5 signs you are in a toxic friendship 

opinion piece

There are numerous songs written about the pains of heart break. Losing the one you love, the emotional and physical side affects of people’s worlds seemingly falling apart. However when it comes to friendships, we have more pride. When you break up with a good friend, you act as if you don’t care. When really, it can be just as painful as any relationship break up. We’ve all been there, having had a best friend that you thought would be around forever. Things change and people move on. But how do you arm yourself from falling victim to a fake friend in the future? 

There is no sure fire way to tell a friends intentions, especially at the beginning of friendships. Naturally over time peoples true colours will shine through, until then keep your guard up and your observation on point. 

Over the years I’ve come across many friends and acquaintances; a diverse range of people. It’s difficult to correlate any similarities in my individual friendships with these people and why they turned out to be so fake. It’s hard to pin point. Moreover, there are some similarities that I have noticed. If only I had been warned in hindsight I may not have wasted my time with such individuals. Below are my 5 main signs that your friendship is not as rosy as you anticipated. 

1. It’s always on you 

This is one of the more obvious signs, but it doesn’t always show in long term friendships, as people can get complacent and comfortable. If you feel within your friendship that the effort is one way – maybe it’s time to stop trying. Frankly, if someone who is part of a generation of people who walk around with their phones glued to their hands (sorry to stereotype millenials) can’t find 30 seconds in their day to message you; Perhaps, really you ought to accept that they don’t care as much as you do. 

Wasting your time chasing someone who isn’t interested in spending their time with you can be draining, and demoralising. The only way to stop this is to either approach your friend and discuss how you feel, or simply to stop making the effort. The way in which your friend reacts can often be a sign of how they view / value / don’t value your relationship. 

2. They are severely selfish 

Don’t get me wrong, your twenties are the perfect time to be utterly and completely selfish. And I get that. There’s levels to selfishness though – the trick is to tell who is around because you are of beneficial use to them? And who is around you because they genuinely enjoy your company? 

The reasons why your friends want to meet up, why they want to see you. Will often be a huge giveaway if their subconscious intentions are pejorative. For example: if a friend only contacts you when they need something from you, this pattern will emerge with clarity after the passing of time – try to nip it in the bud to avoid further hurt. 

3. Going with the flow 

If one of your friends seems passive in conversation, they could just be genuinely shy, or they could secretly hate you but despise confrontation? Alarm bells should start ringing in your mind if this person who is supposedly close to you, cannot express an opinion when they conversate with you. That portrays that they either don’t agree with something about you, they are secretly jealous or they talk about you to others. Of course, we can’t spend our lives being massively paranoid – we wouldn’t trust our own mothers. But if your friend exhibits a few of these traits, there could be some underlying reasons why. 

4. Misery needs company 

Good friends will contact you whenever they can, within reason. If you only hear from a friend when they are down, it could be that they just want you as a shoulder to temporarily cry on. This is fine as friends will help each other through tough times, the problem arises when this particular friend no longer has an interest in you when circumstances in their life become happier. This is pretentiousness. This is an example of narcissism. They need you to stroke their ego when things are not going smoothly, when all is well you get dashed to the side like an unwanted child’s toy. 

5. Enjoy the party 

We all go through chronological phases in our lives. The entirety of life is a learning curve. Most people at some stage have a phase of partying in their life – no matter how regularly they go out or how wild they are they enjoy the party scene. The party scene is great for temporary thrills. Sometimes it’s difficult to see amidst the alcohol fuelled nights out and drug binges who your true friends are. Stop partying and see who’s still around? Who wants to actually know you as a person when you become ‘boring’? 

Friends should be around regardless. Regardless if you want to get smashed everyday or you chose to read a book in the library. Why should it even matter? You accept diversity within people, and you accept them for who they are. 

If you have a friend who exhibits more than one of these traits towards you, then you need to seriously reconsider your friendship. It can be difficult and awkward to confront these things, but, as with most things in life – honesty is the best policy. Talk through how you feel and how it can be resolved. Otherwise just leave. Go and get yourself a better, loyal friend who’s there for life. Not just the parties or the good times. Forever friends. 

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Feeling fruitful: 5 easy steps to improve your diet 

top tips

”I’m not on a diet, I’m just trying to be healthier…”

This has been my (sad) life mantra for about the last year; safe to say alot of the time I fail miserably at it. But, there are some simple ways of improving your diet and general health – that I have discovered and reluctantly taken on board. Which can be implemented fairly easily, and don’t cost bundles either.

1). Zero tolerance policy on caffeine

If, like me, your lifestyle is a hectic re-enactment of Wolf on Wall Street; and you really believe you couldn’t survive daily work life without the (legal) drugs. You can do it.

