What are you putting off right this moment? Writing an essay? Going to the gym? I’m procrastinating both by writing this post!
I’ve had coursework and exams for the last eight years of my life! That’s a lot of deadlines to meet and to procrastinate. However, I have never actually missed a deadline. I know it’ll get done because it has to. I also love my sleep far too much to pull an all nighter so my assignments are usually finished the day before they’re due!
I used to beat myself up for doing anything other than revising during both my GCSEs and AS Levels. But by the time I got to my second year of college (with the safety of an unconditional offer) I learnt a very important lesson. Sometimes it’s better to procrastinate and come back to your work when you’re feeling focused and refreshed.
Let’s imagine this like a flow chart: I have a series of questions I ask myself when I can’t focus, my number one question is always “am I hungry?” Chances are that’s probably the cause of my distraction. I get in foul moods when I’m hungry and that means that forcing myself to work on an empty stomach would just be an exercise in futility! Even something as simple as stopping to make yourself a cuppa and a biscuit can give you the break you need to refuel and head back with a focused mind! I like to take the time to cook a hot meal in the evening even if it’s something as simple as pesto pasta. It’s always nice to focus your energy into a task that allows you to completely switch your mind off of your assignments.
Question number two: “Am I feeling restless?” This feeling normally hits day three of an intense revision period. I’ll realise that I can’t remember the last time I left the flat and I’ll start to get very antsy. When I am in this mood I like to treat myself like a toddler. I’ll make myself do exercise purposely to tire myself out. That could mean going outside for a walk or heading to the gym. Another solution to this feeling is mixing up your working environment. Staring at the same four walls can get pretty boring. When I feel this way I’ll take my laptop down to a coffee shop to get my work done. I have worked in many coffee shops and my main advice would be to always double check before you get there that the coffee shop has both plugs and free wifi. On that note another procrastination tip of mine is to turn off your wifi and only turn it back on when you need it for work-related searches.
Question number three: “When was the last time I spoke to another human?” This normally comes in around the same time as the restless period. I always find a phone call home or to a friend in another city is a great way to have some human interaction and provides an opportunity to vent especially if your assignment is not going the way that you want it to! Chances are your course mates are probably in the same boat so get in touch with friends that live nearby and see if anyone’s up for a coffee break, make the assignment talk off limits for a real break!
Question number four: “Is today a write off?” Some days there’s no rhyme or reason but I just cannot concentrate! Sometimes I really don’t want to do the work today… On those days I embrace the inevitable; catch up on Netflix and promise myself I’ll make up the time the next day. There’s no harm in switching your mind off as long as you know there’s still time left to get the work done.
London life is busy, busy, busy. My time is mostly split between lectures, assignments and my part-time retail job. However, it hasn’t been all work and no play. I have had some chance to explore the city. One of my absolute favourite things to do in my down time is go to the theatre. This term I’ve been lucky enough to see three shows, one each month. Two were very spontaneous and the other (I bet you can guess which show I’m talking about) I’d had my tickets for the last year.
I love musical theatre. My main memories associated with London before living here were of watching West End shows. I’m always blown away by the talent and calibre of the performers. So although I wish I could see a show a week, time and money are factors preventing me from living my dreams. But here’s a little summary of the shows I have seen since moving to London.
Let’s start at the very beginning….
- School of Rock was a fun interactive show that was all about its child stars. If you’re familiar with the film you’ll know that the story is about a classroom of children forming a band under the direction of a failed rock star posing as a substitute teacher. Impressively the children played all their own live instruments in the show. When a guitar strap broke they all acted very professionally and carried on as if it was part of the show. In the interval the theatre was full of props and photo booths that the audience could create memories with. School of Rock was a spontaneous show choice, I’d never listened to the soundtrack so had no idea what to expect and didn’t have anything to compare it to other than the film. If you’re ever at a loose end in London head to Leicester Square or Covent Garden to their discounted theatre ticket booths and as long as you have the time and an open mind you’re usually able to find a great deal. We went to a mid-week matinee and the theatre was nowhere near as full as it should have been considering the standard of the performance. It was great fun and a real family show. Which was convenient as I watched it with my (not so) little brother! If you’re looking for a family friendly show that will make you laugh School of Rock is definitely worth a watch.
