The Change Conspiracy


It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these.

On my own, at least, without the pull of a sad £20 note waiting for me at the end. Because, this, the little patch of internet I found years ago, suddenly seems so small, so meagre, so pointless. I suppose it’s not surprising I’ve outgrown it. 
After all, in the glittering age of social media, what’s the point of anything if no-one knows you’ve done it?

And so, as the years pile up, so do our expectations. Expectations that get harder to reach, and impossible to quell. Expectations that make you feel like you’re not doing enough, not showing enough, not bettering yourself like everyone else. Because, of course, we have a ‘duty’ to post incessantly to prove how well we're doing.

Or seem to be doing.

I scrolled through Facebook on the morning of January 1st. I stopped after a few seconds. Clicked off my phone, threw it onto the carpet, and pushed my head back against the pillow. 2017 round-up posts, new year new me, dizzy with sparkling snapshots of how to perfectly complete your year. Selfie, group shot, fireworks. Filter, fanfare –

Fictitious?

A few years ago, I was out celebrating new years’. Or, at least, that’s what it looked like. In reality, I had sat cross-legged in front of the mirror, hurriedly painted on makeup, pulled off my pyjama top and pushed down the neckline of something new in its place. I took a photo. I don’t remember the caption. I don’t remember the number of likes I got - none of the things I thought were important back then. All I remember from that night, when I sat in front of that mirror and wiped away the last of a gaudy red lip and glitter liner pooled in my tear ducts, is how I felt.

Alone. Desperately alone.

During that year, I had successfully submerged my head so deep into social media that I had made myself feel ousted from my generation, because I thought I was the only one not to be having the best time of their life that night. And looking back, I know I won’t have been the only one feeling that way. But instead of accepting that, I threw flames into the carnage, and added another dose of look how alone you are tonight onto Facebook, thanks to my photo.

What a way to start a new year. As a fraud.

As time goes on, I feel myself pulling away from social media. It seems less like a place to swap phone numbers to keep in touch, but now a marketplace where we trade intimate stories like currency.

And, with the start of the new year, I feel myself distancing even further.

Maybe I'm cynical. Because when I read those new year new me statuses, all I get is hyped-up faux-inspirational nonsense. I still say to myself at the start of every year, hell, at the start of anything I can tangibly relate to a ‘new beginning’, that it’ll be better, get better, work better. This time, it’ll be different. That I’ve learnt from it, it’s all an experience, and I 'appreciate' it all more now. But I’m done with experiences. The blood is running, pouring from lips and teeth and hair and there is no more experience to garner from the same damn thing.

And it’s hard, when you reach this point, to realise that you aren’t as in control of your future as you think you are.

I’m still making resolutions. But they’re private, and I suppose, selfish. They serve no-one but me and those closest to me, and are written in a diary – there’s not a letter of them on social media, not a glimpse of a line, and there won’t ever be. I won't be rounding up 2018 to assimilate my success - or lack thereof.

There is more to reap from a year than an image of some ticked boxes.

The beauty of life is that we're free to make our own choices. It’s not always up to us if they play out, but we can have a hand in persuading the future - but we don’t need to wait until the first of January to do that. If you’re that passionate about changing or chasing something, you can start now - just make sure you're doing it for yourself. And if you take anything away from this post, take this:

If you want to make changes, do them now - whenever now is - and do them for you. Don't lose yourself in the hunt for digital glory - there's more to life than a post brimming with 'love' from faceless strangers.

Image c/o Cherry Laithang, Unsplash

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Imperfections


It's far too easy to get caught up in fantasy when you're seeking perfection. You need a strong mind to deal with social media - not just when fielding other people's comments and criticisms, but with your own internal voice, too.

I've spoken about this topic on my Instagram recently, and thought it was something that deserved a full write-up (and probably seven more blog posts on top of that). I felt trapped by social media. I was focusing on numbers and statistics - obsessing over my follower count, my post engagement and the frequency of my uploads. But, aside from the digits, what really shook me was that my own desire to create content had left me. I had completely lost touch with what I was doing, who for, and for what reason. And it was horrible.

