Sometimes getting to the next level, in whatever context, really requires you to do something drastic.
Something a little different from what you would normally do. They say foolishness is doing the same thing each time and expecting a different result. I am starting to really understand that.
This year, 2017 and generally this academic year (Sept 2016- now), I have been going on and on about how I want to reach the next level with God. I want to really REALLY know Him. I want to love what He loves and hate what He hates. I want speak like Him, and act like Him. And while this is starting to sound like something out of the Jungle Book, I am deadly serious.
I have seen such growth in my life: emotionally, mentally, spiritually (and of course physically!) and that has always been something that has made me so proud of myself. But why should I be proud about reaching new levels – isn’t that exactly what life is about? A baby reaches milestones every single day. And while the parents may like to act like their baby is the smartest baby to ever set foot on the face of the Earth for taking five steps before falling, it’s not. That is just the next stage in that baby’s life.
I am at that next stage. I have almost finished my second year of university. I am about to start my year long placement (more on that in the next few posts – we thank God). And now, I am at the stage where I want to fall in love with the Lord.
So I’ve now hit a crossroad where I have to be real with myself. Saying the same words and doing the same things will not create a new result. If I say I want to grow in God and grow in who He made me to be, I must take a step (in literal, practical faith) towards that.
So I made a list.
All good things start with writing a list.
I’ve written a list of practical things I can do, in a bid to shift my priorities to God and things of Him. The first thing (and the only thing on the list that I’ve done so far lool) is delete all social media. I know I speak of drastic actions and this does not sound like it is, but trust me it is. If you know me, you’ll know how much social media means to me. I means a lot. Too much. And taking a break from it (a proper break, not those silly three-day social media fasts I go on quite often that don’t do anything at all) for however long I feel led to, is one way to reconnect to God.
I am excited to share this journey with you guys. As this blog turns FIVE (How crazy is it that a quarter of my life is on this blog?!!) I will get to share with you all some grown-up truths as I learn them myself.
The site title says Paula Melissa: Here to Inspire. All I have ever wanted to do, with my blog, my YouTube channel, my life, is inspire people. But it is now time for me to find my source of Inspiration. And to hopefully to inspire you to look to Him too.
Two of my friends asked me for some advice about starting online projects. It made me realise that over the years I have gathered some tips and tricks and I am the type of person to share my knowledge, no matter how limited.
Firstly, I’m going to blow my trumpet a little and tell you all why I am qualified to be giving out this kind of advice. This blog, this very blog you’re reading, is five years old this summer. I have been in the YouTube world for just over three years. I have been ‘online’ since 2010 and pretty much have an account on every social media network worth pursuing. I’ve worked with lots of different brands and groups, on both sponsored and non-sponsored content. And the icing on the cake is that I study Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield, so I basically get taught all this stuff too!
People, Faces, Names
People react more to people. A lot of the time, when someone is trying to use social media to promote their business or brand, they are reluctant to promote themselves. While the business or brand is the thing actually making you money, you, as a person, is the thing attracting people to that business. You are the face of your brand. People are not only investing into your products and services, they are investing in you because they believe in you.
Linking this to social media, you will need to create social media accounts for your brand/business/service but also for yourself. You need to establish a personality for yourself and a separate one for your business.
People like to see the face behind a brand but they also appreciate the differentiation between the two.
Continuing on from the last point, you need to create online personalities for both yourself and your brand. When we were younger on the internet, parents, teachers and the government would constantly warn us of the dangers of the internet. “Don’t use your real name!” “Don’t tell people about yourself!” “Don’t say where you live!” and to be honest, they were right. The internet was uncharted territory then and everyone was weary of it. Nowadays, we can be open, while still being careful.
Some people go down the whole pseudonym route and will create a whole persona for being online. Many of the first ‘YouTubers’ and bloggers did that – y’all didn’t think Zoella was her real name, right??
On the other side of the spectrum are people who really blossom because of how open they are about their lives. We’ve watched my girl, Patricia Bright get married, have her first baby, move into her own house, and all the while felt like we’ve been on the journey with her!
Both of these, or even a mixture of the two, can be effective and have their pros and cons. Find the balance that works for you. Using myself as an example, I am fairly open – I say where I go to Uni and share a fair amount about my life. But I go by Paula Melissa and not my actual surname and withhold a lot of details.
That’s my balance. Find yours.
Formally Known As
Continuing (my GCSE English Language and Literature teacher would be so proud of my structuring here because they’re all linking and flowing), you need to decide what tone of voice you’ll have on your social media.
