Monday, 13 August 2012

Four Year Plan

I'm getting terrible at keeping up with this, but it's mainly because I don't want to post a boring blog, and lately, I've just been feeling slightly bored.

I keep having second thoughts about teaching, but I've also been working a lot recently, but I really don't want to be stuck in a pub for years to come. Ideally, I would write, but I don't have the money for the work experience or to move away.

Last night, me and one of my friends sat drinking martini and watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics, and we realised that by the next Olympics, we will be coming up 26. That thought scared me and we began wondering what we hope to achieve by the next Olympics and my list was pretty simple:

-Have a job with good prospects
-Write more to improve and improve chances of 'dream' job.
-Have my own place, even if just rented.
-Been somewhere outside of Europe.

Quite a simple list, but I feel like all of those aspirations are a million miles away, especially when my life is mainly taken up by working in a pub and then catching up with my boyfriend and friends and family, the family who rarely see me anymore. However, me and the friend I was watching the Olympics with have come up with a writing venture, just a hobby under pseudonyms at the moment as we wish to stay anonymous for now, but it's something I've wanted to do for a while and am really enthusiastic about. You never know, it might lead somewhere. If it doesn't, I have teaching and it's always nice to have a dream and a back up plan I suppose, even if the back up plan is the one you have to act upon.

So, even though this blog gets neglected and a little bit boring at times, I'll keep forcing myself to do it as it forces me to think about the future and what I want from it, and all writing practice is good practice.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Enjoying right now

Apologies for sloppy writing, spelling, grammar and cliches, I just got home from work and am exhausted, but have been desperate to make just a little bit of time to write.

As I have explained before, waitressing and being a bar maid were never high up on my list of ambitions. Just like taking telephone orders for Domino’s Pizza, working in a pound shop and quitting a coffee place after four weeks were never on my life’s to do list. I did have a brief stint in a clothes store that I loved, but it was only temporary. I think my biggest problem with most of my jobs is that I only ever viewed them as temporary, I was always quite snobbish about it, knowing I was a student and going on to bigger and better things and therefore, finding things to hate about the job. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the pound shop was genuinely horrible. There is no dignity to be found stacking cans of Winalot on a Sunday morning, or having people who happen to be idiots assume that you too are an idiot.

So, all of my previous jobs have been, for the most part, terrible, but while mooching about replenishing cutlery and condiments on tables I began to wonder, how much of that was because I was being a snob? How much of it was because I convinced myself I was too good for the job and could do better? Was I always scared to enjoy or take any satisfaction from my jobs in case it somehow defined me or became my life?

I know I could do better than my current job, but like many degree students, it’s all I have. It’s that or jobseekers and will hopefully, be for a maximum of 18 months, but who knows what’s around the corner? This generation will probably have more degree qualified bar staff and waiters and checkout operators than any other, and we have to take all we can get. We have to fight for everything we can, and there is nothing undignified or lowly about it. We’re trying our best to get there, but having to take the scenic route.

So why not take in the scenery? I said about being scared that my job would define me, but every job, paid and voluntary, has given me experience that I can’t easily forget. Its skills such as communication, organisation and compromise, as well as how to deal with people that I can use in future in both professional and personal contexts. I’ve learnt how to juggle work with studies and relationships and most of all, I’ve learnt the value of hard work and that we’re all only human. No one is too good or too intelligent for certain types of work or bad circumstances, in the same way that no one is unworthy of success. I know I need to work for my rewards, and that I need to enjoy what I have, when I have it. If I’m always waiting for something better, I’ll always be miserable where I am now.

So tonight, I stopped being scared that this is the best it’s going to get and worrying about the future, and started to appreciate that my job is actually the best I’ve ever had, and I’m lucky to have it. It’s not too busy, not too quiet, I like the people I work with and occasionally have a laugh. It makes me happy when I get tips or get a compliment for my service and occasionally the unexpected happens. For example, tonight I briefly got shouted to go out the back, and it was simply to watch about twenty Chinese lanterns drift through the sky. And because the guy who initially shouted me was baffled and wondered if it was aliens. The other week I got birthday cake and sometimes, I get to go home early. It’s all about the little things really.

We all have ambitions, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be satisfied. I mean being a waitress isn’t forever, but it doesn’t mean I have to moan about it and begrudge my circumstances. We only live once, so we might as well enjoy the journey, even if we do take the long way round and find ways to take joy from everything we do, and lessons and memories from every experience. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Today's flab-e-loss experiment and catching up

Neglected my blog again, but I’ve been working and in between working, trying to make sure I don’t neglect my friends, family or boyfriend.

My new love!
I’ve actually not had a bad week, apart from the massive and quite tiring shifts at work, I’ve spent time with Marc and on Sunday, had a few drinks with two of my best friends, then after yesterday’s placement, we went shopping. Luckily, I received two random job seekers payments from when I left uni and didn’t have a job, so I bought a pair of boots as a ‘well done for getting off the dole’ present.

So there has been little chance for anything that scares me, unless you count being in charge of a group of 11 year olds and not knowing my way to the buildings I was meant to be showing them! I kept quite calm, I know I didn’t exactly seem sure of myself, but at least I know where everything is if I have to do it again. My group were definitely the worst behaved, but I think that was just bad luck.

I did something else different today. Egged on by my sister, I bought a set of four sessions on a Flab-e-loss machine at the local tanning shop. For anyone baffled and wondering what a Flab-e-loss is, it’s a poor man’s power plate, you use it for ten minutes and it violently vibrates your fat in the most unattractive way possible. The sensation in my legs at one point can only be described as like being electrocuted, without the horrible twitchy heart racing sensation (owning a horse, I’ve accidentally touched my fair share of electric fences.) To be honest, I’m dubious it even works. I was nervous about giving it a go, but I have nothing to lose. My uncertainly comes from the fact that I’m not really sure ten minutes of your thighs bouncing together involuntarily can help tone them up, the woman on before me who claims to have been using them regularly for months certainly didn’t seem to be reaping many benefits (she was far from toned) yet swore she had lost inches from her waist. I very much doubt I’ll keep it up, I probably toned up more from the run to the shop and back than the ten minutes I spent realising I have a lot more body fat than I previously thought as even my back began to wobble.

So that was today’s fun experiment. Again, I’m sorry for the lengthy absence, but I’ve spoken before about how sometimes you have to prioritise, and this week I have prioritised work as, well it’s my work and I need money and spending time socialising, because generally, if I can’t fit something in, it tends to be my friends, which isn’t really fair on them. I’m taking a little bit of time for myself right now by writing this and intend to post it then sit with my kindle.

And also a huge well done to Team GB for getting team silver in the Equestrian! I was so anxious watching it in the best possible way! Great result from a great team. 

Go GB!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Late night post explaining the last one

I am hopeless with technology and unless it is Facebook, Twitter, my iPhone or a word processor, to be honest, its trial and error. My friend recently set up a beauty blog and it is going really well really quickly, so I allowed her to take control for a while and sign me up to a blog hopper thing, detailed below, so hopefully, I can start to reach a winder audience.

I'm also attempting to work on one of my creative writing chapters and failing because it's 12.31am and I'm very tired! However I'm trying to remember that life does not stop at 11pm and that I can probably churn out some half decent writing. This entry being the exception.

To be honest, I just felt that I needed to update after the BBlogger post, because it seems so out of character with the rest of the blog, particularly because it was my friend who wrote the comments and picked a couple of the blogs I'm now following. If that is you, don't worry, I have since read through what she has written and while it is not in my style, it is sincere and I love reading other people's blogs, so keep up the good work guys! Apologies to anyone who noticed the temporary hijack of the positive fear!

Oh and new followers and viewers, follow on Twitter: @ThePositiveFear

Bbloggers Unite

Wednesday 25th July 2012

Quick post encouraged by a fellow blogger friend who has signed me up for this:

Hoping to get a few followers and hopefully more people reading and enjoying!

There are a few simple rules to follow, but it's really easy to understand. Normal blogging will resume with the next post, probably coming at the weekend.

