Forgetfulness

Sometimes we forget. We forget a lot, like house keys, newspapers we promised to collect, and that sprinkling of emptiness that calls in unexpectedly. An old acquaintance that you wouldn’t quite call your friend, but you know too well regardless. No amount of hot, sweaty afternoons and constant clear skies can change that for me.

I am someone who doesn’t function well without a normal routine. I become restless and agitated, then all at once I am tired, quiet and fed up. Locked in a jail cell with no windows, no light, no fellow inmates to ease the looming silence and regret. I am someone who feels most alive when leaves are changing to a burning, bright auburn, when mornings have a cold bite and dark evenings creep up quicker than before. When fairy lights are all the rage. When the Celts felt spirits looming by their bedsides.

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Autumn is a far less lonely time. There’s new stationary, fresh faces and old friends. Hard work of orientations, new reading lists, new friends. Scarves, boots, random puppies on the street. There are plenty of reasons why I could be sad in September, and a thousand more reasons why I could be happy.

September is returning home, my real home with my ever extending family. Of all the things I could forget, this is not one of them.

It is amazing, the feeling of finally belonging, of fulfilling a purpose, living a life that once seemed like a far away dream. Life can be a lonely, fickle thing. But it can also be colourful, meaningful, shining like polished jewels. Sometimes we forget this too. But September always rolls around again and home will always be waiting.

There are plenty of monsters in the world, frightful creatures in suits who know not what it is to be afraid. But our happiness can show them real fear. Always be fighting the darkness with your own sparks of joy. The smallest of light changes the shadows in a room. Coming home to university, to my other family, that is my candle light in a late night power cut.

I never forget home.

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Hiding From The World

You can always smell the rain before it comes, almost like the earth is nervous about the impending wet doom. Afterwards the damp smell clings like perfume- the earth is rejuvenated, refreshed, alive, flowers no longer dying of thirst. Petrichor, they call it. That pleasant smell accompanying the first rain in a dry season.  Humans don’t quite appreciate the necessity of the rain. Maybe farmers do. But the Irish don’t appreciate the the sunshine either, on her rare visits. We complain a lot. Nobody can talk about the weather like we do. It’s invigorating, almost exciting.

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Rain is the perfect excuse to snuggle under blankets with a cup of your preferred hot beverage. (I like coffee, particularly mochas.) I am in fact writing this from bed and can definitely envision a nap in the next hour or two. Perhaps I’ll even fall asleep mid sentence… No, i’m joking. There is too much caffeine in my bloodstream right now, allowing me to explore whole new worlds hidden behind a singular word. A writer will forever live in their imagination.

I am busy hiding from the world today. Sometimes hiding from the world is a necessity. I am a bit of a social recluse at times. It’s not that I dislike company. in fact I quite adore it. But from time to time, I need to recharge. Taking a day to myself. Maybe I have a dodgy battery. Today is one of those days, but without the sprinkle of sadness like icing sugar on cake that you tried so hard to make appealing. I am not eating cake today. (Okay, I lied. I MIGHT eat cake today.)

Coincidentally, writing days are usually on recharge days. Writing soothes the soul, tucks it into bed and tells it to dream. But this is not always the case. Sometimes inspiration will hit in the middle of Penney’s knickers section, or while sitting next to a lady on a busy bus, who smells mildly like mints. Today, inspiration comes under the protection of a fuzzy blanket I probably don’t need. After all, it is the middle of May.

Sometimes hiding from the world really is necessary ‘devils work’, or a complete bliss depending on your tolerance of pants wearing. (By the way, pants suck so today is 100% bliss!)

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I will go outside. Or maybe not.

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Defending An Arts Degree

I am a university student, a fact about myself that I am rather proud of, and not just any university either. I’m currently studying a joint honors B.A in English and Sociology, in University College Cork. This means that out of my 60 credits per year, I take 30 within the field of English studies, the other 30 within the field of sociological studies. Broadly speaking, I’m doing an arts degree and I am here today to staunchly defend my decision to do an arts degree.

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You hear it all the time in secondary school, or I certainly did at least. “You’ll get nowhere with an arts degree! It’s a waste of time”. I remember the arguments with both career guidance teachers in my school throughout my 6 years there, as they tried to convince me to do nursing instead of English. (I would like to take my opportunity now to say “IN YOUR FACE! I got my way..”)

