Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wish/Want | On Missing Out

I'm going to take a break from the scheduled feel-good talk that is so prevalent in the blogosphere and talk about reality for a minute. Not because I want to crush your dreams, or tell you that they aren't possible. But because sometimes you (and I) need a dose of reality.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you'd do anything to get it? I've been there, and you know what, I didn't get it. I could say it was for the best, and things happen for a reason, but to be honest, I'm still not sure that is true. Some things in life aren't for the taking, and sometimes you don't get what you want.

Back when I lived in London, there seemed to be a whole new world before me. I thought that I could waltz into one of the largest cities in the world, with no experience and land on my feet. And while there were many new opportunities and experiences, competition is fierce. It's expected that people starting out in the film and graphics industries work as an intern (read: unpaid). Sadly, my parents forgot to water the money tree they received when I was born, and working for free was not in the realm of possibility for me. So I got a job. Not a graphic design job mind you. I got a job selling t-shirts. It involved standing in the doorway of a store to deter thieves from ripping whole racks of clothing to sell. It involved folding 100's of t-shirts every day. It involved smiling to rude customers. I tried to upsell shitty accessories and shivered in the doorway of that shop in my t-shirt with a silly slogan on the front. All for around £4 per hour. Not exactly the glitz and glamour of an exciting new design career. To put it into perspective, my monthly wage (working 6 days a week) was LESS than the homeless man that I befriended who sold the Big Issue.

After months of t-shirt slaving, I started to pick up the odd freelance design job here and there. C was gaining interest, connections and momentum in his career as well. Things were getting better. Despite the hard working conditions, I had a great circle of friends with similar interests. The opportunity for success in creative fields were so much greater than in Australia. It was a land of opportunity for our chosen fields. As you already know, I love to travel, and London is a fantastic base and much more conducive to travel than Australia ever can be. It just seemed right and I felt at home for the first time in my life. I was finally at home.

We returned to Sydney for family reasons. Somehow I landed a pretty good design job while we were in transit between London and Sydney. I figured I would work for a little bit, get some decent experience and return to London with better odds at employment in my field. My working holiday visa expired and since I had a Bachelor's degree, I planned on applying for a Highly Skilled Migrant visa. I found out that this visa relies on a complex points system and while education and age were in my favour, my earnings were not. I missed qualifying by one point. The only way to raise my points was to earn more. But pay-rises usually come with time, and that was one thing I didn't have. So I did what seemed logical. I worked more. I worked like you wouldn't believe. I took on double shifts, so I would do one job Monday to Friday 9-5 and then I would also work weekends and 3 nights a week until midnight or 2am. I did this for an entire year. It almost killed me. But I was reaching my target. C took on a (horrible) corporate job, to gain his visa in a 'desired' industry (they don't need more musicians in London, go figure). The unhappiness, stress and despair of this situation took it's toll on both of us.

We were one month off breaking the income threshold and gaining our visas when the financial crisis hit London bad. To try and secure their economy, they tightened immigration laws. My Bachelor degree was no longer enough, I needed a Masters degree. It was impossible. I couldn't keep working like that (to keep my income up) and study for a Masters Degree. I didn't even want a Masters degree. It broke me. I made a few last-ditch efforts to get sponsorship but it was hopeless. A company had to prove that nobody in the UK could do the job first, then nobody in the EU. If there were no suitable candidates, then they could sponsor a worker. Graphic Designers are a dime-a-dozen and I was at a loose end.

I accepted my fate and decided that I couldn't ever consider living in the UK again. I grew bitter toward people who could, but didn't want to. I was angry at my parents for not applying for me to have German passport when I was a child (when I was able to get one). There were so many paths that led to a broken down bridge. So many "too late" moments. It still hurts that I couldn't fulfil that dream. It was not through lack of determination or hard work.

I learned something valuable from that experience though. Swimming against the current is exhausting. Sometimes you need to come up for air and make a decision if it's worthwhile. What are you hoping to get out of this goal or dream? Is there another way to achieve it? Are you doing it the hard way? Should it be this hard, is it a lost cause? I'm still sad that I never made it back to London. I can't say that it was 'for a good reason' or that anything 'special' has come out of me not going back. I have new dreams now, a different direction that my life might take, and perhaps it will have all been worth it one day.

While I can get caught up in the 'follow your dreams' talk just as much as the next person, I think we need to realise that not everything is possible, or right for you. I do believe that hard work and determination will take you far. But sometimes you need a healthy dose of luck thrown in too.

I'll leave you with this thought. I do believe that your dreams are possible - but be flexible with them. If you have a rigid plan on how things will be, it allows no room for magic and chance, and you will miss something along the way. Be prepared to work hard, your dream is unlikely to show up in the form of instant gratification.

I encourage you to talk about your failures or wrong turns. It can be completely overwhelming to hear only the success stories. It generates an expectation that things should be easy, or if you want it bad enough, you will have it instantly. I think you will find that most successful people have stories of failure. Life takes unexpected turns and you may reach a different outcome to what you expect. Embrace this and don't you ever give up. Sometimes the lesson is in the journey.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Meet the April Sponsors!

It's time to formally introduce you to my lovely April sponsor team. This month I asked the question "what is your favourite social media site or app?" You might discover something new, or take a different perspective on something that you use everyday. If you enjoy this little snippet, be sure to visit these fab ladies at their blog/shop/social media pages and share some love.

