Should I be freaking out?

Thanksgiving is not something I have ever celebrated, being from the UK it isn’t a tradition I was brought up on. However, this year I was invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with some family. Sitting at the table was an ex Investment Banker, the Director of a successful Advertising Company, a Children’s Theatre Manager, an Events Manager, a medical student about to receive his Doctorate and me… a receptionist and the youngest in the room by only a matter of months. Throughout the meal a thick helping of loaded questions was sprinkled upon me, the sum of which  was: “what are you doing with your life?”  I feel as though its a horrible question that people are asked only at the times of their lives when it is obvious that they don’t know what they’re doing. From my online ramblings alone, I think it is pretty clear that this has been a tumultuous year for this somewhat sporadic writer. And I ask myself this same question pretty much every day…”What are you doing with your life?” Honestly, I don’t know. I sit in an office in central London, working with perfectly nice people, in a perfectly nice job feeling perfectly unsatisfied. A bit like being in the gilded cage, its all very nice but its not enough. This weekend, I met up with the girls I used to live with at University. Of the 6 of us, 5 were living at home, and working in the gilded cage, trainee lawyers who worked their arses off for three years back in offices and retail outlets because that’s how you have to do it to get a trainee-ship. I’m told that we are supposed to get ourselves on the job ladder, to seek work from work. But how is that possible when you don’t know what you’re doing now, let alone what you want to do for the rest of your life.

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It’s a shock spending 4 years away from home living what you thought was ‘independently’, using your student loan to buy food and pay rent, using money from a part time job to get yourself drunk on the days where you should have been working, then moving back home. I am one of the lucky ones; I live at home and I have an amazing relationship with my ma and her man, we eat dinner together every night, we have breakfast together on weekends. So for me, the pull of ‘independence’ is not so strong what with the lack of rent to pay and the constant feeling of support. In truth, I know that the only way for me to find me impetus to move would be to find my dream job somewhere I couldn’t get to from home in less than an hour by train. Very few of my friends have moved out of home, and those who have are paying though the nose for rent and bills. At the end of my working month, less than a grand goes  into my bank account. I am staying put until its at least a grand and a half. A lot of the time it is easy to get my head down at work, binge watch a series on an internet TV site and not think about the future. Other times, like Thanksgiving, I begin to freak out asking myself endless unanswerable questions; have I wasted my degree and gotten myself into over 10k’s worth of debt to sit in reception all day doing nothing? Was doing a drama degree a terrible mistake? Was my father right to unsuccessfully try to dissuade me for all those years? I felt, after this meal last week, about an inch tall. I was useless, going nowhere, I had no wish to act anymore because I dislike the attitude of young actors, I had no qualifications to get myself a job which I could potentially do well in. What I do have is my ma. I have my mates. I have a support network that will never fail me. Even if I feel I am failing myself.

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I have a friend who is an actor. He has gotten pretty constant work from when he left uni to the present (he’s currently touring with a show!) We had the most brutally honest conversation the other day over a glass of red wine in a virtually empty pub in North London. We came to this conclusion: everyone is struggling in some way or another. Whether its the problem of making ends meet and paying rent, whether its finding a job that makes you happy so that scraping by doesn’t matter so much, whether its freaking out because the idea of getting yourself a mortgage and paying real bills every month. Everyone of my generation, bar those who managed to sort themselves out (hats off), is freaking out a little. It seems as though we have to settle in one part of our lives, if we want a good job which pays well, we have to let go of our passion. If we follow our passion we wave a tearful farewell to financial security and what my friend described as comfort. Comfort comes in many forms, whether its treating yourself to a solo Wagamama’s at the end of a brutal day of envelope stuffing or receiving a drawn out hug from a parent. Comfort is one of those little things that can make everything ok, and put you in the frame of mind that says “Life is not so bad”.  So when comforts are few and far between, when pressure from sources out of your control gets too much, when you are unhappy at work, what do you do? Make time.

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It might be the spirit of the holiday season which is forced upon us like acid rain, but I honestly feel as though making time to see friends and family around this time of year is worth its weight in wine. And gold. And gin. And cheese. In all seriousness though, when you feel as though you are drowning in your worries, that you’ll be alone forever and die alone only to be eaten by Alsatians, that you’ll never pay this month’s rent on time, that you’ll be eating tinned beans until March, that you getting a promotion is about as likely as unicorn orgies; just find some time to spend with your loved ones. Talk things out, be honest. The less you talk about what’s worrying you, the more gravity you give it. Everyone is freaking out. Its only natural that you are too.

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Should I Hibernate?

As the nights draw in and the weather begins to work against every new hairstyle you attempt, my (still very single) mind turns to how I will spend the darkest months. It  seems as though everyone is coupling up, as though the north with doth blow and we shall have  snow and I will die alone when the heating fails because everyone I know is under a blanket by a log fire with someone they love. The beginning of winter signals the arrival of four months of cold nights and short days. We bid tearful farewell to the days of beer gardens and sun soaked lunches with friends are long gone, because why brave wind and rain for a pint when you can stay in with red wine and Netflix?

