I am 22 | getting older

This week – on the 26th September, to be precise – I turned 22. In all honesty, I had a lovely birthday surrounded by the people I love, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

What made me a feel just a little bit melancholy was the realisation that I am getting older. This was my first real birthday as an adult; the years between 18 and 21 are still youthful, in my opinion. 22 sounds like an age where you should have everything together. Realistically I know that very few people in their early twenties actually know what they’re doing, but it can definitely seem as though they do. I’ve yet to hit that sweet spot of wisdom and selflessness. My best self.

I get glimpses of it occasionally. Feeling confidence in the way my jacket sits on my shoulders. Not overthinking every smile and gesture that comes both from me and towards me.

Anyway. This is definitely something I’ll write more about, but for now I’ll leave you with a song that encompasses the above. Coincidentally, it’s one of my favourite songs of all time, something you’ll know if you watched my 50 Facts About Me video (shameless plug number 47472…).  

Love and luck (and apologies for the late post!),

Clodagh X

reflections on college | university experience

Going to college was, surprisingly, not something I thought about too much when I was younger. I loved to imagine what job I would have in the future, where I would live, the people I would meet – but never what I would study at university. In retrospect, I believe this was an early sign that third level education would not be the formative experience it constitutes for so many. To say that it would have no impact on my life would be an understatement, but it was not to be a period of transformation.

As time went on I became more aware that change was imminent. Having said this, it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I had made (what I thought was) a firm decision regarding what I wanted to pursue in college. I was convinced that I wanted to study psychology, given my fascination with the human mind. My outlook shifted when I thought more pragmatically; i.e. what I excelled in at school versus what made me cry on a regular basis. The latter being anything maths and science related, I veered away from psychology and chose to do a bachelor of arts in languages. Fast forward through exams, results and college offers, I have a place on my course and I’m ready to go.

This is when things go downhill. Sort of. My experience in college has been odd in the sense that I haven’t hated it, but I definitely haven’t loved it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so indifferent towards something. Academically speaking it’s all been fine, but to this day I feel utterly unstimulated. This combination of indifference and lack of stimulation has not been a good experience. I cannot count the number of times I’ve mentally destroyed myself with regret, agonising over what could have been if I’d chosen a course I was genuinely interested in. Normally this doesn’t last any longer than a day, and I have ploughed on through the very worst of essays and assignments.

The social element of college has also been a mixed bag. I’ve met some wonderful friends over the years, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Many of the people I have crossed paths with in college have restored my faith in humanity, in stark contrast to my experience in secondary school. Having said all of this, the way in which I view socialising has changed quite a lot. If you read my previous post on what constitutes fun, you will know that I’m not really one for parties or going out. Much of the social scene in college revolves around parties, drinking, etc etc. As you can imagine this isn’t something that sits well with me, but it’s no big deal. You can navigate your way around it quite easily.

I would love to say that going to college has been a worthwhile experience, but I’m honestly unsure if I would stretch that far. What I will say is that I have a far healthier relationship with how I view educational institutions; secondary school was downright hellish at times, but I feel as though many of my wounds have healed and I am ready to move on. This wouldn’t have been possible without learning that I could be happy in a school-like setting – i.e. I would still feel terrible if I hadn’t chosen to go to college.

I’ve re-written the end of this piece about six times, but I can’t figure out what the most effective conclusion would be. I don’t even know if there is a conclusion to all of this. If I don’t stop writing here i’ll just end up rambling (because that isn’t what I’ve been doing for this entire piece), so here are a few things I’ve learned from my experience in university. Some ‘reflections’, if you will.

  • I hate working in groups; always have, probably always will. I tried to get involved with society work (we have clubs and societies in most Irish third level institutions), but… it’s a no from me.
  • You are your single biggest priority.
  • Education is important, but it comes in many many forms. Living in this world is an education in and of itself.
  • People can change, for better or for worse.
  • Facing fears is important, but you don’t have to like what it is you once feared. I don’t fear travelling for long periods of time anymore, but I still don’t like it.
  • Routine is essential; much and all as you may dream of days off and lie-ins on a week day while you’re at school, a lack of structure can create all sorts of practical and emotional problems.
  • Disillusionment is worse than hatred. It’s better to feel something than nothing at all. I would honestly say that my worst maths classes were better than some days I’ve spent in college feeling lifeless.
  • It may be true that quitters never win, but quitters also have a chance to move on and try news things. Giving up is not a sign of weakness. So, maybe quitters do win from time to time.
  • The whole ‘you’re only young once’ thing is true, but you can adapt it to your own wants and needs. I may not go out at night all that often, but that doesn’t mean I’m not experimenting with new things.

If you’ve reached the end of this and thought ‘why the f*ck did I read this whole thing when I could have just scrolled to that list at the end’ – you could have, but a lot of the above wouldn’t have made sense. I hope I set the scene appropriately, and that you don’t feel like I did in maths class all those years ago.

