Make up at the gym: who is it really for?

I’m a horrible judgemental person who looks down on the girls who show up to the gym with a full smoky eye and/or  flawless red lipstick. I’m a hypocrite. I will say that right now.

I don’t like having nothing to do on the weekends and also I don’t like doing anything on the weekends. I’m a contrary person. Honestly, my favourite thing to do is go for a walk with a friend or sit in a café and while away the hours being ‘active’ without really doing anything.

Last weekend was a particularly lazy weekend. I did basically nothing and relaxed on my bed for most of it. Sunday in particular I pretty much stared at Netflix and worked on this blog (I find it very therapeutic. The Netflix, not the blog. Kidding). So when the time came to go to the gym, I was quite relieved to get out.

Until I found myself in the bathroom, putting on make up.

Leaving the house with make up on is second nature to me. I pick at my skin, which isn’t something I’ve mentioned here before, and it’s not a thing I talk about very often at all. The compulsion is called dermatillomania, and I’ve never been officially diagnosed but the collection of scars that spread across my face and down my arms and back are a pretty clear indication that this is more than the odd squeeze here and there.

I don’t hate my skin, I hate myself for not being kinder to my skin. When I was fourteen or so I had lovely, clear skin. There’s no history of acne in my family and I can’t say I’ve ever actually noticed more than one or two actual, real spots at a time on my face. But every time I see (or imagine) a blemish, I have to get rid of it. I have to get it out of my skin. It’s a release, and particularly when I was going through a rediscovered fear of bathrooms (yay, emetophobia!) I found it comforting to focus on the mirror rather than the toilet. As a result, my face is pocked and marked and normally has several oozy scabs that I just can’t leave alone.

So despite telling myself repeatedly that it was stupid to put make up on at 7pm on a Sunday evening just to go to the gym where I would sweat it all off again, I still went ahead and tried to cover my face up.

Cliché though it may be, I use make up as a mask. I’m ashamed of the scars on my face. They don’t fit my image. I’ve cultivated a confident, capable personality when I’m in public or around people I don’t know. If there is a question to be asked in my tutorials, I’ll ask it. I’ll speak to strangers. I’ll give presentations. And the whole time the real me will be cowering inside going “don’t let them in, don’t let them in”.

It’s utterly terrifying for me to let people see who I really am. People often tell me that I’m confident and strong and independent and I don’t need no man but the truth is I’m constantly fighting to keep them from seeing that the real me is a needy, vulnerable, insecure person who can be irritating as hell and who certainly wants nothing to do with any public speaking.

I grew up in a household where weakness is not an option. My mother forced herself to get over her arachnophobia the day I was born because she didn’t want me to grow up with a learned fear of spiders (though I’m still a bit iffy with the big ones). Going through chemotherapy, my mother was suffering from the most horrendous nausea (oh hey again, emetophobia, I wonder how you got in?) and nothing anyone did worked until the day she told herself to stop throwing up. And she stopped throwing up. No, seriously, my mother kicked chemo in the nuts when she was at her weakest because she was sick and tired (geddit) of always being sick and tired (double geddit?) and being bedridden didn’t suit her. She is currently using her downtime in her new job to teach herself French, and when she’s not at work she’s running the house and running a semi-professional bakery service for close family and friends and a few of their close family and friends who’ve heard of her.

My father has taught himself just about every skill you could possibly need in life (and a few you don’t). Aside from being an engineer by trade, he has taught himself French, basic building skills, advanced building skills, plumbing, decorating, mechanics, landscaping, the basic aspects of AQA Psychology A Level because I was struggling to understand some of it, and he correctly diagnosed a pony with fibrotic myopathy when the vets were stumped.

And people wonder why I go around constantly needing to be good at whatever I do. Don’t get me wrong: my parents are the exact opposite of pushy. Their attitude is ‘be the best that you want to be’ and so they don’t interfere if I want to stay in bed all day or do no work or eat myself into a chocolate coma. They just like my brother and I to figure things out for ourselves. There is no room for whining or complaints in our household: if you can’t do something, double check you’ve tried as hard as you can to do it. If you really can’t do something, come up with a suggestion for how it might be done, then go and tell Dad and he’ll help you with it. Nine times out of ten, you’ll be perfectly capable of figuring it out for yourself and he’ll just watch you fix your car/computer/hovercraft (my family is weird, OK) with a knowing smile that is just so irritating.

