Wednesday, 8 January 2020

A Letter to my 21 Year Old Self

So I stumbled across my old 'A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self' blog post the other day and it made me think about how much can change in a matter of years.

Dear 21 Year Old Shan,

You're only 23 now, but in the past two years so much has changed for you. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to spill the beans on your new life. You wouldn't believe it.

Let's get the big things out of the way. You're a published author. Yes, all of those snippets you would write at 4am, all while sobbing profusely, are now the words printed in your first book - read and loved by people across the GLOBE. Your one dream has actually come true and I am so happy for you. I am proud of you, in fact.

It doesn't end there... you even live in your own beautiful flat - situated in a village - everything you ever wanted. It's yours and you can't believe the universe gifted something so wonderful. A pinch yourself moment, always.

As mentioned above, I am so proud of you. You have overcome leaps and bounds in regards to self love, confidence and even that one scary problem you dealt with on your own for so long. Having to go to therapy because your body physically didn't work was something you suffered with for far too long - would you even believe me if I told you that you finally told your loved ones about the struggle? Let alone the fact that after 7 years you finally beat it. Everything is normal now and you are working exactly how you should be. 

You went through a bumpy road of addiction. Not the hardcore kind, but it was bad enough to cause your liver to start shutting down. I still don't know how you managed to quit such an exasperating routine of pills and damaging your body with alcohol or having zero respect for health. But you're on the mend now, not a pill in sight. 

You're still single... lol. But on your 22nd birthday you were in a relationship for the first time in four years - Although it certainly didn't work out, you never let it change the way you see yourself. Not permanently anyway. I allowed you to feel not good enough for a matter of moments before you put your big girl boots back on. It all happened for a reason and if you hadn't of gone through it you wouldn't be so tough today. 

You moved out before you got your own place - to a new town! This is something I never saw you having the guts to do, but you did it and you left it behind in style. It was fun to party every weekend and live that student life you missed out on but it soon grew boring when you realised just how much you loved your home town and being close to your family and true friends. Family and friends have always meant everything to you. Amelia is still standing strong as your best friend through everything (despite how much you bug her everyday with your dramatics!!) and I think she's your soul sister.

You have new friends too, some you truly believe were supposed to come into your life to turn it upside down in the best way. Getting a new perspective on the old poisonous ways you were living before really has changed you for the better. 

The anxiety and depression came back while you lived away from home - and it was entirely understandable. Living in a situation where you were broken down in to tiny pieces by those who were supposed to be your friends really did get to you in the end. But, here you are now.  You suprised me at how resilient you could be in such an exhausting situation. One you felt like you wouldn't escape from for quite some time. 

You're still crying over boys, though. God, sometimes I want to throttle you because you're a sappy, needy little bitch. Love is still on the back burner but you're okay with it because you have met people who will change your life forever - even if they are only in it for a short amount of time. You would be so shocked to know how much more confident you are with the male species. I know how difficult it was for you to even look one in the eye at one point. There are still hints of insecurity and the negative thoughts do arise from time to time, but now they pass through your mind with ease. You've definitely bagged some 10/10s (in my opinion) I'll give you that. But, you also went back to your ex a few it familarity and comfort. Thank god you've now put an end to that, and you will quickly realise that it was no longer comfortable, or familiar. 

You know exactly what you have to offer now and honestly, despite your constant clinginess and need for attention, you're a great package tied with a silk ribbon. Any man would be lucky to have you because you care, you go above and beyond and always make sure everyone around you is happy. You're funny, quick witted and kind. I have grown to love you more than I love others, and that was the biggest challenge I have ever had to deal with. We got there in the end.

It feels like you have everything. There are still gaps to fill, you're trying your hardest to cope with unrequited relationships and weight loss still but now your mindset and attitude is more positive you no longer see this as a struggle, but more of a challenge to conquer. I would even go as far as saying you enjoy the challenge.

Please don't ever stop being you - your independent, weird and mental self. Just continue to improve her. 

Just like in the previous letter, I just wanted to let you know that no matter how hard life may seem, everything works out in the end. You are more than enough, you're only getting better. 

What would you say to your 21 year old self? Honestly, I find this exercise so therapeutic and positive. It's nice to reflect on both the positives and the negatives from time to time! Look how far you have come and how far you will go. It's all relative.

You can read more on my experience as a 21 year old in my first book: 21 - A Year in the Life 

Monday, 9 December 2019

Be Happy NOW. Stop waiting.

Stop relying on others to create your happiness. I'm more guilty than the next person - I become down and swim in negative emotions when I'm not getting enough attention from my favourite people.

