2019 Resolution Check

Well, seeing as everyone else seems to be reflecting on the past year, thought I may as well join in. I was going to write about the highs and lows of the year or do a wee recap of what all happened in 2019, but the whole year is pretty much a big blur and I don’t really think I could remember half of it if I tried. SO, I thought I’d do a wee throwback to the New Year resolutions I made in January, to see how well I did. Here goes:

1) Join the gym.

Off to a GREAT start, I see. Well, this definitely did NOT happen. But at least it means that I technically didn’t skip “leg day” once this whole year. Go me!

2) Be more positive.

Hmmm. I don’t actually know if I did this or not. I like to think that in general, I am a pretty positive person (my blood definitely is). But I can’t remember if I was less positive last year? The whole point of this was to see the “silver lining”, but last year was tougher for me, so I had more clouds to try to line. I don’t know, that one’s too hard. (Can you tell that I’m typing as I think?) But because the gym one was a disaster, I think I’ll just go ahead and say YES. Yes, I am more positive than I was last year. Tick tick.

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3) Make the most of final year

Okay, so I said about “lunch dates and lie-ins”. Okay so, 1) I think I went for lunch like once, BUT that’s because our timetable was hella weird. I did make the most of the Clements in Jordanstown, though. And I went for a lot of coffee dates this year, so I will give myself that. And 2) I am physically incapable of “lying in”, but naturally waking up at 8am is a lie-in compared to setting an alarm for 7:30am when you’re on placement, so I’ll give myself that one, too. God, I’m doing well.

4) Seize every opportunity

“Say yes to more things (that I want to do)”. I mean, I feel like yes, this definitely happened. Largely because I’m living in a student house and no longer on placement working full-time, so I actually CAN say “yes” more.

I also said “no” more to things I didn’t want to do. I made less excuses (and lies), because at the end of the day, not wanting to do things is a reason not to do them. “Just because your friends jumped off a cliff” and all that.

5) Travel more

Oui, completo. I went to Toulouse, Glasgow (if you know, you know), Valencia, Berlin, Meath (random I know), Mayo (also random), Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Had to look back on my Instagram because I couldn’t remember them all. Talk about #cultured.

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Me every 10 working days

6) Cut down on single use plastics

Done agus DONE. Thank God that everyone’s started panicking about the fact that boomers humans have wrecked the Earth and need to make changes ASAP to try to save it, because it’s meant that companies have made it a lot easier to reduce plastic use. I’ve got my steel straw, KeepCup, don’t use lunch bags or carrier bags, buy more loose foods AND didn’t use any plastic in my Christmas wrapping this year. I just cup up brown paper bags and then tied them with ribbon. Very rustic.

7) Think less

Ahem. To quote myself in January, “I just want to be more easy going and laid back about life in general.” HA. That didn’t happen*. I was gifted the “Calm the F*ck Down” book and bought “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” book this year, which says it all really. What was I thinking like. Bloon.

*In my DEFENCE, I am in final year and I am very triggered by dirty dishes left in the sink and unwashed for days 🙂

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8) Wear skirts casually

I DID THIS TWICE IN BERLIN. Tick tickkkkk.

9) Blog more

Hmm, depends. If I meant blog more as in, “do more blogging” than yeah, I did. If I meant, “blog MORE than last year”, then not really, because I did like the same amount as last year. But let’s go with the first one and say YES again. I’m on a roll, lads.

10) Be happppppppy

I feel like I’m in a good place at the minute and I’m happy ‘happppppppy’ with my life and my situation. I know I’m definitely happier than last year, and the start of the year for sure. I’m back at uni so I officially don’t have to be an adult for another 7 months (YEO), I’m living with 2 amazing people (not that they’ll read this and appreciate the compliment anyway), I’m doing a job I really like and I’m happy with how my blogging’s going. Aside from some hella questionable political decisions, the sheer stress of final year, the fact that coffee keeps getting dearer and there’s still no united Ireland, I’m pretty happy with how 2019 went.

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So, there you go. My new year’s resolution for 2020? Stop talking about going to the gym because I AM NEVER GOING TO GO.

Week 0

Well lads, I’m back without popular demand.

