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Dear Swansea University

Wow, where to begin. I'm still on a high, if I'm honest - I graduated this week and I'm still smiling and in genuine shock. I'm not used to waking up and seeing my degree on my wall (yes, I'm that extra that I frame it, and no, I'm not sorry).

If I were to be completely honest, I didn't think I'd ever graduate. I always told myself I wasn't smart enough to be there and I doubted my abilities academically. The last three years have changed my perspective on so many things, I can't even begin to comprehend it.

It was a surreal moment, waiting in the auditorium and waiting in the wings before my name was called. I was shaking like a leaf, but I was smiling. After the amount of times I've been told I couldn't do something, I actually did it. Going to university took so much choice and thought, because dealing with horrific anxiety made this choice so difficult for me. Numerous times in first year I contemplated dropping out and not going back, but there was something in my head telling me to stay. I followed that feeling, and I have no regrets.

What has being in university taught me?

 In numerous ways,  it's taught me so many different things that I'm forever thankful for. 

Academically, university taught me:
  •  How to manage time effectively (for the most part, I still definitely did essays the day before...)
  • To not have majorly high expectations. I'm only one person with one brain, and I can't expect myself to get everything perfect. I'm human, I'll make mistakes!
  • So many transferable life skills that I use now in my job
  • That I doubted my educational abilities so much

On a personal level, university taught me:

  • That no matter how hard things would get, I had an amazing support network and if I just speak out, I can be heard.
  • Friends are so important! You can't go through 2-5 years of university without a good friend network. It makes things so much easier (especially when you're all stressing about work and message them with 'pub' every two seconds until it works)
  • That sharing your feelings makes a problem seem less big

I won't sugar coat it: the last 3 years have been hard for me, academically, emotionally and mentally. If you're a reader of my blog, you'll know this. I've been faced with so many challenges of various difficulties and through the hardships, I've come out the other end. I'm happier than ever, my confidence has soared... It's like I'm a different person compared to the shy and anxious first year I was. I didn't expect university to be easy, but I was willing to fight and put the effort in needed to be where I am. I cannot thank my university, course leaders, personal tutor, family and friends enough for everything they've done for me, from the long video calls home, to having essay meetings that were mainly chats about random things and personal life. It's been an extremely life changing experience, and I wouldn't have changed my time at Swansea University for anything.

The pride I have in myself at the minute is overwhelming. People may not think graduating is a big deal, but to me it's meant everything. I put myself down so much, and even others have put me down. This just goes to show that I can do things if I put my mind to them, and I'm bloody good at persevering and giving things my all.

I'm proud to say that I'm a graduate. Swansea will always be another home to me, wherever I am in the world and wherever life takes me.

Thank-you Swansea University, you've been incredible.

What 21 years has taught me

It's been three months and eight days since I turned 21, and thinking about it, I feel like the last 21 years have taught me quite important lessons.

When I was younger, all I dreamed of was wondering who I'd turn out to be. What career would I be doing? Who would I meet? What experiences would happen? I had so many questions and I couldn't wait to grow up. Fast forward to 2017, I was 20 years old and honestly? I was terrified to grow up.

The thought of not having school or university to (sort of) guide what I was doing, who I'd be around is a bit scary, especially when if you think about it: you wake up, do what you need to do... I feel like there is so much free reign for someone who isn't in education. You can pick to do full time jobs and not worry about lecture attendance and assignments (I mean... Unless you're a lecturer, of course), and you're making decisions 100% yourself and maybe not having something to guide you (when to get up, what to eat) - you sort of do it out of instinct.

21, for me, is an age where (if you're a student like me), it's a landmark in your final year of university, and it makes me feel as though this is the year where I'm going to 'have to adult' (as I say).

The last 21 years of my life have been a rollercoaster. Happiness, bereavement, exhaustion, heartbreak, surprise... It's all happened. Today, I really wanted to share with you, on the day of  my birth, what being alive for 21 years has taught me.

What you see as important now, may not be in the future

This is a big one for me, because I always sweat the small stuff. I always overthink and think of the worst in situations. Granted, I feel like I've gotten way better for this (although some may disagree, if you know me well enough, that is). The worries I constantly have are: How much money have I spent? How much do I need to last me until (insert date)? I need to get this piece of work done before (date) but I'm too exhausted to do it, What job am I going to get after this?

