22 February 2018

Confessions of a Girl with Social Anxiety

One of the biggest stresses in my daily life is trying to please everyone around me, even at the cost of my own happiness.
I respond perculiary to social situations, I suffer with social anxiety, but I have always made an effort to go out and see people despite the fact that I'd much rather stay home, alone. However, sometimes I'm too busy, need some alone time or I just don't want to go. It doesn't mean that I don't like you, or don't care, but it stems from the fact that I seem to subconsciously keep an emotional distance from most people and that there is an unbareable amount of stress and anxiety that goes in to each social event.
However, I always feel like most people just don't get it. They can't understand why I'm so withdrawn, quiet or reserved. I think the worst part is that I really empathise with these convictions, I wish that I was naturally outspoken, but I can't pretend that I'm something that I'm not.
From some individuals or groups I have always felt an overwhelming pressure to be social and to interact with them, even to the point where I have been informed by others that they have taken offence to the fact that I have hardly seen them or I am quiet in their company. Yet, it is nothing personal, there is not dislike, laziness or boredom attached, I  simply genuinley find it really difficult to initiate conversation and I would much rather be in my own company.
If I use a reason such as 'I'm ill' or 'I have too much work' then they simply think that I don't want to see them or that I'm using poor excuses, even if these are genuinley the cases (which they quite often are). Yet, if I agree to a social event, even if its a few months away, I guarantee that it will be constantly on my mind and cause me an unbareable amount of anxiety until its over.
I'm sure a lot of you feel the same, and so many people suffer with different forms of anxiety, yet why do people find it so difficult to understand? We're all too obsessed with what is normal and what isn't. So what if I'd rather be in my own company, does it detrimentaly affect anyone else other than myself? I'm not condoning friendships or relationships, but you can care about people and support them without feeling immense pressure to constantly be available.
At the end of the day, the only person's happiness that you can fully control is your own. If other people don't get it then they can't have your best interests at heart, learn to be selfish sometimes and that it's okay to say no.

If anyone here suffers with anxiety, or feels the same as is described above, please feel free to message me to talk about it or leave a comment below and we can all support each other.

21 February 2018

An Early Quarter-Life Crisis

I'm sure everyone who is in their late teens is to some extent feeling exactly as I am right now, in the sense of wanting to achieve but lacking the motivation to put in the needed time. The desire to work hard in the permanent battle with the desire to let go and have fun.
I've been thinking rather hard recently, as a result of this internal battle, about why I am feeling this way. Perhaps, it is simply my brain's way of telling me that I've outgrown the life that I am currently living. To some extent, I can identify with this. I'm growing tired of feeling so isolated (I live in a rural area, the nearest mid-sized towns are at least twenty-five minutes away on a bus that only comes once an hour, and I can't afford to drive).
I've always been such a city person, I love the vast amounts of people, the noise, the bustling streets and the ambition. There is something about being in that environment that really motivates and inspires me, whereas living somewhere so secluded simply drains me. Equally, if I'm having a down morning or if I am feeling really de-motivated, there isn't anywhere to go. I can't just walk to a coffee shop, a busy street, or even shops. Therefore, isolation is definitely one of the biggest issues that I'm struggling with at the moment.
Similarly, my routine is boring me. I am really fortunate, and I know that my lifestyle is great, but it has been the same for too long, and my current position as the child in a house with my parents really don't lend towards breaking the boundaries of routine. Therefore, my life at the moment consists of living vicariously through TV shows like Gossip Girl and YouTubers, which isn't healthy and simply leaves me feeling more alone.
I feel like the older generations really don't understand these concepts as society was so different. Even my parents can't understand my innate desire for more, they are completely satisfied with their lifestyle in the suburbs and a yearly holiday to Europe. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I am extremely blessed and I know this, and if you feel content with that lifestyle then I really feel happy for you.
I am simply trying to explain that it's okay to feel like you haven't got it figured out, it's okay to feel conflicted, isolated and confused. We're all doing our best, and I guess the only change that we can make right now is to keep on working and slowly moving along towards our destinies, which will one day soon arrive.
You can do it.

