Behind The Screens
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by Elise Liddell

Illustration by the talented Natalie Harney from workovereasy

In a world where society shifts the blame game and makes us look bad for soaking ourselves in temporary happiness, we are a group of little moths trapped by flame of a culture screaming success under twenty-five. The Youth Culture. The era where getting that venti-sized coffee from Starbucks is deemed improper as opposed to cashing out for marriage, for a house, for future children. We don't cash out for little treaties, we save. We don't buy things impulsively, we keep the dollars and bury them underneath the pillow we sleep (figuratively, I hope.) We don’t go out every weekend for refreshments, we store whatever we earn behind steel safe box encoded with passwords. Whatever the deal is, you get the gist - the youth culture, notoriously labeled as ‘the millennials’, spends too much on the unnecessary.

Growing up, I never experienced what it’s like to eat my meal on a silver plate paired with a glistening, well-polished silver spoon. I never understood what it’s like being given the things I wanted - or how easy that could have been. Contrary to popular beliefs, being the only child does not guarantee anything. As a result, I knew what it’s like to be an underpaid employee, to struggle with inflation and to worry about how to balance my paycheck. Suddenly treating myself seems to be an unwanted anomaly in my agenda. 

That was until I realized two major things: one, life in itself is expensive so no matter how hard one tries to save, you can only do so much before succumbing to dysfunctional stress that can lead to worse outcomes such as excessive impulsive and unstoppable purchases. Two, humans need refreshments because that’s just how we function. We dread the stress and the pressure and we need outlets to boost our creativity, to get our spiritual dynamo up and running. Of course, that’s not to say that I am telling you to go on and burn all your hard-earned cash. What I’m suggesting is to not deny the need of refreshment supplies but to keep things balanced. Do as they say: moderation is key.

The easiest step I would suggest is to set a target budget by breaking your salary into two parts: the ones you’ll save (and will not be touching for any reason) and the ones you’ll be using for this month. An alternative to this would be to set a target on how much you are supposed to have at the end of the month. Unlike the first step, the second one requires a stronger self-control but comes with a bigger room to breathe. I personally am more of the latter since cutting my budget to 50-50 on each side may not be ideal, considering how sometimes I have sudden bills that I have to pay. I would say the first option is a much safer bet if you find it hard to restrain yourself, happen to have shopping as a hobby or cannot predict how much you MIGHT have by the end of the month.

As a correlation to the first suggestion, the second step would be to create a separate bank account - consider it your savings account but not necessarily a deposit. Unless there is a high priority emergency, you are not supposed to withdraw a cent from this account. In my case, this is what I’m planning to do in the future once my primary account has reached a particular amount. 

These are just my personal takes on how I moderately treat myself. It goes on without saying that your method will differ from mine. Nobody tells us, or in this case me, the way to adulthood and budgeting is definitely something I’m still learning as I go. Whether it’s the simplest thing like going to Mcdonalds for a Mcflurry or buying myself a new pair of jeans, we deserve a little bit of this and that sometimes. It can be as simple as getting a cup of Joe that may be a little bit pricier than your regular dose and that, I suppose, would be a nice little treat too.
by Isabel Marcelo

Kinga Cichewiczwi

My mother is the most giving person I know. To this day, I’ve watched my mother put everyone else before herself. She’s always been like this. At a young age, she experienced one of the worst human experiences possible: the death of her own mother. The way my mother dealt with this is beyond me. Her resilience is something I’ve always aspired to attain.

Whenever I’d ask her about how she was when it all happened, she’d say, “I wasn’t going to let that affect me. What was I going to do? Go ‘WAHH WAHH’ and cry forever because my mother is dead? No! I took care of my brother and sister!” She was 9 years old when this happened. I know right, my mother is insane.

Growing up in the Philippines, she had one goal and one goal only: leave the country. She wanted a good life and she knew she wasn’t going to get it in the Philippines. After her mother died, she started hustling.

She’d go to the markets, ask the sellers if she could work for them, and when they’d agree, they’d give her handfuls of bags to sell and she’d go out, sell them all, then come back and ask for more bags to sell.

They’d always be surprised how quickly she could sell. My mother has always had this saying, “I can sell ice to an eskimo!” And I’m sure if she ever had the chance, she’d bloody do it. And she’d do it well.

