Let go of the familiar and embrace the new

I was super happy and excited but goodness I was nervous. A small part of me was just rationally worrying about the new job itself. Whether I’d be able to do it, whether the people would be as nice as I hoped, whether I’d impress like I wanted to.

I was also having nightmares about being late on my first day. Nightmares that varied from stressfully realistic and scarily weird. I had one in which I kept trying to get through doorways but random people in my life would be standing in them telling me it wasn’t safe and by the end I was shouting (luckily just in the dream) at the top of my lungs that they had to get out of my way because I had to get to work! You don’t have to be a psychologist to figure out I was very scared I’d be late.

Most of me was simply just terrified about the change from unemployment to employment. Even with 7 days a week free to do as I pleased I felt like time was going too fast and there was never enough of it. How would I cope? How would I find time to do the things I love? How would I keep in contact with all of my friends and family? How would I sleep and eat enough? How would I live!?

Commuting for the first time was a strange experience. When I walked onto the station platform singing quietly to myself at 8am, I felt like I was walking into a school assembly late. Everyone looked miserable. Everyone was sat or stood in silence. Everyone seemed to glare at me as I walked past. Pretty girls looked me up and down like I didn’t belong.

Of course, half the issue was that I was so tense and uncomfortable. The minute I walked onto that platform I forgot all about where I was headed. All I knew was that I felt small and unsure and this was all new and I wasn’t sure I liked it and a big part of me wanted to run back home to bed. I was more nervous than I knew and it didn’t take much to knock me off balance.

However, from the moment I got to work onwards, my first day ROCKED. Everyone I met was super lovely. I really enjoyed the work I did and the more I found out about my role the more I knew I was going to love it. My team took me out for lunch.

There came a point when I realised where I was, both physically and just in life and suddenly a big goofy smile spread from cheek to cheek. I was in my favourite city, working in one of them fancy office buildings, wearing fancy office clothes and doing a job I already took pride in and loved. This change didn’t happen gradually. I didn’t go through a period of adaptation. Maybe you aren’t supposed to. Maybe the reason I’ve struggled with change so much in life is because I’ve always had too much time to think about it. This time was like no other. I’m not being dramatic. Literally, one minute I was panicking. I felt like I was spiralling, losing control, time was running away with me. The next minute I realised I was calm and I settled into the swing of things and before long it was like nothing had changed at all.

I’m another 5 commutes down now and its not strange anymore. If the pretty girls are still looking me up and down I’m not seeing them because I’m too happy and confident to notice. Or my head is in my book which I’ve already mastered the art of reading wherever I am.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve just been through a change. 3 days into the job and everything is second nature. It honestly feels like I’ve been doing this for years and that is strange and wonderful all at once. Life never fails to amaze me.

Learning to be all kinds of happy

I’m sat on the sofa by the window, getting blinded by the sun but refusing to shut it out. I’m two chapters from the end of Harry Potter so when I’m done writing, I’m finishing it. Then I’m rewarding myself with a cream egg or two before taking a deep breath and picking up the very important looking paperwork that came in the post from my new employer.

Yes, I got the job! EEEEEEEK!!

If I’m honest, at first the news left me feeling all kinds of mixed emotions.

I was happy at first, goodness I nearly cried on the phone while she was telling me the good news and I’m surprised I didn’t deafen Dave when he called to congratulate me, but then almost as fast as I’d felt happy, I felt tense and uncertain again.

I found myself trying really hard not to get overwhelmed. I couldn’t relax for days. I know now that I was so happy when she rang, but I was scared too. Not scared of starting the job, but scared of letting myself be happy about it.

That probably sounds like lunacy to some of you. I just got a job I know that I’m going to love in the city I’ve always wanted to work in. Life’s moving forwards in a brilliant way, but sometimes even the positive emotions are scary. We try to suppress them because letting any emotion take control, even a happy one, means losing ourselves a little.

