Let’s talk about FOMO

It’s 8pm on a Friday night following a busy week and I’m in my pyjamas. A night filled of catching up on TV, a couple of G&Ts with my mum and an early night is in store. Sounds dreamy, right?

But my anxiety levels are rising, as I begin scrambling around asking every single friend in close proximity what their plans are, and whether they fancy a ‘cheeky pub trip’. Friends begin replying detailing their plans, or (shock, horror) declining my invitation for a quiet night in. I’m starting to panic.

And then there’s a bite.

A couple of the boys are going to the pub – but not til 10pm – and in the next town over, a good 15 minute drives away. I’m knackered, I’m makeup-less and sporting my finest fleecey PJs, and essentially, have no desire to drive to the pub for one drink.

After practicing an inordinate amount of self-control I managed to convince myself to stay on my sofa, but it didn’t end there. I took to Instagram (bad move, Abs) scrolling through posts of parties, nights out, lovely dinners out – I was even feeling jealous of the people having cosy nights in, just as I was. Why didn’t I have cool plans? Why wasn’t I invited to any of these nights out? What if all my friends are about to have the best nights of their lives this evening and I’m doing absolutely big fat nothing?

It genuinely was making me feel quite worked up and anxious, and I went to bed feeling disappointed in myself and my lack of cool plans, and my inability to be doing something every minute of every day of every week.

The irony is, I woke up the next morning feeling like I handled the whole thing relatively well. From the age of 17, I’d been cramming my weekends with ‘stuff’. I spent at least half of my time at university not at university – always seeing someone, unable to stop making plans, never mind decline them, and avoiding a chill weekend at home like the plague. Socialising and doing cool things felt like more of a job than my dissertation. I was suffering daily from errand paralysis, unable to make the 15 minute walk to the post office to return my ASOS order and was completely exhausted: emotionally, mentally and financially. I only recognised how destructive the lifestyle I was living was until I moved back home and I realised I was close to burnout, and actually quite mentally ill. 

Fucking millennials, right? Only our generation could make themselves mentally ill from the ‘fear of missing out’, or FOMO, as it’s more commonly called.

But we’re the most vulnerable generation to the fear, in a culture of excessive social media usage, hustle porn and so many god damn choices. I log into Instagram on a Saturday night and there is an endless stream of friends, acquaintances (and complete strangers) at a rave, having nights with their friends, travelling round Australia, at gigs, out for dinner and more. Hours worth of content just waiting for me to watch and decide whose life I’d like the most that evening.

We are the generation that were brought up being told we could do anything, and thanks to more opportunities being available than ever before, we are doing exactly that. Comparing ourselves to other people our age can therefore leave us feeling completely and utterly worthless.

Sure, I’m doing well at my job, making time to travel and see my friends and family, and I’m probably the healthiest (mentally and physically) I’ve been in a long time. But a friend from school who side-hustles a successful lifestyle blog is currently on a #gifted meal in London with her boyfriend, another friend is travelling around South East Asia without a care in the world, and Kylie Jenner is now the youngest ever self-made billionaire…and she’s younger than me.

You can see then, why comparing yourself to your other twenty-something friends (or strangers) is completely useless but so easy to do.

Research has found that (unsurprisingly) limiting social media usage results in significant reductions in loneliness, anxiety and fear of missing out. More interestingly, studies have also found that fear of missing out and social comparison orientation (which refers to the tendency to compare oneself with others) jointly contribute to decreases in well-being (loneliness, anxiety and depression) and increased social media engagement.

Scientific proof therefore, that if you’re feeling a bit rubbish you should whack your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode and try to resist an evening of comparison and self-hatred (though tempting, I know). You’ll feel a lot more able to hack the ‘best night’ posts in the morning when the ‘gram is a bit quieter and you wake up smug after a good night’s rest.

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The only dropping I’ll be doing this Saturday evening.