Not only was she an excellent saleswoman, she was also a brilliant leader. In fact, she was kind of a gang leader (if one could be at a pre-teen age). Within her neighbourhood she was known as the Street Queen. She was like a young, female Godfather.

Kids would come running to her with their problems saying, “Bambi! Bambi! This kid is picking on me!” And she would round up her gang and go confront the bully. Sometimes it would end in a physical fight. Yes. My mother was just as insane back then.

When she was 17, she saw an ad on TV for a dance company that would be holding auditions for a European tour. She saw this as an opportunity to leave her home and finally build a good life for herself and for her siblings. She went to the auditions and made it into the company.

Soon enough, she was living her dream, touring around Europe as a dancer. It didn’t take long before she brought her younger sister out to Spain to be with her and experience this amazing life that she was now living. And as for her younger brother–she had made the decision to bring him to Australia when she knew she’d be moving there.

My mother’s whole life has been focused on building a good life for herself so that she could build a good life for her family. Soon after her mother died, she told herself, “Everything stops from me onwards. I will be the one to change things. Life will be good as of now. No one else will have to suffer.” I, along with many other people, owe a lot to my mother and that one decision she made.

My mother truly did build an amazing life for herself. She left the Philippines, moved to Spain, travelled around Europe living her dream as a dancer, married the love of her life, and raised a family in Australia where now–her son is a successful photographer/videographer/business man, and her daughter (me)–is living her dream, making a life for herself in London. As for my mother’s siblings–they are both happily married with their own families, living their own amazing life.

But my mother hasn’t only helped her family. She’s helped everyone that has ever come into her life that needed help. She’s helped her friends, and her kids’ friends, and friends of friends of friends…

Sometimes I would come home and she would introduce me to people she’d met that day and within a week, she’d have found jobs for them. Yes–my mother–despite being insane, is still the most giving and compassionate human being I know.

Through all of this, the most important thing she taught me was to put myself first. This is coming from one of the most unselfish people I know. But it’s true–in order to give to others, in order to love others, you must give and love to yourself first.

There’s no way my mother could have helped and supported all the people around her, if she didn’t take care of herself first. She made sure that she was always living a life first and foremost for herself.

Even when she met my father and they moved to Spain together, she still put herself first. She let my father live his life and she lived hers. She never needed anyone because she knew at the end of the day—she’d only have herself.

Since I was a young girl up until now, she’d always tell me, “Enjoy your life. Travel the world. Don’t worry about getting into a relationship. Don’t worry about settling down. All of that will come. For now–just enjoy your life.” And I’ve lived by those words since.
by Hannah Cao

Soragrit Wongsa

I apologise to you, for everything you’ve been through because of me. I’m sorry you got mistreated in primary school and how it threw you off after being so welcomed in kindergarten. I’m sorry it poisoned your self-esteem and the way you would see your worth. I’m sorry for the confusion you experienced because I kept telling you that you were the problem, the one in the wrong.

I’m sorry you felt the need to adapt to everyone around you starting in high school, in case they would abandon you, and make up ridiculous lies to make them notice and like you and welcome you into their group when you genuinely didn’t have to do that and it backfired on you. I’m sorry I made you believe that you had to go that route. I’m sorry you were so desperate that, at one point, you found yourself trying to please people who didn’t even deserve your friendship.

You didn’t go to parties or clubs, not because you weren’t allowed, but because you believed it wouldn’t have made a difference.

You never wanted to be invisible, because that’s all you’d feel in the middle of the night, or locked up in school bathrooms, or on the way home in your father’s car. But you were. Invisible, only with a voice to be autotuned so your surrounding would notice you sometimes.

It still nags at you, doesn’t it? Is this why you grew to being so quiet? Is this what makes you shrink when you’re out in a group where there’s louder, more extroverted girls? Because you believe everyone will like them more anyway?

I’m sorry I grew poison in your young self-esteem that’s still being fought to this day.

I’m apologising to you, my dear, my self.
by Hannah Cao
by Nathan Dumlao

My flat

My flat is my safe space. I live and work and dream and thrive and dance like a crazy chicken here because even though it’s not the biggest, prettiest flat, it feels like home to me and I’m glad to say it because everyone should feel “at home” when they get “home” by the end of the day. I’ve always loved spaces for myself. My bedroom that I had before we moved houses and cities. My own not-so-secret secret spot on the top of a huge building in the middle of the city. My very own locker in High School. I usually got sad when I had to move places and give away my former flats. But I’m happy to say that in my space I find comfort and that’s why, even though it sounds a bit lame, I like being home a lot.

