Dear August: Life

August, busy, Dear August, life

We are half way through you August. Half way. It feels like I say this on the 15th/16th of every month, but where is time going? How does it slip by so fast?

I spend so much time worrying about things that are so inconsequential and irrelevant, that sometimes I think I’ve worried so much that whole days, weeks, maybe even months have past me by, and I’ve barely even noticed. But, by the time I do notice, I wonder what the heck I was worrying about.

But worry isn’t the only thing that seems to encourage time to whizz by. As I mentioned a few letters ago, August has been an unpredictably busy month, and doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of stopping, and busy months are renowned for flying by.

It’s funny though, because my days are so less regimented than they were when I was at school. School days felt crammed with information and people, and I always seemed to be doing something, and yet time seems to go faster now! Is that because the busy of school was “boring”? I don’t know, but I wish that time would slow down, because I’m starting to feel like time is flashing by so quickly, that I’m beginning to get left behind.

I’ve known for a long time that my life wasn’t going down the same path as most of my friends, and I’m okay with that. But there comes a time when I’ve started to feel that maybe it’s time for change. Or maybe my life was never going to be that black and white, and maybe I’ll just carry on following my feet, to see where they take me. I think it’s more fun that way.

Thanks for everything August, and thanks for keeping me busy.

*This series of posts was inspired by the Letters to July series run by Emilieofnewgloom, make sure you check out her YouTube Channel, because she’s pretty awesome*

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Dear August: Big Town Girl

Dear August, life

There was a time when I was embarrassed to tell people where I came from, because it’s the kind of town that draws two kinds of responses.

The first is the people that don’t have a clue where Grimsby is. When I was at Uni, one guy actually thought that it was near London – it eventually transpired that he was from London, and of course we all know that to some people, the entire world revolves around London, so I don’t know why I was so surprised.

The second kind of response is one that irritates me the most: it comes in a wide variety of forms, but is basically very negative towards the place. The funniest thing about the negativity? 99.99% of these people have never visited Grimsby, or even know someone who has.

Around two and a half years ago, I moved to a small market town about twenty minutes away. One of my reasons for moving here, was because I wanted a quiet life, in a small town where everyone was friendly and the atmosphere was nicer. But, in hindsight, life hasn’t become quieter – this town has a crazy night life at weekends. I’ve also found that I really miss the convenience of having a shopping centre, I also miss being near friends who have since moved back into town.

It’s weird how much we can moan about where we live, but the moment someone else does, we become so protective of it. It’s also interesting how much we miss it, once we’ve left.

My home town might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But, to me, it’s home.

Love you always August,

*This series of posts was inspired by the Letters to July series run by Emilieofnewgloom, make sure you check out her YouTube Channel, because she’s pretty awesome*

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Dear August: Packing Up and Growing Up

August, change, Dear August, life, privacy, progress

Yesterday I told you about how much it sucks to grow up. Well, today I want to tell you how it feels to be packing up everything that remains of my childhood.

When I was younger, I was distraught at the idea of leaving my childhood home for good. Whilst I was at Uni, I hated the idea of not being able to go back to the warmth and safety of it all, because it had been a place where I escaped the bullies, and where all of my dreams begun.

However, aged 29 and packing everything up for the very final time – as we all move on, in very different directions – I’ve come to realise that I don’t feel as sad about it, as I’d expected to.

This house – or bungalow, since that’s what it is really – is full of memories. Some awesome, some sad. They’re my memories, and I cherish every single one of them, but it really does feel like the right time to move on. Why?

Progress.

When I was growing up, we had neighbours – of course – but none of them overlooked us. We had trees, and fences and the benefit of awkward angles, making our slice something very much an area of privacy and seclusion. It was almost as if our house and garden were in a completely different world.

And then progress happened. The houses overlooking our back fence, and the Village Hall built at the front.

In the space of a few years, my childhood home has lost that special magic known as privacy and I am happy to walk away.

It’s strange to think that I had all of this privacy when I was a kid, and now I live in a world where privacy barely even exists any more, because we all share so much of our personal lives on Facebook, Twitter and our blogs.

My child self would be screaming in terror, but I think that we need to embrace and accept that things are changing, and that we need to change with it.

Love you always August, and thanks for listening,

*This series of posts was inspired by the Letters to July series run by Emilieofnewgloom, make sure you check out her YouTube Channel, because she’s pretty awesome*

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20 Things I Miss About Being a Kid!

life



This is actually a list that I started putting together a long time ago, for a very different blog. But, I came across it earlier, and decided to reserrect it and finish it.

