Time to reflect.

Okay so this isn’t a tag of any kind, although it could turn into one if people want it to be one. I got these questions off one of my favourite musical theatre performers Sierra Boggess as she posted this on her Twitter page yesterday. I love Sierra; she constantly promotes positivity and her Twitter bio is ‘You are enough. You are so enough, it’s unbelievable how enough you are’ which says it all really.

5 biggest highlights from 2013 1. Going back to university 2. Turning 21 3. Getting to go to Ascot with my colleagues (one of my life ambitions fulfilled!) 4. Getting closer to some of my friends 5. Reaching my weight goal.

What are you most proud of and why? Probably maintaining my 2:1 in my degree after being on my placement year. Trying to write 14,000 words (across 3 different essays) whilst working full time was incredibly hard but I did it!

What did you learn most about yourself? That I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I’d been saying for years that I would lose weight and improve my health and fitness but I never did. Now I can say that I fulfilled a New Year’s resolution!

What surprised you the most? That I’m more independent and determined than even I realised. I had to be a proper adult this year, learn how to pay bills and deal with shitty landlords.  It was hard work but so worth it when I won and they had to give in because they were in the wrong!

What goals did you succeed in accomplishing? Losing weight primarily. I didn’t really have a lot of goals this year. I just wanted to enjoy it and I really have.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you handle them? Living and working with people I didn’t know. It was definitely a new experience for all of us and there were some ups and downs during the year but I feel like we came out of it the other side by being pragmatic and adult.

Who were the people who had the greatest impact on you and how did that affect you? Ah now I feel all cheesy and gushy but I’m going to be honest; my friend Charlotte. We were already good friends when we finished our second year at university and went on our respective work placements but I think being so close to one another geographically and having no one else from university nearby during that time really bonded us and I now considered her one of my very closest friends. We talk about things now that we’re back that no one else understands and they’re just these amazing memories that we have. I go to her for everything and talk to her everyday and I’m thankful to have her in my life!

Me & Charlotte

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of and why? Probably just following through with my placement and volunteering for as many opportunities as possible whilst I was there so that I could learn as much as possible.

What didn’t you do that you wish you done? I honestly cannot think of anything. I visited so many places this year and met so many new people who influenced my life. 2013 was an amazing year.

What friendships meant the most to you and why? Again Charlotte for what I’ve discussed above. Also, my friend Jemma for being an absolutely wonderful housemate and friend who I adore and who helped me through one of the toughest times of my life when my dog passed away. I could give shout outs to so many people but I feel like I may forget some so forgive me if I do forget you: Hannah, Lara, Kat, Sam V, Lauren, Rosie, Beth, Una, Esther, Matt, Beth, Molly, Laura, Pete, Abbie…oh god now I’m running out of people!

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What was one of the best decisions you made? Deciding not to care what other people think of me and not bothering with those who equally don’t bother. If you’re going to be a bitch, I’m not going to bother making any effort!

What day would you relive if you could relive one day? Oooo that’s hard! End of Year Ball probably – I came back up to Hull and had a fabulous time with the ones I love!

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What if any regrets do you have? Not keeping in as regular contact with some of my friends since I’ve been back at uni. It’s such a stressful lifestyle and you live in a bubble so you often forget to call or text people back.

What made you laugh? More like who – my colleagues at Renault who I miss like mad! I laughed every single day I worked there and I count myself so lucky for that.

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What was one of the biggest risks you took and how did it turn out? Errmm, having an operation?! I mean it wasn’t a risk as such because I knew the end result but I was utterly terrified of it because I can’t remember the last one I had and I’m petrified of needles.

If you could change one thing what and why? My dog Mutley passing away but that’s easier said than done!

What was your biggest disappointment? Knowing what you know now would you do anything different if you had it to do over again? Ooo gosh! I can’t think of any right now. I’ll update this bit if it comes to me!

What did you do that deserved some kind of recognition? Again I can’t think of anything but I’m not one to think in that mindset, I just move on and forget about it all.

What was one of the most meaningful things someone did for you? Sent me flowers from work after my operation when I was at home and recovering.

What was one of the most meaningful things you did for someone? I can’t think of one thing in particular. Maybe some of my friends can help me with that one?!

What was one of your favorite romantic highlights? Ha there has been no romance in my life this year! Only thing I’ve experienced was through watching romcoms!

How are you different now than a year ago? It’s a cliche but I’m older and wiser. When you go for a year out, whilst at university, you just suddenly come back and realise that everything is different.

