20 Lessons Learnt in my Teens vs my Twenties

Every time I look at a photo from a few years ago or reminisc about old stories with friends, I realise how much we’ve changed in just a few years. I’m sure in a few more years, I’ll be noticing much more prominent changes between our twenties and thirties. But, for now I’m just going to share some of the amusing thoughts I had not so long ago.

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Continue reading “20 Lessons Learnt in my Teens vs my Twenties”

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Conquering Fears! Or not…

I’m not great with heights. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of them because I believe that the particular amount of fear I have is entirely reasonable, though others may disagree. As someone who has a completely logical perception of height, which is how I will refer to myself from now on, I really should have done my research before signing up to zip lining…

Over the past few days I have put all my trust into three Lao guides, a harness and a wooden hook that they called ‘the brake’. It was just me and my boyfriend on the trip so we had the luxury of full attention from our guides, no mounting worry as we queued for our turn and a smaller crowd to cry in front of (much needed).

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Me with my ‘brake’ at the end of one of the shorter zip lines.

The first day started well, after a bouncy bus ride and a long trek through the jungle we were feeling too tired to care about falling or injuring ourselves. We were simply wrapped in harnesses, clipped on to wires and thrust from a ledge into the wilderness! We zipped over plummeting drops, cascading waterfalls and towering trees. For a moment I thought I might actually have a wildly unreasonable perception of heights because I was loving it!

Then came the difficulty… The nice thing about zip lines is that once you’ve made that initial jump you don’t really do much else. There’s no point you can stop or turn back, you’re just going. This isn’t true of canopy walks. Jeez Louise, the canopy walks! Unlike flying carefree through the air, we actually had to move our legs step by step over swinging metal wires and gaping drops. Despite being safely attached to a harness, my legs were shaking, my eyes were bulging and my, well, everything was sweating. It’s probably worth mentioning we were suspended about 50 metres in the air so it wouldn’t be a light fall. The decent was slow and ugly and I started to rethink signing up to two days at sky height.

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A Canopy Walk that I’d rather forget…

There was also an issue with my height. Some of the the zip lines were set about 6 feet off the platform, I’m 5”2 so a good leg up and a shove was needed to get attached. Now that sounds easy enough but when you’re on the edge of a 100 metre drop trying to catapult yourself on to a sloping metal wire, it doesn’t feel so simple. Unfortunately there was absolutely no sympathy for me as the Lao gentleman that we were being guided by were just as small as me and jumped on and off the wires very nimbly. I was definitely much less graceful. In fact, I head butted one of our guides at one point.

Finally, there was the rock climbing. This is a situation that I am not proud of… I could argue that the handles were simply too far apart for someone of my height but I’m not going to. Long story short, I ended up clinging to the side of a fairly small wall of rock, crying loudly and refusing to let two of our Lao guides help me. Just to tell my side of the story, this cliff face was looking over a 250 metre tall waterfall and a nice array of sharp rocks. Eventually, when they decided there was absolutely no way to coax me up the wall, I had to be lifted by a makeshift rope harness by three men to the top of the rocks. It wasn’t pretty but it did mean that I could close my eyes all the way up and block out the whole memory if needs be, which I think it does. In fact, I think it best not be mentioned from now on!

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The huge waterfall at the bottom of the zip lining experience.

In conclusion, I am officially definitely scared of heights and in my opinion, rightly so! I definitely did not conquer my fear on this occasion but I did do everything despite crippling fear (except the situation that won’t be mentioned). So, call me biased but I reckon being terrified and trying is much more impressive than conquering the fear! Though, I probably won’t be trying again…

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If you’re thinking of doing the Tree Top Experience in Laos yourself, my boyfriend and I will be reviewing it soon on our travelling blog here.

If you want the quick answer, do it!

Harry Potter Haitus

Long story short, I have just began reading Harry Potter!

Long story long, I grew up in a fairly religious family. ‘Fairly’ being two meetings, one bible study and one morning preaching per week. Not to mention no taking part in any Pagan celebrations which is basically all celebrations; birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, even pancake day!

