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The Waiting Game

There is none of the energy and excitement of starting the journey. There is none of the satisfaction of finishing the race. It is just a waiting game. I lie in the midst of a torturous hiatus. It's not the eye of the storm nor the calm before it. There's pressure, it's uncomfortable. Like many of my friends I am just waiting; for my A-levels, for university decisions, and for my next steps to become clear. 

I'm trying to keep my cool and sidestep any drama but, I'm not going to lie, it's tough.

We are all anxious in anticipation of our final exams, now just months away. I've completed my A-level mocks - an unsavoury taste of what is to come and the reason I couldn't attend or cover this season of London Fashion Week. While I admit to feeling invigorated by starting the revision process, which hopefully will build confidence about making it through, it's still a matter of... waiting. Not only for the exams but for university decisions.  

Part of my own uncertainty is one of geography - whether I stay in London or move to another city, or move to the United States. I have a favourite option but I'm not going to reveal it, because even as someone who prides herself on being rational, I don't want to jinx it. What is most excruciating is that all of this is now out of my control. At this point there is literally nothing I can do except... wait. 

We're all processing where we are, where we want to go, what is the right path for us. There are scores of different scenarios but until the results and the offers are in I can't focus on any of them. It's exciting and scary. Those of us in the same situation can share our anxiety and be there for one another but there is little we can do other than provide moral support. I am trying to balance positive thinking with managing expectations. Like I said, it's out of our control now. 

One thing is certain - I will be studying English. My current English class will laugh at me for putting this in but perhaps I should have faith in Fortuna, the Greek Goddess who controls the Wheel of Fortune. In a tragedy, she is responsible for the tragic hero's reversal of fortune - she turns her wheel and everything changes. Fortuna was a concept also used widely in Medieval literature, so I feel it's apt to bring it into this piece. Nowadays, we'd probably call it fate. What will fate decide?

I like to think of myself as someone who will drive their own future. I am determined, and I strongly believe in the power people have to make things happen if they are committed, passionate and driven. So when I am in a situation where Fortuna (or university admissions officers) have the power to decide my fate, I'm not embarrassed to say it's unsettling.

I don't have a magic formula for making it okay for me, or my friends, who are similarly waiting decisions now outside their control. All we can do is have faith in ourselves and remember that this is a long game. Maybe fate will take us down a path we'd previously not considered but we will ultimately find fulfilling. We just have to get through this period, embrace the decisions that are made and move ahead with some confidence that Fortuna will be kind. 

Now It Gets Serious

This is going to be a big year for me. I will look back when I'm older at 2018 and see it as a year of big choices and dramatic change. This year I will take my A-levels and finish school. I will turn 18 years old. I will leave home and start university - exactly where, I do not know yet.

Knowing that thousands of others are in the same boat, making choices that will significantly impact their lives, does not make it feel any less monumental. Up to now, there's been a rhythm, a sameness, about the years. I've known what to expect. Another school year, maybe a set of exams, the same place, the same people. Now, I'm making choices; I do not know whether I'll be successful in some of them or where others will take me. I'm also facing the final exams, hoping I'll do well. 

What is most significant about the choices ahead of me is that I am making them. Up until now, most of my major life decisions have been made for me. My parents decided where to bring me up, where to send me to school, to some extent what I should study. I may have had some input, but in the words of Judge Judy, up until 18, the parents own the air that I breathe. Now I'm taking the reins. I'm making the decision about where to go, what to study, where to live, what to do with my life. That responsibility is both exciting and terrifying. I am accountable for all that is to come next - good and bad. 

The choices my peers and I will make are potentially life-altering. This is one of those rare moments where we are being asked to pick a path for ourselves. As we get older, it will become less about us and more about those around us. It'll be about where your wife's promotion takes you, living in an area with good schools for your children, staying in a job so you can earn enough to have a lifestyle to keep you and your dependants happy, etc. This current series of decisions is all about us, the young individuals embarking on life as adults. At 18 we are also legally responsible. We are accountable. We will make the decisions, hopefully get them right, and regardless have to deal with the consequences.


