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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A future

It surprises me, when and how I think of that

Something of just you and me,

 

A future –

 

(so vivid and real)

That it may be even possible

 

I think ahead like always,

Thoughts creep in slow and

Flow all around my head fast and quick,

Trying to escape at first but being trapped, remaining

Setting something up, strong

Without any chance of defeat

 

I hope you can fit and fight on with me

In this tight and rigid space of my mind

For what the future will hold, brings forth fancies and opportunities to rip away set ties,

Unexpected but accepted, in time

 

I hope you’ll be beside me, for the big and the small things
All I can want and dream for you,

Is just to be.

Whatever that might come to mean,

All in good time.

 

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/

 

 

Irish Blog Awards 2017 finalist!

Irish Blog Awards 2017 finalist!

So I couldn’t believe my luck this week, when I received a lovely email to let me know that I had made it as a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards this year in the politics and current affairs personal blog category.  It was amazing to see this blog listed alongside seven other pretty impressive blogs with their takes on topical issues, holding stances set on history to homelessness.

Last year being shortlisted within this section of the national awards gave me a huge buzz to keep on blogging and this next step has for sure encouraged me even further. So, looking to the future – I hope to play out my role and really feel that this place among my blogging peers is deserved!

This weekend will see the first installment of “The Final Year Files” and following this, I’ll be getting pretty political on the ground in the coming days as well as attending the blog awards themselves (eek!) – so keep your eyes right here.

As always, thanks so much for keeping up with this blog and engaging with the posts. Very excited to keep it going and growing!

21 blog posts series take twenty one

21 blog posts series take twenty one

Twenty-one: “The final, the future”

So as we draw this blog series to a close together, we come to the number that represents the age I am now. I think birthdays remind us that we’re equal, being celebrated for being born and growing older. Nobody can take your birthday away from you, no matter what age you are. So as we draw the curtain on this series, which I hope you enjoyed or got something out of, I’d like to make this post about the future. I see the future as something positive, with the sense of unknown possibilities to come.

Now this wasn’t always the case for me. I spent my secondary school life waiting and dreading the Leaving Certificate and often I thought about the hassle of final year when I began studying in college. It’s because we know we’ve to face challenges in our future and in the present time, we may not feel ready and so that creates a sense of fear. A good few friends of mine are in final year, preparing for exams and ultimately finishing their undergraduate degrees and for some, being finished with college forever.

Should that create a sense of panic? I guess it depends on how you look at it. But in so many ways, the future is inevitable and really being scared about it proves little purpose. Change is unavoidable and it’s really up to us whether or not we change with the times. But honestly, we probably aren’t being very fair to the idea of progress if we don’t at least try along the way. I’m excited for the future to see how much the world will change in my life time and how I’ll react to that change.

It’s amazing to think of what the future might bring about. Whether that be new friends and family members, relationships, break-ups, jobs, joys and challenges – all aspects that make up a life. I think a weight is lifted once you decide to accept life’s positives and negatives simply as they are. Blame the universe or God or whoever you want, even yourself if there’s an element of fault there but that acceptance of life happening without your complete control is often a hard lesson to learn but one we all must face up to.

The future is ever changing and honestly, exciting enough. All these blog posts I’ve done covering pretty varying topics, I hope will stand the test of time and be carried on into the future. Life doesn’t really change overnight a lot of the time and often we’re too wrapped up our own things to notice the future happening. Age for the most part brings wisdom and we must remember that we are setting examples for the generations to come, whether this be close relatives or even work colleagues – we all have a part to play in this.

I don’t think age matters when it comes to having an independent thought or opinion, having an “established voice” in order to be right about something. That’s not always the case and young people should be encouraged to speak out, with importance placed on their confidence and ability to speak their minds without being deemed “cheeky” or ill mannered. We’re all being educated well and I’d like to think we can form a thought or two, and shouldn’t be afraid to voice it when we have it.

So thinking to a future without fear, may you: reflect, appreciate the ability to travel, attend the events that mean something to you, avoid the pitfalls in relationships, value and appreciate individual friends, understand that loss happens and plays a role, appreciate the lessons of history, know the curse of social media, not apologise for your preferences, learn from mentors and appreciate wisdom, manage your money, respect the responsibility nature demands, appreciate sport and athleticism, question in order to understand politics, be kind to your body and yourself, find common ground within family, recognise change in journalism, know and trust the power of your own voice, expect the unexpected, be welcoming to refugees and finally – understand that the future is not something to be afraid of.

(And if you realised that they are all the titles of these blog posts, well done – I now declare you’re a fan).

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

21 blog posts series know nineteen

21 blog posts series know nineteen

Nineteen: “Expecting the unexpected”

Now not to steal a line from the RSA, but not only does driving involve expecting the unexpected, in life we should remind ourselves to try and maintain that same mentality. We don’t know what might happen tomorrow or next month and so on, the unexpected is never too far away. Does that mean that we live in fear and refuse to go outside the door? I’d like to hope not. The unexpected occurrence doesn’t necessarily have to be negative, but for the most part – it can mean something that’ll change your lifestyle or how things were before this vital change of events.

Whatever your opinion is on fate or things happening for a reason, it’s impossible really to have complete control over what is going to happen in our lives. Not to scare the control freaks out there, but this is very true. You don’t know who you might meet, what you might see and what could stay with you in the form of a lasting memory or something having a lasting affect. I think these things often can give us an opportunity to reflect as well, which shouldn’t be knocked as I’ve said before somewhere.. (https://cathyinconversation.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/the-first-of-21-blog-posts/).

What I can say is that life is going to shock you and leave you feeling a little insecure at times. But often, it’s a form of a test, if you want to look at it that way. Can you overcome a challenge, big or small or will you crumble in defeat before it? I think both reactions are respectable and understandable and it’s about having the support around you when these things happen in order to tackle the challenge knowing that you’re not alone. I don’t think that life waits for anyone and it’s up to us to keep up and keep going, constantly.

The unexpected things also teach us not to take things for granted in terms of the way they are simply. This is true of people as well. When someone falls ill unexpectedly, it’s really up to those close by to pick up the pieces and really play their role in the time of need. When someone of any age falls ill mentally, physically or even discovers a disease or disability – this presents a new changing challenge for the person and those around them. It means we all pull our weight a bit more to help and that we get on with it, living in hope that together it can something to overcome.

I think that this brings about something that’s universally understood: that this sort of unfairness that happens to people can happen to anyone. This challenges your sense of humanity and I think that’s when your humanity is challenged, in terms of whether you help or whether you turn your back to the reality someone else is facing, this is the real test of who you are. Our impressions of how people react to these situations also helps us to understand people at their core, individually. We don’t know how we’ll be in that sort of situation until we face it head on. I know it’s not something we desire to be in, but the reality is that we will have to face it in some shape or form.

These challenges change us and shape us and although often difficult, they should be embraced in some way, I suppose even in a process of reflection. I would recommend, holding on to your values as much as possible throughout these times. Whether it’s a loss or a gain you encounter, you must prove to yourself that one incident isn’t going to change who you are and what you value forever. Possibly easier said than done, but over time can be something to accept.

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