2017

Well, where do I start? 2017 hasn’t been all roses and daffodils, and running through fields of wheat because that’s the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done but 2017 still been a great year. I’ve gone from strength to strength and I achieved things that earlier in the year I didn’t think I could.

BAD Bs GET FIRSTS 

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I’ve done so well this year in terms of personal goals, I graduated with first class honours in Accounting and Finance. This has been my goal since the first day I stepped into my university in 2013 and achieving it has given me enough confidence to last a lifetime.

Getting a first was not easy! University it’s self is not easy, but getting a first or trying to get one pushes you beyond your limits and will have you questioning your sanity and ability.  I questioned my ability allllll the time, hence my self-doubt post. The stress I was under I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and I’m still recovering from my final year now lol. There were laughs, there were plenty of tears, late night trips to Co-op because our house needed  sweets and Monster to get us through the night,  late night chats in our kitchen cooking pasta bake, salmon and sweet potatoes because going to sleep meant having to face your degree the next day and the all day library sessions. This year I learnt the key to doing well in uni is starting assignments and revision early, prioritizing Uni over fun (but still take breaks, don’t let Uni break you),  sending drafts to teachers/asking for pointers, finishing your assignment the day before and staying up all night to do your Harvard referencing (or you could reference as you go along, but I never did that). After referencing until 9 am you sleep, wake up at 1 p.m to proofread your work and cut down if needed and then submit. I remember texting Kim and Swin to knock on my door if I was not up by a certain time because missing a deadline was my worst nightmare.

Me finishing my last exam:

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The joy I felt from finishing my last exam is a joy I want to feel all the time.  I spent so much time in the library throughout my university life that it became my second home but I’m grateful because it all worked out. Glory be to God.

Kim, Swin, Nino, thank you all for being such wonderful housemates and making me laugh because home to an antisocial house would have been upsetting.

WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK

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I told my mum I wanted a job by September and I got one in August, less than a month after graduating. Look at God. Plus, I actually like my job, which is a huge bonus, I’ve worked in places where I would dread going to work in the morning, not anymore!

HOLIDAYS

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I went to Tenerife for my birthday and although I did not travel as much as I did last year I’m grateful to have travelled at all because travelling is a luxury even though I like to treat it as a necessity.

BOOK SORIEE

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I got back into reading this year! This is a big thing for me because I’ve been complaining for years that I don’t read enough.

In the last 3 months I’ve read:

  1. Panther in the Hive by Olivia Cole
  2. We should all be feminist by Chimamanda Adichie
  3. Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe

If you want to read more too, join our book club “The Book Soiree”  and follow what we’re reading this month here.

Part-time Blogger, Full-time Babe 

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Lastly apieceofsarah.com turned 1! My baby! My everything! The love of my life! Writing gives me so much joy and starting this blog has bought out creativity that I didn’t even know I had. Blogging also helped me with my assignments. I had 8 assignments this year, achieved 6As, 4 of them being A+ including my final project. blogging has allowed me to help people far and wide and has given me guidance when I felt like giving up. My accountability, self-doubt, goals, procrastination and consistency  posts all acted as reminders as to why I have to keep on going, so I’m forever grateful that God gave me the idea to start this blog.

If you follow me on twitter you probably would have noticed my “65 days of happiness” thread. I did this for three reasons, to count down the days until 2018,  to cheer myself up and to make myself become more grateful for the big and small things that happen in everyday life. I think finding happiness in each day has made me more grateful than ever and reminded me of how blessed I am.

I’m so thankful for the love and support I’ve received and I can’t wait to show you what I have planned for 2018.

My overall goal for 2018 is to step out of my comfort zone, even more and give myself more credit because I love myself and it’s what I deserve, I hope you do the same too.

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Self-doubt & how I deal with it

Self-doubt steals more joy and dreams than failure ever will.

Today I want to talk about  self-doubt because it is a destructive trait. There’s no way to sugar-coat it or dress it up.  It’s the epicentre of negativity and fear to me.  

Self-doubt is the lack of confidence about one’s own abilities and actions.

Examples of self doubt:

  1. “What if I’m not good enough?”
  2. “What if I don’t succeed?”
  3. “I’m too old to be starting something new anyway”
  4. “It’s never going to work”
  5. “Things never work for me”
  6. “I’ve done something similar before and failed, why would it be different now?”
  7. “I can’t do it.”

