A Little Bit About…Expectations

Expectations are a funny thing. We sub-consciously combine what we think might happen with what we hope will (or will not) happen, leading each and every one of us to anticipate something completely different. One hundred people could be going to the same event, yet every single one would be expecting something slightly different. It’s an unwritten rule isn’t it? Expectations are the epitome of Murphy’s Law: if you have high expectations, you’re bound to be disappointed. Does that mean that the opposite also applies? If you go into something with little to no expectation, does it pleasantly surprise you? I’m absolutely not saying we should therefore be all doom and gloom in the hope that things actually turn out better, it’s simply an observation.

Here are a couple of trivial, but perfect examples of how expectations accumulate, then turn out differently.

Recently, I took the same flight which I’ve taken a million times before. I normally wouldn’t think twice. But I had been suffering from back pain, so I was dreading having to sit in the one position for 3 hours straight. And considering the take-off time was 11am, I was only 4 hours into my day and hadn’t exactly tired myself out enough to sleep through the uncomfortable-ness (that’s a word, right?). Anyway, I got on the plane, checked my seat number and BAM, 31E. The back row, the middle seat. Ew! Worst row, worst seat. I sat down, wedged in-between two people and put my headphones in, hoping my array of Spotify downloads was enough to keep me entertained for the next 180 minutes. However, turned out the medication I was taking for my sore back kicked in; before I knew it, we were landing and here I was waking up from the best nap ever (for any Friends fans, it would have given Ross and Joey’s nap a run for its money). Low expectations, excellent end result (for those of you who don’t value a good nap and therefore don’t appreciate how good of an end result that is, you need to rethink things).

Contrastingly, my mum, my cousin and I all suffer from a thing called “get-too-excited-as-if-we’re-still-5-years-old-and-end-up-with-a-migraine-instead”-itis. What does this complex ailment consist of I hear you ask? I mean I’m sure there’s some kind of medical explanation involving excitement as a trigger and chemicals being released into our brains and blah blah blah, but since my medical knowledge extends as far as “stick a plaster on it” or “take a paracetamol”, I’ll stick to the layman’s description: it means we get so animated on the lead up to holidays, family reunions, parties or any other similarly exciting event, that we end up with a blinding headache. High expectations, disappointing (and sore) result.

Maybe the solution lies in removing our expectations altogether, or at least neutralising them. Maybe expectations are the result of overthinking at its best. Maybe I’ve gotten too in my head with this whole topic that I’ve gone and accidentally set such high expectations in my mind of how to end this blog post that now no ending I come up with seems good enough…

A Little Bit About…The Colour Yellow

There’s always something you forget when you’re going on a trip, isn’t there? Recently, I forgot my headphones – not the worst case scenario, but frustrating nonetheless. On the hunt for some new ones in the limited array of airport shops (side note – why do I always browse airport shops as if there’s going to be something brand new and exciting, something that’s not the same standard WH Smith or Boots you get at almost every airport across the UK?), I got side tracked and decided to buy a book instead. Those that know me, know that my first choice of entertainment would never be a book. Cosmopolitan magazine at a push, but never a book. Even with hindsight, I can’t really tell you why I decided to buy it other than one small fact: that it was yellow. The cover stood out immediately. Then, when I looked closer, it was called “The Yellow World”. It looks yellow AND it’s called yellow, sold! Why? No idea. Good to know I’m a complex individual isn’t it….?

Since going off on a tangent is one my (not so) many talents, this then made me think about what the colour yellow meant to me. Funnily enough, something I hadn’t ever thought about, because, well, why would I. I’m aware there are a multitude of studies and theories about what certain colours make us think and feel and why, so without attempting to pen a ground-breaking theory on colour psychology and buyer behaviour all because a yellow book cover convinced me to buy it, here’s what comes to my mind when I think of the colour yellow:

1) Sun – no explanation necessary (again, a great demonstration of how advanced I am as a human being….yellow sun, blue sky, green grass. The depth of my personality really is astounding, isn’t it?)

2) Spain – Spain holds such a big place in my heart as I have so many fond memories there over the years, I’ll forever feel part of me is at home when I see the red and yellow flag

3) Sunny D – remember that “fruit juice” we used to convince our parents was good for us? In hindsight that ghastly luminous colour probably turned our insides yellow but boy oh boy did it taste good!

4) My Personal Trainer’s shoes – because luminous yellow trainers hurt my eyes in the gym at 6am every morning

5) Cheese – this one cuts me deep, real deep! I used to put cheese on EVERYTHING, there was nothing that didn’t taste better without some cheese. Then I found out my severe headaches and migraines were due to a lactose intolerance so adios cheese for me!

