How Niraj And I Became Friends Through Blogging! [Blog Collab]

Today’s post is going to be a little different from usual, as I’ve been working on a blog collab with Niraj from Niraj’s Blogs!

When I first started blogging years ago, I was initially drawn to the friendliness of the community, but I didn’t expect to make genuine friendships through it at all. A while back, just after we’d graduated, Niraj sent me a spontaneous email and we got chatting about blogging and university. Since then, we’ve met up in London a couple times and become really good friends, continuing to share our blogging goals and life goals too. We thought this post would be a great way to share how blogging played a huge part in our friendship, and the power of the lovely WordPress community too!

As a heads up: this post was written between the two of us, so you can find the exact same one over on Niraj’s blog, which you should go check out over here!


We first spoke in about July time last year, just after we both finished our university degrees. We were both already familiar with each other’s blogs, having read them beforehand, so that was a good starting point for our discussions.

As expected, we initially bonded over our common interest in blogging. It’s not something a lot of people have as a hobby, so we really enjoyed sharing our passion for blogging with someone just as enthusiastic. Although we both write on completely different topics, and have different goals for ourselves, blogging is something we both really care about and it was so motivating and inspiring to be able to share our blog ideas and goals with one another. Naturally, this helped us both with our confidence in our writing too.

However, what became apparent from very early on was that although the blogging conversations would continue, we also began to talk about other things such as our university experiences. This led to us both becoming friends where we could confide in one another about our worries, rather than just talking about blogging. As a result, we began supporting each other not only in blogging, but in our individual journeys of self-development too.

When we realised we both lived in the South East, we decided to meet up in Central London, once in October of last year, and once in April of this year. Both times we explored different places in Central London, such as Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge. We enjoyed embracing a change of environment and escaping our everyday routines, especially during the times of remote working and staying at home.

Since we both have a growth mindset and enjoy reflecting on things, meeting up in Central London, where there is a lot of nature and good views gave us the perfect chance to catch up and reflect on how things have gone. Whilst nature gives that element of space to breathe and sit in the air of your own thoughts, equally having someone there to listen and support is just as crucial. These moments certainly helped strengthen our friendship, as face to face interaction makes it easier to open up to each other and beats video call any day!

Overall, blogging is a continuous journey and you never know what is around the corner or who you’ll meet along the way. Perhaps you can relate to finding an unexpected friendship, or meeting your blogger friend in person for the first time. It’s a really rewarding and fulfilling experience.

The beautiful, sunny view in Trafalgar Square!

We hope you enjoyed reading this post and got to know us a little bit better.

We’d love to know if you’ve had a similar experience – did you also meet a friend through blogging?

Let us know in the comments below.


6 Things I Learnt From 3 Years at University

Earlier this year, I graduated from university and, what with lockdown and no proper graduation, it’s been an odd end to 3 years, but an end nonetheless. Looking back, it’s hard to put 3 years worth of memories into a singular blog post, so instead I’ve decided to write about 6 key things I’ve learnt during my time at university – perhaps some of you can relate!


1. How To Be Responsible

This is an obvious one to start with, but it is what university teaches us all to do – how to become independent and live apart from our family. For some this is more difficult than others, but for all of us it’s new territory. I remember the first night staying at university and it felt like I was in a hotel, yet all of my stuff was there. It’s a scary moment for us all, but then the food shopping, utility bills and renting rooms becomes normality, and quicker than we know it, we become adults.

2. Who I Am As A Person

I think most people have some sort of idea about who they are as a person before university, but during university is when you truly experiment with hobbies, societies, meeting new people, and you learn how you react to all these fluctuating circumstances. I think we all try out at least one different version of ourselves at university, just to see what it’s like, whether that’s pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone or befriending someone we wouldn’t usually talk to. Eventually, you figure out how you actually want to spend your time, and I felt like I left knowing a lot more about who I am and who I want to be.

3. Self-Discipline

It’s no surprise that university teaches you how to take control of your life. Because no one’s going to do that for you. The teachers no longer spoon-feed you exam content, and no one is there to tell you to study. It really is down to yourself to manage your time effectively to get work done. I think this is something I was already fairly good at, but it did help me set up a schedule and be more proactive in seeking help and guidance when I needed it.

4. Who Your Genuine Friends Are

As cliché as it sounds, university makes you realise the kind of people you want to surround yourself with. It’s crazy the amount of people you meet when you first get there, and it’s so different to anything I had ever experienced, but it was so interesting seeing the similarities and differences between everyone. I often found myself in those stages of “friend acquaintances” and not knowing who was a proper friend and who wasn’t. But ultimately, it’s those that still make the effort to contact you and who are there when you need support. I’ve always preferred having a few really close friendships than lots of surface-level acquaintances, and I found that by the end of university, even after experimenting with both, I was back to my roots.

