Mingling

Is there anything you despise more than mingling? Probably. Is there anything I despise more? Mmmm, it’s a close call. But if we’re talking things we despise that we’re actually forced to partake in, I think mingling reigns unchallenged.

I cannot stand the concept. Nor do I understand it. Though I’m not sure these factors are mutually exclusive–at least completely. They say often hate and disdain stem from a lack of understanding. But I think, with this particular subject, misunderstanding is not the prime culprit for my dislike as much as being an introvert with social anxiety who prefers independence. It’s a close call, I know. Honestly, though, what I do understand about mingling is perhaps the very reason I don’t appreciate the concept… and the fact that what I understand about it conflicts with my introverted, socially anxious independence.

I think of mingling, I think of a hotel lobby or a front room of a booming business, attempting to masquerade as an exquisite ballroom (like that of the “Beauty and the Beast” 2017 remake), trying to house such an obscene number of people, it’s almost as though the organizer of the event really did believe the lobby-turned-ballroom to be of actual ballroom size. I think of extremely breakable, grossly expensive chandeliers cascading from high ceilings, complementing the identical, significantly smaller lights serving as centerpieces for high-top tables down below. And that’s another thing–high-top tables. No chairs. There will be no sitting tonight, so if you need to faint or, more likely, sit, don’t. You will be expected to stand the entirety of the evening, no need to sit. Talking can be done in any position. Any situation.

Very true. But when I think of mingling, I think of stiff, claustrophobic, all-around uncomfortable occasions of distinction. Though, in reality, mingling can happen anywhere and everywhere.

I suppose why I view it so negatively entirely pertains to my experiences and my lack of especially positive experiences at that. Now, I do have some factors working against me here with the shyness and the introversion and the, oh yeah, social anxiety. But am I expected to internally combat all those facets of personality in order to rub elbows with in-field contacts and potential “buddies”? Ya, you betcha.

Believe it or not, though, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t mind mingling so much, if I could just figure out this one small thing…

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO SAY???!?!!?

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Honestly. Anytime, I’ve had to go to a mingling-centric shindig, I try to make sure it’s because I’m part of the group running the show–I’m on staff, I’m volunteering, I’m doing something. Because, as part of the staff, I’m not expected to talk beyond what is required of me in my role (i.e. my small-talk is cut to a minimum). But, as an actual attendee, so much more seems to be expected. And that’s where I fall flat. I have to talk to people, make conversation, and appear all-around “normal.” Which, for me, is easier said than done. I mean, have you ever heard someone with social anxiety try to make conversation? Actually, you probably have; it’s not great!

It’s just, at these events, I know no one, except my co-workers who I try (and fail) not to follow around all night like the socially incompetent sap I am. Yet, I’m just expected to, what? Find a fellow loner in the avalanche of people and attack them with mundane small-talk? “HELLO! WHAT’S YOUR NAME? HOW DO YOU FIT INTO ALL THIS????? I DON’T LIKE THESE EVENTS EITHER? OH, YOU’RE THE PRESIDENT OF THE HOTEL WHERE WE’RE HOSTING THIS EVENT? Oh… Awkward…” Or, even more rude, insert myself into a tight circle of suits discussing who even knows–nothing I can probably follow–and interrupt merely to introduce myself.

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And, on the off-chance I somehow haven’t committed a social faux pas up to this point, then what do I do? How do I continue the conversation? Chances are we don’t have much in common–at least not the kind of things you can find out without deep conversations, not something that’ll likely happen at a work-related social event. (But, I’ve been wrong before…) Or do I merely parade around the room greeting everyone like some kind of adorkable puppy? Hi guys! Hi guys! Hihihihihihihi!!!!!!!!!! Woof. Actually, you know what? Maybe it’s just better if I stay by the wall…

Actually, lurking near the wall, twiddling my thumbs, watching the crowd from afar comes off as somewhat stalker-ish–I mean, unprofessional. But, I’m not sure the above options paint me in the best light either. Which is why I’d rather just stick to attending only the events I’m staffing; then, I have an excuse to be weird and disruptive–I’m just doing my job! Or something. 😉

Sooooooo, yeah. Mingling–can’t stand it. Hope you tolerate it more than I!

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My Lit Chick Trio: The Literary Heroines Who Inspire Me to Be My Better Self

So, you know, I read… like a lot. Shocking coming from an English student, I know. But have any of you readers out there ever stopped to wonder why you read? Why you like to read?

From what I know of avid readers, I’d say the most common motivations are–to escape, to gain knowledge, and, with that, to understand. I suppose my fondness for literature falls under the latter category, to understand. But, diving deeper into this desire to understand, is the desire to relate. To find solitary, a sense of belonging among the characters whose stories I seek. And, maybe even from that, to uncover the better parts of those characters with whom I attempt to find solace. Basically, I read for the minute possibility that I’ll meet someone in the written word who reminds me of a better version of me; subsequently, I can find comfort in knowing somewhere out there in the literary world, someone like me–to an extent–exists… even though this someone is pretty much undoubtedly fictional. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy meeting little Literary Quinns as they pop up. Which brings me to the subject of today’s post.

You may or may not be familiar with a recent (and by recent, I mean a good two-plus years old at this point) trend going on around the internet in which you attempt to determine which three popular culture characters best make up your persona. For a time, my Facebook feed was flooded with compilation photos of acclaimed television characters, Disney princesses, literary heroes, etc. alongside short descriptions, justifying why the selected characters aligned so perfectly with the poster’s personality. I didn’t really read too much into it at first. But, like the personality junkie I am, I too, eventually became enamored enough with the trend to determine out my character compilation.

