Category: Welcome to The Real World

25 Life Lessons I’ve Learnt in 25 Years

On the 1st of July 2020, I unfortunately turned 25. I saw it coming but it was still a shock. When I imagined 25, I saw my life in a completely different direction. Nonetheless here we are. The damage has been done. The 25 years may not be what I expected but it has been a great learning experience.

Here are 25 life lessons that I learnt:

1) DO NOT tie your identity to your job

2) Money is important but it is not the MOST important

3) Surround yourself with those that you love

4) Network. You never know where it may take you

5) Also- always try something new. You never know where that might take you

6) Always carry a spare tire in your car

7) Ensure you have savings- for a rainy day, for retirement. Just make sure you have money available.

8) No matter your best intentions, life rarely ever goes as planned

9) Do NOT make decisions when you are emotional (unless those decisions are food-related like what to buy to make yourself feel better)

10) Also, do not make purchasing decisions when you are emotional

11) Leave work at work. There’s a reason you have “working hours”. And leave the office on time

12) If it doesn’t affect your pay, don’t let it affect your day

13) No, you do not need more books (but buying a few more doesn’t hurt anyone)

14) You don’t go to the gym to go to the gym. You go to the gym for the feeling you get after the gym

15) Take time out for yourself no matter how busy life gets

16) Keep moving forward (thank you, Disney)

17) Tea is always a good idea. So is any warm beverage

18) Live within your means. Live below your means if possible. This is especially relevant in the Corona era

19) Time is the most valuable resource and it’s one you can never get back. Use it wisely

20) Stressing about something accomplishes nothing (though in my case, it keeps my brain occupied so I allow it within reason).

21) It is always a good idea to learn a new skill be it work-related or personal

22) Not everyone is going to like you. You are not R100. Some people don’t even like R100 (I am one of these people. R100 disappears too quickly. R1000 is a good amount).

24) A car is a deprecating asset (and a damn expensive one) so there’s no need to pay a ton of money on an expensive model especially if you don’t have that money.

25) Spend more on quality in the first place so you don’t end up having to pay more to replace something cheap (like when it comes to repairs for the above deprecating asset)

What lessons have you learnt in your time on Earth? I’d love to know below!

Learn to Give Yourself a Break

Back when I was a young, naïve college student I wrote a blog post about the importance of taking a mental health day. It’s funny because looking back, I was under the impression that all jobs allowed a mental health day. After all how could you be expected to function at a job if you’re not at your best? However, this is the real world and sometimes mental health days are just not an option.

Girl with headache
Real life depiction of the position I am in as I type this

A few days ago (a week to be accurate), I came home from work with a headache. This wasn’t unusual as I normally have headaches during the weekend (it’s my blog/study/writing time).

However by the time Monday rolled around, I didn’t feel any better. Plus I had my sinus acting up. By Wednesday, the pain was too bad and I eventually started crying before begging to be taken to the doctor.

I had a feeling I knew what the cause was but I hoped he could help. Nope. He decided it was a tension headache. From what little I knew, I knew tension headaches were stress-related. I didn’t know how not to stress. But I was in horrible pain and I was already behind on my studying.

I took medication and went to sleep, hoping to return to work on Thursday. No such luck. I woke up with an awful sore throat and my head still hurt. I dosed myself with large quantities of flu medication, home remedies and spent most of the day asleep. In fact I was only awake for 4 hours.

I felt horribly guilty and ashamed. I was behind on all of my work all because of a stupid headache.

I managed to rest enough that it was fine for me to return to work on Friday.

My head still occasionally hurts like hell but I’m trying to make a concentrated effort to remain calm and not stress (a difficult feat for someone with anxiety).

So the point of me sharing this story is simple. Learn to take a break. You don’t want your body deciding all of a sudden that it needs a break. Because trust me, your body will definitely pick the most inconvenient time possible/

5 Useful Skills You Pick Up as an English Major

English majors are always portrayed as struggling to find a job. While majoring in English may not be the best idea financially (especially in South Africa and especially now), there are some handy skills you pick up that you are able to make use of in any job.

