Unappreciated Work

When I was nearing the end of High School, I remember being advised that there were two ways to get yourself a good career. It was work your way up, or get yourself a degree at university. That sounds great. In theory.

Most of the people I went to school with, went to university, and got a good job in the field they aimed for. I attempted college, more than once, but fell apart every time. So, I worked. I have worked since I was 16, in the hope that one day, I would have enough experience to work my way up the ladder, and be suitable for better paying roles.

Unfortunately, that is not how things work.

I have been in my current role for 9 years. Longer than I was at High School for. I have tried numerous times to get into leadership roles, jobs with more money. But, every time I am turned down to lack of experience. I used to get confused by this, I have plenty of work experience. But, that’s not what they wanted, they wanted people who had degrees, a university education. I’d apply for jobs, only to have someone with no work experience,but a degree in Drama, get the job.

The excuse I get, is that by getting a degree, the applicant is ‘proving they can stick at something’. Like, they don’t even need a work history.

So, I sat on this information for a while. Wondered about what I could do. My option was, either stick it out at the bottom of the career ladder, or try and push myself towards a degree. Which is what I am doing. I am working through an IT and Computing degree, with the Open University. I seem to be doing okay with it so far, because the speed I need to go is slower than if I went full time. I do part time, and do it around work, and it is 100% remote learning. Which fits.

I wish it didn’t feel like I’ve wasted my life, working away. having a job shouldn’t feel like that.

Doesn’t All Add Up

Today I have been doing maths. It was never my favourite subject at school, I didn’t like it. Some stuff made sense, whilst others flew right over my head. And I never knew why. I was so frustrated.

I have returned to the ‘Land of Maths’ thanks to the course I am doing through the Open University. I am doing a degree in Computing and IT, to try and improve my career opportunities. Without a degree, it is very hard to step into a higher role at my work, or any other. So, I can do it part time, alongside my full-time job. It’s nice to have something to focus on. I did take a wee break, because my mental health was rubbish, but now I am back studying again.

Before I start my maths course, in October, I have a ‘refresher’ set of mini-courses to go through, to re-familiarise myself with things. It’s recommended to go through the pre-courses, to help give people an idea of what is coming up in the course. Part of me just wants to skip it, but it is always good to challenge yourself. And it is all for a better future, so it’ll be worth it.

I just wish it was English, instead.

A Testing Time

These last few weeks have flown by. It is that time of year, once again, where assements and summer seem to collide. I am studying through the Open University, which gives the ability to access high level learning, whilst still working full time. Which is what I am doing. It gives me a sense that I am working towards something, which is what I need, after being in my current job for 5 years. It is a very good thing. However, the recommended study time, doesn’t actually sound like much, like 10 or so hours a week. But once life gets in the way, that 10 hours is a lot.

Key to doing anything like this, is being honest to yourself, and honest to the people there to help. Be it people at work, friends, or folk at where you are studying. When looking for help, it is easy to forget that there are actually lots of things set up to help you succeed. Managers and tutors are their to help you, their job is to make sure that you have as much support as you need. So, just tell them what the problem is and they can help, even if it is pointing you in the direction of where you can get support.

No matter where you are, you will here people saying that the people who are supposed to care about them (like managers) don’t care about them. But, a lot of the time, when you question them further, you can find that no issues have actually been raised to their managers. As clever as some people like to think that they are, noone is actually a mind reaer, they sometimes only know something is wrong, when it is pointed out to them. So, no matter how silly you may feel, speaking up can make things a lot easier, and help release the pressure.

However, that can be easier said than done.

Not As Bad As It Looks

When you read articles which help you plan ahead for a successful future, they are very good at telling you hope for the best. That things are going be great, no matter what. Which is nice, hopeful, and a good thing to work towards. Obviously, as people get older, what makes them happy, doesn’t stay the same. And depending on what people go through, it can also be hard to settle on anything happy.

When I studied, back when I was younger, I had varying amounts of success. At the earlier years at school, those first exams, it was fairly straightforward, I studied and I got results. It was awesome. But over time, I found that I was getting dis-interested. I didn’t do completely bad, but it felt so much harder to sit down and work on what I needed to. Eventually, I just think I felt apathy towards all education. I forced myself to try and further my education and find that elusive ‘better life’, I had read about. It made everything so much harder, and when the results weren’t matching the effort I put in, I started to feel really discouraged. It has left me with a mindset, where I am set up to fail.

