Dear First Semester Mic..

Dear First Semester Mic,

What a year you’re in for. You don’t know it yet but you’re about to get onto a really bumpy, windy and crazy rollercoaster for the next few months. Some of it won’t be what you expected, and some of it will exceed your expectations, but it’s going to be a year that teaches you a hell of a lot about yourself, that’s for sure.

Moving into the big bad place known as “Stab City” three days after you turned 18 was always going to be fun. A disastrous move perhaps, but still really fun. You’re suddenly thrown the responsibility of becoming an adult all at once, and I have to say you handled it pretty well for the most part. I’m delighted to say that you were right in ignoring everyone who said “But English isn’t what you really want to do, is it?” and “Maybe repeating would be a better option?” Your faith in the quote “everything happens for a reason” shone through, and although New Media and English wasn’t your callin1354g, you made the right decision to stick it out and hope for better things to come.

On the very day that you move in, you’re going to meet somebody who’ll soon become one of your closest friends. You’re going to bond with her because while you’re crying over a boy that doesn’t like you, she’ll be pouring vodka down your throat, and this is like the day after you meet her. Immediately you’ll come to the conclusion: I like her, I think I’ll keep her. You’re going to meet so many new people in these first few weeks, but Emma will be one the one that stays with you through thick and thin. And you’ll reward her by coming to her house the morning after a night out, telling her all the gossip, and then falling asleep in her bed while she studies. On multiple occasions.

You know that boy I just mentioned that had already pissed you off the minute you stepped in the door? Yeah, please keep away from him. He’s… Not the nice guy you thought he was. Stop going back to him. You look like an idiot, actually scratch that, you are an idiot. Why you constantly attempt to impress somebody who makes you feel like dirt, I have no idea. On Monday you’re going to be saying “I really like him”, and by Wednesday you’ll hate him again, and it’s really not worth your time. It’s the end of semester two now, and it still pisses you off just looking at him. Oh, and this semester you’re going to vow to Emma that you won’t go back to “semester one boy”. Hate to break it to you, but you will. It’s all a part of being a teenage girl I’m afraid.

003You’re going to be sitting in the boring and tedious lecture that is Gothic Literature one morning and get a text from your Mum that’s about to make your day/week/life: “You went up to a B3 in English.” and then it’s hello Journalism! You’re going to love this course, and be so glad that you changed, even though all the messing around with transferring fees and timetables almost gave you heart failure. It will be obvious from the first tutorial you attend that this is the course for you, and that Journalism is your calling in life. You’re going to meet some amazing – and I mean truly amazing – people. Being in such a small course means that you’ll really get to know everyone, and as Holly described us in a recent blog post, “We’re like one big, strange, dysfunctional family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” You’re going to go through a lot together, but the hardest of times reveal the truest of friends and amongst the journalists you’re sure to find quite a few friends for life.

You’re going to spend a lot of the first semester worrying about whether or not you’re a good enough writer. Stop right now, because the amount of blogging and writing and over-all working your ass off that you’re about to do next semester is more than substantial. I wish you’d taken some time to sit back and say, “You know what, I’m proud of myself” because you should be. You tried your very best, and I guess that’s all that matters in the end.

Advertisements

Your Questions, Answered: Part 2

Sorry guys, had to divide this up into two parts because by question 25 I was already on 1400 words, I guess I have a lot more to say than I initially thought! Anyways, here’s the answers to the remaining questions.

  1. What is your greatest fear?

Getting my bloods taken. Pierce my tongue, grand. Stab me thousands of times during a tattoo, grand. But don’t you dare try and suck any blood out of my arm or you’ll be greeted with my knee in your stomach.

  1. I remember when you used your blog and did Yankee Candle hauls I was just wondering what is your fav candle of all time? I love Christmas Eve or Vanilla Cupcake. Are you still as obsessed with Yankee Candles now you’re in UL?

Haha I love this question! We all had to start somewhere I guess, even if it was writing about candles. My favourite candle of all time is Black Cherry, I love it. And yes, I’m still obsessed. Crazy candle lady over here.

  1. You always seem so confident and don’t care what anyone thinks. Have you any tips for someone to be more like that?

Fake it until you make it. If you tell yourself that you’re confident, no matter how low you feel, you will eventually grow a little bit more confident. Even if it’s just a little bit, it’s something. Be who you want to be and don’t let anybody stand in the way of that or try to change you.

