Sunday, 30 October 2016

‘In life you will get many, many, many nos before you get a yes!’

Each year thousands of people start university and for the last time ever, I am one of them. The safety net of education will disappear before my eyes in ten short months. What awaits me in the not-so-distant future remains unknown for now and I have finally come to terms with that. It’s ok.

Until now life has been fairly systematic, I’ve always known what is going to happen next, so the thought of not having a clear plan of action for life after university filled me with dread. Like most people I want success and I want happiness. Beyond that I have no clue and I can't help but envy the person who knows exactly what they want do. Let’s call that person Lisa. Lisa knows exactly what do, how and when and unlike me, she can envisage the end. However, one thing that Lisa and I will have in common on our respective paths are obstacles. One of the greatest, if not THE GREATEST lesson my mam has taught me, is that in life you will have many, many, many nos before you get a yes. Admittedly, this was almost always when she didn’t allow me to attend a party for whatever reason and I huffed and puffed (to no avail). Though even all these nos, lots and lots of them (African parents lol) could not prepare me for the rejection I faced dipping my toes into adult world. It’s shit. The feeling in your heart and in your tummy when you begin to question not only your ability but your worth is indescribable. What’s worse is seeing Lisa, Jessie and Beth seemingly sailing through life, getting this interview and that job. But after a while I had to just stop and have a word with myself. Firstly, not getting a job is in no way a measure of your worth. EVER. And second, you haven’t walked the path of Lisa, Jessie or Beth. Comparison is the theft of joy so as hard as it may be, don’t mind them. I won’t pretend that accepting these is easy, I’m yet to fully accept them myself.

The future is no doubt a scary thing but it’s also full of potential and I won't allow fear of failure to cripple me. At the age of twenty-one there is no rush. I'm in no way glad that Lisa faces obstacles, I'm relieved that I'm not alone. Besides that Lisa can do her thing and I'll do mine. My journey will be challenging and I will get my 'yes' but to add yet another cliché to this post, nothing good comes easy.



Thursday, 22 September 2016

‘The humourless puzzle of inequality and hate’

When I think about how much I used to read in comparison to how little I read nowadays, I feel only shame. Even as I try to do better – that is reading two and a half books in two years – the shame only grows. Anyway, a start is a start and my latest read is Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. The highly acclaimed, part one of seven autobiography is obviously a wonderfully written autobiography but I have to admit I didn’t necessarily get any page-turner feels. BUT I think that was more down to my lack of interest in reading as opposed to the book itself.

Spotted towards the end, this quote really stood out to me because of its relevance today. The topic of race is dominant throughout reflecting Angelou’s own life. Having lived in 1930s, 1940s southern America, race dictated every single aspect of Angelou’s life. Sadly, to some extent this remains the case today for some. We’re all too familiar with the unlawful killings of young black men around the world and while it’s not in any way new, increased exposure reminds us of how much we are yet to achieve. Without negating all the great efforts that have been made over almost a hundred years, I can’t help but feel that the “puzzle” is far from being solved. I will never be able to comprehend why people are still offended by race.

Whilst Angelou deals with some serious topics, she still manages to make the book read like a conversation, a chat with a friend. She had a pretty turbulent youth and it only really struck me afterwards because her writing is so effortless. That’s not to say that she didn’t write of her tragic experiences incredibly or that I wasn’t shocked by them. Now that I think of it, this is partly why I was not necessarily hooked, but what better way to write an autobiography? Ultimately, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is not a dramatic story or a tell-all scoop, it’s a candid coming of age story of a girl whose so attuned to the world around her and despite its cruelty refuses to allow it to dampen her strength. In just two hundred eighty-one pages, Maya Angelou reveals herself as one of the most resilient and determined individuals I have never met. As much as I forced myself to read this book at times, as I came to the end, I remembered why I used to love reading. Angelou has an unparalleled ability to put a handful of words together and say a million more, including the seven words this post is entitled.
 

Monday, 29 August 2016

1, 2, 3 Berlin!

Truth be told, I’ve never been mad about travelling. Of course I’ve found countries and cities interesting but never had a desire to get up and venture anywhere - until now. Berlin is the second place I’ve visited after Grenoble, where I caught the travel bug. Alongside my boyfriend-turned-tour-guide with his trusty Lonely Planet book, we literally wandered across as much of the city as we could in three short days.

One. We kicked off a very, very quiet Sunday with a solid buffet brunch, followed by much-anticipated visits to the Holocaust memorial, Brandenburg gate and parts of the Berlin Wall scattered across the city centre. In the evening we U-Bahnned over to Friedrichshain for drinks at a place called Hops and Barley, recommended by The Lonely Planet. I intended to train my palate in advance of the trip but for one reason or another (I hate beer) I didn’t. I tried to compromise with a shandy, but even that was a struggle. I did however try a multicoloured cider drink and that was nice.


Two. Monday was a lot busier than Sunday, plus the sun was out - double bonus. We spent the afternoon finding Checkpoint Charlie and visiting the Jewish Museum. Then we grabbed a burger and a bench at the highly acclaimed Berlin Burger International. It was insane.


Three. On our last day in Berlin, we explored the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district. Errors were definitely made overlooking this place when we first arrived. We more or less dropped off our luggage at the hotel we were staying at and headed straight to the city centre. At the time we had no idea we were around the corner from loads of pretty streets filled with shops, boutiques and cafes.  


For a history buff like Jamie, Berlin was an absolute dream and despite being the total opposite, I enjoyed it too. I was especially intrigued by the contrasting architecture in the west, the centre and the east. You can’t help but feel the remnants of a turbulent history, it’s so freshly ingrained in the city. All in all my trip to Berlin was, for lack of a better phrase, really cool, but unfortunately it's a no from me on the beer front.


On to the next city (Vienna’s currently on the cards)!





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Maira Gall