Confident in my own skin

In one of my previous blog post I spoke about how conscious I was at showing any amount of leg. For those who haven’t read it – see below; for those who have – skip ahead! 

It’s incredibly rare that I walk around in public showing my bare legs – be that in summer, on holiday or even at the beach.

It’s partly to due with the fact that I am always cold, but mostly because it’s something I am just not comfortable with. I used to run around with shorts as a child, climbing trees – being a monkey – you know the jazz. But, when I got older I became more and more self conscious about my body, and the part that I hated the most were my legs. I have scars from a cat, bruises from my monkey adventures, dry skin and to top it off I’ve forever had this thought that my legs are just too plump.

So, when it came to taking pictures with a dress/ skirt recently – the mere thought of not wearing tights made me not want to do it. I felt a little pressured to have to wear it without tights as there seemed to be no one on social media doing it – and you know conformity.

So I decided to rebel, I wore sheer tights and took the photos anyway. I’m sure there are people who will say it would look better without tights, but the one thing I realised is how much more comfortable I felt with them on. I wasn’t thinking about my scars, my dry skin or my bruises – I was focusing on enjoying myself instead.

I have just returned from my trip to Italy where I roamed the streets of Milan and Venice wearing play-suits and dresses without tights.


And guess what? I did not care about whether my legs looked plumpy or dry. I didn’t care about the scars on my legs or my darkened knee caps. I truthfully couldn’t care what my legs looked like, I was in love with all my summer outfits and having a blast focusing on the cities and not my legs. Yes, I may not YET be comfortable with being barelegged everyday, particular when in England but doing so on holiday is actually a big step for me. Walking around in Milan – taking small steps to the bigger goal 

I have spent a good year consciously making an effort to be more accepting of myself and my flaws. I have slowly pushed my boundaries in this case from thick tights to sheer tights to no tights on holiday. I have surrounded myself with positive people who encourage me to be comfortable in my own skin. Reflecting on this trip I have realised how far I have come and how confident I have grown in being in my skin. It is amazing how a little bit of effort into looking after yourself, focusing on your well being and working on you can actually have such a positive impact. I am actually excited to see where I am a year from now.

Love and light

xo

Getting lost in Venice

After travelling around Milan – very much glued to Google Maps to guide us around, we decided to consciously only use our phones to capture moments in Venice (of which there was plenty – sorry for the spam instagrammers). It made such a huge difference but I’m not sure if that’s also because of the way Venice is laid out, that is easy to manoeuvre.

We spent our entire time walking around on foot, without a map and guided by ‘oo look that way looks interesting’ or ‘something smells good this way’. We did take a Gondola boat with a bunch of lovely strangers who I’m sure thought I was crazy as I started a discussion on whether Venice residents have to pay Canal tax or boat insurance.

Venice is truly an amazing place to wonder. Every road looks interesting, the main tourist areas are flooded with markets and shops and the locals are really friendly. Even as you sit by a quiet canal, you are welcomes by locals passing my in their boats with, ‘Buongiorno’ (Good morning!) or ‘Caio’ (Hello).

So, my main advise for people that are thinking of going to Venice is:

1. Simply wonder.

2. Take a Gondola, they tell you a bit of history about Venice.


3. Visit the Rialto Bridge that is near the Fondaco dei Tedeschi luxury mall. Enter the mall, avoiding eye contact with all the shiny objects and make your way up to the terrace, then simply enjoy the view!


4. Visit the markets, they are filled with goodies

5. Buy take away pizza, crepes or gelato and sit down by a quiet canal and eat

Stepping into the unknown – Milan

I’ve been on holiday before with my family, I’ve travelled across seas to visit friends but this was the first time that I was travelling to a city I had never been to, where I didn’t know the language and I knew absolutely no one. For the first time I was stepping into completely new territory – I was both excited and nervous at the same time. I was travelling with my cousin though so at least if we got horribly lost we were lost together. There’s some comfort in that.

Package essential: phone, portable charger, phone charger, portable devise charger (yes I’m packing for the highly likely case we get absolutely lost) and clothes.

