finishing my masters in quarantine…

2020, mental health, student

Hello!

Everyone’s been effected in so many different ways by the corona virus pandemic , but as someone who is only a couple of years out of their undergraduate degree and trying to finish a masters degree, I’ve seen a lot of people who’s studies have been negatively effected by the virus.

Graduation ceremonies have been cancelled, deadlines have been shifted, ‘safety nets’ have been brought in so people’s grades can’t be negatively impacted, student loans have been spent on accommodation people aren’t living in and all in all, it’s been a mixed bag.

Post graduate loans are a joke so my last instalment came in at the beginning of April and more than half of it went on course fees for a course that’s been not cancelled but there’s no more teaching just a bunch of online tutorials and self teaching (which isn’t that different to usual… the whole course has been a joke but I could do a whole blog post on that on it’s own but I probably won’t in case they see it and decide to fail me lol). I’m really hoping for a refund otherwise finances are going to get really bloody tight in my house because I can’t get a job when everyone’s working from home and no one’s hiring so a little £2,000 refund would be lush.

Aside from finances, the whole thing has been weird – over my third year at uni in Southampton and the whole course at Oxford Brookes, I’ve worked really hard to develop a routine where I work on campus and I relax at home. It’s not always 100% solid but it meant that when I came home, I could almost leave my stress at the door and know that this is my place to chill.

Then everything closed and I had to completely rewire everything in my brain about working from home.

That was the biggest obstacle, but this was mid-March when it all kicked off. 4 of my 7 semester 2 deadlines had been pushed back to the end of April, with two more on May 1st and the last on May 7th. With about six weeks to work on these four big assignments. Once I overcame the initial ‘omg I don’t know how to work from home’, I flourished having something to focus on – I made myself a schedule, I did a little bit of work every day and I actually finished all four assignments 2 days before hand in and ended up having the big ‘four assignment hand in day’ completely off because I’d submitted everything by, like, 9am.

I thought my student life had been revolutionised – I had become one of those students I always envied and I was feeling very smug, I’ll be honest.

Then I crashed, my anxiety hit me like a truck, the two written assignments I had due for May 1st were a real ball ache and the assignment I had due on the 7th where I had to teach myself more about motion capture, animation, working with a group member who is currently at home in Poland all within less than 10 days? It all fell apart a bit.

I realised early enough in advance that there was no way I was ever going to be able to finish the animation project by the 7th and my uni is doing a ‘two week grace period’ extension with no questions ask, so that one’s still ongoing. But the two written assignments should have taken me a day, maybe a day and a half tops and my brain was in such a poor state that it took me a week, several edible rewards and a lot of coaxing from my boyfriend and my mum.

Because between corona virus, lecturer’s that either never give feedback (or are incredibly nit-picky) and the graduate job market as turbulent as it is, finding the motivation to care or to see a point in all of it is seems impossible. When they’re talking about the world taking possibly years to stabilise after this pandemic and the thought of starting a career and really starting adult life (saving for a wedding, house, kids etc) is just so big. The world feels too big and I feel so small and insignificant.

I wish I had a nice conclusion like “I suddenly realised XYZ and now I’m a-okay again!”. I got my two written assignments in, I’ve now got over two weeks to work on my animation and I’ve just found out that all my dissertation deadlines have been pushed back and there’s an option to delay the unit and pick it back up when uni is open again, so the pressure has eased a bit there.

My masters is ending in a way I never thought it would – this course has introduced me to four girls that I know I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life and we didn’t even know our last day at uni together was our last day. In theory we’re all due to graduate in Summer ’21 so we’ll all get to do that together but right now? It all feels very uncertain.

I have a lot of work still to do and I’m focusing on that as much as possible – giving myself a routine, trying to stay productive and fill my time with new skills and learning as well as working on my masters. I’m going to write a post later this week all about my weeks in isolation but uni wise, this all feels like it’s not real.

I really hope we get to go back to campus to work on our dissertations and I get to spend more time with the girls in the edit suite, gossiping and snacking more than working. I love being a student and whilst I now feel I’m definitely ready to move into a career and start properly making a life for myself, I loved the student experience and I’ll miss my commute to Oxford to see my friends.

It’s not the ending that any of us finishing our courses this year wanted, but we’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got. I’ve got somewhere to quarantine, I’ve got my boyfriend home which doesn’t happen this much ever, we’re financially stable (for now), we’ve got food in the house and we’re healthy. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all that stuff when your laptop charger’s broken and you can’t work on anything normally and you’re anxiety is bad and you’re putting on weight (you=me), but things are okay really and practising the gratitude will make things easier.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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May Goals 2020

2020, career, goals, student

Hello friends!

