15 March 2018

If you would have asked me this time last year what I thought it meant to ‘travel’, I’d have told you something along the lines of shoestring budgets, round-the-world tickets and no commitments. Because that’s what you're always told. When you hear about people who go travelling, it seems like they are all quitting their jobs or taking sabbaticals and departing on year-long getaways around the globe with no return ticket. So, go figure that the first thing you think of when someone mentions ‘travelling,’ is just that.

But, is that what it really means to go travelling? And if so, why?

I returned from my ‘once in a lifetime’ trip back in August. If you frequent over here on my blog, then you’re probably tired of hearing all about my post-travelling struggles, so I’ll keep it short. Boo hoo, me, real life sucks! When you dream about something for so long, you’re always going to have difficulty letting go once it's over. Which I undoubtedly have.

And, up until just recently, it's been the same old sorry story. Little me, bitterly cold, walking to my 9-5 in the dark pre-8am wondering why the hell I am not still in Thailand. To which one morning mid-January, I had a eureka moment where it seemed like my entire centre of gravity switched. Just like that. All the pieces suddenly fit together again.

I thought “well why, what’s stopping me from continuing to travel?”

The fact I have a full-time job, that’s what I guess, but why does having commitments mean I have to stop doing the things I love.

There’s this, stigma? Can you call it that? For lack of a better word, a stigma whereby travelling means to be spending month after month in a new country, exploring the world with no worries, your entire life in a backpack.

But, the art of travelling (and the definition ‘to travel’ as a whole) is so, so much more than that once in a lifetime experience. In fact, there’s a part of me that thinks that because travelling has such a big, dream-like stereotype attached to it, it makes it unattainable for the average person. For the person who has one thing that is tieing them down to the 'everyday' life, like a 9-5, their education or a family.

Travelling full-time is fantastic, and for those of you who can, you absolutely should. But it can be done alongside commitments that are tying you down too. Travelling can and should work for everyone.

That’s what is so special about it. Everyone can and does do it differently. No experience is ever the same and there's no right or wrong way to do it. If quitting your job, or taking time off to disappear to South America is feasible, then fab, do it. But if you're constricted to your annual work leave, then you can make that work too. Even with 21days holiday or a small child.

So I've decided this year I want to visit just as many new countries as I did the year before. I guess, this year I can't be as flexible as to where I go. A weekend trip to Peru really isn't going to work but 36 Hours Lost somewhere in Europe absolutely will.

That's the art of travelling, you've just got to make it work for you, whatever your circumstances or commitments. Any trip can be an adventure.

Love always,

8 March 2018

I've been talking a lot lately about confidence, owning it and not letting anxiety get in the way of living your life. Because right now, that's my life. I feel 100x more confident in myself than I did at the end of 2016 last year. But I also feel 100x times more anxious than I did at that point too. How does that make sense?

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

My anxiety is worse because my life has no anchor. There’s nothing keeping me rooted right now, I’m like a dandelion seed floating in the wind, looking for somewhere to plant myself. That makes me anxious because there is no security or safety in my life right now, which is worlds apart from where I was last year. But, I’m more confident because I know how to look after myself, mental health and all. Anxiety might be more prevalent but it’s easier to handle.

I can't tell you that 2017 was the best of my life, even though in many ways it was. Anxiety-wise, it's been the worst. But my anxiety isn't what or who I am, it's how I react to it that makes me, me.

Addressing Your Anxiety

It sounds absolutely ridiculous to say out loud, but addressing your anxiety as a living thing can help you to understand when it’s affecting your perspective, positivity and mindset. My anxiety might have gotten worse over the last year but I’ve learned to distinguish between what I think and what my mental perspective is telling me to think. When I’m curled up in a ball in bed, fighting thoughts of “you’re going to embarrass yourself” and “you’re not good enough” I know that that’s not me that thinks that. It’s my old friend Annie and she’s absolutely wrong.

Identifying her as her own embodiment lets me know the difference between what I think and feel, versus what Annie is telling me to think and feel. Sounds mad, but it's so helpful.

Stop Fuelling The Fire

I’m a strong believer that if you will for something enough, it'll happen.

Storytime: I’m one of those girls who’s always cold. If I could replay you the time that George almost choked on his cocktail when I showed him my goosebumps whilst watching the sun go down in Thailand, then I would because it’s golden. But you get the picture. However, despite this, I’m pretty good at convincing my body I’m not cold just by thinking about palm tree’s, sun and poolside parties.

