Twenty-Four

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So tomorrow is my twenty-fourth birthday. If I could use one word to reflect on the year that has passed between my twenty-third birthday and now, it would be strength. I have found a strength that helps me to get back up when I fall. I have found an inner strength to do what I know I am meant to do, teach. The road to being a teacher is going to be a hard one but I know that my passion, dedication and strength will get me there.

I have also realised the importance of gratitude and appreciation of the little things that make me happy. It isn’t easy for me to be positive but I always try to think of at least three things I am grateful for each day. No matter how bad my day may be or how I feel about the direction of my life, I always try to step back and evaluate the blessings in my life rather than the imperfections.

Some days I do feel stuck, like the world is passing me by, the clock is ticking and I am no closer to getting the life I want, but I am learning now to stop, notice my negative thoughts, then change them. This is something I learned in therapy and I am starting to slowly apply it to my life.

I have to keep telling myself that my life path has its own timeline and what may take someone one year to do, may take me five, but it doesn’t matter. I strongly believe that in life ambition will lead you to success, perseverance will lead to positive actions and positivity will lead you to happiness. I remind myself on a daily basis of my goals and I always see each day as another small step towards achieving them.

My challenge for myself during the next year of my life (before I reach the grand old age of 25) is to start living in the present moment. This is something that I struggle with and is the root cause of my anxiety. With a combination of studying Buddhism, meditating and practicing yoga, I am slowly but surely on the way to learning how to be mindful and just ‘be’.

Another challenge in my path this following year will be balance. I know that when I start my teacher training in September (if I pass this maths test), I will struggle with the work-life balance. Finding time to relax and enjoy life, with the chaotic, stressful and challenging year of studying, working and learning.

Whatever happens in the 365 days between now and my twenty-fifth birthday, I hope that I find joy in the little things, I hope I learn to believe in myself more, to laugh, love and live each day with a positive attitude because life is passing me by and I don’t want to waste any more time worrying about things I can’t control or choosing to live an unhappy life or surrounding myself with people that don’t allow me to be the best version of myself.

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2014: A Reflection Of 365 Days

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2015  is fast approaching and when the clock strikes at midnight tomorrow and the celebrations begin, I will do just that with a smile on my face because I really have had an amazing  year. 365 days ago I was a different person, I was in a different situation and I had a different perspective. Now, I am one step closer to being the person that I want to be. There have been many moments in 2014 that I have felt proud, happy, grateful and optimistic and unfortunately, there have been hard times when I have felt like giving up. However, I’m starting to discover the way that life works and although 2014 had its challenging times, the amazing moments still shine for me. It’s the little things that make me smile when I reflect on the year I have had, walking hand in hand with the one I love alongside the River Liffey bridge in Dublin on our first holiday together, shaking the chancellor’s hand as I completed my university journey and was awarded with my degree and the feeling of wanting to dance all night as I celebrated with my best friends at our graduation ball.

I don’t like to make new years resolutions because I no longer feel like I need to resolve anything in my life. I can always change however, every morning when I wake up I have the choice to change my life or my attitude, I don’t want to give anything up or set myself unrealistic goals. What I want to do instead is carry on growing as a person and learn to be happy. I have discovered this year that happiness isn’t something that is guaranteed. It’s so easy to slip in and out of happiness and despair, there is no secret to happiness, it must come from within. I need to learn to be happy with how my life is now, rather than think about the future or the past. Only then will I be truly happy.

This year I have started to believe in myself and my abilities. I wrote a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. Before November, I didn’t believe that I could do it but I did. I graduated university with a 2.1, the three years of hard work and determination finally paid off and wearing my cap and gown was one of the best days of my life so far. I want to do my masters one day and hopefully I will get there because I want to keep going. I have started to learn sign language this year and I have really enjoyed it and I am going to carry on with it in January. I have had many voluntary writing positions this year, I am getting my articles out there and making a name for myself. I am slowly getting to where I want to be and although I can often be impatient, I am proud of what I have achieved so far.

