Video calls, why ARE they so exhausting?

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2020, the year of the Zoom call. The year of virtual meetings, virtual quizzes, virtual catch-ups, virtual workouts (well, Instagram LIVEs lol), virtual ‘pub’ nights, virtual concerts. The whole world locked down and online. Every in-person event cancelled and moved online. Bit weird isn’t it?

It was fun to start off with, the virtual pub nights, Houseparty – the app that lived fast and died young – and everybody was well up for quizzes for at least the first 16 of them. Now, we’re in our second national lockdown and the whole of the UK sighs a sigh of desperation as the virtual quiz is suggested again and video calls are, once more, the only way to chat to friends and family. The whole office environment disappeared over night and entire organisations moved all their communication online. My 97 year old Grandma knows how to FaceTime… it’s mental if you really think about it. Even dating is online as apps have rapidly adapted to include new ‘video chat’ features. Imagine this time last year telling your current self that you’d have attended approx 67.5 virtual events, spent approx 7689 hours on Zoom and you spent more time caring about your Zoom background than you did your next Instagram post…

We’ve all become used to video calls being part of our day to day lives now of course but the fatigue is reeeeeal. My work day is, sometimes, basically one long Teams call and on those particular days I always feel really, really tired. Am sure that in person meetings never did that to me (although maybe I’ve a rose tinted view on that). Why is that? I’ve done some research (obviously) and to put it simply, when on video chat it is more harder to process non verbal cues so we have to pay more attention and basically is uses more energy (so yes go have another coffee you deserve it x). 

Essentially, everything we’ve ever learnt about socialising and communication in person has been completely destroyed and we’re having to relearn social cues, relearn non-verbal cues (or the lack there of), and basically relearn how to read someone when we can only see their face and their choice of background (which is likely to be something super distracting). 

Non-verbal cues and communication are the little things like eye contact, gestures and posture that can communicate a lot about a person before they actually say anything. Most of them, then, disappear when you move online. You can’t make eye contact. You can’t really see someone’s posture. You can probably only see a very fuzzy, small image of somebody’s face and therefore might not be able to interpret their facial expression. So it’s much harder to understand what somebody is something, or how they want to say it. And, you yourself have to use much more jarring and obvious ways to communicate. You can’t necessarily just nod or smile like you can in person as it may be missed. Unmuting yourself to say ‘yeah’ quickly to show that you’re listening is something of an olympic sport. Miss the moment and you’re done. (Also why is it still funny when somebody forgets to unmute and everyone else simultaneously goes ‘YOU’RE ON MUTE!’?!) You also don’t have eye contact on your side. You can’t make eye contact with someone to suggest you want to speak, you can’t catch your pals eye to say ‘I know right’, you are literally staring at pixels (usually of a pretty shit quality) on a screen. 

I’m usually alright at making my voice heard in a room of people but I’ve really struggled with it on video chats. I find I get way more nervous and anxious to speak up than I would in person. I can’t move forward slightly in my chair when I’ve got something to say so people know I want to say something. We have to very purposely unmute ourselves and actually say something (and hope that the wifi doesn’t stop working at that exact moment). We had a conversation about this at work and I think it’s pretty clear that the virtual environment actually makes it a lot easier for some people but a lot worse for others. I am in the bad side of it. 

As an extroverted person I find that video calls only fill a small whole that I have from the lack of socialising this year. On the one hand, it’s great to chat to people from work, catch up with my mates and see their beautiful faces but on the other hand I find that the energy I get from people around other people is virtually (pardon the pun) impossible to achieve over a video call. It actually drains more energy than it provides. 

And this leads me on to the point that it’s not just about the lack of non verbal cues that make video calls quite draining. In this article written by the BBC I found this point quite hard hitting. Gianpiero Petriglieri, an Associate Professor at Insead, says ‘the video call is our reminder of the people we have lost temporarily. It is the distress that every time you see someone online, that reminds you we should really be [together]’. And whilst this is a bit dramatic, I really do think he’s got a point. It’s like, when I see my team on calls I often wish I could see them in person and share our Netflix recommendations over our morning coffees. Or like when I FaceTime my cat (I’m not joking) I find myself feeling soooo angry about the fact that I can’t reach out and give her a cuddle. And when I organise a catch up with my pals I really do wish we were sharing the bottle of wine (partly so I don’t just drink the whole thing myself)…

Petriglieri also says ‘most of our social roles happen in different places, but now the context has collapsed. Imagine if you go to a bar, and in the same bar you talk with your professors, meet your parents or date someone, isn’t that weird? That’s what we’re doing now…’ isn’t that nuts?! Pretty much every single social interaction we have is in the exact same physical place. The other day I moved into the lounge to take a call and I felt like a new person (now who’s being dramatic lol). And for some reason I also end up taking social calls sat in bed but maybe that’s because otherwise it does feel a bit like work?