  1. Now that you’re no longer a blonde, do you feel that people take you more seriously? Or have you ever been effected by the whole dumb blonde stereotype?

I was never really effected by the dumb blonde stereotype because I showed the world what a nerd I was with the Leaving Cert page!

  1. What products do you use for your eyebrows?

NYX Auto Eyebrow Pencil in dark brown, better than MAC in my opinion.

  1. Will you make more YouTube videos soon?

Yes, I have over 30,000 views and something 500 followers, so I never should have stopped. I plan on starting again during the Summer.

  1. Do you workout? If so what’s your typical workout?

I don’t, because I’m really lazy. I do a lot of walking from Dromroe to Kilmurry, that’s about it.

  1. What’s your main goal in life?

My one and only goal in life is to be happy, because that’s the most important thing in anyone’s life. I just want to wake up one day, anxiety-free, and be able to say that I’m 100% happy. That would be amazing.

  1. What is your most used expression/saying/quote?

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the reason, sometimes it takes years. But there’s always a reason, or something to be learned from the situation.

  1. What’s your earliest memory?

Hiding bacon and sausages under my pillow in my top bunk-bed when I was about three, because I didn’t want to eat them. Funnily enough, my mother discovered them a few days later and wasn’t too happy.

  1. Dream blog collaboration?

I don’t really know at the minute because I’m only starting to find bloggers who regularly post content now.

  1. Ever been in love?

Well I was with a guy for two and a half years, so I guess I must have been. I’m not really sure if I’m honest, because I was very young at that point, like 14-16.

  1. Best book you’ve ever read and why?

Katie Piper’s autobiography, because it shows what a truly inspirational woman she is. It really made me put perspective on things.

  1. Most interesting person you’ve ever met and why?

Everyone that I meet and choose to keep in my life is interesting, if they bored me I wouldn’t stick with them.

  1. Best advice you ever got?

When I felt low about my body, I was told not to focus on the two or three things that I don’t like about it. It was explained to me that nobody looks at somebody and says “Her thighs are kind of fat… I’m going to stay away from her.” People look at each other as a whole, and don’t decide that they don’t like you over one or two flaws that you might have. So now I focus on the things I like, like my lips and my eyes.

  1. What’s been your best achievement this year?

Honestly, I have a lot of things to be proud of myself for. I got a scholarship for college for an essay I wrote, I’ve had an article published in a national newspaper, I’ve gotten over my fear of public speaking. I’ve done quite a bit!

  1. Are you open to a relationship with someone, regardless of gender?

Well I don’t see anything wrong with it, although I’ve only ever had boyfriends.

  1. First kiss? Location and what it was like etc.

Oh my God it was when I was like 12 and it was behind a hotel, and my friends were around the corner hahaha. It was sloppy anyways because I remember being like THIS IS NOT WHAT IT’S LIKE IN THE MOVIES!

  1. What gives you the confidence to be yourself Michaela? I just really respect you for that!

That’s so cute. Knowing that I’m not a copy of anybody else, and that I should make use of my unique features. Everybody’s different and I think we should all embrace that!

  1. If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be?

I can’t answer that, there’s way too many things that I’d change. Judgement would be one thing I’d get rid of anyways.

  1. If you could look back at yourself to this time last year, what piece of advice would you give?

You know all those times that you worried, “Maybe midwifery isn’t for me” well you were right. Go with your gut. Stop letting people tell you that journalism is a dead end career. Stop worrying about your leaving cert, because everything is going to fall into place. You’re going to make some great friends when you start college, and also lose some. But it’s all for the better, just make sure you appreciate the good ones.

Read the first part of “Your Questions, Answered” here: https://liesandbowties.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/303/

Your Questions, Answered: Part 1

I’ve always wanted to do one of these blog posts, but decided to wait until my blog had a better following so that people would actually read it. Yesterday I set up an Ask.fm account to get a couple of questions (I knew people would be afraid to ask things if they couldn’t ask them anonymously) and I got a lot more than I’d initially planned on answering! But hey, you guys want to know this stuff so I’m going to try and answer each question the best I can. Obviously, there were some questions asked that I just can’t answer (about specific people, etc.) without it causing hassle, so I’ll have to leave those ones out, sorry! Anyways, here it goes.