So it’s little surprise to me that, while I may have failed at many things in my life, none of the things I’ve actually tried to do have gone wrong. As long as I try, I can’t fail and that seems to have held pretty true for most of my life.

So here’s how I go about my daily life: if I try my hardest to put on my big-girl clothes and my big-girl face and shield myself with my big-girl attitude, I’ll be fine. I’ll do great. And my make up is a part of that. If I pretend hard enough that my face is beautiful, one day it’ll become true. If I make every effort to be the person I want to be on the outside, it’ll filter through to the inside.



3 Ways To Get Rid Of That Person You Don’t Want To Speak To Any More

Is there someone in your life you don’t want to speak to? Have you got an admirer you don’t particularly want? Did you go on one date and did they not make the cut but you couldn’t quite bring yourself to let them know that you aren’t interested and now they’re hinting they might like to go on a second date and you have no idea how to let them down?

Fret no more! The COMPLETE step-by-step guide on letting down that not-so-special someone is here to help you make sure they never contact you again! There are three methods you can use, ranked in order from least to most effort required.

*All methods are based on the assumption that you are not communicating face-to-face. Feel free to use these methods in an actual conversation, but we accept no responsibility for any bodily harm that may occur.*

Method 1: Ghost them


This method is for those who just can’t be bothered any more. It requires little to no effort on your part. Be warned: the success rate here depends on the tenacity of the person you’re interacting with.

Step 1: Continue a conversation until the person you are talking to replies with a sentence that doesn’t have a question mark on the end. This is your cue.

Step 2: Do not respond to their last message. If you’re feeling bold, you can ‘see’ it, but otherwise ignore it forever and ever and ever.

Step 3: They may send a message along the lines of: “Hey”, “Everything OK?” or “Oh my god, are you dead?” You can either let them know that you are, in fact, dead by continuing to ignore them, or you can send one more reply. It should read: “Sorry, been busy.”

**BONUS POINTS – let the person know before you strike up a conversation with them in the first place that you’re “rubbish at conversations”. They will then be forced to second-guess themselves every time they dissolve into a rant about how rude some people are and does it really take a week to respond to “how are you”?**

Method 2: Vaguely imply you are no longer interested.

No comment on whether I actually sent a response along these lines once...
No comment on whether I actually sent a response along these lines once…

This method will sow enough doubt in the other person’s mind that they may well just give up on the whole thing. It still requires talking to them and can take a few days/weeks to get the message across, so it needs a bit more dedication than the first method.

Step 1: Slow down your responses to the person’s messages. Start with a few hours in between replies, and stretch it out to up to a week. In extreme cases, a month between messages should send the right signals.

Step 2: Indicate to the other person that you’re a little busy with life and may be away. Reassure them that you’re not a mean person for ignoring them, and you still care about their feelings.

Step 3: Let them know that there’s actually another person in the picture and “you’re really good friends, maybe more, and you really don’t want to mess things up with said person so maybe we should just leave things for a while. Xx.”

Step 4: Know that you are an arsehole, but not as much of an arsehole as if you’d just ghosted them. Feel self-righteous because you let them know that things weren’t going to work out and you were completely, 100% truthful about everything.

Method 3: ‘It’s not me, it’s you’.

You suck

This method requires dedication to the cause and quite possibly some mild character defamation, but it is by far the most effective method on this list and will almost certainly get rid of any pesky self-respecting person.

Step 1: Continue the conversation as normal. Wait for something that you can use as ammunition against the person. If you are lucky, the person will get drunk one night and say something they maybe didn’t mean but which you can get righteously affronted about.

Step 2: Get righteously affronted. Drunken booty calls are not to be tolerated in this relationship, no sir!

Step 3: Allow them to apologise. Graciously accept their apology.

