London Lessons: #3 Commuter Reads – This is Going to Hurt

I read and finished (!!!) an entire book via my morning commutes. Not only am I so proud of myself for finishing a book in less than a year or two, I also really liked the book I read – This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay.

Like the modern day, millennial cliché that I proudly am, I heard about this book via the internet and wanted in on the hype. It was everywhere. And I can confirm, the hype was very well deserved. It’s not a book I would’ve necessarily picked up on my own accord but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I winced a lot, I laughed/ stifled a lot of laughs (cause, public transport) and cried a fair amount. Kay writes so well, especially given the subjects he covered, I felt like he was very effective in re-laying his hospital tales as well as his own feelings through it all. It was a whirlwind, an eye opener, and a book I have gone on to recommend. I learned a lot about the NHS as an institution, the insane lives of junior doctors and a whole lot of medical information about the weird and wonderful world of obstetrics and gynaecology. I was truly moved by this book and have zero regrets about jumping on the bandwagon.

Next up: Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life by Katherine Ormerod

London Lessons: #2 A TFL Story

From the humble North East Stagecoach to the mother of all transport systems, Transport for London – a journey (pun intended). Since I arrived I’ve been taking notes on my phone, documenting my transition and when I went to transform them into a blog post I realised they were all completely or partly related to transporting around London. Here’s my account so far:

27th September – “Today I felt my legs sweat. It was the strangest sensation to literally feel sweat seeping out of my calves?! I thought if I wore a vest top, I could beat the tube clime. I could not. After two days here it would seem that one had to be literally butt-naked to not cook on the underground. But i’m still wondering how in the world people stay cruising on board in entire 3-piece suits??”

[After thought: I use ‘literally’ FAR too much in this 74 word note. Two too many tbh.]

3rd October – “I’ve started to notice the sunsets on an evening and sunrises on a morning painting the sky and it’s stunning. As soon as I get to the hill it’s quick becoming the first thing I look for. Gorgeous! Almost distracts me from my 15 minute* walk to the station!

*I appreciate this is very normal to a lot of people but this girl has had to adjust from a 3 minute walk to the bus stop followed by a (up to) 15 minute bus ride to work to a whopping 1.5 hour commute.”

4th October – “Today I got home at what I would consider a respectable time (6:35pm). I left the office literally 3 minutes earlier than normal and it meant I got home 30 minutes early. I couldn’t believe it. It’s the happiest I’ve felt post-work. I finally understand why everyone runs everywhere in train stations because those two minutes aren’t just two minutes as I once naively thought, those two minutes mean EVERYTHING.”

5th October – “So I find it really funny that a big part of commuting is literally being headed. Crowds here are so crazy and sometimes a little scary. And you have to keep up, some kind of unspoken speed limit operates and you either stick to it or go faster. Dare to go slower and risk being growled at or trampled (which actually hasn’t happened but I’m always fearful of it). There is temporary refuge, a pit stop say, on the escalators. It’s where I catch my breath before re-joining the traffic. I’m expecting my fitness to improve exponentially during my time here.”

To be continued (presumably)…

 

Project W.I.B.T

I started this blog to improve my writing, to have a reason to write regularly and to express myself, my thoughts etc. I’ve wanted to write about fashion from the beginning, it was one of the topics I wanted to explore but didn’t really know how to because my knowledge of it is damn-near non-existent. I haven’t done any formal study of it, no skills or qualifications, just the fact I love clothes and styling and experimenting.

Having now realised those qualities are in fact not prerequisite to writing about what I wear, I’ve come up with a little blog series – oh la la – called ‘What I Bought Today: Fashion vs Function Shopping, which I’ll shorten to ‘What I Bought Today: F.F.S’. I’m not sure it sounds as good on virtual paper as it did in my head, but I like it and I’m going to go with it. It’s pretty self-explanatory, I’ll cover what I’ve bought, why I’ve bought to see whether I’ve been sucked in by an influencer or whether it’s more than that.

And although it will mostly be fashion-related, I also want to write about all the other things I spend my money on, again sometimes unnecessarily, sometimes because I’ve taken some time to consider before hitting ‘complete purchase’.

I’m excited about this little project of mine and am optimistic the variety will keep me interested and further encourage me to be consistent because let’s be honest I’ve been a bit shit on that front.

