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Everyone is not as happy as they look.

Setting off to university in my parents car crammed with all of my stuff, I was excited to begin a new chapter of my life. I was finally going to be living with a group of people my own age, and I imagined it as some kind of 90’s chick flick, where we’d sit on the sofa eating popcorn and watching corny films, or cry over a tub of ice cream about boys, wearing face masks and having sing-alongs. And it wasn’t like that, it wasn’t like living with my best friends. While my first year was filled with a lot of fun, I didn’t get on with some of the girls in my flat. They all did the same subject, I didn’t. I had my boyfriend over a lot of the time, and I was working and concentrating on making friends on my course. And so, what begin as enthusiastic friendship turned into me feeling isolated and alone. Now, I had a lot of friends both at home and at uni, so it didn’t phase me that much, and it dawned on me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, the girls were just in a clique, didn’t have any friends themselves so stuck together like a boring pack of hyenas. I was naive, but eventually came to realise that life is not like a film. in fact, films glorify and romantisise everything about life, giving us false expectations of what life should be like.

And so, when Christmas came around, I was in the pub with some old friends, and I ended up telling one how I didn’t feel it was fair that everyone had great housemates and flatmates, while mine were shit. I told him how I’d go on facebook and instagram, and see all the cute photos – “house meal with the gang!” or “flat girls night out!” and get jealous. And then he told me that a) I was being dumb, and b) that everyone pretends to be happier than they actually are. He told me that people aren’t going to put on facebook when they’d argue or felt isolated with their flatmates, or when they felt ugly. They weren’t going to show instagram their breakdowns and tantrums, but instead, put happy photos on to make themselves feel better, even though it was a lie. Instagram pages, full of little photos just show the highlights of everyday life. They’d show pictures of the best parts of their life- and none of the bad. And this ‘best of’ feature means we obsess over other peoples couple pictures and feel crappy about our own relationships, see their ‘Squad goals’ pictures and doubt our own friendships. See their gorgeous selfies and feel baad about how we look when we don’t have makeup on or our hair done. It feeds into the competition of ‘whos-got-the-best-life’, a page where even though your life isn’t perfect- far from it- in a series of pictures, it appears to be.

And it’s true, we compare our lives with what we see on film, or on our friends social media, but we don’t know the whole story. As the phrase goes; you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And it made me feel better. Our whole lives, we are told and trained to search for the ‘elusive butterfly of happiness’- a term I’d recently discovered. I’d have moments where I didn’t really know how to be happy, or even if I could be. It seemed that the few shining moments of happiness I had were merged in a sea of feeling shit, upset, angry or just numb. So I almost take comfort in knowing that sometimes, especially on social media, people are not as happy as they seem. Now, I never feel bad about my own life from seeing other people online. I recently spoke to an old friend, at a different uni, and looked like she was having the time of her life, going out all the time, new friends, new boyfriend. It was only when I spoke to her on the phone she told me she was quite heavily depressed and miserable. There is a song called ‘Wear Sunscreen’ by Baz Luhrman that gives advice on life, and to be honest it is one of the most accurate things I have ever heard, and never fails to make me feel better. One bit that always sticks out to me is when he says “Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

We spend so much time comparing our lives to what we see from other peoples when it doesn’t matter, at all. At the end of the day, you are the protagonist of your life, and your life is controlled by you only- your decisions, mistakes, choices. It is your life that matters, not what you see of someone elses. You never know what that person truly feels or who they are from an instagram page, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because it has no relevance to your life. So, the main thing I try to keep in my mind now is to focus on how I, myself, can make my life happy, not to compare it to other peoples, and most importantly, understand that there are going to be rough times ahead, bad periods- maybe years even, when you’re not okay. But you’re not alone in this, something easily forgettable. Life is hard, for everyone, but you need to focus on yours, and making it as happy as it can be.