I took a wee 6 month break from blogging which I’m sure you noticed. To be honest, I was just flat out doing other things. I had placement, a placement report *shudders*, holidays, starting a new job, getting a new house and Money Heist to watch; but I’m back (yay). I was writing down wee blog ideas on my phone as I came up with them, just never made it much further @comittment issues. But, since I had my uni induction this week, I thought it just made sense to get back into the swing of things again now.

So on Tuesday I had my final year induction. I went because well 1) I’m paying 4 and half grand a year for uni so I’m determined to get my money’s worth and 2) it’s been like 18 months since I’ve been in uni so I needed a wee refresher course on what it actually is. Plus, I wanted to go for coffee with uni friends after (to reward ourselves for that one hour of actually thinking).

How did it go? Well, remember my previous blog post ‘Reasons I’m Excited for Final Year’ ? This induction was more like ‘Reasons I’m Scared of Final Year’. Firstly, I completely forgot the most terrifying thing about uni – the roll call. Deadly. Voice broke, knew it would. Not the best impression of me after not seeing me for over a year- that girl who talks like terminator.

Also, dissertation? Yeah that wee gem. We were told we have to submit a wee proposal of what we want to do it on by week 2. As in, 2 weeks from now. Not going to lie lads, I thought that was like Christmas-time carry on, but no. But it’s okay, I’ve got a page and just written down a lot of random words of stuff I’m interested in and I just know that I’ll have an epiphany. I can just sense it.

Apart from that it was actually grand like, it was just going over the timetable and modules etc, and of course having a wee nosey at who all came back to uni.

But, all scary biscuits aside, I’m still excited for the year ahead. This is going to be my year. But like, for real this time. I’m in a lovely wee student house with two amazing girls (although one of our neighbours stole our food bin?? Still not over it), I’m doing a job that I really, really like and I have a fresh set of coloured pens just waiting to be taken out on a spin. I am gonna need to practice writing neatly again because I’m a bit out of practise after mostly typing for a year, but I’ll get there. So yeah, I had my fab post-placement summer and now I’m ready to getmy head down and have a wee go at this final year thing.

I’m also planning to keep blogging during the year because I do really enjoy it and missed doing it; but sure, as my ma always says, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Placement: Recap and Advice

So, here I am in my FINAL two weeks of placement. Scary biscuits. It’s mad to think it was a year ago when I first bounced in the door not having a notion what I was doing and discovered my love for blazers. This is just a wee summary of my placement experience, which may or may not be of any use to people preparing to go on theirs. You’re welcome in advance.

I’ve done 9-5 days in retail and worked since I was 16, so I thought I sort of knew what the 8 hour day and working life would be like. Yeah I THOUGHT. I was so used to running about on my feet and being hands-on all day, so sitting down facing a screen and phone was a massive change for me. I’m glad I don’t have a fitbit because seeing I’ve only done 53 steps all day would be pretty depressing like. It does take some getting used to, I remember thinking “I’ll be less tired because I’ll be sitting all day” – oh honey, no.

Anyway, my placement hasn’t been what I thought it’d be like, because to be honest I hadn’t a clue what it’d be like. I had no expectations to meet. Which was good, because it meant I wasn’t disappointed or panicking about how good or bad I’d be at my job before I even knew what it was. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time trying to predict what I’d be doing because I would’ve been COMPLETELY wrong (for the first time in my life) – and sure who doesn’t love a wee surprise?

To be honest it’s probably a better thing that I didn’t know, because if I had’ve known that this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have done it. Because I never thought I’d be able to. So, don’t try to predict how good (or bad) you’ll be at whatever it is you think you’ll be doing, because you won’t have a clue until you actually do it. Plus, do you really want to risk that self-fulfilling prophecy? Didn’t think so.

Even though I wasn’t at uni, I still learned a lot in my year out; a lot about the advertising industry, sales, customer service and working life. But I learned a lot about myself too. I learned what I could do, what I was capable (and incapable) of; I learned what I was good at and where my skills were, and I learned my limits – who knew I had any? I also learned a lot about what was actually going on in the world because I read like 3 newspapers a day. Like I was HELLA informed on the goings on in the world. And I got to compare 3 different horoscopes and choose which one I wanted to believe. Ha.

