This One Summer: Graphic Novel review

Main image: © Jillian Tamaki, used with permission.

This also happens to be my favourite piece of artwork from This One Summer (Jillian and Mariko Tamaki). 

This One Summer is a collaboration between cousins Mario Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, it follows the story of Rose, someone who is starting to nosedive into the world of puberty. The story takes place across the summer of her annual trip with her family to Awago Beach, where her friend Windy is always there to meet her. While previous summers have always been amazing; this summer Rose has to confront family problems, as well as the pains of growing up. 

If you want something that captures the feelings of summer holidays; this is it. For someone like me who has now decided that they are ancient and is missing the carefree  leisure of summer holidays; this book is equally a delight and a weird kind of torture.

The whole read perfectly captures the dreamy wistfulness that captured my summer holidays – the same could be said for the content of the graphic novel. Not a lot happens but a lot happens at the same time. Growing up isn’t always something that is a dramatic adventure and this is the real genius of the graphic novel – it captures exactly that.

The artwork as well is beautiful- if I could frame the front cover I would. I just love when soft colours, especially lilacs and a watercolour feel is applied to artwork- and I love, love, love how that theme contains on through the graphic novel.

tos1

Image: © Jillian Tamaki, used with permission.

However, it wasn’t the stunning artwork that initially drew me to this graphic novel; it was that I was talking to the lovely shop assistant in my local comic book and they recommended the graphic novel based on my other choices. When talking about the graphic novel they also discussed how it was difficult to order in because it had been banned in the US. The reason it was banned I discovered was due to that it was deemed to contain ‘vulgar language’. And to be honest if a book is banned I automatically want to read it more. All I say about the ‘vulgar’ language is this: this is a book aimed at teens who are going to use and hear this language – that is just the reality of life.

And capturing the reality of life is what the graphic novel does best, especially the brutal reality of being introduced to the world of growing up and adulthood. However, along that pain is the joy of friendships. I have to say Rose and Windy’s friendship was probably my favourite thing throughout This One Summer because it has been a long time since I have read a friendship that didn’t feel stylised but just captured the messy reality of friendship. Sometimes, like Rose does to Windy, you mess up when talking with you friends. But most of the time being with a friend feels freeing –  something which Windy does beautifully.

tos3

Image: © Jillian Tamaki, used with permission.

I’m not going to lie, I see a lot of myself in Windy but I also see a lot more power in Windy than I felt I had at that age. She says what she thinks is right, even when it can be hard, especially when you friend is older (as is the case for Windy).

I hope by keeping this review short and sweet I capture the spirit of the graphic novel a bit – in that the graphic novel didn’t need to say a lot to be impactful. The artwork and storytelling fills in the gaps for you. The graphic novel’s strength is also its only weakness – not a lot happens but the characterisation is some of the best I’ve seen. We have a central character who the author is not afraid to show mess up in her journey to grow up as well as highlight how her infatuation with the teenage lothario of Awago Beach, Dunc sways and influences her judgment.

The adults too are not one-dimensional – we get to see Rose’s mum, Alice’s pain and understand her actions, as well as understand why Rose would react the way she does to her mum’s behaviour. Essentially This One Summer is a snapshot of the reality of growing up, but it’s genius is the way it paints that snapshot – bright, vivid and deeply immersive.

If you’re interested in This One Summer you can buy it on Amazon, I’d also recommend this review in The Comics Journal, which inspired some of the points in my review, particularly the line: ‘Immersion is This One Summer‘s strength’. However, it’s important to note that the review is not spoiler free.

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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January Favourites

It’s been a little bit of a ‘dry’ January for me so this list might be a little bit short on purchases. However, I’ve done a lot of watching of things this month because of my lack of money, so expect to see a lot of suggestions for ways to occupy your time instead of a lot of clothes (though I suspect next month this list will probably contain a lot of clothes).

I’m going to start by talking about something that I’ve not actually bought anything from but I think is super cute and that is the Lazy Oaf x Betty Boop collection. I always loved Betty Boop as a child because of her stint in Roger Rabbit and because I  always saw her in vintage and alternative shops meaning that for me she always stood as a symbol for someone who liked to dress alternatively. And as someone who has always admired (even if they were at times too scared to dabble in) alternative fashion; Betty Boop always seemed pretty darn cool to me.

The showstopping piece from the collection (just to be clear I’m referring to the ‘Women’s’ collection because I’m not a fan of anything in the ‘Men’s’ collection) has to be the white double denim set, which I’d love to attempt to pull off- with the red beret and top as below- maybe with some red converse as well. However, the pieces are about standard for Lazy Oaf collaboration collections and would set me back £120 for the jacket, and £79 for the jeans. So, these pieces are definitely going to have to go on the back burner of things I like at the moment- plus there is no guarantee I would be able to find a pair of the jeans that would fit because of my waist to hip ratio.