Graduation
  1. Reading (and actually understanding what was read)- This sounds like something so simple but you would be surprised at how many people cannot read. It’s not that they never learnt or lack the ability. Their minds are incapable of reading and making sense of what it is. As someone who works in Customer Care, this drives me crazy and leads to lots of (unnecessary) back and forth emails. Another perk related to reading is that as an English major you probably developed the skill of speed-reading. Yay you!
  2. Research Skills- Always necessary in any field whether you’re looking for information that is academic in nature or even just information on basic skills such as Microsoft Office.
  3. Effective communication- As an English major, you learn how to communicate effectively via both verbal and written communication.
  4. Working with deadlines- Being an English major means learning how to manage large chunks of work in a short amount of time. Since graduating uni, I always say that deadlines are not a thing for me. It’s now a habit for me to get things done before deadlines.
  5. Understanding other’s point of view or opinion- As an English major you learn that 1) there is never one correct answer and 2) how to see things from other people’s point of view.

7 Life Lessons I Learnt from “The Bold Type”

I discovered “The Bold Type” during a tough time in my life. I had just screwed up an interview for a job that I knew would have been perfect for me and I was in desperate need of a pity party. Now, a year and three seasons later, “The Bold Type” is still a source of constant comfort for me. Whether it is personal or professional, there are tons of great life lessons I picked up from the show.

The Bold Type
  1. Stand up for what you believe in– Kat is one of the most outspoken females I have ever seen and does not shy away from confrontation. She is always comfortable expressing herself and her beliefs no matter what.

2. Failure is a thing. It happens. Move on– As a perfectionist, this really hit home. In life, people fail. It is just a part of life. Onwards and upwards. Just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you can’t try again or there’s something else out there for you.

3. Find Yourself a Mentor– Watching the amazing Jacqueline Carlyle motivate and support the girls of “The Bold Type” has really made me appreciate the great female leaders in my life. I specify “great” and “female” because I have only just realized both how rare and amazing they are. Find yourself a kickass mentor who will help you to be your best self.

4. The Importance of a Support Group– Kat, Sutton and Jane support each other through everything (the girls even accompany Jane to a mammogram which is both over the top and against the rules). Get yourself friends that are there for you no matter what. Everything is a million times better with a great support group. Take it from me. 2019 would have been hell if it wasn’t for my girls.

5. Do it if it scares you– My former manager is always saying that “nothing grows in comfort zones” and this is something I believe in 110%. If something scares you, you should seize the opportunity and do it. There is so much that you could learn and so much growth that you can experience.

6. It’s Okay to Be Undecided About Your Career– Over the course of 4 seasons, Sutton has gone from personal assistant to fashion assistant to aspiring designer to stylist. She admits that she is undecided but is also willing to try out new opportunities to see what suits her. As the girl who decided on her career path at 12 years old, I love this!

7. You have to start at the bottom– From season 1, I loved that the girls knew where they wanted to be and they were on the way there. However the flashback episode in season 3 showed us that Jane started as an intern, Sutton was a temp and Kat worked for someone who had no clue how to make hits on social media. I loved taking this look back and seeing where the girls started. This was a great reminder that everyone- even in glamorous TV shows- starts at the bottom.

Do you watch “The Bold Type?” What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt? Let me know below.

Welcome to the Real World 2: The Weakest Link

In December 2016, I found a job teaching English online to Chinese students. I applied and waited impatiently for a response. I was convinced that this was it for me. The perfect job. I had the degree. I was a writer. There was no better job.

I made it through two series of interviews without any problem. The interviewer was impressed at my background with Media and writing as well as the fact that I had driven to the office the day before to ensure I didn’t have any issues finding the place.

Unfortunately when it came time for training, the interviewer (aka the manager of the teaching center) was NOT who I needed to impress.

The day after my interview was over, I received an email with a list of items I needed to purchase because the business had a dress code. So I headed to the nearest mall and purchased formal-wear in blue, black and white (colours that the business required).

Excited about my new job, I chatted to the sales lady who seemed to share my enthusiasm especially about the fact that this was not a call center job. I confided in her that I had been so worried that I would end up in a call center because it was so tough to find jobs.

Now remember, at this stage I had only been out of college for one month but sure, I was young and naive. I didn’t know much.

I turned up to training, uncomfortable in my formal clothing and slightly nauseous. I hadn’t slept the night before and was exhausted.

And that was when I met her. The head trainer was a no-nonsense (and possibly no patience) woman. She was tough and demanding and assured us that not all of us would make it through training let alone the second day.

I was scared but I still felt pretty confident. Hello, girl with years of writing experience? English was practically the only talent I had.

