Full-time study and work: just stick to it

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for the last month, I’m sure you’ve picked up that I’m working full-time as well as studying full-time. I’ve been doing this for over a month now and I thought I’d share my experience and some tips that might come in handy if you’re thinking of embarking on formal study without having to quit your job.

Just a bit of background on what I do and why I chose to study and not quit my job: I’m a Communications and Engagement Advisor for a government department. My highest qualification to date is a National Diploma in Journalism. I never finished my degree and thought I’d take three papers this semester to fill in some ‘free-time’ gaps since it’s not like I’m doing anything productive. I’m completing a Bachelor of Professional Communications and I know it seems strange that I’m studying towards a job that I’m already in but I thought it’d be a good way to help me understand my role better from an academic perspective.

So getting into it…

Firstly, there’s no sugar coating it: balancing work and study is challenging. On top of that, there’s life and its many attractions and disruptions. The key to success is planning and discipline. You’d be surprised at how much you can achieve if you take time to set out a schedule and (here’s the real challenging part!) STICK TO IT.

I’m not going to lie: I still find it super challenging but I’ve never been good at balancing, multitasking or general discipline. For those of you who are good at all of that, then it’s a piece of cake and you’re probably reading this and having a bit of a chuckle. For those of you who are like me, fret not because I’m telling you it’s doable.

I set my study schedule in my bullet journal – I plan out what I’m going to study and which activities I’m going to complete and when, what assignments are due and when I should start them. I also set a time to start studying, allocate the hours of study and try my complete best to STICK TO IT. I know it seems like a lot of effort goes into planning this out in writing, but it’s what works for me so find what works for you. It could be as simple as putting your assignment and reading schedule into your phone’s calendar.

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If you know that a social gathering is coming up, plan around that. Perhaps allocate two hours of study that day and then treat the social gathering as a ‘reward’. If you find you really can’t bring yourself to stick to your planned study hours, that’s okay – shift it and study in an hour or two after you’ve relaxed and done what you need to. If you’re like me and have set TV shows you just simply can’t miss, plan around it so you don’t feel guilty about not studying when you’re supposed to.

Just because planning is one of the keys to success, doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. It’s going to be a hard time so it’s important to be kind to yourself. There are times when I want to gauge my eyeballs out and cry from the stress but I have to remind myself that I’m only human and sometimes life gets challenging and despite it all, I can do it.

So again I reiterate – planning and discipline is going to be your best friend during this challenging time. When the going gets tough, please don’t give up. STICK TO IT. After all, when you get your assignments in, get that exam done and get that passing grade, you realise it was all worth it. Well I do anyways.

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Hopefully you found this post somewhat helpful. If you’re in the same boat as me, please share your secret to fulltime study/fulltime work success!

Always remember sunscreen

The other day, my lovely co-worker sent me a link to Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen’. It was honestly the sweetest thing in the world given that I was having a pretty rough day at work. Oh and he sweetened it up even more by buying me a hot chocolate as well (thank you Alex!!!).

The reason why I was having a rough day was because I was filled with self-doubt about my career choice and my ability to do my job well. I guess I wasn’t getting much job satisfaction lately because I wasn’t involved in as many projects as I’d like to be and the projects that I was on were all placed on hold.

Anyways, Alex took me out for hot chocolate, listened to me moan about my first world problems and when I came back from lunch, the link was waiting for me in my inbox. It really put a smile on my dial because it put things in perspective for me and it was pretty inspirational. I sent the link to my sister and my friend and her response was “oh I remember this from high school or something… funny how it’s actually relevant now and makes sense”. Pretty accurate.

To be fair, if I read the essay or watched the video in high school it probably wouldn’t have resonated with me as much as it does now. It makes a lot of sense… especially being kind to your knees because I know for a fact that I’d miss them when they’re gone!

