Monday, August 18, 2014

A Tale of an Introvert Working in Res Life

After a fantastic summer interning in Washington D.C., I'm back! Interested in reading about my D.C. experiences? Well, in the interest of time, just read my other blog that was created for the purposes of documenting my time there: 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.

For the last two weeks I've been in CA training, getting ready for my final year in res life. However, this year I am in a new role as a Hall Director, which is super exciting and super exhausting at the same time. Now, let me just say, I have a love-hate relationship with CA training. I love it because I get to see most of my college friends in one place and am able to catch up with them after a summer apart. I've missed my Morris friends loads and it's great to be back with them again. Also, I love meeting and bonding with everyone on staff. Particularly, this year, it's super fun to see how everyone interacts and gets to know each other because I was involved in the hiring process. However, despite all the awesome aspects of it, I really hate CA training, primarily because it is not introvert friendly. Not at all. Over the past year, I've become a pro at taking care of myself and recognizing when I need time alone to recharge. However, it becomes exceedingly difficult to do that during training because, the majority of the time, I'm running on a schedule that someone else created. We are constantly going, going, going, and even though we do have down time, I've wanted to utilize a lot of that to spend time with the friends I haven't seen all summer and to get to know new staff members better. Also, sleep. Haven't gotten much of that with all the Hall Director stuff I need to prepare. I'm not working out as much either because I don't have the time or I'm too exhausted when I do have time. So, needless to say, I have been failing at properly taking care of myself.

Today I had a bit of a breaking point. I didn't see it coming and it just sprang up upon me. It's not surprising as I have been over exerting myself way too much and last night I stayed up late waiting for some international students to arrive to campus from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. Morris is about three hours away from The Cities and international students obviously don't plan their flights around the sleep schedules of those people who will be checking them into their res halls. So, in the week or so before school starts, we have some late nights waiting for them to get here. I was on call last night so it was my responsibility to greet them when they arrived. However, they didn't arrive. I was kind of peeved that Res Life wasn't notified that these people wouldn't be coming since I did end up getting way less sleep than I would have liked, though I didn't let that get to me too much. After all, there was nothing I could do about it.

So, anywho, during the morning today, I was fine other than being a little tired. However, when we came back from lunch and started into our next activity, I started to feel really on edge. It probably didn't help that it's really humid today and we did this activity outside. Not super comfortable. I got really crabby all of the sudden and knew that if I said anything to anyone, it would just be mean and rude. I wanted nothing more than to go back to my room and have some serious alone time. However, as a hall director, I felt obligated to stay there. After spending a good while feeling crabby, I all the sudden began to feel unbelievably overwhelmed and then felt like I was going to cry, which I did (for those of you who don't know, I'm a very emotional person and those emotions tend to manifest themselves in situations where I'm feeling super overwhelmed). My boss took note of this and allowed me to go back to my room for a little bit, thankfully.

I went back to my room, took a shower, and started to blog and little bit because I knew I needed to write to feel better. When I went back to meet with my staff, it became apparent that I wasn't the only one who was feeling burned out. Everyone was exhausted, even the more extroverted individuals. It's been a long couple weeks. I love my job and I want to enjoy my last year in res life as much as possible, but it can be taxing, especially for more introverted individuals. Once I'm able to schedule more of my own time, I'll be better off. There are only four more days and freshman move in day is on Sunday! Eek! So much to do before then!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

