milestones

Twenty-Three

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Tomorrow is my twenty-third birthday. I like to reflect on everything I have achieved birthday to birthday and although I’m not where I wanted to be, I have a lot of things to be thankful for and I have learnt a lot of valuable lessons during the past year.

To begin, I want to take note of everything that has changed in my life for the better. Since my last birthday I have started my own positive lifestyle magazine called Zest For Life. I never thought I would have my own publication, the third issue will be released at the end of next month and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

I have learnt a lot of valuable lessons since my last birthday. After struggling with my career and being unemployed, I finally realised that teaching was what I was meant to do. I’m on the road to becoming a Teaching Assistant and may eventually train to be a Teacher, but I’m taking it one step at a time.

I have become more content with the way things are with my family and realised who my true friends are. I’ve had many dark moments when I felt like giving up but I know now that happiness doesn’t come easy, you have to work hard every day, be grateful and be positive, even when everything is falling apart.

This year I have been figuring out my priorities and deciding where I want to be in five years time and ten years time. I want to travel and live abroad, learn new languages, meet new people and see where this new career in teaching will take me. Having a family of my own is far from my mind and me and my partner agree that we have too many adventures of our own to have before we settle down.

Something that I’m still struggling with is comparing myself to others. Seeing everyone else move forward with their lives – starting families, learning to drive, buying a house and landing their dream job is hard when I’m still stuck in the same place. I’m currently unemployed, I have no money and I’m constantly daydreaming about the life that I could have when I get myself sorted.

The problem is, I have no control over the situation I’m in. It’s not in my hands whether or not someone decides to give me a chance. I just have to keep reminding myself that failure is only a stepping stone to success. I have to keep trying, stay positive and believe that things will get better.

Age may just be a number but our society is built around milestones and I have many that I still want to achieve before I reach my thirties. Being in your twenties is the hardest time of your life, it’s a time to make mistakes, try new things and find what makes you happy. Twenty-Three is another milestone and I can’t wait to see what amazing things will happen in my life before I turn Twenty-Four.

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milestones

Nothing Lasts Forever

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Credit: Jacob Munro

The thing about life that I am learning is that nothing lasts forever. I’m starting to realise that despite my best efforts, I can’t control everything that happens to me and I can’t predict what will happen in the future.

This might be easy for most people to accept, but for me, it’s hard to let go of the ideologies and expectations I have for myself and other people. My anxiety is taking over a lot these days. I thought I had control of my insecurities and worries after doing weeks of therapy but sure enough, I’m slipping back into old habits.

I sometimes wonder what I would be capable of if fear did not exist. I would be unstoppable if I didn’t have my anxiety holding me back, reminding me of everything that could go wrong in a situation and all of the bad things about the world. I try to be positive and I’m bouncing back much quicker than I used to, thanks to the therapy.

However, when something out of your control happens and throws you back into the bad situation you were in before, how do you deal with it? I got fired last week and although I hated the job with a passion and didn’t want to be there, it was keeping me financially stable. Now I feel like I’m in deep dark waters once more, trying to keep my head above the surface and feeling tired from constant effort required to keep going.

After university, I thought I had it all figured out, I wanted to be a paid writer. Now I want to go into teaching, I’m currently volunteering at a primary school once a week and will hopefully be doing more days now I don’t have my office job tying me down.

I’m exciting about the new career path but at the same time, I’m terrified. The days I’m in the school, I feel overwhelmed because it’s new but happy because it’s a place where I want to be. The days when I’m not at the school are long and sometimes I slip into depressive moods and feel like I’m going nowhere.

Nothing lasts forever. I knew the job in the office I had was going to be temporary but I didn’t expect to lose it and be forced back into unemployment. Maybe this is life’s way of pushing me in the direction of a new career? I was getting too comfortable and I needed to be vulnerable again to really go after what I want.

The problem is, I have lost my motivation. After so much rejection and disappointment, I have no burning desire any more to fight for a purpose. That’s how I feel on what I call a ‘bad day.’ On a ‘good day’ I feel positive, ready for whatever life throws at me and content with the ways things are but those days are few and far between.

