Monday, 14 November 2016

Representation in the media

I can only confidently talk about what I know to be true and what I know is that when I was much younger, if a person of colour ever appeared on a TV show, it would be a bit of a big deal in my household.

'Oh look there's a black person on the TV... Do you recognize them?  I've never seen them before... I wonder what else they've been in...What show is this, maybe they'll be on again next week?' 

Representation, or in this case, lack of representation, was a big problem that my younger self never questioned but simply accepted.  Living in the UK, I accepted the fact that if I wanted to see people like myself on TV I had to watch ‘black entertainment’ shows (shows specifically targeted towards a black audience which further divides, rather than integrates) like My Wife and Kids, Sister Sister or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (que the beginning of my never ending love for Will Smith...) Or the fact that Sir Trevor McDonald and Moira Stewart were the only successful news anchors on TV who gave me a slither of hope that I could one day do the same. And despite being a lover of books and a magazine junkie at such a young age, the literature I was reading in school never once described a main character as having 'dark skin and tightly coiled afro hair' while I failed to see mainstream magazines suggest products for darker skin tones so that I too could rock 'this summers hottest make-up look.'  It took me a long time to question the norm and also accept the fact that mainstream media had no interest in representing me. When mainstream media finally did attempt to represent me and others like myself, it did so in such a grotesque way.  It chose to use caricatures that depicted my entire race as either ‘the sassy black friend’ or ‘the ghetto chick from the hood’ as the perfect accessories to a main character who never had their own story line. I am neither sassy, ghetto, nor from ‘the hood’ and it goes without saying that being black is not synonymous with being ‘urban’ ‘exotic’ or ‘sassy and loud.’  If a film or show requires a sassy best friend or a thug from the hood, why must they be black? If a film or show requires a nerdy friend or a maid, why must they be Asian? And if a film or show requires a drug lord or leader of a criminal gang, why must they be Mexican? Why does Hollywood fail to see actors from minority backgrounds as anything but an opportunity to further perpetuate and enforce stereotypes?  Not only do we need more representation, we also need to better quality representation. Watch thisthis and this to understand further.

But that was ages ago, we've moved past this now!

This is 2016 and we're past the obvious typecasting now right? TV, film, news shows and literature is learning to be more inclusive and diverse right? More and more women of colour are taking leading roles in Hollywood now and getting involved in behind the camera too, right? The media is not just learning to include people of colour but people from all sorts of minority and underrepresented backgrounds right?? I think it very much feels like this is the case.  Shows like Suits, Scandal, How to Get Away with murder and new shows like Jane the Virgin give some sort of hope that directors and producers are willing to cast actors of colour in leading roles, with no other agenda. My favourite is Gina Torres (who plays Jessica Pearson) in the TV show Suits as she doesn't play an assistant but is managing director of the law firm that the show is based around.  That’s a pretty big deal!! Or how about the fact that Olivia Pope is the main character in a TV show who is played by Kerry Washington, a woman of colour. Scandal isn't a show in the sub-category of ‘black entertainment’, Kerry Washington isn't supported by an all-black cast and Olivia Pope is very much a three dimensional character.  I think Viola Davis hit the nail on the head in her SAG award acceptance speech when she thanked the producers of her show for ‘thinking that a sexualised, messy,  mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old, dark-skinned, African-American woman...' because when it comes to casting such roles, women of colour are often ‘not what we had in mind.’ Race is a funny thing because it shouldn't matter but, at the same time, it’s of great importance.

Some of Hollywood's best actors and actresses are people of colour and come from a plethora of backgrounds but are they still seen as less marketable in a world that is increasingly becoming more and more diverse and multi-cultural?  If we go even further and analyse the Oscars, the biggest awards ceremony in the Film industry, it’s even more depressing.  Since the Oscars began in 1929, only five black people have won in the Best Actor and Best Actress category - four black males and one black female - while in the director category, there have been no wins for a black director.

Well it’s not like this is deliberate… any excuse to accuse people of being racist!! 

It's easy to state that these examples (and many others) are not deliberate exclusions of people of colour from the media industry.  Let's take that viewpoint for a second - that lack of diversity is not a deliberate decision but simply an oversight.  This means that the producers, directors, editors, writers etc fail to be aware of the diverse nature of their audience. If your magazine, book or TV show is aimed to appeal to the general public, then a part of that means being aware that you are trying to appeal to a global, diverse, multi-racial audience. It’s surely impossible to ‘forget’ that kind of thing, thus, oversight is not a justifiable explanation. In response to those who bring up the argument 'so if a company does not hire a person of colour, that means they are racist?' No. But if they fail to interview or give the job to a person of colour, despite them being perfect for the role, and give it to someone less qualified, then yes. In the same way that you wouldn't give someone a job or a role simply because they are a person of colour and therefore fulfill your diversity quota, you wouldn't decline someone of a job they are perfectly qualified and experienced to do because of their skin colour. That seems pretty obvious but it's surprising how many companies fail on both sides.  It's not necessarily about running out and hiring every black actor or model or news reader because you want to seem diverse. It’s about acknowledging the fact that the media is supposed to be reflective of the society it is aimed towards. It’s important that films, publications and TV are not constantly regurgitating the same stories from limited perspectives and fail to explore the great opportunities to truly represent our world. It's a balance that the media seems to still struggle to get just right.

So what, get over it, it’s just TV, jeeeeeeeez 

I think we can all agree that the media is the biggest entity in the world.  It provides news, information, entertainment and a way to connect. It also controls our perceptions of reality, life, the society we live in and who we are as people. So when I, as a woman of colour, fail to see myself properly represented in the media, it makes me feel invisible. When I, as a woman of colour, am placed in a 'sub-category' or stereotyped, I realise that I am part of a world that fails to truly acknowledge my existence, despite very much being a functioning member of society.

Film, literature and TV form narratives that create who we are as people and further enforce our relations with one another. So it is important that we can watch a show and see a person of colour playing a complex character and not be surprised by it because that is what happens in real life! It is important that actors of colour are recognized for their talents and that the news is presented from different perspectives. Stereotypes need not be the norm and should not dictate how we view the world and people around us.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be talking about identity, specifically as a Black-British female. Let's carry on this conversation - tell your own stories and add to the dialogue, either online or offline. Let’s talk about our experiences with media representation. Have you ever thought about media diversity and how it has affected you? If yes, then why? If not, then why not? Can you confidently say that you feel fairly represented? That you’re represented all the time, not just every now and then because it seems to be a trend?  

