Friends and Frustrations

Friends and Frustrations

Friends are tricky. We’ve all loved them, lost them, and moved past them.

People don’t tend to talk about how friends can break your heart, but we all know that it happens. It might be an argument that never gets resolved, or you might just drift apart over time. But we’ve all been there.

Sometimes, it’s the friends you already have that leave you feeling deflated and broken. You might spend hours wondering why they didn’t call you back, or if they’ll ever be the one to text you first. Cue the overthinking: did I do something wrong? Have I upset them? Why do they always cancel plans? Why is it always me who makes the effort? Why do they never give anything back? Do they even care?

My mum always told me that friendships are the hardest relationships to maintain, and sadly, she’s right. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. When you have a true friend, it’s easy. You don’t have to question whether they care about you, you don’t spend hours agonising over the fact that they didn’t message you first today, you don’t have to talk every day because you understand and respect that their life doesn’t revolve around you, but you could talk all day every day if you wanted to. You know without a doubt that they love you, no matter what happens. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.

The thing is, if people want to talk to you, they will. If they care about you, they’ll show it. And if they don’t? Well, to be blunt, they won’t. So there’s no point waiting around for that message asking if you want to meet up or crying for somebody’s attention when they’re not up for giving it to you willingly. It’s taken me a lot of time and a lot of failed friendships to realise this, but I’ve learned my lesson. You can miss somebody all you like, but that doesn’t make them miss you. And you’re wasting your own time pining for love and affection from somebody who isn’t dishing it out freely to you.

Don’t beat yourself up about it though. It’s more than likely not your fault. If someone isn’t putting in effort with you, that’s their concern, not yours. You don’t actually need the people that don’t bother with you, as much as you may think you do. Frankly, you’re worth more than that, and there are people who will give you all the love that you’re worth and more, and they’ll show you how real friends are supposed to act.

I’ve learned a lot about friendship over the years. I’ve had some bad ones, some good ones, some that have lasted for years, and some that only made it a few months. I’ve overcome arguments, separations, distance, and god knows what else. But most of all, I’ve overcome my own obstacles and my own ideals of what makes a good friend. I have learned that it is better to have just one person who makes you feel valued, who puts in the effort, and who makes it known that they love you and care about you, than it is to have a lot of friends who leave you wondering if they actually care at all. I’m lucky enough to have found a couple of people who are continual sources of love and support, and everybody deserves friends like that.

It takes a lot to stand up and acknowledge that some people aren’t worth your time. Walking away from a friendship with someone you care about, or at least distancing yourself from it, can be pretty hard going. But it will make you feel better. I wish I’d known that ten years ago, or even just last year. You deserve to be loved as much as you love others. Don’t accept anything less than what you crave, and don’t settle for people who only give you a fraction of what you give them. When it comes down to it, you have to value yourself and your needs as much as you value the other person. In the words of Elliott Fudge, “you don’t have to be around people where you have to tolerate being second best”.

I am no expert on friendships. In fact, looking at my record, I’m probably the last person that anyone should come to for advice on buds, pals, and mates. But I do know that healthy friendships take equality and mutual respect.

I am not the same person that I was when I met Paige three years ago. I’m not even the same person that I was when I started speaking to Elliott four months ago. But they’re my best friends, and they have helped me to grow. They’ve advised me, encouraged me, and grown with me. That’s what friendship is about. It’s not about accusations like “you’ve changed” and “you’re not the same person you were when I met you”, it’s about “look how far we’ve come” and “I am so proud of you”. You don’t always have to get on – arguments happen – but you move on from it. You challenge each other, you learn from each other, and you pick each other up. Most importantly, you value each other, and you always make that known.

Surround yourself with the kind of people who love talking to you, who message you first, who make plans with you and actually follow through, and who love and support you no matter how many stupid things you do. It doesn’t matter how long you have been friends, what matters is how you treat each other.

Remember to show your friends that you care about them, and respect yourself enough to know when you’re not in a balanced friendship. Don’t take any nonsense from anyone, and you’ll be okay.

Handling Heartbreak

Handling Heartbreak

Hello again friends! Summer is here and so this blog is going to be back in full swing. So, let’s get started. We need to talk about breakups. Specifically, the way that others around us react when we go through them.