Anyway, late night ramblings over. Peace out. xoxo

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Late Night Memories

Sitting on my windowsill, smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of Earl Gray, I feel a sense of peace. Ever since I was a child, there was something mystical, something indescribably magical about night time. The glow of the moon, the black pavement glittering and shining, the deathless quietness of it all. Later, night time became even more special as I associated it with sneaking out and going to parties, drinking the forbidden fruits of alcohol and bitter drugs, feeling out of control. I’d go outside, loosing sense with reality as I stared into the night sky and thought about the universe. Tonight, however, was quiet. As I stared out into the streets, I thought about the fragility of mortality. I once read a quote that apparently the gods envy us. “They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” I think about how the boys brag about their drunken conquests, armed with their liquid courage and their lynx scented ralph lauren shirts. I see the girls, light in their naïve eyes describing their hopelessly romantic summers and how they felt love on their lips in the form of a blonde-haired boy with a crooked nose and a tattooed name across his chest. And now I know. Now I understand- we are obsessed with the past. Even as I’m writing this, the moment I put down that first word, it’s all a memory. There is no reality, as each second passes and fades into our recollection, it’s gone. We can never feel it again, never grasp it again. Maybe that’s why humans are so self-absorbed, using a magical tongue to tell exaggerated stories, because we want to explain how we felt, how we loved, how we cried and lost and laughed. We want to go back there, but we can’t. It’s gone. Forever. There’s something impeccably beautiful in that, though. Even trying to recreate a memory creates something else differently entirely. I will never be as young as I am now. I will never sit in Louie’s flat, have the same conversations I had with Chris, and Jodie. I will never be on the top of that Ferris wheel with Jack, looking down at the world. I will never sit between my mother and father and feel so blessed to have these two wonderful people always look out for me. And if I do, then it will be different. A new memory, a new experience. People are sometimes terrified of the future. Of the unknown. But I am not afraid. The future will arrive, and soon, it will be gone.

REVIEW : LIMITLESS

Limitless is a film showing a struggling writer (the dynamic Bradley Cooper) who is the epitome of procrastination. His laziness and lethargic nature combined with a shabby, messy apartment and the looks of a crackhead in rehab remind me of University students on a Monday morning. I found Eddie’s character therefore extremely easy to connect to and empathise with- majority of us are, after all, inactive creatures with a tendency to shirk our duties. Eddie is on the verge of despair, his life spiralling out of control with his girlfriend dumping him and near to losing his job. The introduction of a new drug- NZT (the name itself sounds chemically snappy) from a vague old friend gives Eddie a chance to be someone else- the better version of himself. What I find particularly interesting is that the drug doesn’t change or alter much in your mind, rather organising it in a way so the information you receive your whole life, is accessible to you when you need it. An example is when in a fight, Eddie remembers clips from self defence and karate movies he had watched, using them to fight a couple of guys that had attacked him.

Things are now going great for Eddie. We see everything more vivid an colourful as the director enhances the audiences own vision so we experience this drug alongside the protagonist. Eddie gets a dashing haircut, a new suit, cleans his apartment, visibly getting his life together. He cleverly starts doubling his money and investing in stocks, using this drive to do something productive. The only problem is that for me, his original dreams of becoming a writer are not mentioned again- so does the drug change his personality? Or somewhere along the way did his aspirations change? Bradley Cooper interestingly enough plays another struggling author in a film called ‘The Words’ (On Netflix if anyone wan to check it out).

All good things must come to an end, however, as it was too good to be true- somehow I don’t think the directors intention was to suggest that drugs were brilliant and there were no negative effects whatsoever- and Eddie begins o gain enemies- one strange looking man who later turns out to be an absolutely terrifying, knife-wielding maniac. Another Eastern European drug dealer also has it out for Eddie and with the new events of the drug actually causing the addicted to get ill or dead, Eddie must manage to wean off the drugs and fight off the competition all at the same time. The film ends happily, obviously, with a few questions as to whether Eddie has managed to kick the drugs or the drugs hold over him, but overall I think the film is well worth a watch. It shows money, productivity and success as key motivators for all different types of humans and the highs and lows of how to get there. For drugs users, there are many scenes in which you can empathise and understand, all cleverly shown through the directors use of camerawork- manipulating the screen to make it move trippily, the vivid colours and the soundtrack that make an incredibly enjoyable film.

