Another year gone

Every year it seems that almost everyone I know is ready to leave behind the year and begin the new one. They start reeling off the usual resolutions and promises to themselves to eat healthier, join a gym and stop drinking so much. While I’m looking forward to what 2018 has to bring, for the first time ever, I don’t feel quite ready to let go of 2017.

It feels strange thinking that this time last year I was getting ready to embark on what was to be the best four months of my life, backpacking around South East Asia with my friends. And while I feel sad that I’ve got nothing as exciting planned for 2018, it’s fantastic to look back at the year I’ve had. It’s unbelievable how fast the year has gone, but as it turns out, time really does fly when you’re having fun!

As well as it being a fun year, I also feel as though I’ve learnt a lot in 2017, so I thought I’d round up a few.

The unfamiliar world really isn’t as scary as you think

Before getting on that plane, I was absolutely terrified of flying by myself to an unfamiliar country where not everyone speaks my language, and I remember worrying that everyone around me was going to try and mug me. Of course, a few days in I soon realised that this was not the case at all and that in general, most people are good and want to help! This goes for lots of countries of course, and it’s sad that the news is constantly making us feel as though the world is out to get us. And while there is still a lot of bad in this world, there’s always a lot more good outweighing it.

But you still need to be careful

When I first got back to England, I felt pretty confident and safe being back in familiar territory, surrounded by friends and family. Yet it’s easy to become naive and forget that danger is still out there. I recently moved back to Sheffield, where I hold fond memories of university life and the city has always felt like a second home to me. However, I recently experienced a pretty scary incident with a strange man, who catcalled and chased me through one of the underpasses. I’ve never ran so fast in my life and it’s safe to say that the incident left me pretty shook up after. Luckily, I happened to run past a van full of police right around the corner, who were so helpful in helping me to file a report. They even drove me around the area to try and find the man, before dropping me off all the way to the door of the pub where I was meeting my friends. It upsets me how much this has knocked my newly gained confidence and has made me realise how vulnerable I still am. However, it’s really reassuring to know that the police force are really understanding and keen to help.

No one’s life compares to yours, so you shouldn’t compare yours to theirs

I feel like this is something I have to continually tell myself every year, yet it’s something many of us are often guilty of. With apps like Instagram constantly showing us pictures of our tanned friends travelling the world, it’s easy to wish your life was like theirs. Even when I had the privilege of travelling for a few months, I ended up being envious of my friends who were travelling for a over a year. It was hard to come back to reality and know that they were still out there experiencing incredible places. Yet I’ve also had friends tell me how jealous they’ve been of my travels, and so I keep stopping myself to think about how lucky I’ve been to experience a few months.

You will always find a job, even if it feels as though no company wants you

As expected, I had some pretty bad holiday blues once I was back in England and I soon got pretty down when I was job hunting and struggling to find work. Eventually I secured a temp job at Nottingham Trent University, which I really enjoyed. Sadly it came to an end though, and I was back to job hunting. At first I felt quite positive, as I secured several interviews after months of applying. When I didn’t get job offers after the interviews however, it really knocked my confidence. As anyone who’s been in that situation can tell you, every rejection really hits you hard, especially after you’ve put so much effort into an application and interview. You start to wonder if you’re really good enough and you take it very personally. However, as I was down to my last two interviews, one of them offered me a job back in Sheffield where I was keen to move back to. Suddenly I had a hectic couple of weeks finding somewhere to live and  getting ready for the new job, but that just made it ever more exciting! Now, I’ve moved in with some lovely housemates and have found a job I really enjoy going to each day, so it’s important to remember that you will get there in the end.

Setting goals for 2018

So after an awesome year (despite a few lows), I’m welcoming 2018 with open arms. I think I’ve learnt to like myself more throughout 2017, so I won’t be adopting the ethos of ‘new year, new me’. Instead, I’ve just set a few personal resolutions, which I fully intend on achieving!

  1. Complete Veganuary (and see where it takes me) – As you may have seen in one of my previous posts, I went vegan for a week in summer. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy I found it and so I’ve decided to try a bit longer this time and go vegan for the whole of January.
  2. Learn to do 1-5 pull-ups – I’ve been a regular gym-goer with a keen interest in weight training for a couple of years now, yet I’ve still never been able to do a single pull-up without the help of an assisted machine. So I’ve set myself this goal to see if I can finally achieve one.
  3. Be on my phone less – This one is slightly harder to measure objectively like the other two, but it’s something I’m keen to try and keep up. When I was travelling, I enjoyed the freedom of not being on my phone all the time and when I came back, I continued to not be on it very much. Yet after a few weeks of settling back into my old lifestyle, I found myself on my phone more and more. So I’d like to try and take this back a notch.
  4. Visit two countries – Of course the temptation of further travel is constantly niggling away at me, yet I want to stick with a job for a little while yet and save up some money. However, I’m keen to plan two trips away in 2018, whether it’s a long weekend or an action-packed two weeks.

Happy New Year!

 

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The Twenty-Something Predicament

Since graduating from university, I have found myself entering a terrifying limbo between student and young professional that I term ‘the twenty-something predicament’. This position, occupied by so many other graduates my age, leaves you feeling younger and almost more naive than when you were innocently panicking about what colour cutlery you should buy for the start of university.  It’s the dawning realisation that there is no longer a logical next step planned ahead for you, and the even scarier realisation that you will now be viewed by other people as an ‘adult’.

Yet this ‘adulting’ still feels like you’re trying on a jumper that is two sizes too big, and you find yourself still looking for an older, more adulty adult to tell you what to do and how to do it.

You feel like an inbetweener; suspended between the student life of daytime napping and week day hangovers and the adult life of council tax and responsibility.

Arguably, the scariest realisation after graduating is the prospect of working a low paid 9-5 job that is far from the exciting career you had in mind. You begin to panic when family members and old school friends ask you the dreaded question:

‘So, what are you doing now?’

At first you try to justify your low paid admin job with ramblings of travelling and saving plans, in an attempt to convince the questioner (and yourself), that this job is only temporary, and that you haven’t spent near to 2 and a half months trolling through countless job sites to find that perfect graduate opportunity.

Even when you do apply for these graduate jobs, or get as far as an interview, you find yourself hearing echoes of:

‘You don’t have enough experience’.

This encapsulates the endless paradox faced by all young people looking for work – you need experience to get experience. Throughout school, it is drilled into you that you need to get GCSE’s in order to get A Levels, in order to get to university and get a degree. However, no one prepares you for the reality of the working world, where well paid jobs often require both a decent degree and bags of experience. The result? Herds of inexperienced graduates with first class degrees stumbling into the world of work, often unable to bag themselves a basic office job let alone a permanent graduate opportunity.

You soon realise that your degree does not land you with an amazing job straight out of uni, but that you need to work your way up the job ladder just like everyone else. It leaves you feeling as though you are not quite ready to fill the shoes of the ‘young professional’ role, especially when just a few months ago you were eating supernoodles out of a pan in your onesie at 2.35 on a Wednesday afternoon.

And that is the twenty-something predicament; the quarter life crisis; the ‘what on earth am I doing now’ scenario.