The Millennial Crisis

HarleighQ is back, baby! I hope you didn’t miss my love-filled rambles too much. I came to the realisation that something has been missing in my life, and although I don’t always take myself seriously as a writer, this thing is my baby! I have been throwing myself in to my fiction (we’re about 10 chapters in to my yet untitled epic) but my baby needs to be nurtured. As do I.

Which brings me to the topic at hand… the Millennial Crisis.

Welcome to the beginning of a series I’m going to call ‘First World Problems’ where I will unashamedly discuss things that are petty but relevant to my generation, because we all deserve to be heard, and we all need to know we aren’t alone.

Our government rarely listens to us, we’re struggling financially, we don’t know what we want to do with our lives, our love life is a shambles, our mental health is struggling, our friends are just as fucked up as we are or they’re already married with kids. There’s constant pressure to work out our future, have savings, be loved by everyone, settle down and appreciate how ‘good’ we have it. Fucking hell. Hello quarter life crisis. My name is Leigh and I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m sure I’m not alone in expressing my guilt when it comes to how overwhelmed I feel. I often sit and reflect on how it was for our parents’ generation, and their parents. They didn’t have the freedom we do, the endless opportunities when it comes to careers and following our dreams. They were ruled by obligation and inherent sexism. We are so lucky! We are so privileged! Yet why do so many of us feel like we are swimming upstream, mere seconds from drowning?

I think it comes down to the simple fact that we want happiness to be a constant, not a fleeting memory. Every human on this planet deserves happiness. Otherwise, what’s the point? Just because it’s taken until now for us to practically be able to pursue this mentality doesn’t mean that we’re wrong, or dumb, or dreamers. We’ve just finally come to terms with how short life is and how important it is to live it to the fullest. Why shouldn’t we spend it smiling and choosing not to hurt anyone in the process?

What’s my crisis? Take a seat friends.

I am a dramatic person. I will own that. But I also struggle with quite severe anxiety. It’s come on as a mixture of things in my life, a combination of genetics and experiences I’m sure. Sometimes I don’t know where to draw the line between my dramatics and an actual genuine feeling of being overwhelmed by life. Then I start to feel tremendously bad. I have the most incredible family, and career wise I am totally sorted. But you know what? Everything else is a struggle! I’m allowed to admit that. At the moment, it really is.

I travelled so much in the last couple of years with little regard for future Leigh, and now I’m paying for it. It was so worth it at the time, but now my life is on hold while I move home to do damage control. Yeah that’s right, most of my issues are totally self inflicted!

Let’s not even get started on my love life. There’s a reason I declared myself Millennial Bridget Jones on Facebook the other day. I am well and truly stuck in Daniel Cleaver faze. Honestly? I don’t deserve any better either. I’m not ready.

I’m pretty lonely, living in quite an isolated suburb in an isolated city spending more time with myself than anyone else. I’m an extrovert. I drive myself and my family crazy after a while. I really am a lot. I start fixating on things like the news as a mental escape which only drives me more mental.

I feel guilty when I don’t believe all of the claims in the #metoo movement pinpointing men in Hollywood, my heart bleeds for my American friends dealing with a tyrant like Trump. I want to cry because our government wasted billions of dollars humiliating my friends in the queer community just to prove a point, and the reef is dying, as are the people abandoned on Nauru. There are so many things swirling around my mind at all times that sometimes I wish I could revert back to childhood, when my only worry was if my bike chain fell off. Even then, I knew how to fix it.

None of this is a poor me, or a poor us. But if we don’t change this mentality of ‘you don’t know how good you’ve got it’ whenever people bring up mental health issues, we’re going to go backwards. We have come so far from that toughen up mentality. Let’s keep moving.

We are such a powerful, caring, socially conscious generation. I’m writing this post to remind my beautiful friends that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. We are just trying to do our best, and make the world a better place as we go. That weighs really fucking heavy sometimes. We are trying to reverse decades worth of damage. We have to remind ourself and our peers daily that it’s okay to be who you are. You don’t have to hide anymore. You don’t have to feel ashamed; be it your sexuality, mental health, gender identity, kinks, dreams, stupid financial decisions, putting travel before your career or vice versa.

