Wednesday, 25 February 2015

How to be unemployed // Musings

Its nice to think that a university degree, and maybe even a masters too, is good enough to get you into the job role and sector that you've been working towards for the past three or four years. After graduating from my undergrad in 2012 and having just graduated from my masters late last year, I've spent quite a depressing amount of time looking for work, writing job applications,getting rejection letters, attending interviews, getting rejected again and questioning the Universe as to how it could be so cruel. Ok, melodramatic sentences out of the way, this post is all to say that I have learnt a couple of things about how to be jobless and unemployed and, I gotta be honest, it takes more skill than you realise:

Image Source
1. First you start your days with a clear plan. Focused and organised, you estimate to be in a job by the end of the month. I mean, once employers read your CV, they'll practically be begging you to work for them. It's only a matter of time.

2. Then you spend your days wondering whether you should go into journalism, or publishing, or digital marketing or maybe force yourself to gain an interest in sport and become a sports journalist. You gotta be flexible with these things, people keep telling you.

3. Scratch that, maybe you can move to New York and become an Investment Banker on Wall Street. Kinda ignoring the fact that you still use the calculator to do the simplest of equations, just to be sure.

4. Realise that you haven't left the house in three days but all your friends are working because it's only Thursday. So you make plans to go for a walk but, after a quick glance outside, talk yourself out of it because of the rain/wind/snow/general laziness

5. Spend hours on the Prospectus website, searching for different careers and wondering why you never listened in your science classes all those years ago, you could have been a doctor by now!!

6.  Get excited that your local supermarket are doing an offer on your favourite ice creams and chocolate bars. Proceed to buy all the ice cream and chocolate bars and tell yourself it's enough to last a while. Do the same thing next week.

7. On the days you decide to head in to town, bump in to every single person you know and listen to them as they tell you about their new job/promotion/boyfriend/home/iphone that you can't afford

8. Spend your time contemplating the meaning of life and also decide what you'd do as Prime Minister. You know, just incase this miracle happens.

9. Search for, fill in and send off approximately 289,957 job applications. Hear back from 5 companies. Be interviewed by 2. Lose out on the jobs to someone with more experience. 

10. Try to understand how you've found yourself in this strange loop of not being able to get a job because you don't have enough experience but also needing a job in the first place to get that experience. Whaaaaaaaaat??

Someone once told me that activly looking for work is pretty much a full time job in itself. Which is true considering how much goes in to the hunt, applications and interview prep. Arguably though, you still have a lot more time on your hands which means you can do stuff. You know, like develop new skills, pick up interesting hobbies, perfect your obscure talents, or just keep up with the Kardashions. 

Who else has been in this position? What are your tips (useful or otherwise) on how to be jobless?

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Feeling good about your appearance // Musings

I stared at my reflection in the changing room mirror and asked myself a serious question 'will I genuinely wear this??' I came to town not to browse the shops but to attend a meeting, yet somehow I managed to wander into Topshop 'just to have a look around.' This was rookie mistake number one. Rookie mistake number two was actually picking up the coat, ignoring the price tag, heading over to the changing rooms, trying it on and proceeding to spend the next ten minutes thinking of a list of reasons as to why I should get it and a list of reasons as to why I shouldn't.  I don't usually spend that much time deciding on one item of clothing but erm, it was £90 which is a serious investment, so I had to do some serious thinking.
Is it worth it? I mean really. Also, realistically how often am I going to wear it? What can I wear it with? Does it even look that nice??? Damn it Topshop, you know I have a thing for well tailored blazers and coats that make me feel and look as badass as Jessica Pearson and Olivia Pope, you know this!!
Then I thought about the one thing that I knew would stop me from spending £90 on a coat - my mum. Thoughts of my mums incredulous cries of 'are you crazy??!' upon me trying to sneak it home, her finding it anyway, and proceeding to ask me how much it was (yep, this still happens people!) No, no, no, no, I took the coat off, rushed out of the changing rooms and made my way on to the bus. 