I met so many amazing people and made some really good friends this year, and I genuinely don’t know if I could’ve done the job I did in a different company. Everyone was friendly and said “hi” when they walked past, even though they clearly hadn’t a notion who I was. They’d make small talk when making lunch in the wee kitchen and then make a jokey comment when their soup exploded in the microwave. It was those extra 15 seconds, Dave, shouldn’t have done it.

Luckily, I got on well with my colleagues and we had such a GEG together. We exchanged conspiracy theories, had wee debates and discussed what we were having for dinner a LOT. They helped keep me sane, and were such a good support network for me. I was constantly asking questions and looking advice, and they were always more than helpful and gave me lil hints and tricks. At the end of the day, they were new once too. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or feel like you’re bothering people, because chances are they asked the exact same ones when they started. What makes you look worse, asking someone how to do something or doing it completely wrong and having to get them to fix it?

I was also really lucky that I had managers I felt I could go to if I was struggling, and who had more realistic expectations of me than I did. I constantly compared myself to my colleagues who had been doing the job for several years, because I had no else to compare myself to. There was no other placement student. I should’ve compared myself to who I was when I first started to see how far I’d come and how much I’d learned, but I didn’t.

So take my advice, compare yourself and how you’re doing to yourself at the start of your placement. Are you the best? Maybe not. But are you better than you were? Hell yeah. Don’t – and I mean DON’T – compare yourself to other people. Placement’s a learning experience, not a competition. You’re not on the apprentice, love.

Well I’m not going to lie lads, I was a bit of a yo-yo this year. I had my fair share of highs and lows and a few little “episodes”. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough at times, but that’s life. No matter what you do or where you do it, you have bad days. *Cue Hannah Montana* Work is hard. But obviously it’s hard – why would someone with no experience going into a full-time and proper adulty job be easy? Like my granda always said “hard work isn’t easy, and easy work’s hard to find”, you’re a wise man, Matt.

I’m not trying to scare anyone like, I’m just being honest. There’s no point in me saying it was all rainbows and fairies and easy coasting. It’s important to admit that I found it tough at times.
My problem was that I didn’t and kept acting like I was fine because everyone else seemed to be fine. I was like a wee duck paddling along, looking all calm above the water, but flailing like mad underneath. But we’re all ducks. Everyone’s pretending they’re fine because everyone else is pretending they’re fine. It’s a vicious duck cycle.

This is just MY experience though, some people mightn’t have a single bad day on placement. Good for them. Everyone’s in a different job, in a different company and with different coping abilities. So obviously no two placement experiences are going to be the same.

My most important advice is make sure you ENJOY your year. I don’t mean your placement, because that’s work. Ew. But your actual year. Go out for dinner, drinks and coffee or go to the gym if you’re one of those people that actually enjoys it. Weirdos. Don’t let your placement year just be about your placement. Also make sure you bring in buns on your birthday, people get REALLY annoyed when you don’t (@ Benny, we’re still waiting).

Reasons I’m Excited to Go Back to Uni

Well, here I am. 9 months into placement. I could’ve had a BABY in that time, like a literal human. Isn’t that scary? Anyway, people always ask me if I’m looking forward to going back to uni next year, so here’s a lil list for you of why I kinda am:

*This is in no particular order, but this first one is the main reason

Clements in Jordanstown:
Low and behold, there is now a Clements in my uni campus. Rejoice and be glad. I reckon UUJ did it on purpose to lure us all back, I’m telling you now the attendance is going to go right up. Pre-lecture coffee date? Post-lecture coffee date? Instead-of-lecture coffee date? Thankin you.

The uni bubble:
Uni is this magical place where the real world doesn’t exist. Adulthood isn’t really a thing until you’re 40, your biggest responsibility is topping up the gas, and the ‘future’ is nothing more than a cheat liar rapper. When you’re in uni, nothing else matters. You get to forget about actually having to figure out what you want to do in life. You can postpone making actual life decisions for a whole other year. How fabulous.

