Lessons from 2016? Follow your heart.

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This time last year I was at an elephant sanctuary just south of Bangkok (WFFT), as far away from home as I’d ever been and with six whole months of barely planned travel ahead of me. Utter bliss.

Months before however, I’d gone through a strange, unexpected and terrifying phase of being scared of pretty much everything. OCD, they said. Which actually made perfect sense.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy teaches you how to realign your thoughts, but travel puts that theory into practice. The most important lesson I’ve learnt this year? To just bloody go with it. Like I always used to. To let go. To take things as they come. To trust in the order of events. Some things are beyond all control, and I’m so grateful I’ve learnt to believe that again.

Anyway, comfort zone well and truly out of sight, my dreams quite literally started to come true. The less I worried about all the stuff I couldn’t control, the happier and calmer I felt. My fears melted away one by one. With every new challenge I set, from white water rafting to trusting in perfect strangers, I remembered that risk-taking and relishing in fear makes you feel alive. Not checking the front door is locked 15 times a day. I went from hiding in my basement flat in Brixton to scuba diving with giant manta rays in Komodo.

I made myself vulnerable to the world, and it gave me everything I could wish for in return. Powdery beaches and crystal-blue water, magical sunsets, breathtaking views, powerful waterfalls, deliciously exciting food, new friendships, and being proposed to under the stars by the person I love. I swore to myself that I would never fear the world again.

And then halfway through our trip, I received the worst phone call of my life. My wonderful Grandad died. With hardly a week’s warning. We flew home for the funeral. Devastated in every way possible.

I could easily have reverted back to old habits. Blamed my grandad’s death on my “reckless” trust in life. When you have OCD you honestly feel like your thoughts have the power to affect reality. Like, if I’d just worried a little bit more, maybe nothing bad would have happened. But without the carefree living, none of the good stuff would have happened either. So I forced myself to carry on in my new-found frame of mind. To find the light in the dark. Life is nothing but a series of highs and lows, after all. You can’t have one without the other.

Whether it’s Trump, Brexit, the tragedies in Aleppo or the loss of yet another talented artist. 2016, like every year, has had its lows. I urge you to counter these awful things by being as actively positive as you can be, whether it’s persuing your goals, volunteering your time or loving someone unconditionally. Better yourself. That is the only way we can ever hope for a better world.

Flying back to Asia after the funeral was perhaps an even bigger turning point than travelling in the first place. Having faith in the face of heartbreak and grief is really bloody hard, but it will change how you feel about everything. Nothing can spur you on more than your own bravery, and nothing will reward you more. 2016, I will never forget you.

 

 

 

 

 

Why it ALWAYS pays to be patient

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Living in limbo is not fun. It is, however, often a stepping-stone to a much nicer place, as long as you’re patient, optimistic and prepared to push yourself. I hope this little anecdote shows how important it is to let a timeline of events unravel before submitting defeat. It’s goes back to that age-old saying I love to overuse – who knows what’s good or bad? 

Last week I was miserable. I was jobless, living at home for the foreseeable future, and full of doubt. I was losing perspective, and fast. Six weeks of not having an awful lot to do may sound like bliss, but it plays havoc with your identity and relationship with the world around you when you’re not convinced it will ever end.

Less than seven days later, I’ve found myself an exciting new job and secured a beautiful two-bedroom house to rent in London. Initially I thought how the fuck did that happen? But I really gave myself no other option, even when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and eat cake. Good things don’t just happen; they take hours and hours of hard work and sacrifice. I wasn’t lucky, emerging from limbo unscathed. I made this happen. And I did so when a voice in my head started telling me I wasn’t good enough. Ignore it. You have to keep going.

 I could feel depression starting to weigh me down, stealing little segments of hope and energy. I had so much time on my hands, and the world had started to feel pointlessly endless. The longer I stayed in the house, the less I wanted to go outside. I’d felt like this before only much worse, when I graduated during a recession and had more chance of capturing a unicorn than landing myself a paid writing job. My degree and all that I’d worked for had no immediate purpose, and I felt my identity wear away with each passing day spent applying for unpaid jobs I was unlikely to get.

This challenging time became one of my most significant life lessons. I hit a really low point. I drank A LOT. But I kept on writing for anyone and anything that would let me. Unpaid writing filled up a portfolio, which landed me an unpaid internship with an online magazine in London Bridge, and another one writing from home. I wrote articles for free by day and worked nights in the local pub. I was promoted to Editorial Assistant and promised a proper salary, and then just weeks later the company went bust, and I began to give up hope.

My spirit somewhat broken, I became a customer service advisor in a call centre and wondered why I ever believed I could write for a living. But soon enough, friends I studied with started to get proper writing jobs, or jobs in PR or marketing. They got paid to do something interesting. Inspired and unforgivably competitive, I held on a little longer.

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15 months after graduating, I started to write for New Look on a basic salary and felt like the luckiest, happiest person alive. It didn’t matter that I was writing product descriptions for pittance, I was a copywriter! I was saved!

Four years on, when I quit my most recent Senior Writer job to travel, it struck me that I was deliberately throwing away something I would have died for just a few years before, but the other option – not going travelling – was completely out of the question.

Returning home to Brexit, uncertainty and unemployment brought back horrible memories. One of the worst times of my professional life gave me the mental tools I needed to carry on believing in my work and ability no matter what. The really shitty times prepare you for doom and gloom in ways you never even expect.

