On Instagram and Introspection

One of my biggest guilty pleasures is stalking myself on the Internet. From being a Myspace kid, to my short lived YouTube career, to curating my life on Instagram – I am so guilty of checking what I was doing one, three, or even seven years ago.

Which makes me wonder why I’m currently so aware of the idea of “aesthetic”. I may not be a gazillionaire fashion blogger who supports their lifestyle with Instagram, but for whatever reason, my Instagram seems to have developed a theme. What can I say? I’m a content producer both by day and by night. Keeping it on brand is practically second nature to me.

If I use Instagram as a means to keep tabs on my past self, I’m my own biggest audience. Something deep down is directing what content I choose to share online. Sure, a couple of hundred other people are watching too, but a lot of this is for thirty year old Rosy. Photo albums are obsolete. Part of the fun of nostalgia is now looking at how many likes a post got, as well as the picture itself.

Or maybe this is just me and I’m totally weird/self-absorbed/kinda pathetic. Your call.

When I lived in Madrid, for example, my feed was bright. Because isn’t that what the life of an expat in Spain is supposed to be? If Hemingway had an Instagram, it would be sun kissed and vibrant and warm. Old Ernie and I both liked to criticise Spain, but we definitely wanted to immortalise the country in its best light.

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Sure, in Madrid I did all these things. I ate pink lollies and drank iced coffee (when it became gentrified enough to get it, that is) and wore floaty dresses. My life was significantly sunnier than its English equivalent and I wanted to remember that. But my life in Madrid on social media is definitely not the life I had. I was unhealthy and unhappy. From the major lack of vegetarian options to the comfort eating to dull the pain of teaching English or unpaid internships, Madrid had its downs. But unless I screenshotted my empty bank account, you can’t portray that life on Instagram.

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Which brings us to my time in Brighton. The sky is grey, my clothes are black, and I’m still drinking my iced coffee. The colours may be more muted, but I’m so much happier here. I’m not sitting around carefully curating my life to look back on. I’m living in the now and posting it as an afterthought. Whilst I only chose to share the best of Madrid, for me, all of Brighton is the best. I may have only been here for five months but I’m already much happier than I ever was in Hull or Madrid.

I can post a picture of my work desk and planner because for once in my life, my work makes me happy. I’m sharing food pictures because, get this, vegetarian food is everywhere. Who would have thought? Not Spain! Who needs pretty dresses? I’m wearing all black and I’m digging it.

So thank you, Brighton. For making me evaluate my social media choices. And more importantly, for making me realise how happy I am here.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a picture of seagull or a bagel – and Future Rosy will know without a doubt that whatever the subject ends up being, Past Rosy was pretty freaking happy with it.

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The Great Expat Dilemma: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Let’s get real for second. When I first decided to start my expat adventure I was a naive little 21 year old, fresh out of university, with no life or work experience. I was feeling defeated and like I was running out of options, regretting all of my life choices that had led me to that moment.

To avoid spending another minute wasting away in my teenage bedroom whilst all my friends went on to bigger and better things, I thought maybe I’d move abroad and teach English. I wish I could remember my thought process for deciding this, but I imagine a lot of it had to do with just wanting to prove that I could do something other than receive job rejection emails. Thus, I set myself a task to work towards (so my days could be spent doing something more worthwhile than watching Catfish marathons) and for the first time since education, my life had purpose again.

I chose my destination (Madrid), worked out my plan (to begin with a four week TEFL course and then wing it), bought my plane tickets, and off I went. Soon I was a qualified English as a second language teacher living in a capital city and hanging out with a crazy diverse group of friends. And my initial plan to teach English for a year and then head home then turned into two years with no plans to leave yet. But yet, that expat dilemma remains: when is it time to go home?

By moving to Madrid, I definitely accomplished what I wanted to do. Before I left I was crippled by intense social anxiety and could barely function in situations I hadn’t rehearsed in my head before hand. I couldn’t talk to strangers or look people in the eye or make small talk in shops. But moving to a place where you don’t understand a single thing anyone says, or have your mum to do things for you, really forces you out of your comfort zone. And whilst I still don’t revel in talking to others, I no longer feel like my throat is closing up. I can navigate through life without that omnipresent sense of dread following me around – and let me tell ya, it feels super refreshing. I recently spent a few weeks in the UK and had multiple people comment on how different I was so. So life experience? Check.

Another thing I wanted was work experience. And whilst teaching is in no way what I want to do with my life, it pays the bills whilst I embark on multiple unpaid internships – something that definitely wasn’t available for me in a place like Hull. I’ve managed social media accounts, learnt CMS, written articles about things I knew nothing about before I started – aka I’ve basically become a digital media wizard. So whilst teaching isn’t exactly where I imagined I’d be at 24, I’m getting that much needed experience all those “entry level” jobs somehow expect you to have already. It just took me a little longer to get there and I’m talking about verbs whilst doing it. Work experience? Working on it but let me give it a preemptive check.

So after doing everything I set out to do (and spending double the expected time here), why am I still in Spain? The simple, gross, and horribly cliché version is that I fell in love. With the city, with a dude, with my entire existence here. And why ruin a good thing? I’ll stick with the cheap wine and sunny weather and good Mexican food, thanks.

