Look at me, a big smile on my face because minutes before I had graduated from University of Dundee, with a First Class Honours degree in MA English and Creative Writing. I walked across the stage (I was the tenth person I believe) and got bopped on the head, and screamed and clapped the rest of the way through. I'm not normally one to blow my own trumpet (I took piano and flute for a start) but I am so damn proud of myself for achieving the grades I did, getting an A for my dissertation which I actually really enjoyed writing, and for all the other personal gains I made along the way.

There are so many lessons to be learned at university. And not just in your classes. I feel like I completely grew as a person when I went to uni. I had a year of college where I do feel like I stepped away from the girl I was in school, but I know that during the past four years of uni I really learned more about myself, and what I want and need. I may eventually write a post about more practical tips for going to uni, but this post is a list of the things I personally learned, from friendships to missing your mum. I've also roped some of my friends into sharing their most important lessons too!

A tiny disclaimer: Please bear in mind that I loved uni. I'm even going back for a postgraduate degree (an MLitt in English Studies) because I love learning, literature and l... Dundee. I know it's not the same for everyone, but I feel like I graduated as a better person, and even though I don't completely know what the hell I want to do in my life, I know I'm more sure of myself than I ever have been. Onto the post...
Your confidence and sense of self will make leaps and bounds. Uni can be quite a stressful, anxiety-inducing time, it's true. But it is also the biggest contributor to my growing confidence in myself. I'm not the most confident person, but through uni I am comfortable speaking out in class, giving my own opinions, talking in front of groups of people, talking to strangers, and can see how my writing and analysis skills have grown immensely. I'm a quiet person by nature, but I learned I am not quiet-minded. I found myself doing things which I never thought I would before. It doesn't make things less terrifying, but now I know I can handle it.

You're not boring if you don't drink. Knowing your limits doesn't make you a dull person who can't enjoy themselves. Neither does just wanting to take a night off or just plainly not liking the taste of alcohol, or whatever other reason you may not want to drink. Over the past year I'd say 90% of the time I've had a few drinks I've had headaches on the night, so it's just not worth it to me to drink lots. I've learned that I enjoy a social drink, and I've recently got into gin and I am enjoying trying new ones, but the fact of the matter is that I absolutely hate the feeling of being drunk, and I don't really want to cause myself physical pain via those headaches, and that's totally cool. Additionally, people just don't care. I know drinking culture is huge at uni, but in my four years there was only a handful of times I felt I had to explain what's written in this paragraph to anyone.

Don't feel ashamed for enjoying uni. Lots of my time at uni was spent listening to people complain about classes or assignments. I 100% understand that university or academia in general is not for everyone, but it really does annoy me when I hear people complaining. I don't think some people understand how much of a privilege it is to be at university - in Scotland we don't have to pay for tuition, and it's something I think too many people take for granted. I like going into a class and hearing an interesting lecture from a person who is so excited about their research. I like giving and hearing opinions about texts, and reading all of these books and articles which I might have not known about otherwise. I like forming my own opinions and talking about them with other people. There's a strange air around uni that it's cool to not care, but actually, I think it's great to be excited about learning. Uni is just a waste of time otherwise.
Don't feel ashamed for doing well. More often than not, at uni you will hear people talking about how badly they've been graded in an essay, or how they haven't studied for an exam, or how they can't be bothered doing their resits. And you know what, studying isn't my favourite thing - shock horror. But when I put lots of effort in, and get a good grade, I should feel proud of that. Especially because I quite often enjoy the process of researching a topic I've picked myself. Yes, it can be gruelling, but I get satisfaction from seeing a project through to the end. Because there's such a big focus on how badly we're all doing, it does sometimes feel awkward to say that actually, I did get an A for that essay. I think it's the fear of coming off as a massive geek, the classic high school cliche. Grades aren't everything, of course, but they are still something to celebrate. Instead of being ashamed for doing well, be proud of yourself.

Opportunities are there when you look for them. University can be quite overwhelming at first, so I don't blame anyone for not immediately searching out new things to do - I will hold my hands up and admit that I didn't really participate in extra-curricular things in my first two years of uni. I felt like there wasn't really anything there for me because all I heard about was sports. However, when I got to the end of my second year and had made a few close friends, I realised how much there was for me to do. Throughout my years at uni I have had an internship, two jobs, become the fashion editor of the uni magazine, won an award, sat on the English, Film and Creative Writing stall at multiple open days for the uni, and attended a whole host of different events. Not to mention all the people I've met through all these things. I've made such a supportive group of friends, was in a relationship for two years, and found mentor figures in tutors.

