Faith in Humanity

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It seems like every day there are more reports about horrific events occurring around the world and my heart absolutely breaks for the people that are suffering. Of course, it’s vital that these stories get news time, but when you’re feeling shitty already they can really take a toll – one of my friends messaged me the other day saying ‘the world is fucked and I can’t be arsed with it’ and I get that, because look at the horrors that are going on around us. However, I do genuinely believe that there’s ultimately more good in the world than bad, and every so often there’ll be a gem of a story about a random act of kindness and I’m reminded that there are some wonderful people out there. Here are a few…

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I’ve been lucky enough to go to Jamaica twice and it has become my favourite place I’ve travelled to, purely because of the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege to meet. The country is so poor in wealth but so rich in society and life values. While I was there, we spoke to a lovely waitress, Natalla, every day. One time, we talked to her about about this specific type of mango that we ‘HAD’ to try. She told us that we’d be able to get some at the market further along the beach and we were really grateful – let’s be honest, you can’t beat local knowledge. Anyway, the next day we saw her and she told us she had something for us, she scuttled away and out she came from the kitchen with four mangoes she had bought for us – we insisted that we give her some money for them but she refused and said ‘this is my gift to you’. I know that a lot of the people in Jamaica barely have any money but their kindness is truly on another level.

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Recently, I’ve had the privilege of meeting one of the loveliest people I have ever met. We’re gonna call him LP, short for Lovely Person because creative cover names are clearly my strong point and his request of ‘Thunderwolf’ somewhat detracts from the tone;) When LP was young, he had a paper round and every day he would deliver the paper to an elderly couple who would sit outside together reading. One day, he noticed that the lady was on her own and asked where her husband had gone, she told him that he had passed away, so LP said ‘would you like me to read the paper with you?’ and sat down to read with her. LP still visits her whenever he’s home from uni and if that doesn’t warm your heart, I honestly don’t know what will.

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My beautiful but incredibly clumsy best friend, Leila, fell off a train one day – if you know her, you’ll know this is a very typical occurrence. On this occasion, she split her knee open and had no tissues or anything to wipe up the blood. A man who had been standing on the platform and saw her fiasco came over to offer help. She asked if he had a tissue but he insisted that she take his whole pack of Kleenex and also, his bar of chocolate, he then offered to walk her to her next train to make sure she was okay – what a sweetheart.

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In 2015, I was out with one of my best friends, Billy, when I was spiked. Billy called my best friend, Leila, and my parents to come and help but I don’t remember any of this. It would be easy to look at this event and think ‘wow, what absolute dicks spiking someone’ but you also have to look at the kindness that occurred too – a few girls stopped and found Billy on his own, clearly panicking, and stayed to help in any way that they could. When Leila arrived, they asked her if she could take their numbers and keep them updated about how I was doing once I was taken to hospital. These lovely ladies were complete strangers, but showed such care and concern for someone they didn’t even know. A few days later, I got their numbers from Leila and messaged them to say thank you, to which they replied ‘you don’t need to thank us, we’re just glad you’re alright’.

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In 2013, I’d already had a few years of bad health so I decided to start writing down all of the little things that made me happy each day and putting them in a jar. At the end of the year, I sorted all of the post-it notes into sections for each person so I could show people that they had helped make that year great. I noticed that a lot of the post-it notes were actually from things random strangers had said to me, or done to help me. It makes me smile so much knowing that every single one of these post it notes contains something lovely from someone who doesn’t even know me. This is how many there were.

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There’s no denying that there’s a lot of horrible things happening in the world, and these small acts of kindness seem insignificant in comparison – but, these are just tiny examples of the bloody lovely people that are out there, let’s not forget about them.

Stacks of love, 

Soph x

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Drive? Drive.

