Writing Out My Path In Life

Anything Articles

To write is a form of art. Paper is my canvas. A pen is my paintbrush. For me, to write is to express my emotions, tell a story, reach out to others.

I have always wanted to be able to let my writing do the talking. For a long time, I wondered, how could I do that? Where can I start? A couple of months ago, I found the answer.

On a whim, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to apply for a freelancing position for a website called ScreenRant. It’s a website that provides reviews and stories about movies, games and tv shows. I wondered what it would be like to write for them, so I sent in my application and left it at that.

A couple of days later, I received a response. They asked to test my writing skills by having me write out a review for anything on Amazon. Rising up to the challenge, I chose to write about a Kingdom Hearts Playstation Boxset. It was a good combination of two things that I love: Gaming and Disney!

I sent in my review and waited to hear a response. They got back to me saying they’d had to freeze my application but would keep it on record. I thought ‘Fair enough, it’s not the first time.’

In all honesty, I had forgotten about my application until a few weeks later, when I got another email. They said that they would like to offer me the chance to work as a freelance commerce writer for ScreenRant. I was a bit confused until I remembered my application from before.

In my riddled up mind, I wondered, ‘Is this real?’ I had to analyse everything about it, to be sure. But you know what? I decided to grab the bull by the horns and accept the offer.

And I am really glad that I did.

Now, I can say that I am working as a writer. I write articles and reviews for ScreenRant. It feels amazing to be able to write that. I’m proving that I am able to write anything and it feels great.

I am not saying that I have now officially become a well known writer. But what I can say is that I have made a start. And that really means a lot to me.

Removing The Face Mask: Why We Must Stop Hiding Our True Selves

Society, Anything Articles

This is an article that I wrote earlier in the year, explaining about why we must be true to ourselves and not hide our personalities.

We all have our own little routines every morning. Getting up, picking out clothes to wear, checking out how we look in the mirror. We are always looking at ourselves in the mirror, staring at our reflection. But what do we really see?

One night, after having a shower and changing into pajamas, I looked at my own reflection in the mirror. My hair was tied back in a ponytail, my skin was still glistening with moisturizer, my eyes had a hint of mascara leftover from earlier in the day. I stared at my reflection like I was looking at myself for the very first time.

How often do we truly look at ourselves in the mirror? Remove the cosmetics and make-up that we apply to our faces and look at ourselves as natural human beings? Is there even such a thing as a natural human being in today’s society?

Society has its take on the way that people should look. As life has changed and the world has continued to evolve, people feel the pressure to fit into society. Young people, in particular, are constantly examining what they can do with themselves to be popular and accepted. In a way, it’s as if two beings are living inside of us; the outside, the side that is expected by society. And the inside, the one being hidden for fear of rejection.

In the last entry of her diary dated 1st August 1944, Anne Frank wrote about the inner struggles that she faced with herself. She wrote about how she had always felt split in half. She hid her true self on the inside, covering it up with being boisterous and cheeky on the outside – the way others had expected her to be. As she said herself ‘no one knows Anne’s better side’ because she kept it hidden by a mask.

Masks have become common today; we all have to wear them to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. But we’re also wearing another type of mask, protecting our personalities. With these masks, we’re shielding ourselves from the scrutiny and disdain of others, pretending that we’re fine. In the opening scene of the controversial movie Joker, we see Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) sitting in front of a mirror, putting on clown make-up and turning his mouth up in a smile. As he is doing this, a tear rolls down his cheek which symbolizes his inner turmoil. It could be argued that we are all clowns – we use make-up to paint our faces to cover up how we feel on the inside. We feel this pressure to wear these masks to be accepted in society.

It is very easy to be fooled by the mask. It can be so convincing that many times, we do not see what’s hidden underneath until it is too late. It’s especially dangerous for young people – they feel forced to hide their problems, not say anything until eventually, they turn to self-harm and suicide.