Learning to take my own advice

So a busy couple of days and lots more stuff going on, but focusing on the positive, The Dark Knight Rises has to be the best film I’ve seen all year. I went to see it with Marc when it came out last Friday and we were so speechless that we walked from the cinema and drove from the car park without uttering much more than ‘what did you think?’ We took a moment to gather our thoughts then geeked out all the way home.

Due to an unfortunate series of events, I ended up having to bail on plans with Marc at last minute the other day, a lot was going on and I was already upset, but I managed to convince myself that he was annoyed and not talking to me and several texts and unreturned phone calls later, convinced myself we were in trouble. After talking to one of my friends, I realised just how common this is. Why do we over react like this? While I know he would have to be a total arse to throw four years of a happy relationship away because of one night of cancelled plans and that if he was upset, he would calm down, my inner psychopath was working herself into a frenzy, alternating between being angry at him for being such an arse (even though technically now I think about it, he hadn’t done anything) and feeling abandoned and upset and desperately trying to engage him in conversation by sending messages to both his phone and iPad.

I asked him about it yesterday, to which he looked confused and said ‘there wasn’t anything wrong. You needed to stay home and I’d just finished a twelve hour shift, was in a horrible mood and didn’t want to see or speak to anyone really and felt like that all weekend. It wasn’t you and I was asleep for a lot of your texts.’

So I had worked myself up over nothing again. While this does prove my theory that men also have a time of month where they hate life and want to eat everything and sulk, it also makes me feel like a total drip. What ever happened to women being strong and independent? If it was one of my friends behaving how I was I would have told them to ‘man up and get on with your life, it doesn’t stop for him.’ But when it comes down to it, I care just a little bit too much, and am partial to a bit of self-blame, whether the conflict is with Marc, my family or my friends. So I need to change this. I need to start viewing the situation as though I were an outsider and take my own advice, even if it is uncharacteristic and therefore scary. I need to stay calm and not jump to conclusions. In this case, I should have told myself to ‘calm down, it might not be anything you’ve done, and if it is, he’ll calm down eventually.’

Currently, I’m trying to put myself forward for a year 7 orienteering day at the uni on Monday. It’s a paid position, which is always a bonus as yet again, I am overdrawn and car tax is looming, but I have no idea what I’m meant to be to be doing. I’ve not once worked one of these events and felt like a bit of an idiot emailing to ask what is expected of me. In fact, I almost pulled out because I didn’t want to look inexperienced and stupid next to the workers that have done it all the time. But I realised I’ve looked worse. I’ve just spent 6 weeks running a workshop and before that, did a starter activity with a class whose full time teacher was watching every minute of it. I’ve done scarier things, all experience is good experience and it’s only one day. Plus it helps towards my car tax, so I’d be stupid to turn it down.

As for the rest of the day, I shall be making the most of my day off by reading and maybe seeing one of my friends for a bit, which hopefully won’t cost me money, because we all know I have very little will power where food or fun is concerned. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Thinking about the future

So the other day we were observed at placement. Predictably, it was one of the more difficult sessions we have done, but I also think it made us try harder and we got positive feedback and two new potential references as a result.

I often have second thoughts about what direction I’m going to go in with my career, but I think my main issue is that I’m scared to commit to something in case it makes me unhappy, however, it’s never too late to change your mind and this is something I need to remember.

All experience is good experience. The bad experiences make you stronger and the good ones open doors and let you see where your strengths lie. Your job does not define you, sure, it makes up a big part of your life, but it does not define who you are, nor does it determine who you will be or what you will do in future.
One quite personal example of this is my Dad. He has worked for the same company for 16 years and now due to a series of events and a long time thinking about it, he feels it’s time to move on. He wants to pursue his passion and ambition of running a charter fishing business full time, he’s done it at weekends with great success, but now he gets the chance to really make a go of it. I know the economy is terrible and he’s 52, which some may consider a bit old for a change of job, but I think it’s never too late to do what makes you happy, and he has plenty of qualifications to fall back on and had faith that he won’t end up out of work for long, if at all.

It’s so easy to think that whatever you do after school or university will define you forever and ever, but it’s never forever and ever, it’s only the beginning of a life time of decisions and admittedly, not all of them will be right or ideal, but it’s the experience that counts, and even a bad experience is more life affirming and character building than no experience at all. Let your hobbies and interests and the friends you make and people you love define you, don’t worry so much about the job! We all need money and we all need to work and may not always enjoy it, but you can never lose sight of what’s important, which is your happiness. If you’re stuck in a job that makes you unhappy, view your situation as temporary, you won’t always work there, you can still be anything you want to be and it’s never too late.

So what am I going to do? Well, I have a year to decide and nothing to stop me taking any opportunity that comes my way. I’m only 21 and have a life time of stupid, badly thought out decisions ahead of me, and to be honest, I can’t wait to see what’s next. 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Moving on from yesterday

Tomorrow I go to placement, and then am visiting Marc until Thursday afternoon, so won’t get chance to write tomorrow or Wednesday. I don’t want to leave on a bad note after last night.

I don’t like to leave anything badly, it’s something I can always remember my sister telling me when she used to instruct and help my horse riding. It’s a bit different with horse riding, because say your horse keeps refusing a jump and you quit, you won’t push yourself to do it next time, and the horse will know it can get away with it. So I would never end on a bad note, and that’s something I have since applied to everything I do. I don’t want to leave my blog entry, especially for new readers (welcome by the way! I see my stats have increased again) because I don’t want them to think this blog is just for ranting and moaning about how unfair life is.

So although yesterday’s online rant was beneficial, today I have moved on and forced myself back into some kind of routine, even if I did wake up ridiculously late. It would have been so easy to let my foul mood continue and to just sit and brood, but I got up, showered and dressed, then went to town to buy a birthday present for my mam and some clear nail varnish. The rest of the day just fell into place. After seeing Alley (the wonderful blogger of Smiling,moving,living,loving and ten year strong friend) at work selling birthday cards, I thought I’d see what she was up to when she finished and we ended up going for a late lunch and a needlessly long drive to get there. I then printed off some worksheets for tomorrow, spent an hour having a drink with my parents at the pub. I thought that would be weird now that I work there, but surprisingly not. After that, I went to my sister’s house for our new Monday night tradition of watching Top Model and The Inbetweeners and ordering take away.

I also bought a new top from River Island, because it was beautiful and only £10 and I thought ‘why not?’ The answer to that should always be ‘because you have no money, Rachel. You are on minimum wage and the taxman currently owes you £50 and your car tax is due in August.’ I’m actually hoping that my tax rebate will pay for my car tax.

So I’m back to my usual self. Keeping busy and living beyond my means. In all the recent change, I have perhaps lost track of my long term aims, so am actually looking forward to going to placement as it is my last day at that school and giving it my all. The man from uni who has helped organise it all is coming along too, so I hope it goes well so he can put me forward for other opportunities in September. It’s been a great experience and I’ve got to work with some really ambitious kids, I hope they’ve been inspired by what we’ve had to say, or at least that they remember it in future when they think about applying for further education.

I’ve often said that my current situation is not ideal, and it’s often infuriating, but this may be the only year of my life where I have the independence of an adult without all of the responsibilities that come with it, and without education. I don’t earn a great deal, but I earn enough to get by if I stop buying clothes, and I get to spend time with my family, friends and Marc, which makes me happy and I can focus on the things I enjoy. I have it good really, and am surrounded by many more helpful and supportive people who I love than I am negative people, so really, yesterday’s rant was a bit unnecessary. Things have a way of righting themselves, and if they don’t, we are adaptable!

So tomorrow I get back into the swing of things and as for the rest of my night, I’m finally going to start reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Nothing like jumping on the bandwagon late!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Dealing with anger

I was going to write a lovely little entry about how even when things are bad and you relapse back into negative thinking and unhappiness, the little things can make it all better again. And they can and most certainly do make a monumental difference.  For example, I felt really down yesterday, and it was little acts of kindness that cheered me up. A birthday party at work cut a slice of cake for all of the staff that was shaped like a boob, they tipped generously and then I got off an hour early.