At first, I thought you simply created your own compilation based on your knowledge of characters and the degree to which you identify with them–all a very biased, unreliable means of finding your character compilation. But, as I found out all too recently, you actually complete a quiz to determine your best matches. Let’s just say I wasn’t the most enthused with my results. It also didn’t help I only actually knew of one of the three characters. So, naturally, I decided to design my own trio–with characters who all just so happen to be of literary descent (likely due to my heavy reading paired with the motivations listed above). Thus, in the following sections, you will find my personalized character trio compiled of literary-turned-cinematic heroines who I feel both represent various aspects of my personality, but also boast traits I feel I could play up more.

Now, I’d like to introduce you to, in no particular order, my literary character trio: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (The Help), Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre), and Luna Lovegood (The Harry Potter series). At first glance, you may or may not agree with my choices, but hear me out; take a look at my justifications before completely dismissing my claim.

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“All my life I’d been told what to believe […] But […] I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe.” 

Does it still qualify as bias if I admit my bias? Probably not. But Skeeter Phelan is my absolute FAVORITE character from my FAVORITE book! Basically, I like her a lot, so my selection here may not be entirely fair; regardless, I relate to her life a lot–down to the minimal dating storyline. I, too, endured an upbringing full of critiques, failed to meet societal expectations, and, all-around struggled to fit in for the most part; I spent (read: spend) much of my time independently due to my unique values, interests, and aspirations compared to those of others–much like Miss Skeeter and her peers. Plus, she and I both aspire to make a difference in our world by means of writing. I mean, how much more similar can we be?

Our commonalities are what drew me in, yes. But our differences–where she doesn’t hold back while I would keep quiet to avoid confrontation–are what maintained my interest and what have served as a basis for my heroine inspiration. Skeeter, though initially compliant in situations seemingly gone awry, soon gains the passion, the anger to not only simply form new beliefs, but to act on them. And, she doesn’t cease action when the going gets tough, she persists. Skeeter is bold, determined, does everything in her power to turn her aspiration to reality for the better of others. I admire her outward confidence, her bravery, and, most of all, her persistence in her attempt to make a change, to improve her corner of the world, to do what’s right–no matter the consequences.

Skeeter is where my reality meets my aspirations as a persona; she is the epitome who I strive to be. And I can only hope with time, I may be able to encompass even a fraction of her persistence and courage.

“’I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld,’”

Not the most beloved in the world of Victorian romances, but Jane Eyre of Jane Eyre is by far my most favorite due to her persistence in holding close her principles. Identical to Skeeter in her rough, abusive even, upbringing, Jane’s spirit is never truly broken; though dwindled at times, she is able to hold fast to what she has left of her core–most notably, her morals–and rekindle her persona into that of a principled, virtuous heroine. Unwilling to sacrifice her morals, her beliefs, her faith–even for her heart–Jane illustrates the makings of someone who feels so, so deeply but also holds the discipline to remain true to her logic. She really has to battle between the two, resulting in gross inner-turmoil for awhile in her story–but her dedication to her faith, her morals leads her toward the right path that ends in her head–and heart–remaining happy.

In today’s society, filled with innumerable unbelievers, with those who remain convinced God is some mysterious higher being who takes delight in depriving them of the sinful joys in life, finding someone so committed to their faith, their morals–no matter what conflicting emotions they may be fighting against within their heart–is refreshing, to say the least. I am impressed with and in awe of Jane’s principled nature. She knows what she believes, what she stands for, and nothing–not even love–is to sever Jane’s ties to her faith, her morals.

Even then, funny enough, Jane’s commitment is proven to be especially inspiring and respectable when holding fast to her principles ends in her ultimate happiness–further illustrating God’s love and plan for us; you follow His will, He’ll be sure to reward you. Witnessing an example of that–even fictional–is further inspiring to us believers, and encouraging in our walks with Him.

“‘Being different isn’t a bad thing. It means you’re brave enough to be yourself.'”

Now, she walks alright, but I’m not so sure it’s with the Lord as much as it is to the beat of her own drum–Miss Luna Lovegood… I ADORE Luna Lovegood. She’s optimistic, she’s quirky, she doesn’t seem to mind so much what others think of her. But this isn’t to say she doesn’t take note of what others think of her–early on in her character’s introduction she even admits to being thought of by others as weird (read: “loony”). She soaks up her peers’ words, actions, and mere existences–but not in a creepy, lurker sort of way.

Dear Luna is incredibly perceptive, taking in her world a mere observation at a time. And she uses this ability to help, to advise and inspire others. She acts to benefit others, to serve others–regardless of how this may portray her, whether it be selfless or selfish. Though the idea of Luna being selfish is plain unfathomable.

Luna, may take notice of the unkind thoughts her peers hold of her, but she does not respond with spite. She’s merely Luna. She observes, perceives her surroundings, and uses her perceptions to better her world, simple as that. All the while being Luna without a care in the world… or so we think. She is unabashedly, unapologetically herself–a trait I think of which the world could use more.

But even with all these wonderful, awe-inspiring women of literature with their rough upbringings, independent nature, and determined, unique personas, they all seem to somewhat lack a very important (to me) trait that I do largely possess–kindness.

