Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain


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Why growing up isn’t that bad

When you’re a child, all you can think of is how you want to be a grown up and do grown up things like drive a car and watch television whenever you want. Little problems such as car tax and crappy programming isn’t a concern because the OPTION is there and that’s what it’s all about: options.

When you’re a teenager, you think you’re grown up and life is, like, SO stressful because of all the grown up things you need to handle and all those grown up feelings you’re experiencing that you never felt before. Then you have the thought that you can’t wait to grow up because of your parents, and school and all those things that make life hard when you’re 15 and will disappear when you’re older and as cool as those pictures you see on tumblr. (I still want to be as cool as some of the photos of the people, clothes and houses on tumblr).

When you’re classed as a ‘young adult’ (which is a weird term right? Or is that just me?) you become a little bit terrified of growing up. Mainly because it sounds scary and by this time you realise there are things like tax, terrible pay and lots of responsibilities and you realise you don’t want anything to do with all those adult things. That’s the last real, strong thought you have about being an adult. It makes you queasy and nervous and adulthood does not seem to be filled with the excitement and promise it had when you were five years old.

But then you get to a point as a ‘young adult’ where you’re practically a grown up but still doing the crappy things that young people need to do. The word exams buzzes like a neon light but it isn’t anywhere as pretty as those cool, vintage signs. I am at that stage and I have come up with the top three reasons why being a grown up isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.

You get to do what you want to do

I know most young people nowadays have a lot more freedom than they used to and I know most think they can do what they want anyway so this isn’t a big change. But it is. When you’re a grown up, you answer to your parents out of respect rather than because you have to – it’s more of a habit than them teaching you how to be in life. When you’re a grown up you get to chose how you live your life, what you study (if you do), where you work, what you watch, what you wear, who you talk to and where you go. I mean, the negative is that you can’t really blame your mistakes on anyone else because that doesn’t really cut it but, at the same time, every achievement and every adventure is yours alone.

You get money

Obviously this doesn’t happen as soon as you become a grown up. You’re not handed a cheque and told “congratulations, you’re an adult.” That would be absolutely amazing but no, you get money in exchange for work. Work, when it is a part-time job and not the job of your dreams, will be tedious within the first week but that monthly paycheque will feel like it’s sent from the Gods. It will probably be one of the happiest moments of your life. I’m not even kidding. As a person who is not driven by money, I still remember the excited, joyful feeling I got at 16 when I received my first paycheque.

You never have to do exams

Unless you become a doctor then ignore this. But if you’re a normal person then this will be one of the best things ever about growing up. No more revision, no more frustrating hours spent looking at notes and never feeling satisfied that you know enough. Never having to spend two hours writing as much as possible about everything you can remember on the subject. I. Can’t. Wait.

I mean there’s more obviously. The whole driving thing is pretty cool and the whole following your dreams (career wise and personal wise) is probably the single bestest thing ever about growing up but these, I feel, will apply to most grown ups and grown ups to be.

Growing up isn’t terrifying, it’s exciting and I feel like I am back to my five year old self where the grown up world is thrilling and full of promise. The only awkward thing is that I’m not quite sure when you actually know that you’ve entered the land of the grown ups. Should I expect my certificate of entry in the post?


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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.


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7 things that should happen to me right now

So it’s Tuesday. I am yet again filling in applications and trying to learn shorthand before my course starts in September (because I’m geeky and like to get ahead). Both tasks are making me start to hallucinate of places where such things don’t exist: you know, happy places.

This is me, only I’m not feigning my exasperation. And there might be a little more paper around me.

Out of said hallucinations (hallucinations were a result of a tedious Wednesday not from any enhancing type thing that could have been consumed. This is my promise to you) this list was born.

1. Some very handsome man would knock on my door and hand me a check for at least £150,000,000.

I don’t even need that much money, but I would help a lot of people with it. I also like how many zeros that number has without it being a bad thing.

