A Date With Myself

So tonight, I have decided to go to YO! Sushi. All by myself. It will be glorious.

I read an article some time ago about how eating alone was becoming a popular pastime for “milennials” like myself. Although I do enjoy eating, I always feel like it’s important to eat with someone else, rather than just enjoying a meal on my own.

This can be attributed a lot to my upbringing, as well as the common view that eating is more communal in the East. It’s an idea that’s also popular in Latin American cultures. It’s a perfectly sound view. Eating together bonds humans together like no other pastime, it’s how families stay close, how true friendship is built and how a lot of initial meetings and first dates start. An initial meeting with most people is done along with some ingestion of some sort of substance; be it coffee or a five-course meal.

However, sometimes the person you need to get to know and celebrate is yourself. Sometimes, when you’re too busy with other people, other things, future plans, scores of deadlines; essentially a smorgasbord of different challenges and possibilities; you forget to care for yourself. And by not caring for yourself, you forget to value your family, friends and life in general.

I’ve recently become so caught up with life that it’s affected my relationship with my family. My head is always clouded. I occasionally dread conversations with my parents; they always seem to involve future plans, my career, my health, my academics. These are standard things to talk about and need to be discussed. However, the fact that speaking about my life; which never used to annoy me, and annoys me so much now, tells me that something is wrong.

Externally, my life looks great. Yes, I’ve had the flu for two weeks, a fact I haven’t failed to tell everyone, but besides that it looks great. At least, externally. I’ve achieved a lot recently. I’m working with news outlets and providing coverage and great content, my Instagram feed is fab (this is huge okay), my friendships are solid, I’m generally healthy-ish and, the biggest achievement, of course, is that I have a job for after graduation.

It’s the last thing on that list that bugs me the most. Everyone thinks that because I have a grad job sorted, my life is sorted and I have no worries left. If anything, it’s made me more anxious about moving to London, figuring out a place to live, starting afresh, budgeting, meeting the demands of this highly stressful job, keeping in touch with family and friends and generally still being able to succeed. I need to somehow not lose myself in the process of all of this, and the thought of that happening stresses me out.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m really looking forward to my next chapter, but it still scares me. I’m not trying to fanfare the view that “my life might be sorted but I still have struggles too.”

BUT what I would like to make clear is that pinning your success on the future is unhealthy. By taking my new job, I’ll be working towards what everyone and their parents want for their future. I got through my initial schooling, got experience on my CV, got through university and now have a nice job. Yay. All sorted.

Right? Well, I dunno.

Each new chapter of your life has it’s own challenges. My challenge now is not losing the carefree child that I sometimes am to my adult self. My challenge is being able to keep up with the demands of my new job, of actually living and working in a different city, of being financially independent, handing my house, keeping my relationships intact, the list goes on. And in order to do that, I’ve decided to rationalise going to get sushi by myself.

So, tonight’s dinner is gonna be epic. I have very little money in my bank account, but I’m going to get sashimi and salmon avocado hand rolls anyway.

Other than calming myself down, tonight’s dinner will signify my ability to make myself happy. I’m going to finally satisfy my sushi craving, because everybody else in my life doesn’t seem to empathise with my need for overpriced raw fish.

Moreover, I need to remember than pinning my happiness on other people, or always expecting to only have a good time when others around is not always the best thing for me. I’ve realised that at university, in an environment where people are always around, and back home with my family, where people are always around, I really enjoy my own mental space. From everything. From people, from essays, from revision, from writing articles, from planning life.

Also, slight disclaimer. I’ve been suffering from writer’s block and I think my focus on getting my grad job has been the reason why. My new job will have nothing to do with journalism, which for me is great because I’ll get to learn something entirely new. But I don’t want to lose my ability to write.

Thankfully, being in the politics common room, alone with the free coffee machine, has pushed me to write this out. I understand I haven’t documented the world’s biggest struggle, but I am working on getting back on track, which I feel like I haven’t been even though I look like I am.

So once I finish writing this and get some work done, I’m off to go eat sushi. Then I’ll do some laundry and hopefully, finally, “fix my life.”

 

 

 

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What I’m Grateful For in 2016

What really is there to be grateful for in 2016? The year has been full of strife and struggle on a personal level for many, including myself. The world has seen the rise of the alt-right in the United States, challenges to free trade in the abolition of TPP and TTIP, as well as Brexit, the Syrian conflict is razing Syria to the ground, and taking scores of innocent men, women and children with it. Many celebrities and people worthy of admiration and accolades have passed away this year.

It’s definitely going to be a year we need to reflect on, both on a personal level and in terms of the new world we will see in 2017. I, for one, could not have made it through the year the way I have without the support of my family and friends. And because it’s the last day of the year, I thought I’d send them all a very cheesy message. I wanted to cringe as I’d finished writing it, but I sent it out anyway. Why should we cringe when we’re expressing love and gratitude for our loved ones? We might not tell them how we feel everyday, we might even poke fun at each other on a daily basis, but we know that we couldn’t do without them.