Now, that is not to say Skeeter, Jane, or Luna are not kind, that their intents do not stem from places of love, consideration. But even in the case of possessing an ultimately good, well-intentioned core, a warm, sweet-natured persona is not guaranteed to follow suit–unless this is Lily James’ interpretation of Disney’s Cinderella. Very infrequently do I see the inner-workings of a character as persistent, as principled, as perceptive as my infamous trio translate to such a personable personality. The very fact that they are not, in fact, notably sweet in nature–at least, not enough to be a notable character trait–are likely what makes them such admirable, outstanding women of literature. Perhaps that’s why I admire them so much.

I think, by many, I am widely known for my tendency toward kindness, toward treating others right and fair–but in a way that’s perhaps excessive at times. And while I don’t believe this to be a negative quality by any means, I do believe it could prove that much more impactful if paired with the more notable traits of these literary heroines. Complementing my kindness with determination, strongly-rooted morals, and keen observation could really do wonders on my impact on my small corner of the world–I think. And if I were to succeed in merging these traits, I think that, I too, may meet a storybook end that proves just as rewarding as those for my character trio. But I’ve got an awfully long way to go until I meet my end; I can’t wait to see what happens in the meantime. 🙂

Stay curious, Friends!

Ch-Ch-Changes

…TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE–CH-CH-CHANGES…YO-

Oh, hi! I didn’t see you there! And I’ve always been fond of that opening–no matter how overdone and horribly unnatural it may be…

So, in case you couldn’t tell by the title of this lovely blog post, I’ve been going through some… life changes. Hard to believe, I know, considering I’ve been so absent on here as of late. Let’s be real: anytime someone drops off their blog–and DIDN’T forget to post–it’s likely because so much else is going on. Honestly, blogging is a bit of a commitment, depending on how much thought goes into your posts and how frequently you post.

…So, why I have been so absent then? Hahaha, self-deprecating jokes…

Well, actually, a big part is just I didn’t have reliable internet for a good month, which I would need to post on my blog… But, you know, first world problems.

In all seriousness, what’s been going on in my life? Whelp, I finally… got… a…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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A job that meets my current life goals, that meets my inner-checklist, that must–somewhat–align with God’s plan for me, that I love! And I could NOT be happier!!! Ahhhhhh, excitement!!!!!

I remember when I first saw the job ad, thinking the description matched what I could do and what I wanted to do in a professional setting, and deciding to apply–despite seeming like a long shot. Not because I thought the job was too high above my reach (she said modestly), but because, like all other jobs I was applying for, I thought I would get lost in the pile of all other applicants–despite the position seeming like a good fit, despite the fact I was well-qualified. There just always seemed to be someone else, someone who was more qualified, more of a fit. Someone better.

Except this time, I was the someone better. Er, rather, the someone who was right. God has been challenging my personal and professional goals, making me question my calling, trying my patience. But, as many months of self-doubt and heartache as His plan caused me, His timing was perfect. As always. Yet we always seem to fail to trust this promise.

Just when all hope seemed lost, just when I thought I was to resign myself to a field of teaching, that I wasn’t, in fact, good enough to work in writing or communications, He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. Well… maybe not a lifetime in general, but an opportunity of my lifetime–especially in my current state (I mean I’ve only lived just under a quarter of a century; I’m sure I haven’t been faced with all opportunities yet).

I am still in such awe that is this blessing. It has turned into so many good things, that I find myself nearly speechless when it comes to describing the ins and outs of my profession. Side note: haven’t you every noticed how easy it is to divulge, to drone on when it seems the world is against you? When one bad thing after another inconveniences your happiness? Yet, when just the opposite occurs, when life seems to be at is grandest yet, it’s difficult to elaborate much beyond a shrug and a “life is good.”

But life really is good! This job really has proven to have the means to make me happy–in more ways than one. I get to focus on my writing and also further develop my skills in graphic design, fundraising, and social media (lots of development in the latter–professional Facebooking is hard…). I work directly with those I aim to serve, finding new ways to help them whether it be constructing and sharing their life story, preparing them for a citizenship exam, encouraging them to aid in fundraising events, and, yes, sometimes even teaching an English class or two. I do a little bit of everything, even with my communications focus; there’s always something that can be done, someone who needs help, and we certainly like to share the load in the nonprofit world. I really get to help people using my talents, including through my love of writing; and yet, still seem to do so much more. This job is everything to me.

Not to say the transition to this point hasn’t been anxiety-inducing. I had to tie-up loose ends back home–negotiate changes with an additional current job; tell friends and family and (what felt like promptly) say goodbye–and forge new beginnings in a home away from home–find a place to live; determine a budget on my minimal wages and ever-increasing debt; get trained on the job–along with all the yucky, unplanned chaos guaranteed to happen at some point during rapid, changeful transitions like this. And the emotions, oh the emotions.

I was filled to the brim with so many–mostly excitement–at the prospect of this seemingly too-good-to-be-true job, of gaining independence, of piecing a living together for myself. But as my start date drew near and prospect began to feel a little more like a reality, after getting my apartment application approved, moving all my furniture and books and knick knacks across the state, anxiety set in. Like, times a million more than normal. Shocking, I know, that anyone would feel so nervous in any given life-altering situation. But having anxiety already during normal, tranquil times plus discomforting changes plus multiple big life transitions happening at once… let’s just say, I was pretty much bound to suffer from serotonin overload by the time the big Night Before came around. But I think that baggage can be unpacked in a later post. Let’s keep with these good feelings for awhile, eh?

Life is grand, God is so, so good, and I couldn’t be happier–on a professional front. So now’s probably time to focus on the aspects of life that got grossly neglected during this crazy hullabaloo, like my relationship with God and health and well-being and personal goals I’m looking to meet… Of course, this happens to be right around The Most Wonderful Time of the Year… followed by The Most Solvable Time of the Year (i.e. When All the New Year’s Resolutions Come Out to Play). Let’s hope I’ll remain close to mine.

