Post University Panic: A Hopefully Helpful Post

(I chose the above image, as it is kind of a good image to define what I looked like for most of university-I miss my long hair so much! I would have posted a picture of my Masters graduation ceremony, but it hasn’t happened yet! Image credit: Holly Campbell.)

I almost didn’t post anything today but I’m really trying to be consistent with posting so thought I’d post instead how I’ve been feeling recently. Plus, I just did some exercise and it helped clear my head a little bit so think I might be able to actually get something out that is not a rambling mess. So for those of you who do not know I’ve finished university for the second time, as I’ve just completed my Masters course (though I’m still waiting for my final grade). Alongside that my significant other has also finished their course, and my friends who were on the course I did.

Although, I can pretty much just about cope with the fact that we are all not students anymore; I have to admit that the thought still kind of scares me. The last four years of my life have been defined by me being a student. A lot of my most memorable moments in my life like taking up running, going travelling alone, and meeting a lot of my friends and significant other all happened at university. I’ve changed so much that to be honest it is hard to connect to the timid, shy person that I was in some ways before university (though she’s still there and definitely comes out when I’m anxious or stressed). And while parts of me have come bubbling back recently- I’ve started to revert a lot more back to the middle aged, no drinking, serious April and away from the fun loving, carefree persona I tried very hard to adopt- I think now I land somewhere in-between.

However, changing or not, the time after university is hard. Everyone wants to know what you are going to do now. What you want to do. Basically, they want to know if university was worth it career wise. I’m lucky that I actually have found a job after university that I will start at soon (but I’m not going to post what it is or anything like that just out of privacy), but it is within the industry that I went to university to study for. I did though on my way get an endless stream of rejections. I also still see my friends being rejected. Bright, qualified, friendly, amazing people that should be fighting down job interviews. Yet, we can all barely make ends meet. Seriously, don’t look at my bank account right now it will make you weep. And no it’s not fair. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is for anyone who is in that position right now. I just want you to know I get you. I know what’s it like to have no money, and to be scared that you will never find a job. I know this may not be what you want to hear from someone who is lucky enough to have found a job, but I am still going to have a good few months of struggling to make ends meet left. Also, I just want to point out here that I know that there there are always people who have it worse, and I am incredibly privileged to have it as good as I do but comparing people’s issues (unless in an appropriate scenario) never helps. We all have pain, and I would never dismiss someone’s experience because it is not as “bad” as my own.

So for those of you finishing university who do not know what to do take a breath.

Write down a ten year plan of where you went to be. Brainstorm things you like if you don’t know what industry you want to be in. Then, write down your skill set (not focusing on experience), writing down what you enjoy, and also what you want to know/ be able to do.  Set plans on how you will get there. I’ve done my fair share of unpaid voluntary work (for charity’s I have to mention I have no issue with this) and internships that yes, should have been paid. But those positions gave me experience and got me noticed. I know the struggle of trying to fit unpaid work around your paid work. No, I cannot afford to just be paid expenses and come in 5 days a week (I have bills to pay!). There are though lots of places that take submissions (this is for writers)- it sucks but write for free, and get that portfolio out there. Then, when you get to that position of power, help me tear the whole system down.

Also, just so you know tonight I’m genuinely going to sit and take my own advice, and force my significant other to as well. As yes I have a position I’m very excited about starting, but I’m not going to give them my best self unless I know what direction I want to go in. So that involves making sure I tie up my loose ends and projects I’ve been neglecting. As I’m determined to go in with the best positive mindset.

I understand wanting to wallow, and trust me my friends can tell you that I have done more than my fair share. But, I’m so happy that they actually know that for once (minus an incident in my second year of university where I sat on the floor in a teddy bear onesie eating Nutella). Wallowing though surprisingly enough has never made me feel better. Neither does pretending everything is ok. Faking it till you make it is not necessarily something I recommend either. Asking for help, and trying your best is what I do recommend.

Trust me, this is not where I thought I’d be after university but although it’s not perfect; I know I’m going to be happy. I have so many things in my life to be lucky for, and there is so much promise in my future. And I know that you have promise too. So I’m going to keep writing, and keep posting here even though I stress out over every post and think it’s imperfect, uncool and not polished because I’m boring, not attractive enough to be interesting, and just plain not interesting. I’m going to keep going because I enjoy writing for this blog. It’s the only diary I’ve ever consistently wrote in at my life. It stops me repeating myself. It gives me an outlet (I really don’t like not being busy). So to anyone who actually consistently reads my posts, thank you for reading, and if you’re a fellow creator message me and let’s create something together (especially if it’s autumn themed-I’m one of the people who is definitely autumn obsessed). On that note, my goal by the end of this year is to FINALLY start my own YouTube channel (something I’ve wanted to do for years); I just have to wait till I can afford a camera and pluck up the courage. However, it’s now on the internet so please call me out if I don’t do it. I’m also going to hopefully post a blog post with a list of all my goals for the end of this year and next year so I can kind of categorise how I do.

