Everything I’ve learnt at 25

So today is my birthday and I officially feel really old! There are certain things about life that just feel very different now. I don’t think in the same way I used to, I don’t act the same way and I don’t want the same things. There is actually so much I’ve learnt, even over this past year and as 25 is a milestone (quarter of a century and all that), as well as a really strange birthday to have at the moment (during a global pandemic), I wanted to reflect on some of these things with you.

The first thing I’ve learnt is about myself. I feel like I’ve been learning so much about myself over the past couple of years and my character has really evolved. There are things I would do years ago that I couldn’t even dream of getting involved in now. The biggest one for me is confrontation and drama. There was a time when I would pride myself in being the type of person who would always say what was on their mind. That type of what you see is what you get person. But what I’ve learnt recently is that not everybody needs to see you. I’m very comfortable with who I am and I have nothing to prove to anybody. Having this mindset has led me to learn that there are a lot of things which are better left unsaid.

Things like gossip. I think there are plenty of us who love a gossip, but I’ve finally excluded myself from this group. In fact, there is nothing I hate more than gossip. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to spread it and I don’t want to be involved in it.

When it comes to drama, I try my best to avoid it all costs. But I’ve also learnt that it’s impossible for me to be on damage control the whole time. I can’t ensure that every little inch of my life will fall perfectly into place. Sometimes, things will erupt. It’s just life. There is no calm without chaos. And a lot of the time, there are very valuable lessons to be learnt through chaos. You learn about yourself, you learn about the people around you and I think you learn how to avoid being in the same situations again.

I’ve also learnt a lot about money! The shopaholic in me finds it extremely hard to say no to materialistic purchases. Just a few hours ago I was in Harrods, talking to a sales assistant at YSL about whether I should buy a bag for £1600. My new life motto when it comes to big purchases (or any purchases really), is only buy it if you can buy it twice. In this situation, I applied the rule and I could definitely have checked out and been good. I wouldn’t have had to use any credit to buy the bag but I would have been -£1600 in savings and at least a few months back from being able to buy a house.

At this age, I value my long term goals a lot more than I value my immediate ones. My immediate goal with that bag would be to take it on an evening out, take it out for lunch, take it out shopping (and I know I am talking about the bag like it’s a person but I just love bags, okay?!); but to do all of those things, I would be spending even more money. So really, buying the bag would be costing me more money long term and drawing me further and further away from my long term goals. There will be a time for me to buy a YSL bag without having to think about these things and when the time comes, it will be so much more worth it.

The last thing I’ve learnt is about emotion. I have the tendency to react on emotion and in the past year or so, it’s meant that I’ve made decisions which have diverted me from some of my most important goals. I’m the kind of person who needs to detach from a situation, think about it on my own and work out a plan. I live for plans. There has to be a plan for everything to keep me sane. And maybe to some people that’s unhealthy and maybe by the time I’m 30 I’ll realise that I ditched all of my plans anyway. But for now, the best thing I can do when I’m feeling emotional about anything, is to take a step back, take a deep breath and take as much time as I need to come up with a plan.

Valuing my sanity and my time is something I put above almost anything else in my life. If you know me, you’ll know that my favourite saying is “I don’t have time for…”. Well, this has served me very well. I don’t have copious amounts of time to feel things that will prevent me from moving forward with my life. Whether that’s resentment, heartbreak, embarrassment, fear. I will do whatever I can to keep moving forward in life and this is what keeps me sane. This is what keeps me valuing my time. Most of all, this is what has kept me focused and happy.

I’m beginning to learn that happiness is a choice. I choose to let things go and I choose not to harbour negative emotions because it makes my happier immediately and it makes me happier long term. This is a tough one to learn and it’s taken me a while, but it’s been very worth it. Always forgive. Holding onto grudges is one thing that I can promise will only ever eat you up inside.

So here’s to 25 – I can’t wait to see what else I achieve in the next quarter of the century!

Dismantling myths against “Black Lives Matter”

How to Best Adhere to Social Distancing While Attending BLM ...

Over the past week, I have seen so many people taking to social media to raise awareness for BLM. But with that, comes disagreement and ignorance. If you’ve only just started learning about the everyday horrors of racial injustice, then you might be reading comments online that confuse you. Well, this post is here to dismantle that confusion. I’m going to be taking popular arguments against BLM and dismantling them for you – so that you can fully understand what all of this really means.

“All Lives Matter is racist against white people.”

This is perhaps the most popular one I’ve seen. I firstly want to point out that the protestors of all lives matter only seem to care about “all lives” when they are faced with the option of protecting a disadvantaged group. Supporting an oppressed group is somehow so horrifying to them, that they have to counteract it instead. The fact is that all lives do not matter because black lives do not matter. And that is specifically why we are campaigning for them to. It’s not racist to speak out in support of the oppressed. It’s racist not to.

“The police have killed white people too.”

Indeed they have. Statistically, US police have actually killed more white people than they have killed black people. But the numbers are disproportionate. Based on the overall population and the percentage of black people that make up that population (13%), more black lives are lost to police violence than white lives. You have to actually care about the movement to research and understand these facts, which many people cannot be bothered to do. It takes time to look into individual cases and statistics but it’s important to do so. Have a look at the below, from Washington Post and Statista.

Infographic: U.S. Police Shootings: Blacks Disproportionately Affected | Statista

It’s also really important to understand that we’re not fighting just because they have killed us. The fact that we lose black lives to the police is just the fatal final step of racially motivated police injustice. There is unjust brutality that comes beforehand. So we’re fighting against an amalgamation of factors that have led to black fatalities. We’re fighting because they racially profile and arrest us either for trivial offences or crimes they “thought” we were committing. And when they do arrest us for these crimes, they subdue our right to live until they kill us. They fire several “warning” shots, they chase us and pin us to the ground like animals, they physically beat us. They use unjust force that is breaking the law, they group up on us and have other officers protect them while THEY commit crimes against us. All after arresting us for crimes that they will later admit we did not commit!

