London – Day 4: Around the Hostel

Tuesday – today I tried the shower at the hostel after 3 days of not trying the shower for fear of it being cold or germy or cold – I hate cold showers! Well it was hot so at least that’s something! Especially with staying here a month, cold showers would be unbearable. But the shower only has one button which ominously has a “cold” blue button and you have to keep pressing it every 3 seconds to keep the water flowing which is annoying AF. And it was germy and awkward cuz there’s no where to put your stuff while you shower except outside the shower where it may disappear and 50 people used it before you went in there.

I notice there are many long-termers here. It’s so common that when I checked in for the maximum 30 days the guy on reception asked me to let him know early if I planned to staying longer. Some people seriously “live” here. As hostels go its not bad – near a tube station, curtains on the beds (bunk beds), ok bathroom (even if it’s a mile away from the bedroom) and people leave me alone. But it’s not a home, it feels like a refugee camp.

If I can stick this out I intend to stay other places – a new hostel every month – because… there may be somewhere better and its more interesting to move around but I would consider returning here at some point. My main goal right now is to make it through the week. We do a different module each day at university so I don’t really know what to expect at this point and that uncertainty is fuelling my anxiety. If I get through the week I need to get registered with a GP to get more meds for my anxiety and get counselling – although the though of doing those things fills me with anxiety.

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London – Day 3: Doctors & 1st Class

Well today I went to the walk in centre to get help for my anxiety cause I couldn’t even function like that anymore. They did some checks like blood pressure, temperature and stabbed my finger with a needle – ouch! – to check blood sugar. Everything physical checked out fine from those tests.

The doc would only give me a low dose of betablockers to help cope – and only 7 days worth. Tight or what? Problem with having social anxiety is I tend to be reserved so I guess a doc doesn’t believe how bad my panic attacks can be. I could have done with something a bit stronger because I’m having to take a few to feel ok.

I have to get registered with a GP down here soon because I NEED to stay on these meds. But I don’t have a proper address yet so… I don’t know how to work around that…. Some people say meds aren’t good but I’ve suffered with anxiety med-free my whole life and you know… sometimes meds are necessary. All this mindfulness crap… well I’ve tried that to death. When you’re really bad, its not enough (not for me anyway). I’m tired of feeling this way. Other people get proper meds so they can live normally, why can’t I?! I’m tired of having to fight all the time to be taken seriously.

Anyway I had my first class today, in the afternoon. Just as well I went the walk in centre early (8am) ’cause I was there 3 or 4 hours! I waited forever just at the pharmacy… not even a queue, but they were slow AF like they were making the meds from scratch themselves.

Anyway this lesson was good in a lot of ways ’cause I could sit at the back and was mainly anonymous and invisible which is perfection right now with my anxiety issues. Most of the time is spent independently coding so that’s good. Only downside is I find a lot of the tasks hard ’cause I suck at math.

I feel super lonely here (in London) because nothing is familiar and I  have no cats to cuddle and make everything better.

London: Day 1 – Anxiety!

This is “the first day of the rest of my life” so people tell me. I’m heading to London from the North of England to do a Masters degree in Computer Science. Because of finances (I’m broke), I will be indefinitely staying in youth hostels where I’ll have to share dorm rooms with around 30 other people.

*trigger warning: post discusses triggers of anxiety and panic attacks

I’m not very enthusiastic. about anything anymore. In my 20s, everything was exciting. Now in my 30s, the opposite. People say that can happen with depression and/or anxiety but I think its just because I’m getting older. I still keep thinking as if I’m in my 20s lie, “Yeah, I’ll go to London and do a masters degree!!!” In my 20s, that would have been sooo much fuuunnnn!!! But, in my 30s, I feel mentally and physically ill equipped for such “fun”. I guess there’s still a remnant from my 20s which causes me to do these crazy things.

