Lifestyle, Mental Health, Social media, Uncategorized

Social Media Cleanse Diary – Day 5

Looking back it this time last week…

I made it to the end of my first working week in surprisingly good shape.

I figured it would be most difficult to kick social media to the curb during working day as the impulse often becomes so strong at times of boredom whilst in the home office.

I must admit Friday could have been a potential banana skin as the workload started to die down throughout the day, thus introducing opportunities for boredom to take hold.

I’ll also admit I encountered some strong urges at various intervals, mainly as I craved to find sports updates in preparation for the weekend’s fixtures.

I ended up using social media just the once in the end, which I am chuffed about. I am however a bit bitter sweet about it too, as I felt it was a temptation that could have been prevented.

The indulgence consisted of a quick check on Instagram for updates on the climbing centre that I attend and had plans to visit at the weekend.

My friend had told me the centre was to be half closed due to a leaky roof and flooding and this threw our plans into disarray.

I tried to find out more on the situation through their website, to no avail. My friend advised updates were being provided on Instagram.

Great!

Due to this lack of consideration of those who do not use social media, I found myself too demanding of information to resist. Obviously, this meant I had a cheeky check on my Insta feed whilst I was at it.

As I say, very frustrating. But the good news is that this just ended up being a one off and I managed to steer clear of all platforms for the rest of the day, which was great.

Things since Friday have been crazy busy and so I haven’t had time to log how things have progressed in the week that followed. I plan to post a week long summary over the weekend so do keep your eyes peeled to find out how things have gone in week 2.

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits. 

Mental Health, Pandemic, Social media, Technology, Teen fiction, Uncategorized

What social media doesn’t show

I’ve been feeling a bit down in the dumps just recently. I mean who hasn’t?

We are all still feeling the shock waves of the COVID crisis and I’m sure we will do for years to come. Naturally this might be what is causing my mood management trouble.

After all we have lost out on so much fun and a very real question mark remains over how life will be post June.

In an effort to combat my bouts of depression I took some time to really consider what might be the root cause of my suffering.

Although there was no immediate light bulb moment, in the few days that followed I couldn’t help but notice my mood seemed to take a nose dive after each and every session on a social media platform.

Although I have a lot going for myself right now, I happen to be at that awkward stage in life, where everything is in question. As a 31-year-old engaged (but not yet married man) with no children of my own, it is clear that I am becoming more of a minority as increasing numbers of people my age have now crossed that bridge. In my rational and not usually envious mind I am able to make peace with this fact and focus on what is happening in my own life rather than compare with others.

That is however until I take one innocent scroll through social media and for some reason my head becomes awash with feelings of pressure, envy and to be brutally honest, anger. Every single post I set eyes on has pictures of people parading their new born babies or bragging about how amazing married life is; and for some reason this triggers me.

The bombardment of content is so overwhelming it often results in me now throwing my phone aside. I can’t imagine the soul sucking tech giants anticipated that happening when they chose to cast their bait at me.

The problem I have though, is that I always end up coming back. This is unfortunately an outcome I’m sure that big tech giants evidently do bank on time after time.

Since recognising this effect social media has on me, I have had several conversations with people close to me, during which an unsettling conclusion was reached.

People only post stuff on social media that they want people to see! Furthermore, social media platforms only show you stuff that they want you to see. When you consider that we all have this tendency to fabricate how we really feel and paint a picture-perfect vision of how we think our lives should be, is it any wonder we fight to exceed expectations all the time? If we maximise this perfect vision by let us say 500 Facebook friends and imagine that there is an algorithm somewhere spoon feeding you this stuff for a reaction, is it any wonder that it is driving me (and all of us perhaps) to despair?

Think about it this way, how many posts do you see from people announcing the death of a family member, a failed IVF attempt or details of a violent relationship? Ok perhaps there are a brave handful of individuals who might do us. Perhaps that adds a fraction of perspective. It is sad to think in reality though, people who post about the bad stuff are often ridiculed as attention seekers, even if people do not openly admit it to their faces.

Think also about all those people who are unlucky in love, have crippling health or mental health problems or might not even be able to afford the luxury of social media due to extreme poverty?

Just because it appears as though everyone online is living the life of riley; it is quite simply NOT TRUE.