I also wish I could style the pieces anywhere near as cute as @skumbagg_ did on Instagram. 

Also, @skumbagg_ highlights probably my favourite piece from the collection the red sheer heart jacket. And this is not only because I really love hearts but because this would look amazing in a Valentines day lookbook (which, I hope to do but don’t think I’ve got another outfits to pull it off- maybe then it will be a Valentines Outfit Of The Day).

My other favourite pieces are the stripe boatneck top (the top pictured below is actually a bodysuit, you can find it here) which would look so cute tucked into a skirt or high waisted trousers or of course the cute pin up jeans they have with the collection (see below- click to the next image to see the amazing bow detail). There is also an adorable crop top, which I love but also have no idea how I would style.

Betty body and blue bow jeans 🎀👖〰️#bettyboopxlazyoaf

A post shared by Lazy Oaf (@lazyoafs) on

The crop top!

The one piece from the collection I do know how I’d style is the dress, which is the cut of my favourite Lazy Oaf dress pieces, which is referred to as a ‘Sally Sack dress’ (see below to see how one of my favourite Lazy Oaf wearers @reina_roo on Instagram styles it). This is the one piece I’m super tempted to get from the collection, as I know I wouldn’t regret it -I’m hoping it will still be available in March (but I know that’s a long shot with Lazy Oaf pieces- if you like a Lazy Oaf piece I very much recommend buying it then and there whenever possible because they only stock limited runs and finding the item after that can be hard and pricey).

So basically the one piece of the collection I am definitely going to invest in is the cute Betty Boop pin, as I like to try to have something from every Lazy Oaf collection (though that’s not being going well recently) and I love and am trying to collect more pins.

Little Viking Vintage

Now that I’ve sufficiently obsessed over the new Lazy Oaf collection let me talk about things I’ve actually bought. All of these are from the lovely Little Viking Vintage, so are unique to me, which I love, and as always were purchases I’ve been wearing again and again.

My favourite purchase was a beautiful silver and black onyx necklace. I got this because I’ve been noticing more and more how terrible I am at accessorising and wanted to change this. This looks amazing with a playsuit and crop top combo I bought recently (and basically is the only outfit I ever post about).

Ginger Hair Don't Care

I also got this pale yellow blouse for £9! It’s see through so I’ll wear a tank top underneath it but would look totally lovely I think with a nice long flowing skirt for when spring arrives.

Yellow blouse

The final thing I got is this bucket bag. It can’t hold a lot of items or weight because of its design but it makes me look a lot more fashionable than I actually am, and I love it. Also, I’d rather it get reused personally than waste it- see this post if you a bit confused about what I’m referring to.

Bucket Bag

Grace and Frankie Season 4 

I’ve been a fan of Grace and Frankie since the start. First of all, I love anything with Jane Fonda in, and second of all the show itself is hilarious and beautifully written. It’s not often (or more like barely at all) you see shows targeted at or featuring people over 50 on TV, and although I know why, it’s really a shame. I might be a while until I feel some of the problems of ageing but doesn’t mean I don’t want to know what they are or that I find them any less engaging than other problems I can’t relate to. I mean the majority of shows targeted to my age group would have me confronting someone at a masked ball, which I think somehow is unlikely to happen!

The show keeps up its momentum this season though I hope the show talks about it the way in which the children of Grace and Frankie approached the main issue of the season in a way that was not completely fair, next season.

Tofu scramble

Most of my attempts at cooking tofu at home have been fine, acceptable, but not as nice as the tofu I have eaten out. This recipe though I really enjoyed, though I only followed it loosely. For one thing my scramble isn’t yellow because I didn’t have any turmeric and instead of shallots I simmered garlic instead, and just had chilli powder, salt and pepper to flavour mine- it was however delicious (I also used soy milk as my milk substitute and it’s was great- soy milk is definitely my favourite milk substitute I’ve tried).

 

Tofu Scramble

I had mine with dairy free butter and spicy sriracha (a spicier version- I’m not saying Sriracha is spicy in itself). 

Turtles All the Way Down 

I have already wrote a review on this, however, I wanted to mention it briefly here, as I really enjoyed this book. I would also definitely recommend it for people both suffering with mental health issues or those who are not- it does a very good job at showing how both people cope with situations that arise in the life of someone who has mental health issues.

