August Readings

Every summer my ultimate goal is to read for pleasure. Doing an English Literature degree I can get swamped down by reading the classics so, love to take the time in summer to read anything I want. This summer, sadly, I swapped reading by a pool to reading before/after shifts at work. I didn’t get as much read as I would have liked but, the books I did read have been the best i’ve read all year. I thought I would do a quick review of each one and encourage you to pop them on to your reading lists!!

‘Caught’ Harlan Coben | Thriller, Crime | 3.5/5
Back in June I read ‘The Woods’ by Harlan Coben in one sitting. It was a proper page turner and I was eager to read another. Caught follows the events after a seventeen girl goes missing and, a reality tv show exposes a man they believe to be a sexual predator. What I loved more than anything was that there are crossovers between characters, i’ve only ever read two Coben novels but would love if all of them link through characters. It took me a little while to get into this novel compared to The Woods but oh my gosh once it gets going- you will not put this book down. Coben must be one of the most talented thriller writers of our generation- you must read his novels. If reading really isn’t your thing, Coben’s novels have been remade into multiple netflix series. ‘Safe’, ‘The Stranger’ and over lockdown Netflix even uploaded a Polish mini-series adaptation of ‘The Woods’.

‘Half The World Away’ Mike Gayle | Heartfelt | 3/5
This book popped up in my Amazon recommended and I thought I would just go for it (it had such a pretty cover). The story follows a brother and sister, separated when they were children by social services. Gayle splits the narrative between Kerry and Noah as you watch how their very different lives lead them back to each other. I reached the final chapters and just sobbed. Without even realising it I fell in love with Gayle’s characters and found myself heartbroken in the end. It’s heart wrenching but simultaneously completely uplifting. It’ll make you want to hold those you love most tight to your chest.

‘This Is Going To Hurt’ Adam Kay | Non Fiction | 5/5
I don’t know how to put into words how I feel about this book. It is just superb. In our current circumstances this book highlights exactly why we need to throw ourselves behind our beautiful NHS. I delighted in being able to read out the gory, grizzly tales Kay documents to my mum and boyfriend. I’m not a big reader of ‘non-fiction’ I often find it much harder to settle into reading. Kay’s book is a work of genius. It made me laugh, shriek, cry and fill with love (simultaneously) on nearly every page. I realise i’m so late to the party on this one but, now that I’ve read it I will forever urge anyone I meet to go read it. A masterpiece.

‘The Giver Of Stars’ Jojo Moyes | Romantic, Fiction | 4/5
My mum has not shut up about this book since she read it and from the first couple of chapters it was quite clear why. Moyes bases her story on the real Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky who, in depression-era America, rode on horseback to deliver books to the people of Kentucky. Moyes delivers a heartwarming narrative which above anything else highlights the beauty of female friendships. Topics such as racial abuse, mistreatment of women in a patriarchal society and domestic abuse make you wince and turn red with anger. I felt like I needed to scream at times I was just so unbelievably angry by the events that take place. I think that’s why I loved this book so much, it made me feel. It made me feel really bloody strongly and left me afterwards still reeling from the story. It’s a majestic narrative that would be suited for a big screen adaptation.

Where The Crawdads Sing’ Delia Owens | Romantic, Thriller | 5/5
I read this in two hours. I saw everybody and anyone talking about this on instagram and twitter so felt it was only right to see what the hype was about. Oh my gosh, the most beautiful book i’ve read in a long time. I completely fell for Kya as a character. I adore strong women and this is a strong literary female that should be marvelled at. It’s just wonderful. As an English Literature undergraduate I think it’s safe to say, i’m a huge romantic- what student of literature isn’t? Owens gives such a raw, honest, real portrayal of what it feels like to love. That gut wrenching surge of emotion that will give you everything you want or leave you alone in the marsh. For me, the sign of a powerful author is if the words on a page can fully absorb the reader. I felt every single emotion alongside Kya. For the two hours that I sat with that book in my hands, there was no difference between myself and the protagonist. I was in the story, I was Kya and with every page I turned I fell deeper and deeper into the trance. I think Owens has written a timeless piece of literature and that’s pretty rare nowadays.

Other books read since I came home from university in March include ‘Normal People’ (5/5), ‘Conversations With Friends’ (4/5), ‘Our Zoo’ (3/5), ‘The Woods’ (5/5), ‘Miss Austen’ (3/5), ‘Caging Skies’ (4/5), ‘The Testaments’ (3/5) and ‘Northanger Abbey’ (3/5). Going to go mourn a little bit now over the fact it’s back to the hard-core detailed reading of the Durham Uni English Literature lecture books but, i’m super excited to be honest about the narratives featuring this year. I’ve chosen to study American Fiction and Romantic Literature, very different and both full with such interesting novels. What have you all read this summer? Leave a comment below or come chat to me over on my Instagram (navigating_twenties). Till then, sending you a lotta love as always.
Al x

The Reality Of Being A Graduate by Steph Allman

Hey lovelies and welcome back to the Navigating Twenties Club. The prospect of entering into my final year at university brings on the sweats for me currently. My mind is constantly imagining so many nightmare scenarios that involve the last three years of my life being a huge waste. Graduating and entering into the ‘adult world’ freaks me out. So, when Steph sent over this post I was overjoyed. Reading Steph’s experience blanketed me in reassurance. Becoming a graduate is a terrifying prospect but, Steph’s post is the prime example of how that fear should motivate you. There’s one phrase within the post you’re about to read that hasn’t left my head since my first scan through of the post- ‘Make It Happen’. It’s time to take full control of my life and, thanks to Steph that no longer seems an impossible or horrifically daunting act. I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did. As always, read on till the end to access Steph’s links.

Who else remembers getting their A-Level results?

I remember speed walking into my sixth form with Mom. I was so desperate to find out what my results were, and the group of people crying over sub-par grades weren’t helping my anxiety one bit. I’d worked hard for ages to at least have the chance to go off to University.

Long story short, I got into my first choice; which was a degree in Journalism at the University Of Chester. I’ll be honest with you, at first, I went to University for the experience. To get away from my hometown and have the chance to reinvent myself. After a few short weeks, I came to visit my Mom with purple hair and a few hidden tattoos.

Okay, so I was a bit of a rebel. But that’s not the point.

I grew massively over my time at University. I learnt more about living than I ever did or probably ever will. I sometimes think I took it for granted, looking back I’d give anything to be having a BBQ in the garden with my friends at 4am.

As I entered the third year, I began to seriously worry about my future. My grades were excellent, and I was holding down multiple relevant jobs. But I was still worried that I wouldn’t thrive the way I wanted too.

Around the same time, I’d befriended a few thirty-somethings who were keen to help me transition to the world of adulting. During my final year, they told me many things about the first year after graduating.

‘Yeah, you’ll be depressed for 18 months at least’
‘You’ve still got loads of work left to do’
‘You don’t need your parents anymore’
‘Everyone is in the same boat’
‘This is where life starts”

Everyone was keen to put their penny in the jar on this one, so many comments were conflicting and contrary. I just decided to block them out and live the next year of my life my own way.

Looking back I’m so glad I did, It was a bumpy road, but It’s been so worth it. Would you believe it’s been a little over a year since my last exam? I think I’m ready to impart some real wisdom to the third years and graduates who are fretting about their future.

You’ll Find Out Your Real Friends!

It’s a sad one to start off with, but it’s true. As soon as I moved out of my third-year house, I lost touch with my housemates. Actually, that’s a lie, we send the obligatory “Happy Birthday” texts, but that’s it.

But that’s life. I made plenty of other friends throughout my time at University, and I’m happy to say I speak to them on a weekly/daily basis.

Try and think of it like that awkward week after freshers. Nobody needs to force themselves into friendship groups anymore and they just kind of trail off. The friends I still keep in touch with our amazing human beings. Instead of tearing me down, they lift me up, if someone isn’t doing that for you then they aren’t worth your time!

It’s Okay If You Don’t Get Hired Straight Away !

I was so determined to get a job before I graduated it was unreal. I signed up to countless agencies and applied for jobs whenever I had time.

But I still tried to make time for the things that mattered. I planned nights out with my friends, went to study groups together and made sure I still had fun.

I don’t think I would have forgiven myself if I didn’t make the most of being close to my mates. You wouldn’t too!

Even If You Do, It Doesn’t Have To Be Your Dream Role

This stuff takes time! Yeah, University is a valuable life experience and a handy stepping stone in life, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have your dream job before you’ve tossed your cap. Work hard, work your way up and then maybe you’ll get it.

Any Experience Is Good Experience

I learnt very quickly that it’s more about the skillset than the experience. Especially when it comes to entry-level work.

For example, I really wanted to go into PR. So I spent two years doing whatever I could for free. I helped organise networking events, wrote articles to promote local businesses and even worked on a campaign to help independents find new customers.  Yet I’ve had interviewers ask for more information on my approach to the task rather than how often I did it or who I spoke too. They wanted someone who had the balls to ask questions, take control and be listened to. 