If you’re about to start college, or if you’re already wrist-deep into your degree, I wish you the very best of luck in the future. The present is not forever, realistically we’re all gonna be just fine. Or so we hope. It’s all to play for.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

you cannot replace the present with the past | embrace the grey

Incomplete. Unfulfilled. Something is missing.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve experienced the above in my life so far. A sense that nothing is coming together as it should. It often seems to occur in the middle of something rather than at the start or end of a project or phase. You’re stuck in a grey hue of dissatisfaction, with seemingly no end in sight.

It is so easy at this point to look back on your life so far and pinpoint things that made you happy. Things that brought a sense of fulfillment and energy into your being. You may then attempt to re-introduce whatever it was that once completed you back into the present day, hoping that you will feel as alive as you know you are capable of feeling.

This is where we encounter an issue; what once completed you cannot possibly complete you again, as you are already complete in this regard. The action has served its purpose. To try and re-instate it will only bring you back to what is familiar, thus inhibiting growth of any kind.

This in and of itself may seem depressing, but it really isn’t. The fact that you feel a sense of distance from what once made you happy simply means that you are already growing, whether you realise it or not. Eventually you will grow into a new phase, one where you will feel as though you are living again. Embrace the grey hue, be aware of it, and take steps to flourish. It can seem like an impossible task when you are so deeply unsure of what life has in store for you, but you will ultimately look back on the grey parts of your life wishing you had moved forwards rather than backwards into familiar.

———

I realise this post was a bit haphazard, but I’m still readjusting after my week away! I hope you’re all as healthy and happy as can be. I’ll have a longer post up later in the week.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

when I’m ready | just do it

You are never completely ready for anything, ever. Never ever. A curveball can hit you square in the face at any given moment, so there is never a ‘right time’ to get things started. Particularly when you feel something in your gut, a stirring that could become something great; it takes courage to pounce on this and just do it.

The art of ‘just doing’ is, in my opinion, a skill that can be honed. Some people are born with it – a little to much of it, at that – and some people need that extra little push to get things moving. Either way, you can always improve on your ability to do rather than think.

There will always be a reason not to do something. For me, my main challenge is getting past the initial stages of a project. I know exactly how it feels to ‘click’ with something, that feeling of not wanting to stop no matter what comes your way. It’s a great feeling, but it doesn’t always come about. There are times when you need to find your groove. Or maybe there isn’t even a groove to begin with, and you have to carve one out with your own two hands. In ways the latter can be even more beneficial; you end up establishing a niche for yourself without even realising. A niche you would never have found if you hadn’t stepped up and done something.

If by some fluke you are reading this, do not be afraid to do. Go for it. Even if you fail spectacularly, you’ll live to tell the tale. I wish I could think of an ending to this post that was a little less cheesy, but a cheesy ending isn’t always a bad ending.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

(P.S. This post was not sponsored by Nike, I promise! But still. Just do it.)

hyperaware | productivity smells more grounded than achievement

Some may consider it neurotic to believe that the coaster facing the wrong way round on your kitchen table is having an impact on your thought process. At one level, maybe it is a little neurotic. Maybe you’d still rather have toast than cereal for breakfast. At another level, it is adding to the collection of thoughts circling your brain at this very moment in time, for better or for worse. Granted, a coaster isn’t going to radically change your world view, but let’s not be too literal about this. The point I’m getting at is that every thing, absolutely everything you see and do has an impact on your life, no matter how tiny that effect may be. The colour of your bedroom walls changes how you see the sun every morning, which changes how you wake up, which changes how your day begins. The misplaced coaster may bring you back to long-forgotten lost items, or times when you yourself were a little lost. Even the phrasing you use – lost, misplaced, wrong way around – can impact upon your mind in ways you wouldn’t normally consider.

Approaching our lives with this level of hyperawareness can be very useful. We become acutely aware of what lifts our mood, or what pulls it down.

We also gain the ability to construct an atmosphere that is conducive to a particular outcome. It can be as loose or rigid as it needs to be. For instance, I’m at my most productive when my jeans are tight and my hair is freshly washed. Perfume has to be pleasant ,but nothing fancy. If I smell ‘too nice’ I’m reminded of euphoria, the end result, something I mustn’t visualise until the work is done. Productivity smells more grounded than achievement.

If I want to feel creative, it’s ok for my hair to be a little greasy. Bare feet are a help rather than a hindrance, brightness is essential. I need to feel pleasant and at ease before I allow a rush of excitement to come through; the more relaxed I feel, the stronger the rush.

Sensitivity to one’s surroundings provides focus and, by default, allows for development in other areas. The capacity to conjure a feeling at will might just be what pushes you across the line. Or perhaps it simply gets you through your day. In any case, that upside down coaster could be doing a lot more than you think.