I have social anxiety and depression. My anxiety levels have been higher than ever in the weeks leading up to this journey. Everything scares me: people scare me, flocks of pigeons scare me, the London underground definitely scares me. It’s so hot and so noisy, it’s like screaming banshees are surrounding the train! I am trying numerous things to combat this anxiety (except proper therapy and drugs… but I may get to those soon if this carries on) but nothing is working well enough.

I’m like a time bomb, unable to control my own mind and body. I feels so fragile knowing I can’t trust my own self to stay conscious and calm. At any given time I can go from “ok” to very not ok and I have no idea when/where. It is a horrible feeling. I also feel very alone because I don’t know anyone in London. As an introvert with social anxiety, I usually try to avoid people (even more so since this recent situation!) but right now I wish I had a friend to talk to.

Changes

I’m gonna to be taking a break from this blog for a while. As an introvert/socially anxious person, I feel kinda overwhelmed running 3 blogs! Not that I have to run three blogs but my teaching blog is good for my development as a teacher, my coding blog is good for my future computer science course and unfortunately that leaves this one being the least “essential”. I don’t feel I know what to do with it anyway, it’s kinda random, lol. There’s nothing wrong with random but I don’t feel I always show my best side here, I do rant and rave quite a lot and I think what my friends would say if they came across here (eek!). Sometimes it’s good to let off steam but, even on the internet, it seems these days there’s nowhere to hide!

Anyway, I intend to resurrect this blog, possibly under a new title once I move to London and will use it to document my experiences there. But that is a couple of months off so if any of you reading this follow me, I’ll understand if you’re not following me when I come back. I’ll still pop in here and there to see what everyone else is up to and I wish you all wonderful experiences and lots of exciting adventures.

Aliquo xx

Thoughts About London… and A Guy

In September I head to London to do my Masters degree but I’m really nervous about going. I don’t know if it’s the right decision. Already in life, I’ve made so many mistakes – I can’t afford to make more! Unfortunately we don’t always know what the right path is. Life doesn’t necessarily give us a clue, there aren’t always big, glowing “right way!” signs to stop us making stupid, irreversible mistakes.

I’ve always wanted to live in London – not forever, just long enough to say I was there. And this year is really my only opportunity to do that… I just worry. Because I have limited finances, I’m technically going to be homeless in the big city. But really that would apply anywhere. And I can’t stay where I am now, that’s not an option. I have to move somewhere, it may as well be London.

But I worry…
What if I fail my Masters course and end up financially and emotionally broke with nothing to show for it?

What if I hate the basic accommodation I’m gonna be sharing with 50 other people and I go insane?

What if I don’t make any friends and remain lonely?

What if I can’t find work to find around my studies?

What if I burn out from trying to work and study?

What if this path eventually leads me to being a broke, old, crazy cat lady who lives in a shed and tells people “That was the moment I ruined my life!”?megcrying:gulp:

What if I never meet anyone like… him… again?

I threw away a sort of great beginning with a guy to do this move. Now, to be honest, I have no idea what his long-term plans were and whether they involved me. He was really sketchy about things – which is probably a clue that no, I was not a part of his plans. But I wish I hadn’t dropped the “moving to London” bomb on him so soon, maybe he took that the wrong way like I didn’t want him in my life.

I have a lot of unanswered questions about him which will forever remain unanswered. I’d never felt so much for a guy, I was so protective of him – not jealous, I mean I cared about his well-being (whereas my other boyfriends I used to silently wish would choke on their food).

I don’t think I’ll ever see him again. Maybe that’s good. Maybe he was an asshole in disguise. Maybe he would have ruined my life. I mean would I really have wanted to be his wife and live with him in Punxsutawny, Pissville forever? Cause I know he wasn’t geographically adventurous like me and I know his views on women were kinda “traditional”. Ahh, I don’t know. And I’ll never know.

And that’s another thing that’s got me worried. Did I just throw away the best thing that had ever happened to me cause of some stupid dream of being a computer scientist in London? Am I crazy? Or am I actually not crazy at all and doing exactly what I’m supposed to do?

Maybe THIS is the path that leads to true enlightenment and I’ll find myself a happy, loved old lady telling people, “That was the best decision I ever made!”