2. I’d open the fridge to see that there was a lifetime supply of muller blackberry yogurts and strawberry or NY cheesecakes. 

Obviously these would be the best tasting muller yogurts and strawberry or NY cheesecakes in the whole universe and they would not make me so fat that I could no longer walk to the fridge to get such glorious food.

3. At least two dogs would magic up, I’d keep them as pets and my parents wouldn’t even care

Any breed is good of course but so far I’ve only imagined huskies, dalmatians, bull mastiffs, labradors and French bulldogs. They would love me almost as much as I’d love them.

4. YouTube would stop interrupting my incredible playlist with adverts that are so loud, my eardrums have burst.

I’m productive to music, if this could happen for just two hours who knows what I could accomplish?

5. Make nudism okay in public

Okay, I know I’m inside trying not to drown in my own desperation of never ending applications but I have to leave my house at some point to pick my mum up from work. This means putting on clothes that at least cover part of my body. I’m currently wearing shorts that love to ride up and kiss my bum and a top that’s so baggy there’s really not much point in it – if you get my drift. Attractive, I know. Still, I would be far happier if this was allowed without me running the risk of getting arrested.

6. My life suddenly turns into a musical

I want people to burst in (in a totally non-scary way) and start singing about my little predicament and how it’ll all work out in the end. I want us to all do the same dancing moves, smiling so brightly it might rip our faces and all singing in perfect tune.

7. ONE application is accepted

Please.


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Several things that make me feel like a loser

Loser: Slang . a misfit

I’m 21 years old, trying to learn shorthand so that I’m more prepared come September, and have more receipts from six months ago in my purse than actual money. I graduated this year with a robe that made me feel like a superhero and a hat so tight it gave me a headache. The summer started really well: I celebrated my 21st and had one of many dreams actually come true.

Sometimes though, the summer sucked because after living with the boy, pathetically, it’s much harder to be apart. The first thing that makes me feel like a loser. I love being at home but if you’re human, which I assume you are if you’re reading this, you’ll know we are a complicated species. Our brain loves to make us continually want. I think it’s a part of the whole evolution process; if we continue to strive and develop for more then we won’t fall behind on the whole evolutionary scale thing and, you know, die out.

The lack of money is also getting to me now and adding to my feeling of feeling like a loser. For three years now I have had a loan and at least one job, at some points two jobs. Money was always an issue because I’m a student and I like to save – two things that are hard to mesh together. I’m not a capitalist, nor do I think money is important. However, having no money means that when I do need money for important things: such as the course books I need for September, you realise that money is important. I’ve been told that due to the course being intensive (a years’ work in 25 weeks) that I should not get a part time job unless it is related to the course. So, work experience which not only does not pay; it is also very hard to find as I have also come to realise. I continue trying and I’m pretty confident it will work out if I do, but it doesn’t detract from me feeling like a loser.

I also feel like a loser when I get nervous on hill starts in my car. It’s not that I can’t do them, and it’s not like my car can’t cope (even if she is old) but I just have a fear that I’ll roll into a car behind me, even if there is no car behind me. I can drive okay, I’ve never actually rolled down a hill since I passed my test and got that beauty of a pink license. But this feat always makes me want to either cry or scream and it always makes me sweat uncontrollably. Whenever I’m in traffic and we’re rolling up a hill I begin to grip hard to the steering wheel and chant myself, “don’t let me stop here. Just over the hill. Don’t let me stop here. Just over the hill…” You get the picture.

My dancing is incredible. I am Beyonce, better even. They are moves that are completely out of this world. When I dance on my own in the house, my dance ability increases ten fold. Especially when I’m checking myself out on a mirror or the glass patio doors. Some people may consider this to be part of the things that make me feel like a loser. It doesn’t I feel like a goddess when I dance. Then I saw myself taped dancing and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry; it was when I was on my own: uninhibited dancing. Hasn’t stopped me though.

