life after my masters degree (in a pandemic…)

2020, lifestyle, student

Hello!

I think this might be the first time I’ve intentionally taken a month off blogging since I started in 2014! With my masters degree dissertation deadline looming and the dire state of my mental health (that I feel like I’ve mentioned too many times) I decided to take the pressure off just a little bit by not making myself feel I had to upload for a little bit.

I thought it would be a more difficult habit to break but in all honesty, it was nice to have a break! I’ve come back now excited to write again because I love blogging so much and I’m so ready to get back to what ‘normal life’ feels like for me.

So I finished my masters! I took a one week extension on my deadline because my stress levels were making me physically ill (lol) and it ended up that everything fell on November 5th – my dissertation deadline, a second national lockdown in the UK and my fiancé and I celebrated out 5th anniversary! I cannot believe it’s been five years but it also started the countdown of 2 years till we get married which is exciting. Our wedding contract confirmation from our venue came through the letterbox on that day too which felt very significant!

I spent most of the day formatting and double checking my essay and waiting for massive media files to upload so we didn’t get to celebrate too much, but we ordered Chinese just like we did on our first date and the next day we spent two hours together building Lego Hedwig which he’d picked up for 99p in Game a few weeks ago (it retails at £35!) which had mechanical flapping wings!

It may have come with a very simple instruction book that was over 100 pages long but we felt much cleverer than we are to have made something out of Lego that moves!

It was a great way to start life after masters. In the few days it’s been I’ve mostly been playing the new Pokemon Sword DLC The Crown Tundra with my Pokemon obsessed fiancé and doing all the little bits and bobs round the house I’ve been ignoring to give my little mental energy to my degree. The house is tidier than it’s been for months, everything is clean and I feel refreshed despite it being grey and rainy outside (though I’m loving snuggling up with my blankets inside).

Looking ahead, I don’t know what’s next. If the world wasn’t in a pandemic, I’d definitely be looking to get a job as soon as possible but 1) I imagine a lot of companies that would usually hire graduates aren’t hiring because they have to prioritise paying the staff they have and 2) I’m exhausted from this year. Finishing a dissertation in any situation is a huge mental and emotional toll but doing it when the world is upside down, the US election was taking days and my fiancé is still driving all around the country in high risk zones for work, I’m absolutely shattered and need to take this time to be gentle with myself.

Whilst I’m still recovering and trying to figure my body out, I don’t know what the future holds, which probably doesn’t help my mental health but I need to rest – this year has had a toll on everyone and everyone is handling it in their own way, I just need to find mine.

I am still looking for jobs, because I can’t rely on my fiancé’s income to pay for everything, we have a wedding to save for and I want to start my career! Most of the people I finished my undergrad degree with are two years into their careers and I feel like I’m a little late to finding my footing in the professional world (not that I am, there’s no one timeline). But I’m not going to spend all day every day looking for jobs when I know what a negative toll so many rejection emails had on me two years ago.

So right now? Life is very slow, I’m focusing on making myself a routine and taking care of myself because I’ve been ill for nearly three months now and I have to change something, because I never want to feel like this again.

I don’t know when I’ll get my degree results, I don’t even know if I’ll still be able to attend graduation in 2021 with the state of the pandemic, but I’m grateful to have finished my degree, I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and a partner who makes me feel like a million bucks, I’m grateful to have friends and family to turn to when I feel lonely and I’m grateful to have my health, whatever state it’s in, in a world where nothing is certain anymore.

Things are scary and uncertain, but the year is almost up, I’m seeing Christmas joy everywhere I look and there is hope for the future with the new President-Elect of the US – things will get better, just one step at a time, no matter how small.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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life after a masters; what’s next?

2020, career, student

Hello!

Just short of a year ago I started my masters in digital media production at Oxford Brookes University and in normal circumstances I’d be days away from handing in my dissertation, but with the pandemic my deadline has been pushed back by six weeks so I now have until the end of October to finish my dissertation and find a job.

And it’s mildly terrifying.

Last time I finished a degree I spent a year being rejected from probably over a hundred jobs and that had a massive impact on my already low self esteem, so subconsciously I think I’m really nervous about that. But I can’t just not think about what happens after my masters because I have lots of work left to do (like a lot of work left to do…) – although it doesn’t feel like it now, life will go on after October 29th and if I don’t think about it till then, it’s just going to make things more difficult.