I have no freaking idea! And it’s driving me crazy! I need a sign, dammit!

Roughly a year from today, I’m either gonna be graduating from my Masters and feeling pretty good about the future… or I’m gonna be fucked! It’s really a coin toss right now…

 

Dating In Your 30s

Sometimes I wonder whether I’m ever gonna meet a guy, before it’s too late…

Everywhere I look, I see couples loved up and making memories together. Every gal I know is perpetually in a relationship and they get to have all those lovely dating experiences like going to the movies, having dinner in a romantic restaurant, trips to the fairground, romantic holidays abroad, or even just cuddling up on the sofa – all that nice relationship stuff that you miss out on when you’re single.

And here’s me sat at a computer with messy hair, eating a massive bowl of cereal, realizing that the only long-term committed relationship I’ve ever been in is with my laptop computer. Well hey, at least it’s reliable!

I mean, I’ve dated more guys than I wish to remember. But most of my relationships don’t last longer than a three-course meal. A three-course meal at McDonalds.

Problem is, like a lot of introverts, I’m picky. Because introverts are generally OK on our own, we end up being less desperate and more choosy. And if we let someone in, they have to fit into our introvert lifestyle otherwise we’d go insane! But that doesn’t necessarily mean we like being alone. Some introverts do. But some of us long for a special connection with someone, to share our life with the right person, to put down roots.

But, it’s difficult to meet men in real life if you’re introverted. Or if you’re over 30. And especially if you’re both.

Dating in your thirties is different than dating in your twenties. First of all, once you’re over 30, most men are already married anyway. Else they have tons of baggage like kids, addiction issues, weight issues, kids, divorce, debts, kids.

jay341

Secondly, in your thirties, forty is hanging over you like a big cloud of doom and there’s a sense that, if you’re not already in line, you’d better get in line: get married, get a mortgage, get a family car, have kids, buy a white picket fence, pretend to be living happily ever after. I often relate it to musical chairs. Everyone is trying to find their seat before the music stops (at 40!). Because, like they said in Sleepless in Seattle, you have more chance of getting killed by a terrorist than you have of getting married over 40.

megcrying

Another problem is that online dating tends to be the go-to for introverts (and us older folks) but trying to meet a guy through online dating is difficult. Trust me, I’ve on-and-off online dated for 10 years. Am I in a loving, committed relationship? Yes! With my computer, remember?

A lot of men online are unstable, insecure, and perverted. They think you’re supposed to marry them by the second date. Or sleep with them within an hour of meeting. Or they’re players. Or they’re psychopaths. Usually all of the above. To be fair, I’ve heard a lot of women on dating sites are just as bad. Online dating brings out the worst in people.

Meeting someone in real life is much better. But it’s hard. How do you meet someone in real life?! A typical introvert’s social circle is not particularly big (mine consists mainly of married women and gays). And when you’re over 30, who in your workcircle is not already married with kids?

Well, there’s always Larry…larry

Back to Meg Ryan crying…

megcrying

It guess it’s like Prince said: Until I find my righteous one, computer blue.

Although, I actually have no idea what he meant by that… Oh well, back to my cornflakes.

Doing Weird Things In My Sleep

Do any of you guys ever do weird things when you’re stressed?

Sometimes when I’m super-stressed I sleepwalk. Although, now I’m older it’s less sleepwalking and more sleep-eating/sleep-doing-random-stuff.

I’m had a lot on my mind the last couple of days and I’ve started waking up in the middle of the night and doing weird things. When I do these things it’s like I’m sort of half-conscious. Conscious enough to do weird things but not conscious enough to stop myself from doing weird things! And then I wake up in the morning like, “What the hell happened last night?!”

For example…

3 nights ago: Woke up in the middle of the night believing there was a really, really bad storm (apparently there wasn’t) and I spent about an hour taking shelter behind a chair and having a deep conversation with one of the random cats that hangs out here.

2 nights ago: Woke up in the middle of the night and bought tons of random shit from China on Ebay. Woke up in the morning thinking it was a dream until I checked my Ebay purchase history.