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Big, big thank you to every single one of you who have asked when I’m writing my next post, you truly have made my day by doing that and you’re the reason I started typing this. To be honest with ya, I’ve felt pretty, bloody uninspired these past couple of weeks and felt very ‘urgh’ about things and as such, have been on many a ‘clear my head’ drive – which leads me onto the topic of this post, crazy how these things happen, ay?;)

I think there’s a lot to be said about the beauty of cars. Not in the ‘get me an Audi R8’ and ‘wow, what a brilliant engine’ kind of way, but in a ‘nothing cheers me up quite like driving around singing at the top of my voice’ type of way. Even when I’m in the best mood, I find it can always be improved by good music and a decent drive. On good days, I can be seen with the windows down (weather permitting, of course), blasting out songs like ‘One More Time’ – Daft Punk and ‘Galway Girl’ – not the Ed Sheeran tune but the original Steve Earle and Sharon Shannon song. There’s no feeling like driving down a country road, with the windows down and loud music. I’ve been really lucky sometimes have managed to catch some absolutely beautiful sunsets.

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There’s also real brilliance in going on a ‘pissed off’ drive – safely, of course, no lawsuits here, please and thank you. There’s something really calming about having your mind focused on driving and letting the stuff that’s irritated you go while you focus on the road. I love doing this on my own, especially if I’m in a really bad mood, it just chills me out so much. Last week, I just got in my car and decided I wanted to drive, so headed out of the city and ended up in the countryside on a gorgeous day.

It’s also great to go with one of your friends. Let’s throwback to… I was about to say throwback to when I used to go for pissed off drives with my best friend Leila and then I realised I still do. I have a lot of fun memories though from when I was really hung up on a guy last year and I wasn’t getting anywhere, cue a lot of drives singing to Beyonce, Ciara, Adele and ‘Hair’ by Little Mix on repeat – ever so tragic to admit but ever so true. And you know what? It BLOODY helped! Let me tell you, you can get a lot of laughs from editing the lyrics to sassy songs to fit your situation about a twatty guy. There’s also just a lot of fun in dancing in your car with your best friend, we often just start dancing and singing to the person in the car next to us at traffic lights and we’ve had some very funny responses, let me tell you. With some of the looks we get, anyone would think we’re driving around with Stormzy on full blast but there we are, jamming to 80’s hits and loving Lionel Richie. Side note, please don’t get too distracted dancing to Stevie Wonder and scrape your car on a post like I did.

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Then, there’s also the beauty of a quick road trip. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve text my other best friend Alice saying ‘drive?’ only for her to reply two minutes later with ‘drive.’ Lots of the time we drive with absolutely NO direction, but we’ve driven back to Leeds loads, where I spent a lot of time growing up. By the time we end up back home, we’re feeling better and the back seats are littered with rubbish from the road trip essential – snacks. We’ll have stopped about five times on the way there and back to let Alice empty her SHOCKINGLY weak bladder and we’ll have picked up even more snacks at the service station. These drives are full of lots of laughs, conversations about things we need to get off our chest and Alice’s road trip essential which is sadly, music by Taylor Swift. I think there’s much to be said about getting out of where you live for a little while, even if it’s just an afternoon – it can really help to clear your mind, putting distance between you and whatever’s bothering you.

Finally, there’s the brilliance of ‘Car Therapy Sessions’ which involve sitting in a parked car and having a long, long chat. You can do it where there’s a nice view or outside of your house, I’ve found it doesn’t really make a difference, because the body of a car seems to act like a vault for secrets and shit that needs to be said. Honestly, I feel like there’s a real business venture in this because there’s something about cars which seems to make people more open – correct me if I’m wrong but you might have noticed it too. Extra points if it’s raining cause then you’ve got the whole ‘car talk movie scene’ thing going on.

So, who’s with me on this one? Cars are great for driving but they’re also a hub of laughter, fun and mood improvement. Go on a drive, it might help.

Safe travels.

Stacks of love,

Soph x

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To thirteen year old me…

To thirteen year old me,

You’ve just turned thirteen and you’ve stopped sleeping. Let me tell you, kid, this is the start of a very long road, you’ve got five years of illness ahead of you, so buckle up. You’ll have a sleeping disorder for two years, no sedatives will knock you out and box sets will become your best friend. The night can be a lonely place but you’ll get through it, you’ll be awake to see the sun rise, so trust that at the end of the darkness there is always light. Just as you start sleeping properly again you’re going to get hit by chronic pain. You’ll be in hospital six times within two months and the doctors won’t know what causes it; they work it out eventually, keep going. You’ll be loaded up to your eyes on painkillers and experience treatments so agonising you can’t even comprehend the pain and the pain will still be there, but you’ve got to carry on. While this is going on, you’re going to lose the most monumental man you’ve ever known and the pain of it will break you to the point where you feel like you can’t go on, but you will. Just as things start getting better, something else will hit you – this will happen a fair few times and you’ll question whether things will ever be okay again – listen to Mum, she’s right when she says ‘things can’t keep going wrong forever’ – you won’t believe her now but you will, and it’ll get you through. There’ll be days where you feel so unwell you’ll literally question whether you’ll survive, but here you are, at twenty – still standing.

