Exciting Existentialism

Life is a pretty random thing. So much so, that we have meta-narratives such as science and religion to help us understand it all. There’s a variety of ‘paths’ we can follow in life, and in the world of UK education, it can certainly feel a little streamlined – that is, until you enter your third and final year at university.

I will miss this view come August 2018, when I graduate.

Up until that moment, everything is pretty straight-forward for most people: primary and secondary school (or alternative versions of this system), Sixth Form and then university. Of course, there are people who do apprenticeships or college, but for the most part, this is the usual route which most people take. For a lot of people, going to another county and getting that all-important degree is their end goal, so what next after that?

During the lengthy summer break, the questions got more frequent: what do you plan to do next after university? Will you stay and do a Masters? Granted, there are options, but at this moment, everything feels much more unrestrained. To refer back to the aforementioned ‘end goal’, I’ve got there and am soon to complete it, so what next?

Such thoughts unearth a bubbling existential crisis inside me. As someone that’s always liked structure and whose iPhone calendar is the main way they organise their life, having to accept the fact that come May 2018, the slate is blank is a little terrifying. It was a dread I felt last month when people asked me if I was going to the next Summer in the City convention next year. Taking place around the time of my graduation, I simply had to say that I had no idea, and not knowing my availability is as frustrating as it is alarming.

So, as I’ve now settled in to my university flat, I approach my third and final year of university with excited existentialism. This academic year sees me work hard on a 10K word dissertation (the subject of which I am genuinely interested in), produce extensive amounts of radio work, and work as the editor of the university’s student newspaper, The Linc. I’m looking forward to it, whilst knowing that time will indeed fly by.

Let’s get started…

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A New Adventure…

This has been an exciting one. Monday saw me visit Go Ape for a fun day out with a friend, and Wednesday saw me go to London to see a live recording of The Russell Howard Hour (more on that soon). It was also on Wednesday that I received another bit of good news.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you’d know that I went to Summer in the City last month – a UK convention dedicated to YouTube and online video. It was there that I met the team from the YouTube magazine TenEighty, and naturally, I asked about writing for them.

A few weeks later and after a fun application process, an email landed in my inbox saying that I can join the team, and I was over the moon.

I already have two articles up on the website so far, including one on disabled YouTubers having their videos demonetised, and asdfmovie creator TomSka announcing the end of his vlog series, Last Week. I look forward to writing even more articles for TenEighty in the future.


A Thousand Words: Visiting Southampton

Being able to explore different parts of the UK as part of a job is always an exciting and rewarding thing to do. My final week working for the UK disability charity Scope as an Online Community Intern saw me head down to Southampton to tell people at the city’s football club about the Scope’s wonderful online forum for disabled people to get involved with.

The outside of Southampton Football Club – featuring a statue of a person whom I don’t know, I’m sorry.

Even when I’m not the biggest football fan in the world (I do support the England team and watch a few of their games from time to time, but that’s only out of patriotism), one has to commend the sense of community that surrounds the game. Everyone that came over to my little stall was friendly, and when it comes to fellow stall holders, I was positioned next to some nice people from Autism Hampshire on my left, and on my right were a trio of magicians performing tricks for intrigued individuals.

It made me realise that magic is a wonderful thing. Seeing children gasp and stare wide-eyed at the tricks these three magicians were performing brought a smile to my face throughout the afternoon. I even had my mind blown myself thanks to one particular magician.

On top of this, I was approached from a viewer of my YouTube channel, which made my day. It was completely unexpected and so lovely to chat to them. Thanks so much again for coming over, Sophie!

Four hours later and I was making my way back to Southampton Central to get the train back home. Though, it’s only as I write this that I’m fully struck by the sense of community inside the stadium. A common sight everywhere around the country, the way in which football clubs can bring people together is fascinating – even to someone who isn’t sporty like myself.

P.S. Once again, a huge thank you to everyone at Scope for being such wonderful people to work with over the past few months and for giving me the opportunity to visit Southampton. I’ve had a blast and shall miss the role very much.

 

 

Half A Decade

Up until a couple of days ago, I had completely forgotten that August 12, 2017 marks five years of blogging on The Life of a Thinker. Whilst I remember being shocked and annoyed at myself when I realised that there was an upcoming milestone, now I’m unsure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Good because it is such a big achievement, bad because you should never be so obsessed with statistics and numbers as a blogger.

Gone are the days of my blog logo being a weird rock. The Life of a Thinker has become more professional and I’ve never been happier with the direction in which it’s headed. Photo: Frances Batchelar.

As I write this, I’m inclined to think it’s the former. To say I’ve come a long way since August 2012 would be both blatantly obvious as well as horrendously cliché. Yet, when you consider the fact that a piece on ‘funny pub signs’ was my first proper blog post on this site, you can understand why I’m glad I’m no longer an incompetent and pretentious 15 year old.

I don’t know the exact date I made this decision, but there came a point when I decided to abandon the lifestyle aspects of my blog in favour of a journalistic style of writing. Cue opinion pieces and more reviews and the abandonment of guest blogs. However selfish it may sound, I decided that I wanted all content on my ‘online portfolio’ to be written by me. I took time to change The Life of a Thinker‘s style, which saw me leave the blogging community for a little while. Whether I’m now back as an active member of the community again is a different story for another day.

I’ll be honest: casting my mind back over what has happened blog-wise since August 2016 is hard. It’s only when I quickly search through my archives that I notice that I was Highly Commended in the Midlands Student Media Awards in October 2016 (which doesn’t feel like a year ago – it feels longer). The entry was my blog post on the first series of Channel 4’s Humans – a 1,000 word article which demonstrated the more formal writing style I mentioned previously. It was certainly a benchmark for what followed.

