Tackling Tinder: Dating Online

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This is a blog post about my experience using the app Tinder. I am a cisgendered heterosexual female, and this is my experience. I am not speaking on behalf of everyone using Tinder, and don’t wish to speak or comment on anyone else’s experiences using the app. All comments, stories, and experiences are welcome and appreciated. Also, I am not sponsored by Tinder. This is just an account of my own experiences.

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I’ve been on Tinder twice in my life. Once, right now, and the second time was six months ago. Before signing up, I was really nervous, because of the reputation that Tinder has for being an app primarily for hookups and dick pics. Still, I thought I best give it a chance, as if I never try I won’t know.

So six months ago I made an account and started swiping. First of all, most of the guys on there seemed like genuine profiles, and quite a few of them had stated in their bio section “not just here for hookups” which I was surprised about. Another thing I was surprised about was that I actually matched with people. I was quite liberal with my ‘right swipe’ thinking “oh, he’s cute. But he probably won’t match with me” and it turns out a lot of them did. In my first week on Tinder, I racked up about fifty matches. As someone who has always been quite self-conscious and awkward in the dating game, it’s safe to say it was a massive ego boost.

And I actually met someone too! Carter*, who was gorgeous, funny and into all the same things as me. I’ve never hit the ground running with someone as much as I did with Carter and we had a really good time getting to know each other. It didn’t work out romantically but we remain great friends, and he was part of the reason I decided to go back on Tinder. If I could find someone like him, who I clicked with so instantly, then surely it would be worth going back and seeing who else I could meet.

So I did. I re-downloaded the app and remade a profile.

Clare, 25, Supervisory Assistant, Studied at the University of Winchester.

Once again, most of the guys on there were genuine, looking to meet people and talk, nothing serious but nothing casual either. People like me, seeing who’s out there. The first three days I was on Tinder again, I matched with about twenty people, which I was very flattered and boosted by.

Would I recommend Tinder to a friend? Absolutely. Although I have a life, I lead a simple life. I get up, go to work, come home from work, potter around the house, maybe do some laundry, maybe go to Tesco… but of course, I’m not looking for a potential match in Tesco. I’m staring at a jar of green olives and a jar of black olives, wondering which one I should get and asking myself why they don’t do a tin of mixed olives?! So Tinder, in some ways, seems like the way forward. I get to meet and chat with people I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t signed up. People from a few towns over whose paths I would never have crossed.

I think that’s pretty awesome.

(I will, however, mention that most profiles I’ve seen, people really love to travel, love to ski and snowboard and like to put their height in their bio section! Some people might not write anything at all, and if you match with someone, they might not ever message you. And with some profiles, thanks to pictures with more than one person in, you might not know who said profile belongs to!)

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*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Preparing for #NaNoWriMo2016

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I never thought I would ever finish my book, let alone have written two before I turned 25. That’s a crazy achievement for me, and it’s all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Four years before I first participated, the thought of doing a month long writing sprint filled me with anxiety. But once I found ways to prepare and manage my idea, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. So here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.

  • Find an idea you’re happy with

Writing your novel won’t be enjoyable unless you genuinely like what you’re writing! If you’re stuck for ideas, or simply want some help to guide you through the writers block, see my blog post on writing a book here.

  • Make an outline

Some people are pants-ers, some people are planners. I am personally a planner, and I feel so much more relaxed when I have an outline of a scene in my head ready to be written. Sometimes I’ll even write the dialogue in script form, just so I can get it down on the page and then convert it to prose later on.

  • Make a schedule

This is coming from a certified planner! However, designating time in your day to sit down and write will help you achieve the 1,667 words you need to win. It could be an hour before you go to work, on your commute, during your lunch break, after work or even before bed. I always find I work better in the late afternoons/evenings, so I always make sure I’m sitting poised and ready to write by then.

  • Enter in your novel

On the NaNoWriMo website, you can start entering in your novel from early October. The sooner you do it, the more committed you will be to the project. You can even upload a book cover as well, so until November comes you can get creative and make something that fully represents the novel you intend to write.

  • Add your friends!

Something that kept me going during the first NaNoWriMo I did was seeing how my friends were progressing throughout the month. Whether it’s a healthy competition or just checking in and talking through ideas, having friends by your side always makes the experience more enjoyable.