100 Days of Happy: A Recap

   I'M FINISHED! Boy am I glad to be done with this project. Yes, it was a very good experience, but let me tell you, it's not easy taking a picture of something that makes you happy for 100 days. Some days were definitely easier than others. Some days were total BS/a complete cheese fest (see days 89 and 24); some days I knew exactly what I was going to take a picture of before the day even began (see days 84, 83, 75, 71, 33, 27, 15, and 5); some days were a complete surprise (see days 96, 76, 26, and 4); and some days I just didn't try very hard, which completely shows (see days 98, 97, 89, 88, 79, and 63). Of course, I have my favorites, which number too many to write them all down (though day 100 and day 96 are two recent favorites).
   It definitely wasn't easy for me to continue on with this project at times, especially towards the beginning when I was feeling extremely anxious. I can tell you that some of the pictures taken during this project were taken simply because I was determined to make it through this project. They didn't necessarily make me happy, because I was either too anxious (near the beginning) or started to not give a shit (towards the end). Of course, none of the pictures made me unhappy as that would be besides the point; they still make up the good parts of my life, I just don't know if I'd go right to describing them as happy moments.

   I do know that keeping up with this project did help me get through my anxiety. It gave me a goal to work towards as I was simultaneously working towards a healthier me. Near the end, it did get to be a chore, especially since getting to D.C. when I've been so busy with my internship and getting settled in. However, no one said that the 100 Happy Days project would be easy. It was, in fact, the challenge that made me want to keep going. If it was easy, it wouldn't have been worth it. Not only was this project rewarding in that sense, but now I have a collection of snippets of my life from the last 100 days, sort of like a photo diary.

   I know I'll come back to my 100 Happy Days page on my blog and look back at this time fondly. It sure has been an adventure, despite the challenges it brought (including having my camera break right in the middle of the project and needing to find a back up camera ASAP). I know I've grown so much since beginning this project, as I was working through my anxiety at the same time, and I'm glad I decided to document this time of my life in this way. Yeah, I'm glad it's over (though I do admit it will be weird to not post a picture like this every day, as it has sort of become second nature), but I'm also so glad I went through with this project.

  100 Happy Days was definitely a worthwhile challenge. Is finding happiness going to be easier since going through with this? No, most certainly not. However, I think I have grown to appreciate the little things a little more. As I said earlier, I definitely didn't try very hard with some of these pictures. That doesn't mean that those pictures didn't make me happy. For instance, day 97 was a total cop out, but that doesn't mean listening to Passenger's new album didn't make me happy, because it totally did. Life isn't always about doing new and exciting things. Sometimes the best moments are the ones that are the most laid back and low key. Furthermore, my happiness isn't the same as yours. That's one of the reasons I chose to document this project on my blog instead of on facebook. I didn't want this to become an opportunity to show off to my facebook friends just how wonderful my life is, because despite this project, my life most certainly is not a complete joy ride. This project was for me as I worked through a rough time in my life; I gave people the option to look at my blog by providing links to it on facebook.

   I learned a lot through this project and, although I got tired of it towards the end, I did enjoy it overall. I hope that, if you chose to follow along with me on my journey, you enjoyed it too.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Not-So-Little Post About Books (and Just a Little Bit of Mad Men)

  Summer time... Ah! For me, this currently means some much needed introvert time between the busyness of the end of the semester and leaving for D.C. in a couple of weeks. This includes reading for fun and binge watching my current TV show of choice, which has been Mad Men for the last few months. After starting the show over winter break and slowly making my way through Season Two in the few moments that I found time to watch an episode during the semester, I finally made it to Season Three a couple of days ago. It's a surprisingly placid time in the life of the Draper family, despite some major life changes. Unfortunately, I've heard enough spoilers from later seasons that I know it wont last forever - and really, if you're at all familiar with the show, how much more placidity can you expect from Don and Betty?  While, enough of Mad Men, anyways. I'm probably boring you, especially if you don't watch the show.

