Why You Should Always Agree to Pints, Make New Friends and Never Forget to Eat Dinner

YOLO by WhatSheWroteBlog header by Laura McFadden. UK, Irish, Northern Irish Lifestyle Blogger

It’s Saturday morning (8:23) to be exact. I should be horribly horrendously hungover. Like ridiculously so. I’m either hungover or still drunk. Maybe I’m magically un-hungover as a result of throwing up last night. Yep, that’s right, you didn’t misread that last sentence, I was that girl. The one who had one too many beers and threw up. Outside the bar. In front of people. The worst thing about it is that I could feel it coming. I left the bar, the air hit me, my stomach was like: nah, girl, you did not need to drink that last pint of delicious craft beer, and you certainly did not need to drink it soooo quickly.

Luckily, none of it got on my clothes or in my hair and my taxi arrived shortly after (if I’d been a bit quicker about that I could have vomited in the safety of my own home, but again, nah, didn’t get to do that*). My friends girlfriend was very kind and still hugged me when I was leaving. I wouldn’t have, Her friend gave me a tissue and no more was said (bit of context here, they were a group of flawless Spanish people with great hair). I mean, plenty was probably said after I left. I was that drunk Irish girl that threw up, and the anxious part of my brain is doing the rounds on that, it’s properly annoyed at myself. It’s probably overreacting as well, but being smart enough to recognise anxiety and the fear is not quite enough to banish it unfortunately.

So, yeah, that’s life.

All things considered though, I had a brilliant night. It was one of those random nights that wasn’t supposed to happen. I went to a friends house to chat to his housemate about the company he works for because I’m considering applying. Before I knew it, I had a drink in my hand, we were bonding and planning to go to Brewbot. If you live in Belfast and you haven’t been to Brewbot you need to go, like right now. Seriously. They do all the delicious craft beers. Craft beers that get you drunk. And they have boardgames.

The funny thing is, my friend didn’t even go out. It was just me, his housemates and their friends. It was a random, spontaneous night where I made new friends (unless the throwing up ruined that, but that’s probably the anxiety talking, right? Right?) and had so so much fun. And there’s nothing quite like that new friend glow to cheer you up when you’ve been having a awful week.

…then I threw up, because, yeah, I’m not that lucky.

My Instagram feed is full of people who are having productive Saturday mornings, they’re making healthy breakfasts and going to the gym and running errands. I’ve managed to shower and put on makeup while moaning to my friend over a Skype call about what a bad adult I am, and how I am definitely still drunk. Oh, and I took a selfie.

But YOLO, right? You only live once (or you obviously like owls), and I’ll take random nights out with new friends over a night in every damn time.

Now I just need to wait for it to be an acceptable time to order Dominos and wait for the hangover to hit.

Update: It’s now 3:36 on Sunday, I didn’t order Dominos, I went to meet a friend  for pints and ended up at Limelight. I had dinner. I did not throw up.

YOLO.

 

 

*I did, in fact, get to vomit in the privacy of my own home as well.

Why You Should Take That Mental Health Day

Listen, I can’t get out of bed or pu

I’m writing this from bed, in an oversized mustard yellow jumper from H&M that I’m just in love with, off sick from work, updating my CV and actually having the loveliest time. There’s a cup of tea beside me and a Spotify playlist playing in the background. (I’m all about just listening to random Spotify playlists lately and adding anything that catches my attention to my ‘for listening to again later’ list).

Even though I’ve started to hate my job, have a bit of a hangover and have no idea what my next move should be career wise. Living the high life, right?

Employers have a thing about mental health days. They don’t really ‘officially’ recognise it as an actual illness that you can just call in with for a day or two.

Like, I can’t imagine what my manager would say if I rang him up and said: ‘Listen, I can’t get out of bed or put on makeup or be a functioning adult today because I’m kind of afraid to leave the house and face my life, and no, I’m not sure why, and yes, I am about to cry’. So, today I have ‘food poisoning’, and I think it’s going to span into tomorrow, because food poisoning normally lasts 2-3 days. I was contemplating working from home as a compromise, until I ran into my neighbour in the lift, and he and his fiancé have planned a mental health day for tomorrow too, which made me feel a lot less guilty. Everyone does it. I am perfectly normal (on a side note, I have the chillest, friendliest neighbours in the world, and they don’t even judge me for having bottles of wine/beer/prosecco for the recycling every single time I run into them when taking out my bin).

