Expectations vs reality – what it is really like to run your own blog.

laptop, flowers, magazines and phone on on white wooden table

Hello, dear readers! I am publishing this blog post one day later because Fresher’s week turned out to be incredibly exhausting. If you have experienced it, you would understand. It is a week of countless meetups, city tours, parties and on top of that, if you are an international student, you have to open bank account, get National Insurance Number and find a job as soon as possible. So now you know the struggle. Even without that, running a blog is not an easy task, especially if you are a student or have non blogging related job, so you have to find a balance between these things. Looking from the bright side – these struggles inspired me to write this blog post that a lot of other bloggers can relate to.

  1. Expectations: I am always inspired to write new blog posts and my head is buzzing from new ideas. Reality: I feel like I have nothing meaningful to share with the world today and I am scared that what I post today might be just a bunch of useless crap.
  2. Expectations: I will write every blog post few days before publishing it. Ideally – I will have several posts scheduled and ready to publish, so I do not have to worry about my blog every second of my life. Reality: I wanted to have proper social life just like all of my friends, so I forgot to put some time away for blogging. Today is the day I have to publish new post but I have nothing.
  3. Expectations: Social media marketing is fun and effortless. I love using Twitter and Instagram anyway! Reality: Why am I loosing followers? How often should I post? This picture only got 26 likes… What am I doing wrong?
  4. Expectations: Blogging is easier than regular job. All I have to do is write content. Reality: Blogging includes researching, planning posts & writing them, social media marketing, networking, commenting on other blogs, finding opportunities to make money, reading about how to improve your blogging & social marketing game and more.
  5. Expectations: I will write one great blog post and get 100 followers, 78 comments and 138 likes overnight. Reality: Few of your very first posts might get only few comments or none at all and growing following is hard work. Staying consistent, using social media the right way and constantly improving is the key.
  6. Expectations: If I will have 10 000 followers, I will be able to make decent money. Reality: Numbers do not matter, if only small part of your followers are engaging with your posts and buying your products. 
  7. Expectations: My posts will and have to be perfect from the very start, otherwise people will not like my blog. Reality: Everyone has to start somewhere. Your content quality will improve as you write and you can always go back and edit it.
  8. Expectations: I do not need to promote my old content anymore, people will just stumble upon it because I’m already being consistent and posting new stuff. Reality: You need to promote all of your content. Do not share only new posts, promote old ones here and there, too. 
  9. Expectations: I will succeed in blogging without defining my audience and blog topics. Reality: No one wants to read a blog that is “for everyone” and writes about “everything”. Get your shit together. For example, your audience is 20 to 30 years old females. They are interested in career related posts, self-improvement and relationship tips. Go!
  10. Expectations: I will take a few days long break from posting on social media and get well deserved rest. That will not impact my views at all. Reality: After three days of not posting on social media, daily blog views dropped from 50 to 5 . Damn it!

Those are ten main struggles that I have faced in my blogging journey. Could you relate to any of those? If so, drop a comment below. Also, if you would like to see more “expectations vs reality” type of posts on my blog, please let me know in the comments. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

The ultimate packing list for university freshers.

Brunette in white shirt, black shorts and black knee socks sitting on the counter and drinking tea from a white mug.

Hello, dear readers! Finally I have some time to sit down with a cup of tea and my laptop in my new dorm room and share useful bits of information with you. I usually publish one blog post every Wednesday but this Wednesday was the day I had to move into halls and figure out some of the most basic stuff. And until that I had bags to pack, boyfriend to break up with, parents to say goodbye to and last meetings with my friends in Latvia. Leaving Riga at first felt a little bittersweet because I really got used to the city with its variety of events and my workplace with its colleagues. However, soon after arriving at Bangor, I started to feel like I am in the right place. Even though I do not know where every store is located and I am not familiar with all university buildings, I do not feel homesick at all. Fresh start is just what I needed. New place, new school, new friends and new, improved version of myself. So because of the whole university theme, I decided to share my packing list for uni. If you are just packing right now or have already arrived but think that something might be missing, check it out.

