Articles

How Drama Can Increase Your Self-Confidence

In my first years after joining secondary school, I often found it hard to have confidence in myself; my parents’ evenings were filled with my teachers telling me that I was too quiet in class and people would often ask me to speak up, so they could hear what I was saying. However, after attending drama classes for four years, I feel a lot more confident in myself, and other people have noticed it too; by working on different aspects of yourself and being willing to face challenges, anyone can improve their self-confidence.

Self-confidence is defined as: a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgement. 

Drama is something that can be very helpful when building self-confidence. Low self-confidence is often associated with quietness of speech and a tendency to shy away from the spotlight, but this is something that drama forces you to counteract. When attending drama classes, participants learn how to use breathing to speak with clarity, as well as how to project their voices enough to fill a room. These skills allow you to sound more sure of yourself when you speak, and in time, this may lead you to actually feel more sure of yourself as well.

Another aspect of self-confidence that drama can address is improving the way you hold yourself physically. Body language gives people hundreds of subliminal messages, which lead them to form judgements about you, before you’ve even opened your mouth. It is a stereotype for people with low self-confidence to stand with their shoulders hunched and their hands in their pockets, not really realising the effect this has on how confident they appear. Drama encourages you to think about all aspects of the character you are portraying, including the way they stand. Once you get into the habit of focusing on your physicality when acting, it will be easy to transfer this into real life: where previously, you would not have paid much attention to your body’s positioning, after spending so much time working on this in drama classes, you will find that you become more aware of it in general life, which allows you to make changes such as standing up straighter or widening your stance. These make you both appear and feel more self-confident.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. This involves approaching situations as if you were a self-confident person, even if you believe you are not. It’s a form of acting and visualisation that you can do in real life, and it can really make a difference. You could give a fake smile when talking about something, to make it seem as if you’re more sure of what you are saying, or you could laugh something embarrassing off, even if you feel uncomfortable on the inside. If you spend enough time practicing your confidence levels, eventually, you will start to believe it and your self-confidence will genuinely improve.

By Isabella Davidson

How to Deal with Exam Stress

Already stressed for GCSEs, A levels or Uni exams? Here are a few tips that you can use to fight your nerves.

PREPARING Revision is probably the most important for exams; you need to know the content! This also improves your confidence when going into the exam room. If you are prepared for the exam, you will feel happier and more ready so don’t think revision and preparation is something you can just skip, it is worth it. However, we all know it can be hard to have the motivation to work and to revise if you don’t really want to. There are different ways you can revise and prepare and it is best to try them all out a bit and find out which one is best for you and which one works best with your revision. You can use revision cards, mind maps, writing and reading notes, practise questions or online tools like quizlet or other apps like IMindMap. The best way to revise is NOT by trying to pull an all-nighter because that does more harm than good. Revising on limited or no sleep does not work because your brain is not processing the information and it is wasting your time. Take short breaks between your studying so you have time to relax and rest. What works for me is short bursts of note-taking and I do about 30 mins and then a 5/10 min ‘tea’ break. I find that this makes my time more effective over the day. I also like to revise and work with my friends because I feel happier around them and they are always there for me to ask for help. As long as you are using the best method of learning for you and not overworking yourself, there is no need to stress because you know you have done the most you could do to give yourself the best possible chance of doing well in your exam. 

HEALTH It is so important to keep your physical and mental health in check. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Don’t skip meals and try eating superfoods or foods like dark chocolate, nuts, milk, yoghurt and salmon. Chamomile tea is also stress-reducing and for the morning before an exam, why not try some toast with jam or oatmeal for breakfast. Try to exercise to keep fit and happy. Personally, I’m not too keen on running as I don’t like it and I’m not very good but sometimes, I go for a nice walk or play a sport that I enjoy, use this as a break from studying. Don’t over-work yourself or cut out all the other things you want to do, just to spend more time working. Make sure you are getting the appropriate amount of sleep and not too much time on screens like your mobile or laptop. Even though it is hard, I find that not going on social media about 1 or 2 hours before bed helps me go to sleep earlier and easier. 

LOOKING FOR HELP Sometimes, you might need some extra help, more personal and specific to your stress and why you are stressing. There are several options available but what I find most helpful myself was talking to a parent or friend. Even if they don’t say anything, it is sometimes nice to just empty your mind and thoughts and have someone there to listen. 

By Sophia Brown

Cultural Differences Between the UK and the US

Recently, I went on a trip to America to visit my grandparents; I have been going to the US for this purpose ever since I was little, but as I have grown up and become more aware of my surroundings, I have started to notice the subtle differences that are present between the two countries. This includes the types of social interaction that occur, as well as differences in the meaning of common words.

