Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block

These two words can mean different things to different people. I mean, there are days when I’m sending a text or an email and blame ‘writer’s block’ on my inability to voice my thoughts and then there are days, weeks, months even, that I have such pent up energy inside me that turns to frustration because I simply cannot get the words onto the page. The latter is where I am right now.

I think writer’s block is one of the most infuriating things that can happen to a writer. To me, it’s like having a knee injury and not being able to play sports, no matter how much you want to, knowing that if you force it, it could damage you.

Because writing is considered a hobby more than a way of life, it’s easy for people to put down writer’s block as a silly thing that you’ll eventually get over. And to be fair, some people do, but when an absence of inspiration or blank creative mind is hanging over you for months, you begin to think, will I ever feel inspired again?

This blog is a perfect example of my writer’s block in action. There were days where I had ideas coming out of my ears, days where I couldn’t keep up with my thoughts, but for the last while now, I have found myself struggling to push out half an idea, let alone a fully formed blog post. And as a result, this site has suffered.

Now, I have had writer’s block before, several times in fact, but nothing that has lasted more than half a year. My fiction writing has depleted rapidly and my interest in writing is dwindling. I get frustrated that I can’t just jump to the finished product or that my idea is not as original as it seems.

But what’s killing me the most, and some others I’ve spoken to, is the saturation of blogging in today’s world. The fact that there are so many people writing public content that people are no longer interested in reading it. There’s a wealth of work out there and that’s the problem. No one is interested in weeding through posts anymore. In order to be considered worthy of a read, you need to constantly be gaining sponsors, milling out content, ‘hacking instagram for followers’ etc. That’s the sign of success.

There’s nothing wrong with this but it can kill motivation for newer writers- what’s the point in writing if no one is going to be reading it anyway?

But I was skimming through one of those terrible magazines that they leave for you at the hairdressers and I found a feature on Haim – you know, the LA girl group that sounds like Fleetwood Mac incarnate. Many people know Haim as they are right now, a group of extremely successful and talented sisters who have helped to break the feminist mould of vintage rock and give you nostalgic feelings.

They’re known more or less for their 2013 debut album but Haim were on the go from 2007. They were playing gigs that “no one went to”. Danielle toured with Julian Casablancas and Jenny Lewis long before she found fame as Haim. And through all that, she realised she would much rather find success with her sisters than with an established artist.

So the thing I took from here was to keep writing even when no one is reading. Keep singing even when you think no one is listening. Keep going when you think there’s not much point in doing so. Success doesn’t come overnight, or over a few weeks or months.

People strive so much to be hot Instagram bloggers without taking into account the immense work that these bloggers do to reach that stage. Most of my favourite bloggers who are now breaking into mainstream success are celebrating their site’s 7th or 8th birthdays. They wrote especially when no one was listening, and wrote from the heart.

So to new bloggers, my advice is to be realistic with your expectations – you’re not gonna blow up overnight, it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of pushing through the writer’s block. You need to put yourself behind what you post and be true to it. #Soppy I know but build that base and you have a foundation to fall back on if things get rough.

For me, my thing for this month is to realise that writer’s block is okay and it’s one of the many infuriating things that bloggers must go through but it’s what makes what we do so rewarding in the end.

 

 

Is Everyone Having More Fun Than Me?

Is Everyone Having More Fun Than Me?

Sorry, Mindy Kaling. You’re not the only one who can come up with witty lines about feeling out of the loop.

Scroll through any social media platform nowadays, particularly Instagram, and you will be inundated with photos of people looking like they’re having more fun than you.

I’m talking about the selfies in Machu Picchu, the photos of skyline of New York at sunset right down to the perfect, clean desk and laptop set ups.

These are things that flood our timelines constantly, and can increase during the summer. It looks like everyone is interning in New York, holidaying in Malaysia, and hitting up Malibu without you.

And let’s face it, if you scroll a lot like I do, it can kinda make you feel as though you’re wasting your summer.

But this is the problem with social media. We only send out the best version of us possible. We all do it. I’m guilty of it. Even my own parents are guilty of it.

How many times do we untag ourselves from photos or filter the fuck out of our instagram? Did you stay in bed all day with the.worst.hangover.imaginable? Post a photo of your holiday two years ago in Marbella and #tbt it. No one will know.

We, as social humans, feed each other’s need to strive to have the “perfect life”.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do that, we’re allowed post up whatever we want. I don’t want people to not have nice things but sending out these signals can be damaging.

We begin to compare lives. How do they have the money to go to New York every six months? How did they get so fit? Or the dreaded: are they hanging out without me?