Hi! My bit of the internet is all about being your unique self, embracing simple pleasures, inspiring each other to try something new and making the normal girl in all of us feel extraordinary and accomplished. There are things to read and contemplate, plants to grow, projects to make, free downloads and, of course, things to eat! It'd be lovely if you stop on by. :)
My love affair with Pinterest is everlasting. I can keep everything all in one place and it's far more portable than the 23 binders full of magazine clippings and articles that I used to have. :)  Plus, talk about inspiration! The world is filled with SO many talented people that express themselves in so many different ways. It's happiness and inspiration all in one little package.
my favourite post // Freebie Download: Love Notes

Amy Grace is a petite blog about life and the joys that come with it! I'm twenty and a lover of all things beauty! Come join my little world full of makeup rambles, life adventures and a junkies stash of cookbooks ♥ 
Instagram! Its probably a little cliché but I find it so much easier to express my love of something in a photo then with words, and when you go back through all your photos it brings back beautiful memories and special times!
my favourite post // Weekly Catchup
I am a wanderer at heart with a gypsy soul. I love coffee, books and Sex and the City. I'm dating the love of my life with the sexiest smile. This blog is about my wanderlust, my travels and trying to make my own mark on this world.
I love Facebook, how easy it is to use and connect with other people.

my favourite post // Prague

Kyla Is Inspired is a blog about fashion, design, illustration, and pretty things. I like to post about anything and everything inspiring.
I LOVE Dribbble - it's such an addiction of mine, to go and see what everyone is up to! It's like twitter (which is my second favorite) for creatives. It's such a great inspiration resource, and I find so many new illustrators and designers to follow every time I visit. 
my favourite post // Product & Print

My name is Maria, I blog about a healthy lifestyle and fashion inspiration! I also sell vintage goodies on etsy :)
I am recently loving spotify. It's a great place to feel inspired by music, and start my day!

my favourite post // Relieving Stress

If you're interested in advertising on Kitty & Buck, simply head over to the advertising page and check out the details! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me. Oh, and just because, have 20% off any large or XL ad with the code: damnfinecoffee


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April Sponsor Giveaway - Win $50 for Ban.Do!

April's giveaway is fabulous! Especially if you're fond of bright colours and shiny things. We are offering one lucky lady (or gent) a $50 store credit to spend at Ban.Do. My personal favourites are the sequin heart clips, suitable for shoes, or anything else that needs a little extra something. Aside from that there are goodies galore including zippered cases, headbands and bits and bobs to dress up your gadgets. All you need to do to enter is tell me your favourite colour! Easy, right?
This giveaway is made possible by my April sponsor team, please visit them to show your appreciation!

To enter, simply follow the rafflecopter widget instructions below. There is one compulsory entry and a bunch of bonus entires to give you more chances to win. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekend Links

Get schooled at the Akademie Zubrowka (I finally saw The Grand Budapest Hotel - it's a winner).

Are you a Bruno or a Michel?

Blogging tips and advice from a lovely group of ladies.

I'm making a half-assed effort to be somewhat healthy this easter - get these in my belly!

This is an issue that I am really passionate about. Talking about the clothing manufacture business in a really interesting way with an interactive documentary style website. Suddenly that chain store bargain item doesn't seem worth it.

Bezier curves with HVBH's. I feel enlightened (via Karli Ingersoll).

Maggie's lookbook for "Patina" S + S '14 preview is gorgeous!

Typeset in the Future looks at typography in sci-fi films. The breakdown of the type in "Moon" is fascinating.

This recipe box would make a great mother's day gift (or you know, a nice treat yourself gift).

Even if you don't manage to be a perfect 1950's lady with a spiffy home, pressed underwear and freshly baked pie cooling on the windowsill, you can still dress like one.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Found #92

Spotted this week: (see what I did there?) these cutie-pie polka dot socks from Odd Pears. You get a 'pear' of socks, which is actually 3 socks, so you can mix and match, providing you (if you're anything like me) with hours of sock-entertainment. Plus, $1 from every pair, sorry - pear, sold goes to charity.

After a conversation with an 80 year old war veteran, photographer Tom Hussey was inspired to create this series of images showing the present day subject with a reflection of themselves from the past. It's a confronting study on the passage of time and the reality of ageing.

This terrarium necklace was inspired by the mountains of Kerry, and I have to say, that's enough for me. But even if you don't have fond memories of those green mountains of Ireland, I'm sure you'll agree that this is one special piece of jewellery.

These stoneware bowls are handmade on the lovely Gold Coast right here in Australia. The texture on the glaze looks so touchable. They would make a lovely addition to any kitchen, don't you think?

There is no sign that I am going to tire of handmade, rustic jewellery anytime soon. This cuff from Break A Stone is incredible!

What are you up to for the long weekend? I'm choosing to stay at home unlike every other person in Sydney who has decided to drive somewhere in a massive traffic jam, to get away from it all (except other Sydney-siders) I'll save my weekends away for when everyone else is staying put, thank you very much. I envision baking, BBQs and perhaps some reading on a picnic blanket. Oh, and you know, maybe some work here and there too.

I hope you have a lovely Easter, don't eat too much chocolate, ok?