Personal

Adventuring into the world of Creativity

Hello. My name is Andreea and I am a creative person.

It’s a bit like a confession for me to say that. This is not an AA meeting, but the feeling is the same.

I’ve started a new journey into the world of Creativity (with a capital C because this is the real world, with amazing people with great skills, international recognition and incredible knowledge).

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My decision to go for a Creative Producing MA came from my coaching sessions with Catriona, a lovely passionate coach who took me on a journey of self-discovery that I fully embraced.

Coaching is not for everyone. At the beginning, it sounds as an ambiguous process where a stranger asks you very personal questions and doesn’t give you any solutions. Few of my friends who did it found it too much for that point in time and felt like they were going in circles during their sessions. I think a lot of it has to do with the connection you establish with your coach. If you find empathy with them, and trust, then you’re off to a good start.

The main things I’ve discovered about myself were:

  • Being vs doing: I’m a doer. I find tasks and complete them (or make them up and complete them) and that gives me a sense of accomplishment. However, the part I don’t always consider as much is ‘being’ and what influences my approach in my day to day tasks.
  • Fun, travelling & exploration motivate me and make me move forward. They’re just as important to me as my other goals
  • Ambition, change & openness: I love to have honesty in my work and a common goal that everyone respects and values. Social change is my main motivator.
  • Environment: Where I am plays a huge role in how I am. A creative environment pushes me forward, challenges me but also inspires.

Although one of my main actions I set for myself as a result of the coaching was to take the time off to go to Bali and just be for a few weeks…that hasn’t happened yet.

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What has happened is that I’ve come away with a sense of adventure in my bones. And this sense of adventure made me step into the world of Creative Producing.

It’s a much more work-focused adventure, but it has the same feeling of fun and inspiring environment.

At the moment I’m fighting my inner demons that tell me that I’m not creative enough to call myself a Creative (notice the big C!). My definitions of Creativity are being challenged every single day and my misconceptions about myself and others, skills and experience, ambition and failure, are in constant change.

I’m slowly but surely finding my place.

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Personal · Uncategorized

How messy are you?

My heart is messier than my room

There might be clothes lying around. With memories of where I wore them and who took them off.

The red dress is lying on the floor. It’s a wardrobe of its own. It’s a reminder that I put up a front of confidence. It tells you I know what I’m doing, that I’m a nice person who cares about what others think, of how I know first impressions are important. But it’s lying there, disregarded as soon as you walk through the door.

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You can find bobby pins all around, bread crumbs from the past, putting together a trail to where it all went wrong. This place was spotless, but now these little signs show you how I’ve learnt and what I’ve been through; how there were people who I felt comfortable with to put my hair up. They’re hidden in the most obscure of places and exactly when you thought you couldn’t find any more, you’ll one day discover they’re everywhere and you can’t get rid of them; just accept them.

There’s a bit of dust everywhere. Not covering it all just of yet; you could get rid of it with a quick swipe. But it’s starting to settle and it announces no one’s been through here in a while. It’s just been me and my feelings, gathering the particles and clinging on to them as they represent the pause my heart has needed.

Then there are the pictures on the wall, showing where I’ve been and what inspires me. You don’t see these at first; you have to question, to ask about the past and about abstract feelings and not everyone is comfortable with that. They lead to the most interesting conversations, but are you brave enough?

If you start looking in drawers, you might get lost in the sea of unnecessary things hidden away. If you open the wrong one, they might just fill up the room and you’ll find yourself swimming in a sea of regret, mistakes and misadventure.

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Then there are the boxes. Boxes of people long forgotten that somehow always find a way of getting spilled on the floor. You might pick up one of these and then a necklace that says ‘Forever’ catches your eye. It’s now rusty and you see how ironic it is that even Forever doesn’t last the passage of time.

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A cute fluffy animal is hidden away in a dark corner of the wardrobe. It has instructions that say if you put it in the microwave for 3 minutes, it can heat the whole place up. You can see it hasn’t been loved in a long time and its warmth has long gone from its limp body.

Finally you get in front of the mirror and it’s so clean and clear you can see every one of your freckles staring back of you. The light from the window shines so bright it gives an eery feel to the place.

This might be messy and complicated, but it’s honest. It knows itself better than any other place, with all its nooks and crannies. It might be a scary room to go, but it’s not afraid of turning the light on itself and remembering. Because the darkest corners are the ones we turn our backs on.

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Book reviews · Personal

Asking for it by Louise O’Neill | Book review

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Content warning: rape

I just finished Asking for it by Louise O’Neill and I’m broken. I’m shattered in a million pieces and I don’t know if this is the right time to try to write something relevant, but I’ll try.

