Sunday, 5 May 2019

Britannia Rules the (Radio) Waves!

During a recent trip, I visited the British Music Experience, a super cool museum which offers an interactive timeline of Britain's most famous musicians across a plethora of different genres. The museum walks visitors through different decades from the 1940s to present day, telling the story of how these genres started, grew or developed in Great Britain. 

The BME has a number of interactive exhibits such as video/headphone set-ups where you can watch interviews from experts and musicians, detailed timelines of each era where you can watch videos and read about events that took place, both musical and otherwise and even booths in which you can learn how to play a range of instruments with the help of experts and tutorials. Each time-zone has informative plaques surrounded by an array of nostalgic memorabilia such as costumes from artists, records, instruments, newspapers, letters, awards, stage props and even front doors from their houses! There are also regular shows in the centre of the museum and really cool clips played out across several screens of memorable concerts, gigs and performances from over the years. 

The museum is a must visit for any music and popular culture fans and since its move from London, it is now housed in the beautiful Cunard building in Liverpool - one of Britain's most famous music hotspots. I've always been a massive fan of music and have waivered in tastes as I've grown but my visit definitely made me appreciate and acknowledge the massive impact Britain's musicians have had and made me damn proud to hail from the same country as some of these talents. 
Inspired by my visit, I've compiled my top 10 list of British musicians that have had an influence and impact on me over the years. 

Disclaimer: I appreciate these won't all be to everyone's tastes and I'm by no means a musical expert, these are simply the British musicians that I consider to be a massive influence on me. There's a deluge of other talented and successful British musicians who could just as easily be a part of a list like this and the British Music Experience celebrates them all.

10: Biffy Clyro
Possibly not as well known as some of the other musicians in this list but Biffy are a rock band hailing from Scotland who have been on the circuit since the late 90s, achieving wider success and popularity more recently. I've been a fan of Biffy Clyro since around 2007/8 and have been lucky enough to see them live a number of times over the years. I've had several phases where Biffy have been the only thing I'd listen to on a loop and I always find myself coming back to them. Their live shows are incredible and they are easily in the top 5 live bands I've seen. They work extremely hard, perform their absolute socks off and are in my opinion, one of THE best British modern rock bands out there. 

9: Black Sabbath
There aren't many things most people would thank an ex for, but getting me into these is one thing I definitely do have gratitude to one of mine for. Black Sabbath, the dark, gritty, Birmingham born band who became worldwide trailblazers of heavy metal. Although around since the late 60s and inspiring a large majority of rock bands across the years, I first got into Sabbath in around 2011 when I saw a comeback gig at Download Festival. At the time, I'd only heard their most well known songs like Paranoid and Iron Man and whilst I went to the festival somewhat indifferent to their music, after seeing them, I left their new biggest fan and went on to fill my Spotify with their songs, buy their records and even purchase tickets to see them again in their own headline show. 

8: David Bowie
A British icon in his own right. David was a revolution of expression and someone who taught us to own our identity. His experimentation knew no bounds and so he pushed the boundaries of musical genre, pushed the boundaries of masculinity and femininity, pushed the boundaries with his style and exhibited a level of creativity so considerable that it has impacted popular culture in the most tremendous way. Generations of artists and audiences have been influenced by him, whether it's through Ziggy Stardust or the Goblin King and because of that, his stamp is permanent.

7: Amy Winehouse
An incredible talent inside a unique, straight-talking London girl who gave us so many brilliant songs before her demons took her away from the world in the most premature and devastating manner. Someone who has undoubtedly inspired a number of more recent females across the industry and someone whose modern ballads will continue to ring out for years to come. Back to Black was one of the first records I decided to purchase when I got my record player and is one of my favourites for a chilled evening, gin in hand, finding contentment in her truly stunning voice.

Black Sabbath, Bowie & Amy Winehouse featured at the British Music Experience
6: Arctic Monkeys
Northern, Yorkshire born and bred, of course these would be in my top 10. Like Biffy Clyro, in my opinion one of the best modern rock bands to come from our Isles. Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not was one of the first albums I uploaded to one of those rubbish MP3 players from Argos back in the day after acquiring their CD from my dad. Since then, I've followed them album by album and seen them experiment and develop through a number of phases. I've also been fortunate to see AM live a number of times throughout these years and some of their tracks are now without a doubt up there with my all time faves.

