Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Little Reflection.

Today's post is going to take a slightly different tone. Recently I've found myself at a very transitional point in my life, and I needed space to contemplate where I've come from, where I am, and where I'm going. It's something I've been giving a lot of thought to recently, and although a little narcissistic I suppose it's inevitable when you're leaving university and heading out into 'real' adult life. Given that I've also been somewhat absent from blogging over the past month, I thought it may also lend a little insight as to why that is.

When I first started Briar Rose (or 'Stolen Rose' as it was called back then), I was eighteen and living with my family in Cornwall. I was finishing my A Levels and preparing for university; another of the most important transitions in life. Grant had been all-but living with my family for a year or so, however we were going to university in different cities - something we both had mixed feelings about. Graduation was a very surreal thought at the time, however I envisioned myself moving to London for a colourful career in journalism, graduating with a first in English Literature and a polished novel manuscript ready for publication.

As is natural, aspirations change. On my nineteenth birthday Grant proposed, and as we planned our wedding my priorities realigned. My mindset changed, and I began being more honest and open about who I was and what I wanted from life. It bubbled down to three things which ring true to this day; I wanted stability, I wanted a long happy life with Grant and our future family, and I wanted to write. I switched courses from English Literature to Creative Writing, developed roots in Bath, and made more time for the things I enjoyed doing. Anxiety had always been an aspect of my life, bubbling away in the background, however when I left home it became more acute. My desire to have a happy, healthy future with Grant made me realise how important it was to tackle it head on, and over the past couple of years I've been learning how to manage it with the help of doctors, medication and therapy. There have been times when it's made me truly hate myself, picking apart every aspect of my being, convincing me that I have nothing to offer to the world. Tackling this was another big turning point that made me reassess my priorities and the lofty aspirations I'd set for myself. It made me realise the importance of enjoying life day-to-day, treasuring loved ones and the things that make you happy. It made me slow down a little and start focusing more on the present than the future.

It's now been almost four years since I started this blog and university. I'm now married, call Bath my home in the truest sense, am finally finishing university, and have a part time job that I really enjoy (something I didn't think would be possible a year ago). Grant is starting a full time job that he's really excited about, and a month from now we'll be moving into our first non-student flat together. We've realised that despite the initial allure of London, Bath is where we really want to be; it's where we can see ourselves settling down and starting a family. Our new flat will be smaller and cosier, but it will be closer to town and in a better place to start establishing ourselves.

Life is very different to how I imagined it four years ago. Sometimes I do get those niggles, especially when I see other people my age with flash jobs, published books, and shining success stories bypassing university, but then I step away from social media and remind myself how blessed and happy I really am right now. This is an undeniably stressful time in life, however despite that I'm feeling truly content and optimistic. I feel like I'm taking things in my stride; something I've always struggled with due to anxiety. Sure, I'm working in retail, but it's for a brand I'm genuinely enthusiastic about and I'm already finding opportunities to play to my strengths. It's allowing me to continue living in the city I've fallen in love with, and means I can still focus on writing in my free time. I'm only twenty two; I have all the time in the world to develop a novel I feel proud enough of to pursue an agent and publication. There is so much pressure on young people and graduates nowadays to jump on a career ladder and climb, climb, climb, and it can be tricky when you're ultimate aspirations don't quite work that way. I want to be an author; that's the one goal in my life that hasn't shifted an inch. I won't be working in retail forever, but for now I'm lucky to be in a job that I do enjoy and can really apply myself to in the meantime.

And yes, I will continue blogging as time allows. The blogging landscape has been shifting recently, and I won't pretend it doesn't intimidate me. This year I've changed my approach to blogging a little, focusing on quality over quantity and reminding myself why I started doing this in the first place. I love creating and sharing content, so I will continue to do so as often as possible! At first the possibility of turning my blog into some kind of business seemed incredibly exciting, however when I began putting that pressure on myself (especially at such a tentative point in my life) it sucked a lot of the passion and joy out of it for me. I've taken a step back from it in that sense, and now I just blog for the love of it again. Once we've moved and officially graduated there may be the time and opportunity for it to grow into something else, however I'm going to let any change happen organically. For now I'm focusing on enjoying the journey.

