I'M NOT THAT GIRL

I always wondered why those lyrics from 'Wicked' struck such a chord with me and I think I eventually found out tonight. I was one of those girls who was consistently single instead of constantly in a relationship. I was never 'with' anyone. Not because I particularly chose to be single but because two things happened simultaneously. One, no guys ever asked me out and two, I was always working. 

Now I say working and you're probably thinking of scholarly work, That's not the truth, though, I didn't particularly enjoy school and I wasn't very good at following orders, perhaps a major reason that I work for myself today. No, I was always striving for excellence within myself. I was born a perfectionist and anything I do, I want to be the very best at. When I was singing, I wanted to be the best singer in the world (I’m not) and my passion for progression towards perfection dictates that I work until I’m the best. That being said I was also quite a home body. I wasn't really the type to go out drinking every weekend. Call it whatever you like but I hated clubs and my parents hadn't attached a stigma to alcohol so from a certain age I was allowed to drink at home with them and so I guess I never really saw any reason to rebel against them. The opposite was true of my school. Good God, I rebelled in school. The heavy duty rules like no drugs or smoking I never had a problem with but the idea of controlling the colour of our shoes, stockings, socks and hair ties - the stupid rules, those I adored breaking. 

 

Now on to the topic of why nobody ever asked me out, I wouldn't say I'm an ugly looking person but I'll leave that to you judgemental internet people (haha) to decide since there are pictures of me all over this site. I can, however, come across as rather intimidating and it really is just who I am. It's more that I am a bundle of nerves than anything else really and the sheer fact that I get hugely uncomfortable. I would say that the more that I like you, the more awkward I am around you. If I don't know you, we can chat for days but the second I know you better and I have to start watching my Ps and Qs, I flounder. 

 

I often find myself asking the question after an event, launch or meeting, does he/she like me. And whilst lightly considering this might be important for personal development, it's not really a viable thought path unless you give each and every person you meet a questionnaire. Then the question arises, do I care and indeed should I care. I mean, would I re-adjust my attitude for every negative comment in the metaphorical questionnaire? The simple answer is no, I wouldn't. I mean, would you? How would you sift through all the comments and ticks and crosses in order to decipher whose opinion is worthwhile and valid and whose is not? You shouldn't need a questionnaire for that though should you? You could simply ask the people you care about for their opinion and if the same thing keeps coming up, maybe you need to re-evaluate. I mean, what do you care if Jack going down the street thinks you're a bitch if he's never met you? I am quite comfortable with who I am and long term I would want a man to stand next to me and be proud to stand with me for exactly that.  

Something else hit me like a ton of bricks tonight, I really like men who are slightly or entirely out of my reach.I would say that you don't quite meet my tastes if you aren't a bit on/off with me. If you reach for me, I tend to lunge in the other direction. Strange? Maybe, but in reality, people are always falling for people who are out of reach for one or another reason. I mean, movie stars are a prime example of that are they not?

As a blogger, I am consistently dealing with what I call 'heaving room syndrome'. It's the idea that when you are in a room which is full to the brim with people, you are still alone. Realistically, if you came alone, you are there alone even when you are absolutely surrounded by people. Whilst simply being alone doesn't equate to loneliness, over time, it seems to morph quietly from one to the other. Seeing something pretty and not having anyone to turn around to and mention it, that's all. Every time I attend an event (alone) that's just how I work best, I sort of dream of someone being along for the ride, right by my side for the evening. Someone who is mine but there entirely for me because so far, the people I have invited along have done nothing but embarrass me. For me, the very idea of someone standing with you, just quietly and being 'yours' in a crowded room is romantic. And perhaps romance has changed then? Or at least it has for me.

 

Tonight in a room full of creative people, maybe three of whom I knew and knew me, I suddenly realised that I am in fact in love but not with a man, rather the idea of a man, at least right now. This realisation begs the question, how do you know when you are falling for someone vs simply falling for the idea of them? I don't know but I do know this, I am in love with the man who loves me exactly as I am, warts and all. So right now, no, I'm not that girl but I'm my own girl and today, tonight, that's enough...

 

I'm enough, You're enough, It's enough 

 

 

 

 

THE OH SH*T BILL (and why everyone should be allowed one)

It is generally accepted that people, especially young people but people, in general, make bad decisions when it comes to money. Whether it's the absurd decision to buy a ridiculously overpriced handbag or ending up with the credit card bill from hell, we've all been there at least once. But everyone makes mistakes and it's how we learn and grow and thus, the 'Oh Sh*t Bill'.

The premise of the 'Oh Sh*t bill' is that everyone is allowed one screw up which doesn't have any major consequences. It's basically a 'get out of jail free card' for real-life fiscal fuck ups.  It can be for either minor or major financial screw-ups but is usually reserved for the really big, terrifying ones. 

The history of the Oh Sh*t Bill (which will be referred to as an OSB from now on due to the fact that the star thingy is a real pain in the arse to type out repeatedly and I'm lazy) is as follows. My Dad's old boss somehow ended up in a club in Dusseldorf (I can only assume that some kind of alcohol was involved) and ended up spending all of the budgeted money for the trip. He came clean to his boss about it (presumably this was after a major freak-out the next morning) and his boss let it slide saying that everyone was allowed one 'OSB'. My Dad's boss later had the pleasure of passing on this favour when my Dad, tasked with entertaining a group of clients in Cape Town ended up putting the entire bill on the company tab, that is the entire bill...It was a lot of money. Oops.  

It should be mentioned that my father is a very smart man and is unfailingly kind. So, my OSB came about when I went on a trip to England when I was 15 or 16 (and yes I know that I'm very privileged) it was a time when more people had Blackberrys than iPhones and data roaming was a fairly new thing. I sense that many of you will probably have guessed where I'm going with this. I got back to South Africa and promptly got a text message from my carrier at the time saying something along the lines of 'Your bill is now over R11 000' or something to that effect (that's about 600 quid by the way). I actually thought it was a joke, that's how little I knew about data and data roaming. Basically, I had forgotten to switch my data roaming off. I told my parents immediately and my Mum had a minor freak out about it but ultimately recovered quickly and my Dad said it was okay and this was my OSB and was not to be repeated. 