Let us not forget either that people rarely post pictures in the middle of the night when their teething baby quite simply will not stop crying or when a couple’s happy marriage is tainted by one or both having been unfaithful.   

I know this also sounds rather sinister of me. And I Just to clarify I am not one of these sick individuals who gets a thrill off the misfortune of others; far from it. The issue I have is more due to the fact there is little to no platform in which to relate and empathise with others on social media. This for me is a critical factor in helping to maintain our well-being.

Before I get berated by all the families I’m friends with online too, I also want to make clear that I have nothing against you and your children. I’m sure you all have wonderful families and that is great.

I think this crisis has come about partly by accident and partly by the sheer greed of the tech companies.

I don’t think any of us really think before we post a nice-looking picture. Maybe some of us do so out of vanity, but that is a separate issue in itself. It is hard for us to grasp the concept that our little mark on the world can actually have a negative impact on someone else. It is a deep thought to consider when you are in the moment.

I think the biggest issue of all in regards to the potential for harm from social media is that most of us simply do not realise that it is these very platforms that are causing us harm.

Therefore if this blog helps just one person to give a thought to how social media might be affecting their mental health (and that of others in fact) that for me is a start.

As many of you may know, my feelings towards smartphones and social media addiction are well documented in my debut novel The Invite, aimed at young adults everywhere. If you found my insights above of interest and you haven’t read my book already, you can grab your copy now @ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invite-C-P-Riches-ebook/dp/B08MCDYPPL

I think at some point, big tech firms need to take some accountability, but in the meantime we are on our own, swimming in unchartered waters. Let us all help each other, rather than letting some of us sink.

Uncategorized

Staying in with C. P. Riches

Linda's Book Bag

Once again I’m frustrated by the fact I simply cannot read every book that comes my way. However, I am fortunate that authors are willing to stay in with me to chat about their writing. Today I’m delighted to welcome C.P. Riches to Linda’s Book Bag.

Staying in with C.P Riches

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag ChrisThank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Hi Linda, the pleasure is all mine. Thanks very much for inviting me to your site. It really is a haven for juicy book content here and I love what you are doing to showcase authors and satisfy hungry readers everywhere.

Ha! ‘inviting’ – I like what you did there! Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I have brought along my debut the novel The Invite and I…

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Climate change, Corona Virus, Environment, Face Coverings, Face Masks, Uncategorized

Don’t mask the problem

Discarded-face-masks

During these uncertain times that we find ourselves in, face masks, face coverings or whatever you want to call them, have been a new norm that like it or not, have forced their way into our lives.

Despite what the non-believers say, there is significant evidence to prove that they help reduce the spread of the virus; and that is crucial.

This new solution however has unwittingly created a much bigger problem.

It’s no secret that our planet has a massive crisis with widespread plastic pollution. Its ravaging our oceans, cluttering our countryside and killing our wildlife.

It could be argued that we were finally starting to get things under control before the pandemic hit, but as we all now focus on our immediate health concerns, we seem to have forgotten about the threat and have developed even worse habits than before.

The use, and misuse of disposable facemasks are the biggest demon of the day. With it now being mandatory across the UK to wear one of the contraptions, millions of people are now adorning them. With this unusual development I have seen hundreds of the things scattered across our streets.

This obvious disregard for proper waste disposal annoys me, but it doesn’t shock me given the selfish nature of some people. What really angers me however, is to learn that the single use masks are not recyclable or even biodegradable. This begs the question, what on earth happens to these (potentially infected) rags of plastic that will scar the earth for hundreds of years to come? My bet is their forever home is either landfill or worse, onwards to the ocean for further punishment of our waters.

I read something interesting a few days back which suggested that the problem with plastic in our environment is so bad, that traces of the stuff has even been found in our rainfall. Imagine that, we could soon be soaked in used facemasks when we get caught out in the rain. No thanks.

Industry has got a lot to answer for introducing this new pandemic to our lives.

These are testing times for us all for sure and we need to do what we can to stay safe. But let’s not torch our home in order to keep warm shall we. For heaven’s sake lets opt for reusable coverings unless off course there is real need for proper PPE.

Technology, Uncategorized

Concerns over social media curb

Phone for blog

Due to the continual doom and gloom associated with social media and the negative impact it can have, I decided to swallow the pill of reason and go cold turkey for a month.

