On being an introvert

I'm pretty sure we've all noticed the anxiety "bandwagon" that's trundling through Bloggerville. Although I'm reluctant to call it that- hence the inverted commas- there is no denying that suddenly it seems as though every blogger and their cat has anxiety. Now, I'm going to state straight from the off that I have actually scheduled my own anxiety post: I suffer with severe anxiety and I've always been an incredibly anxious person. However, I recognise that anxiety and introversion are not mutually inclusive and I do think a lot of people get the two confused. It's just as possible for an extroverted person to suffer from anxiety as it is for an introverted person to be extremely confident. So, in preparation for my anxiety post, let's look at what it means to be an introvert.

Introverted people can be confident
Although I'm an introvert, pop me in a place where I feel comfortable and I can be remarkably confident. I'm happy to be the first one on the dancefloor, to have people staring at me, to know that people are talking about me. I'm a little eccentric and quirky, so it doesn't phase me one bit. Introverts aren't shy and quiet all the time.

Introverted people just like their own space
This is where that shy and quiet stereotype comes from. Yes, I can stay out until the early hours partying but, afterwards, I want to relax somewhere quiet. I need somewhere to retire to where I can just be left to my own devices. I prefer hobbies that don't require too much social interaction. Blogging is great because I can communicate with other people while still being completely on my own!

Introverts do not always stay inside
If I stay inside for too long, I start to get really angsty. I need to leave the house and get out. Even if that just means walking down the road to go to the cash point, I can't stay inside for days on end. (Unfortunately, my anxiety means I actually do stay inside for days on end, but I shouldn't). Introversion doesn't mean I can't see my friends, explore cities and occasionally party it up.

This post is hopefully a reminder that introverted people do not necessarily have anxiety, and people with anxiety are not necessarily introverts. For some, like me, the two occur in one person but they don't affect each other in any way. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you like your own space, you must have anxiety. Self-diagnosis is not helpful. If you do think you have anxiety, please do seek medical advice as your GP will be able to treat your condition and make a huge difference to your quality of life. 

How to marry in Florida

I recently married in Orlando, Florida and I was absolutely amazed by how easy the whole situation was. Beforehand, I was a bit worried about all the legalities as I didn't really know what to expect so it was a huge relief to find the process was so simple. I know a few other bloggers who are planning to marry in Florida, so I've written a post based on my experiences as a UK citizen marrying in Florida.

Important note: I am not a lawyer and this is written from my own experience. Please do check with the County Clerk of Court before making travel plans, especially if it's been a while since September 2014 when this post was written. You can email most of them so it's easy to check out your plans. 

You will need:
  • Each of your passports
  • Officiant certificates/ letter of good standing if you're taking your own minister
  • $93.50 (£58)

Who can marry you?
In Florida, anybody can marry you so long as they are ordained by an official member of the clergy, notary public or justice of the peace. This sounds pretty complicated but what it means is they need to be an ordained member of a church. Yes, this includes the Universal Life Church, which is the famed online church where anybody can get ordained for free, regardless of your beliefs. Although we weren't asked for proof of our officiant's credentials, I would strongly recommend you buy a certificate of ordination or a letter of good standing, (which are $5- $20 (£4-£13) if you get ordained via the Universal Life Church) so you can prove your officiant's legitimacy if needed.
Where can you get married?

More or less anywhere. In Florida, it's the person who is licensed, rather than the venue. Of course, use your discretion and I recommend checking beforehand if you're marrying on somebody else's property, such as a theme park. However, I do have to be honest and confess that we married at Universal Studios without permission and everything was fine!

How do I get a marriage license?
To marry in Florida, you need a marriage license. This is really, really easy to obtain for two marrying UK citizens. Although you can apply online, we chose to go in person when we arrived. We headed to the Orange County Clerk on North Orange Avenue (don't let your driver drop you off at City Hall instead or you'll have to walk the nine blocks to the right place!). 

When you get to the court, you will need to walk through a security screening similar to the airport. Your bags will be searched, and you're not allowed to take in aerosols or sharp objects, and you'll also have to walk through a metal detector. 

Once you get through security, head to the Passports and Marriage Department. There are marriage license forms available next to the door (just ask a member of staff if you can't find them) and fill it out. You'll need to include your full name, date of birth, address and passport number. Once you've signed it, you'll be called over to a desk to complete the process.