Normally I wouldn't even consider trying on something out of my budget but I was instantly drawn to it as I walked in to the store. And when I tried it on, oh my goodness guys, it looked good. Better than good, it looked great. Super chic but also really casual too like 'oh I just threw this on' kinda thing, you know?? I know you know what I'm talking about - when you wear an outfit and your make-up is perfectly done, you catch your reflection and think 'daaaaaaamn, I look good to-day!' Or maybe it's more of a quiet 'oh I look nice, I'll wear this more often' remark to yourself but either way, you look good and you know it which means that your confidence levels are considerably higher for the rest of the day. Those days are awesome and I think it's perfectly ok to acknowledge when you're looking good, just as long as your 'I look good' doesn't turn into a 'I look good so everyone should worship the ground I walk on' because then you've gone way too far.  But it's ok to know that you look good today, and if someone compliments you on it, then it's perfectly ok to accept it without replying with an 'oh I don't think so but thanks.'  Feeling good about your appearance is a really small thing that can have quite an affect on your mood. Buying a new outfit, doing your nails or having a pamper evening can be the perfect pick me up for a day that feels a bit bleaurgghh.  Of course, it goes without saying, that feeling great on the inside and nurturing your personality is a more important place to put your time, focus and energy on.  But taking care of yourself also includes taking care of the exterior too. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good or wanting to invest in that. It doesn't have to be about wearing uncomfortable clothes for the sake of 'fashion babay' or spending all your money on the latest make-up products.  It's simply about wearing clothes that showcase and express your personality, learning to own your appearance and body and being comfortable enough to let yourself know when you are looking mighty fine. Plus, it doesn't happen every day, so you may aswell cherish the feel good vibes while they're around!

Did I just write an entire blog post based around a coat that I didn't buy? Yes. Yes I did.

What makes you feel good about your appearance / looks / body?

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Monday, 16 February 2015

She who is brave is free // Musings

'May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears'
- Nelson Mandela

Image Source: Ella Grace Denton

A couple of weeks ago Ella from We Need To Live More shared her illustration on instagram and it's been playing on my mind ever since.  She who is brave is free... To be brave and to be free are two concepts that encompass a wide range of elements but one underlying thing remains clear - being brave and letting go of fear truly uncaps our potential to be and do what is necessary and vital for our personal growth. She who is brave is free to cast her fears aside long enough to know what it's like to make decisions not out of fear, but out of hope, love and sheer determination and she who is brave knows that any whispers of doubt must quickly be turned into words of encouragement.

Bravery can be majestic and it can be small. It can be packing up your bags and moving to the other side of the world with no concrete plans or it can be introducing yourself to a stranger at an event. It can be personal like being open and honest with someone in your life and it can be public like starting a blog and sharing your love for photography.  From personal experience I know that fear can be sneaky, causing you to avoid a certain situation or person without even realising why. So to be brave can be as simple as being able to tune in to your emotions - being honest, open and compassionate with yourself in order to evaluate what's going on.  I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Being brave is whatever you need it to be.  See fear and bravery as being on opposite sides of a spectrum and take small steps everyday to move away from fear in order to embrace bravery.

What does bravery and freedom mean to you?

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Friday, 13 February 2015

Janelle Monae // Current Girl Crush

'One of my core values is to help redefine what it means to be a strong and beautiful woman in the music and fashion worlds and to empower the wonderful things that make us unique.'
- Janelle Monae

Ok guys, I'm gonna need a couple minutes of your time to talk about Janelle Monae. She's the perfect mix of class and elegance and her music grabs you with incredible vocals and infusions of jazz and pop. She has such a signature style which is pretty flawless, unique and makes me want to spend all my money on the perfect tux.  Ok, that is all. 
Images sourced from Tumblr
Check out some of her music:

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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Making the most of Now // Musings

'Whatever you want to do, just do it now. Just do it. Make it happen. You have to. You just have to.'
- My x-ray buddy

A couple of years ago I had to have an x-ray and I remember sitting in the waiting room, completely alone, wishing to be anywhere but there. I don't know about you but I hate hospitals, for a variety of reasons, so the less time spent between hospital walls, the better.  As I tried to take my mind away from my surroundings, a man was wheeled in and directly placed next to me. He was white, around 50 years of age and looked tired. He was slouched in his wheelchair and looked like he was reluctantly fighting a battle he did not care about winning anymore. I gave him a small smile which he took as an invitation to start a conversation.  He introduced himself and I did the same. Once we moved on from polite formalities, he told me the reason of his hospital admission.

