Tag Archives: university

Revenge is… Happiness?

The best form of revenge is to be happy. Truly. The burning rage people feel when they are hurt by someone, only hurts themselves. We torment ourselves, replaying the same thing over and over again, the hurtful words or actions that someone has caused us.
So I began to think, how can I turn this anger, this hurt, into something productive? People say that every cloud has a silver lining, and this is true.  So when you are upset, hurt or angry, instead of festering over it, hurting yourself, turn it into something that will make you happy.

I was in the library, studying for finals when I had an argument with my ex boyfriend. When the phone call ended, I couldn’t even concentrate on my work because I was so fixated on everything he said. I lost out on some valuable hours of education because of this boy, and so I began to use this to my advantage. Whenever I thought about him, and I couldn’t concentrate on my work, I began to clean my room. For some reason, whenever I have a clean room, I have a clean mind. And then I would organise my notes, printing helpful articles for my work, making schedules that would help me with my studies. And eventually, whenever I had a negative thought, I would automatically start working. one bad thought would make me do hours of work to help my education, instead of lying in bed chain-watching some Netflix programme. And so easily, instead of being angry over my ex boyfriend and focusing on every stupid argument, I used it to further my education, not wasting my time thinking over it.

Next, if I had an argument with someone, and I was focusing on what I didn’t say,  what I should’ve said, or if I didn’t do something, I would start exercising. And the pattern continued- instead of getting upset over petty arguments, I began to work out, doing press ups and sit ups, going for a jog. Not only would this clear my mind, and help me think straight, but soon I began to get healthier, and stronger. Just like that, I managed to turn all of my bad feelings, all the negativity, into something positive for me and my body.

Its not a tried and tested form of counselling, I know. And maybe it won’t work for everyone. But for me, it feels amazing that I can make something good out of every negative feeling, everything bad that happens. And the next time something bad happens, I won’t get too upset, or angry, because I know I can use it for my benefit, to be happier.

 

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Everyone is not as happy as they look.

Setting off to university in my parents car crammed with all of my stuff, I was excited to begin a new chapter of my life. I was finally going to be living with a group of people my own age, and I imagined it as some kind of 90’s chick flick, where we’d sit on the sofa eating popcorn and watching corny films, or cry over a tub of ice cream about boys, wearing face masks and having sing-alongs. And it wasn’t like that, it wasn’t like living with my best friends. While my first year was filled with a lot of fun, I didn’t get on with some of the girls in my flat. They all did the same subject, I didn’t. I had my boyfriend over a lot of the time, and I was working and concentrating on making friends on my course. And so, what begin as enthusiastic friendship turned into me feeling isolated and alone. Now, I had a lot of friends both at home and at uni, so it didn’t phase me that much, and it dawned on me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, the girls were just in a clique, didn’t have any friends themselves so stuck together like a boring pack of hyenas. I was naive, but eventually came to realise that life is not like a film. in fact, films glorify and romantisise everything about life, giving us false expectations of what life should be like.

And so, when Christmas came around, I was in the pub with some old friends, and I ended up telling one how I didn’t feel it was fair that everyone had great housemates and flatmates, while mine were shit. I told him how I’d go on facebook and instagram, and see all the cute photos – “house meal with the gang!” or “flat girls night out!” and get jealous. And then he told me that a) I was being dumb, and b) that everyone pretends to be happier than they actually are. He told me that people aren’t going to put on facebook when they’d argue or felt isolated with their flatmates, or when they felt ugly. They weren’t going to show instagram their breakdowns and tantrums, but instead, put happy photos on to make themselves feel better, even though it was a lie. Instagram pages, full of little photos just show the highlights of everyday life. They’d show pictures of the best parts of their life- and none of the bad. And this ‘best of’ feature means we obsess over other peoples couple pictures and feel crappy about our own relationships, see their ‘Squad goals’ pictures and doubt our own friendships. See their gorgeous selfies and feel baad about how we look when we don’t have makeup on or our hair done. It feeds into the competition of ‘whos-got-the-best-life’, a page where even though your life isn’t perfect- far from it- in a series of pictures, it appears to be.

