I Still Support You! Fan Culture & Cognitive Dissonance

Blind faith is one helluva drug, ain’t it?

I’m almost 25, and throughout my life, I have loved, obsessed over, and blindly followed celebrities and shows and films to the point where my life had been consumed by them. It got easier and easier when the internet became more accessible, when I finally was allowed to have a computer in my room, when we could use the internet while my mum was chatting on the phone. It became easier when social media rolled out, when I got a smartphone, when I was so wired into what my faves were doing, where they were going, and who they were dating, that I could literally find out anything I wanted at the swipe of a screen.

While this celebrity obsession may have died down for me, it certainly hasn’t for teenagers and many adults across the globe. The internet is now rife with celebrity information and a new type of person who is there purely for you to adore. But of course, with an overexposure of information (and misinformation), comes nowhere to hide. Social media and the internet have created new ways in which people can clash with each other, whether that be in opinions (Twitter) or actions (Youtube). Things you might not have known about your favourite celebrity are surfaced, and thus you are faced with cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance has been around since always, and I remember trying to learn about it during a sociology class about cults. It never truly stuck into my head until we all started having conversations about blind faith towards celebrities. Blind faith is usually linked to religion (the reason we were talking about it during a class on cults) but it can easily be adapted to celebrity and fandom culture.

Note: From now on, when I use the term “fandom”, I am not including communities who share their love of television shows, films, books, or fictional characters/couples.

Cognitive Dissonance is is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. People experience cognitive dissonance when someone they love does something that goes against their values. So, you love or ‘stan’ a celebrity. You would do anything for them. You consume all  their content whether it be music, movies, or Youtube videos. However, they then go against something you believe in; you find out they take drugs, for example. There are many that would find this behavior to not be against their own beliefs. I mean hey, it’s not hurting anyone but themselves and it’s their body. What’s the problem? You end up justifying it to yourself and continue to believe this person is perfect.

This cycle continues on for a lot of people who blindly follow this celebrity and the celebrity will notice, eventually. For many celebrities, this is as far as it goes. Nobody is perfect, despite what your brain tells you when you look at a picture of Harry Styles. But there are some who will push and push your cognitive dissonance so far that eventually your blind faith will be shattered. And to be honest? This is a minority. If you’re already following someone’s life to this dangerous degree then I believe you’re more likely to let larger things slide… say, watching your favourite Youtuber film the body of a suicide victim in the Japanese forest of Aokigahara?

Celebrity culture, fandoms, ‘stanning’, the whole thing has become a marketable way of making a shit ton of cash for your faves and their team. And while I think it’s great to find friends who have the same interests as you (e.g. I’ve found a lot of friends through blogging and our love of books), I think there is a lot of ways in which celebrities, but more commonly social media influencers, do this.

  1. A collective fan name. The Jake Paulers, The Logang, Cumberbitches, Beliebers. Some of these are created by the fans, for the fans, and that’s as far as it goes. But it’s also a clever way to create, rather than a community, a ‘popular clique that you can only get in to if you buuuuuuy….
  2. Merch. T-shirts, hats, bags. This isn’t the same as a singer who sells albums. This would be if that same musician then brought out like…fidget spinners, or biros. A lot of the time, an influencer only brings out merch because there’s a demand and fair enough. But merch is a great way to influence your fans into thinking that they are a part of this group, but only if they have merch.
  3. Targeted tweets. This one is particularly popular with male viners/music.ly stars. You know the tweets, the one’s by Jacob Sartorius that say ‘You look so good today’ where it comes across that he’s speaking to you personally. While I feel Jacob Sartorius is quite young and maybe has a team of adults who does this for him (I mean he might understand how to exploit his fanbase but I’m not sure), I feel people like Cameron Dallas, Nash Grier and other white boy names I don’t know are especially guilty of it. You can also get targeted song lyrics, One Direction songs are full of them.

So, you are a part of the group, the clique, the fanbase. You have the merch, and you have made friends who are just as obsessed as you are.

And your fave does something horrible.

