How (Not) To Adult

So the last few months have been a whirlwind and one thing has become abundantly clear: I’m not a student anymore. I don’t get ‘the text from bae’ telling me my money will be in my account in 3 days (I miss you SFE); I have a job; I pay rent, and bills, and tax; and I have NO idea how to adult.

Sure, I’ve been able function without my parents for the last four years. However, when that went to pot (and that’s a when – not an if), I had the excuse of ‘oh, I’m a student’ to fall back on.

Haven’t done the laundry? Oh, I’m a student.

Eating plain pasta with ketchup for dinner? Oh, I’m a student.

Scrounging money off my parents? Oh, I’m a student.

Stayed in bed all day on Saturday? Oh, I’m a student.

Not cleaned the house, done the dishes, or had friends over for a while? Oh, I’m a really busy student…

Well, now I’m not. So, it’s time to learn. Introducing Bookmarked Rambling’s new series: How (Not) To Adult. A funny and informative(?) guide for nincompoops like me finding their way in adult life, culminating in my first Christmas away from family and friends (expect an off-brand Nigella affair). Stay tuned, keep following on social media, because I promise you – this is gonna be one hell of a journey!

I am a writer

Confession: I never thought I’d go into heavy machinery…

The past four years have been a painful but profound journey into finding myself and working out what I’m going to do with my life.

September 12th 2018 saw the deadline for my Masters Dissertation (I am yet to hear about a result – I have pushed it to the back of my mind). September 13th 2018 saw my first day as a real, grown-up, actual adult. I spent the day in bed – half nursing a hangover and half thinking about the mammoth task ahead.

The first thing I need to address is the expectations I have set myself over my years in academia. If you know me, you know that I’m a perfectionist. I don’t like to produce sub-standard work, I don’t like to not be the best that I can be at something, I excel at things that I know, and I panic when I don’t know what I’m doing. This, as you may imagine, created a stressful four years of education. That’s why I spent my first day of adult life in bed.

The second thing I need to address is my chronic procrastination. My educational motto has been ‘diamonds are made under pressure’ – I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth. It’s not that I didn’t want to work, it was more that I was nervous that I would produce sub-standard work. I know – counterintuitive.

Now that I have addressed my perfectionist procrastinating ways, I can now update you, my lovely reader, on my journey over the last couple of months.

The 14th September saw the Great Job Hunt of 2018 begin. I was convinced that the best thing for me would be to spend a year not thinking about word counts, writing, or editing long essays. Cue the countless applications and rejections from a number of places sending me into a spin of despair as I realised that getting a job isn’t so easy. It was only recently that I realised that my perfectionist tendencies went into overdrive in the job hunt. For the first time in my life I went to an interview and was rejected. This has never happened before. I have never in my 22 years on this planet gone to an interview and not been accepted. My happy bubble of success started to fizzle away and the perfectionist in me began to get really frustrated.

On September 17th I put my CV in with a recruitment agency.

On September 18th I got a call from the agency asking me to come in for a job interview. They wanted a writer for a magazine Plant Planet. ‘Great!’ I thought, ‘I love plants! Can’t keep a succulent alive for the life of me but I’m sure I can do something…’

Turns out Plant Planet isn’t a botanists magazine, it’s actually the other type of Plant…

As in plant machinery…

The next 2 days were a blur, 2000 words on mini mining machinery and equipment consumed my days (and my nights too), the only thing I knew about mining was learnt directly from Billy Elliot… Great.

Turns out I have a knack for writing about machinery because the following Monday, the 24th, I started my job as head of Editing and Design at Plant Planet.

Now, I know I have a knack for making people giggle. I love a good pun and can’t resist the temptation to crack a joke when I can. I didn’t expect my new job to cause so much laughter among my friends and family.

“What’s a dance student doing at a Plant machinery magazine?”

“Are you sure this is the type of writing you want to do?”

“I always knew you’d go into heavy machinery”

I have had my eyes set on being a dance writer for so long that for a whole month, it didn’t cross my mind that my general career goal had started to come to life.

I am a writer. Granted, I spend my days writing about a subject that I never thought I would be, but nevertheless, I am a writer AND I write for a living… Woah.