Step 4: Wait a few days and then tell them that they are a terrible person. Make sure to include a reason, and make sure that reason is as convoluted as possible. For example: “You refused to sleep with me on the first date, and I respect that but now I feel like you’re going too fast asking for a second date on top of that drunken booty call last week and that makes you a slut.”

Step 5: Rebuff all their explanations and insist that you will have nothing to do with people who expect dates instead of one night stands, and that you wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole because although the idea of a one night stand is not heinous to them, they still expected you to talk to them in the morning. Bonus points if they claim not to understand your argument. Double bonus points if they get angry. Triple bonus points if they call you a child because now they’re just insulting you ad hominem, so you can feel vindicated in your self-righteous anger.

Now there’s no excuse to be talking to people you don’t want to know! These methods are quick. easy, and guaranteed to work* on any self respecting** human being!

*We accept no responsibility for any physical damage or nasty, vicious rumours that occur after use of these methods.

**This guide may not work on people with standards that are below a certain level.

On Nights Out At The Students Union

So, I’ve mentioned going out to the Students’ Union several times, but I don’t think I’ve ever really covered what that entails.

My university doesn’t really have what you’d call a thriving social scene. Unless you want to head out to Liquid Windsor (referred to by some people as ‘Shitquid’) or pay the exorbitant train/taxi fees to get into London and then have to make it home again, your best options for a night out are one of the local pubs (all three of them), the on-campus strip club night club/bar/pub, or the Students’ Union on a Wednesday or Friday night.

Let me just diverge a little bit here. What utter genius came up with the idea of holding all the biggest student nights on a Wednesday? The logic is just so sound. After all, who really needs to go to lectures on a Thursday? And who has such a busy weekend that they desperately need that early night on Friday or Saturday, so no major events can be held on those days? Obviously there must be a very sound and well-thought-out reason that I just cannot seem to think of right now.

Anyway, back to nights out at the Students’ Union. We don’t have a horrendously bad SU. We have a good sized space which can be turned into a nightclub. We have two bars (though one only serves VK, so it doesn’t count. No, I don’t care how many colours flavours of VK it serves; they’re all 4% liquid sugar in plastic bottles because no one can be trusted with glass, and they’re only going to wind up being thrown at your legs when people who should really know better than to buy four at a time decide that three times your GDA of sugar mixed with alcohol isn’t actually the brightest idea). We have…music (it’s a lottery when it comes to the standard of music being played, and the quality of the DJ playing said music). We even have a hot dog stand (for when you’re actually that desperate for the guy in the white shirt to notice you so you stand in his general vicinity putting as much decidedly over-broiled sausage smothered in not-really-ketchup into your mouth in one go while not gagging as loudly as possible).

Nights out at the SU normally start around 6pm for me, when I fling half my clothes onto my bed. I extract the ones that I want to be able to wear again, ever, and put them back in my wardrobe, before settling for something that leaves as little as possible to the imagination (the SU is no place for subtlety). I have a shower, not that there’s much point because you’re guaranteed to leave the SU smelling like the unfortunate offspring of a beer barrel and a sweaty cigarette. Makeup is carefully applied until I look nothing like I normally do during the day (it’s actually quite amusing how many people I meet on a night out fail to recognise me during the day).

I then head over to my friend’s flat, where we have maybe a glass of wine or a shot of whisky. I’m not a big drinker, but it helps to assuage the feelings of “Oh god, what am I letting myself in for” that normally hit a sober person when they see the Students’ Union.

By about 10.30pm, we are sufficiently bored with discussing the shortcomings of our coursemates, our respective flatmates and the male population at large and we head over to the SU. It’s usually freezing. I usually don’t bring a jacket (it’s £2 to put a jacket in the coat room and I am a penniless student. Plus, it’s only just up the hill. I’ll be fine. Seriously, it’s not that far. I’ll walk fast).