'I was diagnosed with cancer' he said matter of factly.
'I am so sorry to hear that' I replied. No matter how many times you hear a sentence like that, either from someone you know or don't know, it still hits hard every time.
'Eh, it's all the smoking apparently. Shouldn't have ever started... Stupid habit really...' he trailed off and silence fell between us.
'Do you live nearby?' I asked, trying to steer the conversation away from such a heavy topic.
'Yeah, yeah, I'm local. But I grew up in Wales. Have you ever been? Ahh it's a beautiful place' 

There was a sudden jolt of excitement in his voice as he started telling stories from his childhood and teenage years growing up in the Welsh Valleys. How quiet it was compared to the city and how beautiful the landscape was.  He talked about how breathtaking the sunrise was in the mornings, illuminating the world, and how, for miles around, there was 'nothing but greenery'. Stories about his parents and hanging out with friends kept me intrigued and words such as 'beautiful' 'simple' and 'relaxing' were often repeated. Despite there only being two of us in the small waiting room, we had enough time to swap stories and, as I had just graduated at the time, I told him some stories from Liverpool, moving away from home, studying Law, and what I had planned next.  This must have stirred more memories for him as he began to tell me about leaving the Valleys for the City, learning on the job and setting up his own home maintenance company.

'I don't regret anything you know. But if there's one thing I've learnt over the years it's that, whatever you want to do, just do it now. Just do it. Make it happen. You have to. You just have to. You never know. Just make the most of now and just do what you want.' 

Our conversation ended in silence, each of us pondering what he had just said and wondering exactly what 'just do it' and 'make the most of now' really meant.  For him, perhaps, dreams and ambitions that were sidestepped and left behind for other goals and for me, dreams and ambitions that have yet to be achieved. When you have a goal, there are only ever two outcomes - either you achieve it, or you don't and this is entirely up to you. Simple and obvious, right? But maybe that's all you really need to know in order to understand that your future is determined by your actions of today.

Although this encounter happened a couple of years ago now, I still find myself thinking back to his words.  What he said was nothing new - search for any 'inspirational and uplifting' content on the Internet and you can read articles conveying similar themes. But nothing really compared to the simple words of a stranger. (My conversations with strangers tend to range from politely listening to a gardener telling me about his three daughters to an in depth conversation with a man in my local gym about the existence of God and I tend to enjoy this.)

There's a lot to pick up on from what my x-ray buddy said but something I've spent the past couple of days thinking about is making the most of now.  How can we do this exactly? I don't have all the answers, not yet anyway, but there are a few simple things I know that will help:

Be mentally present | Put away distractions, focus on what you're doing, thinking, listening to, eating and fully engage in the present.  I remember catching an interview with girl group The Saturdays and they told the story about how they met Oprah Winfrey at an event.  Despite the fact that they were talking to Oprah Winfrey, you know, one of the most successful and powerful women in the world, she still made them feel like they were the only people in the room, giving them her full attention. I've never met Oprah myself, so I can neither confirm nor deny this claim, but how amazing is that??!

Plan adventure |  I say plan because, for most of us, spontaneous trips are just not that practical when we have commitments like Work, School or Uni. So plan your adventures, anywhere and everywhere, and get out there. No adventure is too small and no plans are too big to see through.

Write down your goals | Mood boards of any images or words to remind you of what you're working for act as both daily reminders and motivation as it can be very easy to forget and put off going for certain things.

Productivity is a great skill | Oh procrastination, how I loathe you, but yet, here you are.  I'm trying a new approach when it comes to banishing procrastination and it is simply thinking - the sooner I do all the necessary things that I don't want to do, the sooner I can get to doing all the things that I do want to do. It seems to be working so far. If you have any tips on staying productive, leave them below!

Becoming self aware | I guess this is similar to the first one, but becoming aware of your self, your emotions, feelings and thought processes is important.  This can simply be asking yourself questions such as 'how am I feeling about this? Why am I doing this? Do I even want to do this?' which can help stop you from just going along with something that you don't actually enjoy, simply because the majority of people are doing it.

How do you make the most of now?

Quite a long, rambly post today but I hope you enjoyed it. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see me cover on the blog then feel free to let me know!

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