Where I am Now

It has happened – I have finally got to the point where I can say that I have finished university and my time in education (unless I’ve failed my final exam and messed up all my coursework so will have to do retakes in August, but hopefully that won’t be the case). Finishing university has always been a huge milestone for me, and tied up with the fact that I have never not been in education, it’s a big one. When you’re in school, you dream of the day that you won’t have to be in school any longer. No more exams, no more essays, no more petty childish drama – and pretty much all three happen still in university. I say ‘you’, which realistically is a big assumption to make on behalf of everyone reading this, but what I’m trying to grasp at is that feeling of anticipating the next stage of your life. I, for one, had big expectations of what I would be like once I’d finished in education. I had hopes, dreams, and plenty of those pesky assumptions which I’m now having to reflect on.

The first big thing is independence, which in essence I have achieved in terms of living away from home during university months, doing my own washing, cooking etc etc. Yet when I was younger independence did not look like going down to tesco just before it shuts because you needed to put a wash on and have run out of tablets. It did not look like eating the same meal for three nights in a row because you want to save money. It did not like forgetting simple things every now and then because you’re tired, such as hot ceramic dishes do not mix with cold water. I know, I know, it’s all about living and learning and growing and bettering yourself, but that mantra does no good at 1am drying your bed sheets with a hairdryer because you forgot about the wash you put on.

One big thing I always thought about was what job I would have – and the dream job has changed many, many times. Becoming an author (and by that I mean a good author who has people who like their books so much that they can making a living out of it) has always been a dream job, but there are always others that pop in and out of my mind. First I wanted to be a professional horse rider, then a pop star, and then deciding I wasn’t a good enough singer so a songwriter. Recently, the dream is to be in publishing, and I certainly expected to have a job lined up and ready once university was finished. Yet, here I am, and all those hopeful publishing applications I sent out have been returned with a ‘thanks, but no’. You’re always told that you go to school, then to university, then you’ll get a job – but nobody really talks that much about the in-between. When applying for universities, no one told me about how, even if I do well and get a great degree, a job won’t be there waiting for me. They didn’t tell me that even if you work your arse off not only at your degree but at applying for jobs, it won’t necessarily mean you’ll get one either.

With the job dreams also come the social life dreams, and I always assumed that by the time university was over I would be in a committed, happy relationship with someone who could celebrate with me over all those job offers I had coming in. Again, Little Miss Assumption over here, but when I was younger that was what I thought was the most important. It was like a list of items to take the Life Goals Supermarket, and you would tick each one as you went along. Job? Tick. Relationship? Tick. What else was needed?

I knew I was going to forget a big one, and that is the dream I’ve had for a long long time, probably starting at about 10 years old – and perhaps the saddest one when I look back at it. What I wanted all through secondary school was beauty. And isn’t that just awful? Sure, sure, we can just argue and brush it off by saying that society makes us try to value what we’re born with (looks, parent’s wealth, lack of both) over what we earn for ourselves (perseverance, patience, kindness). And sure, we can all stand around and say that no society, we will not be partaking in that thank you very much. But at the end of the day, when I would go home at 12 years old and look in the mirror, all I would see was acne, a big nose, un-styled hair, and chubby patches all over. I’ve spoken a lot about acne and appearances in the past and how I now feel more confident, but I’m still filled with the memories of standing in front of a mirror and wishing that there were no mirrors in the world so I wouldn’t have to look at myself. Wishing that there was some way to exchange your face for a new one. Wishing that there was a way that meant I could live my life without anyone looking at me. And I wished for that day in the future, the day when I finished school for good, when puberty should have been and gone and left me unblemished, with clear smooth skin, great hair, and a body I was happy with. That was what was going to be my biggest marker of how far I had come.

But, as is the way of life, things didn’t exactly go to plan. Here I am, university finished, but just after the days of stress with my emotions all over the place and a few days of very hot weather, I’ve had another skin breakout. I have red spots dotted around my face like some flicked paint at me with a toothbrush. I’ve got black heads on my chin and nose, and something resembling Mount Etna on my neck. You stare in that pesky mirror and it’s pretty hard to think that you haven’t come that far at all.