On a completely different note, you also have to look at your own face and isn’t that just a bit weird? Like imagine there being a mirror every time you spoke in real life showing what you look like, because that’s basically what it is. And also, horrifying to discover that the image you see is a mirror or what everyone else sees so you are basically guaranteed to look better in your own image than somebody else’s (sorry to break this one to you). 

Whilst I am very, very grateful for pretty much every video call I’ve had throughout the pandemic, and do suggest them to all my pals and also find days without many meetings a bit lonely (we strive for a happy medium ok) – there really is something to be said about video call fatigue. As we continue to navigate the pandemic, we continue to find innovative ways to move the world online and adapt to the virtual world we are living in. But, all I’m saying is, get me back to the office and the pub 2021 pls I’m counting on you x

Let’s leave the trash in 2020, an ode to ghosting…

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Apparently, my blog is now a Dolly Alderton stan account… I just finished reading Ghosts and I loved it. So, I have a lot to say. Buckle up boys.

Ghosts, Dolly’s debut novel, captures the pure evilness of being ghosted in a funny, heart-warming and emotional way and becoming such a brilliant self-assuring novel. 

Nina is 32, living in London and she gets ghosted. BIG TIME. It is INSANE and yet so terrifyingly relatable… at many points of the novel I found myself laughing out loud in a this-is-so-scarily-relatable kind of way. 

My Dad asked me the other day what ghosting was. I told him it’s when a person you’re dating just suddenly stops replying and ignores you completely as if you (or they) never existed, they’re like a ghost. 

He replied ‘oh I thought it meant that they haunt you’.

And, well, he’s not wrong is he… because when you’re ghosted you spend an extremely unhealthy amount of time thinking about that person. They occupy space in your brain you never knew you had. Every single spare moment of the day is spent thinking about what’s happened to them. Are they dead?! Are they in hospital? And of course you know deep down that they’re just a complete arse, because there’s literally no valid reason to ever ghost a human being. The audacity of it shocks me every time I hear about it or experience it. 

In Ghosts, Nina, the protagonist and ghostee, says ‘you made me beg for you to speak to me, to even acknowledge I existed. You made me feel desperate and deluded. You made me feel like you didn’t exist, like I’d made it all up… and I couldn’t say anything because whenever I questioned your coldness, you made me feel like I was crazy’ 

And just to say it loud enough for the people at the back, it is not and never will be ~crazy~ to expect somebody you are dating, somebody you have given time and energy to, to just simply not disappear of the face of the earth without explanation. Remember that. 

Dating apps have made it so easy for people to move on to the next person, disregarding someone for the most minor thing. There’s literally a list of people in your pocket with crap bios like ‘I like running, beer, a girl up for a good time’. Great, Paul, and I like men who are honest but we can’t have it all x

And whilst I firmly believe people should never settle for ~anything~ less than you deserve, everybody does has ‘baggage’ so to speak. There is not a single person in the world who is society’s idea of ‘perfect’. But, there will be a perfect person for them. That’s just how it works. So, having a rotation of people to call upon if you find a single flaw in the person you’re dating is weird, it’s unhealthy and honestly it’s just mean. It makes people feel worthless. We’ve well and truly f*cked it as a generation of swipers.

The bar is now so low that we congratulate men when they are, simply, honest. All they have to do is send us one honest sentence (just one) and we’re like ‘wow, really appreciate that thanks’ and then tell our friends ‘at least he was honest, he’s a good guy’. I’m sorry but what the hell is that all about? That should be the bare minimum not the indicator of a good person (it helps make them a good person of course, but it seems to be the level at which we decide right now).

It’s not comfortable to tell someone you don’t want to date them anymore, sure. We can all relate to that, right. It’s not like a fun activity but it’s not like anyone’s asking you to write a thesis on nuclear physics. And it’s not like we can’t handle the honesty. I can guarantee you that Every. Single. One. of my friends can handle the truth. Just like you know full well you can get back on the app and get swiping, so can we. We have just as many opportunities open to us as you do. We can play the game too. In the words of Beyonce, do not for one minute think that you are irreplaceable, to the left to the left…

I’ve watched my friends get hurt, I’ve been hurt myself, I’ve seen it too many times. The words need to be said. People need to be called out on their behaviour, enough is enough.

