Why I Decided to Delete My Personal Social Media For Good

There is a French proverb that says: “Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés”, which would translate as follows: “To live happily, live discreetly”. I think it’s fair to say social media does the exact opposite of that.

Earlier this year, I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts. The only reason I didn’t delete my Instagram was to keep the history of all the amazing pictures & stories I shared while I was travelling, but I’m not posting anything on it anymore. Some things happened in my private life that made me realise I don’t need social media. I did what everyone should do when something is becoming toxic to them: I detached myself from it. Below are 3 good reasons why I think everyone should be careful with social media:

You can easily inspire jealousy

Sharing happy moments publicly is not always a good idea, especially if it’s something not everyone can do/have and therefore would envy. They can always pretend and like your posts but the truth is they don’t really want to know. It’s hard to distinguish who really has your best interest at heart and sometimes you can find out in a pretty harsh way with social media. Some people would secretly celebrate your failures, more than they would publicly celebrate your successes. Keep that in mind.

You don’t need “social validation”

You don’t need anyone to validate your opinions, your decisions, or anything that is supposed to be completely down to you (and you only). There is a balance between what you should keep private and what you can share online, and it’s important to get this balance right. I also realised that people tend to “like” the person behind the post rather than the post itself. If you want people to judge the quality of your content rather than your own popularity, then you’re much better off with an audience full of complete strangers.

You don’t need social media to stay in touch with real friends

If you feel like you would lose contact with some friends by staying away from social media, then maybe you were never really friends in the first place. Maybe it will actually make you want to talk to them directly via other communication channels and you’ll quickly find out if you could be bothered to stay in touch or not. Same applies to them. Ask yourself who you really want to share your life events with!

On the flip side, I think social media is very useful for businesses (especially for a marketer like me) and it wouldn’t be wise to avoid it or underestimate its power. I feel happier without it in my personal life. As a piece of advice to anyone who’s willing to hear it, keep your private life private and your cards close to your chest. You’ll live more happily (at least that’s what the French say). How do you use social media yourself?

Big Girl x

What Is It Like to Be an Introvert During Lockdown

Several countries in the world have been going through multiple lockdowns this year due to the pandemic, taking away people’s freedom by limiting social gatherings (among other things). When I discuss the situation with people around me, it becomes quite clear not everyone copes the same way. How come? I think we find isolation more or less difficult depending on if we are an introvert or an extrovert by nature, this key aspect of our personality is now standing out more than it ever did.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

What’s the difference between the two and how do you know if you are an introvert or an extrovert? Well, it’s quite simple. Introverts don’t mind spending time alone, they need to retreat to their cave to recharge their batteries. Extroverts are quite the opposite: they love being surrounded by people, that’s what really fills them up. It’s a pretty basic explanation but if you want to dig deeper, the most famous personality test uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. There are 16 personality types and you can find out which one you are by answering several questions, it’s free and it takes roughly 10 minutes. According to this test, I’m an “Advocate” (INFJ profile) and 76% introverted.

What is it like to be an introvert

I’ve always known I was an introvert, I never found it hard to be on my own and I’m pretty much always among the first ones to leave a party when I’ve had enough. I would then need to reenergize with very little interaction with the world. So when the first lockdown happened in the UK 8 months ago, I found it quite peaceful and relaxing. Especially after being abroad for several months prior to that. Of course I miss not being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want, but I wouldn’t say I miss social events so much. I even dread video calls as I find them exhausting, they drain my energy.

Boundaries are important

Before I quit my job last year to go travelling, I was working in a company full of extroverts. It’s difficult to adapt when the majority of your colleagues, as well as the management team, are outspoken and loud. They don’t always let you speak even if you have (more interesting) things to say. Then it hits your self-confidence and your self-worth, to a point you start doubting yourself on the quality of your contribution. Boundaries are very important because they protect you from being abused. People with poor boundaries confuse the feelings of others with their own feelings and it’s not healthy. So in a way, I sometimes feel like this lockdown has allowed me to take the time to centre myself a bit more, which was much needed. Is it selfish to say that?