So this post may have got onto a bit of a tangent but what I wanted to say was life is going to feel like it sucks for a while, and I hate that but don’t give up because trust me if you can get through university you can get through this. Yes, “adulting” sucks and your life may feel like an unfunny version of Friends; but just take a step back, breathe, and keep pushing on. After all, think of the relief when you finish this part of the run (sorry a running analogy is the best I can come up with)- and hopefully the promise of the “runners high” will get you through it. I know this may seem like generic, unhelpful advice, but it’s just how I’ve been soldiering on, and I think more than anything it helps to talk about this issue and know that everyone else’s lives aren’t perfect and that they are struggling too.

I know it at least helps me!

🍂April 🍂

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An Interview With Kimothy Joy

Image provided by Kimothy Joy

I stumbled upon Kimothy Joy’s artwork last month after seeing the awesome illustrations she provided The Huffington Post for their campaign #WeMakeHerstory, which inspired and intrigued me so I set out to find out more, and to of course follow her on Instagram! The collaboration was also partially what inspired some of my own blog posts and collaboration with Caroline from The Kawaii Kollective, who provides me with illustrations for my feminist reading journey (in each blog post I have credited Kimothy Joy for inspiring the artwork).

For those who aren’t familiar with Kimothy Joy she is a Denver-based illustrator who specialises in watercolours and ink drawings. Her work generally centres on female empowerment, usually through painting heroines from the past, and present (like in The Huffington Post series). Her art is art of resistance, as she believes art and creativity can be a powerful force for social change. Therefore, she often partners with companies that aim to make the world a better place for everyone.

It’s unsurprising that the popular items that she sells (for UK readers she sells internationally on Etsy) carry the slogans, ‘Make America Kind Again’, ‘The United States of Nasty Women’, ‘The Future is Female’ and ‘Rise Up’.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

I of course was interested to find out what her favourite quote to live by was as someone who illustrates so many inspiring quotes…
“Find joy in life. Share joy with others.” It’s so simple but very meaningful to me. My mother had it printed out and taped to our fridge during her last year fighting breast cancer. She maintained an overall resolute disposition – determined to find the beauty in her battle. That lesson will also stay with me. And the irony of Joy being my middle name. I think I’ve recently really brought that sentiment into fruition in my own life. I know she’s proud.

How do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from other women who have found their own voice and found the courage to speak their own truth to the world. This comes from something as casual as coffee dates or via books, music, podcasts, poets, and documentaries. Books written by Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, or modern day women such as Jessica Bennett’s Feminist Fight Club or We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Currently, I am so utterly moved by the music of Tank and the Bangas, a group from New Orleans. They’re on repeat.

What artists inspire you?
Lately, I’m really inspired by poetry. I don’t think I’m alone in this becoming something the general public is yearning for more and more in these very confusing, conflicting times. Nikita Gill’s work is stunning. So is the poetry of Cleo Wade, Nayyirah Waheed, Warsan Shire, and Rupi Kaur. Their words provide so much understanding, peace, and healing. They inspire a lot of my paintings.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram

Do you think art and creativity can drive positive social change?
Immensely! Art, music, dance, any creative expression – these are the languages used by us humans that are able to transcend barriers whether they be cultural, racial, gender, whatever. They harness so much power. In challenging times when we’re trying to work out how we feel or what is happening around the world – there is always art and creativity to help us feel heard, connected, understood. Art transcends words. It heals and unites. I have so much faith in its power and magic. It’s the language of our soul.

These words by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings are everything. Keep showing up. ❤️

A post shared by Kimothy Joy (@kimothyjoy) on

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

What has been your favourite campaign you have worked on/ supported so far?
My favourite campaign has been the project in which I created art in celebration of Women’s History Month with The Huffington Post. The editors selected a great variety of women, some lesser known; these women peaked my interest and I was happy to get to know them better before painting them. I love that Huffpost used their platform to spread the words and stories of these women.

