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Sorry Caroline

Going after journalists and media in the wake of Caroline’s death in my eyes is counter-productive. All of the ‘be kind’ posts have been eye opening but have also had a profound effect on my own mental health.

On Saturday when I found out that Caroline Flack had committed suicide I felt instantly saddened and in some respects guilty. She was a topic in a few of my WhatsApp groups and I had just said to a friend that I had been so enthralled in the winter episodes, I’d forgotten what Love Island was like with her. I felt shame about my career and Caroline then turned into every person I had interviewed and every quote I had used.

Working in and with media is not a job for the faint hearted. For starters brutal hours for little pay and recognition. As a print journalist, unless you are working directly for a national newspaper, you can be sure no one will really know you from Adam. It’s a constant fight for the biggest, most scandalous stories and clawing your way through the ranks working god awful hours in cities miles away from where you live.

I started off as a local reporter and as much as they get a bad rep in their respective areas, local journalism is the most wholesome part of the industry in my opinion, especially the independent papers.

After moving my way through the ranks I decided I wanted to get my teeth stuck into big national stories, and not be tied to the boundaries of sleepy village areas. It was daunting but exciting and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I worked for a news agency who collect stories and sell them to the national papers. I got my first national by-line on my 26th birthday last year in the Daily Star. It was a fluffy story about a sausage dog who helps student’s mental health at university and I was thrilled. After my first week however the pressure came piling on.

Every Monday we had a brainstorming meeting where we were expected to have a long list of stories (news lists) we were chasing and a rough time table of when they would be ready for publishing. If my news list was anything less than ten stories you could be sure that you would be sent some ideas and things to chase up.

The big thing was the story had to be quirky, out of the ordinary or shocking, and if it wasn’t you could guarantee that the news editor would find an angle they wanted you to push or a quote we had to get out of the sources mouth.

Journalists are trained at university on how to get people to go down the angle they are working to, and if they haven’t picked that up then the news editor will push and push until they get what they want out of the story. If you don’t get the required angle, the story will be dropped and you wouldn’t have had anything published and therefore vulnerable in your job.

As well as finding these stories, we would keep our eye on national tragedies and get every cough and spit out of those that we could. In my third week I was asked to knock on the door of a woman who lost her 16-year-old son in a knife attack. It had been less than 12 hours since he died.

I remember ringing my mum and asking her what she would do in that situation and she said “I don’t think I could be held responsible for my actions if a journalist showed up on my door 12 hours after I lost my child.” It was heart-breaking but I had been hired by the national papers, and I was not able to refuse to do my job.

1) Because at university we are taught death knocks are part and parcel of the job.

2) I wanted to excel in my career.

3) Like everyone else, I needed the job and the money to survive.

I knocked on the door and there was no answer so I felt quite relieved. I rang my editor and told them what had happened and I was sent a number for the mother and I was to ring her instead. I rang and there was no answer so I left a message and within the hour Greater Manchester Police rang me and asked me to leave her alone because she felt like I was harassing her. It knocked me for six and I felt sick to my stomach that I had caused a grieving mum to feel even more pain than losing her only son.

I have written many stories that have been positive and fun but for every one of those I have done two death knocks and a court case or an inquest and probably aided in adding more stress to the situation.

I am not blameless. I chose that career. But I was also not given the opportunity to say no to these stories as I would have lost my job, a career I fought tooth and nail to have. It took me a while to realise that if more journalists say no to the requests of the nationals to intrude in people’s grief, then together we could change the landscape of this industry.

But honestly people want those stories. They get the most clicks, they cause the most sales, and we as the readers need to stop digesting them if we want to see a change. Even when you click on the article to write a negative comment about it you are still making the papers money, its supply and demand, like every industry.

I didn’t write any stories on Caroline Flack, but for anyone whose personal life I may have invaded while working as a journalist I am truly sorry.

 

Slimming World protected my weight loss, but not my mental health.