So what is this ‘wear sunscreen’ anyways? It’s an essay originally titled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” (how relevant!) and columnist Mary Schmich writes it like a commencement speech. It was published in 1997 in the Chicago Tribune.

There are many elements of the essay that’s relatable to all of us. Sometimes I feel like we’re all strung up in the rat race of adult life and we start feeling weak and lose our purpose but the thing is, we shouldn’t lose purpose. Failure is part of life; success comes from learning from these failures. If you keep making the same mistakes, it’s time to sit down, breathe and work out what it is that’s driving you to make those mistakes over and over again.

And then there’s worrying. I’m a stickler for worrying about EVERYTHING… right down to the minuscule detail. But it’s true what the essay says… “worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum”. I accept it’s true and I’m getting better at worrying less so I can declutter le brain.

So what I’m saying is, when life gets hard and you feel like you’ve had enough, do as Alex says… just remember sunscreen.

IMG_2293 Yes, I went to work the next day and he left me a bubba bottle of sunscreen with a wee reminder. I have that reminder taped to my computer monitor and it has actually helped when the going gets tough at work 🙂 Thanks Alex.

Also, if you’ve succeeded in remembering compliments and forgetting insults, please share how you do this. For real.

It’s going to be okay

Hey kid,

It’s going to be okay. You’re worried about never finding a boyfriend. Guess what: you do. You’re worried about disappointing your parents by deciding to leave uni cause you’re not happy. They’re not disappointed. You’re mad because you spend monies on dumb things. Bad news: you still do.

I know it seems like life feels completely and utterly hopeless right now because you’re stuck in a ‘set room’ with a shitty roommate, you don’t have many friends, your family’s far away, you’re lost and confused because you want to study everything and nothing and worst of all, you’re still a virgin at 18. But remember last summer? Fish and chips, lying on all the grass in New Plymouth, driving missions, hanging out at beaches and Rihanna’s ‘Please don’t stop the music’? It was the best summer ever – hold on to those memories because they’ll help get you through the rough.

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Right now, you’re probably thinking about Lachie down the hall and how your floor mates thought it’d be funny to lock you in his room that night. He was so nice to you! Should’ve just kissed him. But you didn’t and that’s okay (unfortunately, you two don’t end up together. Weirdly enough, you still think about him but very occasionally. I’m still trying to work out why you do).

Let me tell you about your future. You’re going to go through so many emotions in the coming months – both good and bad. You’re going to test your friendship with an old workmate and I’m sorry to say, you’re going to disappoint her. Not once, but twice. And worst of all, over a boy. Actually, two boys. It’s okay, you eventually learn your lesson.

Right now, you feel like you’re always going to be one of the boys and die a virgin with 60 million cats. But you’re not (well the 60 million cats is still up for debate). You’re going to get noticed. In fact, the big v-plate ends with one of your best friends. You’re also going to think you love him. This is when you realise that with intimacy, comes a lot of confusion.

You’re also going to trust too easily and it’s gonna take one boy to destroy your trust. Oh, plus your low self-esteem. I’m sorry to say you’re going to carry your distrust into other relationships and it’s going to take the most patient man to tolerate you. You’re going to have to work really hard to be better at trust.

You’re going to go on a rampage where you think it’s okay to hurt other boys because you’ve been hurt. You’re going to pretend like you don’t care and you’re going to give yourself freely because you like feeling like you’re in control. You know how you’re always afraid of rejection so you don’t do anything about it and you admire people that pour their heart out and think people that reject others are fuckwits? Guess what, you become somewhat of a fuckwit.

You’ll trample on boys’ feelings when they take the leap and tell you how they feel because it’s easier for you to not care. You’re going to be the master of ‘ghosting’. Then, the tables will turn and you’ll meet someone who gives you the world and treats you the way you deserve. But because you don’t trust anyone, even yourself, you’re going to hurt him and you’re going to fuck things up. You’re going to realise what you’ve done and you’re going to go through a lot of pain. I’m sorry but there’s no going back on that one.

