Lazy Summer Days

Back when I just started reading and was still living in Bangladesh, I would get so excited about whichever new book (usually a Goosebumps one) I bought from the ‘library.’ I would cosy up on the sofa or on our king sized bed and read all day long.

While buying books will always be something I love, I haven’t felt that joy and excitement I used to feel for quite some time now. Perhaps it’s because now it’s much easier for me to get my hands on books I want. Or maybe because I have more things to keep me busy with. We didn’t have internet connection till twenty eleven and my free time was (when simplified) divided between TV, computer and books.

Anywho, I got a few books after my exams in May and haven’t gotten around to finishing any of them. I am this close to finishing The Universe In Your Hand by Christophe Galfard and I actually like the book, so I am not even sure what’s holding me back. For the most part, I read it while travelling and refuse to pick it up now at home.

I was a quarter way through Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. As much as I enjoyed it, I had to pause it in June for some reasons and proceeded to reading a poem or two from The Essential Rumi. I haven’t read from it for a while now.

The Universe In Your Hand is a book about cosmology for regular folks interested in cosmology and the origin of our universe. I happen to be one of them. If I was ever any good at maths, I would probably be studying physics and specialising in astronomy. My sister thinks I am being ‘educational’ when I read these stuff but honestly, I just really enjoy learning about these things. To each our own.

I have also been listening to podcasts when I am out and about. (Piece of advice though, take off your headphones while attempting to cross the road. Learn from my mistakes!) Castbox app probably existed for a while now but I am obsessed with it. Instead of listening to music which makes me feel low, I just listen to interesting podcasts that almost make me forget that I am in the Underground. (Subway for Americans)

A notable few podcast ‘channels’ that I enjoy listening to are The Life Scientific, Writing Excuses, History Extra, TED talks, The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly, Social Triggers and Pod Save The World every now and again.

The Life Scientific is actually a BBC Radio 4 programme where Professor Jim Al-Khalili interviews leading scientists about their lives, struggles and achievements and as a scientist on the way, (hopefully!) I just find listening to these interviews very inspiring and interesting.

Writing Excuses is run by a few authors including Brandon Sanderson, and they interview other authors to discuss their writing techniques and advice. I really like listening to these discussions and I honestly believe aspiring writers can really benefit from it.

I can’t afford to go abroad for holiday at the moment, so I have been out and about around London a lot. Mostly with my sister though after getting annoyed (for no particular reason) and losing touch with the handful of people that I used to know. I know, I am a horrible person. But my sister’s cool company to be around. We have been eating out, shopping, popping into a few festivals and leaving like five minutes later and watching movies. By shopping, I mean necessary shopping. Mostly.

We watched Wonder Woman, Despicable me 3, Spiderman: Homecoming and Annabelle: Creation so far before she left for University. One of my friends from college and I are going to go watch It on Wednesday for which I am excited because we haven’t seen each other in a while and we both like horror movies.

For someone who is no longer a teen, I watch a hell lot of cartoons. I just cannot help it! I also binge on regular series but cartoons hold a special place in my heart. Ironically, I never liked anime enough to get into it. As you can tell by now, my life isn’t that interesting. God forbid, someone I know reads my blog!

I binged on Star vs The Forces of Evil, Loud House, Harvey Beaks, Milo Murphy’s Law, and Over The Garden Wall this summer. I am now watching Daria! A little late but my God that girl embodies my spirit!

As for the series, I finished watching Reign because my best friend also got into it. Really loved Suits along with Jane The Virgin and Riverdale. I was pleasantly surprised with Riverdale because I tried watching it before but didn’t like it back then.

I also opened a pinterest account and if anyone reading this actually enjoys the content I post, ya might want to check my account out. I found a few recipes that I might actually be able to make. My skin has broken out a lot thanks to my unhealthy eating habits at home but since my second year of University is about to begin in a few days, I hope to change that.

I have my priorities straight now and chances are I am going to remain busy with work, assignments, projects, etc. so I am actually looking forward to going back. I also feel like I have matured as a person and developed more confidence in myself now compared to a year before. Here’s hoping, this year I won’t be miserable!