Not being able to ride a bike. This makes me feel like a loser the most, I feel my parents are partly to blame for never teaching me properly. I have evaded the question of being able to ride a bicycle or if I want to go on a bike ride. I’m not even one of those humans that doesn’t want to learn. I do, I really do. But my core balance is worse than that of a…I can’t even think of what, it’s that bad. My ability to ride a bike is the same as a two year olds to recite all of Shakespeare’s sonnets by heart. It’s the one thing that always makes me change the subject, the one thing that causes me to blush, the one thing that I’d rather lie about than be honest about. That’s the key to it making me feel like a loser: the shame. I actually went to look at the two bicycles we have in the shed at the bottom of the garden (also known as Spider World). They looked rusty and were full of webs, once bought by my father in the naive hope that my sister and I would be able to learn. Every bit of rust, every bug caught in those many webs around those two bikes (which look terrifying by the way) was like a shameful secret. I can’t ride a bike.

This could be me. Look how happy I could look, with my hair being blown in the wind.


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1 more graduate in the world

On the 19th July at 4pm my graduation begins. Three years are coming to an official end and I will be handed a piece of paper by an apparently important man wearing some robes and told ‘Congratulations.’

I don’t really know what to make of being a graduate, I got my results whilst in New York and I’m happy. Obviously, because I am not a decedent of Einstein’s, I did not get perfect marks. Due to lack of perfection, it took me roughly 24 hours before I could be fully happy with my 2:1 degree.

I ordered my gown, hood and mortar board yesterday. It was expensive just to hire it for a mere two hours. To buy the damn thing was extortionate: the hat alone (effectively just a cardboard square wrapped in black cloth) was £105.00. Insanity; you’d think after putting me in thousands of pounds of debt they could at least give me the hat. Jerks. At least I’ll feel like Harry Potter in my graduation robes; that, at least, gives me some comfort. I’m not even ashamed to admit that.

But I can’t help thinking that university is a much smaller deal than many people make it out to be. Especially in today’s society where jobs have double the amount of applicants; and unemployment is such an over talked about subject that people have just accepted that that’s the way things are. University and getting a degree, like I’ve said before, are just stepping stones. It’s good to have for the experience and the opportunities it has for you when you’re there.

I don’t think it should be sold as the best experience of your life though. If university is the best time of your life, that means out of the 80 or so years of your life expectancy. Only three near the first eighth of your life have been worth it. How silly.

When I graduate, I’ll be feeling proud. I’m coming out of these three years with more experience and more confidence in my ability. But that hasn’t just come from my course, that’s come from living away from home, from falling in love with the boy and from falling out and making new friends.

Many of the things I studied will probably be little use to me in terms of subject matter. In terms of teaching me how to learn, investigate, research, revise and ask for help however; they have done a lot for me.

Graduation is a lovely ceremony to have at the end of university. An accumulation of recognition for the three years of hard work that I have put into my degree. However, like the rest of the university bubble, I cannot help admit that it is over expensive (tickets cost £15 each) and a little superficial considering that I will be handed my certificate by someone I have never even met. That is likely to not even know my name.

I’m nervous and excited about graduation. My brain still can’t quite comprehend that it is just next week and although I may criticise university and it’s capitalist ways, I’ll be throwing my little black hat in the air just like everyone else and I’ll be one of the happiest people in the world come Thursday 19th July. Even if I am just another graduate in the world.

I MUST remember to get a photo like this.


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A New York Adventure

New York used to be rumoured to have streets paved of gold. Although this isn’t quite the truth, you do feel like you need to own a couple of bars of gold to be able to do and buy everything you want to while you’re there. I know this firsthand. My entire stay in New York was filled with random stories that could have come out of a comedy sketch show but nothing beats mine and the boy’s first day on our own exploring the city.

It started off pretty well, very normally, or as normal as you can get when you’re walking down streets that you’ve read about for most of your life. It was beautiful, glass and cement buildings mixed in with astounding architecture that would’t look out of place in Venice or London. Although New York is always busy with pulsating crowds; the streets are so wide and there is so much to look at, that you never feel like you’re overcrowded or that you can’t stop and just stare.