Training almost always in place to help you get up to speed though. And more often than not, companies like the idea of moulding a graduate into their ideal employee.

You’re Not A Failure If You Move Home

I was adamant that moving home would mean that I’d failed at Uni. I was determined to get straight into what I thought was ‘grown-up’ life.

After finishing University, I took a job at a charity that I thought was my ‘dream role’ and it just didn’t go to plan. I was devastated when I had to hand in my notice for my tiny little flat. But if I’m honest, I think I’m pretty lucky that my Mom didn’t turn my room into a gym or something. I have the chance to save up a little money, and when the time is right, I’ll be able to support myself properly.

THIS Is Where It Begins (but you need to MAKE IT HAPPEN)

I wouldn’t change a single second of my University experience. As I said, it moulded me into a strong and motivated woman. But those were not my golden years, and I seriously doubt they will be yours.

A friend told me once that graduation is where your life starts, and I think she was right. But you can’t just sit around waiting for it to come for you.

In the past year, I’ve become a social media manager in a city with a fantastic circle of bloggers and creatives. I’ve worked with TV hosts and big companies, helping them get their name out there. I’ve started my own blog, and I’m working on starting my own business. I think it’s the first time in my life I’ve actually felt in control of my future and I’m loving it!

My advice is to be motivated and aggressive when it comes to reaching your goals. Life is what you make of it.

Find Steph At:

Instagram | http://www.instagram.com/stephwrites_stuff
Blog | http://www.stephwritestuff.co.uk

Coffee Chats | The Importance Of Saying NO

Not to spoil the illusion but at the time this is being published to the world, I will not be sat with a coffee but rather with a pint of diet coke and a pizza with two of my best girlies in Sheffield City Centre. The last couple of weeks have been a little bit tough to get through. I haven’t been feeling my best. In fact- in two weeks i’ve had about two full nights of sleep, my head has been filled with that much worry and stress. I think i’ve just reached a bit of a wall. I’m ready for a fresh start which will come with beginning my final year at university in September. I cannot tell you how excited I am to regain some of the independence I feel i’ve lost during lockdown. Originally this week’s chat was going to be a whole other topic but, with how i’m feeling at the moment I chose to do a switch up in my plan and share with you something i’m trying so hard to practice currently. A lot of my upset stems from the fact I get too scared to speak up about how I feel about something. I try so hard to please everybody. Most of my time i’m juggling several people’s wants and needs, trying desperately to find a solution that will keep everything spinning and everyone happy with me. The reality that’s dawned on me dramatically, specifically this year, is that it’s impossible. I cannot continue to place myself at the bottom of the pecking order. It’s time to begin taking more value in what I want- how can I expect to grow if I don’t?

I’m hoping that this week’s coffee chat gives you that little kick up the arse needed to begin recognising your own self-worth.
The necessary little word that unlocks that journey?
no.


I am a self-certified people pleaser. I would quite easily sacrifice my own mental wellbeing if it means doing something to please another. The word ‘No’ barely passes through my lips. I never want to let people down and, if I ever do it plagues my mind for at least several months- no joke. I cannot bear letting people down but, one thing I’ve had to learn over the last couple of years is that unfortunately you cannot avoid it. It’s impossible to please everybody. Impossible thus, to an extent, there is no point trying. In my first year at university I ripped my mental health to shreds because I was trying so hard to please a ridiculous amount of people. I sacrificed my own mental well-being yet, I still didn’t succeed in my mission to please everyone. That was a huge wake-up call for me. I wasted a year of my life feeling constantly exhausted, hiding from social events, studying to the point of breakdown to please people who walked out of my life anyway. It was a necessary and important life lesson so, obviously i’m going to share it with you.

Firstly, let’s just establish. Learning to say say no is you as an individual firmly understanding your self-worth. Do you recognise how valuable that is? To be able to have the confidence to refuse shows the value you’re willing to place into your self. Once you begin to build rather than break down your self-worth you’re opening yourself up to a multitude of opportunities. I have always been dependent on how other’s perceived myself in order to define my self-worth. Not being able to respect, value, love yourself means that you are already engaging in a losing battle when it comes to pleasing others. How can you live for others rather than yourself and expect to be happy? That was the question I had to repeatedly ask myself. I would put myself up for events, take part in conversations, go places, agree to things that made me feel beyond rubbish expecting that somehow that act of self-sacrifice would propel me into a state of feeling valued and happy as I was doing it for the benefit of others.

Not to sound horrifically dramatic but, my insistence to please led me down a path where I became too poorly. My mental-health has been in shreds for the last few years and a lot of that is down to the fact I was too afraid to say no. I let myself destroy my own wellbeing because I was too worried about what would be said about me if I did actively refuse. I think this frame of mind was built within school. Peer pressure is a killer and, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to open up to the people I was friends with about the reasonings why I may say no. In school those relationships are the centre of your world and, you think nothing could be more terrible than risking breaking them in any way. The thing is- I left school and those relationships fractured no matter how hard I tried to save them. Those relationships dying was inevitable, we were only ever friends out of convenience (sounds harsh but it is true). I just wish I could have had the power to foreseen that at sixteen, maybe it would have let ‘no’ tumble off my lips more often.

I’ve been practising (practising being the key word, i’m not an expert at it yet) saying NO for the last year or so and the major benefit noticeable to me has been that i’ve cultivated much healthier relationships. Having the confidence to admit no, that’s not for me allows you to deter all the angst that would have come if you had forced yourself along. By that I mean that inevitable guilt, worry, anxiety, frustration, stress that comes with that whole day of trying to force your way through the event. It allows you to engage in a much more open and honest conversation with the friend/family member/partner about why you don’t want to go/do whatever they’ve asked. In most cases, for myself, i’ve found that more often than not it leads you to doing an alternative option which makes you feel much more comfortable and builds on that relationship- removing the fear of how ‘no’ could break down the relationship.

In professional circumstances saying ‘no’ when you really feel you cannot do a job well or you do not feel comfortable shows your own integrity. Recently (literally last week) I refused an extra day of working because I just did not feel that I suited the child I would have been working with. I knew that another one of my colleagues would have been (and was) a much better partnership. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skill sets and, with a job as essential as the one I do (during holiday’s i work as a children’s support worker) I felt it was necessary to say no. I heard the words come out of my mouth and instantly my brain was in overdrive panicking about disappointing my boss, if I came across rude, if I was inept. All these thoughts spiralled round my mind to the point where I nearly didn’t hear my boss say that’s absolutely okay and, a smart suggestion. I was praised for my insistence to collaborate with work colleagues rather than accept a job I would have been worrying about all day. The praise I got afterwards gave me an overwhelming sense of empowerment.

As i’m getting older I’m realising more and more every day the importance of trusting your own instincts. Nobody knows yourself better than you. Trust that voice somewhere inside of you that’s telling you that for some reason or other- you do not want to do this thing. Trust yourself, empower yourself, value yourself. Until you begin to do so, you don’t even realise the amount of doors you open to yourself as you shut that single door behind you. Focus your time, energy and motivation on yourself just that little bit more. I’m not saying with this post that for the rest of your life you should never compromise or make a sacrifice again. I mean- you have to pick your battles. However, I strongly feel that so many people do not understand just how valuable putting yourself first will be to every aspect of your life.

I just wish…oh gosh, I wish so hard that i’d just started to say no years ago. The amount of unnecessary upset I actively put myself up for, especially throughout my teenage years, which I never received any sense of gratification for doing. I always told myself, just suck it up and do it- something good will come from it. The majority of the time though, it never did. All it left me with was upset, stress and a whole load of baggage i’m still trying to hack my way through today. There are still occasions where that instinct to please kicks in but, slowly but surely i’m learning. Slowly but surely, that little word is working it’s way into my vocabulary. I’m hoping that after reading this, the same will happen to you.

‘The Top Five Books Every Girl In Her Twenties Should Read’ by Amelia Haycock

After a short break the Navigating Twenties Club is back and, it’s back with a bang. Amelia reached out to me asking to write a post for the blog and as an English Literature nerd myself I was delighted when I saw the five books Amelia has listed below. Amelia summarises each book with an insightful eloquence that will have you heading straight to your nearest book shop. Read on till the end to access all of Amelia’s links. I hope you enjoy the post- Al x


Books, and the women who read them, have had a complex relationship for centuries. Initially, they were thought to create ‘hysteria’ in female readers, so were banned in certain places, then they were said to be the cause of women having ‘too many opinions’ amongst their male counterparts.

In the 21st century, it’s amazing how far women’s liberation has come; I often find myself thinking what I would do if I wasn’t able to read. For me, literature offers entertainment, education and has helped develop my moral compass as I have grown up. In times of stress or uncertainty, I know I can always look to books both non-fictional, and fictional, for guidance.

Since your twenties can be incredibly confusing at the best of times, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top 5 books all women should read!

