How to stay creative in a world of comparison

I would like to think I am always a supporter of my friends and their endeavours;

I attend events, buy tickets for shows, I purchase the ‘zines, I wander exhibitions, I listen to creations.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for the support on my latest project. The love for ‘The Longer My Hair Grows’ exceeded my expectations, and is continuing to do so. There have been nights of teary groove sessions and it’s due to those people who have ordered my book – even as far as asking for signed copies – that has allowed me to taste the dream that I so very much crave.  I feel like a writer now more than I ever have – and this is only the beginning.

However, within the last few days of celebratory excitement, I have noticed those who have said next-to-nothing. Those being friends who are also artists, and whom I thought would respond with overwhelming leaps of love for my achievements – but didn’t.

Which brings me to this blog. So, whilst trying to relieve this blog of any narcissistic undertones, let’s chat.

How do I deal with competition or fellow creatives who aren’t so happy about my achievements? Well, I just don’t give two shits.

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I live my ‘writer’s life’ in a very, I guess you could say, realistic manner.         Par example:

“I will publish a novel, but I don’t expect it to be my only income.”

“I will – one day – go on a book tour, but that may not include America.”

“I will gain more followers for the work I write on social media, but I will never rock the world.”

I keep myself on the ground, because I know to be successful requires hard work and self-belief, and not fairy-tale destiny crap. You have to start somewhere; the more you focus on your craft, the more authentic and original your work will be – ultimately, that is what is going to invite fandom. Yes, I sometimes fall into the trap of looking at other’s published books only to tell myself I’ll never be that good, but I don’t stay in that mindset very long. I remind myself that comparison won’t make me a better writer, writing will. So, I write. 

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

 Margaret Atwood

Stay focused on what you’re doing whilst supporting others. And remember, you most definitely will never get better if your ideal of perfection changes with person to person. I think the only competition there should be when it comes to creating is with yourself; with your previous work, and the need to hone in on the skill.

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Instead of comparing yourself to another artist, ask them for critique.

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My debut collection of poems, ‘The Longer My Hair Grows’, available now. Click here. 

 

 

 

 

Fake It Till You Make It | The Self Series

Have you ever had a day when you’ve been moody, and someone has said “fake it till you make it”..?

I was thinking about this the other day, and not because someone said it to me, but because it has been so drilled into my head that I’ve started saying it to myself. So here it is, the latest instalment in The Self Series – all my tips for faking it till you make it.

Blast the happy tunes 

This is probably the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling down, but studies have shown that your mood is likely to improve if you actively try and feel happy whilst listening to upbeat tunes. So, next time you’re feeling down,  put on something slightly upbeat, light some candles, flick on some fairy lights and make an effort to make it a vibrant space. Before you know it, you’ll at least be tapping your toes.

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Dress for the mood you wish to be in

How we present ourselves plays a big part in how we are perceived – not only by others, but through our own eyes. For example, if you wake up and you’re in a mood of ‘I just can’t be bothered today’, by putting no effort into your appearance, you will only feel worse about yourself. So, when you have days like this, try and make a point of showering, putting on your favourite items of clothes, and doing something with your day. You don’t have to go to-the-nines, but at the very least wander out and grab a coffee.

Use your clothes as your voice of energy, instead of actually trying to act all energetic. It’ll do your mood wonders.

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Pose it up

My main man, Aristotle, had an idea that has stuck with me since I studied him in uni:

To be virtuous, one must act as a virtuous person would act.

So, to be a confident happy person, surely we must act how a confident happy person would act – right? So, next time you feel like crawling into a little ball of self-pity, strike a pose in which you deem as confidence and competence, and your physical might just alter your mental.

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Remember we are the only thing that stands in the way of our mood improving. So, next time you’re having a substandard day, or you’re struck into a bad mood, try one of my three top tips for faking it (till you make it). And don’t worry, I’m still trying to perfect the art.

Stay confident, stay happy.

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Stick To The Status Quo? | The Self Series

Welcome to Episode 5 in The Self Series. This is the series where I give some thought to common said quotes in today’s society. This time it’s all about the status quo.

What is the status quo?

Status quo is a Latin word literally meaning ‘the state in which’. In today’s society, the label status quo is typically used to generalise what is deemed ‘normal’ in society.

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I have a discussion for us today based around my personal take on the saying “Stick to the status quo” – and before you ask, yes, I was a huge High School Musical fan as a kid.

