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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

How to Triumph like Trump

Today's news of Trump's victory of the US Presidential Election, really brings to light the importance of motivation and how determination really does lead to success. In his own words 'this political stuff is nasty and it's tough', but Trump continues and despite his adversaries, he wins. Whatever you may think of the US result this morning, you cannot argue with Trump's persistence, and it is this, I will argue that is the key, not only to his success, but to everyone's.

Whether you're aiming to be the next President of the United States, or simply get an A in your next essay, resilience is your tool. To not give up, even when everyone is against you; telling you you're not good enough. I will not discuss the political opinions of this mornings result, but I merely wish to say that both Trump's, Clinton's and any other previous potential Presidential candidate's courage and determination should be admired. The amount of work they put in and the challenges they faced are an inspiration for us all. Yes their goal was great, but surely every personal goal you set in life is of equal greatness for yourself?

Sunday, 9 October 2016

A night to remember

I am currently sitting in my pyjamas, curled up in bed writing this post. My head is pounding, my throat hurts, but the blisters on my feet are 100 % my worst regret from last night. For a little while now I have chosen to stop drinking; for many reasons really, from weight to skin to sheer embarrassment at how I tend to behave when I've had one too many! To be honest, if you told me this time last year, that I would be going into clubs completely sober I probably would have laughed in your face. In this post however I want to share the positive experience I have had since I've stopped necking those shots.

Firstly, I guess many people like to have a couple of drinks to loosen up when they feel awkward in a social situation. In particular, I think, clubs can be extremely difficult places to feel comfortable in. If you feel awkward dancing or singing in front of other people, or turn a lobster-shade of red when anyone from the opposite sex starts talking to you, a double vodka and coke can often help. This was me last year. My first year of Uni, going out with people I had never met before, and at the same time desperately wanted to become besties with- having to demonstrate my horrific 90s dance moves in front of them... disaster! Now I'm in second year though- I no longer care. People who want to be friends with me, want to be friends with me- horrendous dancing including. At the end of the day, the point of a night out is to let your hair down and have fun- and the most fun happens when you feel comfortable and relaxed.

Obviously, there are the added health benefits of abstaining from drinking- but I shan't dwell too long on those as I doubt there are many 20 year olds out there who are all that fussed at the moment. The two that I would like to highlight though are weight-gain and problematic skin. For many young adults these are two concerns for which they would do anything to improve. We all know alcohol is incredibly calorific- especially wine!!! Stopping drinking could therefore have almost immediately apparent benefits, making it a worthwhile option to consider.

Lastly, I want to refer back to my title. After all, how many of us have gotten so bevved that we wake up the next morning wondering how on earth we got home? Forgetting the obvious safety issues here, wouldn't it be nice to have a few memories from your nights out with your friends? Or would it be preferable to reach the age of 26, having little recollection of how you spent the last 10 years or so of your life?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having a few drinks and having fun- I just don't see the necessity in becoming a complete mess every time you fancy a boogie. It's all about balance- it's true, sometimes the best nights are the nights you can't remember- it just seems a shame the the next morning the 'best' nights for you effectively didn't even happen.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Five tips for Organisation

I know, its been ages since I last wrote; I always seem to come unstuck with blogs. As soon as I become busy, its the first thing I strike off my to-do list. Which is exactly why today's blog is going to discuss organisation. I have done a similar blog before, at the start of the semester last April, and yes again I am starting over and again turning over a new so-called leaf. Well, what can I say, new beginnings are the best time to start being a new you, and they don't always work first time. You cannot merely decide to be better and become it. It takes time and effort to become who you want to be. Like the title of my blog, each and every one of us is a 'Work in Progress'. The aim after all is improvement; not perfection since at the end of the day, the very concept of perfection is such that it can never actually be reached. This said, I have five steps today that should help you down the path towards a better you. I have always maintained that organisation is the key to success so here are five simple ways that I use to become more organised.
1. Timetable

This is literally THE best way to be an organised chica. Okay, so we're told this tip over and over again, but lets be honest- who actually does it? Yes it takes time to set up, and yes it doesn't always work first time, but honestly if there is one tip that I can most strongly advocate in this post, it is to timetable. I've had a fairly on and off relationship with timetabling, but I have to say my life is definitely the more coherent when we are on! Timetabling not only means you know what you're doing every second of every day (okay perhaps slightly restrictive), but it means that you don't waste any of that time. For me I think the best thing I find about timetabling is that I know I have enough time to get everything done. Rather than having a list of 54 things I have to do and rushing around trying to do them all in time, I have already allocated time spaces that will allow me to do it. This way I can focus on one thing at a time and not worry that I should be researching that paper due tomorrow or tackling the ever-growing pile of laundry in my room, because those tasks have already been assigned time to be taken care of. And yes, for me, perhaps I am a bit extreme, but I will also timetable in rest-periods and time to go out and  have fun. Therefore I am able to fully concentrate when I need to be working but simultaneously look forward to the breaks I know I deserve.