1 night ago: Woke up in the middle of the night, joined a Christian prayer forum and sent dozens of messages to other users. I’m not even Christian!

I really hope this stops soon before I do something too crazy!

What Happens If You Don’t Sleep?

You know what happens if you don’t sleep?

I’ll tell you…….

If you don’t sleep…….

You eventually…….……

fall asleep!

That’s it!

Nothing bad happens!

People are crazy:

“If you don’t sleep, YOU DIE!!!”

“If you don’t sleep, your brain fills with water, YOUR BRAIN DROWNS!!!”

No.

All that happens is you will eventually get so tired…….

that you will…….

just……

                 fall…….

       asleep….

no…..

     matter……

                                                    how…….

hard…….

                                            you…….

       try…..

                        not…….

to….

Good night.

Why I Hate Motivational Speakers

This post is for all of you who buy into these cult leaders…

You know why people become motivational speakers? I’ll tell you why people become motivational speakers. People become motivational speakers because they want to be worshipped like gods. They have the Messiah Complex. Notice that 99.99% of motivational speakers are dudes. It’s very common for dudes to have Messiah Complexes. They watch too many films about Ancient Egypt when they’re kids and then think it must be the best thing ever to have a harem. So, they grow up and turn their Messiah Complex into a reality by becoming a motivational speaker. It’s also a little bit BDSM: They are the god (dominant) and all their followers are their bitches (submissives).

At some point in the past, your motivational speaker was just a loser like you. Usually a rich loser though. Most of them come from money, even if they (of course!) try to imply otherwise. Then they discover the power of words. Words affect people.

Sometimes it’s the vocabulary, words like: wish, believe, joy, dream, triumph, strength, courage, success, money, power, goal, love, passion, achieve, push, you, you, you, you, you… – lots of repetition! – and don’t forget “we” because “we” are a “team”, “we” are “united” in “unity”.

Sometimes it’s the rhythm. Something good comedians and verbal poets know all about. Hypnotists too. Have you ever listened to chanting? Or the beat of a drum? And it does something to you? …ba-da-dum…ba-da-dum…ba-da-dum… It sort of connects with your atoms, your heart starts beating in tune to it and it takes you somewhere else? Words can be spoken with such a rhythm that they sort of put you into a little trance. Motivational coaches take advantage of this to convince you to buy their shit and join their haram. Surely, it can’t have escaped you that they all talk in that same Shopping Channel voice, right?

They don’t want you to become successful! They don’t want you to have a good life! Motivational speakers don’t actually motivate people to do anything (except buy their shit). If they did, it wouldn’t be very good for business, would it? I mean, at some point, they’d probably run out of clients from motivating all these people to live happy, satisfactory lives, right?

If motivational speakers are so good, how come they don’t come with a money-back guarantee? How come the same people keep going back to their shows year-in, year-out? I know this chick who has been following a motivational speaker for the past 5 years (along with many other thirsty women) because he has the “power” to enable her find her dream man. She is still single! It makes me think of Weight Watchers or something…

Motivational speakers exist solely to tell dumb people what they want to hear. Of course they do it with a paternalistic, authoritarian tone… that’s all part of the dom-sub thing. Think about what kind of people follow motivational speakers? Who are their target audience? Low-life, bored, old, dissatisfied, fat lazy slobs. Desperate housewives. People who are having a shitty life and want to be reassured that it’s “OK”. People who want to believe they can change their life by listening to someone talking for 18 hours.

Hell, if you take all the time you spend listening to motivational speakers (live, on YouTube, on Twitter, DVDs, books…), you could actually have achieved something! And you wouldn’t be so broke. It makes me think of Scientology or something…

But it’s OK. The motivational speaker is here to reassure you. Cause that’s what motivational speakers do. They tell you what you want to hear. “It’s OK you’re lazy”, “It’s OK you wasted 2 years watching my DVDs”, “It’s OK you haven’t done anything with your life”, “It’s OK my shows bankrupted you”, “Of course you can become a guitar hero at the age of 67! Why not?”, “You can be whatever you want, if you just wish it really, really hard”, they’ll say while flashing you a Hollywood smile. Cash or card?