Hopefully these can provide you with some entertainment, as well as maybe answering a few questions you’ve got about yourself and the world right now!

One | Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier

Du Maurier was ahead of her time. Period. Rebecca, now a timeless vintage classic, details the life of an innocent young woman, rushed into marriage with the newly widowed Maxim. Her life is everything she’s ever dreamt of, except for one thing- Rebecca.

The ghost of Maxim’s first wife metaphorically looms round their estate, with the memory of her stopping the narrator from truly connecting with her new husband. ‘Rebecca’ is the epitome of the gothic heroine, as the narrator matures throughout, facing various mysterious circumstances on her way.

Taking on gender roles, sexuality and the patriarchy all at once, Du Maurier explores jealousy and loss in an age bound by stereotypes.

I first came across Du Maurier when I was starting my A-Level’s and have been hooked ever since. For a classic novel, her style is incredibly easy to follow as well as the narrative keeping you on the edge of your seat continually! Deconstructing norms of the 20th century was never going to be comfortable, but Du Maurier makes does it with ease. For any woman in her twenties, this is a great place to start when it comes to your first classic.

Two | Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay

Surely by now you’ve heard of Feminism, maybe even consider yourself a feminist too. ‘Bad Feminist’ by Roxanne Gay explores what is so harmful with stereotypes surrounding the movement.

Considering herself a so-called ‘bad feminist’, she explains how she felt feminists were man-hating, militant women who were perfect in their politics; she, and so many of us, don’t fit into this box. So, what is feminism according to Gay? Supporting the movement, striving for equality and man-hating most definitely doesn’t come into it.

It’s being your imperfect self, whilst at the same time believing in equality and striving the removal of sexism from today’s society.

I definitely resonated with quite a few of her essays- they prompted me to think more about feminism in terms of race, politics and general society. Change and growth are two main things that are pretty much inescapable as you mature past your teenage years. 

Accepting this growth, as well as understanding you’re not alone, is one of the things that I’ve found from this book. Her honesty is compelling from start to finish.

Three | Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

‘Little Women’ is one of my more recent reads, but I have been a massive fan of Alcott’s since I dove into this book head first. It centres around the Marsh sisters- all complete opposites in personality. Newly impoverished during the civil war, they have to adjust to life without the certain ‘luxuries’ that they have become accustomed to. A tale of maturity, sisterhood and friendship, Alcott writes characters you’ll fall in love with. Watching them grow from young girls to mature ‘Little Women’ is an incredibly captivating journey- perfect for anyone maturing into adulthood themselves.

Four | Grown Ups, Marian Keyes

Keyes’s latest novel was only released a few months ago, but has sold thousands of copies since. Throwing you into a complex weave of relationships, Keyes explores the relationships of three brothers: Ed, Johnny and Liam and their wives and children. Seemingly perfect on the outside, their imperfections are exposed one day when Ed’s wife Cara gets a concussion and secrets come flooding out.

I fell In love with this novel, despite its complex multiple perspectives. It portrays life as we know it- gritty, complex and full of ups and downs, not heavily romanticised like so many novels. Sometimes, it can be all too easy to view people as ‘having it all’, but this book provides a well needed reality check for us all. 

Definitely the perfect read if you’re looking for an interesting plot development, as well as reminding yourselves life is can be a bit of a rollercoaster.

Five | The Sun and her Flowers, Rupi Kaur

Chances are if you’re a millennial you’ve heard of this book. It’s hard not to. The Sunday Times Best Seller has been devoured by individuals everywhere. Kaur explores growth, heartbreak and maturing through her collection, divided into five sections to highlight what each segment means to her. 

If you’ve never previously been into poetry, Kaur’s style is probably the one for you. Noticeably more simplistic, but yet just as effective, it is easier to follow along, watching her progress through various stages of emotional growth. 

Young women across the world have expressed their admiration for this collection on social media. Her work has been described as ‘vibrant’ and transcendent’ as she ‘finds a home within herself’- the perfect read to help you come to terms with your own individuality. 


Find Amelia at:
Instagram |
Blog |

Coffee Chats | Contraception

Ah, hello loves- welcome to my new little series. ‘Coffee Chats’ is exactly what it sounds like, except i’m not forcing you to drink coffee. Tea, Hot Chocolate, Water, Wine- whatever tickles your fancy. Grab your beverage of choice and settle into a comfy spot. Picture in your head, we’re out in a cosy little cafe (or a bar for those of you who opted for rosè) and we’re going to get d e e p into conversation about everything and anything. Each week we’re going to meet up and (hopefully) debunk all of those essential conversations that are often seen as perhaps ‘taboo’ or not the usual discussions. To kick it off with a bang, we’re going to have a natter about contraception.

Contraception | My Experience

I got my first contraceptive product in August 2018. I opted for the contraceptive implant- this is a small plastic tube that gets inserted into your arm. The implant constantly releases hormones meaning that you don’t have to do a thing. By that I mean it removes the stress of remembering to take your needed daily dose. The procedure- not as bad as you think it will be. It’s an injection that takes no more than 30 seconds. I, thankfully, didn’t experience any troubles with bruising or discomfort. My only initial issue was that I became very squeamish over the fact there was something alien within my body. The main decider for myself to get the implant fitted was that I entered into my first proper relationship. I wanted to ensure that I was in control over my body and, protect it as best I could from harbouring a baby. However, there had been multiple discussions for nearly a year beforehand about getting the implant fitted due to my h o r r e n d o u s periods. A doctor had suggested that the implant would reduce bleeding and eradicate all of the side effects that came with my time of the month (sickness, diarrhoea, headaches). However, the little bugger (for me) did not do anything at all to help my periods. In fact, it made them 1000X worse. Now, i’m not writing this to scare you. I got my implanted fitted at the same time as a friend and, for her the implant stopped her bleeds almost entirely. My body didn’t react well at all- I bled pretty much constantly for five months. Although I no longer have any pain or sickness the daily bleeding was not for me. So, January 2018 I got the implant removed.

For years i’d only ever heard horror stories with regards to the contraceptive pill. Stories such as it reducing fertility, instantaneous weight gain, horrific migraines- the list was endless. I was terrified of the pill so it took a lot of persuasion for me to agree to start taking it. I was given the brand Maxeni and despite all my fears- it’s worked like a dream for me. I feel quite lucky to say that I found the perfect ‘fit’ for me on my second try. Contraception is extremely personal to the individual, nothing will settle the same way as another. Unfortunately, contraception is more intrusive for women than is it for men. In fact, ‘more’ seems a wrong word. Contraception is intrusive for women, not for men. I think there is this unspoken pressure for girls/women to rush into quickly sourcing a long term contraceptive solution when they enter into a relationship. That’s fine, it’s smart and allows you to have some form of control over your body. However, this ‘pressure’ should not force you into making rash/sudden decisions about contraception and should not make you feel pressured to stick with it if it isn’t working for you.

Speaking UP About Contraception.

The most important conversation you can have when you first enter into a relationship, no matter the age, is one about contraception. Never assume. A discussion needs to take place with regards to expectations, preferences, health, how comfortable you are. As in all aspects of a relationship- a compromise needs to be reached. I’ve listened to countless friends tell me that their partners ‘hate it wrapped so we just risk it’ or, that they’re suffering extreme discomfort with their contraceptive device but will not get rid of it due to not wanting to disrupt or make their sex life ‘awkward’. If this sounds familiar to your own situation- alarm bells should be ringing.

Discussing contraception with a partner can be quite a nervy topic of conversation especially when you are new to having sex. However, it shouldn’t be. It should be as open a conversation as deciding where you’re going to eat that night.

I was eighteen when I first entered into a relationship and, I felt that I was old enough to manage sourcing contraception etc on my own. There are, however, lots of people who enter into sexual relationships much younger than eighteen. I can imagine that if I was having sex at sixteen or maybe even younger I would be far too nervous/embarrassed/scared to reach out to my mum about contraception. I think the idea of asking a guardian about contraception or where to get it from is so horrifically daunting. I’m not sure how good schools are now at providing information but, I really had no clue at that age where I would even go. I understand that our generation has the benefit of google but, with something as personal as contraception I really feel strongly that it should, where possible, be something discussed with a guardian or at least a friend.

Even at eighteen I felt this sense of embarrassment as I sat across from the nurse questioning my sexual habits. It was a can the floor just swallow me up moment. I still have those moments where I mention the pill or take my pill around my mum. It just makes my tummy tense. If this is how I feel at twenty- i’d have been too nervous to say or do anything in my early teens. What I do realise now is that no matter the age- a guardian would much rather you were safe and protected than to be taking chances.

However, I still realise it’s easier said than done. If like hypothetical young me you’re in a situation where you need contraception, have no clue where to start but, feel like you can’t speak to a parent, sibling etc. I’m here to help you out. Even at eighteen I’d have loved to stumble across a blog that told me exactly where to get contraception from and, explain to me in simple terms some of the options available to me.

Where Can I Get Contraception?