One. Not having to decide what to wear every day, because my school uniform came in two colours, blue and black, and they were actually worn together!! Don’t get me wrong, I love having the freedom to dress how I like everyday, without the restrictions of a school uniform, but you have to admit it was nice not having to worry about items clashing. And you didn’t care that you looked ridiculous in it, because so did everyone else!!

Two. Spending Saturday mornings moulded into the armchair watching whichever Saturday morning show was on (Live and Kicking, SM:TV etc). It’s one of the sad things about Freeview/Sky/Digital/Cable etc, because there just aren’t any real kids shows like SM:TV on Saturday mornings anymore. I know that we shouldn’t be encouraging kids to watch more TV, but it never did us any harm right?

Three. Managing to eat two Sunday Dinners (one at my Nana’s and one at home), and not feeling the slightest bit guilty about it, or worrying about how many calories were in it and how many pounds I was about to gain!

Four. Being late for school, after lunch, because we refused to leave my friends house, until we’d all found Wally!!

Five. Being able to dance around the living room, without caring if I looked stupid!

Six. Being into pop music (Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Five, Hanson). I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, but I honestly don’t think that I could listen to pop music today. Despite that, there is nothing like a nineties/pop nostalgia trip to cheer me up 😀

I also really miss the days when I really wanted to be  the CD of a certain single or album, but I couldn’t afford it, so had to settle for the cassette instead. Cassette’s really weren’t as good though!!

Seven. Spending the whole school year wishing it was the summer holidays, then spending the whole summer holidays (well, maybe not the first week) wishing it was term time again.

Eight. Drinking things through a straw, without being accused of “looking childish”. Although, to be honest I do still use a straw when given the chance, and I don’t care who knows it 😛

Nine. Making Dens out of the Settee or garden furniture

Ten. Running around in a swim suit, outside, without worrying about wobbly bits (or perverts)

Eleven. Having to defrost my brothers car just so that he could take us to School. Actually, I lie. I don’t miss doing that at all. I remember numb fingers and toes and wanting to be indoors brrrr!!

Although, for the record, his car didn’t freeze up that much!

Twelve. Spending weekends visiting my Nana’s friends. The sad thing about this one, is that most of my Nana’s friends are now no longer with us.

Thirteen. Being able to spend all day on a video game, without feeling lazy. Now if I spend ten minutes playing a game, I feel like there is something more productive I could be doing. I still end up playing for a little while though 🙂

Fourteen. Having my whole life ahead of me, which was still exciting. I loved the idea that during childhood I culd quite literally have taken any path in life, any career, any destination.

Fifteen. Not having to make my own appointments at the Doctors/Dentist

Sixteen. Getting drunk on fresh air. When I was in my teens, I was a bit of a goody-two-shoes in that I didn’t drink even when my friends did. It’s funny, because I was never told that I couldn’t have booze, in fact my Mum had no problem with it, as long as she knew about it. But the point was, that I never liked the taste of it.

Seventeen. Staying in bed until lunch time, without that heavy feeling of oversleep or guilt. It’s this idea that you still have your whole life ahead of you. Whereas now, I always think that the longer I stay in bed, the more of my life I’m potentially wasting!

I used to always envy my cats, because they got to sleep for the best part of the day, plus they didn’t have to go to school!!

Eighteen. When the only post I received was from my Grandad or Birthday Cards. These days I absolutely dread getting post, because all I get is bank statements and bills, and they’re really not very exciting!!

Nineteen. When my biggest worry was who I was going to sit with on the bus to wherever we were going on a school trip.

Twenty. Honestly believing that everyone was good/nice in their own way. Ah, to be young and naive 😉

Whilst I do miss being younger, when I had no responsibilities and life seemed simpler, I hoenstly wouldn’t go back.

What do you miss about being a kid?

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Top 10 Tips for Making Uni Life Easier

life, student, student life, Uni, university

When I was younger, going to Uni was supposed to be this big and wild adventure, but in reality, that isn’t always the case. Things go wrong, and they don’t always go to plan. You discover that not everyone is nice, or even worth knowing. At times, Uni can seem like one huge pain in the behind, but I wanted to share a few tips for making your time at Uni that little bit easier, because these are the things that most Universities don’t always tell you about:

1. Back Everything Up – Regularly.

In my final year at Uni, my PC decided to do an almost literal dive bomb. It went cuckoo and every five minutes or so, it would reboot itself and I would lose work. Another time, my PC crashed and I lost an entire essay that I had to completely re-write, from scratch. You’re probably thinking, that’s okay, I have auto-save, but what if the auto-save, on this one occasion, decides that it doesn’t want to play ball? You’ll save it onto a USB drive? Great, and what are you going to do if that USB drive becomes corrupt? Email it to yourself? Well, say hello to that lovely person in India who has decided to hack your account and steal everything from it.

