DRAG QUEEN OF SCOTS BY LAWRENCE CHANEY - BOOK REVIEW

Saturday

Now that I have left uni and don't have to read for my dissertation anymore, I am actually enjoying reading as a hobby for the first time really. One of the books I have really enjoyed reading lately is Lawrence Chaney's first book, Drag Queen of Scots: The Dos and Don'ts of a Drag Superstar.


Lawrence chaney drag queen shipwreck look
Image from @lawrencechaney on Instagram.


If you don't know who Lawrence Chaney is, they are a Scottish drag queen who won RuPaul's Drag Race UK Season 2 and I have been a fan since watching the show. I have also seen Lawrence Chaney perform live which was fabulous.


I haven't really read a biography until this one and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I had to share my thoughts with you.


What was the book about?


The book does what it says on the tin. It is an autobiography mixed with advice for drag queens who want to start out. As Lawrence was only 24 at the time of writing, the book is about their childhood, teenage years and how they got into drag, and ultimately winning Drag Race.

Related: Women don't owe you pretty book review

After watching Lawrence Chaney KILL IT all of season 2, it was so interesting to read about their childhood. As with many drag queens, they were bullied throughout most of their childhood, mostly for being gay, being fat or being Scottish. Although it was hard to read about, Lawrence made light of this and in the end, the bullying lessened at school due to their sense of humour. Being funny and making fun of themself was a way out of being targeted and I resonate with this a lot.


After that Lawrence wrote about getting into drag and gender identity. They said at one point that they are still on a journey with gender so even though I have heard Lawrence be referred to as he/him out of drag and she/her in drag, I am using gender-neutral pronouns in this post such as they/them/theirs.


The book had a lot of content about mental health but it was a light read due to a balance of talking about important subjects whilst also injecting comedy into the book.


Should you read this book?


The answer is 100% yes! Even if you are not into RuPaul's Drag Race, it's still so interesting to read about how an ordinary person pursues their dreams and becomes a drag superstar. 

Related: 5 books I wish I'd read sooner

Have you read this book?

I'M A GRADUATE

Since starting university I have written a few blog posts about student life, so I thought I also need to write about it all being over as sad as that is.


I finished university in May but I have only just had my graduation.


If you are reading my blog for the first time, I have been studying Communication and Media at Bournemouth University for the past four years (including a placement year) and have recently graduated!


Girl in graduation cap and gown bournemouth university


About the day

First of all, there was a huge storm a few nights before the big day and we were completely without power the day before and the morning of my graduation. I had to do my hair at my grandma's house before we could make our way down to Bournemouth.

Our ceremony was at 16:30 so my parents and I went for a lovely lunch at Miller and Carter beforehand. Then, I was able to collect my gown and hat, get my professional photography done, and see all my friends.

Bournemouth university graduates in cap and gown

Bournemouth university graduates

It was an emotional day and I'm still not over it. It was amazing being able to attend graduation after the uncertainty of Covid and see my friends graduate too. But, it is so sad thinking that is the last of uni for us.
After the ceremony, where we all walked across the stage and collected our diplomas, there was free fizz and snacks in another room. Did I need the free fizz? Definitely not, but did I enjoy it. Then, my friends and I went out to celebrate.

Onwards and upwards

Since finishing uni, I have been working full-time as a Social Media and Communications Coordinator. Although I am really sad that uni is over, I will look forward to what the future holds and there are lots of positives. One being that with working full-time, I have more money to do fun things that I want to do.

A lot of people have been saying, does this mean you're a real adult now? And I am thinking, no probably not. I don't actually feel much older than I did when I started uni at 18, I am wondering if that will ever change.

Girl in graduation gown with parents

There were a lot of times at uni where I just thought is this even worth it? And there have been times where I didn't want to do it anymore. I'm sure every student has felt this. But now I can say, it was all worth it and I am so glad.

Towards the end of my degree, there were a few times where people made me feel like I was stupid and not clever enough. I don't know why, because I was clearly at university for a reason and I ended up getting better grades than these people anyway. What can I say? Karma is real.

For those of you who have been reading my blogs all the way through uni, thank you! It definitely is the end of an era but now I will cherish the happy memories I had and remember that I overcame the not so happy ones.
I am thinking of writing graduate content too so please let me know if you would like to see this.

5 WAYS TO BEAT THE POST-SUMMER BLUES

We are definitely in the swing of autumn now and a lot of people will be excited about this change, but if you're like me, you might be sad that summer is over.


There are lots of things to enjoy about autumn, nice-smelling candles, Halloween, and the lead-up to Christmas may all get you excited. However, there are natural reasons as to why you may be happier in summer.

Cars and rain drops on camera lens


The sun is great for so many things but it is also good for your mental health. Getting sunlight can increase serotonin levels. Serotonin is a mood stabilising hormone that is often known as the happiness hormone.


Naturally, as we see less sun and sunlight hours in autumn and winter, we are less exposed to the sun. This is one explanation for why you may not be as happy in the colder seasons, and this is completely normal.


Some people have what's known as SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Find out more about symptoms for SAD on the NHS website. 


I am not a mental health professional, but I am going to share some ways to help with beating the post-summer blues that help me. If you think you may have symptoms of depression, please visit your GP.


5 ways to beat the post-summer blues


1. Get out and about

When the weather is rubbish and it's dark, it can make you want to stay inside which is fine. However, knowing what we know about sunlight and serotonin levels, it's important to try and get out in the sun when you can.

Although it is not as warm as before, there is still chance to get out, whether that is for a lunch time walk or a trip to the shops.

Sometimes I find it hard to go out when I really don't want to go, but I usually feel better for doing it.

2. Natural sunlight lamp

One way to treat SAD according to the NHS is to use natural sunlight lamps. These are designed to make your room look like natural sunlight is coming through even when the weather is bad outside or if it's dark. You can purchase these lamps from a range of places including Amazon.

