Lesson 11: Appearance

For the majority of my life I’ve had long hair. Not just long hair, very long, super soft, super shiny, beautiful hair. (Not to blow my own trumpet or anything). My hair was a shining beacon of what it meant to be me, it defined me – it’s what people thought of when they thought of me. Especially during uni for example where most of my peers didn’t know I existed (mostly due to my lack of Facebook and my absence during freshers week), Hope? You know the girl with hair? Oh yeah! I’ve seen her around. It was not uncommon for people to just come over to me to touch my hair because they had heard it was ridiculously soft in one spot in particular, strange but true.

When I went to Australia I cut off my hair. I told myself that it was because of the heat, that it would be more manageable, but the truth was I got to that point that every girl gets to at least once in their life – a new me a new hair cut. Every girl at some point in their life will have a drastic haircut, and it’s a really big deal, such a big change to something that defines us so much can be make or break. For me it was break, I hated it, I cried for a week, I didn’t feel like me anymore, I felt lost. Now you might be thinking “it’s only hair”, but this was hair that I had hidden behind for years, hair that was such an enormous part of my personality. When I told people back home, most of them were gutted too although they said it looked good. They didn’t understand why I did it, and neither did I, I felt immediate regret. This was softened by the fact that I donated it to charity, and I put on a brave face, but ultimately I was crushed. I was about to start a new chapter of my life in Australia and I had no idea who I was. 

Then I met people who never knew me with long hair. I walked into a jewellery store for a job interview and was immediately complimented on my hair. How could this be possible? I got the job, I made friends, and all without my long hair. People actually talked to me because they liked my personality – without my long hair to hide behind. I was still me, and as far as my new friends knew this was the same me as I had always been. Growing my hair out has been a painfully slow process, but luckily my hair grows pretty fast. The awkward sitting on the shoulder and flicking out stage was particularly fun, however I was on the over side of the world from most of the people I knew so it wasn’t too bad. When I showed my Australian friends pictures of me with long hair they said it didn’t suit me, when I showed my English friends pictures of me with short hair they missed my long hair. It’s funny isn’t it. 

For a good 75% of the time I was travelling I didn’t wear make up due to the heat, another thing I assumed would impact upon my ability to make friends. I also gained some weight. In my eyes I had horrible hair, was fat and wore no make up – I felt hideous. My excuse was that it didn’t matter because the man I loved was half way around the world, I had no one to impress, no one to look good for. I had striped myself back to a bare version of myself, and I learned that that was ok. This culture of putting pressure on everyone to look perfect all the time is ridiculous. Why not go without make up for a day? Go out in public without make up. No one is going to laugh at you and think you’re disgusting – that’s in your head, that’s what’s been drummed into you by the media. I like being imperfect. It’s liberating. 

Appearance doesn’t matter, I had the best experience of my life. I was still me, people still saw my personality, I found out who I really was with nothing to hide behind. 
Lesson learnt:

I am more than just hair.

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Lesson 10: Long distance relationships

Long distance love is possible. 

A long distance relationship however, slightly more tricky. 

I think the secret to a happy relationship that will go the distance is to have your own life. Everyone has seen those couples that live in each other’s pockets and can’t bare to be apart for even a second. No. We all know that honeymoon phase won’t last forever. On the other hand there are those that go too far the other way, leading lives completely seperate from their partners who eventually become redundant. It’s all about balance, and hard work. Last year I left my boyfriend behind and went galivanting around the world for 9 months. It wasn’t intentional, and there was a whole series of events that led me to take that decision, but I did. And we survived.
The truth is we both had essential and separate journeys to navigate in order to truly know ourselves, and therefore commit to a well rounded relationship. That sounds really serious and complicated and boring – it’s simple really. We’ve been together since we were 15, and worked through pretty much every issue a normal couple goes through. With the added fact that essentially we were children, growing up within the confines of a long term relationship. That sounds bad, I don’t mean it that way and I certainly wouldn’t change a second of it. I just mean that all we knew was each other, and it got to a point where we just needed to get to know ourselves. Anyway this led to an inevitable break up, during which we both ‘found ourselves’ and realised that we are meant to be together. Unfortunately by this point I had already bought plane tickets and there was no turning back. That’s how we ended up in a long distance relationship. 