Will you be formal and only use it for business and networking?
Will you be totally informal and write like you’re speaking to your friends?
Again, both have their perks but also their qualms. Here’s where I slot my opinion – a mixture of both is needed!
When I started to work on my Paula Melissa brand, I consciously decided to change the way I tweet and post. I could not be writing in slang (Lord forgive me for ever writing like this in the first place: “yo wuu2 b??xxx” *gags*) and expect brands and companies I wanted to work with to take me seriously.
But at the same time, the USP (unique selling point – GCSE Business Studies, come throughhhh) is that my brand is based around me. My bubbly, friendly personality is my brand and potential clients need to get that through my online presence. So again, it is a balancing act. You can tweet about things that interest you and retweet funny videos of cats singing all while still tweeting updates about your products/business/content professionally.
Find your voice and showcase it, unashamedly.
The title of this section is paying homage to an old-school trend on Twitter – if you know, you know;)
It is important to learn who to follow/contact when starting your brand. This is obviously specific to what online project you are creating. For example; starting a YouTube channel. Subscribe to other people creating similar content to what you’d like to make. Drop some genuine comments (oh, and by the way, we can tell when a comment is genuine and when it is just there to get me to sub back. Girl bye.)
On Twitter and Instagram, follow people posting similar things to you or in the field you want to be in. In terms of using social media to networking and find jobs, I’ve done a detailed post here.
The gist of it is, do not be afraid to contact people. Message them. Tweet them. Most of the time, people want to talk to you.
Which One’s Right?
Lastly, I want to talk about which social media network is the best for you.
When I started and in the first few years, I took the ‘bull in a china shop’ approach, meaning I just made every single social media network I could. I was hilarious. I struggled to update them all often and some of them where completely pointless for a teenage girl from London to be on at the time…
Social media can be so powerful if used right. People connect with brands and opportunities, get jobs and placements and can become self-employed through it.
TWITTER – Pros: instant interaction with audience, wide demographic of people (age, gender, race, class, geographical audience), Cons: can often be hard to get a following immediately, can be hard to stand out from people doing similar things
Twitter can be used to find your audience (people who will buy your product/watch your videos/care about your brand) and promote yourself to them. I would not limit Twitter to a specific sector – it is definitely one I would say can be vital.
INSTAGRAM – Pros: Visually displays products and creates strong brand visibility, wide demographic of millennials, Cons: not very useful for people selling a service that isn’t visual, harder to reach certain demographic e.g. older generation, people in ‘developing’ countries
If you are creating something visual, like a YouTube channel, blog, product, IG is for you. Visual services e.g. hair styling and make-up artists, also work every well on IG as people like to scroll through pictures of what you’ve done before. If it is a service like consultancy or news-gathering, Insta may not be the best, although I have seen some brand making it work, so don’t quote me.
FACEBOOK – Pros: Most used social media network, wide demographic of users, especially globally, Cons: can be rigid, ineffective in sharing options, younger generations using less
The power of Facebook cannot be overlooked, as much as I (secretly) hate it. A large percentage of the world is on Facebook so you can reach such a wide audience, especially if your business is transnational. I would say be careful about privacy settings though or you will get random people adding you and seeing all your details. I made a separate Facebook page for Paula Melissa – the brand try and avoid this.
Also, Facebook and YouTube are now apparently rivals so if you are creating videos I would recommend making short versions (with subtitles as lots of Facebook videos play without sound) to upload directly to Facebook. Sharing YouTube links onto Facebook does not work as well anymore.
SNAPCHAT – Pros: Useful in creating a personal rapport with audience, effective for bloggers and vloggers who’s brands revolve around themselves, Cons: very limited demographic (only people who have actually added you so often just friends and family), mainly young people – ineffective in translating that to sales/money
Here’s my opinion again, I would avoid Snapchat as a form of social media branding. It just will not grow your brand as effectively as the others will. Of course, use it to promote your stuff to your friends and family – to let them know a new post video is out – but it is quite an inward facing platform.
Personally, I do not give out my snapchat as freely as I do Twitter and Instagram. I use it randomly vlog my day and share my spontaneous adventures etc. It is not one I’d use to find clients and brands – although it is looking like this may change too, with the addition of ads.
There are loads more social media platforms, all effective in some ways.
YouTube is obviously the best video platform but do not forget that all of the top four above can use video too. WordPress is the best blogging/content sharing platform (Yes I am biased but I’ve used others so whatevs) but don’t forget Facebook can take a large amount of text on its statuses. Twitter and Instagram have many blogging/content creator groups. Pinterest and Tumblr can be great for finding inspiration and designs – visuals that you can share on Instagram.