I work hard, but recently, it has become clear that if I want to get in a better paying job, I need to do something other than just work. So, I had think, about what I am interested in, and what field is always in need of workers. So, I signed up for a course with the Open University, which is in IT and Computing. And it is very interesting, and I am enjoying it. However, the last module I did, contained coding for creating programs, and I felt the mindset set in, as well as utter panic. I felt a little lost, and I panicked, because I was challenged, I assumed I was going to fail. The panic was bad, that I struggled to complete some of the questions that I needed to answer. I assumed that meant that everything was over. It wasn’t. I got my result back today, and out of a possible 90, I got 78, I only dropped 12 marks, which was such a shock.

It’s made me realise that a lot of what you experience, does have a lasting effect on you. I was so surprised to have done so much better than expected, and it was a nice surprise. Maybe, it would be better to try and live in the moment, and not mentally jumping 10 steps ahead. But, that is a major issue with my anxiety, but the more I realise it happening, the more I can try to change things.

Always Learning

There is a problem with education in this country. It has the habit of ruining things which a lot of pupils cam be passionate about. I know that when I was younger, I lost my love of reading, after being forced to write laborious essays and questions on books read during class. I think it was the idea of constantly having my thoughts on novels that I loved critiqued, really sucked any joy out of the reading process for me. 

Over time, my love for reading anything and everything came back to me. I found that I loved reading different types of writing, from formal articles on science to trashy magazines. I love the variety that can be created by the written word. 

As I have gotten older, I have discovered that I do love to learn new things. It was just the formal setup of school, that didn’t agree with me. The biggest problem for me, was, as mentioned above, the constant testing. The constant nagging that you weren’t good enough, just ruined that period of my life. I was beginning to struggle with my mental health, and my grades started to suffer when I couldn’t actually use the things I loved to relax, because I was getting assessed on them 

Now my mental health is a lot better these days, I am trying to make the best of things and try to learn more. I have found a service called Future Learn, which provides free courses online. The courses run from a few weeks, to a couple of months, and are run with the help of many universities from all over the world. The course that I have signed up for, is Community Journalism, which is a 5 week course run by Cardiff University. The course has a variety of steps for every participant to complete every week, with a final test and the option to get a certificate upon completion. The best thing about Future Learn is that there is a wide variety of topics, something for everybody. You can also communicate with people also participating in the course, which means I have the ability to talk to people all over the world. It’s great. 

So, if you are interested in a topic that you would like to study into further, but you maybe don’t have the money to enroll in a course, don’t have the time to study full-time or just want to learn a bit more about something. I recommend that everyone pops onto Future Learn and has a look around and see if there is anything you fancy. Because education is about enlightenment, not examinations.

Ball Of Sunshine

I am happy.

For the first time in a long time, I am enjoying a period where I am experiencing a few more ups than downs. It is great, and not something I am used to. I am singing and laughing every day, instead of moping and crying. It is rather freeing being upbeat, it is like I am bouncing around without a care in the world. Nothing is getting to me, and it is a strange feeling.

The issue is. When you build your whole ‘internet life’ on helping you de-stress, what do you do when you don’t need to? I don’t feel the need to rant about things that have went wrong, because for some reason it doesn’t seem to be bothering me. Talking about it, may end up jinxing it all, but I feel that I should try to talk about it. No matter how much of a struggle it is, just because I want this blog to show an honest portrayal of me, and I need to show that people with depression and anxiety do have periods of happiness. It may not happen often, but it does happen.

So where did this feeling of happiness come from?

Recently I have been doing a job that I enjoy at work. I feel like I have a purpose. I feel like I can share my experience of the last few years in the business helping those less experienced. I am also taking an engineering course through a collaboration between my work and a local college, which is interesting. And then I have signed up for a Creative Coding class, through FutureLearn, which also looks exciting. It is the most ‘forward thinking’ I have been in a long time, and the way I am feeling shows that. Nothing may come of all that is going on, but my mental health is glad for the break. So forgive me, as I revel in being genuinely happy.

Always Learning

I heard recently, that once you reach your 20s, it becomes harder to learn things. I feel a bit weird about that, as I have learnt more as an adult than I did at school.

I find that as I get older, I do have more patience and motivation to discover more things. I like seeing new things, and finding out things I haven’t previously known about. I think when I was in education, I became apathetic about education, because I didn’t liked the environment of ‘forced learning’. It was okay, if the topic was something that I had interest in, but when it wasn’t, I found it so hard.

When I have got older, I have started learning off my own back. And because I am learning at my own speed, I find it so much easier to stay motivated and pick up things. I think, that it is important that people keep an open mind to carry on learning. That could be the problem with a lot of ignorance, people feel that because they are adults they have nothing else to learn. They have closed off their minds, which stops them from picking up on anything new. Which, I feel, can leave a person at a disadvantage to those with a more open mind.

