I remember the first time I dyed my hair. I was 16, it was the day I had finished my GCSEs, the first day of summer and boy, did I create a monster.
My best friend at the time and I thought now would be the perfect time to embrace the infamous dip dye trend. I went for pink. She went for purple. It was infamous for a reason.
We both had naturally very dark hair, my friend’s verging on jet black. Now obviously adding any colour to dark hair isn’t going to work without bleaching it first. Our solution? Cheap, shitty, drug store bleach. Of course. That’s exactly how you should treat your hair…
It stank. It stung our eyes and it seriously destroyed those 2-4 inches of our hair.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think I wasn’t the coolest 16 year old at the time. Of course I did. But by the time August came around the cheap pink dye had turned a delightful (read: horrific) shade of peachy, orange with unwanted, unintended hints of green.
Off to the hairdressers. Time for chop.
After a summer of bedraggled curls with a texture I can only compare to straw and colour that looked like a Halloween costume gone wrong, did I learn anything about looking after my hair? Nope. Big. Fat. Nope.
Six months later I was back at the hairdressers. This time I had graduated from dip dye and was buying into the ombre trend all while desperately trying to convince anyone who would listen that this was a great idea. It was not.
This continued up until I was about 19 or 20. So really only within the last year or so. I went for ombre then balayage then highlights - all of which are pretty much variations of each other. Every single time I went back, I asked for more. I was stuck in a cycle of constantly getting bored of my hair. At this point it was clear I wouldn’t be happy until I was totally blonde.
It was February 2016 when I finally took the plunge. I walked in just about still brunette and walked out a full on blonde. My poor hairdresser dedicated the majority of her day to transforming my mass amount of hair (that was quickly thinning) into Barbie’s twin.
The drive home was an interesting one as I kept catching my reflection in the mirror and not recognising myself. The weeks that followed were equally as interesting as I bumped into people and dealt with mixed reactions.
My mum hated it.
Some of my friends liked it.
Others, not so much.
Backhanded compliments became the norm from those who didn’t know what to say about my new look.
I was just so excited by such a big change that i wasn’t able to register whether or not I actually liked this new hair.
I had to adjust my makeup and wardrobe. Looks that once really complimented my dark features suddenly washed out the new blonde me. Every time I looked in the mirror, it felt like something was missing. I tried for weeks to get used to the new look, telling myself that any day now it wouldn’t feel like such a ‘new look’, it would just feel like me. Finally, I admitted defeat.
Four months later I was back in the hot seat. Four months. That’s all I lasted. I was ready to go back to my roots (pun intended) and was practically begging to be accepted back into my beloved brunette club.
Confession: I changed hairdressers for my big brunette comeback. (Shout out to Bill Harris Hairdressing.) I just didn’t have the heart to go back to the same place where they had slaved over making my blonde dreams a reality.
Once the appointment was made, the day honestly couldn’t come any quicker. The second it was over with I couldn’t have been more relieved to see my old, slightly glossier, brunette self staring back at me.
I knew I was in for a long road of hair recovery with regular appointments to touch up the colour and a lot of bad hair days while my poor curls recovered but it was worth every moment but it's been worth every second.
Now 18 months later my hair finally feels healthy again. I’ve found that the products that work best for me and I’ve honestly never appreciated my natural curls and colour more.
Lesson learned. Never will I ever go blonde again. And PLEASE quote me on that.
Niamh ♥Read more link text
I'm not sure where to start with this one. I'm not even entirely sure what it is I want to say but I felt compelled to write. Good idea or bad idea, I'm going to allow my thoughts to roam free, write what first comes to mind on the topic and go from there.
You see, I've been feeling very nostalgic over the last few weeks. Particularly since September hit. Something about the end of this summer forced me to look around myself and acknowledge (if not accept) that things have changed and that everyone around me suddenly seems grown up. I mean, obviously I'm aware that ageing is a natural process but I'm talking about grown up in the sense of the life changes that those around me are experiencing and new chapters everyone seems to be embarking on. Engagements, graduations, new jobs, starting university. When did everyone start being so adult?
Coincidentally, I was reading Sophie Milner's post about growing up earlier today. The difference was that she was looking at things from the opposite end. While I'm 21, she's just celebrated her 26th birthday and with that came celebration of growing up, shaking off the negative connotations of growing up and acknowledging how far she and her friends have come. I, on the other hand am still adjusting to how quickly it seems to be happening and trying desperately to cling on to those that are busy doing the growing up.