Which leaves me with the question- if you take the drug NTZ, you have the world at your fingertips. You could run for president. You could create a business. You could be an artist, write a book. What would you do?

POST-STRUCTURALISM + LIT THEORY

Currently studying English Literature at University, this weeks lecture was based on Post-structuralism. I couldn’t find much stuff online, so I thought I’d post this in case someone stumbles across it needing help on the subject or if anyone actually finds this interesting.

Theory is not the same as knowledge or expertise in a certain field, because theory is a speculation. Structuralism doesn’t have to be based on anything concrete, just based on something feasibly explainable. Many other types of Literary Theory spawned on from Post-Structuralism. New theory and criticism is developed as human society and culture continues to grow (e.g. – Lesbian criticism is now accepted. Academia wouldn’t have accepted it in the 60’s).

To decode post-structuralism we have to understand what structuralism is- Peter Barry compares structuralism to the ‘chicken and the egg’ in which Structuralists focus on the chicken rather than the close analysis of the egg that liberal humanists do. It is a belief that things cannot be understood in isolation but seen in the context of the larger structures- The bigger picture, as it were. Structuralism came about when revolution was in the air, socially, politically and intellectually. It’s linked very closely with Linguistics. Saussure’s a ‘History of Linguistics’ – claims how any word in any language, doesn’t actually have any relevance to the thing it describes.

Frederick Nietzsche states truths are illusions; we create language like we would fiction. Edith Kurtzwell in ‘The Age of Structuralism: From Lévi-Strauss to Foucault’- states that the structuralism that Levi-Strauss invented is dead, but has prepared the ground for the various ‘post-structuralisms’

Barry argues post-structuralism is a form of rebellion against it, and more of a cultural than intellectual movement, derived from philosophy rather than linguistics. Post-structuralism is conceptual, questioning the very notions of Truth.

Language systems are illogical, and Saussure’s ‘Course in General Linguistics’ states that word meanings are arbiturary. It regarded truth as an effect rather than present ‘in something’ and everything was defined in terms of everything else- Saussure’s theory of relation. That process itself was relative and constructed, maintaining while words have no central meaning, language is an essential tool of social power.

Texts are open to an unlimited variety of meaning, making us question the world itself as radically uncertain, for language does not reflect the world but shapes it. It raises questions such as if language is deceptive, then who is in control of this system?

Post-Structuralist thinking attaches a more rational and acceptance towards the words and story in a text, looking for a meaning that might seem on a different level than the author may have intended. They do this by referencing the text with the ideology of the time and culture that they are reading in that day- much like to the close reading we as English literature students do.

I personally believe that to truly understand a text we don’t need to know all the social and political context- you can gather your own meaning in relation to how our society and viewpoint stands today, despite the author’s  original intent.

Post-structuralism essentially creates the ‘death of the author’ by creating the ‘birth of the reader’– a concept devised by Barthes in which he argues that readers construct polysemas texts, having many authors and meanings. Barthes argues that we cannot rely on the author’s identity to serve as an explanation for the text, we cannot understand what the writers intentions were and that the author was not the prime source of the work’s semantic content.

In Peter Barry’s talk ‘The ends of theory’ he said to always start with the text rather than the theory itself. He stated structuralism actually takes the reader further away from the original text, into more abstract questions rather than giving us more illumination on the meaning of the text. Barry discusses how Roland Barthes essay ‘The death of the author’ (1968) “makes a declaration of radical textual independence” and is “free of all such restraints”.