My top recommendation for when you’re first getting contraception would be to go to your local Sexual Health Clinic. Until you’re twenty you can attend the Youth Clinic, where you have access to free contraception. Just google your area’s local clinic and, double check their opening times- often it’s only for a few hours on certain days. On arrival you’ll give your basic details to the receptionist who will offer you a numbered ticket. After perhaps a little wait you’ll be called through to have your height, weight, blood pressure checked by another nurse. There are potential risks that come from taking the pill, as one example, so it’s really important you are checked by a professional beforehand. After that, you’ll have another little wait before being called in by another nurse who will source/fit whatever contraception you’ve asked for. If you aren’t too sure you’re more than welcome to have a chat with the nurse who will find the best option for you. It’s a friendly service whose main aim is to make sure you’re being as safe as possible. The nurse will also offer you to take a blood test and a swab (completely optional) to check for any sexual diseases.

Another option would be to visit your local GP. This is something that I never personally did but, I have many friends who got their pill via this way. I think the main benefit by getting your contraception from the GP is that you’ll receive a prescription. I ran into a wee bit of a problem this summer when I couldn’t physically go to the youth clinic (due to Covid 19) but, as i’m registered to my university doctors I couldn’t pick up my pill from a local GP. With lockdown I couldn’t travel up to Durham so, I ended up having to buy online my contraceptive pill. It was a bit of a nightmare so, on my to-do list when I’m back in Durham is to go get a prescription so I never have the same issue again!

I want to stress to you that if you visit either of the above practices your visit will be completely confidential. Equally you can still access and obtain contraception from both establishments if you are under the age of 16. You might get asked a few extra questions just so that the nurses can ensure you’re being safe however, they are legally not allowed to tell your guardians. The only time they would reach out to alert somebody would be if they had strong reason to believe you were at risk of serious harm such as abuse.

Mini Guide to (some) Contraceptive Devices (note: I am obviously not a professional so please consult NHS guidelines if you are from the UK or, your own country health services listings)

Condoms | Made from a very thin latex condoms act as a barrier method. Can either be worn by men or female condoms can be placed inside the vagina. 98% effective if used properly. Things to check for are any potential allergies to the latex material, if the condom is on correctly.

Contraceptive Diaphragm | A circular dome made of thin, soft silicone that you place into the vagina before sex. Again acting as a barrier, protecting the cervix from any sperm.

Combined Pill | Containing artificial female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone). Females take one pill every day for 21 days. Some pills can be taken continuously whilst others include a 7 day break for a bleed.

Contraceptive Implant | Small plastic rod that’s placed under your skin in your upper arm. It releases progestogen into your bloodstream, lasting for 3 years.

IUD | A small T shaped plastic and copper device that’s placed into your womb by a medical professional. It releases copper to prevent pregnancy and lasts between 5 and 10 years.

The NHS website ( https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/ ) offers much more detailed explanations of each of the above devices and more. The website also includes a page where you can identify what device may work best for your body.

Wrapping Up (hehe, get the pun…)
Contraception was actually a requested topic from a follower when I first mentioned I was beginning this series. It’s a funny old subject because, the reality is pretty much all of us in our society will use contraception at some point in our lives. Yet, it seems such a hushed subject. Especially online I’ve noticed there is a gap within the blogging community with regards to having open conversations on contraception. I personally had no clue about contraception. I picked up the knowledge I have from conversations with friends, TV and, one very brief sexual health lesson when I was fifteen. Maybe it’s just me who was completely naive to the subject but, I doubt it. What makes me worry is that I know for a fact out there they’ll be girls who don’t feel confident enough to go to a clinic, or the GP but will be equally to nervous to refuse their partner. I think by bringing the topic of contraception into a wider field of discussion- specifically within the blogging community and on social media- we’re ensuring that there is that education available for those who cannot seek it elsewhere.

I went and had my implant fitted thinking that it would work like a dream. I had no idea of the reality of how personal contraception was to the person. Contraception is so much more than just a quick fix to not getting pregnant. It’s a choice, a sensible choice, but that can and likely will have repercussions on your own body and your own mental health if it’s not the perfect fit for you. For nearly five months I put up with constant bleeding and migraines without saying a word because I just assumed that was normal. I really wish there was something I could have watched or read at the time that would make me realise how much of a trial and error event sourcing contraception really is.

I feel like this is a real meaty topic of conversation so, in the future i’d be more than happy to revisit it. I feel like there’s so many factors i’ve missed out or could have expanded on but, I think that’s going to be the case for all the conversations we’ll be having as part of this series. As I’ve said throughout, I really want this to be a conversation. If you don’t feel comfortable publicly commenting, please drop me a direct message if you have something to add or want to discuss things further. My messages are always open. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first instalment of this series!! Same time next week?

See you then lovelies,
Al x

English Literature Q and A

For those of you who may not know, I’m currently studying for a degree in English Literature and Education Studies at Durham University. I’ll be entering into my final year in October (hopefully physically not virtually) so, thought I would see if any of you have any questions! I chose to focus this Q and A specifically on the English Literature side of my degree as I know I have a lot of fellow writers/english literature students who follow this blog but, I would be happy to do the same for Education if that interests you. Thank you to all those who sent in questions, hope the answers are what you were after!!


What are you planning to do after university?

So, if you saw my ‘figuring out a career’ blog post you’ll know that (I think) i’ve finally decided that my next step after university will be to complete a PGCE in Primary School Education. My degree doesn’t fit me into a direct career category. For instance, law sets you up into the field of law or Quantity Surveying enters you into the construction industry. English is a bit of a funny one, I could pretty much do anything after. The education side of my degree gives me a slight advantage in terms of entering into a career in Education as i’m pretty clued up now on the politics and ethical factors useful for governors, head-teachers and researchers. I’m hoping that if everything works in my favour, September 2021 i’ll be beginning my training in my home town Sheffield. We shall see ! I’m known for changing my mind haha so there could be a last minute flip but, I do feel 90% settled in my decision!

How has second year compared to first?

I mean, it’s been far shorter for a start. First term and second term (up until Covid) was a dream compared to my first year of university. I loved living in the heart of Durham and, just found everything a lot easier. I still struggled with serious FOMO being away from my family, boyfriend and friends at home but, it was minuscule compared to my fresher year. I loved my modules (bar the compulsory educational research methods) and, fell back in love with English Literature. I felt much more at home in Durham, I have my little spot in the local cafe where I worked during the day. I have my favourite library, my favourite spot to read by the river, a favourite pub. During my first year I just felt like a tourist the whole year, everything was so alien and I couldn’t find any sort of home comforts. This year, thankfully, it was the total opposite. Feeling comfortable in the city made getting work done far easier. I’m just gutted second year came to such an abrupt end.

Do you prefer physical books or e-books and, why?

Physical books. 100%. I understand the ease of kindles (for an example) but, I just can’t get along with them. I enjoy walking round a bookstore, reading the blurbs, eyeing the covers. There’s something comforting in the feeling of a book sat in my hands. I like physically being able to turn a page over. I adore seeing the wear and tear of a book i’ve re-read a million times. Plus, the smell of a new book just beats everything else in the world.

How did you manage your well-being and self-care at university?

I try my best to look after myself at university but, I do find it hard. I can easily become a hermit when i’m in Durham. Work becomes the priority and it’s not uncommon for me to not leave the house for a good few days. In first year this completely wrecked my mental-health. This year I found a much better balance. I think part of that was to do with the fact I lived in a house with three other girls. It meant there was always somebody around for a coffee or a chat when making tea and, that eased my stresses massively. I also took the attitude of Durham is work- Sheffield is play. My boyfriend went to university in Sheffield so we’d often take it in turns to travel to each other at weekends. I would work really hard but, once I got on the train to Sheffield i’d switch off entirely and that would be my time to go to the cinema or go on a night out. That mentality might not work for everyone but, it really helped me compartmentalise university work from relaxing. Oooh having a bath also did my self-care routine a world of good. I moved into the house with a huge stash of lush bath-bombs and i’d happily spend a Thursday having a chilled bath whilst all the other girls were at uni. I also took to journalling, journalling every night helped me feel a bit of peace before I went to sleep every night !

( #GIFTED DiveThru is an excellent app for journalling/guided meditation and for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic the app is completely free )

What is your favourite young adult book/author?

My favourite young adults series has to be ‘The Morganville Vampires’ by Rachel Caine. I was gifted the books for christmas one year, gosh it must have been around 2011 maybe even before. I became so enthralled by the characters and the storylines. I always used to feel so naughty reading all the love scenes hahaha. I don’t usually enjoy fantasy fiction, I love fantasy films but I find it harder to read. I never got on with the Hunger Games novels or the Divergent series. I wasn’t even that big a fan of the Twilight books. There was just something about the world of Morganville that had me completely transfixed. I’ve always sworn that if I became a script writer I would transform it into a hit Netflix series- Paul Mescal to play Shane Collins !!!

