green grass brick building

An Anxious Introvert’s Guide to Freshers’ Week (Part 1)

At school I was always the kid hiding a furious blush behind a curtain of hair, desperately hoping not to be noticed. Whenever a teacher threw a question out into the room like a knife-edged boomerang, I became painfully aware of the chair jamming into my spine as I attempted to disappear into the plastic. In short, some school days felt like being led to slaughter (in front of a cheering crowd). So not too pleasant, really.

I’m not saying I hated everything about school, I actually liked plenty of things about it. But I did find it extremely difficult to be part of a group and to interact with people I didn’t already know very well. Understandably, when I left college at 18, I did not want to go to university; I took a bit of time out of education to figure things out and, perhaps naively, hoped I would be able to fully overcome these awful feelings.

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san sebastian beach on sunny day

September Reflections – Holidays and Starting University

September has been a pretty intense month for me. From going on several holidays to starting university, September has flipflopped through the full extent of emotions and has been chiseled by change. Attentive readers will perhaps have noticed this already: this is the first time my posting schedule has been so sporadic and scattered since starting my blog all the way back in November. A lot of things have happened in the last 30 days, and so I thought I’d split this Reflections post into sections. I, for one, am definitely in need of a little clarity and simplification.

Going Camping

I kicked off September in the best way possible – sleeping in a field. Well, sleeping in a tent in a field. I spent that first weekend of the month strolling through falling leaves in the late summer sunshine of the New Forest and it was wonderful. I think that spending time in nature, and living in a tent, both allow yourself to feel grounded and to dedicate time to appreciating the little things in life. For example, when you’re camping, cooking takes three times as long as it does at home – but that’s okay, because it gives you perspective.

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May Reflections – Finishing Uni and Going Backwards

Considering everything that has happened in my life over May, I’d like to be able to think about the past month as having taken a step back in order to spring forwards. I’m holding onto the hope that this is just the chaos before the clarity. Although good things have happened this month, it really has not been great overall. Kind of like buying a tube of fruit pastilles before realising you only like the green sweets and you’re now stuck with the whole packet.

You see, April was possibly the best month of the year for me so far – I had come to terms with my future university decision and I said enough is enough to the gloominess hanging over me. I upped my exercise, got out of bed early everyday, and focussed on self-care and organisation. I was fighting to be able to look back and know that I did everything I could to make April a great month – and it worked. My general wellbeing improved and everything felt tinged in a shimmer of possibility.

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February Reflections – How My New Job Is Going, Spontaneous Adventures and Life Update

In my first ‘reflections’ post of the year, I described January as a whirlwind. If January was a whirlwind, with everything up in the air and swirling around me a little chaotically, February was most certainly a cheetah: definitely continuing the fast-paced rush of the previous month, but with more direction than a tornado. Allow me to explain.

This was the month of settling into my new job as a healthcare assistant. In January, I was completely out of my depth: I had no previous experience in a role like this and every hour was filled with foreign experiences. At the end of each twelve and a half hour shift I’d be totally wiped out, and sometimes tearful. This month, I’ve felt a little more in control, I know what to do and how to do it most of the time; I’m also starting to understand the dynamics of the team I’m working in. Each shift feels like I’m heading for a clear goal now, rather than nervously running around in circles wondering what’s next.ย I also did my first ever night shift a couple of weeks ago.ย That came with a whole bucketful of lessons in itself.

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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?

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From Distance Learning to Physical Uni: How My Mental Health Directs Change

A couple of days ago, I wrote about why I chose to study for a degree with the Open University, a distance learning institution. That post can be summed up simply in one sentence: I started Open Uni because I wanted to study for a degree but I didn’t know if I could mentally cope at physical university or if the subject I chose, Sociology, was definitely the right decision for me. (You should go check that post out if you’d like the full context behind what you’re about to read, though!)

I concluded that post by mentioning the fact that I decided to apply to physical universities for this autumn, despite having a list longer than a transatlantic flight detailing all of the reasons why uni wasn’t for me. Whaaaat? I know right, I’m so unreliable in my decision making.

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