I know it’s not a particularly fun topic to talk about. Going through a breakup is hard work, as I’m sure most of you will know. And we’re all familiar with those run of the mill comments that start circulating when the news of your split gets out. In fact, we’ve probably used them ourselves.

“You might get back together yet!”

“You’ll find someone else!”

“Plenty more fish in the sea!”

“You’ll find the one someday!”

I know they’re just trying to offer some comfort, but why do all these assurances revolve around having a significant other in our lives? Why are people so determined to convince us that the only way we can be happy is by being with somebody else?

Here’s the thing: you just might get back together. If not, you will most likely find somebody else at some point. There are plenty of other people who will fall in love with you. But here’s the other thing: you are okay by yourself.

When you’re used to being around somebody all the time, sharing a bed with them, cracking inside jokes, and talking 24/7, it can be really weird trying to adjust to single life again. But trust me, you’re okay on your own. Splitting from somebody gives you an opportunity to refocus your life on yourself, to grow into your own person without worrying about somebody else, and to redefine yourself. You can make all of your decisions based on what you want, and just do what makes you happy. Sometimes relationships can make us feel like we’re stuck in one place, and being by yourself gives you the independence to move away from the people who stunt your growth. Once you’re single, you can’t depend on a significant other for your emotional support – you have to pull your socks up by yourself, and even though it’s hard, I promise that it’s a good thing. You have full control of yourself for a while. You might feel kind of strange on your own at first, but I promise that spending time by yourself will teach you so much about yourself, make you self assured, and set you up better for future relationships – romantic or otherwise.

Being single isn’t scary. It isn’t the end of the world. Yeah, things hurt for a while, but then it stops hurting and you grow and develop on your own. It doesn’t matter if it’s been one year or thirty, you don’t have to depend on another person for your happiness, and sometimes it takes a breakup to teach you who you are and what you need, not just from other people, but from life.

I’m not saying that relationships are bad. Of course, healthy, loving relationships are wonderful, but being single is a different kind of wonderful that gives you the chance to push yourself for your own benefit, and find out who you are as a consequence. These are the positive things that you can take into new relationships to make them thrive.

So maybe next time your best friend, brother, or that drunk girl in the toilets in Popworld pours their heart out to you about their freshly wounded heart, you can build them up as an individual, focus on their new potential for growth, and reassure them that being alone isn’t a hindrance but a strength.

Rebuilding

Rebuilding

So, it’s been a while. Over four months, actually. Sorry about that! But I think my break from blogging has been an important one.

It’s time for a long overdue catch up I think, so settle down with a cup of tea and let’s get on with the chin wagging! You might remember this post from back in November. If you do, you’ll know that I had a pretty bumpy time of things a few months ago. It was, in all honestly, a time I didn’t think I would get past. Well, have I got a surprise for you!

I think that one of the hardest things about having a low time is the belief that you’re not going to reach the other side of it. My mindset has had a complete transformation since those days in more ways than one, and I’d like to share with you some of the little things that have pulled me through, and how I have learned to (finally) love myself after years of self hatred and destruction.

It’s been a wild few months, but a good few months too. I am, for the first time in a very long time, exceedingly happy. What a nice thing to type. Of course, I have my wobbly days, but I have reached a point in my life where I have come to appreciate the little things enough to not let the bad things take over my day. For example, on Thursday, although life gave me a bit of a kick up the bum, my flatmate Jaz brought me cookies, I read a novel for pleasure for the first time in months (The Outsider by Albert Camus, in case you were wondering), and I made a really great curry for my tea. All small things, but significant things all the same. It is up to me to find beauty in even the most difficult days.

