The online dating profile comments I really cannot deal with

via GIPHY

Yep, back on it. Nope, I’m not sure why either. It’s all positivity and optimism until you’ve scrolled through six Daves, four hotguy4Us and a million profiles that all seem to say the same thing. These are (paraphrased, I have better things to do than copy word for word) genuine lines that I’ve come across in just two days, and they seem all too common in dating app land. Someone save me, please…

‘I don’t like to talk about myself, I just like to get to know people and find out who they are.” That’s great Steve, but a little info would be helpful because we want to know you’re not a psychopath.

“I’m still finding out the boundaries of who I really am.” Umm, I can’t help you with that? Go travelling or do yoga or something, idgaf

“Hot, toned, rich, athletic male looking 4 sexy date.” Hello Modesty? Yeah, I’ve got someone I’d like you to meet.

“Looking for someone to be my partner in crime for plenty of adventures and escapades.” Oh shut up Ian this is not an Enid Blyton novel.

“I hope your not crazy.” I hope you’re not seriously unable to tell the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ but sometimes life is cruel, James.

“Books? I only really read Reddit.” Oh my god. Next.

“Please plan shoe shopping or whatever for when sport is on, it’ll make things easier.” Oh sure sweetie, shall I do your washing too and then have a pillow fight with my friends? *high pitched squeal*

“New to London and want someone to explore it with.” Maybe get a dog? Or a tour guide? I was just looking for a date…

“Looking for someone who just wants to meet rather than chat first.” Sure. That definitely sounds safe.

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What I would tell my just-graduated, 22-year-old self

Recently, someone I had only just met asked me what my advice would be for getting through your twenties. As well as making me feel positively antique (yes OK I am over 30 now), it got me thinking – what the hell would I say to 22 year old me to make those years better?

In the conversation I was having, my focus was money (it was a work meeting after all). Take the trip. Take the risk. Get the credit card (sensibly). You will regret what you don’t do. That should be printed in every uni handbook, sent via email to every 20 year old wondering what to do next because it is the truest thing anyone will ever say. I have so many regrets, and almost every one is what I didn’t do.

So what would I say? I choose 22 because that was when I graduated from uni, spat out into the world with First Class Honours and barely a penny to my name, a freshly broken heart and zero plans other than ‘find internship’ since that seemed to be what everyone else was plotting. But if I could talk now to that anxious, lost 22 year old? This is what I’d say…

  1. Learn to be brave. Confidence and courage are things I’ve never had but perhaps if I’d started trying to find them earlier I’d be in a different place by now. You got a First! You live in London! You survived a flat share that almost broke you! You’ve got this.
  2. Get over it faster. It’ll take time, sure, but don’t let one person determine the rest of your twenties. Now’s the time to meet all those people you didn’t while you were at uni. Go on dates, the bad ones make great stories if nothing else.
  3. Talk to the doctor and don’t take no for an answer. You don’t have to live with constant worry. You do need to worry about that thing they’re brushing off as nothing. Just keep asking.
  4. You’re going to be poor for a while. No one can live on £10 a day (thanks, online internship), even if in 9 years you won’t believe how cheap your rent used to be (message from the future – it’s now almost double, soz). But once you’re not quite so poor, start saving. Everyone else is. Whether you spend it on the flat you desperately want or that trip to NYC one day, just save. And then once you can afford your rent and food? Get a credit card and use it – carefully – to do all those things that everyone else seems to magically be able to afford.
  5. See your family as much as you can. Open up to them. Spend real time with them. Appreciate them. Visit nan and grandad. Call your uncle every week. Be interested and listen. Realise that listening is so much more important than talking.
  6. Don’t watch Lost, at all, it is a proper waste of time. Damages, however, is excellent.
  7. The close friends you’ve always wanted are about to spring into your life. Don’t panic about the people who don’t make time for you anymore; everyone you need is right there in front of you.
  8. Do more. Learn Spanish. Play the piano. Read everything you can lay your hands on. Go to that weird fitness class. Drink tequila. Stay over at a friend’s even though you feel like the most awkward person to ever live. Visit that friend in Argentina (with that credit card I mentioned). You can make more money but you can never make more time.
  9. Know your worth at work. There are going to be bosses who tell you you’re nothing (yeah, to your face), who want to make you look and feel small, but that’s not about you. The one thing you’ve always been confident on is that when it comes to work, you do your best. Keep doing your best. It’s better to be good than to be popular.
  10. Twitter is going to change your life. Embrace it, but for god’s sake don’t write in text-speak. That shit will come back to haunt you via something called Timehop.
Image via GIPHY