Lockdown can be a blessing for some

Today, the British Government has announced the national lockdown in England will end next week and we will be back to a tougher tier system. London will be back in tier 2, which means we’re not allowed to mix with any other household indoors except for only 5 days during Christmas. It seems likely to last until March/April 2021 (with better weather and hopefully a new vaccine). Personally, I see the next 4 months as an opportunity to focus on some things that are easily neglected when too busy: eat healthy, sleep more, go out for a wander, phone or text family & friends who live far away.

What’s your personality type and how do you cope with the current situation?

Big Girl x

How to Pick the Perfect Engagement Ring For You

how to pick the perfect engagement ring

The ring you choose says a lot about your relationship. Hence why it has to be the right one! It’s so much pressure on guys though… In my opinion, it should be something that involves both parties. And it’s also fair for the one who will wear it forever (hopefully!). But in case you want to keep it as a surprise (I can see the appeal of it), then this post aims to give some advice on the matter. Hopefully it will help you if you’re still at the very beginning of this journey.

Define your budget

The first thing to do is probably to define how much you can afford to put in the ring. And then understand what you can get for your money. It’s common knowledge to spend at least two months salary on the ring… But let’s be honest, it’s probably a rule invented by jewellers. So do whatever feels right for you! Also ask yourself what’s more important: the real value of the ring, the way it looks, or both?

Diamonds or other gemstones?

When it comes to diamonds, it’s not only difficult to see if they’re real or fake, but their quality defines their price range. It could be frustrating as sometimes the difference is not even visible to the naked eye… Diamonds are the most popular gemstone for engagement rings but you can also consider alternatives. Emerald, ruby or sapphire are also becoming popular for example.

If you’re not sure and don’t want to go wrong though, remember diamonds are a girl’s best friend! No matter where you buy it from, make sure you get a GIA certificate with it. It’s the most recognised institution among diamond grading. It will give you a guarantee of the quality of your purchase, defined by the “4C’s”.

If you opt for a diamond, learn about the 4C’s

  • Cut – How the diamond is cut is really important because it affects its sparkle. I would strongly recommend to not compromise too much on this one
  • Colour – Diamonds can go from D (colourless) to Z (yellow), it’s usually best to stick within the colourless range (from D to F)
  • Clarity – This characteristic is where you can compromise the most because imperfections are often microscopic, although it’s recommended to go for minimum VS2 (very slightly included), as close as possible to FL (flawless) as your budget allows
  • Carat – That’s the most obvious one as it refers to the diamond’s weight, which means its size if you compare diamonds with a similar cut/shape (people usually go for between 1 and 2 carats)

Do you research online

Take the time to do your own research. The links below explain quite well what you should look for in a diamond and tell you what you need to know, before you make that big purchase:

How we picked my engagement ring

I’m sure you’re curious about my own engagement ring now, given that I picked it myself! How I got engaged was still a surprise for me but as it happened abroad, my fiancé used a temporary ring instead so he wouldn’t stress about losing it during our travels.

Our thought process behind our choice:

  • I knew I wanted to go for a solitaire (classic and traditional, simple and beautiful) but I also liked the idea of a trilogy (representing the past, present and future) so we went for a solitaire with 2 mini diamonds on each side of the stone
  • Most solitaire rings feature a round diamond but I liked the idea of something a bit more unique so we went for a cushion shape, a square with rounded angles (like my personality, according to my mum)
  • The band had to be platinum because it’s the most durable and solid metal, it’s also hypoallergenic so no risk of getting irritated skin
  • Last but not least – It had to be a real diamond from the Earth (not lab created) because our relationship is genuine and we are from completely different ethnicities, representing a big part of our planet’s population (especially if we go back to our ancestors)
my engagement ring

We bought it online

We chose the stone and the band separately but on the same website: James Allen. Their engagement ring section is very nice and they have a great selection of diamonds, with an online tool that allows you to design your own ring. We really enjoyed playing with it to create the perfect one for me to wear. The only caveat – unless you live in the US – is that you will have to pay an expensive customs fee (roughly 20% of the total cost of the ring). But overall it was still worth it and cheaper than most jewellers in the UK.

We found the best value for money was online and we were so impressed by their service! We decided to use them again for our wedding rings… Unfortunately we won’t get to wear them until only end of next year. I can’t wait!

Hope you enjoyed reading this and that it gave you some insights about how to pick the right engagement ring, whether you’re doing it together or as a surprise… What type of ring will you go for?

