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)

Introversion: Learning & Accepting

Realising I was an introvert was a journey that took longer than I could have ever imagined. And even though I’m finally getting towards the end, I still struggle to accept it sometimes.

Being the centre of attention is not really my cup of tea, if I’m honest, and it never has been. Of course, should my time to shine for a small while arise, I’ll of course make the most of it! But generally I prefer the days when people don’t notice what I’m doing; when only a handful of people listen to what I’m saying. As someone who gets embarrassed- note embarrassed here connotes going red, stammering, sweating and just a general sense of ill comfort- very easily I don’t like to have attention because in my experience one (embarrassment or attention) cannot be present without the other.

At school I was pretty bookish and quiet (labelled a teacher’s pet until the day I left sixth form and that sentiment is still with me now as I finish my final year of university) but I was never an exceptionally quiet kid and I think that’s why it took me so long to discover where my energy goes. My introversion is something that has only really come to a head whilst being at university. It’s this strange time in my life where socialising has been considered a priority. As someone with a history of only having a handful of friends who were pretty low maintenance, as we could survive on seeing each other at school and didn’t need much more, getting to grips with these new expectations has been tricky. It’s something I’m only starting to get to grips with now.

Introvert:  describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energised by time alone.

Extrovert: describes a person who is energised by being around other people

Spending time with people is something that takes away my energy and leaves me feeling very tired afterwards. And by spending time with people I mean everything from having a class with people, actual social occasions like parties or going for coffee to even mindlessly watching TV with my flatmates. I’ve found that in recent years my energy levels when around people seem to be getting lower- or maybe that’s just because I’m spending more time with others.

Either way, university is often an exhausting experience for me and while I love being around my friends and flatmates generally, it’s important that I have time to recharge.

BEING RUDE

As I’ve grown more aware of how much being alone can benefit my mental health and generally make me a better person to be around, I’ve also grown aware of the issues it causes to those around me. I constantly say no to social events because I need that time to recharge (this is something I aim to work on as it’s not really the best thing. But more on that later); I often hole myself up in my room while at university in order to be by myself and I find that if I don’t have the time to recharge I’m just a horrible person to be around. I’m cranky, snappy and just not interested in what’s happening and that’s just as bad as not being physically present.

But as rude as it may be, I’ve eventually learnt the value of looking after myself first. Because if I don’t take care of myself, there is no way I am going to be present around other people. So although it may be bad for the short term if someone like me disappears for a bit, just have faith that when we return we’ll be better than ever.


Materials (Or How I Recharge):


Speak soon,

Rachael.

*affiliate link used

The Current State of Affairs (Ft. Votes & Protests)

With the current states of affairs, it’s not difficult to feel as though all hope is lost. It can sometimes feel like to world is ending, with no one understanding the actions of their peers; with protests to battle against decisions already made and with fear being a common emotion among any old enough to understand what’s going on.

Some major decisions have been made both here and overseas that do not reflect either the view of the people or attitudes deemed acceptable today. Issues regarding equality (in all sense of the word) are rising, just when we getting confident that these old ideals were ridiculous and redundant. And although it seems as though all our problems can be pinned on one leader or another, we need to accept that as the public we are not innocent in any of this either.

It’s easy to point the finger at that orange-faced man on the TV or your government representative, because they’re the ones in charge right? But in these states of democracy we need to see that it is our actions, our views and our desperation that has put us here.

The news in America was obviously a great shock, but while others turned to anger and fighting I found myself feeling sad. I was sad for those who were so desperate to see change that they turned to archaic opinions and frightening predicaments; I was sad for the many who were hopeful but still didn’t do enough; I was sad about the lack of education and the lack of interest some people demonstrate in these important affairs. I am now sad about those who live in fear.

But at the end of the day, a vote was made. Although it may not be the vote you wanted it is the vote of the majority (including 53% of white women) and in a democratic society these changes must be made. This man should rule; that country should leave.

“democracy: (noun) a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”

synonyms: representative government, elective government

Although it may not be the vote you cast (and as long as you cast your vote then your job is done. If you didn’t then I’m afraid you can’t really speak out) there are ways that you can make a difference and still ensure that your voice is heard. There will be some useful links at the end of this to help you, but on a smaller scale just by speaking out and remaining compassionate you can make all the difference.

The views of your current leader mightn’t (and hopefully don’t) reflect your views and this may make you lose hope when people agree with what you see to be wrong. But don’t be disheartened. This is your chance to educate and expose some new ideas.

Although protesting is obviously the most public (and seemingly most common right now) way to express your opinion, this is something that should only be done if you have a specific case in mind.

