Graduation (a reflection)

Over last weekend, I managed to successfully graduate from the University of York and obtain my degree certificate.

It was a successful experience on the whole. I managed to climb the stairs in sync with the processions of the ceremony, had the correct name read out alongside my degree, and didn’t manage to trip on my way down. I was relived when I could sit back in my seat and enjoy the rest of the ceremony without having to worry if I would make it up and down in one piece.

After the ceremony came the onslaught of photographs – both professional and ones taken by my parents. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. It isn’t often that the sun shines so brightly in the North of England – but it did on the 24th.

Sitting in central hall, surrounded by so many others – PhD’s, Masters and Bachelors, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was. Every person in that room had to put up a fight and keep themselves going throughout the pursuit of something they love. Seeing the array of mortar boards worn by people of any age, was incredibly inspiring (and I definitely hadn’t expected it to be.)

This may have been my first graduation – but I don’t expect it to be my last. If I can summon up the resources to finance another stint in education that is…

I feel a sense of sadness when I realise that last Friday were my last moments at the University of York as a student. But I also feel a huge sense of achievement and closure. My graduation was a long time coming, due to the delaying of my final exams. But now I can draw a firm line below my undergraduate life.

I’ll be honest, I don’t currently know what’s around the corner, but who really ever does?

Trying to Find Work (as a Graduate)

Image: Pixabay

So, it’s been a week or so since this series was launched. This post will probably not be as optimistic as my last, since it has been a week of failed job applications and applying for internships without hearing any responses. But hey, I’m just trying to keep this portrayal of post-student life real.

Alas, I am still trying to fight of a sinus infection and shift the constant runny nose and coughing up mucus (icky I know). My head feels heavy from all the antibiotics and I can’t help but spend half the time yearning to have a properly functioning throat and nose again.

They say that applying for jobs should be treated as a full-time job, and I very much agree. It is so time consuming writing a cover letter for every position, researching the company and filling out the various forms required for that application. But also, it is incredibly draining. And the worst of it is – 9/10 you will never hear back and when you do, it’s a big fat rejection.

What I find frustrating too is the assumption that anybody and everybody lives in London. Obviously, there are far more opportunities in the big city, but no scheme factors in the costs of doing unpaid experience for two weeks which could cost you an arm and leg just for the commute. Thus, a pile of money is needed in the first place.

I am turning away from pleaing for work experience and un-paid internships, as it is simply unaffordable. Instead, I have been applying for paid graduate schemes in publishing on the off chance they might like my sheer enthusiasm for books and forget about my imminent lack of experience. *sighs*

A part of me also still wants to pursue a career in journalism but getting experience (at any level) has almost proved impossible too. The constant empty applications, unanswered emails and phone calls from various editors has simply left me feeling down about it all. It’s a career I would love to have a chance at, but I can’t help but feel from my small experience, it is one locked away for the few.

And it would be quite nice to have a job on the side of all this to keep me going – but that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon either. And I’ve only got one pay check left from my last job….

January is going well so far, as you can tell. Only ten days until I graduate – then the lack of prospects will well and truly kick in.

Onwards and upwards, as they say 🙂

As always, if you would like to support me and my content, you can donate to my paypal.

How and Why to Read for Pleasure

Image: Pixabay

The common response to not reading is nearly always lack of time. This may definitely be true in some cases, however, when I think about how much time many people spend on their phones, on watching Netflix, on browsing the web and online shopping, I can’t help but think these activities could be substituted for reading (if they wanted to be).

Reading for pleasure is not a luxury and shouldn’t be dismissed as so.

I have had a love hate relationship with the rise of E-readers and Kindles – when I was younger I ardently opposed them and thought their use would see the end of the physical book. Alas, since 2007, when the first Kindle was released, the sales of paperback books have still been thriving. (I know this, having worked as a bookseller…)

To kindle… or not to kindle?

The Kindle and other e-readers offer something great – which is being able to take your bookcase with you everywhere. Books can be bulky and feel like an effort to take with you on your commute or travels and thus, a Kindle can save this burden.

I finally succumbed to being a Kindle user last year – although I have (and never will) abandon reading and buying physical books. I see the benefits of both and cannot see why readers shouldn’t use both. Moreover, I simply do not have the space to keep all the books that I want to read. Rather, I am far more selective about what books I buy now. Which is good for me, and the trees.

Fundamentally, Kindle’s make reading more accessible than perhaps the physical book. For one, many E-Books are usually cheaper than your average £7.99 paperback or £20 hardback, and they are great for people who have poor eyesight, with the adjustable font size and brightness.

Upon using a Kindle for the first time back in September, I really was surprised at how much it felt like I was reading physical pages. (This is not a sponsored post I promise, I just really like my Kindle….) Still not convinced?

How to make time for reading

  • Make it routine – this is the best way to make it a habit. Usually spend 10 minutes before bed scrolling on your phone? Switch your phone off and substitute it for a book. Your eyes and sleep will thank you for it.
  • Start small and build up – find the idea of spending an hour with a book daunting? Then don’t. Give yourself small goals, like reading one chapter at a time, or reading for 10 minutes every other day. This also works for the size of your books.
  • Stuck with what to read? Use the web There are some great websites out there – such as Goodreads, Fantastic Fiction and Literature Map. Or, you can do it the old fashioned way and go to your local bookshop and chat with a bookseller – they will be more than happy to assist! (Trust me!)
  • Don’t feel guilty – it may feel like self indulgence to switch yourself off from the world and your surroundings, but it isn’t. Reading for pleasure is a great way to improve your own mental health, imagination and knowledge.

