Thursday, 31 May 2012

Returning to Writing


So, apart from meeting up with an old friend and eating far too much, I haven’t done a whole lot today.  The school placement I was supposed to be starting fell through; however, I’m sure there will be others. With still no news on the job front either, I started getting a bit upset, so had a nice big bubble bath to calm down and just zone out.

It’s been the case for years that I’m at my most creative in the bath. I really need to start taking a pen and some paper in there, only knowing my luck, I would produce a plan for an award winning bestseller and I’d drop the paper in the bath. I like to think that if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all and at least the bad is character forming. Laying among the bubbles, I started thinking of the creative writing project I submitted for my final writing module at uni. The story had been on the backburner for a couple of years, but for some reason, until this year, had never gotten started, or had been deleted in frustration. I decided that after my bath, I would pour myself a vodka and apple juice and read over my work.

I was actually amazed. I enjoyed reading it. Possibly because I wasn’t over analysing it and hoping it would get a first, or worrying about my lecturer’s comment about him ‘not being a huge fan’ of the fantasy genre. I started editing it, and I started thinking to myself, that submitting it as a portfolio had not been quite as detrimental to the original idea as I thought.

Stephen King said in On Writing, that you should leave your work alone for a few weeks before you go back to read it over and edit it. It worked wonders, and instead of resenting plot and structure decisions I had to make while writing it to be graded, I could see that they had paid off. For example, I had to introduce a couple of characters early in order for the first four chapters to make sense and for the plot to develop more quickly within the first 7000 words. Lecturers and markers aren’t aliens. Changes made to make their reading easier actually make the writing better for everyone.

So, I made the scary decision to try and commit to my creative writing project too. I’m not being over ambitious, I don’t think I have the next Harry Potter on my hands, but I want to make this year productive, and I’d love the see the project finished. So I have edited the first four chapters, and I aim to write the fifth tomorrow. Like I wrote in an earlier post, uni sucked the fun out of things I once loved and made me doubt and over analyse something that as cocky as it sounds, I actually am pretty good at.

So there are today’s things that scare me. Remembering something that’s challenging but that I’m passionate about and committing to it, correcting and editing my own work’s imperfections and mistakes (next time I’ll do it with tea instead of vodka) and admitting that actually, I do believe I’m good at something. And for the first time in years, I actually believe it.

I also linked my mam to this blog today. And looked at my statistics and would like to give a big thanks to everyone who reads this, and a particular thanks to my readers from Russia, USA and Germany – I have no idea how you came across this, but thanks for giving it a read and I hope you enjoy. It means a lot that people see this and any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Compliment someone, they won't bite!


Firstly, this is completely irrelevant, but I’m a big Game of Thrones fan and having recently finished the second book, I am GEEKING OUT over the Blackwater episode. It was so epic that I’ve watched it twice and concluded that Tyrion Lannister is my favourite fictional character.

Doing the book justice! 


Second irrelevant point: I went to Newcastle to get a phone cover from the Apple store. I figured that if I own something as expensive as a new iPhone, I should at least get a decent cover for it. My boyfriend left the Apple store with an iPad. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, M&S pay him too much money! However, cover or no cover, I very nearly dropped it in a cup of tea earlier. How on earth am I going to make it last two years?!

This will be a pretty short blog tonight, but I did do something for once that I would never normally have the nerve to do, and that was work up the nerve to compliment someone that I wouldn’t normally speak to.
I think everyone has a couple of people on their Facebook or Twitter or even in their phone contacts that they haven’t spoken to in years, but actually do know. Not someone that they dislike and keep as a friend just to spy on (this does happen, I am guilty of it. I’m trying to curb negative habits.) But someone that they actually enjoy reading their updates, hearing what they’re up to and such, but don’t speak to for fear of seeming ‘random’ or ‘stalkerish.’

I always talk about how detrimental social networking can be when used to keep tabs on people you don’t particularly like, begin comparing yourself to other people or have more of a virtual life than an actual one. However there is someone on my Facebook friends list who has such a positive outlook and is generally quite inspirational. I love reading her blog and to an extent it inspired this one. It’s called ‘How to Make the Best of’ and it’s what confirmed for me in the first place that my outlook was all wrong and I needed to do something about it. So I decided that I would put aside worries of whether I’d be perceived as creepy or ingenuine and messaged her to let her know that I had been reading and I loved it. 