Documents and paperwork:

  • passport or/and ID card
  • acceptance letter from uni
  • arrival pass for halls
  • flight ticket

Bathroom appliances:

  • shampoo
  • shower gel
  • liquid soap
  • deodorant
  • hair brush
  • 2 hand towels
  • 2 face towels
  • 2 bath towels
  • tissues
  • hair removal cream
  • epilator
  • wash bag

Kitchen:

  • potato masher
  • 2 big plates
  • 2 small plates
  • 2 cups
  • 2 glasses
  • 2 bowls
  • cutting board
  • pan
  • 2 kettles
  • universal knife
  • kitchen utensil kit
  • 2 sets of cutlery
  • tin opener
  • corkscrew / bottle opener
  • 2 kitchen towels
  • dish washing liquid
  • paper towels
  • few dish washing sponges
  • lidded food containers
  • oven gloves
  • reusable plastic water bottle
  • thermos

Healthcare:

  • painkillers
  • multivitamins
  • flu remedies
  • basic first aid kit

Bedroom:

  • mattress cover
  • set of bedding (pillow, blanket, pillow cover, sheets, blanket cover)
  • throw blanket
  • potted plants
  • laundry bag
  • clothes hangers
  • photos of friends & family
  • fairy lights

Study related things:

  • basic stationery
  • bullet journal (or planner)
  • pad of lined paper
  • few notebooks
  • dictionary (if needed)
  • post-it notes
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • paper clips
  • A4 folders
  • sleeves / folders
  • backpack

Electricals:

  • mobile phone & a charger
  • adaptor plug (if you’re going from UK to US or EU or other way around)
  • laptop & charger
  • USB memory drive
  • multi plug extension lead
  • headphones

Miscellaneous:

  • large suitcase
  • umbrella
  • earplugs
  • small sewing kit

I did not include clothing packing list because it is different for everyone, depending on what country are you going to. However, pretty much everything else is mentioned above. If I forgot to add something important, please mention it in the comment section. Also, before moving in, do some research on your university webpage to see what things are already provided in your dorms and what are not. Other than that, I am wishing you lovely start of the new school year and successful continuation of it. Moving to a new city and especially new country can be very stressful and overwhelming but remember to take it one step at a time and use your bullet journal or planner to make tasks more manageable. Now when I am in university, too, I plan to post more school related posts on my blog, so look forward to that.

P.S. I do apologize for delayed post this week but from next week my posting schedule will go back to usual. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

 

“Insatiable” – the review of controversial dark comedy series from Netflix.

Debby Ryan with a crown on her head and lighter in her hand

Hello, dear readers! Time is flying so fast for me that I can already feel the homesickness from a mile away. In a week I will wake up not only in a different city but also a different country that I have never even been to – UK. And no, it is not just a quick trip, I will actually spend next three years studying there in my dream university. However, while I am packing, making things work and settling down, I will not give you any spoilers yet. Be patient. Meanwhile – I thought it would be exciting to talk about something that everyone has been talking about for almost a month – Netflix new series “Insatiable”.

When I first saw the trailer of this show, I already pictured it as some cliché teenage form of entertainment and first two or three episodes did not impress me that much. However, as I kept watching “Insatiable”, it slowly but surely caught my attention and kept it until the end of the season. The main character of the show is Patty (aka Fatty Patty) – an overweight teenager, who only has one friend and is heavily bullied in school. Then, after somehow ending up in a fight with a homeless man and getting her jaw broken, she is forced to be on a liquid diet for 3 months of summer. When school year starts, Patty is back as new and hotter version of herself, hoping that people will suddenly like her more. When this plan does not work out fully, she decided to get revenge on people, who hurt her. This pretty much sums up all the series without giving too much spoilers for those of you, who have not seen “Insatiable” yet.

