Young people are not ‘disengaged’ with Politics.

Let me just start by saying that not all young people are disengaged with politics. This is a completely presumed myth that has somehow turned into fact. I feel as if people just automatically presume this due to the demographics involved in politics for as long as anybody can remember. As an example, after the 2010 election, the average MP age fell (FELL?!) to 50 years of age. This makes people panic about young people, but don’t you worry, most of us have got this politics thing worked out just fine. Just because we’re not all running around in suits at the House of Commons, it does not mean that we are not disinterested, uninvolved, and uneducated about politics.

This year’s election (2015) was my first year of being allowed to vote, and though this is a big deal, I’d rather keep my personal political views private. Though, my point is that even I was overwhelmed at other young people my age so heavily involved with politics. I suppose the media had tricked me, as well as others, into believing that the ‘youth’ just didn’t care. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, the ‘I’m voting!’ button on Facebook was rather cringeworthy, but engagement on social media regarding the election and politics was incredible, and who makes up the main demographic on social media sites? Young people. I saw arguments upon arguments in Facebook comments and Twitter mentions. But this is in no way a bad thing. I’m hoping it shows the concerned older generation out there that we do actually care about what’s happening to our country, and world, for that matter. One day we’re going to have to sort out the messes that recent governments have created, and I feel comfort in knowing that my generation is fully aware of this. Though we may be divided through our political differences, we are united in caring about our futures.

The House of Commons could always, always do with a shake up. More female MPs, and the other usual issues, and I believe it’s about time that we started putting some focus on the ageism within politics. There are young individuals involved heavily with politics, but it’s time to stop being individuals and start being a majority, which already happens on social media, but in order for people to actually notice, it’s time to go further. With blogs, being involved in demonstrations, signing petitions, whatever, it’s just time to put these myths about not caring about how our country is ran to rest. I’m sick of hearing lectures from older generations about the importance of politics, we already know.

Somebody close to me recently counted the general election votes for our area, and indulged me in the variety of ages involved, most of these people having the motivation to count due to their interest in politics. But the media never seems to notice this, maybe it’s because it’s easier to attack youths than pensioners because there’s less guilt involved. Or perhaps people are only interested in reading about what trouble young people have started again. It’s amazing how many people forget they were 18 once.

I do agree that the country can do so much more to educate young people about politics as a whole, though. I admit, I feel like I don’t completely understand or know everything to do with the political system, and if I had this education at a younger age I would be able to make much more informed decisions about most things in my life. There would be no harm with putting Politics on the school curriculum. Just as long as it wasn’t biased, which I feel is easier than most people believe. Teachers do not have to, nor should they need to, indulge students in their personal political beliefs, but should rather point pupils to resources that they need to make their own decisions, websites such as https://voteforpolicies.org.uk/, or textbooks that include history about the political system in Britain. Teach them how the voting system works, how important decisions are made by the Government, and even show them their local political system. Emphasise democracy in the school environment. Encourage them to write to MPs about what they believe needs to change, inspire them to be even more involved/interested that a huge amount of them already are. I don’t understand why this isn’t already happening.

Granted, my above points are slightly late in timing since the general election has just happened, but we all have a responsibility for the next five years to stop the media making out all young people to be uninterested with everything, really. We have five years to make some kind of significant political change in this country. Let’s actually do it this time.

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A Year On…

It seems so strange to be thinking that it’s around my blog’s 1st birthday. No, I won’t be shoving a birthday cake into my computer screen, or getting all emotional and lighting a Chinese lantern to reminisce on the past year of continuously becoming frustrated with WordPress wanting money from me to simply change the colour scheme of my site. Instead, I had a huge urge to delete my blog and all of the content on it. This morning, I genuinely hovered my mouse over the ‘delete site’ button, because for some reason, what was written on my blog didn’t seem real, or good enough, any more. For example, I have recently become more absorbed in other things in my life that have kept me from writing content, and for so long I went on about University not being worth it for young people, all of which seems to have amounted to nothing. One of the most difficult things about writing is looking back at your work and knowing that’s it’s not good enough and doesn’t meet your standards.

Obviously, since you’re reading this, I haven’t been a complete idiot and deleted my blog, because I realised that even though what I have produced in the last year may not have been good enough for me, there have been multiple occasions where what I have written has pleased, and maybe even impressed, other people, and my blog has helped me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.