Then I have to slap myself for being so melodramatic. Because I am not that twelve year old girl thinking that people won’t like me just because I have a spot on my chin. Like, jesus christ Eleanor, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it kinda hurts when you poke it, but it’s just a spot. There’s the magic of makeup if you’re feeling super downhearted but other than that, your face and your looks do not define you. Twelve-year-old me hardly knew how to write paragraphs, and here I am having just written a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic I love on top of my various other coursework and exam revision. On top of that I have worked every single weekend for almost two years now so that I can keep living in London and support myself. On top of that I have been going to different opportunities to make contacts and get work experience. And on top of that I’ve surrounded myself with friends who I love (and who assure me they love me back when I’m not being so ridiculously melodramatic).

And so, like most of these blog posts go, this has turned from reflection to being a self-affirmation that whilst all my hopes and dreams haven’t exactly come to pass, I’ve realised that they’re allowed to change a bit. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll be a bestselling author telling the story of how she almost let a pimple keep her from chasing her dream, and everyone will say, “Man, she was a melodramatic child”.


Independence and Rain

Independence is knowing that you have to make your own home.

Independence is realising that choosing who you live with is very important.

Independence is doing your own washing.

Independence is deciding if your meal needs vegetables.

Independence is hard.

I thought I’d seen all sides of London, whether it’s in lovely sun or chilly winds or the in between phase where it’s sunny but freezing, meaning you go out dressed in shorts and skirts and feel like you’ll lose a limb to frostbite. However today I experienced London in the rain, which seems to bring out the worst in people. Now not only do people shove past you without even an ‘excuse me’, but you’re also stuck with people with umbrellas that don’t care if they use it as way to push you aside. I’ve found there are three types of Londoners with umbrellas; first you have the tourist who is happy to drift along at their own place twirling around their umbrella like they’re in an adaption of Singing in the Rain as they are greeted by the infamous English rain. Next you have your everyday person with an average umbrella, fed up with the rain and wanting to just get from one dry place to another without having their feet soaked by vehicles driving through what seems like every possible puddle that can hit you. Finally you have the people with the obnoxiously large umbrellas – often who are men in suits that most believe are overcompensating for other *ahem* areas – and use their large shield against the weather as a tool of mass destruction, slamming into other people’s umbrellas and knocking them out of their way as they storm towards wherever they please to go, leaving carnage in their wake.

Another thing about the rain is that it really brings out the clumsiness in me. It started off just sliding through the tube station, my shoes slipping on the wet surface, then it progressed to almost face-planting the floor of the jubilee line tube in the busy hours of a Monday morning with all the commuters watching with keen eyes, hoping for a spectacular fall for Monday morning entertainment. The grand finale was stepping off the bus with my Sainsbury’s shopping into the rain and as I walked along I tripped, dropped the umbrella and my bag split. As my lettuce rolled away from me, I attempted to gather up my food and rain shield (which was futile at this point) and looked up angrily at all the Londoners who refused to make eye contact or help me.

However, I think the worst part of today was being stopped by someone from a charity. Now before you jump to conclusions and click the ‘Unfollow’ button, hear me out. I’m one of the few people who actually make an effort to stop and listen, knowing that charity is a good thing (duh) and that the people selling charities to you have been rejected more times than you ever will. Unfortunately, as a student, there is no way that I can afford to give away any money – I’m struggling to get by as it is. This is why, when I’m stopped, I immediately tell them that although I can listen, I may not be of any help as I don’t have any money. This guy, however, wasn’t having that. I won’t name the charity because that would just be unnecessary, but he continually said ‘Oh, you have no money, do you?’ and ‘Even though you have no money’ et cetera et cetera. Sigh. Even after saying ‘I’m a student’ he still wasn’t having it. Only after all his bitching did he ask how old I was, in which I told him 18, and he said that I was ‘useless to him’ because I needed to be 24. Well, you should have started with that information shouldn’t you?

18 Feelings Everyone Who Lives In London Knows All Too Well

That’s my entry today for my ‘London Chronicles’ (aka blabbering on about my time in London to all of you lovely people). Hope you’re well and enjoy the weather!