Moral of the story however, you shouldn’t fight fire with fire. Fuelling your anxieties with mirroring bad thoughts only adds more flame. Like when you're cold, the more you think about being cold, the more it effects you. When your anxiety is trying to break you down, tell yourself that you’re amazing. Because you are. Tell yourself that you are strong, talented and beautiful because you are those things too. It's all about looking for the positive in the situation you're in and finding confidence in yourself.

Preparation is Key

When anxiety strikes, it’s completely unexpected. Of course, Annie Anxiety isn’t going to ring you up and say “hey, gonna pop over in about half an hour.” So preparation can be a little difficult. But if you can narrow down when she usually makes an appearance, then you can prepare for it next time.

For example, I get anxious about experiences that I can’t predict or control. Like a blogger event when you don’t know who’s on the guest list or what you’re going to be doing once you're there. It's like swimming against the tide. However, I find that going out of my way to get in touch with the event organisers to find an itinerary, scouring social media to find friends that I can tag along with, makes all the difference.

It’s all in the preparation, so the unexpected is expected. That way, when Annie tells you something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you can put out her fire by feeling more in control about the situation.

A Glass Half Full

I think as human beings, we must be trained to look at the glass as half empty. We’re all guilty of nonchalantly looking at things in a negative light. I read online last week that practising gratitude and thanks has a positive effect on our perspective and outlook. So there is logic in assuming that the more we have a negative perspective on our lives, the more solemn we act.

Now, I’m not saying that just because you had a bad day the other day, that you’re an unhappy person. I’m just encouraging you to think about how often you think positively about yourself, the weather, your career etc. There are positive circumstances in almost every negative situation, even when you’re suffering and battling with yourself. Anxiety sucks but I think it can teach you so much when you approach it with a fresh perspective.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Love Always,

1 March 2018

If there is one thing that I’ve struggled with the most since returning from travelling, it’s the dread that I’m never going to be able to do it again. And whilst that might not strictly be true (who knows what the future holds) for the foreseeable future, quitting my job and travelling carefree is completely out of the question.

One of my top goals for this year is to find a way around that. So how do I make sure that this year lives up to the travel expectations of 2017, all the while managing a full-time job?

With only a finite amount of annual leave and a wanderlust list as long as my arm, this year is all about short city breaks and weekends away.

I don’t know why or how I haven’t thought of this before. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Say you have 20 days annual holiday, in theory, that’s 2x week-long breaks and then 5-10 more weekend trips, depending on where you go/other engagements you might need time off for. Luckily I’m the most unsocial person ever, so can dedicate pretty much all my holiday to travel.

Of course, we need to talk about money, because travelling like this, generally speaking, isn’t cheap. Everyone knows that the cheapest times to travel is midweek, so weekends away are never going to be the most financially efficient way to do things. And going back and forth between England is definitely going to wack up the total cost of travel. But with a travellers mind, there are always ways to save a little ££ and still get that experience of a lifetime.

So when you’re pressed for time, could this be the most ideal way to fulfil your travelling dreams?

February started off my adventure packed weekends away with a brisk 36 hours in Prague. Averaging with temperatures of -1, if you've ever been to anywhere in Northern Europe at this time of year before, then you'll be pleasantly surprised at how warm that is. But for those of you whose heart stopped momentarily reading that, it's honestly not that cold, just remember to pack your layers.

Friday: Touch down, Beer and winding walks...

For a city that often gets lost in shadows of Europe's most popular; Prague is full of so much culture, history and incredible architecture. Known as the city of spires, it is easy to imagine you’re walking through a fairytale village. But first, you've got to get there. You have two options...

Option 1) Public Transport

In no way glamorous but very friendly on the pocket. Bus 119 will take you to Nádraží Veleslavín which links with the Metro line A (Green Line). Alternatively, you can jump on bus 100 to Zličín to get Metro Line B (Yellow Line). From here, catch the next train to your destination. The metro is super easy to use but if you're unsure Jízdní řády is a really useful app to help you out.

Tickets for public transport are transferable, meaning you can use them on as many services as you like (from trams to buses and the metro) for the duration that they are valid. Depending on your needs, you have 3 options for tickets with prices starting from 32CZK (£1.11*) for a single journey of 60 minutes.