I mean, yeah, in my head, my mother is judging me for taking time off, and my dad is silently judging me as well (one colleague is judging me out loud and bitterly, but it’s hard to take him too seriously, he’s one of life’s naturally grumpy people). My parents have impeccable work ethics, they rarely take sick days. My dad had a heart attack a few years ago and after six months of time for recovery his company doctor was fully prepared to give him another six months. My dad told him he was incredibly bored and politely (I assume) informed him he was returning to work, and that was that.

Luckily, I’m an adult, and like any adult, I have no intention of even implying to my parents that I took time off work. Nope. If they ask how work is going when I go home for Mothers Day this weekend, I’m going to tell them it’s going just fine.

But guys, seriously, sometimes you just need a mental health day or two. Regardless of whether or not you have ever had any kind of mental illness. Where you read and drink tea and watch Netflix and avoid leaving the house at all costs. Because leaving the house means putting on makeup and looking presentable to the outside world, making eye contact with strangers and having to stretch to polite small talk. Sometimes that is just too freaking hard. Sometimes the outside world is a scary awful place and it’s ok if the idea of going out in it makes you want to cry.

There’s something nice about being at home alone when you would normally be at work, and the rest of the world is (well, the rest of the people who live on the floor of my apartment block are anyway). It’s quiet and peaceful, and it feels totally different than it would if I were just sitting doing all of this on a Saturday. I feel less afraid about life, well rested (even though I’m not getting any more or less sleep), more centred.

So I’m hiding out for a while, and I feel better already. Like I’ll be able to take on the world again come Monday.

Why it’s alright if you don’t have it All Figured Out

stay awesome

Yikes, it’s been a while guys. Sorry for being such a blogger recluse.

I had a bit of a freak out recently. It was this weird period spanning a few hours where I was convinced I’d wasted my twenties: on being insecure, on working in a callcentre, on never losing the weight I always wanted to lose, on just putting things off (keeping in mind that I’m 28, I’m still in my twenties, even if the end is looming ever closer).

It hasn’t exactly come from nowhere. A lot of my friends have gotten engaged this year, moved in with their boyfriends or moved on to bigger and better things, and cities, and jobs. Me? My life has went through more than a few upheavals and changes in the past few years. Most of them have have been for the best. The new job, the lovely apartment, the new friends and new opportunities. I’ve not been left behind. I’m not floundering. But for a tiny, little while, I felt like I was.

It was a bleak. It was an unexpected. I was having a quiet weekend. Something I’d been looking forward to for absolutely ages. November to February have seen me be absolutely crazy busy: between work, and social obligations, Christmas and birthdays, I haven’t had a lot of time to just sit back and breathe. So I was really excited that I had this little oasis of calm in the  middle of it all. I was going to clean, do laundry, catch up on my reading and writing. I love weekends like that, the ones that are all about me and what I want to do, with no obligations or expectations from anyone else.

So, on a Friday evening, when I should have been deciding what film to watch and relishing going to bed early, I was overcome with this awful sense of dread. I started to feel like I was behind in my life. I had spent too long living at home. I had moved back to Belfast too late and all of my friends had moved away, or moved on. I was in my late twenties and sitting in on a Friday night, and I was, all of a sudden, a little bit afraid that I was going to die alone.

Which is ridiculous. I know this. I know that I needed that year and a half post PGCE to recover from a really stressful period and figure out what I wanted to do next. I wouldn’t take back that time. I wouldn’t do it differently, because I made a few great friends and gained some much needed perspective. Ok, maybe I could have started exercising and eating healthier sooner, but I can’t change the past, and hey, I’m doing all of that now (27lb and counting).

And Belfast? Belfast is not the same place it was when I was in University. I’m not a student anymore and as nostalgic as I am for those days, I don’t want that lifestyle anymore. I’m ok with that.

Yes, a few of my closest friends are getting married and that is terrifying. Yes, a part of me feels like I might be left behind in that sense. But I am far too young to consider myself ‘done’. I’m not going to die alone, and I’d rather be alone right now than settle. I mean, yeah, maybe I need to throw myself into dating more (how do people date these days? Is it all online? It feels that way). I have other things to do for the time being. Like be excited for the wonderful things that are happening to me, and the wonderful things that are happening to those closest to me. Maybe our wonderful things aren’t the same kind of wonderful, but I’m genuinely looking forward to going through them together.

I guess what I’m really saying here is that it doesn’t matter that you (and I) don’t have all of our shit together quite yet. It’s ok if you’re in a great relationship but haven’t got your career on track. It’s fine if your career is finally going where you want it to, but you haven’t been on a date in forever. If you’re alone and you don’t know what you want to do with your life, that’s cool too, you’ll get there.

(If you have all of the above: brilliant! Well done! I’m simultaneously a little bit jealous and happy for you).

