Locked in…..Again

Did anyone else get really down when they first heard about this second lockdown? I definitely did! The first one was a novelty to everyone, something we had never seen or heard of before and with the help of Instagram memes and TikTok, we got through it. But at this point, it’s just boring. Who knew it would be November and things would still be the way that they are? I’m so grateful that I am a uni student and I am still allowed to attend seminars in person (socially distanced though) and in some way still have a sense of normality to life. But socially, things are extremely dull. For people who don’t even have the relief of going to school/university or work during this time I can’t even begin to understands what it feels like. But all is not lost, lockdown won’t last forever. You got through the first, you will get through the second.

Don’t be to hard on yourself to achieve your absolute best during this time. Everyone is struggling with something and everyone’s situations and feelings are valid. No day that you get through is a wasted day. It’s okay to sit and chill watching Netflix somedays. Productivity is not necessary 24/7. Look after your mental health, go for walks or runs, talk to family and friends, eat well, get enough sleep. Perhaps this is a great time to focus on you and your wellbeing?

And if you are a student at this point in time, the same applies. There’s no doubt that things will be different regarding how your days may be structured or how your courses/lessons are delivered and it’s okay to feel disorganised sometimes. I sometimes feel as if I’ve had no idea what’s been going on since I started again in September. But remember you are capable. You are where you are for a reason and you are capable to getting to the place that you want to be.

My heart and prayers go out to all those who are grieving at this time, those who are struggling to get by and those who are finding it hard to cope. You are strong, keep holding on, the sun will rise again.

Stay safe my friends.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Walking my way out

In my first year of university I hated, as in despised speaking out loud in lectures and seminars. Compared to the other people on my course, I felt like I had nothing valuable to add to debates and discussions, so I let that lie get to my head and it stopped me from speaking out when I sometimes did have ideas, whether or not they were relevant or useful. These lies followed me into other aspects of university such as my social life and fitness aspects. I didn’t feel like I belonged in certain places for reasons that were really irrational and didn’t actually exist.

I’ve walked into this year feeling more confident, more determined and more willing to shut those lies up and walk on out of my mindset of overthinking everything I do. And it’s working. I’m not afraid to speak out in seminar discussions, I’ve joined the gym despite fearing judgement from more experienced gym goers, I’ve been feeling so comfortable when out at social events with friends (the ones covid allows). The thing that keeps repeating in my head every single day is this; “you deserve to be there just as much as anybody else” and for me, that pretty much changed everything.

Every single day I’m become more self-aware, more confident and I’m on my way to becoming a better version of myself. Don’t let fear or comparison to others stop you from doing anything. I know it’s daunting and sometimes impossible to always think positively about yourself, believe me, I struggle too, but the moment you start believing for yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to, you will do it.

And don’t worry if you don’t always have it together. If you had a peak into my life you’d see that 85% of the time I haven’t got a clue about what I’m doing – and I quite like being organised. We’re all winging it, we’re all finding our way out of the things that once held us back and we’re all on our way to a better tomorrow. Set your goals and smash them!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Late Night Shenanigans: When you’re not the best at the party.

I’ve been thinking recently about the things that I am grateful for. The list is vast, but sometimes I pause to give God thanks for the beautiful and amazing things that I have been blessed with, it always seems as if my mind wanders into dangerous territories. I start dwelling on the things that haven’t made me happy, the people who have said things to hurt me and the awful things that I’ve seen, heard and experienced. Suddenly my intention of acknowledging the many great things in life turns into an internal rant about the challenges I face. Anyone relate?!

Whether or not you look the best at the party, whether or not you aced a first or an A in your assessment, whether or not you have the latest, most fashionable clothing doesn’t compare to the things that actually matter. Sometimes I go to parties and feel like the most unattractive person in the room regardless of what anyone says – it happens sometimes. But when I compare that to the wonderful gift of family that I have, my hairstyle and makeup failure at one singular party doesn’t matter anymore. There have been times where I’ve felt like the outsider within friendship groups, but when I think about the people who feel they can lean on me when things are going downhill in their life, whether or not they post memories of me on their story becomes so very small.

