Don’t delay being happy until the future. What can you do to be happy today? Right now?
Post by Kieran Slobodin, Vice-President (University Affairs) at Queen’s University, Kingston.
April has always been a month of renewal. The bright rays of the April sun are the first glimmer of hope after the doldrums of a dreary winter and turn our minds to rejuvenation. April is when our parks fill up and our porches become occupied full time. Yes, April is like a Star Wars sequel: A New Hope.
Unless you’re in fourth year, in which case it blows.
On the last day of classes my house threw a party. Thursday, April 5, last day of classes. Last day of undergrad. Perhaps the last day of classes for all time (screw you, Grad School!). All that week facebook statuses were popping up with ‘last class!’ or ‘last seminar’ or ‘last Alfie’s night of my undergrad!’ Everyone was ecstatic and some people invested more time creating Facebook groups than they actually spent in class those final four days. Like freed prisoners we celebrated that night.
Like four exams. And two final papers. And a film project. Literally no one was done anything and the extended weekend of Easter only helped perpetuate that lie. Like a dark hangover cloud fourth year students are starting to realize that they still have to buckle down one last time and study hard. Unless you were blessed with a shortened semester you are still resigned to one last study blitz. Perhaps you only wish to pass the course and only need 8% on that 40% weight final to get your pass. But most likely you’re going to be faced with the same dilemma you were your other seven exam periods: you didn’t go to class and you have no idea what the course is about.
When the hell did I sign for Ayn Rand and Postmodern Epistomology: A Comparative Review?! Photo credit: QuickMeme.
Bucket lists as a concept were first perpetuated by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as a way to cheat death. Or make the most out of life. One of those. A bucket list as portrayed in the movie is essentially just a macabre wish list. However, ever since the Bucket List, arguably Morgan Freeman’s worst movie after Evan Almighty, there has not been a more tired cliché for graduating students.
Groosfrabas. Photo credit: Blogspot.
Bucket lists symbolize a last push by panicking students to capture every memory they can of university. The thought is that with a year of dedicated effort you can achieve in your final year what you failed to do in your first three.
There’s a reason you never did any of your bucket list in the first 75% of your undergraduate career. Whether it’s because your list is too challenging or too much work, you quickly realize that trying to capture stave off your inevitable nostalgia is sadder than Madonna trying to stay relevant.
The problem is when you try and cram in three years of missed opportunity you forget what makes the stuff you DID do fun. The point of the university experiences that typically wind up on bucket lists is the story behind the accomplishment. When you reduce those stories down to a checklist they tend to lose all meaning.
As some of you may have noticed if you saw last week’s post, I took a litttle trip to Manchester last weekend. The following Monday I wrote a post about it which covered the gender-related conclusions, this week I want to talk more about why it’s important to go to these things whenever you can.
When I went to this conference, I didn’t really know what to expect or even how formal or informal it’s going to be. I went there with the expectation to learn something about the state of the music and media industries from the women that are actually in the thick of it, and at the same time see what they’re like and if I ever enter any of these arenas, what are the people I would likely be working for like. And I went to see if I could gather any information that would be useful for my dissertation on live music and heavy metal.
Turns out the conference was so relaxed you could easily approach the speakers after each panel, a golden opportunity for anyone who, like me, was looking to build contacts. It took some courage and the best opening lines I could muster to do it, but I went up to them. I introduced myself, I commented on the points made in the panel, I took and interest in their work. And I walked away with not one, but two interview arrangements for my dissertation research. We are now also connected through various social media, therefore I am on their radar for future opportunities and have a huge edge against most of the competition if I do apply for a job with any of them, simply because they’ve met me before.
Competitions are good, you get prizes and pretty CV material. But conferences give you the chance to make your presence known among the industry community, which WILL give you an edge and might even bring the job to you.
It’s time to put that natural charm to good use!
P.S.: Next weekend I’ll be attending another conference in London which lasts until Tuesday so the post should be out later the following week, but the delay should be well worth it.
So yesterday I attended Un-Convention’s Un-conventional Women event in Manchester’s awe-inspiring Victorian neo-gothic town hall (I have a wee bit of a soft spot for anything gothic). A fairly last minute decision since I was only told of the event a couple of days prior, and Manchester isn’t exactly in my general area. Nevertheless I grabbed a friend and off we went, almost unacceptably early on a Sunday morning.
