My blog focuses on beauty, fashion and lifestyle, but I provide the unique perspective of being a (very) broke student. For beauty, I write about hyped up products and decide whether or not its worth taking the $$ plunge.
Mixing prints is not something I usually do, and mixing tartan prints is definitely something I never thought I’d do. But when I left my house yesterday it was chucking it down and I grabbed my umbrella and off I went. It wasn’t until I was updating my Instagram (@arcticsabrina) stories that I realised I was mixing two different colours of tartan. I usually wouldn’t even wear more than one piece of tartan, and ever since moving to Edinburgh I generally avoid it at all costs. I brought my kilt home at christmas and left it there, and these trousers have been at the back of my wardrobe collecting dust. It just feels like a bit much when I wear tartan now, like a bit of an overkill. But yesterday I think I achieved the peak of ‘didn’t you know I live in Scotland now?‘ with my accidental tartan mix-up.
Yesterday I was running last minute to catch the bus to Princes St so I could meet my friend Abbi at Waverley when her train got in. I did not intend to take pictures for an outfit of the day post. I was just throwing things together and hoping it looked intentional enough to be appropriate. But, Abbi is just such a talented photographer and when we visited the garden down Dunbar’s Close, she whipped out her camera (of course!). Since I’ve been meaning to write more outfit posts, I decided I would just throw one together with the shots she got — sort of really, really feeling this casual approach to blogging, seems a lot more authentic? Getting to know the ‘real me’? What do you think?
umbrella: bought on the royal mile at one of the many tourist shops, it was 16 pounds but totally worth it given how classy it looks and how often I use it!
coat: uniqlo! This is the uniqlo blocktech soutien collar coat. It’s the most recent addition to my wardrobe! I’ve been shopping-cleansing, and only buying investment pieces. This was 59 pounds (on sale), and its a raincoat! I’ve already worn it enough times to make it worth it, I think. Very smart looking, but so, so practical too.
trousers: old navy, lol. When people here ask me what old navy is, I just say it’s the cheap version of Gap… It’s like our version of Primark, I’d say. My mom bought these and they didn’t fit her so I got them! They’re worn out but there one of a handful of pairs of trousers I have here, so I wear them every once in awhile still.
shoes: Blundstones, another investment. These are the Blundstones #1441 but in black, not navy. I wear these every day. They are a signifier that I am a Canadian millennial, but they’re also waterproof and very comfortable, so.
accessories: glasses are eyebuydirect, and neckerchief is from ardene (lol)
*Pictures were taken down Dunbar Close on the Royal Mile, by my dear friend Abbi (@afolkbee) — see the genius behind the pictures in the picture I got below! Quality is significantly worse because it was taken on my iPhone. Whoops.
Seriously. It’s a problem. A problem I didn’t even realise was a problem until I started dating someone and I was writing in my journal about all of the things we’ve been doing on our dates and I still thought “but maybe he’s just really smooth and he doesn’t really like me and he’s just doing it all for the entertainment.” And THEN I realised that’s how my thinking works for pretty much every relationship I have – familial, friendships, relationships, and that’s… pretty messed up. I also realised that probably some of them really do secretly hate me, but chances are not everyone does. So I did some crowd-sourcing research over on my Instagram, and as it turns out, I am not entirely alone!
I remember that a few years ago a tweet went around that said something alone the lines of “Me, on my wedding day: ‘I do, but only if you actually want to, otherwise whatever.” It was more eloquent. And funnier. I can’t find it on the internet, forgive me. I swear it happened, because based off of that tweet I assumed that everyone was in the same boat as me. Only very recently did I realise that some of my friends believed that boys have real actual feelings for the girls that they’re dating — genuinely. For so long I thought, but come on? Guys in their adolescent and young adult years have always, in my experience, had very surface-level feelings for me. I’m not trying to downplay their emotions, I know they’re there, but they just experienced and expressed it differently.
We have so many images thrown at us of grown men who are excessively unhappy in their relationships that I could not fathom a man actually actively wanting to marry someone out of anything other than just the feeling that they had to. Societal norms and standards for heterosexual relationships really messed me up in that way. It’s probably one of the reasons I didn’t actually bother to date for a really long time. I couldn’t picture what a healthy, loving relationship would be like for me, and if I didn’t know what I was looking for, why look?
Well, I started blogging about dating. So then I started looking, mostly so I could keep blogging about it, but also so I could get over my fear of it. And then I started dating someone, and luckily for me it went really well, and then I had that revelation, and that brings us to here. Now, I’ve done some further thinking and I’ve realised that my assumption that everyone secretly hates me doesn’t just extend to dating, in fact it deals much more with friendship relationships. Most of my dating relationships have been quite juvenile to begin with, so the risk of getting messed with was pertinent and not quite so ridiculous. With friendships, on the other hand, I’ve always had the distinct feeling that everyone would rather be hanging out without me.
Alternatively, I’ll feel like everyone feels like they have to hang out with me out of habit, or because they feel like they should. I often find that the friends I’ve had for years and years always still feel like friends when we actually do hang out. It’s in between our hanging out where I start to wonder whether they’re only wanting to meet up with me to check-in and know where I’m at now, not because they genuinely care, but because they feel like they should. I have a handful of friends where I know this isn’t at all the case, but for most others I feel like I’m just a box they have to tick off.
With new friends, I often ask them out on little ‘friendship dates’, but in some cases it’s gotten to the point where I again feel like they only agree because they feel like they have to. Or, because they feel like I serve some sort of purpose, they wouldn’t want to just hang out with me because they like hanging out with me, there must be some other thing that I can offer them to get them to want to spend time with me. The whole thing is just exhausting.