Yes caffeine is a drug, a highly addictive one at that. You don’t need coffee. That boost of energy it gives you can be obtained from other drinks. Herbal teas are brilliant for detoxing, and you can find some lovely flavours. My current fave is organic green tea with manuka honey, from Heath & Heather, 20 tea bags for £2.49. Or switch your morning coffee for coconut water – much healthier and gives you a natural boost. If you feel you can’t go cold turkey right away try de-caf, or using brown sugar instead of white (or better still no sugar at all).

2). Skip the sugar

It is difficult to avoid sugar, it’s in almost everything we consume. But what you can do is avoid adding extra sugar to food (e.g on your cereal). And in terms of snacking and desserts – look for sugar free alternatives, or items with much less sugar.

For example, if you usually have a chocolate bar everyday with your lunch; why not swap that with a banana? Or nuts?

My top low sugar snacks are:

  • Nuts/seeds (can be added into fruit bowls or eaten alone)
  • Rice cakes – savoury or sweet
  • Belvita biscuits
  • Fruit (which has natural sugar, so not too much of this either)
  • Dark chocolate as a treat – only a few squares
  • Sugar free sweets – available from Holland & Baratt

3). Fizzy pop out the window

One can of coca cola contains 7 cubes of sugar. It is disgusting! Whether we like it or not the fizzy drinks we buy are packed full of sugar, just imagine what that is doing to our teeth (believe me root canal ain’t pretty, or cheap, IT’S TRAUMATISING) – and the insides of our bodies.

If you can’t give up totally try to stick to diet versions, or sugar-free fizzy drinks. Which actually taste just as sweet.

Tasty alternatives to fizzy drinks include:

  • Home-made smoothies
  • Water, water and more water
  • Soya milkshakes (banana one is soooo yum)
  • Sugar-free squash with carbonated mineral water
  • Fruit infused water (marinate the night before for ultimate flavour)
  • Coconut water

Just take into consideration the fact that fruit has alot of natural sugars also, so eat fruit in moderation too. These natural sugars in excess can be harmful to teeth. Ideally, stick to drinking water, and have other drinks as a treat.

4). How to avoid fat

We’ve talked about sugar intake regarding snacks, desserts and drinks. What about main meals though? How do you avoid processed junk and fat?

One major trick is to be organised. Instead of being out, getting hangry and grabbing a Big Mac because it’s convenient – if you already made a packed lunch the night before this wouldn’t happen.

But, of course, you won’t eat packed lunches everyday. If eating out with friends – or preparing meals at home,

Stick to these top tips:

  • Stick to grilled meat, rather than fried
  • Increase your Omega-3 intake, fish is very good for you
  • Try to eat healthier carbs; sweet potato, wholemeal bread/rice and Ryvita
  • Stock up on fresh veg and do not overcook
  • If you do occasionally treat yourself to something ‘naughty’, try to limit portion amount

5). No deprivation

No-one in this entire world is ever going to be motivated to do anything if they constantly feel deprived. It is difficult to eat healthier, especially with so many temptations surrounding us. The trick is to not deprive yourself. For example if you love pizza, why not try to make a fresh one yourself? Or search for a weight watchers one which is low calorie? OR, treat yourself to one maybe once a week, on the weekend, and eat healthily during the week. Then you have something to look forward to – and eventually you may not even crave it any more; you might find healthier meals which you prefer.

 

Stay motivated guys!

How to dress like a celebrity on a budget 

top tips

I’m not sure if I like this title, it’s a little basic and makes me sound like a self obsessed bitch. But I promise I’m not being one bit conceited or patronising. On Instagram I have a lot of girls asking what I do as a job, because it appears I have a lot of money. Yes I do drive a BMW and yes I do consistently buy designer bags, shoes & make up.

In all honesty though I’m at university and I work as a service advisor at a garage. Yes my job is pressurised and yes I work long hours. But I don’t earn bundles. 

There’s a great saying which always stayed with me ‘It’s not about how much you earn but how much you save’. To this day that is my mantra and I truly believe it’s about utilising the money you do earn to its fullest extent. Not only that but being disciplined and willing to put in all the hours you can. 

Here are my personal top tips in money saving, and how to appropriately utilise it so that you too can look like kim k on a primark budget (that was really cheesy but you get the drift):

1. Discipline 

Probably one of the hardest things as a female in a capitalist consumer driven society. But, I’m afraid if you want to save you will have to learn self control. I would suggest having two bank accounts, one for living and one for saving. As soon as you get paid transfer as much as you can afford into your savings and do not touch, unless you need it for an emergency. The key to saving is not to deprive yourself. You can treat yourself to small things if you have been doing well as an incentive to keep going. I have found in the past having a specific goal like a new car, shoes etc helps you keep focused on the end result. 