There’s never a queue at this time, because everyone else is too busy trying to cram as much alcohol in as possible so that a) they don’t have to go to the SU sober, and b) they don’t have to pay the exorbitant prices for plastic bottles of fermented sugar (see the VK rant above). There’s about thirty people inside the entrance, refusing to make eye contact with anyone else and thus be forced to acknowledge that they have nothing better to do with their evening than turn up early to the Students’ Union. Space is usually at a premium next to the sliding doors that separate the main bar from the main dancefloor, because this isn’t opened until about 11pm and you have to be very, very drunk to think that dancing in the entranceway near the fluorescent lights and in full view of the queue is a good idea.

Once the main area of the SU is opened up, it suddenly gets very full very fast. We’ll make our way to halfway between the exit (where there’s the most space for dancing) and the back corner of the auditorium (where the  potentially available males congregate). Our dancing is usually on the extravagant side. On the one hand, we need to attract the boys so we use techniques not dissimilar to the mating rituals of tropical birds; lots of flashy movements and flapping. On the other hand, there is always a plethora of girls whose height doesn’t exceed 5 foot 2 on top of the stilts they’ve strapped to their feet, so threat displays are also necessary. You haven’t seen a threat display until you’ve seen a highly sexualised version of the funky chicken performed directly in front of another girl who’s head is on the same level as your elbows.

We have a specific circuit around the SU. Once we’re bored of dancing/have overheated/have spotted that guy we saw last week heading for the bar/have had it up to here with being bathed in VK and sweat we’ll decide we need a drink of water and make our way to the bar. If it’s busy, we’ll wait for 40 minutes behind an installation called ‘200 Students Jostle For A Space At The Bar That Is Not Forthcoming’. If we’re lucky, a guy at the front will offer to order our drinks. If we’re desperate, we will form a phalanx of elbows and not rest until we’ve got a fingertip firmly lodged on the bar. If we’re fed up, we’ll give in and head outside to the smoking area.

The smoking area is a freezing, fenced off space in front of the SU with three benches and some bike racks for sitting on. The fences are wire mesh, so the queues waiting to get in can enjoy the sight of a cage of drunken students, Studius inebrius, in captivity. My friend and I have our spot to one side, up a slight slope, where we can survey the crowd and quietly judge the girls who’ve succeeded in pulling whichever poor, unfortunate souls we have our eyes on that night. Eventually the cold/sight of someone we have a crush on making out with someone who isn’t us/sight of someone we had a crush on last week and who blew it spectacularly will drive us back inside to dance.

Repeat ad nauseam until one of us makes it into the arms of a guy who will perform a swan dive onto your face and attempt to make off with your tongue, or until both of us are so far beyond sober that we can no longer overlook the fact that the music is rubbish and all the good ones have gone home (usually with the cow in the leather miniskirt). One of us will then dig our phone out from somewhere in the region of an armpit, wipe off the sweat, check the time and then gurn at the other until the other person agrees to go home.

I think it says something about the unavoidable mentality of studenthood that despite all of this, nights out at the SU are still considered a good time.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, I present…

Last Friday my friend bet me a jumbo sized-jar of peanut butter that I couldn’t make someone fall in love with me in seven days.

Earlier that day I’d read this article and had filed it away in my head under ‘Interesting Topics To Bring Up When I’m Lamenting My Lack Of Love Life’. Then wine happened and I became convinced I could make someone fall in love with me (read: make all boys pay for being meanies (see below)). So I loudly insisted that the theory was sound and foolproof and even if it wasn’t what could be the harm in trying? To which my friend replied: “It’s a stupid theory because how are you supposed to convince someone to stare into your eyes for four minutes without them backing away slowly, making no sudden movements?” Only vodka had happened to her, so it was more like: “S’shtupid ‘cos no one wantsh to look at you for agesh.”

This isn’t happening. It’s now Friday; my last option for being social is the Student’s Union, and if there’s one place that’s not conducive to deep and meaningful conversation and unbroken eye contact, it’s the Student’s Union on a Friday night.

But I do think that this could actually work. Not least because it’s happened to me. Way back in early October, when I was still finding my feet at university, I wound up at a salsa taster session.

I hadn’t been intending to go anywhere that night: I’d actually been out every other night that week and meant to go to bed early. I got a text from someone I’d met a few days before the start of term, asking if I wanted to try salsa with her and her friends. I said yes, because I was feeling a little lonely and bored and because it was salsa dancing.

