Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain


Game of Thrones

I’m a late bloomer, clearly, when it comes to TV shows but the boy and I finally started watching Game of Thrones.

We finished Season 1 He was impressed straight away but I needed a little convincing. Mainly because everyone had said that it was SO awesome that my expectations were so high that I expected nothing less but to be transported to Winterfell and live out what was happening – without dying. Obviously this didn’t happen and I was disappointed. Not just because of that, I’m not an idiot, but the show just didn’t live up to the impossibly high bar that people had set for it.

It took a while (episode 7 to be exact) before I actually became excited to watch the next episode. Before that, I felt like Game of Thrones wasn’t trying. It was setting up the story and that was it. If it had been a film I wouldn’t have minded, but these shows are an hour long and it’s a far bigger investment. It meant I wanted the show to entice me rather than me rely on people’s opinions or on reading the books.

Game of Thrones is a fantastic series but it only turned fantastic after season 7 when things actually started moving. As interesting as it is to find out the background of a story, it shouldn’t last more than half of an entire season.

I’ll admit it, for the first seven episodes I did not get it. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t a show that gripped me straight away. The acting was superb and the storyline had potential (it’s epic now) but the show had that spark missing. It’s like going on a date and wanting it to work but the chemistry isn’t there.

I kept trying (not necessarily what you should do with dating) – mainly because the boy loved it and I’m glad I did. The show now, we’re currently on season 2, is entertaining and doing what any seasoned drama should do – it is leaving me wanting to watch more. At the end of each episode, I am excited to watch the next and I really do think that Game of Thrones didn’t quite hit the nail on the head at the beginning of the series.

It was, to me, a slow burner and though it has picked up speed and is now what I would consider, a brilliant watch, it didn’t start off in the best way to keep audiences. (All hate mail can be sent to me at the email provided).

If you’re considering watching Game of Thrones then ignore all the raving reviews and thumbs up it’s getting because they’ll end up making you expect something impossibly brilliant which, I think, the show fails to bring in the first half of the first season. That will instantly make you more impatient because your expectations are so high, but wait it out.

It gets better and then you’ll love it and then you’ll rave about it like crazy and make someone else expect amazing things from the show from the opening credits of the very first episode of Season 1. And so, the vicious cycle of expectation – disappointment – boredom – surprise – interest – loving it – raving about it, will begin again.


What I thought university would be and what it was: from a graduate

A generic university image. Because my brain exploded when it tried to think of a suitable, yet entertaining/creative, image to match this post.

University degrees have changed. This is the first year that fees have been increased to a staggering £9,000 a year and the old argument is university is worth it. I put in my two cents to the debate a while ago (it’s here in case you’re interested) but I’ve been thinking about university in general lately. Partly because the boy is still at university so it’s not quite out of my life yet.

Looking back on my overall university experience, I would definitely recommend university as a thing to do if you’re passionate and enjoy a particular subject.

My degree, because that is what university is about – though it may be lost in translation for some, was enjoyable, challenging and interesting. It was hard work but fulfilling and I did enjoy my time studying English Language and Literature. It wasn’t what I expected however.

Before I went to university I had a certain expectation of what it would be like. I imagined brilliant debates ignited by the lecturer or a particular passage in the novel that would challenge and stimulate the students. I envisioned students being forced to consistently question their ideas and be made to think about things different, study things in great depth during independent study all to come up with a different point of view, a new angle, an altered insight.

I guess I expected the universities depicted in great stories or films where smart people are forced to not only look at the superficial and just under it but actually get their hands dirty learning, adapting, evolving.

It wasn’t like this.

Without including the dissertation and big projects, university was a lot like school and college. You are expected to answer exam questions in a particular way so that an examiner can tick off certain boxes on a marking sheet. You need to regurgitate information in a particular way to be able to get the marks that allow you to get the degree. It isn’t as much about original thought as learning what other have done. There’s no development after that.

Obviously it is important to know the background and the ‘pillars’ of the subject. Having a foundation to then form something new and to be able to make you an individual academic that contributes to the subject rather than just learning about it. Becoming an active student rather than a passive one.

However, that isn’t fully encouraged until it’s time for your dissertation or project in your final years. There isn’t discussion though or bouncing off each other, at least in individual projects. You miss that and although the final year project/dissertations are fun in a strange way and hard work; they are closer to my imaginings of university.

It is still an individual thing however. Long, long before I was born, university was more about the learning of the foundations (like we do now) and then discussing, debating and trying to form new ideas. This is what makes innovators.

People weren’t afraid to question things, challenge them and actually attempt to do something better. This is what creates great people. The ability to challenge, argue and learn from others to do something yourself – not regurgitating information like a helpless baby bird.

