A Summer of Absence

This summer I think I uploaded a totally record-breaking one blog post (sense the sarcasm) back at the beginning of August. It seems –

Sorry, that sentence just got away from me as I looked up and saw a seagull land on the roof opposite, poop, and fly away. Let’s try again.

I was wondering for a lot of last year what would have happened if all the time I spent writing on this website had been channelled into writing my book. So I sort of decided to do that over summer. In numbers, it probably doesn’t seem like I was exceptionally productive, but I did get a significant amount of work done. I had hoped to get it done before summer’s end, which unfortunately has not been the case, but I am so confident it’s nearly there.

That wasn’t the only thing I did over summer, obviously. It was a fairly subdued couple of months, but I saw my friends from home, watched a few F1 races, had a uni friend come to visit, and went to my parents’ huge party near the end of August to celebrate their birthdays and wedding anniversary.

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I took a lot of photos, many of which I have been uploading to my instagram over the last few weeks. I applied for a lot of jobs, which – in-keeping with the last five years of my life – were pretty much wholly unsuccessful. Though I did manage to secure myself a job for term-time at uni, which I’m still really happy about; it’s the first time I’ve actually been successful with a proper job application. Competition these days is unreal. I daydreamed about moving into my new uni house, which is exactly where I am while writing this. We have a 5-bed house of girls this year, and I’ve already developed a bit of a fear of the huge, vicious-looking dog a few doors down.

I also started doing yoga over the summer. This is not really something I planned, but it’s something I’ve found to be an interesting experience so far. Like a whole bunch of other people, I like Yoga With Adriene’s videos on YouTube – being hypermobile, I’ve got to be somewhat cautious, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it. I have practically the worst balance of anybody I know, especially in the mornings, which is when I like to get my exercise done, so there have been some mishaps but I think I’m getting better…IMG_20170923_152431_835Now that summer is over, however, I am starting my first semester of my second year at university. I’ve made a bit of a start on my first couple of texts for English, which is cool. The first one seems to have a load of references to Greek mythology in it, which I think there can never be too much of! I’ve also decided to join the university’s gym this year rather than the one in town I was at last year; it’s more expensive, but I really want to use the courts & the other facilities besides the gym, and hopefully I can persuade some of my friends to come along.

And finally, the last thing is hopefully my return to this website after my summer of absence. I just wasn’t feeling inspired to write anything for it over summer; I can’t say I find life in my hometown to be particularly stimulating, but now I’m back on campus in Liverpool I’m looking forward to jumping right back in!

 

Katy x

Create Your Own Confidence

I’m amazing.

When I was growing up, I heard my mum repeat these words hundreds of times. When I left for university last autumn, I noticed that I’d started saying it myself.

Now, I should probably explain. I don’t go around telling everybody I meet that I’m amazing, and nor does my mum. It would be weird if we did, and would almost certainly come across as big-headed. I do sometimes say it when people ask me how I’ve managed to achieve something, or how I’m coping with six successive deadline weeks because they didn’t think they could if they were in my position. I might say it in jest, I might say it seriously, but I always say it with a grin.

And I’d like to just talk about the power of something as simple as two words like these. It’s hardly news that we live in a world where too many of us lack self-confidence. I’m quite conscious of the fact that throughout my childhood and adolescence, my mum made a deliberate effort where I was concerned to ensure that I wouldn’t fall into that trap. And the best way she could do that was by showing me how to build confidence of my own.

So, over the years, she’d let me in on certain “secrets”. I say “secrets” in quotation marks because these things shouldn’t be secret and aren’t really secret, but they are often hidden. She told me that as a young adult, she was tired of feeling like she knew nothing, so she decided to ask the questions on her mind – no matter how stupid, because usually, somebody else was wondering it too. She encouraged me to ask questions as well.

When I was anxious about presentations, she’d tell me confidence wasn’t necessarily about straight up being confident, but acting like you are. If you act confident, people will see you as confident, and in turn, that will make you confident. It made sense to me. My mum had always appeared confident to me, and people reacted to her as such, because even if she had no clue what she was doing, she would improvise and pretend like she did. (I will make a note: this is not the same as being cocky.)