Worth mentioning is that I love nice things and would definitely buy a Bentley and only wear Gucci given half the chance. Liking nice things is no big deal as long as you have the money to pay for said nice things. Also worth mentioning is that my parents trust me, like they really trust me. They trust me so much that I have a credit card on their account which I've had now for a few years. It is also worth mentioning that I am an idiot who is easily confused by nice handbags. I should explain...I found myself invited to the opening of the very first H&M store in South Africa and the store was opening with the launch of H&M X Balmain. This was my very first blogging event invite and I was very excited. It turns out that I cant be trusted to make good decisions with a credit card which doesn't belong to me when there are lovely, expensive designer pieces around. I wanted everything but I settled for a R3000 handbag. I didn't have enough money because I wasn't working or earning any money but this was a one time opportunity so I just used my parents' credit card. 

Needless to say, they were not happy with said purchase of overpriced handbag but I insisted on keeping the bag. This time, as I had used up my one OSB, I paid them back with some of my savings but even writing this sorry story makes me cringe. I used the bag a couple of times and then became too concerned about it getting ruined (it is suede) to take it out. It remains in my wardrobe in South Africa. I don't want to sell it because I cant get my money back but I don't use it. I was warned of this when I insisted on keeping it. I am an idiot. 

I wanted to share some of the stories of my (many) monetary fuck ups. I am not perfect, I am in fact so far from perfect that it's laughable. IF you are making these kinds of mistakes, congratulations...you are growing up and part of growing up is failing epically. We're all allowed the occasional fuck up and it's totally okay to make mistakes. 

If you've done some crazy money spending or relate even a little bit to any of these stories, let me know in the comments below 

Love, Katie 

HOW TO GET FIRED

Okay so this doesn't sound like the kind of post that any reasonable person might read but you should. I've been fired twice while I've lived in England and I've had three jobs...to be honest, this is not great statistics-wise. However, in some jobs, in fact in the two that I got fired from, I hadn't actually even got through my probationary period. This sounds shit...it is, it truly is. 

Here's the thing...as long as you don't lie on your CV or during your interviews and you are honest about who you are, what your skills are and what you can bring to the table...it's not your fault if you don't make it through the trial period. This was not particularly apparent to my brain yesterday though when I got taken in for 'the talk' after only 6 days at the company. By the way, by 'the talk', I mean the 'we don't like your work/think you're right for the job/believe you can do this' talk and not the sex talk...that would be infinitely worse. 

To say I felt like shit would be an understatement. Basically, my boss didn't like the job I was doing and expected more of me (within a week apparently) but this isn't actually very fair. I was myself during the interviews and told them only the truth about my abilities and the work I had done. I am 23 years old and I have about as much experience working in an office as the average cat. They knew when they hired me what I could do and somehow, a weird assumption was made that in fact, I'd been lying about my talents in the opposite way...that I'd somehow been underselling myself. 

There is not a person in this world who doesn't make mistakes and fail occasionally, it's part of life. The best thing about mistakes and failures is learning from them. As long as you're learning from your mistakes, you aren't failing, you're just learning and growing. Essentially, there were one or two things that I definitely could have improved on but I didn't get the chance. The thing about employing someone in their twenties is that no matter how highly qualified and how good they are at their job, they will screw up because that is how you learn and grow and get better at your job. 

Both of the jobs that I got 'fired' from were in the fitness industry and I think I might have finally got the message that I just don't belong in fitness. I somehow managed to make the same mistake with two different companies.  That first job was stressful and horrible and I spent a lot of time crying even before I was 'let go'. The people weren't nice at all and I found myself being constantly badmouthed when they thought I couldn't hear them. 

My first boss really was an awful little man who thought a lot of himself and was really good at manipulating employees, particularly the female ones. He was quite rude and quite mean. It stands to reason that when he fired me, I cried. I cried right there in his office and it wasn't the silent and dainty kind either. This probably reinforced the idea that I was too young and immature to him but really, sometimes you just cry and you can't help it. I made things much worse for myself by begging him to reconsider, which he was definitely not going to do. Looking back, I know that my actions on that day were not good and I could have dealt with it much better. I don't like him and I have little to no respect for the company because of the way in which I was dismissed and the way in which I was treated whilst I was there. However, this isn't meant as a hateful post so I'm not going to go into it. 

After that job, I took a job in luxury retail...the job was okay but my boss there was a wonderful woman who respected and appreciated me. She was a great mentor and leader and she taught me a lot while I was there. I did not get fired from that job. That job, however, included a lengthy commute from the depths of Kent to London every day which easily took 4 hours extra off my day and sometimes I would end up working 7 or more days in a row without a break. I enjoyed the selling and the clients, I built great relationships with my colleagues and learnt a lot both about myself and others but I couldn't continue. 

It's hard to admit it but for me, London was just too much. There are so many people and its always so busy. I always ended up feeling alone and like it had managed to suck out all my energy. It was because of that and my respect for my mood and body that I decided to leave and start over in Brighton. 

Before I could move to Brighton though, I needed a job. I didn't actually even reach out to them, they found me. What I didn't realise in the midst of my desperation to settle down and get a job was that this was the same job and the same style of company as my first company. It was only the week before I started that I began to have doubts because, thinking laterally, it was so so similar to that job I'd been fired from. 