And it’s true, we compare our lives with what we see on film, or on our friends social media, but we don’t know the whole story. As the phrase goes; you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And it made me feel better. Our whole lives, we are told and trained to search for the ‘elusive butterfly of happiness’- a term I’d recently discovered. I’d have moments where I didn’t really know how to be happy, or even if I could be. It seemed that the few shining moments of happiness I had were merged in a sea of feeling shit, upset, angry or just numb. So I almost take comfort in knowing that sometimes, especially on social media, people are not as happy as they seem. Now, I never feel bad about my own life from seeing other people online. I recently spoke to an old friend, at a different uni, and looked like she was having the time of her life, going out all the time, new friends, new boyfriend. It was only when I spoke to her on the phone she told me she was quite heavily depressed and miserable. There is a song called ‘Wear Sunscreen’ by Baz Luhrman that gives advice on life, and to be honest it is one of the most accurate things I have ever heard, and never fails to make me feel better. One bit that always sticks out to me is when he says “Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

We spend so much time comparing our lives to what we see from other peoples when it doesn’t matter, at all. At the end of the day, you are the protagonist of your life, and your life is controlled by you only- your decisions, mistakes, choices. It is your life that matters, not what you see of someone elses. You never know what that person truly feels or who they are from an instagram page, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because it has no relevance to your life. So, the main thing I try to keep in my mind now is to focus on how I, myself, can make my life happy, not to compare it to other peoples, and most importantly, understand that there are going to be rough times ahead, bad periods- maybe years even, when you’re not okay. But you’re not alone in this, something easily forgettable. Life is hard, for everyone, but you need to focus on yours, and making it as happy as it can be.

Anyway, late night ramblings over. Peace out. xoxo

REVIEW : LIMITLESS

Limitless is a film showing a struggling writer (the dynamic Bradley Cooper) who is the epitome of procrastination. His laziness and lethargic nature combined with a shabby, messy apartment and the looks of a crackhead in rehab remind me of University students on a Monday morning. I found Eddie’s character therefore extremely easy to connect to and empathise with- majority of us are, after all, inactive creatures with a tendency to shirk our duties. Eddie is on the verge of despair, his life spiralling out of control with his girlfriend dumping him and near to losing his job. The introduction of a new drug- NZT (the name itself sounds chemically snappy) from a vague old friend gives Eddie a chance to be someone else- the better version of himself. What I find particularly interesting is that the drug doesn’t change or alter much in your mind, rather organising it in a way so the information you receive your whole life, is accessible to you when you need it. An example is when in a fight, Eddie remembers clips from self defence and karate movies he had watched, using them to fight a couple of guys that had attacked him.

Things are now going great for Eddie. We see everything more vivid an colourful as the director enhances the audiences own vision so we experience this drug alongside the protagonist. Eddie gets a dashing haircut, a new suit, cleans his apartment, visibly getting his life together. He cleverly starts doubling his money and investing in stocks, using this drive to do something productive. The only problem is that for me, his original dreams of becoming a writer are not mentioned again- so does the drug change his personality? Or somewhere along the way did his aspirations change? Bradley Cooper interestingly enough plays another struggling author in a film called ‘The Words’ (On Netflix if anyone wan to check it out).

All good things must come to an end, however, as it was too good to be true- somehow I don’t think the directors intention was to suggest that drugs were brilliant and there were no negative effects whatsoever- and Eddie begins o gain enemies- one strange looking man who later turns out to be an absolutely terrifying, knife-wielding maniac. Another Eastern European drug dealer also has it out for Eddie and with the new events of the drug actually causing the addicted to get ill or dead, Eddie must manage to wean off the drugs and fight off the competition all at the same time. The film ends happily, obviously, with a few questions as to whether Eddie has managed to kick the drugs or the drugs hold over him, but overall I think the film is well worth a watch. It shows money, productivity and success as key motivators for all different types of humans and the highs and lows of how to get there. For drugs users, there are many scenes in which you can empathise and understand, all cleverly shown through the directors use of camerawork- manipulating the screen to make it move trippily, the vivid colours and the soundtrack that make an incredibly enjoyable film.

