Questions and Expectations

“Ooh Paris, is he going to propose??”. A question asked by a woman, around the same age as me, who I’d met a mere half hour previously. I’d been with my boyfriend for four years and I hadn’t really thought about marriage and kids. Yes, it’s something I wanted, but I was a couple of years into my career and only mid-20s.

This was just the start of seven years of questions. It’s intensified somewhat the past year or two. I attribute this to moving abroad together, and because my sister (younger) had a baby last year.

“Now it’s your turn…”

“When are you going to get married?”

“Karen’s made you an Auntie…”

“Have you spoken about it?”

“Give your wee Nephew a cousin…”

Just a few things I’ve heard. Then there are the unspoken prompts. The look of pity, confusion, when you tell say that you’re not married, but you’ve been with your partner for ten years. It’s painful and leaves me in an unfavourable mood.

The pressure of pregnancy is real. Magazines, served ads, questions from friends, relatives, and strangers… It’s without malice but leaves a sour taste. Getting pregnant isn’t an easy thing. It’s not something we’ve tried personally but from knowledge from friends and friends of friends, it’s not a certainty.

Every proposal that’s come round has been a celebratory moment, but I’d be lying if I said that there haven’t been waves of deep pain, jealousy, and frustration. This invariably leads to me giving my Boyfriend the cold shoulder, without him knowing why. We’ve spoken about it and he is of the opinion that we’ve missed our moment and he finds the process very old-fashioned.

As a woman with feminist values, I should take the bull by the horns and do it myself. As someone with anxiety, poor self-esteem and a deep need for external approval, this is something I just can’t bring myself to do.

Then I think… Is this something that I want, or is it something that I think I want because it’s expected?

Do questions make me feel awful? Yes.

Are we happy? Yes.

If anyone reads this and empathises, please know that you’re not alone.

If anyone reads this and ever asks questions like those above… Stop and think before you ask because you never really know what people are going through, or how it will make the individual feel.

 

 

 

Intriguing Iceland

Iceland is one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever visited. The air envelops you with a calming embrace, meanwhile, the scenery induces oohs and ahhs. It’s been over six years since I set foot on the island that caused travel chaos around the world, and I’ve not been able to shake it from my mind since.

Over two trips, I’ve spent a total of eight days visiting, I’ve only seen the South West pocket of the country. However, I’ve waxed lyrical about its beauty and encouraged many friends to visit.

So. What makes Iceland so special? It’s otherworldly. An isolated place, with incredible history, culture and open people. The moon-like, Volcanic terrain and unpredictable geysers stop you in your tracks, visually. The epic landscape has featured in Game of Thrones, and thus increased the country’s popularity amongst tourists.

If you have a limited time, I’d recommend hiring a car. We took the Golden Circle tour with Reykjavik Excursions and while it was really interesting (the tour guide gave us a brief history of Iceland), the freedom to move about more and travel further afield would have been good. Gulfoss, the Geysir field, and the stunning Pingvellir Lake were included in the round trip. We visited the Blue Lagoon (obvs) and it was a relaxing experience if a little pricey. There are many alternatives – less touristy hot springs you can visit – the Blue Lagoon gets a lot of flak, but I liked it.

My friend is a whale fanatic, so we donned full body cozy overalls and ventured out on a whale watching excursion. The whales weren’t playing ball and we only saw them briefly, but it was a pretty special experience. If you’d like to see Reykjavik from the sea, experience some of the coast and drink the best hot chocolate, book yourself on. It’s around 3 hours and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Post whale watching, we had lunch in the harbour. I had fish soup and it was a euphoric experience. Hofnin is a smart restaurant overlooking the small boat harbour, quaintly decorated, serving traditional and fusion dishes. The fish soup was a rich, glossy, brown broth with tender langoustines and shavings of fennel. The bread… Crispy sourdough with smoked salt butter. Six years on and I can still taste the first spoonful.