So to the all lives matter protestors, tell me, do you really believe that this is happening to all lives?

“Nobody is talking about what these black people were doing in the first place.”

If you had really looked into what many of the black people who have been killed by the police were arrested for, then you would see that the violence is unjust. Using a counterfeit $20 bill should not equal an on-site death sentence. Selling cigarettes without tax stamps, brandishing a toy gun, going for a run in your neighbourhood, visiting a family member, hanging out with your friends on the street. The list goes on and on. You’ll find that in many cases, “these black people” were doing absolutely nothing wrong. As I said earlier, they were racially profiled.

And no, I’m not saying that black people are not criminals. We commit crimes the same as any other race. But the point is, that when we commit the same crime as a white person, we are handled differently. Physically handled differently – because we immediately become victims of police brutality, whilst white people are cuffed humanely within the scope of their human rights. And mentally handled differently – as in the case of the Central Park Five, who were manipulated by police officers into giving testimonies that incriminated them for a crime they did not commit. We need black lives to matter as much as white lives do.

“When a white person is killed, nothing happens.”

The simple answer to this is that when a white person is killed by the police, it’s not based on the colour of their skin.

I also feel that if as a white person, you felt there was a problem with police brutality within your community, then why didn’t you address it? Black people have been addressing this injustice for years, across many sectors where racism is prevalent. Don’t attack us for supporting our own people and fighting for our rights when you have always been at perfect liberty to do the same.

The reason you haven’t had to do this is because you’ve always had rights. We don’t have as much reach or as much influence as you do. We live in a world that has been carefully curated to benefit you, so when we need help, it has to start from our own community. We literally had to create this movement, raise awareness and we are actively making things happen to try and create change.

There hasn’t been a movement against white injustice at the hands of the police because it simply does not exist.

It’s important to understand that we’re not saying Only Black Lives Matter. We have never said that. Arguing that all lives matter is the same as saying “I don’t see colour”. You need to recognise how people’s experiences differ based on their race. If you truly care about all lives, then you simply cannot refuse to acknowledge that not all lives are the same. Black lives are in danger. There is no racial bias within this movement because the very point of it is to fight against that.

Let’s talk about US Police Officers Killing Black People

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Over the past few days, people have been sharing and re-posting anything and everything to do with George Floyd. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and pretty much every other social media app, George Floyd’s name has reverberated. It’s amazing to see so many people, of all different races, coming together to talk about this. But sadly, George Floyd is not the first black man to be unjustly killed by a US police officer. Heartbreakingly, we know that he will not be the last either.

Racism in America operates on a colossal scale. And I want to talk about racism in America because, right now, America is one of the least safe places in the world for a black person to be. This does not mean that any other country is exempt. Or that, for example, there are no racist police officers in the UK. There are. But this post is going to be about racism in the US and racism as a whole. I’ve never shied away from talking about race on this blog and it’s important to me that I say my piece on this.

So here are some statistics. Black people make up 13% of the US population – just 13%. Yet, they are two and a half times more likely to be killed by the police. California, Texas and Florida have the highest number of killings of black people. In Minnesota, where George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer who knelt on his neck, while another police officer stood watch, until he stopped breathing, black people make up only 5% of the overall state population. Yet, they are nearly four times more likely to be killed by the police.

Racist police brutality is not a 2020 wave, let’s get this straight. This hasn’t just started happening now, it’s been happening for years. In 2012, Treyvon Martin was reported as a ‘suspicious person’ for going to visit his father in Sanford. A white neighbourhood watch officer then shot him. Treyvon was unarmed. He was not suspicious. He was not a threat. He was 17 years old, a black boy and a victim of institutional racism.

Tamir Rice was 12 years old and killed in 2014 by a white police officer for playing with a toy gun.

Eric Garner was choked to death by a police officer the same year, after being arrested for selling cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. He wasn’t, by the way.

Mike Brown was hit by six shots from a white police officer in Missouri, who fired twelve bullets at him as he ran away. He was 18 years old.

Freddie Grey was arrested for being in possession of an illegal switchblade in Baltimore. The blade was not illegal and he fell into a coma in the back of a police van 45 minutes after being arrested.

There are so many more names of black men killed by US police officers that I could mention. But then this post would run on for days and days. For anyone who wants to know more about black men specifically who have been killed by US police officers, then I’ve found this article. It compiles a whole list of them – see for yourself.

99% of police killings from 2014 to 2019 did not result in charges, or consequently convictions, of a crime.

Based on the above, I find it impossible to deny that America is facing a racism crisis. And it’s doing so with very little consequences. It takes mass outrage, protests and retaliation for these police officers to come under investigation. Even then, you’ll find that the correct language is not being used. Reports in the media will tell you that these men died, not that they were murdered. Charges are never severe enough. There are always justifications, which I really do fail to comprehend. Unarmed, unthreatening, innocent black people are being killed in America simply because police officers have the power and the status to do so. We need to change this.

Up until this point I’ve been talking about black men. Black men in America are perceived as violent and dangerous simply for being black. They are the most racially profiled members of the black community. But please do not think that police brutality begins and ends with them. Black women such as Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police officers in her own home, are victims of institutional racism too.

I don’t think that we have ever expected police officers to protect us. After all, they have a long history of doing the exact opposite. But in this day and age, we have the knowledge and the influence to at least fight for consequences. It’s very difficult to imagine a time when racism will not pervade our identity as black people and the generations of black people that are to come. So, I feel that the least we can do is fight for equal consequences. So that when a black life is lost, accountability does not lessen simply because it was a black life instead of a white one.

What is happening in America right now is opening the door even wider for overt racism. This is why we have cases like Ahmad Arbery’s, who was shot by two white men while he was out jogging. Racists don’t feel like they will face consequences for their actions because even the police officers don’t!

