Thursday, 31 December 2015

A little piece of my year

Well. This year has certainly thrown a few curveballs, eh?


Every year that I've written a December 31st post I've been confident in what I want to write, but this one is different. I have no idea what I'm about to write. I'm going to let it all flow out and hope to God it makes sense at the end. But what I do know is that I want to dedicate this post to reflecting on what I've learned from all of my 2015 experiences, and how much they've changed how I see myself as a person.


This time last year I was settled into college life, enjoying the luxuries first year brought with it and fully believing I knew everything. A year later I think about that time and I'm embarrassed of my ignorance and arrogance.

Starting college changed me and I was utterly oblivious until I no longer could be. It took a summer in Dublin to bring all of my previous worries, regrets and insecurities to the surface. And they hit me like a ton of bricks.

Being alone in Dublin gave me little choice but to face my convictions head-on and get to the root of the problems. I worked from 9:30am-5:30pm every day but it was the evenings that were the true test of character. There are only so many phone calls you can make in a night; the rest of the time you've got your head and your heart for company.

If it wasn't for my head reminding me that I was living the dream in Dublin and doing what I love, my heart would've sent me packing long before the finishing line was even in sight. I can still remember the day I moved to Dublin with my mom. I went straight to work that day while she moved my stuff into the house. It wasn't until after my first day at work that I saw where I would be living for the first time. That's when it really hit me just how alone I was going to be. So she stayed an extra night with me and brought me to Milanos. Always a good choice.

I like to think of summer as the white blank page I needed in order to reevaluate and rediscover me. It's just a shame the blank canvas had to come from a new notebook instead of turning to an uncreased page of the old one.


It took a lot of hard work, experimenting, sleepless nights and YouTube videos but after twelve testing weeks in the capital, I finally realised that what I needed was a software update. I know that's not the ideal metaphor to describe my situation, but it makes sense. When I think about it, I was very much like my old iPhone 4. I was slow to do things that involved effort, I always had to choose what I wanted to keep or delete from my emotional storage and I looked like shit all the time.

Since starting my blank page, I've made quite a few changes to my lifestyle. For starters, my wardrobe has changed dramatically. Dublin allowed me to try new things and I discovered a style that suited me. I never believed people when I heard them say that how you dress reflects your self-confidence, but now I couldn't agree more.

As well as that, I started to give a shit about make-up and looking half-decent on a day-to-day basis. Don't get me wrong, I'll still happily rock up to college in a tracksuit with no make-up on if I feel like it. But that's the change, I guess; I never feel like it anymore.

I don't get angry that much either now. Yes, I get pissed off and I'm the Queen of mood swings but on the whole, I rarely lose my cool anymore. I might retreat to my room for a few hours and curse vigorously under my bedsheets, but I'm yet to have a direct shouting match with someone. Well, at least none that I can remember.

Anger might not seem like a big problem that I had in comparison to others but it still got the better of me on a number of occasions this year. In the past if I was angry with someone I'd just cut communication with them completely or, in the case of a couple of heated arguments, I saw red and ripped them apart at the top of my lungs.

Now, though, I still might need some alone time to calm down and gather my thoughts, but I'll always do my best to talk it out. Whether the other person engages and makes the effort to smooth things over depends on how much they give a shit, I guess.

However, one of the biggest things I've learned in the past few months is how to control my OCD. I'm not going to go into detail about it because I've already written about that here. What I will tell you though is that every step I take away from the control is freeing me in a way I never thought possible. For that, I am most proud of myself.


Of course, I've learned more than just how to shape my eyebrows and stop counting my steps. Here are a few other things this year has taught me:

1. Passion can't be forced in any aspect of life; be it love, sport, creativity or otherwise.
2. I know what tattoo I'm getting in the new year.
3. Thursday nights out aren't everything.
4. If you don't nurture a relationship it will wilt, and you'll be left to pull the weeds on your own.
5. The kitchen sink doesn't always need to be empty.
6. Spontaneity sometimes makes for the best memories.
7. I'm still obsessed with Paris.
8. Life without Spotify Premium is meaningless.
9. Strong coffee makes me a morning person.
10. I don't like boys as much as I thought I did.
11. 100% exams fuck shit up.
12. The library isn't as scary as I thought it was.
13. Small gestures go a long way.
14. If you're not happy with something, make a change. Even if that change leads into the unknown.
15. Doing well in an assignment is the most rewarding feeling.
16. I'm lucky to be able to come home at the weekends - not all of my time needs to be spent away from home.
17. McDonalds at 3am is the first and most crucial step towards curing a hangover.
18. McDonalds is crucial in all aspects of life.
19. I'm a Belieber.
20. Having a sink in my bedroom last year was a privilege I took for granted.
21. Losing my fitness is one of my biggest regrets.
22. Using an umbrella isn't embarrassing, it's actually very practical.
23. I need to start blogging properly again. 
24. My taste in music is so random.
25. Autumn really is a beautiful season.
26. Anyone who can make me laugh plays a massively important role in my life without even knowing.
27. I'm an Instagram whore and I'm totally okay with it.
28. Great friendships can have the weirdest beginnings but write the best stories.
29. Being me is absolutely enough.