What I need to happen is to jump straight into a full time job – although many of my peers from my undergraduate degree found companies they loved and still work with straight away, I’m not expecting that. I just need to get my foot on the lowest rung of the ladder and start climbing, however many steps it takes to get there (wherever ‘there’ is).

But with being so unsuccessful two years ago, I just don’t know how I’m going to get a job when I don’t feel like I’m good enough. After so much rejection, I feel like I just don’t know how to get a job, even though I’ve actually worked two retail jobs since then so I’m not totally unemployable.

It all feels so far away but too close simultaneously – I see so many people I know whether they be media graduates I studied with, people I went to school with or random people I follow online working their asses off to get what they want to achieve and I feel like I have the drive and the motivation but I don’t feel like I’m skilled enough. Every job spec I look at feels so overwhelming and unachievable and I’m not good enough at it.

But actually? I’ve done my fair share of working my ass off. I’ve got a Post-Graduate Certificate and I’m so close to finishing my masters at the most unorganised, least supportive uni I’ve ever heard of,  I live in a house with the love of my life, we’re saving for a wedding and a house deposit, I’ve got the best support network of friends I could ever dream of having and I have a whole future ahead of me.

Do I know where I want it to go? Absolutely not – there are lots of areas that interest me and I think I’d be happy in any of them. Is there a whole multitude of jobs and industries that I still don’t know about to explore? Absolutely – having grown up at an incredibly academic middle class grammar school, there wasn’t much outside of doctor, teacher, engineer, lawyer – very obvious jobs that you can find in a kids book. Multimedia journalist was beyond their repertoire. TV camera operator? Nope, they’d probably class it as ‘low skill’. Even photography was wiped from the A Level options when I was in sixth form because it wasn’t academic enough.

I am creative – I love words and telling stories. I love data – comparing analytics, noticing trends, making spreadsheets, graphs and lists. I love coloured pens and post it notes! I love answering emails and organising calendars. I love working with creative people that can bounce ideas around and come up with something incredible as a team. I love the idea of sitting in an open, comfy, modern office space and taking myself off occasionally, finding a Spotify playlist and listening to piano instrumentals while my fingers type faster than I can think.

I have good, employable skills. I just need to get out the mindset that someone needs to ‘give me a chance’, because there is something out there for me and I will earn it; I am not a risk.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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September Goals

2020, goals

Hello!

September feels like such a fresh start – a new school year, new season and a birthday for me! Though my goals this month are more building on goals I’ve set into motion in other months, I’m starting the month with a mix of a strange bout of anxiety that I’ve never felt before and a new found focus for finishing my dissertation (and kind of enjoying reading academically? Though I’m not very good at it!).

I’ve noticed a pattern in my 5 goals that they usually fall into three or four categories – uni, fitness, craft, writing (if it’s one of my writing challenge months) and then a spare! I often refer to my yearly goals if nothing immediately comes to mind for my monthly goals but I’m actually fairly on track with corona allowances, so looking forward to reviewing them all at the end of the year.


  • finish first draft of my dissertation essay

With two calendar months left to finish my dissertation it’s all beginning to feel very real. Granted I’ve had about five months with nothing else to work on but there’s a pandemic and there was so much pressure. But with my boyfriend going back to work and actually having some peace in the house, I’ve got myself a good little set up where I’m getting much better of actually working with more focus than I think I ever have before!

It’s a 5000 word essay so by the end of September I should be able to do that, considering my last goal of the month particularly! I’m going to make a plan with all the sections I have to include, how many words I expect to write in each section and what I want to achieve by what date at the weekend because having focused goals works really well for me! Any dissertation writing tips are more than welcome – I’ve never done this before!

  • get to week 3 of couch to 5k

I feel like I’ve not stopped banging on about Couch to 5k, but I picked it up again in July after trying it last summer and bar the last week or so, I’ve been running three times a week for the last 10 weeks or so? The C25K program is 9 weeks but I wanted to take it more slowly and at my pace.

