Friday, 18 August 2017

Advice To Freshers...

It's exactly a year since I got my A-Level results and secured my place at University of Sheffield to study my fave subject. Ahh how time flies.

Ever since the end of first year I've been feeling so reflective about the year. It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year, it only feels like a couple weeks ago that I packed up and moved to a city that I'd only visited twice before, and began living with nine strangers, embarking on living independently. I'm freshers recruiter for The Tab Sheffield, and seeing so many people tweeting about getting into Sheffield made me feel so emotional. I remember so clearly how I felt, but that girl feels like someone totally separate to who I am now. (cringe)

I think before you go to uni you hear a lot about how those years will change your life, or how you'll come back a different person. But it's true. Uni forces you to be ballsy. You have to throw yourself out of your comfort zone, talk to strangers to make them into friends, learn to be alone and thrive, learn how to handle a totally new level of socialising, teach yourself to be self-motivated. It gives you no other option but to grow to fit, but I think it brings out the best in you.

I don't want to just write out a boring, mushy run down of the ups and downs of my year. So instead, here's the best advice I can give to new freshers from what I've learnt.

You will be nervous, but you can trick yourself out of it

I won't lie, I almost dropped out before I got to uni. My anxiety and phobia were so so bad that I didn't think I could do it, and I was just so terrified. But everyone feels like that, but it is terrifying! Being thrown into a new situation is scary, but you have to push through and you'll soon forget that you're nervous. Offer to make a coffee for your flatmate, chat to the person in your lecture, find people on social media before you move and try to make some contacts. Act like you're not nervous, and you soon won't be.

Don't stick to your friends from home

It's pretty much guaranteed that you'll know people at your uni, whether it be a close friend or just someone you know from college. But don't spend too much time from them. It's too easy to stick to people you know like a safety blanket, but you have to get out there and spend time with your flatmates and new people. You don't want to stick too close to old friends, and miss out on the new.

Be somewhat shameless

Some of my best best best friends at uni are girls I stalked on social media and arranged coffee dates with. If you've just got your place, now is the perfect time to find your flatmates on facebook/twitter, find people on your course and get chatting. It will ease your nerves if you know people, and they could end up being your best friend ever. Literally, get on instagram and get searching your uni hashtag, or the location tag for your accommodation and follow some people. Social media is such a great tool, use it. There's no shame in making the first move and booking in some coffee dates or a pizza night, everyone else is just as nervous about making friends so be the one to make the move.

Do things

Uni offers you a ridiculous amount, everything from sports to arts, and societies for literally everything you can imagine. Going to freshers fairs and activities fairs is vital to get to grips with whats going on and integrate with the uni community, and societies are great for making friends outside your flat or subject. That's one thing I really failed at in my first year, but I'm determined to join more next year.

Explore the place beyond the uni

Uni offers loads, but the city you're in can offer more. Sheffield, in particular, has so much going on like poetry groups, gigs, talks etc. Make sure you go out and explore the city beyond your campus or immediate area. Go to all the parks and museums, walk everywhere to get to grips with the place, support local businesses; fully adopting your uni city will massively improve your time there and will give you so much more.

Make as many friends as possible

Never limit your number of friends. You have to abandon the 'squad' mentality, you can have friends in all different groups, doing all different subjects, and living in all different places. Yes have your best friend, but always make more. Never turn down an invite, always be kind, talk to everyone. But also, don't abandon your friends for anyone. Those friends will be your family, they'll be your support system and you'll be theirs, and no relationship or boy or girl or anything is worth sacrificing that. Friends first, always. 

Remember to settle down

Uni is fun, and freshers week is very very fun, but you do have to settle down. At some point you have to make your uni a home, rather than just somewhere you're staying for a while, you have to get into routines and eat healthy and look after yourself. This sounds super simple, but trust me it's harder than you think when you step out of a family setting and you have no restrictions, and no responsibilities beyond the couple hours of lectures and seminars. Eventually settling down and getting a night routine, and a somewhat decent bed time is super important for your mental health, and making sure you're eating well and caring for your body properly. 

If I hadn't gone to uni and took every chance it gave me, I wouldn't have released a book, I wouldn't be writing for The Tab, and I doubt Kiloran would've grown like it has. But mostly, I wouldn't have made the friends I have, or met some of the best people I've ever known. I've met so many inspiring, like-minded, funny, kind, amaaaazing people and I feel so lucky to call them friends. After first year I feel 100x more confident and secure in myself and my abilities. I'm less afraid, more social, and I'd like to think I've become a better person and a better friend. Best year of my life hands down, I hope the next two years go in slow-mo so I never have to enter the real world.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

No Banana Gets Left Behind...