Turtles all the way down

Hamilton soundtrack 

This has been my favourite for more than a few months now and I keep forgetting to proclaim my underlying love for this soundtrack. Seriously, I probably listen to it at least once daily. I am very eagerly waiting for the day when I can finally get tickets to go see it in London.

The Women’s March 2018

I just want to give a shout out to everyone who attended the Women’s March both this year and last year. I couldn’t spare the money to attend this year (for the train ticket to London) but I very appreciative to everyone who took the time out of their day to make sure the important issues the march stands for were heard. Next year, I will be part of that crowd.

So there it is- my January. It’s been a bit of a long and cold one. Both mentally and literally. Here’s hoping there will be some more warmth coming up (though not too much as I am not ready for full on summer sun yet or ever- I’m thinking more Spring weather would be nice).

April

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Year in review: The highlights and fails of my 2017

I chose this picture of green tea because I’m ‘spilling all my tea’ about the year (yeah, the expression doesn’t sound as good when I say it) and the only tea I like is green tea. 

Is this post a bit too late? Yes, but I’m going to do it anyway. Plus, I wanted to reflect a little on my 2017 (and decided a whole 13 days was enough time for that) and not write something in a rush. My 2017 was overall a good year, but then I kind of count 2016 as the worst year of my life for me both mentally and consequently physically so in one way it just kind of couldn’t get any worse! However, I did manage to do some pretty cool stuff in 2017 and the year was what I would class an as ok year, though I’m hoping 2018 will be a great one.

Highlights 

Completing my Masters 

I’ve done a few blog posts on this but I made it through another year of higher education (woo!) and got my Masters in Journalism and Media Communications. It feels strangely distant now but I met some really great people on the course and it made me feel a bit more confident in my academic abilities again, which is always a plus.

Graduation with mother

I got my first (professional) job 

First of all, I want to make it clear I don’t think retail is not a professional job or any minimum wage job for that matter- what I mean here is I got my first job that was actually related to what I studied at University. Also, having paid holiday and not panicking about money if I am ill is such an amazing feeling.

My first day
The picture Martin took to commemorate my first day.

Mental health 

In 2017 I really tried to work through a lot of my mental health issues, and like to think I went from decidedly off track to kind of strolling along the tracks. It’s never something that will come easy to me, but sharing on this blog helped a lot, as did trying to better look after myself physically.

Dodie 3

I started this blog 

For a long period of my life I have wanted a blog. What can I say I love to write and rant about the world and a blog seemed a brilliant place to do that. Although, of course it is nice if people read your blog, like your posts or comment (which, let’s face it I’ll be honest a part of me craved); I personally just like writing and getting things off my chest. So here’s to 2017 for being the year I didn’t just post one blog post to a blog, not promote it and then delete it a week later because I felt too exposed to the world.

Year in Review post

Martin and I got our first flat 

Since Martin and I have been living together in some capacity for so long I forget sometimes that is our first ever flat together where it’s just the two of us. And the flat is cold (single glazing is not our friend), expensive (though not for the area- we got a good deal!) and still bare because we haven’t got a lot of furniture but it’s ours, it’s not tiny and is a lot better than a lot of other people’s first flats. Sure, ‘adulting’ and paying the bills sucks, but at least I have someone else to whine about it with.

Martin flat

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

2017 was also the year I got my love for reading back and I’m so happy about this. I forgot what it felt like to be so inspired. I forgot what it felt like to delay finishing a book because you loved it so much. Or to be able to stop yourself reading it all in one sitting. I forgot how much I truly was a bookworm. Basically, I love reading, it’s in every part of me from the fact that I prefer to read something rather than have someone tell me instructions (hence why audio books unfortunately aren’t for me) to the fact that I can spend longer in a book shop than most other shops.

The Power
My favourite image I took of a book last year (and one of my favourite books I read).

Fails 

Money 

Living anywhere remotely close to London/ in the South is expensive. Consequently, despite earning a good wage we are perpetually broke. This is looking up this year however as Martin has started a better paying job, and I will be shortly booking my trip to Japan (and trying not to spend all my money on clothes in order to afford it). Also, a lot of the problem last year was that Martin and I were fed up so we spent money to fill that hole and so consequently never had any money either. We’ve finally managed to claw our way out of that cycle and once again learn the value of tins of kidney beans and sweetcorn, as well as meal prep- so much meal prep!

Mental health 

So although I put this in my highlights this was also a ‘fail’ as well. Working through things it turns out is kind of hard and I am still running away from a lot of things. As we speak I am letting those familiar nagging thoughts worm their way back in again. While 2017 was the most I’ve actually analysed my mental health (which was a positive thing overall); the journey that came with that was not exactly pleasant.