I’d always been a larger kid for as far as back as I can remember. I never fitted into my age range of clothes and it’s always been a source of embarrassment to me. Even back to the point when I noticed my PE kit was age nine to ten when I was seven or eight and no one else in the class used to be. Not everyone was mean and I forced how I was feeling onto other people. I’d get a sense of dread when I saw someone pick up my clothes and then instant comfort when I saw they were tight on them.

When I got to secondary school I started slimming world. I was 11-years-old. I went with my mum and I can remember a feeling of pure joy when I lost those first few pounds, I think it was then I began a love hate feud with my food.

I was average to big all the way through school but I got a size 10 prom dress and I felt amazing. My weight never physically held me back because I wasn’t that big in the grand scheme of things but I would eat and feel immediately guilty.

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I’m on the right.

I would binge and then not eat for a day, and then binge again and the cycle repeated. By the time I was at University I had been the heaviest and the skinniest I’d ever been. And this trend has continued into my twenties.

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Looking quite skinny after university. Probably at this point living off 11p noodles.

I’m now 26-years-old and in the process of once again losing weight. The only difference is, this time it’s really coming off and I’m seeing actual changes in my lifestyle.

As good as slimming world was to initially lose weight, for me it created an unhealthy relationship with food. I would eat far more than I wanted to just because it was free or a speed food, and I would stick to my ‘syns’, or not use them at all. But then I would go for a meal out with friends and it would devastate me because I would feel all the hard work slip away.

I would go on holiday and walk back into the slimming class knowing full well I’d put on weight and have to sit there in front of total strangers while the consultant asked me where it all went wrong.

“Probably the 850 units of alcohol, all you can eat buffet, no scales to weigh my A and B choices and the fact that I went on a diet for six months straight and still felt shit in my bikini Margaret!”

Obviously I politely said to the class that it was all the food and drink, and then the consultant asked everyone what they think I could do in future to protect my weight loss in future.

Protect it, like it is a precious commodity that must be the be all and end all of your life’s purpose. This is what I cannot deal with. This is the sort of negativity that I really don’t need when I am working on myself physically. It’s a hard slog and you shouldn’t have to feel bad when you put on weight.

At the moment I am eating intuitively. I eat what I want when I want and the weight is falling off me. I’ve realised I don’t have to make and oaty yoghurt gloop for my breakfast and force it down even though I’m not hungry. I don’t have to “load my plate with a third worth of speed food” when I’m not hungry or even fancy green beans. I don’t have to eat bread and cereal bars because I have a B choice left to use. I just eat when I’m hungry and I stop when I’m full.

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Last year I was a lot heavier.

And that’s been the real challenge. Stopping. It’s taken me a while but I’ve cracked it. After a meal you should feel satisfied not sick. And it’s the same feeling as when you are hungry and you are in town shopping and you stop for a Greggs sausage roll. Your hunger subsides, you think “God that was nice, really enjoyed that,” and you carry on with your shopping. Every meal is like that for me.

I’m no doctor, I don’t know if this is a good way to be, I don’t know if it’s healthy but I feel 100 times better since I started listening to my body and my body feels 100 times better and I’m being rewarded with big weight losses every week.

I posted a couple of months the boiled egg diet that I did for six days and lost twelve pounds. Yes, it boosted my weight loss, yes, for an event I’d probably even do it again but on a long term basis it is unsustainable and probably very dangerous.

I’ve been intuitively eating for seven weeks now and in that time I’ve lost 1 stone 2lb. It might not be as impressive as almost a stone in a week but I have not once felt deprived, or hungry, or like I was forcing food down me for no reason.

I don’t want to bash Slimming World because I lost three stone odd using their tactics but I think for me I needed to protect my mentality and not my weight loss.

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Sorry for the Silence

I’ve not written anything on here for a long time. I always thought that when something devastating happened in my life I would be inspired to pen to paper and create something deep and meaningful as a sort of memoir, but it turns out, I’m not that kind of person.

The past two months I’ve found out more about myself than I had done in two years. I always thought I was weak, emotional, someone you couldn’t rely on in a crisis but it turns out I’m just the opposite.

