Feminist Friday with … Charlotte Selby

Why I Need Feminism

This is a guest post by Charlotte Selby, a YA Writer, Book Blogger and Booktuber. Charlotte has requested the following trigger warnings to be in place; Sexual Abuse, Anxiety, and Depression.

Living alone in my second year of University was a bad idea. I was in my own company a lot and my anxiety was at the highest it had been; I was yet to get a diagnosis. I was struggling to leave my flat to see my therapist, never mind going to classes. I hadn’t established a strong enough relationship with the friends I’d made where I felt I could confide in them about my problems. Then someone came along. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call them Ash.

They got me. They knew when to listen to my problems and when to give advice. I became dependent; messaging them when I thought I might relapse, begging them to come over. When they kissed me, I felt it was a turning point: someone wanted me even though they’d seen how broken I was. My previous partner broke up with me because I wouldn’t sleep with them so I wanted to take my time before losing my virginity. Ash respected that. My friend warned me and our friendship became strained. She didn’t understand. Ash was good for me.

After a bad relapse, Ash came to the rescue and took me to their flat. I didn’t want to be alone for fear of how much further I would go. After I calmed down, Ash kissed me. I said no but they became icy after. Later they tried again and I said no. We had already slept together at this point, but this time was different. This time I didn’t want it. But they were so persistent that, in the end, I let them.

“Come on, it’ll take your mind off things.”

I told them I didn’t want to see them anymore after that (outside of class obligations). When I confided in a friend about what had happened, she had her I did warn you moment and explained the concept of consent to me. I felt foolish.

Flash to final year and it all came out. There were six other girls at the same time as me all with similar stories. We didn’t go to the police. We didn’t tell the university. We all knew we’d be blamed until we dropped it. One day when a society I was part of hosted a bake sale on campus. Ash showed up. The boyfriend of one of the other girls came and attacked Ash. He’d learned his girlfriend was one of the many victims. He screamed “manipulator”, “sexual abuser” and “rapist.” I was called out too. “How dare you stand when they did that to you. You’re just as bad as them. You could have helped people.” In the drama of it all, I don’t think anyone noticed I’d been outed; there were a select few who knew the names of the people involved, he just happened to know mine.

What happened with Ash had a big impact on my next relationship – which started during second year and we’re still together now. One night when we were messing around one night, he jokingly said: “come on you know you want to.” When I worked up the courage to tell him about Ash, I expected a breakup. We didn’t and we’re still together now, but it took a long time to fully trust him. Even now if I’m not in the mood for being intimate I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, like I’m letting him down in some way.

Ash didn’t go to graduation. They weren’t missed.
I wish I could say I felt free when I cut them out. But I don’t. While I’m in a much better place mentally now but I’m easily shaken. I often think of “what ifs.” What if I’d stood up for myself? What if I’d spoken out sooner?

I need feminism because had there been more support for women, if there had been a safe place we could have gone to report it, if there was less stigma around sexual abuse, maybe Ash wouldn’t be out there right now. Living their life, probably never thinking about what they did to all those girls.

I speak out now. I shut down negative discussions about sexual assault/ abuse and rape. I challenge harmful views. I don’t want people to have to go through what I did and then blame themselves after. I am a feminist.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And by god, I am stronger now.

Thank you so much to Charlotte for this post, it’s such an important yet hard topic to discuss. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

 

10 things I’ve realised since graduating

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On July 21st 2016 I graduated. I have an Upper Second Class degree in English Literature from Kingston University. It feels like so long ago that I put on that cap and gown, shook someone’s hand and became a graduate after 3 years of hard work. Then that was that it was done and I was launched into the ‘real world’. So, here I am a year later and reflecting on what it’s been like to be a graduate. It’s been a very weird year and after uni a pretty big come down I think. I’ve written about post uni depression but I’ve also had some great times. So, here’s 10 things I’ve realised in the past year.

It’s ok if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Everyone seems like they’ve got it together with Master’s degrees or travelling or jobs in the city. I had a job but still felt like I was drowning. I had no idea what I was doing. This wasn’t an essay I could logically put together and get a first on, this was real life. One year later and I’m only just working out what I really want to do because I’ve had experience! Just try things out, don’t feel like you need to know everything as soon as you have that bit of paper.

Most people don’t care what grade you got.

I was embarrassed, that’s right embarrassed when I told people I got a 2:1. I’d always slip in I was only 3% off of a First Class because I’m a perfectionist. Admitting I got a 2:1 meant I wasn’t perfect. The thing is, I’ve never been asked what grade I got, not once. The fact I got a degree was enough for all of my jobs. Some will want specific grades, but from most of my friends, they haven’t been asked either!

£2.50 double vodkas were a blessing.

