Why appearance isn’t everything

I think in today’s society we’re far too worried about what we look like. We fuss at ourselves in the mirror trying to achieve perfection. We feel self conscious if we don’t look our absolute best. We judge people based on their clothes, whether they have any makeup on, whether they’ve got their roots showing, or whether they’re covered in dirt. We often don’t know that person’s story. For all  we know, they might not be wearing any makeup because they’ve ran out and haven’t had chance to pick up anymore, they might be covered in dirt because they’ve been running around after their children in a park, and they might not have got their roots done because they’ve just paid for their son’s new school uniform.

I’m guilty of worrying about my appearance all the time. My job at Next often requires me to go to work in my scruffy clothes when I’m working in the stock room, and as soon as I get on the tram in my ripped jeans and oversized tops, I feel as if all eyes are on me, as if to say, why are you wearing that? When I’m on the shop floor, I have to wear smart clothes, and it’s only then that I feel like I blend in, and that’s not right.

I’m the type of woman who feels like they can’t leave the house without their lipstick, that their shoes have to be perfectly polished, that their hair has to be perfectly tamed. The thought of leaving the house in old clothes fills me with dread.I want to take pride in my appearance but then sometimes I think that I’m over worrying. As long as I’m happy and comfortable… does it really matter?

I think the real issue is that we’re too busy worrying about what everyone else thinks. Often they’re people that we don’t even know and probably will never see again. Even worse, sometimes it’s people we know, people who love us, and we’re worrying about what they’ll be thinking. The truth is, if they love us, then they’ll love us regardless of what we look like.

We’re also too busy worrying about what everyone is doing. If that woman on the bus looks tired and weary, and looks as if she’s forgot to brush her hair, and her makeup’s smudged, then leave her alone. Maybe there’s a reason that she looks like that. And if there’s not, then good for her. She probably doesn’t care about your appearance that much, so why should you be worrying about her’s?

It’s time we stopped mindlessly judging. We’re all adults here. Let’s behave like we are.

What do you think?

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Natural hair, no makeup, who cares?
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Any job is a real job: Social Media Servicing Advisor

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As many of you know, I recently decided I wanted to start a bit of a blogging series with the phrase ‘Any job is a real job’ in mind. I wanted to raise awareness of the different industries out there, and I asked for all of my readers help. I feel really lucky that some of you responded.If you missed my previous articles about this, then click here.

 First up is Cameron, from over at Cameron D Hamilton. He writes a great blog with an emphasis on poetry and self reflection, and I really love his work, so I was very pleased when he contacted me to tell me about his job as a Senior Social Media Servicing Advisor:

So, let’s begin with a few basic facts.  My name is Cameron, I’m 29 and I work in corporate Social Media for a major UK bank.  I’ve been in my current position for over a year.

Explain your job role (title, daily duties etc)

At this time I hold the title of Senior Social Media Servicing Advisor.  The job itself consists of moderating several social media and website channels for the bank.  My department moderates four Twitter handles, two Facebook accounts, the website ‘live webchat’ service and two customer enquiry email services.  I came into the department to handle Social Media so I tend to focus my attention on the Twitter and Facebook content.  It’s more a preference for me, it actually works out well with our team dynamic as some of my colleagues prefer the more formal nature of the email channels.

On a normal day I’ll spend my time responding to enquiries received and also post attention grabbing content, over the Twitter channel specifically, in order to grow the brand and attract attention.  As a team we’re also tasked with monitoring public relations through Social Media, logging and reporting positive and negative reports of the bank.  As a department we have little power to effect change the way the bank presents itself, essentially we’re information gathering.  It can get a bit frustrating when the same criticisms come up and nothing is done but I’m sure there must be a good reason, or at least I hope.  The vast majority of the time is spent moderating the channels making sure that all messages received are responded to, make sure we can avoid potential PR issues and make sure customers are protected.