When we returned a couple of years later, I was saddened to see that the restaurant wasn’t open for lunch, so I ventured round the corner to the Sægreifinn round the corner where I ate another delicious, if less refined, bowl of fish soup. Low and behold, when I left, Hofnin was opening up. That was the day of two lunches and I don’t regret a single moment of it. 

Other things of note in Reykjavik… The church, Hallgrimskirkja is quite imposing on the outside, but warm on the inside. Take a trip up the tower to see a spectacular view of the city. The Opera house (Harpa) is amazing for a wander, even round the atrium.

Top Tips

  • Download the ‘Appy Hour’ app, it shows which bars are hosting happy hour and at what time.
  • You can only buy alcohol (stronger than 2% ABV) from the Government run alcohol store Vinbudin.
  • The Blue Lagoon is near the airport, so tie in a trip when you’re arriving or departing.
  • Bonus supermarkets are cheaper than 7/11 stores.

 

 

It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.

IMG_6710.jpgIn my personal life, 2019 is the year of getting sh*t done. I’ve signed up for my second half marathon, getting my backside into gear (and trying to shift the pizza weight). I’m going to tend to my much-neglected blog, learn how to use a D-SLR properly, actually use the big ol’ box of craft supplies I schlepped over from the UK, and finally, read all of the books I’ve had lying next to my bed for months.

When I was back in the office after Christmas, I had a look through the agency library for some inspiration. I read a lot of blog posts and industry news sites, but I’m pretty poor at reading industry books. I flicked through Paul Arden’s ‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.’ and decided it was a good place to start. I devoured it in one evening. I’ve subsequently gone back to pages to remind myself of the guru-like advice printed on them. Here are some of my favourite parts with my own spin on the advice.

1. Begin thinking and behaving like a winner. It’s easy as a Scot (or British person) to be apologetic about success. Not a culture to generally ‘big ourselves up’ we often shrug off compliments. However, businesses need winners to succeed. I’ve been guilty of thinking about low-level achievement in the past, rather than reaching for the big guns.

2. Do not seek praise. Seek criticism. A contrast to the last point, but as an industry, we generally don’t like being told what’s wrong. Some of the best people in the industry have come from the ranks of the toughest people. In the past, I’ve been guilty of seeking praise versus criticism. However, in my teaching role, we are given constructive criticism and I believe this has improved my skills immensely.

3. Don’t be afraid of silly ideas. Silly ideas provide the perfect antidote to the seriousness of the industry. They can sometimes provide the best solution to the brief too. #Fanny

4. Get out of advertising (adaptable for other industries). Sort of linked to the last point, talk to people not in the industry (you work in) about a brief or project you’re working on for external perspective. Read a book, listen to a podcast or watch a series that’s popular amongst your target audience.

5. Rough layouts. We’re obsessed with the finished product. Something polished and perfect. However, if it’s finished, you can’t provide any input. I’ve taken this advice and applied it to docs, placing what I want to say on each page then go back and polish. The amount of time I’ve spent stuck on one page, rather than focusing on the flow of a presentation, is ridiculous.

So, why is this helpful to 2019 being the year of getting sh*t done, I hear you ask?

  1. No longer worrying about status, concerned that I can’t do it. I can do it. I’m talented, I have experience, energy, and I’m a nice person.
  2. With everything I do in 2019, I’ll be asking for constructive criticism. Both in my personal and professional life.
  3. We’ve all had silly ideas that we’ve shrugged off in the past. Well, no more! Silly ideas will be shared, and we’ll see if there’s scope to turn them into success.
  4. This goes for any industry, not just advertising. I’m applying to both teaching and brand development.
  5. I’ve already vastly cut down the time I spend building presentations (or fretting over projects). The quality hasn’t reduced, only the time spent.

Paul Arden’s book is not new. It was first published over 15 years ago. The man knew what he was talking about and it remains just as relevant now. I encourage you to buy (other good bookshops are available) or borrow a copy and read it.