many great qualities but there is also a dark side to it and I definitely entered it on many occasions. I was scrolling down my news feed when I got up in the morning, and it didn’t take long for me to feel bitter or jealous about the people who were always going on holiday, buying houses, having families and getting their dream jobs when I was sat at home, unemployed, broke and feeling hopeless about my future.

There have already been many studies linking Facebook and other social media sites to depression and it definitely doesn’t surprise me. Looking down at our phones constantly is unhealthy and dangerous for our overall happiness and wellbeing. I always knew that but often ignored it because I assured myself that it’s just the way of life now and everyone does it.

Maybe I’ve finally reached a place in my mind where I don’t want to be like everyone else? I will use social media for its advantages but now I know I can actually log out and unplug for a while, it has definitely changed my attitude towards it and if you ever want to feel refreshed, I recommend that you also unplug and just be in the present moment for a while. Sometimes you have to disconnect to reconnect with yourself and those around you. I’ll definitely be doing a social media detox again at some point and maybe next time, I will log out for longer.

 

 

Colour Me Calm: The Adult Colouring Book Craze

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We all remember the joy that colouring books brought to us when we were small, our parents would give us a colouring book and some crayons and we would stay quiet for hours, focusing on staying in the lines, with our tongues sticking out and wrinkles on our forehead.

Unfortunately, as we turn into adults we close the doors on our childhood, we forget everything we used to enjoy and focus on making a living, worrying about money and what we think we should be doing with our lives. We tell ourselves that everything we did when we were children should be left in the past and we should just be adults, responsible adults who have lots of important decisions to make.

I’ve always loved colouring, as a child I would entertain myself for hours, scribbling and drawing and using felt tips to colour in blank silhouettes of cartoon characters and princesses. This is why I stopped. There were no colouring books suitable for adults, until now. It might be the latest craze that will fade into obscurity in a few months time but I think it’s an excellent idea to get adults in touch with their inner child. Instead of getting caught up in the anxieties of modern life, why not sit down, switch off your brain for a little while and colour? Brilliant.

Studies have shown that colouring is a great way to relax and turn off the world. We’re so animated all of the time, whether it is scrolling down our Facebook news feeds to see what our friends are up to, working in a busy office nine hours a day or travelling on trains and buses, we find it difficult to just stop and focus on one thing. Psychologists say that colouring stimulates areas of the brain that are related to motor skills, the senses and creativity and when we enter that creative state of mind, naturally our worries melt away, it’s the perfect relaxation technique.

Some adults will shake their heads in dismay at grown-ups sitting down with a box of crayons and a book of patterns to colour in on a Friday night but if it transports them to a place where they feel calmer, happier, even nostalgic then what’s the harm? I have always found colouring to be therapeutic and since buying my ‘adult’ colouring book, I have found a new hobby that enhances my creativity, makes me feel calmer and keeps me entertained when boredom hits. The first day I opened my new colouring book, I left my laptop screen and coloured for nearly three hours. I think that’s the longest I have been away from a screen for a while.

If you feel like you need an escape from your every day life and want to reconnect with your childhood innocence then pick up an adult colouring book from your local book shop, try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Waiting & Wishing

I’m always wishing for something or thinking about something I want. I know that I should appreciate what I already have but sometimes, I find myself stuck in an endless cycle of negativity and hopelessness. I’m tired of struggling. I just want everything to happen. Right now. I don’t want to wait any longer. I’m still waiting for the day that changes everything.

Why is it so difficult to see what is right in front of me? What is this selfish need that all humans have to always want more? I feel like I have fallen into the same trap that everybody else falls into. I have it imprinted in my mind that the only way I am ever going to live a happy life is to get everything I want. But I know deep down that none of it really matters.

I have a long mental list of things that I want to complete, I want to have lots of money and own expensive possessions, get my a dream job, be able to travel the world and possibly have a family of my own one day. But do I really want all of that? More importantly, do I really need all of that? Or is society’s influence so strong that I don’t know the difference between what I really want and who I want to be and what society expects of me?

Dreaming is an important part of living. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better life and wishing for good things to happen but when they start to control your overall happiness, it becomes a big problem. And it’s starting to become a big problem for me. I’m only twenty one years old, why do I feel this pressure to achieve everything and have everything I want right now? I blame society. I blame social media. I blame the high expectations that are set by others. I also blame myself for succumbing to this toxic way of thinking. I don’t need to follow any guidelines, my life is not going to be the same as anyone else’s, I need to start believing this.