Personally, I recommend the 3-day pass, which is 310CZK (£10.77*). Within the inner zones, walking everywhere is definitely easy to do, however, if you're visiting from November through to March, it can get fairly bitter. So, even for those who enjoy a good long walk, the metro will be a small delight out of the chilly winds. Especially in the evenings.

Option 2) Uber!

Grab a Taxi from the airport, you can join the queue just outside the Terminal any they'll drop you wherever you need to be. Although be warned, I've heard they're not the best value for money. But when has a Taxi been good value? I called Uber, which took approximately 20minutes to get into the centre of the city which cut my journey time in half compared to public transport. The downside though, even with Uber, it will cost you over double the price of a 3-day ticket for just the single journey. It's a question of time or money here, I guess...

Once you’ve dropped off your luggage, my number one recommendation for any new destination is to have a good long stroll. Walk around with no intention other than to explore and get a lay of the land. It's 100% the best way to explore and I do it everytime I'm somewhere new.

But a word of consideration, cities as old as Prague have winding streets that you can easily get lost down. If you have the internal compass of a moron, like me, then nothing is ever in the direction you think. You always have the best experiences when – as much as I hate to say it - “you get off the beaten path”. Just, keep your phone to hand just in case you get a little awry.

On your stroll, your bound to pass many of the incredible restaurants and pubs, that Prague offers. So settle up for a cosy a dinner and try some honest Czech beer. There are a few rooftop bars with amazing reputations, T-Anker Bar is one of those if you're visiting in the warmer months.

Saturday: A iew of the city from every angle

Stroll across Charles Bridge, towards Lesser Town. Take in the changing views down the river and up at the Castle that watches over. On either end are the Bridge Towers, both of which you can climb and offer spectacular views and photo ops. It’s 100CZK (£3.50) to go up each tower but personally, I’d have paid double because the views are incredible.

In Lesser Town, take in the lanes lined with antique streetlamps and ornate doorways before stopping for an early lunch. There is a place called Plný Pekáč, just around the corner from Charles Bridge and the Lennon Wall which is incredible. It feels authentically Czech and matches typical Czech prices too. This side of town is known for its hiked up price tags, so this little gem was diamond find. I recommend their Goulash served in a bread roll and their Meat Mixture - sounds questionable, I know but the most incredible beans on toast type dish you’ll ever try. Their Apple Strudel is pretty fantastic too.

After lunch, take a slow hike up the hill towards the castle to work off that food baby you've undeniably grown. I recommend navigating via Nerudova Street as it’s a gentle uphill stroll. Old Castle Stairs is the most popular way up, but with 120+ steps, I bet you'd rather not. You'll be smirking when you arrive at the top relaxed, among the red-faced, worn out tourists.

On your way there, you can pop into a number of kitsch souvenir shops, or even stop at the Gingerbread Museum or for Chocolate Crepe, not very Czech I know, but who doesn’t love pancakes.

At the Castle, take in the spectacular views before heading inside the grounds. It’s completely free to roam around the gardens and to step inside St. Vitus Cathedral however other exhibits do require a ticket. You have plenty of time, so do this if you wish, it's 250CZK for a short tour. For those not willing to splash the cash, The Golden Lane is free to enter after 5pm.

As the sun sets, take a walk down Old Castle Steps - so much easier than walking up! - back towards the centre of the city for dinner and some more Czech beer. Keep your eye out for the infamous Czech pubs where you can pour your own pint.

Sunday: Hometime, but there's still so much to see...

Start the day in Old Town Square, admire the ornate architecture that lines the streets. This is where you'll find the Astronomical Clock that puts on a show every hour. Head to the top of Old Town Hall, it costs 250CZK (£8.5O) so definitely more expensive but with 360degree views of the city, you can’t complain at all. Before saying goodbye to the Old Town Square, don’t forget to join the thousands of tourists trying Trdelník. It’s not Czech in any way, but when else have you seen a donut quite like this before? It’d be wrong not to, to be honest.

Pass back over the bridge, in the direction of the John Lennon Wall. Admire the murals, upon murals before taking all the selfies in front of the beautifully coloured backdrop. Finish up by getting lost in the streets again, passing back and forth across the many bridges. Pop over to Jiráskovo Most Bridge to see the Dancing House in all it's glory before downing one last pint. That’s what you came for.