Obviously, my year of working in a job that doesn’t involve writing didn’t quite work out the way I thought. The good thing is that the writing isn’t academic, which, in turn, has rekindled my love of writing for fun. I’m now ready to put some more energy into bookmarked ramblings, I’ve remembered the joy. Today I took a leap and started a Facebook page for the blog, something that I’ve been nervous to do for a while… But it’s done now, so there – and if you’ve come from said page, welcome!

So, yeah, the last couple months have been a whirlwind and generally just a bit weird. I didn’t ever imagine that I would be paid to write about plant machinery, or attend UK Construction Week, or have a conversation about how health and safety laws drive innovation in construction with my step-dad. Then again, life seems to have a habit of throwing curveballs…

I am an imposter.

 The past six months of my life have been a blur of studying, job applications, procrastination, meltdowns, joy, love, spiritual growth and general life. I have meant to write blogs on my general daily happenings but the task seems to keep sliding to the bottom of my to do pile (right under binge watch Netflix – just one example of my excellent ability to procrastinate).

 With this six month flurry of activity, it seems that somehow I have gotten over half-way through my Masters and the finish line is slowly coming into view… along with a mounting pressure to work out what I would actually like to do with the rest of my life. The question “what would you like to be when you grow up?” has been asked of me from quite a young age – as I am sure is the case for the majority of people reading this. Had I been writing this at five I would have answered ‘a teacher’ or ‘a princess with 200 cats and 5 dogs and a horse’; had I been writing this at age 15 I would have said ‘a journalist’ or ‘a dancer’; writing this now I have one answer: I’m not entirely sure. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my degree. I love the debating philosophy and getting down to the nitty-gritty of understanding what dance is. However, realistically speaking, just because I -touch wood- will have a couple of letters after my name come graduation, does not entitle me to a job in which I continue to do what I’ve been doing for the last year. Heck, today I had a conversation in which I said “I do not for the life of me know how I got to doing a masters – I never thought I was good enough to get accepted”.

In that sentence lies 10 years of my attitude towards education: I never thought I was good enough. I don’t deserve to be here.

 Okay. I get it. I wouldn’t be doing the course if the tutors thought I couldn’t, I know that. Understanding that is a whole other kettle of fish. This ladies and gentlemen is a small case of something that is known as ‘Imposter syndrome’.  A psychological pattern in which “Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.” (Wikipedia, 2018 [online]) (yes I just cited wikipedia but this is not strictly an academic piece of work so don’t judge me, okay?). This description pretty much sums my attitude towards my academic career, I’ve always credited my success as luck that my parents put lots of energy into instilling a love of literature and words within their children, and to the fact that I am very very good at *ahem* hogwashing…

 But now I have 4 months until my degree ends, and it’s time to take ownership of my talent and strengths. The ability to hogwash, while useful in some situations, is not the key to getting good grades. I love to write and I love dance, and somehow I have managed to combine the two in the form of the 18000-word dissertation I am writing on the developments of ballet criticism. Right now I’m taking it one step at a time and hoping that come September I will know what I would like to do for the foreseeable future…

Kerplunk goes the Essay…

Had someone told me three months ago that I would be writing an 8000-word assignment on Aesthetic Formalism and I would have probably scoffed in your face. To be honest, tell me now and I might still. I’m halfway through my first rough plan for an assignment due in about 40 days and, believe me, it feels like I’m standing at base camp looking up at a summit that seems nearly impossible to climb to.

 Here’s the thing, if I write 200 words per day from now until January the assignment will be done. I know this, but every Tuesday I come home and feel like I have to re-think every word I’ve planned so far.

Why Tuesday?

That’s the day I meet with my lecturer and the two others on my course for the seminar that the assignment is related to.

Why do I want to change every single word?

Because every week something will come up that changes the research I’ve done so far. It’s like we gather to play a game of scholar’s Kerplunk. My assignment is one of the marbles and week by week we slide a stick of philosophical theory out from underneath the marble. Each time I think my marble is being held by the theories, someone pulls out the exact theory that sends it spiralling.

