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My Mental Health Story – #WMHD

So today is World Mental Health Day. To be honest I kind of feel like every day should be mental health day. We should be aware and looking after our minds everyday, but unfortunately it’s one of those things we are still so reluctant to address. With that being said I’d like to think we’re getting better.

It’s like whenever have any problems with our mental health we put them in a box, shove them to the back of the shelf, let them gather dust and just hope they go away. They never do. I don’t know about you, but I know I’m certainly guilty of that. I try to ignore the problem until it stops being one. I’m trying to get better at not doing that. Last month I went on a couple of training days through work, and I was lucky enough to become certified in Mental Health First Aid. (Yes believe it or not, it’s a thing!). It’s actually a very good thing. The course taught us how to recognise when someone is experiencing mental health difficulties, or in crisis, and how to respond. It was so insightful, not only did it equip me with the resources to help someone in trouble, it also taught me a lot about my own mental health, and how to help myself.

One thing they echoed throughout the course is that we all have mental health. Just like we have physical health. It’s only when it turns to “mental illness” that we become cagey. There’s a lot of negative connotations associated with the term mental illness isn’t there? It’s like our brains default to all the bad things associated with it. It’s like we are afraid of being labelled. Mental health professionals always use the broken leg analogy to make sense of this. I know we’ve all heard it a million and one times, but it’s so true. If you broke your leg you’d have no hesitation about going to the doctor to get it fixed. So why the reluctance when we’re not feeling the best emotionally? How come we don’t talk about when we’re anxious? or lonely? or depressed? Why is there such a fear?

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I didn’t really suffer with my own mental health until I was about 18/19. I mean I had your typical teenage angst, but outside of that I was pretty happy go lucky.  I’ve spoken about this a hundred times before, so apologies if I sound like a broken record. Those of you who know me/read my blogs are probably familiar with this story already, but for the day that’s in it I’d like to elaborate more. I experienced a bad bout of depression the year before I started college. My drink was spiked badly the night of my 18th Birthday and it had a pretty bad knock on effect. I collapsed the day after as it never worked it’s way out of my system. It essentially caused a really bad chemical imbalance in my brain. Anyway, I was taken to hospital where they found traces of LSD and a concoction of other stuff, in what I can only assume was some hideous date rape drug. I’m still counting my lucky stars I never wandered away from my friends that night. I naively assumed at he time that afterwards, life would go back to normal. Only it was far from normal.

I was so low after what happened me. I was angry, sad, lonely, confused. I had this emptiness in my chest and stomach that I couldn’t account for. Things were so different. It sounds dramatic, but I no longer felt like the person I was prior to what happened. I felt it had changed everything about me, knocked all my confidence and made me a shadow of my former self. It was decided I would take a year out before starting college. Something which was never even close to being on my radar at the time.

I had to go on a steroid based tablet to restore the chemical balance in my brain. These tablets were not fun let me tell you. A long with putting you back together, they also make you pile on weight. And for an 18 year old girl who was used to being a size 8-10 it might as well have been the end of the world. So there I was. At home, about 2 stone heavier, watching all my friends move on and start college and feeling absolutely terrified of life.

I had never experienced such a lowly feeling before. It’s something my present self now comes to recognise as depression. I was depressed. As grim as it sounds, the only time I felt peace was when I was asleep. I’d dread waking up because that feeling would be there, waiting. Those around me kept telling me it would get better, but what did they know? They weren’t feeling like this. How could they possibly know? I honestly thought I was doomed to feel this way forever. Suddenly things that I had no issues with before were becoming an extreme source of anxiety. For instance, I’d fret about meeting up with a friend for days leading up to it. I’d worry about completely irrational things, like not having anything to say, or them thinking I was stupid. I started worrying about those close to me dying. I worried I’d never be able to go to college, that I’d become this lonely recluse.quotw

So, how did I get better? Tbh, looking back I don’t think those tablets I was on helped at all. I think they had a lot of undesirable side effects that actually proved counter productive to what they were trying to do in the first place. Nonetheless, doctors orders. I was on them for 7 months. Things slowly started improving when I came off them. In April of that year, a good friend asked if I wanted to go on an inter-rail around Europe. The ‘old Jess’ would’ve been jumping for joy. This new Jess? Cowering in fear! However, my family really encouraged me to go, so I did. I mean I was terrified, but it ended up being the best thing I ever did. I completely pushed myself out of my newfound comfort zone and it was the perfect medicine. I came back after the 3 weeks and the change in me was remarkable. I finally started to feel a bit like my old self. My spark was returning. I went to college two months later, joined the gym, made new friends and life slowly returned to ‘normal’.

