The final year files: November

The final year files: November

Hi again!

Welcome back to the bitter cold of late November night in final year. I’m going to land you straight in here during “study week” after surviving the brutal battles of week 12. Last week involved handing in two final essays worth 60-70% of modules so, good thing you didn’t see me last week is all I’ll say. But we got there in the end and honestly, for once, I’m happy with how it went down.

Meanwhile exams are just around the corner, and if by the corner I mean the weekend, then quite literally. It’s hard to believe that the first semester is complete and my friends and I have nearly come out the other side intact, amazing right? Well, we’ll just complete the final hurdle now – but frankly it’s 4 hurdles as there’s four exams. But I can tell you I’ll be the happiest wanna-be jockey or athlete if I jump these last few without any falls.

What I came to realise this month, regarding college life and the big-bad-world, is that really, you’re at it alone. But not at all in a bad way. The thing is, nobody is going to stand up directly for your own beliefs and passions bar you. This is not necessarily the case all the time, of course we have our few trustees on it, but there are times when you’re left to face challenges by yourself, with your game face on. So you need to be ready and willing to go that extra mile for what you believe in and value.

It’s all about strength in not allowing the pressure from others penetrate your mind too much. Everyone’s got their stuff, a given – but don’t let yourself be a dumping ground for others. Not a pleasant time or something that represents your worth. Be a safe haven instead, where others come to you to share, to overcome or solve problems, not make the situation worse. Working together for a solution and having a few giggles along the way.

I’ve come to see that this year is a different one, for many and maybe for me, there will be no more college after this. We aren’t in the middle of it, even though it might sometimes feel that way: no. In the coming months we will all go our separate ways, and like a sieve, only the important friendship and information grains we’ll keep.

Sure, this is a scary thought but it’s also a motivator. Like all or most, I want to do well in my exams. But, I know it’ll be nobody elses’ fault if I don’t. I think that’s the essence of adult life (I say now as a 22 year old of last Sunday). That song about doing it “My way” is really all that it comes down to. I’ve seen my friends (who aren’t my elders I might add) take on the big smoke in the last months and start new jobs in large firms. I’m proud of them, they’ve grabbed the big guns and are holding on but I know their leap of faith can’t have been easy.

Following this, some hard-hitting home truths appeared to me over the past month to do with friends, family and health scares. These showed me again how life is truly unpredictable. We really just don’t know how it’s going to go. Now, you can either live in fear of the unknown or embrace this fact and try to move with the flows of life in this way.. you let me know which aspect you enjoy more.

While I write this sniffling away in getting over my annual study week cold, I realise I don’t have it too bad. I need to stop building up problems and making my collection of rubbish for the dumping ground a large one. From now on, I’m not going to sweat the small stuff and be more accepting towards the little not-ideal situations that life throws. While always reminding myself that I’ve a decent family around me, friends to call on and treasure and a boyfriend who’s cute as can be (I mean just look at the picture for this blog, oh my!). 

So going into the final month of 2017, I wish for little change in order for me to accept how things are, and live in the now. Oh yeah and do well in the exams, while we’re wishing for things.

All images are taken from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

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The final year files: October

The final year files: October

Hi again!

Hope you’re feeling spooky on the day that’s in it. Welcome back to the bitter place of Hell that comes in the form of final year at university, brutal I know. Now October was a scary time as the college as monsters decided to come to life as assignments. These fiends were worth a high proportion of the grade and were coming all at once, a little thrilling I must admit. The dreaded and much spoken about week 6 came and went and didn’t take too many victims on its rampage (but it was close, let me tell you). So overall, it’s been a fairly scary time, so much so that Halloween itself was welcomed.

Now I know I started things off positively last month and I don’t want to totally lose that, but I will be brutally honest and say, from the front lines – we’re finding it difficult here. I thought for a short while that it was just me, when my not-so-amazing first grade of final year came back with a bang. But I soon found out that I was not alone in this pit of despair (there’s actually a few pals down in this pit, we’re holding things up pretty well).

So although it’s been stressful, it didn’t result in total failure and even encouraged some unity- that’s a plus yeah?

To change it up, I’ll bring you right back to the end of September, when my fellow students and I arose from the final year pits and attended the March 4 Choice gathering rally in Dublin city centre. An amazing experience, difficult to some up honestly as it was really such a huge thing. It ranged from chants to bants from young people (younger than I) and those a little more mature (much older than I). But it was clear that we were all united collectively for the one cause, something that on the day was tiring yet very rewarding. I’m so happy that we gave up a day to march for those whose days have been destroyed and changed utterly due to our restricting, inhumane and cruel eighth amendment.

