Stuck In A Rut

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So today’s blog is going to be a bit of a moan on my part. Usually I don’t like to write about my personal life but I know a lot of people are in a similar position, so I thought somewhere out there, someone might like to know that they aren’t the only one who feels like they are going nowhere. It is ok to feel down about it, just because you aren’t in a life or death situation doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel sad.  So without further ado, here is my moan about life.

So over the past year or so I have been feeling a bit unhappy. I don’t think I would go as far as to say I was suffering from depression, but it’s still not a nice feeling and it often gets me down. If I was to pinpoint when it started I would probably say a few months after I finished college. Like a lot of us out there I found getting a job next to impossible. The country is in a bad place at the moment and unfortunately that means post-graduate grants have been taken away or reduced severely, and jobs are hard to come by. My friends will tell you that I’m a very organised person, I plan everything to the smallest detail and if something goes wrong, well I wont be a happy lass. The same goes for my life. I was one of those rare secondary school students that actually knew what she wanted to do. My plan was very simple: Get into NUIG, Study English and Classics, Get a 2:1 Degree, Get into the teaching HDip, Qualify as a secondary school teacher, Get a teaching job. That was my plan and for a long time everything was going fine. Then the good old recession hit. Not only did they take away the post-graduate grants, (without which I couldn’t even fathom continuing 3rd Level education) but teachers were being let go left and right. Suddenly my life plan was a pile of ashes.

How did this make me feel? Well at first I was angry. I had worked hard to get into university. I had taken a job as a waitress at sixteen just so I could pay for extra expenses like levy fees and books myself. I hadn’t taken a single penny from any of my family for university, I had worked, gotten good grades and now my degree was no better than a piece of toilet paper. I felt so cheated and furious that my hard work had been for nothing. However I knew that being angry wouldn’t fix anything, I had to make a new plan with what I had and so, like so many others, I joined the dole que.

Now people on the dole get a lot of bad press. People seem to assume that we enjoy queuing up in front of the world for the free money that the tax payers are give us. Well let me tell you, the majority of us despise it. Queuing up for the dole every month is absolutely humiliating, sometimes it hardly seems worth it for the amount of money we get. For over a year I couldn’t find work. I had to que up every month outside the dole office hoping that no one I knew could see me. I had to live off E100 a week, barley leaving me with enough money for food when rent and bills were taken away, all the while my degree was gathering dust. I sent out CV’s to every job I felt I could do, went to the countless seminars that the government thought could help me, but nothing was happening. I was living life without a plan, without any real kind of security and I hated every second of it.

Then last Summer I decided I had had enough. Sitting at home being ashamed of myself wasn’t getting me anywhere. I had to find something I could focus on that could make me feel like I had some self-worth. I signed up for a creative writing class in September last year. Luckily, at the same time I was head hunted for a sales job with a printing company. Though I didn’t see myself as a sales woman, a job was a job and so I rushed to take it. Suddenly my life had meaning again, it wasn’t what I had wanted but it was something. My boyfriend and I also decided that we wanted to move in together so we started looking for places to live. Everything was on the up and I noticed myself start to become happy again.

However it didn’t last very long. The creative writing class gave me a new-found confidence in my writing but it ended in December. I vowed to keep up my writing, hence I started this blog. The job started to get to me though. I loved the administration side of the job but the telesales was just not for me. I was nervous at the thought of “cold calling” from the beginning, and now, five months on it hasn’t gotten any better. The pressure of a sales job is just too much but at the same time, letting a job go no matter how unhappy I am at it, seems wrong to me. I fought with the thought of leaving for a long time, trying to see if I could get used to the sales aspect, thinking that maybe I just needed time. Unfortunately no progress has been made. Finding an apartment has also been a hectic and disappointing time, though I’m still holding out hope for that one.

So I’m back to feeling lost and stuck again, like I have no hope of ever doing something that I truly enjoy. Living life without a plan for someone like me is terrifying, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. I still want to be a teacher but right now there is just no point in trying. Even if I was able to get the degree, the chance of getting a job are slim. People have suggested that I go abroad, maybe to Scotland to try to get my degree there and then find a job. Though that may be a good idea it would mean leaving behind the one part of my life that has consistently brought me joy, the one thing I could never leave, my boyfriend. He has been there for me through all of this and I don’t think I could live without him. He has been a constant support to me and has a four-year PhD in NUIG, so I wouldn’t dream of going without him. I also have a lot of good friends in Galway and since I have only recently started to improve my friendships with people, I think packing up and leaving would make me feel more lost and alone than ever.