One difference that jumped out at me was the fact that the average American person just seems to be much more friendly than their English counterpart. This is showcased in situations such as when going into a shop (which they normally call a ‘store’), where a customer need only walk in the door for the shop assistant to make them feel welcome by immediately asking if they need help with finding anything specific. I was so unused to this that it actually made me feel a bit awkward when I had to tell them that I just wanted to look around, since in the UK, you are free to browse without the bother of having to talk to anyone. In addition to this, even when I did not buy anything before leaving the shop, I was always told to ‘have a nice day’ by this stranger who I had never even spoken to before. Having returned back to the UK, I now feel a bit offended that people no longer wish for my day to be a nice one.

Another difference was the food/establishments that serve food. For one thing, America contains a very large number of ‘drive-thrus’- something that is quite rare in England. While some may think the reason for this is our love for proper spelling, it’s more likely to be the fact that Americans have a tradition of ‘road trips’ (where people travel by car through multiple different states within the USA). The UK does not have this in quite the same way, as it is physically a much smaller country, therefore, people do not spend as much time in their cars for leisurely travel purposes as Americans do, so would be less likely to treat themselves to a stop at a drive-thru McDonalds along the way.

The final difference that I will address is the discrepancies between seemingly well-known words; it’s quite surprising to see just how many differences there are, even though both countries speak the same language, albeit ‘American-English versus British-English’. For example, my grandma would refer to her ‘pocketbook’: saying that she needed to get it from inside, and then emerging with her handbag, while I had been imagining that she meant some kind of small novel. Another interesting language difference is their use of the word ‘bathroom’, i.e. this is used to refer to what we in Britain would normally call the ‘toilet’ or the ‘loo’. Apparently, using the word ‘toilet’ is seen as vulgar, so ‘bathroom’ is substituted, even when the room in question does not actually contain a bath.

By Isabella Davidson

Volunteering in The Community

Are you looking for volunteering or other things you can do to improve your work experience or your CV? Maybe you want to learn and explore new skills or find a way of giving back to your community. There is such a variety of options and activities that there is always something that appeals to everyone. 

LIBRARY I started volunteering and working with my local library because I love books. I love being around them and organising them! I often found myself in the childrens’ section of the library and helping children read and enjoy their books. I enjoyed this because the happiness and excitement on their faces after having read a good book is indescribable and made me feel happy myself. Due to the fact that some children were more keen than others when telling me about how they enjoyed their reading, I thought of it as a task for me to try and encourage them and get them to tell me more. For anyone who likes books, I would recommend going down to your local library and ask the staff if they want to volunteer. Most can be flexible and you can do whatever time or day(s) suits you best. 

NURSING HOME For those more interested in a medical or caring future and career, you will find it useful to volunteer at an old-people’s or nursing home. It is so important for elderly or sick people to have a peaceful and kind environment to live in and it is also rewarding to be a part of the team who make that happen. Just talking to people is much appreciated and you can have a personal relationship with those at the care home. When I visited one locally, I discovered that there are fun trips that take place regularly for the people there and when visiting the home as a volunteer, you can colour pictures with them, read them the news or just talk to them. Notable skills you will pick up are patience, communication and listening. It can give you great people skills as you are forced to be friendly and talk to people which will build confidence.

SOUP KITCHEN If cooking is more your thing then why not try working evenings in a soup kitchen to help the homeless. Every week, people come to work together in a kitchen to make meals so that those who can’t afford to make their own meal can eat properly. You can work either as a chef in the kitchen or serving the food to the many thankful people. It is an often eye-opening experience and teaches a lot about other people who are living on the streets and others who need the help. Soup is not the only food served there and the Christmas dinner is always impressive and delicious. Is it a way of bringing people together and giving you confidence; after preparing the food, you will join and sit with the people and enjoy the food you have made. 

By Sophia Brown

The Difference between University and Secondary Education

In high school, I was taught about Thomas Malthus’s theory of population in my GCSE geography class. We were taught that Malthus theorized population growth will surpass food production so there will be a point of crisis where we cannot sustain the population. 

At the time, we did not delve deeper into this theory and only compare it to Ester Boserup’s agricultural intensification theory which theorized food supply will support population growth so every time humans get close to the point of crisis, technological advancement will find alternatives to meet the demands. 

However, we were not taught about the consequences of Malthus’ theory and the devastation it caused. This justified several governments actions to allow mass starvation to occur like the Bengal Famine of 1943. Nevertheless,  I did not critically analyse or even questioned Malthus’ theory until I reached university when we were having a debate on the repercussions of theories to real people’s lives.  