2. Smart shop

When it comes to fashion it can be a little harder to budget yourself. I know exactly how it is, you have a friends birthday coming up and you convince yourself you have NOTHING to wear. So you further convince yourself you need a new outfit complete with new heels. No you do not. If you haven’t brought yourself new clothes in a very long time this would be an exception, but if this is a regular occurrence; what you can do is buy one new item. For example some heels from primark which might only set you back £12. You wear them once and sell them on eBay? No biggie. When it comes to designer items you have to be even smarter. Staple items such as handbags and shoes, can be brought from eBay/Gumtree and even car boot sales. Not to mention charity shops. BUT invest wisely into classics. For example I brought my first pair of Louboutins last year, and I literally brought the most plain black pair because I know they’ll go with almost anything and won’t go out of fashion as they are classic. With make up you have sooooooo many options, brands like the balm and mua are so cheap and high quality. You can literally take your pick! 

3. Organise

You need to plan what you will do with your wages and stick to it. I often make a plan every week (luckily I get paid weekly). Once you do this, the next step is to see where you can minimise expenditure. For example, take packed lunches to university/work instead of wasting money on eating out everyday. Any subscriptions you have taken out which aren’t necessary – stop them asap. And furthermore establish between what you need and what you want. Needs are food, travel, housing and bills. Anything else is what you want and can wait. 

4. Think outside the box

Aside from just getting your wage / and / or student loan, think what else can you do to generate extra cash? You can do car boot sales in which you can sell old junk. Literally junk. It helps you to clear out your old stuff as well. Sell expensive items you no longer use/wear on eBay. You could even do cleaning jobs in your own time/ any other part time jobs on weekends/evenings. This would mean that you no longer have time to go out and waste money. You can also invest. For example at car boot sales they often have vintage/designer goods – if you can haggle and get them for a cheap price and then sell more expensive on eBay. Everyone’s a winner! 

Please note; although many of these tips focus on discipline, you must ensure you have a healthy balance of satisfaction and self control. Don’t starve yourself or deprive yourself of having a social life – just cut down where you can. Enjoy being able to afford more in the long run! 

Travel bug

opinion piece

It’s cheesy and cliche; and it’s obvious. It’s obvious. Everybody gets that rejuvenating, sense of excitement and new beginnings when they go on holiday. It’s almost like anything could happen; your mood is relaxed, your mind cleared and all your problems seem a million miles away. But I’m not here to discuss yoga, or relaxation tips. There’s also something else which happens (in my case anytime I go anywhere at all, even local); as any retail addict knows very well. Holiday is merely a justification to buy a whole new wardrobe. Even if you’ve only had one two weeks ago. Buy those Tom Ford sunglasses, because, hell your going to wear them anyway.

Here are my top tips for holiday shopping this year;

1. Travel light

This sounds much easier then it is; over-packing comes naturally to me. I need three outfits per day. Plus beachwear and optional shoes and handbags. So I understand how we struggle as females. But you know what? you won’t end up wearing half the stuff you’ll lug halfway across the ocean. So plan and write down what you will definitely wear. Repeating day outfits is fine, especially for summer holidays, it’s hot so you require less clothing. Also, travelling light allows you to take smaller suitcases which are often prettier (how I wish I was able to fit all my junk into my Louis carry-case, instead I got lobbed with a Dunlop suitcase as it was the only thing in my house in which my stuff fitted in).

2. Sale shopping

If, like me, your likely to wear your holiday outfits just once. There’s no point spending a fortune on outfits. Scan sales online, websites like Missguided offer sales constantly (they have brill dresses, casual & party), plus they always have constant student discount. For designer items try an outlet like Portsmouth or Bicester where they have various designer stores with up to 70% discount. This can be handy for finding handbags, shoes, purses, sunglasses for holiday.

3. Shop smart

Depending on where you go, most countries are cheaper then London; and if you buy make-up and clothes abroad. Guess what? That bitch at work in accounts isn’t going to be able to copy your peplum top from the boutique in Crete in a small village on the other side of Europe. You will find unique pieces which you can utilize the whole summer.

4. Research

Before you part, search weather conditions (you don’t want to turn up in Spain expecting blazing heat, and actually the week you go its forecast to rain and you only have short shorts and t-shirts, not ideal). Try to research the culture also, how do the locals dress? I didn’t do this and attended a nightclub in a small town in Crete wearing a bodycon house of CB bandage two piece with nude Jimmy Choo heels; and the amount of stares I was getting – I may as well have been a hooker. Everyone in the nightclub was wearing jeans and t-shirts. It was beyond casual, and it was somewhat embarrassing also. So if you know anyone from the country ask beforehand, and google the place as well.

5. Speculate to accumulate

When you arrive back home, then its time for a clear out. Do a car boot sale (if we ever have good weather in England that is), anything anymore valuable, put on eBay. Seeing as you’ve brought a new wardrobe, you might as well clear out the old one and make yourself some extra pennies too. Every little helps.