Being true to yourself never goes out of style

photo-of-woman-looking-at-the-mirror-774866.jpgHad to take a Legally Blonde quote for this one.

Living with a Chronic Illness is tough, being LGBT+ can also be tough. Having a job as a stopgap to hopefully bigger and better things – also tough. Life is tough.  And there are many situations you may encounter in life where you feel you need to not be yourself. Where you feel you should pretend to be someone your not or downright lie as to why you want to take x day off. (As the mother suggests and does often).

Maybe there’s a bit of Hufflepuff in me, but I value honesty and integrity. I don’t want to be living a lie and I want the freedom to post about events I’ve attended on social media without having to worry about who’s seen it.

I used to try and pretend to be someone I’m not, fit myself into that perfect mould that people told me to be. Attempting to conform with that on application forms, contemplating the mould in the decisions I made in life and when I was a lot younger, pretending to be someone I’m not to make and maintain friendships.

My advice is don’t. Also don’t lie. Chances are you’ll get found out eventually.

I’ve got a lot further when I’ve been honest. When I’ve shown my genuine passion and interests.

I’ve also got myself into very bad situations from not disclosing my disability and as a result having to push myself more than my body was capable of. This caused a decline I haven’t come back from in 2017 and over the summer it caused some psychological trauma from being on a carpark floor in front of colleagues for two hours and having to go to A&E. It also caused me to be unable to walk for two weeks and drop attacks that I am only just getting some control over.

Never had this made being true to myself ring so true.

I have also found that I am a lot happier when I am being true to myself. In whatever way that may mean. It also helps me to create a narrative I can use throughout my training contract applications and soon LPC applications (I’ve heard this helps).

So yes be true to yourself. In all parts of life. Now this doesn’t mean sharing everything and anything. There’s a lot I don’t share. I don’t share the details of my illness in anywhere near as much depth as I feel them, for example. It just means being honest, and not pretending to be someone your not.

 

 

How to write a first class law dissertation.

 

So this weeks post is going to be a law post instead of a chronic illness post. And more specifically a post for law students who are either currently trying to write their dissertation or want to get a head start on the whole process.  Now my only qualification is that I myself got that magical first and in doing so I saw that there were few blog posts dedicated to legal dissertations.  So what I want to do here is give the graduates perspective on getting a first in your dissertation.

The first place to start is with choosing your topic and more specifically the question that you want to answer. The number one most important thing here is to make sure that you are passionate about what you want to write about. As much as you can anyway, as at least with my university you need to write three proposals and the uni gives you one. If that’s the case then spend a lot of time thinking about the three proposals you put down. Ensure that you can really see yourself spending a year working on any one of them. Passion makes the whole thing so much easier – I found that I actually wanted to work on my dissertation and enjoyed doing so because the topic was so me.

When choosing a topic you also need to do your research and I mean proper research not just reading the relevant textbook chapter or lecture notes but actually start looking into journal articles and case law. You need to look out for whether there is enough but also to make sure that there is a gap in the scholarship and the law for your dissertation. It also helps if your topic is current.

Don’t be shy. Ask for help. Be that friends, family, professors. Sometimes just talking out your ideas really helps. I also mention this because from my knowledge it is common for people to need to refine their questions and if your supervisor says this do not get disheartened and work with them. Easier said than done I know. I wasn’t asked to refine my question and I didn’t refine my question but I can imagine it feels a bit like falling at the first hurdle. But you haven’t fallen and you have got this.

But Hannah, my problem isn’t my topic. I have my topic, I have my question. I just don’t know how or where to start. 

I definitely relate to not knowing where to start. It can all be so overwhelming but I’m going to share some planning and writing tips that should help you get over that block. Although it’s important to remember that we all work differently and ultimately you need to do what works for you.

Firstly it’s necessary to make a brief and flexible plan, utilising your initial research. Essentially, write down each overarching concept, idea or argument that you want to cover. This will really help you break your dissertation down into chapters and sub-headings within those chapters. This and be done in mind map format or in a word document or you can handwrite it and stick it upon your wall/place it at the front of your dissertation folder, on your desk or whatever works for you.