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In truth, I adore winter there’s something about wrapping up against the cold in layers and topping everything off with a time of year themed coffee beverage that shits all over sweating and shaving all summer. My skimpy summer dresses have been exiled to the loft as I welcome back my cold month cosies back to my wardrobe with open arms. Oh oversized cashmere jumper and  leggings, how I have missed you. I have to say I really love winter fashion but don’t get me wrong I’m devastated to have said goodbye to my bright prints, outrageous clashing and the ability to wear a bikini top in lieu of a bra. With winter comes velvet, the most glorious of winter fabrics, the simple fabric that turns a navy dress into the perfect post work drinks outfit. Blacks are back.  It is now completely acceptable to wear an outfit without a splash of color and I love it and its so chic!

A friend recently wrote a blog on the power of an all black outfit (http://www.thefbombblog.com/#!Back-to-Black/c1w7u/8EE83955-1B15-4355-B43D-0CD19BAAE658)

There is also a lot to be said about the party season, sequins are still here and they will not be banished. I love the glamour of winter, the (faux) fur coats, the sparkly chandelier earrings, the fact that dark lipsticks during the day are not only acceptable but celebrated.

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It’s the time of year for hot soups and hearty stews and endless roast potatoes and I love it. But winter is a cruel mistress; for every charity shop jumper, there is having to watch couples Christmas shopping in town. For every pumpkin spiced latte there is forgetting how to use the damn heating. We must take care of ourselves this time of year, make time for a hot bath with a glass of red (Oh Merlot, how I’ve missed your caress). My first post back in March, I was writing to get over some moron who crossed me; I referenced Bridget Jones then, and I’ll do it again now. That gorgeous moment when she runs out in her pants and gets wrapped up in Mr D’Arcy’s coat and you die inside. Yeh that. I feel like that’s what every couple does instead of a peck on the cheek in wintertime. The smug winter advertising about what you and your loved one will gorge yourselves on as you wear matching jumpers while sequinned confetti rains down on your perfectly laid dinner table. The emotional blackmail from supermarkets. Its a confusing time of year for singletons, while wrapped happily in the warm embrace of winter’s blend of warm smells enjoying the spices that the approach to Christmas reintroduce onto our pallets to; we remember the couples’ playground that is winter wonderland. The couples on ice rinks holding hands and laughing as you trip them up with a stray limb and curse as you avoid slicing apart their smug fingers.

 

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I feel constantly between moments of solitary bliss,  wrapped up cosy on the sofa, Sex and the city filling in the silence in the background, watching Carrie struggle with having landed an amazing book deal but suffers from a total lack of love life and feeling like I know what its like! Standing on a dark platform as the mist makes way for the rain but getting to work and having gourmet chocolate waiting on my desk. How do I feel? I honestly can’t decide! Winter is the pull of a cracker; a loud bang, secreted in one half festive novelty fun, the other a lonely cardboard cylinder of nothingness. So dark. So bleak. But all is by no means lost, the festive season brings delicious treats with which to quell the fires of anger. I’m talking hot chocolate, cinnamon pretzels, freshly made chilli chicken wraps warming your fingers as you peruse tiffin at Borough Market. Warm your belly on that crowded, damp train home with a warm coffee beverage laced with spices and sugar. Winter is for dinner parties and wine and catching up with old friends and eating too much cheese. Sure many of us may be facing the bleak wilderness of singledom, some are seasoned pros, others left out in the cold, others throwing their arms out to the open sky with the glee that comes with new found freedom. Many things are uncertain, will we ever go a whole day without having to hoist the crotch of our tights away from your knees? Will I ever bring my useless tiny umbrella on days when I actually need it? Will I ever see the sun again?

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Break Ups

Mark Twain once said “write what you know” which is advice which, in these posts, I generally try to follow. However, today’s subject is one i have experienced many many times but only ever second-hand. Break ups. The words conjure different images for different people; some see tubs of Ben and Jerries devoured in a single sitting, tears over old pictures and love notes, Rom-Coms and lone walks on rainy days in the park wearing something floatey and feminine and looking vaguely vulnerable for the rest of time. Others see freedom, more time with friends, one night stands, a step up in lifestyle and the burning of effigies and belongings while you dance around in stilettos like Stevie Nicks in American Horror Story: Coven.

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I have watched my friends crumble time and time again: their relationship has reached its inevitable expiry date. I know, i know, how terribly cruel and unfeeling of me. Me being the cynical singleton i am, i see break ups as the inevitable punctuator that stops each relationship in its tracks. This is one of many reasons i have been devoutly single my entire life. I do not have the emotional strength or trust within me to give myself to another person completely having seen my friends go through what they have. From what i see, relationships occur when you find a best friend who you sleep with. Too many people describe the L word as finding someone who’s missing piece matches yours, someone you can ache with, someone to take the worst bits of you and exchange them for the worst bits of them. And both of you assume that this mutual misery that drew you to each other is enough to keep you together. There always seems to be a power struggle within the bounds of relationships, one person always giving, the recipient always wanting more. Something you both know but fail to acknowledge eventually tears you apart and one of you is always left more hurt than the other. There are always those people who have always been in relationships, those who like to plaster their Facebook walls with selfies and posts about being “so happy with my love bear” or spending “the perfect evening with the other half”, taking endless photos of their pets and calling them “the kids” then breaking up and posting emotional status updates about losing the one person they thought they would be with forever, listening to endless  Bon Iver and Adele, Alanis Morrisette and Tori Amos in an effort to use someone else’s words to purge your mind.