Stay thankful, stay blessed, stay good, Dear Readers. And Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

So… What Now?

My heart is trying to break free from my chest it’s beating so hard, so fast. I can hardly catch my breath. And my caffeinated beverage I’m consuming while writing this certainly isn’t helping, but everyone has their vices.

My little anxiety gremlin has been popping up more and more the past few days and I can’t seem to push him down no matter what I do. Much to the dismay of my sanity, I think time is really the only cure for this case of nerves.

To bring my Dear Readers up to speed: Recently, I accepted a very fortuitous job offer that has met all of my criteria so far. Seriously, like, nearly all my boxes are checked. It’s a job involving multiple facets of communication–including writing. It’s with an honorable organization with honorable values. Said organization is a non-profit (though that’s more of a bonus than a requirement). It’s all for a cause I really believe in and can passionately work for. Check… Check… CHECK!

Really, there isn’t anything really wrong with this position other than it pays like a non-profit position. Actually, less. But, funny enough, that’s not my main concern. That’s not why I’m fighting to catch my breath or brushing my hand against my bed comforter in an attempt to ground my body. No. Weirdly, this introverted, self-proclaimed loner-I mean, independent being is worried about being… independent. A major piece of criteria this job requires.

Said job is a couple towns over from my hometown–not too far to visit my loved ones as much as I want, but far enough that I can’t really justify commuting everyday. Said job required a relocation. In other words, I had to move. Er rather, I have moved. And I actually start this new job tomorrow (now today when you’ll read this).

I’m alone in my temporary home away from home finally, truly on my own for the first time ever. Unlike college when I was at least still in my hometown and consequently knew and even went to high school with some of my classmates, here I know no one. So not only am I all moved out off to start my first Big Girl Job after college, but my independent living feels more like solitary confinement than blissful introvert-time. Perhaps because I’m not really choosing to be alone as much as I am left alone by circumstance.

To a degree that is at the far back of my mind right now, I am excited to finally be making progress, to making waves in my career and life’s purpose and, I suppose, “adulting.” But getting there isn’t feeling quite how I thought it would feel. No one really talks about this part–the time between aspiring to breakout from the parents’ scope and officially being on one’s own and being relatively successful. No one talks about the heart-racing, mind-numbing transition between the two. No one talks about the living in a hotel eating only Ramen, twiddling their numbs and occasionally suffering from a panic attack while blogging about it while secretly wishing they could be back home in their own bed, their own room, talking with their family about pointless nothings.

Maybe that’s because no one is quite desperate enough to admit such things on their public (read: incredibly personal) blog. Except me.

…I miss my Mom… I’m going to go, uh, try some deep breaths now.

Hang in there, Friends. I pray you are doing better than I this week.

 

What Makes People So Scary?

Halloween is almost here! Meaning, for some, it’s a time for scaring and to be scared. But if you have anxiety, you’re pretty much scared most of the time–regardless of the date on the calendar.

Now, I don’t know about you, but, personally, I find people to be scary. Sometimes. Now, this isn’t so much because of the current state of the world or the fact that, hypothetically, pretty much everyone has the potential to harm one another… in a life-threatening manner. No, none of that; though that certainly isn’t helping the situation. No, my mysterious yet unremarkable fear is that darn social anxiety disorder (SAD) I possess and talk so much about on here.

Why, what were you thinking?

In a nutshell, my SAD evokes a steady stream of nervousness and excessive worrying anytime I’m around people–most often during situations that are either unfamiliar and/or very public and heavily populated. But don’t get me wrong, dear family and friends can certainly induce feelings of anxiousness within me too. There’s no need to feel left out here, my Readers!

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In all honesty, however, my SAD isn’t such a disturbance in my life anymore–believe it or not. I have learned how to live, how to thrive with this disorder; I have developed mechanisms to cope with symptoms, I have accepted my anxiety, I have come to embrace my anxiety, and, what has been especially helpful, I’m better able to identify and ideally avoid situations in which my SAD is likely to fester–and be okay with avoiding said situations. And most of the time, I am able to avoid excessively social scenarios with ease. But, sometimes, there’s just no avoiding people.

Recently, I attended a community play in which a close friend of mine was performing. I love plays–especially musicals, which this was–as they are really a lot like more organic movies (And who doesn’t love movies?). Everything is so much simpler; you get to witness the passion and work put into the show by the cast and crew in real time; plus, the music is nearly always uh-mazing! And so, so catchy. Basically, it doesn’t take me much to go see a play, much less a musical. And hey, bonus, I get to support my super talented bud. Why not go?!

Well… you see… the thing is… my super amazing, musical bestie is on the very outgoing end of the introversion spectrum. As in she can be super bubbly and energized for hours on end and not appear deterred and, as some strange side effect, she can make friends wherever she goes–including the members of her theatre group whom she has only known maybe a couple months. And, well, after the show, she wanted me to go out with her and these new friends. And… I think you know where this is going.

I couldn’t bring myself to say yes. Hanging out with everyone would have meant so, so much to her and, most likely, I would have enjoyed listening to everyone’s banter. Side note: I don’t know what it is about theatre kids, but they just have this charm about them that makes me momentarily wish I were more extroverted/outgoing/laugh-out-loud-and-love-life-esque in demeanor. If I were born an extrovert, I’d like to think maybe I would have been a theatre. An ensemble member, not a full role. Anyways, digression…

Any introvert in this scenario could happily say no to their friend and not bat an eye. Regular introverts are typically more comfortable with their introversion (e.g. not being around others, needing to recharge, placing introvert needs over simple pleasures of slightly more extroverted friends). But the curse of SAD is those with it care too much about the feelings of others and do, in fact, wish to be more extroverted; they want to change in the way of being more positively judged (read: liked). Basically, in this case, someone with SAD may have said yes to their friend to please them yet felt entirely awkward and anxious the rest of the night out.