3. Embrace the new season

One of the main reasons I prefer summer is because I seem to like so much more about it than the other seasons. That doesn't mean I hate autumn and winter though. I try to pick out the things I like about the new seasons and focusing on that rather than focusing on why I'm sad that summer is over.

4. Plan things to look forward to

My favourite thing to do is plan things to look forward to, this always helps my mental health. This can even be small things like planning a film to watch after work. This forward-thinking helps to get you away from missing the past activities.

5. Summer can be a state of mind


It may not be summer right now and the weather may not be good enough to do a lot of activities that are usually associated with summer, but that doesn't mean you can't remind yourself of summer.

This could be as simple as using summer-scented candles. One thing that makes me really think of summer is the smell of aftersun. It's a bit weird but sometimes I put it on even in winter just so it can make me feel like I have just been to the beach.
Which season makes you the happiest?

14 NON-SCARY FILMS TO WATCH THIS HALLOWEEN

Sunday

Love or hate Halloween, there are still lots of good films to be watching this season. To be honest, I rarely celebrate Halloween. I know some people will carve pumpkins every single year but I only really celebrated it at uni when there were parties to go to.

Halloween sweets and lollies in a bowl


That's not to say I don't like Halloween, I just don't treat it how I'd treat Christmas, as I love Christmas so much! This year, I'm not really doing anything for Halloween so I will probably be watching some of the films from this list.


I'm also not a massive fan of scary films so I have created a list of non-scary Halloween films for people who maybe don't want to be too scared this Halloween.


Without further ado, here is my ultimate Halloween watch list and where to watch them.


15 non-scary films to watch this Halloween


Netflix


1. The Addams Family

This is probably the first film I would think of when someone mentions Halloween to me. It's definitely one of my go-to's at this time of year.

2. Corpse Bride


Corpse Bride was one of the films I used to watch over and over as a child. I think that probably says a lot about me.

3. Ghostbusters


Is it even Halloween if you don't hear the song from Ghostbusters everywhere you go?

4. Birdbox


Not technically Halloween-themed but one of the only 'horrors' I can watch because it's a little scary but not too much for me. There are differing opinions on this movie but I really liked the storyline and it kept me on my toes.

5. Midsommar (OK this one is a little scary)


This is probably the scariest film I have seen but that's because I don't watch horrors. It was more weird than anything else but really good and highly rated. I think it was described as a daylight horror because it's not really that scary but a lot of horrible stuff happens.

6. Labyrinth


Not technically Halloween again but David Bowie in this would make a really good costume.

Disney+


7. Halloweentown


How better to celebrate Halloween than throwing it back to your younger years? I swear this film used to always be on Disney Channel at this time of year.

8. Nightmare before Christmas


One of the better animated Halloween films, if not the best. AND it has Christmas in it as well which is perfect for me.

9. Hocus pocus


When I said The Addams Family was the film I think of when I think of Halloween, this would be the second one.

10. Twitches


Another Disney Channel Halloween film and I used to love Tia and Tamera.

11. The Rocky Horror Picture Show


This is a personal favourite out of this list!

Amazon Prime Video


12. Knives Out

Again, not technically associated with Halloween but it is a great murder mystery story.

13. The Joker

This is in here because is there ever a Halloween party where someone isn't dressed as The Joker? Also, it's a great film.

14. Us

OK, this film was a little scary for me too but the storyline was great and outshined the horror aspect of it.

I wish I could watch all 14 of these films on Halloween but it's not going to be possible, I will give it a good go though I'm sure.
What's your favourite film to watch around Halloween?

SOCIAL MEDIA DOESN'T HAVE TO BE NEGATIVE: THE LOW DOWN

Saturday

Welcome to another post in my The Low Down series, where I give you the low down on important stuff.


When social media first became a thing, it was a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. Over the years, it has developed so much that there are so many different functions and reasons to use social media. I work as a social media coordinator, so I find that I am always using it as I use it for business, but also in my free time.


Iphone with social media apps on screen

Negativity in social media


As we know, as well as being a great marketing tool and a way to keep in touch with friends, or even stay up to date with your favourite celebrities, it can also be a toxic place.


It's so easy to let social media rule your life and compare your life to the perfect lives of others, or compare the way you look to the heavily edited Instagram pictures. We have all looked at pictures and thought I really wish I had their life, right? I get it so bad with travel photos or just any boujee photos in general, I'm like I wish I was doing that right now.


But we need to remember, people only tend to share their best moments on social media. It's so easy to take it as fact and think wow that person's life is so good - why isn't mine like that? The truth is, they are probably only sharing their highlights with you.


Tips for creators


If you are a creator, the best way to exude positivity in your posts is to sometimes be a bit negative - if that makes sense. The more real you are on your platform, the more people are going to relate to you. If you share real-life things that maybe aren't highlights, this will help remind your audience that social media creators are real people.

Related: Toxic positivity: the low down

My favourite creators on Instagram, are the ones who are just honest and real. Or, it's ones who use their platform to try and normalise things that the media usually tries to push out such as larger body types and disabilities.


Tips for social media users


For anyone using social media, even if you are just scrolling, you will need to take care of what you are doing. When you are mindlessly scrolling, you are not in control of what you are taking in. You may not think anything of it, but all that you are taking in while scrolling could subconsciously be damaging.


You need to set boundaries and remember that using social media is ok in moderation. Moderate what you are looking at and try to only look at things that make you happy.


Unfollow Unfollow Unfollow


If there are accounts that make you feel negative, even if they don't mean to, you are within your rights to unfollow these people. For example, if someone is posting positive highlights about their life and it starts making you feel bad about your own life, unfollow.


You don't owe these people, even if you know them personally, you are free to pick and choose who you follow to make using social media a positive experience for you.

Related: My journey to confidence: the low down

What measures do you put into place to ensure you have a better experience on social media?

3 DAYS IN ST IVES, CORNWALL

Sunday

Earlier this month, I went on a trip to St Ives in Cornwall with my boyfriend. It was a much-needed getaway and it was also my first time ever visiting Cornwall, definitely not my last as I had such a great time.