5: Oasis
A band I grew up with. Whether it was a Sunday road-trip or afternoons washing the car with dad, these were always on in the background as I grew up in the mid to late 90s. At the height of Britpop, I was only 6/7 years old so not nearly old enough to experience it to its fullest extent but the fact that I knew the words to most of the songs on (What's the Story) Morning Glory? before I'd even learnt my times tables is something I definitely should earn cool points for. One of the musical poster heads for Cool Britannia, more swag than people in green parkas should have and the reason that most of us up North now can't say the word 'shine' without an over-exaggerated and elongated 'i'. 

Oasis & Arctic Monkeys featured at the British Music Experience

4: The Beatles
A favourite of my gran's but a band I've only truly appreciated as I've grown up. The Beatles are one of those bands where even if you don't necessarily consider yourself a fan, when you think of how many of their songs you actually know and love, you realise you absolutely are. The four lads who shook the world and probably one of the earliest bands to unleash the pandemonium that we now come to know as fangirling. If I could go back to any decade, I've always said it would be the 60s or 70s or the cross-over between the two just to experience that excitement and buzz around the music and fashion scene at the time. The Beatles were at the very heart of all that and have given us an array of classic songs that we all know the words to. Having recently visited Liverpool, its great to see how proud the city is of all their musical sons and daughters but The Beatles in particular. Now I totally get why gran loves them so much.

3: Queen
Like The Beatles, Queen are a band that have their die hard fans but due to their massive catalogue of hits, so many of us can consider ourselves Queen fans on some level or another. They have given us so many hits and we all have a favourite. (Killer Queen, if anyone wondered!) Freddie is considered one of the greatest front-men of all time by many and like Bowie was iconic in his creative expression and performing persona. These guys were incredibly talented and from footage and fan  accounts from those lucky enough to experience them at the time, they seemed to give their absolute all with every performance and continue to do so even without their original line-up. I would urge anyone to go and see Bohemian Rhapsody, the recent biopic about the band and their rise. Its a brilliant film and will make you appreciate this band even more than before.

Spice Girls & Queen featured at the British Music Experience
2: Spice Girls
I'm a female and was born in 1991, therefore there was probably a sneaking suspicion that these would feature. Like a lot of girls who grew up in the 90s, I was of course ridiculously obsessed with the Spice Girls. I had their albums, the film on VHS, the merchandise, books, annuals, used to collect absurd amounts of bits of rubbish like ring-pulls and crisp packets just to get exclusive info or merch and I really really really wanted to be the sixth member. They seemed friendly but feisty and for that reason, young girls all over the world latched on to them. Whether it was because you could relate to one of their personas or strived to be more like one of their personas, all of their fans had their favourites and I dare say that all of their fans, certainly around my age spent ages arguing about which one they wanted to be during playtimes. Not ashamed to say that I'll be making a 7 year old me's dream come true next month when I go see 4 of them performing live - something I never thought I'd be able to do!

1: The Smiths
The band I always used to whine about as a kid when my dad would play them over and over again and all I really wanted on was the Spice Girls or Oasis. That was until I grew up, went off to university and started to make sense of the world. Then and only then, did The Smiths start to make sense too. As a 19/20 year old embarking on an independent life, the lyrics penned by Morrissey & Marr started to not only ring true but it then dawned on me just how genius some of them actually were and I began to understand the appreciation my dad and auntie always had for them. As I started to grow into the cynical, sarcastic ball of pessimism and irony I am today, their songs became my soundtracks. The Smiths' songs are very much in keeping with my mindset and way of life, a sort of 'let's mock ourselves before anyone else does' mantra. The Smiths did this, but with society, relationships, politics and culture. I love their vibe, the working class gritty heart somehow tinged with knowing snobbery and all of their referential nods at popular culture, film, TV, at life up North and in Britain and what was going on there at the time. When you listen to The Smiths, it feels like you're up above looking down or in the corner of a coffee shop just watching people go about their business narrated with a very dry, very British internal monologue.

The Smiths featured at the British Music Experience
Cover photo taken from my personal record collection and all others from displays at the British Music Experience. 
 I'd strongly recommend!