I had a mind map, I had random scribbles in my notebook whilst I tried to work it all out in my mind, but for this I used a word document, as then I could add research to it as I went along either by writing in my own words, copying and pasting or just “see y at line 34.” This really helped me keep my research, which there was a lot of, organised and help see the links, as well as where I maybe needed to do some more research, and what that research needed to consist of. It is so essential that you keep your research organised in whatever way that works for you and your dissertation.

Set a schedule, set deadlines. Be that “I’m going to work on my dissertation on a Wednesday,” or something else.  That will definitely help you get from the overwhelmed stress procrastination block and mean you don’t leave it all to the last minute.

So what do I do now I’ve started?

Immerse yourself into your topic, but if you need to take time out that’s okay to. It’s a marathon not a sprint and wellbeing is a key component to success.

Use your supervisor to your advantage. Use them way more than I did. You are not a burden it is quite literally their job and if you have a good supervisor they can be a real helping hand.

Keep a notebook or a section of a notes app or both with you at all times for those random thoughts. Most of them will be useless but some will be gold.

Make use of a wide variety of sources for your research, don’t just look at legal journals, books, cases and legislation.  Use videos, podcasts, or even journals from other disciplines if these may be relevent. This can definitely help with motivation as well as give content that is laking in the legal resources.

Keep challenging yourself to go deeper, get others to challenge you. Writing a first class dissertation isn’t easy for most of us and I certainly submitted it knowing that that piece of work was reflective of the top end of my academic ability at that time. To add on to this believe in yourself. A first is not out of reach.

Proof-readers are essential. Especially if your chronically ill and suffer from brain fog. Once you’ve spent that long on something an extra pair of eyes or two are useful to let you know when you’ve made a typo, when something doesn’t make sense, is repetitive or where there’s a grammatial error.

Finally, make it original. Come up with an original solution, an original justifiation. Add a bit of personality to it. Some level of originality is needed for a first and adding a bit of personality to it will help keep your examiner interested.

This is longer than I wanted it to be but to close, you can do this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why getting a job is sometimes more luck than judgement .

So imagine this, you are just out of university. Every graduate in the country is looking for a job. This time, that wonderful season called summer, is a time where the job market is heavily saturated. And it’s difficult. Every single job seems to ask for experience or is in a difficult to get to location. Or due to health issues, it’s one that just isn’t possible. Not only do you need to think of a job now, but you also need to plan your future, apply for training contracts, mini-pupillages etc.

Then again you just have a thirst to travel. To run away from it all but here’s the catch – it’s borderline as to whether you have the funds. Due to flights it’s borderline as to whether I’d have the 5000 aussie dollars necessary for a working visa. (Would be planning on office temp work because health if I did it)

I actually have an interview to teach in china with EF on Monday to lets hope. I got a not really legit teach in china job a few months ago and turned it down due to that. The differences in how EF do things is already evident in the recruitment process.

But anyway. I Fear I have gone on a tangent.

This blog post is targeted at explaining that often times whether you get the job or not is just luck. To go along with that I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. And this is not to underestimate the hard work that is also involved in securing a job. For law, all the research into firms and in any case CV’s should be tailored for each position. Yes it is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of luck and that is the stance I am going to take in this post.

Many of factors go into how good the application was and whether you progress, such as;

  • How tired you were when you applied
  • How distracted you were
  • How tired/distracted the recruiter was
  • They may have filled all the positions and just not taken the job down
  • Where you live
  • You don’t have a driving licence
  • The recruiter just doesn’t relate to you
  • Hours your available to work
  • Potential commitment time
  • How good everyone else who applied was
  • Your CV is not ATS compatible

and many many other reasons why you may be rejected for a job without getting to interview but may get an interview for a more skilled job.

Getting a job can be a difficult journey for some of us. I still have these two provisional offers under my belt with no signs of progress and one is meant to start next week.

Shit happens with references too. Which is one of my issues right now because all of my previous employees have left their jobs. And due to health issues I wasn’t great at those jobs anyway…

Remember not to be disheartened about rejection.

Rejection is redirection and it could happen for a number of reasons.

Just take action and persist and eventually life will work out.