You don’t have to be strong and closed off. Openness is beautiful. It’s not dangerous to let people in, to wear your heart on your sleeve, to stand up for what you believe in. It’s okay to be kind, honest, sweet. Getting hurt is a part of life. Pick yourself up, dust off, and let them all back in again. If you need help with that, I’m always here with advice. I don’t follow my own, naturally. I’ve got lots of love to give though!

Pain is relative. I have nervy b’s every few days and you know what? I’m going to stop beating myself up over my sensitivity. I have pretty valid reasons to be upset most of the time, and just because I’m privileged doesn’t mean I can’t cry. We all need to cry it out sometimes.

We don’t have to know what we’re doing, or where we’re going. We just need to be kind, listen to our hearts, surround ourselves with supportive people and the rest will follow.

I love you all so much. Never feel like your feelings aren’t valid. Life is a roller coaster, baby. It’s better to feel the highs and the lows than nothing at all.

Some people may call us weak, but you know what? I’d rather be weak than an asshole.

I hope a few of my fellow crisis kids feel a little better after reading this. I promise, you aren’t alone. It’s going to be okay.

Harleigh Q

Xo

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Who Are You?

My darlings.

I'm starting this post having just rewatched the first ever episode of a show I feel I've grown up with, Catfish.

For anyone unfamiliar with concept, Catfish features two amazing men, Nev and Max, who help people who have started relationships online with people they have never met. Spoiler alert, more often than not, the people they are speaking to aren't who they say they are. Be it fake photos stolen from someone else on the internet or pretending to be someone they know personally, it's clear that the Catfishers are unhappy with who they are.

Often they've been bullied or have had a hard time and use this persona like a shield. They don't feel good enough.

I think it takes a pretty cruel person to bring someone in to your insecurity, and use them to boost your self esteem through deception. However… imagine if they channeled their negative life experiences in to making themselves better people. Instead of using a mask of someone else.. imagine the self love they could generate!

Dialling it back, let me tell you my story.

I remember starting high school. It was a big public one a half an hour walk from my house, just outside the Yorkshire village I grew up in. Almost all the kids I went to primary school with went with me. Masses off us trudged through the rain and the snow, across the train tracks to the intimidatingly massive new chapter.

In time I grew to love that school and it's long corridors and kids twice the size of me, shoving everyone around for fun. You had to have a drawstring bag otherwise someone was bound to unzip it and knock your stuff on the floor. You had to keep your hand down in class so no one could take the piss out of your answers. You also knew very quickly who the top dogs were and to remember your place.

Bullying is such a normal part of growing up. I put it down to trying to fit in to this new environment, and me being a bit of a bossy boots by nature, but my two best friends from primary school decided they didn't like me anymore. After that, I had a really hard time making friends.

When I did start to bond with someone, often a false rumour stating I'd said something behind their back quickly ended it. I guess that was the thing with me. If I took issue with someone, I would just say it to their face. Maybe that was my problem. Being too upfront made me a target for the whisperers. I was so scared of what I did say getting twisted that I just stopped speaking. It took me years to get the confidence to voice my opinion back. I make up for it now 😊.

I wound up having to go to a 'friendship group'. It was designed for myself and fellow lonely kids who were struggling a bit. We'd do quizzes and talk about our interests and hobbies. Everyone was weird and it was nice to have people to eat lunch with. Yes, there were a few sandwiches ate in a toilet cubicle. What a cliché.

A few long months in, having truly learned the importance of empathy, I reconnected with a couple of the girls from my primary school. We ended up in our own tight knit group.

Rarely a week went by without some of the five of us falling out, of course, but blissful were the lunch breaks spent giggling our heads off in the hot lunch room and getting kicked out for being too loud. Through many hours spent in the library, I discovered Louise Rennison's book series about the most relatable tween on the planet, Georgia Nicolson. I was proud of my new little Ace Gang.