Check out some of my favourite tracks from the above artists in the player below:

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Solo Travelling - Living My Best Life in Liverpool

Continuing the Solo Travelling series, this week I spent two days in another fab British city, the Merseyside capital of Liverpool. As a novice solo traveller, I decided it would be best to explore some of the UK's cities before venturing anywhere further afield and Liverpool is somewhere I've wanted to visit for quite some time. I've been to Liverpool twice before, once as a child on a shopping trip which meant I couldn't fully appreciate it or really remember it and once simply to get to the Isle of Man ferry terminal, again not really allowing me to explore.

This time, I went as a proper tourist and did all the typical touristy jaunts. This city is a favourite of my grandparents who visit regularly and after my short stay, I can totally understand why. Liverpool is a city drenched in fascinating history and one with popular culture just running through its veins. This is what appealed to me, as a media and music buff, it seemed it would be right up my street and it proved me absolutely right. 

I decided to spend only two days in Liverpool as its obviously much smaller than my first solo travelling location, London. But I still managed to cram in so many cool experiences whilst there. On the first day, I ventured into the centre where the shops and Liverpool One (the city's famed leisure and shopping complex) are situated. I hadn't planned to spend any time shopping during my stay (despite my inherent shopaholic status, of course) as I knew I had a number of things I wanted to see, but as I needed to pass through here to get to my digs, I decided to have a little peek. 40 minutes later and £70 down, I came to the conclusion that Liverpool is great for shopping. Although this is something you can do anywhere, the high street stores were huge, they have a Forever 21 unlike a lot of places and spending a few hours meandering around Liverpool One in the sun, was really quite lovely. This will definitely be a choice destination for future shopping sprees.

The wonderful sights of Mathew Street

After dropping my luggage and freshening up, I decided to have a walk down to the Cavern Quarter to check out the pop culture bits and bobs down there. I passed through a number of streets booming with restaurants, bars, nightclubs and instantly thought this is somewhere I also need to come with a bunch of friends for a drink or two in the near future. When I arrived at Mathew Street, known as 'the home of The Beatles', I could not believe the amount of cool little nooks and crannies there could be on one little street. From the John Lennon and Cilla Black statues and the Liverpool Wall of Fame to the Cavern Club and Pub and all of the vibrant shops, bars and restaurants in between. You feel instantly happy just walking down here and it makes you feel like you're right there in the middle of the hustle and bustle back in the day amongst the Teddy Boys and Girls.

The super colourful 'T' monument outside the Tate, Museum of Liverpool and Albert Docks in the sun

I then ventured over to Pier Head for a bit more sightseeing and again, was not disappointed. The 'three graces' are the magnificent buildings dominating the docks, more formally known as the Royal Liver building, the Cunard building and the Port of Liverpool building and these alone are breath-taking and so very rich in history. The Beatles statue welcomes you to the fronts and it's great to see so many people snapping their selfies with the bronze lads, recreating just the tiniest bit of Beatlemania. The docks are lined with museums such as The Museum of Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, The Beatles Story and many more. I didn't get to browse these but some are on my itinerary for next time. The walk up to Albert Dock and back down again was so refreshing, looking out to the Mersey with headphones in, shades on and ice-cream in hand; absolute bliss. This lovely afternoon was topped off with a visit to an amazing pizzeria named Rudy's which was fittingly right next door to my hotel and so the day was nicely concluded with a gorgeous pizza and sneaky little gin cocktail.

The Royal Liver Building, Beatles statue and The Port of Liverpool building all on Pier Head

Day two entailed breakfast at Moose, an American style Northern café chain that has branches in Liverpool and Manchester. They offer the nicest waffles, pancakes and other less sugary breakfast options but I opted for the former and a gigantic cup of cappuccino. A lovely spot for breakfast or brunch in the city and its décor and vibe made me feel like I was in Frasier. This place was recommended by a friend who is no stranger to Liverpool and a friend who I met up with later that morning. Upon meeting we spent a couple of hours in the British Music Experience, a fab museum detailing a timeline of Britain's best loved and talented musicians and the eras they defined. An excellent place and quite possibly the focus of an upcoming post so stay tuned for that! 