It just so happens that in fact, I was right and this job was exactly like the first job. I tried really hard there, I honestly did. I was nice to everyone, took all the criticisms on board (and all I actually got was criticism) and looked happy even though the constant negativity from my boss was making me very unhappy. I tried everything in my power to impress her and I failed but I honestly don't believe that there was anything else I could possibly have done, I don't think I could have impressed her if I stood on my head and whistled 'God Save The Queen' through my asshole. There was just something about it and we just didn't gel for whatever reason. Funnily enough, I feel no hatred for the company at all, I just wish that they'd at least allowed me a month to prove myself. 

Here's the key thing though, when she told me that they had decided to 'let me go' I didn't cry or freak out (externally). I was shaken but I managed to calmly explain to her that I didn't believe that they had given me enough time to prove myself and that I had more to give. I also expressed to her that I understood and thanked her. In the spirit of full disclosure, I did end up crying when I got back to my desk but it was just drippy and sniffly, at no point did I bawl and at the end, I turned in what I had done (in my first job, I rather spitefully deleted it all but I don't believe they would have wanted it anyway), thanked her, told her that I hoped we would get to work together again sometime (albeit a bit tearfully), she gave me a tissue, walked me out and thanked me. 

If I can give you my top tips on being fired (because shit happens) 

  • Don't ever beg for your job back, that is below you
  • Don't expect them to change their minds but do explain why you disagree with their decision (try not to do this while bawling)
  • Don't spitefully delete everything, even if they have treated you abominably and you are thinking of ways to burn the place down
  • Don't ever be rude (or as my Dad likes to say, don't burn bridges as you just never know where you will end up)
  • Try your best not to cry, although this is just human so if you do, just give a watery apology
  • Clear up your desk, pack everything up and just leave
  • If you're feeling very teary and trying to walk down the road, I suggest an audiobook or song to distract you. Try to take deep breaths and don't walk in front of traffic. 
  • Don't get angry, it's over
  • Do whatever you can to end it on good terms
  • Go home and have a good wallow (for how to have a good wallow, see Daisy Buchanan's book: How to Be a Grown Up - Chapter 12 you can get this book from Audible if you click on this link (http://tidd.ly/bc57b896) or click on the link below.

THE REAL REASON I WAS BACK IN S.A SO SOON AFTER MY LAST TRIP

This is a hard one for me to write. Recently, I've had a few problems and I haven't been well which has unfortunately had a negative impact on the blog as well as on me. As you'll most likely know, around 8 months a go I made one of the hardest decoisions of my life and decided to up and move to the U.K. and make a life for myself there. Of course, I won't lie to you, it's been extremely difficult being far away from friends and Family. 

One of the things you don't realsise when you first decide to move from one country to another is just how much admin is involved. It's all sorts of things like changing doctors and moving medical history across etc. 

I learnt rather quickly that medicine prescribed in one country actually has to be re-prescribed in the other country and all the relevant tests have to be done. For years now, I have been on my parents medical aid and have had a long list of prescription medications which I have always taken. One of these medications is called adco alzam. I have been taking this particular medication since I was around 19 and I would never have had any idea how dangerous it was for me to be taking it long term if I hadn't moved to the U.K. Adco alzam is actually Xanax and is a highly, highly addictive drug. So, this is the part where i request that if you've been on adco-alzam or xanax for longer than a few days to a week, you call a trusted medical practitioner (probably best for it not to be the one who is happily prescribing the xanax on a monthly basis and ask for help). I REPEAT, THIS DRUG IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE AND YOU CANNOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GET OFF IT WITHOUT THE HELP OF A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL AND YOU CANNOT JUST STOP TAKING IT AS SIDE EFFECTS OF JUST STOPPING CAN BE DEVASTATING OR EVEN DEADLY. 

Anyway, the NHS actually can't prescribe Xanax and so the doctor told me that she would be prescribing Diazepam and that it would be fine, I could simply swap over from Alzam to Diazepam and it would be fine. Needless to say, it was NOT fine. The Diazepam it turns out, interacts very very badly with my anti-depressant which is called Fluoxitane. With the Diazepam, I became suicidal and started self-harming. I lost control of my bladder, I lost my memory, I couldn't remember the simplest of things, I was dizzy and severely nauseous all the time. I barely ate and slept once through an entire 20 hours followed by a full nights sleep the next night. I was very unwell and the consequences of the medication were at the very least dire. I was (and I don't say this lightly)on the brink of just jumping in front of an oncoming train or off a bridge and I honestly think I might have if the circumstances had presented themselves. I couldn't function at work, I could barely wake up in the morning. I was put on suicide watch. I went back to South Africa due to severe stress and mental illness. My parents paid for me to go back and I needed it, needed the time off and to just be. 

Whilst all this was going on, I was struggling to keep my head above water. So, here is my apology to you, my lovely readers and followers. I'm so sorry that the blog has been unreliable of late but I am back on Xanax and busy slowly weaning myself off. I am doing my best to update the blog as often as I can and I will get back into the swing of things as soon as I can. In the meantime, thank you so much for sticking by me! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE STORY OF ARI&ME AND LEAVING HER BEHIND

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Aria has been a huge part of my life since I got her as a birthday gift in 2011. When I got here, she was just a little bundle of fluff, about the size of the palm of my hand and my favourite thing in the entire world. She was so small, and had such little legs that she couldn’t make it up (or down) any steps and slopes were nigh to impossible. It was in a carpark in the outskirts of Krugesdorp (holla Krugersdorp and SA) that I chose Aria and my life changed forever. My grandparents wanted to get me a puppy for my birthday and there had been a lot of begging involved. Finally, Dad agreed and said I could have her. Nana and Popa said I could choose any puppy, any breed and I could have it. It was almost impossible to find a miniature Maltese but I had my heart set on having one and my internet search was unrelenting to say the least. Eventually, I found Ari and her siblings on Gumtree (which I know now is more than a little sketchy). There were only three puppies left and my Grandparents drove me out into Krugersdorp to go and choose one of the three. All of them were lovely and so, so cute. One though, came to my feet, leant against me and started licking my toes. That puppy was Aria. 

