As a follow up to observations, this week I started thinking about whether we are ever truly alone. And I don't mean in the sense that there are little green men on the moon, but in our everyday lives. I'm fascinated by people, I think the way we interact with people and the way our lives are dominated by people is so fundamental to a human life.

I was sitting in my class this morning and as my tutor was talking about the writing assignment for this week I zoned out, and I just started to look at all the different people in my classroom. The more I zoned out the more I began to think about the people that were around me. They not only had strong physical differences, but different writing styles, different stories and different circumstances that led them to a Thursday morning class. The more I thought about my classmates the more I thought about the different people in general that you meet over a lifetime. Whilst I am only twenty I feel like especially since graduating high school my interactions with people and the amount of people in my social circle has changed drastically. The minute you leave your comfort zone, or your safety bubble your life will change. I don't know whether it's just school environments, but for me, my friendship group was my lifeline. No matter how hard the days were I was so thankful that I was surrounded by such strong, supportive and incredible women. I look back so fondly on these memories.

However I'm not in High School anymore, I don't see the same people everyday and as life moves on. I believe people change, not necessarily in a bad way or in a good way but I do think change is possible. Sometimes it is hard to remember that everything happens for a reason. People come into our lives because we need them. Everyone who becomes a part of your life, whether it's longterm or short term is there to help you grow and continue on your journey. It's sort of similar in that sense to a Christmas Carol, except rather than three different people changing your life it's on slightly a larger scale. Making these connections with people is such an important part of our physical development. Whether it's the cranky English teacher that almost failed you or just a stranger you happen to strike up a conversation with on the train - every person we meet is going to impact our life in some way.

Our lives are full of relationships. Whether you're having a home day or you're out and about running errands, you're constantly interacting with people. Our lives are so saturated with advertising and communication that sometimes it is hard to switch off from the world. It's hard to have a moment where we aren't tapping away on our phones or even where we're not interacting with people in some way, shape or form. The more I think about it the only time I'm not really communicating is when I'm asleep and then most days I'm woken up by my phone buzzing with notifications or my mum banging on my bedroom door asking if I should be up yet.

Our lives and my own personal feelings is dominated by my social interaction. We are constantly fed this idea that you're either an introvert or an extrovert. You either love people or you hate them and you know in my opinion I don't think that we truly can be segregated so specifically into these strict categories. Some days I love to be around people and be with my friends and family, other days I want to sit in my room all day on my laptop binge watching TV shows. Even on those days I'm generally still texting, snapchatting and messaging my friends. I don't think I ever have moments when I'm truly alone and I don't know how I feel about that.

There are so many things that define who we are as people. Everyone has a completely unique socialisation process. It will define how you make connections with people, how you view the world and it can even effect some of the biggest decisions you will ever have to make. However, like I mentioned before you are allowed to change. No one is the same person they were 10 years ago. 

Change is such a fundamental part of life and you know what sometimes someone might not like the changes that you've made, whether they are for better or worse. At the end of the day it comes down to choice. I'm very much a believer in the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and as individuals we have the right to express our freedom of speech and our freedom of choice, even if it's not necessarily the most popular opinion. As we have that freedom of choice, we also can choose whether you agree with everything you see, read, hear or engage with.

Regardless of the choices we make, I have enough faith in humanity to believe in people. I believe that people can change, and whether you agree with me or not, that's entirely up to you. You have the ability to become the person you want to be. There may be some obstacles on your road to this and you may have to break some eggs but at the end of the day if you make a decision, and it's not the right decision, just make another one.

At the end of the day, we are constantly growing and changing and we are on a journey to becoming the best possible version of yourself.

This piece is inspired by the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based on the novel by Jay Asher. I won't reveal too much because I truly think that even if you're not really a "TV person" you should take some time to watch it. Even if it's just from a theoretical perspective. The content is so important and is so relevant to so many things that either you or someone you know are living through every day. Watching all thirteen episodes makes you think about every single person in your life. It makes you think about the connections you make with people and how you never will ever truly know how much someone can be suffering. The most minuscule act of random kindness or even the nasty things we can say or do to people might seem minor to you, but you never know how that could affect someone else. Our choices and our actions will define us and I don't want you to ever feel alone.

Be kind to people, be kind to yourself and know I'm always here if you need me.



[This post was written on January 7, 2017] 

It’s funny. I consider myself to be a fairly observant person, I like to be constantly aware of my surroundings and I find myself people watching quite frequently. I observe almost everything about different people and try and decipher what the little things could mean. 