Now it is time to do something I have not done in my movie / TV series reviews before – list pros and cons. Let’s start with the bad stuff and spill some tea. First thing I cringed at – how quick Fatty Patty turned into stunning Patty. I know that Debby Ryan wore a fat suit for these TV series instead of gaining weight but let’s pretend that we do not know that and look at the plot twist realistically. No one in real life looses that much weight in 3 months and looks flawless without any extra skin etc afterwards. Second thing – there were only two characters I could not stand in “Insatiable” and those were Regina Sinclair and Dixie Sinclair (played by Arden Myrin and Irene Choi). I hate to be introduced to new actors and actresses as villains because that makes me want to never see them again in any other movies. Besides – characters of Regina and Dixie were so unnatural, cliché and bitchy that I wish they would not be included in those TV series at all. Third thing that I noticed – okay, Patty’s crush on her mentor Bob was weird to begin with but then when it did not develop into anything else and Patty found another subject of interest, it seemed completely meaningless to mention it in the series at all. Forth thing – now, when I look back at it, I can not stand, how badly Brick Armstrong (aka son of well-known Bob) treated Patty when she was fat but then suddenly became nicer when she got skinny. And during all that time Patty still had a crush on him. It thought that crushes solely based on looks happen only at the age of twelve and later people become smarter. Turns out, it is not the case in these series. Fifth thing – there are way  too many vulgar jokes. Let’s take an example from very first episode where an even, called “Anal cancer awareness gala” happens. First of all – why exactly that type of cancer? Not breast, throat, brain or any other type of cancer, they had to choose anal cancer just so my hated character Regina could make fart noises later on in the episode while making fun of Bob’s speech. Then later on in these series you hear some cringy jokes about child molestation, LGBT issues and more.

Now, enough of the bad stuff, let’s try to figure out, why I actually watched the whole season of “Insatiable”. Debby Ryan seemed like a perfect fit for Patty’s role and I actually liked a lot of Patty’s rebellious moment, her character traits were actually pretty interesting. Second thing that I actually enjoyed were sweet moments between Patty and Bob later on in the series when he kind of appeared more like a father figure to her than just a way older man she had a crush on. Also, in one of the first episodes where Patty had to bond with Bob’s wife Coralee for them to participate in a daughter – mother contest, I enjoyed those sweet mother – daughter moments a lot, even though they did not appear in later episodes anymore.

To sum it up, I can say that watching “Insatiable” was definitely a wild ride with its ups and downs. The plot was not flowing as smoothly as I would like it to but, I guess it is understandable because writers and directors (according to wikipedia) were switched quite a lot from episode to episode. However, I was not bored for a second; even when events in “Insatiable” did not make a lot of sense, I felt quite entertained.

Overall rating: 5,5

Was it worth the watch? Well, that is something you have to figure out yourself. It is not on my favorite TV series list but it definitely does not deserve as many bad reviews as it got and, honestly, I am curious what will happen in next season, if there will be one. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

5 brilliant cleaning hacks for lazy students.

coffee cup, pen, phone and paper on a wooden desk

Hello, dear readers! Even though I have had several blog post ideas in my mind for days, I never sat down to turn them into a post until it was late Tuesday evening. I would love to say that I am a productive person, who knows her priorities very well and can do everything in time, it is just not true. However, my laziness actually inspired me to write this blog post because I know that I am not the only person, who sometimes forgets to make sure her living space is organized and neat. Without any further introduction, here are 5 brilliant cleaning hacks that will make cleaning seem easier and less scary, if you are a lazy student (or just a lazy person in general).