Leave your comments below, share your responses, tweet me your thoughts, share this post around and let’s keep the conversation going.

*A big thank you to Bolu for reassuring me that this is worthy to post. Follow her on twitter for never-ending lols*

Find me on: YouTube | Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram: @thatgirlsaadiya

Monday, 7 November 2016

‘Black-British’ and struggling with identity

“It is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others-for their use and to our detriment.”
— Audre Lorde
Recently I’ve been thinking about where I belong. On forms and official documents I automatically opt for the box that says ‘Black-British – African decent’. This, I assume, is straightforward - I was born in Nigeria but grew up in Britain and subsequently immersed myself in British culture. However, my cultural identity has been something that I have struggled to fully understand within myself and often find difficult to place. I’ve been caught up in the catch-22 situation of not feeling ‘Black enough’ but also not feeling ‘British enough’ to be classed, definitively, as either or both. There are days where I crave nothing more than to be surrounded by those like me; those with whom share my mother tongue and totally get it when I tell them ‘people keep asking me if Ayoola and I are sisters. Like, what the hell?’ There are days where I want to indulge in my mothers cooking, talk with my cousin while making our way through bottles of Supermalt, laugh with my siblings about our childhood that was so boldly different from that of our classmates and bask in the glow of my skin. Then there are the days where I refer to home as Nottingham and where my language is dry and dripping with British humour. Among all this, however, there are also days where I feel awkward and proceed to scrutinise the way my hair refuses to co-operate. Days where I enter a room and scan the place for any sign of another woman of colour and days where, when among black people, I feel ashamed at the uninvited thoughts that enter my head - that being 'Black' is more than just my skin colour and heritage. Yet, I don’t quite ‘get’ what else there is to it. For years, these parts of me that I identified with have struggled to coexist with one another – to celebrate, or even talk about, being black seems to leave others perceiving this as being anti-British or anti-white while, to acknowledge that I am British, seems to cast aside my Nigerian heritage with one careless motion.

I grew up in a Nigerian household while moving up and down the country. I experienced life as the only foreigner and woman of colour in a school of hundreds and again in a school full of different ethnicities and religions. I found myself not really fitting in to either side of things and so cultivated friendships with people from places I’d yet to learn about. Nevertheless, my experiences of home life certainly was different to that of my classmates and, for that, I was confused as to why things didn’t quite seem to fit. For example, one of my many over dramatized teenage woes included hating my hair and not understanding why it couldn’t be like everyone else’s in my class or on TV or in the literature that I was reading. A certain type of hair that was literally everywhere in the world I was seeing, except on my head. I laugh at it now but it’s a clear example of wanting to pick and choose, to mix and match parts of who I was with what I wanted. Of course, this is not how things work.

When I was 17 and deciding on University and career options, my dad told me with a sense of urgency ‘Saadiya, you’re a young, black, Muslim woman in the world today. You need to give yourself as big a chance as possible to succeed.’ That’s a lot of things to understand and carry around with you as you navigate this world. It is something that I’ve been trying to compartmentalize; pick apart, taking the time to understand each component, and piecing carefully back together.

I’ve been informed many times that I’m not ‘really black' by others who deem themselves to be ‘more’ black than I. The scrutiny followed me around during my time at University, insisting that I need to be of a certain character, use a certain type of vocabulary, cultivate certain types of friendships or move through the world to a specific rhythm before I can truly ‘be black’. Which begs the question, without meaning to be reductive, what else is there to being black other than the colour of one’s skin or heritage? For me, it is a part of my identity that is clear cut – no wishy-washy definitions or alterations needed. It is, indeed, who a person is and not a certain aesthetic that one is trying to achieve or portray. Yet we tend to put up barriers, insisting that there be a difference between one persons black in comparison to anothers. Growing up I believed this. Not so much anymore. Because as I started to explore other parts of my identity; being black or being of African heritage were, in my view, solid and tangible – something that I could always come back to, regardless of whether others welcomed me or not.

On the other side, I also have many experiences with struggling to identify as British. From food to navigating two distinct languages. From my relationship with my parents to a concept of a 'home' that was not immediate and present. I felt like I was constantly trying to find the right balance between my heritage and the British culture that I found myself in. In a post-brexit world this has increasingly become a cause for much internal debate. A part of this is, firstly, understanding what it means to be British and, subsequently, having a different definition than others.

‘Multi-cultural Britain’ is a phrase that forms part of our dialogue when talking about life here.  It’s something that I want to believe in when I see it reflected in my neighbours, colleagues and passersby. It paints the image of a nationwide tolerance that forces the chains of prejudice to loosen. Sometimes, however, this belief is not something that I am able to hold on to.  It’s always a kick in the teeth to see or hear comments calling for people to ‘stop talking about racism’ in order to make it go away. Because I still consider what, if any, affect my skin colour may be having on a certain situation or social setting that I find myself in. This is simply because my experiences have not afforded me the opportunity to stop thinking or talking about race.

For me, Brexit was a recently prime example of how, despite growing up here, I, like many others, can feel like an outsider in an instant. Fear surrounding immigration and subsequent xenophobic rhetoric engulfed our lives. With the ongoing rise of hate crimes, I cried while meeting up with a friend as I told him that I was left questioning what, in my eyes, was one of the core values of this country and of what it means to be British.

Unlike being ‘black’ I found being British to be less tangible a concept. Rather than a set construct, I saw it as an amalgamation of different things. Surely, being British means something different to everyone. It could mean something different to people in Liverpool or Newcastle and something different to people in London or Devon. Then there is the difference between people in Scotland or people in Wales. If I am mistaken, however, should I then identify myself as ‘Black-English’ while my Welsh counterparts identify as ‘Black-Welsh’? Or does this create further divide? It then seems strange to me that to be British – an amalgamation of different nations - means something other than being inclusive, welcoming and, indeed, multi-cultural. But of course, as the story of the Brain family tells us, there are certain cultures that are more welcomed than others.

If I am to believe the media, it seems that immigration poses a real threat to the very essence of what it means to be British. What is missing however, is the understanding that immigration has always been part of the rhetoric of Britain, woven in to its history as far back as 1066, if not further.

It seems that the very act of calling out different races or immigration, has, in steady defiance, caused people like myself to hold strongly on to this part of our identities. To insist that it is possible to be both Black and British at the same time, in the same sentence. Given the historical context of Great Britain, there should be space for this to happen.

