Booksmart [Film Review]

A week ago, I went to see the film Booksmart at the cinema. I’ve been wanting to see it for a while – just because it looked fun and a lot of people were comparing it to Superbad. I also like supporting indie films every now and again, especially since they are often underrated.booksmart

At the beginning, the film seemed kind of cringey. One woman walked out within the first ten minutes (although if she’d seen the trailer she would have known that it was targeted at a younger audience) and there were parts where I felt myself thinking: wow this is like any other high school movie. However, the film definitely got better as it went along.

What I loved about the film was that it was actually from the perspective of two high school students who weren’t popular. You see these in films all the time but they are often not given the primary focus, so I thought this was a nice change. I loved the character development of the two main characters as well; they had distinct personalities and I could imagine them as real people – in fact, I see a lot of parts of people I know within them. There were some moments that were trying too hard to be funny, which ultimately let it down, but there were other moments that were genuinely laugh out loud.

I definitely think this is one of those films that you really have to go into open-minded and give it a full chance to get out of it what you want. There were actually some scenes that had beautiful cinematography. For example, when one of the girls jumped in the pool and then walked through the crowded house, with all the voices muted out and a focus on the slow steady beat of the music and the perception of the character. I really felt this one. There was also an argument that had a similar muted effect and the acting in particular here was very good. There were moments where it could have been cliche, but it opted out and I was so glad it did.

Whilst this is hardly one of the best films I’ve ever seen, there was definitely a uniqueness to it that is hard to pinpoint. I feel like the characters will stay with me long after the ending and that, in itself, is a success.

6 Ways to Switch Up the Way You Study (check out my first article!!)

I am super excited because my first article for the Graduate Recruitment Bureau’s blog was published today!! It’s not often I connect this blog to my life outside of the written world, but I feel like my confidence has grown so much since starting this blog that I’m no longer afraid for you guys to see the real me behind the page (or at least some of it).

The link to the article I’ve written is below and I really hope that it is useful for any of you who are also studying at university. Please let me know your thoughts 🙂

https://www.grb.uk.com/blog/6-ways-to-switch-up-the-way-you-study

 

My Favourite Mental Health Books

Today is World Book Day, but it is also University Mental Health Day. Since I am a huge lover of reading and have struggled a lot with my mental health whilst at university, this day is really important to me. Therefore, what better to do than list some of my favourite mental health books?

1. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig Image result for reasons to stay alive

I know what you’re thinking, I’m talking about Matt Haig again, but his books have been really helpful to me over the past couple of years. He gives an account of his struggle with mental health with no filter and that’s what I love about it. He doesn’t make it seem cool or sugarcoat it – it is his raw feelings in book form and I really admire that. For people who struggle with anxiety and/or depression, this may be really useful to you. Read my book review here.

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2. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

If you thought I’d just stop at one of Matt Haig’s books, you’d be very wrong. Whilst this one also tackles mental health, it is vaster in its approach to technology and social media. These are things that have become second nature to us and Haig discusses how this affects our minds. I think anyone who finds themselves even mildly attached to the internet can relate to this book. Read my book review here.

3. How to Survive the End of the World by Aaron GilliesImage result for how to survive the end of the world

Technically I haven’t actually finished this book yet, but I’m in the process of reading it, so that counts, right? This book focuses on topics similar to Matt Haig, but has more of a focus on anxiety. I really like the humour that Gillies brings to this book and the informal way it is written. It is split into categories, such as “My anxious brain vs the morning” and “My anxious brain vs socialising” which makes it really easy to pick out the parts as and when you need them. This one doesn’t have a book review yet (sorry).

4. Your journal

So I got to number four and realised that I haven’t actually read as many mental health books as I thought. Go me. However, having your own notebook and jotting down your thoughts is just as much a mental health book as any. It’s a way to release tension, to rationalise your thoughts, and you don’t even have to read it. Sometimes writing out your inner thoughts can be scary because you don’t know what’s lurking there, but it is unbelievably rewarding. Trust me.

 

I really hope this list was somewhat helpful, despite my slight downfall at the end with my lack of ideas. Today is a day about sharing books and caring for others, and I think that’s the perfect day.