There were two lessons I learnt from this, first I had more freedom to study and analyse different theories which were limited in high school. Secondly, I believe I knew or had enough knowledge about geography and history to participate in debates but what we were taught in high school was only the surface.

The problem we have in the United Kingdom is secondary level education is not only enough to get a decent paying job but also really limited in the scope teachers could teach us. To be fair, teenagers are not known for their attention span but the way we were taught was arguably boring and curriculum is mostly to blame. 

It was not until university I learnt about Marx, Plato, Keynes, Hayek, Friedman to name a few. Ideas that literally shaped the world and yet in high school we were taught about British royalty instead of the pioneers of the time. 

On the other hand, without the strict rules and timetable of high school, we were given a lot of freedom in university and the attendance of the class drop considerably after the first week. Additionally, we were expected to study the material that was given to us as well as do further research because lecturers only introduce us to the concept and ideas. 

To conclude, critical thinking should be at the forefront of high school education to allow students to question and explore various historical events that shaped the world we live in. But more importantly, high schoolers need to be taught on how to develop their critical thinking outside the scope of classrooms and into their everyday lives. 

By Kaled Ahmed Abdi

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Patience is the Key to Success

You most likely heard the saying ‘Patience is the Key to Success’ which is practiced irrelevant to the social, religious, ethnic, gender or any other factors that differentiate people. One who’s patient tends to be happier according to some scientific studies which are linked to why older people tend to be happier. 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, patience is defined as “the ability to wait, or to continue doing something despite difficulties, or to suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed” where any person would have experienced these emotions. 

But in high school, teachers emphasised being patience is taking your time, for instance, use the whole time set during an exam so you could thoroughly answer all the questions to the best of your ability or when moving from one place to another, take your time so this will not cause any disruptions or accidents. 

Therefore, there was a recurring theme I experienced with patience in high school which was take the time to think before you act. This meant take myself out of that moment in time and view my actions whether they are justified or not. This allowed me to control my anger to an extent but this was only the peak of the iceberg about the teaching of patience. 

There are countless research and scholarly articles on patience and the benefits it has on a person’s mental and physical state which is not taught properly in high school at least when I attended not long ago. Probably due to the fact, a child would not have the mental readiness to understand the situation they are in plus they probably despise listening to another lecture, therefore, it’s better to show than tell. 

When I was faced with a problem as a child, either in a game or a real-life situation, I would usually find the easiest route to the solution but if I can’t, I would give up. However, my attitude change over the years, instead of giving up, I kept on trying even if it meant leaving my comfort zone for example when forced to do a math equation in front of the class that I got it wrong at first, I kept on trying. 

However, there is a difference between being patient and wasting your time. Just waiting for an opportunity instead of working towards it is procrastination which is a serious problem that many people have especially amongst university students because they are given the freedom to use their time as they want. Hence, instead of completing an assignment or 

Being patient with people is by far one of the most difficult things to do because not only you are investing the precious time you have in them, the end result could leave you disappointed. On the other hand, being patient with them could lead to a long-lasting healthier relationship but this does not mean you should be patient in a toxic relationship. 

The most difficult aspect of being patient is with yourself. No one is perfect and everyone does mistakes which is why being patient with yourself could lead to success. This means no matter what difficulties you face, you should keep on trying to succeed. 

By Kaled Ahmed Abdi

A Journey

From the day of birth to the day of death it is always one step at a time. The next journey. Every day is different for everybody every minute brings you a step closer to your next story.

How many people say that they can remember the day they where born or the day of their first words I mean I can barely remember what I had for dinner 2 nights ago. I know however that these things happened each one a new journey for me an obstacle in life to overcome, obstacles that helped shape me into the man I am today. But when you or I grow older the challenges start to become harder the journeys become longer the truth about the world that’s waiting out there becomes clearer.

At the age 4 I was diagnosed with hearing loss and received a hearing aid (despite being born with normal hearing). Of course to me though I can’t remember a time with normal hearing. I sometimes I get asked am I sad to have lost my hearing to know that I’ll probably never get it back to which I answer “No”, I mean how can I be sad for something I don’t remember how can I miss something I never even knew, hearing loss played a big part of who I am today and without it I may not be as compassionate or as friendly as I am today. Of course having hearing loss had its down sides, for every class I attended I sat in the front row silently or I would miss what the teacher said, for every time I went swimming I had to take out my hearing aids unable to hear anything or to have a conversation with my friends or family, but life goes on and a new journey came after the last, making the previous challenge dwarf in comparison.