Yet, there are those who clearly envision something different to what I do. I have yet to understand this in the same way as I have with being black. Can the part of my identity that is British ever be fully acknowledged by others? Nevertheless, while I can’t control how others perceive me, I’m learning of the high importance of how I perceive myself.

I identify as black and I identify as British. As a citizen and as an ‘other.’ It is of importance to note, however, that this contrast encompasses a variety of things. I identify with my mothers culture, with her language, with the food I eat at home and my upbringing and values. I identify with my experiences, with the people I have met and the education that I’ve had. I identify with my friends, my travels, my view of the world and my reflection in the mirror. Ultimately, I identify with what surrounds me. In certain spaces I identify more as black, in others I identify more as British while in some I identify as neither. Rather than taking away from who I am, I think it adds to it. A small example of how a fusion of different things can work, providing insight that I may have been too blind to see otherwise. I have been afforded a unique point of view that has shaped my immediate world for the better.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be talking about identity, specifically as a Black-British female. How do you define yourself and what do you identify with? 

Leave your comments below, share your responses, tweet me your thoughts, share this post around and let’s keep the conversation going.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Tips on surviving London

I've been in London for just over one year now. It's been pretty intense and I feel like I'm only just starting to get used to being here. There are a couple of things that I wish I'd known before moving however, that would have made the transition from small-cute-and-quiet-Nottingham to omg-wow-slow-down-London a little bit easier to handle. Without the experiences though, I guess I wouldn't have learnt all the lessons and isn't that what life is about - make mistakes and learning from them? Still, here's a heads up on small ways to make it a bit easier.

1. First things first - Do not, I repeat - do not, move to London

2. No, but really - Re-read point number one.

3. Citymapper it - If you, like me, are incredibly stubborn and decide to move to London anyway, the first thing you should do is download Citymapper. It describes itself as the 'ultimate transport app' and it certainly lives up to this description. It's an app that will show you all the options available to you in order to get from A to B. It will tell you how long it'll take, what time to leave and all the different routes available. You can save regular journeys, keep up to date with the latest travel news from TFL and has the tube map available for easy reference. Simply put, it's great. All it needs to do now is make me pancakes in the morning and it'll be perfect.

4. Flat hunting basics - When looking for a place to live, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Never sign up to a place without viewing it and never feel rushed to put a deposit down because 'some other people are really interested too' or 'you won't come across a good place in such a prime location at a great price again'. If you find a place and the stars don't align so that you sign the contract, don't worry - there will be others. Don't let estate agents and/or landlords pressure you into making a decision you may later regret. On the other hand, however, if you do find a place that you immediately like and have no weird feelings about, then act fast. will become your best friend and worst enemy and estate agents... well, the less said about them, the better (apologies to anyone who actually is an estate agent, it's just that there have been one too many unforgettably bad experiences...)

5. Get out and explore - No matter how long you're in London for, there will always be lots of (sometimes free) things to do. Apps such as Dojo and YPlan along with free magazines like Time Out are great for uncovering events, hunting down fun things to do in the evening and seeking out adventure even on the most mundane of days.
London also has great links to the rest of Europe - pick a weekend and get a train from Kings Cross St Pancras International Station and you could be in Paris by lunch time.

6. Explore both sides of the River - Following on from above, don't forget to explore both sides of the river. I've already become one of those 'North Londoners' who dislike going South of the River because of how long it can take. But when South London boasts of Greenwhich, Richmond Park, Kew Gardens, Battersea Park and Brixton, the journey doesn't seem too bad.

7. Walk around as much as possible - London is a vast, thriving, metropolitan city with a transport system so interconnected that there isn't a corner of the city that is not easily accessible by public transport. When you're in central, however, it's surprising how close everything is to each other. One of my favourite routes sometimes is to walk from Central to East Central (Holborn or Chancery Lane) to uncover that the streets that are usually packed with lawyers, bankers and analysts are now deserted and empty over the weekend. Walking everywhere is also a great way to build up a mental map of London that soon you find your feet taking you from Soho to Covent Garden without a seconds thought.

8. Keep connections and meet new people - I haven't quite mastered this yet but I think I'm getting better at it. You become surprised by how many friends and old acquaintances are also in London that it's great to re-connect. It's also extremely difficult as, naturally, everyone is super busy and trying to figure out their way in the city just as you are. But deciding to make the effort can make all the difference. Meeting new people is a tricky one, but events, talks, joining a club and even dating apps can introduce you to people who you otherwise would not have met.

If you have moved to or currently living in London, what tips do you have on surviving and thriving?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Reclaim your lunch break

How many times have you been at your desk at work, looked up at the clock only to find that you're 20 minutes into your lunch break or that it's nearly 2.30pm and the last time you got up was to grab a sandwich before returning dutifully back to your desk. I can't say that this happens to me often - as soon as it hits 1.00pm I am up and out of my office building in a bid to walk around, eat, catch up with a book I'm reading or just generally take a break from the office. However, I notice that a lot of people around me at work rarely do this and opt for eating at their desk while continuing to work.

The guilt factor 

Eating at your desk can be very easy to do, and, before you know it, your lunch break turns into a fleeting thought or even a luxury you once had.  I often urge my current manager to take her full lunch break and get out of the office, to enjoy the one hour away and return to her desk feeling refreshed with a clear mind. I understand however, that demands don't stop and taking a full hour away from the desk can induce strange feelings of guilt or overbearing anxiety that you're going to seem unproductive. To think that you need to power on, that you have too much to do and that to take an hour out of your working day will, somehow, be unproductive is, in itself, very counter productive. There are many health benefits - both mental and physical - in taking a full one hour lunch break away from your desk that include clearer thinking, restoring energy levels or simply bonding with colleagues.  But if you are made to feel guilty about taking one hour out of the day to yourself, what does that say about society and the work culture? About the value employers place on the well-being of their employees? Remember that you are simply human - munching away at your desk on last nights left overs is not a fully qualified lunch break, it is more your body reminding you that you are not a robot and you do in fact need to eat, at the very least.

Your lunch break is sacred

Since leaving university and entering the professional working world, I have two burning questions -

1. Why are we so determined to possibly sabotage our health, productivity and overall well-being for just one extra hour of answering emails or typing away at a report?
2. Who are these God-awful people who schedule meetings during lunch time?

