It sounds absurd to say now, but I thought my ex was the one. I was no holds barred crazy in love with my ex boyfriend and I can honestly say I’d never felt that way before. The relationship was unstable at times and we drove each other crazy, but even when he bailed on our future oh so many times, I still had a feeling deep down inside telling me that we had a future together. It was almost like I couldn’t ‘see’ that future, but had that ‘just knowing’ feeling that people talk about when they meet the one.

As it goes, my so called ‘one’ decided to break my heart and, possibly, leave me for another girl (not confirmed but assumed from the evidence I have seen online. Hey, social media stalking is totally normal after a break up). But this break up hit me hard. So hard that I cried in the toliets at a blog event just at the thought of my ex being on dating websites. So hard that one of my oldest friends proclaimed she was worried about me as she’d never seen me this cut up over a guy before (and she’d seen me get over a relationship that was even more unstable/up and down than this one!). So hard that I very nearly sold/gave up my expensive Boomtown Fair ticket just because I was scared I’d see him there with his new girlfriend.

Let’s look at the facts here though to really drive this home.

Formidable Joy | Personal | How a music festival helped me get over my break up | Love | Relationships

  • Boomtown Fair has an estimated 60,000 people attend/camp every year, so you can imagine how slim the chances of me bumping into him would have been. But I do have the worst luck with stuff like that and always bump into people I know/ex’s at music festivals.
  • My Boomtown ticket was something like nearly £300 altogether. I was willing to not only sell this but possibly even just give it up and not go and lose all that money.
  • I am a girl that says yes to everything! I love random adventures and quirky music festivals so the fact that I almost said no to this just because of bumping into him made me so sad.

It sounds silly now, but I couldn’t even comprehend what I would do if I saw him with the girl he supposedly left me for. Or any girl. Or even just him alone. I was petrified it would ruin my whole experience, that I’d run back to the tent and cry for hours on end or get horribly, horribly drunk and do god knows what.

As it goes, I manned up and just went in the end, only with the belief that I probably wouldn’t even see him. And, the promise from my friend that if she saw him, she’d simply march me away with no explanation. I actually thought I saw him in the distance at one time and I panicked so much that I ducked behind a chair! But it wasn’t him, luckily, haha.

It was probably the second night when I was however many drinks in, dancing like a loony to a random band with my best friend beside me when I realized, ‘oh, hold on, I can’t actually remember the last time I cried over him’. And then thought, actually I’m kind of okay. Actually, if he was here, I doubt he’d be doing the same thing as me and that I was having a really bloody good time and that suddenly I’d come to realize that our lives had gone into completely different directions..and I was kind of okay with that.

It took a few more instances to help that feeling stick. It took me kissing a cute boy (who I probably shouldn’t have kissed) and donning a mermaid crown. It involved me doing so many insane and crazy things that weekend. My ex would never have done those things with me; he wasn’t a fan of trying new things. And when it poured down with rain and we were stuck in our tent for a few hours, I still couldn’t be sad. I thought about how my ex was probably hating this festival right now because it was just so out there so for it to rain and be cold would have been horrible for him. He hated to travel too and deep down I want someone who likes to travel and likes to say yes to adventure and crazy out there things.

So even though the hurt of how he left me and how happy he is is yet to go away (not that I don’t want him to be happy, I just think its a little unfair how he can leave me for someone else in a horrible, horrible way and be happy in a new relationship with no remorse), I am okay.

Boomtown would have been fun with him. He didn’t like to try new things, but, with a push, he’d give things a go with my encouragement. It meant I would have had warm snuggles when sheltering from the rain and an endless supply of butterfly kisses when waiting in line. It meant I would have had someone to carry me over all the mud and someone to look after me when I drunk too much. It meant I could have added more amazing memories to our once amazing relationship and honestly? It meant he probably would have had a more amazing time with me then what he probably did in reality (I assume just getting drunk the whole time and partying, from what I’ve been told about the people he went with – I can’t imagine he took the time to explore or experience all the crazy and fun things that I did.)

Oh, and this isn’t a dig at him. Even though he hurt me, he was the most amazing person I ever met. I loved him so, so much and I’m so, so thankful for everything he did for me and all the great times we had together. I’ll probably always love him on some level, just, due to the way everything played out, I just don’t like him very much as a person right now. Love him still in someway, yes, probably. But not like. And I know you all know what I mean by that.

