Let Me Show You A Shelfie

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Colour me surprised when I found out that a shelfie is an actual thing. I was less surprised however to see that all the “shelfies” I discovered were Pinterest-friendly white, neutral and not particularly exciting.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re perfect if you’re an interiors nut that wants their home to not look lived in. But I thought I’d shed some light on an true shelfie – one that hasn’t been stylised (although you may notice I’ve themed up a few sections!). It also hasn’t been dusted for a while, so y’know…I’m all about the truth right here. Dust makes me sneeze a lot, so I tend to put off that chore.

I think a person’s shelf can tell you a lot about them. Whether its the books they read (or in my case, comics), or the ornaments and trinkets they chose to display, a shelf can show off someone’s personality in the purist way possible. I think my shelf probably tells you I’m a bit – a lot – of a nerd that should probably grow up but is totally not going to do it in a hurry.

Shelves should be used to paint a picture of you and your hobbies and loves. One of my favourite things to collect at the moment is Funko pop vinyl figures, which is why my shelves are teeming with them. You only have a taster of my collection here. Shelves are also great for placing items that don’t really belong any where else, or often don’t serve much of a purpose other than looking good or generally making you feel good.

What I haven’t pictured (to avoid you having to scroll through too much picture spam) is the little souvenirs I have from holidays – a bookmark from Prague, a small model Colosseum from Rome etc. These serve no further purpose than reminding me of memories. I’d choose these little bits and bobs over a “minimal” Ikea-inspired look any day.

Are you a shelf clutterer like me, or are you all about the strategically placed monochrome minimalism? Let me know in the comments!

Driving Anxiety: My Experience So Far

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Happy Saturday, everyone! As I type this, I’m tucked up in bed and kind of wishing I’d gone and made a cup of tea before I started this post but that requires movement and I’m just not ready for that, guys. Today, I wanted to share with you my thoughts, feelings and experiences of driving anxiety.

As some of you will likely already know, I passed my driving test just over a month ago, and have been driving my little red Mini One, Nelson, since the beginning of this month. Being able to drive brings this whole new sense of freedom – it should be exciting. Sometimes it is. But quite often throughout my driving experience so far, it’s more often this terrifying thing that triggers my anxiety.

The 1st Driving Lesson

Let’s take you back to very beginning – to about a year ago when I decided to take the leap and book my first driving lesson. I’d spent about a week researching, emailing and calling up independent instructors to find out they were all booked up. Cue giving up on “the little guy” and searching AA’s website for someone local. Bingo. We have a match!

Sam is originally from London. He lives around the corner from me, and was able to do 2 hour lessons around my working day. I booked in my first lesson for an evening. I forget what time, but it was probably 5pm-7pm. The build up was a mixture of nerves, excitement and a little bit of “I’m gonna be the best darn driver you ever did see” sass. But mostly the nerves bit, tbh.

The first lesson, I was bombarded with a lot of information. You have to be really, as there’s a lot of basics to learn before it’s your turn at the wheel. Being given a lot of information to remember can be a major trigger of anxiety for me, as my memory is absolutely hopeless and I panic about trying to retain it all.

I remember after that first lesson feeling completely overwhelmed, worried and dreading the next one. How was I going to retain all of this information?! My attempt at a solution to this was to make notes on revision cards and stick them to my wardrobe. The cockpit drill, step by step instructions on the core manoeuvres…it all went on lined cards in different colours.

In my own way, keeping these notes and reading them every day made me feel more in control. I wasn’t necessarily always remembering every little thing, but it eased just a little bit of the fear of driving, because I could at least remember those core principles (even if they completely went out the window when I was actually on the road! All knowledge and information just dissolves from my brain when I’m feeling under pressure).

Fear of driving and driving anxiety

My fear of driving stayed with me from the very first lesson, to the last. I was a nervous driver and only felt confident with reassurance. Needy, huh? But I needed that to spur me on. My anxiety waned a little if I was being told I was doing things right. It made me feel less overwhelmed about all the things I needed to remember because hey, I remembered that one thing in that moment that prevented me from panicking which could’ve stalled or crashed the car. Go me!

I almost never slept well before a driving lesson, and due to Sam’s calendar, I often had my lessons first thing in the morning (7am – 9am). For a long time, this caused my progress in driving to almost come to a complete halt. With the lack of sleep, and the increasing anxiousness around driving, I would end up in tears when I couldn’t do a three point turn, or if my driving wasn’t absolutely perfect. Every single week I would dread the lesson, and even started packing make up in my handbag in case I needed to cover up blotchy-cryface when I got to work.

I began to think I was never going to be ready for the test. I almost gave up completely on several occasions. At one point, I got signed off from work and from my lessons because the stress of driving had added on to other stresses and it all became too much. I was taking beta-blockers which made me so tired that I couldn’t face much more than my bed and Netflix.