Beyond feeling like people don’t want to spend time with me to begin with, I’m never the friend that people go to with their problems. With friends old and new, I’ll often feel like I’m oversharing as a way of overcompensating for the fact that they don’t open up at all. It’s a genuine way to connect with someone, opening up to them and telling them your ~secrets~ so that they know they can also trust you with their secrets. But, I’ve often felt like the opening up was only ever coming from one side, my side. Then I’ve felt like they think I’m just a burden because they don’t understand that I’m not trying to lean on them for support, but just let them know that they could lean on me for support.
So, maybe everyone really does secretly hate me. Maybe all of my friends only hang out with me so they can tell their other, actual friends about their ‘friend who moved to Edinburgh’, or so I can take pictures of them for their Instagram. Maybe the guy I am dating really does secretly hate me but he likes the attention I offer him. Or, maybe, I’m playing up all of the little things they do when they’re annoyed at me, or insecure about themselves, because I, too, am insecure. Who’s to say?
I realise a post like this should have some sort of culmination where I tell you why I feel like everyone secretly hates me, or that they don’t, but it doesn’t. Chances are that I, having grown up with a relatively severe case of social and general anxiety, have developed a habit of mistrusting anyone who seems like they actually care about me in an attempt to save face in case it turns out that they don’t. Most of the people I talked to who also experienced this also have some level of social anxiety, so maybe it’s just a weird manifestation of imposter syndrome. All I know is that: now that I know it is a problem that I have, and that it’s probably not true that everyone secretly hates me,..
Just as there is a process to going through a break up (successfully!), I’m starting to think there’s a process to getting used to dating again, and then getting used to being in a relationship. When you’re someone who has been single for a long time, who enjoys being single, there must be at least a thing you have to go through. I am pretty sure, about 75% sure, I’ve sorted it out by now.
Full disclosure: This entire thought process maybe one of those things that signifies me getting old, BUT I have a new theory. Those of you who have been through break ups will know, there’s a process to a break up that you have to go through. Whether you’re happy or devastated about the break up, the disappearance of an important person in your life is ever-present for the first few weeks, if not months. And now that I’m starting to date one person seriously, straight out of being single and without dating around first, I feel I’m starting to have to learn how to do break-ups in reverse. What’s the process for finding joy from a relationship again? For settling in to having a partner again?
There I was: I had been single for approximately two and a half years, and I loved it. I never felt like I was missing out on anything. I mentioned in my first ~Carrie Bradshaw-esque~ post that for a long time I feel so confident as a single person that I actively self-sabotaged any dating opportunities. Even with my last boyfriend I was adamant that it wasn’t a lifelong relationship. Then I spent years actively and openly avoiding dating, and then I moved to the U.K. Once I was here, the jig was up. I didn’t have an excuse not to date anymore, and then I realised I didn’t know how to ditch the habit. So, I made a plan: try to go on as many first dates as possible, just to get used to the idea of dating again… that way I wouldn’t be sick with nerves before meeting someone new when the right person came along! Spoiler alert: I made it to the second first date before I stopped going on first dates.
I thought going on Tinder dates would be relatively safe, that I would just be putting myself out there, going on awkward first dates, maybe the slightly less awkward second date, kissing a few faces, and then moving on to meet someone new. The plan was simply to date until I was over my fear of first dates and meeting new potential partners. I did not expect to meet anyone particularly special or worthwhile through Tinder — that just doesn’t happen. And the darnedest thing happened. I went on an awkward first Tinder date, I decided I’d like to go on the slightly less awkward second date and then I realised that I really, genuinely, very much liked him. Quelle horreur.
Now we’ve been on a few months worth of dates. If you’ve been reading the Carrie Bradshaw series, you know: I’ve touched his arm, we’ve kissed, we’re ~exclusively~ dating. But, if you ask me, the process from arm-touching to sleeping in each others beds isn’t as smooth as it seems when your friends do it, or when you watch it in movies. The transition from being happily single to being happily in a relationship often left me very confused, slightly anxious, and slightly nauseous. I have sent so many texts to friends saying “well this is a LOT.” But I’ve gone through it. Here are my best bits of advice for those of you trying to get used to dating again:
It will be weird having someone around a lot of the time. Everyone says the early months in a relationship are the ‘honeymoon’ phase: everything they do is adorable, everything they say is funny, the things you later find obnoxious are quirky and they can do no wrong! It is SO easy to want to spend every free minute you have with someone you’re absolutely smitten with. On the flip side, you don’t want to come off as needy. You’re told to toe the line between spending every minute with them, and seeming like you’ve got other important things to do. The catch? I found that I didn’t want to spend every waking moment with him. Not because the honeymoon phase wasn’t there, but because it was SO weird having someone around.
At first, dating was exhausting, I suddenly didn’t have the ‘me’ time I usually had and I felt like I was losing my head. In retrospect, this part of the adjustment period is actually really positive, because it meant I didn’t lose my perspective. You’re an adult, being in a relationship shouldn’t mean giving up your ‘me’ time, you deserve both, make sure you make time for both! Instead of freaking out about whether or not this meant I didn’t like him, we just had sparse dates for the first little while. Then, when we did meet up we would always do things where we could talk the whole time, which made it easier to get to know him and get used to him. Don’t freak out if you don’t want to spend every minute with them. If you’re really, really loving the time you are spending with them, that tells you everything you need to know.