We went from Thursday - Sunday and driving from my house on the Wiltshire/Hampshire border took around 4 hours which was worth it for the pretty views and the amazing time we had.


Day 1


Carbis bay beach st ives

When we arrived, we had a few hours before check-in time at our B&B so we went down to the beach at Carbis Bay which was where we stayed. The B&B we stayed at was called Chy an Gwedhen and I couldn't recommend it enough. The hosts, Pete and Heidi, were so kind and the breakfast was great. We were so well looked after and I would definitely stay there again. 


The location of our B&B was great too, we usually got the bus down to St Ives as it was just a little too far to walk and taxis back. The taxis were only around £5 and it took around 5 minutes, so it was very handy.

Related: 3 Days in Suffolk

Carbis Bay beach was so pretty and tranquil, it made me feel like I was abroad. You can hire out water sports there too and it's a lot less busy than the St Ives beaches.


After checking in and getting ready, we went into St Ives. We actually took the train there which was only £1 but we realised there was a bus stop right by our B&B so it was a lot easier than getting to the train station.


Joe used to go to St Ives when he was younger so he could kind of remember the beaches but it was my first time and it looked amazing. I am getting holiday blues writing this, take me back!


St ives harbour cornwall


We went to a pub called the Lifeboat Inn for dinner which was right on the harbour front, then we went to Tretho Lounge for cocktails.


Day 2


On the Friday we had booked a trip to St Michael's Mount. I'm annoyed I didn't get a good picture of the mount from the causeway but I got some from the views on top of the Mount.


St michaels mount

We were able to walk across the causeway although when we parked, it was covered in water but by the time we'd walked there, it was clear. I couldn't get my head round it. I loved learning about the history of the mount and there are actually people who live on there today. We went into the castle and inside, was mostly loads of pictures of old white men, but the views from the top were so pretty!

Related: UK cities you need to visit

After St Michael's Mount, we went back into St Ives for dinner. This time, we went to an Italian Restaurant called Peppers which was really nice. Then we went for an ice cream, they have really nice ice cream parlours by the way, I wanted to try every flavour! This was then followed by an evening in a really cool rooftop bar which was an extension of The Sloop Inn pub along the harbour.


Day 3


The weather was meant to be best on the Saturday and we hadn't really planned any trips for then so we decided to have a beach day. For September, it was still so hot and I managed to get in the sea (with great struggle) and get sunburnt - always remember your SPF, or in my case, to make sure you put it EVERYWHERE.


Porthgwidden beach st ives cornwall


For lunch, we had crab baguettes from a Cornish bakery of which there were many (I can't remember the name of it now but there were about 3 of these bakeries in St Ives). I did have a seagull mishap which I would like to try and forget about but luckily, it didn't steal my baguette. Lauren 1 Seagull 0. This was followed by more ice cream.


For dinner, we went to a restaurant called Firehouse bar and grill which was good too. We also went to the arcade and played air hockey and on the basketball hoops. Annoyingly, I started to feel a bit ill on our last night, probably because my immune system is just not as good due to being in lockdown for so long earlier in the year. As a result, we went back to the room early and watched TV.


Sunday was then driving home day and it did take a long time to get home, mainly because of all of the traffic by Stonehenge which is the bain of my life anyway but apart from that roads were pretty clear.


I definitely hope to go to St Ives again and other places in Cornwall, it was so fun. A highlight was that so many people took their dogs on holiday there so I got to see loads of cute furballs.

Related: Places you need to visit in Dorset

Have you been to Cornwall?

9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL AT THE MAYFLOWER

After waiting a year and three months to go due to the pandemic, I finally went to see 9 to 5 the musical and it definitely did not disappoint.


9 to 5 the musical mayflower southampton

As the show was at The Mayflower in Southampton, we headed over by train and went to a few shops and had some food and drinks before going to the event.


For lunch, we went to Zizzi in West Quay and I had the chorizo carbonara, so nice would definitely recommend! The burrata salad starter was so nice too. I also had the passion fruitini cocktail.


The show started at 2pm so we walked over to The Mayflower after lunch and getting in was super easy there weren't really any queues. There were no empty seats though as so many people must have been waiting to go since 2020 like us.


I had seen 9 to 5 the movie with Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin which I loved, but this was my first time seeing it as a musical on stage and it was amazing!


It was a really clever adaptation of the film and it was so funny too, at one point I think tears were coming out because I was laughing so much.

Related: Women don't owe you pretty book review

The characters were fab too. Franklin Hart Jr, the misogynistic CEO of the company is definitely more exaggerated in the musical than in the film which really helped to get the point across of how women have been treated in the office compared to how men have been treated.


I'd like to think the way women are treated in the workplace has improved since the 1980s but there are still some improvements that need to be made in certain workplaces I would say.


The three women main characters are so empowering and it's great to watch their journey and see a happy ending for each of them.


There was a great balance between comedy, and also keeping focused on the serious themes of misogyny throughout. Every so often, Franklin Hart Jr would make sexist jokes about women to one of his male coworkers, Bob. At the end of the show, Bob then hit him back with my favourite line: "What do you call a female CEO? A CEO."


I definitely need to see more musicals, I always love them! So far, I have only seen 9 to 5, Mamma Mia, The Rocky Horror Show and Shrek The Musical - all of which were so good.

Related: A-Z of date ideas

Are you a fan of musicals, which is your favourite?

MY TIME AT BOURNEMOUTH 7S FESTIVAL

Saturday

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend, I spent the Saturday and Sunday at Bournemouth 7s Festival. I had my ticket booked so long ago and was due to go in May 2020, so I felt like writing about my experience there.


Group of people at festival

If you have been following me for a while, you may remember that in lockdown last year, I tried recreating Bournemouth 7s Festival in my back garden.

Related: Throwing a festival lockdown party

Luckily I was able to stay at a friend's house so I didn't have to do any camping. I'm so glad, it was such a tiring weekend so I needed the proper sleep in a bed.