What is your general day-to-day life like at university?

So my degree is mainly made up of non-contact hours meaning a huge proportion of my degree is self-taught. In an average week i’d have 6 hours tops so, I tend to have whole days where i’m not physically in university. I tend to work from my little snug desk in Durham or a coffee shop. I enjoy the fact my days aren’t spent in a classroom, I love the freedom of choosing a study space and getting on with work at my own pace. The downside is, I’ve A L W A Y S got work to do. There’s always something to be working on whether that’s reading a book, secondary reading, writing an essay, planning tutorial work, prepping ideas etc.

What careers would you consider pursuing with your degree?

Primary School teaching is my top career choice currently, i’ve always wanted to work with children and I can clearly envision myself in that role. I would also love to make writing into some sort of career. Whether that’s eventually making money from this platform or, writing a best-selling novel one day! I used to dream of being a TV-Script writer but, i’m not too sure anymore. I get scared by the fact there’s not much security in that career, I doubt my writing is good enough haha !! We shall see what the future holds but, at the moment the focus is on getting qualified as a teacher!

Did you already have opinions on authors/books before you studied them?

Yes but, studying them at university level completely SHATTERED all of my previous opinions. University has given me a much more critical mindset when I read texts. It’s really interesting to re-visit texts i’ve loved previously and see them in a completely different light. Shakespeare especially. I’ve always been a bit of a Shakespeare nerd so studying the whole expanse of his writing this year was really eye-opening to be honest. I’m not itching to ever write an essay on him again haha but, I feel I have a whole new admiration for the plays and sonnets.

Favourite books you’ve studied?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.
King Lear (adaptation) by Nahum Tate.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

What books did you not enjoy studying?

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

What books would you like to academically explore?

Beloved by Toni Morrison.
I would love to re-visit The Kite Runner at a higher academic level.

Do you complete all the secondary reading?

Hahaha N O. I would leave every seminar with 3 pages worth of secondary reading that they expected you to have done (alongside everything else) in six days. In first year I used to really bloody panic and would stay up for ages reading through hundreds of critical essays. It is not necessary. I tend to, if i’m writing an essay, search for secondary research relevant to the part of the text/argument/critical analysis i’m going to involve into my essay. I usually aim for around 6-8 resources for an average essay and more for a summative. It really just depends. I haven’t ever read every single secondary source assigned though many others in my tutorials do haha- superhuman brains. I find it just overwhelms me so I work on a do as much as you can method.

Do you feel out of depth at time when others have so much to say on a text and you don’t?

Yes.
Constantly.
Do you know the bit in Normal People where Connell stumbles over his point because all the other students in his class are reading these advanced points (but really they’ve not even read the texts they’re just looking it up)? My mum and I both turned to each other and said- that’s me. I go to every single tutorial, my mind feeling battered i’ve done so much reading. I get in, sit down excited to get out all my points and, I find myself lost for words.

Is it scary to have your writing style judged?

Writing is so personal. Even if it’s an essay on a Romantic period production of King Lear- they are your words and, to have them scrutinised is hard. I put my heart into everything I write and, especially in first year, I found it really difficult to not take each criticism to heart. I gained a much thicker skin this year and. even though it does hurt when a tutor says they dislike your writing style or how you’ve worded your piece- like anything, you learn, grow and get better.

Is it hard doing English Literature alongside another subject?

It’s hard in the sense both my disciplines have differing referencing systems, differing writing styles and, are (for the most part) completely unrelated in content. It can be difficult, especially in the height of summative season, to switch between the two different frames of mind. However, it keeps me on my toes and I enjoy studying such a wide variety of topics.

What are you planning to do after university?

So, if you saw my ‘figuring out a career’ blog post you’ll know that (I think) i’ve finally decided that my next step after university will be to complete a PGCE in Primary School Education. My degree doesn’t fit me into a direct career category. For instance, law sets you up into the field of law or Quantity Surveying enters you into the construction industry. English is a bit of a funny one, I could pretty much do anything after. The education side of my degree gives me a slight advantage in terms of entering into a career in Education as i’m pretty clued up now on the politics and ethical factors useful for governors, head-teachers and researchers. I’m hoping that if everything works in my favour, September 2021 i’ll be beginning my training in my home town Sheffield. We shall see ! I’m known for changing my mind haha so there could be a last minute flip but, I do feel 90% settled in my decision!

How has second year compared to first?

I mean, it’s been far shorter for a start. First term and second term (up until Covid) was a dream compared to my first year of university. I loved living in the heart of Durham and, just found everything a lot easier. I still struggled with serious FOMO being away from my family, boyfriend and friends at home but, it was minuscule compared to my fresher year. I loved my modules (bar the compulsory educational research methods) and, fell back in love with English Literature. I felt much more at home in Durham, I have my little spot in the local cafe where I worked during the day. I have my favourite library, my favourite spot to read by the river, a favourite pub. During my first year I just felt like a tourist the whole year, everything was so alien and I couldn’t find any sort of home comforts. This year, thankfully, it was the total opposite. Feeling comfortable in the city made getting work done far easier. I’m just gutted second year came to such an abrupt end.

Do you prefer physical books or e-books and, why?

Physical books. 100%. I understand the ease of kindles (for an example) but, I just can’t get along with them. I enjoy walking round a bookstore, reading the blurbs, eyeing the covers. There’s something comforting in the feeling of a book sat in my hands. I like physically being able to turn a page over. I adore seeing the wear and tear of a book i’ve re-read a million times. Plus, the smell of a new book just beats everything else in the world.

How did you manage your well-being and self-care at university?

I try my best to look after myself at university but, I do find it hard. I can easily become a hermit when i’m in Durham. Work becomes the priority and it’s not uncommon for me to not leave the house for a good few days. In first year this completely wrecked my mental-health. This year I found a much better balance. I think part of that was to do with the fact I lived in a house with three other girls. It meant there was always somebody around for a coffee or a chat when making tea and, that eased my stresses massively. I also took the attitude of Durham is work- Sheffield is play. My boyfriend went to university in Sheffield so we’d often take it in turns to travel to each other at weekends. I would work really hard but, once I got on the train to Sheffield i’d switch off entirely and that would be my time to go to the cinema or go on a night out. That mentality might not work for everyone but, it really helped me compartmentalise university work from relaxing. Oooh having a bath also did my self-care routine a world of good. I moved into the house with a huge stash of lush bath-bombs and i’d happily spend a Thursday having a chilled bath whilst all the other girls were at uni. I also took to journalling, journalling every night helped me feel a bit of peace before I went to sleep every night !

( #GIFTED DiveThru is an excellent app for journalling/guided meditation and for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic the app is completely free )

What is your favourite young adult book/author?

My favourite young adults series has to be ‘The Morganville Vampires’ by Rachel Caine. I was gifted the books for christmas one year, gosh it must have been around 2011 maybe even before. I became so enthralled by the characters and the storylines. I always used to feel so naughty reading all the love scenes hahaha. I don’t usually enjoy fantasy fiction, I love fantasy films but I find it harder to read. I never got on with the Hunger Games novels or the Divergent series. I wasn’t even that big a fan of the Twilight books. There was just something about the world of Morganville that had me completely transfixed. I’ve always sworn that if I became a script writer I would transform it into a hit Netflix series- Paul Mescal to play Shane Collins !!!

What is your general day-to-day life like at university?

So my degree is mainly made up of non-contact hours meaning a huge proportion of my degree is self-taught. In an average week i’d have 6 hours tops so, I tend to have whole days where i’m not physically in university. I tend to work from my little snug desk in Durham or a coffee shop. I enjoy the fact my days aren’t spent in a classroom, I love the freedom of choosing a study space and getting on with work at my own pace. The downside is, I’ve A L W A Y S got work to do. There’s always something to be working on whether that’s reading a book, secondary reading, writing an essay, planning tutorial work, prepping ideas etc.

What careers would you consider pursuing with your degree?

Primary School teaching is my top career choice currently, i’ve always wanted to work with children and I can clearly envision myself in that role. I would also love to make writing into some sort of career. Whether that’s eventually making money from this platform or, writing a best-selling novel one day! I used to dream of being a TV-Script writer but, i’m not too sure anymore. I get scared by the fact there’s not much security in that career, I doubt my writing is good enough haha !! We shall see what the future holds but, at the moment the focus is on getting qualified as a teacher!

Did you already have opinions on authors/books before you studied them?

Yes but, studying them at university level completely SHATTERED all of my previous opinions. University has given me a much more critical mindset when I read texts. It’s really interesting to re-visit texts i’ve loved previously and see them in a completely different light. Shakespeare especially. I’ve always been a bit of a Shakespeare nerd so studying the whole expanse of his writing this year was really eye-opening to be honest. I’m not itching to ever write an essay on him again haha but, I feel I have a whole new admiration for the plays and sonnets.

Favourite books you’ve studied?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.
King Lear (adaptation) by Nahum Tate.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

What books did you not enjoy studying?