Upon foreseeing that lovely outcome, I declined my friend’s invitation. And, knowing each other as long as we have, she understood and respected my decision! Yay! She’s so awesome! But thinking more about things afterwards, I got to wondering why am I so afraid of people? Granted, in this instance, the scary people would have been new and mostly boisterous and, well, scary. But, ultimately, I wonder why I have to be so afraid of people in general? Why my SAD makes me afraid of people? What makes them so scary to me in the first place? Whether they are new or not, or kind or not? What’s the problem?

WHY ARE WE AFRAID OF PEOPLE?!?!!!?

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Whelp, my buddy my pal Google had some relatively helpful, albeit technically unofficial, information… You may recall a previous question-centric post of mine in which I inquired about why we care about what others think of us, because apparently one of my favorite past times is to ask the unanswerable kinds of questions. I did not find any one concrete answer to that inquiry, much like I did not find a cohesive to this, but there is some overlap that I think may be useful… Or not.

Much like our desire to be liked and fear of being disliked, the correlated fear of people in general can also stem from both genetic and environmental factors. Nature vs. nurture, huzzah!

From a biology standpoint, our brain can be incorrectly wired to categorize people in a negative sector early on. Then, as we get older, we continue to associate people with bad experiences and thus, fear people, and consequently avoid them as much as possible. But actively avoiding people? That’s just silly…

Think about it: if you are bit by a dog at a young age, you have a negative experience. Thus, you may associate all dogs with bad experiences and consequently fear and attempt to avoid all dogs as much as possible. Not as backwards when you put it that way. Of course, in this example, the fear was set in motion by an external event not already festering within the crevices of your brain. Which brings me to…

The irrational fear of people can emerge following a negative event, a “triggering event” if you will. This is when you may have been perfectly content interacting with people, but then a negative experience–a dog bite–tarnishes your view, corrupts your mindset, conditioning you to believe people are bad, thus affecting your behavior when forced to approach those terrifying, evil homo sapiens. Or something.

These theories of cause–nature or nurture–are nothing I haven’t heard before. But one result I found, a social anxiety forum (So reliable, I know, but people really make for the best research–ethnography, anyone?) provided a more original morsel of wisdom.

Fear of something can be caused by a lack of understanding, remaining unaware about that something. In this case, being afraid of people may truly be an effect of simply not understanding people, their minds, their behaviors. Or, in some cases even, not understanding oneself.

There’s that adage that goes something along the lines of “How can you expect others to love you if you don’t love yourself?” or something as equally cheery yet good-intentioned. But further thought suggests that those who have negative views of themselves are wont to hold similar views of other people–all due to the lack of understanding of the human population.

To combat this, in order for others to admire, value, and maybe even understand you, you must first learn to value yourself. You must embrace your attributes, faults, quirks–and everything in-between, and learn to become self-aware if not accepting of what makes you you. And if you do that, then you can do the same with people, and step onto the road of understanding them and perhaps not be so afraid of them any longer.

Each of these theories stems from truth; likely, the fear of people is affected by a little bit of everything–biology, environment, self-esteem. I believe that everyone who possesses this fear has a little bit of all these factors–and probably more–combating their view of people, with the intensity of each varying from person to person.

With so many factors working against you, it can seem impossible, even undesirable to change, to not be so fearful. But I believe it is possible. I know that, to some degree, it is possible. I’m not sure my fear of people will ever be totally evaporated, but I truly believe it has diminished and will continue to diminish over time. I mean look at me–I used to hardly talk to anyone ever at all in my preschool days unless spoken to first, and now I randomly say hello to people I pass by on the street. Granted, I still won’t go out with my friend’s friends (i.e. strangers), but, you know, baby steps…

I still find people scary; this newfound information hasn’t changed that. No matter how irrational I believe my fear to be, my SAD can’t simply dissipate. But I have a better idea of what I can do to counsel it, to face and to challenge my fear, so that maybe it won’t seem so intense or inconvenient or just downright silly at times. So that maybe the next time my friend invites me to hang out with some of their friends…

I might actually say yes.

So until then, it’s time to practice more self-love and understanding.

Stay loving, Friends!

What’s Wrong With Being Alone?

For as long as I can remember, spending time alone has been viewed as a less than ideal way to pass the time. I have never known a time in my short life where hanging out with just your fine self has been deemed fully, socially acceptable; I think the closest we’ve come to showing even a little tolerance to those chronically independent is the here and now–and that’s not saying much. We’ve still got a looooong way to go, my Friends.

Seriously, since when did alone become synonymous with sad, weird, loser? From what I can tell, a large part of this stems from the romantic scene, as, traditionally, one was expected to find a mate to live the 9-to-5, 2.5 kids, white picket fence dream. And those unsuccessful in designating at least one person with whom to saddle their baggage were, technically speaking, unable to fully complete the job-family-home trifecta and consequently deemed weird. And even though we’ve mostly moved away from this gross misguidance on the romantic and otherwise fronts, there still seems to be remnants of that loneliness stigma today–present in the most miniscule of ways mind you, but present none-the-less.

