I like to live my life with no regrets, and I'm happy to say that up to this point in my life, I genuinely don't regret a single thing. Everything that has happened up to now had led me to this point, and I'm pretty happy with my lot in life. I've got a great job, amazing friends and family, a pretty special boyfriend and big plans for the future. I may have struggled along the way to getting to this point, and I may have had some tough times - but that makes me value what I have more than ever and I can't help but be grateful for that. Throughout my life I have always strived to be the best version of myself as much as possible, whether that means going out of my way to help people or working hard for my degree or job. I have to admit, putting my all into everything does mean I've turned into a bit of a perfectionist and my high standards have meant that I've been left disappointed by others over the years. But I've learnt to accept that I have no control over the actions of others, that I can only focus on my own actions because they are the only thing that is within my control. Trust me, that's not an easy thing for any perfectionist to deal with - I'm sure there are those who know and are nodding at the screen right now.
Regret is a funny word. It can be meaningless to a person, or it can be everything. With phrases like "carpe diem" and "live for the moment" tattooed on peoples' extremities, plastered across inspirational images posted on Instagram and engrained on our brains - it's no surprise that everyone says they live a life of no regrets. A conversation with a friend really got me thinking about this, whether I would do anything differently or whether I am actually really happy with the way things have turned out. I've always been very much of the viewpoint that things, to a extent, happen for a reason. I think if we don't feel a certain drive to act in a certain way, we can't really regret it, we can only learn from it. We can always wonder if things would have turned out differently, even though we know we can't change things. I guess my regrets come more in the form of things I would love to tell my younger self, glimpses into the future I would have liked to have shared and to have known at the time. You've got to admit if you could go back in time and warn about a nasty boyfriend or a bad haircut, you would definitely do it...
So what would I say to my younger self?
Advice to Lucy, age 5-10
Advice to Lucy, age 10-16
Advice to Lucy, age 16 to 18
Advice to Lucy, aged 18-21
Advice to Lucy, aged 22-present
After a request from a fellow blogger, I'm turning this post into a blogging tag! My first one, and I'm hoping you'll all enjoy writing this post as much as I have. I want to all to share the advice and things you would say to your former self - then nominate five bloggers to do the same. My nominations are:
Charlie Holly Jasmine Aftab Antoinette
What advice would you give to your younger self?
PS. Don't forget to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards travel and lifestyle categories!! Click here and here to cast your votes xx
This is a subject that comes up time and time again, and after receiving an email from friend a few weeks ago asking for some advice on how to get into journalism - I thought it might be about time I tackled this subject in a post. Everyone has a different opinion on whether qualifications or experience have the greater input into where you end up in life, and I know there are great examples for both sides - but I know so many students are left confused by which one they should be focusing on. When you're at university, you're constantly told you need to gain more experience but when you try to get some you are told you're not qualified for the role. It's an eternal battle and a vicious cycle - one that many students struggle to break. So which one should you be concentrating on?
I will always be a champion for the experience route, I may be an English Language and Communication and English Literature graduate, but I'll be honest when I say that my degree has not really had much influence over where I have ended up. I loved studying for my degree because I was passionate about both subjects, and I would always argue that if you are passionate about something it is worth studying. But it is easy to think a degree will get you where you want to be when in actual fact they really won't in many cases. While studying at university, I applied for work experience at national publication, More Magazine, where I spent two weeks working on the fashion desk, helping on photoshoots and so on... It wasn't for me, but it gave me my first piece of worthwhile experience to add to my CV. Work experience at my local newspaper turned out to be the most valuable - after five days I had the front page and had been asked to write a weekly column. I also worked full time for a month with them (paid) before returning to university and was given a job upon graduating. Since graduating, I have also started writing for a festival news and reviews site, of which I was made the editor. It has not only given me great experience, but it looks fantastic on my CV and will help me in the future. Despite not being a fully-qualified journalist, I have worked in two journalistic roles since graduating three-four years ago all because of the experience I have gained. I know other fully qualified journalists who have put a lot of time into becoming qualified, but have been stuck with unpaid writing work or copy writing roles instead of journalism.