Then there are people like Amy Cooper, who called the police in New York on a black man because he told her to put her dog on a leash. She threatens that she’s going to call the police is “going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

I’ve even seen a video of a white woman being pulled over on the highway and being told by the police officer not to worry because she’s white. “We only kill black people,” he jokes.

You can find footage like this almost everywhere now. You can find even worse footage, of black people actually being killed, too. The fact that there is video footage of black people being killed by police officers is strangely eye opening for some people. It doesn’t sit well with me. Do you see the same footage of white people being killed? And, at this point, do you really need to see video evidence of somebody being killed to believe that it happened unlawfully? Mutilated black bodies have become a spectacle and I am not okay with that. So the next time you see a video circulating on Twitter or Instagram, please think twice before sharing it. Your words can be powerful too, you should use them.

Racism is a very complex structure of barriers that has been set up to guarantee and maintain the success of white people. It means that there are socio-economic systems that have been set up to make the success of a person of colour harder. As a white person, there are things you will never have to worry about. I’ll give you some examples of things that I face all the time as a black girl, that you don’t.

You never have to worry about seeing people that look like you represented in your dream career. Chances are, the leading figure in your field is white and your dreams seem more achievable because of this.

You’ve never had to explain your achievements to anyone because its not puzzling for you to be smart or well-spoken.

You’ve never had to dilute your appearance to make yourself seem more appealing – for example, at a job interview or at school. It’s well known that black girls’ natural hair has been regulated in the workplace and in schools. You’ve never experienced this.

You’ve never received a backhanded compliment about your race. “You’re so pretty for a black girl.” “You’re light skin so its okay.” “When I was tanned, I was pretty much your colour.”

Your natural features have never been seen as ugly on you but beautiful on someone else that looks completely different to you. We all know about the Marc Jacobs show that used dreadlocks on white models. It’s fashionable on you but as a natural hairstyle on us, it’s messy and unkempt. Or what about lip fillers? Having naturally full lips is unattractive on a black girl but sexualised and appealing on a white girl.

You’ve never gone to a cosmetics store and struggled to find something in your shade. Or been disappointed to find that a big beauty brand has a line of products that they haven’t even made in your shade, even though you and other people that look like you, are a big part of their consumer demographic.

You’ve never walked into a store and realised that the security guard is following you because the colour of your skin makes him think that you’re going to steal something.

Imagine having all of these experiences in your mind everywhere you go. These are things you never forget because they characterise your identity. People always want to celebrate black culture without understanding what the implications of being black are, on your everyday experience of life.

These things don’t leave you. I don’t have the privilege of just ignoring what’s happening in America today. I can’t fathom really, how anyone as a human being could disassociate themselves from the fact that innocent lives are being taken based on race. I really can’t. But that’s white privilege – feeling entitled to dip in and out of a culture as and when it suits you. Being able to say you don’t see colour when it suits you. Being able to say and feel like a racial fight is not your fight, simply because its not your people that are being killed. And exercising silence over situations like these because of that.

To me, that’s the same as saying black lives don’t matter.

So, if you are the kind of person that thinks a person’s life should not be valued by the colour of their skin, then you will have something to say about this. Hopefully, you won’t just take my word for it, but you’ll do your own research, you’ll form your own opinion and you’ll help to fight against racism. Whether that’s going to protests, donating to charities in America that are fighting for black lives, not being afraid to call someone out on their racism, or whatever else you want to do to help.

There are so many things you can do. Lead a life that is anti-racist, not silent – this is perhaps the most important one. But you really can’t sit back and expect an oppressed group of people to fight against their own oppression.

Hair Growth Tips

I thought I would write this post because in the past couple of years, I’ve been treating my hair really differently and I’ve been able to really maximise my hair growth because of it. Although I actually prefer my hair shorter, I know that a lot of black girls struggle with getting their hair to grow. I therefore wanted to write this post to share my experience with you.

On the flip side, I also know that there are so many of us who are wearing our hair natural now – which I love. This means that there are thousands of black girls out there showcasing their gorgeous thick, bouncy, shiny, beautiful, head of long, healthy curls. So, I’m not trying to pioneer myself as having the best hair out there because I definitely see girls with hair that is a lot thicker and longer than mine and trust me, I do envy them! But this is what my hair looks like at the moment and I want to share how I got it to this stage.

The History

So, just under a year ago now, in August 2019, I cut my hair short and levelled it all off. That’s the picture you see on the left. I was tired of my hair growing at different lengths, so I levelled it all off at the healthiest part and cut it into this straight across style. Before that, the longest part of my hair was probably a couple of inches longer and the shorter parts were around the length that I cut it to.

My hair naturally grows in a V shape – annoyingly, it doesn’t all grow at the same rate. So if I want my hair to be all one length, which I do, then I have to cut it all to one length myself. But even as it grows, as you can see from my before and after pictures, it still doesn’t really grow to one length! This is because when I was in my second year of university, I got a little scissor happy trimming my hair and I cut the front parts really short. They were probably up to my chin. Since then, the front parts of my hair have never really recovered. They always grow a lot slower than the bottom parts. Which is why you’ll see me wearing my hair half up half down pretty much all the time if I don’t have it tied back or up in a bun. However, less than a year after cutting my hair up to my collarbone, you can see how many inches it has grown. It’s a lot longer and the most important thing is that it’s healthy.

People have always complimented me on the length and thickness of my hair throughout my life. But what they probably didn’t realise is that it wasn’t healthy at all. I used to straighten my hair almost everyday and I remember that my ex-boyfriend once told me that every strand of hair on my head was a split end. I mean, not the nicest of things to tell your girlfriend but in all fairness, he was actually correct. I had an unbelievable amount of split ends. But what could I do? I thought that I had to wear my straight. And so, every week I would spend about 3 hours straightening it all out and touching it up with straighteners throughout the week too. Trust me, there is no amount of heat defence spray that can prevent the damage that straighteners will do to your hair. Unfortunately, straighteners will damage your hair – that’s just the harsh reality.