 

It was a steep amount that Nana and Popa had to lay out for my birthday gift but I can only thank them and maintain that it is to this day, the best birthday gift I have ever received. Aria has, many a time, saved my life and for that, I am eternally grateful. After the money changed hands, we were given Aria with her certification and all her vaccinations and off we went. I had nothing for this dog and I mean nothing. When she got back to our house, she didn’t have a bed, she didn’t have food…she literally just had me. I think that the first night she would only eat from my hand whist sitting on my lap and a vague memory says she was given chicken and rice. When I got her home, I sat her on my bed (risky I know) and at that point I only had a three quarter bed. Now, I had a few month old puppy on the bed and she obviously needed to go to the bathroom but had no idea how to communicate this to me. But instead of just weeing on the bed, she wandered around the bed, found a piece of paper and had a wee on that instead. Ari has always been special and she has always had an immense understanding of me as a human and all my weird, personality traits and moods.

 

Since then, we have had a bond which has been unbreakable. I did everything with her, she even came to school to visit me while I was still there. She shone a light through the dark clouds that haunted my later teenage years and to this day, I can look into her eyes and feel the veil of sadness lift. I see her and almost automatically, something inexplicable shifts and I can breathe again. Since 2011, she has been with me, shared meals and happiness and and sadness; she has slept beside (or even on top of) me in our bed with me every night. She has danced with me, showered with me, swam with me and chased me through parks. My whole life since 2011 is Aria covered and it’s something that I simply couldn’t be more grateful for. 

 

Leaving her was the worst…is the worst. I’m up to a count of three times now, three times that I’ve left with the promise of coming back to fetch her and not knowing when. I have promised three times that come hell or high water I will get her to England and that we will be reunited. The first time very nearly broke me when I knew I was going to England and I didn’t know when I’d be able to have her but the second was somehow worse. I’d just assumed that I would go to England, get a job, keep said job for at least three months, rent a flat and then move her here. The course of life never did run smoothly though and I ended up with an absolute bastard as my boss for my first job. He treated me like crap and promptly fired me after just a month of working there with no real reason at all. Suddenly, just like that…I was back where I started and I didn’t have job nor a salary. I had to find another job and quickly and I did but it doesn’t pay as well and I can’t afford to have a flat much less Aria. I had promised her that I’d be back to get her and whilst I was back, I couldn’t have her and it cut me to the core. 

 

I miss her terribly though and my mood is always lower without her than it ever is when i’m with her. I see her and the veil lifts, I leave her as I did again today still with the promise of coming back as soon as possible and getting her (and I will) and it breaks my heart. I feel physical pain without her by my side. For now at least, I have to do whats best for her and right now, that doesn’t match what’s best for me but that’s just the way it is. It is what it is for now. I can understand…she can’t. 

 

Ari, the reason the blog is called Ari&Me, I love you and I miss you.

LONG HAUL FLIGHT? SORTED

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Digital & Restricted Items 

Always store your laptop in an easy-to-reach place. We all know how difficult security can be and you don't want to add to your own stress and the stress of others by having to rummage around to find all your bits and pieces which need individually scanning through security. Keep them in your handbag and easy to reach and move things around post security. Stress = Avoided 

                                                                             

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Keep Warm

Always pack a blanket or if you're tight on space, pack a scarf which can double as a blanket on the plane. The blankets provided are always thin, flimsy and not very warm. Its much easier to survive if you're at least warm. 

 

 

 

 

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Airport Lounges

You can pre-book yourself into an airport lounge from around 30 quid and it's definitely worth the money! A peaceful and calm atmosphere away from the craziness of families and kids with the added bonus of free drinks and snacks. 

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Free WiFi?

Find it, seek it out and use it. Seriously, one of the most difficult things about long-haul flights is how long you are offline for. Use the time waiting for your flight to do some work, catch up on emails or just chat to your friends and family.

 

 

Bring Baby Wipes or Hand Sanitiser

Airports and aircrafts are damned dirty places. Millions and millions of people go through them each day and thus are touching the same surfaces and using the same things as you. 

 

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Netflix & Fly 

Download any programmes you might want to watch during your flight from Netflix. With Netflix, you can download and save series and movies to watch at a later date and when you're offline. Just download the app, and download your faves and you're all set.

 

 

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Books

As lovely as a good book is, they take up space and weight and it can be very hard on your eyes to focus for periods of time that are that long. I find an audiobook such a fabulous alternative as you can just sit back, relax and listen without needing any external source of light. It means you can listen for as long as you want and get deeply involved without bothering anyone at all! 

TRAVEL BUCKET LIST 2018

1. IRELAND

BELFAST:

  • Titanic museum; 
  • The Giants Causeway; 
  • The Old Bushmills Distillery; 
  • Botanic Gardens, 
  • Grand Opera House, 
  • Belfast Castle, 
  • The Golden Mile, 
  • St Georges Market, 
  • Carrickfergus Castle, 
  • Cavehill, 
  • Parliament Buildings.  

 

GALWAY:

  • Galway City Museum
  • Lynch Memorial Window
  • Dunguaire Castle
  • Galway Atlantaquaria 
  • Hall of the Red Earl
  • Galway Arts Centre
  • Oranmore Castle
  • Terryland Castle 

 

DUBLIN:

  • Guinness Storehouse
  • St Stephen's Green
  • Dublin Castle
  • Jameson Distillery
  • Ha'penny Bridge 
  • National Gallery of Ireland 
  • National Leprechaun Museum
  • Irish Whisky Museum

 

2. NEW YORK

 

  • Central Park
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • MOMA 
  • Empire State Building
  • Times Square 
  • Ground Zero 

3. PARIS

  • Eiffel Tower
  • The Lourve
  • Notre-Dame
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Le Marais
  • Montmartre

4. GREECE

  • Acropolis of Athens
  • Parthenon
  • Acropolis Museum
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus
  • Elafonisi
  • Myrtos Beach
  • Theatre of Dionysus