FOMO has always been around, and to be honest, I imagine it will only get worse as social media becomes more of a necessity in everyone’s lives. Finding ways to manage such anxieties are therefore vital.

For me, allowing myself to regularly take a night to do absolutely naff-all and trying not to stuff my weekends with plans, errands and big expectations has been a game-changer. I value and enjoy my plans a lot more when they do come around, and feel a lot more able to cope when it feels like everyone’s doing amazing things and I’ve spent the evening laying on the sofa with my dogs. Trying to bear in mind that Instagram is just a highlights reel is also a great comfort.

Remember that the world’s not going to stop if you take a night off, your friends will still be your friends if you don’t make it to that party or pub trip, and no-one actually cares what you’re doing on Instagram because we’re all narcissistic millennial bastards. (Joking. Kind of.)

So indulge in that night in, turn your phone off and toast that glass of wine (that hasn’t cost you £5) to no mo’ FOMO.

 

Five podcasts to leave you feeling inspired in 2019

Ah the podcast hype – the newest way to learn new things, relax and get inspired all at the same time.

Dubious?

I’ll admit I wasn’t convinced at first either.

Firstly, the idea of having to concentrate on people talking, let alone attempting to do this whilst doing something else at the same time, sounded like it would take a lot of energy and concentration.

I struggle to process words very easily. I am that person renowned amongst friends, family and colleagues to hum in perfect pitch to every song that comes on the radio, but not know a single lyric (I must be a fun person to sit next to at work).

Alongside the 2019 societal pressure to keep up to date with the latest books, do well in my job, socialise, exercise and squeeze in that all-important down time to binge watch a Netflix series (Sex Education, anyone?) as well as broaden my horizons with a couple of podcast series, quite honestly felt overwhelming.

However, perhaps one of the reasons I’ve come to love podcasts so much is that they are multitasker and productive freak’s dream. After a couple of times practicing ‘tuning in’ to listening to two people have a conversation and actually process what they’re saying, I’ve actually found podcasts to be the perfect background soundtrack to:

  • life admin
  • quiet afternoons at work
  • cleaning my room
  • cooking dinner
  • solo dog walks
  • solo coffee dates
  • solo shopping
  • EVERYTHING

Realising I wasn’t the only one who has recently made way for a 30 min slot in their day to keep up with their favourite podcast, I did some digging into the recent podcast-listening statistics. Ofcom data confirms that podcasts are booming all over the UK, with almost 6 million adults tuning in each week, and the number of weekly podcast listeners has almost doubled in the past five years.

Whether you’ve never listened to a podcast before and are looking for a new show to spark off your inspiration, or you’re a seasoned pod-professional looking for your next recommendation, check out my favourite podcasts to leave you feeling inspired in 2019…

heads up: I realise that being a 22 year old female, not all the podcasts below will appeal to everyone, so I have popped some notable mentions in some  different podcast genres that I have heard so many good things about (and are planning on listening to myself!!!).

Ctrl Alt Delete

I was drawn to this show at the very beginning of my podcast journey, when it kept popping up on recommendation posts as a great podcast for women in digital, and there began my love affair with Emma Gannon.

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*fangirls*

Emma’s created over 180 episodes, with a hugely varied cast, meaning I’m still working my way through them. In her podcast eps, recommended particularly for women in digital or creative fields, Emma interviews people she admires about themes such as creativity, the internet, social media, feminism, identity, mental health, careers and everything in between.

This is hands down the most inspiring podcast I’ve listened to, and every time I finish listening to an episode I feel like I’m ready to start writing the next bestseller, lead a new social movement, and write up the business plan for my new startup, all at the same time. It was super hard to pick only 3 starter episodes, so if you’re interested in listening, definitely have a flick through the episodes as you’re bound to find someone you love on the guest list.

Top three eps to start on:

Desert Island Discs

The classic. The universal king of all radio shows. BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs is the absolute gem of British radio show turned podcast, in which guests share the soundtrack of their lives, and reveal which eight tracks, book and luxury they would take to a desert island.