Stop relying on others to create your happiness. I'm more guilty than the next person - I become down and swim in negative emotions when I'm not getting enough attention from my favourite people. And, when they do come around, I am ecstatic... nothing can touch me when I am in that mood of happiness.

It's dangerous to say the least. Especially when you spend your life trying to please everyone around you - even if you receive nothing in return. It's a tiring dilemma but I am learning to be selfish and make my own happiness.

Happiness isn't the same for everyone. It comes so differently to each person that it can be difficult to hold in your hands. A state of unhappiness, however, there is not a chance you can ignore it - and if you think you can, you'll soon witness it take over your life.

I will let you in on a little secret. Situations in life have very little to do with happiness... because happiness is entirely under your control. Your outlook on life and the habits you create consciously or subconsciously CREATE your happiness. Happiness is manufactured - you either want it, or you don't.

What works for you? I love going on an evening run, cooking and learning french. That makes me really happy. When you know, everything else - especially the difficult stuff - will feel much easier. 

I've compiled a list of things that come naturally to happy people so you don't have to:

- SLEEP. A good nights sleep can change your life. Put your phone down and listen to a relaxation playlist - be in tune with your thoughts and control your breathing. List 10 positive things currently in your life. I'm sure most people wouldn't dare let their phone drop below 10%, so why are you allowing your brain to do so? Recharge your mind body and soul and look after yourself - in turn, you will feel lighter. 

- Stop obsessing. Oops - my most agonising trait. There is something very clear about being in the know, and worrying about the outcome. Happy people allow themselves to be aware, but never fear the end result. Everything will work out in the wash. 

- Know your morals. Not everyone will think like you do. Not everyone will behave or act the same as you either - and that is okay! As long as you never squish your own morals to suit someone else. Lowering your standard not only affects your happiness, but will also desecrate your efforts. Stand your ground and stick up for what is right. Don't be scared - fear is only ever in the mind and regret is never far behind if you let it in. 

- Grow, and grow again. Your mindset is everything. Having a growth mindset will take you far in life. A fixed mindset will only hinder your progress long term. Everyone can change if they want it badly enough. People do bad things but that doesn't make us bad forever - not if we decide to change. A growth mindset can lead us to believe that we can improve with effort, resulting in a much happier lifestyle and daily outlook. Growth mindsets will also help you handle difficult situations in a more calm manner, and treating such as learning opportunities will also encourage happiness. 

- Stop fighting. Respond to your emotions and stop leaving them on the back burner. Put yourself first. Emotionally intelligent people know the importance of self-care and self-awareness. Talk about what hurts. Explain your wounds to someone who will support you and do the same for them. There is no other reward like it. 

- Exercise and hydrate! Even if it's for 15 minutes - move your body and drinking enough water each day will have a massive affect on you. When I started running I never realised how much I would enjoy exercise. Sometimes even putting music on and dancing like an idiot for half an hour changes everything. 

- Keep tidy. You know what they say, tidy environment, tidy mind. I would like to think I don't have this struggle, as I love a tidy home - however, once I feel an ounce of depression I will be living in a cesspit quicker than I can say ''I feel shitty''. Make your space your own, fill it with special things you love and adore. You will feel great without clutter or mess suffocating you.

- Help others. The one thing that adds value to my life is supporting other people. Taking the time to make someones day, even if it is minuscule, can really turn everything around. There is no time for bitterness or petty behaviour here. Helping people gives off a charge of ocytocin and serotonin. 

- Don't just say it, believe it. Three words. Law of attraction. A positive outlook on the future will fill you with glee. Don't just say ''Things will work out'', truly believe they will. It isn't as hard as it seems once you practise a little. The mind can be dangerous. Did you know we all have a painful habit of romanticising past situations? So much so that the present and future seem pointless in comparison. But, you have to believe that before those happy times, there were still happy times. If you can experience those memories, you can experience even more. 

Thursday, 10 October 2019

How to Stick the Fuck Up For Yourself: For Dummies...

It's time.

I know I haven't been on top form recently in regards to spreading the word about mental health. For that, I want to apologise. But, I also want to stand up for myself. Before, all of my social media accounts were set to public - so I could promote my blog and offer support to even strangers.

In more recent years I struggled with this. I craved the idea of a private life. I was heading into a relationship and that is something I wished to keep private - and I'm not being funny but in the way I was so public, I couldn't even imagine a man wanting to be with me in fear of exposing them to the world of no secrets. I couldn't blame them really, it is certainly off putting.