It was heart breaking, gut wrenching, tear jerking and soul destroying – but necessary. We had just been apart for 8 months, back together for 1 week and off I went. It was actually exactly what we needed, a test of our decision to commit to each other for the rest of our lives. Of course no one understood our decision, I guess it does sound a little crazy, but we were so sure. And people were so mean. Everyone just seemed to have an unreasonable compulsion to convince us that we would cheat on each other. How harsh is that? Well we didn’t. There are more important things than physical relationships believe it or not. We were committed, we are committed. 

He promised me he would accomplish 3 seemingly impossible things whilst I was away, and he did. Whilst simultaneously dealing with grief beyond explaination. He was strong when he should have crumbled, he continued on when he should have broken down, he excelled when he should have been defeated. And I wasn’t there. I missed Christmas; his birthday; Valentine’s Day; even his graduation. It killed me. But it was ok, (we justified) because it was only for 9 months and what’s 9 months in comparison to the rest of your life?. I had a countdown to Ritchie on my phone which helped endlessly with the pain. The letters helped with the loneliness. In America the communication to the outside world was a little trickier but I found sneaky ways to hear his voice everyday, and when I got to Austrailia it was twice a day. In New Zealand I was on the road a lot and sometimes we didn’t speak for days at a time – that was the killer. When we talked we talked of the future, which helped a lot I think. We made plans, updated each other, but we lived separate lives. We made it work. 

I never want to be away from him again. I will also never give up the person I found when I was travelling (me). Now we are living our lives as two strong personalities in a damn near perfect relationship with a limitless future ahead of us, instead of being one personality with two bodies. And that’s better I think. 

Lesson learnt: 

Relationships take A LOT of work, and distance means nothing when you’re committed. Love is worth it.

Lesson 9: Nature

I’ve never really seen myself as an outdoors kind of person. I mean I got into hiking a bit in my teens but that faded after a year or so and I became the indoor kind of person I was always meant to be. Or was I? 

When I first arrived in rural Vermont last summer I got attacked by bugs, bugs like I’ve never known before. Before I knew it I was covered in spots of blood, mainly around my face and hair line that quickly turned to swollen lumps, I was told these bites were down to black flies which I had never heard of. I wasn’t the only one they hunted, they seemed to be drawn to to the new foreign blood that had just walked into their natural habitat and they couldn’t get enough of us. I remember one dinner time I was sat opposite one of my English friends when I noticed she had some ketchup running down her neck, it turned out it wasn’t ketchup, it was blood. Blood! These things were like vampires! Luckily this only lasted for about a week at which point I was told the black flies became out of season. Yay! Then it was time for the sunburn. Now I’ve had sunburn before, but this time I got caught out worse than ever. My whole body was burnt, from my ears to my toes. You know that horrible case of sunburn you get every now and then where it hurts to shower, put on clothes, or lie down – that was me. Only I was in unfamiliar surroundings without the comforts of home. Then came the second round of bugs which I turned out be allergic to and had to be taken to a Doctor because my ankle swelled up so much I couldn’t walk. By this point I was seriously wondering if I could do this outdoorsy thing. The showers were located on the other side of camp from my cabin and by the time I got back I was dirtier than when I set off! I ended up giving up on make up as it just sweated straight off, and the nearest washing machine was a 30 minute drive away so laundry was an issue. In America I learnt how nature can suck.