You can't make people like you. I was really lucky with my coursemates throughout uni, in that I feel like we all got on so well, and even if you weren't ~proper~ friends with someone, they'd still be up for a friendly chat while waiting in the hallway. However, I had a nightmare situation with flatmates in which I admittedly had no backbone. I let them walk all over me, and it took an annoyingly long time for me to finally accept that I couldn't make them like me, no matter how nice I was to them. Some people just aren't worth your time! No matter how many lovely people you meet, there is always bound to be someone who doesn't vibe with you. Think of the phrase you can be the juiciest peach in the world and there will always be someone who doesn't like peaches. Your energy is best spent on yourself and the people who do get you.
You're an adult, so you will be treated like one. You are expected to organise yourself, to be a self-starter and to look after yourself. You can't just expect someone else to tell you exactly where you need to be, to go, or what to do. Email alerts sent straight to your phone are your best friend, as is an academic diary (whether paper or digital) and if all else fails, a group chat with course-mates to double check how do I reference a quote from a website again? Your tutors will treat you as if you've got your shit together. So if you don't? Go ask for help and they will happily lend you a hand. Being an adult doesn't mean knowing everything all the time. If anything, being an adult is knowing that asking for help is ok. You can't rely on other people to help you out without voicing that first.

It's ok to go home and be cared for. Yes, your independence is great, but sometimes you just need home. It's not good to run away from your problems, but it can be beneficial to just go home for a few days and have your family around you. If I'm having a stressful time, it's nice to be around my home comforts, having family movie nights, and having someone else cook my meals for a couple days. And even if I'm not stressed it's fun to go and visit anyway for a break from the uni routine. It puts your uni life in perspective, and gives you the time to properly switch off for a little while. There's nothing wrong with wanting your mum's advice, your dad's pizza, and your sister's hugs.

It's ok to not know what you're doing when you graduate. It's a small group of people who come to uni knowing exactly what they're doing afterwards, and an even smaller group who actually get a job straight after. Some people go into a career which doesn't have anything to do with the degree they studied, but the years of study and personal growth still prepared them for it. It is not a waste of time to study something which you thoroughly enjoy, because eventually you will find a way to mesh it into a future career. Yes, life is short. But there's also no reason to rush. You will find your way.
And now, a few lessons from my friends. Keep in mind they are all talented creative writers, which is how they've all shown me up on my own blog...

For me, the best thing I learned at uni was the importance of doing something you want and love. To spend around 4 years of your life on something you love makes the experience all the more memorable. The emphasis should not be on doing a degree that will get you the best paying job but a degree that you will find interesting and enjoy studying.
Hamzah


University taught me a little about study and a lot about life. It was a period of instability that forced me to take control, whether or not I was ready for that kind of responsibility. It challenged my mental health, my bank account, and my liver. It may not have been the easiest ride, but I learned plenty of important lessons along the way: leaving things until the last minute never works out well, talking out problems is better than isolating yourself and pretending that everything is fine, living alone can in some ways be harder than living with people you dislike, and many things besides. University experiences taught me to take time for myself, and to listen to my heart but also to my friends and family. It taught me to ask for help whenever I need it, whatever I may need help with. I may not have left university with a concrete idea of who I am and what the future holds, but I left it as a more mature and ultimately better person.


Sometimes, always, there are those who stand out in a crowd—not because they are the
one to step up front and kneel to rise again.

What makes them stand out is that they don’t seek out attention at all; they bow before
the world and remain there. They are cracking the stiff spine to find a language so lovely
one cannot but whisper its words aloud and watch the letters wrap themselves in all the
silent spaces between the lonely and the loved. These people are the combination of
many things—humility, kindness, sincerity, quiet resolve and endurance.

I have learned many things at university. How to embrace culture. How to listen. When to
speak. What to say. The time it takes to scribble down a list in the library. How many
skips on Spotify to save whilst studying. Where to find the best Chinese Crispy Rolls. The
most calming woodland walk to escape city centre bustle.

When to give-up and rest. The lyrics to subtitled songs. three lenses on an old camera.
How to save pennies. Public-speaking. Interview-questions. Sitting quietly—with other
people, all alone. To love without all the rest—without knowing what comes next.