6) McDonalds – seeing those golden arches at 3am on the way home from a night out, when the taxi ride feels like a never ending rollercoaster

In summary…nothing particularly profound or insightful. So who knows what the meaning is behind me buying it beyond it being bright and shiny!

Anyway, now back to the book. I hadn’t read anything by this author before (I hadn’t read anything in ages to be perfectly honest) yet strangely, he had me hooked almost instantly. The author himself overcame a long battle with cancer throughout his adolescence, and albeit many of the stories in the book are related to his experiences during that period, the book isn’t only relatable to people who have been through a similar circumstance. In fact, it’s about small, everyday lessons he has learnt over the years and how they can change our day to day lives. The “yellow” reference throughout the book is about certain people that come into your life: the right people at the right place at the right time. They might not stay for long (or forever), they might not even seem important at the time, but their impact – no matter just how big or small – resonates with you forever. When I read that, suddenly I started thinking of all the “yellows” in my life throughout the years. And by that I mean the actual people, not just the many, many, many (MANY) McDonald’s and Sunny D’s I’ve had.

Conclusion? I’m a lucky girl. I’m surrounded by yellows. Recommendation? Think about your own yellows, and if you fancy, grab a copy of the book

A Little Bit About…Blazers

Within a month of me starting my first proper office job, two other girls roughly the same age as me started too. Naturally, we started to become friendly, go to lunch together, grab a coffee together at break time etc. As with any new job, there were stupid questions galore and copious amounts of ridiculous situations we got ourselves into, particularly being the youngest three in the department.

After a while, we made a WhatsApp group to keep in touch, and discuss everything from the latest office gossip to what time we should get the train at to get to the department away day that week. Said WhatsApp group was named “Should I wear a blazer?”. Why? Because finding our way through our first ever “grown-up” job taught us a very valuable lesson, and made us realise that the answer to that question is always yes.

I have my interview tomorrow and don’t know what to wear, should I wear a blazer? Yes.

I have a presentation to do in front of the company management team tomorrow, should I wear a blazer? Yes.

The dress code for tomorrow’s conference is smart casual and I was going to wear jeans, but should I wear a blazer? Yes.

I’m going out tomorrow night straight from work and don’t know what to wear, should I wear a blazer? Yes.

What to some people may appear to be a simple £34.99 navy blue blazer from H&M, became a suit of armour, an invisible cloak of confidence to the three of us (okay that’s maybe a bit melodramatic, but you get the picture). Seriously though, what a handy piece of clothing! Think about it: smart enough to wear with a dress and heels, and make an outfit look more formal, yet casual enough to wear with a pair of jeans and boots. PLUS, they good on both men AND women. Talk about versatile!

I do have to admit though, my relationship with blazers wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Thinking back to primary school, it gives me shivers remembering the fuzzy purple material my blazer was made of. And the fact that I had the exact same one for 3 years didn’t help – I had one year of looking like I was wearing my Dad’s jacket, one year where it fit just right then one year where it was gradually getting too small but “would still do”, meaning I had to work the cropped look as best I could until the end of my third year. The Goldilocks and Three Bears of blazers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am no fashionista. In fact it’s quite the opposite, for as long as I can remember there’s been a running joke in my friend group that I’m the one with the bad fashion sense. But that says it all, if even I can appreciate blazers, everyone should. As I look out my various outfits to wear to work for the week*, I can’t help but think the world should appreciate the blazer a whole lot more.

*Just to be clear, I don’t normally look out my outfits for the week ahead, I’m never that organised. Just so happened that today I discovered that if you don’t spend all day Sunday hungover and feeling sorry for yourself, you can actually be very productive – who knew!

A Little Bit About…Perspective

You know the usual Friday morning office chat, where everyone arrives in a good mood since it’s almost the weekend, but no one quite has the energy to kick start those last 7 hours of work yet? It’s not the normal Monday, “how was your weekend?”, or the mid-week classics about “how the kids are doing” or “this great new gym class I went to last night”. It’s more reflective and philosophical than that, almost nonsensical. It could be anything from what 5 people, living or dead, you’d like to have dinner with, to what your chosen superpower would be. The trending topic the other week amongst me and my colleagues was what our lives would be like if we were best-selling authors, and what each of our books would be about, leading us to make millions (naturally!).

There was one girl who said she would write about refugee camps, as she (very admirably) volunteers in her spare time to help integrate refugees into society. She told us several stories about people she had worked with, where they had come from and where they were now. She spoke of how they considered her to be “rich”, not because of what she earned, but because she was fortunate. Fortunate enough to have family, friends, a happy upbringing, an education, a society which encouraged her values and freedom. Those experiences made her the richest person one could hope to be in their eyes.