Of course, being a fan of something/someone is all apart of the experience of entertainment. My dad gets excited when a new Star Wars comes out, my mum is in love with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders and even bought a coaster with his face on. My brother loves watching angry white guys scream at games and use the N and F words liberally and experiences cognitive dissonance constantly. I have had my experiences being obsessed with things and people like Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Glee, Marvel, Disney, the cast of SKAM, you name it.

I am a firm believer of enjoying something you love. Do not be ashamed of listening to music that a lot of people hate, read that book that people have been saying is shit. But please, please be aware of the people you are a fan of. My advice? Don’t become obsessed. It’s hard, the internet is so accessible now that it’s very easy to be whisked up in the madness that is fandom and celebrity culture. But the consequences are dangerous. You’ve seen the defense against Logan Paul from his fans, the way fans of footballers and rockstars send sexual assault victims death threats because they dared speak out about their experiences. The environment is too toxic at this point and I just don’t want to contribute to it anymore.

The best thing is to remind yourself that this person is a human. It may seem ridiculous to say it, to even think it because of course you know that. Don’t talk down to me Hollie! (I know I’m sorry). But reminding yourself of this small fact is such a powerful tool to combat this blind faith.

Person is a human.

Person may say and do things I do not like.

Person is a someone I do not know. (As much as you think you know Person, you really do not know them).

You have to know when to stop supporting someone, when to identify what they did was wrong, and not to change the rules because it’s Person. I’ve started to really embrace this new way of thinking about celebrities. I used to see them for the first time in a film, and then Google them for the rest of the night. This sort of came to a halt after SKAM ended, and people started doing the same to the actors, some of whom were underage. I began to feel uncomfortable knowing so much about these kids. I didn’t want to know the names of their siblings, or what school they went to, or if they were out shopping right this second (???).

Maybe I just don’t care about it all anymore, maybe I’m not cool anymore. But I do love stuff, and I love supporting artists on Patreon and ‘liking’ Youtubers videos when I’ve genuinely enjoyed their content. I will support and enjoy being entertained by actors/musicians/Youtubers. But I cannot be a ‘big fan’ of a person anymore. And if a person who’s work I have enjoyed in the past turns out to be awful, I will remain critical and mature in my decision to stop supporting them or not.

I hope this post does not come across as a preachy way of telling you not to like things, or to stop liking someone because they’re a bit of a dickhead. Stan whoever you want, buy all the merch, do whatever makes you feel happy. But don’t fall down the rabbit hole. They see what you do, and if they truly are a horrible person, they will use your love to their advantage.

 

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Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

We both knew that you were going to start off a little differently than usual. I began January in one of the darkest places I’d ever find myself. I was alone, surrounded by people who didn’t understand what was going on, and so treated it like something unimportant and not worthy of attention, this included myself. I had recently become unemployed by my own doing, knowing something wasn’t right but still not wanting to face it head on. I think my family did the same, tried to lighten the mood and ignore all the signs and making it worse. And so, when you rolled around, dragging yourself into fruition, I wanted you to end before you started.

There was no way you, 2017, was going to be good with me feeling like this.

It took so many fights, so many arguments, with myself and with others, and eventually, a week where I just upped and left, to force me to put the first foot forward and in the right direction. I have no shame in saying I went on medication, some small at first and then a little stronger when they just made me feel numb. I think it’s very important to talk about mental health in a way where there’s no stigma. Mental illnesses are one of the most normal things in the world, and they don’t define who you are, despite my grandmother casually telling me that being miserable was a part of who I was (I almost burst into tears when she said this). I knew that I wouldn’t be on them forever, and if I was? That was OK. They weren’t taking away who I was, they weren’t changing me into something I wasn’t, they were helping me find myself again, and for that I will always be grateful.

You weren’t looking so bad anymore, 2017. The sun felt like it was coming out; I was travelling for the first time with just friends. Planning everything myself, visiting places I didn’t think I could visit. Not because of distance or money, but because I thought mentally, I couldn’t achieve something like that. But it meant my bond with friends grew stronger, it meant I could meet new friends, it meant I could be a little friendlier to myself and enjoy things like walking around new cities, trying to speak new languages, and taking as many pictures as I possibly could.