Don’t forget – Social media is powerful.
I hope this has been helpful. I am happy to help further – contact me. Make sure you connect with me!
We’re only a week in and I already know this is going to be a super blessed month, with lots of opportunities for us to grab!
On the first of Feb, I was in Birmingham filming with and interviewing Chelsea Monye, who is the CEO and Founder of The Esquire Network. My friend, Layomi came along with me to help with filming and we had such a great day in Birmingham. A post and video will be released later this month, so look out for it! I took the opportunity to catch up with my friend Yemisi, who is the founder of Lively Stones!
The next day, Thursday 2, I went to London for the day to attend a YouTube Space London Open House event! I had so much fun, with my fellow YouTuber friend Micheal, meeting lots of other YouTubers and online content creators!
Misha B, former X-Factor finalist, was the special guest performer of the night. I absolutely LUV HERRR so of course I was fangirling, especially when she hugged me. I took the opportunity to do some photography, and took a few snaps of Queen Misha.
Okay so this post was not her to boast that I’ve had an amazing week, which I have. It is to explain how I can afford to keep up my travel and filming habits – I am a university student without a full time job, after all!
Firstly, while I’m not the best at budgeting, I always make sure I have enough in my everyday-use bank account for rent, transport, uni related expenses and of course food. When that’s all sorted, I look at my ‘spare’ money.
When I first started university, I was so reluctant to spend a single pound. My mum let me know that it was unhealthy to look at money as something that is ‘too’ precious to spend, even when I needed to. Obviously spending needs to be controlled, but allow yourself to buy things that you want. Money is just a ‘thing’, and like any other things in this world, it has a purpose. It is not to be stared at and admired, it is to be spent in the exchange of products and services. That’s how it works in our capitalist society (channelling my inner Leonie tbh).
A lot of people spend their ‘spare’ money on clothes, make-up or nights out. I don’t, lol. Most of my money is spent on food, travelling around the UK and filming equipment.
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve treated myself to a new vlogging camera (which is swiftly returned because it was utter rubbish, be careful when buying compact cameras because the filming quality is very close to filming on those slide up Samsung’s from 2008, you’ve been warned..), a new tripod, a flashgun and an extra battery for my camera. I’ve travelled on about 4 different coach journeys and 2 train journeys and I’m planning trips to London and Littlehampton (near Brighton) this week. I love it.
But HOW do I afford this?
Well, I’ve changed my eating habits which has changed how much I spend. I eat a lot more veggies and pasta dishes which means I rarely eat out or buy food on the go. I bring a pack lunch to work on Tuesdays and go home for lunch when I can. I meal prep (chop up veggies and meat in preparation to quickly cook later on in the week and keep them in the fridge) which means I’m less likely to be lazy and just order a pizza!
The main thing for saving money when travelling nationwide – 16-25 railcard. I travel to London all of the time (it’s home<3) so having a railcard allows train tickets to be significantly reduced in price. If you’re a student and you’re between 16-25 and you don’t own a railcard – what u doing????
The next step is taking a coach instead of trains. Coach journeys are considerably cheaper than trains, especially if you take a Megabus over National Express, however they do take almost double the time a train would. A train from Sheffield to London would be a little over 2 hours – coach took 4. Not ideal.
Megabuses are the bane of my existence – they’re usually late, packed out and either suffocatingly hot or bitterly cold. But they’re cheap and meant I went to Birmingham and back for £6.75 and to London and back for £7 so I AM NOT COMPLAINING.
Hope you’re having a blessed 2017 so far! The plan is for us to all succeed together 😉 so go out and get your own!
I’ve always wondered why people say nice guys (and girls) don’t win. Why is that? Why do we believe that?
Forget bag for life, I am a friend for life.
I strongly value nice people. This is a post is a shoutout to you guys, keep doing you, boo! Please do not let anyone let you think that being nice is equal to being weak. It is really not! It takes the strongest person to remain nice and sweet when life can continually be incredibly bitter. Do not let people look down on you or walk all over you just because you’re a nice person. You can be gentle but firm. Nice but smart.
The connotations of being a nice genuine person also meaning you’re a doormat is something I strongly dislike. I was brought up to always want to help people. If it is in my capacity, why not help someone out. My mum would always say this to me, and I’ve grown up with it instilled in me. Forget bag for life, I am a friend for life.