I realised this about 2 years ago now. Every time I washed my hair and saw the curls, I had this urge to leave it natural. But I was lost. I honestly didn’t know where to begin with styling or treating my natural hair. And so, every time I washed it, I would fall back into that cycle of straightening it. I was even more anxious about wearing my hair natural in front of my boyfriend at the time. Having my hair straight and having my hair natural are two very different styles. He was used to seeing me with my hair straight and even though he told me that there was no issue, it was something that I had to overcome myself. Because, if I didn’t really like seeing my hair natural, then why would I show it to anybody else?

My university housemates can attest to the fact that whenever I washed my hair, I would lock myself in my room for 3 hours while I blow dried and straightened it. This meant that nobody ever saw what my hair looked like natural. Crazy, right? I was so embarrassed and I hated my natural hair so much that I didn’t want anybody to see it. Which in retrospect is crazy!

My point here is that, if you haven’t gone natural yet, then I understand you. I know how difficult it is. My sister, for example, has the most beautiful head of curly hair and has been natural for way longer than me, yet she still won’t wear her natural hair out. We’re all on our own journeys. But the sooner you embrace your natural hair, the better you will feel overall, I promise.

For the purpose of showing the length difference in my hair, I have uploaded pictures with it straight. When my hair is curly, it shrinks up a lot (as you can see in my previous post here), so it makes it difficult for you to see how much its grown. I would say I wear my hair straight once every few months now, simply because I don’t love it straight anymore. I just find it boring and it doesn’t really feel like me. It also takes so long to straighten and I can feel how hot my hair gets after using the straighteners – a feeling that I really don’t like. The only reason I straighten my hair now is either if I want it straight for a particular event or because I’m trimming it. I haven’t yet learnt how to properly trim my hair when it’s curly, so I prefer to straighten it all out and level it off that way instead.

The Tips

So now that you have my sort of hair history, let’s talk about what I actually do with my hair to keep it as healthy as possible. Since cutting my hair short back in August, I’ve been keeping to some rules to maximise hair health and growth.

The first, is to wash your hair as much as it needs it. When we wear our hair straight, we are so used to trying to maximise the length of time that we can do this for. So, usually we will try not to wash our hair for as long as possible. Back in university days, I used to wash my hair once every two weeks. I know, I’m honestly disgusted thinking about it now. It was full of excess oils and dirt and I would keep straightening on top of that to try and stretch the period of time my hair was straight for. Now, I wash my hair every 3 days maximum. This is what my hair needs. After 3 days, it needs to have the product washed out of it and it needs to be re-conditioned. I use an extra moisture shampoo – either from Shea Moisture, OGX or Pantene. This is what works for me. You will have to figure out how long your hair can go without being washed and find a routine for yourself around that. I have been known to wash my hair everyday, but only on holiday. Washing your hair everyday is actually quite bad and should be avoided as much as possible.

Co-washes are also a great option. Often my hair isn’t dirty, it just needs to be conditioned. So, if I feel like it needs a freshen up, but I also feel that it’s quite close to when I just washed it, I’ll do a conditioner only wash. This is a really good way of replenishing the moisture and curls in your hair without stripping it of its natural oils too often. Just make sure that the next time you shampoo your hair, you shampoo it properly to remove any excess product build-up.

Another thing that I do, is deep condition my hair. I can’t lie, this is not one of my favourite things to do. It makes my wash time take forever! I’ve only recently managed to cut my wash times down drastically. I can wash my hair in 20 minutes and leave for work and be there on time (sort of) now! Whereas before, if somebody told me I’d have to wash my hair before going to work, I’d say that was impossible and that they’re crazy. This is another thing I love about natural hair – it’s so versatile! If you need to wash it and be out of the door, then you can absolutely do so without worrying about having to spend 3 hours blow drying and straightening it before you do. It’s such a freeing feeling. Anyway, the deep conditioner that I use is from Cantu – I’ve linked it here. I’ll part my hair into sections and brush the conditioner through. Then, I either plait it into one plait on each side or twist it up into a bun, put a plastic cap on and leave it there for 30 minutes or more before rinsing out. My hair loves me for it afterwards.

I have a couple of favourite detangles and leave-in conditioners that I use to style my hair throughout the week. These also help massively to keep my hair moisturised instead of dry. Immediately after washing my hair, I use the Cantu curl activator. This one is great for moisturising and curl definition. It has a thick consistency. If you want something a little looser, then I would try this ORS leave-in conditioner. Both products smell amazing and have shea butter in them. I love using shea butter on my hair, it just works so well to keep it moisturised and to keep my curls nice and defined. I also use the Pantene detangling milk – which I think does exactly what it says on the bottle and completely detangles my hair in seconds.

The next tip I can give you, which I always say, is to trim your hair regularly. Please! I trim my hair every 6 weeks and I do it myself. Yes, I have run into a fair few disasters doing this, but I’ve also seen my hair grow and thicken out from doing this. All you need to cut is a quarter of an inch minimum every time you trim it to get rid of those dead and damaged ends. It’s so important and is one of the biggest tips that I can give you.

Following on from your trim, you now need to maintain your healthy hair. Figure out what conditions your hair breaks under and try to prevent them. For example, I know that my hair can get very brittle in warm weather. The sun really dries out my hair so it’s better that I wear it up in buns with my ends tucked away as much as possible during the Summer. I also need to make sure that I’m moisturising my ends. So applying oils to the ends of my hair is a really important step in my hair routine. I like to use olive or jojoba oil. ORS do a good olive oil and Patene have a nice hydrating oil that I use daily – particularly when wearing my hair straight.