Because here’s the thing, kid – you haven’t met some of the most important people in your life yet. Some of the people in your life right now are there to stay, and some of the people who are supposed to be there for you won’t, but that’s okay because the great ones more than make up for those losses. Your Mum, Mike, Nana Kath and Papa Ron will inspire you more than you can imagine – you’ll mould yourself on these four incredible family members and you’ll be so thankful that you did. You are so, very blessed to have them in your life; they’ll fight for you, and with you, more than you can ever imagine. You inherited the feistiness of the Campbells but you’ll learn from the patience of your Mum and Mike. These four will continue to fill your life with all the love anyone could ever need, so much so that it’ll spill out to your friends and they’ll become part of the family too.

Let’s start with the four girls. Leila will make you laugh so much you can’t breathe (she already does but this never stops), you’ll dance in supermarket aisles together in the middle of the night and pretend to be youtubers to guys in bars – the funny thing is that they’ll believe you, and it’s bloody hilarious. She will be there with you through absolutely every single thing life throws at you. You’ll gain a second family with her family and you’ll know what it is to say you’re not hungry in an Egyptian household, her dad will go through every food in the cupboard asking if you want it – it’s because he cares. Alice is your wild one, don’t even get me started on all the highs and party nights you’re going to have together, but she’ll stand with you through your darkest time too and tell you that you look like shit, because that’s what friends do. The two of you will keep each other going through some of your shittiest times. You’ve grown up with Rose and Bethany so far and you’ll continue to do that. You won’t believe Rose’s craziness once she gets going, she is so quirky and is an absolute burst of gold glitter on the cloudiest of days. You’ll be so amazed with Bethany’s strength, you’ll stand together as you always have – despite how she used to always blame her childhood pranks on you.

Then, there’s the boys. Firstly, there’s Hugh – you were never really pals in primary school but he’ll end up being one of your closest friends, always there for a ranting chat and a rational comeback to your anxious ways. In a couple of months, you’re going to meet Oliver – his mind will blow you away and his humour will keep you laughing for years, he’s in your life to stay and you can always rely on him to reassure you. Then, there’s your two brothers – Billy and Sam. You’ll meet Billy at your 17th birthday, you’ll stay in touch with him and he’ll become one of your best friends – he’ll always be there to party, so much so he’ll reach ‘number one party pal’ status, but he’ll be there to hug you when you’re crying too. You’ll meet Sam that year as well, you’ll completely take the piss out of him for looking like he’s walked out of 5 Seconds of Summer. Don’t worry, he doesn’t wear a bandana forever. Sam and you are twins born four days apart. These two boys will drive you up the wall, you’ll go through shitty arguments but at the end of the day, you can’t stay mad at them – they’re just too bloody lovely and they both have hearts of pure gold. Some of your best memories will be with them.

You also haven’t experienced some of the best memories of my life so far. You haven’t seen the beauty of Jamaica or felt the pace of New York. You haven’t been swimming in the sea in the middle of the night after a bonfire beach party. You haven’t danced all night only to come crawling back home at 6 in the morning. You haven’t sung songs in Dublin pubs with everyone throwing their arms around each other. You haven’t seen your Mum marry Mike and watch her be the happiest you’ve ever seen her. You haven’t met all the wonderful people at Headway who will inspire you more than words can say. You haven’t been in the two relationships I’ve had so far – these will bring you so much joy and sadness, but you’ll gain great memories. You haven’t been to Glasgow and heard a whole arena sing along to Coldplay while the sun is setting. You haven’t been on the best date of your life where you’ll laugh so much your ribs will hurt and the guy will literally start an improv session with the couple on the next table. You haven’t felt the pure joy of driving through the countryside on a sunny day, blasting out U2, with the windows down. Right now, you’re 13 and you’re only just scratching life’s surface. Now, I’m 20, I’ve had so many bloody incredible memories and I’m still only just getting started.