I’ll always be there for you if I can. Of course, over time, people learnt this about me and they thought they could take advantage of me. I love that I can now laugh at this, but at the time, trying to balance caring about other people but also being a little selfish about my own needs was something I struggled with. Sometimes I still do.
But one thing God has revealed to me a lot recently (GUYS, we’re only a few weeks into 2017 and I have learnt SO much already. God is so good.) is that while people may repay your positivity with negitivity, your kind words with harsh words, you will ALWAYS have the last laugh. Always. And I don’t mean that in a malicious way but in a content way.
This year already, I have seen so many opportunities (I can’t wait to share some with you guys reallllllyyyy soon) that have only come my way because people remembered me. I may not have been the smartest, most qualified for the job or whatever, but they remembered me as a nice, genuine person and chose to give it to me. And I thank God for that!
This is not to boast that I am such an amazing person, because I’m really not. This is not to say I am a super nice person ALL OF THE TIME because I’m really not (ask my housemates, they’ll tell you). This is just to say that I live a life where I constantly think, how would I like to be treated, then treat people that way. Also, it is the fact that I see everyone as Children of God. I must treat them right, especially as someone who claims to know Jesus, the ‘nicest’ guy who ever lived.
Keep pushing the boundaries, keep working hard and keep knocking on the door.
As a journalism student, who is constantly being told that our industry is ‘saturated’ and that you have to be the very best to get a job, you can be pushed either of two ways.
You can use the competition as motivation to work hard, study hard and grow to be the best. OR you can give up.
I have chosen to the first one, because I believe nothing worth getting comes easily. And if it does, abuse of it is inevitable because you do not fully understand its value.
I’ve know I want to be in the media industry for years! That’s probably why I started this blog nearly 5 years ago. But I had no contacts and was a complete novice as to how this whole media thing worked.
A few years later and I know a fair bit, thanks to hours of research, fantastic friends and amazing mentors.
So back to the reason for this post, I want to motivate you guys that are at a similar stage to where I was a few years ago or even where I am now. Keep pushing the boundaries, keep working hard and keep knocking on the door.
Find those people who inspire you in the industry and contact them. Twitter is great for this because you can literally tweet them (or even DM them) and ask for an email address. So far, most people I have asked have said yes and given me their email. Tell them to look out for an email from you and then message them again when you’ve sent the email. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel annoying and pushy, but sometimes you really have to be. These people need to remember you, so let yourself be remembered as keen!
Try to go to industry networking events! Email is great and everything but NOTHINGGGG beats speaking to people face to face. I am an extremely bubbly person. This can be very hard to bring across when I’m writing, especially when writing emails (it usually results in many many many redrafts lol) but once you meet me, you’ll get exactly what I’m like. It is a lot easier to make a lasting impression on people when you meet them at networking events. So carry yourself gracefully and do not be scared to just walk up to them and talk to them. Networking events are only places that that kind of thing is okay!!! I met my mentor at a RTS masterclass and as soon as she finished speaking on stage I ran up to her and introduced myself. She said I was the only person who had the guts to go up to her and talk to her and on the spot she gave me her email and offered to mentor me! BE FEARLESS! Put yourself out there. The worst they can do is say no.
Speaking of mentors, they are SO important. Walk in the footprints of giants. Learn from those who have done it before you and longer than you. Listen to them and learn from their mistakes so you do not have to make them. Mentors can also point you towards people you can connect with and grow from.
Speaking of connecting (wow, all these links.. someone would think I planned this lol), LinkedIn and Twitter are your best friends from this day forth. If you want to work in the media or business industries and you’re not on LinkedIn AND Twitter, what are you doing b? Get on them now (and follow me while you’re there)! It kind of works as your online CV so make sure it looks good and professional!
Let’s go on to the ole curriculum vitae! Everyone has a different way of writing CVs but here are a few tips I’ve been taught, and they seem to work so far. You either have to keep it to 1 page or 2 full pages. No 1 and a half pages. And most definitely nothing more than 2 pages, unless you’re Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or it’s an Academic CV (for postgraduate courses etc.) Keep the design simple and chic, there are loads of templates online so have a look at them. Also another cheeky lil tip I’ve picked up along the way, save your CV in pdf form as well as as a document. This keeps the formatting of it, especially if the person you email it (and tbh you will be using your CV more online than working around shops handing them out) to does not have Microsoft Word or downloads it to Google Drive (Oh gosh, have I mentioned how Google Drive, Gmail and Google Docs are your friendsbest friendsRODs.. that’s another post for another day!).
