What is writing to me?

Writing is a pain in the arse.

Writing, to me, is feeling absolutely overwhelmed even though your mind is completely empty. It’s feeling like you’re in a fight with your brain because you can’t find the words you want to put out there. It’s fighting with your brain because you feel too stupid to articulate what you want to say. Fighting because you’ve been itching for hours to do the only thing you thought you were good at. It’s the writers block that has been going on for days, for weeks, for months. It’s feeling that now you haven’t been able to write anything for a day, you probably won’t be able to write anything for a week. It’s feeling like the person who wrote stories when you were younger is not the same person, because you can’t pull out the motivation or imagination that was able to create so much back then. It’s having a white, blank page glare back at you for so long that the screen warps and it feels like the icons and buttons are laughing at you. It’s watching the word count flicker back and forth as you dislike what you wrote five minutes after finally typing it out. It’s frowning so hard and tapping at your skin in hopes this will force words out.

It’s envying the people who didn’t struggle with the class coursework, it’s feeling like you might not have the capability that everyone else has. It’s worrying that you’ll never be able to move anyone with your writing. That your prose will never give anyone goosebumps. That your poetry will never make anyone’s heart throb. It’s watching words repeat and getting sick of them. It’s trying to bring new words into your vocabulary and second guessing yourself because you’re not sure they fit well. It’s like having a puzzle dumped in a moving river and trying to gather it all together but losing parts one by one as they get pulled into a whirlpool full of everything you’re stressing about. It’s laughing at your own metaphors because anybody with common sense could think of a better one. Writing is feeling like everything you want to say and everything that comes from the heart is dissolving as soon as the idea even passes your mind. Writing is feeling there’s no point to even note your idea down because you’ll instantly find flaws in it.

But writing is also the best skill I have in my life.

Writing is therapy. It’s finally unscrewing the overflowing, pressurized bottles inside and letting all the bubbly mixture pour away into a delicious mixture. It’s knowing that sometimes the words you manage to scrap together will flow beautifully and sit comfortably just like the feeling of sitting in front of a cosy fire in the winter. It’s finishing a long piece of coursework and feeling satisfied because you did that. You put all your heart and soul into it. Writing is getting the anger out. It’s letting yourself breath, it’s unfastening the frown in your eyebrows and letting your hands exercise. It’s distracting yourself from the defeated feeling, it’s distracting yourself from the stressed feeling. It’s proving to yourself that you’ve gotten better and stronger than you were when you were younger. Writing is having people tell you that they love your writing. It’s having people tell you that something you wrote related to them hard. It’s seeing your poetry at an exhibition, it’s your tutor telling you that your ideas would be publishing material, it’s having people tell you that they can’t wait to see you become the writer you’ve always wanted to be. It’s sticking at your blog for three whole years through heavy depression, through manipulation, through bullying, through bad jobs, through the low confidence. It’s knowing you have proof to show you survived and that you kept doing what you loved. It’s living life and seeing beauty in a sweet coffee you had on the commute to work or the song of a gorgeous bird making you smile on a walk home. It’s keeping all these feelings, these memories, these glimmers of hope and knowing one day you’ll be able to express them in so many different ways whether it’s a poem, a children’s book or a blog post.

Writing is knowing you have a voice and using it for great things.

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Dealing with the world when you feel too small to do anything: part 2 of ?

A weird thing I sometimes do when it’s late at night and I’m having a case of bad anxiety or even if I can feel a small bubble of nervousness in my tummy is make a cup of herbal tea and a bowl of dry cereal. I’m a weird person in which I’ve never liked milk on cereal (unless it’s a chocolate cereal like Weetos – that’s an exception) so the dry cereal isn’t really out of the ordinary to me except that I’m sat at my computer at midnight or even later nibbling on cheerios and feeling a little bit more jittery than usual. But for some reason a dry, carb-y food like a bowl of cereal calms me a little bit.