My mother’s house

I connect everything I call my comfort zone with my mother and my childhood. It’s just because she’s always been there and will always be the epitome of a personal safety net. So whenever I visit and stay at my mother’s house, I feel loved and accepted and comfortable immediately. She knows me, I know her, I know the place like the back of my hand, so I can be who I am and spread my limbs.


Whenever I feel like my head is clogged up with too much technology, drama in and around my life and everything else, I seek a getaway by fleeing into parks. It would be the woods if they weren’t so far away from where I live and so hard to get into. I’ve always loved parks, I used to go to London’s parks whenever I could and now back in Germany I take walks in parks again and am planning to get myself a bike already to bike through it in the Summer. There’s a huge park near my apartment building and I love how my perception changes once I step into this very park. Because life looks much more calm then. And the air seems much cleaner.

Starbucks & Costa coffee shops

It’s not necessarily about the brands or anything but I go to these chains a lot just because it’ll always be the same when I get there. The barista knows my name and preference by now, he knows where I like to sit, I know the peak and off-peak times for my favourite Starbucks in town better than the Google analytics.

Independent coffee shops

As a coffee shop lover, I always seek to find new independent coffee shops. One of my absolute dreams for the future is to open my very own independent coffee shop. Because I constantly feel like I’m in a book or a film whenever I spend hours sitting and reading in one. It’s the perfect place to be away from home when you feel like your productivity is lacking. It’s cozy, it’s got awesome music and you could spend hours sipping on great coffee or tea.

Galleries and museums

As a huge art, culture and history fanatic, I could spend days and days just going through galleries and museums. They’re gigantic, beautiful spaces full of artworks and knowledge, it’s hard to imagine anyone could find these places boring. There’s almost always something worth seeing or reading about, even when exhibitions carry the most insignificant names. It’s always been worth a visit to me so I keep going in with met expectations.

Book stores

If there is one thing I am a shopaholic for, it’s a book. And many more books. I love and devour books and the amount of new stuff coming out each month makes it hard for me to keep up. I’ll be surprised if I don’t end up with a huge library in my home in the future. I enjoy going to bookstores because to me it’s like a small paradise full of wonder and literature. So many stories to read for each mood. So many books to read for inspiration. Cue London’s Waterstones at Piccadilly. My very personal paradise.

What is your safe place? Your favourite spot? 
by Kate Klassa

by Ryan Dam

In these modern, internet-addled times, it’s easy for authentic personal connections to fall by the wayside in the wake of a digital presence. Social media gives users the option to stay in touch with loved ones no matter how far away, and yet too often social media is used as a way to be lazy with our relationships. Why bother figuring out what time you can call a friend multiple time zones away when you can watch her life in real time on Snapchat? Why take the time to handwrite a thank you to a family member when a Facebook message accomplishes the same purpose?

The convenience of social media in keeping us updated on our loved ones’ lives can kill our ability to maintain real relationships if we let it, particularly those relationships conducted over a long distance. To counter this, here are three things I do to ensure I keep up with real friendships:

Send handwritten notes, just because. Many of my friends are spread out across the country, and while it’s easy to informed of their lives via the internet, it’s also fun to send notes to let them know you’re thinking of them. Handwritten notes require more time and effort than online messaging, and the sentiment is almost always appreciated. Plus, everyone likes receiving real mail.

Regularly schedule Skype sessions. This is one most people do, but sometimes we forget to make a regular habit of it. Video-calling friends and family allows you not only to see their face and hear their voice, but can also let you into how they live their daily lives. I often Skype my friends when I’m cooking dinner or doing some other normal life activity, and it’s a good way to get something necessary done while still having time for a friend.

Engage with their online content with more than just a like and a comment. Whenever a friend shares big news online, whether it’s happy or sad, their posts are often inundated with well wishes and it’s easy for your comments to get lost in the mix. I like to follow up seeing a piece of news with an email or a private message congratulating them and asking them more about it, the way I would if they had told me their news in person.

Showing appreciation to your long distance friends and relatives for being in your life requires a little more time and energy than the casual acquaintances on social media. But maintaining meaningful contact ensures that you aren’t lazy in your relationships and lets the other person know how much you care about them.

Head over to Kate Klassa's blog A Little Life to find out more about this lovely explorer. 
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