I want to believe in a bright future, I only have to see beyond the grey clouds and some days this is easier than others. I’m sure I will get everything I want in life but it will take time. Life is full of tests and I believe that this is just another test, a chance for me to prove that despite how bad things get, I can find the strength to be positive and keep on going.

 

 

 

 

milestones

Reaching A Mental Health Milestone

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During the past few years, I have struggled with my mental health. I have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which means I constantly worry about everything and experience high amounts of anxiety for no reason at all. It took me a long time to accept that my anxiety was part of me, something that I couldn’t erase, something that couldn’t be ‘cured’ with a prescription of pills from the doctor.

A few months ago, when I reached a dark place with my anxiety and depression, I finally admitted to myself that I needed help. I would go days without leaving the house, I would sometimes sit and stare into space, pondering on the bad things that have happened in my life or bad things that ‘could’ happen in the future. I felt like I was trapped by my own mind, it’s a horrible feeling and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

Having an anxiety disorder is unpredictable. You may go through periods of time without any anxiety at all and then all of a sudden, it’s back and suffocating your thoughts like a dark cloud. I thought I was strong enough to battle my mental health issue on my own and convinced myself that I was ‘in control’ and my anxiety would get better over time, but it didn’t.

I had tried all of the ‘self-help’ options and nothing worked. I was crippled by anxiety, always worrying about the future or feeling sad about the past. I reached a dark place, where I thought medication was the only option for me to proceed. Then, a shining light appeared and everything changed for me. I found the strength to ask for professional help. It was a waiting game but I finally got on the list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

I have to be honest, I was sceptical at first. I had convinced myself that my natural way of thinking, the negative way I approach life and every situation couldn’t be reversed. After a few weeks of therapy sessions, I started to notice a change. I had unconsciously started to think more about my ‘unhelpful thinking style’ and started to rationalise with the voice in my head when negativity surfaced. The great thing about CBT is that it strips back to the bare bones of how you think, how this effects your behaviour and how you can change this in the future.

David, my therapist was amazing. He was honest, critical and helpful in our sessions. Always sending me home with ‘homework’ to do, such as thought diaries and weekly schedules, he discovered what my triggers were and how to remove them from my life. For me it was during my alone time that I experienced more anxiety and more depressive thoughts. The answer for me was to always keep myself busy and distract myself by colouring, reading, doing yoga or simply doing some meditation.

Ever since I started CBT, I managed to pull myself out of the depressive state that I found myself in for months, started to fight against my negative thoughts and made small changes in my life that were going to improve my overall wellbeing. I am going to do yoga as often as I can, learn how to meditate, practice mindfulness and make sure I find time to relax each day. I’m going to still have bad days and now I realise that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes and it’s normal to worry, as long as it doesn’t take over your life.

I feel like I am reaching a mental health milestone. I have learnt in the past few months that anxiety cannot be ‘cured’ it can only be ‘managed.’ I have discovered that if I give attention to my anxiety and say to myself that I am mentally ill or there is something wrong with me, it only fuels my negativity and it will probably erase any progress that I have made.

I feel like I have reached a pinnacle of understanding. I accepted my anxiety was a problem, I asked for help and now I no longer feel alone on this journey to achieve a positive mindset. I have a long way to go but I finally feel like I can see the light at the end of a dark tunnel of worry, insecurity, anxiety and doubt. Like a butterfly, I feel free to go anywhere I want to go and do anything I want to do. I want to believe in hope instead of fear. I want to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. My anxiety will never ‘go away’ but I’m confident that I’m now in control of how I think, how I feel and how I behave.

 

milestones

A Change Of Heart

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I will always be a writer. No matter what my job title is or what I do during the day, writing is my passion and I wouldn’t be ‘me’ without it. However, recently I’ve started to feel less like a writer. Maybe that’s because I haven’t really been doing much ‘writing.’ You see, a few months ago I was feeling lost, I had no job, I was on the dole, still missed being at university and had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Then, something good happened. I got a part-time job working for an online magazine and they were paying me, yes, finally, I thought!