What were some meaningful compliments you received? That I look really good now I’ve lost weight. It might sound narcissistic but I had low confidence issues about it before so this makes me really happy now.

What’s still incomplete for you? I haven’t got the job of my dreams! That’s my main goal!

What are you most thankful for? My friends and my family.

Reflect on the upcoming year
What would you like to be different in your life year from now? I would hopefully like to have secured a ‘proper’ job to start in 2015 after I go travelling. I would also maybe like to have met someone now that my degree is out of the way and I have time for a relationship.

What personal goal commitments are you willing to make? Not really sure, I need to think about that one.

What bad habits would you like to rid yourself of? Cracking my knuckles – to be fair I don’t do it very often anymore but I’d rather stop it completely.

What unfinished business do you need to complete? Ha – my degree!

What would you like to have more of in your life? Family.

What would you like to have less of in your life? Two faced people though I’ve got rid of pretty much all of them now.

What relationships do you need to improve upon? I don’t think any relationship is ever perfect so just focus on continuing to develop friendships.

What’s the best advice you could give yourself? Don’t take the next 6 months too seriously. Work hard but try to relax and have fun as well or you’ll drive yourself mad.

What personal challenges do you anticipate? What is your strategy to handle these? Getting through my degree. Relying on my friends for support and eating chocolate (totally serious about this).

What professional challenges do you anticipate? What is your strategy for handling these? Getting a job and not remaining unemployed for the rest of my life?! Strategy = look for a job.

What special memories would you like to create? Being with my friends, even if we’re only just sat around the sofa, drinking wine and laughing. That’s special enough for me. And my trip to America with my oldest friend Lara! That’s going to hold very special memories as we’ll have known each other 15 years by the time we go over there.

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What do you plan to do just for you? Relax, read a book, go to the gym, eat, drink and be merry (cheesy but true).

What are you going to do to create healthy balance between family friends work and play? I’m just going to get very good at being organised, despite the fact that I am so already.

What are some personal growth opportunities? I honestly don’t know. I don’t think you know them until they hit you in the face.

What are you looking forward to? Graduating, going to America, possibly getting a job….who knows, we’ll see!

What is grief?

Most of the people that are going to read this blog are people who already know me, so they are likely to already know about what I’m going to discuss in this post. There may in the future, however, be people who read this blog who have never met me. As a result, they won’t know anything about what has happened in my life the last few months.

Roughly three and a half months ago, on 17th September 2013, my dog Mutley passed away. He was 14 and a half years old and had been in two – thirds of my life, if you want to get mathematical about it. He was my best friend, provided me with unconditional love for the entirety of his life and his parting was so sudden and unexpected that it was a massive shock for me and my family and a real struggle to get over. Yet, very soon after he left us, I had to dive straight into university life and being in my final year, I did not really have the time to process his death properly. Yes I did cry over the few weeks that followed and some of my closest friends were utterly amazing with the support they gave me, but I was so ridiculously busy from the time I got back to Hull (after travelling back down South to say goodbye), that I rarely had the time to stop and think about him. Although he was at the back of my mind always, I had so many other things to worry about, such as society shows, assignment deadlines, graduate applications, and so on, that he never really came to the forefront.

Now I’ve been at home for the Christmas holidays for almost a week and I’ll admit that I’m really struggling to cope. I’m incredibly happy to be back with my parents and Mabel, our remaining family pet, but there is a huge hole in our house now that is never going to be filled.  Well that’s what it feels like at the moment anyway.  Mutley had this huge personality and even if you weren’t in the same room as him, you could feel him in the house. I don’t want to lessen the love that individuals with siblings have for their pets, and I know that this may come across as a bit bizarre, but as an only child, Mutley was extra important to me and he almost became a surrogate sibling. Mutley was not just a pet, and that is why grieving him is that much harder. Now that I’ve handed in my work for the semester and I don’t have any extracurricular activities to think about and plan, Mutley is always on my mind. I keep expecting him to walk into a room, and there have been a couple of times when I’ve gone to call for him and then had to stop and remind myself that he isn’t there any more. That’s really hard. Whilst I know that my mum will never get over him leaving us, she even herself admits that she’s had the time to get used to him not being here, to process the grief properly. I haven’t. I’ve been away in a world of my own, much like I was in first, second and third year , and I’ve come back expecting him to be here.