She was really happy that I had let her know what I thought, with writing, all feedback is good feedback, and we had a chat about each other’s blogs and such and decided that we’ll get together soon for a coffee or something. I suggested it as we’re both interested in writing, and it’s not something I would usually do. I’m always worried that people will only agree because it would be awkward to say no. People these days often seem so suspicious of friendliness that I never quite know what will be considered creepy/pushy/clingy and normally avoid making plans. But I've gotten used to making plans with friends I see all the time, and I've spent years complaining about my social life, so it’s time to get my act together and learn that like all things, friends take effort and they won’t just come knocking at your door. So why not find someone on your Facebook or Twitter who you enjoy reading what they have to say, and take a chance on making the jump from virtual to real life friends? At the very least, strike up a conversation. I don’t see why it’s not done more often, especially if you actually know the person and know they’re not going to lure you into the back of a windowless van. Of course, if you don't know the person, please be safe in order to avoid the windowless van debacle. 

But back to the initial act of a compliment, they feel good to receive, but they feel better to give. I said how people regard friendliness with suspicion, but if we all looked at things a bit more positively and rise above feelings of jealousy, insecurity or anything else that might prevent us from giving a compliment, the world would be a happier, more confident and encouraging place. Try it on your close friends or family first, obviously make sure you mean it, and the positivity will come back to you.   

Monday, 28 May 2012

Talk About It


What an interesting couple of days!

A small group of us got together for our last official day of uni and it was perfect beer garden weather. There was a fantastic party atmosphere and we all agreed that we were glad we planned it. Later that night, I hope she doesn’t mind me publishing this, but my friend fell ill with chest pains and ended up going to hospital. It was nothing physically serious, but most likely a panic attack, brought on by the anxiety so many of us, myself included, feel when such an important chapter of our lives draws to a close.

University is a stressful, challenging time and a monumental change from school and sixth form and with the state of the economy and so few graduate jobs and rising tuition, there has never been a more difficult to enter or graduate further education. After chatting openly with friends and a quick Google, student depression and anxiety are far from uncommon, so why does no one talk about it?

I went to uni without thinking about it. I grew up hearing that if you did well in your GCSE’s, you went to college to study A Levels, if you did well in those, then you went to uni and got a great job afterwards. You also hear about the generic student lifestyle, that it’s a constant party, a good laugh and once in a lifetime experience. So kids move off to uni, fresh from school and eager for independence, however lacking the mental capacity or general know how to go it alone. One day you’re at home, the next you’re left alone in your new flat/student house, forcing yourself to interact and become instant best friends with your new house mates. Then of course for the students not lucky enough to be receiving money from their parents or having their rent paid, there is the sudden financial strain too.  Suddenly, maybe the work load is a shock. I quickly learnt that where I could wing it and do brilliantly in college, I actually had to put a lot more effort and research in at uni. Or perhaps the money runs out, or they regret their choice of university, or just find it hard to adapt to their new lifestyle and miss their old one. Perhaps they panic about what they will do after university. I experienced a few of these in my first year, some even in my second and third, and from what I understand, they are not uncommon experiences.

The thing is, no one wants to admit there is a problem. Whether its fear of failure, or just wanting to seem grown up and independent, or just not wanting to admit that it’s not all you thought it would be, people don’t talk about it. It’s so easy to compare lives with old friends on Facebook or Twitter, look at their fun night out pictures or statuses tagging their housemates and bragging about work experience and wonder ‘what am I doing wrong?’ No one wants to feel like ‘the one that couldn’t do uni properly’ or ‘the one that went to a crap uni.’

This is all without mentioning the workload and physical strain that can result in. I’d often find myself jumping out of bed in the middle of the night, thinking it was time to get up, or remembering something I just had to write down. I was tired all the time, caught every cold going and generally looked terrible.

Yet no one seems to want to admit to any of this. Bottling all of this up, it’s no wonder that students suffer from anxiety or depression, loneliness, homesickness and other disorders or emotions associated with them. It’s so much easier said than done to just get your head down, or ‘man up and get on with it.’It's not that easy. These emotions need to be recognised in students, and students need to start speaking up. Speak to your parents, speak to your friends. Even speak to your lecturers or a uni counsellor. Basically, this entry is to students, graduates and prospective students everywhere. It’s okay to not be okay, or to feel overwhelmed. It’s also okay to talk about it. I guarantee that regardless of how many happy Facebook statuses and ‘mad night on the lash’ photos you see, you’re not alone. Keep at it, and eventually you too will find yourself in the beer garden at the end of third year with a few of the wonderful people you’ve met, marvelling at just how far you’ve come, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. 