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Bile spat, i have to admit that i have friends who are in the closest to perfect partnerships i have ever seen, each with their arguments and differences, but each of them feeds the tiny embers hope my soul often quells. Two of my friends met at a festival, both strangers three days previous, made it through a couple of long distance months and now are on the verge of smug most of the time. Another two came together out of very long term relationships, and found something completely new in each other after two years of close friendship. Two met over a photocopier at a school they both worked at and became ying and yang. Two found each other when one was with the other’s best friend and now have one of the most sickeningly sweet relationships in the world. So there is light at the end of the tunnel, but I suppose you must have the balls to set foot in the tunnel in the first place.

Singledom vs ‘Romance’

All of us have come to fear singledom since Bridget Jones’ terrible premonition of dying alone and being eaten by Alsatians. There is a huge pressure placed on each of us to couple up, pair off, find our “perfect match” and begin the rest of our lives, you now cannot watch an advert for a frigging sofa company without being told that this sofa will impress a member of the opposite sex enough for them to never want to leave your living room or your life ever again.  There is even an advert for Freeview in which a cat seduces a budgie with a love song, in what world does that make sense?!

It’s no wonder that everyone is running around like a headless chicken trying to find their ‘one’, with modern technology taking full advantage of our fear it’s now just a case of swiping right to find your ‘match’, there are now countless different websites offering to help you find someone, there are websites for even the most specific needs. I’m talking ‘Equestrian Cupid’, ‘Amish Dating’, ‘Clown Dating’ , ‘Singles with food allergies’, ‘Mullet Passions’, and even ‘STD Match’ where you can find a partner who shares your foul disregard for safe sex.

At 23, I am one of what seems like few who are adamant that online dating is not for them. I went on a date with a chap I matched with on Tinder yesterday and it was super fucking dull. He is a perfectly nice guy, but following our conversations over Facebook and Tinder in which he came across as very chatty and funny, he failed to match up in person. The screen gives us the opportunity to think before we speak (type), it removes tone and gesture, making it almost impossible to really gauge what a personality is really like. You choose what people see of you, you choose which picture looks the cutest, or the most fun, or the coolest and that is how you choose to represent yourself.  They say a picture paints a thousand words, but most of those words could be lies.

I am a traditionalist when it comes to so-called ‘romance’: I think it is a case of meeting someone with a mind like yours. That said, I’ve been single my entire life, I will admit that I find it difficult to sleep with the same person twice due to a phenomenon I have labelled ‘Post-Sex Hate’. That feeling where you are aware that someone has seen you naked and at your most vulnerable and can do whatever they like with that information. There are a few people who I have experienced this feeling with and managed to remain friends, with one friend in particular I constantly joke about it and it doesn’t hurt either of us. What I struggle with is the fact that every time I find someone and think ‘game on, this person is awesome (and you’ll notice I do not specify gender), let’s see where this goes’ that person inevitably walks away. I’m always left thinking ‘Again?! Really?! Are you fucking serious, what was it this time?!’. Meanwhile most of my closest friends are with partners who are like mirror images of themselves, they glide effortlessly into a relationship like its nothing at all.

During a conversation with a friend last night, I realized that I have consistently slept with what I would consider to be very attractive people. There is not one conquest that I look back on and think ‘ew, what was I thinking’, beer goggles or not. And I should point out here that I’m more Lena Dunham than Mila Kunis, so my achievements with said attractive specimens are something of a revelation to me. I’m told that being hilarious helps, but at some point it has to be more than that, right?

 

I recently met a guy who I thought was brilliant, let’s call him D (for dickhead). So D and I shagged the first time we met in a booze fuelled, clothes tearing frenzy. A couple of weeks later we hung out and lo-and-behold I’m told “I just want to be friends”. Ah yes, that familiar kick in the cunt we have all experienced at one time or another (or in my case, probably going on 100 times).  I feel as though I should get this ego shattering mantra tattooed on my hand so I can cheat during the test of life and crack it out whenever I can’t be bothered to explain to someone the complex reasons behind why I am happy to pork you, but talking regularly isn’t going to work for me. And may I remind the charlatans who throw the mantra about like fucking wedding confetti, FRIENDS ARE BETTER THAN SEXUAL PARTNERS, and I have enough friends. Friends are the people who listen to you whinge and bitch and moan about literally everything, they let you get your tits out and puke in their living room and don’t get cross about it, they support you as you do stupid shit which they know you’ll regret. So if you “can’t commit to anything meaningful” with me, telling me you want to be friends is like asking to marry me. You cannot handle a friendship, not a real one, not with me.