Addressing the Not-so “Apathetic” Generation

40% of UK residents didn’t vote in the 2010 election, and the numbers haven’t gotten any lower for the amount of people registering to vote for this year’s General Election on May 7th. This general election is one of the most unpredictable elections we’ve had in decades, with the registration deadline coming to a close; nobody really knows what could happen.

My generation; that is those affected by the tripled tuition fees, need to vote, I urge you to. If we don’t start to vote now, in 20 years, we will still have no idea how to interact with the electoral system. There is a reason why a lot of people my age aren’t lining up outside village halls and primary schools on May 7th.

It’s not because we’re stupid, or naïve, or “apathetic.” Nor are we inspired by Russel Brand’s “Don’t Vote/Revolution.” It is simple. We are confused, ill-informed, but most of all – we are ignored.

“I always thought your generation was a bit apathetic about politics in general; since 9/11, the world has changed and the way we see people, you don’t trust anyone. You are the future generation, you have the right to shape your future and make that change. Your generation is distracting themselves with iPhones, social media, celebrities, and a long list of irrelevant things, from the harsh reality pf the world you choose not to face.”

My mother said that to me, when I was debating whether to register to vote or not. She pointed out that I sign plenty of online petitions, to save the bees, or addressing feminist issues; but I ignore the Westminster boys fighting over my vote. “You are political, you know what you want. You want change, right? Go and read something,” as she slammed down Labour and the Green Party’s manifestos in front of me.

“People all over the world, in eastern countries such as Iran, they fight for their right to vote. They could get killed. Women died so you could have your right to vote. Stop underappreciating your rights.”

After researching and educating myself in a short amount of time about UK politics, it is obvious to me, that things need to change. I am tired of hearing the word apathetic to describe people my age. The story is that we hate politics; or to use the most popular phrase; ‘we’ve lost faith in it, we think all politicians are the same’ so we don’t vote.

I want to prove these theories wrong. To tell young people that they do not care about politics is simply wrong. Our generation may just be the most political in history, with the rise of Facebook, Twitter and blogs, we as a generation are analysing and commenting on the world around us on a far greater scale than our parents. We are a much more welcoming generation; we accept different walks of life, cultures, sexualities. We embrace these differences.

We marched in our 1000s against the war in Iraq, the fight against tuition fees, and for fairer alternatives to the economic masochism of the coalition government. We do care. Student activism and politics is a phenomenon that is growing and will always continue to.

“There was nothing at my university that would give us information on politics, literally bare to nothing. I wanted to change that,” said Laura Peberday, creator of Scratch Politics at Birmingham City University.

“There’s an attached stigma to politics; that you must be smart to understand it. WRONG. I wanted to talk politics in plain English, so young people could understand, and take an interest, and hopefully make a difference.”

An example of student activism is the No More Page 3 Campaign, possibly one of the most important socio-political movements of the decade. It was the brainchild of 20 somethings spread through social media, receiving most of its support through student unions.

The young generation is constantly churning out videos, songs, stories, plays, flashmobs, and slutwalks, challenging every societies’ gender norms, to post-modernist theories. In a sense, we are doing politics better. So why is it that the public and politicians opinions seem to be that we’re apathetic? It’s probably because we keep getting told we are. This story is paraded by print media, TV, and somewhat contradictory, politicians themselves.

Politicians are waging a public policy on us ‘millenials’. We’ve been charged the highest tuition fees in Europe, denied housing, and expecting us to spend an indefinite amount of time working for free, trying to get a foot in the door.

None of this will stop me, nor should it stop you. Change needs to happen. It may not happen this election, and may not even be the next one. Change is slowly happening, and the cracks are beginning to show in society. We are a much more connected society, with smart phones, and e-petitions and a more accepting collected mind set, we are a much more switched on generation.

Do not let the untrustworthy faces of Clegg and Cameron deter you from taking an interest in politics. We all need to grow up and do grown up things; like taking control on what happens to our future.

Register to vote at gov.uk

Take a quiz to see which political party you side with at uk.isidewith.com/political-quiz

Take a listen to this documentary addressing the issue, guaranteed to make you wake up, and have a giggle at the same time.

https://soundcloud.com/lisavioletwilliams/the-student-vote-documentary

Dear Mum; I am okay

Mother dearest,
I apologise for my absence recently but that is because I have been absent with myself. I’ll be honest and you’ll probably think I’m being dramatic, but I believe I may be going through my quarter-life crisis. Or mid-life one come early or whatever.