But I’ve been doing week 2 for about 7 weeks now and I need to step it up a gear. This week I’ve reset my C25K app so I’m going to do week 1 again to ease back into it, maybe a couple of weeks of week 2 and then I want to get to week 3! If I spent two months repeating week 3 that’s fine – I don’t care how long it takes, if I’m still going running three times a week the consistency is more important to me than the progress!

Though I’ve hit lots of new personal records in Strava recently and it’s very motivating! I might do another post about running in a week or two so if you have any questions let me know!

  • visit new places around High Wycombe

We’ve been in talks with our landlord and we’ve officially renewed our contract for 6 months, which means we’ll be moving in April. We’re looking to move out of the town we live in – still close, as it’s where my boyfriend works, but hopefully I’ll be working in that time (I bloody better be!) so where we go depends on that. But I also want to explore where we live more! I miss small town life of where I grew up so somewhere more rural (but still really close to Hobbycraft Wycombe centre).

Currently I’m looking within about 10 miles of Wycombe but if I end up getting a job in London or Reading or Milton Keynes or somewhere we’ll look more towards one of those areas – it’s exciting to be moving and know that we can actually afford it this time!

  • learn to crochet

Over lockdown I’ve rekindled my love for cross stitch, knitting and sewing so I might as well learn to crochet too, right? I picked up some needles in Wilko relatively cheap and I got this Crochet Therapy book in Hobbycraft and I’m very much looking forward to properly putting some time aside to read and understand each exercise, calm my mind and learn something new all rolled into one!

  • writing challenge: 45,000 words

Every other month this year I’ve set myself writing challenges with increasing goals in ‘training’ for writing 1,667 words a day in the 50,000 word writing challenge that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Alongside reading through my old drafts of my book to write my notes for the new draft I intend to write in November, I’m going to be writing some nice, cutesy, fluffy fanfiction because I don’t want anything too intense while I’m trying to write a 5000 word Masters dissertation essay simultaneously!

The last couple of challenges I’ve done I’ve got into a good routine with my word counts so I’m hoping to figure that out again this month and use creative writing as a form of relaxation from dissertation writing!

And my recurring monthly goals remain the same!

  • date night
  • read one book

With my original goodread’s goal being to read one book a month, I maintain that minimum or one book a month and anything else is a bonus! I did finish six books in August though so I think I’ll manage this one!

I love planning out my little goals – I don’t know how interesting they are to read as a blog post for anyone who isn’t me, but I find it incredibly therapeutic! Maybe I should make it something I journal about rather than posting on the internet but that’s a debate for another time.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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why I’m setting monthly goals on lockdown | April Goals 2020

2020, creativity, goals

Hello!

These past few weeks have been absolutely mad, haven’t they? I’m now in my third week of isolation (though I’ve been out a few times to go to the shops for food because I don’t have any alternatives) and I was quite peppy at first, looking forward to time at home with my boyfriend and catching up on my mammoth to do list.

Now the motivation to do any uni work is drying up and the fact this is life for a few weeks, maybe months is starting to set in and my mental health is taking a knock, but I’m trying my best to stay positive – not putting any pressure to ‘achieve’ anything and trying to listen to my body and be gentle with myself.

But with that in mind, I’m still trying to maintain a routine of some sort and I’ve been setting monthly mini goals for upwards of two years now (just looked it up – I started in March 2018, so definitely two years!). These goals really help me focus and I love seeing myself making progress, it’s incredibly satisfying, so I’m going to try and uphold that while we’re all safe in lockdown!

With the COVID-19 crisis in mind, I’ve tried to keep these goals as relevant and achievable as I can. What everyone determines as ‘achievable’ is so personal – some people are still working, whether it be from home or as key workers, and these people are saints, some people are finding these times really difficult and getting out of bed and feeding themselves is a challenge, so please don’t compare yourself or what you’re doing to my personal goals because they’re just that – personal goals.

1. Workout once a week – it’s been one of my goals forever to lose weight, eat healthier and find a fitness routine I can maintain and thus far it’s not worked very well. However with all this time at home and so many amazing influencers offering so many workouts for free, now is the prime time for me to give them a go. But I’m not aiming to workout three times a week – although it doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s those kinds of numbers that always pile up on me so for now I’m starting at one. Depending on how the month goes I can adjust the goal from there but for now just one. I started on April 1st with one of Joe Wicks live ‘PE’ classes and it was tough but I did it!