I didn’t want these series of posts to come out of writing when I’m anxious but they feel a lot more genuine when I do because not only does writing them calm me down but I honestly feel I can express my points or give my advice better when I can imagine what any other person feeling anxious like me might even slightly feel like. That’s the thing with some anxious moments or days – once they’ve passed the experience can be quite fuzzy in our minds and they don’t feel as severe as they did when you try and explain them later. I always had this problem with explaining anxiety to my counsellor, in my worst anxiety attacks I’d feel so much but then a week later when a counsellor asked me to tell them how I feel I wouldn’t be able to comprehend all the feelings and physical symptoms I felt.

In this post, I don’t want to dwell on what’s gotten me in this anxious mood but I wanted to share some more tips on what to do when you’re like this. Last time I mostly focused on how to bring ourselves out of it. To close the story/tab/media that was making us anxious, to talk our feelings through out loud or to a friend and not feel guilty for removing ourselves from whatever is inducing our anxiety, anger or upset. This time I want to give you some tips on easing that ‘there is nothing I can do’ feeling. The hopelessness feeling. Especially if you are insistent on wanting to do something.

  1. Embrace this feeling and remember this is a positive trait.

I can’t remember when I found this post via Tumblr but it’s a post that has stuck with me for a good while and I think it’s extremely important.

“you all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here.”

Now the whole quote from the writer is to do with being in college but I think the trait is very applicable to almost anyone. If you have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, it is something you should be extremely proud of. You need to embrace this feeling and remember you are one of the people this world definitely needs. Everybody should have this feeling in them because this world needs more empathy and kindness. In this day and age, social media makes it so easy for the negative, terrifying and apathetic voices to take over and be the mascot for the world. Remember that doesn’t speak for everyone. If you feel like you can’t find any kind people. Be that kind person.

2. Try and find petitions to sign.

This is honestly a thing I do and although I realise maybe it could be pointless or the very bare minimum of contributing to a protest for something, it is a small way of pushing for a step in the right direction. For some petitions, people made them personally wanting to fight for something and to add onto the many signatures they’ve already got I feel like I have contributed even in a small way and it makes me feel like I’ve done something. The petition websites I trust include Change.org and Parliament’s petition website but even if I find a petition I feel is important to sign but don’t feel comfortable signing it’s ok because you shouldn’t increase your anxiety. If you need to make a backup email for petitions then do that or only sign petitions that don’t request postcodes.

3. Spread awareness on your social media

Now the important thing with this tip is not falling for the dodgy, non-reliable articles that may have even caused your anxiety in the first place. If you find a petition for an important cause, share it on Facebook or Twitter to see if your friends sign it too. If there is a vote coming up soon, make sure to share information on how to register to vote and polling station rules on your social media to encourage others to vote. The important thing about this step is that you are spreading awareness to stories or also giving people ideas on what to do to work towards a better future so you are doing something towards it. (On some social media there are add-ons to blacklist certain topics so, on Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter maybe tag any articles you share if you are worried about upsetting any anxiety in your friends!)

4. Look into volunteering or groups you can join to be active

Now, this tip might not be for everyone or even possible for everyone due to everybody having different lives. Some people might not have the spare time or money to volunteer or some people may feel too anxious or uncomfortable to join a group of strangers but if you feel you want to do something active towards a kinder, nicer future – try looking into volunteering or groups! If you are on the political side and want to contribute to a party you believe in there is a lot of opportunities for supporters in the UK to do so, I think it’s also quite easy in Universities where there will be societies like Labour societies or Green party societies. If your anxiety sits somewhere in environmental, maybe google to see if there are litter-picking/beach clean up groups to join. Perhaps if you just, in general, want to contribute to being a better person look into volunteering at an animal sanctuary, charity shops, brownies/scouts groups or at a youth group! Do-It is a great website to try and find volunteering opportunities near you!

Finally, my last point I want to make, much like the last post, is don’t feel stressed with yourself or guilty and take your time. The main lesson here is that we want to relieve your anxiety and move past it because you need to let your body and brain realise it can’t do a million things at once, it can’t save the world and the world does not rest on your shoulders individually. You are just a person. You are only human. Even doing small things one step at a time is doing something and working towards a better future and you shouldn’t push yourself any harder than that and you should listen to your body. When you are feeling drained or overwhelmed remember to take a break and relax. Do not feel guilty.