End of an era :) 










Thursday, 24 May 2012

Just letting it happen


Sorry for the small absence, if I have anyone to apologise to. I disappeared to my boyfriend’s again. With my endless involuntary leisure time and his working a weekend shift this week, I thought I might as well. We got together four years ago when I was at sixth form and had a weekend job, then had to cope with the distance, stress and numerous other part time jobs that uni has thrown our way, so I suppose one silver lining of my current situation is that we can see more of each other, but know that when the situation changes again, as it inevitably will because things always do, we can cope.

I suppose I’d like that say that after embracing the chaos for so long, I’m finding my suddenly empty diary and dwindling student loan hard to handle. I disappeared to my boyfriends, and ceased to worry about everything. He is the most laid back person I have ever met and after resisting his happy go lucky approach to life for so long, this week, I have learnt that sometimes, it’s okay to just let things happen.
Enjoying the little things still, we went to TGI Friday’s (the ribs were wider than me. There is a picture kicking about but I’m not putting it on here!) and we went to the gym and I ran my elusive 3km. We’ve also had a cinema date and junk food and TV, generally everything couples might generically do all crammed into two days, and it’s been lovely.

Knowing I had to go home, I started worrying this afternoon about the fact I still haven’t heard about a placement or a job and was feeling a bit sad at the thought of going back to my nothingness at home. But then lo and behold, my phone rang. It was the careers service at uni who organise my placements. Gary has been massively helpful and was phoning to let me know that they hadn’t forgotten about me and were still looking for a placement. He asked how I was getting on with the job search and plans for reapplying for the PGCE and such. He then asked if I was going out tomorrow. I was baffled as to why he’s ask, but then he pointed out that tomorrow is my last official day of my course.

It seems momentous, and even though I’m poor, I couldn’t stand the thought of not celebrating the end of an era. I sent a text around and there is a few of us meeting in one of the union’s beer gardens tomorrow afternoon, then going to get ready and dressed up and making a night of it. I always complain about my social life, but my friends are actually the greatest. This fact was further proved as I came home to find that my friend who works in a card shop had put an application form through my door.
So by just letting things happen, I’ve realised I’m not alone, and things will pick up as long as I keep applying for things and being patient. In the meantime, I just have to enjoy myself the best I can. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Remember What You Love


I spent well over two hours earlier moping about, feeling sorry for myself because I had nothing to do. I’d returned from my boyfriend’s earlier in the afternoon, been riding and had been planning to go to the marina with a friend to sit in one of our favourite cafĂ©’s on yet another lady date. However, she still has an essay to finish for uni, so understandably cancelled.

I’ve been preaching constantly about learning to enjoy my own company, but I was so bored! I quickly fell back into my old habit of staring into space, fixating on how bored I am instead of actively doing anything about it. I’ve had quite an unhealthy, but let’s call it indulgent weekend food wise, and horse riding is exercise, even if not as effective as running or going to the gym, so I figured I could put off running until tomorrow and I would continue to enjoy my self- indulgent weekend. So I did the most self-indulgent thing I could think of and ran a hot bath.

Every Christmas, I specifically ask for Soap and Glory or Sanctuary bath and beauty products. I use Soap and Glory every day in the shower, so I opted for Sanctuary, mainly because I love the slightly spicy smell and it seems so luxurious. Had no one been home, I would have been playing Needtobreathe while I had a bath, but I didn’t think my parents would appreciate Christian rock. I like it (even though I’m not religious) because it manages to be calming, but upbeat and positive. There’s nothing worse than being a foul mood and hearing Adele or Death Cab for Cutie. My mam just loves to play Adele while she does her housework, but personally, I can’t think of anything less motivating.  And back to why I didn’t play Needtobreathe, I hate being forced to listen to other people’s music, a pet peeve from first year student accommodation and public transport, so I won’t do it to others. This is all irrelevant, so I’ll not bore you with the order I used my Sanctuary stuff and move on.

I forgot all about writing an entry because I’m reading We Need to Talk about Kevin, and I’m really enjoying it. I was uncertain at first because the prose is over descriptive and in places, unnecessarily complex for a first person narrator. However, 30% in (the kindle told me it’s 30%,) I get it. It is necessary and its different and compelling, even a bit disturbing, but I can’t think of anything worse than a book not rousing any emotional response at all. I love books that challenge me.