If you fancy, head over to my Insta feed where I've shared a tonne of photos from my Pragye, many I haven't shared on here yet. Including some really call shots of the John Lennon wall which was easily my favourite part of the trip.

Love always,

9 January 2018

...And How 2018 Will Be Better!

"Holy cow! How is it 2018 already?" It always seems so nonchalant and clockwork to say something of that sort around this time of year. Are we really all that surprised? I mean we repeat the same sentence more or less, every year. But in hindsight, I don't think I have ever been that surprised. I know that now because, this year, I really am.

I am genuinely baffled about how 2017 is over. I had so many plans, expectations and dreams riding on this year, that felt like an entire lifetime just waiting for them to finally roll around. Now it's all over and another year has begun, literally in the blink of an eye. And in lieu of sounding abhorrently melancholy, I want to clarify that I am absolutely not.

What a cracker of a year 2017 was. Whilst I am disappointed it's come to an end, *cliche alert* I am very much ready for some new beginnings, new dreams and new goals. 

Melissa wearing a white, Victoriana blouse with Rose Gold Olivia Burton Watch, photographed on the Streets of London.

In 2017, I quit my minimum wage job in retail to jump on a plane (well, several of them actually) to visit 5 countries I've been drooling over since I was a teen. 4 months later, I polished off my full-time daydream by living a life of paradise, in Thailand for 6 weeks. So needless to say, part one of 2017 was more incredible than my words will ever be able to describe.

Part two, however, was a tangled mess of anxiety, empty pockets and unsuccessful lottery tickets. But in the midst of those things that feel like they're built to tear you apart, there's always positive on the horizon if only you can find the strength to keep looking. Eventually, after months and months of searching, just in the nick of time for Christmas, I secured a job in Marketing. Phew!

This year has been a rollercoaster and I apologise for the lack of a better analogy, but that's honestly the best way to describe it. The most exhilarating, fast-paced rollercoaster with incredible highs but many points where it throws you upside down, followed by jolting emergency stops.

"The struggle is half the story. The hard times are what help us appreciate the good."

So 2018, how are you going to top that? How am I going to make sure you top that?

Melissa, looking over her shoulder at the camera with a gentle smile.

Embroidered velvet pumps with Bumble Bee's, from Primark.

Document More

This past year, so much happened and I wish I had documented more of it. I went travelling, camera in hand but spent the entire time just taking it all in. Which is great and 10x more gratifying than experiencing it through a lens. I don't regret that one bit. However, I am embarrassingly forgetful and I wish I had more to show physically for this whirlwind of a year I experienced. 

So in 2018, whether it's through photography, diary-like blog posts (let me know what you think of these because I can always keep them private if you're not so interested) or if I brave the vlogging phenomenon, I really want to document more of this year. Then when I'm 87, I'll have a plethora of memories that read like a story and maybe even show like a movie. 

Continue to Travel

I've spent considerable amounts of my time since I was 16, dreaming about taking time off to travel. And just because in 2017 I ticked that bucket item, it doesn't mean my dream needs to be over. I want to travel. I want to continue to travel. This year, I'm going to try my damn hardest to visit new places over the weekend. Not every weekend. That would be mad. Fun. But mad.

Whether that means 36 hours treading home soil in the British countryside or fleeting visits across the channel to Budapest, Prague or Tallin. Travelling doesn't have to mean months away, living out of a backpack in South East Asia, and that's something I want to capitalise on this year. 

Work hard, get a car and move the heck out

This is a big old goal if there ever was one. I've always been very dedicated to the things I desire, but I don't have the best patience. Now I know I can achieve big goals which require waiting because I finally went travelling, didn't I? That was 6 months of no shopping, no eating out, no seeing friends to be able to afford to go, on top of the 6ish years of dreaming too. So this should be easy, right? 

Bizarrely enough, this one seems wildly more unattainable. One day, I want to be able to blog full-time, earning a living from wherever in the world I am. And working hard in 2018 is what's going to get me there. Now not to say in 2017, I didn't work hard. I did. But my blog definitely saw itself as less of a priority and that needs to change this year.

But I have a full time, 9-5 job now and that is what's going to help me afford to get a car (road trips baby!) and simultaneously find myself a home. I've been renting a room at my boyfriends' parents house for 4 years and it's been many more years than that since I've felt what 'home' feels like. So for the sake of my sanity and wellbeing, this needs to change too. 