As a photographer I look at people’s faces quite often, as someone’s face shape and general expression does say a lot about them as a person. I especially find that when I’m with new people I notice little things about them that most people wouldn’t normally notice. During my time in New Zealand I became quite aware of how observant I was. Spending time with new people and being with a family other than my own I’ve had different opportunities to observe and look at an entire family and not only how they interact as siblings but also with their parents. I don’t know what it is but I find it so interesting to look at people and just figure things out about them. It can be a stranger or someone I know incredibly well, whether it’s just looking at their features and deciding what animal it reminds me of, or even the way they speak which my mum thinks is a wasted gift (she always wanted me to be a speech pathologist, shame I suck at science mum). For example, my friend G enjoys a lot of things that I know a lot of people would find no interest in, such as studying the animations shorts at the beginning of disney films and whilst she does know a lot of people who are interested in that, for me it’s something that’s uniquely her. Even today we were wandering around Dunedin, NZ and we went into the New Zealand store to look at plushies and general tourist crap. G was looking for a plushie of a Kakapo which is an endangered species of flightless parrot native to New Zealand. However in the shop they only had puppets which she wasn’t particular interested in, only after we commented on it a couple of times she mentioned that the eyes were incredibly well done and honestly I can not name any other person that I know who would’ve noticed the eyes on a plush toy. 

The more I think about it, the things I observe about other people I never notice about myself. For example as I am literally drafting this post in my pages document I realised that my favourite number is also the font size that I set every document as, it’s twelve in case you were wondering (you probably weren’t). As well as certain little things that I have noticed along this trip I have definitely become more comfortable and expressing my ideas and thoughts on things more and more which have been constantly welcomed. I have been made aware how observant I am as a person and how hyperaware I am of my surroundings, the people I’m with and what is going on with various people around me. For some reason it had never occurred to me how observant I am was any different to other people’s levels of observance but even the tiniest things that I notice with only half brain power, people have been incredibly shocked about. Again this sort of leads to some sort of post about self realisation and self discovery etc. etc. but these thoughts are still important to me and it is the reason I write this series in particular. Besides those 3am posts when I have no hope at sleeping I find writing to be freeing. It acts as an extension of who I am. 

Even as I write this post right now I’m thinking about how different people associate different things. Like even today for example when we were exiting the ship in the dock at Port Chalmers there was an excessive lumber supply and as we continued journeyed on our shuttle bus from Port Chalmers to Dunedin we saw more lumber and G said “well you can see what this town’s main export is.” And the more I think about this the more I wonder, because that thought did not enter my head once. I had no thinking whatsoever about what the town’s export was or why they would have so much wood. Like after I had acknowledged it, I had already moved on. 

After my hyperaware self became hyperaware of my hyperawareness (mind-warp, I know) I began to think and even overthink (which is another one of my exceptional habits) my observation skills, not in a bad way but in a way where I didn’t realise it was so odd that I noticed so many different things about people. G seems to think it’s one of my “special talents,” but since becoming aware of this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to use this “talent”. To some extent I do believe most things can be taught but there are definitely some individual skills or “natural talent” that no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to be able to fully master. Like, as much as it broke my 13 year old selves heart, I’m never going to be an artist, I’m the shittest painter ever and I really can’t draw. Even ideas about photography, where I loved the idea of capturing a moment. I never knew that other people weren’t like that. Sometimes I forget how individual and unique people are, and how easy it is to forget that, especially when you’re constantly around the same people. You begin to forget the things that once stood out so firmly in your brain. 

I really do admire people who have the ability to be 100% honest at all times. I am not one of those people. I read each situation and make sure it’s appropriate to say what I was thinking, if not I keep it to myself. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people, and as I conclude this post I’ve decided I’m going to make more of a conscious effort to say what I’m thinking, because especially from recent experience people are interested in the things I have to say. 

No matter what you think, say or do you are so uniquely you. You can wear the same outfit and cut your hair the same as every other 16 year old girl, but as you get older and get more life experience you truly begin to understand when someone tells you that we’re all different for a reason. 

Honestly, can you imagine how boring life would be if we were really all the same. 

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[Image: Shot by me.]

Your Teenage Dream?


When I think about where I want to go over the next year I can’t help but think about this cliche typical teen experience. There’s this romanticised version of what you’re supposed to do during your youth that we see splattered on every media platform possible. These ideas about finding yourself, loosing yourself, alcohol, sex, relationships and every other possible thing you can think of. It makes me wonder how on earth you survive your teen years or how I’ve even got this far because I sure as hell don't know what I'm doing.