5. Confidence

This one plays a massive role in my time at university. I used to be a really shy person (and still can be, in some ways), but exposing myself to so many new people and new situations, which were way out of my comfort zone, really helped me become more confident. One of the things I learnt during university – mostly towards the end – is that it’s good to do things that scare you. That’s how you overcome those mental limitations you put on yourself. So now I am actively trying to do things that scare me, and letting myself lean into them with confidence.

6. The Importance of Self-Development

The university fresher in me would look at this one with utter confusion, but I think that’s a statement as to how far I’ve grown since beginning university to now. Particularly in my third year, I realised how important it was to work on my self-development. After struggles throughout university with my mental health, alongside falling ill in the middle of second year, I learnt that overcoming these difficult moments in life require self-care, self-acceptance and a desire to take action and make positive change. Self-development is called self-development for a reason – only us, the self, can do it. And when we put our mind to it, we can achieve a lot more than we think.

We take steps, not knowing where we’ll go or where we’ll end up, but knowing one day it’ll mean something.

Have you also been to (or currently go to) university? What have you learnt during your time there?

Let me know in the comments below!


Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 8

The challenge for this week was… reach out to a friend!

I chose this challenge because I think now is an important time to be checking up on people, making sure that the people you haven’t spoken to in a while are doing okay and that they’re not isolating themselves even further.

Sometimes it can be difficult to reach out – especially if it’s someone you’re not used to talking to in a more vulnerable way. It can also feel intimidating, but it’s one of those things that reaps the best rewards, because at the end of the day, you form a tighter bond with anyone who you are willing to open up with, and they are likely to do the same back.

I tried to put a bit more effort into asking people how they are this week, making sure that after I’ve messaged friends about trivial things, I check in and ask how they’re doing in general as well. I saw a few posts on twitter of people feeling a bit down, or needing some advice, so I tried extra hard to reply and help people where I can.

I think it’s difficult to check in with everyone all of the time, especially if you have friends that are dotted about the place – that you’ve met and built a bond with separately, rather than as a big friendship group, which is definitely the case with me.

All we can do is reach out where we can, based on our own energy levels too. Give some love, but make sure you have energy to look after yourself too.

Have you been reaching out to friends/family lately?

Let me know in the comments!

Gaining the Confidence to Speak Up When No One is Listening

Today I want to share more of a rambling post about the act of listening. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why people speak and why people listen and how these traits differ from person to person. I’ve always been more of a listener than a talker myself. I would always read books as a child, observing the characters and their feelings, and I would start reading people in real life like that too, pulling out all this information from people without ever really having to say anything at all. I think this is where my passion for writing started – I just loved observing how the world works and creating my own version of it.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised the importance in speaking up. I used to be quiet and anxious and this is probably because I let listening become my default – it was the easier option. Now, I’m on my journey to subvert this and becomes confident in the words that I have to say, but one of the things I particularly struggle with is speaking up when I feel like no one is listening.

How many of you have been in a conversation with someone for them to then start using their phone, or diverting the discussion over to something they want to talk about instead?

I find this extremely frustrating, and it’s also kind of rude, but not only this, it knocks the other person’s confidence straight out the window. When someone isn’t listening to what I have to say I start thinking: Am I not interesting enough? Oh, I guess you have better things to do. Why do I even bother?

When it reaches this point, I feel like I might as well be invisible. This is something especially sensitive to me, since I used to feel this way a lot, but I’m sure a few of you out there can relate. It makes you feel like your efforts just aren’t worth the time.

I think the main reason this has become a problem is because of the immediacy of modern society and our want to consume information instantly. It’s as if we must look at our phones as soon as we get a notification. It completely drives us away from normal chats where you just sit and talk with someone with absolutely no distraction. I bet our friendships and relationships would be so much more happy and healthy this way, if we took the time to connect face to face with our undivided attention. I’m lucky to have a few friends and family members who do chat like this with me and I really appreciate it.

It is inevitable that we have moments when we get distracted, because society has taught us to be this way and we don’t know how to live otherwise. I have moments where I’m also not paying attention, and I feel guilty even thinking about it, but I think, due to being a listener by default, I often wish other people would listen to me as much as I listen to them. I love understanding people, giving advice and helping them, but it reaches a point when sometimes I’ve had enough of listening. It reaches a point when, I’m dedicated to having a conversation without phones or any distractions, but the other person just won’t match that, or I have something to say, but no one will listen to it for more than a  minute.

It seems that in society we overlook the power of listening. I wish that listening could be taught in the same way that we are taught to speak up for ourselves (for I was always told off for not speaking at school, but never praised for listening well). After all, both talking and listening go hand in hand.

If everyone is talking, then what is the point of talking at all?

What do you think about the act of listening?

Let me know in the comments below!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Why You Should Choose Your Friends Wisely

I’ve found that the more I grow up, the more selective I am about friends. With less time on my hands and a stronger desire to connect with people on a deeper level, I mostly only pursue friendships that I think will become meaningful. I’d much rather have a few super close friends that I can share anything with, than a large group of surface-level friends. But choosing friends isn’t just about finding “your kind of person”, because friends actually have a greater influence on you than you think.