I wasn’t a big drinker at uni, I didn’t go out all the time. That said, when I go out now I hate paying normal prices for drinks, almost £5 for a double vodka? Blergh.

Sometimes friendships aren’t meant to last forever.

I’m a firm believer that some people are meant to be in your life and leave. I had some friends in uni and we had great times before we drifted apart or the friendship broke down. I’m forever grateful for the memories though.

Life is going to change.

People move, get jobs, some get married, others will have children soon. Life is changing and going so fast and sometimes it is a little overwhelming and that’s ok. Take a moment and just appreciate the small things.

Sometimes you’re going to wonder if it was all worth it.

Getting a job, or a job that you’re passionate about after graduating is hard. It’s taken me a whole year to work out what I enjoy in a working environment. There’ll be late nights and possibly some jobs you don’t enjoy where you think, should I have just gone out to work? My hardest part was when I saw people buying their first homes after working since 16 and I know I’m nowhere near a deposit.

The only person judging you is yourself.

I got so worried about how other people would judge the degree I did, my grades, the fact Ali and I lived with the family. Really, the only person judging you is you. People know that taking your first steps is hard! Don’t beat yourself up!

It’s ok to ask for help.

I didn’t want to ask for help and there were times when I needed to. When I just felt nervous or worried or wanted reassurance.

You still have so much time!

You know when you’re young you have this plan? I want to be married by this time, kids by that time etc, etc. Let it go. You have so much time to do what you want to do. Take a breath and do what feels right for you!

Taking time for yourself is important.

It’s natural to want to do your best in a job, to want to see old friends, make new ones. That said, taking a bit of time for yourself is really important, I’ve talked about my top tips for self-care before, you’ll feel much better.

It’s ok to miss uni!

It was, for most of us, full of great times! Of course you’re going to miss it! That said, there are still good times to come.

Make time to see your uni friends.

My friend Joe and I try to see each other once a month, because he’s still one of my best friends!

Everyone’s Grad journey is different

It doesn’t matter if you go stright into work or travel or study! Everyone is different and so are their lives! There’s no ‘right way’ to be a graduate! Don’t feel pressured to do certain things.

It was the best time of your life…so far!

I had some times where I worried if this was it? Was I ever going to feel the way I did at uni? I had some low periods, BUT I realised that uni was only the beginning of my independence. There is so much more in life I have to look forward to and now I’m happier I’m looking forward to every exciting thing that’s going to happen!

You did something pretty amazing.

You got a degree, that’s awesome. Go you!

 

What did you learn after graduating? Let me know in the comments below!

The Ideal Graduate Doesn’t Exist

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Do you remember what made you decide to go to university? Maybe it was because you really loved a subject and wasn’t quite done with it yet. Maybe it was because your family members or friends had gone and you decided that it was probably a good idea. Maybe it was because you were told that going to university was going to give you a boost, it was going to get you a job.

I’ll bet that most of us link to one of the three reasons, for me it was making me employable. I wanted to work hard, get the best grades and get a great job. I learnt from my parents that working hard and having your own money was important. I’d had a job since I was 16 and after a teacher insisted I look, my eyes widened with how much more you could earn just by getting a degree, it was a no-brainer, right?

So, here I am almost a year after graduating with a 2:1 degree and I’m not a top notch career woman yet, who knew? I’m currently temping in an office while friends of mine are working in retail, restaurants or anywhere they can get a job. All of us are asked what we’re going to do with our degrees or about career plans. The thing is just because you have a degree doesn’t mean that you’re failing because you’re not a hot shot at 22, something which can be a harsh reality.

There’s an illusion of the ‘perfect graduate’, something that isn’t real, usually, this person would have their own flat, a decent paying job that they love, flawless references, society activist. Overall, they are meant to have their shit together. Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve never met that person, I’ve never met them, so why was I striving to be that? No one in my family or loved ones had ever put that on me so where did it come from?

I could blame advertising, I could blame media or Social Media but I’m not going to waste time on that. We need to be kind to each other but more than anything we need, to be honest. Am I guilty of trying to make my Instagram feed look better my life picture perfect? Of course, I am. Am I guilty of comparing myself to others and wondering what I should be doing with my life? 100%.

I hope that if you’re reading this and have been feeling overwhelmed like me that this has helped.

What have you realised after graduating? Let me know in the comments below.

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!

Sunday Seven: Seven Things No One Tells You About Graduation

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This week I became a graduate. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you will see I have been absolutely spamming my accounts with pictures and thank yous and a lot about the whole day. After this I will stop badgering you all on social media about graduating. I did think, however, I’d share with you seven things no one tells you about graduation.

Gowns may look good, but they are hot as hell.

If you graduate later in the year you may be ok but graduating in the hottest week of the year meant a lot of sticky, sweaty gowns. I was very pleased to get this off at the end of the day.