Hair/ how I felt/ feel about my appearance 

For a large part of last year I let myself get very upset over my appearance whether it be that my hair was not the colour I wanted (it still isn’t) to the fact that I no longer felt comfortable with myself generally. My body in 2016 changed a lot in a short period of time and I still have not quite got over that. This year I am determined to just dress how I want no matter what and let myself be healthy. Also, to have really great hair (any suggestions are appreciated).

I also want to give a big shout out to all my amazing friends and family. I hope your 2017 was great, and if it wasn’t I hope this year will be better. Thank you for putting up with my rants, bossiness and general weirdo nature for another full year.

April

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My top nine blog posts of 2017

So I was scrolling across Instagram and I saw one of those posts with a user’s top nine posts for the year, and I thought it might be fun to do it for my blog. Mainly, to be honest because this is helpful for me to see what kind of content everyone likes, and also because it gives me an excuse to reminiscence over what I’ve written for the year.

Overall, I’ve actually posted 44 posts this year (45 once the post before this post is published). Honestly, I hadn’t realised it was that many (though it might seem a lot to some) so it made me feel a little bit better about this blog, as lately I know I’ve not been putting enough time and effort in.

My first post if anyone is interested was on March the 15th 2017 (so this blog is still less than a year old!). At this time of writing 23 people follow this blog, which I know only makes this blog a small drop in the ocean but means so much to me.

However, before I get soppy, without further ado, my most popular post of 2017 was…

Lazy Oaf Sample Sale Haul 

I am still a bit upset that there has not been a part 2 to this post, as I was unable to make the sample sale in December. However, I am determined to make the sample sale in June next year, so be prepared for a part two. I tried to be as honest about the whole experience as possible, so I hope the post has helped some people who haven’t been to a Lazy Oaf sample sale before. I know the posts I read about the December sample sale were very useful (with my main take away being that prices have gone up due to more of the stock being one off pieces rather than samples), so I can only hope that my post has done the same for some people- especially as it’s my most viewed post!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.01.50

What I got for my Birthday: 2017 (Aged 22) 

Although, I know that I personally love watching videos or reading posts about what other people got for their birthday or for Christmas because I’m nosy; I am still shocked this is my second most viewed post. Mostly, because I find this kind of content interesting usually because I have been following someone for a certain amount of time, so know that the gifts they are likely to receive would also be something I’d want also. I don’t think that’s the case with my post, but thank you to everyone who has read it, and I hope it inspired you gift wise, or at least made decent reading.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.04.23

Hello Kitty Topshop Pop Up Shop Mini Haul 

I am not going to lie I’m quite pleased this is my third most viewed post, as when I did attend the pop up shop; I hadn’t been able to find that many blog posts or vlogs about the shop at all online. While, my photography skills are still very much lacking I did try to show the entirety of the collection, and give an idea about prices, so visitors knew what to expect. I still use the phone case I bought from that trip (though I think I need to update!) so it’s nice to know the trip that I am reminded of a lot in my everyday life is on this list.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.05.37

This Belle ‘Beauty and the Beast’ cosplay is goals 

This was actually the first ever post on this blog, so it will always have a special place in my heart. First of all, I just want to say a big thank you to the cosplayers and all the photographers who helped make this post a reality. Especially, as it really is the content that you all provided that make this post come to life. I have admired the cosplayers in this post for a long time so it was absolute honour to conduct this interview.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.07.20

Image: Laura Beresford Photography

Feminist Reading Journey: Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

While my feminist reading journey posts are definitely not over though perhaps on a little bit of a hiatus; it is definitely encouraging to know that this is one of my most viewed blog posts. I have no idea why this post is so much more popular than the other posts in the series. Perhaps, I actually reviewed the book more than usual in this post, and didn’t go off on a tangent though I just read back the post and there was a big tangent before the post even started!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.09.12

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Dodie’s ‘Secret for the Mad’ Book Review (and Pop up shop) 

Since ‘Secrets for the Mad’ is up there with my favourite books of 2017 (let me know if you’d like a whole post about what were actually my favourite books of the year); I am very happy that this is one of my most viewed posts as it is also one of my last posts of 2017. I’m also very happy to say that I am going to see Dodie in April next year (I can’t wait!!!), so hopefully there will be a concert post coming your way (which, will most likely be my first ever concert review/ post!).

