Showing posts with label 2020. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2020. Show all posts
Girl sitting in a cafe

If everything went according to plan, on the 21st July, I would have walked across a stage collecting my degree. On my feet would have been a pair of Jimmy Choo’s I had been saving up for, for this exact moment. However, no part of 2020 has gone according to plan and instead I spent the day as any other day. 

It’s been three years since I moved to Portsmouth to start my Journalism degree and it feels absolutely surreal to say I made it to the end. I haven't shared my whole journey online but you can see highlights on Instagram and Twitter (@aoifecaitrionax). In my first year of university, I felt very lonely and I struggled to make friends. Like anyone, I signed up to almost every society I had a remote interest in. First year is all about trial and error so don't be afraid to make mistakes. 

Second year came along and I was stuck living in a house that lived on drama and animosity. It wasn't very fun or healthy but I learnt a lot about myself during that time. The main one being how to stand up for myself. Academically and career wise, I was starting to get ahead and had articles printed in local news websites. When final year came around, I promised myself that this would be a year I could be proud of. And I am. Despite the ups and downs, which as a uni student you will know, I have met some amazing people who are now my friends and made memories that will stick with me for life. 

Aside from the academic side to university, there are plenty of important lessons to learn outside of lectures and seminars. So here’s what university really taught me and what I wish I knew before starting:

Use your time wisely. And by that, nothing is waiting around for you. At university, you have a lot of time on your hands when you’re not in lectures, seminars or working. Use that spare time productively. I spent a lot of time in my first year blogging and making videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, I slowed down in second year and lost motivation in third year. I regret not believing in myself more and sticking to it. I really recommend using your spare time productively by taking up a new skill, hobby, or searching for internships and grad schemes. 

Do something you’re passionate about. University is a lot more fun when you’re passionate about the subject you’re studying. I wrote essays on feminism, did presentations on the fashion industry and put together video packages which I had a lot of fun doing. I really enjoyed the work and the skills I was learning with it. There were a few late and stressful nights but I wouldn’t change a thing because I was still doing something I loved. I've spoken to my friends and other people about it who all agreed that you should be studying something you're passionate about and interested in. It will be a greater experience and you'll enjoy it more.

Make the most out of the University services. There are so many services that universities offer these days and I'm pretty sure, you're not even aware of half of them. I struggled a lot when I moved back home for lockdown and my anxiety was at an all time high. My lecturer recommended that I reach out to the wellbeing team to get some additional support. To be honest, I don't know if I would have finished university without the support and weekly session from a councillor. Most universities also offer academic support with essays or career support. We pay a lot of money attending university so we may as well take advantage of what it offers.

Neon light against flower wall

(Money management) How to have fun on a low budget. Regardless of whether you have the maximum grant or the lowest grant, we all struggle with our money at some point. In your first year, you make bad money decisions and by final year, you’ve decided to go vegan because it’s cheaper and save all your money instead. Social life is a big part of university. Clubbing at uni has never been my scene but I still went out for lunches, dinners, day trips and everywhere else with my friends. This all adds up. However, by the end of the whole experience you've learnt how to have fun on a low budget.

It's not a race but it's not a marathon either. Your grades are not everything at univeristy. Sure, they're important because you need to pass to move up a year and you want a good degree classification. But, they're not the be all and end all. Lecturers are looking for how you engage with the content. My highest scoring essays were down to referencing different scholars and sharing ideas and theories. You're not in a race with anyone because you're not competing with them. Getting a degree is something you do for yourself and a personal journey. 

Good luck! And if you've already been, what did you learn at university?

Love, Aoife xo 

Girl reading The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

The last few months have not been easy. Being in lockdown has been a challenge for us all but for some of us, it has been an even bigger battle. One thing that came out of my recent therapy sessions is that I need to be kinder to myself. I need to learn how to be confident in myself and not see my weaknesses as completely detrimental. 

    Since then, I've been on a little journey of self-confidence in learning how to identify unhealthy behaviours and make them healthier. I think we all need to not just be kinder to ourselves, but learn how to  instead. We can be kinder to ourselves by treating ourselves to a bar of chocolate or a new Dior bag. However, that's only short term. By 'learning', we can create long term healthy habits. Here are four tips that can help boost self-confidence:

Be proud of what you’ve achieved- How often do you stop and reflect on what you’ve achieved? I can’t remember the last time I did that and that’s an issue. We continue to achieve every single day and that should be recognised. I don’t think about what I have overcome or really acknowledge all the amazing things I’ve done in the past three months. And they’re a pretty big deal. I just graduated with first class honours, woah! As humans, we tend to have the habit of chasing one thing after another, never really feeling fulfilled at what we’ve already done. When you have a moment, think about everything you have done in the past week, month or even year. The most important thing is that you can smile about it and think, I did that.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself- Do you know what’s human? Making mistakes. No one is that perfect and if they are, they’re lying. In order to be kind to ourselves, we have to allow room for errors. We’re going to get things wrong from time to time and that’s how we learn and overcome it. By putting so much pressure on ourselves, we’re missing the opportunity to learn and grow from experiences. And Rome wasn’t built in a day. Things take time and they’ll take as long as they need to.