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

What books would you like to academically explore?

Beloved by Toni Morrison.
I would love to re-visit The Kite Runner at a higher academic level.

Do you complete all the secondary reading?

Hahaha N O. I would leave every seminar with 3 pages worth of secondary reading that they expected you to have done (alongside everything else) in six days. In first year I used to really bloody panic and would stay up for ages reading through hundreds of critical essays. It is not necessary. I tend to, if i’m writing an essay, search for secondary research relevant to the part of the text/argument/critical analysis i’m going to involve into my essay. I usually aim for around 6-8 resources for an average essay and more for a summative. It really just depends. I haven’t ever read every single secondary source assigned though many others in my tutorials do haha- superhuman brains. I find it just overwhelms me so I work on a do as much as you can method.

Do you feel out of depth at time when others have so much to say on a text and you don’t?

Yes.
Constantly.
Do you know the bit in Normal People where Connell stumbles over his point because all the other students in his class are reading these advanced points (but really they’ve not even read the texts they’re just looking it up)? My mum and I both turned to each other and said- that’s me. I go to every single tutorial, my mind feeling battered i’ve done so much reading. I get in, sit down excited to get out all my points and, I find myself lost for words.

Is it scary to have your writing style judged?

Writing is so personal. Even if it’s an essay on a Romantic period production of King Lear- they are your words and, to have them scrutinised is hard. I put my heart into everything I write and, especially in first year, I found it really difficult to not take each criticism to heart. I gained a much thicker skin this year and. even though it does hurt when a tutor says they dislike your writing style or how you’ve worded your piece- like anything, you learn, grow and get better.

Is it hard doing English Literature alongside another subject?

It’s hard in the sense both my disciplines have differing referencing systems, differing writing styles and, are (for the most part) completely unrelated in content. It can be difficult, especially in the height of summative season, to switch between the two different frames of mind. However, it keeps me on my toes and I enjoy studying such a wide variety of topics.

Do you have a staple revision technique for English Literature exams?

Freytag’s pyramid baby. My A-Level tutor taught me this technique and it’s basically the foundation for all my revision. If i can understand the critical points of each plot, I find it easier to find quotes/ find relevant criticism/ explore ideas and create detailed revision documents. My revision tends to be fairly thorough and can often look like i’m wasting time- but, a long and steady approach works for me.






Finding My Place In The World by Indi Twigg.

Just like that we have our FIFTH member of the Navigating Twenties Club (guest-writers). I’m genuinely chuffed to bits over the response from readers of the blog or followers of my instagram. I am so happy you all want to help create this little blog of mine into a more collaborative space. Today’s writer is the beautiful Indi. Indi, in this post, captured so many of the thoughts currently racing through my mind that i’ve been struggling to vocalise. I’m twenty years old yet, due to expectations imposed by others and, to an extent myself, I often talk about my life as if it’s already over. I’m scared that in the next couple of years i’m going to get sucked into a career and never experience the world. I don’t want my life to be over before it’s begun. However, trying to explain that to (for example) a parent who is concentrated on you becoming financially independent in an amazing career is… well bloody difficult. It took Indi’s words for me to fully realise this is precisely how I was feeling. That’s the point of ‘Navigating Twenties’, this blog and all of the writings presented on it are here to make us all feel a little less alone on this weird decade of our lives. Indi you have written such a stunning post and, i’m so grateful you chose to publish it on this platform! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.


I always say that nineteen has been my favourite age to date. Eighteen is the year you reach adulthood in the eyes of the law, but reality permits the evasion of many adult responsibilities. Twenty, and twenty-one are both fun, but your twenty-second birthday ambushes you like a freezing cold plunge pool.

By the age of twenty-two, people expect you to know what you want from life. What career path you have in mind, in my case- what I will be doing after university? Since a young age, I have gravitated towards travel, sneaking short breaks with friends, seizing each family holiday and even embarking on the stereotypical ‘gap yah’. 

Currently finishing my third year of law school, studying abroad in Melbourne, with one final year of hardcore grind to return to, I have noticed now more than ever the continuous expectation from friends and family for me to know what I want to do. Questions of- so what next? Or worse… where do you want to settle? And also, the disapproving allusions that I should have weened the backpacker lifestyle out of my system by now…

The truth is, I am not ready for a full blown professional legal career and currently, the thought of 9-5 work each day terrifies me. I’d be lying if I said professional life wasn’t part of my end goal, but for now there is so much more of the world waiting for me to explore.

The difficulty I have found is that families tend not to understand that after 4 years of study and student loans, their twenty-something may not actually want to jump straight into training contracts or more legal exams. I want to hit pause on my life at home, perhaps move back to Australia for a working holiday, making the most of few responsibilities. Maybe working in a bar, or possibly as a carefree receptionist desperately counting the minutes until I can hit the beach and live out that sandy surfer fantasy…

…and how do you tell your family and friends that it doesn’t end here- you might do your rural work for a second year in Australia or move on to New Zealand or both! I have struggled equally to explain my desires to friends who are yet to experience travel in this kind of way- most seem ready for professional life, already focused on their forever career.

My point is- so many of us grow up with expectations placed upon us, whether our loved ones realise it or not- and it is so easy to conform. I have been guilty of this myself; but at the risk of sounding cringeworthy and cliché, there is a whole world out there full of education, experiences, and parts of yourself that are waiting to be ignited. 

Have you ever actually considered where you will settle? My tiny hometown, despite housing the people I love and holding fond memories, does not spark excitement or motivation for me as a twenty-something. However, where I will end up is a question I am yet to answer.

Some days I think I want to live in London, focused on my legal career, surrounded by creatives and immersed in the hustle and bustle of professional city life. A seperate third of me will always lie in Australia. From the moment I set foot off the aeroplane, I felt the magic of Melbourne. Despite travelling to 44 countries so far, this was the first place that actually made me want to stick around. I love the idea of family life by the beach, where the land is spacious, the people have time for one and other, and outdoors is the place to be. The final third is diced up and scattered in various locations across the world that I’ll just have to return to collect one day!

The logical portion of my brain knows that at the age of twenty-two, adding these extra years living every travellers’ dream isn’t the most sensible decision- it has been pointed out on numerous occasions that I’ll be close to twenty-five by the time I’m even starting a law career. 

But for now, I am twenty-two years young.

At the age of twenty-two, who knows what our futures will hold? Who knows where we will be in a decade? And who knows how even the most meticulously cultivated of life plans will change?

All I know is that my twenties are the time to figure it all out!

Indi x


Find Indi At :

I N S T A G R A M | http://www.instagram.com/indieexplores

B L O G | https://indiexplores.home.blog/

Little Miss Yorkshire’s Advice For Your Twenties

As is custom for the guest edits here on Navigating Twenties, it’s Alice here to introduce our fourth member of the Navigating Twenties Club. I’m really excited about this one because I know Little Miss Yorkshire, aka Molly Winton, personally! Molly launched her blog only last month and, it’s incredible. I’ve loved reading her posts so far and, it’s nice to see a familiar face in the blogging community! Molly has written such a lovely post for this platform, dedicated to giving you the best life advice for your twenties. My tummy did a little flip when I first read through Mol’s post as, the very quote that inspired my creation of ‘Navigating Twenties’ is the quote that set Molly off on all the amazing adventures she’s had so far in her twenties. I’m one of those people who sees photos of people having these incredible experiences on instagram, sighs and thinks ‘I wish that was me’. I’m slowly starting to realise, especially after hearing Molly’s advice, that the person road-tripping in the US or sitting on a swing in Bali could very easily be me. Stop getting scared of what’s ahead, thrust yourself towards every single opportunity that comes your way.
I felt so inspired after reading the below post and, I hope you do too! Read on till the end to find all of Little Miss Yorkshire’s links!! Thank you to Molly, i’m so chuffed to have you feature! Now, grab a cuppa and get ready for the burst of inspiration you didn’t realise you needed!


The best thing you can be in your twenties is a yes-man. Not the arse-kissing, namby-pamby, knee bending type of yes-man who does whatever they’re told. Nah, you don’t want to be that type of yes-man. What I mean is a yes-man that agrees to every opportunity they come across, no matter how crazy it seems at the time. (If you’ve seen the 2008 film ‘Yes Man’ starring Jim Carrey, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.) 

See, I’ll happily admit that I’m not the most confident or outgoing girl in the world. As a kid, I was timid around people. Putting my hand up in class was a rare occurrence, greeting a stranger was a no go, and if I wanted something, I’d make my little sister go ask for it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about being a little introverted. I, however, was verging on full-fledged wall-flower and that’s not where I wanted to be.

As I hit my 20’s in 2018 I read this quote from Kyoko Escamilla:

‘Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.

And that ladies and gents, is how the yes-man in me was born. From that point forward I promised myself that I wouldn’t let anything hold me back. I was done with being cautious, hesitant and shy. If I really wanted to get out there and experience a decade as wonderful as Escamilla describes, then I had to push myself. I had to try new things. I had to meet new people. I had to say yes. Fast-forward to 2020 and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.