Day 1 


For day 1 my friends and I went out for breakfast so we could line our stomachs and started drinking pre-lunch time. No judgment here it was a big weekend! We had some more pre-drinks at the house before heading to the festival at around 2pm.


The queue for day 1 was pretty long as we had to show covid passes or test results, tickets, ID, and our bags all in different places.


When we arrived we tried out all of the different music tents and got the drinks in. The sponsored drink this year was White Claw, which I really think helped me out. Because it's a hard seltzer which is quite watery, it was so easy to drink all day and was quite hydrating. They were also not too strong so I didn't overdo it too early. Incidentally, water was £3 and these cans were £4!


The headlining act on day 1 was Ella Eyre. She was good but the main tent was so full and we were so far back that we couldn't really see that well and it was getting a bit crowded, so we ended up just going to an RnB tent which was so good.


Day 2


Again, we had a couple of drinks before leaving for 7s, some of us were more hungover than others (I am smug because it's usually me but I felt amazing - thank you White Claws). We left for 7s earlier and there was no queue as we all had wristbands by that point so got in a lot quicker.


We did actually watch about 5 minutes of rugby on Sunday, I know it's mainly for sports but I much prefer just dancing and listening to music to watching the sports (sorry!)


After that we did a bit of the Bingo Lingo which was good, my feet were killing from the day before and there was still so much walking be done so I was just grateful for sitting down really.


As for the rest of the day, it was pretty much the same as the day before, just going between tents and dancing listening to the different music.


We didn't end up seeing the headlining act, but I can't remember who it was anyway and the other tents had such good music anyway that it didn't really matter.


It feels quite weird now because that was the last event in Bournemouth that I'll probably go to for a while because I've finished uni there now. But I'm looking forward to more events in the future.


Have you been to any festivals this year?

5 ECO-FRIENDLY ITEMS I CARRY WITH ME

Sunday

This is a guest post by Caroline from Enviroline Blog.

This year is the year of the staycation. As annoying as it is that we can’t go abroad, it’s much better for the planet and it reduces your carbon footprint. Did you know that a flight from London to Rome produces 234kg of CO2? That is the same amount that the average person in Sierra Leone produces in a year! A flight from London to New York is 986kg of CO2, which is more than the average person in 56 countries use per year, including Paraguay. (figures from The Guardian

eco friendly shopping bag with recycle symbol on phone
Image by Ready Made on Pexels.

I don’t tend to fly because I really hate going on aeroplanes, but my parents and I usually take the ferry to France or Spain. The last time we went was 2 years ago, obviously not last year! Although I was very much into helping the planet, I wasn’t so aware of constantly carrying around eco-friendly alternatives with me. However, now there are 5 items that I always carry with me - as well as the obvious keys, phone etc. 

Tote bag 


This seems fairly obvious because you need a bag to carry things around in. I’m not really a handbag kind of girl, I’ve always liked to carry a tote bag. I love the fun messages they have on them! The reason why they are so useful is that they can fold down. If you are walking to the shops, you could keep your purse, phone & keys in your usual bag and fold down the tote bag to fit in too. I sometimes do this with spare plastic bags in my tote bag. 

Another great thing about tote bags is that quite often you can get them for free. If you are visiting a uni, most of them will give you a tote bag. Ironically I didn’t receive one when I visited Bournemouth Uni, which is where I am now! 

Reusable water bottle 


When I first decided that I wanted to be more sustainable, I decided to stop buying plastic water bottles. This sounds simple but I get thirsty very easily when I’m out and about. For example, I would be in town with my friend and wouldn’t be able to buy any water because I didn’t want to buy a plastic bottle. Sometimes I had to cave, I mean your health is number 1. Though, this is actually what forced me into remembering to bring a reusable water bottle wherever I go. I now take one with me everywhere! It doesn’t have to be a big heavy one because you can refill it in a cafe. 

Spare bags 


Carrying on from taking a tote bag with you, bring some plastic bags. Plastic bags are made to look really bad and as much as they are awful, if you have to buy one, reuse it as much as you can! If you throw it away because plastic is bad, it will end up going to landfill so much quicker than if you use it until you can’t. 

In lockdown, I quarantined my food or wiped the packages down with antibacterial spray before using them. I didn’t want my tote bag to be contaminated too, so I used to line it with a strong plastic bag. I did that for another tote bag too, for when I was having a bigger shop! Everyone has that bag of plastic bags, they are much better in use than sitting gathering dust. 

Cutlery 


I would really recommend carrying a cutlery set in your bag. This could be a bamboo set you have bought from the shop or spare metal cutlery you have from home. Either way, it needs to be reusable so something that you can wash. A little bag to keep it in is useful too, so that it doesn’t get all dirty in your bag - pencil case size would be perfect. It still astonishes me how shops provide plastic cutlery in the ‘food to go’ section. Saying that, I have also seen bamboo cutlery wrapped in plastic! It makes no sense. I like to include a straw in mine too, some travel mugs include a straw hole so it would be very annoying to forget that! 

Having a reusable cutlery set is great if you are worried about the cleanliness in restaurants. I’m sure that they have a high standard of hygiene, but sometimes I just prefer to use my own. Just before the UK went into lockdown, I had my 18th birthday meal out with my friends and I was so worried about Covid, so I took my own cutlery along. It might seem a bit excessive, but it makes me feel safer. 

Travel mug 


A travel mug is a definite must. You never know when you are going to want a coffee. I feel like it’s just one of those spontaneous moments, like if you are out with friends shopping, I guarantee someone will want to get one. Even if you don’t, you could lend it to your friend so that you are still reducing plastic. I went to Starbucks the other week and was unsure they would let me use my own mug because of Covid. But, luckily they really welcomed it. I just placed my travel mug in one of their ceramic mugs so that neither of us touched both the mugs. It was a super simple process! 
Thank you so much to Lauren for letting me guest post on her blog! You can find me over at Enviroline Blog for more environmental posts, as well as mental health posts. 

