Bossy Women

The other day I was told I was assertive. In all of my twenty five years on this planet, I can’t think of a single time where anyone has used the word assertive to describe me. I’m just not. I’m opinionated, I’m stubborn but I’ve never thought of myself as assertive.

I shy away from conflict, I hate any kind of attention being on me and while I would probably go away and moan about someone’s behaviour, I would never, ever bring it up with them unless it was affecting someone else.

Last week my coursemates and I were taking part in a clinical simulation activity. There was an actor pretending to be a patient and we were instructed to undertake the scenario as we would if we were qualified nurses (nine months to go until that’s a reality, scary scary.) We finished the scenario and then it was time for feedback.

We all spoke highly positively of each other’s performances and negatively of our own, as is always the way with group feedback and then we hit a sticking point. Every single one of us said we felt awkward about being assertive, we were worried it would come across as bossy, despite the fact we were practicing a scenario where someone’s life was at stake.

Why is it that a room full of women are so concerned about coming across as abrasive that we would finish taking part in an activity that we all did well in because we were being assertive and we were worried about it afterwards?

When women assert themselves, it’s bossiness.

When men do it, they’re being leaders.

This isn’t news to me. I’ve seen it time and time again but this was the first time I’d really experienced it. So I went away and had a little read about it and found some really interesting statistics (here’s the full article). It turns out that when women are criticised for being bossy or abrasive, it’s usually by other women.

So how about we stop doing that?

I’m certainly no saint when it comes to being less than kind about other women. We’ve all done it. We’ve all rolled our eyes at a woman we perceive to be bossy, gossiped behind someone’s back for being too ‘stand-offish’ when actually they were just trying to get their point across (usually in a room full of men who dismiss their words.) There’s only so much we can do to get men to take us more seriously instead of calling us bossy, but as women we can certainly change our own attitudes.

Here are a few ways we can support our fellow women instead of contributing to the ‘bossy women’ phenomenon.

Lift other women up

By empowering others and celebrating their successes you’re not taking away from your own. When you see a woman doing great things, don’t just tell her, tell everyone!

Use your platform

Whether you’re a woman in a position of power or just someone that spends a lot of time on Twitter, use your platforms for good. Stand up for others in team meetings, retweet female successes and if you hear anyone suggest a woman is being bossy rather than assertive, fight them (preferably verbally).

Educate Yourself

Don’t be ignorant to the gender inequalities going on around you. Read about it, talk about it, just don’t shy away from it. I sometimes find it hard to talk about inequality because I don’t want to get things wrong or feel like I’m not knowledgable enough, but the only way you can feel more knowledgable is by continued learning.

Rachel x-x-x

 

 

Follow:

Negative Nancies Need Not Apply

Bloggers love nothing more than to declare the blogging community ‘unsupportive’ and throw around that old chestnut ‘negativity’ like there’s no tomorrow.

When I first started blogging, I tried to insert myself into the mental health blogging community. On the whole I found the people were welcoming and I was so motivated by what others were doing that I wanted to succeed myself. Quickly, I began to forge real friendships with people from lots of different communities (shout out to my fave Whatsapp girls), and I truly felt supported by them.

Nowadays it seems like everywhere I look, people are berating the blogging community, accusing it of not being supportive enough. A community where people like Jemma at Dorkface has spent a whole day promoting others through her Twitter account, where Bethany from B,Rambling features her favourite posts of the week in a Monday Medley, where Queen Beady routinely shouts out her favourite accounts on Twitter and Instragram.

When are we going to stop complaining and start recognising the enormous amount of support in this community that’s happening all of the time?

I’ve always felt like Twitter is a positive place on the whole. It’s people retweeting other’s selfies with ‘yaaas’ or a ‘damn girl.’ It’s retweeting posts that you love and want others to see.

Maybe it becomes harder to see the positives when you become so intertwined with social media that you confuse it with your own self-worth. Suddenly you have 3,000 followers but you don’t have the tight knit community that you felt like you had at 500 followers. But if you’re following the right people, you’ll see that support is a huge part of the community, and it’s everywhere, every single day. I can’t scroll down Twitter without seeing someone retweeting someone else’s post or sharing a list of their favourite blogs.

The blogging community isn’t negative at all, at least not from where I’m sitting. There are always going to be cliques in the blogging community, it’s human nature. But you don’t have to be part of one to feel the positive effects of the community. Just being yourself is enough.

(P.S. if you’re not following the people I mentioned above, what you doing? Get following!)

Rachel x-x-x

Follow:

How To Do Everything

“I don’t have time.”