I hope everyone enjoyed this one and has picked up even one or two tips from it.

Thank you for reading and have a lovely week,

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Dealing with the world when you feel too small to do anything: part 1 of ?

So it’d be a lie if I said the world isn’t having it’s dark moments lately. Everyone knows what and who I mean. Tyrant leaders, governments falling apart and showing instability, cuts to things that are there to help people live normally, environmental problems, every day there will be a sad news story and at least every month it seems something bad happens.

I decided to start writing this post and maybe possibly turn it into a series of posts, because I know what it’s like to be paralyzed at your computer or phone in fear and scared by the news. The way my anxiety goes about it normally goes like this: I check twitter, I’ll go on the moments and if something dramatic has happened in either the world or politics, I will click on it and read the usual news websites (BBC, Guardian etc.) that come up first. Then I will go onto the tabloids that aren’t known to be trustworthy but in my state of anxiety my brain is believing anything and wants to know every corner of the situation in case it can find something to calm itself down, this goes on and on as people’s comments come in and the situation is drawn out and escalated – people argue, people bring up other things to prove their point, people have conspiracies and different theories and it all vigourously whirls around my brain like a tornado and I normally end up in a state of sitting, physically shaking at my computer, feeling like I’m about to throw up and feeling absolutely helpless and unsafe.

And yet every natural disaster, every terrorist attack, every dodgy thing a world leader does, every joke/meme about the apocalypse, even obvious propaganda – the cycle of anxiety starts. People close to me know about this and the answers I get always dwell to ‘don’t read it/stop reading it/turn your phone off and distract yourself.’. When I’m in my state of anxiety, I’m convinced keeping up to date with not only the story, but every randomers comment on Twitter or response to news articles, is somehow keeping me safe? That whilst my body is in flight or fight mode, that somehow keeping my brain focused on what’s making me panic is preparing my body for any danger. Yes, even over random tweets of politicians arguing about how they feel about Brexit or such. Hell, I’ll admit even the recent satire, comedy Sacha Boran Cohen has released ‘This is America’ (which despite what I’m about to say, I strongly recommend everyone watches it) left me in a spiral because in his show his extremist, pro-gun character he puts on manages to get people in Congress to admit they think arming young children would be a good idea? It’s bloody smart because it’s showing the world the true attitude of these people who are in great power but it left me in a spiral because I felt helpless that there’s nothing I could do to further expose these people or maybe even do anything to push their careers to a deserving downfall? I was scared about how people in the US government think.

But, I know deep down, it is not healthy nor safe to do this to myself. It is also not good for me or anyone around me to just give in and give up. To become a shell of complete pessimism and hopelessness, especially now. And I know there is plenty of people who may not fall into absolute anxiety and panic attack frenzy like I do, but will see news stories and fall back to ‘why care anymore’ attitudes – I can’t explain how sad or cringy it makes me feel when I’ve seen people say they’re not voting because ‘there is no point’, or claim protests ‘don’t do anything’. I remember once I called out an old friend back in high school on littering and she just said to me ‘who cares global warming is happening anyways’. It breaks my heart and spirit. But I refuse to give up completely, I want to help anyone who ever feels like this. I want to give even the smallest bit of hope to someone. I want to encourage people to try and fight the negativity because we need it. Our mental health definitely needs it. Sure, we can’t change the world completely but one day all of our little actions might and what I suggest now might help someone sleep better tonight and better on days when the news just seems like a complete rainstorm.

What I say doesn’t even have to be necessary for being anxious by the news. It’s meant to be for helping you deal with reading scary things online and dealing with a feeling of hopelessness. Whether you’re reading the news, whether you saw something your friends posted online that has made you feel sad, whether something happened to you that has made you feel like it is the worst day in the world. Don’t give in to the hopelessness feeling.