I’m aware it’s not as ‘miraculous’ for everyone. But the point is, it does get better. It always gets better. People were telling me it would, but in my lowest moments I just couldn’t see the light. But it was there, it just took me a little while to get to it. And that’s okay. If you happen to be reading this and you’re feeling a little lost, or hopeless, please know you’re worth a whole lot more than you’re feeling right now. The voice inside your head is wrong, it will get better.

Looking back almost 7 years on, I am grateful for the experience. As horrible and all as it was at the time. It taught me a lot about myself and about life. We all go through dark times. I’m sorry for the incredibly cliché ball of cheese that’s about to come, but I think it really did make me stronger. I became better equipped to handle the different things life has thrown at me since. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means invincible. I just gained invaluable insight and perspective. I get the odd bad day like everyone else. I struggle with anxiety from time to time, but I do my best to keep a handle on it. I talk when I need to talk, I write when I need to write, and I cry when I need to cry. I just wanted to share this little story in the hopes that it might be a source of comfort to some who are going through a rough time.

Then again, I might be completely self serving and the world wide web might not give a shit. Either way, it’s out there. Look after yourselves.

~J

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Long time no see

Hello little old blog of mine. God, it’s been a long time! Not sure if I’ve been too busy to write, or too lazy. It’s probably the latter in all honesty, but I’m going to compromise with a combination of both.

I’ve missed writing my random rants and musings regularly. I’m going to make an effort to revive this more (is it too early for a new year’s resolution!?). The last time I posted it was in the wake of the Manchester terror attack. Sadly, just a few days ago America witnessed a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. 50 dead and 500 or so injured. I wish I could say things have changed on the terror front, but 5 months on the world is still as desolate as ever.

In more positive news, (depending on how you look at it), I’ve gained an extra year of life since I last wrote. So 24, how’s she looking so far? You may recall many of my posts last year were riddled with post college uncertainty. Well you’ll be glad to know, I’m slowly coming to terms with my newfound ‘adulthood’. I actually paid off my student overdraft last week, hoorah! All by myself, no help or handouts. That was a nice feeling 🙂 I wasn’t in huge debt or anything, but it was nice to be in a position to do that and to finally feel somewhat financially independent. Career wise I’m on to job numero 3. I know right, talk about all over the shop. It’s actually been a great learning experience and I can officially report that the 3rd time is a charm 😉 I’m a firm believer in going after what’s right for you and figuring out what makes you happy. So what if that takes you 10 different jobs?

I wrote a post back in March shortly after moving back from London. I spoke of my excitement about job number 2 and how it felt right etc etc. Let’s just say thank god it was only a 3 month contract. It’s funny how your intuition can be so off. I had a pretty lowly 3 months. The job didn’t live up to a single thing it promised whatsoever. So I found myself looking at other options yet again. I booked myself a TEFL course and decided that was my next move, get out, get abroad and teach English. I think I also wrote a post detailing those desires. But of course life got in the way once more, when my lovely other half landed himself his first teaching job in London.

The irony eh? His job ended up being 10-15 minutes from the area in London where I used to live. You couldn’t write it. At this point I felt a bit like life was taunting me. Throwing up bricks in the way of every plan I tried to make, laughing meretriciously along the way. So we were back in a long distance situation once again and I was facing that all too familiar feeling of What the fuck am I gonna do now?  Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long before another opportunity presented itself.  I was actually offered another job before I finished out my other contract.

I’m now working for an High School Exchange Year program with a company called EF. We bring in students from all over the world to spend a year living in Ireland and going to an Irish secondary school. I handle the social media/marketing side of things, as well as finding and screening new host families. It’s genuinely so interested and rewarding.

Finally I can say I’m working for a company I really care about and one that cares about me in return. In August we spent two weeks in Maynooth with 70 of our students who signed up to a welcome camp. The camp was designed to prepare them for their year in Ireland as well as combining lots of fun activities. While there was a bit of cabin fever, it was so much fun and it was something different. I mean how many jobs offer you the chance to spend a Monday afternoon milking cows and jumping into a bog with 70 international teenagers?

 

I get to travel a lot with it too, which is great. Right after Christmas we are taking some students to London for a week, and in April we’re going to Edinburgh. Which will be nice, seeing as I’ve never been! We also recently found out that all offices worldwide get to go to Cancun at the end of January. We’ve already broken out the sombreros..

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Okay I’ll stop gloating now.. all in all despite the set backs things are good right now. I fly over and back to London around once or twice a month, and on the weekends I’m not there Tom flies back. I mean it’s not a dream situation, but we made it work when I was there, so it’s only fair we make it work now that he’s there. We’ll see where the next adventure takes us in six months or so.

