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Struggling student? Ways to earn money (part-time)

Many students wish they had more money in a month, to actually buy the things they want (and not have to stare at people who are holding the...

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Motivational: Follow your dreams no matter what

We all have a dream. My dream is to land a deal with a recognisable publishing house, to either have my blogs published into books, or to write my own works of fiction with characters I have created years ago in my mind. 

The problem is however that most of us give up on our dreams somewhere along the line. This is mainly due to the influence of others (see my article titled The influence of others can make you or break you), but it is also often due to our own devices. 


The problem being that we simply don't believe our dreams will ever be a reality. If we did, we wouldn't even let the disparaging words of others faze us. We would march on like soldiers until we reached our ultimate destination.... Our one true goal. 


I too let myself give up on my dreams for a while, believing they would never be in reach or that I would never be good enough at writing to even be able to create one successful blog. Now, less than a year later, here I am, with four blogs and a steady, supportive following of regular readers. 


All I did was allow myself to believe again. I realised that without our dreams we have no real purpose or goal to work towards. What is the point to life then really? I also realised that the worst thing that could happen is that I could fail miserably in the end. So what? Failing wouldn't kill me, it would just mean I had the guts to reach for something I have always wanted. Win or lose, at least I am trying (see the following article Motivational: Don't let the fear of failure or success, pull you down).

I am not only following my dreams, but I have also left a career that gave me no pleasure and studies (Education/Teaching Degree) that bored me to death. I took a risk and I am not sorry. 


The world is full of famous people who followed their dreams and found success against all odds. The reason for this being they never gave up hope. They never gave up believing. They never gave up on their dreams. People such as Beverly Donofrio, Oprah Winfrey and Chris Gardner to name but a few. Even hardships did not stand in their way, which just goes the show the power that having a dream holds. All we have to do is to keep following it no matter what.

xxxxxxx


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Finding out you are pregnant whilst still in College/University

You are sitting in class, trying to take notes, but you just cannot get yourself to focus. The minutes tick on and feel like hours, until finally your classes for the day are over. You drive back to your dorm, anxious to get the undesirable task over and done with, however when you reach home, you find every excuse not to do what is needed.

Eventually you cannot take the suspense any longer and you just bite the bullet and do it. Again the minutes drag on. Finally it is time to read the results. You feel like throwing up as the tears roll down your face. Two blue lines. You are pregnant........

The above scenario happens to so many young girls between the ages of 15 and 22 on a daily basis, yet it is a topic so many avoid discussing or thinking about.

Unplanned pregnancies are a reality and unless you are practising complete sexual abstinence, you are at risk.

What many young women (and men) don't realise is that no method of contraception is 100% safe and effective. There are many reported cases annually of unplanned pregnancies which are a result of either failed or incorrectly used contraceptive methods. Even doing an internet search regarding the topic, will produce quite a few stories written by real women/men this happened to.

In fact, when I was in high school and College, I knew of at least four cases in which girls, who were taking the contraceptive pill, got pregnant. They swore they took their pills religiously, however this is something I cannot vouch for. All I know for certain is that they were in total shock and disbelief when they found out they were pregnant, since until that point in time, they were certain that it couldn't happen to them, because they were being "completely safe".

So just how does one deal with an unplanned pregnancy, when you are still in school/university? The first step, although it sounds like a cliché, is really to remain calm and not to do anything irrational. Remind yourself that you are not the first person in the world this has happened to. Many have found themselves in the same scenario since the beginning of time, and it really is not a death sentence. 

Then, once you are calm and collected you can begin to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How do I really feel about abortion?
2. How do I feel about adoption?
3. Can I see myself carrying a baby to term? 
4. How would pregnancy/ a baby affect my schooling/studies?
5. How do I break the news to my parents?

Points/questions 4 and 5 are ones I can offer some guidance on. Points 1 to 3 are based on your own personal feelings and are choices/decisions only you can make for yourself. Just make sure that the choices you make are ones you will be able to live with. If you have any doubts, rethink your initial decisions very carefully. Don't be rash and take your time in thinking things through properly. 

Question/point 4 asked, "How would pregnancy/ a baby affect my schooling/studies?" Well that depends on a few factors. For instance, say you decide to carry the baby to term and then give it up for adoption and your parents support you in your decision. You can then temporarily leave school/ your studies for the duration of your pregnancy and return again once everything is over. This will however set you back at least a year. Alternatively you could stay in school until your due date and then return again within a week or two after giving birth, which wouldn't set you back that much. Just bear in mind that both scenarios carry the risk of postpartum depression and depression caused by the loss created by giving up your child. I honestly recommend an open adoption for those young moms who find adoption to be their best solution. This way you still get to be a part of your child's life. 

