Today is my birthday! I'm turning the grand old age of 22. I've said before that I'm not big on my birthday, it's something that I like to acknowledge, but I'm not one to throw a huge party. For example, today I'm working on my dissertation and watching I, Tonya, which is good enough for me! For my 19th birthday I wrote a post titled 19 Things I Learned Before Turning 19, and I wanted to do something similar. However, instead of telling you more things I've learned since - believe me, there is surprisingly a lot and that may fuel a blog post for another day - I thought I'd tell you more about me. We all know my tastes around here, but here are 22 things that you may not have been aware of before...
One of the best lessons I learned last year was to listen to my skin. I, like so many others who read beauty blogs, became consumed with finding the best skincare that I could afford, and had a list the length of my arm of products I 'needed' to use. I would say I was a skincare obsessive, with a long routine for both morning and night. But when my skin kicked off last year, resulting in constant breakouts all over my face, I knew that all of my products weren't actually giving me the amazing skin I had previously praised them for. It made me question what I'd been told by so many others, and it's only when I took the time to care for myself my way that I began noticing a difference...
I think people are lying when they say they are 100% confident with their creative work. I think creatives, in general, are self-critical and let's face it, perfectionists. Something happened over the past year for me, and so I wanted to talk about confidence when it comes to my creativity. The lack of, the learning curve, and a little pep talk...

From September to November I was working on my final Creative Writing folio in my undergrad career. Each year we compile pieces of work and submit them to be graded, and then we do it all again the next year hoping that we've learned. And every year I have felt as if I've learned more, and that I've improved as a writer. And every year, my grade has been lower than the one before it. Now, grades aren't the end-all-be-all, and Creative Writing as a subject is obviously one of the most subjective out there, but it has still been fairly damaging for my self-confidence. Here I am, feeling as if I've accomplished something, and I'm getting told I haven't hit the mark.

This time round, I poured my heart and soul into the folio. I wrote about a subject I've always shied away from, and one that was so raw at the time - love, and the heartbreak that comes with it. While the characters weren't me, they were still speaking the lines I feel, going through the emotions I had experienced not long before writing (and was still going through, to be quite honest). While my other folios had been what I thought was good writing, this folio was a little piece of my heart. And how did I do? I got the lowest grade of my entire university career.

I don't want to write a rant about the person who marked my folio. I'm well aware that Creative Writing is an incredibly subjective subject, and that one person's opinion on my work isn't legally binding. But it's still devastating, hearing that a professor doesn't think your work is noteworthy, especially when it was such a personal project for me. I can't lie, I had a bloody long cry after I saw my grade staring back at me, and spent weeks feeling like I'd failed. I picked up my marked folio and immediately filed it away, and I still haven't looked at all the comments. I suppose I still do feel a sense of failure (it doesn't matter as much to me now, but rejection and failure are tough for me to get over) but it also had me trying to change my thought process and think about what things I am good at.

I threw myself into writing for this blog. This is a space where I can write about literally anything I want, and no one except me is going to stop me. I can write in a chatty way, I can break rules with grammar (to an extent, I'm still an English Lit student. And not an animal), I can be the final say on what text hits the internet. And I still added to that folio I'd made. I'm so proud of it. It gets me down that it was graded so low, but in the larger scheme of things I think I achieved something. I understood what writing from the heart truly is, and I learned what style I love. My blogging style and my "creative" style is very different, but I'm becoming confident with that. I have different emotions connected with both kinds of writing, and that's ok. Maybe one day I'll share my non-bloggy writing on here, but for now I'm content with keeping them separate.

The grade has made me re-think the career path I want to take. I know that from the outside looking in, it might seem like I'm running away from Creative Writing because I got a bad grade. But actually, I think it made me wake up to the fact that I wasn't feeling completely fulfilled by that half of my course. I'm probably still going to apply to study a further year of Creative Writing, because I genuinely would like to learn more, but I've also decided to branch out and consider the English Lit part of my course. Those are the classes that I've actually enjoyed more over the years, so I'm now looking into whether that's the route I want to go down. It's nice feeling like I have more options. In a way, it's a good thing that I got this grade, or else I'd still be on the path which I imagined for myself months ago, a path which now I'm not sure is for me.

I don't think I can say I'm confident in my creativity. Sometimes I think I am, but more often than not I feel like a bit of a fraud. The thing is, when I feel good about what I can do, I damn well go for it. The key to being creative, I've found, is that when you have an idea you should run with it. And even if someone doesn't like it, it shouldn't disregard the effort you've put in and the love you have for the finished product. No one else should dictate how you feel about your own creativity, even those who are accomplished in that field. It's something I'm still trying to accept, but at least writing this out marks that I'm willing and ready for the change to happen.

Some things for myself (and hopefully you) to take away from this:
1. If you're proud of something, that's it. You've achieved something, no matter what anyone else thinks.
2. Even though grades are important, they are not everything. They guide a lot of things when it comes to academia, but they should not affect your self-worth.
3. You should listen to the people who do support you, because something as simple as "I liked this!" means so much, and fills your heart with so much more joy than an A will.
4. Just go for it. You can do it.

Charlotte Tilbury is one of those dreamy brands. I find myself browsing the website weekly, lusting after all the products. The only thing is, I find it really hard to make a decision. What lipstick shade do I want? What one of those eyeshadow quads is the most me? Are the face masks really worth the price? Then came along the Instant Look in a Palette. After a while of deliberating over what colourway to go for (you never make it easy, Tilbury) I finally bought it, and I'm pretty besotted...
Hair care is often a neglected topic on my blog. I've shared the odd product along the way, but nothing too substantial. Three years ago I wrote about something I'd been trying for a good few months, once a week hair washing. But at that point, I had completely untouched (not bleached or coloured) hair, and it was down to my waist, not the 'lob' style I've got now. I thought I'd combine these two ideas into one blog post - so here's a rundown of two hair care and styling loves, and a little chat about whether washing my hair once a week has stuck...
It's time for another Currently Listening To! A list of songs I've found myself playing over and over throughout the past couple months or so. As always I feel like a lot of these were influenced by films I watched. There's the IT soundtrack, songs from Call Me By Your Name, and a rediscovery of America's Sister Golden Hair which I heard for the first time in a while during a Miss Stevens watch. But there's also a running theme of some nice and chill songs which I had in the background while I was getting through dissertation reading - with some more upbeat bops to get me motivated. And of course, a song from my new Father John Misty vinyl (the prettiest thing ever!), a lovely Christmas gift. Enjoy!

1. Sister Golden Hair >> America
2. Six Different Ways >> The Cure
3. Dear God >> XTC
4. I Love You, Honeybear >> Father John Misty
5. Junk >> Paul McCartney
6. Mystery of Love >> Sufjan Stevens
7. Visions of Gideon >> Sufjan Stevens
8. Love My Way >> The Psychadelic Furs
9. Run For Cover >> The Killers
10. Should I Stay or Should I Go >> The Clash
11. Romeo and Juliet >> The Killers
12. Never Give Up On Me >> MisterWives
13. Any Time At All >> The Beatles
14. House of My Soul (You Light The Rooms) >> Langhorne Slim
15. Whole Love >> Wilco
16. City of Angels >> The Head and the Heart
17. Simple Song >> The Shins

I know this is a self-indulgent post, but because this purchase is so exciting for me, I really wanted to share it with you all. Since Pop & Suki launched I've followed them on Instagram, liking every photo and lusting after every style and colour option they came out with. When, a few months ago, they came out with their Camera Bag in red, I knew I had to set my mind on getting that bag. Say hello to my new baby...
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