2016: Turning 30 and why for me, the year wasn’t so bad (sorry)

lets-pretend-were-going-to-be-better-people-in-the-new-year-ryg

OK, so 2016 was pretty awful. Some of the greatest actors and entertainers we’ve ever known are dead. Half the country hates the other half. Half the country got us into a massive mess that we apparently won’t be getting out of even though the whole country is pretty much agreed that it’s a bad idea (understatement). An orange man who hates anyone who isn’t a rich white man, who goes through life with what looks like a bleached ferret on his head despite being rich enough, surely, to see a decent hairdresser, is in charge of America despite not actually having the majority of votes. No one likes Johnny Depp anymore. Brangelina have split. And then there’s the TV. The X Factor has gone beyond so-bad-it’s-good territory and is now just embarrassing. EastEnders’ biggest storyline up until New Year’s Eve seemed to be about the bins. We’re still waiting for the next season of Homeland. The John Lewis Christmas ad was so shit that it didn’t make you laugh OR cry*. Everything, frankly, is fucked.

HOWEVER. 2016 was also the year that I turned 30. And while I had a feeling it was going to be a huge, momentous year, the above wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Screw you 2016.

Nonetheless, *whispers* a few good things did happen in the year of my very big THREE OH, and just in case the world imploding gets in the way of me remembering that, I thought I’d write a few of them down.

Don’t hate me. I had an awful 2015 and really needed 2016 to be nice. And it was, because…

– I only went and went to NYC, didn’t I

OH YES I DID. I have wanted to go to New York since I sat in front of our little telly as a kid and watched all the films. Film after film after film; I never did and still never do get bored of films, bonus points if they’re set in NYC. I went with one of the greatest people I know for an entire week, and from the second I got into one of those yellow taxis I felt like I was starring in my own little movie. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more, and I can’t wait to go back one day. Just thinking about it makes my knees weak with love.

– I only met THE Carrie Bradshaw, didn’t I

OH YES I DID. Not in New York, funnily enough, but right here in London. My job has given me many wonderful things (hyaluronic acid, my favourite mascara and an award no less) but meeting THE Sarah Jessica Parker is by far and away the greatest gift of all. I stood next to, shook hands with and spoke to this utterly beautiful, kind and gracious woman at the launch of her infectious new unisex fragrance, Stash. She was everything and more. I love her. I think she thinks I’m weird (not that she’ll remember who I am) but that’s ok because I MET HER AND IT WAS EPIC.

– I only went and wrote an ebook, didn’t I

Yes, yes I did. Yes, it was while at work as it was part of my day job (it’s kind of hard to not do something when it’s like, your job) but I wrote my first ever ebook, a Beginner’s Guide to Sensitive Skin. It’ll never be top of the Amazon bestsellers list (it’s not on Amazon, you fools) but I’m still damn proud that it exists and can’t quite believe people have bought something I wrote. And none of them were even bought by my mum, because technology.

– I only went and got myself a date, didn’t I

Ok that’s getting annoying now isn’t it. But yes. A tricky summer and various ‘life is too short’ moments made me take the leap into dating again and I just so happened to find a normal one. It even went well for a while, until it didn’t. But for a few short months it was fun (and anxiety-inducing, obviously) to like someone again and sort of think that maybe they might like me back.

– I (ok, my parents) only went and got a bloody kitten

Which I named! Rocky is the friendliest, cuddliest, most affectionate cat I think I have ever met, and he earned his name on the first day they brought him home when he looked like he was trying to box with his little paws when I dangled some string over his head. He is adorable. He has brought so much happiness into my parents’ home in such a short amount of time, I just wish we’d found him sooner.