While these may worry me now, I know (probably) at some point in the future, these worries will make me think 'what the hell was all that for?'. I don't want to spend my entire life worrying about things that may not be that big of a deal. I want to have fun, live my life and do the things I want to do.

If they don't like you, 'sod the lot of them'

A phrase my Gramps taught me a long time ago, but it's true. I used to spend too much time worrying what others thought of me, that I felt like I was losing myself in that time. It wasn't a nice process to go through, especially when I'd look in the mirror and honestly not recognise my true self. It's taken me until recently to not care how I look, what I act like, who sees me doing these things and what the outcome is.

Family and friends are so important

I can't agree with this statement more than I already do. I've gone through a lot of... Difficult (shall we say) periods in my life, where they've been so exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically that wanting to withdraw and give up were actual options I had considered. Without the love and support of my family and my friends, I don't think I'd have developed into this now-21 year old person I am now, laying on a bed in my university room.

My mum in particular is a person who's strength, loyalty and love I am in constant awe of in every single second of my life. I have never met someone so compassionate, strong and optimistic. I'm glad she is finally happy with what is happening in her life.

It does get better

One which may seem like a cliche, but it's true. I've been through horrific periods of anxiety (numerous kinds) and depression, and they've been my demons. I felt like they were constantly living in my shadow and that they'd never leave. I could never speak to people unless they spoke to me first, I used to hate leaving my bed, I didn't like attention on me and I also really struggled to make friends. 

I now work in retail where I'm talking to customers from 3 to 6 hours per shift, doing presentations does not phase me in the slightest, I like going out on nights out with my university friends (oh, I do actually have some!), and I step out my comfort zone with things like: hair colour/style, make-up and fashion. I haven't a bad mental health day since June 2017, so 8 months it'll have been. I've had my times where I've been a bit upset about something (which I won't be discussing as it has been posted on the blog), but I've brought myself out of it very quickly and carried on.

There's more to life than body image.

While, yes, I am very focused on my fitness, I do realise that there's more to life than just being fit and healthy. My personality, intelligence, connections and many more are aspects of my life and aspects of me which I see as way more important. I have struggled with body image for most of my life, due to being bullied and have low self confidence/esteem, but now I'm really happy with how I look and I don't want to change things drastically.

Self love comes first, no matter the circumstances

I've been in situations where I've had so much self doubt and nerves about everything, that socialising was a huge deal to me. I had little amounts of love for myself and didn't care much for myself. This made things a bit difficult, especially when relationships are concerned. The phrase RuPaul says 'If you can't love yourself, how in the hell can you love somebody else?' really helps me reflect. If you can't be 100% comfortable and happy with yourself, how can you put love and affection into relationships?

Good things take time

It's a harsh truth to say that in life, nobody has it perfect or positive twenty four, seven. There are going to be things that get in the way of what you're doing and they may knock you back. I had (to put it lightly), a brutal, never-ending shit-show for a good few years in a row. Social anxiety, death, depression... It was a bit of a struggle for me. I feel like now I'm in a place where I can finally say I'm happy with: a) what I'm doing, b) who's in my life, and c) myself. 

For someone who has struggled with mental health problems from their teens into early adulthood, I can comfortably say that I'm fine now. In no way am I trying to boast about not having issues with my mental health, because let's be honest, it's relieving to read when someone who has been dealing with the same stuff as you is getting over it, and also: mental health problems don't go away permanently. 

There has been times where I've been anxious (like for my two job interviews I had late last year), I've felt a bit depressed (due to really bad night sleeps, thankfully I'm over those!). I'm happy that it's taken me 21 years to feel at ease, because I know in myself when I can feel anxiety or depression rearing their ugly heads my way, and I've got the knowledge to sit down and say 'no, I'm in control, not you'.

A smile can change someone's day

When you think about it, simple things like a smile or a cheery 'hello' can really mane someone's day. I've learned this as a retail worker, as chatting to customers, engaging in what they're saying and genuinely being interested in what they have to say really does make them feel better. Today, for instance, I served a customer, and not only 2 hours later was I sat next to them on the bus on the way home. 

