Am I an adult yet?

Periodically I write one of these posts. It is generally around January, Easter or summer when I have found myself in a work/ exam/ exhaustion hole with all my time either spent in the library or watching rubbish reality TV (Love Island is back on and oh lord help me).

I feel bad that I drop the ball at these times with most things, including my blog. I am sorry. Not only for anyone out there who follows it but a little bit for myself. For someone with an overactive internal monologue and too many thoughts, having a blog is actually really therapeutic. This aside, I can say that I can no longer use exams as a reason for not posting (hopefully) as this week I finished uni!

This is super premature as I do have a final summer project. However, after four years of nine o’clock starts and back to back exams I can say that I am pretty much done. I just didn’t think it would feel like this. On my last day of lectures I headed to the pub (because any excuse) and celebrated with a glass of wine but I can’t say that I feel massively different.wines

I wrote a piece similar to this, this time last year if you want to have a nosy. I don’t know if I am the only one who expected to have some sort of epiphany moment where all of a sudden I knew what I was doing and where I was going with my life but it never came.

My mum always says to me that she feels exactly the same now as she did when she was my age and I used to laugh along and never really believe her. Isn’t it the case that you wake up one morning and realise “oh I am an adult now, I should probably stop making poor life choices”?

Leaving uni is a milestone but the only thing I have noticed is that I am generally now amongst the oldest people at the students union and getting chatted up by boys on nights out is a dangerous game when they have the potential to be nearly 5 years younger than you.mclovin

Is growing up a state of mind? Do you have to force yourself to get there or will it just never happen? If you have read any other posts you’d know that I can be slightly neurotic about planning ahead. For the last 4 years I have had the fuzzy comfort blanket of university and a student loan. Come September it’s the real world. When did the time for work experience end and the real working world begin (who am I kidding I will be doing unpaid internships for the next 10 years)?

So, while I am not completely sure I am ready for the adult world, after 17 years in education I am done.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety and Depression

It’s Mental Health Week (or by the time that I actually get my act together and post this it may be over). Raising awareness for issues surrounding mental health is really important to me. I think one of the best ways to get rid of the ridiculous stigma is by talking about it. Some of the best therapy I have ever had is a cup of tea and someone telling me “me too.”

This week I actually had my first experience of therapy. I walked into a very warm office and was asked ‘so are you okay?’ What do you think? I am in therapy for the first time…No I just came for a chat with a stranger.

Despite it not being a wholly positive experience I did learn one thing. You know what is normal for you and just because you are not on the edge doesn’t mean that you are not going through something.

Rather than living with depression full time I go through depressive and anxious episodes. Instead of spending a week curled up, rocking in a ball I generally just feel nothing; I am not overly sad, or panicked, it is like being hollow. When you’re anxious, you can’t control your thoughts because their racing, when I’m having a depressive episode there is nothing at all.

I can’t get out of bed in the morning. Not in a ‘5 more minutes’ kind of way, in a ‘what is the point of today’ sort of way. I intentionally exclude myself or leave class or social events in the fear that I will get so irritated I will snap at someone. I physically can’t bring myself to do work. My bedroom becomes my sanctuary and completely suffocating.

I came off hormonal contraception about 5 months ago (something I wrote about). I figured if I’m crazy enough as it is I don’t need the added help of more hormones. Many women take the pill and experience none of the side effects but depression is listed as a potential by product.

I think I was disappointed in myself when I realised I can’t just pick myself up when I feel low because there is nothing triggering my mood. Like I said, sometimes the best comforts are the ‘me too’ moments. If you can’t talk to a therapist start to talk to someone close to you.

I love Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes podcast ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. They cover a range of topics and both speak honestly about their experiences with depression and anxiety. They’re also really funny! When I am feeling low and not in a place where I want to talk about it listening to their experiences is really comforting. There is something to be said for hearing someone vocalise exactly how you feel at a time when you cannot.

