My faith and me: What do I believe?

The connatations of Christianity in the Western world does not euqate to it’s meaning or value to those who actually believe. Being born and raised in church I have seen so many variations and ideas regarding being a Christian. Living in a secular society, where faith and belief is seen as an outdated concept, it’s sometimes difficult to convey and declare my faith without being met with a bunch of complicated questions.

I can stand and say that now at the age of 19 that I am a firm believer in Jesus. He is my God, my saviour, my helper, my healer, my peace, my joy, my strength and He calls me His friend. I am who I am because of my faith, and I will never be ashamed of it.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16 (NIV)

I love all people, that’s the main value of Christianty, and one of the most important commandments. I aim through my life and through my blog to spread the love that God has given to me.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

What we try to conceal

Did you know that there is nothing wrong with the way you look? That spot, that scar, that excess bit of fat, the blemish on your cheek does not decrease your worth or your beauty. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I know it can be so easy to look at yourself and compare yourself to the next girl; I do it too. I’ve had times that I’ve stood and cried at the parts of me that I didn’t like such as my spots and acne scars. I used to wear a thick layer of foundation or concealer to cover them up so no one saw. I have nothing against make-up, I love to wear it myself because it can be so fun and satisfying to try new looks. However, back in my younger teen years I used to wear simply because I didn’t like the way I looked, and that wasn’t okay.

I have met so many girls who cannot leave their homes without a full face of make up on, not because they genuinely enjoy wearing it, but because they think they are ugly without it. This saddens me so much because I hate that we as women sometimes hold the “ideal” standard of beauty to the highest regard. We compare ourselves to each other and to the media and then beat ourselves up when we cannot reach those standards. This has to stop. What are we teaching our daughters and our granddaughters? Our little sisters and nieces? We have to break this cycle.

Know one thing, you are beautiful, no spot, blemish or scar will ever change that.

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

Be the person you want to meet

Would you want to date or marry yourself?

Weird question, I know but hopefully I got your attention. There was an episode of First Dates where the woman had on a wedding ring and told her date she was married to herself. Different right? Search it up if you don’t beleive me! Aside from that crazy idea, I think so many of us would avoid seeing singleness as such a terrible state if we asked ourself that question more often. There are so many amazing examples of single people I know who are so career or education driven that their desire for dating or marriage isn’t at the forefront of their minds. Of course you get the few indivuals, (well actually quite a chunk), girls, in particular who scream “I don’t need a man” on a daily and to them I say “Yes, I love you independant women!” You queens are killing it out there! But this is for you lovely ladies (and lads too) who feel so held down by your singleness. Perhaps you feel unattractive, boring, unloveable, or as if you’re too difficult or complex to find someone who a) understands you and b) wants to be with you regardless.

First things first, you are beautiful, you have purpose, you are interesting and you are loved beyond all measures. Second of all, do not be defined by your relationship status. I know it can be hard when all we see in the media is: “baecation”, “cuffing season”, the dreaded “#relationship goals” and whatever other cringe-worthy trends that have found their way into our lingo. The next day we’ll see non-stop quotes about how “men (or women) are trash” and how relationships are a waste of time. We need to stop succumbing to what is seen as approved of at any given time. I am 100% that some people have never had an issue with this and we need to honestly take a leaf out of their book because they are the ones who are winning, whether single, dating or married.

The point I’m trying to make ultimately is that instead of constantly seeking the next best thing, particularly when you’re unhappily single, is to start not only appreciating the time you have to nurture and develop as an individual, but also to work on becoming the person that you would want to meet. Look at it this way, would you be attracted to someone wallowing in a pit of sadness because of their relationship status? Waking up everyday complaining about their singleness? If you’re answer is yes to that, I mean – I guess everyone’s type is different…. But I am assuming that at least 97% of you wouldn’t be attracted to someone like that. Sometimes it’s hard to look at ourselves, reflect and critique parts of us that we could improve on. For me it’s my lack of patience, self-doubt and wavering self-esteem that I need to get a grip on before I can even start looking to spend and share my life with somone. But hey, that’s just me.

Lastly, be you, bright and beautiful you. Your skin is fine, your hair is fine, your height is fine, your body is fine. There’s nothing more attractive than a person who appreciates themself for who they are. Accept the things you cannot change and have the wisdom to change the things you can.

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

melanin.