I am one of the millions of guilty culprits of mindless Facebook feed scrolling, even though I am actively against too much phone time.

Hypercritical I know.

I have also suffered from a toxic mix of panic disorder, general anxiety and depression over the last few years and so I figured a social media cleanse could provide a big boost to my mental health.

After all I have lost count of how many articles demonise social media and find them responsible for the current mental health epidemic.

So to tie-in with Mental Health Awareness week, I decided to embark on the perilous quest to purge myself (specifically) of Facebook for a month.

I did consider doing it for a good cause, but then I figured that I couldn’t possibly spread the word enough, without the power of social media.

Oh the terrible irony.

So like an addict checking into to rehab, I went all in, alone.

I expected the first few days to be brutal. I thought I would have to wipe the sweat off my brow as I etched across the phone screen trying to resist the seductive temptation.

But it was in fact, easier than I thought.

There was no constant desire to check my news feed. No crippling anxiety at not having everything on tap.

What I didn’t anticipate though, was how automated my actions were in navigating towards the enemy. It didn’t even require any thought.

I lost count at how many times my finger came dangerously close to clicking on Facebook during that first week.

Otherwise, it was going great. So much so in fact, that I had stopped using other social media sites too.

But then at around the halfway point, I hit a brick wall. I was starting to get frustrated at my loss of contact with the wider world.

And if only I could say this was a phase.

I was getting quite frankly cheesed off, and this resentment continued to blossom as the days went by.

Interestingly I wasn’t plagued with anxiety or a burning desire to get my fix though.

I just found the whole thing pointless; and it just made me irritated.

I figured that at some point right at the end of my struggle, something would click and I would feel reborn.

Instead, I found myself latching on to other social media sites again and lusting for news the conventional ways.

And this is how my mission ended.

I just had a very small moment of satisfaction for what I had achieved.

What was strange though, is that I didn’t feel the desire to download Facebook again after the month was done; and so I probably went Facebook free for about 6 weeks in total.

I think I was kind of hoping that another few weeks would have a more substantial impact.

But it didn’t.

I can only conclude that I felt mildly more irritated and isolated as a result of my experiment.

I’m sure this will come as a shock to many and believe me I was most surprised.

And it took me a good while to assess why I obtained the outcomes I had.

So if I was to summarise my conclusion in one word, I would say it was down to ‘circumstance‘.

See I work from home everyday, a ‘circumstance’ born little out of choice, but rather necessity.

In a world that is littered with just me and four walls, it occurred to me that Facebook offers me some kind of connection to the world, that I would otherwise not have.

Now it is not to say this is in any way natural, but I think the big issue here is that we as a society are no longer living in a natural world.

The bigger problem that I see, is the overwhelming pressure our society places on us to succeed and sacrifice happiness for work.

Where I feel we have gone wrong, is by looking at our phones for an escape, for all the answers to our problems.

The simple fact that we have been forced to conjure up happiness rather than it being a natural occurrence.

What compounds the problem is that most of us simply look to our phones for happiness; and it is not the answer.

So what I can conclude is that I never really had a problem with phone addiction in the first place.

I was simply using it as a way of trying to conjure up happiness, without success.

Don’t get me wrong I think many of us (particularly the younger generations) may have slipped into addiction territory.

And for those that do, I think the media needs to add some further emphasis on what the real signs of phone addiction are. For example, using phones whilst conversing with other people. Or by turning to the phone as an avoidance strategy.

Otherwise, we are just being spoonfed yet more scaremongering news that will further compound our society based depression.

I’m no expert, but when put to the test, the conclusion was quite clear really.

Post University, Uncategorized

Hang the Hangover!

800px-Englishbreakfast

Generally speaking my usual posts are very philosophical, thought provoking and somewhat serious in nature.  Considering my intentions of giving sound advice to the world of students and alumni, I thought why not mix it up by giving some plain speaking pointers on a much more pressing issue that affects the masses. And I’m not taking about meeting uni deadlines, balancing bills or winning at work… no this is a much more of a concerning pandemic.

How to survive the hangover?

How is it possible to have a great night out after a tiring week and wake up the next day without wanting to shoot yourself?