  1. Step away from the computer, put the phone down or close the tab.
    That weird saying of describing something as ‘being like a car crash but you’re unable to look away’ is definitely true and it can be relevant to anything. In my case, bad world/political/environment news or maybe even obviously trash comments online. I start reading something I know from the get-go will upset me but I keep reading and reading and scrolling and I can’t look away even though I know I won’t get full closure because social media is a big, endless hole of different personalities, fake personalities, trolls, fake news, exaggerations and stories. But what you need to do right now is close the tab. Whether it’s an article proving how disappointing our country leader is or that your crush has put themselves as in a relationship on Facebook. You need to close it and take a deep breath. You’re allowed to do this.
  2. Message someone to talk out your anxiety or even just talk it through with yourself out loud.
    Your anxiety and demons can sometimes yell over you and you feel very out of control but when you start to talk your thoughts through, rant, or label what of your thoughts is irrational or unhelpful it can really help you calm down and move on maturely. I always find myself doing it when I tell my mum something has made me scared or anxious. I’ll find myself going ‘then again, that news article can’t be entirely true because of X fact’ or if it’s a personal situation ‘then again this person might not have invited me out because of X reason not because they don’t like me?’. The irrational thoughts and jumps to conclusions start to fade a bit once you talk it out. If you don’t feel comfortable going to someone, I even find it helpful to talk to myself out loud just to hear something and calm myself down.
  3. Put on something funny, heart-warming or silly.
    A cliche tip but it does help. One fun story from when I was younger, my mum tried to tell me about a space story of solar flares or something along those lines and I was too scared to let her explain the story because when I googled it, those predictable conspiracy theories that ‘this solar flare will cause the world to end’ came up like they do every space story. Obviously the moral here, I should have let my mum talk it out to me and calm my anxiety down (I was 13 here, I’ve learnt to deal with my anxiety better since) but what I did was not sleep (stupidly) but to distract myself I watched tons of reruns of Mock the Week and comedy quiz shows until I fell asleep and a day or so later I had calmed down enough to look it up again and realise they were harmless.
    So stick on your favourite movie, stick on a tv show that makes you cry laughing, even google videos of positive stories or funny stories to remind you of the good stuff in the world, play a game without violence or gore in it (or do if that doesn’t agitate anxiety/bad feelings), listen to upbeat music and see if it helps!
  4. Finally, do not feel guilty for needing to look after yourself and consider how to deal with this anxiety
    If like me, this is a common place thing that happens a lot or you find yourself having literally paralysing anxiety like I do just from looking at social media or going online – consider maybe looking into help for your anxiety because I don’t believe(I’m no expert) it is normal at all. It is normal to feel sadness and fear from bad news or from stuff that goes wrong but paralysing anxiety is not normal.
    Secondly, and I need to physically remind myself of this too, do not feel bad for taking time out for yourself or taking a break from Twitter or Facebook. A lot of misinformation gets shared on there and you need to remind yourself now that politicians, celebrities, journalists, world leaders and even just regular people can share their opinions and views online and claim it as facts and if it is causing your mental health to drain you need to separate yourself from it for a bit. If you were holding a burning pan that was burning your hand you would need to let go. This is a similar thing. I always get anxious that maybe trying to distract myself means I’m being ignorant or ‘turning a blind eye’ but you need to remember – as long as you acknowledge something needs to change and that things aren’t all howdy-doody. That there are bad things and views in the world – you aren’t being ignorant.

 

I do want to write more of these posts, to share how to invest in positive news, how to make small changes, share some good causes when I find them and suggest things for myself and others to do but for now I will leave you with that. Just some simple things to remember to start bringing yourself out of the hopelessness feeling.

Go and get yourself a glass of water and stick a funny movie on.

Thank you for reading,

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Working on my blog and online presentation

Back when I started this blog I had quite a bit of time to push out at least one blog post every week or two and since starting University it’s been very easy to let my blog fall through my finger tips and become something I check on and update maybe once a month at the most. University has been an experience that has helped me grow and definitely now in second year has helped me realise the kind of person I want to be and what I enjoy doing and how I want to come across as a person and a writer.