I recently read a quote on Instagram (you know, those accounts that post motivational quotes so that millennial women like me will repost them to their stories, you know the ones? lol) that said ‘choose yourself. You’ve got shit to do’ and I immediately took a screenshot of it and sent it to my best friend (because I validate following too many of these accounts by sharing them daily with her, she loves me). Anyway, this is the energy that we all need to embody every single day. Men are not going to stop ghosting us. It’s become integral to the society of the f*ck boy (might have to explain to my parents what this means after they’ve read this post, hi Mum) and frankly we’ve got to care less. It will hurt every time, of course it will. But every time, we can choose ourselves again. Feeling loved and being loved is not always about romantic relationships. It’s about surrounding yourself with people and things that make you feel good. Sometimes this is a romantic relationship, sometimes it’s spending the day in bed with an entire tuna pasta bake. Do you, boo. Always choose yourself.

Even though ‘men are trash’ is my favourite thing to say, I know that there are good, nice men out there. My friends have brilliant husbands/fiances/boyfriends (can’t believe I’m old enough to say this), I have incredible brothers (both in long stable relationships in which I presume they treat their girlfriends like queens), I have male friends who are lovely, genuine people. I just hope that, as a society, we can leave the likes of ghosting in 2020… along with Trump (boy byeeeeeeeee), Covid and all the other terrible things that have happened this year. Let’s leave the trash in 2020.

And if you find yourself being the victim of a serial-ghoster, in the words of a millennial Instagram account: choose yourself, you’ve got shit to do 

Also read Ghosts by Dolly Alderton. 

‘Everything I know about love’ in 2020

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2020 has been a sh*t show from the word go. Along side, you know, the global pandemic and the colossal impact on the entire world, personal trauma’s have been experienced by many. Dealing with the normal waves of life on top of the constant fear, anxiety and uncertainty has been almost impossible for lots of people. 

I feel extremely grateful for the health of my friends and family and insanely fortunate to still have a job that I absolutely love (shoutout to my Purple family for getting me THROUGH). However, I have, unfortunately and like many others, been through the shitter (for want of a better phrase) in my personal life this year. And whilst I am now thriving/living my best life so far as the pandemic allows, keeping my houseplants alive (Twitter fam, the glow up is still going well) and well just generally not having a meltdown all the time (just occasionally) it’s been quite the journey. Really, f*ck you 2020.

Anybody that knows me, is aware that I have the best parents in the world (hi guys I know you read everything I write), and I am eternally grateful for their endless support. I also have the best friends anybody could need or want in their lives and generally just an incredible support network. 

A while ago, I read ‘Everything I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton and ever since I’ve really wanted to put into words how I feel about friendships, female friendships in particular, and how far I’ve come since my turbulent relationship with friends I had as a teenager. Yet, despite many attempts and drafts, I’ve never quite found the words.

Today I’ve been inspired to put my thoughts down on paper, so to speak, as I feel an insane amount of love for my best friend as she supports me (yet again) on a bad day. My best friend knows exactly what to say to me every single time I WhatsApp her in a stress (which I can tell you is much more often than I’d like to admit on the Internet). She knows when to tell me to grow some balls and when to tell me my feelings are valid and justified. She knows when I need to rant and when she needs to just distract me. She sends me thoughtful post and texts me to check in at just the right moments. She’s just great, period.

And in general, I am so lucky to have such a plethora (isn’t that such a great word?) of people in my life who understand me, appreciate me and champion me. My friends have kept my head above water in the darkest times this year. They have been such a solid, grounding base for me, listening to me cry, scream and shout about how angry I am and reminding me that I’m a strong, independent woman (read: bad bitch) at JUST the right times. All I’ve had to do is grab my phone and reach out and somebody has always, always been there on the other side to help me pick up the pieces. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that in a world where we are constantly separated from our loved ones, a world where social interactions are limited to a virtual environment, and a world void of hugs and physical presence, I feel so, so much love (virtually) around me.

In a year when, without wanting to sound toooooooo dramatic, my whole life has been turned upside down and everything I fundamentally believed about love and relationships has pretty much been destroyed, I’ve ironically been loved harder and have loved harder than ever before.  

Dolly Alderton says it better than I ever could so am just going to leave you with this quote:

“When you’re looking for love and it seems like you might not ever find it, remember you probably have access to an abundance of it already, just not the romantic kind. This kind of love might not kiss you in the rain or propose marriage. But it will listen to you, inspire and restore you. It will hold you when you cry, celebrate when you’re happy, and sing All Saints with you when you’re drunk. You have so much to gain and learn from this kind of love. You can carry it with you forever. Keep it as close to you as you can.”

