Monday, 26 August 2019

SO, WAS THE GAP YEAR WORTH IT?

A collage of photos from the year 2018-2019
And that's a wrap, my gap year is officially over.

Unofficially, my gap year started in June. I finished my exams on the 8th or 15th of June last year. 

I made the decision to take a gap year on a bit of a whim with little to no thought on how the year would plan out but it couldn't have gone better. Admittedly, I wish I had planned my year and travelled more but I did so many other amazing things that made the year even more worthwhile.

Had I gone to the University of Liverpool as planned, I wouldn't have received the job offers and work experience I did, I wouldn't have met the new friends I made, I probably would've given up on my blog and I certainly wouldn't have started my podcast. 

I now truly believe that everything happens for a reason. A decision I made a year ago has put me on the path that I was supposed to walk on. 
A collage of photos from the year 2018-2019
So, was the gap year worth it? Absolutely. 

Do I feel behind my friends? In the beginning, yes but now? No. 

Am I prepped for uni? I don't think you can ever be fully prepped but I feel more mentally prepared than I was last year.

What skills have I gained? Leadership, better communication, better time management, professionalism, better money management, confidence and more independence. 

I gained a lot of work experience, grew my blog, I made new friends, saved a lot of money, conquered a fear, visited a country on my travel bucket list, secured a spot at uni (again) and got my head in a better place. I now know what I want from life, the career I want, the people I want to surround myself with etc. Life can only go onwards and upwards from this point. 

Fran
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Monday, 19 August 2019

12 THINGS I LEARNT ON MY GAP YEAR

A shot of me crouching in front of street art in Shoreditch by Oliver Rig of a man looking sorrowfully into the distance
With just two weeks left of my gap year, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on the last 12 months and document what I have learnt following a year out of education. 

01. If a situation makes you unhappy, leave.
At the beginning of my gap year, I worked at Mcdonalds as a 'Customer Care Assistant' aka a glorified cleaner. I started working there as a crew member and I was promoted to the customer care role after a year. As my 2nd year of working there approached, I started to feel unhappy. I would often call one of my friends while walking home, to cry down the phone to about how awful the shift had been, customers speak to you like shit when you work at Mcdonald's, I know this is the case in most customer facing roles but the abuse you face from customers while working at Mcdonald's is next level. Or to cry about how nasty a particular shift manager had been that day. I quickly realised that a job that reduces you to tears is not a job worth having. I identified the reasons and the people who were making me feel the way I did and filed a grievence against a certain shift manager and my business manager. I felt relieved. I started applying for new jobs almost immediately and landed a job at ASOS. Within two weeks of filing my grievance, I'd handed in my notice and left. I instantly felt a lot happier. I told myself that from this day, if a job made me unhappy, especially to the point of crying, I would leave. 

02. The grass is NOT always greener 
Remember when I said my first day at ASOS was the best first day ever? I lied. It wasn't bad but I didn't feel how I thought I should feel about a new job. I walked into the office and felt anxious. The fashion world was not my cup of tea. This feeling went on for two weeks and on Sunday, the day before my third working week, I woke up, emailed the relevant person and quit the job with immediate effect. 

03. Your mental health should always come first 
This is pretty self explanatory but nothing should ever come before your mental health. Your mental health can make you or break you, take care of it. 

04. I am privileged
I may not be privileged financially but I am privileged to have a roof over my head, a loving family, a solid group of friends, a job, the ability to walk, talk, feed myself and so on. Every one of us is privileged, to live in a country free of war and dictatorship is a privilege. 

05. Being single really ain't that bad 
With my current level of independance, I can see myself dying single and unmarried and I'm not mad. I used to think marriage was the be all and end all but there's more to life. There's nothing a man can give to me (apart from dick but even then, sex toys) or do for me that I can't give or do myself. Children? I'm happy to adopt. I have found peace with myself. 

06. Food is expensive.
I don't think I will ever step foot in a Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury's etc again, Lidl and Aldi are the way forward. I can get a pack of 5 Whirlz aka Twister mini dupes from Aldi for 79p vs going to Tesco for a pack of 8 for £2.20. For 17p more, I can buy 3 packs of Whirlz from Aldi.

07. Outgrowing your friends is normal.
I lost a friend in the first few months of my gap year who I had been friends with since the age of 12. I was upset at first but after a few days of letting it digest, I realised that we had outgrown each other and our friendship had served its time and that's okay!

08. Always keep money saved
Do you have a savings account? No? Open one immediately and put whatever you can, weekly or monthly and do NOT touch it unless you're in need. Wanting a new pair of shoes Fran is not a need and does not warrant taking money out of your savings!