I've had days, of course, were I've inevitably had to eat at my desk due to changing deadlines and last minute requests that are time sensitive. It can sometimes be unavoidable. On those days I find myself hating everything and everyone - the hours seem to last longer while my concentration and energy levels are in dire need of some refuel. What I've come to realise is that your lunch break is indeed sacred. It's golden hour and a time to forget about your to do list. My argument for this is simple - out of the 35 - 40+ hours we work a week, what is the real harm in taking out 5 hours for ourselves.

The world will not implode

Go back to basics with some good, old fashioned bonding and ask a colleague if they want to get some lunch - you never know where conversation could take you and what relationships could blossom. Whatever the weather is like, go for a walk (or if you really can't face the cold outside, take a break in your office kitchen/canteen). Call your mum. Run some errands. Find a bench and read a book or magazine or newspaper or just people watch. If the work really can't wait, schedule a business lunch and talk strategies and upcoming projects while deciding if you want a side of sweet potato fries (who doesn't?) Or do absolutely nothing - we are always looking for ways to fill up every single minute of every single day that doing nothing but eat can be very calming.

Whatever it is that you choose to do, just make sure that it's away from your desk and computer screen.  

I understand that for many, taking a lunch break simply is not an option. Horrible bosses, very bad company culture or working in medical care can easily contribute to the lunch break being an elusive myth one can only imagine but never truly experience. But if you do work an office job and your boss is somewhat reasonable, taking a lunch break will not diminish your work ethic or put your bonus in jeopardy. Work hard, get in to work earlier if needs be, but use that one hour as it's meant to be used - as a well deserved break.

Even if the work is piling up, even if your to do list has just doubled, even if you think the world will implode* if you step away for one hour, take that one hour and reclaim it back in all its entirety.
Go on, take a break.

Do you regularly take your lunch break at work?

Currently loving:

*This probably won't happen. I hope.

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Friday, 23 September 2016

Teenage ambition // Musings

Between the ages of 5 and 15 I wanted to be 101 different things ‘when I grow up’. I started out my childhood wanting to be a nurse before my dad told me to aim as high as possible and set my sights on becoming a surgeon. This was, of course, humorously stereotypical of a Nigerian father but, unbeknownst to him, it prompted obsessions with high flying, slightly impossible careers. For a large portion of time, I wanted to be an actress, but like, a multi-millionaire-Beverley-hills-living-I-only-drink-water-from-the-mountains Hollywood actress. I also convinced myself to take up a sport so that I could, eventually, compete in the Olympics (obviously). I tried everything from Field Hockey to Cycling, from Netball to Running, only to realise that my body was not made for such things. At one time I thought I should pursue a career in science and be the one to discover indisputable evidence that there actually is life on Mars. But there came a point where my grades in science didn’t really reflect this ambition so I thought it best to be realistic for once and let that dream go. Then, I shifted my attention to music and took up piano lessons for a summer and came to the conclusion that the age of 15 was too late to play a musical instrument and become the next Beethoven. It was all or nothing for me and I didn’t want to settle for anything less. I thought about architecture, about modelling, about owning my own store a la Bloomingdales or Harrods, about pursuing a career in design and even about teaching at Oxford. Name a career and I would have spent weeks, months, or even years, researching and convincing myself that I could pursue that.

One thing I will always be grateful about is that, despite whatever hare-brained idea I had to pursue a certain activity or vocation, both of my parents were supportive. Probably because they knew I’d get bored and move on eventually – but, nevertheless, there was no ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘I’m not sure it’s the best thing for you to do’. In fact, out of everyone, my parents encouraged me to think about these things and to ask ‘why not?’ This was, of course, until I got to college and all of a sudden I was making what seemed to be the irreversible decision as to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At which point my dad pretty much pulled me in the direction of Law.

Nevertheless, I wanted to do and be everything I possibly could in one lifetime. It seems a shame that, as we get older, we are directed into one single minded way of thinking – to believe that we can and should only have one career path. To become one thing and stick with that for ever, which will define who you are seems a bit daunting.

However, I’m now willing myself to take some inspiration from my teenage self and realise that I still can and should do everything and anything (within reason, of course), despite having a full time job that uses up 70% of my energy (the other 30% is used up by navigating my way around London and trying not to get lost… again). I have started to meet people who, despite also working full time, are really into fitness and work out five times a week (!), or who freelance as graphic/web designers after work, who teach a language or musical instrument, who go to free talks to learn more, have a mini business on the side, who blog, take part in their community or volunteer their time for great causes. They are bad ass women and men who are refusing to be defined by their job title alone or how much money they make. Being on a certain career path and progressing in your chosen field is a vital part of your life, but it doesn’t have to be the be all and end all and as human beings we are so much more complex than that. It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t, be the defining fact about you. When someone asks you what you do, feel free to let them know your career, but also all the other wonderful things that you spend your spare time doing. 

Currently loving: 

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Thursday, 1 September 2016

There's no place like home

It wasn't until I turned 25 last December that I fully understood the meaning of the phrase 'there's no place like home'. After moving to London and feeling lost in a sea of people and noise for 3-4 months, I finally got online, booked my train tickets and went back to Nottingham. I discovered that it is true what they say - there really is no place like home.

Growing up, my mum would always say this phrase to me over and over, with a longing in her eyes to one day return to her own home; Nigeria.  Many years later, I now fully understand what she meant. She was referring to the fact that there's nothing like the familiarity of your childhood bed, or the noise the stairs make when you creep down them in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. She was pointing out the fact that everything remains the same, even though so much (of you) has changed and will continue to do so. There is no place where you'd rather be to hide from a storm or dance well into the night. It's the first place you think of calling when you hear news - good or bad.

What I had yet to understand was that 'home' is the place where your heart feels easy. Where it knows that it belongs and can stay as long as it needs. It's a place of feeling, of comfort and solace - where no words have to be exchanged or explanations given. It's a place of indescribable contentment. The kind that offers comfort and a sense of safety that no place you've seen has been able to offer you so far.

Home is the memories with your siblings. It's remembering the childhood games you played in the long summer days. It's the resenting 'I'm sorry' after the argument to end all arguments. It's the embarrassing moments only you share together. It's being safe in the knowledge that wherever you may travel, there's a connection that started long before your existence that you can always find your way back to.

It's the distinct smell of your mothers cooking - the spices and fried plantain that can be smelt from halfway down the street. It's the surprise 'I'm making Moi Moi' your mum calls out as you enter the house. It's the deafening silence in the middle of the night and the rush of movement in the morning. It's the feeling of restlessness - of wanting to move on to the next adventure. But not yet, maybe next week, month or year.