In 2018, there were 730 noted suicides in people under the age of 25 in the United Kingdom. Imagine that; 730 suicides in one year. Every person who chooses to end their life is somebody’s child, sibling, grandchild, friend. There are people who love them without the mask, but many find it difficult to see that. They find it difficult because they feel that they cannot love the most important person in their lives – themselves.

Peer pressure and images on social media influence people to change their personalities, hide their true selves to be accepted. Anybody who is considered ‘different’ from how society wants them to be, is labeled as an outcast. That is extremely damaging to any individual.

There is a song called ‘Outside Looking In’ by Jordan Pruitt that perfectly highlights the struggles with acceptance and the pressure to be perfect. Those who are not considered perfect are cast aside by society. There is a moment in the music video where young people are sitting down to have their school photos taken. Their smiles – their masks – hide their inner turmoil.

We all wear masks. Not many of us realize it, but we subconsciously try to cover our true personalities to fit in. We try to blend in, become ‘part of the crowd.’ But are we truly happy with that? As a person who once tried to change herself to be accepted, I can say that you will never find true happiness if you cover your inner self with a mask.

Do not hide your true self. Do not cover yourself up with a mask. If you change yourself to fit into society, you are eventually going to want your own self back sooner or later. It is important that we love ourselves for who we are. Ditch the mask, let your true personality shine out.

Be true, be happy, be you.

Childhood Classics: Should They Be Changed or Left Alone?

Anything Articles

After learning about the intended release of a shocking horror film, I bring my thoughts about childhood classic stories and characters and whether they should be changed or stay the way they were initially created.

I thought I was dreaming or maybe a bit hungover when I woke up at 5am and saw the news. I had dozed off and awoke to find my fairy lights still on, my moon lamp dimming, and my sea projector sending blue waves onto the ceiling. I needed to switch everything off before going back to sleep.

Out of pure habit, I decided to check TikTok, and as I scrolled through the videos, a post from ITV caught my attention. It was talking about an upcoming movie and called it ‘Winnie-the-Pooh, the horror movie.’

Naturally, I was very confused. We all know who Winnie-the-Pooh is; the ‘bear with very little brain’ who lives in the Hundred Acre Wood and adores honey. Now, all of a sudden, he was in a horror movie? I thought it was just a silly joke. Or maybe my mind was a bit fuzzy. But when I looked it up properly, I realized that I was very wrong.

The famous bear with very little brain, Winnie-the-Pooh

As it turned out, there was indeed a horror due for release called Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey. Apparently, the story goes like this: Christopher Robin leaves his childhood friends behind as he grows up and leaves for college, something that we all do in life. But this doesn’t sit well for those he leaves behind. Feeling abandoned, and without food, Pooh and Piglet revert to their animal ways; they become completely feral and unhinged, killing their friends in order to survive. When Christopher Robin does eventually return with his new wife, the unhinged Pooh and Piglet go on a murderous rampage, targeting several college girls who are staying in a rural cabin. (That old cliche is never going to die.)

The promotional poster for the new Winnie-the-Pooh horror movie.

To put it very simply, I was shocked. This is Winnie-the-Pooh – the bear with very little brain who lives in the 100 Acre Wood, plays with Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo! His best friend is Christopher Robin and he absolutely adores honey! I think I just outed myself as somebody who loves Winnie-the-Pooh, didn’t I?

It’s just… Winnie-the-Pooh has been a part of my life ever since I was a baby. When I was very little, my bedroom had Winnie-the-Pooh wall stickers on the wall. I had an electronic Winnie-the-Pooh bear that came with its own honey pot that he would ‘eat’ from. I had the Pooh’s Friendly Places and Honeypot playsets as toys; they were my favorite things to play with. One of my favorite Disney movies is Pooh’s Grand Adventures – The Search for Christopher Robin. In my favorite video game series Kingdom Hearts, one of the worlds that you could visit was the 100 Acre Wood where you could interact with all of the different characters. So… yes, I certainly love Winnie-the-Pooh and I am currently finding it very hard to see him reimagined as a feral bloody horror killer.