  As an English and History major, I read a lot of books (the reading load for my history courses tends to be much denser than for my English courses, which surprises some people). I like to say that all I do in college is read and write, because it's pretty much true. Where I used to cringe at marking up my precious books with pencils - underlining important phrases and writing in the margins - it's become a pretty standard part of my daily life as a student. At the end of every semester, I always have this moment where, in the midst of beginning my first "book for fun," as I like to call them, I start in on my ritual action of grabbing a pencil or pen before reading, only to realize that I don't have to! I am not reading this book for academics, I am reading this for the pure joy of reading! While I deeply value what I have taken away from close readings and in class discussions of texts, when I'm reading for fun I don't want to think like an English major. Okay, in reality, it becomes exceedingly difficult as a soon to be fourth-year English student to turn my brain, which has been so wired in my undergraduate career to analyze and critique texts, off; however, when I'm reading for fun, I'm not actively looking for anything in the text, though often I'll comes across something in the text that is worthy of a mental note.
My current read: The House Girl

  So, naturally, I've been doing a lot of reading for fun. My friends from high school are all over the place (and in all honestly, I've only kept in constant touch with a few of them) and my college friends - well, they're all over the place too. Some have stayed in Morris, some have gone home, and some have started on exciting summer adventures - none of them are close enough to my hometown to meet up without some planning ahead. Also, as I stated before, I'm using these couple weeks before heading to D.C. as some serious down time. As an introvert, I desperately need it, especially since I'm soon heading to a big internship in a big city! Currently, I am reading The House Girl by Tara Conklin, my second "fun" book of the summer (my first "fun" book was We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter by Rachael Hanel, a Minnesota author; I picked up her recently published memoir after hearing her give a public reading from it at The Prairie Gate Literary Festivals, the annual literary festival we have at Morris). I discovered The House Girl in a book catalog that I picked up at the Stevens County Library in December, while I was on a mission to find and check out some movies with a friend. I eagerly looked through the catalog at that time, looking forward to winter break and all the reading time I would have then. An advertisement for The House Girl covered an entire page in the middle of the catalog. I was drawn to the pleasing cover (because, I do admit, I have the terrible tendency to judge a book by its cover), and the title of it suggested slavery or indentured servitude of some sort - it could only be a historical fiction novel, my favorite genre of fiction as the nerdy historian and history lover that I am. Sure enough, I was right - the house girl that the title references is indeed a slave in 1852 Virginia and the story follows her plans to run away, paralleled with a story taking place in New York City in 2004, where a young lawyer finds herself in a class-action suit working to seek reparations for descendants of American slaves. After receiving a gift card from Barnes & Noble in my Christmas stocking, I knew immediately that I had to purchase at least this book with the money. I've had The House Girl since late December, early January and have just found time to read it now; I must say, I'm very much enjoying it.

  I've always loved books, ever since I learned how to read. I've been collecting books since I was in fourth or fifth grade. I have somewhere around 300 books, slowly collected over the years, mostly with gift cards or my own allowance money (back in the day when I had an allowance). Now most of the books that are added to my collection are the school books that I liked well enough to keep. The majority of the books in my collections are children's or YA fiction, but I've been increasingly adding more general fiction geared towards adults as well as the classics, though I buy "books for fun" less than I used to because of my poor college student status and also because I spent most of my year reading books for school. All of these books are real, paper books, if this wasn't already clear. Books you can touch with your hands, feel the pages as you turn them, smell them (my fellow book nerds will understand this), really appreciating the tangibility of them. My parents (yes, my parents) make fun of me for still reading "real books." They have both converted to the (apparently) wonderful world of e-books (much to my chagrin - they, too, have an extensive library that extends throughout our house that I love to borrow from; now they are no longer adding to it because they have all of their books on their clouds, or whatever it's called). My dad tells me it's better for the environment (but that's what used book stores are for and plus, e-waste exists too - though I'm hardly an expert on that). My mom tells me you can save so much money because e-books are cheaper than real books and it also saves space (again, used book stores and Amazon and I don't care about space - a room full of books is my idea of heaven). My mom asked me what I was going to read in D.C. since it would be impractical to pack a bunch of books to bring with me. I said I'd find a library there if I even have time to read and she said, "It would be so much easier if you had an e-reader." Perhaps, but I don't want one.

