2012: A Reflection

It’s been a million years since I posted on this blog, and what started out as a ‘don’t worry, life still goes on after a 2:2’ morphed into a blog about my travels over the summer, and I haven’t really added to it since. I guess it’s been pretty non-stop since September and I’ve had a lot of ‘projects’ so to speak, so it’s nice to finally sit down and get back to doing what I like best: writing.

Craig’s upstairs asleep as he was up till half four this morning watching the Seahawks kick some poor other NFL team’s arse, so I thought that while I had the peace and quiet, I’d reflect on the year, which seems to have flown by as it’s Christmas Eve already. All in all I think it’s been a more or less positive year; there have been a whole plethora of high moments, and some low ones too, but overall, 2012 has been a year for change, a transition period, if you will, for me and everyone in my closest circles. The best way to break it down, then, would be simply to summarise the key events from each month (and try not to rely too much on Facebook to jog my memory.)

January

2012 kicked off on a bit of a shaky note; for reasons I don’t wish to divulge on the internet I wasn’t having the best time with Craig, but I’m grateful for it because I managed to learn from my mistakes and move on with a much more positive outlook. In brighter news, I went from hardly shifting any weight for my sister’s up and coming wedding in April to suddenly losing 9lbs in what felt about a week. I blame coming off the pill, but I suspect it was a combination of dieting, heavy gym-going and stress. Still, I was growing to love my new body and took to showing it off with my sister toward the end of the month, for her birthday night out at the Sugar Hut in Essex. This was the first (and last) time I’d ever tried fake tan, and I’m ashamed to say I quite liked the look at the time.

February

The thing that most sticks out in the mind for me about February was my sister’s hen night. Caroline was due to marry in April and her good friend and maid of honour Lauren had secretly planned for us and fifteen or so friends to stay at a cottage in Brighton. Amy and I were tasked with driving her to the unknown location, but, stubborn as she is, she refused to wear a blindfold. True to sod’s law all manner of things cocked up on the way down – Amy and I both played a part in accidentally revealing that there would in fact be a stripper present, plus we had to find a printing shop in Brighton that would allow me to print a picture of a massive cock to play our elaborate version of pin the tail on the donkey. Nevertheless everything worked out and Caroline had the time of her life – we all howled our heads off as my mother was literally molested by a Fairy Liquid-doused stripper, and the next evening we all dressed up to a ‘C’ theme and hit the town, with myself starring as Cheryl Cole and Caroline as a cheerleader. I remember posing for pictures with a man dressed as Jimmy Saville that evening; if I had known what would come of him later on in the year, I might not have been so keen. I returned to York though absolutely buzzing and just in time for my three year anniversary with Craig.

On the career side of things, I began working for ‘Mactriv’ this month, in which I was paid to write quiz questions for a trivia website. The work soon fizzled out after about a month or so but it was paid and it remains on my CV, and I was glad to be working in a role which involved my true passion, writing.

March

The wedding was nearing ever closer and my weight loss had peaked; if anything I’d probably started to gain it after losing a bit of interest in the diet, but my need to exercise still prevailed. So much so, in fact, that when Craig and I went to Portugal over the Easter Holidays, I took the time each day to visit the gym with his uncle, who lives in a beautiful house near Lisbon. Portugal was simply gorgeous and it was great finally getting to meet the elusive Uncle Bob, and I had a great time getting drunk with Craig’s nan and parents, mouthing off about our contrasting opinions of Madonna and babbling in Spanish to Bob’s Portuguese boyfriend, Fernando. March was the month of Craig’s birthday so I gave him his presents before we left for Portugal, and we all went out to celebrate on the 26th. We got back to England in April with a slight tan, ready for the wedding of the century.

April

Of course, the event of the season and indeed the focus of my very life at this point was Caroline’s wedding; everything was prepared for the big day and the whole thing went without a hitch. The ceremony was absolutely beautiful and Caz really did look amazing – I’m not usually one to wear my heart on my sleeve but I did well up a bit when my dad first looked at her in her dress. It was also lovely to finally meet Germán’s family; they were just as sweet as him and I couldn’t be happier for Caroline to be a Guerrero.

Family occasions seemed to be the flavour of the month for April – the day after the wedding, though she’d intended to keep it secret for a while longer, Amy revealed to me and my equally stunned brothers that she was in fact ten weeks pregnant. I honestly didn’t believe her until she showed me a picture of the positive pregnancy test, at which point I burst into tears and got so emotional I could have been accused of being with child myself.

Later on in April I found myself applying for my first journalism job – I’d really been looking to getting my life plan back on track this year, and I knew that I didn’t really want to carry on with Spanish, whereas journalism was something I truly wanted to pursue. I went for a job interview at a local magazine in York and was overwhelmed by how welcoming they were. Things would have been tough had I started the job in April, due to my degree coming to an end very soon, but I was willing to compromise.

