Sunday, 30 August 2015

Comfort Zones

Comfort zones is one of those topics where everyone seems to have an opinion about it and voice them loudly, whether you want them to or not. People are always saying 'It's good to get out of your comfort zone once in a while.' And that is very true.

But someone said to me recently 'You should live out of your comfort zone.' And the two highlighted words are what I have a problem with. Seriously, read that sentence again. That particular acquaintance was advising me to live an uncomfortable life...really??

I do understand why stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing. That is simply saying you should try new things, even if those things scare you a little bit. Those are things like meeting a new group of people, working in a new job, exploring a new place, trying new experiences that you wouldn't normally do. All these things may scare you, your heart may beat a little bit faster and you might not want to do it at first. But you may like them and this might come sooner than you think. And you won't know until you try it.

But doing this constantly?? I think that's taking it a bit far.

There are some people out there who do want to be constantly thrilled. They want to jump out of aeroplanes and whiz down tall buildings with nothing but a rope keeping them safe. They want to be hurled around short pieces of track and go down to the bottom of the ocean with the fish. That's all well and good but, none of that bothers me.

I have come to realise that I don't really leave my comfort zone that much. I am very happy and content here. It's soft and warm and full of things which make my life enjoyable. Every now and then I do things that scare me and that reminds me that I do have a heart pumping blood around my body. But on the whole I am more than happy, just chilling and seeing where life takes me.

What I have also come to realise though, is that's ok. You don't have to leave your comfort zone if you don't want to. Ever. But if you do, it obviously has to be worthwhile to you. You have to benefit in some way and if you're not (or if you are going to hate the experience so much that you aren't going to learn anything from it), there's really no point in doing it.

Ultimately it's your life.

What I am saying is, don't get sucked in to doing something that you really don't want to do, just because someone else thinks you should. Everyone has different distances they can manage as to how far they want to leave their comfort zone. And everyone has very different levels of stress that they can deal with. Therefore don't let someone else tell you, how you should be feeling or you should experience something or you should enjoy this. Only you know what you are comfortable with.

And if you just want to feel safe and you are happy doing that the whole time, that's fine too.

(image courtesy of

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Those 3 little words...

No I am not talking about anything to do with love. What I want to talk to you about is actually....interviews. And that horrible question when the interviewer goes

'So describe yourself in three words.'

Whenever I hear that, or read it on the application, my heart always always sinks.

It should be fairly easy. After all it is only three words. But I know I always leave it until last. People spend hours deliberating, over this question. You have to be original, witty, and interesting. You have to surprise, be truthful, yet not too truthful. And you are always trying to second guess the asker, attempting to give them what they want so they will think you are not merely a suitable person but, THE MOST suitable person to hire for whatever job you are going for.

It is no good just going for words such as hardworking, punctual and organised. These may be true and definitely what the interviewer wants to hear. However, they are so cliché, the interviewer may not even believe you when you say them. And it doesn't seem like you have put any thought into the question, so you would actually get minus points for saying really positive things.

On the other side you don't want to be too truthful or too familiar with your (hopefully) boss-to-be and say words such as bubbly, talkative, excitable, and even enthusiastic is an iffy one. These are not necessarily bad things, but could be taken in a negative way.

If you have been asked this question face to face in an interview (unlucky you!) answer time is also taken into account. Again you have to play this so carefully. If you answer too quickly, it looks like you are just pulling random words out of your brain. But too slow and you obviously look a bit thick. I don't know about you though when I get asked this question, all adjectives go completely out of my head so it's difficult to think up any words, let alone those that describe me. I always prepare for this quite heavily and memorise them just before the interview or I would have a bit of trouble.

Basically what I am trying to show you is that this question is a complete minefield. And to be honest, I don't understand how anyone manages to answer it!

But I have also come to the conclusion that this is ok and you shouldn't be able to answer it. If you can YOU ARE NOT HUMAN!

Humans are complicated creatures with many strands to their personality that come together to make you who you are. There's no way you could cover all that intricacy with three tiny words. Especially when you are put on the spot. We are so much more than that.

So I have three words for all you interviewers who may be reading this. Get lost employers. Don't ask this. And: let me explain (and yes it did take me an hour to come up with that sentence). I will be more than happy to prove myself to you - if only you will give me a bit more leeway than those three little words.

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Thursday, 6 August 2015

8 things life is too short for

I can not believe it! But The World According to Charlotte Coster is officially three years old. Where has this time gone???

So I thought to celebrate, and to reiterate the fact that we don't have enough time in our lives, I would show you the 8 top things which we need to get rid of, first. Our lives are not long enough, so we definitely don't need any of this pointlessness.

1. Matching socks
I love to say that I wear odd socks because I am quirky and cool. It's actually because I can't be bothered to pair them up. And I am always always losing socks. I swear the washing machine eats them.

2. Plucking eyebrows
It's lucky that chunky brows are in fashion because plucking is SO DULL. And it makes my arm ache.

3. Waiting for adverts
It adds on another 15 minutes to the programme you are watching. Calculate that for the number of programmes you watch in your whole life, and you have lost days. What's even worse is when adverts won't load.