What eco-friendly item do you always carry with you?

WOMEN DON'T OWE YOU PRETTY BOOK REVIEW

Saturday

So I finally got round to reading Women Don't Owe You Pretty by Florence Given and thought why not share my thoughts with you? This is my first time writing a book review so I hope you enjoy and let me know if you'd like to see more of these.


First of all, the book was written by Florence Given, who is currently a 22-year-old writer, artist and influencer - the same age as me!


Women don’t owe you pretty book cover


What is the book about?


It's a non-fiction book that talks all about the different areas of being a woman. There are different chapters about relationships, body image, building an identity and the difficulty in doing this in a world rooted in racism, misogyny and sexism.


It is a mainstream dive into feminism and is easily accessible for those who don't want to read mounds of feminist literature but still want to learn about feminism and the need for gender equality.


The aim of this book is to challenge the ideas you thought you already had about the world, gender and identity. Due to studying a lot of the things the book covers at university, I already knew a lot of what was in it however, this book still taught me a lot and has changed my way of thinking even more.

Related: 5 books I wish I'd read sooner

Additionally, the book is filled with beautiful illustrations that Florence Given has created herself. At times, there are triggering subjects talked about such as rape or sexual trauma, (with appropriate trigger warnings in place) and these images just lift you back up after reading about these topics.


This book is definitely relevant at the moment, in a world where some people may even think what? Of course we have gender equality by now? By reading this book, you will know that we don't in this society still.


Women don’t owe you pretty book illustration


Should you read this book?


I would definitely recommend this book and I feel like this is an important read for everyone. I definitely learnt a lot and feel like everyone needs to read what is in this book. It hits you with cold hard truths that we all need to hear.

Related: The art of blog writing E-book

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

MY JOURNEY TO CONFIDENCE: THE LOW DOWN

Welcome to another post in my The Low Down series, where I basically just chat about important stuff and well, give you the low down.


In this blog post, I'm going to be talking about why confidence is so important, my journey and tips for you to become more confident. It's not easy and I wouldn't even say I'm a confident person, but I guess I just give less of a shit now what other people think of me.


This is so cliche and basically said all the time but life is too short! One day you might die (ok you will just trying not to be too morbid) and if you were to watch your life back at the end of it - you would wish that you just did the things you wanted to do, wore what you wanted to wear and were the person you wanted to be without caring what others think of you.


girl in bedroom with shein sunglasses


Why you need to work on your confidence


For me, I really think confidence would be the answer to all of my problems. You need it for job interviews, relationships, friendships, and loads of other reasons. I am someone who worries and gets nervous about absolutely everything so it comes a lot less naturally to me. This is why I have to work hard at stepping out of my comfort zone.


We feel comfortable around confident people and they are always easy to make friends with because they put themselves out there. However, if you're a worrier like me it can be really difficult, and you might be reading this like yeah right, like I could ever be confident? But you can, firstly you have to try and see what you can do about the things you worry about most.


It's easy for me to say stop caring what people think of you, but that would mean unlearning so many taught behaviours.


Why confidence doesn't come naturally to so many of us


The reason so many of us lack confidence and try to please others is because we are culturally taught that we need to. Through advertising, we are told we need new makeup to change the way we look and cover our "flaws". Have you ever thought, would I even notice this flaw if the media hadn't pointed it out to me? 

This society obsesses over thin bodies and marginalises curvy people. Body types, skin colour, who you love, the gender you identify as, nationalities, disabilities, age - these are all compartments of your identity yet some are more "accepted" than others.

Also, how often do you compare yourself to the people you see online or on TV? Do you ever wish you were them? We are so used to a certain way of looking and acting in our society that you kind of may not want to be any different at the risk of being too noticeable or worrying about how people will perceive you. This is all wrong! We should celebrate our differences and just not worry about what anyone else will think.

If there are people in your life who will change their opinion of you if you start being yourself then I'm sorry, but fuck them! It's time we start learning this at a young age I think. I am 22 and know I have a long way to go before feeling fully confident. But at school, I'd mostly just try to fit in and stay under the radar and pretend to like things I didn't so that people wouldn't think I'm weird. This is wrong again, and I do think younger generations are definitely getting better when it comes to accepting other people.

It's especially hard for marginalised people to be who they truly are. For example, in a society that's values are based on heteronormativity, it can be so difficult for LGBTQ+ people to come out, and be unapologetically themselves. In a world where they can be violently attacked for who they love. 

I could talk about so many things, but basically, the world we live in makes it really difficult for us to be confident in who we are. This is why we all have to actively step up and really try to take charge of our own identities. For the sake of our own mental health, but also encouraging others to do the same and looking out for their mental health too.

Steps to gaining more confidence


Now full disclaimer, I have already said I am not a particularly confident person and I'm not some sort of mental health professional who can really help you sort your life out. These are just tips that I have used to really become happier within myself and have made me more confident in social situations.

1. Stop focusing on the person you should be, and start focusing on the person you are - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


It sounds obvious, but honestly when you let go of what people and society expect of you and just start doing you and what makes you happy, you will feel a lot better. This is quite a challenge, and as I said earlier, it will take a lot of unlearning of things you knew, but it is vital!

2. Fake it 'til you make it


If you really lack confidence but need it for things like job interviews etc... then really just practice acting confident. You have heard the term practice makes perfect? Just take your time trying to act like a confident person and eventually this will become habitual.

I have been in the process of this lately. one thing that terrifies me is talking on the phone. I will email, text, DM my way out of phone calls any day but as I am adulting, I need to pick up the phone for things more. It still scares me but before each call with someone I don't know, I have a little word with myself like come on you know what you're saying you can do it. 

I've had a similar thing with Imposter Syndrome a lot too, thinking I'm not good enough for things I do or don't have enough followers to be reaching out to a brand to work with them. For this, I just have to think twice and kind of give myself advice that other people would give me. Like, you wouldn't have this job if you weren't qualified for example.

