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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Nepal Day Two: Pokhara (And Election Escapism)

Nepal Day Two: Pokhara (And Election Escapism)
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
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In truth I don't really feel like publishing a blog post today. I attend an American university in the Middle East with an incredibly diverse student body and it seems that nearly all of us, like so many others around the world, are despairing over the future. I hadn't scheduled a post and all I want to do is crawl under my duvet and pretend that Brexit and Trump has never happened (Admittedly it hasn't even been called as I write this, but it looks pretty much impossible for Hillary to win right now), and stick to my belief that the world still loves each other. But life carries on as normal, and so throwing back to some travelling shots seems like a pretty good way to go. 

I had intended to post more about Nepal, and yet somehow other topics overtook the travelling ones in my blogging brain. My vlog is very nearly finished and I'm really excited to show you everything we did but in the meantime it's kind of nice to look at those happier times a little way across the world. 

Ironically the beautiful stone structure at the top is the World Peace Pagoda, a fitting reminder for the way things should be right now. Post Brexit I wrote an article for The Gazelle, our publication here, imploring both sides to not let the divisiveness grow hatred in our heart. All I can think, as we watch Trump emerge victorious, is that now more than ever we should listen to and support minorities who stand to be hurt over the coming years. We should turn to our Latino/a, Black, female, LGBTQ (and any other group who stands to be hurt) friends and show more love than ever before. 

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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Maybe She's Born With It...

Maybe She's Born With It...
Saturday, 5 November 2016
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...Maybe she worked bloody hard to get there.


I have a pet peeve. Well, I have several pet peeves to be precise: people who put a thumbs up as a response in conversation (it's not a response!) being just one of them. But since I didn't spend the last hour in counselling discussing that particular peeve, it won't be the subject of today's post.

No, my current bugbear is people who say "you're so lucky" to the product of hard work.

See I am that annoying person who gets most of my work done early. Not always, I've been known to leave readings till the last minute like any other college student, but in general when I have essays I am almost never writing up to the deadline and usually can submit several days in advance. This was the case with my most recent midterm, partly due to some miscommunication with deadlines, and so I found myself finished two days before the actual thing was due. Now I don't particularly go shouting from the rooftops about this, not least because it doesn't make me a popular person, but occasionally it comes up and invariably the response is some form of jealousy over the break I will have whilst they slave away over their own work.

Now I get it: no one likes to think of others relaxing whilst they are glued to their laptop. But it's not like I didn't do the work. On Friday (our Saturday because the weekends are different) whilst most others were lounging in bed, I was up early and in the library. My essay didn't miraculously appear from thin air, it's just where you might choose the last two days of the given time to do it, I will probably choose the first. 

I think why I find this so frustrating is because it genuinely doesn't come naturally to me. I am inclined to procrastinate on Facebook and get sucked into the rabbit hole of the internet, so I work really hard to counterbalance that as much as I can, not to mention putting in the extra hours to ensure everything gets done even with my procrastination. 

I have discussed it with my Mumma at length, mostly on the subject of bravery. I think it's easy to look at me living a whole continent away from home and think that I was always a go-getter type, when in truth I was a child afraid of almost everything. I sobbed at the prospect of being away from home and that scared little girl is still inside of me. Those closest to me know that physically stepping on the plane to Ghana was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I relied so much on support from those around me. Now I am happy and at home in Abu Dhabi but it hasn't always been the case, and it took a whole lot of courage to leave England four years ago. Easy it was not, but if you don't see those moments then you might not understand how much some of these choices have cost me.

I think the real frustration lies in how invalidating words like "lucky" and "jealous" feel. They dismiss the hours and hours of effort, the sacrifices and sheer amount of energy that goes into each event, essay or adventure. I write about my own experiences not to praise myself but to make you think harder about certain situations before you jump to jealousy or dismiss it as luck. I too have been guilty of looking at other bloggers and envying their success without thinking about how hard they worked to get there. I know how easy it can be to assume that they were gifted with something that placed them there, when invariably the only something is just hard work. Sure, some people are naturally talented in certain areas but even then they work hard to develop their skills. Photographers don't just pick up a camera one day and produce a beautiful picture on their first click, invariably they invest hours into playing around with different settings. Writers have to discard many bad pieces of work before the good ones emerge. Singers spend so much time honing their voices. Yes the raw talent might be a gift of a fate, but invariably it is nothing without someone's time and dedication.

Even where character traits are concerned, I'm coming to realise that so much of it is not what resides naturally within us but how we cultivate them. Kindness, generosity, a lack of envy: so many of the people who seem like this is inherently a part of them still have to squash down unhappier thoughts in order to allow the better ones to flourish. 

Perhaps you disagree, or maybe you can think of your own examples. Either way, I just ask you to consider that outcomes are just the tip of the iceberg, and the work gone in may well be meaningful to the person concerned. Maybe she is born with it, but I bet she worked hard too. 

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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Blogging Dissatisfaction and the Art of Self Teaching

Blogging Dissatisfaction and the Art of Self Teaching
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
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