Which leaves me with the question- if you take the drug NTZ, you have the world at your fingertips. You could run for president. You could create a business. You could be an artist, write a book. What would you do?

POST-STRUCTURALISM + LIT THEORY

Currently studying English Literature at University, this weeks lecture was based on Post-structuralism. I couldn’t find much stuff online, so I thought I’d post this in case someone stumbles across it needing help on the subject or if anyone actually finds this interesting.

Theory is not the same as knowledge or expertise in a certain field, because theory is a speculation. Structuralism doesn’t have to be based on anything concrete, just based on something feasibly explainable. Many other types of Literary Theory spawned on from Post-Structuralism. New theory and criticism is developed as human society and culture continues to grow (e.g. – Lesbian criticism is now accepted. Academia wouldn’t have accepted it in the 60’s).

To decode post-structuralism we have to understand what structuralism is- Peter Barry compares structuralism to the ‘chicken and the egg’ in which Structuralists focus on the chicken rather than the close analysis of the egg that liberal humanists do. It is a belief that things cannot be understood in isolation but seen in the context of the larger structures- The bigger picture, as it were. Structuralism came about when revolution was in the air, socially, politically and intellectually. It’s linked very closely with Linguistics. Saussure’s a ‘History of Linguistics’ – claims how any word in any language, doesn’t actually have any relevance to the thing it describes.

Frederick Nietzsche states truths are illusions; we create language like we would fiction. Edith Kurtzwell in ‘The Age of Structuralism: From Lévi-Strauss to Foucault’- states that the structuralism that Levi-Strauss invented is dead, but has prepared the ground for the various ‘post-structuralisms’

Barry argues post-structuralism is a form of rebellion against it, and more of a cultural than intellectual movement, derived from philosophy rather than linguistics. Post-structuralism is conceptual, questioning the very notions of Truth.

Language systems are illogical, and Saussure’s ‘Course in General Linguistics’ states that word meanings are arbiturary. It regarded truth as an effect rather than present ‘in something’ and everything was defined in terms of everything else- Saussure’s theory of relation. That process itself was relative and constructed, maintaining while words have no central meaning, language is an essential tool of social power.

Texts are open to an unlimited variety of meaning, making us question the world itself as radically uncertain, for language does not reflect the world but shapes it. It raises questions such as if language is deceptive, then who is in control of this system?

Post-Structuralist thinking attaches a more rational and acceptance towards the words and story in a text, looking for a meaning that might seem on a different level than the author may have intended. They do this by referencing the text with the ideology of the time and culture that they are reading in that day- much like to the close reading we as English literature students do.

I personally believe that to truly understand a text we don’t need to know all the social and political context- you can gather your own meaning in relation to how our society and viewpoint stands today, despite the author’s  original intent.

Post-structuralism essentially creates the ‘death of the author’ by creating the ‘birth of the reader’– a concept devised by Barthes in which he argues that readers construct polysemas texts, having many authors and meanings. Barthes argues that we cannot rely on the author’s identity to serve as an explanation for the text, we cannot understand what the writers intentions were and that the author was not the prime source of the work’s semantic content.

In Peter Barry’s talk ‘The ends of theory’ he said to always start with the text rather than the theory itself. He stated structuralism actually takes the reader further away from the original text, into more abstract questions rather than giving us more illumination on the meaning of the text. Barry discusses how Roland Barthes essay ‘The death of the author’ (1968) “makes a declaration of radical textual independence” and is “free of all such restraints”.