Saying that, sometimes learning something new can be frustrating. I recently got a new laptop, which has Windows 8 installed. Now, the last version of Windows that I had, was XP, and it did what I wanted. But my computer died, so I got a new one. Windows 8 is a headache. I am trying to find my way round it, but I keep on finding that it seems to halt me in whatever I am doing. I think Windows 8 is about touch screen technology, which is great, unless you don’t have a touch screen device. Which I don’t. So I am trying to get my head round this new operating system, and until I do, I am stumbling through every activity I try to do on it. So frustrating. But, I just have to take a deep breath, I will get it eventually.

And that’s what I have learnt through being an adult. Patience and perseverance. I am not afraid to give something the time to get to know it properly.

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What if, is not a question really. It is a feeling of self-doubt where a person analyses what could have been. It can almost seem like a person is doubting the decisions that they have made, and they current position where they are now.

It’s a natural thing that people feel. Particularly when we find ourselves approaching the end of another year. It is a normal time to evaluate how the last year had gone, and whether we believe things would be different if we had made different choices. This isn’t very productive. It makes a person regret where they are, and forces them to wallow in any failures.

I am a firm believer that someone should take responsibility on what choices they have made. Maybe you did make a bad decision, then you will learn from it. Wasting your energy on wishing it didn’t happen is useless. You can’t undo anything already done. A person should recognise what’s happened, and look at why it why not to do it again.

Learning. That is what is important in life. Not wishing things happened differently. People need to realise that EVERYONE makes mistakes and wrong choices, it’s what you do as a result of those mistakes, that is important. Education is often thought as something that begins and ends with schooling. That is not true. People are constantly taking in information and they learn from it.

So if you make a mistake, don’t panic. Just think about why things happened and work out how not to do it again. Learn, rather than wish for what never happened.

Purpose of Media

As I sat in front of my TV watching the tenth documentary show this week (yes, I keep count), I had a think about the purpose of media in society.  As much as we use various types of media on a daily basis, not much thought is put into it’s actual purpose.

Most of the forms of media that we use regular (television, radio, internet, newspapers, etc) were originally created to be a way of telling people information. It was to educate people about things like news-worthy events, or to get messages to other people. But somewhere along the line, media became less about communicating messages, and more about entertaining the masses.  The dictionary definition of media is-

‘The storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to a single medium used to communicate any data for any purpose’

It is a way of communicating which comes from cave paintings created by cavemen. And postal services started from as early as 500BC, and became a crucial way of communications in the Persian and Roman Empires.

Times have changed, but still people feel the need to communicate to one another, now with the help of technology it is easier than ever. Rather than send a letter to loved ones and wait weeks for it to arrive, you can send them an email or call them on the other side of the world in seconds. These advances have mostly come within the last 50 years, and the world is better for it. When a news breaks, it would sometimes take days to get to all corners of the world. Now, within 30 minutes, newsrooms all over the world can be reporting on the same story. The rolling news networks (Sky News, Fox News, BBC News 24) are probably the best examples of media in it’s current form. No matter what time of day, news is constantly being reported, and it never stops. There is always something happening somewhere, and media helps a normal person see what is happening outside the borders to their country. Media doesn’t stop anymore. Rather than  waiting to buy your newspaper in the morning to get updated in current affairs, you can flick onto a TV channel or switch on a computer. Everything is online. And online services really can be updated at any time of the day. Everything is posted as it happens.

And whilst you would think this would empower people as they have a wider scope of knowlege in front of them, it doesn’t. Rolling news hasn’t had the effect one would think. People are constantly feeling the need to switch off from their lives, and now use media to escape. If they have worked hard, they don’t want to be ‘snowed under’ with the rest of the world’s problems. So rather than watch the news or documentaries, many more watch TV talent shows or play computer games.

And working for a media company, I feel I notice this more. You can see the things that people want to spend their money on, and it isn’t news or documentaries, it’s movies and sport. The leading methods of escapism. Something where you can shift your focus away from what seems ordinary, and fixate your attention on something else. As nice as it is that people around the world can see whether Manchester United or Chelsea win the Premiership trophy, I find it unsettling that people would rather watch that, than be educated. I touched on education a few days ago, and I feel that is the most important resource we have. To learn how things work, and what happened on this earth before us. To learn how countries were formed and fought for. To me, that is exciting, that is what media is about. It is about being educated, not just in formal documentary format, but to educate on how others around the world live. Is that not the biggest selling point of the World Wide Web, that it connects the world and shows how other people live?

Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe the purpose of the media is to give deluded writers a forum to express their mislead views and opinions? I don’t know really. I like to think that all this technology has a higher worth than football and computer games. But, I guess that’s me. That is what I want to take from the media that surrounds me. Not everyone is like that.