I’ve looked at a few times where classics were reimagined by authors and creators. There have been several parodies and mock-ups of different stories released over the last few years. There was a time when I visited the Chapters bookstore in Dublin, to enjoy the chance of buying books at a low price. Well, that time I was browsing the shelves and found a variety of classic parodies.

A sample of ‘reimagined’ classics on sale.

I saw these books for sale and I was disgusted.

Disgusted.

It wasn’t just the style of the covers that horrified me, it was the fact that all of the stories had been modified and made more sexual. Basically, classics such as Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby had been turned into porn.

Many authors were trying to cash in on what I consider the black mark in the world of literacy, that God-awful Fifty Shades series. The ‘love story’ of a controlling stalker and a co-dependent gold digger inspired a lot of authors to write their own little stories that were similar in taste. That aspect, I can understand, but did they have to touch classic stories like these?

Seriously?

Authors such as Charlotte Bronte and Oscar Wilde are long since gone, so technically, nothing can be done to prevent people re-writing their stories. I can understand in a way; sometimes, I see a story that there are elements that I don’t like and I feel I could change them. But… I feel there is a limit. I wouldn’t go so far as to change the main character into a bloody killer or shape the story to revolve around sex. That’s taking a little too far, for me anyway.

The problem is that stories such as Winnie-the-Pooh now reside in the public domain, they’re no longer protected by copyright law. In the United States, copyright law is usually limited to the life of the creator, plus 70 years after their death. Or in more simple terms, copyright of created content expires 70 years after the creator’s death. And since A.A. Milne has been dead since 1956…. you get the idea.

Now that the copyright law has expired on Winnie-the-Pooh, the public can do whatever they want with the character. But I refuse to see Winnie-the-Pooh as anything other than the bear-with-very-little-brain. This is one horror movie that I will definitely not be watching!

Post Traumatic Stress, Anxiety and Being My Own Worst Enemy

Anything Articles, Life Experiences, stories

These last couple of weeks have been a time of stress, worry, self-hate, and anger. Sometimes, in life, there are things that happen that knock you down a couple of pegs, but you have to find the strength to pick yourself up and force yourself to get through the tough things. I had my first experience of post-traumatic stress, faced a final college assignment that really affected me and I had to once again, deal with my worst personal trait.

I was looking forward to getting the last hurdle of my Master’s degree finally finished. The last hurdle? A presentation defending my chosen topic and how I went about researching the dissertation. You would think that 80 pages and nearly 25,000 words of research would be enough but…. clearly not. I really did not want to do this presentation but we had no other choice. So, I had to spend one more week studying all of the work that I did for my dissertation, putting it all together into a presentation and explaining the topic that I’d studied. My presentation took place on the 9th of September and I was determined to make it the best.

A friend and I planned to work on our presentations together the week before. We arranged to meet at the Queen of Tarts cafe, somewhere I’d never been to before, but I’m always willing to try new places.

It wasn’t until I arrived that I realised that the cafe was located bang next door to a restaurant called the Piglet Wine Bar. I was horrified. This was the place where I had experience the worst allergic reaction of my entire life. It was the place where I honestly thought that I was going to die.

My hands started to shake. My breath was catching in my throat. A voice in my head was saying ‘Oh no, no, no.’ I felt worse when I entered the cafe. Its interior was exactly like the restaurant from that night, right down to the upstairs seating area.

Looking up the stairs, my mind kept thinking back to that night. I can remember stumbling to the bathroom, gasping for breath, barely able to stand. I remember looking at my reflection in the mirror and not recognising myself. My face was white, my eyes were bloodshot…I didn’t look like myself.

I looked like a monster.

I had to force myself to calm down, to bring myself back to the present. I told myself that I was being stupid, that I was overreacting. I sent a message to Mum, telling her about what happened, saying I was being silly. I expected her to agree but she actually said that what I’d experience was perfectly understandable.

