— Miss Draper

Nobody likes January. It’s cold, you have to face the financial aftermath of Christmas and you’re probably dealing with unpredictable bowel movements as a result of your raw, protein enhanced, processed kale, super-green-goddess diet. All this, combined with a new obligatory exercise routine and the deep, aching sensation in your thighs from the burn of 500 weekly squats makes for a pretty shitty 31 days.

My determined refusal to partake in any standard January weight loss activities has left me at somewhat of a loose end, and with all this free time I have not dieting I’ve found myself at the mercy of the self-improvement regimes of other people. The majority of my friends are starving, tee-total and spouting phrases like ‘2013 is going to be MY year!’ at every feasible opportunity they come across; thus turning into the most boring people imaginable and making me feel like an inferior, Nandos eating, wine swilling couch potato in the process.

If like me you spend the majority of your waking hours in close proximity to a computer, you may have found yourself incorrectly deciding to seek solace in Google Reader and your internet friends, after your own ‘real-life’ friends became too preoccupied with spin class, spiritual cleansing and generally making you feel inferior. I unashamedly love to read about the lives of other people – providing they don’t make me feel shit about my own and as far as January is concerned, I may as well have spent the entire of 2012 eating Pringles and woken up at midnight on December the 31st to cheer and peel the Quality Street wrappers off my face.

I’ve always found that January, over all other months is one of insanity inducing insecurity as I’m forced to reflect upon the last 12 months and the questionable way in which I chose to live them. My 2012 was hardly one of milestones. I didn’t make much money or have children. I didn’t travel or get to wear graduation robes again. I did almost exactly the same thing every day; a repetitive grind of eat-work-sleep with the occasional long-weekend at my parents thrown in for good measure. It was unremarkable in every way, but perspective, in a self-indulgent nostalgic kind of way tells me otherwise.

Sometimes, I don’t fully understand the person I am today. I am the kind of person who carries around a Moleskine diary and meets with a financial advisor to discuss pension options. I have a physiotherapist, an orthodontist, a dermatologist and a training schedule. Occasionally I catch myself saying vacuous, dull things like “I need to pick up my dry-cleaning,” “Can you make sure it’s slim-line?” and “Salted caramel is such a ‘done’ flavour.” and all these things are so normal. They’re just things said and done by people who have normal lives, routines and some kind of purpose that makes them get out of bed day after day.

Maybe it’s because I want to feel like I did something constructive with my year, or perhaps 365 days of a desk job has rendered me cheerfully delusional. Regardless, 2012 was the year that things ‘worked out’ for me, and that from homelessness and a close shave with unemployment I settled into a routine vaguely resembling something of a normal, post-education adult life, and that is it. That is the thing that we’re all so desperately scrabbling for when we’re unleashed into the world, degree certificate in hand and still hungover from the ceremony after-party. A job, a house, success, and the feeling that it was all worth it. A real, adult, legitimate existence. My year was profound in the most average way imaginable and it makes for shit blogging material, but it’s enough for me.

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Printed Materials

When it comes to printed materials, I’m somewhat of a self-confessed hoarder. Try as I might, I can’t resist the lure of a pretty piece of paper. Whether it’s a postcard, a leaflet, those lovely newsprint catalogues they give you in Topshop, or my long term love, the photograph, I just can’t say no.

I collect, reminisce and hoard myself into a nostalgic coma, the recycling bin is not an option. Instead I find myself curating boxes, notice boards and everything in-between to collate my precious collection of various types of paper. Of course my paper hoarding is not something that is understood or appreciated by everyone. Strangely for a print obsessive I chose to pursue a career in digital, meaning that in a professional context print has no place in my life whatsoever. My life is dominated by my other love – the Internet – and each day is spent absorbed in a world where print has absolutely no relevance. It is hard to believe I spend 9 hours each day staring gormlessly between the two monitors on my desk obsessively monitoring client campaigns as if my sole purpose in life depends on it; whilst secretly scuttling home at night to delicately paw over lists and tiny pieces of paper.

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Women Hate Eachother

Way back when there was a boy. We bonded over VK Apples, cigarettes and presumably the unspoken common ground that neither of us was particularly fond of sleeping in an empty bed. Together we spent the majority of that year watching baking programs on BBC iPlayer, and devising ways in which we could cover the fire alarm sufficiently to allow us to smoke with no windows open. It was a sweet deal. As students, we weren’t particularly prepared to commit to anything that involved either of us leaving the house more than twice a week, and so it what was it was. A patient, slightly prolonged affair in which I desired absolutely no drama; just the occasional presence of another human being with whom I could share cigarettes and watch X Factor with.

