Life, Opinion, Rant

Being a grown up is fucking stressful

When I turned eighteen I started to think that I was an adult. Leaving home and heading off to university seemed like the moment when I would transition to adulthood. In reality it only postponed the real learning by giving me one last hurrah – a hurrah that lasted three years mind.

Being able to manage my own finances; aka paying rent, bills and having a part time job, all seemed like the sort of thing that proper people do. That was true. But I was experiencing the most simplified version of what that meant. My responsibilities were surface level complicated.

My household costs and university fees were paid for by a combination of a few hours of bar work, huge student loans and a bank overdraft.

Banks are terrible. They really drag you, coaxing you to join open an account with them by offering student bonuses for signing up to an overdraft with them. You’re the kid in the candy store who’s been told they can have any sweet or chocolate they want. What you aren’t being told is that if you keep indulging like this then you’ll end with cavities and then painful visits with the dentist soon after.

Even at the time you know that an overdraft is a loan, but you don’t really understand the weight of that. You can open multiple accounts if you want to and it’s all interest free! Brilliant! Nope, not brilliant. You are borrowing money you don’t have. Money you may not be able to easily earn back (especially in this job market). Money that you could only pay back if you stop doing anything that costs any money to do for at least a year. This is unlikely to be feasible if you’re even only a little bit sociable or live in a big city.

Then I got a full time job and realised that those student exemptions to council tax were amazing. Who knew?

Apart from the huge chunks of money that get taken out as tax and national insurance – whatever that is, you have to pay to live in an area of the country and that, it seems, can be quite costly. So that’s just another one of those life costs and you learn to deal with it draining that much more of your bank balance. You save that much more of your pay each month, on top of bills, and you keep on working hard and having fun. And that’s it right?

Wrong.

Your still not done learning because what if something goes wrong? What if you get ill or someone in your family gets ill and you have to take time off work to help them? Well, you lose money. Or rather you don’t make as much.

That means that the little bit of money you were saving to pay off that still-interest-free-for-a-year overdraft is being used up on transport or eating out because you don’t have the time or energy to cook for yourself. If you manage to get by, scraping what you can together and feeling battered the whole time, then it’s back to working hard and paying normal, massive, bills, bills and more bills.

The lucky few will end up with jobs that earn them a decent salary and money will be a process of in and out. If you’re one of them then you’ll be able to plan a holiday here and there. If you’re unlucky/chose a career path that didn’t lead to being instantly the most employable graduate ever, you will have to keep working those long and less loved hours in what feels like a dead end job. Dead end because it’s not even remotely close to what you dreamed of.

By the time you start to realise that you are on a path where you are not only racing the other graduates, and also those who will being coming up after you for the jobs you want, each year adding more other people to the pot of choice for potential employers, you’ll start thinking again that THIS is what being an adult is.

Finally, this is adult life.

This is all of it.

You are the wacky racer who doesn’t have a car but has to run the driving race holding up a cardboard cut out of a car. It’s harder, painful and no one seems to care that it’s unfair. Being a grown up is fucking stressful because just when you think you understand how it all works, how you should be interacting with the world, you get shown something you didn’t even realise was a thing grown ups did.

This will continue every single year.

Worst of all, even once your twenty-five, you still won’t even have gotten around to thinking about retirement – as if that’ll be an option when you get to ninety.

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Opinion, Rant

Rant: Etiquette for Swimmers

I can’t say that I paid much attention to the Olympics when the UK hosted, nor any other country or year for that matter, but something about having athletes competing to prove their athletic prowess and skill inspired people up and down the country to actually get more active and take up a sport.

Years later, we still have an increased burst of new potential athletes, or at least people who want to start ‘‘slimming down for summer’’ or heading for the classic ‘‘new year, new you’’ by going to the gym, taking up running or going swimming.

Aquatic activities, such as swimming and diving, have grown in popularity thanks to not only the Olympics but the stars that came out of the competition, namely Tom Daley. Despite his youth and key skill being diving, he has flourished in the media spotlight and moved beyond the pool into our everyday lives. Admittedly, I have only ever heard him speak once, but like so many, his physique is what most obviously impresses.

The swimmer’s body is lithe and taunt, strong and muscular but not aggressively so (see anyone who is obsessed with gym selfies). Who wouldn’t want to have a body like that? What could be wrong with trying to achieve that?

Well, I’ll tell you, nothing. Except that the people who decide to take up swimming can sometimes, too often, lack the social graces and logic of thought that make them a complete and utter nuisance in the water.

I decided to start swimming regularly; lengths that is and not simply floating around, after discovering a nearby pool and getting a new bike that would allow me to be there in five minutes. Convenience plus health benefits made it a no-brainer. Plus, I have always enjoyed being in water, so whenever I have a spare hour I whisk myself up the hill and have a good session of back and forth while thinking about nothing in particular. It might help me to achieve a godlike physique (if I went to the gym and stripped my diet of anything associated with sugar) and it definitely helps me relax so I feel all the better for having done some exercise.

After a couple of weeks, I had managed to avoid any of the busier times of day and my swimming was relatively freeing and stress free. Then arrived the dreaded idiot swimmer. These selfish people are probably just trying to keep fit, but they seem to not realize that they are not in their own personal pools and are under the impression, quite rightly, that my politeness doesn’t allow me to either yell at them or quietly take them aside as I should and tell them that THEY NEED TO STOP SPLASHING SO MUCH!

You might now be thinking that I’m overreacting, but that is the fault of the word splash, it’s a delicate and wishy-washy word that can’t quite carry to energy of what these people do, nor is there a more accurate term for what they do.

These have not learned to make a good and clear form when arching their arms and kicking their legs through the water,  instead these are desperate and unthinking fools who spank the water with palms and feet; which must hurt, in a frantic scurry to reach the other side.

I’ll admit there was a time; one maybe two times, when I was not among the well coordinated but I was never so blind as to think that by hitting the water as hard as possible and flailing in every direction that I was getting better at swimming. Do they lose all feeling in their limbs when in water? Do they not see people scowling and darting away when they career towards them?

What’s more these are the same people who don’t seem to comprehend what a ‘lane’ is in a swimming pool. There are often helpful signs indicating speeds for swimmers and direction of flow and these are very useful for the simpletons. Alas, when there are ‘adult sessions’ they are trusted to figure these things out for themselves.

Unfortunately, they can’t, or won’t. Instead, you will find that the same strip in which you have been swimming up and down in for the past half hour will be taken over by a bumbling nitwit who will instead swim directly at you without looking, or swim diagonally across several people and act none the wiser each time that do it! Have you not been taught to be aware of your surroundings? Did you not realize that you are not in the equivalent place on the other side? It boggles the mind.

If you have not come across these people, then likely you are one of them. So is the way of the world. But I wonder, how is it possible not to know how you impact others? What kind of life do you have that means you are this way? Are you all actually bulldozer drivers who think that if you just keep going it’ll probably all be fine? I’m doubtful that those drivers are as simple that.

I realize this is somewhat of a niche problem but it does seem to grate on mind each time I have to face these people. I have taken to sticking to my guns and staying the course when a lumbering, tidal wave causing, gasping form plows towards me and most of the time I have to deal with them by swerving last minute, length after length, as though they are incapable of learning, of even thinking, ‘‘perhaps I should move to a place where I’m not in someone’s way’’ or as one gentlemen said to me ‘‘I’m just going to swim between the two of you here but I won’t get in your way.’’ He was a slow old man but he was polite and so I didn’t mind.

In summary, manners cost nothing and if you don’t have any then get the hell of this public pool before I go insane and strangle you with your own goggles.

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