I’m always happy when February has come and gone—it means spring is on its way, with brighter mornings, longer evenings, and the sudden urge to get more done (a very British reaction to better weather).
But maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to wish the month away. February was fun; I saw friends, ate a lot of pizza, and started making travel plans for the year. And I also read some excellent pieces of writing, of which my favourites are listed here so you can enjoy them, too.
|Photo by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash|
I Went to a Senior Center and All I Got Was Fascinating Beauty Advice, by Brittany Natale
There is so much joy in this piece, from the man who swears by flamenco dancing to reduce stress (it’s all in the stomping), to not limiting your make-up choices just because you’re getting older (preach). I’m in particular awe of Diane, who went on three dates per day when she first moved to New York and changed her clothes and make-up for each one. Three per day?! And there’s me still weighing up the pros and cons of downloading Tinder again.
‘This group is often left out of modern conversations, especially those pertaining to bodies – an area in which my grandmother and great aunt are filled with insight and wisdom… Knowing that they couldn’t be the only ones, I recently paid a visit to the Senior Center at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in Manhattan to find out what other members of their generation had to offer in the way of beauty and wellness advice. While my visit was short, the tips they shared were interspersed with important life lessons I won’t soon forget.’
|Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash|
Stop Treating Cardi B Like She Doesn’t Deserve a Voice in Politics, by Natalie Gontcharova
If celebrities voice their political views, they are told to stick to what they know. If they keep quiet, they’re not taking advantage of their platform. They can’t win. Gontcharova goes a step further and looks at the racist and classist way rapper Cardi B’s political opinions have been dismissed by Republicans and Democrats alike.
‘Cardi’s political voice has been consistent and strong. While she was rumoured to have been invited to perform at the Super Bowl… she took a solid stance and said “no thanks” in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter. She’s spoken up in favour of stronger gun restrictions. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, she tweeted about how Trump is ignoring the island. She supported the progressive Cynthia Nixon for governor of New York. She told us to “Vote for Bernie, bitch” and that “America is a scam” where only giant corporations benefit under a Republican president…
‘Treating Cardi B like a pest instead of a legitimate voice is the perfect example of how white people dismiss people of colour as dumb when they don’t speak like they just came out of finishing school. It also shows the disdain with which people who haven’t been “anointed” to political leadership and who speak on behalf of the working class (see: Ocasio-Cortez) are treated when they bring up inconvenient truths. Why, exactly, isn’t she a genius political mind? Because she’s a rapper? Because she’s a former stripper? Because of how she talks? Because she didn’t go to college?‘
|Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash|
The Stories We Tell Ourselves, by Sophie Cliff
Sophie has a way of speaking to my soul and I found it difficult to narrow it down to just one piece for this post. (She also appeared on my last Reading Material post; she’s a blogger whose work I will always stop to read.) But The Stories We Tell Ourselves resonated, because it talks about how we’re prone to thinking of other people’s opinions as facts and then internalising them. It made me wonder about my own stories—the ones I tell myself and the ones told by other people—and whether or not they’re true.
‘Because I always saw those teachers as fountains of wisdom, as grown ups who had all of the answers. And that meant whatever those teachers told me, I accepted as fact. When they told me I wasn’t very good at science, I believed them… When they told me I was crap at PE, I believed them. When they told me I talked too much, I believed them.
‘I swallowed their opinions down as truth, never stopping to question whether they were right. I built their words into stories I told myself repeatedly, I let their thoughts shape my future decisions… I still tell everybody I could never be sporty or athletic, even though I’ve run two marathons. I still refuse to read anything too scientific because I’m convinced I won’t be able to understand it. In meetings I still limit the amount of talking I do as I worry people will think I’m an attention seeker.’
|Photo by Cody Chan on Unsplash|
Am I Having Enough Fun? Because I’m Worried I’m Not, by Chloe Plumstead
Life post-uni was a shock at first. I spent a lot of time mourning living with my friends, bumping into people at the SU, going on spontaneous midday pub trips and spur-of-the-moment visits to Cardiff, the Brecon Beacons and the Valleys. Starting my career meant more responsibility, more structure, and less time. And while I’ve always craved routine and sought after a steady job, I’ve also wondered—am I having enough fun? Aren’t my twenties supposed to be a bit wild? Finding Chloe’s post helped me see I’m not alone in this.
‘I’d got my degree, started my career, rented my first home and made the very wise decision to go blonde and never look back, but what about the fun stuff? What about the stuff that I’d pluck from my repertoire of sick stories to share whilst reminiscing around a campfire? What about the stuff I’d tell my maybe-children not to do, because I’d done it and regretted it already? What about the stuff which would bulk out an otherwise complimentary and vanilla best-woman speech? Where were my awful shags, my vomit-in-the-back-of-a-taxis, my life-long secrets? Have I just spent five years of my young life being… boring?’
What did you read in February? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!
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Beth, 25, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travel, gin, and the Oxford comma.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!