Everything started to fall into place after that, or so I thought. I started to volunteer as a Creative Writing Workshop Mentor at a local hostel and I decided to start my own online feel good magazine called Zest For Life. I thought I was finally going down the right path, until I realised that something was missing. I was no longer writing. I was filling up my time with other projects and jobs that I no longer had the time nor the motivation to write fiction, which is a big part of who I am.

I love being the editor and founder of Zest For Life, it’s hard work and I’m not receiving the amount of help from my friends that I thought I would, but I created something from nothing, which is what I love to do. I decided to stop volunteering at the hostel because some weeks I would turn up and none of the residents wanted to take part, I was enthusiastic to inspire them but they didn’t want to be inspired.

I did however, have one really good session with them whilst I was volunteering there. I managed to inspire them to write, a member of staff told me that it was the first time she had seen some of them smile like that in weeks, I had a warm feeling in my chest as I left the hostel. I knew I had made a difference to someone’s day. That’s when it hit me. The epiphany, the impulse to help people, the day that I started to doubt my career choice.

I want to teach. I don’t know why I didn’t realise this before but it hit me and now the feeling won’t go away. Of course, my anxiety reminds me daily of everything that could go wrong if I decide to do it and I am still on the fence about what I really want. I thought I wanted the 9-5 office job, sitting at a computer all day, writing. Now, I’m not so sure. I get bored easily and I want a job that is different every single day. I also have this need to help and inspire people. I have always loved children (even though I am definitely not ready for my own). So why not take the plunge and train to be a primary school teacher?

I’m at a crossroads, I am so confused about what I really want and exactly who I want to be. One thing I know for definite is that I love to write, what ever that may be. I think my lack of writing fiction is due to having too much going on in my mind right now, once I sort through it, I’m sure the ideas will come and I will start writing again.

I was so sure that I wanted to go into publishing and magazines and a small part of me still wants to, but I would have to relocate to London and I’m not willing to do that. I have definitely had a change of heart, I just need to decide what to do with it. Do I ignore it and carry on knowing I’m not full happy with my career choice? Do I leave the world of publishing and magazines behind after all of my hard work and go into teaching?

What ever decision I make, it will change my life. I just have to picture the future version of myself in my mind and decide exactly what I want that picture to be.

milestones

The Need To Succeed

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Energy and persistence conquer all things – Benjamin Franklin

I may have lost my way for a while but I now feel back to my old self. My ambitious, hard-working and motivated self that wants to succeed. I have so many projects and exciting opportunities happening right now that I haven’t even had the time to blink and really think about how far I have come in the past month.

Persistence is something that comes naturally to me. Sure, I can give into the temptation of being lazy for a day and say that I will do something tomorrow but in the back of my mind, it all keeps on turning. Like an old grandfather clock, my mind never stops. The hand always goes round and round and even when I don’t think I’m thinking about everything I have to and want to do, it’s still there, encouraging me to keep going. I have this ongoing need to succeed.

I want to update this blog as much as I used to but there are not enough hours in the day to achieve everything I want to and I have to learn to prioritize. In the last few weeks I have managed to land myself a paid part-time freelance writing job, volunteer at a hostel as a mentor in Creative Writing, sign up to be a volunteer at The Manchester Literature Festival and start my own online magazine Zest For Life. It’s in the very early stages but please follow the Zest For Life Blog here.

Adding to that I have a novel that is still stuck on 4,000 words because I haven’t had the time to focus on it. I am still writing short stories and poetry for collections that I will put together one day in the future. I still contribute articles for two online magazines and I also have this blog. If that wasn’t enough, I’m also signing up for a night class once a week, the class is being taught by a successful author who will be teaching the different ways to publish your writing.

I know I have a lot of things going on in my life right now but I like to be busy. The days were so long when I had nothing to do and no motivation to start anything new. Now, I feel my old self again. I am ready to take on anything life throws at me. I still think about the future but I am really in love with my life right now.