I had a break between chapters and remembered that I wanted to write a blog entry, but really didn’t know what. I panicked and thought ‘I’ve conquered nothing I’ve feared, or even done anything remotely interesting with my weekend.’ But I realised that like the narrator of my book (minus the sociopathic son) I was being self-indulgent in my own pity. I haven’t done anything outstanding or achieved anything this weekend, but that’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative and forget what you enjoyed.

For example, my horse can always make my day. Whether she’s walking sideways to try and avoid rain fall, or mugging me for polos, she makes me laugh. I’ve always been around horses, hence my ease with them, and I’ve been riding for almost fifteen years and owned Meg for nine. Going to the farm is an escape from everything. There’s always something that needs doing, and I truly believe that horse and handler/rider have a unique, unconditional bond. It makes my day when I shout her in the field and she’ll whinny and trot over to me and today was no exception. I love riding, and I love being with my horse.

I also spent time with my sister and my nephew, and while I’m dreadful with kids, I actually enjoyed watching him play and enjoyed spending time with my sister while he did.

But the personal highlight was going to my boyfriend’s. He just got an iPhone 4s (I get one later this week! Yey!) and while waiting for our pizza, we tested Siri. I actually cried with laughter when he said ‘I love you Siri’ to which she replied, ‘you can’t.’ Similarly, when he got annoyed and shouted ‘f*** you Siri’ she just responded with ‘ask nicely.’ It also turns out that she ‘doesn’t do knock knock jokes.’ Simple, but hilarious. Probably hilarious in the way that only he and I will get, but that’s what makes it great. We just get each other. We can’t always explain why we enjoy each other’s company, but we do.

I guess the point I’m making, is that things often seem bad, only because we’re so eager to fixate on the bad and indulge in self-pity. If we take a few minutes to think of the simple things that made us smile, the things we enjoy and the things personal to us that we can’t explain and fixate on them instead, then we would be a lot happier. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Decisions Decisions


For once in my life, possibly because I documented it online and possibly because I just spent what feels like a small fortune on a pair of trainers, I did what I said I would do.

I applied for a few part time jobs and am about to apply for another. Nothing flash or to brag about, and I’m over qualified for all of them, but money is money and as the student loan begins to dwindle, I can’t be picky and would much rather work any job than be stuck at home all day. I did struggle with one of the applications. After studying a degree in English Studies and failing GCSE maths and passing it second time by half a mark, basic arithmetic is beyond me. I used a calculator for almost every question and pen, paper or my fingers for the rest. I’m not ashamed. Tills tell you the change you need to give these days and my long term aim is to teach English, not tell you how the total of four pairs of shorts that are £3.94 each. I mean £3.94? What ever happened to a good, solid £4?

After hitting send on the applications, I stumbled across an email from the university careers service. It was basically advertising a graduate job (a real adult job!) working for an organisation that supports local charities. The salary was quite good and after noseying through their website, I felt I could probably ace the interview. This confused me. This wasn’t just a part time job, this was an ‘it’s this right now and will have big implications so make a decision opportunity. It was too much to handle so I went for a run.
I took my new trainers out for a run and turned on the tracking app on my phone. I pushed myself further than I normally would and my new trainers are awesome! They feel like I’m bouncing along. I managed to get 2.6 km. I was knackered at the end of it, but I enjoyed the challenge. However, I still felt no further forward in the decision making.

I went for another run/walk with my sister a few hours later. I agreed to do the Race for Life with her ages ago, but we rarely get chance to train together, so I would have felt bad saying I’d already been. We had a break in the dene and I got chance to explain my situation to her. I told her that £14,000 seems like a good opportunity, but I wouldn’t have the time to do voluntary work in schools and such, so it would put the teaching course out of the window even if I quit after a year. The fact I was even still considering voluntary work gave me my answer, so when she asked me ‘So what do you really want to do?’ I replied with a clarity that I’ve never really had before, ‘I want to teach.’

So there we have it. It finally hit me that my year out seemed necessary. I’m also eligible to be a student volunteer or student worker for up to two years after I graduate, so I reapplied for that as well. Hoping to get a work experience opportunity and a part time job sorted very soon, but at least applying for them has helped me realise that my current time off/dossing about is only temporary, and is probably necessary to recover from uni!

Probably won’t get chance to post tomorrow. I’m going to go for a run, ride my horse and spend some time with my sister and probably my nephew before going to my boyfriend’s for a film and bad tv night.