And then, I found myself in a position to get a small, part time job. It was a two minute walk away, without the horribleness of big city customers but instead in a bakery with gorgeous smelling bread and cakes. It was baby steps into, yet again, the right direction.

But, 2017, you weren’t done with me yet, and it turns out it wasn’t the place for me, and I was so afraid once again of this set back that I thought; what if I can’t work again? But so help me God, I was gonna do it, and I landed the work experience of a life time, where the commute nearly killed me and the hamster who I was sharing a room with made sure I got no sleep. In the same month, I wrote 50,000 words of a novel that I’m so persistent on publishing that it sometimes feels like it actually might see the light of day. One day. One day.

It seemed a good thing would happen, and a bad thing tagged along. I came off my meds, but my ex got engaged. I couldn’t handle working in a bakery, but I could handle working at one of the biggest publishing houses in the U.K. 2017, you were full of so many ups and downs that felt like incredible highs and harrowing falls. It all seemed a lot. I learnt how to use social media to learn and to listen, but I also had to cut myself from it because of the amount of information I was receiving in one go. My mental health got a lot better, but my physical health took a hit for it. It seemed like you were taking me across choppy waters with bouts of thunder and lightening above, quite possibly with a broken ore.

But, I want to thank you for getting me here safely, to where I am now. I have better mental health, with better job prospects, burning with creativity and the need to travel.

2018, I want you to be bigger. But please, be gentler.

And Happy New Year Everyone!

Love, Hollie x

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Hollie’s Favourite TV Shows 2017

Gosh, TV is great isn’t it?

Every year I compile a list of my favourite shows of the year. They could be new, they could be old, but what groups them all together is that I found them this year and I love them and I want to share them with you. If you want to see last year’s list, click right here.

Merli (2015 – )

Merli has been on my radar for some time but, since my entire being was consumed with SKAM at the time, I thought it best until the show was over and I could invest my time in a new foreign language show, this time, Catalan.

Merli is about a philosophy teacher who, in a similar vein as Dead Poets Society, has a class of students whom he inspires and teaches the ways of the world. Of course, Merli is not perfect and we follow his daily dramas along with his son, Bruno, a member of the class and his classmates at a college in Barcelona. While there are definitely serious topics in the show, it’s far better to watch for the harmless drama and romantic entanglements of the classmates, rather than looking for serious messages.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a trailer for Merli in English, so instead, here’s a wholesome photo of the cast together.

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SKAM (2015 – 2017)

Of course, would it be a Hollieblog post without mentioning my favourite show of all time? But alas, this year SKAM broadcasted it’s final season with Sana, a young Muslim student at Hartvig Nissen who struggles balancing her faith with a typical Norwegian teenage lifestyle. It’s got romance, friendship, drama, and important topics that you rarely see in television at the moment. But SKAM has revolutionized that, depicting characters of different faith, sexuality, and with mental illnesses. It is truly one of the best television shows out there, and I implore all of you to give it ago. (Plus, the Norwegian language is gorgeous!)

The Good Place (2017 – )

This was a show I had no intention of getting into. It looked too American; cheesy and full of weird dialogue and bright colours. But of course, this was a bit of a stereotype. I started watching when my parents started, and then carried on watching the whole of season one by myself. It’s hilarious, and very self aware. I love all of the characters (which doesn’t usually happen for me) and it perks me right up whenever I’m feeling down. Yes, the trailer is also super cringey but I promise, just give it a go!

Stranger Things (2016 – )

Guys, I did it. I caved. When it comes to shows, while I accept recommendations (and certainly give them out like they’re candy and I’m Willy Wonka), I’m not great at actually giving in and watching the shows I’m recommended. Especially when I’m constantly told they’re amazing. It’s why I haven’t watched Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad…I haven’t even watched The Great British Bake Off because people won’t shut up about it. But something was a little different about Stranger Things. It seemed the whole world was watching it, and I thought maybe I would like it. A rag tag group of kids trying to defeat the monster that’s invaded their town? Set in the 80s? It sounded perfect.