There’s a burning passion inside of me for words. I want to write. I want to be a successful writer. One day I want to be a successful author. I want an amazing career. I want to complete all of the projects that I have set for myself. I want to take every opportunity that comes my way. I want to succeed and I’ve decided to start enjoying every second of my life.

milestones

Good Things Come To Those Who Work Hard

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Today is the day I’ve been waiting for, I’ve finally got a job. It’s been a year since I graduated university with a degree in Creative Writing and it’s been a tough year with a lot of rejection and a lot of disappointment but perseverance has finally paid off. When they say good things come to those who wait, it’s true but you also need to work hard and not expect anything to be easy. When I left university, I was blindly optimistic and perhaps a little naive, I thought I would get a job straight away. It’s fifteen months later and I’ve finally landed to job that I wanted. I am finally going to get paid to write. Good things are finally happening for me.

It’s been a long year and I have struggled with having no money, no job and no sense of purpose. There were some days that I didn’t want to get out of bed because I didn’t see the point. I was frustrated by the lack of momentum in not just my career but my life, I felt stuck. However, I managed to live day by day, I did my best to stay positive and I never stopped believing in myself. Now I can say that I have made it through. Years of working for magazines for free and now I will be paid to write for Female First, an online magazine that I previously worked for two years ago. They were impressed with me during my internship and contacted me directly when the freelance position came available. I believe that this will be a great opportunity for me and it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

I am learning that if you really want something in life you have to stay positive, work hard and believe that you can do it. I still have a long way to go, I don’t know where I will be working or what I will be doing in one year, five years or even ten years but if there is anything I have learnt from being in limbo waiting for a job it is this, you have to live day by day. Think about the future sometimes but don’t focus too much on it, don’t dwell on what you don’t have, what you haven’t achieved and what you will never be. Focus on being present, live your life with a positive attitude and be grateful for what you already have.

milestones

Twenty Two

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Tomorrow is my 22nd birthday.

I was re-reading my post Twenty that I wrote two years ago today. I remember writing it like it was yesterday. I am still the same person that I was when I wrote that blog post, I still have the same dreams and I still believe that turning twenty was a defining moment in my life. Since then I have graduated from university, I have visited Dublin with my boyfriend, I have started an internship at VIVA magazine and I have started to make plans for my future.

Honestly, it has been a hard two years, there have been a lot of struggles but everything I go through is making me a stronger person. I’m trying to live my life day by day instead of year by year but my mind always wanders to the future. I’m a dreamer, I always have been and always will be.

Another birthday is passing by and I might not be where I want to be but I have to be patient, I have time. I have years to accomplish everything I want to do. I am enjoying my life right now. I might not have a job or enough money to buy the things I want to buy and go to places I really want to go to but I am surrounded by love. I have to believe that my future will be bright. I have to believe that things will get better and I have to believe in myself.

If there is one thing that changes every year on my birthday, it’s my perspective. Whenever my birthday approaches, I look at life in a different way. I look back on the year that has passed and what I have achieved in that time. Life is a journey and sometimes we don’t appreciate moments until they are memories. I’m going to start enjoying the present. I’m going to be patient and grateful, I am going to smile even when I feel like I can’t and I’m going to keep hoping and dreaming that I will make it to my next birthday and I will be one step closer to my dreams and one step closer to the person I want to be.

Blog Updates

I’ve Been Nominated For The Sunshine Blogger Award!

I am so happy to accept the Sunshine Award Nomination from an amazing blogger – AimingForScorpion. Thank you so much! Check out her blog here.

So as for the award, here are the rules:

Thank the person who nominated you.
Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
Nominate a few other bloggers.
Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you nominated.
Notify the bloggers on their blog.
Put the award button on your blog.

Questions

WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS?

Happiness often feels like an unreachable goal to me, but being truly happy is quite simply, a choice. A choice that only you can make. You have to wake up every morning and choose to be happy, no matter what life throws at you. You have to fight the sad, angry, jealous and toxic feelings that overcome you and be happy with your life. Finding happiness is a journey that I am on right now. I have days when I am incredibly happy but others when I feel like I want the ground to swallow me up. I’m trying to find a balance. I’m trying hard to see past everything that is holding me back and see the light. That’s what happiness is to me, it’s light. We live in a cruel, negative and dark world at times and happiness is a ray of sunshine, a light that won’t burn out. One day I will choose to be happy and I will stop letting negativity overshadow my life but I’m not ready yet, I have many lessons to learn, not just about how to be happy and content with my life but about overcoming the obstacles that I face and learning to deal with my emotions.