Judging by the fact that hangovers only seem to intensify with age (this I know to be true) over the recent years and many bad experiences later, I have quietly taken it upon myself to find a way of battling this dreaded demon. And I think I’ve found a way, not only to survive, but to actually defeat the tedious weekend spoiler.

I think the secret to success in defeating any deadly enemy, is attack. I think we all have a tendency to lie down like losers feeling sorry for ourselves. We let the alcohol win. Imagine you stupidly decide to start a fight with someone and then just lie down there on the floor saying please don’t hit me. What’s likely to happen? As strange as that sounds that’s kind of what we do when we’ve had a few.

So with that obscure comparison hopefully stamped in your minds, it’s time to consider a plan of attack. I have made one such plan. And I would say with an estimated 85% success rate in improved next day wellness, this may well be the best way to go. For those of you who say, oh well that’s not 100% effective then, it’s time to be realistic. Sometimes we just have to pay for our sins.

So here’s what I suggest…

Step 1:  Line the stomach- I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying eating’s cheating. This is just ridiculous. Follow this advice and you’re likely to end up in a gutter half way through the night trying to spew up your own guts because there’s nothing there to be sick. Disgusting I know and I swear that bit of advice is not from experience. Anyway moving on.

Step 2: Don’t drink more than you can handle! Yes I know this sounds patronising, obvious and more to the point, boring, but it isn’t really if you think about it. I’m not saying don’t push the boundaries. But I do think we all need to take a moment during our epic nights to think- if I have one more drink it’s going to be a point of no return. At this point most of us will end up vomiting out of a taxi window of something. Chose to ignore this and let’s be honest you deserve to have the hangover.

Step 2: Drink water between booze! –  Again many of the hard-core will say this is too sensible and who thinks to do that whilst on a session. Well be this as it may, I find that just sipping on water, even if it is just a small glass half way through the night, makes a world of difference. Hangovers are essentially caused by dehydration. Combating this inevitability early gives you an early advantage.

Step 3: Don’t drink to the death! We all get in to the habit at times of drinking and drinking and drinking until we are no longer in the presence of a bar. Think about it, its 2/3 am and you’re already extremely drunk. Stop drinking at this point and I can guarantee a few hours later you’re still going to be the same. Meanwhile you will be giving your body the much needed time it needs to start the recovery process. Let’s be honest, we all know deep down that the only real cure for a hangover, is time.  

Step 4: Grab a greasy take away on the way home!- I think we all know this trick of the trade by now. This may be because we are all educated individuals. Or maybe it’s because we all secretly like to use it as an excuse to fill our faces with shocking unhealthy grub. Let’s be honest most of us wouldn’t chose to eat it sober. Never-the-less eating food at the end of the night helps soak up the beer.

Step 5: The deal breaker!- This is by far the most important step to take to avoid a vicious hangover. Again it may be obvious, but it is essential. DRINK WATER BEFORE BED. Fill up a pint glass with the clear stuff and actually drink half of it before going to sleep. So it may wake you in the night for the toilet, but who ever said having a good night out was practical. Avoid this step at your peril. There’s nothing worse than waking up with a banging head and a cactus throat.

Step 6: Sleep!- Get as much sleep as possible. Apparently we don’t sleep very well after drink. God knows why. Try to have undisturbed sleep and lie in as late as possible. Yep that’s what I said. Fatigue is a major influence in the hangover plague. If you have to get up early for work the next day, then that’s just bad planning on your part

Step 6: Water in the morning!- Drink the rest of you pint of water when you wake up. This will continue your good work from the night before. It’s all about flushing that alcohol out of your system.

Step 7: Eat a sugary breakfast!- Many people make the mistake of going straight for the fry up. Wrong! Eat something easy on the stomach first thing, like sugary cereal. This gives your stomach a break and stabilises the blood sugar levels.   

Step 8: Exercise/steam- The prospect of leaving the house and actually doing something after a night out is unthinkable for some. But if you just push through those reservations you will find that this can be the most effective cure. Exercise makes you sweat out toxins and realises endorphins, which make you feel awesome. If you have access to a steam room this is also a great detox. It sweats out the booze.

Step 9: The fry up- Yes I didn’t exclude this one from the list. However this should be eaten at lunch time. After much debate studies now suggest that fry-ups do actually help. Again I think this is down to the fat content etc. I don’t really know but they seem to work. Including baked beans and tomatoes are meant to be particularly effective.

