Monday, 27 July 2015

5 Amazing Things The Internet Has Given Me

I am a self confessed internet addict. As I rapidly approach the 20k tweets mark, I hang my head in shame, thinking "what have I possibly been saying?!" I have quite literally two tweets for every WORD of my entire university graduate dissertation. HOW?! Barely a day goes by that my iPhone doesn't run out of battery cause I've drained it down using my unlimited free wifi. To my parents and people of their generation, the Internet mostly serves the purpose of finding a particular phone number or perhaps the opening hours of a shop, but to me and most of my generation, the Internet is everything. It sounds really sad, but I can't imagine how different all our lives would be without it. 

Here's 5 amazing things that the Internet has given me.

My blog is nearly 4 years old now. Can you believe that? I've never been someone who sticks to hobbies very easily. I'm not very good at sport, I can't play any musical instruments and I'm far too introverted for anything like drama or dance. With blogging though, I've finally found my hobby. 

It combines my life long love of writing, my passion for expressing myself though fashion and beauty and my enjoyment of creative pursuits like photography. It also helps me to nurture important life skills like setting yourself deadlines, doing things alone (like going to blogging events) and forcing yourself out of your comfort zone.

By its truest definition, I guess you could say I've been a feminist since my early teens but it wasn't til I discovered Tumblr (and subsequently a number of other feminist resources online) that I really became actively involved and began to openly identify as a feminist. I obviously knew about gender inequality my whole life but like so many, I was wary of the word 'feminism'. 

The Internet has taught me that it's something to embrace rather than shy away from and I've learned so much about feminist issues (those that directly affect me and that don't) that I'd never have known about via mainstream media. 10 years ago, I didn't know what intersectionality is, about rape culture, about FGM or body positivity and sadly, a lot of my peers still don't. The feminist pages I visit, follow and subscribe to keep my mind questioning and open to a huge range of issues that I now can't imagine not knowing and being passionate about. 

As well as my blog, the Internet provides me with loads of opportunities. Don't get me wrong, I work hard but I've gotten jobs, internships and freelance writing and styling work via the Internet which I'd never have even known about without it. God bless you LinkedIn and Gumtree!

A Wealth Of Knowledge & Entertainment
It seems obscene to me that in past years before the Internet, there was no Shazam to identify that song from that advert, no Netflix for endless TV & film entertainment, no Wikipedia to find out pointless facts and no IMDB to scratch that "what else have I seen him in?" itch. On top of that, any university work I ever did or piece I've ever written would've been massively different without the Internet. I know my generation is very spoiled for choice and often we face an information overload but the thought of finding out about anything without the use of the World Wide Web seems insane to me!

Thanks to the Internet, I have made, and kept up with a whole host of amazing people. 
From my blogging friends that I speak to every day are always just a tweet away to provide advice and support or just a chat or a laugh, to old friends who I've reconnected with on Facebook, or co-workers from jobs from my teens which I still keep up with and see regularly thanks to our Facebook group chats. A lot of older generations would say the Internet and technology devalues genuine relationships and takes away from real social experiences but that couldn't be further from my experience.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Lessons From An All-Girls Catholic School

Being a teenage girl isn't easy. Getting good grades, making informed decisions about your future, being cool, trying to learn about yourself. it's hard work. Doing all this without the gender balance of teenage boys is questionably even harder. Here's some of the lessons that 6 years of all girls education taught me...

Sexuality, shexuality!
Believe it or not, I'm not gay *because* I went to an all girls school. It seems absolutely absurd to me that people seriously think that, aged 11, girls would decide 'Yep, I'm gay, I'm going to send myself to an all-girls high school to try and score myself a future missus.', I'm sorry to burst the bubble but it doesn't quite work that way. I went to the primary school (which was mixed gender) so naturally it only made sense to then go into the high school. Plus it's one of the best state schools in Scotland in terms of exam results and the closest to our house, so why would I? 

Girls Are Bitches, Boys Are Bitches, Everyone's A Bitch, Life's A Bitch
You'd expect all girls schools to be bitchy, right? Because females are inherently bitchy and males aren't, right? Dream on. Bitchiness was rife at my school, put any group of hormonally charged, insecure teenagers in a confined space, throw in the pressure of exams and making decisions about your futures as well as the usual teen worries of sex, body image and being 'cool' and it's no surprise that there's bitchiness. But I don't believe that's down to our gender. All genders bitch, it's natural. For the most part though, there wasn't many arguments or physical fights at my school, nothing compared to how I've heard other schools were.

Most of my classmates were and still are confident and loud and if they had a problem, it would get discussed face to face (or via notes getting passed in class) instead of behind peoples' backs. Swimming for six years in a sea of girls makes you ballsy and opinionated and hard to shut up. We never had to fight for male approval so we learned that we could think and say as we wanted and wouldn't be silenced by our male counterparts. 

