Unemployment can be debilitating, it can question your self-worth and your ability to perform as a person. For those who haven’t gone through it yet, you are quite fortunate.
To me, being a good friend to someone who’s going through this difficult time in their lives is one of the greatest gifts you can give but often we don’t know how to approach it for fear we may say the wrong thing or come across as nagging.
Based on my experience of watching myself and friends go through unemployment, here are a few suggestions on how to support a friend who is searching for a job:
Don’t ask that question
“How’s the job hunt going?” “Anything on the horizon?”
Though often well-meaning, these are probably the hardest questions to be asked when you’re unemployed. For those who genuinely are looking for work and are actively applying and putting effort into cover letters and CV, we don’t really want to be asked them. It’s difficult to keep our spirits up when suddenly unemployment apparently defines us.
Treat the person exactly the same way as you would if they were employed
Remember that there are real reasons that you both are friends. You probably bonded over similar interests and though maybe the job hunt is a big part of your friend’s life at the moment, it shouldn’t be the only thing you can talk about. Keep the conversations as you normally would. There’s nothing worse than feeling pressure from your family and friends.
Really be there
You don’t even have to mention “unemployment”. By simply saying that you’re actually there for the person should they need someone to listen to or to have a chat with could mean the world to another. If they vent or cry, let them. Many people feel ashamed of their situation and often see themselves as a burden to others when they’re job hunting and will avoid social situations at all costs. Don’t wait for them to call you.
Reward steps forward
Rather than be critical or nagging, focus on supporting your friend during this time. If they tell you that they applied for jobs or made calls out to employers, emphasise that it was great that they did so, but be genuine.
That being said, go easy on the pity
Learn to listen and let your friend initiate the conversation on unemployment, if and when they decide to bring it up as an issue. Be sensitive that your friend may not be able to head on nights out anymore or an expensive meal but don’t point it out, no one likes to feel like a victim on a daily basis.
The longer you’re unemployed, the harder it is to maintain a positive outlook and self-image. Include your friend in your life as you normally would. They’re probably in need of someone who still believes in them. Be that person.
Read more from Úna at www.unakavanagh.com.
The trees are unfurling, there’s a grand ‘aul stretch in the evenings – it’s that time of year once more! Only one more major holiday stands between Irish students and the Leaving Cert. In a few weeks the press will be set alight with discussion over the exams, with every mammy and milkman in the country offering their two cents’ worth. If I could offer one piece of advice to those frightened poor sods tackling sixth year at the moment, it would be this – don’t run before you can walk.
When I cast my mind back to my own Leaving Cert experience less than a year ago, I see a naive young girl with a grand plan. A big believer in delayed gratification, I forwent every chance to catch up with friends, declined every party invitation - all in service to said grand plan. The way I saw it, the isolation and stress would be worth it once next September rolled round. The quintessential college experience beckoned; boys, friends, boyfriends, nights on the lash (I’m a teetotaler) and top grades in every module
But things didn’t exactly pan out that way. You could compare my sixth year struggles to holding your breath underwater for too long. I buried myself in the books with such intensity that by the time the exams finished up, I was alive – but only just. My mental and physical strength had depleted to levels beyond unhealthy, and even as September loomed (and with it, the promise of my fabulous new student life), I still wasn’t 100%.
Depression and anxiety only became worse as I left home for Uni, and after transferring courses in a kneejerk reaction to the workload and pace, deferring became the only sensible option. In the weeks after deferring I ran the full gamut of emotions – naturally, there were tears (clearing out my apartment on campus was particularly traumatic), along with the feeling that my world was falling apart; all because I’d made a mistake and chosen the wrong course.