May

Unfortunately by May I found out the outcome of the job interview. I’d lost out to somebody with eight years on me and experience in PR. There were no hard feelings however, and had I known then that I would go on to do work experience and eventually paid freelance work with them I wouldn’t have been so upset at the time. Still, looking positively, I have now just finished working for them and will be returning in January, so it’s good to still be in touch and I really enjoy working there.

Other than the job front, May was generally an exams-focused month; I had a huge essay to complete on Franco plus an oral exam. The oral exam went fine, or at least, I got a 2:1 in it, whereas everybody seemed to suffer on the essay. In hindsight however I really do think I spent too much time at my job and not enough time on the laptop, but you live and learn. I think it was around May 27th that my classes officially finished at university; I didn’t see it as an emotional end of an era however, but more so as the start of something new. May was also a month for really getting into my stride with The Yorker, the student media website I wrote for, and I’d begun to establish a very comfortable circle of friends, using my role as Social Secretary to start organising the annual awards ceremony.

June

June was a real turning point in life for me I think, and I accomplished a lot this month. I spent the beginning of it fretting over my impending 2:2, worrying that I wouldn’t get ahead in life with a less-than-2:1 qualification. I did eventually get a 2:2 however, but it’s probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me, because it flipped a ‘fuck-it’ switch in me and I decided to go for it with my boyfriend – we were finally going to drive across America like we’d always talked about.

A lot happened before I got my final degree score however. I organised the Yorker Awards, a real personal achievement for me, as I managed to book a venue and organise music, dinner and awards for 30+ people all to a reasonable budget. It was modest but everybody commented on how well it turned out and it gave me a really warm and fuzzy feeling. I also did a week working for the local magazine, and got to know everyone there a bit better. I really felt I fit in there and I hope that’s part of the reason they invited me back in November. It was all great stuff for the CV however so I’m very glad for all of my experiences in June as they’ve put me in good stead for the future.

July

July was the beginning of an entirely different experience for me. The first three weeks were spent toiling away at my job at the museum, where I had only just been getting over the horror that was the ‘Railfest’ half-term the month before. Nevertheless I made a bit of money for our six-week trip to America, and said goodbye to my lovely student house in York, before a brief stint living on my friend’s couch, all in prep for the mission across the States.

July 26th came round quicker than ever and suddenly I found myself in the departure lounge at Heathrow. For the second time this year and indeed ever, my mum met Craig’s parents again, as both our parents had met for the first time on July 11th for my graduation. Graduation seems so long ago now and it really was over so quickly, but I think that’s because Craig and I were focused on other things. Thus, the last week of July was spent in New York, and I did a lot, from watching Broadway shows to sailing round the Statue of Liberty and everything in between – but there were still so many other things that America had to offer.

August

August was a month I’ll never forget. The previous entries in this blog describe America in more detail, but I saw everything – the Rockies in Colorado, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park, Alcatraz, San Francisco and Hollywood. If I could pick a highlight of the trip it would probably be Las Vegas – but that was only for the decadence of it all. I also saw so much stunning natural beauty in America that words cannot even describe.

On the career front, I began writing for a website called Weekend Notes, which paid writers to review things worldwide, with payment being awarded on a pay-per-click basis. I began to write slowly at first, but as I began to learn more about how the website worke, I developed my writing style and broadened the subject matter, and now it’s a nice way to earn a few extra pounds.

Craig and I watched the London Olympics start and finish from the comfort of the United States. When the Olympics 2012 venue was first announced I had no idea I would be out of the country, let alone driving across America, but I guess you never can really plan things like this trip.

September

The first week of September was spent in Los Angeles, as our trip in America began to draw to a close. Six wonderful weeks were rounded off by Disneyland and a tour of Universal Studios, with a lot of visits to the Cheesecake Factory in between. I was sure I’d gained about a stone in America, but to my delight it was only 3 or 4 lb.

When I got back to England everything felt a bit weird at first – suddenly I wasn’t expected to tip for every tiny little service I received, and I was looking at pound coins again, driving on the left and eating Marmite and Cadburys chocolate. In some ways though it felt like I’d never left; before long I was back at my old job at the museum, comfortably residing back at my friend Jonny’s. Again, I was back to make money, but this time, my focus would be on getting a job. I took a course on ‘how to get that journalism job’ at the end of the month, and during the course had to fight off phone calls about a job in a call centre, but more on that disaster later. October soon reared its dark head and after six weeks of relaxing, I was truly no longer a student, throwing myself back into the world of work.

October

October would probably be what I would call my ‘employment month.’ I’d begun signing up to all manner of employment websites, and was being royally screwed left right and centre by recruitment companies. At the beginning of the month I was on my way to a promising job interview in Harrogate, only to receive a call after having purchased my tickets to tell me that the job had gone. Disheartened, I went back to work as normal, only to receive a call from a publishing company I’d applied to in July and assumed I hadn’t got.