Another scenario could be that you decide to keep your baby and your parents support your decision. In this instance you could either leave school for nine months or stay for the duration of your pregnancy (as the scenario above) however, after the birth of your child things are going to become a bit more complicated. You would then either have to leave school in order to raise your child until he/she reaches school readiness age, upon which you will be able to return to school again, or you would have to place your child in day-care (which would not be financially possible without the assistance of your parents), or in the care of one of your parents (if both your parents aren't employed outside of the home) or grandparents. Think carefully about all this and do not be selfish in your decisions (think of everyone involved - including your parents and unborn child - and how your choices will affect them).

The worst scenario would be that your parents decide to cut you off once finding out about your pregnancy (whether you decide to keep the baby or give it up for adoption). In this instance I would advise you to seek refuge in a home/sanctuary for unwed/young mothers, and to seek financial aid in the form of a "single mothers' scholarship/bursary". Information regarding both can be found by doing an internet search. 

As for question/point 5, "How do I break the news to my parents?" This would depend largely on the types of parents you have. If your parents are very strict and display the characteristics of being authoritarian in nature then I suggest speaking to them with the help of a school guidance counsellor or psychologist by your side. 

If you parents are more open, easy going and permissive in nature, I suggest you just sit them down one evening and say something in the lines of the following; "Mom, dad, I love you very much and I will always be your daughter no matter what, so please do not be angry with me when I tell you something that has been eating me up inside for days now. I am pregnant and I am sorry. Nothing I can say or do can change this fact. What's done is done and I cannot just make it go away. Please forgive me, and please help me". 

And with that I have come to the end of this posting. On a final note I would like to add that the internet is full of resources and help for young pregnant women, so spend some time reading through some of these. 

Take care and remember, a few minutes of passion are not worth giving up your youth over.


xxxxxxx

Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to tell your parents you plan on quitting college/university

As I have stated in previous blog postings, many people take up their studies just to keep their parents happy. Grandpa became a surgeon, daddy followed in his footsteps and therefore it is expected of Sonny to do exactly the same thing.

But, what if Sonny decides to do his own thing? Live his own life? How can he get out of the great big mess his family has placed him in? How can he be free without disappointing everyone around him? Many people believe this to be an impossible feat and that is why we find so many people today that are miserable in their professions.



It is true that telling your parents you wish to quit studying (or that you wish to change your field of study to something you actually enjoy), won't be an easy task, but if approached/handled in the correct way it is not an undo-able one.

The first step would be to compile a list of reasons why college/university studies are not necessary for everyone in life to make a success (whilst also listing examples of such people who made a resounding success of their lives, without any formal education/training - Google search can help you with this). 



Then the next step would be to compile a list of reasons why studying is not right for you personally. Once you have both lists it is time to plan the event in which you will be discussing your choice with your parents. This does not have to be an elaborate affair and should just be something simple (and private) such as a meal by either your home, or your parent's abode. Privacy and intimacy is key here, since you can never be 100% sure what their initial shock reaction is going to be like. Don't let this scare you though since around 70% of parents tend to take the news extremely well once it is initially broken to them, and even if your parents fall into the 30% category of parents that totally lose it, you are their child whom they love and eventually they will come around to the idea - Remember, once a wound is exposed it can begin to heal. 


When the "breaking the news to my parents" day/event arrives, start off by explaining to your parents that you have thought long and hard about your decision and in the end you realised that quitting will be better for you. Explain to them that it will be a waste of their money (or your scholarship providers money) if you continue because you do not have a passion for what you are doing and therefore you are most certain you won't be able to make a success out of it one day as a career because of this reason. Go on to remind them that life is short and it does not help wasting valuable time on something if it makes you miserable. Then read them the list of reasons why studying is not right for you personally and the list of reasons why studying is not necessary for everyone in life to make a success. Once done you can finish off by naming the names of around fifty highly successful people who don't have any formal education or training (which you compiled earlier using Google). To completely round off the topic/conversation you could add something in the lines of; "Success comes from hard work and not academic training. If you enjoy something and are therefore compelled to work hard at it, you are more likely to make a success out of it than if you pursue something you hate and find no enjoyment in". 

Your parents are bound to have a lot to say to you at his point but whichever way it goes just remember that after this whole dreaded discussion with them is over, you can begin to get your life back and the worst will be behind you. Don't feel discouraged if they (your parents) try and retaliate by threatening to make you pay them back for the money's they have already paid or worse, if they threaten to disown you. 85% of the time this is just the initial shock kicking in and in a few weeks they will recant their "threats/decisions". My advice to you for the 15% of cases where this doesn't happen is this - You have one life to live. You have to ultimately live it for yourself and not for others. Time wasted is time you can never get back and if people can't accept your choices and wish to cut you off due to them, then so be it, even if these people are your parents. If they truly love you, they will come around eventually. They had their lives and made their choices. Now is the time for them to trust you to make decisions for yourself as an adult who is over the age of 18. If you are forced to pay them their money back, then do it with pride, even if it takes you years to do this, at least you will have the knowledge that you don't owe anyone for anything and that your actions did not have an effect on anyone but yourself. 