We worrier warriors spend a lot of our time trying to control our emotions, trying not to let the anxiety take over, but for goodness sakes, if you’re ever given a good reason to act like the crazy, excitable, over-emotional person you are on the inside, then go for it! Scream from the hill tops if you have to. Let the happy tears run wild. Don’t try to keep it in. When it finally dawned on me that I had no reason to be anxious, that everything had fallen into place and that I was in fact ridiculously happy I cried, I ran around like I’d eaten too many blue smarties and I haven’t stopped smiling since.

 

10 interview tips

I’m no expert, but I spent a lot of time surfing the internet in search of interview help before I went along to my first one yesterday. I was a nervous wreck of course and it would have really helped to have some comforting advice all in one place. Some of these things I found out and knew before I went, some I wish I knew, either way, I’m glad to know them now and to be able to share the knowledge.

One – Remember that the person doing the interview wants nothing more than for you to succeed. If you’re perfect for the job and they can hire you, their job is done. Bear in mind they may already have a heavy work load and interviews could be keeping them away from it. They’ve advertised a role because they want to fill it and they’re probably pretty keen to fill it quickly. They need you as much as you need them. So do them a favour and be perfect.

Two – Confidence is everything. Make sure you feel confident in what you’re wearing and think the outfit through in advance. Black and white is safe, but a colour can be nice. A blazer is good. As a couple of my trusty friends told me, you can never be too smart.

Saying that, don’t try too hard and make sure you’re comfortable more than anything else. I’ve never been a make-up kind of girl, but before my interview yesterday I was so worried about looking my best, I caked it on. Then I got so ridiculously stressed over whether it looked alright, I took it all off and started all over again. In the end I went with what I’m comfortable with. A light splattering of mascara and some lip balm and I felt so much better for it. Simply stick to what you know and you’ll be fine.

Three – Reserach the company. Practice answers to all the predictable questions. Particularly: Why do you think we should hire you for this job? What do you think we are looking for? Tell us a little about yourself? Whether you have a friend or loved one who has the patience to listen or not. Sit in front of a mirror if you have to. Practice until talking about yourself feels completely natural.

Four – Be Prepared. Take a bottle of water. Plan your journey, work out your travel time and leave extra early. Take tissues. Take a pad and pen. Have contact details for the person interviewing you in case you get delayed. Know who you’re calling when the interview is over to debrief.

Five – Expect the worst. If your ideal interviewer is a man, imagine it’s going to be a woman. If you hope the interview doesn’t involve any practical aspects, presume it will. Make sure when you get there, you’re ready for anything and you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

You probably will be. My interview yesterday was really enjoyable. No-one ever tells you that if you’re interviewing for a position that you actually really want, you’re actually very likely to enjoy meeting the people, seeing the office and getting a glimpse into what could be your future. So get excited, not just nervous.

Six- Remember to ask questions. This isn’t just an opportunity for them to figure out if they want you. It’s a chance for you to decide if you really want the job too. Be sure to get a feel for the surroundings, the people and the working environment.

Seven – Reread the application you submitted before you go. Remind yourself who you are on paper. Remind yourself of everything you’ve learned from every job you’ve ever had. Remind yourself what you did and didn’t include. Pick holes in your history as if you are the interviewer. Try to figure out where the holes are and come up with excuses for things they might question… Low A Level Grades, 3 months out of work etc.

Eight – Be ready to show them that you are the person specified. Save a copy of the Job Description before the closing date because there is a high risk of them taking the online vacancy down afterwards and removing any trace of the job description with it. This is bad because you want to be able to reread the person specification before interview and ensure that you fit. Have examples of times when you have done exactly what they say they want you to of done. If they say they want you to be organised, make sure you can think of an example of a time when your organisation really paid off. Also, use the job description for interview clues. They’re likely to base their questions around it.