It’s July 2016, which means I graduated five years ago. I have achieved more in those five years than I ever thought possible. I’ve taken risks, and they’ve paid off in the long run. I’ve let time run its course before giving in, and I’ve subsequently doubled my salary, and quadrupled the possibilities.

This story is for anyone who feels like I did five years ago, for anyone on the brinkAL on something brilliant who needs an extra push. I doubted whether I would ever find a job, let alone one I enjoyed with a decent wage. If you work bloody hard and believe in yourself despite everything you’re up against, amazing things will happen. Five years ago I had ideas, a bit of willpower and absolutely no money. A week ago, I had the same. By the end of the month, it will all be a distant memory, and one I’ll no doubt return to next time I find myself in Limbo again.

Why your imperfect life is more inspiring

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A few months ago, someone said to me: “Your life is literally goals right now,” after I uploaded some recent photos: white-sand beaches, tanned smiling faces, an engagement ring, friendship, love, excitement.

I hadn’t really considered my life outside of my own ‘goals’ and thought about the significance of ‘right now’. In all honesty, I was too happy to stop and consider just how lucky I was, and how maybe, those photos were a bit of a kick in the teeth to someone not having the best month of their lives. I was clinging to my ‘right now’, unaware of the permanency it might appear to have on Facebook. Like everyone, I only really share the good things. The photos that make my life look great, because, for a couple of days, it really was. It’s nice pretend it’s always like that.

I didn’t think twice about showing off how much fun I was having, because not long before that, before I went travelling, I was actually having a pretty terrible time. So much so, that if I’d seen photos of people who seemed to have what I was missing, I would have felt significantly worse.

I’m writing this post to highlight that life ‘goals’, happiness and hardship are as temporary and changeable as travel itself, so it’s incredibly important not to assume someone has a perfect life just because it always looks that way in their photos. Perfection isn’t always inspiring. Sometimes it’s very, very fake.

The truth is, not only do we refuse to share our bad times as much as our good times online, there’s actually a pretty huge stigma around sharing anything negative, ugly or depressing. The result is a catastrophically one-sided selection of perfect lives for us to compare our sometimes-crappy lives to.

To even things out a bit, I wanted to show how much my life has changed since I returned home from travelling. I’m pretty sure it isn’t quite ‘goals’ at the moment, and that’s completely ok. It’s really fucking normal, actually.

I am currently in the midst of what can only be described as terrible, endless come down. The repercussions of travelling have hit me like a train; I am living back home, slightly reclusive, completely penniless and confronted with endless days of job hunting and rain. Oh, and Brexit. And more rain.

My tan is fading, I have to say “sorry, I can’t afford it” constantly, and I’m met with the reality that all the amazing things I learned and enjoyed whilst away, like giving up makeup, speaking to children I don’t know, eating out every mealtime, having spontaneous adventures, drinking every night, and discovering a new city every three days; all these things have absolutely no place in the society I find myself in today, so what was the point in spending all my time and money? I am full of doubt, anxious at times, and I feel like a stranger in my own country, which has only been amplified by said country leaving the EU.

The fact is, I have knowingly brought this state of being on myself (apart from Brexit, obviously). I KNEW I would feel like this. I was ready for it. I decided I wasn’t afraid to live a life of extreme ups and downs for a while. And the memories of the ups will get me though the downs. Whatever happens, it was worth it. Pretty soon things will even out, and while the bad moments fade, the good will remain stronger and more powerful than ever before. Nostalgia is clever like that. I refuse to feel sorry for my unemployed self, because I know this is temporary, just like whatever you might be experiencing right now is temporary too. Life is an imperfect but continuous stream of highs and lows, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Would I travel again knowing how hard it is to adjust afterwards? Well, would you give up drinking and having fun after a really bad hangover? Thought not.

 

 

 

Her type of blog

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A friend of mine recently stumbled across my old blog, Oh! is for Openminded. Rather than tease me, they said I should probably get back into the whole blogging thing. So, here I am. Without meaning to, I became one of those people who used and abused their blog. I created one because I wanted to stay in the habit of writing after uni, building up a nice portfolio of work that I could show off in interviews. Now, three years later and happily writing for a living, I feel kind of sad to have neglected something that helped me bag a job doing something I love.

I used to blog to try and figure out how I was feeling and what I wanted, dishing out life advice and opinions left, right and centre. When, in all honesty, every single post was a small product of sadness at not being where I wanted to be. I really don’t want to be the kind of moany wanker who only blogs when something has annoyed them, but three years ago I was generally just a bit of a moany wanker. Writing for free by day and pulling pints by night will do that to you.

My primary reason for becoming a writer was to give people something useful to relate to. Now, as someone who is slowly getting somewhere in the world, I’m hoping I’ve got a little bit more of a right to advise people on life than I ever had before. I want my words and persona to make whoever is engaging with them feel good about themselves – a little reminder that we all face a lot of the same problems, so you’re never really alone. I want people to like a post because it makes them like themselves a little better. There are so many blogs full of beautiful, successful people showing off designer clothes and a lifestyle most of us can only dream of. I just want to talk about real life.

And so, Like Her Type is born. A blog that I hope will provide a few pearls of wisdom, wherever I feel I can give them, on those day-to-day dramas, dilemmas, observations, questions and ambiguities that we all face… from what to wear and where, to when and if to care. If there is anything you’d like some advice on – like, literally anything – please don’t hesitate to comment below or email me at corinwriter@gmail.com.

Thanks so much for reading,

Corin x