I try and switch off and embrace the day, live my life and stop worrying about the future but it’s hard. None of us know how much time we have and I think that urgency causes this need to want everything right now. I want so many things. Maybe I should start focusing on what I need? I already have everything I need. I have amazing friends, a family, a loving partner and a home. I am more privileged than most but I fail to see how lucky I am on a daily basis. I am surrounded by love, I experience happiness every day but I don’t realise it because it is clouded by the pressures of the future and everything I have yet to achieve and material possessions I have yet to own.

I need to stop thinking of happiness as a goal. Life is a journey and finding happiness is part of that journey. I’m not always going to be happy. I’m going to have days that I feel so bad about my life that I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning and that’s okay because there are plenty of days ahead of me that I will experience joy and contentment. I might not be where I want to be right now but I need to start enjoying the present and stop fretting about the future. I’m not perfect, I’m going to make lots of mistakes, I’m still young and I still have so much I need to learn about this crazy and perplexing thing we call life.

Like My Status, Like My Life

Facebook is part of our daily lives, it’s a mechanical process to scroll down our newsfeed every morning and see what our friends have been up to, but do we realise the truth behind the façade? Do we have the ability to step away from the virtual world and live entirely in the real one?

Facebook has been around for a while now and it’s no surprise that it’s the most popular social media site, it is a great way to connect with friends and family that you can’t see every day, it enables us to like pages, photographs and statuses and it can keep us entertained for hours. Conversely, there is a negative side to social media and Facebook can be psychologically damaging for many reasons, entertainment can quickly turn into and addiction.

Facebook is also a false elucidation, a prism that only shows the sides of our life that we wish to share with the rest of the world. Unconsciously, we build a fictional wall, on Facebook we show the person we so badly want to be but behind the wall, a flawed person stands with many insecurities about how imperfect their life actually is.

It’s human nature to want attention, we crave it and not everyone will admit it out loud but we all want to be liked. Facebook is a platform for this. People, wait for their friends, family members and even strangers to like the events that have happened in their lives. When somebody likes our photograph or status, we get instant satisfaction. Liking a status means that somebody else, whoever that may be likes you and in that moment, that is all that matters.

Delusion is a side effect of being on Facebook. There is an unhealthy gap between reality and the online persona that we create online. We might share our engagements, the birth of our children and our new jobs on Facebook but we don’t share our deepest thoughts and feelings, we keep all the important thoughts to ourselves. There is nothing genuine about our online selves, seeing picture perfect profiles doesn’t only create bad self-esteem but can bring other negative emotions to the surface, such as jealousy, resentment and general unhappiness with our own lives.

It’s almost too easy to manipulate others and pretend to be someone that we’re not. Facebook has many advantages but its biggest disadvantage is its ability to blur the lines between fantasy and reality. Social media sites are slowly killing society, the current generation and the ones that follow will no longer know how to communicate and this is worrying to say the least. Facebook and other social media sites have substituted our need for real conversation. I’ve seen it happen, people looking down at their screens at a party because they have no social skills and no awareness of those around them.

How many Facebook friends do you have? Two hundred, three hundred maybe? The important question to ask yourself is how much do you really know about them? You might know their job status and that they have been in an on and off relationship for four years but does it go deeper than that? Do you know their biggest fears? Do you know that they bite their nails when they’re nervous or that they are unhappy with their lives? Facebook creates an illusion that you know lots of people but do you know the real person behind the online façade?

The only way to free ourselves from the grasp that Facebook has is to realise that it isn’t real and it is okay to not be liked by everyone. Facebook can be a great way to connect but don’t forget to connect with real people and live in the present moment. I too am guilty of letting Facebook turn into my whole world when really it should only be a fraction of it.

I know that Facebook is just an illusion and if people want to get to know the real me, then they should look away from my Facebook profile as it only illustrates the highlights that I choose to reveal. Facebook is a great way to document snapshots of your life but as long as you step away from the screen and see the rest of the world around you, well, I guess it won’t do you any harm in small doses. Just remember that life is happening right now, so look up from your smartphone and enjoy it.

