Lessons Learnt From 2017 | Festive Thoughts #1

This past year has been a mad one, don’t you think? I know how cliche it is to say this but it has honestly gone so fast – I don’t think I can even process the fact that 2017 is soon to be over!

To be totally honest with you, this year has been full of extreme highs and lows. And although it’s been a strange thing to go through, 2017 has provided me with so many learning curves and lessons to take along to the new year.

So what better way to celebrate the fact we’ve made it through another year, then to share what this one has taught me?

SELF – CARE IS HARD SOMETIMES

Contrary to what Instagram will tell you, self – care isn’t always face masks and Lush products. Of course it can be this, but there is so much more to looking after yourself then the luxury stuff and I think that’s hit me hard this year.

Sometimes, self – care can mean letting go of old friends who are no longer serving you or make you feel good, or sometimes we can lose friends when we put ourselves first. Both are painful and difficult situations to go through but are so worth it in the long run.

2017 taught me that I need to get serious about my self – care and I need to put myself first, or else I can’t be there for anyone else.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT, GODDAMMIT!

On a similar note, this past year has taught me that I need to practice what I preach when it comes to mental health and looking after yourself.

I am often very public about caring for mental health and I am the first to encourage my loved ones to take care of themselves. But for the longest time I didn’t take my own mental state seriously – and how that’s come to bite me on the arse this year!

2017 taught me that, regardless of how you’ve been in the past, you do have a mental health and it is something that needs to be taken seriously. Take care of yourself, be honest and seek help if you need it. We all struggle sometimes.

HARD TIMES = GROWTH, BUT OH HOW IT SUCKS!

Can you tell that this has been a little bit of a difficult year for me? 🙂 But as I said in the beginning, I’m actually feeling quite grateful for it all, as it’s allowed me to grow and learn so much.

Because this year has been so full of extreme highs and lows, I’ve learnt that you only really grow during difficult times. It’s those times that allow you to really get deep with yourself. You’ll learn how you cope, what triggers you, what makes you feel good and so on. But even though I know how beneficial these hard times can be, it doesn’t stop them sucking and it doesn’t stop the negative impact is has on me in the current moment.

2017 taught me how to cope better with hard times, how to lift myself back up and the signs to look for when things start going downhill again.

SOMETIMES YOU NEED THE DULL MOMENTS IN LIFE

Like I keep saying, there’s been some extreme highs and lows this year. One of which was my graduation in July, which was definitely a high! I had worked so hard for so long to get to that moment and although it was wonderful, and I still can’t believe I have a degree in a subject I love, life suddenly got in the way again.

I felt so underwhelmed for such a long time. After all that hard work, effort and fun I was now back at home, working in retail and, along with a bunch of other obstacles, I’ve found myself feeling like a failure for the past six months or so.

But being out of education and being away from creative/productive work has allowed me to relax and get a grip on my life again. University was a wonderful experience for me, but it also came with it’s difficulties and I now understand that I’ve needed some time away just to live. To get back in touch with myself, so to speak.

2017 taught me that there is value to every season of life. Comparison certainly is the thief of joy and just because your journey differs from those around you (or online!) doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Take things at your own pace and stop being so hard on yourself.


So there we have it! This has been a bit of a personal post and basically a summary of my 2017. How was yours?

Happy holidays!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

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The ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ Book Haul: A Showcase

As I’ve already discussed I have recently graduated from university and I am currently still trying to get into the swing of a new life. I’m living with my parents again, in my childhood home, and I have recently started a new job. There’s a lot of things I’m trying to wrap my head around.

What’s a bookworm to do when there’s all this going on?

You already know how much I love books and how much I have relied on them in the past to allow me to escape, figure things out and so on. So it seems kind of obvious that I’ve been buying a lot of them! However, this time around I’m returning to some of my old childhood favourites- because is it really a life crisis if you aren’t stuck in the past?

Here’s a handful of the books I picked up on a recent second-hand shop and, as you’ll be able to tell, the majority of them are children’s. But for 10p each, how could I resist?

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Pictured
Cookie: Jacqueline Wilson

Opal Plumstead: Jacqueline Wilson

The Longest Whale Song: Jacqueline Wilson

Animals: Emma Jane Unsworth

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging: Louise Rennison

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: J.K Rowling

Now the odd one out in this list is, of course, Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth which I picked up purely for the quote by Caitlin Moran on the front. I love Caitlin’s work and thought I might as well trust her opinion. Plus it was only 10p!

I might have mentioned it before but Jacqueline Wilson was my favourite author growing up and whenever I find one her books that I don’t own, going cheap I have to buy them. Yes I’m twenty one, but I’m sure I’ll still give them a go.

And finally, I picked up was it probably at least, my third copy of Harry Potter. I have owned this book a couple of times in my life but (prepare yourself kids) I have never read any of them!

As a kid I missed out on the whole hype as my brother and I weren’t really interested. But recently I have started watching the films with my boyfriend and I wanted to give the books a try to see what I’ve been missing.