I got a lot of undue sympathy for my missing out on these things (first world problems, eh?) but I was never really that fussed. You can’t miss what you never had, eh! Also, I was super rebellious so I had pancakes whenever I wanted, never-mind pancake day.

Though, to this day, one of the things that peole find most difficult to believe is that I wasn’t allowed to read any of the Harry Potter books (Pagans, witches and wizards, go figure). There was a lot of other things I wasn’t allowed to read or watch that were probably significantly more important but this was the one that really got people. ‘Deprived of childhood’ was the usual heavy duty term I was met with and the hardcore Potter fans were much more vocal about there opinions.

Only now do I realise that the last few years has been an alternate stages of acceptance of Harry Potter. I think deep down I knew that I had to read the books eventually but now I’ve finally got to the final stage.

STAGES OF POTTERLUTION

Age 8 – Ignorance
‘Who’s this Harry guy? I don’t care. I don’t want to read for fun, I just want to play heads down thumbs up.’

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Age 9 – Independence
‘Oh, you’re all talking about that again? No worries, I’ll just draw a super cool picture of a dragon or something.’

Age 10 – Confusion
‘Why is everyone still going on about this? What happened to Pokemon and skipping!?’

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Age 11 – Laziness
‘Another book? Well, I’ve got way too much to catch up on now, forget it.’

Age 12 – Isolation
‘Apparently something really big just happened, I wish I knew who this Voldemort guy was.’

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Age 13 – Competition
‘Hey guys, I just read this way better book, anyone want to borrow it? Anyone??’

Age 14 – Desperation
‘A boy invited me to the cinema to watch Harry Potter, someone quickly fill me in on everything that ever happened!!!’

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Age 15 – Acceptance
‘There’s way too much that’s happened, I’ve officially missed the boat.’

Age 16 – Defiance
‘The books sound crap anyway, I’m not even bothered!’

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Age 17 – Avoidance
‘I can feel a Harry Potter conversation brewing, I’ll leave now.’

Age 18 – Hopefulness
‘University! Surely people will be over it here… Oh no, I guess not.’

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Age 19 – Controversy
‘No, I’ve never read any of them. Pretty crazy, eh!?’

Age 20 – Embarrassment
‘No, I’ve never read them. No, I don’t know what a muggle is, or what Gryffindor is, or who Snape is. Yes I know, I really missed out.’

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Age 21 – Realisation
‘Ok, they’re mentioning the books in my writing class quite a bit… I should probably look into them.’

Age 22 – Acceptance
‘Oh. My. Goodness. I love it!!!’

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So, I finally gave into peer pressure (and my own curiosity) a couple of days ago. I had a little bit of help from my boyfriend who downloaded every book onto my tablet and made a shortcut to them. I’m over half way through the first book is which is high speed reading for me! I also finally know what a muggle is, I love Hagrid, I hate Snape and I’m learning about Quidditch. Obviously, I’m hooked, I just wish I didn’t have images of grown-up Daniel Radcliffe in my head for every chapter. Always read the books first I guess!

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An Ode to Coffee

Oh coffee,
You weren’t that great at first
You were really rather bitter
And didn’t quench my thirst

A drop of milk improved you
You were much less grim to drink
I accepted you had some charm
And even helped me think

Next you mixed with sugar
And became conside rally more tasty
I almost managed to glug ya
Without feeling so pasty

I ordered you expresso
Be it by accident or fate
I moved as fast as lightening
And was left with a headache

I thought it best we part
As things weren’t going well
But at my next café stop
I caught a whiff of your smell

I couldn’t deal with losing you
Our friendship’s grown, quite rightly
I felt an emptiness inside me
Fast digestion most likely

Coffee, my new buddy
What a pair we are
You bring out the best (and worst) in me
Without you I don’t get far

It’s time I admit to myself
I think of you every day
However, I can’t help but think
The feeling only goes one way

I’m NOT ill

Here I am in sunny Pai with a beautiful hut to stay in and a view of the mountains to wake up to.

