Coachella – Woodstock on My Mind

 

 

 

 

‘Cause what about all these children
And what about all their parents
And what about about all their crowns they wear
In hair so long like mine
And what about all their wishes
Wrapped up like garland roses
Round their little heads
I said a prayer for a third time

‘Cause what about all these children
And all their children’s children
And why am I even wondering that today
Maybe my contribution
Could be as small as hoping
That words could turn to birds and birds would send my thoughts your way

***

On social media and self esteem

IMG_3707I have had a lot of thoughts lately on the negative effect of social media on our self esteem. Like it or not, things that should not mean much in the grand scheme of things like Facebook and Twitter do have a pivotal effect on the way we think about ourselves. At the end of the day however, all social media is is an unfathomably superficial representation of our place in the world and our relationships with other things and other people that tells but a fraction of the story.

 

Perhaps the worst side-effect of social media is its propensity to undermine our relationships. So today I want to talk about a psychological phenomenon called ‘Projective Identification’, its negative effects, and the potential of social media to exacerbate it.

 

Projective identification is a mechanism that both makes and ruins friendships and relationships. The best way to illustrate what this it is is to give an example.

 

Say Person A smiles at person B across a room. They may have mutual friends; each know who there other is, and there is a mutual desire to get to know each other better. Later that day, Person A likes, say, Person B’s Instagram photo; Person B is happy, and this interaction confirms to both their desire to grow more acquainted with each other.

 

On the flipside, say Person B has begun to feel unsure of Person A’s feelings towards them. Perhaps she hasn’t texted him in a while, or didn’t ‘like’ his most recent profile picture. This hurts Person B, and he project the hurt he feels onto Person A; he feels pain, is it not natural to assume that she wants him to feel it, that she feels as ambivalent towards him as he feels towards her?

 

Ambivalence, exacerbated perhaps by personal insecurity x or y, can then turn to mistrust, and eventually to outright dislike. As you can imagine, this cooling of relations is part of that human instinct of self-preservation. Nobody wants to feel pain; romanticising sadness and anger will always get us into trouble. But it breaks friendships, and it breaks relationships. It is worsened by the level of interconnectivity we have today; every new Instagram post you make constitutes an opportunity for one of your friends not to ‘like’ your public activity.

 

And it works both ways. Sometimes, the last thing we want to see is the highlight reel of other people’s lives. Social media allows people to be selective about the side of themselves they wish to present, and it’s all too easy to be bitter about the achievements of people you kind of know.

 

I consider deleting Facebook perhaps twice a day. There is simply too much anxiety in the act of putting yourself out there in front of your friends, your distant family, and everyone you ever met at a party.

 

But like any anxiety, this can be fought by not dwelling too much on the symbolism behind it, and choosing not to doubt your friends. Confidence is a choice. I dare you to try spending a day without social media. Or at least Facebook. Instagram and tumblr are marginally better for the soul. SMS still works, believe it or not. Use it. Throw your iPhone into the Cam, even. Sometimes I think the thing I’m most nostalgic about is playing Snake on my mum’s Nokia.

old domain

A link to my previous domain is here. Perhaps the most important piece is the introduction, which contains some thoughts on the links between sexuality and creativity. The one that I am the most proud of however is also the first one I wrote and the one that was the hardest to write; you can find that here.

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Huntingdon Road, Winter 2015

Why Cambridge third year is bad for the soul

Hello friends,

Apologies for my recent silence! Exam term has gotten real. I start on the 28th May and time is beginning to run past me rather than crawl past me. In the meantime Varsity (Cambridge’s student newspaper) published an article I wrote entitled ‘why Cambridge third year is bad for the soul’ last week which you can read here. It’s about how existential anxiety can cause your creativity to shut down in times of extreme stress, e.g. during your finals. I wrote it in April so it’s strange to have it belatedly out in the world, but I hope you enjoy. The photos are both my own.

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Grantchester Meadows, June 2016

How to look after yourself in exam term

IMG_3849Gladstone Park, London, Spring 2017

Hello, my dearest (and potentially imaginary) readers. I have compiled a list of tips to help you hack your way through a tricky time. I have often wished someone had sat me down in my first exam term and told me to be gentle with myself, and not to work an unhealthy amount. The bottom line with academic work is that everybody is different, and you’ve just got to find a rhythm that works for you. Nonetheless I hope you find something in here that is worthwhile. Nothing is more important than your mental and physical health.

  • Listen to angry music. Music increases testosterone in women, and decreases it in men. I don’t care what it is, just turn it on, please (with the exception of anything with misogynistic lyrics; that shit is BAD for the soul). I’d however recommend Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, by My Chemical Romance. Listen to what makes you feel empowered and in control. You have got this.
  • Have a bath. PLEASE. Get out the bubble bath, the ducks, the half eaten Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the floating ship if you feel compelled to uphold your masculinity (gratuitous tip: let it go) the white wine, even another human being. Just get in the bath. It’s so hard to feel stressed when your body is submerged in warm water.
  • Play sport. You do not have to be good. Fall over. Injure yourself and your tennis partner. They’ll heal fine and the bruises will give you a cool story, bro.
  • GO OUTSIDE. Whoever told you you can’t revise in the sun was lying. Sun is good for the skin. Also, we’re not in Troy anymore – everyone looks good with a tan.
  • Have breakfast. I don’t care what it is, cereal, a lone banana, eggs on toast spread with a subtle combination of mashed avocado and lime and a sliver of prosciutto, WHATEVER, Aldi is ten minutes out of town. COOK.
  • Cuddle your friends, yourself, your secret dog that college doesn’t know about. Touching your own chest with a tender palm releases the same comforting hormones as it would if someone else was doing it.
  • Lie on the grass for ten minutes on your college lawn. Cambridge is beautiful. Look at it.
  • Doodle endlessly, without psychoanalysing your doodles. It’s good for you.
  • Go to bed early and don’t work past 6pm when you can. There’s no need. Your body needs rest.
  • Get the hell out of your college library. Cambridge offers itself up to you. If you think you need complete silence to work in, try another library. AMES is great and always empty because so few people study AMES!!!! Once I had to move because a lady came to water the plant I was sitting in front of. Yes AMES! Nature over academia any day.
  • Wear unnecessarily sexy clothes to do menial tasks. Who says you can’t look like a princess just because all you’re doing is picking up some flour from Sainsbury’s? You’re gorgeous. Own it.
  • Listen to songs you’re embarrassed you used to love. I’ve just rediscovered Unfaithful by Rihanna and it is the. bomb. You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift is something you should play exuding an almost offensively fearless and apologetic air as you stride, swaying slightly, down King’s Parade. Same goes for MCR, Paramore, Green Day, Avril Lavigne. Crack out those classics when you need a lift; you used to love these songs for a reason.
  • Keep a diary. Not a work diary, obv. Just something where you can catch your future self up with how your day’s been whenever you feel like it.
  • Above all. Listen to your body. If it’s crying out for rest, get into the bath or into bed. If it wants to go outside take it for a wander. A 20 minute walk can work wonders. As can a 5 minute cycle. Feel the sun on your face. Try not to walk into any lampposts or other moving humans.
  • Be kind. Remember everyone else is worried about work too. Open a door for someone, smile at someone you suspect hates you. Look after your friends, and remember to call your mum. You got this.

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Guilin, China, Summer 2017

Image credit: Hannah Chukwu