2. No snacking – with health and fitness in mind, being home so much more these past few weeks has meant that all I want to do is snack. Bored? Snack. Thirsty? Snack. Need motivating? Snack. Dehydrated? Body is misinterpreting that as HUNGRY, therefore; snack. Having more time to tune in to my body, I’m going to try and learn what different feelings mean (it sounds pretentious but stick with me) – logically I want to snack because I’m restricting at lunch time, so I’m experimenting with having a more filling lunch to last me through till dinner. Being home and trying to go out as little as possible means I want to make our food last as long as possible so now’s the time to try and figure out for the sake of food efficiency and being a bit healthier!

3. Maintain routine and keep up with uni work schedule – to no one’s surprise, my masters (that was already incredibly unorganised and is in the process of being complained about) is right up in the air. My assignments are all being rewritten, unit’s are completely different and there’s a lot of ‘if the uni is open by X time’ being thrown about so it’s very uncertain and granted, two of my lecturers are absolute stars and are doing so much to try and make it work. For the sake of my mental health, I need to keep up with to do lists and trying to get something done every single day but I can see a future me where that is more challenging, so I want to adapt as I go along to keep up with the work I need to do so I don’t fall into a slump where I become one with the sofa. Little things like making an effort to sit on a chair at a table rather than the sofa (or my bed) make a surprising difference!

4. Work on COVID-19 bucket list with spare time – maybe ‘bucket list’ is the wrong phrase, more like ‘here’s a list of all the thing’s I said I’d do when I had more time and if I don’t write them down I’ll forget’. I’ve already done a couple of things on the list – I sorted out the stuff in the alcove and my tee blanket is very much in progress – but I’m making a big effort to manage my time to include things like these that are just for me and don’t serve a ‘greater purpose’ other than my personal enjoyment.

5. Use film camera up, take fun photos around the house – I may have jumped the gun on this one and used up all my film at the beginning of the week and now I’ve realised I can’t get it developed anywhere and I don’t want a second film just sitting in my camera for the sake of it, I’m not rushing to put a second one in. But I might use my DSLR more instead! The one thing that’s taking me a long time to get my head around is manual photography – I’m getting there but I’m still learning so solidifying those skills will help my film photography when I get back to it.

Whenever I write long blog posts like this I remember how therapeutic blogging is for me and why it’s something I’ve kept up for over five years. I’m considering working it into my schedule to write two posts a week again but ideas are what I’m lacking in! I want my blog to be meaningful so it’s finding the balance between the two.

Let me know what you think! I hope you’re happy, safe and healthy in these scary times and please tell about all your tips and tricks for this strange time in lockdown, quarantine, isolation, social distancing (and all the other phrases that are being thrown around).

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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December Goals 2019

2019, goals

Hello!

How mad is it that this is my last monthly goals post of the year? 12 of 12, 100%, The Closing Chapter of 2019.

The goals have been a mixed bag this year, but that’s a self analysis saved for my personal notes and/or a different post, let’s get onto the goals I’m setting myself for the home stretch of the year (and the decade but that’s a lot of pressure so not going to focus too much on it).

  1. Maintain sensible spending – for a solid 70% of November, I was doing really well with my spending – I wasn’t buying lunch at uni, I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need, no treats, nothing but paying for the park and ride to get to uni, food and bills essentially and the end of November hasn’t gone as well but I can definitely be a bit more careful next month, making allowances for Christmas.
  2. Masters semester 1 home stretch! I’m so close to finishing my first semester of my masters – I don’t have any results yet so I have no idea of my progress so far but I’m nearly there and I think it’s going moderately well so just have to maintain momentum.
  3. Start ideas for new writing project – I’ve been throwing an idea around in my head for a while and I want to get it down on virtual paper. I’ve been working on the same writing project for about two years and I’m starting to feel like I’m rehashing the same ideas without writing any of the other bits over and over again and I need something new to get excited about.
  4. Finish reading challenge – my November goal was to catch up but I was so flat out exhausted that reading was just too much. But hopefully I’ll have a bit of downtime in December and I really want to accomplish this goal this year, I’m really focused so fingers crossed for this one.
  5. Chill out – have evenings off! If I can make this work then my fourth goal will be much easier! I need to stop working before like 9pm – when I was at home and even in my third year at uni I had a really good routine where I would do all my work between about 9am and 5pm then in the evenings I could play video games guilt free and I’d like to get back to this kind of routine.