I am enjoying being single and the prospect of adventures when I like with whoever I like. I am okay with making my favourite vegan pizza for myself now and I think I am finally okay with accepting that I’ll never see my amazing extended Romanian family again (who I still miss so much). I am okay with accepting he is the type of person to jump from relationship to relationship when I simply am not and cannot. I am okay with the possibility that I may just bump into him one day in the future and that I can be civil and nice..although luckily I can’t see this ever happening..!

But hey. I had an even more amazing time without him and that’s why this festival helped me get over this break up. So if you’re ever struggling to get over a break up, spend an obscene amount of money on a festival ticket without even doubting how much money you’re spending. Get your best friends together, make yourself a pretty floral crown, go to that music festival and say yes to as many goddamn crazy, unique and out there things you can.

Because after that, you’ll never look back.

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Living alone is no easy feat.

Since moving into my own place, I have:

  • Taken half an hour to work out how to use the cooker (even with instructions from my brother)
  • Taken an hour to work out how to switch the fridge on
  • Cried, on average, at least once a day about how I miss my ex and wish he was still choosing to come with me
  • Spent more money on alcohol than actual food
  • Used a footrest to reach the fuse switch and used the step stool as a foot rest

And I’m still learning and adapting to living alone every single day. I still find it hard to believe that I finally have my own space. I have these moments of proudness – like when I set up the TV/internet all alone, or changed a whole bed set by myself (I have done this before, obviously, but this time it was extra hard because it’s a double and the quilt is so damn heavy). And in these moments I almost have to pinch myself.

How did I find the guts to do this alone?

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | How I found the guts to live alone

Well, truth be told, I didn’t. The moment I saw my brother’s flat for the first time, I fell in love with it. I thought how perfect it would be for me and how it was just the right size. The first time my ex and I visited the flat, I thought about how perfect it would be for us. But when my brother chose to move out, I just couldn’t find the guts to move in myself.

I was petrified – but also kind of excited – of the idea of living alone and was convinced I could never afford it. So when my ex and I got back together and agreed to have a fresh new start, it felt like all my problems had answers. I could finally have my own space – well, with him – and move out of home. I could finally get on with the next part of my life. I was slightly sad I’d never get the chance to live alone entirely – just because I’d always wanted to nail that down and prove that I could – but the idea of waking up to the person I love every morning made it all worth it.

We went up to the flat, one day, when he had an interview in the area. Afterwards, we grabbed a vegan pizza from a takeaway and ate it on the floor of the flat talking about our future. It was like all of those movies when couples move into flats and have no furniture. They sit on the floor and eat. The mattress is shoved in a corner on the floor, with piles of DVD’s around them. It was all so romantic. It felt so right.

So, of course, when we broke up again, I was devastated. The future we had planned was gone in an instant and my whole world came crashing and tumbling down. At 28 years old, I was so ready to move out of home and become more independent and the idea of that not happening just made me feel like I was moving backwards. I was so angry at my ex boyfriend for taking that away from me; for not only breaking my heart but for taking away an entire future. Not just his future and our future but my future too.

But as time went on, I turned that anger into determination. I’d already told my brother we were moving in, so the flat was still available. I’d already gotten a job nearby, which meant I could commute from my home or from the flat. I just didn’t know if I could do it alone.

So I forced myself to. I didn’t want him to take away my future too. I didn’t want to move backwards and put my life on hold just because of him. I didn’t want to miss such an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t going to let him ruin my future as well as his.

And so I did it.

It may have happened bit by bit, but in between nursing a broken heart and beginning an entire new career, I moved to a whole new town and into my own place. Without him. Not alone, entirely, as I had family to help me. But I was the one who unpacked. I was the one who did the first big shop (even if it did consist of mostly alcohol). I was the one who sorted out all the bills. Who set up the internet and TV. Who sat in that living room, moments after my dad had left, alone and petrified about this journey ahead.

But I did it.

And I guess if he hadn’t come back into my life – ever so briefly – I would have never had the guts.

So thanks, to him, I guess.

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Sometimes it’s just nice to make a list of happy things. It’s lovely to write, it’s lovely to look back on when you’re feeling down and it’s a great personal touch to any blog. So, to celebrate the fact that today is International Day Of Happiness, here is a list of just some things that make me happy.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | What makes me happy | International Day of Happiness

MUSIC | No matter what mood I’m in, music can cheer me right up. Some songs make me dance around like a lunatic. Some songs make me think of happy memories. Other songs I enjoy moshing to at gigs, and some I sing at the top of my voice when driving along.