Some would say that at 18, I’m much too young to have regrets, but I harbour them anyway. They range from financial (the money I could’ve saved by deferring in the first place!) to familial (the stress I’ve subjected my mother to thankfully hasn’t affected her hair colour… yet) to emotional (why didn’t I take better care of myself and my health?). What I don’t regret, however, are the lessons these few months “off” have offered me. I’ve learned how to relax, to trust my judgement and have the courage of my convictions – and I’m now ready to return to college in September with a stronger, more determined mindset.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my year out:
1. When you defer college, you’re suddenly landed with more free time than you know what to do with, so it’s vital that you keep busy for sanity’s sake. I’d been scoping out part-time work prior to leaving, and so was fortunate enough to walk into a job the week I returned home. If a gap year is on the cards, start putting out feelers in your local area; ask family and friends, draft a CV and canvas nearby employers, and check the websites of larger retailers to see if there are online application processes.
2. That being said, all this free time (yes, free! No studying necessary!) is a wonderful excuse to be selfish and develop/discover your passions. Although I couldn’t hack French at third level, I wanted to maintain a basic proficiency in it, so I started taking night classes. I also practice Tai Chi and boxing weekly, and have developed (unhealthy?) obsessions with both Made in Chelsea reruns and baking. A mixed bag for sure, but my point is that if you’ve always wanted to try something, now’s the time to give it a lash!
3. Check yo’self - for some people a gap year is an option. For me, it was a question of health. If, like me, you’re not on top form mentally or physically, make this your top priority. Ask for the help you need, tell your friends and family what’s going on, and develop basic healthy lifestyle habits so that should you decide to go back to education in September, you’re able to look after yourself and your academics.
4. Haters gon’ hate – the reactions I got when I initially told people I’d left college were unhelpful, at best (they usually came, I might add, from adults who had never set foot on a third level campus themselves). Tired of trying to justify my choice to people, I began telling strangers that I had simply taken a year out. Reactions have become shockingly much more positive. Don’t feel obligated to explain yourself or your circumstances to anyone. Your decisions and your life are your business, no one else’s!
5. Don’t look back in anger – much of the guilt I felt after my deferral stemmed from my decision to go to college in the first place. I kept asking myself, would I have been better off if I had never gone? In hindsight, probably not, as (a) I would have spent the year in a perpetual state of FOMO, and (b) after a year of sitting at home twiddling my thumbs I may not have wanted to return.
Those few weeks in college, however turbulent, proved to me that I am capable of living away from home, attending classes, budgeting and doing all the responsible mature things it takes some students years to master. In short, I’ve chalked the past up to experience, and am looking forward instead of back.
6. Lean on your own shoulders – gap years can be lonely, particularly if your friends have moved away to study. Facebook and Skype are great for quick catch-ups, but they’re no substitute for real contact. I have no easy answer on how to combat this problem; all I can say is try to make the best of the present situation. Working helps, as does pushing yourself to meet others through courses and classes. Try and stay connected to old friends, and make the effort to get together when they are home. Something as simple as window-shopping or grabbing a coffee in town can work wonders for your mood, especially if you’ve been cooped up at home. Of course, I’m not suggesting that everyone take a year out – in fact, if you’re still quite relaxed at this stage of sixth year, then that jump to college might be best taken sooner rather than later, as the possibility of not going back might increase after a year away from the books.
My aim in sharing my story is simply to say that there’s nothing wrong with wanting or needing a break. Our British neighbours understand this, and seem to have a much healthier culture of gap years. Here, on the other hand, Joey down the road with the 625 points is treated like a mythical hero, while those who took study breaks (or heaven forbid, dropped out!) are treated as a cautionary tale.
At the end of the day, there isn’t a mandate that requires you to go straight to third level (or even go at all), so what’s the rush? My own year out didn’t happen under the best of circumstances and was totally unexpected, but it’s taught me more about myself than any college course could have. Do what’s right for you, and screw the naysayers!
Today, BeLonG To, Ireland’s national organisation for LGBT young people, launched its campaign to secure a ‘Yes’ vote in the upcoming referendum on marriage equality.
BeLonG To’s campaign will focus on the importance of parents and young people in winning the referendum. In order to secure a Yes vote, it’s necessary that everyone has conversations with their peers and colleagues about why they are voting Yes - this campaign recognises the crucial role that parents and young people must play in this.