People Don’t Need to Know I’m Gonna be Homeless.

Everyone thinks I’m going off to live this wonderful life in the big city; I’m too ashamed to tell them the truth…

I’ve been accepted onto a Masters course in the big city – London! Sounds great, right? I mean, this is a good thing! It’s great! I’m happy about it! This was my dream…

Rewind to how this all came about. A glorious spring morning in 2016, I was lying on the floor, bawling my eyes out and trying to think of the quickest way to kill myself. Because my life had counted for nothing. I had dreams… That’s only human, right? Some people have big dreams, some people have simple dreams, and some people are quite happy waking up and going to work and coming home and eating their TV dinner in front of some reality TV show and going to bed and waking up and living Ground Hog Day every damn day of their damn lives in Punxsutawney, Pissville. But, I’d had enough! I was literally sick to death of living in Punxsutawney, Pissville!

My dream was to move to America (where everyone I know lives) and be a professor. Y’see, I’m an academic person. Some people love hair & beauty. Some people love soccer. I love education. I love learning new things about the world. And everyone I know lives in America; I’m lonely in the UK. In that moment of lying on the floor, bawling my eyes out, I realized that there were only two options available to me. So I stopped crying, picked myself up and started working towards my goal of moving to America and becoming a professor. Getting a really useful Masters qualification is the second big step towards that goal (the first was getting my teaching qualification). America doesn’t just let anyone in. I need to become… impressive.

Problem is… I’m broke. I’ve always been broke. I’ve been sleeping on couches since I was 15. People talk about “2nd generation poverty” or “3rd generation poverty” but I don’t think any of my ancestors ever knew anything besides poverty. My great-great-great grandmother earned a few bucks by collecting dead bodies of sailors who had washed up on the shore. In fact, poverty is so normal to me that I don’t understand how or why other people my age have so much money… I see people with rich parents, mortgages, cars and stable jobs as, like, these magical beings… like, they must be blessed or something.

Rewind to summer 2008, I finished my bachelor degree just in time for the economic meltdown and ended up working dead-end, minimal-wage jobs. Like a lot of millenials, I was stuck in the infinity loop of over-qualified-under-experienced. (And they wonder why millenials aren’t having kids? We can’t afford kids!) Getting laughed out of low-pay interviews because we’re overqualified; getting laughed out of higher-pay jobs because we have no experience. Not that I get many interviews in a climate where 100 people are applying for every job and 99 of them have better CVs than I do.

I have to do this Masters degree. For me, there is no option. It’s this, or the roof of a multi-storey carpark. It should be a happy occasion. I’m moving to the big city! I love learning and this is a stepping stone towards my dreams. But universities are screwing over their Masters students with extortionate fees. So I’m going to be homeless. Not homeless like a tramp, but homeless like I’ll be living in youth hostels for the academic year. Although, considering I currently live on a couch in someone’s living room, and two months ago I was sleeping on a floor… perhaps it will be a slight upgrade. But I dread not having any privacy and I’m concerned about my valuables being stolen and I worry about sleeping next to strangers who could potentially be psychopaths…

Rewind to 2016, the government introduced student loans for Masters degrees. Which is great! I could not do my Masters without this funding. But unlike at bachelor level where you have two separate amounts for your fees and for your living expenses, the Masters funding is just one lump sum for everything. You get up to £10,280 total, maximum, final. As soon as the government announced this, many universities in England rammed up their Masters fees from previously being between £2,000-£6,000 to now being, you guessed it, £10,280.

Because they can.

Most universities in the UK are money-obsessed and have zero consideration for their students mental and physical well-being.

And so students are left with nothing to live off.