Herein lies the debate and the clearest distinction between the two- does the context behind a text help discover, or hinder it? Do we need to see the bigger picture or to focus on the text in hand? It is not something to ever be decided- everything we’ve learnt so far is that there is no ‘truth’ or ‘fixed meaning’, since, as Barry sates, “there is no truth about these matters which exists outside language

REIGN REVIEW

After scouring Netflix for another show to watch, I stumbed across ‘Reign’. It looked quite like popular show ‘The Tudors’, something that I’ve always wanted to watch but never have. I loved period dramas and historical films, so I thought I’d give it a go. By the first episode, I was so in love with it that I knew I’d have to write about it. Firstly, the plot begins and ges straight into the action- a poisoning at the convent in which Mary, Queen of scots, is staying at for her protection. She then travels to France where she re-meets her betrothed, the handsome Francis, exchanging some eye-sex with him after seeing his also handsome brother, ‘Bash’- an illegitamet son of the king. The season shows the development of her romance with the two brothers as she is forced continuously to choose between duty and love. The themes of nationality, identity and royalty come across strongly in this brilliant series.

First of all, the cinematography of the show amazed me. The camera work is smooth and graceful, and the picture is perfect. We are graced with a kaleidoscope of colours from the Eden-esque settings of France and the incredibly detailed costume designs. The costumes are absolutely fantastic in this show- each dress had been carefully constructed with the character in mind, the dresses are stunning and elegant, accompanied with gorgeous accessories. My only complaint, however, is that some are so far out of the period-era that it’s quite shocking- normally, I would mind, however to see someone wearing a thigh high dress was crudely out of place. The prince also wears a knitted jumper at some point that looks like it came straight out of Primark.  The costumes fit perfectly with the youthful, beautiful cast that portray the characters in the series. Almost every single character in this is beautiful- Mary and her ladies, the king and queen have an older, more seasoned beauty to them, and their sons- Sebastian (Bash) and Francis, are gorgeous too. Makes me wonder if shows such as Reign, True Blood, Vampire diaries, lost etc would be half as popular with a standard- average looking cast?

Mary shows courage in her character, is pleasant and fairly strong- not breaking down into tears though I would like a bit of character development where she is perhaps vulnerable every now and then, to make her seem more human, though I love how strong her character is. She is polite, says the right things- except her flabberghasted mutterings to Francis  in the first episode which, to be fair, most woman can understand, we’ve all been faced with a dreamboat and have said equally confusing and embarrassing things.

Mostly historically accurate with some obvious exaggeration to make the plot fast moving and interesting, however, the winner for me was the soundtrack. With songs from the Lumineers, band of skulls, crystal fighters and other popular modern music, it gave an interesting twist on this show. The soundtrack is absolutely fabulous and gives an interesting juxtaposition with the historical events.

I’d highly recommend this show due to the interesting, fast moving plot that makes you want to keep watching, with interesting twists from ‘The Plague’ to a ‘whodunnit’ of sorts, along side the use of stunning costumes and location of the set and the characters if you like a historical or period series with a modern twist to make it watchable. Comparable to both ‘Merlin’ and ‘The Tudors’.

First Impressions

I’m pretty sure many people have heard the saying ‘first impressions count’. I was thinking about this statement today and I was wondering the truth in it.

Firstly, lets think about places. When you first enter a house, or a pub, you are overwhelmed by trying to take everything in. The first day I moved into my flat at university, I walked in with my parents. I noticed three doors, one of which was extremely heavy and used all of the strength in my toothpick like arms to open. I noticed one of my future flatmates unpacking all of her stuff and after introductions, I finally entered Room 8 of my flat. It was a small room, a blank canvas. There was a bright blue carpet and plain white walls and a pin board with nothing on it. Over time, I have hovered said carpet many times, I have pinned up pictures and maps and tickets on my pin board and decorated my room, making it personal. I have got used to the door after drunken nights out stumbling home, or outside smoking. I later realised, six months down the line, that the flat I lived in looked completely different to when I first saw it that day many months ago. Everything of course has remained the same, but instead of looking at it with inexperienced eyes of a fresher, excited to move in, I now see the place where I leave- the time I dropped my soup in the corridor, the time in the kitchen where I’ve done work. And I realised- my first impression of the flat had completely changed and adapted to what I am now used to.