Add me to your buddy list here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/clareholmanhobbs

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Either add me to the buddy list or let me know down in the comments what you intend on writing this year. Happy writing!

National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1st and continues until November 30th. Each participant aims to write 50,000 words in a month, which averages out at 1,667 words a day. You can find all the information on the project at the website: nanowrimo.org

Reading Classics: My Tips and Tricks

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Reading the classics can sometimes be a chore, especially when you’re in school and are being forced to study the dullest novel that makes you want to fall asleep the moment you open the book. Or, perhaps you desire to be well read and want to finish the classic that everyone tells you that you should have read by now. Either way, I like to give reading classics a go, and have developed a few tips and tricks to make the whole experience a lot easier.

  • Watch the film adaptation.

I know… sacrilege! But watching the visual adaptation of the story may make it easier to follow when reading the book. For example, if a novel or play has a lot of characters, it might be easier to apply a face to the name. Think about it, you can read Romeo and Juliet whilst picturing Leonardo DiCaprio’s face the whole time. Bliss!

  • Read the reviews.

Sometimes, I feel like going into a book prepared makes the whole thing easier. If a friend of yours has said the first third of the book/play is challenging but the rest of it is worth it, you can rest easy knowing that however difficult the book may be, the ending will make up for it.

  • Read around your favourite genres.

If you love a good dystopian novel like me, read 1984 or A Clockwork Orange. If you love mystery and thriller, read through Agatha Christie’s bibliography. If you love historical fiction, why not try some Jane Austen.

  • Read from authors you’ve enjoyed before.

If you studied Catcher in the Rye at school, why not try Franny and Zooey. If you’ve studied A View from a Bridge, why not try The Crucible. Some authors might be well-known for one particular bestseller, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have more up their sleeve.

  • Read up on SparkNotes or CliffsNotes.

Reading a detailed summary, or giving context to a particularly difficult novel can make the reading experience so much more enjoyable. You can even look up the themes and symbols whilst you’re there if you really fancy a detailed reading. Besides, if you’re studying the book in school it will help with your book report or essay. (But don’t forget to cite!)

So, these are my tips and tricks for reading the classics. Remember, they’re supposed to be classics for a reason, there to be enjoyed, discussed and thought about. Sometimes it can feel laborious, but with time and effort, classics can be fantastic, and might even be some of your favourites.

Do you like reading classics, or like me, have you had trouble over the years? Let me know in the comments!

The Best Birthdays Were Beside You

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One by one, year after year,

I struck off another place

I wanted to spend my birthday.

  • McDonalds
  • The Bowling Alley
  • Our Local Swimming Pool

every party, a carbon copy

of whoever’s birthday was last.

 

Then, there was a time

when the excitement of birthdays died

down, and the thought of getting older

scared me, because I knew I was

one step closer to a future

without you.

 

Now, every time my birthday

rolls around, I don’t focus

on the

  • wheres
  • whys

or

  • hows

There is no where else I’d rather spend

my birthday, than sitting on the beach with you.

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Another 25 Facts About Me

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Considering the last 25 Facts blog post went down so well, I thought I would do another… just in case you don’t know me well enough already! So here are another 25 facts about me.