I am strong, I can put on a brave face, and I call rally the troops if needed and to be honest the biggest thing I’ve learnt is how much I underestimate myself.

This time four years ago, I started a job where no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t reach the next level. I couldn’t get a promotion. I couldn’t blag an interview and I saw myself living a life in a job I didn’t particularly like for the rest of my life. The thought terrified me and I knew I had to do something.

I didn’t realise it then, but that thought was the catalyst for every moment in my life since. Every decision I’ve made, whether it be work, home, relationships I’ve had my future in mind.

Then a decision was taken out of my control and although my immediate reaction was panic, it soon subsided, and I thought, yet again, how I can come back from this? How can I turn this moment into a pivotal point in my life? How can I look back in four more years and think “Well done for doing that because now I’m here.”

So if something devastating happens, a relationship break up, getting fired, a fall out with a friend, think about how you handle this because you never know what good can come out of a rubbish situation.

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I lost 12lb in SIX days.

So, the month of March brought 10,000 steps per day and the month of April is the month I started my diet!

Yes I know you’ve heard it all before but I’m in the zone.

And for the first week of April I started an extra strict, extra fun (not) diet and I lost a whopping 12lb in six days.

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Yes, six days, and 12lb. In that week I dropped almost a stone and a dress size and I’m going to tell you every last morsel of food and drink that passed my lips.

First of all, I have to say before you undertake any diet, check with your doctor. It’s important to make sure that you are fully checked because this diet especially has A LOT of eggs and eggs can cause a wide variety of side effects in people and I don’t want any incidents on my conscience!

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Secondly this diet is not for the faint hearted. It’s boring. It’s repetitive. It’s sometimes gross. It makes you fart. It stops you pooping. It makes you poop. It makes you eat breathe and sleep eggs and you will start sprouting feathers before the week is out.

The diet I followed was supposed to be for two weeks, but I was almost sick on the 7th day and I started to feel faint. I’d also lost such a large amount of weight that it didn’t seem safe to do for a second week.

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The main thing I learnt is how much crap I eat; how many unnecessary calories I consume from sauces and snacks that I don’t actually need. It also made me realise that I don’t drink nearly enough. The two litres of water I drank every day not only filled me up and curbed any hunger pangs, it also cleared my skin dramatically. MY face has never looked clearer.

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Another big thing for me was cutting down my coffees, I was drinking so many before and it really adds up. I realise now it’s better to have fewer nicer tasting coffees than one mediocre coffee. (Read my coffee review here)

It also made me look at my body differently and made me want to really look after myself from the inside out.

 

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I’ve joined Slimming World now and will continue to eat healthily but from a diet where there are no restrictions. I felt it was important to get back into healthy eating habits so that I don’t put all that weight back on.

This is not a diet to do for very long and I’m not promising you will all lose the same as me but I think you will see a big difference.

Check out my before and after here.

I have made a little printable for you if you want to do it yourself. The calories are estimated as obviously I can’t weigh it for you.

RochelleHughes.com

HUGHES REVIEWS: Balmforth and Co Coffee

I was lucky enough to be gifted some treats from Balmforth and Co, a Yorkshire coffee company based in Barnsley.

Now Yorkshire is well known for their banging brews, but normally of the tea variety. (Don’t @ me with your southern fortnightly teas… 2 week… get it… haha).

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Balmforth and Co

Anyway, they let me try their breakfast brew and I have to say it was absolutely lovely. If you like a heavenly dark roast with a caffeine kick then this is the coffee for you.

I used to think of filter coffee as a bit of a treat, as it can be messy to clean up and seems a bit of a faff , but after a couple of weeks it stopped feeling like that, and felt worth every extra second of effort. Freeze dried coffee stopped tasting as good and definitely didn’t wake me up in the same way this did.

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Coffee Addict

The favourite thing about the taste is that coffee is allowed on most diets, so I could be extra strict and have a delicious tasty coffee and it felt like a treat. It meant that I stuck to my diet religiously, and treated myself to a full bodied coffee instead of a full bar of chocolate.