And I say, to all my amazing, incredible, best friends (that includes you Mum x), thank you, I love you x

Slow Sunday thoughts

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The clocks went back today which means we’ve been dealing with this pandemic shite for eight whole months now. Eight months of stress, anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic on top of the qualms of day to day life. It’s been a rough ride…

I am back living in London now and every time I get on the train I feel, weirdly, a little sad that my face isn’t squished up into tall sweaty man’s armpit and I also do kind of miss being a bit sassy to guys who piss me off in bars (don’t mess with me after two wines is all I’m sayin’), and really I just miss being in busy places around lots of random people without having to worry about picking up a deadly virus… 

We just don’t interact with strangers anymore and it still feels so WEIRD sometimes. When we were in lockdown-lockdown, not able to leave the house, ‘you must stay at home’ times, we had zero social interaction and in some ways that was easier to process because we knew where we stood (note ‘some’… lockdown was terrible in so many ways am sure we can all agree on that). Now, with social distancing and tiered restrictions, does anybody really know what they should or shouldn’t be doing? And, when people do interact with others, it’s people they love and care for, not complete strangers (for obvious reasons).

And yet…

I’m still not used to it and I still kind of hate it. As an extrovert I’ve found the social elements of the pandemic quite difficult to come to terms with. I firmly believe that restrictions are important and we should all do our bit to curb the spread of the virus. However, usually, I thrive off meeting new people, seeing new places and being around people, generally – not even just my friends but strangers too. I tweeted back in like April that I missed strangers in coffee shops a worrying amount and I still feel that way. The other day I went and got a coffee by myself and sat outside with my book and it’s the most normal I’ve felt since March.

I have found ways to cope, like we all have. For example, I now send my friends an excessive number of voice notes (soz, love u) just because it feels a bit nicer than texting and I miss them (so much – the disadvantages of long distance friendships are REAL right now). And sure, I like my own company, and appreciate the time I’ve hard to work on myself (the glow up is real guys, you are not ready). I am more confident in who I am than I have literally ever been and frankly am pretty impressed by my strength and resilience to the last six months of my life. 

And it’s not the big parties or sweaty bars I miss (although get me back to the CLUB PLS). It’s really the small interactions, then ‘happen’ moments, the small parts of our day to day that just no longer exist that I desperately want back. One of my favourite things about being in the office was the morning chats I had with the guys who at the coffee place, the small ‘hi how are yous’ and ‘good mornings’ are literally now a thing of the past.

It genuinely feels like we’re mourning a whole way of life, because who knows really when we’ll go back to ‘normal’? Will we ever? What even is ‘normal’? (not to get too existential on you…). We’ve had to learn a whole new set of social norms in record time. 

Will we forever wear masks on public transport and in shops and never smile at strangers again? How long will it be virtually impossible to meet new people naturally (i.e. without a dating app)? Will our relationships with our colleagues change forever? Is the office a thing of the past? Will we order our pints on an app forever? (this one we can keep actually). 

A bougie candle will not fix your problems

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Self-care. The Instagram influencer’s favourite phrase. It’s everywhere. Marketing campaigns, product packaging, Instagram feeds. But, what does it actually mean? The image of self-care presented to us by the media is a set of fairy lights, a nice candle, and a face mask. The ‘looking out for yourself’ vibe, however, is dominated by these images curated for Instagram. The cosy den that was clearly only set up for the photo, the really bougie face mask that actually isn’t much better than the £2.99 garnier one (trust me), and the Neom candle, of course. And yeah I’m a completeeeeeeee sucker for all of these things. I LOVE a facemask, a bubble bath and a set of fairy lights – and I’m an even bigger fan of fluffy socks and candles. 

Yet, something that’s been on my mind recently, having been through a pretty tough time (like us all but), is that the Instagram version of self-care barely made a dent in cheering me up or making me feel good about myself again. I was trying to think of a good way to describe this – I feel as though it’s like trying to put out a big fire with a miniature fire extinguisher – it might put out a few flames but it’s never going to put out the fire.

In order to put out the fire you need something a bit more robust. You need things like therapy, routine, and tried and tested coping mechanisms that you’ve established for yourself. You need to tackle your problems head on, you need to book that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off, you need to actually talk about your feelings. The candles, bubble baths and hot chocolates are only the tip of the iceberg, the icing on the cake. They are almost like the superficial bits of self-care – very much the Instagram highlight reel of it all. 