Big Girl x

How the Pandemic Impacted My Social Life & Relationships

How the Pandemic Impacted My Social Life & Relationships

We’ve all been impacted one way or another by the pandemic this year… When it all started, I thought the world would be in crisis for maybe 6 months and then quickly recover from it. When I came back to London in April, I was convinced my fiancé and I would be able to get married in November this year. I remember saying to my close family: “It will be sorted out by then!”, they were a bit hesitant to agree and I thought they were pessimistic. As we’re now entering cold months and this virus is going to keep threatening us for at least another 6 months (or am I being too optimistic again?), I thought it was a good time to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted all types of relationships.

Family

Family reunion

My mum was born and raised in Japan, she moved permanently in France by herself when she was almost 18. A few years later, she married a French man (my dad) and started a family. I guess it made it difficult for her to go back to her native country. That’s the price you pay when you choose to build your life abroad… You might never go back to your roots. I might have subconsciously walked in her footsteps when I decided to come to England 8 years ago.

Even though England is a lot closer to France than Japan, I don’t see my family very often. It doesn’t compare to people who live a few minutes away from their parents for example. On top of that, the current covid rules mean we can’t travel easily at the moment. The positive impact is we talk more regularly over the phone. Keeping in touch to say nothing has never meant so much.

Friends

friends jumping in the air

I have friends all over the world. People usually choose to be friends with like-minded people, so I guess it makes sense that I keep in touch with people who have lived in different places throughout their lives. But one of the consequences is I don’t see them very regularly. Distance has never been an obstacle to our friendship though. A negative impact of this pandemic is to not being able to plan when we’ll see each other again. We can’t make any travelling plans until the situation gets a bit less murky. Basically, my wedding is supposed to be the next time we’ll see each other, in November 2021. But even that is not guaranteed…

Colleagues

colleagues around table

I quit my job before travelling last year and I haven’t found a new job since I got back. Maybe the absence of colleagues is the direct consequence of this pandemic for me! The job market is not exactly what it used to be. If anything, this situation made me question what type of job I should look for.

This blog is my full time job for now, it feels like I’m working from home. I like the tranquillity of my own office room at home, the liberty of listening to music if I want to, the easy access to my own kitchen to cook something healthy for lunch, the presence of my cats and of course the shortest commute I will ever have, from my bedroom to my desk. I don’t know when this situation will change but I learnt to enjoy it while it lasts.

Love

couple at sunset

When we were abroad for so long, friends & family were wondering if our relationship would either make or break. Some couples may split up after spending some time abroad, because travelling changes people’s mindset forever. But we knew we were made for each other before planning such a trip.

We had been on the road for 5 months before coming back. Having no choice but to stick with each other during a national lockdown was never going to be difficult in comparison. We also used to work together before, so we were already used to spending most of our time together. If anything, it confirmed to us we can’t wait to get married.

Pets

cat and dog cuddling

I personally can’t see my life without pets. It doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded by lots of people already, pets are not just for lonely people. They love you in a different way than humans, they don’t judge, they empathise with your emotions, they don’t have to do much to comfort you when you’re sad… And they’re so cute. There’s been a rise in pet adoptions since lockdown, let’s just hope people who adopted were fully aware of the responsibilities involved in owning a pet and that the abandonment rate will not also increase later on.

I already had a cat but always wanted a little sister for him. To me, that was the right moment to do it. Many charities warned against pet adoption during the pandemic but I knew what I was doing. I now have 2 cats who not only love each other but make me even happier than I was before! I would have adopted another kitten at some point anyway… But the extra time lately made it easier to properly take care of our new family member.

Nature

nature sunset

I think it’s fair to say my relationship with nature has also changed. Being able to take some fresh air is underrated. Seeing the positive impact on having less people polluting (thanks to covid19) made me realise how overcrowded our planet is. We’re currently damaging it by replacing the wild with the tame. It made me want to be more careful and considerate about my actions and their consequences on a bigger scale.

“Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.” – Bruce Feiler

How did the pandemic impact your relationship with the world?

