What’s in a name?

Names are a bit weird, aren’t they? They make up such a huge part of our identity, yet, in most cases, we get pretty much no say in the matter. Our names are sometimes picked out for us before we’re even born – before we’re even conceived, in some cases – and it seems to be pretty much pot luck as to whether or not your name fits your personality.

In spite of this, in spite of the fact there’s absolutely no way of knowing how someone will turn out as an adult, people are hugely resistant to the smallest of changes to one’s own name – even down to the nickname. I still remember the expression of absolute disbelief and defiance on my grandfather’s face, as he said, with the most over-exaggerated shock in his voice, when I, a mature, grown up twelve-year-old, decided I wanted to be ‘Liz’ instead of ‘Lizzie’: “no… Lizzie!”. And, to this day, he’ll write Liz in cards, but will always call me Lizzie to my face.

As most people who follow me on social media are probably aware of by now, I’ve recently decided that I’m no longer going by ‘Liz’ or ‘Lizzy’, and am instead going by ‘Zara’. The reason being, if one needs to be given, is that I’ve never felt those names suited me. I’ve been known as ‘Lizzie’ since birth, and only changed it to ‘Liz’ when I decided the former was too childish. I’ve never liked ‘Liz’ that much, either, but I was twelve when I made that decision. ‘Zara’ is such a beautiful name (and can come from Elizabeth – ‘EliZAbeth’, ‘ZAra’), and I really feel that it’s a name that suits me. People have already used it to address me, and it fits.

My friends, and most of my family, have been kind, but I do worry about the response. Apparently, despite it being my name, my deciding that I’d like to be known as something else can be seen as an inconvenience. I know my aforementioned grandparents will be calling me ‘Lizzie’ until the day one of us dies – not because they can’t remember what I’d like to be called, but because they choose not to. A visit to them reminds me that I only have so much power over my own identity. (My nan, on my mum’s side, I will cut some slack; she’s terminally ill and has other things on her mind, like making sure she has enough oxygen.)

With that in mind, I’d like to ask you all, no matter what the reason may be, to respect your friends and family when they decide to change their name or nickname. Their name is theirs, and not yours to dictate. A name is so important and it should fit its bearer. Why else do you think novelists spend so much time picking names for their characters?

As for all of you who’ve been wanting to try out a new name, do it. Just do it. People who matter will accept it. Occasional forgetfulness, especially in the early stages, is okay. “I’m going to keep calling you (x), because I’ve always known you as (x)”, is lazy, dismissive, and downright disrespectful.

Blog Hiatus Outfits (April/May)

Hello! Me again!

I’ve noticed that the posts which get most attention are my outfit ones – which I think is wonderful, because, if you didn’t already know, my clothes are hugely important to me in terms of who I am. While I didn’t get to wear many fun things over the past five weeks, when I did go out and do things, I made it count! So, here’s a collection of everything exciting I wore during the placement weeks.

Only ten, just goes to show how rarely I got to do things… the last couple aren’t even from placement weeks, they’re from the weekend!

I’m off out tonight, thankfully – my favourite Brighton night out is on a Tuesday, and I’ve had to miss it due to my 6am wake up for an 8am start… it’s good to be back, Brighton. Weird, though, that it’s midday Tuesday and I have time to sit home and write a blog post again. I cleaned the entire kitchen and bathroom yesterday, and made cakes. Will tackle the bedroom tomorrow, hopefully. It sounds boring, but it’s so nice having time to do things like that again, without worrying if I should be doing something, or thinking that I’m wasting my evenings. I’ve got so much planned, this summer – from the little things, like keeping up my skincare routine (I’ve been a bit lazy and it shows, my skin is even more vile than usual), to the bigger, such as my holidays. I’ve not felt this lovely in a while.

I’m also hoping to start reading, and maybe even writing again? We’ll see, though – I’m lacking inspiration to actually do anything, at the moment…

I’m off to grab a cider, I think, and I’m off to a flow arts jam later. Have a good one!