This year has tested me in more ways than one which makes the happiness I feel at the end of it so much sweeter. After difficult times, many people hope for the New Year to bring fresh starts and new beginnings. But what made 2015 so special for me is that I made my own fresh start mid-year with no countdowns or resolutions to motivate me. June 1st became my January 1st and thank God I was able to embrace it the way I did.

So, what does 2016 hold for me? A trip to Copenhagen, a few concerts here and there, planning for my adventures of 3rd year...but besides that I really don't know. Will I get the work placement I'm hoping for? How will that affect the second half of my year? When should I start thinking about Erasmus? What if my QCA isn't good enough? Is next semester going to be even tougher than this one was? Who the fuck knows.

And for once, I actually like not knowing.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Living with OCD

When I was younger, say the age of eleven or twelve, I remember running to my mom in sheer panic because I was overcome with stress and worry. She asked what was wrong and my response was “I can’t stop counting in my head”. She didn’t fully understand what I meant when I said that I used to count every step that I took and that my right foot always had to be on an even number, so she assured me that it would go away eventually. Yet here I am eight years later and I still count my steps every now and again.

I’m sure no-one thinks of counting their steps when they’re wondering whether they suffer from OCD, but for me it was only one of many factors that impeded my everyday life. Others included chewing food equally on both sides of my mouth, not stepping on cracks on the footpaths, always putting my left shoe on before my right shoe, etc. The list could go on.

As I progressed through secondary school my OCD got increasingly worse. If I was carrying books, the largest had to be at the back, followed by the smaller copies, then my school diary and then my pencil case on top. But all of the books and the pencil case had to be facing the right way up and with the pages/zip to the right. Okay, I’m not great at describing what I’m visualising but you get the point. Also, I frequently checked my pocket (which had a fucking zip, btw) to make sure my swipe card, phone and lip balm were still secure. But the swipe card had to be behind the phone and the lip balm. Obviously.

At lunch, I always had to go to my locker first before I could even think about sitting down and tucking into my sandwich. Only when all of my books for the next three classes were in order could I even consider relaxing and even then my relaxation was timed because I had to be at the swipe machines at 1:20pm every day, on the dot. And once that first bell rang at 1:35pm, I was en route to class five minutes early.

There are other obvious things that trigger my OCD that are more common, such as dirty mugs being left in the sink or needing to check to make sure I have everything in my bag before I leave the house (even if it’s my third time checking), or making sure the volume on the TV is on a multiple of five. On top of those habits are the more pressing impulses like needing to empty my clutch bag immediately when I get home after a night out rather than leaving it until the morning, or only being able to start studying on the hour/half hour.

Last year I feel my OCD really got the better of me. It was my first year in college and rather than letting loose and experiencing everything that came with the freedom of living with friends away from home, I let my OCD consume me. I couldn’t walk into the kitchen without getting worked up by one dirty plate on the counter. I got frustrated when the hot water didn’t work and I needed to have my shower at that particular time. I even had anxiety not knowing what time people would be home from college during the day because I felt like their routines somehow interfered with mine.

I probably sound like a psycho but that was my way of thinking. I couldn’t control it. Now though, for whatever reason, I feel far more in control of my tendencies. I’m far more relaxed and able to enjoy myself without stressing over ridiculous things. Now I can walk into my kitchen and the sink full of dirty utensils doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Well, okay it still does bother me a little bit but now I can walk away and forget about it. Last year I would’ve had a full-blown meltdown.

Although I still ask what time everyone will be home from college, it doesn’t impact my day as much whether I know or not. The reason I constantly needed to know where everyone was and what they were doing for the evening was because of my obsession with making plans. I couldn’t get through a single day without first planning it to death. Thankfully I no longer have that urge to plan the shit out of life. I’m far more comfortable letting things happen in the moment and not freaking out because it wasn’t scheduled into my mental diary. I guess you could say I’m more spontaneous now than ever. And it’s doing me the world of good.

I can’t say I’ll ever be free from OCD, but I can definitely guarantee that it won’t ever have the same hold on me that it did for the past eight years. It’s something that I’ve grown accustomed to and that I’ve learned to manage. Because why the hell not get a later bus home on a Friday and go into the city for ice cream right now? And why the hell not get a tattoo in a few weeks if it makes me happy? And why the fuck shouldn’t I stand outside in the rain if it makes me feel alive, even if I’m risking getting a cold and needing to have another shower tonight even though my diary has only scheduled another shower for tomorrow evening?... YEAH.

*If you want a longer, more light-hearted list of instances where my impulses have gotten the better of me, head over to College Times and check out my article "21 Signs You Suffer From OCD".

Saturday, 25 April 2015

When it's all said and done

As my last few weeks of first year draw near, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past nine months. It's been one hell of a year and to not write about it would be a wasted opportunity.

This blog certainly hasn't been one of my priorities since starting college and I can't say I regret putting it on the back burner. The past few months have been the most intense writing periods of my life. Usually when I write too much too often I start to suffer from writer's block, but not this semester. In fact, it has been the complete opposite.

Since February (which feels like a lifetime ago but was actually only two months) I have been contributing articles and pieces to various online websites and publications. These include,, College Times and most recently, On top of that, I had to set up a whole new blog on Wordpress as part of a module assignment. Had it not been for that assignment, each post on Life of an LGBT would have been published right here.