One of the biggest journeys you can take is GCSE’s the test to see if everything you have ever learnt you remember to see if all your life spent in school hasn’t been for nothing. For me doing the GCSE’s was fine even the wait afterwards was fine in fact I welcomed the wait hoping it would go on forever. But alas that was not possible and the dreaded day came when I had to go in on that day and pick up that envelope an envelope that controls my future, an envelope that can either be the best or worst thing in my life. Was I worried of failure or disappointing my family to put it short and simple yes. I have never considered myself to be great in school in fact I have never excelled in any subjects and I was fine with that I never cared enough to try harder. My parents often told me my hearing stops me from doing as well as I could do. I never believed that of course even if I only had around 50% hearing in one ear, my action defines who I am and how I did in my GCSE’s not my hearing. And when preparation for GCSE’s came I knew the time for mucking about was over it was time for me to do one of my hardest journey yet. This was a time for me to prove to myself that I could do well and that my disability couldn’t stop me from achieving my dreams.

To my surprise I got the results I had wanted and so concluded another journey and a started to another, one in the form of A levels. Now I am half way through my A levels and I realise I look forward to finishing this journey and on to the next, for it was a philanthropist by the name of Anthony Robbins that said “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin”

By Jake Tewson

Dealing with the Turbulence of Teenage Years

Teenage years are hard, exams become important, friendships come and go, and every adult suddenly wants to know what you want to be doing when your 25. On top of all of this, most teenagers have the added stress of feeling judged by others. We worry that our bodies aren’t in the ‘perfect’ shape, that our clothes don’t suit us and that if we don’t get a boyfriend/girlfriend within a year we will be single for the rest of our lives. It all mounts up and makes us unhappy.

Up until the age of 15 I didn’t take any notice of my weight and I didn’t really care for makeup or fancy clothes, like many of the other girls in my year. I was a confident and strong girl who didn’t care at all about what others thought about me; until it all changed. Perhaps it was because I had got into an argument with some girls at my school or perhaps it was just the fact I had started my period for the first time, but something changed. My confidence had gone, I suddenly became aware of what people thought of me and I felt myself retreating into a small hole of unhappiness. It continued for around a year and a half until I decided enough was enough. I was tired of being stuck in the revolving door of stress, worry and sadness. I was starting to see my younger brother going through the same thing, so I decided I needed to build up my confidence again not only for my sake but also his.

I know that everyone overcomes struggles in different ways, and what worked for me might not work for you but here are three ways that helped me boost my confidence again:

  1. Talking to someone. It sounds cringy, I know, but talking to someone about why you feel unhappy and stressed is the most important thing you can do. For me, talking to my mum helped me realise that as long as I was making my family proud I was achieving something. I may not have been getting the same grades in maths as my peers, but my parents were proud of me so it didn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t have to be a family member however, a teacher or a therapist can also help you open up as well – it’s so much better to get it all off your chest.
  • Spending time with good friends. In High School I had a large group of friends, and although I enjoyed spending time with them, as the years passed I realised that not all of them made me happy, in fact some of them made me feel more stressed out. Now I’m in Sixth Form I have a much smaller group of friends, yet I’ve never been happier. I know these girls make me happy, I enjoy hanging out with them and they constantly cheer me up, even when I’m not feeling my best. I’m not saying to go away and cut all your friends out of your life, but do contemplate if the people you spend most of your time with are making you truly happy.
  • Spending less time on social media. I have to admit I absolutely love Instagram, however comparing myself to others online is something I have done plenty of times. I realised that this was making me unhappy with the way I looked as I was constantly comparing my body to not only celebrities but also people I knew at school. So I decided to go through my followers and unfollow anyone whose account wasn’t making me feel positive. Seeing positive posts, whether from your favourite celebrity or your best friend makes you feel happy instead of seeing things that make you feel down.

Learning to love yourself is one of the most difficult things to do, but its also the most important thing to do. It wont be easy or quick, it’s a process that takes years and years. Once you start to love yourself for who you are, you realise it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you. Judgement will never stop, we judge people all the time, you’d be lying if you said you had honestly never judged someone. However, the important thing is to not let it get to you, believe in yourself, work on becoming strong enough to realise that they don’t have the power to affect your happiness, only you do. Exam stress will always be a part of teenage years, its inevitable as we navigate our way through GCSEs and A Levels, but learning how you best deal with stress is so important.

Take time for yourself, talk to someone you trust and most importantly, surround yourself with those who make you the happiest!

By Elspeth Singleton

CALLING ALL YOUNG CREATIVES!

Creative industries sound like the place for you? Not sure where or how you want to be creative yet? Come on in, the kettle’s on.

Twas’ a lukewarm summer before the start of Year 10 and on a whim, I had chosen Media Studies as one of the GCSE options for that year. All I knew is that I got to make posters and play with cameras and that was enough to get me interested.