So I would constantly ask people; is it scary? Are there jump scares? I loathe jump scares, and more often than not they’ve given me panic attacks. But the only thing I could do was watch it myself. And thank goodness I did. Turns out, it is scary, but the jump scares were so obvious from a mile off that I could watch them without hiding behind the sofa. I have to admit, season one is better than season two, and I do have a bone to pick with The Duffer Brothers (the creators and writers), but overall, it’s an incredible show with some fantastic acting in it.

 

Please Like Me (2013-2016)

This is a terrible thing to say, but I almost forgot about Please Like Me. I can’t for the life of me remember if I watched it late 2016 or early 2017, and yet I didn’t put it in my 2016 favourite shows which I definitely would have otherwise. Did I watch it so early in 2017 that it feels like a year ago? Who knows. But it’s here now, and you should all give it a watch.

Set in Melbourne, Australia, Please Like Me explores serious and often sad themes through humour and a realistic plot. Josh is a twenty-something gay man, living with his best friend and figuring out what he wants to do with his life. His father is recently re-married, and his mother’s mental health is spiralling. While sometimes fairly dark and miserable, I found Please Like Me both realistic and hilarious at the same time. The awkwardness of some scenes reminded me of British shows like The Office, while still remaining a dramedy rather than a sitcom. The opening theme is also super infectious.

All of the trailers that I could find for this show have weird voice-overs and call suicide an ‘awkward moment’. But don’t punish the show for the trailers it clearly had no involvement in – the show is good. The trailers are bad.

Let me know what you’ve been watching, and let’s see if I actually watch it!

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My Two Week Work Experience at Penguin Random House

One day, whilst working my last shift at a small bakery in my hometown, I received an email.

Usually, when it comes to the industry I work in, you’re not allowed to go on your phone. Hell, I’m not even allowed my phone on me just in case I even think about looking at it. So, bless the job Gods that it was my final day and that my manager let me look at my phone. This email is an email I’ve been crossing my fingers for for years. I began applying for work experience in every publishers I could think of back when I graduated university in 2014. It would have been great to do work experience during my course, but I hadn’t even thought about it; I had no idea what I wanted to go into. But, now that I knew that publishing was a thing and it could be a thing I would enjoy, I wanted to try work experience to see what it was like. I hadn’t the foggiest what it was like in a publishing house and I hadn’t even thought it could be a valid option for me to go into. So, I set off, applying my arse off for everything that I could that wasn’t a placement that started the next day (which happens alot…who can drop everything like that?), and now, 2017, is finally my year.

 Dear Hollie,

Do you remember applying for work experience with Penguin Random House?

YES. YES I DO.

Que me jumping around our large bakery kitchen and my manager not really understanding what this meant. I would be living in London for two weeks, working within the very walls that publish Phillip Pullman, John Green, Jeff Kinney, and so many more amazing children’s authors. I was working in Children’s PR and Marketing. Oh my God. OH MY GOD.

I packed my bags and headed to my friend’s house (who lives near London); my heart in my throat and my legs all wobbly. I’ve never even set foot in an office, let alone a very important one in the centre of London. I was ready but also very unprepared, and had no idea what to expect from this experience. I watched so many videos about it, read so many blog posts, but I still couldn’t figure out what was going to happen. I hate not knowing how to do a job before I do it. I like to know immediately. But with this, it seemed a little impossible to find out other than to actually just go and do it.

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The morning walk over the jubilee bridge to reach The Strand.

Penguin Random House is huge. It’s huge. Only part of the company is at The Strand, where I was based. The other part is in Ealing, and then all the other parts are in other countries across the globe. While I felt like a teeny tiny person walking into the biggest building I’d ever seen, I tried to remember that this was just a small part of the company; an imprint, a department within an imprint, just to make it small enough to handle.

I was welcomed, shown around the whole floor and introduced to the other work experience. I was shown to my desk, helped with a log in situation, and then…left. This was a large part of the experience that felt a little wrong. I had points of contact, sure. I had another work experience colleague who had already been there a week who could have helped me. But instead, I sort of just sat there for two hours, reading and re-reading the introductory notes that made little sense, until I kept badgering the other work experience to give me something to do because no one was emailing me anything.