It’s difficult to drive home the thought that our online selves do not necessarily reflect our real selves. On social media, we only see the surface of what a person’s life is. And the surface are just that, the surface. There’s a whole barrage of life underneath that we don’t see.

Yeah, maybe your friend is in New York but maybe she’s struggling to make rent or is working overtime. Your friends put up a selfie of them together but maybe it’s because you’re not the fucking centre of the attention all the time and friends can hang out without you and it means nothing. Alternatively they may have run into each other and decided to catch up, which is more likely.

I post nice photos and the odd selfie but in reality, I’m unemployed, burn through money faster than a match in a haystack, and am on-and-off clinically depressed. But you don’t see that on my instagram, do you?

With the over-saturation of bloggers and #instagrambloggers online nowadays, we feel as though our lives have to reach a certain standard before we can be happy. Before we can feel fulfilled. Before we can live. Which is absolutely bullshit. You are living right now. What you do, not others’ validation of it, makes you feel fulfilled. Happiness, as I said in my last post, is a choice, not something that magically rains from the sky when everything is deemed ‘perfect’. Take inspiration from other’s lives but don’t assume they have it all figured out either.

So next time you find yourself wistfully scrolling online and feeling jealous, just remember: just like you, the people you see online are humans with their own problems, emotions, issues. They could suffering from undiagnosed mental health issues, or are suffering a bereavement, or are struggling to make ends meet. No one’s life is free from hardship and lack of hardship doesn’t equal a perfect life.

Life is to be lived not to be perfected.

 

 

 

 

7 Reasons Why You’re Not Happy

7 Reasons Why You’re Not Happy

We all fall victim to this. We think we can only be happy if X happens or if Y comes through, that there’s a special formula for happiness to suddenly fall from the sky when the stars align.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

In actual fact, happiness is a state of being, not a condition or a result of anything. It’s a choice we make every single moment. We often let other things override our decision to be happy, or we over-complicated it so much that it’s impossible to bring it back to basics and understand what happiness really is.

So, in acknowledgement of the fact that I’ve been stuck in a little rut lately with my happiness, here are seven reasons why you may just feel a little less-happy than usual.

You’re stuck

You’re in a rut of monotony. Routine is nice but the constant replay of the same things over and over again can lead to boredom. We all experience this in some form but we often rely on other things to get us out of it.

Allow your intuition to guide you instead of overthinking. Listen to your gut and go with your heart – as soppy as that sounds – rather than doing what you “should” do. Even if it fails, you’ll have broken that monotonous chain and hopefully learned something of value along the way.

You’re letting others decide for you

This is likely for anyone who falls into the trap of people-pleasing. You’re letting what others say and do dictate what you say and do, and that’s a recipe for disaster. When you begin to live for other people and not for yourself, your happiness will dwindle and you’ll be left fulfilling other people’s needs but not your own.

Start small and do something for yourself perhaps once a week, and increase it as you go on. Do things that satisfy you and only you, practice regular self-care and know that you are the most important person in your world.

You’re letting external factors affect your mood

Don’t lie, we’ve all been there. We let other’s actions dictate our mood such as, not getting a text back, getting rejection, dropping the ball at work. These are all external factors that can affect how we feel.

You need to focus on you. You do the best you can and be proud of it. Don’t let anyone else’s action or lack of action come in the way of that.

You’re filling the emptiness instead of addressing it

You’re using alcohol, drugs, smoking, comfort eating or even binge-watching to drag yourself away from the real problem. It’s ok to have an escape from reality now again but relying on them to survive can prove detrimental to yourself and everyone else around you.

Choose escapes that are more productive to your health such as exercise, journaling, meditating, etc. They will not only give your brain a break but will also give you the feeling of accomplishment at the end. Cut down on vices you use to simply ‘numb the emptiness’. Going out for a few drinks or serial-watching Netflix can still be good forms of escape but do them in moderation.

You’re focusing on what you don’t have

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you focus on what you don’t have, you’re going to find an abundance of it. So, if you tell yourself you’re worthless or ‘not good enough’, you’re only going to find more and more examples of it ie, being passed over for something at work or being rejected.

You need to change your thinking in order to change your world. If you think good things, good things will come to you. If you tell yourself you are worthy, you will feel worthy, and it will show in your interactions with people and the world.