Other things I have found that help and blogs such as teacupsandtrainers.com, quietclub.org, https://www.youtube.com/user/meowitslucy and https://www.youtube.com/doddlevloggle

People aren’t the same and we all have different coping mechanisms but if no one is talking about mental health, no one wins.

It may be time to hang up my heels (at least while I’m at home)

In the last couple of weeks I have faced a dilemma. I am 22, I am a student and I very much enjoy a large glass of wine. However, for more weeks than I care to admit, I have spent my Friday and Saturday nights in bed by 10:30 with a cup of tea and either Suits or surrounded by uni work.

The worst part is, I’m not even mad about it. I like that I wake up on Sunday with a spring in my step as I go and grab a coffee. It tastes so much sweeter hangover-free.

I am a 22 year old grandma. When I came home for Easter break my parents asked if I would be going out and confidently I answered no.

It wasn’t exactly something I had to think about- the town I live in is small. There are three ‘clubs’ that I have ventured to in my time and they’re generally populated with over-excited 18 year olds and leery married men. Not to mention, now my brother is of legal drinking age the thought of seeing his school friends out makes me want to vomit in my mouth.

So, how I found myself in the centre of town at 1am on Easter Sunday was a bit of a loss to me. It started at the pub the night before. I have persuasive friends and (more importantly) wine in hand, I agreed to go to pre-drinks with people that I hadn’t seen in a long time so it would actually be nice to catch up.

And I was right, seeing people I went to school with was really nice. On the other hand, revisiting the first (sticky, sweaty) club I ever went to was not so pleasant. Upon arrival a boy kindly showered me with a jaeger bomb (it was my own fault for wearing a white top) so I headed straight for the toilets.

After washing the residue off my face I asked the girl next to me if I could borrow her brush. She said yes and proceeded to tell me all about her love for Avril Lavigne (complicated was playing) and how someone had been stabbed in these toilets just weeks before (comforting). But in true girl fashion, we basically became best friends even just for the ten minutes we were in the loos.

This is what I love about nights out. No matter where you are, there will always be a chick in the toilet who will save your hair from looking like a sticky mess and have a right good chat with you in the process.

She then asked me which college I went to…

Establishing that she was celebrating her 18th birthday and I was too old to be there we parted ways. Not before doing a birthday shot at the bar of course.

And I couldn’t help but notice that her friends were my friends 4 years ago, just with higher heels and better eye liner. They were so excited to be there and I was getting sad that I had slightly outgrown what used to be my favourite night out. Realistically, it was the only night out I had ever been on.

I am by no means hanging up the heels (like I ever wear heels) but I think I have moved on and am okay sticking with bars where you can say more than three words to each other without being drowned out.

Time to explore the ‘Strange and Familiar’

There are a few things in life which I wish I liked and understood. The first is green tea (it tastes like ash to me). The second is running and the last is art. While I have made my peace with the fact that I will never like the taste of green tea and running is nice if you aren’t as blessed in the chest department as I am, I refuse to give up on art.

I want to like it, I want it to make me feel something. Recently I found a half way point, something that allowed me to go to galleries and actually enjoy it- photography. On the hunt for something to do over Easter weekend (and avoiding doing all work) I ended up coming across the Strange and Familiar exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery.

The British photographer Martin Parr has curated the exhibition, bringing together over 250 moving portraits and images that explore what modern British culture is from international perspectives.

Artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson , Evelyn Hoffer and Rineke Dijksra are featured with pictures dating back as far as the 1930’s being exhibited.

As someone who is generally interested in people (a nice way of saying I’m nosy) this exhibition was so interesting. Rather than just showing the elite or the body beautiful the photographs portrayed people from all over the UK, in normal walks of life and exposed the stories of those that may not have been heard otherwise. It was powerful.

