social media

WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR ME TO UNFOLLOW PEOPLE ON INSTAGRAM?

Written whilst sitting on a bench in Barnes & Noble. The café is closed for renovations and I refuse to go to Starbucks because I’ve already given enough money to them and I made myself a cup of coffee for the express purpose of saving money, and I am not monstrous enough (yet) to bring my own drink into a Starbucks.
So now I’m sitting on a bench by the window, facing a row of magazines (some of which I’ve written for, twist!) while behind me on the windowsill is a copy of “Women & Guns: The World’s First Firearms Publication for Women”! Not sure which part of this intro is darkest!

Yesterday, I made the plunge of unfollowing several people on Instagram. In exchange for me knowing exactly what you’re about to say, I’ll tell you what I’m about to say.

You’re about to say, “Brave.” And I’m about to say, “I know.”

For something that is ostensibly elective (and hassle-free) there is a lot of weirdness, for me at least, about unfollowing people on social media. It feels, for lack of a better word, mean. But it totally shouldn’t.

This is the result of many smaller moments of skipping rapidly through their Stories and ignoring their posts (I never like anyone’s photos, except celebrities and pictures of hot guys so that Instagram Explore can be notified of my predilections). I also don’t do this to everyone, but a select group of people for whom I simply No Longer Care About. This group includes People Who Annoy Me, People Who I Followed in College But Was Never Actually Friends With (The Obligatory Follow), and People Who Post About Their Boyfriends Too Frequently. Sub-categories include (but are not limited to) People With Good Jobs Who Love to Complain and People Who Love SoulCycle. Almost all of these people I will never, probably, see again or come across in any meaningful capacity. However, it was still intensely difficult to click “unfollow.” Why?

(Pause for ponder.)

Social media promotes a false sense of intimacy – as much as it promotes a falsified and perfected version of reality – so it does feel, in certain ways, that I’m blowing off a friend.

I know about people’s job ventures, their trips to Coachella; I know about what they ate for lunch today, when their mom’s birthday is. These are things that I don’t know about some of my best friends, and yet I know them about people who I haven’t talked to in, sometimes, years. And that’s the trap of social media: even if we’re not close, we’re made to feel close. Social media makes your life into consumable content, and I’m choosing to opt out of that content. I’m saying your content doesn’t interest me, which basically means your life doesn’t interest me. And while that’s not true, it’s the trap social media creates.

Social media accounts for one outlet that increases my anxiety. I find myself comparing myself, often negatively, to other people based on their social media. If they’re having fun, I wonder why I’m not having more fun. If they’re successful, I wonder why I’m not more successful. If they have a boyfriend, I wonder why I don’t have more boyfriends. And if social media presents the best version of something, then that means that I’m allowing a ghost to ruin my day. And unfollowing means admitting that I feel insecure, that I get jealous and that I, yes me, can get a little petty.

To avoid admitting I’m vulnerable to insecurity, I will often rationalize the follows in numerous ways: there’s the “What If I Run Into Them and They Bring It Up” argument; there’s the “What If I Someday Become Friends With Them Again” argument; and there’s the “What If They Think I’m Rude” argument. These are just the first three that popped up in my head – I’m sure there are more. But they all stem from the same irrational fear I have that’s also preventing me from returning a very overdue copy of The White Album to the library: What If, Someday, I Need It?

But here are three easy and simple responses to those arguments.

If you run into them and they mention you’ve unfollowed them on Instagram, then they probably have one of those “follower count” apps and that is Pathetic! I should know, because I’ve had one!

If you become friends with them again, then you’re probably good enough friends to copping to the unfollow. This is probably unlikely.

And finally, if they think you’re rude, then they are kinda lame. Social media is ruthless, and it probably proves your point that they’re not worth following. This doesn’t have to imply any sort of ill will or negativity, but it just means that I have other things to do (like online shopping, or peeling mandarin oranges).

I can’t spend my life watching the lives of people I Do Not Care about. If I counted every second I spent flipping through their stories, or calculated every minute unit of energy my eyes spent on their content, it would probably amount to a small, but significant, portion of my day and focus. If I added into that all the tiny dollops of negative emotions of jealousy and insecurity that were incurred by social media, that would also being collated into something pretty significant.

I did really bad in AP Macroeconomics but I do know that if the energy I’m putting into something is not reaping good enough returns, then it’s probably a bad investment.

At the end of the day, life is too short, I’m too pretty, and my forehead real estate is too precious to waste potential wrinkles over people who I don’t really care about.