Don’t let the little things (that without a doubt seem big at the time) get in the way of all the incredible things you have to be thankful for. Show gratitude always, keep your head up and don’t let anything or anyone steal your joy.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Quarantine Talks: Reading, Writing and Watching Netflix

How have you been spending your lockdown? It’s become the new norm for me, I sometimes even forget I’m in lockdown until I get the daily news bullentine on the BBC News app. I’ve had a lot of astonishingly productive days so far where I’ve met personal targets and deadlines. And I wouldnt’ say I’ve completely gone mad (maybe a little) but I’ve honestly had days where I haven’t even wanted to get out of bed or do anything remotely productive. One of things that I was certain about when creating this blog is that I was going to be completely and utterly honest with my readers.

As you probably already know, I am far form perfect. I don’t have my whole entire life sorted. I don’t have all the answers to what I want to do in the future. I just don’t have it all together. Seeing as all the priorities that I have at the moment are inside jobs i.e. this blog, video making, attending online lectures and writing essay, lockdown hasn’t actually restricted my life as much as it has other people. But I’m not getting as much done as I thought I would.

I would say I’m a very driven and ambitious person – on one side. I have things that I want to do, improve in and complete. The other side of me is sluggish, demotivated and often too nervous to push the boat out just that little bit further. I’ve started making videos on my Instagram, but as soon as I post them I start worrying who will see them and what they will think. Will they think I’m boring, too serious? Or maybe over excitable and not sophisticated enough. Not so long ago this would have stopped me completely from posting anything! Including things on my PRIVATE snapchat story. Anxiety about what other people might think has been my biggest struggle throughout my whole life. It starts off as a little tickly feeling in my mind and suddenly it overcomes me like a big dark cloud. I’ve worked on it over the years especially in the weeks leading up into university and I am still working on it.

What I’m trying to get at is I’m not exactly where I want to be in most aspects of my life – in my creative passion, in my confidence, in my fitness, in my relationships, in my finances or in my mental wellbeing – but I am certainly not where I used to be. Reaching the end goal or target doesn’t matter as much as the progress or the journey. At the start of quarentine I had started none of my full-term essays written, I was slacking on instagram and blog posts and I hadn’t even made a video yet. Now, I have consistently been writing blogs, I’ve produced two mediocre videos and worked on all of my full-term essays, with one completely finished. It’s not a lot for 7 or 8 weeks of lockdown, but it’s something. I’m learning to trust that God is the one who hold the plans for my future. All I can do is rest in His strength and follow where He leads me to go. This has brought me great peace in all of the uncertainty. He promises His children rest. Even when anxiety is closing in on me, even when I want to reach something that seems untangible, even when I feel I’ve failed, I have learnt to rest in His presence. And it’s okay to stop, to scrunch up your schedule and press reset for tomorrow. It’s okay to switch off and binge watch Netflix series for hours and it’s okay to not quite reach your standards of perfection. What is meant for you is already yours.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

A New Found Fitness?!?!

During university, I put on a load of weight. Beforehand I wasn’t necessarily a gym fanatic but I certainly did a lot more than I did once I begun my new chapter at uni. It got to the point that I hate looking at the group pictures I took on my 19th birthday. My diet changed, obviously cooking for myself and only myself I naturally ate more and without having anyone to stop me I ordered a lot more takeaways.

This affected me a lot because I have always been an active person. I danced for many years both at school and at an academy. From the age of 8 until about 14, I participated in both football and athletics competing at a borough level on school teams. I took GCSE PE in year 9 and completed it in year 10 so that was two years of intense gym and various training in various sports. Even after that was over I continued dancing until year 13. I was always quite healthy and I never really had body confidence issues regarding my weight.

After seeing the pictures on my birthday I was absolutely horrified but still didn’t feel motivated enough to anything about it. I wasn’t incredibly or overtly massive but because of how fit and active I was used to being, it was hard to look at myself and not be happy with what I saw. I spent weeks being upset about it, comparing myself to all the beautiful people around me and even shutting off opportunities of talking to people and going to social events at university because it begun to affect me mentally. One day, before I came home I decided it was time to change and I started working out in my room a couple times a week.

Coming home from university has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve established a workout routine using videos from YouTube and go on runs (only once a day maximum and maintaining social distancing) on some days. Check out Rebecca Louise’s fitness videos btw! I’m eating healthier, drinking lots of water and I’m beginning to feel stronger and a lot happier mentally.