There’s nothing particularly adventurous or specific about these goals and they’re pretty similar to my goals for the last few months but I don’t see the point in ‘doing something a bit different’ when the things I need to focus on haven’t really changed. The point of these goals are to be functional, not interesting. I use them to push myself sometimes but at the moment? I’ve just found out I’ve got an infected wisdom tooth, I’ve got all my deadlines for my first semester of my masters due in about two weeks and I’m still trying to manage my retail job on top of that.

It’s getting there – 2019 has been… interesting, but let’s just say I’m excited for the fresh start that 2020 will bring.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I’m organising my uni work

2019, organisation, student

Hello!

Oh it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a chat about organisation hasn’t it?

Whilst living out of a mate’s flat and my car being in the garage, I feel a little up in the air and figuring out how I’m going to stay on top of my uni work is a little bit overwhelming at the moment but because it’s me, obviously I’ve made approximately seven lists and writing it all out will be helpful for me and hopefully for some other people too! So let’s jump right in.

1. Make a visual calendar

It’s probably as easy to buy a calendar but I’m all about resourcefulness and being able to design my own planners – I’ve made a ‘week per page’ diary like section at the back of my uni notebook and I find it much simpler to visualise when Week 7 is when I’ve got it all listed out in front of me.

I can write down when my lectures are, when my assignments are due, any formative assignments, plan when I’m going to do certain work by, self set deadlines and even put some social life stuff on there so I know which days to keep a bit clearer. This is basically a duplicate of what’s in my bullet journal but I normally only design my bullet journal spreads one week ahead so to have a whole semester works well for my visual brain.

2. Have a list of all your assignments in the order they’re due

It’s easy enough to know you’ve written an assignment down somewhere but I think it’s so important to know exactly what you’re doing (so you can ask your lecturer questions on things you’re not sure about if nothing else!) and when it’s due. From there’s it’s easier to self-set formative deadlines.

For example, if you have a 2000 word essay due, you can look at the due date, see how many weeks you have a plan ahead – say you want all your research collated four weeks before it’s due, you want to have a full first draft written two weeks before it’s due and all your appendices and references done a week in advance so you can send it to your mum and your mates to once over.

I won’t lie – I love the idea of setting these deadlines and I still end up writing most of my essays the night before they’re due. But I’m a post-grad now so I’m hoping to take the mistakes from my undergrad and learn.

Though most of the learning I’ve done so far is ‘pick a practical course so I don’t have to write essays’. It’s working out for me.

3. Don’t plan to spend a whole day doing uni work

I mean, obviously everyone is different and I know I spent a lot of my secondary school days doing all my homework on a Sunday but now, I personally find it better to do one task a day interspersed with other things I need to do or more fun tasks.

At the moment I’m having to watch a lot of pretentious high brow foreign films and read articles, but rather than spending one day at the weekend watching three films and reading four dissertations, I’d rather spread it out over the week. Making sure I plan to do other things like catch up on the Circle, write blog posts, go for a walk into town for food shopping etc makes the uni tasks feel less heavy and overall make me feel far more productive.

4. It’s all about balance, give yourself a break

No one is productive every day. Nah, I’m not having it. I don’t believe it. I’m a busy, productive, organised person but I still have days where I can’t bring myself to get out of bed or binge watch YouTube on the sofa convincing myself I can ‘do uni work at the same time’ when I know it’s not true.

Find a balance and be kind to yourself – if you’re feeling stressed, bogged down and reluctant you’re probably not going to do any good work anyway so let yourself relax and come back to it another day, or maybe even a few hours later.

Obviously, the balance is the key bit – if you’re having these days more than maybe twice a week, reaching out to your lecturers or the welfare team at your school or uni might make you feel better to have shared the problem and those people can help you put plans in place to help you make those tasks easier.