 

 

How to get a first in family law

Disclaimer: it goes without saying that this is not an exhaustive list and my only qualification to write about this is getting a first in family law. I am also going to try and avoid too much generalised advice and just let you know what I wish I knew before taking the module.  So let’s get started. 

  1. You need to consider the wider context – policy considerations, likely effect on the child, the political climate etc. Really consider this in essay questions and if you’re planning on thinking out of the box, problem questions too!
  2. Take a psycho-social approach to the law – You will likely have a lot of studies thrown at you in lectures or put on your reading list about things like the importance of contact with both parents, the impact and prevalence of domestic violence, the reaction of the criminal justice system to domestic violence and various other areas you will  cover throughout the course. It can be difficult to know how to utilise these and what the purpose of them is at the beginning because these are things that are not featured in many other law modules. But use them! Use them to back up a point, use them to help explain why the law is the way it is and if you have coursework critique them.
  3. The Welfare of the child is paramount – The welfare principle comes up time and time again in family law. Know S1 Children Act 1989 off by heart. Just do it. Even if you can use statute books in the exam. In revision notes make note of when it applies and which parts apply to help avoid confusion.
  4. Feminism – Feminist perspectives to the law are prevalent and easily applicable to the entirety of family law. If you have coursework spend some time discussing this where relevant and think about it for exam essays.
  5. Utilise a variety of resources – It can get confusing, but fortunately family law is well resourced. If you need to use a website meant for parents going through disputes just to get the bare bones then that’s okay. You can build up from that to get the knowledge base necessary for a first. Understanding is however key. You can know all the statute and case law but if you don’t know the reasoning behind it or implications of it you won’t get a first.
  6. Human rights – More specifically consider A8 ECHR and the implications that has on the law in that topic – could one argue A8 implications as a reason for reform?
  7. Case facts  – Okay I guess this is a more general one. They can be useful for essays to analyse whether the decision was a just one or to outright say how unjust the decision was but don’t get too bogged down with them. In problems remember that in many areas of family law each case is decided on it’s own facts. So don’t justify your conclusion based on a similar case. Stick to principles from the cases and apply them.

If you keep these in mind, they will definitely help you succeed in this module. Family law can get very overwhelming but it is certainly doable and it was probably my favourite module in final year.

If anyone wants advice relating to other modules you may take in law school leave a comment! And if anyone has more family law advice please feel free to comment!

From 2:2 to 1st

Passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law, and of life – Elle Woods

Earlier this week I received my overall degree classification and my final year module results. And well… the title says it all. I got a first. Very much feeling like Elle Woods right now despite perfectionist me trying to get me down because some people get higher firsts. Yes I need to learn to be easier on myself. I am mentally and physically unwell and a first is more than enough! But anyway, in light of the progress I have made throughout my degree I thought I’d discuss a little bit of my journey and give a few useful tips getting the undergraduate degree you deserve. This will be aimed at law students but a lot of it will apply to many disciplines.

So a came out of first year with a 2:2 – albeit a high one because my strengths lie in exams. And back in the day there was a huge difference between exam me and coursework me. Now that difference is only marginal – but still there. Exams are my strength. For some coursework is there strength. There are a few tips that arise from this point.

  1. If you know your better at coursework before going to uni select a uni that offers a lot of coursework for your course – I think for my uni it was 60/40 for my class. Which is quite high for a law degree. If exams are your strength then maybe select a more exam based.
  2. If you don’t have this luxury – which I know I didn’t, then find it in your first year and really play to it. Take exam based modules if you have the choice or if coursework is your strength, take coursework based modules.
  3. Work on closing that gap – ask your lecturers what they are looking for, what you need to improve. Read books around your course in the holidays and refer back during the year and make sure you are away of the mark scheme at your institution and what it asks of you.

In first year I was a very busy gal. Yes I worked hard with my degree and I wanted to do my best but I was also doing a lot of other things and dealing with some terrifying and debilitating health issues which I will not discuss because just thinking back to the levels of pelvic pain and myriad of other symptoms is too much.  In my first year I had two jobs, spent 6-15 hours a week doing drama related activities, debated, attended poetry society and catholic society. I did a short course in advocacy, spent maybe a little too much time in the pub, had movie nights with my friends and went to the gym 3-6 times a week.