No shoes are worth taking skin off your feet. 

I tried two new pairs of shoes and I’m still paying the price. Make sure you wear them in if you really want fancy new shoes and take a lot of plasters.

Souvenirs are worthwhile, but expensive. 

I was not prepared for how expensive souvenirs were going to be! Photo’s were the most (although I’m yet to order mine), followed by £45 for a hoodie, £15 for a bear, £10 for a scroll holder and £15 for a pin of the university’s coat of arms. It’s only because this is the only time I plan on doing this in the near future I bought what I wanted but be prepared!

You will need to charge your phone. 

Phone calls to relatives, messages to you, photos, some sneaky Pokemon hunting. I really wished I had taken one of those charger blocks that you carry around in your bag. Ali has one and it’s a good investment, so it might be worth getting one.

Speeches are both long and boring, but can make you feel proud of where you’ve come from. 

There were some great parts of speeches but there was no denying that they were very long, especially in the heat. While a lot of us tried to be serious, but were really like a bunch of grown up kids, it was nice to think about how far we’d come and that Kingston would always be a part of us.

You’ll have an overwhelming amount of University pride.

I was SO proud of myself, the people I studied with and the university I spent 3 years of my life at. I never knew I would feel that much university pride on graduation day.

The day will go faster than you think, so soak up as much as possible. 

Just like your degree, the time will go so fast, so enjoy as much as possible.

 

 

Looking back at University -I’m a Graduate!

On Thursday 21st of July my journey as a student came to an end. Yes after 3 long years I am now officially a graduate of Kingston University, Chloe Metzger BA Hons. I’m going to try and keep this blog short, because I feel like I could write a book on this chapter of my life alone. I went from a girl who was terrified of leaving home, to a young independent woman. I’ve gone through more than I thought I could enjoy and have had experiences that I never thought I would but I’m so pleased I went to university, I found out who I was.

The past 3 years have been overwhelming such amazing highs and very tough lows. I’m nothing like the girl who started, who was so anxious the thought of getting on a bus nearly sent her into a panic attack, now I’ll travel around London for work. I’ve met the Chancellor and had a good few chats with her. I started this blog, interviewed by various people, made friends, started a band, played all over London and the South East and released 4 singles. I’ve watched countless bands and artists and met some of my absolute heroes. I’ve also met authors, celebrities and inspiring people. I’ve won awards, became a society president, got firsts and two ones, become a Student Ambassador and in charge of social media. I’ve given talks on mental health and found my voice as well as a way to use my past to create a better future.

Of course there were tough times too the homesickness, the really tough times with my depression when I wouldn’t leave my flat or be around people for days on end, friendship breakdowns, breaking my spine and not getting some of the grades I wanted. Originally I didn’t post that I got a 2:1 for my degree because I wasn embarrassed. My goal from the first year was to get a first class degree and I missed it by 3.5%. I cried, a lot, I was full of self loathing, how could I not get that extra 3.5%? Then I spoke to a friend, someone who chose to love me rather than being Ali or my family who were proud whatever, who told me not many people can recover from a broken spine and be in hospital for IBS and still come out so close to a first. It made me feel a lot better. I put this pressure on myself and it’s one of my flaws. I wanted to tell you all that because university comes with the good and the bad.

My future has completely changed from that I thought it would be before I went to uni, hell it’s different from what I thought it would be a year ago, but I’m happy. I’m happier sitting writing this than I have been in months, because third year was hard. It wasn’t just the workload, but my personal life. If I’m honest I’m surprised I made it through. I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting but I want  to be truthful to let others know that even when life gets so tough that you don’t know how you’re going to keep going, you can.  I haven’t you the space to write everything I loved about studying at university, but I did. I’ve got some incredible friends and memories from my time at KU and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I ever made.

So thank’s Kingston, you were great!

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Pre Graduation Nerves

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Tomorrow, after 3 years of reading, tears, late nights, hungover mornings, trying to stay awake in lectures, essays, library days and trips to the pub, university will be over. I left with no idea what I’d do once I left, or if I’d even want to stay in the first place. So I’m sitting here (and a big follow up post about the end and looking back and all that jazz to come Friday or Saturday) and just thinking about tomorrow, this big ceremony that we’ve all been told about for years. I’ve had my hair done, my eyebrows, I have a new dress and even heels for the actual ceremony (not all day though, you have to be kidding me), Ali’s going to be there, my parents, my sister. Mostly I’m feeling nervous right now, worried about how the pictures will look, the walk across the stage. I’m not as panicked as I thought I’d be, actually I’m pretty proud of the fact that next week I’ll have spent a month in a job that I love, I have a car I saved up for and I feel like I have some idea of how I want my life to go. Fingers crossed I don’t fall over in the 5 minutes I have to be in heels.

Image from Pinterest