Asking for it is the story of Emma O’Donovan, a teenager who finds herself on her porch, in a big mess, after a huge party. She can’t remember a significant part of the night before, but she finds graphic, explicit photos plastered all over Facebook, showing the world everything that’s happened at the party. This is the main premise and if you think it’s not plausible, then take a look at the Steubenville case.

This is such a compelling story and the quote on the cover describes it best. It’s written with a scalpel. It cuts deep and it physically hurts to read. It’s so honest and blunt and shattering that it made me despise it. I hate this still happens today and the scale of it.

It’s the story of our rape culture, victim blaming and the horrific way women are treated in when it comes to sexual abuse and assault.

I don’t want to talk about the story itself, I’m too emotional for that. What I do want to say is that the criticism the book’s received (in small amounts) is that the main character is not likeable. And I found that to be even more powerful. It doesn’t matter how awful a person is, how awful a woman is. No one deserves to have their choice over their own body taken away from them. Another is around the ending, but that’s a spoiler, so I’ll just say that it made sense to me. It made me even angrier, but that’s what happens when you stay true to yourself and when you’re a realistic writer. Things don’t always end in a pretty red bow.

Now this book talks about a girl and what happens to her after she’s raped by 4 boys who then proudly publish what they’ve done on social media. Everyone’s reaction to what happens is sickening and despicable. It makes me want to crawl into a ball under my covers and never come out again.

I empathised to much with what Emma was feeling. Shame, whore, slut. I’ve been there myself, it’s not what women think only in extreme situations when they’re under the scrutiny of an entire town. On a night out, dancing and drinking and forgetting about responsibilities. In the back of my mind, every single time when I find myself in that situation, I feel judged and I have a voice in the back of my mind that says: be careful, watch out, look around and see if there are any possible threats. If I get carried away and have too much fun and do something that can be judged as immoral whore, slut, shame shame, then the next day I’m a mess. The shame covers everything else. Why did you do that? Did you want attention? Did you want them staring at you, why did you drink so much, why did you wear that short skirt, why did you have a cleavage?

Shame. Again and again. I swear to myself never to drink again, never to be vulnerable again…because think of what could have happened.

How can we live in a society that teaches women to be ashamed, to always be on guard because we can’t know when any man around us might go apeshit and rape us? How can we live in a world where our friends, our boyfriends, our husbands are not to be trusted and we always have to see them as a possible animal?

I don’t want to live in a rape culture. I don’t want to be ashamed and afraid all the time. I don’t want girls like Emma to have all the responsibility of not getting raped.

When it does happen, we are placid. We are so used to the system that doesn’t work and won’t work for us if we don’t struggle. I don’t know how politically correct I’m going to be now, but I can’t help but be afraid. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. I don’t think we’re at a point where the victim is protected by the justice system enough, so they don’t go through trauma after trauma if they do report their assault. When a woman is raped in any other way than a stranger on an alley way, then she’s going to be questioned, stripped off her dignity, scrutinised and put under a microscope. I don’t know if I would advise a friend to go to the police straight away, even though my instinct is to say: fight! You need to fight, this is wrong and it shouldn’t have happened to you, it’s not your fault and they need to pay for what they’ve done. However, because the system is not right yet and doesn’t work for the victim, who am I to say: get broken in a million more pieces, remember this for every person who’s going to ask you about it, relive it a million times again and go through pain again and again until you’re no longer a human being? I can’t.

There are people who help and there are those who want to change things. But in the meantime, what do we do? We raise our girls to be scared and our boys to be feared?

We need to talk about this. To have a serious conversation about all the implications of our rape culture and what it’s doing to our girls and boys, women and men. How it’s harming our relationships, our values as humans and our mental health.

Rating: ★★★★★ – I hated it, I hate that we need so many more books like this

I picked up this book because of the #bangingbookclub – created by YouTubers Hannah Witton, Leena Norms and Lucy Moon, where they pick books on sex and review them spoiler free on video and fully on a podcast. They’re awesome, check out their review below.

Personal

Millennial

Happy 2016, everyone! It’s a new year, it’s a new day and we’re all setting new goals and raising our expectations high for our lives and projects.

I’ll admit it – I’ve been a bit stuck lately. I think it has to do with focus in the new year and the end of a pretty big project at work. I was concentrating all of my energy into this one thing and making it successful (which it was, hurray!) and now everything is up to me again.