So I did what I knew how: I posted on Instagram, and admitted to my (freshly depleted) followers how I was feeling. I felt like owning up to it was the only way I could draw a line, and start again. The reaction that followed was unlike anything I ever imagined. The relationships I had forged with total strangers across the globe came to speak up, offering advice and support. It was a post with comments that brimmed with encouragement - and for the first time in a long time, I looked past the numbers and thought about the people instead.


Social media is fickle. Algorhythms get messy, and one post that's just as good as the next gets less engagement for no reason. The figures do not dictate your worth, or your success. When I look over that post, I don't look at the number of likes or the overall total of comments, I read the messages from the actual people who spoke to me. They helped me see the bigger picture - the picture I had lost whilst I was too concerned with why my pictures suddenly weren't doing as well as they once had. 

If you ever feel detached from social media, and feel that you don't know your place - relax. It's totally fine, and happens to more people than you realise. All you can do is stay true to yourself, create content that you are proud of, of things that inspire you. Remember who you started your account for - it wasn't for the thousands of anonymous likers - it was for real people. Stay true to yourself, and your content, and let the numbers fall to the wayside - and remember what is important in this life - and it will always run deeper than how many likes a photo gets.

5 Types Of Men You'll Accidentally Date




Dating is an unrivalled experience full of firsts, butterflies and a few never-again moments. Sometimes, we end up dating someone that we later realise was a
bit of an accident. So, get some chalk and let’s tally – how many of these scenarios have you experienced so far?

#1: The (literally) Hopeless Romantic

With this guy, your romantic life is one glorious string of unnatural and pre-planned moments ripped straight from the movies and dumped into the opening credits of your relationship, where your dates are a series of Pinterest-perfect moments and candid snaps that he accidentally caught on camera.

More often than not, you find yourself somehow stood in front of his DSLR as you are pulled into an embrace worthy of a Chanel campaign, just as the light tumbles into golden hour (and then of course the timer just-so-happens to be set for 10 seconds).

Everything looks perfect.

Spontaneity is unknown in this relationship, and his ultimate dream is to have his proposal to you photographed by a love-struck passer-by, and then made viral in a hunt to find the mysterious and romantic gent who planned it all, because doesn’t everyone want a guy like that?

This guy has ideas that come alive on camera, but fail to spark when not filtered with a lens flare. He’s a beautiful mistake, but makes you feel like you’re being directed in a blockbuster instead of actually falling in love.

#2: The Wanderlust Traveller

This is beautiful, poetic; dreamlike and magical, as you meet whilst backpacking on unknown terrains and have your first kiss under feather-like sprays of mist from a waterfall.

By day you stumble upon new vistas and navigate across rivers together; by night you melt marshmallows over a campfire and snuggle beneath a web of sleeping bags and blankets. You have a whirlwind romance at breakneck speed, and vow that you’ll never need anything else in the world as long as you have each other, and commit to travelling the world hand in hand.

Somewhere along the way, he makes you forget about your real life and your commitments back home; your career gently melts away along with your love for social media and everything marble..until ten hours later when you land back home. Reality bites, and the first thing you do is order a low-fat skinny caramel frap with an extra shot from Starbucks, log onto the WiFi and start catching up on what Kim K has been up to in your absence. Your wanderlust starts to ebb away, and soon you’re exchanging emojis with a new Tinder match.

Wanderlust guy isn’t a mistake, he’s just someone who clashes with your lifestyle. Because as much as you enjoy the outdoors and living the natural life, you also really enjoy the four walls of Topshop.

#3: The one that still says “Lol”

This mistake happens shortly after the time your friend says the words “maybe you are just asking for too much”.

You convince yourself that you are prepared to lose the “must have a good grasp of language” attribute and no longer swipe left for the guy who uses the wrong “their” in their Tinder profile (all the while secretly trying to work out how you can slip a casual grammar lesson into conversation).

Ignoring the error, you give him the benefit of the doubt and start chatting. A few minutes in you realise you may have made a horrible mistake as he simply responds with “lol” to the fact that you have a cat named Molly. You trudge on, undeterred with your new carefree conversation attitude. A guy that says “lol” could be endearing.
It could just be his thing

Ten messages later and three more "lol” strikes and you’re out. You reason that it should only be used in irony, and then used sparingly because you are no longer a teenager trying to fill awkward silences on MSN with a crush.

You add the language criteria back to your list, roll up your sleeves and start swiping.