Somehow we’ve made it through an entire month in isolation/lockdown/quarantine/social distancing/however you’re wording it! A whole calendar month! I’m now approaching my 7 week anniversary since my partner and I started spending 24/7 together and we’re fine, no danger of us killing each other, but I might not fit through the door when we can finally leave!

Comfort eating aside, it’s time for some new monthly goals. Part of the reason I’m maintaining my routine of goal setting is because even though the world we’re living in at the moment isn’t normal, I still kind of want to pretend it is and that includes setting goals that I would be setting anyway!

Let’s crack on!

  1. follow diss plan – as part of one of the assignments I had to submit in April (4 on one day… thanks coronavirus) I had to make a schedule of how I will work on my dissertation project between now and potential hand in (who knows whether CV-19 will push it back) so I figure actually working on them is probably a good idea!
  2. drink 2l a day – hi I’m permanently dehydrated and I have been getting better, but I want to make it more of a habit and I have a reward plan! My true love and my addiction is coca cola – I used to have a really bad habit and now I’m quite content with one can a day. But if I don’t hit my 2l goal, no can of coke for me. Hoping this will help me be more consistent!
  3. apply for 4 jobs – it’s getting to that point of uni again – same as two years ago on my undergrad, I’m getting to the point where the end is near and I need to start thinking about my life as a masters graduate. I want to try and apply for one job a week, though I’ll be honest – I’m terrified of it. A year of being rejected from hundreds of jobs has just made me feel like getting a job is impossible, so please keep your fingers crossed for me!
  4. finish cross stitch – I bought one of those cross stitch kits from hobbycraft months ago and it was only when we literally get a government order telling us we can’t leave our house that I started it. Threading the needle was annoying because the embroidery thread is so difficult to use but even so, I’d really like to try and finish it this month! It’s more a symbol of making time for myself to do something creative without purpose (i.e. it’s not for YouTube or uni, it’s just for me).
  5. write 27,000 words – always setting myself creative writing challenges! In 2020, every other month in the run up to NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 30 days) and in May I’m aiming for 871 words ‘a day’ (though, no pressure to write every single day). I’m not sure what I’m going to write yet so that’s probably not the best start!

And that’s what I’ll be focusing on in May! The whole lockdown thing has made my anxiety take an absolutely nose dive in the past few days so I’m really trying my best not to get stressed by uni work and to maintain structure and routine as much as I can.

I’ve got it easy I know – I’ve got enough money, I don’t live in an immunocompromised household, I’ve got lots of time to work on personal projects, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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my COVID-19 ‘bucket’ list

2020, creativity, goals, lifestyle, student

Hello!

‘Bucket’ list might not have been the best phrase, because I’m optimistic about not having to fit all these things in before I ‘kick the bucket’ but you get the principle – I made a (very colourful and pretty) list of things to do while we’re in lockdown.

I’ll be honest, this whole coronavirus thing is starting to weigh me down a little bit – at the beginning it was alright, I had extra time to catch up on things and my boyfriend has been home for the longest time since he started work because he’s been furloughed, all my pressing uni deadlines were pushed back and Disney+ had just been released.

Now, it’s all sinking in that this is going to be our new normal for the considerable and not knowing when it will end is the bit that’s really getting to me. There’s so many ‘we’ll just see what happens’ and ‘when this all ends’ especially in communications about my masters, there’s talk of our dissertation being pushed back which would mean my course might not finish in September as it was intended to and I don’t know when I’ll be able to start full time work. And don’t get me started on how terrified I am about re-entering the graduate job market and feeling like I’m just going to spend a year unemployed again.

But all that aside! I was coming up with lots of ideas of things I could do to make the most of having extra time at home and I worried that I’d start forgetting them, so I grabbed a piece of paper from the printer and my coloured pens and I started writing them all down!

I thought I’d share them in a blog post because I’ve seen a few of these kinds of posts floating around and I always love nosying about what everyone’s planning to do and my list isn’t super ‘productive’ per say – it’s mostly creative things that I don’t normally get time to do so if you’re looking for some crafty-ish inspiration, here’s what I’m hoping to work on when (if) my uni work lightens up a bit!

– work on t-shirt blanket – I’m a super sentimental person who used to have a massive t-shirt collection so I’ve been collecting and cutting up t-shirts for a couple of years (though some of the t-shirts are 10+ years old) and this year I finally started sticking it all together. I’m at the point where I’ve finished the first side and I want to embellish it more – using some embroidery thread to secure some of the shirts down, sewing on some patches and some lanyards I don’t use anymore and full ‘finishing’ the first side before I start with the rest of the cutouts on the other side. I’ve already made a good dent in this project but I’ll need some serious patience and free time to start sewing on something so bulky!

