Life Lessons from a Homeless Man

Where I live, the window next to my desk overlooks a busy part of town. Recently, I was typing my dissertation and occassionally I would look out the window to give my eyes a break. On one occassion, as I looked out the window, I noticed a homeless man sit down on the side of the pavement on the otherside of the road to me. He had a very large coat on and proceeded to take some items out of the pockets, which mainly consisted of just a few half empty soft drink bottles. Finally, he just took his coat off, sat back and stared into space.

A thought then came to me: what was he thinking about, if anything? Although I have seen many homeless people before, I had never considered what they might be thinking about when sitting on the side of the street. What must they be thinking when so many people walk past them with clean clothes and bagfuls of shopping in their hands? What are they thinking when a couple walks past, hand in hand, and laughing together? What do they think when people come out of McDonald’s, just a couple of metres next to him, with burgers and chips in their hands and walk past him?

I am not saying that if we ever do any of these things that we are bad people, but I am just curious to know how a homeless person can handle seeing things like these. I tried to put myself in his shoes, and I didn’t know how I would be able to sit and watch all these things while I know that it is unobtainable for me. To me, his life just seemed so hopeless compared to everyone around him, and I don’t know how someone can live their life without hope. I think that everyone needs hope in their life or something to strive for. Watching him sit there, I just felt that he didn’t seem to have much hope. He didn’t look like he was planning how he was going to revive his life. I just didn’t understand how he can get up each day knowing that it’ll probably be the same struggle of finding food, drink and shelter as yesterday; as depressing as it sounds.

However, I then realised that the fact that he was able to get up and face the challenges every day, even without much hope, requires a very strong mentality. I certainly do not have a strong enough mentality to face the day if I was in his position. Perhaps even in the position he’s in, he’s able to see the positives in everything and that gives him a reason to continue to live.

Sure enough, something positive did then happen to him: a lady came out of McDonald’s and gave him a meal. Perhaps it’s these small acts of kindness each day that keeps him going and is the reason he hasn’t completely given up yet. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen him again since then, but I hope that wherever he is, he’s always able to continue to grasp that hope in his life.


The Last Summer Holiday

It is very easy to take summer holidays for granted especially if you’ve had one every year for your whole life so far. When we are studying, we expect to get a holiday in the summer, at Christmas and at Easter. I certainly still have the impression that summer is a time of fun and relaxation, however it has just dawned on me that these summers have been counting down and I might have just enjoyed my last proper summer holiday.

The amount of holiday I have been getting for summer has been gradually increasing since I was in year 11 and doing my GCSEs. Before year 11, I had about 6 weeks off for summer, after year 11 I got 8 weeks and then at university I almost got 16 weeks! This has allowed me to learn to really be able to wind down during the summer and not have to worry about anything at all. It really has been very enjoyable and I feel that it only gets better every year.

It has dawned on me, however, looking at the my work contract now and seeing that my total number of holidays for the whole year barely even totals the length of the summer holiday I got in primary school. It’s not a permanent job, so I could still have one last proper summer holiday after I graduate, but there is also the chance that I could get a job straight after I graduate.

I am glad to say that I think I have made the most out of my summer holidays, especially the more recent ones when I get to see some friends outside of university. Of course, I wish I still had some more summer holidays to enjoy; which is a possibility if I get into a career in education. I do also now understand why people say being a student is the best period of your life. There are many other advantages, but one of them is just the amount of holidays we get: last year my holidays totalled up to about 6 months!

As a student, I have always looked forward to working because I just think it’s an easier life with no homework, coursework, or exams. This is true in some respects, but it also means less holiday. Perhaps it all actually works out though, because the amount of time we spend on homework, coursework and revision as a student actually means that we can sometimes work non-stop during term time. I always then tell myself that I deserve the long holiday I get afterworks.

On the other hand, for me at the moment, I have found that I do not need to worry or think about anything work related after I get home. So working is a lot less stressful and intensive for me at the moment compared to university, but there are disadvantages like having to wake up early every day and work all day. It does make me wonder how I managed to do it in primary school and most of secondary.

Losing Touch

I have a friend who lost her phone recently, which deeply upset her, however it was not because of the physical value of the phone. Instead, it was because she felt lost and empty without it. When I heard this, I realised how much we have become attached to some inanimate objects that if we lose them then we will feel like we have lost a friend.

After I heard her story I couldn’t even imagine how I would feel if I lost my phone. I don’t have a particularly amazing phone and I’m even thinking of getting a new one soon, however I think it’s the sentimental value of what is stored on it and also the uncertainty of what I would do without it that makes me feel uneasy. I’ve actually even had dreams of losing my phone before, which is probably quite extreme, but they never end well.

I think our attachment to our phones is quite easy to explain. A lot of people spend a large proportion of their time on their phone every day. It is very rarely a couple of metres away from us and we check on it every so often. The previous sentence could be said by a mother about her baby, and so I think we can develop a similar type of relationship with our phone even though it’s not a living thing that depends on us; it’s the other way around in fact.