I’d had my first experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had just relived the worst moment of my life. I couldn’t believe it but looking back on it, it makes sense. Until that day, I hadn’t properly gone back to that area since the night of my severe reaction. I figured I was okay, I’d gotten over it. It had been nearly three years.

But clearly, I was mistaken. It took going back to that place for me to properly understand what happened to me. I think if the pandemic hadn’t have happen, I could have gotten over it sooner. Having said that, (and this is going to sound crazy) I am relieved to have experienced this now. Mum asked me if I would go back to the cafe again and I said yes. I cannot let this one bad experience put me off returning to that area. I’ve gone through the worst, all I can do now is move on with my life.

*

My friend and I were able to finish our presentations and on Friday 9th September, I travelled to the college campus to give my presentation. I had forced myself to practice relentlessly the night before. I didn’t want to stumble or make a fool of myself, I wanted to be clear and concise with what I had to say about the work that I’d done.

I arrived in good time and managed to get a last practice thrown in before I was called into the room where the presentation took place. There were two supervisors, one physical and one virtual via Zoom. I set my gear up and began my presentation. I managed to get through my presentation smoothly enough; I explained my chosen topic, how I went about my research, the films I had studied and the final conclusions that I reached. I thought that I had explained everything to the best of my ability.

Let’s just say that when it came to feedback… things took a bad turn.

Actually no, I wouldn’t call it a bad turn. I mean, I knew that my dissertation had been quite complex, I knew it was flawed, it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t want it to be perfect, I just wanted to show that I worked on it to the very best of my ability and I could create a good dissertation. It’s just, the feedback that the two supervisors gave me, convinced me otherwise. They liked how I presented my dissertation, it was clear that I had done a lot of research but they felt that my dissertation rambled a little bit, didn’t quite reach a proper conclusion, and could have been laid out better.

Looking back on it now, the criticism that I received that day, was fair. I knew deep down that I hadn’t done a dissertation that was completely perfect. But the criticism I got really made me feel that I had failed. It made me feel that I hadn’t done enough to pass. Maybe, the dissertation I had submitted, wasn’t good enough. I felt awful, I felt low, I felt like a failure.

I left the college campus, tears streaming down my face. I was bubbling up inside with sadness, and anger. Mainly towards myself. All I could hear in my head was ‘You stupid idiot. You should have done better. Now you’re going to fail and you should not have failed. How could you be so stupid? Stupid, stupid, stupid.’ That’s all I could hear.

I had to call my mother and explain what happened. By that point, all I wanted to do was forget, so her constant questioning and forcing me to go back over and over the presentation session did nothing to help me. I was upset and angry enough with myself as it was, I didn’t want Mum forcing me to drive the knife in deeper. I know she meant well, but I was an emotional wreck at that point.

Let me be honest and say that my worst critic is me. I am the sort of person who only really sees the worst in me. I am ambitious, but sometimes admittedly, I can be too ambitious for my own good. When I get a result that means, I have passed a module, I can’t help but think, ‘I could have done better.’ I am very very hard on myself and it is something that I know I need to work on.

I had to use these last couple of weekends to recuperate and find where my head is at. I needed to find myself, to go to that old cliche. Through it all, I was able to find support in my housemate Silvia and my fellow college friend, Adina Sarah. They listened to me and comforted me when I brought myself to tears and looked after me. I really appreciate all that they did for me. I’m so grateful to them.

Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress, Anxiety and self-hatred, was certainly a lot to deal with, but I can say that I’m feeling better now after taking some time to recover. As to what happens with my dissertation, all I can do now is wait for my results. I’m really hoping that I’ve done enough to pass, but there’s nothing I can do now except wait and see what happens.

The worst thing that could happen is I could have to repeat the whole thing, but hopefully it won’t come to that!

Life With a Springer Spaniel – Study Supervisor

dogs, Life With a Springer Spaniel

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about my springer spaniel Murphy. Well, seeing as it is International Dog Day today, I think I will talk about the work that Murphy has done as my study supervisor!

Snuggle time in bed.