So I suppose the moral of this article is don’t you dare unfollow me. I need this more than you do.

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2018, feminism, Politics

FEMALE POLITICIANS AND THE CHRISSY TEIGEN CONUNDRUM

A few days ago, columnist Jonathan Chait from New York Magazine published a piece titled, “Democrats Have Great Female Presidential Candidates. They Need to Avoid the Victim Trap.” In it, he described the ways that powerful female politicians, namely Junior Democratic U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), are reported about in the media.

He describes Senator Harris’ June Senate Intelligence Committee interaction with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Harris continually pressed Sessions to answer questions that the latter tried to dodge with the excuse of a particular “policy.” Numerous times, Harris was interrupted by her male colleagues, leading to numerous articles reporting on that, rather than Harris’ strength of interrogation.

“The men-interrupting-women theme fell into a familiar source of social media umbrage,” wrote Chait. “And those reactions, initially registered on social media, formed the basis for much of the coverage that followed.”

Chait highlighted the coverage of Harris as an example of “victimhood” in order to make his point that female politicians lean into that victimhood as a way of appealing to the leftist base.

“On the left, victimhood is a prime source of authority, and discourse revolves around establishing one’s intersectional credentials and detailing stories of mistreatment that reinforce them,” said Chait. “Within the ecosystem of the left, demonstrating that you have suffered harassment or microaggressions is a big win.”

He described a recent GQ profile of Gillibrand, who went into more detail of the sexual harassment that she’s endured. “Much of the story followed this theme, describing not only Gillibrand’s leadership on the issue of sexual harassment, but her status as actual victim of harassment.”

He ended his article by saying, “Playing to the most popular tropes in progressive circles on social media is a seductive way for Democratic female candidates to capture attention from activists. It may not be their straightest path to the White House.”

When first reading it, the premise could have been extremely interesting and valid. The argument could’ve been directed at the media, and the ways that we often lean into stereotypical representations of women. It might’ve been a lampooning of the articles that, instead of applauding Harris and Gillibrand for their perseverance, focused on the male interruption.

However, the headline and ending paragraph seem contradictory to what some could say is the meat of Chait’s piece. It took the twist of assuming, or at least implying, that Harris and Gillibrand at least partially to blame for the coverage they received. He never acknowledges the obvious – that Gillibrand and Harris did not create the coverage that portrayed them as victims.

Chait plays into the very thing that he is critiquing. Rather than writing about them as he argues they should be written about, Chait imposes his own world view upon these women by assuming what they must be thinking and doing.

It’s a phenomenon that’s come up recently in an entirely different sphere, a situation I’m dubbing the “Chrissy Teigen Conundrum.”

“if I had my choice, not a single story would ever be written about any tweets of mine. they make people (me) seem like…the most annoying people,” Teigen tweeted, about…I guess the thing I’m doing. “the “clapback” wasn’t “epic”, it was just a fuccccccking tweet – just please stop with these stupid words.”

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It’s a common critique of Chrissy Teigen, that she is annoying or omnipresent on social media. But as she points out, rightfully, that’s not because she’s doing anything. It’s because journalists make the choice to write about everything she does, and use clickbait-y titles to draw readers. But because all we see is “Chrissy Teigen,” that’s all we associate with the deluge of coverage.

We are not annoyed by Chrissy Teigen, we are annoyed by the coverage of Chrissy Teigen, with which she has nothing to do.

Blaming Chrissy Teigen for the coverage she receives is as ludicrous as blaming Harris or Gillibrand for the victim-slanting coverage they garner.

I don’t doubt that people leaning into certain narratives is true in some cases. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening here, or what’s happening at large. Chait views victimhood as a media or political strategy. In his lens, there is no way that Gillibrand could be discussing the harassment she’s received for any other reason than to garner sympathy in a 2020 presidential run. It’s possible that Gillibrand was not ignorant to the fact that she would gain sympathy, but that was in addition to shining light on a malignant and previously hush-hush tenet of politics.

And if that’s his view, it’s bizarre that he does not point out that Trump won on a platform of victimhood, playing up the false victimization of white, middle-class Americans, particularly men. He does not mention this once, preferring to attack female politicians who, as far as we know, did not request such coverage. He does not mention Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), or how she pushed back against Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s meandering with “Reclaiming my time,” which could ostensibly be considered the antithesis of victimhood or rerouting the “man-interrupting-woman” trope. He also fails to point out that, despite instances of harassment, these female politicians rose to the uppermost echelons of American politics.