(A funny story on making sure our customers as kept safe over social media.  I once had to deal with a customer of the bank who was a financial dominatrix and was posting her bank details over Twitter in order to get tributes from her admirers.  Her profile was certainly NSFW.  I got in touch with our information security team and they got a Fraud officer to get in touch.  We got told she was warned the following day but clearly didn’t listen as a few weeks later she done the exact same thing.  You can’t help everyone!)

More than any other department we liaise with several different areas of the business on a daily basis, sometimes it can be simply feeding back praise, looking for more in depth info or a certain subject (mortgages, urgh) or getting complaints handled.  This is quite common as you can imagine, everyone love to moan over Twitter and we try to help.  Often it’s really easy people are being lazy wont visit the bank or call in, ‘help us to help you’ doesn’t enter into their minds.  Sometimes it take a little more to handle but it’s our job monitoring Social Media to make sure that voice gets heard and helped.

As a senior advisor I also research and create reports for the leadership team of the bank.  The most frequent is a weekly feedback presentation that is made for the weekly leadership meeting.  Takes about three to four hours and I usually do it if I’m working on a Sunday, it’s monotonous but I quite like it.

Also due to the main office site being a contact centre the team has been lumbered with some irritating telephone lines.  These are low call volume, maybe four calls over a shift max.  In addition to this in order to keep product knowledge fresh there are weeks where I will take general customer service phone calls or work the Internet Banking Helpdesk while another member of the team assumes moderation duties on Social Media.  It’s you’re standard shift rotation deal.

How  did you got into your job? (e.g qualifications, experience etc)

I’m a Media graduate, I spent five years studying through various college courses and university.  I went from wanting to work in film production, with an eye to direct, but found that I enjoyed writing more.  I put a lot of that down to my social anxiety, being able to create a barrier means I can work more effectively.  Its why I like working in Social Media.

The academics didn’t get me exactly where I wanted to go and I drifted through mostly Customer Service positions while trying to write.  Before I took my current position I was working as a general Customer Service Rep in the same bank at the same centre.  Due to my qualifications, my vast experience from working in the bank for so long and my eccentric passion the job was mine.

At the time I applied I was leaving the company, I had reached my glass ceiling and had been applying for writing and Social Media vacancies so when one came up from my current employer it just made sense.  The company thought so too.

What do you like about your job?

I like the ability to write and be creative.  That’s what sold me on the job, to try and engage with customers differently than I had been over phone calls.

Using my experiences as a writer to give some personality to the Social Media accounts, show we care, we want to help but that we’re real.

I really like the people in my team, it’s a great group of personalities and you need that in Social Media.  Of course I win the award for most eccentric but I set a very high bar.

Honestly it’s an easy job.  With the knowledge I gained working telephone customer service the job of moderating is ridiculously easy.  That lack of stress makes my life a lot easier with all the other stresses I have

The Social Media team itself is very young, its only in its second year.  I love being able to shape the voice and make a mark on the landscape.  Not to denigrate my colleagues but you can tell the difference in language and passion when I’ve sent a message compared to someone else.  It’s a great feeling to see that your voice is the one that people like.

What do you hate about your job?

The pay (hahahaha!!!) Serious though, its horrific.

The politics of the office are very annoying, as a contact centre the focus is on phone calls so my team gets treated horribly as if it’s our fault that calls are queuing because we’re not on the phone.  My employer doesn’t know how to handle digital operations and doesn’t understand the job we do.  This means arguments with management figures trying to assert authority when they have none and acting like children when they don’t get their way.

I don’t drive so the commute is pretty bad at times.  I take three buses and as much as it gives me time to listen to my favourite podcasts it does give me a little less free time.

Due to working in the banking industry, it’s a secure paperless environment which is murder or a writer who likes to have a note pad if they’re inspired by something…or maybe just wants to colour in on a slow day.

To be honest the job is great.  It’s the office I hate.  If I could do the same job somewhere else I’d be a lot happier.  I think if there’s any lesson I could impart it’s don’t give up on something you want to do because the people you work for are idiots.