Lost At Sea

I feel like I’m lost at sea and I am barely keeping my head above the water. I kick my legs to stay alive and I can see the sun on the horizon but no matter how hard I try to swim towards it, the waves take me in a different direction. Some days, I feel the warm sun on my face and I believe that I will make it, to where I want to be and other days I feel like I can no longer stay afloat.

Clear blue water, I can see everything around me, the past, the present and the future and the images blur in my mind. I try to look forward, to stay in the moment and forget the past. Why does it feel so difficult to think of it all? My legs are tired and my heart is beating quickly in my chest. What’s the point of all of this? I try and nothing happens. I want to swim straight. I know where I am going but I don’t know how to get there. The waves are taking me away from the control I thought I had. The sun is disappearing and soon it will be just me and the night sky.

When the sky is dark, my feelings are too. Everywhere I turn I see nothing but black water, it swallows me up and I feel so small and insignificant. The moon is high in the sky, it seems so far away. I know that there are people in the world struggling to survive and I should feel happy that there is breath in my body and life in my eyes but sometimes I lose that spark, I lose my light and I give into the temptation of negativity. Wouldn’t it just be easier to not care? To bob along in the waves of life and see where the wind takes me? Why can’t I be free from restrictions? Why can’t I close my eyes, picture a place and be there? The answer is simple. Life is unpredictable like the sea, the waves can pull me in various directions but as long as I keep looking at the horizon, I will be okay.

The waves carry me into morning and the light from the sun gives me hope again, I smile, all I can do is hope that the day will bring me some happiness.

The F Word

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Future. It’s a word that has been circling around my mind a little bit too much recently. My future seemed so far away a couple of months ago, as I sat behind a desk at university, I had it all figured out in my head. I felt optimistic that everything would work out and somebody would give me a job. Well it hasn’t happened yet. I just sit at home all day fantasizing about the life that I will have once someone takes a chance on me and I am earning some real money. It’s frustrating and I’m not the only one who feels this way.

A few weeks ago I applied for a job that I really wanted and I knew that I would be perfect for it. I aced all parts of the job application and interview and I had my fingers and toes crossed tightly for an email telling me that I had the job. Of course life never works out the way you want it to. I didn’t receive an email, a few days later after I contacted them, I found out why I didn’t get it. It wasn’t me they said. It’s another person. They had more experience than me. What?!

It was a junior position that I was applying for. Surely that meant you didn’t need any experience, it was a position to put you on the career ladder. An entry level position made for graduates such as me. I was angry at first because I knew that I was so close to getting the dream job and I knew that I would have to go back to job hunting and sitting at home bored. I am grateful for the many casual writing jobs I have done over the past two years, they have given me great experience and they look wonderful in my ever-growing portfolio but I need a full time position.

I have just graduated university and I should be feeling happy and I do, but this is the first time in my life that I feel really stuck. I’m waiting around for life to happen to me and I have no control over what happens next. I know people tell you that there is more to life than money or a career and you should enjoy the present moment but let’s be realistic here. I need money to pay for things, go out and enjoy myself and I can’t do any of that if no one gives me a job. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs since I finished my classes in April and the one job that I wanted I didn’t get. I honestly feel like giving up some days. Why is it so hard to get going?

I fear the future because I have high expectations on what I want my life to be. I’m not the sort of person who will settle for something because I have no other choice. Although I feel frustrated and fed up about the career part of my life, I know that I will find something. Maybe life has a different plan for me? I might want to be a copywriter but the universe might be telling me otherwise. I have to try and put a positive spin on my position because if I don’t, I will only feel sadness and life is too short to feel that way.

The future feels daunting sometimes and although the uncertainty of it takes me outside my comfort zone, I know that the future will be bright, no matter what happens. Sometimes you have to give yourself a little pep talk. Try to be positive and keep your chin up. I’m trying my best to appreciate the present moments instead of worrying about the future. To do that though I may have to switch my brain off, wish me luck!

Shoot For The Moon. Even If You Miss, You’ll Land Among The Stars

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Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss… you will land among the stars – Les Brown

I have always had a love-hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. I dislike resolutions of the generic kind, such as – I will lose x amount of weight, I will stop eating unhealthily and I will quit smoking. These are the types of resolutions that are most likely to fail. I have to admit that I have made similar resolutions in the past and they have always failed. This year I have decided to make a different kind of resolution, call it a different way of thinking if you will. I no longer want to waste my time. I need to start saying yes to more things that I want to do. I make far too many excuses and I am tiring of these ‘phases’ that I seem to be accustomed to recently. So my goal for 2014 is to change my way of thinking. No more laziness, if I want something I need to work hard to achieve it.