I seem to mutter this to myself on a daily basis. I’m not talking about the millennial motto of ‘I’m just so busy’ (That’s a post for another day), but rather having so many interests and goals on the regular that you just don’t know how to fit them all in.

One part of my personality that I love is how driven I am. I’m motivated and I work hard but I also hold myself to a really high standard that isn’t always achievable. My daily to do list doesn’t just have tasks but also a daily habit tracker to make sure that I practice keyboard, ukulele and guitar, read, write, exercise, practice yoga and journal every day. On top of uni work and blogging it can all get a little overwhelming. Add in all the future projects that I want to plan for, and the 5 year plan that I’m trying very hard not to stick quite to rigidly too (yes, people do actually have these), I feel like life is currently a tick box exercise of to-do lists.

I am a person who very much wants to do everything that I ever contemplate doing in my mind. And it turns out that you can’t actually do everything because that’s not sustainable and you become exhausted, over-reliant and coffee and don’t sleep.

So here are a few ways you can feel like you’re doing everything and also get some very much needed me-time too.

Cut your list down

Chances are your massive list is just too long. At one point my daily to-do list included 15 habits I wanted to keep up with. It was just too much so I cut the list down by half and now it’s way more manageable. I wrote about using a habit tracker here so you can see what my list looks like now.

Change your ‘Ands’ to ‘Ors’

One big problem I had with having lots of things to do on my list was that I just didn’t want to do each of them every day. Instead of feeling like I needed to practice guitar, keyboard and ukulele each day, I just felt overwhelmed. Now I try to do one these a day: guitar OR keyboard OR ukulele. All is just far too much.

Schedule your relaxation time

If I don’t schedule time to relax, it doesn’t happen. It might seem a bit sterile having a box to tick on my to-do list that says relax but if that’s what helps to remind you then that’s fine.

Don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong

Most of my friends seem not to understand when I say that I like to come home and write or practice guitar or workout. They like to go home and relax but I’ve realised that’s just not how I’m wired and I much prefer to use my time productively. I used to think I was the weird one in this scenario, that I should want to come home and watch television and not think about anything important until the next day, but I’ve since learned that no one is the weird one here. It’s totally okay to come home and want to do a load more of productive activities just as it’s okay not to want to.

Don’t beat yourself up

Finally, and this is the one I struggle with most, don’t feel bad for not doing everything. You don’t have to productive every second of the day. Some days you’ll be able to manage more than other days. There’s no secret formula to getting everything done but organisation goes a long way.

Rachel x-x-x

Follow:

Recent Reads #4: Serial Killers, Inappropriate Relationships and Mental Illness

My recent reads have been very much thriller based, which probably isn’t a surprise to anyway, seeing as it’s always my favourite genre.

Good Me, Bad Me | Ali Land

This book was going to end up in my hands before I’d even read the blurb. I first read that Ali Land was previously a mental health nurse so I knew I had to give the novel a whirl and I was so not disappointed.

Good Me, Bad Me is a compelling read about Annie, a young girl whose mother is a serial killer. Given a new name and moving in with a foster family, Annie hopes to finally be free of her chilling past, but things don’t go quite so smoothly.

It took me a while to get into this book. For some reason or another the beginning just didn’t grab me, but once I was 50 pages in I read the rest in almost one sitting. It’s completely unlike anything I’ve ever read and while some of the passages are quite difficult to stomach, it’s well worth it.

Trust Me | Zosia Wand

Man was this a rollercoaster ride. Lizzie is only ten years older than her partner’s son and while she’s not technically his step-mother she feels responsible for him in ways that only a mother can. However when Sam starts skipping school and become aggressive, Lizzie is determined to find out what’s going on.

Firstly, the plot is great. Again like Good Me Bad Me, I haven’t read many books with a similar story so it’s always nice to read something refreshing. I particularly loved the Lake District setting of tranquility, mixed with the turbulence of Lizzie’s home life.

I read this when it was getting a little colder in the Autumn but it has the feel of a great Summer novel.

Secrets For The Mad | Dodie Clark

I’ve watched Dodie on Youtube for a good few years now, even if my interest in the platform has dwindled over the past year. I had no idea what to expect when I saw that Dodie was bringing a book out and honestly there may have been a few eye rolls from my direction. However, I was really pleasantly surprised.

Dodie has spoken openly on Youtube about dealing with mental illness and I thought the content of the book was really mature and interesting and in many parts really positive.

The book is probably one of my favourite non-fiction books of this year even though I maintain that the title is questionable.