Of course, not everyone is trying to be a journalist. But this is something that will work in most professions - I have friends who work in retail, in marketing and advertising, in engineering and several who have become teachers. All of them have had to gain experience in their chosen fields before they were able to progress in their careers - it has just come in different forms. For one engineer, he was given experience and training as part of the course to become qualified for his role. For the retail worker, she started as a shop assistant and gained experience while working on the job, which allowed her to work her way up and become qualified as an office manager. All of the teachers had to gain experience of working in schools, mostly unpaid, alongside their PGSE studies so that they could finish their qualification. And those in marketing and advertising found their experience vital to gaining employment in bigger and better companies upon graduating - completing a placement year or few months while studying was a necessity. Of course, all of them also needed qualifications in one form or another, but their experience played a much larger part in their overall career path.
In many fields, experience can be impossible to gain without having some kind of qualification beforehand. Journalism can be a tricky one, particularly if you are applying for work experience before studying for an NCTJ, because there is so much competition. I was lucky that I was given the opportunity to do work experience at the newspaper because I was the first in over five years to do so, and I wasn't even studying journalism! But I know of many student journalists who have struggled to get experience without already being enrolled on a journalism course. If you know that you want to study journalism, it is a good idea to just go for it and study for your NCTJ because some papers are unwilling to take on work experience students when they do not have skills like shorthand, or a knowledge of media law. Don't do a journalism degree! I can't stress this enough - I know so many journalists who have done a degree and then have had to pay to study for a NCTJ afterwards because they haven't fulfilled all of the criteria. If you want to study a degree as well, why not do like I did and study English or another humanities subject you have an interest in? Just bear in mind it is important, particularly if you want to work for a newspaper or news site, to be qualified. But also bear in mind, that there are lost of people out there who are working as journalists and freelance writers who are unqualified. It is not necessary to have a NCTJ, but it is a helpful addition to your CV and skills.
Don't feel like I am down on qualifications and how useful or important they are. I have always taken them very seriously, whether they were GCSE's or final exams at university, and I always think it is worth working towards having an official document saying you can do something - even if you have known you can do it for ages before. It is an achievement for yourself, and it also proves to the world that you can do something. Being officially qualified puts you ahead of the pack, if two people go for an office manager job and one has completed a managing course and the other hasn't - the employer will probably favour the one who has. When a potential employer is just looking at your CV, having an extra qualification on there can mean the difference between a new job and the dole. It can also mean a huge difference between the rate of pay - having an extra qualification can mean you are entitled to thousands more a year overall. It can also mean being paid significantly less than someone who is doing exactly the same job as you - soul destroying. I would always recommend trying to get a well-rounded CV packed with experience and qualifications - both will play a part in getting you where you want to be.
But which one is more important to you? For me it has to be experience - as much as I love and am proud of my degree, I have found my working experiences invaluable. My time spent working at the newspaper and the festivals site has changed what I want to do with my life and has given me the confidence, knowledge and skills to achieve that with or without the qualifications. I see them as an added bonus to my life, but not something that will hold me back or prevent me from achieving my career dreams. I know that it will be different for those working in different fields - but I would love to know about your experiences of different industries.
Do qualifications or experience mean more to you? Which has played a larger part in bringing you closer to your dream?
Being a journalist hasn't given some people the best reputation in the last couple of years, but that doesn't mean that journalism is a bad career choice. If anything, I say that journalism has opened countless doors for me and has given me some awesome opportunities over the last few years. There are lots of amazing things about the job - you get to work with people which is perfect for social butterflies like myself, you get the chance to hear amazing stories first-hand and have the privilege of sharing them with the world, the trust that your readers and those sharing their stories place in you. There are a lot of tougher sides of the job as well, like having to write a tribute to one of your former best friends after a horrible accident, but that is why I think it is important to enjoy the good parts.I know some don't agree with getting freebies through journalism, but this is one of my favourite parts of the job - the privilege and extras that come with it. Journalism opens you up to a world of opportunities that you would never have had otherwise, and that is something I love about it.I know a fair few journalists who never really take advantage of the extras in the job, which personally I think is a shame considering how low paid so many journalists are. I know some won't agree, but I tend to look at it as the tips a waitress would get. This is just a bonus to the job and, as a bit of a blagger, I don't mind asking - I always figure if you don't ask you don't get. Which is clear from how many amazing things I have been lucky enough to gain - I always ask the question. So what have been my best blags and the top experiences my job has given me?