For the majority of my life I have been surrounded with people from all over the world. In fact my friendship circle consists of British, Hungarian, Nigerian, Indian, Polish, Pakistani, Dutch & Bengali people and many many more. The clash of cultures has taught me to not merely tolerate and accept race, but to completely submerge into the cultures of others, embracing every difference. My problem, however, was never ‘getting used to’ or ‘blending in’ with people from other cultures as I was born into a multicultural society. My insecurities lay not within how I responded to others but rather how I perceived the way that other people would respond to me. This led to a tainted view on how I viewed my race and thus a large part of my existence. Of course now, as I’ve grown older I’ve learnt to embrace my own race just as I have everyone else’s. My puffy hair and hot chocolate coloured skin is nothing for me to be ashamed of, I am BEAUTIFUL and so are you.

Truthfully and thankfully I have never experienced hardcore racism of any sort. Throughout secondary school, particularly during the earlier years, I was labelled as an “Oreo” by some of my white peers (which I embraced) and “white” by my some of my black peers (which I didn’t embrace). In hindsight, it’s hard to pinpoint why exactly the different names had opposite effects on me. Perhaps being called an “Oreo” by white friends seemed playful, perhaps affectionate and accepting into their race (but I still couldn’t understand why I had to be an Oreo and not a chocolate digestive). On the other hand being labelled as “white” by my black friends came across as an insulting, cold hearted and rejecting from people of my own race. (I did have Asian, Mixed race and Hispanic friends, but they never labelled me anything in regards to race.) After a while I internalised these labels and saw myself as being black on the outside and white on the inside. Daft right?! I jumped on the bandwagon by starting to see race as a personality type, defining my racial identity by the interests I had and the labels set upon me. I often felt “too white” for my black friends and “too black” for my white friends. These feelings were and always will be a mistake. It is toxic to believe that hobbies, passions and interests are stamped with a racial barrier. I assure you that you can do and love ANYTHING that you want to do that empowers you regardless of your race and how others may perceive it. I begun to distance myself from many of my black peers (bar a few who I’m still friends with to this day, shout out to you gals!) because I didn’t feel as if I could relate to them. I often felt different from my extended family (we are Caribbean) as I felt that the perception my classmates had on me shone through at family gatherings. This caused me a lot of anxiety and led to me feeling very lonely within the most loving family for a period of time. I could not fathom why enjoying different types of music, speaking in a sophisticated manner, enjoying ballet and contemporary dance, hanging out with different people and speaking openly about mental health was classed as ‘white’ and why being or ‘acting white’ was seen as a betrayal to my heritage by my peers of colour. Likewise, I didn’t understand why my white friends felt they had to announce that I was a black person who perhaps enjoyed and embraced things that were stereotypically part of British culture. I just wanted to be me. I no longer feel any sort of anger or resentment towards any of these people for labelling me, they were (and many still are) my friends. We were all conditioned by the standards of society and I understand that they did not say it out of malice but rather because of societal pressure to conform to the norms.

Theories of being ‘colour blind’ are untestable. The key is to see race fully and actively choose to not define people by their outer appearance or cultural background. Understandably we live in a diverse society and so it should be without a doubt that we no longer define ourselves or each other by our race but I know some people around me still struggle with race and that’s okay. If I were to teach my younger, more insecure and vulnerable self and others one thing about race, it would be this. Cultural differences exist, but we all have the opportunity to unite. Dialect varies, but meaningful communication is universal. Traditions vary, but good morals are reflected in every nation. Racial history varies between cultures but unconditional love is what should bring us together and set us free. In essence the differences between our cultures should not tear us apart or cause us to fall into hatred and intolerance but rather bring us together, allow us to learn more about each other and cause us to grow in love and acceptance. There are more similarities between us all than differences. The YouTuber, ‘Prince Ea’ published a video a few years back about race and it was one of the most heartfelt videos I have ever come across. He posed the question “who would you be if the world never gave you a label?” His answer was “we would be one, we would be together” which as a girl who had struggled with societies interpretation of racial identity, spoke a lot of truth to me and was very comforting. (I’ll link the video down below).

I can only thank God for freeing me from the pressures of the world and allowing me to see myself as I was made. It was a journey to acceptance that I will never forget, one that I’ll cherish forever and one that I will use to help others who are going through the same thing. The human race in all it’s forms is beautiful. The multitude of cultures, races and nationalities that have surrounded me in my life this far have shaped who I am today. Forever and always embrace who you are and be open to learn about and love others.

Love Always,

Shadz xoxo

Prince Ea – I am NOT Black, You are NOT White http://youtu.be/q0qD2K2RWkc

How do I juggle life as a sixth form student?

There are many aspects to my life currently as a sixth form student. Many of these exist within the realms of academia but there are other parts of my life that happen outside of school. Everyone’s experience with sixth form/college differs, depending on how they have chosen to navigate life. But here’s how I do it!