I like to refer to this particular skill as the ‘art of bullshitting’. I’ve used it many times myself. As a leading prefect, a peer mentor, and a project leader in school. As a group chair at university. Even in every day situations. I truly believe that it is an art form, and a skill.

But you have to build a foundation of self-confidence, and instil in yourself the belief that you can do what you either want, need, or have to do. Hence the phrase at the top of this post: “I’m amazing.” I think this is harder for women than men, and please excuse some generalisation here, but on the whole I’ve found it to be true. Men get into the top jobs because when somebody asks them what they’re good at, they will reel off a list of accomplishments and skills. Women have this idea that we need to be modest and humble, and so we bow our heads and neglect to mention all the things we can do.

One thing you can do to change this habit of shying away is to slowly train yourself to acknowledge when you have achieved something, and to state out loud that it is a positive thing. Just finished your fifth essay in five weeks? Say it out loud and say it with a smile, “I’m amazing.” Going through a hard time but still functioning as a human? Say it out loud and say it with a smile, “I’m amazing.” Managed to get a really stiff-lidded jar open? Say it out loud and say it with a smile, “I’m amazing.”

It’s the small habits, like acknowledging your accomplishments (of any size), that make the difference. And in the spirit of this, here are a couple of TED Talks I found to the same sort of tune:

If you’ve got any tips for confidence, please feel free to comment down below!

Katy x

Loose Posters & Spider Cleavage (When it’s Hot in England)

We Brits are well known for complaining about the weather. If it’s cold, we don’t like it. If it’s hot, we can’t cope with it. If it snows, we think it’s pretty initially, then a pain in the arse to drive in. Essentially, if it’s anything other than a mid-range temperature where you’re not hot but not cold (i.e. on extremely rare occasions), we will find something to complain about.

So I came home for the summer the weekend before last, having spent the majority of the past nine months in windy, windy Liverpool. Did I mention it’s windy up there? Anyway, so I come home and suddenly the country has a heat wave! It is not windy where I live. I honestly think my town could run for the least windy part of the UK. As I look out of my window at the trees right now, there are about four tree branches that are vaguely shifting maybe a couple of inches side to side. The rest of them? Still.

Anyway, this past weekend has been especially hot. 32C, or 89F, which may sound cool enough to those of you from countries that are meant to be hot, but heat in England is way hotter than heat in a hot country. I don’t know how it works, but our land and our buildings and the fact we only have heating, not air con, means we cannot cope.

I’ve adopted a fan in my room which hasn’t really been off much for the past week. And early on Saturday morning I woke up to a persistent flapping sound every few seconds. Turns out that the fan had loosened half of the blu tac holding up the poster I have above my head. There was some debate going on in my head – you know, do I leave it there and risk it falling on my face when I go back to sleep… and so I ended up standing on my pillow at half five in the morning, putting the poster back up.

land army poster
(The poster in question)

Then on Sunday, father’s day here in the UK, I went to the outhouse to grab an ice lolly (that’s where we keep our freezer), when a spider came out of nowhere, and fell into the cleavage of the playsuit I was wearing, causing me to freak out. I thought it simply fell through from the top and out of the bottom, ’cause it’s a short playsuit, but I wasn’t 100% sure. So I go back inside, place the lolly on the counter, and then notice it crawling up out of my cleavage! I’m an arachnophobe, if you don’t know, and so there was much squealing and flapping around, then it ended up in my hair and there was more squealing and flapping around, until eventually it fell onto the floor.

And finally, today, I checked behind my curtain, where there was a new candle I’d forgotten existed, which had melted from the heat and sun coming through my window, leaving a huge puddle of wax on hte windowsill… What’s been happening this week?!

Either way, I’m trying to be productive in this jobless time, and have been working on my writing. Not blog writing yet, but other writing, and I feel like I’ve been making good progress. Hopefully I’ll get this project I’m working on done soon enough, and then I’ll probably be able to focus more on other things. For now, I’m just typing away.

Katy x