  1. Start with loading your washing machine with clothes because this task takes the longest. You might as well do other cleaning related tasks while your clothes are getting washed and then unload your washing machine and put them to dry.
  2. If the mess in your room is too overwhelming, grab a garbage bag and start by putting empty bottles, old receipts and other trash in it. That way you will be able to put everything in its’ place way faster because useless stuff will be out of the way already.
  3. If some of your tableware has dry food remains on it that do not come off easily, let is sit in the water for a while and do something else meanwhile. When you come back, you will be able to wash your dishes way faster than if you would try to scrub everything off without properly soaking it.
  4. Remove tea and coffee stains on your cups with vinegar. No more scrubbing!
  5. If you use blender to make yourself smoothies, rinse it immediately. That way you will not have to scrub it later and you can get away with not using dish soap.
  6. Clean burnt pan with the mixture of water, vinegar and baking soda. This is a life saver, if you tend to mess up stuff while cooking, just like me.
  7. Clean blood stains with hydrogen peroxide. This works best, if applied immediately and can save your clothing, if you can not wash it immediately.
  8. Divide the space you are trying to clean into several areas. Cleaning takes way more time, if you are all over the place, running from one corner to another, starting several things but never finishing any of them. Better approach would be to divide your space into sections. For example, your bedroom has sections like table, bed, wardrobe, bedside table and floor. You can start by making your bed, cleaning bedside table, then bigger table, wardrobe and finally the floor because now everything is in its place and you do not have to stop after every ten seconds to pick up something that is laying on the floor.

Those are all of the cleaning hacks I could come up with today. Hopefully you will find these useful. By the way – some news that I have not revealed to you before – I am starting my studies in Bangor university this year. How crazy is that? I never thought I would get accepted but here I am. Right now the end of August and the beginning of September will be spent packing and I can not wait to update you on how everything is going. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

“Heathers” – brilliant 80’s black comedy for teens and young adults.

Heathers movie poster with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater

Hello, dear readers! I guess, it has been a while since I posted a movie review, so I decided to keep my blog fresh and post another one. Even though I have been quite busy with work and my love life lately, I still had some spare time to check out new movies… Well, not literally new because today I decided to review famous 80’s movie “Heathers”. I have seen this movie in countless lists of must watch teen movies but procrastinated actually checking it out because I prefer movies that were made in this century. However, one summer day I finally gave it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised.

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The main character of the movie is Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), who is one of the most popular girls in high school because of her friendship with three rich girls with the same name – Heather. And of course – those girls love to treat less popular kids like shit. If you are a 2000’s kid – think Regina George from Mean Girls. Veronica endures it for a while until one day she realizes that she has had enough and it is time to take down the queen bee of this clique – Heather Chandler (Kim Walker). When Veronica meets mysterious Jason Dean (also refered to as J.D., starring Christian Slater) , they see a perfect chance to teach a lesson to Heather, however, what starts as a harmless act of revenge, ends up as a murder. Veronice feels guilty about committed act but J.D. convinces that they can easily get away with it by making it look like a suicide. The death of Heather Chandler is the first but definitely not the last death in this movie. I will stop explaining the plot now because I do not want to give too many spoilers. I will just say that J.D. and Veronica are quite fascinating but troubled couple. Luckily, at the end of the movie Veronica realizes that J.D. is out of his mind, refuses to participate in any further crimes and tries to stop him.

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Even though most of the actors of “Heathers” are not popular nowadays, Shannen Doherty and Winona Ryder are pretty much still around. Who does not know Prue Halliwell from “Charmed” and Elizabeth MacIntyre from “Black swan”? Side note – Winona Ryder in this movie looks just stunning but that is not the only reason why her character Veronica is my favorite. I just could not imagine a better portrayal of this seemingly naive girl, who finally came to her senses and decided to stand up for herself.

Overall, even though I expected just some overrated teen movie, I was pleasantly surprised and must say it is worth the hype. To those, who want to compare “Heathers” with “Mean Girls” – do not. The first one is a black comedy and the second one – just a girly comedy. However, if you really want to look at the side by side, in my opinion, “Mean Girls” can not keep up with “Heathers” which has the most brilliant plot twist at the end of the movie. Just watch it and you will see.

Overall rating: 10/10

Usually I do not get so excited about movies but this was so brilliant that I had to share my thoughts and offer you awesome movie suggestion. Have you seen “Heathers” already? Feel free to share your opinion on it in the comment section. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.