The UK throws away £13 billion worth of food each year, including around 1.4 million bananas each day.

With around 8.4 million families in the UK struggling to feed themselves, this is such a huge issue, and so unnecessary. We're trapped in the confines of judging fruits and veg by appearance. We've all been guilty of throwing out bananas that are a little too brown, or a bit too soft for our taste. But unless you've got a compost heap, all that wastes is off to a landfill and adding to the growing issue of food waste as the gov failed to meet their targets.

The UK's household waste and recycling systems are pretty far behind. We're so stuck in our ways of just chucking stuff in the kitchen bin when we could be recycling more, and helping the environment through compost, or becoming more aware and trying to buy biodegradable packaging. Although the gov tried, launching voluntary contracts with supermarkets to avoid waste and send unsalable food to food banks, their target was missed as most shops still only sell the 'pretty' fruits and veg, and chuck food as soon as it goes past sell by. So it's up to us to try and do our part, starting at home.

A quick google and you can find recipes to use up pretty much every fruit and veg possible when it's a little past it's best. It's so quick and easy, and gives a new life to food you might have been temped to just throw out before. Enter the banana bread, the banana pancakes, the banana porridge.

I love bananas, but when you're a student, cooking and eating for yourself, it can be hard to eat them all before they get a bit too soft for my liking. So I always, always, always take to baking. It takes max 40 mins, and you've turned brown bananas into a cake to share. No waste, and a treat, WIN.

Here's the recipe I follow. It using mainly items you'll just have in the cupboard, and is vegan so you can lick the spoon to your hearts content.

You'll need...

225g of plain flour - or if you only have self-raising, you only need to use 2tsp of baking powder)
3tsp of baking powder.
100g of brown sugar.
3tsp of spices - I like to use 2tsp of cinnamon, 0.5 of ginger, and 0.5 of nutmeg.
3 super ripe bananas.
75g of vegetable oil.

How to make it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2.Mash up the bananas and mix in the oil and sugar.
3.. Add the flour, baking powder, and spices.
4. Add anything else you want - it's good with dried fruit, walnuts, or choc chips.
5. Slop it into a loaf tin.
6. Leave it to bake for around 20 mins, then stab a knife into the middle to check.

Literally so easy, and you've saved some bananas from waste. But I'm not done.

Then, when the cake is starting to get a little hard and everyones bored of eating it, there's no need to waste. Turn that banana bread into some banana bread french toast. Unfortunately this isn't vegan, but it's a good way to use up those left over eggs wasting in the fridge.

You'll need...

Left over banana bread
1 egg - add more depending on how many people you're serving.
A splash of milk.
A sprinkle of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract - this is optional, but it makes it taste 10/10.

How to make it...

1. Put a little oil in a frying pan to heat up.
2. Whisk together the egg and milk, add the cinnamon and vanilla if you want.
3. Cut the banana bread into thick slices, and soak them in the mixture.
4. Fry it up in a pan.

I served mine with some left over mango. But it's amazing with some natural yogurt, berries and syrup. This is so good, like insanely good. Make it, please. You deserve this.

But that's just the bananas. Find some ways to save all the fruits and veggies from waste; start at home then start considering your buying habits and how you could recycle more.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August Aims...

August has crept up on us, and honestly I'm glad. In short I haven't been doing so great lately so I decided to adopt the new month as a new start, as an opportunity to introduce new and healthy habits into my life, and work on areas to change. The 1st of a month is always a time to set new aims, so here are mine for August to help pick me up and power home.

Read everyday

At the start of July I set myself the challenge to finish Anna Karenina by the time uni started, and yeah it's not going great. I know when I sit and read for a while I instantly feel calmer, but I find it hard to just sit down and chill. But in August I'm going to try and take some time out of everyday to chill and work on my brain. 

Don't go on my phone before 9am

Lately I've become so aware that the instant I wake up, I go on my phone for like an hour in bed and while I eat breakfast. That's so bad, like I know how bad that is and this is the month I will stop. I'm going to try and avoid my phone until after breakfast, and stop instantly bombarding myself with social media and stress in the morning. I'm also going to get the Five Minute journal app, so when I do go on my phone I can start my day thinking about goals and thinks I'm thankful for. 

Release an issue of Kiloran

Issue 5 of the magazine I edit is on the way, expected to be released on the 13th August! So I gotta work work work.