Protective styling is key for maximising growth. It’s not really my favourite thing to do but it does work. My favourite protective style is wearing my hair in twists and pulling the twists back into a bun with a scrunchie and some gold clips. Other good protective styles are braids – just one on either side. Or a really simply ballerina bun with all of my ends tucked away. I’m all about the simple styles that take 10 minutes max. Believe it or not, styling my hair is not something I enjoy so I like it to be done as quickly as possible!

Finally, the way that you manipulate your hair is really important. As I said earlier, heat is bad for your hair. For those of you that don’t like to hear that, I’m not sorry to tell you this. Every time I straighten my hair I know that I’m doing something bad to it. It’s unrealistic for me to say that I will never straighten my hair, as I will. Sometimes I just want to wear it straight and other times I want to trim it. But it’s the same as trying to keep a healthy diet. You don’t have to cut out chocolate completely, for example, you just have to limit yourself. And I now limit wearing my hair straight to once every few months.

Manipulation to me isn’t just about heat, however. Things like not brushing your hair too often and being gentle when you do is important. I only brush my hair when I deep condition it. Otherwise, my hair does not really see a brush. I finger detangle conditioner through my hair when I wash it. When I style it, all I use is a spray bottle and my fingers to rake the product through. Having said that, you still need to be gentle when you’re manipulating your hair. Don’t force and tug your fingers or a brush through. Start detangling the ends until your fingers or your brush can glide easily through the hair strands. I’ve really noticed how much less hair I find at the end of wash days because of this.

Happy New Decade!

I can’t believe we are in a new decade! How crazy is that? I can’t find a straight answer on whether a decade is 10 or 12 years (I’ve always known it to be 12), but if I think back to all those years ago, then I was still in secondary school. I was 14 years old. I really never could have imagined that I’d be where I am now. My life was set to take a completely different path and it’s changed so much. But change has been incredibly good for me and I can say honestly, that I am very happy with where I am now and with where I’m heading.

2019 was a fast-paced year for me but I definitely got a lot out of it. At the beginning of the year, a little switch flicked in my head and I realised that I wanted to look into pursuing interior design seriously. Almost a year later, I really managed to shift careers and manifest what was just an idea into something very tangible. In January 2019, the most designing I had done was on The Sims and I was working for an estate agent. Since then, I’ve worked for an interior design firm and assisted with the design of two bathrooms, as well as helped with the sourcing for various different projects. I’ve been on site visits where I’ve seen my designs manifested – which was honestly so gratifying and surreal! I paid a lot of money to study at KLC School of Design and learnt how to use drawing programs that are going to be key to my career. I started an Instagram page (@tanyasinteriors) purely based on design to help me figure out my style as a designer. I’ve spent so much time drawing that I have actually managed to create a portfolio of all of my work so far.

Anyone who knows me knows how important my career is to me. There is nothing I want more than a successful career and I’m willing to do what it takes to make that happen. This year, I manifested lots of little components of this big dream (which is more than just being an interior designer) into real successes. Today, as I worked on my portfolio, I realised that every move I’ve made since having that little spark of realisation in January last year, has been absolutely worth it. I’ve learned so much, I’ve met so many new people and I’ve come to know even more of myself. I faced a few setbacks where I thought the dream was dead, but I’m so proud of myself for picking myself up and making sure I kept going. Now I can look back on 2019 happier than ever. It was a very successful year for me in terms of my career.

I’ve become a lot more confident in my abilities and in myself this year. I know who I am and exactly what I want out of lots of different aspects of life – friendships, money, housing, family, fitness, leisure. I want to make sure that the energy I keep around me is only positive and I think that I have been really good at that this year. I haven’t given negative people the leeway to stay in my life long enough to have any real effect on it and I’m proud of that.

This year, I’m looking forward to even more success and happiness. Although happiness is not as easy as saying this year, I would like to be happy, I would like to commit to taking more time to do the things that will maintain my happiness overall.

On the whole, I’ve had an incredible year. I wish everybody all the best for their New Year, all of the blessings, success and happiness. I hope that you are able to leave any negativity behind and move forward focusing on you and all of the things that will make you happy.

My thoughts on the UK election result…

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

This Thursday 12th December we held a general election in the UK. I was at the polling station at 7am on the dot. In fact, I was the first person to vote at my polling station – that’s how bloody eager I was. Now, I hope that those people reading this post who were able to vote in this election, did. Nothing frustrates me more (apart from the Tory win at this election, but we will come to that…) than people who don’t vote when they are eligible to do so!

I made sure to read the manifestos of the parties thoroughly – apart from the Lib Dems, whose manifesto lacked so much clarity that I personally didn’t see the point in continuing. In my opinion, the Conservative manifesto was all about Brexit. In fact, that’s not even an opinion – they proudly claim this themselves. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Although Brexit is very important to me, it’s not the only thing that influenced my vote. Over the next 5 years, we have more to worry about than just Brexit. This should not have been a Brexit election.

If you have read my post on climate change (you can do so here), then you will know that I am extremely concerned about the future of the planet. So any manifestos that speak thoroughly to solving this global issue, go down favourably with me. I also care about issues like the cost of living, accessibility to skilled jobs, affordable housing and homelessness, crime and the way that we view and respond to immigration.

Now, with all of this in mind, I read the manifestos of the Conservative and Labour parties. My constituency has a majority Conservative hold so I was torn between tactical voting (Lib Dems) and genuinely just voting for who I most found my beliefs aligned with. I simply cannot support a Conservative government, when it means that the prime minister is a man who has repeatedly insulted every minority and under-privileged group in this country. Everyone that’s not a rich white man essentially. He is sexist, homophobic and he’s a racist. Referring to Muslim women as letterboxes and black children as picaninnies – are we just going to excuse this along with the long list of offensive things he’s said in the past? For a quick run through, you can read about them here. Or, you could just research him yourself and become informed about the kind of man that is going to be running this country for the next 5 years. Anyone who supports or even worse, tries to defend this man – well, frankly I don’t want to hear it.