With possibly the most extensive, star-studded guest list I’ve ever come across, I was surprised to hear the deep insights into each guest’s life, from what first comes across as a relatively superficial concept. I absolutely adore music, and hold strong memories and attachments of various albums and songs to periods of my own life, which is why I love hearing of the tracks that have accentuated other people’s lives.

Again, with such an incredible cast and SO many episodes to choose from, it really was difficult to pick only three episodes to start on. However, having forced myself to pick three, my favourite episodes are all with guests that are so different to the stereotypical founder/influencer/girlboss/activist podcast guest I am used to. My top three episodes included guests that surprised me with their life stories and insights, but I’ve yet to find a Desert Island Disc episode I haven’t enjoyed, and for this reason, I would highly, highly recommend listening to this show.

Top three eps to start on:

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. In each episode, guests explore what their failures have taught them about life and ‘how to succeed better’.

In an era of positive curation, where maintaining a flawless impression of our lives (both online and offline) is the done thing, real discussions around failure are few. Having personally struggled with the concept of ‘failure’, as a result of being a self-confessed perfectionist and over-thinker, I find this podcast so very refreshing and humanising.

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Yoohoo! It’s me! Just wanted to let you know that Season 3 of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day starts this Wednesday 2nd January 2019. This season will have 10 WHOLE NEW EPISODES, including our first ever live recording on 5th Feb with Kristen Roupenian who wrote the viral short story sensation, Cat Person, (if you want to book tickets, do visit the @foylesforbooks website). I’m so excited to share with you a wonderful line-up of new guests. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the podcast via iTunes so you’re the first to get new episodes…and while you’re there, please feel free to rate and review. Never sure what that does, tbh, but apparently it’s important and I love reading your comments anyway. And thank you @idlechitchat for the gorgeous illustration #podcast #howtofailwithelizabethday #failure #success #interview #writersofinstagram #newseason #newyear #2019 #idlechitchat

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Listening to successful authors, activists, musicians and more speak so candidly about their failures and regrets, reveals such a personal and human side to the ‘celebrities’ who often seem to be living a life a million miles away from your own. This podcast is also a nice reminder to trust that in every ‘failure’ is a valuable learning, and to not be afraid of imperfection.

Top three eps to start on:

*Side note: I didn’t think that when I put this episode on whilst on my lunch break walk to Sainsbury’s one day, I’d be quietly crying at the salad bar 15 minutes later. Listen with caution (and tissues).

How I Built This

The only US podcast to make the list (I clearly prefer the soothing soundtrack of a stuttering British voice), but it’s a gooden.

In this series, Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s most famous companies. ‘How I Built This’ interviews innovators, and entrepreneurs on their journeys from the initial idea to the movements they’re known for today. This one I find takes a little more concentration to listen to – whether that’s because of the accent, or a slightly more detailed and factual narrative – I find I prefer to listen to this podcast when I’m not distracted by anything else. Despite this, this podcast is a real ‘rags to riches’ inspiration and it’s so interesting to hear the humble beginnings and personal stories behind some of the world’s best known brands.

Top three eps to start on:

Love Stories

Being the biggest Dolly Alderton fan in the whole world, naturally her podcast series named ‘Love Stories’ was going to be in my top list. Originally released to tie in with the release of her debut book (and THE best book I read in 2018), Everything I Know About Love, Dolly talks to guests about their most defining relationships, and the loves of their lives.

(Full disclosure: I also religiously tune into The High Low, Dolly’s other pop culture podcast series with Pandora Sykes, but I thought it would be unfair to waffle on about two of Dolly’s podcasts.)

Anyway, back to Love Stories. The types of love discussed are not limited to romantic; love of family members, friends, careers and so much more are expressed in each episode. This is honestly one of the most heart-warming and uplifting series I’ve listened to, and have adored listening to this on many a Sunday morning to restore my faith, in love/life/human beings.