I started school in the year 2000, my first year without education was in 2018 and in 2019 I’m right back at it with my MSc. I know myself pretty well and I’d like to think that I’m doing it somewhat successfully getting medium-high grades all round, but I don’t think we ever stop learning. We never finish figuring out how we learn best, how we work best, what ‘routine’ works best for us. Continuing to grow and develop can be daunting, but it’s exciting too.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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new beginnings | diary 8

2019, lifestyle, student

Hello!

September has been a whirlwind and I can’t believe it’s nearly over – it’s not gone quite to plan, the whole ‘moving’ thing hasn’t really happened at all, but there’s a lot of amazing life things that happened or are happening this month so I thought I’d collate into one nice succinct blog post.

~ turning 23 ~

No, having a birthday doesn’t feel all that different but I don’t know why it felt important – I think because there’s 9 months between my boyfriend and I it means I’ve been mentally preparing myself for being this age for so long and now it’s here it doesn’t feel real.

Mentally, I still feel like I’m 19/20 and being this far into my 20s just feels wrong – I’m dealing with stuff for my car or talking to letting agents and in my head I’m thinking ‘do they have any idea how naive I am about all this?’ and it just feels like I’m pretending. But I think that’s what adulthood is meant to feel like.

I’m all about new starts – I love a Monday, I love New Years and I think that’s why birthdays feel so significant to me. It feels like a new chapter.

~ going back to uni ~

This was always going to be a big change – having decided when I finished third year that I didn’t want to go back into education and I’d ‘make it on my own’ I then spent a year faced with rejection and heartbreak and further reinforcement of my incompetence in being ignored for literally hundreds of jobs. It was about May time when I decided to take matters into my own hands and apply for the masters I said I wanted to do at the beginning of third year to steer my career away from journalism.

In the last week I’ve felt so many almost-overwhelming emotions about whether I’m doing the right thing and whether I can actually do this but I’ve met some amazing people and I’m more driven than ever to build the career for myself that I really want. I can have a dream but it’s not going to come true by itself and I’m going to work my ass off for it.

So I’ve had my first lecture and I have homework to watch pretentious film student films and think of critical analysis, but I’m going to make this year work for me and 2020 is going to be a different story to 2019.

~ moving to Berkshire/Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire? ~

I’ve spent the last week and a half driving between three counties pretty much everyday and not only is it a very different driving scene to where I’m from, but the whole ‘moving’ thing has been a drama.

I feel like I’ve mentioned it about three million times, but we were all set to move into a flat in Reading and then three days before the move we get an email saying the flat is not safe to be lived in and our move in date is pushed back by two weeks. Cue nearly a week living in a hotel in High Wycombe (because uni and my boyfriend’s job still started, even if we hadn’t moved) and then our incredible friend Nick said we could stay in his flat while he’s working in Japan.

And what we’ve learnt from this is that commuting from Reading is more difficult than commuting from High Wycombe and realistically living there would be much more convenient. So with less than a week till we’re potentially moving into a flat in Reading (the move in date has still not been confirmed!), we went back to viewings. The first property we viewed was a terraced house in High Wycombe and we fell in love – it’s a proper house, it has stairs and a breakfast bar and a little front garden and a shed and we’ve applied for it and hopefully we’ll be able to move in there soon.

So in terms of an ‘update’ there isn’t really an update on the moving front – we’re still living in Nick’s flat and just waiting for things to happen now, but hopefully we’ll get to move into this amazing little house and I’ll show you every step of the process on my YouTube channel! Keep an eye out if you’re interested in that – it’s linked below if you’d like to subscribe!

~ first car accident ~ 

Not the most positive of updates but it’s a first and a life thing and I’m learning a lot from it – whilst I was away in London at the weekend my boyfriend was caught in a three way collision that wasn’t at all his fault (literally, no sarcasm here, it was just collateral damage). Fortunately no one was hurt, but the back bumper of my car is looking a bit worse for wear and I’ve spent so much time on the phone with my insurance company, the intermediary company who are coordinating getting it fixed and the garage that’s actually going to do the work.

Considering I passed my driving test less than two months ago and have only owned the car for nearly three months, I didn’t think I’d have to go through all of this so soon, but I do and I think I’m actually handling it surprisingly well.