Not only have I been contributing regularly to each of the above sites, I've also had a shitload (let me emphasize, a SHITLOAD) of assignments to do for college. The majority of my course is continuous assessment so I've always had some sort of work to do outside of college hours. The past few weeks in particular have certainly heightened my stress levels, with four major assignments for the same module all due in the same week. Poor planning if I may say so myself.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed every single task we were given. Obviously they were daunting at first because they all involved interviews which either had to be done on the phone or face-to-face. Finding sources and people actually willing to help in these assignments was probably the most stressful part; writing the article itself was pretty straightforward.

Despite all of the aforementioned work, I still managed to squeeze in a few, ahem, hours, AHEM, of down time. Most of which I spent in the company of fabulous people. *London Tipton style, clap clap clap clap* Yay me.

Reflecting on this year, I realise I've learnt a lot about myself. Things I would never had known had I not met the people I did.

First of all, I realised I'm an extremely impatient person. Not just in the "Come on, we're going to be late" kind of sense (even though that side of me really was amplified. Thanks, Áine.), but also in the "If you're going to be an asshole, goodbye" sense. I stopped waiting around, hoping people would change and instead I got on with my own life; even if that meant leaving some people out of it.

I also realised how important friendships are to me. The new friendships I made reminded me of how significant some of the old ones were, too. It took me this long to acknowledge the fact that I had been wearing blinkers in some aspects of my life and that maybe, just maybe that wasn't always the right approach.

Something I wasn't expecting to learn about myself this year was how much I miss playing sport, particularly soccer. I regret not joining the UL soccer team in the first semester but I guess I wanted to invest more of my time into developing and solidifying friendships, which is a good justification in my books. However, I have no excuse for not joining in the second semester.

Even though I've said it before on a few occasions, I mean it when I say I'm going back to soccer in September. It has been a passion of mine all my life and I can't let one big-ass motherfucking injury scar me forever. I have to accept that I'm not going to be the player I was three years ago but that doesn't mean I can't be a player at all.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly I realised this year that I am definitely pursuing the right career path. I doubted myself for a while before Christmas when I wasn't enjoying certain aspects of my modules, but the past few months have reassured me of my decision. I don't want to be a journalist but then again, that's not why I'm studying journalism. I'm studying journalism because I want to be a writer and there is no other course that can equip me better than this one can.

Hopefully I'll be able to update this blog more frequently once the semester ends but if I can't, rest assured I'm writing for bigger and better people than myself.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

This is me

Many people think of me as a dark, mysterious being that gives the impression she hates life but let me tell you: the title of this post came about because I was jamming to the epic Camp Rock tune in my room earlier on.Yes, I like Camp Rock songs. Yes, you have my permission to judge.

Many people also believe I like to keep to myself and open up to few. Were it not for the numerous blog posts I have published dealing with very personal issues of my past I would say those people are accurate in their beliefs. I promise though, there are valid explanations behind my attitude/behaviour and those of you that have I have opened up to will understand that.

For those of you that haven’t had the privilege of venturing beyond my walls, now is your chance to delve just a little deeper into the present mind of Olivia Dawson. You must be humbled.

Between the age of 13 and 16 I had very low self-esteem, very little self-belief and little or no confidence in myself (apart from when I was on the pitch). I struggled with the social aspect of school because of this. In an attempt to "fit in," I found myself morphing into a person I believed would be admired by others, even if that person was just a character I had created to fit the show that was my early teenage life.

Though it may sound hard to believe, popularity was never something I craved, mainly because the ‘popular’ people in my town were dicks and I most certainly didn’t want to be known as a dick. Ironically I became known as far worse, but that’s a story I’ve probably already written about. Basically, I wanted people to think of me as the cool, laidback girl that was really good at sports and liked Paramore. And that’s exactly who I was until 3rd year.

To think that I went from that broken, shell of a girl to the person I am now is pretty incredible, not to blow my own trumpet or anything. By the time I reached the end of Transition Year I was in the I-don’t-give-a-flying-fuck-what-you-think mind frame and there was no going back from there. What really helped my self-esteem issues was parting ways with the year group I had been with from 1st to 3rd year. Starting 5th year with a group of girls that knew (more or less) nothing about me was so refreshing and uplifting. Also, I was free from most of the teachers that had seen me at my worst so I felt like I was turning over a new leaf in all aspects of my school life.

One thing that changed my whole perception of myself was starting this blog at the beginning of 5th year. I had always kept my thoughts and my writings to myself but the blog allowed me to truly express how I felt with my own words; not the gossiping words of other people. Not only did putting my thoughts online for anyone to view help me to grow in confidence, so too did the amount of encouraging feedback I received from my peers at school. All of whom were part of my new year group, might I add.

I slowly began to walk through the corridors with my head held high again, taking little heed of the people that disliked me and focusing more on the smiles I got from the ones that now respected me. In my spare time I helped to train an u.14 girls team with my local soccer club and many of those girls were also students in my school. After a few weeks of training them and getting to know them, I started to notice younger girls in the school staring at me in the halls and whispering as I walked past. At first the self-conscious me began fretting that they knew something about me or they that thought I was a freak (which I kind of was, to be fair).

