All the Extras
This page is where I'll discuss a mix of other topics which either are important or I just want to discuss and let you know about.
I'm back! I had a great holiday and that (guaranteed to be long) post will be coming within the week, along with my book round-up whilst away. But, while I've missed blogging, I learnt a few things about myself, along with the struggles I had in life before the holiday.
Therefore, I've made the decision to cut down from three to two posts a week, given how hectic life is at the moment and, well, I'm kinda struggling to meet that goal. So now I'll be cutting out Thursdays and just posting on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
So let's get re-started with this thing! :D
At the start of the month, I wrote this post celebrating a year since I graduated university, and what my journey looked like from then to right now. I can't remember if I talked about it or not, but more or less from the moment I began job searching, there was this lingering aspect of doing well and doing it in the least amount of time possible.
This looked a lot like the following statement:
I should know what I'm doing.
But I didn't. And I still don't.
And that's ok.
Of course, people keep asking me what I'm doing now. Though I'm getting tired of having similar conversations every month or so with various people. My anxiety tells me they'll be judging me, because it's been a year since I graduated, because it's been about eight or nine months since I started job searching.
But in that time, my brain has been getting more unwell, so I still need help to figure stuff out. At the moment, I'm properly trying to work out things I could potentially do, but it's early stages.
You see, expectations always carry a lot of weight. I've carried my own for a very long time and it usually leads me to be a perfectionist. Adding other peoples' expectations to that and it's no wonder I move at a snail's pace sometimes. Being a perfectionist means I can be a control freak in certain areas. The 'should's in my life lead me to think I'm not living up to my potential and when I have no idea where to go or what to do next...it's very debilitating. It does my mental health no good.
A very close friend recently told me how I don't need to worry about not knowing what to do right now and that I have time to figure it out. She's right, but- the feeling is still there. Feelings of not being good enough, of being a failure.
It's all rubbish, but unfortunately there is no off switch to my brain or what it feels. There are lots of things I think I 'should' be doing, and one of those I'm trying to improve on is self care. Self care isn't selfish or stupid. It's necessary for me. If that means putting off figuring out what job I want, or if I want to start my own business, or whatever else, then so be it.
If nothing else, I 'should' be looking after myself first.
Over the last few days, I've felt like there's going to be a breakthrough soon somewhere. It'll take it when it gets here.
This is a life update, since yesterday marked one whole year since I graduated university and left education forever!*
I actually did it!
This will be a rather long post. I have a whole year to cover after all, and hopefully some words of wisdom to give too. :)
*Well, I'm debating going back to a different uni to do a different post-grad course in creative writing, but I don't know if that will actually happen yet.
See, I've made no secret on my blog before about how hard my third and final year was in terms of my mental health. I nearly quit SO many times, but for every time I wanted to walk, I had double the amount of people telling me to stay. Especially given how short a time I had left to go.
They were right.
I also failed my dissertation, the biggest piece of work you can do on a degree. I can write those first five words without any of the feelings I'd carried around with it when I first found out. Disbelief. Shock. Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment for what I thought. Anxiety for what other people would think.
I was convinced I'd have to re-do it over the summer and re-submit in hopes of graduating in the November. I was wrong.
On our course, we had a certain amount of lee-way, where we started the course with a set number of credits. If we failed a module that didn't have an exam in, we could use some of those credits to make up the difference and allow us to progress to the next year, if need be. Until third year, I'd only ever used them for one module in my first year and had passed everything else.
When I found out my dissertation result, I was utterly convinced I couldn't use credits for it and was resigned to the fact that I'd wasted three years of my life, because, if I couldn't pass the dissertation the first time around, I didn't have much hope in a second attempt.
Our results were sent in the post and my mum wanted me to wait to open them with her and my dad present, but I refused. Why prolong the agony?
It turned out that, yet again, I was wrong. Thankfully. Credits could be used on dissertations and I'd managed to save enough through the course to make up for it. Though I received the lowest final grade/classification possible for an undergraduate degree, I was going to graduate in the summer, along with the vast majority of my class.
It took a few minutes to sink in, as I kept staring at the piece of paper.
Cue the ugly crying. Lots of it.
Honestly, there was some part of me that didn't quite believe it. Not until I arrived at uni on the 6th July 2017, our graduation day, and picked up my set of robes along with the official certificate I got, saying I had a degree.
Because that's the truth- I have a degree. No matter what the final classification is. I put three years of hard work into that thing. I both developed mental illnesses all over again, or experienced them to a greater level, with an unfortunately limited support from my uni. In third year especially, it at times felt like I was literally going insane.