Seeing friends:
I miss seeing my wee group of friends every day (well, three days a week but still). At the minute we’re all spread around the place (shoutout to Rachel for ditching to ENGLAND – and not consulting us first??). I can’t wait to see their lil faces and have a geg with them in the comfy purple seats on campus. And I’m sure they feel the exact same way about me. Deffo do.

Writing notes:
I’m one of those sad people that LOVES pens. My wee 4 coloured bic pen (the pink and green one, not the normal boring one) hasn’t been used all year and I can’t WAIT to do nice pretty coloured writing on notes I’ll keep forever and probably never read 🙂

Opportunities:
My uni is actually really good about emailing us out relevant opportunities, like volunteering, different programmes and talks by industry professionals. Yeah, placement is a great way to get work and actually acting-like-an-adult experience, but there’s loads of things like the PANI programme and societies that you can’t actually do once you go out in the scary real world. It’s a good way to build up your CV before you graduate and compete with 8000 other people with similar degrees and work experience. Can’t wait.

Lunch dates:
As I’ve mentioned in several posts, ya girl misses going for lunch. It really makes you feel like a lady of leisure, wee post lecture lunch date before you all split off and pretend to do seminar work. I know fine rightly the people at West are concerned and miss me dearly. So it’s not just for my sake that I want to go out for lunch, think of the economy. Think of it.

Actually learning stuff:
Call me sad (please don’t, I’m fragile) but I actually like feeling like I’ve learnt something, you know that lil “a-ha” moment when you feel all smart because you learnt a long word or can show off to your ma when you’re home?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so much a fan of reading textbooks, journal articles, but learning from those wee powerpoints and “relevant” videos in class? Oof.

Obviously, I know from the past 2 years and siblings who’ve gone through final year that uni isn’t a holiday. So there are of course reasons I’m scared to go back -besides graduating and having to leave uni, although I could always do a master’s to postpone being a grown up…

Reasons I’m not excited to go back to uni:
1. Dissertation
2. Finals
3. Twenty grand of debt

But oh well, that’s September’s problem.

12 Days of Placement

Well it’s Christmas Eve Eve (yay) and I thought it’s about time I posted something a bit festive.

Covers of Christmas songs are very in, and although this is no lyrical masterpiece like “we built this city on sausage rolls”, I hope you enjoy my attempt of making “12 Days of Christmas” a little relative to my placement experience. Although there are no partridges on sight, there is a rather aggressive pigeon that sits on my windowsill if that counts?

Anyway, eh em. Silence please.

On the first day of Christmas, my placement gave to me:

1 mid-life (optimistic I know) crisis about how bad I am at my job

2 weeks of scrimping thanks to “make it rain” mentality on payday

3 emails sent without attachments (oops)

4 voicemails left (I think they might be avoiding me)

5 cups of coffee-eeeeeee

6 FUN patterned blouses (thank God animal print’s back in)

7 broken “we HAVE to meet up!!” promises

8 hours of sitting (I really should start the gym at some point) *key word: “should”.

9 precious days of annual leave left to use

10pm bedtime – judge me all you like but ya gal needs her 8 hours. And it gets dark at 4pm anyway so it’s basically midnight, right?

11 “are anyone’s emails down or are people just ignoring me?”s – emails are rarely ‘down’.

12 months of being an actual adult ?? No thankU

*Ho ho ho-ld for applause*

I reckon if I released this a week ago I too would have beaten Ariana to Christmas number 1. Just saying.

The Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Lingerie

Well if you want to see some Victoria’s Secret models in lingerie and heels, then my friend, you have come to the wrong place. Sorry. But, since you’re here, why not have a wee read and you never know, Gigi Hadid might actually feature.

This is pretty much a sequel to my “Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Fashion” post, which was basically me complaining that I can’t buy clothes that fit. But this one’s exploring (not so) “inclusive” lingerie. I can tell you’re on the edge of your seat already.

You. Right now.

The reason I decided to write about this is because I see a lot of people online complaining that they can’t find bras to fit, and that retailers only offer “small” sizes and don’t cater for ‘curvy’ or ‘fuller’ women. I just want to point out that like with clothes, sizing often excludes smaller sizes just as much as larger ones.