However, I feel (and I have seen in with my own eyes) that people who go into a degree simply for the sake of being employed, rather than because it’s what they’re passionate about, are more likely to end up feeling miserable. I know I would have been absolutely dismal if I had listened and gone into nursing. (Not to mention I’m incredibly squeamish. I would never last!) Getting your degree isn’t easy, I won’t sugar coat that fact. But if you’re studying something you’re not even that interested in, how could you possibly find the motivation for it?

I’m halfway through my second year in UCC, which means I am literally halfway through my degree now. I couldn’t be happier with my education if I tried. I’ve met amazing people, study something that actually has me motivated to get out of bed in the morning. I even make flash cards. I’ve been given opportunities that I don’t think I would have gotten if I did another course. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do things like be part of a campaign team during Student’s Union elections or go on the freaking radio every week (for almost a year might I add!)

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Most importantly of all, I’m happy in my degree. I was miserable in school. I hated doing maths, it turns out I really suck at geography (even though the formation of gem stones is kind of cool) English was always my biggest love, with art not that far behind. I fell in love with sociology within my first week of lectures and haven’t turned back once. I’m happy and achieving my dreams. How many people can say that? I work just as hard an an accounting or engineering student and I am damn proud of my arts degree.

So for you school kids thinking of doing arts but being put off by the words of those who don’t like/understand an arts degree; stick that middle finger up and do it anyway. Never let someone’s crappy opinion get in the way of your happiness.

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Unapologetically Myself

We live in a world that is quite frankly -and pardon my French- shit. The United States elected a tangerine, tantrum-throwing leech, I believe he’s named Trump? In some places, little girls still can’t go to school and some people can’t get married, or recognized for who they actually are. Right here in my home, a beautiful emerald isle that pleases the eye, I don’t have bodily autonomy. Apparently I wouldn’t know what’s best for an organ only half the population actually have. How dare I have a uterus and thoughts of my own! I don’t mean to loom on the depressing aspects of the world, but my eyes are open and this is what I see.

There are things in the world that are less harrowing; it’s almost time for daffodils to grow, my cat snuggles my thigh every evening, the smell of coffee greets me every morning and Ed Sheeran is making music again. There are people who will greet you on the street with a cheery ‘hiya!’, despite having never seen you before. The world still has goodness in it, though sometimes we may need reminders. I like to tell myself that I’m made of stardust- thank you science. Everything in this world is made of atoms, from the star that exploded when the universe was born. [this is the big bang, for all you physics fans out there]

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Sadly, there are times when we may feel the need to apologize for the way we are. I’m telling you now, don’t ever be sorry. I am difficult- I will get cranky, I am temperamental, albeit an angel when you compare me to a previously mentioned president. I only speak through grunts in the morning and I’m a demon if I’m hungry. I cry at hedgehogs I see online and will do all I can to avoid watching a horror movie. (Sorry future boyfriend)

But guess what? This is just who I am and you’ll just have to like it.

There are people out there who feel the need to tear others down, be it for sick fun or to cover their own insecurities. Do not let them win, ever. They will see someday, or so I like to believe, that they were wrong and cruel. They will learn their lesson surely. The best revenge is a smile plastered on your face, even though you may not feel that way. You are strong, you are beautiful. You’re a king/queen/beautiful little nugget and you’ve got this.

I am unapologetically myself and that will never change.

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Ambition

I’ve been writing for a little over 9 years. It’s second nature to me now. Not writing would be like losing a limb. On my darkest days, it’s been what has allowed me to heal and move forward. Writing is what makes me whole again, a time when I am truly living. But a career in writing isn’t easy to attain. But if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything you want to.

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Sometimes I wonder where this drive and ambition comes from. I’ve never loved anything else as much as I love to write. In school, English was my favourite subject. (I haven’t really changed much in that regard.) Maths boggled my mind and biology grossed me out.  The only time I was happy, was sitting in English class (and art to an extent, but a five hour craft exam tends to ruin that joy). Writing was what got me through six horrendous years of school. I didn’t relate to many of my peers, struggled with bullying and dealt with many teachers finding my decision about my future rather laughable.

I was miserable. But this is where writing came in. Writing was like the sun; it was a bright light, guiding me through troubled times.