It’s all well and good blocking streets to campaign against a leader or a vote that has been made (and in many cases this is successful and generally just a good thing to do to show your support) but it would all work a little better if we were more specific about what we don’t like. In the case of Trump, there is nothing you can do to get him out of the leader seat. So instead of putting all your energy and time into campaigning for the impossible, aim to fight against his policies or the things he’s said that aren’t okay.

trump-1

Instead of being disrespectful, because even if you disagree there is still a large majority of people who thought the opposite (and even though they may be wrong they are still people and should get your respect), aim to educate. Use your campaigns, your protests and your posts to explain exactly what has happened and why it’s wrong. Be clear and honest as for some people the idea that these beliefs are wrong is just not possible. Talk about their children, use their futures as an example; make it understandable and be open to answer questions. But also be prepared for backlash and don’t push back. Instead remain calm and kind- you don’t need to stoop to that level to win an argument. Besides winning shouldn’t be your aim here, educating and exposing what is right so that people can understand the consequences of their actions should be your goal.

If you are going to protest, by all means go for it. But it’s best to be specific (stick to an issue like racism, sexism or immigration) and for God’s sake do your research. Again people are going to ask questions so use this time to educate and open more people up to new ideas. This is something you can only do if you’ve researched. Remain passionate, otherwise what’s the point in campaigning if you don’t care, and compassionate. Some people will still think they’ve done the right thing or some mightn’t even understand. They are still people. If you’re campaigning against the ill-treatment of others whether for their colour, gender or ethnicity then make sure you represent the right way to treat people regardless. Even if they disagree with you, or call out rude things.

Now is the best time for us to rally round, help each other out and generally just stay supportive. There is already too much fear and anger in the world without us adding to it. If things are happening that you don’t agree with, speak out. But please bear in mind the advice given. If you see people fighting for change, help them. But above all remain kind and respectful to your peers and the people around you, because that’s the one thing we don’t have enough of right now.


Materials:


Speak soon,

Rachael.

Important Things To Remember This Festive Season

This season is meant to be the happiest of them all. I mean the month of Christmas and all the other festivities; a time when we’re supposed to be surrounded by friends, family and wonderful food, what’s not to love? But for many people it’s just another month in the year. Or for some, even with all the festive cheer, this month still has it’s struggles and it;s difficulties.

But because we’re all meant to be so merry and bright (sorry) this month, it tends to make our dark days darker as we feel like there must be something wrong with us. To be sad, anxious or just generally not having the best time during Christmas? How can that be possible? Don’t worry, I get you.

If you are really struggling, at this time or any, please speak to someone. But for the most part, here are some important things to remember when things get a bit much this season:

  • Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

This is something I have mentioned a few times in various posts and something I try to remind myself on a daily basis. But I think it’s especially relevant during the Christmas period. It seems that everywhere people are having a perfect festive season; their families are so close and get on so well; they have enough money to buy amazing presents for everyone in their life and even the fact that people have time off is something we can get envious of. But it’s important to appreciate what you have going on and basically ignore everything else. Whenever we look at what other people have in comparison with our own, nine times out of ten we come out on the bottom. We get so busy obsessing about how we aren’t as good as the other person that we lose sight of everything we have and all the wonderful things going on with us. This one doesn’t have a quick fix and I’m still struggling on it, but please spend more time on what you have and less on other people. It’s such an unhealthy exercise to out yourself through.

  • Social Media Is A Highlight Reel

Similar to what I’ve just mentioned, it’s so easy to feel disheartened when you’re bombarded with images of perfect everything 24/7. Now that it’s Christmas we’re seeing images and videos of the ‘perfect’ way to do it, from the best decorations to expensive gifts to even constant happiness. With social media it can often feel like you’re the only one left out, but you need to remember that it’s a highlight reel. Every post on any site has been chosen carefully (in most cases) to highlight something. We all do it. Everything is edited and cut to only show what the creator has chosen to allow us to see. Why wouldn’t you just show the best parts of yourself or your day if you could? Which is all well and good but when it’s a constant thing it’s easy to forget that real life just isn’t like that. Not everyone looks flawless, feels 100% happy or is having the best day all of the time. Just because that’s what you see on social media, doesn’t make it true.

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  • Have Realistic Expectations

We all do it every year, I know. That thing where we big up Christmas and New Year and think we’re going to have the best one ever. We try to do so many things and make everything perfect that on the day nothing is good enough and we’re left disappointed. The key to this is be realistic. You don’t have to be negative, just think about the Christmases you’ve had in the past and the simple things that made them great. Do not try to replicate them or try to plan anything too much. This is really hard for someone like me to do, but it’s really important to try to ‘go with the flow’ a little bit this season. With all the stress and excitement things are bound to go wrong. With people coming and going so much, plans aren’t going to get stuck to. Plan as much as you need (ie. get your presents in before the big day!) but don’t put too much emphasis on everything being the best. Instead focus on having a good time, spending some time with loved ones and taking a break when you can.