We had a 20 minute conversation about his family, my university degree, his trips away and working away in Germany. He commented on how nice it was to have someone 'young' be genuinely interested in what he had to say, and he also said it made his day. It made mine too, because I feel like we should make more of an effort to talk to people. I know it's easier said than done, if you're either: not a fan of talking to people, deal with social anxiety/shyness, but even the title says a smile could change the day for someone.

This post was a bit of a lengthy one, but to be fair, I have been off the radar for over three months! I'm so happy to be back blogging, and I really hope you enjoyed reading this post.

What are some life lessons you've learned? Do you stick by them? Let me know in the comments, and let's have a discussion!

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @chloemtommo, Instagram: @chloetommo and Bloglovin.
Have an amazing day!

Making Memories with Printiki*

For me, taking photos is a must. I don't just mean 'selfies', but I love to capture lovely memories as they happen to keep forever. I know people say "I'll remember this forever", but that's not always the case. Whenever a happy moment happens, I bring out the camera to ensure that the memory does stay alive forever.

My camera roll on my photo (and my Google Drive) are filled to the brim of photos, from random occasions such as: going out for a meal with friends, having a fun night out with them, with my family members, my animals... The list goes on and on. It's all well and good to have the photos on your phone/camera, or online, but I love having them physically.

The lovely people at Printiki got in contact with me a while ago, and I couldn't resist. There are so many ways to have your photos printed/presented, so I tried to go for something a bit different. The prints I had made were 20 medium sized prints with a polaroid design and a glossy finish*. 

Personally, I'm a major fan of having photos designed like a polaroid, as it gives it a 'vintage' feel, but also allows for you to write on the bottom - something which I will be doing in the near future.

I must admit, I did take a little bit of inspiration from Love, Maisie for how to arrange my photos, because I was just going to have them stuck to the wall. I wanted to do something different, and Maisie's post on her DIY Bump to Baby photo wall was literal genius.

I changed up the idea slightly and my mum purchased these fairy lights, where the lights also have clear, plastic pegs attached to them (perfect for attaching photos!). I fell in love as soon as she gave me them, even though she was saving them for Christmas. The photos from Printiki and these fairy lights are the perfect combo, as it gives a different edge to having photos displayed, but also helps create a warming atmosphere for your bedroom, living room or wherever you want to put your photos.

A lot of the reason I wanted to get photos printed as because in the Summer of this year, my family dog who we had for 11 years unfortunately passed away very suddenly, so I wanted to get photos printed of her (not as a memorial, but more of a memory wall). Sadly, I realised that there aren't too many photos of her, because I wanted to have her life from puppy to adult, so I wouldn't have been able to fill the fairy light wall.

So instead, I decided to keep it as a memory wall, but to have my most favoured memories. She is included on the wall a few times, but so are me and my friends, my family, and my new puppy, Evie. I prefer having it this way, as I know I'd get upset if I saw a lot of photos of my old dog, so I kept the photos of her to a minimum (she's in 2 of the 20).

Another way I've presented the photos is to have them around my wardrobe/mirror in my university bedroom. The person who had my university bedroom before me did the same idea, and I thought it was a really good idea. I currently have 5 photos on there, as they didn't fit onto the fairy lights (as I wanted to have a photo, then a space). Currently, there is some Christmas tinsel around them, but after Christmas I'll change it up and put some fairy lights up which are on a copper string (found in Primark!)

I can't wait to get more photos from Printiki, as I've never been so happy with the quality of photos in my entire life. I've printed out photos before, and I haven't been too happy with the quality or size, but I'm so happy that Printiki cater for that. Their website is so easy to use as well, and I think from the time of uploading to having the order placed, it took me about 5 minutes.

The website also allows you to resize your photos as well as being able to rotate them, which I think is a really good idea, and also allows you to have photos exactly how you want them. As well as this, you can upload photos from your phone, computer or even your social media accounts, like Facebook and Instagram. 

How handy is that?!