– catch up with scrapbook and photo album – I’ve actually done this one! I had a moderate pile of stuff for my scrapbook and a huge pile of photos that took me two days to finish sticking in and captioning, but that’s all caught up so big tick there!

– start elephant cross stitch – I bought one of those cross stitch kits from hobbycraft a couple of months ago but haven’t made time to start it. I’m thinking as it gets a bit warmer and the six squares of patio outside our front door get a bit more sunlight (and uni work dies down a bit…) I can make the most of having some creative, relaxing and relatively simple to do. Though if I really enjoy it I’m going to have to head onto amazon and buy some more…

– try new recipes* (*if they have the ingredients at the shop) – so far the closest I’ve got is playing ‘Ready Steady Cook’ with the contents of the fridge but it’s been fun to have more time to cook but also to just shove something frozen in the oven sometimes too. If you have any yummy recipe suggestions please do let me know!!

the smiley potato stars on top of our beef hot pot was a real highlight

– use film/DSLR cameras – I used up all the film in my film camera pretty quickly and seeing as I can’t go get it developed anywhere, I’m not in a rush to put my next roll in. Though I’m planning to use my DSLR camera a bit more this week around the house and if I can actually get some decent photos maybe I can justify buying a better camera (with what money lol).

– start a new blog or YouTube series – this one I have actually set the wheels in motion! My mum came up with the idea that we should start writing children’s stories and making little videos on YouTube that we can send to my godmother’s kids. I think we’re both kind of hoping we can go viral or something but also we’re just going to have fun writing stories and making videos from 100 miles apart! I also have an idea for a new blog series but I’m going to keep it to myself for now!

– try some new at home workouts – HIIT/yoga/zumba – with so many creators and fitness companies doing live workouts and free months on apps, now is the prime time to get into a new fitness routine. But when you have a living room that can just about fit a yoga mat in if you move the coffee table (I don’t even have a yoga mat) and no garden (we technically have a little patio area but the neighbour’s garden is right next to it and I’m not here for concrete workouts) there’s a limit to what you can do! I’ve done a couple of Joe Wicks live workouts, I’ve tried a few yoga videos and I’d love to do a live dance class but with a boyfriend in a small hour and nowhere he can really go (and not wanting to do the class with him in the room…) I don’t think it’s an option. But I’m going to try a stretch workout from the Nike training app and I might try and get back into Couch to 5k if we’re still allowed to go out and exercise but it’s not a priority for me right now. I’ve managed three weeks of exercising twice a week and I’m pretty proud of myself!

– sort through stuff in alcove – another tick! The alcove is what I call my little cupboard in the bedroom where my dressing table and some of my personal belongings are. I went through all the shelves and sorted them all properly, put some stuff out for the charity shops and it feels so much neater and tidier now.

– keep up with uni work (develop and refine skills) – this one isn’t so much a goal as much as a necessity, but I’m hoping to use this time to really do the best I can on the assignments I have. Most of my assignments have been modified and they’re not the way any of us really wanted to finish this course but I’ve got a big calendar, I’ve planned out tasks to do most days (every day is a lot to ask) and although today I’m not feeling particularly motivated, even just doing a little bit means less to do next time I do some work, so trying to keep that in mind!

This time isn’t easy for anyone – I know I’m in an incredibly fortunate position to still have income, to not have too much to do and to have the luxury of making a ‘time filling’ list at all, but that doesn’t mean it’s not very scary times to be living in.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy and healthy!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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March Goals 2020

2020, goals, organisation, student

Hello!

I know it’s not just me but wow has March come around fast? How on Earth is it nearly March already? (Well that would be the natural progression of time, but that’s not the point)

With a new month comes new goals and a new chance to work on self improvement! Does that sound super pretentious? Hell yeah, but also not a bad thing to be working on.

This month my goals are a little heavy, but January and February was a mixed bag and it felt a little repetitive so I’m pushing myself. How well will it go? I’m not sure, but even if I make a little progress in each of these goals then it’s still progress! I’m getting better at recognising small steps of progress and celebrating them as part of the bigger picture.

Jumping straight in!

