“Insert-Motivational-Quote-Here”

At the start of this academic year (about  a month and a half ago), I swore to myself that this year would be different.

I swore to myself, and everyone around me (mainly to give myself more of an incentive to actually do it) that I would change. I would do all the things that everyone says they’re going to do, and never even begin. I found this very easy to say, as the summer holidays drew to a close, and the new school year came fast around the corner. For some reason the idea of starting anew as I begin a new year of my ever-decreasing education seems more achievable to me than, say, making those infamous ‘New Year Resolutions’ on January 1st.

The list of changes I wanted to incorporate this past September included things like working harder in college (as am currently in last year of A levels, this is v important), eating healthier, cutting out bad habits, cutting out even worse habits, eating better, and doing things for me. Things that I hoped would ultimately put me in the best possible place to catapult me into the future I really want for myself.

Thing is, I really want these things. I really, desperately want to be that kind of person that everyone hates because they just have their shit together (excuse my french). I want to be the person that rocks up to the gym at 5am, works out intensely, looking amazing while doing so, then has hardcore study sessions, and on top of that, has a great social life to brag about.

Of course, all that is the stuff of cheesy business-man films and even those people who seem to have it all together on Instagram don’t actually have their lives together to that extent. On top of that, I had to realize at some point that even if I had all that, I wouldn’t necessarily be better of, or even happier.

So I had to make compromises. I still struggle with concentration and motivation (hence why I’m writing this blog post and not my comprehension questions for media) and I still have those terrible habits, like long lie ins and too much chocolate. But I am trying. And, she adds proudly, seeing improvements.

I’ve seen improvements in my body (being more awake/alert, getting fitter from cheer-leading), my brain (focusing more, motivated with my college work) and my emotional/mental health (which is still fluctuating, but really, I’m trying). And it’s nice to see.

Not to mention I’ve done a lot. For myself, that is. I’ve started my university applications, made doctors and dentist appointments (very helpful with recovering from anxiety issues) and trying to stay with the right social circle that are going to support and motivate me to carry on with this good behaviour (still working out the kinks).

What I’ve found with this whole re-inventing/improving yourself malarky, is not to cut and paste an entirely new persona all at once. It’s about making small, doable changes, and once you’ve achieved them, working on the next thing. One step at a time.

I can do this…

Right?

Flying High

I am a part of my college’s cheer-leading squad.

I know, right? Me.

Anyone who knows me in any shape, way or form would not expect this of me. Any mention of the word “exercise” and I’ll lie down, already knackered. It’s totally not me. Especially something that’s seen as so girly, preppy, dance-y, etc. But let me tell you, it’s so much more than that.

I first went out of curiosity, a couple of good friends of mine had been going since the beginning of the year and really loved it. One being an ex-dancer/gymnast: I was apprehensive. But, I needed an extra-curricular, and I was only just realizing just how unfit I really was (mostly exhibited by the fact I coughed up a lung every time I would climb a staircase). So, I went.

And I fell in love.

It was absolutely terrifying, of course. And not just because it was a room full of athletic, beautiful, graceful girls who could crush me with their little fingers. No, it’s the flying that I’m most scared of.

I’m what’s called a ‘flyer’ in cheer. Basically, I’m small, I’m extremely light, and have no upper body strength. These factors together mean that I must be that person who is chucked and flipped and lifted meters into the air at any given point. Yeah, that’s me. The one you all “ooh” at when you see the routines on ‘Bring It On’. Yep. (Of course, none of the routines we’ve ever done have been anywhere close to that kind of skill, God forbid).

And it is absolutely terrifying. Especially when you are being lifted by a group of people you’ve never even spoken to before, which is what happened at the start. Let me tell you, that’s a quick-ass way to gain some trust in people).

Now I really should mention the most terrifying parts of all: Full Extention and The Cradle.

So a normal stunt is being lifted safely by a group of three people, one on each side and one supporting the back of your legs. Going to Full Extension means these people then stretch all arms, and you are only resting on the palms of their hands, with no back base, and nothing but your own leg strength to keep you from crumbling face first onto the (soft-looking but mostly unforgiving) mats below. Pretty terrifying.

Then, on top of that… The Cradle. The bit I dreaded for weeks and weeks until I finally figured that if I’m gonna die, it’s gonna be doing something bad-ass. So anyway the cradle is when, after you’ve been lifted and done some poses in the air (as you do), the group below has to bend down, and put all their strength into tossing you up (as in, literally being thrown) into the air, and catching you.

It’s bloody terrifying.

