Monday 29 August 2016

it's my party (and i'll blog if i want to): musing + lyrics turns one

i'd planned to schedule this post for while i was away at leeds festival last week, but blogger decided not to post it, so now i'm back and showered after five days of roughing it in some of the worst rain i've ever seen, i bring you a slightly belated, one year anniversary blog post.

writing this post is in itself a completely surreal experience and one i never thought i'd have, as i am a notorious procrastinator, something you may have gathered from the varying time in between posts on this blog. my motivation is a strange beast; i can go for weeks not wanting to write a single thing, then suddenly my attention will be grabbed by a particular song, film or book, and i'll be hammering out a post in double quick time. the latter is a rarity, however, and i generally try to aim for one post a week. it amazes me how people do this for a real job, because if there's one thing i've learned since i started uni nearly two years ago now, it's that coming up with new, and somewhat original ideas is hard. 

perhaps this is a result of a quarter life crisis, but for my upcoming final project i've been thinking a lot about what it truly means to be authentic and original in a time where we seem to borrow so heavily from decades that have gone before us. we seem to be lacking our own defining style for the... 2010s? what is this decade even called? it would seem that after the (glorious) early 2000s, it all went a bit pear shaped, and i find myself wondering what our generation will be remembered for in another ten, twenty or even thirty years. hopefully it won't be snapchat filters.

it was my desire for authenticity that led me to create this blog in the summer of last year, but before we can begin to understand that, we need to go all the way back to when sixteen (maybe fifteen?) year old me saw an episode of the rachel zoe project and decided that fashion was truly my passion. i know. for this post i thought it was time to reveal a bit more about myself, because while i enjoyed the sense of anonymity this blog originally afforded me, i feel like i'm now ready to put my name on this, as it's something i've actually become proud of. but yes. before all that, i was young(er) and naive and having a pretty miserable time, to be honest. whoever said that your teenage years are the best of your life was a dirty, great big liar. 

so there i was, sixteen and desperate to get away from my hometown and everything in it, having decided that moving to london and attempting to build a career in fashion would solve all my problems. bear in mind that i'd only ever been to london a handful of times, and still saw it as this great Land Of Opportunity, where i could shed my shameful old self and become this sparkly new person. oh how wrong i was. little did i know that the feelings of "social awkwardness" i'd harboured since i was a child would manifest into full on anxiety and depression that (due to my fear of speaking up) went untreated and would follow me all the way to london once i finally made the move. but at sixteen you think you've got the world figured out, and i saw no reason why i shouldn't at least try and make it down south, so i began the endless pursuit of getting into central saint martins, which after much research i discovered was the mecca of fashion. my heroes like henry holland and alexander mcqueen had all graduated from there, and i was determined to do the same. 

there was just one small problem; i couldn't sew. after struggling to overcome my fear of the sewing machine in GCSE textiles, which culminated in my teacher actually finishing part of my final piece for me, i knew that being a fashion designer just wasn't on the cards for me. the only other thing i'd ever been good at was english, so i decided to combine my love of fashion and my ability to string a sentence together and apply for fashion journalism. long story short: my a-levels just about killed me and i got rejected from saint martins; no doubt a devastating blow. the sense of euphoria i felt upon finally setting foot on its grounds was quickly deflated once my disaster of an interview was over in just under ten minutes. i was right to have a mini panic attack in the toilets beforehand as it went just as terribly as i'd feared. i didn't even wait to get a formal email telling me i hadn't made it, instead deciding on the train back to manchester that i would make the university for the creative arts in epsom my second, and only choice, because i knew i didn't stand a chance of getting into the only other two universities that offered the course. it really was all or nothing; failing my a-levels meant not getting to pursue what i thought it was i truly wanted, which was to Make It in fashion. 

lo and behold, after a slightly less traumatic interview and a hellish car journey to epsom and back (a total of eight hours), i did actually get offered a place and by some miracle, just about scraped enough points together to get in. i still remember the excitement of results day in august of 2014; though bleary eyed and half asleep having just woken up, when i saw that i'd done it, that i'd made it, i thought that was the rest of my life taken care of. however, given the bad luck that seems to have cursed all members of my family over the years, there had to be a catch, and in this case, it was my best friend not getting into a university in london to study PR, meaning our plan to be half an hour away from each other (epsom is just outside of london) was doomed. he ended up doing english language at york, a dismal 234 miles away. 

not to be deterred though, i packed up and left the one place i was convinced had been holding me back all my life, though once i'd been dropped off, unpacked boxes littered all around my tiny room in the halls of residence i'd been assigned to, it didn't take long for me to realise that i'd made a mistake, and a Very Big One at that. my flatmates turned out to be a nightmare, and i ended up moving into a new halls of residence after just over a month in the first one. things got so bad that i genuinely considered dropping out, a thought that horrified me, as i'd worked so hard to get where i was. but here's the thing: reality fucking sucks. as i said before, my anxiety had made the trip with me, meaning that making friends became an Impossible Task. luckily i met the friends i have now within the first two or three nights of being away, something i know i'm grateful for as i know it's not that easy for everyone. 

i was determined not to give up, and though stressful, i did enjoy the first year, with a personal highlight being given the chance to interview someone whose dress had been worn by lady gaga; yes, actual lady gaga. however, by the end of my second year, i'd started to feel somewhat disillusioned by the fashion industry. not getting a work placement earlier in the year may have been the catalyst that started it, but i soon found myself questioning everything i thought i wanted and became desperate to leave once again. it was an extremely difficult year mental health wise, and i truly wasn't sure i could make it through the final, and arguably most stressful year. so naturally i did what i always do when things get difficult, and rather than attempt to find a job (i did get an interview at one place but decided to turn it down), i retreated back to the safety of home. 