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For those of you who may not know, bra cup sizes (the letter) start at AAA – yes, like the batteries. The next size up is AA – also batteries, followed by A- you get the idea. I’m telling you this because most retailers only offer from size A (or in many cases, B) and upwards.

As well as this, the bandwidth (basically the circumference of your back) starts well, at any size, depending how small the person’s frame is. This tends to be any size from 26 inches upwards. But, the sizes offered mostly start at 32 inches. This has lead to people either having to go to elsewhere and look harder for underwear, or buy the bigger size and just get on with it (tumbledrying works too at shrinking them though- you’re welcome).

For the record, I’m not saying that smaller sizes aren’t available, they’re just less readily available. This means that instead of buying a £2 t-shirt bra in Primark (when we still had one 😦 ), I have to go to M&S and pay £6 for one that isn’t as pretty. Basically it means people have to pay more and have less choice.

Although larger sizes are also harder to come by, meaning women have to go elsewhere for their size too; the difference is that there are several “inclusive” brands like Bravissimo, Curvissa and SimplyBe which cater specifically for those with fuller figures. Ah, the old “forget including various groups, only including one additional one makes us inclusive and not exclusive at all” thing again. *sigh*

Anyway, these brands are also more expensive, because the retailers know we’ll just fork out the money because we haven’t really got a choice. If there’s such a demand and so many needing to go to alternative retailers for these sizes, why don’t more brands start offering them? Why are they making it so hard for us to buy things? JUST LET ME SPEND MY MONEY.

Then again, why would you want to increase your customer base, sales and therefore profits? Pffft silly me.

Recently, there’s been a lot of praise and celebration at the launch of Rihanna’s lingerie line ‘SAVAGE X FENTY’ because it catered for a range of sizes and “real” women. It offers multiple shades as well, meaning that several skin tones can wear a ‘nude’ or ‘skin coloured’ bra which is actually, well, skin-coloured(!!) So women no longer have to all wear the one universal shade of beige that somebody decided was all we needed. Who knew such things were possible? But yes, Rihanna’s new line is great, it does cater for a lot more sizes than typical high street retailers, and it does represent women of all shapes and sizes – as long as you’re not below an A cup. Or smaller than a 32. Oh you are? Hmm. Never mind then.

This has led to people (rightly so) asking that other brands follow suit and also cater for “real women”. But that’s my issue. “Real women“. Basically, to be a real woman you have to have big boobs and a bum. Reinforcing the self doubt and unfeminity felt by women who don’t naturally have these assets have. They don’t need or deserve to be made to feel any less validated as a woman than their more curvy peers.

How is showing slim built models any worse than showing those with figures which are unachievable to some without getting cosmetic surgery? Most people can change their weight; but people can’t help it if they naturally have small breasts or bums (and don’t even THINK about telling me to squat, I’m warning you). How can you tell women -especially young, vulnerable girls- that they’re not real women? Do you know how dangerous that is?

Imagine how it must feel not be able to find underwear to fit, and then be told it’s because you’re not a “real woman”. Not to mention those with alternative gender identities such as trans or intersex, who may require smaller sizes too and already find it hard enough to conform to female beauty standards.

Every identifying female is a “real woman”. End of. Stop telling girls that their natural build, genetics or lifestyle choices make them any less of a woman.

Make small bra sizes available. Make large bra sizes available. Don’t tell women the reason they’re not catered for is because they’re not real women. Stop damaging our girls.

Gigi-Hadid-Catsuit-2018-Victoria-Secret-After-Party

There you go, happy?

Confessions of a Placement Student

Well, here I am, 5 months into my placement year, and I thought I’d share some home truths with you.

I never really knew what to expect out of doing a placement, I mean my brother did his at an IT company (he’s super smart) and didn’t really talk about his work (he’s also SUPER quiet). My sister on the other hand, went to Korea (the South, before you make a witty “the North? Ha ha” joke) for hers, so I somehow think her experience in Jeju is a tad different than mine in Belfast.

Which brings us here. I’m going to let you in on a few things I learnt when on my placement year. Disclaimer: The following may be experienced by other readers, and is not me saying that they are the case for everyone going/on a university placement. I.E – It could just be me and I’m doing it all wrong. But nonetheless, enjoy.

