Fashion, Lifestyle

My never-ending love affair with January sales

Anyone who’s friends with me will know I have a slight shopping problem. Once a week or so my debit card will slip out of my pocket in exchange for a piece of clothing that, at that moment, I just need.

This time of year is the worst for it, as one of the few people who love January (thanks to my birthday being smack bang in the middle of the month), I don’t have that spendthrift attitude that 95% of the world has realised is necessary to finally implement, instead I’m channeling the ‘treat yourself’ mantra. I deserve it… right?

I look forward to the January sales as much as I get excited for the festive season that precedes it. It’s not just a matter of buying a nice new pair of shoes or top, it’s a battle of tolerance, courage, and willpower. The seasoned shopper will know that once November comes, the current season is well and truly in place, and in the space of one short month- well, that pair of boots you’re coveting? It’s gonna be half price. Now, this is where it gets interesting- do you:

A. Buy the shoes, and just hide under a rock come sale time to avoid the financial crushing that is to come?

B. Leave them, and risk it all– assuring yourself that you will be the first one in that sale queue? (N.B. You won’t.)

C. Consider A & B whilst walking around the shops, decide on B- then panic as soon as you get home and end up ordering online and suffering the daylight robbery that is a delivery charge.

Decisions, decisions. I can’t lie, I’m definitely more of an A than a B, but there’s also a magical secret category D I haven’t mentioned. The undiscovered items that appear in your life once final clearance arrives. Some may think that final clearance is literally everyone else’s unwanted crap, but that my friends is where you are wrong. I have picked up some absolute gems over the past couple of weeks at just a third of the price that I never would have noticed on the shop floor- my favourite being a pair of M&S jeans for TEN POUNDS FIFTY. My Pret lunch costs more! For every regret of overspending for an item I’ve had I can now say I’ve purchased an absolute steal to match it. Maybe my next shopping decision should be the art of the capsule wardrobe- although the likelihood of that happening is slimmer than my wallet after my January sales spending.

Lifestyle

How dating apps are making people forget that common courtesy exists

There’s a new word in the English Language. In fact, it’s not even a new word, it just has a new meaning. What is that word I hear you ask? Ghosting. When looking up the definition of ghosting on the ever so reliable Urban Dictionary, it says: ‘The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.’

Charming, eh? Although, there’s one slight error in this definition, it specifies that ghosting occurs whilst people are dating. That’s not quite accurate. In the ever increasing popularity of dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Grindr… (the list goes on), ghosting can occur at any point. In fact, it doesn’t even just occur from someone you may have met ‘cyberly’, someone you may occur face to face and have met in the old fashioned way, (by old fashioned I mean reality), can equally be guilty of the same thing. Then, if a girl or guy considers asking perhaps why they’re no longer in favour, it’s considered weird! How did this become a thing when general social conduct is now seen as a taboo, and acting in a way our parents told us was out of order at childhood is now the key to success?

I watched a documentary before about an American guy who consistently talks to, dates, beds, then ghosts girls. Any little thing can be the reason as to why, they may text the wrong thing, or he might just get bored. He seemed to think this kind of thing was OK to do, because thats what people on dating apps expect…?? When did it actually get to the point that social media became the dictator of how someone should or shouldn’t act, rather than real life conversation, with, yes, you guessed it… real. life. people. Mad right?

Whether in reality, in romance, or in friendship, I think we all need to take a step back and think. Yes, the majority of communications sadly seem to go through mobile phones, but the person at the other end of that phone shares something majorly in common with you. They are also a living, breathing, human being- who’d have thought?

Imagine if you were sat, talking to someone on a bench, and right in the middle of the conversation they just stood up and left with no explanation. You’d be confused as to why, and you’d probably want to know their reasonings! Although it’s not the exact same thing as when you’re on your phone it’s a similar concept, and it’s just damn rude. Call me an old lady but I believe that basic banners need to become fashionable again, and we should all just get a bit more respect for our fellow human beings.

Lifestyle

Why it doesn’t make me wrong to love D-List (or maybe Z-List) celebrity culture

When people ask me what TV shows I watch regularly, I always pause for a second, and my mind starts ticking. Do I A) Say the current ‘in’ show, which I’ve seen, but don’t quite ‘get?’ B) Admit defeat, and profess that Coronation Street is probably the only show I’ve consistently watched over the last 23 years? C) Or C? Go for an old favourite, a series I’ve watched a million times and probably made myself a little bit sick of by now? (Gossip Girl and Peep Show, I’m looking at you.)

