I’m writing this from a chair next to an open window. The sky outside is blue, barely streaked with clouds. The nearby birds are lively and the air is fresh. I spent the long weekend in good company. As May shifts into June, it’s peaceful here.
Elsewhere, though, it’s been a chaotic month. I mentioned in January that it can be hard to reconcile difficult, world-changing events with ordinary life. When the Manchester attack happened, it felt wrong to focus on anything else. But intense observation seemed wrong too. Within minutes and during the hours that followed, tragic losses were turned into content. Circumstances no family would ever wish for were shared over and over again.
A year ago, I launched the site you’re visiting today. Over the past twelve months, I’ve written about wellness, mental health, introversion, feminism, our online lives, living with coeliac disease and more. I love using this platform to be reflective and creative.
I’m really thankful to everyone who reads, appreciates and shares these posts. I wish I could split a (gluten free) birthday cake with you all. Please let me know if you’d like me to write about a particular topic by commenting below. Alternatively, say hello on Twitter or Instagram.
Here are my ten most popular posts so far:
I’ve now finished the first year of my MA (as long as the essays I submitted are good), which is satisfying. My job is going well and I’ve got some exciting posts and articles lined up for the next month or so. I’m confirming summer plans, but fitting in plenty of rest too.
This is my first reflections / round-up post since January because of the term-time rush. Do let me know if there’s anything you’ve been thinking about, writing on or enjoying lately.
When my copy of Daisy Buchanan’s How To Be A Grown-Up arrived, I greeted the courier with an earnest thank you and excited smile. I devoured the book in a few days, marking pages as I nodded in agreement.
I have appreciated Daisy’s writing for a long time and I regularly revisit her honest, thoughtful pieces for The Pool. HTBAGU builds on Daisy’s work as a journalist, covering topics such as career decisions, anxiety, body image, sex, financial management and relationships with friends, partners and parents.
Since September, I’ve commuted from Sussex to London twice a week for classes, library sessions and meetings. I’m still not sure how anyone manages long journeys on a daily basis, but here’s a brief list of things that I find helpful.
We’ve almost arrived at the end of January – a month marked for millions by disappointment, fear and anger, as a certain someone began a certain job that he is certainly not prepared for.
Personally, this month has involved beginning a new term at work and university, adapting to a different schedule, prioritising self-care and supporting others. I’ve been quietly joyful about aspects of my own life while also occasionally overwhelmed by world events.
Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about, reading, listening to and watching during the first weeks of 2017.
Yesterday I read Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, which tells the story of Morayo Da Silva, a retired Nigerian academic living in San Francisco. Morayo tries out writing in the styles of books she reads, making notes after the final pages. I decided to try the same technique with the stream of consciousness narrative style of Like a Mule. So, here’s a short story:
I’m not shy, but I am an introvert. I recently read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2013) in an attempt to understand my temperament – and those of extroverts – better. I’m interested in the psychology behind introversion and how I can communicate, work and empathise with others more effectively.
The book brings together Cain’s experience as an introvert with her research on the topic. Drawing on psychology, biology and sociology, it disputes extroversion’s status as the cultural ideal and demonstrates how introversion can be just as beneficial in our work and personal lives.
I first met Sarah in early 2013 at a training day for Student Hubs’ Social Impact Internship Scheme, when she was a recent graduate working on Oxford Hub’s programmes and I was a first year student at Southampton. We were brought together again at the start of 2016 through Worthwhile’s mentoring stream.
Since then, we’ve discussed goals, decisions, wellbeing and challenges – both global and personal. I appreciate our conversations as a place to share current experiences and longer-term plans. I also enjoy hearing about Sarah’s career, including her work on Monthlies, the social enterprise she started in 2015.
For these reasons, I recently asked Sarah if she would be interested in being featured in an interview on this blog. Read on for highlights from our conversation about feminism, social enterprise and life decisions.