Has anyone ever told you that you have a similar mannerism to one of your friends? Or you start picking up your friend’s most used phrases? This has happened to me quite a few times, where I’ve noticed reflections of my friends in myself, and vice versa. It’s proof that whoever you surround yourself with has a direct impact on the way you react to the world.

Picking up a small phrase or mannerism doesn’t seem that significant, but if something so unique can easily be transferred between friends, then morals and attitude can easily be transferred too. In the most simplest sense, if your friend is super negative, that’s going to drag you down to a negative mindset as well. I’ve found that when I surround myself with positive and happy people, I start feeling their energy too. [I touched on this briefly in my Creating a good/positive aura blog post.]

I’ve learnt over the last few years that it’s so important to have friends that drive you to be a better person. I notice qualities in my friends – their ambition, their self-development, their confidence – and it inspires me to make those changes in my own life too. I feel like everyone in your life makes an appearance for a reason, but sometimes you have to choose who is worthwhile keeping – keeping toxicity in your life only prevents you from moving forward in your own.

I am so grateful to have friends who genuinely do motivate me to become my best self, but also challenge me to see and act beyond my means, as well as supporting me in whatever I do. It’s so rare to not only form but keep friends that really understand and care for you, and I feel really lucky in that sense.

So next time you’re out with your friends, ask yourself:

  • Am I inspired by them?
  • Do they bring out the best version of myself?
  • Do they motivate and encourage me to initiate positive change in my life?
  • Are they supportive of what I do?

 

Because if you surround yourself with people who you genuinely admire, you can’t help but achieve great things.

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

5 Things I’m Grateful For This December (2019)

The final month of this year! Absolutely crazy how I’m halfway through my final year of university! So, time to reflect on my gratitude for this month…

[Check out my other gratitude posts here: September, October, November]

Spending time with family

Now that I’m on a break from university, I’ve been spending a lot more time with family. My second cousin from South Africa, whom I’ve never met before, is staying with us for three weeks and it’s been so fun to show her around London, Windsor, and our favourite places! She’s very similar to me and it’s honestly felt like finding a long lost sister. It was so lovely to have a Christmas Day full of family and board games and homemade crackers my cousin made (with funky socks and made up jokes that made me laugh so much). I feel so lucky to have a family that, although is small and broken up, I get along with super well.

 

Food

It’s safe to say Christmas is definitely a time of lots of nice food! I am a huge fan of roast dinner – it’s one of my favourite meals – and I enjoy tucking into feasts with family and friends. I’ve also done a bit of baking this month which has been nice! I made a chocolate and banana cake which was really delicious. I’m grateful that I have the ability to create meals and desserts and also have access to such a variety of quality food in the first place.

 

Lifelong friends

I feel very lucky to have a circle of friends who I can always count on to have a laugh, but equally count on to be supportive and encouraging.  I love that I have friendships that involve a lot of investment from both sides – we’re in it for the long haul – and sometimes I forget how rare this is and how lucky I am to have found such amazing friends. It makes me really happy, because I know for sure that I will not only take these friends into 2020 but, as cliche as it sounds, into the rest of my life. So I’m super grateful I have all of you – you know who you are 😊

 

Living in the Present

Over the Christmas holiday I’ve tried particularly hard to use my phone less. My social media usage has dropped down to under an hour, and sometimes even half an hour, each day and I’ve been messaging people less, which has been difficult, but it’s often nicer to call or meet up in person instead. As a result, I’ve felt my brain fog decrease and this has really given me a lot of hope. I feel grateful that I’m alive so I should make the most of living it.

 

Acceptance

I feel like this month more than any other I’ve tried really hard to accept situations as they are, without reacting to them. There’s been a few occurrences where people I consider friends have ghosted my messages and in the past I would have felt anxious, but instead I now just accept it. Whenever my mind tries to beat me up, I calmly speak back to it like I’m reassuring a friend. Even as I’m writing this now, I’m stuck at a train station waiting for a friend who got delayed by more than an hour. I could have got annoyed, but what would be the point? Instead I’m accepting it as it is and enjoying a sausage roll and hot chocolate. With acceptance comes gratitude for what is right in front of you, not anger and anxiety for what isn’t.

What are you grateful for this month?

Let me know in the comments!

 

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Christmas Day Socks with the family!

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

it’s a kind of death. [poem]

eighth prompt: a love poem. this one turned kind of dark. it’s from the perspective of an outsider to love – someone who is trying to make sense of another’s toxic relationship but can’t fully understand because they’re not within it.

hand swinging from the rope of an arm

it’s a kind of death this is

this love is.

smiling into the darkness

the tip of a candle casting

light across the white of an eye

that knows what it’s like to die

love that swims in the potion that I

can’t seem to fathom.

it’s too far for me to understand

but I see what that rope is

doing to your hand

and you can’t stop it

no you can’t stop it

no you can’t

ssh