Year 1 is over, finally

It’s been over a month since I last posted on this blog, and honestly, that’s because I’ve been at uni on the block placement part of my course. It was… hard. Physically and emotionally, it was hugely difficult. I nearly failed, actually, but managed to pull it back in the last week – I’m once again doubting whether or not I want to continue with the course, but given I’ve already used up my ‘second chance’, I’m going to have to see it through.

But that’s a post for another day, perhaps.

On a lighter, brighter, sunshiney-er note, I  have the whole summer ahead of me to relax, have fun, and honestly, feel like myself again! I have a couple of trips lined up – 2000 Trees festival in July is one I’m looking forward to immensely, as I get to be reunited with my lovely friends from college. We’ve all spread out a bit, now, so getting everyone together is going to be amazing. I also have a trip to St Ives planned in August – one of my favourite places in the world – and one to Liverpool in September for my 21st birthday.

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 14.51.58Other than that, I plan on getting in lots of hula hooping and spending time outside. I really, really hope I get some people to hang out with this summer. The flow arts jam that runs on Tuesdays looks like a good place – I’ve already met some lovely people at the last ones.

It still doesn’t feel real that I suddenly have so much free time – but I’m so glad that I do, I really need the break. I love being able to wear the clothes that I want to wear, rather than my ‘teacher’ ones! Bracelets are back on my arms, my makeup is flashy again, and I have so much more freedom over ‘appropriate’ clothes to wear. I also got a new tattoo a couple of weeks ago – I’d show, but I don’t have any photos.

Oh – and I dyed my hair green!Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 14.54.54

I’m so glad I can write and post again. I hope everyone has a lovely summer!

Selfie to Self Expression: my trip to the Saatchi Gallery

Last Monday, after a last-minute invitation, I journeyed up to London to spend the day with my mum. London is a good meeting point for us, as it’s about an hour on the train for both of us – and there’s always so much to do!

That being said, we weren’t entirely sure what, exactly, we were going to do that day, only that we were going to have lunch. It was only as I was waiting at Brighton station that she messaged me a link to an article about the current exhibition at the Saatchi gallery – an exhibition based on selfies and self-portraits, ‘Selfie to Self Expression’. She and I share a love for art in all its forms (mostly!), and it seemed right up our street, so after a quick lunch at Côte Brasserie, we headed to the gallery.

My only regret is that I didn’t get too many photos…

The first two rooms were filled with digital picture frames, and beside them were smartphones, displaying an ‘Instagram’ page where you could ‘like’ the portraits on the big screens. Among the self-portraits featured were van Gogh, Kahlo, Velazquez and Rembrandt. I should add that the atmosphere in this exhibition was very relaxed – non-flash photography was allowed, and everyone seemed immersed in the art, and taking their own selfies. There are so many exhibitions which are quite uptight – all security and hushed voices, but this one was nothing like that at all.

The next rooms, I can’t remember the order specifically, but they worked with moving image and manipulated photographs. It was bizarre, but very enjoyable! People were happy to wait their turn to ‘play’ with the art, it was lovely.

Other artists featured in the exhibition were Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol. I unfortunately can’t recall the name of Emin’s photo collection of her body, but I adored it.

There was a room which contained a mosaic of what looked like youtube videos, projected onto the surrounding walls, and another, featuring portraits of celebrity selfies – or celebrities in the process of taking selfies!

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Perhaps the highlight of the exhibition, though, was a room containing interactive and optical illusionist art. Everybody loved the ones which made it look as though your eyes were glowing! Unfortunately, I’ve not got a decent video (and I don’t know how to upload those onto WordPress anyway), but rest assured that it was brilliant. From what I can recall, that room also contained the works of some international competition winners – notably, was a photograph taken by a Belgian woman, a selfie taken in a compact mirror.

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Additionally, although not part of the main exhibition, one of the rooms displayed works by upcoming new artists. There were a range of styles, and it’s well worth a look if you happen to be in the gallery. We went on Easter Monday, so it wasn’t too busy (although it was getting to be, just as we left). I imagine that if you were to go at the weekend, it would be a completely different story. The exhibition finishes on May 30th, 2017, and if it wasn’t already obvious, I’d highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in London.