Fancy grabbing yourself some photos like I've mentioned above AND also getting free shipping? Head over to Printiki and when you're in the checkout process, use the code 8JPYZXPY.

I want to thank Printiki for getting in contact with me to work with them, it was so lovely and I'm very happy with the result.

*Please note that even though I did work with the company mentioned, the comments and opinions made throughout this blog post have been my own, and I have not been paid/made a deal to say positive comments.*

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @chloemtommo, Instagram: @chloetommo and Bloglovin.
Have an amazing day!

Fitbit: Why I took the plunge

I've been debating back and forth in my head for honestly about a year and a half on whether or not I should purchase a FitBit. I know numerous people that own them, but as much as they would go on and tell me how good they were, I wasn't hooked. I kind of viewed them as pointless to own, and didn't really see the obsession with step counting. I mean, that's what pedometers are for, right? I have the Health app on my phone which records my steps, I didn't particularly care for checking how good or bad I slept. However, my mind has changed.

I guess the reason I didn't particularly care too much for fitness trackers was because I wasn't too into fitness, but now I have the bug (or plague, I should say) for it, I am literally obsessed.

If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you'll know that during the summer, I took the plunge and purchased a FitBit. The one I went for was a Charge 2 in black, and honestly? I'm in love. I did debate between the Charge 2, Charge HR, Surge and Alta, but I finally set on the Charge 2 after major temptation (thanks Maisie!).

Why did I change my mind?

One reason as to why I took the plunge was because I don't always have my phone on me, so I'd be missing out on my steps. This sounds kind of a silly reason to purchase a fitness tracker, but I like the exact amounts of workouts to be as accurate as possible, hence why I wanted a FitBit. I know it's not going to be 100% accurate to the step, but it'll be close, and obviously closer than when I don't have my phone on me.

It can record your heart rate (I'm quite interested in this as I like to see how it changes whilst I exercise and I'm determined to get my resting heart rate down to 'athlete' level, which I'm almost at), total distance travelled, calories burnt, stairs climbed and minutes of exercise. I like that it's more than just a pedometer, and when you've not really been moving too much, your FitBit will vibrate and give you a nudge to do a few steps to bump up your overall daily score. You have an app which accompanies your FitBit, and you get weekly emails on your progress. It's a whole system that for me, I think is fab.

Another reason why I now own a FitBit is because I think over the last 3/4 of a year, my sleeping pattern has changed erratically. It varied from about 2-4 hours a night to 11-13, it was crazy. With the help of my FitBit, it lets me know exactly when I fall asleep and when I wake up, which I find absolutely incredible to be honest. Over the summer, my average amount of sleep was 7.5 hours, which is a perfect amount for me - any more and I'll have a headache all day, any less and I'll be exhausted all day. My FitBit lets me know if I've had enough sleep, if I've been wearing it too loose while sleeping and exactly how long I spent in each sleep stage (which personally, I find majorly interesting).

There is also a feature to add friends and you can do daily/weekly challenges for steps, and you can also cheer on your friends with their progress. I think it's a nice addition to the whole FitBit thing, as it's a bit of a healthy competition, and if you've smashed a goal, your chummies can congratulate you. If that's not a confidence booster, I don't know what is. I am in some weekly competitions with other bloggers, and seeing how many steps they do inspires me to push forward and achieve higher.

One feature I also like on the FitBit, is that if you turn on your Bluetooth and the notifications option, your calls and text messages will appear on your FitBit. You can't answer them (at least on my FitBit you can't), but I think it adds even more usefulness, and I'll like this feature for when I'm in a lecture and I don't have my phone on my desk, so if I do get a call or a text, I'll be notified.

The more steps you take and stairs you climb, you earn badges and trophies. I didn't think much of it at the time, but it lets you look back on your progress. I was quite surprised to see what I had achieved since owning my FitBit, and it did give me a sense of pride and I felt like I had achieved quite a bit regarding fitness and my health.

Am I happy about taking the plunge?

100% yes. I don't regret my purchase at all, and I'd recommend a FitBit to anyone. If the price scares you a little bit, maybe try a cheaper alternative first before taking the plunge for a FitBit. There are a variety of prices for FitBits, but obviously it does depend on your budget and the higher the price, the more things you can do with it.

