21 home truths from 21

As of tuesday, I should now be feeling 22. According to Taylor Swift, that is. I hate to break it to you Tay Tay, but I may have to say nay. I hope that's okay? After all, you did go and end #Hiddleswift on my 22nd birthday... In short, 21 hasn't exactly been the year I imagined. I expected it to include a dissertation, a degree and a graduation cap. The reality? A degree deferral, a hospital admission and a crochet headband... Yes, I officially became a crazy crochet lady.

 Over the past week, my reflections on 21 have been engulfed by self-criticism. I've been dwelling on all the things that "could have been" - what I haven't done - comparing to those who have graduated and are moving on with their lives. Quite frankly, by yesterday I was feeling a bit crodsquinkled (BFG-speak for stranded-in-the-middle-of-an-ocean-with-no-lifeboat). Usually, I would leave this feeling to fester and accept it as inevitable. Nonetheless, as I talked to my new co-workers about my impending birthday, I had the idea for this post. 

21 truths that I have gained from 21; some are more silly to the serious and a few flat whites in between. Nonetheless, they all have a common feature: they matter to me. Hopefully you can resonate with a few too! 

 1. The Simple Things can brighten the rainiest of days 

I discovered The Simple Things a year ago and, since then, I've never missed an issue. My parents struck gifting gold with a year-long subscription last Christmas, so I no longer have to worry about tracking it down either!  Quite simply, it is me in a magazine. With the monthly "my day in cups of tea" and "dogs in blankets" features, not to mention poetry and mindfulness,  it will never let you down! Have you ever read The Simple Things?


 2. Hey it's OK is the unofficial narrator of life 

If you've never read this section of Glamour Magazine, grab a copy this month! From xxx to xxxx, you will find yourself screaming "oh my god this is me!" at the page. EveryTime. Some personal favourites have to be "if you're still 'not now'-ing that iPhone update from 5 weeks ago" and "to feel like you truly have your life together when your underwear matches." Not gonna lie, one of my life goals is to be featured... Hey It's OK to have ambition! 
 3. Liquid lipstick and lipliner are game-changers 

Along with half the world, I jumped onto the Lip Kit bandwagon... guilty, but no regrets; with Koko K my lips woes are healed! No longer do I look like Donald Duck when I accidentally colour half my chin; lipliner is the answer. Onto liquid lipstick, it saves you from that cakey/dry feeling and doesn't have the stickiness of lip gloss. Basically, it's the Einstein of cosmetics! Plus, if you're looking for quality that won't break the bank, simply hop on a NYX flight to Cannes and Copenhagen. Even Ryan Air can't compete with these prices... 

 4. Beauty feels better when it's cruelty-free 

Since making my cosmetics 100% bunny-friendly, I have been surprised/delighted to discover just how many great brands don't test on animals. There is a world beyond MAC and maybelline! Goodbye Velvet Teddy, hello NYX and Charlotte Tilbury. As of yesterday, I'm the proud owner of Very Victoria and it's a Rose Gold dream.
 5. A Cambridge Satchel can complete any outfit 

I've made no secret of my love for this brand, so I'll keep this short: If you're looking for the bag-equivalent of a loyal best friend, look no further than CSC. From Newport seas to FairyYale, the periwinkle push-lock was my steadfast companion in New England. Periwinkle is also my favourite word of 2016, so my inner poet is enchanted too!

 6. Pinafores and Paddington bear coats have no age limit 

They're comfy, they're cute, they're quirky and - as of 2016 - they're completely on trend. The Universe finally makes a bit more sense. With Topshop corduroy and ASOS denim, my wardrobe is now 50% pinafores. As for paddington bear, I'm talking duffle coats and fluorescent yellow; Joy have the most gorgeous coat in store right now, which may be topping my Autumn Wonderlist... Speaking of timeless classics, Tsum Tsums, Disney and Harry Potter are all up there. If Taylor truly wants a guy with staying power, she could do worse than Gus-Gus...
 7. Crafts are cool and knitting doesn't make you a granny 

Crafts are possibly my best discovery of 2016. Not only did it save my sanity during treatment, (3 months + 6 hours a day on a sofa...), but it taught me some valuable life lessons: patience, perseverance and possibility. The 3 Ps! After leaving University, I was in a bit of a "I'm crap at life" mindset. Crafts were the one thing that countered this.