Some people want to gain weight, and some want to lose it. Some people are bigger than me and are happy and some are smaller than me and are happy. What’s important is that you’re healthy and that you are confident in your body and how you look and more importantly how you feel. It’s a journey for me. I love working out now. I love the sensation in my muscles the next day. I love seeing the progress! You’re all beautiful the way you are but sometimes a few lifestyle changes can have you feeling that little bit more amazing!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

When the start stops

In the midst of a pandemic I’m going to write. The last two weeks have been hectic. My first year of university finishing prematurely, coming back home two weeks before easter, online studying and to top it all off, being on lockdown for at least three weeks.

I’m not going to tell you the logistics of the virus or the main points of Boris Johnson’s new orders to the public because I’m sure you’ve heard all of this. I’m not even going to tell you to stop stock piling! But what I am going to tell you is what you can do in this time of a worldwide crisis.

We’re indoors. For a long time. There’s so much you can’t do, but there’s so much you can do. For writers like me, we have no excuse not to write – I’ve been putting off blogging for two weeks because of deadlines and the changes to life because of the virus. But I can’t let these circumstances become excuses for not fulfilling what I want to fulfill. Use this time to read more, make a life plan, learn something, watch something inspiring. Although this isn’t an ideal situation and EVERYONE’S lives have been flipped upside-down – some worse than others, we can really make something positive out of it. It’s so tempting to binge watch series on Netflix all day (personal dig) but I definitely don’t want to look back after we’re all free again having done absolutely nothing.

Let’s do something great with a not so great situation.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

What do you want?

In a world that tells us what to be, what to like and what to do, how often do you you consider and actually do what you want to do? Not what social media tells you do, not what culture tells you to, not what your family and friends tells you to do.

For me, not very often. I feel like I make a lot of the choices I make curtesy of someone or something else. Maybe you don’t have that problem and maybe you do. I’ve been struggling with this a lot for the last couple of weeks and it’s got me into quite a negative state. Sometimes I just want to wake up in the morning and embrace what I want to embrace simply because I want to embrace it. And it’s not that I physically can’t. Because I can. But I don’t.

I am in the process of transforming into an independent and confident young woman and I believe that overcoming this fear of standing out is all a part of the process. And I will get there.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Unmotivated?

Yeah me too. I’ve been sitting in bed for the past two hours following my lectures this morning. Granted, I was tired, and had some shows I wanted to catch up on also but in all honesty I feel extremely unmotivated.

It gets like that sometimes. Sometimes, like this morning, I wake up and want to just go back to sleep. If it wasn’t for my 10am lectures I may have. As soon as I got back to my accommodation, I collapsed into bed and haven’t left since. I could be reading, researching, exercising, changing the world. But no. I’m writing this very blog from between my insanely cosy bed sheets.

I’m sure you all experience days like this sometimes. It’s okay to not feel 110% motivated all the time. I know some people do (or pretend that they do), and they are inspirations, but my reality is that some days I don’t want to face the day to day happenings of life, people or productivity.

So long as the unmotivated and withdrawn mindset doesn’t become a habit, doesn’t override your dreams and aspirations or distract you from the things you need to do, it’s okay to sit and do nothing sometimes, healthy even.

I will get up, just give me 10 more minutes…

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Don’t be so hasty

This is a blog for me. And maybe you can relate.

The meaning of hasty in the English dictionary is ‘[something] done with excessive speed or urgency; hurried’. Are you being too hasty with the things in your life?

I know I certainly can be. We all like results, we all like the finished product, but when it comes to enduring the process, I am sure that many of you would rather not. Me included. Sometimes we can think something is for us – and maybe it is – but we jump too quickly at it and forget all about the right timing. The whole point I’m trying to make is that if you jump on every opportunity with extreme haste, you can end up being counter-productive and maybe even slightly destructive. So many good ideas, good intentions and even good relationships have been completely and utterly destroyed simply because of haste.

Not everything is a matter of urgency, not everything needs to be finished right here and right now. Let things unfold, learn more, trust that one day you will see the manifestation of the time and effort you put in and stop trying to rush the process. Sometimes a clear picture of growth and progression can be just as satistfying as the finished product.

And remember, not every opportunity that presents itself to you is for you. Not every battle is yours to fight. Not every available person is yours to pursue. And not every life is yours to live.

Stay calm, you will succeed in everything that has been set out for you to succeed in. You’re doing well!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

A Few Words…

You are you.

No one will ever be you.

No one can ever replace you.

And THAT is your STRENGTH.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Know Your Worth

In many aspects of our everyday life, we do not give ourselves enough credit for who we are; a lot of us do not know our worth or sometimes fail to recognise it. If we treat ourselves as if we are worth less than we are, we leave room for self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence which can lead us down some tricky paths.