Nine – Remember you’re only human and they know that. Don’t freak out if you can’t do everything they said they want you to be able to do and if you aren’t everything they said they want you to be. Be aware of the things that might hold you back at interview, but don’t be discouraged by them. Be ready to recognize your faults at interview and show a keenness to improve, challenge yourself and learn new things.

Ten – Believe in yourself. You’re going to have to talk a lot about what you’re good at and how amazing you are. If you don’t believe it, they never will. Hold your head up, smile and be proud.

Mind over matter

Recently, my beautiful cousin wrote a blog on mindfulness. (It’s well worth a read and the link is at the bottom of this post. I’ve also included the link to a mindfulness meditation video which helped me heaps.) And I mention it because even more recently I discovered just how practicing mindfulness can help. In the spirit of being honest, when I first read my cousin’s post I underestimated mindfulness. I didn’t think it was for me. I thought meditation was a thing I’d struggle with in many ways. Then, one down day last week left me feeling particularly shaken.

I truly believed that I’d hit the bottom. Considering how well things were going, I can’t quite believe how pessimistic I felt. I was tired of being anxious and I wanted to give up and I felt hopeless and I was convinced that every day of the rest of my life, I’d be miserable. I’ve felt all of this before, but this time the thoughts were scarier, more consuming. Perhaps all of the anxiety I’d been feeling over the last couple of weeks had been smothered in a way, by all the good stuff I was feeling. Then it burst out. I was exasperated by the fact I still felt anxious when the past couple of weeks had been so truly amazing.

In the end I rang The Samaritans and they stayed on the phone until I was out the other side. I didn’t call them because I believed I might kill myself. I called them because I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling rationally and I didn’t want to panic family and friends BUT I felt like if I didn’t get it out, talk about it, I would be giving the feelings more power over me. The Samaritans were amazing and if you ever need them, you can call them 24 hours a day on 116 123.

24 hours was all it took before I was practicing mindfulness on my bedroom floor for the first time and feeling like I could go on. I hadn’t truly felt like I was in control again since the phone call. I had pretty much decided that I was going to carry on feeling that way and I’d just call The Samaritans every time I felt like that for the rest of my life. Laying flat on my back, on the floor, listening to a mindfulness video, I discovered the power of being in the moment and coming to the realisation that we have power over our minds, not the other way ’round. It honestly took ten minutes of being mindful for me to believe in myself again. Since, I feel stronger than ever. I highly recommend it. I only wish I’d believed enough to try it sooner.

What’s also amazing is that once I’d been mindful I finally felt I could tell people around me how I’d felt. I told Dave, I told my brother, I took control back and I moved onwards and upwards.

Right now, I’m sat on an actual sofa (because we have one actual sofa now) and I’m looking at our beautiful living room (that now has house plants in it, including a wonderful cactus called Patrick) and I’m smiling hugely even though it’s all grey and gloomy outside. These last two weeks have been far from miserable. Believe it or not despite my emotional all over the place-ness, they’ve been great.

I’ve applied for lots of jobs and despite having heard nothing yet, am still feeling determined.

I’ve started writing my first ever song and I’ve been keeping up the piano practice.

I finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion and I thoroughly enjoyed it… It made my heart sing.

I bought a foot stool and can now reach the top of my new wardrobe.

I’m getting to know the new area. I’ve been ’round to the local shops and been into town a few times now and it feels more like home every day.

We’ve had more wonderful friends over to visit. Two brought flowers with them. One brought Christmas crackers along because why not? One brought yorkshire puddings and helped us to make our first flat Roast which came out really well! I feel more blessed every day to have the friends I do.

Dave and I have been out for dinner and been to the cinema, been record shopping together and we’ve started working through the list of films we’ve been meaning to watch for ages and without setting off anyone’s cheese allergies I have to honestly say how lovely it is to be in the same place and actually be able to spend time together and do actual couple things. So yeah, he hasn’t driven me crazy yet, but watch this space I guess.