Here’s a few of my favourite yes-man experiences that I’d recommend to anyone:

Worked in an American Summer Camp:
I’d highly recommend this experience to anyone, no matter how old you are! Working in an American summer camp was a truly unforgettable experience, filled with fantastic memories that’ll last a lifetime. Over the summer I met hundreds of wonderful, like-minded people from all over the world! I experienced things I never thought I would (riding a yellow school bus, attending an all-American house party, catching a prize at a baseball game, smores, a tornado and a chipmunk in my cabin are to name a few). I also got to travel around the US. During and after camp I spent time in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and saw Niagara Falls. (I would’ve done more if my funds had allowed it!) If you can see yourself doing something similar, it’s a very easy online application to complete. I signed up with ‘Camp America’, who are great for first timers. From getting employed by your camp, to landing in the US- they help you every step of the way!

Joined University Societies:
A huge part of being a yes-man, is being a joiner. Even if you aren’t at uni, I’d always recommend joining a club/team/society of some sort. It’s a great place to make new friends, try something new and gain/develop new skills. During my time at Newcastle University I was part of the theatre society, ‘NUTS’, where I participated in dozens of plays, musicals and panto’s. (My most daunting performance involved dancing in nothing but lingerie!) There, I met some of my closest uni friends and went on some of the craziest socials and trips abroad. I even tried my hand at directing, putting on ‘The Great Gatsby’ at the Northern Stage! When I wasn’t prancing about the stage or in the pub, I was in the gym with my cheer squad. I’d never done cheerleading before but I am so glad I gave it a go! As part of the ‘Newcastle Northern Angels’, I competed in regional and national competitions. I also went on chour (cheer tour) to Croatia and took part in some of the most ridiculous fancy dress socials. It’s unbelievable how much being a part of the societies has built up my confidence. They absolutely made my university experience!



Got My Childhood Dream Job:
As a little girl, I’d always wanted to be a Redcoat. So, straight after graduating I went along to the auditions. A few months later I found myself packing up my life and relocating to Butlin’s Minehead. The seven months that I spent there were the craziest of my life to date! I have some of the most outrageous stories to tell! (A later blog post maybe?). Now, I’m not suggesting everyone go be a Redcoat (as fun as it is, it definitely isn’t for everyone). But what I am saying is you should always make time to realise a childhood dream. No matter how big or small it is, it’s something that was important to you. Your 20’s is the time to say yes and do it


So, what are you waiting for?
Go be a Yes-Man.


Where can I find more writing from Molly?

I N S T A G R A M | http://www.instagram.com/little_miss_yorkshire

B L O G | https://www.littlemissyorkshire.com/

Six Months In

When I envisioned 2020…let’s just say it looked the complete opposite of what it’s turned out to be, as I’m sure is the case for every single one of you reading this. I welcomed in 2020 from the comfort of my own home with a tummy full of buffet food and, prosecco. I daydreamed of spontaneous travels, theatre visits, date nights in instagrammable cocktail bars, festivals, long summer nights with friends, summer balls at university- need I go on. I envisioned a year full of new experiences- new experiences that involved being in a close proximity to people. As all of you are, I feel astounded by the reality of our 2020 thus far. I still very much feel like we’ve been warped into a science-fiction movie and I’m waiting for Tom Cruise to swarm in and save us all.

J A N U A R Y

Thankfully, my year began with a series of trips and gatherings that involved lots of family and friends. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that those first four weeks of the year were busy and full of laughs with close loved ones. Our first trip of the year was to London, my mum and I went down to go see ‘Dear Evan Hansen’- a masterpiece. We only spent one night in the city so, spent our free time mooching around Covent Garden and playing the game of how many historic monuments can we find around the theatre district. Covid-19 has stripped us of all our favourite mother/daughter past-times so, I am unbelievably happy we had at least that one little trip together! My dad turned 55…I think and, a lot of the family surprised him at his house. We ate pork sandwiches, nibbled on biscuits and talked into the night with huge glasses of wine. James, my boyfriend, turned 21 and after the surprise party I pulled off last year- I had to try top myself. I took him to a fancy restaurant for tea before we got together with a huge group of our friends for a music quiz and, a spot of open mic. The following morning we headed up to Durham for a quick stop over before carrying on to Newcastle Airport. James and I, since we’ve met, have always talked about going to Dublin. Both of us had been close to going in the past but, plans fell through. So, it seemed the perfect place to go to celebrate James turning 21. It didn’t dissapoint us, we both came home shattered from walking but happily full on Guinness. After Christmas and the busy weeks of New Year going back to unviersity was tough. Especially when I couldn’t afford any more time/money to travel round for a while. I missed out on lot’s of things with my boyfriend and, that’s always so crap. Being long-distance is perfectly fine but, it’s hard to watch trips or nights you should be a part of through a phone screen 100 miles away. Not too bad though when we had a 21st up in Durham to plan. My housemate Anavi turned 21 and we took her out to S&L in Durham. It has such a swish interior and, the night was spent drowning in 2 for 1 cocktails.

F E B R U A R Y

Ahh this month was spent indulging in three-course meals at our University college- Josephine Butler. Honestly, I sometimes just dream about Butler’s food. It’s soooooo bloody good, you always sleep like a baby afterwards (mainly because you’ve been drunken doubles for something silly like £1.50). I nipped back to Sheffield for Valentine Day which, was spent with us both horrifically hungover and my leg completely black from falling down some club stairs the night before. The rest of the month was spent frantically typing at my desk. Second terms hits hard at Durham with summatives flying at you from every direction- February tends to be one of those months where you’re constantly wading against a tide of work. My other house-mate turned twenty and we celebrated in quite possibly the best way possible- getting drunk in our PJs. What’s sad looking back at this month is, the only thing that kept me going through summative hell was the thought of my holiday in March, visiting friends, summer being close by. I feel a little sorry for myself that my hard work didn’t get rewarded the way I thought it would !

M A R C H

Here’s where things start to go tits up. The first week of March I went home for a long weekend (the 6th to the 10th) to see my boyfriend’s band Crossfire Eagles perform two quite big gigs. I saw my friends, family, danced, had a drink. I kissed my boyfriend bye at the station and told him I’d see him in a couple of weeks for the Easter holidays. Two days later I’m in Tesco gobsmacked at the empty shelves chatting to James through my headphones about how odd this seems when I get the email from Durham saying that from Friday at 4pm all further classes will be cancelled till they notify us otherwise. On top of that, there was a note to say we encourage students to return home as soon as possible. My mum rings to tell me she’s picking me up Saturday morning- in a blink of an eye, second year was over. I remember quite clearly before my final lecture on the Friday I felt so nostalgic stood in front of the cathedral. I knew deep down I wouldn’t be back for a good while. Those rushed goodbyes were so difficult, such a bittersweet ending to our second year in Durham. What was odd was I came back to a Sheffield seemingly absent of any precautions. My boyfriend’s university was still open so I was able to study with him in the library. We met our friends. We went to an awards night with the band and all the girlfriends. It was still a world absent of any sort of difference bar, the empty shelves in shops. It was my mum who rang us to say, I think you both better come home to us. Twenty-four hours later we all sat and watched Boris Johnson announce we’d be going into a national lockdown. To be honest I found that whole news announcement terrifying. I remember my tummy dropping a bit and, memories of the bloody purge film ringed in the back of my mind.

A P R I L | M A Y

I think you’ll accept, it’s necessary to just bundle these months together. I don’t even know if I can distinguish one from the other- time is meaningless in lockdown. Our first weeks of lockdown were spent pottering around the house, catching a tan in the garden, watching re-runs of Only Fools and Horses and, doing bits of university work. The Tiger King phase came and went. We walked the entirety of our immediate area. By two weeks in- we were fed up. What made it worse, third term began and trying to do it from the dining room table was impossible. Doing exams from home was just horrific. Due to the restrictions placed on my specific exams I felt I was unable to show off the level of understanding i’d have shown under normal exam circumstances. It was infuriating and, until I get my results I think the tiny bubble of worrisome anxiety in the bottom of my tummy will stay. Like everyone, I pined for friends and family members. I pined for a sense of routine to return to my days. I missed the bustle of a crowd. I missed our normality. Lockdown did let me appreciate the smaller things in life. I nearly cried that first day we were finally allowed to sit in a public park. I did love, to an extent, being able to live back at my family home. It’s the most time i’ve spent at home since leaving for university. Although the novelty wore off when you weren’t allowed to leave the four walls, being in the company of my mum was lush. I’ve also been lucky enough to have spent the duration of lockdown with my boyfriend. It’s the most time we’ve ever solidly spent together and, I think it’s done us both the world of good. For a start, I’ve lived with him nearly three months and I still like him- always a good sign.