We arrived in Milan early morning and the weather was beautiful. We set off to find our airbnb and guess what we got lost! Thank you Google Maps for being there for me in my desperate times and for bringing me back on track when I stray. You are my saviour!

All in all my fears of being in a new country didn’t last long. Google maps really helped as our tour guide plus in touristic areas restaurants, and train station employees actually understood you but the further you ventured the harder the communication barrier was. But a few words with an Italian accent with hand gestures and people seemed to understand what I wanted. If all else failed there was always Google translator!

In truth what I realised during this trip is how reliant I am on technology and I wonder how difficult I would have found this trip without it. Perhaps in Venice I will set aside my device and simply wonder!

What I learnt about Milan:

1. There are a lot of green doors


2. The buildings are incredibly tall
img_5847
Duomo Milano Cathedral. A Gothic Cathedral that’s hard to miss. You can even see it even before you get out of Duomo station.

img_5851

Duomo Milano Cathedral door up close. This isn’t even half the door in the picture.

img_5995

Galleria Vittoria – right next to the Duomo Cathedral. I swear I spend the whole time facing the sky in here. Bit pricey but worth seeing.

3. Hot water is rarely if ever ordered. I really struggled when trying to communicate what I wanted to them. Often trying various synonyms: boiled water, kettle water, heated water etc Most of the time I was successful, I did give up once though.

4. The coffee, even latte, is tiny. Tiny but strong.

5. The gelato is amazing!


6. Validate your tickets when using a train! We got fined but it’s only £10 so it’s not too bad but you really don’t want to be paying fines on holiday.

Me time is so underrated

IMG_9755

This picture was taken at Battersea Park, somewhere I have explored on my own but obviously this picture was not taken when I was alone. It looks like I’m being all reflective and thoughtful on my own so let’s pretend it fits.

Though-out my years (I make myself sound old) I have changed my view on ‘me time’ dramatically. When I was younger, I had a lot of ‘me time’, predominately reading, drawing and getting on with my academic learning. As someone who struggled with anxiety being alone was sometimes the easiest option. Getting close to people was scary.  This kind of ‘me time’ I would not say was healthy at all, it was driven by fear not a love for my own company.

A few years later I then did a complete 180, I became so dependent on people. I was always speaking to someone. People became a distraction from the negative thoughts I was prone to when alone. Even after I started to be a more positive and mindful person, that dependence that I had grown accustomed to stayed. It was a habit.

The concept of going for a coffee or seeing a film alone was bizarre. If I was going out, it was to see someone. I mean why would you do those activities on your own? What was there to enjoy? Even if I wanted to really go somewhere or see something I wouldn’t if no one else would come with me. I wouldn’t want to be alone and have that experience alone. Isn’t that crazy? But I think it’s something that many people probably feel. I have met people who have wanted to go somewhere, try something, travel somewhere but didn’t because they couldn’t find someone to go with.

I decided to change that part of me.

2016-08-06 16.56.09

Caramel Creme with Shia, on a stroll through Greenwich!

I started to go places and explore things on my own. I started small: grabbing a coffee on my own, then sitting in a coffee shop to working there on my own. Next I started shopping on my own. This was truly an eye opener because it allowed me try new things, things that I would have felt uncomfortable trying with others because it may have been ‘judged’. I could take my time to explore stores I liked which sometimes isn’t to the taste of my friends. I could experiment with my style and find myself without the input of others and this has really helped me to find my style (something I am still doing).

I then started to write lists of places I wanted to see and started to explore them on my own. There were a lot of parks and art galleries. Most of my friends aren’t the type to travel and spend hours at museums but I find it quite peaceful to go there and sketch. V&A is one of my favourite places in London and was conveniently quite close to my university.

Whilst at first I had to force myself to try doing things on my own, I found that I ended up rather enjoying my own company. I discovered that you could still enjoy places even if you weren’t with other people. I still love socialising; catching up with people and trying new things, but the point is that I am not afraid like I once was of doing any of it on my own.

