I was inspired to write this post by my good pal Beth, with whom I studied at university. She wrote a post on her blog about how 2014 had been a little frustrating, and how she was taking steps to ensure this year would be a vast improvement. I don’t think Beth and I are alone in wondering where life went after the undergraduate days, where we had the freedom to get wonderfully drunk, discuss Dracula and pursue our future writing careers without the burden of: ‘Will this pay the rent?’ Unless you stumbled (mortarboard-and-all) from Bristol cathedral into your dream job, I think most of my fellow graduates have found the afterlife quite an anti-climax.
It sounds silly, but when you’re in the careers lectures and the one-on-ones and the ‘development’ meetings, you assume that you’ll just walk into a job you like after graduation. I did everything I could to make my CV golden; I edited student newspapers, joined drama and riding clubs, worked as a tutor for younger students, gained work experience and made loads of fabulous friends. It seemed like the perfect package – surely the Guardian would be begging me to join the team?
No, I wasn’t that foolish. But I did think I would find something, and to be fair I did. I worked in my university’s alumni office for a year after graduation, and it was a wonderful job. But when I relocated to London to start my Masters, it was a completely different story. You’d think that London would be a piece of cake; every charity, business and brand has plopped their headquarters in the capital. It must have a million, billion jobs to choose from! And it does. But there are a million, billion, trillion other people applying for them. Once I found a vacancy on a recruitment site for a plain old admin assistant. No particular skills or experience, just data entry and fetching tea. In the first four hours it had received 87 applications..
At first I faced it head on, thinking that if I just sent enough applications, one would get through. I reckon I wrote about 50 decent applications in the first few weeks of London life (I did have a crappy rent-paying job, just not one that gave me the will to live). I like to think I’m a capable wordsmith, and I thought I knew what an appealing cover letter looked like. But after weeks and weeks without even an interview for a ‘real job’, the sparkling bubble that is London started looking rather oily.
To cut a long story short, about a week ago I moved back home to Hampshire. There were a couple of reasons involved, but for quite a while I realised I wasn’t really a ‘London’ person. I love going there for daytrips to university and work, but there’s something about living there I just can’t get on with. Everyone says this, but my GOD there are so many people it is stifling. And also smoggy. I enjoy travelling into the centre, and before Christmas I was working as a temp at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, which I really loved! But I missed the peace and quiet of the countryside, and I am much happier and more productive now.
So the reason for this post is to help me focus on returning home after being away for almost five years, and to start thinking about the months ahead. Ironically, I’ve now managed to find casual work at a national newspaper in the city, so I have a kind of springboard to avoid utter destitution before springtime. And despite my bitching, it’s cool to have an excuse to visit London, as the country can be a little dull on rainy days.
So if you’ll just bear with, here is a little list of things I’m doing to push myself forward, because really I’ve been rather blue.
As I said, my productivity has mega increased since moving home, which is why this week I’ve been pouring over Sylvia Plath’s miserable masterpieces and trying not to see everything in red and white. I love my Masters, and I’ve worked really hard to pay my fees and get the most out of it. This will continue!
Last summer I completed Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar programme. For some reason I never blogged about it, but it was literally the best thing I’ve ever done! Aside from making me shed lots of weight, it helped me sleep better and drastically reduced my sleep talking, which is a hilarious thing to be cursed with. Since Christmas I’ve completely given into jaffa cakes and leftover chocolate coins, and I can feel myself getting podgy and tired. Back to the routine!
My wildlife illustrations are proving very popular, but I need to commit more time to them while I have the chance. I’ve been meaning to branch out into tote bags, stationery sets and all sorts for ages, and I’m finally going to do it! Similarly, I’ve been veeery quietly writing a novel for a while now, and I need to start giving myself the time to bash some words out each week rather than writing one lonely sentence before falling asleep to Call the Midwife.
Volunteering for badgers
If you follow me on Twitter, you may see the occasional post about badgers and badger cull politics. I am really passionate about these monochrome little creatures, how ignorant our environment secretaries have been, and just the whole miserable business. The Badger Trust is an amazing charity that helps injured badgers and raises awareness for their welfare, and I will soon be volunteering with their West Surrey branch! I’m hoping to learn a lot about badger ecology and help out as much as possible.
So there we are. What started as a rather depressing blog post has blossomed into a list of things that I think will cheer me up. Alongside the streams of ‘2015 IS GOING TO BE GREAT’ posts in the blogosphere, I’ve read a few other blogs where people are finding it hard to face 2015 with much cheer. I think perhaps if we all focus on the little things that make us feel better we can make it to spring, when we will be showered with sunshine, bunnies and easter eggs. Hoorah!