You’re going to overthink things, of course you are. Don’t worry about the commitment question. This may very well just be me, but as soon as we started dating I worried about how I “really” felt. Was I really into him? Was I leading him on? Then, once I realised I was and I was not: How do I tell him I really like him? When should we have the ‘exclusivity’ conversation? Do I call him my boyfriend? Should he be meeting my friends? A bit of advice: this. is. all. baloney. It doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. It’s going to be alright. If you’re dating the right person, these conversations will happen when they need to happen. The best bits of advice I’ve found are: ‘dating is just going on dates until you decide you don’t want to anymore’ (and that’s OK), and ‘it’s time to talk about it if it’s playing on your mind a lot every time you’re with them’ (it’ll come naturally if it is).
Dear god I hope the person I’m dating now doesn’t read this. For clarity: It has been two and a half years since I went through my last break up (my third). It was such a successful break up that I have not seriously considered dating anyone since. After my second break-up, age 19, I realised break-ups could be as positive as they are negative. It’s not a pleasant thing to go through, but it’s the sort of life-altering emotional trauma that you can really grow through without too much damage. Even when all feels lost and you’re filled with despair, even when it’s the opposite of how you thought your relationship (and maybe your life) was going to go, you can always find a silver lining in your break up. Here’s my guide on how:
A successful break-up is one where, at the end of the day you feel confident and comfortable alone on your own two feet again. You don’t feel like there’s something missing. You don’t feel like you’ve forgotten something, or that something (or someone) has forgotten you. Essentially, you become self-absorbed again (wahoo!). You stop spending your time thinking about that person, and you start re-investing the time and energy you spent on them into yourself. It’s not all “me, me, me” (but a good part is), but you’ll find once you’re in a better place internally, you end up sharing all that love and attention with the people around you as well!
Step one is simple: recognise thought patterns. Catch yourself every time you think of them and redirect that thought. If you pick up an old shirt that you love and think “oh I can’t wear this, I wore this the first time x happened” catch yourself. Catch yourself every time you’re holding back from something you love because of this person, because of this breakup, and then don’t let it hold you back. Wash the shirt, and when it’s clean: Kon-Mari fold that shit, thank that shirt for being a cute shirt, and put it on … or put it into the drawer until you feel ready to put it on and not let it constantly remind you of them. Bottom line: we are not getting rid of perfectly good things that we love just because we’ve taken that goodness and put it into the hands of someone who turned it sour. We are taking that energy back.
Anytime you’re out having a lovely day, a common habit when you’re in love is to think “oh what would we be doing if we were here together”, or “I can’t wait to tell them about this later.” They’re sweet thoughts, until you’ve gone through a break-up. Afterwards, they’re a constant reminder, a grey, cloudy shadow of heartbreak looming over you. Recognise it when you have those thoughts and make a conscious effort to let them go and be more present. Focus on the physical things around you, take them in, take a mental photograph of all of the loveliness that is existing around you without that person. There are beautiful, good things that can be found in solitude. Plus, finding a sense of peacefulness and joy in a moment of alone time is so powerful. You’ll come away from it with more confidence in your independence.
Next step: start reinvesting in yourself. Not necessarily taking treat yo-self to the next level. Sure, buying something nice for yourself is always nice, but I mostly mean taking up new hobbies. Make moves to try new things and reinvent yourself into the person you want to be in your head. Start to physically spend the time, money, and energy you used to spend on that person on yourself. Start to do the things you didn’t do before because you were spending your energy elsewhere. Do the things that you see others do on Instagram or Youtube and you always think “that looks like so much fun, I should try that.” You might end up hating it, but it’s a new experience to have alone in your independence, and you’ll come away from it knowing more about yourself, and hopefully feeling better about yourself.
I distinctly remember the boy I dated many years ago telling me I ‘had no hobbies’, so after we broke up I started running again, and I took up pottery, and I made moves to ask people to hang out with me and go to events and do new things. It was the best. I loved pottery. Running and pottery both were great forms of meditation and great for my mental health. Meeting up with new friends taught me that I could easily make new friends, and I would have people to do new things with whether or not I had a romantic partner. Did I start doing it out of spite? Kind of. But I also wanted to be that person who didn’t let a break up break them, I wanted to prove that the hurt just motivated me to do better, and that the loss wasn’t really a loss at all. I was determined to thrive, so I did.
Step three is to take your emotional spring cleaning beyond romance. Break ups are another great time to spend some time reassessing your friendships. So many people ditch their friends for their partner over a long-term relationship; it’s a tale as old as time. The first relationship I had, I was so incredibly guilty of having neglected my friends. I came out of it realising I had only one friend, my now-former boyfriend. The break-up brought exceptional solitude. If you find yourself in this position: fear not, it is never, ever too late to recognize your wrongs and right them. Apologies are good, people! And if you owe someone an apology, you should give it, whether or not you intend (or they intend) to continue on being friends! If you don’t find yourself in this position, a break-up is still a good time to reassess a friendship.
Break-ups are so difficult for so many people (duh), but they really bring out the true colours of a lot of friends. You need to be careful of asking too much of your friends — seriously. They weren’t a part of your relationship, and your friendship shouldn’t now become about the break-up, or the former relationship. You should be spending time with people who hear you out, but who also make you happy! You should be able to be talking about other things and having a good time in a safe and understanding environment. You should also put yourself out there to make new friends with people who don’t know the you of the ‘you and them.’