At the desk, the member of staff will check all your details and your passports. You'll need to sign a declaration that all information is true and then raise your hand as you swear it's all correct to the best of your knowledge. Once you've paid $93.50 (£58), the staff member will provide you with your marriage license.

What is the marriage license?
Your marriage license will be an A4 sheet within a self addressed envelope, which will have your details on, as well as both of your signatures and the signature of the staff member who has issued the license. At the bottom is your certificate of marriage, which needs to be filled in after the ceremony.

Getting married
Once you have your license, you can marry any time within 60 days. The ceremony is completely up to you. There are rumours that your ceremony must include the "do you?" "I do" section but I found no mention of this in the law guidance. We did it anyway as it's a key part of the ceremony but if you are dead set against it, check with the official when you apply for your marriage license. Witnesses are not required, although there is a space for them to sign the marriage certificate if you so wish.

After the wedding
Once the ceremony has taken place, the officiant needs to sign the wedding certificate in black ink. They also need to include the date and location of the marriage (this can be as simple as just naming the city) as well as their address. If you have chosen to have witnesses, they can sign the certificate too but don't need to include their name or address. 

Once the certificate's all signed, just send it back to the court using the envelope they provided. You don't need to go back to the court or do anything other than pop the certificate in the post. When they receive it, they'll stamp it, sign it and send a copy to the home address you provided. 

That's it! It's done. You don't need to register it back home, although the English registrar I spoke to suggested getting a few extra copies of your marriage certificate as they can be harder to obtain later. She explained that as long as your wedding is legal at the location you wed, it's legal in the UK. 

It's that simple! I was amazed by how quick and easy the process was. If you have any questions, ask away and I'll do my best to answer. Although, as I said before, the best person to ask is the court themselves. 

Becky aged 16- 26

The summer of 2014 has been a biggie for me in terms of looking back over my life. When I cast my mind back, there is an almost visual divide in the summer of 2004, which separates my life into two distinct parts: Before and After. If you read my password-protected post a couple of weeks ago, you will know the event that created this divide, but it was also a product of leaving secondary school and finding solace in rock (by which I mostly mean emo) music. It was also the summer that the final episode of Friends aired but I don't think that has any significance. I really think that summer was the time I transformed from a child into the person I would become later in life, so it's been quite emotional to suddenly find myself ten years down the road and I'm honestly very proud of the way I've turned out, even though my life is far from perfect at the moment.

With this in mind, and with all the reflection I've been writing about lately, I thought it would be interesting to look at how my appearance has changed over the past ten years, mostly influenced by the subcultures I was interested in. I should also mention that, by coincidence, another blogger posted something very similar but she has kindly said she's happy for me to go ahead with my post. Unfortunately, I've completely forgotten who it was. I thought I knew but when I went back to check, I couldn't find the post. So if it was you, please do let me know so I can link you. 

July 2004 (16)

This was a couple of months before The Thing happened. Marie and I were each other's prom dates because we were rebels like that. My dress was from Monsoon and my stepdad's mum had managed to straighten my hair somewhat. You can clearly tell that I don't really have any sort of style at this point. I'm just a fairly average teenager. 

December 2004 (16)  
My emo transformation is beginning. Although I'm wearing a top and jeans from my pre-emo days, I've attempted to dye my hair bright pink (I didn't bleach it first) and I'm so alternative with my devil's horns. If you look closely, you can see I've started wearing winged eyeliner, which will become my go-to for the next 10 years. 

August 2005 (17)
More blooming devil's horns. Stop it, Becky. This is an odd photo because I'm wearing such a brightly coloured top. I was on holiday in Exeter at the time and remember it well because I refused to wear anything other than all black with fishnets and Converse when we went to the beach. You can see hints of my usual emo style from the thick eyeliner, black nails, multiple ear piercings and badly dyed black hair.

November 2006 (18)
My transformation was well and truly complete! This was actually my Myspace profile picture: I felt like a female Brendon Urie in my red corset and top hat. Red eyeshadow is smudged down to my cheekbones, and my friend Steph had drawn three little stars on my right cheek. In the days before thick-rimmed glasses became cool, this was the closest I could get to the nerdy specs I wanted. 

