The Handmaid’s Tale [Book Review]

I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale! After it being a massive topic of conversation lately, especially with the TV series, as well as a lot of people studying it for A level, I knew I had to read it because it was starting to get just a little bit embarrassing. And I’m really glad I did!Image result for the handmaids tale

Dystopia is actually one of my favourite genres of book. I love the idea of throwing myself into a manipulated version of reality where things are the same but also really not. It especially surprised me that The Handmaid’s Tale was written back in 1985 because to me it seems contemporary. After reading this book, I totally understand why it is so significant in terms of patriarchy and the way women are treated and ceased of their natural abilities, especially in terms of the natural process of birth. It’s crazy to think that procreating becomes the only reason to live in this book, as if any other part of human experience means nothing. But really, what is the point in procreating if there is nothing to live for? It’s all a major contradiction and I found myself asking all these questions as I was reading it. Since happiness, for me, is the most important part and goal of life, there was no way I could remotely justify the world of this book, not even if I tried. However, I am glad I put myself into this world through the concept of reading because it’s only once you’ve transported to a world worse than this one that you realise that actually you might quite like to live in this one after all. 

I just wanted to leave a few of my favourite quotes below because I feel like a few things really resonated with me, whether it was the words themselves or the way it was written.

“I know why there is no glass, in front of the watercolour picture of blue irises, and why the window only opens partly and why the glass in it is shatterproof. It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get that far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge.”

“Modesty is invisibility…Never forget it. To be seen – to be seen – is to be – her voice trembled – penetrated.”

“We have learned to see the world is gasps.”

“But if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone. You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else. Even when there is no one.”

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”

“No mother is ever, completely, a child’s idea of what a mother should be, and I suppose it works the other way around as well.”

“You can’t help how you feel…but you can help how you behave.”

I’m sure a lot of you have read this book too so please let me know your thoughts on it, or your favourite quote!

Advertisements

What Makes a Book Important?

A month or so ago I was discussing what makes a text important and I think it’s such an interesting topic of discussion because I thought everyone read books for the same reason I do, but turns out not everyone does. Books are significant in lots of different ways and I think it would be cool if everyone could comment below what makes a book important to them personally.

A few examples could be:

  • Tackles an important issue
  • Relevant to current society
  • Teaches you something new
  • Strong characters/story

And here’s my view:

A book is important if I can connect with it. For me, it’s all about my personal feelings rather than the quality of the actual text. If I can see elements of my experience or emotions in the book I am more likely to enjoy it because it’s relatable to me and it feels like someone understands me. I guess that’s why I read in the first place – to find people who think and feel like me; to get that feeling where the author’s words resonate so deeply that it’s almost like they’ve taken it from inside my mind.

Although this may not make the text objectively important, it makes it subjectively important and in my eyes this is so much more valuable. You can see things in it that no one else can because only you think the way that you do; interpret and feel it in the way that you do. That’s why it’s almost kind of special when you read a book and love it but someone else says they hate it. You have a way into the words that no one else does.

It is arguable that you wouldn’t want to connect to some books, for example ones surrounding murder, wars, or particularly distressing events, however I think you can still connect to the language itself in these books. It isn’t necessarily what the writer is saying but the way that they say it that can resonate with you. Also, so what if you can relate to a bad character? It doesn’t mean you’re bad too, just that your feelings overlap at times.

So what do you think?

What makes a book important to you?

Travelling to Romania (+ Flash Fiction)

So it feels like forever since I’ve published a blog post but I guess that’s because I’ve been away for a week volunteering in Romania and it’s been super busy! I went as part of a programme called Angloville which, if you didn’t already know, allows you to go abroad to help local children improve their English and in return pays for your accommodation and food. It’s a lot different to traditional teaching as the day is filled with conversational sessions which means you can talk about whatever you like, as well as play games such as dodgeball, table tennis, etc. I had such a great time so I definitely recommend it if you love travelling and want to help people out!

