Sunday, 28 September 2014

On Quitting

Every now and then we're presented with challenges that we feel as though we can't handle. They overwhelm us as we try to deal with them and, whether we've chosen to take the task upon ourselves or have had it thrust upon us, we find ourselves tempted to throw everything to the ground and walk away.

Sometimes this is the right thing to do- especially if the task/ situation is proving hazardous to your health but occasionally quitting is the worst thing that we can do.

A few years ago, someone shared a poem with me that I want to share with you now.

Fate handed the quitter a bump, and he dropped;

The road seemed to rough to go, so he stopped.

He thought of his hurt, and there came to his mind

The easier path he was leaving behind.

"Oh, it's all much too hard," said the quitter right then;

"I'll stop where I am and not try again."


He sat by the road and he made up his tale

To tell when men asked why he happened to fail.

A thousand excuses flew up to his tongue,

And these on the thread of his story he strung,

But the truth of the matter he didn't admit;

He never once said, "I was afraid and quit."


Whenever the quitter sits down by the road

And drops from the struggle to lighten his load,

He can always recall to his own peace of mind

A string of excuses for falling behind;

But somehow or other he can't think of one

Good reason for battling and going right on.


Oh, when the bump comes and fate hands you a jar,

Don't baby yourself, boy wherever you are;

Don't pity yourself and talk over your woes;

Don't think up excuses for dodging the blows.

But stick to the battle and see things through.

And don't be a quitter, whatever you do.

I know it isn't always easy to carry on. I know that it isn't always possible to keep your head held high and smiling through the struggle. Yet if you want something, and I mean really really want something, sometimes you have to just fight for it and not give up.

At the end of the day no one can do this or you but you.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

20 Things I've Learnt In 20 Years

Yesterday, the 20th September, was my twentieth birthday. It really had me thinking of all the lessons I have had to go through along the way to reach the point I'm at now and so thought that I'd share them with you.
Image from Bing

1) No matter what you do, there will always be someone who disapproves or criticises and so you may as well do it anyway.

This may not always be easy, especially when it can feel as though you have people breathing down your neck telling you that you're wrong or that you should be doing something else but at the end of the day it needs to be your decision and your decision alone- after all, you're the one who has to live with it.

2) Just because you're a grown-up doesn't mean that you have to have all of the answers.

This is something that I really believed in as a kid. When I would mess up or say something silly, I used to take comfort in the belief that when I was 'all grown up' I'd know everything that I would need to know, I would always be sure of what I was meant to be doing and everything would be easy. Boy, was I wrong- if anything being 'grown-up' means that you are more likely to make more with the opportunities and decisions that you are presented with.

3) Life very rarely goes the way that you expect it to.

It sounds like an awful cliché so please forgive me for this one but it is so very true. We change our minds, the paths that we thought we were on take a drastic turn in the road or we discover something new. More often then not we end up in a place in our lives that we never imagined.

4) Friends may come and go out of your life but the ones that are true will stay.

During our time various people come in and out of our lives with some staying longer than others. While we may gain and lose these people it is important to savour the good times we have with them and to always appreciate the friends that stay with us and put up with our idiosyncrasies.

5) Some of the best moments in life are the ones that you don't plan for.

They usually catch us unaware- it might be a case of finding a hidden treasure in the middle of the countryside or having a fantastic time when you were expecting to have an awful one.

6) Life is incredibly short.

This is a lesson that I learnt last year. It's something that we often take for granted when we're growing up and it isn't until we get older and life begins to pass us by that we realise how easily time can slip through our fingers.

7) Some of the best opportunities you have will come completely out of the blue.

These tend to be the things that we did on a whim or something that we may have mentioned to someone and forgotten completely about. An example of this was when I sent in a random piece of flash fiction to Shout Out UK and they got in touch with me to let me know that they liked it. I'd done it as a passing thought but it opened up a whole new experience.

8) Dreams are just dreams, it is when you act on them that they become a reality.

You can dream of being a rock star, or a supermodel or even an astronaut but if you don't tae any steps towards achieving that vision the fantasy will stay exactly that: a fantasy.

9) You will make mistakes or screw up...

This will happen and chances are that there will be times where it will be big and ugly, occasionally this will happen publically and in front of an audience...

10) But you will learn from them (at least if you have any sense)

You will be better prepared for that test. That big performance? Under control. The thing is when you do mess up you want to do everything in your power to avoid making that mistake again and so go that extra length to learn from it.

11) There's nothing as funny as folk!

People can surprise you (both in a good or a bad way) and, while you may never get the chance to speak to everyone in the world, when you do get the chance to speak to that person who passes you on the street or who's stood next to you at the bus stop, they may just turn out to be one of the most interesting people that you ever meet.

12) Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Have you ever been in that situation where everyone is laughing and there is that one person with that really loud, really unique laugh that makes you crack up more? There is no feeling in the world quite like that one and it is moments like that where you can truly savour the moment.

13) No one is perfect, no matter how much you may think they are

Yeah, you know that person who you think has everything they ever wanted and have a brilliant, easy life? Chances are that they don't. In fact, it's more likely they have the same kinds of insecurities that you have and that they are struggling with their own problems... something which we all need to remember when the green eyed monster comes along...

14) You are the only one that can hurt you.

Wait, what? That can't be true, can it? The truth is, when someone says something to you and it hurts you, it is because you are taking that comment personally- you are allowing yourself to take it to heart and giving those who are trying to do damage to you permission to hurt you.

15) There isn't always an answer to problems.

Sometimes you have to go out and find your own solutions, people won't always hand the answer.

16) The only limitations in life are the ones you set yourself.

If you want something badly enough and work hard for it, you will get there eventually.

17) Self-respect is invaluable and is something to take pride in.

Enough said. Words cannot express how important it is to respect yourself because if you don't respect yourself and demand that other people appreciate your boundaries, who's going to give you the respect you deserve?

18) Make sure that the people in your life know that they are loved.

The hard truth is that you don't know how long they will are going to be there so make sure to let them know how much they mean to you while you can.

19) Change is inevitable.

While some people are better at dealing with change than others, it is inevitable and although we may struggle we do eventually adapt- no matter how much we may think we can't.

20) Keep your eyes open and taking everything in.

Life is full of wonderful things, don't ever stop observing it and savouring every moment.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

How To Take The Right Advice

Image from Google
We've all had a time in our lives where we've been in a hard situation and have had to turn to others for support and guidance. This can be in a variety of ways (most noticeably a good hug or talk) but more often than not, it comes in the form of advice. The tricky part is knowing what advice to take.

So how do we know what advice is right to follow? It's not easy but there are a few tips that may help.

1) Follow your gut feeling!
I don't have enough words to express how much I believe in this. Before you do anything, before you go and ask anyone for advice, listen to your gut feeling. More often than not it will be the right call and gives you a clear idea of what to do before messy emotions or feelings cloud up the issue.

2) Only ask for advice from a handful of people- if that!
If you ask too many people all you will manage to achieve is more stress and confusion. You will be filled with so much conflicting advice you'll struggle to deal with the situation at all!

3) Think carefully if the people you are asking may have an ulterior motive.
I know, it sounds very suspicious and paranoid but it's something that needs to be considered. An example of this was when I was in sixth form and unsure of whether I should go to university. I asked a few teachers for help at the time but came across problems when some I had approached wouldn't give me constructive advice due to pressure from their 'higher ups' to get as many students as possible to go to uni to boost numbers.

4) Remember that sometimes the advice that we don't like can be the best advice for us.
Sometimes when we ask for advice it's because we want someone to reassure us that we should do something that we may wish to do. Yet, sometimes- only sometimes, that piece of advice (which we know makes sense but don't want to accept) is the one that we should be listening to. How do you know it's right? Listen to your gut.

5) Finally, imagine that you are giving advice to a friend who was in your situation.
Imagine that your friend was explaining to you the problem they were having and why they were struggling to solve it. What would you say to them? You may just solve your problem!

 I hope this helps the next time that you're struggling to find a solution. What's the best piece of advice you've given? How do you solve problems? Let me know!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Power of the Word "Can't"

When I did drama in school there was one clear rule we were given by the teacher. 'The word 'can't' was banned. That and its friend 'cannot' were not to make an appearance or else you were in for it.'

Naturally as eleven year olds we complained about it, every lesson you could guarantee that at least one person would try and find a way around it, yet no matter how much we grumbled he stuck with it- 'can't' didn't exist in his classroom.

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right."                -Henry Ford

The funny thing with the word 'can't' I that we use it so often that we've stopped appreciating what it really means. By saying that you cannot do something you are saying that you either physically, mentally or emotionally are unable of completing it.

So say, for example, the sentence: 'I can't read or write Latin.' is accurate as I am unable to physically or mentally do this but here's the kicker...

I can if I wish to.

If I wanted to learn Latin I could take the time to do so and be able to say, 'I can read or write Latin.'
The truth is that the majority of the time we do have the ability to do these things yet we feel as though we are unable to. Very few things are impossible yet we seem to think they are.

So next time you go to tell someone that you can't do something take a moment and think.

Is it really impossible for you to do or do you just think it is?

Still sure that you can't do it?