18 July 2018

The Proudest Day of My Life

On Friday 13th July, I graduated. 
Three years of hard work, stress and tears all lead up to one special moment and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. If you read my University Reflection post you'll know that I didn't have the best start at university. I didn't think I'd ever see graduation day but guess who did it?! I'm officially a Bachelor of Arts and I couldn't be happier. 

My graduation ceremony took place in the morning which meant that I was up at 5am trying to make myself look presentable. I can't begin to tell you how much I stressed about what I was going to wear and how I was going to do my hair and makeup. Either you suit academic dress or you don't and I was determined that I wasn't going to look like a fool (even though I probably did).

The preparations started at half past seven when I went to collect my official certificate and my academic dress. When my parents left me I was a bundle of nerves but the minute I met up with Tori and Caroline the butterflies in my stomach were soon replaced with excitement. We'd spoken about graduation day since we became friends in our first year and let me tell you, the past three years have absolutely flown by. It still doesn't feel like I've graduated. 

We signed in, collected our tickets and our official certificate, then walked down some stairs to collect our cap and gown. Then, we had to get dressed and oh my goodness, those gowns are so much heavier than they look. My cap and gown isn't the comfiest thing I've ever worn but I felt so proud to be walking around the city in it. I was graduating. I'd worked so hard for this. 
I WAS SO PROUD OF MYSELF!

The gardens outside the University were full of soon-to-be graduates and their families taking photos, laughing and sharing such a wonderful achievement. I knew that the day was going to be emotional but nothing could have prepared me for how many times my mum cried. I spotted her stood with my dad so I walked over and shouted, 'Hi Mum.' Well, she burst into tears which in turn made me cry, I've never seen so much pride in my parent's eyes before. 

I'll be honest, I could've cried when I saw the girls in their caps and gowns. We've been together for three whole years. It doesn't seem like a long time but you'd be surprised at the bond you make. We've watched each other grow not only as writers but as human beings and I couldn't have wished to spend my time at university with better, more talented people. I can't thank them enough for everything they've done; taking me under their wing on my first day on the course, accepting my weirdness and always making sure I got back to the train station when I'd had a few too many in the Pilgrim. I wish them all the luck in the future because I know they're going to do AMAZING things. 

We joined in with everyone else and had our photos taken. I feel so proud when I look at them. We posed and laughed, all whilst I tried to clip Caroline's cap to her head so that it wouldn't fly off. I'm so thankful that it wasn't as hot as it had been earlier in the week - I'd only been in my cap and gown for ten minutes and I was already sweating. 

Then my Mum and Dad pulled me away for a moment and told me that there was someone they'd like me to meet. 

This is Bethan. 
We'd never met before, well not properly. 
We were born on the same day, in the same year and in the same hospital. Our mums were in beds next to each other and they put mine and Bethan's cots next to one another too. When my Mum would go for a shower, Bethan's mum would look after us both and vice versa. In the first few years, our mum's kept in touch and sometimes I'd hear her say that she'd bumped into Barbara and Bethan in ASDA. I heard these names all the time but I never knew who they were. 

Fast forward 21 years and Bethan and I attended the same university, graduated on the same day and at the same ceremony. Bethan in Fashion and me in Creative Writing. It's one of those things that was incredibly bizarre but made the day just that bit more special. Our mums couldn't stop taking photos of us. Apparently, the formation of the top photo is exactly what it was like in Whiston Hospital in 1997. 

We had our official photographs taken (with a weird little fake diploma) and then followed the sea of graduates and their families down Hope Street. The street was decorated with 'Congratulations Class of 2018' banners and cute little reminders of our time studying in a city we call home.

The graduation ceremony was held in the Anglican Cathedral and I feel incredibly lucky to have finished my university journey in such a beautiful building. Appropriately, a gin van was parked outside as families and friends gathered to have their photos taken. However, I opted out of having a gin - couldn't risk myself stumbling across the stage (which I was already convinced was going to happen). I chatted, hugged, laughed and cried with so many friends who all looked so amazing in their caps and gowns. I know I keep saying this but I really am proud of us all. 