But that’s what the sessions are about. I’m not the only one with a marble. Each of us present arguments that flag issues in each other’s assignments, and then the assignments get better for it. If I sat through a lecture thinking that everything was good and my assignment didn’t need any altering, my lecturer wouldn’t be doing her job. It may be the most tedious thing in the world, but re-writing has become my secret weapon in understanding my own knowledge.

That being said, I’m super disorganised and will probably end up leaving the assignment until last minute. What can I say? I’m a chronic procrastinator.

 

Hannah, we have a problem.

 There is a gigantic meteorite heading towards me. I can’t move. Not one inch of my body will budge from it’s current position. My brain hasn’t registered the hurling mass that is, at present, hurtling through space and time towards my current location. In short, I’m screwed.

 No, I haven’t turned into a doomsday predictor in the past week. I have, however, noticed just how fast Christmas time is approaching, which to every student means one thing: deadlines. (Yes, I know it can also mean finally taking the laundry that has been ominously piling up over the past term back to Mum and Dad to do, but that’s besides the point…)

 Anyway, back to my point. Exams, Essays, and Deadlines. Three words that strike fear into any students heart. No matter how well prepped a student may be, those dreaded words can still magically make the palms clammy, the lip quiver, and result in the overwhelming desire to watch Netflix all day. This week I have definitely been feeling the pressure of deadlines creeping up on me.

 No, not creeping. Barreling.

 Here’s the problem. I’m a perfectionist. I take pride in my work, and no, that isn’t always a problem but sometimes the perfectionism can really take hold. I don’t like handing in work that I’m not 110% sure is my best. Unfortunately, I need to remember that every so often, the work I’m expected to submit is a work in progress not the beautiful final product. That being said, it’s hard to let go.

 Take today, for example. Today I felt like I was drowning in deadlines and word counts and nothing was making me feel any better about the situation facing me. I have a proposal due, which in it’s definition is not the final product, but I want to show the best work I possibly can as soon as I possibly can. Today that has felt like a massive hindrance in my work. So I gave up. I called the boyfriend (or chauffeur depending on how you look at it) and asked him to pick me up and proceeded to sulk quietly in the car for most of the journey back to our flat. But then I got home, and I had received a package:

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 Words cannot explain just how uplifting it was to receive my undergraduate graduation photo. Yes, my hair is a bit wonky and, like everyone, I have a dozen things I’d like to change about myself, but, I’ll tell you what, nothing grounds a person quite like actually seeing just how far they have come so far.

 Suddenly the meteorites don’t seem as big or as catastrophic. Actually, they seem like they might be a fun ride. Maybe I’ll hitch a lift…

(And to Jonathan, the best boyfriend/chauffeur/shoulder-to-cry-on a girl could ask for, I couldn’t have dealt with today without you – so, cheers pal! x)

The A-Z of a Masters Degree

A is for Anxiety – when you’re loosing the plot

B is for Booze, a little (or lot)

C is for Chocolate – to deal with the strife

D is for Dissertation – the bane of your life

E is for Exams – that make you despair

F is for Frustration – when life isn’t fair

G is for Goofing off – to help you unwind

H is for Hand-ins that get you in a bind

I is for Ice-cream that you’ll eat by the tub

J is for Just Eat: the source of your grub

K is for Kleenex to mop up fresher’s flu

L is for Lectures that you may sleep through

M is for Mug (you’ll build a collection)

N is for Noodles (a marvelous invention)

O is for the OED that’ll help you define

P is for Professors, their help is divine

Q is for Questions, I good thing (I swear)

R is for Revision, don’t you despair

S is for Shots that you down at the bar

T is for Tantrums (I’ve had ten so far…)

U is for Utensils – R.I.P missing spoons!

V is for Vexed – when you’re feeling marooned!

W is for Weeping – I’ve done my fair share

X is for Xeniathophobia – Look it up (that’s a dare!)

Y is for Yo-yo, when you feel low and then high

Z is for Zoom – how this year will go by

 

(Dis)Ability

Labels.
They’re on everything and, thanks to the digital age, everyone.