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.10.09

Riverdale’s Archie and Miss Grundy and the worrying repeated sexualisation of student-teacher relationships

Ok, so I have a major confession in relation to this post and that is that I really need to catch up with Riverdale. As I ashamed to say I still have not finished season one. Something, I am going to make sure I change this year, especially since so many of you seem to enjoy this post. If I can get organised enough, I’d love to do reviews of episodes or of seasons as a whole.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.11.17

Image: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix 

I’ve officially finished my Master’s degree 

This post was one of the posts I was most nervous about sharing this year, but I am so glad I did. Since then, my courage about what I post, and even what I say in ‘real life’ has gone up so much. Yes, I’m still nervous, and unbearably awkward when I don’t know someone well, but I’m a lot more honest, which is just such a relief for me on so many occasions.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.12.41

The Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf Collection is here 

I’m happy that there is at least one other fashion related post on this list because fashion is really what I would like to try and blog more about this year. This collection is what truly got me into Lazy Oaf, and since then not only has my ‘style game’ in my opinion got more quirky and improved, but I’ve had so much fun talking to people who love the brand also. I can’t wait to see what the brand comes up with in 2018, and I hope to expand my collection even more this year!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.14.00

So there it is, my top nine for 2017. I know since it’s New Years Day this post is coming maybe a bit late. But I also know I’m unashamedly going to be posting more reflective posts all this year (as long as it’s the first week of the year it’s ok, right?). I personally can’t wait to see what this year will bring from fellow bloggers, and on my own blog. I’m so happy that I finally actually have a blog after wanting one for years so to be honest I’m over the moon and ecstatic everytime I get a view or a comment.

Thank you to anyone who has read my blog and made that happen.

April

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New Year Resolutions: 2017

I wasn’t sure at first whether I wanted this post to also include my highlights and some moments from my year that were not highlights (as I believe in balance), however, I think that is best in another post (plus, you know I’m inconsistent with posting so this way there will hopefully be more content). For as long as I can remember I’ve always made new year resolutions, whether I’ve stuck to them is another thing entirely. I have a habit of dreaming too big and letting myself because my goals were too impossible so I’ve vowed to make my resolutions this year a bit smaller.

  1. Travel to Japan

I am determined this year that I’m not going to make grand travel plans again and then watch them fall through- I’m actually going to go to the places I planned! Money though as per usual is tight, and to be honest it feels like a lot of the time that I won’t make this goal. However, travelling is one of my main passions in life, and one of the memories that I have which make me truly feel happy, and excited to talk about so I’m determined to make this vision a reality. Therefore, this year, Japan here I come.

Source: Giphy (Tumblr credit on image) 

2. Finish all the films in the Studio Ghibli canon

This year is the year that Studio Ghibli has truly entered my life. I know for a lot of people I am VERY behind the curve, but well I’m just slow. At the moment my favourite Studio Ghibli film is Kiki’s Delivery Service, so much so that you can read the little love letter I wrote to the film here. After that, Spirited Away is my favourite, followed by Howl’s Moving Castle and then My Neighbour Totoro. The reason some fan favourites are not higher up in my list is simply that I have not watched them yet, so that is my plan for this year. Ideally, I’d like to watch them all before I visit Japan, and spend way too much money in the Studio Ghibli museum (it is the one place I’m going to allow myself to over indulge a bit while in Japan).

Source: Spirited Away/ Giphy 

3. Finish my novel

I think I’ve made some vague comments on here to signal that I’m writing a novel, and if I haven’t well, I am, writing a novel that is. I’m trying to write 2,000 words a week, which was going well till Christmas, but luckily I’m not that far behind. At the moment not everything is necessarily in chronological order, but at the start I was just trying to make sure I actually got the 2,000 words a week written that it didn’t matter to me as much. My resolution then is try to focus on tidying up what I have so far, and actually come up with a plan on what direction I want the novel to go in.

Source: Giphy 

4. Try to focus on what brings me joy

This may seem a bit of a general resolution, but I think one of the main issues I’ve had in the last couple of years with my happiness is that I’ve focused on everything spiralling in my life, and to be honest I’m sick of being negative. So I’m going to focus on the things I look forward to and am excited for like MCM London Comic Con in May, my trip to Japan, reading books and watching shows I love (because there is nothing wrong with getting excited about that).

I also think a part of this is focusing on my mental health, and trying to do more things to help it, rather than just ignoring it.

Source: Giphy

5. Organise this blog

I feel like every person with a blog has this on their list right now, and I for one definitely feel like this blog needs it. My goal is to have one post a week, it doesn’t have to be a set theme (as that makes life difficult) or a set day (though I’m toying with it being a Friday). I might sometimes have more than one post a week, but at the moment I want at least one.