If I carried on writing, you would be reading this forever.

Self-doubt stops you from seizing opportunities because you fear you’re not good enough and feel inadequate to the task. Sometimes, it prevents you from even starting a task because you fear failure and think trying is a waste of time. At times you’ll be happy and motivated while working towards something then your critical inner voice kicks in and  the doubt starts speaking. 

So a few weeks ago,  I was thinking about one of the goals I set myself and I was happy and motivated, until the self-doubt kicked in. “Can you really do this? Is it even achievable ?  You’ve failed at something similar before, why would it work now? Am I good enough?” after this array of questions  I started  questioning myself and my abilities, wondering if  I was right. “The odds are stacked up against me so why would it be different now ?”  So I stopped working towards it for a while which was counterproductive. I was genuinely sad and stressed for a while, doing nothing and wasting my time as the self doubt grew and grew, until I spoke to my mum, re-read my accountability and consistency posts.  This reminded me what exactly I wanted and the actions I had to take to get there so I started working again.

Before I started this blog I would have had to force myself to start doing things again because life doesn’t stop for me, shocking I know. Other ways I tried to stop self-doubt are:

  • When self-doubt comes I try to disrupt and distract the thought pattern by thinking of something that makes me happy e.g a holiday, what I’m going to eat for dinner or when I’m next going to see my family.
  • I questioned my doubt and asked myself what am I genuinely afraid of, why I am so insecure about this?
  • I asked my loved ones for advice and told them how I was feeling.
  • I tried to stop seeing things as insurmountable because other people have achieved the same things I wanted to but they didn’t have two heads so why should I be worried?
  • I stopped letting doubt stop me from starting things because I realized it was counter-productive. There’s no harm in trying, there is harm in not trying at all.
  • I had to remind myself why I was doing things and the benefits of it, not how I was going to achieve it because that’s when I started questioning myself. Obviously you need to know the steps of what you want to do (assuming it’s been done before) but when I started thinking about how I was going to do these things (when I already knew the steps) I somehow talked myself out of doing them. “How will this work? How long will it take?” etc . etc
  • I stopped thinking “Can I?” and changed it to “I CAN!” It sounds really cheesy but positive thinking does wonders for your mental health and how you perceive yourself.
  • I focused on the past success in my life, the times that truly made me happy because obviously I did something right there which helped me believe in myself more.

Everyone questions themselves from time to time it’s normal. However, what’s not normal is when your doubt stops you from doing most things because you’re scared of the outcome. Just remember self-belief is more powerful than your doubt will ever be.

 
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Procrastination: The only action that doesn’t involve an action 

Procrastination is a thief of time and quality. When you procrastinate you rob yourself of the chance to produce things to the highest standard and give yourself a greater chance of failure.

Avoiding doing a task doesn’t mean it will go away, it just gives you more stress and less time to do it. A lot of people, myself included procrastinate to the point where they’re disappointed at the time (hours, days, months sometimes even years) they’ve wasted because they avoided a task by putting other things & people first. Avoid doing this because you’ll only blame yourself when things aren’t done and you lament over the lost.

How to stop procrastinating:

  • Make to-do lists and set deadlines
  • Remind yourself this task will not go away
  • Put your phone on flight mode and delete apps from your phone (I do this when I have a ton of stuff to do and I genuinely don’t want to speak to anyone)
  • Remember time is of the essence and there is no time better than now to start doing things. Life never stops there’s always something else being thrown at you
  • What will the consequences be if this task is not completed.
  • Do things in small steps because big tasks are overwhelming.
  • Tell people what you have to do, it will make you more accountable because others will know and pester you if you have not finished.
  • I like to finish the harder tasks first or at least early on as this makes me feel productive. This minimizes my stress levels so that if I do end up procrastinating, I will only have a small chunk left.

 

 

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Strawberries & Blueberries Smoothie Bowl

 

A few days ago I made my first smoothie bowl and it was delicious.
I think smoothie bowls are great for breakfast because they pack the necessary nutrients to get you through the day.