All of this makes me wonder what grief actually is and what the expected time frame is for a person to get over someone they have lost. People say to think about the memories you have and the positive things he brought into my life, and I do everyday…but that doesn’t stop me from wanting him to be here! He was my life, I adored him and having one pet, not two, is something I don’t think I can cope with. Like I’ve said, I love being with my family, but I can’t actually wait to get back to university and re immerse myself in the stress of it all. I might complain about it at the time but it offers a massive distraction from the grief I have to deal with at home. I know that I will have to face it all properly at some point, and in some ways I already kind of am, but right now I don’t want to. My barriers are down from the pressures I’ve faced university – wise this last semester.

Before I finish this blog post, I’ve got to give particular thanks to Jemma and Charlotte who were rocks for me at the time that it happened. I found out about Mutley’s condition literally two days after I returned to Hull and they were the only people who were around at the time because I had gone back so early. But even if they had not of been the only people there, I know I would have gone to them first because they are amazing friends who have shown me time and time again that they will be there for me when I really need them to.

All that’s left to say is that I hope, in a year from now, I’ll have dealt with the grief, overcome it and moved on in a much more positive mind frame. Time will tell.

Thank you for reading. I just needed to get my feelings out on paper, of sorts.

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Mutley

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The other night, myself and a couple of my closest friends took some time off from essay writing and went to see the latest edition in the Hunger Games series – Catching Fire. I didn’t see the first film in the cinema as I had read the book when I first heard about the hype and if I’m honest, I had not been that overly impressed with it so I didn’t want to spend money on something I felt would just be mediocre. I did eventually rent the film when it came out and I have to say, I was pretty happy that I didn’t pay to see it because it was disappointing and it got dragged out for far too long.

As a result of not really enjoying the first film, I did not bother to read any of the other books. I just thought it would be a bit like Twilight and be a crappy book series that was just being turned into a film franchise because producers couldn’t come up with new ideas of their own. How wrong was I!! Catching Fire has been out for a couple of weeks now here in the UK and ALL of my friends who had already seen it were raving about it – even the ones who themselves admitted that the first film was not great. I therefore decided that as I had not had a single chance to go to the cinema this semester, I would use Catching Fire as my excuse to go for the first time in almost 16 weeks.

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I don’t want to spoil the plot in any way for those who haven’t seen it but all I am going to say is IT IS BLOODY AMAZING. I now HAVE to read book two and three over Christmas or I may explode with not knowing what is going to happen in the next film. The acting is second to none, the direction is extraordinary, the cinematography is sublime, the CGI is faultless…I could go on and on but I don’t want to bore you. All I will say is GO SEE IT. And none of this would have been possible without Suzanne Collins who I must say must have an incredible brain, because to come up with a story like that, with so many different complexities that you can still understand, is just insane and you need to be crazy talented!

Bring on ‘Mockingjay’!!!

A little rant.

So my next post has come slightly sooner than originally expected but I feel I have to get something off my chest!

Now I’m not one to regularly rant about gay rights as although I am a big supporter of the gay movement, I am not personally gay and therefore the abuse that those who are suffer from I am not subjected to. But after what happened with Tom Daley earlier this week, it outrages me that a London theatre critic has now been fired from his position at the Sunday Express because of his sexuality! The HR department of the newspaper were tipped off by a third party that photos of the critic, which were taken TWENTY TWO YEARS AGO, were featuring on a gay website. Twenty two years ago the internet did not exist and this critic was not working for that newspaper. They were taken by a photography friend as a favour and very quickly forgotten about. The critic had no idea that the photos were still around or that the website existed until yesterday and yet the newspapers have still sacked him because his appearance on that website could bring the company into “disrepute”!!!

Seriously?! He’s a theatre critic, not a famous celebrity and his sexuality should have no impact on his job, especially when he didn’t know about the photos in the first place! I AM DISGUSTED.

And the man who currently owns the newspaper used to run his own porn website!!! Oh the irony!!!

Thankfully this critic writes for two other publications as well so his source of income has not been entirely squashed, but even so, do you think this newspaper stopped to think about the impact this would have on his personal life?! No I doubt it either.

TMI Tag – Getting to know me a little bit better.

So it’s almost half 1 in the morning and I’m still not ready to go to bed (in my own opinion!).  I have therefore decided to start this blog properly with a TMI tag that I saw originally on my friend Hannah’s blog. You might find it interesting…you might not…but I thought it was a good thing to start with so you can get to know me better! Happy reading 🙂

What are you wearing?
In my pyjamas because I am sat in bed, feeling wide awake.