These last few weeks – last few months rather – have been a struggle. A great majority of my time was spent writing my final dissertation for my Master’s degree in Griffith College. I thought I knew what I was in for. By God, was I wrong. I did not anticipate the long evenings, the lack of sleep, the stress in making sure that every topic was covered, every word was spelt correctly, all the added extras were added. I’d go to bed at about midnight, get up at about six, trying to balance work and my final big project for graduating Griffith College with a Master’s. Put it simply, I was very stressed.

I was close to cracking, but thankfully, I didn’t. And that is down to Murphy.

My Support Buddy

In the last few weeks, before I was due to submit my dissertation, I returned to Monaghan. My parents were away to Lanzarote for the first time since the pandemic and I was minding Murphy. My sister works at Supervalu and her times vary so she couldn’t be around all the time. So I had to balance work, my dissertation and taking care of Murphy.

It was as if Murphy knew that I was stressed. He knew when I needed him. Sometimes, if I was working on my laptop, he’d just climb up beside me, put his head on my lap and settle for a snooze. Just his presence, eased my mind a little bit. His presence gave me a little bit of comfort.

In the early mornings, before I had to start work, Murphy and I would go out for long walks around Monaghan town. As soon as I said ‘Shall we go for a walk?’, he’d be down the stairs and at the back door, ready to be leashed up and go out.

I will say that the early morning walks with Murphy really helped my head. To be out in the crisp, clear air, at a time of the day, when the town was still quiet and only beginning to wake up was really good. It was a time when I could hear my thoughts more clearly and just relax even if it was just for a little while. Murphy was very good at distracting me, by pulling me down the paths and sniffing everything around him. He knew that my mind needed to be taken off the dissertation in the morning time at least!

Soaking up the early morning sunshine

But I will admit, there were times when I got so stressed that even poor Murphy got on my nerves. There was one incident, where I was working on the blasted dissertation in my bedroom. Murphy was sitting on my bed, as normal. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, Murphy started barking loudly. I jumped at the unexpected noise and I just lost it. I had gotten into a good trail of thought and Murphy had inadvertently interrupted. He barked louder and I screamed at him. I yelled him ‘Shut up! Shut up! Just shut up Murphy!’

As my screaming subsided, I looked at Murphy in horror at what I’d done and I just burst into tears. I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I had shouted at Murphy for something that was in a dog’s nature to do. I didn’t mean to yell at him. I was so stressed at having to finish this assignment, anything could have set me off.

It took a really long time for me to stop crying. I just howled and howled. My sister Shona, comforted me and said that Murphy knew that I didn’t mean it. As she said, Murphy came up and rubbed his head against my legs. This actually made me cry even harder. I just felt so bad. This is how much the stress had gotten to me.

Always keeping an eye on me.

Like I said, it took a while for the tears to dry. When I finally calmed down, I cuddled Murphy for a long time and told him I was sorry, I didn’t mean to shout. He allowed me to pamper him and hug him. I think that was his way of saying that he forgave me.

A couple of days later, I had finished and submitted my dissertation at long, long, long, last. I was so relieved to finally be finished. Once I knew that it had been submitted and sent off, I said the magic words to Murphy: ‘Shall we go for a walk?’ Within a few minutes, we were off!

I have to say that I’m so glad that I went back to Monaghan for the last couple of weeks that I needed to get my dissertation finished. Being with Murphy certainly helped me keep my sanity, most of the time anyway! If I didn’t have Murphy, I actually don’t think I’d be able to have finished my assignment on time. He is the best study support ever. I love him so much.

One of the many little signs of support from Murphy.

Experience on Erasmus: My Own Place

erasmus, Life Experiences, travel, Trier

I want to use this post to talk about moving into my own little place on my Erasmus and how I felt at the end of the year when I moved back to Ireland.

In Universitat Trier, Erasmus students were given the option of single apartments or sharing with another person. At the time, I wasn’t sure about living with a complete stranger, so I opted to stay in a single apartment.