5. VENICE

  • Piazza San Marco
  • Saint Mark's Basilica
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Grand Canal
  • Venitian Lagoon
  • Lido di Venezia
  • Murano Glass Museum

OBSERVATIONS OF A NOVICE COMMUTER

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I have spent the past couple of months observing commuters and to be honest, they’re all a bit like horses at the starting gate. London is essentially one bizarre and never-ending sprint from one place to another whilst maintaining as little contact with others as possible. I once said bless you on the train when a woman sneezed and you would have thought I'd cursed their elders from the looks they gave me. Looks of absolute wonderment and complete astonishment, transfixed by the fact that someone had uttered not only a single sound but that it was directed towards another person and sans malice. This is a seriously odd country, I mean you can drink beer, prosecco or liquor of any kind on trains here while the Gautrain won't even allow chewing gum. 

In regards to drinking on public transport, I always sort of frowned upon the very idea of having a drink on public transport and yet, when the old man across from my seat on the train who keeps shooting me unwarranted judgemental looks eventually leaves (hoping this happens sooner rather than later) I will inevitably open my pre-made G&T from M&S (Marks and Spencer - supermarket in case you didn't know) . The fact that they have cans of pre-mixed drinks of any sort available at the train station bemused me (still does a bit). I want to drink it as bluntly as the woman who was sitting behind me, asking someone at home to put the oven drank her prosecco. She just opened her miniature bottle of prosecco and literally (and I am NOT kidding here) poured it into a disposable champagne glass which she miraculously had in her handbag and sipped. I want to say it was weird but I kind of admire her for it. See, the thing is, it’s past eight in the evening already and I'm on a train still about 20 minutes from my destination. I had my bloody lunch at Pret at about 1h30 (to my stomach, it may as well have been last century). I’m hungry and tired and I understand. Actually, fuck it, if he’s not getting off at the next stop which I have a feeling is Kemsing, I'm opening it anyway because I want to and I kind of want to get his reaction. Also, after this train ride, I still have to walk through the town centre and then catch the bus. It's also cold here, did I mention that it's cold here? By the way, I was right and the next station was Kemsing. Also, shit…he’s still here! 

Anyway, back to commuters and their rather horse-like behavior. Instead of dangling a carrot in front of them, nobody even has to. It starts with the innate want that all humans have for stuff (and yes even you who's reading this thinking, I don't lust after stuff, I call bullshit on that). If we didn't want anything there would be absolutely no value to getting up every morning to go to work but we do. Like a horse and its carrot, we long for a better life and rewards (the guys getting up! Yeah G&T time) instead of dangling it though, our bosses know we want it. We actually somewhat willingly (by that I mean without actually being policed and forced to do so) get out of bed, shower, get dressed in clothes we work our asses off to pay for and then pay to get on a train to go to work. If most people were honest, and I actually like the job I do right now, they'd quit tomorrow if they won the lottery. 

By far the funniest and silliest thing I witness day to day on my commute is the evening past-time of all queuing up in front of the boards which display the train times, destinations and of course…the all-important platform number. People are literally standing there en mass, not talking, not moving and just staring blankly up at their board waiting for the all important information. This though is where the fun really starts. The second the platform is announced, it’s like horses at a starting gate. And they're off running towards the barriers with contactless cards, oyster cards and travel cards held aloft pushing each other out the way and racing to get through the barrier first. This is a weird thing to ‘win’ because it culminates in another waiting game…queing for the train. It's novel to say the very least. I’ve eventually opened earlier mentioned gin and tonic and it's strong. There may be a bottle of gin in here or maybe they forgot the tonic? Oh well, I’ll sleep well. Can’t very well be judgey of others anymore though can I? 

REAL VS FAKE #HASTAGS AND #HARSHREALITIES

If I say the word 'real' what do you think of? What do you associate with being real and reality? Here's a reality check, nothing is real these days. So, is being 'fake' about shielding others from the real you, or is it more the complete opposite? Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook work on the basis of perception. You only post certain images to your accounts and they go through rigorous checks before posting - am I right, right or right? How many people here have actually posted a 'no make-up selfie' to Instagram with no make-up on? If you're like me and you really have posted a real one, how many filters did you use, how many apps did it go through and would you ever have considered doing so when your skin wasn't at its best? I think I can answer that for you, no, absolutely not! Truth is, I won't Snapchat anything before reapplying some lipstick and checking my hair. Does that mean I'm fake, though? The simple answer would be yes. But I'm not 100% sure that it's all as cut and dry as we'd like to think. 

 

Ask me the question and I would reply that I wouldn't consider myself a fake person. Why? Because I take real selfies sometimes? No, I don't think that real vs fake really revolves around any social media. You see, the social media platforms themselves are fake but using them doesn't make me fake. Do I take pictures of myself crying on my bedroom floor and post them to Insta? No, that would be mad but strangely enough, it's not exactly that I wouldn't want other people to see it, I just don't want to admit that sometimes I am only human. I don't really want the whole of Instagram or Snapchat to know every single detail of my life. Because, and here's the real crux, they actually aren't that interested. It's like when someone says 'Hi, how are you' and if you told them how you really felt, they'd run a mile because they aren't actually interested, they were just being polite. Nobody wants to ride the bus with you when the limo breaks down, right?*

 

People go onto social media not only to see what other people are up to, but also to get away from reality. Social media is hardly a reality check, it's the opposite, it's sort of a haven where a generation which struggles most with depression and all that goes along with it can take refuge and showcase the good parts of their lives. Its also a breeding ground for comparison and thus anxiety etc (but that's for another day). 

 

Remember those jars where you would write down something good that had happened that day and you would do it religiously every day? Then when you were unhappy, you could re-read all the good things as a reminder of how great life really is? Well, I think that's what social media is for all intents and purposes. It is a jar where we keep our proudest, greatest and happiest moments to look at and share not only with everyone else but ourselves...because life can be quite gloomy.