It was only when I overheard some girls talking in the bathrooms one day that I realised I was wrong. They must’ve only been in first year but I heard one of them say to her friend, “Is that the girl that plays with Ireland?” The other one answered, in a flatteringly excited tone, “Yeah. She trains me up at Celtic!” All I could do was smile.

From then on I started to walk with a tinge of arrogance in my step, knowing that some of the younger students looked up to me, sort of. I had never felt like that in my previous five years of school so I was rather enjoying it. I mean, who wouldn’t? This was the new generation of teenyboppers in the school and they knew who I was. I had a presence that they noticed. I felt like Queen B herself.

However, I never let that show. If you passed me in the corridor you would think I was having the worst day of my life. I was always frowning with a serious expression on my face. Even my friends said they were once scared of me! For those of you that remember that look on my face let me tell you, it was all an act. I made myself look scary and intimidating on purpose. I did that so people would know better than to cross me again; that I was no longer in a position where I had no choice but to put up with people’s shit.

And it worked. Numerous girls that I became friendly with in the year group told me that at first they had been afraid to sit next to me or to even talk to me. Now most people would hate for others to think of them in such a way, but not me. I loved it. One of the girls told me that her friends said I “look angry all the time” and that she can’t convince them that I’m actually quite a nice person. I’m not going to lie - hearing that made me grin like a Cheshire cat. How sadistic of me.

I went back to work after I finished my Leaving Cert last summer and one day found myself talking to a girl about our Pres days. She suddenly remembered something her younger sister, who was in either 2nd or 3rd year in the Pres had said to her a few weeks prior. She told me that her sister asked her one day, “Do you work with Olivia Dawson?” When she replied yes her sister exclaimed, “Oh my God, she’s so cool! All of my friends are afraid of her in school. She’s such a bad-ass.” I couldn’t help but wonder how they would know of my bad-assness. They weren’t even in the school when I was in my prime pretending to faint on April Fools’ Day or when I drank vodka at lunchtime in 3rd year. See? Bad-ass.

What led me to writing this post was another story my sister told me this evening. She said that during the week at school a girl in her class came up to her and asked her was she friends with me outside of school. Elena replied, “Umm, she’s my sister?” to which the girl proclaimed, “No way! I’ve always thought she was so cool. She’s the girl I always saw with the guitar and thought was really cool. I saw her walking through town with your mom one day and I wanted to say hi but I thought she wouldn’t know who I was, so I didn’t.” Once again, the tinge of arrogance returned to my step.

It’s easy to think you’re worthless and invisible in a world where the amount of ‘likes’ you get on a Facebook status define your social status, but it’s also just as easy to look at the small things that can make you feel great in a big way. That’s my secret. That’s exactly what I did. Yes, I may have grown up and matured a little after a transition year filled with doing nothing, but ultimately my confidence came from the positive energy I felt from others. Positive energy from total strangers made me feel like I could achieve anything and it still does. Every few months I’ll get an anonymous comment on my blog saying how much someone likes my style of writing or how great the blog is, and it’s these comments more than anything that keep my self-esteem on track.

I don’t need a hundred ‘likes’ or a thousand page views to make me confident in myself. I don’t rely on social media popularity to verify that people like or respect me. It’s easy to click a button on a computer screen to show your support but sometimes that can be misleading. So if you think I share these posts on social media platforms to get my “fix” you’re sadly mistaken. My highs come from spoken words, direct messages, blog comments and most of all, people who tell me I have inspired or enlightened them in some way. Even if it’s in the tiniest of ways.

That’s just me. This is how I’ve developed as a person. This is how I maintain my levels of self-esteem and this is how I have become the confident person I am today. I don’t keep to myself because I lack the confidence to do otherwise; I keep to myself because I am confident enough in my choices to know that I don’t need the whole world to think I’m an amazing person. So if I have ever offended you in any way by not making polite conversation or small talk, don’t take it personally. This is me.

Monday, 26 January 2015

"You play for Ireland?"

I can’t remember a day of my entire childhood where I wasn’t kicking a football around, wearing a jersey or planning my future career as a professional soccer player. As a child, the dream was to wear the green jersey. Not a shop-bought one, though – the real deal. The fact that I’m a girl was never an issue, nor did it ever hinder me in my ambitions on the pitch. So you can imagine my delight when I received "the call" for the first time.

I began playing soccer as soon as I could walk, and that is no exaggeration. My poor sister’s first word was “ball,” for God’s sake. My learning of the beautiful game first came from my two older cousins, male of course, who showed me no mercy despite the two and three year age gap between us. I then moved houses and a new neighbour (also two years my senior) became my mentor. He taught me every trick in the book and after five years of playing matches every single evening until dark, I earned my place on my first Gaynor Cup squad with South Munster.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Gaynor Cup, it’s the female version of the Kennedy Cup. And for those of you unfamiliar with both, it’s an annual soccer tournament with teams from every province competing in it, where trials are held in order to make the team. So this was some serious stuff for a thirteen year old, let me tell you.

The Gaynor Cup took place in the University of Limerick at the end of June every year. It was a weekend tournament, so I had experience of staying in Kilmurry Village long before I ever moved here for college. For the first two tournaments that I was at, I was very much a timid player that would be considered a substitute rather than one of the starting eleven. I had no confidence in myself as a player outside of my comfort zone (the Kerry league) and I was intimidated by the big names on my team, such as Clare Shine, Amy O’ Connor, and the likes.