But it’s not all that bad. You’re going to grow closer to your family (unfortunately, you’re going to continue relying on Father). You get a proper job and you’re good at it. You’re going to wake up and learn to love yourself. You’re going to enjoy your own company and you’re going to concentrate on being a better you. And yes, you’re working really, really hard to trust again. You’re still battling confidence but you’re working towards improving it. You really are so you should be proud. The only thing you should be disappointed about is the fact that you’re still shit when it comes to money and saving.

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Remember that when the going gets tough, you get tougher. You’ve experienced and learnt so much and you survived. You’re a survivor. Don’t be afraid of what’s to come because despite all the shit, you’ve done so much good and you’re continuing to do good for yourself, your family, your friends and your future. And when you feel alone, you need to remember you’re never alone.

I promise you kid it’s going to be okay. Everything keeps getting better. So don’t be afraid. Smile.

xoxo Future you

p.s. bitch, can’t believe you cried when you turned 18. you’re now on the wrong end of 20, wishing you could go back.

p.p.s. you’re still trying to replicate summer 2007 because every summer since just can’t seem to beat it. good luck!

photo credit: the lovely dawnchapmanphoto (yes I’m her back model). check out her stuffs yo!

Don’t worry about it

I know it’s hard for us to not worry about the big ol’ F word but I’m here to tell you one thing: don’t worry about it. Too often we get caught up in an existential crisis where we have no idea what the fuck we’re doing, why we’re doing what we’re doing, when will things get better, how can we make things better and well, the big ol’ F word.

When I say F word, I don’t mean fuck. I mean the other F word: future. Kid, you have a long life ahead of you so you really shouldn’t be sitting there sweating the future. Like you, I’ve been under the pump before where you think you need to have it all figured out then you go ahead and figure it out and when it doesn’t work, you count your breathing seconds, worry about the grey hairs sprouting and freak out because of the other swear word that starts with T: time.

You have all the time in the world to work out what it is you want to do or work out how to get to where you want to be. It all comes down to working out what makes you happy and building the bridge that’s gonna take you there. Bearing in mind, you’re also gonna have to cross that god damn bridge.

When I was in my last year of high school, I remember saying to myself “listen, you’re going to go to Victoria University. You’re going to do a double degree in Law and Arts majoring in Art History and Classical Studies. As part of NCEA, you’re going to sit four scholarship exams and you’re going to ace them all. You’re going to graduate top of your class and you’re going to work for a law firm and rake in that dough.” Fast forward to a year later and I’m thinking “fuck law. I could do this but spending five years of my life doing something I’m not enjoying and having a big ass student loan and not wanting to be lawyer. Is it worth it? Fuck, what do I do with myself?” Well, I left uni and moved back home to live with my parents and worked at a supermarket while I figured out what I wanted to do with myself. I went back to uni the following year and did a BA majoring in Art History and Classics. I loved it but unfortunately, I had met a boy back home and I loved him more. So I moved back to be with him and put my degree on hold.

A year after that, I studied Journalism because I knew I loved writing and research. I’m happy to report that I graduated and won an award for best feature for an article I wrote. Six years from graduating and I’m not a journalist.

I am however working in communications. I’ve also started this blog so I’m spending my days continuing to write and share my thoughts with the world. Some days, I still want to be a journalist. Other days, I want to finish my BA and maybe be an archaeologist or a curator. Hell, I have days where I want to open a dating agency and hook people up (a la Undateables and Millionaire Matchmaker)! All of my days though, I just want to be a happy, free spirit who writes about anything and everything.

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Photo credit: the very talented dawnchapmanphoto!

What I’m trying to say is, I’m still trying to work it out. I’m about to turn 27 and most of the people I know are married, getting married, popping out babies, about to pop out baby(ies), working in a stellar corporate job or just, you know, getting high and chilling. You’re worried because some people have their shit together and you don’t. Let me tell you, those people are either good actors or have been where you’re at and have worked it out but fight the battle at least once or twice a year. It’s okay to not know what you want to do in the future. All you need to work out is what you want to do now and what you’re going to do to get there.