Used sources for images:

 

Life after antidepressants: the truth.

Book, coffee cup and white square plate with a pink doughnut

Hello, dear readers! If you have been following my blog for quite a while, you might remember my previous posts about panic attacks and depression. If not – here is a quick recap. I have been on and off antidepressants for several times since I was twelve. For quite a while I was on Zoloft which should have made me more calm and not so emotional but made me feel suicidal instead, even though I never really considered taking my own life before. Later my therapist changed my medicine and prescribed me Venlaxor which had to increase my productivity, energy level etc. I ended up feeling like a sleepy, emotionless robot instead, who could not focus on anything. In June 2017 I realized that I am done with medication, it made things worse instead of making them better, so I decided to quit. Not right away because you can not just stop taking your medication without experiencing terrible withdrawal, so I gradually decreased the amount until I finally stopped taking it. Am I proud of my decision? Yes, I have not swallowed another pill ever since. Is my life struggle free now? No. And that is what I wanted to talk about today.

Living with depression and not relying on medication is still tough. Some days seem good enough: I am spending time with my friends, laughing and enjoying the moment. On other days I feel empty, unproductive and just want to sleep, hoping that one day I will wake up but it is not how things work. Even for those, who do not suffer from depression, some days are better and some days are worse. Now, imagine, how it feels for a depressed person. Good days might be just as good but bad days are worse. Sometimes those bad days follow one after another. I can barely get out of the bed, even making myself a cup of tea seems like too much work. I would rather stay in bed and keep sleeping because that is the only activity that does not require energy and any emotion. On my bad days I feel helpless. Going grocery shopping and cooking is too much work, I would rather starve for a little longer. Going out to see my friends takes too much energy and effort. And… are they even my friends? I hate that in adult life it is normal to talk to people you call your friends just once a week or less. In my eyes that makes them turn into acquaintances. Friends are those, who are with you through good and bad times, not those, who you resist to call because you feel like such a meaningless person in their lives.

Since January of this year something terrible has been happening to me. Or I should probably say that something happened and I have been living with consequences ever since. Someone that I just started seeing and getting to know, really let me down. He lied to me about something very serious and then had the nerve to tell me he has nothing to do with it and it is all my fault. We have not talked since and I was left alone to deal with the situation. I am still dealing with it. Still feeling anxious and getting panic attacks because of it. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and it sucks to feel alone in this situation. I have talked to my family and few of my so-called friends but it still hurts. It feels like physical healing is way faster than the emotional one because I am still crying about it until this day. Maybe in the future I will talk about this even in depth but right now I am just not ready for this.

So I keep living: breathing, writing and trying to function like a normal human being. Sometimes I fail and sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I spend most of the day in bed with my laptop or simply sleeping. Sometimes I get out of bed, go to work, meet my friends and actually manage to be quite productive. I have not given up. As long as I am breathing, I am still trying. Sometimes I fail to take care of myself and get drunk or sleep all day but that is okay. Living without being on medication is not easier but it is worth it overall. Even if I do not write or play the guitar every day, I am still more inspired to do it than, for example, two years ago. Even if I do not feel happy every day, at least I have emotions instead of the dull, empty feeling that was caused by antidepressants. Even if all I can manage to do in a day is do my laundry, cook some pasta, shower and clean the bedside table, it is better than sleeping all day and not caring about my surroundings.

This is my recovery – it is messy, unpredictable, with its’ ups and downs but it is happening. If you are in a similar position right now, you are not alone. Stop being too hard on yourself. Stop expecting fast recovery but know that it gets better.

Love, Porcelain Doll.

 

10 red flags you should not ignore in your new workplace.

man in a suit, sitting at the table and having a phone conversation

Dear readers! My life has been kind of hectic for the past two or three weeks and the main concern of mine has been work. Before I was so worried about being unemployed that I did not realize that being employed but working in an emotionally abusive environment is worse that being unemployed. Today is the day I realize I can not tolerate it anymore and the things that have been happening to me are not normal. Why am I sharing this? Because I do not want you to go through the same unpleasant experience I went through. Learn from my mistakes. Let’s begin!