And let me tell you something- university is not for everyone. I didn't always get the best grades for my assignments- in fact, I was often in the lower percentages, even when passing them. I still put everything I could into the work. In my personal opinion, university is often too academic, with too much emphasis on grades and how 'well' someone is doing in that way. Whenever we had practical sessions (not enough of them), I found myself doing better. While I like classroom learning to an extent, not everyone can sit in classrooms and learn for two hours solid, all day, almost every day.
Actual proof I graduated a whole year ago!! Getting a tad emotional thinking about it.
With it being both a college and university, and doing both, I spent a total of five years at that place. Which is the reason I'm giving as to why I cried a bit when we drove out f the car park for the final time. I do still miss the campus, especially now in the summertime. But I don't miss being a student there. Sure, I learnt lots of things, both academically and personally, but I wouldn't want to go through it all again.
Even despite my experience of undergraduate level, especially my third year, I'm looking at going back into education for creative writing. I know someone who's just about to finish his post grad course in this field and he's said it's a lot less academic. That's reassuring.
But I still don't know yet. My anxiety has a lot to do with it, but I'm going to do more research and whatnot before I make a decision. It's too late to apply for this next academic year anyway and I'm ok with that for now.
See, I've done a lot between 6th July 2017 and 6th July 2018.
Some of it has been very hard, other things so enjoyable.
The first big thing I did after graduating was to go on holiday. I definitely deserved and needed that break. It was lovely to go away knowing I could fully relax and not have to panic about re-doing my dissertation!
Secondly, I got so much reading done that summer, you have no idea! I wrote a post on it sometime last autumn, but, given how little time I had had due to uni, my reading was almost non-existent and when I did have time, I was too tired/stressed/depressed/insert other emotion here to actually read.
Over the summer, my Goodreads reading progress shot up so quickly, I actually cried when I finished my reading challenge on there at all, let alone a few months early. It was crazy! Reading is and always has been my top relaxer. Not being able to do it hardly ever for those first few months of the year just made my mental health worse. If I wasn't writing assignments, I was thinking about them/my dissertation or feeling guilty for not writing them. I didn't give myself as many breaks as I should have done, I know that now. Being able to read realigned things within my mind and self.
Might as well be actual footage of me catching up on reading! At least actual footage of my TBR pile currently. :D
After several months of giving my brain a much needed break, I began to think about what I'd do next. Either my classmates had found jobs when they'd returned home or had started their own businesses. I had no idea. I wasn't in the position to think about it too much and it felt like I should just know what I was supposed to do next.
Massive shout out to the Warren Centre here. :) Thanks to a friend who took me along that first day. So they began helping me job search. In between this, I also joined a creative writing/spoken word group and I found out that actually I can write poetry, despite not liking it in the past. I've actually done so much writing in this year too. It's been great!
But in the end, the whole idea of 'I should know what I'm doing' basically set me back a bit. Fun times.
Every drop of sarcasm intended.
So now, I'm claiming support for my mental health. This means I have some money coming in every month and I don't have to panic about my dwindling finances and I don't have to panic about not having a job. It gives me time to figure me out and what I might actually want to do with my life.
Things like saving to go travelling. Doing lots of writing in the various areas I do, beginning to get my name out there in little things and working towards maybe even getting a novel published in however long it might take me.
Shock horror- that might even mean that I don't ever even use my degree or work with animals. You know, the degree I lost half my sanity to getting- and then continued to worry about what potential employers would think when they saw my overall classification.
And I'm making peace with all of that now. Maybe, in the long run, that might even be a good thing. We'll see.
But the past eight months would be looking very different for me without the help and total support of people at the Warren. So if any of you read this, then thank you. Like, a lot.
So I think that's about it. I'm off on holiday next week and looking forward to it, of course. But I kinda need the break too, albeit in a different way. I may not be trying to restore my sanity this year, but I'm still trying to rest my brain and figure myself out. Even in my mid twenties, but so what? :)
It feels like forever, really, since I graduated. Sometimes it doesn't feel like I've done a lot since then. But I keep reminding myself that I've come a long way in a year. And wherever I'm going, I'll get there at my own pace. It's great that the people I spent three years with are doing so well and whatever else. But their paths aren't mine.
Of course, I'm proud I graduated. but I'm also proud of me right now. Even if I am still a bit of a mess every so often. But that's ok too.
Hi, I'm an animal lover and have a degree. You can usually find me either reading or writing. Failing that, I might have actually ventured into the outside world...