Oh, and it was all free!

I’m going to be at university every day from Monday onwards, and I’m not looking forward to it too much. I made sure that I made the most of the time I had off. I’m very much looking forward to the summer already…

I hope you all had a good break!

March Outfits

Sorry this one’s late again… I really need to start getting these ready for the end of the month…

I cheated slightly with this one – the last 6 are from earlier this month, the reason being that in a couple of weeks I’ll be on full placement for my course. This means that I’ll be leaving the house at 7:30am at the latest, and I can’t see myself being photographed… it’s not happened so far, anyway.

And, who wants to see the same variations on my ‘teacher’ outfits day in, day out?

It’s started to get a lot warmer recently, so most of the time, certainly in late March onwards, was spent outside. Other than that, I’ve not really been doing that much? I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London in the beginning of March – despite being ridiculous in places, I really enjoyed it. Aaaaaand… I went to Bristol last week for my friend’s 21st. That was good. Other than that, just the normal stuff.

 

Full placement should be good, but I’m not exactly looking forward to having 5 days of my week consumed by it… I never actually planned on going into teaching full-time when I graduate, anyway. We shall see.

There won’t be an outfits blog for April (officially) or May, because of that. I need something to write about in the meantime. I was originally planning to write about my time in Bristol, but I didn’t really do much except see various people, which probably isn’t that fun to read about… I can’t really say much about seeing Temples, either – I saw Temples, by the way! They were fab!

Hmm… I’ll have a think.

Until then, have a wonderful week (or however long it is until I next post something)!

Why I fell in love with the hippie lifestyle

Why am I a hippie?

Sometimes, I look back on the past four or so years, and wonder, out of all the aesthetics and lifestyles I experimented with, why was this the one that spoke to me the most? What separated this one from all the others? Why this, and not goth, or nerd, or art student?

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As a child, I never really fitted in, but in primary school, that doesn’t seem to matter. In primary school, or at least, when I was in primary school, kids enjoyed one another’s interests, no matter how strange, and celebrated them, in a sense. In secondary school, though, things were different. Not fitting in was a social death sentence. I had no idea about the ‘in’ clothes or music, and I was painfully, toe-curlingly shy. Not an ideal personality for that environment. So, for a while, I did my absolute best to fit in – I wore the same thing as everyone else, I tried to hide the things I enjoyed. Of course, it didn’t work, and I never magically became popular overnight.

At sixteen, I finally dyed my hair for the first time, I developed a personal style and stopped caring what people thought of it. The dark hair and the questionable anime t-shirts are long gone, but it was at that time that I discovered Pink Floyd – and I fell in love with classic rock on the whole soon after.

I joined Tumblr, and became a fairly recognised member of the ‘Classic Rock Fandom’, as we called it, by the time I was 17. I started learning about the 60s, and fashion, and the politics of the time. I made friends with some people who were hugely into vintage fashion and jewellery – two girls, who I sadly have all but lost contact with – and they very much influenced my fashion and makeup. I still own and regularly wear all the things they inspired me to buy.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 22.38.38

In the summer of 2014, I spent much of my time listening to classic rock (the albums I listened to the most are, I think, largely listed on this post), and watching movies set in, or made during, the 60s and 70s – think the Boat that RockedQuadrophenia, and A Hard Day’s Night. One in particular, which is still one of my favourite films, was Across the Universe, and it was really the one which introduced me to the ‘reality’ of the 60s, so to speak (I know, I know, it’s not exactly a proper representation). I studied the Vietnam War protests, and the flower children, and I joined CND – overall, I guess I started to see what it really stood for – why it all began.

That was the turning point, really. It was when I adapted the ‘hippie mindset’, so to speak. And, for me, seeing myself as a hippie, someone who loves the 60s aesthetic, gave me a sense of identity. It was something I was that other people weren’t. Now I’m out of a secondary school environment, I love standing out, and I love being true to the things I like.

