I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING! (But nor does anyone else)

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Ah the life of a graduate, the new and exciting opportunities, meeting new people, perhaps travelling, isn’t it wonderful? Well, it would be if life worked out like that. Recently I was talking to a few friends of mine who are coming into the final part of their last year at uni (how it’s been a year since that was me I don’t know) and they had the normal worries of a final year. Worries about the deadlines and dissertations but most importantly feeling like you don’t have a bloody clue what you’re doing. So I let them in on a little secret, I don’t know what I’m doing and as far as I can work out nor does anyone around me, some are just better at pretending than others.

My graduate life is different to how I thought it would be, because working full time every day is hard. It’s a different kind of hard work to what uni was. This is a physical type of exhaustion, my whole body is tired as well as my mind. Do I think Uni prepares you for working full time? No, no it doesn’t. I loved the freedom and the independence of uni, working from home and working when I feel most motivated. When you’re working you have set hours, depending on your employer you might or might not be able to work from home, although I’m yet to meet a graduate who is working from home full time. The transition is hard, it’s not all bad, but it is hard.

There are so many days when I feel my head is spinning and I don’t have a clue that I’m doing. BUT out of everyone I speak to and I mean everyone (who’s willing to admit it), no one thinks they know what they’re doing. There are some people that feel more in control and some that are better at pretending they do.

I have days now where I wonder what I’m doing because my life hasn’t followed this detailed plan I had in my head. I didn’t know that I can to know what I want but roll with life at the same time! So don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do, no one does!

Is Uni Right For You? Pros and Cons of Going To Uni

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Going to university is a big decision. With tuition costs as high as they are a lot of people are wondering if university is right for them. I was the first person in my family to go to university and, for a long time, I wasn’t going to apply. I thought university was for rich kids, I didn’t think I’d fit. I thought that all universities were like Oxford and Cambridge (the only universities I knew) but I was wrong. Through the persistence of a great teacher and my boyfriend I realised I could go to uni. That said I know uni isn’t for everyone! So, I thought I’d put together the pros and cons of going to university.

Living

Pro: You have the opportunity to move if you wish – I was terrified to move to a place I didn’t know but it was the right thing to do looking back on it. It made me be independent, it made me know that I can look after myself and gave me space to work out who I was on my own.

Con: Moving back after uni is tough. I see a lot of people who didn’t go to uni who are starting to get on the housing ladder because they’ve been working and earning while I’d been studying.

Pro: Being able to run your own schedule and your own life. You can eat when you want, sleep when you want and come and go as you please.

Con: Remembering to look after yourself. I really struggled in my first year with loneliness, I wasn’t close with my flatmates. I’d lock myself away for days on end sometimes, which was really tough.

Work

Pro: Some degrees are needed to get into careers, that’s a fact. Likewise, there are some jobs where graduates are preferred.

Con: It can be difficult to work and study. Everyone knows that student loans are difficult to live on and so if you live in a city it can mean long hours.

Pro: Student jobs can pay a good wage.

Con: Student jobs can have very crappy hours.

Friendships

Pro: Making friends from all over the world is a great perk of going to university. I learnt a lot about other cultures

Con: When friendships go wrong it can be hard. When you’re away from home and friendships go wrong it can knock your confidence and make you feel lonely.

Pro: Meeting new people. Meeting new people was great for me, I needed a change and I needed to rebuild myself, which was a huge positive for me.

Con: Moving back after graduation. When all of your friends are all over the country or world it can be really hard to adjust and you do miss the.

Money

Pro: Getting a Student Loan to help while you study was great (although depending on what your parents earn and your circumstances will depend on how much help you get).

Con: Going to uni means you’re not on a full time wage. This really depends on how much you want to study because I know a lot of brilliant people who didn’t go to uni, went straight to work and have built up a good career for themselves.

Pro: Over their lifetime, on average, a graduate will earn more.

Con: If you’re not studying full time you can get a lot of knowledge and experience in your industry, all of my family did it this way!

Learning  

Pro: If you love studying then of course uni makes sense! I loved reading and learning theory and debating, it was the best part of my degree!