But eventually I got better and one day, it clicked. I don’t remember when, or how, but I got my confidence back. Sure, I wasn’t driving around like I owned the road, but I was having better lessons, which meant I was also sleeping a bit better because I was less nervous about how the next lesson was going to go.

Overcoming fear of driving

I don’t think it’s fair for me to say that I’ve completely overcome my fear of driving. I do still get some butterflies before going out on the road, but at least now I know that I can do it. I passed my test first time (much to my disbelief), and am now able to go out driving on my own.

I’m taking it easy though. When I first started driving the car, my Mum would come with me whilst I got used to Nelson’s nuances. Nelson loves to go fast, and his clutch is very different to the Fiesta that I had my lessons in. Getting to grips with a different car was a significant hurdle to get over. I had those moments of doubt again – that I had taken several steps back because I felt like I didn’t know how to drive any more, but again, it clicked in time. I’ve been learning to go lighter on the accelerator, to ease off the clutch with more intricacy so he doesn’t kangaroo.

I’m still learning to be a calm driver. As I don’t particularly enjoy driving, I want to get the journey over as quickly as I can. This doesn’t mean I’m speeding (because lol I have telematics in my car to try bring my insurance down and breaking the speed limit will do the opposite), but it does mean that I rush gear changes, I brake a little later than perhaps I should. I overthink situations and avoid going the “difficult way” to get to work.

But I know it’ll come in time. I’ll relax more as I get used to the car, and to the journey’s I’ll be doing. As everyone around me told me from day one, driving will become second nature.

So whilst I’m not over the anxiety that comes with driving (and might never fully be, as an anxious person), I have come a long, long way since that very first lesson. I’m proud of myself, and happy that I can share this experience and tell anyone who suffers from anxiety, that it won’t stop you, it can’t stop you. It’ll be a bumpy road, but you totally can do it. That’s the cue for Eye of the Tiger to start playing in your head, FYI.

If you liked this post, you may also like On Overcoming Fears And Passing My Driving Test.

My Advice For New Bloggers, As Told By Gifs

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The Internet is sprinkled with advice for new bloggers that are just setting up, but I find the vast majority comes from those bloggers that have been doing it for ages, often have a huge following and are blogging full time. These resources are amazing, but I feel that they can seem a little inaccessible to bloggers who are just starting out.

If I could turn back time, there are things that I now take for granted that I wish I’d known from the very beginning. From the best place to create a blog, to how to find other bloggers to engage with, I wanted to share my top tips for those of you who are either contemplating setting up a blog, or are new(ish) to blogging and are feeling a little stuck.

Let’s get started!

Opt for whatever blogging system you’re comfortable with

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OK, so this might be a little controversial, but I wouldn’t always recommend starting out with a WordPress blog. You can always transfer to one after a while like I did. WordPress can seem like a bit of a minefield at first, so starting out on Blogger is a popular choice for a newbie blogger. Familiarise yourself with it and figure out its limitations so you know exactly what you want when you do decide to move on (if you do – some people never move away from Blogger, and that’s totally OK too if it’s what you want!).

Don’t feel pressured to keep your blog updated all the time

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Throughout my time of being a blogger, I have occasionally felt immense pressure to keep the blog updated on certain days (and even certain times) of the week. Scrap that idea. When you first start out, you’ll find your groove and you’ll enjoy blogging a lot more by keeping it all casual like. Don’t push out crappy content that you’re not happy with, just for the sake of having something go live.

Avoid comparison – it really is the thief of joy

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Sometimes it feels like everyone and their cat has a blog, and they’re all better than mine. When I feel this way it takes all of my motivation to blog away and generally makes me feel rubbish. But then I remember that this blog is mine, it’s my hobby and it’s about my life. It’s unique. Never forget that your blog belongs to you and that you just gotta keep doing you.

Get involved in the community

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With so many bloggers out there, there’s plenty of lovely folks to chat to (particularly on Twitter). Find people to follow by searching for relevant keywords on Twitter’s search (e.g. lifestyle blogger, fashion blogger etc), and get following! Say hi, reply to their tweets or even retweet them. Get known for being the lovely person you are and you’ll integrate pretty quickly!

Don’t do it for the money, money, money

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Seriously, don’t. If you start earning from your blog over time, then that’s amazeballs. However, don’t set out to rake in the big bucks from day one, you’ll only be disappointed. Also, never compromise the quality of your blog for a quick quid. Or y’know, do. Whatever you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it because that bubble will burst soon enough.

Any more advice to add? Gifs optional.

Sweeping Statements in the Twittersphere

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I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those posts where I struggle to get my point across quite how I want to. I also have a feeling I’m going to come back to it on several occasions and wonder whether I should just hover and click on the Trash link.

That’s not because I’m scared of saying the wrong thing, it’s because it’s something that has bothered me for a little while, and because I have a feeling it’s also bothering others, I want to be able to say what I want to say from a place of honesty without downright moaning.