The same goes for people. I have met people that I liked on first introductions, only to later find out that actually, that girl is a manipulative, backstabbing bitch, or that guy is an offensive pig. I’ve met people that for some reason, I’ve disliked, only to realise later on that they are actually very decent people, and I have become friends with them. Which brings me to another saying- don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

In life, you will meet a range of people- nice people, funny, horrible, bullying, kind, all sorts. But this takes time to find out what people are. You aren’t going to meet someone and they will introduce themselves saying “Hi, I’m Carly. I’m going to bitch about you all of the time and steal your boyfriend because your friendship means noting to me” and you aren’t going to hear the guy you don’t like saying “I’m really nice, and I’ll be here for you even thought you don’t like me” because it’s not what people do. First appearances are misleading. It takes time to know another human being. So, whenever you meet a new person, remember that you would not liked to be judged on the first few words that you say, but rather your actions over time. We’re so quick as humans to jump in straight away to conclusions but I plead, take your time. human beings and complex machines. you need to decode everyone in individual ways. And you never know, if you take the effort to truly understand and analyse someone, you can make a true friend for life.

Peace out guys.

The Walking Dead- Sexist or Ignorant?

With my uni work piling up next to me, I bravely tackled through with a stack of pizzas and energy drinks as I started to binge watch ‘The Walking Dead’. I absolutely love it- zombies man, cool. I haven’t been particularly invested in many programmes since Sherlock and Lost and finally, I have found one I adore. Although, I have to mention, I do have some slight problems with it. May contain spoilers guys. So Rick is our protagonist- a honest do-gooder with a family protect automatically taking the leadership role from experience as a cop. He is our hero. Introduction Shane, who acts as a surrogate hero for Rick, he also has led a group to survival. Although best friends, the two have many issues, including the fact Shane is banging Rick’s wife, Lori.
Now, as events transpire and Lori passes away, Rick begins to go a bit off the rails. He starts becoming absent and distant and it’s clear he can’t lead anyone. Thus, as of course a democracy wouldn’t work here, a leader needs to step up (Don’t get me started on this idea). Glenn is considered, as suddenly he has grow a moustache and got a girlfriend! But deep down, he’s still the little technological kid that we know and love and for one reason or another, can’t lead. Hershel is an old man, with a missing leg and acts as a Dumbledore/Gandalf figure (old man offering wisdom to young protagonist). Shanes dead now, so he can’t be a leader and Daryl has gone off so he can’t. Even Carl, the little boy of about 9/10?? is considered, but obviously he’s a little too young and growing a bit brutal! I watched with anticipation with each episode, before realising, is not any of these episodes is a woman considered for a leadership role. The women have some interesting traits between them- Carols transformation and motherly comforting contrasted with Michonne’s steely, fierce nature. Maggie’s gone from farmer girl to strong independent woman in just a couple of episodes! Andrea, is by far my favourite in the show. Growing stronger after the death of her sister, she decided to start learning how to use a gun and is pretty fucking badass with it. However, after she started dating the governor who is revealed to be the bad guy, she seems more annoying as she doesn’t pick a side and is clearly being blindsided by her ‘love’. However, she would make a pretty good leader. She’s kind, she knows how to talk to people and calm them down, she’s organised and has good ideas, is savvy and clever and strong. Anyway, before I go off on one, I just want to address why these woman are never considered for the leadership role for the group. Sure, they are confident, strong women but not once does any suggest that Maggie or Andrea lead. Now, I’m not saying that the Walking Dead are completely sexist and I’ll never watch the show again. But, I do hope that they will introduce a few headstrong, courageous woman. Examples include Kahlan from Legend of the Seeker, Kate from Lost, pretty much any cast member of Orange is the new black, Morgana from Merlin, Cersei and Dany (Kahleesi) from Game of thrones. If you guys have ideas on why this is, or what you think, feel free to comment below.