I maintain that the best friends are those who know when to hold your hand, and when to push you to learn how to handle things on your own. No one should be holding your hand entirely through a break up, and you shouldn’t expect them to. They should be there when you need them, but ideally, you won’t need them constantly. It’s time to learn how to be on your own again, you shouldn’t be trying to replace your partner with a friend.
It’s come to my attention recently that there are loads of people out there that I should have been better friends with. We have common interests, we do similar things, we get along well when we see each other, but I’ve always felt like I shouldn’t try to make someone my friend. What else are you supposed to do though?! There’s no shame in asking someone to do something. It’s like friendship dating. There’s no pressure to become best friends right away, it’s just about taking your mind off of things for a bit to have a good time! And you might just find a new lifelong friend in the process.
Hello, hello! It’s been awhile since I posted on here about anything other than dating. There have been other things going on in my life, but you guys are just oh so enthusiastic about the Carrie Bradshaw-esque writing that I’ve been keeping up with the series. Other sections of my life have been going swimmingly: I’ve been spending loads of time with new and inspiring creative pals, I’ve been working (not being paid much if I’m honest), I’ve been trying to get on top of my “life-admin” in the UK — registering with a Dr, trying to get a bank account, other boring adult stuff. I’ve also been writing. A lot. More than you’ve seen on here. I’ve been writing poetry day in and day out and it’s brought me oh so much joy that I started to share it on Instagram, every sunday, through #sabrinaspoetrysundays. Here is my new and improved version, on Patreon – ArcticSabrina.
In my humble opinion, poetry is making a comeback. It’s coming back and it’s better than ever because it’s more accessible than ever. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Keats and some Plath, but I think there’s a reason why people like Rupi Kaur and Orion Carloto are connected with so many people — their poetry is straightforward. It’s easy to read and find meaning in. I love Rupi Kaur, and I love instagram and tumblr poets who write what you’re thinking, how you’re thinking. So I started writing that. I realised I didn’t need to hold myself to some unattainable poetic standard that I couldn’t quite place, and I just started writing what and how I wanted to write instead.
Like I said, I’ve been sharing on Instagram, and I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback there! That being said, I’m finding that Instagram isn’t the best platform for my poetry. There’s not enough space. Not enough space to really share enough behind the poetry, and I suppose sometimes that’s good, but people are asking and they want to know and I want to share. There’s not enough space to really connect with people who are there to read what I’m writing — they’re getting to know me, but I’m not getting to know them unless they send me a message. And, it’s just not dedicated to my poetry. My Instagram is about me, my many facets of work, my lifestyle in Edinburgh, my dating life, my friendships, and so, so much more. I wanted to find somewhere I could create a community just around the poetry, and then I thought of Patreon.
The drawback to Patreon for us is that it’s tier-based, which means you have to pay a fee to join the community. The money goes to the creator (me) with a percentage paid to the company (Patreon). Generally, this isn’t a drawback. This is how big creatives like Humans of New York (HONY) create funds to give back to those they work with, and/or financially support themselves through their art.
Financially supporting myself through poetry isn’t even on the radar, that’s not why I’m here. That being said, it’s not going to be pocket change, it’ll be siphoned off to support the (maybe!!) self-publishing of a poetry book some day soon. If I can make it happen. I’m trying to make it happen, but finances are a big part of making it happen, so the Patreon system does work for me. But I know it doesn’t work for everyone.
Not everyone who might be curious about the community will have the money to join the tier – even though I’ve set it at the lowest possible cost ($1/month). Trust me, I know that loads of Internet users are not in the position to join, that’s completely fine. I will be publicly sharing poetry-based things through Patreon as well! You can follow my Patreon without paying to be a patron, and you can also follow my Instagram for the usual weekly poem, and the occasional mid-week poem.
If you DO join the community, you get access to all kinds of great stuff (playing fast and loose with the definition of great). You’ll have fresh new Patreon-only poems brought to you bi-weekly (minimum), but I’ll also be sharing insight into the behind-the-scenes of the poetry writing process. I’ll be sharing inspiration, where I’m writing, when I’m writing, how I’m writing, how I’m editing, and so on and so forth. Would also very much like to crowd-source some inspiration from you guys, very much like how Nina Nesbitt asked fans for stories and then wrote songs based off of them. Basically, it will be a community of friendship based around poetry. I’m picturing virtual hand holding in a circle in a field, intermittently making flower crowns and dancing ceilidh dances. There are only ten spots because I’d like to have it very close-knit and not too overwhelming (and because let’s face it, there won’t be more than 10 people who want to join right now).
If you are curious and/or would like to be one of the 10 to join the community, head over to ArcticSabrina on Patreon. Explore my page, explore Patreon, and make an informed decision on whether or not you’d like to be one of my patrons!
Are you a Patreon user? I’m very new to the game. I only first heard of it earlier this year through Orla Gartland!
I’ve been thinking about the question of how you meet people a lot lately. Half of the people I’ve dated I’ve known for awhile before we started dating, whether that be through work, or school, or hobbies. The other half are people I met off-chance and hit it off with. In both cases, it felt more like I knew that person in some capacity before we started dating, because we didn’t meet and the intention wasn’t immediately the possibility of a relationship of some sort (or was it?). Now that I’ve been frequenting the Tinder, I’m curious about how people date people. Just in GENERAL, but also specifically, why is it so, so weird to date someone you don’t really know? We’ve covered topics like: do I really want to be dating, and how am I going to know if I like them romantically, but we’ve never covered the ‘how do you even get to know someone you don’t know when all of your meetings are in the date-structure?’. There’s a romantic interest. There’s an intention. How do you get to know someone as both a person, and a potential partner, when you start completely from scratch?