However, things changed dramatically in 2011. It was my third Gaynor Cup and for some reason beyond my recollection, the big names were never at training leading up to the tournament. That in itself gave me far more confidence in the build-up to the tournament because I was no longer intimidated at training sessions. June came, as did the opening match of the tournament. I believe it was the Midlands (or something to that effect) we were playing. All I need to tell you is I scored a hat-trick in the first half of that match and we went on to win the Gaynor Cup that year.

Within a matter of weeks I received a phone call from a member of the FAI with news that I had been selected to attend trials in Dublin for the Ireland U.17 women’s squad. Bear in mind I was fifteen years old at the time. I can still remember the moment I got the news. It was a dark, rainy evening but as soon as I heard, I darted out the conservatory door and ran two laps of the field in front of my house before texting every number in my contacts. I wasn’t excited or anything.

From there I secured a place on the U.17 squad heading to England at the end of August for a week’s training camp and two friendlies against England. It was hands down one of the coolest experiences of my life running onto that pitch wearing the number 17 jersey. I played left-midfield for Ireland, which was a position I was not accustomed to. Growing up I was always either centre mid or up front for Killarney Celtic, so it took a while to get used to my new position. Let me warn you, playing on the wings involves A LOT more running than you think. Than I thought, should I say.

Heading to Dublin for training camps became fairly routine from then on. Harry Kenny, the manager of the U.17s at the time, kept me on that squad because he “saw the potential in me” to be the starting left-midfielder when I was the right age. Roll on a year and I am the starting left-midfield for the U.16 team, playing against Arsenal Ladies, and then the U.17 team playing against Northern Ireland. I was at my ultimate level. Amy O’ Connor in right-mid, me in left-mid – there was no topping us. There was no-one my age in my position in the country that was faster than me, more skilful than me, fitter than me, a better goal-scorer than me; I was feared by every newcomer at every trial. I truly felt untouchable but remained modest at the same time. I prided myself on the fact that I never became an arrogant, cocky bitch, unlike some of the other girls I played alongside.

After the Gaynor Cup of 2012 it was announced that Harry Kenny would no longer be U.17 Head Coach. With cuts being made to the FAI’s budget, of course it had to be taken out on the women’s teams. From then on, the U.17s would be managed by the U.19s coach, Dave Connell. Now at this stage I had built up a pretty nice relationship with Harry. I liked Harry. Harry liked me. He had kept me under his wing and groomed me until I was ready to be unleashed. Unfortunately, I hadn’t a clue who Dave Connell was, nor did he have a clue who I was. This did not work in my favour at all, as you will realise shortly.

Nevertheless we regrouped in Dublin for another three-day training camp, expecting the same routine as always. Gear up, do a lengthy warm-up, a few drills and then full-length matches for the rest of the day. Oh, what a shock we got. Not only were we appointed a new Head Coach, we were also given the news that we would now be training alongside the U.19s. Let me inform you, the U.19s were a different breed. They were bigger, faster, stronger and a hell of a lot more aggressive than the U.17s.

We struggled on and it eventually became normal to train with the U.19s. It was mid-August and we were preparing for a UEFA qualifiers tournament in Macedonia (I think) in October, so there was a great buzz around the AUL Complex.

And then, one sunny Sunday afternoon, my international career came to an abrupt end. We had been doing some drills with the U.19s and in a bid to show I was unafraid and to impress my new manager, I lunged into a slide-tackle with one of the older girls. Needless to say play carried on but for me that was where it all fell apart. I lay on the ground in staggering pain while the physio and doctor rushed onto the pitch to me. They bandaged my ankle and laughed as they assured me I would be back up to training in two weeks, good as new. How wrong could they have been?

That day I tore both ligaments and tendons in my right ankle, meaning I was going to be out of action for a minimum of three months, depending on recovery speed, etc. I was devastated. To be so close to such an important tournament and having to watch as I was replaced on the squad list was torture. I had spent two and a half years travelling up and down to Cork every week for training and matches, going to the gym every other day, spending my parents’ money on trips to Dublin for training camps only to fall short at the final hurdle. It turns my stomach just thinking about it.

My recovery time was far longer than I had anticipated. In total, I was unable to play a full match for 12 months. Even when I was playing for the last twenty minutes of matches I was a shadow of the player I used to be. My ankle was not strong enough to shoot with the power it had in the past, and it also meant my speed and reflexes were greatly inhibited. Basically my overall performance was no longer good enough to play on the Irish team.

The last time I attended a trial in Dublin was this time two years ago. It had been over a year since the injury and I was invited up in the hope I had fully recovered. I had been handed a chance to reclaim my number 11 jersey but my ankle just wasn’t right. I lasted the trials, just about, but I didn’t receive another email after that. I knew what it meant. Managers like Dave Connell don’t wait around for players, they simply replace you. So I was replaced.

That’s the story of my time as an international soccer player. I’ll never forget that feeling when people asked “You play for Ireland?” Even today when I tell others of my glory days I feel pride when they proclaim “You used to play for Ireland?”