The participation of parents and young people in the campaign for marriage equality demonstrates that family values and the welfare of children and young people are at the centre of the campaign for marriage equality. BeLonG To are highlighting this by collaborating with numerous child and youth organisations including ISPCC, Barnardos, Foróige, Youth Work Ireland, the Migrant Rights Centre, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Pavee Point and EPIC.
Founding Director of BeLonG To, Michael Barron said: “We have seven weeks to do right by our young people and ensure Ireland becomes a country where no young person has to suffer because of their sexuality.”
The referendum on marriage equality is happening on May 22nd.
If you’re not yet registered to vote, you can do so until May 6th. To register to vote, you need to:
This is going to seem like a really strange post for an 18-year-old college student to be writing, especially because right now I should be in bed nursing a hangover, not writing a blog post with a clear head. But the title is pretty straightforward: I’m going to stop drinking alcohol. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not exactly a big drinker to start with. Being in college I drink once a week, maybe twice at the maximum, and when I’m at home I don’t drink at all. It’s pretty much average and normal for somebody in their first year of college in my opinion. But what’s not normal and average for me is my reaction to alcohol, and quite frankly I got sick of it.
Drinking has never really been something that I “enjoyed” doing, which made me feel a little odd because I should probably enjoy going out and getting drunk like most other people my age. But I don’t, it just doesn’t agree with me and I don’t like the effect that it has on me. After a night of drinking I’m always tired, feel sick and just want to lounge around and eat junk food. Pretty normal, right? It is, but when you mix it with anxiety it’s just an even more lousy experience. The morning after a night out I usually wake up in a panic. Whether I’ve had one drink the night before or 21 (okay that never ever happens, but you get my drift), I’m always in a state from the moment I wake up and the first thing I do is frantically search my bag. I have to make sure that I have my purse, my phone, my keys. And of course I always do, but God forbid if I ever lost any of my things I’d probably have a panic attack for a day straight.
Once that’s over and done with, I start to retrace my steps from the night before and over-analyse them. This is where the real frustration begins. I’m always convinced that I’ve made an idiot out of myself, or that I’ve done something stupid. I start to think, “Oh God, what’s everyone going to think of me?” and sometimes this is so bad that I avoid everyone I went out with for a few days until I’m sure they’ll have forgotten about these embarrassing things that I’ve done. Keep it in mind that these embarrassing things are probably as simple as me tripping over in my six-inch heels, something that happens to everyone. But for me it feels like the end of the world, and I completely blow it out of proportion. Even if nothing that’s potentially reputation crushing has happened on the night, I’ll convince myself that it has and I’ve just forgotten about it.
Sometimes I think this is even worse, because it then becomes a struggle to walk downstairs to the shop or go to a lecture for fear of seeing somebody who saw me the night before. What’s even worse is when this happens after a Tuesday night, because I then have to spend the rest of the week in this state. So I decided to make a change. Yes I enjoy my nights out with the girls, but the amount of anxiety that it brings the day after just isn’t worth it. This week I decided that the alcohol needed to go, my happiness and well being on a daily basis is much more important to me than having fun for a night. I don’t know why I didn’t decide to do this sooner, because I’m perfectly capable of having fun without alcohol. I’ve just finally accepted that this is making my anxiety worse, and I want to stop it. So this week, I started my drink-free college life, and guess what? I loved it.
Usually by Friday I’m dying to go home and feel exhausted and crappy from the night before, but this morning I feel happy and refreshed. I went to all my lectures with a clear head, and even that improved my anxiety by showing myself that I was learning new things and actually taking them in. I spent my money for going out on an appointment with a psychic medium, and the amount of positivity and happiness that I got out of it was worth every penny.
But just because I wasn’t drinking doesn’t mean that I couldn’t go out and have fun. On Thursday I went to a house party with one of the girls, and left before they headed off to the nightclub because I had an early start the next day and was wrecked. I had a good time, and I didn’t need alcohol to do that. By not wasting my money on alcohol, I was a happier person this week. I may be a little quieter and maybe a little more boring without alcohol in my system, but who cares? I feel one hundred times better, and that’s all that matters.