It's a place that, despite my best efforts, is difficult to describe. What does it mean to be home? It means comfort, safety, familiarity, and memories you thought you'd long forgotten. It's a building, a city, and, more importantly, it's a person, or group of people, that truly define the word home.

What is your definition of home?

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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Thoughts on not drinking alcohol

While growing up the thought of drinking alcohol never crossed my mind - I had no urge, need or curiosity to try it. Mainly because of my upbringing, my religion and the fact that it never entered my parents home. In fact, I don't think I had ever been around any drunk people until I started university. While I had friends who were already experimenting with alcohol, it wasn't until then that I started to witness drinking games and came into close contact with various bottles of various drinks I was previously oblivious to. I'll admit, curiosity did start to creep up on me during my first couple of months at university and I seriously thought about trying it, just to see what all the hype was about - I mean, it must be amazing the way it so heavily dominated some peoples university experiences and conversations, right? However, the more I would witness some of the effects of alcohol in the form of stumbling, falling and being helped by friends into a taxi, uncontrolled behaviour or the tales of hangovers the next morning, the more my curiosity started to fade. Of course, drinking doesn't have to lead to levels of extreme drunkenness but, time and time again, I was seeing the effects that too much alcohol was having on both males and females, and decided that it must not be worth it and that I never wanted to put myself in a position where I could get to the state of not being in total control of my actions.  Don't get me wrong, I have many friends who drink on occasion, who get tipsy or who get drunk and send me humorous drunk texts and have many stories the morning after the night before. However, my decision for not drinking alcohol shifted from not drinking for religious reasons and because it was the way of my parents to not drinking because I'd made a conscious decision to not do so.

Since moving to London, I've yet to find a way to socialize and meet new people that doesn't involve drinking of some sort. Sometimes it's tiring to be the only sober person in a group of new people and it seems that socializing is made easier when slightly merry. I don't know how I managed to get through university like this. The only explanation I can think of is that my love for dancing and eagerness to make friends at university overshadowed any awkwardness I felt when in a situation where I was the only one not drinking. Now, however, I can't help but notice how much alcohol is involved in almost all social occasions. I thought it was something typical of university culture only, but it seems I was wrong and that it's something typical of society in general, albeit in slightly different ways.

I get very mixed reactions when I meet new people and tell them that I don't drink. People either don't see it as a big deal or look at me like I'm a social outcast, ask me if I'm being serious and try and get me to taste something alcoholic. I've been thinking recently about just how ingrained the idea of drinking is in our culture. From having a glass of wine with a meal to drinking to get drunk, to relax, for the buzz, the feel good factor, for some dutch courage, to lose your inhibitions or just because everyone else is drinking too.  It's all so normal in our culture that someone who decides not to partake in the activity is immediately asked why. Most of the time it's out of pure curiosity - a question to keep the conversation flowing or genuine interest in finding out more about your life choices. Other times, it can feel accusatory - like there must be big reasons behind deciding to opt out of such a social activity. Few times, however, I've found that the question as to 'why' is less to do about me and more to do about the person asking - that when I give my reason I'm met with ten reasons as to why the person indulges in drinking 'well I think it's ok... I don't drink that much, just when I'm out... I drink to relax, you know?' It's almost as if, by me choosing not to drink it means I'm automatically judging those who do when, really, I don't care if you do or don't -  as long as it's your conscious choice to do so.

It's interesting to think how something like a drink is heavily involved in our society. Whether you drink or not, it's enough to divide opinions and create heated debates when really, it just comes down to personal choice, and that's absolutely fine.

What are your thoughts on someone not drinking alcohol?

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

The mess that is Brexit

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with politics but I’ve never been so angry, disappointed and ashamed at an election result in the UK before. The leave campaign was one riddled with  lies, empty promises, scaremongering and manipulative language about more money for the NHS or less immigration. I don’t think anyone expected the leave campaign to win and maybe that’s why they went all out – because they had nothing to lose from doing so. I certainly didn’t expect a campaign that used such tactics to the point of inciting racism and xenophobia to win at such a pivotal moment in history. To me, this is what the leave campaign represented; I saw no clear plan or manifesto for change and no fact based arguments. Simply a campaign that placed blame for the state of an entire nation in the hands of foreigners, rejected a joint union of other nations and called for isolation from the rest of Europe. While the remain campaign also had faults of its own, it seemed that the logical way to vote would be to remain in order to show that, actually, we are not a nation that can be manipulated by xenophobia or a nation that rejects a co-operative union. Except I was wrong. Now I’m not sure that I hold the same view of Britain and British politics as I did before. In fact, after seeing just some of the consequences of this vote, this country and what it represents has now changed for me.
Source: The Spectator

The morning after the night before

It astonishes me that Nigel Farage made such a bold claim about giving the NHS £350 million a week for him only to then call this promise a ‘mistake’ and swiftly attempt to move on. A ‘mistake’ that was repeated over and over again during the campaign, one that many leave voters heard and believed. Or about Daniel Hannan who rejected the notion that now we are out of the EU, migration and free movement of people would stop. Then what was the point in the whole campaign? To quickly backtrack on pivotal points of a campaign that people believed in requires only one skill – being able to take the concerns and fears of the majority of people and use that in order to boost your own political and personal gain.

Being out of the EU but still wanting to be part of Europe will cost us big time. Talks to now negotiate plans with the EU are laughable. To think that the UK is in a stronger position after leaving to then negotiate with the EU is delusional and there’s no doubt about that. Let’s be realistic - the UK will now be held as an example for the rest of Europe and the divorce will not be pretty. You can shout ‘Great Britain’ and ‘Rule Britannia’ all you want, but when we still require access to the single market, movement of skilled workers to fill jobs and boost our economy and imports of many goods from other EU countries, how can we go it alone?

Has Brexit legitimised racist and fascist behaviour?

Not all those who voted to leave are of the same opinion or share the vision of a racist and xenophobic Britain, nevertheless, the results from last week have somehow given more confidence to those who do. Carrying out and justifying racist behaviour has spread like wildfire, targeting EU migrants, ethnic minorities along with certain religious communities. The opportunity to share opinion and to exercise the right to freedom of speech is a privilege granted in this country. However, why should this type of behaviour be tolerated and why are some of the opinion that they are now justified in acting like this? There should be no place for racism or xenophobia in politics – in a system that will dictate lives and change the course of a nation.

Of course, it didn’t have to go down this route, not at all – a leave campaign could have been just as successful without using such petty tactics. Yet, immigration was used as leverage during the campaign. When these leaflets were printed or when Farage stood in front of this campaign poster he knew exactly what he was doing. He got away with it and that terrifies me.