🙂

~J

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Why I Believe Choice is Important

So I usually refrain from posting things of a ‘controversial’ or political nature. There’s no concrete reason for this, I guess it just comes down to the fact that most of our social feeds are littered with this kind of stuff already.  Article after article of Trump indulging his inflated ego, horrific images from the devastating war in Syria, sometimes it just becomes too much. So naturally, I try to keep things pretty peachy.  Oftentimes we just want to hide away from ‘the issues’, and that’s okay. For a long time I found myself avoiding the news, because it was always ‘bad news’. It’s always something horrible, another terrorist attack, a murder, a natural disaster. It’s very seldom good news is it?

But we can’t bury our heads in the sand all of the time, and I’m starting to realise that. If you have something to say,  you should say it. If you have a strong feeling towards something, express it. If the trailblazers of the past had stayed silent, we wouldn’t be where we are today in a number of areas!

Lately in Ireland, the major issue up for contention has been Abortion and repealing the current eighth amendment. Amidst all of the activism and campaigning I’ve seen, I’ve largely stayed silent on my views. I did write a post a while back advocating that both sides should respect one another’s views, and I still stand by that. This morning I read an article that has inspired me to share my thoughts in a more comprehensive way. You dear reader, might not care or agree with what I’m about to say, but again, that’s okay.

The article I’m referring to was by student Midwife Lucy Kelly, and you can read it here. In the article, Lucy explains how working in an abortion clinic changed her opinion on the matter. Now I assumed from the first few paragraphs that this was going to be another self righteous piece condemning the ‘selfish women who murder their babies’. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Lucy explains how in fact, the opposite occurred. Working in the clinic made her inherently more sympathetic towards the women who make these heart wrenching decisions. Her words really struck a cord with me and I just felt so compelled to pen a response.

“The thing about pro-choice is that you are stepping back and admitting that actually, you have no say in this situation. This is not your life. This is not your pregnancy.This is not your experience.”

I cannot echo these sentiments enough. I have friends and acquaintances who are pro-life, (some of which may well be reading this) and I respect their views 110%. But what I cannot understand for the life of me, is why anyone would ever want to restrict another person’s choice? I mean I mightn’t necessarily have an abortion myself, but I would like to have the choice. You never know what your circumstances may dictate.

Why are we so reluctant to give the women freedom over their own bodies? Why are we blatantly disregarding their fundamental rights? Why are we allowing women to be labelled as criminals? Where is the empathy?

The truth is no one actually wants to have an abortion. It’s not something any woman takes delight in. I can only imagine it is one of the most painful experiences one would ever have to endure. The argument that if legalised, abortion would be used as a method of contraception is quite frankly, ludicrous. Not to mention downright insulting. No one in their right mind is that irresponsible. Whenever I see that reasoning thrown about I cringe to my very core.  I mean honestly, what self respecting woman is going to wake up one day and say “fuck it, I’ll just get an abortion if I get pregnant”. I would like to think as human beings we are not that hideous.

      “The thing about pro-life is that you are promoting the rights of an unborn fetus you              know nothing about, and diminishing the autonomy of a live, grown human being who          you also know nothing about”. 

The eighth is not protecting anyone in this country. Rather it is fundamentally harming the women in our society. I read a contrasting article by a woman who chose to continue with her pregnancy, despite being told that her child would not survive a minute outside the womb. I commend this woman for her tremendous, brave and incredibly difficult decision. She remarked that she was so ‘happy the Eighth Amendment was in place. It not only protected [my baby’s] life and mine, it ensured we both received the best standard of care throughout my pregnancy and after’.

Here’s my bone of contention. The Eighth did not protect this woman. She made a decision. There was nothing stopping her from making this decision. Ironically, if another woman was in this situation, the Eighth would have hindered her decision to choose a different option. See where I’m going here?

Personally, I could not have continued with this type of pregnancy. I couldn’t carry a child for 9 months knowing that there would be no life at the end of it. I’m sure many other women feel the same, and this is why choice is so so important. To the women that don’t agree? The funny thing is, you have a choice.

The Eighth literally forces women into sub ordinance. It is just unfathomable to me that there are people who would vote against choice, in this, and every other situation where abortion is a viable option. To quote Lucy again:

“The idea that women are incompetent and unable to make sound medical and life decisions is as barbaric as beheading peasants for stealing a bowl of stew. The idea that a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy is a failure, or made a mistake, is completely ignorant. And the idea that you, as an irrelevant third party to this woman’s life, gets to have a say on what is morally or medically right for this woman and her family, is just plain arrogant”.

You might be asking then, when is it a viable option? and this is where so much of the debate lies. People are afraid of the term ‘abortion on demand’, because it invokes a fear that women are going to be aborting babies en masse. It becomes problematic when people start chiming in with their personal opinions of when and why abortion should be allowed. For instance, I was asked  recently do I think people should be allowed to abort children if they have Down Syndrome or other mental/physical retardations? I’m aware that this is something that’s happening in Iceland and other places at the moment.