School Work

Week upon week I spend around 30 hours in school and I dedicate a decent amount of time (usually :/) per week to revision. For someone so engrossed in their studies like me, stress is inevitable, especially when the desirable outcomes aren’t produced. I try to balance all three of my subjects evenly but it’s difficult when perhaps I favour one subject (obviously English Literature) more so naturally, out of pure interest, I put more effort in or become so concerned with falling behind in a weaker subject (Maths) that it compromises the amount of time I get to put into the remaining subjects. I somehow managed to dedicate the right amount of time to each subject by assessing my strengths and areas of improvement and revise according to my weaknesses rather than constantly revisiting topics that I already have mastered.

Part time job

When I begun sixth form I promised myself (and my parents) that I would get a job. It was only then that I realised the value of money and could truly appreciate how hard both of my parents work for us. The cliche that “money doesn’t grow on trees” suddenly made sense. Being in charge and responsible for my own money prevented me from spending unnecessarily. Although it can be hard sometimes to juggle full time education and a job but it’s good preparation for real life – it doesn’t hold me back. I enjoy my job, I enjoy the company of the people I work with and I feel blessed to be in the position that I am in.

Family and Social Life

My family are my best friends, my favourite people ever. However, in the midst of life, between work and study, it’s easy to neglect, yes neglect, those close to you. Upon realising that I couldn’t constantly use my education and exams as an excuse to not spend time with my family, I switched up my priorities. And guess what? My grades didn’t suffer. In fact, I believe that the positivity of my family actually benefitted my study. As for my social life – personally, is not a big aspect of my life. I love my friends to bits but most of them are from my sixth form or other sixth forms with similar targets and aspirations. We’re not the biggest party animals so prefer to sit at home together and eat pizza but we have the best time. Everyone’s social life is different and balance doesn’t always mean 50/50. Although studies may take out a fair chunk of your time, always give some time to your loved ones.

There are other parts specific to my own life e.g being head girl, driving lessons etc but I think I covered most of the main general points. Feel free to comment if you want advice on any more aspects of life.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

A matter of connection: A bit of friendship advice….

Friendships and human connection are a major part of the lives of the majority of people living amongst us. Humans are social creatures and thus desire to connect with others. Many people, more specifically teens, have the mentality of “group=safety” whereby they spend the majority of their teenage years thriving on the idea of “fitting in” rather than being an individual.

Now, there is no issue with wanting to fit in and there’s no problem with wanting to find friends that resemble oneself but the toxicity comes when the desire to fit in puts your happiness at stake. In essence, it becomes an issue when you go out of your way to change yourself in order to gain respect and admiration from those who you associate yourself with. This can be in the form of changing your passions or interests, compromising your personal morals and adapting your appearance. These are all toxic signs. I’m not generalising all circumstances and I’m not dictating that all people who experience this are in toxic friendship groups, but from personal experience and from the tales of those close to me who have also encountered these situations, it is a good sign that you may need to reassess your friendships.

Friendship should not be competitive regarding things that you cannot control; ie: looks, weight, popularity, intelligence, family life, but instead ones friendship should encourage you, support you, value you and of course help you to believe that you can reach your goals. We should be quicker to listen to others than we are to speak and I believe this is important, especially when one requires the care and attention of the other.

Everyone is an individual, so it’s by no means a 1-for-all topic. It’s not always a matter of acquiring meaningful friendships overnight. It does happen though, that people meet, unexpectedly, and become the best of friends but also note that friendship is a journey, not a destination. You’ll meet many amazing people as you go about your teenage years, and some will become lifelong friends. However, do not live in blatant ignorance. Although I value all people regardless of their past actions and do not believe that a person alone can be toxic, I do strongly understand that not all friendships you encounter will be sincere, so just be mindful. Ultimately, friendship and human connection is so important and I hope and pray that you all develop powerful friendships that will lessen the downsides of this beautiful life.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

The Beauty of Christmas!

Hey guys! Merry Christmas!! What’s your favourite part of Christmas? Is it the decorative lights? The presents? Spending time with your family and friends? I love all of these aspects, as most people do, however, as a Christian, Christmas to me is so much more! Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ through joyful songs, generous giving and all round fellowship and collaboration with those in my community is what truly makes my Christmas special. This year, today in fact, I had the absolute pleasure in helping out at a Christmas party/meal for those who are less fortunate than myself which was organised by my incredible church family. Giving back to the community and sharing this special holiday with those who are short of either company or money has definitely been one of the major highlights of my Christmas.

Christmas for most is a season of peace, love and joy regardless of faith and beliefs. I hope all of you out there experience the peace, love and joy that you well and truly deserve. I wish endless laughter and happiness to you and all your families!

Will be back with another blog in the New Year!

Merry Christmas!

Love Always,

Shadz xo