Don't stress about exercise
Eat healthy but don't restrict

I struggle quite a lot with my relationship with exercise and food. I have such an obsessive personality, so the second I start exercising or thinking about body image or what I'm eating, it becomes a huge thing. I start to obsess over working out and what I'm eating. I need to stop that this month, I want to learn how to exercise and make better choices without it becoming toxic.
Say only positive things about others

This is a forever goal of mine and I'm still on it. Trying to have positive vibes on both the inhale and the exhale.

Plan ahead

I've been getting myself down watch other people travel and experience things, while I'm just at home working. So I'm trying to plan ahead; think about the future and plan trips and holidays to look forward to. I'm trying to let that motivate me through this month of work, and try and fight off the jealousy.

Be happy with where I am

This is both physically and mentally. I want to enjoy this last month or so at home, make the most of my hometown and soak up the downtime. But mentally, I want to learn to stress about the future and next steps less. I want to learn to celebrate present achievements and victories, rather than brushing them off too quickly to focus on the next move. And I want to learn to be okay with having sad days and down moments rather than self-bullying and causing myself to spiral. BIG GOALS, lets try.

Find joy in simple pleasures

Pretty similar from before, while I'm at home I want to try and find happiness in myself and in simple things, like morning coffee, and going out for breakfast, and doing my nails. I'm struggling to not sink into a pit of sadness and jealousy of everyone else on hols, so to combat that I'll find joy in little things and look forward.

Go on at least 2 trips

While I can't jet off on hols, I can take myself away for a day. So the aim for this month is to go on at least 2 trips, even if it's just a day out to another northern city, and even if I go alone. It's little, but it's something.

Fingers crossed I manage, and fingers crossed it boosts my mood. But I'm feeling positive for the new start, we got this.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Simple Acts Of Self-Care...

If first year taught me anything, it's the importance of small, daily acts of self-care. Looking after yourself doesn't have to be dramatic or time consuming, it doesn't need to be a full regime or anything extravagant; simple and often is always best.

For me, weirdly, I normally feel the need to carry out self-care when I'm at home. In my last post I talked about how I feel unsettled when I'm not working, so it's during this down time that I make extra effort to do things that are mindful, calming and make me feel secure and chilled. Here's a couple little things I've implemented into my life, some that I do daily, some that I just try to do as much as possible.

However! It's important to work out what 'self-care' means to you, and what makes you feel the best. For example, I know my self-care involves alone time, but if you're more extroverted, your self-care might involve socialising. Get to know yourself! Work out how to make yourself feel comforted!

Have daily 'me time'

Every day I do my makeup. This is the simplest thing ever, but I try to dedicate this time to myself, and ease myself into my day by just spending time with myself. I've learnt to leave time for this in my morning routine, even if it means waking up early, it's worth it. So I make myself a coffee, moisturise and care for my skin, then enjoy the process of putting on my make-up while I listen to some music, or normally watch something on Netflix. 

For me, this is the perfect self-care; it's calm, cosy and organised. I have my set routine that I follow, and the organised process of my routine makes me feel so so subdued and lovely. It's also nice to just have some uninterrupted down time before I start my day properly; as an introvert, time with no socialising or talking is golden.

I do this before I get dressed. Personally, I love to do all this in my underwear; it's so much more comfortable and I think spending more time naked or semi-naked is a really great way to boost your self-love and confidence by just becoming more acquainted and less phased by your body. So I normally come out of the shower, throw underwear and my dressing down and spend some me time. 


If you'd said this to me a month ago, I probably would've screamed. However, lately I decided to try and tackle some self-esteem issues by being active, and started going running. I try to run daily or every other day, alternating between running and walking. There's loads of apps that help gradually build up your stamina that have really helped me keep at it, and so far, I'm v much enjoying it. 

Again, this is great alone time that you can spend just listening to music, or you can run with a friend or family member. But either way, exercise makes you feel so much more productive and gives you a great rush of endorphines that will boost your mood. It doesn't have to be running, you could do pilates, yoga, cycling, or even just make an effort to walk more; but upping your activity helps both mental and physical health. 

Nightly down time

The complete opposite as exercise, you've gotta chill too. This is something that I've done as a child as my family have always had cool down time on an evening, and I've carried on into my adult life. Having a super calm evening and just watching TV or a film, reading, writing etc will help you relieve the stress of the day and wind down to help you sleep better. Exactly what your parents used to do when you were a baby, learning to do that for yourself is super important! I like to watch some TV with my parents, have a warm drink like chai tea and probs a biccy or two, then go up to my room and get cosy with some fairy lights to either watch a film or read. It helps me drift off easily, and it's great down time to consider how your feeling and check in with yourself and your thoughts.

