Hey, book lovers.

So, as always, this is the first time I’ve written on here in a while. But instead of writing a book review or a general post about writing or reading, I wanted to put out something a little more personal. An update, so to speak, of what things have been like since I have left university, and how much can change in a small period of time. I love writing, and since I seem to love expressing myself through words, I thought this would be the best place for such a post.

Well, I graduated back in July, which even though it is only a couple of months ago, feels like forever ago. Maybe because I left the town I was in for three years, of Luton, and now I’m back home in Milton Keynes, and all of my university friends are in their own individual places. I studied Creative Writing at the University of Bedfordshire, and graduated with a 2: 2, which I was quite happy with, and a few of my friends graduated with similar degrees and were very happy with their own results. It was a lovely day- very hot, and with both of my sisters there (this is a big deal only to those who know me very well), and meeting my lecturers and coursemates again, wearing the tight, but smart dress I picked out from a long shopping day around the city centre with my mum, which was clinging to me the entire day, underneath the traditional hat, (which I did throw), and the enormous gown, and obviously, the heels! Walking around Luton in those was fun…detect the sarcasm here. But then I went for dinner with my family afterwards and we talked about the whole day, and they enjoyed it just as much as I did.

University itself was the best decision I could have ever made in my life, except for my trip to Africa in 2012, but I’ve loved it all completely. I met so many amazing people there, and in a strange way, it also got me to where I am in my life now. I’ll get there in a moment. In the first year, I began getting to know my coursemates, some of my closest friends now, even though a lot of them have gone their own ways again, and also my would-be best friend, Erin, as well as her entire group, and some others who also weren’t on my course. I was living in student accomodation, on the 1oth floor, at the very top of the building, but had spent most of my time at hers and my coursemate, Pippa’s flat, which is also where I met my ex-boyfriend, Tom. Some crap went down, of course, but I won’t go into that too much. In some ways, I do miss that year, because I was quite close to a lot of the people I met in that flat, and around that same building. I did quite well at uni, and got some grades that I was pretty damn proud of. One of the first assignments I did in that year ended up being the first chapter of one of my now finished novels…which is on a pause. One day! I wasn’t entirely the going-out-all-the-time student, but I did enjoy the time I spent with my friends back at that flat, and found that I preferred those nights when I could just stay in and watch movies.

In the second year, I moved in with my best friend, Erin. We got a really nice little flat together, right next to the train station, and it was a shame when we had to leave before our time was due, when the lease ended, but we really enjoyed being there. Just before the second year started, I was writing a lot of my now-almost-finished novel, which I am editing the final draft of, as of now. It’s a LOT of fun, and I’m so close. Then, just before uni started up again, I got a call from The Works, and a couple of days later, I started my job there. I’ve now been with the company for two years and about three months. I loved my job, and I learned a lot- it being my very first job- and grew very close to the people there. I’m still close to a few of them, which I love.  Again, I wasn’t really going out drinking much, but I did go out a few times with my coursemates and occasionally, I’d be a little tipsy…and giggly. This was probably my favourite year, even if there was a lot more tension within my course group. But I improved in most of my grades in that year, and generally, apart from a few hiccups, it was pretty successful.

The third year was tense. I was very close to finishing my novel, and for a particular unit, we were asked to send off a piece of work and analyse the process for an assessment, and I chose to send it off to agents and publishers. During this time, I didn’t realise how unfinished the book actually was, but I did send off to an editor at Penguin, who replied within three days or so, saying that she would love to see it again, if I follow certain steps to improve it. I was over the moon! I also sent it off to a few agents, who rejected it, but I learned a lot from the experience, and very soon, I should be doing it again! I’m so excited. My uni assignments went mostly okay, but my grades were lower. Towards xmas, I was working a lot, and I was very stressed out a lot of the time, and my head wasn’t in a great place. But I see this as an experience, and a lesson. I’m always grateful for everything I learned then, both at uni and at work. Within a few months of uni ending, things got a little messy with a close friend of mine, and my anxiety, which was generally okay but occasionally flaring up, became a lot worse. I couldn’t smile, couldn’t feel happy. I don’t know if he knows this, and I don’t even blame him for it anymore, and we’re now friends, but I was in a very dark place during that time. Only a few of my close uni friends and work friends saw how much that all affected my mental state. I just remember, for a couple of months, wandering around the uni or the mall, and going home and crawling into bed to cry, or breaking down in public places, or in the uni’s Creative Writing suite, where I often saw him working. It’s all a long story, and I don’t particularly want to go into all of it, but it’s important because that, and how I was mentally, at the time, has all contributed to where I am today.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the end of uni, and for a time I wanted to stay in Luton after it had finished, but then I realised it was best for me to go back home to Milton Keynes and live with my family again. So I handed in my notice at work, and they were all really supportive, and they understood. I’ll always be grateful for what they helped me with, back then. I had about three weeks to go, so during that time, I tried to see my friends when I could, I wrote my book, and I applied for jobs in Milton Keynes, which I was pretty lucky with, to receive quite a few interviews. Whatever happened, I was ready to go home and be with my family again. I was excited, not to leave Luton, but to be where I’ve been for most of my life. It felt familiar- it felt right. And, it was the best decision I could have made. Especially because, in the last week of my notice, the company’s Area Manager visited the store while I was working, and asked the current manager if I had a job, and then rang Milton Keynes’ store for me randomly while I was sitting eating my lunch, pretty much unaware, and then the next day, I had a new job- a transfer, ready for the next week. It felt amazing- it was pretty much the first positive thing to have happened for me during those couple of months, and I had to admit, I was so excited. My family weren’t so sure it was the best thing for me at first, but when I started, and they saw how many hours I was working and how happy it made me to be there, they understood. I met all of these new, amazing people.

Once, Sarah, the manager of Luton, asked me if I liked my new Works family, and I told her my Works family was pretty damn big, and that I was really happy with it all. I trained a couple of my old manager’s St Albans staff on my last day in Luton, which was another thing that had my self-confidence sky-rocketing. Then, after working in Milton Keynes for a while, I was asked to cover for them for a few days, and in those few days, I trained two new members of staff for the Luton store, which felt strangely nostalgic, but also nice because I knew enough to help others learn.

I’ve learned an awful lot since moving to my new store- probably because I have no uni assignments to focus on, and like Luton, the people there are really encouraging and happy to help me learn more about the company and job. I’ve developed in my merchandising and putting out stock, I’ve recently been trained to do refunds and exchanges, cashing-up, till-checks, fire-alarm-checks, etc, and I’ll be learning more soon. I couldn’t be more excited- I’ve wanted to be able to do all of these things for a long time. But I’ve got my confidence back, generally, and my head is in a much better place.

Even through everything that happened there, in that last year, I miss uni so much. I miss all of the meetups with my course group, working in the library on my assignments and my books, working with my old colleagues, living in the places I’ve lived in, but I’m so much happier now. I’m learning. And I’ve got a lot more experience now. I’m writing and editing my book every free minute I get, so I can meet my October deadline, and then begin submitting it off to agents and the same publisher I sent to, maybe even exactly a year after her first response!

I’m so grateful to everyone who’s helped me in the last few years- friends, family, colleagues, uni friends. If I’ve ever frustrated you or upset you through all of that, I’m sorry. But I guess time changes everything, so we’ll see what happens next!

See you next time,