See you Sunday! 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Commitment



I don’t have commitment issues when it comes to people. I have a handful of close friends and have been with my boyfriend for almost four years. I think its safe to say, that when it comes to people, if I care about someone, I’ll commit to the relationship and try to be the best friend or girlfriend that I can be. Obviously not the 20’s housewife ‘would you like your slippers and pipe?’ kind of good girlfriend, and I refrain from being the overbearing OMG BFF with my friends. I just mean that I treat them how I’d like to be treat, with support, compassion and general caring.

However I do have commitment issues with every other aspect of my life. If I’m not good at something, I’ll probably quit or avoid it like the plague. This is kind of why the blog exists, because not only that, but sometimes I won’t make decisions or put myself forward for things because I think ‘well what if I don’t like it?’ or wonder if something better will magically land in my lap. I’m terrified of regretting a bad decision. I never used to be like that, and it’s probably the reason I’m faced with my year out – because I was scared that work experience would be too stressful or I’d regret the direction it was going in.

I’ve had a great two days with my boyfriend. He lives out of town and as he works in quite small shifts and I don’t work at all and only used to have uni to contend with, we normally spend two full days a week together. I met him from work, we went to the cinema and for something to eat and then just slobbed out in front of the telly. We sometimes go to the gym together, but we really couldn’t be arsed to get the bus today, so went for a run. This was scary in itself. I normally just jog along slowly, or next to my sister who is slightly less fit than me and goes my speed. So jogging next to someone fitter with longer strides for a longer distance was intimidating! I had a bit of a panic that I couldn’t do it half way round and had a small walk to get my breath back, but then I kept running after him to catch him up. I figured that if I walked again, he’s only be waiting longer for me and I had to try. I’m not sure of the distance. I’m certain it was less than 2 miles as it took less than half an hour, but as I normally go in intervals and give up and walk home, I was amazed. I’d done it!

However there was one small problem. I’ve had my trainers a few years and they’ve never been epic to run in, but the last few times, my shins have really ached after. It was promptly pointed out to me that this is not normal and I should get some proper running trainers. Without time to think, I made the snap decision to go to Sports Direct there and then and buy them with the money I had in my purse from my mam. (She felt sorry for me having to pay for a fourth driving test so gave me the money for it.) So there was my first commitment of the day. A commitment to run, else I’ll have wasted a fair bit of money!

The next one was of a different nature and equally doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone but me, but I’ve been trying to get another school placement for work experience and the volunteer co-ordinator at uni is taking his sweet time about it. Today I got a text from the volunteer service asking people if they were interested into going into a school once a week for six weeks to work as a mentor and promote higher education. The school would take me either two or three busses to get to and I have no idea when I would start, what day it would be on and I’ve heard the school is a bit rough. But I replied expressing my interest, and am actually really hoping it comes to something! It’s exactly the kind of work experience I need to reapply for a teaching course. Besides, I went to a rough school, and after thinking about it, would quite like the challenge of working somewhere a bit more difficult. It’s only for six days over six weeks. What’s the worst that could happen?

These things don’t sound big, but when I normally worry over the smallest detail and how it would affect me, it’s quite good progress! As for the trainers, I picked a pair that at least looks pretty and I actually want to run in. 
Incentive to improve!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Driving Test Attempt 3



Well today’s entry is a challenge, as I just managed to fail my driving test for the third time, and can’t even retake it for another month.

I’ve been learning to drive for over a year, and have been taking and retaking a test a month since March. I’m getting nowhere fast and the infuriating part is, I’m failing on ridiculous things. So what have I learnt from the nerve wracking, tense, terrifying situation that is a driving test?

Answer: That the failure is soul destroying, as is telling your nearest and dearest that you failed again. Knowing that I’m going to have to go back onto the horrible, rickety rackety bus that takes an hour longer than necessary and occasionally doesn’t turn up has had me curled up in tears on my bed for a good hour three times now and I’m growling less certain that I’ll ever be able to drive or that the test is even possible to pass.

So how do you get over it? You can’t, but after throwing that much time, money and aspiration at driving, I can’t just give up. So I looked at my test sheet: unlike last time, it’s completely fair and I understand exactly why I failed and where I went wrong, so now I can work on it. I’ve had a cry to my driving instructor, parents and to my boyfriend and friends, then followed my dad and driving instructor’s advice: try not to dwell, its just bad luck so rebook as soon as possible. 

