Posts Tagged ‘Connexions’

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justify my love.

August 11, 2009

It’s ten minutes to midnight as I write this, and as I am waiting for my dad to finish playing Evony and toddle off to bed, I find myself reflecting on the day. I signed off at the jobcentre, embarked on an unnecessarily slow bus ride to the gym, worked it out hard (Dior 33″ jeans, here we come!), then spent the afternoon at Hannah’s on the internet, watching Doubt and learning useless Friends trivia.  I also had dinner with her sister and mother, who has apparently been feeling that since I left university, I have been “lost” because I haven’t immediately fallen into an appropriate high-flying career.  This dinner ended up representing my opportunity to tell my side of the story to her, and justify my decisions and explain why I’ve chosen to go into careers guidance.

Why did I feel the need to justify myself?  Because a) Hannah’s mum is generally a nice person, and I know she’s always liked me, so I can’t help but feel dismayed that a small voice inside me nags that I have lost her approval somewhat.  Her approval shouldn’t matter to me, and it certainly doesn’t play a role in the choices that I make, but because I like her, I want her to like me and to return to thinking that I have my head screwed on.  And b) inside, there is another small voice that perhaps feels I need to justify to myself why I am where I am.  After all, I dreamed that by 23 I would be well on the way to having a successful career and earning tons of money.

Why hasn’t that happened? Well, there is the recession so the decent jobs are not available at the moment.  I investigated a Bristol translation agency soon after I graduated last summer, and they were pretty blunt in the lack of jobs available.  I didn’t have the funds to move to London, so I ended up staying at the Perfume Shop, ultimately managing them at a reduced wage in return for a boosted CV.  It wasn’t ideal, but it got me through.  Music-wise, I have been working on my Quiet Storm project, which I’m excited to say is 99% complete, and I’m hoping to release it on the internet around my birthday (October 25th, mark it down!) – but I don’t have an easy way into fame so rather than go on reality television (which screams tacky to me, and I’m not ready for my music and image to be so controlled just yet), I’ll hustle in the background crafting songs which I am very proud of.  I am doing little bits of promotion online, and my friends and people seem to like it and are very positive, so that touches me.  I always believed if my music could make a difference even to just a few people, and entertain them, then I must be doing something right.  I have bigger plans, but everything in time.

This year off also gave me time to really think about what I wanted to do.  When I graduated only a year ago, I had no idea.  Reading the novel Push by Sapphire finalised an instinct I’d had, that I wanted to make a difference to young people’s lives, to help them establish their own place in the community and make the most of their lives.  I didn’t want to be a teacher, and I had done Peer Support and counselling at Sixth Form and at university.  My experience as a language assistant in Spain gave me awareness that in most cultures, there are a lot of young people who are getting swept along by the education system without really knowing where they want to go.  I want to be there for them, because I know exactly how they feel.  I want to help people find their own direction, and present all the options available to them, because I think that a lot of people aren’t really aware of all the options at their disposal.  It’s going to be hard, and there will be difficult cases who don’t want to listen.  But again, if I can make a difference to even just a few lives, those people can make their own mark on society, and I will be proud of my work and the fact that I helped somebody.  So I hope that it all goes to plan, because I am finally passionate about my career direction. (And the money’s not bad either, without sacrificing my entire social life and relationships for my work and some extra £)  We all make sacrifices – but I’m 23, and I want to live.  I can work til I drop come 30, 35, 40, once my personal life is more rhythmic and established – but right now, I just want to have fun outside of the 9 to 5.  After all, some levity is vital for a healthy, balanced mind and spirit.

I explained this, more or less, to Hannah’s mother, and she seemed to take it on board.  I hope I changed her mind around, because I want her to understand where I’m coming from and more importantly, where I plan to go.  The reality is that I am less lost now than I was even just a year ago.  I shouldn’t need to justify myself, but I did it all the same, and I like to think it was a compelling explanation, because I believe in it.  I guess that this blog will follow me on my education journey over the coming year, and I hope it all works out well – because I have to do what my heart says.  In this instance, I’m trusting my intuition and my emotions to guide me to what is truly right for me.

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lazy.

August 1, 2009

I’m not somebody who’s not very good at doing nothing.  I find it difficult to simply sit in front of the tv and watch it, preferring to always multitask with a book, ipod and laptop to hand.  I feel guilty if I stay in bed past 9:30 in the morning, because I could have done things with that time, and I genuinely enjoy the mornings (like now it is 11:20, I only got up 20 minutes ago after another fantastic dream involving Jessica Simpson being a house guest who instructed another house guest how to flush a toilet, and involving my hair becoming fluffy of its own accord and changing from blonde to brown at will).  I don’t understand people who have no apparent aspirations or drive, because ever since I was little I wanted to be a pop star, so I’ve always been singing and making music (though this is an ambition I don’t tend to reveal in public, so it’s possible that people think of me as a bit aimless – who knows); I also want to be a Youth Adviser for Connexions, which is the goal of my university course starting in September.  I want to write books (on what, I haven’t quite decided, but this blog is a good start I guess!  I haven’t been so passionate about writing in such a long time, and somehow I keep coming up with things to say so I will try not to repeat myself too much!) or at least newspaper columns, and I also want to do something with perfume or clothes (that’s the fashionista in me – btw. Coco Before Chanel is a fantastic film, and Audrey Tautou and Alessandro Nivola do a wonderful and “elegant” job).  I have a huge creative drive, and so I can never imagine being lazy – even though my album is now ‘late’ (but I swear it’s nearly done!!!), I’ve been making lots of music during my period of unemployment which is about to hit 2 months, but is nearly over because am due to start at the hospital any day now.  Any day now.  Come on hospital, call me for my induction.  The phone is waiting!  And of course, I have started and been keeping up this blog, which is actually a proper thing now and it’s rare that there is a day that I don’t write.

So I don’t understand why, near enough every morning, the thought runs through my head that goes “urgh, another day? I can’t do this today”, even though today I have absolutely no plans and could stay in bed all day if I really wanted (something I would never do).  I guess it’s the fact that I am still waiting for my life to really “start” that makes every day feel a bit like a mundane trudge, even though I do my best to still enjoy myself.  After all, we never know but this could be as good as it gets, right?  I could be determined to make something of my life, but a car could hit me and that could be the end.  So I guess I must try to appreciate every day as much as I can, because you never know if we’ll get another.  I suppose that is why I can’t stay in bed into the afternoon, and why I make myself go to the gym even if I’ve only had 5 hours sleep and I’d rather not exercise when I’m tired only to make myself very tired.  (That, and the thought of impending obesity, of course)  And why I got tired of waiting for a record company to discover me, so I decided to make my own records (as amateurish as they might sound, I think I do a good job with what I have).  Actually, I’m gonna take that last bit out of brackets: I think I do a good job with what I have.  I was talking to my friend Nick yesterday about life, and the fact that we are 24 (well, I am nearly) and not high-flying executives nor family men (ha!) so we are made to feel we need to “hurry up” before we miss our prime, and “do something”.  I mean, what?  My life is certainly not over at 23, and I’m making moves.  It’s not like we sit at home all day playing Xbox.  We work hard and I feel that for someone to try to make me feel as if I’ve been wasting time is a little disrespectful because I have worked damn hard in my life to get where I am, and I am working hard right now to keep making it work and moving forward.  I am the farthest thing from lazy, so please don’t get it confused: if I had my way, I would have been rich and successful 5 years ago without even needing to go to university.  But life doesn’t always go the way you want, so we have to take our lemons and make lemonade; in other words, do the damn best with what we have.  So I find that life is basically living somewhere between the area of what is realistic to us right now, and pushing to make that reality a little bit better so that we can ultimately live our dreams.  It takes time and it takes effort, but that’s ok, because I’m not lazy.  I may not be where I want to be right now, but one day I will be.  And hopefully I’ll be doing at least a couple of the things that I listed at the top, because right now that is what gives me the drive to keep going and move on past the thought of “just another day”.

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why should i be sad?

July 28, 2009

I decided to name this post after my favourite track from Britney Spears’ album Blackout because it kinda sums up how I’ve been feeling.  I think at times we all get the temptation to feel sorry for ourselves, but in a way this self-pity is something we can rationalise and yet something we know we shouldn’t do (or don’t need to feel).  There’s a tension between appreciating the good things in your life, and then seeing how you could still improve your life and all the faults that exist within it.  I will explain with illustrations from my very own personal life. 😉

With the last person I officially dated, L, I knew all along that I wasn’t really into the relationship.  And it was all too clear just how into me he was.  On the surface, he was kind, attentive, considerate and charming, if a little bit childlike (despite being 3 years my senior).  But I knew, deep down, that I didn’t feel for him how he obviously felt for me, and my failing was not putting a stop to it and nipping it in the bud.  Instead, I kept going hoping that my feelings would grow to match his, and perhaps accepting my caution at first as a defence mechanism after previous bad experiences.  But finally, it became clear to me that I had to break up with him, though I ended up doing it by accident… I sent him a text message I meant to send to my friend, saying that I couldn’t take the situation anymore and that I had to break up with L, as it was making me ill.  So L received this and went insane, and we had a breakup-via-text that I never meant to initiate.  I apologised and explained that it was all a mistake, and sending a text message to the wrong person happens all the time.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and all my friends have done it just as I now have.  And yet, be it out of hurt or out of anger, my apology was rejected because L and “his friends” (whom I never met and who never met me) decided that I had decided to send the text on purpose.  I had nothing more to say, because I had attempted to apologise, and I wasn’t going to pursue L when I’d wanted us to be apart anyway.  I will always regret the way that it happened, but I suppose I got what I wanted.  And yet, despite it being an accident, for weeks afterwards I felt like a bad person, like the guilty one because I had caused pain to someone else.  Perhaps because I knew I should have broken things off before that point.  I was angry because my friends, whom L had met, had been nothing but nice to him, whereas I’d never met his friends and yet they were perfectly ready to pass judgment on me and analyse non-existent reasons for my text message, rather than take my apology at face value.  So I was irritated, and I was relieved, but mostly I felt guilty for hurting someone.  And yet, it was an escape from a face-to-face scenario (which I was planning that week, but considering L’s reaction over text messages, perhaps breaking up in person would have meant that he’d caused a scene in the café – lucky escape?) and I never had to see him or hear from him again.  Is that really what I wanted?  I guess so.  So why should I be sad?

For anyone who read my detective blog yesterday, J did come back on msn.  Although he didn’t really change his monosyllabic style of talking, he did seem a little bit more open.  He maintained that his msn was crashing (I don’t believe this for a second) but that he wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed or anything, so fine.  And this is the funny thing: even though he was the one perpetrating a sort of deception, I once again felt guilty (I obviously inherited the Catholic guilt from my mother’s family, despite not being Catholic myself) because I’d unceremoniously uncovered his secret – however shabbily-kept – and confronted him with it.  I felt like I’d embarrassed him, because there is nothing wrong with being direct and asking for sex online if you so wish; there are plenty who are only too happy to oblige.  So I tried to keep things light and smooth things over.  Why did I feel the need to do this? I wasn’t the one who had tried to hide my identity, who had effectively advertised for people to come into my house and rape me, who had pretended that I didn’t want people to see my body.  All I’d done was uncover that J had done these things, and yet in a way I felt like I had robbed him of a tiny piece of dignity.  Perhaps that was a part of his façade, and I guess I felt like I’d ripped it away.  But why so guilty?  If it had been me, the person wouldn’t have given it a second thought… So why should I feel sad?

I decided to return B’s text, and he replied after a while wishing me luck, and saying he had work all week also.  I thought I might as well bite the bullet, since I’ve all but lost interest, and asked him whether he had received my invite to the cinema and how come he was never on msn anymore (we used to have really long, intimate conversations on there at first).  Again, no reply as of yet, and I don’t even expect one.  I don’t think that B is a malicious person, and I like him, but I’m not under any delusions – he’s a little bit crazy.  He doesn’t think anything of only replying to people when he chooses, and one minute he can’t leave me alone, the next he disappears off the face of the earth.  It makes no sense; and yet I anticipated that something like this would happen.  I’m not surprised, because my paranoia once again was proved right.  I’m not going to waste my time pursuing somebody who can’t communicate, and I’m not going to expect a high level of friendship from someone until they show they can be more consistent and reliable.  And yet, I feel guilty once again: what did I do to drive him away? Am I ugly to him? Am I boring? Does he just not want to go on a date?  My heart hurts and the guilt fades all too slowly, despite the fact that I know in my head that I should aim higher and not get strung out on people who already irritate me with their fluctuating attention spans.  So why should I be sad?

I know that in this blog I’ve focused a fair amount of the fact that I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, having graduated from Oxford University with a good degree.  As a child and a teenager, I always seemed to do the right things, and despite never being the richest or the most popular at school, I was someone who seemed to have everything going for me.  And I can’t complain; I’ve lived in Spain, I’ve studied at a prestigious university, I’ve paid off my overdraft and credit cards, I’ve been a retail manager, I have a close family and close friends, I write, sing and produce my own music, I’m starting a new university course in September which will hopefully give me the extra kick I need to get a job at Connexions that I will enjoy.  It’s hard to believe in myself when life takes me on a different course to what I intended, but despite this year being a bit less exciting than what I’d intended, I suppose I shouldn’t waste my time feeling down.  Half of me feels like I’m stuck in a rut, but I know it won’t last for long.  I try to keep in mind all of the achievements I’ve made and the positive things, and compared to others, I guess I’m pretty lucky (though I won’t complain to be luckier!).  So why should I be sad?

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love or money.

July 22, 2009

Generally, the media and society villify those who get married for convenience, or for money.  We brand them “golddiggers”, we make songs mocking them (hello Kanye), and we generally feel that they don’t act in the spirit of marriage, which should be for life and for love.  I don’t disagree, but then on the other hand, we admire high-flying career men and women who really go after what they want (which is money) while sacrificing their personal relationships to do more work at the office.  I think that is an impressive sacrifice to make, but the message seems to be one minute that love is the most important thing there is, and the next minute that you have to think of yourself and put your financial security above all things.  To me, these messages contrast.

I am always someone who will say “you have to do what makes you happy”, and I genuinely believe that.  But after a year of not really going very far after my degree, I find myself at a fork in the road: do I pursue something I am interested in that will cost me more money (a year’s diploma in Careers Guidance, after which I can get a job with Connexions as a Youth Adviser), or do I give up trying to do something I will like and instead do something that will make me lots of money? For sure, I like money.  I like buying designer clothes, I like the idea of having a car, I like jewellery, I like the idea of living somewhere that I can afford by myself. I like the idea of being self sufficient, I like the idea of not having to keep a constant eye on my bank account before making plans to go out.  I think that wealth will suit me just fine, and I think I would be good at being rich.

But at the same time, I’m 23 years old, and I want to do it on my own terms rather than because someone told me what I should do.  I was told I should go to Oxford, that I should not try for my singing career, that I shouldn’t even study the subjects I chose (I dug my heels in).  And sometimes I would do what I wanted, and other times I would choose to trust in others whom I presumed had better judgment and more life experience.  After all, I dont know everything, but I do know that I want the best for myself.  And so far, perhaps I should have trusted my own intuition a little bit more and others’ a little bit less… but then maybe I would be in a worse position than now.  Who knows – “what if” is at once a wonderful and a useless phrase. As it stands, I’m not too badly off, but I feel like I am at a crossroads where I’m being forced to choose between doing something that I might genuinely enjoy and could also help other people (which I think would be a really good thing), and doing something that would be a mundane 9 to 5, but bring in the money and allow me to kickstart my independence one year sooner and keep me in the Armani to which I have become accustomed.  After all, I don’t like the thought of having another loan to put me through this extra year of study, I don’t like the idea of living at home another year and possibly going insane (and my parents are pretty decent and respect my privacy somewhat), and I don’t like the prospect of being dependent on a low income.  But I like the prospect of getting another qualification that will open up a path towards doing something I have discovered I am more and more passionate about (I owe Sapphire and her book “Push” a hell of a lot – you must read it!).

So am I being naive? Am I cutting my nose off to spite my face?  Or am I right on for trying to pursue something I am genuinely passionate about?  After all, once I have landed the job after qualifying, I will be making a decent amount of money even on my starting salary.  Should I sacrifice my finances for one more year and hope that this path works out, or should I sacrifice my happiness to take a job that doesn’t interest me but will pay me right now?  Everyone makes sacrifices, but I don’t know what is best in this case.  I thought that money wasn’t the be all and end all, but in the recession, is it smarter to put money in the bank or to get a qualification so I can do something I am passionate about that can influence the community and give more chances to the youth coming up?  I know which I prefer, but I am trying not to be blind and genuinely wondering which is best?  Love or money?