The result of this election has been angering me all weekend. Genuinely, I am so disappointed. I think that the Conservative party is the worst party of them all and I just cannot understand why so many people voted for them. The only explanations I have for this, are that voters secretly share his controversial views and that he gained much of his support through leading his manifesto with Brexit.

Brexit has been going on since 2016. It’s now almost 2020. I know that this has been drawling on tirelessly. We’re all fed up of hearing about it on the news because we never get any clarity as to what is actually happening. We voted and the result of that vote, four years later, has not been fulfilled. It’s shambolic. During this time, we saw David Cameron immediately resign, Theresa May continually lead us into more and more disarray and then we got Boris as prime minister – who promises to get this whole ordeal sorted quickly and finally. To debate Brexit is really a separate topic on its own. I want to remain in the EU for several different reasons – the freedom to travel, work and live in any other EU country, access to emergency healthcare in any EU country as well as the option to seek help from an EU embassy outside of the EU if I’m abroad, the fact that the single market and trade sustains masses of UK jobs and businesses, which keeps the country thriving and the wider influence that we have from being part of a large union. These are just my reasons laid out simply, as I’m not going to be debating Brexit in this post. But I do feel that people voted Conservative not because they want to leave the EU with Boris’ deal or because they want to leave at all, but simply because they want to Get Brexit done. I’ve watched interviews with members of the public on this and even many of the remain voters say they just want to get this over with now. Boris promises to do that. People like Boris because he promises to do that and they believe that he will.

But for me, this vote was not just about Brexit. The Labour manifesto advocates change: It’s time for real change. There is a whole section on how they will lead a green industrial revolution through switching to renewable energy. This will create one million more jobs and reduce the cost of energy bills. Labour also recognise that the biggest polluters of our planet are in the wealthiest percentage of the population. If you read the Labour manifesto and compare it to the Lib Dems, you will find that Labour clearly details the how and the Lib Dems simply state that they are going to make sure they do this and that, without actually explaining the workings behind any of it. Saving the planet is my biggest concern and I felt that the Labour manifesto was the only one, out of all three manifestos that I considered, that gave this the detail and attention it deserves.

There is a whole section on tackling poverty and inequality – something the Conservatives only mention in passing. Not to mention that the homepage of their manifesto is scattered with images of white people and nobody else, when this is a multi-cultural country. Labour consider lots of different types of people in their manifesto – unemployed, self-employed, households with one person working, teenagers on minimum wage, people working full-time but facing too-high living costs, excessive working hours and the recognition that a healthy working environment allows you time to switch off. They also speak to several different injustices – gender differences and closing the pay gap, racial and religious injustice, taking care of our younger workers to make sure that they are not exploited with low pay and zero hour contracts. It’s the most inclusive manifesto.

Labour talk about making the NHS a zero-carbon service and investing in mental health to ensure that more people have access to the help they need. When they talk about the police, they talk about improving the relationship between communities and the police, providing more training and proportionate stop-and-searches. Unlike the Tories, who pledge to put 20,000 more officers on the streets and increase their powers to stop-and-search. They mention making stop-and-searches fair and proportionate, without even acknowledging the ways in which it currently isn’t. So how are we supposed to believe that they know what is fair and proportionate? There is one mention of the word minority in their manifesto and it is in reference to the ‘criminal minority’. There is one mention of ethnicity and religion, lumped together can I add and not addressed as separate entities. It simply states that a Conservative government will protect people from physical attack and harassment, without stating how and again, without recognising the specific problems that people are facing within these contexts. They just mention this for the sake of mentioning it.

The Conservative manifesto talks about ‘prevent[ing] any foreign interference in elections’. Which brings me on to the fact that there were so many European citizens who were turned away from their polling stations on Thursday and refused the right to vote! At the same time, there were people who didn’t receive their postal votes or received them the day after the election. I mean, really? These are the things we need to be talking about. If you ever want to get a sense of what is really happening to people in this world, read your Twitter feed. I’m not saying that Twitter is the voice of truth, but in a way, it is the voice of many people’s truths. The voice that speaks to the things you won’t be able to read about or hear on the news.

I voted Labour because, in my opinion, their discussions are holistic. They have detail and numbers in their manifesto to ensure we clearly understand the what and the how. You can question those numbers if you like but there are explanations behind what they say. It’s the most thorough and detailed manifesto I have read. I’m disappointed that more people didn’t vote Labour, I really am.

As I’m sure you can tell, I am really frustrated by the result of this election. In fact, it’s been irritating me all weekend. I know that the result is the result and we can’t change it now but I’m allowed to have my views, I’m allowed to be annoyed and I’m allowed to express why. For the next 5 years I have to have Boris Johnson as my prime minister and I really couldn’t think of anything worse.

What are your thoughts on the result?

Climate Change – What I know

Recently, I’ve been watching a few documentaries about climate change. I think that climate change is something most of us are vaguely aware of but I really wanted to increase my knowledge, look at the facts and take the opportunity to learn about the topic more in-depth. At the end of the day, I am still going to be alive in 20 years – which is how long we have to save the planet. Some sources even say that we only have 10 years. Time is running out before the damage is irreversible.

I don’t know everything and in this post I am not claiming to. But I have picked up a few key facts so far and I really wanted to share them here. The more that I’m learning about climate change and how much we have destroyed the planet already, the more important it’s becoming for me to share that knowledge and to actively contribute to rescuing the planet myself.

When we talk about global warming, it’s often just this over-arching term that we use to account for everything that’s damaging the planet. But what does it actually mean? There is a clear trend in temperature patterns, recorded by several different sources, that each show our world is getting hotter. The 10 hottest summers on record in the UK have been recorded since 2002. We have a heat wave here in London and we absolutely love it. People are sprawled out on every patch of greenery they can find around the city. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy this heat, but we need to be aware of why this is happening. Our world is now one degree hotter – ice is melting and the land around the world is drying out.