“Spinning” narratives, particularly ones of hardship or victimhood, is not new, nor is it a particularly female action for politicians to take. However, it is almost always women who are slammed for taking part in that.

“On the left, victimhood is a prime source of authority.”

There is the notion that victims disclosing harassment are doing it with nefarious or shady intentions. The truth is that, often, the intent of disclosure is very clear: to open dialogues about harassment with the aim of minimizing and eliminating those situations. There is power in opening up about being a victim, but that in itself does not constitute a power play.

Pointing out bias (in gender, sexuality, race, class or religion) is often just that, but it also serves to highlight that there are peoples (often of intersecting identities) who are disproportionately affected by biases.

Painting Gillibrand’s discussion of the sexual harassment she’s faced, or critiquing Harris for how she was covered, has a very distinct aim – to discount sexism, racism and other biases as political ploys and grabs at attention. It diverts from any conversation about how these things came about and what might be done about them.

Chait’s argument, under the guise of concern, boils down to this notion: if you have been a victim, then you are weak. If you disclose harassment or abuse, you are seen as weak. And people do not someone weak in the Presidency. Again, it’s telling that he does not bring up Trump, who constantly and consistently affirms his place as a victim – of the media, of the Democrats, of the political system. So perhaps the problem is not the victimhood platform, but the fact that they are not men.

The article ignores that people who have been harassed, assaulted or victimized are survivors; have thrived despite such obstacles; and that those people might actually make better, more empathetic and more driven presidents than, say, someone who has no experience with such hardships.

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2018, Life, Rambles

GOLDEN HOUR

Written while sitting outside Starbucks in the sun, surrounded by wealthy mothers with Goyard totes, sipping on a tall cold brew (in a grande cup, for maximum product!) and streaming Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” off the titular album.

I just got back from a weekend trip to Boston (Chic! Tea!), and it’s the first time that, despite having gone back for weekend trips before) that I stepped actual feet back on my college campus since I graduated almost exactly eleven months ago.

When I went back up in October, I was fresh and wounded from the school year having started (the first one that I was not there for) and so I avoided it on purpose. I was starting a new job, but I was definitely far from settled, and didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my year, let alone my whole life. I still don’t, but things are slightly more settled.

This year has been an unintended sabbatical and break for me. After graduating, I had these unformed plans of “Graduate. Move home. Find job. Rinse. Repeat.” I graduated; I moved home; I started applying for jobs. I rinsed, I repeated.

I emailed a local magazine on a whim to do an informational, and ended up with some freelance writing. I got a job doing freelance copy-editing and dipped my toe into a full-adult-human workday. To make up the in-between, I applied for a job at a local Trader Joe’s. I started studying for the GRE and began researching graduate programs. Slowly slowly, I began to fill up my days and the months began to pass. The panicked, failure feeling began to dissipate (not completely, but in small bits).

With the extra time, I dove (well, tepidly stuck my toe in and then dove) back into therapy. There were serious things that I wanted to tackle, things that I had not had the time, mental capacity or vocabulary to tackle before. Before, addressing certain topics would make them real, which would make them impossible to ignore, and would therefore open me up to vulnerabilities. This year was an entire twelve months of vulnerabilities, so I figured there was no time like the present. Why not knock out all of my anxieties and issues in one fell swoop? (It’s not that simple or that clean, but honey let me have this!)

I have not successfully come out on top of any of the issues that I wanted to tackle (if anything, they’ve proved to be more complex and multifaceted than I originally believed) but they no longer feel insurmountable. They no longer feel like cracks in my pavement or deal-breakers. In short, I no longer feel unfixable.

I’ve also incorporated more color into my wardrobe. If you’re thinking, “Whoa! This is a shift from talking about psychiatry!” then you’d be right but you’d also be not in my brain. A lot of how I dressed, dark colors and baggy cuts, was to detract attention away from my body. I wanted to have attention, but I didn’t want my body – or what I considered to be a coterie of problems – to be at the nexus. But over the last few months, as I’ve been opening up about the sources of those issues, I’ve felt myself craving color on a level that I never have before.

I wore a glorious gold hoodie over the weekend, and endured some teasing from my friends about its vivacity. But I didn’t care because it was so sunny and beautiful and eye-catching. I picked up two t-shirts – one pale pink and one pale yellow – from a local thrift store, colors I would never usually gravitate towards. But I’ve felt more confident, and with wearing color, I feel like I’m saying, “You can see me. I’m okay with it.”