First of all, let’s talk meds. I am now completely free of all kinds of medication. Coming off antidepressants was not easy, and I’m not going to pretend that it’s the answer for everyone, but this was the best decision for me. Although they helped me at the time, I reached a point where I needed to give my head some space to breathe. I felt so suffocated and changed by medication that I just wanted a break to be myself again. It was hard at first, but I think I made the right decision, and I have definitely benefited from it in the long run. But citalopram isn’t the only medication I’ve booted. A few weeks ago, my doctor took me off the contraceptive pill because I was at high risk of developing blood clots (scary, I know). I was pretty scared of coming off it at first, because I’d gotten so used to it and the benefits that it brought. After being on the pill for about a year and a half, I’d never really noticed that it had such a huge impact on my moods, but within a week of ditching it I felt infinitely better. My mood lifted, I felt happier, more energetic, even more confident within myself. Of course it comes with its downsides, but the change I’ve seen in myself is so worth it. Since dropping all medication, I’ve learned how to handle my own extremes of emotion and bouts of anxiety a lot better, so I feel nice and stable and I’m learning how to balance myself in ways that I never could before. I have taken control of my own mind, my own happiness, and my own health, and I’ve pretty much kicked mental illness’s ass. Although medication (or lack thereof) has played a big part in this, it isn’t the only thing that’s had an impact on me.

I want to have a bit of a chat about social media. In a culture so obsessed with keeping the world updated with our everyday lives, it can be really hard to disconnect and switch off from everything. It’s far too easy to fall into the pits of negativity, jealousy, and self pity when you’re reading about how great someone else’s life is on their Facebook or eyeing up all their flashy new things on Instagram. It feels like everyone else has got it so much better than you when you see people getting amazing jobs on Facebook, someone’s new car on Instagram, your friends going out without you on Snapchat, or a festival you’re not going to on Twitter, and it dampens your mood for the day. At new year, when I was watching everyone else entering 2017 at a party with their best pals or with a kiss from their other half while I lay alone in bed with the flu, I decided that enough was enough. I deleted every single social media app from my phone, and I left it all alone for about a month. It wasn’t an excessive amount of time, but it was enough to take away the urge to see every single post on my timeline and to make me realise that there are much better things to be doing than scrolling through Instagram. I suddenly felt kind of free, and a hell of a lot happier about myself. I was no longer comparing myself to other people, and I came to appreciate my own life a lot more.

I eventually came back to social media, although I never got the Facebook app back. I didn’t come back because I felt like I was missing out, but because I finally felt comfortable enough in my own skin to know that it wouldn’t cause me to self destruct anymore. I learned a lot about myself in that month away, and I think that my social media presence is a lot different now. It’s certainly less frequent, and it’s much more focused on self love and bad jokes than self pity and complaining. I think it’s working out well.

More recently, I’ve started to realise my own value. I no longer want to take any shit (sorry mum) from anyone. If someone is treating you badly, if someone isn’t putting the effort in, if someone isn’t caring for you the way they should, don’t waste your time on them. It’s okay to end friendships that make you feel crappy, or to distance yourself from those who fail to see your worth. Surround yourself with people who see your value, treat you as an equal, and make you happy. That might be a very small number of people (hello Paige, George, and Elliott), but that isn’t what matters. In the words of Elliott Fudge, “giving things to other people and not getting anything back won’t make you happy. You don’t have to tolerate being around people who make you feel second best”. I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of friendships or relationships where you feel like the only one who ever makes an effort. I know I have. I absolutely tore myself to pieces over people who wouldn’t even give me a second thought. That ends now. Frankly, life is too short and I am too great for that. I won’t let it happen anymore. Get yourself friends that bring you Kinder Buenos when you’re having a bad day,  get you books they think you’ll like, put your favourite song on just for you, make you toast after a night out, build you up to no end, and who never make you feel like anything less than important.

Speaking of friendships, and any other kinds of relationships, I have finally learned a very important lesson. In the past, I have always relied heavily on other people for support, and for my own happiness. I never really realised how unhealthy it was for me to invest literally everything I had into one person, and then when things fell through I would be like a fish out of water. I didn’t know how to be okay on my own.

It has only been in the past couple of months that I’ve finally learned how to be okay on my own. That doesn’t mean that I am literally alone, and I still have a ridiculous amount of support and love from friends and family, but I now stand confidently as an independent person. I don’t rely on other people for my happiness, which means that I also don’t let them cause my sadness either, if I can help it. This has been, admittedly, hard for me to do. But I have never had so much appreciation for myself and my own strength. I can do a lot more on my own than I once thought, and I don’t need to depend on other people anymore. I wish that I had learned this sooner, so that I could have saved myself a lot of tears. But I am finally my own person who is in control of my own happiness, and it feels amazing.