Now, call me dramatic, call me silly, but I am not the only one of my age who has been going through a similar thing. Many people I know have struggled with similar fears and thoughts, and it isn’t just me! This is a thing that my generation HAVE to go through. I’ve cried countless nightsC and spent hours in bed questioning existence, and my imagination getting the worst of me. This is happening because this crisis is basically a reality kick in the bollocks for me and here’s why;

1. It’s come to my attention, that I am going to be eternally in a horrendous amount of debt. The only way of avoiding these debts is if I run away abroad for five years (ride some dolphins, probably lose myself in the jungle) but what’s that going to teach me? That I just run away from my problems? Nahhhh, that’s one thing you’ve taught me, Mother. Be fearless with problems. I know I have to work hard to pay off this debt, but it hopefully be worth it!

2. I’m getting old. As much as I’ll only be 21 this year, this is still scary milestone in my scary yet wonderful path of life. Turning 21 means that I will be forever an adult. I’ll no longer be a child, I’ll be going into my twenties, where my wine consumption will amazingly increase. I want to be a child always, and have no cares in the world, and yet, still rocking a full fringe. However, I’ve had to learn to accept this. That the only way is up, and I am scared but soooo excited. I didn’t even know that was possible.

3. I’m surrounded by new faces. And sadly, I don’t get to see yours every day, Mother, but know I’m thinking of you. In the beginning of my ‘growing up spiritual adventure’ I could never tell which people were good for me, and those who were bad for me. I think I have it figured out now. It’s been hard drifting from friends and family, however, I never forget. I know who is good for me; the ones that do things to make me smile, those who look after me with genuine care when I can be worse for wear, and people that listen to my ramblings. They bring good energy, and I couldn’t be happier with the people surrounding me, and you are one of them. I may not see you as much as we’d both like, but you’re the best mate I’ve got, Mother.

4. My health. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have a healthy diet. I like my food. That’s not right. I LOVE MY FOOD. and Mama Bowater you fed me soooo good the past 20 years, you really are a great cook! I’d still kill for your roast dinner! However, since moving away from home, my diet is not as nice, and not nearly enough wholesome for a 20 year old woman. I survive off leftovers, beans on toast, endless cups of tea, and cigarettes. I’ve learnt to better my diet when I can afford it (WHY IS HEALTHY FOOD SO EXPENSIVE?!) and do as much exercise as much as possible…(walking counts right?) Mother, when you say ‘you look thin, Siobhan,’ don’t worry, I’m probably losing the last of my baby weight, OR, I’ve just spent all my wages on a night out or clothes instead of food. But, it was my choice to do that wasn’t it? And I only have myself to blame. But, I’m happy with my body and my health. I do look after myself more than people think. However, I will always accept your food parcels you slide my way…

5. Money. Now, Mother, sit back in your chair, I know, I know you said that I would never have to worry about money. That you’d always have my back. And I can never be more thankful knowing that. BUT, I’m gonna pay you back as much as I can, no ifs, no buts Mum, I’m working hard to do that for you. Yes, it means working 2 jobs, but I’m learning to support myself, and yeah it’s tough, but I’ve also learned that I’ve just got to deal with it. We made a promise, that I would get you to meet Jon Bon Jovi, remember? I’m working on it, so keep fiddling with your hair and applying lipstick ready for my call for when he’s waiting to meet you.

6. Spiritual Awakening. I’ve woken up and smelt the shit. I get it. I am acknowledging all the energies around me and I take them in, I’ve had a restored faith in humanity and I see the good in all things. It’s all explained in the Yin Yang for me. Call me a hippie, but I’d rather that than be a Catholic. Now I know not to speak ill of anyone, but I know that some things are not for me; religion. And you, Mother and I both know that it was never going to be my path as soon as I understood what was actually going on. Call me a realist, but that’s fine, this is reality, and this is me accepting it.

7. The foreseeable future. This scares the bejesus out of me. The one thing that panics me is not seeing myself in the future, or not knowing where I could be. I don’t know what’s going to happen after university, I don’t know who I’ll be with, where I’ll be living/working? Nobody does. BUT if I want to get you to meet Jon Bon Jovi, I kinda get what sort of choices I need to make to make that happen. My future is shaped by the choices I make, and I really do hope I’m making all the good ones!