This whole process has been a long journey (we’re talking at least 8 years) but one through which I have learnt many things:

  1. I have come to appreciate my quirks and accept myself
  2. It has helped me in my commitment to love myself
  3. It has allowed me to explore new things and meet new people
  4. It gives me time to reflect and work on myself and my goals

Essentially, I think everyone should learn to love ‘me time’ – it’s really helped me. And everyone who feels judged for doing things on their own – be that sipping tea in a Coffee shop, going to the movies or reading a book quietly under tree – it’s completely healthy.

Discovery at Harrow – The Chocolate Room

On a cold Sunday I was looking for a place to have a quick coffee while waiting to be picked up by my friend. I searched for the nearest Starbucks to me and made my way when I came across a little café, I was intrigued.

From the minute I went in I fell in love – probably because of all the cute bitesize chocolates. My favourite: vanilla cupcake! Though the pistachio was pretty good as well.


The best part of place, was how the tea was brewed! I was expecting your usual: here’s the hot water, your almond milk and here’s your Earl Grey tea bag. BUT NO!
The waiter bought over:
– loose tea with water in a little container
– a timer (so I could keep an eye on brewing time)
– a glass cup and a tiny milk jug

My childish side of me got excited by how the tea of poured into the cup though:

Honestly, a good vibe, lovely service and a 1/2 minute walk from Harrow on the hill 🙂

xp

Budapest: travelling with social anxiety

img_2478

If you’ve met me, odds are that you would say that I’m a social person, but did you know that I have social anxiety?

To most people going away on holiday with friends is exciting and it really was for me, until a few days before I was set to go to Budapest. The truth is when we had to check in – PANIC! I really wanted to cancel my tickets, stay at home and paint. For me it was not the thought of going to a different country (I love travelling) or even flying. It was spending time with people that was overwhelming. It wasn’t that I was spending time with people I didn’t like or even strangers. I was going with people I have known for years and my friends who up until that moment I was excited to see.

I have often had these moments. It is the reason why I sometimes cancel plans or make excuses to leave early. I am yet to fully understand why it comes but when it does the single thought that runs through my head is, ‘I can’t do it.’ Most days I am completely fine, but there are days that I cannot be around people (anyone)/ am unable to hold or start conversations (with anyone).

During my panic about Budapest, a friend of mine reminded me of my resolution to open myself up to new experiences. So instead of cancelling my tickets, I got on a plane.

Looking back now, I’m really glad that for the first time I didn’t cave and cancel – I really fell in love with the city and want to spend more time there. Lots of architecture, thermal baths, themed cafes and it’s not a busy city.

I did have a lot of anxiety on the first day, it was hard, but I still explored the city and I appreciated the beauty of it. It’s difficult to talk to people when my anxiety is so high but I am proud that I didn’t run away from conversation, or from meeting new people.


Vintage Garden – great food, great company and cute deco. Loved this place! Order the Oreo and blueberry cheesecake if you go! 
ParliamentView walking up the castle.

Day 2 was a lot easier. My anxiety went down so I was able to relax and I enjoy my company and absolutely loved my time at the thermal baths. The strange thing I have always found about my anxiety is that it isn’t constant.

Social anxiety is incredibly overlooked, which is why I decided to write about it. I have only ever met one other person who has it, but I imagine that other people do experience it, it’s just scary to admit it (I was really hesitant to post this). So to anyone who experiences it, you are not the only one who has these moments. I know how hard it is, but from someone who has been working on managing their anxiety: don’t let it stop you from meeting new people or having new experiences.

For those who want to see some more awesome places in Budapest:


Fisherman’s Bastion – view from the city is amazing at sunset
St.Steven’s Basilica – go up to the top and see the view. Students take your card you get a discount. Free to go in, money to go up. Szechenyi Bath – thermal baths. Advice: you want two towels. One that you take around with you and one that you use after to shower. Don’t take your phone with you unless it’s waterproof. Take flipflops.

Other things: walk around it’s all pretty close together and there are loads of really cool cafes so stay away from the Costa/ Starbucks that you can get anywhere. Everyone there seems to know English, but they love it when you speak some Hungarian even if what you say doesn’t fully make sense.

xo