I also would like to try categorising my posts more and see if I can get some subheadings on my site to make it easier for people to search. I know my posts discuss a variety of different topics, and some people might only be interested in book reviews for example or fashion so I’d like to make it easier for people to find the section they like.

Content wise I’d also like to discuss some of my favourite vegetarian/ vegan places to eat, or things I like to eat. Especially, when travelling, as this is something I’m definitely aiming to talk about in regards to my trip to Japan (because as a vegetarian traveller its definitely something I’ve thought about and read and watched a lot of videos about).

Source: Giphy

6. Complete my chapter for a secret project

I’m hoping that because January is the month that most of us have a spike of productivity that this is enough to fuel me to finish an essay for a project I was kindly accepted to be a part of. I won’t say anymore in case my essay doesn’t make the cut, but essentially I need to stop stalling and get writing (which, essentially is the story of my life).

Source: Giphy

7. Dye my hair a new colour 

I’m currently planning to dye my hair today (and hopefully it should be done by the time this post is out), but after a few months of not knowing what colour I wanted my hair to be I have come to the conclusion that I think I would like it pink again at some point, and if I ever decide to cut it silver.

Red Hair

Spoiler alert: I dyed my hair. 

These I will be honest aren’t all my resolutions but they are the ones I’m sharing because they are the ones I most want to have a reminder for (note how I said not held accounted to- please don’t do that unless explicitly asked to by people). Let me know if you have any similar New Years revelations below because although we all know that you can make the change whenever you want to, sometimes we need a boost and there’s nothing wrong with using the concept of New Years to do that.

April

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Anti Bullying Week: My experiences and what I’ve learnt

It’s anti bullying this week so I thought it’d be an apt time to jump on the bandwagon as it were and discuss my experiences with bullying. I’ve been bullied on several different occasions and at times although I didn’t fully realise at the time I have engaged in bullying behaviour. I think a lot of the times this is something we are scared to admit about ourselves so instead will only talk about the real, horrible cases of bullying, rather than the day to day routine behaviour we saw (or even participated in) that we didn’t realise could have lasting effects as well.

Dodie’s bravery in talking about bullying in her latest book (my review for which can be found here), and how she had engaged in it too because she was afraid, and it was easier, helped to inspire me to speak up about this. The reason she gave of being afraid the conversation would turn to herself instead is really my reason as well. From what I can remember from my hazy memories, my bullying behaviour was joining in with nicknames and not thinking about the consequences. Behaviours I thought was teasing but added to the persona of a person, and didn’t let them define themselves on their own terms. If the people I did this to (I don’t think the list is long but it’s probably longer than I’d like to think) are reading this I’m sorry I went along with the crowd. Sure, I might have not been the loud voice egging people on, but that doesn’t mean I am not guilty. At the time I didn’t even realise but looking back now I know this behaviour matters.

I know how bullying makes you feel. Even the little comments can feel like a heart attack to your nerves. Usually when I’ve been bullied they picked up the easy part to latch on to, which is that I was chubbier than the other children in the age group. Or when I was a teenager and not the weight I was made to feel but because I never had the part where I could eat and nothing be there (not that there is anything wrong with that). I was made to feel like my body could never fit in. It was easy for them to latch on to my body because society told them everywhere it was not desirable. It was easy to latch on to because I knew this, and was insecure about it. I also wouldn’t fight back.

Now I’d like to think I wouldn’t let it not touch me but I’m not impenetrable. It still would. Then, they probably didn’t realise that their tiny comment was all I thought about every minute of the day. What it would be like when I was smaller. When was food, what I should eat (or not eat) to achieve this.

This is still not something I think will ever escape me, but it has dropped down my priority levels now so that my day is more than that. I’ve never made negative comments about people’s weight or appearance or tried to belittle them in that way, but the little bits of behaviour I was complicit in could have effected someone in the same way.

My message from this then is that you may think because you’re not a bully (or the stereotypical definition of one) that you’re behaviour is in fact not bullying type behaviour. Before, you dismiss something as teasing let yourself really think about whether they are in on the joke or not.

I forgave my bullies/ antagonists a long time ago. They just weren’t worth the effort. I think in the end they realised they had been as wrong about me as I’d been about them. Everyone just never bothered to get to know anyone, and just stuck to their labels.

Maybe it’s about time we throw those labels and preconceptions away. It’s hard and you have to be strong to resist the crowd (and when you’re going through your own insecurities that is damn near impossible). I used to get so wound up about the people who didn’t like me for seemingly no particular reason and wondered what was fundamentally wrong with me to make that so. Now, I know sometimes people just don’t click (though they didn’t need to ignore me though or make it obvious though- just saying) and you’ll never please everyone.

