Here you can find examples of articles I’ve written.

Article in the Independent

Article in the Mirror

Article in HuffPost

Article in the Daily Express.

Feature for final year project – a magazine around sex and relationships
Feature for final year project – a magazine around sex and relationships
Feature for final year project – a magazine around sex and relationships

Feature written for Advanced Feature Writing module:


Could this old, cult classic be the antidote to our modern problems? 

Role playing games have been around for decades,but now is the time we need them more than ever.  

In a land far away, between a towering volcano and the wall of an ancient fortress, a misfit group of mythical creatures face an evil warlock in a brave attempt to save the innocent villagers from certain demise. Okay not really. In a small board game shop hidden just off a bustling highstreet, a group of teenagers start their fourth hour of rolling dice and calculating their next moves in a tense game of Dungeon and Dragons.


Teenagers and young adults get a lot of grief for having their eyes glued to screens. For the last ten years they have been accused of gorging on violence, sensationalised reality TV and vulgar comedy, but if you look a little closer, across the country pencils are being sharpened and imaginations let loose in the name of the fantasy tabletop role playing game (RPG).


The game involves a dungeon master who curates the details of the game and poses challenges to characters, created by anyone who wants to play. Jamie, 17, is a dungeon master in Bristol who has been playing for more than 7 years. He explained the basic premise of the game: “The way you play is pretty simple. Everyone has a number that shows how good you are at certain things, like spells, fighting or tricking people. Then you roll dice to simulate luck and other things that your character cannot control and add whatever number you have to the roll which gives you the outcome. From there you describe each of your actions and go through a story laid out by the Dungeon Master.”


If you have heard of the cult classic, chances are you have a certain picture in your head about what it’s like and the type of people who play it. Assumptions tend to be that it’s for ‘nerds’ and outcasts that love fantasy’s like Star Trek and struggle in social situations (think the Big Bang Theory). You couldn’t be more wrong. Famous fans include Vin Diesel, Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson Aubrey Plaza, and even Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who grew up playing together. 


Contrary to outdated beliefs, the game is highly creative and social. Jamie loves that side of it. “It combines the things I love the most; expressing creativity and spending time with others. I personally prefer to play as a dungeon master because I enjoy making others happy, taking in what they enjoy into consideration, and mixing it up to bring a fun experience.”


It combines creative storytelling with reacting to the group, in the same way a DJ might change up the tempo depending on the vibe of the crowd. Keeping it interesting, and everyone engaged is part of the dungeon masters task, but it’s also led by the players. “The fact that it can be whatever I want it to be makes it interesting. It’s a collective idea that everyone at the table comes up with. The way I run things, I don’t come up with a lot of the actual story, just the vague idea of what I want to happen, then improvise the actual playing of it in a way that is fun for everyone.”


In a world where standardised tests are taking the place of arts and music in schools, and social media is replacing long phone calls, maybe it’s time Dungeon and Dragons stepped out of the shadows and had its time in the limelight. With fantasy shows like Stranger Things (in which they play Dungeon and Dragons by the way), Game of Thrones and the Witcher becoming more and more popular, now is the perfect time to shed any preconceptions and embrace the positives this RPG can offer the emerging generations. 


Besides allowing creative expression and encouraging social interaction, the game can encourage players to explore their own identities through creating characters. Players can choose what their characters excel in, and create a whole new personality to play as, which can help them realise their values and principals in a deeper sense. By role playing as a strong warrior ork, they could find strength in themselves they didn’t know existed. They might find themselves returning to play the part of a goofy gnome and explore their sense of humour in a new way. Perhaps they’re the healer of the group, always making sure that their team is looked after and healthy. 


Freud believed that the process of forming a personality begins through the identification with others. We essentially learn who we are through copying others and working out what parts of them fit in ourselves. Later researchers, like Jonathan Cohen, have studied how popular media characters, like those on TV and in movies, affect our identity. He found that relating so strongly to these characters involves an ‘increasing loss of self-awareness and its temporary replacement with heightened emotional and cognitive connections to the character’. This means that as we play as a character in a game, we really do merge our sense of self with them in those moments. There’s also evidence that as individuals we tend to gravitate towards groups that we relate to, such as elves or vampires, which can give us a sense of belonging we often spend our formative years desperately searching for. 