Then before we knew it, it was time to go in. 
I'd say the hardest part of the whole process was trying to find my seat in the cathedral because it's a lot bigger than it looks. Thankfully, Tori and I were sat together and we soon found our seats but we were at the back, right-hand side of the hall so we didn't see much of the ceremony anyway. 

The ceremony itself was emotional but very, very long. As you'll know, you have to watch every student graduate and after a while, it becomes a little bit boring - especially when you're sat at the back and can't see a thing. In the first ten minutes, the girls and I tried to work out just what it is we had to do when we went up to collect our degree. We thought we would have been told before we went in but we had to work it out for ourselves. 

For future reference, if any of you are reading this and are yet to graduate, they read your name, you walk, shake the Chancellor's hand, shake the Vice Chancellor's hand and then walk off. 
You're welcome. 

When it was my turn to graduate, my heart was literally pumping through my chest. I'd been psyching the girls up all morning because I knew they were nervous but as always, I'm hopeless at taking my own advice. Before I knew it, I was handing my card into the woman, she read out my name and I walked across the stage. I shook the Chancellor's hand and he said, 'well done,' and then I shook the Vice Chancellor's hand but he wanted a proper chat. He asked, 'was it hard work?' to which I replied, 'yes, but so worth it.' Then, I walked down the ramp to find my tutor stood waiting to give us a hug. Plus, I DIDN'T FALL!

As I walked back to my seat, I couldn't quite believe what had just happened. I couldn't recall anything, I just did it. Thankfully Bethan's mum was sat front row and recorded the whole thing (which is pinned to the top of my Twitter profile) if you'd like to have a nosey. 

And just like that, I became a graduate. 
A Bachelor of Arts.
With Honours (you can't forget the honours!)

When the Chancellor said, 'you have all officially graduated from Liverpool John Moores University,' the girls and I burst into tears. It was over. The whole stressful, beautiful, hilarious experience was over. We'd officially graduated! We sang the national anthem and walked out in a procession onto the steps of the cathedral. My mum cried (again).

Outside the cathedral was packed full of families, friends and journalists all taking photos of us as we walked out. It was at this point that we went our seperate ways and went to spend some time with our families. My mum and dad couldn't stop giving me hugs and telling me how proud they were. I'll be honest, I was incredibly proud of myself too. 

From being young, so many people wrote me off. My English teacher at primary school told my mum that I'd never do anything because my writing wasn't good enough. In High School, my English teacher told me that I was wasting my time doing a creative writing degree. At University, a lecturer told me that I'd never be good enough to graduate. Well, here I am. 
Bachelor of Arts (with Hons) Creative Writing. 
I DID IT!

After the ceremony, our lovely lecturers held a little party for us at our beloved Redmonds Building as one final goodbye before we left. Tori and I drank too much prosecco and it was so nice to sit and chat with each other's families. My lecturer told my parents that I'm apparently incredibly funny and I somehow made a promise that by this time next year, I'll have turned one of my short stories into a radio play (we'll soon see).

Then, we attended the Prize Giving, drank even more prosecco and found out that one of our favourite lecturers was leaving. He'll be missed but a part of us was so glad that he was leaving with us because he was one of the best. The most emotional part was saying thank you and goodbye to our tutors. They've supported us so much over the past three years and I don't think we can ever thank them enough for the constant inspiration, belief and encouragement. 
I never thought I could ever believe in myself the way I do now and it's all thanks to them. 

In the late afternoon, I returned my cap and gown and we hopped on the train home. We spent the evening at our local Mexican, Sabroso, eating delicious food and drinking a lot of gin. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. 

Overall, the day can only be described as an emotional whirlwind. It still doesn't feel like it actually happened. I have never been prouder of myself than I was when I graduated and it's a day that I'll remember for the rest of my life. I felt so special. Being able to walk across that stage to the sound of applause made everything worth it. I'd do the late nights in the library and the tearful breakdowns again in a heartbeat if it meant that I got to relive my graduation again. 

Here's to the class of 2018!

Lots of Love,
Meg
xxx




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2 July 2018

My 21st Birthday

Since we last spoke, I've turned 21. 
I've been the big 2 1 for almost a month now and believe me when I say that the celebrations are still on-going. I've been on holiday, drank my body weight in gin and celebrated the milestone with my nearest and dearest. The day itself was an emotional whirlwind and I know I'll look back in years to come and smile. 