But not only that, I had to do it for myself and my own mental well being. I've made a name for sharing my personal stories and struggles in order to help others - I still want to do so, only now I want to keep some of it to myself. I find myself wanting to use social media less, not only that, but my phone entirely.

I'm not sure I can even offer advice in this 'stick up for yourself' era because everyone that knows me well enough knows that I am... in the most polite term... a pussy.

I made my way through school with my stronger, more confident friends (like Amelia, for example) fighting any type of battle for me - she even broke up with my boyfriend and argued for me at one point. Looking back I can't quite believe I could expect that of someone, especially when I couldn't bare to do it for myself.

This year had a lot of twists and turns which caused me to finally stand my ground and be the 'bad bitch' I was telling myself I could be. I moved away from my hometown and moved in to a house share with friends. These people are no longer my friends. Well, one of them still is, ironically it's not someone who I spent the last 7 years growing a strong friendship with. It truly is funny how life works, isn't it?

As much as it is sad I have to remember that when you fall out of friendships, it doesn't matter how long you were friends for - some people were never really your friends in the first place. And that is okay.

I had to stand up for myself in a time I felt most alone, miserable and depressed. I hated my toxic living situation and even though it was quite clear that I was suffering, me moving out suddenly made me the worst person on earth.

Doing something to help my mental health and putting myself first made me a bad friend. In previous years I would've cried with guilt and anxiety, wondering why I wasn't good enough and I would kiss everyone's feet in order to keep them happy rather than me. Fuck that now.

I am not a bad person or a bad friend. People who treat me with respect will receive respect back and I will continue to put me first, no matter how selfish it may seem, as long as it's rightfully done with my mental health in mind that is all that matters to me.

Please don't be afraid to stand your ground. Life is far too short to tip toe around others or fear doing any wrong! Think of it this way - no matter what you do or how many arses you kiss, someone in the world will think you are in the wrong regardless.

Sticking up for yourself can be tough at first, but making small changes will lead to a much bigger picture - a life where you are stronger than your negative thoughts, and you stand in your power no matter how relentless other people can be. You influence yourself only.

Small ways you can stick up for yourself today:

- Be assertive. True assertiveness is asking for what you want, all while remaining respectful to others. Standing up for yourself doesn't mean you have to be a dick.

- Never beat around the bush, but be clear and polite. Make it known to people whether something is okay or not.

- Prioritise yourself, you come first! Be selfish because your needs always come first in your life.

- SAY NO. My biggest issue in life has been my struggle to say no. Even when I'd rather keel over than say yes, I'll say yes with a smile on my face. ''No'' is okay when it comes to your needs and mental health.

- Standing up for yourself doesn't have to be fighting with people all of the time - pick your battles wisely because some people are not worth the energy drain.

- Set some mother effing boundaries. Set the tone for how you want people to treat you - this means being kind, respectful and well-mannered... until someone does you wrong of course.


I am loving putting me first and being the brave, confident and lively person I've always wanted to be. I have plenty of kind and selfless friends to thank for that. Real friends who will only ever wish for my happiness - no matter what decisions I decide to make. Making such a big decision really showed me who was there for me and who would never be.

As always, here for anyone who needs it. Always.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

It's Time We Protect Our Men.

''Man up,''

''Pull yourself together mate, grow a pair of balls.''

''Stop being a pussy''

Stop. Stop using the above terms to push your friends/family and strangers away. Did you know that men accounted for three-quarters of UK deaths by suicide in 2018? That is three-quarters too many.

Men get abused, men suffer from mental health issues, men have EMOTIONS. And it is about time that, we as a society, finally stop saying 'men do not protect us anymore', take a step back, and realise that it is about time that we protect our men. 

I don't want men to suffer in silence in fear of judgement. I want men to have the confidence to speak up about their feelings, whether it is to another man or a female, with ultimate trust and respect. It is no longer a case of being too 'strong, manly or tough', some of the most emotional men I know I consider to be the manliest in my life. Not only is it attractive to hold your own, knowing who you are inside and being able to have the strength to say ''Do you know what mate, I'm not doing so good at the moment.''

It's our job, as both men and women, to confront that sort of conversation with love and support. I'm not expecting muscle men to start stroking their best friends back of an evening. Just a simple conversation about why they are feeling that way, and what you can do in order to help them.

We have the make this movement permanent before we lose too many great men to drugs, alcohol, or the worst - suicide. I'm not telling you to forget about the struggles women have faced for years, I am asking you to recognise that the issues men face are often pushed to the side because we believe nothing can break them. There are plenty of broken men out there, some who you may believe are the 'hardest'. 