So here's to 2018 being as incredible as the year before. Here's to all the relentless hard work, smashing goals and continuing to live my best, happy life. What are you living for in 2018?

Love always,

22 October 2017

It’s hard to look at the bigger picture when it feels like life is not going exactly as you planned. Why do I not have my dream job yet? How am I ever going to be able to afford a mortgage? I know how it feels like your whole world is shattering in slow motion whilst everyone looks on like they’re at the movies. Popcorn and slushy included.

If you read my last post, then you’ll know that I was talking about finding confidence online. Particularly the ideologies of being encompassed by everyone else’s highlight reel and comparing it to your own behind the scenes.

I’m jobless. There’s no secret in that. I quit my job in March to travel the world. Now, I’m home with nothing but incredible memories, an empty purse and blistered fingers from flicking through newspaper ads and ferociously typing new Cover Letters for every new job application that I send. I sit in my bed with my laptop every day and scroll through the updates of my friends who seem to be living their best lives. Stable jobs with frequent dinners out and shopping trips to London.

I believe in myself, I believe in my ability to get into my dream career and absolutely smash it. Because I know I’m persistent, motivated and damn hard-working. But lately, I’ve been struggling with the effects of others not believing in what I have to offer. I'm almost 25 and still working in retail, with a degree in something somewhat unrelated to my chosen career field. I can see why employers might be put off. And in that way, job hunting is hard. I have sympathy for myself but also respect for anyone who has ever been jobless or in a job they don’t like, all the while feeling stuck, working hard, relentlessly for a second chance.

Giving up isn't an option. If I want to travel more one day or buy a house and have a family then a new job, salary in tow, is what I need to 'succeed'. And there are days, many, many days which are filled smokey and dark with the haze of failure.

"You're not qualified." "You are not talented enough." "You don't deserve success."

It's not wrong to doubt yourself and it most certainly does not make you a failure, even though every sign might be saying it. To quote a man that taught me more in 7 books than countless tutors did in 4 years at university…

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light!”
- Albus Dumbledore

It's coming, perseverance in the face of failure is where you'll find success.

Feeling sorry for yourself is fine. But feeling sorry for yourself too much can be even more devastating than the failure itself.

Ok, so it does royally suck that out of the hundreds of job applications I sent off, very few even got back to me. Even less wanted to meet me in person. In the three months that I have been searching for something new, only three companies/recruiters sent that "hey, you might have what it takes, let's arrange an interview!" email. That works out at about 6% of job applications were partially successful.

I've spent a lot of time asking myself what I'm doing wrong, what do the more successful candidates have to offer that I don't? Why is it fair that you're judged on 1000 words from your cover letter and CV? Why can't I cut a break? Why am I not better?

Giving myself that time to wallow in my self-pity was more damaging on my self-esteem than the rejection letters (or lack there of) entirely. It's great to ask yourself questions, find out what you could be doing better because you can learn from that, but you mustn't dwell on what couldn't be because there's something better waiting for you on the horizon.

Figuring out where I was going wrong was what helped me to grow. I've been applying for digital marketing roles. Something I think will satisfy both my needs to be creative but also strategic and purposeful about my creativity. I have a degree in Art and have been marketing this blog for over 3 years, so that makes send, right?

Wrong. I learned very early on that "experience is more valuable than education." Employers appreciated that you studied hard to learn your stuff but they wanted to see that you can apply what you know, successfully.

So apparently, this fun space on the internet that has grown from nothing, wasn't adequate experience. It wasn't with a company who could vouch for knowledge. Even though you can see it, in black and white in front of you. Weird.

But, I understand.

So I went out, enrolled in a Social Media Marketing course online and proceeded to send out emails asking various industries to take me on for work experience. Ok so I haven't done so well job hunting in the past, but I figured out where I was going wrong, then learned from my past failures and moved on.

Don't forget the past. It sounds ridiculous, right? But I've been through this all before. Maybe it would have been less painful this time around, had I remembered how I tackled it back then.

A couple years ago before I got promoted to my current position, I was fed up with my employer and how I was treated, even with veteran service to this company. I sent off hundreds and hundreds of applications, with unique and individual cover letters over a couple month span. I then got beaten down and demotivated when I heard nothing back. This time around, it's like de-ja-vu.