I’m not talking about those sticky things that you put on your shirt at mixers that say “Hi, My name is:” I’m talking about social labels that we metaphorically stick on each other to describe and classify them.

I am not a stranger of being labelled. Throughout my life I have been labelled as many things; dancer, student, runner, friend… epileptic. The last one in that list is the one that sticks. I remember in my first year of university being introduced a little something like this: “This is Hannah, she has epilepsy” (as a side note, I cannot explain how annoying this introduction was when the person being introduced to me was a cute guy!). The thing is, I am one of thousands of people who have been diagnosed with a medical condition and yet do not know whether we deserve a label slapped across our chest reading HI! I am disabled! because the truth of the matter is that often I don’t feel that I am.

Type disabled into google and the definition is: (of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits their movements, senses, or activities. Technically, I could be classified as having a condition that fits the above definition, even if the limitation of my movement is only for those few minutes in which I am having a seizure.  Talk to me on a good day and I will say I’m able bodied; talk to me after I have spent the night awake, worrying that a seizure might strike any minute, and I’ll say I definitely have a disability. What I’m trying to explain is that not all disabilities are visible, sometimes even to the people who actually have them…

But here lies my problem with my particular sticker. I don’t agree that being disabled means that you are dis-abled. I guess that you could say I agree with the school of thought that re-brands people identifying as having a disability as being differently-abled. But even that, I feel, has negative connotations. The whole point is that I don’t want a sticker slapped on me that says Hi! I’m different to you! 

I want a sticker that says Hi! I’m unique. As are you! I was made the way I am because that what was planned for me. I may get upset about it sometimes but I can promise you that there is so much more to me than a silly label – let’s have a coffee and hash out the details!

…but that might be too long to fit on a sticker…

40 Ways to Procrastinate in a University Library

  1. Spend 10 minutes scouting for the best seat available
  2. Stand next to the person in the best seat available tutting and sighing loudly until they leave
  3. Spend five minutes laying out your study materials with painstaking precision
  4. Text your study buddy letting them know just how bored you are already
  5. Text your study buddy begging them to save you from the boredom of revision
  6. Play one level of that highly addictive game on your phone to kill time before your study buddy arrives
  7. Realise not only that you’ve spent 30 minutes on that highly addictive game, but that your study buddy has arrived and is already on step 3
  8. Obligatory gossip with study buddy
  9. Convince yourself you need a book on the opposite side of the library to be able to complete revision
  10. Get sidetracked while retrieving the book by a fellow group of procrastinating students
  11. Agree to go out the night before that big exam because that one friend who’s always out promises to buy you Jägerbombs all night
  12. Plan outfit for night out with study buddy
  13. Remember that you need fuel in the form of sugary food to complete a successful revision session
  14. Buy half the student shop’s supply of dairy milk
  15. Do an online quiz to settle whether you are the Thelma or Louise of your study duo once and for all
  16. Play a game of would you rather and decide that having having the arms of the gorilla is better than having the legs of a lion
  17. Curate a personal revision playlist with all the songs that will motivate you to finish the work (that you haven’t started)
  18. Have a competition with your study buddy to see who can catch more sweets in their mouth
  19. Convince yourself that to successfully revise you need that other book you  maybe saw upstairs that one time
  20. Complete 5 minutes of study and reward yourself with a ten minute break
  21. Think about how useful the books in the oversize section of the library would be to make a book igloo
  22. Devise plan with study buddy to one day create said book igloo
  23. Compete in the national study buddy swivel chair sprint with fellow group of procrastinating students
  24. Obligatory argument over the correct rules of the national study buddy swivel chair sprint
  25. Spend five minutes trying to get pen to start working
  26. Steal a pen from unsuspecting student who has left pen unattended*
  27. Have competition with study buddy to see who can steal more unattended pens than the other*
  28. Google how long it would take to walk to Prague (10 days if you’re wondering)
  29. Throw stolen pens at that one friend that has completed more work than you have
  30. Play a game of tag in the silent section
  31. Play a game of pacman with fellow group of procrastinating students
  32. Decide that life is short and book igloos deserve to be built
  33. Google the best method for building an igloo
  34. Slowly steal books from the oversize book section over the course of two hours
  35. Find quiet corner to construct book igloo
  36. Decide life is short but the prospect of being kicked out of the library outweighs the glory of being the person to construct epic book igloo
  37. Abandon half constructed book igloo in quiet corner
  38. Tut loudly and complain about people taking up space in the library not doing work as you swiftly gather up your clutter and exit
  39. Realise you’ve been studying for the wrong module for the last few hours
  40. Give up and decide to go to bed