The government knew full well that most universities would charge as much as they could get away with. It’s criminal that universities don’t have to justify why a course has increased by up to £8,000 in the span of one academic year. On top of that, universities will toss out any student they think might struggle because they’re obsessed with ratings. The latter is understandable but the former goes against the ethos that educational establishments are supposed to be held by. How can an institution claim to be inclusive and support diversity and equality when they a) only accept top performing students, b) charge fees that exclude most people?

So now that the universities are charging such high fees, how are students supposed to live?

My university is not quite charging £10,280. No, they’re charging £8,500. I could study a cheaper Masters but that would mean ending up with a less useful qualification (think: Msc. Baby Farts), which would mean lower future wages and less ability to move to the USA, so that’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I can only do this once, may as well make it count. But this leaves me with £1,780 to live off for 10-months. That’s £178 per month….

Obviously, I’ll get a job, but I don’t know how long that will take or how much I’ll be able to earn in the limited hours available between studying.

Quick math lesson…

Costs for the academic year:

  • Hostel accommodation = $4,000 (MINUS £2220. Notice I’m already in minus figures by several grand and I’m homeless and haven’t even bought a damn sandwich yet…)
  • Money I owe people = £2400 (-£4620)
  • Food/Drink/Clothes/Toiletries = £1000 (-£5620)
  • Travel costs = £500 (-£6120)
  • Stationary & Books = £300 (-£6420)
  • P.O Box address = £200 (-£6620)
  • Trip to Disneyland = wait… What? Ok, fine, no Disneyland.

Compare this with Undergraduate degrees where students get their £9,000 per year fees paid and various grants and loans to cover living costs up to £9,000 per year. It’s not mega-bucks, but it’s far better than £1780. Another comparison: For my teacher training course that I did last year, I got £8000 fees paid, a £9,000 maintenance loan, and a £4,000 bursary.

Why is it so impossible to offer the same for Masters students? Why? WHY!? They know damn well they can afford it, so why?! Why are we being screwed over and forced to live below the poverty line when other students are given maintenance loans?

And this £6620 debt is while living like a homeless person, and putting my physical and mental well-being in danger. This isn’t living some luxury life. And this is all just to attend a university course. To try to get somewhere with my life. To try to get a decent job so I can earn a decent wage so I can eventually own my own home sometime before I die and eventually live close to my friends and be able to put a little door mat out on the porch like a normal person and invite people over for lemonade like a normal person, instead of living like a fucking nomad.

On top of making me homeless, my university has the audacity to tell me to get a Career and Professional Development loan which would cost me £280 per month to repay. (You have to repay the CPDL as soon as your course finishes.) Yet there is no guarantee I’ll have a job by then that can pay £280 on top of rent, bills, food, and my existing £240 per month debts. So, I’d just be worse off.

My university also has the audacity to tell me I shouldn’t work while doing my Masters because I should focus on my studies. If they didn’t bankrupt me I wouldn’t need to work while I study. I wouldn’t need to be homeless. That was their choice. I have to live in squalor while they have their champaign luncheon in their 5 * luxury, air-conditioned, leather-chaired, marble-floored meeting room.

I don’t know who to be more mad at: the universities or the government. I think they’re both as bad as each other.

Universities are earning so much excess money these days that they’ve become like encapsulated worlds, buying up every other building, engulfing neighbouring schools, colleges and office blocks, buying brand new technology for every department then throwing it all away 6 months later, spending thousands of self-congratulatory dinner parties, while their students starve and live in rat-infested closets with 5 other people like its Dharavi or Karachi, or some other god-awful dimension of hell.

Fast forward to today, I’m going through the process of throwing away 99% of my belongings. I won’t have anywhere to store anything at the hostel so I’ll just take a few essentials. I recall the words of an acquaintance I bumped into a few days earlier… “You’ll have to let me know where you’re living in London. I’ll come visit!” She was hugging me and excited about my big adventure. I just smiled and nodded. People don’t need to know I’m going to be homeless. They all think I’m heading to the big city to live an amazing life. I take down memories from shelves and throw them in the trash. A funny thought crosses my mind: “It’s almost like dying…”

I can only hope I’ll be reborn as a butterfly.