In my mind, there are three routes to dating.
1: You’re friends first, you know each other at least a little bit if not very well. You realise you have feelings, you ruminate, someone makes a move, you date.
2: You meet organically, maybe through friends or family or at an event, you talk, sparks fly. Maybe it’s someone you’ve met before, you have mutual friends, you know of them but you don’t really know them, until the time you properly meet and you realise just you have a vested interest in them now. By your first date, the intention is there, you’re only on the date because you already knew there was something there.
3: You’re just putting yourself out there, you’re on dating apps because no matter how many parks you sit in reading looking cute, no one approaches to ask what you’re reading (come on!). You go on dates with strangers, you maintain the “no expectations” rule going into the dates, and you wonder how you’re ever supposed to meet someone this way. Are you supposed to wait until you meet someone you have an instant connection with? Sometimes you meet someone interesting, so you date, but you still find yourself on the second or third date wondering what the intention is, who this person is, and at what point you’re supposed to start having expectations. You… just continue to date?
For a long time I was firmly in the camp that dating someone you know is ideal, because you know their positive traits and their… less positive traits, and you like them anyways. You don’t feel the need to impress them, you can continue enjoying each other’s company, but with some added romantic benefits. Ideal, right? I’m starting to think not so much. There’s still a lot of idealisation that goes on here, especially if you’ve harboured feelings for awhile. Plus the added complexity of “where is this going? what if it doesn’t work out?” There’s a lot of immediate pressure when you date someone you already know, and there’s a lot of opportunity for disappointment because expectations can be so high. Beyond this, if you have mutual friends the pressure is ON because there are so many eyes watching, wondering how it will go.
I started out thinking the second route might be the best. The person already knows of you, they know some things about you (hopefully mostly good, but maybe also some bad), so you’re not starting completely from scratch. You at least have some sort of background, some sort of idea of the type of person they are. Plus, you know what you’re on the date for. You know there is an interest involved, you have some expectations, but there’s not the pressure of you already being friends and knowing each other well, and there’s not the pressure of you having to figure out whether or not you’re really too interested (but isn’t it always there?).
Now, I’m starting to grow biased towards the third. I crowd-sourced on this one recently, and asked who had dated someone they didn’t know at all before they started dating, and what they thought. I’ve used Tinder, and I’ve met a whole of two out of the many people I’ve talked to on Tinder. The first time famously went incredibly average. I have a knack for not putting my best foot forward, and I left the date feeling like I really hadn’t sold myself very well, and that I didn’t want to have to sell myself to someone and make myself seem interesting to them, so I deleted the app. Many moons later, I re-downloaded, and it took an exceptional profile and a few good chats for me to meet up with another person. Safe to say, he was not at all what I expected (I always break the no expectations rule, by the way, I just can’t help it).
Now the problem with Tinder dating and meeting up with people you don’t know at all is that you have absolutely no clue what that person is like. Even if they have cute pictures, they could end up looking slightly different (hopefully not too much), or they could be much quieter, or more provocative in person than they seemed online. It’s not quite the same as online dating that you’d find with people who met through Instagram, or Twitter, because Tinder and other dating apps can be very catered and less personal. Plus, when you’ve met on Tinder and then you meet up, you both know it’s a date, unless it was otherwise specified.
On top of this, the average person will be putting their best foot forward on a first date. They’ll want to seem like they have it all together, they’ll want to downplay any parts of their life that aren’t working out, they want to seem like the ideal version of themselves (can’t relate lol). It’s almost encouraging you to idealise them, but in this case it just means it will take more time to draw their personality out. And honestly, very rarely are you going to rush into things with someone you’ve met on the internet (unless that’s what you’re looking for). From what I’ve done personally, and what I’ve seen friends do, we are so much more cautious, and naturally take things infinitely slower with people we’ve met on dating apps. It takes time to get to know someone, and it takes time to know if you like them.
The other problem with dating a stranger is that, naturally, you have absolutely no idea whether or not you will be attracted to them. You might think you have an idea, but because you’ve never met them and they could end up being rather unexpected, it’s hard to say. Plus, it’s also hard to say whether or not they’ll be attracted to you. Let’s face it, talking to strangers is weird for a lot of people. It’s even weirder when it’s a date, you’re trying to get to know them and you’re trying to get to know if you like them all wrapped into one. Dating from a completely blank slate is so strange. You don’t know them, you don’t know if you like them, but you know that maybe you might? So you keep dating.
There are worse people to be, I suppose. (Spoiler alert: she gets a happy ending). That being said, I think I and every other woman who has read Pride & Prejudice fancy themselves to be a strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet, a take no shit and fend for yourself and love will find it’s way type of girl. Recently, my cousin admitted to having a hard time showing affection for someone she was romantically interested in and I scoffed and called her a Jane Bennet (For context: Jane doesn’t show her affection well and so her love interest is persuaded to believe she’s not interested, loses hope on her and leaves). Three days later, I have realised, as it turns out, I am also a Jane Bennet.
Last time on my Carrie Bradshaw series I wrote about how I’m not sure where the line is drawn between getting to know someone and leading them on. Now, I know my experience with Tinder dating is limited, but let me put it this way: I went on a date that wasn’t horrible and/or incredibly awkward. I thought he was sweet and cute and I wanted to get to know him more. So naturally, I then played aloof and cool and pretended I was waaaaaaay more disinterested than I was just… because? I think people do this in all walks of life though, but I will say it’s especially apparent in dating.