I soon began to meet and encounter people who shared my interests – I now follow a range of people on social media who regularly inspire me with their clothes and their adventures. I discovered that I absolutely adore wearing colourful clothes, and clashing patterns, and lots and lots of accessories. Before I really discovered this style, I’d wear fairly dark clothes – as in, I wore blScreen Shot 2017-04-06 at 22.39.01ack every day, pretty much. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s your thing, but I found that I was so much happier wearing lots of jingly bright things! I really don’t know why, but I always feel more confident when I’m wearing something colourful, or patterned, or just a bit different.

Furthermore, I’ve always had an interest in crystals, and that side of it. I’ve been collecting crystals since I was probably about ten, and I’d been interested in learning tarot for about six years before I actually bought myself a set. With hula hooping as well, I found that the hippie community was one which was welcoming, and full of love, and appreciated differences. I never got on with a lot of people at school, but I made friends quickly and easily when I became involved in the flow arts circle in particular. The hippie ideals allowed me to explore my interests, too – especially those which my mum deemed ‘nonsense’ (fair enough, but she refused to allow me to learn tarot because she thought it was a waste of time). And, surprisingly, I found that a lot of other people were actually impressed with the things that I’d learned to do. Finding myself this sense of identity allowed me to explore things I’d previously looked upon with admiration, and have a chance to take them up for myself.

Viewing myself as a hippie, and surrounding myself with the things influenced by this interest, has given me a sense of self which I’m so much more confident with. When I think about why it resonated with me, it makes so much sense. It gave me a chance to be myself, to meet new people, and to love the things I love. I finally found the person I wanted to be throughout my teens. I learned compassion, I became aware, and I discovered that the world has so much beauty if you look in the right places. I didn’t have to look a certain way to feel accepted, I didn’t have to keep my interests a secret. I could be the real me.

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And, to think, it all started when I listened to Pink Floyd’s Pulse one windy morning on the Welsh coast…

Twenty

photo credit to my lovely friend, Ruby

Twenty is strange. It’s not quite an adult, but definitely not a teenager. One thing’s for sure: your life is starting to take shape, in one way or another. Obviously, nothing is fixed, but you’re probably either in a job, training, or higher education.

I’m the latter, and a dropout, too – or, at least, I was, since I’m now back in university, having discovered that I still don’t know what I want to do, but I know that I definitely don’t want to study Politics… or, at least, that I hate writing essays. While I’m glad that I’m now studying something I know I’ll enjoy doing, it does worry me that I’m being pigeon-holed somewhat; I’m only twenty, I hate the idea that I’m confined to just one thing, and, more so, that I’m seen as just that thing.

On the other hand, I’m sure there are people who are thrilled that they have everything figured out.

One day, I will absolutely go into my chosen career, but it won’t be the year after I graduate. There’s still so much I want to do – I want to see the world, I want to learn and perform fire hoop, I want to go to as many gigs and festivals as I possibly can, first.

I often look at friends who are travelling, or doing things that aren’t revolving around uni, and it makes me wonder, sometimes – did I make the right decision? Am I really doing what I want to do, or have I accidentally messed up my plans?

Obviously, no, because I’m so young, really, but especially with restarting university, I feel like I’ve ‘lost’ a year to do everything. Twenty, as a child, and even a sixth form student, seemed a whole world away, and now I’ve reached that age… just, wow. Where’s all the time gone?

Equally, I know there are a lot of things I have done. I’ve seen art exhibitions, plays, ballets, musicals, all sorts of things. I’ve written over 50,000 words in 11 days. I’m a trained classical singer, I can chest hoop, I’ve been to New York. This summer, I hope to see more of the UK, and I hope to do it with the one I love the most. I will, after graduation, spend a year travelling the world, seeing all the things I want to see.

One day, I will write a novel, maybe publish it. I’ll write a dissertation, I’ll perform at a festival.

After all, I’m only twenty.