Here and there throughout the media, it is not uncommon to find books or articles or TEDTalks on the benefits of alone time and the factually accurate data to support such claims–essentially media love for the introverts and loners of the world that factually validates their behavior. The masses have slowly come to grips with not only being okay with spending time by themselves, but also publicizing this behavior so as to reaffirm its socially acceptable status. There’s something wrong with this picture, though–we’re under the false pretense that we need permission from others to engage in a healthy, necessary behavior to move forward and to feel comfortable doing so. I don’t think that’s how this is supposed to work… We should be doing this anyway–sans permission and (in my case) anxiety over the approval of others. But, trust me, even when we step out into the world alone and attempt to convey confidence, there always seems to be someone beyond the horizon ready to take you down a peg. I mean, take my experience for example…

I am an EXTREME introvert with the occasional outgoing tendencies in comfortable social situations. But the majority of the time, when I am at home (i.e. Introvert Haven), I spend ALL THE FREE TIME alone, holed up in my room. Okay, not all the time, but a vast majority of it. It’s pretty much been that way since I was a wee lass. In college I spent even more time in my room. Then less, as I became slightly more comfortable with my surroundings and more outgoing. Then a little more again as I need time to recharge, time to spend with myself. After college and during my life of employment the pattern has continued–more, than less, now more again. I know, I’m super cool (read: antisocial). But that’s the thing–I’m an extreme introvert in terms of how much alone time I need to recharge. And I haven’t gotten the impression many people understand that.

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Because I was most often in my room whenever I was home, I acquired the lovely endearment: Hermit. Younger me did not initially understand what this meant, but she became disenchanted with the moniker pretty quickly. My family couldn’t (still can’t) fathom my preference to spend all my free time alone, away from them. And, in all fairness, I couldn’t either; I love my family and friends, and I loved spending time with them, but the need to be by myself in my room, in my world, was simply innate. Nowadays, I have a few more answers for my family and other loved ones that maybe you more introverted introverts will appreciate.

I don’t know what it is, but as I’ve gotten older especially, I have found people incredibly draining–even people whose company I enjoy greatly, though the level of energy varies person to person. I don’t even have to be interacting with others–just being around them seems to wear me out. A day full of indirect and purposeful socialness through school/work/additional engagements takes its toll. Plus, when I’m around people, I’m pretty optimistic, cheery, and, occasionally, bubbly. That also takes a lot out of me, as when I’m by myself, I am more quiet, laid-back; thus the need to be bubbly is pretty unnecessary.

A quiet, people-less space gives me ample freedom to do my favorite, introvert things, like read, write, create, be with God, watch movies, listen to music, etc. Some of these can technically be done with others present, but that’s not always ideal–especially if these nearby spectators are talkers. Look, as an introvert, I’m all about the deep, analytical, out-of-this-world discussions. But when I’m in My Zone writing or watching a movie, I am at peace, a peace that I don’t want interrupted with mindless chatter. But, let’s be honest, that’s kind of rude to admit, so it just seems easier (read: more polite) to do these introvert things away from the crowd in my Introvert Haven.

The best thing about being in my haven-esque room for me, though, is the temporary respite I receive from my social anxiety. As I’ve mentioned on my beloved blog, social anxiety can oftentimes feel as though you have your own private audience with its members’ eyes trained on you at all times. Every little thing you do becomes a public act. Talk about high pressure. Granted, this can happen even when there’s no one around, but in my room, I’m often the only occupant and who else are we more comfortable to be around than ourselves? It’s a moment of bliss to have the microscope off me for awhile and it is alone in my room where I am gifted that bliss.

Basically, alone time to me is unbelievably amazing not to mention vital to our health–I’m just a more extreme case. But there is one more point I’d like to add to this already verbose post before I exit stage right…

Sometimes, even when we’re with people as mandated by society, we’re not really with one another. Sure, we’re all together in the same room, but it’s not often everyone is interacting and/or fully engaged in the interaction. There’s often a buffer of some kind, be it a book or movie or phone or background noise; a lot of times people are invested in some type of non-human-related outlet even if they may be physically present among other humans. Basically, you’re spending time alone–you’re just around other people. I call it: Introverting in the Same Room. But because this version of introversion appears more social (and consequently less hermit-esque), it’s deemed more widely acceptable.

Hmmmmm… Just something to think about.

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Have a wonderful week, Friends! Remember to spend some time with yourself, being alone, NOT lonely.

So, you want to teach?

The sole, minor–and believe me, this is minor–regret I have about studying English in college stems from the assumptions people make about my career path. Or lack thereof. Granted, this can happen with any major. And, granted, these assumptions seem to arise due to a lack of understanding or an understanding that is centered around one experience the presumptuous have with said major. But, that does not make it okay to assume my course of study and potential careers based on the name of my major… Even though, let’s be honest, that’s pretty much what everyone does (Oh, you’re biology major? So, you’re going to be a doctor, right?!)

Let’s think back to 20 seconds ago when I informed (read: reminded) you of my decision to pursue a degree in English. Depending on how much you know about studying and making a career out of this subject, there is a chance your mind wandered to books or writing or, most commonly–at least in my experience–teaching.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have told family, friends, random strangers of my plans to pursue an English degree and been met with: “Oh, so you’re planning to teach?”

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NO!!! NO I AM NOT! STOP ASKING ME THAT!!!!!

Okay, obviously I don’t respond quite as…passionately as that. But the feelings I work to contain pretty much resemble those of Michael Scott learning poor, dear Toby has returned to the office. For one, I am disenchanted, to say the least, that so many misinformed individuals assume the primary job for an English major is to teach. And, on a more personal note, I cannot fathom why anyone who knows me would think I’d be a teacher. Like, have you met me? I’m not exactly what you call assertive, domineering, aggressive. If anything, I’m passive-aggressive.