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely – Roald Dahl

You’re not engaged in expressing gratitude

Ok so, you may be having a crappy day – and this isn’t a practice to take away from how crappy it is – but remembering what you are grateful for is a ground for happiness to blossom. If you focus your attention on what you usually take for granted, for the people you have in your life, or even simply for the fact you have a bed to sleep in at night, you will become more intune with happiness as a state of mind rather than a material goal

You believe that you need X, Y, and Z in order to be happy

So having nice things is nice. Everybody agrees with that. You might be de-fucking-lighted that you got that really nice car or bagged that really cool job or that that guy from accounting asked you out. And yes, they can make you happy but happiness is not on condition of these things. There are people out there who don’t have these things and are just as happy. It doesn’t come via a magic formula, happiness doesn’t wait for summer to come around or for Christmas to be over.

Happiness is a state of being, a living-in-the-present-moment vibe, an acknowledgement that it is a choice, a simple “I choose to choose happier thoughts/actions”. It’s the searching for the good in the bad, choosing to see the bright side. It’s not something that will magically fall onto you when everything aligns into place. It’s something you make for yourself.

Try it. I promise you, you will feel happier.

 

 

 

a note on the culture of depression

a note on the culture of depression

It can prove difficult to stay positive in the world today. Between gig economies, dating scenes, and social media, it’s easy for your mood to see-saw from different extremes. Add that to the horrors going on in the world right now like London, Manchester, Syria, and the U.S. (I’m talking about you, Trump) and Turkey, it’s no wonder that more and more young people are being treated for mental health issues.

This isn’t a post aimed to cure mental illness. I will not go down the route of others who advocate along the lines of “depression? shur have a cuppa tea, be grand” – they are just frustrating. However, if I’ve learned anything from my eight years of CBT and therapy, it’s that the small things can be the catalyst in creating better states of mind.

But before I go into that, let’s have a look at depression and suicide rates.

I’m reading an insanely good book at the moment that sort of inspired me to write this post. I’m actually planning to write a proper post on it once I’m finished. The book is written by a woman called Sue Klebold, and is a part-memoir part-study on her life as a mother of one of the Columbine High School Massacre killers. Dylan Klebold was one of two students that killed 13 innocent people on April 20th 1999 in Littleton Colorado before turning the guns on themselves. Dylan’s story in particular hit me hard as he was someone who appeared to have no symptoms of any mental health issues before he committed the atrocity. In fact, his parents thought he was getting on just fine.

Of course, things were not ok, and the consistent, pestering issues racking inside Klebold’s head turned a once seemingly-normal child into a mass murderer.

The reason why I brought this up was because Sue writes about ‘brain health’ in place of ‘mental health’ and discusses the prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation among young people (some as young as 12) and our lack of ability to pick up on it. I wrote to Sue not long after I begun reading her book and discussed with her the tendency to misinterpret signs of depression and anxiety in young people as just ‘growing up’ or ‘adjusting to life’. And very often, by the time these symptoms are actually seen as legitimate issues, it’s too late.

Ireland has a particularly high suicide rate. We have the fourth highest rate of teen suicide. For every 100,000 people, 10.3% of adults take their own lives. It’s a horrible fact and there’s certainly a feeling of indignation among communities that bear the brunt of this but a lot of people think that “it’ll never happen to us”.

The reasons why suicides happen are mainly more social than psychological. And with the advent of social media, despite the injunction placed on news outlets on reporting suicides, it’s difficult to not come across it in daily life. In some places, it’s treated as a gag joke, ie, Anchorman 2, The Simpsons, others are accused of glamourising it, ie, 13 Reasons Why. Could this be the reason why it is becoming more prevalent in our society?

I don’t know, I’m not a sociologist.

However, what I do know is how to spot it in other people, and even more so, in yourself. And knowing that putting your eggs into one basket when it comes to treatment is never a good idea.

If you are suffering from depression, as difficult as this could be, seek help. It doesn’t have to be a therapist or a counsellor, simply going to your GP will help. Getting a professional opinion may be daunting but it’ll be a weight off your shoulders when you are told it is treatable. Co-operate: take the medication you need to if prescribed, go to the group sessions and the one-on-one therapy. Even if it goes against every fibre of your being, swallow your pride and go. You’ll be one step closer to getting better than sitting in nothingness.

If you suspect someone you love is depressed, be gentle. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t interrogate, don’t harass and god, don’t force them to do something they don’t want to. Getting better starts from within, you can’t make someone go to the doctor if they’re not ready. Being supportive and understanding, and not frustrated, is the only way to gently helping anyone find professional help.

If you’re semi-depressed, by which I mean, having a rough few weeks but either already take medication, or are just down in general, perhaps in a waiting period, you’re best to focus on the small things in life. Seek out what really makes you passionate, what makes you happy, even if it’s drawing or writing or editing pictures of your dogs. Nurture it, and just like a flower, your happiness will grow and blossom into other things. Don’t give up on anything, just keep going, I promise it will be worth it.