Firstly, my blog gave me more of a voice (cliché), because frankly there’s no way I could have got away with writing about UCAS or Gove in the way I did, in some sort of school newsletter. It also gave me a unique voice. Whilst it’s all fine and dandy blogging about make-up, hair, and shoes, I feel like there’s something much more empowering about being controversial and writing about topics that maybe other young people don’t have the courage to.

Secondly, as an aspiring journalist, my blog gave me an easy and free platform to write on, which then lead on to me writing for Wannabe Hacks, Future Talent, Lunacy of Ink, and as of today, I am a writer for Shout Out UK, with many, many more exciting projects in the pipe line. Plus, being nominated in the Cosmo Blog Awards still doesn’t feel real yet.

Lastly, writing my blog has caused me to mature. Though I may post the occasional (hilarious) cat picture on Twitter, I’m much more aware of how to have a structured conversation/debate with an adult about difficult subjects, for example I had a conversation not too long ago about the scam that I believe to be Private & Independent schools.

Overall, I should be proud of how far Through A Fresh Pair of Eyes has come in a year, and strive to create better content if I am not happy with what already exists. What can you take from this? Creating a blog is a really great opportunity and experience, but if you’re not going to make it original, and mean something, then is it really worth it?

I’m still on the search for guest bloggers, so if you fancy have a little whine on this website as opposed to your website then just contact me laurenleacunningham@gmail.com.

The Top 10 most asked interview questions – TRANSLATED!

I felt it was only suitable, since many young people will begin to look for jobs this summer, to write the most cliché post about interview questions, but with a twist and some honest brutality! I found the most asked interview questions from The Telegraph (https://jobs.telegraph.co.uk/article/10-most-frequently-asked-interview-questions/), and I’m going to translate them for you. Aren’t you lucky? ‘But Lauren, they are simple’ you say? There, you are mistaken…

So, in no particular order:

‘Tell me about yourself
What it may appear to mean: The interviewer is interested in you as a person, and wants to know all about your hobbies and the mates that you hang around with, and that one time your cat ate your goldfish. How lovely of them to ask. 

Honest, brutal translation: I don’t actually care about you, or what you do when you are outside of these offices, but my manager says I can’t phrase it like that, in case we do hire you. I want you to give me the character profile of who we are looking to hire, and try and make it at least a little bit convincing, I’ve had five people in before you who were plain terrible at lying. 

My advice: Research the type of people that already work at the company (without gaining a restraining order), and try to see what their qualities are. Obvs, be sensible with this; do not say you are into computer science (because you saw one of their employees had a degree in this), if firstly you are not, and secondly you are applying to a completely unrelated job, e.g Chief Tea Maker. Finally, it’s not worth changing yourself completely for one job, you won’t enjoy it as much if you can’t actually be yourself.

 ‘What are your key skills/strengths?
What it may appear to mean: This is secretly a challenge, I want you to list as many good things you have done in your life in thirty seconds, GO!

Honest, brutal translation: I need you to let me know that you actually have the skills to fulfil the job that you are applying for, otherwise you’re completely wasting my time. Oh and for gods sake make the skills relevant.

My advice: You can’t just list random skills, they have to relate to the job you are applying for. Don’t try to list as many as you can, prioritise your best and most relevant skills. Tip: Strength does not mean physical strength. I can tell you many horror stories of people that have mixed this up, but that’s for another time. 

‘What are your weaknesses?’ 
What it may appear to mean: Wow, up to now you appear like the perfect person for the job, please dear immortal, tell me where you flaw. I’m certainly going to believe you if you say ‘I don’t have any’. 

Honest, brutal translation: Every other interviewer in the history of interviews asks this question, so I should probably do it too, you know, to keep up. Plus, if you’re cocky and think you’re amazing at everything your co-workers are probably going to hate you, and that’s even more paperwork for HR. 

My advice: You have a weakness. If you think you don’t have a weakness, make one up. If you’re a crier, like me, please avoid anything that is going to start the tears flowing. For the love of god, the interviewer doesn’t want to know that you are emotionally unstable. Plus, here’s a top tip, show how the weakness can be improved quickly by getting the job you are being interviewed for. No cheesy stuff, avoid the cheese. 

‘Why did you leave your old job?’
What it may appear to mean: OOO give us some juicy detail on that MASSIVE argument you had with your boss. 