 

*Oprah quote (indirect) 

Oh and thanks to Arye Kellman for being the inspiration for this post (well your show anyway)

 

MAKING CHANGES: WHAT I'VE LEARNT SO FAR

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Let me start off by saying that I definitely do not know everything and I'm not trying to claim that I do. What I do want to share with you guys is what I have experienced and learnt so far in the hopes that it helps at least one person. If you are going through something similar and have anything to add, please feel more than welcome to contact me and let me know. 

 

 

1. It's REALLY hard

When I say it's hard, I don't just mean it's tough. I mean it's much more difficult than I would ever have imagined. I see families together and feel so jealous. My Mum, Dad and I are such a close knit family, like best friends. You lose your 'normal'. You no longer have easy contact with friends and you can't just meet for coffee. It's hard because even though you do still have those people, they're far away and you'll have days when you just feel lonely. That's okay...realise that it's normal and that tomorrow is another day. 

 

2. Commute

More than likely you'll have to commute in the beginning. London is expensive (everyone says it and everyone knows it). Unless you really are one of the few very wealthy people, you won't be moving straight into your dream apartment in London. Don't let this stop you because hard work will inevitably lead there. If you're really lucky (like I am) and you have family to stay with, count your blessings, realise how much they're doing for you and thank them for everything they do for you. The commute will add at least two hours to your day in total. I leave just after 6 in the morning and just make my 9 am start time (usually plus 5 minutes - sorry Kirsty). I leave work at 5 and then get back home at around 19h45. It makes your day long and tiring, be prepared for this. 

 

In saying this, you will be tired for the first week. Like dead on your feet tired. You'll get through it. Try to get as much sleep as possible as it definitely does help. 

 

3. Money

You'll be poor for the first few months and you know what, you'll survive. If you watch my videos on my Youtube channel, you'll see that next week's video is dedicated to fashion on a strict budget which should help you along for the first few months. I will also be doing a video on living strictly on a budget in terms of the best shops for budget necessities and beauty products. Having a small amount of money to work with builds character and it's something which will inevitably stand you in good stead for the future. Also, my Mum mentioned a few times to me about spending during your first month of work...try not to do it (or to spend as little as possible). Only spend the money you have and you haven't been paid yet. It will be tempting though because you're working so hard and #treatyoself will be in the back of your mind. 

 

4. Support

Can't say too much on this but where you can find support, take it and accept all the help you are offered. If you are confused or unsure, ask for help because people will generally help you if you ask. Also, ask questions about anything and everything...if you don't know which train you need, ask and ditto for everything else. 

 

5. The act of being an adult (not really) 

Being an adult (adulting as I like to call it) is really hard. It's supremely difficult to walk through the door at 19h45 and start cooking something to eat. Use Tesco, Sainsbury, M&S and Waitrose ready meals. There are some great freezable meals available and all you have to do is chuck it in the oven for 30 minutes or so and boom, a healthy(ish) meal. Also mentionable under this topic is cooking things and knowing when they're cooked. The other night I wasn't sure about how to cook prawns and Siri was an absolute saviour (prawns go pink when cooked). Also worth noting here is that you will inevitably do some stupid things...an example of one of these things might be leaving your curling iron/straightener on all day. It's a mistake and more than likely you won't actually burn down the house but be careful and most importantly learn from it. 

 

6. Meeting new people

This is probably the most terrifying thing on the list. It's absolutely nerve wracking going into a situation where you know absolutely nobody but its life and its necessary. The best advice I can give here is to simply dive right in. You have to initiate conversation which is extremely hard but once that hurdle has been jumped, you're pretty much there. 

 

7. Rejection

It's always tough to deal with rejection and if you're moving to a new place, it will inevitably happen. Between the applying for jobs and meeting new people aspects, you are bound to be rejected a couple of times. The best way to deal with it is just to know how awesome you are and try not to let it bother you. If necessary you can also have cry in between (then get over it though because it just isn't the end of the world). 

 

8. Nothing is permanent 

If you move to a different country, it will inevitably be difficult and you'll have moments when all you want is to go home. It's vital to give yourself enough time to adjust and a great way to do this might be to set a deadline of 6 months. If you're truly still unhappy after that time period, you can always go home and re-think. The same applies to jobs. I have been so lucky in that the job that I do is something I enjoy and I also have the bonus of a great boss and working at a fab company. 

 

9. You don't have to be perfect

You will make mistakes and get things wrong, It is inevitable. There is no such thing as a perfect person and to be quite frank, nobody expects you to be. Whether you make mistakes in a job or just generally within life, it doesn't matter as long as you learn from them. 

 

10. We are lucky

Being able to live a life like I do, being able to follow your dreams and do what you want to do and what you love doing is so special and we need to realise this. It is too often that we focus on the bad things that happen and what we don't have rather than what we have and just how lucky we are. Also, how lucky that we live in such a connected world where you can speak to your parents and friends face to face. 

 

11. Thank You 

I this part, I'd just like to really thank my parents and family for being so great (you don't HAVE to read this part if you are not a family member)

Thank you first to my Mum and Dad, I know how hard this is for you. I miss you like hell and I miss just being able to touch you and say good morning to you. It's the simple things in life that I miss the most. Thank you for helping me out in terms of money...for not allowing me to start off in debt and for helping me as much as you possibly can. I love you more than you could ever know.

 

To my Aunt who has taken me in. Thank you so much, Mary. You have been a blessing and you have done so much for me. You help me along and give moral support, love and a place to stay. I am forever grateful to you for everything you have done and I love you so much! 

 

To my grandparents, thank you for the constant messages of support. It means the world to me. More than that though, thank you for supporting Mum and Dad through this. 