Yes, I used to play for Ireland. Yes, I miss playing for Ireland. No, I will never play for Ireland again.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Is same-sex marriage the inevitable next step in 21st century Ireland?

Two years ago my secondary school English teacher suggested I enter a writing competition with the headline above as the essay title. For some reason, though I had plenty to say on the topic, I decided against writing the essay. I guess in some subconscious way I was waiting for the right time to voice my opinion. With the same-sex marriage referendum just around the corner, I believe that time is now.

In just over three months’ time, this small nation will cast a vote which will have massive consequences regardless of the outcome. Should the majority of people vote yes, the constitution will be amended and same-sex marriage will be made legal in Ireland. Should the majority of people vote no, no changes will be made and same-sex marriage will remain illegal. Right now, the main question being asked is how do we know whether to vote yes or no?

First and foremost, a yes vote would be historical. We would literally be making history. Just over twenty years ago homosexuality was illegal in Ireland, punishable by imprisonment. Fast forward a few years and here we are, the power to change the lives of thousands of Irish citizens in our hands.

From my understanding of marriage it is the eternal binding together of two people, made possible only by love. Who are we to decide which couples can love and which cannot? That would be utterly pretentious of us, would it not? Unfortunately, an extremely powerful and persuasive body in Ireland does its best to convince us that we can in fact make that decision on behalf of others.

The Catholic Church in Ireland teaches that marriage is a commitment made by a man and a woman to love and cherish one another “til death do us part.” However, when you consider the large number of divorces filed each year in this country, it hardly seems fair to say that the Church make clear, unbiased judgements when it comes to the union of marriage.

Since the 12th century when marriage became a practised custom in Ireland, the Catholic Church has ruled that only two people of the opposite sex can wed. These teachings cannot be blamed on the Church of today. Today’s bishops of Ireland are simply going by teachings that have been handed down century after century, from a time when homosexuality was unheard of.

The reason, I believe, the Church has always taught that marriage is between a man and a woman is because homosexuals of the 12th century did not even realise they were homosexual. In fact, the term “homosexual” wasn’t coined until the mid-19th century. Back then, it was all to do with “unnatural practises.” Readings in the Bible comment on how sexual relations between two women or two men are “unnatural” and should be punished. However, is it natural for a man to watch porn every day, despite the fact that he lies next to his wife every night? No it’s not, but we accept it because it is part of 21st century culture.

In that very same way, we should accept that homosexuality exists and it is an undeniable part of today’s culture. By that I don’t mean homosexuality is a construct of our culture; more so that it is no longer a vice than ought to be supressed or hidden. I’m sure many of us don’t approve of our neighbour’s binge-drinking habits or of our grandmother’s three-legged cat that hisses every time we pass it. But just because we don’t approve doesn’t give us the right to take away the bottle or run over the cat. In that very same way, just because we don’t approve of same-sex couples doesn’t give us the right to take away their right to marriage.

 I could have used this time to inform you of all the legalities and intricacies same-sex couples face concerning custody of children, ownership of property, etc. But I felt at this stage you would have heard enough of that on Vincent Brown, and the likes. Instead I wanted to take you back to when it all began. Are we going to let an outdated scripture dictate the lives of thousands of Irish citizens? Love is the foundation of every marriage, not sexuality. Who knows how long we will have to wait for another opportunity like this if the referendum is not passed. Are we willing to put peoples’ lives on hold any longer than they already have been?

So when I’m asked if I believe the legalisation of same-sex marriage is the inevitable next step in 21st century Ireland, my answer always has been and always will be yes. Would I encourage you to vote yes in the upcoming referendum? Of course I would. As the Bible teaches - true love waits. And it cannot be denied that the thousands of homosexual couples of Ireland have waited long enough for their love to be recognised. Let’s bring that wait to an end this May.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Where I find my inspiration

The past few hours I’ve been wandering around my house in my pyjamas, longing to write but not knowing what to write about. It seems I’ve exhausted almost every aspect of myself on this blog already. As the frustration built and built within me, I realised there is one topic I am yet to write about. Ironic as it is, that topic is where I find my inspiration when writing.

It’s difficult to say exactly what leads me to a blank Microsoft Word document with a mug of tea in hand, but I’ve come up with a few ideas.

First and foremost, the bulk of my inspiration comes from real-life events. Things that have happened to me in the past, issues I am currently working through, or even issues I have watched others go through. I write about my experiences, my emotions, and my opinions. It may sound self-centred and somewhat egotistic, but that’s my style. I don’t just write for the benefit of others’ reading habits and entertainment, I write as a form of expression and release. To be honest, I’d say the person that benefits most from my blog posts is myself!

Another area I draw inspiration from is music. I listen to a wide array of artists and bands, ranging from the likes of You Me At Six and Paramore to Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Not a day goes by without my iPod being played, whether it be Kelly Clarkson in the shower, or Alesso whilst getting ready to hit the town. Music helps me open my mind to stories and experiences I love to remember or long to forget. Either way, it triggers something inside of me and I feel the creativity pouring out.

Oftentimes, people are the greatest source of inspiration. I am inspired by different people every single day, and they don’t realise it most of the time. Observing is a skill and just happens to be something I am very good at. I like to watch people going about their normal routines, or listen to their opinions on anything and everything. You can never tell when someone is going to say one word or one sentence that will spark inspiration inside of you.