Immigration, migration or the free movement of people doesn’t have to be scary, it doesn’t have to be seen as the unknown invading to steal something that doesn’t belong to them. We’re living in a world of ever increasing globalisation – no longer is it necessary to stay where you are, if you don’t want to. I’m not under the illusion that we don’t need immigration policies or borders, but when the choice is as black and white as either welcoming migrants or not at all, it all seems so nonsensical. The possibility to travel, work abroad and share stories on an international scale has now become such an exciting part of the human experience that it saddens me to see that some are so determined to shut themselves off from this. Being open to others has left me more educated, knowledgeable and with a greater understanding of the world around me and of who I am. Sharing my own culture and heritage with others while learning about their own has never caused any inner turmoil or angst and being inclusive, open and honest has carved the way for further growth and understanding. Sometimes I wanna hang out with the Nigerians, eat jollof rice and share stories about growing up in a Nigerian household, sometimes I want to spend a day drinking tea, eating scones and complaining about the weather, while some days I want to attempt to dance Salsa, swear in Italian or try baklava again for the twelfth time because maybe this time I’ll actually like it.

Whatever, move on, get over it

The great thing about democracy and having the right to exercise our vote is that everyone eligible will get the chance to voice an opinion and the right to exercise their right to vote. What I feel is undemocratic however, is when that vote is based on misinformation, lies and manipulation. I’m so angry at this so called 'post-factual democracy' where, sure, we got to vote, but what we based our votes on was nothing more than words strung together with no real meaning. Does a vote cast on the basis of a lie or very unrealistic promise still hold its value? This remains true for both sides of the referendum campaign and politics in general.

Make no mistake – I am in no way deluded, the majority of the people who voted chose to leave the EU. Whether it’s eligible that a simple 4% majority win can determine an outcome that leads us down the path of no return seems irrelevant as it is becoming increasingly clear that a second referendum may not be granted (despite the argument for a second referendum being very strong). Nevertheless, my Facebook feed is a mixed bag of remain supporter’s arguments against leave campaigners calling for the nation to ‘come together and look to the future’ or to ‘get over it and move on’. Ok, tell me, what’s the plan that your vote was based on for a post EU Britain?

Being able to ignore all this or think it’s time to get over it and move on must be great. Unfortunately with the looming possibility of living in a world where the likes of Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen or even Donald Trump are gaining more influence, that is not a privilege that I, along with many others, have been granted.

Update: I'm sharing more thoughts on Twitter regarding the latest news on the Boris fiasco.

What are your thoughts on the referendum? Will it be celebrated in years to come as a great day in British history or will it be marked as a day that caused great political, social and economic upheaval?

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

10 Flatmate commandments for happily ever after

The thing about moving out of your parents home after university and into a big city like London is that you will undoubtedly return to living in a house or flat share. While you thought that long gone are the days of sharing a kitchen and bathroom with people you don't know, a move to London will quickly prove you wrong about this. After a few housing 'mares from my own move down here last September, I thought it would be good to send out a gentle reminder about the etiquette of being a good flatmate. Here are my top flatmate commandments.

Thou shalt clean up after thyself and generally take care of the place
I think this is standard flatmate 101, right? Right?? No? Some people will need to be told this? I see...

Thou shalt not let dirty dishes pile up 
House shares at uni and house shares as a grown, full-time working adult are two completely different things. Back then it wasn't unusual to be met with week old dirty dishes and mess on the kitchen counter every time you ventured into the kitchen. But back then it was 'kinda annoying but whatever, I'll just ask them to clean up' whereas now it's 'Omg is this sh*t still happening, why??' I'll admit that this is, personally, now my biggest pet peeve, and never have I loved a cleaning rota so much as I have now (I know, I can hear my mum manically laughing all the way back in Nottingham).

Thou shalt not be controlling / weird / a dick 
Sending text messages to turn off the lights because it's nearly midnight? Seeing that your clothes in the drier are done while you're not home so deciding to help you out by laying out just your underwear on the kitchen table like some strange exhibition? Deciding to bring the party back home at 3am complete with copious amounts of alcohol and possible drugs? No. Just no. (thankfully, only the first scenario has happened to me while the last two are horror stories from friends).

Thou shalt not be opposed to getting a takeout and watching Made in Chelsea and/or First Dates on a Monday evening because Monday's suck.
Monday's are not fun, I think we can all agree on that. So let's join in on chilling out in front of the TV and trying out the new Thai place that just opened down the road. The only thing we'll have to decide on is whose turn it is to collect the order and pick up some snacks on the way...

Thou shalt respect each others property and privacy 
This includes milk, bread, eggs and general food unless otherwise stated. Prices are high and wages are low, but let's not result to petty left please.

Thou shalt be supportive and listen to thy housemate rant about work deadlines, colleagues and/or general life issues 
You don't even have to really listen. Just let out a 'really', 'seriously?' and maybe even an 'omg no way?!' every now and then and that's good enough for me. In all seriousness though, sometimes it's nice to talk about work or life to someone who isn't heavily involved or influenced in any way. It can help with getting a second opinion or just reassuring you that you are indeed, not crazy.

Thou shalt come back after a date and tell all - the good, the bad, and the oh so ugly.
Did he stare at your boobs the entire time? Was he a bit of an arrogant slime-ball? Or was he completely charming, able to hold interesting conversation and totally on your same wavelength? We want all the details.

Thou shalt not be a ghost but also thou shalt not be a shadow
It's all about having a good balance, you know? There's no requirement to be the best of friends, but the occasional meal together, movie marathon or night out won't hurt. However, sometimes you just gotta stay in your room and cry over the season finale of your favourite TV show, I totally understand.

Thou shalt take responsibility for thyself
I will definitely be the first to admit that being an adult is hard. Or harder than we first thought it would be back when we were sitting for our GCSE Math exams. But 'forgetting' to pay rent, turning the trash can into a real life game of Tetris or generally not taking on any contributions to the household is not the best way to start. It's ok though, we can get through this together.

Thou shalt be supportive of thy roommates promise to themselves to join the gym, a yoga class or a running club.
Even if you've made that same promise 32 times now. You know what they say - 33rd time's a charm.

One major thing that I've realised is that sometimes, being a great person/friend and being a great flatmate can be two very different things. It's not always the case that just because you get on with someone, you can necessarily have a stress free flat share situation. Or vice versa - maybe you and your flatmate are not the best of friends, but there still lies at least mutual respect and understanding on both sides - and what more could you ask for really?