In reality, it’s unlikely that all of these will happen, but do you really want to take the chance?

Backing everything up is boring, and I will admit that I didn’t do it often enough, and it ended up biting me very firmly on the behind. Save often, and have several copies of everything just to play it safe. You won’t regret it.

2. Don’t Buy Every Book on the Reading List

You might not need them. Most books are given as a general guide, but when it comes to actually writing essays, you’ll quickly learn that the most helpful books aren’t even on the reading list.

Initially, only buy the books that cover the basics of what you are going to be studying. Then, as you progress through your course, use your own judgement to decide which books you will find useful to own, rather than borrow from the library.

3. Borrow Books Early

It’s fairly easy to figure out that most students will leave the writing of all essays to the last few weeks before they need handing in. The problem being that since everyone will be in the same frame of mind, recommended books are likely to be difficult to get hold of. Instead, search out recommended books, essays and periodicals as soon as you are given the reading list and/or essay questions (generally, we were given the essay question right at the beginning of the module) and have had enough time to figure out what you might need.

You don’t have to focus your attention on the essay. Instead, photocopy the pages you think you’re going to need and go back to them when you do write the essay.

4. Prepare for the Worst

One of the worst things about living in Halls, was definitely fire alarms at 2 o’clock in the morning. There is nothing worse than scrambling to put things on and finding yourself stood in the freezing cold wearing nothing put your skimpiest vest and shorts with no shoes.

When I first moved into Halls, I went into super paranoid mode and every night made sure that I put my dressing gown on the back of my desk chair with my keys in one of the pockets. I then made sure that I knew exactly where my shoes were.

Boy am I glad that I did!!

5. Fresher’s Fair

Fresher’s Fairs are a sweet haven for freebies and money-off coupons. At my first year Fresher’s Fair, I picked up some awesome stuff, including:

  • A “Protect Your Property” Pint Glass
  • A UV Pen (to mark you belongings in case they get pinched!)
  • A Flares Bottle Opener (actually, I think I somehow picked up two!!)
  • A Shot Glass 
  • Money-off vouchers for the local supermarket

6. Always keep an eye on your washing

This is something that I am incredibly thankful that I didn’t experience myself, but I’ve seen it happen. Laundry rooms in Halls get incredibly busy (unless you do your washing early on a Sunday morning when everyone is soothing their hangovers!!), so whatever you do always make sure that you are in the Laundry room when your washing finishes.
Why, you might ask?
Because students are an impatient bunch, and if the washer has finished, they will take it out and replace the stuff with their own! If you left a basket on top, you might be lucky and find you clothing in it, but I’ve seen stuff just thrown on the floor.
I’m not sure which bit is the worst: the idea of your stuff being thrown aside, or the idea of someone touching your smalls (eew!)

7. Leave your Bedroom door open

This is actually something that I read just before I went to Uni myself, however if you are looking to make friends with your flatmates, leave your door open. The idea being that an open door is welcoming, and it tells people that it’s okay for them to come in.
Then, when you don’t feel like socialising so much, it should be pretty clear to people that a closed door means they should stay away, or at least be cautious!

8. Don’t expect to learn much in Lectures

Unlike School, Uni learning is what you make of it. You have to take control and as a rule, lectures are designed purely to plant the initial seeds. It is then your job to plant those seeds, open up your books and pretty much teach yourself.
Of course tutors may offer guidance, but it really is up to you to study, research and help yourself to fully understand the relevant areas of your course and modules. It is up to you to organise yourself and your time.

9. Don’t expect Uni to be like what you read in magazines, books or the prospectus

The University experience is different for absolutely everyone. Some people make lots of lifelong friends, whilst others don’t make many. Some people love their course, whilst others just kind of plod along and get on with it. 
I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t go to Uni with high expectations, because the chances are that you won’t fulfil any of them.
Just go with the flow, and see where Uni life takes you.

10. Keep a close eye on your Finances

It’s easy to want to spend all of your loan money over the first few weeks of the semester, especially when you know that you have an overdraft to fall back on, but I really do recommend trying to at least gain a little control over your spending.

When I started Uni, I opened up a Student Account with HSBC that came with an overdraft. However, I didn’t put my student loan into that account. Instead, I had the money go into an existing account, that didn’t have an overdraft, and each week I would drip feed my loan into my student account to prevent me from spending it all too quickly. I did this by dividing my loan into the number of weeks I needed to cover and then set up a Direct Debit to move the money over each Monday.