It was awesome.
The main reason I decided to go to this convention/conference wasn’t to indulge some kind of feminist man-hate that these events have an unfortunate tendency to turn to. I was interested in learning about what the “state of the art” in the music and media industries is today, how do these influential figures in the music industry understand the age of digital music, and how can I work the situation to my advantage in what is very much a male-dominated industry. Another reason was a chance to network with the speakers and others in the industry to further my base of contacts.
It was very eye-opening just how little understanding of the relationship between music and the internet was demonstrated by some of the speakers. And what a fantastic opportunity this is for our generation to become the next great innovators in the music industry.
But mainly, I have to say, I was incredibly pleasantly surprised by the sheer presence of the speakers. Most of these were charismatic, no nonsense women. They have every bit the confidence to play with the boys, and they elegantly shot down all the characters that show up in these crowds to cry and whine about how “the boys make mean jokes” and are “insensitive”. Have you ever seen a bunch of guys hanging out together? They’re not exactly having a tea party and complementing each other’s hair. If you’re having to work with a bunch of guys, you need to learn how be one of them. I’m not talking visually, or about renouncing your femininity. But you can’t expect to walk in a room and everyone adapting to you just because you’re a girl, because let me tell you something, sweetie:
That is not equal treatment. That’s preferential treatment. And you’re nothing more and nothing less than every guy in the room.
Besides, from my experience, most of the time a girl’s biggest enemy in a male-dominated place is the other girl. Just something to think about.
I’ve still got a thing or two to say, so stay tuned for Part 2!
Here’s a question:
How many times have you looked at listings for jobs or internships or competitions or whatever else from the “I’m doing something with my life” basket that has stated being “creative” as a requirement, and actually understood what that meant?
If you actually tried to answer the question I’m betting about 99% of you choked on your own mental monologue at least once in the first few minutes. Many of you will go somewhere along the route of “it depends on the situation”.
And you’re right: it does depend on the situation/field/employer. But even more importantly:
Most of the time, employers don’t even know themselves.
Creativity has become one of business’ favourite buzz words. It takes the mind away from a dry, old-fashioned perception of something into a hip, fun, “anything is possible” world of both unprecedented achievement and caring. It implies personal development and an almost romantic view of what lies ahead. And it is directly linked to feelings of bitter disillusionment.
It is without much doubt one of the most devalued words in our dictionaries but nevertheless, it still represents something crucial to all of us – it represents pushing yourself to think and act beyond your own limits. Creativity, originality, and ingenuity. It reminds us to not become complacent in our routine, but to “think outside the box”.
And that’s really what employers in any situation are looking for when they say they are looking for someone “creative”. They are looking for the individuals who are open-minded and motivated enough not to become complacent in their work routine, and see and take advantage of the opportunities that can lead to great things.
And I think that’s a little something we all can write on a post-it and stick on our desks.
Have a great week!
P.S. Follow me on Twitter @Martholio for more musings, event info and general silliness!
“One cannot manage too many affairs: like pumpkins in the water, one pops up while you try to hold down the other.”- Chinese Proverb
The deadline looms nearer and nearer and here I am, sitting in front of the computer, staring at my screen with an expression that could be described as void with a subtle hint of desperation. Indeed, this has been a ritual for a number of days now as I attempt to offer a work of my great knowledge of intellectual property law to the scrutiny of the panel of professors and external markers, but cannot produce said work in the required physical form.
In other words, I’ve got an essay due and I just can’t squeeze the words out of my brain. Your faithful blogger, my friends, is suffering from writer’s block.
In fact, I’m suffering such writer’s block I decided to write about it because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about this week.
My usual remedy is to go do something completely unrelated for a few hours and come back with a fresher mind, in the hope that I’ll see things from a better (more writable) perspective. This time it turned into spending hours on Facebook, YouTube, 9GAG and BBC iPlayer. And driving my friends nuts with floods of posts.
Other times I try brainstorming ideas, concepts or characteristics of/around the issues I’m supposed to discuss. Usually this gives me at least a couple of ideas I can begin expanding on. This time, nothing. I can only hope to get out of this funk and actually write something before the deadline.
So now I ask you, my darling readers. What do you do when you have writer’s block? Post your suggestions in the comments below!
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.”
- Thomas Jefferson
“You can lead a boy to college, but you can’t make him think.”