I’m finding myself in that situation again this academic year, mainly thanks to coronavirus this time around rather than financial worries.

But this time, I can see it coming, and I won’t lose focus. I won’t waste this year. I’ve got things I need to do to be ready for starting the level 4 counselling course next September.

See, after I had finished the Level 2 in Counselling Skills, I took a year off and basically wasted it. You can read all about it here: https://iaindstewart.net/blog/2019/09/09/so-i-took-a-year-off-from-everything/, but the jist is that I bought an Xbox One X and a fancy posh Elite controller, and pretty much just played Destiny 2 for a year, trying to find my feet as a videogame streamer. In the end I felt it was not really a productive use of anyone’s time. I don’t think that ultimately, becoming a streamer contributes to the world in a positive manner. Being obsessed by videogames in any way, playing, watching, broadcasting, it’s not a positive use of energy. I intend to leave this place better than I found it, and I don’t feel that further encouraging people to obsess over videogames is a good way to carry out that aim. Anyway, now’s not the time, but I do want to explore this later at some point.

When the big CV forced the country to lock itself down, certain activities were not allowed. One such activity was driving lessons. The plan was to be driving by now, seeing as getting to the nearest level 4 courses was not really doable via public transport. I’ve still not resumed lessons at this point, as I couldn’t do any over the school’s summer holidays – I couldn’t exactly put Jake in the backseat while I was taking a lesson. My instructor couldn’t leave my slot open (he has to make a living after all), so now I’m without an instructor. With no-one able to do any lessons for six months, the amount of people wanting to learn far outweighs the amount of driving instructors. I’m struggling to find an instructor, and with more lockdowns possibly looming, who knows when I’ll be able to get on the road. Also, gyms were shut, and lockdown was oppressive; I’ve put on a bit of weight.

I’d also hoped to be out of Asda by now – I just don’t feel that the job is conducive to becoming a counsellor. I need something in the care sector, or as a mental health advisor or something. Also, my ten-year Asda-anniversary is looming. I really hoped I would have left before that. Although saying that, I don’t think it would be wise to attempt to leave Asda right now. Even though the job doesn’t contribute to my journey to become a counsellor, it is a safe job given the current Coronavirus circumstances, and having steady money coming in is far more important right now than taking a chance on something that may not be suitable or secure. Maybe when I start the Level 4 in September, all things going well.

I feel like I need to do more Free-writing. I have thoughts that I need to get out of my head, and free-writing always helps with that. Just the process of physically removing the ideas from my head and putting them somewhere else is wondrous. I have a lot of ideas for posts and essays as well. I carry a little red notebook around with me that my Aunt got me for my birthday a good few years ago now, and I use it to record half-thoughts before they escape into the ether. Very useful to have a notepad with you at all times. You may think that those ideas you’ve just had are so incredibly memorable, but they’re really not, you’d be surprised how quickly they evaporate.

So, my plans for the year off are as follows:
Learn to drive
Get a driving license
Own a car
Volunteer for some kind of mental health charity
Get all of my level 3 work on here
Do more free-writing
Write more posts and essays on here
Complete a course of CPD or three
Get a side-hustle or two going
Lose some inches around my middle

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how things progress.

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