So, what I’m trying to say to you is, kid – you’re going to feel so ill that you won’t believe you’ll ever be okay again, but you’ve got to keep going, because you have so many fucking incredible things to come.

If all you can do is crawl, start crawling – but carry on.

Stacks of love,

Twenty year old you x

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The Best Advice I’ve Received…

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I feel like it’s worth talking about the best advice I’ve received. Well, technically it wasn’t given to me initially but I got it in the end. Let’s go back in time a bit… My mum was just about to take her nursing finals and was an absolute nervous wreck, bless her. My nana, said to her ‘if you get worried, just touch your left shoulder and imagine I’m sitting on it, right there with you’, how sweet. My granddad, Papa Ron, then turned around, in typical Scottish fashion, and said, ‘right kid, take three deep breaths, think fuck it and go in there and do your best’ now THAT is what I’m talking about. 

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I don’t remember when this advice was passed on to me, clearly it wasn’t at age three, because as much as I come from a long line of Glaswegians and Geordies, we’re relatively civilised;) Anyway, for some reason my granddad, the legendary Ronnie Campbell, told me this and I haven’t forgotten it since.

You see, we live in a society where everyone feels judged and people get too nervous to do things they actually want to do, but all it really takes is a few seconds of ‘fuck it’ and you can do it. Now, I’m not saying go out there and swing for your ex, please don’t… But there have been times where I’ve been sat there thinking, ‘ahhhh should I do this?’ then this advice comes into my head and the next minute I’m doing it. I won’t lie and say it’s all been plain sailing hahaha, I have landed myself in some VERY embarrassing situations but it’s all been a laugh in the end.

My best friends regularly end up roped into my ‘fuck it’ antics – one time I was stood with Leila and saw a guy I used to know when we were young kids, so I say to her ‘shall I say something?!’ to which she replies ‘oh my god, Soph, no!’ not even 10 seconds later I’m walking up to the poor chap saying ‘Hey! I used to know you!’… He had absolutely no recollection of my existence and turns out he was one of those #indie, philosophical, ‘I’m so deep cause I listen to Leonard Cohen’ types;)  I enjoy reminding myself of this situation, purely because of the absolute hysterics Leila and I ended up in. 

But, this advice has helped me in some of my worst times too. Throwback to when I was first got my chronic pain, when I was 15, and was in hospital left, right, and centre for some incredibly painful treatments. I’d sometimes sit in the waiting room, nervous as hell and think ‘fuck it’, then suddenly I didn’t seem as scared anymore. It’s helped me with exams too, when you’ve worked so hard you can’t work anymore but you still don’t feel like it’s enough. Sometimes you just have to remember you can’t control everything, something I’ve really struggled with, and think ‘fuck it’, let it be. 

It’s one of the best, if not THE best, pieces of advice I’ve ever been given and I am so grateful for it. It helps me to get shit done, get out there and make memories. Who knows, maybe it’ll help you too.

Stacks of love,

Soph x

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Triumph Over Heartbreak

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We need to talk about the pure sass master and conqueror of heartbreak, my best friend – Alice.

Can you tell she has a favourite angle to take selfies from?

Last year, Alice was with a guy who we’ll call Tom (to save him the shame). Tom told Alice he loved her and broke up with her two weeks later… Over the phone. WHAT A CHAP! Alice called me in hysterics, when I answered the phone the first thing I heard was her sobbing ‘Sophie, Tom’s just broken up with me’. She drove straight over there to talk to him, and when I asked her about this recently she said ‘I went to his with my eyebrows half drawn on’ – anyone who knows Alice will agree, that’s how you know shit just got real.