Where do you want to be in five years time?

There’s two answers to this.

Answer one is writing professionally, taking what I do on WordPress and making money off my words.  I want to write like a lot of people here so If I can I’d like to get published and make my living from literature

Answer two is Social Media Project Management.  I’m not keen on actually managing staff, its just not interesting, I want to create and run projects.  Move out of the moderation and more into  the marketing the brand growth.  I do a little of this right now but I really want to advance into building content to get people talking and make the best use of Social Media.  It won’t be with my current employer, I have way too many issues with them and their ineptitude in the digital world.  I find this hard to answer because I’ve never been one for planning ahead.  Probably why I’m so far behind.

I want to say a big thank you to Cameron for this, as I found it really interesting. I’m looking to go into a similar career myself, so it was great to get an in depth view of what to expect. Does anyone else work in this industry? What do you think? Or do any of you want to go into this industry too?

 

I’m feeling at peace

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For the first time in months, I finally feel at peace. I think that’s because the last six months or so have been a blur of coursework, exams, train journeys, job interviews and a tonne of stress. However this week, I’m finally feeling a bit more settled with my life and where things are going. It seems to help that I’m filling my life with as much positivity as possible whether that’s in terms of work, in terms of family, and in terms of my social life.  Me and Rich also renewed the tenancy on our flat for another year last month, so it’s nice to know that that’s all sorted out too.

I’ve settled into my new job and am finding myself enjoying the routine of it all. I’ve been training in the stock room and on the sales floor which has meant having to learn lots of new things, and also has had me pushing myself out of my comfort zone as I’ve been meeting lots of new people and getting used to a new environment. I was pretty worried about how often I would be working etc, but I’ve been lucky in that my contract means  I don’t have to work weekends, something which is really important to me, as Rich works full time in the week, and the weekend tends to be the time where we spend some time together whether that’s visiting a new place, visiting family, or just relaxing at home.

I’ve also had great news as I’ve passed my second year of uni! I don’t know what my overall grade for the year is yet, but I know I’ve managed to achieve a 1:1 in my Publishing module, and 2:1’s in my Poetry and Work Based Learning modules which I’m really proud of. Uni has had me feeling quite unsettled this year, as at the end of my first year I didn’t do as well as I hoped and even considered giving it up. Now I’ve reached the end of this year, I’m so glad that I didn’t. Commuting to uni has really helped me to focus on what’s important in terms of my studies and I’m grateful for that as I want to give myself the best start in life possible.

A couple of weeks ago you guys might have read my post on driving lessons. That post was written at a time when I was feeling really down about my lessons and was even considering giving them up altogether. After a lot of consideration, I decided that I needed to make a change, and in my case, that change was switching driving instructors… for the third time. Okay, so I know it seems ridiculous, but I just wasn’t gelling with my second instructor. I was feeling stressed and angry after every lesson as I felt that I wasn’t really making any progress, and it struck me as strange that as a learner with over forty hours of driving experience under my belt, I was still driving around quiet side streets. Therefore, I switched for the third (and hopefully final) time. This time I think I’ve struck lucky, as after only three hours of tuition with my new instructor, he’s advised me to book my driving test, which I have! It turns out I’m not a terrible driver after all. We’ve been working on roundabouts, driving on country roads, hill starts and manoeuvres, so hopefully by the end of this year I’ll finally have my own car…. hopefully.

So there you go. That’s why I’m finally starting to feel a bit more at peace with everything. How are you finding your peace?

It’s okay to be shy

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If you know me, then you’ll probably be wondering what this post is about. That’s because in front of my close friends and in front of my family, I’m not shy in the slightest. I’m loud, I can be sarcastic, I can be moody, I make jokes, and I’m confident. The problem comes when I meet new people or when I’m in a situation where I feel totally and utterly out of my depth.