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Post- Brexit Britain feels like a nation divided, it is difficult to say whether there is a national identity anymore. However, Parr highlights (through the work of the photographers) that there has always been unrest in Britain- from the world wars to the conflict in Northern Ireland. As a journalist I think words are really important (obviously) but there was something very poignant about seeing the graphic interpretations of these photographers.

The exhibition ends with a series of specially commissioned photographs from Romanian photographer Alex Beldea capturing contemporary Manchester as it is perceived by those who live there.

The exhibition will run until the end of May 2017 at Manchester Art Gallery and if you can get yourself there I completely recommend it.

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Escape to London

University is very much its own bubble. I think you get to the point where you have been there so long (four years) and you forget why you are there and that, hopefully at the end of it all, you might actually get a job. This can sometimes be a good thing- you rarely get ‘the guilt’ when you go out mid-week but I also find that it can be really draining.

I hate to say it but I think I’m sick of being a student. I know, I will read this back in a year or two when I am (hopefully) working and resent it but the rubbish meals, pitiful bank balance and student halls can all be gone.

It doesn’t help that last week I went down to London to go on placement. Coming home after staying with a friend all week made Warrington seem small and so quiet. As this was my first placement at a magazine I was slightly apprehensive (slightly being the biggest understatement in the world, I was bricking it.)IMG_5438

The truth is, I have never actually been to London by myself. I have always had a trusty friend who knows how to get around on the tubes or my parents to plan out my whole trip. So, citymapper in hand, I over packed my extremely large suitcase (because what would I do without clothing options) and set off down south.

After meeting my friend at Euston (and avoiding some very drunk football fans) I then negotiated the tubes with my impractical suitcase. Word to the wise, always make sure you can comfortably lift your baggage if you are going to take it on the tube.  After the second set of stairs I had to carry it up I was resenting cancelling my gym pass and by the fifth set I genuinely thought I was having a panic attack. We got back to her house, it was the best work out I have done in a good year.

Once we had caught up and I had cast the bag out of my sight (it brought back too many painful memories) I remembered why I was actually in London.  I think there is only so much planning you can do for a placement. Obviously, know where you are going and about the brand but beyond that it’s hard.

I woke up the next day ready to face my arch nemesis once again, the tube. It turns out with a normal size handbag it’s just about bearable. So long as you’re willing to stand a little bit too close to a few strangers before your morning coffee (this was a sharp learning curve for me).IMG_5437.JPG

Like anywhere, the first day on placement is always going to be a little bit tougher than the others. For starters you don’t know who anyone is, where the loos are and you’ll probably spend your first lunchbreak on the phone to your mum because you don’t know how long you’ve got and don’t want to walk in ridiculously early or late. It’s just a lot of ‘not knowing things’ but why would you?

There is so much useful advice I got before going on placement; always ask if you can do anything for anyone and network network network. But I think the best thing I was told to do was just be normal. Smiling goes a long way and they probably don’t want a silent, odd student sat at their desk with them as much as you don’t want people to ignore you or be mean.

It sounds silly but it surprised me that Editors are actually people too. They’re not all like Miranda Priestly and they want to see you get something out of your time with them. Do what they ask you to do, quickly and accurately and then ask if there is anything else. When I was feeling awkward and getting lost in my own head (which was more often than I would like to admit) I just set little goals. Try to speak to at least one new person on the desk a day and really ask them what their role is, ask them to show you.

It sounds cheesy but I feel so lucky to have been able to go to a magazine that I love, I had a smile plastered on my face all week. I think in a time when uni is getting a bit too much it is good to be reminded of the end goal.IMG_5464

An open letter of thanks to the Daily Mail

This week I have ranted a lot, far more than usual. We’re not quite on the scale of the week after the American election but we are damn close. Aside from the fact that I am a twenty-two-year-old grandma living in student halls, I have had a deadline and minimal caffeine something else has topped it off.

Article 50 was signed. Now I am not going to dwell on this because even this wasn’t the biggest annoyance of my week. No no.