I did a lot of staring whilst in New York. You can’t help it and what I loved most was that New York forces you to look up. People forget to look up. They forget that there is actually a world around them and instead just stare at their feet making their steps to the destination and avoid making eye contact with anything. Looking up is an instant way of making me feel happy and I loved that New York forced you to do that.

The boy and I went to the Empire State Building and paid a little extra to skip the queues. Time was limited and we didn’t want to wait in a two hour queue especially when my patience is limited at the best of times. I am defintely a child of the new generation. We passed the little museum after riding an awesome stimulator (which was narrated by Kevin Bacon – surreal is not the word), I feel they could have done more with the museum, it was a beautiful space and I guess to compensate for the number of people that could potentially be queuing there has to be such large spaces but there were parts that made it feel almost empty. A word I never thought I’d associate with anything in New York. I came across a huge King Kong character as we were leaving the hall/museum and obviously decided to pose with the thing. After all, I’m a tourist and I can make an awesome angry gorilla face, the moment was perfection. Until, that is King Kong moved, I noticed, screamed and my echoes were heard for the next three minutes. Great acoustics in that museum, it was like singing in the shower. King Kong was in fact a man dressed as a gorilla who was able to scare this British tourist so well that I actually ran – and I don’t exercise.

The boy and I with King Kong himself. Notice he isn’t actually touching me due to my awful, awful fear. I am traumatised.

The view from the Empire State Building is absolutely outstanding and definitely worth all the dollars you pay for it. You can see the whole city and because New York moves at such a fast pace, there’s always something to stare at. Feeling so small when you’re walking down streets lined with 100 floor buildings, you feel even smaller when you’re above them. People are dots, smaller than the typical ant description and cars are about the same size as a big handed man’s thumbnail. It’s crazy and the sun was shining while the boy and I were up there making the view all the more gorgeous.

I will never be able to justify the views and since I’m a secret fan of awful cliches and they do say a picture paints a thousand words, here are a few photos. We’re on the 86th floor, just a little FYI which is the main observation deck. There is another on the 102nd floor which we chose not to visit. It’s an additional fee to visit the 102nd floor and by all accounts it is just a room with lots of windows and you’re so high up that the detail is somewhat lost. Like a watercolour painting that has run.

After we left the Empire State Building we had a HUGE slice of pizza each which I definitely recommend trying for anyone visiting New York anytime soon. Food aplenty in New York and it would be a shame if you didn’t try as much as you could. With all the walking you’ll do as a tourist, it’s even hard to put on weight – crazy I know.

The weather was really hot and humid for most of our stay in NY. However this day, it rained. New York rain is crazy, the drops are as big and heavy as hamsters and we ran into the first store we could find and bought an umbrella for $10. I handed over the $10 bill as the man handed the boy the umbrella, with the promise that it was a big umbrella that would fit both of us in comfortably. It didn’t. We both got drenched. I have never in my life got so badly caught in the rain whilst having an umbrella over my head. It didn’t help either that I then realised after paying for a small sized umbrella that I only had $1 left. The boy, upon checking his own wallet, also had only $1 left. That was a total of $2 and we needed $5 to buy our subway tickets to get home. I became hysterical and the boy became panicky, to soothe both of us we visited the Strand Bookstore (18 miles of books, I was in total heaven. They had EVERYTHING), and whilst in this glorious little NY haven, the umbrella broke. In the boy’s hand. Whilst he was holding it through the middle. Just. Like. That.

So no umbrella and no money. We only had £20 to our name which is useless when you’re in America. So we began our huge marathon walk zigzagging across the city to find a place that would exchange our British pounds into some much needed American dollars. Banks rejected us because we didn’t have an account with them. Western Union’s exchange systems had gone down a little while before we walking into the store. A policeman instructed us to an exchange place after we explained our situation, as we ran to it to beat the closing times. It wasn’t closed. It wasn’t even there, it was actually a GUESS shop. A huge, massive, expensive GUESS shop. Pretty clothes: yes but not the possibility to change any currency.