With the new year, I started looking more closely at my goals for the future as well. Many interesting projects are coming along, but in a way, I feel I’m still at the drawing board phase in my life. I’ve figured some stuff out, I feel like I’m on the right path, but it’s still me defining what exactly I want to achieve.

 

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I was really lucky and found an outlet that explains just that: Millenial – the podcast that talks about maneuvering your 20s. It starts off with a confused protagonist. Megan Tan just finished college and she’s decided not to go the traditional route and get the first graduate job that comes along. Instead, she’s looking for what she really wants to do.

I identified with it so quickly that I got scared of how well I fit the stereotype. After I finished university, I was exactly the same. I felt lost and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my degree. Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I studied – journalism.

But there are so many possibilities, with an arts degree in particular. I could become:

  • a news reporter in print, radio, TV, online, multimedia
  • a feature writer
  • a reviewer (of books, movies, games, music),
  • a researcher
  • social media assistant
  • radio producer, presenter, editor
  • editorial assistant
  • copywriter
  • blogger
  • vlogger
  • content creator
  • communications assistant
  • freelance writer.

And that’s just to name a few.

I could also focus on a certain subject and specialise in that nieche – I’d done that already, working for a sustainability magazine. I was interested in environmental news and reporting, but I also love books and publishing.

I did my dissertation on investigative journalism and loved every moment of it. I did investigations for news pieces that went into my portfolio and I researched everything on the Freedom of Information Act.

I loved Media Law and Ethics and was really keen on dwelving in deeper and examining the issues regulation brings up in investigative journalism – so I would have liked to be even a research assistant or go in academia.

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Having all these options de-centred my usual focus and a world of possibility meant I didn’t really have a clear idea, a staight forward line to go on. It’s such a blessing and a curse at the same time. I felt free to move about, experiment with my career, hopeing some day I will find what I’m meant to do.

At the same time, it meant I had the enormous responsibility of choosing the right one. I was in charge of my own happiness. Of course, I had more experience in some areas than in others, but I had the support available from family and friends who told me I could do anything I wanted.

Overwhelmed by all these choices, I took a side step. I decided to get away from it and carefully consider what I wanted. I took a break. I went on a teaching English course and straight after that I got a job in a school in Spain. I did what I found easiest there, I went with my skill set rather than my aspirations.

That year abroad made me realise I can’t run away from my ambition. I could continue to do it and I learnt so much there – but it wasn’t enough for me.

Now I’m back at the drawing board – with a job I love, but still deciding what’s the next step. The narcissism in this plays a big part too. I realise I’m part of a generation that’s been told to follow our dreams – and then following economic collapse, we were left with designers, artists, journalists, musicians working in coffee shops and bars, or even worse, not working at all.

I know I’m priviledged and I acknowledge the struggle so many people go through. It makes my worries seem little and not important, but it doesn’t make them go away.

So what do I plan to do about it? I haven’t figured it out yet, but starting a conversation is a good first step. Keep an eye out for more millenial struggles.

Personal

Advice from my past self

We believe that we can change the things round us in accordance with our desires – Marcel Proust, In search of lost time

What do you want from this world? What do you want to give it and what do you expect it to give to you?

 

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We want to change people, situations, ideas that we come across. However, more often than not we find a way to derail our thinking, our objectives and just go round the things we don’t like.

That’s what Proust says and that acceptance of flaws or what we view as flawed is a million times harder than fighting to mend, to reshape.

Some battles are not ours and in order to be happy, we need to let things be, adapt and move on.

Change doesn’t happen in a split second and maybe you’ll never know what butterfly effect your words or actions will have on people you wanted to change, but staying true to yourself and finding your own happiness will benefit the world more than if you let what bothers you overtake you.

All the battles you’ve been in teach you acceptance. If you’ve lost, marvel at your ability to fight. Loss teaches you so much more than winning.

See yourself as you truly are: a wanderer, lost in a world of complexity and do what’s best for you. Maybe you won’t always be happy, you don’t know until you’ve failed so many times that what’s left can only be the right answer.

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Seek the meaning of your experiences and accept them for what they are.

If you wake up every day dreading the mundane ahead of you, you can’t be happy. Don’t disappear in a fog of certainty when the days are the same old same old. Take charge and have art and change and people to keep you grounded in a reality that’s good enough to live in.

Change what you need as soon as you notice it, as soon as you notice yourself withering under the routine of your passing. Live with love pouring through your veins and don’t let your dreams shrivel and die. Don’t go through life as a moving corpse because you’re the one controlling your feelings, actions and faith.

Don’t let society tell you what you need. Take chances and find your happiness.

Personal

Mental health and immigration

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We’ve been having some great conversations on mental health on the radio lately and it’s made me think quite a lot about different aspects of how we talk about it.

