If you were going to get anything embroidered on the collar of a millennial pink shirt it would be a tough choice between ‘hustle’ and ‘self-care’. They are the watchwords of the twenty something, used to motivate or justify across whichever social network is in vogue. Hustle is the idea of coming home from your day job and launching straight into your second (most likely creative) self started job. It doesn’t necessarily relate to money or fame, more the idea of relentlessly improving your current position entirely on your own terms. Self-care on the other hand is all hugge, its cutting yourself some slack and listening when your body or mind says enough. It’s getting some sleep, making your world smaller, treating yourself like you are worth taking care of. But here is the problem; in terms of how you live your life those two millennial concepts are at opposite ends of the fucking scale.

If I want to be taken seriously in my career, or even on this blog, it takes a significant amount of time and effort. It’s hours and stress and not giving in. I have to be bloody minded and determined, it consumes all my energy. Everything you hear about successful artists or entrepreneurs is that they had to have a singular focus in order to succeed.

The fucking irony of the hustle is that it feels damn good. The thought of maybe getting to the end of the emails in my inbox and starting tomorrow with a fresh slate keeps me at my desk. The dream of one day holding my book in my hands makes me have wild Saturday night’s writing at my coffee table instead of Tinder dates like a normal kid. The hustle makes you keep climbing even when you have no energy left because it just feels like you are on the right path, and it keeps on feeling good right up until it doesn’t. Ambition isn’t kind when you burn out.

Then comes self-care. Stress is one of the number one killers, it impacts every part of your body down to a molecular level. So self-care seems like the ultimate solution, no problem so big it can’t be solved by an Anthropologie candle and a Lush bath bomb. Ok, slightly facetious. Eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep and taking time away from screens DOES make you feel better. Emotions are more even, life seems easier to tackle. For me even washing my hair can me the secret to feeling better (we all know that my hair is big because of all the secrets).

So treating myself kindly is happiness, but achieving something with my life is also happiness. If I wanted to get the sleep I need, work the hours I need to pay my rent and feel like I am making progress with my creative pursuits I would need around an extra 3 days a week. I have had an application in with the big guy to make this happen for three years and so far no dice. Instead I have a system to balance the two, I do what I can when I can; and if I find myself watching five hours of YouTube on a Saturday instead of doin’ the hustle I don’t beat myself up. It just is what it is.

Hopefully one day my jewellery line will be a success, hopefully one day I will hold my published book in my hands, hopefully I can manage to post on this blog every week. But if all that takes longer than it should, or I have to drop everything for a month its ok. Maybe self-care for the dreamer is just cutting yourself some slack every now and again.

P.s. I have spent this entire post spelling it ‘hussle’ which makes complete sense in my brain…spelling is something I definitely cut myself some slack on.

I have now had a cartilage piercing for five months. It came about because I was travelling a silly amount at the end of last year and much like a sixteen year old, I wanted to get a pierced ear to show I had some control over my life. A tiny rose gold piece of rebellion that made no logical sense but made me feel a lot better about living out of a suitcase. I put very little thought into getting it. In the one day I had at home in-between Stockholm and Shanghai I had the thought and ran to Liberty to get it done (you can read the whole story here). Given the complete lack of research into what it would be like, here are the things I wish I had known beforehand:

  • Even though your heart will be pounding a million miles an hour it doesn’t actually hurt that much, getting a bikini wax is way worse.
  • When you have hair blessed by Richard Simmons it is impossible to take a picture of your piercing for a blog post.
  • Turns out that unlike getting your ear lobes pieced a cartilage piercing takes fucking ages to heal…like ages. We all heal differently but mine took two weeks to be able to sleep on it and then four full months to fully heal.
  • The rose gold won’t clash with any of the earrings you put in your earlobes.
  • When you are stuck in hotels and need to bathe your piercing in salt water you will find yourself ordering room service just to get the salt sachet.
  • Cartilage piercings can get a weird lump, but one day you will wake up and it will be completely fine. Don’t freak out, it will get better.
  • You will look like a middle class millennial bad-ass.
  • You will be the only one who thinks you look like a bad-ass.
  • For the indecisive a cartilage piercing is a better decision than a tattoo.
  • You will need to bathe it in salt water twice a day for five minutes at a time (just pressing, not twirling or rubbing).
  • Five minutes is a really long time to hold your arm to your ear, leaning on a pillow will make this easier.
  • It will be an awesome decision.

Greg, if you are reading this please stop here and don’t read the rest of the post. Actually if you are anyone who works with me please skip this blog. Look, if you know me in a work capacity just go and look at this picture of a puppy doing yoga instead.

Ok now that they have all gone, let me tell you how utterly stupid I’ve been recently.

I am a stupidly responsible person, I am uptight over most things but in particular being safe and looking after my possessions are my top two. Call it being single and having to get myself from A to B – I am accountable for my entire being. But no matter where this high level of responsibility comes from…I am the one you can give your handbag to when you go for a smoke.

So this is the awkward part…

I don’t know what the hell has happened to me recently, but I have left my work laptop in not one…but two bars in London. You can see why I told Greg the IT guy at work to stop reading, he would have a heart attack if he knew poor lamb.

The first incident was actually at a work function where we all went to learn how to make sushi. I got rather merry and wielded a knife with such artistry that I was named Queen of Sushi. Well, not quite but my sushi was judged the best out of the thirty or so people who were there and I won a sushi making kit.

My plan had been to head home for an early night but after my win the glory and the rice just went to my head. I ended up at an underground cocktail club necking gin and it wasn’t until I got home that with a sinking feeling I realised I didn’t have my laptop. Thankfully the sushi teacher had found it under a table and I was able to make a mad dash to collect it at lunchtime the next day.