What goes hand in hand with a CV – A Cover Letter! If you didn’t scream ‘cover letter’ at your laptop, phone, tablet or desktop because you don’t ever send cover letters, or in fact you don’t even know what a cover letter is, don’t worry, that was me literally this time last year. Ah, ignorance is bliss. But no longer. Cover letters are actually vital in saving people time. Bare in mind how long and detailed CVs are, cover letters help employers check if the CV is rubbish without having to go through it. In this lovely digital age, you usually attach this with your CV in the email or better still, type it out in the body of the email. Cover letters tend to still be in the format of a letter (especially if the company asked for it and you’re attaching it in an email). Make sure these do not go beyond 1 page. Make them short, concise and relevant to the business – they can actually tell if you just sent them a default one… they can tell. They can just sense it some how.
Lastly, I thought I’d leave you with some brilliant links that I’ve used to help me scout opportunities (from placements to volunteering to apprenticeships to networking events) –
The ‘sparkle’ of being away at university, with the independence and the fun and the excitement, finally wore off.
It’s been a while and I would love to come back with a fantastically elaborate reason behind why I suddenly fell off the side of the blogging cliff, but alas I simply do not have one. I got confused and busy but mainly confused. I was confused about what I am supposed to do, both generally and specifically. I’d love to come back here and tell you all that I’ve now got it all planned out but that is simply not the case. If anything, I think I am only now accepting that it is okay to be a little confused, a little unsure about things but I just cannot stop all together.
While I’ve been on my little hiatus, I learnt a lot. I have learnt about who I am as a person. About what makes me smile and laugh and what makes me cry and irritated. Ironically, some things (and some people) make me do both.
Today, the 20th of December 2016, is my 20th birthday.
I have officially been on this earth for two decades. Mad. Thank You, God for bringing me through life to this point.
I love having my birthday so close to the end of the year because it forces me to reflect on the many many many blessings I have experienced over the year. Two of my favourite phrases (and indeed favourite Instagram captions;)) are “blessings on blessings on blessings” and “too blessed to be stressed”. They are both super cheesy but they remind me of the importance of gratitude for both the little and big things in life.
As I enter 2017, I really want to enter focusing on appreciating God. This year has been a tough one. The ‘sparkle’ of being away at university, with the independence and the fun and the excitement, finally wore off. It took me a year, but I began to feel so dreadful and ridiculously homesick.
The last month particularly, I did not want to be there. I love my uni, I love my course, I love the people around me but I did not want to be there. At all. And every day I stayed in Sheffield, was another day I grew more and more sad. I don’t think I can even fully explain what has been happening over the last few months, because I do not fully understand it myself.
I am so grateful to God for the friends that really prayed for me at this time because even I was struggling to pray for myself.
I have learnt so much about the world but also about myself.
I don’t want to make this too long, even though I have so much to say. Please do watch this video where I outline 20 things I learnt before I turned 20 (and subscribe while you’re there;)! It will be such a blessing to me if everything I went through and learnt from, could help at least one person. Believe me, it is better to learn from someone else’s mistakes than go and make them yourself.
So as I leave you now, I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas, full of love and light. I want to wish you a happy new year, full of wisdom and prosperity.
I wrote this post for Lively Stones and can be found here!
I was reading Genesis 27:19-33, which is the story of how Jacob, with the help of his mother Rebekah, deceived his father, Isaac and stole his older brother Esau’s blessings.
I considered the fact that Jacob actually used deception as a means to receiving blessings from his dying father – this was a blessing that was due to the elder twin, Esau. The fact that Isaac had reserved this blessing specifically for Esau also implies that there was another, perhaps a smaller, less passionate blessing reserved for his second son Jacob. But Jacob (and his mum) wanted that first-born, hefty blessing.
Why would God allow their deceptive plan to work? Why would he allow Jacob to be blessed through the deception of a blind old man?
Well, it all stems to a few chapters back in Genesis 25 when Rebekah is pregnant with the twins.
22: The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
23: The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
From the beginning there had been a power struggle between Jacob and Esau and from the beginning, God had made it clear that Jacob would be on top of his brother. Rebekah must have kept this in her mind since their birth and have constantly been looked for opportunities for this prophesy to be manifested. Because God had decided this, I believe that no matter whether Isaac wanted to bless Jacob or not, Jacob would have been blessed. It was already ordained.
When God has a plan for your life, a destination, a destiny, I believe there are different paths to reach it. There is the path that God has initially created for you. This path has His divine backing all of the way, but that does not mean that it is smooth all of the way. Let me be real, with God things are not suddenly easier, but they are doable because you have a source of never ending strength in God.