In Australia I learnt to appreciate nature. I think it was because of all the different wildlife I encountered over there. Of course I did the touristy things like holding a Koala and feeding the Kangaroos at the zoo, I watched the Crocodile shows and saw the all the poisonous Snakes and Spiders. It was amazing. But the wildlife I encountered in the wild was much more interesting. For example did you know that the magpies in Australia are extremely vicious? Yeah. They swoop at you and attack, there was actually a sign in my street warning of the dangers of magpies. Seriously YouTube it, there are some hilarious videos which actually made me respect these birds a lot.  One of the greatest moments of my life was when I went to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef, it was phenomenal. But what was even more phenomenal was the other great thing I saw on that trip, during a walk through the Daintree rainforest. A wild Cassowarie with 2 babies. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Cassowaries but they are similar in size to an Ostrich, but much more colourful and rare, with a sort of horn on their heads which reminds me of dinosaurs. They have a bit of a bad reputation because of some fatal attacks upon humans in the past, they are dangerous animals. I was walking through the rainforest on a guided tour when all of a sudden the guide told us to freeze, that’s when I saw the giant bird, it came right up to us closely followed by its 2 babies. I was completely in awe, I’d never seen something more magestic and graceful. The guide said he’d never seen a wild Cassowarie with babies in his 15 years of taking groups through the rainforest. I felt humbled. In Australia I learnt to respect nature.

In New Zealand I learnt the healing power of nature. By this point I had barely worn make up for 9 months and one day it dawned on me that my skin actually looked better. It was acne free, it wasn’t dry or pale and it just felt generally better. Not just on my face but my legs too, the fact that they had actually seen the sun abroad instead of being hidden under winter clothes in England had done them the world of good. 5 months later and they are still tanned and smooth and feel great! I definately took advantage of the healing power of nature when I visited Rotorua NZ which is a town that smells of rotten eggs. It literally stinks, and the reason is the natural volcanic geizers that let out natural gas. These things are amazing and you can watch a video I took of them on my Instagram page. People collect the mud from the geizers and use it in beauty treatments, as well and bathing in the natural hot springs. I was lucky enough to bathe in the springs too. It was definately a strange experience as the water was nearly 50 degrees C and the pools were mainly filled with male Chinese tourists in speedos. But once I relaxed into it and looked out across the panoramic views of the volcanoes, I felt completely peaceful. It was breathtaking and awe inspiring and completely natural. People swear by the healing powers of these springs and travel from across the world to bathe their aches and pains away. For me the water healed my soul, how cheesy! At last I realised power of the natural world, the absolute purity and goodness that it holds, and I aspire to make the most it more. There are loads more encounters with nature I will tell you about one day, but for now I’ll leave it here.

Of course I’m back in London now and nature doesn’t play such a big role in my life. However I have great adventures planned, watch this space. Nature made an impact on my life that cannot be unmade, I need to be a part of it body and soul. 

Lesson learnt:

Nature giveth and nature taketh away, respect it.

Lesson 8: How to be alone

I don’t think you can truly be happy until you truly know who you are. I also believe that you don’t truly know who are until you spend some quality time alone. You may think you know yourself before doing so, and you’re right on most levels, however you are also wrong. Now this quality time alone can come in any format that suits your personality, but I think it’s best when it’s thrust upon you and you have no choice but to deal with it right then and there. Sure you might feel lousy for a while but ultimately it will be worth it, ultimately you’ll discover a version of yourself you never knew existed. At least that’s what happened to me.

It’s possible to feel lonely in a room filled with people. I guess that’s pretty cliche, but it’s true. I experienced this in each of the 3 countries I visited during my 9 month voyage of self discovery. In America it was the combination of 90% of the staff at my summer camp already knowing each other (I mean, they actually grew up together), and a serious case of awkward new girl on my part. I think when you find yourself in a situation where you are going to be living with people you’ve never met before, it’s important to have a strong sense of self. Before camp I did have a strong sense of self when in the company of people I knew, however when with groups of strangers I tended to slip into the background. Not out of shyness or self consciousness, I guess I just thought it would be easier that way. In reality it’s not easier that way, it’s actually much much harder.