I was still getting advanced readers’ copies (ARCs) of unpublished books from publishers, my Friday Article opinion pieces grew from strength to strength, and I received my first review copy of an upcoming album (that being Frances’ Things I’ve Never Said). More recently, my feature on the Italian singer Ginny Vee saw me adopt a more professional interview style when compared to the Liam Interviews series I had on the blog post many years ago.

It’s these types of improvements which I’ve certainly noticed over the past few months. My music reviews are no longer focussing on the technical aspects of songs, more on the emotional, lyrical elements in a more informal tone. I’m continuing to develop my own voice in my opinion pieces and as for features, I’m looking forward to doing more of them on The Life of a Thinker when I can.

Looking ahead to the future of this blog, I’ve certainly got a strong sense of pride in it. Amazing PR opportunities have come my way through what I share here and occasionally, the odd blog post does really well on social media. After researching and hearing talks about ‘the exposure debate’ and paid freelance work, I’m now more inclined to ask for payment for PR posts on here now, as opposed to a younger version of me who would probably take it just because of the exposure. Now, it depends.

Nevertheless, it’s been half a decade since an excitable teenager created The Life of a Thinker on a beach in Cornwall and I remain thankful to anyone who has stopped by this little corner of the internet during this time. Here’s to the next milestone!

A Thousand Words: Is it bad to live a structured life?

It’s a question I thought about in the early hours of this morning: is it bad to live a structured life? I pondered it whilst reminding myself of the many tasks on my to-do list (see the picture below), and how much of my life is typed, written or stored in to-do lists, calendars and email folders like the one below.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this is not to say that I can’t handle spontaneity – the career I hope to enter is not always predictable. However, whilst I like to consider myself a very organised person, it seems as though confining myself to daily or weekly tasks only speeds up the passage of time. It’s as I write this that I ask myself if I need to be more spontaneous. How are we in August already?

After reading this, one could argue that I’m stuck in the present. Yet, that isn’t really the case. At the moment, I’m looking forward to attending Summer in the City this time next week and seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the week after that. I also know that come the end of August, I need to start planning for university and that I’ll be going to the NUS Student Media Summit in London. It’s almost as if I’m going through the year, with little checklists along the way.

Now, I know I’ve most likely written about this before (albeit in a different way) but now begins the process of getting the final tasks done before it’s back to university in September.

There’s always something to look forward to.

Upping my photography game

Until now, I’ve been thanking my lucky stars that Flickr’s Creative Commons and fair use laws exist. Whenever I have an album to review or political opinion piece to write, I browse the site for photos to accompany my lines of text. It brightens the page and makes it livelier. However, upon looking at other bloggers and their websites, it’s clear that I need to include more original photos on this blog.

I remember a friend telling me a short while ago that they missed my lifestyle posts on this blog. During the changeover, where my blog became an online portfolio for my journalism, out went my Weekly Update posts in exchange for more professional articles. Except now, where I think I’ve finally found the middle ground.

During my second year at university, the Digital Photography module reignited my passion for photography. Keen not to let new passions die, I’ve been considering taking a photo a week to encapsulate my seven days. I’d be able to complete my – at present, failing – New Year’s Resolution to take more, whilst also going back to the blogging days where I talked about my everyday life.

For the past few weeks, blog posts have been pretty infrequent (which doesn’t help when it comes to competition entries), but I believe this should finally solve the issue about what I talk about on Sundays. Wednesdays are still problematic, but most of the time, these have been an extra music review, which is fine.

All being well, a new blog series – A Thousand Words – shall be starting very soon indeed…

Exploring the Lincoln Knights Trail 2017

Whilst I’ve said about turning The Life of a Thinker into an online portfolio for my journalism, Sunday blog posts have always been an opportunity for me to update you all on what I’ve been up to recently, and I don’t think that will ever change.

Despite finishing university already, I was back in Lincoln this weekend for the School of English Journalism Ball (where, surprisingly, I won the ‘Photo of the Year’ award, which was nice). However, prior to all the exciting celebrations, I had a day to myself, and decided to embark on the Knights Trail which has descended on the city for the summer.

It’s because I hadn’t enrolled at university yet that I just missed 2015’s event – the Barons Trail. Now, it’s sculptures of knights to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln. It was a beautiful day, and with more free time on my hands, I thought I would also film the experience too.

Although I am keen on this post being light-hearted and informal, the rise in ‘tourism trails’ (Paddington Bear, Gromit and Shaun the Sheep have all had their own trails in other areas of the UK) has interested me lately. After all, it promotes a sense of adventure and experience which taps into the current souvenir culture in society.

Gone are the days where just an autograph or anything materialistic would suffice, it’s now about having the evidence to show that such an occurrence, meeting or activity took place. Whether that’s a photo of the celebrity whose autograph you asked for, or something else to trophy, tourists want a sense of satisfaction and gratification – and the Lincoln Knight’s Trail certainly does that.

As I took a photo of the final sculpture outside the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, I felt a great sense of accomplishment, as I browsed at the collection of photos on my phone of all 36 sculptures. Tourism is all about a sense of adventure, and even when I’ve been living in Lincoln for two years, I felt that this weekend.

Anyway, without further ado, here is a gallery of all of the sculptures:

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The Lincoln Knights Trail runs from May 20 to September 3, 2017. More information can be found here.