I have also closed certain chapters of my life that I left open for far too long. Dwelling on old pain and allowing myself to hurt over things that no longer mattered held me back and caused me unnecessary heartache. Closure is a wonderful thing that can put your mind at rest. Letting go of bitterness, dropping that grudge you’ve held for years, forgiving people who hurt you, and moving on from sourness is so freeing. Your present is more important than your past. You will thank yourself for letting go.

But finding happiness doesn’t have to involve huge, life changing steps. Little things can have the biggest impact. For me, making myself a playlist of happy and empowering songs really helped; I actually have a sassy independent woman playlist that gears me up for the day and restores my confidence when I need it. Exercising more makes a big difference to me too – it gets me out of the house, gives me something to do, and makes me feel great afterwards. I make sure that I’m eating proper meals. I try to make more of an effort to make myself feel nice, whether that means putting on my favourite lipstick or waking up a few minutes earlier to do my hair. For my 21st birthday, I received a gorgeous “thankful journal” from my family. You can write the date at the top, and then it has space to write four things that you are thankful for that day. It’s simple, but it works. It helps me to look for the positive, no matter how small, and to appreciate how lucky I am. Taking five minutes out of your day to write down a couple of things you’re grateful for is a wonderfully positive habit to get into, and it’s one that I’ll be sticking to. It’s little things like this that make all the difference.

Balance is a process. I am working on it every day, little by little. Mental health is about maintenance, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of taking control and rebuilding myself. I have never had so much confidence in myself, and I have never felt so secure in my own being. I may not have all the answers, but I’m learning and making progress, and that’s what matters.

Criticism and Narcissism

Criticism and Narcissism

I am kind of sick of seeing people dragging others down. It doesn’t matter if it’s your friend,  a celebrity, a family member, a stranger. The amount of times I come across negative comments, both on the internet and out in the world, is really heartbreaking.

The thing about negative comments is that most people think it’s okay as long as the person targeted doesn’t hear them. But that is not the point.

A stranger walks past you in the street. You don’t like the way she dresses, because it’s not your style. You could tell your friend that you think she looks horrendous, or sneak a picture to send to somebody, or tweet about the horrifying sight that you just saw. We’re all guilty of looking at somebody and thinking oh god those shoes are really ugly or that hair is so tacky. But consider this: what they are wearing makes that person happy. They put on their outfit, or styled their hair that way, or did their makeup like that, and then they looked in the mirror and felt good about themselves. That person chooses to dress that way because they like it. They feel sexy in that short skirt, empowered in that blazer, or tough in those boots. And frankly, it’s not your place to decide what makes them feel good. Your opinion on somebody’s looks, in a nutshell, does not matter.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “what Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally”. It does not matter if Linda from accounting never hears that you called her perm a disaster. It does not matter if Kim Kardashian never reads that tweet you sent calling her a slut. The point is that you said it. You took time out of your day to say something hurtful about another person, to bring them down for something that might make them the happiest person in the world. Maybe you wouldn’t get married after six months, but that doesn’t give you the right to tell somebody that they are wrong for doing so. Maybe you would never be caught dead buying boots from ShoeZone, but someone else might think they’re the comfiest shoes in the world. Maybe you wouldn’t ever dye your hair blue, but some people feel really badass with blue hair. Give your negativity a rest. Being judgemental is boring.

There is more to life than your opinion. There are other perspectives that are just as valid as yours. You may not share common interests, and maybe you wouldn’t do what they do or wear what they wear, but that does not entitle you to say something mean about them. As long as they’re not offending anybody, let people do what they want. Your sly comment isn’t going to change anything. You may think that you’ve got everything right, and that your way of living and dressing and thinking is the correct way, but life isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. Let people do whatever makes them happy, and stop thinking so much about what other people are doing. Focus on your own life and what makes you happy.

There is far too much negativity in this world, and at a time where people are constantly spreading hate, be the light that you want to see in the world. Bring somebody up, not down. Spend your time looking for compliments to give, appreciating differences without criticising, and spreading love.

In the words of Thumper the rabbit, “if you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”.