Before I start, I'm extremely grateful to everyone for their cards, presents and kind words, even Mitch who graced the people of Twitter with my top 21*embarassing* moments. I was really spoilt and a smile didn't leave my face for the entire day. 

I don't know about you but the night before my birthday, I like to stay up til midnight and see the day in. You'll be glad to know that I started my birthday in the traditional way. At 23:57 I hit the play button and danced around my room to 'New York New York' by Frank Sinatra. If there was going to be one song to bring in my 21st year, it was going to be Sinatra. 

 Dad and I went to the rugby the night before, so the screaming and shouting tired me out and I slept really well. I woke up the following morning to Buster jumping on the bed and giving me lots of birthday kisses. I followed him downstairs to find 'HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY' banners pinned to every wall and a huge 21 balloon in the corner of the living room. My cards were in a pile next to my presents and my Mum handed me a glass of bucks fizz to start the day off in style.

I sat down in front of the fireplace and opened my cards. I always open my cards first and I received some gorgeous cards with some lovely words written in them. I love a long, emotional speech and reading such nice things about myself from the people who mean the most to me was so heartwarming. I even got a 'To My Big Sister' card from the dog (definitely a highlight of the day). 

I never ask for much for my birthday and this year was no different. There was nothing in particular that I wanted but my family and friends never fail to spoil me and surprise me with the most thoughtful gifts. I feel so incredibly lucky to have people who know me so well. 

My Grandma and Grandad bought me the most stunning rose gold signet ring, something they bought my Mum for her 21st birthday. I promised them that I'd never take it off and I never have. It's the most beautiful thing I own (although quite a few family members now think that I'm engaged). 

My friends supplied the alcohol with various bottles of gin, wine and prosecco to add to my collection. I'm still going through the gin I got for Christmas so I think I've got enough to last me for the next few years. My Mum's close friend bought me a notebook and filled it with goals to complete in my 21st year - it was so motivating and I've already started filling it in. It'll be nice to look back on when I'm older and remember what will hopefully be the most successful year of my life. 

Then, my Mum and Dad. 
I do not deserve them. 
Along with a Pandora Disney charm, my favourite No. 7 foundation, a new Benefit mascara and a bottle of wine, they booked me on a tour around the Coronation Street set. If you follow me on Twitter, then you'll know that I absolutely LOVE the soaps, especially Corrie. Since being a little girl, it's been my dream to go and see the Corrie set so when they surprised me with the tour, I was absolutely ecstatic. 

I thought that was it, but then Mum handed me one last envelope. 
Inside was a card that read 'To Meg, hope you enjoy this as much as we're looking forward to it. Have a fantastic day! Love, Mum, Dad & Buster'. My first thought? They'd booked me driving lessons. My stomach started to flutter as I reluctantly glanced at the piece of paper folded inside the card. My eyes brimmed with tears as I read every little detail. They were taking me back to my second home. We were going back to Newquay! 

I basically rugby tackled them to the floor with all the love and hugs I could manage. It was the best gift I could have asked for. Cornwall holds a special place in my heart and to be able to spend my 21st birthday there was a dream come true. Oh and the best bit? We were going the following morning! 

The rest of my morning was spent packing. Having a holiday unexpectedly thrown upon me meant that I had to plan 20 different outfits, dig to the bottom of my drawer for my bikini and search the shed for my surfboard. It was a lot of effort when I all I could think about was being back on Cornish sand, drinking cider and spending every waking moment at the beach. 

Mum and Dad were going to take me to Haydock Races for the day but after a morning of packing, it wouldn't have been worth it. Instead, we decided to head to the Owd Bard at Bispham for a spot of afternoon tea. It's a huge barn that sells everything you could imagine and at the side is a small cafĂ© with tables and chairs outside (they do they best scones in the world!). It was so nice to sit in the sun, drinking tea and having a laugh with my Mum and Dad. 

