So let’s start this with boring details about my life: Every morning, no matter where I am or who I’m with, I wake up and check my Kent emails. Call me a masochist but I like to know what I’m missing, which tends to be a lot.

As it stands right now, I’m on ‘holiday’, the suns come out and I’m living my life like a BTEC Hunter S Thompson, in that the ideas the same only without the drugs and sense of journalistic ‘purpose’. I’ve been on ‘holiday’ for two weeks, and I’ve been to Dublin, Glasgow, Bath, and found myself in Calais for a weird twenty-four hours. This isn’t glamourous in any way, my health and finances can attest to this. But despite the bender I’m hell-bent on sustaining come high water or “Hi, we have some concerns about the amount of transactions from your account,” I still check those emails every day.

Basically, I need to start working on exam revision otherwise I’m screwed, but lately I’ve been lacking the motivation, and everything course wise seems insurmountable. It’s felt that way for a while, and I’ve been really trying to figure it out: Could it be the general lack of motivation I exhibit on a regular basis? The feeling of inadequacy as I see friends of mine do amazing work while I slum it out in the little leagues of journalism writing copy on nights out for promoters? Maybe it’s that I tend to find myself at student union bars rather than in front of a textbook when it gets to the time I should be working? I don’t have an exact answer to those questions (It’s the third one), but I believe the measure of a person is seen in the quality of their missed messages. So let’s dive into what I missed:

Hey at least I passed one!

The first thing my emails say to me is that the NCTJ doesn’t like me very much, and that I owe them another hundred or so to try the exams again. I can’t think of another way to describe this situation as I’m definitely not a bad journalist, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been walked out of building for saying something to the wrong person and the work I put into a story. It’s also definitely not the fault of lecturers or the exam boards, that would be disingenuous and incredibly arrogant:

“I failed so it must be an issue with the system! I’m fine, I don’t need to improve, the NCTJ is a conspiracy!” Yeah yeah yeah we all hate paying out money to the NCTJ bud, no-one completely understands what it is we’re supposed to be doing, but we know that the skills are valid. Still no excuses there really, exams are exams and they’re weighted based on everyone else’s performance, which therefore means I’m just not doing the same standard as work as my friends: That’s not a helpful thought, but it’s a place to start.

Don't ever do a job that pays a month late.

Second thing I see is my emails from the student union, seeing as I work at the one building we have in Medway. There’s a certain irony in spending all the money you earn at the same place you work, but that’s an individual choice and no I won’t slow down you can’t make me. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that student unions are notoriously difficult in regards to paying their student’s properly: It’s like punching a wall until you get a door to open, unnecessary and should be a lot easier than it’s being made to be.

This is the sixth time I’ve been underpaid with knowledge from the union, and exploring my options here it’s clear I could complain to higher ups. But ultimately the issue here is that the union doesn’t make enough money to pay their part time staff on time, hence why payments are scheduled a month later or ‘in a rears.’ No I don’t know what that means either.

Really the problem I have is that there isn’t enough transparency with the payment system in place: It’d be cool to hear from my employers, “Hey there, so umm we shegged it this month. Is it okay to have this payment rescheduled for later?” The email attached wasn’t sent to me until halfway through the month anyway, so I didn’t even have the option to respond. That was my excuse at least.

Again I can’t even be too mad, because when I checked it back, they had sent it. I just didn’t receive the message. I missed my own late payment, it was buried beneath adverts for unions I don’t do. We’ll get there in a second though.

So money shortages, and exam failures. Sounds like a great morning! What else do we have?

God I wish I could play keyboard still.

Oh yeah, KTV. The union I wish I did. The union I signed up for the first week back with my friends, talked a big game over, and proceeded to never show up to because of some calling that I don’t even remember. What probably would’ve been the most useful thing instead of doing drama and drinking myself half crazy.

Looking through my email’s is like hanging out at the gallows. It’s one big trip down what all first years expect of themselves and what all second years know too well. It’s that feeling of “Jesus man, what did you do?” and a smack to the face of your ambition.

Part of the reason why I look at these emails every morning, aside from the obvious kick in the arse of “GET THE WORK DONE DUMMY,” is to remember not to over-stretch myself. To scale back sometimes and have a list of priorities, which have gotten way too weird over the last two years. It’s that “left foot, right foot” reminder that if I stick to a plan I’ll be back on top of everything real soon. I live by Roger Ebert’s advice for writing, which I’ve applied to my lifestyle and work ethic:

“‘Start writing. Short sentences. Describe it. Just describe it.”

Loosely, this to me means stop seeing the scope of the issues ahead. Instead, just break it apart, and start working on the things you can act upon in the immediate. So what I’d advocate to everyone is this:

Don’t check the emails, at least not first thing. You know what you need to do anyway. Just start working.

In the meantime, I think my ‘holiday’ is about to stop, at least for the next month, so I’m going to go have a cold shower and sober up now. And if I fail another exam I swear I’m quitting smoking too. Don’t hold me to that.

Why I'm not checking my emails anymore