2. Wake up early

Again, another well-known golden tip for self-improvement, and perhaps one that's harder to implement that the first! I'm with you- I hate getting up early; at Uni, my bed has literally become my favourite place. In fact this is the third 7am (or 7.15 at least) I've managed in a row and I have to say, I am incredibly proud of myself. It is 100% worth it. Waking up early means you can get loads of things out of the way before everyone else is even awake. You get to 11am feeling incredibly accomplished and knowing that once the evening comes you will have done your tasks for the day and can relax- rather than slaving away like everyone else until the early hours of the morning because they hit the snooze button one too many times. So roll out from under those covers, grab a coffee and yes get to bed early at night as well (under no circumstances should anyone EVER forfeit sleep, for anything..)

3. Exercise

Okay, so I know, I'm not exactly saying much that is revolutionary but exercise is essential, not only for your physical health, but your mental health too. My sport of choice is running and I know I have already done a post on Why I love running away from all my problems so I won't go into that just now. However, exercise- we all know how important it is so just do it!

4. Vary your tasks

I think this is such an important tip and one that perhaps many people don't think of. Everyone obviously has different styles of working and tackling things, but I have found that the best way to stay motivated is to switch up your tasks. Don't spend seven hours studying French conjugations and then seven more hours studying French complements of prepositions- you'll get bored- trust me! Equally don't chop and change what you are doing every five minutes. Personally I would say one or two hours is the perfect amount of time to spend on an individual task. It doesn't matter if you haven't finished it in that time- you can always come back to it later in the day; but take a break- use your time wisely and take your weekly trip to Lidl then. This way you have adequate breaks, but still don't waste your time.

5. Have a rest

My last and perhaps slightly contradictory point is that this isn't going to work every day. Sometimes you are going to feel overwhelmed and you're going to disrupt the timetable (that I hope you've made!) and just sit and stare into space for half an hour (I'm not the only one who does that right????). That's okay- we can't work full-steam ahead 24/7, we need to have time-out even if that is outside of our scheduled breaks! If you do wind up feeling like this- don't be hard on yourself, have the break you deserve and pick it back up again the following day. It is progress after all, not perfection.

So, there we go, my tips on how to be more organised. I can't say I've achieved them all because I most definitely haven't, but so far they are working for me and I know that as long as I keep persevering I will get there in the end.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Marriage lasts longer than a day

It's been a while since I've written anything now- I always seem to think of ideas of posts I want to write and then frustratingly never have enough time to write them. I've been home from Uni for around a month- so it is officially summer! I have been trying to make the most of the sun (well today at least- which is pretty much the first time I've actually seen it!), but now I need to get back into writing regularly!

It was just as I finished the year at University that I went to my first wedding. My cousin had been with her partner for around eight years before he proposed, and a year and a half later they celebrated their love on their wedding day. It is true that they waited a long time to do so however, and this made me think about the prevalence of marriage in today's society. They chose a civil partnership rather than a religious service and, given that they had been living together for a few years now, I question whether weddings are seen as a necessity by our society today or have they merely become a luxury.

Obviously within this post I mean to discuss secular marriage- religious marriage is an entirely different concept and one which for many theists is a necessary stepping stone within the course of their lives. This said, I question what marriage actually means to those who do not follow a religion.

We all know marriage and weddings as fundamentally religious traditions. However, with the growth of the secular society has come the introduction of a non-religious wedding ceremony, within which the only promises made are those to each other. Do we see it as important then to make promises in front of other people in order that they are validated? Is it not enough to merely promise to one another, in the privacy and calm of your own home?