  • start planning my dissertation artefact – my dissertation isn’t due till September but I have to write a 5000 word essay and make a project, which in my case is 10 minutes of playable game and a 10 minute short animation. Neither of which I know how to do yet. But I want to start take small steps – come up with a game and animation concept, perhaps start writing a script for one (or both!) and maybe even start drawing some concept art. The focus is making a start on the project in some sort of capacity.
  • work on a new career plan based on the work I did in my PG Cert last year – my career and what I want to do with my life has been freaking me out since I had the shocking realisation that I don’t want to work in marketing. So I’ve booked an appointment with the careers team at my university and I want to use the professional development plan I made last year and redesign it to try and fit my new goals (or find some goals to fit anyway).
  • try FOUR new veggie recipes – I’ve been trying really hard to be more cautious about how much eating and get more veggies in my diet on both a ‘saving the planet’ and eating healthier point of view. But I’ve hit a bit of a stale mate so I want to try some new things! Maybe I won’t like them, but that’s fine – cooking is my time to chill and relax at the end of the day so I will enjoy the process of cooking regardless of the outcome. I’m starting next week by making a veggie tikki masala so if you want to know how that goes, probably check my instagram!
  • practice digital art – in the black friday sales last year I treated myself to a drawing tablet and I’ve used it precisely once since I got it. In line with the animation I have to create for my dissertation, I just want to practice drawing in a new way! Starting with some concept art would be beneficial on two of my goals and being able to tick two things off at once just makes my heart soar a little bit.
  • writing challenge – 18,000 words (581 words per day) – if you were following along last year you’ll know I set myself little writing challenges in the run up to NaNoWriMo in November (writing 50,000 words in 30 days!) and this year I’m doing the same. Writing has been my thing for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to lose the skill or the habit! I think I’m going to work on something new this month, but if you’d like to hear more about that just let me know!

And my two smaller goals that I’ve set myself for every month this year is to read at least one book (currently I’m above and beyond that and feeling very smug about it) and have a date night with my boyfriend, so they’re at the bottom of my list too.

This months goals are big, but I’m thinking of them as small steps in the building blocks to bigger things and as like the beginning of every month, I’m feeling fired up to achieve them.

Let me know your goals! I’m starting to think that I should find a way to set up some sort of consultancy business where I can make lists and help people with their goals and hold them accountable and stuff because I love making lists and goal setting so much. Is this a ridiculous idea? I don’t think anyone would pay for that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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what am I doing with my life?

2020, career, lifestyle, student

Hello!

The end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 has been confusing – outside of stuff going on in my personal life, I’ve been trying to figure out what comes next after I’ve finished my masters in Oxford. I’ve been working towards the same ‘career goals’ for the best part of four years but with a year of rejection after I graduated from my undergraduate degree and finding out more about the industry through job applications, research for a professional development course and starting research for my dissertation I’ve realised that actually, I don’t want to work in this industry that I convinced myself I want to be part of for so long.

And with that decided… what do I do now? I’m feeling incredibly lost about what I want to do when I finish my degree. I finish my classes in May and my dissertation is due in September, so over the summer I could start working in an industry that I really care about… if I could figure out what industry I want to work in (see ‘is too many passions a bad thing?‘ blog post…).

My goal for the year is to have a full time job by the October/end of the year whether it’s an industry job or an office admin job (which, feels more realistic but that might be because I’ve lost all confidence in all of my ability to do anything). But by then I’d also like to have more of an idea of what I want to do with the rest of my life.

But I know for sure that I am not the only student or person my age who isn’t sure what they want to do and feels intimidated by the future and the whole expanse of a career in front of them.

So here are my completely-non-academic, not-from-experience, might-not-even-work tips from me to you – one unemployed, confused twenty-something to another.

  1. Don’t fixate on your first career job being with a company that you want to stay with forever. People move jobs, people develop through different companies, people even change entire careers after 20 years in an industry so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to find the company that you never want to leave because let’s be real – they’re probably a big company that have a lot of competition and are more likely to take you on a couple of years down the line when you have more experience.
  2. Don’t get overwhelmed by being in a job that you want to stay in forever – people change careers. Someone can spend 20 years of their life being a geography teacher and then decide they want to be a writer. Someone can spend years training to be an actor or performer and end up wanting to be a nurse. Someone could go from being the biggest daredevil, stunt coordinator gymnast to working at your local supermarket. Things change, people change, industries change. You won’t be ‘stuck’ in whatever your first job is and don’t feel tied down by whatever your qualifications are (unless you want to be a vet and you’re a qualified hairdresser… you might need to go back to uni).
  3.  Stop trying to make your hobbies profitable – sure, we all want to do something we’re passionate about. But sometimes, hobbies should just be left to be hobbies; things that we do in our spare time just for the sake of enjoying them. Whilst it’s important to me to work in something that I’m passionate about, I’m only just learning that I don’t need to incorporate everything I love doing into my career.

And four – I should take my own advice.