Nothing really happened until Wednesday, when I was tasked with Instagram market research. It meant I could work all day, answer emails, feel like an adult in the workplace for once and not ask to go to the toilet and take breaks whenever I wanted. I had hot chocolate on tap, could eat at my desk, and leave two minutes early so I didn’t have to run for my train. All of these things sound a little bit ridiculous, but retail man, they let you do nothing.

I spoke to few people in my first week save my colleague, Aliyah, who couldn’t not talk to me because I asked so many questions. It was a strange environment; everyone seemed to be on good terms with each other and there was definitely a friendly atmosphere, but for some reason it didn’t stretch to me and Aliyah. Throughout my two weeks I barely got any “Morning!”s or “Goodbye!”‘s apart from a few people, despite speaking and doing work for the people who didn’t say it to us. At first, I knew they wouldn’t engage in small talk too much because everyone was busy. The office was abuzz with busy-ness. But saying hello and goodbye? I assumed and still do, that it was because forming a bond with the work experience is futile; we change so often, having a new person each week, that they might not even be able to keep up with our names. There were brief moments during mailouts in the second week where they would ask us questions, especially Lily, The Scheme intern, who was lovely and who we helped out on a campaign that meant 700 books needed to be wrapped and packaged, as well as one of our points of contact, Beth, and my desk neighbour, Clare (in which we never spoke about what her role was but I think it was important!). But other than that, I found the experience in the first week pretty lonely.

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Look, I like views ok? Overlooking the Thames from the seventh floor.

It was only in the second week where I felt two strong emotions; extreme negativity towards the experience, and extreme joy over it.

The second week meant a new colleague as Aliyah went off to smash the world of PR and events (the industry she was going into), and I was met with Aislin (who had flown from Ireland for her w/e!), in which we got on super well and I was able to teach her everything I had learnt over the past week. Meaning she would not feel how I felt in my first few days. We worked on most of our tasks together, including sourcing book jackets on software called Biblio, take instagrams for an online competition, and of course, mail outs. SO MANY MAILOUTS. This was a negative for me in the moment; it was tiring and I think I have permanent back damage from the booths we had to sit in while doing it. But looking back, while I didn’t enjoy that experience nor did I feel I was learning anything from it, I understand that it was a necessity when it came to marketing and PR. Everyone got stuck in when they had free time, and they will continue to do more long after I had finished my two weeks. It was a part of the job, and gave me an insight into the nitty gritty of the department, realising that the work didn’t get shipped off to a distribution centre or onto a production line. It was their work. It was something they had come up with for an event, for a campaign, to advertise and market the books they loved. And their ideas were being implemented. For all the work I did mailing things out, sending competition winners prizes, and packaging 1000 goody bags for children at an event, that was definitely a lot of people I was making happy.

So while I would crawl back to my friend’s house, tired and hungry with all of my joints in pain. I knew it was worth it. It may not have been exactly what I thought it would be, but it was real, and it was accurate. I expect that actually working there, there would be a little more guidance and a lot more interaction with others. I was just an office junior, but going into marketing at entry level, or going in entry level at any other department; they understand that in all other places, things are a little bit different, that a big publisher will be different to a small indie one. Even the publisher a few tube stops down will have a different system. They would train me, and I wouldn’t turn up to the job not knowing what to do.

Or, at least I hope I wouldn’t.

For all of you wondering whether to apply for work experience with Penguin Random House; do it. But don’t let it be the only work experience you do. It was one of the easiest to apply for, with the most preparations in place, but it is just one example of working in a publishing house. I’ve talked to friends about their experiences in smaller publishers and what they have said has been way off from what I’ve experienced. I have loved it so much, and I felt a little lost when it was over. It was so worth it, and it’s a great thing to put on my CV.

So thank you Penguin Random House!

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If you’re thinking about applying for Penguin, or just want to know about my work experience in general, feel free to leave questions in the comment section and I’ll answer as many as I can!

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MOVIE REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Welcome to my FIRST EVER MOVIE REVIEW ON HOLLIEBLOG.COM!

*double checks*

Ok, I’ve reviewed some TV shows but they don’t count.