Evidently in a relationship there needs to be an element of trust, and if you are in such a committed relationship to live with each other already; why is there a need to promise each to one another to be faithful? Surely that is a mutually understood concept at the start of the relationship? Personally I believe marriage nowadays seems to have become a mere tradition; one about which the meaning has been lost. They say girls from a young age dream of their wedding day; the dress, the flowers, the rings, but as many will tell you, marriage lasts longer than a day. Therefore, if marriage is not equal to a wedding day, then maybe you can have a marriage without a wedding? This is what I personally would term living together. Yes, a wedding provides certain legal rights but in terms of the fundamentals of marriage- a wedding day does not equip you with the means to live together for the rest of your lives.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Problematic TV series

Being at uni, I'm supposed to never be at a loss for things to do. I do find however that when I need a short break from studying, I am at a loss of how to occupy myself. Aside from scrolling through the same Facebook updates, or sending an occasional snapchat, it is not like home where I can just saunter downstairs, have a coffee with my mum or watch a quick episode on TV. Everyone at uni is constantly busy, meaning that people are rarely free at the same time as each other.

These are the excuses I give myself anyway for my latest obsession the 'Made in Chelsea' television series (yes I am re-watching it right from the initial episode). An episode here and there provides the perfect distraction in-between reading those critical theory essays and revising the French subjunctive. It was not until I began writing this post however, that I realised just how much of a time-waster reality tv shows are... especially this one! It is taken me just over a week to get through the first two series, and it is slowly dawning on me how much time I'm spending watching people attend dinner parties or charity events, all while having the same repetitive arguments with each other over their love lives.

This all got me thinking, why do we actually find shows such as this entertaining, or even addictive? How many of us tune in every night to watch the latest episode of 'Eastenders' (aka to watch the same people shouting at each other over the same storylines, repeated over and over in a terribly unrealistic interpretation of the average person's daily life)? It seems to me that this unhealthy desire to immerse ourselves in the fictional stories of others only tells us how great our need is to escape from our own lives. It cannot surely be in the sense that we wish our lives were similar to theirs (afterall I doubt anyone really wants an unwanted pregnancy, rushed marriage, a cheating partner followed by an early divorce, not forgetting, of course, a couple of train crashes thrown into the mix) ? The only explanation left then, is that we take pleasure in witnessing the problems of others.

I do not mean this to be as cruel as it sounds, beyond a mere selfish desire to realise that our lives are not as bad as they could be. In viewing other people's problems, we seem to gain some reassurance that our life isn't as dismal as perhaps we think it is, despite the fact that that desperation is pretty dismal in itself. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of this. Giving in to this method of escapism can only worsen the problem however. Of course, it is fine to relax and watch the occasional episode, but as for the rest of the time, surely it would be more beneficial to engage in some sort of self-ameliorating activity, exercise for example. In this way, we ensure that our lives are meaningful and therefore remove completely the need to reassure ourselves that our lives are not actually as dire as we fear.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Haven't written in a while- I was half trying to make the most of my time at home, and half just enjoying doing absolutely nothing before I came back to all the exams, essays and stress of the last semester of the year. But I'm back now, and into the swing of things (ish) so I have decided to dedicate this post to beginnings. Not so much new beginnings but re-beginnings, as in the kind of starting again we experience when we go back to something that we have actually been doing for a while.

Three days into Uni and my 'fresh start'/'turning over a new leaf' is going fairly well. We all experience this feeling regularly to change and improve ourselves- whether if be on a weekly, yearly or by-semester basis. Although people tend to be rather mocking of this 'you keep starting again though, doesn't mean you just keep failing', I do not believe there is any limit to the number of times we should attempt to make ourselves a better person. Surely one time it will work, or at least our new leaf will be turned over so many times that it will gradually become the norm? Therefore I do not believe I will ever be deterred from trying to improve myself or indeed end up giving up.

For me personally, my aims are mostly revolved around a better work ethic, also things like being healthier, being a more sympathetic person etc etc. Particular goals however are not overly relevant. Everyone has different things that the want to change about themselves at different points within their lives. The point is to believe that you do have the power to change it- after all, with whom else does it lie? The other key trick is to want it badly enough. Nothing worth having ever comes easily in life- if something could be gained without working towards it, everyone would have it. Motivation, for me at least, is the biggest thing that has been lacking from my life over the past few months, but finally hopefully I have got it back.

Therefore half a week into Uni and I feel like I have control over everything. Okay, so it may be just 3 weeks till my exams, but better late than never right?

