Some of the Best Self Help Advice I have ever received

Last Thursday I had an assessment/interview in London for a modelling agency. I passed the assessment, however it turned out to not be what I was looking for and I had to decline their offer.

However I can’t say it was a waste of my time or money because I met a wonderfully wise young woman.

Our assessment slots were at the same time so we got chatting. She was at the agency with her 5-year-old son; she wanted him to grow up to be confident in himself and therefore took him for some modelling. She actually did some modelling herself to pay her tuition fees when she was studying Medicine at university in Pakistan.

Somehow our conversation moved to how we both love writing and I mentioned my blog. I told her about my struggles with depression, and in turn she offered her own story with postpartum depression. That’s when she told me a fantastic self help tip.

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Struggling doesn’t make you a failure

I’m suspending my course at uni, and instead I will be sitting my second year exams this time next year. I guess you can say I’m having a gap year.

The reason for this is because I’ve been feeling less and less like me, more like a shadow. I miss the old Claire – always so bubbly and motivated – and I’m going to spend the next year finding her.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I know it’s the right decision for me. I just need the time to find me and fall back in love in engineering again. Lately I’ve been in a dark place with no light at the end of the tunnel; it’s time to get out.

Ever since I got my first C during A levels (it was a huge shock to me since I’m usually a straight A student), I’ve been going down a deep, dark hole which I’m finding impossible to get out of. I’ve always had really bad anxiety when it comes to exams, but it’s only gotten worse, and my friends and family – and members of staff I’ve spoken to at university – all agree that I am not well enough to sit these exams.

I have thought about this long and hard for months. I’ve not been enjoying uni at all; in fact I’ve hated it since the middle of first year. What was stopping me from deciding this earlier was the daft idea that quitting uni or suspending my studies would mean I would fail in life – and the one thing I fear more than anything else is failure.

It’s something that is implied at school from a very young age. If you don’t go to university and get a degree, you will never get anywhere in life. And it infuriates me that we are made to feel like that, because university isn’t for everyone. Some people learn better doing a more practical vocational course. Others are more suited to doing an apprenticeship or internship. Some don’t even know what they want to do with their lives yet. So what’s the point in spending £9000 a year on some random course just for the sake of making the education system happy that they have another number to add to their statistics?

Schools need to start teaching pupils that taking a year out to have a break from education or to figure out what they actually want to do in life is okay, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to fail in life. I wish I’d taken a year out before going to university just so I could take a breather and get myself back on track because I was a mess during A levels. I was starting to doubt myself a lot, and a 12 months’ break then maybe would have benefited me.

Then again, I can look upon this situation in a more positive light. If I had taken a year out then, I probably wouldn’t be friends with the amazing people I know today. I probably wouldn’t have a job at the hotel I wait on, and thus I would never have had an internship at Vulcan To The Sky Trust, which I absolutely love doing.

I guess this was the path that I had to stumble upon. But I want my generation and future generations to learn that it’s okay to take a break. You’ve been in some form of education from the age of four or five. That is a heck of a long time meeting deadlines and cramming for exams. Is it really any wonder that some of us forget that life is supposed to be fun?

A lot of people don’t need to take a year out. They graduate from university at 21 or 22 and perhaps even go on to do a PhD. Good for them, I say. But not everyone is suited for that path, and that needs to be understood by us – and by the schools that try to force us to follow the crowd.

I can tell you that I will get my degree…just not next year as we had planned. But I’m okay with that, because it’s right for me.