🔥Alicia Garza🔥 #WeMakeHerstory (🎨: @kimothyjoy) #WomensHistoryMonth

A post shared by HuffPost Women (@huffpostwomen) on

Image: @HuffPostWomen/ Instagram                                                                                                       

Have you always called yourself a feminist? Has your work always been centred around women’s rights?
I didn’t call myself a feminist in my youth and my work became rooted in feminism before I self-identified as one. Over the last few years as a creative consultant, I chose to partner with organisations that focused on women’s rights and empowerment. I was completely moved by what they were doing especially organisations like Smart Girl who work with middle school girls on building emotional intelligence, mental health awareness, confidence, anti-bullying, etc and Threads Worldwide who promote fair-trade goods and economic opportunity for women around the world. I think I was too busy trying to figure out how to advance the work they were doing that I didn’t stop and categorise myself. I didn’t think to state it publicly or draw a line in the sand. If feminism means believing in equal rights / human rights than it should be a given, right? – something that you don’t have to claim. However, I think it’s important to claim now more than ever because of the negative connotations still associated with it. We need to break down those misconceptions and make it commonplace for all humans to call themselves feminists. It’s a no brainer. It shouldn’t be taboo or divisive. We also need to collectively work to clarify its definition in being inclusive of people of color, the LGBTQI community, etc. and recognize the privilege and disadvantage that groups within the feminist movement are experiencing.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram

How did you choose the quotes for your series with Huffington Post Women for Women’s History Month?
The editors at The Huffington Post selected the women and quotes then I narrowed down a list that I wanted to paint. I liked the diverse, wide array of people they chose. Some were classic heroines of the past and others were modern day leaders of movements like Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, co-founders of Black Lives Matter and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood and Illyse Hogue, president of NARAL. I also love that they chose provocative, challenging quotes. Their selections sparked a lot of conversation and engagement online especially regarding intersectional feminism and resistance.

Wise words from @ilyseh 🔥 (🎨: @kimothyjoy) #WeMakeHerstory #WomensHistoryMonth

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Image: @HuffPostWomen/ Instagram                                                                                                          

✊🏽✊🏿✊🏾 @lsarsour #WeMakeHerstory (🎨: @kimothyjoy) #WomensHistoryMonth

A post shared by HuffPost Women (@huffpostwomen) on

Image: @HuffPostWomen/ Instagram      

Who is your favourite author or activist/ quote out of the women you drew?
That’s a hard one! So many gems in that mix. I think it’s a tie between the quote from Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Cheryl Strayed who said, “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.” I love that she’s telling us to get in the game, get dirty, show up, be brave, wrestle around with it. Do not shy away from finding your own truths, beliefs, opinions. Give it your all.

What charitable organisations do you support?
I support Southern Poverty Law Center, Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Move On, and I think I’m missing a few more. I support these organizations by donating a portion of profits from my products to their mission.

Have you ever seen someone wear one of your designs?
I’ve seen many photos of people sporting my designs which is the best! I’ll run into people with my tote bags or wearing a t-shirt. It makes me so happy to know these messages resonate with others and they’re proud to share them with me. I’ve never felt so connected to so many (once) strangers before.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram

Your work is all about positivity, how do you stay positive in the period America is in at the moment? Have you ever received negativity about your work?
This is a real challenge for me, actually. I practice staying positive and actively seeking out things and people who inspire and uplift me. There are days when I feel so low about what’s happening. But then I have to try harder to find a poem that that brings me back to life, or a book, or a story, one act of bravery or love, then I sit down to paint. Then I share it online and find that it helps to heal others, as well. I’ve been being very diligent and intentional about it these last few months. It’s my sacred habit. I love that I can share it with other people who are craving it just as much as me. And yes, I have received some negative feedback about my work, which is expected when you share of yourself online, especially creative work, and your reach expands. The issues that I choose to paint about are usually divisive topics for our country so that invokes strong opinions one way or the other. Art itself is subjective and open to various interpretations. That’s what makes it powerful. Also, I’ve learned to listen to the criticism that starts off from an emotionally correct or respectful place.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

Do you think it is important that feminism remains inclusive of all women (i.e. inclusive of people who identify as non binary and trans women) as I’ve noticed those themes in your work?
Definitely. One of the mainstays of my work is to portray a diverse, all inclusive, array of people. I don’t necessarily include a lot of masculinity in my work, because it just doesn’t come natural to me, but I don’t want to exclude them from my messages, either. It is really important to me to include all ethnicities, sexualities, body types, varying body abilities, ages, trans, non-binary, queer, everyone. Feminism is about passing the mic to the most disenfranchised and marginalised. It’s about demanding human rights from the bottom up, by putting those that are the most threatened at the forefront.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram 

What is next for you with your artwork? What are your plans for the future?  
I would love to publish a book of my illustrations. I’d like to partner up with organisations I support and different campaigns to promote positive social change. Whatever I can do to leverage the power of visuals to change minds, perspectives and unite and connect.

Image: @kimothyjoy/ Instagram