The thing is, I like meeting new people. I try to be friendly, I try to get to know people, but sometimes my shyness gets in the way. I often worry that it makes me come across as rude when I don’t say a lot in social situations, or when I don’t make eye contact.

I don’t think it’s just me who feels this way. I think a lot of people do. When you’re shy, it can often seem lonely. You actively go out of your way to avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable. It makes things such as job interviews or even simply going to a party a living nightmare. We constantly think that all eyes are on us. It makes us blush, it makes us fumble our words, it makes us want the ground to swallow us up.

I read an article recently that said that people tend to trust shy people more because shyness is a way of people outwardly expressing their emotions. Apparently shy people tend to be more emotional, they tend to care more about others, and they tend to have a generally warmer personality. The words of this article really stayed with me. I do try to always think about others, and I do tend to be quite an emotional person. It helped me to see the positive side of my shy nature.

I keep seeing the same quote- ‘shyness has ruined so many great opportunities.’ In a way it makes me angry and I found this to really affect me. It’s true, shyness has ruined opportunities for me, but it doesn’t mean it has to ruin any more for me. As I’m getting older, I’m trying to break away from my comfort zone, to break through the shyness. I think that believing that quote will stop you from taking great opportunities, and that the best thing to do is to not let shyness be the catalyst that stops you from living the life you want to.

My main aim of writing this is just to say to all my fellow shy people out there- it’s okay. You’re not alone. People don’t dislike you because you’re shy. Chances are, when they get to know you, and realise that you’re shy, they’ll go out of their way to help make you feel more comfortable. And besides, confidence grows as you get older. Remember that. You don’t need to let shyness control your life. Take a deep breath, remember that it’s just who you are, and try your best. Shyness doesn’t have to hold you back anymore.

Dear Future Self…

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Dear Future Beth,

Remember that you don’t need to be so shy. You don’t need to go red just because you feel like everyone’s eyes are on you. You don’t need to look at the floor when you’re talking or to mumble out all your words because you’re worried that your ideas aren’t good enough. Remember how confident you are with you friends and family and channel that. Crack a smile, maybe try out a joke, throw your hair back, and remember that you look fabulous. We both know you wouldn’t have left the house looking like a scruff.

On the other hand, remember that you don’t need to worry about what you look like. It’s okay to occasionally throw on a pair of leggings and a baggy t shirt, or to tie your hair up because you didn’t have time to do it properly. No one really cares that much anyway. Remember when you were really paranoid because you found holes in the front of all your tops? You were so paranoid for ages that they were caused by the washing machine, when really they were caused by that cheap belt that you bought from Primark three years ago.

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself too. You’ll get there when you get there. It doesn’t matter if it takes you a few months or a few years, so stop fretting about it so much. Run a hot bath, pour in some of that coconut scented bubble bath that you love so much and read your book. There’s nothing you can do but your best.

Lastly, don’t let anything hold you back. If you want to travel round the world then do it. If you want to be a career girl then do it. You only have one life, so why waste it? You’ll only regret what you didn’t do in the past.

Have you got all that? Good.

Love from,

Present Day Beth

xxx

9 things making me happy right now

7969e4032d478ff28fbfe7f1101e4fc3This post’s pretty self explanatory, but seeing as I’m pretty happy with my life at the moment, I thought I’d share the reasons why with you. 

My family– Last year when I lived in Chester, I didn’t get to see my family as much as I liked. This was due to the fact that the only living space I had was a tiny little bedroom which wasn’t great for my family to be able to pop round for a brew! Now I live in Manchester, it’s only a half an hour drive from Wigan, and I have a lot more living space for people to get cosy in.

My friends- I’m really lucky to have two great groups of friends. I have my uni friends who I met last year and whom I’m still really close with, and I have my friends from home who I still see regularly. I know that I could pick up the phone anytime I had a problem and they’d be there for me, so if any of them are reading this, thanks for being fab!