Honestly? In this instance no, I wouldn’t agree with someone aborting for that reason, nor would I do it myself.

My immediate reaction is “that’s awful”, but does that give me the right to judge another person’s decision to do that? Does it mean we shouldn’t legislate for abortion because some might choose to terminate in this instance? It becomes very messy very quickly when we start conjuring up different scenarios. The fact of the matter is none of us really know what we would do in these situations until we are in them. And if and when we are? I believe we should have the widest availability of choice, even if we mightn’t agree with some of those choices.

So put simply, yes I do think people should be allowed abortion if they feel it is the best option for their circumstances, whatever the reason. It’s not for me to take personal offence to. Bottom line, we need very clear legislation and we slowly making our way towards change.

Last week the Irish Citizen’s Assembly voted on 13 reasons for which they feel a termination should or shouldn’t be lawful.  Here is a quick glimpse at some of the results:

  • 89% voted for women to be legally permitted to abortions if there is likely to be a foetal abnormality likely to result in death, before or after birth.
  • 80% voted that there should be no restriction on termination even if there was no risk of death shortly before or after birth.
  • 64% of the Assembly agreed that termination should be allowed without restriction as to reasons.
  • 72% of the Assembly feel socioeconomic reasons should allow a woman to gain an abortion. But 50% stated a termination in this case needed to take place before 22 weeks.

These results are really interesting to see. I’m glad the Irish people are so open to change. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with regards to a referendum/new laws surrounding abortion, but I can only hope the outcome will be positive.

To sum up, I’ll leave you all with one final quote from Lucy:

“I  am with these women. I’m with her. I’m with her whatever choice she makes and I trust her to make the right choice for herself and her family.”

I am with her too.

~J

 

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My Never Ending Series of Unfortunate Events – A Collection of ‘Jessisms’.

So the other day while casually pondering life (ya know, as ya do), it occurred to me that I’ve had some pretty weird and unfortunate shit happen to me over the years. Now I know we all have our wacky experiences and encounters, but I’m starting to think that I have a significant amount more than others. After 23 years, and countless inputs from friends and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘it’s just something about me.’  Apparently ‘I just have that ‘look’ (whatever that look is I’ll never know).

I’m just a recipe for disaster. A walking calamity. A magnet for mishaps. Quite a while back, I decided it might be a fun idea to compile a list of what I like to call my ‘Jessisms’, or in other words my own personal never ending series of unfortunate events. I’ve had this blog saved as a draft for some time now, and I’ve been slowly adding to it as my propensity for misfortune continues.

(Before I begin I must point out that most of these instances weren’t actually my fault, and therefore the circumstances surrounding them should not solely be put down to, clumsiness, stupidity, intoxication, or the colour of my hair).

Without further ado…

Being bitten in Coppers:

This is probably the most bizarre of them all. So there I am on my 19th birthday, minding my own business, enjoying my suddy and red to the gentle sway of Nicki Minaj in the basement of coppers. Utterly Sophisticated. When then, out of no where some middle aged bald guy runs up to me, bites me on the shoulder, and runs away. Next thing I know I’m being fussed over, your man is ‘goin to get the absolute shit kicked out of him,’  and there’s talks of tetanus and A&E in case the creature drew blood. Luckily he didn’t. Probably not surprising for coppers, but still unfortunate nonetheless.

Getting caught in the clothes line: 

It was a grand summers evening, and being the model child that I am I decided to hang out the washing for the fam. It was back in the too-young-for-a-job-days, so doing the housework would get you your 20 euro for the week. Which looking back is kind of bordering on the lines of child labour, but anyway. I had set out with great intentions, only the next thing I know I find myself literally stuck to the line. My long hair had betrayed me by getting deeply entangled in one of the pegs. The only thing I could do was stand there helplessly and hope someone would rescue me. A good forty minutes later my sister arrives back from my nan’s and sets me free. I have had a strange aversion to clothes lines ever since.

Being put in a strangers car by my father:

(Here’s looking at you Tom Keogh).

I regret to say that this one actually happened. It was around about 5 years ago, before my driving days. My dad was giving me a lift to the bus station, as I was heading back to college. All was going well, it was a seemingly inconspicuous Monday morning. That is until the car broke down less than half way through the journey. It wouldn’t have been so much of a big deal, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a test that day that I couldn’t miss. If I missed the bus I missed the test. The car wasn’t budging and there was no one around to come to our rescue. So what does my dad do? Stands out in the middle of the road and attempts to flag down oncoming traffic. He then starts pleading with random strangers to take me and my mortified self to the bus station. Next thing I know I’m flung into a car, case in tow, with a woman called Ann and her two kids. Ann kindly threw me out at Waterford bus station some twenty minutes later, after the longest and most uncomfortable silence of my life. On the re-telling of this story my  Dad always says, “well didn’t ya make the bus?”. Yes Dad, I may have made the bus, but I can assure you my pride did not. (Also, she could’ve been a psycho killer, but whatever, “sure I made the bus”).

