Hey guys! Yet again there has been a rather large break between my posts. It seems that I have quickly slipped from three posts a week to a measly one. I could list a whole host of reasons and/or excuses as to why I haven’t been so active on WordPress but to summarise – we all know that sometimes life gets in the way. This has meant that I have only really been reading posts I see on Twitter, as opposed to Reader. Side note: hit me up on Twitter and send me links to your posts! I have sucked. Big time. I am, obviously, planning to rectify this because Christmas is quickly coming around and I have a whole list of post ideas to share with you guys! On that Christmassy note, I hope you like the photos from the York Christmas Market that I’ll be featuring in this post alongside some of my thoughts.

Finally, yes you may have noticed that my blog took a “mature”(??) turn a while ago, and this has also resulted in less posts. I adore writing on beauty and fashion and other bits but I love more meaningful posts and this has generally meant that I prioritised quality over quantity.

So, less waffling! I wanted to talk about what being in my 20s means to me. I would love to know what you guys either plan to do in your twenties, are doing or did. Do you like your twenties? Did you travel? Study? What did you get up to!?

For me, your twenties seem to be a massive period of huge life decisions, judgement, and fear. Basically, a lot of emotion.

Right now, I am 21 and I am in my final year of university. I have some plans for the next few months and years but I am very aware that these will be trampled by some curveballs from life. I will, fingers crossed eh, graduate next summer and be moving to York officially. Hopefully, I will have a job that I am happy in and is one that provides me with some fab career options. I might be thinking about having my own family and settling down in the years after that and doing all the white picket fence crap too.

But. This is all very daunting. I often wonder if the decisions I am making now are because it is what is just expected of me. It is just presumed that you leave university with a good grade, get a job and live happily ever after in the house you buy, with your 3 kids and a labrador. In reality, there is a lot of debt, fear, and uncertainty. I have heard people mention recently in university that the pressure since being in their twenties has been astronomical. By your 30s, your parents probably had all the free-for-all, lack-of-responsibilities fun that they planned to have and became, what I deem, a fully-fledged adult. They most likely had children, married maybe and owned their home. Increasingly, people are making references to our generation having their 30s as their 20s. Education and career dictate so much of our lives that finances are strained and we don’t get the ideals of previous generations.

I could go down a whole other track about politics but that’s for another day!

I find it super interesting how more and more people want time to themselves after university and choose to travel or take a year out from studying or finalising career moves and get a low key job and essentially, just get by. There is less pressure, you can enjoy yourself and see the world and you have your whole life ahead of you. So why do we, as a society, push 20 year olds into this created norm where we study, get a successful career and have a family. Look at the people around you. The people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Are they all doing the same thing? No. Were they all successful? No. Everyone hits bumps in the road and this ideal that we create for people to grow up in to is constraining and means that people “rebel” against it. Fuck you Brenda, maybe I won’t get a 37 hour unpaid internship just to get the job of my dreams at 21 when I can see Bali, Singapore, and Thailand and consider it after when I have a great tan and have made some questionable decisions about tattoos in foreign countries. Yanno what I mean?

I think that in your 20s you are pressured to fitting this “success” norm that doesn’t really happen for most and I find more and more hope and joy in seeing people break away from this mould. After being in education the majority of our lives, I think most of us deserve a break. A well-deserved one at that. People underestimate how draining it can be as a student (you know, not all of us are out every night and spend all of our money on alcohol and dubiously cooked chicken nuggets!) and how, nowadays, we are all pushed in to doing 101 things on top of our degree just to stand out from the crowd. I’m not saying I’m a shining example but on top of a very independent research and reading heavy degree, but in the last three years, some of the things I have done include:

  • Been elected the course rep three years in a row
  • Held down a job in a busy retail environment while writing essays and revising for exams
  • Visited China for almost 4 weeks to teach in a nursery
  • Volunteered consistently at a local hospice doing fundraising
  • Multiple positions in different societies

And you know what, it means I’m quite tired. I love all the extra stuff I do, and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t, but sometimes the idea of escaping for a year or two after my studies is really appealing. In your 20s it seems more and more like we have to cram everything in, in a short amount of time, to be happy and successful and it’s just not true. I think people in their 20s should spend some time finding themselves, understanding what they want to gain from life and having fun. I mean, it’s going to take you at least 100 years to buy your house anyway…. might as well enjoy life!

