Why I love learning

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I love learning new things. I always have done, and I hope I always will. This thirst for knowledge was instilled in me from a young age by my parents, who always wanted me to do well in life and have the opportunities they never did. Saturday mornings as a child were spent in my Mum and Dad's bed, learning Capital Cities, inventors and ways to remember the Five Great Lakes (H.O.M.E.S - easy!) Lazy Sunday afternoons were spent having family quizzes to see how much information we'd retained from the morning before, and every evening I was given a word of the day from the dictionary to use in a sentence.
I was fascinated with these words and went through endless stacks of books, taking it all in, using vocabulary well beyond my age. By age 8 I was done with every book in the reading corner and had moved on to my Mum's Virginia Andrews and Catherine Cookson collections. I would read them as I walked home from school, while I was in the bath, when I was supposed to be sleeping- every spare minute I had, I was reading. I wrote poems and short stories, and when I was 11 I had a poem published by Walkers Crisps ;)
When I was 12 I came second in cringeworthy TV show 'Britain's Brainiest Kids'- are you getting a picture of how geeky I was as a kid? In the end I shot myself in the foot with my own cockiness- I was clever and I knew it, and made the fatal mistake of picking 'Literature' as my final round when I had the first choice and could have picked Pot Luck. Big mistake. I swear I could have taken that trophy home if I'd not been such an arrogant idiot. Still haunts me to this day, not that I'm bitter or anything.

Although I've lost a lot of the intelligence I used to have, the yearn to learn (smooth) is still there. I like to know why, and how, and never accept anything at face value. I believe learning is an amazing thing, and often need to remind myself not to get too caught up in routine that I can't spare a minute to learn something new. The brain is just incredible, and the fact that there is so much information out there that I am so clueless about, so much knowledge that my brain is waiting to drink up and is capable of holding just astounds me. Apparently we only use a tiny percentage of our true brain potential so it's mind boggling to think what could really be achieved if we train our brain to expand, and to use more of itself. The opportunity to learn is endless. Even if I learned a new fact every day for the rest of my life, I still wouldn't make a dent in all the things there are to learn in the world. And that is why I love learning.

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Can you handle rejection?

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Last week I found out I was unsuccessful in an application for a promotion I had put in for at work. In my whole working life it was the first interview I've ever been unsuccessful in. I can't say I was shocked, because I wasn't expecting to get the job, but it still stung to know that I wasn't good enough. I felt I had done my best throughout the whole week long process, and knowing that my best wasn't up to the standard required was painful in a way.

I'm a hard worker and throughout my career I've been used to being able to get what I want when I put my mind to it. I had done the role previously with another company, so I know I could have done the job with my eyes closed and I felt it unfair that I seem to have gone unrecognised in a position that is far less stretching than anything I've ever done before.

As a kid, my parents turned everything I did academically into a competition and if I wasn't the best, then what was I doing? "Make sure you beat Seema at that spelling competition, TAKE THAT BITCH DOWN!" "But Dad, I don't know how, I'm only 7!" I also have a tiny black emo heart so I don't deal with rejection or not being the best at things very well. I felt that I failed myself and my partner by not being the best applicant. Cue me spending every night after work curling up on my bed watching The Tudors until my eyes bled and funnelling Reeces Pieces down my throat (literally. I created a cardboard funnel out of the box) and feeling shit about my life, wailing 'WHAT AM I DOING? I'M 25 YEARS OLD AND I CAN'T EVEN GET A PROMOTION!'

In reality, now that I've had a week to think about it, my talents and good qualities are perhaps better suited to a different, more creative role. Just because in someone else's opinion I wasn't best suited to this specific role doesn't necessarily mean I am a failure, and it doesn't mean I won't get another promotion if I put myself forward for one in the future. Shit, even JK Rowling got rejected by 12 publishers before Harry Potter flew into our lives on his Nimbus 2000, and that doesn't have any bearing on her talent whatsoever. They must all be kicking themselves in the goolies for missing out on our bespectacled friend.

Can you handle rejection? Does it get easier the more it happens? How do you keep motivated and stay on track when you've been told you're not good enough?



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Faber Academy QuickFic

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On Friday I entered a short story competition called 'QuickFic' with publishers Faber and Faber to win a stack full of books! Every Friday they release a prompt which could be a phrase or a photograph, and you have to use that as inspiration to write a short story of 250 words or less. The one I entered used the below photograph as a prompt. Unfortunately I didn't win, but I had fun writing it and it got my brain ticking on a Friday afternoon lunch break so I thought I would post my entry below! If you like the sound of the competition, follow @faberacademy on Twitter for more details at 09:50 this Friday!



"Olivia held the photograph in her hand. Slightly crumpled and worn around the edges, it trembled under her touch as she stared in disbelief at the image she remembered so well; a young girl crouched amongst a flock of pigeons, the sun beaming down on her tanned skin, the straps of her dress askew. The image had been burned in her mind for as long as she could remember. The grainy black and white photograph found amongst her patient’s belongings was the only memento she’d had of her childhood, though her own copy had long since been lost. She’d spent many nights dreaming wistfully of the day she would feel as happy as she had when it had been taken. Everything had seemed so much easier back then. Before her world got turned upside down. Before her mother disappeared.
Her heart hammered as her normally stalwart demeanour cracked. “Do we have a positive ID yet?” she barked, slipping the photograph into the pocket of her scrubs.
“Karen Kennedy, according to the driving license that’s been recovered from the scene. Any relation, boss?”
Olivia shot the nurse an unimpressed stare and continued taking the patient’s vital obs.  “Just get this woman ready for theatre as soon as you can. I don’t have time for absurdities”. The door slammed behind her as she fled the room and leant against the cold corridor wall for support. She’d lost her mother once already. She wasn’t about to let it happen again."


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