We are seeing the effects of global warming now more than we ever have before. Wildfires in Greece and California last year, for example. We’re seeing bigger natural disasters, sporadic weather changes and species dying out, passionate activists begging us to make changes sooner rather than later. In David Attenborough’s documentary on climate change, released this year, there is a scene that shows a forest full of dead bats in Australia. Why? Because the temperature was too hot and the bats couldn’t survive. Over 11,000 bats died and if that happened twice more, then the whole species would be gone. Animals are not able to adapt to such a vigorously evolving climate – causing multiple species to become extinct.

Our use of fossil fuels is greatly responsible for the warming of the planet and the failure of the world’s ecosystems and species’ abilities to survive. Global warming cannot be explained entirely by natural causes. We are part of a generation that relies on burning fossil fuels to generate the majority of our energy. The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is dangerous because CO2 acts as a blanket that traps heat in the atmosphere. We emit these gases through our industries, buildings, the generation of electricity and heat, transport, agriculture and forestry and other energy.

Global warming is also causing more moisture, which is changing the system of our weather. More moisture in the atmosphere means more rain – particularly in continents like Asia, we see this very dramatically. So much rainfall that towns and cities are being flooded or are seeing violent rainstorms. Weather conditions are just becoming increasingly volatile. For example, much of the heat that we are gaining is being stored in our world’s oceans. What we have found is that the warmer oceans are bleaching and killing sea life like coral. If you have a look at some of the coral in our oceans, you will find that a lot of it has completely lost its colour and is dead.

Antarctica, for example, where we all can picture images of icebergs crashing down as they melt, is losing three times as much ice today as it was 25 years ago and it’s only about half a centigrade warmer than it should be. Imagine what would happen if it was a full centigrade warmer? The ice melts into the sea and this means that sea levels are rising. I couldn’t believe that in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, for example, they are losing land to rising sea levels, at the rate of a football field every 45 minutes.

Recently, we all became aware that the Amazon rainforest is burning. The Amazon rainforest contributes to 20% of the world’s oxygen – which is why it is often referred to as the lungs of the planet. If you google why the Amazon was on fire, many sources will tell you that farmers were lighting it up to clear land. Other sources will tell you that the forest burned as a result of land that was far too hot and dry.

Either way, deforestation is a key contributor of global warming. When we get rid of trees, not only are we reducing the oxygen in the planet but we are making it easier for greenhouse emissions to rise into the atmosphere. This is because trees actually capture greenhouse gases for us. So when we cut them down, they end up releasing the gases they have been storing. Even worse is that, when we leave the trees to rot or we burn them down to get rid of them, we are producing even more emissions. A certain amount of heat from the sun is supposed to reflect off the earth’s surface. But greenhouse gases interfere with this process, by acting as a kind of blanket around the earth that traps the heat instead.

Almost a third of our CO2 emissions are caused by deforestation. So why do we do it? Well, mainly because of agriculture. Clearing land means that we can produce palm oil and soy, for example. Palm oil is found in 44 countries around the world, with the two biggest producers being Indonesia and Malaysia. It’s used in pretty much everything you can think of – lipsticks, food, toothpaste, even as a biofuel in some places. So, we’re clearing forests to make way for lucrative industries. But this actually becomes counter-productive, because when we burn down trees, in many cases, we find that the soil underneath is poor and that all of the nutrients have already been used up. If we continue at this rate of deforestation, it will take less than a century before all of the world’s rainforests are gone. This means more greenhouse gas emissions, less oxygen and more destruction of natural habitats; resulting in the extinction of yet more species and ecosystems.

When I talk about greenhouse gases, I’m not talking just about CO2. Methane is a greenhouse gas and there are large pockets of it trapped underneath the permafrost in the Arctic. Its release is supposed to be natural and long-term but global warming is melting the ice around the world, as I explained earlier. As this ice melts, it’s not just the rising sea levels that we have to be wary of, it’s the fact that the methane underneath the permafrost will bubble up and release itself into our atmosphere. Methane is 21 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas then CO2. So just imagine what will happen when all of these little pockets of gas are released into our atmosphere too.

If we continue at the rate we are now, then by 2040, we will hit 1.5 degrees of global warming. Shortly after that, we will hit 2 degrees. I can’t find much information on what the world will look like when this happens, as nobody is clear on this. But, what people are clear on, is that land will be so dry it will no longer be fruitful. We talk about plant-based diets being good for us and the environment (something I would like to research more) and this is something I’m slowly trying to ease myself into. But if our land can’t produce anything because it has dried out, then even if our diets are plant based, what are we going to eat?

I fear for our climate because I truly do not believe that governments around the world are committed to acting upon climate change. Our economy relies on industries that are harmful to our planet. Leaders around the world have notoriously been reluctant to act upon climate change, because this would involve eradicating lucrative industries. They don’t want to do that. Remember when Trump claimed that global warming was a ‘money-making myth’? Well what will take time, money and effort is actually responding to this issue and sadly, it’s just not that important to them.

Renewable energy is one of the key ways that we can target global warming. We all know about solar power, for example and it’s actually cheaper than the energy we get from burning fossil fuels. Wind turbines are another source and this is going to be a lot cheaper than fossil fuels in the future too. At the moment, 30% of our energy in the UK comes from renewable sources. This is good, but we need more. We also need to apply these changes to multiple industries – like the transport industry, for example. There are electric cars cropping up here and there and there are even trials taking place to build electric planes. People love to travel and this is going to be difficult to stop – it makes a lot of money and it also makes a lot of people happy. But if planes were to be powered by electric motors instead of fuel, then they would be a lot better for our planet. We have already seen the success of a one passenger electric plane making it across the English Channel. So if we continue with these trials, then we could see electric planes transporting us across the world too.

