Besides, I'm making stronger efforts to be 'kinder' to myself this year which, so far, hasn't proved to be the easiest of tasks, yet I still think it is worth trying instead of simply 'giving up'. Well, I suppose I'm rather obstinate by not being the sort who willingly gives up on something; even when the going gets tough (or, in other words, deadlines begin to loom in the not-so-far distance!), I'll still put in as much dedication as I can instead of running away from it like a vampire flees the sight of the sun!
Nonetheless, recent events in my life (which I'm not really in the mood to write about, although I can assure you that they aren't life-threatening or anything really detrimental!) have taught me that knowing when to walk away from something is a sign of personal strength and self-respect, too. In fact, I've realised that making generalisations is definitely not the right thing to do for literally everything in life; until you've experienced something, I don't feel that anyone has the right to declare whether that action/gesture is the 'suitable' or 'wrong' response.
If I've gained any precious life lessons from this week alone, it is to put myself first, no matter what! On the surface, such words seem quite egocentric which, as a person who regards herself as modest and certainly not attention-seeking (as if you'll find any revealing or scandalous pictures of myself on social media!), I would be horrified to suggest, but bear with me! What I'm trying to suggest is that there is absolutely nothing shameful about putting your needs above those of others, such as an employer. For example, I've spent literally months hunting for a part-time job that I could fit in alongside my studies, which I initially assumed would be achievable given that numerous people in my classes have weekend jobs. However, nothing would have prepared me for the sheer difficulty that I would experience in my quest for a job that, ideally, would only take up around five hours of my free time at the weekend - it has literally been impossible!
For various reasons that companies cannot explain due to being 'inundated with applications', I've been rejected from countless roles or otherwise ignored. To say that this experience has impacted on my confidence is the understatement of the year - I've genuinely felt useless when comparing myself to my peers, the majority of whom are employed and earn enough money to fund the likes of driving lessons, which I would love nothing more than to sign up for yet have had to postpone for the time being. And, even today, I still ask myself why I haven't enjoyed much success in finding a job... is it my age? As an 18 year old, I'm entitled to a minimum of £5.60 per hour, which is considerably higher to the legal minimum of £4.05 for a 16/17 year old. You don't even have to be fluent in the language and theories of Marxism to realise that companies, who competitively fight against each other in a capitalist society, seek to make the greatest profits possible - and spending more money paying older staff is going to impact on their profits! Additionally, I can't exactly be 'flexible' with my hours because of being a full-time student, which doesn't exactly go in my favour either!
Consequently, I've decided to no longer get a job - or at least a permanent one - because the prospect of filling in yet more online applications whilst juggling my A-levels and trying to fit in some fun time for myself is far from appealing. Instead of envying my peers, my heart goes out for some of them who work for impolite bosses who place them under tremendous amounts of pressure. Some people have even been told that they won't be given time off work when they sit their A-level exams next summer, which shows how caring these companies are about their younger employees (not at all)! In life, it is an overwhelming challenge to 'have it all' and, as much as I'd like to have a job so I can save some money for university, I've come to the conclusion that it is a prospect as unlikely as becoming the next pop star to rival Lady Gaga! Hopefully I'll still be eligible for a 6th form bursary which would be a massive help, yet I'd rather invest in myself by achieving the grades I want, which will have a far bigger impact on my life than whether or not I worked several hours a week when I was 18!
Thus, this is precisely what I mean about 'putting myself first', which isn't at all selfish but is instead a symbol of self-respect. Sometimes, one has to be faced with problems in order to put things into perspective, so perhaps my job-hunting difficulties are a blessing in disguise!
On a somewhat more positive topic, my main focus of late has been university applications, which I think I have just sorted out! After several alterations with my original application, I've now decided that my 5 university choices (you can only select a maximum of 5, which was quite stressful because I'm both very fastidious and useless at making decisions!) are:
- University of Nottingham
- University of Birmingham
- University of Sheffield
- University of Warwick
- University of Leeds
Several weeks ago, my Head of 6th Form asked me whether I would consider listing the Universities of Cambridge/Oxford as one of my university choices. For starters, I was completely taken aback by this suggestion - never in my life had I ever contemplated attending either of these universities because, like many people, I assumed that you had to get straight A*s at GCSE (which I certainly didn't!) in order to even be considered! However, after much contemplation, I decided against applying to Oxbridge because of these following factors:
- I don't really want to apply to a university on the grounds that it is generally viewed as 'prestigious'. Of course, I've aimed to select universities which are well-respected as my choices, but I also want to consider other factors other than prestige, e.g. the location, the kind of people I may be surrounded with.
- Given that so many Oxbridge applicants prepare ahead of sitting their entrance exams, I wouldn't stand a chance because I haven't even practised for it. Besides, do I truly want to undergo the stress of preparing for an exam which might not even guarantee an interview? Not really, although I wish any Oxbridge hopefuls the best of luck for their entrance exams!
- Following some research, the idea of having shorter, yet much busier terms at Oxford/Cambridge doesn't really appeal to me. As important as studying is at university, I relish the prospect of immersing myself into extra-curricular activities and maybe even juggling a part-time job (if my luck improves in the future!). Fantasising about going to the 'best' universities in the world may be a pleasant way of killing some spare time right now, but I probably wouldn't be smiling so much if I were to receive tons of work on top of making new friends/getting used to a new environment this time next year.