Learning to Say “No”

As I’m nearing the end of my second year of uni (literally how??) I’ve realised how easy it is to overcommit yourself. At the start of university it is essential to make extra effort so that you can meet new people, but even now I still feel like I have to say “yes” in case I miss out on something or hurt someone’s feelings. The truth is, I shouldn’t feel bad. And neither should you.

Lately, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot more about myself. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really fit any extremes; I’m just a blend of different types of people and I think that’s why a lot of the time I seem confusing. When it comes to going out, I love it, but what I’ve realised is that I only love social events if it’s with people that I feel comfortable around or I’m good friends with. And that’s okay. But it means I need to start saying “no” to the events that I don’t actually want to be at. I need to acknowledge the things that bring me “empty” happiness – the kind that is exciting on the surface but is non-existent on the inside – and to try and replace that with things that bring me actual happiness.

The concept of saying “no” seems so simple and maybe you’re sat there wondering why it is so hard for me, but I think – especially at uni – you feel there’s a pressure to go to everything. You don’t want people to hate you. You don’t want people to think you’re antisocial. You just worry way too much about other people. And I’ve reached a point where I just don’t have the energy or time to waste on people or events that I don’t want to be a part of. I think sometimes I come across as an antisocial person to people; I spend a lot of time in my room and because of social anxiety, I’m not the best at talking (but I’m getting there). However, that’s because I like my own space. I like having time to myself to get to know myself so I can write posts like this and understand what I really want. Time to think and order the constant thoughts that knock around inside my brain all the time. It’s also because I have a really low tolerance for fake friends and I honestly prefer spending time with a select few people than huge groups. I love socialising when it comes to my close friends, but I hate it when I feel like I’m there for the sake of it, wasting my time when I could be doing something else. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with knowing what I want and what my priorities are.

So, because of this, I’m going to say “no” more often. If I don’t want to go to something, why should I go just to please someone else? If I would prefer to watch a film or call a friend from home then I will do that instead. Because at the end of the day, it’s only one opportunity out of many. It’s better to do something you enjoy and that actually makes you happy. Otherwise, what’s the point?

I have days when my smile doesn’t feel quite right. [poem]

I have days when my smile doesn’t

feel quite right.

alien in my skin.

not quite sure how to

fit in.

if a smile even has to

fit in

– mine does.

  

I have days when my chest doesn’t

feel quite right.

a subtle ache.

not quite sure if I

want to cry.

if I even need to

cry

– I do.

  

I have days when my head doesn’t

feel quite right.

hateful thoughts.

wonder if anyone

cares.

the possibility of anyone

caring

– I don’t believe it.

  

I have days when my smile doesn’t

feel quite right.

and I have days when my chest

doesn’t feel quite right.

and I have days when my head

doesn’t feel quite right.

those days –

I don’t exist.

  

  

As of lately, I’ve been posting more poems. I think that’s because I’ve noticed a dip in my mood (as I said before, when I’m happy I don’t feel the need to write as much). I wasn’t sure about posting this one, but then I thought: why not? This blog isn’t just for positivity but for escape and for being myself.

This poem is important to me because it’s accepting that not every day can be perfect. There are days when I get overwhelmed with anxiety and days when I feel so depressed I feel like I’m not really moving within a real world. But that’s okay. Because those days I don’t exist. And that’s what I need to remember: those days are not me and they won’t ever define me.

Maybe this is something you can relate to, maybe not. But it’s really hard to find yourself as a person when stuck in one of these scenarios, where you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself. And it hurts. It really does hurt. But it’s also temporary. And so, although this is one hell of a depressing poem, I thought I’d write this note to remind myself that there is so much good I can learn from it. And which I hope you can learn from it too.

  

Rambling about starting uni and mental health and creating change…

So I’m back at uni now (kind of). I’ve moved into my new house and have settled in, but classes haven’t started yet. I guess there’s no real aim of this post but I just wanted to write out what I’m feeling at this moment in time because often I don’t even know how I’m feeling myself until I start writing and all these words pop out and I’m like oh so this is how it is.