Just down the road from the Owd Barn is Cedar Farm. 
It's a craft farm with something for the whole family; quirky shops, the cutest cafes and even farm animals to feed. I made friends with a baby goat called Truffle and I wanted to take her home with me. It was at that moment that I realised I wanted a baby goat for my birthday. 
Sadly, Mum said no. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the shops, drinking more tea and feeding the animals, although Mum made sure to keep an eye on me, just to check that I wasn't about to steal Truffle the goat. Cedar farm is such a hidden gem and it would be the perfect place to find a quirky present, I can't wait to go back again soon with Mum (and hopefully see Truffle again too!).

After a very chilled afternoon, we arrived home and started to get ready for my birthday meal. My Mum and Dad had booked for us to go to my favourite Italian restaurant so I made sure to make an effort. I got a lot of comments and questions on Instagram asking about my outfit for the night so I thought I'd link everything on the blog for you! 

I was super last minute with my outfit and I only bought my dress the night before my birthday. It's from Parisian by New Look and gave me all the Love Island vibes. I was reluctant to wear white at first but I absolutely loved my outfit and felt like a Princess for the whole night. My shoes are from Primark but they're just a simple nude heel so you can pick them up from anywhere. My bracelet is from Pandora and my hair was curled with the Mark Hill Pick N' Mix Medium Barrel

As I said, we spent the rest of my birthday evening in Quatros, a small Italian near Rainford. There's nothing more important than family and having a meal with my parents and grandparents was the best way to welcome 21. I absolutely love Italian food and there was so much choice on the menu, it was hard for me to pick just one thing. In the end, I opted for bruschetta and penne arrabiata, both of which were SO GOOD! 

As we ate, we watched the sunset over the fields and sang Happy Birthday one too many times. After our meal, we went and sat on the terrace with yet another glass of gin and laughed til our sides hurt. I don't know if that was because of the gin or the fact that my Dad is the funniest human being I know, but either way, I couldn't have asked for a better evening. Classy, funny and happy - just like me! 

After the meal, we went back home, opened another bottle of prosecco and Mum surprised me with my birthday cake. I was expecting a little figure of me stood in front of a Disney Castle with a bottle of gin in my hand. Instead, Mum opted for the gin/prosecco theme and it was even better than I thought it would be - I knew it was going to include gin somewhere. It was really yummy too!
We sang Happy Birthday for the 21st time (I'm not even joking) and I made my special birthday wish and before you ask, I'm not telling! 

I can't believe I'm 21. 
I really had the best day ever and I can't thank everyone enough for their kind words, presents and cards. It was a day full of laughter, love, happiness and gin - all the things I'll ever need in life. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends around me, especially my Mum and Dad who did everything they could to make the day as special as it was. 

This time next year, I'll be bombarding you with Taylor Swift lyrics! 

Here's to 21!

Lots of Love,
Meg
xxx









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8 June 2018

Twenty things I learned being 20

I've almost completed the first year of my twenties. 
Tomorrow, I turn 21. I can legally drink in America and for the first time, I actually feel old. When did I get so...adult????

I remember being little and going to a family friend's 21st birthday party. I told my Mum that I couldn't wait to be 21 because 'I can do what I want,' and here we are. I'll be honest, I still look like I'm 16, I haven't grown since I was 11 and I'm convinced that I'm still 18. I'm like a real-life Peter Pan, I never want to grow up. 

If you're new here, welcome to the yearly tradition on my blog where I tell you all about the things I've learned in the past year. In this case, I'll be telling you about the first year of my twenties and I must say, it's been really lovely. Sure, I've had my ups and downs but maybe it's true what they say - your twenties are some of the best years of your life. 

Without further ado, here are twenty things I've learned in my first year of being, well, twenty. 

1. You don't need to be part of a Girl Gang

For years I was under the impression that I needed to be part of a girl gang. It was really nice at first. I had this huge group of friends who had my back through anything, who'd hold my hair back when I was drunk, listen to my endless boy dramas and the group chat was never quiet. Sounds great, right? However, what you don't see is the endless bitching. Who has time for it?
I don't need to be part of a girl gang to feel like I matter. 

2. Speak your mind

I used to be incredibly shy and to an extent, I still am. I had a tendency to let people walk all over me and whenever anyone did something to upset me, I'd tell them that it was okay and I'd end up being the one to apologise. But I've stopped that now. If someone is doing something that is upsetting me or making me feel uncomfortable, I tell them. How else will they know?