Saying ‘don’t worry’ or ‘don’t get stressed about this’ is so easy but hopefully it can help to remind yourself that actually, these things aren’t the be all and end all and everything will work out in the end.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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February Goals | 2020

2020, goals, student

Hello!

These monthly goals posts have been a part of my blog for maybe two years now? They’re the posts I really look forward to writing every month and with that has come a lot of learning about reflection, setting goals that are actually achievable and seeing a lot more personal growth!

If I could make a whole career about coaching people to setting good goals then I’d be all over that.

Either way, February has rolled around really quickly this year – everyone seems to be talking about how long January lasted and I’m pretty sure I’m still in 2019 so I appeared to have missed that boat. I’ve always quite enjoyed January – a fresh new start where the resolutions are in full swing and everyone’s saying ‘Happy New Year’ until February! Sure, there’s horrible diet ads everywhere and it’s cold but the evenings are lighter and people start talking about Summer holidays!

And with that in mind, let’s crack on with the Feb Goals!

1. See if writing one blog post a week is better for my creativity

I’ve been posting multiple blog posts for years – in 2015 I blogged every day, in 2016 I blogged three times a week I think? Then at some point it went down to two and in this last month I’ve really struggled with figuring out what I want to write about amongst feeling like an utter fraud on the internet. So I want to see if not having the pressure to write twice a week but just once helps me feel more creative and less forced.

2. NO SPEND MONTH. (again). (no, seriously this time).

I did a ‘no spend’ month in January and generally I did okay – between some low moments and McDonalds cravings I didn’t spend too much in the first month of the year. But as my student loan dropped this week, two thirds of the money went straight to paying my course fees, some of it went to rent and I treated myself with a ticket to MCM ComicCon in May and now it’s back to no unnecessary spending.

Seriously.

3. Start Nike Training workout program at home

With a little shuffle around of our furniture and realising I really can’t afford a gym membership or classes, I’ve decided I’m really going to make an effort at home. I like the Nike training app and I’ve done the ‘Beginner Program’ a few times now so I’ve started it up again. I did a benchmark workout on Tuesday morning and I’ve got four weeks of workouts lined up if I can stick to them. I’m determined!

4. Start my t-shirt blanket!

I made a whole video about this blanket project I’ve been mentally-but-not-actually working on for years and 2020 is the year. This month I want to make a start. My goal is to lie the blanket out on the floor and pin the t-shirt cuttings where I want them to be by the end of the month, not necessarily to start sewing. That might sound like a minor goal but between university, ongoing dental struggles (I still have an infected wisdom tooth that is causing me grief) and maybe having a social life this blanket isn’t a ‘priority’, even though I really want to do it! If that makes sense. So smaller, achievable goals.

5. Plan my uni workload properly

Heading into the last eight months of my masters from this week, I’m being inundated with new assignments and deadlines and frankly it’s scary. But the only way to combat this is a lot of lists and prepared organisation! I’m in a good mindset of setting really achievable deadlines for myself, making realistic to do lists and having a calendar where I can see months ahead, hopefully meaning I can plan my assignments accordingly!

I think I’m being quite optimistic but we can but try!


As well as these five goals, I have my ongoing monthly goals of reading a book and having a date night with my boyfriend (we’re not very good and blocking out proper time together outside of playing video games together when we’re both home). In January I managed to read THREE books and we went on two dates nights so all round it was a good start to the year and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) maintaining it.

Especially with all my uni work, I think these next few months are going to fly by so I’m trying to live as much as I can in the moment and make the most of all the opportunities I have right now.

Feeling positive and motivated!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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January in my bullet journal

2020, organisation, student

Hello!

I’ve been blogging fairly consistently about my bullet journal for around three years now – I started in January 2017 and I’m now on my fourth journal and it’s something I love to constantly experiment with to maximise productivity and clear my head.

So I thought I’d show you what my bullet journal looked like in January – I’ve decided to stick with a colour theme per month so it’s very blue. My layouts at the moment are really working for me but there’s some bits I’ve already changed in February, so let me know if you’d like to see those!

Starting with my opening page! I knew I wanted to use my letter stamps but I wasn’t sure how, so the left page is one that looks a bit bare but I love how my January Goals look! And I’m pleased to say I’m on track to achieve all of them – I’ve nearly done my word challenge, I registered at the doctors, I’m eating mostly carb free lunches, I’ve made an alternative decision with the new blog I want to launch and I didn’t go too mad on spending this month. And I read THREE books and went on two date nights so pretty good start to the year!