I have always been too ambitious with my goals and this year will be no different.  I am going to achieve my goals. Some of them are unrealistic but quite a few of them are possible to achieve. I would love to say at the end of 2o14 that I am a published writer. I doubt my young adult novel will be ready for publication in one year’s time but if I can publish a short story in a magazine or self-publish one of my poetry collections, I will be a very happy writer. 2014 is the year of writing, the year that I will finish my university course, the year that I will find a job and start my career in the writing industry.

2013 has been a hard year. But everything I have been through has made me a stronger person. I have an amazing group of friends at university, I am in a loving relationship with my best friend, my family may never be the same again, now that my parents are no longer together, but a sense of normality will develop as time progresses. I am very lucky and every day I try to remind myself of this. I think it is important to take a few moments, maybe at the end of the day before you go to sleep, to just reflect on everything that you are grateful for.

I no longer want to write empty words. I want to believe that I can achieve my goals in 2014. Life is so incredible short and I don’t want to wait around for my life to start. I will get a job, save my money, get an apartment with my long-term boyfriend, go on holidays together, buy a pug, publish my novel. The list is endless but I am determined to make the most of not just next year but all of the years that follow. I want to carry on with this positive state of mind, this determination, to make my way through the list that I carry close to my heart. The long list of dreams and goals that I hope to achieve in my life.  

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. – T.S. Eliot

Society Has Killed The True Meaning Of Beauty

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Society has not only changed the way we look at the world but the way that we look at ourselves. We live in a society driven by advertisements and media. From a young age we are bombarded with images of the media’s perception of beauty. We never learn the real definition of beauty. Instead we have computer generated airbrushed images forced upon us, our TV screens filled with advertisements for beauty products, they persuade us to buy makeup to cover up our natural beauty.  Our perception of beauty has been distorted by the media and it is only going to get worse. The idea of beauty will never be the same, the damage has already been done.

There are thousands of young girls out there right now, flicking through the pages of their favourite Vogue magazine, hoping and wishing to look like the girl on the cover. It’s wrong. At that age you believe that the images on the cover are the definition of perfect. I know this because I used to be one of them. I was obsessed with the idea of looking like the young celebrities that were the same age as me but were twice as beautiful, with airbrushed skin and fully made faces, I, like many other girls believed it was what they actually looked like. Obviously as I grew up and I discovered the truth but it doesn’t stop the influence that the media has had on my self esteem.

Society would probably say that I am not beautiful. They would say that my eyes were too big, my eyebrows were not perfectly shaped and I had too many curves to even consider being a model. But that’s not true. I used to believe these misconceptions about myself. I would loathe myself in the mirror, wishing I looked like the young celebrities and actresses that I admired. Now of course I have become comfortable in my own skin. Yes, my eyes are big but they are also my best feature. My eyebrows might not be perfect but I have grown to accept them and as for my curves, I like them too. It makes me feel like a woman. Being a size zero is nothing to be proud of.  I recently saw a post on my Facebook news feed of a girl showing off that she finally fit back into her size zero jeans. She was perfectly proportioned before but now, her legs look like barbie legs. It’s ridiculous. No one should be striving to be a size zero, it’s  unhealthy. Surprisingly, a large percentage of men actually say that they prefer curvier women. So eat that cookie girls, it isn’t going to make you fat.

Something that also concerns me is the way that women present themselves in today’s society. They not only believe that makeup and fake tan will make them beautiful but they believe that dressing provocatively is the only way to receive male attention. Of course sex sells and the media knows this all too well. Exposing cleavage, pouting at the camera and wearing leotards and hot pants. This is what the women of today think is sexy. It’s a sad realization that the days of women respecting themselves is officially over. What happened to the image of women such as Marilyn Monroe? A classy, curvy and attractive woman that is still admired today for her natural beauty. One of her most famous quotes states that imperfection is beauty. But why is it every woman is constantly reminded of her imperfections? How are we supposed to be powerful, confident women when all we see is negative images of what beauty is and what beauty isn’t?