Apart from those brushes with death, overall the experience is a good one. I made friends, I got healthier (still can’t touch my toes though, I’m working on it) and I have a good time. It’s not something I ever in a million  years imagined myself doing but, hey, what is? Why not try new things, even if they seem stupid to begin with?

Plus, it’s a bomb-ass thing to put on applications.

The Ever-Looming Present

My past month, while settling back into college life and studying and getting my head round the fact that this is my last year of necessary education – ever, has been filled with one thing. UNIVERSITY.
Ah yes, the word that sends jolts of fear through everyone in education under the age of 18 in most countries across the globe. The dreaded word that means applications, open days, decisions, money, and most importantly, the future.
As this is, indeed, my last year in compulsory education – and I do plan on going to university – the beginning few months of this academic year will be filled with such terrors. (Good thing Halloween is coming up, I’ll just go as a UCAS application…) I have already began my application, put down my choices (though who actually knows if they are the right choices for me. We’ll find out in a few years.) and am currently in the midst of writing my personal statement. By far the worst part of this entrire process. The part that can be make or break. The decider.
For those who do not know, UCAS is the University and Colleges Admission Service, a UK charity that sorts out all your uni stuff, basically. It’s where your applications go, and where you’ll get your offers from, should you get any. And the personal statement is a long-ass piece of writing that all the univeristies you have applied to will look at, and thus decide whether or not you are suitable/good enough/worthy of their education for the next 3 years (on average). And I’ll tell you… it’s bloody terrifying.
And, like the rest of life, it doesn’t slow down at any point. As much as myself and the rest of my peers would love for the world to just calm down, chill for a bit, take a break and have a cuppa, it does not. Because it’s cruel like that. And it just keeps coming at you, like a puppy that wants to play. You know, one of those ones that never gets tired? Yeah.
So if you couldn’t guess, everyone here in the UK (not sure about anywhere else, I don’t live there) under the age of 18 who is looking to get an undergrad degree next year is, in a word, shitting themselves. Excuse my French.
Actually no, at this moment I know a few people that have already recieved offers from their first choice universities. Which is amazing, don’t get me wrong. That’s somethingto be proud of, really. And Lord save the souls of the OxBridge or medical students who have to complete their applications by… well… now. Hats off to them. I, however, am still trying to get my head around how I’m supposed to ask a teacher I’ve never met to write my reference.
I will most likely be doing updates on this sort of process and maybe doing some advice-posts after the process is finished for future applicants. But until then… wish me luck!

Serious Business

As a teenager with only the barest of introductions into how large companies and corporations work, some things about my part time job terrify me.

I work Saturdays and occasionally during the week at a newsagents (or “convenience store” I guess) about five minutes walk away from my house. Let me tell you, it’s very convenient. However, being part of a much larger chain of stores across the country, there are parts of my job that can be incredibly intimidating.

I mean there’s the nice easy stuff like being on the tills and chatting to regulars and having banter with my co-workers. All the stuff I’m happy to go to work for.

Then there’s the stuff that gets my heart going, my palms sweating and has me wishing I was still 12 and my only responsibility was staying awake in maths on a Tuesday. The lottery machine, stock checking and asking for ID are among these things. It’s the thought of, if I do one of these things wrong, I could get in serious trouble. With the company, with the law, or worse…. with my boss.

Don’t get me wrong, my boss is a great person. I think. I mean they’re really nice… I suppose. Let’s just say they get the job done. And “the job” apparently doesn’t include being friendly or amicable. Ever.

I respect this person a whole lot. Keeping a store on its feet, sorting out staff and stock and everything else under the sun and still being able to correct a 17 year old’s fuck-ups without breaking down on a daily basis. I really admire that. But would it kill you to smile? To not make me feel like I’m doing everything wrong? I know I probably am but hey, just tell me. Don’t dead pan me every time I try to lighten the mood with a joke.

This honestly just sounds like me being butt-hurt over little things but honestly my biggest pet peeve is bad manners and not being civil or polite. Just smile and say hello/goodbye/please/thank you and I will have no problem with you whatsoever.

But back to my original point. The severity of my mistakes in this place scares me a lot. You know, in school if you mess up something you just get yelled at. Your mistakes only affect you. But in the working world, this stuff can get you in real trouble. If I don’t ID someone who turns out to be younger than 18 for cigarettes, I could literally go to jail. JAIL. I’m 17, and one mistake at my first job could literally have an effect on my whole life. And if I get one number wrong on the till, I could cost the company any amount that I wouldn’t be able to pay back. I’m literally terrified of that.

But all in all, my Saturday job’s alright I guess.