So here it goes.

Social media is great, right? We can voice our opinions in an open forum and often find others that agree. Sometimes, not everyone will agree. Sometimes blogger dramz happens and the rest of the community either nopes right off of Twitter, or puts in their two cents and often adds fuel to a fire which would otherwise fizzle out. We can’t stop that. We can try and encourage each other to be nicer to each other, but it’s never really going to go away.

But something that shouldn’t even be an issue has become a big one – in my eyes at least. That problem is sweeping statements. Y’know, that tweet that tars a group with the same brush. Maybe it’s gender, maybe its race, or maybe it’s just a community being stereotyped. It’s got to stop, guys.

Being in a blogging community that is almost 99% female, I’m all for girl power. #Girlboss until the cows come home, honestly. However, what isn’t cool is man-shaming. I see it more than any other shaming on my timeline at the moment, and it achieves absolutely sod all. It’s not going to stop trolls from trying to belittle or sexualise women, and it could also make men nervous to stand up for women online if they’re all being tarred with the sexist brush.

I am all for speaking out against those that deserve to be called out, but to post tweets about a whole group of people, based on the behaviour of some just seems a bit ignorant to me.

If you’re lucky enough to avoid this sort of content on Twitter being posted, here’s a few examples of the sort of stuff I’ve seen…

  • A tweet that basically said that men try to brainwash women to need them
  • Men can’t accept that women choose to have a life over being with them
  • That men’s worst fear is being scammed on a date, whilst a women’s is that they’ll be killed

Needless to say, I don’t follow the accounts that post this sort of ridiculous crap – but it doesn’t stop it appearing on my TL. Retweets, and for some reason suggested tweets, mean that I see this sort of stuff and it makes me angry. As human beings, we are all different. Sure, there might be men out there that do fit the criteria above…but if we took a minute to really think about it, many men are not like this at all. Would it kill these tweeters to be a little less generalistic?

I would apologise for picking out the male-focused sexism as a topic, rather than the issues of racism, homophobia etc etc, but I’m not going to. It’s not about one issue being more important that another, it’s about begging people to consider the inaccuracies of making a sweeping statement about anyone, or anything, and sharing it with potentially impressionable people.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this – have you witnessed sweeping statements on Twitter? Do you support them? Let me know in the comments!

A Weekend Photo Diary: The One With Loads Of Food

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OH HI!

This week’s third post comes a little bit late for you – soz about that. My only excuse is that it’s been a lovely busy weekend and I didn’t plan ahead to ensure you had your usual Saturday slice of content. I am honestly trying to be more organised, but what can you do?

Anyway, I thought I would share a little photo diary to show you what we’ve been up to this jolly weekend. It’s all iPhone pics, so y’know, bear with. Let’s get cracking.

FRIDAY

On Friday night we were going to go to our local Indian restaurant, but after a tiring week, the idea of ordering in was a lot more appealing. We were still a little bit adventurous though, as we decided to order from somewhere we hadn’t tried before. BEST IDEA EVER. This was honestly the nicest Indian food I’ve ever had.

For starters we had some Tandoori chicken, popadoms and I had a couple of mini samosas. I followed this with even more tandoori chicken in the form of shashlik with plenty of naan and all of the raita in the world. Man, I love raita. Liam was more adventurous with his meal which involved sampling ostrich tikka to start and some sort of lamb curry for a main. We washed it all down with some Pimms and strawberries and binge-watched The Office. It was perfect.

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SATURDAY

Saturday’s usually result in a trip into Chichester for shopping, a cinema trip and yet more food. This weekend was no exception.

I picked up Camp Midnight from the comic book shop (this was one of my Free Comic Book Day picks and I couldn’t resist it’s cuteness), and we went to see Everybody Wants Some!! which was pretty good – it has Chad Radwell from Scream Queens in (and a few other familiar faces). It also had an awesome 80’s soundtrack.

After that, it was burger o’clock at GBK. Now I’m a big GBK fan, but for some reason the Chichester branch cannot seem to cook my burger properly. This is the 3rd time now that a medium-rare request has resulted in a well-done burger. Boooo. Sort it out GBK. Once sufficiently filled up on food, we went back to Liam’s and vegged out in front of the TV until bedtime.

Bosham Inn roast dinner

SUNDAY

OH LOOK, MORE FOOD. Man, I really need to diet. But here’s the roast dinner we went for today, after popping back into Chichester and back to the comic book shop to play some board games with some of Liam’s DND buddies.

It was really fun, and nice to meet some new people (even though in the lead up to doing so I always feel really anxious). Sometimes it’s nice to do something a bit different at the weekend, and nudge yourself out of your comfort zone to overcome your fears!

Now I’m back home at my parents and ferociously typing out this post so that I can plan one or two more for the week ahead. At least I have a few ideas, which is better than usual!

What have you been up to this weekend?