I like to think of a new year as a new book, with empty pages and I can paint them with words and memories. I need to think of the future but also need to stay in the present, enjoy every moment and seize every opportunity. I have learnt many lessons this year and I’m sure there will be many more to come in 2015. My biggest problem is I like to plan things, I like everything to be perfect and I like to control everything in my life but I need to try and let go and let life happen. I’m starting to realise that I can’t control everything in my life and the future will write itself and I will never have control over what happens to me and the people that I love. 2014 has been a year of growth, a year of learning new things and a year of new adventures. That’s exactly what I see beyond the horizon of January the 1st, 2015 is a new adventure and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Final Chapter

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The final chapter has ended on my university journey. The graduation festivities will kick off with the graduation ball next week and I will be handed my Creative Writing degree in July at the ceremony. I can’t believe I am almost a university graduate! I can’t believe how fast the past three years have gone! Before I started university I was lost, I didn’t know where I wanted to go or who I wanted to be. I was struggling to make a decision.

So I took a leap of faith and enrolled on a Creative Writing course, I believe that it’s the best decision I have ever made. I can proudly say that I am a writer. I always have been but I never had the confidence to really give it a go. I didn’t believe that I had enough talent and I knew that I didn’t have the right dedication and discipline it took to write for a living. Now I do.

There have been many flaws in my degree but each individual takes away something different from the experience and I take away confidence. I now believe in myself. I believe in my writing. I may still be unsure about what the future holds for me but I am no longer lost.

I have found my voice, I have found my purpose and for me, that’s the only thing I set out to do. So, will this Creative Writing degree help me get a job? Probably not. But it wasn’t the purpose I was striving for. I will get a job, any job and I will write. In a perfect world, I would love to do a job where I could use my talent for words but it isn’t always possible so I will settle for what I can get. As long as I have the time to write and I can publish my novels, I will be happy.

The chapter may be ending on this part of my life but I am excited for the new and exciting experiences that come my way. I don’t know where I am heading but I’m sure about one thing, I am a writer. I live and breathe words. No matter what happens, I am proud to say that I now have the confidence to follow my dreams of being a professional writer.

 

 

There Are No Shortcuts To Any Place Worth Going

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I sit here now and I really cannot believe that I am in my final year of university. I know the journey is far from over but I feel like I can reflect back on my time at Edge Hill from this point and smile at how much things have changed. I have learnt many life lessons, met some great friends and I have finally found my voice as a writer. The next priority on my list is to get the best possible grade that I can achieve. I would love to get a first but a 2.1 is what I am aiming for. I also believe that it is never too early to start planning the future, I have started to search for graduate jobs. We had a career talk in class on Friday and the realisation was that over three quarters of students who graduate fail to get on the career ladder of their chosen field. I want to be in the minority that manage to get their dream job. I know I am optimistic but you never get anywhere in life if you fail to try. I have become very interested in magazine journalism and I would really love to pursue this after university. The one problem I have come across is that a large percentage of magazine companies are in London and I live in the North West, so I want to work in either Manchester or Liverpool.

I am going to try my best to get as much experience as possible, if this means doing another unpaid position when I leave university then so be it. The recipe to success is a mixture of talent, determination and hard work. You have to push yourself to achieve your goals. Recently I have acquired a new attitude. That you have to push past every person on the way to the top, they are your competition. This is a competitive field, better yet it is a competitive world and sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get to where you want to be. When the man who was leading the careers talk asked how many people in the room had contacts in the business or work experience that was writing related, three people put their hands up (including me) Three people! Out of a class of thirty students. He was surprised by this. He told me and the other two people that we were ahead of the others and were more likely to get a graduate job because of our related experience. I think he used the phrase – you already have one foot in the door and that’s all it takes.

I like to think of my career as a ladder and I have already placed my foot on the bottom step by working at Female First this summer. I have a long way to go and I have this ideal dream in my head that I believe is possible. I am not deluded. I know that it may not happen but I will use every bit of strength I have to make it happen. If there is anything I can take away from university, besides my degree and writing experience. I can walk away and say that I am a strong, confident women who is ready to grab hold of her dream with both hands. I want to inspire. I want to write. That’s all I have ever really wanted to do deep down. Even at a young age. I wanted to create stories. Start with the idea of a character and a place and create something wonderful.  I am one voice in a sea of people, just hoping for my voice to be heard. 