With God things are not suddenly easier, but they are doable because you have a source of never ending strength in God.
As well as the path God has planned for us to take, there are paths outside of His will that we, as humans, often stumble across because sometimes we think we know it better. We do not. While these paths were not where God wanted us to go, He will still use our circumstances to elevate us to that final destination. That is what happened here!
God was NOT happy with Jacob deceiving his dad and Jacob did have to suffer later on in life as a result of his actions. Jacob even had someone deceive him – his uncle Laban made him work more years than agreed to marry his daughter. God has a sense of humour, so be careful what path you try and follow, especially if you know that God is not a part of it.
It is comforting to know that in all things, God is in control. Even when we deviate from the script. Even when we get confused and think we are making mistakes. God can work through our situations to make us strong, wiser and better, ready for His ordained plan for us. Whether we feel like we are on the wrong course at university or we are confused about our futures – find peace in the knowledge that God’s got our backs.
Practically speaking, pray, pray pray then do not be scared to jump. One thing I have learnt this year is that in certain areas, what God wants us to do is not always clear. So just pray and jump. And trust that He will be there to catch you because He will be.
2015 has been a whirlwind of highs and lows (mainly highs). This post is going to highlight some of the highs in a bid to be thankful to God for everything that has happened this year. So, in no particular order;
2015 is the year I successfully completed my A Levels. This is a big deal to me because no one but the Lord truly understands how hard I worked and how stressed I was at that time.
Following on from the previous point, 2015 is the year I began university. I can honestly say, uni is THE best thing to have ever happen to me. I love all the new people from all over the UK I have met. I love the independence. I love how much I have surprised myself. I love that everyday is different and some how even the most mundane, routine of tasks seems fun to me.
2015 is the year I was awarded the Royal Television Society’s Television Production and Broadcast Journalism Bursary. I think sometimes I forget how amazing this actually is. I am one of a handful of undergraduates who it was awarded to. Also, the RTS are such a respected organisation, I know I am learning from the best of the best.
2015 is the year I worked on NCS. National Citizen Service is a youth program that I was actually a part of a few years ago, so to come back and work on it, as a mentor, was amazing. I have never worked this hard before but at the same time, it was so fulfilling knowing I was making a difference in the lives of the young people I worked with over the summer.
2015 is the year I went on a weekend away retreat with my uni’s Christian Union. This may not be a big deal to some people but it was to me. Despite growing up in a Christian home, I did not have the conventional ‘Christian Kid’ childhood of going to Christian summer camps and Sunday schools and all that good stuff. This weekend was quite pivotal in my Christian walk because I learned to stop judging other Christians. Plainly put, I was seeing God through the lenses of other Christians around me. I was not seeing that they were broken, messed up people just like me.
Nicely following on, 2015 is the year that my relationship with God has grown. I think this has a lot to do with university. At uni, God became my God and no longer the God of my parents. I had to go and find out what I believed and why I believed it. No one could believe on my behalf any more. I am still not yet where I need to be, but I am definitely getting there.
2015 is the year my confidence grew in terms of singing in front of people. I have grown up singing in front of a congregation at church but I used to be terrified to sing any other time. I still get terrified, but I heard nerves can be good. This year I sang in my Senior Prom in front of my whole year group. This year, I also sang at an open mic night at uni. Both these performances were huge steps for me.
2015 is the year I fulfilled my childhood dream of going to a WWE live event. I grew up watching WWE with my family and we always spoke of the day we would go and watch it live. It is the best feeling when you finally do something that the younger you has always wanted but believed would never happen – so fulfilling.
Last but not least, 2015 is the year I continued to be dedicated to this blog and to my YouTube channel (click here to Subscribe ). My budget, time and sometimes motivation has been limited this year yet I am proud of the content I have put out to the world. 2016 everything will be bigger and better.
I have grown a tremendous amount this year. God has been so good. Please join me and be grateful for this year because it puts you in a good, prepared mindset for 2016.
Guys, this is a really real, really raw post, because right now, in this very moment, I am feeling some really real, really raw feelings.
It is days like this, moments like these that I begin to understand why they call God Jehovah Jireh! He is a provider. When you need something, He will supply it for You.
Coming to University was a new experience for me. It was my first real taste of actual independence. I am an adult. I am in charge of what I do, where I go, what I eat and perhaps most importantly where I spend my money.
This summer before uni, I got a job and worked really hard with the intention of saving money. However, as soon the money touched my bank account, it seemed to instantly evaporate literally into thin air. I suddenly had all these expenses and I watched as my hard-earned money disappeared.