Step 10: RestAs I said earlier, fatigue is a major factor in a hangover. Spend the afternoon taking it easy. And make sure you keep drinking water. The battle is not yet won.

Step 11: FoodIt would have been great to keep this at 10 points, but there is one more important step in helping to slay the beast. Dinner time is important. Judging by the fast food queues on a Sunday evening, I think most people have this one cracked too. Again more greasy food is needed. It is rather grim that so many points involve artery busting fatty foods. I never said this was a health drive. I think it would be silly to think tackling a sin in such a way would be the way forward.  It goes without saying the rest of your week should be a healthy one. This should soak up the remaining alcohol like sieve. A certain fast food gravy can work wonders. It may actually be prescribed on the NHS in future years.

Success!

If you have followed all these points by the book, you should be feeling great now. Ok well maybe not great, but not death like. If not then you either drank too much or you were unlucky. Or my advice just didn’t work. I never said this was a guarantee.

I do hope this wisdom helps in one life’s great battles.  Any feedback might prove useful in innovating this cure so I will be on the lookout for enhancements. In the meantime good luck- in time we will beat the hangover! 

Uncategorized

World Cup fever sweeps the nation?

Image

It’s been a good few years in the making but at last we have some substantial international rugby league action to sink our teeth into.

And I never thought I would say this but this year’s home grown world cup is shaping up to be an exciting prospect. But is this just wishful thinking?

The view of many is that it’s going to flop like a wet fish.

From day one of its announcement, the competition has been under relentless scrutiny. The critics have been ever pressing, right up until the very moment England faced the goliath task of slaying the Aussies.

Myself, like many others, shared the variety of negative views and questioned the controversy that surrounds the England and Wales world cup and from our point of view, the England team.

The ever present rugby league patriot will say stop being so negative and embrace what could be a good tournament to promote our game, in which many would be willing to accept in the spirit of support for our home nation.

The problem is, weathered rugby fans will be well aware that England and the whole international game for that matter, has been riddled with torment. Deep down we all know that international rugby league has very little structural integrity in comparison to many other international sports who by far supersede our efforts.

Questions such as; will we draw in the crowds, how will teams such as USA shape up against teams like Australia and New Zealand, (should they even get the chance), is there only two teams in it and will anyone other than our relatively small rugby league community even blink an eyelid at the tournament’s  showcase?

Then there is the question about England themselves. We all want to believe that England have got it in them to win it. Moreover the RFL and surrounding teams are determined to convince us that England have got what it takes. The ideology that we have the greatest wealth of talent in years has been practically drilled into us.

However just as we all start to fall for the hype, hook line and sinker (as we always do), England already unveil the cracks in the wall as they fail to produce the goods against a very average looking Italy side, right on the brink of the tournament.

To add further insult, poor discipline left us with a concerning 7 of our best players left out of the squad just days before our biggest game in years, thus leading to a very questionable side selection. Given the sheer amount of criticism, even anger some might argue, this point needs no further elaboration.

So again it all looks like doom and gloom. But for once I don’t truly believe this is the case.

It looks to me that the RFL have actually produced the goods in terms of their promotion and organisation of this tournament. True there are mixed feelings about some of the venues, particularly some of the larger and southern ones, but I can’t help but feel that there is a fine balance between the venues and their corresponding fixture. The most successful reflections of this would have to be the England and Ireland fixture at Huddersfield- who would have thought that would sell out? And pretty much all of New Zealand’s fixtures seem to have sold very well indeed. It’s evident that they are going to have a great following here.

Additionally it’s quite promising to see how many icons outside of the game have been utilised in its promotion. It’s great to see the likes of Wayne Rooney, Andrew Flintoff and even David Cameron all adding to its advertisement (even if the prime minister’s intentions may have politically constructed),but that’s a whole other debate in itself.

So the Cardiff opener unfolded with all of these issues pertinent in people’s minds. And this looked to be reflected by a tense and rather reserved gathering. However as the day’s events progressed the nation was blessed with some truly stunning Rugby league football. At times, the occasion even had the feel of its counterpart code’s four nations. Perhaps this may have just been down to the highly union based venue.

