Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 12

Dear Autumn,

I was writing something to do with childhood books on Tuesday and had a weird flashback to being back at school.

At the start of Year 10 (or it could have been 11, I don’t remember. It was a GCSE year for sure) we had to give a book review of a book that we had chosen to read over the summer. For whatever reason I chose to read Dr Jekyell and Mr Hyde. I hated it. I hated everything about it. I hated the fact that I had to read it over my summer and so school work was a part of those 6 weeks off. I hated the way it was written. I hated how I didn’t really understand what the hell was going on for most of it. I hated the fact that it was considered a classic and therefore everybody was like ‘oh it’s good, you should give it a chance.’ Most of all I hated the fact that I would have to stand in front of an entire class of people and give a 90 second (it could have been longer, the details are fuzzy, it was almost a decade ago) oral review of this.

Which I did not finish reading. I frantically (and stealthily) Googled what happened in the book and figured that I could just blag my way through this task. Forgetting one very important thing (although it did play on the back of my mind). I am a terrible public speaker.

Truly, truly awful.

I freeze. I mumble. I talk too fast. I trip over my words. I forget how to read my notes. I get sweaty, I feel like I’m about to throw up. There is no part of it in which I feel comfortable and am good at. None.

If I were a better public speaker I probably would have been able to bullshit my way through the whole thing and raise no red flags that I hadn’t read it. But I did. And so the teacher called me out on it. And then it just got worse. I nothing to give other than I didn’t like the book. Under the pressure of it all I couldn’t even think why I didn’t like it. I just gave vague answers that were mumbled out and rushed and felt my heartbeat pulsing blood through my ears and my palms getting very sweaty.

The part that seemed to strike me the most with this random flashback was towards the end where all I really had to offer was that I didn’t like the book and my time was up, my teacher asked if I could name a book I actually did like. And I froze again. Every single book that I had ever enjoyed just left my head and I had to think frantically about what the last book I read was. I then lied and said I ‘liked this book that my dad had given me that I think was called Black Tattoo’. I was also halfway through that book. The reason I was halfway was because I didn’t like it. I didn’t really understand what was going on that one either. And I don’t think my dad did pick it up for me.

After that whole experience, where I felt kind of embarrassed and a tad humiliated (mostly at my own incompetence) I kind of never wanted to have to study a book and give a review of it publicly ever again.

Good thing I then went on to do an English Literature degree then isn’t it…?

Where I did have to do it again, but unlike in GCSEs were there was a sense of desperate importance in everything that you do, I was way more relaxed about it. In fact I had to do it several times. But it just felt like less pressure. And also by the time uni came around I was much more comfortable in the whole bullshitting thing. You say anything with enough conviction and provide evidence within the text to back it up then you’re golden. The beauty of literature is that it can be many things to many people. And look, the presentations that I did give were still a tad rushed and I still spoke down to the floor and occasionally mumbled with my sweaty palms and thumping heart. But they were a lot less daunting in that situation.

15/16 year olds judge and don’t let things go. You kind of stop doing that so much at uni and even if they are judging you, there are so many bloody people in your year that it’s easy to forget about them and actually never see them outside of a tutorial group. Don’t get that in GCSE, where people can taunt you about that shit presentation you once gave aged 15 for another solid two years…




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My Life

If I Knew Then

Hi, Hey, Hello!

It’s that time of year again when people are packing their lives up into cars and making the trip back to uni, or in a lot of peoples’ cases going for the first time.

In fact Timehop recently informed me that it has now been over 6 years since I made that trip for the first time (I went up like a week a 6 years ago if you wanna know way too much detail) and 4 years since I did it for the last time. It’s been over 3 years since I did it last for my graduation. And while part of me wouldn’t change anything that happened during the 3 years that I was at uni, because my gosh did they form me into the person that I am today, there are also some things that I wished I had known before I was thrown into the deep end.

1) The friends you make in your first year do not have to remain your friends

It is so easy to think that the friends you make in the first few weeks of uni are the ones that you have to keep for the rest of your time there…or the rest of your life. They aren’t. Those quick friendships are formed primarily because everyone is going through the same thing and are all borderline desperate to just not be alone and if you’re surrounded by people then you can’t be alone right? Come post-Christmas holidays you probably will have just drifted away from most of the people that you fused to in the first few weeks and that’s fine. It’s also mostly fine if you find yourself still drifting apart from them the longer you stay at uni. It can be hard to accept, especially because it seems to get increasingly harder to make friends the further into adulthood you get, but seriously you’re not going to get along with everyone forever. Uni is a time, or at least it was for me, where you really came into your own and figure things out, like what you’re passionate about and what you want to do with yourself. It’s a place where you change more than you thought was possible and not everyone you’ve become friends with is going to fit in with that. And it’s okay if you drift apart.