- Next up we have Les Misérables. I’ve been trying to see Les Mis for years. Every time we’ve tried at the ticket booths there’s been no availability. In November I had a friend visiting for a few days and we decided that it would be fun to catch a show whilst she was in London! We crammed lots into her few days in the city, from ice-skating at the Natural History Museum to visiting the Tate Modern. The last item to tick off of our to do list was watching a West End show. The last musical we’d seen together was an amateur version of Legally Blonde performed by Sheffield teachers (which we didn’t know when we bought the tickets) We are also both up for being spontaneous, from an unplanned day trip to Edinburgh to booking holidays a week before going, we’ve had the best memories when we haven’t planned and we’ve just headed where the wind’s taken us. Anyways, in light of our spontaneous (last minute) nature we decided to try our luck at a ticket booth in Leicester Square. Initially we wanted to see the Lion King but tickets were way out of our budget. We named several shows that we wanted to see and were surprised when there was affordable availability for Les Mis. The show was incredible and many tears were shed. The only downside was that our seats were affordable because they were restricted so at times we were missing what was happening on the right half of the stage. Despite the restricted view the show was beautifully acted and choreographed and truly lived up to my years of expectations! There’s a reason it’s one of the longest running musicals in the West End, it’s because it’s brilliant. The theatre is also very close to Doughnut Time, an incredible doughnut store, providing us with a perfect evening snack!
3. Earlier I mentioned that I’d had tickets for this final show for over a year. That show was of course the wonderful Hamilton. I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t quite remember who introduced me to the soundtrack but I’ve been listening to it obsessively pretty much since it came out. Then when the mixtape came out I listened to that nonstop too. I studied US history at University, although I studied a slightly later period this show felt like a culmination of my two passions, US history and musical theatre. So when the West End show was announced I signed up to Cameron Mackintosh’s presale newsletter as quickly as I could. I was ready with my priority code and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the ticket booking system was! I tried for Cursed Child tickets the next day and they were an absolute nightmare. Anyways, I got through pretty much straight away and was able to buy tickets for my birthday weekend. It’s funny because back in 2016 I tweeted that my dream date would be a boy whisking me away to New York to watch Hamilton (lol) but when the time came I wasn’t risking waiting around for a hypothetical boy to take me to a show. Although I’m sure the show will run for years I wanted to see it as soon as possible so I bought two tickets, not knowing where I’d be, who I’d go with but I just knew I needed to see Hamilton. Fortunately for me I ended up moving to London and had a cousin in London who hadn’t been able to get tickets. The theatre’s renovations had taken longer than expected so our tickets were on the same date but we were now the first Saturday of previews! Having listened to the original cast’s version so many times I was slightly apprehensive that would dampen my experience of the UK’s version. It was different but brilliant. We saw the alternate Hamilton and he was incredible. The show was visually stunning. We laughed, we cried and I’ve never seen such a fast and well deserved standing ovation. I truly think Lin Manuel Miranda has succeeded in making musical theatre relevant again. For me the standout performance was Christine Allando’s as Maria Reynolds singing No To This. I’m not sure I can put into words just how wonderful the show was and how much it deserves the hype. It is a beautiful show and although tickets are currently sold out there’s a weekly lottery you can enter to win £10 tickets. I cannot stress enough how amazing the show was if you get the chance you must must see it. It covers so many relevant important topics from immigration to feminism and I truly believe it is the musical that will define our generation.
Enough gushing from me! If you’re ever in London I’d always recommend trying to watch a West End show. You can find tickets for £20 if you’re willing to keep an open mind. New shows are always worth giving a go too, you’ll never know what gems you might stumble across. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen, Bend It Like Beckham, a beautiful blend of Bollywood music and musical theatre is no longer on the stage because they weren’t getting enough bums on seats. It truly was a brilliant show and the fact that it’s no longer running breaks my heart.
If anyone has any musical recommendations of new shows to listen to or watch let me know. I’m currently loving listening to Dear Evan Hansen.
In a recent lecture the tutor threw out a term I’d never heard before. The question posed to the class was simple “are you a slacktivist?”
If you like me had no idea what this phrase meant it’s pretty simple. It’s a combination of a slacker and an activist. Someone who does the bare minimum to support the causes that they care about.
I like to think of myself as someone who is politically aware. I know I’m not apathetic. I have voted in every election and referendum since turning 18 and have encouraged others to do so too. I get news alerts direct to my phone from various sources. I use Twitter as an outlet to both share and to listen to the causes that matter to others. I sign online petitions, I donate to charity when I can; but none of this requires me leaving my bedroom.
So am I a slacktivist?
I have never held a placard or walked in a demonstration. The only sit-in I ever took part in was over where we were allowed to eat chips at College (it felt like a very serious matter at the time!)
In light of the current climate I want to do more. No, I need to do more. It’s not enough to open a newspaper and tell Twitter how outraged I am at all the awful things happening in the world. Now there’s nothing wrong with that being an initial reaction but in the grand scheme of things it is not particularly helpful.