After the museum, we headed back down to the Cavern Quarter to spend a couple of hours in the Cavern Club, something I wanted to do more socially. It was around 1:30pm on a Tuesday and the Cavern had free admission all afternoon, which was great. We headed in, deep down the numerous spiral steps and headed straight to the bar, which I found hilarious given that most headed in and went straight to the exhibits or stage! However, with a beer in hand, we wandered slowly round the Cavern, looking at all it had to offer and were totally awestruck. Known globally as the old stomping ground to The Beatles and a hub of live music in Liverpool for decades, The Cavern was hands down the most down to earth, casual and inviting pub I've ever been in. Everyone was so friendly, live music played throughout the day and the walls were just adorned with the most fascinating and nostalgic memorabilia. If it hadn't been for the small matter of a train to catch, I could've happily stayed there into the night. And that was indeed the most perfect ending to this trip. 

An afternoon in the Cavern Club, my new favourite watering hole!

Liverpool far exceeded my expectations and is a city beautifully formed through its deep historical heritage into a vivid place rich with musical nostalgia and enriched by culture of many different forms. Its a must visit and somewhere I will now definitely be a regular day tripper to. A real Northern gem!

Saturday, 16 March 2019

How 90s TV Characters Subconsciously Shaped My Wardrobe

Growing up, we experiment with our identity and appearance constantly, channelling a range of subcultures and buying into every fad and trend that crosses our path until we eventually find what suits us best. When I think about the photographs I've seen from my childhood, there are clearly phases and I've tried it all. Tomboy, glam, emo, chav, you name it, the subcultures came and went and whatever era you grew up in, the same would've applied. With each passing craze, you take the bits that you like and start to build your own style and own look.

At 27, I'd like to think that where I am now is a true reflection of what I like and what suits me. And reflecting on the earliest of the childhood photos, it seems I'm kind of back right where I started. Toddler Terri would always don pinafores, plaid checks, big t-shirts, frilly socks and dungarees and I'm not ashamed to say that twenty-something Terri absolutely still does all of the above. But as a regular Urban Outfitters buyer, I find myself looking for nostalgic, vintage vibes in all that I buy and recently, whilst watching TV re-runs, it became apparent just who might've been responsible for subconsciously embedding the styles I love into my current wardrobe.

I mean, one of these ladies had THE most wanted hairstyle of the 90s so it's completely understandable that these three would influence a generation. Despite being only 3 years old when Friends first hit screens, I tapped into as I grew up and like most people, still find myself watching the re-runs now. The only difference being, style savvy, adult me has a new found appreciation for the outfits that Rachel, Monica and Phoebe rocked in the earliest seasons. Every time seasons 1 - 3 are on TV, I am desperately longing to have the pinafores, the crops, the sweaters, the patterned maxis and tea dresses, the jewellery and the layering techniques that these three had.

The queen of the clashing print. Clarissa Darling, played by Melissa Joan Hart in Clarissa Explains It All was easily one of the coolest females to grace my screen growing up. I loved her bedroom, her sarcasm in each little monologue, I totally fancied her next door neighbour and wanted her hair and wardrobe all for myself. Her outfits were so outrageously 90s with big bold colours and patterns but in grungey, slouchy fits and my goodness, she loved a scrunchie. Whilst both Clarissa and Melissa's later role, Sabrina, were my youth idols, Clarissa Darling definitely had the upper hand in the style stakes.

The dry, witty, often shy Brit who kept the 3 Crane men in tow on a daily basis. Daphne Moon of Frasier fame was relatable in more ways than one but her style was made up of the prettiest patterned dresses, statement skirts teamed with cardigans and slouchy blouses all in the most graceful, flattering fits. Her layered hair, often in an up-do with effortless fringe was very much of the decade, as were her accessories.

And let's not forget the fact that quite a lot of my viewing during the 90s was in fact animated and the cartoons of the decade certainly were not without their quirky bad-ass females. Spinelli (Recess), Daria, Jane (Daria) and Debbie (The Wild Thornberries) were three that I loved and three that I think are probably now responsible for my subconscious love of boots, over-sized shirts & jackets, plaid and baggy/ripped jeans. Probably also responsible for my sarcastic, pessimistic and slightly passive aggressive nature but this was the decade of irony and girl power so I'm owning it!

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Solo Travelling - London Called

For some reason, in our judgemental society, there are certain experiences that are often considered odd or some sort of social suicide if you dare to do them alone. Going to the cinema, going to gigs, eating in restaurants, drinking in bars, going on holiday - all of these are seen as things that are typically done in pairs, in groups, with family and so of course, that becomes the norm. 