But as they laid down rules after rules, I started to have doubts. I was about an hour into training when I phoned my mother in tears. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure.

Let me go over some of the rules for you: 1) You must use make-up (understandable as you’re on camera), 2) you have to use the colours required by the business, 3) you absolutely cannot take toilet breaks until it’s your designated time and 4) you cannot tell the students “no” or that they’re incorrect.

This last thing drove me crazy. When we practiced our lessons, I was marked down for things I did wrong but never given any guidance on what I could have done right. It was just “don’t do this, don’t do that”.

Looking back it was clear from the get-go that the trainers didn’t like me. It sounds petty but I remember the trainer asking me what did it mean if a girl had her a good head on her shoulders and then shouting the question back at me when I was unable to articulate my answer properly to her.

At the end of the day, they called me into the office and told me that they didn’t think the job was for me. I was too quiet, too much of an introvert. They told me to go try something else and I could come back when I had more work experience.

I was emotional. I teared up. I asked them if they needed me to complete the rest of the training (there was an hour left) or if I should leave immediately.

They assured me I could leave immediately. I thanked them for their time, said goodbye to the other trainees (who didn’t believe that I was leaving and thought I was joking), cried a bit in my car and drove myself home.

I was sad that I didn’t fit in but I knew if I had, it would have been a disaster. From what little I did see from the work environment, it looked awful.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Cutting Carbs

Dieting is a resolution that all of us make and very few of us actually get around to seeing it through. Now I’m not going to lie, I am a bit smug about this one since I have tried cutting out carbs and it worked great for me.

But also, I’m a really greedy person so it was important to me for me to find a way to keep the weight off without depriving myself of my favorite foods. Here are my tips as a lazy/greedy girl for cutting out carbs from your diet:

  1. Make a commitment and stick to it– For me, I had tried time and time again to cut out carbs and it never stuck until my doctor told me I was at risk for diabetes. Never have I stuck to a diet so quickly and so strictly in my life. Think about why you want to do this and remind yourself often. Is it to look better in your jeans? Are you trying to live a healthier lifestyle? Find your why and use it as motivation.
  2. Expect the first weeks to be hell– Remember that it is going to be hard but it is going to be worth it. My first two weeks of cutting out carbs gave me stomach cramps, no energy, sleepless nights and I was miserable. At some point the pain was so bad I just curled up in a ball and (no joke) begged for death. Just remember your why and try to stick to it.
  3. If it’s too difficult, try cutting DOWN on carbs instead of cutting them out completely– If the pressure gets too much or if you would prefer a less intense change, try slowly cutting down on your carbs instead of cutting them out completely.
  4. DO treat yourself on occasion– Don’t forget to reward yourself every so often for doing a good job. Make sure it’s a reward that you would enjoy but also make sure that you’re not overdoing it.
  5. Try to make it a lifestyle change and not a quick fix– For a more permanent result, try to make your new healthy lifestyle a part of your everyday life instead of a quick change. While I no longer cut carbs completely, I am used to life without them and have found a happy balance between no carbs and my previously unhealthy lifestyle.

Have you ever tried a diet? What did you think? I’d love to know below about your experience.

Welcome to the Real World: 1) The Girl Who Made Dreams Come True


Sometime in late 2016, I was lucky enough to get an interview with a local newspaper. Granted, I only found out about the opportunity through my uncle who was a radio journalist but I was thrilled to have my foot in the door.

Walking into the building I had always dreamed of working at, I felt like things were finally coming together. 7 years of hard work were finally paying off.

At this point, I would like draw attention to the fact that I was still technically a college student. I was finishing up my final semester which was delayed by UKZN protest action. But I was tired of waiting for a job in my field (it’s been two years and I’m still waiting so yes the irony is not lost on me).

My interview went great and I was given a position to write for the cultural/lifestyle section of the newspaper. I instantly secured an interview with an author I knew. I conducted the interview, wrote my article and submitted it the day before deadline.

Three days later, I had the pleasure of seeing my writing in print. Above the fold.

I was overjoyed. And then came the payment. Or lack thereof. Here’s the thing though, I was more than willing to work for free. But apparently freelancers take a while to pay.

The next few months were brutal. I chased down the Payroll lady weekly for updates on my payments, completed university and started interviewing for regular 9-5 jobs. I was ghosted by my editor. No calls went through. Neither did my emails or SMS’es. And this was not for payment. No this was for my pitches. Radio silence.