Of course I still had the overdraft, and yes I will confess that I went heavily into it, but at least I wasn’t spending the loan too quickly. 

Yesterday, the lovely Robyn also pointed out the need to keep a supply of loo roll for yourself, which is definitely another way of making life easier for yourself. 

But what other tips would you give new students, to make their lives easier? 

What do you wish you’d known about, before you went?

Did you make any mistakes? Have any regrets?

Debate: Forgiving and Forgetting

Debate, life, life choices

I’ve always tried to go through life with no regrets, because life is too short for regretting what you have or haven’t done. However, sometimes life throws something at you that completely knocks you for six, something that is completely out of your control and you deal with it in a way that is probably undignified, but at the time, it’s the best way you can cope with it.

But that crap brings with it a lot of anger and hurt towards someone who had been in your life, and who has promptly walked straight back out of it without so much as an “adios”. When that happens it’s easy to feel like you can’t possibly forgive and you most definitely won’t forget, but the the problem is that small things remind you of that person, and it starts to eat you inside. So, what I want to know is: is forgiving and forgetting the most crucial part of recovering from being hurt?

My Other Half honestly believes that it’s not possible to truly forgive and forget, and for a long time, I wasn’t sure that I thought it was easily, but then something happened that changed my mind.

Remembering the Past

I’m not going to use names, because it’s not fair on them to “name and shame”, but I met this particular male whilst I was at University, through a friend from home, and we started going out. To be honest, we were rubbish together. We had nothing in common, we didn’t have any kind of “spark” and his idea of fun really wasn’t my idea of fun. In fact, I’d found his kind of fun incredibly boring, I’m not going to lie.

Nevertheless, we went out for roughly two and a half months over the summer holidays. Then I went back to Uni, and he became distant. He didn’t reply to my texts and I should have followed my gut instinct and dumped him at the first sniff of things not being right.

I ended up travelling home to try and find out what was going on, and he chose the moment that I arrived at my parents’ house to text me and tell me that he’d met someone else. Yeah, thanks for that. Remembering it, I’d had my suspicions that he’d met someone else, because of something that I’d joked about and how he hadn’t responded as I’d expected him to about it, but what had made me so angry was the fact that I had given him plenty of opportunity to just tell me, and he’d let me travel all the way home, only to dump me by text. He couldn’t even do it in person, or stop me the trouble of wasting my time coming home by at least calling me. Ultimately, he was a coward and the fact he treated me the way he did just built up this huge level of anger that festered inside me for around five years.

It sounds crazy to let something like that bother me for five years, but I can’t even explain why it made me feel like that for so long. Every time that I saw a van for the national company that he worked for, it made me so mad. And the various occasions that I’d see him in the street when I was home, I honestly wanted to go up to him and punch him. Thankfully, that didn’t happen very often.

Forgiving

Then, about a year and a half ago, he randomly added me on Facebook. At the time I was a little bit surprised. I knew that he had gotten married, and I was happily in a relationship myself but I will admit that I was curious. I don’t entirely remember the conversations that were had back then, because they’re really not important, and I’m pretty certain that it was just the typical “how are you” and “what are you up to” type crap, but all that mattered was that he had made the first move. He might not have apologised outright (then again, he might have, I honestly can’t remember), but whether he did or not, it wasn’t the point. It was the fact that he had made the effort to get in touch and find out how I was that meant a lot to me.

From that moment, I found that I was able to finally forgive him for how he treated me and properly move on from it.

Forgetting

It sounds ridiculous, but I realised as I was writing this that I no longer walk around worrying that I’m going to bump into him, because even if I did, it would no longer be a big deal. I think that his metaphorical olive branch gave me a huge sense of closure over something that had hurt me deeper than it ever should have. I honestly don’t think that he was a bad person. Yeah, he did a horrible thing, he was a coward and he should have handled things differently, but we really were bad together, and people make mistakes.

I think that that olive branch was exactly what I had needed emotionally to be able to detach from the anger that had built up in me for so long, and I feel so much happier for it. As I said, the Other Half doesn’t entirely understand it, and he doesn’t understand why I felt that I needed to make peace with my Ex and how important it has been for me to be able to consider us “friends”, but it was something that I needed to do for myself, and I really do feel better for being able to move forward.

I think that it really helped that it was him (who caused the hurt) who was the one to step forward and make the friend request, because I don’t think that I could ever have done it the other way around.

What do you think? 

