You're Not Nineteen Forever

Sorry for the blindingly obvious title but it had to be done. A few days ago I turned the ripe old age of TWENTY EIGHT! The wounds are still sore and it still feels painful to say the sentence, "I am twenty eight" out loud. But as I head deeper into the abyss that is your late twenties, I am quickly learning that it's not all as much doom and gloom as it's cracked up to be. In fact the wrong side of twenty is actually where life seemingly starts to get a little (I said "a little" with the upmost moderation) easier to bear. I wanted to share this little unknown secret with you to possibly spare you from the mid-mid life crisis you might endure on your twenty fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth birthday. There is life after twenty five I promise you... admittedly hangover's get harder but there's definitely life after your third day post drinking at least. 

I thought about writing a little letter, an ode you might say to vivacious eighteen year old me but I figured that seemed kind of patronising. Like at twenty eight I'm supposed to have it all figured out and back then I was just a silly little girl? Nope, I don't have it figured all out and that would be totally ridiculous to think I did. I'm still learning, I'm getting there but I'm still learning plus I want to deny thirty eight year old me the joy of reading back on this in ten years time and thinking "HA! Oh how little did you know"... Instead I've decided to just "recap" on the life lessons learnt from my early twenties, in a bid to reassure myself and possibly you guys EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK.

Keep Calm And Carry On
First and foremost, I want to make something abundantly clear... You are not supposed to have your shit together at twenty one. Why does no-one ever tell you this?! It baffles me in hindsight, how no one thinks to sit you down and just briefly explain, "look, you may think you need to have it all planned out right now, but that's a myth (i.e. total load of bollocks)". Maybe they should make it mandatory to have a secondary school assembly pre-warning you that any pressure you may feel is completely undue. Honestly, calm down. You're doing absolutely fine. That's the one slight regret I have about my early twenties, the innate pressure I felt to have a plan and almost compete with my peers to have it all mapped out first (by compete, I mean loose horrifically and decide to sit the race out half way through). Don't compare your own progress with those around you, you don't know this at the time but we are ALL winging it. You're finding your feet and you will do for the next twenty years so lets all slow it down and relax. We will get there.

Your Time Is Precious
Ok so I wouldn't like to say I look back at any point in my life as WASTED time as such, just not... time I'd necessarily want to rehash? It is true, that even your biggest mistakes in life are a lesson learnt (not to sound like a fridge magnet you get at the till point in Clinton's) and the lesson I learnt is this... Your time is invaluable whether you're wasting it in a job you despise or with a boy who makes you cry (I love it when I rhyme accidentally). I promise you, there are plenty more fish in the sea for both and nothing is permanent if you don't want it to be. I spent so many years in jobs I felt completely unsatisfied with and I think we can all agree, it sucks. You honestly can't see it until your far removed from it, the wrong vocation can really drag you down. I know life is what you make of it but it's so easy to feel tied down by a job and so difficult to see there can be light at the end of the tunnel. Yeh, yeh you can only ever make yourself happy but what surrounds you on a daily basis sure does help too. It's important to feel self gratification and working in a job which makes you want to stick your head in a blender is probably not going to see you on the right path. Don't ever feel deterred, its not you, its the job. Keep going until you get where you want to be and realise when you're stuck in a rut... I sometimes look back and think how "sliding doors" my life could be if I'd just stayed put being not content but just "ok", if I hadn't wanted more, if I hadn't started my blog... if, if, if... I only wish I'd kicked myself in gear sooner. One of the best mantras I learnt was; that if your not happy change it and if you can't change it GET RID OF IT... Oh sweet lord did I learn this the slow and painful way...