Accidentally using ‘Intimate feminine wipes’ on my face

Okay now this was just deceptively cruel. Who even knew such things existed? Again, not my fault. The culprits in question were bought for me under the illusion that they were, in fact, normal facial cleansing wipes. A similar incident happened shortly thereafter, when I used my nephews  “nappy rash” cream on my face. A serious dupe for sudocream let me tell you. I’ve now come to the conclusion that I need to just give up on facial products in general.

Drinking my own contact lense:

Some of you may remember this one from Facebook.

Yes I indeed happened to drink my own contact lense. I’m not proud of it, in fact it still haunts me to this day, almost exactly two years after it first occurred. It wasn’t a sick dare or anything, it was just something horribly and disgustingly unfortunate. You see, anyone with contact lenses will understand the hardship of taking them out after a night out. Sometimes you surprise yourself and manage to store them perfectly in their little containers of solution. More often times than not they can end up glued to your eyelids, left to shrivel on two plates, or in this instance floating in glasses of water. Now you can see what happened next. I’m drunk, I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m thirsty. I innocently reach for one of the glasses of water beside my bed, and well you get the rest.

Capsizing in the waters of Slovenia

Now this one was a genuine near death experience. Not being dramatic. So I’m on an inter-rail with a group of friends, and we decide to do something other than destroy our livers. That something turned out to be white-water rafting. Very adventurous of us altogether. Let me set the scene. So we’re looking sexy in our wet suits as we embark our vessel. (Which was basically a blow up floating boat, and not a raft made of sticks like I had originally imagined/secretly hoped). Our instructor ‘Yuri’ was quite the man, and ensured us we were completely safe as we navigated our way through Slovenian waters. All was going well, until all of a sudden the boat capsized. Before long we were all being flung rapidly downstream. At first we found it amusing, but after Yuri’s frantic screams of ‘this is fucking serious,’ we were in full titanic mode. The water was fairly shallow, so me being me, think ‘ah sher it’s grand I can just stand up and sort of walk back’. Disaster. Of course I’m flung back straight onto my arse and dragged across rocks, dodging trees, and screaming for my life along the way. What made me think I could walk against a rapid current, I’ll never know.  In the end I somehow managed to swim back to the raft, oar in hand, exhausted. All I could do was lay there like a wet seal and wait for the others to be rescued. Tragic stuff.

Being asked on a date to Mcdonalds by a Dublin Bus driver:

Now I know some of you might not view this as unfortunate per se, some might find it flattering. But picture the scene. It’s 11:34pm. I’m en route home from a late shift and I have to be up and back in work at 7am. All I want to do is peacefully disembark the bus and fall in to bed. I press the buzzer and I approach my stop. The bus driver seemingly innocent, turns to me and asks in the thickest Dublin accent “Dya wanna go ta Mcdonalds?”  Still genuinely not sure if he was asking me on a date, or if I looked like the type of person who frequents McDonalds. Either way I stared blankly at him, shook my head politely, disembarked the bus and ran for my life.

Wearing my leggings inside out to work:

Now I must stress that for 6 months straight I had to endure the pain of 7am starts, something my former college student self wasn’t accustomed to at the time. (My present self is now peeling herself up at 6.30am). Anywho, after my early rise I then had a bit of a bitch of a commute, so naturally these types of mishaps were bound to occur…weren’t they? Nonetheless, after my usual ritual of crying into my cereal at the foot of the stairs, I set out for work. I got on the bus, put in my earphones and tried to avoid the oncoming plague of other passengers. Only then did I happen to look down and realise that my leggings were in fact inside out. Facing an hour long commute and a further 10 minute walk to work before I could rectify the situation, there was nothing I could do. Fortunately I wasn’t the strangest creature on the bus that day.

 Being abandoned by my ‘friends’ in a dyke:

 When I was in primary school we had a dyke (which is basically a washed out ditch/trench like thing), that ran along the back of the school. Of course we were forbidden from going near it, but that never stopped us. I remember coming to school after spraining my ankle in a separate unrelated trampoline incident. I was on crutches, but my friends convinced me to come out to the dyke anyway. Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, I agreed. Next thing I know I’m being lowered into the dyke crutches and all. It was all fun and games until  someone got wind of one of the teachers coming. Everyone fled, leaving 10 year old me alone in the dyke to navigate my way out with my crutches.

Being run over by a bike in Sweden:

I think I’ll let the below speak for itself on this one. I did legitimately have a stalker in Sweden btw, but that’s a post entirely of it’s own.