You’ve got a long road ahead of you kid. Don’t worry about it and just live.

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Photo credit: LifeHack @ Pinterest

Mr Mitty and I

I think we all encounter at least once in our life a book, a movie, a song or a tune that really resonates with us. It speaks to us in a way that others will never understand and stays with us forever.

That’s what happened when I was exposed to Mr Mitty. For those of you who don’t know who or what I’m talking about, Walter Mitty is a character from a short story of the same name written by James Thurber. He first appeared in the New Yorker in 1939. In 2013, a movie adaptation was released and stars Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig. I think it’s such an inspirational movie and was crafted beautifully.

Mr Mitty is a daydreamer; he transports himself into a wild and elaborate world of imagination to escape the mundaneness of reality. In the short story, he escapes his weekly shop with his wife and her trip to the beauty parlour. In the movie, he escapes his workplace, his responsibilities and ultimately, his average life. Walter’s journey to find a missing negative leads him on an adventure of a lifetime. I also love that the evolution of his e-Harmony profile is used to show how much he grows and progresses as a person and it details his life experiences in the space of a few weeks.

What I love the most about the movie is Life magazine’s motto:

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I shamelessly have this quote printed and hanging above my desk at work. It’s corny but it really inspires me and I know it inspires a lot of people and I’m glad it does. When I start to feel stagnant at work and question what I’m doing and why I’m there, I look at the quote and I’m reminded that I’m working towards the bigger picture.

I think a valuable lesson we can all take from Mr Mitty is that while extreme daydreaming/’mittyism’ is okay, why waste life just dreaming when you can go out there and make it a reality? Don’t wait around for things to happen – go and make it happen. And if you can’t, why not? What’s stopping you? Can you find a solution?

I feel like for far too long, I’ve been putting off travelling for various reasons: career, relationships, fear and ultimately, money. I’m not going to lie; money is still an issue. Unfortunately I’m a lover of new superficial things and living a life of luxury so that doesn’t help when you need to save money for tickets, accommodation, transportation and well, experiences because some of them don’t come cheap!

But it’s okay to live the poor life because I know in the end I’m going to be rich… rich in experiences that is! And who knows, I might just meet my ABC man at the other end of the Earth.

For those of you who don’t know what ABC is, it’s another Mitty reference:

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Well Mr Mitty, I hope you stay in my life for a while yet and continue to inspire me to reach out to my dreams and make it a reality. I’m not going to lie, the thought of travelling is terrifying because it’s way out of my comfort zone but, another movie reference: life is about courage and going into the unknown.

My challenge to you (yes you! The person my friend Emma is pointing to!!) don’t just sit there and be afraid… grow some balls and go out into the unknown. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll come back richer. With a moustache and maybe a sombrero.

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If you haven’t read the story or watched the movie, I highly recommend it.

Photo credit: Drunken photo booth pic from a staff Christmas party

A story about a girl and two(ish) boys

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Warning. This is not a happy story with a happy ending. I just thought I’d share with you what love is to me and when I say love, I mean that feeling you get when a girl meets a boy and yeah… not the family/friend/pet love that we all know and well, love.

When I was younger, I was convinced I was going to meet a boy (yes, one boy) who was going to sweep me off my feet and we were going to get married, live in a penthouse apartment, be a power couple forever and then die. Lol, forever and die in the same sentence. Reminds me of this henna stall at a festival that had a sign that read “temporary tattoos that last forever”. Anyways, yes my dream ends morbidly but such is life.