You were created for a purpose, regardless of what others believe about why we as humans are here. You are not an accident and your life isn’t just happening for no particulat reason. You find your purpose within your worth, so to know your purpose, you have to first know your worth.

No matter how much your friends, family and loved ones tell you how much your worth, in the end you have to know it for yourself. I personally find my worth accoring to who God says I am. I am chosen, loved, cared for, free, wonderfully made, saved, rescued, ransomed and redeemed.

In what or whom do you find your worth?

Love Always,

Shadz xo

When things don’t quite go to plan..

Throughout my A-levels I tried extremely hard. Choosing three subjects that had little relevance to each other and without having a clear career plan it was destined to be quite a bumpy road. And that it was just that. I chose English Literature, Maths, Psychology and Biology when I started sixth form and the first term was the hardest. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist before changing my mind and doing an English Literature degree. I thought those subjects would be best. After a tiresome struggle with Biology I chose to drop it after one term.

The rest of first year was pretty good. In our end of year mocks I got the grades I needed to pass onto year 13 so I was thrilled. Halfway through year 13, juggling being head girl, having a part time tutoring job and just trying to navigate becoming a legal adult (with all the emotions that come with it) I took a bit of a mental dip. At this point I had stopped writing, even journalling, and this blog came to a bit of stand still. I wasn’t very happy with how life was going. I wasn’t necessarily in a low mood or particularly anxious, I was just a bit blank. Despite putting in as much effort as possible, I didn’t get into my firm choice of university.

After many tears, many cuddles and a very over-dramatic phone call with my dad I finally gathered my brain cells and rung my insurance university. They immediately offered me a place. My insurance univeristy was my original first choice but I wanted to push myself in picking a different one, with higher grade requirements. I was of course absolutely gutted that I didn’t get in but I eventually realised that God had me and still has me right where He wants me. After a lot of self-doubt and a big knock of confidence I realised and understood that God was going to use my once perceived failure and turn it into something better.

Looking back in hindsight, I wish I didn’t get so upset. I’m so happy where I am. I have zero regrets and I don’t even think about the absolute disgrace of results day. When it seems as if things aren’t quite going your way, there is always a bigger plan. Don’t worry about the future too much and keep up the faith!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Baby Steps: Advice for people who want it all now.

We constantly hear the saying that ‘patience is a virtue’. Sometimes when we envision something, be it a new business idea, a new relationship or even a school project, we plan it all out and rush to finish. Or worse. We plan it out, try to rush it, fail to, and give up all together.

In my life so far I have begun many many novels and in that same life, I haven’t completed a single one of them. I have this massive idea, an epic narrative, the characters planned out, the setting, the climax, the resolution, the ending…. and then it never happens.

This is usually because I want to finish it immediately and don’t trust in the process. What I want to tell you guys is that sometimes the journey is the best part. Getting to know someone, building a buisness or creating the storyline of your novel can be just as refreshing as seeing something completed.

Don’t rush. Trust the process. And take baby steps.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Take a breath….

Does it ever feel as if you are running a constant race? As if even if you lay completely still, you’re still exhausted? Me too. Someone asked me that about two years ago, when they saw I was stuck in a constant cycle of overthinking and never getting the results I want to. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I know it can be difficult to make your mind stop going. And thoughts aren’t always that bad. It has been estimated by experts that the average human being has around  60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s a whole lot – our brains are incredible! It is without a doubt that everyone worries about something a few times a day. But I know for me, and for a lot of you too it is sometimes just pure worrying a large majority of the day, most of the week. It’s easy for someone to come along and tell you to “slow down, “chill out” or “stop worrying”, but a lot harder putting it into action.

The best and most practical way, for me, to calm my brain and stop so many anxious thoughts passing through is to fill my day doing things that occupies my brain capacity. Yes, that may mean taking random trips to places, doing extra studying, reading, writing, drawing, exercising, getting a brain-stimulating job, cutting up fresh fruit (that has helped me!) or planning exciting things to do with friends. I had anxiety for a long time and every now and then it tries to rear its head but I am so concious of not leaving too many long empty gaps in my day because I know that it’s within those times, my anxiety creeps up on me.