  See, my problem with the e-reader is that it's just one more technological device that is taking over this already technologically heavy world. For me, a book is an escape from these technologies. I don't want to turn on another device just to read a book. It's ridiculous to me. I don't even have a smart phone (nor do I want one) but I spend enough time in front of a computer screen typing papers for school and communicating with people via e-mail and facebook (okay, just spending too much time on facebook in general), among other tasks that require a computer, preferably one with internet connection. Reading a book allows me some precious moments of simplicity away from this ever buzzing world. I don't think technology is a bad thing - in fact, it can be a very good thing in many different ways. However, I think humans are becoming entirely too dependent on it. One of my friends, who doesn't have a smartphone, told me recently that he was thinking of getting one simply because having a smart device is almost becoming a societal expectation - we went to a conference in January and in an effort to safe paper, the University that hosted the conference offered an online app for attendees to view the conference schedule. This really irked him because all he wanted to do was see the schedule but he didn't have a smartphone and therefore couldn't.

  Me? I'm holding off on these smart devices for as long as possible. There will probably come a day when I'll have to cave and get one given the direction our society is heading. Yes, I may have to buy a smart phone one day, but an e-reader - for as long as real, paper books exist, I'll take those over an e-reader any day please and thank you. I'm not trying to go on a rant against technology here, though it probably sounds like it. All I want is to express how important books are to me and how, in a sense, they lose part of their magic when converted to an electronic format. Well, you might say, a book is a book is a book, regardless of what format it's in. Yes, in a sense - the story doesn't change if you're reading a book on an e-reader after all. It's more the simplicity of sitting down with a physical book that is half the magic of reading, at least to me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Contemplations on My Meaning of Home

What a beautiful evening. Tonight I am writing to you from my floor's balcony, where I sit with sentimental thoughts for one of the last times. If you aren't aware, I have lived in the same residence hall for three years, which is the entirety of my college career so far. I started out here in Indy Hall as an excited and anxious freshman, ready for a new chapter in my life to begin and I am leaving here as a second year CA, soon to be Hall Director, a completely different person from the one I was when I arrived. Yes, I've complained plenty about spending three years in this building. I was slightly disappointed to be placed in Indy as a CA my sophomore year, but I was also really excited and thankful to be chosen for the job, as it is so competitive. Last year, I was more than a little upset when I found out I was placed here for another year. I'm on the other side of the building from where I was the last two years, but I was still disappointed; I love my CA job and I love living on campus - all I really wanted was to experience living in a different building on campus. It is really unheard of for CA's to spend three years in the same building; in fact, this year during the hiring process, it was made sure that returning CA's were all moved to different buildings, so I'm kind of an oddity in that respect.  When I found out I was hired for a Hall Director position in another building this year, I thought, FINALLY! I knew the Prostaff members who were hiring the Hall Directors wouldn't put me in Indy again if I was hired for an HD position, but it just felt so good to see it in ink. I was so vocal about getting out of Indy earlier this year that it probably got really annoying for the people who had to listen to it (sorry friends)!

Despite my incessant talk for the last three years about my need to get out of Indy, recently, I've been feeling quite sad about finally leaving it. This Sunday, I'll be moving out of David C. Johnson Independence Hall for good and I just don't know if I'm ready for that. Indy has been my home away from home for the last three years; although I know it's time to move on and I'm ready to experience another residence hall, I know I will miss Indy a lot. So much of my college experience has happened here. I've cried here, I've laughed here, and I've loved here. I will create a new home in my new hall next year, but it will never hold that special place in my heart that Indy has. Despite my complaining about living here for three years, I've discovered that I've really grown to love this hall. 