*Please note I do not condone the stealing of pens from unsuspecting students, they may, in fact, be fairly attached to the pens they are using

The Ten Commandments of a Two Week Roadtrip.

This summer marked an important event in my family’s life. Remember the atrocious dress shopping experience I wrote about a few months ago? Well, lucky for us we managed to resolve the dress problem as the big day arrived! That’s right, after more than 6 years in our lives, my mum has married her partner to become Mrs Pinder!

When we were told that the wedding would be in France, my boyfriend and I decided that this was an excellent opportunity to take our first road trip together. Fourteen days, Two thousand miles, One tiny Kia, what could go wrong?! Well… these are my ten commandments to surviving a two week road trip through France…

  1. Thou shalt not over pack the car. 
    We pitched the road trip to my mother by pointing out that when at said destination, the need for transporting people to and from the nearest city may be prudent. It also meant that Jon and I could keep up with my brother, Felix, and his girlfriend, Madara, as they interrailed their way down to the wedding. In each city, we would check into the hotel, meet Felix and Madara, go out for dinner and drive them back to the hotel. If we had packed the car full to the brim, we would have had to strap Wix and Maddy to the roof… Which, given that he’s my little brother, was mildly tempting.
  2. Thou shalt not judge the hotel rooms.
    In case you didn’t know already, France is a big country, and driving from Bognor Regis to Carcassonne in three days is a tight stretch. We were lucky enough to have a budget to spend on hotels and decided to spend less money on hotels we spent less time in… So what if you could pee while you shower?
    …Nobody actually did that…
  3. Thou shalt learn at least some of the native language
    Our first night saw Jon crumble spectacularly at dinner time. We arrived in Saint Quentin four hours before Maddy and Felix’s train was due to arrive so decided to grab some dinner. Our first oversight was that it was Tuesday and EVERYTHING in Saint Quentin closes early on Tuesday. We didn’t have time to walk to the top of the town which, we found out the next day, was where all the restaurants were. We ended up at an Italian restaurant with waiters who spoke very little English. Now, I think my ropy french might had got us through the dinner, but Jon was another story. It may have been the moment in which a waiter asked him in fluent french where we would like to sit. It was like watching Bambi caught in the headlights as he sat at the closest table and almost cried when the waiter asked him if he’d like a menu. It wasn’t until I said ‘en anglais s’il vous plait’ that the waiter clocked on to Jon’s expression. I have included, for your pleasure, a picture of Jon on that fateful night: DSC03076.JPG
    From that day, Jon made an effort to know how to say ‘Parlez vous Anglais?’ (and took full advantage of McDonald’s self service machines)
  4. Thou shalt try to be cultural 
    A road trip with two art students and two religious people meant one vital thing: all the architecture and street art we could possibly see! Each city we stayed in would have at least one church and one art gallery to look around!
  5. Thou shalt not be afraid to be touristy (but not too touristy)
    After Felix and Maddy left, Jon and I stayed one night in Saumur and three nights in a hotel just outside of Paris. I cannot communicate just how excited I was to see Paris! A few years ago, my mum, Simon, Felix and I saw the gardens of Versailles but that’s the closest I have gotten to the French Capital. This time I was determined to get into the centre of Paris and See everything I could. We went up the Eiffel Tower, Round the Notre Dame, sat outside the Louvre and managed to do all of this by taking advantage of the Velib Bikes, which are like Paris’ answer to London’s Boris Bikes. There’s something about cycling down the toe path of the Seine, seeing the sights Paris has to offer that makes you really feel like a part of the city! I’m so glad that we didn’t spend €50 on a hop-on-hop-off bus!