Con: Uni can be really tiring and taxing. In third year I didn’t really sleep much, I was very stressed towards the end and got sick because of it.

Pro: You can create your own education. There’s so much choice in terms of courses and modules.

Con: If you’re not interested in studying, writing and sitting in lecture halls uni might not be you and that’s not a bad thing! There are so many ways to progress, further your career and learn!

There’s so much more I could come up with so by no means is this exhaustive. Whether you go to uni or not doesn’t determine if you’re successful. What are your plans? I’d love to know in the comments below!

Where’s The Damn Book?!

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I’ve been wanting to write a book since before I started university. I’ve always written stories and the summer before I moved (3 damn years ago) I was working on my first novel. I was going to uni to do Creative Writing and I was going to be a writer. And then I started the course. I quickly realised I hated the course with a passion and spent a year of my life being told my work wasn’t good enough by older people. It always confused me because people my own age and one or two lecturers really liked it but there were some that were just hell bent on saying I wasn’t good enough. Now I’ve never had the strongest self esteem, I understand creative criticism but when you work so, so hard to get onto a course to be told by someone who has never read a word you’ve written that you’re writing is bad, you kind of take it to heart. Well, at least an 18 year old who’s just moved away from home and who’s walking around in an incredibly anxious state takes it to heart. I feel better now that it was just her opinion and truth be told after I refused to be caught by her after some catastrophic writing she’d put online (claiming that anorexia wasn’t real), I distanced myself from her and felt a little better about my writing. People liked reading what I wrote online, so why wouldn’t someone publish it eventually?

I’ve kept up my blog for almost three years now and had another before that, one of the main things people comment on when they search for me is the quality of my writing. So why isn’t that enough? This time last year I’d just returned from Athens on a week long creative writing course. Everyone was there because they knew to some extent what they wanted to write and I did too, something that my undergrad course lacked. Again I got positivity and some really great feedback but then the inevitable happened and I fell out of love with what I was writing and then I was there with ideas. Great right? I wish. I have all these ideas but self doubt is crippling. I write something, look at it a few hours later and can’t stand it. I get anxious that I’ll make spelling or grammar error and then be seen as an idiot. It’s deep in my heart that I want to be a writer, I want to see my name in a bookshop and see my thoughts on paper.

I know for a fact I can do it and I will, right now though my head feels so muddled and confused. What should I write about? Do I work on the non fiction piece? Do I try again on that old novel idea or start something completely different? Am I writing for Adults or Young Adults. All these thoughts go around and around in my brain and if I try and plan I get even more anxious because WHY IS THERE NO MANUAL THAT TEACHES YOU HOW TO BE AN AUTHOR. Which is silly, there’s no golden rule, not curse to break or magic formulae to make sure people will love what you’ve written. I know all this and yet I still want to delete pages of writing or worry about ever finishing something. I’m hoping these are rational fears.

It may sound like I’m complaining but I’m not, I feel like I have so much to give but it’s almost as if it’s trapped in my head and just won’t negotiate with my hands. I have ideas every night before I go to sleep and think they’re magical I wake up after scribbling them down and wonder how the hell I’m going to make something out of them. I don’t know, I thought I’d have a draft of a novel by now and I know, I know books can take years and years to just draft and then even more to get published. I’m just trying to get out of this rut where I just look at the page in anger because it’s just not doing what I want it to. My biggest critic is now myself, but I think with the voices of others inside, from the past who really shouldn’t be there. So I guess I’m going to have to work on kicking them out and working out what the hell I want to put on to paper, that might be a good idea. Oh and I might find the bloody book in my head stored away somewhere just waiting to come out.

 

Image from Pinterest

The Job Hunt

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Yesterday morning I woke up to a job rejection email, a few lines outlining that I hadn’t been successful and they wouldn’t be interviewing me. I had a moment of ‘ah damn’, deleted the email and moved on. It’s not that I wasn’t upset, it’s more the fact that I know I’m not just going to walk out of uni with a high paying job and that’s me sorted for life. I’m also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so that job just wasn’t for me this time. No biggie. This wasn’t the case a few months ago when I got a rejection email for a job that I REALLY wanted, I didn’t get an interview. I guess I was shocked more than anything, every job I’ve applied for since I was 17, I’ve at least gotten an interview. I know this is different though.