A loooong time ago, I used to run a Tumblr called ‘Hollie Reviews’ (which is still there), where I posted a review of every film that I watched. Whether that was in the cinema or even just at home on Netflix. Nobody read them, and I left it like an abandoned theme park to work on my booklr and, eventually, this blog right here.

But today, while not making a habit of reviewing movies, I wanted to talk about a recent book to movie adaptation that has left me feeling a little…strange.

Strange because I never prefer a film to the book.

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I read Call Me By Your Name back in February, falling in and out of love with passages that were either beautiful, intimate and making me yearn for the summer, or so purple that I lost track of what was happening (a thing that happens to me a lot when reading text that’s too flowery). You can read the whole review on Goodreads, where I compete with the two sides of my brain; one side that wanted more of the book, and one side that thought the whole thing laughable.

But the film was different.

Firstly, this year I’ve started going to the cinema alone. At first it was to combat my monstrous anxiety that I was battling at the beginning of the year, where the thought of going outside was horrifying. I thought to myself if I can go to the cinema and then eat lunch, alone, with no one to distract me, I can do anything. I usually pick films that I want to go see that I don’t think anyone else would want to see with me; films that maybe only get a few showings and are screened in the smallest room in the multiplex. Call Me By Your Name wasn’t even in the multiplex, and I had to go to the local indie/arthouse theatre which I knew wouldn’t accept my 3 years out of date student card and would also be a lot more intimate.

But hey, intimacy is what Call Me By Your Name is all about, so the atmosphere was spot on.

So I sat there, in a plush red chair with only a smattering of people, most of them on their own too (this always helps). Turns out Friday at 1pm is not prime time indie film watching. I’d decided that I was going to be really excited for this film because, let’s be honest, a film adaptation of a queer book deserves money thrown at it. It needs success because through success brings more LGBT focused films. Plus I’d seen the trailer and it looked precious af. So, despite having mixed feelings about the book, I was sat there in a small cinema on a Friday afternoon with a bag of 80 calorie popcorn, and I was READY.

[MINOR SPOILER AHEAD]

I was actually surprised about how much I remembered the book, and was super disappointed about the scenes set in Rome not in the final cut of the film. Those were my favourite scenes from the book, but it felt like the adaptation was a lot more focused on the build up to their relationship, rather than the part where they were free from hiding from Elio’s parents and their friends and could just be themselves.

But, I liked how their dynamic was a little different from the book.

As I stated in my book review, Elio meets Oliver and that’s it, he straight up worships him, and while it’s harder to express so much thought in a film without having a voice-over (which honestly, can be awful), I definitely found that Elio was a lot more pissed off by Oliver. He was here, taking over his space, winning over his friends,  and talking over his parents like some ‘loud American’. I loved it a lot; they talked quickly, moved around each other but never collided until they did and WOW. WOW. I forgot I was alone in a cinema full of strangers because beauty? What is it? It’s this film.

So, better dynamic? CHECK!

Beautiful music (Sufjan Stevens baby!) CHECK!

Cinematography which makes me nostalgic for Italy and the 80s despite being born in 1993? CHECK!

There were definitely scenes that were a bit strange and made me cringe a little. And no, not the peach scene, but just some hammy scenes that I don’t know if they were improvisations from Timothée Chalamet (who plays Elio) or directions from the director but hey, it’s an arthouse/indie film, a little weirdness is expected.

If this film is showing near you, go see it! Have a little day to yourself, grab some food! Read a book, then go watch this!

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Self Care In A Time Of Crisis

I love participating in self care.

Sometimes, I participate too much self care.

Sometimes I’ll call it self care when all I’m doing it lying in bed all day and eating a whole jar of Nutella. I understand that this probably isn’t a good form of self care, but in a time of crisis, sometimes it’s all I have to cling onto.

Life sucks sometimes, and you need something to alleviate the thing that’s ruining your day. For someone like me, a depressed, anxious, often shell of a person, these life sucky phases can often seem like mountains that I cannot get over.

Over the last few days, I have been experiencing a time of crisis. I’ve been confronted with pretty much everything that makes me stressed and want to crawl under a rock. In these times, I could very well give up. Pushing on and moving forward isn’t always a possibility, and so recently I have amped my self care (healthy and productive self care, mind) and want to be able to share with you some of the things I do in order to stay sane when my situation doesn’t feel very sane.