I have learned many things at university, and still, I think the most valuable lesson I have
learned these past three years is how to find those who stand out in a crowd. The ones
whose gracious speech is as sweet and soothing as honey to the soul.
Shanley


The biggest lesson I learned at uni was that versions of yourself expire. Naturally. If you hold on to them, they’ll start rotting any new versions that you try to become. A lot of students are driven, obsessive, academic types – those types can spend so long pursuing a vision, at the expense of everything else, that by the time they manage to conjure it into reality, it’s already irrelevant. Dead weight. It took a long time for me to get that into my head, but eventually I stopped pursuing ideas of myself that looked or sounded nice – “friends forever”, “top of the class”, “his girlfriend”, “a scientist”, “a thin person”, “a boho gal”, “a novelist” – and learned to write something off quicker if it wasn’t making me happy. So I guess the biggest thing I learned at uni is that I don’t know very much about myself at all. But at least I read a shitload of books. And made some stellar friends – including you, Emily. Love you xoxo

(Also – make your bed as soon as you get out of it. It stops you crawling back in, and you will want to crawl back in some days. So trust me, make your bed. You’ll feel better.)
Rebecca

Dear,
The girl who still loves him, even though it is a different kind of love.

I started writing this letter to an unknown girl. I imagined her as a twenty-something creative, a girl who had got over the all-consuming part of heartbreak, and was milling around in the part where it doesn't hurt so much, but it's not quite gone yet. And then, as every writer does I'm sure, I realised I was writing to myself. Part of me wants to hate the man who made me fall in love with him. He's the man who pursued me, who won me over and made me vulnerable and strong at the same time. He's the man who made me happier than I could have ever imagined, who had me dreaming of a future life I had never pictured before. And he is the man who ended it. The one who took it all away. This letter is to myself, but also to the other girls who don't hate their ex-boyfriends.
It's important to state the difference between loving someone and being in love with them. When we were together I was in love with him. Very in love. And I still was for a while after he broke up with me. The thing is, he had time to get over the relationship before it was over, whereas I was thrown into single life in an instant. And even though it did take a long time to accept it, I taught myself to love him without being in love with him, the man who once told me that he didn't want to be in a relationship anymore. I taught myself to look at him as a person, not as my boyfriend. My ex-boyfriend. I don't not hate him because I'm in love with him, the reason I don't hate him is because he's a good person and because, I like to think, so am I. He hurt me, but I am working to forgive him for that.

There are still times when I have to remind myself that I can't rely on him anymore. It could be something as trivial as realising that I've only been to the cinema once over the summer because that was Our Thing that we did together. Mammia Mia: Here We Go Again is a pretty good single film to see, but if we were still together we would have had at least one cinema day trip (that's two films including a trip to McDonalds) by now. Or it could be something more serious. Like picking up the phone to call him when something bad has happened, only to realise that he can't always be the shoulder to cry on, and putting the phone away.

While at first I felt pride when people would tell me that I am so mature for still being friends with him, a better person than they are, now I wonder if I am fooling myself. Because when he told me that he has met someone new, and it scares him how much he likes her, I cried. I remember when he said that about me, before he changed his mind. I couldn't help but think about the beginning of our relationship and how incredibly happy I was, and feel down that he is now enjoying that with someone else. I realised that when he said, "I don't want to be in a relationship," he really meant, "I don't want to be in a relationship with you."

The thing is that I didn't cry because he was with someone else. I knew it was going to happen one day. I've talked to other people myself, even. I cried because he told me how much he likes her, and I wasn't ready to think about that yet. 

It's not easy. It's one of the toughest things I have ever done, keeping him in my life.
There are still so many unsaid things. Things that I let go of when we were together because a relationship is about compromise and in the big picture of my life, they didn't matter. But even now, I feel sad when I remember how he tarnished my 21st birthday, and I feel utter shame when I remember what he told me about my body in an argument one time, and I feel total hopelessness when I remember that he said he would never hurt me and that's exactly what he did. I tell myself these things because the pain is easier to handle when I can displace it into him. I don't tell him these things, because in reality I know that I let them go in the past because I wanted to let them go. It was a wonderful relationship. The perfect first love. It was just always meant to end because while I was happy to push through, he wanted to run from the struggle.

Even that sentence gives me chills. I can't hate him for not wanting to be in a relationship. I know this.
He's a good person. And the thing is, even though space between us is necessary, and he's moved to another city, I know that I couldn't say goodbye to him forever. For every negative feeling that I experience when I see him living his life outside the boundaries of mine, I know that this is the life he chose. It may not be the one I pictured for the two of us, but hopefully one day we will both be able to share our happy lives together. Not romantically, but as good friends. Friends who know each other so well, and can see that they are both content.