I was for the first time ever truly living my life – maybe as a distraction from the worry about my fertility levels and also because I very much like to seize the day if the opportunity to do so arises. Hilariously, I also applied to switch to theatre and got accepted. I made pro and con lists and couldn’t decide. But the day before I had to make a decision the judgement on the Charlie Gard case was handed down and it captured me.

It was then that I knew.

I was going to persist with the study and hopefully one day, the practice of law. That is still the case. I’m planning on working for a year because I need a break and then going on to do the BPTC. I would also like to go into law academically at some point because, just like Elle Woods, I learnt to love law.

2nd year I started off trying to be as busy as I was in 1st year, despite my chronic fatigue having got worse over the summer and still very much being symptomatic with suspected endometriosis and dealing with fibromyalgia – which I think I developed towards the end of my first year.

I was on two committees, had a job, dabbled in model UN and the climbing society. I also walked to and from uni.  So it was no wonder that despite working really hard that in my first piece of coursework I only got a 53. (And it was trusts law which I really did not understand, didn’t even answer the question – as I realised once I got feedback.)

All the meanwhile I was getting progressively more ill so I cut back. I had my degree, my committee responsibilities, many GP appointments, transvaginal ultrasounds, gynaecology appointments and blood tests and that was about it.

And what happened? I took that feedback from the 53 and on the next piece of coursework (EU law) I got 73. And it wasn’t a fluke. I got 73 in my land coursework and 68 in my tort coursework.

Admittedly this was not all sunshine and rainbows. My mental health in 2nd year was appalling because of the pill I was on at the time. Cerazette I hate you. I started self harming again, attempted suicide. But hey atleast I got good grades.

Going into exams I was determined to keep this up. So me and my concentrate revision guides and Q&A’s got to work.

Just want to put a disclaimer here – do not rely on revision guides too heavily. They are useful to supplement your own work and  resources, to clarify areas you don’t understand and to improve exam technique. 

And my exam results were as follows

  • Tort: 74
  • Trusts: 77
  • Land: 76
  • EU: 69

Not too shabby at all and certainly more than I expected.

So after summer we go into third year. This year the workload was higher as we had a dissertation on top of the 4 modules. But we had choice over our modules and our dissertation topics.

Now I got really unwell with my ME/CFS and suspected POTS over summer so third year, gonna be honest. I only had my degree. But this is not be saying that you should have no life to do well. I was in a unique situation. Of being pretty much bedbound, and not very functional even in bed at the end of the summer but being too stubborn to take a year out. And I did have some life – just not as much of a life.

I spent time talking to my flat mates, had 7 theatre trips and other things happened.

But for the most part is was study, rest, attend medical appointments and apply for grad schemes (+ the interviews I had associated with that).

My health has honestly been a laughing matter this past year. I’ve managed to improve my ME/CFS drastically although I’m still probably on the mild/moderate borderline. My nausea is no where near as bad as it was in first term. But my joints are horrendous (Yay HSD), my fibro pain got a lot worse and I spent 2 months working my way up to the maximum dose of gabapentin. Which helps. But it made me really anxious and paranoid which I just deal with tbh, my mental health is still a lot better than it was in 2nd year.  Suspected endo and suspected POTS are much less of an issue but my skin is causing all sorts of issues.

But there we go. Life goes on.

I would say I learnt to love law in 2nd year but in my 3rd year I really developed that passion for law. Which I think can make everything more frustrating because suddenly it matters so much more. I absolutely chose the right modules.

It’s that passion that I believe really helped drive my success and allowed me to work the hours that I worked, despite so much going on health wise. It was no longer about just getting the grades because I need the grades. I was, for the first time, doing my degree for me and only me and because of that I wanted to do the best I possibly could.

In terms of revision it was a lot of recall, a lot of colour. I made PowerPoints for essay plans and colour coded problem answers. It was extra research where I felt it was needed or where I was just genuinely interested and it was tactical emails to lecturers, asking specific questions on things that were likely to be relevant to the exam that I needed clarifying. I asked about the structures expected of us and clarifications on the operation of specific parts of statute, sentencing guidelines and case law. It is also important to not underestimate the benefit of talking with your peer group about specific topics within your modules. And in relation to coursework lots of research and thinking. Thinking about the question, the wider context and the merits of the research itself. Again talking to your peers and getting people to proofread is helpful here.