  • It’s Only One Day

This is something I think we all forget in the excitement and stress, but Christmas is really only one day of your life. Of course it’s nice to make a big effort and join in with the excitement all month long but you need to remember that it’s only a day. When things feel like they’re getting on top of you and you’re struggling to do everything at once, take a breather because it’s only a day. 24 hours. That’s it, then it’s over. Now I’m not encouraging you to drop everything, become a total Scrooge because ‘fuck it it’s only one day’ but I feel like we all go a bit crazy over the month of December and it is a bit daft. There’s plenty of time to see your family and friends, to chill out and have a laugh. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you have to do everything at once.

As always I hope this helped any of you that needed it. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and I hope you’re having a good day.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

What Is Self Care Anyway?

Following Mental Health Day this week (Monday 10th October, FYI) I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole ‘self-care’ thing.

It’s become somewhat of a trend on social media and we’re often surrounded by images of Lush products and bubble baths. Which of course is a part of it, but it isn’t always pretty and so Instagramable.

We all have a metal health just as we have a physical health. It just looks different for everyone.

THE BASICS

self-care 

noun: care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.

It’s pretty self explanatory but it does what it says on the tin. Although seeking help and support from other people is brilliant (in fact the Mental Health Foundation claim that talking to other people is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. You can read that here) you can also take control and look after yourself too.

You can do this in various different ways, which I will discuss in a minute. But the main thing to remember is you have control. When you’re struggling with mental health issues, whether that be a diagnosed problem or not, it can sometimes feel like you have no control over yourself.

But this idea of self-care puts the control back in your hands and reminds you that no matter how bad it gets, there is always something you can do for yourself that can help you along your journey.

(If you are struggling I will put some useful links at the end of this post to help)

HOW TO HELP YOURSELF

Self-care isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it takes more than pampering yourself or working out. A lot of the time self-care covers things like getting yourself out of bed, ensuring you’ve washed your face and brushed your teeth. It’s the effort a lot of people have to put into doing the daily things that most of us don’t even have to think about.

Self-care can also be the bigger things in our lives that may be harder to deal with but have a great impact on our mental wellness.

If things haven’t been feeling to great for a while, Mind, the mental health charity, recommends:

  • Assess your current situation
  • Look at the relationships you currently have
  • Ask for help
  • Take note of what make you happy or sad
  • Spot the warning signs

(You can read more about these here)

These are normally the ‘bigger’ things that have an impact on our mental health. With these it may take a little longer to notice a positive effect. But trust me (and Mind) they’re so effective.

You first need to evaluate what you already have going on in your life and see how these could be effecting your mental well being. Once you recognise the issues, you should talk action to either remove them or change them. Hence why this can take a little time.

THE ‘SMALLER’ THINGS

I don’t really like to downplay mental health or any kind of health issues really. It’s such a personal thing that no one can really judge (or at least try not to anyway.)

However, alongside those bigger, slower steps outlined above there are some simpler actions you can take to improve your mental well being on a day-to-day basis.

The following are things to do when you’re having an ‘off’ day:

  • Pamper night
  • Go for a walk
  • Read a book
  • Play or listen to music (a personal favourite)
  • Chat with friends/family
  • Eat well or cook
  • Do something good for someone else (ie. make them a meal)
  • Watch a movie or TV show

You can check out some of these in more detail in a post I did a few weeks ago.

Also see Mind‘s and the Mental Health Foundation‘s tips.

The key is to try to distract yourself. Take your mind of what is currently happening, even just for a little while.

If you are struggling please seek help either from friends or family or one of the professional services linked below.

Remember that you are not alone and everyone is going through struggles of their own. You can do this.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

USEFUL LINKS

Mind Contact: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/ 

The Samaritans: 116 123 (it’s free)

BEAT (Eating Disorders): Helpline: 0345 634 1414 Youthline: 0345 634 7650

Childline: 0800 1111

Other useful details: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

 

 

 

 

Becoming Unstuck: How To Get Out of A Rut

It’s so easy to get stuck into a rut and feel like there is no way out. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, being ‘stuck in a rut’ describes those times when you feel like you’re trapped. When things aren’t going quite as you’d like but you can’t find any way to resolve that.

This is kind of how I’m feeling right now and I know I’m not alone. Although it seems like everyone and their mother is excited about Autumn (I too am one of those people) it is a difficult time of year and I think we forget that. The days are shorter, the nights are darker and things generally get a little low for a while.