So where do I go from here? I wish I knew. All I can really do is keep trying. Keeping looking for that apartment, keep looking for a job that makes me happy, and maybe one day if I’m lucky, I might get to go back to university and become a teacher. Right now I’m just trying to live each day at a time and enjoy the few things I have in my life that keep me going. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend, my brother, my friends and my family, I really don’t know where I would be. The simple joys that they give me are what inspire me to keep trying at life no matter how hard it keeps knocking me down. Being around people you care about can be hard when you are unhappy with yourself, but I am trying to push past that and focus on the good being with others can bring. I am stuck in a rut but I will continue to keep clawing out of it until it kills me.

-Vifa

The Blame Game

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*The following opinions are completely my own*

So by now I’m sure everyone has heard of the popular drinking game ‘Neknomination’. It has been trending on Facebook in the past few weeks, and has been all over the news in light of the tragic deaths of Ross Cummins and Jonny Byrne. Since the untimely deaths of the young Irish boys, people have taken to various social media outlets blaming the Neknomination game for the two boys tragic deaths. The game involves someone being tagged/nominated to post a video of themselves downing a pint of beer, or other form of alcohol, within 24 hours of being neknominated. When they have completed this they then nominate two or more of their friends to do the same.

Now I am in no way going to say that the deaths of these two young men are not the tragedy that they are. Both were popular guys with loving families and bright futures ahead of them. They did however make a very silly mistake that ended up costing them their lives. The Neknomination tag is just another game that promotes binge drinking. It is a silly concept that makes it look like alcohol has no consequences. However, Nekominations are no different to any other drinking game. No one is forced to accept the challenge, they can very simply ignore the tag or say no to it. I don’t promote Neknominations in any way, but at the same time I don’t think it is fair to entirely blame the tag for what young people are doing. Binge drinking is a problem, it has been for a long time but Neknominations if taken off the internet, will just be replaced by something similar.

At the end of the day people make their own choices. If a person chooses to accept a Neknomination tag and is silly enough to down a pint of beer, whiskey or vodka then that is their own choice, and they must accept the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately for Ross and Jonnny, the consequence was the early ending of their lives. It was their decision, no one elses to do what they did. It is the harsh reality of the situation and may be hard to hear, but in the end the two young men made the decision to drink irresponsibly. I am in no way saying they deserved to die, what happened to them was a tragedy that has shaken the country. They made a mistake and my heart goes out to their friends and family. However we must realise that the Neknomination tag was not solely responsible.

Alcohol is fun if consumed responsibly, people seem to be forgetting that fact. Not everyone enjoys it but for those who do it is not a crime to drink. One beer will very rarely do anyone any harm. The Neknomination game was most likely created in light of this fact. It never set out to harm anyone, it was simply created as an optional fun thing to do. It doesn’t tell people to jump off a bridge, it doesn’t tell people to drink so much that they become seriously ill, it simply says to chug down a pint of beer or your alcohol of choice and film it. It has been put out there as a game and if you don’t want to play then no one is going to force you to take part.

I know people are going around saying that peer pressure forces people into playing the game. Yes, that may be a factor into why people play the game, but we having been teaching our children for years that in life, you make your own choices and deal with the good and the bad that comes with them. Some people will bend to peer pressure in an effort to fit in, we all do it sometimes, but we should all have the ability to know what can harm us. Throwing up our food to be skinnier will harm us, taking heroin to be “cool” will harm us, downing a pint of vodka will harm us and jumping from a bridge will harm us. Everyone goes through these choices knowing what could potentially go wrong, and so they must decide if the consequences are worth it. Now I don’t think Jonny Byrne knew that in his drunken state, he would jump off a bridge and drown, but I believe he knew what he was doing could seriously harm him. He probably thought that the worst that could happen was he would need his stomach pumped or would get a cold from being in he cold water. Jonny couldn’t possibly have foreseen this and neither could the person that neknominated him, or the creators of the tag. Fun things can turn out to have terrible consequences that no one even considered. Blaming Neknominations for the deaths of these two young men however wont bring them back and it wont stop people from making similar mistakes.

If it happened to someone I loved, of course I would be angry and upset, and want to have someone to take the blame. However I know that Neknominations doesn’t force people to take part, it doesn’t set out to hurt people and it doesn’t control the decisions people make. It was simply the catalyst that unknowingly led to the tragic deaths of two young boys who were just trying to have fun but took it too far. They unfortunately made a fatal mistake. Everyone makes mistakes but most of the time we get to stick around to fix them.

Binge drinking shouldn’t be encouraged but Neknomonations are just a very small part of the problem. Our culture makes it look like something to be proud of and that, is what is truly to blame. Our mindsets need to change before more tragedies like this happen. Thousands of people have died because of binge drinking and they will keep dying until society sees binge drinking as something to be ashamed of instead of cool. Alcohol is something that should be enjoyed responsibly but it is knowledge that will help us achieve that. So go out tonight and have a beer with your friends, but when you start going for your fourth or fifth just remember the choice you are making.

RIP Jonny Byrne and Ross Cummins. Your lives were tragically cut short but you friends and family will make sure you are never forgotten. 

-Vifa