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This post is massively inspired by the phenomenal Chloe Plumstead, who is my absolute favourite blogger out there right now. About a month ago she wrote a post entitled, “5 Cock Ups Which Prove I Don’t Have My Life Together” which has totally inspired me to write my own. Her post is linked here, and I would definitely recommend giving it a read. Some of the stories are absolutely fantastic and prime examples of how we’re all human and sometimes little white lies are necessary (or giant balls-ups) to make our way through life. So, without further ado, here are 5 times where I have messed up or totally embarrassed myself.

MY PANACHE FOR FALLING OVER

For some reason, I managed to inherit my mum’s clumsy nature. This means that I literally go arse over tit more frequently than most. Oh, falling over? That happens to me now and then. Yeah, you might think. Although, I seem to have a certain flair for always stumbling and falling over in the most serious of circumstances – or, when everyone can see. Take, for example, my three year anniversary with my boyfriend at the end of October. I had some little heels on that I know have zero grip and I kindly asked Adam to let me cling on to him as a shuffled like a senior across the hardwood floors. It was about 7pm, so the restaurant was reasonably full and Adam didn’t seem to realise how bad my shoes were. This mix really didn’t help my case and before long, I had gone flying and fell in front of everybody. Falling over isn’t too bad if you can quickly scurry away. Not so fabulous if you have to sit there for 2 hours after in front of all the witnesses. Needless to say, I ordered a large glass of wine and I definitely didn’t get up to go to the toilet. Adam also had the delight of me clinging to him like Jack on the raft in Titanic as I shuffled out after the meal (while being slightly inebriated).

CRIED IN BURGER KING ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS

This story involves my best friend, Raff. Raff and I have a tradition of driving to the Burger King in York whenever we have a bad day and spending hours complaining and opening up whilst munching down on some burgers. On more than one occasion, this has left at least one of us in tears. There is nothing quite like having a stricken-faced Burger King employee come over to your table late at night to inform you that she has locked the doors and we have to leave out the back whenever we’re ready. After a quick glance around, we realised we were the only people sitting there, stuffing our tear-stained faces with fries. As much as a good cry and a burger often helps after a bad day (or week), being ushered out by an employee is another height of shame that I haven’t previously experienced. The worst bit, we go there so often they know who we are, I recognise all the staff and they’ve definitely seen me in some questionable states at odd hours of the night.

RIPPED MY TROUSERS…OR SKIRT…

I think most of us have been here. Apparently, I have just been there more often than most. I never seem to rip my items of clothing when there is nobody around or I am lucky enough to have a long coat with me to cover myself. Instead, it’s normally in the most crowded place possible with no hope for me. The first time was when I was at school and decided to jump on someone’s back.  Queue a large rip and my trousers were essentially ripped from back to front. I just haven’t learned my lesson at all. Another time involved me being seconds from leaving the house for a friend’s 18th. Just as I went to put my shoes on, I completely ripped open my skirt. Queue me panicking as I have 5 minutes to put together a new outfit.

DRUNK TWITTER MISTAKES

A personal favourite was when I had a girls night before we all went off to university. In short, way too much wine was consumed and some pretty compromising photos were taken of me propped up, eating a slice of bread. This was actually the last time I have been ill from drinking (to my recollection…) and it is safe to say that ‘wine-drunk’ is nothing like being normal drunk. Probably took a solid week to recover. During this time, there were lots of photos being taken between rapping Nicki Minaj songs and eating crappy food – typical white girls. What I didn’t realise, until later on, was that rather than uploading one of these terrible photos to my personal Twitter account, I had instead uploaded it to the Sixth Form Leadership team account that I helped run as Head Girl. It also took me far too long to notice this mistake. Safe to say I logged out and handed over the details of the account very quickly.

I FORGOT MY CLOSE FRIEND’S NAME

When I first got to university, I was very nervous about making new friends. Luckily, a girl called Jas was doing the same course as me and was in the college next to mine so we often went to lectures together and spent a decent amount of time chatting. I loved the comfort of having her around and she is now one of my closest friends. Side note: she has a great blog about reading and she totally inspires me to better myself every day. This is all well and good now but there was a time where I couldn’t remember Jas’ name. In the chaos and stress of working my way around the university, I hadn’t remembered what her name was. I felt absolutely terrible every time I saw her and the closer we got as friends, the more embarrassing it was. We went about 2 weeks like this until she put her number on my phone. I told her this story last year and I’m not really sure how it went down! I have definitely learned my lesson and make a much more conscious effort now to not embarrass myself.