Travelling to Romania is the first time I’ve gone abroad by myself so I was pretty anxious beforehand, but it went a lot better than expected! Once I’d met up with the other volunteers and made friends, it wasn’t so daunting because we could all go around the city together and it was really cool to meet people from all over the world. If you want to see a photo of the cool umbrella street we found, check out my ig here: @mymindspeaksaloud

I’ve only applied to one Angloville programme – you can apply to three if you want to work towards a TEFL teaching certificate, but I wasn’t sure at the time if that’s what I wanted. I think I would do Angloville again, however I’m not sure if the next one could live up to this experience to be honest!

Now that I’m back in England, I still can’t believe how hot it is here. I turned up in Romania ready to wear my shorts and skirts and yet all the rain meant I spent the entire week in jeans! It’s nice to return home and finally be able to wear my summer outfits!

Whilst I was away I wrote this short flash fiction which I thought would be a good way to end this post:

Walking across streets bred from the whispers of unknown worlds, I fall into the cracks of foreign pavements. It’s strange to be known and yet no one to know you at all. It’s strange to be seen and yet your insides reversed, ingrained and found only in somewhere ashore. If not for skin as pale as the moon, I could be one of you. I could be anyone but me and maybe that’s why I like it. If I can pretend for a while perhaps my mind will grow back differently, a new currency of thoughts when I return to familiarity. Foreign streets will grow new seeds inside of me. Will they bloom a new flower or one that has sprouted before?

in a silent room. [flash-fiction + a bit of personal talk]

in a silent room, the laptop whir blurring my ears, it’s hard to know what to focus on. it’s hard to know what to focus on in an empty room when your thoughts feel so jumpy and real but it’s not real at all. you wonder what you can do to dull the subtle ache in your stomach and the feeling that your chest might explode any minute. this lonely gap between living and sleeping. what do you do when your eyes aren’t ready to shut off for tomorrow but you don’t want to be in this day any longer? what do you do.

I wrote this piece a week ago. I was just having one of those moments where my head was confused and nothing really seemed real. Perhaps it’s because I was leaving uni to go home the next day and I was having so many mixed feelings, about looking forward to seeing everyone at home but having to leave my room knowing I won’t be going back to exactly the same place next year (which isn’t a bad thing, but I will miss it).

However, after I wrote this, I spoke to my mum on the phone and it really uplifted me from this moment, even though I didn’t share any of these particular thoughts. It made me realise that even when you’re feeling awful there are ways out of that mindset. Although sometimes you feel like you shouldn’t rely on people to do that, they are there for you for that exact reason.

Don’t be afraid to reach out.

5 Traits That Are Important For Being Successful

Yesterday one of my friends introduced me to an exercise from a book that involves naming 5 chief assets for being successful and then giving examples of people/types of people that don’t have this asset/have less of this asset than you, but are still successful. I think this is really important in figuring out what your goals are – improving these 5 things but also thinking more positively about your position. If you fail at something, knowing someone else has succeeded anyway gives you a lot of hope.

Here are the 5 traits that instantly struck me as most important:

1. Intelligence

Image result for intelligence cat
be as intelligent as this intelligent cat

I think to be successful you need intelligence to some degree. I wouldn’t say you have to have achieved all A’s and a 1st degree to succeed, but having knowledge about something is really important. I think intelligence is often misunderstood as we’re told by society that intelligence does involve getting high grades, but I disagree. There are different kinds of intelligence, whether that be dealing with customers, or being arty. I also think that everyone has intelligence in them – it’s just up to them whether they allow it to shine.

2. Confidence

This one is an absolute must for being successful. If you have no confidence in yourself to succeed, you’re never going to be able to succeed, as there will be nothing driving or pushing you forward. I am aware I am not one of the most confident people, but there are certain times when you need to put up this front, even if you’re internally insecure. For example, interviews. If you go in putting yourself down they’re not going to hire you. When you write a CV you have to write positively about yourself because if you wouldn’t hire yourself, then why would anyone else?

