Making an Effort

A little while ago I listened to a radio show discussion about young people, particularly girls, believing it wasn’t ‘cool to be smart’. In my mind, caring about being smart is closely connected to caring about working hard – caring about putting effort in.

I think I’m quite an earnest person. In my teenage years, in the minefield that was high school, studying the relaxed, ‘don’t care’ attitude of some of my classmates was practically an additional subject for me. From what I remember, enthusiasm or passion – shown by anyone –  often resulted in teasing. When did not caring get so cool?

I’m definitely not a teenager anymore, but sometimes I still encounter the same attitudes among ‘adults’. I’ve had a pretty exhausting/frustrating day at work which has also partly inspired this post.If you are someone who puts effort into (almost) everything they do, however insignificant or boring, it’s so depressing to deal with people who can’t be bothered. What’s the point in doing anything in life if you do a half-arsed job?

Anyway, rant over. Hard work does pay off and there will always be someone out there who appreciates what you do, whatever it is. Here’s to enthusiastic people!

Time for some positivity – I’m actually having a pretty good week! Bike training for September’s cycle ride (read what I’m doing here) is going well – cycling the 15 miles to and from work is feeling easier each time. I’m also looking forward to visiting some old uni friends this weekend 🙂

Hope everyone else is having a good week!

H x

Turning 27…

Listening to: Night Swim, Josef Salvat

On Friday, I turned 27.

I’ve had the usual ‘Join the club!’ and ‘How do you feel…?’. So far, I haven’t been able to come up with a response more creative or meaningful than ‘Erm…. OK’. I don’t feel any different. I don’t look any different. If anything, the only thing I feel is more aware of potential preconceptions other people might have of me if they knew my ‘number’.

Especially since this week, not one, but two of our friends quietly shared some very exciting, but very ‘adult’ news with us. The Boy loves to wind me up that my body clock is ticking (Yes, you would be right in thinking that he can be annoyingly misogynistic sometimes). I used to think that big life decisions would suddenly become clear and obvious one day, like clouds parting in the sky to reveal the sun. But it feels more like some decisions creep up on you. Like slowly becoming aware that you are not alone in a room. But few decisions in life are straightforward or easy, are they? Especially for someone who is so indecisive she struggles to choose between breakfast cereals.

We had a long weekend in the Peak District as a birthday treat, with a visit to Alton Towers thrown in and a gorgeous meal at the local pub (The George, Alstonefield. I want to go back NOW). Over peach bellinis, real ale and a bottle of white wine (we may be getting older, but we haven’t learnt not to mix our drinks), the boy and I had a good catch up. When you live with someone it’s very easy to just co-exist and not think to check if you are on the same ‘page’ in life. Or it is if you are extremely low-key on the relationship front like us.

My birthday is also linked to our anniversary. More specifically, it’s the day when Boy first asked me out. Our first date, and the date we consider our anniversary (despite never really bothering to celebrate it…) is tomorrow, July 4th. We’ve been together 6 years, since my 21st birthday. As wonderful as that is… 6 years of my life! I won’t pretend that part of me wonders what would have happened if we hadn’t met when we did.

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Nothing has changed; but at the same time, everything is changing. Lives don’t stay still. I guess I feel like I’m just getting really happy and settled into this ‘age’. But at any moment you can be on the brink of another stage of life.

H x

Why I used to hate Instagram…

Bit late with my post this week – I’ve been trying to post every Sunday, but last weekend I was away with family for a mini break in Devon. As you would expect from such a rural setting, there was a serious lack of phone signal and  a little more unexpectedly, WiFi too – several of us struggled with the lack of connectivity! You never realise quite how much you check your social media feeds until you can’t.. which got me thinking..

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Why I used to hate Instagram….and why I’ve re-embraced social media!

I used to have a love/hate relationship with social media. I’ve been using various sites (starting with Myspace and Bebo, old-school!) for 10 years now, but I’ve never been one to post much myself – I never wanted to be one to ‘overshare’.  I always looked down on people who were constantly posting on Facebook – I thought they were just needy, or trying to make out that their lives were more interesting than they actually were.