Why you should make time to read

  • Taking a break from social media – reading has always been about escapism, but in the digital age it can be great to detach yourself from social media, especially before bed. If you have an iPhone, change your app settings to restrict your access – and then let yourself indulge in a book.
  • Benefits to mind, body and spirit – a good book will make you think and challenge you beyond your comfort zone. On a personal level, I also find that reading is good for my mental health and makes me feel more relaxed (especially when in the bath!)
  • Self indulgence is good – from time to time, it is good to self indulge and have that one-to-one time with yourself. This is something you should never feel guilty about. With reading, it’s just you and the book. Reading for pleasure as a form of self care is something that should be championed in the 2020s.

I hope this has been somewhat uplifting for anyone that is stuck in a reading rut or struggling to find time to read. Now that I spend more time reading, I do feel better in all senses. Happy reading!

V 🙂

Diary of a graduate (p.1)

Image: Yours truly (Violet Daniels)
A nice hazy sky and some trees

Some observant followers may have noticed my blog getting a nice revamp in recent days. But I suspect most of you probably haven’t noticed (I probably wouldn’t have).

Delving into WordPress premium is part of my (sort of New Years resolution but not as I don’t really believe in all that) decision to really invest in this blog.

Countless failed attempts to get work experience in journalism and writing has made me realise that maybe I need to just try and make it on my own… somehow?! At least if I don’t have experience, I may have this.

So January is a big month for me – I am finally graduating from the University of York with a Bachelor’s degree in History; only five or six months later than planned. When this is published, I won’t have graduated yet but I thought I would give some kind of background to where I am now,

If I’m honest, I’m not really looking forward to the process and would like it over with sooner rather than later. Just let me grab my certificate and run… I suppose the experience of wearing that funny hat is what really matters.

If I’m honest, when I think back to my degree it almost feels like a lifetime ago, and that I was living in some hazy, alternate reality far away from life as it is now. I do miss the constant learning and academic rigor that came with my degree. Part of me thinks I am not quite done with studying yet, which may be another path for me to go down (if I can pay off my already acquired student overdraft)…

As my graduation looms ahead of me like a dark cloud, I can’t help but feel like I need to kick myself in gear a bit more in terms of my ‘career’, as I can no longer claim I am a student after January.

September to December were some really good months for me, I was working in a bookshop which I loved but now that temporary job is over and I am once again unemployed and have not had any luck with finding work.

I guess this ‘diary of a graduate’ series is an attempt to convey the realities of post university life as a young adult trying to find their ways into the world. I will be documenting my struggles, experiences and any successes I may have, in a hope to convey the reality of life after university and a graduate trying to find whatever is meant to be next.

I will also be documenting my attempts to get experience in the writing/journalism/publishing industry. It may be of interest, it may not but I feel like it might be worthwhile even if it is just a personal document for me.

That’s it for part one – I hope at least one person enjoyed this 🙂

V

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Is Instagram a force for good?

Image: Pinterest

Huddled in the dark, wrapped in my duvet cocoon, I used to spend my evenings in bed scrolling through Instagram. I would obsess over people I knew, people I didn’t know and form goals for the person I wanted to be, based on a snapshot of someone’s life. Simultaneously, I was aware that nothing on Instagram was the reality of peoples’ lives, but at the same time I used it to make comparisons about my own life and what I had achieved in that day.

Instagram works for some people, but it never quite worked for me. In all aspects of my life, I have the bad trait of comparing myself to others. Instagram, the platform that likes to sugar coat the daily lives of others around us, and the celebrities we ideolise, was thus, never a good use of my time. However, it took several years for me to realise that.

I used to love Instagram for being able to see parts of the world I haven’t yet explored; through travel accounts and immersive photography platforms. I also used to love it for cooking inspiration, art and fashion. Despite all its many uses, I have had to abandon it to prevent the comparisons I would always make – between their lives and my own. Comparison for me, has never helped me to achieve good mental health.

Additionally, in hindsight, I believe there is something dangerous about the platform. Either consciously, or subconsciously, it encourages us to boast about our lives, our clothes, our wealth and our fortune, whilst others can be left feeling as if they do not fit in with the culture it perpetuates. The more you have, it seems, the more you can post. Instagram and its culture of fostering “influencers,” bloggers and celebrities, pays homage to the tide of modern capitalism’s dream. Sponsored posts by those which we are infatuated by; bear the remnants of global capitalism and its longstanding legacy. We are encouraged to want and to buy.

But moreover, we are always encouraged to do things. To be constantly around people and then to boast about it. Instagram can be used as a platform to encourage certain conversations; about mental health, the environment and period poverty are to name just a few. But I feel that it is selective about the conversations it gives space to. It doesn’t talk about the social stigma that is still attached to loneliness, it is still a foreign social media phenomena to like being alone with yourself and to engage in simple things. It doesn’t allow for a simple, fulfilling life, this is something it will never be able to perpetuate.

It was a platform that I knew was not good for me in some ways, but one which I still used, partly because I felt compelled to. Everyone else uses it without a problem (or so it seems). I remember telling some people I had deleted it and them seeming genuinely shocked as they echoed, “but why” to my response. Well, this is exactly why.

I’m not saying this is what everyone should do – but it is something that has worked for me. I now spend most of my evenings huddled in bed with a book, which offers little room for me to form toxic, idealistic comparisons. But it is a way in which I can switch off from the real world, the blue screens and picture perfect lives of people I barely know.

Social media can be irrevocably useful and a tool for inspiration and connectivity. But it can also be a toxic one, showcasing picture perfect lives and the imaginary reality of daily lives which do not match up to our own.