Sleep

I know, I know. Going to sleep for long periods of times can lead to not getting out of bed at all, at least for me anyway. But turning in early and getting a good eight hours is always what I do when I feel stressed and mentally unwell. It makes you tired, so why wouldn’t I sleep? As long as it doesn’t turn into a depressive sleep, where I’m sleeping throughout the day and staying awake during the night, I find it’s refreshing and makes me feel prepared for the next day. I usually at least get into bed at eight and fall asleep around half nine, maybe earlier if I’m incredibly stressed but still have responsibilities the next day

Listening to particular bands/artists etc

You’ve heard of comfort shows and comfort eating, now get ready for comfort music! I feel like everyone has music that, even if it’s fast and shouty, can help you chill out. For me, I live for envoking nostalgia, so any album or artists that is associated with a good time, I’ll listen to it. At the moment, I have The Weeknd, Halsey, and the SKAM Spotify playlist on repeat.

Bujo it up!

I love my bullet journal. I love it even more in a time of crisis. It’s a great creative outlet where I can use pages to just ramble about the shit I’m dealing with. I’m the only one who’s going to read it, and if I post it to Instagram, it’s not going to be pictures of pretty cutouts and calligraphy, so I’m safe there too. Sometimes, I just wanna draw some roses and stars in peace, and it works.

Netflix binge

So far I have two Netflix binges on the go that work because once you press play, they just keep going. There’s no concentration, no having to think about what you’re consuming, even if whatever show you’re watching is difficult to follow. It makes noise, there’s pictures; kind of like a baby, you’re transfixed by the swirly colours. I’m not even kidding, sometimes I need a distraction as simple as this. Things I’m currently binge-ing: Fresh Meat and Doctor Foster.

Clean

Whether it’s just my room or the whole house. I feel a lot fresher and calmer after I’ve cleaned either myself or the space around me. The easiest is washing clothes; knowing that I’ll have clean clothes later on in the day makes me feel better, as does a clean set of bedding. Even just washing my hair or cleaning myself does the trick too. Hoovering, polishing, cleaning the bathroom (that’s a favourite), will at least give me something to do and force me to focus on one thing.

Ban Social Media

It depends on the site, but some of them I just have to log off. Twitter can sometimes be a big trigger; my anxiety and depression just love clinging on to world crises and emergencies and things that are out of my control. My brain likes to make me think about hurricanes and dictatorships and violations of human rights all the time, every second, and make me feel helpless to do anything about it. And now that we have Twitter, I can be overloaded with it with the tap of my screen. When I’m in a time of crisis, I can just about handle scrolling through Instagram and looking at pictures of books. So, until my crisis is over, Facebook and Twitter and switched off.

Things I don’t do, mind, are things that probably sound healthier and more appealing to others. But I have reasons as to why I don’t.

Reading – I can’t concentrate hard enough on the words. And, because I’m feeling so down, I end up applying those negative feelings to the book. If I was in a better mood, I could enjoy this book, and I don’t want to discard it because of external factors.

Walking – Too quiet, not distracting enough. Too much time to think, and over thinking is a major issue as to why I spiral in a time of crisis.

Exercise – I mean, I can’t even motivate myself to do this even when I’m on top of the world. My desire to exercise is a bit spontaneous and so I can’t guarantee I’ll want to exercise when I’m down.

What are some of your self care tips that I haven’t mentioned that help you?

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My Bullet Journal & Creativity

My bullet journal has become one of my many sources of my creativity, one that I didn’t think existed.

I wanted to talk about the ways in which I go about filling my bullet journal, including pictures, doodling, journal entries, and spread ideas. Every person’s bullet journal is theirs; there is not right or wrong way to go about filling it. Some use it for practical reasons, some for memories, and most for letting your creativity and imagination run wild. Do not use this post as a ‘how to’, but more as a ‘here’s some inspiration’!