Do you think that you can forgive and forget something hurtful that someone has done to you? 

Is it easier if they hand an olive branch, or are you not interested in their need for forgiveness?

Do you agree that forgiveness is the easiest way to move on in life?
 Or do you think that something are not deserving of your forgiveness?

Why I’ll never learn to Drive

decisions, life, modern life

I’ve been an avid read of Psychologies Magazine for quite some time, and even these days I find that I’m really only reading it for David Baddiel’s page (I sometimes swear that man is in my head, which is a little bit disturbing!!), there are often little gems that really do hit-home with me.

This month’s issue, featuring the inspiring Kirsten Dunst, has proven to be even more inspirational to me than many recent issues, but no article has really got to me, like this one:

I’ve always felt a slight sense of not fitting in, as if all of my choices are the “wrong ones”, because other people don’t seem to agree with them. For a long time, especially when I was much younger, the sheer mention of wanting to be a writer was often met with distaste, purely because this appeared to mean that I “didn’t want to earn money”, or that I wouldn’t be bringing anything “useful” into the world. For a long time, those feelings and other people’s opinions got me down, and I almost gave up on my dreams to find jobs in areas that I wasn’t interested in.

When it comes to my freelance writing, I’m glad that I managed to build-up the confidence to ignore the past naysayers (and even the ones that still look down their noses at me for choosing this path – you know who you are!), because at the end of the day, this is my life. And in my life, I make my own decisions, not anyone else.

However, when I was reading this article, it wasn’t my writing that leapt out at me, because to be honest, when reading the article (initially at least) I wasn’t thinking of myself at all…but then, this jumped out at me:

Oh my god, this really could have been said by me, and probably has been, a million times over. Yes, I’m 28 years old and no, I do not want to drive. Some people, I don’t think, will ever be able to understand this, but it’s just never been a desire for me.

Looking back at my childhood, I’m not really sure why. Both of my parents are drivers, and we’ve always had a car in the family. My oldest brother has had a car since I was in Year 3 at Junior School, and my other brother passed his test when he was eighteen. Nevertheless, whilst we have family photos of the younger of my brothers sat behind the wheel of my Mum’s car, pretending to drive it from a very early age, I just never had any interest.

Cars have been a huge part of my life. I have fond memories of my oldest brother coming home from University and driving the three of us over to the UCI Cinema in Hull, I absolutely loved those trips, and do kind of miss them now that we’re all older and moved on, in life. I have memories of the long drives to our family holidays in Wales, with tape cassettes of The Shadows, Andrew Lloyd Webber or some early nineties artist that I probably wouldn’t be able to name, even if I tried, depending on who was driving, and in which car.

Maybe I’m just happier being a passenger. Maybe I like train journeys too much. Or maybe the idea of driving scares the flipping crap out of me.

Honestly, if you asked me to write a list of the pros and cons of why I should learn to drive, the list of Cons would probably be an entire novel, whilst the list of Pros (albeit very good Pros) just couldn’t defend themselves against the Cons.

I’ve accepted that I will probably never learn. I was offered lessons when I turned seventeen, just as my brothers had, but I turned them down, and took the money instead. When I left Uni I got my Provisional Licence and people thought “yes, she’s finally going to learn to drive” and for a while this seemed to be enough to keep people quiet. But the truth is, I only got my Provisional so that I could use it for ID, since I was always being told that I looked young for my age.

At one point, my oldest brother (I bet he doesn’t remember this) turned around and said that if I learnt to drive he would buy me a car! To which I replied that if he bought me a car, then I’d learn to drive. Funnily enough, he wasn’t keen on that idea!

One of the reasons mentioned by the lady in the article, of why people think she should learn to drive, is one that I’ve had before as well, and that is that a car is all about gaining “independence”. But like the interviewee, I agree that it isn’t about independence at all. Not having a car doesn’t stop me from working. It doesn’t stop me from doing my food shopping, by myself. It doesn’t stop me from visiting people. Of course there a places that are more difficult to get to, but is that really the end of the world?

Another issue is, that when people talk about my not driving, they always bring a car in the equation. However, I don’t think I could afford to buy or even run a car, even if I did want to.

The point is, that I have chosen not to drive. I wish that people would learn to accept this. I know that they might not understand it, and I don’t expect them to, but harping on at me all the time, is not going to somehow encourage me to change my mind. In some way, it makes me even more adamant that I don’t want to drive.

Are there any other non-drivers out there, who genuinely never intend to learn? Is there too much pressure on learning to drive these days? Do you think that it is possible to live an “independent” life without a car? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