2) Your home friends might also drift away

That idea of drifting apart from people also applies to the friends that you left behind. Sometimes the only reason that you were friends with some people is because you spent 6 or something hours a day with them 5 days a week and then suddenly you stop spending all this time with them and are all living your own lives and having new experiences without each other. In some cases it makes the friendship stronger because when you see them again you have all these things to talk about and catch up on. And sometimes it means that you stop being friends with them and it’s hard but also that’s life.

3) Learn to budget

I am probably not alone in not knowing how to budget and then suddenly having to get it together and figure out to live your life properly with the money that you are now responsible for. I am still terrible at budgeting, although I like to think that I am getting better at it, but I wished I had learned how to do it earlier. I was a victim of impulse buying so often just because I knew that I had the money and it wouldn’t be too bad. It was terrible. It never spiralled out of control all that bad, but it could have been a lot better. Sit down and really think about your budget. Split it into essentials, any bills that you need to pay, miscellaneous things, have an emergency fund somewhere just in case something breaks and as a back-up should you somehow completely ruin your budgeting plan and find yourself with no money. “Consider these 5 steps” Earnest suggests on how to make a budget. Just be brutally honest with yourself and try to live within your means. It will one, save you so much stress, and two will help you cultivate a life skill that will sever you well later on in life.

4) Manage your time well

I have an English Literature degree, which means that I had at most 12 hours contact time per week. That left me with so much ‘free’ time. I mean I had books to read and essays to write and all that other stuff, but I also had a lot of time to hand. Compound that with the fact that I am a procrastinator? It was bad. Not catastrophic or anything. But bad. It meant that I wrote far too many essays in the early hours of the morning just before the deadline. It meant that I caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress and sort of caused myself into a meltdown at multiple points. And it was all just very unnecessary I have to tell you. Plan your time well. Even if you end up being one of those people who has every single minute of their day planned just to stay on top of things. If it works, then it works and that is all that matters. If it lessens your level of stress then it cannot be a bad thing. But seriously, do it, save yourself the stress.

5) Join things.

I made the mistake of not putting myself out there in my first year and have always regretted it on some level. Uni is pretty much the only time when you have all this time to do whatever the hell you want (within reason) and try so many new things and it’s kind of stupid to not take advantage of that. I planned to do it when I wandered around the Fresher’s Fair after my first week but then I just never got the courage to go out and do it. I joined one society in my second year and then dipped in and out of it for the rest of my uni life, but I wish I had taken greater advantage of the things available to me at the time. Even if it turned out I hated them, I just wish I had given them a shot because it would have been an experience that I cannot see being available to me now that I am out of the uni bubble. So, just give them a shot.

There are plenty of other things I had wished I had known before I went to uni, but those are the ones that stand out to me the most. I mean the most important thing is enjoy it, as much as you can. Enjoy it.

Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!


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My Life

About that Masters

Hi, Hey, Hello!

I don’t necessarily know if I have ever made it clear that for a very long period of time I was convinced that I was done with education. It broke me, I just about scraped a 2.1 in my degree, it left me for some reason feeling more helpless than ever even though it was supposed to open up so many new doors. I spent the year following my graduation feeling super depressed and being super unemployed (and apparently unemployable). I then fell into a job which requires next to no use of my actual degree.

So I was left pretty jaded by the whole education system which I had spent nearly 20 years of my life in.

I entertained the idea of doing a Masters degree very briefly during my final year at uni just because I felt so aimless and I thought that it would be the best way to prolong having to enter the real world and stick to my education bubble. But then I remembered that I actually had no idea what the hell I would want to do a Masters in anyway, it’s why I didn’t do a dissertation. I had no real passion or focus that I could dedicate that many words to. And so I let that Masters dream fade into grey.

Until I reached peak levels of apathy earlier this year and somehow managed to have an epiphany simultaneously. I really do not know how that happened, but there you go.

I found myself realising that what I want to do is a Masters…in, surprise, surprise, Shakespeare. Why it took me almost 3 years (at the time, it’s now over 3 years) to come to realisation is beyond me, but there you go. But I came to it eventually. And so I then started researching into ones that I think could actually work for me and I found myself almost getting something close to excited about the prospect of getting back into the education bubble that left me so broken come mid 2014.

I still don’t know 100% if I actually want to do one right now for sure and I know that the applications are opening in the next few weeks for the ones that I want to do and so I really need to figure it out sharpish whether this is the year or not. I also then need to figure out how I’m going to finance it and fit it in with my life. 

So it’s still all up in the air a little bit. But I also feel like it might just be the right time for me right now. Give me something to work to and for, even though it wouldn’t start for another year from now, but that’s probably a good thing because it means that I’d have more time to figure it out.

This desire and itching to do a Masters is also the reason why I want to get more organised, because I was terrible at time keeping at uni when doing uni work was (luckily) the only thing that I had to do. Getting an education around work? Currently sounds impossible with my non-existent organisation skills. It sounds impossible even if I did have them. But it also sounds exciting.

And that’s what I really need right now.

Parentheses count: 3. See you tomorrow!



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