So, where do you get started? Jamie has a few tips: “I would recommend someone just dip in any way possible. You could watch one of the many series of people playing – I’d recommend Critical Role, Dice Camera Action or High Rollers. But you can, try to find a group and ask to have a trial session, where you turn up and see if you like it. People love sharing their passions and I’m sure you’ll find that wherever you go, they are very passionate about D’n’D.” 

The beautiful in broken

I cleaned my room out today instead of doing the work I should’ve done (shhh mum I’ll get it done). I’m not a sentimental person, I don’t like clutter, and sometimes things accumulate. I regularly throw away things I kept for no real reason. Objects don’t hold memories or feelings for me, so I don’t hold onto them very tightly.

I do keep some things. Cards and letters mostly. When I moved away from a close friend when I was 18 we wrote letters to each other weekly for over a year. They never fizzled, we decided to stop because we knew we were reopening old stitches instead of letting things heal. I have countless letters from her still. I have letters from other friends, birthday cards, a poem my mum wrote me when I was 16. Another letter she wrote me when she was the most depressed I remember.

The ones I read through today were from 4 people that have been monumental in my life. None of them are still a feature in my days. Each letter outlined big mistakes they had made, sometimes directly, sometimes inferred. Things that had ripped me apart at the time, that I thought I would never recover from. Some of these things I still think about, others I can’t believe got to me the way they did. I guess it goes to show how different relationships can be. One mistake in a friendship could be the end, but the same action in another would barely be addressed.

The other thing all 4 letters talked about was how I didn’t deserve those mistakes. They all talked about their own issues and problems that they had to address, and how I got the brunt of their emotional immaturity. They all talked about how loyal I am, how I’m kind and one of the most important people in their lives. It was lovely to read for about a millisecond… and then it kind of felt like someone spitting in my face.

If I’m really that person to all these people, then why do I keep getting hurt?

I’m trying to let go of that feeling. I know these things weren’t my fault. I can’t control how people fuck up, but I can control how I react to their actions.

Sometimes things break and you can glue them back together. They never look quite the same but they’re whole. Big pieces that make sense and just need stability until the glue dries.

Sometimes when things break, they shatter into these little pieces you can pick up. They cut your hands and leave you wounded while you try to search for all the parts that you know you’ll never find again. Still, you push them together and fill the gaps in attempt to fix it all up nice and pretty.

Sometimes when things break they shatter into pieces so small you can barely see them anymore. They’re gone forever. Until that strand of light reaches where they fell and they glitter.

Maybe those broken relationships are the glitter in my life. They caused me so much pain for so long that I was always scared to look back at them and see how I feel now. I know, intellectually, that it wasn’t my fault that things fell apart. But I’ve been carrying this weight around inside me that maybe I could’ve just been a little bit better, easier, more adaptable. Ultimately in my head, I’m the common denominator that allows people to keep hurting me. We spend so long talking about how broken we are, how fucked up the world is and all the trauma we’ve had to deal with that excuses our poor behaviour that hurts the people around us. When we are the ones that get hurt we forget to look for that shine once the pain subsides. It’s not the thing we had at the start, but it’s still pretty spectacular

Where does the love go?

The world is obsessed with love. It’s unclear what love really means to people these days because the obsession has taken over. Is it presents and notes and falling asleep thinking of the same person on your mind when you wake up? That ping in your chest that mimics your phone when you get a message from them? Is it forgiving flaws and forgetting mistakes? Who the hell knows at this point.

My version of love is understanding. If you understand someone, I don’t think you can not love them. When you know why people make the mistakes they make and really see where there decisions lie. Even the worst decisions don’t make bad people. Humanity is inherently alright. Everyone’s fine, nobody is special, even the one taking up all your brain power. That doesn’t mean that we can’t love some people and not others. It’s a matter of knowing their vulnerabilities and seeing their strengths. So where does the love go after a heart break ?

Well for starters, heartbreak isn’t a disease. It’s strong and painful for sure, but it’s not a tangible virus that needs a cure. There’s plenty of research that suggests that being removed from someone you love, especially in a painful way, is akin to drug withdrawal. Of course that’s not easy. The thing that makes it hard is how the love remains. It’s much easier if you can just detox it. Get drunk, go running, on a holiday, whatever it takes to distract you until you can seep that drug out of your system. But where does it go when it leaves?