Chipping my tooth on a pole in Barcelona:

Not intoxicated, just blind and laughing too much. I probably reacted a little too dramatically when this one happened, but in fairness it was one of my worst fears realised. I thought my whole tooth was gone. Plus, I hadn’t long shed my braces, so it was pretty upsetting. I did however, get to rock the ‘London Look’ for a few days.

At this stage, I think I should probably start wrapping this up! I am aware this post is probably quite long, but it has only just scratched the surface. I mean I could probably write an entire book filled with my misadventures, perhaps one day I will. For now I will leave you with these short anecdotes, in the hopes that you enjoyed reading them just as much as I enjoyed re-telling them!

As Mr Lemony Snicket himself once said:

 What might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.

~Jessie

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It’s True, Nobody Likes You When You’re 23

I must admit, 8 months into my 23rd year and I’m starting to think Blink 182 were on to something.  In case anyone reading is unaware, (and it’s not obvious from the title), they coined the infamous lyric ‘nobody likes you when you’re 23’.

Twenty three is just awkward. It’s not as crazy as 18. It’s not as fun as 21. It’s not as blissfully oblivious as 22. Why you might ask? well because 23 is that horrible year where you have to start realising things. (Kylie Jenner I’m lookin’ at you).  You’re plucked from your lovely little college nest and turfed out in the real world to start fending for yourself.

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They don’t prepare you for this kind of thing. Nobody teaches you how to suddenly adult. Sure I spent the last four years perfecting the art of seeking out the cheapest wine, but that’s not exactly going to equip me for the impending 9-5 slog (although some would disagree with me!).

I’ve found these months of my post college life to be some of the toughest thus far. It’s more than coincidental that this time seems to coincide with my 23rd year..

I mean it’s very difficult figuring out what you want to do with your life, and it can be disconcerting when things don’t go how you expect. I packed up my life and hopped on over to London, only to move back 8 months later. As buzzfeed once said (yes, I’m quoting buzzfeed), you’re expected to have your shit together, but have none of the resources required to get your shit together. Truer words have never been spoken.

It seems like you have a lot of options, but they all come with some sort of catch. Do you find a job and start working right away? But that leaves no time for travel. But how do you fund the travel without a job first? So many questions, so little answers. Whatever you find yourself doing though, it’s terrifying because it’s the first time you have any real responsibility.

You’re an adult, but you’re essentially the baby version of an adult.

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Now you have to start thinking about scary things, like making appointments for yourself and learning how to cook a roast dinner. On top of all this you’re faced with the realistation that your next significant birthday isn’t until 40 (we all know people who throw 30th’s are kidding themselves).

All of a sudden you can’t afford your lifestyle. All of your lovely luxury student discounts have disappeared, and you weren’t prepared for the reality of ‘adult’ prices. Honestly how do they expect you to afford full whack when now you actually have to pay bills? So rude.  With that being said, I’m still doing my best with the ‘strategic thumb place’ and wrangling whatever cinema and train tickets I can. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do;)

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The thought of getting older is scary because you feel so far behind both in an emotional sense and a career sense. You’re itching to get beyond your years and make something of yourself, yet at the same time you don’t feel as if you’re ready. It’s a total mind-field really.

I read someone describe the year of 23 as ‘upsetting, brightening, hardening and hectic all at once’. I couldn’t agree more. It’s just one big massive limbo. I find myself pushing myself to be the best version of myself. I’m constantly striving to do better. I find myself in working environments surrounded by people who have achieved so much, and subsequently I feel a bit useless. I then have to remind myself that these people are much older than me. They have more experience, and I am only, after all, just twenty three.

The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last few months is that sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards. Because the truth is you ain’t gonna walk out those college gates and into your dream job. You’re still gonna have to rely on a helping hand every now and again, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. You have to walk before you run and all that jazz.

If nothing else, 24 is only 5 months away 😉

 

 

 

 

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From One Big Smoke to Another

In my last post I talked about quitting my job with no backup, well now I’m happy to announce that I am now officially employed again, woohoo! (The company I’m going to work for is coincidentally named BACKUP, but more about that later).

This new venture will see me move back across the pond. Yep back to the Emerald Isle, a mere 8 months after leaving. It’s all  kind of mad, and I’ll admit I probably do seem like a bit of a Yo-Yo!

I had my reservations at first. I didn’t want to seem like a failure for leaving London. I was worried people may see it as a step backwards.Especially when you come from a small town like I do,  where all people do is talk. You decide to move away and the whole village accuses you of thinking “you’re too good for the place”. But then I decided not to give a fuck what people may or may not think.

It is my life after all, and as cliché as it is, I’ve learned that you have to do what makes YOU happy.

I suppose I wanted to write this blog for two reasons.