  1. What is your opinion on casual sex/friends with benefits situations? Especially in college life.

My opinion on this topic is pretty much my opinion on everything; each to their own. If people want to engage in casual sex or friends with benefits it doesn’t bother me, as I’m not affected by their decision to do so. As long as both people give consent and are happy to have a relationship like that, it’s no skin off my back.

  1. What would you have done if you didn’t get offered Journalism and had to stay in New Media and English?

I think about this a lot, and I probably would have stuck it out begrudgingly. I would have felt so bad telling my parents that I didn’t like it and wanting to drop it when at the end of the day it would have provided me with the Journalism degree that I wanted. But I found the course pretty boring, and I don’t think I’d be doing very well.

  1. Do you consider yourself straight or bi? #YesForEquality

I knew I’d get a question like this after all my #VoteYes tweets. I don’t really know how to answer this because I don’t believe that people should have to label their sexuality. It’s not like you wake up one day and say “Mom, I’m straight.” I consider myself… A person?

  1. Do you ever feel like you’re annoying people when talking about #MarRef, and if so, do you think one should continue “annoying” them? I often feel like I’m pestering people, but I can’t help thinking one more minute, one more point, one more plea will change, or make up their mind.

Nah the only people that I annoy are no voters who are stuck in their ways, don’t feel like you’re pestering people.

  1. Who is your biggest influence?

Jenna Marbles. Always Jenna Marbles.

  1. Any advice for repeat leaving certs?

Just keep going because as you’ll know from last year, the last few weeks fly by and they’re what matter the most. I have serious respect for you all because I couldn’t bring myself to repeat.

  1. What foundation do you use? It’s flawless.

Thank you! I use MAC Studio Fix Fluid in NW10 because I’m paler than Snow White herself.

  1. What’s the most thing you miss about home apart from the people?

I miss living in an actual house, I’m in an apartment this year and it’s not very homely, just feels like I’m living in a hotel. I also really miss healthy dinners, because I don’t have the patience to make them.

  1. I just kinda want to know the whole process of booking a tattoo and getting it done. Do you book weeks/months in advance? How do you even book it? Do you email or go into the shop? Does the tattoo artist draw you up a design or do you bring in your exact design ready to go? I’m just so confused!

It’s different in every shop. Where I’ve gotten my tattoos (Hard Knox, Limerick) I ring up about a week or two before and book it, but certain artists have waiting lists that are months long. You just basically ring up and ask for a booking, and you’ll have to call in to discuss the tattoo and the design you want. Usually they’ll give you a price estimate and you pay a deposit (I’ve never paid a deposit in Hard Knox though, because Steve is sound). You bring in your design and usually they change it up a little bit, I’d advise going with what they recommend here as they’re the professionals and they know best.

  1. Do you find a big difference between living in the country last year and the town this year? Which do you prefer and why?

Huge difference. It’s a lot easier to be myself in the city and everything’s on your doorstep, so I definitely prefer the city life. I do miss home though!

  1. Also, how long did yours [tattoos] take and around how much did it cost, if you don’t mind me asking?

My first tattoo took almost two hours and cost €120, and my second one took about an hour and fifteen minutes and cost the same amount. They’re quite big though and that’s a seriously good price for them.

  1. What celebrity do you think you’re most like and why?

Jenna Marbles, because I don’t care what people think of me.

  1. What is your greatest achievement?

Actually doing my leaving cert. There were so many times that I broke down and wanted to quit, so I’m really proud of myself for doing it.

  1. What are your views on religion?

I really, really don’t know what I believe in. But I think it’s pretty cool that some people put so much trust and faith in it, I’d love to have something like religion to help me through the tough times.

  1. What blogs/ bloggers are you liking at the moment? Any blogs/bloggers that you feel are under appreciated/ underrated/ need more readers or followers?

I’m going to be really honest here and say that I don’t really read many peoples blogs, unless they post regularly. But right now I really like thelauraroseblog.wordpress.com and lifeofanLGBT.wordpress.com

  1. Biggest regret? Why?

Wasting my second semester of college, I did nothing fun!

  1. Would you ever consider doing a collaboration with another blogger?

Yeah, that would be so cool. I’m really boring though, nobody would want to collaborate with me!

  1. Best advice to give to a pre leaving cert student?

Just relax. You’ll get through your exams and when you do, you’ll be the happiest person on earth for the next two months because you’ll truly appreciate how great your life is without the stress of studying.