You know what I deserve a medal for? Joining the gym and actually using it regularly. Seriously, I did.

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Building Confidence

“This is the type of clothes I like, but I would never have the confidence to wear it.”

Naturally, my style has changed over time. Once, I used to wear lots of day dresses (even in winter) with my head-scarf styled in a way that clearly said she doesn’t know how to wrap a scarf. Then I wore sweater/jumper dresses and paired them up with colourful scarves. My shoes of choice were: boots in the winter, flats in the summer and converse type trainers during spring and autumn. I used to also wear faded green jeans with everything.

While at the time I thought I was doing fine, I do cringe a lot now. Seriously, where did my more shy-self find the confidence to leave home wearing four different colours? I do not know. I don’t hate myself for it. Maybe it was an external symbolism of the person I was back then. Or just bad decisions.

I am not fashionable, at all. But I really love certain styles and have a generic interest in fashion and makeup. I wouldn’t refer to myself as a particularly confident person but I can come off as more confident when needed. I was/am more insecure about my personality than my looks, but it varies between days. Some days the voices are so faint, they don’t even matter.

Sometimes, I can’t help but fantasize about having a more chiseled face, smaller and defined nose and ears, mouth and eyes without pigmentation around them, louder voice, extroverted personality etcetera etcetera. All that self-hating jazz. Ideal Western beauty standards we have been fed since birth. And I know, I am not the only one in this.

I am not going to say everyone is beautiful. Because beauty is subjective and it doesn’t define a person. Some features are more commonly approved of by the masses than others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the epitome of beauty. We don’t find everyone we meet beautiful, for some of us, that include ourselves. But we do treat these people with the same respect and humanity we’d treat people we deem beautiful with. Except ourselves.

That’s where self-compassion come in practise. I could spew the I learned to love myself bullshit but let’s face it, all of us don’t. Should we try to? Absolutely. But we don’t need to torment ourselves if we find it difficult and an incredibly slow process, maybe even fruitless.

The thing about negative emotions is that they can be metastatic. Loathing one thing leads to loathing another thing and it spreads and affect our day to day lives. So, here’s my philosophy. I am aware this philosophy of mine may not work for all but I’ll share it anyways.

When I used to volunteer in a hospital, the lady who ran the kitchen once told me: “if I was young and pretty like you I’d never do this work.” Now, the reason why I remember this is because it makes me laugh. No matter what anyone tell you, it won’t change the beliefs you hold about yourself.

A lot of the times, I used to find myself wearing something and then taking it off and changing into something more ‘neutral’ before going out. The reason being my belief that I am too shy to be seen in that or my face is too unpleasant for me to feel confident enough to wear that.

The problem with that is, I’d buy clothes and then store it away for when I am more confident or when I can apply better makeup and so on and so forth. It’d slowly eat away at me because I knew, I am not going to wake up one day all confident with pigmentation free skin and altered features.

Don’t get me wrong, some days I do like what I see in the mirror. But it’s only reality that some days will be good and others won’t. And I’ve accepted that.

When we don’t like something about ourselves, we either change it (if possible) or accept it. When I feel that it’s societal pressure that makes me want to change these things about me, I don’t. So, I drop the negative thoughts by contradicting them with realistic thoughts. Of course, sometimes they will come back with full force but eventually I’ll remember the values I hold dear and go back to being myself.

About confidence, all I can say is; be patient and start small. I cannot stress the importance of little wins. Getting a job, doing well in exams, going on trips, gaining more independence, being able to consciously control anxiety are just some of the things that helped me build courage. For me, courage is confidence.

I’ve learned that I am my most confident when I am in a state of self acceptance. I hate saying this out loud: when I was a bit younger, I used to hate interacting with new people because I knew my body language revealed that I am a shy and introverted person. But I persisted and got out of my way to do things and develop life skills. Although, I made one crucial mistake.