I’ve been lucky enough this year to have opportunities to expand my writing skills both in University and outside. I recently had an article on Culture Calling’s website GoSeeThis where I talk about independent bookshops in Manchester and have been in the works of writing another article for them that hopefully I can share soon! From University I have realised how much I can enjoy writing and researching and studying if I buckle down and find the motivation for it, which is why I’m very interested in the online aesthetic of ‘studyspo’ and the community on websites like Instagram and Tumblr that share their bullet journals and their tips for  becoming more organised and having a better study schedule. All of these little things that have been adding up over my second year have made me realise how I want to put more effort into creating an aesthetically-pleasing blog with articles and posts that obviously still capture a personal approach so I can share my own views but I also want to create posts that can advice people or recommend stuff.

I really enjoy writing recommendations for cruelty-free products or makeup or places to visit and I also enjoy writing about myself and updates about how I’m doing in university and life but I think now I need to focus this blog somewhere in particular or keep a consistent theme. I also want to be able to link my Instagram and blog together so I’m unsure whether to create a new instagram that’s mainly blog-based or not! I’m massively inspired by bloggers such as Lucy Moon, Kiera Rose and Hannah Witton, all of them have assorted outlets whether it’s a written blog, vlogging or instagram. They’re all very talented at focusing their blogging or posting around particular things and keeping it consistent but at the same time they have personal touches and talk about personal experiences and that’s how I wish I could be through my blog.

I am always open to feedback on my blog whether it be what topics people would be interested in or whether the theme is appealing. So, over the summer I am definitely going to start trying to change up my blog and make more posts with consistent themes and topics and if you enjoy the posts shared, I’d love it if you could also share them or show them to your friends! Please watch this space because I am going to try to put a lot of work into my writing and blog over summer.

Thank you for reading my ramble! Look out for some new blog posts soon!

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Books I read in 2017

Happy 2018!

I say, 20 days late! 2017 was a year of up and downs for me; majority of it was the rest of my first year at University, as well as studying I also took part in two performances with my university’s theatre company, visited Dublin and Prestatyn, went to concerts, went to my first Pride festival and lots of other happy memories. One thing I was particularly proud of in 2017 was how many books I managed to read. I’ve always loved reading since I was tiny but during high school and afterwards, I drifted away from reading as a hobby and always struggled to try to find the time and the motivation to sit down and concentrate on a book. Luckily this year, the motivation and drive suddenly came back to me and I fell back in love with reading, bookshops, libraries and literature all over again and I am so thankful for it. Unfortunately, a downside of last year is I neglected my blog massively, which I blame partly on trying to focus on University and get used to the new routine and also blame on just laziness in general but I did manage to crack out two book reviews on my blog last year! You can read them here and here!

I thought I’d share some of the books I managed to read last year and what I thought of them, as well as talk about books I plan to read this year and ones I’d like to read! This list is in no particular order and not in any particular ‘rating’ and doesn’t include every book that I read this year:

  1. Too Close to Home by Aoife Walsh

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Ironically I first mentioned this book back in a blog post in February 2016! Only took me until October 2017 to finish it! I still stand by my original thoughts that Aoife’s novel reminds me of coming of age/YA stories like Ally’s World, which I used to read back in year 7 and 8. It tells the story of Minny who lives in a big, confusing family – where the father and mother are separated and Minny feels like she has to also help take care of her younger sister, baby brother and older sister Aisling who is autistic. I also enjoyed this book because I personally felt Aoife wrote an autistic character well and didn’t draw unnatural attention to how Aisling acted in situations and such. The novel also has typical YA novel topics like family problems, crushes and bullying. Overall I did quite enjoy it, I’m not in any rush to reread it and you can definitely tell it is a young adult novel – but I still enjoyed it and I’m very glad I finally finished it!

2. We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

After finishing this novel I was completely enamoured by it and the concepts discussed/implied in the story. Not spoiling any twists or big plot points but the story eventually brings up the question of humanity in animals, specifically primates and if they can remember family and if similar bonds between family members can be shown between a human and primate. The story was so surprising and different to other books I have read that once I hit a particular chapter or point in the book where a lot of things became revealed, I found myself glued to the book – not wanting to put it down. I’d love to read another book of Karen Joy Fowler’s as this novel is probably the book of 2017 that brought me back into reading regularly.