Dear Daily Mail,

This week you did what I thought would have been the unthinkable. You made me annoyed about something that wasn’t Article 50 being triggered. So well done, go you.

I just wanted to thank you for that, frankly, pathetic headline you produced this week about two of the most important women in politics meeting to discuss the future relationship between England and Scotland. You see, you proved people wrong. They may have previously thought that to be a paid journalist you have to have some sort of grasp on the written English language. But no.

You have proven time and time again that it is perfectly fine to make up words like, I don’t know, legs-it, just to get a ‘laugh’ because we are all laughing.

Obviously, when you objectify two politicians on the front of your newspaper it’s hilarious. Especially when you do it in such a way that you would never do to two men. People just need to lighten up, right?

I don’t think so. But what I will thank you for is, the next time that a woman stands up for herself and points out something unacceptable and they are shot down and told sexism no longer exists, they can use this. I know I will. The next time I sit around a table and am told by white, middle class males that we now live in a wonderful meritocratic society where everyone has an equal look in I’ll bring you up. Because for all the damage that you do printing BS like ‘that’ front page you are blatant proof that we still live in a society with a problem and there is so much progress to be made.

You went viral this week so you probably achieved your aims. Hell, I am writing a blog post about it where as I wouldn’t have usually even seen your front page if I could avoid it. So let’s be honest, you’ve probably achieved your goals, you sold lots of papers and everyone is talking about you.

But I thought I would I, like so many others this week, air my feelings and just say a little thank you.

Journalists are…

This year I have learnt a lot; how to write news effectively, what a good cover letter looks like and (most importantly) if free food is offered at an interview day, take it- take it all and make sure you have enough for dinner.

I love my course, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to go into journalism. I have met the best people and had more opportunities than I could have ever imagined. You speak to cool, sometimes slightly wacky people who have a story to tell and you get to be the first to hear it which is such a privilege.

However, I have also learnt that 9 times out of 10 if you tell people you’re a journalist they will scoff and say something along the lines of “why the hell do you want to do that? I hope you’re one of the good ones.” Now the socially acceptable response to this is laughing and sipping whatever drink you have to hand until the tension has passed.

If you search ‘journalists are’ into Google the first two suggestions that come up are ‘journalists are liars’ and ‘journalists are scum’…
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Don’t get me wrong I know some journalists are bad people. The profession has come under fire as being disingenuous and attractive to those who are morally corrupt. After Trump decided to coin anything he didn’t agree with as fake news, hostility towards journalists is at an all-time high.

People go into journalism for different reasons. Few do it for the money (because they’d be barking up the wrong tree) and some for fame. It attracts good people and bad people like any other profession does. But we all know a certain few journalists who use their platform to spread hateful views, tarnishing journalism as a whole.

I am not going to write out a list of why it is important but you only have to look at the work of the likes of Stacey Dooley, Nick Cohen, Laura Bates, Hadley Freeman, Giles Coren, Maureen Dowd and (my most beloved) Louis Theroux, to see that journalism, in all the forms that it takes, is so integral to giving a voice to those who might not have a platform and exposing issues across the globe.raw (1).gif

After the events this week in London, I have had a few conversations with people about the standards of ethics demonstrated by journalists reporting on the attack. Innumerable articles have flashed up on my twitter feed, people retweeting racist, Islamophobic articles placing the blame on all Muslims as a way to show how the media warps an event into fake, twisted news.

But for every hateful, fake, racist article there was so many more that explained what actually happened without pushing an agenda. Just as in any profession, the behaviour of a few would not tarnish the majority, journalism should be treated the same way.

I can say that I am blessed to call a proportion of the next generation of journalists my friends and they’re not bad, morally redundant people. They’re passionate about good writing, imparting a story and spreading news, great style and good food and culture. There are good and bad people in all walks of life and wanting to be journalist isn’t synonymous with being sly or a liar.15590574_1171929476195889_939706459142840612_n.jpg