I don’t know what I would have done growing up if social media defined my life and my experiences as much as it does this generation growing up now (perfect Instagram photographs at every corner would have definitely sent me into a talespin) so anyone growing up with that as my upmost respect. Especially as words online cut as deep as any that come out of people’s mouths.

This anti-bullying week join me in reflecting over your past behaviour, and seeing how you can be better moving forward. Be the second thought that comes into your head, not the judgemental first one that you didn’t even consciously decide.

I’ve officially finished my Masters degree

Image: Pexels (A representation of a students life if they are way more hip than I was/ somehow have enough time to use a type writer, and like coffee). 

A short(ish) and slightly personal post ahead. This is just a warning so you know for what you’re getting yourself in for, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!!! Anyway, to the point. The other day, I got my dissertation results and I’m proud to say that my calculations come to the conclusion that I got a distinction overall for my Masters (I really hope this doesn’t come to haunt me lol and it turns out I worked it out wrong).

People who know me personally will know how much this meant to me, not least because I’m a perfectionist but also because I didn’t get the grade I wanted in my undergraduate degree. While blame can of course be blamed on me (and the demon that is procrastination- mostly fear of failing procrastination); a lot of the reason for my result was because of events in my third year of university that essentially meant I was feeling the lowest with my mental health I have ever felt in my life. Although, it has been hard; I’ve finally started to feel like there is a way out of that black hole (though I am by no means magically ‘better’) thanks to the support of my friends and Martin. And due to a whole lot of fighting on my own part. However, at that point in my life I’m not surprised now I didn’t get the result I wanted- I can barely even recognised myself in the person I was that year. I basically should have asked for help and said I was not coping. But I was too stubborn/ afraid to. So what I am saying is, if you’re struggling, ask for the help, confide in someone, I know it’s scary and feels more challenging than whatever you are going through, but it will help so much more in the long run. I honestly wish I had and should have done.

And for those like me who didn’t quite get what they wanted the first time round, I just wanted to let you know you can do it. And basically you’re going to go through a lot of things that suck, and make you feel like there is no way out. But there is, you can do it, and if you need someone to talk to message me. Alternatively, please check out the helplines just below.

Mind (mental health charity)

0300 123 3393

info@mind.org.uk
Text: 86463

https://www.mind.org.uk

The Samaritans (free support for anyone who needs it) 

116 123 (UK) (24/7 every day)

jo@samaritans.org

https://www.samaritans.org

I also want to say a big congratulations to Callie and a thank you for all your support. Ciara- you did amazing, I’m so proud even though you’re older than me lol but I’m definitely the middle aged one of the group. Mitchell- I know you’re going to do amazing. Holly, well done on your Masters, and 4 years putting up with me-we did it (again)!!!

There’s so many more people I could mention and want to but it would make this post far longer than it already is. But everyone else on my Masters course (you know who you are if you’re reading this- well done you’re all amazing).

I also want to say a longer big thank you to the long suffering individual that is Martin, thank you for actually attempting to read my dissertation- it was much appreciated. A big thank you to my mum too for always believing in me.

To anyone else reading, it’s never too late to change your path, whether it be job wise, grade wise, mental health wise. And don’t worry I’m going to stop pretending I’m a life coach now (though let’s face it you’d all buy my motivational DVD because it’d be hilarious).

🍂April🍂

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Post University Panic: A Hopefully Helpful Post

(I chose the above image, as it is kind of a good image to define what I looked like for most of university-I miss my long hair so much! I would have posted a picture of my Masters graduation ceremony, but it hasn’t happened yet! Image credit: Holly Campbell.)

I almost didn’t post anything today but I’m really trying to be consistent with posting so thought I’d post instead how I’ve been feeling recently. Plus, I just did some exercise and it helped clear my head a little bit so think I might be able to actually get something out that is not a rambling mess. So for those of you who do not know I’ve finished university for the second time, as I’ve just completed my Masters course (though I’m still waiting for my final grade). Alongside that my significant other has also finished their course, and my friends who were on the course I did.

Although, I can pretty much just about cope with the fact that we are all not students anymore; I have to admit that the thought still kind of scares me. The last four years of my life have been defined by me being a student. A lot of my most memorable moments in my life like taking up running, going travelling alone, and meeting a lot of my friends and significant other all happened at university. I’ve changed so much that to be honest it is hard to connect to the timid, shy person that I was in some ways before university (though she’s still there and definitely comes out when I’m anxious or stressed). And while parts of me have come bubbling back recently- I’ve started to revert a lot more back to the middle aged, no drinking, serious April and away from the fun loving, carefree persona I tried very hard to adopt- I think now I land somewhere in-between.