3. Let go of your fear of rejection


Something that stops a lot of people feeling confident is a fear of rejection. This is a scary one because the way to get over a fear of rejection is to expose yourself to it more. Nobody likes rejection, it's human nature, but it shouldn't get in the way of our happiness.

I am watching Love Island at the moment and have seen so many people get rejected on live TV, which some people may think is tragic but it's really not. It's all about how they handle it. If they have been rejected and they take it with pride, like oh well I stayed true to myself that's ok, don't you have a lot more respect for them than if they were to go off on one? So reactions are key!

Another time we can face a lot of rejection is applying for jobs. Honestly, applying for grad jobs after just finishing university in a pandemic was the most I have ever been rejected in my life. Was this because I wasn't capable of doing the job? No. Is this how it made me feel at times? Of course! Then, I did secure a job and remembered how hard it is at the moment and that it is not to do with me.

4. There is only room for uplifting people in your life


In your life, if you put it simply, there are people who make you feel good when you spend time with them, and then there are people who don't. My advice is to only focus on the people who make you feel good. You may even find cutting toxic, negative people out of your life really beneficial and freeing. Each time I have done this, I have been so much happier!

Who you spend your time with is SO important for your mental health, I can't even tell you. There is no room in your life for people who want to put you down or don't want to see you shine. Bin them off. Obviously if possible, some toxic people might be in your workplace or even in your family - tea.

Good friendships are ones with people who want to see you grow. They are happy for your successes, not jealous or trying to put you down. They celebrate you and whatever differences you may have from them and you leave them feeling refreshed, rather than drained.
How has your journey to confidence been going? What advice would you give to your younger self? Also think, what advice would your future self give you right now? Think about your idols and what makes them have the confidence that they do.

5 TRAVEL ESSENTIALS YOU NEED FOR A TRIP AWAY

As a lot of people are travelling more now, whether that be around the UK or abroad, it's important to know what to pack. Many of us will be out of the swing of it due to various coronavirus restrictions on travel, especially abroad.


For this reason, I am going to share with you a few of my travel essentials. I usually try to pack as light as possible because I hate having to carry heavy bags when I go anywhere, so this will probably be bare essentials and I may miss some stuff out that is important to you. These are just my tips.


woman walking through airport with luggage
Image by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.


5 essentials you need for travelling


1. A separate purse or wallet


Now, this one is mainly for if you are travelling abroad and have different currency. I always like to take a separate purse for my holiday money or any holiday cards so I don't get it mixed up with my UK cash. You don't need to do this, I just find it easier and it gives me an excuse to have another purse. Also, if you have any tickets for anything you can keep them in the holiday purse too.

2. Miniatures


Having small toiletries for travel is so much easier as it takes up so much less space and you may only be allowed under 100ml liquids if you are travelling with hand luggage anyway.

3. Hand sanitiser


I mean this one really doesn't need an explanation but it's just essential to have on you at all times to make sure those hands are clean.

4. Portable charger


If you're like me, then you will need a fully charged phone to take pictures and videos of every waking moment of the holiday. It's also important to have a charged phone in case you need to call anyone or use google maps to find something.

5. Pain killers


Any time I travel, I seem to be cursed with getting a headache. Whether it's from getting up early, or maybe drinking a little too much while I'm away, I always seem to get one. So I would definitely recommend taking pain killers with you. I learnt this the hard way when I went to Mallorca a few years ago. I needed painkillers and they cost me around 5 euros on the resort when in the UK they are literally 40p.

So there we have it. Everyone is different and will have different essentials, and it depends on where you are travelling to as well. Obviously, if you are travelling abroad you will need a passport and boarding passes. If you are going on a long haul flight you will need different essentials - I may write a separate blog post on this.
What is one thing you can't travel without?

BEING A NICE PERSON: THE LOW DOWN

Welcome to another post in my The Low Down series, where I get a bit more serious and give you the low down on things. For this one, I am just going to be sharing ways to genuinely just be a nice person which I feel like is pretty obvious, but a lot of people seem to need it?


Now, you might be bored of hearing about kindness now, especially as it has been heavily emphasised since the start of the pandemic, and a few years back we had the #BeKind movement. But have you ever stopped to think how we only have movements like that after someone has taken their own life? And afterwards, it doesn't take long for people to forget about the detrimental, and even fatal effects that nastiness has on our mental health.


be kind green tiles on pink backrgound

Related: Toxic positivity: The low down

A lot of people reading this will be thinking, being kind is so obvious, like why would you not be? But you'd be surprised by the amount of people who sadly are not. Every day, I hear about influencers and creators getting hate on a daily basis. Just look at the boys in the England team getting racial abuse for not scoring penalties, rather than getting praised for coming so far at a young age. Racism is a complete other topic and it is never OK in any situation. But it just goes to show how quickly people can turn nasty as these were supposedly England 'fans'.


Take Love Island as another example, sadly a few people have taken their own lives as a result of the hate they had received from being on the show. But this year, people are still giving them hate and tweeting awful things about them. OK, we all judge people on TV a little bit sometimes and maybe don't always agree with their decisions, but they are just ordinary humans on the TV with feelings. If you really have to say something nasty about someone on the TV or someone online, it's so easy to just send something privately to a friend rather than broadcasting it so that they can see.

Related: Friendships: the low down

These are just a few recent examples, but I'm sure if I ask you about a time someone has been nasty to you personally, you could tell me straight away. And being online, does make it easier for people to be unkind, but it's not always online.


We are all just getting through life and enough shit has gone on with things like Covid, climate change and just general other bad stuff for anyone to have to put up with people being dicks on top of that. So I am going to give you some of my own personal advice on how to just be a nice person generally, and just to live life in more of a happy way. 


I'm not saying I'm an amazingly nice person, no one is perfect and it's hard to be kind all the time - especially because there are some real arseholes out there. Most of my blog readers are lovely too! I am just using my platform for important topics.