I made a strawberries and blueberries smoothie bowl  and blended the following: 1 pot of Onken strawberry yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds and ice. After blending I topped it off with strawberries,blueberries, chia seeds and Jordan country crisp. On the second day of making the smoothie bowl I added  spirulina powder to the mixture which I bought from Aldi for £2.49.

 

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Toxic friendships 

Friendships are weird, you meet someone, you start talking, notice you enjoy the same things and you build from there. As time goes on you become friends.  

Over the last few years I’ve realized the significance of friendships and why it’s essential  to limit who gets to know the real you. Friends have an affect on our happiness, self esteem and not to mention stress levels. So it’s wise to not accept or entertain everyone as a friend because not everyone deserves you. Not everyone has the same heart as you and quite frankly not everyone is entitled to your time.

From my experience there are so many “friends” you need to be cautious of.
All are toxic. 

A toxic friend as defined by Jenn Berman WebMD  “Someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.” 

I’m going to speak about 5 types of toxic friends, sometimes more than one of these traits are in the same person:

  1. The emotional freeloader
  2. Extremely negative friends
  3. Friends who always talk about themselves 
  4. The friend who can’t take constructive criticism 
  5. The friend who gives really bad advice

I came up with the phrase “emotional freeloader because freeloaders are people who take advantage of your generosity without giving anything in return. In this case they’re your friends and they are always emotional, hence the name.

The emotional freeloader uses you as their therapist but is never available  for the important things like meet up or attend your birthday. Always calls you when things are going wrong in their life but never asks you if you’re okay. You’re last place in their life and even the people they say they  hate  are prioritized over you. They’re untrustworthy and overtime you’ve  realized what they say doesn’t add up. As their “therapist” they usually don’t listen to you and get into the same situation again and again and again. Which regularly takes up your time and energy. No one should waste your time nor energy. Let’s face it, your friendship is one sided and you’re making all the effort. They don’t value you and  their problems are not worth headache they’re causing.
Either communicate or cut them out. 

Extremely negative friends. AVOID. AVOID. AVOID.

I feel like there’s two types of negative friends in the world: 

  1. The one who thinks the world is constantly against them 
  2. The one who wants the world to be constantly against you 

For most of  this section  I’ll  be focusing on the latter. Negative people are bad for our health. Google it. Misery loves company and all negative people  do is bring you down with them. They want you in the same place as them, if not, below. You tell them your ideas, they say “it can’t happen/it won’t work” or something unsupportive along those lines. Remind you of someone? Yeah? Steer clear.

If you have to pause before telling a friend positive news because you fear the backlash you will receive, or they’ll say something negative to put you down?
Chances are you shouldn’t be friends in the first place.
Don’t let people project their negative thoughts and feelings onto you. 

I’ve learnt to always listen to people’s response and tone when talking about good and bad things. Why? Mainly because too many people are more excited to hear about your failures than achievements, which is why it’s  good to keep things to yourself sometimes.  

Part of me thinks “friends” are negative  to compensate for their own shortfalls as it makes them feel better about themselves. Another part thinks they believe they’re  in some sort of competition with you. The rest of me believes it’s because they’re evil. 

Cheque please!

The friend who always talks about themselves. You’re trying to say how you feel and they’ve interjected with something completely unrelated but totally about them. Or your friend will interject with something related but they will make the conversation about themselves and this happens constantly. You feel as though  you’re fighting to speak and in the end you give up. You’ll end up talking  about them for what seems like an eternity and  as a consequence your problem is still unsolved so  your emotions are neglected.  Sometimes people are unaware and they don’t notice their selfishness. Talk to them about their behaviour, otherwise cut them off or limit the time you time spent with them. 

The friend who can’t take constructive criticism: Your friend is in the wrong, you’ve told them and they’re angry at you?! Anyone who can’t take constructive criticism and is angry/insulting when you give it to them needs to be avoided. I say constructive criticism because the aim is to get a positive outcome and it comes from a good place. 

I had a friend a few years back who could never accept when she was wrong and her attitude was vile. She was a funny person when she wasn’t being horrible but she was too proud to accept her faults.  One day in the summer of 2012, she walked off because I was apparently  “taking too long in a shop and why should she be heading home late because of me?”

¿Que?