So, what is my take? I see the status quo as more of a comfort zone; sticking to the status quo being the attitude of playing it safe rather than only societal norms. If we talk about the status quo in this way, this would be our own choice – right? We individually decide whether or not to stay comfortable.  If you ask me, life is all about taking risks and encouraging ourselves to get out there and make the most of things. Life is also about encouraging everybody around us to do the same.

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Quite often when it comes to something new, our bodies inject our minds with a little thing called fear. We can’t blame our bodies for this feeling, because ultimately it’s a survival instinct, but sometimes we mistake worry for fear; we escalate the anxiousness of failure to a level of fear that makes things seem impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you to feel the fear and do it anyway. This seems to be an overall theme in my blogs, but hear me out once again. If I asked you to join me on a skydiving quest tomorrow, what would you say? I know your body would probably start to feel a little more tense, and some part of your insides would do a little dive to the pit of your stomach, but after putting that aside what would YOU say??

I’d hope you’d say yes. After all, experiences such as this aren’t an everyday thing. I’m sure your first instinct would be to say no. Our bodies weren’t designed to fall from the sky, 15,000km above the earths tectonic plates, at speeds unknown to the raw human body – but hey? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, ideally it’s probably not best to ponder this thought right before you jump – but seriously, you’d never do anything if you didn’t live with risk.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers

I have in fact jumped from a plane. When I was about 16, one of my brothers and I joked about skydiving on a family holiday. Emphasis on the word joke. The next morning, as we were in our holiday cabin comfortable in our bunk beds, my parents came in with an aura of adrenaline and asked us, “How about it? Want to skydive today?”. I can tell you now, I still remember that feeling of absolute terror and how quickly my stomach clenched. It had only been a thought, something to laugh about, yet now it was so close to becoming reality. Eventually after our parents encouragement, me and my older brother committed to jump from a plane.

It was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. It was also one of the most terrifying and fear-filled adventures I’ve taken part in.

When I find myself filled with fear; from accepting a new job role, to travelling abroad solo, I tell myself what’s the worst that can happen? I tell myself to feel the fear, and do it anyway because you only live once. More often than not, after we take these risks, we feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.

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We’ve discussed taking risks, and now I want to bring us directly back to the status quo and the idea of self-expression. I was doing some research for this article, and I came across this quote from none other than Dr Seuss:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

As a child, I loved the books of Dr Seuss because they were so different to anything else I read. I loved the unique illustrations, the crazy storylines and the characters being so different to anything I knew in real life.

This quote from Dr Seuss is the definition of a perfect life. We can’t conform to the ideals of society; we can’t live our lives in response to someone else’s standards. If someone dislikes us for who we uniquely are, do they really matter? Should we really let their idea of a ‘right’ life distinguish how we live ours? NO! And if someone lives a true, self-actualized and self-empowered life, they’re not going to mind how we live ours. Be unique, and only live for yourself.

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When someone says things such as stick to the status quo to me, I can’t help but think it over. Remember: that feeling – after conquering a fear or something with an uncertain outcome – is what we should all live for. Be who you are, be true to your thoughts and your feelings.

Don’t believe the status quo to be anything other than encouragement to be different and adventurous.

A Clean Space, A Clean Mind | The Self Series

 

Welcome back to another episode in The Self Series. This month I moved house, finding myself reminded of how much stuff I actually own. My old bedroom had a lot of nooks and crannies, and whilst emptying those out I discovered an utmost desire to de-clutter and rid my belongings of everything unnecessary. Today’s blog is going to be all about doing exactly that, and is bought to you by a quote of Eleanor Brownn:

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”

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No. 1 | Items we have, but don’t need

We all have things we don’t need; crap we’ve bought, gimmicks we’ve fallen for, or simply outgrown items. I am not here to tell you what you don’t need, because this varies person to person.

Here are a few areas I’ve been able to revamp and tidy:

  1. My desk storage and surrounding areas were infested with old university text books, papers, payslips and bills. I recycled everything I hadn’t looked at in a few months, and to prevent the pile up from happening again – switched over to paperless, meaning I now get majority of important documents via email. AND now I have an amazingly clear work space.
  2. The top of my wardrobe had the biggest collection of old birthday cards and old concert tickets. I think I’m like most people when I say I find it hard to throw these types of things away – but do not fear! I have a tip for you…
    • Take photos of them and/or scan them into your computer. They’re only gonna get bent and fade over time, so keep them in tip-top form in a computer folder. 
  3. I also found a lot of trinkets, unused frames, and travel bags amongst other unused home goods. Things like this – which someone else could use – I donated to local charity shops.