I’ve been in a relationship since I was 15, I grew up as 1 of 5 children, and when I moved to London I lived with a group of friends that I regard as family. My point is I had never been alone until the day I got on that plane. That’s when I began to blossom. I didn’t change per ce, I just became a more well rounded me, like Hope version 2.0. Do you know what I mean? Anyway for the first 2 weeks it was hell, every fibre of my being wanted to run, just get on a plane and leave. But I didn’t. I stuck it out. And I am so glad I did. I learnt a lot on those nights before the kids arrived at camp when I walked back to my 80 year old log cabin in the pitch black and freezing cold. Changing for bed in the piercing silence and getting into my tiny camping bed propped up by milk crates, being so cold I couldn’t sleep because I was physically shaking. Attempting to fall asleep to the sound of the waves lapping at the edge of the Lake that lay just outside my window, totally alone in the middle of the wilderness. The experience was life changing. I now knew that being alone was ok, actually it was pretty great. I went on to make some of the best friends I will ever have, but I also began to relish in my moments alone. In my hours off I would take a book and sunbathe on the docks of the lake, or take a bicycle and see where it took me, and I ended up loving it.

The next stage of my trip was in Australia. Flying to Australia from the UK alone seems like a scary thing to do and people often ask me why I did it alone. Why not? You have to take risks to have fun don’t you? As it goes as soon as you get on the plane you realise just how easy it is. The actual flight that is. When I landed I was to stay with relatives of mine that I had never met before, it was daunting. They turned out to be the most beautiful family I have ever encountered and I learnt so much from them. However that first awkward night when they showed me to my room, I shut the door and had the crushing realisation that I was as far away from the people I love as I possibly could be, I felt lonely. Fortunately by this point I had the experience to deal with these feelings and turn them into something positive. During the days when everyone was at work I went out and explored. I walked for miles, exploring beaches, rivers and towns. I took the bus when I didn’t know where I was going and I had mini solo adventures. It was very freeing.

Again in New Zealand I was staying with more extended family. They are Maori and it was a bit of a culture shock. But wow, what phenomenally loud happy people they were! They accepted me whole heartedly, immersing me into their way of life head first and letting me sleep on the floor of the guest room with my cousins. However it is hard to fit into an already extremely close family, but the trick is to get stuck in! I was quiet at first while I was finding my feet amongst an array of strong personalities. The children were scared of me, they had never met someone from England before and they didn’t know if I spoke the same language as them (English) it was funny. The adults asked me questions like “What’s spotted dick?” but I won them over by baking them my famous apple crumble.

I emerged from my travelling experience stronger than when I went in, and I put it down to being able to be alone. The secret is to enjoy your alone time, fill it with meaning and adventure and you will be rewarded tenfold.

Lesson learnt:

There is no shame in spending time alone, it’s very empowering and spiritual.

Lesson 7: Music

Music is my teleportation device. I use it to relive the memories of my time abroad. It’s a part of my soul and when I share it with people it truly means something special. For example when I hear Bruno Mars’ Marry You I am immediately sunbathing on the docks of Lake Fairlee Vermont, working out the harmonies with my rock of a friend Mayen. I had to come up with an audition piece to teach a group of 50+ children in about an hour, it was a roaring success, and the first time during my employment as a singing/drama teacher in America that I really felt I had done something meaningful. I felt empowered. And now when I hear that song I feel empowered, like I can accomplish anything. 

That must have happened to you, when a song comes on and you’re suddenly transported to a time and place you thought you had forgotten about, but that forces you to relive the emotions you felt at the time. Music is dangerous. There are songs I won’t listen to, point blank, because I know they remind me of the saddest or loneliest times. Equally there are songs I listen to on repeat just to try and recapture the amazing experience they gave me the first time.

