I’ve sat down to write for the first time in a long time. With my brother’s soft old swimming hoodie on, speedo pyjama shorts sliding off my arse and a shower beckoning, I don’t look aesthetically attractive today. Yet somehow, I feel deeply sexy and full of Ruby Wax confidence. No one can smear this smirky smile from my face. If I was Romeo and the Prince banished me from Verona to the shithole that is Mantua, I would tell princey to fuck himself and drop a text my boy Benvolio ‘where you at x’.
My surroundings: sofa, guitar, empty coffee mug, fruit bowl I got my mum from Berlin with mouldy bananas in. I’m listening to Middle East – Deep Water. A new song to my ears, and it’s going down damn well you know. I’m knee-deep in that secret part of YouTube where the comment box is littered with seventeen-year-old teens full of angst and self-loathing writing ‘tiffany if you’re reading this I think your eyes are like the ocean and I’m drowning ilysm’, with the occasional estranged forty-two-year-old divorcee trying to recapture what it’s like to feel young and alive. I don’t want to mock my fellow lost symphonic YouTubers at all really. I know why they came. I love this place like they do. And I don’t ever want to find my way back home.
What am I going to write about today? Time management. Your facial expression tells me that’s a really fucking boring subject; you’ve already checked out. Your mind’s on that Tesco’s finest lemon meringue in the fringe – your dessert while you’re watching Love Island. Can’t say that’s not a grand idea to be fair. But first, give a hen some time management. Hear me out. I’m not about to urge you to recreate your year 9 school planner on excel, split into days and months of the year. Remember? Each box was small and blank. Too neat. I never found it motivating at all. It just made me feel guilty, because I knew I should be doing something each day other than going to school, eating and sleeping and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Dick and Dom in da bungalow on Sundays). I just didn’t know what to do. And I still don’t entirely know what I’m meant to do being now.
This is me to a T: I’m constantly stuck in a paradox of wanting to be productive, but not being SO productive that I’m forever busy and losing sight of living. I don’t want to repeat the same day over and over. I want to grasp experiences with both hands and say I was really there, not trapped behind my phone. I want to dedicate time at work. But I want to be spontaneous. I’ve been to lots of cities and I want to go to more and more. And I want to be able to get to know new, interesting people and ask them questions. But that doesn’t mean I’m not impartial to being an aggressive recluse like J.D Salinger style. Sometimes I like not leaving the house, only eating microwave meals and clocking in a mere 19 steps on my iPhone health app. It’s a tough crack to be so fucking fluid.
So here’s little free things that I’ve unconsciously followed these past 6 months to work towards my short-term and long-term goals and maintain a positive outlook.
- Check in with those you really love.
Some weeks I won’t text my girlfriend for a few days. We like to have ‘ghandi days’ where we take time for ourselves and completely turn off from technology. It helps both of us spend time with our families (Maxine-time is golden) or our wonderful friends. It also means I can reconnect with my inner recluse. And plus I enjoy making myself laugh when no one else is around and exercising those cutie dimples.
- Regroup: watch your old favourite film, then watch something new
Everyone loves art that is familiar to them, so let yourself love your favourite film a little obsessively harder every once in a while. (Key phrase: ‘every one in a while’ – not every day until 4am like I did with Gary Oldman’s entire filmography.) My usual suspects are: Silence of the Lambs. Love Actually. The Scarlet Letter. And if I’m feeling 90s American vibes, either The Parent Trap or Little Giants. And incidentally, The Usual Suspects. Laugh at the same jokes, revel at time-passed. Then, balance your old favourite with a new film you’ve been meaning to watch in order to broaden your film buff. Film culture is inherently important – and not just for pub quizzes. Let it be known that your children will be severely deprived of happiness and cultural references if you haven’t seen cult classics like True Romance or When Harry Met Sally.
- Get papery
Today is a papery day. These days involve anything to do with paper. It may sound medieval, however – it is long overdue. Locate your pen. Write in your diary about your thoughts on literally anything, write a blog post (even if you don’t publish it), write crappy romantic poems, write letters to the legends in your life who you want to squeeze the fuck out of and bury your nose in the thighs of a book. Doesn’t it feel so delectable? Oh, it does.
- Probably shower
I know it’s mundane, but you gotta be clean for society. That’s how people live these days. I could happily not shower for three days and not bat an eyelid but this is not recommended if you a) live in London/any busy city and have your armpits in other people’s faces on public transport b) want to have regular copulation. There are benefits. I have found that showers are the ultimate cure of colds and headaches, and you can smell like a flower-bed OR bubblegum. So get scrubbing girl – it’s good for you.
- A pecan plait a week keeps me upbeat
This is my go-to happy food. Pecan plaits. They’re found in the bakery aisle of any popular supermarket, and they come in packets of two so I can have one in the morning or evening, or even potentially share. God forbid, the latter is rare. Pecan plaits are for fiery bitches that know exactly what they want and are gonna get it for under £1.80. The Hummingbird bakery can’t make pastry taste this fine, no matter how much Gwyneth tries. (Give it up Gwyneth.) Now – your happy food might be Terry’s chocolate orange or meaty chorizo that looks like the BFG’s finger. Whatever it is, scoff it weekly and proceed to do epic shit.
- Be at one outside (not the cocktail bar, however this is also a good idea)
I’m referring to the actual outside environment. You don’t have to go full Adam and Eve and walk barefoot in bushes and bite into wild apples while you converse with Satan. Rather, I’m lightly suggesting that you have a wander outside on untrodden paths in wellies with a cup of tea and breathe in some fresh air. My favourite pastime is to travel north regularly/or for want of a cheaper and tackier version, visit my caravan in Suffolk, and wear North Face clothing because it makes me feel like Micheala Strachan. And she’s a mythical icon of nature don’t you know. (Oh you didn’t know? Fair.)
- Keep giving your goals a pervy once-over
You need to look at them hard and be critical. But of course, to review your goals, you need to set goals. So if you haven’t, once again PLEASE LOCATE YOUR BLOODY PEN. Go ahead and set your goals to achieve in the next 3 months, year and 3 years. They can be both personal and work-related, or a combination of the two. Structure it like a mind-map, and scribble down everything you’ve ever wanted to achieve in your life in 5 minutes. Go wild, because there’s no judgement here. You can tweak them later when it comes to putting a time-limit on them. I don’t mean to be rude but it’s unlikely you’re going to own a cow in the next 3 months. Make them SMART like your teachers told you back in the day: (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time – yaaaaas honey look at you go.)
Alternatively, if you’re a diary/planner kind of lass, check out Passion Planner. They helped me set my goals and now it’s my time-management bible with my own personal ten commandments. (And no clingy Peter – bonus.)
- Don’t stop until you’re proud
Self explanatory and motivating in equal measure. Be the person that’s always in your own corner, every day of the week.
I didn’t intend this to be an advice blog, and I fully understand if you don’t want to follow these steps. I am, after all, a scruffy 22 year old woman trying to find my own way through this haphazard world just like you. However, one thing you overlooked. Your back is mine.