Standing at the Crossroads.

At the tender age of 23, I have now reached the end of my school/university orientated life that was filled with essays, books, exams and the soul crushing all-nighters. It feels as if I am in my car, right by the STOP sign at a set of crossroads. Where do I go from here? Am I making the right choice? Where will I end up? Millions and millions of nagging questions going round and round in my head like a ferris wheel on crack cocaine.

My first mistake was choosing the wrong degree, but I can’t blame myself too harshly as I find it very hard to believe that every 19 year old knows bang on what they want to study, and then magically come out with a job relating partly to that degree choice. I was good at English; I used to write mini ‘novels’ when I was younger and always had my nose in a book and was even lulled to sleep due to the soothing sound of Stephen Fry narrating Harry Potter books. But unfortunately, as I grew older and began to understand that the world wasn’t the happy shiny place I had seen through my young eyes. Instead I began to learn about the politics of the world and the issues of terrorism. 9/11 in particular caught my interest; I could only think one question as I watched those planes crash into the crumbling world trade centers. Instead of jumping onto the ‘all Muslim’s are terrorists’ Western bandwagon, all I asked is: “but why would these people do such a terrible thing? What angered them so greatly to cause them to react in such a horrifically violent way?” There are always two sides to the story after all. From that day forward I was fascinated by Islam, Jihad and every aspect of the Middle East.

I chose my degree because I wanted to learn and understand about what drives such a minority of people to commit such disturbing and violent crimes – this did not necessarily mean I was good at the many History or Sociology style essays that my course demanded. I had dropped History at the age of 13 (in favor of Geography) and had no real clue on how to write a successful economics or sociology based essay. With no previous experience, my many weeks and nights of research, reading and working produced mediocre essay grades. It quickly became disheartening.

Now I stand on before the crossroads, full of ambition to head out into the REAL world (and not back to the bubble of boozing, late nights and half hearted work). I want to work, I want to finally start LIVING my life. I am grateful every day that I have had an experience that showed me there is a beautiful gold lined path leading to a career that I am passionate about and also extremely good at. I used to be passionate about my degree, but that does not automatically mean it is meant for me or that I will succeed in it.

A piece of paper (a degree), does not get you any more further in life than someone with self determination, passion and confidence in what they want to pursue, and I hope many others realize that University is not the only way to succeed in what you want in life. Time, experience and passion are truly the vital ingredients to lead you onto a life that you will love and never look back on and regret.

Don’t ever let parents/significant others/friends ever try to keep you from what you truly believe is the right thing for YOU. Once you can manage that, the crossroads won’t seem as scary as you think.

From London with love,

Caitlin

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ALWAYS follow your instinct

ALWAYS follow your instinct

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Mr. Lonely

How much longer can I keep on pretending that magazines, my kindle or laptop and a glass of wine are perfectly suitable substitutes to fill the lonely void inside me?

They say that you can only learn to be happy with someone else only when you can learn to be happy by yourself. I achieved that quite a while back, when I loved getting to cook for myself and choose what to watch on TV when everyone else was out for the night. But when that odd occasional solo night turned into three nights a week, which soon turned into five or six times a week, the novelty of getting to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey and enjoy a half bottle of Pinot Grigio by myself each night quickly wore off.IMG_0932

They say you can feel at your loneliest when you have lots of people around you – if only I could be so lucky. Just today I sent a message to a friend with a picture capturing my bored home alone life (a glass of prosecco, magazines, and an episode of the The O.C on my laptop), and he replied: ‘you’re always on your own! It’s like you live on your own!’ Obviously this message was meant to come across light-hearted, as this particular friend doesn’t know I already feel lonely, but this brief message caused me to burst out into tears and down the rest of my bubbling prosecco.

I could go down the cliché route and blame this on my female hormones or place it down to being a stereotypical needy girl, but the truth is I really might as well be living on my own. During the day or night it’s either A. a miracle if my mum or brother is in for the evening, or B. a miracle if my mum actually listens to me at the kitchen table when I come to enjoy her company – it normally ends with me asking aimless questions, just trying to enjoy human proximity, but those questions go unanswered or I get shooed away as her laptop or any phone calls consumes any life she has at home.

If I actually lived alone then it wouldn’t feel so disheartening cooking another meal for one or watching the clock tick by till someone comes home. I have my two cats (this story is really hitting rock bottom now isn’t it?), but they don’t always provide the greatest conversation or companionship. They may be vocal and lovely when they want another food pouch, but once they have a bowl full of food they cast me aside like yesterday’s cat litter.

Another route many will go down is asking: “but what about your friends!?” This is one question I dread answering and now filter my answer down to: “They’re on holiday… She’s working… Oh, and he doesn’t live in London… And yes mother, I have tried texting!” Rock bottom when your own mother seems to have a more thriving social life than her 22-year-old daughter.

I don’t want this to be a pity party post; I do try my hardest to stay afloat. Unfortunately the future I want isn’t in reach until I finish up my degree down in Exeter (something I am desperately trying to avoid and very much dreading heading back to the books, dissertation and late all night library sessions).

So till then I guess it’s just me, myself and I (and my two cats). But really, is it too much to ask to feel like you have a family life that’s active and loving or present? I guess in this century, where marriages result in divorce and where emails or phone calls dominate home life there’s not much hope. So for now, I’ll just prepare myself for another night in and slowly turn into a 22 year old Miss Havisham type figure – Charles Dickens meets lonely London suburbia, a hit seller in the making.P1000274

Lost, but never forgotten.

As yet another jobless/internship-less day goes by, and having finished re-watching the entire Sex & The City (plus the two SATC films to finish it off), I have found myself stuck in an emotional whirlwind.

Unsurprisingly, with my parents divorce starting to get a little ugly and with my boyfriend going through the hell that is the stress of second year exams (whilst knowing that his nan is slipping ever more into the cruel hands of cancer), I have found myself feeling useless.

There is nothing I can say to ease the pain when loved ones slip away, whether it comes to death or divorce, the pain of each is inconsolable at its darkest periods. Sometimes all the one grieving needs is someone to hold and not hear the ‘soothing’ words “it will all be okay”, because in reality we all know that it won’t be okay. A life will soon be gone, but there is no way to sugar coat death or heartbreak with empty words.

Though a life is nearing its end, eventually we have to realize that this life has been lived to the full, and even though we always want more time, we must remember that when they let go of life, they are free from the suffering and slip into peace. When we cry our tears should be not only be full of grief, but also relief and for all the memories we had with that person. They are never gone, because they live through our memories and will never be forgotten.

The passing of a loved one has a crippling effect on those around, but as hard as it is to remember, the passing is the symbol of a celebration of life. Retelling old stories, or jokes, passing round pictures, everything to remember and celebrate the amazing life that was lived.

Mourn not for a life that has gone, but celebrate for the life that was lived and is now at peace. We will all be okay in the end, we will survive and remember, but most importantly, we will never forget.