What we need to do is get past this myth that your twenties are carefree and fun and together (thanks social media and pop culture). Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes you feel a little bit broken and confused and exhausted by them. I’ve never, not once, spoken to someone in their thirties who hasn’t said that their twenties were hard. That they struggled. That they doubted. I don’t have a single friend who has it all yet. My brother turned thirty a month ago and it is literally only in the past year that his life has come together in a way that makes him ridiculously happy. And just to put this in context: on his twenty-ninth birthday he left his phone in a taxi, had just broken up with his boyfriend a few months before hand and threw his car keys at a wall (sorry James, if you’re reading this, but I feel context is important here).

So girls, guys, it’s going to be ok. We got this.

What To Do When The World Feels Like A Terrible Place

Blackbird-2

 

 

I started writing this in the days after the Beirut bombings and the Paris shootings. I was hiding out in bed because the world felt like a terrible and scary place. A place where we were in uproar over the atrocities committed in Paris (and rightfully so), but very few people had mentioned Beirut. I don’t know why, maybe we aren’t as surprised when it happens in a city in Lebanon, maybe it’s because Paris is closer to home, quite literally. At least, that’s the experience from my social media feed. I don’t want to go into a rant about this, or too much detail, because I could talk for days and days about it. I guess I just wanted to point out that while what happened in Paris was terrible, similar and worse things happen every day in other parts of the world, and we need to acknowledge that.

I’ve been quiet lately. To be honest, blogging has felt a bit pointless. I’ve been feeling incredibly spoilt, entitled, guilty and so freaking lucky.

Because I was born in a country that was more likely to start a war and contribute to creating a refugee situation than suffer from one. Because I was born in a country where I have basic human rights and then some. Because I have a job, somewhere to live and food. Because Im not currently terrified that the benefits cuts the Tories are trying to put through parliament will make it incredibly difficult to feed myself and family. Because I’m sitting typing this post about how entitled I am on a MacBook pro, in my city centre apartment, while Netflix is playing on my rather large Smart TV.  There are homeless people sleeping a five minute walk away from me. Syrian refugees that probably had a life similar to mines not that long ago. Pretty much every person in Palestine is worse off than me times a thousand.

And yeah, it’s been getting to me. I’d be a pretty horrible person if I didn’t acknowledge that I’ve benefitted from the current system. Ok, so I’m not in the obscenely wealthy 1%, but I’m not exactly the other 99% either, am I? I’m top end of the scale, university educated, with job security, and working in one of the few fields in the UK that are expanding. I’m lucky.

So, what do you do when you’re in a guilt funk and painfully aware of the human suffering going on all around you? You might try and ignore it. You might get incredibly depressed at the state of the world. You might just cry a lot. Maybe you’ll opt for a combination of the three and then some. I had plenty of cute little blog posts planned, with Autumn wish lists and Halloween ideas and all sorts of happy frivolous stuff. But I couldn’t build myself up to actually posting any of it.

It all started during the summer. I started to feel increasingly helpless and frustrated at the refugee situation. Frustrated because I saw tabloids labelling them as ‘cockroaches’ and David Cameron referring to them as a ‘swarm’. Helpless because I didn’t know what I could do. I was only one person and the scale of the situation is just overwhelming.

And gradually, I’ve been noticing the increasing number of homeless people in Belfast. Maybe it’s because I never ventured into the city centre much at night as a student, or maybe I just didn’t see anything I didn’t want to when I was younger. I was walking home from a friends house shortly before Halloween and stopped to give a Spanish tourist directions. He pointed at a homeless man curled up in front of the Movie House Cinema on Dublin Road and asked me if that was common here: I had to admit that it was. Walk down Royal Avenue at night and you can see them, people bunched up in sleeping bags in the doorways of closed shops. Not begging, just trying to sleep somewhere safe and partially sheltered. And because I notice them, I also notice the sleeping bags that are tucked into the corners of the entrances of empty buildings during the day, waiting for their owners to come back. I look more closely at the people who are just sitting on benches, looking a little worse for wear, a little lost.

Meanwhile, I’m worried about my adult acne and whether I can get through the next fast day on my 5:2 diet.

It’s hard to ignore, and it’s hard to think about. Because when I think about it, really think about it, I realise how terrifying that life must be. I wonder what went so wrong in their lives that they had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. I know that in a Welfare State, no one should be homeless, but I also know there’s a dearth of housing, that mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction and a host of other issues can contribute to someone ending up on the streets. I’m well aware that some people aren’t even really homeless, but are professional beggars (taxi men always seem to know who these people are, they see everything, seriously).