Not only was the coffee lovely, but I noticed that there was no plastic in my delivery, a real plus point for me.

The company, founded 50 years ago, has been carbon free for more than ten years and their cups and coffee bags are all sustainably sourced. On top of that their coffee is Fairtrade which means that the farmers they work with not only build a better quality of life for their family and community, but also invest in the future of their farm and into a better quality bean.

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It’s important to be mindful of these things especially in the current climate and I think it’s fair to say that this company is paving the way for other less commercial businesses. Their product lives up to their ethos and I think that is so important.

They sent me a reusable flask as well which has been a god send, as it means I don’t just get to enjoy it at home I can have it on the go.

So yes, there are many places throughout Yorkshire who stock Balmforth and Co’s eight blends of coffee. Visit their website for more details here.

HUGHES REVIEWS: THE NEWS

Catchy headline, I know.

So I’ve been working in journalism for the past two and a half years and I absolutely love current affairs. If you had said that to me when I started my degree I would have said don’t be silly, because even though I was studying journalism I had no real interest in watching the news or reading the papers.

I can’t believe I am admitting that but genuinely if it didn’t directly affect me I wasn’t interested. I thought I was going to be a Carrie Bradshaw, writing columns about a wild sex life and fancy designer clothes that I afforded with my witty writing.

It was a wake-up call when I got into my second year of university and started work experience at my local paper. It was then that I realised that no one was going to take my crap. By the end of my work experience I’d been bitten by local news and it poured through me like venom. I wanted to give a voice to the little people. I wanted to tell other people’s stories because my god I was boring.

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After two and a bit years at locals I decided I wanted to spread my wings and get my teeth into bigger stories, national stories, international stories if I could.

My job is to report what is going on in the world and not have an opinion on it. It can be really challenging at times to keep schtum about what I really feel and it’s even harder that I have to give a right of reply to everyone, even if I think they are undeserving. But all the while I remember that I want to be a good person and a journalist and although people may not believe me, it can be done.

Yes we invade people’s privacy to some extent and yes we can word things in a dramatic way but believe me when I say we have the public interest at heart.

Would we put these stories out if we didn’t think they would be consumed by the public? We write the stories the masses want to read. We write the stories that people have badgered us to put out. We write the stories that people want to know more about. And you cal say whatever you like about the press, we take some real beatings but we still come to work the next day, put more unpaid hours in than you’ll ever know and we hope to god that at least one person reads it and thinks… “Wow, that was a good read. I’m glad I know that now.”

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I consume so much news and have so many conflicting ideas about stories that by the time I finish an article I’m none the wiser as to how I feel.

I also hear and see a lot of horrible things, so much so that my colleague suggested that by the time we retire we will probably have PTSD trying to work through the emotions, gore, conflict we experience in our job. I can completely appreciate that because we really do have to see some horrendous things.

I appreciate that papers have political standings and that the journalists who work at those papers may not agree with what they write but they know the audience and they put their own views on hold for the masses.

I think all I’m trying to say is, next time you go and slag off an article online or blame the press for what they are doing; just think about why you clicked on that story.

Think about why you chose that newspaper.

Think about the amount of content you consume and the time and effort it takes to compile.

Think about the rules and regulation journalists have to work to (there is 17 sections to the editors code, plus media law)

And think about how great it is that we live in a society where there is freedom of the press. We may be confined to rules but they benefit everyone. Read an established news source and stop screaming fake news. If it was that easy to make up a story, I’d be out of a job.

#tenyearchallenge

The ten year challenge is the fad/craze/hype doing the rounds on the internet at the moment. It encourages everyone, including myself delve into the 2009 archives and see how much we have changed.

Back in 2009 I was in my final year at school and to everyone I probably looked like a normal girl, fairly bright, a fair few friends, revising hard for those all important GCSE grades (that I have not used or shown anyone for ten years but whatever), the point is I looked fairly normal.

The truth however is a much different story. In 2009 I lived with my mum, and my dog spot in a house a few miles away from my school meaning that I had to get the bus, which was absolutely fine. I used to like sitting and listening to music and just having a bit of time to relax before school.