We chatted about how a story like that really gives you some perspective on life. Every single day we moan about meaningless “first world problems”, forgetting that there are much more serious problems going on in the world (or perhaps pretending they don’t exist). So, we made a pact, in which we’d try to keep the bigger picture in mind, and not let the stress of our day to day work overwhelm us. We vowed to always take a deep breath, not to snap at each other under times of pressure and to help each other out as much as possible as colleagues. Because at the end of the day, we ARE very fortunate.

Ironically, about 7 minutes after our conversation ended, the very same girl who told us the story went storming off in a stressed out frenzy because of yet another urgent email demanding something budget-y and excel spreadsheet-y. Then 5 minutes after that, I was moaning about how many meetings I had that afternoon meaning I wouldn’t get to eat lunch until later.

So turns out that’s the thing about perspective: the goal isn’t to have it, but to have it and keep it (for more than 7 minutes at least…).

A Little Bit About…Hot Dogs

We all have our guilty pleasures when it comes to snacking, right? Please say yes and make me feel less guilty about my all too frequent snack attacks! Weirdly, after eating it 3 times a week at the tapas bar beneath my flat on my year abroad in Spain, one of my favourites is chopped-up hot dogs in a spicy bravas tomato sauce. I know what you’re thinking, classy, right? So why are hotdogs this week’s topic of choice? Well I recently had that exact dish (if you can even classify it as a dish) for dinner two nights in a row as I was feeling really under the weather, like I had the flu coming on, and was craving the strangest home comforts.

Now fast forward a few days later, when I did in fact have the flu, and I woke up with red blotches all over my chest (which believe it or not turned out to simply be a heat rash after falling asleep hugging my hot water bottle). But naturally, my first instinct was to Google it. Bad move! As we’ve all done at some point, a perfectly innocent Google search of symptoms somehow snowballs – you click from one page to another, read certain articles which casually mention something else it may be, so you continue your Internet deep dive and before you know it, you’ve wasted 15 minutes reading stuff you know nothing about yet somehow believe it now qualifies you to have a degree in Medicine and diagnose yourself.

My Google search thought process went like this:

· I typed in “rash on chest”

· Read the first few titles and thought “Oh, should have known, can hear my Mum’s voice in my head telling me to hold a glass against it to check if it’s meningitis”

· Then I thought “I knew I should have bought the plain tumblers instead of the ones with flamingos all over them, I can’t see a thing through this glass. I’ll check the other symptoms of meningitis just in case”

· “Hmm, I guess I do have a few of those now that I’m reading it…”

· “Nooo, stop being irrational. How would you even have gotten meningitis? Let’s check the common causes”

· “Viral, blah blah blah, some common food contain bacteria, including soft cheese and….HOT DOGS”

· THOSE STUPID CHOPPED-UP HOT DOGS HAVE GIVEN ME MENINGITIS!!!!!!

It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? After 5 minutes of severe panicking, I decided to let the logical part of my brain take over and settle on the fact I had a simple case of the flu, and the redness on my chest (which at this point was 90% away I must add) was in fact caused by the hot water bottle.

I was chatting to a friend of mine later that day on WhatsApp and told her about my 15 minutes of madness. She replied with several laughing emojis and said that if it made me feel any better, she had panic-Googled “the menopause in your 20s” earlier that day because she had felt what she could only describe as “hot flushes”, when in actual fact it was all because she had put her heating up too high by accident.

Lessons to be learnt?

1. If you think there is something actually wrong, you should go see a Doctor and definitely should not Google what’s wrong with you, then pretend like you’re a series regular on Grey’s Anatomy.

2. We all let the illogical side take over now and again, so don’t worry, you’re not alone!

3. Chopped-up hot dogs in a spicy tomato sauce is a weird, yet wonderful snack

A Little Bit About…Balance

On paper, I have my life together. At 28 years old, I own my own flat, go to the gym twice a week, speak a foreign language, have a plethora of straight As from school back in the day, seem to be doing fairly well professionally AND just successfully used plethora in a sentence. Funny thing is though, life happens in 3D and not just on paper (or Instagram for that matter).

Do I own a nice 2 bedroom flat? Yes. But 90% of the time it genuinely looks like I’ve been robbed. And admittedly the only reason it’s decent the other 10% of the time is because my mum is coming to visit me.