You can't forget the past and not expect to repeat it! Learn from your mistakes and never make them again...

And here I am now, on the 22nd October editing this post which I wrote weeks ago to try and motivate myself. To get me out of that post-interview failure funk and finding new opportunities again. After spending a month or so in my drafts, I've rediscovered this beauty and how much it helped me to finally find today. So what better time, than to share my news...

I GOT A JOB! I got a job in the industry that previous interviewers told me I wasn't qualified for. And for one of the biggest company's and brand's in the world.

So take this as your primary example that you should not live your life worrying about what has happened in the past or things that might not happen in the future. We must learn from what has happened and let it lead us to the positives waiting to be discovered in the next chapter.

Follow your dreams, live your life and most importantly, believe in yourself!

Love always,

28 September 2017

...and how you can find yours too!

In 2017, it has never been more difficult to feel good and confident about yourself. To love who you are, where you are and where you want to go.

I’m going to go all out there and say that you’re online now (obviously) but you also were online yesterday and you’ll probably come online again tomorrow. And as groundbreaking as the internet is, spending too much time on it can be damaging. Like chocolate to your smile.

Online, we scroll through the highlight reel of everyone else’s lives, comparing what we see to the behind-the-scenes of our own.

I’ve learnt a lot recently about the internet and its relationship with my self-esteem and my confidence. My self-worth and my value. And surprisingly, I think it’s done more good than it has bad.

I am not the most confident girl in the world. Far, far from it. I do feel it's important to point out though, that I have never lacked self-worth to the point of breakage. I have always valued myself and my strengths. However, I do know how it feels when everything comes tumbling down. All at once, like the entire solar system is against you. How it devastatingly stings, like salt in a wound, when you think everything that could have, did go wrong. And all whilst thousands of people speculate from the sidelines.

Valuing, understanding and growing from my weaknesses is something I have never been good at. It’s an acquired talent which I cease to believe would have been possible without the internet.

You are your own worst critic - remember that, because I’m going to keep bringing it back up!

Sharing is caring, or is it?

Online, people feel obliged to share. I like sharing, that’s why I’m here right now, tapping away to you. And why I keep coming back every week or so to talk to you about something new!

In most instances, it is a really great thing. But in a few, it has resulted in the awful demise of someone’s self-esteem. If there is one sad truth that I've learnt in life, it is that there will always be bully's and people less confident than you, whose goal is to break you down. I spent more of my time than I'd like to admit at school, wishing for it to be over so that the mean kids could be out of my life. But there's mean kids at school. And then there's mean peers at work. Then there's even more 'mean' on the internet.

I love the internet but what it does, is give an anonymity to those with a desire to destroy. Negative opinions and mean dialogue come from people who care. They care about the fact you have something they desire. However, those opinions of others that share mean things, do not impact your life. I mean, half the planet dislike Trump but he has one of the most prestigious jobs in the world. Negative opinions cannot direct your path. Nor can they decide who you are.

The moment I stopped caring about the snide remarks was the moment my shoulders pushed back, my chin tilted up and I felt more alive.

The internet: a Judge and Jury? And the Jury is out...

What the internet also does, is make some lose the ability to tell the difference between opinions and fact. And when it’s appropriate to speak or type out loud.

In 2015, there was a phenomenon where men (and a few women) of the internet grouped together in a protest insinuating that wearing makeup meant you were a liar. It was apparently untruthful for us to coerce them into thinking we are someone we are not. This is an example of opinion vs fact and the power of the internet making people completely bonkers.

Now I understand where they're coming from, however, wearing makeup does not make you untruthful. And it definitely does not make you any less worthy of confidence. I didn't know this at the time.

Remember that "you are your own worst critic" thing I mentioned. Well, if you are anything like me, then you wear makeup because it gives you that boost of confidence needed. When you didn't have a great night last night and want hide the evidence. That's nothing to be ashamed of. I bet the strangers on the street wouldn't notice regardless, however, you're not doing it for them. You're doing it for you!

