Keeping Cool

Over the last couple of years, various people have told me they admire how I manage to stay so “chill” about things. In the majority of cases, they have all actually used the word “chill”, so I guess it must be at least partially true. From my driving instructor, to friends, to onlooking teachers and professors, it would seem that I somehow exude an “everything’s cool” vibe, and so I thought I’d just address that.

First off, I’d say yeah – I handle things pretty well these days. It’s something I’ve always done fairly well in certain circumstances, but for a long time I’d be hanging on to sanity by a thread in others. Need an example?

Once, my brother was running around with a friend before the school day started and the two of them crashed into each other, resulting in him bleeding from his head. I was the one who took control of that situation. She was freaking out and he was stunned, bleeding and crying. I got him to sit down and her to attract the attention of a teacher I’d seen through one of the classroom windows. Soon after, he was taken to hospital for his head to be glued and I continued with my school day. (No serious damage was done, don’t worry – I’m not heartless.)

FYI: I was seven. They were nine.

Meanwhile, until I was sixteen and halfway through my GCSE exams, the prospect of any exams terrified the living daylights out of me. I’d feel sick, I’d get shaky, I couldn’t open my mouth to talk, I couldn’t eat. During French oral exams, I’d cry.

So what changed?

If I had to pin it down to one thing, it would be my acceptance of the fact that no matter how important these things seemed, or how important people made them out to be, nothing had actually gone catastrophically wrong yet. If I’d not done so well in one exam, that was basically it. I’d just not done so well. It was learning the lesson that mistakes are cool and the world kept spinning, essentially.

Somewhere along the way between then and now, I became a firm believer in changing what you can, and accepting what you can’t. Letting go of some control was difficult, but necessary. I took out some of the emotion and put the energy in on the drive. I also listened to what my mum had been telling me my entire life (and still continues to tell me), which is that as long as you pretend you’re confident, people will believe you are.

At some point, you might even believe it too.

And basically that’s how I approach my life. If problems come my way, which they frequently do, I don’t give them a moment of panic. I ask myself if it’s something within my control, or without. If it’s within, how do I solve it? If it’s without, how do I best get around it?

If I’m in a group project and nobody’s met their deadlines, it’s not in my control that they haven’t done the work, but it is in my control to remind them that they haven’t, and that they aren’t the only party who will suffer if it doesn’t get done.

If I’ve got a deadline tomorrow afternoon and I’ve done less than half of the required work for it by the night before, it’s still entirely within my power to get it done as long as I prioritise it. Until such time as the clock runs out, there’s still time to alter the situation.

I don’t have a magic solution to stress or a cheat sheet to get through life problem-free, but I do have the knowledge that something isn’t impossible until you treat it as impossible, and at that point, it’s just you getting in your own way. I have the knowledge that stressing out about a situation will get you nowhere, but deciding what you can change and acting on it will get you somewhere.

So – long story short – how do I stay so chill? I trust in my capabilities while acknowledging my limitations. I change what I can, and try my best to deal with what I can’t. And in the majority of cases, everything works out A-okay.

Katy x

6 Things I Learned from Adolescence

I will turn 20 in November of this year, so here’s a reflection on a few things I learned over the last decade (because let’s be real, puberty usually starts before thirteen).

1) Literally nobody cares if you have a few spots except you.

As someone who had acne from the age of ten to the ripe old age of seventeen (and still gets stubborn spots on a regular basis), I feel like I’m in a justified position to make this statement. I didn’t even start wearing the smallest bit of makeup until I was seventeen, and absolutely no-one ever thought my acne was as bad as I did. If someone does call you out for having acne, they aren’t worth even a second of your time.

2) You won’t talk to most of your school year ever again once you’ve left school.

You’ve probably heard it before, you may have shrugged it off, but it is 100% true. Without that daily contact, and being forced to sit next to that person or across from this person, you’ll find that while you could make good conversation, they aren’t actually close friends. They won’t contact you, and you won’t think to contact them. I left my sixth form nine months ago and talk to only two of my old school friends on a regular basis (out of 180 students in my year).

