How Society’s Attitude Towards Introversion Can Be Damaging

The reasons why someone develops debilitating levels of anxiety can be extremely complex and down to a range of seemingly small things. To the person suffering, it can sometimes seem mystifying; I remember being struck by the thought one day, ‘how did I end up in such a mess?’ Over the years I’ve thought a lot about my mental health journey and my relationship with feelings of anxiety: these ideas have often led to an attempt to figure out possible causes for the intense feelings of fear and discomfort I’ve experienced. One of these is the relationship between growing up introverted and society’s perception and reaction to the traits associated with this.

What is introversion?

Introversion is the tendency to focus on internal thoughts and feelings rather than seeking outside stimulation; and introverts gain their energy from time spent alone or in small groups. According to Susan Cain, author of ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking‘ these are people ‘who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams’. They generally prefer to listen in groups and often like to share their ideas in writing, hence why there are so many introverted bloggers.

Continue reading

Pressures of Growing Up Female ft. My 20s Taught Me

Growing up female comes with a whole host of challenges, much like a christmas chocolate selection box where an array of horrors disguised in tempting, shiny foil nestle inside. Of course, there are plenty of great things about being a woman, but this post is about the times when sadly that is not the case. More specifically, this post is going to focus on one of the most commonly discussed issues of growing up female: the pressure to look a certain way, or do certain things to be ‘beautiful’.

In a simple, kind world, we would be able to appreciate everyone’s differences, and also spend way less time thinking about them. What I think is even worse than the pressure to fit into a particular look, is the underlying concept that a woman’s worth can be based on her appearance; both how she naturally exists and through what she actively does or does not do with her body. Yes, it’s nice to acknowledge beauty, but do we really want to live in a society in which this is, so much of the time and evident across all media platforms, the most important aspect of being a woman?

Continue reading

Femininity and Anxiety on the Basketball Court – Seeking Discomfort #02

I remember the incredulous satisfaction of getting a basketball through a hoop in the school playground when I was (possibly) nine years old. That complete, pure happiness of doing something visibly well without a single pinch of negativity radiating from myself; I didn’t feel the uncomfortable itch of other people’s eyes that sometimes physically makes my skin crawl these days, or the painful awareness of all my body parts awkwardly squirming in an unfamiliar environment. I was just one body amongst others, merging into the lines on the court.

Looking back at how I felt playing any kind of sport as a young kid, it was as if my limbs were an extension of the pitch, or the racket was an extension of my own body. Things flowed easily. Except thoughts, any thinking that was not related to the game ceased. I guess this is what it means to feel fully absorbed in what you’re doing, and I certainly can coax that feeling back sitting at a laptop, fingers flying over the keyboard as I type out a post. But I know for sure I haven’t felt it doing something as physical as a sport in a long time.

Continue reading

20 Things I Learnt By 20

It was my birthday yesterday, and of course this calls for a generic ‘things I’ve learnt’ kind of post. Because who doesn’t like a neat list of life lessons?! I think it goes without saying that we all learn a lot of things over a year, month or even a day, but that could form a vast and boring collection. So instead, here are twenty highlights…

Appreciating the little things is important: whether that’s the sunshine on your face in spring, the thoughtful words of a fellow blogger, or a hug at the right time – gratitude is a powerful thing.

Prioritising is difficult but necessary; multitasking doesn’t really work in most situations and it’s better to just focus intensely on one task at a time. Managing all the important aspects of your life is an ever-evolving skill.

Continue reading

34 Thoughts From My First Ever Night Shift

Last night I experienced what it’s like to work a night shift in a hospital – for the first time ever. It was an intense, yet spaced-out experience which I’m finding hard to write about in any sort of coherent manner (probably due to the fact I’ve missed a night’s sleep and the skill of producing eloquent content is evading me right now). Because of this, I thought I’d write a post documenting a fraction of my thoughts throughout the night instead – this allows me to share with you all my feelings in the way I experienced them, rather than editing the events into reflective prose.

So here we go, from start to finish, my first night shift experience in 34 parts:

This feels like a dream, actually no, a nightmare. Is this real? I don’t think this is happening. In the car on the way to work at 7:30pm? No way.

It’s so dark out here. Like, impossibly solid darkness. No one should be heading to work when the sky is this black.

This really is real. I just walked through the hospital’s automatic doors and the antiseptic, musty, microwaved-food smell that I’ve come to know so well is hitting me full on.

Continue reading

Practising Self-Love For Valentine’s Day

I don’t really subscribe to the whole premise of a Valentine’s Day in which the focus is almost entirely on romantic love and capitalist consumerism. In my opinion, love between couples isn’t the only love worth celebrating, and buying expensive stuff isn’t the best symbol of these feelings. For me, 14th February is a day to show appreciation for the people that you care about, in whatever way is significant to them. If this means getting each other lots of material objects, then by all means do that. But I think it’s also important to not lose sight of the value of experiences and time spent together or doing something for them, such as making a special dinner.

In the run up to this day, I often find myself rolling my eyes at the crazy amount of marketing and advertising done by companies all over the place, whether that’s on the high street or online. In a consumer society, it’s hardly surprising that everyone is rushing to cash in on yet another celebration in the year that tells us it’s okay to spend lots of money, and I don’t blame them. That’s how business works. But that doesn’t stop me feeling a little depressed by it all.

Continue reading

You Don’t Have To Eat Oysters: An Open Letter to Myself About Making Decisions

Dear 2018 Alys,

Sometimes you wonder if you’re doing the right thing with your life. In this fast-paced world of constructed online identities and overwhelming arrays of things and places and people and opportunities, you often feel lost. I see that look in the hazel of your eyes, your decisions are as uncertain as the shade staring back at you – some people see brown, others green.

But the question that consistently plagues you on some kind of level, whether that’s a buzz at the back of your brain or a drill in your temple, isn’t brown or green. It’s study or work. Distance learning or physical university. Travelling the world or the ease of home life. Healthcare or writing or the media industry. Internships or volunteering. Europe or America or Australia. It’s have you made the right choices so far or should you have done something different? And what’s the next step?

Continue reading