With this all being said, quitting is not a decision to be taken lightly. Be very sure about your actions before taking them. Take at least a semester to think about it long and hard and then only quit if your feelings have stayed the same all the time. If you have any doubts, rather make an appointment with a student counsellor or join a student support group to see if you cannot resolve any of your issues that way first. Many students tend to quit due to feeling overwhelmed or when they are battling to cope. They then convince themselves the real reason for quitting is due to them not having a like or a passion for what they are doing, or simply that university/college is not for them. Be 100% sure of your reasons and also be sure of how you are going to feel once you have quit. If you feel you are going to have any type of regrets, then maybe you are being too hasty. 

Take care and good luck in your choices. I hope my suggestions can help some of you out there. 

P.S - If anyone has any stories to share with us regarding how they told their parents they were going to quit, pls share these with us in the comments section, as I am sure many students will find help in these. 


**********************

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Suicide is not the answer

As the title of the post says/reads, suicide is truly never the answer. There is nothing in this world that cannot be fixed or healed providing you are prepared to fix or heal that which needs fixing or healing.


Even if you are suffering from depression or you have a Bipolar disorder, suicide is not an easy way out. Killing yourself solves nothing. When you are really low or when you feel like your problems are so humongous that the only way out is death, think again, think about your loved ones, think about what you would be putting them through. This should bring you back to reality.


Even if you feel nothing for yourself anymore (at that moment in time), think about everyone out there that loves you and that you love back. Would you want to see your parents suffering? Of course you wouldn't and if you kill yourself you would be subjecting them (as well as your other loved ones) to the worst suffering imaginable. This knowledge alone should be enough reason to seek help for whatever it is that you are going through.

When you are overwhelmed by your problems and/or you are terribly down/depressed, tell yourself that this feeling is just temporary. Nothing can last forever, including stress, fear, depressed moods or whatever it is that you are going through at that specific moment in time.

Seek help and don't suffer in silence. Depression, bipolar disorder, fear, panic etc. is nothing to be ashamed of. More and more people suffer from depression each year and suicide rates are increasing at an alarmingly steady pace (according to statistics). Ask yourself truly, do you want to be part of that statistic? Remind yourself of the happy times, of how good you felt whilst doing something you truly enjoyed. Pull yourself out from that dark place you are creeping into, and if you find that this is too difficult for you, reach out to someone, anyone, before it is too late.



I know at least 50 people who have either tried to commit  suicide or thought about it at some point in their lives. All of them say the same thing now though, and that is that they cannot believe how close they came to making a huge, permanent and devastating mistake. All of them have found happiness and are in a happy place in their psyche today.

One particular case/person was a teacher I had in college (whose permission I have to retell her story with the intent to help others). She was a victim of rape when she was a teenage girl. Instead of confiding in her parents and/or her closest friends, she kept the secret to herself in fear of what others might think of her. She held it in for years until it consumed her entire being. She couldn't eat or sleep and she began to feel that life would never be the same again and that she would never be able to live with the memory of what happened to her. Suicide became her only choice. Her only way to have peace. Her only way out.


She planned her self-destruction/demise very carefully. For months she started stealing and hiding a few of her mothers sleeping pills in a sock in her cupboard. Finally, when she felt she had enough she waited patiently for an evening that her parents would be out for at least a few hours. When the evening came she made sure that she told everyone (her parents and friends) that she would be going to bed early, as she had an upset stomach and wasn't feeling too well. She requested no one to call her awake on the phone.

Her parents left. She placed the letters of farewell she wrote to/for everyone dear to her on the dining room table, went into the bathroom, poured a bath, drank all the sleeping pills and then climbed into the tub. She waited patiently. For quite a while she felt nothing.

Then all of a sudden it started to happen. She started to feel her brain and functioning slowing down. It was the weirdest and scariest feeling she ever felt. "Why am I not just falling asleep like I see on the t.v?", she thought. She began to panic, but she couldn't do anything, she couldn't move. It was horrendous and nothing like she expected it to be. She asked herself, "what the hell am I doing?" She realised that she wanted to live and that her ordeal seemed so meagre now in relation to the fear she was currently experiencing. She knew she was dying but she couldn't scream... She blacked out....