The way I see it, the crowd was reasonable (for both games) and all the teams put on a show, even England who silenced the critics, despite narrowly being defeated by their world class rivals from down under. A vocal nature of the Wales fans was also great to hear. What was even more exciting to see however, was the presence of a relatively unheard of Italy side. They shocked us right on the verge of the tournament start and then they put one over a quickly developing wales side who were very much geared up on their home turf. For me that is what a world cup should be about; watching teams from far-away places displaying unforeseen talents.

It is still far too early to see how the competition will perform in many respects. And true it may have been a nervous start… but it most certainly wasn’t a disappointing one. Now with a good month left of action left, who knows what twists and turns such a unique tournament will have in store.

I for one am very optimistic and excited to find out.

Uncategorized

What now?

As per the norm this post has been far too long in the making. As per the norm, the tedious circle of life has kept me occupied, thus making past times such as writing freely and constructively for the benefit of others, somewhat impossible. But here we are, I eventually got round to it. The question is however, what now? Now I come to think of it, that question, although used in reference to what I shall write, actually provides me with an interesting basis in which I should construct this reflective post on.

What now?

This, I know, is a very general question. I could be asking this in reference to anything. The very nature of the question itself seems so general that I personally, as I’m sure many of you will agree, think it’s the kind of question that should remain in most cases, rhetorical; particularly in you don’t fancy yourself, falsely imitating a counselling professional. I am however; bravely going to take a shot at answering this question in reference to my own life and fingers crossed this will help give you an insight into your own.

That’s the plan anyway.

I think most people would mutually agree that this is a hard question to answer; even at the best of times. I think the best way for me to begin tackling the beast is to provide some context. So here we go.

I graduated from UCLAN in 2011, fresh faced and ready to take on the world. And when I say ready to take on the world, what I really mean is, plunged into the deep end without a clue in the world about how I was going to live my life.

I was ready to leave university and I wanted to, but at the same time, I often look back at my time there and it makes me want to go back. Every time I reminisce I get left with an empty feeling as I remind myself that those days of freedom are behind me. I guess I just have to be grateful for having the experience. I’m sure many of you can relate to this feeling.

So I graduated and everything was great. At this point I had a work placement lined up at the local newspaper, which was a nerve racking but exciting and ultimately rewarding experience. Funnily enough I felt ready to finish my time there too, but yet again I look back with a sad fondness.

When my Journalism career came to a relatively short end, I then had to grind out my part time job until I found a graduate position. A decision I might add that was incredibly hard to make. I would have happily written fulltime, but as is life, a full time position wasn’t feasible; and I couldn’t just keep writing for the fun of it.

It took a good few months, but eventually I found something. It wasn’t a job as a reporter, if that’s what you’re thinking; unfortunately not. I guess you could kind of say it was the next best thing… (Well not really), it was a job in publishing. Not exactly my dream job, but one that sounded quite up my street; and the pay was acceptable.

I secured this job in March 2012 and I currently remain there. It has possibly been the quickest year and a bit of my life. The role has been a challenging one. At last however, I kind of feel like I’m finding my feet.

I recently turned 23 and I still cannot come to terms with it. I have to keep reminding myself of my age. I sign of possible premature delirium I know but I genuinely still feel like I should be 19, an age that just seems to feel right for me.

So this is where I stand in grand scheme of career life. It seems as though I have boarded the long, rocky, one track train to retirement, after what seemed like much chasing. The problem with that statement is that it’s highly inaccurate. Over the past couple of months it really has dawned on me that being complacent is going to cause major problems. This stark reality hit me with its full force, very recently. I rather naively figured that as soon as I started working full time, the cash would come flooding in and build me a happy ending. This is not the case! It took me a whole year and a couple of substantial outgoings to realise this. The reality is that I, like many others am just working to survive.

Working to put bread on the table is all well and good. It’s a man’s prerogative some people may very stereotypically say. But then when I apply this to my own life, it turns out that I’m not working to put bread on the table, I’m working to pay bills and board. It was at that moment I realised that I couldn’t just settle as I was and get comfortable, no my quest in life must continue and I need to turn things up a notch.

So this brings me quite nicely to my question, what now? In order to pursue the moral high ground and provide a truly honest reflection, I’m not going to create a glossy fabrication. I think you will agree that gritty realism is more relatable.

I don’t really have anything figured out!