I cannot predict the future. But I would like to see myself working for a magazine, I would be happy with this career path. There are two types of people in this world, those who sit back and wait for things to happen and those who make things happen. I want to be the second type of person. I want to make things happen for myself. I want to achieve my dream. It is possible. If I keep believing this and if I stay positive no matter how much rejection I face then I will be okay. There are no short cuts to any place worth going.

There is no easy way to reach your dreams. I believe that it is never too early to think about the future. I will blink and my life will be ten years from now. Life is incredibly short and we don’t have time to sit around and wait for good things to happen. I want to make the most of the next twenty years or so because these are the prime years of a person’s life. These are the years that will be the foundation of my career. I will learn all of the valid life lessons I will ever need in this time and I will grow as a person and as a writer. I still live in the present because I believe that it is the best place to be but I still need to think about the future. It is quickly approaching. In eight months time I will no longer be a university student. I will be looking for work just like the hundreds of thousands of other students across the country. I need to stand out. Why should they hire me over another Creative Writing student? What do I have that makes me different? That is what I need to think about. A year ago I didn’t have this mentality, but now I do. Now I am ready. Ready for the long and agonising path that is, my future.

For Something To End.. Something Else Must Begin

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So my second year of university is actually over. One more year left of university and then I will be pushed into the ‘big wide world.’ The thought doesn’t scare me as much as it used too. I think I am ready. Ready to follow my dreams and I look forward to what the future holds for me. This academic year has been both challenging and life changing. I have lost friends, I have gained friends. I have made the right decisions and I have made the wrong ones. I found a strength in me this year that I didn’t know I had. I guess your attitude on life changes as you get older.

I have learnt so much this academic year about me as a person and me as a writer. I think in the first year of university I was still a newbie, everything was fresh and new like a blank piece of paper. I threw myself in the deep end, I came from a performance background straight into the writers world and I even though I knew it was what I wanted, it was still a scary concept at the time. This year however, I feel at home. There might be flaws when it comes to the Creative Writing degree but we all feel like one big family.  We all have the same dream. We all have the passion to write. We want our words to be heard. We want someone to read something we have written and be inspired, just like the authors that we admire inspired us. I have finally found my voice, I’m still not sure what I will be writing in the future but I now feel confident enough to pursue it.

As for the personal aspect of my life this academic year, I have dealt with some difficult situations but life is a fight and you just have to keep going. Life is too short for sadness and life is too short to feel that you are not good enough. Now that one stress in my life is over for the next five months another one begins. One word. Family. I guess it doesn’t matter how old you are, you still hope for your parents to stay together. But that isn’t real life. Not everyone can carry on when unhappiness clouds every part of their mind. Not everyone can stay in the same monotonous routine day in and day out.

Sometimes you have to deal with a little heartbreak in life and even though it’s a painful time watching my parents separate, I know that things will be okay. They have to be. I know that things are never going to be the same, I know that life is going to be awkward for a little while. But all I can do is offer my support and my love to them. My mother believes that because me and my older sister are all grown up and living our own lives that it doesn’t effect us, but it does. I find it hard to deal with because my family is breaking in half and there is nothing I can do about it. All I can do is sit back and watch, watch my father’s heart wither to nothing, watch my mother make a fool of herself and watch as my young siblings confuse a new room and a new house with a new adventure. It breaks my heart that I have no power, no strength to change the events that are taking place.

On a positive note, I finally have the freedom to do what I wish. No university assignments tying me down I can finally relax. I also have a meeting with an editor of female first magazine this week about a possible intern-ship this summer. Even though the troubles in my family are still present in my mind I have to think about myself. I have to think about my life and my path. I can’t spend my time worrying about other people. This is a lesson that I have learnt recently, with the help of my boyfriend and his mum I have realised that sometimes I care a little bit to much other people and I lose focus on myself. I am far from selfish but sometimes you have to have selfish moments. I need to think about my future, my relationship and my goals.

There is one good thing about this summer. I can write, get a head-start on my novel for my dissertation. I can read – finally! I have a bookshelf full of unread books and I have just bought four more – oops! I think I have an addiction. I can finally read all of the books that I have had to push aside. I can go to the gym, I can go shopping. I can go swimming. Do what I wish. This sounds rather exciting but after a month or so I will get bored. So that’s why I am grateful for the opportunity to work at a magazine and gain some experience. I have been thinking about it a lot recently and I would quite like to work for a magazine when I graduate.