I don't hate him. I want him to be happy.

This letter, although it is for the unknown girl, and for myself, will inevitably find him. And I hope that when he sees it, he understands that this comes from a place of wanting to be strong. It comes from a place of accepting that things are forever changed and that even though it is hard, it is worth it. This letter is to say that it is ok to not hate your ex-boyfriend. It is ok to love him, because you know the difference now, and your heart can open for someone else. You will fall in love again.

So here's to you, the one who is caught in a limbo. Knowing that you can't be with him, not even wanting to be with him, but loving him all the same.
This is a very belated post, as my Grad Ball was in June, but I was looking through photos and you know what, I think it's worth sharing. I really loved my ball dress! It was definitely a struggle to find (more on that later) but I felt so me. I was also a fan of my makeup - you guys know me, I'm not super adventurous, but I felt really pretty and it lasted so well. So here's a look at my outfit, and my makeup. Apologies that I don't have many great photos, it was one of those nights...
Today I want to talk about the toxic side of the internet. The social justice warrior, call-out culture side. It's the part of the internet that I detest the most, and the part that sometimes makes me want to shut my laptop and switch off my phone, and never look at social media again. A little dramatic, I know, but more and more it gets me down and makes me feel hopeless. I think the internet has taken a step from being woke to being vicious, and it's something I really want to discuss.

During my days on Tumblr when I was a teen, there was a sense that I was far more mature than some people in my real life. I can admit that. I felt like I had been given a peek at all of these different people, circumstances and stories. Although I have always been an open-minded person, my eyes were opened to new people. I met people who had mental health issues, who had been sexually assaulted, who were transgender or non-binary. And more importantly, I learned how all of these people viewed the world. I saw how all of these issues related to the greater world, to politics and society. I really do thank the internet, particularly Tumblr, for opening me up to so many other points of view. I could introduce my family or friends to alien concepts to them, stand up for small injustices, and generally just feel like a better and more woke human.

The thing is, I now realise that it is far more mature to be restrained with your opinions. Shout about the things that matter, but understand that not everything is a fight. Sometimes there really are more important things going on.

The internet is a double-edged sword. I love how it connects us, but I hate how we can't escape it. I love how we can gain so much knowledge, but hate how it gives many people a false sense of truly understanding a topic. I love how people can bear their souls and receive the response they need to hear, but I hate how we are all open to attack from anyone. Social media is not real life. What someone shares online does not match up to reality. No matter how honest someone is online, there will always be things unsaid. It's not up to those following them to try and fill in the gaps.

And yet, that's how it's going, isn't it? Someone could make a comment and in seconds it's blown up out of proportion. For some reason unbeknown to me, the internet doesn't like nuance. Every misguided comment is a reason to attack someone's entire being. You aren't allowed to make a mistake because that means you're a horrible person. Reacting by educating someone is a ridiculous notion because everyone should know the correct response to every situation already. And even comments which don't mean anything remotely sinister are ruthlessly picked apart. People have different lives, different opinions. It doesn't mean either person is wrong. But on the internet, if someone differs from you, it's something to shout about.
ASOS CARDIGAN (similar)

I can look back and see moments where I let the internet hoards dictate who I should and shouldn't like. I remember people screaming about how trash X famous person was and why they're horrible, and I listened to them. I wouldn't watch certain films, certain YouTubers, or listen to certain bands. If someone in my life liked that person then I felt it my duty to list all the reasons of why they're problematic. However, I'm now very much a 'stay in your own lane' kind of person, only speaking up for issues which I feel actually hold a purpose. When I look at said people now I realise that they are humans who made a mistake and who, the majority of the time, have profusely apologised and are genuinely sorry for what they did. But the internet doesn't like people to have a life or career after a mistake.

I hope it's clear that when I talk about mistakes, that I mean misguided, uninformed statements or actions. What I don't mean is inexcusable behaviour such as abuse or assault. Without nuance, the internet equates rape with accidentally calling someone by the wrong pronouns. 