09. Take every opportunity you can, especially the ones outside of your comfort zone
At the beginning of this gap year, I was terrified of heights. A friend of mine asked if I would do a skydive with him to raise money for a charity close his heart, I couldn't say no. I did it and conquered my fear of heights, read the full story here 

10. Don't compare your journey 
Over the course of my gap year, I have found myself comparing my journey to those around me, particularly my peers. "So and so just bought a brand new car", "So and so just graduated" "So and so bought their first flat", you are on your own journey, going at your own pace, I will buy my dream car one day, I will graduate even if its years later than my peers and I will buy my own property, when my time comes. 

11. Take time out.
A day, a week, a month, a year or a few years, it's good for the soul.

12. It's not bullshit, you find yourself.
365 days, 525600 minutes, 8760 hours... a year is a long time! I am not the same person I was at the beginning of this journey and in a month's time, I won't be the same person who is writing this. You learn new things, bump into new people, overcome hurdles, conquer old fears and develop new ones. You're on a constant journey to discovering your full capabilities and the true purpose of your life.

Fran
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Monday, 12 August 2019

PHOTO DIARY | THE LAST TWO WEEKS

A collage of the my last 6 instagram posts: a vegan meatball sub, cafe interior, flocking in a field, street art of a turtle, shot of Brighton pier and a plate of Bella Italia prawn spaghetti Bolognese
In the last two weeks, I have started posting on Instagram again. Instagram is my least favourite platform, it's so easy to get consumed by the number of likes your content is getting, how many followers you have or popular trends, you lose yourself trying to compete with other creators. I started to lose myself so I stopped posting. Up until the beginning of August, I hadn't posted on Instagram since May, I deleted the app and abanonded the support/family I had built on there but now I'm back with a new mindset and fresh ideas.

I started the month with a trip to the cinema to see the new Lion King, it was amazing! On the same day, I tripped and fell into the tattoo shop and booked in to get a new tattoo, something to commemorate the end of my gap year. I took a trip to the seaside with Emmanuela, that's one thing on my summer bucketlist ticked off and I should've been heading to Cornwall last Thursday but Boardmasters got cancelled due to a severe weather warning. I've spent the last 5 days in bed doing absolutely nothing. I could've planned a mini trip somewhere but after working 14 days in a row up until the day before what was supposed to be Boardmasters, I needed this time to relax.

You may have noticed an increase in food posts on my Instagram feed, I think food blogging might be my calling so expect to see a lot more food shots on the gram. 

What have you been up in the last two weeks? 

Fran
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Monday, 5 August 2019

AUGUST TO DO LIST

August. Summer is coming to an end, my gap year is nearly over, my tan is fading and I'm itching for Autumn to arrive. You know the drill by now, a new month calls for a new to-do list.

01. SEND OFF MY CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION
I'm putting this at the top of my to-do list because it is my top priority this month. 

02. START POSTING ON INSTAGRAM AGAIN
I stopped posting regularly on Instagram a few months ago and put my time and energy into building my online presence on other platforms and producing more quality blog posts.

03. CREATE A BUDGETING SPREADSHEET WITH MY STUDENT LOAN
My student loan is going to be my main source of income at university and if I don't account for my regular monthly outgoings, sports team membership etc then I will be broke within the first month and eating pot noodles until the next loan comes through. I don't even like pot noodles.

04. FINISH PACKING FOR UNI
I hate packing and I'm so tempted to leave it until the night before so then I'm forced to pack.

05. READ MORE
I won an Amazon gift card from a competition that I entered a while back. I wasn't sure how to spend it but I haven't read a new book in a while so I guess I'm buying some new books, any recommendations?

06. FIND MY FLATMATES
So far, I've found two of them and I'm hoping to find all 5 before move-in day. Wish me luck!

07. PUT A DEPOSIT DOWN FOR OUR GIRL'S HOLIDAY
Most of my friendship group and I are turning 21 next year and we've decided to celebrate with a big holiday. We're still very undecided on which country to visit, where would you go to celebrate your 21st birthday?

08. PREWRITE SEPTEMBER BLOG CONTENT
If all goes to plan then I will have all my September blog content written and scheduled before fresher's week so I can jump straight into the madness without having to worry about sitting down to write blog posts.

Posts you may have missed from last month:
JULY TO DO LIST
EXPLORING LONDON WITH KEETOO | #AD
YOUR GUIDE TO APPLYING FOR UNIVERSITY
A WEEK IN MY GAP YEAR
MY SUMMER BUCKET LIST 

What's on your to-do list for the month of August?

Fran
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