While everyone else couldn’t wait to turn their backs on 2016, I was sad to see it end – I was lucky enough to have a pretty good year, with things going well in my little life, and a new year just brings new fears of what’s to come. But now it’s 2017 (already. How did that happen? I’m 31 in 3 days. Oh god). Who knows what’s around the corner? EastEnders might find their scriptwriters. Trump might accidentally board a spaceship to the moon. Homeland will most definitely be back. Whatever happens, I just hope it’s a happy and healthy one. And I wouldn’t mind meeting SJP again either, in case the gods are reading…

 

*I just have to explain this. We needed you, John Lewis. We needed the little hare and bear back. We needed a cute penguin. We needed an adorable child who wasn’t a materialistic little bastard like those ones you see demanding toys from their exhausted mums on the high street. We needed the advert equivalent of little fluffy puppies playing with little fluffy kittens while a log fire roars, Mary Berry makes us cakes, David Attenborough reads us a bedtime story and Buble sings us a lullaby. We needed a giant cuddle of an ad. And what do you give us? You give us nothing. NOTHING. This year’s ad was so devoid of emotion that it just leaves you cold, confused, and angry at what the world has become; that even John Lewis can’t bring us joy anymore. YOU HAD ONE JOB, John Lewis. You fucking failed.

For a start, the dog isn’t very cute. The dog needed to be cuter. No offence, dog, you’re lovely, but you’re not Christmas-cute. The song is a terrible choice; it’s depressing. Saving grace, almost: the wild animals are sweet. But then comes the finale, and the dog, and you almost want to laugh, but the family aren’t laughing, they look horrified, and it’s as if the dog has ruined the girl’s Christmas, only you can’t understand why because surely, SURELY, if you loved your pet (as one should), seeing it jump on a trampoline for the first time with such gusto would surely make you laugh your head off. Or at least reach for your iPhone to capture the moment and share it on Instagram for #lolz. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT FAMILY?

The modern girl’s to-do list

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The other night on the way home on a casual Monday, I wrote myself a little to do list for that evening. I’d been so busy at the weekend and at work that there was a ridiculous amount of life admin to do and for various reasons it really needed doing that night.

But as I wrote the list I realised how tedious it was that I had to fill my precious, short spare time with such ridiculous things. ‘Shower and dry hair’ even made it on there that night, as I usually leave it to dry by itself (to save time, natch) and obviously this looks rubbish come 7am so I wanted to put some effort in for a meeting. By the time I had finished writing the list I was feeling utterly deflated – off went my hopes of putting my feet up and getting stuck into my new book.

It got me thinking about just how much there is to DO as a woman in 2016. Having it all (or attempting to) has essentially become doing it all, and it’s bloody exhausting.

I’m not suggesting we all stop washing our hair. But at what point is something going to give? Time has become so tight, and as I’ve got older it’s the thing I’m starting to treasure the most; I resent having to use it on commutes and on people who don’t reciprocate their time back when you need it. Time is really all we have, it’s the thing money can’t buy and the thing we are all running out of. So why do we fill it with so much life admin?

Stylist recently reported on the stats that revealed the average 30-year-old woman has just 17 minutes a day to herself. While I’m not sure I’m quite as time-poor as that, it’s not much better – the first 12 hours of my waking day go to commuting and work, which leaves me with about four hours to play with before I’m desperate for sleep. At least half of that goes on the aforementioned life admin, or something else that I feel I ‘should’ be doing.

Here’s everything I could think of that, as a single woman in 2016, I have on my to-do list:

  • Watch must-watch TV (on catchup, because who ever gets home on time for it all?)
  • Check online dating apps, bang head against wall, repeat
  • Go on dates if previous point is successful; most likely waste an evening on someone you’ll never see again
  • Read books, magazines and articles by all the brilliant people you follow on Twitter (this could easily be a full time job)
  • Blog (I try)
  • Have a hobby (it helps with the online dating chat, plus makes you a bit cooler these days)
  • Paint nails, go for a wax and other general beauty things (as a beauty journalist, this really has to happen)
  • Shower (yep, this has to go on the list now)
  • Food shop (worst thing on the list)
  • Cook (wait, no, this is the worst thing on the list)
  • Have actual chat with flatmates that isn’t just ‘Hi, I’m tired’
  • Chat to family so they remember you exist
  • Reply to 278 Whatsapp messages, 5 texts, 33 Facebook notifications and 18 messages on Facebook Messenger (why does it have to be a different app?!)
  • All the emails, all the time, on three different accounts
  • Wash clothes in order to attempt fabulous work outfits
  • Shop for clothes that I don’t hate
  • Return clothes that you inevitably do hate
  • Work out (HAHAHA)
  • Do the washing up (there is so much of it. Where does it come from? I don’t even like cooking?)
  • Keep an eye on finances and make mental note to get buses more when you see how many Ubers you’ve booked lately
  • Catch up with friends who are all in different groups and work different hours just to make it extra fun
  • Sleep (remember that?)
  • Look up, every so often. Tech neck is a bitch

So without sounding whiney… what about me? As it’s my 30th year (yup, I’m going to take the whole year) I’m trying to give myself a break, be a little more selfish and do a little more of what I love – without, hopefully, pissing anyone off. After last year’s health scare in my family and nearly 8 exciting years of working my arse off in startups, I need to focus on spending my time on making myself feel better, being with the people I love and generally be a better person.

Because doing it all won’t make us the best we can be – it’ll make us the most exhausted, and probably the most grumpy versions of ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; I love to say yes to things, to keep busy (my mum always says of me when I was a child: ‘You were very… busy, all the time, always doing something’) and to share those experiences with others. After all, we might not have much time, but we’ll only have it once, so I’m all for making the most of it.

But I’d also love to read all those books stacked up on my bookshelves, to write more, to walk around London more without being in a rush, to not waste my weekends ticking off that admin list in the bank or the Post Office, and just generally to ‘be’. To have time that doesn’t feel like it’s already assigned to something I’m obligated to do. Now *that* is something I’m putting on my to-do list. Who’s with me?

 

Why my best Valentine’s Days have been when I’m single

Sex and the City Valentine

I kind of feel about Valentine’s Day the way that other people feel about New Year’s Eve – a bit too much effort, never as good as you hope and not really worth the bother. (I will never understand why people feel this about NYE – it’s an excuse to go dancing and partying with people you love, with a bonus free day off the next day – why on earth would you not want that?!)

This Valentine’s Day though, it seemed like everyone, whether single or coupled up, was making more of a big deal of it. It’s not that the shops were unbearably full with it (possibly even less so, this year) but more that people were actually asking others what their plans were, and making some of their own as if it was a real holiday to be celebrated.

Single or otherwise, I’ve never felt the need to even acknowledge it, but convention kind of means that if you’re a couple you’re supposed to mark it somehow. And that’s why this weekend, as a singleton, I got to thinking about what I would have been doing had I been with someone, and it made me realise: I’ve never had a great Valentine’s Day as a non-single. Not in a, get-the-violins-out-I’m-so-unlucky kind of way, but it made me see that a) I’m quite pleased not to be with someone for this ramped up 2016 version and b) if I wasn’t, I certainly wouldn’t be making plans other than maybe a takeaway and a DVD (piss off with your ‘Netflix and chill’, I’m old school).

In fact, it’s not so much that the years where I was with someone were bad (though they generally involved overpriced meals in horrid restaurants, severe anxiety because of the general pressure of it and occasionally, mild food poisoning), but actually that the single ones were just SO damn good.

I’ve got some brilliant friends, luckily, and from the time that a few of us went to a dating event in which a topless man and woman served us cocktails in little more than a thong to the night where we all went bowling and drank quite a lot of cocktails which makes it quite hard to throw straight, my single Valentine’s Days have been an absolute hoot.

This year was slightly less exciting – I stayed in, settled on the sofa with copious amounts of tea and a brilliant film (Ex Machina, highly recommend). I suppose company would have been nice, but there’s something wonderful about not having to please anyone but yourself for a whole day. Someone corny would call it self-love or something equally hippy-ish, but to me, that’s just a perfect Sunday. Same time next week, hopefully…