I've been thinking about the meaning of home a lot lately, not just in respect to Indy. I've recently come to the conclusion that I don't really have a home. Sure, I have my hometown where I still go to over breaks, but it doesn't really feel like home anymore. I've spent most of the last three years in Morris, where I attend school, and I spent my summers living with my grandparents in Northern Iowa, where I worked at the museum in their town. So, I think it's only natural that the extended amount of time that I've spent away from my actual hometown makes it feel less homey to me. Furthermore, recently my parents have been doing some renovations to the house where I've lived since I was fifteen; I came home over spring break to completely different furniture in the living room and some changes to the basement also. This only furthered the alienation that I had already been starting to feel towards my hometown. I consider Morris my home now, but I know that's only temporary. A year from now, I will be graduating and then where will I go next? Hopefully to graduate school, but who can say if that will work out. I recently was offered and have accepted a summer internship at the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. While I'm excited for this amazing opportunity, I'm also really anxious. I'm not quite sure where I will be living or who I will be living with. Also, I'm not a fan of cities. There's a reason I go to college in the middle of nowhere and I must confess that I am nervous about living in a city that I've only been to once before (around ten years ago!) when I've always felt more comfortable in more rural areas. 

Recently I was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder. That anxiety and depression I talked extensively about earlier this year? Yup, that was just  my adjustment order manifesting itself. I don't actually have general anxiety or clinical depression, which I was relieved to find out, but I do have a higher tendency to feel anxious or depressed when I'm going through periods of adjustment. It makes complete sense now that I know this - I've always been particularly sensitive to change (At 15, I did NOT take it well when I found out that my family was moving...and we were only moving around the block!) and I have been worried about my future a lot more lately, as I do only have one more year left of my undergraduate studies.  It's funny that, back in September when I started this blog up, I decided to call it "Letting the World Fall Into Place;" my whole life I've just wanted to know where my future will take me, so much so that it got in the way of enjoying the now. Basically the reason I started blogging was because, after my break up, I wanted to spend more time focusing on the here and now and I thought writing could help me with that. One of the big questions I had while going through the break up process was "What now?" My boyfriend had really been my whole life and when I finally realized I couldn't be with him anymore, I broke down - not so much because I wanted to necessarily stay with him, but because I had no idea where to go next. I had this whole life in front of me without him, and I was terrified. Looking back at this moment, I knew then that I had trouble with change, I just didn't know it could be diagnosed as an actual medical issue. That's why I started this blog and that's why I'm still writing here.

So, to go full circle here in my discussion of home, I've been thinking a lot about these last final days in Indy and how to make the most of them. I'm about to say goodbye to the one place in Morris that I've called home. Sure, I can visit it next year, but it wont be the same. Although I'm excited to move to a different hall, I know I'll miss Indy dearly. It has become my home; where will I call home after I leave it? I don't know if I'll be able to call Washington D.C. home, even a temporary home, because I don't know if I'll truly feel comfortable there. I don't know if I'll feel wholly comfortable calling my hall next year home because I associate that word so much with Indy. I don't know where home will be in a few years after I graduate from Morris and that scares me. However, I also know that I shouldn't have to worry about all those "What Ifs" now. While it is difficult for me to not worry about the future, I am going to try my best not to because this life is too short to spend time worrying. I want to let my world fall into place naturally, but I'm going to have to work extra hard to keep my hands off it as it does. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Some Thoughts About Writing

So, this whole night I've been itching for a topic to write on. It's been a couple weeks since I last posted so it's about time. Also, I've been spending a considerable amount of time on my blog because of my 100 Days of Happy picture project. Perhaps it's the fact that I log on to Blogger at least once a day to upload a picture that makes me happy, but I just really want to write. Trouble is, I have no idea what to write about.

I have a few ideas that I'm planning on writing about in the future, but I'm not ready to touch on those subjects quite yet for a few different reasons. So, that leaves me with what? A whole blog post of just rambling? I think not!