But see, that's where my feelings on the whole thing start to get a bit confused. I couldn't be happier for my friends and family and sometimes I feel as though I could burst with pride at what they've achieved but also could they maybe slow down a little? It's all getting a bit much for the girl who is usually so desperately impatient.
Let's take my friends as Exhibit A. SOOOOOOO many people I know got engaged this summer. Yep, ENGAGED. Some older than others but either way, where has the time gone that that they've reached that stage in life? It's so exciting and I'm over the moon for them but (to sound a lot like my granny) it feels like only yesterday that we were sat in a classroom together, giggling away and being told to keep quiet or (sounding a lot less like my granny) sneaking into clubs underage, fretting over fake ID and thinking we were the shit when we actually got past the bouncers.
Those that weren't busy getting engaged were busy graduating, taking on their masters degrees, moving in with boyfriends or starting their first jobs - all of which once seemed so far off in a grown up future but like some twisted dream, have suddenly become a reality. It's like we all blinked and missed a few years.
As the end of summer was suddenly upon us, my group of school friends and I all suddenly realised just how little we had seen each other because of our now busy schedules. As a group we're notorious for our inability to make plans that suit everyone but judging by this summer, that's something that's only going to get more complicated as the years go on. We've all built our own little lives now. Lives that involve living in different countries, working different hours and committing to career defining exams.
Next up, the family. They too are guilty of all of this growing up business. On the one hand there's my younger brother - 'little' brother would be the wrong term considering he towers over me these days. He's taken on a fairly big life change, just started uni and is living on the outskirts of London - a move I haven't been ballsy enough to make yet. I don't think I had fully grasped just how grown up he's become until he came home last weekend. After meeting up for a family brunch it was definitely weird that we didn't all go back home together. Instead he headed off to the airport to fly back to his new life.
Then there's my little sister (not quite towering over me but getting there) who will 16 next week. 16. I'm waiting for someone to turn up with cameras and tell me I'm being pranked. She'll probably always be 12 in my head, even at that I'm being generous. She's reached the age where she's discovered that my clothes and shoes fit her - an interesting experience in itself as I regularly find things missing. She's also reached the age where - and not to embarrass her too much - we engage in a lot more girl talk that previously she was too young to understand. I love that she's able to come to me about these things and it's interested watching as she discovers her own style and establishes her own beliefs and values but it's also terrifying. This time next year she will be learning to drive my car - a fact that will continue to shock me no matter how many times I say it out loud. I remember the day she was born for flip sake, how did she grow up so fast????????
As I said at the beginning of the post, I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this all. It's all very weird. I don't feel sad but I don't exactly feel happy either. I feel proud of my friends and family and I'd go as far as to say excited at times. But mostly I'm just in awe of how time truly does fly. I'm only 21 so by no means old but as I sit back and watch all of the changes going on around me, I finally understand why people keep telling me to slow down, I'm only 21.
This is only just the beginning, kids. We're growing up whether we like it or not. Let's make the most of it.
Photos by Kellie Scott
Niamh ♥Read more link text
This weekend, for the first time in a long time I did absolutely nothing other than things I truly wanted to spend my time doing and it was wonderful. WONDERFUL. The end. End of story.
Seriously though, from start to finish it was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had this summer (if you’re here to tell me that summer is over, don’t bother, you’ve come to the wrong place). Even getting up early (ish) on a Saturday morning to get a lift home was enjoyable. I’m not joking when I say I think my heart skipped a beat when my boyfriend told me we would have to leave before 9am. I wasn’t bothered that he had places to be, people to see, I was too busy daydreaming about all that extra time to do absolutely nothing.
Even though I’ve recently come back from one of the most relaxed holidays ever, I don't feel like I’ve truly relaxed without putting any kind of pressure on myself in a long time. Even on holiday I still felt under pressure to be doing certain things - pressure I only had myself to blame for and that was completely unnecessary and verging on ungrateful but pressure nonetheless.
Pressure to make the most of the beach on my doorstep despite the fact that I’m not a beach girl and the novelty wears off within about 45 mins of being there.
Pressure to go for a walk every morning to make up for the double cheeseburger I had eaten the night before for the third night running.
Pressure to finish my book only so I could start the next one that I was just as desperate to finish to move on to the next one. Who knew reading could be such a vicious, pressurised activity?
Basically, a whole lot of iconic, first world problems that were bringing completely useless and entirely pointless pressure into my life.