Actually, could you imagine a passive-aggressive teacher? That’d be the funniest thing ever! Okay, but really.

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I know, to a degree, I could make a… passable instructor. But, if we’re being honest, I would not be a top-notch teacher, not positively impactful, not personally content. Trust me, I know.

Because, PLOT TWIST, I’m a teacher… Sort of.

I am an assistant teacher for English as a Second Language classes in my hometown, as said hometown is considered a safe space for refugees to reside, build new lives, and, well, learn the English language–and maybe some American-isms–along the way. Basically, we have a high need for English language learning, and thus, offer multi-tiered English courses to meet this need.

I joined this program during my first year of college. My alma mater prioritizes learning through service projects and community involvement, often providing if not requiring students to partake in giving back. And it’s pretty awesome! But anyway, through a course I took on intercultural communication, I was connected with the English as a Second Language program in my town. And, though scary at first, it was not long before I was smitten with helping others, with serving my students.

To hear gleeful laughter from a student when they understand a new concept, to see the prideful glow on a student’s face when they receive high marks on an assignment, to speak with them in English long after they have left my class, a strong sign of continual studying and improvement–it all just warms my heart. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the relationships among students; natives from across the globe who hold vastly different experiences, different stories, different beliefs, getting along like old chums–especially when they live in a place where many can’t have different tastes in music without exchanging death threats, but that’s for another rant post–truly fuels my passion for kindness and for service. So much so that I have remained an assistant teacher for these courses, as a volunteer, ever since that first year in college.

Even still, all of these pros to this assistantship have not formed some newfound desire within me to become a full-time, head instructor. Funny enough, I have found myself in a part-time assistant teaching position for an ESL course–on top of my current volunteer position. Though the context of this new classroom is a bit different, the pros have remained the same. And though the pros have remained the same, I am not especially gratified as an official assistant. Perhaps because I am given more freedom to instruct, to lead. Things that, one-on-one or indirectly, I am happy to do. But to be socially anxious yet placed in front of about 20 strangers and required to tell them what to do? That just isn’t me, that is not a gift in which I feel I can most effectively help people.

So no, I don’t want to teach. Even after trying my hand at it for several years now, in more ways than one. I think I’ll remain a passive-aggressive volunteer instructor and leave the aggressive-aggressive to those who truly aspire to be lead teachers. Meanwhile, I’ll be praying this position isn’t God telling me to become a teacher…

Then, I guess the question becomes: “So… you want to… write books?”

…Sigh… Just, don’t. Don’t even get me started.

Have an angst-free week, Friends!

The Kind Rejection

Such is the norm in my current realm, rejections are not too difficult to come by when applying for ALLLLLL THE JOBS! It just seems to be a part of the process… a big part of the process… like, a big enough part I should start a “Wall of Rejections” like my parents did back in their post-graduate days. But in all honesty, I can’t even handle someone looking at me funny without getting riled up about it, much less face a wall of “No’s” every morning when I wake up. I just. Can’t. Oh, sadness… Right, rejections.

Something I have noticed more and more in my recent rejections is… they are kind of borderline, passive aggressively rude. I know, coming from someone who is highly sensitive to criticism, this isn’t much of a groundbreaking revelation or likely to be taken seriously. But think about it. Really think about it.

So many rejections that many amazing, talented, and often qualified job candidates receive are written in a style that can make them feel like anything but the catch they are. And I find that heartbreaking.

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Using myself as an example, I worked nearly the entirety of college–I prioritized my studies to complete two majors and a minor in four years; I took on multiple internships to gain experience in my field; I held officer positions in several committees at my university; I found time to give back to my community between studying and working. I’m AMAZING (she said humbly) and I have little to show for it in the job market. There are many graduates from my class who did all I did and more within four years and even for them the result is the same–nada. We are all still getting passed over for candidates who are “more qualified,” “better equipped,” and “more experienced” than US.

Granted, that last part most rejections have the decency to exclude, but it is pretty strongly implied. Essentially, you’re pretty great, but just not quite good enough. Almost, but not quite. But, you know, good luck on that job search. You’ll make someone out there very happy. Just not us. And, sure, a couple messages like this is okay… I guess. But when everyone is consistently telling you how neat you are but just not for them, you’re pretty much left in the dust, inadvertently turned away by everyone (each under the false pretense that someone out there will hire you). You see, that system doesn’t really work, yet it’s the system we have.

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Awesome people feel not quite as awesome because they are only reminded of what they lack, not what they hold that is of value, and, even then, they are reminded in the vaguest way possible. Which is why I propose The Kind Rejection. As in, yes, it’s still a rejection (you’re not going to get a secret job offer while being told no–even if it’s a nice no), but it is a rejection that is worded nicely, politely, honestly, and detailed.

Why not take the time to detail a candidate your reasoning for not selecting them for the job rather than simply brushing over the justification with a vague phrase? “Underqualified”? What key qualifications were they missing? “Inexperienced”? What kind of experience would you like to see? Essentially, what can a candidate do to receive strong consideration for the job in question or a similar job? Don’t simply call out a recipient for what they lack and leave it at that. What are they lacking specifically? What would you like to see more of in this candidate if you were to receive an application from them in the future?