London Lessons: #1 Crying Happy

I’m crying because I’m scared, because I don’t want to leave the comfort of my home, my room, my life as I have known since I was a child.

I’m crying because I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision, whether trying something new was really what I wanted to do.

But amongst all this, I’m happy.

I’m happy to be closer to my boyfriend.

I’m happy to be in big, bad, London.

I’m happy to be ‘progressing’.

It’s going to be a weird time and my emotions are going to be get the better of me but I know I’m in an incredibly fortunate position being able to take the opportunity to be in London and be surrounded by people who love me and want nothing but the best of me. Now it’s up to me to make of this what I want.

Here we go..

X

At the time of writing this, I have absolutely no idea what title to give. It’s a weird one, this topic. I guess it’s one of those, where you think only you feel it and saying it out loud (or putting it online) will make you sound crazy.

What I’m describing is feeling hyper-aware of your blackness and imagining the ways in which it can play out negatively in different situations. For me, responding to these feelings by point-blank avoiding situations is almost automatic. When it comes to holiday destinations, meeting new people, pubs, jobs etc. often my first thought is ‘will there be black people there’ which translates to ‘will I stand out, will people look at me weird, will I be racially abused’. It’s half LOL, half dead-serious because I know to a lot of people, it seems a strange thing to consider, but it’s a very real feeling for me.

I can’t pinpoint exactly where these feelings have come from. I think it’s a combination of being brought up black and African in the North of England and internalising experiences of my peers. I can’t recall experiencing any extremely aggressive, racial abuse but I am so fearful of if happening that I do whatever I can to prevent it.

I do wonder though, how long I can keep it up. Whilst I know I’m trying to protect myself, how long can I avoid potentially miserable situations? Because actually while I haven’t been through any of the extremes I’ve seen and read online, people have been racist to me in my home city, including black people. So it’s not like I’m safe anywhere, if that’s what I’m trying to achieve.

Lost in generations

Trying to navigate life post-graduation is already a weird and wonderful process without the added complications that come with being the daughter of first-generation migrant, African mother. The expectations placed on me, as the first graduate of my family, are, as you can imagine, pretty big. And the expectations I have for myself aren’t exactly small but to be honest they aren’t exactly fully formed. I’m still trying to get to grips with the fact that my life no longer revolves around academia.

So whilst I’m trying to figure this out, I’m also battling with grand hopes my nearest and dearest has for me. The issue isn’t that she believes in my ability or that I don’t believe in it, the issue is that they are narrow and ultimately not what I’m interested in. I guess what I am interested in, regarding careers, doesn’t conform to the traditional roles of the past, doctor, lawyer etc. This is where we clash. We struggle to see each other’s ideas in the way we see them for ourselves. I can’t understand why she can’t understand why I want what I want or don’t want what she wants. And so it goes.

I don’t think this is new, in fact it’s definitely an age-old dilemma for so many young people with or without migrant parents. But it’s one I am currently experiencing. At this point, I guess the only way to overcome this is with the fruits of my labour – literally. Everyone understands the language of success, not least African parents, no translation glitch there. One thing I am certain of, is that the person that will be by my side to celebrate my wins, as and when they come, is my mam.

May

Looking back, I’m definitely realising the month of May was actually wild from start to finish. It started off as a regular, degular month, post-pay day high quickly superseded by post-pay day blues. I paid off my student overdraft and cut all my ties with my student bank account, almost two years after graduating, which was huge for me. I never needed to go into it, but I was tricked into thinking it was free money… Never again. So, after burning a small-but-temporary hole in my pocket to fill a larger ever burning hole, I felt great and that alone made my month.

Then about a week later, I passed my practical driving test! I had two awful driving lessons and the same number of breakdowns (emotional not mechanical) days before but by the grace of God plus clear, mid-day roads and never going beyond 4th gear, I DID IT! All the best drivers pass third time and that.

The third and final cherry on the May-cake was work-related. The long and short of it is that a job opportunity arose in London. For me, London has always appealed and just the thought of moving down filled me with both excitement (and dread). I made myself a small list of conditions that had to be met before I even considered leaving home and this new role meets them all and more. But even after accepting the offer, I am still so frightened. I’ve gotten very comfortable being at home but despite the million-and-one what if’s, I know in my heart of hearts, that this is an amazing opportunity.

Debt-free, pink licence holder and soon-to-be London dweller all in 31 days. WILD.