The apartment block I was staying in, Kleeburger Weg was just a five-minute walk from the university campus. That was handy! My apartment was on the very top floor, apartment number 425. Not very good when you’re carrying big suitcases at the start of the year.

The view of the university from the window of my apartment.

On the first day, when I finally got all my possessions up the stairs, I opened the door to my home for the next year. I looked around. There was one large room, with a bed, a table, chair, and bookshelf. A tiny kitchen with a wardrobe in the corner and a little bathroom. That was my apartment.

I spent a moment looking around at all the bare walls, the empty bookshelf, and the sparse bed. Taking a deep breath, I began unpacking and decorating. I had brought two things that I thought would be important; blu-tack and a folder of pictures. There was a little bit of Anne Frank in me when I did that. When she arrived in her Secret Annexe in 1942, she had brought her collection of movie star portraits to decorate the walls of her room. I used my own pictures to decorate my walls.

One wall of my apartment, representing my favourite part of the Harry Potter story (Goblet of Fire)

I spent the majority of the day, tacking and sticking pictures onto each wall. Some of the walls had a certain theme; one wall was dedicated to Harry Potter, another had Yu-Gi-Oh pictures everywhere. I wanted to decorate the walls the way that I wanted to. It took a while for the decorating to be finished, but at last, I managed to get my last picture up on the wall.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! wall in my apartment

The walls above my bed were different. On a shopping day, I found a collection of wall stickers in the shape of butterflies. The butterflies had a different design and came in pink, purple, blue and yellow. I thought they looked really lovely and I have always had a weakness for butterflies so I decided to use them for decorating my room.

The butterfly wall in my apartment.

The final wall was a masterful collage of favorite pictures. I think I spent the most of my time decorating this wall, picking out all sorts of different pictures and putting them in exactly the right place. There was no select theme or anything like that, it was just a selection of my favorite pictures.

The collage wall in my apartment.

At last, my apartment was fully furnished. Now, I had to deal with the silence.

The silence was eerie. It made me nervous. Despite the brightly decorated walls and all my possessions around me, I felt nervous. The longer I spent in the silence, the more I didn’t like it.

Every day I lived in that apartment in Trier, I did whatever I could to fill the silence. In the morning, when I got up to have a shower or make myself some breakfast, there was always a video playing on my laptop. That Christmas, Mum bought me a little portable radio. Sometimes on Sunday evenings, I’d sit at the windowsill with a book and I’d read with the radio playing in the background. There was some form of noise in my apartment every night until I had to switch it off to go to sleep.

As the Erasmus year moved forward and I made new friends, I found myself hating it whenever I had to return to my apartment. The reason for it was, because I was returning alone. If I had been in a shared apartment, I’d have at least have had somebody else there. I could have become friends with my housemate if I’d have one. But I thought I’d be happy in a single apartment. That was where I was mistaken.

Living in an apartment in Trier taught me a few things. It taught me how to be independent and how to look after myself. I had to do my own cooking and clean after myself everyday. I had to throw out my own rubbish and do my laundry every week. I had to buy my own food and make sure everything was ready for the next day. There was no parent to look after me. I went home to Ireland with the knowledge that I was more than capable of looking after myself.

But another thing I learned is that I wasn’t happy living on my own. I thought I was happy in my own company, but I was wrong. The loneliness and eerie silence that I felt, made me spend as much time as possible out and about or with something in the background to fill the quiet. I realised that I was much happier to share a living space rather than having it all to myself.

It’s reflected on my living arrangements nowadays. I have my own room, in a house in Dublin. I have again decorated it to my own liking, but now I share the house with four other people. They started off as complete strangers but now, I’m happy to say that we’ve become really good friends. The girls in the house, and I spend as much time as we can, going out and having fun.

Part of my decor in my room in Dublin!

Maybe if things had been different when I was on Erasmus, I could have made friends with a housemate. But sometimes, things happen for a reason. I think I needed to fully experience living on my own, to understand what it was like.

Because now I know that I never want to do it again!