Of course, we're not all in it for the freebies, we do it for the love of the job and a passion for reporting news. But, being a journalist is a stressful job with constant deadlines, you work hard and if opportunities come up I don't think we should be afraid to snap them up. Much like bloggers accepting gifts of review products. There's plenty more I haven't listed - so budding journalists, if anyone tells you that you are making a mistake with your career - why not ask them if their job gives them the chance to do all of these amazing things?
What's the best freebie you've ever had through work? Are you thinking about going into journalism?
Sometimes university isn't quite what you expected - perhaps you don't make the friends you thought you would, or your accommodation isn't the best. Or sometimes it all works out and you have the best university experience possible with great friends, a fantastic course and the best accommodation going. It can all turn out very differently depending on where you are, who you meet and how you do things - but one thing that can hit all of us at times is homesickness. Even the strongest, most independent individual can feel homesick at times and just want to catch the first train home to mum and their own bed. When Freshers Flu strikes, we all just want to curl up in a ball under the duvet and have our mum bring us chicken soup - so how do we deal with this when mum is hundreds of miles away?
Here's my top tips for combating homesickness while at university:
What helped ease your homesickness the most? Have you got any other top tips to share?
When it comes to university, I will never write anyone off. Even those who are the least academic people around can find a perfect course for them, perhaps with more practical work, and can find it a fantastic experience. The big question is whether it is in fact a truly valuable experience for the individual, and while I think the life experience you gain is immeasurable, often the money and time involved can mean the experience is worth somewhat less in the long run. For me, university was something I had been set on from a young age. Not because of my education, family or upbringing, but because I wanted to study, I loved to learn and I needed a degree in order to achieve my life goals. Plus I really wanted the experience, I wanted to get away from my town, I wanted to move out and look after myself, to gain independence. This was the perfect opportunity and I know that many who are currently looking, researching and making final choices will feel the same.
What I want to do is to make you aware that university is not a doddle, it is hard work for a minimum of three years of living away from home, working while studying and surviving on meagre loans and it can be lonely at times. But at the same time, you will meet the best friends, have the most bizarre experiences and finally have a chance to follow and indulge your true passions. So many people I know are preparing to sit their exams and are trying to make huge decisions about the next three years of their life and where they want to spend it. For me, I was lucky and this was easy - I walked on the campus and instantly fell in love with it. When I read about the courses and met the professors it only further cemented my decision and I am so glad I stuck with it despite my university asking for the lowest number of UCAS points out of each of my offers.
There is a lot to think about when making your decision and it is easy to be blinded by the thought of parties, living in a city, and studying with or following your friends. By writing this, I hope to give prospective university students into the slightly less exciting and fun sides of university just to try and balance out all the amazing fun you will be hearing about. Don't by any means take this as a negative view of university because it really was the best three years of my life so far and I would encourage anyone to take the opportunity, I just think it is important to make an informed decision. Here's what happens when things aren't all sunshine and roses at university:
Don't let this put you off - university is amazing. It is so much fun and really does help set you up for life if you make the most of it and grab every opportunity. Just be prepared and aware that it isn't sunshine and smiles 24/7, and that sometimes you might be homesick and lonely but that is okay. It isn't right for everyone, but it could also be the best thing you ever do, and it certainly whizzes by in no time at all. I have a friend who studied abroad for a year, left behind her university friends and made a whole load of new ones. She is now travelling the world and staying with all of her international friends along the way. If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will! Of course, I would never argue that university is the only option and I know that for many it isn't, but having the opportunity is amazing and making that decision over what is the right choice for you, is one of the biggest decisions of your life at 18.
What was your best university experience? Planning to go, what are you most worried about?