I finished my work for my degree a week ago and while I’d love to take a month off and not even think about a job, that’s not who I am. I’ve had a job since I was 16, a few months after my 16th birthday (and when I realised I needed more than just the occasional babysitting job) Dad drove me around handing out CVs all over Basingstoke, a week or two later I had an interview and later a job at a cinema. I give 110% into every job, that’s just how I am as a person and I’ve carried that on through the various jobs I’ve had since that first one. I mean I grew up helping my Mum out on her stall every weekend through the Spring and Summer, I’m just used to helping out wherever I can and I truly believe that made me who I am today (although when I as a kid that was in between vital colouring in time) .

Over time I know it’s going to get a little harder to be as positive as I am now. Even at this moment with people I know having babies and getting married, finding jobs quickly I get a little anxious and have the whole ‘WHERE IS MY LIFE GOING? WHAT AM I DOING AHHHHHH’ moments. That normal though, I suppose when then is the first time I’m not going back into education in September for 16 years, the freedom is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  I know I’m lucky too that I’m not being pressured just to take jobs because they are there, I’ve got a little time to actually apply to jobs and companies I want to be a part of rather than some of my other jobs I’ve had where it’s been a case of desperation.

Of course I’d love to have a good job in the next month, but I also know that I might need to pop back into part time work just to tide me over. The important thing to remember and this goes for Saturday jobs, part time work, full time work, whatever, is that you are not above any part of your field. If I go into a marketing job and at first they want me to remove staples, I’ll remove staples. They want me to make coffee for a while, let me know the way you like it. There’s a difference between knowing your worth and getting stuck in. There’s a difference between starting out and staying in a crappy position. It’s all about balance and proving yourself.

You’ll know if people are taking advantage, trust me you’ll know, this is coming from someone who was left with a handful of other teenagers to run part of a shop on a regular basis on a low wage while the supervisor did what they liked. BUT find the positives in every experience, being left with the others to run the shop? I got leadership skills and my customer service was fab when I left. Picking up Popcorn kids had thrown on the floor? Reminded me to always, always respect the place I’m in and the people that work there. It might not seem anything

So, my positive pants are on, my job hunting hat is on. Let’s do this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Freedom List!

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I’m so close to getting everything submitted that I can smell the freedom, on Tuesday at 11am it’s all done. I go out for a drive in my car and just take in lungfuls of fresh air, because I know that soon enough I’ll be back in the flat looking at a screen and an essay that bores me almost to tears. Last night I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to try and get down my ‘freedom list’, things that I’m looking forward to doing once I haven’t got any more academic pressure on me. I know I’ll be moving and looking for work but it’s going to be nice to have some spare time again! To be able to pick up a book or go for a walk without feeling guilty for leaving two essays on the table! I’m adding to this list day by day but here it is so far!

  • Finish my Cosplay outfit for MCM in May – I have most of the pieces now I just have to put it all together and get a few accessories
  • Start writing my own book, finally! – I still love writing but it’ll be so nice to just be in charge of what I’m writing, take my time and not have to show it to anyone until I’M ready. I have a few chapter plans and some great ideas, can’t wait to get them on to paper!
  • Read for FUN – Ohh I’m going to shrink my TBR pile!
  • Start my Youtube Channel – Keep your eyes peeled!
  • Go to Richmond Park – this one can wait until we get some sun.
  • Get some good sleep.
  • Buy my Kingston Uni Hoodie!
  • Get my haircut and eyebrows waxed, feel slightly more like a person and less like a werewolf…
  • Go to the V&A
  • Go to Madame Tussauds
  • Play my ukelele more
  • Write whatever I damn want
  • Get back into a gym routine!
  • Go to Durham to visit Ali’s family
  • Find a new car (sorry Harry, I think 20 is the year to retire)

It may looks like a lot but there are no pressure with these, they’re things I can pick up and then change my mind, things I’m in control of. Although job hunting will be happening soon, I’m taking a well deserved few weeks off to recharge and just do what I feel like and recharging my batteries.