"All of your flaws and all of my flaws laid out one by one. Look at the wonderful mess that we've made"
- Flaws, Bastille

The bump on my nose, my large freckles and hooded eyelids. I bet you’ve never even noticed the dent which resides smack bang in the middle of my forehead from when I had Chicken Pox at age 5. You have probably never noticed them, but I am very much aware. I wear makeup to distract from these niggles that drive me half mad. I wear makeup because it makes me feel more like myself. I wear makeup because it makes me feel more confident. And that is all there is to it. The internet taught me that. For every person there was protesting against makeup, there were a confident man and women standing their ground. Fighting for a right for confidence.

My Grandad used to call makeup ‘war-paint’. I love that if I'm feeling a little like poop, I can put on my face, a pretty dress and feel like I could take on the world. And there is nothing wrong with that.

People are silly. 

Over the past few years, my online presence has changed. Being and blogger has taught me many things, but particularly the importance of a photograph.

People are silly. We always do that "judge a book by its cover" thing. I do it. I bet you have too. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I'm definitely more likely to read someone’s blog if they have pretty photo’s to accompany bodies of text. So silly. So last year I took a huge leap to up the quality of my content and started taking photo’s, of myself. Because people can relate to human beings better than inanimate objects. Sorry, flat-lay lovers.

"Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me?"
- Reflection, Mulan

We all have this image in our heads of what we think we look like. I truly believe that how realistic that image is, determines how confident you are in yourself. In school, I liked music that was so far from my physical personality. Think Taylor Swift meets Slipknot. I had a serious identity crisis. In my head, I pictured myself as this scene kid with dramatic bangs and seriously intense eyeliner. But in reality, I was the shy girl in the back with a metal mouth and passion for wearing leggings with smock dresses.

There is no greater disappointment than having your expectations crushed like having your photo taken and realising you look nothing like what you had pictured in your head. Or even how you looked in front of the mirror this morning.

I have always (and still do) considered myself a photographer, never the subject. But pushing my boundaries and being the subject of my blog content changed how I viewed myself. I'm not a model, far from that but my vision of myself is so much more lifelike than what it was before.

Whilst it's not perfect, my eyeliner is much more 'on-fleek' in my head than in real-life, the same goes for my eyebrows. The overall perception of myself is much fuller. And so is my confidence. My personality and photo's of myself are so much better aligned and as a result, I understand myself so much better now. And all because I took more selfies to post on the internet.

Undoubtedly, I still have moments where my self-esteem plummets. I value my being 110% but I will always be the first person to pick holes in what I do, think or say. But - to an extent - that is a good thing. I am my own worst critic. I know that the things people say about me will never be as mean as the things I think about myself. And when I think those things, I know how to overcome them and channel them into greater thoughts.

Thank you internet!

Love always,

31 August 2017

Sometime in the past 2 years, I subconsciously decided to change my life. I don't know what it was or when it was but something clicked and whilst I can't say I'm living my best life just yet, I am on track for that. I feel almost like a new person, just from alternating my mindset.

One HUGE Habit that changed my life

& how it can change yours too...

Looking back, I really feel that somehow, I wasted my youth. I feel as though I sat there not doing anything because I was too scared. I turned down invites to sleep over my friend's houses with lame excuses like "I’ve been grounded" or "my mother wants to have a girly evening". In reality, neither of those two things ever happened. I was just an anxious teenager too shy to put herself out there. I never took risks, I played by the rules and that was how my story panned. I look back thinking, I really wish I'd seen my friends more, made more memories and faced my fears more actively. Had that happened maybe I wouldn't be struggling so much now as a fully grown adult who turns a quarter of a decade in a few months? But then again, maybe I would. Life does seem to do what it wants sometimes...

None-the-less these past two years have been so pivotal where self-help and self-love are concerned. Somehow I made that positive change in my mind and my perspective. And I wanted to share that with you because if someone could have told me these things before I beat myself down figuring them out the hard way, maybe I'd have fewer bruises.

Trying to please everyone

I come first in every situation. Not in a selfish way where I disregard the happiness of others and only think for myself. Not like that at all. I have realised how important it is to prioritise. Knowing what is beneficial to you and others versus what is just beneficial to others.

I read something somewhere where this person was talking about how much it sucked that what makes us happy can often leave us judged by others. When I was younger I used to get so upset if I got told off, not because I didn’t do anything wrong but because someone was disappointed with me. As I got older this left me going out of my way to only ever make sure people were happy with me. So I wasn't judged and left with leaving people frustrated with my choices.