All writing has meaning, even if it doesn't seem like it. Right now, I'm working on my Honors Capstone Project, the final step in the Honors Program, so that I can graduate with honors in the spring of 2015. For this project, I've been looking at the letters of a prominent woman who lived in the town where my college is located from the 1880's until she died in 1951. She wrote consistently throughout her life, but I'm working with the letters that she wrote in the early 1880's, when she first arrived in Morris as a teenager. At first glance, these letters seem really mundane and uninteresting; they cover the often trivial aspects of daily life in a small prairie town in the late nineteenth century. However, after taking the time to delve into these letters, it becomes clear that they not only give an insight into prairie life in the 1880's, but they also have a wealth of a meaning all their own. They give a glimpse into what was important to the writer and the sender, and they have their own secrets - they make references to people and things that are often unclear and will need to be further understood with outside sources. Furthermore, the aspects of life that seem so mundane at first glance are unbelievably telling when trying to understand the way people lived and the way Morris was as a town during its early years.

 The letters I'm looking at for my project are a testimony to the fact that people are constantly choosing to write things down, whether they are writing a grocery list or a novel. These conscious actions go to show just how significant all writing is, even if it doesn't seem like it immediately. This is why the written word is so important; we have whole fields of scholarly work that are devoted to analyzing the written word because it is so unbelievably significant. Writing is a form of expression and it is one of the best ways to better understand the human psyche. This is why I have this blog; through writing, I learn more about myself. This blog is for me and though I get excited about the prospect of other people reading it, it's not the ultimate goal.

Though this blog is important for me, I also keep a paper journal. I don't write in it often, but when I do I can  spend hours writing up one entry. Blogs and other forms of electronic publishing are fantastic because they make written work easily accessible; however, I believe that sitting down and writing something with a pen and paper is so much more personal. Not only is it tangible, but a written letter or diary entry is magical in its own right. When I sit down to write something on the computer, it is so easy to edit my work, and I do edit it because I want to make sure it is the best work that it can be. Of course, this is pertinent when it comes to academic writing so I'm used to constantly editing as a student. As a scholar, I often print out my drafts to edit, especially when I'm writing major papers, but when I'm typing up my blog or writing an e-mail, it isn't necessarily convenient to do that so I simply end up editing my work electronically. However, in this process of electronic writing and editing, I believe that we lose a really magical aspect of putting pen to paper - with pen and paper, a person's thought process as they are actively writing is readily seen and that is super cool. We can see when a person messes up because words will be crossed out or there will be eraser marks. There is something about putting pen to paper that is so unbelievably raw and human. You don't get this with electronically typing something up. Inevitably, by the time I publish this post, I will have gone through and edited my work multiple times, looking for typos and changing any sentence structures that don't sound quite right, adding and deleting portions as I see fit. You wont get to see my thought process as I do this because you can't see any pen or eraser marks on a blog post. The final product is the only product on my blog.

There is something truly magical about sitting down with a pen a paper. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more of a lost art because people are continuously turning to their computer, smart phones, and tablets to write - whether it be correspondences, notes to self, or invitations. Because of this misfortune (and I am absolutely positive that it is a misfortune), I ask you, whoever you are, to please take some time to get a pen and paper out and simply write. Write a letter and send it through the mail, write a poem - it doesn't have to be a good poem - or simply make up a to do list. I hope you feel a sense of gratification in doing so. Technology has become increasingly significant in today's modern world, but with its rise, we have lost something truly special and meaningful in the form of hand written thoughts and correspondences.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Confessions of a Highly Sensitive Twenty-Something

  So, today I found this article on the internet:

     As I was reading through this, I couldn't help but think, "gosh, this describes my life to a T." Now, let me just say,  I've always recognized that I'm a very sensitive person, I just always saw it as a bad thing and can honestly say that I didn't really realize until reading this article moments ago that other people have similar experiences. This may sound silly - well, of course other people feel this way, you might say. I'm not the only person who experiences troubles in my life, after all! Of course I know this but, in my experience, when I'm feeling down for whatever reason, I tend to forget that other people are suffering from similar issues all over the world and many of them are probably much closer to me than I realize. I must remind myself now that being highly sensitive isn't bad at all; in fact, highly sensitive people are an asset to society - we are a reminder that the world of does emotions exists and that it is perfectly all right to explore this world; furthermore, it is okay to falter. I believe that our society is so caught up in this image of mental strength as always having everything figured out and never asking for help. However, as I have recently been learning as I struggle with my own anxiety issues, reaching out for help is in itself a sign of strength; furthermore, there is nothing wrong with a good cry.