As for the future, it's full of unknown possibility. I used to be all about rigid action plans and five year goals, but I've come to the realisation that living my life that way wasn't making me very happy. I have a loving husband, a family I adore, a home, my health, a job, and soon I'll have my degree. I've been doing things I never thought I'd have the guts to do, like modeling lingerie and attending comic cons in cosplay! I've finally reached an age and a point of self acceptance where I don't care what people think of my choices, so long as they make me happy and I'm making them for the right reasons. Whilst Bath is definitely our home, we're talking about possibly visiting America for a while in a couple of years, as well as daydreaming about future plans for pets, holidays, creative projects, and eventually a family of our own. Had you asked me last year when I was at my lowest point, I would have refused to talk about the future at all; it was something I couldn't stand to think about, as I simply didn't see a future for myself. I've made a complete turnaround since then, and I truly can't wait to see what the years ahead surprise us with (both the ups and the downs!).

As I mentioned above, this post is sightly different to my usual content, and whilst I'm not entirely sure of its purpose I've felt inclined to write it for a couple of weeks. I really do feel close to my blog readers, and I wanted to share where I am at the moment. If you're also approaching graduation, or will be graduating in the next few years, I want you to know that it's ok if you're in a different position to where you imagined yourself. Whether you've secured a job or not, whether you're working in your industry or taking a detour, whether you're staying away from home or moving back, it doesn't define your success. Life is unpredictable and endlessly surprising, and if you keep a positive mindset and work hard, things have a way or working themselves out for the best. If there's one thing I've gathered from other students it's that seeing a degree through to the bitter end is tough, and something you should be damned proud of.

Wherever you are in your life, and however it lines up with any plans and goals you've made yourself, you are a wonderful, majestic, worthy individual who isn't defined by society's idea of 'success'. You deserve every bit of happiness that comes your way, so make sure you take the time to enjoy and appreciate it. It took me far too long to slow down and appreciate the small things, but I'm far happier for it!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

April Favourites.

As you may have noticed, life recently demanded another blogging break from me! Between my final uni deadlines and starting my new job (and the amount of learning/training that has involved!) blogging has had to take a back seat. We're also heading to MCM London Comic Con next weekend, so any free time I have has been spent furiously sewing to get my cosplays ready! However, now that things are settling down I'm hoping to get back into my blogging stride, starting with my belated April favourites.

Lush Skin Care -
Tomorrow marks exactly one month since I started working at Lush, and aside from learning about the position and the products, one of the biggest changes I've noticed is in my skin. When you're working with cosmetics it's impossible not to pay more attention to what you're putting on your face! My new everyday routine includes Let The Good Times Roll cleanser, Eau Roma Water toner and Celestial moisturiser. An honourable mention has to go to Mask of Magnaminty, which I've been using a couple of times a week whenever my skin feels a bit tired.

Fake Roses -
I picked up these beautiful fake roses for 50p a stem when visiting my parents in Cornwall over Easter. I found them in R&J Supplies in St Ives, the same shop where we bought all of the fake flowers for our wedding! We're going to be moving into a new flat in June/July, so I've been keeping a keen eye out for affordable homewares.

Crown & Glory Daisy Bobby Pins -
These delicate bobby pins from Crown and Glory just scream Marc Jacobs, and I absolutely love them! I've been scattering them through milkmaid braids for work, which always results in compliments from customers! They make me feel so girly and summery, so it's no wonder they'v ealready become such a staple accessory. I especially love wearing them with Marc Jacobs perfume - so fitting!

Soap & Glory Goodies -
You can read all about my Soap & Glory first impressions in this blog post, however these two products have earned a place in my monthly favourites. Hand Food is simply a great everyday hand cream, and the Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub honestly smells like warm maple syrup-drenched pancakes. The incredible smell alone makes it a delight to use - I've even caught Grant pinching it! 

Studio Ghibli SteelBooks -
I was gifted these Studi Ghibli SteelBooks along with a couple of others by Zavvi at MCM London Comic Con last October. Whilst Ponyo became an instant favourite, I'm ashamed I didn't get around to watching My Neighbour Totoro until April. If you haven't seen them they're both adorable films, and for some reason I've found myself re-watching and re-watching over the past month. There's something really soothing about them.

My Little Box Goodies -
April's My Little Box was dream themed, hence it was right up my street. Along with numerous other beautifully presented and packaged goodies was a reparitive hair mask for split ends by My Little Beauty, a gorgeous red tinted lip balm (Loved by Lou Lesage) that I always wear for work, and an adorable stamp and ink combo.
Disney Pez Dispensers -
We're ending on a silly note! After one of my first shifts at work I popped into Primark to pick up some essentials, and saw a massive pile of Disney Princess Pez dispensers for £1 each. I haven't had a Pez dispenser in years, however they really put a smile on my face so I decided to buy a couple. Not the most grown-up treat in the world, but a welcome addition to the family of Disney figurines atop our fridge.