How Blogging Changed My Life

‘Blogging is a great way to show your talents and interests to prospective employers’ – Lauren Conrad

In the same way, before I got married, I never referred to Dave as my finance (he went straight from boyfriend to husband) I never refer to myself as a ‘blogger’ – I simply say I write a blog. There are some words that don’t sit right in my mouth. The blogging issue is mainly because I always only did it as a hobby, it was never my main source of income (or any source of income for that matter – until Santander start accepting mortgage payments in prosecco!) and something that I did on the side.

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Writing a blog has of course come with many, many positives. It’s the creative outlet I’ve been searching for for a long time and it feeds my need to be liked and accepted. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and worked with some fantastic brands like Coca Cola, The Inn Collection, Active Newcastle and Hotel Du Vin. Through these events I’ve met some people who I am genuinely proud to call friends like Cheish, Katie, Laura and Pixie. And I was even recognised at Wylam Brewery when someone approached me with her friend and said ‘oh my god you’re the prosecco girl!’ and hugged me so tightly I think she may have broken 2 of my ribs. That’s all incredibly cool for a girl with a B in GCSE Media Studies and who dropped out of A Level English because I was predicted a U.

Back in August though, my life changed drastically when I was offered a new job in business engagement, one of the main aspects of which would be producing new, original content. Granted it would be more writing business cases than reviews of the latest champagne bar but as someone who’s been a PA since they were 18 (i’m now 35) it is my absolute dream job. To be able to step away from a supporting role to be able to be more creative, managing my own workload and play a more active input into an organisation I’m incredibly passionate about. And it never would have happened if I didn’t write a blog.

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You see, word got round at work that I wrote a blog, and off the back of that I was offered more creative work, albeit within the confines of my PA role. People I worked with who hated having to write creatively would ask me to check over their work, then before long they were asking me to draft things for them. Before you knew it I had quite a portfolio of relevant creative experience I was able to use in my interview and let me tell you, when I got the call (while I was in the bath no less) to say I got the job I was the happiest little clam on the planet.

I’ve been in the job two and a half months now and I’m absolutely loving it. No longer and I tied to my desk being the main point of call and I am trusted to manage my own time and workload. I get to travel regularly up and down to London and Eastbourne (which makes me feel very grown up and glamourous) and when I’m invited to meetings it’s because my opinion is needed; not just to sit quietly in the corner and take minutes.

Getting acquainted with Southern Rail, hotel breakfasts and late train home treats are just some of the perks of the new job…

It’s not been without it’s challenges of course. In a meeting in my first month I was asked to give an update on a strategy and I assumed it would be a short verbal update round a table to about 10 people. When I arrived it was a group of 40 and I had to stand up at the front, mic and all. I really should have taken the hint when I was asked to produce powerpoint slides! So that was a big shock and not something I’ve ever had to do in any job before. The travel, however glamourous, takes a lot out of you (the 7:04 train to London has become my fortnightly frienemy) and as most of my team are based in Eastbourne, I sometimes feel quite isolated on my own up in Newcastle.

I can’t grumble though because this change is something I’ve wanted and needed for a really long time now and I think it just goes to show that if you plug away at something, eventually your passion and enthusiasm shines through and new opportunities will be opened up to you. It sounds cheesy but I never even considered myself to be that good a writer, so believe me when I say if I can do it, anyone can!

Improve your reality or lower your expectations…

‘Habits like blogging often and regularly, writing down the way you think, being clear about what you think are effective tactics, ignoring the burbling crowd and not eating bacon. All of these are useful habits’ – Seth Godin

I’m not normally a fan of reflective summary posts. Actually, I’ll rephrase that, I love reading other people’s (Chloe from New Girl in Toon does a regular round up of her adventures which I eagerly await every month). That’s mostly because other people have way more exciting lives than I do and your average monthly round up for me would be; pub, pub, running, x-factor, pub, running, pub, which would get very tedious very quickly.

Recently however has been a little different in the crazy world of Newman and I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the life changing events that have cropped up over the last couple of months. And before I go on I want to make clear that this isn’t a ‘look at how amazing and successful my life is kind of post’ most of the things that have happened have been a product of a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and literal tears. This is more of a reminder that it’s really easy to get bogged down in the negative and the mundane but actually, cool things do happen from time to time if you keep your head down and keep plugging away. And they should be celebrated; even by an eternal pessimist like me.