This is a topic I've been talking about ~irl~ for a while now, but recently there was an incident that really ground my gears, and made me want to try and verbalise how I'm feeling in the chance that it will make other think too. James Gunn (writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vols. 1 and 2) was recently fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Why? Because he wrote some controversial tweets years ago, which he has since apologised for, and people found them and complained and campaigned to get him fired. Jack Howard's recent tweets sum up my feelings:

'In a time of the internet, when we have an ease of contact to the creative people we admire, the thing it’s too often used for is attacking them. I hate it and I don’t understand it. [...]
This James Gunn thing is insane and sets an awful precedent. No one is allowed to make mistakes because if you do, you’re accountable FOREVER and can never learn from them. WHAT!? Like, what? What’s happening?' [x]

I'm not going to go into the minutia of every detail of the case, you can read about it yourselves if you're not familiar, but I will say that I firmly believe this is an instance where the internet has taken a step too far. If James Gunn was still making all these risque comments then yes, I would understand why people would argue against him being part of the largest franchise around right now. However, he wholeheartedly apologised for his past comments, and even explained why he made them - not to defend himself, because he knows he was wrong, but to make clear that he does not hold the same views now. The thing is, there is a large chunk of the internet that doesn't care. They don't care that he's admitted he made a mistake, because as Jack Howard states, when you do you're accountable forever. James Gunn has been fired because people can't fathom how someone could make a mistake and learn from it.

But it's not only celebrities who face all of this backlash. It feels like everyone is open to attack. Do you ever read the tweets below a tweet that has gone viral? Amongst all of the 'didn't happen' responses (which is another pet peeve of mine - why do you give a shit) there will always be someone being contrary. It's almost as if some people believe that they have to comment on everything they see, as if the world absolutely needs to see their opinion. But in reality, there is a lot more power in biting your tongue. The thing about the internet is that it gives a voice to anyone. And a lot of the time, that's a great thing. Like I talked about earlier, without the internet I wouldn't know about so many issues that affect people who aren't like me. But by giving a voice to everyone, a cacophony of opinions are being heard. And sadly, the people who shout the loudest are the people who hold negative opinions.


The way I see it, a lot of people need to take a long hard look at how they use the internet. Think about a stupid comment or action you made when you were younger: we've all done it. How would you feel if that mistake was held over your head forever? How would you feel if people wouldn't give you the chance to apologise? To learn and move on? I'm not saying that we should always let things go and never stand up for issues, but to take a step back and think about the situation before reacting. Sometimes people just make naive or ignorant comments, it happens. There is a polite way to inform someone of that. A simple, 'Hey, I don't think you meant anything bad by this but I just want to let you know that...' is a lot more effective than setting an angry internet hoard onto a person. It shows that you're trying to educate, not attack. It also gives the person a chance to apologise, and more importantly, learn so they know not to do it again.

I'm not saying that no one ever does anything wrong. We're all human, we do. And that's exactly my point. We're all human, and we can all learn, if only we are given the correct tools.

I'm aware that I'm trying to tackle a problem that can't be fixed overnight. But I really hope that this post gives you a moment of pause. I'm not trying to silence people, as everyone is entitled to their opinions. However, I think it would be highly beneficial if everyone were to consider a situation before jumping down someone's throat. We live in a world where everything feels like a battle, and I think some people really do get offended over things which in the big picture don't matter. Ask yourself, is it really important? Does your opinion actually matter here? Consider the nuance, and consider how you can turn the situation into something positive, rather than a witch hunt.
I've been on holiday! I happily tagged along on my family's holiday to Cornwall, somewhere we've been many times before, although not for a good few years. It was nice to revisit as a twenty-something, as I felt I had more of an appreciation for the gorgeous landscapes and food, rather than simply begging to go to the beach every day. I thought, seeing as I'm quite well-versed in a good chunk of Cornwall, I'd put together a little guide complete with lots of photos. Cornwall is the perfect place to pick a spot and walk along the coast, or visit the various little towns and beaches, but here are some highlights that might be of interest...
I thought it was about time for an 'everyday face' update, the products I'm reaching for all the time. We all know I'm a creature of habit so these products aren't new to me (except one) and one is actually an old favourite rediscovered but hey, at least you know I love them! Now that the weather is starting to heat up I'm trying to work out what my summer makeup wardrobe consists of. It's not totally different from my usual, but I'm keen to try and use as little products as I can. We're talking quick, glowy, bronzed skin, shimmery eyes, and a juicy sheer lip.
This is a sponsored post

It's summer! Sort of. Scotland keeps going through day-long heatwaves followed by rain and a drop in 10 degrees the next day. However, I've still been compiling a list of summery clothes that I've been lusting after. I like to think my picks are quite sensible - being relatively covered up with trousers and jumpsuits which work for drearier days, but using light materials that are still lovely and breezy when the temperature climbs.
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