When you think about the experiences and key moments that make up your teen experience you think about high school and starting university. You think about first kisses, first loves and every other first listed during the coming of age movie where the awkward girl meets her dream boy. There’s so much pressure to tick off the list of first and the media and society we live in doesn't really help this. Your teen years are meant to be about a lot of things depending where you look. The bottom line is, you're frantically grasping for something stable in a completely unstable time in your life.

So the reason I'm thinking about teenagers is I actually still am one. I've got less than a month to soak up the idea that I'm no longer a teenager. I'm going to be in my twenties. So if the teen years are for being lost in making bad choices what the hell are you supposed to do in your twenties? For me personally when I think about my teen years I think about the long list of things that I was supposed to do. For many people I know this idea of the teen experience doesn't effect them but since mine is coming to a close I can't really stop thinking about it. 

Sometimes I just sit at parties and observe what’s going on around me and it’s like is that what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I supposed to be making an absolute idiot of myself, getting wasted and making bad choices? I’m stuck with this constant feeling of missing out. Like because of some of the choices I made during my teen years, have I missed out on these fundamental experiences that will define the rest of my life? The more I think about this the more I realise I’m probably being far too overdramatic and overthinking something that is going to happen naturally but dang I can’t help it. I don’t know what I want and maybe if I had tried harder to fit into this mould of the typical teen, then I would know where I’m going with my life. I know everyone struggles with ideas about the self but sometimes I feel like I'm affected more than the people around me. I struggle with comparing myself and my teen experience to so many people in my life and sometimes it gets to the point where I think I fucked up. I think that if I had a done certain things or experienced similar things to some of my closest friends maybe I would fill better about where I am right now. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so lost in myself. 

I've always been plagued with this idea but this morning it hit me harder than normal. It was a lazy start to what should have been a pretty productive Sunday and I’m watching That 70s Show. I’m watching this version of the teen experience. A possible reality of what I could or should have been doing and you know what feel like I’m missing out. I’m not Donna or Eric or even Jackie. I didn’t fall in love with the boy next door and hang out with my friends in his basement. Heck, I didn’t even go to a co-ed high school and you know what sucks, I don’t have any way of making my life like the characters and public figures that I idolize. I didn't get a detentions, I don't have a Vista Cruiser or magic pair of jeans. I don't have a wand or an angsty boy to sing to me on an oval. I didn't even do anything that made the whole school talk about me. Before I get too lost in this idea of the teen experience need to remember that I don’t have control over the choices I’ve made and sometimes I know hide from this. I hide from my friends and my family and every person I meet. I hide that I haven’t been somewhere or done something that we’re conditioned to believe you’re supposed to do. You might say I compare my life too much to the lives that I observe. I know this post is just turning into a mad rambling about these crazy thoughts that are running wild in my head but I can't stop them right now. I don't have the ability to back myself and know that I made the right choices over the years. There’s definitely been ups and downs and I guess that does mean that I’ve ticked a certain box in the fundamental teen experienced. 
When I read over this post I keep saying the words “supposed to” but I can’t describe it any other way. I can’t describe the way I feel right now but I just know that something isn’t quite right. I feel unhappy in many parts of my life and I’m at this point where I know I need change and get a fresh start etc. but I don’t exactly know how. I don’t know whether this means I need to distance myself from certain people or places that aren’t good from me but I know that I need to work on myself. I need to really think about what I want, my own personal goals and desires and where I really want to go with my life. I have so many fears and normally writing helps me express these fears but right now it’s kind of making me more confused and scared. 

I know I’m hiding and I’ve decided I’m not going to do that anymore. 

So just for future reference; my name is Lauren Parkin, I’m 19 years old and I'm ready for some answers.

Hold Me Back.


"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." - Bob Marley 

So I know it's been a while since my last post...I really do struggle with trying to find not only time to write these posts, but trying to have the bravery to share something that I've created. However, this semester for one of my Uni classes we had to write a 200 word review on a live event, I chose the Ruben's Hold Me Back Tour from a few months back and I'm really happy with how it turned out so I thought I would share it here! 