On another more positive note, I got to attend the Irish Blog Awards at the start of the month due to this blog being placed in the final of the Personal Politics and Current Affairs Section. This was pretty incredible to be surrounded by the community – another huge one I’ll admit – of those doing something similar to me right now writing like this actively. I was honoured to see the title of this blog to pop up on screen, and although it wasn’t crowned a winner – I’m delighted for the blogs who did triumph. It really encouraged me again to keep this going further, coming back next year stronger.

So I’d like to say that we’ve now really settled into the way of final year with lectures, housemates, friends mostly known well and familiar, assignments, tests and presentations – it’s clear that we are doing things on an individual basis. We’ve faced the wrath of assignments and maybe learned a little bit more about our own capabilities. Things really came into focus when I attended a jobs fair in the college. Seeing the adult world creep closer from all sides, in an all-consuming manner probably should have panicked me. My friends graduating (although delayed slightly by the gal herself Ophelia) should have also but fair enough, it did have affect and made me think of the future ahead.

The future is dividing us as students right now. It appears to me that some have their ideas decided upon, settled and excited to run with. They have their eyes and mind focusing forwards only, not exactly seeing what’s going on either side of them. For me personally, that hasn’t happened yet and honestly, I don’t really want it to. Call me crazy here but I’d rather smell the final year flowers than think of the big company I’ll sign my soul over to or masters course I’ll choose from a hat just to have a plan together.

I know the unknown is a scary place but for me, tackling the monsters of final year right now – the unknown doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.

 

All images are taken from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

The final year files: September

The final year files: September

Welcome back – a mostly positive term we hear sometimes whether we want to or not, on entering a new (and this being final in title) year of college.

From what I’ve seen it has been met with mixed reaction. Some delighted to be back on familiar ground, leaving their eramus adventure as a wonderful memory to look back on, and others have slowly but surely come around to the idea of this being our last year in college together.

There has been a huge sense of “back to reality” present within the past weeks. From sitting together once again socialising as normal, finding the ideal spot in lectures as a must and trying desperately to recognise a familiar face in the crowded halls. Whether this be someone you particularly want to see or otherwise.

It has been quite the challenge, something a little different to previous years – probably influenced by our ever changing level of maturity in coming to the end of the road with college years. There’s a sense of pressure that we must know and be sure of what we’re doing with our lives, before we even attempt to get through this challenging last year, it’s worth 70% of the degree did you know? (As if we all didn’t have that ingrained enough).

Last week, we attended a careers talk on where our degree could take us and what’ll become of us after we escape the enclosing college walls. It made me appreciate the safety of college, of familiarity in a way. But to be honest, I feel more unsure now than ever before on what I might do. Masters are daunting but doable potentially, but wouldn’t it be amazing to get a scholarship for a PhD – I mean, that’s something I really need in my life right now at 21. Who knows for sure what the right path is, but be sure to decide immediately.. no pressure.

In some ways it was the opposite, these weeks have felt like first year again, or some in-between uncomfortable area within getting back into the swing of things in terms of academia and the exceptions within that. Sitting in the library, having not been there for seven months in total – it felt like I had never left. This year I also decided to move back closer to where my student accommodation was in first year. Maybe this was in a sense a weird way of stepping back in time. Also since we have entered back into a year that contains more 3rd years than ourselves as 4th years, there’s some strange faces about in lecture halls we are unfamiliar with, which is just the nature of our course.

But honestly I think this sense of going back to reality came from the sheer amount of freedom the last year presented, the majority of us included. For myself it was my various placements to independent work outside of college, this never really held a set classroom setting. So this year it’s like being dragged back kicking and screaming, for the most part anyway.

I found there was no time to find your feet within the first weeks, only now have we settled as we approach week 4 at high speed (with four sort of important essays to complete in the next two weeks). With books to buy and read quickly, friends to see and catch up with as well as a gym to join and get bearings with (yes I did that), it’s been busy to say the least.

The rain pouring constantly really brought the whole complaint of “summertime is over” to a bitter reality. But we got through it. Moving into a new home with an old friend, classmate and housemate, along with new housemates brought about a feeling in that little sense of difference in that fact that it’s the last time for now that we’ll be moving in together for college.

But we let all the emotional stuff fade and got focused on the books straight away (for the most part). Even though I actually feel more on top of things for once, for some reason, the final year hill seems higher and taller and further away than ever before. I thought chipping away at the mountain would be a good strategy, but now it feels like smashing your whole self straight into the mountain would be a better option.