Honest, brutal translation: Show us you can have some confidentiality and handle yourself well in pressurised situations. We don’t like a gossip. 

My advice: Unless it’s for legal reasons, you don’t have to tell the interviewer everything. The best thing to say when asked this question is something along the lines of ‘I felt like I could not advance any more where I was’, or something more suitable that proves you are serious about this new job. 

And finally, the gut-wrencher…..

‘What are your salary expectations?’

What it may appear to mean: IF YOU SEEM GREEDY IN ANY WAY YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE JOB. TIME TO WORK FOR FREE, SUCKER.

Honest, brutal translation: Money is pretty important, that’s kind of one of the main reasons you will be working for us. Let’s test you and see what your priorities are. 

My advice: You don’t want to get into a difficult situation with money that causes an argument in your interview, so handle this properly if you get a job offer. During the job offer, try and emphasise that salary is negotiable, and when asked for a figure give a realistic range of numbers that isn’t going to scare them away from you…

You don’t NEED to vote.

For those of you who may have been living in your little cage of revision, today was the day for people to vote in the EU elections. This may be an iconic day for some of you, if like me you have recently turned 18 and therefore are voting officially for the first time. Let me stress something: This does not mean you HAVE to vote. First of all, let me start by saying that I certainly didn’t; I felt like I didn’t know enough about the candidates standing to vote effectively, and I’m certainly not going to abuse my right to vote.

This relates back to what I have seen so much on social media of today – people pressurising other people to vote. Yes, we have the right to vote, but that doesn’t mean we have to. By not voting I am not ‘abusing the system’, and by not voting it does not mean I can’t have an opinion on the election as a whole. One comment I heard in particular today was ‘If you don’t vote, then you can’t complain’. A vote is something that I believe to be completely a person’s choice, and I think it is wrong to pressurise people into voting when they don’t particularly want to. I would rather make my vote educated rather than just closing my eyes and picking a random box to tick.

I mean, Facebook is even pressuring me now. Five times today I have heard my phone ‘pinging’, and every time it has been Facebook trying to tell me where my nearest voting station is. Not that they’re hard to miss, with the big white signs. Yes, I agree, it’s amazing we have the right to vote, and society has come very far, but I also have the right to buy 10 tons of chocolate every day if I wanted to, and I certainly don’t that. Because I don’t want to. It is not hard to understand. If you are a young person that has voted today, well done to you, but I do hope it was an educated decision, or because you wanted to, not down to the peer pressure.

It feels as if nobody pressures older people to vote, and that is what annoys me the most. I would never go up to my parents, or anybody older, and interrogate them with statements such as ‘Oh, I hope you have voted’, ‘You better have voted, otherwise *insert people they don’t want to get into power* will win’.

I’m certainly passionate about politics, but I’m not passionate about pushy people.

The self-proclaimed philosophers of the internet

We all have a teenager on one of our social networks that think they are literally philosophers. Sometimes I dread to open Facebook because I know my news feed will be full of that one person’s comments. Comments such as the re-used Marilyn Monroe ‘quote’, ‘If you can’t handle me at my worst then you certainly don’t deserve me at my best’, or the typical quote about heartbreak. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with expressing yourself, but at least do it originally, because re-using the same quotes used by other people over and over again is certainly boring.

I can guarantee these are the same people that delete their Instagram photos after 3 minutes if they don’t get any likes…

21 creative ways to survive during exam season

1. Actually revise. Duh.
2. Read examiner’s reports.
3. After becoming frustrated with examiners blaming everything on students rather than the difficult paper they set, eat.
4. Eat some more.
5. Eat even more, that you’re full enough so you won’t have to leave your room for the rest of study leave.
6. Somehow break your internet. It’s officially the worst distraction.
7. Make a song about what you’re revising. Any genre. Other than k-pop. K-pop sucks.
8. Try not to regret not paying attention in lessons.
9. Accept the fact you probably aren’t going to have any friends for a few weeks.
10. Make sure you actually own enough stationary to get you through the exams.
11. Eat.
12. Sleep.
13. Breathe.
14. Remember to stay clean, you can afford 20 minutes not revising in order to have a shower.
15. Revise at some point without music, you won’t have Britney Spears to listen to in the exam.
16. Use The Student Room as your way to vent. Not Twitter. Please not Twitter.
17. Recite: ‘Procrastination is bad’ whenever you start to procrastinate.
18. Place post-it notes the places you go most, i.e the fridge.
19. Occasionally throw darts at a picture of Michael Gove.
20. Turn up to your exams.
21. Read this blog to make yourself feel a little bit better.