Of course I will have to start at the bottom and make my way up the ladder but that’s the best way to get a good career. And that’s what I want. A career. I want to have my loving boyfriend by my side, every step of the way. I have amazing friends. I have my health. I am very lucky. I need to focus on the good things in my life and be grateful for them because somewhere out there is a person hoping to have what I have.

A chapter of my life may be over but I have a new one to begin. I’m going to take the next five months to relax. Enjoy life. See my friends. Spend time with my loved ones. Before the manic third year of university starts. I had my fair share of stress this year with my university work and a lot of people told me to just chill. I’m a workaholic, a hard worker and I always want to achieve better grades.

Being a perfectionist isn’t always a good flaw to have but it’s part of who I am. At least now that it’s officially my summer I can take their words and turn them into reality. I can chill, I can do what I want to do. I’m going to enjoy this time because hopefully when I finish my third year I will be going straight into graduate employment. My second year of university may be over but for something to end, something else must begin. And that something else is five months of freedom.

Impossible & Possible Dreams

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When we are little we have wide eyes when it comes to the world around us.. Eyes that are full of wonder and unimaginable possibilities like being a princess, an astronaut or a film star. But we grow out of these impossible dreams and start to wonder about the possible dreams we can reach. We realise that the world doesn’t owe us anything and we have to dream possible dreams rather than impossible ones. We realise that there isn’t a plan for each and everyone of us and we have to make our own decisions and our own mistakes. I have had my fair share of dreams and even though I am young I have changed my path more than I should have. But what happens when you are frozen and unable to realise your next dream? Waiting for the next calling to come along like warmth in the winter to show you the way? I feel this way at the moment. I am searching for another dream.

My youngest childhood dream was to be a mermaid, bare in mind I was three years old and I actually believed that Ariel was real and crabs really did sing, but that is my earliest memory of dreaming and I was quite an imaginative child. I grew up wanting to be a number of things, an actress on TV was a big dream of mine, I also wanted to be a poet at one point and I had a phase of wanting to be a fashion designer (I was unaware of the fact that I couldn’t draw at the time). When I was old enough to understand what I really wanted I settled on being an actress. The people around me knew it was very unlikely that it would happen but I was oblivious, ambitious and in my own bubble. I really wish I wasn’t in my own bubble though sometimes, I don’t regret having that dream or trying to reach it, I just think if I was a little less ambitious at such a young age, I would have released my potential to maybe excel in something else. But we learn from these experiences, I learnt that I was ‘acting’ confident when I was performing and I was ‘acting’ like someone I wanted to be but I wasn’t being true to myself.

Since quitting performing I have realised this, I wasn’t being my true self and even though as a result my confidence has suffered, I realised that it was a pipe dream, that’s all it was ever going to be. I then decided to take a leap of faith and do a creative writing degree, I wrote as a hobby and I wanted to go to university to pursue a career in my passion. Sometimes I feel a little pinch of regret, I rushed into studying at university and I know that I do not have another option to go back, if I wish to change career paths again. I know there are many different jobs I can get with my degree, once I complete it. Publishing, journalism, article writing, marketing and advertising, editor and many more. I would love to be a novelist but it is simply a hobby, you can not make a living from it. Unless you are J K Rowling then maybe you can. I feel like I am stuck at the moment and I don’t know what to do next. Dream wise that is.

For the first time I have no impossible dream, no goal and no drive. I just want to be happy in the future, of course I want kids and a nice house and a good job. But the good job is blank in my mind, like a white piece of paper with no inscription. I have no dream to reach and I am finding it difficult because dreaming big is what defines me. It is a big part of my personality. I am a dreamer. I know I should let the future write itself but I am a perfectionist, I like to be in control. I need to start thinking about my future soon because it waits for no one, not even me. Maybe it will hit me one day, maybe I will realise what my purpose is and what I should be doing?

I know I love to write. I know I love to sing. I know I love to play the guitar. But all of these things remain hobbies because I haven’t got the confidence to pursue any of them. It saddens me that I will never be what I truly want to be, a singer-songwriter. I believe that I don’t have enough talent, I believe that I don’t have the skills and I believe that it is an unreachable dream. I feel like I have grown out of these childlike dreams and I need to find something that will satisfy my creative urges but also be achievable. I always knew that this would happen. There are only so many impossible dreams you can pass through before you have to decide on a possible one. I am searching for another dream. But right now I think I should focus on the present and trust life for once. Trust that things will be okay and I will find another dream. A possible dream. One day.