But as a twenty-something singleton, opportunities to plan these kinds of activities with other people are often few and far between. We've all been there; your coupled up friends naturally do a lot of these activities just the two of them (and rightly so), some of your friends have family commitments meaning it's hard for them to make plans (understandably) and there are other friends whose schedules and finances just never match up with your own, meaning you always struggle to pencil each other in.

On the other hand, if you actually take some of the aforementioned activities at face value, it's hard to see why they are social activities. Going to the cinema and to gigs, particularly, as you are engrossed and watching something the whole time and only afterwards would you consider chatting anyway. And let's face it, if you're going on holiday to relax or to sight-see rather than for parties and chaos then again, other humans are somewhat surplus to requirements.

For a long time, I probably missed out on many things because I'd assumed, naively, that I needed someone else to come along with me and I couldn't possibly do them alone because what on Earth would people think?! But when you realise that actually you're missing out on a hell of a lot of films, gigs and chances to go away because you're forever waiting for your peers' plans to align and that a little anxiety on your part should not be enough to stop you from having amazing experiences.

Once I realised this, I got out of a rut and started being spontaneous and making way more memories. It started with going to see a few gigs I'd been putting off and then a few films and most recently, an off the cuff few days in London. This was something I'd wanted to do for years and had planned with other people at varying different times but never actually pulled off. I rarely go on holiday because growing up, I didn't go on many with family and so I'm not too savvy with airports, currency, bookings etc. and this mixed with a variety of anxieties has meant that I haven't had the opportunity to get away, relax and rejuvenate for quite a long time. Recently, a few chats with friends who had been solo-travellers made me realised how daft I've been and relinquished some of those anxieties. This was evidently the kick up the backside that was needed because it led to me booking this last minute trip to London entirely on my own. 

Now, London might not exactly seem like a jet-set adventure but as I'm not too street savvy and travel savvy, it made sense to venture around the busiest places in the UK before embarking on anything any further afield. If I could master the independence, sense of direction, common sense and street smarts required for these places, then I'd be well away.

All in a day's work
 (Natural History Museum (Kensington), Trafalgar Square & Tower Bridge)

So two weeks ago, off I popped, on the 2 hour LNER for three days away with my backpack, an Oyster card and a little list of personal to-dos. And honestly, it was THE best thing I've done in years. I was super nervous, excited and a little scared but once I got there and started doing my little Dora the Explorer bit, I had not a care in the world. I felt so relaxed and couldn't wait to get out every morning and see the sights. I spent Thursday to Saturday in the capital and properly thrashed the to-do list, fitting in Kings Cross, Camden Market, Oxford Street, Fitzrovia, London & Tower Bridge, Tower of London, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden and racking up a good 50,000 steps across the 72 hour period. I can't honestly understand why I didn't get out of my comfort zone and do this years ago, it was the easiest and most liberating trip and has opened doors to the possibility of going further. I had serious travel blues when I got home and can't wait to book something else. 

Shopped til I dropped
(Camden & Carnaby Street)

The moral of this post (and hopefully this forthcoming series of posts) is that the judgemental stigma of doing things in solitude is inevitably restricting people and preventing them from living their best lives. 
Don't be afraid - Go see that film on your own, eat at your favourite restaurant alone, go see your favourite artists and musicians alone, book that holiday on your own. Sometimes, you need that TLC, the alone time, the space to think, to process things and sometimes you want to be sociable and have all of the conversations, life is about balance and you can most definitely have both in moderation. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

An A to Z of Life in Your 20s...

Life in your 20s can be a complete roller-coaster. 
Many say it was the best era of their life, many say it was their worst. 
But generally, a lot of things can be learnt and taken from being a twenty-something, hence the abundance of self-help/feminist/anecdotal books that were written by people in their twenties or contain reflections of experiences that occurred during those years. 
Being a 25 year old young woman in an ever-changing society with a number of life-changing and life-affirming experiences under my belt over the last few years, I thought I'd publish an A-Z blog based on my own encounters that will help illustrate a truthful reflection of life as a twenty-something...