Love is a given, but relationships are not. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you need to accept things you are unhappy with. It doesn’t mean that you have to compromise or cross boundaries or stop doing exactly what you want. That’s all up to you. You can walk away at any point, from a friend, a partner or even family. It’s not easy, in fact, it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I hate walking away. I’m a fighter and I stand straight up to what I’m unhappy with and look it in the face, stare it down and win it over. It’s just how I work, I don’t like walking away from people. Probably, because I know that the people I love have so much good in them, even if they can only hurt me on the outside. I have real abandonment issues and I never want to leave anyone with the same. Having said that, I have done it. I’ve walked out of peoples lives with my head held high…and then cried to everyone I meet for the rest of the day. But I’ve done it all the same.

From my experience, after the heart break of walking away, or having someone walk away from you, the love doesn’t go anywhere. People come in and out of your life, but real love, that never leaves for me. Even the ones who have left me with scars I mourn daily, the love is underlying. Sometimes, I can even look at those scars with affection because of it. Like I said, when you know someone, how can you even stop loving them.

My Kind of Lonliness

Loneliness is one of those universal feelings that we can all recognise, yet it’s not something we talk about enough. Funnily enough, talking about it could be the cure, so how are missing that obvious irony so easily? 

There are different types of loneliness, and different feelings effect people in different ways. Personally, I felt it as a teenager when I couldn’t fit in, in new cities when I didn’t know people, in terrible relationships and when I lost prominent people in my life (through death, breakups, relocation…). Right now I’m feeling it because although I have a few incredibly close friends, I’ve lost a few friends that were very important. The people who I trusted, but weren’t my main source of emotional support. The few I could have fun with, but I didn’t see all the time. Obviously every friendship is different, but if you want to try and squeeze people into imaginary boxes then they were the circle just outside my very close friends. All of them gone, over the last 3 or 4 months. Poof. Vanished. 

They all have their own reasons of course, and I’m not arguing with them. Most of them found girlfriends and just stopped texting me back. One had the guts to actually tell me that his girlfriend felt uncomfortable about our friendship. I respect that, it’s upsetting, but it doesn’t surprise me that he was the one to come to me honestly. I know that was hard for him to admit. Ultimately, his honesty is one of the things I love about him. That and the fact that he was the only guy friend I had that I never worried about wanting more or judging me based on the fact that I am a woman. Interesting really that his girlfriend is uncomfortable about our relationship considering I appreciated it for exactly the opposite of what she’s worried about.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love the people in my life. But I’m not sure they’ll appreciate me messaging them 20 times a day with mildly humorous memes when I’m bored. Before, this was spread, now it’s condensed and I feel like an irritant. I’m an extrovert and I’d happily spend 5 or 6 nights a week with people. I don’t think my close introverted friends would appreciate that either. I don’t want to be needy, but I’ve lost people I love, that featured in my life daily and I don’t understand why. 

Another thing that bothers me is that I’ve been dropped for girlfriends. I feel reduced down to a “threat” that I don’t relate to. It makes me feel like I did something wrong. I know that’s not true, but when I’m sat by myself with no memes coming my way, it’s easy to convince myself otherwise. 

In my mind, I guess that’s loneliness. Those times when I feel unwanted and unimportant. A big part of any relationship is knowing you have an impact on the other person, so when you feel like your predominant impact is negative then the need to isolate yourself can over take any want to reach out. 

I read today that loneliness can be worse for your health than smoking, drinking and obesity. I can see that. Sometimes it physically hurts. I’d argue that it’s taken less seriously than anything else that has that kind of detriment to health. 

So if talking helps, like it does then most things, then I think we should talk about it more. This is probably why I posting this. I’m writing about it to help me, but posting it gives me the hope that it might help someone else. That makes me feel less lonely, the idea that talking about my problems openly might help someone else. I do feel a little better. Even though I’m still alone. 

International Women’s Day 2019

For anyone that knows me, it probably isn’t surprising that International Women’s Day is better than Christmas for me. I spent years trying to work out what my passion is when I was a kid. Seeing so many people discover their “things” and grow into themselves was awesome, but hard. I felt lost. It’s only more recently that I’ve realised that my passion is women. The fight for equality and the changing conversation about what that really means is what I care about. Everyone has a fire inside them and this is what lights mine.