LONG SUMMER EVENINGS | In summer, days seem to last forever because it gets dark so late. I love that moment in the day when it’s late afternoon – but it feels like much, much later – and you’re outside nursing a beer or spending time with friends. You can hear that summer sound – someone mowing their garden in the distance and maybe the low rumble of relaxing music somewhere else. You think the day is almost over but when you check the time you realize that you’ve still got hours before you even have to move a muscle.

CHILDHOOD MOVIES | Some all time favourites that never fail to cheer me up are The Mummy, Three Men and a Baby, Father Of The Bride, Look Who’s Talking, Ferngully, Hercules, Thumbelina…there are many more but stick any of these on and I guarantee you I’ll be right as rain.

MY BOYFRIEND | My boyfriend drives me crazy to the point that no other can. If I didn’t love him so much and know that it was all in good will, I would say it was on the verge of bullying because he just gets some sick kick out of annoying me! But, that being said, he makes me so happy as well. Whether that’s planning our summer adventures together or having a quick snuggle before work – there’s not one moment (for the most part) that he doesn’t make me happy. He can make me laugh so hard that I snort or cry tears of happiness and being that humour is such an important thing to me in a relationship, it works out pretty damn well for me.

AVOCADO | #Sorrynotsorry. I just love it. On toast. In guacamole. By itself. It’s just so damn good that I even want an avocado tattoo one day.

LAZY SUNDAY MORNINGS | On the rare occasion that I have a Sunday off work, I like to have breakfast in bed with a cuppa and catch up on New Girl and Made In Chelsea. I also read some blogs and genuinely stay in bed for as late as I like – hey, that’s what Sundays are for though!

MY FRIENDS & FAMILY | Obviously. I can always rely on them; my family look after me and look out for me in ways I couldn’t even imagine, and my friends are always on hand to cheer me up when I need it.

AMARETTO | This stuff is lethal because it’s so tasty that it makes you get drunk very easily, but it has been my drink of choice for many years now. I love it with coke…

A COLD BEER AT A GIG | ..but saying that, there really is nothing better than a cold beer at a gig. Heck, even a warm beer at a gig is okay. I can’t drink anything else when seeing live music (except maybe a jager bomb or two if I’m planning a wild night…)

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | What makes me happy | International Day of Happiness

THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE | One of the best parts of a big night out is conferring with your friends the next day. You discover what stupid sh*t you got up to drunk, they tell you things you forgot happened…and the drunken pictures. Oh the drunken pictures.

PARTY SAUSAGE ROLLS | They were always the sole reason I’d go to any most family parties when I was younger but now I even adore the Linda McCartney vegan ones. You just can’t go wrong with mini/party sausage rolls…

OFFBEAT INDIE MOVIES | Don’t get me wrong, I love popular blockbuster movies too, but I absolutely love stumbling across indie gems that I end up loving so much. In the past, I’ve discovered movies such as In Search of a Midnight Kiss, The Pill, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Like Crazy, A Long Way Down, Nesting and Obvious Child. Plus I guess finding these unique relatively unheard of films makes me feel really cultured..!

CUTE NOTEBOOKS | With pretty prints or inspiring slogans…I don’t have any use for half the notebooks I already own and yet I continue to buy them.

MY BLOG | It’s my baby…!

MY BED | Yep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into some things that make me happy: what would be on your list? Let me know!

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Please note, this post first appeared on World Nomads as my entry into their 2018 writing scholarship.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | The one thing no one tells you about travel

When I stepped off the airplane and onto the soil belonging to a cold and drizzly Berlin recently, I felt a mixture of things.

Anticipation. Fear. Excitement. Regret. Optimistic.

I wasn’t supposed to be on this trip alone. I’d booked the last minute deal for my on-again-off-again boyfriend at the time, hoping the ability to explore somewhat foreign lands would help him him fall in love with travel the way that I did and kickstart the recovery of his depression.

But at the last minute, he changed his mind. Facing Berlin alone was not something I had wanted, nor was it something I was looking forward to. But, travel is always an opportunity that is hard to say no to – alone or otherwise.

Whilst there, I discovered a new thrill of dining alone in quirky restaurants. The Dungeons were particularly fun – gruesome history is kinda my thing – and one of my favourite experiences was stocking up on snacks and hopping on a sightseeing bus tour. Whilst it rained outside, I snacked away, warm and content, listening to Berlin’s history.

At Topographie des Terrors, I had a reality check and realized that though my heart hurt and though I was sad over a boy, my problems were nothing compared to the horrors that had gone on throughout Germany’s history. My situation and my feelings seemed almost laughable in comparison.