Top three eps to start on:

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❤️💓LOVE STORIES WITH JESSIE CAVE💓I couldn’t have been happier to chat with the writer performer and artist @jessiecave, who was always one of my dream guests for series two. I have loved her work for years, particularly its exploration of insecurity, jealousy, inadequacy and codependency in love. She is admirably and unfalteringly honest – in her work, life and in our conversation for this episode – which I am always deeply grateful for. We talk teenage dreaming, a place of fantasy in everyday life, her unrequited love affair with acting, how our parents shape us forever, her one night stand that turned into a great love and a family and her latest show one woman show Sunrise – a hilarious and heartbreaking real life story of letting go of someone you love, but cannot be with. Link in bio. (Sunrise is about to go on tour and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It was one of the most moving hours I’ve ever spent in the theatre).

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What I’m going to listen to next:

Which podcast shows do you listen to? What are your favourite episodes of all time?

6 Cool Things to Do on a Weekend Break in Berlin

In January 2017 (in my second year of University) my boyfriend and I started our now annual tradition of taking a short city break at the beginning of every year. We went to Copenhagen, which was eye-wateringly cold (there genuinely were almost real tears) but absolutely beautiful.

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Copenhagen, Denmark – January 2017

Exploring a new city was the perfect remedy to those inevitable January blues (mourning the departure of the Christmas holidays at home, and oh, hello to January exam stress), and we found super cheap flights and accommodation deals, as well as there being very few tourists around.

And there begun our yearly travel tradition.

Not really knowing where we wanted to explore the following year, we embarked on a srprs.me trip, soon after I finished my third year University exams. Srprs.me is an Amsterdam-based travel company through which you book a city break for the dates, budget and ‘theme’ you’re looking for… and then turn up at the airport not knowing where you’re going.

(I will write up a blog post on this in the future, or please drop me a message if you’d like to know more about this trip!!

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On a day trip to Vienna, Austria from Bratislava, Slovakia – January 2018

We ended up with a city break in Bratislava, a city I never would have chosen to visit myself (purely due to not knowing anything about the city) but absolutely loved. There’s so much to do and see in Bratislava, and we even managed to squeeze in a lil’ day trip to Vienna!

So I couldn’t resist when I saw some cheapy flights to Berlin – a city I’ve always dreamed of visiting – and a sleek, stylish and budget Airbnb close to the city centre. I booked the trip for two on a whim, on my lunch break at work one summer’s day – and luckily Joseph agreed to come with!

I feel like this trip came around really quickly, what with getting back to work in the new year, and so being the queen of planning with no plans, I was panicking. So whether you’re already in Berlin panicking about your lack of sightseeing plans, like I was, or planning ahead for an upcoming trip – sit back, grab a cuppa and explore some of the coolest things to do during your stay in Berlin…

Visit the East Side Gallery

The iconic urban art and graffiti covering the remains of the Berlin Wall is a must-see whilst you’re in Berlin, and the perfect place to capture that all-important edgy insta shot.

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The East Side Gallery can be found in the edgy district of Friedrichshain with the nearest metro stations being Warschauer Straße and Ostbahnhof.

Side note: The transport/metro system is so wildly efficient (though I suppose you shouldn’t expect anything less from the Germans!) Every single train was on time to the exact second, and the whole metro system is really easy to navigate, with day passes costing €7 – €7.70, depending on which travel zones you’d like to include. The metro system is a really efficient way of getting round the city, particularly if you’re trying to fit in a lot of activities in a day like we did!

You can walk all the way down the strip of the Berlin Wall, admiring over 100 incredible urban art pieces reflecting the political disarray in Germany in the late 1980’s.

As a fun little memento from your trip to the German capital, you can even get your passports stamped with old East/West German stamps that were used back when the Wall was still in use!

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Price: Free! Passport stamps €1 each.