Some people would say that it’s unhealthy to develop such a dependent relationship with our phones. I just know that my life would be a lot more difficult without one. I will always remember one time when I was going home from a friend’s house, where I had never previously been. It was late at night and I needed to catch a couple of buses to get home, however halfway through the journey my phone ran out of battery. I desperately tried to read the map and timetable at the bus stop to try to find a route to get me home, however as I didn’t have a watch I didn’t even know how long I had to wait until the next bus would arrive. I somehow made my way home that night, however I know that if my phone had been working then it would’ve told me everything I needed to know without even requiring me to think.

I guess my story shows the good and bad side of being dependent on a phone. The positive side is obviously making our lives easier, and also giving us a reassurance that help is in our pocket if we ever need it. The negative is that we think less and observe the world around us less. We could travel every day on public transport and not even know how to read a bus or train timetable.

Someone found my friend’s phone in the end, however she was not as happy as I thought she would be. After she lost her phone she thought she would never see it again, and so she spoke to some mobile network providers and had prepared to buy a new phone, which was better than her old phone and on a better plan. I’m not saying that what she did and how she now feels is wrong, but it shows that the weakness with our relationship with objects is that as it can become the most important thing in our life, it can just as quickly be forgotten and replaced by a newer version.

Trust Issues

I find it difficult to trust people. I think that it is something that has built up over time, as I learn and see that a lot of people can’t be trusted. This doesn’t mean that I have absolutely no trust in everyone I know, however when it comes to deeper thoughts and feelings I just find it difficult to trust people. This also doesn’t mean that it is now impossible for me to trust anyone, but I guess it is just a lot more difficult and that the person will have to prove to me that they can be trusted.

This means that the only person I am able to talk to about deep problems is myself, which I know sounds very lonely. I don’t talk aloud to myself but I tend to think a lot during any spare time I may have, which is usually on the train or just before I sleep. Over time, I’ve realised that I actually quite enjoy these moments that I get to myself to think things over. This doesn’t mean that I do not enjoy the company of my friends, however I find that the only times I am able to settle down and spend time thinking out deeper issues is when I am alone.

I tend to think about things in the past and how they can affect the present and future. I usually reflect on past events and ask why things happened the way they did, and what if something else happened instead. Fortunately there are no pressing issues in my life at the moment so most of these thoughts do not have much meaning behind them. Unfortunately, I have been very busy in the past year and I think that has taken away a lot of time where I can just sit and think or reflect on things, as there would be too much going on at any given moment and I would need to get things done and off my mind before I can even begin to think about deeper things.

I don’t think that it is particularly good for me to keep everything to myself, as I always think being able to let go of some things by telling other people is a lot more beneficial. Keeping many thoughts to myself can lead to overthinking, which is something I am trying to be wary of. There have been nights when I have barely been able to sleep, as I have just not been able to get something off my mind. However I also understand that it can be a lot more difficult to share than it may seem at first. This is one of the reasons why I started this blog: to share some of my thoughts that I may not be able to share with my friends. I always find it funny how a lot of people post things on the internet that they probably wouldn’t normally say or share to people they know, yet are willing to show it for anyone in the world to see.

I think there is actually a deeper reason as to why I don’t trust people that goes beyond just them knowing about me. I think that I fear what they will think about me, which is quite paradoxical because on one hand I would like to know what people think about me, but on the other hand I do not want to know as I fear it’s something I would not like to hear. So perhaps I need to get over my self-confidence before I will be more trusting, or perhaps I need to ensure my actions will make people think of me in ways that I will be happy with.

Am I overthinking this? Probably.

How to Love?

We can love anyone or anything, but usually this differs between people depending on our relationship to them. For example, our love towards our family can be different from our friends and it can even vary between family members and friends. Recently, this has prompted me to consider how I actually love people, and what the criteria for love are.

Firstly, I thought about the love within families. I realised that a lot of the time we love our family unconditionally as we usually do not get to choose who our family are. Even for parents there was a choice of whether to have children, but then what that child will be like is completely out of their control. However not many parents would say that they do not love their child because they’re not as clever or good looking as they had hoped. We love our families because that is who they are, and no matter what they do they will always be our family.

Secondly, I looked into the love between friends. This was a more difficult group as we have many types of friends which vary from aquaintances to best friends, therefore within this group there are also many types of love. Sometimes we even love one friend very differently to another even though we are just as close to both parties.

I found that our love towards our friends can sometimes be very similar to the love we show to our family, hence why some people would call some of their friends ‘family’. For these people, they will often love their closest friends unconditionally as if they were actually their family and so will most likely remain friends with them for life or for a very long time.

I will include the love in boy/girl relationships within the love between friends, because we are able to choose who we want our partner to be as well. I mentioned earlier that we usually do not get to choose who our family are, however with our husband or wife it is one of the only times we actually have a choice (adopting children is the only other time as far as I know). This is something that I feel I have to get right, as it will have a knock-on effect down my family-tree and could be the only time I get to choose a specific person to officially call my family. However I have seen with some married couples that over time they become less close than they were at one point. This could be due to many reasons but it is something that I fear might happen with me in the future as well.