It makes sense, the pretty bits of self care takes a good photo – and the other side of self-care is pretty personal. But, what annoys me is that throughout the whole pandemic and the rest of the 2020 shitstorm is that there’s been such a superficial agenda of self-care. I’ve seen a few people promoting the more serious topic of actually looking after yourself (in ways that don’t involve putting a photo on Instagram) but there’s been a lot of bullshit about #selfcare.  

So, my (poor and unsolicited) advice is to start focusing your energy on the real shit that improves your life. 

Start talking about your feelings. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL. Your feelings are valid and they deserved to be given the time to be explored and dealt with. 

Do the life admin. Putting off your smear test? Need to cancel that direct debit? Need to renew your insurance? Do it now. I once heard on a podcast that if something is going to take you less than a few minutes to do, you should do it when you first think about it. Otherwise it’ll sit on that ever-growing to do list and you will literally never get round to it. It will stress you out more and more every time you go back to that to-do list and then no amount of expensive candles will de-stress you. 

Start saying no. Don’t want to go to Becky’s fancy dress Zoom party? Say no. That is all. It is as simple as that. YOU come first, you must start saying no. I literallllllllly hate saying no to people. It makes me feel so bad! But I can tell you that my life has significantly improved since I started saying no to stuff I didn’t want to do – politely of course and only when necessary but it really does help. 

Write down your positive affirmations, spend less time on your phone, go for a run, prioritise your to do list, stop putting pressure on yourself, form healthier habits for your body and your mind. Stop thinking that a bougie candle is going to fix all your problems.

I wish I’d paid attention to how I needed to actually care for myself years ago. Now that I understand what stops me from feeling stressed and anxious, my ‘self-care’ routine still includes the odd face mask and chill but it also means that I prioritize my to-do list, am proactive about my life admin, and have taken a much healthier approach to dealing with how I feel #selfcare. 

Thanks for coming to my Ted talk, goodnight x

Repeat after me: it is impossible to ‘waste’ your 20s

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I’m sooooooo fed up with the pressure we all have in our 20s. Like why is our generation so obsessed with doing things before we’re 30? Like what’s so different about being 30 instead of being in your 20s? Especially as women we no longer need to think so hard about things like our fertility (thanks medicine love u) so why do we still feel like our 20s are so weirdly precious and can be so easily wasted? 

This whole post has come from the fact that I keep feeling like I’ve wasted the last six months of my life (and the height of my 20s – I am the ripe old age of 25) due to lovely miss rona. I had a absolute meltdown the other day because I felt like my 20s were running away without me being to enjoy them – which firstly is so melodramatic I need to get a grip but secondly it is based of the pure b*llshit spread to us all day everyday about how important our 20s are and it’s about time we stopped that rhetoric. 

Yeah, our 20s are important, of course they are. They’re when you make your biggest and best mistakes. When you discover who you really are and establish what you want in life. They’re when you become a real full blown adult that makes their own decisions (instead of calling your mum to ask what toothpaste to buy, you know). They’re so important for our own personal growth without the added pressure of ‘making the most’ of them. 

What does that even mean anyway? Because I’m sure that every single one of my friends would give you a different answer, and yet none of them are wasting or have wasted their 20s, because that’s the whole point – you cannot waste them because there is simply no wrong or right way to live your 20s (or ever but let’s stay focused). I truly and firmly believe that your 20s are for making mistakes and figuring out who you are, so if the ‘wasting’ bits are when you make mistakes – then isn’t that the whole bloody point?

I think that everybody, of all ages, feels rubbish about the timing of coronavirus. If you’re young, you feel like you’re missing out, if you’re old you feel like you haven’t got much time yet, if you’re middle aged you probably have way too many responsibilities anyway without a global pandemic to think about. There’s been no ‘good time’ for this pandemic for anybody. And actually, for a while, I considered myself pretty lucky that I was in my 20s during this time. Because I don’t have exams and university to worry about, I don’t have the added concern of being ‘old’ and more at risk and I equally don’t have kids to worry about (because wow homeschooling like that, no thanks). 

And actually, I have learnt more about myself in the last six months than I have done for the last 25 years. OK, I had an added change in my life that others may not have, but I think most of us 20-something’s can agree – the pandemic has only helped us grow into the people we want to be, no?

I have learnt how to be a better friend and a better sister. I have learnt how to enjoy my own company and stop being such a dick to myself all the time. I’ve learnt how to work smarter and harder (because I am, quite frankly, a work-a-holic let’s be honest). I have learnt how to process and deal with my emotions better than I ever have before. I’ve started focusing on my body and treating it better with consistent (note, not necessarily frequent lol) exercise and yoga, and also wine (wine police don’t @ me). I have learnt how to forgive myself and how to grow – without sounding like a dick – I genuinely feel like this year has been a year of growth and change for me like no other period in my whole life. 