Stockholm is a wonderful city for shopping. You can stroll down Drottninggatan to see an H&M on every corner, along with Åhlens, one of Sweden's major department stores. If you're looking for something more 'hipster', Södermalm has a Shoreditch vibe and is the best destination for vintage. And finally Biblioteksgatan is a long stretch of glamourous designers with a charming red carpet at Christmas, where these photos were taken. 

It's easy to spend a whole day walking around the main island and use the cold weather as an excuse to buy new clothes. Which brings me to the newsboy hat. I've seen them emerging in stores and online for a year or so, and decided the icey Swedish wind was the final cue to take the plunge. Besides, who doesn't want to look like Keira Knightley in Love Actually?

A 1920s Legend in 2017

In 1920, Greta Garbo, then Greta Gustafsson, was working in one of Stockholm's major department stores, called PUB, as a shop assistant. Her good looks led to modelling hats in the store's catalogue, and from there she took part in a commercial. She was then offered roles by directors, and ended up on a scholarship to study at the Royal Dramatic Theater School at 17. That working-class Stockholm shop assistant went on to become an Old Hollywood legend.

And so, I found myself in that very same building, also at age 17. No longer a department store but a hotel called the Haymarket by Scandic. With the same art deco flair, tributes and references to Greta laced throughout, the 1920s character felt very much alive. As an Old Hollywood enthusiast and overall vintage fan, staying in the Haymarket was the immersive and colourful experience I didn't know I needed.

The glamorous decor made me feel like I'd stepped into an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. I was ready to wave my hair and adorn myself with pearls to live out my very own Jazz Age narrative.

Snow and Serenity

What better way to escape the West-London bubble filled with all-consuming A-level and university stress? Run away to the Swedish countryside, of course.

I've become increasingly fond of my December trips to Sweden to see my relatives. There's a unique serenity to the landscape that seems to refresh me every year. Sitting in a car, driving along the winding country roads and watching the coloured houses and forests go by - it's genuinely one of my favourite things in the world. Perhaps it's because daylight in Sweden at this time of year is so sparse - around 5 or 6 hours, if you're lucky. This makes being outside feel utterly precious. A mere ten minute walk in the snow, with no social media or real civilisation, gratitude for light - pure and simple serenity.

Are You Brave Enough?

Our generation has the ability to read a seemingly infinite pool of opinions.  At first glance, this seems to be empowering. Our access to information is greater than ever, with social media driving a mass of news and media to us at all times. But have you ever stopped to assess what you're consuming? Although we have access to immense diversity of media, both in culture and opinion, how much of it do we actually let through?

With the ability to select who we follow, we're able to filter our feeds and customise them to our likes and interests. I can select my favourite bloggers, publications, news agencies, and cultivate a wealth of information tailored to me. Even on Snapchat, although it showcases a variety of publications, I only read those that interest me, and that I trust. This is a great luxury, one I wouldn't necessarily change. But it raises an important question. While social media gives us great power to broaden our horizons, are we actually narrowing our perspective by filtering what we consume?

The self-selection of news is becoming a big issue and it is easy to be drawn into it. If you only consume the views of those who think like you, it can only serve to reinforce what you already think and reinforce any prejudice you have.

If you're a Trump supporter, and have no interest in hearing criticism of his administration, it's easier than ever to mute those who disagree with you. Likewise if you hate Trump, it makes sense to follow and support publications which aren't afraid to criticise him. Perhaps you loathe a certain boy-band because of their young female audience, but have you ever actually listened to their music? Maybe you're a die-hard fan, but are you brave enough to have your opinion challenged by someone who isn't?

If we only ever read opinions that reinforce our own, we are never tested. Those views are  solidified, perhaps subconsciously, by the fact that everyone else on our feed agrees with us. And doesn't that cause of a roadblock in social change?