 

To my British family, thank you to all of you (you know who you are) for including me and integrating me into the family. I love you all so much and I am forever grateful to all of you. It can't have been easy to suddenly have an extra person but you have made me feel nothing if not welcome. 

 

Thank you for reading and I hope that this helps someone out just a little.

Love, Katie 

 

 

 

MAKING A BIG MOVE

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I have long aspired to live and work in London. It's difficult when it's a long time dream to ever see it actually happening and turning from a dream into reality. Leaving home was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do. If you are thinking of a similar move which is straight from the house you've lived in your whole life, I can't sit here and lie to you. It will not be easy. Ultimately, it's a decision for you and you alone to make. You need to feel that the pros outweigh the cons and that its something you really want to do. The reason I might seem to be overstating the need for being absolutely positive about it is simple. It's really hard and inevitably, at some points, on some days all you want to do is jump on a plane and go back home. You will cry and you will feel sad. You will miss your friends and family and you will feel like you're a million miles away. I won't bother telling lying and saying that I haven't ugly cried on the phone to my Mum and Dad more times than I care to remember. 

I still don't think that it has quite hit me that England is my new home. It's where I live now, it's hard to get to grips with. I still feel like I'm either on holiday or in some sort of weird dream. I constantly feel like I should be packing my suitcases back up and going back 'home' to South Africa. Sitting here and writing this blog post in Joe&The Juice in London is bizarre, to say the least. I'm looking out over Oxford Circus and seeing all the people, the people who as a little girl I desperately wanted to become one of, and here I am. I am looking for flats to rent in London and finding my feet here. None of it feels real. 

Within a week of being in the UK, I got sick and it felt like I was dying. I am used to my Mum being there for me. Used to her bringing me medicine and tea and looking after me and suddenly, she wasn't there. Living with my Aunt is different (not bad but different), at home I knew where all the medicine was kept and I knew what we kept in the house. I ended up in Boots and Superdrug finding medicine and have spent a casual £50 on medicine alone to date (someone help me please). It's sudden independence and it's hard and weird and difficult and at times I just wanted out. I'm lonely a lot of the time at the moment but I know it will go away. I know I can do this.

This is just the beginning of a dream slowly turning into a reality. I am so nervous and so excited. I miss home more than life itself. I miss being able to go out with my Mum and Dad on the weekends and drive my own car around. I miss having my dog with me all the time and my friends being close at hand. I also miss South Africa and its stupid power cuts and obnoxious government. I miss it all. I don't know whether that ever goes away really. Whether you ever stop missing it, yearning for it...somehow, I doubt it. I think that it gets easier to deal with and as you build a new life and develop new relationships you stop being as sad. 

I don't think that I'll ever learn to live without South African sunsets and the beautiful sunny days which can turn to violent storms with little to no notice. Everyone I have spoken to who has moved away from South Africa has said that Africa keeps a piece of your heart, no matter how long you spend away from it and in a strange way, I hope it does. 

If I can give one piece of advice, it would be to arrange to Skype or FaceTime once a day if you are close to your family like I am, It really helps to see their faces and see the house and the dogs and my room. That's a key piece of advice I would give. 

If you are doing this, I hope this helps to prove that at the very least, you aren't alone and there are other people in the same boat. I will keep up the blog posts as my journey progresses. 

Love, Katie 

 

MY SEXUAL ASSAULT STORY

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Let me clarify something before I even begin, this is NOT clickbait. I know that revealing this particular story on the blog won't make friends. The truth is, I already lost friends over this happening and for the longest time I didn't even realise that what had happened to me was in fact sexual assault until someone else very brave recounted her story and told me that it was. I remember not wanting to 'make a big deal' about the whole thing. He was my best friend's boyfriend and though we weren't close, I knew him. Because she loved him and I trusted her, I trusted him and I shouldn't have. 

 

She was there the night it happened, in fact I think she was sitting right next to me when it happened and she didn't bat an eyelid. We've all heard the term 'boys will be boys' but truth be told I'm sick and tired of hearing that. I wasn't raped so I don't know what rape feels like and I don't claim to know nor am I able to imagine it. What he did though and what he said was at the very least sexual harassment. I don't remember saying 'NO' or 'STOP'. I think I told him to stop but maybe I didn't. I do remember being in a group of 10 guys (maybe more) and around 3 girls. The girls who were there knew me and claimed to be my friends. I wasn't drunk at the time and I don't remember what I was wearing (nobody should care). I was drinking but not even tipsy. It was a birthday party. The girl I called my best friend was one of the only other girls there. All I really remember is the boys taunting me, a few of them trying to touch and grab what was never theirs to touch. Then him. He claimed protectorship on the basis that I was his girlfriend's best friend. I don't know how much he had had to drink at that stage. To be honest, I don't care. All I know is that he grabbed me, touched me inappropriately commenting on how my hair was now the same colour as his girlfriend's hair and so obviously he could have both of us. I remember that he touched my breasts. Nobody has touched them since. 

 

That night after all the taunting and touching and inappropriate behaviour (all at the first bar) I couldn't work out what was 'wrong' with me, why I didn't feel myself and why I was constantly fighting the urge to cry. I couldn't figure out the pain in my chest or the unfamiliar feeling that was flowing through my body. I wanted to scream, shout or hide in a corner and cry maybe all three. Instead of going home, calling an uber or calling my parents I stayed and I smiled and I pretended. The girl I called my best friend didn't stand up for me when I couldn't keep it together anymore at the end of the night. The boys drove home with a guy in the group who was notorious for drinking and driving. From the car, her boyfriend called her and lied (joked?) that the friend in question had been arrested and that they were all being driven home by a third party.  He did this when he knew that just a few months previous to this 'party', I had been held overnight in a police station for drinking and driving though the charges were never upheld and I wasn't drinking and driving anyway. They thought it was funny when they pitched up in the car with the driver not arrested and instead killing himself laughing at our (or rather my) expense. They thought that I was overreacting when I wanted to walk and didn't want to get into the car. They laughed. I gave them the finger. I wasn't sober enough (nor did I feel mentally able) to drive myself home and the plan had been to stay with at her house with the group. She attempted to calm me down and wondered why it didn't work. She didn't notice what was actually a full blown panic attack. That she didn't see the signs earlier in the night amazes me. That when I shook and cried and held myself, she didn't see it. I cried, they laughed uproariously from the living room. I called my Mum and I left.