Times got real tough again when I found out I was moving to Australia. Slowly but surely I felt the girls retreating from me, my closest friend especially. She became quite cruel, and though an adult brain understands self preservation and the primal need to lash out in order to protect ourselves, a scared thirteen year old did not. Some of my memories of this time are so vivid. One, I was sobbing at my work station in Food, not wanting anyone to see me. I'd been handed the notes some of the girls had been passing about me. I think it said something about me being a try hard and a made up thing I hadn't said. I'm pretty sure that was the day we made rice pudding.

In the very end they had tried to fix some of the damage caused, and there was a leaving party at my best friends house with Sing Star, baked goods and lots of trampolining. It felt like the end of the world.

Then I left England and didn't really look back.

As with most new kids, I found myself right back where I started in Australia, too.

This new high school was tiny, and I started week three of term three of year nine to be precise. I was buddied with one of the 'cool' girls. I think my teacher thought she was doing me a favour, but she and her friends were very uninterested in me. We were very different people.

In this school watched Napoleon Dynamite, I heard rumours about a boy getting a hand job behind a textbook in class, and got teased for my big shoes. I had to wear UGG boots and a miniskirt to be cool, and I definitely had to shave my legs and pluck my mad Wog eyebrows. What a different world this was!

Yet again, I had a hard time making friends. I'm a girl with a lot of passions. At the age of fourteen, it was Harry Potter and Home and Away. I could barely make eye contact with a boy without turning crimson and I was best friends with my family (and still am).

It was a long and lonely summer, but year 10 began my ascent in to one happy young lady. I made friends with four incredible girls. I can't remember how we found each other exactly, but I distinctly remember one incident in particular.

I was eating cheese and pickle sandwiches for lunch. English people reading this know what I am referring to I'm sure. The two Australian girls that would let me sit near them had no idea what the weird brown stuff I had was. They were loudly ridiculing me, for not the first time unfortunately, when a tiny, wonderful, sparkly eyed girl from southern England barked at them 'its Branston pickle?' With a level of sass I've yet to hear since. They soon shut up, and I soon changed who I sat with at lunch.

Next joined Shaz, a witty and cool as a cucumber girl whose best friend had recently changed school. Then there I was Bek, the green eyed and incredibly intelligent girl that I absolutely idolised (and still do). Thus, Ace Gang 2.0 began. We had sleepovers, long chats, giggles and an obsession with YouTube videos. We talked and sang and danced and we're allowed, encouraged, to be 100% ourselves with each other. We were not without our disagreements of course, teenage girls are a nightmare, but we thrived together. They saw me through my first kiss (literally) and all those other fun things 15 year olds do.

I got in to anime and started writing fan fiction and making music videos. I made the pilgrimage to the city for the final Harry Potter book with Abby and Danica, the two pickle-girl life savers, at 530am one brisk morning. I drew a lot, very averagely. I had a puppy Rio and two six month long crushes that went absolutely nowhere. Two others joined our crew, and soon we were going on adventures to Freo for Timezone photos and sushi train.

My second six month long crush, and first taste of heartbreak, got wind of my affections when I got up the courage to ask for his number on the school bus one day. 'I don't know it,' was his earth-shattering response. Lorraine, one of our new editions, heard from a mutual friend that he intended to pretend to like me and then thoroughly humiliate me in front of everyone on the bus the next day, so she decided to berate him in the hallway for all to hear. My heart was crushed but my friend was golden.

Of course, things changed over time. Boys, Abby moving back to England and just growing up different pulled us apart. By year 12 I was back to my lonely self, this time with two equally lonely companions, Jessie and Arran. Those cynical bastards are still my best friends to this day. God love them.

It wasn't until many years later, having lost all of the things that made me me, that I realised just how important it is for us to be true to ourselves.

I can pinpoint the time when I started to lose my kook. I was deep in a relationship where I didn't feel like myself anymore. It can be hard for natural born people-pleasers like myself and every other Cancerian in the world to stay true to ourselves when we're in love. Sometimes we go too far the other way.