So, in short, there’s no such thing as ‘wasting your 20s’ and coronavirus is not an excuse to have that pity party. Of course, coronavirus is a good enough excuse for pretty much any other pity party because it well and truly sucks – but it is not going to ruin your 20s and it will not last forever. I wish I could go back to my insecure and emotional 16-year-old-self and tell her that I’d be a strong, independent, successful 25-year-old in 10 years time. Once I’m out living my best life again, there’ll be no stopping me. Watch this space x

The 6 books that helped me survive the pandemic

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Since I talk about books all the time (my friends love me ok), I thought I might as well write about them too… In an effort to write more and an attempt to fill my bank holiday Monday with something productive, I bring to you the top books I read during lockdown that kept me (slightly) sane.

The One by John Marrs

This book is basically the perfect mix. It’s got a bit of everything – a dystopian theme, a serial killer and some romance. The premise of the novel is that everybody has their DNA match – their soulmate based on the make up of their DNA – and it follows different people and their journey after finding out their ‘match’. The chapters are really short and snappy and always leave you hanging so it’s virtually impossible to put the book down. It’s very Black Mirror-esque and I literally finished it in 24 hours so I can’t recommend it enough.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

After reading The Flatshare earlier this year I pre-ordered Beth O’Leary’s second novel ready to devour it after its release and it did not disappoint. Leena switches ‘lives’ with her grandmother Eileen, she goes to live in a Yorkshire village and her grandmother adopts her life in East London. As someone who frequently burns the candle at both ends I felt all the feels with this book and identified a bit with Leena. Again, I essentially read the whole book in one evening (with a bottle of wine), but just wanted to start reading it again and again once I’d finished. 

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

The Truants is a bit Sally Rooney vibes meets murder mystery and I absolutley loved it. OK it’s not the best book I’ve ever read but it did satisfy a Sunday-afternoon-without-plans kinda vibe. It’s all about academia, love and triangles (ooooooooh). I think if you like a book with intense and detailed characters you’ll like this one. 

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce 

Another thriller, because what could possibly be better as helping to distract from the global pandemic than a gripping page-turner? I really loved this book, it has so many twists and turns and a classic unreliable narrative so things don’t quite tie up until the end. I believe some of the twists might be easy enough to guess but I’m so rubbish at guessing endings so I was genuinely shook at the end of this book. Loads of people have also said they hate all the characters but I honestly think that’s kind of the point? Anyway, I devoured this and would thoroughly recommend it. Trigger warning though, it has abusive relationships as a recurring theme.

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner

Andddddd I couldn’t write this list without a detective novel. I am such a sucker for a good detective series. I read all the Cara Hunter books this year and although the Susie Steiner series don’t quite do the same as Hunter’s novels, they’re pretty good. The first one takes a little while to get into but once you’re gripped, you’re gripped. You learn to love the detectives and the crime comes second to the plot of your most-loved detectives. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Not a thriller or a detective novel this one, but equally fantastic. The book really took me into the world of Hollywood in the 1950s. This book is just one to really help you escape from the day to day and the sh*tstorm that is the world right now. Evelyn is so enticing and her story is fascinating and (shock) I DID NOT guess the ending (told you I was terrible at guessing the endings and twists). Also, read Daisy Jones and the Six by Jenkins Reid because that is one of my all time favourites.

Reading has literally always been a sanctuary for me. Getting myself lost in a book for hours on end makes me feel more grounded than any yoga/meditation/exercise so I really found solace in my books over the last few months.

Be friends with me on Goodreads and happy Sunday (Monday) pals x

Slowing the F down

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Did you know you can only focus on 40 things at a time and yet your brain has to focus thousands every second? This fact has come up twice over the last couple of weeks, once in the unconscious bias training I did at work and once at a ‘finding joy’ seminar with Sophie Cliff. Both times this fact was presented to me it blew my mind. Like, if we’re really processing that many things at once and we can only consciously process 40, how many things do we miss? 

I think the fact particularly struck me because I consider myself an excellent multi tasker and I guess ‘busy body.’ My mum has been trying to get me to learn about mindfulness and learn how to practise mindfulness for literally years and years, but alas my go-to for getting through things is to keep myself super super busy. Pack my day full of tasks and places to be and I am one happy gal. But then along comes the global pandemic and I’m forced to spend hours and hours alone with my brain and my thoughts and slow the f*ck down. 