I’ve talked before about how men could have more of an impact on the conversation (and lets be honest, stop violating and harassing women, that would be grand) and there’s still a long way to come, but I love this day because it really reminds me how far we’ve travelled and how proud I am to have so many amazing women in the world and my life.

Scrolling through social media this morning, I loved seeing different people’s perspectives on who they consider inspiration. Mothers, sisters, friends, colleagues and prominent women in history, they all matter to people in different ways. Each post was brimming with love and positivity. Two things we could all use a little more of.

When women show their emotion, their hysterical. When they take charge, they are bossy. When we stand up for ourselves, we’re crazy. But not today. We share our feelings and connections to other women, why they matter, and how they have changed us and we become empowered. We embrace our natural femininity and stand proud.

Equality was never about being the same, it’s about having the same opportunities. The problem is, the world is built for men. Everything from technology, work places and even health care (heads up ladies, signs of a heart attack look very different for us compared to what’s advertised). Through the battle to gain opportunities, we’ve become round pegs trying to fit into a square world.

Personally, I am incredibly emotional at times. That doesn’t make me crazy and difficult (like so many men in my life have told me), it makes me deep and complex and interesting, and allows me to connect with people in a way that that so many can’t. I cut through the bullshit and I’m honest. This doesn’t make me any less lady like, it means I’m fed up with placating society’s expectations of me. I love doing my make up and wearing “girly” clothes sometimes, but I want to be respected for my mind and my work, and what I wear shouldn’t be a consideration in that. Today, I am reminded to be proud of all these features I hold, and so many more. I will remember to question the people in my life that try to hold to their own standards and I will not be gaslighted into taking the easier way out by making myself smaller and easier to consume.

Thank you to all the women in my life that have shown me the way. That there is more than the path set for us by society and for paving the way to make it easier for me to walk my own way. I see you, I love you and I will never stop using my voice to hold you up.


My first day back at uni and I’ve spent all day researching and writing. Enough focus and concentration I forgot to eat, I didn’t wash up like I told myself I would, and it only required a single cup of caffeine. Funnily enough, we weren’t really given any work today, besides watching a news bulletin. After 6 weeks off for Christmas, I have to admit I was a little nervous about going into my second semester, of my second year. Half way through one of the biggest commitments of my life. Right in the centre of my most transformational decisions. Intimidating and kind of over whelming in the most exciting way.

Now it’s late and my eyes are blurring enough that the words I don’t recognise are starting to look more like hieroglyphics than any category of linguistics, I figured it was time to move on from research, but my brain hasn’t quite turned off. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot in the last semester and while I feel reflective, I’m also feeling proactive and ready to plan for everything that’s coming for me. In the spirit of taking charge and looking forward, I wanted to take a minute to put down on paper some of the things I’ve learnt lately.

Working at home can be isolating.

No one tells you that shit. Or talks about it at all really. They talk about how you have to be motivated and ambitious and organised, so when I got my current job then it seemed like something that would suit me perfectly. The problem is, I’m an extrovert through and through and I struggle to find inspiration when it’s just me and my mind. The words just don’t flow. I’m getting better with making sure I leave the house even when I have no reason to and I don’t rely on having the same conversations with the same people on my phone day in, day out. Other than that, I have no answers yet, but I know there will be a way for me to get out of the slumps somehow.

Sometimes good enough is good enough.

I have a bad habit of not starting things, then starting them and never feeling like they’re done. If I put a draft down for more than about 0.06 seconds then I never pick it up again for fear of accidentally rewriting every word. Sometimes I need to accept that maybe 90% is good enough. On a bad day, maybe 10% is good enough. That doesn’t mean I’m not capable, it just means I am human and have more in my life than just the work (I absolutely need to get the fuck on with). In the same breath, taking risks is everything. Giving something a go is more important than getting it perfect and I’ve learnt that there are people that will appreciate my work, at every level.

Everyone has a story.

Studying journalism really gets you to see people in a different way. Hold up, I’m aware that could sound exploitative but bare with me. I’ve clearly always been interested in people and how they think, but studying journalism has brought a new insight into the way I interact with them. Not everything, or everyone, can be pathologised, sometimes all they need is a voice. No answers, just words.

Read. Everything.