For a lot of people it's their experiences with bullying at school that dilutes their colours. They're sparkling too brightly, and it seems to be in a lot of humans' nature to dim that rival sparkle as much as possible. But the thing is, if we don't care what other people think of us, it completely removes their power.

I am incredibly proud of baby Leigh, because my God did she stay true. I wore all of the nerdy, weird shit I loved on my sleeve for all the world to see and I never felt any shame for it. I surrounded myself with people who were proud of me, and I was proud of them. We lifted each other up and protected one another from the evil outside which slowly stopped mattering. My self preservation developed in to completely cutting people out who I feared would hurt me. It's served me quite well so far. I just can't do fake politeness. My face is too emotive. I give myself away.

As an adult I've gone through the cycle again. When I don't feel like I can be myself I tend to retreat. I look inwardly for that place of peace and power. I remind myself why I like me, regardless of if others do or not. I'm still a pleaser, and I still need validation, but I'm getting better. Maybe I need to ask baby Leigh how she did it. Through all the shit, I was always me.

In telling this story I'm hoping that others who have been shaken by self-doubt due of external factors realise that they were never ever the problem. If you have a good heart, that's all that matters. Let your freak flag fly! The most attractive people in the world to me are the passionate ones. I don't care what you love, if it matters that much to you then you're a dream come true. Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine.

At the ripe old age of 26 I know who I am and what makes me happy.

I love the Beatles, I love looking like I just walked out of the 70s, I love loud live music and I love writing. I love connecting with people, and I love talking about aliens and politics and nature. I love the ocean, and I love red wine and cheese platters.

Most of all I love all of the incredible people all over the world that I have met. Be they weird, loud, artistic, spiritual, gentle, wild, funny or my polar opposite, they are completely and unapologetically themselves.

Being a people pleaser isn't as good a quality as it sounds. It's easy to lose yourself, or change to fit an ideal instead of fulfilling who you really are. Being judged is scary. It's a constant battle not to care too much.

Two years ago I would never have walked down the street in my Rockabilly gear. I also didn't eat much and was overall pretty fucking lost.

Now I find myself curvaceous, sassy and proud of my wild outfits and huge smile. I am proud of myself for all I've done, and I love the person I have become very much. I still love all my nerdy things, and I will gladly talk about them to anyone with remote interest (glazed over eyes works too). If it wasn't for all of the negative experiences I've had, not fitting in, feeling lonely, having my heart broken, I wouldn't be who I am now.

None of us would be real without the shit. Don't let it change you, though.

There may be people who love you unconditionally, but it's you who needs to love you most. You're the cheerleader. You're the one whose been there through it all and lived to tell the tale. You're a bloody legend!

Talk about yourself, be proud. It's ok to blow your own horn sometimes. If the people around you don't want to listen, they aren't your people babe. We should all be rooting for each other. What are friends for?

We are all so unique and have so many stories and experiences. We are all part of this great big mad world, but there's only one YOU.

So be you, be free, be everything you've ever wanted to be. Let the love pour out of you. You'll attract the right people, this I promise you.

In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

So tell me, beautiful people, who are you?

Love your second biggest fan,

Harleigh Q

Xo

You Do You

Today I wanna penetrate the skin. I want to talk about who we are on the inside. I want to discuss authenticity. Let’s talk about the power of being a weirdo.

Tell me if you feel me here, but do you guys ever find yourself surrounded by perfectly nice people having a perfectly nice time, but feel kind of.. on the outside?

Some of you might relate to this in the form of when you return from travels, or move to a new places, start a new job, spend time with old friends who aren’t on your level, meet friends of friends that you really aren’t digging.

I don’t know why it happens, and it genuinely does suck when you like people but you just don’t feel yourself around them. It’s probably the reason so many people prefer their own company; they find it hard to vibe with people.

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I’m just here to remind you guys, and myself, that the world is absolutely full of angels. They will come to you in all forms. They will shine bright, and they will pull you up to their level. They will love you, all of you, just as you are. They won’t let you flat-line. They want to see you succeed.

