Saturday, 12 January 2013

A New Year, A New Me

Me. Photo by Hannah Wheeler
2013 is officially in full swing, and the time has come to start honouring those New Year's resolutions. Did you make any? Have you broken them yet?

I never normally bother, knowing that any change I feel 'forced' to make will almost certainly be impossible to keep to. However, this year is different. This year I'm different. I feel more confident, independent and a little bit more in control of my life. I don't know if it's something that is happening with age or if it's to do with finally being settled, but I intend to take it and run with it.

My resolution is simply this: Get My Shit Together.

Up until now I have coasted through life like a teenager, without ambition or any sense of direction. I have also always been famously disorganised and incredibly untidy. I would always shrug off these negative qualities as being 'just part of me', but the fact is that I was scared of growing up. Scared of trying to better myself out of a fear of failure. That's no longer an issue. Suddenly I'm aware that I can do whatever I want as long as I'm willing to put in enough effort to achieve my goals.

First things first, I had to tackle my complete reluctance to tidy up after myself. I actually started this back in October when we moved into our new home. The bungalow looked so pretty that I didn't want to leave my clothes on the floor or washing up on the side. Of course, I still slip up occasionally (usually after a heavy weekend) but I know that it won't take me long to put right, so I get on with it rather than procrastinating for a week (or far, far longer).

The next obstacle to tackle was my lack of organisational skills. Particularly in regards to money. I'm terrible with money, basically because I have no will power. If I see a pair of shoes that I love, it won't occur to me to check whether I can actually afford them. I just buy them, and sod any bills that may also be due to come out that month. I'd think nothing of having a £50 night out every other week, despite the fact that I could barely afford to contribute to the food shopping. Moving put a stop to that sort of behaviour. Having lived with my parents for the past two years, we only had our rent to worry about. Now we have rent, council tax, water, electricity, gas and all of the other things that come with being responsible for your own home. It's also not just my home, if I fail to pay my half of the bills, it causes problems for Mr M as well. I'm also prone to just forgetting to pay. So, even if the money is in the bank, sometimes it takes a red reminder to give me a kick up the bottom. This is the year that all that stops. I have bought myself a box file for all of my bills and paperwork, I have reminders set up to help me with credit card and catalogue balances, and I have a spending log - a little notebook in which I itemise every little amount that I spend. More often than not, it's the small purchases that add up to debt. The odd five pounds that you spend and instantly forget about.

Having worked out a plan to get the basic areas of my life into some sort of order, I felt ready to take on the biggest challenge of all - my lack of ambition. 

As a little girl I always wanted to be a journalist. Somewhere along the line I lost confidence in my writing ability and, by my teens, I had no idea in which direction I wanted my life to go. At school I made plans to take my A-levels and go to law school. I never wanted to be a lawyer, but people were impressed when I told them that I did. However, lacking conviction in what I was doing, I dropped out of school halfway through my first year of sixth form. My parents were devastated. I had worked so hard and done so well up until that point and then just gave it all up. To them it seemed like a terrible waste of an education. For me it was an opportunity to take a step back and take time to work out what I wanted to do. It just took a lot longer than I expected.

I toyed with the idea of being an artist for a while, craving a creative lifestyle, but I always felt a bit like an imposter. Drawing my cheesecake pin-up girls was fun but I couldn't see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I certainly never felt like an artist. I could draw, I loved drawing, but it wasn't what I was. Just over a year ago, I began blogging. The response I got from friends was wonderful and has continued to blow me away with each piece that I publish. Slowly but surely my confidence has returned, and the path towards journalism is once again illuminated for me. It was always there, I just lost my way somewhere along the line.

In February I will be starting a BA in English Language and Literature. Without A-levels, the Open University was my obvious option for higher education and means that I can continue work, but they do not offer an undergraduates course in journalism. Degree or no degree, I need experience in order for future employers to take me seriously. That in mind, I contacted a local news website and offered my services. After presenting my blog as proof of my ability to string a few sentences together, I was offered a regular column (as well as the odd news feature to help the editor out). There's no money involved, but the sense of purpose I get when I'm researching or writing a piece is indescribable. There's truly nothing else I'm supposed to be doing.

So this year really is heralding a new start for me. One that doesn't leave an awful lot of time for myself, admittedly, but I've spent the past twenty eight years relaxing and resting on my laurels. It's time to get out there and show the world what I've got, because what I've got really is worth seeing.

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