As always I love to hear from you, what’s fun on your to-do list? Leave me a comment or a Tweet!

 

 

I found the beautiful image on Pinterest by the way!

One of those meltdown days

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Today has been one of those days where I just sat, freaked out and had a bit of a cry over the work that I have to do. Even though I know that my dissertation is in a place where I will be able to submit on time. So far I’ve never handed in a piece of work late at university, I may have had an extension of a few days, but nothing’s been capped for being late. I’m not about to start now.

There is still a lot to do here. I’m hoping to submit my dissertation on Friday, then I have a 5000 word essay to write and submit and then a 3000 word essay to finish and submit and ARGHHH. I think that’s enough to enable anyone to have a little meltdown. I might sound like I’m moaning and some people will think that I’m being more than just a little OTT, but this is hard work. Especially when my bed time has become 3am and I have been writing like crazy between the hours of 12 and 3. Not ideal.

So, hopefully I’ll make it through the next two weeks and be able to come out of it feeling a little more well rested and more positive. Wish me luck!

5 things I wish I’d known before going into Third Year

With third year coming to an end and my graduation looming I sat and thought about what I wish I’d known before I’d gone into third year. I won’t lie, this has been a tough year not just because the pressure was kicked up a gear at uni, but also because of stuff going on in my personal life. Either way here are 5 things I wish I’d known, that might just help future third years out!

1. You have a LOT of reading to do, get it done.

Trying to read all of my primary weekly texts, the additional theory, 30 secondary sources for dissertation, 15 secondary sources for my special study, and oh yeah MORE secondary sources for the other two modules. There’s a lot of reading to be done this year. Do as much of it in advance as you can and thank yourself later. Also, get used to the library, it’s going to be your second home.

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2. You will want to take naps like you’ve never wanted naps before.

I never used to be able to sleep in the day, at all unless I hadn’t slept at night (ahem, party animals in the flat next door). Now I feel like naps are the only way to keep me awake at night long enough to work on my assignments.

3. You’re allowed to struggle.

I spent most of my third year pretending to myself and my lecturers that uni was a breeze, that I had my shit together and of course I was ok. Fast forward to a month before my dissertation was due, I’m in tears in my supervisor’s office feeling like I couldn’t possibly get a good mark on this bit of work. For some reason I felt like I had to just project this air of confidence this year, maybe it was to make myself feel better? Either way if you’re struggling go and talk to your lecturers. Don’t make my mistake and wait until it all gets too much, it’s a stressful time and lecturers understand that.

4. Sleep is a wonderful thing, and during the final few weeks you will feel like you have never had enough. 

Yes I’m mentioning sleep again. Right now I have no sleep schedule. Some days I’ll be fine to be wide awake bright and early, go to the gym, work on my assignments and eat a healthy amount of food. Other days I’m writing until 2am, wake up a lot in the night or just don’t sleep at all. No matter how much sleep I do or don’t get I’m always exhausted. The brain is doing a lot of hard work right now people!

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5. You’re going to feel confused and excited and sad and have ALL OF THE FEELS, because this is a weird point of your life. 

I didn’t realise how all over the place emotionally I’d feel. On one hand I want to dig my nails in and never let go of uni ever because it’s the one place I’ve been happy to be in education. On the other hand I want to get all of my assignments done and out of the way and never spend another evening writing up references. I find myself getting emotional at the strangest times and other times I just shrug and get on with things. It’s a very weird time but I’m hoping, come July 27th when I officially have a degree it will have all been worth it.

One Down, Three to Go.

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Hello, hello, hello!

Sorry for wandering off for a few days, I’ve been up to my ears in assignments as well as acquiring a particularly nasty chest infection too. This week has been big in terms of third year, I had my final lecture on Tuesday, have started packing up the flat as we’ve handed our notice in for July and today I finally submitted one of my longer assignments, my piece on autobiographical poetry. I’ll never be a part of my Writing Women class again!!