However, changing or not, the time after university is hard. Everyone wants to know what you are going to do now. What you want to do. Basically, they want to know if university was worth it career wise. I’m lucky that I actually have found a job after university that I will start at soon (but I’m not going to post what it is or anything like that just out of privacy), but it is within the industry that I went to university to study for. I did though on my way get an endless stream of rejections. I also still see my friends being rejected. Bright, qualified, friendly, amazing people that should be fighting down job interviews. Yet, we can all barely make ends meet. Seriously, don’t look at my bank account right now it will make you weep. And no it’s not fair. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is for anyone who is in that position right now. I just want you to know I get you. I know what’s it like to have no money, and to be scared that you will never find a job. I know this may not be what you want to hear from someone who is lucky enough to have found a job, but I am still going to have a good few months of struggling to make ends meet left. Also, I just want to point out here that I know that there there are always people who have it worse, and I am incredibly privileged to have it as good as I do but comparing people’s issues (unless in an appropriate scenario) never helps. We all have pain, and I would never dismiss someone’s experience because it is not as “bad” as my own.

So for those of you finishing university who do not know what to do take a breath.

Write down a ten year plan of where you went to be. Brainstorm things you like if you don’t know what industry you want to be in. Then, write down your skill set (not focusing on experience), writing down what you enjoy, and also what you want to know/ be able to do.  Set plans on how you will get there. I’ve done my fair share of unpaid voluntary work (for charity’s I have to mention I have no issue with this) and internships that yes, should have been paid. But those positions gave me experience and got me noticed. I know the struggle of trying to fit unpaid work around your paid work. No, I cannot afford to just be paid expenses and come in 5 days a week (I have bills to pay!). There are though lots of places that take submissions (this is for writers)- it sucks but write for free, and get that portfolio out there. Then, when you get to that position of power, help me tear the whole system down.

Also, just so you know tonight I’m genuinely going to sit and take my own advice, and force my significant other to as well. As yes I have a position I’m very excited about starting, but I’m not going to give them my best self unless I know what direction I want to go in. So that involves making sure I tie up my loose ends and projects I’ve been neglecting. As I’m determined to go in with the best positive mindset.

I understand wanting to wallow, and trust me my friends can tell you that I have done more than my fair share. But, I’m so happy that they actually know that for once (minus an incident in my second year of university where I sat on the floor in a teddy bear onesie eating Nutella). Wallowing though surprisingly enough has never made me feel better. Neither does pretending everything is ok. Faking it till you make it is not necessarily something I recommend either. Asking for help, and trying your best is what I do recommend.

Trust me, this is not where I thought I’d be after university but although it’s not perfect; I know I’m going to be happy. I have so many things in my life to be lucky for, and there is so much promise in my future. And I know that you have promise too. So I’m going to keep writing, and keep posting here even though I stress out over every post and think it’s imperfect, uncool and not polished because I’m boring, not attractive enough to be interesting, and just plain not interesting. I’m going to keep going because I enjoy writing for this blog. It’s the only diary I’ve ever consistently wrote in at my life. It stops me repeating myself. It gives me an outlet (I really don’t like not being busy). So to anyone who actually consistently reads my posts, thank you for reading, and if you’re a fellow creator message me and let’s create something together (especially if it’s autumn themed-I’m one of the people who is definitely autumn obsessed). On that note, my goal by the end of this year is to FINALLY start my own YouTube channel (something I’ve wanted to do for years); I just have to wait till I can afford a camera and pluck up the courage. However, it’s now on the internet so please call me out if I don’t do it. I’m also going to hopefully post a blog post with a list of all my goals for the end of this year and next year so I can kind of categorise how I do.

So this post may have got onto a bit of a tangent but what I wanted to say was life is going to feel like it sucks for a while, and I hate that but don’t give up because trust me if you can get through university you can get through this. Yes, “adulting” sucks and your life may feel like an unfunny version of Friends; but just take a step back, breathe, and keep pushing on. After all, think of the relief when you finish this part of the run (sorry a running analogy is the best I can come up with)- and hopefully the promise of the “runners high” will get you through it. I know this may seem like generic, unhelpful advice, but it’s just how I’ve been soldiering on, and I think more than anything it helps to talk about this issue and know that everyone else’s lives aren’t perfect and that they are struggling too.

I know it at least helps me!

🍂April 🍂

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