  • My second novel is titled Losing Lola and it’s a contemporary murder mystery.
  • My Ilvermorny house is Horned Serpent.
  • I try my hardest to buy cruelty free products where possible. Boots (UK) own-brand products are always affordable and good quality, as are Superdrug.
  • My wand is 10 and three quarter inches, made from Willow with a Unicorn Hair core.
  • I enjoy reading physical books and eBooks. Some readers seem to prefer one or the other, but I like both.
  • I am currently learning French on Duolingo (as part of my Promises and Wishes list), and am currently 30% fluent.
  • A portion of the books I own I bought whilst I was travelling on my gap year, so I have the international copies instead of the UK editions.
  • I adore all three of Charlie Simpson’s solo albums (Young Pilgrim, Long Road Home and Little Hands), and I never get tired of listening to them.
  • Whenever I travel to a new country, I try to buy a postcard as a memento.
  • I love listening to audio-books, namely the Chronicles of Narnia series and the Harry Potter series.
  • I have a warm skin tone and I look best in bright, crisp and clear colours.
  • I have written two books and I have vague outlines for at least another two, one of which I hope to write this November during NaNoWriMo.
  • Some other series that I love are The Lunar Chronicles, The Divergent Series, The Hunger Games and The Heather Wells Mysteries.
  • I have a passion for photography and usually take pictures on my phone when the inspiration strikes.
  • I love writing letters to people and have pen-pals who I write to regularly.
  • I have a very small, very faint birthmark in the shape of a diamond on my stomach.
  • Before I was born and all throughout my life, my nickname has been Hubble.
  • Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree is one of my favourite albums of all time. It reminds me of when I began to develop my own music tastes.
  • This year, one of my dreams, that Busted would get back together and reunite on stage, was completed. My friend Rob and I saw it happen with our very own eyes at Wembley Arena.
  • Another of my favourite albums is Paramore’s Brand New Eyes. It was the first time someone had perfectly summed up the angst I felt about the world. I won’t ever forget how free it made me feel.
  • I love to draw, and often draw costumes, blueprints and ideas for my books.
  • I recently got another tattoo on my wrist of the letter H in my father’s handwriting. Those who know me well will know the significance.
  • The series I want to start soon are the Name of the Star series by Maureen Johnson, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, and the Comoran Strike series by JK Rowling.
  • I really love reading and watching non-fiction pieces on True Crime.
  • I am participating in the 2016 Classics Challenge and have currently read 12.

So that’s all for my latest 25 facts about me. Let me know in the comments section if you want to see more of these types of posts and whether you share facts in common with me!

Growing a Thicker (Warmer) Skin

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This is probably the most relatable post I’ll ever write, as throughout the years when I’ve talked about my experiences most people seem to have shared my journey.

Growing up, when your body goes through puberty and begins to change, it becomes a confusing time not only physically but emotionally. As a female, my body began to develop to carry and bear children, but I was only coming into my teenage years and embarking on high school, so I definitely didn’t feel mature or ready enough yet to cope with these changes.

Everyone around me seemed to be having an easier time than I was. I felt like the DUFF (the designated ugly fat friend), as they seemed to be growing taller and more womanly, where as I felt like I was growing wider and more clumsy. My feet were large, my hips were wide, my shoulders were broad, my hair was thick and wild and my features were average (and spotty) at best, or so I thought at the time.

My confidence plummeted, and I know I wasn’t the only one, as I’m sure behind my friend’s eyes they felt self conscious too. But our continual search for our identities and wanting to feel comfortable in ourselves seemed like a never ending journey, and for me, a lot of the issues that were born out of that time graduated with me as I left school.

Like most young people, I experimented, not only with clothes, but with hair dye and make up too. I slid happily into the familiar “emo phase”, subscribing to that way of life, not only because my interest in certain music artists ran with similar fashion ideals, but because for a while it felt like “me”, whoever that was. For a few years, I was happy. I liked to dye my hair different colours, dream about piercings and tattoos, wear jeans and band t-shirts to showcase my love of music and I loved that I was a master of the winged eyeliner phenomenon.

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But just like everything else in life, I grew up and outgrew that image, and moved on, but I didn’t have anything to move on to. It was about this time that I took my gap year, so a lot of my clothes were practical and simple, as I spent a lot of that year travelling. When I turned twenty and went to uni, it struck me that I’d been twenty years on this earth and I’d not “found myself” and felt pressured that when I went into a clothes shop, I should know whether an item was “me” or not. But I didn’t, I didn’t have a clue.

I spent a lot of that time adopting other people’s discarded clothes, from my Mum, from friends and family, and it felt like wearing someone else’s identity was far easier than the difficult search for my own. It wasn’t until I left university, had a breakdown and continued rebuilding my life that I could start to find out exactly who I was, and exactly who I wanted to be.

A good friend of mine is a colour analyst and offered to “do my colours” for me. This meant that I sat in a chair wearing an outfit similar to an all white nun’s habit and had colour swatches held up to my face to see how each one would react to my skin tone. It was fascinating how some colours made me look like I had a fresh spray tan, and others made me look completely jaundiced. After an hour or so, I had a complete collection of swatches that made me look amazing.

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You may be thinking that I just replaced one safety behaviour for another, or one clothing ideal for another, but just knowing that there were colours out there designed to flatter me, and by extension, make me feel confident in myself, made me feel so much better about going shopping, something I’d actively avoided for many years.