When I arrived in America last summer some of the latest chart toppers were: Calvin Harris, Summer; Clean Bandit, Rather be and Pitbull, Timber. I’ll admit these weren’t my usual style, but they became the soundtrack to precamp (the 2 weeks before the campers arrived, during which unspeakably crazy things happened) and went on to be the Anthems of the summer. When I hear them I feel young and free, as well as feeling nostalgic for a time that was truly perfect. 

Some of my loneliest times were in New Zealand. I was at the end of my 9 month adventure and honestly just wanted to go home. I was on the road a lot over a 3 week period just staring out of the car window at the scenery, it’s the most beautiful magical place I have ever seen, but I was feeling sad. This sadness led to the creation of a playlist which I still have, and when I see it sitting there in my spotify app it makes me smile and think “these are the songs that got me home” and I am so grateful for them. Some of these songs included: A Great Big World, Already Home; Ed Sheeran, All of the Stars; Kisschasy, Dinosaur and American Authors, Home. 

Sak Noel’s Loca People will always take me back to dancing around the camp kitchen in the middle of the night with the European kitchen staff. We were attempting to teach the Americans about the European club scene – they didn’t get it, but we had the time of our lives drunk and eating peanut butter from the industrial sized tub. No one can take that moment away from me, it’s imprinted into my brain and activated by that song. It’s like I’m  in a movie, and these songs are the soundtrack. I’ll never be able to go back and re shoot the scenes, but I can watch them as many times as I like – does that make sense? Maybe I’m crazy, but that is the profound effect that music has on me. 

One of the best experiences of my life involves my love of music. It was a small experience but one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done. Sort of a eureka/epiphany moment for me. My summer camp was located very near to the French speaking part of Canada, hence there were a lot of first time campers with literally no understanding of the English language. I noticed one girl in particular was struggling a lot with homesickness and she couldn’t communicate with anyone, she must have been so scared. She was around 13 and would always come to music class and just sit in the corner, I couldn’t get her to join in with my singing lessons. One day she turned up to music class and went to her usual corner but this time she picked up a guitar and started playing, and for the first time I saw her smile. So I picked up a guitar and went and sat next to her, I listened to what she played and repeated it, then I played something and she repeated. We were communicating! Through music! We moved to the piano and continued to bond, and I swear from that moment on she wasn’t scared anymore. I got her involved in a project I was working on which culminated in her singing in front of the whole camp at the final campfire – in English! Granted she didn’t know what she was saying, but she was so happy and I was so proud. Whenever I hear the song Everything has Changed by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran I almost burst with the flood of emotion and memories it brings back – maybe I’m just soppy!

There is so much more I could say about how music and singing has impacted on my life, I haven’t even touched on the musical I MD’d in America ( it’s Frozen and you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/nM0P-Z79tKo ), but I would like to keep this short and leave myself some stories to tell another time. Music is powerful, and I wonder what songs transport you back to the pivotal moments of your life? 

Lesson learnt:

The power of music is endless. It can transport, empower, communicate, break down language barriers, lift you up, bring you down, open your eyes and evoke powerful emotions. Don’t underestimate it.

Lesson 6: Friendship

A while ago my friend Mayen mentioned me in a tweet which read “it’s not always the amount of time you’ve known someone but the quality of time” and this got me thinking. It’s been a year since I started my travelling  adventure and 3 months since it finished. Now, I’ve never really stayed in touch with my friends from school or college. I guess when I left my hometown we just didn’t have anything in common anymore, and I’d rather have very few close friends than a multitude of not so close ones. 