my first post on this blog went up on the 27th august 2015, but i'd been wanting to get into writing about music for a while before that. as i said, i was becoming increasingly disillusioned by what i was doing at uni, and the people i was around did little to alleviate these feelings. when i imagined going to uni and being a Fashion Student, i envisioned myself being surrounded by all these outgoing, amazingly dressed people, so imagine my disdain when my classmates (for the most part) turned out to be wannabe fashion bloggers and sales assistants at & other stories. (side note: i am tired of this whole "minimalist" trend. trousers and tops that make me look like i'm wearing a tent? no thanks. give me full-tilt, over-the-top, 80s glamour any day.) i started to feel like somewhat of an outcast, and the stress of our group project didn't help. my anxiety reared its ugly head again, making it difficult to communicate my ideas. in my final report for the year, my tutor said that my group felt it was "taxing" to communicate with me. like, tell me something i don't know. nevertheless, that shit hurts, and i just wanted an online escape from deadlines, word counts and not-so-favourable character reviews from my tutors. 

and thus, musing + lyrics was born. the name is a play on one of my favourite ever films: music and lyrics (a film that i definitely need to write a post about at some point). what struck me about creating this blog is how easy it all was. right from when i had my interview at UCA, i always felt like i should have a serious Fashion Blog, but truth be told, my heart just wasn't, and still isn't, in it. i struggled for years to come up with a catchy name, and knew that even if i succeeded i'd make two or three posts and then abandon the blog. so my track record wasn't exactly excellent, and i feared the same would happen here. still, i decided to take the plunge and write my first post. so what finally made me do it? well, dear reader, it was a combination of excessively reading witchsong, a site i discovered after someone on tumblr reblogged a quote from this piece, and a random night in august when carly rae jepsen's infectiously catchy single run away with me invaded my eardrums, and the rest, as they say, is history.

it was staring me in the face the whole time really; i went to my first gig aged 13 and ever since then, i've immersed myself in the world of fandoms, and though the bands i've obsessed over have changed throughout the years, they've always provided a much needed escape from whatever stress i'm dealing with in my life. fashion is an escape too; the very reason why i fell in love with it to begin with was because i could create a style that was all my own, and that's never changed, but i'm just not sure i want to make a career out of it. so i'm starting again, having had no real experience writing about music, and the prospect is daunting. many a time i've berated myself for not realising that music was my true calling and choosing music journalism instead, but if i hadn't done the "wrong" course, i'd never have realised that this is exactly what i'm supposed to be doing; it'll just make it a tad harder to get started. 

my latest obsession has undoubtedly been the 1975and as a result i've watched countless interviews in which their frontman, and love of my life, matty healy, talks about the emotional investment that fans have in their band, and it's this feeling that makes me want to keep on writing. regardless of genre, if a song makes me feel a certain type of way, i'll write about it. it's this emotional investment that i noticed i was lacking when it came to fashion, and when i see how much the people on my course love it, have dedicated their whole life to it, i can't help but feel like a fraud because i just don't have that emotional connection to the latest it-bag or runway collection. i love fashion, but i'm not in love with it. 

that's not to say i don't lust after certain items on asos (and later make a cheeky online purchase), but the sense of joy i feel when buying a new album or gig ticket always trumps the feeling i get when my frivolous purchase finally arrives. trends come and go, but the feeling i get when i'm standing in a venue waiting for my favourite band to come on stage will never go out of style for me. and of course, it would be wrong to ignore the elitist connotations that come with a life spent loving fashion. anyone can listen to a song on spotify for free, or if they're feeling generous, buy it on itunes for 99p, but only a certain few can afford to drop hundreds of pounds on the latest pair of c√©line sunglasses, or whatever the Cool Kids are buying these days. 

yes i'm still figuring out exactly what i want to do with The Rest Of My Life, and i'm accepting the fact that i'll probably never know for sure. nothing is set in stone, and maybe one day i'll decide i want to make another foray into fashion, and perhaps i won't feel like i've wasted three years of my life doing the "wrong" degree. either way, writing this blog has given me an escape from the demands of my uni work and allowed me to write without constraints, meaning it's some of the most honest (and dare i say, best) writing i've ever produced. the brutal honesty of my writing is another reason why i've hesitated to put my name on it, but i'm really proud of what i've done so far, and i can only hope that the amount of people who read this blog continues to grow. 

but whatever happens, i'll still be writing, whether five or five thousand people are reading, and it's because i one hundred and ten percent believe in what i'm doing. unlike some of the aspiring fashion bloggers on my course, i'm not in this for the money. if this were to one day become my job, then of course i'd take any opportunities handed to me, but the main reason i do this is because i love it. the minute i stop loving it is the minute i'll stop writing. i write because i need to. since i was young, i've had this insatiable desire to be a writer, and i'd spend all my free time writing and illustrating my own "books", haphazardly stapled together, so whether anyone actually cares about what i do here is irrelevant. 

listening to music is a cathartic experience for us all, but for me, so is writing about it, and while i'm not doing anything particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary, i'd be happy if just one person could look at what i've written and laugh, or cry, or feel angry, or all of the above. as long as it makes you feel something, that's all i care about. going forward, i can only hope that my readership continues to grow and i can create a community of sorts, and i'm finally at the point where i feel i'm ready to pitch my ideas to other websites, even if i get rejected a few hundred times along the way. oh, and getting a first in my degree (wrong or right) would be nice. i'll never give up on this blog though, as it's the one thing that started it all, and i hope to be writing another post like this in a year's time.

so this is it. this is me. my name is lorna o'brien, and it's nice to finally meet you. 

this is my twitter, where you can find me yelling about harry styles, Gay Shit, and whatever music i've been listening to lately. 

my instagram is very much the same, along with a selfie or seventeen, so please join the party. 

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