  1. Are you in a relationship?

Nope, I am not.

  1. What do you think of stupid small minded people in favour of the no vote against gay marriage who may have been dropped on their heads and take up personas of video game characters online?

Hahahahaha!

  1. Favourite place to go out in Limerick, you can’t beat Molly’s or Charlies!

I have to say, I have some pretty good memories from Charlies. But I’m more of an Angel Lane fan!

  1. What would you tell your 15 year old self?

You weigh less than 8 stone, you’re not fat. You will grow boobs, I promise. Break up with your boyfriend, your relationship is a joke. Get rid of that awful side-fringe.

  1. Would you ever consider doing an everyday makeup video on your Youtube channel? I just can’t get enough of your eyeliner… It’s on fleek.

I don’t think I’m good enough at doing makeup for that kind of thing. I’ll show you all how I get my eyeliner to come out so well someday though, I promise!

  1. Would you recommend Limerick for students deciding to go there for college? I’m really unsure, but everyone who goes there seems to love it.

100%, as you said, everyone who goes here loves it. My first semester here was mental, I had the best craic ever and have met some amazing people. It’s perfect because it’s not a huge city like Dublin but it’s not small either, you know? I love UL, even though it’s soooo far away from home.

  1. Do you think that there’s a path chosen for everyone in life and there’s nothing we can do about it?

Yeah, I have to think that way or I’ll go mad. I don’t think we’re ever given anything that we couldn’t handle in life, and that everything happens for a reason. As my tattoo says, “What will be, will be” and we just have to make the most out of the cards we’re dealt in life.

My next few questions are in part two of this post, which you can read here:

https://liesandbowties.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/your-questions-answered-part-2/

“She’s such a slut” – The Realities of Slut-Shaming

“Did you see what Emily was wearing last night? So slutty.” “Did you hear that Ciara had sex with Aoife’s ex-boyfriend? What a slut.” “Conor was showing me the nudes that Megan sent him, she’s such a slut.”

And this my friends, is slut-shaming. For those of you who don’t know, slut-shaming is when a girl is bullied, harassed or attacked for certain sexual behaviours, circumstances or desires. It’s something that I suppose has always been around, but with the growing popularity of social media it’s become a lot more harmful and malicious recently.009

“Slut” is a word that I do not use. To insult a girl based on the fact that she is sexually active doesn’t make sense to me, and it was when I started to think about WHY I don’t use this word that I got the idea for this blog post. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no angel. I’ve used the word to describe many girls before, when I was fifteen and going through my boy-mad stage, it was probably my favourite adjective of all time for all the girls who got in the way of my relationships. But when I started to think about the meaning behind what I was saying, I stopped.

“Slut” is thrown around too easily, in my opinion. You kissed an older guy? Slut. You wore a short dress? Slut. You’ve had sex with more than one person? Slut. The list of things that “slut” is deemed an acceptable response to is way too long, and most of us don’t even realise how harmful the word is. And that’s what’s brought me here today, to inform you all of the scary realities of slut-shaming.

Lets take an Irish example, the infamous “Slane Girl”. For those of you who don’t know, this story is about a 17-year-old girl who went to an Eminem concert in Slane Castle in August 2013, and left with a tarnished reputation. The girl was photographed performing oral sex on two different men, and the photos exploded onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, a video even went up on Youtube. The hashtag “#SlaneGirl” was created and the girl was tormented on social media for her behaviour, being labelled a whore.

What these people didn’t realise is the emotional trauma that they were inflicting on this girl, and after the photographs were leaked she had to be admitted into hospital and sedated as she was so distraught. After looking into it, Gardaí discovered that she had also sought medical treatment during the concert, although it was unclear at the time why she did. Which is exactly my point; she could have been under the influence of a copious amount of alcohol, she could have had her drink spiked, anything could have happened. Yet society chose to ignore this and go straight to abusing the girl for her mistake. “The conclusion that people jump to is: she is a slut and it’s my duty to show as many people as possible,” said Emily Lindin, the writer behind the Unslut Project (discussed further down). “This girl’s emotional and mental health probably suffered a lot, just because she was unfortunate enough to get caught on camera making a mistake.”

Luckily for this girl, she pulled through the bullying and harassment that followed her after this event. But two other girls weren’t so lucky, and I’m going to briefly discuss the stories of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd, who turned to suicide as a result of society’s shocking slut-shaming.