Herein lies the debate and the clearest distinction between the two- does the context behind a text help discover, or hinder it? Do we need to see the bigger picture or to focus on the text in hand? It is not something to ever be decided- everything we’ve learnt so far is that there is no ‘truth’ or ‘fixed meaning’, since, as Barry sates, “there is no truth about these matters which exists outside language

REIGN REVIEW

After scouring Netflix for another show to watch, I stumbed across ‘Reign’. It looked quite like popular show ‘The Tudors’, something that I’ve always wanted to watch but never have. I loved period dramas and historical films, so I thought I’d give it a go. By the first episode, I was so in love with it that I knew I’d have to write about it. Firstly, the plot begins and ges straight into the action- a poisoning at the convent in which Mary, Queen of scots, is staying at for her protection. She then travels to France where she re-meets her betrothed, the handsome Francis, exchanging some eye-sex with him after seeing his also handsome brother, ‘Bash’- an illegitamet son of the king. The season shows the development of her romance with the two brothers as she is forced continuously to choose between duty and love. The themes of nationality, identity and royalty come across strongly in this brilliant series.

First of all, the cinematography of the show amazed me. The camera work is smooth and graceful, and the picture is perfect. We are graced with a kaleidoscope of colours from the Eden-esque settings of France and the incredibly detailed costume designs. The costumes are absolutely fantastic in this show- each dress had been carefully constructed with the character in mind, the dresses are stunning and elegant, accompanied with gorgeous accessories. My only complaint, however, is that some are so far out of the period-era that it’s quite shocking- normally, I would mind, however to see someone wearing a thigh high dress was crudely out of place. The prince also wears a knitted jumper at some point that looks like it came straight out of Primark.  The costumes fit perfectly with the youthful, beautiful cast that portray the characters in the series. Almost every single character in this is beautiful- Mary and her ladies, the king and queen have an older, more seasoned beauty to them, and their sons- Sebastian (Bash) and Francis, are gorgeous too. Makes me wonder if shows such as Reign, True Blood, Vampire diaries, lost etc would be half as popular with a standard- average looking cast?

Mary shows courage in her character, is pleasant and fairly strong- not breaking down into tears though I would like a bit of character development where she is perhaps vulnerable every now and then, to make her seem more human, though I love how strong her character is. She is polite, says the right things- except her flabberghasted mutterings to Francis  in the first episode which, to be fair, most woman can understand, we’ve all been faced with a dreamboat and have said equally confusing and embarrassing things.

Mostly historically accurate with some obvious exaggeration to make the plot fast moving and interesting, however, the winner for me was the soundtrack. With songs from the Lumineers, band of skulls, crystal fighters and other popular modern music, it gave an interesting twist on this show. The soundtrack is absolutely fabulous and gives an interesting juxtaposition with the historical events.

I’d highly recommend this show due to the interesting, fast moving plot that makes you want to keep watching, with interesting twists from ‘The Plague’ to a ‘whodunnit’ of sorts, along side the use of stunning costumes and location of the set and the characters if you like a historical or period series with a modern twist to make it watchable. Comparable to both ‘Merlin’ and ‘The Tudors’.

First Impressions

I’m pretty sure many people have heard the saying ‘first impressions count’. I was thinking about this statement today and I was wondering the truth in it.

Firstly, lets think about places. When you first enter a house, or a pub, you are overwhelmed by trying to take everything in. The first day I moved into my flat at university, I walked in with my parents. I noticed three doors, one of which was extremely heavy and used all of the strength in my toothpick like arms to open. I noticed one of my future flatmates unpacking all of her stuff and after introductions, I finally entered Room 8 of my flat. It was a small room, a blank canvas. There was a bright blue carpet and plain white walls and a pin board with nothing on it. Over time, I have hovered said carpet many times, I have pinned up pictures and maps and tickets on my pin board and decorated my room, making it personal. I have got used to the door after drunken nights out stumbling home, or outside smoking. I later realised, six months down the line, that the flat I lived in looked completely different to when I first saw it that day many months ago. Everything of course has remained the same, but instead of looking at it with inexperienced eyes of a fresher, excited to move in, I now see the place where I leave- the time I dropped my soup in the corridor, the time in the kitchen where I’ve done work. And I realised- my first impression of the flat had completely changed and adapted to what I am now used to.