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    Full Disclosure: The Velib Bikes require a deposit so make sure you have extra cash!
    …and yes we did go to Disneyland…

  6. Thou shalt always respect the driver
    Jonathan Gath is a saint. There, it’s in writing. Most days we travelled over 400km with Jon as the only driver (I’m a month away from being able to apply for a provisional- touch wood!), so if Jon wanted to sleep and not go out then that was allowed.
    I also learned that respecting the driver means comforting him when he is stung by a bee on a road just outside of Monflanquin, or giving the man in the car next to us at the Paris Autoroute tolls trying to cut in a very stern look, or letting him have a few minutes alone when his windscreen cracks just after we get through said tolls.
    The Paris Autoroute Tolls are the busiest and most stressful thing I have ever experienced in my life…
  7. Thou shalt not forget to pee before you leave
    It’s a long journey. Don’t forget to pee.
  8. Thou shalt not forget cash
    We learned this one when Jon’s card was swallowed by a toll machine somewhere between Carcassonne and Monflanquin. Luckily mum was close by (about five cars behind in the chaos we caused) and supplied us with enough cash to get to our next stop!
  9. Thou shalt rest when possible
    After three days of straight driving, it’s necessary to find some time to rest. The wedding venue had, perhaps, the best pool. Similarly, after the wedding we stayed with a family friend for two nights which meant two glorious days of late night swims.
    IMG_20170821_134907.jpg
    Just don’t get tripped up by french sun loungers…And finally:
  10. Thou shalt not forget why you’re on said roadtrip
    Congratulations Mr and Mrs Pinder! Here’s to many happy years together!
    Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing, wedding and outdoor

I Was Never Going to Be a Performer.

I was never going to be a performer.

I cannot recall how many times in the last four years that I have said this sentence aloud. It’s been said even more in my own head. This sentence is used to justify, placate, and reconcile for the past (almost) five years of my life. Basically since I was diagnosed with epilepsy and I lost faith in the thing I love the most: performing.

Before you tell me, I know. I know that there are many famous people who have had epilepsy. To list a few, Vincent Van Gogh, Richard Burton, Theodore Roosevelt, Prince, Neil Young, Lil Wayne. All these people were or are in the public eye and all had or have Epilepsy. I mean, Katie Hopkins manages to deal with Epilepsy  and still be one of Britain’s most controversial public figures… Okay, fair, Theodore Roosevelt was the POTUS once, but Katie Hopkins seemed more surprising to me…

Here’s the thing, sometimes I wish I had fought harder to stick to what I loved. I wish I had found a way to continue pursuing a career in dance performance; but at 16 years old, faced with the magnitude of a complete life shift, I just don’t think I had it in me. I did go on to study dance at University (albeit more theory than practical), and am graduating in November with a 2:1, and yes I’ve officially been accepted to study a masters in dance research at the same university for the next year but that doesn’t mean that from time to time I don’t miss the rush of landing a triple pirouette or feeling the heat of the stage lights beating down, literally melting my stage makeup as I try to hold an arabesque for eight more counts.

I miss dancing more than anything. But here’s the thing: I gave it up. For that I have no-one to blame but myself.

This isn’t a boo-hoo feel sorry for me post. I’m not being self deprecating to get views or reads or to make myself feel like a victim. I’m saying it because if I hadn’t have decided not to perform, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And where I am today… is exciting.

As I mentioned before, for the next year of my life I will be studying Dance Research, a new masters course for the University of Chichester. A course that, I hope, will allow me to find ways to provide people who, due to injury or illness, find themselves unable to cope with the rigorous training undertaken when pursuing dance as a career, with a way of dancing that will suit them and their bodies and minds.

The past five years have been a massive learning curve in how a chronic illness can effect a person’s life so deeply, and how helpful the ‘act of doing’ can be; how, just by completing something that couldn’t be done yesterday, or a week, or a month, or a year ago, can shift a whole outlook. So, while I keep telling myself ‘I was never going to be a performer’, I’ll be darned if I don’t try my hardest to make that sentence into ‘I was never going to be a performer, but someone like me could be.’

…And to be honest, I love that sentence so much more.