Saturday, 23 May 2015

Day 1 at MCM London Comic Con.

I attended my first MCM London Comic Con last October, and we had such a great time that we returned this weekend for the spring expo! With a new convention came two new cosplays; my Megara cosplay, and my newly finished Margaery from Game of Thrones. Friday was our first day, and since it tends to be the quietest day I decided to take Margaery out on a test run.

For those who aren't familiar, MCM London Comic Con is a massive pop culture event where tens of thousands of people come together to celebrate the things they love, get information on new games and films, and shop from hundreds of indie brands and illustrators (along with a few bigger names!). However, what I love most is the cosplay. At events like MCM you never feel out of place in a costume! Not only is it wonderful simply spotting cosplays on the convention floor, but there are also meetups and 'masquerades' where people can take their work on stage and compete for prizes. I'm not quite at that point yet, but I feel like my costumes have already improved a fair bit since my last convention!

Being Margaery for the day was so much fun, although Game of Thrones cosplayers were scarce on the Friday since most were coming out for a big Game of Thrones meetup on Saturday. Nonetheless, I love her dress so much. The skirt swishes beautifully, and I felt so elegant and I wandered about! I received some lovely compliments, and even bumped into a few blog readers!

Since it was quite quiet on the first day we spent a lot of it simply meandering the halls, getting our bearings and deciding which souvenirs we'd be picking up! My favourite booths were Tofu Cute, Dreamy Bows, Glitterbomb and Cherry Abuku, all of which were delightfully pastel and cute! We tried not to do too much shopping, excluding some (very necessary!) Japanese sweets and some beautiful mermaid prints from Kavon Illustration that I'm going to be framing and hanging in our bathroom when we move! Last year I didn't really think to visit any illustrator stalls, however it was one of the highlights of our first day. It was quiet enough to really take our time, and there was so much talent in such a small area. We took note of a few different names for possible future commissions, and had to resist buying prints from all of them! Whilst doing some browsing, we also bumped in Jayne from Jayne Kitsch and she was every bit as beautiful and lovely as I'd always assumed!

As I've mentioned, cosplay is my favourite things about conventions! It seemed most Game of Thrones cosplayers were saving their costumes for a big meetup on Saturday (which I couldn't attend as it clashed with the Disney meet!), however I was still lucky enough to meet a handful of them! The fact that there were so few of us made it all the more special when we did meet. There were a couple of Danys, Cerseis and Oberyns, and I also found a female Jon Snow. We did spot a Khal Drogo from a distance, however fittingly enough he looked too intimidating to approach for a photo! Naturally I'm kicking myself for my cowardice now...

I have two more of these comic con posts lined up for you, so stay tuned! The past couple of days have been so wonderful that they've rivaled the magic of a Disney holiday, and we still have one day to go. If you're at MCM tomorrow, make sure to say hello!

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!