Rehtaeh Parsons was a Canadian girl who died on the 7th of April 2013, aged just 17. Her death has been attributed to photographs being leaked online of an alleged gang rape that occurred before her suicide, in November 2011. The photographs circulated around her school and town, and she was borehtaeh parsons 1mbarded with taunts of “slut” and people messaging her asking for her to have sex with them.

The police got involved, but after a year of investigating, Rehtaeh’s mother said they deemed it a “he said she said” case. But after Rehtaeh’s suicide the case was reopened and two of the boys involved pleaded guilty to making/distributing child pornography.

In April 2013, Christie Blatchford wrote in the National Post about a problem in the case. She said that one of Parsons’s friends claimed Parsons was “flirtatious” on the night of the incident and was seen laughing in bed with two boys, and also that there were “accounts from Rehtaeh herself and independent evidence, including retrieved online messages, that supported the suggestion the sex that took place was consensual.” In response, Rehtaeh’s father, Glen Canning, accused Blatchford of victim blaming and argued, “The two boys involved in taking and posing for the photograph stated Rehtaeh was throwing up when they had sex with her. That is not called consensual sex. That is called rape.”

A lot of us are more familiar with the story of Amanda Todd, who’s story went viral after her death on October 12th 2012. The young girl had posted a video on Youtube previously, discussing how she was blackmailed after exposing her breasts online through webcam, and subsequently bullied and harassed because of it. After being informed by the police that the image was circulating the internet, her family moved home and she began to experiment with alcohol and drugs.amanda todd 2

After a year this photo resurfaced, and Amanda was forced to move schools once again. In her nine minute Youtube video, she talks about how after this an old guy friend invited her over to his house. They decided to have sex while his girlfriend was away. After this, the boy’s girlfriend and a group of over 10 others confronted Amanda at school, where they shouted insults at her and she was physically attacked by the girlfriend. She fell into a ditch, and then stayed there until her father found her. After this event, she tried to kill herself by drinking bleach but failed. Unfortunately, her next suicide attempt was successful.

We all hear about these things happening, but what about when it happens to us? Like 99% of other girls, I’ve been on the receiving end of slut-shaming. But I’m not going to lie, I’ve been pretty nasty in the past too. I remember distinctly a time when I was 15, and my boyfriend of a year had cheated on me. Naturally, I was pretty upset, and I had no problem with telling the world what she’d done. I was a stupid and naïve young girl, and blamed her instead of my boyfriend because it was easier. Obviously, everyone felt sorry for me, and targeted this girl calling her a “slut” and a “whore”. It was only when I saw her response to this on social media that I stopped discussing what had happened. I realised that these words were hurting her, and I didn’t want to be responsible for inflicting pain on anyone. I heard that she’d lost some friends because of it, so I messaged her to apologise. I told her that if she ever felt down or alone that she could talk to me, no matter how angry I was about the situation.

It was when I started researching the this topic for my blog that I came across this amazing website, called The UnSlut Project (http://www.unslutproject.com/). It’s a site that was started by Emily Lindin, and is011 working to “undo the dangerous sexual bullying and ‘slut’ shaming in our schools, communities, media and culture”.

Emily created the website after hearing about the suicides of these young girls, having once been labelled the school “slut” herself. She has posted her diary entries from the ages of 11-14, to provide some hope for young girls who currently feel trapped and alone. In the about section, she describes the site as “a collaborative space for sharing stories and creating awareness about sexual bullying, slut shaming, and related issues”. She is currently in the process of making a documentary about the issues of slut shaming in today’s society.

If you guys take only one thing from this blog post, and one thing only, let it be that you stop throwing the word slut around so loosely. You never know how slut-shaming can affect someone, or and with platforms like social media now available it’s very easy to destroy somebody’s reputation. Before you deem somebody a slut for their actions, think to yourself, “What if it was me?”