So that’s exactly what I’ve done. A month away isn’t ideal, but it’s the best its going to get. I’ve rebooked and now I just have to get on with things the same way I always have. Slowly and via public transport.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Lady Date



Yesterday I asked a couple of my friends if they wanted to go to Whitby today. I thought I would take control and organise something different, that doesn’t cost much money and is definitely not Middlesbrough where we normally meet for uni. Two of them were busy with work and such, but the other was free, so we decided to go on a road trip to Whitby.

I had all good intentions of going in the Dracula experience so that I’d have something really terrifying to write about today, but I once went through it and got so scared that I ran out of the emergency exit. Besides, Clare’s driving is terrifying enough. I think I had what Fight Club would call a near life experience and almost ended up near living right up the car in front’s arse. Apart from that, I wouldn’t say I did much scary today, unless you count my massive plate of fish and chips followed by a huge slab of toffee cake.

We wandered about on our lady date and found ourselves for the first time in ages talking about our interests and lives instead of uni or careers. Enjoying the wander and taking stupid photos, we even bought friendship bracelets as a souvenir of our lady date and walked to the abbey. I bought my parents a jar of rock and my boyfriend some fudge in a Star Wars tin. I’ll get my sister and nephew some sweets when I see them at the weekend perhaps. We did all the things you’re meant to do in Whitby, even walked along the pier and went to the lucky duck shop. I didn’t buy one mind. I have two already, used to be three but I dropped one and its head broke off. Clearly wasn’t that lucky.

Friends!
On the way home, I did get a little bit of bad news. I had one voice mail from House of Fraser and one from the pub I applied to work in and was offered a trial shift. The House of Fraser one was only offering me an interview for four hours work on Sundays, and it’s out of town and not worth it for so few hours. I originally applied for part time meaning 8-16 hours. The other was telling me that there was no longer a vacancy at the pub, the person who I was replacing had been on long term sick leave, but was suddenly well enough to go back to work, so there was no need for me. I do feel a little disappointed, but instead of crying and wondering why people didn’t want me, or getting depressed by my grim prospects, I know something will come along eventually, and that my prospects aren’t really grim, I just need to make them better.

This isn’t really an inspirational day. I haven’t faced anything that would normally make me nervous, but I’ve been genuinely happy and free from responsibility and not allowed myself to worry about anything. For me, this is a huge step forward.

Casually posing by the life ring. 

Not that it’s going to last. I have my third driving test tomorrow. Perhaps I should spend tonight watching Scrubs or reading We Need to Talk About Kevin and just make sure I get a good night’s sleep. At least I know I’ll have plenty to write about tomorrow!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

How to be alone



I know this is completely irrational and not normal, but I know a few other people like this. Whether coincidental or not, the two I’m thinking of are female too and constantly feel like they must be busy. As a result, we either feel guilty when we do nothing, or lonely or bored with our own company. Part of my problem is feeling like my life isn’t as productive or fun as other people’s, so when I find myself alone, I get bored and annoyed at how crap and uneventful things seem.

I know that there are a number of reasons that we as women may feel this way. We have magazines telling us to do everything: have a career, have a relationship, look great, have hobbies, socialise with your many friends and did I mention, look great. Of course we want to look like those smiling pictures of tanned, beautiful women gathered over cocktails or frolicking about on the beach. We want that life and want to make all of this happen, so of course we’re disappointed when we don’t, when we find ourselves at a loose end, wandering about the house in jogging bottoms, eating kit kats and flicking through the virgin media channels to end up watching Two and a Half Men again. (Before Ashton Kutcher ruined it of course.)
So as it is Sunday, and I found myself with no plans, I decided to start tackling this fear of missing out. I decided to learn to enjoy my own company and embrace unproductivity. How can you be any real fun when socialising if you don’t know who you are alone and left to your own devices? I realised that sometimes, we socialise for the sake of socialising and it’s not as fun as it should be because we’re only focusing on the fact we are out and about and how it proves the existence of our social life, not that we’re with friends, which is surely the whole point.