Writing lists also helps me structure both my day and my mind. I would previously get stressed if I didn’t complete everything on my list or if my day took a U-turn. I’ve learnt now that it’s okay to crumple the list up at the end of the day, even if it’s not completed, and start another one the next day. (Though I would suggest you meet that homework/coursework deadline!)

This last tip that I have, and probably most hardest on the days you just want to be alone with your thoughts, is that when feeling stressed or thinking too much is to do things that completely oppose what you’re feeling. It’s so typical to go to your cringy break-up songs or sad songs playlist when you’re feeling terrible – I know you have one! Or even watching a really sad movie, like Titanic, might be the first thing you go to. Although these songs and movies are really good, they’re probably not the best thing to feed your mind with in this state. Give yourself a bit of time to collect your thoughts and slap on a comedy or some cringe worthy, cheesy and overtly happy songs. It might help more than you think!

I’m not a doctor, a therapist or a counsellor and none of these methods are in any way scientifically tested or proven, but rather they are my own ways of dealing with my overthinking.; I believe entirely that mental health is so so so so important and you should seek professional help if stress, worry and anxiety consumes your life completely. However, if it’s a mild thing that you can deal with but still gets you down, I would totally recommend trying these tips. They may not all work but hopefully you find something that helps you! Contact me if you have any great tips you can share!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

So who’s going to break the cycle?

Nowadays everyone’s got a lot to say about social media. Snapchat. Instagram. Twitter. YouTube. A lot of the younger generation, myself included can’t go a day without scrolling through our feed, flicking through stories, liking, commenting and reposting. But is it really all that bad?

It without a doubt that social media is used to do a lot of bad. There is a vast number of people, particularly teens and young adults who develop increasing bad self-esteem issues and mental health problems due to an over-indulgence on social media platforms. This is as a result of not being able to meet the standards that some influencers insinuate. But this is only a limited view.

Amongst ourselves, we peer in on each others lives, relationships, homes, meals, businesses, lifestyles and compare ourselves to our followers and the people we follow, including our real life friends. Without even realising sometimes we fall into the toxicity of comparison. And comparison can kill.

However, there is so much positivity that comes with getting stuck into social media, it’s not all that bad. And we need to teach this to not only our generation and the generations to come but also to the generations before us who are certain “our stupid phones” are the cause of all the worlds problems (metaphorically of course). Promoting hobbies, spreading encouragement and making people laugh are only some of the ways in which social media is pushing this generation forward. We need more of this. Let’s be mind changers. Let’s be cycle breakers.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

What society dictates

We live in a paper world. I don’t say that to limit the beauty of creation but rather to question humanity and the arguably universal societies in which we live. Perhaps you could call this ‘social satire’; it’s an absolute joke. First of all, I want to address the big obsession that we as a collective have on this concept of aesthetics. Physical aesthetics. It is hard to understand why there is a narrow box that one must fit in order to comply with societies standards of beauty. ‘You’re my type on paper’ is a phrase that I am certain you are all aware of. Is that what we as human beings are defined by? And here I am not referring to the few individuals who wholeheartedly find all people beautiful regardless of their front layer, I’m referring to the majority, I’m referring to society. The wicked truth is that in the eyes of society, we are defined physically by whether or not we meet a particular criteria on a metaphorical piece of paper. Paper standards guys. And who creates these standards? Celebrities? The media? The Government? Queen Elizabeth? No, none of the above. The truth is you make them. I make them. We make them. We are society.

The ironic thing about it is that although we as a collective set these standards, we struggle to uphold them. Only a few, though lightly, manage to play by the rules in the public eye. It’s a game that we created but cannot seem to play. We try to sugarcoat it, with various paper protests regarding ones physical appearance trying to undo the damage done. In turn we as individuals feel obliged to join certain movements which yet again causes those who object to be looked down on. We then end up in a vicious cycle of finger pointing and trying to decide which is the ‘right’ way to think. It’s always ‘us against them’ and proclaiming that ‘not everyone has to be slim and fair’ whilst simultaneously potentially insulting those who fit in those categories. Why the fixation on looks? Why don’t we set societal standards based on respect, love and cooperation?

We need to break these cycles, there’s a dying world out there, a real world, not the paper world we’ve created. The key to life is kindness, being kind to ourselves despite the way we look and being kind to others despite the way they look. Let’s take appearance out of the equation. Truth is you’re all beautiful; that’s a fact. But what really matters is the society that we create for our children and grandchildren. Let’s leave them more to cherish than a paper society.

Love Always,

Shadz xo