Now, I am under no illusion – I know that miss Rona has destroyed the lives of so so many people and continues to do so at an alarming rate. I also know and am aware that every person has processed and dealt with the pandemic in their own personal way, some by being productive others by watching netflix – both and all ways are completely valid, obviously. Personally, I’ve done a bit of both. Some days have felt an overwhelming desire to do absolutely nothing and others I’ve been desperate to be as productive as possible. What I would say though, is that the pandemic has forced everyone to reevaluate their lives, who they surround themselves with and why – including myself. People (mostly basing this off the people I know) have cut toxic relationships and friendships and there has been a general sense of change. It really feels like it’s been an overwhelming year of change for so many, a lot of it bad but some nuggets of joy and positivity too. 

For me personally, as I said, my life pre-covid was SO BUSY. I’ve honestly got no idea how I managed it lol. It can’t have been good for my health. If I had a Friday night without plans I felt restless and unsatisfied. But now, I haven’t had Friday night plans for six months which, ok, I am not exactly thrilled by but you get the point. And on the one hand I am absolutely desperate to get myself back out into my lovely social life with all my beautiful friends, I’m no longer irritated or stressed by the fact that this weekend is an open emptiness. I have no plans whatsoever, I might sort out some of my things, might do some yoga, possibly go for a walk, but equally might drink a bottle of wine and watch some trash on Netflix. The point is though, I don’t have plans and I’m not making any and I am OK with that… If you’d told me at the start of 2020 that I would be that kind of person I would have laughed at you. I don’t necessarily intend to keep my life this way – for a start have made plans to move back into the city in a month’s time to get back into the office and seeing my pals (please corona stay AWAY from those plans I beg you), but I do intend to continue living my life at a slower pace.

I’m going to stop filling every second of my time and allow myself time to just do nothing, or read my book during the day (i.e. not just on my commute) or you know just do an hour of yoga without just fitting it in when I have 20 minutes and finding some rubbish youtube video and telling myself that’s enough. If my brain can only consciously process 40 precious things, imagine how much I missed before by filling my day so ridiculously full?

Some thoughts…

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Part of my glow-up plan (because obviously it’s normal to have one of these) is to write more, but when you’re at home all day everyday inspiration is somewhat scarce. So, I decided to write down some of the thoughts I’ve had this week, some more profound than others, just you know, to get SOME words on ‘paper’ (or Google docs).

PUT DOWN THE (SH*T) BOOK

I have a big reading challenge this year to read a book a week and so far I’m a solid 5 books ahead of schedule so we’re all good. As part of this challenge though, I tried to promise myself to finish all books I start – girl got no time to waste. However, I have started but failed to finish three and possibly soon to be four books this year already. I know many bookish people would see this as the ultimate crime (wait until they find out I fold the corners of pages too…) but I really truly believe that life is too short to finish the damn book. Even if you read a book a week for your whole life, that averages around maybe 4,000 books in your whole lifetime. Think about just HOW MANY good books there are out there – and how many good books are yet to arrive on the shelves… still want to finish the book you hate? 

I also read a really good passage in a book I read recently, The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell:

“They weren’t bad books,” Phin countered potentially. “They were books you didn’t enjoy. It’s not the same thing at all. The only bad books are books that are so badly written that no one will publish them. Any book that has been published is going to be a ‘good book’ for someone.”

This really stuck with me. Really, just because you’re not enjoying the book doesn’t make it bad and someone else might enjoy it – so there’s no GUILT, just pick up another book! 

YOU CAN DO IT

This is a bit of a personal one for me and has a bit of a background to it… For years and years and years I’ve just told myself that I’m rubbish at cooking. I’ve built up a narrative around it so strong that everybody in my life makes jokes about my food and my cooking and granted it’s got me out of some responsibility in my time but also started to make me feel a bit naff. Not everybody can be good at everything and I know I will never be a Michelin star chef (lol) but I can ACTUALLY cook. I’d told myself, and everyone else, that I couldn’t cook for so long I truly believed it. But, actually, it’s just not true. Since I temporarily moved back in with my parents I have cooked three, nice and fairly complicated, meals for six people. Everybody enjoyed them, well they finished them at least and it really made me think that maybe I should stop telling myself I can’t cook – because I quite literally can. 