IS IT WORSE TO FAIL AT SOMETHING OR NEVER ATTEMPT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

JK Rowling said that ‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.’ I agree with every single word of this. Life is difficult and messy and sometimes you’re not going to achieve what you want to right away. The path to success is paved with disappointment. I am getting closer to my goals but I know that I will encounter more failure along the way. I think if you really want something, if you feel it deep down in your gut that it’s what you need to be doing then no amount of failure will be able to stop you.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE JUST ONE THING TO CHANGE ABOUT THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

It’s hard to choose just one but if I could I would erase negativity from the world. It’s hard to stay positive and live a happy life when you live in a world that’s constantly trying to pull you down, telling you who you should love, what you should do with your life, how you should look and who you should be.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS.

Different. Ambitious. Creative.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?

I have so many favourite quotes because I am in love with words, especially wise ones from people who have lived influential lives. One of my all time favourite quotes is ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.’ It’s a true phrase of how we should all live our lives. I want to follow this philosophy, I want to dance in the rain even when the sun doesn’t shine, it’s easy to just say it but actually doing it, well, that’s another thing entirely.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Embrace all of the things about yourself that make you different. Don’t worry too much about what path you will go down, who you will meet and what your purpose in life is because you already know, you have always known. You are a writer. You live and breathe words and no matter what the future holds, just know that words will get you through anything.

WHEN YOU DAYDREAM, WHERE DOES YOUR MIND WANDER?

I’m a future thinker. It’s not always a good thing because thinking too much about the future or the past can cause a lot of anxiety. It’s something I struggle with. My mind is constantly wandering, wondering and wishing.

I nominate: Kayla’s Only Heart, House of Heart, Send Sunshine & Forgotten Meadows.

Here are your questions.

What one thing in your life would you change?

Why do you blog?

What inspires you?

Describe your life in three words.

Opinion

Waiting & Wishing

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Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

I’m always wishing for something or thinking about something I want. I know that I should appreciate what I already have but sometimes, I find myself stuck in an endless cycle of negativity and hopelessness. I’m tired of struggling. I just want everything to happen. Right now. I don’t want to wait any longer. I’m still waiting for the day that changes everything.

Why is it so difficult to see what is right in front of me? What is this selfish need that all humans have to always want more? I feel like I have fallen into the same trap that everybody else falls into. I have it imprinted in my mind that the only way I am ever going to live a happy life is to get everything I want. But I know deep down that none of it really matters.

I have a long mental list of things that I want to complete, I want to have lots of money and own expensive possessions, get my a dream job, be able to travel the world and possibly have a family of my own one day. But do I really want all of that? More importantly, do I really need all of that? Or is society’s influence so strong that I don’t know the difference between what I really want and who I want to be and what society expects of me?

Dreaming is an important part of living. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better life and wishing for good things to happen but when they start to control your overall happiness, it becomes a big problem. And it’s starting to become a big problem for me. I’m only twenty one years old, why do I feel this pressure to achieve everything and have everything I want right now? I blame society. I blame social media. I blame the high expectations that are set by others. I also blame myself for succumbing to this toxic way of thinking. I don’t need to follow any guidelines, my life is not going to be the same as anyone else’s, I need to start believing this.

I try and switch off and embrace the day, live my life and stop worrying about the future but it’s hard. None of us know how much time we have and I think that urgency causes this need to want everything right now. I want so many things. Maybe I should start focusing on what I need? I already have everything I need. I have amazing friends, a family, a loving partner and a home. I am more privileged than most but I fail to see how lucky I am on a daily basis. I am surrounded by love, I experience happiness every day but I don’t realise it because it is clouded by the pressures of the future and everything I have yet to achieve and material possessions I have yet to own.

I need to stop thinking of happiness as a goal. Life is a journey and finding happiness is part of that journey. I’m not always going to be happy. I’m going to have days that I feel so bad about my life that I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning and that’s okay because there are plenty of days ahead of me that I will experience joy and contentment. I might not be where I want to be right now but I need to start enjoying the present and stop fretting about the future. I’m not perfect, I’m going to make lots of mistakes, I’m still young and I still have so much I need to learn about this crazy and perplexing thing we call life.