Alas, like the majority of student flings it was not meant to be, and the cracks began to show faster than he could bleach my fake tan off his bedding. Not only was I excessively orange, I was bemused. Fortunately however, that didn’t last long. It soon became apparent that said boy had fallen prey to the clutches of his manipulative ex-girlfriend and thus, drama and all hideous manner of bitchy girl carnage ensued.

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I’m a tragically nostalgic person, hence the above note. I like to keep things, primarily insignificant scraps of paper and notes to remind myself that somewhere, somehow that day meant something to me and that other people were there for the journey. This one in particular has been hanging around in my room for a while and I’ve come to see it as my general ‘good luck in life’ note; I’ve grown rather attached to it.

This note and I had our first encounter exactly a year ago when I found it stuck on my desk on my first day of working and living in London. I have repeatedly written in this blog that I didn’t take my departure from university well, and I’m certain that this is what provoked me to charge blindly into an unpaid job in a new city completely alone. It was arguably the most ridiculous, poorly thought out plan of my entire life. I knew it, my family knew it, as did the people who’s sofas I would proceed to repeatedly sleep on for the next three months; the note however was the first point in which I felt greeted with the assurance that someone knew this was a big deal for me and was wishing me luck along the way, rather than burdening me with their concerns and reminding me that actually, I’d done something pretty stupid.

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As a shameless over-sharer I’m inadequately qualified to dictate what I believe people should, or should not share on social media. I accept that you may want to share pictures of your baby/adorable pet/delicious gluten-free cupcake and that’s all fine, provided you do it with some degree of restraint. The issue with Facebook however, is that people often seem to forget that it isn’t a personal repository for every mind-numbing, insignificant detail of their personal life. High on the compendium of things that irritate me about Facebook are -

  1. Unnecessary, gory public displays of affection
  2. Incessant baby updates. Nobody cares if your child has just had it’s first independent encounter with a toilet
  3. Middle class bragging. I have no necessity to visit Thailand, I pretty much know the country inside out. Thank you uni friends

Also on the list (but not tragic enough to warrant their own bullet points) include open ended, attention seeking status updates, work brags and statuses composed of any kind of song lyric. However, having recently indulged in an un-friending binge and the addition of the ‘unbaby me’ app I’ve more or less returned my Facebook to a state of comfortable social inhabitancy, or to be more blunt, I am now able to log on to Facebook without suffering aggressive urges to claw my eyes out and sob as I rock to and fro fearful for the future of our species. Despite this, Facebook and I apparently have unfinished business, and there is one particularly irritating, creepy and simultaneously soul-destroying aspect of Facebook that lingers on my profile completely beyond my control –

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Yes, I know what you’re all thinking. It’s nothing short of criminal that this witty, educated, fine specimen of a young women should ever have to resort to such means to make a reasonable living. Alas, a girl needs gin and sequin hot pants and the sensible way to acquire both of these things is obviously, by selling sex toys to middle aged women, terrified husbands and the sexually frustrated population of the East Midlands.

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Jessica Ennis

I was more than a little dubious about the Olympics, and I’m sure that everyone who has ever found themselves with their face embedded into sweaty tourists backpack on the Central Line was in some level of agreement with me. Aside from being completely perplexed that anyone with even the most miniscule shred of sanity would hold a global sporting spectacular in Stratford (LOCOG have been to Stratford, right?) and despairing that said event was about to be hosted inconveniently close to my house, I was mainly indifferent towards the Olympics because I hate watching televised sports.

I find the mainstream coverage of sport mind-numbingly dull and above all else, incredibly exclusive. Honestly? I’m largely indifferent towards watching a group of massively overpaid, presumably inarticulate, rampantly philandering sportsmen chase a small ball/each other around a field. Quite frankly, I’d rather squander my precious time watching auto-tune news clips on YouTube and The Great British Bake Off. As much as I feel ashamed to pander to the ‘girls don’t like sport’ stereotype, particularly when there are a huge amount of women who do enjoy watching sport (and I salute you all), I can’t help but wonder if this is even remotely surprising when my gender are almost entirely excluded from mainstream sports broadcasting.

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Me, looking small, red and very sad

It’s difficult to explain exactly what I had envisioned my adult life would be like, but my delusions certainly involved far more cocktails, and far less daytime television.

I had somehow imagined that I would be better dressed, thinner, richer and overall more graceful. I had always hoped that I would become the kind of woman to wear heels and red lipstick on a daily basis, who’s culinary repertoire consisted of more than fish-finger sandwiches accompanied with wine costing more than £3.99 a bottle, sipped with restraint from glasses that are not from IKEA.

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