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A couple of weeks ago I spent a two hour car ride with two ladies, one I’d never met before and another who is quickly becoming one of my favourite people. We spoke deeply about our experiences and what makes us tick. I was so in awe of these gorgeous, authentic ladies and their openness. I know I’m an open person, I feel no shame in it. I love it when people say things to me like ‘you’re very honest, aren’t you?’ Why yes I am, and it’s attracted some pretty incredible people and experiences in to my life. Being vulnerable is so powerful guys. Sadly, I rarely find people who are the same.

When I told the girls this we came to the conclusion that sometimes with certain people, you feel like you need to dim your sparkle. You don’t want to shine too bright, talk to much, be too interesting; you don’t want to come across as an arrogant asshole to put it bluntly. If that same person still expects you to listen to the ins and outs of their mind, they aren’t loving you the way they should.

You know what I loved the most about the time I spent with those ladies? They made me love myself more.

So choose your tribe wisely.

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Something I think gets taken for granted a lot these days though is the beauty of authenticity.

There are so many people that try so hard all day every day to fit an ‘ideal’. They mold themselves around celebrities, the people around them… is it for acceptance? A sheep in a herd of others all following the same script. Where is the realness in that though?

When I was 11 a new girl joined my primary school. It was our final year and she was called Caitlin. I had never met anyone cooler in my whole life.

She is my first memory of falling in love with someone’s spirit. At that young age she had the kind of calm confidence that girls in their early 20s dream of. She was from a military family, had a strong southern accent and had been to a lot of schools. She introduced us to songs that were trending in London, games those kids would play, but overall, she was just so real.

She didn’t seek other people’s acceptance because she already had her own. I used to love our sleepovers where we’d discuss her old schools, what she thought of the kids at ours. Every boy had a crush on her because of her chilled out aura. I was fascinated.

I have no idea what she’d be doing these days, but I’ll bet she’s killing it.

As I’ve gotten older I have realised the most attractive thing about people is a quiet confidence. Never questioning themselves, just being.

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When you know who you are, what you like and what you want from life, it’s quite intoxicating. So many people spend their whole lives seeking out people to tell them what to do and how to be. I made a decision to never, ever do that again.

I remember being mortified when new friends discovered my extensive manga collection, and even worse when my passion was referred to as ‘weird’. I used to buy trendy clothes and talk about people instead of events or ideas. I would like bands because the people around me liked them. I’d go to nightclubs for the same reason.

I no longer recognise that person. The only approval I want is my own.

I don’t know if most people realise this, but we are completely in control of our own personalities. If there is something that you don’t like about yourself, it is within your power to change it; be it recurring negativity or a snappy way you speak when you’re tired. Sometimes it’s a judgmental thought train. I’m talking about negative personality traits here, don’t change your loud laugh or goofy smile. Those things make you you.

If you’re shy, though, and think that it’s holding you back in life, don’t let yourself use that as an excuse. I have been incredibly shy for the vast majority of my life (I’m talking crippling, physically ill and shaking level of anxiety every single time I had to go somewhere new or meet someone I didn’t know very well), but I trained it out by throwing myself in to the unknown at every opportunity. I quickly realised I wasn’t going to die if I diverted from my safe routine. It’s a heavy topic I’ll probably write about in more detail one day, and please don’t think I’m downplaying anyone’s struggle, but I really do know what I’m talking about with this one. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.

You can craft yourself in to to being a person that you would fall in love with. It’s powerful to choose that path. It’s important.

I hope it doesn’t always take earth shattering events for humans to change their ways, but for me that was when I decided all I wanted in life was to become my most authentic self.

I took away the shame I felt for not fitting in and just started being me.

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I proudly discuss my love of graphic novels, pop culture and small Aussie bands. It’s an amazing way to connect with people that are on your wavelength. You wouldn’t find them if you weren’t being you.

A mod, a hippy, a pinup, a groupie, a lover, a groover, a woman, a Goddess.