You do not realise the value of money until you work for it yourself. You start to question all your purchases, like “This dress is worth 2 hours of work. Is it really worth it?”
I then got to the stage, nearly a month into uni, when I realised that food is expensive. So are textbooks. So are clothes and washing and printing and buses. Everything costs money and I was running low on the stuff.
So I did what any reasonable person would do. I called my parents. I expected a swift transfer of money into my account, instead I was met with “Trust in the Lord, Paula. Don’t worry.”
Okay. My parents quoting Bible scriptures is a normal occurrence for me and usually it is quite comforting, but not this time. Like, obviously I trust in the Lord but can you just transfer some money to me please???? [They did eventually send me some money. Eventually!]
But reluctantly I did. I trusted in God and left the fact that I had no money in His hands and did not allow it to ruin my day.
I call Him Jehovah Jireh because He provides in ways that are beyond our imagination. He provides through means that we are not even aware of.
If you take Him as your Jehovah Jireh, He will show up strong. Just call out to him, leave it in His hands and trust in Him.
I have been making myself seem busier than I actually am in order to ignore the fact that I am going to university in 4 days and 3 nights.
But I can’t ignore it – on Sunday the 20th of September, I will be leaving my family home and going to university.
Do you want the truth? (This is the part where you expect me to pour out my emotions and express how nervous and anxious I am feeling about basically starting a new life – a new independent life – on the other side of the country.) The truth is, I am just not that nervous.
Last night, I couldn’t sleep and I kept subconsciously telling myself ‘it’s the nerves’ and rightly so. But truthfully, I am not that scared. There is obviously some excitement there, but other than the bare minimum, I just want to go and start my new life.
Here’s why: Every year of my life, every birthday, every new school academic year, every new job, I always try and reinvent myself and be the Paula I have always wanted to be. Halfway through that year, I realise that I haven’t changed that much. It took many years for me to accept the Paula I am, and that is when I became a grown up (still questionable). I am excited for uni because this is the place where the real Paula will be unleashed (questionable verb choice, yes I know. It conveys imagery of unleashing a deadly virus which I promise was not deliberate). At uni, I won’t know anyone so I won’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of who Paula is. I won’t even have to live up to my own.
The only expectations I will live up to is what God has made me to be, because I’m still in the process of figuring that out. University is the perfect setting to discover who you truly are, without the input of others.
So, if you are nervous about university – whether you are staying at home, moving across the country or even going to another country – just remember that this is your opportunity to find out who your really are. It is the time and place to discover what you are passionate about and what special, fantastic thing you bring to the world.
Be excited and prepared and excited (yes, I said excited twice). Make lots of new friends, have lots of fun (responsibly) and learn lots of new things.
Here’s to the first year of the rest of our lives!
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”Matthew 6:21 NLT
Whatever thing (or person) that is always in your mind becomes a god or an idol on your life. Whatever thing (or person) is the first thing you check in the morning or constantly do because you feel incomplete without it; it has taken control over you.
As I write this, I have just come back from a weekend away from social media. No I didn’t go anywhere and yes I still used my phone, but I just made the conscious effort to not check my Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp and Snapchat apps all weekend. I did this because they were controlling my life. Without even needing to exaggerate, I would find myself waking up and checking snapchat before even praying. I would find myself obsessing over how many likes I got on Instagram. It was getting bad.
I was beginning to care more about what other people thought about me than what I thought, and more importantly, what God thought. My days were merging into one because I wasn’t getting the things I wanted to get done done, due to spending hours on my phone messaging people. My Bible app lay dormant while my Twitter app worked overtime overheating my phone.
It was time. And it felt good. I don’t need to focus on what the world is doing. I just need to focus on what I am doing.
I achieved and acceded the grades I needed to get into my dream university (which shall remain anonymous for security reasons and whatnot). I am so happy today, because it feels like my life is falling into place. And rightly so. Anyone who knows me, knows I work hard – extremely hard – for every single thing I have in life. In that way, I am entitled to feel a sense of pride in myself, but mainly in God. Thank You, God for giving me the strength to go to the library to study every day from 9am til 8pm. Thank you for giving me the focus to study instead of going out all of the time. All of the short term sacrifices have been worth it in the long term.
My A Level grades were AAB. Now to some people, that is amazing. To others, that is nothing. It doesn’t matter what they are to others however, because they are fantastic to me.