Next is my finances – I was a bit hesitant about posting this page but then I thought actually… it’s not my card details! The only information this really shows is how many times I caved and went to McDonalds this month! I find tracking my spending like this makes me much more thoughtful about the purchases I do make (except those McDonalds…) and the ‘total spent’ really makes me think. By the time my car bills come out I’ll be on about £550 for the month and maybe that sounds like a lot, but compared to some of my finance trackers last year it’s bloody brilliant!

Then we have the content plan – I was clearly optimistic about how many notes I was going to make on the right hand side of the page but overall the layout of these pages has been fairly consistent. Though I am trying something new in February…

And then we’re onto weekly spreads – I’m not going to show you every week because they all have the exact same layout with different tasks to do. I picked Week 2 because it had lots of ticks if I’m being brutally honest!

The thing I find works best for my productivity is having to make as few decisions as possible so I don’t spend time worrying about which tasks are priorities, so having the long weekly to do list broken down into day by day tasks is really good for me. If I’m feeling a bit unmotivated and run down sometimes I’ll even make a schedule where I have an hourly timetable and set myself tasks for each hour and that works really well too! Not only because I know exactly how my day is going to look but also because if there’s a big daunting task that I’m putting off, I know I only have to spend an hour on it and often I finish it in that hour and it’s not as bad as I thought!

And to conclude – my spread for this week. I also have digital to do lists so I can access my daily lists on my phone but they’re based off this spread (but I can add additional tasks as they pop up, for example I just made a dentist appointment for Thursday!).

In terms of ‘monthly organisation’ I like to count the weeks where months overlap as the last week of the month rather than the first week of the following month. I don’t know why but it just makes my mind happy.


Whenever I write about journalling I always end up rambling far more than I anticipate, but I love talking about organisation so let me know if there’s any other posts like this you’d like to see!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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Netflix’s Cheer – so much more than cheerleading

2020, film, student

Hello!

So this week I binge watched all the episodes of Netflix’s docu-series ‘Cheer’. I’d seen loads of people raving about on Instagram. Firstly, it was absolutely beautifully shot – the quality, the storytelling, the individual stories bringing together a whole team, just magnificent.

But it was so much more than an insight to cheerleading.

When I was growing up, what I thought I knew cheerleading to be was pretty stereotypical – I was a dancer; ballet, tap, modern, hip hop, shows, performances, leotards, the lot. My view of cheerleaders was from Disney Channel shows and American High School movies – the blonde dumb girls who only care about popularity and dating athletes.

Then I went to uni and auditioned for the dance team – it was actually a dance and cheer team and whilst I wasn’t interested, I was impressed at what I saw at the first competitions we attended. Especially UK comps like Future Cheer showcased some truly incredible talent. (To be clear – I wasn’t a cheerleader, I did jazz and hip hop and competed just in the dance sections)

But the cheerleaders from my uni kind of fit the stereotype I knew – they were party girls and if you weren’t a party girl (hello, that’s me) they didn’t care about who you were and you didn’t have ‘team spirit’. The teams weren’t very well organised and as someone who was really passionate about dance, it was really frustrating. So that stereotype festered in my head – I appreciated that there were serious teams with incredible talent and athleticism out there but there were also a lot of stereotypical uni girls.

Three years later I’m sat watching this docu-series about Cheerleaders with tears in my eyes because of these amazing people and the progress they’ve made and I’m absolutely astounded by what they can do and the strength, skill and power they’ve worked for.

What I really took away from it was more of a personal discovery – I was driving to pick my boyfriend up from work, thinking about the show I’d just finished watching, and feeling almost jealous that I didn’t have that one thing that I’m passionate about. Everyone on the Navarro Cheer team had been cheerleading for years to learn and hone those skills and I have so many things that I love that I just can’t imagine being so driven about just one thing.

I thought maybe dance could still be my ‘thing’ even if I wasn’t a dancer. Then maybe photography/videography/cameras and stuff but I find the technical aspects of settings, hardware, software and so on really hard to retain. I’ve always loved writing, but I can’t seem to focus on rewriting my novel, I kind of want to learn to write for TV but I only really want to write for the DC superhero show ‘The Flash’. And on top of all that, regardless of what my ‘one passion’ could be I don’t know if I’m actually any good at anything to make it work.

All of these thoughts from a documentary about a cheerleading team from a community college in Corsicana, Texas.

These kids have inspired me to find a focus – to find something I’m passionate enough to dedicate my whole life to it. It might not be trusting a bunch of people to throw me in the air and be there to catch me or throwing myself across a mat pretending I can do backflips (which I definitely can’t) but it’s the drive to work hard to be talented it at the one thing I love the most.