Website: https://www.visitberlin.de/en/east-side-gallery

‘Berlin From Below’ Underground Tours

I had to admit, I was dubious when Joseph suggested we go on this tour, but it actually turned out to be one of my favourite things that we did on our trip! We went on the ‘Tour M – Under the Berlin Wall’ – the tour gives you an insight into the history of the escape tunnels and routes (through subway and sewer systems) used by those trying to flee East Germany. Our tour guide was one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever seen, and was so passionate and knowledgable about the escape stories – I was absolutely engrossed from start to finish, and the two hours underground flew by! The tour company also offer three other tours: ‘Dark Worlds’, ‘From Flak Towers to Mountains of Debris’ and ‘Cold War Nuclear Bunkers’ and are very reasonably priced, ranging from €10 – €15.

Price: €10-€15, depending which tour you’d like to go on

Website: https://www.berliner-unterwelten.de/en.html

Visit the Reichstag dome

The Reichstag (German parliament) is one of the city’s most significant historical buildings, and the dome and roof terrace can be visited by members of the public, offering spectacular views of Berlin, and a look back at the different German governments over time.

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Though it’s free to visit, advance registration is required to visit the Reichstag dome, and I’d advise registering at least a week in advance in order to have full flexibility around visiting slots. Having planned our Berlin itinerary at the very last minute, we only got round to registering the night before and this left us with a limited availability of visiting slots, either in early morning or late evening. We ended up securing a visiting slot at 8pm the next evening, which worked out well for us, but if you’re able to, then definitely register as early as possible to avoid disappointment!

Price: Free!

Website: https://www.bundestag.de/en/visittheBundestag/dome/registration/245686

Topography of Terror

The Topography of Terror is a museum located on the site of the buildings which during the Nazi regime housed the SS Reich Main Security Office, and the headquarters of the SD, Einsatzgruppen and Gestapo. I loved this museum – not only was it free (always a plus for fellow bargain-hunters like myself), but it also was an amazing and elaborate look into the terror techniques used by the Nazi leadership in Germany 1933-1945. The in-depth key figure profiles, never-before-seen documents, and explicit photographs made the history of the indoctrination and terror techniques used by the Nazi regime so much more real than the facts learned in my History GCSE. A must-visit if you have a spare couple of hours.

Price: Free!

Website: https://www.topographie.de/en/topography-of-terror/

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman. The memorial is around a 5 minute walk down from Berlin’s most important monument Brandenburg Gate, so I’d definitely recommend doing these two sights at the same time! The memorial is a site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs in a grid pattern. The slabs are all on slopes, which is meant to represent a moment of giddiness or uncertainty, and the openness and abstractness of the memorial is designed to give you the space to confront the topic in your own personal way. I felt quite emotional visiting the memorial, particularly as it was so quiet when we visited; this seemed to facilitate an eerie moment of reflection and contemplation of the horrors committed to the Jews during the Nazi regime.

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Price: Free!

Website: https://www.visitberlin.de/en/memorial-murdered-jews-europe

Zur Haxe

I have to say, with Germany not particularly being known for its food, we didn’t eat in anywhere massively worth talking about apart from the most amazing traditional Bavarian restaurant – which just happened to be a 5 minute walk down from our apartment!

It was the coolest restaurant – all the waiters and waitresses were dressed up in traditional Bavarian outfits, and the menu was insane – a traditional German menu of schnitzel and goulash.

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I even broke Dry January to sample a few pints of the local beer (now doing ‘Dry January, with a chance of showers‘)

Price: €9 – €14 for a meal, around €3-4 for a large beer

Website: http://zurhaxe-berlin.de/en/

My verdict:

I loved this city. It surpassed my (already quite high) expectations, and truly was the ideal place for a jam-packed city break: full of beautiful architecture, captivating history and a pretty efficient transport system!!! I’ll definitely be returning to Berlin in the future.

So there you have it – a whistle stop tour of the coolest things to do whilst on a weekend to Berlin.

Have any of you been to Berlin? What are your favourite things to do in the city?