Have you ever been in love?
I thought I was once but I know now that I wasn’t – it was just a first crush thing and I got so swept up in the emotion of it all that when things didn’t go how I wanted them to, I was devastated and thought I would never get over it. Ever the melodramatic!

Have you ever had a terrible break-up?
Believe it or not but I’ve never been in a long term relationship so I’ve never been able to have a terrible break up.  I have dated people but I’m a very independent person so it’s never worked out with anyone thus far. I’m also a very determined person and know exactly where I want to go with my career so for me, that comes first and a relationship comes second.  If I do happen to meet someone in the very near future, then great but I’m not putting any pressure on myself.  I’m loving my life at the moment being single and seeing how hurt some of my friends have been recently from break ups makes me feel that at my age, relationships are a bit overrated.

How tall are you?
Five foot one and a bit which is fairly small but my mum is basically the same height as me, my dad is five foot seven which is short for a male (though he doesn’t like to be reminded of that – ha!) and the majority of my closest friends are no more than three or four inches taller than me so I’m never really aware of being a shortarse.

How much do you weigh?
Nine stone.  I used to be more but when I turned twenty I realised that I only have a few years left before being overweight will seriously affect my long-term health.  I therefore decided to go on a diet and although I’d tried it plenty of times in the past, this time I stuck to it religiously and I got to my goal in 9 months.  I continue to be incredibly proud of myself, although the student lifestyle (lots of drinking and stress related eating) means that I have to work that much more to keep it off.

Do you have any tattoos?
N0 – I have a phobia of them. Okay that sounds weird. It’s more linked to my mahoosive fear of needles but unless it is something tasteful, I hate to look at them, they give me the heeby jeebys (I think that’s how you would spell it!). I’ve already set out a rule for myself that I will never date someone with a tattoo because I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. I have been known to faint in public when walking past tattoo parlours and hearing the needles buzzing. I really really hate them!

Do you have any piercings?
Nope, I’m boring. I once wanted to get my ears pierced and was stood outside Claire’s Accessories ready to go in but then the girl before me in the queue screamed the place down when the gun went through her ear so that’s put me off for life.  My friends say it doesn’t hurt but a lot of time I forget to put my other jewellery on so I think it’s pretty pointless to get them done now to be honest because I would never remember to put anything in my ears.

What is your favourite TV show?
Oh god how much time have you got?! I am TV show addict, primarily American shows because I like the drama but there are some stunning British ones that I love to watch too.  Okay here’s “a few”: One Tree Hill (ultimate favourite of all time!), Friends, Sex And The City, Gossip Girl, 90210, Downton Abbey, Revenge, 2 Broke Girls, The Big Bang Theory, Glee, The Paradise (BBC), Mr Selfridge (ITV), Coronation Street (soap but I love it!)…..and the list goes on!

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Who are your favourite bands/singers?
I used to have one main group who I adored during my teenage years which was The Saturdays but I grew out of them by the time I left college and if I’m honest, I don’t think they’re as good as they used to be, they just seem to be copying everyone else! Now, I have lots of different favourites.  Generally, I’m a massive fan of people who can actually sing, rather than pretend to. I know I sound a bit pretentious saying that but I’m a singer and have trained since I was 8 so after 13 years of experience, I think I know what is good singing and what is not.  For example, I am NOT a fan of Miley Cyrus, Ellie Goulding, Diana Vickers et al because your voice IS NOT MEANT TO SOUND LIKE THAT.  But, I adore Jessie J because her range is just ridiculous, Little Mix because their harmonies are ALWAYS flawless, Bruno Mars because his voice sounds like liquid chocolate, Demi Lovato again because her voice is just ridiculous…and there are many others…

What is something you miss?
My family. I’ve been at university for ten weeks now and I’ve only seen my parents twice which is really hard considering I was able to see them at least once a month last year as I was on placement and based in London (much nearer to home). I am an only child and I don’t know if this is the main reason why but I’m incredibly incredibly close to my parents, they are my best friends and I wouldn’t be able to live without them so I cannot wait to go home for Christmas!

What is your favourite song?
That’s too difficult, I don’t like that question. I’m a musical theatre geek so I’m just going to say something from musical theatre.

How old are you?
21 years and 5 and a half months…to be specific! I’m a July baby!

Zodiac sign?
Cancer and I truly believe that I am my star sign through and through.  My mum has always been into astrology so I was brought up on it from an early age and for me, it explains a lot about myself and people who have passed through my life over the years.