Heartache Soothes The Soul (Eventually)
Kind of felt like this "area" *gestures around me in a hazey, kind of sporadic way* needed its own header, possibly post, possibly novel, possibly three part series dedicated to it. You know what, heartache is BRUTAL. And we keep putting ourselves through it time and time again why? Because a) maybe we're all clinically insane or b) we're all hopeful and resilient and one wrong turn can't be held accountable for anything you do past it. That's why, and it's one of only two positive points you can take from heartache... Sorry there's literally only two. The second point being, it's always a lesson learnt. It teaches you what you need, what you want and more importantly what you DON'T want. I feel like if there was some sort of accreditation gained from heartache I would have a PHD in it. I feel a little uneasy typing this down but I'm going to because it was such a huge part of my early twenties- I spent TOO many years (yes, that's right plural years) with someone who treated me appallingly. He messed me around, he cheated on me (in double figures) and no prizes for guessing, he was a MA-HO-SSIVE liar. The kind of guy that used "I love you" as a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. I spent years of my life putting up with it because first love made me believe that through all the bad stuff, it was him and solely him responsible for my happiness. How. Insane. Is. THAT? If I had a time machine, do you know what I'd do with it? I'd go back in time to when I was twenty two and I'd possibly kick myself or maybe hit myself over the head with a large heavy object (possibly the novel I go on to publish about this whole ordeal)... and then maybe hit him over the head with it too. 

Yes, ok he's 100% to blame for my upset but after so much time you have to kind of ask yourself, could I do anything to make this better for myself? And the answer is yes, I could have and no, I didn't. I spent years of my life thinking I was inadequate and the worst thing about heartache is it really consumes you. Your priorities become way off. You can't see that sometimes being with the wrong person is in fact more lonely than just being on your own. Every time he hurt me, I would pick myself up, I'd take him back and I'd try to mend over it. Memo to me, you and EVERYONE: Cheating is cheating and betrayal is a hard pill to swallow. It takes a really strong person to get over something like that and I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying it takes a really stupid person to try and get over it twice (or fifteen times). One of the hardest but best lessons I learnt was you can't change a person, no matter how hard you try and how much you wish for it. So finally enough was enough, I was mentally at breaking point. I had fallen out with friends over this chump, I'd lost sleep because of him, I cried daily, I was a mess, a shell of my former self and my self-respect was at zero. I finally walked away and no, sorry still not a strong independent woman... I didn't see the light for a very long time after. 

Heartache doesn't have a quick fix. I know Beyonce and Jo Jo teach us that if someone cheats, it's as black and white as saying "See Ya" but it's really not. Never deny yourself the right to be upset. Mourn for as long as you like. Heartache psychically hurts, you're saying goodbye to the life you knew, a person and what feels like half your heart along the way. I tried everything to feel "normal again" sooner. I listened to Taylor Swift on repeat (I still maintain We Are Never Getting Back Together was written for me, about me. Thanks Tay). I blocked him from EVERYTHING, I went to meditation classes to find my "inner peace" and mindfulness. I tried Tarot card readers to reassure me my life from this point onwards wasn't just impending doom. I tried dating again and cried in the toilet (yup)... and the way home. I cried everywhere; in work, in the shower, at Christmas, on my birthday, to a random man on the Bakerloo line (again... Yup)... You name it. Then one day I woke up and everything was ok. No, but really! That's not me getting lazy and ending the story suddenly right there... That's actually how it happens. One day you just wake up and you see the light. You're horrified at first that you were ever THAT girl but than you learn to laugh about it, you gain a sense of relief and it becomes history. The End... Which leads me to...

What A Difference A Year Makes (Or Ten)
I know this is probably not the best way to look at life but it's certainly the most realistic and at times kind of comforting; You have no idea how quickly your world can change until it's in retrospect. What seems vitally important right now can seem so trivial in a year, a week or a day. I look back at where I was just a year ago and everything was so drastically different; my job, my home and my happiness. I look back even further to 5 years ago and it blows my mind how worlds apart I am from the me then. I wish I'd spent less time worrying about the little things- then, big things- that in the grand scheme were really so inconsequential to my life or the bigger picture of it, at least. Sometime when your in a bad place, it's easier to make things seem worse than they are rather than try and make them seem better. You won't even know you're doing it all the time, but you are. Take a step back and ask yourself, was I in this situation a year ago? the answer will be, no you weren't and in another years time you won't be either. Everything changes and what's more, you're changing. Wait it out and remember that smooth seas never made skilful sailors. Knocks will happen, they'll make you a more awesome person... STOP WORRYING, IT'S WASTED TIME (please revert back to point two).