Do I like to get up at 6am to go to the gym before work? Yes. But last night I had an entire packet of biscuits and a can of Coke for dinner. It’s called damage control, ok?

Can I speak Spanish? Yes. But that’s largely due to an obscene crush on Enrique Iglesias growing up, which somehow escalated into years of studying grammar and vocabulary. So much for him being my Hero.

Do I have a ridiculously squeaky clean academic record? Yes. But I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read since the age of 18. I was such a geek up until that age that even now, the thought of reading for pleasure sends me to sleep. And just FYI, apparently Cosmopolitan magazine doesn’t make a good impression when you’re asked at a fancy dinner party or work event what your latest read was. Who knew!

Am I “going places” in work? I’d like to think so. But that doesn’t stop me feeling like a fish out of water at least 10 times a day.

Long story short, I have lots of ducks in my pond but they are most certainly not in a row. And do you know what? That’s ok! That’s what makes us human after all.

I could speak publicly in front of hundreds of people and stay relatively calm. Yet put me in front of a good looking, well dressed guy and I somehow lose the ability to even remember my own name.

I could blow 100s of pounds on a new outfit and spend hours on hair and make-up. Yet the minute I walk out the door, my tights would rip and a gust of wind would blow my hair all over my face.

I’m THAT girl. But in the end, I reckon most of us are.

Conclusion? Be a hot mess AND an absolute boss. Be a fitness freak AND have the ability to shamelessly eat an entire pizza to yourself. Be a geek AND be daft enough to have to Google how long it takes to boil an egg. Be the go-to expert in work AND forget your laptop password every Monday morning.

It’s called BALANCE!

A Little Bit About…Me

Do you ever start something but don’t quite finish it? Like clearing out your wardrobe, or writing half an email then letting it sit in “drafts” for 6 months before you actually hit send? Please say yes and make me feel a bit better, because that’s me to a tee, that’s my thing. I jump about from project to project work wise, I have various groups of close friends instead of one best friend, and my wardrobe has always been a complete mishmash of styles, meaning it’s perfectly plausible for me to look European chic one day, yet like a 16 year old girl coming out of gym class the next.

But instead of letting the inconsistency in my life drive me crazy, I embrace it. I’ve thrown the words erratic and unpredictable out the window, and welcomed variety, spontaneity and opportunity.

Why am I rambling about this? Because, in a kind of contrived way, it’s the same premise that is behind this blog. I’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time now, but hummed and hawed as I couldn’t decide what to write about. Music? Travel? Food? I was enthusiastic about all of them yet about none of them, all at the same time. That’s when I realised I didn’t need to pick just one thing. The idea of this blog is that I can do what I do best, be a jack of all trades, and a master of none, writing “A Little Bit About” whatever takes my fancy that week.

The thing is you see, writing this blog is my attempt at a new hobby (my old hobby – watching Netflix non-stop – has encountered somewhat of a hurdle due to an ongoing Wi-Fi issue in my new house). It’s my way to stay sane, considering I currently live abroad and spend all day every day speaking a foreign language and quite frankly….I miss getting to talk in English.

So here it goes, my very first blog post. Albeit I’d liked to have kick started by writing about something significant, something mind-altering which catches everyone’s attention and goes viral within minutes, the reality is I’m going to start with what I know best: me. Being the hopeful person I am, I’ll do a quick intro to myself, just in case, anyone but my closest friends (who naturally will be forced to follow my blog and pretend they find it interesting) stumble upon this.

How would I describe myself? I’m part Bridget Jones (in a big pants at inappropriate times kind of way) and part Hermione Granger (where there’s a fine line between being a perfectionist and just plain annoying). But aspiring to be Carrie Bradshaw (in the independent woman in the big city kind of way), Lorelai Gilmore (in the staple of her community kind of way) and Rachel from Friends (in the all-round nice girl who eventually gets together with the love of her life kind of way).

You can probably also tell from my 90s and 00s references that I’m in my late 20s (you’ll soon learn that subtlety isn’t my strong point) and partial to a cheesy rom-com. What else? I’m a people person who always has to talk to fill awkward silences, I find myself in ludicrous situations on a daily basis and I’m ridiculously sensitive to caffeine (I’ve only had 3 hours sleep today because yesterday at lunch time I had 2 cans of Coca-Cola then a cup of tea….). Oh, and lactose gives me migraines (a fact I once embarrassingly used at a round table event with the Directors of the company I worked in because I was put on the spot to tell everyone an interesting thing about myself that no one would know). Exhibit A of aforementioned ludicrous situations…

I could go on and on (another fabulous trait of mine) but for now I think I’ll leave it at that. A Little Bit About me.