Getting The Stuff

The worst thing you can do when beginning to bullet journal is buying all the things. Let’s be honest, you’re gonna be overwhelmed with all the options from journals to pens to washi tape. This stuff is not cheap, and so I would recommend accumulating your utensils over time. The most expensive thing you’re going to buy could be any one of those things, depending on your budget, quality, and accessibility. For me, I wanted a journal that was easy to use. This meant finding a journal that opened easily without closing by itself, so no tight spines, and preferably not a thick journal. Hardback journals can be good, but I had my heart set on a softback with grid pages. Grid pages? I’m messy and needs a guide. Blank pages are a death sentence for my creativity.

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In the end I chose a Moleskine Soft Large Squared Notebook. It comes with a piece of ribbon so when I open it, it falls straight onto the page I was working on, and also has thickish pages so pens and pictures don’t bleed through onto the next spread! Other journal brands I would recommend are Leuchtturm and Paipur. Of course, for someone on a budget, large supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsburys have an array of beautiful blank notebooks from as cheap as £3!

Pens? Washi tape? Accumulate. I’m left handed, and so I needed pens that dried quickly otherwise my hand would run across the page and smudge all my calligraphy that I tried really hard on. I avoid ballpoints, and enjoy Uni Pin fineliners in a range of sizes, but I use mainly 0.1 and 0.2 for most writing. I use fineliners for colouring too, which I think are all around 0.3. Washi tape has been a hit and miss for me. The cheap stuff is cute, but very bold colours and are very thick. I’m still struggling to find nice washi tape in the UK, but came across one in Waterstones for £2, but it was only one small roll. It’s slightly transparent with gold dots. Lovely.

Pens and Washi Tape are things you can make mistakes with. You can figure out which pens and tape work for you without breaking the bank. They’re also a great way to find your style!

Ideas & Style

“But Hollie? What do I put in my bullet journal??”

The answer is simple: ANYTHING YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE. Your bullet journal is yours, some like to show their pages, some don’t. Don’t feel like you have to make it look a certain way or have certain content to be deemed as a “good bullet journal”. Because here’s the thing kid, there’s no such thing as a good or bad bullet journals. Or maybe they’re all good. I don’t know, I just love bullet journals.

For me, I love monthly spreads. Pictures that represent that month for me, as well as little reminders about what I want to achieve that month. I also have specific spreads for large events in my life, including holidays, books that I especially loved, and even a spread for my dear SKAM.

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This is the spread I’m the most proud of. My June spread is good but I hadn’t really fell into my own style just yet. However this spread definitely represents my ‘inner style’ when it comes to how I want my journal to look like. It’s colourful, full of flowers, just like July. And of course, there’s a SKAM reference because I’m trash and I was thinking about it a lot while making this spread. I also love adding quotes from books, and films and music, this quote in particular is from Library Magic by The Head & The Heart (I usually listen to this kind of music when working on spreads).

Also, with thanks to Youtube videos on doodling in your bullet journal, I’ve managed to find flowers and wreaths that are easiest for me to fill into blank spaces.

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Sometimes I colour them, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the spread or what particular theme I’m going for. I don’t like overcrowding my pages with too much colour, and rather like sticking to specific themes. July was definitely a green and and gold/yellow kinda spread.

Other ideas for spreads are reading logs. I usually create them every three months because I’m a slow reader. They’re usually bookish spreads, with a list of books I read in those three months each with a rating, coupled my bookish pictures that are usually take from my instagram. In this case, the top picture is mine (and one you might recognize from my home page!).

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The majority of my spreads are journal entries; days where there’s been something I’ve wanted to talk about. Some people like to have two pages to represent one week and have an entry for everyday, but I never want to force myself to write something, and so that’s why some days have been skipped, and some days have lengthy paragraphs of stories.

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Here are a list of things you could include in your bullet journal, but do not feel you should be limited to. Remember, your bullet journal is yours and you should free to include whatever you want!

Reading Log
Photograpy Portfolio
Maps
Holiday Packing Lists
Books Reviews
Fitness Routine
Language Phrase Page
Constellation Chart
Comic Book Strip
Events Diary
TBR List
Birthday Diary
Work Schedule
Cleaning Schedule
Bucket Lists
Things That Make You Happy
& The List Goes On!

If you have any blog posts on your bullet journals, please link them, I would love to check them out!

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