   Many of the habits associated with highly sensitive people do come off as characteristics that our society typically associates with weakness. So, it's no wonder that I have viewed all 16 of these emotionally sensitive habits, all but one of which I was able to relate to in way or another (I couldn't relate to number 8 - I'm most definitely an introvert), in a negative light.  For instance,  I have the tendency to get choked up at the smallest things (a youtube video of some cute animals cuddling... yeah, that can do the trick) and it's very difficult for me to get through a serious conversation that directly involves me without bursting into tears and struggling for words through my sobs. Furthermore, I've always felt that I react towards certain events with more feeling than most people; things stick with me longer and I mull over them, which can profoundly affect how I view the world. To go alone with this, I have an extreme amount of empathy for people, which I believe leads to my weakest characteristic as an RA - I hate disciplining residents because even though my head tells me that they are breaking the rules and it is my responsibility to reprimand them for that, my emotions often get in the way and and I start to feel bad for them... even though I know they are breaking policy and they probably know it too, especially if it's a major policy violation! Of course, I still need to do my job or I'd be a crappy RA, it just is a lot harder as a highly sensitive person.  I do avoid criticism at all cost and have a tendency to take things way too personally; something as simple as a friend not responding to an important text message within a couple of hours can put me on edge because I feel like they aren't responding because of something personal that I did to them. I wouldn't think of calling them after a certain period of time because I become convinced that they don't want to hear from me. Even if I know this is ridiculous in my head at the time, my emotions often overpower me.  I have a profound dislike for violent/scary movies because, not only do they have too much negative emotional stimuli attached to them for my personal taste, but I also believe they are unnecessary in today's world, which already is full of too much real life violence. I've often been told that I come off as a extremely prim and proper; in fact, one of my dearest friends told me once that before she actually got to know me, she assumed I was basically a stuck up bitch because of the way I carry myself. Thank goodness she didn't let that impression of me keep her from eventually getting to know me better!  To go along with this, I am overly aware of not just my actions, but other people's actions - if people around me are being rude in some way, shape, or form - even if they don't realize it themselves - it annoys me to no end.

   I also suffer from anxiety, as I have already mentioned multiple times in other parts of this blog. That being said, I have a very serious issue with the very way number 10 is stated: 10. They're more prone to anxiety or depression (but only if they've had a lot of past negative experiences). The part in parentheses, which is expanded on in the adjoining paragraph as negative experiences in early childhood specifically, is completely untrue in my case and I actually find it somewhat insulting; my childhood was, for the most part, very enjoyable and free of any traumatic or negative experiences. While I'm sure it is very true that many highly sensitive people are prone to anxiety and depression because of negative past experiences, it is wrong to assume that this is the case for all highly sensitive people. Rather than having negative experiences in childhood, anxiety runs in my family and the fact that I am highly sensitive, combined with the hereditary aspect, naturally put me at a higher risk for anxiety. While I certainly believe that negative past experiences - whether they happened six months ago or six years ago - can affect anxiety, especially in highly sensitive people, it is unfair to pinpoint anxiety and depression only on negative past experiences.