A - Alcohol

So this is probably something you'd actually expect to see in a late-teenager's A-Z and obviously isn't something that will relate to everyone, however for me, this is definitely a key indicator and a key part of life in my twenties. 
By now, you actually quite like alcohol, as opposed to just drinking it because everyone else does and because apparently its cool. Your tastes have probably matured and become much more sophisticated, ditching the offy's cheapest option for more tasteful tipples like wine and gin (see G) and you can actually afford cocktails that aren't £5 a jug from Spoon's. However, along with that, if you're anything like me, your hangovers will have amplified too. Gone are the days when you can roll out of bed before 9 and rush to a lecture before scranning a Full English, now you wake up somewhere around lunch with a headache that makes you want to slice off your own face and can't possibly think of food before about 7pm.

B - Bills

Your twenties are when you really get to grips with paying bills. Phones, taxes, insurance, energy, rent - no matter how much you're actually adulting, you'll be experiencing the hell that is bill-paying in one way or another. For lots of us this probably became a reality whilst at university and then at the other end of the twenties spectrum, you end up paying the whole lot for cars, homes, taxes, pensions, you name it. One of the most frustrating factors of life in general, but as the saying goes "shit don't come for free!"

C - Confidence

For me, this is still building and I dare say for many others, this is also the case, but naturally, as we get older, our confidence grows, along with our voice. Sure, there are probably a number of areas in which we don't all feel confident, but in comparison to those teenage years, we are much more certain of ourselves and capable of holding our own. Take my job for instance, standing up in front of people and talking for a living is something I would've ran a mile from when I was 18, but fast forward 6/7 years and its the most natural thing in the world. No longer reliant on parents to sort out those 'adult' things like doctors appointments, complaints, refunds, taxes etc, we are naturally expected to step up and it becomes a lot easier the further in we get.

D - Debt

Student loans, overdrafts, I.O.Us to the bank of mum & dad or our pals - we've all been in situations where we've owed money and particularly for those of us that went to university, this is something we're often burdened with well into our twenties. Obviously its something we're aware of at the time but being young often makes you a lot less logical and incapable of seeing long-term circumstances. At 25, I still battle with the recurring shadow of that student overdraft I went into during a night out at uni and only now have I marginally seen my way out of it and I'm not alone, many have told me that they were in a very similar situation. But rest assured, the end will come!

E - Existential Crisis

We all joke about this regularly and more often than not, it comes from looking at those around us and stupidly comparing our own lives. This leads to the inevitable "what the fuck am I doing with my life?" I probably have this feeling at least once a week and it is usually when I see someone my age doing awesome things with their lives. Its that feeling of doubting ourselves and wondering if we're fulfilling our full potential or purpose in life. Wondering if we're destined to do more or see more and why other people seem to be further ahead in life than us. Its completely a phase and on reflection, probably what spurs us on. Another entirely normal part of growing up.

F - Facebook

Let's face it, this is an integral part of modern life, whether we like it or not. Everyone's on it, even people that aren't on it, know about it and its how we interact with and find out things about almost everyone in our lives. My gran can barely use a phone and isn't on Facebook but she still gets all her news via Facebook from our auntie, who is! 
I'm a serial poster, everyone comes to me for help with Facebook, everyone asks me if they want to find something on Facebook and I'm a regular scroller. As sad as that may be, it seems that Facebook is where a lot of people find out news, information and most commonly, where people keep up to date with the lives of those around them. As a twenty-something on Facebook, those around you are more than likely posting from the pub, their newly bought home, showing off their proposal pics or their pride for their children or sharing memes about loving animals/wine more than people (latter is me). 

G - Gin

Okay so this probably could've just been filed under alcohol but its so much more than that. Its that sign of maturity, its that bond with your gin-drinking pals and its the fact that it can be infused with sooo many delicious flavours and makes Friday nights so much better. This deserves its own category cause frankly, when you're ordering the same drink as Rita from Corrie, you know you're ageing.

H - Home
This is a biggie in your twenties as you are probably going to move around a lot. From your first taste of independence, moving back from university, to taking out your first mortgage - your home-life is a huge part of everything in your twenties, regardless of which bracket you fall into. It could be that you come back from university and have to fall back into the life of living with parents or other family members, or you could be languishing a little freedom in a house-share with friends or you may be fully adulting and buying your first home with a partner. Either way, all of these take their toll and take up a lot of time and money.