When people ask you what you enjoy, in regard of ‘pop culture’ and taste, it’s more than a simple ‘I like this person/show/song’ answer, you actually become a victim to your response, from one simple answer, often, your whole persona is shaped from that, as with most things, you become judged on your tastes.

Now I have a guilty secret, actually, secret is the wrong word, as I’m not afraid to share it. I have a guilty pleasure. As a Journalism student, I’m sure some people may look down on me for this, but I’m partial to a particular sidebar of shame. BUT WAIT! Please, before you shut down your browser with a look of disgust on your face, let me just explain! I enjoy reading celebrity ‘gossip’ on a variety of different platforms for one simple reason- it provides a sense of escapism.

Just like I enjoy watching Coronation Street- whilst it’s not entirely realistic, its entertaining, I also appreciate lowbrow celebrity culture. Why? Because these things don’t take much energy to watch or read, its a chance to turn your brain off for a while and just immerse yourself into some crap. For a bit, you get to forget about all the little problems that life has brought forward and instead, put yourself into a new world, where you find out who’s pregnant, (seemingly everyone at the moment), and who the newest couples are, and whilst you read this you have complete and utter apathy. Is there anything wrong with that? No. As a self confessed drama queen its nice to gain information without, to be frank, caring.

Is it so wrong for me to be more interested in the latest Taylor Swift break up than (yet another) Dickens novel sometimes? Do I have to alwaaaays do things that include ‘bettering’ myself? Personally, I don’t appreciate this social hierarchy that exists purely on some specific tastes, and that goes across the board. I’m the type of girl who will wear a designer handbag, worth far too much money, with a £2 top I found in a charity shop, simply because I don’t care. If I want something, materialistic, or physical, regardless of whether it ‘matters’ I’ll do it.

Although this sounds petty, I think if we promoted this to a grander scheme, and put it into a bigger perspective, it speaks a lot about society in general. Of course, some things do matter, but other things don’t, and maybe if we had less scales which controlled what’s right and wrong, and more of going with what we feel, things would be a lot better.

 

 

Lifestyle

Is procrastination really our own fault?

Blame yourself for leaving your work until the absolute deadline again? Fear not, psychologists say it’s not all you.

We all do it.

In fact, you’re probably doing it right now. Procrastination, aka ‘the act of delaying or postponing something’ is the devil on all of our shoulders. We can do it on a small scale- by thinking, ‘oh I’ll just have a quick break, and then I’ll get in the zone’- (which is all well and good, until you’re stuck in a black hole of Youtube videos…) but the question is, do we blame ourselves for our procrastination, or is it just human nature?

Dr Joseph Ferrari says, “Procrastination is not waiting and it is more than delaying. It is a decision to not act.  It is very helpful and useful to gather information to make an informed decision, but when one simply continues to gather beyond the point of adequate resources, then they are being indecisive and the waiting is counterproductive.”

Whereas, Tim Urban says in his online blog Wait but Why, “For a real procrastinator, procrastination isn’t an option, it’s something they don’t know how not to do.”

I think procrastination is something that is just more common now, and that’s partially because of how impatient we are. As a twenty something stereotype, the concept of the long term has completely changed, and we just don’t have the endurance that society around us had even 40 years ago.

The main culprit of that? The mobile phone. We may think that ‘just a quick check of our screens’ won’t make a difference, but say if we have a look every five minutes or so, whether it’s having a peek at our Facebook notifications, or replying to our texts, that adds up to twelve times an hour.

Dr Joseph Ferrari says that he doesn’t believe today’s technology is an excuse for us to procrastinate more, as there are apps that exist that help us to not procrastinate. In fact, we are actually at an advantage compared to what we were before.

“The relationship between technology and procrastination was actually born with the snooze button.” He says. The more we press it, the more we are getting into the habit of putting off our day. If we are starting our day with the attitude of putting off even getting up, we are pretty much doomed! We are constantly fooling ourselves.

Recent research has shown that we procrastinate to put off our negative emotions and anxiety about what is to come, and we seek instant gratification by simply distracting ourselves and pushing away what we don’t want to do for as long as possible.