So third year finishes and results are as follows

Coursework

  • Children and the Law: 73
  • Evidence: 73
  • Sentencing: 73

I was a consistent bunny.

Dissertation

  • 80

Exams

  • Children and the Law: 75
  • Evidence: 73
  • Sentencing: 75
  • Family: 86

I was a successful gal. In terms of academic achievement anyway. Not much else. But we have provisional job offers, we’re waiting to hear back from interviews and I’m meeting with someone about some volunteering on Monday.

I also want to note that I am not naturally intelligent and I really struggle with reading comprehension. I never expected these results and it was REALLY hard! Now I’ve finished discussing the journey I’ll end this post with useful tips and try and link a few useful resources.

  1. You need to peak at the right time! Third year is the most weighted year at most uni’s – don’t burn yourself out! Pace yourself. Take first year to get involved in all the things.
  2. If you don’t understand ask for help.
  3. Look after yourself. You won’t reach your full potential otherwise. This means trying to sleep atleast 7 hours a night, taking time to calm down. Go for a 10 minute run, do some yoga or pilates. Try to eat a balanced diet.
  4. Don’t become too isolated!
  5. Switch up your study space.
  6. Practice makes perfect.
  7. Extra research is a must – if you can go beyond the reading list that is even better – but you do not need to read everything on the reading list. If it says it’s optional, it means optional. Utilise them for coursework, seminar preparations  or when looking at specific exam questions.
  8. Attendance is key. Especially seminars but I also found it necessary to attend lectures as I focus more in a lecture than when just listening to the recording in bed.
  9. You do you. Comparison is the thief of joy. Please do not succumb to it. I know it is hard, I know law school is a breeding ground for comparison but you will save your self a lot of tears if you don’t succumb to it.
  10. Your lecturers will try to psych you out. Which makes sense. If you want to be a lawyer you need a thick skin. Be prepared!
  11. And finally, enjoy it!

Resources for law students:

And I am sure there are many other nuggets that you may find and I have found along the way. I just wanted to pinpoint the main and more universal resources.

Hope this was helpful and if anyone reading has useful tips and/or resources please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Perfectionism

 

Perfectionism.

Those who don’t understand it think we are just obnoxious, cocky or full of ourselves. Or they think that to be a perfectionist you have to actually always be perfect – always be actually reaching those unattainable goals that you set for yourself.

But these things are not true.

To my knowledge there are two types of perfectionism – a type that is positive and makes you strive for more, without neglecting your mental health and the more harmful type. The “bad” perfectionist, as I shall term it, sets unattainable goals, never feels good enough. Often suffers from anxiety and is at risk of burning out and developing chronic illnesses.

We are put of from starting or continuing things because we feel as though we are not good enough and so they are not worth it. We set unattainable goals and have to be the best.

A first isn’t good enough. You need marks in the 80s and 90s just because other people can. Doing your job well isn’t enough. You always feel inadequate and have to be perfect.

It’s actually soul destroying, mentally and physically damaging.

As a perfectionist it is very difficult to switch off, take time out. To not reply to that email instantly. It’s difficult to not feel like you must be constantly working – to the extent that even the most basic forms of self care get neglected.

An important thing to note here is that perfectionism doesn’t manifest the same way. It’s not necessarily being perfectly neat and tidy, valedictorian, involved in 1001 projects. People can be perfectionists in different aspects of life or it may just manifest differently in different aspects of a persons life.

It’s also fair to say that perfectionism is prevalent more so in some professions than others. It’s fair to say many barristers are perfectionists, many surgeons, many professional ballet dancers.

And, awareness needs to be raised. It can be a huge problem for some. It needs to be seen as such and the warning signs need to be identified.

Learning to accept that things take time

Patience is a virtue

I don’t know who said that originally, but it is something that is always said. Especially to someone whom does not have patience as one of their strengths.

I am not a patient person. I expect everything to happen instantly, fall into place instantly, be instant.