Re-planting trees that we have burned down is important too, because as I said earlier, trees absorb CO2. We can also look into building carbon collectors, which I think is a really interesting option. Carbon collectors take in air and trap CO2 using a filter. Once absorbed, the CO2 is dissolved in water and at a high pressure it is pumped down 1800m and forced to enter the bedrock. It’s called basalt. The CO2 ridden water then reacts with the rock and they separate. Whilst the water drifts over the rock, the CO2 turns into white patches of stone. Cleverly, this means that it cannot effect our atmosphere anymore.

Individually, we need to reduce the demand for… everything. Clothes, for example, which I am so guilty of. I love to shop but that doesn’t mean that I wear everything I buy. Almost everything we buy is produced using fossil fuels. So if we reduce our demand for these things and start investing in products that will last, then the demand goes down and so does the supply. If we’re being honest, the supply will not automatically be stopped until the demand decreases. As long as we want things, they will keep being produced. We have to create a reality where the costs of production of an item, outweigh the profit that can be made from selling it and we do this by lessening the demand. In first world countries, we are so wasteful and we really need to start thinking about what we’re throwing away and stop doing it.

We should also try to reduce our meat (specifically beef and lamb) and dairy intake. As a result of factory farming and intensive farming techniques, cows and sheep actually burp up methane. These techniques use fertilisers to produce long-lasting ryegrass (perennial ryegrass) that grows quickly and in large quantities. This grass is not very nutritious and it’s difficult for the animals to digest. The simple science behind it (as I am not a scientist) is that the ryegrass mingles with microbes inside the animals and produces gas, which the farm animals then burp up into our atmosphere.

It’s really important to look into what you can do to help with climate change. As I always say, knowledge and research is absolutely key, so I will leave some of the sources that I have found useful linked down below. Don’t get me wrong, I still have lots to learn on this. There’s science behind it that I would like to understand and there is history that I want to research, to see exactly what kind of things we have been doing over the years to get us here in the first place. This post is just an amalgamation of what I have learnt through watching documentaries and reading up on climate change over the past week. So if anybody has any recommendations, then please let me know!

Resources you might find interesting:
Climate Change: The Facts (June 2019, David Attenborough on BBC)
The Race is On: Secrets and Solutions of Climate (April 2019, Paul Maple and Dr. James Dyke)
National Geographic Youtube Channel – for short videos to help you learn
NASA website

These are the sources that inspired me to write this post. But if there is anything you don’t understand, then just have a little Google and find some trusted sources. It’s not too difficult. Think of it like doing your research for an essay, only this research is going to help you save the planet!

T Talks: What I think about social media, online bullying and trolling.

Jesy Nelson (Little Mix) recently released a BBC documentary called ‘Odd One Out’ about how online bullying and trolling has effected her since winning the X-Factor in 2011. If you haven’t watched it already, then you really need to. It’s heart-breaking but it’s so important and I think that we could all learn a lot from watching it.

Social media is such a huge part of my everyday life. I’ve said it before but I wake up and I scroll through Instagram, then I check Twitter and then I go onto YouTube and watch videos from my favourite creators while I eat my breakfast and get ready. I’m online so much that I’ve already seen so much online bullying and trolling and I hate to say that it’s become something I’m actually used to. It does still surprise me, but even watching Jesy’s documentary, I wasn’t exposed to anything that I didn’t already know. People do leave comments and write posts and tweets saying some very damaging things. Some of them know how much pain they’re causing when they do it, but I do also think that there is a large percentage of people who don’t. 
When somebody puts themselves in the public eye, they are entering into a sphere that is heaving with negativity. I don’t believe that that means they should learn how to deal with it or get over it, as some people might say. People just shouldn’t be allowed to say whatever they want online in the first place because I actually feel that the online space is becoming just as dangerous as the world outside of it. People think it’s okay to say whatever they want, because social media gives them the capacity to do so behind a screen. They don’t have to be identified and I think that’s where social media becomes very threatening. 
Young people are slowly being made aware of just how important it is to be kind online, which is good. I’m not sure where the lines got blurred here if I’m honest. I have never ever thought about writing anything telling someone to kill themselves. I wouldn’t say it out loud, I wouldn’t type it, I haven’t even ever looked at someone and thought that about them. I cannot fathom what place you have to be in in your life, to try and reduce someone to such little self-worth. When you’re typing something like that, you have to know exactly what you’re doing and that is why I think that people should be held accountable for what they say online. There is a petition specifically for this and I encourage everybody who agrees with me to sign it. You can do so here
Social media has constructed this extra layer of reality that most of the younger generation have now been born in to. I know what it was like before social media, but there are some people who don’t. This kind of life – where you have to look perfect online all the time, where you can get bullied online, where your social media presence and engagement validates you more than the natural interaction you have in your life – is just the norm for a lot of people.
There is so much pressure to only present the best parts of yourself online. So when you think you’re doing that and you get a comment from somebody that completely tears you down, what are you supposed to think? You’ve taken a photo in the best lighting possible, you’ve done your hair, your make-up, you’ve worn the best outfit you can and posed in the most flattering way you can. For some people, even that’s not good enough. So you add a filter to make your skin look better, you change the lighting a little bit. Even then, for some people, it’s still not good enough. So they start editing themselves with apps like FaceTune, tweaking all of their insecurities until they look perfect. Then they post a picture online and guess what? It’s still not good enough.
I think that it’s going to be difficult to undo the damage that has been caused by social media, maybe even impossible. But slowly, we have to start using the platform to show more of reality. To replace the warped realism that demands so many of our attention. And, we need to make sure that we’re exposing those who are using their social media accounts to bully and troll others. It’s not okay. It’s causing irreversible damage and it has to stop.