 

I saw her maybe the next week. I wanted to explain myself, explain what had happened. She repeated that I had overreacted, was in fact currently overreacting and that everything was 'just a joke'. I haven't seen her since. I have survived suicide attempts, anorexia and depression and I have no doubt that I will overcome this...in time. Right now though, I'm not sure I know how to be in a relationship or how to be touched. I know that I cannot expect someone to love me when I cannot love myself. I'm giving myself time to heal, as much as I need...

 

*This probably wouldn't be everyone's version of events from that night but this is mine, this is my truth. 

*Also, this is not aimed at anyone but I feel that enough time has passed and it is important to speak out on issues like this. We need to stop the stigma. This is my story...

 

ANOREXIA&DEPRESSION

Thank you, Jen Su, for inspiring me to write this,

I can’t really pinpoint the day my struggle with anorexia started but if I had to pick one, I think I’d pick a day way back in 2007. No idea what day of the week it was, in fact, I can’t really remember any specifics of that day. All I can tell you for sure is that I was still in primary school and we weren’t in our school uniforms. I have a feeling we were celebrating the end of grade 7 (sort of a graduation party if you like). I was never one of the ‘skinny’ girls and in fact had the tendency to carry a bit more weight than was average or healthy.

By grade 7 and aged 13, I had been to a dietician and on a diet plan and was probably weighing the least I ever had. I was more than likely the healthiest too but I don’t really remember. Anyway, with all this weight loss, I had this new pair of red shorts, which I loved and could now wear. I had chosen to wear them that day and I’ll never ever forget the little boy who saw me, looked me up and down and then called me thunder thighs and told me I should never wear shorts again.If you want to know how much your words can impact people, here's a vague idea. To this day I struggle to wear shorts and every time I do manage, I feel as though everyone is judging me in the same way he did. With all my intellect, I know this is not the truth but facts don’t really come into play here.

 

Indeed, all the intellect in the world couldn’t save me from myself.

 

I guess, looking back, a few things came into play. I was liked more by the other kids and at least it seemed to me the teachers when I was skinnier. This trend continued on through high school with boys paying me more attention when I was skinnier than when I was a little on the chubby side. All through the beginning of high school, I struggled with my weight. Things got really bad when I was in grade 10, good grief I hated that school so very much. I was so stressed, I didn’t fit in anywhere at the school and my friends were, well...limited. I was very different and that certainly didn’t help. I was bullied and spent a lot of break time alone. I went back to thinking that if I was skinnier it might be better. It never got better. I always felt alone and stupid at school. For them, it wasn't the system that was floored but me and I assume, people like me. 

 

My lowest weight was 42kg, certainly not emaciated for an anorexic but not strong enough for what I was doing. I was dancing, singing and acting as well as trying to [occasionally] do homework. I was tired all the time and of course depressed. Depression and Anorexia are practically best friends and if they were teenage girls, they would go everywhere together. 

 

Already we’re talking about a lot of baggage for a 17-year-old girl and looking back, it really is clear why I never had a boyfriend. Who could love a girl who doesn’t even slightly care for herself?

 

Also during 2012, I tried to overdose and tried to kill myself,  it never worked and for that I am very thankful. The troubles continued until I reached a point in 2014 where I honestly thought my life meant nothing and tried to end it all in a bathtub at a hotel.

 

I think the trouble with things like anorexia and depression is that far too many people think they are far too simple to solve. In the case of anorexia, just start eating again. It just isn’t that simple. I will always know the calorie content of everything that I put in my mouth. Anorexia makes you a maths genius, all those numbers to add up. Everything you put in your mouth needs to be counted and then, of course, there are all the conversions you have to do, from kilojoules to calories etc... Then  there's the mind vs itself. All the decisions you have to make based not on what you WANT to eat but what you deem okay to eat calorie wise.

 

Depression...well contrary to popular belief, you can't just BE happy. There are some days where the depression is controllable, for a while you are able to shove it under your bed and almost forget about it. Then there are the days where it truly is the monster and you feel it could eat you alive with even the slightest movement. Depression and anorexia are mental diseases so please, the next time someone confides in you don’t tell them to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘look on the bright side’. When you are there, you honestly cannot see the bright side, you can't see tomorrow or 'how great your life could be'. Please help us with love and support but don't show pity, it makes us feel worse. If you don't understand, tell the person who is struggling and listen (if they will talk), then, try to understand. Please don't make it about you. There wasn't anything worse than my family 'treating the bystanders', I was the one struggling and hurt but they insisted that I had damaged them. That is very selfish, as is driving the person away or treating them as if they are insane. We already feel guilty, trust me. 

 

I just want to thank all the people in my life who have helped me along the way, this year for the first time I was able to eat because I was hungry and to choose what was appealing. It doesn’t mean I don’t know the calorie content, I do, but I choose to ignore it and live for me, live for today. 

 

I hope anyone reading this who has struggled or is struggling can understand that recovery is a long process and that there may never be total recovery. However, it is worth the struggle and honestly not impossible by any means.

 

Thank you to: 

My parents and friends who have supported me throughout and managed to do so with the utmost confidence that not only would I get better but also without ever acting selfishly. Special thanks to Tracy and Charles Mahony, Ronelle and Gary Sartor, Dean Sartor, Kyle Sartor, Shane Thompson, Jen Su, Boyd Meihlon, Marina Goetze, Caitlyn Mollett, Gabby Van Niekerk, Kevin McLennan and Jill Grogor.