June 2007 (19)
As you can see, I'd chilled out a little by this point. That's my friend Steph, who drew the stars on my face in the last photo. Although I'm still wearing black, I've now moved to liquid eyeliner and nothing else, in an attempt to look more sophisticated. The braces are also finally gone. Hooray!

November 2008 (20)
Following on from my ideas of sophistication in 2007, I threw myself into the vintage scene. With dreams of looking like Dorothy Gale, I dyed my hair red and perfected my victory rolls. Red lipstick was an every day essential along with, of course, the eyeliner.

July 2009 (21)
In 2009, I decided to go one step further in my dreams of looking like a 40s starlet and got my tailbone-length hair chopped right off. Every night, I would put it in pin curls and bought a pair of vintage cat eye glasses on eBay. This is also the year that I got fat for the first time!

November 2010 (22)
Holy terrible webcam quality, Batman! In 2010, Laura and I discovered A Very Potter Musical and became a little obsessed with Team Starkid. This panda hat reminded me of a photo I'd seen of Joe Moses, so I snapped it up and named it Joe Moses Panda. By now I'd got bored of the whole only-vintage-and-red-lipstick deal.

July 2011 (23)
The year I lost a lot of weight. Honestly, other than that, nothing changed this year. I still had short hair, I still had the same glasses. However, at the end of the year, I decided to start my blog.

July 2012 (24)
By now, I'd decided to let my hair grow out. I began to straighten it every now and then, and I discovered I could create a pretty mean beehive when I wanted to. After a few years of experimenting on and off, I discovered continuous-wear contact lenses, meaning I could finally wear sunglasses!

May 2013 (24)
Other than this being the year I got fat for the second time, not a lot has changed. My hair is longer but it's still straight and my make up has not changed at all.

July 2014 (26)
These days I wear my hair down a lot and it's really very long. After a long while with my contacts irritating my eyes, I wore some form of cat eye glasses most days. Luckily I've now worked out that the irritation was caused by a reaction to my moisturiser, so I'm wearing contacts again. 

It's crazy to look back and see how I've changed over the years. I think I retain an element of my style from each year, such as piercings from my emo phase and cat eye glasses from my vintage days. Then, of course, there's the eyeliner that has been a constant for the whole decade. No wonder I feel so naked without it! 

#YoungerSelf: A letter to my younger self

Dear 16 year old Becky,

I know, I know. Everything is horrendous right now. It feels like nothing will be ok in the world again but, you know what, it will be. I can promise you that you are going to meet an amazing man, wonderful friends (including Marie, she'll stick around!) and you'll end up with a good career too. You want to be an interior designer, I know, but you'll soon decide on something a lot more meaningful. I'm not going to tell you all the details because I don't want to ruin the surprise for you. Just promise me you won't give up art, ok?

So, since you can stop worrying about your future now, you might as well go and enjoy yourself. It won't feel like it at the moment but the next 2 years will actually be some of the most carefree, happiest times of your life. Yes, you're all emo and miserable but think about it- You have no boundaries. Right now, you are on the cusp of your adult life and you can do whatever you like. No work to worry about, no boring grown up finances to trouble you and, believe me, your boy troubles will end soon. You won't meet The One yet, but you'll meet somebody wonderful who will change the way you think of yourself. Look after him and treat him well, because he deserves it. 

Do everything now that you won't be able to do at 26: Get those cheek piercings. Dye your hair pink- and bleach it first, unless you want to go terracotta. Ignore what the orthodontist says; Your teeth are not going to fall out. (Not in the next 10 years, anyway!)

Live vicariously. Party hard. Embrace hedonism. Get it all out of your system now.

Most of all, remember: Everything works out ok in the end. 

With love,
26 year old Becky

Ps: Start a blog now and keep at it. When YouTube crops up next year, start filming videos. You won't regret it!

This post has been inspired by Legal & General's "What would you say to your younger self?" campaign. What advice would you give your younger self? 

Sponsor Shoutout: September

I made some little tweaks to my sponsorship packages this month. Nothing major but enough to make me feel refreshed and rejuvinated, so I'm feeling pretty good right now. It also helps that I've got some truly cracking sponsors to introduce.

Doing Life My Way
Alexandra, the blogger behind the really cute blog Doing Life My Way, is a 22 year old expat in Australia who loves Harry Potter, as all the best people do! I love Alexandra's blog because as well as posting some lovely outfits, like this stripy dress, she also writes recipes for the likes of muffins and cookies. Yum! 