If you haven’t seen Cheer, I wholeheartedly recommend it – it’s about so much more than a sport no one really knows about. Its discipline, facing hardships in life and finding family in the places you least expect. It’s genuinely heartwarming.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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having a 5 year ‘plan’… ish

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

With the amount of goals, organisation and planning posts I’ve written on this little blog, I think it’s relatively clear that I’m one of these ‘productivity’ types (even if being organised is actually procrastinating being productive). One of my goals for 2019 was to start a five year plan and get some notes on paper on what I want to achieve over the next 5 years. As I moved into my new bullet journal this New Year, I’ve started my ‘new’ 5 year plan starting in 2020 and ending in 2024 (where I’ll turn ~28~ and that is scarily close to 30).

But calling it a 5 year ‘plan’ feels a little bit more formal than my plan really is – it’s a double page spread in my bullet journal (though it might actually make more sense to make it digitally if you do everything else online!) with a grid split into five columns and three rows for the five years of the plan and three categories I plan my life in.

So I thought today I’d write about how I make my 5 year plan, what I’m learning in my second year of having a 5 year plan and where I think I’ll learn more in the future.

I started by making a grid in my bullet journal – as I said, 5 years across the top and three categories down the side. Three seems to be my magic number and having three categories works for my New Years Goals and I thought it would be useful to have those three categories match up, so mine are Professional, Personal and Home.

They’re pretty self-explanatory – in ‘Professional’ I put my career goals, at this point I am having somewhat of a career crisis and I have no idea what I want to do so this section is a bit quiet at the moment. But as I do more research into what I actually want to do and actually develop a career I can make more solid career goals but this section is probably the simplest.

The next section is ‘Personal’ – this is where I will detail my travel plans, any ‘life’ stuff like when I want to shave my head again etc. I’m still kind of figuring out what I want to put in this category but it’s for things that aren’t career stuff, kind of hobby related, travel goals and stuff.

And then the last category is ‘Home’ – this is where I put my plans for my life with my boyfriend essentially. Where we’ll live, what we’re saving for (house deposit etc), when we’ll get a pet, maybe a wedding or a baby? It’s another one of those that’ll get more specific when I have more of an idea about what my career will look like over the next few years but the baseline and the ideas for what I want to achieve is already set!

And that’s my 5 year plan! It feels like I haven’t described enough but actually, all it takes to make a ‘5 year plan’ (or ideas, which is how I prefer to think about it) is to write down 5 years and write down what you’d like to achieve in that time.

Now going into my second year looking at my 5 year plan, I can see what was a ridiculous idea and what is actually more achievable. I’ve learnt that setting ‘blind goals’ (such as “I want to have made this career progression” when I’m not actually sure what career I want right now) is not going to help anything and filling up space for the sake of it might make it look like I have my life together but it’s just unachievable words. This year, having an emptier plan is something I’m finding reassuring rather than intimidating – it’s a prospect of endless possibilities and not a terrifying emptiness (well, most of the time anyway).

As I continue to fill in my 5 year plan this year and start again in next year’s bullet journal and so on, I can only see that I’ll get better at goal setting and making them S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, or something like that). It’ll be less ‘get married’ and ‘try for a baby’ and more ‘pay X amount of the mortgage’ and maybe ‘Child A starts school’ – the next 5 years are going to be some of the biggest of my life and that is exciting.

But even talking about 5 year plans sounds daunting – the thought of knowing exactly what I want from the next stage of my life is a lot! But seeing the scope of what I could achieve is really motivating and helps me focus on the steps I need to achieve to be able to get there. 

If you’re wanting to take yearly goals to another level and get some longer term ideas down on paper but don’t know where to start, just start by writing down the years. It’s a lot less daunting than you think when it actually comes to it! Hope that helps.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals + January Goals

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

really want to start this post with a joke about ‘I’ve not written a post since last decade’ because really I’m the closet King of Dad Jokes but instead I thought I’d just tell you about it. I think that might be worse.

Either way! If you’re a close followed of this blog, you’ll know that I love goal setting, organisation and planning. If you’re new, hello! Join the party – I love goal setting, organisation and planning. To the extent that I lull myself into this false sense of security thinking I’m getting stuff done but I’m actually just writing lots of to do lists and not doing very much.

This is something I actually got better at in 2019 – I really reevaluated how I was productive with my time and I’m still figuring out what works best for me. This time last year I thought I was embarking on this amazing freelance digital media career (which fell through pretty much immediately) and now I’m working towards a masters degree, I have my own place with my boyfriend, I had a job and now I’m looking for a new one, I’m spinning a lot of plates and somehow they’re just about not falling.

Having looked back on my 2019 goals (I was going to write a blog post but I think personal reflection was more appropriate), I’m actually really excited about my 2020 Goals because I was inspired by videos by Doctor Mike and Hannah Witton to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals that are actually going to be relevant to me over the whole year.