Then, she could see a sharp light. She heard voices around her. She managed to open her eyes. She could barely make out the face of a man. After a while she recognised his voice. It was her doctor. She could hear him telling her mother (whose crying voice was echoing in the room), that all they could do now is wait to see if she lived or died since they did all they could on their side (by pumping her stomach out etc.). She felt the overwhelming fear of dying return, just before she blacked out again........

Needless to say she made it out alive (or else she wouldn't have been able to tell us this story as her students). She got lucky. Her mother broke the strap on her shoe and went home to change her footwear. That is the only reason she (my teacher) was still alive today. Her mom found her just in time and even then her chance of survival was around 50/50.

She had a major wake up call during her suicide attempt and got the help she needed as soon as she had recovered enough

She learnt to live with what happened to her and realised that it was in the past and that it could only effect her future if she kept dwelling on it. It wasn't the end of the world. She had a second chance at life. Her attempt at suicide taught her just how valuable life is and how much she really wanted to live. She started to enjoy her life, went to university, got her degree, fell in love, got married and had three beautiful daughters. The mere thought of what she attempted to do to herself seems so unreal to her now.



If you are someone who is contemplating suicide please let all I have said above sink in. Your life is precious even if you don't feel that way right now. Please get the help you need, or even just reach out to someone.

 I know that in this age of technology people are very out of touch with each other (which in my opinion is also to blame for many suicides since so many feel alone). but there is always someone who will listen, whether it be one of your parents, or siblings, your minister/priest, varsity counsellor or even just a friend.



Here is a list of online suicide prevention chats (help-line chats) that you can access via a VPN if you feel you would prefer to remain completely anonymous, and other suicide resources such as international suicide hotline telephone numbers:


Suicide Prevention Chats (Worldwide)

International Association For Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Unsuicide

International Suicide Hotlines List

I want to close in saying that life is precious and that each and every single one of us are amazing and special.

With that said, remember these words: Whatever is upsetting you won't last forever (unless you force it), but suicide is final.


******************************

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Forty great essay (composition) topic ideas

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Good old essays (compositions). We had to write them in school and now (in more volume's than ever), we have to write them in university/college. 

I never really minded writing essays, however, I hated coming up with topics to write about, when none were given. That is why I thought you (my readers), would appreciate a nice little list of "not so common" essay topics, for each of the four main types of essays you have to write in varsity/college. 

Here is the list:

Descriptive Essays - (essays that describe something - paint a mental picture)

1) My favourite places/destinations in the world (and why they are my favourite/s)
2) My favourite foods or different food flavours (and how they compliment each other)
3) What I look for in a potential boyfriend/girlfriend (looks wise, personality wise, style wise etc.)
4) What I look like to myself, when I look in the mirror (face and body)
5) The ugliest dog (or other animal) I have ever seen
6) What my dream house will/should look like one day
7) How I would change the world (if I could change anything and/or everything about it)



Argumentative and Persuasive Essays - (essays meant to persuade or convince others)

1) Why extreme dieting is bad for you
2) Why marijuana should be/shouldn't be legalised
3) Why my favourite (presidential) candidate should win
4) Why rapists should receive life sentences
5) Being a vegetarian is better than eating meat
6) Abstinence is the only real "safe sex"

Narrative Essays - (essays that tell a story about an experience or that reveal stages in a plot)

1) My first day/week at university/college
2) The first time I went to a party/my first date
3) What happened on my worst date ever (NB: Keep it clean!)
4) The best day of my life (so far)
5) The worst day of my life (so far)
6) My best Christmas/holiday

Expository Essays - (essays that investigate and explain/describe facts)

1) Events that took place during 911, World War 1, Word War 2 and/or The Great Depression
2) Why global warning is taking place/happening
3) Factors that caused/contributed towards, the hole in the ozone layer
4) Why too much sugar is bad for you
5) How and why smoking cigarettes causes cancer
6) The causes and effects of acid rain



Sometimes we are given a broad topic we are meant to write an essay of our choosing about. Since this can also be daunting, here is a list of some of the popular topics you might be given, with ideas of subtopics you can write about:  

Education
1. Problems in the current education system
2. The value of education
3. Self education versus university/college
4. Special education needs
5. What having an education means to me

Environment
1. The value of our oceans
2. The importance of animal and/or nature conservancy
3. Pollution: Causes of pollution and/or the effects of pollution
4. Global warming
5. Lesser known exotic plants and/or animals

Politics
1. Why do we have to pay so much tax?
2. What does it mean to be president?
3. What are the duties of a president?
4. Do we really need a government and/or why we need a government
5. The value of affirmative action

And that is that. I hope you will find some of the given topics useful the next time you need to write an essay/composition. 


Take care and happy writing
xxxxxxx