4. Waiting for a TV series to come out, week by week
I prefer discovering a TV series later and then just blitzing the whole thing within a few days. I get too impatient for the next part.

5. Dodgy internet
I hate it when web pages won't load automatically. I have so little patience but it really is pointless watching a blank screen.

6. Ironing
SO BORING. Enough said.

7. Packing
You spend days packing up your house, even if you are only moving a few miles. And then spend days unpacking it all again. How stupid is that?

8. Waiting for tubes/trains
They never ever come when they say they will. I now won't go anywhere without a book. Who knows when trains are going to act up. Although the safe bet is pretty much always.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Book challenge - Part 3

Here are the next 5 books in the book challenge that #26BooksWithBringingUpBurns set us book bloggers. You can read my first part here and tags 6-10 here.

11. A book you started but never finished - The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I attempted to read this ages ago but I clearly wasn't in the right mood because I only got a couple of pages in. This time though, I whizzed through it in just a couple of days. A great, really easy-to-read book. I loved it.

The characters involved were all so deliciously human, it was a perfect representation of anyone who we could meet within our real lives. And although I am a highly emotional person so I can't relate to Don's struggles at all; it is written in such a way that you understand his point of view perfectly. Which is the mark of a good writer as you manage to relate to him when normally you would not.

I think the novel does impart a really important message as well. Throughout the book, Don is looking for the perfect woman, and makes a questionnaire to weed out unsuitable people. Yet Rosie, who he eventually admits to himself he is in love with, is just about the exact opposite to all the ideals he originally thought were important. Love comes out of nowhere. It is surprising and unpredictable and you can't try to control it. It just kind of happens. And when it does, there's nothing you can do to stop it. A beautifully reassuring idea.

12. A book with a lion, a witch or a wardrobe - Wicked by Gregory Maguire
This is a book I have been wanting to read for a while, because, as you all should know by now, I am a huge fan of theatre and Wicked is an absolutely brilliant musical. So with this prompt, I finally took the opportunity to read in more detail about the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

And that is precisely what I got - tonnes and tonnes of detail. In this rather hefty 500 page novel, you go through her entire life from the moment she was born, her childhood and college years, right up until her death. And along the way you learn so much about not only her, but her family and friends, the politics of Oz and the geography as she travels to all corners of it.

I thought I knew the story of Wicked but the book was in fact, completely different to the musical. It is a very complicated book so I understand that they had to simplify it, but they changed so much. They got rid of several main characters, changed the relationships of the characters a lot, people died at different points, and the Wizard was portrayed as far far more evil than the Witch is.

To be the honest, I think there was a little bit too much detail within the book as well. And there were points where I was definitely bored. The part which I enjoyed the most was at the last 50 pages or so, where Dorothy came on the scene and I loved the retelling of the events from the Witch's point of view as it seemed like the true one. But it was so well interlinked that you could see how others got mixed up with the timeline of the events and the motives of the characters. It was brilliantly done and Maguire is most definitely a gifted storyteller.
13. A book with a female heroine - Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
I wasn't a huge fan of the film as I don't really like Renee What's-her-name who plays the title character but I loved the idea of having such a flawed main character and have wanted to read the book for ages.

Bridget Jones really is the ultimate heroine for females. She is flawed and worries about her weight and her job and not having a boyfriend. Basically what every single female in the world worries about. Helen Fielding writes her so so perfectly as she helps friends through troubles, deals with a ridiculously annoying mother. And all the while tries to appear normal so she can ensnare someone of the opposite sex into the relationship.

It made me laugh out loud and Bridget really is such a lovable character who you can relate to so perfectly. It is such an easy read, which was perfect when I was travelling back from the US.
14. A book set in the summer - Us by David Nicholls
This book was set in Europe, where the main character Douglas forces his family to go on an interrailing trip throughout the summer prior to his 18 year old son going off to college.

Having absolutely adored One Day, I thought I was going to love this book and had waited for its release for a long time. But I was vaguely disappointed. The main character was intentionally but undeniably dislikeable, and I didn't warm to him at all, throughout the whole story. Making me slightly disinterested in his plight. I didn't particularly care that his wife was leaving him or his son wouldn't talk to him. In fact, I found it rather obvious that they would act like this.

The whole book was rather pointless as well. At the beginning, his wife Connie was going to leave him and he was estranged from his son. By the end, his wife had indeed left him and his son was only marginally closer to him yet still absent from the last part of the novel. Therefore, I felt there was very little direction or progression of character.

Saying that, there were funny moments, and I loved the travel parts of the novel as I had visited many of the places that were written about. The characters were well written, and you really felt as if you knew each of them thoroughly by the end of the novel. However it is not my favourite book by any means.

15. A book of poems - Philip Larkin's Collected Poems
Philip Larkin is quite an extraordinary man. I first came across his poems when he studied him in my final year of university and after that I bought this book of his collected works. I became such a fan.

He has a way of depicting ordinary life in such a sarcastic and tongue in cheek way, he is my favourite poet by far. He really appeals to my humour and I love that he is completely understandable to the average reader, yet you can read into his poems at a much deeper level if you wish.

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