013

Articles used:

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/its-always-about-the-victim-rehtaeh-parsons-father-responds-to-christie-blatchfords-column

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/christie-blatchford-why-there-will-never-be-a-case-against-the-rehtaeh-parsons

http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/08/22/behind-slanegirl-young-girl-hospitalized-after-photographed-having-oral-sex.html

http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/slut-shaming-cycle-1584276-Aug2014/

What Not To Say To a Tattooed Person

I understand that to some degree, people are curious about tattoos. They’re pretty cool, and some people see them as an exotic thing and are completely enthralled by them. I don’t mind people asking questions about my tattoos, for example: Did it hurt? Do you want any more? How did you decide on what to get? Or just asking for my advice on tattoos they have planned for the future. I love discussing tattoos, and I’m extremely proud of mine. But one thing I cannot stand is people who are downright rude and ignorant towards my body and choices. I got a lot of this just from having facial piercings, but since I started with my tattoos, the insults have gone on to a whole new level. So I’m here to warn and advise, of what not to say to a tattooed person.tattoo 6

  1. What does it mean?

This is a question that you have to be prepared to answer when you have tattoos, and I’m totally okay with that because both of my tattoos have an underlying meaning. But when people continue to quiz me with “yeah, but what does that mean?” after I’ve given a brief description that makes it obvious that I don’t want to be any more descriptive, it can get a little annoying. If I wanted you to know the full story behind the meaning, you’d know it.

  1. You looked prettier without that

Did I? Cool. I think that I look better with it, and it makes me feel better about my physical appearance and therefore it improves my confidence and my overall wellbeing. So do I care about your opinion? Nope.

  1. How will you get a job?

This is the question that baffles me the most, because my tattoos are on my legs. How will I get a job? Oh God, I don’t know… Maybe by going for an interview, possibly wearing a pair of trousers? I’m pretty sure that as a Journalist I won’t be applying for any jobs that require me to wear hotpants, and even if I did, there are these things out there called black tights.tattoo 3

  1. How will you look on your wedding day?

Like any other bride, in a long white dress and maybe wearing a veil. Unless I’m in the hotpants that I’ll be wearing for work of course. I’m going to look as beautiful as any other bride would be, and anyone who bases my beauty on the ink on my won’t be invited to my wedding anyways. Simple as that.

  1. What will other people think?

This is the question that annoys me the most. I do not base how I look on the opinions of others, I dress the way I want to and pierce what I want to and tattoo what I want to because it makes me happy with myself, and that’s all I care about. If somebody looks at me and says “I don’t like her because she has a tattoo” does it make a difference to my life? No, it doesn’t. All I’d base on an opinion like that is the fact that I don’t want to associate with this narrow-minded person, ever.

  1. Why would you ruin your body like that?

Lets just take a minute to break down how offensive this question is. Imagine if a friend of mine changed their hair colour or lost some weight, and I said to them “Why would you ruin your body like that?” Not acceptable, right? So why is it acceptable to say that to a tattooed person? It’s rude and it’s hurtful, especially when you don’t know what somebodies tattoos could mean to them. To accuse me of “ruining” my body is essentially telling me that I look awful, which in my eyes is just unacceptable.

  1. What will you look like when you get old?

Like an old person. Wrinkly, with grey hair. I’ll look old. But I’ll just have a little bit of colour on my legs (which I plan on still showing off in my hotpants for work, by the way).tattoo 5

Out of all of the “that’s disgusting” remarks and rude questions that I’ve been asked, I’m happy to say that I’m still very much in love with my tattoos. They’re a part of my body that I’m delighted with and I’m proud of, and if you don’t like them then… I guess you should just be glad you don’t have any, right?

Katie Yeager: MTV, Baby-Daddy Drama and Being a Mom

In March 2012, the fourth season of 16 and Pregnant launched and on the second episode we met Katie Yeager, a teen from Rock Springs, Wyoming. Katie was pregnant by her live-in boyfriend Joey Maes, and their daughter Molli was born on August 18th 2011. We got to see what it was like for the couple as they tried to maintain their relationship while caring for a newborn, and got more of an insight into their lives when they appeared on Teen Mom 3. Over three years on from the launch of her episode, Katie’s life has changed drastically, and here she talks to me about life as a TV star, baby daddy drama and being a mom.

Katie initially applied for 16 and pregnant after a prompt from staff at the hospital who thought she’d be a good fit for the show, and eventually she gave in and applied. She never thought that anything would come from it, and figured the producers would never be interested in a girl like her. Even when she got the call to say that MTV were interested in her, she still wasn’t fully convinced:

“I thought it was my friends screwing with me so I was like, ‘Shut up, you’re stupid!’ and the lady was like ‘What?’. I said ‘Oh okay, this is real?’ and she said ‘Yeah, we want to come out to do a trial shoot, is that okay?’ and I said ‘Sure, but you’re going to be really bored.’ They came out and I force fed them pickles and peanut butter, and yeah, they didn’t like it. It was fun and they were asked if it was okay if they kept coming back, and I said ‘Sure, if you want to’.”