Feminist Ideal? Feminist Reality
By it's truest definition, I've probably been a feminist since my early teens. Then though, it didn't ever strike me as feminism. Being a female in a female focussed environment whereby we were encouraged and supported in our aspirations and dreams, it was alien to me that that wasn't the norm. Retrospectively, that was a great way to be educated because the idea that women should have the same opportunities as men should be natural and unquestioned. It wasn't until after I finished high school that I got properly into feminism and discovered that how I'd always thought wasn't as natural to everybody as it seems to be to me and my classmates. 

In an environment whereby gender was never made an issue of, inequality in gender rights and responsibilities was never much made an issue of either. We were all female and we were all equal. I can't imagine how different a person I'd be today and how different my outlooks on feminism would be had I had to struggle with gender inequalities in my education.

You Can Never Be Too Open Minded
Being educated in a very religious environment was experience. We said prayers at assemblies and had crosses and paintings of the Virgin Mary were round every corner. However, being single sex, there was a high proportion of Muslim students too. Personally I'm not religious, nor have I ever really been. I don't know why that is, but I think is anything, being around religion so much made me keen to question things. Why should I believe in this magical man in the sky? The repression of religious made me feel suffocated and as I result, I'd say I'm now a very open minded person. It's fine to be any gender, race, religion, sexuality, colour, shape, whatever, just as long as you're a nicer person.

Two of my oldest friends, two of just a small group of people from high school who I ever still see or speak to!
Side note - what on Earth was I thinking with that fringe?

Independence is key
The running joke that girls don't don't anything alone, the most cliche example would be going to the loo. Women travel in packs, or so I've heard. As a child or teenager, I was never really one to stray away from the crowd. I craved normality, I didn't want to be any different from everyone else. However, being educated in such a script environment made me realise the importance of individuality and independence. We don't all have to be well mannered, well behaved and well  presented in our clone-like uniforms. In fact, it's better that we're not all the same.

I can count on one hand the people from school that I still speak to in real life and quite honestly I don't really regret not keeping up with more classmates. We were friends then but if we were meant to be friends in adult life, we would be. School creates the illusion that seeing our friends every single day is a good thing, while in reality, I'm not sure it is. It's the intensity of these teenage friendships that make them so fragile and probably plays a big factor in why a lot of us don't keep up with our school friends. The majority of my friends these days are from uni or work or other random places and I think for the most part, not seeing them every since day is probably best. Maybe I'm just a recluse, but at least I'm an independent recluse!

It's Nice To Be Important, But It's More Important To Be Nice
It wasn't til the end of high school and life following it that I realised that the high school movie stereotype of the cool kids actually exists. Schools in Britain have that? Who knew! This really came as a shock to me. Sure, there was a bit of name calling now and then, but there definitely wasn't the silence descending as the cool kids entered the lunch room, strutting like a runway model to the popular table as all the less being stared in awe and jealous.

I'm not saying everything was always harmonious at my school but for the most part, people either got along as much as they needed to or stayed out of each other's way. That's the best way to be in life I've found. You do you, let them do them. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

London Photo Diary, Savage Beauty and Les Miserables

Hi blogsville! You might've noticed I didn't publish a post on Friday as usual. It's not because I don't love you any more, but rather because I was away in London for a few days. Although this was my 5th trip, London has endless things to see, do, explore, discover, eat, drink, shop and absorb so I hope you understand that time doing that was more important and precious than time spending blogging! As I don't travel very often (yey for being scared of flying!) I thought it'd be fun to share some photos and highlights from my trip - enjoy!

My first time on the East coast line didn't disappoint - beautiful scenery and sunshine definitely make long journeys less boring.

The most flowery pub in London. I kind of want to do this to the front of my house now but it's never last in Scottish weather!

London is pretty much an entire city of endless branches of Pret A Manger. If you're in a public place (shop, restaurant, train station etc,) there legally needs to be a viable fire exit sign from anywhere you could be standing - I'm pretty sure London has adapted this rule in regards to Pret A Manger! 

Just your classic tourist photo - Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the London eye and the Thames. Unfortunately the House of Commons isn't sitting at the moment due to Summer holidays or we'd have popped into the public gallery for a listen it, it's something I've always wanted to do. 

Hyde Park, what can I say? Beautiful on a beautiful day and plenty to see - The Serpant Gallery, The Princess Diana memorial foundation, The Albert Memorial, the Italian gardens, pedal boats to hire - but very big and flat compared to the parks of Scotland, where's the landscaping? Where are the flowers? 

Libertys of London - my favourite shop in the world. One day, I will work here. One day...