Rupi Kaur The Sun and Her Flowers

Accepting you don’t have complete control over everything that happens- Anxiety often stems from a lack of control. In situations where we’re not in control, we often feel anxious. I get waves of anxiety that tend to last a few weeks to a few months. I guess it never really goes away but I’ve learnt how best to manage it, if you will. One thing I always get told is to focus on what I can and am able to control. This can be quite difficult in some situations especially where we feel helpless. Take the coronavirus, we can’t control that or being in lockdown but we can control how we choose to act and use our time now that we’re at home more often than not. We can control some things and we can’t with others. Finding a balance is really helpful and focusing on what we can control.

Treat yourself- I’ll admit that use those two words a lot normally. I only realised the impact of not treating yourself when I starved myself of that. Pre-lockdown,  I’d treat myself by going shopping or buying artisan doughnuts (so so good). But since we went into lockdown and I was struggling with everything including really bad acne, I stopped. I stopped feeling worthy of myself and stopped being kind to myself. One way you can treat yourself Covid friendly is to buy flowers. Flowers can make all the difference by brightening up the space and making the room feel happier. My Nan said to buy flowers for someone when they’re sad and that’s a good lesson to remember. So, whether it’s your favourite doughnut, flowers or something pink (my happy colour), remember to treat yourself and do things that make you smile. 

Love, Aoife xo

Happy new year!! I hope your new year is going as great as mine or if not, greater. Normally when a new year and a new chapter has started, I typically set myself a list of resolutions which I vaguely try and follow throughout the year. However, I entered the new decade full of so much hope and happiness that my resolutions turned to goals. I wrote myself a list of things that I wanted to aspire this year with the key one being chasing my happiness. 

These goals are also habits that I’d love to develop over the course of the year.

01. Complete my wind-down journal // I didn’t buy much in the Boxing Day sales -shock, I know- but I did buy a wind-down journal to fill in every evening. There are 365 pages in the journal and it requires only five minutes of my time in the evening before bed. I’d love to write in it every day and be able to read all my achievements at the end of 2020.

02. Stop wishing time away // I’m that person who sits doing nothing wishing for it to 5pm so I can get ready to meet my friends or for time to move a little faster so I don’t have to sit in a boring lecture or chat to someone, I’m not interested in chatting too. I’m graduating this summer and time will most definitely go by quickly so wasting time away really shouldn't be a habit I stick to. 

03. Believe in me more // I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that I need to be more confident in myself but you can probably guess it’s a lot. One habit I want to develop this year is to stop putting myself down so much. I am capable of a lot of things that I don’t give myself credit for. I also let other people’s opinions dictate how I feel about something. Personal development is something I always want to work on so let’s hope that this year I can say more than just I found myself.

04. Read more physical books // I read a lot of Ebooks on my phone. One thing I’d love to do is to start reading more physical books. I have a whole shelf full of books that I’ve never read so it’s probably time I start one of those before buying some new books or going to the library. I’d also love to read some more of the classic novels like Little Women. I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and it was both beautiful and sad.

05. Make Wednesday mask day // Or any other possible day in the week if Wednesday isn’t available. In my first year of university, I dedicated Wednesday as mask day where I’d give myself a little pamper in the evening. I can’t remember why I stopped but I did and my skin is often calling out for something extra. My Dad bought my this Avocado Nourishing Hydration mask from Kiehl’s and it's motivating me to mask up.

06. Make my bed everyday // Beds look so much more inviting when it’s all made up. I’ll admit that at university, my duvet and pillows often gets thrown about but this year, we’re going to change that. A tidy room is a tidy mind. It can’t hurt to put them on my bed nicely.

07. Become plant-based // I’m sort of in the middle of developing this habit. For a few months now, my diet has consistently been plant-based with the odd bit of meat and meat products here and there. My goal is to become completely plant-based.

08. Go to the gym more/ take an exercise class/ go running // I admit I’m one of those noncommittal gym people. I have a membership and go when I feel like it which can either be twice a week for a month or not at all for three. There's a weekly pilates class at my local gym which costs me £2 if I want to go. I'm going to aim to attend weekly

09. Wake up early // Some people have the ability to wake up at 5 am every day and have the most productive day. I have come to the conclusion that I may never be that person but I can at least try like waking up at 7am instead of 10am. It's true what they say about waking up early. There's a lot you can accomplish before lunchtime when you wake up early. 

10. Take myself out on dates // The other day I went to Wagamamas with my stepsister and saw this woman who was sat by herself. She was sat drinking some wine and reading her kindle. I'd love to have the confidence to take myself out to the cinema more, to go into restaurants and sit alone, or to go on a day trip somewhere.

What's a habit you'd like to build this year?

Love, Aoife xo