And what have I been looking at? The inside of a toilet bowl. Eugh.

Until recently, I have always had the immune system of a wild alligator crossed with Bear Grylls.
Under cooked food? No biggie. Everyone in the office has got a cold? Not me! The plague is going round? I’ll survive.
I refused to take any pills or medication. In fact, going to the doctors was a distant memory (partly due to my trusty immune system and partly due to a dislike of germ infested waiting rooms). I liked to handle ailments the old fashioned way and let my body fix itself, with the exception of broken limbs, that is. My old-school approach meant that I hadn’t been ill for two years.
But suddenly everything has changed.

A month ago I got my jabs to go travelling and had a cold for over a week. So, I had a couple of lemsips. No big deal!
Then I had a couple of drinks on NYE and proceeded to vomit for 24 hours. That one required quite a few paracetemol.
This time, I’ve done absolutely nothing and I’m sick again! And I’ve progressed to having those huge dilutable pain killers.

These are the kind of events that were responsible for me stopping popping pills and going to the doctors in the first place. I would catch something, try to fix it with some type of potion or lotion and by the time I was healed I’d have another problem! I got chicken pox three times (which I was told was impossible), I gained an allergy to shampoo (only on my hands, weirdly enough) and I assumed every mark or spot was life-threatening. After a flurry of various medical issues (and becoming old enough to have to pay for prescriptions) I decided to go straight edge, medicinally speaking.

So, that is what I’m enforcing again. No pills, no painkillers, no medicine and no doctors! I may have a fever, I can’t eat anything and I’m spending an unusual amount of time hugging the loo but I refuse to believe I’m ill.
Mind over matter, I say!

Realisations of ‘Bye’

Tomorrow I’m flying to Bangkok as the first stop of a three month trip around South East Asia. I’ve spent the last two months alternating between planning and procrastinating but the last week has been spent saying ‘bye’. I said bye to my Dad at Leeds train station, I said au revoir to my Mum in London after dog sitting for her for a few days and I’ve said farewell to friends at various events designed to eat, drink and be merry! Here’s a few things I’ve learned from my last week of ‘goodbying’.

I’m just like my parents
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I thought I’d be cool saying ‘bye’ to all my friends. I hoped to leave an impression of general cavalier-ness and ‘chill’. However, when it comes down to it I find myself saying all those things my parents would say. ‘You take care now!’ ‘I’ll be thinking of you!’ ‘Wish you were coming!’

There’s a lot I don’t know about my friends
All the gossip comes out now that I’m leaving! We’ve asked each other all sorts of random questions ‘just because’ and there’s been so many unexpected, random answers. Here’s a tip: If you ever want to find out a secret, pretend your going travelling for three months!

I don’t see people enough
Only when it’s too late do you both think ‘oh, this is fun, we should do it more’! Then you have to be like ‘nah, let’s not see each other in an even longer time because I’m getting outta heeeere!’ (That’s my childish way of covering up how much I love my friends and how much I wish I saw them more.)

Emotion surprises you
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Let me explain. From what I can tell, saying bye effects you in one of two ways: you either think you’re a very emotional person and it turns out you’re not or you think you aren’t and you are. Here’s my proof. Me – very emotional, not a single tear shed at any ‘goodbye’s’. My boyfriend – not particularly emotional, tears everywhere. That’s an exaggeration but he definitely shed more tears than me and I will be reminding him about it A LOT. So, whatever you thought you were… you’re not.

I have WAY too much stuff
There is stuff everywhere!! It’s under the bed, behind the sofa, in the cupboard, on the cupboard, in the attic, in other peoples attics, crammed into boxes that it can never fit back in, etc. There’s just too much stuff.

But I don’t need that much
After hours of deciding what I will need and what I won’t I have finally managed to fit everything into one large rucksack. It may be jammed in there with the intricacies of a Chinese puzzle and probably will never fit in again after my first night away but t’s nice to see that I can live off so few things.