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Yes, the crisis is definitely in full swing! But I’m going to really enjoy reliving my younger days with these books and getting lost in all the nostalgia.


What was your favourite childhood book? Do you ever revisit it?

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Here’s What No One Tells You About Finishing University

The time has finally come: I have finished my three year degree. I am no longer a student; I will no longer be attending university.

Life has been pretty crazy for the past few months (read: past year) and I always imagined that as soon as university was over, my life would get back on track and everything would be exactly how I wanted it. Oh bless past, naive me!

Don’t get me wrong, I am constantly flooded with relief now that everything is finished and handed in, but I didn’t account for the continuing stress, worry and general sense of unsure that’s still there. And that’s the thing- no one seems to tell you what it’s like finishing university. Sure, we’ve all heard the success stories and probably witnessed the glorious pride that third year students have when they’ve finished, but there’s loads of other things that I’m experiencing right now that I did not expect.

So allow me today to be the person to heed a word of warning. Finishing university is an amazing achievement and this is a time of totally celebration and relaxation, but there’s also a lot of weird stuff that goes on too.

THE MOURNING PERIOD

The past three years have passed by in what feels like a blur. Everything has been going at like a hundred miles an hour since I clicked that ‘accept offer’ button on UCAS three years ago. I actually can’t believe that I have finished my degree and will (hopefully!) be graduating next month! All of those years of hard work, stress and tears have come to a close and will hopefully all be worth it in the end.

As everything has just flown by, I can’t seem to reflect properly on my experience over these past three years and that’s making it hard for me to accept that it’s over. One minute I was working my arse off and living on my own and now I’m back in my family home with literally nothing to do. It’s a very strange situation and I know I should be taking full advantage of this chill time, but I can’t help but feel a little unsettled.

All of the routines I created for myself through my life at university have suddenly dissolved and no longer exist; I am trying to settle into living at home with my parents, after having my own freedom and independence for so long and although I know I have nothing to do, I can’t shake the feeling that I should be doing something productive instead of binging on daytime TV.

It’s taken me a long time to realise that I actually need a little time to kind of mourn the fact that I am no longer a student; that this part of my life, that has been such a major part of it for so long, is no longer there. I will no longer have that kind of lifestyle that you grow so used to over the course of your degree and that is a hard thing to accept and then try to change.

BURSTING THE BUBBLE

One major thing I have realised since moving home and being surrounded by people who actually have normal lives (read: have jobs/careers/families to care for, etc) is that university is such a bubble. The life you live when you’re at university is so far away from what ‘real life’ actually is.

Of course, moving out and living on your own can teach you some important lessons that will be valuable when you enter ‘real life’, but at university you’re surrounded by people of a similar age and everyone is in the same boat. When everyone behaves and acts the same, or in a very similar manner, it is very hard to see that this isn’t actually the norm. That’s what university is. It’s a total bubble and I for one got so caught up in it for three years that I almost couldn’t imagine life outside of it.

So when I left, the bubble burst pretty hard and it’s hit me that the life I’ve made for myself over the course of my degree isn’t really fit for purpose, or something I can continue now I’m no longer in that space.

I now need to build new routines and new attitudes and basically have to construct the structure of my life once again, from scratch. I’m finding this pretty difficult at the moment, if I’m being totally honest, as I get very rooted in my routines and find them very hard to break. But I’m hoping that now I’ve addressed the issue (mourning my past life as a student and learning that what I experienced in this time wasn’t ‘real life’) I can start to move forward and get back on track.

IT CONTINUES

Even though I no longer have any deadlines or commitments, I can’t seem to shake the horrible feeling that I have something to do that’s constantly hanging over my head. Of course I have hobbies and little projects (like this blog!) that I want to get on with, but those are things I want to do for fun for now and have no real deadline or consequence.

The feeling of having something to do is something that all students will recognise and is something that we’ve had over us for years and years. No wonder I’m having a difficult time adjusting to the fact I literally have nothing to do anymore! But I just wish that it wasn’t getting in the way of things right now.

It seems that all of the stress, anxiety and just general worry that I’ve gotten so used to experiencing is still present, even though my lifestyle has totally changed! It’s kind of annoying, more than anything, as now is is the first time in what feels like forever that I can actually just chill out and take some time for myself, but I still feel guilty for doing so.

I know that, as with everything, it’s an adjustment period and things won’t always be like this. I just need to be patient and allow myself some time to get through it. I feel bad for being so unproductive, but I need to stop being so hard on myself. Major changes take time to adjust to and so I need to allow myself some time to do just that.

Nelson Mandela


So this was kind of a little update on where I’m at right now. Hopefully it may help some of you who are also in the same boat, or maybe it’ll allow you to prepare yourself for when the time comes for you. I am hoping to take some more time for blogging now that I’m free, but as always bare with me a little bit.

If you have any experience with finishing university (or any kind of education) and have some tips for me, please let me know! I’d love to hear your input. If you’re currently still studying, I wish you all luck with everything!

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials: (Relevant/University Posts)