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No. 2 | Double is trouble

Humans, majority of us are overly materialistic. I remember that back in high school, I became quite obsessed with make-up and so began the notorious – more than one drawer fill – make-up hoard of 2012. Considering one can only wear so much at any time, it’s easy to say I had too much make-up. Fast forward to August 2017 and my make-up collection consists of 10 items: 1 foundation, 1 eyebrow kit, 1 eyeliner, 1 primer, 1 mascara, 1 eyeshadow palette, 1 powder, and 3 lipsticks. It has taken 5 years, but I perfected the Paige make-up necessities. I have no double-ups, and I only buy items that work for my skin tone and that I genuinely will make use of.

This minimal approach to my beauty routine continues with my moisturiser and shower items.  I encourage you to find one of every required item; e.g. find a moisturiser which you and your skin loves, and stick to only owning one type and then replace when empty. It will keep your space tidy and, especially when it comes to your skin, the less products the better.

No. 3 | The concept of a minimal wardrobe

The dreaded closet clear out. We amp ourselves up for it but when it comes around to the big event, we find it more difficult to discard those items of clothes than originally thought. So I’m not going to tell you to go to your closet and pick only 10 things to keep, I’m going to ask you one question.

Do you think that having more choice leads to less stress and/or promotes happiness?

Think about it for a minute.

Now imagine having 10 of your favourite items of clothing; 10 items spaciously hanging before you. All 10 items you love equally, and fit you perfectly. Knowing that no matter what you pick, you’re gonna feel comfortable. Now imagine having a closet stuffed with clothes; your wardrobe doors don’t shut, the shelving stuffed with sweaters and shirts you can’t manage to fold because no matter how much you try, there’s just no space. Trying to find an outfit within that? Ugh, no, thank you very much.

We should love what we wear. Not only is owning an excessive amount of clothes an unnecessary waste of space and money, it’s cluttering for our brains. So try and limit your belongings, keep pieces you love, and wear them as much as possible. Mix and match, and you’ll soon realise what a select wardrobe with staple items can do for you. Washing machines exist for a reason, and if you’re worried that someone is going to judge you for wearing the same item of clothing in one week? Well, who really cares?

No. 4 | Relationship cleanse

Detoxifying your life doesn’t just refer to things you can hold, de-cluttering our minds also plays a huge part in feeling calmingly free. Relationships which aren’t based on complete honesty can be soul-defying. This might sound dramatic, but sometimes we don’t even realise that a relationship is bad for our overall happiness; we can get so caught up in wanting to be accepted by a peer that it becomes normal to be someone we’re not. If a relationship you have, romantically or friendly, takes energy away from you, take a minute to seriously analyse what you’re gaining from it. And question whether it is worth wasting energy on.

I went through this process quite young. I rid my life of bullies labeled as friends, and my accepting of “loving” insults. I found myself feeling more self-empowered when I began filtering those I accepted into my life. Since doing this, I have found friends who genuinely know everything there is to know. To think that some people have ‘friends’ or even families who don’t know their deepest worries does sadden me. You’re missing out on so much when you don’t share.

No. 5 | The exceptions

I would be a hypocrite and a liar if I said you will never be happy without minimalism. I for one find great happiness and relaxation out of books. And lots of them.

“Simply put, I love books, physical books. I own so many – many of which I have not read (yet). I just need to have them. On shelves. In piles. In random conference tote bags. Paper magazines and newspapers too. Some call it clutter. I call it cozy.” ― Donna Talarico

Thank you Donna for not making me feel like a crazy book hoarder. I needn’t say much more on this topic, except don’t get rid of things which comfort you just for the idea of de-cluttering. De-clutter in areas of your life which only bring stress. As a rule of thumb, if you’re avoiding an area of your life/house, it probably requires some work. Don’t be afraid to dedicate a room in your house to your books, a wall for a floor-to-ceiling art display.

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I hope you can all take something away from this blog. I am going to continue  organising, minimising and de-cluttering my life. A clean space really does help with a clean mind. Refine your life, think more clearly and support your better self.

Aid your aspirations.

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There’s A Time And A Place | The Self Series

Hello, and welcome back to The Self Series. This is going to be where I inject advice from my journey to self-assurance into my blog; a space where I respond to requests, or events in my life, with a moment of reflection.