We all danced in a circle, swapping partners every few steps. And then I found myself dancing with a guy who wasn’t exactly the greatest dancer in the world, but who had a cute smile and who seemed happy to talk.

And when they said the session was over, we happened to still be dancing together. He asked if I’d like to dance some more. I said yes. We went outside to talk and found we had a bunch of stuff in common. He bought me a drink. He put his number in my phone and made me promise to text him. We spent half the night making unbroken eye contact and talking about our lives.

Of course, we texted. The next night, I went to the SU. He’d said he’d be there and it’d be great to see me. I found him, we kissed. Nothing more.

After that, things were hectic and we just texted for a few days. Then it tailed off. Clearly, things were going nowhere.

Only by that time, I was convinced that I really liked him. I had a full-blown schoolgirl crush. It lasted pretty much the rest of the term, until I decided that nothing was ever going to come of it and I was only debasing myself if I continued to keep half an eye out for him at every.

Then I discovered the study, and of course I realised what had happened. All that talking, all that eye contact for one night and the floodgates had opened. I was a walking ball of oxytocin. Not least because it had been a while (a very long while) since a guy had paid me real attention.

He was the first but there were more. The upshot is, I came out of my first term a little emotionally battered, but full of fresh resolve to up my social game. No longer will I let guys walk all over me in the vain hope that I might get something more than a few texts and a date out of it. I’m going to be me and if you can handle my personality, you can have a go at getting to know me.

From ‘I’m sorry’ to ‘I’m not sorry’ to ‘I’m sorry I’m not sorry’ in five hundred words.*

I’ve been AFK for the last few weeks…OK, nearly a month and I’m sorry! My laptop self-destructed and I had to wait until Christmas for my new one. And then I was lazy and decided I wasn’t going to post anything until I had something meaningful to post.

So here’s my ‘meaningful’ post (approximately attempt 6). I’ve started, and promptly discarded, several posts over the last month because I’m struggling with the concept of what this blog is. It’s about two and a half years old now, which is hands down the longest time I’ve ever kept a blog going, but I finally got around to looking at my 2014 Year in Blogging and I only published 26 posts last year. Which is almost nothing, only slightly over two posts a month.

So then I sat down and had a good think about why I’ve only managed 26 posts in a year. It’s not through lack of inspiration; plenty of times I’ve been in the shower and thought ‘hmm, I could really write a blog post about that’ (not about being in the shower, obviously, although I could if demand was high enough). And then I’ve promptly forgotten about it and the post never gets started.

Nine out of ten posts I start don’t get finished. They barely make it beyond a paragraph. I can churn out a good eight hundred words in an hour, cut it to shreds and then delete the whole thing because I’m frustrated that I don’t know where this is going.

I feel like many of the bloggers I follow have a direction or a theme. There’s literature, art, fashion, exercise, humour, news, politics, food. And then there’s my blog, with bits of everything and no specific focus (except on myself because that’s pretty much what my blog is about: me).

So now I’ve decided that I don’t need to worry about what topics I post about. I’m interested in just about everything the world wants to throw at me, and this blog can be a reflection of that. No more deleting posts because I’m worried they don’t send a 100% perfect image of my life: I am human and real and if I want to follow up a post about the darkest side of my anxiety with a post about someone I saw on campus wearing a red ballgown, leopard print Uggs and a gold puffy coat then I will. No apologies. I’ve been told I apologise too much. Which I apologise for, and then get told off for apologising for apologising.

So this blog can be the place I never have to say sorry for who I am. Except that a large part of my personality is apologetic, which doesn’t really fit the whole ‘never apologise’ thing, but I’m going to take a stand right now and refuse to apologise for being the kind of person who apologises for apologising.

I apologise. That was probably very difficult to follow. But tough. I’m going to be me. The real me. Even if I’m not entirely sure who the real me is. Are any of us sure who we are?

*Actually, I’m not sorry for being not sorry. Sorry. The word ‘sorry’ is starting to look strange. Sorry. Sorrysorrysorrysorrysorry…

I’m going to stop now.