What I find cool about uni though, is that each year is entirely different. It’s still the same course and you come across the same people but you also live with different people and are in classes with different people and meet new people. I kind of like it though. School routines were always so structured and I think that’s what made it so hard to change my mindset and change myself as a person, because I felt like I couldn’t, as if everyone around me who’d known me for ages already had a perspective of me that I couldn’t change and that was frustrating. Knowing each year at uni is slightly different helps fit in with me changing, especially since I’m starting cbt soon for anxiety. If I’m not reliving the same year again then it’s so much easier to leave things behind that I want to forget, because sometimes being with certain people or in certain situations reminds me of past memories when I was feeling awful and being back in those stages is like reliving it. Instead, I want to move forward.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. I’m so worried that term is going to start and I’m going to get stressed about reading and I’ll just fall into the same routine as last year. And that scares me. It’s so nice to have had summer to rest and to just have a space of time where I socialised with who I wanted when I wanted, when I didn’t have work stress to deal with and I didn’t have panic attacks every week. It’s like uni brings this all back up to the surface which is frustrating because I love uni. I really do love being independent and reading cool things for my course and being part of societies. It’s just a shame that all of that comes with the price of bad mental health but I guess that’s what adulthood does sometimes.

Although I’m hoping the cbt works, a major part of me is sceptical because I know how long my brain has been subconsciously trained to think and act a certain way and it’s going to be hard to change this thought process. But I’m going to try the best I can. I watched a video the other day about someone seeking help for mental health and their friend said that some part of them is probably scared that in the process of healing they’ll lose who they are as a person and maybe deep down I feel a bit like that too. Maybe my mind can’t visualise me without anxiety because I’ve never actually known life without it. And it’s like a giant leap into the unknown – some foreign world that doesn’t really seem possible, but could be.

For now I guess I just enter the new year with as much confidence as I can. It’s good to know that this time I have the support of my family and best friends from the start. And the blogging community who support me simply by posting content which makes me feel more at home with myself.

I wish those of you who are off to uni tons of luck. You can do this. Even if you think you can’t. You can.

Returning Home from Uni

So after my first semester of uni, I have today returned home after almost 3 months of not being here and it’s a feeling that’s kind of quite hard to comprehend – strange, but also good.

For some reason it seems like I haven’t been here in at least a year – I guess because uni is such a completely new experience that it feels like you’re in a completely different world. The change is so huge it’s sometimes a bit overwhelming to actually make sense of. Coming home is kind of like walking back into nostalgia. The place is familiar and yet I feel like a slightly different person. Everything is where I’ve left it and yet I don’t feel like it’s where it should be.

It’s been really nice to catch up with my family though and I’m sure that even though I feel slightly like I’m a guest in my own house at the moment, it won’t be long before I’ll fall back into routine. Having an evening sitting in the lounge with everyone and watching a film has definitely made me feel really happy to be home.

I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and it will take my brain a while to register where I actually am, but I’m looking forward to a good and quiet night’s sleep. And it definitely feels a lot more Christmassy here with the tree up so I’m looking forward to celebrating it with family and friends 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and I will hopefully be publishing a lot more posts over the next few weeks!

Uni (Y1 S1): The Books I’ve Read So Far

So considering my degree lies solely around reading and most of my followers out there probably also love reading (because why else would you have a blog?), I thought why not compile a list of all the books I’ve read so far for uni and what I think of them. Looking back at this semester, it’s actually crazy how much I’ve read. Compared to school, where I literally had no time to read, I’ve now read about 10x the amount of books I would normally have got through. Yes, they haven’t been texts of my choice, but I’m surprised how much of them I genuinely enjoyed – whoever chose them, picked well!

It would be hard to compile this list into some sort of ordered structure – I think there’s too many to be able to put them from best to worst – however I think through my comments it will be obvious which ones particularly stood out to me.