Top tip for anybody is going through a quarter life crisis; stop overthinking EVERYTHING. Trust me, you’ll hopefully figure it out like I have.

Mum, I hope I am doing you proud. I really do, I only wish I could carry you around in my bag and show you all my daily adventures; from getting my sass on at work, or doing ‘cool fun stuff on the radio’ like you say, and just show you that you needn’t not worry as much as you’d think. That I am fine, and although I have been an expert liar for years with those words ‘I’m fine’ I do mean it this time. Things are exciting and scary, but do you remember that feeling about something in your past? I’ve learnt a lot, and if it wasn’t for you having my back, things wouldn’t be the same.

I’m fine, and I mean it.

I’ve questioned almost every aspect of my life, and I’ve learnt to accept it. Faults and all. My own faults too. I’m working on the life you’ve dreamed for me, and for my own dreams.

So meet up with Jon Bon Jovi is still in the works, I promise.

I love you always, and forever Mother Goose,

From your chicken,
Siobhan xoxoxo

P.S. Please can I have a food parcel?
P.P.S. I love you.

For anyone going through the same ‘crisis’ as me, you’re not alone. Be honest, and it sounds shite, but you have to learn a lot of things, about yourself and your life. I promise things do get better! You just have to sit by yourself and teach yourself to stop overthinking everything. Realise that there is good in your life, and appreciate it. Learn what brings badness into your day, and get rid of it. You’ll have to figure it out, but know there are people that will listen and help you through. Roll on the mid life crisis!!!

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‘Did you actually just call me a Wench?’

Working in a bar/nightclub has it’s perks; the people, the music, ‘banter’ with customers, tips, making cocktails and all that jazz. However, being female bar staff, everyday sexism is brought to your front door. And MATE, I can tell you how bad it gets for 20 year-old- woman working in a bar.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put anyone off taking or applying for a bar/nightclub job, if anything I encourage it. Especially my fellow students who are looking for a part time job. My current position as bar staff has been my favourite part time job, I’ve made some awessssome friends and have never had a bad shift. Trust me, go do bar work at least once, just to try it, and I’m 99% sure you’ll like it.

But, females, beware. You will have to prepare yourself for being objectified while you’re working. But do not stand for it. You’re not there to be gawked at, or have rude proposals asked of you, or just being harassed by some customer who is extremely desperate for your number.

One Saturday night, in the heart of Birmingham, there I was in my workplace, pouring a pint of Carling for a reveller. A young man, no older than 21, and about 2 foot shorter than me asking for my number a total 5 times in 3 hours. All we’re rejections, but for different reasons, as I conducted my own sneaky social experiment.
My first answer: *fake gushes/pretends to be really flattered etc* Awh sorry, no… *awkwardly pretends to be needed in the staff room*…
Second answer: ‘ha, awh sorry, you’ve already asked me, the answer is still a no, I’ve got a boyfriend.’
Third answer; ‘haha, sorry, no. I’m really happy with my boyfriend, and no, I do not want a ‘bit on the side.”
Fourth answer; ‘look, I’m not giving you my number. Now, if you don’t mind I’ve got to go collect some glasses.’
Final answer; when I was collecting glasses from the dance floor and booths, carrying 8 glasses stacked in one hand, and a half empty pitcher/partini, this guy asked me once more for my number, without even trying to help me out of my struggle of carrying way too many glasses. He would not let me go anywhere else, while I’m slowly losing grip of everything that was in my hands. The social experiment was pushing my limits with this particular participant. ‘Look mate, the truth is, I don’t think my girlfriendwould be very happy about it. And trust me you’re far from my type.’

His reply? ‘Oh god, I am so so sorry! I won’t ask again.’

My findings: why is no not enough for men? Why do I have to give a reason for saying no? Why do I have to pretend to be gay for guys to leave me alone? Is my 5 year relationship not a good enough reason to say no?

Another example; I was called a. Wait for it. WENCH. It’s 2014. Are you having a laugh? Now, I didn’t take this ‘you’re a good looking wench, you are’ statement too well. But, you know, the customer’s always right… are they???