Lydia Lulu
Lydia Lulu is the lifestyle blog of a 19 year old Londoner, who writes about everything from beauty to relationships. Lydia's writings on more serious topics, such as the impact of women's magazines and her struggles with anxiety are truly inspiring. 

I Wrote A Little Something
Time for a male blogger now, which is always refreshing! Rob of I Wrote A Little Something writes about anything and everything with his trademark wit and humour. I may have laughed out loud while reading his blog. On more than one occasion. Whether it's shopping at The Body Shop, album reviews or updating us on his bedroom's puberty, Rob's writing style is certainly unique, and I love it! 

Mermaid Gossip
Who doesn't like mermaids, amiright? Everyone likes mermaids, so everyone should like Emily. Her blog, Mermaid Gossip, is what my dreams are made of. Her style is awesome (and she has pink hair!), her nails are insane in the best way possible, and she has The Most Amazing Shed. Go and check her out now! 

If you'd like to see your blog featured next month, take a peek at my newly-updated sponsorship page

Review: Benefit They're Real Push-Up Liner

Eyeliner is my thang. For the past 10 years, ever since I discovered emo, I have been lining my eyes with thick black swoops. Now, there was a lot of hype around this eyeliner and, although I'm not one to be sucked into hype usually, Benefit are one of my favourite beauty brands and, since it was eyeliner and all, I just couldn't resist. I actually bought this on my first ever trip to Sephora, where it cost around £15, instead of the UK's usual £18.50. Thank you, exchange rate! 
Honestly, I'd heard more negative reviews than positive so I really wasn't expecting much. There's also the fact that I'm not a huge fan of its sister product, They're Real Mascara, so my hopes weren't too high. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The packaging is a big plus for me. It has a twist bottom, so you rotate the end and the gel liner is released from the "Accuflex" tip. I like this as it prevents the liner from drying out, although if you twist it too much, you can end up with surplus product that needs to be wiped away. Accuflex sounds pretty fancy but all it is is a flexible silicone nib angled in such a way that allows you to apply really close to the lashline. Application is a bit fiddly, especially when I moved onto my left eye, which I put down to the unusually large nib.

When applied, the liner is highly pigmented and creates a really dramatic black look. One huge positive is its longevity- once on, it dries quickly with no smudging or transfer, and sticks fast. When rubbed, it does flake off a little but mostly stays put, even through tears (I'm one of those people who cries at everything!)

Even though the application is tricky, I'll be sticking with it for now. I do very much like the bold, dramatic look it creates and it's hard to argue with that staying power! 

My flaws

Let's face it- Nobody's perfect. We all have flaws and imperfections and today I'm going to talk about mine. Not my physical flaws, mind you. Those are not only subjective, but also pretty obvious if you look at photos of me (Hello, chubby thighs!). Instead, I'm going to be brutally honest and discuss the flaws in my personality.

I'm lazy
Oh my word, I am the laziest person in the world. Rich has so much patience and I don't know how he lives with me. He will fetch me anything I need, he will make my dinner, he will even pour my drinks for me. I'd be nowhere without that man!

I'm dependent
On a similar note, I rely on Rich way too much. I can be clingy and I don't like spending too much time without him. Even if we're both home, I prefer him to be in the same room as me, even when I'm having a bath.

I'm stubborn and melodramatic
...and I quote Taking Back Sunday songs in blog posts. Seriously though, I am ridiculously stubborn and I do tend to be a bit sulky and melodramatic if I can't get my own way... which means I normally get my own way.

I'm messy
By messy, I don't mean dirty. I'm not unclean. I'm just a bit cluttered. If I get something out of the cupboard, I probably won't put it back. When I undress at the end of the day, I tend to leave my clothes on the floor. If I'm reading a magazine in the bath, I'll leave it on the laundry bin. 

I shop too much
My messiness is not helped by the fact that I own far too much stuff. If I want something, I will buy it. Phrenology heads, stuffed alpacas, lamps shaped like dinosaurs... I just have so much clutter and nowhere to store it, yet I keep buying more.

Don't get the wrong idea: I'm not proud of my flaws. This post isn't a boast. It's just an admission. Blogs tend to only promote the best of a person and I feel like I need to show you that I'm not always the way I appear online. Like everyone, I have both good and bad qualities and I would love to hear what yours are! 
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