Another reason why I believe that today is one of the best days of my life is that, because I have been accepted by my university, I have received a bursary package from the Royal Television Society (RTS). The RTS are an educational charity that work primarily in television, broadcast journalism and television production. To find out more about them, click here. They are a big deal because they know all of the important people in the industry. Being a part of them will give me unbelievable opportunities to network with the who’s who of the business, allowing me to potentially get a job in broadcast journalism when I graduate.
This opportunity is only awarded to twenty people in the UK, every year. Only twenty people. And I am one of them. The fact that I am one of the twenty continues to blow my mind. This very blog (along with other of my projects) was hailed as one key influencer in me getting long listed, short listed then the actual bursary. So, I must thank you, as the readers, for motivating me to continue to write.
Today is a good day for me. Today might have felt like a unpleasant day for some, especially if things did not go to plan. But please remember nothing is really the end of the world (expect the actual end of the world). I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. Just because your life is going in a direction that was not initially planned, does not mean that your life will not be great. I know this sounds cheesy coming from me, someone who got exactly what they wanted from today, but I know what I am saying directly from experience. Life can be so disappointing sometimes, then you realise that the disappointment was a blessing in disguise. You wouldn’t be the person you are without those disappointments and ‘failures’. Enjoy every season in life that you find yourself, and learn everything you can from it.
‘It seems to me that in the modern age, everyone is in some sort of rush. And it’s understandable, I guess. With social media, the Internet etc., everything is always instant and available at the push of a button. This is only ever going to lead to a constant sense of restlessness and a generation obsessed with phone checking (don’t worry youth, I feel you. I’ve just described myself!)
But why, then, does nobody appear to rush to do the things that matter, before it’s too late? We only have to watch a romcom to know that sadly, people can lose touch, either by distance or unfortunate circumstances, and fail to be reunited until it’s too late. I’m not trying to provoke feelings of guilt or regret here, but maybe the right word for the sentiment is realisation, or, the expression ‘carpe diem’.
Another phrase we hear a lot is ‘yolo’. More often than not, it is associated with reckless actions of possibly drinking (a world I’m most certainly unaware of), taking risks for the sake of impressing others and looking cool, or even denying responsibility altogether. But this is not the meaning of the phrase in my book.
I feel that the answer lies deep down, as it always does, with faith, and with putting everything into perspective. It’s a sad scenario, but picture being trapped on the other side of a glass window from someone you care about, unable to communicate except through facial expression and eye contact. What would you want to say? And is it something they don’t know already?
I guess this has gone onto a darker path than I intended. Maybe this derives from the fact I’ve been watching a little too much Call the Midwife lately, or maybe it’s the documentary I saw last night, ‘Before I Kick the Bucket’. It was an inspiring programme about the value and reasons behind ‘bucket lists’.
Personally, I don’t think bucket lists are the best way of living at any stage of life, because since when has ticking boxes made us feel truly satisfied (says the girl with a list for everything!)? By satisfied I mean truly content with life, you know, that warmth you feel in your heart when you touch someone or, even warmer, when someone touches you emotionally. That’s the sort of feeling you can’t get from ticking off bucket lists (by that I mean the kinds of lists that involve lots of high energy, adrenaline filled physical sports). It’s very likely that I’m wrong on that front, though. After all, satisfaction is such a personal thing.
But moving onto what I think is the solution, if there ever can be, to these feelings of regret that we all seem to experience at times (we need only look at @SixthFormProblems to know the dissatisfaction associated with the education system) mentioned by a psychologist on the bucket list programme. It’s people. After all, isn’t that what everyone thinks of when they’re in their time of need? As well as, crucially, our religious faith, I think people hold the key to making us happy! We’ve known this all along and it’s been said decade after decade. Regrets won’t be needed if you’ve told the closest people to you how much they mean to you, and sharing your ups and your downs with them. In a religious sense, I feel that God often reveals Himself in the form of wonderful human beings that we meet in our lives, and we have something to learn from each of them (Side note: listen to For Good from Wicked for more in this vein). It isn’t easy for anyone to wear their heart on their sleeve and share emotions with others, sometimes especially those closest to you, when it could hurt them. But the sense of sharing your life, your sorrows and your joy, with others, is such a precious and valuable gift. I realise this may not entirely link in with the initial point about rushing life, but in a way it does. We’re forgetting the things that matter in this whirlwind of instantaneous responses, and that’s the physical presence of our loved ones.
So I think the conclusion of this complete brain splatter is that though instant messages travel fast, they’re often short lived and temporary. Make more time for the physical memories that we tend to hold in our hearts forever. Cheese alert!!