My realisation that maybe with time I would be okay came the evening I arrived at Museum Island and gazed in awe at Berliner Dom. With the sun just beginning to set and creating the most stunning backdrop for such a beautiful building, I realized that getting here wasn’t so easy, but it had resulted in a moment of clarity and content. I took in the astonishing view and knew deep down that he could not take that away from me.

But as I let myself into an empty hotel room at the end of each day, I did not expect to feel such a strong pang of loneliness. The sharp but dull ache I felt in that moment made me realize that there are some things people don’t tell you about travel.

Travel opens your eyes to new cultures, new experiences and memories to last a lifetime. It’s one of the best things anyone can do in the short lives we have.

But it can get lonely too, especially when you’re faced with an empty hotel room for an entire evening in a foreign country, not quite knowing what to do with yourself. I know now how to take precautions to avoid feeling this way.

I knew I’d feel a lot of things during my visit to Berlin. The last thing I expected was to feel loneliness.

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I have a confession to make. I’m what most people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. In January, I always pledge to try Veganuary and manage to go a full month of each year without any form of meat and dairy – but once 1st February hits, I begin to struggle.

The first time I messed up – back in January 2016 – I felt like a complete failure. I’d accidentally picked up something that wasn’t vegan and didn’t realize until much later on when I’d already scoffed it down. Then, in February, I pledged to try and be as vegan as possible still, but this still didn’t stop me feeling guilty when I gave into my cravings from then onwards.

It was meeting my ex boyfriend that made me try and go fully vegan again. As he was vegan – and I spent so much time at his place that I practically lived there – it was really easy – except for the days when I wasn’t with him. Now that we’re no longer together, it’s even harder.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | The fundamentals of being a 'failed' vegan | Vegan | Food

I find it hard to commit to being vegan for a few different reasons. Firstly, it’s convenience. When I have money and go shopping for lots of vegan goodies in advance, eating green is like second nature to me. But when I’m skint and have nothing planned for lunch at work, it’s so much easier for me to run to Wilko’s and grab a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar than, well, fruit or otherwise.

My second reason is my cravings. I still get cravings for things like McDonalds, Chinese food or pizza on a regular basis. I think this is because I pencil being vegan in with being healthy – and when I’m on a health kick, working out and eating healthy, it’s only a matter of time before I think I deserve a treat like a burger or a pepperoni pizza. And of course, if I’m PMSing or I’ve had a bad day, it’s so tempting to go to the McDonalds drive through on the way home from work!

My final reason is that it’s hard to eat vegan when I’m at home, especially when my Dad is cooking one of his famous Sunday roast dinners or ordering our traditional Saturday night curry. I have learned to get better at this though – these days, I’ll swap chicken for a vegan pie and have pretty much the rest of a roast dinner, and often I say no to a curry altogether.

I think what stops me committing fully is that I’m not doing it for the animals. Well, I am in some ways, but I’m also mostly doing it for the health reasons. I know where meat and dairy comes from and I’ve read the facts, but perhaps I haven’t watched enough documentaries to put me off meat and dairy entirely. I’m still at the point where I’m ignorant to where it comes from – I know, but I don’t think about it – and so I don’t feel as guilty when I give into a craving.

However, I’m learning to take on a more healthy approach to being what some people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. I prefer to think of myself as a transitioning vegan and I’m a lot less harsh on myself now. You can never be 100% perfect, and even those who have been vegan for years may accidentally mess up from time to time.

Since joining some Facebook groups, I’ve learned that as well as cutting out meat and dairy and all non-vegan products from your life, essentially, being vegan means being as vegan as possible. It’s impossible to be 100% entirely vegan – simply because of things out of our control – but it’s also so much better to just try. It’s important to accept your mistakes and remember tomorrow is a new day. It doesn’t make you wrong or make you a failure. It makes you human.

Even if you eat vegan six days a week and have one day off, you’re still miles ahead than complete meat eaters. You’re still making a difference and you’re still doing something good.

I’ve also downloaded a habit tracker app, so I can see an overview of the days which I’ve eaten completely vegan and which days I’ve slipped up – seeing a calendar filled with green and red dots puts it all into perspective for me and makes me more and more determined to turn all those red dots into green ones.

But, mostly, I’ve come to accept that I try my hardest to be vegan and that even if I do mess up, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure or doesn’t mean I’m not a vegan. It just means I’m trying my best.

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