Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Story about Determination

Photo courtesy of Alex Lloyd Photography


When I transferred universities last year, everything was beginning to look up for me. New environment, new people, new tutors...

Ah yes, I couldn't wait to experience the lecture life.

My English tutors were fantastic, and I really enjoyed the modules from the start. Philosophy, however, was a bit trickier. I took a class on something I'd been doing a lot of for the past 3 years. I was ready to know what I was doing, at least in this one module.

But things never go the way you expect them to.

Everything was fine, until it came for my turn to present. A natural showman, I was ready with my topical meme-filled powerpoint and information on something I already knew a bit about. At least, I thought I did until this presentation. What actually ended up happening was that I totally flopped and the tutor for this module took me to their office for a questioning session that lasted for an hour. Fifty minutes in, I realised I actually didn't know anything at all, felt a bit stupid, and started crying in front of them.

I had wanted to impress these new people so much, and instead I felt as though I'd lost a few brain cells in between my a-levels and my first year of university. They weren't much impressed, and questioned why I was crying. I thought it was pretty obvious, but they did not. From that day on, we never really managed to click.

It then started to go even more wrong. My confidence was knocked, and I didn't end up doing well in any of their essays (the essays are marked anonymously so they didn't know which one was mine, it wasn't personal!). Fast forward to a year later, and I'm in another of their modules, terrified that the same thing was going to happen again. I was determined to prove to them that I actually have a brain, and I was also on a bit of a mission to make them proud. I don't need their approval, but I just wanted to make our working relationship right.

Today, I received my mark from the essay they set.

I got the highest mark I've ever received on a university essay.

Looking back on the essay, I'm quite impressed with it myself. I wrote it a couple of months ago, so I didn't remember what I had written, and I thought for a moment it was someone else's essay. But it was definitely mine! The tutor marked it anonymously again, so they would not have known it was mine. They have also been praising me lately for my contributions to class discussion, which is another major breakthrough. I feel like we've come full circle.

As I'm in my final year of university, it was important for me to fix what had been broken a year before. I came into second year of this university as if it was my first, and so I had a tough job fitting in and catching up with working in the way they think is best. In my final semester, to receive a good mark from this tutor is one of my proudest university achievements. I can finally close that stressful chapter of my life, with the knowledge that I really did my best and it paid off. I didn't spend any more time on that essay than any other essay - it was just my determination to achieve my goal of writing a good essay for this tutor that was strong enough.

I usually have a moral to my stories, and this one is particularly relevant to many aspects of my own life... probably your's too. If you have the ability to fix something in your life that is broken, do it. Or at least give it a damn good go. Sometimes it won't work out, but other times it will, and you will feel so much better for trying in the first place. Even sorting out the smallest things that you think don't matter but absolutely do. One less stress in your life can't be a bad thing.

Today I'm celebrating not just my little win, but my big determination too. 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Responding to my "Dear 20 Year Old Me" Letter

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post, kind of like a letter to my 20 year-old self. I haven't looked at it since I wrote it, as was the rules, but since I'm turning 21 in a week I thought I would return to it and see if anything I predicted actually happened.

I wrote this letter in 2014, which was 4 years ago, so I'm going to read it and get back to you.

Well, here I go. And if you want to read it, here it is.

*After reading the letter*

GIF from 

Oh. My. Gosh.

Can I say I am shook? Or will 17 year old me not understand that word.

Oh my gosh, 'shook' wasn't even a word when I was 17. WEIRD.

My 17 year old self just made my 20 year old self emotional. I used to think I had learnt everything about the world at age 17, but that letter is full of innocence. 

As you probably read, I had made quite a few predictions. Let's see how many I got right!

1. "So, you're 20 now, huh? I bet you thought you'd never get into university, but here you are. Two thirds of the way into your Philosophy and English Literature course. Did you get into Bangor? Or did you decide on Birmingham instead? Either one is fine, by the way, I'm not judging you."

I did get into Bangor, young one, but I didn't much enjoy it there. After my first year, I transferred to Liverpool to carry on with the same degree, just starting at 2nd year. Luckily, I really enjoy it and am planning to do a Masters in English here!

2. "Let's just hope you've actually made a few friends from all of that baking you've been doing for them. And if you think they're just there for the cake, they probably are."

I made lots of lovely friends in both universities, and one of my best friends to this day was from Bangor. So although I didn't like it there, the people made my experience worth it. Also, I did minimal baking. Apparently all you have to do it be yourself.

3. "If you're in a relationship, I'm extremely surprised and you will be too I suppose."

I'm not, and I haven't been throughout the last 3 years. Weirdly enough, I've had offers, which surprised me. I just didn't accept any of them.

4. "About the anxiety thing... don't worry about it. That's the worst thing to say to somebody with anxiety I know, and maybe you've 'grown out of it' by now, but if you still have it and all the weird things it does to your body then there's always something you can do about it."

My anxiety has really improved! And my body doesn't react as badly as it used to. I haven't 'grown out of it' by any means, but it is true that there is always something you can do about it. It just takes time, and luckily I've had time.