My payment finally came through 4 months later in February 2017. I still tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to get interviewees but it was kind of hard when I didn’t know if I was even still a freelancer (SPOILER ALERT: I still was. I received a letter a year later confirming that they were releasing me from my contract as they no longer required my services. My co-workers and I laughed non-stop at the idea that I had been dismissed from a job I didn’t even know I had).

That was how my short-lived journalism career ended, leaving me with two very important lessons. 1) I didn’t want to be a freelancer and 2) I needed some sort of support structure in a working environment.

For a first job and especially for a first freelancing gig, this experience was absolutely awful and I would not like to go back. Though I supposed if I went back now, things would be different.

For one thing, I am no longer the same quiet girl. If I had been ignored for pitches now, I would probably get in my car and drive straight to the editor’s office to query if I could get started or not.

What I didn’t know at the time was that these experiences were going to shape and define me and help with a very important life choice that was coming up.

Welcome to the Real World

So I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now but just never got around to sharing it. I feel like it is REALLY important for me to share my horror stories, making the transition from college graduate to responsible working adult. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun but it was almost always hilarious looking back.

Also there are tons of things I wish I had known but just didn’t. So to save you from making my mistakes, I’m starting this mini-series following me from my ambitions of being a journalist to finally settling down in a career.

I hope you enjoy! Or at the very least, feel free to share some horror stories of your own.

5 Reasons Why You Should Get a Credit Card

Credit cards have a really bad reputation with most people. More often than not, they are seen as a gateway to mountains of debt and a bad credit rating. However there are actually some perks to having a credit card as long as you play your cards right (see what I did there?). Here are 5 reasons why you should consider having a credit card:

1) To build a credit rating- You might not care about your credit rating now however when it comes time for you to take out a loan, your credit rating is a huge factor. Starting to build a credit rating as soon as possible certainly won’t hurt. I have a single credit card but it has still helped my credit score.

2) To have extra spending money- Now I don’t mean spending recklessly. I mean in a genuine emergency. There have been months where this emergency has ranged from “I forgot my bank card and need to purchase something” or “a genuine unplanned expense” but the credit card has always come to my rescue in both these cases. Having a credit card as a back-up is great provided that you don’t overdo it. Which brings me to my next point.

3) To learn responsibility- You absolutely HAVE to be responsible when you have a credit card. Once you start owing more than you can pay, that is when the trouble begins. Try to only spend an amount you know you can cover once you get paid. 

4) To have  a “credit card story- Everyone has a story (most worse than others) about how they got their first credit card and what they did with it. Most of my friends warned me against getting a credit card since they blew through it like crazy and ended up in debt that they are still paying off in their late twenties. This has served as a great lesson and warning to me so I avoid making the same mistake. My credit card story is basically that I’ve had it for two years and never ever had to pay back a huge amount.

5) Swiping is more convenient- It is safer to carry a card than cash especially when you’re the only one with the pin. I usually carry my credit card when I know it’s not feasible for me to go walking around with cash on my person.

Do you have a credit card? What’s your credit card story? I’d love to know below!

5 Ways To Save Money When Eating Out

People eating out

I love eating out. It’s like a weakness of mine. Bad day? Grab take-out. Good day? Pop in to a nice restaurant. Pay day? SPLURGE on a meal.

This was especially tough for me when I first started work. It didn’t take long for me to realise that a huge chunk of my salary was being spent on food. At the time I told myself it was fine since I was a temp work and I didn’t know how long I would have an income for. However since then I have picked up a few tips to help me save money when eating out (so that I can eat out again. What? I didn’t say that I stopped the habit completely).

 

1) Split meals- When my friends and I go out for lunch we always split meals. Usually restaurant portions are bigger than what we are used to so we can usually make one meal last between two or three of us.

2) Take the extras home- Alternatively if you ordered too much food you can always take the extras home so that you have food for another meal.

3) Order a starter- Starters are cheaper than mains and sometimes they are just as filling. Order a starter if you are a bit light on cash but still want to eat out.

4) Drink water- Water is free. Also I’m going through a phase where all I drink is water for some reason so for me, water is free and tasty. (Tip- water will fill you up less than cooldrink so that you are able to eat more)

5) Choose specials- Some places have specials that you just cannot refuse. Sign up for mailing lists of your favourite spots so you can be informed when there’s a special.

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