Some people are probably wondering, why the hell is she blogging about this? Well, because I think it’s a positive move. It’s something that I’m sure a lot of anxiety sufferers hate dealing with, and I want to show them that it’s a much better scenario when you keep away from alcohol. I want to show people that you can enjoy college life without drinking, and that it’s not a necessity. And I think posting this online and keeping it updated will motivate me to keep doing the student life alcohol-free. It’s kind of a social experiment if anything; I want to see how much my anxiety improves without alcohol interfering. Even after just a week, I feel a lot better. And it’s made me want to keep going and see how much of alcohol really does contribute to my anxiety.
Have you ever wanted to find a way to support SpunOut.ie’s work? Well, there are loads of different ways for you to help us to reach as many young people in Ireland as possible.
SpunOut.ie always needs the support of our amazing readers. To continue our work of providing non-judgemental, sound information to the young people of Ireland, we need your support. It would mean a lot to us if you were to consider raising funds and awareness for us in a fun and engaging way that suits you.
If you’ve ever wanted to run a marathon, there’s the perfect opportunity coming up to tick something off your bucket list, have fun, and raise some money for SpunOut in the process. The Vhi Women’s Mini-Marathon is happening on Monday June 1st and registration is open for it now. To register for it, just visit their website.
Running the Mini-Marathon is a brilliant way to get fit, challenge yourself, meet new people, and raise money for a great cause. You'll get an amazing sense of achievement afterwards, plus the fitness benefits will be great!
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Every €4 raised keeps our servers running for a day, while a gift of €14 to SpunOut.ie can keep our service going for 40 Irish young people for a whole year.
Your fundraising efforts will allow SpunOut.ie reach more young people through it’s online content and we would be extremely grateful if you raised both funds and awareness for us by running the mini-marathon. If you would like support or advice, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ireland, in recent months, seems to have been transformed into a loving, liberal and open country in the lead up to the Same Sex Marriage referendum in May. Irish society, its public and private institutions and its media have taken huge strides in being open and taking a stand against homophobia. When it comes to anything around the issue of gender, transgender and gender expression, etc. we are still lacking, however.
The first time I became aware of Ivan Fahy was when an article about the “stir” he had caused by graduating from NUIG in high heel’s appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. My initial reaction was one of anger, though not for the reasons you might expect. I was angry because someone dressing however they felt comfortable and confident was newsworthy in Ireland. I was angry because I instantly thought of the negative feedback this kind of story could generate and direct at Ivan. I was becoming more and more exhausted by older generations assertions of what it was to be a “normal” man and a “normal” woman.
Before opening the article I knew that I fully supported Ivan and his outlook. I knew I shared a similar outlook on gender fluidity. I had always wished society could be more open-minded when it came to stepping outside of the gender norms and being fluid with our gender identities. As I scrolled though the article, my brain agreed with the words I was reading about Ivan, his graduation and the positive attention he received. I was upset with myself when my eyes did a double take on seeing my first picture of Ivan, however.
Even though my brain had registered a deep support for Ivan and his viewpoint, my eyes did not reconcile this with the image I saw. I began questioning myself as to whether or not I really was as liberal and open-minded as I believed I was. The images of Ivan dressed in high heels, make-up and looking more stunning than I ever could, did not disgust me. They did not fill me with hate, fear or any other negative feeling. I was not offended by them so why had I such a strong reaction when I first laid eyes on him?
I realised it was because I, like many others, had been somewhat conditioned to view a male, dressed in what is considered a female way, as abnormal. It’s true, in the past 15-20 years the portrayals of women in Irish media, publications, industries has seemed to develop past stereotypically “feminine” but it can be said that men and their gender portrayals seem to be as rigid as ever.
Images of females dressed masculinely are splashed across publications, television screens and the Internet. Female “masculinity” has inspired fashion trends around the world, redefined “female” hair styling and so why isn’t a similar exploration of different male identities being undertaken? Why are the so few images of males dressed and portrayed femininely? Or even androgynously?
Being a woman, I can dress and express myself in a masculine manner publicly and have done so. So why do I get the feeling my male counterparts are not afforded the same opportunity?