I - Identity

This is just my opinion of course, but I would argue that between the ages of 14 - 21 you have dabbled in all sub-cultures going and tried a number of looks, hairstyles, walks, phases, friendship groups and by the time you are in your mid-twenties, you are much more certain of yourself, who you are and where you fit. You've found your tribe and you know yourself and what works for you, what your tastes are and where your morals lie. Obviously, with life's changes, these may alter again, but generally, you're approaching or settled in a state where you're comfortable in your own skin and you have those traits that make people recognise you and things that always remind people of you. Your identity is solid and you love to express it and have others notice it.

J - Junk Food

Because we're supposed to be adults now and adults can cook right? Wrong. You're at work all day, and get home starving and desperate to get your bath and get in bed as soon as possible. So are you really gunna bash out a gourmet meal or are you gunna throw in a pizza that will be ready in 15 minutes and satisfy every inch of your soul. Pizza, of course.

K - Karma

I've found that the older you get, the more you believe in respect and give and take. Karma is a huge part of this, the notion that you get what you give and karma will take care of the rest. You start to realise that a little kindness goes a long way and you recognise the impact of a compliment or a smile on a person's day. You acknowledge the fact that you just never know what a person is dealing with and tend to be much more sensitive to that. And of course you rely on the fact that douche-bags will get whats coming to them via karma cause frankly, with all the work, bills and gin, you can't afford to be serving up justices left right and centre.

L - Loyalty

This is a trait that you cherish the more you grow up. You need people in your life that you can count on and who will have your back more than ever and you start to filter out those that don't. Obviously as time goes on, some friendships fizzle out due to life's course but there will be those who you've always held dear, those that you message first when life kicks you in the face or leaves you skipping rainbows. While the twenties are your selfish years, loyalty is still a necessity.

M - Memories

I spend so much time reminiscing, its a wonder I ever get anything done. But at this age, you're in limbo, not a child, not wholly confident that you're an adult. You look back on childhood, good experiences, bad experiences, photographs, teenage years, uni memories etc. We are even bombarded with apps and features that see the relevance of this and do it for us. Timehop notifies me at 8AM every morning that I need to look back over what I did years ago and I do religiously, every single day. Nostalgia is something we all buy into and something that comforts us, so its only natural that memories are such a big factor in our lives.

N - Neuroticism

So I'm not talking to an extreme and this is not necessarily something that everyone might relate to but for me, this is a biggie. Although a slight contradiction on the second factor in this list, confidence, there are obviously two ends to the spectrum. A lot of these traits, such as worrying, anxiety, frustration, jealousy and stress just relate to general life experiences, a lot of which you will probably go through at some point in your twenties, such as heartbreak, job stress, home stress, grief, money worries etc. A lot of these traits and this neuroticism may be down to experiences or just down to the fact that you care and are still trying to impress or gain reassurance from those around you. With so many life-altering occurances, it would be odd not to experience this throughout these years.

O - Over-thinking/Over-analysing

Much in sync with the previous. You find yourself thinking more about people's actions and words as you get older. Trying to provide reason or meaning to things, often with good cause. You probably over-think your own actions and responses and wish you'd said or did things differently with perspective. You over-think the most trivial or mundane things, often for no reason but sometimes as a coping mechanism so that when things are conquered, it feels more of an achievement.

P - Post-Grad Blues

So those of you who didn't go to uni probably won't get this but those of you who did, definitely will. The overwhelming feeling when you graduate and have no idea what to do with your life. You have to snap back to reality, no more weeknight drinkathons, no more pondering society in lectures, or counting on grants to get you by in life. The harsh light of real life. For many, this means returning home and losing that sense of independence, which kills your soul. For the lucky few, who dive straight into a well-paid job, its not a long haul but for those who have to endure the post-uni, back home, retail job blues, it sucks big time. And even after getting the job you worked hard for, you still ponder your life at uni, either wishing you could go back or wishing you'd done things slightly differently.

Q - Quarter-life crisis

Much like the existential crisis but more the realisation that you are a quarter of the way through your-life, that is of course assuming you're a machine and live to 100. But this is the point where you wonder what you've achieved and if you're where you should be within the 'norms' of life (of which there aren't any of course, cause everyone is entirely different)