For the next God knows how long, Alice was a shell of the person she is. In my GRAND 20 years of life (we’re still toddlers in terms of life experience, let’s be real) I’ve never seen anyone more heartbroken, and though I know it’s unlikely, I hope I never do again. Alice ended up being super low and sometimes stayed in bed all day, I had to tempt her out of the house with the promise of food – like tempting a mouse out of his hiding hole. Then there was ‘The Texting Phase’ – many a drunk text was received by Tom, and many a sober one too, ‘can’t we just meet up and talk about it?’ etc. During this time, Alice would have gone back to Tom in a heartbeat. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that it’s taken Alice about 7-8 months to get over him, but bloody hell, she’s done it. And she’s done it with sass.

One of the things I love most about Alice is her willingness to hold her hands up and say that she was heartbroken. It isn’t a weakness to let someone into your heart and give them the power to hurt you, it’s a strength, and my god, she has been SO strong. A little while ago she sent him a full on ‘Beyonce Text’ – you know the type I mean, where you essentially make a bold entrance, make a point and make a classy exit, all within the space of a paragraph. Tom ignored this. Silly Tom. As much as she got her chance to say her piece at this point, she still didn’t feel like the bad blood was cleared so didn’t feel at peace about it all.

Let’s fast forward a couple of months, to last week. Alice gets a text from Tom asking to meet up and ‘talk about things’, wanting to clear the air, Alice agreed. Sitting in her car, Tom admitted to Alice that he had treated her badly, said he ‘didn’t know what he had until he’d lost it’ and that he wholeheartedly ‘regrets the way things ended’ – as he should, might I add. But here’s where I begin to burst with pride… Tom kept trying to kiss Alice, and she kept TURNING HIM AWAY. Honestly, I never thought I’d see the day. She said to him ‘you had me and you could have had me again but you chose to walk away’ WOWWWWW, YOU SLAY. Then, he invited her back to his and promised to ‘sleep on the floor’ but Alice, refused and said ‘if you want to speak to me that much, you’ll meet me again in the day time’ which, in credit to the lad, he did.

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It would be a lie to say that I was fond of Tom, I’ve slated him to no end after seeing the anguish he put my friend through, but I have a lot of respect for the fact that he could hold his hands up and admit that he’d done wrong. Above all, I’m writing this: A) to celebrate Alice’s strength and sass and B) to show that if any of you are heartbroken right now, you won’t feel like this forever – Alice is the perfect example of that.

Alice’s top tips for getting through a break-up:

♥ Buy yourself new underwear – ‘there’s something satisfying about having new underwear that your ex has never seen’.

♥ ‘Put on some lipstick and pull yourself together’ – Elizabeth Taylor. If you look good, you’ll feel good.

♥  Cry when you need to.

♥ Belt out some tunes – All Cried Out – Blonde ft. Alex Newell is a GREAT one.

♥ Set a motivational quote as your phone background like ‘Some women are lost in the fire, some women are built from it’ – Michelle K.

♥  Nothing beats a hug and a cup of tea.

So let’s hear it for this massive triumph over heartbreak – cheers to you, Alice. God only knows how much I love you, doll.

Stacks of love,

Soph x

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The Moment is Now

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I’ve been a person very guilty of living in the future, whether that’s due to anxiety or excitement. I don’t know what triggered it but at some point along the way I’ve become way less like this and I’m able to be ‘present in the now’ – Jesus, that sounds way too zen for my liking. Anyone who knows me personally will know ‘chilled’ or ‘calm’ wouldn’t be a word to describe me, which is why it made me cackle when a guy turned round and said to me ‘you just seem like such a chilled person’. GOD KNOWS how I gave this impression.

Anyway, back to my story. I’ve always been a person that wants to know what’s going to happen and exactly when it’s going to happen. So much so that there have been occasions where I missed out on what was actually going on at the time. Somehow, this changed and my god, what a difference it has made. As I’ve been growing up, there have been times where I have explicitly thought to myself ‘I never want to forget this moment’. One that I remember so vividly is when my family and our family friends went to the Dominican Republic together; the hotel had just held a beach party and WE ALL ran into the sea, we couldn’t stop laughing, our parents were swigging champagne out of the bottle and there were lightening bolts far into the distance that lit up the sky. I don’t know what it was, but that shit was a magical moment and I vowed to never forget it. Here I am, almost six years later, still smiling at the memory of it.