Thursday, 24 March 2016

My experience living through a terrorist attack

My original plan for this post was to share with you the memories and moments of my first city break to Brussels. However, in light of the events that took place during my final day there, 22.03.16, it would no longer be enough to discuss merely the beauty of the buildings nor the richness of the food in order to summarise my experience on this trip. I am not going to try to speak very politically about the attacks, for that is an area beyond my realm of understanding, and to suggest there is a way of actually comprehending the mentalities behind these events, to me appears absurd. Thus, before I begin, I would like to emphasise that the only part of these attacks that I can assume complete understanding of would be my own feelings. As someone who was side-lined and barely present during the attacks, I could not insult the severity of what happened by even attempting to have partaken in the true fear that the victims themselves experienced.
The recent terrorist attacks in Brussels were probably the closest I have ever come to any true form of immediate danger, and yet, in actual fact, I was nowhere near. Yes, I was staying in the city of Brussels, close to the airport, and used the targeted metro station the very day before, but I wasn’t there, and to suggest that I deserve any sympathy would be wrong. The frantic and worried messages I received on the day included ‘it must have been so stressful for you’ and ‘I can’t even imagine how you are feeling right now’. Yes, obviously it was not the nicest experience for me to live through, but for the life of me, I could not imagine why people were giving me so much attention when all I saw was the stream of police cars and ambulances rushing around the city, all I felt was the terror for those involved. I did not feel deserving of all this pity that should have been reserved for the people who actually lived through the horror. I was relatively unaffected, moved from the hostel straight into the coach and then straight out of the city- what about the people who could not escape that terror, the people who never will?
To discuss the complexity of all my feelings on yesterday’s events in a simple blog post would be an impossible task. But I guess the above paragraph summarises my initial response, obviously I understand that friends and family are always going to care for you when you are in a dangerous situation, but what I couldn’t understand were the people who ‘milked it’ as it were. Those who I was with, who were on the phones to their parents discussing the fear they felt, how close it was to being them, and so on in such a manner. The closest we came to the events was seeing an ambulance streak past the coach, and to use this situation in such a manner to create sympathy for yourself, not only undermines the true tragedy, but is almost insulting to the people who actually experienced it.
The other major feeling I can discuss is that of the inevitable shock- a shock that has only intensified with an increased distance and time from the actual events. The further we travelled from Brussels, the more and more people we saw, who were not there, and with whom I could no longer relate. Throughout the journey, I was sheltered within the coach, reliving the experience with those who shared the same feelings as me. To suddenly come across people who weren’t there, who undoubtedly read the stories, felt shocked and horrified, but then were able to quickly move on with their lives was almost surreal. This event that would stay with me for the rest of my life was just a news headline for other people, something distant and removed from reality for most people. It is true I have spent the initial half of this post discussing the practical irrelevance of my experience, and yet my physical closeness to the attacks has still taught me a great deal. Whilst, having been a potential victim I do not feel is a viable reason for sympathy when there are actual victims involved, I do believe it a viable means for provoking personal growth. This may sound dramatic, but waking up on Tuesday morning to hear that the metro station I was at the day before had been bombed, the terrorists who killed several people may have walked past me in the street, and the girl I said goodnight to the day before might have died that morning (one of the girls staying in my room was at the airport during the time of the bombing), you come to realise just how close to home these situations really are. In the world of today, the terrorist threat is not one anyone is safe from anymore. Further than that, however, this message extends to diseases, car accidents, shootings- life is not certain, and should never be taken for granted. Nor however, is it something to be treated lightly. I began to think, if I had been a victim, would my life have been worthwhile. Have I achieved enough, have I meant something? I could have been the victim that people, upon reflection, had passed by in the streets, said goodnight to just before, and if I had been, would my 18 years on this planet have been a waste? I do not wish to say that good that has come of these attacks- for the death and injuries of hundreds can never be said to amount to any measure of good. I am merely trying to say that sometimes close-calls such as these are beneficial for personal grounding. They help you to re-evaluate what is important. For me, my experience with these terrorist attacks has resulted in a change of career path. I still wish to follow the line of journalism, but broadcasting is now an area I am keen to look into. It is all very well writing a piece of opinion journalism on whether ‘The Voice’ is a better talent show that ‘The X Factor’, but where is the meaning? Broadcasting is something that is different, it is something that helps. Communication in situations like this is key- to make as many people aware of the situation as quickly as possible prevents similar attacks occurring. Which is why this is something I would like to dedicate my life to. I will still be writing and doing the thing that I love, but the message I will be communicating will be important. Yes sometimes it could be dangerous, but if you can be put in the same danger whilst on holiday can that really be considered a veritable reason not to do it?

I guess overall the point I am trying to get across is that events like these are not something you should read about, be horrified for a day or two, and then forget. Whether you were there or not, to neglect these events would only be to render the deaths of innocent people pointless. It is poor consolation, but maybe in the changing of the course of my life to do better and to be a better person, the deaths of those victims would not entirely be in vain.