Big Girl x

Film Review: The Social Dilemma

The social dilemma

Last Saturday was World Mental Health Day, I couldn’t think of a better time to watch the documentary The Social Dilemma. Social media has started to show a negative impact on people at many levels way before the pandemic started. This is a very interesting film to watch as it gathers several former employees from big companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. They are very worried about future generations and this is why.

The former employees showcased in this documentary are all pretty young… That’s because social media haven’t existed for too long yet! Sometimes we tend to forget there used to be a time when we didn’t have social media. I was already 22 years old when I discovered Facebook (back in 2007), so at least I went through the difficult teenage years in high school without it. But some youngsters have grown up with it and don’t know any different than online connections being their primary connections. What impact did it have on them? Well, according to this documentary, the suicide rate among girls aged 15-19 has increased by 77% compared to last decade and by 151% among girls aged 10-14 in the United States. These girls are the first generation using social media since middle school. It’s not a coincidence.

Of course young girls are not the only ones impacted, everyone is. At the end of the day, all social media are competing for your attention with the ultimate goal of making as much money as possible. They collect as much data as they can to hack people’s psychology and build models to predict their actions. The level of information available is unprecedented, everything is monitored. Have you ever noticed you and your friends were not targeted by the same ads? And how the ads you see vary based on what you’ve just typed or even said?

“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”

Any addiction is dangerous and they make sure you’re addicted to your screen so they can keep making profit. Nowadays, most people waste a lot of time on social media when they’re bored. It’s an easy way to kill time. What worries me the most is the way it changes our values to a point we don’t know who we are anymore. We are in constant search for social approval and would do anything to fit in. When I realised that, I decided to delete my personal Facebook account 2 months ago…

I haven’t missed it since. I realised I needed to share my thoughts more than I needed to share a stupid chain I didn’t even relate to. What I needed was to write for an audience of people I didn’t know in real life. That’s why I started this blog 2 weeks ago, it is not shared with anyone in my network. It’s just you – complete online stranger – and me. That way, I don’t censor myself. I’m not looking for social approval from my friends, I’m just looking for genuine followers who want to talk about the same things.

My conclusion? Ok to social media but only if its use is restricted. In my opinion, all kids and teenagers should grow up without it but it’s impossible to control. At least make sure you set time for yourself without any distraction, ban your phone when you eat and when you’re spending time with someone in real life for example (even if it happens less often nowadays). It’s time to change the conversation.

Big Girl x

How to Deal With Anxiety

I would have never described myself as someone anxious by nature. I always saw anxiety as a form of weakness. A couple of years ago, one of my friends suddenly cancelled all the upcoming plans we had together, including a weekend in Iceland. She said she was going through a lot of anxiety and panic attacks. At the time, I pretended to be understanding but in reality I couldn’t really understand what would cause this behaviour. We haven’t seen her for a couple of months and one day she said she wanted to meet up again. I found her slimmed down a lot (she was already slim) but back to her normal self, almost cried when she said “Girls, you don’t know how happy I am to see you again today”. What was that invisible monster who did that to her?

Now I know better. Anxiety is not a form of weakness. Anyone can experience anxiety at some point in their life. Like I said, I would have never described myself as an anxious person… Until this year. For example, I experienced anxiety twice already in the last 2 weeks:

Situation 1 – Going out with friends for lunch

I had this lunch planned at the restaurant with 2 ex-colleagues I haven’t seen for a year. It required using public transport as we live opposite sides of London. I was really looking forward to seeing them but I was scared of travelling by myself. I already postponed this lunch several times and I wanted to see them before another potential lockdown.

Environment

We were officially entering a second wave of covid19 infections, new rules have been put in place in restaurants and public places. It’s allowed to meet up with people from different households, up to 6 people max.

Thoughts

I have not taken the tube by myself this year… And we’re already in September. Scary stuff. What if I lost my independence and self-confidence since this pandemic started? Would I know how to react if something unexpected happened?

Physical Reactions

My guts were in the front line in the battle with my anxious thoughts. I was constipated all week until the day when I couldn’t stop going to the loo, something that looks like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). My guts are like my second brain.

Situation 2 – Going to the dentist

I lost a filling on one of my teeth when I was stuck in Fiji during lockdown. I was obviously very anxious back then because I didn’t have an easy access to medical facilities, it didn’t cross my mind to try and go anyway. I just thought I would be careful when eating and just wait until I’m back in London to go to the dentist. It took me 6 months to motivate myself to book an appointment… And the day finally arrived last weekend.