It’s natural for us to feel a little crap during this change of season but it, of course, isn’t the best. We’ve all got things to be getting on with and that’s really hard to do when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

So for both you and me, here’s a little reminder of some basic things we can do to make ourselves feel better and drag ourselves out of this rut.

  • Go Outside

Walk.jpg

This is something that is going to get harder as the season goes on because it’s cold and it’s probably raining so going outside is the last thing you’d like to do. I know that we’d probably all rather be sat inside, cuddled up in something warm watching the weather from a safe place but getting outside is so important for your mental health.

It’s not hard to feel like you’re stuck in a rut when you haven’t moved from the sofa for a while. When you feel yourself getting low or agitated or generally just a bit ‘meh’ try to organise some time to go outside. Even if it’s a quick walk to your corner shop, those few minutes where you’re breathing in some (questionably) fresh air and moving about will make you feel so much better and productive.

  • Make Plans

Planner.jpg

We become stuck in a rut because it feels like there isn’t anything new happening. Everything feels the same, day in day out. I think it’s quite easy to forget that we can change that and we can in fact control our daily routines to some extent.

Although I’m about to advise you to make plans with your friends, your family, your flatmates or whoever you have around you at this moment I am really bad at this myself. I really do think that this is a super important step in getting out of a rut and I know that when I have something to look forward to, even if it’s just a simple movie day or going out for tea, I feel better but I’m really bad at it. I’m one of those people who will change their mind a million times about attending an event and then I’ll probably end up cancelling anyway (sorry!). This is something I want to change (and maybe something I will discuss in a later post) because I know how beneficial it is for me, and you, to go out and do things.

Having something to look forward to will help push you through this strange time and show you that it doesn’t always have to be the same story everyday.

  • Be Creative

creative

In her fabulous book, Big Magic, that I have talked about a million times, Elizabeth Gilbert said:

If I am not actively creating something, chances are I am about to start actively destroying something.

(You can find this quote on her post here too)

And damn can I relate to that. It’s something I’ve realised pretty recently but if I am not working on something, whether that be this blog or university work or even free writing,  I feel crap. I get irritated and stressed because I feel totally useless. And when I don’t work on anything for days or weeks on an end, those feelings get worse and worse.

Whatever your creative thing is, your hobby, past time or passion, try to work on that even if you don’t feel like it. When you’re stuck in a rut and you feel low, the last thing you want to do is be creative (I would like to quickly point out now that creative is a subjective term and can relate to anything from art to sports. You know what your thing is) but it can help you so much.

Force yourself to read, write, run, dance, draw. Whatever it is you enjoy, take even an hour out to do that thing and I guarantee you’ll feel so much better after.

As always I hoped this helped. What do you do when you’re stuck in a rut? I’d love to know.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

Four Songs To Ease Your Soul

I’ve done a few music posts on this blog (see here, here and here) and in each I’ve explained why I rely on music a lot. Whatever you’re going through, there’s probably a song about it. I mainly rely on music to boost my mood and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

It’s a strange, stressful time of the year and I’m aware some of you might not be in the best place right now. So here are four of my favourite songs to ease your mind and remind you that whatever the issue, you’re not the only one.

Listen To The Man: George Ezra

Listen here. This is such a wonderful, soothing song. It reminds us that “we’re so young” and we don’t need “a plan of what you’re going to do” despite what others say and sometimes we just need to hear that. Whenever I’m feeling stressed or down, I turn to this song and it calms me down instantly.

Cup Of Tea: Kacey Musgraves

Listen here. This song talks about the fact that we can’t be liked by everyone (“you can’t be everybody’s cup of tea”). As both a tea lover and a stresser, this song tells me exactly what I need to hear and reminds me to just enjoy myself without worrying about other people’s opinions.

Headphones CD.jpg

Deadlines and Commitments: The Killers

Listen here. The Killers are my favourite band of all time. I think everything they’ve done/do is just brilliant so I’m a bit biased. But this song in particular is so beautiful and Brandon’s voice is so soft and soothing throughout. I think this one will definitely appeal to the lonely souls who are feeling a bit lost right now.

What Do You Mean (Acoustic): Justin Bieber

Listen here. We’ve all heard the more upbeat version (by Skrillex and Diplo) and no doubt you’ve heard this one too. It’s the same song, but without the beat behind it which gives you a chance to focus on the lyrics more. Although this one might seem like a bit of an oddball for this list, I feel like the idea of someone no longer being around once we need them is something many of us, sadly, can relate to.

Let me know what songs you turn to when you want to calm down and feel better.

Speak soon,

Rachael.