What other housemate commandments would you add to the list?

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Four days in Lisbon

A couple of months ago I hopped on a plane to spend four days in the city of Lisbon for a friends birthday. After almost being stranded, we finally got the keys to the apartment we had rented, unpacked and prepped to explore the beautiful city. One thing I feel everyone planning to visit Lisbon should know is that navigating your way around it's cobbled streets and steep hills can be tiring, so stock up on water when leaving your apartment/hotel and take appropriate shoes (there was not a heel or wedged shoe in sight ladies!)

On our first day we explored the old town, finding cute little shops with handmade clothes and jewelry and stumbling upon back streets that led to picturesque views. One of my favourite places we discovered that day was in Alfama as we were walking up to Castelo de Sao Jorge. The view from up there was pretty incredible as you could see over rooftops, peering into gardens and getting a real feel for the very relaxed nature of the city. One thing I would definitely recommend also is taking a visit to Pasteis de Belem and choosing from the many options of cakes, pastries and of course, the famous Pastel de Nata (so good that my friend bought six for the flight back to England!)

After struggling with being in London and trying to keep up with the rat race, it was so refreshing to visit a capital city where you could bask in the sunlight, relax and remember how it felt to just... chill. The laid back nature of the city coupled with the incredible views and vibrant night life (think salsa bars and dancing with policemen) makes it a great place to visit if you're in need of a long weekend getaway.

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Monday, 6 June 2016

Celebrating Muhammad Ali

'Often it isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the little pebble in your shoe.' 
- Muhammad Ali

If you were to ever ask me 'if you could have dinner with anyone throughout the history of time, alive or dead, who would it be?' I would instantly answer with either Nelson Mandela or Muhammad Ali - think how awesome the conversation would be?! Growing up, I would often talk about Muhammad Ali with my siblings, myself and my sister watching on in amusement as my brother would imitate his moves and quote him as he jumped around the room, hitting an imaginary target 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, his hands can't hit what his eyes can't see!'

To learn about him was so much more than learning about his career. Apart from his skill, charm and entertaining interviews, we saw that he was one of few celebrities who had the confidence and the will to talk out against the America Government's foreign policy and challenge peoples perceptions about what it meant to be both black and Muslim in America. He never shied away from his beliefs, speaking openly about his faith and refusing to fight during the Vietnam war - a choice that could have ultimately cost him his career and freedom.  Above all, he made it ok to be proud of ones beliefs and background in a society that would often make you question yourself, even till this day. And with a legacy like that, he truly did live up to his title of 'The Greatest'.

So, for this weeks Monday Motivation I'd like to dedicate it to the legend that is Muhammad Ali and share this great piece from the New Yorker - The outsized life of Muhammad Ali.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Thoughts on turning 25 // Musings

I recently turned 25 and the thought of being mid-twenties excites and scares me at the same time.

All us twenty something year olds have come a long way from 16 and I've never felt more confident yet less confident about myself and the future than I have right now. It's a weird place to be. I feel confidence in certain things, such as my appearance, my sense of style, that I'm surrounding myself with the right people, that I can walk away from a person or situation that proves to be nothing but toxic. I feel (hope) that I've finally mastered the art of small talk and introducing myself to people at events and confident that I'm able to question things, the status quo and think for myself; among many other things. However, I still struggle with confidence in terms of my career, relationships and my own talents and abilities in general. I still second guess myself with relentless questions of what am I doing, am I doing this ok, am I right to think this or to question that at work? Am I steering my life in the right direction and will I ever be able to keep a plant alive for more than two weeks?

I've always been mindful of time and the fact that it's a rare commodity. While it's good to realise this, it often sent me in a state of panic - that I hadn't done much, or anything at all, of what I wanted to do, whatever that was. I felt that everything had to have been done yesterday and while people said 'you'll figure it out eventually' I often thought 'what if I figured it out now, wouldn't that be so much better??' I was reassured by my friends and good old buzzfeed articles that I wasn't alone in experiencing the dreaded quarter life crisis. But sometimes, strength in numbers doesn't offer much comfort - that magnifying glass on your life is a little too focused on what you should be doing that there isn't room to see what you have done.

The thing about time though, is that it will pass regardless of whether it's spent planning or panicking. Often panic can cause you to stop, not sure what direction to go in, afraid of making a decision out of fear of it being the wrong one. So for my 25th year I'll choose to plan and to actively chase life, instead of letting things just happen with no real input. I'll put myself out there more, start writing more, traveling more (or as much as my bank balance will allow), taking care of myself and those around me more and keep on learning. I'll also learn to let go more. Make no mistake though - I'm under no illusion that life will go as planned 100% of the time because, as much as I'd like to, I can't control what's going to happen. So when things don't go exactly as planned, I'll learn to roll with it, adjust my plans and see what happens.

Every decade is a struggle. I remember struggling through my school years, trying to build a sense of identity and understanding of the world around me. And then you move through it and come out the other end with a closed chapter and an eagerness to start the next. Mistakes are made time and time again but lessons are learnt to keep you pushing forward, and that's all we an hope for from every birthday we are blessed with.

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Thursday, 14 January 2016

Getting over cringeworthy moments // Musings

One of my favourite places in London at the moment is St Pancras International Station. I love that they have piano's placed there for people to play while waiting for their train and how the somewhat peaceful melodies from the piano players of London is nicely juxtaposed against the busy station and rush of travelers.  It's a place that I could easily sit and people watch for a couple of hours, which I've done one too many times while waiting for a train back home. And what I've learnt from watching people rush around, worried with their own lives, is that people are so consumed with themselves, that they're really not looking at you. How often do you try to get to sleep only to be met with your brain recalling about 11 times from your life where you embarrassed yourself to what felt like the point of no return. I remember giving a presentation at uni once and was so nervous to do so as I didn't have a clue what my topic was about. Despite spending the entire week researching it, I still couldn't get my head around it and couldn't change it to something I actually understood. So I walked up to the front of the class feeling like a complete fraud and the moment I started speaking my voice began to shake uncontrollably - something that's never happened to me before which made it even worse! When I think about it now, I cringe and laugh with absolute embarrassment. But really, who remembers that part of the day in so much detail apart from me? No body will go home after school or work and over analyse every single word you gave during the presentation because they'll go home and over analyse every single word they gave during the presentation. 