However, I had also chosen subjects such as Spanish and Latin which in my head had more stable career paths such as teaching or translating. I mean, I liked studying languages, but I was pretty nonchalant about perspective career options. I was bursting with excitement to learn something new like Media Studies.

And after the first couple of lessons, I knew this was something that I at least wanted to try and pursue. In my head, I could only work in the film industry or the tv industry, which is very diverse in its content and production, but it didn’t sound like me. I didn’t want to just stick to TV or Film, I wanted to work across platforms, have a hand in different parts of the process. I felt like I was struggling to find a place or a path for my future and I began to think that the possibility of working in the creative industries was fading bit by bit.

This was at the time of the year in which school start getting their students to look for work placements and take them to career fairs. Cue the 70 emails a day from your career’s advisor, the head of year and his uncle. However, it was among these 70 emails that I happened across an opportunity from the Ideas Foundation which truly helped me to realize my career path in the creative industries.

A one-week media camp to introduce you to and give you a taste of what it’s like to work in the creative industries. I was able to meet and learn from working professionals and other creative peers on the course, engage in a knowledge exchange and learn new skills.

We were set a legitimate brief from IBM and worked with creatives from agencies such as Ogilvy and Mathers to respond to the brief and learned how to professionally create and deliver a proposal.

Though it was a short amount of time, I was able to learn how to use new software, develop my communication and networking skills and expand my knowledge of the creative industries. And as I was taking part in the workshops and delivering the pitch, my goal of working in the creative industry became a tangible thing.

I could see myself at a creative agency with London as the back drop, in a company like Ogilvy (call me ASAP), whose offices we actually got to visit.

Although my career path has slightly changed, this media camp helped me to consider the creative industries as an option and is a part of the reason why I began to pursue a career in this field. The other reasons being the Avengers and The Matrix, but that’s for a later date.

By Viola Bascombe

Afrofuturism

Before I could read, the only stories I would hear were that from my mother who, luckily for me, was an avid fan of the Harry Potter and Hobbit Series.

When I got too old for bed time stories (although I don’t believe there is such an age), my brother, three years my senior, made up stories that both me and my sister would listen to on the edge of our seats each night. And when he traded books for footballs, I went in search of my next adventure.

For the next decade I spent most of my spare time in the ShadowWorld, Andarlan, on the Alexander-78V, in a future where everyone is chemically enhanced, in a Grey, Red and White London, exploring fantastical lands with a book as my oyster.

And in each adventure, every journey and turn of each page, I looked for myself or at least someone like me. A black character, or character of colour.

With my age, my awareness of the lack of black characters in Science Fiction Fantasy books, grew. I couldn’t help but notice that my, “honey blonde hair” didn’t cascade down my back or that my “fair skin” was actually deep and rich.

I felt excluded, rejected from these stories – it felt like every page was a silent command to stop reading because it wasn’t meant for me.

Gradually I stopped reading. I know and acknowledge that there are books from other genres such as Contemporary Fiction and Romance that are inclusive of POC characters, but I can’t get in to these books, for me they lack that luster, that intrigue- that special something that exists in the sci-fi fantasy genre.

This is when Black Panther came out, and as an avid fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film was something that I didn’t know I needed. And in my desperate search for something like it, I came across the term “Afrofuturism”.

Afrofuturism is a term that describes a genre of science fiction or fantasy as being “rooted in and unapologetically celebrate the uniqueness and innovation of black culture.”  (Jamie Broadnax, 2018, Huffington Post)  

I thought to myself, a whole genre just for me? Nonsense.

But, like Alice down the rabbit hole, I was on a roll. This simple term opened a whole new world for me in which I was able to re-ignite my passion for Sci-Fi Fantasy Books.

This genre is not limited to Film and Books, but spreads across multiple platforms such as fashion, art and music. I think it’s crazy and illogical that even in these fantasy worlds exclusion is written in.

Fantasy as the opposite of reality, Fiction as the opposite of fact these genres should include all of the equalities and varieties of people and worlds that don’t exist in real life. It’s in the name.

Recommendations:

What is Afrofuturism?-

Articles:

https://bookriot.com/2018/05/10/best-afrofuturism-books/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/opinion-broadnax-afrofuturism-black-panther_n_5a85f1b9e4b004fc31903b95

Books:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Fifth Season by N. K Jemisin

Films:

Black Panther

Janelle Monáe: Emotion Picture

SOURCES:

Broadnax: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/opinion-broadnax-afrofuturism-black-panther_n_5a85f1b9e4b004fc31903b95

By Viola Bascombe