  1. To update everyone on what’s been going on in my life (not that many actually care, but nonetheless, here we are 🙂 ).
  2. I want to share my advice and experiences with anyone who may going through a similar situation

So if you’re still interested in my not so fascinating life and words of wisdom, do read on.

life

After leaving my last job in January, I spent the best part of 2 months in London  searching for another. I went through approximately 6 interviews and probably twice as many existential crises. I questioned absolutely everything about myself, from my past decisions to my future career ambitions and then some. I wondered would I ever be good enough to land my “dream job?”. The industry I’ve entered into is tough. It’s fiercely competitive and it’s so hard to make yourself stand out. It’s even harder not to feel dejected when you see that 100+ other people have applied for the same position you have. It’s not the same as other professions. The world is constantly crying out for teachers and nurses, but content creators? Not so much.

With each rejection letter I was finding it harder and harder to believe in myself . Sometimes it feels impossible not to take the “best wishes for your future endeavors” as a personal slap in the face. I was feeling so down in myself when I learned I’d been invited to interview for an Editorial Position for Arcadia. Arcadia are a collective group for a number of fashion brands including Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins. The role was for Dorothy Perkins and involved creating content for their blog, working on social channels, assisting with fashion shoots etc. It sounded right up my street and I was so excited!  I had to do a couple of tasks ahead of the interview, which were time consuming, but enjoyable all the same.

The day came, and I felt it went well.  I was told I’d hear back soon. A week passed without news, and so I decided to follow up. HR assured me they were chasing Dorothy Perkins for an update, and would let me know soon. Another week passed and I still hadn’t heard anything. Eventually I got an email to say it was down to me and another candidate, and that they should be making a decision by the end of that week. Great I thought, not long left to wait! That was until another week passed and then another and I STILL hadn’t heard.I had just about given up, when I got a call apologising for the delay and inviting me to a second interview. By this stage a month had passed since the original interview. I had other prospects in the pipeline, but despite the waiting I was still keen. I did the second interview  last wedensday, and was assured that this time I  would definitely  hear by the end of the week.

In the meantime I found out I’d been offered a job back in Dublin. I was genuinely a bit shocked! I was told they were interviewing with six other candidates, so I’d pretty much written myself off. I now found myself faced with a big decision:

Do I uproot myself and move back to Ireland after less than a year in London?

Or do I hang on and wait to see if I got the job in London?

I got a call last Thursday after my second round interview with Arcadia and Dorothy Perkins. My heart was in my mouth thinking finally this is the answer i’ve been waiting for. Alas no, it was just more time wasting. They just called to inform me I was one of 3 finalists and the decision would be made on Friday.

Friday came and I waited all day with my phone glued to my side, willing it to ring. It was 4.30pm when I got yet another  shoddy email from them saying that seeing as the Editor was out of the office, I would now be informed on Monday. I honestly couldn’t fathom the unprofessional-ism. This was the third or fourth time this had happened, and I was quickly losing patience and faith in the company. I couldn’t help but think, if this how they treat people in the hiring process, what on earth would it be like working from them? Unprofessionalism and misscoummincation were two of the factors that contributed to my decision to leave my last job. I wasn’t going down that route again. Trust me, it’s not worth being treated like shit for any job (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt).

Throughout all this the crowd in Dublin were above and beyond supportive. I was told to take my time with my decision and if they could assist me in anyway to give them a shout. The manager even offered to help me make a pro a con list regarding the decision to relocate again. It was so nice to feel valued and appreciated. I think deep down I knew I’d only be staying in London just to stay in London, and that makes no sense. Part of me didn’t want to give up this newfound freedom and cosmopolitan lifestyle I’d become so fond of. It felt a bit like I’d be admitting defeat. Reflecting on all of this now kind of makes me laugh. I mean it’s a bit silly isn’t it?  I’d just been offered a job that genuinely excited me. I should’ve been feeling elated!

When I had a few days to mull it all over I realised how ridiculous I was being. Things happen for a reason. Opportunities don’t often fall on your lap, and when they do you have to grab them with both hands. Even if that means uprooting yourself yet again! So what if I’m leaving London? I’m going back to an even better big smoke. One that 20 year old me fell in love with back  when she got her first taste of a big city and the working world.

As I mentioned above, the company I’ll be working for is called BACKUP, they are a creative marketing and ad agency based in Dun Laoghaire (I’m looking forward to walks on the pier and those sea views!). My job will involve creating all of the internal blogs and social content. I’ll basically be responsible for content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as working on campaigns  for the company’s big brand clients. It’s super exciting and exactly the kind of thing I want to be doing. So I’m excited to move back and get stuck in. I informed Dorothy Perkins that if I didn’t hear from them on Monday I’d be accepting another job offer. Surprise surprise there wasn’t a peep out of them. I didn’t even get the usual fob off to say it would be another day. I guess I should thank them for making my decision easier and showing me all of the qualities you do not want in an employer. I sent them an email on Tuesday asking them to withdraw my application, all the while expressing how unprofessional I found the entire process. I haven’t received a reply. The job has since been re-advertised.