One thing that really drives me to succeed in writing is seeing others doing well in their areas of interest. For example, seeing others in my course getting work published or sharing links to their own blogs makes me want a reason to share a link to mine. I don’t mean it in a competitive way obviously, it just works as a source of motivation. For me, that’s a great thing. I can only see it as a positive that we motivate each other to write more often.

Having said that, getting work published is not my main concern. In fact, I have never once tried to get any work published. I write because I enjoy it, and I love making something beautiful from words. Many of you may be wondering how a basic blog post can be beautiful, but I guess that’s something I can’t really explain to you. It’s like when an artist paints a picture or a poet writes a poem. A finished blog post is, to me, lyrical and expressive. Some people express themselves through music; I express myself through writing.

I’m sure there’s one source of inspiration you are waiting for me to state, but guess what? I don’t read. Shock, horror I know. A journalist in the making that doesn’t read. Is that even possible? Of course it is. Back to inspiration, though. I can imagine how much more I would have to write about and how much more open my mind would be if I read any sort of writings, but I don’t. I’ve never been interested in reading and I’m not sure I ever will be. I like to read other blogs and some feature articles in magazines, but that’s literally it. The last book I read was “The Fault In Our Stars,” and that was about two years ago. I can’t even read a newspaper without getting bored. Not your average journalism student but hey, c’est la vie.

What inspires and motivates me most to keep this blog going is my love of writing. From serious to light-hearted, poetry to personal essays, I am in love with the English language. It is the reason I’m in the course I’m in. I’ve never been interested in reporting facts and writing without an opinion – that bores me to death. I write what I write not because I feel it’s relevant and current in society, but because it’s relevant and current to me. And that’s the way I will write for the entirety of my career. If you read otherwise, I’m most likely a POW in a Nazi newspaper and you should really come help me out.

Monday, 12 January 2015

13 things I won't do next semester

1.  Pay more than €3 for a taxi home 

Taxi drivers can be really decent human beings, from time to time. Other times, they’re utter assholes. They prey on the intoxicated, already devilishly poor students that they find stumbling down Ellen Street, in search of any means of getting home. The reason taxi drivers target these students is because they view them as an easy profit. Any young person, if adequately inebriated, will fork out anything between €5- €10 each in order to get themselves home. Boom, a nice jackpot there for the lucky taxi driver. 

This semester however, I will point blank refuse any taxi driver that is not willing to take me home for €3, provided there are four of us in the taxi. He should be thrilled by the prospects of €12 for a short, less-than-ten minute drive out to the university. If not, I’ll simply walk two metres down the road to the next taxi. By the time you’ve shut the door on nine taxis, the tenth taxi driver definitely won’t say no.

2.  Go out wearing heels 

Not that I ever did that during the first semester. I’m just restating the fact that I refuse to wear heels in Limerick. Towards the end of the first semester I honestly tried my best to wear a pair out one night. I got as far as the house twenty metres from mine and couldn’t endure the pain any longer.

I don’t know how I used to do it in Killarney. Every night without fail I would wear heels on a night out. Now I can barely look at the damn things without a blister forming on my heel. I guess when it boils down to it, going out in Killarney is all very pretentious compared to Limerick. It’s all about who you’ll see out, what they’ll see you wearing, who they’ll see you with, etc. In Limerick, it’s all about that bass, ‘bout that bass, no trouble… Okay no it’s not, but it really is all about the dancing and the drinking. How it ought to be, in my opinion.

3.  Buy chicken from Lidl 

Since coming to college and realising that Lidl is a far shorter walk than Aldi, Lidl has become my bae. Chocolate, ice cream, drink, cookies; you name it, Lidl has it. And for way less than the likes of Tesco or Super Valu, my once preferred choice of supermarkets.

With the development of this newfound love for the German super-company, I made the decision to trust it with my main source of nutrition in the whole college week – chicken breasts. Chicken curry, chicken stir-fry… I expected my list of chicken-based meals to be longer, but that’s it. But yeah, I like my chicken. So you can only imagine my disgust when I realised the chicken I had bought (with five days left before the use-by date, btw) was entirely gone off. Now imagine my horror at the thought that I am chickenless for the entire week. That’s a good three dinners out of five gone out the window. Chicken balls.

4.  Miss more than 10 hours of college a week 

Probably something I shouldn’t have to put on this list. Nevertheless, we all know there are times in the week when you have zero motivation to make that ten-minute trek to a lecture you know will be online the next day. Especially when it’s raining. And getting dark. And the housemate asks who wants tea. And you really would love a cup of tea.

Maybe then it’s okay to miss an hour here and there, but certainly no more than that. Last semester was pretty reckless and although there were only a few weeks where I missed a significant amount of hours, I’m going to redeem myself this semester.

Last semester, I devised the idea of a drink jar. For every hour of college that is missed, a euro must be placed in the drink jar. At the end of the semester, the money is spent on, well, drink. Unfortunately, I contributed a large sum of money to the drink jar. That won’t be happening this time around, though. My housemates laughed when I told them I plan on going to every college hour of semester two. Well, I’m determined to prove them wrong. For my pocket’s sake, at least.