I also really loved drama and performing, and would concentrate a tremendous amount of time learning my lines for plays and monologues to ensure I got a good grade.

But I also seemed to attract a lot of drama as well and there was always something kicking off and I always felt like I was at the centre of it.
I got called a liar for the most of year 11 for a couple of reasons, both of which were not lies, but on the off-chance they find this blog I won’t mention.

Also at the time as a family we were struggling with finances, nothing to be ashamed of but it was hard watching my mum feel like she was letting me down when in actual fact she was shaping my future and showing me how to be strong and independent and that there was always a way out of difficult situations.

But I was sad, and I felt as though there wasn’t many people I could depend on to truly be there for me, and I started to build up my defences.

After school finished, on my first day of college,  my step mum died and that hit me hard too. I kept it all inside and later in my first year of college my other grandad died.

It was some time in this year that my mum found a series of notes that I’d stuffed in a hot water bottle cover that I wrote to her in case anything happened to me.

I don’t think I ever planned to do anything but I thought if one day, if it all got too much and something took over me,  I didn’t want her to be left with no explanations.

She was devastated that I felt so bad, but it was such a turning point in my life because I felt as though a weight had been lifted and I wasn’t storing those sad thoughts in my bedroom anymore. They were in the open and they didn’t seem so world consuming.
People give teenagers such a hard time saying that they haven’t had any life experience, or that they don’t know what feeling bad is because how could they possibly feel bad when all they do is go to school, but what adults fail to remember, what even I fail to remember is that at that age you are just piecing your life together.

You are trying to work out how to deal with rejection, criticism, your body changing, outgrowing friends, breaking up with boyfriends, breaking up with girlfriends, getting crappy grades, revising and having a social life. It’s really hard and unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Roll on ten years and I am twenty-five, moved out of my home town to live with my absolutely amazing boyfriend and working as a full-time journalist.


Things that are the same as when I was 15:

  • Still get spots… don’t know how that’s fair.
  • Still enjoy All Time Low/ YouMeAtSix/ Kids In Glass Houses.
  • Still get sad when I fall out with a friend (although it happens a lot more infrequently now),
  • Still have dark days but not that dark, I’d call 15-year-old me’s dark days black, and mine are more of the colour when you go to the toilet but you haven’t drunk enough water. (Yum).

 

Things that seem alien to me now:

  • Couldn’t give a stuff if someone thinks I’m a liar, people write fake news on my stories everyday… do not care, still get paid thanks.
  • Getting upset over MSN.
  • Not talking to my friends about my feelings.
  • Having more than ten close friends, it’s just not plausible with a full-time job.

 

Anyway here is my way overdue ten year challenge photo, it’s so great that it got put on my 16th birthday cake.

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Meltdowns Don’t Always Mean Mental Health Issues

Amanda Bynes has #broketheinternet with her recent interview in Paper magazine and I will be the first to say fair play to her!

When I was younger I was never really that big of a fan of her but I always ended up watching her films which to me is a sign of an actress who knows what she is doing.

She also brought Channing Tatum into our lives and for that, we are eternally grateful.
But when she had her rather public drug-induced meltdown she was right in what she said in her interview.

“It definitely isn’t fun when people diagnose you with what they think you are,” Bynes says, in reference to countless headlines over the years that attempted to put a psychological label to her behaviour. “That was always really bothersome to me. If you deny anything and tell them what it actually is, they don’t believe you. Truly, for me, [my behaviour] was drug-induced, and whenever I got off of [drugs], I was always back to normal.”

I know that for some people, mental health issues mean they are more likely to turn to substance abuse, whether that be drink or drugs, but people with no mental health issues also use those substances.

I can honestly say that there have been occasions where I have had too much to drink and acted completely out of character but I don’t think it needs diagnosing as a mental health issue.

During those times, I have reflected on what I have done, apologised to anyone affected and made the conscious decision to not get that drunk again.

And in all honestly, days, weeks, months down the line sometimes I do get that drunk again.

