Money – What Is It Good For?

I don’t think of myself as an extravagant or materialistic person. I couldn’t care less about the latest tech gadgets, I second-guess every item of clothing I buy, and meal plan meticulously to avoid wasting food. My only real vice is travel – I will happily splurge on flights for a destination I really want to visit or an experience I don’t want to miss out on – but even then I hunt for deals and stay in budget accommodation to cut down on unnecessary expenses. I suppose I ultimately believe that the best place for my money to be is in my bank account.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my grandma on the phone about the flat I’m currently renting, and a familiar topic came up. “Have you considered buying?” she asked (it sounds so simple when she says it). I replied that buying wasn’t a feasible option for me right now and that I wasn’t willing to put down roots just yet, to anchor myself in Leeds with a property. “You’ll have to settle down sooner or later” was her reply. She must think I’m older than I feel. Continue reading

Smoothies at Moments Cafe, Leeds

Little Things To Do In Leeds To Make You Feel Happy

We all have those down days or weeks – the ones where work is stressing us out or the to-do list is getting longer and longer or the city just seems a little bit too loud. My go-to solution when I feel down in the dumps is to book a holiday, but as much as we’d like it to be jetting off into the sunset whenever life feels a bit dreary isn’t always an option. So here’s my list of little things in Leeds that never fail to cheer me up. Continue reading

Same Same, But Different

If you’ve ever been to Thailand, you’ll know there’s a phrase that you see everywhere. Same same, but different. One of its most common uses is to refer to fake designer goods, but is also used more generally to mean something that’s largely the same, but with some small differences. Right now that’s kid of how my life feels. Same same, but different.

On the surface, not that much has changed in my life since I got back from my gap year travelling in August 2013. I’m still living in Leeds, close to my family, working for the same company who gave me my first proper job and hanging out with my Leeds-based friends who I’ve known since high school. But if you look a little closer, there are so many differences which reassure me I haven’t wasted the last three years (unless I have. Have I wasted the last three years? Oh god, what am I doing with my life?) Shush brain! Moving swiftly on… Continue reading

Choosing Your Own Adventures

Lifetime of Adventures quote

Image source: postsecret.com

In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, I’ve been seeing the above image around a lot, with the quote “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures…”. Largely shared on Pinterest or Facebook, and with the quote often attributed to Lewis Carroll, which made me really irrationally angry because COME ON CHECK YOUR SOURCES PEOPLE THIS WAS NEVER UTTERED IN ALICE IN WONDERLAND (In case you were wondering, I traced it back to a card on postsecret.com. Now you know). But after I got past my book nerd rage, I started thinking about life and relationships and adventure, and what they all mean to each other. Then this morning I read this article that Beverley over at Pack Your Passport referenced in her weekly newsletter, and a blog post started to formulate in my mind. I’m not sure quite where it’s going yet, so buckle up – it could be a windy road. Continue reading

Me, Myself and I: Going to the Theatre Alone

Last week I did something I’ve never done before. I went to the theatre, alone. I know, shocker right? People don’t do that. But it was the Shakespeare Schools Festival, I was interested, and nobody else I knew was. So I decided to fly solo.

I’ve always had a mindblock about doing certain things by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty major introvert and need regular alone time to recharge my batteries, but there are a lot of social situations where I just don’t feel comfortable without someone beside me. Eating in a restaurant is one. Going to the cinema or theatre is another.

The restaurant complex I can rationalise; I treat eating out as a social occasion and enjoy mixing food with good conversation, which is pretty hard to generate when all you have to talk to is the wall. The cinema thing is harder to explain away. Going to the cinema entails simply sitting quietly in the dark and watching a screen – it’s actually one of the most antisocial activities out there, so why does “one ticket please” sound so unnatural?

Social pressure plays a large part; when everyone around you is in pairs or groups it’s easy to feel conspicuously alone, even when engaging in an activity that doesn’t require group participation. It’s easy to feel like all these incredibly social, popular people are looking at you, wondering what you could possibly have done to have so few friends that you’re forced to venture out alone. The big revelation? They’re not. In fact, they’re so wrapped up in their own thing they probably haven’t even noticed you.

Understand that I’m not proclaiming this from some pedestal of enlightenment. Even having done it, I would not say I faced my solo excursion with confidence; I was initially perturbed that my theatre seat was in the middle of a row, and consequently arrived early to avoid having to disturb half a row of people as I struggled to my lone chair. I fiddled obsessively with my phone as I waited for the performance to start, and loitered uncertainly at the interval. I would usually have sat comfortably at the bar discussing the first act over a drink, but with no companion or conversation a large G&T seemed out of the question.

But if you want to talk about the performance itself – I loved it. I loved watching alone. By turning a cinema or theatre trip into a group activity, the watching also ceases to be an independent experience; I realised that even when I really enjoy a performance or film, there are always moments when I’m looking to my companion to see their reaction, or I’m aware of them doing the same to me. This time, I was free to absorb myself completely in the performance and focus solely on my own experience, and it was strangely therapeutic. I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely.

Would I do it again? I’m not writing it off. One of my favourite things about seeing something amazing is discussing it afterwards, so I did miss raving about the ‘West Side Story meets Baz Luhrmann’ mash-up of Romeo and Juliet on the way home, and I also missed my interval drink. But I like to think I’ve shook off some of the ridiculous insecurities, and in the future I won’t let a lack of an interested second party stop me from seeing something I really want to see. Here’s to being the lonely weirdo at the cinema – now if only I could raise a toast to myself…