3. Ambition

Ambition is pretty much what drives you into doing well. If you have no goals for yourself, then it’s really hard to actually achieve what you want (partly because you don’t even know what you want). Of course, it’s not easy to know exactly what career or lifestyle you desire, but by picking smaller goals you can work towards them first.

4. Friendly/Caring Person

Image result for friendly dog
be as friendly as this friendly pup

There are quite a few people who you may consider to be successful but don’t come across as friendly/caring, but I think this trait really does help you to succeed. If you’re kind towards others and respect them they are more likely to want to connect with you, and having connections and a good network is important in finding jobs and getting references.

5. Initiative

Initiative is probably the most important on this list because if you have no initiative, you likely will not take action, and with no action, comes no result. When you’re younger your parents likely persuade you to do work experience or volunteering, but you won’t always have someone there pushing you to do things. Instead, you need to have the initiative to seek these things out on your own. Opportunities don’t always fall right in front of you and so sometimes you have to take the lead, no matter how daunting it may seem.


So these are my 5 assets for being successful and whilst I may have missed some important ones, I hope to improve the ones I’m lacking over the course of the next few years to be as successful as possible.

I think the whole idea of being successful in life is highly subjective and depends on the person. There are a lot of stereotypes that success involves perfect happiness, or being rich, but I think a lot of successful people do struggle with happiness and a lot of successful people don’t earn thousands – I think you can be successful even if you’re not earning anything. Not everyone is lucky enough to have foundations built of money or good families and friends but that doesn’t mean they are incapable of succeeding. If anything, they are driven more so that they can create these things themselves.

You all have the possibility of success and I think this is an important time to remember this, especially during exam season.

What are your 5 assets for success?

Please comment them below – I’m so interested in what you all think!

4 Types of Introvert – What Kind of Introvert Are You?

The other day I came across a video on YouTube asking: What Kind of Introvert Are You? (Personality Test). Because I sometimes get bored and flick through my recommendations, watching videos that inevitably waste my time, I decided that for once I would do something useful and write about one.

So the 4 types of introverts put forth were:

  1. Social Introvert
  2. Thinking Introvert
  3. Anxious Introvert
  4. Restrained Introvert

Rather than explain them all in depth, you can watch the latter half of the video (posted below) if you’d like to know, or take the test and find out which one you are for yourself!

When I took the test I had a few mixed answers but it was mostly 1 and 3. This made me realise why my head is so conflicted all the time. I love socialising with people that I’m close to yet at the same time I also get anxious about social situations and this means it’s so hard to keep on track on both of these as they are constantly against each other.

Sometimes I think I come across as very confusing to people and I don’t mean to, but it’s because at times I can seem really chatty but at other times I’m completely silent. When I’m talkative that’s my social introvert out in the open without any anxiety, but when that anxiety appears my ability to socialise ceases. It’s so hard to explain because on the outside everything looks the same, but to me I just feel different.

At this moment in time, I’m really trying to work on my anxiety and confidence so that I can leave those feelings behind. Sometimes I think that if I didn’t have anxiety maybe I’d be more of an ambivert. I guess if you see the extroverted side of me I’m either pretty close to you, or I’ve probably had a bit too much to drink.

I don’t really have any goals as such for the summer but my confidence is definitely something I want to work on. I’ve joined a volunteering programme called Angloville that involves constant talking and meeting new people over the course of a week and I’m ready to push myself and interact with others in the way that I know I can if I set all my anxieties aside.

So yes, I may be an anxious social introvert which is the most conflicting and confusing introvert to be, but one day I hope to reach past these boundaries and feel happier in my own skin.

What kind of introvert are you?

 

if I adjusted to you… [poem]

If I adjusted to you

like my eyes adjust to the light

maybe I wouldn’t feel so dark,

maybe I wouldn’t feel like a stranger

scrambling in a void with no

guidance at how to make a star,

with no guidance how to lead you

into my world

and out of one where I

fall into the abyss of emptiness

you see

nothing.

 

You see

nothing.

 

but a figure of a silhouette

the living dead

darkness playing pretend

You see if

I adjusted to you

I could see you.

 

If I adjusted to you

maybe you would

see me too.