Now before anyone twists my words there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a mental illness and I think it is brilliant how much more open we are with talking about them but I think with that openness comes a crowd of people who love labelling and analysing symptoms that really aren’t there.

Sometimes it is more harmful to continually tell someone that they have a psychological problem then them actually having a psychological problem.  I think a few people nowadays feel there has to be a reason for every unusual or strange act but sometimes you can just have a bad day.

In her interview, Amanda apologised for the tweets that she sent out to a range of celebrities and wishes she could go back in time but she can’t and I think we could all take a leaf out of her book.

Sometimes we do act out of character. Sometimes we do drink too much and get into petty fights or great big fights. Sometimes it has nothing to do with drink and you can severely misjudge a situation, or act irrationally, but in those moments, if it’s possible, apologise and move on.
I think Amanda showed a lot of courage owning up to her shortcomings and apologising for them and it’s really made me more determined than ever to do that myself (or hopefully just not act out of character for the foreseeable future).

Sexual Harrassment is Alive and Kicking

It’s a sad turn of events when politicians are fighting to stop sexual harassment being the norm for girls in the UK.

It’s even more sad when I look back at myself growing up and realise that it’s most definitely the truth.

I’m going to take you back to 2011, I’d just turned 18 and going out every weekend was a given. I would opt for an earlier Saturday shift at work and go shopping in town and pick a nice outfit* to go out in.

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Embarrassing but absolutely necessary 18th birthday photo.

*nice outfit to go out in was always something skimpy that showed off my curves and the higher the heels the better. I finally learnt my lesson regarding the extremely high heels around the fifth occasion I broke my ankle.

I would call whoever I was going out with to see what time we were getting ready for, drink half a bottle of wine each, and head on out.

I was young, I was single. I was having a good time with my friends, dancing and drinking in a club, but every single time I went out you could guarantee that one or both of us would flash each other a look while we were dancing.

That look meant: “This guy behind me is running his hands where he shouldn’t. This guy is freaking me out. This guy needs to get the hell off me.” and we would move to get away.

If he followed we would say get off, and move again.

If he followed yet again we would make up some stupid excuse that we were in a relationship, or married, or in a lesbian relationship together.

And back then, that was that.

We’d still go out the following week. We’d still be harassed the following week. We’d still not really do anything about it because it was part and parcel of going out.

The men who’d do it would think we should find it flattering . I mean THEY found US attractive. WE got dressed up to the nines of course we want attention.

WRONG.

Fast forward seven years, I’m now 25 and MPs are rallying to make sure that girls growing up knowing that this is wrong.

And not just wrong if you are in a relationship. Not just wrong if you are in plain boring clothes. Wrong full stop.

Women should be allowed to wear a sexy outfit and feel sexy without fear that they will be groped or worse.

Women should be allowed to be single and go out with their friends and if thy don’t want any more interaction say NO and that be that.

It makes me sad to think that when I was younger I didn’t know this and that because it happened so often it was portrayed as flattery.

It is never a compliment for someone to grind up behind you/touch your arse/grope you without your consent.

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Fully dressed and still ‘asking for it’

And it still happens now, but I am a lot more aware and have taken a much firmer approach. Earlier this year my friend and I and our partners were out in a pretty casual pub. A load of old school tunes came on and we couldn’t contain our excitement and we had a bit of a dance. There was a guy who was pretty drunk and he kept dancing near me and started to put his hands out as if he was going to touch me and I side stepped. My boyfriend gave him a strong word but he didn’t get the message. He started wandering over to my friend who again side stepped his attempts at touching her and my boyfriend took matters into his own hands and the bouncers came over and assisted.

It shocked us all that he would be so forward, and it didn’t even phase him that our partners were there. I don’t know how far it would have gone if it was me and my friend.

I’m pleased that something is now being done to stop this warped world from becoming the norm, and I hope that by the time I have kids, they will be able to go out and know exactly what behaviour is right.

The fact I sent this blog to a couple of friends to check before I posted in case I was being a ‘snowflake’ just shows how far we need to go before anything really changes.