I love my home town
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Occasionally I moan about Leeds but going back there knowing it might be for the last time in a long time made me like every little thing. From the corn exchange where I used to buy numerous pairs of fingerless gloves to the well-loved Leeds United fans.

I’m last minute
I never thought I was last minute. In fact, I have repeatedly described myself as ‘organised’ to many people. Yet, trying to plan my life for the next three months has proven me wrong. I got travel insurance two days ago, scanned my important documents yesterday, finished packing today and I’ll be getting travel money tomorrow… Soooo, not that organised.

Poundland fixes everything
I’ve been saying this for years! No eye mask? Poundland. Need toiletries? Poundland. Want travel sweets? Poundland! Planning for my travels has proved Poundland is wonderful once again.

My favourite thing is notebooks
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I think I already knew this but my impending trip has confirmed it. When picking and choosing which belongings to leave behind, I found I had a bit more of an attachment to stationary than I thought. Never have I felt so much pain as choosing between the many untouched notebooks that I’ve bought over the years.

I know nothing about the world
I really have no idea what I’m getting myself into. This becomes more apparent every time someone asks me about my trip and I have NO IDEA. That’s alright though because this way I can be blissfully unaware of all the sticky situations I’m going to get into. Wish me luck!

2015 Nosolutions

I had hopes of my first post of 2015 being an inspirational, upbeat blog that would whip the masses into a frenzy of productivity! As it happens, I’ve slept through the majority of the year so far and have done very little other than watch Gotham, play Snake 2 (bring that back!) and ask for snacks to be brought to me in bed. I don’t have any crazy new year’s eve stories to share either so don’t get your hopes up. Instead, I got a virus just in time for the celebrations and vomited through the midnight countdown as well as the following 24 hours – yippee! As thrilling that was, it would feel like cheating to write about productivity and inspiration now. So, instead I’m going to write about the things that I’m not going to do in 2015. I’ve coined the term ‘Nosolutions’ which is ‘not resolutions’ if that wasn’t already really obvious, duh.

Anyway, here they are:

1. Don’t let technology beat me!
I have been foiled by televisions, iPads, Kindles and even little old MP3 players. 2015 is the year I overcome my technophobia. I don’t know how yet but it’s going to happen.

2. Wear no layers
It’s about time I paid tribute to my Northern roots. I’m always moaning about being cold and layering up in a billion(ish) jumpers which is an insult to many Lioners. So, I’m going to build up my immune system, kick off those layers and train myself to face the cold, hopefully all without getting hypothermia.

3. Don’t get lost
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I have a terrible, TERRIBLE sense of direction. I intend to find whatever solution there is to this problem, even if I have to resort to being a guinea pig to the first human tracking chip and being manually given directions via ear piece. (Don’t even say Google maps, we DO NOT get on.) Failing that I’d like to get the word ‘Directslexia’ recognised as a real condition.

4. Don’t finish my book
Yes, you read right, I will not finish writing my book. I’ve been saying I’m going to finish it for the last year now and it still isn’t done so I’m going to try the next logical step which is saying I’m not going to finish. I can only assume that’s where I’ve been going wrong all this time and that this is sure to work. Solid logic!

5. Stop saying no (as much)
‘No’ really is my favourite word. However, I’m going travelling in three days so it’s time for a change! I can’t guarantee I’ll bungee jump or taste the worlds hottest chilli but I might at least venture as far as holding a small snake or trying a very fishy curry…

6. Do NOT drink Tequila

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Nuff said.

I’d like to point out that I did realise half way through writing this post that the term ‘resolutions’ actually includes things you intend in not doing. However, I couldn’t bring myself to throw away a half-decent blog and some perfectly good clip art!

I’m coming clean…

I am very IRRITABLE!