There’s a lot more to getting better than #PositiveVibes but it’s a start. You need to be gentle with yourself, treat yourself the way you’d treat a puppy you absolutely adore, take things at your own pace, and hold your frustration. Don’t let guilt or fear creep in and certainly don’t let anyone else’s get to you.

You are the most important person to you.

 

 

One Year On

One Year On

It hit me today that I am one year out of college. There is a new horde of graduates receiving their results and planning their summer and subsequent future right now, just like I did last June.

As I’ve said countless times before on this blog, your college results aren’t a reflection on how good you are. There’s this myth that floats around that says in order to do well in life, you have to do well in school.

I debunked this wayyyy back 

It’s simply not true. No matter how much tutting you get for not getting a first, or getting a 2:2 or even a fail. School and college structures sometimes don’t suit people, courses are not always examined in the right way, or even some degrees are not what they’re cracked up to be. You could be good with science but the course you chose just wasn’t what you wanted. Examining intelligence in one medium is not indicative of that intelligence.

(Note: I’m not making excuses for anyone who simply didn’t make the effort.) 

Your first year out of full-time education is going to be difficult. There’s absolutely no denying that. I’m out one full year now so I’ve decided to dispense what I’ve learned in the hope that any new graduates won’t get the surprises that I did.

I’ve made mistakes, I’ve taken risks and I’ve placed bets on things with no idea of how they’d transpire. I’ve felt crap for a bit of it, and felt like I could take on the world.

But the one thing I have realised is that the real world isn’t as scary as you think it is. 

 

#1 You Need To Put Yourself First

Above anything, you and only you come first. Your health, whether it be mental, physical or emotional, all take precedence before anyone else’s. Meaning particularly that if you feel you’re in a situation where these things are being compromised, you need to change your situation. Play the game on your terms and don’t agree on something you’re not happy with – whether it be job based or a relationship.

 

#2 Honour your commitment

In this ‘gig-economy’ world, it’s easy to quit because things get ‘too hard’ or ‘ugh effort’. Short-term jobs are almost the norm now with pop-up concessions, event management and the works.

However, there is a lot to be said for keeping a commitment. Whether it be working towards something or working on a team, honouring a promise to see something through is almost more impressive than the quantity of jobs you have held. Working late, or being the first one in, going that extra mile, creative problem solving and conflict resolution are all examples that you take your work seriously and will earn you that promotion, paid role post internship or stunning reference.

 

#3 You don’t need to do what you want right away

My first job after leaving college was a retail job. Do I see myself in retail in the future? No way but it was a start. Working full time taught me valuable lessons in discipline, inter-personal skills, and teamwork, all that contributed to getting a dream job some nine months later.

Working a job to improve yourself instead of waiting for that dream job to land in your lap is far more important to not only employers but yourself.

 

#4 You’ll get bored

Without a shadow of a doubt, you will get bored at some point. That’s expected. You’re so used to being in college five days a week with study at the weekends that finally having some time off during the autumn and winter months will be unnerving. But don’t let yourself freak out. It’s easy to panic and worry that you should be doing something when in fact, this is your time to figure out your next big step. Take the space to engage in some hobbies you neglected during your final year, or pick up something new.

 

#5 You’ll Miss Learning (yes, even a little bit)

School or university may not have been for you but learning is inherent to human nature. You are constantly learning new things, educating yourself and picking up new skills. It doesn’t stop at college. You might find times where you miss learning a new topic or challenging yourself to different opinions or views to yours. Thankfully, there are places that allow you to expand your horizons whilst staying firmly out of the college realm. Sites like YouTube, Coursera, Khan Academy or Lynda.com all give you the opportunity to keep learning at your own pace. No deadlines, no pressure.

Even Harvard and other Ivy League universities, Google, and The Open University offer courses that you can get a degree in (for a small fee) that looks really good on your CV.

They are the perfect places to fall in love with learning again.

 

#6 You’ll learn the value of patience

It’s easy in college to get things on demand. Constant gratification is everything. Outside of college, things don’t work at such a fast pace. You could be trawling for weeks for a job, days to hear back from an interviewer, saving up for months to go away. The real world works much slower. This is where patience comes in handy. You’ll learn the value of a well crafted email, of taking your time to create the perfect cover letter, of learning to work and negotiate your way efficiently.