Bearing in mind I had spent roughly six hours with her that day trying to buy the  things she needed. We went from East London to South London then back to East. That’s one hell of a TFL journey  with several tube changes and a bus. I told her, her attitude was still horrible and I was upset since I did all those things for her but she didn’t have the courtesy to spend 15 minutes in River Island with me. (I say “still” because we had spoken about it before and she had lost friends because of it.)
Anyway she didn’t take that text well at all and I found out how she truly felt about me. Let’s just say it was horrible and I laughed at the texts with my mum. Anyone with that kind of hatred in their heart shouldn’t be in my life. We thank God.
What you call a wolf in sheep clothing.

A year or so later she  messaged me to apologize which I think I replied to and she added me back on Facebook years after that which she ended up deleting because I just left it there. People like that should never be in or allowed back into your life, ever.

Burn that bridge before it burns you. 

The friend who gives you really bad advice: I can’t even repeat the worst advice I’ve ever received but let’s just say my excuse for ending the call was “I need to get back to reading the Da Vinci Code.” Anyone of a sound mind who gives you bad advice or you make several bad decisions around should be avoided. If your friend tries to push you to do negative things, act dangerously, unhealthily, do something that’s borderline illegal  or downright stupid they need to go, they’re not good for you. 


Good friends will always want the best for each other. Period.

When people show you who they are, believe them. Don’t use the length of your friendship as an excuse to keep them . When I was younger I used to hold on to friendships, not anymore, I value my time, energy and sanity too much. I don’t regret any friends I’ve lost because people are never worth the inconvenience they cause. Overtime we mature and become conscious of who our friends really are, it’s acceptable to cut people out, especially those you’re not growing with and starting to resent because they are one of the friends I spoke about.

If you really want to hold on to the friends I’ve mentioned, then talk to them because sometimes people are unaware of their actions. Unless they can’t take criticism like #4 then run for the hills.

If you’ve read this post and can relate to it,  then leave a comment/share your thoughts.

If you’ve read this post and can’t relate to it,  you either have a great friendship group which you should cherish or you’re the toxic friend.  Hopefully it’s the former. 

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Consistency.

Today I’m writing about consistency because it affects my life in more ways than I had originally thought. I remember all the times where I wasn’t consistent and failed to get the results I wanted. Then I remember all the times I’ve been consistent and I was happy with the outcome because I had exceeded my own expectation of myself because I was consistent. Both times the only person that could control the outcome was myself.

CONSISTENCY /kənˈsɪst(ə)nsi/ The ability to behave and act in in a similar way overtime. I say ability because it’s a skill and it’s bloody hard.

My favourite times where being consistent has worked in my favour was finding a placement and losing weight in second year of university. I spent months finding a placement, 30 different CVs and cover letters made, 2 assessment centres and 3 interviews later I unexpectedly got my placement  in July. 2 months after I finished my second year of uni I had my interview and got my job. Even though working for a year was very hard and I complained about lack of sleep most of the time, taking a placement was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  Ever. Apart from getting paid, it gave me experience in my field and showed me what I wanted and didn’t want from my next job and helped me start the next project I’m working on.

Losing weight in my second year of university:

I lost two stones, dropped my BMI (Body Mass Index) from 33 to 28 and have been able to post two full length bikini pics on Instagram ( I’m proud & yes that’s important to me.) I had been trying to lose weight for years but I had finally had enough. I signed up to my local gym, sometimes went with friends but mostly went alone. The only reason I lost weight is because I went to the gym 4 times a week and tried to eat well. It was hard at first but once I got into it, it became part of my routine. I am currently trying to lose four stones but trying to find time to go to the gym right now is hard due to third year.

But where there is a will there’s a way. 

My main point of this post is to never give up and don’t stop just because you want to quit. “Anything that’s worth having is sure enough worth fighting for” word to Cheryl Cole. Even though she was talking about love I realized this can be applied to everyday life. Relationships, friendships, studying, weight loss, creative projects etc. Life only works if you’re consistent and all of these things need consistency to work.

When you want to stop ask yourself this:

  1. Why did I start in the first place?
  2. What do I want to achieve?
  3. Why do I want to stop?
  4. Am I happy with the way my life is going and will I be upset if I don’t complete this task?

Once you’ve answered these questions you’ll know exactly what you want to achieve because life only changes when you do.

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