My boyfriend– As well as great friends, I also have a lovely boyfriend, Rich, who puts up with me on a daily basis which is pretty brave to be honest with you, as I can be an absolute nightmare to live with! Instead of getting annoyed with my angry outbursts, he tends to laugh and be constantly laidback which works well against my fiery personality. So if he’s reading this (which he probably will) then thank you!

Warm weather– Here in Manchester, it’s being surprisingly warm recently. Normally it’s always grey and raining, but for the last few weekends we’ve been blessed with sunshine. This has meant lots of fun days out and a tonne of sunbathing on the gardens outside my flat. It’s also been lovely to take a wander down the canal in the evening.

Reading- I’ve got so much reading done recently, it’s been great! When I lived at uni last year, I pretty much stopped reading for the first time in my life. But since moving to Manchester, I’ve started reading at least two books a week. I’m particularly loving crime thrillers at the moment, I’ve recently finished all of Simon Kernick’s novels. Check them out if you’re into that sort of thing!

Cooking- If you’ve read any of my previous posts, then you’ll know that I never used to be able to cook, but recently I’ve started getting quite into it. I’ve been researching lots of new recipes and trying new ingredients out which has been loads of fun. I’m now the main chef in our house too, which kinda makes me feel like I’m stepping into adulthood!

Eating healthier- Since Christmas, I’ve managed to lose around eight pounds which I’m really happy with. I’ve done this by doing lots of walking and by making a few healthier food choices. I’m determined to keep going and get my bikini body ready for my holidays!

Sorting out the flat- Also since Christmas, me and Rich have been trying to make our flat feel more like home. We’ve bought lots of new bits and pieces and done a lot of sorting out through our wardrobes and cupboards to try and make a bit more space. I’m really pleased with the result!

Coffee- This may seem like a silly thing, but coffee is the one thing that I’m always drinking. I know it’s not too good for me, but I tend to drink two cups before I even leave the house in the morning. We’ve just bought a new coffee machine which makes excellent coffee and means I don’t have to spend as much in Caffee Nero as I have all the coffee that I want at home.

What’s making you happy recently?

 

 

Life chapters

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Is it just me or does everything in life seem to inevitably come to an end? I feel that for the last couple of years I enter a new chapter and then before I know it, it’s over and it’s onto the next one. I feel that we’re always weaving in and out of places, never truly settling and never truly understanding everything these chapters have to offer. I feel we spend too much time missing the previous chapters, being afraid to say goodbye to them, as if we can’t cope without the comfort that they temporarily brought us. .

I’m writing this as the end of an internship finishes. I’ve been working here for five weeks, and it’s been really helpful to try and figure out what exactly it is I want to do when I finish university next year. When I finish here, it will be onto the next chapter of trying to find myself a summer job to save up some money. And then it’s onto the next chapter as I start my third and final year of uni, and after that… well I’m not sure. Hopefully find myself a job, something more than what will simply just pay the bills, something that will inspire me everyday and make me actually want to get up in the morning.

‘What happens next’ is truly an important part of growing up. It’s something I’m always thinking about. Last year when I was finishing my second year of uni, I would never have imagined that I would have had a summer job at an airport, followed by my second year of university that flew  by and then an internship in a career field which I’d never even considered before last summer. All those chapters may be over now, but there’s going to be more chapters in my life and I’m going to look forward to them.

I used to worry every time about starting a new chapter, about what if I didn’t like it, what if I didn’t fit in? But it’s not something  to be afraid of. Each new chapter has brought something else to my life and has given me clarity on how to go about the next chapter.

We need to enjoy the good parts, learn from the bad parts, and then decide what happens next. As we grow older still, life chapters aren’t just a case of moving up in education and finding a career, they become so much more than that. They intertwine our lives with other people as they take us through the milestones of marriage, children, grandchildren and old age. I’m hoping that by that point I’ll have grown used to them. Life chapters are something we need to grasp hold of as we go on our individual life journeys.