Earlier this year women all around the world marched following Trump’s election. The Women’s March is a perfect example of real world activism that began life as an online post.
Being a slacktivist is much better than doing nothing. If a post I share triggers someone else to go one step further than I’d like to think I have had a hand in making that change.
I don’t want to be a slacktivist anymore. I want to use my frustration with the state of the world to make a genuine difference. One woman can not change the world but I can certainly do more to contribute to the causes I care about. I want to make the leap from slacktivist to activist and hope I can inspire others to do the same.
Aged 9 I demanded piano lessons. After a couple of years of recorder lessons I told my parents I couldn’t possibly be a popstar with a recorder stuck in my mouth. More specifically, I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. The artists I loved, the likes of Carole King and Amy Winehouse played their own instruments and wrote their own songs and I wanted to be just like them.
Aged 13 a librarian asked me to write an article for our local newspaper on an author’s visit to our school. Then I decided journalism was for me. Journalism was a career I always toyed with. Every few years I’d feel really inspired and I’d write as much as I could for student publications. Sparked by my initial passion for songwriting I realised I actually just loved writing in general.
Aged 16 I secretly wanted to be an actress. I knew that I was nowhere near the calibre of those talented enough to make acting their profession. But still I loved the thrill of taking on this whole new person. I performed in amateur productions and felt such a rush being on stage. Performing really prepared me for presenting, a skill that I would use lots as I furthered my academic studies. Whilst others squirmed at the thought of public speaking I relished assessed oral presentations because I know they were where I thrived.
Aged 18 thrust into an adult world I decided law was the route for me. I was going to take History as my BA and then convert to Law immediately afterwards. That seemed like a sensible adult career. I was a good writer. I’d honed my arguing skills growing up in a family of five. I convinced myself that law was the perfect choice for me. Two weeks in a law office later and after having to apologise for loudly denouncing commercial law as “dry” I realised that I liked the idea of law much more than the reality.
The same Summer I worked in a law office I also did some work experience in a press office. I now knew that law was just not for me. I loved working in a press office and it was then that after years of uncertainty I decided that public relations was the career for me.
I may not be going into law but I will be representing companies, with the media as my battleground rather than the courts. I may not be performing on a West End stage but public speaking will be a huge part of my future job. I may not be a singer-songwriter but every song written after a boy broke my heart allowed me to practice writing for an audience. So don’t worry if you have a different answer each time someone asks you about your career aspirations. For me the answer was ever evolving and each answer has led me to where I am today.
Blue, the colour of summer. Despite the green hills of Edinburgh, the black Tenerife sand and the (many) pink drinks all I felt was blue.
June 2017 – After 3 years living in a buzzing city with my best friends it was time for me to head back down the M1, back to the life I had once known that now seemed so foreign to me. I couldn’t get my head around everyone being exactly where I’d left them. I felt I was the only one who’d changed. I felt distressingly disconnected from my surroundings. My body was present as I chatted with familiar faces I bumped into on the street but my mind was 3 hours away. University life had been exciting, full of spontaneous plans and most importantly I was always surrounded by people. Home in comparison felt static and I was the loneliest I’d ever been. I also gained weight because walking through hilly Sheffield was no longer part of my daily routine.
So I was feeling all round shitty. Shitty physically and shitty mentally.
I made plans, I went away determined to escape my sadness. But I realized it wasn’t the town that was keeping me down, it was my own brain. When I returned home I had a new resolve. I joined the local gym. I walked miles because I was so determined to regain the independence I’d lost the minute I’d moved back to a town where if I couldn’t get a lift I couldn’t have a life. I reminded myself that my home town had always been a little boring and that the people were so much more important than the place. But still there was this niggling voice in the back of my head telling me I was living someone else’s life. I’ve heard I’m not alone and that this feeling has been coined the ‘graduation blues.’
In September I swapped my Summer blues for London reds. This is where you find me now. I love that I’m always on the go, although for some that may sound like a nightmare for me it is bliss. I’ve made big life changes in more ways than one. I swapped a Northern city on the edge of the Peak District for the Big Smoke. I swapped academic disciplines: I was studying History and now I’m studying Public Relations. After years of umming and aahing over my life’s direction I’ve finally found my path. If you’d asked me five years ago I would have told you I could never live in London. It felt too big, too crowded, just too much. Skip ahead and it is exactly where I need to be in this moment. I love learning. I love London. I love learning in London. Although I can’t predict what this next academic year will bring, I think red just might be my new favourite colour.