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Being a redhead has definitely shaped my life. It honestly baffles me whenever I sit down and think about it that a colour, and more specifically, a colour of hair, can divide so many people and generates so many varied opinions. On a more broad spectrum, I’m sure we can all come to the conclusion that bullying is wrong, despite the fact that many of us accept it as a characteristic of childhood and growing up. I was lucky enough to not be bullied in life but taunting has been prevalent since I can remember. This is an aspect that I have felt privileged to not be the victim of. But, generally, I stand alone. I can recite a number of news articles I have seen where people have committed suicide due to bullying surrounding their hair colour. In my opinion, it is not addressed enough and it leaves this small 2% of the population subject to such hate with little support systems available.

I distinctly remember a circumstance where I was in my local city and I ended up being followed and had slurs shouted at me by total strangers. Admittedly, this has been a one-off type situation in my life but that doesn’t make it any less shocking. Scaling it down, I have experienced comments my whole teenage life where people thought they were complimenting me through the line “you’re fit.. for a ginger” or other similar points. If you place yourself in the mind of a 15-year-old girl, being told that, in someone’s view, one of the things holding you back from being attractive is the totally arbitrary hair colour you were assigned at birth – you are undoubtedly wired to hate your appearance. I’m not insinuating that this hurts any more or less than people being told that glasses, or braces, or that fetching bowl cut your mum gave you, are hindering you being “attractive” but hey – I had most of these and was lumbered with being a redhead too.

Let us not forget the jokes that you have to accept because “it is just a joke”. I can assure you that hearing a comment about my fiery temper will probably result in exactly what you have asked for… which probably doesn’t help in playing up to stereotypes but oh well, eh? Another personal favourite of mine is the quip, “we wouldn’t lose you in a crowd”, sometimes the originality is baffling, I must confess.

I dyed my hair several times in my teenage years to avoid comments and used being a brunette as a platform for a new, reformed and confident me. However, I swore to my dad that semi-permanent would always be the way and this often left me out of pocket and eventually accepting my ginger roots and eventual horrific grow out. This is something I must thank my dad for. By never going permanent, I learnt to love and accept my hair colour as much as possible and without this inevitable shove into self-love, I feel like I would have significantly struggled later on in life.

Another comment that I thought was worth mentioning is the concept that ginger hair will only suit women. I know that I am definitely not the victim of this as I identify as a female but for guys who have grown up with being a redhead, I can only begin to imagine how hard it is to be essentially named and shamed as “unattractive” off the bat. I have seen this more than enough times and it infuriates me. Have you seen Ed Sheeran? Prince Harry maybe? Let us not be too rash here.

This process of altering my appearance to suit the constraints of beauty imposed by others around me and the wider society ultimately fell to fake tan. You can imagine a very young and confused Ella attempting to fake tan and completely messing it up. I know that most girls went through this stage but being quite pale (although I do tan!) and predominately freckly, any attempt to cover them up was welcomed.  Imagine lots of orange streaks and stained hands and you essentially have pictured what my attempts were to construct an image of myself that suited this ideal of “attractive” that I was told my whole life I didn’t fit in to.

I know that some people will read this and be like “Hey, I love you hair! The colour is so unique” or “She’s just saying she had it hard” but I did, I truly did. Weirdly enough, what made it harder was compliments. In the space of a day, I could receive a hateful comment about my hair and by the end of the evening, it would be completely juxtaposed by a stranger stopping me in a shop or restaurant to say how much they loved it. This type of confliction has made it extremely hard to accept me, strangely. I think it is such a natural part of human nature to look at yourself and only focus and reflect on the negative and completely disregard the positive.

I will admit, hairdressers do seem to really like me. That is one thing I will totally take and own it. Whenever I need a confidence boost, I have learnt over time that getting my hair done is probably the best thing to do. However, this doesn’t stop unwarranted comments even then about colours I should “avoid” and how I “can’t wear” certain items. There is only a number of times in 21 years where I can hear that I will suit green and have to act surprised.

Although I have been light hearted at points, I thought it necessary to be really honest at this given moment. Being a redhead has been a series of conflicting emotions that have shaped my life and how confident I feel in my appearance. These neverending thoughts have led to me researching the “ginger gene” and the likelihood of ginger children. Part of me feels resolute in standing up to people who for some reason feel obliged to attack people for being different. Another part is terrified to bring someone into the world to have the same experiences as me both through interactions with people and internal torment. This is quite a daunting and troubling thought process to have at times and it is saddening that from just being a redhead it is something I have felt that I have to consider.