Do you own a FitBit? Have you been contemplating it and aren't sure? Let me know in the comments and let's have a discussion!

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @chloemtommo, Instagram: @chloetommo and Bloglovin.
Have an amazing day!

Healthy Snacks with Acti-Snack *

A lot of the time when I'm craving for a snack, I usually want something savoury or something 'unhealthy'. I did want to get into more of a health snack, because I find that my cravings are usually for foods that I know I shouldn't really eat constantly. I do have protein cookies, brownies (and the occasional pack of peanuts or cashews), but I honestly feel like my healthy snack struggle is now over.

The lovely team at Acti-Snack got in contact with me a little while ago and they sent me over some samples of their products, and I must admit - I was very excited.

So, who are Acti-Snack?

For those of you who don't know, Acti-Snack is a "delicious new range of natural dried fruit, nut and seed snacks which maximise on the intrinsic values of each ingredient to meet individual sporting nutrition objectives - carbohydrates for fuel, a combination of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates for endurance or protein for recovery - perfect for those who lead an active lifestyle."

When the package arrived, I wasn't expecting many samples because I'm not the kind of person who expects to be given a lot when it comes to samples. However, when I opened the package, I was so surprised at their generosity. I was in actual shock with how many things I had been sent, and I was happy that there was a lot of variety there.

The products that I were sent were:

  • a bag of Nut mix
  • food bars (in a variety of flavours: fruit, nut & golden berry, fruit & seed, fruit, nut & soya and cacao, cashew & cranberry)
  • 2 bags of nuts (almonds and cashews)
  • little snack bags (in a variety of flavours: fruit, nut & cacao, fruit, nut & seed, fruit nut & soya)

I'm very thankful that they took time to send me a variety of their products, giving a variety of different flavours for me to try. As someone who is into fitness and finds that sometimes a bit of fruit is a little bit boring to have for a snack (or sometimes I don't find it appealing), I now have the chance to try out something new, and to coax me into eating some snacks that are good for me, and I can reach for something healthy as opposed to a bag of crisps or a little bit of chocolate.


I absolutely love nuts, so I'm very happy that a lot of these products do contain them, as they are one of my favourite snacks to reach for. I know the little bags of almonds or cashews will do me good when I'm in a lecture in uni and I need a boost, or at home writing my dissertation and need something to have a munch on.

The sizes of each product are so handy, as they're easy to put in your bag or to carry on the go and you've got yourself a healthy snack there waiting for you. Out of all the products, my favourites are: the Nut Mix, the bag of cashews, the fruit, nut & soya snack packs and the fruit, nut & cranberry bar. I'm yet to try any more of the other products, as there are some ingredients I'm not too much of a fan of (e.g. banana and raisins), but I'm willing to give them a try to say that I've tried it, or to see if my tastebuds have changed.

I can definitely say that their products have helped curb my 'unhealthy' snack cravings, and I do find their products to be quite moreish, even when I'm trying to be sparing until I purchase more of the products I love by Acti-Snack.

Will I be purchasing Acti-Snack in the future?

Definitely. I have browsed their website, and I like the fact they do multi-packs at a decent price on their store. It leaves me feeling happy that I won't be ripped off. Price wise, it reminds me of Graze and their products you can purchase in supermarkets, and a someone who is a fan of Graze, I don't mind paying the price for Acti-Snack, because a) their products are good for you, b) taste great and c) I don't feel guilty for eating them as a snack.

Once again, I'd like to say a huge thank-you to everyone at Acti-Snack for showing me about their brand, as well as their generosity with the products they sent me.

I hope you've enjoyed this post, and perhaps may check out Acti-Snack and see for yourselves what their products are like! Have you ever tried Acti-Snack before? Were you a fan of their products like I am? What are your go-to health snacks? Let me know in the comments and let's have a discussion!

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @chloemtommo, Instagram: @chloetommo and Bloglovin.
Have an amazing day!

* This is a PR post. The views and comments made by myself on this blog and any of my social media accounts are non-biased and I can confirm I have not been paid to say things that are untrue.