Before I knew it I was going for a job interview in London. I didn’t have a house in York yet so I figured why not, and I asked Craig to take me there so that I could be truly prepared. The interview turned out to be not what I expected; I was told that they could only offer me work experience, so I left, once again, feeling disheartened.

Later on that week I went for a ‘recruitment day’ at a call centre which had been plaguing me to apply. I still wasn’t really sure what I was applying for, so I put on my best interview head and went for it anyway. I found out a few days later that I’d got the job, and by the end of the month, I was in training for taking calls about mobile phone insurance. I figured I was in no position to turn down any job with the little amount of money I had, and so I began to reduce my hours at the museum. Meanwhile Craig had an interview mid-October, and ideally, if he had got the job too, the plan was to move in together.

November

November came and Craig finally found out about the job. He’d got it. Hence we were in the proceedings of moving in together. It all happened so fast; at the beginning of the week we were looking around a house, by the end of it we were moving in, but not without having to jump through a few hoops in the process. My new job and Craig’s current technically-unemployed status meant we had to give six months of rent up in advance, something which thankfully, his parents were able to cover. We’re now paying rent to them instead but it would have been nice to just pass the reference tests in the first place.

Career-wise, I knew my heart wasn’t in my new job. Every day in training I sat there berating myself in my head that I wasn’t applying for jobs that I really wanted to do – I felt like, career-wise, I was taking a step sideways, not forwards. After maintaining contact with the publishers in London, I’d managed to secure a week of work experience with them for early December, and I decided enough was enough with my current company. After they’d made the press for all the wrong reasons, I tearfully went back to the museum and asked if they would have me back, while I resigned from the other job over the bad press and the poor career move. I decided that, though the money was worse, I would have the freedom and time to pursue my career in journalism if I stayed at the museum. I’d gratefully received a large sum of money from my grandparents and wanted to put my all into finding my dream job. I regret leaving for the people I’d met, but other than that, I truly believe it was an excellent career move, as it freed me up for more opportunities in December.

December

The final month of the year was definitely one for career progress. A month previously I had, in my spare time, signed up to the Yahoo! Contributor network and I was now a published writer on one of the world’s most renowned news websites and search engines. This was all very exciting, as was an opportunity that arose out of the blue one day while I had taken some time off to visit my father in Lancashire. I received a phone call from the local magazine once more asking me to come and do some paid freelance work. Unfortunately, it clashed with my work experience in London and indeed any shifts at the museum, but I had a choice: unpaid work in London, paid work in York in a job I already had, or paid work in York at a potentially new job in which I wanted to have a career. The answer was simple. I pushed the work experience back a week and spent another week working for the magazine, which worked out wonderfully from a financial standpoint as I spent the evenings working a whole host of Christmas dinners. I was absolutely cream-crackered, but it was so worth it, as I now have another magazine to add to my portfolio, and will be working for them once again in January.

Regarding London, I spent a week staying with my grandmother and braving TFL to work for the publishers with whom I’d been in contact in October. This time round I got to test my interviewing skills, phoning up all manner of local celebrities and having a chat about their up and coming projects. It was all very new for me and I’m truly grateful for the experience, but I think now that my place is in York. Had I been offered a job straight away in October, my position probably would have meant that I might have gone for it, but now, with my house paid for in York and my connections with the local magazine, I think I would be happiest to stay.

Other irons in the fire that came from this month are a couple of days of work experience at the local paper in York in January. I’m really looking forward to it and seeing how I fit in in a newspaper atmosphere. I also had an online test for a job in Leeds which I’m waiting to hear back from. I’m hoping however, as the test took place on December 7th, that things are just a little slow over the festive season. December has been a very career-changing month for me however, with November being an awkward slump between the progress of October and December. I truly think things are on the up for me in January on the career front, and I’m going to put my all into finding that perfect writing job.

In summary then, I have achieved a lot this year. I’ve done a reading at a wedding, organised an awards ceremony, got a degree, travelled a continent, become an auntie and had my writing published in one student newspaper, two magazines and at least four different websites. 2012 has been, for me, a year for moving forward. I’ve hugely improved my CV  and am really looking to building my skills in 2013 to go even further.

I’ve learned a lot this year, not just about my career, but myself as a person and my close personal relationships with those around me. I’ve gained a lot of new friends and a lot of new perspective, and I hope that I can apply everything I’ve learned in 2012 to my new experiences in 2013. My New Year’s Resolution is to get a full time job in writing, and everything in between – truly, I want to begin rewriting a novel I’d got about halfway through when I was 17. As I said as the beginning of the post, 2012 has been a year for transitioning – I began it as a 21 year old, inexperienced undergraduate student. I am now a soon-to-be 23 year old graduate, with a wealth of experiences to share. I am now a grown up.

I guess a lot can happen in a year.

 

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