But that’s not life, that’s not reality. Not for the most of us. Reality is you don’t finish your degree and bam start work. Security checks take time, DBS checks take time. Hey, the start date may not be for a while.

Things take time, and that’s okay! Don’t feel bad for things you can’t control and don’t let anyone make you feel that way.

I’m currently in this awful place of waiting. Waiting for a temporary job to start – providing I get the references and DBS. A job that I’m not actually well enough to do but I just need something so desperately and it’s something enjoyable that I would happily volunteer to do. Waiting to hear back from a graduate scheme that I’m really passionate about, which starts in October.  Waiting to hear back for a paralegal position and waiting for security checks for another provisional offer. (Although haven’t been given anything to sign yet and that ones all v vague as to start date). And the all important waiting for the module results.

And that’s okay. It’s stressful and it’s difficult but that’s okay.

In times like this you just need to take each day as it comes and seize the day! Really just appreciate the life you’re in and find opportunities for yourself. Spend time doing the things you enjoy and see what happens.

I find that makes it a lot more enjoyable and stops you falling into that – watching an entire season of friends in a day trap. Although, I do like to watch it whilst I’m doing other things.

If you have some savings take a short holiday – somewhere not too far away. I’m going away next week and honestly now praying someone doesn’t just email me like “here’s a job, start now.” Because I have plans for those four days.

A welcome break. An adventure. Call it what you will. I like to call it a bit of both.

My first time solo travelling. Yes I’ve caught planes alone and stayed in a different city alone, but never have I been to a country, where I can’t speak the language alone.

Plan your future. I feel uncertainty gives you a lot of time to think. Like me knowing that in my head and my heart I’m a barrister so if I’m going to self fund a vocational training course it should the BPTC. Not that I’d turn down an opportunity to become a solicitor. Maybe I should have thought of this last year and applied deferred but oh well. We’re thinking this year. Actually I’m thinking I might seriously go for it – once I have a stableish living city. An end of the country would be helpful right now.

Then I can train as a Barrister and go into academia later. I don’t know what money with because we all know I’ll end up trying the whole legal aid bar thing.

I quite clearly have big plans which, hopefully I’ll have the spoons to put into place. To set the wheels in motion and make it happen.

And, what I’m saying is it’s okay to take it slower for a while. It’s necessary actually. Especially if your suffering from chronic and/or mental illnesses.

It’s okay to not have it all figured out. And maybe, just maybe. If you take time out, take it slower – you’ll see new things, appreciate simpler things and realise new things.

So maybe, patience really is a virtue.

 

Productivity Culture

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Another day, another blog post – I definitely have a creative muse right now. Today, I am going to write about something I would like to call productivity culture.

I feel as though in todays day and age productivity is so much more important than it was in previous generations. Maybe this is because of the internet, specifically social media which gives us access to so many people who previously we would have seldom come across.

Social media is full of those who build their platform from their business, their studying, their bullet journals, it is also full of a range of other stories, which when taken the wrong way or read in the wrong mindset can put the rest of us to shame. These ultra-productive people have upped the anti for what it means to be successful, to be productive, to be trying your best.

And obviously that’s not true, success is relative and the rational part of me knows that success is relative, and that everything happens for a reason. I also believe that a lot of the time these online personality’s are just inspirational and nothing more – they certainty don’t intend for harm to come from it. I was studytubers, follow studygrammers myself. I hold nothing against the concept or them as people.

But, I do know that I sometimes have to step back, and there have certainly been times when I have been left feeling like I’m somehow not good enough because I’m not ultra-productice or ultra-successful in life. This brings us to a deeper problem. For some teenagers and young adults, just desperate to be successful, for anxious minds this can cause harm. It can lead to the belief that you have to be doing something worthwhile at every waking second of every day. That you have to sacrifice your sleep, your downtime to being constantly busy.

Busy is the word that brings me to belief that this culture is also heavily represented outside of social media, in certain industries. In law, medicine and academia to name a few. And it can certainly be represented by that family friend everyone has who is doing all the things and puts you to shame. Makes you feel like your not doing enough to be successful in life.