And that’s exactly what I do have – very few close friends. However it recently occurred to me that all of these friends are people I’ve experienced new places with; travelled with; had adventures with. There’s something about finding yourself living in a log cabin, in a foreign country, with no mobile phone reception for 3 months that will bring you close to a person. As I said, I started my journey almost exactly a year ago when I met a perfect stranger at Heathrow Airport. All we really new about each other was that we were about to spend 3 months at an American summer camp together, we both had long term boyfriends, and we were both scared. I had been waiting for her at terminal 3 for over an hour when she arrived with her parents and boyfriend, she had red puffy eyes from crying and I had unknowly met someone with whom I was about to share the worst time and the best time of my life. We certainly had some ups and downs together: from nearly missing our flight to New York AND nearly missing our coach in Boston, to putting on a musical from the ground up in 10 days. For this reason she is one of my best friends, and I miss her. 

Most of my friends share the same passion for wanderlusting as I do. One of these is a particularly strong character from whom I learnt so much about myself and about trying new things. We became friends after finding ourselves outcasts amongst a staff of Americans, and after unsuccessfully trying to infiltrate the group we decided to give up. Instead we found comfort in each other, and became inseparable, like sisters. After mere weeks we knew each other inside out and I can’t imagine my life without her. She looked after me when we accidentally found ourselves at a hardcore trance rave in Boston, and when we couldn’t afford a hotel and ended up sleeping in a van at the top of a multi-storey car park with our crazy Polish friend. Experiences like this make for great friendships. There were tough, scary, miserable and heartbreaking times, but I would never give them up. That would mean giving up the crazy, phenomenal, perfect and life changing ones. 

Now that I’m home I find my closest friends are spread out across the planet, but somehow it feels like they are here with me. In Austraila I ended up working in a jewellery store and accidentally made a friend for life. I stumbled upon a version of myself 5 years ago and we bonded over this. I become like a big sister to her, and in return she held my hand when I had no one else. She woke me up at 2am for a 4 hour hike up a mountain, during which we narrowly escaped a wild snake and got attacked by leaches. When we finally reached the top we discovered that the sunset we were hoping to witness was hidden behind a thick layer of cloud. I had put on weight during my travels and was much less fit than her – she helped me every step of the way, even making all her friends wait for me when I thought I was gunna throw up from exhaustion. I pulled all my muscles and couldn’t walk for 2 days after, literally. But you know what, I’d do it again, because that day I found a person that I will always be able to rely on. I know that if I needed her, even though she lives on the other side of the planet, she’d be here.

Unquestionably the greatest adventures of my life have been with my best friend. A person without whom I would cease to exist, fact. During these adventures I found my personality, discovered my strengths, and tackled my weaknesses, and I put it all down to her. I met her at a time when I was extremely vulnerable, I was 18 and had just moved to London for uni – I knew no one. Then WHAM she exploded into my life. She took me to Latvia where we ended up severely sleep deprived having spent all night at the airport and being unable to sleep on the plane. However we had made arrangements to visit her family in the sticks. Being in Latvia was like being in a zombie apocalypse movie. We stepped off the train onto grass, no platform, no station, no roads! It literally dropped us off in the middle of nowhere and we were quickly losing daylight. We walked straight into the Twilight style forest and managed to find her relatives house. We spent the next 5 ish hours eating traditional Latvian cheese soup, listening to the native tongue as they didn’t speak English, and desperately trying to keep our eyes open. She once took a 23 hour coach and I a 7 hour train to met each other in NYC. We spent the last of our money getting a tattoo at nighttime from a very scary Russian lady whom my friend somehow managed to soften up, then we just walked. With no money and hardly any time we just walked around the city, taking in the atmosphere. I got my transfer to the airport at 3am with blisters on my feet and having only spent 2 days with my friend. It was worth it. She lives in Canada now and every second away from her breaks my heart. We have had countless adventures together, each one more rewarding than the last. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. 

When you are thrust into difficult or different situations, you are given people to guide you through, people to change your life. I genuinely believe that. These experiences made me who I am today, and so did these friendships. Each one of the ladies I mentioned added to my life, and hopefully I added to theirs. Many other people touched my heart during my time abroad, and I have countless more stories to tell. I will save them for another time, so stay tuned. I don’t speak to the people I mentioned everyday, some of them not even once a month, but they are my true true friends. I wouldn’t change my time with any of them.