Read the news and features and fiction. Find facts and opinions and have one of your own. I dredged through most of the readings for last semester. Then the break happened and I went away by myself for a few days and read for fun for the first time in 6 months. Okay, sure, most of what I enjoy reading is research and non-fiction, but the intention was there. It brought me back to understanding why I write in the first place. Keeping informed and getting the real story is important. Small talk has it’s place too, but when was the last time you wrote something for the world to see without really thinking it through? Besides tragic Facebook status’, words in writing mean something consequential and are worth consuming. Words are the key to connecting and without them we are lonely souls in a silent hell filled with nonsensical, ill thought out nothingness.

Now is the time for ambition.

I’ve defended all the times I gave up, or quit or just fucking slept instead of thinking big and I don’t regret a single decision. I’ve had my lie ins, I gave myself time, and even though I have my moments of weakness, I know that I’m stronger for all of it. I’ve built my foundation, now is the time for my skyscraper.

The sky’s too limiting for what I’ve got ahead of me.

Lost and Found

Losing yourself is easy enough, in my eyes. People end up doing all sorts of weird things that don’t suit them or their life, for all kinds of reasons and then before you know it, they can’t even recognise themselves. I’m not immune to this despite my quest to “discover myself” *that term makes me cringe too, but it’s apt in this case*. I’ve worked really hard to be authentic in my decisions and to be sure about not just making the right choices, but why I’m making those choices. Still, over Christmas I completely lost sight of all that and have spent the first part of this year trying to claw it back.

In the past, I’ve been guilty of putting others before myself because of my fear of abandonment. I’ll go to the ends of the earth for the people I love, because then they won’t want to leave me. The biggest antidote to this? Being really harshly abandoned by my ex. I treated him like he defecated diamonds and it didn’t work, it just wasn’t enough (because we were terrible for each other, which now I understand). This put me in a place that made me realise I couldn’t rely on people the way I was before. They’re only human and I can’t just do nice things for them to hold them as some kind of emotional hostage in my life if they don’t want to be there. I’m far more chilled out in all my relationships now, if anything, I need to make sure I rely on my people when I really need a hand. Anyway, over Christmas people got busy and I got lonely. I sulked for a few days and it sucked, but I should have really pulled my head out of my ass at that point and got over it. I didn’t. I stewed and and pouted in my lonely little head and kept repeating “no one wants me” to myself. Very Kim circa 2017.

I’m very boringly guilty of being one of those people that doesn’t like trying sometimes for fear of failure. It’s so common it’s barely worth mentioning, but in the context of my uni course ramping up and being faced with some incredible opportunities that I have a real chance of getting, I’m kind of loosing my cool. I’ve been putting off getting stuff done over the last few weeks because it really matters to me. First drafts I will happily smash through, because they’re meant to be bad right?! But moving on from that and admitting that maybe this is the best I can do is scary, because what if it isn’t good enough!? One way of getting over this, is writing this blog! (Hi by the way, thanks for reading and not being mean :). I honestly appreciate it so much.) It’s a lesson in putting my self out there and fuck the consequences…Hence, I don’t always write much, because even though it’s not a big deal to most people, it’s astronomical to me. Sometimes the pressure I put on myself is just far too much. Add this to the fact that I am the oldest person on my course and people see me as an intelligent, hardworking, articulate person so just expect me to do well…Boom. Suddenly the weight of the world is on my shoulders and in my head if I fail or write something bad then life as we know it is going to fall apart and I’m to blame (I didn’t say that any of this was rational).

So, I’ve been avoiding work and telling myself that I’m inconsequential in everyone’s life basically. Today, I feel different. Yesterday I got a tattoo. It’s a cute hedgehog with flowers on my arm, it has no deeper meaning and really I hadn’t thought about it for that long. I just figured, why not? And that right there, that is how I get back to me. Why the fuck not!? I love living like that. Why not apply for that job, why not go to that gig by myself when everyone’s busy, why not talk to that stranger. That’s undeniably me all over, the thing I like most about myself and exactly what I need to remember next time I get lost. I don’t have a five year plan, I have a “what do I fancy today” plan. I don’t do new years resolutions or diets or promises to myself that I’ll be better next week. I do what I want and I want to be healthy and happy and successful, which means getting up and getting on with the things that scare me. Luckily, now I have a permanent reminder of this feeling in the form of a pretty hedgehog right on my arm.

