Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith

Life is for living. I want to live the life that when I am on my deathbed, I will have no regrets. No what-ifs. No if only’s. None of that. But sometimes you get scared. You want to settle. Settle into normal life. Be complacent.

And last week I had that moment. Last Thursday I got a phone-call offering me a job back in Dublin (where I am from) with a good enough firm doing a good enough job. And how did I react. Well I was happy that I had options, but the thought of taking the job made me want to die inside. The security made me happy. The thought of returning to Dublin and finding an apartment and living there for the rest of my life made me want to give up on my life. But what other choice did I have? I had no job. No place to live. Nothing.

And then I rang my brother and told him the news. He was happy but (obviously sensing my lack of enthusiasm) asked me if this is what I really wanted? Was this my dream? And hell no. I knew it wasn’t my dream. But aren’t grown ups supposed to stop chasing their dreams? Aren’t we supposed to settle? Realise that that is what our dreams were. Simply dreams?

I told him what I thought my dream was – to work in an NGO. To do something good. As cringey as it sounds to make a difference. And you know what he told me to go for it.

Why go for it? Well I am in the lucky position that I am still rather young and have zero responsibilities (bar myself). I have no student debt, no loans, no accommodation, no significant other, no job. I have just me. And I can do anything and go anywhere (within reason, my family would probably not be too fond of me leaving Europe). But essentially I am free to do as I wish as long as I can afford it.

So with this in mind, I decided I was moving to Brussels. The city which has the work I want to pursue. The city that is saturated with NGO’s. And with this goal in mind. I booked my flights, found a part-time internship, found possible employment with a pub, and have a place sorted to live. Is it going to be easy? No probably not. Is it going to be worth it? I hope so. But I know one thing for sure. If I don’t see this dream through, or even see if there is a possibility of this dream working, I will regret it on my deathbed.

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and dive in.

Stop netflixing your life away

Netflix. Such a great invention. The ability to access millions of movies and series at the press of a button. Even better now that you don’t have to change for a new episode, it just continuously runs.

I recently made the brave move to delete my Netflix. Why you ask? Well, Netflix is a distraction. It distracts us from our goals, from our vision, from what we want to achieve in life. This may sounds extreme, but think about it. See the below infographic as provided by the Business Insider:

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Here we can see how long it takes to watch an entire series. I have spent hours upon hours watching series after series and I kid you not, some series three times (Gossip Girl in case you were wondering). With this knowledge I decided to do a little calculation. Using this website ‘The Binge Clock’,  I could calculate how many hours I have spent watching Gossip Girl. Well, the truth is, I have spent over two weeks of my life watching Gossip Girl. TWO WEEKS. Lets put that in perspective:

15 days 3 hours = 363 hours

363 hours could have been better spent:

-> Going to the gym every day for a year (and would still have an extra 7 hours);

-> Sleeping more (I am constantly giving out about how little I sleep and how tired I am);

-> Taking up a new hobby such as learning to play the flute, or learning a new language;

-> spending more time with friends or family by giving them a call;

-> working on your side hustle.

But why do we watch it? I think one of the main enjoyments I derive from watching Netflix or any other sort of television series provider is the ability to live vicariously through the lives of others. Take Gossip Girl for example, I get to get a glimpse into the elite world of Manhattan socialites that I would never otherwise be allowed into. And this luxury makes me forget for a second (or for forty minutes) all my problems and brings me into this world of luxury where I almost believe, I am part of that world. Furthermore it is a distraction, a distraction from my current worries and problems, a way to ignore my issues and pretend everything is fine. Netflixing our weekends away is a modern-day phenomenon which is leading people to numb their lives by distracting themselves from their problems and not leading the life they could live.

 

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Now this article is not meant to make any one cold-turkey themselves from Netflix, but just to highlight the amount of time that is wasted on Netflix which could be used far more productively. There is a lot of good to be said for watching series as it is a great way to shut off for a while, but the bring home message of this article is to simply be aware of the tiem you are spending Netflixing especially if you are complaining about not having enoug time to do things.

Growing up: The realisation you are an adult

This moment may come as a startling realisation to some or as a series of small realisations to others. To me, it was a mixture of the both. Moving out of home into my student residence, I had the realisation that I was growing up, moving to a foreign country – growing up, becoming financial responsible for myself – growing up, booking my first doctor’s appointment –growing up, getting my first ‘real adult job’ –growing up. 