 

There is no such thing as becoming ‘old’.

Hi, yes I’m still here (this introduction is becoming all too familiar), though I am rapidly drowning in a sea of past papers.

I once had an enlightening conversation with a stranger when waiting for a train, and I feel like now is the time that it is really relevant to speak about. Perhaps it was fate that I had forgotten my headphones for that particular journey, as I am not usually the type to speak to strangers on a station platform, as romantic as it may sound. Let me set the scene for you, it was a very early morning, and I was impatiently waiting for a train to take me to a talk about future careers, in London, and to be perfectly bleak with you, I wasn’t looking forward to it. ‘It was going to be like all the rest’, I thought, other eighteen year olds will come up to introduce themselves and bare their teeth at me in some sort of perverted grin, simply looking to rip my hopeful future prospects into pieces in their imagination to make themselves feel better about their own. I’ve done it before – smelt the competition in a room full of other adolescents, hoping that I’d never have to come across them again, because quite frankly, they’re all a hell of a lot better than me. The rain was pouring, my clothes felt uncomfortable, my hair just didn’t seem to sit right on my head, and all I could think about was whether my mascara was smudging. I wasn’t even thinking about the people around me.

In hindsight, it was clear that this day was going to be different. Well for a start, it is the only time I have ever witnessed chivalry at a train station; a man saw that I was stood next to the bench and offered me his seat, which I took, which is strange because thinking of it, I would usually say ‘Oh no thank you, I’m fine’, using the forced smile I give to customers at work when I’m holding a plate that is practically burning my entire hands off to convey ‘Please take the sodding plate from me before I Frisbee it across the table’.  Being exceptionally British, I had arrived at my platform in time for another train to arrive and depart before mine came to collect me, meaning that the chivalrous man had left, and there was only myself and a few others left on the platform, including a very elderly woman sat on the others side of the bench. I hardly even heard her when she spoke, mostly because the birds around me were fighting violently over a croissant crumb that somebody had dropped. I had to do a double-take at what the lady had said, though. It was one of those moments where you need to know for definite what the person had said, due to the danger of looking like a complete idiot by giving a random reply. The lady had said ‘Everybody looks at you the same when you get old’. I’ll admit, at first I was tempted to get up and move to another bench, which is completely awful of me, but I really wasn’t ready for a lecture like this, but there’s just something about people that really intrigues me, and my curiosity kept me firmly planted.

She continued without me having to ask her any sort of awkward question, and she went on to tell me that she hated the way when humans become older people look at you with such pity, as if you haven’t lived, and she had lived, she assured me. The thing she said that stuck with me most was that ‘there is no such thing as becoming ‘old”, and if you think about it, she was completely right. We describe fashion trends as ‘old’, or we may say that we have ‘old friends’, and in these cases it means to be in the past, to be gone, not to relevant any more. It is truly terrifying, to think that as soon as your skin creases, and your posture deteriorates that automatically you are described in this horrifying term. No wonder people say ‘Oh no, I’m getting old’ so often, and being described as ‘elderly’ doesn’t make it any better, it’s simply an adjective. It’s like describing somebody as ‘big’ rather than ‘fat’; we all know what it means. It made me realise, there is no deadline in life, no point at which you can stop doing the things you love, no time that you have to admit your expiry date, and so my impatient wait for the train was seriously minuscule in the big scheme of things. Your revision? It isn’t the end of the world. You have a whole life to lead, living your life never really stops unless you admit defeat.

So this stranger, who I never caught the name of, and who simply uttered a few sentences my way, really got me thinking. I’ll probably value the words of strangers more, instead of only viewing myself in public strangers.

I wanted to dedicate this blog post to Stephen Sutton, who very sadly passed in the early hours of the morning. Reading his story, and connecting the words spoke by the stranger I met made me realise that I don’t believe in comments such as ‘He hardly got to live his life’, because I believe he did. Nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow, and I believe Stephen lived with this philosophy as much as he could, even having terminal cancer. He is one of those rare people in the world that are completely honest through and through, and even though I didn’t know him, I am so proud of his achievements. I think it’s a really beautiful thing to rise through your own personal tragedy to care more about the needs of others. Rest in peace, Stephen.