We are burdening ‘future us’, treating ourselves as two separate people, and rewarding the person we are currently dealing with. Again, Tim Urban, now in a Ted talk, personifies this with a little ‘Instant Gratification Monkey’ that lives inside our mind, encouraging us to amuse ourselves in the now. It completely changes our mentality. If living in the present is easy and fun, why wouldn’t we want to do this instead of punishing ourselves and doing something that takes longer, and is more dull?

We are giving ourselves immediate short-term joy, when we could actually reward ourselves in the long term if we just got our heads down and focused. When you think about it like that, it seems ridiculous. We are all getting into our heads.

Psychologist Peter Pychyl, a specialist in procrastination says, “The key to kicking the habit is simply to just start what you need to do.” Rather than just being aware of something, why not make it a reality? It seems difficult, but as Pychyl says, it really isn’t, and he’s the professional.

We all know what we have to do, but until we just sit down and do it, we aren’t actually connected to the activity itself. It’s like thinking about a really good Christmas gift that you’ve seen in the shop. You know it’s there, you know who you’d like to give it to, but, unless you go to the shop and actually hand over the money, that’s where it’ll stay.

If we just try and stop, or even just cut down our procrastination, we could be treating ourselves to a whole new life mantra. As Urban says, “Procrastination isn’t just about the little things- like getting that essay in on time”. You could have your own life goals, personal dreams that have always been just that, a simple aspiration that you could never imagine becoming a reality. Yet, how do we know these things are unrealistic, unless we try and do them? If we change our attitudes towards procrastination in the short term, then this outlook could impact everything we do, and actually feel manageable.

I’ve found, that so often, once I start writing something, whether it’s something I have to do, like writing an article, or something I should do, like tidy my room, once I get into it, an hour can just pass by, and often, shockingly, I’m enjoying it! The activity is never actually as bad as I thought it was going to be, it’s just been built up in my mind. The anxiety that I had towards it before magically evolves to relief, and things then become manageable.

So, I say why don’t we all form an alliance? Let’s make a promise to ourselves, and each other, that we will be more productive.

From this moment forward, let’s vow to work more at whatever we want to do, and let’s procrastinate less.

Now, I’m not going to be unrealistic, the proof is above that procrastination is a part of us all, and there are far too many Carpool Karaoke videos online for it not to be. Yet, despite that, and as nerdy as it may seem, I do actually enjoy doing my work.

So, to inspire you, here’s my promise. Rather than the 60 percent work, 40 percent procrastination balance I have going now- I’m going to try to make it more of an 80/20.

At least I will from tomorrow.

Lifestyle

In times of pressure, it’s the little things that mean the most

Similar to most people on my masters course, I am currently under a lot of pressure. Deadlines are looming, time seems to be passing by (much) more quickly than normal, and theres a mountain of work that seems to be reaching a brand new height. Somehow I’m working through it, but I think that it’s mainly because I’m allowing myself little treats, just a couple a day that seem to make it all (temporarily) better.

When I say treats, I mean that I’m allowing myself things that I normally wouldn’t. Whether its that extra chocolate bar my waistline is begging me not to indulge in, or that cup of coffee that’s slightly more expensive than I can probably afford on a daily basis, I’m ignoring my mental objections and saying yes to it all.

When I think back to other times of pressure and stress, whether its a deadline, or important news, it’s always been those small delights that have made things better. When I was living in Manchester in my final months of my undergraduate degree, my parents would sometimes drive over, and we would just meet for a few hours for lunch. Those few hours of escapism were complete and utter bliss for me, and definitely contributed to my sanity in those fatal final weeks.

I’m not saying everyone is like me, some people don’t need the distractions, they can work straight through with their rewards at the end, and that’s probably the more logical way. You succeed, you get a ‘prize’. That’s always how it’s been in life, and it does make a lot of sense. But, in this day and age where society is becoming more and more impatient, and motivation seems like more of a hope than a concept, we need everything we can to keep us going.

This week, as a little pick me up, my friends and I went to a little coffee shop for lunch. I just had a cup of tea and a brownie, nothing special, but just taking that hour out to sit away from the confines of the university library and just relax, made an afternoon of law and ethics that bit easier.

So, next time your day just seems that little bit too hard, and you’re dreaming of that glass of wine, or even that top you’ve seen in your favourite magazine, go for it. Give yourself that little lift. Although the euphoria may only last for a short time, more often than not it can provide the small boost that you need in order to have a successful and productive day. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Giving yourself all the tools that you need to give yourself the best results possible, no matter what they may be.

All together now. TREAT. YO’. SELF.