New Job

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In the back end of August I was interviewed and offered my dream job. Still within the NHS bur moving away from PA work, which I’ve done since  I left school at 18, and into a more engagement role which will also involve lots of report writing and content creation.  As someone who has found their passion in writing and creating this blog only a few years ago, being offered this opportunity to get paid for what I love to do is an absolute dream come true. It’s a total career change and it will be a challenge stepping out from the support staff role I’ve grown so used to (expect a post on my imposter syndrome coming very soon) but it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and I’m so excited about a brand new challenge.

Great North Run

You can read a more detailed review of my GNR experience here, but needless to say this is something I never thought I’d be able to achieve. Running does not come naturally to me and the constant training, particularly towards the end, really started to get me down.  I was really pleased with the time I completed it in and all the support I got on the day and through sponsorship was absolutely overwhelming. Now that it’s over though I have a massive sense of achievement and I’m even considering doing it again next year with my bestie Angela.

Fitness

If the post so far hasn’t ventured unto the self-indulgent then strap in because it’s about to! One of the happy side effects of training for the Great North Run is that I’ve managed to lose quite a nice amount of weight and toned up where I’ve never been toned before; namely, my legs.  Thankfully running 25 miles a week has gotten them into a shape and for the first time in my life I’ve been able to wear skinny jeans and jeggings without looking like an overstuffed sausage. And that’s a massive victory for me. On a slightly more serious note it also means I’ve managed to build up a level of fitness I never had before and I’m determined not to lose that now GNR is over.

Meeting my hero

To top off my 6 weeks of life changing events, in the middle of September me and my friend Emma won a competition on Instagram to meet Jaret Reddick the lead songer of one of my favourite bands; Bowling for Soup. Despite some slight ‘rock n roll admin’ issues which meant we almost missed him for the meet & greet, we were able to get some pictures, get some stuff signed and have a quick 5 minute chat with him and he was a really lovely guy. He probably the most famous (in fact the only famous) person i’ve ever met and it was really great that he was so normal! I never win anything either so the whole thing was so surreal, especially with all the other mad stuff that seems to have been happening recently!

So suffice to say 2017 has turned out to be a year when loads of stuff has changed, can’t wait to see what happens next!

What If? – 30 Day Writing Challenge #11

I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else’ – Queen Latifah

I try not have regrets and i very much believe in the saying that every decision you make was the right decision at the time. The one thing in my life that I do from time to time think ‘what if’ about is training to become a nurse.

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I had an interview at Northumbria University in May 2000 under what was then called Project 2000 which was a drive to get more people as trained nurses in the NHS. This meant that you got paid to train and spent 80% in a hospital and 20% in a classroom, as opposed to the degree which was 40% hospital and 60% classroom. The Interview couldn’t have gone better and a few weeks later i received a letter with an unconditional offer (meaning it didn’t matter what results I got in my A levels, they wanted me anyway).

Problem was, I was still only 17. Project 2000 had two intakes; one in September and one in March, because I only turned 18 at the end of July, they thought I was a little too young to start training in the September so they deferred me to the March. That was fine, it just meant I had to find something to do with myself for 6 months until my course started.

In that 6 months I found a full time job working on reception at the local newspaper and with that full time job, came a full time wage. The intention was always to work until March then start my course. But as time went on I started to enjoy being in the adult world, having a well paid full time job and i’ll admit it, I liked the money. Stories from my mates at university didn’t fill me with much jealously, I had just as good a social life as them with my new work colleagues and I had money to burn. So when February rolled around, i was sent a letter from the university asking me to confirm i still wanted my place, and i turned it down.

I’m a strong believer in fate and the fact that I’ve worked my way up the corporate ladder in administration within the NHS makes me believe i was always destined to work in healthcare and for the most part, I love my job. I know if I started training now, I would have to do all the crappy night shifts and work over Christmas and miss friend’s weddings and all that stuff. By big ‘what if’ is where would I be in life if i’d been accepted on the September intake? By now i’d have paid my dues and done all those crappy shifts, would probably be quite senior and i’d look a bit like this:

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Suits me right? Blue always looked good on me. But as I said, it was the right decision for me at the time; I just couldn’t imagine giving up what I thought was going to be a career in journalism, and all that money, to go back to studying so soon after leaving school. So in that sense at least it’s a ‘what if’ that was my own choice. I could have been a nurse, i just chose not to.