It was at this point that I started shouting down the street, insisting with the boy that we needed to start begging. I could dance while he held his hands out. All we needed was $3. A man heard my desperate pleas and turned out to be our hero; he told us exactly where to go, wished us luck in his epic New York accent and we were off. I felt like I was in a film as we ran down NY for what felt like the 50th time, dodging all the humans, dogs, and food stalls as we did.

We got to the exchange place in an impressively quick time, a lovely girl by the name of Aida had actually closed down the tills to cash up. We explained our story and I was already preparing to get down on bended knee and beg for her mercy when she agreed. We exchanged £20 for $26 and felt like the richest people in the world. We danced outside the exchange place and I honestly felt like a queen. We went to Grand Central Station after and used our hard earned $26 on giant pretzels and the subway home. The rest was for another NY adventure.

It was a baptism of fire to be welcomed to New York in such a way. Luckily it makes a good story and I don’t hold grudges.


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Unpaid work – not volunteering – just unpaid work

I have officially finished university, I’ll be throwing my little mortarboard in the air come July and being very proud of myself for having been able to do what many have done before me: graduate. So now what?

I have lined up an NCTJ course which I begin in September, it’s only 6 months long because I figured if there’s an intensive option I’ll always pick that, why waste time and drag something out longer than it needs to be dragged out. Hopefully alongside that I can work for my local newspapers; and after the six months is up, find something either through local newspapers or internships or graduate schemes or contacts or whatever. I’ll probably have to work for free. I probably don’t have a choice in terms of that. The work I will hopefully do at these unpaid internships or work experience placements is worthy of being paid, to be honest, I’ve probably done something similar at university and been paid.

The thing with internships is that people are so desperate for the experience that they are willing to work for free. A lot of jobs that I know I could do (and that’s not arrogance, I promise), I’m not qualified to do because I don’t have the two years of experience they prefer. It doesn’t stop me from applying but I’m obviously dismissed. The only way to get to those jobs is to get those unpaid internships and even those you can be rejected from.

It’s a vicious cycle and gives employers more power than they should over an individual. I am fully prepared to work for free and have another job to help me pay for my outgoings but I know that I could go into another career (maybe one that isn’t as heavily saturated or used to taking advantage of people) and be paid, not much but paid, for the entry level jobs that I am gunning for as a graduate. Free internships are a way of taking advantage, much like when you’re forced to do work experience at 15. For my work experience, I went to a school and spent two weeks sharpening pencils, trying not to get headlice and being poked by a very fat eight year old boy; it was horrific.

Yes an internship may be unpaid but it gives you that crucial experience and that foot in the door. But maybe it would be more productive to branch out on your own, or be brave enough to demand that your skills are worth some sort of money even if that request is after two weeks free work. The things you’ll do in your unpaid internship or during your work experience are likely to be the same things you do when you get your first job in whichever career path you’ve chosen. At least that ensures a quick promotion, right? Maybe that’s an awkward question to ask actually. After all, people that have been doing the job for years are more likely to be promoted even though technically you’ve been doing the job for just as long although half the time it was for free.

Unpaid internships don’t even have the feel good factor of being volunteering. You’re doing it for selfish reasons, effectively so all sense of smug pride and being so nice is automatically taken away. Unpaid internships are like volunteering but not volunteering just working for free. Free work. We’re effectively asking for employers to give us the opportunity to do anything we can in their offices that would be helpful. We are like puppies looking for approval with big eyes, cocked head and a pleading look.

Us in puppy form. He’s a little cuter and a little less desperate though.

Whatever. It’s frustrating and just another obstacle for anyone wanting to get anywhere in professional circles. On that note, and however unfair it actually is: I’m off to fill out another tedious application form that doesn’t actually show anything about me with the same mundane questions. Wish me luck.