University has become too caught up in league tables and getting as many students as possible through the door to up potential grants given to them. Universities were forced to adhere to guidelines that higher education can’t really match if it is to be fulfilling and rewarding enough to create brilliant thinkers and do-ers, people that could make ripples, or waves, in the world.

I understand that this type of learning would not suit everyone. That many would be put off by the amount of independent learning, lack of spoon feeding and necessary opinions based on research and background knowledge.

But I don’t think this would be a bad thing.

It would mean that people would be going to university not based on their household income (although this isn’t as big of an issue in the UK) but for those that wanted to do something brilliant through, or with, their degree. It would mean that open-mindedness would be a necessity, rather than something you’d hopefully learn (you’d be surprised at the ignorance people still leave university with).

University should be a place to grow, be challenged and be happy for it and the learning it gives you. It should not be a memory test, or the ability to write a certain answer in a certain way to please a certain teacher.

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Everyone says: ‘you’ve got to find what you like’

I’ve been debating an issue (in my head, naturally) for a little while. The issue is if you need to love what you do. It’s the career advice I’ve been told since I was 15. Only recently have I actually stepped back and looked at what was being said. (That sentence requires a little imagination but stay with me. I’m tired and I want to get this off my chest).

“Find what you love and it’ll never feel like work.”

That’s the one piece of consistent advice that was said to me from the ages of 15 to now by all sorts of people and articles. It’s a superficially great piece of advice. It’s also slightly ridiculous and not necessarily true.

First, not everyone feels that a successful career results in life fulfilment. Some people feel that as long as a job provides them with money to do what they want then that’s all they need. After all, who says a career needs to be everything?

Admittedly I’m aiming to do the whole what I love thing. Mainly because I’ve wanted to do it for so long, also because I think I’d be good at it and because I can’t really imagine doing anything else.

Still, this advice that has followed me for at least six years of my life probably goes a little way to explaining why I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

I want to travel, live a little like a nomad and see the world and I want to write and tell people about things they don’t know or need to know about. It’s pretty simple. I also want a nice house and at least two dogs and a cat. Maybe even a house rabbit that grows to the size of a crawling human baby. To have that costs money. Journalism isn’t really known for the high pay cheques especially when you’re just beginning as a lowly roving reporter like me.

In today’s society there is definitely a much stronger focus on academia and a career. Because of the stress, commitment and time needed for said career, the only advice given to remedy this complete and utter focus on work is to do what you love.

This results in 15 year olds being asked: “so what do you want to do?” As they feel a little awkward and not knowing, people quickly answer “Oh, you’re too young to know now anyway.” Yet it’s an expectation. A ‘regular’, more elite career is looked at with impressiveness and if you answer with an ambition to the question of “what do you want to do?” People dismiss it and remind you you’ll need a job for that.

Work is seen as a chore unless it’s something you love. Not a great way to promote employment.

Well duh. Obviously you need a job but it doesn’t have to be your life if you have other ambitions. You can decide to go into a career for the money rather than the passion for it and in doing so afford what it is you’re passionate about. Be that cars, holidays, houses, clothes, artwork – whatever.

Doing what you love makes sense to me, it means I will constantly feel driven to do well and to do better. I have a lot of dreams and although some of them require a bit of money (almost cried writing that lie, bit of money is playing it down way too much) I am not driven by those £s enough for that to give me enough of a drive.

For others it’s different. I have a few friends and family that have chosen extremely successful and satisfying careers that they do not necessarily love but allows them to live a life that they do love. That sounds pretty awesome too.

A career doesn’t have to be everything in a person’s life. Doing something as a way of living a life that you want to live is just as amazing as having a career that you are passionate about.

As long as you are living your life your way then nothing else really does matter. There’s no such thing as ‘true, complete and utter’ freedom (that’s a blog post for another time) but that’s the closest we’ll ever get to it.


Intentions and little else to show

Lots of people say a lot of things. Things they want to do, things they should do. Things they never actually do. The same people then complain about their lives. About how mundane their lives are, and the fact that they don’t do anything. They complain as if someone or something is stopping them from achieving the things that make their life so ‘dire’. (The word ‘dire’ is in inverted commas because, frankly, these people tend to live pretty nice lives even if they aren’t in the lap of luxury or having adventures every year).

When you ask said people, I call them the intentions and expectations people, what they actually want to do; they shrug their shoulders and give some vague and roundabout answer that could apply to the majority of human beings currently residing on this planet. A nicer house, a holiday, a car. Things that don’t actually make people happy and in the long term don’t improve our mental or physical wellbeing in any sort of way.

It’s fine to have these dreams. It’s fine to hope for a better lifestyle. It can be the motivator for you to push harder in work or in a project that can get you those things. It is also used as an excuse for intentions and expectations people.