I think the easiest when talking about mental health is to base your thoughts on your personal experience and the experience of those who you know best, who talked to you about their issues and the friends you’ve tried to help.

My family has a history of depression. It’s started with my grandad who started experiencing pains in his abdomen when he was about 30. He tried to get to the root of the problem by going to so many doctors we’ve lost count. All they could say was it was psychological.

Somehow, the pain disappeared just as suddenly as it had come up. However, it came back about 12 years ago, in his 60s and he’s been dealing with it ever since. He’s on a number of drugs for his depression and he has bad days and good days, whole years that are better than others and the pain it’s causing him is immense, I can see it.

On the same part of the family, his sisters also deal with similar symptoms and it’s something that is acknowledged as part of our history. Depression is not 100% hereditary, but it is believed that genetic influence can be responsible for causing it.

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I didn’t really truly understand depression until I saw it firsthand affecting a close friend. And this is where things get tricky and I think there’s a discussion to be had around immigration and mental health.

I’ve had quite a privileged experience as an immigrant, coming to the UK to study at university. However, there are people who aren’t as lucky and go through a turmoil of emotions when moving to another country.

All of us go though experience similar emotions and have a lot in common. When relocating, for whatever reason, your emotional state is quite fragile. Stress is added and cultural differences make everything more difficult – from going to the grocery store (where all the food is different than what you’re used to) to working and having a social life.

Everything has the added pressure of succeeding because you’ve left your home country to get a better life, but everything is harder or at least different, so an adjustment period is crucial.

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My friend was wise enough to seek help when she saw that she needed it. She went to a psychologist and talked about her problems. We were 19 and in a foreign country and she trusted a doctor, a professional, with her issues.

What then what this person did was just mind blowing. Instead of providing support and coping mechanisms, they took the easy way out and suggested that my friend might consider going back home to her country if she was feeling stressed and depressed.

What I didn’t understand at the time and I still don’t is how someone can be so reckless with their words when they see someone seeking their professional opinion. When a person is going through a lot and trying to achieve something in their life, through all the means they have available, advice shouldn’t be stop trying and maybe you’ll be happier.

It’s like a highly skilled manager going to therapy complaining about stress and the therapist suggesting they should quit their job.

Moving to another country is not a decision people make lightly. We think about it and make sacrifices. It affects and define who you are as a person for the rest of your life and it gives you amazing opportunities of growth and personal development.

It is also one of the most stressful things anyone can do and it can take a toll on you. Talking about mental health in a positive way and trying to find ways and support to deal with issues is crucial. There should be training for medical professionals to pay more attention and have more empathy to people who might be experiencing depression just because they don’t feel understood. Telling someone to go home is proving how much you misunderstand their situation as well.

Personal

Self-publishing, local authors and getting your foot in the door

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about self-publishing and how easy it is to get off your bum and actually put your work out there lately. Also, the power of social media to get an author known and what’s stopping more people gaining more followers online.

This started a couple of months ago when Ujima Radio organised a Green & Black debate with opinion leaders and local stakeholders in Bristol. I was covering the station’s Twitter, posting updates and encouraging people to have an open debate online as well.

While I was frenetically hashtagging (#greenblack), I kept seeing tweets from this particular account that were addressing the issues head on, but I didn’t recognise it as being part of the organisations I already knew were having this conversations.

After the debate and massive retweets, I realised I wanted to talk to this person and see what opinions they had on other matters. It turned out, she wasn’t a green advocate or a marketing representative for a cool new sustainability firm, she was actually a YA author.

I got her on one of our shows as soon as I could and found out more about her self-published book coming out in September. Natalie’s also done a lovely post about her experience at Ujima which was greatly appreciated.

This experience got me thinking of what an author can do to get more exposure. Having a voice is so important for anyone who wants to get their story out there and being vocal on Twitter and across platforms in general can generate so much attention.

I believe we are still scared to approach platforms with ruthlessness and hold people accountable in the public domain, but we owe it to ourselves to ask the questions we want answered from our public officials.

Also, as self-publishing goes, it can create a real profile of an author, even if what you think about politics or green issues has nothing to do with your book (By the way, Natalie’s book is about a 15 year old who goes on a mystical adventure when he gets trapped between his spirit and his body after an accident).

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All in all, my resolution for the end of this year is to read more self-published books! Starting with Natalie’s Spirit of Bristol, of course, which is coming out soon.

Do you read local stories and self-published authors?

Which ones are your favourites?

Any recommendations, book lovers?

🌟 Happy reading 🌟