Lesson learnt:

As Mayen would say; it’s not always the amount of time you’ve known someone but the quality of time.

Facebook

I deleted Facebook about 5 years ago and I have never regretted it. I mean sure, over the years there have been times when not being a part of this seemingly inevitable community has been tough. During uni for example, where making new friends and having thriving social lives are majorly important, and for the majority of my generation Facebook is the key to social success. However I simply don’t see it that way. When I deleted Facebook I wasn’t making a stand or trying to prove anything, I just didn’t need it – simple. At the time Facebook wasn’t quite the same as it is now, and it wasn’t such a big deal. Oh how times have changed!

When meeting new people it is always interesting for me to see how long it takes for them to realise I don’t have Facebook. I recently began a new job and it was exactly 3 days before someone found out my secret. That’s what it feels like sometimes, a big secret. The fact that I have to go through the 3rd degree whenever someone finds out that I do not use this silly social media website! “Why don’t you have Facebook?” “Did something happen?” “There must be reason?” I am constantly bombarded and often segregated because I don’t feel the need to spend my time spying on people through their online photos, and I’m the one who’s strange. 

I just think it is wrong that it has become normal to meet someone new and immediately find out everything possible about them via Facebook. Is that absurd? Am I the crazy one? Seriously, I’m so tired of the “I tried looking for you on Facebook last night but I couldn’t find you, are you under a different name?” conversation. No. I don’t have Facebook. The shock on peoples faces when you say those 4 words is phenomenal, and also slightly worrying. That we live in an age when having Facebook is expected of you is really rather sad. People are even more shocked by the fact that I’m 22 and have somehow managed to live my life without Facebook. “But how can I contact you?” Well I have a phone, you could always call me. Failing that there’s text; email; Whatsapp; Twitter; the list goes on. If you really wanted to be adventurous you could send me a postcard – I know. 

It’s not that I’m against social media, I see the benefit of it – I do, I just can’t be bothered with the hassle. Unfortunately upon discovering this fact about me most assume I’m anti-Facebook, which I’m not. Sure my partner doesn’t have Facebook either, but all our friends and relatives do, we just choose to live our lives in a different way. I’m willing to admit that I don’t have a lot of close friends, but the ones I do have are like family and I manage to keep up friendships with people all over the world. Because if you want to get to know me, you actually have to get to know me, not just scroll through my uploaded photos.

When I went travelling recently many people encouraged me to get Facebook, and I actually considered it until I thought about it more. Most of the people that wanted me to create an account were people that I’m not close to. The harsh reality is that these people are just downright nosy – and through Facebook it has become completely acceptable to judge and critique others based on their profile. I don’t want to have to prove I’m having a good time by posting pictures of myself, I’d rather be a little mysterious. 

Inevitably my picture does end up on other peoples pages and I get the occasional mention, a fact which actually led to me being tracked down by my paternal father a few years ago. He found me through my step Dad’s profile. Is that not wrong? Obviously I didn’t want to be found, but nonetheless someone was able to find information about me and push their way into my life without my consent. The endless power of Facebook. 

Facebook is a handy tool, and increasingly annoying to live without. Facebook groups for uni and work are very helpful but surely there’s a better way? A more organic way? Can’t people see that big companies are using this social media platform in particular to gather information on us? In order to sell us things, data collect, track us, and who knows what else? If you want to get in contact with someone you lost touch with years ago; call them, write to them, I promise you will make their day because you made maybe 10% more effort. Don’t be lazy with the people closest to you. I’ll tell you the biggest secret of all, are you ready? Living without Facebook is not hard, you will not die, and you will not lose contact with the people you actually talk to. Shhhhhhh. You may even find you’re happier without the pressure of it. So try it, why not?