Five Fascinating Facts about Katherine Mansfield

Source: Five Fascinating Facts about Katherine Mansfield

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How to Be Better – An Amateur’s Suggestions

Recently, I have been the worst version of myself. As I think about this, I wonder what has brought me to this perception of myself. It could be that I am still being successful but it is only my warped self-obsesses position which forces this opinion. I hope not. And I don’t think it’s just that. Despite being usually hard on myself and sometimes having unreachable expectations, it is true I am less proactive, have less energy and becoming increasingly disinterested with life, which I loathe. I am always one who believes life has much to offer, many beautiful and sad things which one must experience to be a better human being.

This type of thinking could be countered with many arguments: self-obsession, social impositions and unrealistic expectations of what is ‘good’. Mostly, the issue is my apathy to so much which had previously brought me joy and my attitude. These are things which can be altered. Undoubtedly other people have experienced similar issues.Welcome to the early twenties. The degree is complete, all those years of variety and opportunity are starting to get tarnished by council tax, rent and the tedious necessity to work. These things bother me tremendously and suck the beautiful soul out of living. These post is mostly for myself, but if any other person gets inspired or feels less alone, then that makes me happy and would always be looking for other tips. Being half term I actually have more time to think and create these pointers:

  1. Have something beyond your job: One thing I have noticed is that I work so much. I am in work for about 50 hours a week, 11 hours a day. That doesn’t cover the hour commute. I’m lucky to get 6 hours of sleep a night. Not to mention, I tutor for an extra three hours a week which requires hours of preparation and travel on top of the 50 ish hours I give to my primary job. I’m so exhausted that I feel deflated and don’t exercise, which in turn makes me more sluggish. I don’t read because words on a page becomes wriggling insects to my weak puffy eyes. I don’t have any friends in London as I haven’t had time to socialise because I am tired and don’t have weekends cause I also work on those. All this sounds bleak. Very bleak in fact. Of course, I still enjoy spending time with colleagues and flatmate and occasionally friends from uni, but I certainly want more. Even if it means proactively studying, reading, walking, running, the occasional trip on the Thames, the travelling to central London, and even going to a bar and maybe even meeting some new interesting people! Shocker! That is the plan, to do one thing each weekend that I didn’t do last weekend. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be deliberate and varied.
  2. Ask questions: One symptom of my bad-version self is disinterest in other people and a lack of compassion. This usually stems from tiredness. Ultimately, human beings are self-centred, but wherever I can, I like to counteract that. Shouldn’t we always strive to try and make other people feel cared about, interested in and that they are valued. The best way to do this is to ask questions; people love to talk about themselves. When I do this, I just find it interesting and have had some surprising conversations. One time, on a train home I sat across an older couple and we had great conversation. The guy used to be a lecturer in psychology and he told me this story of when he dressed up as Hannibal and freaked out all his first years so that postgrads could assess whether recall improves in stressful situations. Interesting, huh? It’s so random but so brilliant. Try it. You’ll feel better, they’ll feel valued. All winners.
  3. Exercise: Seems simple I know, but I am a great believe in this. Perhaps a little too good at believing it and not putting it into action! Even during the process of running life seems better. Perhaps the endorphins or the distraction from the pain in my legs, but there is certainly a sense of achievement and knowing I have done something which is going to better how I feel. Breathing in the fresh air, moving your body, stretching, just having a physical feeling makes me feel like me. Perhaps some of you exercisers out there will sort of understand this. There is plenty of evidence (which I shan’t bore you with) which confirms that exercise is a habit of successful people.
  4. Quit social media (sort of): I work in a school and have to look after 14/15 year olds. My job would be much easier without social media.The amount of times I have to try and give perspective to my students that 2 hours on Facebook isn’t a necessity to sustain themselves. Admittedly, I don’t engage in any arguments over snapchat (a concept which completely baffles me) and nor is my social life wholly measured by the number of friends I have on Facebook or the number of followers on Twitter. I actually have 22 followers on twitter, a recent thing in my life, and that makes me both proud and anxious. Proud that I can write this vaguely without hypocrisy (ignoring the 600+ ‘friends’ on Facebook, right?) but anxious because I have fewer followers than my mother. Or rather, anxious because for a lot of the world, it is a reflection of what type of a person I am and whether people are interested in me. Clearly not. What I find is that this media-frenzied mindset is parasitic. It literally takes away from our life and drags us to our phone, tablet, laptop or PC. Any screen will suffice. I spend too much time looking at instagram, Facebook and usually people I’ll never meet or never want to encounter anyway. Whilst it has its value, it’s nice to take a break. I frequently turn my devices off when I want to work or deactivate accounts as soon as I feel I am too engrossed by them. It’s liberating. Not only do you have time for other things now but you actually focus on what surrounds you. You escape the online bubble with all these strange expectations which you don’t realise you’re part of until you step outside of it.
  5. Realism: As I meet more people, I find that there are two types of person. The first is someone who is driven to be better but never quite meets their own expectations so always has a sense of failure dragging them down. The second has low expectations so achieve less in order to save themselves from the low expectations they have imposed on themselves, usually fuelled by fear of failing. So they end up underachieving because they’re scared. Both require realism with their own expectations. You gotta take those ideas and be real. Are they achievable, are they below myself. You can expect too much and you can expect too little. The issue is that folk don’t realise that they are like this. Aside from this, we need to be realistic to the fact that all the people in the world will have opinions and prefer different things about different people. What I am trying to learn is that I cannot measure how I feel about myself through the perceptions of other people. That makes no sense. By projecting other people’s opinions and being preoccupied with what other people want from me, I stifle myself.