5.  Say hi to the village manager 

Quite simply, he’s a bit of a bollocks. Many an evening I have walked past him, made eye contact in an attempt to say hello, and he has glided past me as if I wasn’t even there. I don’t know if he suffers from massive blind spots in both of his eyes, or if he’s just a miserable fucker. Either way, I won’t be caught almost wasting my breath on him again.

6.  Go to the library 

You would think, what with all the time I missed of college last semester that this would be on my list of things I WILL do this semester. But no, it is not. I don’t know about you, but I hate the library. It’s always full no matter what time of the day you go there, and there’s always a bloody queue greeting you when you get through security. Because yes, that’s what it feels like to me when I walk through the library doors. I feel like I should be whipping out my passport as a second form of ID in case my student card fails me.

On top of that, I haven’t a fucking clue where anything is in there. For those of you that need to find a book but haven’t been into the library yet, don’t bother. Seriously, don’t. It’s too big. You’ll spend longer trying to find your way back out of the library than it would take to order the book online and have it delivered by standard mail from China.

7.  Order pizza twice a week 

Or even once a week for that matter. The amount of fivers I have handed over to the men in little cars is ridiculous. Not only that, it’s so unhealthy. There’s a reason those pizza deals are five euro, and it’s not because they’re made with only the finest ingredients.

I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s so convenient and it’s relatively cheap and it means no cooking for the night, woooooo.” Oh believe me, I love seeing that anonymous number appearing on my screen as much as the next person but cutbacks must be made this semester.

I know what you’re thinking. “Boo, you whore.”

8.  Leave my bedroom door unlocked overnight 

Somehow I survived the whole of the first semester without having my room raided and destroyed. The other not so lucky housemates had toothpaste on their mirrors, chairs stuck out their windows, clothes thrown everywhere and even a fortress made out of their whole room. How I escaped the wrath of the “lads” is pretty obvious – I put the fear of God into them. I know damn well they’d be too afraid to even breathe in my room for fear of me noticing.

I hope to maintain this fear factor right through to May, so as to safeguard my personal belongings and most importantly, my food. Having said that, I will still take precaution and lock my door at night. You know, just in case.

9.  Stay up until 6am on a Sunday night 

Ah, Sundays. The day of rest. The day we all arrive back in Limerick for the week. The night we all go to bed before 12am because we all have 9am starts the following morning…

WRONG. Even though literally nothing exciting ever happens on a Sunday night (unless we order Chinese. That’s pretty exciting), I somehow still end up awake at all hours of the night. It actually bothers me. Why do we do that to ourselves?! I don’t even… Anyway. Let’s hope for better sleep this semester.

10.  Have a midday shower 

You know that thing in the hot press that allows you to put the hot water/ heating on earlier or for longer? Yeah, ours doesn’t work. Maybe it’s this way for every house in Kilmurry, but in our house the hot water takes about three hours to heat up from the time it’s actually switched on. So every time I leave the hot water on for an extra two hours in the mornings to accommodate my afternoon showers, I still end up having a lukewarm shower. And we all know how miserable one feels after a lukewarm shower. It spoils your mood for the rest of the day. That 5pm lecture looks even more depressing than it did before your lukewarm shower. Then it starts raining. Then your housemate offers you tea…

11.  Rejoin badminton 

Remember that feeling of anticipation and excitement at the start of the semester, as you signed up for different, exotic sports you had never tried before? That was me when I joined badminton. No, let me rephrase. When I wasted a fucking tenner to play a sport I don’t even like for about three weeks.

This semester I will be wiser. I will tread with caution at the Clubs & Societies registration day. In fact, I might just stay at home and eat. Yeah, I think I’ll do that.

12.  Arrive late to a lecture 

From what I’ve seen of students that arrive late into a full lecture hall, they immediately regret it. They are usually greeted with a sarcastic remark from the lecturer, followed by sniggers from the hundreds of people staring at them.

I can understand why someone who is two minutes late to a lecture the whole way down in Kemmy would go in, but those people that stroll in twenty minutes late with a blank expression on their face? They bewilder me. My face winces just watching them open the door (that always creaks when you're late, might I add) and try to creep in unnoticed. Oh no my friend, we all see you. We will continue to see you as you search for a seat amid the rows of staring faces. And we will laugh when the lecturer picks on you and makes fun of your hair or your flowery shirt. You pussyshit.

13.  Get a bus at 5pm 

Oh merciful Lord. For those of you craters that are forced to get a bus from the Stables at 5pm every day, you will know what I’m talking about. All’s well and good until the screen shows “304 Ballycummin – 2 mins.” Then people start getting anxious. The crowd swells around the outside of the bus shelter, each person trying to estimate where the front door of the bus will stop. When the red light of the bus comes into sight, all hell breaks loose. If you’re with someone, grab their hand or you’ll lose them in the crowd. It’s like a stampede of elephants racing to get to the watering hole first. Getting that 5pm bus is a safety hazard.

Finally, after squeezing every last person onto a bus that should only hold about fifty, you sit there uncomfortably for forty-five minutes before you reach the city centre. I kid you not. I’ve taken that bus at least four times and timed it each time. So after all the chaos and mayhem of getting onto that 5pm bus, you probably would’ve gotten into the city faster on the 5:15pm bus. Oh, the irony.