I’m hitting a golden hour of sorts. I’ve endured gray moments over the past year, some downright turbulent and stormy, but I can feel myself hitting my stride. Large parts of that are due to being more settled – in life, grad school, and myself. But I think it’s also that I’m, for the first time, allowing myself to be seen – to be opened up in different ways.

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2018, Life, Things Happening RN

TRYING TO BE HOT AT MY FIVE-YEAR REUNION

On Saturday, I had my five-year high school reunion.

I went in with low expectations, and by that I mean that I went in with the highest expectations and fully expected to be disappointed.

I regularly make jokes about the kind of person I was in high school; “I looked like a thumb with eyes” is a common one, given the fact that I had red, horrible skin, didn’t figure out a haircut that worked for me and I plucked my light eyebrows into impossibly high, thin arches that rendered them completely invisible in photos.

Embarrassingly (although everyone is guilty of this) I was obsessed with maintaining a façade even more than I was obsessed with maintaining a severe eyebrow arch. I probably even loved saying the word “façade” in high school. Difficult pronunciation and a squiggly accent mark? Chic! Essentially, I was kind of geeky and not-chic, except that I thought I was the most chic. Animal-print? Yes please. Neon? Why not! I was also perhaps most famous in high school for having a blog, and by that I mean, I was gay and literate and wrote about it.

Going into this reunion, I had one main goal: make everyone want to kill themselves with jealousy.


I assumed that this goal was very much attainable and also very much in the bag. However, things started to unravel very quickly. A tussle with a sheet mask ended up with me having a slight allergic reaction. A haircut ended up looking a little too egghead. My skin, which has been on a journey not dissimilar to Arya Stark trying to find her way back to Winterfell, decided to have a flare-up! Everything was coming up rosacea!

For reasons that I discuss extensively in therapy but will not disclose here, I feel a powerful need to prove myself to everyone, but particularly people who dislike me. Given the fact that I went to an all-boys Catholic prep school and was gay/wore leopard-print, I was not wanting for enemies or bullies!

I showed up to cocktail hour an hour late and dressed fucking cute, and immediately realized that I would not get through this night without alcohol. I was sucked into a conversation with a former classmate about his career track. He does something client-facing, and wears ties, and honestly that’s all I could remember because I was too busy scanning the faces of other classmates and making mental notes of everyone who got hot.

As I mentioned, I went to a prep school, whose main exports are insecurity complexes and people who work in square professions – finance, real estate, anything that has you start as an “analyst.” I was one of maybe four people who was in a creative industry, and reminder, I barely have a job! I was back in an environment that both fostered trust-fund fist bumps and discouraged me making any sort of “anal-yst” jokes! It was tough!

To overcompensate, when people asked me what I did, I formulated a square and safe response. “I’m a writer, and I’m going to grad school in July.”

Over the course of the evening, I got progressively looser and more annoying. “I’m a writer” became “I’m a freelancer writer,” which became “I’m a freelancer writer and I work at Trader Joe’s,” which somehow devolved into “I write about gay stuff!” and then completely deteriorated into just “Gay!”

To be fair, it always ends up that way.

But sometimes I realized, as my answers about “What I’m Doing” became sillier and more honest, is that people responded in kind. I got an accountant to admit that if I don’t pay taxes, there’s a possibility that nothing will happen (don’t do this though, pay your taxes). I asked a civil engineer if he got inspiration from that underground cavern in Marvel’s The Defenders. He did not laugh!


When I was saying hi to somebody, the person next to him saw me and made to do the “How are you doing!” facial shift.

The problem with this was that we never had a conversation in high school. I knew who he was because he’s hot, and he knew who I was because I’m gay, but no words passed betwixt us. So when he said, “How’ve you been?” I responded with “I’m good – I’m excited to have our first conversation ever!” And all he could do was laugh because literally it’s true.

And once we got over the truth, we actually had a conversation. We talked about high school, his work, my work, marijuana dispensaries and being hot.

I detest small talk because it kind of defeats the purpose – it’s meant to facilitate conversation, but it actually becomes a barrier against having real conversation. It becomes “Where did you go to college again?” and “What have you been doing?” instead of “Did you love college?” and “What do you think of Cardi B?”

By the way, people have high praise for Cardi!

I understand the impulse to put your best foot forward – I’m the fucking mayor of Putting Your Best Foot Forward – so I’m not sure exactly what snapped in me, but I’m glad it did. Because instead of exchanging meaningless pleasantries, I actually dug into real conversation with both old friends and people that I had never connected with in high school.