3) It’s okay that you won’t talk to most of these people ever again once you’ve left school.

I’ve got to admit, sometimes this prospect was one of the few things keeping me sane while I was at school. But I know for a lot of other people it scares them because then you’re faced with the prospect of having to make new friends all over again, and the like. So here’s me saying: believe me, there are way more people out there who you’ll come into contact with each and every day, and wherever you end up, you will stumble upon people to have a good time with.

4) Despite what teachers tell you, school does not prepare you for life, and often makes significantly little sense.

Let’s glance at the curriculum for a second here – does school teach you how to budget finances? Nope. How to cope with job hunting? Nope. How to forge a career out of the thing you like best? Nope. How about the simple things, like how to choose the correct bank account, or look into the right insurance for your car? Not even close!

School does provide you with vital skills like reading and writing, and you’ll probably leave with the most basic mental maths skills (because nobody apart from maths degree students remembers pythagoras’s theorem and all that jazz once they’ve left, let’s be real). But overall, school gives you little to no preparation for surviving in the real world. Just bear that in mind.

5) Being selfish is good on occasion.

An incredibly important thing to note: you cannot live your life for anybody else. You cannot always bend to somebody else’s will. If you’d rather stay at home and get some work done, whatever that work may be, instead of going out with people again – you do that. If you want to find out something, ask. Research. Find out. Do things that benefit you.

6) If you’re trying to do something, people probably admire you far more than they judge you.

This is true for a multitude of things. If you’re scared to tell people you’re doing something different, remember that they’ll probably admire your effort and action more than they’ll judge you for doing what the rest of them aren’t. Alternatively, if you’re overweight (or gangly and skinny, it works both ways) and scared to go on a run or to a gym for fear of being judged for your size, know that if people notice you at all, they’re probably admiring that you’re making the effort to be healthier, not hating on your size.

If you’ve learned anything from your teenage years, lemme know in the comments!

Katy x

Being Single

In contrast to my previous post about finding true love, I thought today I’d talk about the reasons I’m just fine being single. I’ve found a lot of people jump into relationships – however serious or not – quite young. And when they do, they don’t really know themselves. They don’t always know what they want, who they really are, or any of that.

Being single for this amount of time has let me be sure of those things. I’m lucky in that I always knew who I was, in a way, because I was always someone who wanted to write, and read, and live in a world of my own imaginings. But to progress through your teenage years without the distraction of relationships, and being able to focus on yourself, has some perks.

For one, my embarrassing moments, embarrassing outfits and bad haircuts can happily fade from existence. Photos still exist, of course, but I had the time to find my style purely based on what I like and what I want, rather than because I was trying to impress someone.

I’ve also spent all the winters with all the leg hibernation. Girls, you understand me. No partner = no shave. It’s great until you reach the point where you start to feel more woolly-mammoth than human, but then you start the process all over again… English winters last long enough!

There are less material aspects to it, though. Without someone there to colour your own perspective of yourself, you learn to appreciate yourself first and foremost. I see people who flit from relationship to relationship, and then suddenly find themselves single and have no idea how to be outside of a couple. They rely on reassurances from someone else, or their self-confidence only comes from compliments. I’ve not had that, so as I’ve grown I’ve become confident in my own skin. I don’t need somebody to tell me I look good in order for me to feel like I do.

If I had to give one piece of advice on relationships to other people, I would say only involve yourself in them when it feels totally right to you. Don’t do it just to say you’ve been in one, don’t do it just because you feel left out, or pressured. I’ve seen people do that, and I’ve seen people date around so much they get hurt by rumours flying around school, and whatever else. I’ve seen people whose only self-respect comes from others. Don’t let that be you – take your teenage years of awkwardness and bumbling, and be selfish. Determine what you want first, and if that’s to be in a relationship, then do it. If not, don’t.

Katy x