  1. The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley – This was the first book I read for the course. As I was reading it, I remember thinking it was pretty boring – nothing much happened and it was pretty uneventful. However, after completing it, I actually kind of liked it. It’s one of those books that once you grasp a particular concept or idea you like and analyse it to its depth, it suddenly makes the book 10x more interesting. This made writing the essay pretty fun, but I can’t say I’d ever reread the book.
  2. The Book of the Duchess by Chaucer – Overcoming the initial language barrier in this book is pretty overwhelming at first! I’d never read Chaucer before so the fact that there was no standardised spelling and every word was pretty much written however it wanted to be written, it was difficult to make sense of. I can’t say I was a massive fan even after understanding it, but it was interesting to read something different for a change.
  3. The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd – This play pleasantly surprised me! Looking at the cover, it really did look boring not gonna lie, but as I read it it reminded me so much of Othello and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Of course, Kyd didn’t take it lightly when it came to killing off characters at the end, but I liked the idea of it being a play within a play.
  4. Politics and English Language by George Orwell – This is actually an essay but I genuinely found it so interesting. It made me think a lot about how we use words and how a lot of the time we use them out of habit rather than out of meaning. Orwell discusses the way, in politics particularly, how speeches are repeated and yet their purpose has just diminished and become simply lazy. It made me think a lot about my essay style and how we become accustomed to using block phrases such as ‘it is interesting to debate’ and ‘one may argue that’ when really these have become unnecessary. It was a very thoughtful read.
  5. The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World (extracts) by Margaret Cavendish – This text was really interesting because it was the only known work of utopian fiction in the 17th century and arguably an example of what we now call “proto-science fiction”. I really liked the philosophical approach, despite it being pretty confusing at parts (there was a lot of body swapping going on) and I enjoyed writing an essay in reference to its proto-feminism.
  6. Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett – This is a very short play that simply revolves around a man sitting at a desk playing back cassette tapes and yet I really enjoyed it. There was something about the way it was written and the way he spoke and was presented that made it seem so real and raw. It’s quite a strange text but I think it wholly encapsulated his depressed state of mind and I loved it for this.
  7. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas DeQuincey – This was a bit of a weird book to be honest. I’m not entirely sure whether I liked it or not. It was interesting to get into DeQuincey’s state of mind, but at the same time he was just such an unlikable and arrogant character. Due to it being a book of reflection, nothing much really happened and I just felt like it was lacking something.
  8. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky – ahhh this is 100% my favourite book I’ve read this semester! I don’t know why, because it’s such a weird and uneventful book, but I just feel like the narrator’s ramblings about life and mentality and truth are just so interesting and also relatable. There’s some particular lines in the book which really resonate with me and got me thinking a lot about the world, so much so that there’s no way I could write down all my thoughts on it right here, so within the next few weeks I’ll hopefully be putting up a separate post. For now, I’m actually really enjoying writing my final essay on this text! And I’ll definitely be reading some more Dostoevsky in the future.
  9. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West – It’s pretty weird that this one showed up on my module list because I studied WW1 for English Literature A Level and as a homework we had to find an extract and I took an extract from this very book! I hadn’t read it in its entirety before, but I’d analysed a particular section in depth so I had a basic understanding of it. Whilst the language in this novella is pretty simple, I think it really works and I love the descriptions of nature and colour. The notion of ‘returning’ physically and mentally is also really interesting to analyse.

As well as these texts, we’ve also read quite a bit of poetry (Ozymandias, Dunt, etc.); short stories (by Virginia Woolf, Ian McEwan, etc.) and a lot of criticism and historiographical material, but apart from that these were the main texts we studied and as you can see from my reviews, I really did enjoy the majority of them!

If I had to pick my favourites, it would probably be those that made me think beyond the book and those that I would say changed my thinking in some way or another. Therefore I would choose Notes from the Underground, Krapp’s Last Tape and Orwell’s Essay.

If you’ve read any of the books mentioned, let me know! I’d love to discuss them 🙂

1 Month into Uni – What I’ve Learnt

Image result for uni meme

So it’s been just over a month since I’ve been at university and it’s a completely different experience to sixth form – less stressful but also terrifying. Sometimes I don’t really know how to feel about everything, but it’s mostly going well 🙂

I thought I’d share a list of a few things I’ve learnt from being here so far, which might be helpful for those who are going next year, or just interesting to read about. I’m sure those who are also at uni will be able to relate to a few.