This can probably actually be applied to other areas of my life too because fairly recently I actually became pretty adequate at parking my car – I’ve had my licence for just shy of 8 years and I still thought I couldn’t park? Who drives for 8 years and can’t park? Nobody. Again, never going to be able to confidently spin into a tight parallel park but I CAN PARK THE BLOODY CAR. If you feel that you can’t do something – start believing in yourself and stop telling yourself you can’t!!!!! I am definitely going to do this more often now that I’ve had this slightly ridiculous epiphany – wonder what else I can actually do!!! Feel like I’m at primary school and the teacher’s saying ‘it’s not I can’t but I CAN’… 

GO WATCH SELLING SUNSET ON NETFLIX 

A light hearted one to end this week’s ramblings but wow I am obsessed… It’s like Made in Chelsea S1 (because let’s be honest it went downhill quickly) meets Location, Location, Location meets LA. Just so good. So much drama, so many house goals – just it’s brilliant. I watched the whole thing in three days after fully following the hype and if you’ve got no plans this weekend, I implore you to invest your time in it. Then come and discuss Davina with me…

Happy Friday friends x

Emojis and changing communication

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It’s #WorldEmojiDay today and which is obviously just an excuse for brands to tweet about their favourite emojis or for people to use those rare and forgotten emojis that only come out when talking about emojis (a bit meta huh?). Aside from the massive tooth emoji, yes it’s real and unnecessarily creepy, and vast selection of clocks that are never used – some emojis are very popular and have infiltrated our daily communications. Love something? Heart eyes emoji 😻 obviously. Think somebody’s Instagram picture is banging? Fire emoji 🔥 is a definite choice. 😍😜🌈🍷☕️🎉

Millennials and Gen Zers (like yours truly) are so comfortable with emojis that many responses and sentences can be created and understood just with emojis of sorts. And even older generations are starting to get to grips with the use of a smiley face or two. Although, we’ve all seen that viral tweet about the guy’s Mum who used the crying with laughter face 😂 when she was expressing sadness in a few awkward encounters on Facebook. Now, too, there’s bitmojis and avatars that make emojis personal to each and every user should they choose to customise them. You can express your hysterical laughter looking like you too (or at least a cartoon version of yourself with limited options). 

And, emojis aren’t just used in Tweets and Whatsapp messages anymore. I am guilty myself of sending smiley faces in work emails – even important ones. This might be frowned upon in some work environments but it’s perfectly normal and acceptable where I work and often it is the best way to soften an annoying request in my opinion (sweet talker me…). 

So, the expansion of emojis is clear – we use them in all our digital comms meaning I always find it a bit strange when I get texts from my Dad without any hearts or smiley faces. Although he insists on having a ski boot next to his name on my phone so I guess he’s expanded my emoji use extensively in some ways… How, then, are they changing the way we communicate?

Well, take my example of softening the blow of an annoying request with a smiley face on a work email – that is literally my default. Instead of using actual words I just add a smiley face and hope for the best. When I don’t know what to reply to an Instagram DM I’ll just send a heart emoji 😻 (or better just like the message which then provides me with an in-built ‘heart’ next to the message). Texts with my best friend nearly always consist of one of us sending a ‘sticker’ in iMessage (aka a personalise emoji). I express my emotions, facial expressions and opinions through the use of a few extra characters.

If you look at the academic research surrounding emojis, they are often described as ‘non-verbal cues’ suggesting that they add to digital communication what facial expressions and body gestures do to real life conversations. This makes sense, right? You are laughing – you send a laughing emoji. But as they become more and more normalise, it feels weird to have digital communication without them and they feel so integral to the way we communicate. Imagine a Twitter completely without emojis… I retweeted something yesterday with a clapping emoji to show my approval, no words needed. This kind of interaction adds such a level of complexity to language on social media and on messaging apps that likens it to the complexity of verbal comms. 

Also, our communication with people outside of our individual households has been solely digital for 3-4 months now. We haven’t socialised in a ‘normal’ way for weeks and weeks on end. Sending our pals hearts to let them know we’re still thinking of them has become more important than ever. The use of social media has sky-rocketed as people pass the time scrolling and scrolling. Sending emojis now can be seen as even more of a virtual hug. Without a doubt, the impact of the pandemic will spread through the whole of society, language included. Will we rely on digital communication for the foreseeable? How can we show we care with a few characters?

A last point to note is how emojis reflect society. True, they have changed the way we show affection and communicate somewhat but analysing the introduction of new emojis can be an insight into changes in society from popular culture to the sharp (and necessary) increase in diversity and inclusion. Disabilities, race and sexuality are all now represented by the vast array of emojis available, giving people real ways to express themselves in their choice of emoji. Whilst these additions may have arrived too little and too late, it does reflect conversations that are being had in society.

If we can express ourselves with a diverse range of emojis and we can even personalise our avatars, does this make our communication through the use of emojis more genuine and personal? Will they ever feel as nice as a IRL smile and a hug? Probably not. But, who knows how emojis will content to impact our daily communications in the years to come. 🤷‍♀️