As well as just wondering around absorbing London vibes, there were two definitely highlights of my trip - seeing the 'Alexander McQueen : Savage Beauty' exhibition at the Victoria & Albert and my first experience of the West End in the form of Les Mis no less!

I love visiting exhibitions but most of those in Glasgow are of local artists or watered down versions of touring ones. On a previous trip to London, I visited the Tim Walker exhibition in Somerset House and in February I saw the works of Andy Worhol in Liverpool's Tate Gallery, so when I first heard about Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty exhibiton at the Victoria & Albert in London, I know I had to go. The original works of McQueen are some of my favourite pieces in fashion history and he has always been a source of inspiration and creativity to my own work, especially when I was studying fashion at university. His visions and beautifully conflicting themes are always so clear in his collection and his attention to detail and appreciation for finely tuned craftsmanship is something that any sewer, designer or dressmaker can only dream of.

The exhibition features pieces from a number of his collections from his St. Martin's work to his final collection before his passing in 2010 and loads in between, both RTW and couture or custom made one off pieces. I loved how it was presented in clear 'look's rather than in collections - although often those two overlapped. I'd really recommend the exhibition to anyone who has an interest in fashion, design or art or just wanted to be a part of the more successful exhibition in V&A history.

Secondly, my first ever West End experience. I've loved muscials, both stage shows and films since I was a kid and it's always been a huge dream of mine to see something, anything, on the West End. Les Miserables as my first show? Oh why not? As the longest running West End show and a completely iconic show, I've loved it ever since I saw the film and the show didn't disappoint at all. The amazing music, the incredible staging, the laughs, the cries, all so amazing!

Every time I visit London, I find new and exciting things to do. Any recommendations? Let me know below!

Monday, 6 July 2015

2 Years On : Do I Regret Going To Uni?

The TimeHop app. can be funny, nostalgic, embarrassing or, in my case this weekend, scary. On Saturday just gone, it was 2 years since I graduated from university. In some ways, it feels like a million years ago, like the idea of being a student is a distant memory from a past life while in others way, I still feel like at some point or other, I'll be going back after this massively extended Summer break to start another year of hungover lectures, finishing essays at 5am and spending more time in the library than at home. Truth is though, this isn't a break between years of university, and as I don't plan return to education, especially not in the near future, I guess you could say I'm a graduate. Yes, that's right, I am a graduate. Somebody awarded ME a degree. Crazy stuff, eh?

Like most creative industries, fashion relies for heavily on gullible young people willing to work their asses off for little or not pay and exploitive employers trying to pass it all off as invaluable experience. Because 'invaluable' and 'unpaid' are apparently interchangeable terms. I've done a few internships alongside uni or work, some paid, some not, but all of which I've enjoyed and learned from. However, I'm now 24, and I'm in no position financially to give up a permanent full time job to pursue unpaid temporary work and sadly fashion industry really doesn't cater to the likes of me, aspiring and hard working but realistic. It often weighs on my mind, had I not gone to uni, but instead spent that time making the most of being young, living the home and willing to work for free, I could be somewhere very different now. Part of me thinks 'yes, I should've done this, imagine what I could've been doing now' while another part thinks 'hell no, I'm worth more than being free labour, I'd rather an honest day's pay for an honest day's work '. Either way, I didn't do that, instead I choose to go to uni and in some ways, I regret it.

I've worked for the same retail brand since my first year in university. 18th November 2009 to me exact. At 24, it's quite rare to have been with a company for nearly 6 years. For the most part, I like my job, I've met a whole host of amazing, talented and hard working people, made some great life-long friends, learned a lot (career wise as well as just general life skills) and have just finished their management training programme. Having studied for a degree in Fashion Business, my job does pull on certain aspects of my degree although it's not a graduate job. However, having graduated two years now, I often wonder what'll be next for me. I love fashion and love retail, but I could've skipped the whole degree thing and would probably be much further ahead by now.

Another thing, a lot of people leave uni with a bunch of life long friends and loads of invaluable experiences that adult life just cannot give them in the same way that student life can. Me? I have a few friends from uni that I catch up with periodically, but none of them are close friends of mine above and beyond our time at uni. As for the majority of the life experiences I got under my belt for those 4 years of my life? They came from my social life, not from uni. During my time at university, especially during my final year, I had became so utterly sick off it all, and my mental health wasn't great. I was only continuing on with it all because it was so near to the finish line but retrospectively I now see how much it was all getting to me and how it would've been much healthier for my education and my mental health to just quit (or at least postpone) while I was ahead.

While I'm very proud of my degree and all the hard work that I put into getting it, it still haunts me a little that that period of my life wasn't spend as well as it could've been, to benefit me as a person or my career. I wouldn't say I wish I hadn't gone, cause perhaps it was going that made me realise how that I'd been better not having gone...