I have found some joy though in planning breaks, of times when college will be put to the back of the mind. These things to look forward to play a huge role, and honestly push us to do well in order to reap the rewards guilt free. A simple one, I’ve limited myself to only watching TV on weekends and I spend each night (about an hour or so) reading before bed (admittedly something to do with college) but at least it’s done in comfy pj’s with the fairy lights on – pretty blissful if you ask me.

Now I’m sure some of you reading this think this life I’m living is so boring compared to the “mad” times college is supposed to be. Sure, you can choose to go wild, skip lectures and drink coffees or other beverages on an off day – but these days catch up on you. Pretty easily actually, and become more than you thought they were – instead of simply going out one night for a few – that turns into a day in bed, and what does that involve? Two missed study opportunities and will have to be found again in a limited time. Not something you want every week to be.

So avoid the hassle. Final year is a bit of a beast, but let’s hope we are all going to be on level with that beast fairly soon, prepared to take on whatever might try knock us. Final year is also something I don’t plan on doing twice, so I’m going to try get the most out of it.

So as September nears its end, final year seems to be fully in motion and going forward, I intend to battle the beast and attack the mountain with various tools at my disposal. Hope you’ll stick around to see exactly how that goes down!

Until next time, fyf.

All images are taken from my personal instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

 

 

21 blog posts series find fifteen

21 blog posts series find fifteen

Fifteen: “Being kind to your body and in turn, yourself”

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Body Image Movement’s Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary film “Embrace”. I would highly recommend seeing this as a woman, as it brings about the feeling of acceptance of yourself and appreciation of other women. The piece expressed simply joys within celebrating our differences in a completely positive way by hearing personal stories while exposing the harsh realities of plastic surgery, dieting and the role of mass media. The documentary covered continents and we met some very different people along the way, but the one topic of embedded negativity towards body image prevailed. Some exposures were made of the darkness within the modelling world and the film also looked to aging and how this is seen as something to be tackled instead of embraced.

A magazine editor and a fashion photographer were also met with, who exposed the harsh truths of the unbelievable power of photo-shop as well as the often cruel world of designers as well as the misleading terms used in fashion, such as “plus sized” describing a UK size 12 woman, who fit in with average sized weight and height guidelines set. It’s a crazy different world that we’re exposed to and shown as normal every single day. The picture perfect model was often described as an “alien” due to the fact that with the work of photo-shop, this woman actually did not exist in terms of looking how she does in the magazine.

Every issue that came up from the women who told their stories, (who are incredible in their own right, I might add simply as modern women) – was rooted in beauty standards we see as normal and set in our world. Depression, self-harm and even a near suicide arose as difficulties faced when these women felt they didn’t fit the mould for what a woman should look like and in turn, be – with such a high value placed on appearance in our social norms. We are sold an idea through the mass media of how we should look like, what’s in trend this season and what new fad diet can “change your life” in order to make things better.

Taryn showed how indeed, even when you’ve reached the “perfect body”, (the bikini body example we are all too familiar with) that there’s absolutely no guarantee that this will result in happiness. It all comes back to positive versus negative thinking around our bodies and which outweighs the other. These fad diets promote negative thinking towards body image and can develop into obsession that is in no way healthy. I think in the way that these diet plans work and hook a person, we are taught the idea that the body you have is something bad that needs correcting or to be fixed and worked on. But that simply isn’t the case.

Naturally, your body goes through changes throughout your life. The documentary also went about looking into our war we have with aging and this embedded fear that the beauty companies are cashing in on. It made me realise that whatever stage you’re at in life, your body is going to be with you regardless, so really – you don’t want to put yourself against it. Bring it back to asking simply, why would you want to do that?

As a woman, you can undergo pregnancy and your weight can and will fluctuate, how does it make logical sense to hate your body for doing what it does and should do naturally? For creating your family and providing your baby with the nourishment he/she needs and craves. Now, going on a health kick for yourself from time to time is something good in order to feel refreshed and energised, resulting in proven health benefits but really the idea of punishment – this has no place in your workout routine.

It’s okay to treat yourself and it’s okay to work hard on you, it’s not okay to feel bad about either of these. We need to change our mentality around weight and weight loss. The celebrity diets and the scandalous headlines about losses or gains cannot continue to influence us. It lacks dignity and respect for the minds and souls of women as individuals. So I suggest approaching the magazines with caution, be aware on social media for negative body imaging or messages and allow this natural and positive change into your life. Your body will stick with you no matter what, as a friend rather than a foe.

If you wish to find out more about the Body Image Movement, check out the website here: https://bodyimagemovement.com/.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/