Thursday, 27 September 2012

Working girl...

...not like that you dirty-minded people!

That title is referring to the fact that this has been what I would call my first full-time week at Starbucks (I've had odd shifts but never on consecutive days). Add to that the fact that it was Freshers Week and you may be able to imagine my current state of exhaustion!

The sudden increase of customers has, however, greatly improved my barista-ing skills. I am now pretty efficient with the beverage routine (what order to steam milk, cue espressos and finish drinks in when you have a big, long, never-ending queue of drinks), know where almost everything is on the till and know how to clean out and rebrew the machines. I would now happily call myself a barista. Don't get me wrong, there is still an awful lot to learn but I have got the basics down pretty well.

A new experience this week has been working in the Starbucks in GSA, down at the bottom of the campus. This is great fun, although the time drags a little more as it is much less busy. It's pretty entertaining because the lobby is filled with performing arts students who will be practicing dramatic scenes and dances or randomly break out into song. There are some really great, if slightly eccentric, characters and it is fun to be able to get to know the customers a little better.

A new love of mine is making frappuccinos. They are just so enjoyable to make. I'm looking forward to next week as we're bringing in two new flavours: Spiced Pumpkin Latte, which is coming to the UK for the first time, and Salted Caramel Mocha. I am now feeling very confident in what I am doing and love the rush I get when it's busy and I'm under pressure to make things!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

To believe or not to believe...

Do you know what? I really need to start having some confidence in myself. But honestly, it seems that no matter what results I achieve, or how many people tell me I've done well, I still keep thinking that everything was down to luck and that someday people are going to wake up and see that I'm a massive fraud. I know people get annoyed (because I was always someone who did) when people say "Oh no, I'm rubbish at that," when really they have excellent results and always seem to do well. I firmly believe that when someone has done really well in something, they need to think, "Actually, I did great in that," politely say thank you and be humble but proud. And I do that. I accept that I have done well in things. I don't deny it when someone says I've done brilliantly in something. I just can't help but think that it's all fluke and one day the world is going to come crashing down on me and I'll have nothing. Meet my irrational brain...

So what sparked this ramble? Well today I sat the UK Clinical Aptitude Test for the second time (I sat it last year). Lots of medical schools require it, in my case it is for Southampton. I was panicking leading up to this for a couple of reasons. 1. I hadn't had a chance to do any practice until yesterday (story of my life) 2. I was very worried that I was going to do worse than last year. Perhaps if I had just been a bit unprepared and was sitting it for the first time and I hadn't quite performed to my full ability, I'd be a little upset but not drastically. However, because I knew how well I'd done last year, I knew that if I did worse this year I would feel like a lazy piece of rubbish who just didn't work hard enough. So it was a little tense.

You get handed your results as soon as you come out which I think is quite a blessing. There's no time to sit mulling it over and fretting.

Thankfully, I had improved on last year. The test is split into four sections. Each is marked out of 900 and the average medical student achieves 600.
My scores last year were:
Verbal Reasoning 690
Abstract Reasoning 690
Quantitative Reasoning 780
Decision Analysis 670
Average 707.5

This year:

Verbal Reasoning 750
Abstract Reasoning 720
Quantitative Reasoning 770
Decision Analysis 680
Average 730

I am pretty darn pleased with my results. I know they are above average and impressive. And yet I still can't shake this feeling that I don't really deserve them and that it was luck.

Maybe after the whole uni application process is over I'll have a little more belief in myself.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Dancing through life

I had my first ballet class since before summer yesterday and, as always, had a blast. So I thought I would tell you a bit about my dancing history seeing as it is something I love so much.

I started dancing when I was three years old after seeing my sister do it for a couple of years and always wanting to join in. I have always gone to The Joanna School of Dance and it is one of my favourite places in the world. I started off with ballet before quickly adding tap and modern. I took exams right from the start and always did pretty well. I got my first competition dance when I was six. It was a modern solo to a song from Aladdin and it was adorable and great fun. At first I didn't win any medals but I was hooked on competing. Gradually I got more and more dances. Most were solos but I also had various duets, trios and troupes over the years. Along the way I started picking up medals and trophies. I just loved being on stage and it showed in all of my dances.