The intentions and expectations people want a lot of things, and tell everyone they’re going to do a lot of things but always supply plenty of reasonable excuses not to do it. The real reason is fear. A fear of failing, of not being able to do everything they say they want to or can do. Without trying or pushing themselves they never need to know. What if’s and blaming life is easier than taking risks and living it. Or admitting that those things are things they don’t actually want, or if they do, things that they don’t really think they can achieve. It’s also a question of having to wait, of having to work for it. People want everything now. The internet and a society that prides itself on being fast and having everything immediately has spoilt us.

I’m having trouble with the uncapitalised I (grammar snob) but it’s a good enough picture that I can pretend it’s not like that.

People like this are big talkers. You really believe in their dreams and their excuses as to why they’re not coming true. But the thing is that everything is possible (and I’m not an optimist).

The secret to being able to do want you want to do is to just do it. To stop making excuses and start making plans. To get up and just go for it. It’s really not that hard. Okay, it’s not as easy as I’m making it out to be either, but it is simple. The most difficult part is getting the motivation and the courage to do it. Once you’re up, and you’re starting then you’re like ‘why didn’t I do this earlier? Who knew it was this simple?’

Intentions are lovely. Intentions are fine, they give hope but fundamentally (especially when you have no real desire to actually pursue what you want due to whatever barriers you are deciding are in your way) they are pointless if there is no real intent to actually do the things you intend.

Intentions mean nothing if they are simply fabrications. For many people, they are hopes that allow them to complain without ever having to try and achieve the things they talk about. To have a dream is enough I guess, why bother achieving it?

Keeping good intentions is lovely but it won’t give you the things you desire. For that you need to actually do something, you need to be pro-active. To have intentions and little else to show removes the point of them. Everything is possible; but it requires work, time, commitment and dedication. You can’t just expect it to happen while you sit on the sofa talking about it.

To talk about your intentions, and then complain about how you can’t get there, defeats the purpose. It’s not an intention anymore that way, and I think that’s where the intentions and expectations people miss the point.

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Drawing by Natalya Lobanova

This image is so true that I don’t know whether to laugh and cry. We are told on a daily basis that as women we should embrace our bodies. We are told real women have to be a size 16 and have a belly. We are told that we shouldn’t be hairy and should only have hair on the top of our heads. We are all painted with one brush, the only thing we have in common is that we all have the same reproductive parts; us girls that is, we differ from boys. Obviously.

The thing is no matter what women try, they will always be classed as something because society loves to label. It makes the government feel comfortable to stuff people in boxes because then they can be piled up high on top of each other and people are easier to control when they feel forced to be something they’re not.

We shave our legs because we’re told that it’s more womanly that way. We’re told if we wear short skirts and get into trouble that we have some sort of tiny responsibility for it. We’re told that if we’re a size 8 we’re too skinny and we’re not real women. It’s ridiculous. We’re whistled at and shouted at by people in groups and people in cars (usually men) but it’s not harassment because that’s just the way the world works.

Gender is the one form of discrimination that seems to be misunderstood, dismissed, agreed with and a big cause of a divide in opinions. No one really knows what to think or what to say about it, the amount of opinions is almost as high in number as the amount of people it’s about. As soon as I was born society presented me a mould given to me dependent on my gender, the problem with moulds is they don’t cover the variety. That’s what  the human race is: varied. Within our homo sapien species there is enough variety that means in 7 billion people not one is the same as the other, similar – maybe, but not the same. There is no need for moulds or expectations of a person based on what’s in between their legs, the only reason for it (like I’ve said in previous posts) is due to the fact that it’s easier for national and international statistics to be created. It’s easier for us to be labelled. Like tin cans sitting on a supermarket shelf. These expectations are so ingrained in us, to do something that seems so meaningless like shave our legs, that it’s hard to step away from it. Some of us may pride ourselves on breaking the mould, on not conforming, on being different but we’re all fighting the same fight. Striving to be unique and as different as possible, to stand out from the crowd whilst all the time wishing to belong.

The end of discrimination is unlikely. It’s idealistic and although I’m not a pessimist, the realism is that we will always judge because that’s how we have developed. I will continue to shave my legs, to use the ongoing example in both image and post, partly because I feel I should and partly because I like the feeling of shaved legs. I will try my hardest to not let the stereotypes surrounding my gender, ethnicity, education or background have any type of strong influence on me. It is the people that succeed (in whichever way they see fit: through family, career or love) no matter what the greater majority are putting on them that are the true successes. They are are the ones pushing the walls of that square box we are forced into, not agreeing or disagreeing with these discriminations but simply stepping above them.  Easy as that.