My First Year At University

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A year ago I was deciding which university to go to and which course I wanted to study. It was a difficult time for me because I had to make a life choice that was going to effect the rest of my life. Leaving performing behind I decided to take a leap of faith and enrol on the Creative Writing course. I realised a sense of belonging from the moment I started my degree, I thought that being a performer was my life goal and I was too blind to see all along that I was meant to be a writer. I should have known this really, writing poems from the age of five and entering and winning many competitions could have been a big clue but I was sure of becoming an actress. After a lot of stress, tears and realisation I decided to try and achieve a different dream. My heart wasn’t in acting any more and I knew I had to try something different. Getting on the Creative Writing course was a task like no other. Originally combining Drama and Creative Writing I still wanted to hang on to performing. I passed the audition but was advised not to do both together by the university. A devastating blow I have to say. I had two different choices and I had to choose the one that would be the best for me.

I went with my heart in the end and chose to do Creative Writing course by itself. I’m not good at making decisions in life and I often wonder if it was the right choice. When arriving at university I knew it was. The first year of my degree is over and I have learnt so much about myself in the process. I always knew I had the ability to write but I didn’t realise the potential I held to be  a professional writer. I have fully enjoyed learning about writing this year and I hope that my talent in writing grows even more to the standard it has to be, to be published. As for the moving away from home and living by myself part of moving to university. This is the part that scared me the most. I was dependant on my parents and I knew nothing about coping by myself.

I could have quite easily took a gap year before actually applying but I knew I had to challenge myself and dive into the pool of independence. Of course I was scared, terrified even. Sounds stupid now I know how easy it is but when you are eighteen and have no idea about washing, ironing, food shopping or managing money it’s quite the challenge. I knew I had to grow up quickly and I think this was in my favour, it was the right time too. I did get homesick and lonely at times but I started to love living by myself. It’s a novelty when you first arrive at university accommodation. Friends to hang out with all the time, going to the pub and having a few drinks and getting to know other people you are going to live with for the next year. However, by the time I reached the half way mark in the year I started to resent living here and I started to miss my family and friends back home. I don’t live far from the university and saw my family every two weeks and my boyfriend every weekend but still I was lacking something.

The novelty of living by myself started to wear off when the work load piled on top of me and I didn’t have the money to go out as often. I became a sensible student, budgeting and doing my work instead of having fun. I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing. Most students I know have debts up to their eyeballs and are still smiling. If that was me my stress levels would be through the roof. I guess I like to take control of my life now I am independent. I like to go food shopping and buy what I want to buy, I only buy what I need and save up for a few weeks if there is a nice outfit or a pair of shoes I like. I don’t think students realise the sacrifices they need to make. This started to rub off on my friends and their opinion of me certainly turned to being annoyed. That’s what I think anyway. I started telling them what to do with their money and not to go out when they had work, I felt like their mother.

I’ve realised now it’s time to go home for the summer that I need to relax about money. I can still budget and not be too hard on myself. I have learned many life lessons in a short space of time and I feel wiser, mature and ready to take on anything that life throws at me. I’ve learnt that being on your own can be scary at first but it gets better. I’ve learnt that trying something new is a fun way of testing yourself and you could be surprised with the outcome. I’ve learnt not to trust people so easily. Friends may appear to be friends but you never really know what another person is thinking. Someone who I met at university, I called her my friend. Told her things about me in comfortable situations and most importantly, I trusted her. Never again will I trust so easily because lies can be well hidden. She’s not the person I thought she was but I’m ready to move on and forget about our friendship.

I know who my true friends are now. I’ve opened my eyes since being here. I’ve learnt that I can do anything I set my mind too if I just try. I never thought I would be here at this point in my life. I’m happy and I’m ready for all the possibilities that await me. My first year at university has shaped me into a different person than I once was. I’m the most confident I have ever been and even though I still have my bad days. I’ve finally started to believe in myself. And for me, that’s a miracle.