A lot of times we’re taught to be ‘too cool’ for certain things, and my habit of catastrophizing all dating scenarios has taught me to be too cool to show any kind of romantic interest in anyone ever because I: A. fear rejection, and B. fear having to reject someone if I change my mind.
So. My friend (/cousin/penpal) is a big time Jane Bennett. She holds her feelings close to her chest, always has, and is trying to break out of the habit. I told her (previous to my Tinder date), to just send little signals, touch his arm when you’re saying something or laughing at something, just little things that suggest that you’re feeling something more than platonic feelings to them. Then I went on my date and I promptly also treated the entire situation as a total and utter Jane Bennett.
Then I told her what I had done and I couldn’t understand why. I’m pretty comfortable at self-expression. I’m rarely embarrassed by my feelings because I have so many, but it’s strange when it’s with someone you don’t know, and you don’t know what they’re feeling or what you’re feeling. After being pretty indifferent about the date initially, I realised I wanted to see him again, and I didn’t want to wait for him to ask me out, and I wasn’t sure that he would, so I asked him. We went out again and AGAIN I Jane Bennett-ed the situation. Not one arm-touch.
Give me some credit as it was only the second time I had met him ever, so I don’t feel like it’s necessarily sending the message that I didn’t show an explicit romantic interest, but at the same time I’m kicking myself because I really did have such a lovely time and I really do have an explicitly romantic interest in him now. And I’m not sure that he knows that. Because I didn’t. Touch. His. Arm. Ugh.
More often the scenario is this: you start dating someone you vaguely already know. You’re in the so-called ‘ambiguous’ area where you’re seeing what dating that person is like. You get to the point where you’re into them, you know you’re into them, and yet they refuse to make a move. They go on date after date, you have a great time, and there’s not a single hand hold, kiss, arm-touch (I’m taking the arm touching too far now but I think it’s funny). Then you get to the “ok well what are we doing here?” point in the relationship. Are they not interested? Or worse, do they want you to be the one to make the first move?
This may be TMI. But I have made this mistake before. I have gotten fed-up waiting for a first kiss, and made the first move, thus placing myself (apparently) into the dominant slot in that relationship dynamic. If that is the position you would like to be in, well done for you, however, it is not the position I want to be in. I don’t mind if we have a more equal give and take, but I don’t want to set some sort of sexual standard by making the first move. I want to be woo-ed. Please, dear lord, make me swoon. It doesn’t take much, I swear. Now I know this is a rare situation and nine times out of ten it’s completely fine to be the first person to make a move, probably they’re just too nervous and once it’s done they’ll get more comfortable and everything just flows normally. However. Given my past experiences with this scenario, I now refuse to be the first kisser.
In sum: I’m playing indifferent and aloof even though I’m not, and I refuse to make it up to them by kissing them. So arm-touching and hand holding is all I’ve got I guess. We’ll just see if there’s another date, and if on said date I feel like it’s okay for me to make one of those moves. Seemed too soon on the second time meeting someone? For some reason I’ve bought into the third date rule (that a third date is usually when it’s like, alright we’re committed and interested in each other enough to go home together), and here I am (maybe) going on third dating with the “Ok so is it okay if I touch his arm?” outlook. Such a Jane Bennett. Someone send help.
PS. We are now at the fifth/sixth(?) date, and I touched his arm enough that he finally kissed me (I did also tell him I wanted him to kiss me). Does this mean I’m over my Jane Bennett phase? Do we just need to get past it or break the ice and then it goes away? Is this a persistent problem for any of you? Feel free to browse around my ‘Carrie Bradshaw Series’ to read more about my qualms with romance.
It became inordinately warm here in Edinburgh in FEBRUARY. The winter itself has been incredibly mild. I don’t think it’s ever been colder than -3 celsius. Incredible, if you ask me, but my relationship with existentialism and global warming has taken a hit as a result. Separate but related thought: one thing I’ve started doing recently is trying to use accessories to change up my outfits. I have a bit of a capsule wardrobe since I moved with only one suitcase, and I try not to spend too much money on consumerism and fast fashion. Instead of buying tons of new clothes here, I’ve bought little accessories to try to fancy up outfits, and create more outfit options to create with what I own. Even when I moved, I brought with me not one, but two neck scarves. One suitcase, two neck scarves. I love them.
And yet, I didn’t wear them until now. I was headed out on a warm but windy day, and my outfit just looked a little incomplete. It wasn’t a particularly nice outfit, it was one of those that looks jumbled and thrown together, but vaguely cool in a hipster sort of way. I had put my black headband on to try to make it look cooler and more intentional, and then I thought, why not add my neck scarf? I didn’t like having the tie in the front, or off to the side, so I just faced it backwards and I … actually genuinely liked how it looked?
I walked around the West End in New Town feeling very cool indeed and I had a grand day. It was one of those days where you just FEEL like you look good. I think this was in no small part due to the neck tie … but also the fact that I was wearing winged eyeliner (that stuff is like armour, I swear, I’m invincible in winged eyeliner). Even better was that the neck scarf actually made a difference in terms of warmth. For context, I was wearing:
Top: Blue, off the shoulder H&M top, covered by my Topshop sweater
Trousers: Urban Outfitters BDG black overalls
Jacket: Thrifted jean (originally from Walmart I think lol)
Shoes: Grey high top Converse, they have holes in them but I refuse to get rid of them
…And that was all. In February. While it was warm (probably around 10-13 degrees), it was windy. The scarf kept the chill off my neck more than expected and I felt warm to a comfortable degree all day long.