You know that Eminem song that goes “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…” I feel like that describes how I feel when I go to concerts. You’re crushed against hundreds of other people, gasping for a breath of fresh air and you’re covered in sweat that’s not even yours; but you don’t care because the adrenaline rush, is one of the best feelings in the world.
I was squished between two of my best mates, standing on my tip toes and my heart’s pounding. The whole room goes black and I’m swept up in the mass of people trying to get closer. The stage comes alive and I’m blinded by a flash of white as the first chord comes through the speakers. The Rubens are one of those rare bands that sound better live their recordings. Every song had my eyes glued to the stage, belting out the lyrics completely off-key and in sync with the rest of the audience. 
As cheesy as it sounds, in that exact moment I realised that the reason why I love live gigs so much; they make you feel alive. Even though I could barely see, every song better sounded than the one before. Then they played Hoops, the crowd was screaming every single word and moving in complete unison. When you become apart of something like that, I think it sticks with you. That unexplainable feeling like you’ve become part of something bigger. It was the perfect end to one of my all time favourite gigs. 


Image: The Music - Images 



"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you hadn't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it." - Steve Jobs

Inspiration is something that comes and goes. Sometimes I feel like I just hit a wall and then I'm so stuck I can't bring myself to write or shoot anything because I am so uninspired. It all builds up, and I feel like I can't handle the pressure. The pressure to live up to your past work, to continue to improve each time and the pressure that you are never going to be good enough. 

The past couple of months I drafted post after post after post, even the past week I just haven't been able to bring myself to finish anything. I just never felt like nothing would ever be good enough to get me back in the game. And it's not like I don't have anything to say anymore, because I have so many topics that I would love to write about, and have that begun but not finished. I just don't really know where to go from here.

When I was little I told my mum that I wanted to be a writer and she said, you can be a writer if you want, but you won't eat. And you know what, to this day I've never forgotten that. I was so young and so easily influenced that I immediately decided that writing wouldn't be the career for me and focussed my attention on becoming a teacher, a PR agent, a lawyer and pretty much every other career under the sun. One small comment from someone who meant a lot to me made me give up on my dream. Since then I've grown about ten years older and gained a lot of perspective, I've realised that just because something might not make you the most money, doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. Right now, if I had forced myself I could be studying a Law or Business degree, only to sit in an office for the rest of my life and that's just not me. I'm not a suit and tie kind of girl where you do as you're told and don't have a say. Whilst in every job there is always times when you have to keep your mouth shut and put your head down, but there is a difference.

Ellen Johnson Sirlead said that if your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough, whilst I love this quote and say it to myself every time I have any sense of doubt sometimes I do wonder if my dreams are too big. Maybe I should listen to my mum and those that keep you grounded, but at the time time fear of failure has a lot more power over me than fear of of my dreams. So I've discovered the key to most things, is the ability to fake it till you make it.

Whilst I do have big dreams and big plans I do carry around a fear of failure. If writing is something that I want to do, then why not do it. I know I say this every time I have a break and then start writing again, but I want to try and write more. I want to express my feelings and viewpoints in a way that is not harmful to anyone and hopefully go somewhere with this, because at the end of the day what's the harm. 

Whilst you need to have confidence in your own work and ability, there is a fine line between cockiness and confidence and I find the more I delve into the creative world, the more I discover there are so many people who just like me are so deeply insecure about their work but have developed the ability to fake confidence and cockiness so well you can't even tell. It's to the point where I've noticed that some people are so deeply insecure, that it causes conflict. Whilst I do have insecurities about my work and I do experience a lack of inspiration I'd like to think I have the ability to get around this. That even though sometimes I do get anxious and scared, that I can do this. I can be a creative person.

I find there are difficulties that come along with being stamped as a creative person, you're putting yourself in a category where there are many stereotypes. For me, the creative industry keeps me inspired, forces me to grow and makes me a better person, for many people it's nothing like that. They see the creative industry as a place full of stoners and eccentrics, destined to make no money. And this is a stereotype that we must carry around with us. On my second week as an Intern at a photography studio, my boss told me to take everything said with a grain of salt, and whilst I do not really understand this expression I feel like it's useful advice to pass on for those wishing to enter this industry. Whether you're Dorothy or Alice stepping into a new world can be terrifying and you will feel challenged everyday, but trust me, it's a lot of fun. 

Fear of failure is something we all live with. We all carry around with us, and we all struggle with. Sometimes you just don't know how to deal with it. Whether you're struggling with writers block, lacking inspiration or just missing something in your life; it's not always a bad thing to just step back and take a breath. Try something new, trying something old, keep your mind busy and eventually you'll be able to make the right decision and what you need will come to you.

At the end of the day, I really do believe hard work and passion is the key to success and happiness.


Image: Shot by me.