5 February 2018

Identity

One of the biggest crises of humanity is who we are, and who we are supposed to be.
There is no time more confusing than being a teenager. You sit in that peculiar chasm, you're not yet an adult, nor are you a child. You haven't created your own life yet, but you've outgrown the one that your parents have provided you with. It's a challenge- you think that you have it all figured out, and then you crash.
We all have moments like this. I'm starting University in seven months, yet I have moments where I doubt whether I've applied for the right degree, at the right place, or even whether its the right time. There are moments when I feel academic and confident, and there are moments when I just want to defer and travel the world.
Your whole childhood you're forced to think about the future, and every little decision that you make from being as young as ten or eleven, you're taught define you as a person. Being a part of the 'iGeneration' is tougher than those who are older can realise. Through the growth of the media, there are constant points of comparison to remind you of the pressure. There are always those who are prettier, more intelligent and more successful. You compare all of these aspects to your life that hasn't really even begun yet, and you don't even know where to start.
All that I've ever known is that I want to leave my mark on the world. My dream career has continuously changed, I've wanted to be a nurse, vet, actor, singer, author, lawyer, journalist, even prime minister.  In fact, I would have been all of them at once if it was possible. Yet, all of these careers are merely symbols of who we think we should be, and not who we actually are. In reality, our sense of self is always changing and adapting, so its impossible to know 'who we should be' until we fall into it, unknowingly.
Even the 'escapist' aspect of the media can be just as detrimental to our sense of self. I've watched tv shows and films where I've begun to envy characters (or even the actors) for having wealth or success.  I know that it's unhealthy, but the unrealistic attributes of these worlds make them even more alluring. It comes down to the fact that nobody likes to advertise or discuss the tough stuff, and the media reflects this to create the most perfect world possible.
I guess, the moral is that it's normal to not feel complete, and I don't think that anybody ever honestly feels content with themselves. However, the key is to harness this desire, fuel it, manipulate it, and manifest it into something that you can be proud of. Nothing is ever permanent, and if you're not happy with your life, then change it.

3 February 2018

London

Have you ever visited a place that just feels right for you? You can't explain how or why or when, but part of you knows that that is the place that you need to be. That's the feeling that I got when I first visited London.

It was summer 2008, and I was eight-years-old and extremely innocent. I grew up in a rural area of Yorkshire, in the North of England. Until I first visited London, I can't even remember being in a city. This is somewhat ironic, as my father is a rather cosmopolitan person. He attended the London School of Economics and Political Science, so hence lived there for three years of his life. My father's adoration for London is completely obvious, yet he did not have the finances or will to live there for the longer-term. My mother, on the other hand, is a character, and she has quite a nervous temperament. Therefore, she never wanted to take two young children (my brother and I) to any large cities, or abroad for that matter. I didn't travel abroad until I was ten either, and I can't really fault her for that. I had many happy summers on the English coasts in my perfect little microcosm.  However, I am glad that we started adventuring further a-field when we did.

We are extremely fortunate when it comes to visiting London. My father's friends live in London part-time, and therefore they own a flat there. I highly doubt I would have visited as many times as I have if they did not let us stay there. Having the ability to stay in a 'home away from home' gave me from a young age the experience of living there, the experience that you just don't get from a tourist's perspective.

I'd call myself a perspective fatalist. Therefore, as soon as I first visited London in 2008, I knew that it was somewhere that I wanted to live. It sounds hugely cliche, but I just got an overwhelming feeling that this was a place that was home. Even now, we go and stay in the flat at least twice a year. However, from the age of around eight to twelve, I'd say we visited on average four or five times a year. This was back in a period where we all had much more time on our hands, so thus had the time to visit for transformative weekends away.

When I was around fourteen, I began to think about University options. This sounds quite pedantic, yet I have always been a meticulous planner and obsessed with the future. I think this comes from the fact that- since been a teenager at least- I've always been kind of unhappy with where I live.  The countryside in Yorkshire is beautiful, but I've never really felt like I've fitted in up here. The towns feel restraining to me, and opportunity feels limited. I guess you could classify it, as in the words of Frank Sinatra, "little town blues".

I knew that I wanted to attend University in London, like my father. Throughout the years, I've looked at possibly every single course at every single University. Whenever anybody asked me what I wanted to do in the future, I'd tell them: "I just want to move to London." Of course, when you're young and 'naive' people struggle to take you seriously, and this always infuriated me. I'd researched, planned and budgeted the next ten years of my life; I was going to do it.

The feeling of it being 'right' intensified from this point. Every train journey I took to London felt like I was returning home and I always felt so melancholic when I had to come back home at the end of a trip, I felt like I had left a piece of myself there.

In September 2017 I attended some open days in London. I went down with my father, and it was a dream. I fell head over heels in love with King's College London. This surprised me, as I was actually expecting to prefer University College London, but no, I was mesmerised with King's. I went to talk with one of the English lecturers, and I was so awe-struck that I embarrasingly failed to formulate sentences. However, I convinced myself that I would never get in, and I felt completely like the University was far too good for me.

After a gruelling UCAS application process, in November 2017 I received an offer to study English at King's College London. It's now February 2018, and I am beginning to feel more content than I ever previously have. Of course, I'm only part of my way through this journey, and meeting the grades that I need to get in is a challenge in itself. However, I am trying to remain positive, while figuring out if this is a step that I am ready to make at this point in my life. I thought I'd share this little anecdote with you, just as it is fascinating how a place can symbolise everything that you are, and everything that you want to be.

I'm planning on writing another blogpost about the University application process as I begin to reach the end of that journey in a few months time.

Hopefully, I'll be able to take you along with me on the journey.

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