So, with this is mind, I sent out the following message:

“As it’s the end of one of the hardest years of our lives, I just thought I’d say thank you, and I love you so much. I’m really glad our friendship/family is as strong as ever”

So, despite dealing with the loss of loved ones, dealing with disappointments on a variety of different levels, and dealing with world news, I have come out of 2016 as a stronger person.

I’ve also grasped a lot of various opportunities in 2016. I applied for a job that I did not think I would get. I’ve learned about digital marketing. I’ve learned what makes my friendships special. I’ve rediscovered what I love about my family. I’ve signed up for a whole host of writing and marketing projects and I’ve realised that I don’t ever want to stop learning.

And with that, I’m going to leave you with some of my favourite photos from 2016. While it’s been a hard year, I’ve appreciated many moments of it.

Whatever Next?

The title of this post is inspired by a board game I used to play with my family, called Whatever Next. Depending on the square a player landed on, they would have to imitate a certain animal, act out a certain scene or make certain choices in the game that would determine if they could move their token. It’s quite fitting, as it’s almost an analogy for the choices we make in our lives. 

2016 has been a year of chaos, reflection and change. As I welcome 2017, I think of the trials and tribulations I have been through on a personal level this year, but also the supposedly new world order that could affect my future, and that of my peers.

The future is daunting. My university graduation is six months away. I must admit, it is scary to go beyond the confines of education, and the safety blanket of family, friends and my day-to-day life that I have grown so accustomed to. However, when the time comes, I know I’ll have to meet the challenges of the big, wide, adult world head-on. While I will miss the life I have led in the past 20 years, there is no way to go back to them. When I wear my black cap and gown, walk across the stage to receive my diploma, and shake the vice-chancellor’s hand, my time will be up. And it will be time to move on.

So what will I be moving on to? I am getting this sort of question very often these days. Will I launch into a Masters degree? Will I go straight into journalism? What if I want to try something new?

I’m going to share a very personal story, that will hopefully help you understand the trajectory I hope my life will take.

When I was thirteen years old, I still held my childhood dream of becoming a well-renowned author. My dream life consisted of working for huge news organizations, of writing pages and pages of literature. My dream was to transport audiences into a world of dreams, and to write for hours on end. With that dream in my heart, I happened upon the chance to go to a book signing and workshop, by none other than Anthony Horowitz. One of my best friends found the event and made sure I went alone with her (thanks Shaneelah).

He had authored the last book in the Alex Rider series (or so we thought) at the time, and Shaneelah, her brother and I were very keen to meet him, and get the entire series of books, which I had coveted over the years, signed by him.

I remember being so starstruck, that when he chose me to ask a question, after waiting for 20 minutes with my arm up, I could not find the words to tell him what an inspiration he was to me. My mother, who caught on to my infectious excitement, spoke up.

“My daughter loves your books. She wants to become a writer, what are your top tips for doing so?”

Mr. Horowitz beamed at me with a warm smile. “Well, besides reading and writing constantly, get some life experiences. If you want to write about extreme sports, do some extreme sports. If you want to write about horror, go to haunted areas and talk with local people. If you want to write about the corporate world – you get my point.”

At the time, the fact that Anthony Horowitz spoke directly to me was enough to keep me going. I continued reading; I continue to write wherever I get the opportunity to do so. My desire to do an English literature degree quickly shifted, and I chose to study philosophy, politics and economics instead. I could see myself going for serious journalism upon graduation.

But then, something shifted within me at university. I started getting involved in startups run by my friends, and even founded my own social enterprise. I was doing marketing work, going to various conferences, meeting new people. I cast my mind back to those fateful words that Anthony Horowitz had said on that day seven years ago. I decided that I didn’t want to stop learning just yet, I didn’t want to just write without actually having new experiences.

When my parents heard this, they thought that I was absolutely bonkers. But the truth is, there are many people like me at university. People who want to dabble in consulting, work with a startup, campaign for environmental awareness and be the finance editor of their university newspaper.

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. A lot of my extra-curriculars right now involve writing. Before I commit to writing full-time, I want to explore my options first. I am unsure of exactly what I’d like to do straight after I get my degree, so rather than doing nothing, I am doing everything I can to keep my options open. I’m applying for jobs not just in journalism, but in a variety of other fields, such as marketing and consulting. Should I get a journalism job, I will gladly take it, and will keep finding ways to learn and experience life outside of my office hours. But, should I receive a job offer unlike anything I’ve experienced before, I will consider taking it.

Life is too short to stop learning. I am at an ideal age where I can try new things, either succeed or fail, and learn new things. There is no time like the present, and that is how I hope to shape my future.