When it comes to men, Ireland has long upheld old traditional representations of masculinity and notions of “manhood”. Examples can be seen everywhere: men are not entitled to paid paternity leave on the birth of their child, unmarried men are not legal guardians of their children and gay men cannot donate blood. You might be saying what do these injustices have to do with how men are represented in Ireland’s society. Well each injustice exists because of the conservative notion of “real” men being peripheral parents, providers of income and lovers of women only.
This image is enshrined in the laws that govern our “friendly” country so it’s hardly surprising that it has become enshrined in the psyche of the people of this country. This image is also a staple in advertising, social media, national television programming and every communication outlet you can think of. Irish companies continue to use stereotypical portrayals of men in their advertising, Irish broadcasters continue to create and support stereotypical male characters on television and anything that deviates from these portrayals causes a sensational furore.
Ivan’s outlook and androgynous modelling career may be new in the public sphere of the Irish psyche but are vital if we are to relax our views on what male gender norms are. Many men, just like women, struggle with the rigid gender constructions placed on them. In the past few years, steps have been taken to confront problems faced by males in Ireland, such as campaigns to end stigma around male depression and mental health problems. It’s important that while we loosen the restraints on mental health expectations of men, we should also begin loosening the restraints on how men choose to express their identity physically.
It took the simple image of a confident young man in heels to strike up this conversation in my own mind. It made me realise that women are the not the only victims of rigid gender roles. Men too are restricted from expressing themselves as anything other than “strong, macho and silent”. This prescription of gender norms in our society leads to hatred and inequality and it needs to stop now.
I will no longer double take on seeing a man who wears heels, wears pink or wears make-up. It’s about time more diverse representations of men appeared on Irish screens and across Irish publications. It’s about time men can define their own masculinity and dress in a way they want to, without fear of disgust and hatred. In order for this to happen we need to remember; people are more than their gender.
Are you registered to vote? Some of you may know the answer; others won't. First off, see if you're on the register of electors here. If you're registered, great. If not, don't worry! We'll guide you through it.
This year's referendum on same-sex marraige is on 22nd May. The deadline to register to vote for this is May 6th 2015.
The annual electoral register deadline is in November each year for all new voters and those looking to change their details.
That gives you a while to get your name down on that list before the deadline ahead of what is going to be a very busy year of voting in 2015, with referendums proposed on marriage, reducing the voting age and others.
Once this is done, your details will be added to the Register of Electors and you'll be able to vote in local, national and European elections as well as referendums (once you're eligible- just check out the details below).
If you are already on the voting register but you have moved address or need to change some details, just fill in this form and send it off as above.
If you're over 18 and an Irish citizen, you're sorted. You can vote for any person in any election for as long as you live in Ireland! If you don't meet those criteria, things can be a tad more difficult. Fear not, though, you still might be eligible to vote!
Yes! You can still register for the supplement to the register at least 15 days before polling day, even if you're not 18 on the date you register, but will be 18 before polling day. To do this, follow the instructions above to register as noral, but make sure you also submit a copy of your birth certificate with your form.
Generally, you need to vote in person at an official voting centre, but there's a couple of circumstances in which you might be eligible for postal votes. This is especially relevant to students, so listen up! You can register for a postal vote if you are:
Applications for inclusion on the Postal Voters List must be received by 25 November at the latest. However, if you're eligible for the postal voter list but are not included, you can apply for the supplement to the list.
The latest date for receipt of applications is 22 days before the referendum or election. For this year's referedum on same-sex marriage the deadline to apply for the supplement to the postal register by May 1st. To apply, you can get the forms from your local authority.
If you're a non-Irish citizen and want to vote in the elections here, you'll need to be an Irish resident since at least September of last year and, of course, be over 18. You'll still need to register, though, so make sure you fit at least one of these criteria and get yourself the right form and get your name down on that list!
Firstly, let’s be clear, there is only so much you can do to protect yourself from a naked picture or video of you getting into the wrong hands. Other than not sending one at all, there is no guarantee you can prevent it from being shared with a wider audience than you initially intended.