Environment

Same period, same regulations. My dentist has reopened for several months now and is reassuring when it comes to safety measures and hygiene.

Thoughts

I really need to get my tooth sorted out even if I don’t feel any pain. Isn’t a dentist the last person I want to see though? What if I get infected there? I’ll be vulnerable with my mouth open and this virus is invisible…

Physical Reactions

IBS symptoms again.

What I learned…

So, can I still say I’m not an anxious person? I guess not, not after that. These 2 situations would have never been a source of stress for me until this year. Perception of danger is very subjective after all. We make judgements about danger and our ability to cope every day. But sometimes when we feel too anxious, we overestimate danger and underestimate our ability to cope. It’s that balance we need to maintain to avoid unnecessary “what if…?” questions.

If I listened to my anxiety and let it dominate me, I would have avoided these situations in a first place: I would have cancelled on my friends and make up an excuse, and I would have convinced myself I didn’t need to go to the dentist. Instead I decided to be brave and it boosted my self-confidence. I feel less anxious about going out, although I still prefer staying home as much as possible because it feels safer. It wouldn’t be a good thing to not experience anxiety at all nowadays, it would lead to stupid behaviours like thinking bad things never happen to you.

Have you experienced anxiety lately because of the pandemic? If yes, how have you overcome it?

Big Girl x

We Got Engaged in Bali, in a Pre-COVID World

How I Got Engaged

You may be wondering… “Ok, she’s decided to focus on her health and change her lifestyle for good. Any particular trigger?”. Of course, the fact that unhealthy people tend to be the most likely to die from the virus is one of the reasons. I love my life and I don’t want to take the risk to shorten it. Especially if I have the power to increase my chances to live longer. But there is something else… I’m a bride-to-be and I want to look my best for the wedding! Let’s go back to how it all happened for us.

Communication is key

I would like to think this article will not interest only girls but guys as well. There is so much pressure on men’s shoulders to make it right! Let me tell you something guys, you don’t have to do it all alone. After all, are we not evolving towards an era of equality between genders? When you’re in a serious relationship, you know it’s inevitable to talk about your future together. Do you want to get married? Do you want kids? It could compromise your entire relationship if you disagree on one of these questions. Nowadays, it seems like couples don’t invest so much on relationships and tend to call it off too easily. Are you scared of being hurt or missing out by committing too soon? You better be aligned on these two points before you invest too much time in it.

We made our own rules

Now that you know that you both want to get married, it’s a matter of when to pop the question. My boyfriend (now fiancé) and I knew we were at that stage of the relationship and discussed about when would be the right moment for him to propose. It’s a formality we didn’t want to skip (he even asked my dad’s permission beforehand) but we also wanted it to be at our image.

So we agreed on the following: he picked the moment and the location (but we decided it was going to happen at some point during our 6 months travel) and we picked together the ring I was going to wear for the rest of my life. The ring is a big investment so I don’t really think it should be left to one person only to decide. You know what, it’s actually a lot of fun to compare options and agree on what to buy together. Don’t forget this symbolic ring reflects your relationship, whether you go discreet, extravagant, unique or traditional etc.

Tip for those who are planning to propose abroad: Bring a fake temporary ring with you! It’s not worth the stress to bring THE ring with you and worry about losing it!

The element of surprise

I left him to decide the date, the location, the setting etc because it’s important to leave these decisions to the one who’s proposing: it kind of maintains an element of surprise when you’re making sure you’re at least aligned on the bigger picture. So here we are, he proposed in Bali! He booked a dinner experience with a rice terrace view at sunset, we had our own waiter at our disposal and a sophisticated set menu of 5 courses… You get it, we’re both foodies and we could enjoy our meal in all intimacy! The setting was amazing and they even made a heart with flowers on the floor.

Kupu Kupu Barong Bali

Happy memories

This place is called Kupu Kupu Barong, in Ubud. It takes me back to December 2019, just before the pandemic started to affect us all in the world. I can say these memories will stay in our heads forever. Are you also engaged? If yes, please do share your experience in the comments below!

Big Girl x