So last week, when it was a sunny and warm day (14-15 degrees) and I was taking the train off to Wallyford to explore the seaside with my friend Abbi (@woollyjumperweather on Instagram), I decided to whip out my other neck scarf. (All the photos of me in this outfit were taken by her). This neck scarf is blue satin and I rarely wear it. The silkiness makes it slip out of my hair, and come apart a bit; it actually has a safety pin in it to stop it from unfolding. The day came and I was determined to make use of what I had, so I put it on. For context, I was also wearing:
Top: tank top under my clothing exchange men’s woolly jumper (fitting for an afternoon with Abbi)
Trousers: Corduroys that my mommy bought me from the Real Canadian Superstore. They’re Joe Fresh.
Jacket: My trusty thrifted Walmart jean jacket
Shoes: Blundstones! What else could I wear to the seaside?
It was significantly sunnier and warmer than it usually is that day, but being by the seaside there was (of course) a breeze. I can’t express how great the neck scarf is against a breeze. I work outside day in and day out, and my throat PAYS FOR IT. I constantly get colds and coughs and a scratchy throat because Edinburgh is WINDY. The neck scarf just protects you against the wind…. and makes you look very cute in a very French and hipster-esque sort of way. Also. I got to meet Abbi’s dog Fly that day. It was a great day. I promptly texted all of my family and friends to tell them about him. He’s great. He’s big and calm and cute and so very polite. His name is Fly. You can see in the pictures just how much I love Fly.
So this is my message to you: neck scarves may be trendy, but they’re also practical so you should definitely invest in one. Also. If you have a dog in Edinburgh, please, I beg of you, let me pet it.
ALSO! In honour of spring I posted a new poem, I’ve started doing this thing on my Instagram where every Sunday I challenge myself to write and share a poem, and recently I shared one called ‘spring’ which I feel would also be appropriate to share here. The spring weather has made me come alive again after the dark and cold winter months. The winter blues got to me big time this year, but since the weather has turned and the days have gotten longer I’m making new friends and spending more time outside participating in life again. This poem is about not losing that hope that the good days will return.
How I, An Incredibly Anxious Traveller, Solo Travelled Through Bulgaria
Nobody really asks, but I can see their eyes secretly wonder “why” when I tell someone I’m travelling to Bulgaria for a little holiday. The short answer is … I don’t really know. It wasn’t because I have some ever-present burning desire to visit Bulgaria. My going to Bulgaria was just a holiday booked on a whim, because Ryanair had a sale. It ended up working out well, but I didn’t have many expectations, let alone knowledge about Bulgaria before I went. I booked it quite simply because I had never been before, and because I had never thought about going. Usually people opt for the opposite.
The short of it is: I booked this holiday because I was homesick. I was still at home when homesickness struck. I was looking out at seven months without a hug from my mom, seven months without laying eyes on my dad, or my dog, or my sisters or brother. Seven months of solitude in Scotland, before my family planned to visit in July — planned but had not (and still have not!) booked yet. And I was sad, and I already missed everyone, and I wanted to go to New York over March Break, so I could meet up with my mom and sister. (It’s cheaper to fly to New York than Thunder Bay, not cheap, but cheaper).
Then, my sister told me not to. Not because she didn’t want me there but because, in her words: “If you live in Europe you should be going somewhere in Europe that you’ve never been to before, and take advantage of how close you are to new places, and how cheap it is to travel, rather than spending a lot of money to going across the Atlantic to somewhere you’ve been to tons of times.” So I went to Skyscanner and I saw a cheap flight to Sofia and I thought, ‘huh, I’ve never thought about going to Bulgaria before,’ and then I booked it.
The flight cost me 52GBP. I then started looking at Airbnbs and came across the most beautiful little apartment, with glowing reviews, for $32CAD/night and booked it. I was set. A little holiday in Sofia, Bulgaria. I pictured old Soviet style buildings mixed in with Orthodox churches. I envisioned a quaint, old town style city that was quiet, calm, and comfortable.
I started to look into things to do and realised I could do day trips to Macedonia and Serbia! I realised how close Sofia is to other Balkan countries and immediately started looking into getting my International Drivers Permit so I could rent a car and road trip. I looked at doing the day trips, but they were too pricey for one person (I’m talking like three hundred pounds!). I went through the process. I took passport pictures, I sent them to my dad, he took them to CAA, he got my IDP, he sent it to me, I booked a car. I planned on spending a day in Sofia, and then doing day trips to Skopje, Niš, and Thessaloniki. And then I got to the rental pick up and they said I couldn’t cross borders. Cool.
As planned, I spent my first day in Sofia. It was weird. I remembered as I was leaving that, while I haven’t been really badly anxious in awhile, I have a long history of travel anxiety. Exactly five years ago I was just south of Bulgaria, in Greece. It was a school trip, and I almost didn’t go because I was so anxious. I spent seven months before that trip going to counselling specifically so that I could go on it. I threw up the morning we left, I spent the day crying to my family in Toronto, and then I got on the plane headed overseas, and in the end I was fine. The first time I actually properly travelled alone was in October 2018, when I went hiking in Ireland. Except one of my closest friends lives in Dublin, so it hardly counts because I knew I could go to her if I needed her.