The frustrating thing is that I regular entice myself with fruitful ideas and momentarily trick myself into believing they are going to make me millions. Some of the ideas I think might actually be worth a punt, however there is one problem, me; and to be more precise, my inner fear! The fear of taking a risk and losing everything is a strong one. It could be described as an overwhelming barricade, firmly closing off opportunity with its series of serious what ifs. I truly believe that it is our very thoughts and emotions that limit our potential as human beings.

So after that slightly laborious and self-psychological assessment of the human condition, I can focus on some of the more realistic but challenging ideas I may plan to implement in an attempt to progress in life.

The first thing lined up on my master plan to success, is to achieve either job role progression or find something else. Writing is my passion so if anything of that nature swings in my direction, I will do my best to clutch it. Frustratingly no swinging has been swung my way thus far, and searching could pretty much summarised as a wild goose chase. I think unless you have no life, searching for opportunities is near impossible; it very much needs to be treated as a career in itself.

The second agenda on my mater plan is to become a freelance writer. As soon as the sunny days fade away (as they pretty much are), I plan to invade any and all online portals, where budding and established writers plant there savvy mark by writing about oddities such as the hotspots in Arabia or tips on where to buy the best goat cheese.

Preliminary research suggests that writing about an array of subjects for opportunist employers may be low pay, but I plan to go into this endeavour with a view of building a portfolio and fingers crossed, breaking the seal of opportunity. This could just be a seed to a much larger grain. That’s my logic anyway.

The grand venture that concludes my trio of progression plans is something I am most excited about. In fact it is something that’s already in production. It’s my plan to write a book. Correction, I am writing one and it it’s my plan to get it finished. After a sluggish start I am now ploughing on, full steam ahead with; and it is very much a joyous experience.

I am quite aware that in big wide world of fearsome competition, the likelihood of my literary contents being published for the world to see is considerably slim. I just figured that if I don’t do it I will never know if I’m worthy.

So who knows this may all go t… up! (Can you swear on WordPress, I don’t know.) As far as I’m concerned, I just see it as a step to shake up the stalemate path I’m taking. Only time will tell if I have gained enough speed to clear the wall, who knows I may even crash into it; but like the old saying goes, there’s only one way to find out!

I guess for those of you who do find yourself questioning the future, my view would be, why not shake up the journey a little bit. Try something different. Who knows a small change might make a big difference. Once again I think the old saying; ‘there’s only one way to find out’ is an appropriate phrase to end on.

Good luck, until the next time… whenever that may be.

Post University, Uncategorized

The uncertainty of success

It feels like an eternity since I last posted on here! In retrospect it has only been a few months, however when I come to think about it, the last time I actually posted was actually last year; so happy belated New Year everyone.  When thinking back to New Year, the occasion involved a glorious trip away and this very much sparked sensationalized feelings of renewed optimism and hope for the future.

When considering the circumstances of the New Year time period, it is wise to appreciate that I was still very much basking in the glory of my newspaper placement days. The reality of these elated feelings however was that I was being unrealistic. It was approaching a month without my ego boosting front page appearances and not only had I already disappeared from the lime light, but my confidence remained shattered by a dream job rejection which would have tied in perfectly with my placement exit.

That New Year’s Eve as I gazed out at the Manchester City views and watched the sky explode with colour, a fresh wave of determination came over me. If I’m being honest though I think I was trying thrust the determination upon myself. My true feeling at that time was basically that of lost hope in finding a job now that I had graduated.

The three months that have followed those New Year celebrations have been a whirlwind blur. The predicted reality of full-time work in my unwanted job was being fulfilled. In sync with the mass student mentality that the system had failed me, many would assume that I had slumped into despair. In some respects I had fallen into this frame of mind, however bizarrely I never really gave it that much of a thought.  In fact I never really had time to dwell too much on this negativity. For me it was a case of getting my head down and doing what I had to do to make ends meet, and to be honest I began to feel as though life wasn’t too bad.

During these busy months however, I made sure that I didn’t give up on the job search. I knew it would be tough and I knew it could potentially take years to find something. I knew that if too much time elapsed I would have to do something else to make me stand out from the crowd, but what did I have to lose?