A few days into the holiday my mum and I got chatting about something she had read in the Huffington Post earlier that morning. It seems she was feeling under a little bit of unexplained pressure too. Pressure that only the Huffington post could relieve us of in the most intellectual way. The article was something to do with how for the first few days of a holiday or of time off us needy humans feel a little unsure of ourselves all of a sudden thanks to the sudden decrease in responsibilities, primarily not being at work. It’s a feeling I’ve experienced before but never been able to justify with an explanation. The closest I can get to explaining it is anxiety that’s met with guilt for feeling anxious while on holiday that’s then combined with what I thought was a strange twinge of homesickness. Turns out it was feeling like a sudden lack of purpose that had my mum, me and the Huffington Post readers and writers in a bit of a tizzy.
At the time I had just moved home from Dublin following 6 months of interning for a magazine. I was still trying to settle back into life at home and establish some sort of routine for myself. Work wise I was doing some freelance copywriting but had nothing more stable than freelance life to keep me going. Overall things were feeling very unsettled.
It feels as though the entire summer and to be honest, most of the last 18 months have been very all over the place which reassuringly, seems to be a relatively common feeling among people my age. A lot of it has been amazing and I’ve had some incredible opportunities but there’s also been a lot of moving about, hopping from internship to internship and feeling overwhelmed in between. By the end of my most recent internship I was feeling burnt out and craving a bit of stability. I wasn’t even enjoying blogging anymore. I hated doing blog shoots but knew I needed to up my game to stay relevant in the evolving NI blogging scene. The weirdest part of it all was that the girl who was once desperate to get away from Northern Ireland was suddenly ready to chill out for a while, slow down and enjoy the familiarity of home for a while.
After getting over the initial ‘out of sorts’ feeling and pressure inflicted by having a lack of purpose, the real relaxing began and boy, did I relax hard. You know it’s a hard life when you suddenly can’t imagine life without your morning walks along the boardwalk, iced coffee in hand and your book to keep you company during your little pit stop at the pier. Blog ideas were suddenly flowing, new projects I wanted to try and get stuck into were taking over my every thought and thankfully, anxieties over the unsettled state of my life subsided into excitement - as it should be at 21 years old.
Upon return from my holiday, the company that I had been freelancing for offered me a job as a full time employee. My first permanent, full time job. I was buzzing, a little surprised by the sudden change of direction that my involvement with the company had taken but overall incredibly excited about new projects they had on the horizon and that I would get to be part of.
I’ve been working for them for a few weeks now and while it’s been busy and there’s been the usual adjustment phase of a new job, something clicked last week and I let go of some of the pressure I was putting on myself. I spent Saturday sat in my sweats, make up free all day. I watched reality tv without any sense of guilt. I let my phone run out of battery without stressing. I spent the afternoon reading a new book and absorbed the beautiful pages from the September issues of my favourite magazines. I ate Chinese for dinner without a single shred of regret. The best part of it all is that I feel all the more productive today because of it.
While my idea of the perfect weekend probably sounds tragically boring to most, I definitely lean towards the introverted scale of things so time to myself is important for my mental health (and for those around me). Honestly thoug, introvert or no introvert, I couldn’t recommend more taking the time blocking out your diary to do absolutely nothing. Dedicate your entire day to being completely selfish with how you spend your time. Your only plans for the day are spending time with yourself. It doesn’t have to be every weekend, it could be every month or every couple of months. Whatever works for you. Just promise me you’ll give it a go.
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Niamh ♥Read more link text
Photo via SheerLuxe
Sleeping in the heat while tucked up in bed in Northern Ireland isn’t something we usually have to be worried about but there I was, night number 2, 3, 4, (I’ve lost count I’m so tired) tossing and turning struggling to battle the heat in pursuit of falling sleep once again. The windows were open and the duvet was off. What’s a girl supposed to do? AC isn't an option given the rarity that is heat in Northern Ireland but it’s rare occurence, doesn't make it any easier to deal with when it comes to sleeping. Even when their is AC available while on holiday, who really enjoys sleeping with cold air on blast only to wake up with a blocked nose and foggy head anyway? And that’s without taking into account any alcohol consumption that went on the night before. So after a few hours of tossing and turning, I did what any technology addicted millennial would do and got scrolling on my phone to find the answers. This is what the internet had to offer. They're weird and wonderful while others are just downright obvious and I'm holding myself back from getting picky. There’s only so many sweaty sheep a girl can count in one night.
Get your hands (and feet) on some cold water
We’ll start with the most obvious and one of themes accessible tips. A quick rinse (soak, depending on just how warm and impatient you’re feeling) of your hands and feet in some cold water right before bed is said to do the trick. The closer before bedtime that you do it, the more effective. We’re talking a quick soak then legging it into bed allowing the motion of running to dry excess water off. If you’re a real pro you’ll keep a cold damp cloth by your bed, ready to be placed on your forehead all night long.