Through interviews done with other cast members throughout the years of 16 and Pregnant, there’s been a lot of negativity. Many of the girls felt that MTV cut out a lot of the important scenes, and manipulated things to look a certain way to the viewers, sometimes even causing arguments on camera. But Katie assures that this was never the case with her, and that she was treated extremely well during her time filming with the crew:

“I think when you’re in an experience like that, it gets overwhelming. You’re super vulnerable and you have people that you don’t really know around you through the worst parts of your life, but when I look back at it now, I’m really grateful for it. They treated me with the utmost respect, they were so caring, and I always had somebody calling to make sure I was okay. When we had a really tough day of shooting, my producer would sit down and have one-on-one conversations with me, just to make sure I was doing okay. They were very genuine. I consider a lot of them like family. I mean, they were there when my child was born, they were there when I graduated from high school. They were complete strangers when I first met them, but towards the end you learn about their family while they learn about yours.”

With over 150,000 followers on Twitter, Katie has had more than the standard five minutes of fame that come from most MTV shows. She has genuine fans who care about her and continue to watch her and her daughter grow through social media, hoping that they succeed in life. But Katie never lets the fame get to her, “You have to stay humble and remember that you’re still a normal person. I’m no different than anybody, it’s just circumstance I guess that brought me to that point.”

Becoming a mother at a young age was of course very difficult for Katie, but while other mothers can sometimes prioritise going out and doing the things that teenagers do above their child, Katie was the opposite. She was devoted to being the best mom that she could be, and while that was good for a while things quickly took a downward spiral when motherhood took over her whole life, and the most challenging thing for her was making balance in everything:

“I was so overly committed in the beginning to being a Mom, and being the best mom that I could be, that everything else in my life fell down. Everything was lacking, which is to be expected when you have a new baby, but I would push my friends, my family, my school work, and other personal relationships to the side just to be constantly around Molli. It got to the point where my mom was like ‘You’re stretching yourself too thin. You need to allow yourself some time for you or else you won’t be a person anymore, you’re just going to be a mom.’ I was so worried about becoming a bad mom like the stereotype of girls my age who have babies, that I overly committed to being a mom and didn’t allow for anybody else to be in our lives.”

After graduating two years ago, Katie has put her education on hold at the minute and is currently working in the financial industry, and loving every bit of it. During her episode of 16 and Pregnant we saw her yearning for the Psychology degree she so badly wanted, and although she still has a soft spot for social work she’s now really interested in Business. She plans on going back to school for her Bachelors when Molli goes to kindergarten, and says she’d not quite sure what she wants to study yet “I don’t know, I might have a change of heart.”

Of course when it comes to an interview with a young mother, you have to ask the question that’s usually answered with spite and anger, “How’s your relationship with the baby’s dad?” But Katie answered in a mature and honest fashion, something that I have to respect her for: “We’re as good as we can be with everything that has happened. He’ll come around sometimes, and then for months he’s just gone. It’s more time for me, in my mind, but it’s sad because I’m the one who has to explain to her where her Dad is. The other day we went to go and see ‘Home’, and it’s about a girl who’s looking for her mom and she started crying. And she just said, ‘I miss my Dad’.” Katie says that the hardest thing is to avoid bad-mouthing Joey when she wants to be truthful and honest with Molli, and admits that she hasn’t quite mastered that yet.

Now back on the dating scene, Katie has been with her boyfriend Sean since late October. They met a couple of years ago when she lived in Utah and kept in contact, then reconnected when she came back to Wyoming. But she says that there’s no more plans for any babies just yet, “I still have my IUD, that will be up when Molli turns five. I’ll probably get it replaced, because I don’t have time for babies!”