  1. You get promised unrealistic salary, comparing to average salary in the industry. In this case I am talking about waitressing. In Latvia average salary of a waitress is 590 euros, according to website algas.lv . When I saw the advertisement and went to interview, I was a little surprised that I got promised 1000 to 1500 euros monthly, if I do my job well, however, at that time some people told me that such salary might be realistic in a capital city, especially, if I work in an area which tourists visit quite often. Turns out I was wrong – most waitresses do not earn that much, especially, if they are working only 15 days a month or less. Life lesson – check average salary in the industry in your city or at least country, if possible.
  2. You start the job with no previous experience, get promised training but never receive it. It is still a mystery, why I have not received the training they promised me about two weeks ago but it is what it is. Just another shady thing in the mix.
  3. Your boss talks shit behind your and your coworkers’ back. Major red flag that I foolishly ignored at first. I thought that maybe someone is a really bad employee and deserves all the bad words that were said about them but… no. If your boss is badmouthing a certain person behind their back, she / he is probably doing the same to you.
  4. You get promised a certain work schedule that is never made or made without you having a say in it. Even though waitressing is the type of job that ignores your brother’s birthday, national celebration or something similar, schedule has to be made. If it says in the contract that next month’s schedule is made in the previous month with signed agreement of all employees and it is not, that is just another red flag. You deserve a boss, who respects your time. When you work, you are all in. When you visit your family or rest, you deserve to enjoy it instead of stressing out about being randomly called in to work.
  5. You have toxic colleagues. Waitressing is one of those jobs where teamwork is incredibly important. However, in a way it just like playing basketball – if someone in your own team sabotages or ignores you, successful teamwork is impossible. Besides – if your colleague is telling bad things about your to your boss, you are in trouble even more.
  6. Your boss is constantly criticizing you. This time I am not talking about constructive criticism which actually improves the quality of the work. I am talking about the type of critique that lowers your self-esteem, increases the level of stress and decreases your ability to work. In my case I was too stressed that I started to suffer from panic attacks again which made me incapable of doing my job as well as I could. (To know more about how it feels to live with a panic disorder, read this post.)
  7. There is no equality in workplace and rules constantly change. One day I was supposed to use the tray, another I was told not to use it. One day I was supposed to answer to phone calls, on another it was forbidden to do so. My colleague can do whatever she wants, break as many glasses as she wishes, be clumsy, slow and fuck up stuff, and get away with it but as soon as I make a mistake, I am repeatedly told, how much I suck at this job.
  8. Your boss and/or your colleagues do not want to help you, if you do not understand or can not find something. For fuck’s sake… Do you want me to succeed at this job or make a fool out of myself? Without any previous experience I am doing the last one because you deny your help whenever I need it. So what, if it is my fifth day at work and I can not find toothpicks? Be a decent person and help me, instead of looking down on me.
  9. Employees change often. If it is not even your second week yet and you have seen more than one person leaving and new, naive people coming in place, it is a bad sign. Even worse, if the place you work for a looking for employees for months but can not  find dedicated ones.
  10. Your boss is never open for new ideas. “We have always done it this way and that is it. Changing something is not necessary and will not work.” It does not matter that at some point you are excited to make improvements in your job, you are too young and dumb to offer valuable ideas.

I could probably dig up some more red flags that are quite common not only in my workplace but also in many others but I will not. Let’s stop here. The next thing that I have to do today is take a nap and then go to the city centre to quit the damn job. I have pride, I know my worth and I will not let anyone make me feel like I am less than. And neither should you. If you have noticed more than one of these red flags in your own workplace, I would suggest you to reconsider working there. If you are putting all your time, energy and effort into work and it still is quite bad, quit it. Your mental and physical health is something valuable and no amount of money can buy it back once it is damaged. Take care!

Love, Porcelain Doll.