3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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I now actually claim this novel as my favourite book, that is how much I enjoyed it. Not only that, I absolutely adore Ishiguro’s style of writing and when I found out that he had won the Nobel prize in Literature I was so proud to be a fan of his work because he is so talented and definitely deserves the prize. I went into detail about Never Let Me Go on a previous review on my blog, but let me tell you – this book has such a natural, raw narration from the main character that you find emotions hitting you for hours after you’ve finished the story.

4. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall was included on one of my University module reading lists, and that is actually how I ended up reading it but the story was so real and impactful that I ended up sitting for hours not putting my kindle down because I needed to know what happened. I will warn that the story’s themes largely include mental health, schizophrenia, depression, suicide and death. The main protagonist had his flaws and parts of him that you’d find yourself reading and wanting to argue or yell at him but other times you’d pity him. In some parts of the novel, I found myself getting goosebumps because of how blunt and honest the character was and how dark the story could get. But I felt this was good writing because it didn’t romanticize mental health disorders, it didn’t paint them as something that one day would be magically cured, it showed how bleak it could be. That it could happen to anyone, that the symptoms can be far and near from what people expect. In general, I definitely recommend this book because it is so powerful and so well written.

I’m currently trying to power through Jane Austen’s Emma. I do love Austen’s stories and her writing, but sometimes when I’m tired it does take a couple of going over the same paragraph again to try and take in what happened in the scene and sometimes I mix characters up – but I am enjoying it and plan to finish it! Other books I have in my book box ready to read include

  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
  • Georgia, Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
  • Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

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So wish me luck! Hopefully I can read way more books this year than I did last! Feel free to share what books you loved in 2017, or any 2018 releases you are looking forward to!

I am also on GoodReads if you’d like to give me a follow!

Thanks for reading,

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phone photography adventures and Easter laziness

Hey guys, long time no talk!

Lately I’ve been really missing blogging, art and just general hobbies I used to enjoy. That’s the annoying side of University life mixed with depression, it’s so easy to drop completely off the map when it comes to things that I really used to enjoy doing. Luckily I’m in the middle of a good 2-3 weeks off University and it’s been a mix of good and bad to my schedule. The first bad bit is that I’ve completely lost my sleeping pattern; maybe I didn’t have a good one in the first place but over the course of a week or two it’s definitely gone a bit tipsy. Although the bonus of being awake at 4am with your boyfriend watching Netflix and playing video games is you get to see how pretty the world is when it’s the dead of night. Especially in Manchester.

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I’ve been really enjoying taking photos lately. Now I’m definitely no photographer or skilled, especially with the fact all I have is my shoddy iPhone SE and editing apps/Photoshop – but it’s been something I’ve been doing a lot when I’m out of the house. Me and Will have been on three or four lovely walks during the Easter break which has given me a great chance to take some nice photos and it’s made me want to start doing photography again. Maybe fool around more with photo editing or even create some mixed media pieces if I can ever kick my butt back into art/drawing.

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Visiting Wythenshawe park provided me with a lot of lovely photos! We visited the Community Farm they have there so I got to see a lot of the adorable animals on the farm. Admittedly seeing the cows in their barn made me feel a little bit sad because it was hard to tell if they were happy or upset being there but a lot of the animals on the farm seemed very calm and were eating/just finished being fed.

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As well as picnics in parks and going for walks, I’ve been mostly lazing around playing video games. Persona 5 is my go-to game at the moment which I thoroughly recommend to anybody looking for a new PS4 game to play! It’s also available on PS3. It’s super unique and if you’re a fan of the Persona series, it’s definitely a step up from 4 and with a lot more gripping, darker storyline. The characters are super lovable and you’ll get instantly attached to them like I did. I’d also recommend it if you’re a fan of games like Pokemon or Final Fantasy because of the fighting and collecting monster themes but for anyone who enjoys games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age since they have a role-playing side to it where you can make personal choices to your game with some sides of it.

I hope everyone is having a lovely Easter holiday and I shall be back soon with another post!

Thanks for reading,

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