 

1. 11pm is LATE.

I’m in bed by 10:30pm most nights; partly because I’m knackered after working 9-5, and partly because I now know the importance of getting 8 hours sleep*. Plus the fact it takes me around an hour to get to sleep no matter what time I go to bed at- isn’t that a fun and not at all disruptive trait??

*I am determined to get this amount some day.

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2. Weeknight nights out – please don’t

Working at 9am the next day isn’t the same as a 9am lecture the next day. Save your nights out for the weekend, when you can properly enjoy it without checking the time and thinking “I have work in x hours”. I also wouldn’t advise doing a university student’s Fresher’s week, because you will in no way be “fresh”.

 

3. Coffee becomes less of a treat and more of a necessity

I need my daily coffee, not because of a caffeine boost (although it definitely does help), but because it’s important to start the day off with a little treat or “pick me up”. Don’t like coffee? Oh you will, all in good time my friend.

 

4. “I’ll start the gym” – You probably won’t.

I had so many plans to start the gym when I started working full-time, because “I’ll need something as a wee distraction” and because I don’t do half as much exercise as I used to. There aren’t very many ways to make sitting a desk an ‘active’ task. But well, who was I kidding really, the gym isn’t for me – when it comes to choosing between going to one or going for coffee with friends, it just so happen to lose the coin toss every time!!

gym

 

5. “After work drinks” – the only thing I drink after work is coffee.

“We should SO go for cocktails after work sometime!!” We all know where cocktails lead and it is NOT a pretty place. *See number 2.  After a day at work, I want to sit down and have a chat with my friends, in a comfy chair, and be home by 9pm. Call me a granny all you want, but I am a content granny.

 

6. You DO get used to it.

I worked in retail for years, and found I could work a 9:30am-6:30pm on my feet rushing around all day no problem; but sitting down for 8 hours at a desk somehow exhausted me? My friend who was working full-time before me had promised me “Don’t worry, you get used to it”. 2 months in I realised that either she was lying, or was coping better than I was. But behold, I am now a machine (sort of) and I promise, you do get used to the change of routine. You too, will become a machine.

 

7. Your employers know you’re a placement student.

I know that one really knocked you for six. The point is, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you’re not expected to crack the code and master all aspects of your job within the first few months, let alone weeks. Don’t compare yourself  to the other people in your office who have been doing the job for years. Of course they’re going to be “better” than you, but Michael Jordan’s better at basketball than you too – sorry, I’m not trying to lower your self esteem, I’m simply saying you can’t compare yourself to professionals.

 

8. You’ll make (in my case, loads of) mistakes.

You’ll make mistakes, and that’s OKAY. If you don’t do something wrong, you won’t learn what you shouldn’t have done and what you should do differently next time. It’s not so much a mistake as a “how to” for next time. As Hannah Montana said “everybody makes mistakes” and “nobody’s perfect”, what more inspiration and motivation do you need? So, next time you make a mistake, have a wee Hannah Montana sing-song (in your head preferably) and you’ll definitely feel better.

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9. You will meet some of the most amazing people

Those memes on the internet about having work friends who know your whole life story are scarily accurate. You’ll have so many weird conversations and debates about food (we had a very heated one about whether it was candy apple or toffee apple), and you’ll find yourself weirdly invested in your colleague’s dinners. You really do lean on and support each other, as well as get all the scoop on their best friend’s pyscho-ex. Brilliant.

*It’s toffee apple. Not up for discussion.

 

10. You might not figure out what you want to do – but you might figure out what you don’t.

Even if you realise what you’re doing on placement isn’t what you want to do in life, that’s okay. You can rule it out, and you’ll still have learned so much; about the industry, yourself, and working full-time in general. I mean, would you rather do a job you don’t exactly love for a year and never have to do it again, or end up stuck in one after graduation for the foreseeable future? The job’s only for a year, not forever, so  b r e a t h e .