At the studio I took endless amounts of classes and also took part in the biannual extravaganza shows. At one point I was going to dancing every single day of the week. Through my dance school I got parts in big stage productions and lots of audition opportunities that have given me a great amount of life experience.

As I got older and school life got more intense I cut down on the numbers of hours I was dancing, focusing on my technique classes. There was still plenty to focus on as I was always working toward high level exams.

Obviously and very sadly I had to take a break from dancing at the start of my recovery whilst I was in hospital. I have been gradually been easing back into it, not wanting to take on too much whilst doing those little things called A Levels.

But today I went in and had a lovely chat with my dance teacher and signed up for loads of classes. I am very excited to say the least. I can't wait to get back into it regularly and have it as something that I do each week. I am also looking forward to getting some of my flexibility back and improving my technique (my turnout keeps going MIA in ballet!) But most of all I can't wait to get back into seeing my friends regularly and being a part of the awesome, if slightly dysfunctional, family that is JSD.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Lately the posts have been few and far between because my life has been pretty up and down...and quite hectic with it.

I'll start with the bad bits because I like to end on a happy note (basically I want my life to be a fairy tale!) The main bad thing is I've been struggling a bit with my eating disorder and the thoughts that it brings. Many people think that an eating disorder affects you when you have food put in front of you but not at any other time. This is so wrong. It can get into every waking thought you have. For a long time now it has been riding on my shoulders. I go through good patches where I can drown it out a bit and ignore it for a while, but it is always there, ready to pounce. Whenever I'm tired, upset, or sometimes for no apparent reason, it will shout and shout and I can't think about anything else. If I was left alone I honestly believe that I would be able to go for several days just walking around listening to those thoughts and doing nothing else. Luckily, I am not left alone and I have amazing people who can reach into the deafening darkness and drag me upwards for a bit. The thoughts are still shouting but the love and support is fighting against it, shouting too. Of course that makes everything pretty noisy and there are a lot of conflicting emotions but it is better to be confused than to be completely ruled by my eating disorder.

I suppose one of the reasons I have been finding things hard is because a lot of my friends are about to go off to university and start the next chapter of their lives. While I know that my gap year is going to be very exciting and will bring new and unforgettable experiences, I feel very insecure and scared when I think about the fact that I have no solid plans for when that is all over. I'm hoping I will feel slightly better once I have my UCAS form in...although then I'll be waiting on interviews. Does it ever end? Next Wednesday I have the UKCAT test which I did last year but have to redo. Then I just have to sort my personal statement and enter all my grades and qualifications.

So the good stuff...

I just got back from spending a week in Gran Canaria with my friends. It was amazing! We were staying in a gorgeous penthouse with a massive balcony and every modcon. We spent most of our days sunbathing by the pools or on the beach although we did do lots of activities. We did aquafit and aquazumba, played bingo, played Europe's largest minigolf course, drove jetskis and pedaloes and went on a banana boat. We enjoyed lots of ice creams and cocktails (particularly during happy hour!) and also got some wicked tans!

In the evenings we did things ranging from trying out the clubs and bars in Puerto Rico until the early hours, to having girly movie nights in, to me and Abi joining in with the minidisco!

It was an amazing week with so many good memories.

When I got home one of the first things I did was attend our brownie unit for the first time in my role as a leader in training. Up till now I have just been an occasional helper but from now I am going to be doing it regularly. I love the girls and it really helps me with my confidence.

I am in the process of redecorating my room and tomorrow the electrician I coming in to put a socket in the wall by my desk (after 9 years of my mum saying we'd do it!)

I had my first appointment with the adult eating disorders service after moving over from CAMHS and it was a pretty positive experience. It definitely sounds like a better fit for me with a lot more choice and responsibility in my treatment. I'm looking forward to getting to know the team better and building a good relationship with them.

So there are goods and bads and MAJOR ups an downs but I'm pushing through and I'm so so lucky to have the love and support of my friends and family.