I always wonder if people spend as much time as I do overanalyzing every single detail of the day and I've come to the conclusion that they do, of course they do, just from their own perspective. You're the main protagonist of your story, so you're bound to over think situations at work, with family and friends or replay old conversations over and over again, insisting that you messed up. In reality though, who even remembers in such excruciating detail your most cringe-worthy moments, apart from you? As my homegirl Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as once saying, 'you wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.' So chill in the knowledge that people have their own schedules and views of the world that doesn't involve or have anything to do with you. I don't mean this in a 'nobody-cares-about-you' kind of way, but more of a 'nobody-is-really-watching-you-so-chill' kind of way.

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Monday, 11 January 2016

6 signs you're doing better than ok // Musings

So it's Monday morning. Again. And as you've wolfed down your breakfast in under 10 seconds flat and rushed out the door to catch the bus/tube/train the sinking 'oh no, not this again' feeling has found it's way back home to you. Some Monday's feel productive, they feel full of energy and inspiration, just waiting to be explored. While other Monday's (I'd say the majority, right?) feel like a return to the reality you tried so hard to forget about over the weekend. I'm not sure what it is about Monday's, but for me, it's a time were I have one of those 'omg-I'm-a-total-failure-at-my-own-life-and-everyone-is-doing-so-much-better-than-me-and-oh-God-why-did-I-text-him-last-night' kinda days. You know those days? Those are the days were it's absolutely paramount to remember that the negative voices in your head have absolutely no idea how incredibly awesome you are at handling life right now. How you've gotten through whatever life has thrown at you and how you will continue to do so. And if you need help remembering that, here are some simple signs that, actually, you're doing better than ok - you're doing great.    

You got the basics down
You don't even have to think about food or shelter. Maybe paying rent is a struggle and you have more month at the end of the money but it's all good - for the most part, you don't worry about the necessities, like clean water, education, leisure, healthcare and freedom of choice. As Paolo Nutini says 'I got a shelf full of books and most of my teeth, a few pairs of socks and door with a lock. I got food in my belly and a license for my telly and nothing's gonna bring me down.'

You got them clean sheets yo!
Serious question now - what is better, than doing all your laundry on a Sunday afternoon and getting in to bed on Sunday evening to freshly washed sheets? Nothing. Nothing is better than that my friend because it is pure bliss and you get the opportunity to experience this every Sunday.

You've changed, man.
You've improved a certain skill, you've learnt to let got of a certain past or you've just become more confident than you were last year. The beauty of life is that we're constantly learning, evolving and growing. It's such an achievement to say that you've tried something, regardless of whether or not it worked out, you've made a certain decision and stuck to it or learnt very important lessons.  

You have people who care about you
You have those people in your life. The people you can just chill with. You don't have to say much, just be. Those people who you know will take care of you when you're in a snowstorm of a situation - the friend who's like a mother or your actual mother who will constantly nag at you to tidy up after yourself but will cry with you while you try and mend your broken heart.
You have the people who will motivate you and banish your fears with their soothing words - the ones who believe in your ridiculous dreams even more than you do but will tell it to you straight when you ask for an honest opinion.

You can look back on a time in your life where you thought things wouldn't get better 
Remember that time you thought to yourself 'what on earth am I going to do?' 'How can I sort this out?' 'I can't do this at all'. Yet, you're still here, surviving, moving forward and learning the important lessons of life. I always like to remember when I was at uni, 2am in the morning and I'd have a mountain of work to do. I didn't think I'd get any of it done of course, every times, I'd tell myself 'I can't do this' and yet, I did do it, I did finish the assignment and I did hand it in. Simply because it had  to be done. And that's the same with life - you will get through it because, well, you have  to.

You've traveled 
You've decided to experience a culture different to your own. You've witnessed a world that operates in ways that you'd never seen before and come to realise that there is more to life than what you, yourself, experiences everyday.

What other signs show that you're doing better than ok?

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Thursday, 7 January 2016


Yes. I.  Moved. To. London! Let me just repeat that one more time... I have moved, my self, to London. I now get annoyed at slow walkers and seriously worried that there's a higher risk of developing asthma because of all the pollution... But how does it feel to be in the capital?? Expensive. Bloody expensive. And tiring - My move happened so fast and it's taken me longer than expected to sort everything out. Let's start from the very beginning, I guess that's a good place to start.

So I was previously working in a call centre in customer service for the first part of 2015, hating speaking to angry customers and day dreaming about holidays to foreign lands - you know, the usual. Then I started to get quite ill and my work place wasn't the most helpful which added strain to an already stressful situation. Long story short, it got to September and I spent some time in hospital. During my stay I got a call from work confirming what I had been fearing - that they would 'ask me to leave' my job role as I'd exceeded their sick day limit. Feeling like a failure I literally had no idea what to do. The day after that happened, however, I got an email from the HR department at an organisation I'd previously applied for a job at but completely forgot amidst the stress of work. I was confused, excited and worried all at the same time. Actually, I seem to walk through life in a perpetual state of confusion, excitement and worry so nothing new I suppose! Three weeks later I'd left hospital, attended the interview, got the job (!!) and moved down to London.

I was exhausted.
But, nevertheless, it was great.

Except that finding a place to live in London is like finding a needle in a haystack. Despite there being houses everywhere, there are still more people than places. And when you do find a place, there's the risk that you could end up living with the worst person. GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?? I was lucky enough to find a place before starting work. But unlucky enough that the place I found was probably the worst place I've ever lived. The actual flat was lovely, but the lady I was living with just was not. She lied/twisted the truth about a few (important) things and made me feel totally unwelcome. After one too many panic attacks, I knew that I had to leave. So I did after just one month. I left but didn't actually have any where planned to go - talk about a stupid decision but it seemed to work out for the better. I stayed with my cousin/family friend, the commute to work was about 2 hours and cost me a fortune but I felt instantly happier and safer. So I continued my hunt for a place to live through Sparerooms, going to 2 or 3 house viewings everyday after work and trying to convince complete strangers that I should live with them. I'm not sure what's worse - house viewings or job interviews?? Three months and an empty bank account later, I found a place and so far no crazy flat mates. Thank. The. Lord.

Things could have been better, but they could have also been much worse so I hold on to that to make me feel better about the past couple of months. Besides, 2016 is here, I'm in a job that I'm actually enjoying and learning from everyday, my health seems to be somewhat under control and I'm living in and exploring London as much as I can, that is, until the ridiculous prices forces me back to Nottingham.

When have you made a big move?

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