11. Prepare for pensions and National Insurance

I’ll never forget the horror of seeing some of my pay going into a “pension pot”, I remember thinking, “I’m only 20? And saving for a pension??” Well, it’s okay, I’m over it now. Plus I’ve a nice wee £80 cushion to fall back on, so I’m currently deciding between early retirement or buying a villa in Spain…

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Me celebrating my glorious £80

12. You will get excited about new work clothes

I used to go into Primark and think “Okay, why is there a whole floor of blouses and blazers? This would be so much better used for guddies.” Well, let me tell you, there is no such thing as “too many” work clothes. Patterned blouses? Hated em. Blazers? Hated em too. But now, my friend, ain’t nothing I love more than a nice wee print blouse and some fitted trousers. So, you may laugh now, but soon you too will be BUZZIN to hit up the town and buy blazers, just you wait.

 

I had a lot more but didn’t want to bore anyone (might be too late though). I hope this list helps anyone on or going on a placement; you’ll either relate to some/all of these, or you’ll not experience them and then feel a lot better about yourself. Either way, you’re welcome.

If you have any questions/ queries or just want to talk about going on or preparing for a placement, please do get in touch! I’m more than happy to instil my pearls of wisdom and give advice and share my experience! I may not have many pearls, but I’d say I have at least 2.

The Exclusivity of “Inclusive” Fashion

Why do I (and many other women) only seem to buy clothes from the same 3-4 companies all the time? For me, it’s not so much a preference (or the fact that they’re a lot cheaper than Topshop), it’s because these are the few shops where I can actually buy clothes in MY size.

And so is the struggle of many people. “Ooh XXX have a sale- oh wait, they don’t do my size”. *goes on website…checks sizes…exits website and huffs*.

Now don’t get me wrong, it does have its perks- think of all the money I’ve saved because I can’t actually buy anything 🙂

NM26

Over the past few years, there has been an “inclusive fashion” movement among retailers whereby they have extended their clothing size range beyond the traditional 8-14s, to cater for women of “all shapes and sizes”. Shops have gone from offering 4 or 5 sizes to 9+. So what’s the problem? Well, for one, the range only seems to extend to suit one body type.

While an increasing number of retailers now offer sizes over 16, very few cater below a 6. Now, to my delight, around 2 years ago Primark began producing clothes in a size 4 – but this was at least 5 years after they began producing sizes up to a 22.

Yes, there’s a whole debate and backlash about this;  some believe that offering smaller sizes promotes an unhealthy lifestyle and reinforces beauty standards, with others saying how one extreme is no better than another, and promoting larger sizes contributes to the normalisaion of obesity.

But this is not about that. Trust me, I did my A Level HE assignment on this topic and drafted and redrafted a literature review around FIFTEEN times so I am not even going into this *has flashbacks and shudders*.

I’m simply saying that yes, it’s obviously good that retailers are adapting to meet the needs of their customers, but why cater for one type over another? I just want a pair of jeans like, it shouldn’t be this hard.

It does lower your self esteem when you bring 7 items into a changing room and none fit or look nice, but that’s not just the case for larger sizes. Do you know how it feels to look like you’re wearing your mother’s clothes? Not good (no offence, ma – I think your clothes are lovely). It probably feels just as bad as looking like you accidentally tumble-dried your clothes and shrunk them.

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I welcome retailers extending their size range and catering for more than 5 sizes, I don’t think anyone should have to go a certain shop/s to be able to buy their size, or settle for clothes too big or too small for them. I’m just saying that retailers need to branch out a bit more. “Start doing a size 16, that’ll keep ’em happy”- well Mr Multi-National Retailer, on behalf of said “’em”, we are not happy.

Bringing in an additional 2/3 sizes doesn’t make you ‘inclusive’. Being inclusive means bringing in a variety of new sizes. Only extending your range to suit one body type actually makes you more exclusive than inclusive, just saying.

Don’t get me wrong, “inclusive” fashion is great – as long as you’re between a size 10-14 and are no shorter than 5 ft 3 or taller than 5 ft 7.

Now, some retailers have started offering a “petite” or “tall” range, thank God. But why?

If the average woman in Ireland, the UK, America, and most countries is around 5 ft 4, why are nearly all clothes made to suit people who are over 5 ft 6? And why are the models always 5 ft 7 – 5 ft 10? Surely it doesn’t make much sense to make clothes which only fit a a very small proportion of your customer base rather than the majority? But maybe I’m just being fussy, idk.