High school was messy in roughly eight thousand ways, and these all made going back into the Vineyard Vines viper’s pit quite stressful, which is probably why I became acutely obsessed with my appearance. A classic redirect to avoid confronting past trauma, sis!

But despite it all, I’m glad I went. I got a chance to look hot in suede boots, call everybody “hon” and “handsome” and snag an alumni baseball cap. And at the end of the day, that’s really all I could ask for.

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2018, Mental Health

MARIAH CAREY COMES FORWARD WITH BIPOLAR II DISORDER DIAGNOSIS

Header image source: Wikipedia


I’ve come out three times in my life. First as gay, second as depressed, and third as a ride-or-die Kelly Clarkson stan. Strangely, it’s only the last that has caused permanent strife in my family. I expected that; the truth is hard to hear.

On Wednesday, skinny legend Mariah Carey announced that she has been dealing with a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. In an interview with People, Carey described that, while she was first diagnosed in 2001, it was only in the last few years that she fully accepted and grappled with treatment.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she said to People editor-in-chief Jess Cagle. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”

It’s easy to drown this announcement in platitudes and inspirational sayings. It’s easy to say that Mariah is brave. It’s easy to say that this is important. It’s easy to bury this in well-wishes and forget how desperately important this is.

So it needs to be stated regardless: this is fucking important. This is fucking brave. And this is life-saving.

I was fifteen when I started going to therapy. I was nineteen when I went on medication. I remember the first time I went to CVS and picked up my prescription. I carried it back to my apartment, the small paper bag crunched up into my sweaty fist furtively. I eyed the small blue ovals with displeasure, and resented every swallow, every day, until one day I didn’t.

I am, relatively, extremely lucky. I live in a bubble where my mental health does not limit or define me. I have friends who have their own struggles, and I have parents who have advocated for me. It’s easy for me to forget the magnitude of disclosing mental health now that it has become so normalized for me.

But I let myself forget sometimes that I started writing about my depression and anxiety because when I needed it most, there was no literature that I found helpful. There were dry, clinical descriptions, and there were void-swallowing depressing missives. There weren’t people that I could relate to, people who were “normal” and functioned.

And in 2001, I can’t imagine the hostile environment that Mariah was facing when she received her diagnosis. It would have probably been career-ending to come forward, as a woman and as someone with bipolar disorder. She would’ve been labeled disruptive or crazy or entirely unreliable. She would’ve been a national joke.

It’s only the last few years – if that – that I’ve noticed a shift in the conversation surrounding mental health.

If I had had someone like Mariah – or Demi Lovato or Kesha or Dwayne Johnson – when I was fifteen or seventeen or nineteen, I think that I would progressed out of that shame a lot more quickly. I probably wouldn’t have been so reticent to accept help. I didn’t know that you could be successful and also depressed; I didn’t know that this didn’t have to be a life sentence or a limitation.

Despite the strides we’ve made, disclosing mental health issues is still a major risk. There’s a stigma attached to it, stigma that could eliminate job opportunities or personal relationships or credibility. That stigma is reduced when people disclose their own struggles, and represent as people who are functioning, productive and driven. It also opens the conversation to the ways that mental health can contribute to people’s downfalls, when people aren’t functioning or productive or driven. It can open the conversation about the ways that we are failing people who struggle with mental health.

Because there are people like Mariah, who had wealth and time and resources to understand and cope with her diagnosis. There are people like me who have a supportive family and a network of people.

But there are so many people without those resources, without the access to therapy or medication, for whom mental health can be detrimental. This helps them.

“I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating,” Mariah told People. “It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

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Things I Like

MARCH : EVERYTHING I’M CURRENTLY LOVING

I’ve developed an obsession with the NYMag.com shopping offshoot, The Strategist. It’s an entire site dedicated to the in’s and out’s of shopping: gift guides for every type of person you can imagine, deep dives into the best skincare and clothes and traveling necessities, sales you need to be aware of. They also do a monthly “Shopping Cart” where the editors and writers of the Strat detail what they’ve bought/loved in the last month. Inspired by that, and Easter, I’ve drummed up a few things that I’ve been loving so much recently that it would be downright unchristian of me not to share.

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Have you ever discovered a one-off song on Spotify, listened/jammed to it for a few months and then let it go? That’s happened to me with The Vaccines, except over the course of a few months, I steadily and accidentally listened to half of their entire new album, Combat Sports. They’re an English indie rock band that somehow sounds exactly like what would be playing in the basement of your middle school friend with a cool older brother. They’re fun and goofy, a little Americana-nostalgic and have a worn-in feeling. My current favorites off the album are “Your Love Is My Favorite Band” and “I Can’t Quit.”