I’m the kind of person who names their car and my boyfriend refer very fondly to our little Harry (Harrison Wheels, if you watch The Flash you’ll get it) and I feel guilty about all that he’s been through. Can you imagine how much worse I’d be if I had a pet or a child?? Definitely just going to have to stick with the car for now!

~ new beginnings ~

I wouldn’t say I’m a big believer in fate or anything but I think things happen for a reason – if we moved straight into our flat we would have immediately run into commuting issues and we’d have been tied into a contract without knowing that there was somewhere more convenient to live.

If I’d got a job I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to move somewhere brand new and explore a bit more of the country I live in. I wouldn’t have thought to go back to uni to refine my portfolio and what it is I want to do. I wouldn’t have learned to drive or been able to buy myself a car.

Life happens – it’s never smooth, it’s never easy, but it’s what you make it – I feel like I’ve rattled off these reasons time and time again in blog posts but it’s trying to convince myself as much as anything else. Things are going to be okay, even if I feel a little bit like I’m drowning at the moment, it will all settle down eventually. By Christmas we’ll have settled!

Change is something that daunts me, but I wouldn’t do without it – if you don’t embrace change than you’ll only grow to resent it, which just makes it all more difficult when it happens anyway.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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going back to uni – am I a failure?

2019, career, student

Hello!

It’s been over a year since I handed in my Final Major Project and finished working on my degree which means I’ve been applying for jobs for over a year and I’ll be honest, it’s utterly soul destroying.

I’m sure other people in my position feel the same – it starts to feel like maybe you don’t have the skills you know you have, maybe you’re not good enough for any of these jobs, or maybe you don’t actually want to go into the industry you’ve been working towards or whether your entire life so far is a lie.

Or maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic?

Maybe I am, but those are just some of the thoughts I’ve had over the hundreds of jobs I’ve read through and not applied for because it would either just be added to the pile of ones I never hear back from or I’ll get another rejection email and that won’t help anything.

So with the help of the careers team at my old university, I’ve been given the opportunity to study a Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Development Planning, which is designed to do exactly what it says on the tin – plan for my professional development (i.e. help me figure out how to get a job). And from there, depending on how the summer goes and unless I miraculously get a job, I’m hoping to start a masters degree at the end of September but I’m going to go to a couple of open days in June before I properly decide.

But is going back to uni just giving up on getting a job? Is the equivalent of saying ‘I know I can’t get a job without more training’? Obviously that’s just how I feel in my field of study – lots of courses have natural progression on to a more specified field including mine but for me there’s always that element of doubt.

So I thought I’d collate a few reasons why going back to uni definitely DOES NOT make me or you or anyone a failure and some things we can remind ourselves of whilst we’re still looking for the right job.

Getting more qualifications is never a bad thing – lots of people will do courses in the workplace, so it’s not that different to that really is it? In my unplanned year ‘off’ I’ve learnt to drive and become a qualified first aider so they’re other qualifications too, it’s just a larger scale much more expensive version of that.

It’ll make us more employable in the long run (hopefully) – having an MA to your name has to help a bit, doesn’t it?

I want to better myself and learn more and I would have done that if I got a job anyway – I love learning, developing my skills and keeping up with whatever changes in technology and I would have wanted to keep learning if I was in a career related job anyway. It’s just going about learning in a slightly different way.

I’m clutching a straws a bit I guess – it’s quite specific to be going back to uni because I can’t get a job and I’m sure most people going to do a masters are more than happy, in fact excited, to go back to studying because for them it’s not a last resort. And I suppose it’s not a ‘last resort’ – a real last resort would be giving up and deciding I’d work in retail or a job I don’t really want for the rest of my life. I probably won’t even be in this job I’m craving at the moment for the rest of my life so who knows why I’m being so dramatic about it all!

In conclusion (I’m getting back into the essay writing, can you tell?), going back to uni or studying a Masters or a PhD or whatever should never be something to consider a failure or be ashamed of. This post is as much for me as it is anyone else worrying about their future – even though it’s not quite going the way you’ve planned, it’s okay, something will happen, it’s just not our time yet.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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