Your not doing enough worthwhile activity. You feel bad for spending maybe a little too much time on social media, watching TV or watching YouTube. For not being successful enough. Currently, I’m unemployed. I’m waiting to hear back about a provisional job offer, and have one assessment centre and an interview lined up next week so it’s not like I’m not trying and I’m really trying to be okay with not being ultra-productive during my time off. And not being ultra successful.

Yes I’m being relatively productive (depending on your definition of the word) because the second I’m not distracted I realise just how bad my chronic pain is. Which is not good. I’m really trying to learn that comparison is the thief of joy and we do not all have to be ultra-productive and ultra-successful.

We are all unique and we all have different roles in this world, we are not all meant to be ultra-productive or successful and nor do we have to be.

It’s all relative. Everything is relative. And self care is so so soo important! Some need more of it than others.

It’s okay to let your body rest after running off adrenaline to get through exams. It’s okay. It’s okay if your barely managing your academic commitments, let alone anything else. And so long as your trying, it’s okay if your presently unemployed be it due to fate or otherwise.

We don’t all have to be ultra-productive all the time.

Be you, be unique and that’s enough.

If you just want to binge TV and do nothing else, that’s okay! If due to illness your unable to do much else that’s also okay!

Listen to your body, your heart and your sole and don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to someone on the internet. If you feel your family or teachers expect to much of you, please don’t let it get to you too much.

And a final reminder – it is okay to rest! We do not have to have every second of our schedules filled out at all times!

Post-Exam Depression

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I’m not really sure what led me to start writing this, other than I think that this affects more people than those who let on about it. It makes sense really, putting everything into these exams, especially if your not good at self care and spend far too long working each day at the expense of everything else. Coming out of it and suddenly feeling low, hopeless or even scared makes sense, especially if your a person who already has a background of poor mental health. This is even more likely if you’ve just finished your final year exams and your suddenly compounded into uncertainty. We’re bound to find ourselves feeling this way.

And it’s so difficult to deal with. You have this desperate urge to be productive and get things done and you are – you do more than lay around watching TV all day, but it feels worthless. It feels useless. You see everyone on social media around you, living their best life, having a job, having an income, having a purpose…

And you, you have to try and keep the money you have and make it last so lets say goodbye to living that best life. Desperate for a long weekend abroad, at the very least, but can’t justify it financially because you have no job.

Admittedly, at this juncture I may have a full time job, which would allow me to apply for the LPC (Solicitor qualification in the UK), and take that alongside. Pending security checks, which I am currently stressing about. Maybe post exam anxiety is also a thing to.

I know they could take months. But here I am stressing about people finding my YouTube channel, which although no one watches at the moment other than me, myself and I – I’ve had my mum frequently hate on me for doing YouTube (back in the day where I had more than me, myself and I watching). I had her scaremongering, saying I wouldn’t get a job if I posted things on YouTube or any social media for that matter.

What if my past actions have destroyed an opportunity I was so, so close to getting. What if… I can’t bare to be moving back home long term. I function much better when I’m away from my family. And even if I didn’t – part of me feels like I’ve failed somehow.

I feel like people perceive me as lazy, unambitious, useless….

Because I’m neither doing my degree anymore, nor am I contributing to society.

And it hurts.

I’m not the sort of person who can just sit down and do nothing easily. I can no longer spend an entire day binging a TV show. And I guess that’s why I’m writing this now. My mental health needs me to be busy, but not self made busy, actually usefully busy.

Life’s difficult.

And I just want to send a message to anyone reading this who may be experiencing something similar, that you are not alone.

Final year complete

What, like it’s hard?

A few days ago I sat my final exams for my undergraduate law degree. Something terrifying, because now I’m unemployed, with no income and like an actual adult who’s maintenance loan will only last so long. Trying to navigate the work world with these illnesses is going to be terrifying and incredibly difficult. I’m scared of having to take too many sick days, scared of not taking the sick days and then producing work of a substandard quality.

It’s terrifying! Now as I’m writing this I may have a full time position to go to in the near  future, and I really hope so because this limbo – even only a few days in. That feeling that I should be working is awful.