So let’s try and keep this succinct – please do let me know your thoughts on goal setting! Do you like setting goals as they become relevant? Are you a fan of New Years, Fresh Starts? Do you make SMART goals or more ‘bucket list’ style goals? I’d love to hear all about it.

My goals are split into two different types – I have three categories (Professional, Personal and Home) each with three goals as well as 9 stand-alone ‘bucket list’ style goals. Here goes!

Professional:

  • Finish my Masters in Digital Media Production at Oxford Brookes University
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October
  • Learn website design

I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters (and the end of 2019 really gave it a good shot!) but this first semester has been a massive learning curve and I want to really make the most of my time in Oxford so next semester is going to be a bit more level headed.

Finishing what will be my third degree (BA Hons Multimedia Journalism, PG Cert Professional Development Planning and MSc Digital Media Production, thank you) should lead to being able to get a job and starting my career journey! I’m a bit nervous about this one, because this is what I anticipated when I graduated from my undergrad and I’m still struggling with incredibly low self-esteem about my worth in the workplace, but by the end of October I want to be working full time, even if it’s not in the industry I want to stay in forever yet.

And I want to learn website design! 2020 is my fifth year of blogging and I still don’t know anything about code, hosting or designing a pretty blog and that’s a skill I think will really benefit me. So if you know of any good courses or online tutorials please do let me know!

Personal:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week

I made some amazing progress with saving in 2019 and I was so, so proud of myself but moving, starting a masters and a personal crisis of sorts led to me using most of those savings just to pay bills so once I’ve figured out my financial situation, I want to get back on the savings wagon because it’s so satisfying.

Film photography is something that’s intrigued me for a little while – just before Christmas my dad revealed he had a bunch of film cameras that he was willing to let me have and after spending £10 on one roll of film I’ve been studying the manual and experimenting with lenses as much as I can. It’ll take the film being developed for me to know if I’ve actually learnt anything but I’m really excited to take this little camera on adventures this year.

And eating veggie has been on my radar for a while – last year when I was doing really well with healthy eating I was ‘veggie till dinner’ and when my boyfriend and I moved out of my mum’s house and he started being away a lot with work, I tend to eat veggie when I’m on my own because it’s cheaper and I love vegetables. But I want to learn to cook more veggie meals and experiment with more ingredients this year.

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please)
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account

Pretty simple – I don’t want to move in 2020. It will be the first year since I moved to uni in 2015 that I haven’t put all my stuff in boxes and had to settle somewhere new. But obviously it depends on income, whether they want to put the rent up after the first year and if the location is still relevant to what we need.

Travelling is always a goal and last year I got way too excited and overambitious about where I thought I could go. For Christmas, my boyfriend has said he’ll take me on holiday and I’m thinking a beach holiday in the first week of October just to CHILL after my dissertation is handed in but I’m a little blown away by the whole thing so advice please.

Lastly, I know I said I want to make a plan for my personal savings account but I actually have three (personal, joint with the boyf and a help to buy ISA). I think this amount might be a tiny bit optimistic but smart goals have to be measurable – I currently have £10 in there so only £490 to go? But for real, I really want to start saving for a house this year and any amount is a good amount to start.

And onto…

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November NaNoWriMo)
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal (not confident enough to share this on the internet yet, soz lads)
  • Get another tattoo!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket

Also maybe figure out a blogging and YouTube schedule but tbh, I want to keep it chill this year so we’ll see how that goes.

And that’s what I’m aiming for this year! I was going to do my January Goals in a separate post but I figured most of it will stem directly from these goals so I’m going to tag them on the end here.

January Goals:

  1. Write 9000 Words for Writing Challenge (I’ll be real, I didn’t twig that I wanted to do a writing challenge this month until the 3rd when writing this so that was a nice realisation)
  2. Register at the doctors – I’ve been collecting my anti-depressants from my home doctors at my mum’s house since I moved nearly four months ago so I really need to get onto this
  3. Find carb-alternatives for lunch food – a sandwich is so easy and what worked for me last year was not eating carbs or meat until dinner and I want to find a way to make this less boring. I don’t really like salads that much, I love couscous and roast veg but I can’t heat it up at uni. Need to do some research!
  4. Launch new blog…
  5. Spending ban – except food, bills and my boyfriend’s birthday

And so I don’t forget my two monthly ‘bucket list’ goals…

  • Read 1 book
  • Have a date night!

Now that is a long ass, self-indulgent post about what I’m hoping to achieve this year! But I find reading and hearing other peoples goals is so inspirational so let me know all about your goals in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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