One film we watched was ‘Hidden Figures’, which I have to give a special mention to before I go. It is simply phenomenal. I cannot believe that I did not already know the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson and I’m so glad I do now. The film is eye-opening, uplifting and inspirational. Watch it whenever you get the chance.

http://speakingtheunspokenword.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/be-mindful-about-your-mind.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p_yaNFSYao

8 Life Lessons I’ve learned from working two jobs

Okay, I know I’m not an expert and I haven’t been doing this two job thing very long at all BUT I’m feeling philosophical so humour me and let me put my life guru hat on just for this evening?

One – Live in the moment. I’m sure you’ve heard it said before and believe me I know it’s easier said than done. Seeing as over-thinking is in my anxious nature and planning ahead is all that normally keeps me sane, I always brushed living day by day off as impossible. HOWEVER, my rota changes every week now and life’s so much simpler. I have to live life week to week, I simply can’t plan ahead and I’m actually happier because of it. Believe me, it’s the best way to live. If you’ve gotta pencil stuff in your diary, do so, but don’t think on it anymore than that. Taking life as it comes, I’m making better use of my free time too because I don’t know when my next day off will be or when I’ll next have time to get stuff done.

That brings me to number two…

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Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move mountains

Today is my grandad’s and my sister’s birthday. I love birthdays. Waking up this morning and jumping out of bed to give them my birthday wishes made me so happy. I love how everyone comes together too. My grandparents were here for the weekend and my brother came home too. My sister’s friends popped round with presents, we had bacon sandwiches, looked through old photos for memories sake and then I had to get off to work.

I’ve been at work for most of the afternoon so I’m now feasting on left over birthday cake and drinking the last of the red wine. Did feel a little down about the fact I had to work, but all in all I think it’s worked out okay: I got home in time to see them blow out their birthday candles and it seems to me the two of them have had really lovely days. Well deserved too!

It’s been another long and busy week. Not all work this week though. Managed to fit in an afternoon with the Alzheimer’s Society, an evening with Dave and a couple of evenings with friends. Spent Thursday night drinking cocktails which made a very nice change from carrying them on trays.

Can’t quite believe how quickly Christmas is coming up. Going to have to start making some time for Christmas shopping too. Can definitely tell winter is on the way. I’ve attached the fur back onto the hood of my coat, my scarf rack is out from behind the cupboard and so are my winter boots.

Another busy week ahead, for now I’m just looking forward to an early night. Bed’s going to feel amazing, it always does when you’re tired, especially when you’ve had a glass of wine.

The only way is up

I’m in the kitchen with my mum. Bacon’s in the frying pan, I’ve got a cup of tea in hand, I’m a happy bunny. I’m wearing my roughest jeans and a hoodie and I’ve definitely got that Sunday feeling.

Work last week was better than I ever could have imagined. I went back into the school on Monday a nervous wreck of a Bronwen, but when I left that afternoon I’d found my confidence again. Honestly, just like that. It was like something clicked and I finally got over the fact it was all new and it started to feel familiar. Nothing’s more comforting than familiarity.

I knew I was comfortable when I found myself singing everywhere I went.

This week’s my training week at the restaurant and I’m so excited! Will be great to meet everyone more than anything. Feels so productive to be working again.

This evening I’m off out for a curry with some old friends from school. My brother’s home from uni this weekend and I’m stealing as many hugs off him as possible before he leaves again. My mum’s still promised me a teeny tiny roast at lunch time. (Can’t ruin my curry but don’t wanna miss out on roast either. Especially when roast lunch is going to be a whole family occasion.)

My mum found out she’s finally got the job of her dreams this week. She’s wanted to be a LSA for as long as I can remember, but she’s had the worst luck. I was so happy when she told me that this time, the position is hers.

I’m more addicted to The Walking Dead than ever, so studying has kind of gone out of the window. In a way though, I felt like I was studying all week at the school. At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, I couldn’t help thinking about the ways Music Therapy could be applied everywhere I went.