If anyone has seen me throw a ball, you'll know my hand-to-eye coordination is questionable... well, by some miracle this doesn't apply to crafting! From paper cutting,crochet and knitting, to card-making, sewing and DIY camera strapsCrafts have also recaptured my love for pinterest, which is my number one destination for craftspiration. 

*Look out for my my first crochet tutorial later this month; I've been asked a few times about my dog coasters on twitter, so I finally decided to write up the pattern! Watch this space...
 8. The Peanut Butter hype is real 

For years, I've wanted to like peanut butter. Everyone else seems to love it, Americans swear by it but I simply couldn't understand it. Fast-forward 3 months and 3 rounds of PB a day, I had an awakening. Peanut Butter is heaven in a jar. It's definitely proof that you can retrain your tastebuds. 

I'll be honest, in recent weeks my relationship with peanut butter has wobbled; PB's loyalty is faultless, but my illogical head has other ideas. Nonetheless, I'm determined to reverse this travesty with a return of PB on toast snacking, or a proper dollop of peanut butter on my morning cereal/porridge. Dear rational head, there's nothing nuts about nuts!

9. A Flat White will take coffee to new heights 

Two years ago, I went from latte lover to cappuccino convert... then I discovered the Flat White! I feel the name "flat" is a bit uncalled for, as the FW will send your coffee soaring. It took my a while to understand why Flat Whites only come in one size (unless you're in America), but I actually like the fact that it isn't a goblet. It makes you savour the taste more, plus they're surprisingly strong!

Bonus Home truth 1: unless you're Mo Farah/pulling an essay all-nighter, never ask for an extra shot. 

Bones Home truth 2: never pull an essay all-nighter.

 10. Tea twins make the world a better place 

This one is just for Yasmin, a truly wonderful friend and honorary tea twin. When you find a friend who brings you flowers on your birthday, you know they're a keeper! 21 has really shown me that friendship isn't measured in numbers, but strength. Since leaving University, I have often convinced myself that it's left me completely isolated. In those moments, I remind myself of friends like Yasmin, who brightened my birthday with flowers and a tea date! 

By complete coincidence (it must be our twin telepathy) she wrote her first piece for Huffington Post this week on 21 Things that 21 taught me - if you read one blog this week (apart from mine, obviously) then make it this! 14: Answer the Goddamn Phone. I'll admit I'm still working on that one. 

 11. My heart belongs to Boston 

I strongly believe there is a City for everyone - as of last month, I've discovered mine! With bookstore cafes, hotel dogs and treescapes at every turn, it was a walking dream. Someday, I will live there. That is my new mission, so let's get those motivation shoes moving - make it happen. My Boston blogs will be going up at the end of the week, so I can celebrate this special City with you all. Prepare to fall in love... 

 12. Olympus Penny is the true Apple of my eye 

I denied this reality for a good few years - from Cambodia to Coffee art, I used my iPhone for all my photos! Moreover, the Apple iPhone has played a huge role in my love of photography today, so I am a very grateful Pink lady. Nevertheless, along came Penny and the rose-tinted apple suddenly fell from the tree... I've only been using the EPL7 for two months, but I can't imagine blogging/travelling/being without it! I've sung Penny's praises a lot in my New England posts, but I'd sing from the top of Mount Olympus if I could: the Pen is picture perfection. What are your thoughts on the EPL7?
13. Buying flowers for yourself isn't indulgent
 I started buying flowers for myself in my 3rd year of University. At first, it felt excessive and as far removed from the  student stereotypes you get. Then I realised: I'm about as far from the student stereotype as you get - no apologies! Having flowers in my bedroom was a comfort and a small act of self-care; regardless of what my head tells me, it is okay to spend money on yourself and do things to aid your wellbeing. I admit that I often lose sight of this, so i'm stating it again as a reminder. Repeat: you're allowed to spend money on yourself!

 14. Mindfulness isn't just a trend - it actually works 

It is all too easy to become dwell on the past, or become overwhelmed by future uncertainties. At first, I dismissed mindfulness as the new Kale; after encountering it a lot during treatment, however, my outlook changed. By refocusing on the present moment, you can reduce the intensity of negative thoughts.