5. "I hope you know who your true friends are now."

Oh, don't worry little one, I definitely do.

6. "Do you still watch all of those youtubers you watched three years ago? Do you go to Summer In The City every year with Kendal? Have you been to Vidcon yet? Are the family members that are alive now still alive? I hope the answer to all of those questions is YES."

Woah, slow down there! That's a lot of questions in one go. I do still watch Youtubers, and most of them are the same. I haven't been to any convention yet, but I am hoping to experience SITC at least once. And yes, thankfully the family I had 4 years ago are still with me. That's the one I'm most grateful for.

7. "I don't even have to ask you if you're still blogging, because the answer to that is obviously a yes."

Ah, young Hannah. You know me so well.

8. "I'm guessing you are no longer on a chocolate ban as you are as I'm writing this - in fact, you've probably just dipped your spoon in a jar of Nutella that you call 'dinner'."

I have eaten chocolate today, but I banned myself from Nutella! It was becoming an issue.

9. "You have probably dip-died your hair blonde (or perhaps blue if you were feeling adventurous? I know that was always a little teenage dream of your's)"

I did dip-dye my hair blonde! Blue isn't my style anymore, but I am going auburn soon.

10. "...and have your hair almost down to your bum,"

Correct! I did until late this year, anyway. There is such a thing as too long, young me.

11. "...and love your mint-green tea and weird clothes."

Love mint tea, also love fashion. Not sure what you really meant by weird clothes, but I do love a graphic tee from time to time.

12. "If you have your mother's eyes, you will have glasses by now, but that's fine because it makes you look more geeky, which is totally the look you're going for."

Wrong! Still no glasses. I don't know how I've gotten away with it for this long.

13. "And most of all, you still love books, and is known in university as that strange girl who is always reading books."

Of course I still love books! However, I do not constantly have my head in a book at university. I'm sure some people see me as strange, but not for this reason. I would love to have the time to read more, though.

If you liked this post, let me know! My Twitter is @bookfangirling or you can leave a comment below.

Why not try writing your own letter to your future self?

See you soon with a new post! It will be book-related next time.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

My 2018 Resolutions

Photograph courtesy of @alexlloydphoto on Twitter

Now that a new year is around the corner, I thought I'd do the thing. The resolution thing.

I have written down my resolutions for the past few years, and I haven't done too badly! This is because I kind of cracked the code early on - if you want your resolutions to last, make sure they're achievable. 

My resolutions for 2017 were:

1. Remind myself that I am worth it
2. Stop saying I am bad at things that I am not bad at
3. Allow myself to feel more

If you want to read the reasons for these resolutions, click here.

Personally, I think I did really well! 2017 was a lot about recovery and building myself back up again after 2016, which was one of the toughest years of my life. I am feeling much better within myself, and I am just about to be taken off my anxiety&depression medication completely after 3 years of being on it, which is something I am very proud of. 

So, with a lot of self-growth in 2017, what am I aiming for in 2018?

1. Prioritise family

I have been pretty selfish this year, going out with friends constantly and not focusing on family. Although this was part of the recovery process, it got a little bit out of hand. For me, family is very important and I have a good relationship with them, which I have come to realise is not a common thing. So, in 2018 I am going to make an effort to spend lots of time with my family, because I know that I won't have them around forever. 

2. Graduate with a 2:1

I'm writing this down just so I have a solid target to work towards. My degree has taken a backseat to literally everything else in my life recently, so giving myself an ACHIEVABLE goal will help me remember what I'm working for. 

3. Start my English Masters

The decision wasn't taken lightly to do a masters degree, but I love studying English and I really enjoy the structure that education brings me, even if it is just a couple of hours a week. I'm going to be doing it part-time, so I'll have time to work and earn a bit of money along the way. Maybe even write that book I've been going on about for the past 5 years? 

4. Spend less time on my phone

Not that I'm addicted to my phone, but like most people I keep it around me and check it frequently, much like a bad habit. I'm at my worst in the morning - I could stay in bed for hours checking all of my social media before I even start my day! My goal for 2018 is to just turn my alarm off in the morning and get up straight away, and not check my phone before I have breakfast. Any notifications that came through whilst I was asleep can wait another half an hour!

5. Travel

I didn't leave the country in 2017, and for someone who craves new experiences constantly, this isn't good! There have definitely been times where I have needed to get on a plane and create distance between myself and situations, and it just didn't happen. Part of it was money, and part of it was because I had no one to go with. This year, however, I turn 21, and I am going to be coming into some money. Its not enough money to splurge on multiple trips, but it is enough to be able to book a few days away, and still have a considerable amount in the bank. Most of this will be savings, but I have promised myself a little treat, and if I can get another friend interested in a couple of days away then I will be more than happy. A friend is moving to London soon so I will be able to explore down south a bit more this year, but there is nothing like hopping on a plane and seeing more of the world. 

What are your new years resolutions for 2018? 

Let me know in the comments!

And have a lovely first day of the new year, if I don't speak to you tomorrow.