Quality you look for in a partner?
Mature, nice to my friends, makes me laugh, someone who trusts me implicitly as I am independent, someone who my parents approve of because that means a lot to me…I could go on and on.

Favourite quote?
It’s going to sound a bit of a cliché but ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’.  I have it plastered all around me; on posters, on my phone case, on my bed covers, on my mug, on my cushion…bit excessive I know but since I came across that quote, my life has just seemed to fall into place so much more easily.

Favourite actor/actress?
Ok musical wise it has to be Sierra Boggess or Samantha Barks. Google them and you’ll understand why. Mainstream TV/cinema wise, it has to be Sophia Bush.  She is my idol and I adore her.

Favourite colour?
Hmmm don’t really have one. I like purple which is the colour of my room at home. I like to wear blue and green a lot because it compliments my hair colour and skin tone.

Loud or quiet music?
Depends really. If you walk into my room, chances are you’ll hear the soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera rather than pop songs that are in the charts. I turn those up loudly so I can sing along but otherwise I’m a quiet person.

Where do you go when you’re sad?
If I’m away from home, I don’t go anywhere, I just call my mum and talk to her about whatever is bothering me. If I am at home then I just go to wherever my mum is.

How long does it take you to shower?
If I’m not washing my hair, 10/15 minutes. If I am then I’d say more like half an hour. I have a lot of hair!

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
If I don’t wear make-up, twenty minutes. If I do, more like forty five.

Even been in a physical fight?
Nope. And don’t plan to be.

Turn on?
Erm, I haven’t ever really thought about it that much. I LOVE Irish accents and it is my aim in life to marry an Irish man as that would make me eternally happy. Apart from that, I’m not fazed.

Turn off?
Possessiveness, cockiness, being rude to my friends and family – if you do that, you’re out of here!

The reason you started blogging?
For this blog, because I wanted an outlet for my wondering thoughts which my other blog does not really allow me to do (unless it is about theatre!).

Fears?
Needles, injections, tattoos, death, losing members of my family, failing my degree, there’s probably more as I’m quite an anxious person.

Last thing that made you cry?
Performing Arts rehearsal last night because singing Bui Doi makes me well up – the Miss Saigon soundtrack is a killer.

Last time you said you loved someone?
That would be to my close friend Charlotte earlier today when I said bye to her as I left uni.  I see her every single day but I still like to say it because you never know what the future may bring!

Meaning behind your blog name?
I’m from Sussex, easy enough.

Last book you read?
Do academic books count?!

The book you’re currently reading?
Again, do academic books count?! I don’t have any time for reading as a hobby right now!

Last show you watched?
Coronation Street.

Last person you talked to?
One of my housemates, either Una or Beth, I don’t really know, I spoke to them all simultaneously.

The relationship between you and the last person you texted?
Again, Charlotte! As well as being very good friends, we do the same uni course so we are currently ranting to one another about all of our essays that are due in next week!

Favourite food?
Pizza, pasta, peanut butter – I’m not a fussy eater!

Place you want to visit?
A year ago today (well yesterday because it’s 2am), I was flying back from New York and I am desperate to go back now that I’m 21!

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Last place you were?
Tesco doing the good old weekly shop.

Do you have a crush?
Maybe! But that one is a bit too personal so I won’t be telling you about it.

Last time you kissed someone?
I kiss my friends cheeks a lot so I’m going to say someone at some point today. Probably Jemma.

Last time you were insulted?
A couple of weeks ago but I was so irate, I’m not going to go into it. Rather just move on and leave the past in the past.

Favourite flavour of sweet?
Not bothered. Like chocolate though!

Do you play any instruments?
I used to play the keyboard but then I was a typical teenager and got bored of my lessons. I can still sight read though so I hope to one day start again.

Favourite piece of jewellery?
Don’t really have a specific one.

Last sport you played?
Does the gym count?! Because I haven’t played a ‘sport’ since school otherwise.

Last song you sang?
‘Another Suitcase In Another Hall’ which I am performing at our Performing Arts showcase next week! Ahh!

Favourite chat-up line?
I fortunately haven’t been on the end of any bad ones so I couldn’t say.

Have you ever used it?
N/A.

Last time you hung out with anyone?
Today with my uni friends and housemates.

Who should answer these questions next?
Who knows! I can’t remember how many of my other friends actually blog on a regular basis (not that I do!).

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