So here was the break down of my colour analysis. I had a warm skin tone, which meant that warmer colours as opposed to cold colours looked good on my skin. It also meant that gold jewellery was more flattering than silver. The analysis wasn’t exclusive just to clothes but to make up as well. I still love my winged black kohl eyeliner, but I also really enjoyed experimenting with a more natural look which gave me a warmer glow.

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This gave me the confidence to go out and start buying clothes because I liked them and knew the colours would look good on me, not because it’s because everyone else was wearing, or because I felt like that’s what I should be wearing. I still had my band t-shirts and my eyeliner, and I still brought them out every now and again to play, but I began to feel so much happier in myself now that I knew not all clothes were destined to make me look horrible. The Fitting Room Fiascos subsided and I began to feel so much more confident.

I didn’t continue comparing how I looked to other people because I knew that they had different skin tones and different body shapes to me. There was no point trying to squeeze into an outfit that belonged to a cool skin toned person, because it wasn’t going to give me the desired effect when I looked in the mirror. I dressed to accentuate the flattering parts of my frame like my waist and my curvaceous figure. I looked to role models with a similar shapes, like Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, and ditched styles that were “in” or “fashionable” if they didn’t suit me. It suddenly became all so illogical. Maybe I’d reached the point of self discovery after all?

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But here is what I’ve learnt during my “journey to self discovery“. The journey never ends. My style has changed and evolved over the years because I have changed and evolved too. I’m sure by the time I’m thirty my wardrobe will look vastly different. Be comfortable, once you are comfortable in what you’re wearing, your confidence will grow. Once you feel confident, then it’s half the battle won. You can be comfortable and look good at the same time. Once I ditched the jeans and bought different kinds of trousers that weren’t denim, I felt so much happier. Whatever you’re wearing, rock it, and if you don’t feel like you can, then there are a few tips and tricks, like picking the right colours, that can help you along the way. Ultimately, you’re you, a beautiful, wonderful, unique, you, a person that should be celebrated as an individual however you look.

Being a Good Samaritan: Places I Like to Donate To

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I have a complex where I have an inexplicable desire to help people, and I recently gave blood for the first time to help fuel my conscience. I also like to donate to various places, and I’m going to list down below where and why. The purpose of this post is to give those areas in need more exposure, so that others may volunteer or donate to them as they see fit. These services have helped so many people in my area of East Sussex and all over the country, even the world, so it seems right that they get the recognition and the exposure they deserve.

Counselling Plus

I had the opportunity to have 16 weeks of talking therapy at Counselling Plus over in Hastings, East Sussex, and found the experience to be so fulfilling and effective that I would recommend them to anyone and everyone thinking about having counselling. It’s run by a large amount of amazing people, some who volunteer their services and time selflessly without payment. In the waiting room, there is a book sale, with books donated and bought by those who pass through, and each book is 50p. All proceeds from the book sale go towards the charity so I like to donate the books I un-haul to the cause.

Bexhill Food Bank

My local Tesco and Sainsbury’s supermarkets offer a service so that you can donate food to the local food bank easily whilst doing your shopping. I like to donate one item a week to those less fortunate than me. I’ve never had to use a food bank myself, but one day I may have too, and I’ll be thankful for everyone donating and allowing me to use the service.

CrashCourse

Crash Course is a YouTube channel that educates its viewers in a range of different subjects, from World History, to Astronomy, to Literature and Politics, and many more. I constantly watch the videos on their channel and find that the way they explain the subjects to be very easy to understand and informative. At the moment, I only donate $1 a month via Patreon but I hope to donate more as the years go on. Crash Course also aim to create study worksheets and content for the underprivileged.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army do lots to help out people in need. Although the foundation began primarily linked to the Christian church, they go over and above the call of God with the charitable needs. I love to take the clothes I don’t want or need anymore and donate them to the clothes bank, which are situated in various places throughout the country. The Salvation Army then distribute those clothes to those who need them, sometimes to the homeless, sometimes to children in foster and care homes, or sometimes to third world countries. They do much more than just giving and receiving clothes, so if you’re interested in knowing more, I recommend you check out their website.

So these are my favourite charities to donate to. Do you have ones you love to support? Let me know in the comments.