I believe that everyone is beautiful. I believe that I am beautiful. That isn’t me being conceited. I believe that I am a beautiful person. I may not have the prettiest face or the smoothest skin but I have a beautiful personality. I know this now. It has took me a very long time to accept myself. But what about the women that can’t accept themselves? They fall into a downward spiral of self-loathing and low self esteem. People are surprised by the amount of young girls with eating disorders. Are you really surprised? With images of what beauty ‘should’ look like forced in their faces, how are they ever going to feel comfortable in their own skin? What little girls don’t understand is the girl on the front cover of Vogue that they admire, that has pins for legs has been edited tirelessly on photo shop after the actual shot has been taken.

I am blaming society for poisoning our minds with their toxic image of beauty. Beauty cannot be defined. Everything is beautiful. Everyone is beautiful. The colour of the sky, the way a flower blooms in the spring and the image of a rainbow – all of these things are beautiful. Everybody believes that the world is beautiful but why can we not accept that every person is beautiful too? Tall, short, fat, thin, freckles, dark skin, light skin, curvy, green eyes, blue eyes, brown eyes, ginger hair, blonde hair, black hair – everyone is beautiful. People will call you ugly but it is society that is ugly, not you. I am going to live my life believing that I am beautiful, I don’t care what anyone else thinks because life is too short to believe that you are worthless. Unfortunately, that is how society makes us feel – worthless. Society has killed the true meaning of beauty.

Taylor Swift hit the nail on the head when she said that ‘Beauty is sincerity. There are so many ways that a person can be beautiful.’ Never believe that you are not good enough. Never look in the mirror and say I hate myself, I am ugly or I am worthless – you’re not. You are beautiful. Believe this and you will live a beautiful life. We live in a society that only embraces their vision of beauty but there are many visions of beauty. Like a spectrum of colours we are all different and we all have our own identities. Don’t let society kill your definition of beauty. See the beauty in the little things, see the beauty in other people and most importantly – see the beauty in yourself.

Love

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 Love is stronger than momentary hate.

Love can do extraordinary things to a person. No one in this world is perfect, we all have our flaws and insecurities and we all have our own demons and selfish desires. But love changes you. When you fall in love you see perfection, no matter how hard you try to hate that person you just can’t. You may feel hate for a moment, you might feel angry or hurt or guilty but love soon bounces back like an elastic band. It’s like your heart is too invested in the love it feels it can no longer feel the opposite emotion.

I am a very fortunate person because I have experienced love, I am still experiencing love. It confuses me, even now. All it takes is one second, for your heart to be left open. For the right person, the right moment. You breathe in, you breathe out and you’re in love. It’s that simple. Well, that’s how it happened for me anyway but maybe love is different for everyone.

No one knows if they are ready for love, it just happens. In fairy tales and films we don’t see the darker side of love. I am not talking about the opposite emotion hate, I am talking about the other emotions that come with love. Guilt, jealousy, paranoia and fear – just to name a few. Love is something that I am fortunate to have though. Despite the downsides to falling in love and the downsides to being in a relationship, I am lucky.

A lot of people go through their entire lives searching for love, searching for that one person that makes them feel whole. Love can be dangerous because there is always that worry in the back of your mind – what if I lose that person? What if I get my heartbroken? Well, that’s just a risk you take. There are a lot of risks you have to take to accept love into your life.

Forgiveness is just another part of love, for a relationship to work you must have trust and forgiveness. If you have neither then be sure to have your heart smashed into a million little fragments because the love will definitely not last. Like a pyramid, forgiveness and trust have to support love to keep it in the air. I am a very forgiving person and I believe that everyone makes mistakes and sometimes you have to accept those flaws in a person. I love this wonderful person. He is smart, kind, funny and charming. Everything I have ever wanted and he makes me feel safe and loved.

However, I don’t like it when we fight, the heat rises, words are sharp and fists fly but that rarely ever happens. But when it does it could ruin everything that we have in an instant. I am willing to stay with the one I love because even though there are those times, where tears are shed and unforgivable actions occur – I love him. And love is stronger than the momentary hate you feel in that moment. Love is stronger than everything. If you believe with all of your heart and soul that going with your heart is the best thing – then go with your heart. I have always gone with my heart and it has only lead me down the right path – which is happiness.