The Death of Conversation


Screen time is something on everyone’s mind lately. It’s rotting our brains, making the kids want to kill themselves and each other and ruining marriages faster than Ashley Madison herself. We all think we’re immune, but it seeps into every social situation now days, and to be honest, I’m slowly inching towards putting my phone down for good.

Now, don’t think that the irony that I’m typing this on a screen first thing in the morning is lost on me, because it’s not. I’m as bad, of not worse, than a lot of people. I use my phone and computer for work a lot, but realistically, it’s not an excuse. I have two google alerts set up one for “communications” one for “social media”. If that doesn’t scream screen addict then I don’t know what does. I love computers and I love that they’ve opened a whole new career for me. It’s my social media time that I try and limit. I’m still aware that I use it more than most, and not really for anything productive, just that absent minded scrolling. I understand the need to engage the caveman side of your brain sometimes, just switch off and go on autopilot, but these hours scrolling aren’t a brain dead activity. I’m picking up social cues constantly on how I should look, what I should be doing with my life, how much more popular people are than me and, of course, how much happier they are. Maybe some of you are immune to that special brand of bullshit, I don’t know, but I know I’m not. So, I’m trying to become a conscious consumer and if I am using social media for absent minded nothingness, I’ll switch to a number game instead. I’m no scientist, but I’m sure their must be massive benefits for my well being.

I’m not perfect, but I am aware of be my behaviour, and I wonder how many people can be caught up in this epidemic if they had really understanding of how they used their phones. I’m meeting more and more people that don’t know how to cope without. They struggle with real life human interaction, and put online interactions on a pedestal. How often have you heard people say that they’ve met people they really connect with online, and what are the odds that these are the same people that would have a hard time approaching a stranger for directions or chatting up someone in a bar? The art of speaking to people has been lost a little, because we’re never alone. I’ve been for coffees by myself and sat in a bar and had a drink alone and it’s true, my natural response is to pull out my phone. When I don’t, almost every time, people approach me and talk to me. Sometimes it’s a meaningful encounter, most of the time it’s just a pleasant chat. I’m not sure how I would cope with that if I was more of a screen addict. I know people that play on their phones on purpose, to avoid the social interaction, which I can understand. Mainly it’s women who don’t want to be harassed, but spoiler!: having a screen in front of you won’t keep the creeps away. If anything, they’re the ones that are persistent enough to ignore your virtual force-field.

It’s not just talking to strangers that people are missing though, I know several people who will pull out their phones multiple times when we’re catching up one on one. Probably the same people that will ignore my phone calls, then text me asking “what’s up?”. It keeps the barriers up so they don’t really have to engage, because honest connection takes focus and attention. Maybe I should be more forgiving, after all, I am a fellow screen addict, but it makes me feel forgotten. I don’t know what you’re doing on there, but in my mind, you’re always connecting with people more interesting and important than me. I hope I’ve never made anyone feel that way.
I’m sure I’m not alone in that thinking. 50% of people say that social media has a negative effect on their romantic relationships. I know that relationships are hard and screens are easier, but screens can’t love you like people do. If the first thing you do when you wake up is check your phone instead of roll over and look at the one you love, if you’d rather talk to your friends from another country than ask the one in front of you what they’re thinking, if you’re looking for love online then batting away every advance from a real life person, the problem may not be the screen. If my phone died tomorrow, never to be resurrected, sure I would grieve. But part of me would be excited. So, I’m going to stop waiting for that day and make it happen, put my phone down and start looking people in the eye. Sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable, but growth doesn’t come from a comfort zone.

Calling Bullshit on Loyalty

Recently I was reading back stuff of the posts I never made public and came across one about loyalty. In the post, I talk about loyalty being my base line for any relationship, but one that people fall short from so often (booooyyy, I was angry…I wonder who had pissed me off). I was clearly emotional when I wrote it and only a few weeks later and I feel completely differently.

Loyalty means, essentially, nothing. People grow apart, move away, have families. There’s always something new which claims the prize of someone’s loyalty. It’s an outdated concept which carries a lot of obligation and baggage, two of my least favourite things. There are other things that are much more important to strive for in relationships; trust, respect and mutual interest. Mutual interest, for me at least, makes the most sense. The people in your life should add to your happiness, and you should be fine in your life if that’s not the case. It might sound jaded, and even boring, but you know you can trust someone if when they let you down, they also suffer. If one benefits when they screw the other over, then someone is always going to be suffering. Loyalty comes with sacrifice, but what are you sacrificing if you really want to share your life with someone?