It has only been in the last few weeks in which things began to happen. The scenario in which this change came about seemed very peculiar to me. It began just as I started to fully adapt to my routine. Somehow things just felt different and I just knew that my life needed to change.

My first signal for change was a sudden rush of transition at work. It was evident that fresh young new faces were becoming the norm in a place that in recent years, has been unaccustomed to change. Moreover increasing numbers of veteran employees began to leave.

My next signal was that the additional casual work I had been completing for some time and what was very much helping to keep me afloat, was due to end.

In my opinion however the most significant determiner was the day I found the job. In terms of my aspirations, the job hardly cut the mustard. I thought I would apply anyway.  I sat there and browsed through the jobs description and a weird buzz of excitement overwhelmed me. Certain criteria aspects where ticking huge boxes in my brain and this left me swelling up with confidence. This made the application process easy; I finished it quick and efficiently and sat there feeling happy with myself.

I quickly adapted back to my everyday routine and placed the application to the back of my mind. However within that very same hour it was quickly brought back to my attention. I routinely checked my emails and there it was. I received the first email that was about to change my life. The email was from a random guy from an employment agency and he wanted to summit my CV to the company.

I was in a state of astonishment. The circumstances around this job seemed slightly fishy to me, however that positive gut feeling burned brighter than ever and things seemed to just snow ball from there. Slightly later than anticipated I was offered an interview. I went to the interview and I’m not going to lie I nailed it and I don’t know how. It was interesting because I was given an unexpected test and that was my downfall. It went horribly wrong! In any logical mind one would think that the game was over, however I just knew it wasn’t.

My instincts were proven correct, I got offered a second interview. In suit with the last two session interview I had, the nerves where due to kick in; but they hardly did. This was unusual behaviour for me and I couldn’t explain it. I was however knocked down a peg or two in round two. I got a grilling. For over one hour and thirty minutes they kept me there and I was digging myself into a pretty deep dark hole. Eventually they let me go. Relief was my first feeling and then I started to ponder. I thought that the job really wasn’t my thing after the interview; however I still had this positive feeling. It refused to go away. In fact my logic was leading me to believe to because I didn’t really want the job; I was destined to get it.

I was right. After making me sweat for several days I got the email. I am delighted to inform you, that you have been appointed for the position. I got the job. Like any overwhelming news it didn’t sink in at first. Then an incredible feeling of happiness gripped me. It was the happiest I had felt in a long time. It was as if it has been all worthwhile. I could have gone back and kissed the grotty grounds of UCLAN and saluted the place.

However the realistic side of my brain soon and unexpectedly brought me down to earth. I realised that it was going to be hard. I realised that I would be based in a place I didn’t like. I realised that I would be working 9 to 5 like everyone else. I realised that the money wasn’t the greatest. That’s when I realised, nothing in life’s ever turns out the way you want or expect it, in fact the majority of us are faced with a constant battle. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who are blessed enough to get that dream job, then I doubt you will ever be 100% happy and even if you do, who’s to say that it really will make you happy? As these thoughts continue to whizz around in my mind I just hope to myself that I’ve made the right move.

So it seems that after a ten month slog since becoming a fresh-faced graduate, the goal that I set out to achieve has effectively been achieved and therefore as I write this blog as guidance for you who are yet to graduate I can only give you advice based on what I’ve experienced.

Tip one:  get ready for a long battle and don’t lose patience or hope.

Tip two:  if you’ve not already, get yourself some kind of work. It doesn’t matter what it is, just take anything you can! I hated my job, but if it wasn’t for it I don’t know what I would have done.

Tip three:  don’t get your hopes up.  I made this mistake; it shatters your confidence and makes it harder to push forward.

Tip four:  get yourself some kind of work experience. I did and although I found it tough with little financial incentive, it was richly rewarding and invaluable.

My final tip: is to stay committed. Even if you look on job websites for days to no avail just keep looking and one day your job will find you.

I hope this advice will come in useful; it seemed to work for me. Now all that’s left for me two do is to move on the next chapter in my life. It’s daunting, nerve-racking and I know it won’t be easy, but that’s life. I imagine that many of you regardless of whether you take my advice or not, are likely to find yourself in my position right now. The only people who won’t be, is those who do give up. I imagine whose people will be very unhappy, whilst desperately and weirdly wishing that they had the nerve-racking feeling that I have right now.