Now as for third year. Wow. What a year. It has taken me a lot to stay mentally sane through it all. I new at the beginning I had to sacrifice everything outside of my degree to make it through with my chronic illnesses and I did. And even then, it was tough. The one thing I’ve learnt is sacrificing your entire life is absolutely not what you should do. I feel like I have no friends, I feel like I’ve missed out and that’s okay. It just hurts sometimes.

Academically it has been one of the most challenging of years, suddenly everyone in my classes actively cares and by caring they are so much more intelligent than me and my chronically ill body could ever be. And it’s been difficult to deal with but I have. It’s time to really learn that comparison is the thief of joy, and everyone is on their own journey and everyone has these feelings. I’m saying this about others when I know for a fact atleast some of those others think I’m so much better than them. And then there’s the academics teaching me who are both incredible in their field (for the uni I go to) and have written a million and one papers on the topics we’ve been studying. Fair to say seminars felt a little intimidating sometimes. I even had one who, just the way she spoke to me in class when I contributed made me feel stupid.

Just because I have a different opinion doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Just because I have a different opinion it doesn’t mean I haven’t considered the other arguments. Maybe it’s just the nature of law school, maybe she was just playing devils advocate. It probably wasn’t personal, and if it was then shame on her.

This year we had an increased workload due to that all important dissertation. I printed it the wrong way once so I still have a copy sitting above my desk. It’s very cringeworthy on reflection, I haven’t even bought myself to read it again since submission. I know it won’t get the grade I hope for it, but I also still hope it does. Because on effort alone it deserves it. Unfortunately we’re not marked for effort. We’re marked for content. My dissertation was my baby. It was also meant to be. It came to me, out of nowhere, having not even previously studied the subject area, but knowing some basic information in a session about choosing topics for our proposals. I put it as second choice because since A levels I always thought I was going to write a criminal law dissertation, so I put that proposal first. It came to me. And I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, there were tears, both stress tears and emotional overwhelm tears. But I can say that I enjoyed the process and I would happily do it again.

This year we had free choice over the modules we took and I can say I made the right choice. Yes evidence was hell. Evidence is a complicated module and all of the lectures were at the end of a long day of lectures so I can’t say that they went in very well.

Thank god for recordings,  right?

But it was still interesting and I absolutely fell in love with my other modules. Sentencing was a challenge because other than the actual sentencing part there wasn’t much actual law going on, but it lived up to it’s expectations in being the module I knew I had to study. I then took family law and children and the law, which in some universities is just one family law module. Yes they’re that similar. I fell in love with these two modules more than I ever thought I would. So good modules, good year. Grades may not say the same…. but I really hope they do because again effort.

But I’ve actually learnt things this year. Not just remember and regurgitate for an exam. I’ve learnt things non-academically too. I’ve learnt how important it is to take a break. Even if that just running some errands on campus for 10 minutes. I’ve learnt that I need to be more confident and in a way I have. But I’m still not there. As someone who previously had no self confidence it’s a very long learning curve to become confident – but I need to, because it is that confidence that shines through and makes others believe in you.

I’ve learnt I can be anything I want to be, and albeit late, if I want to apply for the LPC (with LLM) because it makes it cheaper – or SQE if that’s happening and I delay it for a couple of years in the location of new potential job or anywhere for that matter then I can do and I will do and providing I can get a place I can make it work. Just maybe somewhat unconventionally because there’s nothing conventional about working full time and studying part time with chronic fatigue syndrome and others. But if I want to be a lawyer, if I want to pursue law in the future, which I really really think I do. And It’s in my heart and the reason I didn’t want to before was because I didn’t have the confidence. Yes I’m behind, have no work experience (in law) etc and it’ll be hard but hopefully I’ll manage it. I didn’t think I could so I didn’t. But this year, I’ve had this increasing feeling that law is what I want to do.

And now I’ve finished. I miss it. I’ve realised just how much I loved it. So I will make it work.

So long as I get a place and a good enough degree…

But worry about grades aside. I’ve actually done it! I’ve finished my degree within three years despite all the set backs. I’m not saying that this is what anyone with my conditions should do and it’s absolutely okay to take a break! But I am incredibly stubborn and I am proud that I have done it, despite people not believing I can.

Now here’s to the next adventure! Whatever that may be….

Being true to yourself never goes out of style