In reality, if someone is staying out of a false sense of loyalty, obligation or pride then you should just let them leave. Equally, if someone asks for your blind loyalty then they aren’t expressing their love. They want you to belong to them and serve them. It carries a burden of unfair expectations. Unless you’re a spy who has pledged an allegiance to take a bullet for your country, then loyalty is misapplied on a daily basis.

Building trust with honesty and respect is what makes relationships last and I don’t think you can compromise on those things. It seems obvious, but I can’t count the number of times people have lied to me to save my feelings. Forget that. Respect me and give me the credit I deserve, I am stronger than people think and I trust my friends to be honest when I need to be told the hard truths. It’s part of life and I will always do the same for them. Everyone makes mistakes, we’re only human, and when you have two humans involved in one way or another then things are bound to go wrong every now and again. If people love you and they really know that you love them, saying the hard stuff isn’t so bad. If you’re sure that they won’t leave, even if you say something they won’t like, then you can be honest and the world doesn’t end. Even if they do choose to leave, isn’t it better that they are making an informed choice than trying to build on a cracked foundation?

Anyone can just not leave, who the hell cares. You get out of relationships whatever you put in, so if you want to stay in someone’s life, you’ll have to do more than just stay.

A History of Christmas

I don’t remember any Christmas’ in my first house before I was 10. I do remember a few houses along, when mum was so stressed out in general life that the pressure of the holidays meant she was exhausted and one glass of prosecco wiped her out by 11am. I remember when my little brother was born and I was so excited to have a kid in the family, but then he got really sick and I spent the whole week worrying about him. I remember my parents talking about cancelling Christmas because it was just too hard.

Then I grew up, and I moved away, and the hospitality life took over. I worked through most of the season, including Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (I guess you could say I was lucky enough to get the actual day itself off). It was busy and customers got mean. I still never had enough money to buy the presents I felt people deserved. Having a boyfriend, a fiancé, and then a husband came into play. Two celebrations! One with the new and wonderful stresses of having to buy people I didn’t know well presents and try and fit in with their bizarre traditions. I tried so hard that the first time I spent Christmas Day with them, I was tricked into eating game pate and threw up, a lot, on the way home. They all went pheasant shooting on Boxing Day and apparently, rather than ask me why I didn’t want to join, they figured it was appropriate to somehow induct me with this secret feeding. “You ate pheasant! One of us! One of us!”. (They never actually chanted. I’d imagine they would think that far too common). After that, things did get better. They weren’t exactly welcoming at the yacht club, but at least they left me alone. Last year, I had a terrible break up in November and it was still weighing on me heavily all over Christmas. I actually had 3 days off for the first time since I was 16, and had intended to spend the majority with him. Instead I sat on my parents sofa (also my bed at the time) and drank about 2L of gin.

My family can’t deal with a lot of interaction, and my mum usually works at least part of Christmas Day. My friends go off in all directions to their own families and have their own stupid traditions to stress about. It’s actually a very lonely time for me. I love my family and I love spending time with them, but this forced obligation just brings out the worst in everyone. No wonder customers were always mean around December. I have a weird family, but we do get on. We leave out the extended family, because it’s just more obligatory pressures and we stopped buying presents for each other a few years ago. Things should be better, they should be more simple and less stressful, but every year it’s something new.

I have a very different friendship group from this time last year and navigating the gift thing is always a game of nuance and mind games. The amount of people that have expressed sadness for me if this is the first Christmas they’ve known me makes me question my feelings. As if I should enjoy the whole crazy Christmas shopping experience, despite the busy shops, lack of money and zero originality about the whole thing. But when I check in with myself I realised that all the good things that Christmas is to everyone else is a part of my every day life. I make the effort to spend quality time with the people I love, I surprise them with gifts to let them know I think about them, I dress up and use too much glitter all the time, and I probably eat and drink too much of what I want every day of the week. So don’t feel sad for me. I don’t hate the holiday, it’s just that every day is better than Christmas. Especially without the garish wrapping paper and tacky decorations.