#4: That only-friendly-at-2am Guy

We all have this guy. The one who is part-man-part-owl, who sparks conversations late into the night and somehow has you hooked on his nocturnal attitude.

Over the years you’re still not sure if he has added anything to your life other than the development of bags under your eyes and the need for more concealer and coffee in the morning, but the rebellious teenager in you is transfixed on his mysterious existence and makes you slot your phone to loud as you itch for the inevitable midnight message.

He awakens childlike excitement inside you, and every conversation seems magical – sure, he occasionally makes you miss your morning alarm and you never know how to respond to your friends when they ask who you are texting all the time when out at night, but there is something about him that is totally addictive.

He’s the one you know you should give up. The one you wonder what will happen to when you finally meet someone outside of the realms of his virtual midnight reality.

But for now, he is great (even if he does cut your proposed seven hours of sleep in half).

#5: The ‘Writer’

You know the one. Considers himself the next Shakespeare and showers you with literary gold-dust every waking moment.

A simple “good morning” is not enough to show the level of his love for you, as he talks only in metaphor during the time when you’re desperately trying to work out if it is still night and if your alarm is a cruel mistake.

He’s got a creative soul and considers you his living muse; capturing every breath you take, the way you flick your hair and the shape of your lips to absolute precision. Sure, he’s doting, and makes even the most banal moments seem beautiful, but he’s overbearing and you feel like you have somehow employed a biographer by mistake.

Yes, he writes beautifully and magically, and yes, of course you like reading lovely words about yourself, but deep down you do just want to be able to use hashtags in conversation and reply solely with emoji when you can’t express yourself with actual words.

Maybe you shouldn’t have cast off “lol” guy after all.


Over to you..let me know in the comments which you have experienced, and who I have missed off!

Photo credit: Chris Sardegna @ Unsplash

Stop Slandering The Single Life


Being single. It’s like the Gen-Y equivalent of the Millennium Bug; destructive, all-consuming - something to be avoided.
If we scroll through our Instagram feeds, we find pages dotted with posts that quietly slander the single life. We find parodies illustrating solo Netflix binges; empty sides of a bed and screenshots documenting how we get more notifications from Apple about our iCloud being full than we do actual messages.
We have made ourselves think being single is the sole reason for our unhappiness.
In a time where we are more independent, able and intelligent than ever, how is it that our strong stance has been swapped for “requires a partner to maintain happiness“?
I’m single“ is more often than not met with a melancholy “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find someone soon“, like you’re admitting you have lost your dog and want some reassurance of its return.
When in reality, the statement is as regular and devoid of meaning as saying “I’m wearing jeans today“.
We’re on the edge of thinking companionship is our only key to happiness.
And like drones we desperately seek to unlock it.
We swipe left and right; flirt with empty pixels and post deliberately provoking material to grab someone’s eyes, and tempt them into a slowly dying conversation. A conversation hot with lust that will cool in ten minutes, catching hold of feelings that will dissolve as soon as the sun rises.
If life is a quick-fire game of snap, we keep matching with the wrong pairs, and make ourselves think that we’re running out of time.
Is a single life really the reason for so many millennial upsets?
If we view life with lonely eyes and walk streets without a hand to hold, we realise how easy it is to think that, by having a partner, it will grant us everything we need - the happiness we’re so desperately seeking.
When we were young, we weren’t afraid of being independent.
We threw our love out like confetti, sprinkling rooms with passion and life. Our hearts were on our sleeves - the same sleeves that helped us when we fell into puddles, or helped us back up when tripped over our feet. The sleeves that were rolled up in summer and pulled down in autumn - the same sleeves that dried our eyes when something became too much to handle.
Being single isn’t the reason for our sadness.
We need to regain that child-like euphoria and carefree hysteria we lost so many years ago, way before we became obsessed with projecting the idea that we had it all figured out.
We don’t need to be a picture-perfect version of ourselves to be happy - we just need to let go and embrace whatever stage of life we are at, single or not single, Apple notifications and all.
The Millennium Bug didn’t change anything, just like being single doesn’t change anything. Don’t let your marital status dictate your life, and stop allowing yourself to unlock happiness only when you’re one half of a plus one.
Lucy Farrington-Smith, originally written for HuffPost Women UK
Image Credit Matheus Ferrero @ Unsplash
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