But don’t stop there. Why not balance out the negative with something positive, something complimentary–pun not intended? It’s likely there is at least something to like about the rejected job candidate; tell them so. Everyone is awesome in some way. What did you find particularly intriguing about this person? Do they have strong writing skills? Are they are incredibly personable? Are they are highly software savvy? Tell them. But then also tell them how they can further develop this strong suit, how can they can highlight their top qualities. In other words, what does this candidate need to do to be more awesome or how can they play up their awesomeness?

Lastly, there may be a little something extra you may want to tell the candidate, some helpful advice to offer. You began your rejection with why you didn’t choose the candidate, what they were lacking, and then you reminded said candidate of their talents. But now, if you want to be especially helpful, you must advise the candidate on, essentially, how they can be better, how they can improve–without making them feel like they are a less than individual. Whether this be elaboration on an aforementioned lack of job experience or a top-notch strength or a suggestion on the candidate’s next career move or maybe advice on what not to do at their next interview, your can hold real power–especially if you can offer it wrapped in a positively-worded package.

All in all, the biggest priority in The Kind Rejection–aside from the rejection itself–is to be kind. Of course you have a job to do aside from rejecting job candidates, you have other responsibilities. But there is no reason why this part of the job cannot be done in a positive manner. Aside from merely doing what is right and honest and good, you should want to provide a candidate with a kind rejection so as to maintain positive relations.

Clearly, this individual is interested in your organization and though they may not have been a sufficient fit for one of the current jobs offered, they may be ideal for a future position. If you were consistently honest and kind to this person during the initial hiring and rejection processes, they will be more likely and willing to try their hand at an alternate position with your organization in the future. You get a super awesome employee to hold a job at your organization and the previously rejected candidate gets a job–all thanks to kind critiques and advice offered through your Kind Rejection. Win-win!

If you ask me, you really can’t go wrong with this idea. Certainly, you can’t do any worse than telling me I’m essentially not enough for a job, or not as good as someone else. So The Kindness Rejection is at least worth a shot, right?!

So, was this pitch okay? Did I win you over? …Oh, I don’t have enough experience in sales? There’s someone with more relevant experience than I? Okay… I’ll just wrap up all my hopes and dreams in this ole college degree of mine and see myself out…

Hire me, Friends… Please.

I Don’t Know How to Do This

It’s been officially one week since I’ve been technically unemployed. No internship, no freelance work, nothing. And, to put things simply, it’s a really, really difficult place to me.

Thinking about it, I’ve been employed in some way, full-time, part-time, temporary, internship, paid, unpaid, office hours, freelance for the past five consecutive years. I have been gaining real life experience, creating real, solid work to stuff into my portfolio–all to eventually gain an oh-so-inspiring job in my field for the past five years. Only to fall flat.

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Getting there…

Now I have no job, no income, no prospects. Just a degree…and, you know, some marketable work experience. And, for some reason, without that ideal job, I feel like I have next to nothing. No, not for some reason–I know the reason. And not next to nothing, I know I have something. But without my Great Job, my mission, my great, big purpose, what I have outside of a career, doesn’t feel like much.

If you look back on one of my last posts, I’ve really made the effort to enjoy this new phase of life–I travel, I spend more one-on-one time with my family, I read–for fun. Okay, so I’m still pretty lame, but I’m definitely enjoying my open schedule. Until it became too open, even for me.

I’m to the point where my unemployment state is getting dangerously close to ruining a lot of the progress I had made with my mental health while in college; it’s becoming unhealthy on a physical level even. I sleep in, like really sleep in. A lot. My diet is terrible. Self-care is minimal. Motivation is inconsistent. My schedule is so open that there’s really no schedule anymore. And instead of being excited, feeling free because of it, I’m just a mess. Because, at heart, I’m a doer. I need to be doing something. Something worthwhile. Not just whatever this is right now.

Look, I know I look like one of those workaholics, someone who places so much into their career that they couldn’t care less about anything else in life. And, to some extent, I can be that. But I promise, a job isn’t all I want out of life and isn’t all I have been getting out of life. But when you combine the fact that I’m a recent grad with my personality, you get someone who isn’t merely looking for a way to make rent, but someone who wants to make a difference for others all-the-while staying close to their personal values. A good portion of my work experience has been spent merely amping up my skills and not prioritizing the cause of my workplace. So, I made a vow upon graduating, that I wanted my next job to pertain to a cause about which I’m passionate…

…and I think I’m learning the hard way that that goal is just going to have to wait yet another job change (read: job, not career change). Yes, a good reason I’m still awaiting prospects several months following graduation is that I’m trying to hold out for that ideal job. But I also want to at least somewhat use my degree. Those two factors shouldn’t be so limiting in my quest for post-graduate employment; actually they’re not, looking at the varying results from my job searches. It’s just that those factors plus me, new graduate…don’t seem to result in my favor.

I totally get it; I’m a new grad with impressive experience but not with the vast, hardcore extensive experience you need. I’m a risky hire. But also, like, how am I supposed to obtain that hardcore experience if no one’s willing to give me a chance? This phase of life is becoming so frustrating, trying, and downright heart-wrenching.

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To hear you aren’t good enough or that while you are impressive, you’re just not as good as someone else is already pretty damaging to the self-esteem. But to be met with the same degrading comments a half dozen times each week for nearly three months? The rejection really starts to take its toll. All those comments begin to feel like the truth, like you really aren’t good enough. And I don’t know how much more I can take.

I know I haven’t found my first post-grad job for a reason. But I’m becoming unnervingly antsy with God and His Plan while I wait. And the looming debt of student loans is a pretty big part of it…

Take care, Readers. Meanwhile I’ll be here poring over job postings and inhaling Ramen…