And then I found myself alone in Bulgaria, apparently in my homesick, adventurous spirit state, I forgot to factor in my anxiety disorder. Weirdly, it was relatively OK. I walked around the city centre, I bought postcards, I sat in the sun, in a park, I went and got coffee, I sat in the park some more. I bailed on all of my walking tours because my feet hurt, (but lowkey because I was afraid to talk to people) and I went back to my Airbnb early. I ate granola and yogurt for dinner because I was too stressed to go out and try to tackle the language barrier to get myself a proper dinner. Try again tomorrow.
The second day I picked up my car. I went for groceries at Lidl and then I tackled the metro, taking it out to the airport, and then I realised I could easily have just managed with the metro alone. But the car was already booked, so off I went! I picked up the keys, sat in the drivers seat, gave myself a pep talk, reminded myself of the ‘how to drive in a roundabout’ videos I had watched on Youtube the night before, started the ignition and drove off. And it. Was. Fine. Since I couldn’t cross borders, I drove to the Rila Monastery. Tucked into the mountains, it’s one of the oldest (maybe the oldest) Orthodox monastery in the world. I’m not religious, I was raised Catholic, and I don’t majorly care about these things but I thought it might be cool so I went. And it was cool.
Alternate Title: Be Still My Foolish Heart? (Anything to drag Hozier into my chats)
I’m not talking about unrequited love, I’m talking about how we create crushes on people we don’t *really* have an actual interest in. You might think you don’t do this, but I promise you know someone who does. People far and wide that I’ve talked to do this thing where we fixate on someone we know we can’t have. We harbour these little (or big) crushes on people who are long since gone, maybe they live in another city, maybe they’re in a relationship. Regardless, we’re only interested because they’re off limits. We’re not harassing them, or being a problem for their relationship, chances are they have absolutely no idea we harbour feelings for them at all, we do it for entirely selfish reasons. We do it, mostly, so that we can think romantic thoughts without having to deal with the actual anxieties and stressers of having feelings for someone.
In my case, I never showed an interest in the person who I later, having moved to Scotland, decided I had a big crush on, when I lived in the same city as them. I was actively uninterested in them the entire time I knew them in Canada, and once I left I found myself thinking oh actually they’re great and wouldn’t they make such a great partner? In reality, there are a wealth of people around me who would also make wonderful partners, but I’m too focused on this person in a far off land, that I’m not genuinely interested in, to bother looking around me. The best part: when I went home at Christmas my crush disappeared. Not the actual person, but my crush, the actual feelings I had just disappeared, I had no interest in seeing them or knowing what they were up to. As soon as I was in the airport going home I was like hey? What’s going on? Why did that happen? And why am I NOW only just starting to think romantically about them again? Seriously?!
In part, this is why when I came back to Scotland I initially was off of all dating ever. And then why I re downloaded Tinder. It’s time for me to stop harbouring feelings for someone I don’t have a genuine interest in (even writing this I’m thinking…but do I?) I also started talking to people about this. I have one friend who I *KNOW* does this. I’ve known for years and as soon as I started doing it I texted her and was like “oh my god it’s happening.” But then as I talked more and more to other people, it turns out this is something we ALL DO.
I know multiple people who have done this for years. People who harbour some sort of questionable crush on someone who treats them poorly, or who shows no interest in them, or who wouldn’t be at all what they’re looking for if they actually dated, just because it’s a convenient thing to do. Convenient is maybe the wrong word. They do it mostly out of habit at this point, maybe originally something happened to make them thing “huh, they’re cute”, but they never acted on it. Usually it’s someone where it would be weird or inappropriate now, a family friend or someone from a close knit friend group. I think for them, it’s born more out of habit than anything else. It also gets complicated for us when we then start to date someone, and you’re forced to contend with this long-held habit of ruminating over someone you probably don’t actually like, it feels weird to always have this sort of idea of a person on the back-burner, waiting to come back to if the actual relationship you’re in now doesn’t work out.
Is this the adult version of having a crush on celebrity? Do you remember when you were a teen and were convinced you would marry a Jonas Brother, (or whoever was really cool and hot to you as a teen)? As much as I joke about Hozier, I don’t do this with celebrities anymore, but apparently now I do it with people who I actually know? I don’t convince myself we’ll get married, but I spend the time I used to spend thinking about celebrities now thinking about crushes and wondering what they’re doing, or what it would be like if they were here.
So what do we do? Coming clean about our feelings seems redundant because I’m 100% sure in my situation, and about 75% sure in the situations that my friends are in, that we don’t really have feelings for them. Is it just a question of catching yourself having the thoughts and trying to quell the habit? Is it really a harmful thing? Do we really have to do anything about it if it’s not harming anyone? If it’s not holding you back from dating, or if you don’t want to be dating, is it okay to continue down this path of slightly confusing behaviour? Or, is it just an innocent form of escapism?
Have you been in this position and moved past it? I imagine I could, but I think I would always remember in the deep of my subconscious this little inkling of feelings towards that person, or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’m just thinking this because last night I had a gin-fuelled dream that he married one of our friends from uni. And the queen was in attendance. And I was the only person there who was unhappy about the whole thing.
PSA: If you are harbouring this type of a crush for me, I have sad news for you, the person I am talking about in this article is probably definitely not you. Also, if we live on other sides of the Atlantic, it’s not going to work out. Also, I met someone here that I quite fancy so sorry, you should have come across the Atlantic sooner.
Have you done this? Do you have advice? Do you want to read more about my chaotic approach to dating? Feel free to browse around my ‘Carrie Bradshaw Series’.