In the past two months, my camera has been a mindfulness revelation! Nicole did a brilliant post on this, which is definitely worth a read. Photography has encouraged me to stop and take in the world around you; I spent half an hour this morning simply snapping the bumblebees and lavender in our front garden. It may seem trivial, but my waking anxieties around recovery/University were eased. Keep calm, bumble and be
15. See the woods and the trees

At the risk of sounding like the child of Katie Hopkins (last night's #TalkMH tweeters will understand), wellness can sometimes be found in a walk. Specifically, when the walk involves Leaves, Oaks, Vines and Evergreens. Yes, I'm talking about tree-al love. In fact, there's been a growing amount of research to support woodland wellbeing; some hospitals are even planting more trees outside windows, based on evidence that it improves recovery-rates. Finally, my beloved The Simple Things recently published a Why Trees Matter feature, so it's official; nature rambles are a tree-ally good place to start.

While #JustGoForAWalk isn't quite the miracle MH cure we've been waiting for - sorry baby Hopkins - the great British Countryside does have its benefits. This time last year, walking was an unhealthy coping mechanism - it was measured in steps and the surrounding landscape was a blur. Since the start of 2016, I've focused on mindful walking; slowing down to take in the scene around me. Being present. The benefits have been boundless: I'm calmer, I'm more connected to Millie, my photography is better and I've even discovered my own Grandmother-Willow - Pocahontas was definitely onto something! Good old Disney.  
 16. Monday Blues are always brightened by #TheGirlGang chat 

My favourite twitter chat - run by the ever-lovely Jemma - has featured Harry Potter, Disney, Books... need I say more? I first discovered it in May and I have rarely missed one since. Everyone is so enthusiastic and there's a genuine sense of community. If you put one twitter chat in you diary, pencil in Mondays at 6-7pm

 17. It's okay to admit you're not okay 

I've noticed a few bloggers addressing the "positivity police" in recent weeks; I'm so thankful for this.  The reality is, it's okay to have a bad day. After years of putting on a positive front, my mental health was hugely compromised and it came to a head last year. I had to hold up my hands and say "enough is enough." - I can't keep going like this. Being honest was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was possibly the most important. 

 18. Being admitted to a psychiatric hospital does not make you crazy 

If so, call me crazy! But would you call someone crazy if they were admitted for heart surgery, or diabetes complications? With a little help from Halloween costumes and cult classics like Girl Interrupted/ One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest, there is a stigma surrounding the "mental health patient". I'll admit, we did actually watch Girl Interrupted one evening during my admission, on someone's birthday... you're never too crazy to appreciate irony! 

If you need hospital treatment for a physical illness, it is not viewed with any stigma, yet hospital quite possibly saved my life; it got me to a place where I could attempt recovery on my own again, which I was simply not in a position to do last December. There is no shame in needing more support


 19. Some of the kindest people in the world have mental health struggles 

There has been a worrying trend in the media to associate atrocities with mental illness, which is only perpetuating stigma. There's also a stereotype that those with anorexia are selfish or vain. In the large majority of cases, this could not be further from the truth. Conversely, mental illnesses are dominated by self-criticism, with the individual being desperate to make others happy; they are the biggest danger to themselves. 

For all the criticism you pour on yourself, you will find a thousand wonderful qualities in those around you. By the end of my 3 months in hospital, I noticed that I was starting to recognise positive qualities in myself, largely because others continually highlighted them. They encouraged me to persevere with crafting, when I was tempted to give up. I would often arrive to the dining room and see a little note by my seat, offering words of support/ telling me that I was inspiring to others. Do those sound like the actions of a horrible/ selfish person? 
 20. OCD is not a synonym for neat-freak 

Until this year, I was guilty of believing otherwise. Misguidedly, I associated OCD with cleanliness and repetitive behaviours alone; however, in doing so I was also left in the dark about my own mental health. It was only during treatment, after the eating disorder behaviours were confronted, that I recognised how many anxieties were not tied to food. Dominated by scripts that I didn’t write. I opened up about my own experiences earlier this year and have learnt more about the illness from brilliant bloggers like Nicole and Kayleigh. Suffice to say,  it is not a Monica-Gellar love of cleaning. We need to end the trivialisation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 

 21. A motivational quote cannot save you 

What's in a quote? Well, I know it's not a magical answer to your life. For so long, I was caught in a bubble of words without action. I followed the recovery script; if I read"seize the day" enough, I would eventually seize the day. If I told others how recovery is a "journey", with weeds to trim and mountains to climb, I would reach the top of that mountain, just you wait.... and wait... and wait. Still waiting. Only I can take that next step. One milky cup of coffee at a time.


There's more to life than just Americanos
What home truths have you taken from the last year? 

No comments:

Post a Comment

UA-50715857-2