For lots of people, sexting will be relatively incident-free and your messages will generally remain confined to the person you initially planned would see them.
But there are also many cases where something that may seem like a bit of harmless fun at the time ends with massive regret at having sent a photo or video in the first place.
Remember; you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, and should never feel pressured into it. No matter how much you fancy the other person or how much pressure they put on you. If they respect you, they will completely understand, and if they don’t understand then they’re probably not worth your while.
If you’re in a situation that makes you uncomfortable and the other person keeps sending you sext requests, and you’re not interested, don’t be afraid to block them.
Read our article on peer pressure here.
Pretty much what it says on the tin - the sending of sexy texts and/or images to another person for a textual turn on. Obviously it’s not restricted to the dinosaur medium of SMS, and spans WhatsApp, iMessage, FB Messenger, KIK, BBM, Snapchat and dating apps such as Tinder, Blendr & Grindr.
Intimate pix are one thing, but sexting can include videos, made easier by Instagram direct and SnapChat - either way - you don’t want photos or videos getting out there and going further than you intended.
Sexting can be with a partner you’re mad about, a pal for whom nothing is TMI or an acquaintance/stranger on a dating app.
It can make total sense in the heat of the moment.
Maybe you are mad about a guy or gal and think sending a sexy pic is a great idea and will cement your love for eternity(JK!).
Maybe you are both horny and far away from each other and therefore decide it’s the only option available to you at that moment in time.
Or maybe you’re using a dating app like Tinder, Grindr or Blendr and the person you’re sending a nude to is someone you’ve never met or chatted to before.
Not everyone is sexting, but if you do decide to do it , here are some things to consider and some ways to limit your exposure (literally!) if things go wrong…
Sure, it’s meant to be a bit of fun, but what if an image or video were used in a way in which you didn’t want them to be? Having something as intimate as a nude shared without your permission can have a big impact on you psychologically. Be sure to think about the emotional stress of having pictures of yourself distributed to everyone you know by an ex or former friend.
Keeping in mind nothing is totally secure, here are some ways to avoid the trauma of having a picture or video of you leaked;
TheSite - Safe Sexting // WebCam Sex Video:
Exams are an inevitable factor in student life. The weeks before the exam can be very stressful, take some time to do exam prep and get ready, print notes, talk to the lecturer, anything that will help.
Study is the five letter word we dislike but it comes hand in hand with exams. One of the best ways of getting through exam time is to have a good plan for how to study well, look after yourself and manage your time.
Try downloading an app on your internet browser that can block various websites for a certain length of time.
What if I’m late for the exam?
Go to the exam room/hall and see if you will be admitted. Contact your department, the exams office and/or your Students’ Union if you run into difficulty.
What if I miss an exam or I’m too sick to sit the exam?
Every school/college has a procedure for instances where a student misses an exam. Contact your head teacher, department and your Students’ Union. Make sure to keep doctors’ notes, as you may need to submit a copy.
What if I sat the exam but I’m not happy with it?
If there was an issue with the paper, contact the teacher/lecturer responsible as soon as the exam is over. If you are unhappy with how the exam went for you, wait for the results before taking action. You can then talk to your teacher/Students’ Union about appeals and/or viewing the script. Remember, the Students’ Union and the exams office are there to talk and support you with exam results. And there is always the option to repeat the exams.
Who to talk to:
Condoms are the ONLY contraceptive that protects against sexual transmitted infections.
What are they?
A female condom is a sheath, made of a soft, fine material, which you insert into the vagina (like a tampon) to create a barrier against sperm. Unlike the male condom, the female condom can be used with oil and water based lubricants.
When taking the condom out of its packet, be sure not to tear it, as sharp fingernails and jewellery can easily tear a condom. It is also very important that you check the expiry date. Never use a male and female condom at the same time.
Advantages of the female condom:
Where can I get one?
Female condoms are available from pharmacies, and from GOSHH.
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.
The pace of life nowadays can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we need to take a break from all the holla baloo and just chillax.