I wanted to end on the note that inspired this discussion and is something I have always said whenever asked about being a redhead. Nobody looks like me. Magazines, films, bloggers, anything. I know that redheads don’t make up a large proportion of the population and therefore even a smaller percentage of celebrities and other icons but it has been a struggle from a young age to not have many people in the public sphere that I can identify with – appearance wise. What Disney princess was I? Always Ariel and her hair is red… to be pedantic. Hell, there isn’t even an emoji that looks like me but don’t worry… there are 3 different cutlery ones. I frequently search for redhead YouTubers or bloggers because I never feel like I am exposed to much inspiration when it comes to hair, makeup and fashion as there is such a limited number of us. (If you know any good ones, please let me know!)

I am slowly learning to love my hair and I am frequently informed that it is something I will grow to love in time and for once, I actually agree with people’s comments. Being different at a young age is difficult, no matter what it is that sets you apart. It will inevitably shape how you perceive yourself and others but I assure you, you will love your hair in time. I cannot express how much adoration I have for children with gorgeous flame hair and how I always feel the need to compliment them on it. I see people my age that I obsess over due to the shade of red hair that they have. Every shade is different and to me, that makes it pretty amazing. Nobody looks like you, yes, but why the hell do you want to look like everybody else? Embrace individuality, embrace your colour and embrace yourself.

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I have been having some trouble with my posts not appearing in WordPress reader. JetPack have assured me that they are but I know for a fact that several of my followers have alerted me that they aren’t.

If you are seeing in this in your reader (or aren’t) – either way can you please let me know in a comment!

If you know how I can fix this also, I would really appreciate it if you could let me know!

Thank you

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As someone who is going in to their third year of studying English Literature and Philosophy, books have definitely had a big ol impact on my life.

I thought I would do something very different for my blog and talk about some of my favourite reads and how they changed and influenced my life. I found this really hard to narrow down so please let me know if you would enjoy a part two!

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

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When anybody asks me what my favourite book is, this springs to mind. For my birthday last year, Adam bought me a gorgeous copy that I am excited to reread in time after completely destroying my old copy from so much use! If you have never heard of this classic; Tess of the D’Urbervilles is about a young girl called Tess that is sexually assaulted by her “cousin”. She falls pregnant but her baby dies in infancy and the plot follows her stoic journey from the fake relative who abused her to the man who idolises her so much that his curated vision of her destroys their relationship. I personally find the book light years ahead of its time and I feel like Hardy did a fantastic job in creating a feminist piece of literature without potentially ever intending to. I cannot draw similarities with mine and Tess’ lives but there is something about her character that you can’t help but empathise with. Hardy’s rape scene perfectly crafts what appears as a dominant view across time – one that we now refer to as victim blaming. Where Hardy symapthises for Tess and how her assault essentially is the catalyst for the hardship in her life, characters see her as responsible for his crime through, ultimately, having a bit of a flirt. I think if you enjoy feminist literature, you will appreciate this book as it basically catapulted me in to these types of conversations and cemented my determinism to be a part of this discussion.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck

On a slightly more modern note, this book has completely helped changed my anxious little world. I definitely over think things, worry and allow myself to be consumed with how others choose to perceive me. Since reading this book, I have started to declutter my mind of these thoughts and instead replace them with much happier and positive ideas. I have begun to learn what steps I should take and what methods I should use to feel less overwhelmed with life commitments and focus on myself and my happiness. I love the humour in this book and it definitely makes what is essentially masked as a self help book be incredibly interesting and insightful.

The Harry Potter Series

This may be an incredibly obvious one for many people but I had to include it. Under this umbrella I must mention the film franchise also and the casting of Emma Watson as it all contributes to why the Harry Potter series helped changed and shape my life. The series has definitely touched and moulded so many lives but it is also responsible for creating a character that I totally aspired to as a child. I truly believe that I was a motivated individual because I was inspired by Hermione and Emma Watson’s portrayal of her. Hermione, and like wise Emma Watson, may have been representing a pretty ballsy character when it comes to on screen battles but coupled with her insane intelligence and dedication to learning – I had a friend for life. I wanted to be Hermione. I wanted (and still do) to be Emma. I aspired to be the girl with confidence, bravery and intelligence and if these aren’t qualities you want to take precedence in childhood then you’re crazy! I liked that she wasn’t about pink and unicorns and boys but rather creating her own path and totally bossing it.

What books have changed your life?

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