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Inspired by writers like Anne Frank and Sylvia Plath, I found solace in poetry and short stories. These days I’m known for taking annoyances out on fictional characters. They suffer on my behalf.

Writing makes me happy. I suppose that’s where my ambition comes from. If there’s anything you can take from my rambles, is that there is always something that can act as a candle in the pitch black. For some it is sports, others it is music. For me, it was and still is writing.

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Achieving Dreams

I’m into my fifth week of the semester, in my second year of university. I’m studying a joint-honours in English and Sociology and couldn’t be happier with my course. Now, like any other student, I’m stressed and have a million and one things to do, but I wouldn’t wish for it to be any other way. I was scrolling through some of my older posts on Instagram recently. (I am a social-media junkie) I stumbled across an old post from when I was in my last year of school, applying to college.

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This was almost three years ago, when I was still 17 years old. To think, aged 20, I would be into my second year of my degree. Studying in University College Cork, was a dream of mine since I was a young child. I was very stubborn in Career Guidance class when I insisted I would study English and still have high achievements. There’s a stigma against the arts, that you won’t achieve much if you study arts. I felt that stigma, my whole life until I got into college. However, argue differently to what many of my teachers believed. I’ve achieved a childhood dream of mine, an almost life long goal. How many people can truly say that?

I’ve published poetry (and got paid to do so!), I’ve written and published feature pieces on a national level and I have my own radio show on UCC 98.3fm, with one of my best friends. You can achieve anything you want to and nobody can ever stop you. Sometimes we need to sit back and remember that. It might seem impossible. But is anything ever truly impossible?

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This is not without setbacks. There will be hard times, that might seem soul-crushing. I was told by so many people, that I wouldn’t achieve this. They will try to tear you down. But you can get through it. When I finished school, although delighted with my Leaving Certificate results (I got a B in maths and can barely do basic addition), the required points for Arts had gone up. I didn’t get an offer from UCC that year. I will admit, I was crushed at the time. But it wasn’t the end. It’s never truly the end.

I had received an offer from CSN College of Further Education, in a level 5 FETAC in Journalism for the Digital Age. I’m so glad I did that year. I met some wonderful, like-minded people that inspired me and continue to inspire me. It fanned the flames of my passion for writing into an unstoppable blaze. I used my results from CSN to get into UCC. Now here we are today, with me writing this post. I have amazing friends that I am forever grateful for. I am achieving my dreams.

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Today, as I write this, is Mental Health Awareness Day. I suppose the point I want to make is, things get better, they always get better. It may seem like generic advice, but take it from someone who never believed in the cheesy, generic advice. You can achieve your dreams. Trust me. You have to fall before you can fly.

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Flickers of Orange and Red; The Return to University

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When I step outside, I see flickers of auburn and maroon in the crisp, cloudy mornings. Leaves flutter to the pavements, later they are crunched upon by busy feet, rushing to school, work and soon for me, college.  Autumn is my favourite time of year. (Winter is a close second, though I am not fond of braining myself on slippery, ice covered footpaths.) Soon it will be cold enough all day to wear sweaters, scarves, to warm our hands on hot chocolate and in mittens, or perhaps in the palm of another.

I am starting my second year of university in eleven days. Although I am 98% excitement, there is that 2% that is ever so slightly worried. Between paying for my leap card again every month, buying those necessary textbooks (which at times, reminds me of a small devil sitting on my shoulder) and maintaining the sheer workload now that I am actually working towards my degree, I am a small bit anxious. Coffee is going to be my best friend for life, and we’re already pretty tight.

But I am not alone and that is the most beautiful thing. My friends are all going into second and third year of their degrees. Some of us are even in the same course. We’re all fighting the same worries and doubts about ourselves. We fall back on each other. I think that’s something we could all do with remembering. The world is a rough, often dim place. But there are little lights that brighten it up. They might seem little and we might feel unwanted, unloved or simply afraid. But those lights shine the brightest. My friends are my lights and I couldn’t ask for a greater set.

I get to see my dearest lights in 11 days. I properly start working towards my degree in 11 days. In 11 days, I start living again. University has made me happier than I could have ever imagined. Sure it can stress me out at times and I’ll never get the beautiful naps I get during the summer, but I wouldn’t wish for things to be any different. (Except perhaps for more puppy rooms during study week.)

‘Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile’ – William Cullen Byrant.

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