R - Relationships

Whether this was an A-Z of 20s, teens, 30s, 40s etc, this would probably still be a factor. Relationships tend to be at the forefront of people's life-plans and in your twenties, you're either solidly in one and have been for a while, dating back and forth, single and happy with it or single and not so happy with it. Those who are in one are thinking about their commitments, whether its just holidays or mortgages and engagements. Those who aren't are probably very aware that this is the time most people are thinking about those things and feel a need to get involved or run for the hills. Being in your mid-twenties and newly single is odd, because it kind of feels like you're back in your teens and you have to find yourself again and find out what you want and like again. But either way, regardless of your status, being in your twenties in or out of a relationship, both can bring awesome things to look forward to. Unless of course, you've entirely given up and already picked out your cats. (not me, I swear)

S - Selfish

Many say that your twenties are your selfish years, particularly before you have any proper commitments or responsibilities. Its the time to do awesome things and to do things that make you happy, to spend that disposable income and live it up. But its no secret that society is much more instant now and people are getting settled and committed even earlier.

T - Terrible Decisions

So, you're either living in the shadow of ones you've already made or you're still making them and realising you need to get your shit together because you're an adult now. And let's not lie, most of these are probably down to alcohol or not listening to people. Either way, these may be having an impact in your life but its true that we learn from our mistakes and will probably continue to do so here on in, after all, if we didn't, we'd have no stories or advice to give our friends and families later on in life.

U - Uncertainty

Obviously this is the U because who knows what will happen in the future? Some may be making plans for this now, the rest of us are probably just getting through each day and feeling a sense of achievement every Friday. If we knew what was coming, life would probably be quite a bore-fest.

V - Vintage

I feel like, a love for vintage is something that you gain as you get older. Mainly because as kids, nobody wanted a hand-me-down, but fast forward and we can't get enough. Ebay, kilo sales, books, vinyl, polaroids, you name it, anything old school is suddenly cool. Not only cause we are the hipster generation but also cause the older you get, the more frugal you become and we all love a bargain. I mean, I just spent two days listing clothes on Ebay and I'm constantly finding steals on there for myself. The love of finding something old and pre-loved and the story behind it links to the comfort we find in nostalgia and thrifting and upcycling are very much in fashion.

W - Work

We all get this one. Monday mornings, spending most of your life at work instead of at home, work-induced stress, wages etc. Its all part of life, or at least it should be. For many of us, work takes up an incredible amount of our time, effort and headspace. However for me, this isn't as much of a hindrance as it may sound, because I worked hard to get a job that I just so happen to love. Albeit when I used to work in retail, I hated it, I couldn't have thought of a more unfulfilling life for myself (no offence to anyone who does work in retail, if you enjoy it, then fair enough), but I knew it wasn't what I wanted to spend my life doing. I can't stress enough how great it feels to have job you don't always dread and one that you're happy to go to even in your free-time. Its something I wish I could grant everyone. Don't get me wrong, I hate waking up early and I'm exhausted by Friday and there is a lot of after work, work but its all worthwhile. Love or hate your job though, its just something we've all gotta do.

X - XP

Okay, so I cheated a little here but... experience. By now, we're racking up that XP and going through a bunch of stuff that will shape the rest of our lives and who we are. We're being listened to more cause we're not just kids (just don't mention politics) and we have the right to give advice and guidance. Plus we're kind of the first generation to know what XP means...

Y - Youth

This had to be the Y because we're so adamant we are still young. I know the heart-sinking feel of ticking 25-34 on a survey and feeling like its slipping away! Hence why I still have facial piercings and dye my hair orange. However, youth also had to be included cause while we still want to be young, we're also becoming more intolerant of the young. There comes a point where you pass a group of chavs in town and try your best to disguise your disgust at their vocabulary in public or the fact they're covering the path with their bikes but as you get older, you can't disguise it and blatantly side-eye them, shake your head or tut. You find it more and more disgraceful to see gangs of kids in bus stations and hear vulgar language in front of the elderly and kids and despite the fact, you and your friends probably did it (I didn't for the record), you recoil in total dismay.

Z - Zzzzz

Now this is most probably just me, but I swear I'm going to bed earlier every single year. Gone are the days when I see 1/2AM unless I'm out. Most nights I'm asleep by 11 at the very latest. People at work will ask if I saw something on TV then realise it was on past 9 and say "oh nevermind you won't have seen it". I feel like sleep is relished even more as I get older. I actually think about how many hours I'll get before I go to sleep. Typing this out now is making me cringe but I'm sure I'm not alone in this one!

So there you have it, an A-Z of life in your 20s.
Hopefully not as dismal as some of these sound... but then, as Pats & Eddy said...

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