J U N E

A slightly happier month. No longer having exams plaguing me, I was able to settle a bit more into lockdown life. My main focus was on blogging and growing my Instagram platform. Reaching 2k was a really huge moment for me so, thank you if you’re part of that figure- you made me very happy. Restrictions eased to a point where we were able to visit family again. As i’m writing this i’m sat waiting for my boyfriends mum to pick us up so we can spend a chunk of time with James’ loved ones. What a funny old year so far. It was back in January when I had the idea to summarise the year in two separate six month chunks. In a normal world i’d have been telling you about my holiday to Spain, about my London internship, about festivals and summer celebrations with university friends. I imagined huge detailed paragraphs with countless photos of what I thought would be, the best year of my life so far. Funny how life turns out isn’t it. Despite not having anything worth talking about, i’m not going to moan. I’m healthy, my loved ones are healthy, i’m safe and that’s all that matters. I’ve enjoyed acknowledging the simplicity of life. I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about myself as I’ve faced this truly alien world. I’m hoping that in December i’ll be able to look back at the final six months of 2020 and share with you stories of much happier times. Till then, i’ll be muddling on and hoping that a whole lot of good luck will hit us soon.

Navigating Mental Health in my Twenties by Irene Stoppoloni.

Guest Edit | Three.

Hi lovelies, Alice here to introduce this post !! I was beyond excited when Irene contacted me a few weeks ago to ask whether she could share her writing on this platform. I was touched that such a talented writer wanted to feature on Navigating Twenties. When Irene sent me this post- I was blown away. Her raw honesty regarding her journey to understanding mental health is written from the heart and, provided myself with an immense amount of clarity. Irene is currently studying for a MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy- her knowledge within this area shines through in this post and, offers a unique perspective upon mental-health. I was gripped by Irene’s story and her words offered me the chance to re-evaluate my own perspectives upon mental-health. It’s a very important post and, I hope that it resonates with you reading just as strongly as it did with me. I’ll include links to Irene’s blog and social medias at the end of this post so that you can keep up with her writing. Thank you once again to Irene, it means the world to have you share this on Navigating Twenties- I am so chuffed !!
Al x


Navigating Mental Health in your Twenties by Irene (Surname)

It wasn’t until I moved to Edinburgh to go to University that I really started thinking about mental health. Although I had already spent two years in the U.K. away from my family and even though that had been one of the hardest things I had ever done, I never considered the consequences of my choices for my mental health. I was just an Italian girl who wanted to move to the U.K and did. That was as far as my awareness went.

Looking back, I now know I was trying to escape a situation at home that was too difficult and way worse than moving away from my family, so I guess it was a matter of pros and cons at that time too. To survive, I chose the lesser evil: I uprooted myself and I started life again, without the support of a family. I gave myself another chance, which I am forever grateful for: it required a lot of strength. However, I now see I gave up some very important things that other teenagers and schoolmates around me continue to have: I gave up the familiarity of the place I grew up in, I gave up my friends, and I gave up whatever consistency my family did give me at the time.

To do this, my still incomplete sense of self adapted to a life of survival and adaptation: I learned to keep to myself, to be self-sufficient so I would not need any help. My resilience grew exponentially, but my capacity for relating suffered incredibly.

I have thought a lot about this and it’s something I am still working on with my therapist, but I believe that although my experience might be different from others, some things apply to the experience of being a 20-something and the changes that happen at this crucial time of life.

I have since started an MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy and this has allowed me to really look at mental health, what it means and how I perceived it then versus now. Here is what I have learned.

MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT JUST ONE THING.

This might seem like a weird thing to say. What I learned growing up was that some people were ‘crazy’ and then there was the rest of society, the ‘normal’. This didn’t really change until I moved up to Scotland to attend university. In reality, mental health problems are more the norm. There is no such thing as being ‘crazy’ (and, hopefully, we will phase out this word from our daily talk). Because life is so random and, quite frankly, existentially all over the place, well, shit happens. All the time. It is an impossible goal to live life unscathed. In our small, each of us experiences their own tragedy. Mental health issues are not just depression, or just anxiety, or even schizophrenia. We are such wonderful and complex beings, that trying to reduce mental health to something that only happens to some does us a disservice.

MENTAL HEALTH IS AS IMPORTANT AS PHYSICAL HEALTH.

Perhaps you exercise every day; perhaps you take vitamins every day; perhaps you eat healthy food. Well done, you’re doing much better than me. It is becoming increasingly clear that mental health and physical health are not two separate things, nor is one more important than the other.
In the 16th century, René Descartes formulated the now famous cogito, ergo sum, meaning ‘I think, therefore I am’. What he started was a problem that has been plaguing Western society ever since: the mind-body dualism. We have become so obsessed by our thinking brains and what they can do, that we have forgotten that we are not just walking brains. I know I am alive not just because I think, but also because I feel the breeze in my hair, the sun on my skin and hunger in my stomach. I am also a body. However, we use our bodies for our daily tasks, like a tool: we train it, mould it to the latest trends, we feed it, we get angry when it doesn’t perform. We seem to have forgotten that we are our bodies, just like we are our minds. And the paradox is that we take so much care of bodies and really not enough care of our minds. Can someone explain that to me?

REALLY, WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT.

This was the balm that first started to heal my soul. When I realised that yes, my experience was mine and mine only, but that I could share that with fellow human beings and be understood and heard, my whole outlook changed. I no longer was alone. There is a beautiful image of millions of boats, all bobbing along in the saFe sea in existentialism. Although we are all on our own separate boats, we are nevertheless close to each other’s boats and definitely all in the same ocean called Life.

IT’S OKAY TO REACH OUT.

This was the second biggest piece of learning I had to do in my 20s. And I had to knock my head against it before I realised that this was a possibility. Somehow, one of my then tutors took it upon themselves (bless them) to teach me that it’s preferable to hire someone that can ask for help. Now, I don’t know if she had realised that this was the only way I would ever even consider doing that, or if it was sheer chance. Nevertheless, she drummed it in my head so much, that I finally proudly admitted to needing help and asking questions. It was the sweetest liberation: suddenly I had more possibilities and choices. If I didn’t know how to do something or if I was struggling, I could ask for help. And so can you.This is the most important thing you should learn in your 20s: you can ask for help. If this is the only thing that you remember from this post, my mission is accomplished.

THERAPY IS NOT LIKE OPENING PANDORA’S BOX.

Which leads me to this point: go to therapy. Find a therapist you vibe with and start working on yourself. You don’t have to wait until it’s really bad. Therapy is not the last resort. I have learned so much about myself by just having that 50-minute space of time all to myself. I have been able to look back, inwards, ahead and beyond. I love the fact that we only really have one long-term relationship in this life and only one person that will be will us until death, and that’s us. That’s you. You have you until death do you part. Why not work on the relationship then? This reminds me of that scene in Sex And The City where Samantha says: ‘I am going to say the thing that you’re not supposed to say: I love you, but I love me more’. I wonder what would happen if we all loved ourselves more. Therapy is not finding hidden monsters in ourselves or just facing the most horrible recesses of our minds. Therapy is a gift to you, from you. Therapy is saying: ‘I want to invest in myself’. And yes, it is an investment (like, financially, it’s not been easy), but the dividends and the revenues are what makes it worth it.

YOUR FRIENDS ARE NOT OKAY.

This one was a tough one to learn. I guess because I was always so engulfed in my own self and my own inability to ask for help, I never knew that my friends were struggling too. If I couldn’t ask for help, why should others? It saddens me to have closed off such a wonderful experience for myself. When you open yourself up to being helped, you are also opening yourself up to helping others. When I realised that I could help, that I could listen without folding into myself, that I could give my friends the space to be heard, it made all the difference. I had the misconception that I was the only one with issues and that all my friends we okay. How mistaken I was! Don’t get me wrong, at first, it was disorientating. I had created a world where everyone was ‘okay’ and to realise that that world didn’t exist took a long time to adjust to. It’s much better now that I have a truer view of life. Mental health ‘problems’ are so common and it seems to me that sometimes all we need is a listening ear.

TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK.

Lastly, don’t be fooled. Red flags and alarm bells can be very quiet in some relationships at times. Learn to recognise them: it’s like a secret language only you and your best friend know. You will encounter some people that haven’t learned to be in relationships or have had such a life experience that they can’t create safe boundaries for themselves. The best thing you can do (for yourself and for them) is to be strong in your own boundaries. Listen to the warning signs: a sense of unease, guilt and fear/desire for merging with the others. Relationships should be nurturing, encouraging. You should have the space to grow and mature, and be able to offer your love (and receive it) without conditions. Toxic relationships are not just violent ones. A toxic relationship is any relationship where you are not respected, taken into consideration and even just allowed to be and say whatever you want.

I suppose this is not an exhaustive list and, as I write I am becoming more aware that there is so much I still have to learn. Life is what it is and, if we can help each other along- nothing could be greater.

– Irene x

Irene’s Blog | https://irenestoppoloni.com/
Irene’s Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/airinast/