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And so is the beauty of online retailers – they offer plus size ranges, size 4s, maternity wear, petite and tall ranges *heavenly choir sings “ahhhh”*.

I personally prefer online shopping, but it’s not because I can buy clothes from the comfort of my bed while looking like a sight that is not fit for anyone except the postman to see (although I am determined to make dressing gowns a socially acceptable outerwear) Note: NOT a ‘house coat’. It’s because I can buy clothes.

People wonder why high street shopping is down year-on-year. Maybe we’ll go into your shop when your clothes don’t make us feel bad about ourselves and you actually do our size. And I’ll give you that gem of business advice for free.

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I was planning to write about the exclusivity of the bra industry but I guess I underestimated just how exclusive the fashion industry was- silly me. So to the (I’m assuming) joy of any male readers that haven’t given up or fallen asleep already, you are spared. And well done you for making it this far, you must either be interested in what I have to say on this topic, or you’re really bored.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to do some online retail therapy, because I can. And because Boohoo have 30% off coats -sorry, bank account.

How Coffee Shops Saved My (Social) Life

This morning as I was on my way to get my daily coffee before work, my brother said something so outrageous that shocked me to my very core. “There’s too many coffee shops in Belfast.” It pains me to even type the words.

Once I had a chance to gather myself, I replied “Ammm, ain’t no such thing” (I’m very street like that).

He then went on to list some: Caffe Nero, Hotel Chocolat, Tim Horton’s, Bob & Bert’s, Pearl’s, Clements, Costa, Starbucks (all of which I’ve got loyalty cards for) as if that was too many?

It got me thinking, where would I be without all of these coffee shops? A lot better off financially yes. But also a LOT more tired, and a lot less social.

I’m a placement student, which means that my schedule doesn’t really sync up with any of my friends who are still at uni. They’re free during the day and out at night, I’m in work all day then in bed by 10pm most nights.

But there’s that glimmering, cappuccino coloured window between 5 and 7pm, after I’ve finished work and before they’ve to go home and start preing.

I mean, what can you do at 5pm? No one under the age of around 60 (no offence) has dinner that early, and going for “a drink” isn’t really an option.

Coffee. That’s what you do.

What do you do at 8am, when the shops are all still closed and you can’t exactly sit at your desk for an hour before work?

Coffee. That’s what you do.

After lectures and seminars to procrastinate actually doing uni work?

You guessed it- el caffe. (See how I’m mixing things up?)

Don’t get me wrong, I do love coffee. But for me its not about the drink; I go for coffee because I want to go somewhere nice and sit and catch up with my friends. Even those who hate coffee love going for coffee; there’s steamers, tea, weird flavoured lattes and those ridiculous drinks in Starbucks with a mountain of cream on top and another mountain of sugar inside.

I must admit, Belfast doesn’t have much when it comes to nightlife, everything sort of closes in the city centre at around 7pm (except the glorious night that is Thursday). But there’s always a light on in that Starbucks opposite Europa, or Tim Horton’s (yeah, we’ve got one of those now). Well, until 10pm when they close, but you know what I mean.

All of these coffee shops have actually really shaped my (and Belfast’s) social life.  They don’t just provide us with my daily dose of caffeine and free wifi (yay), they give us a place to sit with our friends and catch up on everything going on each other’s lives.

 

And it’s not just big multi-national chains, it’s wee small independent coffee shops and chains throughout the north of Ireland like Clements and Bob & Bert’s. I always try to go the local shops and give them a turn instead. If you think about, I’m basically a caffeine-fuelled modern-day Robin Hood.

I’m helping support the local high street -which God knows it needs all the help it can get after the Primark fire reduced footfall by 30%. And with amount of money I spend a week on a coffee, I’m probably single-handedly sustaining the local coffee industry.

Coffee shops are so important to Belfast. We need somewhere to sit have a good chat- and God knows we need caffeine. Coffee’s what we drink, it’s what we do, it’s who we are.

So, I’ll raise my skinny cappuccino and toast to the coffee shops of Belfast, “thank you”.