These last few years I’ve been living in a scenario where I’ve felt like the biggest inconvenience. No matter what I did to be a shining example, I felt like I wasn’t wanted nor appreciated. When one night I just thought, ya’know what this isn’t healthy. I will always try my hardest where I should, but if it’s not appreciated or gratified then why should I continue? Prioritising these things has changed the way I hold my head. It's taught me to care where care is necessary but not push myself through holes not shaped to fit me.

Your bloopers VS. their highlight reel

You’re shuddering about how cliche that is, right? You've heard it before though. I’ve heard it before too. It’s one of those things you hear but actually never action. People like to market their successes. I know I feel considerably more successful when I’ve shared my triumphs with someone and they’ve reinforced my pride. Human being’s love to receive a pat on the back. But, one thing people don’t do, is share their failures. We live our lives comparing what we have, where we are and what we’re not achieving, to people on social media you either haven’t seen since you left school or strangers you’ve never met. 

How does that even make sense?

Owning a home before 30, or a fancy car, a designer handbag, that Olympus PL-8 or holidaying in Bali does not make you who you are or how successful you are. 

I have been very guilty of this in the past. Measuring my success against everyone else's highlights and that is 110% where I went wrong and where you are too.

“That person has been blogging for half the time I have but has double the number of followers,” I thought. But in this age, that means nothing. Success is happiness. Happiness in how you believe you are doing. I might be jobless at the moment but I get out of bed and start my day every morning like I would if I had a job and that’s success in my eye’s. Success is not a destination, it’s the journey.

That fear of social engagements

This post is all about realising the things that are holding you back. And for my entire life, I've had a fear social engagements. Social speaking. Social anything.

I grew up shy. I don’t know what it is. But it happens to lots of kids. I watch my niece, one of the most intelligent little girls, struggle to articulate during the first 10 minutes when we hang out. She’s just shy. It doesn’t matter how much I see her, she’ll always be a little mouse hiding behind mummy’s legs until she’s comfortable again. It's a kid thing.

But for me, it didn't stay just a kid thing. It stuck with me as I blossomed into who I am now. I'd dread presentations in school, even those done with groups of my friends. I'd hate parties where anyone other than my close social group was in attendance. Heck, I was even terrified in those 10 minutes before I met Taylor Swift. I practically word vomited all over her I was so anxious. Could have been worse though I guess.

But all of those things I did regardless. I didn't run away. I could have said, "Ya'know what Mamma Swift, I don't need those backstage passes!" I stood up and put one foot in front of the other and left my fear in the shadows even though I felt like I was going to simultaneously vomit and pass out.

I’m not saying it’s all Daisy's and puppy kisses. I still walk up to the door of blogging events and job interviews dreading every step and wondering why I put myself through it. I still scroll through my Facebook feed and feel that gut dread as my path veers off in a different direction to my school peers. But the difference between this rainy day in August to that one rainy day 2 years ago, is that I 100% believe this doesn’t define me.

If today’s the day I learn to fly, then by damn I’m going to. It doesn’t matter that I’m scared of heights and not the biggest fan of aeroplanes. I'm still going to travel the world because my anxiety shouldn't be the author of my story. That one habit that changed my life was not letting my inner monologue win. And you shouldn't let yours win either.

So it's that *completely un-related* point in the post where I tell you about my outfit and you say "not Primark again Melissa, c'mon!"

Well, you're just going to have to endure it because I'm absolutely wearing Primark again. I'm just obsessed, jobless and desperately trying to save pennies for when Taylor releases concert tickets later this year. 'Cause you'll be damned if I only get to go to one show, I'm not making that fateful mistake again!

Anyway, my jeans, yep Primark but they're identical to the TopShop Joni jeans if you're really that much of a snob about my love for Primark. My shoes, again Primark but aren't they a killer pair of pumps which really transformed this outfit. Yes, yes they are.

This top, on the other hand, is an absolute steal from Everything £5. It satisfies all my childhood dreams of being a pirate. The billowing sleeves. The slits up the arms. How could you not be in love. 

I really, really from the bottom of my heart hope that if you suffer from any sort of anxiety, depression, anything that stops you from living your life, that you have the courage to make a change. It's never going to be easy, it's probably going to be something you live with always, but it doesn't define who you are, your aspirations or your dreams. You're not alone and you're most certainly don't have to go through it alone. Be Fearless.

Love Always,