student

Growing Up

I’ve been having a bit of a freakout. I’m nearing the end of my degree, my time at university is nearly over, and soon I will have to get a real job and be a real person and live my life without an academic structure (I know, woe is me).

I think a lot about ‘real life’ and ‘real jobs’ like I’m some sort of infantilised child, but the thing is, it just seems so unachievable. Aside from the student debt, the rising house prices that mean that really I’m just never going to buy a house, the lack of jobs available in the arts, aside from all that, certain people just seem to have their lives together and unfortunately, I don’t think I’m one of them.

And the thing is, it’s very easy to beat yourself up about that.

There’s been a shift, among everyone I know recently. They just seem much more… grown up. They’re dedicating time to working hard and looking after themselves and making dinners and sleeping properly. And I’m starting to do it too, a bit. Sleeping proper nights and waking up before 11 am and leaving the house before 9 on some mornings. Noticing when my mood drops, and assessing why, and doing the right things about it. I even went running. For a week. We can’t have everything.

And I think that’s the key thing – you can’t do everything. You can’t be this person who exercises and sleeps and eats healthily and has a buzzing social life and a healthy mental state and gets good grades. And that’s okay. If I learned anything from a combination of CBT and a very good Simon Stephens playwriting talk, it’s that success does not equal happiness. I thought it did, for a long time. I thought that if I did a million things then that was success, because I was running myself ragged and loudly telling everyone how tired I was. That I had to be the best, making the best things, and having other people tell me how good they were. But self-validation is so much better. Letting yourself fail, or get it wrong, or even, to just doing nothing is one of the kindest things you can do to yourself if you’re happy doing it.

It’s particularly easy to not feel good enough when you’re constantly living your life through a screen, constantly comparing your reality to the social media posts of everyone having a nice time, the Instagram stories of what you wish you were doing, those people who are 5 years ahead of you in both career and life-planning and got their play on at the Royal Court aged 21 (I am not bitter, I promise). But comparison is dangerous, because it’s easy to while your days away wishing you were someone else, without fully appreciating who you are, that your hair looks great, and that you are great fun to go to the pub with.

I think that’s being a grown up. Learning to stop constantly punishing yourself about not being grown up. And I’m getting there. I might even start running again.

 

Words by Sian Brett.

 

 

 

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Recipe: White Chocolate, Raspberry and Pistachio Traybake

This recipe sounds and tastes very impressive, but is actually just a plain cake mix with a few delicious ingredients stirred in. This means that the recipe can easily be tailored to your tastes. For example, you could change the nuts to walnuts, or omit them entirely; you could change the type of chocolate, or mix up the fruit. One of my favourite variations is to add a teaspoon of mixed spice, chopped pecans, apple and apricot. Just remember that if you’re adding extra wet ingredients you’ll need to compensate by adding more dry ingredients, and vice versa. Tray bakes are perfect for students because they don’t require special equipment, or any assembly, and I find that the cooking time is often minimal.

traybake-1

Ingredients

For the cake mix:

  • 130g butter or margarine
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 2 medium sized eggs, lightly beaten
  • 130g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50g Pistachios, smashed/chopped into pieces
  • 75g Raspberries (I use frozen as they are much cheaper!)
  • 125g White chocolate (chips or bars roughly chopped up)

For the topping:

  • 50g White Chocolate
  • 50g Pistachios

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Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (no fan). Grease a large baking tray, preferably one with deep sides. If washing up is not one of your talents and the tray is a little worse for wear, then I would consider lining it with baking paper.

  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until they form a soft mixture, light in colour. Next, add in about a tablespoon of the whisked egg mixture and beat in. Continue to do so until all the egg is incorporated. If the mixture starts to curdle (i.e. look a little lumpy) beat in a spoonful of flour. Then sift in the flour and salt, and fold into the mixture.  Add the milk and stir in.

  3. At this point, you can begin to add whatever flavourings or extra ingredients that you want. For this recipe, fold in the white chocolate chunks and crushed pistachios. Then pour the mixture in the prepped tin. After this, poke in the raspberries so they are evenly distributed across the cake and slightly covered by the mix.
  4. Put in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown on top, and a knife comes out clean when poked into the middle. If the top of the cake is browning too quickly you can either move the cake onto a lower shelf or cover the top with a sheet of foil.

  5.  Once removed from the oven, leave to cool. I like to top the cake with swirls of melted white chocolate and trim the edges with more crushed pistachios and then cut into slices.

 

Words and photos courtesy of Rowan Duval-Fryer