So I spent a while feeling guilty and selfish and entitled and helpless. I spent a while feeling like the worst person in the world when I even contemplated writing a blog post. Because what was the point of writing anything, when it didn’t help people? I was in two minds over blogging about how I was feeling because, well, people don’t like to read other people moan, do they? We like happy. We like uplifting. We like problem solvers.

But, fuck it. I can’t be the only person who feels like this. I’m not helpless. I’m in a position to do something.

So, if you’re feeling helpless, altruistic or need a charity to donate to. If you just want to do something good, here are a few things you (and I) can do to help the less fortunate in our society.

1. You can volunteer at, or donate to a homeless charity: If you can’t donate your time, donate money.  There are a couple of  charities about Belfast that I’ve been considering volunteering for: 100 Help The Homeless and the Welcome Organisation.

If you can’t afford a regular donation, or don’t have the time for volunteering, the 100 Help the Homeless are doing an amazing campaign this Christmas where you can make a one off donation of £25 to purchase and fill a rucksack with essentials for a homeless person

Not everyone reading this will be from Belfast. Googling local homeless charities should bring up the organisations in your local area.

2.  Donate to a refugee charity. These people are going through more hardship than I can even imagine, have lost everything, their homes, their lives, their families.

There are lists and lists of causes you can donate to on Just Giving here .

Or you can donate to the Refugee Council  which aims to help refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

You can also donate to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station  or  Médecins Sans Frontières, both of whom provide aid to refugees making the treacherous journey across the  Mediterranean.

3. If you’re pro-Palestine (and I understand that not everyone is), you can donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians,  or to the Palestine Children’s Relief fund.

And if you’re just not entirely sure what the whole Palestine situation is about, a friend of mine shared this on Facebook a while back , and it’s probably the best breakdown of the situation I’ve found online (I’m currently looking for a good unbiased book on the whole thing).

This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the causes out there that are worth your time, and if you’re reading this and you can think of any others, please do share them in the comments.

I’m making a pledge to myself that I will donate to one of these organisations every month from now on. There are so many terrible things happening in the world, so much hardship and so much suffering. We are incredibly lucky, and that’s something I, for one, am not going to take for granted anymore.

How to Dive in to Twitter Chats

About Twitter Chats'

I was supposed to post this well over a week ago. October’s kind of got away from me though and I’m just now catching up with myself, almost mid way through, on a Tuesday morning when I’ve already been in work for almost two hours (not by choice, I promise). So, sorry for being quiet of late guys. Here’s a little piece about Twitter and blogging and the generally wonderful people to be found on the internet.

The Blogging Community is FULL of wonderful, supportive people.

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Let’s Talk About Mental Health

'Let's Talk About Mental Health' quote from What She Wrote Blog, a UK and Irish Lifestyle Blog by Laura McFadden, Northern Ireland

This one’s a bit dark. Sorry guys.

This piece has languished in my drafts folder for a while now. I’ve scheduled it to post a few times. Cancelled it from publishing just as quickly. It was hard to write, like really difficult. If it weren’t for an incredibly genuine, kind and supportive LBloggers Chat yesterday with Polly and the tweets that prompted me to hit publish from Dippy WritesPolly, Justine and Jennifer, it might have never have seen the light of day (I’ve started to dip my toe into the world of twitter chats and let me tell you, lbloggers are lovely people).

So. Let’s talk about mental illness.

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The Six Types of Friendship Breakup

'If you have to force it. Leave it.' quote from What She Wrote Blog, a UK and Irish Lifestyle Blog by Laura McFadden, Northern Ireland

A friend once said to me that she thought it was easier to ‘break up’ with a friend than a boy. Because if you breakup with a friend, it’s really more a case of easing off on hanging out with them, it can always be picked up later, but when you break up with a boy, it’s final.They are out of your life, and there’s nothing left of them. That’s that.

I didn’t really think about it at the time. Didn’t have any strong opinions either way. As I get older, and maybe a little bit wiser, and definitely a lot more savvy about these things, I’ve realised that I don’t agree.

I’ll take your stories about heart break and old boyfriends and raise you a friend breakup.

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It started with the train carriages…

It started with the train carriages title by WhatSheWroteBlog

It started with the train carriages…

The first line in a novel about how segregation of women in train carriages to reduce incidences sexual assault  led to a dystopian society in the style of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaids Tale’.

Except not really, that novel doesn’t exist, we don’t have women only carriages on our trains in the UK. Jeremy Corbyn has just mentioned that he’d like input from women on the suggestion. Which sounds nice, doesn’t it? He wants our input on how we’d like to be protected from sexual assault on crowded commutes. I’m sure his heart is in the right place. Maybe he’s trying to spark a much needed discussion. I hope so.

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