 

 

Other new albums that I’ve been mulling over are Hayley Kiyoko’s Expectations (spectral and queer and full of bops) and Kacey Musgraves’s Golden Hour (this is so basic of me; every Twitter gay has been lauding “High Horse.”)

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If we have a conversation for more than twenty minutes, I bring up a podcast. I listen to them constantly: doing cardio, folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, walking and falling asleep. I’ve now subscribed to enough where I always have something to listen to, and I actually just discovered TIME’s “The 50 Best Podcasts to Listen to Right Now” and have expanded my repertoire.

But regardless, Babe? is, week to week, the one podcast I am consistently most excited about. It’s hosted by Lara Marie Schoenhals (White Girl Problems, Sexy Unique Podcast) and Ryan O’Connell (Special, Awkward, Thought Catalog), real-life 30-something best friends in Los Angeles. It ranges from the extremely outrageous to the deeply personal, but tethers on the idea of “babes,” people who are acting out in Hollywood. There can be Babes? (cause for concern), Babes! (a Babe? that turned victorious), Babes… (what’s even happening?), and Babes. (we need to talk right now). They also fight like best friends, which reminds me (narcissistically) of my relationship with my own best friend.

It spans politics, pop culture, and sex, with a hearty sprinkling of only-in-Los Angeles stories.

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I bought these navy trousers (and yes, they’re trousers, and yes, I’ll continue to call them that) a few months ago after hemming and hawing about a similar pair that, before I could make a decision, went out of stock. To avoid that happening, I snapped these up when they were majorly discounted in the Zara sale.

I bought these with dreams of wearing them for a new job I had interviewed for. When I didn’t get that job, I was gutted and a little annoyed that I had bought these (in my mind) useless, suit pants. To avoid wasting my money, I thought about ways of incorporating them into my wardrobe and found them incredible versatile. They have white side stripes, which, with the wrong outfit, can bear an unfortunate similarity to track pants. However, I’ve found that pairing them with Chelsea boots can negate their sportiness. I’ve worn them with a tucked-in t-shirt, flannel and denim jacket, I’ve worn them to dinners with a navy sweater, and I wore them to Easter mass with an oxford shirt and camel coat.

They weren’t expensive to begin with, but I majorly lowered the cost-per-wear and upped my style game in the process.

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In my life, I’ve had really bad skin. In high school, it was particularly bad – red and acne-prone and dull. Since then – going on acne medication and realizing that shaving against the grain was not the tea – my skin has gotten miles better, but it’s still super sensitive. I’ve had a journey discovering the perfect moisturizer – I had combination skin, so finding something that was hydrating without leaving my skin too oily was tough, but I think I’ve found my Holy Grail.

On a semester abroad in London (brag!), my moisturizer ran out so I went to my local Waitrose and browsed their skincare section before settling on a Nivea Soft moisturizer. I had never seen it before, but it completely changed my life. It’s super hydrating, melts into your skin and doesn’t leave behind any residue. I used it after shaving, on my tattoo when I first got it, and on any dry patches. I tried to repurchase it in America, but couldn’t find it anywhere. I later discovered that it didn’t exist in America. ‘Lo and behold, I was in ShopRite a few months ago (relatable) and found a display of it. After some research, I learned that it had made its way across the ocean. I’ve repurchased it several times now, and it’s my go-to. I’d die for it.

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I don’t talk about this as much outside of my sister and a few friends, but I watch YouTube a lot. I was an early adopter, and it’s crazy as to how much the medium has evolved since I started watching. Lately, I’ve been really into the videos of this girl Alex, who runs her own jewelry line, HRH Collection. She is, without a doubt, comes off originally as the whiniest person I’ve (n)ever met. I originally found it off-putting, until I realized that her complaining was as natural to her as breathing was to me. She’s actually surprisingly sweet, and her rambling commentary draws you in without even realizing.

 

She buys expensive shit (which is my crack to watch) but I mostly watch her because she films like an early 2000’s YouTuber: fish-eye lens and a lack of edits or cuts. A lot of YouTube is high-production and expertly edited; I’m not hating on it, but it’s kind of nostalgic to find someone who does it the OG way. Love! I listen to her in the background when I’m online shopping, writing invoices or checking my emails. It’s a super-whiny white-noise machine and I hope she never stops making videos.

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