I believed, if I gained enough skills it’d change my personality. But confidence is an expression of self acceptance; of being at ease with your flaws and all. Once I realised that there’s nothing wrong with being the way I am, I grew better. There’s this myth that if you accept yourself, so will everyone else. Yes, some people will, some won’t but it doesn’t matter.

Everyone is obsessed with themselves. If you still can’t find the courage to wear that item you’re thinking of remember this: no one actually cares. No one notices what anyone is wearing. Even if they do, they don’t care. We are all self obsessed to some degree. Some of us with the things that are supposedly wrong with us.

Time and time again, I’ve learned that no matter how superior someone acts they have insecurities too. So, don’t take things personally. Nine out of ten times, if someone is rude to you for no particular reason, it’s because of problems they have with themselves. Trust me, this is something I’ve witnessed repeatedly. Don’t fall in this trap that there are right ways to do subjective things. They are subjective for a reason.

One last thing, it is okay for you to feel down and hurt. It doesn’t mean you’re taking things personally. As human beings, we have feelings. Crazy, who’d have known?! But it’s what you do with that feeling that matters. If you are hurt for whatever reason, don’t focus on it. Because what you focus on grows. Instead, acknowledge it and practise self compassion. Use it as fuel to improve something about yourself. But don’t ever feel ashamed for being human.

As for the quote at the top, that is something my friend once told me while admiring this aztec-ish printed hoodie (the one in the featured image) from Cow Vintage I was wearing. She is taller than me and I prefer her face shape to mine. Did I mention, she has a smaller and cuter nose?

 

Evernote review

Like many people, there are numerous apps in life that I downloaded and later parted with. It either irritated me by existing once I was done and over with it or because my phone forced me to delete it. Why can’t smart phone companies make phones with a decent memory capacity and battery too!

I’ve had my current phone for over three years now, so it is a fairly old model. It does support SD cards which is more important than one might imagine. It was on this phone that I first downloaded the Evernote app for reasons I can’t remember. Later, I deleted it before it made a permanent come back.

Evernote is a very sleek and sophisticated app. Its logo is a green blunt edged square with a grey elephant’s undetailed head on it. It looks very professional despite my description. Evernote offers its customer three choices; the basic one which is free but can be installed in two devices only. Evernote plus which is £3.99/month or £29.99/year and includes more space and unlimited installation in various devices. Evernote premium which is £4.99/month or £44.99/year and include access to all its features.

Being an openly broke student, of course I use the free plan. Before Evernote limited the number of devices one could install it on, I used to have it on my laptop, tablet and phone. Now, it is installed in my laptop and phone only.

I show a lot of type A personality traits which include compulsive list making for every single thing. To minimise waste, going paperless is obviously the best option for the likes of me. I am going to be honest and admit that I am not completely paper free. I bought two journals and a beautifully designed plain A5 notebook two years ago, which I still have and use. However, it is my mission to reduce paper usage as much as possible. For educational purposes, I am always going to need an A4 notebook or two.

For professional purposes such as work, it would make sense to have the premium plan. It enables one to do many things including annotate pdfs, access and edit microsoft documents, create slideshows, share projects and findings with other users and what not.

As for me or anybody who doesn’t enjoy carrying an extra weight like those bulky planners, Evernote is the way to go. I usually make checklists or type down notes here and there, so the free plan is perfect for me. Checklists can actually help work done, especially for procrastinating type As like me.

During A levels, if I had to see the student services to get a letter of proof or had to see a teacher to discuss a particular question, I would put it off because I used get really tired after class and there was always another day. Ticking off checklists is one of the pleasures of feeling accomplished in the life of type As. Therefore, making a checklist would actually make me go and get those things done because I couldn’t wait to tick it off my list. While I didn’t use it much to make notes in class (we weren’t generally allowed to use laptops in class), I made observational notes during my time volunteering to later make use of these in my personal statement and CV. I plan to make more use of it in University.

Whoever you may be, if you need a quick access to checklists, notes, reminders and much more, I couldn’t recommend Evernote enough. Try it out if it intrigues you, it is afterall free.