Anyways, I did meet a boy, I did think we were going to get married, he cheated on me, I didn’t cry and I forgave him, I spent three and a half years with him, realised I wasn’t happy and the last thing I wanted to do was marry a deceitful, cheating bastard, decided I deserved better from him and the life we had and then dumped him. Actually, this thing I found on the Facebook page Word Porn sums up the situation in the end:

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The sad part of my first relationship was realising that the real reason why I forgave him for cheating was because I didn’t think I could do better or find someone else who was going to love me. So I accepted the love I thought I deserved. It was a sad reality but I’m proud of myself for realising that that’s not the case at all and I deserve better.

After that relationship, I had a fantastic five-ish months of singledom then boom, I was in another relationship. Did I think I was going to marry this guy? Nah, but I was willing to give it a go. In a year and a half, we drank, got high, went out, moved down to Wellington together then I grew up. Unfortunately, he didn’t. It took me a while to end things because I was consumed by guilt since he came to Wellington because of me. But things weren’t getting any better… So I dumped him.

Three years later and I’m still single.

So my childhood dream of meeting a boy and everything ending up perfectly didn’t come true but I realised it’s totally okay. One of the fundamental things I’ve learnt from my two ‘failed’ relationships is that you need to love yourself before you can learn to love others. Oh, and there is such a thing as ‘finding yourself’ before deciding to settle.

Am I disappointed that I gave myself fully to two people and it didn’t work? Hell no. The thing is, I don’t regret the relationships I’ve had in my life because they actually made me stronger. Whether you want to admit it or not, it’s the experiences gained from being in crappy relationships that make you realise who you are, what you deserve and what you won’t tolerate. I tolerated cheating and I think cheating is the best example of disrespect.

So what did I learn about love and what does it mean to me? Cliché but love really is about respecting one another and respecting yourself. It’s about admiring one another and wanting to be better for them and for you.

Now in these three years of singledom, I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences with dating… but that’s for another blog post.

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So tell me, what is love to you?

Photo credit: dawnchapmanphoto. Seriously, check out her work. She’s fantastic!

Lessons from Father Jay

And no, I’m not talking about a priest, a pastor or a pope. I’m talking about my father and yes, I refer to him as Father Jay. Every time I say Father Jay, the first thing people ask is “oh is that your pastor?” no, not my pastor, just my father and yeah I guess sometimes he preaches.

He’s a thoughtful man although he can be the most impatient, angry person but he tries not to be and you know what, sometimes that’s all that counts. He’s very considerate even though he can be harsh and point out your flaws but sometimes you need someone in your life that does. How else are you supposed to better yourself if you don’t know your flaws?

I’m the type of person who actually enjoys being around their family and when I’m away for too long, I miss them. I rely on my father a lot and I’m not ashamed to say that he’s my rock. Sometimes it’s embarrassing how much I rely on him but I think most people will agree, your parents do give the best advice. Got a problem? Dad. Need to share some great news? Dad. Need to vent? Dad.

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Hell, when I wanted to end my first relationship (it was a three and a half year relationship!) I immediately drove to my dad’s at 11pm so I could talk it through with him. Bearing in mind, he goes to sleep at 10pm (usually) AND I wasn’t living with him. Anyways, he boiled the jug and listened to me while I blubbered and cried about not knowing what the hell I was going to do and gave me hugs. Every time I think of that moment, I get emotional.

It’s safe to say I’ve learnt a lot from my dad. I’ve never really thanked him or told him I appreciated him so dad, if you’re reading this, hello! And thank you for everything. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate you (and no I’m not saying this because I’m blogging!).

Let me share with you the top five things I’ve learnt from Father Jay:

  1. Always trust your gut because that funny feeling wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t meant to be there
  2. Confidence is very important if you want to go far (and if you lack in confidence, join Toastmasters! – yes dad I will join Toastmasters at some stage…)
  3. It’s okay to grieve when a big part of your life ends
  4. I’m hopeless when it comes to saving money
  5. It’s okay to be a weirdo (thanks for passing on your weirdness to me dad!)

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