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Why It's Okay For University To Not Be 'The Best Years Of Your Life'

13 September 2018
I'm going to be honest. I've wanted to write this blog post all summer but have really struggled to find the right words and the the courage to write this post. But with 2 days before I head back to university to start my final year, I thought it was about time that I sat down and shared a bit about my university experience so far.

Before heading to uni, I was so excited about meeting new people and making new friends. Unlike many, I am not the first in my family to go to university so have heard many stories from my family about the friends for life they made whilst studying. Everywhere I turned from school to twitter, I saw people talking about how university is 'the best years of your life' and how you'd make 'friends you'll never forget' but for me that simply hasn't been true.

In academic terms, my university career has gone to plan so far. But a degree isn't the only thing I was hoping to leave university with and I can't help but feel like I've missed out on your stereotypical 'uni life'. The worst part is, I don't feel like anyone is to blame, I was just dealt a bad hand.

I remember the day I moved into my first year halls so clearly. It was an unusually warm September day, and we were all sweating as we carried my mountain of belongings from the car that was parked miles away (thanks to me forgetting to book an arrival slot). After an hour of unloading things from the car, there was a tearful goodbye with my parents and I was left alone. The flat was quiet, and unsure of who had moved in, I propped the door to my room open and started unpacking. Time went on and people started to move in but apart from a brief smile or hello, no one introduced themselves let alone came for a chat. It was getting late in the day and my final flat mate was moving in. I'd finished unpacking but left the door to my room open in the hope someone would come from a chat. Finally, it worked and Susha (who had moved in last) popped in for a chat once her parents had left. She was lovely and we agreed to meet later to go out and try meet some more people. The time to go out came and we decided to knock on everyone's door to see if anyone wanted to come out with us. Out of the seven girls in our flat only one other girl agreed to join us. 

The three of us then went to find others to have pre drinks with and found a flat on our floor that were welcoming people in. Everyone seemed nice, but there were only a few other girls as the majority of the floor were boys. While I'm happy to be friends with anyone regardless of gender it seemed like most of the boys were only interested in being something more than friends (if you know what I mean). Anyway we all went out that night and continued to meet up for drinks every night that week. But as the week went on I started to notice friendships and cliques forming but somehow I didn't fit into any of them.

This was also the week when I met my now boyfriend (of nearly three years) Karl. We'd just had our very first lecture, and were leaving down the steps of the main building. As I looked around everyone seemed to be talking to someone, apart from me and this one other boy walking next to me. As we walked down the stairs all I could think was 'Shall I try talk to him? Shall I try talk to him? Or will he think I'm weird?' until I eventually plucked up the courage to start a conversation. We started chatting and instantly had things in common, he was so perfect that it was almost as if someone had told him all my favourite things before we met, and we've been pretty inseparable since. He introduced me to his flat mates (who were a lot more social than mine). I tried my best to fit in with them but by this point it seemed like everyone's friendship groups were 'full'. They were nice and would occasionally include me but no matter how hard I tried they already had enough friends. This theme continued into my second year. I'd meet new people and we'd always really get along but never quite enough for them to start including me as part of their friendship group.

What I'm Wearing |Pretty Little Thing Dress, Marc B Bags*, Adidas Stan Smiths 

Now this blogpost isn't meant to sound like a pity party. While I may not have made many friends at university, I have found my best friend in my boyfriend Karl, I also still have a great group of friends at home and a group of friends who I worked with on my placement year in Leicester, that I still keep in touch with. I'm just trying to say it's okay for university to not be the best years of your life. 

So much pressure is put on the whole university experience. Right from the pressure to apply, to achieving top grades and gaining a massive group of friends that you go on wild nights out with. Moving away from home is hard enough let alone feeling like you don't quite fit in, but I'm sure you're not the only one. Making friends isn't always easy and you might not have found people that you 'click with' just yet. You might never find them at university and that's alright. Just because you don't make friends at uni, it doesn't mean you will be alone forever despite it feeling quite lonely right now. For most people University takes up about 3 years of your 80 year long life, so you will have plenty of other opportunities to meet new people throughout your life. Despite the pressure around you, try not to put pressure upon yourself. Be honest about how you're feeling and talk to someone about it, because it's nothing to be ashamed of if things aren't going the way you'd imagined.

Eleanor xx

Instagram vs Reality : How Far Should We Stretch The Truth?

5 September 2018
Another week and another drama has rocked the blogging boat, with Scarlett London finding herself right in the middle of it. Earlier this week she came under fire from Twitter trolls and keyboard warriors alike, criticising the 'reality' of her Instagram post promoting Listerine mouthwash. Like many of Scarlett's posts the photo was pretty, pink and aspirational; but most importantly it was staged. 

While this may have come to a shock to many people on Twitter, the rest of us are aware that adverts (which is what this was) are often staged. But it's not just adverts that are staged; magazine shoots, films, television programmes, photographs and many more are also set up to create a certain aesthetic or appearance. For example lots of food and drink in movies is not edible or it may be substituted for something similar, e.g. when an actor is drinking 'Vodka' in a film it's actually water and ice cream is mashed potato. Similarly when we were shooting for a catalogue or an advert at work, we wouldn't always shoot on location. So while it would look like a beautiful room in a house, it would actually be a studio styled to look like a room in a house, even including fake windows with a photoshopped view.

The truth is lots of industries don't present us with reality, because reality isn't always that pretty. Instead we are given a perfectly packaged, Truman Show style world that sets our hearts racing and our imagination running. And I don't mind that. 

Media is there to tell a story and that is exactly what Scarlett was trying to do through her Instagram post. It also something many bloggers, including myself, do to try and engage their audience. I'm not ashamed to say that the image I posted on the morning of my 21st birthday was taken during the afternoon on the previous day. I got into my pjs, blew up some balloons are arranged them on my bed to look as though I had just woken up and was about to open all of my presents. I then edited the photo and posted it on my actual birthday, when I knew I wouldn't have time to take photos because I would be spending the day with my family.

I'm also not ashamed to admit that makeup, magazines and rose petals don't just happen to fall onto my desk but are carefully constructed into pretty flatlays that are visually appealing. 

Is that deceptive? I don't think so.

I don't photoshop my images to make myself look skinnier or to get rid of the scaffolding around the Sagrada Familia. Nor do I claim that detox tea made me slim when actually it's down to eating well and exercising plenty. 

Also, let's not forget that at the same time as posting these curated photos, many bloggers will also use their platform to talk and spread awareness of real life issues.  Mental health, chronic illness, relationship advice and much more, are topics I regularly see being discussed by some of my favourite bloggers to help, inspire and educate their audiences, as they find the balance between the real and the fake. 

So while we bloggers, need to be careful not to take things too far when staging a perfect life and to remind our audience that life isn't always perfect. Consumers also need to use some common sense and take their own wellbeing (as well as others) into consideration when online.

If you are that triggered by a mouthwash advert that you feel the need to start a witch hunt then maybe you shouldn't be online. In addition to this, if you want everything you see to be real and truthful then avoid any form of media, entertainment or people including (but not limited to) magicians, politicians, newspapers, the cinema, television and social media. So, come on and give bloggers a break for a change.

Eleanor xx