But today, I was faced with the realisation that I am now actually an adult. No quotes around the word adult, no use of the verb ‘adulting’ which I aways used to suggest that this was a temporary phase, I was not an adult, I was just currently being an adult for the purpose at hand. But today, I realised, I am an adult.

This realisation came to me today as I was in my bed, off from work sick and I got a phone call from a headhunter asking me if I was interested in a new job. For this job, I would be paid significantly more, would be using my linguistic as well as legal skills but would be required to relocate leaving a city I love and a job with a very good law firm. When I got off the phone, I thought of who should I ask for advice? And that is when I realised, this is my decision. No matter what anyone says, this is my life and it is up to me to take full responsibility for it. And that my friends, is being an adult. Having the freedom to do exactly what you want, but also having to take all the shit that comes along with it.

What I learned when my mom died

A lot of people have that aha moment. That moment of clarity where you realise how fragile life truly is and how pointless 99% of the things you do in your life are. My aha moment was when my Mom got diagnosed with cancer. She died shortly afterwards (and by shortly, I am talking weeks).

The greatest lesson I took from her death was to stop waiting. She always was waiting. Waiting until she had more money. Waiting until we went to South Africa. Waiting until I went to go to university. Waiting until I left university. She lived in the future never fully appreciating the present. Perhaps the reason for this was that her present was too harsh a reality for her to live in, and therefore she chose to live in this fairytale future. Who knows. I will never know.

But we all have to stop waiting. I see it with my friends. I see it with my family. And worst of all, I see it with myself. I wake up in the morning and I cannot wait until the day is over. Its a Tuesday today, and god I cannot wait for it to be the weekend. In two and a half weeks I go to South Africa and I feel myself counting it down. My brother is worse, he cannot wait until he retires. Its all he talks about. Sometimes I stop. I hit pause on the treadmill of life, and I sit there and I realise is this it. Is this what life is, a series of shitty days which you endure in order to get to the day you have been waiting for, be it Friday, Christmas, holidays, retirement etc. Thats not good enough. I do not want to wait. I want everyday to be a day that imbues me with such joy that I truly am in the moment. 

I want to stop putting off all those things I said I would do like go pole-dancing, read books, date, travel, have fun. Stop making excuses and waiting for fun things to happen, and just do them now.

I think my brother put it best when he wrote on the day my mom died:

“What I can take from this is you have to do the things you talk of now. Cause later might not come. So kiss that girl on the first date, tell your wife how beautiful she looks, buy that puppy and have the baby girl you always talk about. Tomorrow I will continue with my life and make every day one to remember. As for the rest of you. Go hug your mom.”

 

 

Budgeting 101

Saving money, having money, watching my money is something I struggle with. I developed some weird habits with money from being dirt poor in uni. I would always pay everything off that needed to be paid and then I would spend the remainder of my income on whatever I wanted. Sounds like a good plan? Well, yes back when I had very little surplus income, it was a great plan. However, now that I have joined the adult world, I need to figure out how to deal with my money like an adult and that means budgeting. Below is the strategy I am using so far:

  1. Write down a list of your income on the one side of the page, and on the other side of the page your expenditure. So for example for income, it would be pocket-money, grants, salary etc and for expenditure, it would be food, rent, phone bills, clothes, socialising etc.
  2. 50/30/20: The 50/30/20 rule states keep 50% of your income for necessary things e.g. rent, food etc. Save 30% and spend 20% on fun things. Look at your own spending habits and see how fitting your own spending habits are to this model, and try make them look like that. For example:

Say Joan earns 2000 euro a month. 1000 euro goes towards all her necessary expenses such as her phone bill, her rent, her grocery bills etc. She then has 1000 euro left over, 600 euro she puts away for savings. She then has 400 euro for fun things. This can cover going out with friends, going on holidays, buying new clothes, getting your hair done etc.

3. Now that you have your plan of how you want to spend your money, use this plan. As soon as you get your income in every month, try pay off your pressing expenses such as your rent, credit card etc and set up a direct debit to pull your money into a savings account before you have a chance to spend it.

4. Another thing I have started doing recently is making a note on my phone whenever I spend money and a rough idea what I spend it on. I have only been doing this for the month of February but I am already shocked at how much the little things at up and can see very quickly where all my money is going.

5. Every two weeks, check how you are doing. Check your notes to see how much you have spent and see if you are on target. If you are not on target, learn to pull back a bit. If you are on target, rejoice and use some of the fun money to buy yourself something cute or go out to the movies with friends etc.

So there you have it, make a plan with your money.