I became increasingly annoyed by trivial and mundane updates from people I barely knew, clogging up my feed and preventing me from seeing what my actual friends were up to. Some dull but necessary time spent honing my privacy settings has since (mostly) sorted this issue. Still, I’m uncomfortably aware of the effect it has on our relationships –  how many times have you dropped an ‘Oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook!’ into conversation? Sometimes I feel like I spend less time discussing a friend’s weekend because I already knew what they got up to.

Meeting one person, the sibling of a friend, sticks in my mind. They were very prolific on social media. They had added me on Facebook (through which I could also see their Instagram) despite the fact I had never directly met them. When I actually talked to them for the first time, I felt quite awkward and inhibited in some parts of our conversation – I already ‘knew’ so much. I’d seen intimate pictures of their holiday. I didn’t need to hear about their house renovations, because (without even trying) I’d already been exposed to it all.

My misgivings around social media extended to Instagram when I first joined a few years ago. Influenced by my experiences on Facebook, I saw Instagram as a place for attention-seeking selfies and heavily filtered images depicting seemingly perfect lives. I associated it with people who spent all their time on their phone rather than living in the moment. Judging by the internet, I think this is still a commonly held opinion by non-Instagram/Snapchat/etc users!

Then, just recently, I went back on Instagram and saw it differently. It’s not all grainy selfies and contrived shots of food. There are some absolutely beautiful photos on there. One of my favourite feeds is IGers Bristol, which often celebrates very talented photographers, however amateur they may be.

Mainly, I think I just grew up. I can appreciate Instagram for what it is, and I don’t care if people think I’m being materialistic or narcissistic. If I take a selfie (at the time of writing I am yet to post one) I want to look as flippin’ good as possible. Even if it takes an hour plus of hair styling and make-up to achieve that beforehand…

For me, it’s not just about sharing.Yes, I really enjoy looking at other people’s images, but it’s also the process that’s enjoyable. I’ve seen complaints that Instagram ‘isn’t art’ and ‘doesn’t make you a photographer’ – but there’s still a bit of skill involved in taking a good shot. It’s fun to ‘create’ something that is aesthetically pleasing, or just create a record (hopefully both!).

So I’m very late to the game…but Instagram is currently my favourite social media platform!  I’d be really interested to hear if anyone else has changed their views in a similar way 🙂

H x

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FOMO – First World Disease?

FOMO.

According to a favourite source of mine, Urban Dictionary: ‘Fear Of Missing Out:  A form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event.’

I am guilty of FOMO. It’s an intrinsically human feeling and these days, social media only serves to heighten that sense of ‘everyone else is having so much more fun than me’.

Last week I was invited to a little gathering. I like the group but they’re not my closest
friends. It was really nice to be invited but it wasn’t high priority for me as I already had a busy weekend lined up. I thought I wasn’t bothered about going.

But then I spent a ridiculous amount of time agonizing whether to go or not. Why was I so anxious about making a simple decision?

It was FOMO. They were all going to have themostamazingtime.

No one likes being left out. Deep down I think everyone has that very human desire to be liked, to be included, to be part of the group.

I remembered that the girl who was hosting probably had very similar fears. It’s quite a brave thing to do – invite a load of people round to your house and hope that some of them turn up. I realized that (as usual..) I was completely overanalysing the situation. There was no right or wrong answer.

In the end I did go along. It wasn’t the best thing ever. But we had good food, a few drinks and some fun chat. And that’s fine.

Stand back, recognise your FOMO for what it is and take control – it’s your life!

H x

Hattie LOVES Sunshine

Have we moved to a different country?? I think April was a crazy month weather-wise for most people in the UK (we had hail and ice in Bristol last week) – now it seems we’re on fast-forward to summer.

A good hit of sunshine boosts my mood hugely. Waking up to a bright, cloudless sky in the morning makes me feel invincible. As a scientist I find the links between sunlight and  production of the hormone serotonin in the brain amazing, but I love the sun’s ability to give me a positive outlook on the day.

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After a LONG day at work today I headed straight into our garden to catch some rays. I have a new book to read for my book club (Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve) and new sunnies (an impulsive Topshop buy last weekend). Happy days!

H x