The same goes for people. I have met people that I liked on first introductions, only to later find out that actually, that girl is a manipulative, backstabbing bitch, or that guy is an offensive pig. I’ve met people that for some reason, I’ve disliked, only to realise later on that they are actually very decent people, and I have become friends with them. Which brings me to another saying- don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

In life, you will meet a range of people- nice people, funny, horrible, bullying, kind, all sorts. But this takes time to find out what people are. You aren’t going to meet someone and they will introduce themselves saying “Hi, I’m Carly. I’m going to bitch about you all of the time and steal your boyfriend because your friendship means noting to me” and you aren’t going to hear the guy you don’t like saying “I’m really nice, and I’ll be here for you even thought you don’t like me” because it’s not what people do. First appearances are misleading. It takes time to know another human being. So, whenever you meet a new person, remember that you would not liked to be judged on the first few words that you say, but rather your actions over time. We’re so quick as humans to jump in straight away to conclusions but I plead, take your time. human beings and complex machines. you need to decode everyone in individual ways. And you never know, if you take the effort to truly understand and analyse someone, you can make a true friend for life.

Peace out guys.

Who are you?

Many situations will arise in your life in which you have to shortly summarise who you are. An example is the introductory ‘name games’ at school or university where you sheepishly have to say your name, where you live and something about yourself. Recently, when I was faced with such an awkward and unpleasant task, I could find anything to say. It wasn’t, or course, that I had no personality or was the human equivalent of water, but that I cannot be summarised into a sentence. And neither can you. How can I possible say that I’m a writer, a feminist, a dreamer, a wisher, a lover and a fighter? How can I express the contrasting qualities of my being- I love being strong, and independent, yet I Sometimes like being shy and innocent. Sometimes I can dominate a room with talking and telling stories and captivating people, other times I like to sit and daydream, the conversations flowing past me unnoticed. I can’t express some of the deepest philosophical thoughts that I’ve had in my life or how my heart fluttered when I fell in love or how the events in my life have changed me. I know that no one will truly ever know me as well as I know myself. Sure, they may know you’re favourite colour, or what genre films you like, but you are the only person that will ever be a constant in your life. They weren’t there when you took your first steps, had your first kiss, when you embarrassed yourself and laughed and cried and went through life. It’s extremely important to remember that everyone is a human being with a life- a past and a future, and what you see is definitely not what you get. I often wonder what people think when they see me. Sometimes we use fashion and posters and tattoos to try and express who we really are, but it’s easy to ignore that and focus on yourself. I once got in an argument with a girl and was horrible upset, until my mother reminded me that she was too. She had emotions too- it wasn’t just about me and my feelings. It’s so important in this day and age to try and be selfless- because when good things happen to you, it can change your day. Other people deserve the same. Originating back to my point on ‘who are you’ I wonder if anyone else has a problem defining who they are in simple terms? How can a few words summarize your soul, your essence, your experiences? I have come to the conclusion that it is perfectly okay that people will not know every depth of my soul. I like to keep some remains of my soul private, and I can continually change, growing day by day until the best person I can possibly be. A year ago I didn’t identify as a feminist, something which now has influenced me greatly. A year ago I didn’t know how much I loved writing, now a great passion of mine. Every day, you begin to change and evolve, so you are never really one person, just an idea that changes and grows as you continue the journey of life.

 

Getting deep, I realise, but I hope you followed my train of thought. If you’ve read this, thank you very much and please comment below, I’d love to know what you think. Bye!