Freeze your pillow
Either I’ve been missing a serious trick the last few nights or the internet is winding me up. Rumour has it if you stick your pillowcase into the freezer before going to bed then allow it to thaw out while you sleep you’ll be cool as a cucumber all night long. I don’t know how to feel about this one but it sounds refreshing. They tried telling me to do it with all of my bed clothes but that's where I draw the line. The act of stripping my bed, finding space in my freezer then remaking the bed was a sweat inducing thought in itself.
Get out the hot water bottle
What I've gathered so far is that the key to surviving sleep in the heat is basically to throw every kind of sleeping accessory into the freezer and you’re on to a winner. While clinging to a hot water bottle tucked under your dressing gown may seem like a thing of the distant past at this point, the trick this time is to put your hot water bottle into the freezer so that it acts like an ice pack. Having heard hot water bottle horror stories over the years, I’m sceptical and have been taught to be wary of the bubbly little creatures. Couldn't we just use an ice pack and wrap it up in a tea towel or is that not glam enough?
Get creative and build your own AC
Good luck convincing your parents or landlord/lady that air conditioning is a necessary instalment in your home (unless you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere that doesn’t rain 75% the time). When they inevitably turn down your well thought out presentation as to why you need AC, get resourceful and build your own makeshift version. My internet scrolling informed me (more than once) that by placing a pan or bowl of ice in front of fan, you can create your own cooling mist. Fab-u-lous.
Shut it out
Like most normal people I tend to open all of my blinds and curtains as soon as I’m up and about in the morning. During the summer time when the weather is nice the doors and windows are flung open and I’m lapping up all of the sunshine that I possibly can. Pursuing normal behaviour seems to be where I’m going wrong in my approach to sleeping in the heat. The wise old internet recommends keeping blinds and curtains shut during the day in areas where the sun shining. Tell that to the rest of my family as we endure the stuffy heat of the house.
Despite my reluctant and definitely grumpy attitude that, funnily enough has been provoked by a lack of sleep, beggars can’t be choosers so guess who’s going for a cold dunk before bed time tonight?
Niamh ♥Read more link text
New York has consumed my thoughts for so much of the last 2 years. Being the cringeworthy cliche that I am, I’ve obsessed over Sex and The City like no girl has before. I’ve watched the entire series over and over and over, again. I will defend Carrie and her selfish behaviour until the end and while I appreciate every meme made around the series, any laughter is endured through nerves, accompanied by thoughts of how misunderstood the characters are. I digress - my true love for Carrie and her crew will be kept for another post (lucky you.)
I decided 2016 would be the year that I would follow my dreams of going to New York and becoming Carrie Bradshaw for just a few days - a dream many a fashion gal has had before me. I talked about it non-stop, I thought about it even more. I ate, slept, breathed New York and I still do.
As the year synonymous with many a shitty experience, 2016 came and went and New York didn’t happen.
Dun, Dun, Dun.
Given my financial situation at the time (uni drop out, unpaid intern, struggling freelancer), I know I shouldn’t have been surprised but this is the same girl who thought that one trip across the ocean would make all of my dreams come true, have me writing for Vogue and buying expensive shoes with my rent money.
Then came good ol’ 2017. Good ol’ 2017 with a certain 21st birthday. A 21st birthday being the perfect excuse for a big present like a trip to NYC. Jackpot.
Honestly, it felt surreal up until the first morning that I woke up in New York. For the months leading up to it, people would ask if I was excited and I was, obviously but I’d talked about it for so long that part of me couldn’t believe I would actually be there. The entire time I was there it felt like a complete bubble, separate to the rest of the world because with everything going on in New York, where else would you need to be? I secured my NYC bubble in those few days by avoiding any social media that wasn’t NYC related. Watching Irish snapchatters took a back seat. Reading UK blogs took a back seat and replying to messages from home took a back seat. The obsession grew and grew.
I don’t know whether it was the confidence or the anonymity the city offered but I felt the trip should be documented so I took the plunge and attempted my first ever vlog. Attempt is the key word here. Creating video content is something entirely new to me but between watching snapchat and Instagram stories and keeping up with my favourite YouTubers, it’s something I’ve thought about a lot in recent months. The editing isn’t the smoothest and the content itself may not be up to everyone’s standards but we all have to start somewhere and so I’m starting with New York. Let’s see where it takes me.
I'd love to hear your feedback and as a YouTube newbie, any advice is more than welcome.
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