 

#7 It’s hard work but not impossible

Working a 9-5, which could go on til 6 or 7pm, working early or late shifts, or simply living on irregular hours is not easy. But with anything, it gets easier. Just like in college, real life is all about routine – or keeping one to the best of your ability. You’re up against a lot of competition, the pond is much bigger than the 20-odd-thousand you encountered in college, you need to value yourself more than you do now, and know your strengths. There’s a lot of ‘survival technique’ involved but no one is out to get you. In fact, most people want you to succeed and will do what they can to help, if you’re willing to let them. Make and foster contacts, be daring, and go above and beyond your role.

 

#8 Take Chances

Apply for that job, go to the interview even if you know you’re not qualified enough, reach out to people you knew long ago. Date that person, if even for a few weeks, save and splurge, book that visa, secure the apartment, take that internship even if it works you hard. These years after college are for you to experience life to the best of your ability, to take chances and bet your arm. You’re young, fresh-out of education, and have the world at your feet. Take the world for all it has. You’re worth it.

 

 

 

Know Your Self Worth

Know Your Self Worth

Knowing your self worth is saying no to something that doesn’t add value to anything, much less yourself

It’s taking a step back to look after yourself when you get a gut-wrenching feeling

It’s holding your tongue when the argument starts, not just for the other person, but for your own peace of mind

It’s not holding onto the pain of being ignored in the group chat because you know it’s not intentional

It’s understanding that your life goes on whether or not you get a text back

It’s drowning out the self loathing when another thing goes wrong

It’s learning to say no when your cup is too full

And also to say no when it’s empty

It’s remembering all the times you felt good about yourself or when you thought ‘you are enough

It’s lipsyncing to Ariana Grande on a walk home on a sunny evening and believing what you’re saying

It’s knowing that you would have been the bigger person if you were in their shoes

It’s remembering that external validation holds no substance over who you think you are as a human being

It’s knowing that only your validation alone counts

It’s walking away from a situation knowing in your heart and soul you did the right thing and did it kindly

It’s realising that no other person can or has the right to control your emotions or thoughts. It’s also knowing when it becomes emotional abuse.

Knowing your self worth is being prepared to walk away from any situation in which you don’t feel comfortable anymore

And knowing when to power through

 

 

 

The Fear

The Fear

I can’t remember the last time I stayed in bed past two but that’s exactly what happened yesterday. The longer I stayed in bed, the more tired I was. I was a livewire by 9pm and couldn’t sleep until past midnight. It was frustrating.

Things just don’t feel okay.

The last time I felt like I had a weight pushing down on my head and shoulders was when I was in college, overwhelmed with stress, and going through days where I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I was isolated, bored, and delicate. It sucked.

And it still does. I don’t know whether the feeling truly goes away or I do things to cover it up until the next time I’m in a slump. All I know is that I sure seem to write about it a lot.

I can really only describe it as The Fear. I overplay things in my head, things I said, things I didn’t say and relive the cringe again and again. I spend nights trying to get to sleep wondering if I said the right thing, did that person think I was ignoring them, did they say that just to brush me off? Overthinking is common: are they being friends with me because they feel they have to? Do people actually like me or have an ulterior motive? Pretty standard for someone with anxiety but I had honestly thought I’d overcome it.

It’s also fear of what is to come. An uncertain job market and financial worry feed into a sense that I am simply not good enough whether that be for a person, a job, or an opportunity.

Like, my self esteem has taken a huge hit.

I’ve been down here before, so I’m not seeking out sympathy. And I’ve been here probably in worse ways, far more unemployable than I am now, but I am still worried, still unsure of my next move, and still totally lost.

Thing is, I don’t have a solution to this. Not yet anyway. I don’t have a quick list of ’15 things to make you feel better’ no matter how hard I rack my brain. Someone suggested to me that it’s a holiday hangover – that I’m on a comedown from all the excitement and running around in London, which is possible but I personally think it’s a burn out from the last few months. Which I know I’ve yapped about before but seems scarily true as of late – take crying in the kitchen yesterday over something very small as a strong red flag.

It’s like being in a car with no seatbelt and it suddenly stopping and as a result, hurtling you through the air until you crash.

All I can do really is slow down and recover. If I’ve learned anything from the last few months, it’s that anything can happen at anytime. And things could be completely different in a week. This settles the fear for a while whilst I work on my sense of self worth.

In short, I’ve decided that this is my time to recharge, to take each day as it comes, to know that in the long run, it doesn’t matter if I oversleep that one day, if I don’t go outside tomorrow, if I don’t contact people. That these blips are just that, blips. Being less hard on yourself will give you a better chance to love yourself *cheesy i no*, and the best opportunity to get better.

I can’t say how things are going to go but I can say from even writing this, that I feel a little more focused. To take this opportunity between jobs to work on myself and tie up loose ends, I mean, that’s a project in itself but one I think I can do.