Can't Care, Won't Care.
This one is a biggy and possibly the BEST thing about entering your late twenties- You just stop caring what people think. It just disappears off your radar and it's awesome!! Just so we're clear "not caring" doesn't mean you become some arrogant arsehole. It just means you become more nonchalant to how others perceive you. You start to realise you can't win them all. You're not ever going to be everyone's cup of tea and more to the point, does it even matter if you are? No it doesn't. Concentrate on what you want and who you are. Learn to be a "no" person. We're so wrapped up in making irrelevant people like us, we often forget to prioritise our own needs. If you don't want to do something or you don't agree with a situation, speak up! If people are as true a friend to you as they say they are, they won't condemn you for your opinion. And if they do, they're not worth having around anyway. The best thing you can do for an easy life, is get rid of all the toxic people you have buzzing around, stirring things up, relishing drama and thriving on your knocks. Seriously, spring clean them out. Not to keep going back to our "invaluable" time but two faced people are literally the biggest waste of your time. Equally, don't waste your time being two faced. You are better than that and if you don't like someone, just smile and move along. There's nothing worse then walking away from a person or group and feeling like you're being talked about. Ugh it fills me with dread just thinking about it. It's so cruel- dislike someone all you want, but don't be a dick. I look back on friendships which went bad and it just seems like such a lot of unnecessary effort now! It's drama you don't need. If someone isn't for me, I would rather be clear- we ain't ever going to be friends. It's no love lost and there aren't any bridges burnt because I specifically went out of my way to NOT build that bloody bridge in the first place.

Let people form whatever opinion they want of you, you weren't out to please them in the first place anyway...

Now please go enjoy your twenties. You've got this covered,
Sophia x

Shop My Outfit
Blouse- Muzungu Sisters
Dungarees- Topshop
Converse- All Sole

Photography by Lydia Haycock 

It's Only Moroccan Roll But I Like It

Yet again in true "Sophia goes on her jollies" form, it's taken me nine million years to actually post about my trip due to an excessive amount of photos having been taken. Which in turn means a ridiculous amount of hours spent trawling through photo after photo, editing, over analysing, re-editing due to over analysing and than the worst part of all, deciding which ones are keepers and which have to be relegated. It's tough, I come back from trips away now, with a feeling of sheer dread knowing I've once again taken far too many photos and therefore will once again have to go through the same routine nightmare of a task. Oh first world problems! BUT we're here, the deed is done and I'm FINALLY ready to share my incredible Moroccan adventure with you in all its glory... True to form, "narrowing down" my selection of photos actually means inevitably still throwing a gazillion your way. Sorry if the loading of this page sends your computer/phone into melt down. I'm not liable for damages.

Marrakech always seemed like such an enigma to me, the idea that somewhere so close could be so culturally different seemed a touch incomprehensible to me and the saying "you've got to see it to believe it" has never rang so true with me as it does for this awe inspiring city. If I told you Marrakech exceeded my expectations than I'd be out right lying to you because the truth is I didn't really know what to expect and to be even more brutally honest, I was so unsure I'd even truly like it. But I did. In a big way. Ok so I've got to confess I'm a city girl through and through and with every new city I visit, the possibilities of me coming back and proclaiming my undying love and professing plans to migrate there are extremely high. I know every post I've written about my travels I've claimed said city is my "new favourite place"... Well same rules apply to Marrakech expect with a little bit something extra to add to the mix, this city is possibly THE most inspiring place I have yet to visit. Bold claim, I know but I stand by it. 

We decided to get stuck right in the thick of it all and stayed in The Madina aka The Old City, whereby tradition is still very much in order and you're as far removed from a more "European" way of living as possible. My advise to those of you going to Marrakech... Please do the same. The Madina is an experience to say the very least. Situated smack bang in the middle of the sukh's, it's a lot to take in from the off set. I got out of the taxi and literally every one of my sense's went into over drive, I honestly didn't know what to take in first. But in turn it's surprising how quick you get used to the hustle, bustle and pace of it all. I've been asked over and over since returning, did I feel safe? Yes, most definitely. Like I said, it's not the way of life and social etiquette I'm used to but it's incredible how quickly you adapt. Admittedly I would feel slightly out of my depth walking around on my own but in a group of girls, I can firmly say I've never felt more safe. I've never known hospitality like that in Marrakech, everyone is so willing to help, appease and approach you and it becomes very apparent, very quickly how sad it is that us Brits do our very best to act the complete opposite! If anything, growing accustomed to just how friendly everyone is was the one factor I found the hardest to get my head around... How bizarre and yet how totally English of me is that?!