I read in Glamour magazine recently, that even when you REALLY don’t want to exercise, you’ll never regret doing it anyway. It was actually comparing that to sex and trying to persuade you to have more, but that’s not really relevant for a make-up free, fat pant wearing Sunday afternoon. Anyway, I decided that it was windy and cold and I REALLY didn’t want to jog, but I would do it regardless.  I’d go at my own pace and take the scenic route. I’m lucky enough to live near a beach, dene, walkway and cliffs and it’s really beautiful and peaceful. I actually found myself not only enjoying my jog, but finding paths through the sand dunes I’d never taken and ways to the beach I’d never noticed, so my jog turned into an adventure as well. I came home with my need for adventure and experience well and truly satisfied, as well as the endorphins you get after a good, sweaty work out.

Feeling good about things and having worked away my restlessness, I made a cup of coffee and sat down with my kindle and reacquainted myself with Chuck Palahniuk. I really enjoyed Fight Club and Invisible Monsters when I was in college, so thought I would sit down and read Damned, like I’ve been meaning to since it came out. Two more coffee trips to the kitchen and a couple of hours later and I’d not only got through the book, but realised I’d made it through an afternoon alone and without checking Facebook or Twitter, and I really, truly enjoyed it.

I rediscovered me time, the benefits of a good workout and life without Facebook. Even if just for an hour, I’m going to make sure I take time out where I don’t use my iPhone or laptop, and I just enjoy my own company. Even if it’s just to paint my nails, which I am going to do right now.  I’m thinking Barry M Raspberry or Lavender. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Every day, do something that scares you



I have no idea where I picked up this phrase, but I feel the need to explain why it’s been playing on my mind.

I handed in my last piece of uni work the other day. Not my last piece this year, my LAST ACTUAL PIECE. It is early and none of my friends have finished yet, but there was no ‘lets go to the SU and get hammered!’ or ‘lets go on an amazing last holiday together!’ (Well, there would have been… long story.) It was all a bit anti-climactic and I suddenly have a wealth of spare time on my hands.

‘Get a job?’ You might say. Or ‘Go on a gap yah.’ Easier said than done my friends. See, I did have a plan. I was going to go do my PGCE and become a teacher and earn money and everything would be wonderful. Easy, right? Wrong. I only decided to do this around four months ago, so my application was late and lacking experience and I didn’t make it on to this year’s intake. As for a ‘gap yah.’ I couldn’t even afford to live in student accommodation for more than a year and don’t have a money tree planted with a plaque that reads ‘bank of Dad.’ Plus, I’d probably be killed if I went alone. I get scared waiting for the bus in Hartlepool town centre after 9pm in case I’m mugged. Iphone, kindle and a leather jacket all make me slightly muggable. And yes, I know I said I have no money, but phone is on contract and other two were gifts.

I can’t help but look through facebook and twitter and notice that people I know are actually doing things with their lives. To name a few, one has a great internship in London, another is working in Mumbai and several other people are going to America soon. I could let this go and think ‘I only vaguely know these people, it doesn’t count,’ but my friends are all moving forward too with career plans and post-grad courses and other things unavailable to me on my unintended year out. As a result, I handed in my substandard ‘my dissertation went in weeks ago this doesn’t count’ work and was overwhelmed with a sense of disappointment and abandonment. What if uni was as good as it got for me? What if I’m left alone and bored? What if I never achieve anything I wanted to because I have no money? What if I end up in a crap job forever and ever? Or end up on the dole with no choice but to grow drugs in the loft and have children for the extra benefits? (I watch too much Jeremy Kyle.) What if I get depressed with my lack of direction and find a new direction that leads me to walk into the sea?

I realised suddenly that the people who I actually know and are moving forward, have all done so by taking risks, or making the best of bad situations. Having lived firmly in my comfort zone of ‘nah best not’ and ‘I can’t because of x,y and z’ for the past two years, I decided it’s about time to reunite myself with the ‘life is for living’ eighteen year old I once was. I won’t go into why I’ve gradually grown out of taking risks, I’d be here all day and this is not a therapy blog, but I decided that the key is to push myself back out of my comfort zone and view my current situation as temporary.

I started thinking of things I needed to do in the next few months and the only essentials were to get a job- any job, get a school placement and pass my driving test. Then I thought of things I could do in my spare time and they were endless. All things I’ve wanted to do and haven’t for one reason or another, be it uni, fear of failure or being scared that it just wasn’t practical or I’d look stupid. In short, things that scare me.

So, step one.

I’m finally writing that blog I always meant to, about things I always mean to do, or never thought of doing. I may not do something monumental every day, to be honest, I’ll be amazed if I write every day, but I’ll celebrate the little things. Life is what you make it after all. 800 words and I have completed today’s challenge.

Today, do something that scares you.