We’ve all got our bad qualities and this is mine. Most people seem to have a way of making their bad qualities sound nicer than they are. For example, at interviews people will say ‘I’m a perfectionist’ rather than ‘I spend a lot of time faffing about with minor, pointless things.’ However, there’s no way of making ‘I’m extremely irritable and get annoyed at the littlest things’ sound nice.

So, when I speak candidly about my irritability people seem a little disappointed. They’re annoyed I haven’t sugar coated it and pretended even my pitfalls are perfect. Or, that I don’t have a really serious, empathetical downfall like ‘I involuntarily turn green and unnaturally muscly when I’m angry’ – true story. Instead, it just sounds like a bit of excuse to be really grumpy for no apparent reason (which sometimes it is). However, I believe I have discovered a more detailed explanation behind my flaw.

I have a very specific kind of irritability. I can put up with people being patronising, having my belongings broken or important dates being cancelled. I can even survive overhearing wittering teenagers on the bus, being winked at by leering old men or accidentally burning my food. However, I absolutely cannot stand… repetitive noises.

I know it sounds silly but I’ve found it absolutely incurable. It doesn’t matter what kind of sound; speaking, beeping, whistling, snoring… I can’t deal with it! However, my specific form of irritation hasn’t been recognised as a real problem yet so there’s generally very little sympathy for my snapping. I thought of promoting ‘repetitive sound irritation awareness day’, though I fear it would be fairly unpopular. Instead I’ve opted for sharing my sad story and hoping there’s someone out there that shares an equally pathetic Achilles heel (or something worse hopefully).

Maybe if I turned green and muscly people would understand me!

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When did I turn into an adult?

A few years ago I didn’t understand anything about being ‘grown up’. I believed I could fix absolute anything myself and there was no written contract I couldn’t get out of. I thought all foods could be microwaved and sell by dates didn’t matter (actually, I still believe that).

However, once I moved out of home into the big bad world I found myself repeatedly proved wrong. There was more than one disaster including rat infestation, blocked plumbing, fire alarms and very dodgy estate agents (I think I have an actual estate-agent-phobia now).

Somehow I seem have spontaneously turned into an adult though. Worse, recently I seem to have developed the mannerisms of someone twice my age. Here are a few examples.

1. I actually read clothes washing labels
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Clothes still fit me a month after buying them now. They also aren’t all dyed a funny pale pink colour.

2. I realise not all screws are the same
In fact, there is a vast variety of screws and you have to be a bit of an expert to get the right one.

3. I can put together a flat packed furniture
In fact, I have pieced together a desk chair so many times that I can do it with out instructions (not sure if that’s something to be proud of or not). Furthermore, I can do this in 8 minutes – yes, I timed myself.

4. I must put everything in my diary
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In fact, if I don’t put things in my diary then they don’t exist. I will forget anything and everything that hasn’t been written down. This includes doctors appointments, haircuts, days off, my own birthday, etc.

5. I have made a cleaning rota
I even enforced the cleaning rota. Despite being a teenager who had never even learned to make her own bed, things have turned around!

6. I know which phone numbers you have to pay to call
I think this mainly comes from paying your own phone bill. There really isn’t too much finesse or knowledge needed to discover this.

7. I watch really boring ‘how to’ videos
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I watched a youtube video on how to clean walls the other day. Then I reenacted it perfectly and now have spotless walls (which no one is allowed to touch).

8. I make textiles talk
My dad used to pick things up that I’d left out around the house and then he’d pretend they were speaking. They would say things like: ‘Mr. T-Shirt wishes someone would take him home to the draw’. If you haven’t done this, I urge you not to start because once you start you just can’t stop!

9. I’ve become very, very nosy
In fact, I can’t sit near a mirror in a cafe now because I will unashamedly watch absolutely everyone behind me and everything they’re doing.

10. I make complaints
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I hold grudges like I’ve never held before. Written complaints, twitter complaints, phone complaints, text complaints, I’ve done them all!

11. I can pay bills
I still can’t get my head around the fact that I’m a bill paying adult – mind blown.