The moral of the story my babes, is that not everyone is going to like you; but some people will simply adore you. Surround yourself with people who tell you so, and don’t worry about the rest. Be happy in yourself. They aren’t meant to be part of your story.

It’s better to be alone and content than surrounded by people who make you feel lonely.

Vibe baby vibe. You’re perfect, just as you are.

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Your friend forever

Harleigh Q

xo

If I were a bird I’d be a homing pigeon

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Jess and I have a rather big announcement to make. No we aren’t in a relationship. That’s our back up plan if we’re both still single at 40. Anyway….

After 7 adventure filled, busy, wild, expensive, hilarious, stressful and amazing months in our new second home, Brisvegas, we have decided to return to our first home, Perth.

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In 2 months time our lease will be up, Jess’s contract will be over and we will be popping home briefly before jetting off to Amuuurica. After 3 months of being young, wild and free we will have the world at our feet.

We have been deliberating since the day we moved here; what will we do?

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I fell for Brissie hard and fast after a month of settling in. I can honestly say it’s one of the best places I have ever been. I love the people, the weather and the awesome hidden gems that only a city like this could harbour. It’s beautiful and fun, and welcoming and warm. I love it here. So does Jess of course! But then we had to put our sensible hats on.

We will be very much in need of funds when we get home. Living in the city is incredible but expensive. I had it in my head that I wanted to get back here ASAP. Mainly due to my absolute love of my job, and thinking I couldn’t do it anywhere else. Then something amazing happened, and my big boss blessed me with the ability to work remotely from WA. That means I still get to sell my beloved Australia, from my very own home, Perth. This is all to be locked down with technicalities but I’ve worked my butt off to prove my abilities since moving here and I am so proud that it has totally paid off in so many ways. I bloody love my company man!

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J also knew that her company wouldn’t have a spot for her when she returned unless she wanted to move to Perth or Sydney. This meant I’d be surviving alone here for a while. Doable; not financially viable and not much fun without my other half either.

Then of course, there’s the soppy stuff.

I miss my family. I miss my friends.

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My life revolves around these people and one of the hardest things for me has been weekends with no brunch dates or dinners planned, no ladies nights or drinks at Oceanic with my Arran. I never realised how sociable I am until my list of people to socialise with dropped considerably!

The other side of the coin though, is how much I’m going to miss the beautiful new friends I’ve made since moving here.

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God I’m getting teary just thinking about it, what a dick! But I love these people so much. They’ve been my little family while I’ve been so far from mine and I hope I’ll always keep that bond with them. In fact I’m sure I will.

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Now this isn’t to say we will never return. What we have decided on is Perth until the New Year, so 2017 is wide open to possibility. We might be right back again! But a year is more than enough planning for two flighty blonde 24 year olds thank you.

I feel like Jess and I came here as two broken women. Girls, even. We were hurting and we were sad and we had a lot to learn and prove to ourselves. We wanted to be strong and independent, and what we have achieved is so far beyond what we expected.

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We are so proud of ourselves. We moved across the country with nothing and nobody to support us and we made a life. A little life that we love very much. We’ve gone completely out of our comfort zones at every opportunity, we’ve worked hard at our jobs, we’ve explored the city top to bottom, we’ve ate lots of great food (too much, some might say) and now we are smashing the savings and the gym for the next couple of months to get us States ready.

We are returning with the same hearts, but very different minds. We are stronger, more confident, happier in ourselves and so ready for life. Bring it on! We can do whatever we want and thats so exciting.

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I certainly wouldn’t have entered this thing 6 months ago!

I am missing the little mermaid inside of me though. I can’t wait to get back to the beach. Let’s see if I’m even worse at surfing than I was before. Probably not possible.

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But, moral of this story, if any of you are debating a big change or challenge just bloody go for it. It’s not forever. Home will always be there. You’ll be different in all the best ways.

See you soon Perth! But first, let’s see #LJTakeBrissie out with a bang.

lots of love

Harleigh Q

xo