If I’ve learned anything over the past few days it’s that you can’t stay in a place just for the sake of it, or just out of stubbornness. In fact, (as cheesy as it sounds), the past couple of months have taught me a lot about myself and about life. I’ve done things I never thought I’d do. I’ve surprised myself in ways I could never have imagined. I packed up my life and moved across the shores. The job wasn’t what I expected and so I quit. Some might call it recklessness, I call it chasing happiness. I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say with this long rambling blog post, is that you should never settle. Never compromise. Scare yourself, believe in yourself and go after what it is you really want. Whether that sees you in Ireland, London, China, Timbuktu, wherever.  This is the time to be figuring it all out. Job hop, country hop and make sure to learn and laugh along the way.

I know I did! 😉

Until the next rant or ramble,

~J

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Why I quit my job with no back up

I started my 2017 by boarding a plane back to London with no Job. The crazy thing is, I did it by choice.

Shortly before Christmas (most inopportune time, I know) I decided I had had enough and handed in my notice to my most recent employer. I left a full time permanent job with absolutely no back up lined up. Now at this stage you may be thinking that I’m reckless, stupid, irresponsible or all of the above. Believe me I’ve had those thoughts too.

But what do you do when you’re no longer happy?  What do you do on a Sunday night when the thoughts of going into work on a Monday morning are giving you a physical pain in your chest?

I moved to London as a fresh, doe eyed albeit, enthusiastic graduate. I had landed my first ‘adult’ job and I could not wait to start making my mark on the world. However, I quickly realised that the job I had entered into was far from any of the things I wanted. It was monotonous, repetitive, badly managed and lacked so much as a drop of creativity. Not only that, but I wasn’t learning anything. It soon became clear that there was absolutely no room for progression or career development in the role whatsoever. Having spent 4 years in university that’s something I would consider very important to me. I want to learn, I want to grow and I want to progress. I want to be in an environment where hard work is truly recognised, where creative people are encouraged and valued. So I took the plunge.

I scared myself and pulled the security and safety right from under me. I spent 6 months putting all of my energy into something I really didn’t care about. Something I wasn’t passionate about, and something which was giving me nothing but stress and hassle in return. Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’m quite a driven and ambitious person. I am never ‘half arsed’ about anything I do, so I didn’t make this decision lightly. I didn’t wake up one day and decide ‘oh, i’m going to quit my job’. There were a lot of contributing factors, and I spent many hours discussing it with my family and those close to me.

I’m only 23 after all.  This is the time in my life where I’m allowed to be unsure, I’m allowed to make mistakes,  I’m allowed to try new things and I’m allowed to go after what really makes me happy. Yet there are days like today, when I’m pouring over countless job applications and  trying to prove that i’m the ‘perfect candidate’, that I feel a little lost. I find myself questioning my decision, questioning my abilities and questioning what it is I really want from life. Did I make another bad choice by quitting? Could I have stuck it out another 6 months?  I mean probably, but that would have been another 6 months trying to fool myself into thinking my situation was okay. I was afraid of getting stuck and then never having the confidence to (as incredibly cliche as it is),  follow my dreams. A lot have people have told me I’m brave. But I’ve yet to decide whether that’s true, or whether I’m just incredibly stupid 🙂  (Let’s go with the former).

I’m not sure where these next few months in my life are going to take me. But then again 6 months ago I wasn’t sure either. Not knowing is both terrifying an exhilarating.  It’s only been 3 days since I’ve officially been unemployed. In that time I’ve sent approximately 20 job applications, received 5 of those lovely generic ‘unfortunately you have not been selected on this occasion’ rejections,  and binged watched 8 episodes of ‘Jane the Virgin’ (hey a girl’s gotta stay sane!). It’s early days yet. I’ll admit, it is hard not to feel a bit like ‘no one is every going to hire me again!’, but I’m doing my best to remain optimistic. Of course there are moments that I wish I was at home, where I could have access to an abundance of hugs from my boyfriend, dad, sister and nan. I’ll have a little cry, wipe my tears, then sit back in front of the laptop and attempt to tell faceless strangers why I’m great, and why they should hire me.

As coldplay once said, ‘nobody said it was easy’. But I’m very fortunate to have such a loving support system around me. It’s so incredibly cheesy, but life really is too short to feel anything less than fulfilled. Hopefully I’ll have an update regarding my new ventures soon. If not, I may be flying back to the Emerald Isle to take up residence on an unassuming couch. (Advanced offers welcome).

Until the next life update!

~J