I did what I do best, get my sass on up. Resting bitch face on, and a turn of the heel, and power walked, pulled a pint, and handed it to him. ‘Good girl’ he said. Pahahahaaaaaaaa, so clever. I smiled, shook his hand, and said, ‘just so you know, if you call me a wench again, I will not serve you, I’ll get you kicked out. If I hear you calling one of my colleagues a wench I’ll make sure you get kicked out too. You’re in 2014, I’m a WOMAN not a wench. I know the confusion, ’cause I can’t figure out if you’re a man or not?’ Cue awkward fake laughter and smiles, and he said no more.

Working in a bar has brought out the feminist in me, it’s brought out a particular attitude in me. I’m sure I’m not the only one too, I’ve heard many a horror story from bar staff. I’m just telling you only a snippet of my experiences.

Even men have sexism thrown at them whilst working in a bar. And sometimes women can be far nastier at times too. Trust me.

I’m just shouting out to my fellow cocktail waitresses, pint pullers, glass collectors, all the crappy cleaning job guys, everyone. Just a reminder, don’t be the basic bitch they think you are. Be the boss bitch. Take the upper hand, remind them that you are providing them a service, you will not be spoken to rudely or harassed. You have the power. We’re not basic bitches. And we are DEFINITELY not wenches.

Cheerio for now!
Xoxoxo

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK – SOME PEOPLE JUST LIKE CAKE OK?!

I cannot express how much ‘think before you speak’ is relevant to everybody. And I mean everybody. Whether you’re a Government PM, a revolutionist or even a young child writing some idiotic ‘status’ on your so-called ‘opinion’.

This post was inspired by something I had seen posted on my Facebook timeline, where this person expressed her ‘opinion’ on people’s weight. And I quote;

‘if you’re above a size 12 you need to get a grip sort yourself out’ excuse the awful grammar…

at the end of the day your FAT and only have YOURSELF to blame…’ MY GOD. THE GRAMMAR IS KILLING ME TYPING THIS.

This post is not an attack on this individual, it is simply an example of the amount of people who do not think before they speak. I saw this status earlier today; and within 2 hours, there appeared to be a vast amount of people commenting on this ‘status’. 81 to be precise…

If you going to express your views, ALWAYS think and evaluate before you publicise it. Even if it is on Facebook. If it’s controversial/racist/sexist you’re going to hurt someone even if you didn’t mean to. Example; the Facebook status above may have insulted mothers, mothers who have a curvy beautiful body, giving life from those beautiful bodies, who struggle to lose weight because they are constantly looking after their beautiful children. It may have insulted people with health issues, a middle aged man, who had always taken hair of himself, maybe struggling with a bad thyroid problem. Some people just have big bones. Some people eat cake BECAUSE THEY FUCKING WANT TO.

People may be ‘fat’ BUT is there any reason for people to point that out? To tell them that they need to be a size 8-10 so it’s deemed more ‘natural and healthy’ (another quote from that status may I add) is no right of anyone’s. It’s none of your business to complain about other people’s appearances, because how would YOU like it if someone called you names, and told YOU to PUT ON WEIGHT. If you’re unhappy with people’s appearances and their so called ‘fat’ then that’s your problem. Get a grip on reality and realise everybody’s different, even in weight and body size and shapes. Because clearly you didn’t think before you spoke; people realised how much of a small minded person you could be.

Now I am a size 12. I’m 20 years old, 5ft 5, probably weigh about 11 stone, (I don’t tend to bother with ‘weight’) I have boobs and an arse. I like to drink with my friends, I smoke my roll ups, I walk a lot, and I eat relatively healthy (apart from the occasional pizza/chocolate/cookies/bacon sandwiches/ducks in pancakes/fuck loads of Mexican food and so on.) But I’m happy with my appearance. I did go through a time where I had very low self esteem, and I know the pain people suffer, where they hate what they see in the mirror. Where you have to do so many retakes of photos where your arms or chin looks ‘ok.’ Where you don’t want to leave the house because ‘nothing looks right.’ People with low self esteem do not to hear your ‘opinions’ on size 16 people. Nor should you ‘need’ to voice them.

The moral of this post, is NOT to voice your views or opinions. I am all for free speech. I adore free speech. BUT, all I am asking, is that you THINK before you SPEAK. People will not only respect you more, but they will actually listen to you…

Procrastination? Or are you making up excuses?