But another major factor in my decision to stay in Madrid is that I don’t know what would happen otherwise. Here I know I can keep getting teaching gigs, keep living cheaply, keep enjoying this big city life I’ve grown accustomed to. Before I moved here my life was so uncertain – whether I’d get a job, be able to move out, the sensitive state of my mental health, etc etc. Shit was scary, but here I don’t have to worry. As I keep saying over and over again, this definitely isn’t where I expected to be, but as long as I’m paying the bills, having fun, and improving myself as a person, I don’t see what the problem is. I may not be as far along on the career ladder as my classmates but look at all that sexy life experience I’m racking up. And I’ve learnt more Spanish talking to supermarket cashiers here than I did in in four years of German in high school, so there’s that.

So although expat life has its flaws; friends leaving every year, language barriers, and cultural mishaps – and even though Spain is definitely not the utopia all those retired Brits make it out to be, it looks like for the moment I’m here to stay.

A misleading title? Mayhaps. ‘Cause I have no freaking idea what I’m doing with my life other than enjoying it. But at 24, I think maybe that’s okay.

Traveling As An Introvert


Traveling with another person when you’re a self-confessed introvert is difficult. Even if you think you’ll be compatible travel companions, everything changes when you’re forced to spend your entire day and night together in a foreign country.

I’m writing this in a piazza in Florence. I’ve just gorged myself on pasta and have sent my travel partner off to explore whilst I chill for a bit. I did it under the guise of being too full to move, which is true, but mainly I just needed time alone to recharge before we’re forced together again. Unfortunately, I am the only one with a working phone and any sense of direction, so my much needed rest will be over shortly when my companion decides that they need Google Maps again.

I think my main problem here is not only that I’m an introvert, but I’m an introvert who is too nice for her own good. I don’t want to rock the boat. I just want things to run as smoothly as possible and if that means doing everything with another person to avoid upsetting them, then so be it. As an introvert, I‘ve always believed that I was the defective one. People are supposed to want to be with other people, right? We’re social creatures. Yet here I am, in an amazing city with someone I consider* a friend, yet all I want is to be alone on a bench rather than discovering the city together. I’d rather sit and stare at the same gelato store and listen to the same constant drilling noises than have to make any more polite attempts at conversation. And I feel like this is my fault. This shouldn’t be the option I choose. But it is, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

I see lots of solo travellers from my little stone bench, or maybe they are people like me escaping social interaction for a while. I have often wondered whether solo travel is for me, and this trip would seem to confirm these suspicions. However, I don’t necessarily think I should be confined to experiencing new places alone just because I need time to myself every once in a while. Instead, I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about such a trip in the future. A Guide To Traveling With The Overly Cautious Introvert, if you will. A way to do things differently, so both people on the trip have a good time.

1. Make it clear you are an introvert (and what that entails) before you agree to travel together

I thought it was pretty obvious that I was introverted, but you can never expect an extrovert to know the full extent of your mental psyche. But on the other side of the argument, I never fully anticipated just how much not having any alone time would affect me. You need to make this clear to your partner before you do anything else. Even just a simple “hey, I might need to just hang by myself for a while, is that okay with you?” should suffice. Before this trip, I genuinely didn’t think I would be expected to do e v e r y t h i n g with another human being, so that’s definitely something we both should have clarified with one other.

2. Don’t be a pushover about your needs and feelings

If you want your alone time, say so. There have been times on this trip where we’ve been stuck in a dance of “so what should we do now?” “I don’t care” “me either” repeat ad infinitum, when all I’ve wanted was to scream “I JUST WANNA GO TO X AND DO Y, MAN. WITHOUT YOU”. What ended up happening, however, was I would spend the next few hours doing something I didn’t want to do, thus putting a downer on the whole trip. Your extroverted pal doesn’t get a monopoly on your happiness whilst traveling. They’ll be fine going to explore by themselves for a bit whilst you grab a coffee.

3. You do you, boo

Like I said before, you aren’t the defective one. If your fellow traveler wants to get lost in a crowded market place and the idea of all those people makes you want to kill yourself, say something. Just because they’re the “normal one” it doesn’t mean that their idea of how to spend time in a new place is the right one. The idea is to enjoy yourself, and that means you too. If you want to find a cute cafe and people watch for an hour, then great, that’s just as right of a way to spend your vacation as an extrovert’s way is.

And if all else fails (or like me, you avoid confrontation at all costs)…

4. Go to a museum

You don’t have to talk to each other if you’re looking at art. It’s the best of both your interests.

* After this trip, it’s definitely become considered. I was waaaay too kind in this post. But I’m sure this advice will still work if you’re traveling with reasonable human beings.

There And Back Again

There’s no other way to say it, I spent the last half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 stuck in a giant rut. I slept all day, shut myself off from everyone I knew, and pretty much traded in reality for Netflix. Other than my cat, I stopped caring about everything and everyone. I was living the existentialist dream… which just so happened to be a normal functioning human being’s nightmare.

I didn’t know I was depressed. I was so deep in negative thoughts that I didn’t even feel like I could justify how I felt by calling it depression. I hated myself so much that I didn’t feel worthy of having a mental illness. It was only around May 2014 when I finally managed to drag myself out of my dark thoughts long enough to make a change. After giving up on my year long job search (which just made things worse really, I probably would have been less full of self loathing if I didn’t regularly wake up to job rejection emails), I had a bit of a ‘fuck this’ moment. Since I hated literally everything about myself, I decided to do the most out of character thing I could think of: move abroad to teach English. Heck, I even picked a country that I (thought I) hated. How un-Rosy like was that?

Continue reading “There And Back Again”