If you have a friend, family member or even a male colleague that hasn't been himself recently, perhaps he is quieter than usual or he might even be acting like a complete arse wipe... ask them if everything is okay and open that conversation. Even if they don't want to talk right away, let them know you are there if and when they need it. You will be surprised at how effective such a small simple step could change everything. 

It's no ones fault. We have always been programmed to believe that men are invincible, and that we don't need to check up on our male friends, because they would tell us if something was wrong, right? You are not a mind reader, especially when everything seems fine on the outside. There is no blame or punishment. 

Just remember to look after one another. And if any men are reading this blog, please know that I am someone you can open up to - stranger or not, if you need someone to talk to, vent to or just a chat, I will happily be that person.

Protect your men so that they can protect themselves. 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

It's OK to Put Yourself First - Even if You're an Empath

My empath ways have somewhat become very tedious within the past year.

They say an empath can easily pick up on other people's emotions, I drown in them. So much so, I refuse to surround myself with negative people because I instantly drop my good mood and unknowingly sympathise with their despair through my own emotions. It's insane to say the least, especially when the guilt of blocking out those people 'in need' attacks me.

This entire blog is based on looking out for people, being kind and giving love and support to those who need it. But, as I have grown stronger this year, I seem to have built a wall around my heart - not allowing those who do not deserve my respect anywhere near my empathetic mind.

It's a beautiful thing to want to be a good person - it's nice to put others first. But, it's even greater to put yourself and your own needs first - be a little selfish from time to time. I am slowly but surely learning that my own thoughts and feelings should be respected before I allow anyone else to absorb the empathy out of me.

I didn't even know what an empath was until I was told I was one. I realised I was one when I read that they 'filter the world through their intuition and have a difficult time intellectualising their feelings.'

There are many key traits that make an empath, but here are some of mine I am trying to overcome:

Incredibly sensitive

There is nothing wrong with being a little sensitive - I know what banter is and I know what it is not, but sometimes my sensitivity can cloud my judgement. People who are naturally empathetic quickly pick up even the slightest change in others energies. I will over analyse the way people speak to me one day and how they act the next and wonder what I have done wrong. Even though I know I haven't done anything. Empaths can “feel into” other people and have the ability to deeply understand their emotions, motivations, and feelings.

Instant intimate connections

I am very good at connecting with others - I make friends easily and I'm pretty confident in saying that you could put me in a room full of strangers and I will create relationships with at least a few of them. At the same time, a lot of people could probably say that I am 'too much'. Sometimes I can connect with people too quickly and intensely, and those people may not be able to keep up the pace. Resulting in me seeming overbearing or like I said, too much. 

Forgiveness comes naturally

A lot of the time, empaths see themselves in others. I can't help but always try to understand what people may be going through, so much so, I have given plenty of excuses for how people have treated me in the past. I am very aware of any emotional baggage that some people have to deal with, and why it might influence their behaviour to me, even if it is unacceptable. Instead of not allowing people to disrespect me, I will often find a reason/excuse as to why they are acting in such a negative way. 

Difficulty to say “no”

Saying no is rejection to me. I hate to say no, even when saying yes leaves me in the shit. The main reason as to why empaths struggle to say no is because they understand how painful it can feel to be rejected. Especially if someone is in need of help or support. This will often result in empathetic people taking on responsibilities without considering their own limitations.

A lot of empath traits are very similar, but ultimately it all ends in one struggle to overcome - putting yourself and your needs FIRST. 

I don't know why I find it so difficult to be selfish - a lot of the time my mind is very selfish, but my actions say otherwise. Recently I struggled immensely with moving house. I had managed to get my own place just in time for my tenancy I share with three housemates to end. However, because it was a few days out, I had the choice to leave when it ended and find someone to replace me, or pay DOUBLE rent for another month just to keep everyone else sweet. If everyone else had stayed, I could've found a replacement and had a much less stressful month. But, because everyone then decided to leave, the tenancy notice was extended for another month and although I was well within my rights to leave scot free, I struggled with my finances instead to benefit everyone else. 

A situation like this is my idea of hell. I wanted to be selfish, I wanted to pack my belongings and live my new life without a second thought but I couldn't deal with the guilt, even though I was seen as the bad person no matter what.

When you find it difficult to put yourself first, ask yourself this one very important question:

Would the other person do the same for you?

I fucking doubt it. 

Stop feeling guilty for how others might perceive you for putting your own needs ahead of theirs. It's not fair of anyone to hold such expectations over you anyway! Anyone who judges you for such acts of self care are NOT your friends or people you want in your life. Get rid of that toxicity asap.