A lot of people told me that I'd changed when in reality they couldn't quite believe the fact that I was standing up for myself. If I don't, who else will?

3. People will leave and that's okay 

The first few months of being 20 saw me grow apart from two of my closest friends. It was hard but I know I've come out stronger and more confident because of it. I've learned that if you're not outgrowing friendships then you're not growing up. I barely talk to anyone that I went to school with and it's allowed me to re-invent myself and my confidence has been boosted massively. 

4. iPhone is sooo much better than Android

I finally switched from Android to Apple and it was potentially one of the best adult decisions I have ever made. Where has portrait mode been all my life?

5. If you work hard good things will happen

Being twenty saw me complete the last year of my degree. It was a year of hard work, breakdowns and many tears but I did it. If it wasn't for all the determination, encouragement and late nights in the library, I would never be graduating next month. 

6. I really like going to the Rugby

In September, my Dad took me to my first rugby match or should I say, he dragged me along. It was the Saints Vs. Wigan derby and I was adamant that I was going to hate it. Almost a year later, Dad and I haven't missed a home game and I really, really like going to the rugby. It's more the atmosphere than the game but Saints are doing so well this season! 

7. Being sedated is hilarious

Two weeks after I turned 20, I had a tooth extracted in hospital under sedation. Apparently, I was singing along to Rick Astley and told my dentist that I was a dentist. I don't remember a thing but I'm really proud of myself for facing my fears. 

8. I love Liverpool Airport

It's definitely the nicest airport in the country. 

9. A little bit of self-belief is all you need 

I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to quit. I felt like I wasn't good enough and like I couldn't do anything. But it's surprising what a little self-love and self-belief can do. I am worthy! I can do this! (And I did)

10. Be happy in the skin you're in 

I'm finally comfortable in my own skin. 
I have acne but that doesn't define me. It doesn't change who I am and if people can't look past that then they're not worthy of my friendship. Since I've accepted this, I'm so confident in my own skin and I'm the happiest I've ever been. 

11.  A relationship should be an addition to your life

It shouldn't be your WHOLE life.

12. I love wearing fake eyelashes

They make my eyes so fluttery and pretty. I don't feel complete without my lashes on a night out. 

13. Push yourself 

I've really tried to push myself this year, especially in terms of my fashion choices. I've been buying things that I wouldn't normally buy and when I pull a particular outfit off, I feel so good about myself. It's really helped to boost my mood. 

14. Don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of. 

I've encountered my fair share of assholes this year and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that I'm worth more than a guy who thinks he can belittle me, call me the worst names and make it all okay by telling me that he's joking. Prince Charming will come along eventually and until he does, I'm continuing to LOVE being single (because it really is the best!)

15. I'm basically in love with the Starlit Princess Waltz

Did I ever tell you about that time Snow White told me I'm her favourite Princess? 
In all seriousness, it's been a year and I'm still not over this gorgeous show. If you're visiting Disneyland Paris this summer then you have to go and see it! 

16. I love Festivals

In September, I went to Fusion Festival with my best friend Mitch. It will forever remain one of my favourite days and I'm a proper festival gal. Any excuse to put my hair in space buns and throw glitter all over my face and I'm there. I'm going to see Nile Rogers and Chic next month and I'm VERY excited. 

17. I hate public transport

Northern, I'm looking at you!
 If you follow me on Twitter, you'll be used to seeing my regular complaints about trains being cancelled and delayed. It's been the bane of my life for the past year and I will not miss my commute to uni every morning. 

18. Trying to please everyone is a waste of energy

Not everyone is going to like you and the sooner you realise that the happier you'll be. Let people like you for YOU and not someone you pretend to be. You really do not have to be friends with someone if you don't want to.

19. Supportive family and friends are everything

I don't know what I would have done without my family and friends this year. Their constant positivity and love have picked me up and inspired me every single day. They believed in me when I didn't believe in myself and I will never be able to thank them for everything they've done. 

20.  It's the little things

Like the smell outside when it rains, the smell of your favourite coffee and a McDonald's banana milkshake on a warm day. Happiness can be found in the smallest, most unexpected places. 


I'm so excited to celebrate with my family and friends tomorrow. 
Here's to 21!

Lots of Love,
Meg
xxx









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