I’ve been working on it for a pretty long time and, although I have absolutely no idea as to how it’s going to grade (obviously I’m hoping well) I’ve kind of just decided to live with it. I’ve done what I consider my best with the time and the pressures I’ve had. It’s done, gone and submitted and it actually feels like a quarter of the weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Now all I need to do is make sure that my dissertation is ready to be submitted in 10 days and then my other two essays after that. I will say that I think it’s kind of stupid to have all of our essays clumped together. It’s frustrating because we haven’t had the questions for two of them very long and, I suppose I am nervous about writing and finishing them both on time. BUT I am super determined to get it done. I can almost taste the freedom. So close, but so far.

Who’s going to hire me? -Embracing your past

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I didn’t expect to be laying in my  wide awake at 4am this morning, followed by wandering aimlessly around my flat. To say my sleep pattern is messed up at the moment is an understatement, my days and nights kind of blur together if I don’t have anything to leave the flat for, I’m in a constant state of write, study, read and possibly eat at some point. I found myself thinking and worrying this morning about getting a job at stupid o’clock in the morning. What if they read about the problems I’ve had this year and don’t want me? What if they do secretly discriminate against me because of my mental health? What if was a prominent theme of the torture my sleepless brain put me through. But, it’s not because I’m dramatic.

I’ve been filling in a few job applications here and there, currently only for roles that I really want and could see myself working in and then there is the box that asks if you have a disability. While I myself don’t like being called disabled because it’s a crappy label, I know that to get help I need to tick it, lately though I’ve found myself  not wanting to tick that box, to hide a part of myself and my past out of fear more than anything. Like many other third years, I’m scared of the unknown and I know that the odds aren’t in my favor. Talking to Ali about it tonight he reminded me that there is so much proof that I can do so much more than a label, and I already have done so much more.

I’ve never been embarrassed or ashamed, and I’m not but I do know there is still a lot of people who are uneducated about my condition, but I’ve managed to educate people through telling my story before. With that in mind, why should I be scared of doing that again? When I saw this quote on Pinterest it made me take a breath, because what’s the point in trying to hide a part of my life or the hardships I’ve faced in the past? There is none. If anything that takes away from what would make me a great employee. I work hard, I persevere. Yes there may be times where my illness kicks my ass and I need a day to get myself better but I’m not a quitter. I got through my final year at university with a healing spine, a ‘broken’ mind and sickness and I think I’ve still done pretty damn great and have never let it affect my two jobs.

Why am I writing this? It’s not to brag. It’s because I know that sometimes you need to see someone else lay everything out. All the good times and all the shit times too and just remember that actually, you may not be ‘normal’, whatever the hell that means, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a story to tell. To some people I’m an ‘inspirational’ person, which I’ll take but to me it’s just my everyday life, carrying on no matter what because I will not let a label or a box define me. I am so much more than that.

Death by Dissertation??

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At least once a week I’m faced with a crippling fear and enormous self doubt as the result of trying to work on my dissertation. For someone who’s not done a dissertation before, they may think I’m being dramatic, it’s not that hard, right? Wrong. I honestly thought I was so behind but after meeting up with some fellow third years to work on a group project that they also feel as stressed and confused as I am.

My dissertation, something I so looked forward to, had turned into the bane of my existence. I’m now on my  3rd draft and have so much more to do, before it’s finished next month. I’ll have whole days where I’m like ‘yeah let’s get this done’ and then mornings like today where I just want to sit and cry in my duvet and contemplating printing my dissertation and then setting fire to it, obviously that won’t help but in my sleep deprived state it’s entertaining.

I never thought I’d be this stressed or worked up about a project I’d chosen to do. The last haul is definitely the hardest but I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve been working on the parts I love for a long time and now it’s come to editing and reading more critical theory (ENOUGH ALREADY!). I just keep chanting, one more month, one more month.

It’s weird because I love academics normally, I love to write. Hell, you guys are stuck with my notifications every day! I’m just excited to be done with these and finally start my book and have all my passion and energy do into fiction rather than quotes on Marxist Feminism and the role of women in the 1950s.

For any of you also tackling your dissertations, good luck! For those of you who have completed one, what do you suggest to celebrate when I finally finish!