We stayed in Be Marrakech; A little 6 room riad about 2 minutes walking distance from the craziness of the sukhs and you literally step into a tiny wooden door off one of the busy streets and you are in the most tranquil guest house you will ever stay in your life! It's like something you'd only imagine in a film. The interior was to die for! The main lobby was decorated floor to ceiling in the most beautifully designed tiles your pretty eyes ever did it. If there was an award for the most Instagrammable hotel well, this place would win by a long shot. If you do plan on staying in the Madina, I would most definitely recommend as Riad as idilic as this one, it's the perfect retreat from a pretty hectic day exploring.  Oh and they have three pet tortoises so... You know, money well spent for that alone.

We spent the majority of our time getting lost and hopping from beautiful building to beautiful building and I couldn't recommend a better way to spend your time. I only wish I'd had longer to do so. In my three days there, I'm pretty sure I only saw a teeny weeny marginal amount of what Marrakech has to offer. Within the sukhs, there are market stalls filled to the brim with hand crafted pieces, pottery, haberdashery, leather goods... You name it and if you need it in pretty much any colour imaginable, well then they'll have it. I'd almost say if you want to shop the sukhs properly, you'd need an entire trip dedicated to just that. It requires complete commitment, with so much choice even I found it too much to browse and I'm a seasoned shopper extraordinaire. 

The entire city is covered with beautiful architecture and interior, as mentioned in my first Moroccan post, it's so admirable how well Marrakech uses colour. It's everywhere and it's colours us Brits would never ever dare team together and it works. When I say this city is inspiring, I think it's safe to say the archeticure does the explaining for me, it made me never want to look at minimal interior again. Two highlights for me were; visiting Ben Yourself Madrassa, an old Islamic college, designed with detailed wood carvings and intricately patterned tiles, it was mind blowing. It makes you wonder why we seem to choose to only live in black and white. The second was, more obviously, Le Jardin Majorelle. The beautiful Gardens of Yves Saint Laurent, colour coordinated in yellow and royal blue... You couldn't expect anything less from a classic YSL design. It's a little bit psychedelic, a little continental and a little eastern inspired. It's sheer eye candy basically and if in Marrakech, please don't be a tourist snob and snub it, it deserves a visit.

If you think all of the above sounds a little "busy" for you than there's the perfect solution for that; Le Pause. About a 40 minute drive from the city centre, it's a tiny little retreat out in the desert and- clues in the title- its the perfect place to do absolutely nothing. You hire your own private tent area which comes with a 3 course meal (Avocado was forstarters, which as a rule I HATE but am still dreaming after it now) and apart from that you're free to just bask in the sun all day. No catch. Again, scary idea for us English ladies/boys but there's zero power and zero signal but you're kind of grateful for it, it forces you to actually switch off and have a little zen in your life. If you're seeking a little mindfulness... You can find it in this desert, no mirage, it's the real deal.

As a bit of a home bird, I'm normally always ready to leave somewhere when I have to. I'm very much in the mind set "I love you but I'm leaving you" but Marrakech is the first place in a long time I genuinely felt sad to have to part with. I regret not having more time there for sure. Just as a little pointer, it's definitely more suited for a weeks stay than a couple of days. I know there's a million sights I've yet to see but it's all just part of the excuse to go back. And I've made a promise to myself that in the not too distant future I WILL go back. For now I'll just have to settle for trawling through my nine million photos which I hope you enjoy looking at as much as I enjoyed taking them (not to be confused with editing them)...

Marrakech thank you for being so awesome.
Sophia x

Shop My Marrakech Looks

Day 1
Blouse- Topshop
Paisley Skirt- Monki
Espadrilles- Find Similar HERE from Forever 21
Sunglasses- Joanie Clothing

Day 2 (Day-time)
Blouse- Nobody's Child
Denim Pinafore- See Similar from ASOS HERE
Sandals- Ravel

Day 2 (Night-time)
Floral Jumpsuit- ASOS
Sandals- Birkenstock

Day 3 (Day-time)
Embroidered Dress- Free People

Day 3 (Night-time)
T-Shirt- Sundara Karma gig
Gingham Skirt- ASOS