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The thing is we’re never going to get this very moment again. ‘Life is short’, as we’re always told, and too often we get so swept up in the speed of uni, work, or whatever we’re stressed about, that we don’t appreciate what’s going on RIGHT NOW. Hahaha, don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here telling you that when I’m sat on the sofa in my unicorn pyjamas binge watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine that I’m appreciating the beauty of the moment, cause let’s be honest, there’s no chance I’m gonna remember that in my fifties. What I am saying is, if it’s an important moment, don’t get swept away in the future and don’t get left in the past – just be there, wherever you are in place and time. Soak it allllll up and take that moment in. 

You know what, the same can be said for if you’re going through a hellish time. I remember a time when something happened that completely dragged the carpet from under my family’s feet. I sat there and thought to myself ‘this moment is going to pass, I’m never going to have this exact time again, I just need to get through right now’ and thinking that actually really helped me. When I think back to times where I’ve thought that, or thought something similar, while the shittiness didn’t immediately stop, it’s true that I never had to experience that precise moment again and I’ve always found reassurance in that.

As I’ve been writing this, JLS ‘One Shot’ – a horror of a song – came into my head, specifically the lines ‘you only get one shot, so make it count, you might never get this moment again’ – I CALL BULLSHIT. You’re not getting the moment again, you might get similar (so don’t panic if you didn’t do something you wanted to right there and then), but never the exact same. I’d offer to stick the song in the post, but I wouldn’t want to make your ears bleed, if you look it up yourself, on your own head be it! (God, I’m listening to it as I’m writing this and I’m ashamed to admit I low-key like it).

Do it. Appreciate the moment when you’re sat laughing hysterically with your best friend and know that if life is feeling pretty rubbish, you’re never going to have that exact same moment again.

Stacks of love,

Soph x

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Unashamedly Me

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It’s a bloody old saying, ‘just be yourself’, isn’t it? I feel like someone should jazz the phrase up a bit now, just to keep things interesting, but despite it going back years and years, people still don’t listen to it. 

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand it – there have been times where I’ve felt hesitant to tell someone something about myself, not knowing how they’ll react or whether it will change their opinion of me. I can’t imagine a worse feeling than having to hide who you truly are and it breaks my heart that so many people have to do it, and continue to do it, every day. blog-quote

For me, now, it’s a different story. For anyone who’s reading this who may not know, I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Recently, my friends and I were talking about people getting territorial about where they sit in a lecture and I said ‘yeah, but if I have to sit somewhere else, it throws me off – it’s one of my autistic things’ to which SOME CHEEKY PERSON REPLIED ‘you can’t use your autism as an excuse for everything’. Wow, rude. Another time, I was talking about taking something super literally and said ‘it was rather autistic of me’ to which someone CHIPPED IN ‘you can’t just refer to autism as flippantly as that’  – not actually realising I have a diagnosis.

With Asperger’s comes GREAT HONESTY – I just can’t lie, and neither do I feel the need to. I will openly tell people about my diagnosis – and why shouldn’t I? It’s part of who I am.  I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t ‘spread it around’ as if it’s some sort of dark secret, but that’s down to their ignorance. It’s as much a part of me as having blue eyes and hating avocado (sorry, Ols), and I make no attempts to hide either of those things.

Talking about this post to people I know turned out to be very interesting. I spoke to them about if it’s been easier to be honest about things they would normally keep secret, or things that society has made them feel like they should keep secret. I won’t lie and say it was all positive, but it definitely wasn’t all negative either. One of my friend’s came out as gay (he is one of the biggest legends I know) and as much as he didn’t have the best time with his family, he told me that it was liberating to just be himself and not worry if he was giving things away. Another friend, who suffers with depression (one of the sassiest people I know), said as much as there are some idiots who don’t make any attempts to understand, when she’s having a bad day she can just be honest and the people who do understand will just say ‘okay, cool, what can I do?’

So, just own it. You’re the only you there is in this world – it would be a shame to deprive the rest of us of your bloody loveliness. In the fantastic words of Richard Ashcroft, ‘I feel no disgrace with who I am’. What on earth is ‘normal’ anyway?

Stacks of love,

Soph x

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*This image is not my own, traced back to mash-elle.com. Any copyright infringement is unintended.