How to be a nice person


1. Try to find happiness within yourself

The first step in this is really working on you. In my experience, most of the people who feel the need to put others down are insecure in themselves. This isn't easy and this could be a whole other blog post - but once you accept things about yourself and don't compare yourself to others, you will be much more happy for them and won't feel the need to put them down anymore.


2. Keep your mouth shut

As humans, it's natural to think things about people that sometimes aren't the nicest but do they need to hear these thoughts? Probably not. Again, it's all about accepting differences. 


3. Compliment people

Kindness is something that becomes habitual and once you start practising it more, it will come more easily and naturally. Try and compliment people and say positive things to them, this could make them feel so much better and will also make you feel better about yourself too.


4. Surround yourself with positivity

In this blog post, I'm not saying go out of your way to make friends with people who aren't your usual type of person. To become a happier and kinder person, it will actually be a lot better for you to cut toxic and negative people out of your life. Toxic people make other people toxic, so try to surround yourself with kind people and people who make you feel good about yourself. 


5. Do's and don'ts


Do 

  • Work on your happiness
  • Compliment people and promote kindness
  • Spend your time with nice people
Don't 

  • Put others down to make yourself feel better
  • Be rude and say nasty things

Sorry about the moody blog post - I am just so fed up of seeing nastiness everywhere I turn at the moment. I try to keep myself away from it as much as possible now that I am not forced to spend my time with unkind people at uni or anything but it still seems to be a little bit everywhere online etc.


And I feel like it's never going to go away but that's why we all have to try and work together in looking after our own mental health and the mental health of others. Also, sorry this post was a bit of a brain dump.


What are your thoughts on this? Let's start a discussion.

HOW TO CREATE A MEDIA KIT

You might be thinking, what is a media kit and why I need one? Well, I'm here to answer these questions and give you some advice on creating one, and what to include.


What is a Media Kit?

A media kit is a document that bloggers, content creators and influencers use to show information about their platform. It's usually shared to brands so they can learn more about the creators they are working with.


Books on a shelf

If you want to work with brands, it's important to have a media kit that you can keep up to date with your stats. This way if you are emailing a brand to work with them, you don't need to send a long email about the views you receive on your blog or the engagement you get on your social posts. You can keep all this information in your media kit and attach it, such a time saver.


I used Canva to create my media kit and made sure the branding aligned with the colours I have used across my blog and social media channels to keep it all consistent. Mine is also only 3 pages because I feel like for now, that is all that's needed but yours may be more or less depending on how much information you want to put in. I would try to keep it to around 2-5 pages though, to try and be concise.


What to include

Here is a checklist of things you can include, you may wish to include more if you need to.

  1. A short bio about what your platform/blog is about.
  2. A photo of yourself.
  3. Who your main target audience is.
  4. Your blog and social media platfroms and stats - I just included followers on my socials, my blog views and blog domain authority, but you may wish to include social engagement rates too. Make sure these are up to date before you send it to brands.
  5. Brands you have worked with in the past. This is optional, if you are new to this you won't be able to add this just yet but it's just a good way to show your experience if you have it.

How to use it

The purpose of a media kit is to summarise your platform and also to pitch your brand to the person or brand you'd like to work with.


If someone asks to work with you, you can show them your media kit so they can learn more about you. Alternatively, you can email brands with your media kit and pitch to them. Pitching to work with brands is a completely separate thing, that I feel like I can't write a blog post on yet, just because I don't do it too often so I wouldn't be giving expert advice. Maybe this is one for the future when I start pitching more. 


What I will say is, it's definitely worth putting yourself out there to brands or even local venues that you'd like to work with. It has paid off for me quite a few times now.


Do you have a media kit?

LIFE UPDATE - FINISHING UNIVERSITY

Bit of a chatty one - I just thought I'd update you all on my life as I have finished university!


A few years ago, I wrote posts on applying to uni and wrote updates on how my first year was going, but since then I haven't really spoken about it that much on here.


So after 4 years of being a Communication and Media student at Bournemouth University, I have finally finished and I got a 2:1 overall with a 1st in my dissertation! I am now working as a Social Media and Communications Coordinator for the same organisation I did my internship with between second and third year.


I am so glad I went to uni it was such a good experience, obviously there were some downs but I wouldn't change it. I won't get into all of my highlights and lowlights for the year because that would take forever. Maybe I will do that when I am really missing uni but for now I just wanted to update you all.


Bournemouth university students going to summer ball

Related: Top tips for starting university


What have I learnt?


To be honest, I feel like most of the stuff I learnt was about adult life and what kind of person I am rather than academic. Obviously I did learn a lot about media too, I feel like I can never watch a film or read a newspaper article properly again without analysing every word or every scene. But reflecting back, the experiences I had will mean more to me than that kind of stuff (sorry lecturers).


It was a shame that Covid kind of got in the way a little bit of my final year but I have still been able to do lots of fun things with my friends. 2021 is definitely the year of the bottomless brunch!


Luckily, because I live an hour away from Bournemouth I can go and visit whenever I want and I will still have friends living there.


I live in a very small town where I'm never really pushed out of my comfort zone so uni really helped push me to make friends and put myself out there (usually helped by a little Dutch courage too).


Where do we go from here?


As I mentioned before, I am starting my career in social media marketing and I am really enjoying it so far. I'm really looking forward to see how my career goes too. At the moment I am still learning about it while working.


I've had a few questions about university and applying to jobs so if you want to know anything, please feel free to ask me. 

Related: 7 ways to enhance your CV

To be honest, I just can't believe uni is over it's so weird how quickly it went. I still feel the same age as when I started too, I feel like everyone says that.


It definitely feels like the end of an era but also not in some ways because I am still planning to keep in touch with all my uni pals as much as possible.

A DAY OUT IN WEYMOUTH

Last month, my boyfriend Joe and I had a lovely day out in Weymouth. Usually I would write posts when I spend a few days away somewhere but I has such a good time that I thought I'd share it with you. Living in Bournemouth, it was close enough for us to go there for a day trip but our tenancy for our student house ends very soon sadly.