  1. A good night’s sleep doesn’t exist (or it becomes what you used to think was a bad night’s sleep)  this for me, at first, was really difficult. I’m used to getting a lot of sleep so it was inevitable that freshers week would give me illness. I also can’t sleep with noise, so I’ve had to get used to the constant waking up whenever I hear someone in the corridor.
  2. You become ill 24/7 – The first 4 weeks of uni I was pretty much ill for the entirety of it. I had the most annoying cough, which led to many embarrassing seminars where I had continuous coughing fits whilst trying to contain myself. What sucks about being ill at uni, compared to when you’re back at home, is you have no family around to look out for you – you have to look out for yourself. I’m personally so bad at this; I try and do everything even when I’m ill and it mostly just makes things worse. However I have finally been freed of illness, though I know it’s probably not long until it comes back around the corner.
  3. Napping is the answer to everything – This was particularly relevant when I first started uni; the lack of sleep meant I was never going to get anything done, or survive long enough for the next night out, without going to bed for an hour or two between work and dinner. I don’t nap as much now as I did before (thankfully my lack of contact hours means I get several lie ins a week) but it’s definitely nice to know it’s there when things get a bit exhausting.
  4. You start to think you’re losing your memory – When you get to uni, there are so many people to meet it’s actually impossible to remember everything. You ask for people’s names and then immediately forget them because you have too many stored in your brain.
  5. Explaining where you come from is confusing – Personally, I’ve found that because no one has heard of my town, I always have to relate it to how far it is from a more familiar town or its county. And sometimes even that gets a blank reaction, so I just go with London.
  6. You are reminded often of your hatred for bugs – Opening windows is like willingly giving yourself a gift from hell because bugs and spiders will enter your room and you will panic. The kitchen isn’t much better.
  7. Small talk is unavoidable – Being someone who really doesn’t like small talk, this one annoys me, but it’s the only way to talk to new people and make yourself seem friendly, so it must be done.
  8. Getting into the habit of food shopping – This one involves making sure you don’t spend all your money on unnecessary food and then throwing it out a week later because it’s all out of date. I’ve got into the habit of writing lists before I go shopping so I restrict myself from buying everything, and to be honest it’s working pretty well so far. I’ll let the occasional chocolate eclair or doughnut slide.
  9. You feel lazy – I’m not sure how most people feel about this, but for some reason even when I’ve done a whole day’s worth of work I convince myself it’s not enough. It feels like I haven’t done any work when I’ve actually been pretty productive – probably because I choose to do most work in my room.
  10. Room temperature is a pain – The radiator’s heat and timing schedule is so irregular that sometimes you’re boiling and sometimes you’re freezing and you have no idea how this occurs.
  11. Fire alarms are just awful – We’ve only had one fire alarm so far but it just sucks. It didn’t help that it happened at 7am on my day off – so much for a lie in. We also have fire drills every week which we don’t have to get up for, but they are too loud to be waking up to nevertheless.
  12. Procrastination is 10x worse than before – I used to leave my phone upstairs when I worked at home so that I wouldn’t check it, but here there is only one room so I pretty much end up putting it in a drawer out of sight – it mostly works I guess.
  13. Money is forced to be spent on essentials – The first thing you will spend your birthday money on is kitchen stuff. It’s honestly really sad.
  14. Leftover food is either a blessing or a disguise – Sometimes it’s the best feeling when you open the fridge and find leftover noodles that you can have for lunch. Other times, you feel extremely guilty for having to throw old food away.
  15. And most importantly, always push yourself out of your comfort zone – I’m definitely the kind of person that likes to play it safe – being in new situations often makes me anxious – however being at uni has forced me to try new things. Even when I haven’t felt like it, I’ve forced myself to go out and socialise and this has definitely helped me meet more people and stay focused on being happy.

Of course, there’s probably many other things I’ve learnt over the course of a month but these are just a few I can think of. If you’re in a similar position, what have you taken away from your first month at uni? Are any of these points relatable?