An Ode To The Simple Coffee Shop

I’ve recently got back from ten days in paradise and I read some really amazing books. The more I read, the more reflective I seem to become.

And it was yesterday when I was waiting for my hairdressers appointment that I realised that I needed to say a big thank you to the hipster millennials, to Starbucks, to Costa.

For years at school and college I followed a stupid set of rules created by teenagers locked in a pack mentality.

I wasn’t allowed to use my pink rucksack because shoulder bags were the fashion and if I wore the rucksack I would be called Dora the Explorer or a geek.

I wasn’t allowed to bring my PE kit in anything but a Jane Norman bag because supermarket bags were cheap (free in fact at the time)

I wasn’t allowed to wear a skirt because trousers were the in thing, skirts meant you were trying to flirt or be a slut.

Ties were long, not short. Socks were odd. Shoes were flat. You don’t go anywhere alone. The list was endless. But I followed them all desperate to fit in and not stand out.

Schools can be immeasurably tough, especially to someone who dares to not follow one of the rules.

But the constant ‘being in a group’ was the one I found the hardest to break out of.

And that’s where the title of this post comes in.

Everyone laughed and made fun of the sole workers in Costa tapping away on their keyboard, ordering pumpkin spiced lattes in Starbucks while updating their Instagram but what they have done, is make being on your own in a coffee shop absolutely and perfectly the norm.

And teenagers now-a-days as far as I have seen have a lot more confidence sitting in a cafe on their own. Granted they are staring at their phone, using it as a safety net because ‘God forbid anyone see you there, just sitting!’ but it’s a step in the right direction.

I recently read a book by Farrah Storr, my idol *fan-girling* called The Discomfort Zone and in it she talks about how people are to some degree a ‘social perfectionist’. She talks about these roles that we are fighting to constantly fulfil.

In the book she said: “But there is something we are forgetting: nobody cares. Not really. Certainly, not as much as we think.”

She goes on to explain that studies show that we overestimate people’s opinions of us and that we “let our opinion of what we think they think dictate the direction of our decisions”.

This thought was an absolute revelation to me and made me so aware of all the times I’ve made a decision based on what other people might think.

All of the times I had the opportunity to be authoritative at work but wasn’t for fear that someone might think I was a bitch.

The times when someone has been openly rude to me and I haven’t felt brave enough to say anything back.

The time I upset my mum by asking for a new school bag because my rucksack wasn’t COOL and I thought the other kids would laugh.

 

So after reading Farrah’s book (twice) I’ve found myself consciously thinking about the decisions I make and whether or not it is rational.

Yesterday, when I finished work I decided it was time for a hair change. I booked myself in for a patch test and when I got there the hairdresser said that my dead hair was too damaged to colour.

In my head I apologised to the hairdresser for having such ratty straggly hair and sorry for wasting their time but out loud I said “Oh that’s not great, what can we do about it?”

The hairdresser said I would need some length chopping off and then I could re-book a consultation. She also told me that the next appointment for a haircut and consultation was in an hour and a half.

Normally this would trigger an anxiety inside me  because, where would I go on my own for an hour and a half when I only have £5 spare and my phone was dead and I wasn’t wearing any make up and my hair had been officially described by a professional as dead straw!

I also had a slab of black dye behind my ear for a patch test and people were definitely going to think I don’t wash properly.

But I set myself up on an outside table, with my dirty ears and straggly hair and watched the world go by. I drank my hot chocolate (the black forest gateau one is back by the way, yum) and let everyone stare.

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No one stared by the way.

No one even glanced in my direction.

The barista’s barely even stopped their conversation between each other when I ordered my drink.

And then when I went back to hairdressers, I got my straggly ends cut off, and walked out with a confidence that I had never felt before. Not because of my new hair (although that did help) but because the only thing I need to care about is what I think and feel, not other people.

So thank you coffee shops and Farrah for creating a world where I can be exactly who I am without needing a comfort blanket in my everyday life.

Also everyone should read The Discomfort Zone. Buy it here!

(not affiliate link or ad just love the book! )