I thought I had learned my lesson, I thought this was a once in 28years experience and it had scared me straight. I would never again lose my laptop (particularly not my work one) and I would return to my former responsible self.

And I did, for five whole weeks I did and then came the gin.

I was at the City of London Distillery which is one of my old haunts (it was the bar I went to for after work drinks when I was at my first London job). I made the rookie error of putting my handbag on the floor on one side of me, and my laptop on the floor on the other side of me. Two gins down I happily went on my way to meet a friend for dinner in Shoreditch.

It wasn’t till 1am that night when I sat bolt upright in bed realising I had once again left my laptop in a damn bar. Simple right? I could go and collect it the next day right? Haha what about me makes you think it would be that simple.

I realised the lack of laptop at 1am Saturday morning. I was flying out to Sweden for work on Sunday (where I would seriously need my laptop). The bar was closed on Sundays so Saturday was going to be my only time to pick it up, but two major problems…

  1. This is London and there was a high chance someone would just have walked off with it
  2. I was going to see both parts of Cursed Child (the Harry Potter play) on Saturday….and the only times the bar was open was when the play was on

I didn’t really sleep for the rest of the night, with the choice of missing the Harry Potter play or Greg being disappointed in me going round and round in my head.

From first thing Saturday morning it was a military style campaign of me ringing the bar every ten minutes to see if someone had handed it in. Turns out bars are not open first thing on a Saturday morning. I managed to get through to the bar at lunchtime just before leaving for part 1 of the play; after I ashamedly confirmed that my laptop was a Dell with an Apple sticker on it (don’t ask), they said they had found it!

First problem ticked off. But also who would have thought you could leave a laptop twice in London and people would hand it in?

Anyway the second problem had me running out of the doors at the end of Part 1 and flagging down a cab. Jumping in and shouting ‘Fleet Street’ at the driver is perhaps the most London I have ever felt. I made it to the bar and the lovely bar tender handed me my laptop with one hand and a G&T with the other (I think I was looking slightly harried). Fuelled by the power of gin I made it back to Harry in time for part 2 and to Sweden in time for work on Monday.

Moral of the story: think twice before leaving me with your handbag…maybe staple it to me somehow.

I don’t think I have ever told this story on my blog, the story of the first time I lived in London. I was 18, loved a good headband and was ready(?) to go to the other side of the world for a semester abroad. Questionable fashion choices aside it was a life changing experience driven purely by sisterly one-upmanship (I was a horrible little sister!). The exchange lead to me vowing I would never again live in London because it was such a terrible and boring place – clearly I shouldn’t vow things quite so often.

I have to back track quite far for the start of this journey, back to high school. My sister is three years older than me and when she was in university she investigated doing an exchange (to America I think?) but decided not to go in the end. It was a completely rational call but to my jealous 16 year old brain saw this as a cop-out, and I vowed that when I was in University I would go further than my sister and actually go on an exchange. Little sisters are just the best. Fast forward to my first year of a double degree and I had backed myself into a corner, I had no option but to start filling out the forms to apply for my exchange.

There were so many thinks I was particular about (I think I was wanting one to fall through so I didn’t have to go). I wanted to go to the university closest to London (ironically it was in Kingston-upon-Thames which is where my parents lived during their OE in the 70’s), I only wanted to go for six months and I categorically did not want to stay with a host family. I was so afraid of ending up having to stay in the spare room of some real life British people that I applied for university halls before I had even submitted my exchange application (I ended up being the only exchange student to get a place in halls thanks to my eagerness).

I almost backed out so many times. I realise that I should have just been grateful at this amazing opportunity, which I was analytically but emotionally I was a wreck. Moving to the other side of the world terrified me, I am such a control freak homebody that London was the opposite of what felt right to me. But, but… I had vowed that I would not be my sister, I would go ahead with the exchange. So I did. It was my first flight by myself, first time living away from home, first time managing money by myself, first time making new friends since primary school. It was fucking scary.

When I arrived in Kingston after a 30 hour journey I discovered that the Middle Mills halls where I would be living was more like flats rather than dorms, my one was 8 bedrooms with a large shared kitchen and two bathrooms. I looked to the reception guy to make me feel at home or give me any words of encouragement at all, but he was a tired uni student who probably had an essay due. He showed me to my room, gestured over to the other side of the car-park “that’s where the washing machines are”, warned me about the fine for setting the fire alarm off and then left me to it.

My room looked like a cell. It was freezing outside. I had gone from my nice house and parents who brought me gin on demand to sharing with 6 strange boys and one girl. The bathroom didn’t have any toilet paper in it. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I needed a shower as first priority but I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the light or make the water hot, a cold shower in the dark felt appropriate given how I was feeling about the move in that moment.

After my shower I was doing my best to unpack through the jetlag when I heard a knock on my heavy duty, automatically closing,  fire proof bedroom door. It was the only other girl in the flat, Jenny, who just so happened to have the room across from mine. I kid you not it was like my guardian angel was there to greet me.

I think she was just happy that another girl had moved in (let me tell you, living with 6 guys in their late teens is…interesting), but for me it was a ray of hope that everything was going to be ok. She had put aside half of the dinner she made just in case I arrived hungry that night, gave me a spare roll of toilet paper and offered to show me where the supermarket was the next day. I still didn’t know if I had made the right decision moving to London, but at least I had made my first friend.

This post has been slightly longer than intended, so I am going to leave off here and create a part two featuring my first adventure to the pub, bring stalked by foxes and lectures.