Today, I’m gonna discuss the saying “there’s a time and a place”. According to some, this is something you say when someone is behaving in a way which is not deemed suitable for the circumstance. In my opinion this seems to be a rather negative take on what could be an extremely positive mantra. I’m gonna give you my three positive takes on this quote:

No. 1

“Certain projects find you at the right time.” – Pierce Brosnan

Ever heard of a thing called fate? Yeah, well I believe in it… to a certain extent. I believe everything works out in the end. I always have, it’s something my parents taught me; read my earliest blogs, I can’t shut up about it apparently.

So, take number one? Being in the right place at the right time. Understand that if something you’ve been striving for hasn’t happened yet, it will happen when the success stars align. The worst thing creative striving souls do is give up when the going gets tough. If you really want something, keep at it and it will happen when its supposed to. Sounds like I’m talking crap, but I speak from experience, and I speak from the hope of success I have for myself.

No. 2

“Eliminate anyone who stifles your creativity by being hostile, mean, or rude – either to your face or behind your back.” – Rachel Wolchin

This is where I tell you to retaliate. I’m not exactly going back on my previous blog in The Self Series (if you haven’t read it already, I highly suggest you do, click here) but I am saying this: there is a time and a place to take no shit. Rachel has it right – eliminate anyone who does wrong by you and/or your passions. In that blog, we discussed responding with a mature and reserved manner, but now is when I tell you its okay to raise your voice. However do not bring another person down, use your voice to open people’s closed eyes and minds.

No. 3

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” – Willie Nelson.

Cue giggles in front of computer screens, or gasps of horror. Either way, Willie Nelson has the right idea. When I see the words there is a time and a place, I find myself reminded of patience. Sometimes we feel self-entitled – whether it be to a promotion or to be at the front of the queue in the supermarket – and self-entitlement is a very bad quality. Yes, we may work hard and be entitled of a victory, but don’t abuse your ego. Let others shine, and you too will get your moment. If you’re patient, whilst not losing confidence in your own passion and hard work, you will get your cheese.

All it takes is a few minutes of your day to wind-down the mind. I hope The Self Series will be your space to reflect as much as mine, and that you have gained something to consider from this blog. I ask you all to comment your take down below, and I will see you next time!

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Kill ’em With Kindness | The Self Series

It’s recently come to my attention that I’m quite sassy.

I’m not always writing, cause I’d never get my bills paid – so, like a lot of creative souls, I do work in customer service. When you work in hospitality you do encounter rude people, and as the feminist and stubborn woman that I am,  I dislike being disrespected immensely. I’ve never been overly mouthy or rude, but I do get a sass on my shoulders and have slammed a few pints down in my time. As any fed up person would.

Lately I’ve been taking to a new way of dealing with these sort of people. Instead of ruining my day or mixing the situation with sass, I’ve been attempting at over the top kindness and coming out the bigger person. So here they are, a few tips and quotes on how to:

“Kill ’em with kindness”

Call ’em out

Sometimes people don’t realise they’re being rude. We’ve all done it; had a bad day, and taken our anger out on someone with our tone of voice, or impatient frustration. You get the nudge from your friend standing next to you at the coffee shop counter, and realise you’ve just sassed the poor girl who is only doing her job.

I have on certain occasions, told customers to just change their tone with me. They will either a) Quickly realise and apologise or, b) Continue to be rude, at which point I highly suggest you walk away. Wherever you work, it’s not in your contract to be personally disrespected. So leave it be. I encourage complete positivity in my personal life, so why is it only now that I’m realising I should be accepting only positivity and respect at work too?

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Pass it off and don’t fight back

There are certain times that people are so stuck in their ways, that they won’t even hear what you have to say. When this happens, when they ignore you, respond with kind enthusiasm. Keep your head high, say what you have to say, and as they make snide remarks, pass them off. Do your job, calmly and professionally, and then ride your high horse into the sunset. The worst thing you can do is let someone’s rudeness or bad day, turn yours into one too. Don’t stand in the presence of negativity, and definitely don’t let it stick around.

“Treat everyone with politeness – even those who are rude to you. For remember that you show courtesy to others not because they are gentlemen, but because you are one.” – Charles Dickens.

Killing a situation with kindness, is a form of strength. Think of how weak it is to throw insults; how much easier it is for some people to be mean, than to explain or talk like a civilised adult.  So by being polite, you remain the mature, self-controlled person you are, and remain with purpose and strength.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

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ASPIRE TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO BE KIND