If you are not from the UK, Weymouth is a lovely seaside town in Dorset, England where lots of people go and stay for a holiday and now I know why.


Sea Life Weymouth


Purple jellyfish at sea life weymouth

penguins at sea life weymouth

First of all, we started our day at Sea Life Weymouth. I am like a child when it comes to seeing animals, I just love it so this was really good. It was a lot more expensive than the aquarium in Bournemouth that I'm used to, but it was a lot bigger and better.

Related: Greyhound at Corfe Castle Review

We had so much fun seeing all the animals and it was the first time I'd ever seen a seal in the flesh. I had fun taking pictures of them all and I created a Weymouth and Sea Life Instagram reel too, which you can see below.



Visiting Weymouth


After visiting Sea Life, we took a walk along the beach and into Weymouth. As we went on a weekday that was a bit cloudy, it wasn't too busy but there were still quite a lot of people about. 


Living in Bournemouth for uni, we go to the beach a lot but it was nice to go to a different one. I am a lover of the beach! 

Related: Placed you need to visit in Dorset

After walking round the beach for a while, we walked to the harbour and then went through all the little side streets that had some really cute shops.


Weymouth harbour

pastel houses in weymouth

side street in weymouth with bunting


Sadly, we didn't stop anywhere for food except an ice cream so I would love to go back and do that. I love going to seaside towns and eating local seafood.


A bit of a short blog post this time as we only spent one day in Weymouth but it was a lovely day nonetheless.


Where have you been lately that you really enjoyed?

MAKE MONEY WITH FREE SHARES FROM FREETRADE

I am not affiliated with Free Trade but if you download the app through my referral link I will get a free share too.


OK this is my first ever 'money blogger' post and I am really excited. I have been following money bloggers lately and my favourite way to make money on the side that isn't through blogging is through Free Trade. As a blogger, I will often write sponsored blog posts which helps make me a little extra cash too.


Freetrade shares logo


I first heard about Free Trade from Reinventing Neesha who you need to follow ASAP if you don't already. She will teach you all you need to know about making passive incomes and saving money.

What is Free Trade?

Free Trade is a trading app you can download on your phone. At first, this put me off a bit because I don't really know anything about stocks and shares, but you don't need to know much when you are using the free shares.


Basically, they give out free shares between £3-£200 when you refer a friend to you, and to the new friend downloading the app for the first time.


If you want to receive free money between £3-£200 then keep reading


1. First of all, you will need to download the app through my referral link. Once you have set your account up, use the basic account and deposit £1 into your account. (Don't worry, you can get this back later). Then, you'll have your free share (I'll get one too).

2. You will be prompted to fill out the W-8BEN form, this is just to say you will not be paying tax in the US.

3. Your free share will take 7-10 days to be revealed, it will be anything between £3-£200. My first one was £20! They usually seem to come out on Wednesdays so keep an eye out, you'll get a notification anyway.

4. Once you have your share amount, you can decide whether you want to keep the share or sell it. I sold mine because I wanted the money to come out straight away but a lot of people leave theirs as it might increase over time, it could decrease though. If you are wanting to leave it in, you should probably learn a little bit about stocks and shares.

5. If you sell your share, you will need to wait a few days for the money to be withdrawable. It will say unsettled cash for a little bit, don't worry about that you just need to be patient.

6. Use your unique referral link and invite as many new people as you can to the app for their free share. You will get a free share for each person who signs up and deposits £1 into their account - this is the way you are going to make money. It will all add up as the more people you refer, the more shares you will get.


And there we have your guide to using Free Trade and making free money with shares and referrals. If you have any questions about this feel free to reach out to me. And obviously be careful when using stocks and shares. Make sure you know what you're doing if you plan to invest real money. If you're just using the free shares and following these steps you won't have to worry too much.

Happy money making! Let me know how much you get once you've used my code!

MEET MY JULY ADVERTISERS

Tuesday

This post contains my monthly advertisers.

Welcome to another Meet My Advertisers post. This will actually be my last advertisers post for a while. I have started a new job after finishing uni so have a bit less free time on my hands so I want to focus on creating my other content and writing my weekly blogs.


I have loved sharing some amazing blogs with you and will let you know if I start my advertising service again, but for now this will be my last.


Anyway, keep reading to see some great blogs that you need to check out this month!


5 Blogs you need to check out this month


Lynn Mumbing Mejia blog logo
First of all we have Lynn Mumbing Mejia. Lynn is a lifestyle blogger helping you to create a cosy, happy life. She has lots of amazing content on her blog, but my favourite posts from her are her recipes!

Check out these posts from Lynn

Sunshine Sarah blog logo
Next up is Sunshine Sarah. Sarah is quite a regular on my advertising posts and if you haven't read any of her blog posts yet, you need to! This blog is one of my favourites as it really does bring a ray of sunshine into my life and Sarah is always so full of positivity. It's definitely needed when the world can be filled with a lot of negativity at times.

Start by checking out these posts


Enviroline blog logo

Caroline from Enviroline Blog is another one of my favourite bloggers. Not only does she have great environmental and mental health content, she is also so lovely and a big supporter of my blog. I always learn something new every time I read one of Caroline's posts.

Read these posts from Caroline

A cup of wonderland blog logo
Another great blog you will need to check out this month is A Cup of Wonderland. Hannah writes blog posts about reading and baking - what more could you want? If you want book or baking inspo then definitely head over to her blog.

Check out these posts by Hannah



Simply alex jean blog logo

Last but of course, not least, is Simply Alex Jean. Alex is a Canadian lifestyle and Pinterest blogger. If you need Pinterest help, then definitely check out her blog! I know I do.

Start by reading these posts


And there we have my July advertisers. I have loved sharing all these blogs with you, I hope you like reading them as much as I do. Again, these will be my last advertisers for a while but I will still be posting weekly.