Thanks to a few generous tips last night, I didn’t really lose any pay from finishing early, and ended up with a slice of the boob cake. Then I had a spontaneous visit to Marc’s, who remembered me mentioning that my mam had played two songs from the Top Gun soundtrack that morning and now I really wanted to watch it. (Thanks to Top Gun, I have a thing for leather jackets, aviators and general 80’s fashion.) So he found it on Netflix, ready for when I got there. These little things most definitely made my day, just like a long walk with my sister and a giant can of Red Bull cheered up today.

However as is the case with this week, what happens when you are not the cause of your unhappiness? What happens when bad things happen that are out of your control? Or when people act like a special kind of arsehole and that is the root of your unhappiness? As opposed to negative thinking or being inactive/unproductive/stuck in a rut as I’ve written about before.

I can’t give too many details, mainly because a) I don’t know who reads my blog and b) there is all kinds of trouble I could bring upon myself by naming, shaming and blaming, so I will refrain from divulging the details, even though I bet most people are dying to know. But this isn’t about me; it’s about encouraging others through my own struggles. As well as to some extent, entertaining them. I hope.

Let’s just say people have hacked me off and things are going on that I can in no way, shape or form control. I’ve spent a couple of days feeling sad and helpless, unmotivated and not doing anything about it, however as I was driving home from work, (driving and in the bath are where most of my best subconscious thoughts occur) something in me just clicked and suddenly, I wasn’t sad, I was angry.

Firstly, when anger strikes and you can’t address the cause directly, or in no way that will change the situation without causing more trouble or getting arrested, sacked or hated depending on the context, you need an outlet. The air in my car was blue with curses and swear words, mainly favouring the f’s, b’s and maybe even a whispered c. That wasn’t really enough, but I suddenly wanted to blog and I wanted to write. I wanted to do something, anything, for myself. While anger is a negative emotion, it is a much more powerful one than sadness. It’s proactive and a motivator and shouldn’t be entirely shunned. Anger says you’re not happy, but you will act upon it, you will do something about it, whether it is a silent act of rebellion like writing, or channelling your rage into something like sport or running or something pointless that will make you feel better anyway like punching a pillow or singing angrily to Papa Roach in the car.

Finding an outlet for the anger is satisfying, and once you’ve acted upon it, you can move on and get on with normal life, as opposed to harbouring suppressed resentment. The more Christian or maybe just more moral or mature of us would say ‘forgive’ those who have angered you. But right now, I don’t really want to forgive or forget, so I will just take solace in the fact that I can’t change anything, I can’t stop people being special breeds of arseholes, but at least I myself, am not an arsehole. And writing this has helped me calm down, and given me a much better blog entry than it would have been. 

Apologies for excessive use of the word arse. It was the least offensive swear word I could think of and non swear words just didn't cut it. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Amy's 21st

Without going into detail, this week has been pretty difficult. As I often do when things get difficult, I disappeared off to Marc’s for two days, which is so much easier now I can drive there! What took my 90 minutes and two busses now takes me 20-30 minutes depending on traffic. I had a chilled few days; we went to the cinema and out for lunch and I returned this morning feeling much happier.

The great thing about where I live :) 
I came back this morning and still haven’t got back into running, so I gave it a go, ran about 1km and then found myself taking pictures of my surroundings. I went down to the beach and dene again and just ended up wandering around, then sitting on a bridge, watching water from the beck flow down to the sea. I enjoyed it and it was beautiful, but I really do need to run again. Perhaps somewhere ugly where I can’t get distracted as I’ve eaten two three course meals in 24 hours.  

The rest of the day was spent baking cakes with Alley and organising where we were going to pick Clare up from. It is my friend, Amy’s 21st birthday today and we had arranged to go out for a meal. I love my friends to bits, but it’s the first time I’ve seen them all together since finishing uni, and if I’m honest, I was really worried that without uni, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. We’re all getting on with different things, none of which are what we originally planned, so we’ve all been really distracted lately and not really had time for each other. I suppose a lot of what I'm worried about is the fact we're all moving on. We're all getting on with different things and have no idea whats next, and I guess I just often wonder if we have a part in each other's plans anymore, or whether the end of uni meant the end of a friendship.

However, it wasn’t awkward at all. I was quickly reminded why we’re all friends in the first place. It’s because we’re all strange, slightly awkward individuals with our own quirks and individual interests. If anything, not having uni anymore gave us more to talk about, plus, we're all in the same, uncertain yet ambitious boat. I was over the moon when Amy said she’d been following my blog, and even told her mam about it. She’s quite shy and anxious, and she said it’s helped her stop worrying so much what people think about her and now she wants to do something every day that scares her.

Me, Alley, Amy and Clare
I tried to explain that I don’t do as much that scares me as I should, but sometimes even just something you wouldn’t normally do, like talk to someone new or like I often find myself doing, writing for the sake of writing, may not seem like big things, but actually help over-come self-consciousness. Whatever she’s taken from it, I’m just thrilled that she’s been inspired by something I wrote, that my writing has even just made one person think or one person put themselves into a situation they wouldn’t normally be in and turn a negative to a positive. It reminded me why I write this blog really, that it’s not always going to be exciting and new, but sometimes the most basic of fears are the most human, and the most difficult to overcome. It’s almost like it’s in our nature to expect to be judged negatively.

So we had a nice night. Laughed at ridiculous jokes about cheese, discussed how sticky toffee pudding might make you feel funny and just generally had a laugh. We may not have uni, but they’re still my friends and we do still exist outside of our degrees, so I feel quite stupid for thinking it would be awkward! Of course it wasn’t awkward, we’ve just all met through education, and as long as we keep in touch and keep making time for each other, we can support each other through more.

And I’m going to work on my other writing when I have posted this. For some reason this week, I find myself thinking about it when I’m not working on it, so I think it’s time to take advantage of this new found enthusiasm and get something down.

I’ve also noticed a big jump in page views, particularly from the USA, so welcome to The Positive Fear, I hope you enjoy reading my musings, even when they’re not particularly noteworthy. It’s all about the little things you know!

Follow me on Twitter: @ThePositiveFear

Friday, 6 July 2012

Just checking in again!

I finally got that feeling back, the one where I’m writing and I’m thinking of nothing else. Where I understand my characters and know what I want the reader to see, where I truly care about what is happening with them and want to keep the plot moving. I decided to ignore the ‘naff’ comment, got out of my writing rut and did something productive with my night in. I re-read the last couple of chapters, corrected a few bits and started on another one. All in all, I’ve written about 1000 words tonight and have 10,200 in total. I need to make time to do this more!

So I got my new haircut today and I love it. I unfortunately couldn’t re-start the fitness as British summertime is in full swing and it’s been torrential rain and thunderstorms all day, so the last place I wanted to go was running. But I have done my placement work. Monday really isn’t as far away as I think, and while I have 10 or 12 hours of work to get through this weekend (I can’t remember. I need to check the rota when I go in tomorrow,) I know that with that, seeing Marc and seeing my horse, it will fly. After the disappointing placement the other day, the last thing I want to do is go in unprepared on Monday. I want to make the best of it, so have done the work tonight, while I have nothing else to do but read, write and maybe watch Season 7 of Scrubs.

Talking about my writing, I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, and after uploading pictures of my new clothes yesterday, I’m thinking about starting a fashion and beauty blog too. However as I sit here in my baggiest, most faded, grungy looking jumper and leggings, I’m not entirely sure I have any authority, influence or credibility when it comes to fashion, so perhaps I should just keep track of ideas and if I find myself considering it again, go for it.

I think the only scary thing I’ve done today apart from facing my own writing again, was admitting to a room full of people at the hairdressers that I don’t actually like Fifty Shades of Grey – That I read 100 odd pages of it and lost interest. However, I’m not going to slag it off, good on E.L James. It’s doing really well and has definitely got people talking. As an aspiring writer, I’m far from perfect. In fact, have in the past been called ‘naff’ and ‘boring.’

And I realise that this is a boring blog entry, and that would be because apart from my new hair and writing, I have done very little of any interest to anyone today. So I will end it here, happy with my renewed productivity and interest in things I love and new hair. I’m going to go watch Scrubs and get an early night! I’m having the weekend away from blogging, so will hopefully return with all manner of interesting things to talk about!

Thanks for your continued support, interest and patience! 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Guilty Pleasures

I haven’t even been paid yet and I’m already treating myself. As soon as I left for Middlesbrough on Tuesday to meet a friend for coffee, I knew that I was going to be buying myself a pair of jeans from Topshop. I was wearing jeans and a top, so didn't need to take a t-shirt in to try with the jeans, but I had spotted a t shirt I liked so took that in the changing rooms as well, you know, just to see how the jeans would look with it. Needless to say, I ended up with both items. It would have been rude not to.

I actually do like Cash - And it
looks great with a leather jacket!
I have also booked a hair appointment for tomorrow, but view that as a necessity. Anything that looked remotely styled or like a fringe grew itself out months ago and my sister’s attempts at home colouring my hair have ended up patchy. It looked intentional and quite cool is what I told myself at first, but now the ends are practically black, roots are fair and in between is a combination of black, brown, copper and natural blondish patches and dead ends. I don’t know why I let it get this bad. I will end up walking into the hairdressers and sobbing ‘please fix it again?’

So I talked about getting the work/life balance right, and this week I have got it totally wrong in the opposite, more fun way. I’ve seen two of my friends and then absconded completely from Tuesday night to a few hours ago to Marc’s where apart from going to the cinema and for a small walk, we have done virtually nothing productive.

Placement was brief and not as well organised as it should have been, which led to an awkward hour of me and the girl I run it with trying to seem like we knew what we were doing, when all we were in fact doing was making the kids do drawings in an attempt to engage them. Lesson learnt. Just because last week was cancelled, does not mean we can do no prep work at all and think we can just wing this week. Even though nothing disastrous happened, I think both of us felt that we had let ourselves down a little bit, so have planned next weeks and actually intend to not get too distracted by other things, and to rediscover our enthusiasm.

So I’ve let myself slip financially, professionally and nutritionally. I’ve been for two runs since doing the Race for Life and still haven’t sent my sponsor money back. I’ve been to the gym once in the past month and have just gorged myself on chocolate buttons. And I still haven’t written creatively since getting my feedback with the word ‘naff’ in it. I didn’t even really feel like writing this right now, but knew that I needed to get back out of my lazy habit, as I don’t want to get stuck back in a rut of doing nothing and feeling bad about it. I’m glad I did write, as it’s taken on a life of its own as writing often tends to do, and I have been able to address my little relapses.

So tomorrow, I think it will be new hair and a new start. Well not so much a new start as a kick up the backside. I’m not at work so I have no excuse. I will be healthy again, start writing again and start putting my money towards paying my parents back for car insurance and putting back into my ISA for potential holidays and adventures instead of using the account as a bail-out fund.

It's not often I find jeans that fit me properly, but Topshop's Leigh
supersoft skinny jeans are a God-send!
But that’s not to say that the last few days of indulging whims haven’t been fun. I loved being able to say yes to my £52 Topshop splurge (I’m dragging out use of my student discount) and saying yes to coffees, lunches and a late night showing of Spider-Man. I loved lying around with Marc, stuffing ourselves with chocolate and skipping the gym and most certainly do not regret booking tomorrow’s hair appointment. I’m a firm believer that you have to treat yourself or take a day or two to do nothing but enjoy your own or someone else’s company, else you will go mad. After all, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. (I MUST re-read The Shining!) 

But it is important not to let these little guilty pleasures get out of hand else you lose sight of what you’re working towards, or eventually become miserable as well as fat, penniless and stuck in a rut.

 So its not so much back to work, but back to organisation, back to doing instead of just being, happy in the knowledge that I will be doing instead of being with good hair, plenty of sleep and a fantastic pair of jeans. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Addressing the work/life balance

Just another short one tonight because it's getting late.

I mentioned yesterday about how sometimes, you just have to slow down, even if it means saying no to things and just focus on the big commitments. Well today was a perfect example of how if you focus on the big things and make time for them, then the little, more fun things you wanted to do just follow, without you having to panic and rush around trying to fit them into your schedule.

I went for my shift at work and it was completely dead. I pulled two pints, made six soft drinks, waited on one table and checked on another. All of which took about half an hour. Then the other two and a half hours were either spent cleaning things for the sake of cleaning or filling out the training sheets that I just rushed through the first time. Then I got let off an hour early.

On my list of things I wanted to do this week, I wanted to ride my horse. Riding is something I have been doing for 15 years or so and I have had my horse for nine. I'm lucky that my horse lives out and is pretty self sufficient as far as domestic horses go, because between me and my sister, we only just manage to look after her properly with everything else we have going on. It's so easy to fall out of the habit of riding and just fall into the cycle of bring in, groom, keep in, turn out, muck out instead, especially when you're in a bit of a rush or the weather is bad, and riding is something that as you get older, I find that if you stop doing it, it makes it more intimidating when you do. You wonder how the horse will react to the seemingly spontaneous ride. Will they be more spooky? Will it be difficult and undisciplined? So you fall into the trap of 'I'll do it at the weekend' and then you get there and the arena is in constant use and you think 'I'll do it when it's quieter.' It's a vicious cycle that today I decided to break. I brought my horse in, groomed, tacked up and rode. And I loved it.

Yes she was hard work, which I expected because she's not the best schooled horse in the world and she has had about three weeks doing nothing but eat, crap, escape from her paddock and sleep, but she worked really hard and I enjoyed it and feel like it may have been the first step towards getting back into the habit of riding.

So I got home at 5pm and suddenly had all of this spare time that I didn't think I would have. So I have watched some TV, painted my nails, chatted to my dad and looked into my breakdown cover, and now I am laying with my laptop, blogging and planning to make a CD for my car before bed. Because I'm old school and my car stereo won't do anything flash like plugging an ipod or phone into it.

So that is that. I have work training in the morning and managed to rearrange plans with my friends for tomorrow. Things should never be all work and no play, but when you over plan them, the fun quickly disappears from play. So focus on the work, and then the things you want to do soon follow, and feel even more welcome for it.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Just say no

I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. Last night I ended up at work until 12.30am and went back for another all day shift today. And have to go back tomorrow. I know I wanted a job, but this is a shock to the system! However, I have finally stopped getting stomach cramps before work and driving, so immersing myself in stressful situations seems to be working.

I did want a job, and do need the money, but don’t like not being in control of when I’m free. I’m a total control freak in other words, and a chronic people pleaser. I don’t like saying no to people in case they think I’m a bad friend, bad girlfriend, bad employee, bad horse owner, bad person in general. I just always have a fear of not being good enough.

Since starting uni, I’ve always tried to do everything. I’m fantastic at juggling and like to think I have my work/life balance sussed. However, I’ve come to realise that sometimes, the very work involved in trying to keep this balance throws it all out of whack and just makes everything more stressful.
To put this into some sort of perspective, here is a list of things I want to and have to do this week:

-Work for placement
-Work on my blog
-Work on my creative writing
-See my horse and ride
-See Marc
-See my friends for coffee
-Go to the gym
-Go running
-Get my hair done
-Go for drinks with a girl I made friends with at work
-Do my nails
-Re-watch Easy A and Mean Girls
-Read Drive and start on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Now there is my problem. I’m working 17 hours this week and most of those things are pretty time consuming. The only way round this is to pick the things that have to be done, in this case, work and placement. Then plan everything else around it. Now as technically I don’t have a weekend with work and all, I want to spend two days with Marc, so as I’ll already be out of town, I can go to his after and spend the next day with him and spend time with him. I may get to see him another day this week, but I need to find out when he is working too.

So then the least time consuming things like my horse and my writing. Well I do them around the big things. They’re responsibilities, but they’re also enjoyable and still ‘me time.’ I go for drinks with the girl from work because it will be fun and different and I don’t know when we will next have the same night off. My other friends, I was meant to be seeing tomorrow, but my work rota changed. So there’s the thing that scares me: That I have to say no.

I know I don’t make enough time for them, but I also know that now we’re all doing different things, it’s always going to be difficult and as friends, they’ll understand. We all have plans for someone’s birthday next week anyway, so I’ll get to see them then. They won’t think any less of me, they won’t hate me and bitch about me or never speak to me again, they have had to cancel at various times in our friendship, so me doing it won’t hurt anyone.

So as for the little things like my hair, nails and reading, they will still get done. My hair appointment is booked so I can’t rearrange because I did last time, and I think it’s massively important for everyone to take even just ten minutes to unwind with a cuppa and a book, or some music and a bottle of nail varnish. Or for any male readers, some Call of Duty or whatever men do when alone. (After four years, Marc is still often a mystery!)

So if you find yourself with a list like mine and struggling to manage or make time for yourself, say no before you make yourself ill, even if it’s just fifteen minutes or so to sit with a coffee. The world will not end if you do.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Just checking in :)

So I’m slowly getting over my fear of driving, have stopped getting lost and am not as scared of merging onto motorways. As I said the other day, it’s all learn by doing, so I have been doing it a lot and driving all over the place and often. I even went for completely pointless 20 mile drive at 11pm that ended in a trip to Tesco for hay fever tablets and a bottle of water. Marc’s eyes suddenly looked like he was infected with some kind of zombie virus, but typically by the time we got to a 24 hour supermarket, it had cleared up.

It has been a pretty uneventful two days for doing things that scare me, so this will be quite short and I'm mainly only writing to keep up to date and not neglect any regular readers. I actually care about you lot and LOVE that I'm getting views from as far away as Malaysia and USA, so keep it up and tell your friends and get me more readers. Obviously tell them that I'm normally more interesting than this.

 But I did have a small hour of panic yesterday about the way things are going. As I said in a previous post, all of a sudden, everything is going right, but all of a sudden I have adult things to worry about. Now I have money and a car, I have to save for car insurance, worry about adult things like having loose change to park, where am I going to park? When should I start saving for Christmas and should I have some kind of back up fund in case I’m horrible at being a barmaid and get sacked?

Now I don’t know the answer to any of those, but I do know that I owe my parents around £500 for car insurance as I only had three quarters of it saved and I should start paying them back. If I work 16 hours in a week, I can earn £100, and this means that I need to start managing my money again and learn to save and accommodate, instead of living in an overdraft and squandering student loans.

Part of me missed the simplicity of being a student, but then I remembered that for most of it, I felt stuck in a rut and couldn’t wait to start being more independent and move on. So I am. I have ambition, I have responsibilities that will help things move forward in whatever direction I decide upon, and little inconveniences like parking and the change required for parking meters are just an annoying part of growing up.

So I have found out the dates for my insurance and MOT, will find my tax expiry date tomorrow and will look into breakdown cover with my dad. I will stop seeing work as the downfall of the social life I never actually really had and see it as a way of making more money than I currently need. So I will budget and start saving three ways: Car stuff, Christmas and spending money for a holiday next year.
How very adult of me!

I’ve also had to learn to prioritise. I got offered a three day school placement, but having already cancelled one, I’ve also cancelled this one. While my long term aims are the most important, I need money to make them happen and can’t really afford to annoy my boss with days off just yet. That can wait till September when hopefully, I’ll have another one day a week 6 hour placement.

For now, I have my weekly workshop and I love it, I have this and I have my writing which I need get back into. I have a supportive family, boyfriend and friends, a fat pony that makes me laugh, a job and a car. For the first time since finishing uni, I feel calm and able to count my blessings and enjoy my year out. I’ve stopped waking up feeling nervous, and instead wake up feeling content. At the moment, things are great.

I apologise that tonight’s post is just me rambling! Sorry that it’s been boring, but things never stay quiet for long. I can almost guarantee that the crazy will resume shortly. Probably before the weekend is out! 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Work, driving and crying in a car park

It’s almost midnight. My feet ache, I’m sweaty and I stink of beer.

This scenario isn’t as fun as it sounds. I’ve been to my first real shift at work. Since I quit the job I had in sixth form (I worked in a pound shop. It was a hell hole,) Paid positions, or indeed, reasons to be on my feet for six hours at a time have been few and far between.

So this is a bit of a shock to the system. This whole week has been a shock to the system. I’ve gone from a degree to barmaid and waitressing and from public transport to a car. Do something that scares me? I’ve been a nervous wreck! I know I’m a very anxious person to the point where it’s unhealthy, and I know that I have recently been trying to immerse myself in stressful situations that I have to force myself to keep calm in, but this week has been daunting to say the least.

My life has changed for the better. I have gone from spending my year out on benefits to having a job, and from everything taking an hour longer than it should on the rickety rackety bus to being able to jump in my car. But these are both huge changes and I have spent all week waking up with butterflies and every day fighting through them. I am getting through work okay, even though I got a bit nervous before my shift, but driving is a whole other issue.

To say I’m not a natural at driving would be an understatement. It took me almost eighteen months and four tests to get a licence and on the first day I had my car, I stalled it 12 times. I’ve now had it for five days and while I am getting much better, the stalls are still daily. Yesterday, I needed to drive out of town to get to placement and had to go via Middlesbrough town centre to pick up the girl I work with at placement. I got on and off the A19 without incident; however, the A66 was a different story. I went in the wrong lane and ended up at some massive roundabout with many lanes and traffic lights and loads of lorries, and again, realised I was in the wrong lane and wanted to move over. I got beeped at and my driving was unsafe at best.

The rest of it was okay, apart from when we got to placement and it had been cancelled. But I got back to Middlesbrough okay and then set off for my boyfriend’s and got back onto the A19 and to his really easily. I even drove him to the supermarket later.

So what difference can 24 hours make? Lots. In a fit of cockiness, I agreed this morning to drive him to work, back in the dreaded Middlesbrough that has no easy way of getting into it. We went a different way to what I had, again because of a lane cock up. So I ended up at another terrifyingly huge roundabout with loads of lanes and ended up crossing them at last minute and received lots of angry beeps. Do these people not know I’m lost?!

It got much worse. On the way back to the A19, that yesterday I found very easily, I found myself sailing past my turn off. I kept calm for now and decided to carry on towards Stockton, hoping I could find my way home from there. I got more and more lost to the point where my driving was a mess and people were beeping and I ended up trapped in a car park in my panic. I actually parked up so that I could have a little cry. I couldn’t believe how lost I had ended up, I was scared and sweating and generally worked up.
Then I remembered the sat nav and felt incredibly stupid. Getting home with the sat nav was the easiest thing in the world.

So lesson learned. Until I get more confident, use a sat nav. I mean, at work or uni, I wouldn’t just carry on doing something I knew was wrong and let it get out of hand and even more of a problem, I’d ask for help. So for the foreseeable future, even to go places that in theory I know how to get to, I will be using the sat nav.

I have since driven to work to check if the folder I was meant to take home was there, back home to get changed, back to work for my shift and back home again with no dramas. Like a lot of things, driving is learn by doing, and when the idea of doing scares me, I just have to man up and do it anyway and eventually, I’ll be able to do it without thinking about it and will wonder what all the fuss was about and hopefully won’t have need to cry in car parks. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

New car and new job

Sorry for the disappearance again. I did give a brief explanation on Twitter, but I doubt everyone who reads this follows it on Twitter! (you totally should - @ThePositiveFear)

Basically, within the space of a few days, everything has suddenly come together. After my visit to the nice lady at the job centre, but still no thanks to the job centre, I had an interview at the village pub that turned me down about a month ago. All of a sudden, I was offered a trial shift on Saturday night, probably its busiest time apart from occasions like Mother’s Day or Christmas parties and such.

I’d like to say I was scared about trying to learn a new job and impress the boss at the same time, but I honestly have something much more nerve wracking going on.

I got my new car on Friday and it wasn’t insured for me to drive until Saturday, so the first place I drove it alone was to work. There are two problems. One is that I can’t reverse out of spaces or into them to save my life. The second is that whenever I stop for junctions, traffic lights or roundabouts, I stall, sometimes in dangerous places. I stalled four times on the way to work before I even left my street. Four. I know it’s because I’m not used to the car, but seriously?

So by the time I got to work, I was just relieved to have got there alive. Everyone is really friendly, we were pretty busy and I spent most of my time either trying to help without getting in the way, learning how the tills work, taking orders and clearing plates and learning to pull pints. I wasn’t actually meant to know until today whether I had got the job, but at the end of the shift, my new manager told me she would be happy to have me, and gave me my shifts for this week.

Of course, with every set of problems solved, a new set arises. I pass my driving test, now I feel like I’m starting all over again in a car that I am admittedly starting to stall less in, but am slightly terrified of parking or stopping in. I mean, my dad took me down the motorway last night as I’ll have to drive out of town to placement tomorrow (a whole new set of issues) and I was actually fine. It literally is stopping and starting in busy places.

With the job, I moaned consistently about not having a job, and now I have one, I’m busy and have to rely on mad organisation skills that are a little rusty since starting University and only having to be there for about six hours a week. How on earth did I cope at school and college when I was there for six hours a day? At Sixth Form I was there five or six hours a day yet still had time for a boyfriend, my friends, hobbies, a weekend job and I was relying on public transport. I’m sure I can handle this, I just need to get used to it again!

This is why I’ve been busy in a nutshell. And all of it is quite frankly a little bit scary. However, I’m currently sat with butterflies the size of seagulls as I dare myself to drive to the jobcentre to sign off, after my grand total of 5 days on the dole, and to pick my mam up from work while I’m in town. Then I have to drive for an hours training and paperwork at my new job.

Right now, I’m going to have to keep this short. I’ve been procrastinating with the blog, mainly because any chance I’ve had to write it, something sociable has come up, or I find that I’d rather lay in bed and watch Scrubs then FaceTime Marc. I need to throw together an activity for placement tomorrow, and I need to do it now as I’d quite like to use tonight for meeting up with two old friends, giving the A19 another attempt with my dad supervising, and then writing all about my vaguely terrifying day!

Also, I’ve had a massive jump in page views. Thanks to all you regular readers and newbies, thanks to you too and welcome to my world of crazy.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Placement, job center and everything in between

I posted the other night about gritting my teeth and getting on with my creative writing. Well I haven’t. For two reasons mainly, the first being that I simply haven’t had time, and the other because every time I try, I have my old tutor’s voice saying ‘naff’ in my head. ‘Naff’ isn’t a very technical term, but who am I to ignore someone who has ‘Dr’ in front of their name?

I do need to get on with it, but I have been busy with placement and such.

Normally I’d be terrified before starting a new placement, but the 5.30 start and being in Middlesbrough for 7.30 meant it was too early for fear. I dragged myself to Starbucks as it opened and waited for the girl I’m working with, looked over our plan and went to the school.

After a confusing moment where we were asked if we were from the Red Cross, to which we looked blankly and mumbled ‘no… the university… the workshop,’ we were given our photo ID’s, introduced to the teacher, taken to the classroom and then left with four rather intimidated, awkward looking 13 year olds. There was absolutely no time to panic.

It’s meant to be a group of eight, but most were on a school trip. They’re such intelligent kids and we persevered, mainly talking about ourselves and what we want to do and jumping from activity to activity, hoping to promote group discussion. This only worked when we left them alone. Or sat at the desk and pretended to leave them alone. Things soon picked up when we started playing ‘career charades’ and that game where you have a famous person on a sticky label on your head and have to ask the other’s questions about who it is. Only they did it with jobs and careers.

At this point they actually started laughing and talking to us and I’m really pleased that we couldn’t have had a better behaved group of kids. Things might liven up next week when we have eight, but the 90 minutes were fun. Me and Helen paired up for an example for a ‘getting to know you’ activity, and hearing her say it, it sounded like it was coming from someone else.

‘This is Rachel, she’s got a BA in English and Creative Writing. She hopes to either be a teacher or a writer of some sort and is taking a year out to gain as much experience as possible. She has a fat horse and has been riding for 14 years, obviously likes to read and write and goes running and to the gym and also likes clothes. She has a blog, is working on a creative writing project and has previously worked in retail.’

She made me sound so much more experienced than I often feel! She stated the facts, nothing about my uncertainty and panic, and I realised that no amount of uncertainty or panic can take away what I’ve done, do and am yet to do. This sudden confidence came in useful when I went to the job centre.

You’d think I’d have more to say about the job centre but I don’t. It was dull if nothing else. I don’t get why people hang about there all day. The woman I saw was lovely, but she knows my mam’s friend so I quickly got the impression that the entire job centre staff body will soon know who I am! I have to go back to an advisor tomorrow and talk to her about my career aspirations and things. Who knows, I may come back enlightened. I’m actually grateful for the opportunity to talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Also, I have a job interview for a retail position on Saturday morning. I rang up about it last week and totally forgot about it, and while it’s probably not going to figure in my long term goals and aspirations, it certainly fulfils the short term one of making money and getting used to the work environment and new situations again, and will still let me have that year out of sorting my head out, gaining other experience and working on my writing. I’ve found myself thinking about other projects that interest me and feel more enthusiastic about everything in general.

What with passing my driving test, it seems like things are on the up. Fingers crossed for the interview!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Criticism isn't personal!

While I'm here, I just read my feedback from my creative writing project. I was aware that it got a 2:1, however while it is 'promising,' apparently page 10 is a bit 'naff.'

My main beef with this is that 'naff' isn't a very scholarly way of putting it, however it probably is accurate. But I don't know how to make it not 'naff.' I just tried to go correct it and saw it was a part that I struggled with and cringed, closing the document. This is something I need to get over and quickly, it's just hard to take criticism about something so personal.

So here's my options: give it a few days and go back to it, do some editing and some planning when I'm more alert and carry on, or get a cup of tea, take a deep breath and edit that page right now. Either sound find, but it needs doing, and I've done more daunting things today, so I shall make a cup of tea and try and work up the courage to read it over and make changes. Objectively and without feeling like the 'naff' is a reflection on me in general.

I know all writers go through this, but it's an important process, because only through horrible comments do you know where you can improve and what people want to read. I've had just as many compliments as I have criticisms, so I need to stop taking the criticism so personally and see it as just something else I need to work on.

After all, it was only one page of 24 he said was 'naff.' I would have been much more worried had it been all of them!

Driving Test Attempt Four

Not really a lot to write about today, or at least not at great length, but I finally passed my driving test! Fourth attempt and I have passed with six minors.

I was an absolute wreck. I said I wanted to do something that scares me to some degree every day, but I didn’t really mean fear to the point of feeling sick, shaking and wanting to quit!

But that’s what driving is. It’s like everything worth having. Getting to it is terrifying, stressful, emotional, and isn’t necessarily going to happen first time. I know a few days ago I would have scoffed at this advice, but the only thing you can really do is keeping going and remember what you’re aiming for. It would have been so much easier to quit, but then I wouldn’t have passed and passing will give me so much more independence and time and so many less strange people showing me their pet mice on the bus.

So now I get to car hunt. Unfortunately, I won’t have a car by tomorrow, so I still have to get up at 5.30 to make it to work experience that would take 40 minutes to drive to by 8.30. Two busses and a taxi that will take me two hours, I bet there are people in the world that could run there in better time. I’m only getting up that early so I have time for breakfast, a shower and a coffee, the basics to feel human!

I won’t get to write tomorrow as my day is quite hectic, going something like home-placement-job centre-home-Marc’s house, but I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to write about on Friday after all this. I do have a placement and a dole appointment, both of which are terrifying. I may even be closer to having a car by Friday!

So for now, I’m going to bask in my relief, maybe write some of my creative writing for a bit or read, then go for another early night.

Sorry for being boring this week! But hard work and persistence does pay off, which is something I’ll have to remember at the job centre tomorrow. 

Monday, 18 June 2012

On a different and much shorter note

I have my driving test again tomorrow and I'm terrified. However instead of sitting here panicking, trying to think of a positive spin to put on it and how to tell the world I've failed, I'm going to do something that seems completely impossible but will ultimately be the best possible course of action. I'm going to go paint my nails, download a new book, read a little, have a good night's sleep and go for a run first thing to clear my head.

Whatever will happen will happen. Now, after watching both films should I finally read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or should I jump on the Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon? Still not ready for Song of Ice and Fire book 3!

Worrying about my driving test won't help. I've done it three times. If I'm going to fail again, it's just bad luck and staying on my laptop trying to Google stress busting techniques will not give me the luck and skill needed to pass. However feeling good and not thinking about it may calm my nerves and even improve my confidence. The worst has already happened 3 times. If it happens again, well there isn't a whole lot I can do about it but try again and try not to care that people will judge me as a dreadful driver!

Let's not get embarrassed

For months I’ve not quite been myself. I have blamed it on stress, uni and even thought it was all in my head. I’ve been suffering horrific mood swings. One moment I could be happy, the next I could be in tears and want to just sleep. My skin has been prone to break outs and even after training to run 5km and eating relatively healthy, I’ve gained a stone over a year.

And no, it’s not pregnancy as has previously been speculated on Twitter. Children don’t really figure in my life plan and I’m not good with under 10’s anyway, so I’m very conscientious about contraception and can predict my periods, often to the hour. I realised I was due to go for my six monthly pill check-up and that’s when it dawned on me. All of my symptoms are hormonal, the pill is hormonal, and I changed pill about 9 months ago.

All week I’ve been annoying myself. I rang the clinic I normally go for a check- up and booked in there, but then decided that it might be an issue for my doctor to solve so booked in there too. The clinic meant speaking to women about this sensitive subject and would be a much more pleasant experience, but my male doctor has always been reassuring, especially when I was recently paranoid about my moles, and I thought he might be able to give more of a knowledgeable insight and tell me if my problems were the result of something else.

So many people are reluctant to go to the doctor about feminine or sexual issues and they really should. I reasoned that this is what the doctor is there for and decided to pull myself together and go see him and he was incredibly understanding, talked me through my options, took my blood pressure and decided that a progesterone only pill may be better for me and advised a low fat and low salt diet, three months on my new pill when the current one ends and then to go back for another check-up.

I often got the feeling at the clinic that they would just give you what- ever contraception was available and was definitely not aware of the side-effects. I know a lot of people just dismiss them as it’s hard to believe that one pill a day could have such negative side effects such as depression, weight gain, recurrent thrush, migraines or high blood pressure. How many women have been diagnosed with something without even considering the possibility that the pill may be the cause?

I’m finding this entry a bit of a struggle to be honest, because I feel it's boring and not something people want to read about, however it’s something they should read and shouldn’t be worried or ashamed to discuss. If you have an awkward or ‘inappropriate’ problem, the worst thing you can do is sweep it under the rug. We should talk about contraception and similar issues; it’s not a big dirty secret. It’s sensible and we need to know our options, possible side effects and that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to talk about.

Perhaps all of that talking about swan rape, incest and other taboo and often sick topics in literature seminars has made me unshockable, but I truly believe that women need to not just speak to their partners, but their friends and their doctors in order to get all the facts and make the right choices regarding sexual health and contraception. I’ve said previously that the same needs to be done with mental health. Let’s stop whispering about it and let’s talk about it like adults. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, we’re all human and part of that is that we have different experiences and therefore side effects. If we don’t talk about it, how will we know what works for us? 

So I shall give this a go, happy that I’ve had someone to discuss it with and that I may finally have an answer to the puberty like symptoms I have been experiencing!   

Saturday, 16 June 2012

New Placement and the Race for Life

Yesterday was crazy. I’m still trying to recover now! After two months off from my formerly hectic life, all of a sudden, starting on Thursday, all kinds happened.

I was feeling a bit hacked off and rejected because the job search is actually going nowhere. I had heard nothing from the card shop, nothing more from the village pub and generally nothing from anything I’ve applied to. I went for a walk to the corner shop and they said there were no vacancies, so I just bought a lottery ticket and walked to the local pub to see if they needed barmaids or waitresses even for the summer. Again, the answer was no, but they took my CV, probably just to be polite. However on the way home, my phone started going mental with emails. I had a placement confirmed. Five 90 minute sessions over the next five weeks at a school in Ormesby, the activities planned are from a scheme called Aim Higher, basically trying to inspire and encourage teenagers to think about higher education or their ambitions. Considering I actually went ahead and applied for Job Seekers Allowance, it’s all a bit ironic. Best not mention that to the pupils.

I was asked to an interview that would be two days later at 4pm. It had to be this soon as we were going to the school next Wednesday. Immediately, there was a schedule problem. I was due to run the Race for Life at 7.30 and it would be impossible to get from Middlesbrough, to Hartlepool and back to Ormesby within two hours. So I asked for it to be rearranged, got no reply until the next day when I was already at my boyfriend’s for the night. It was asking me to go to the meeting at 12 instead.

So without time to go home and fuelled only by an apple, I left Marc’s and went straight to uni thoroughly unprepared. Literally, the most useful things in my bag were probably Clinique foundation, my phone and some tampons. No CRB form, no pens or notebooks, just nothing.

Luckily it didn’t matter. I met the girl I’m going to be working with and the organiser and they are both lovely and massively helpful. I’m being thrown in at the deep end a little as my last placement was mainly observation based with only bits and pieces of actual teaching or mentoring. This is us actually running the session and all of its content. But they are massively helpful and I left after a cup of tea and some a quick coffee feeling inspired, wired, hungry and with very little time to go home and prepare for the Race for Life.

I managed to grab some food and get ready on time and still caffeine fuelled, we got there on time. Like most things, if you don’t have time to be nervous, you perform better. We didn’t have time to think about the torrential rain or the fact we have only ran 5KM once before, we just went and did it. The atmosphere is fantastic and it’s a great cause, but next time I’m going in the runner’s group. The majority of ‘joggers’ actually walked around the course. This meant that we had to run around them as well as the muddy puddles. Because of the earlier thunder storms, 1km of the course was so slippery and dangerous that we were forced to walk it, but we managed the rest and completed it in around 30 minutes and really enjoyed it. The spectators and the man on the microphone really do spur you on and it was nice to do something different for a good cause. I mean, everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, so Cancer Research is one of the most worthwhile charities I can think of.

If this entry feels rushed, it’s because the day was a blur. A caffeine fuelled blur that gave me a lot to do and a lot to think about, so it’s little wonder that I got home, peeled off my muddy clothes, had a shower and slept.

 Despite the rush, it was the most worthwhile day I have had in a while, where I actually made some kind of difference. I also had to rush to the jobcentre to change my interview time, but that was just another obstacle and not very productive or enjoyable! I can’t wait to start my placement and I’m proud to say that I ran the Race for Life. Two things that I was hesitant about signing up for and worried I wouldn’t be able to do. Well, I succeeded in my 5km, met a new friend and I’m genuinely excited to start working with the group alongside the other volunteer next week. Good things happen when you start to let them. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Letting go of uni

Okay, here’s that entry I promised a few days ago. Basically, we found ourselves sitting talking about whether uni had been worth it or not last Friday night, (we had been to the pub for curry night, but other than that, yes, we really do not have better things to do) and came up with a list of pros and cons about the whole experience. This was meant to be a huge retelling of the list and for prospective and current students, a funny guide, and for graduates; a look back at the lessons learnt other than the academic. However, I attempted it and it didn’t really read well as a piece of writing and was far too long, so I thought I’d focus on the first and most important part of the list: The people.

One of the first things you get told in those higher education days at school and from proper adults is that uni is where you will meet life- long friends. I walked into my new home in Newcastle three years ago, all ready to become best friends, bonding over cheap drink so that we could live like a little student family of stereotypical quirkiness. It didn’t quite work like that. I was the only ‘working class’ northerner in the flat, and although it shouldn’t be a problem, a divide between me and the rest of the girls quickly formed. I tried to make an effort with them, but they had more money to be going out together more often and seemed to be nocturnal. They slept all day, partied all night and made as much noise as humanly possible doing so. They just stopped inviting me anywhere and one of them seemed to blatantly hate me to the point of ignoring me unless it was to make a snide remark. I asked her what her problem was, and she denied that there was one. The dirty looks said otherwise.

 I walked into the kitchen one day and heard them saying how all northerners ‘thought they were hard and a bit rough’ and were apparently racist. It really hurt me that I had been nothing but nice to these girls, treat them all equally, and yet had been stereotyped as some sort of ‘rough’ (or just more working class than them) racist. The ‘why don’t they like me?’ quickly turned into ‘those bitches!’ especially when I decided I was going to move home. Everything they did angered me to the point that when I left, I stabbed the inflatable snowman and left the freezer door open. Yes. That was me. 

That was my first real lesson of grown up life. People can be awful and there comes a point where you have to stop trying to change them, stop being hurt by it and rise above it. In the mean time I made other friends, one of which helped me throw a very rowdy St Patrick’s Day party in my kitchen without informing the flatmates first. This girl helped me to enjoy running again, made me feel like part of her flatmate community and took me to the casino for the first and to this date, last time. We partied in a 90’s dive bar, wrote horrific poetry about pineapples and other things to annoy our poetry tutor and she had the most distinctive Yorkshire/Lancashire accent ever. This was at a time when I was gradually growing more distant from my friends from home as they too stopped inviting me anywhere because I was ‘too busy with my boyfriend’ (I wasn’t- if they had made plans earlier than the problem could have been solved) and I since found out that the fact I pulled out of a house for second year was actually a bigger deal to our friendship than she’d let on.

So that was the second lesson. People change. You find out who your friends are when you go to university. Loyalties change and people change. I mean, who hasn’t had a friend that went to a prestigious uni or lived in halls with people from elsewhere, and then when you see them at Christmas, they have the poshest accent ever and have developed a fondness for brie and current political affairs? Or say words like 'craic,''banter' and 'lashed.' 

Luckily, I got talking to a girl who I had been friends with since music class when we were 11. We’d not really been in touch much and she too was moving back home and changing uni for similar reasons to me. To this day, she is one of my best friends and I will always remember the ‘map’ she drew on the last day of school when people wrote good luck messages in each other’s notebooks. She wrote ‘here is a map to my house. Now you have no excuse not to see me.’ She lives round the corner. We even contemplated opening our windows and screaming to see if the other could hear. She’s been there for every drama and road trip and her 21st weekend in Edinburgh was probably one of the funniest of my life. Another friend came to Edinburgh, and this one was from Teesside.
Regressing to the 11 year olds we knew each other as!

I went to Teesside expecting pretty much the same 18-21 year old crowd as Northumbria. Instead, for some reason English Literature at Teesside University is filled with the most diverse selection of people I have ever encountered. I spent my first few months learning that the Angry Mothers knew everything about anything because they have children and it’s so difficult, therefore are just better. Who the potential sociopaths where and wondering what on earth was in one guy’s bag that looked suspiciously like a body bag. I learnt that putting angry mothers, ex drug addicts and all manner of other people into a seminar group resulted in something more like group therapy than literary discussion. (To be fair, De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater was one of the saner seminar discussions when you compare it to the one about penis puppetry!)

I soon made friends though. It was quite easy because a couple of girls seemed obviously my age and easy to talk to. I knew I was on to a winner when I was asked ‘how are you?’ instead of being told about their suicidal urges or pending divorce. These were easy to talk to girls who seemed to be having the same problem as me; making friends that you actually felt like you could be friends with outside of uni. The group gradually grew as we introduced each other to our old friends or other people on the course that we just hadn’t met yet. We’re still quite a motley crew. In our list, we described it as the uni transfer girl, a functioning alcoholic, the fashion graduate with a passionate hate for the job centre, a hair extension enthusiast and animal lover and a Facebook pervert who regularly laughed so loud that we got kicked out of the silent floor of the library. That’s not even counting the friends we made through old friends and the fun we had dancing in cages dressed as super heroes and singing show tunes through the streets of Newcastle, or just sitting in The Dickens drinking Pimms before Creative Writing.

The super hero night. Before the cage and show tunes. 
Even the odd or disagreeable people I’ve met are part of the experience and we find ourselves laughing about the general deviance of our course and the amazing dynamic it had because of it. The people that seem odd, scary and intimidating are more often than not, engaging, fascinating and genuinely nice people, even if they are annoying or strange at times. Tolerance is probably one of the most important lessons you can ever learn from uni.

Even though we’re busy and stressed about unemployment, the people I’ve met or re-formed friendships with, I’m incredibly lucky to have and wouldn’t if I hadn’t been to uni. And despite our differences, it’s easy to make common ground through shared experience, or just giving someone a chance. I may not have an abundance of ‘mad’ night out pictures, but that’s because I learnt early on that that’s not me. I like a good drink occasionally, and a good party, but there’s no need to be an arse about it. Everything in moderation and studies come first, I mean, that’s what you pay to be there for!

The friends you make should be the kind of people you can get in touch with at unreasonable times to talk about anything, cry and swear and rage at over assignments with, make study groups with but still be able to crack each other up in an Edinburgh Travel Lodge making shadow puppets with LED lights. People you can celebrate your differences with over a weird flavoured tea, not shun them and be suspicious of them.  Unlike a lot of students, I have memories a lot more substantial than hazy nights and shoes covered in sick, and I’m certain I’ll be making a lot more with these amazing people for years to come. This entry was to allow me to do something scary: to remember the good times I had at uni and move on. Moving on to the rest of my life is terrifying, but my friends will help me through it. 

Edinburgh 2011. The LED lights came from these balloons. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012


I must apologise to Clare again, I still haven’t wrote the blog entry I said I would.

For those of you wondering, it was meant to be a funny look at the pros and cons of going to uni, or at least the pros and cons of our experience. We wanted to write it to remind those like us that even though they might be struggling with work and money, the whole thing had been worthwhile and an unforgettable experience.

But today, I’d like to talk about self-promotion. I’m not very good at it; I normally worry what people will think. It may be quite a British thing, but we’re generally too polite, too apologetic and too self-deprecating. Probably because growing up, no one wanted to be the ‘swot,’ the ‘show off’ or a ‘bad winner.’ No one wants to feel like they’re ‘up themselves’ or waving their achievements in the face of others. However, with the rise of Facebook and Twitter, people constantly wave their achievements and adventures in the face of others. So why can’t I?

Well, mainly because Facebook in particular, makes you feel as if you’re not good enough if you pay too much attention to the ‘look at my amazing life statuses.’ And because of all of those scary people you know who will judge if you do the same. As I’ve said previously, everyone has people on Facebook that they would rather not.

I wanted to get this blog out there. My page views have been dwindling a little bit, and I’m actually really enjoying writing it and thinking of new things to write every couple of days. From the bits and pieces of feedback I’ve received, the reception has mainly been a positive one and I have a couple of regular readers who enjoy what I do. So, if I want to further my writing, and even become a better writer, I need feedback, and to get feedback, I need to reach a wider audience.

No one wants to read something that the writer doesn’t believe in. I believe in this, and even if there are some who don’t enjoy it, they just won’t read it! So I decided to promote myself on Twitter. I’ve set up a new email account and a Twitter account, gone on a following spree and have been very slowly building a modest following.

It is hard and it is intimidating to commit to a Twitter account that potentially millions of people could see, and in return, those people could read my blog. It’s basically saying, ‘this is my writing, enjoy it.’ And there’s nothing wrong with that. No shame at all in that and we should be quicker to revel in each other’s achievements rather than dismiss them or be bitter about them. I’m following a lot of positive thinking and positive quotes Twitters and although this isn’t always positive, it’s about celebrating the little things and knowing that sometimes before things get better, we have to work and endure. It’s about celebrating that journey of taking the good with the bad and never expecting all of either all of the time. In short, it’s about being honest.

So I’ll be honest. I would love more people to share this journey, more people to relate it to their own and enjoy or understand what I have to say. So whether you love it or hate it, I’m here to stay and would love for you lovely lot to stick around too!

So a bit more self- promotion, follow me on Twitter and tell me what you think. Do you find sharing your work or achievements hard or scary, or do you like to blow your trumpet with pride? Share your thoughts on this, or any of my other posts. All followers welcome. Apart from trolls. No one likes a troll.

The uni post will come later in the week when I’ve gathered mine and Clare’s pros and cons lists and stopped laughing at the con that involves sociopaths and those who admire what comes out of their own nose. Intrigued? Then check back over the next few days, or wait for the link in a tweet.