Stroke your vanity a little

I dunno about you, but sometimes I want to slap on loads of makeup and see just how banging I can make myself look. This is pretty much the same as my morning me time, but sometimes it's nice to just play with makeup like you would as a child. I like to put on some trash tv like Gossip Girl or Kardashians, and do some heavy contouring. Again, this can really help boost self-esteem, make you less self-critical, and is definitely a mood boosting, calming boredom killer. But like I said before, work out what works for you!

Do mindful activities
You've probably heard a lot about mindful activities, but in short they're basically just doing things that give you time to check in with your thoughts and mood, so simple activities that require some level of concentration and attention. I like to do my nails for this. It's simple and easy, but requires calm concentration. So I dedicate some time each week, usually on a sunday when the new The Michalak's video goes on YouTube cause they're super soothing, and just sit and do my nails. Easy. Dedicating periods of time like this is SO easy but SO important. Make time for yourself.

Read for pleasure

Spending some time each week to engage your brain in something that isn't school work, or essential work or homework, is a great self-care activity. I like to take myself on reading dates with a good book and a nice coffee shop, or park on a nice day. Having alone time that still engages with your intellect and makes you feel productive is the best thing ever for spending some down time and doing self-care without feeling lazy. Also, reading is proven to help relieve anxiety and stress as it is a safe form of escapism, and combats mental decline so is beneficial in the long term. I love this, it feels like such a little treat when I get myself a good coffee and just sit for an hour or so. But you can do this anywhere that suits; in bed, on your sofa, in the garden with a glass of rose. But maybe don't choose Anna Karenina to read as I'm STRUGGLING.

However you do it, you are so important and you are worth your time. Make sure you look after yourself, and dedicate time to just making yourself feel good, and checking in with the thoughts and feelings you're experiencing that may go unnoticed in the hustle of a busy life. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

You're 19 Lucy, You've got time...

Internships finished, house all moved into, and I'm now back home with nothing in front of me but 3 months of looming summer, interrupted only by loose plans and rough dates still in pencil.

A year or two back this would've been the best thing in the world. Time off school is always the greatest thing ever when you're a kid and you're learning things you only minimally care about, or totally hate. You're school friendships are half-fulfilling and a little tainted with bitchiness, and the chance to escape that with months of holidays, days out, sleeps in, seems dreamy. But I've found myself in a situation where I'm completely in love with my life. My uni course is fascinating and perfectly suited to me, my house there feels like a home, my relationships are rich and challenging and loving, so months away is a chore.

But more than that, uni is an automatic sense of achievement, as I'm constantly working and learning. And that's the kind of person I am; I need to be pushing forward and grinding. Trying to get into an industry where a career can't be granted by a degree is scary and stressful. It's really hard to know if you're doing enough or what you should do next, there's never anyone that a perfect example of how to get the dream job as everything is so relative and too often luck dependant.

I've always had this blog, I run Kiloran, I'm an editor for The Tab, I've released a book and work hard to get as much published elsewhere as possible. But at the moment I can't shake this lingering feeling that it's not enough. I feel like I should be levelling up but I have no idea what that is, or how to do it. I'm working on issue 5, sending articles and poems off, I'm even sitting on a finished second book, and a half collection of poetry. Honestly, I'm probably doing the most, doing too much. But I've always put so much pressure on myself to do more, be better and bigger at a younger age, that it's hard to just chill. And now, without the added work of uni, the feeling is getting worse and worse, even though I'm working harder than ever on my projects, writing a lot, doing what I should be.

When I was younger I wanted to be famous. And in a way that definitely remains, but with an aim to be more respected and admired, like Patti Smith; loved but regarded as an artist. There's nothing to teach you how to do that, or any exams you can do; so I work. I'm gathering achievements that I'm proud of, but at the moment they seem to just brush over me so swiftly as I'm rushing to make another. I think I need to just relax a little. Or maybe release something new. Or maybe sit in my garden, read a book and drink some wine.

There's a lot coming from me; articles and poems dotted about, a magazine issue, and hopefully, maybe a new poetry collection in the coming months. I also want to dedicate more time to falling back in love with this blog, get back into fashion, and playlists, and film. But I want to do it out of passion, not fear.

I vow to spend the summer working and trying to gain that sense of productivity and satisfaction. But I also vow to spend the break trying to actually calm down a bit, you're 19 Lucy, you've got time.