So, remember Henry David Thoreau’s words:

“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I have not lived…I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow out of life.”

 

 

 

 

 

Contribute a verse…

O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
 
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
 
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
 
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
 
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
         
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
 
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
 
  
Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
 
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

– Walt Whitman

What Makes Language Fail

So, one thing that freaks me out is writing and letting people see that writing. Built up the courage to show a little something i’m working on. It’s got a lot left and I’m not sure how to build it up. More to come maybe… let me know any thoughts or advice!
Here goes:

A person can be absent even when you’re with them all the time. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him, it’s that. Absence. Maybe that word doesn’t work. It suggests a recognition of something missing. But it’s hard to know what you don’t have when you’ve never really had it.

When you live with someone who suffers from depression, anxiety and a dash of psychosis (for good measure), you live with a cloud: capable of variety whilst at the same time, being wholly unchanging. White and fluffy, fat and ready to burst, grey and ominous and then pop. It bursts and irrationality bleeds, gushes out. The problem with depression is that it isn’t rain. My metaphor fails. Rain stops, you see? Depression is difficult to quell because it is so human.

But how is one to react? I feel everything; emotion is infinite when dealing with this. Throughout my life I have refrained from speaking about what it’s like to have a dad who is mentally ill because people will not understand. It is almost impossible to communicate this experience and my hurt. Derrida says that there is nothing beyond language. Our thoughts and experiences are bounded by words. Derrida is wrong. Outside of language are certain things which defy language: emotion, depression, God for those who believe.
Language is limited. Terms like ‘depression’, ‘anxiety’ are now diagnoses, applied to people. We think that we’ve solved the problem because a word has been placed upon a person. All that’s happened is that a person is branded, labelled. What they experience is so much more.

He is my dad; I don’t want to call him dad. Yet, I ache with sadness to consider his weary, aberrant thoughts and his impregnable isolation.

Suck out all the marrow of life…

Little needs to be added to these amazing words from Thoreau’s Walden. This is real inspiration for life:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

O Me! O Life! – Graduation: time to ‘contribute a verse’…

In just over a weeks time I will be donning the cap, gown and brown hood signalling Bachelor of Arts. Before I arrived at university I longed to be in that academic powerhouse, surrounded by people who enjoyed the same things as I did and thought the same way I do. So, coming to the end of my undergraduate degree is a big deal.

Royal Holloway was not in my original UCAS application. It wasn’t until April that I applied and got in here. You could say it was my sixth choice… Regardless, I was pretty desperate at the time. But I think I got a good deal.

My three years at Royal Holloway have been amazing and challenging. You gain so much more than a degree; you learn so much more than your degree. I am so thankful for each and every person I have encountered here, friends, teachers, employers, and all the other people you just get to know. Each person helped make my experience just what it was.

It is now that is the scary part, leaving all this behind.

Founders Building, Royal Holloway, University of London
Founders Building, Royal Holloway, University of London

What I hope for, is that I, more than ever, relish life, opportunities and strive to always be the best version of myself, and to always, always, make a difference, in spite of the fact that the majority of things in my life are now about to change. Walt Whitman has some advice when we get to these points in our lives with lots of questioning and change.

O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

In times of uncertainty, remember to contribute the best verse you can.

Against the Structured Generation

This is so close to all the thoughts and annoyances I’ve been having, particularly as my degree finishes and I enter the world of work…

The 14th Floor

One of the unfortunate characteristics of our generation is that we have tended to live highly structured lives.  Those of us born in the 1980s, who spent their twenties in the transitional era of the early 2000s, amidst the violent cacophony of the two Bush Wars, have experienced at least some shared sense of structure to our lives.

The typical life of an upper-middle class son or daughter born in Canada during that generation would go something like this: a childhood spent in public schools, with no lack of activities in which to immerse oneself (soccer, piano, theater, etc.). Then high school hits, with its swirl of hormonal desire combined with the looming pressure of standardized tests. It is generally here that the adolescent learns the rhythms of capitalist work-time: school during the day, nights filled with study and ever more structured activities.

If the student is lucky he or…

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