Finally, I will also include the love we have for materialistic things. This love is usually short-lived unless the item has a sentimental value. However if an item has sentimental value would that mean we love it because we love the person or people who gave it the sentiment in the first place? What I find with my love for materialistic things, especially technological products, is that I truly treasure it the moment I get it and perhaps a couple of months after; but over time when it begins to get worn and newer, more improved versions come out, then my love for the product diminishes and I forget why I liked it so much in the first place. Unfortunately I feel like this statement can also be applied to some marriages and relationships, and could be one of the reasons why some couples become less close over time.

I feel like I have still not answered my question on how to love, especially on what the minimum criteria of love is (if there even is one), but I have realised that there is not a set method or criteria of love no matter who we are trying to love. I think loving people is usually something that we can do naturally, and so perhaps trying to find out how we do it is futile as we all know how to anyway.

Is it Easier to Become Successful Nowadays?

You may know the traditional way to become successful: to study hard and do well in education, which will then give you a better chance of having a good career. This was very true for a period of time when the people who were able to get into higher education were considered the intellectually elite group. However as more people follow this mentality and more universities open to accomodate this increase of demand, coming out of education with a degree can now seen as only the basic foundation. Of course there are alternatives such as apprenticeships, however in the past decade a new option has arised.

Almost everyone in the world has access to the internet nowadays, and so almost anything put onto the internet can potentially be accessed by any of these people. This means that it is now very easy for people to get noticed. The reason for getting noticed can vary from having a talent to just being a likeable or even dislikeable person.

YouTube is the platform that has arguably produced the most ‘stars’ in the past decade. The popularity of YouTube has turned it from merely a site where random amateur videos are uploaded, to many people’s full time job: having their own worldwide channel.

There are many reasons for the gain in popularity of YouTube, but I think the main reasons are due to its convenience and variety. YouTube existed before most TV channels could be viewed live online, and even though many TV channels are now also online, each channel is usually located on a separate app or website and it is less convenient. Another disadvantage is that on TV we are shown what the broadcaster decides to show and at the time they decide, so the viewer has very little control. On the other hand, the viewer can watch (almost) any YouTube video whenever they want and have full control.

Variety is another big factor because, as mentioned previously, on TV the broadcaster decides what to show and many channels have sub-channels to try to accommodate for different types of programmes. YouTube however, has so many videos that almost every genre is covered, but the best thing is that if the viewer cannot find a specfic type of video, they can create their own. This means that YouTube contains many original content and ideas, and so also one of the largest pools of talent in the world: from actors, directors and storytellers to personalities, athletes and singer/songwriters.

I have heard people say that is easier to become successful nowadays compared to a couple of decades ago, however I disagree with this statement. I think that there are perhaps more opportunities, however the first step is to actually take the opportunity and be brave enough to present yourself to the world. Secondly, I’m sure being successful on the internet will take just as much hard work and commitment, if not more, than a traditional job.

I am just very glad that platforms such as YouTube and WordPress exist, as they give me access to amazing original and creative content that is often better than on TV and the media. Many people say that the internet is ruining the modern generation, I think it’s allowing everyone to express themselves and do what truly makes them happy without having to get anyone else’s approval.


I think that turning 20 years old is very scary. It’s an age at which I can no longer consider myself a child as I have done for my whole life. So much can happen when someone is in their 20s as well: finally finish studying and start working, get married, or even start a family. These things I haven’t even properly considered during my teenage years, but I know that I will soon have to seriously consider at least one of these things.

I’ll admit that my teens have felt like they have lasted for quite a long time now. In fact it feels like I have spent my whole life as a teenager and it gets quite difficult to remember anything before. However I have noticed that the past couple of years have gone by especially fast. I think this is because as I get older I also get busier and so more of my time is being occupied, which does make it seem like time is going by faster. I just hope that this effect does not continue or even increase as I start working in my 20s, because I want to have time to just be able to enjoy life as it is.

I feel like if I could go back to when I was 11 or 12 that I would try to enjoy my teenage years more than I might’ve actually done. But then I’m sure many people would want to go back to their teenage years if they could. It was a period of time when you can live life relatively carefree and be able to try a lot of new things. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post: as a person gets older, the decisions they make tend to become more important and have a bigger effect on their life; and so I think there is a weight that comes with being 20 which is responsibility. It is as if the decisions I make now can have a large rippling effect on the rest of my life, but I’m sure a lot of risks will still have to be taken.

As a teenager, there are not many high risk decisions that have to be made as most of them are made by the people who look after us. However when it comes to decisions like ‘Should I take a job in another country?’ or ‘Is he/she the perfect person for me?’ they can carry quite a bit of pressure on making the right choice. I guess it’s because these decisions can have larger repurcussions on the rest of our lives.

I am also excited about turning 20 though. Although I will miss being a child and a lot of the things I can’t do anymore due to my age, I know that there are many exciting opportunities ahead in my 20s. At the moment it is like there are many doors ahead of me that I can take, some are more difficult to open than others but I know that if I work hard enough then my 20s can be a very rewarding decade.