Being in my second year at university, the whole assignment/essays/’God, once this is over I’m going to get sooooooooo wasted’ workload has come a lot easier. I now know to get my assignments done as soon as possible, so I have more free time, rather than sitting on Buzzfeed or ASOS, or watching cat videos over and over again, leaving me one week to produce/interview/edit/mix a shed load of audio into a tiny 10 minute documentary. The stress is not worth it. The all nighters and stress eating is not worth it. Having that feeling of pure relief and excitement of freedom to get ‘absolutely sloshed’? TOTALLY WORTH IT.

However, it’s not all about doing assignments and rewarding yourself with some rip off watered down Vodka in some ridiculously cheap club, that you cant help but love because you know you’re a student, and the floor always welcomes you when you fall/pass out or vomit that watered down Vodka. It’s about actually doing well in your course. For most people at university, the mentality of students is to get a really top grade from their degree and get a really top notch job when you return home and into your new life. For myself; university is the beginning of my new life. Shit is real now, whether I like it or not.

Throughout my second year, considering it’s only been almost 3 months into this year, a lot of things have gone into motion within my career. For one, the second year blues have definitely kicked in… (http://lisavioletwilliams.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/second-year-blues/ IT’S TOTALLY TRUE) so this year is all about preparing myself for the next part in my life. I have 3 assignments to complete within the next few weeks; a 10 minute documentary on Everyday Sexism ‘What age does catcalling stop at?’, a 1 hour live show about the love story of Beyoncé and Jay Z (no judgements please!) and also to start up my blog!

However, as much as I am getting my work into motion, it pains me when I see people who are still constantly sitting around doing nothing, not realising the consequences of their actions. And the worst pain, THE WORST; is when people sit and complain about how much work they have to do and how little time they have. You cant make excuses anymore. I’ve stopped making excuses, and have learnt how to differentiate and prioritise my time. This is not a post criticising students, it’s simply advice, from one ‘ex-procrastinator’ to those still stuck in those ‘cat videos/ASOS/BuzzFeed’ distraction/addiction phase.

So for my first piece of advice:

  1. Prioritise your time. You can get drunk as much as you want once your assignment is done.
  2. Grab some sense of reality. Watch Jeremy Kyle; do you really want to end up like one of those middle aged, toothless, benefit reliant slobs? Or do you want to do what you’ve always dreamed of doing? Do you want to do what you’re paying thousands of pounds (and will end up in debt when your degree is over) and become the success you know you want?
  3. Find a starting point. The hardest part of completing an assignment/work task is finding a place to start; whether you just need to get up earlier, plan things in advance, if you’re really stuck, you wont even realise how many people will give you help and advice, just ask your tutors, family and friends.
  4. Find a place to work harder than you’ve ever imagined. If you know you work better and more efficiently at your university campus, head to the library. If there’s a particular class room that gets your gears in movement, go there when there’s no class occupying it. If you work better alone in your room, go, put some music on, and put your big hungover thinking cap on. But DO NOT try to work in environment that is full of distractions; whether it be a TV on in the living room/in your own room where you know your Xbox is just whispering to you ‘come on Siobhan, just play me! Complete GTA 5 and you’ll be so happy’ NO XBOX. I have work to do. YOU CAN WAIT.
  5. Stop making excuses for yourself. If you know you have work to do, just get on with it. Stop blaming other things or in some cases even PEOPLE for your own ‘procrastination.’ ‘I cant do my work because my friends are going out to get drunk and I kinda have to go, and I know I wont get any work done anyway…‘ I’m sorry to be frank, but you’re not only bullshitting to me and whoever, but more importantly yourself. You can do work if your friends are going out having fun, because you NEED to do your work in order to achieve your goal. YOU can go get drunk when your work is finished, because you will have earned it. AND your friends, I’m sure will be more than merry to get drunk WITH YOU.

As much as my tips seem kind of harsh in a way, if you do procrastinate, you’ll never know the relief you have of when your work is over and completed, and you can do all your favourite things as much as you want. You wont need to stay up all night working on something that’s meant to be handed in within the next 6 hours. Trust me, from one Buzzfeed addict and procrastination junkie to many others out there. Just get on with it.