Rachel x-x-x

Follow:

Re-Igniting Passions

If you’ve clicked through to this post expecting some steamy relationship advice, I’m afraid that’s not what you’re getting today. So either move along or stick around and enjoy this very non-steamy blog post.

I have loved photography since I received my first bright red camera aged five. The first picture I ever took was one of my parents on my fifth birthday and of course, I chopped their heads off. The next was one of a pair of salt and pepper shakers and my third was of my favourite teddy, Rachel bear. I don’t know why she had the same name as me.

I remember being so excited to finish the film so we could take it to a camera shop (probably Max Spielmann’s, remember that?) and see what my photos looked like that. So much so, that I’m pretty sure I used up the whole film in a few days, snapping pictures of anything and everything.

When the photographs were developed I was probably somewhat disappointed that my pictures weren’t exactly Annie Leibovitz quality, but I’m sure my parents said they were arty nonetheless.

In the years that followed I went through camera after camera. I’d come from back from family holidays with reels of film to develop and I’d always be the one on school trips with a camera hanging from my neck. I just loved taking photographs.

When digital cameras became a thing, I was desperate to get my hands on one and when I did, I was amazed that I could take and delete tons of photos until I got the right one. Photography was just so exciting.

As I got older, I realised that I way preferred being behind the lens rather than in front of it and so at sleepovers when everyone was excited about trying out new makeup looks, I was the one who declined having my hair straightened or trying out an eyeliner in favour of being the photographer.

When I first got a phone with a camera, my interest dwindled. Photography was everyone’s thing now, yet when I was younger, no one had ever seemed the slightest bit interested. This sounds like a total ‘I don’t want to be into it if everyone else is,’ but it was also more that ‘my’ version of photography had changed.

Now people could take hundreds of photos of the same event, there were filters and all kinds of different settings to edit photographs. It wasn’t the ‘raw’ photography that I’d always enjoyed. It was easier to perfect the photos now, easier to edit out the things that the photographer didn’t want to be seen. And, I didn’t like it.

It took me a really long time to appreciate the fact that photos could be edited. I felt like the end products were’t real and honestly, I felt like there was no point taking photographs if they could just be edited to look the way I wanted. And so, for a long time I just stopped taking them.

I took photos of friends and events but landscapes and nature completely evaded me. I had lost interest in what was once a huge hobby of mine.

When I started blogging, just over a year and a half ago, I realised how much I’d missed in the photography world. Flatlays were everywhere and I was so envious of other blogger’s photography that it sparked something in me again.

I finally picked up my camera again with a new passion for photography and found that actually I quite liked editing photos and taking dozens of pictures until I got the right one.

But it wasn’t until I went to the Lake District last month that I could say I really had fallen in love with photography again. I finally was seeing the world as a photographer and even though I know my skills need so much work after them lying dormant for the last few years, I’m excited to improve and love photography like I used to.

Taking photos was one of my first loves and I’m so glad it’s slowly returning.

Rachel x-x-x

Follow:

The Roanoke Girls | Amy Engel

For every three or four books I read, I usually write a Recent Reads post (check out my latest, here) but sometimes a book just captivates me so much that it deserves a whole post to itself.

‘Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.’

The girls of the Roanoke family – beautiful, rich, mysterious – seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them that’s never spoken.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.
Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

The Roanoke Girls sat on my bookshelf for ages. I’m embarrassed to say that I kept prioritising others books because I was pretty sure I’d enjoy The Roanoke Girls so I knew it was a good back up when I didn’t have anything else to read. As it turns out, as soon as I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down. I started it one morning before university and I’d finished it by that evening. It was just that good.

The story itself is so captivating but, without a doubt the best part of the book is Amy Engel’s writing. It’s raw, powerful and intelligent and definitely a contender for one of the best books I’ve read this year, if not for the last few years. The best way I can describe the book is that it’s dark. It covers a lot of difficult topics that I’m not going to go into much here because *spoilers* but the novel opens with a death and the macabre nature just keeps coming. In a similar way to The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde which I reviewed a few months ago, the novel sizzled with a dusky Summer feel which I loved and helped me picture the Roanoke estate so much better. The small town vibe mixed with the creepy undertones which ran through the book really created an unsettling atmosphere that worked so well with the plot progression.

The Roanoke Girls is so heart-wrenchingly sombre and yet it dazzles with a youthful feel, especially in the present day chapters where Lane meets with her old friends. The book questions the meaning of family, of hometown ties and sisterhood and will leave you with so many questions that you’ll want to go right back to the start and read again for any clues.

If you only read one book this year, The Roanoke Girls should be it.

Rachel x-x-x

Follow: