Posts Tagged ‘recession’

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killing time.

September 16, 2009

So it’s 9:38 according to the clock in the corner of my laptop, and I’m writing this post from work (WordPress is blocked by the NHS so I’m writing it now and will post it up this evening when I get home… by which time the future tense will be present) because I am conscious that as I’m staying with my grandmother so that on her return from Italy, she’s not immediately in an empty house, I wouldn’t be able to blog.  I started work at 8:30, and less than an hour later, I’m already bored and without very much (read: nothing) to do.  I have tweeted from my phone (Twitter is also blocked at work! Damn those pesky IT people) and texted Hannah; I am listening to Brandy (Never Say Never) on my iPod with Mariah Carey (Rainbow) queued up; I am going to gaze at my Gucci bracelet and possibly email a picture of it to my parents in Barcelona, because they taunted me over the phone by telling me how many designer boutiques they had been past.  No need to rub it in!

So writing this blog post in advance is tantamount to me killing time, which seems to be a lot of what I do at work these days!  (As I type, one of my colleagues is demonstrating his juggling skills, so it’s obviously not just me. 😉 ) It’s certainly a step up from my previous job, where there was always a sense of urgency for rarely a legitimate reason, but it dawns on me that often, what we do in life is kill time.  Reading American Psycho on the bus, Patrick Bateman describes how he spent the majority of his summer “in a stupor, sitting either in my office or in new restaurants, in my apartment watching videotapes or in the backs of cabs, in nightclubs that just opened or in movie theatres or in new restaurants.”  Basically, we distract ourselves by doing things which seem “special” to fill up the time, except we spend so much time socialising or going places to socialise or entertaining ourselves, it’s depressing when I start to think how little we actually accomplish that matters.  What am I trying to do with my life?  Well, I work to save up money so that I can buy jewellery – as much as looking good is important to me, and as much as making yourself feel special is something that cannot be underrated, it hardly matters in the scheme of making an impact on the world.  I save up money so that I can have driving lessons to get a car so I can travel.  Okay, that’s important in terms of job skills and life skills.  I am starting university on Monday to gain a qualification in Careers Guidance, so that I can help younger people realise what their options are, both educational and vocational, in order to get to where they want to be.  That does count as making an impact.  In the meanwhile, the only other important thing I do that could potentially touch and enrich people’s lives is my music, writing and producing and singing songs, practising piano and guitar so that I can accompany myself, and lately completing my album booklet and taking pictures of myself and photoshopping moody dark/neon scapes to complement the whole mood of the album.  I guess that I am trying to enrich my life at the same time as trying to touch other people’s lives and make a difference, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But it’s how much time we kill in between doing those things.  I mean, nobody, not even Beyoncé, can work 24/7, and we all need some down time and some “us time” and we all have the right to enjoy our lives and have some fun.  Not everything is so serious, and as I’m growing older I’m learning to realise that more and take things a little easier when it’s okay to do so.  In between laundry and checking on my nan’s house and turning on the fridge and watering the plants yesterday, I watched a few dvds and ate Dominos pizza. But the amount of time we waste is just insane, because we don’t even realise that we’re doing it.  And yet, talking to Ebony on Monday, I was talking about the unspoken pressure put on us by older generations that although I am 23 and she is 24, we should have managed university and got a steady job and be on the way to buy a house and drive and be looking to get married in the near future.  The world is a different place now, and the economy means that jobs and money and affordable decent places to live aren’t as easy to come by as they once were.  I consider myself lucky to have finally escaped retail and got a position in an office where I feel comfortable, am better paid and often do a lot less 😉 I also get to use my brain a lot more, and I feel more valued because of that.  But there is a tension between it being okay to kill time, and then a sense of urgency that before we know it, we will be 30 and single and still living at home and a failure at life.  Please!  I have no intention of letting that happen, and although sometimes life happens beyond your control and deals you a bad hand, I’m determined to make a bid for independence and career success very soon.  I am making moves towards that with my new university course and increase in money, which will hopefully get me a driving licence and a qualification with real job prospects come the end of the next academic year.  But it’s hard to keep a sense of urgency in perspective when it’s also so easy just to kill time and do things which seem unavoidable but are semi-unnecessary.  I don’t know where to find that balance or how to achieve it, but at least I know it needs to be done.

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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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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?