The butterflies only flutter occasionally now as if to remind me they’re still there, but they’re manageable. Peace has been restored. Everything is on the up.

10 reasons to read more

One – Reading is for everyone. Okay, so you read one book by Dan Brown and you can’t handle the suspense, or decipher the intellectual gobbeldy-goop. I’d disagree with you when you said you didn’t enjoy it, but I wouldn’t judge you for it. Maybe you’ll say that means reading isn’t for you. Except there are millions of other books out there, all different. There’s one out there somewhere that’ll get you hooked. I know it.

Two – It’s fun and easy. You can claim that reading’s too much like hard work, but when you start reading you’ll realise it’s not. In fact, I feel more brain dead after a netflix binge than I do at the end of a book. Stick with it, the more you read the better your brain gets at it. Eventually, with perseverance and a little patience, you’ll forget to try. The story will come alive before your eyes.

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Inhale confidence, exhale doubt

It’s Sunday. Dave’s popped home again. We’re sat watching the football having had the yummiest and biggest of full Englishes this morning. The sun’s shining, but it is really chilly so I’m curled up on the sofa under a blanket. It’s October! Can you believe it? Time’s flying. Not going to lie, I’m excited about Christmas already.

I had three job interviews this week and they all went really well, which I guess is a really good thing. More decisions than ever to make now though. One of the interviews was for another position in a school and I’m going to work a few days there this week. Gives me time to figure out how happy it makes me and them time to figure out if they want me on board. Excited and nervous all at the same time.

It’s been a really good weekend. My mum cooked an amazing casserole on Friday evening. Friday night I was out with friends in town. Saturday morning was a lazy hazy one. I met one of my best friends for lunch once I got moving. They’ve just opened a brand new John Lewis store in the town centre and when we got there the wait for food everywhere was at least half an hour. In the end we jumped in my car, retreated back out of town and headed to the pub instead. Turns out Hunter’s Chicken is great hangover food. We went all out and ordered three courses. It was pretty wonderful.

Lacking confidence going into this week. Hoping all goes well. Just need to remember that this week could be a complete disaster and all would still be alright in the end. Can only give it my best shot and that’s what I’m going to do. Not sure even singing will make these butterflies go away.

A letter to my younger self

Heyyou,

Believe it or not, it’s me. I’m you. Okay, well that’s confusing.

You’ll be sad to know I’m not famous yet. There’s still a big part of me that just wants to get up on stage every day and sing my heart out, but no, unfortunately that is not what I’m doing. Good news is, I’ve graduated now! Yep, that’s right. To say I found university hard would be an understatement, but I made it out the other side and I’m still standing. I looked great in the funny hat and robe, I did some travelling and now I’m looking for work – proper adult style.

So you’ve finished Year 11 and you’re going into Sixth Form College. Everyone’s telling you that you just have to go to uni. No-one’s telling you about the options you can take that don’t involve moving miles away from home and taking a really big loan from the government, go to them and ask them about them! Make sure you know you have a choice.

University did us an awful lot of good, but we would have been fine without it too. There’s some amazing people in my life right now that might want to kill you if you decide never to meet them though, just saying.

All I want you to know is that I still don’t have it all figured out. I still don’t have an answer to the question ‘What do you want to do for the rest of your life?’ and I’m beginning to finally realise that that is okay. Honestly, you don’t need to have all the answers, have fun, follow your heart and you’ll be fine.

Don’t let people tell you that you need a plan. Take it as it comes.

I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t rush. If you need a year out, take one. Listen to your own heart and don’t let what anyone else is doing sway you. You can make all the big decisions you like, but when you’re 22 you’ll just be sat wondering why you worried so much. You’ll still have changed your mind a million times. Plans change, things change, life happens, but it’ll all be alright in the end.

Lastly, if you do go to uni, don’t take that bottle of apple sours and don’t let your flatmates give you tequila either. Try Sambuka instead, you’ll thank me for it.

Yours-self,

Bronwen