Katie learned the hard way that becoming a young mom isn’t ideal, and can make the world a much more difficult place when you’re growing up. Dealing with adult problems when you’re just a teenager yourself would be hard enough, but throw in some pregnancy hormones and it’s a real deal breaker. Katie wants to try her best to prevent watching Molli go through the same thing, “I’ll have an open and honest conversation with her. When I was growing up, I didn’t have that open communication between my parents. I’ll make sure that I’m understanding and non-judgemental. I mean if she wants to be put on birth control, I’m not going to stop her. I was raised a devout Catholic and my parents were super against birth control, I’m not going to allow that to happen to her. She’s going to do it eventually anyways, and when you’re a parent you have to be realistic. There’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

After speaking to Katie, it’s obvious that despite her initial fears, she has become a great mother. I have no doubt that with an attitude like hers, she’ll raise Molli to be the best person that she can be. As a final question, I asked Katie what was the best thing about being a mom, and she replied: “Everything. I mean you give birth to this baby and it doesn’t know how to do anything, it just lies there and sits and poops and cries. But now she’s three, almost four, and she’s just… Amazing.”

Bright future ahead for star of The Voice, Nicola Lynch

Her stint on The Voice of Ireland may have come to a halt, but for pint-sized rapper Nicola Lynch from Ballycroy the journey has only just begun, as already she has been offered record deals.

Nicola is both amazed and delighted at the amount of people who want to work with her, but because she’s still signed to Universal it’s making things increasingly difficult, “It’s hard to pick them up now because I’m still signed to Universal. I’ve tried to contact them and tell them and say ‘let me go’, but they might be keeping me under contract and want to work with me.”

Nicola says that this situation has left her feeling a little lost, and stressing about the future “By the time I get told if I can be released from Universal, my offers I get now could be gone.” She says that all she wants is an answer to whether or not Universal are going to sign her, and jokes that they should know by now.

Nicola was quickly snapped up by Judge Una Foden during the auditions, who immediately recognised her unique talent and rapping skills. But rapping wasn’t something that she always did, and she says that she picked it up after hearing her brother doing it, “just to stand out a little”.

Beginning to sing from a very young age, her family always knew that she had talent. Her younger sister Jade recalls a time when Nicola was the angel in a nativity play back in National School, commenting on how wonderful she was.

Coming from a family of 15, which Nicola describes as “crazy”, means that she always had a large support group that constantly stick together, “Someone’s always experiencing something different in the house, so you’re going through the same as what they’re going through.” She says that they are a constant source of motivation and urge her not to give up on her dream, “I think I want it more because of them.”

But it’s not only her family and community that have gotten behind her. Nicola says that while attending national school, she received a huge amount of musical encouragement from her teacher Leona Conway. She says that she got her to enter competitions, sing for school plays, and even join the choir. She says this is what really got her into singing, and other people made her realise that she really did have talent, “I liked people telling me that they thought I was good!”

Nicola admits that working so hard only to be knocked out during the battles left her feeling a little defeated, but the worst thing was leaving behind all the friends that she’d made on her journey, “That’s one of the hardest things of leaving the competition, actually leaving them, it’s like you’re leaving your family behind.” She struggled to say goodbye to them but has stayed close to many of the amazing people that she met.

On this year’s show, they introduced the ‘Knockouts’ stage, something that’s never been done before. Nicola feels that this is where it may have went wrong for her, and says that she feels she would have gone further in the competition if it was down to votes because Mayo would get behind her, “I didn’t actually know it was knockouts. They kept it really secretive! When I found out I was against Niall and Chloe I was like, ‘I’m gone’.”

Speaking about the comments Bressie made that her rapping wasn’t clear on the night, Nicola reflects back on how she felt, “I was really pissed off at that, like really pissed off. Going on live TV and saying that, and to be told it was all for entertainment.” However she decided not to listen to him after getting positive feedback from the other three judges, as well as her fans, “I didn’t bother with Bressie, and not everyone listens to him anyways. I don’t listen to him. I thought at first I would have, but no.”

Her sister Jade also said that Nicola was very hurt by the comments, “For Bressie to say that kind of put her down.” But the offer she received only the day after she left The Voice put her back in good spirits. Jade said that she’s been asked to work with people who have dealings with shows such as Geordie Shore and The Valleys, “She was asked yeah, for a few people. I think the producer or something to do with Geordie Shore for some television kind of thing.”

Nicola knows that this is just the beginning for her, and already has solid plans set out for the future and is adamant to make it in the music industry, “I think I’ll keep trying now. I’m going to try to write a lot more of my own stuff and maybe with other artists. I think if you go along with other people that have a fan base you’ll build off them, and I think you need to go out and work now as hard as you can. My face is out there now, I think I need to just work around that and keep on it.”