  So, I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that if you ever come across someone who cries easily or is obviously deeply affected by something that doesn't seem like such a big deal to you, don't judge them as being weak - they're probably just highly sensitive. If they're anything like me, they probably will feel embarrassed or or self-conscious, especially if they happen to be crying in a public place. By pointing out these habits as faults, highly sensitive people will only feel worse about themselves.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Breaking Down My Barrier

    A few weeks ago, when I was dipping into the extreme state of anxiety that I discussed in my last post, an old friend who lived on my freshman floor and who also happens to be a photographer wrote on my facebook wall; she asked me if she could do a photo shoot with me sometime soon. She had no idea what that meant to me at that time but, as I was feeling so cold and lonely in my anxious state, the simple fact that she thought of me made a world of difference for me. I had done photo shoots with her before since as we lived on the same floor freshman year, she occasionally would ask to take pictures of me for fun, and I was super excited at the prospect of another photo shoot with her. This time, the pictures were needed for a Directed Study that she currently is working on, but it still brightened my spirits, if only a little, to know that she had thought of me. Last Thursday, we got together and did a quick photo shoot around campus. It was a surprisingly warm day for February in Minnesota and it was perfect for a photo shoot (even though it was still too cold for me to trapeze around without a coat on for too long). I had a fantastic time - I forgot how much I enjoyed spending time with her since we rarely see each other anymore. The pictures themselves turned out beautiful and furthermore, seeing them  meant something more to me as I felt that they ended up reflecting the pain I had been feeling inside while struggling with my anxiety. Of course, Nina had no knowledge of the fact that my mental health had been in jeopardy as she carefully chose and edited the pictures for the final product; however, they were still very symbolic to me and I think seeing them helped me in the healing process - although they were just staged photo and I actually had a ton of fun during the photo shoot, those images really resonated with me and led me to want to strive for further mental stability.
 Above is the link to the pictures Nina took, in the event that you are interested in seeing them after I discussed them so extensively (this is also a shameless plug for Nina Francine Photography, as she does fantastic work and I want to support her business as much as I can).

  Since my last post, I have been doing much better. It still isn't entirely easy as I am still working towards a healthier me. Counseling and simply talking about it with friends and family that I know I can trust has helped a lot. I am learning to accept and control my anxiety, as difficult as it sometimes can be. I have good days and not so good days (I'm refraining from using "bad" because I know what bad feels like - bad was how I felt at the time of my last post and since then, I have not reached a feeling of such hopelessness). On my "not so good days" I find that I have an internal battle inside my head between my anxiety - which crops up to tell me my life is miserable in one way or another - and the part of me that is striving to be healthy. When I have an anxious thought, that healthy-driven part of me yells at my anxiety and tells it be quiet. It may seem rather silly to anyone who doesn't suffer from anxiety, but it does work. I know that I am coping with my anxiety and working towards a healthier me because when I was at my worst, I just let the unhealthy thoughts overtake me. Now it can barely have a say before the healthy me butts in and puts it down.

  Last weekend was a great help because it was interview weekend for the new CA applicants. Though it was super tiring and I barely got anything in terms of homework done, I needed a little something different from the same old, same old, and it kept my mind off of my anxiety because I was continuously busy.  Now the 2014-2015 CA staff has been selected and letters went out today notifying everyone of whether or not they got the job. I'm extremely excited for next year, as I think we picked a really strong group of individuals for the overall staff, and I have a really good feeling about my particular staff. Of course, I don't know yet if everyone has accepted their position yet, but I sure hope they do! If not, we also have a strong pool of alternates to choose from.

 Midterms are coming up the next week and the week after that is spring break! My birthday is also coming up soon, which I'm super excited for. I'll be 21, so that's kind of a big deal. With school, CA responsibilities and my routine work out schedule, I'm confidant that my anxiety wont overcome me. Keeping busy is the best way to keep my mind of my anxiety; when I become drained from constantly working, I can take my alone time without fear of falling into an anxious state because I know I'll feel accomplished.

  This road to conquering my anxiety wont always be easy, but I'm confidant I can do it. There is so much in store for me in the future and I refuse to give up now!