The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “personal”

Aspirations for 2015

Before I share what I am striving for in 2015, I’d like to recap on some of the main positives from 2014 despite all the challenges it presented to me.

Positives of 2014:

  • Pushed myself academically taking some heavy course loads and learned a lot that broadened my perspective
  • Started dying my hair and experimenting with colors for the first time
  • Became more independent living far from home and made close, intimate connections
  • Became a much more open-minded, accepting, and educated person
  • Became genuinely kinder and more giving

For 2015, one of my main aspirations is to take back control of my anxiety. I would like to change my thoughts from being an instinctively pessimistic thinker to an optimistic thinker. I won’t lose my awareness of reality, but I would like to try and combat my negative personal thoughts more and try to work on them so they help me more than hurt me. I’ve heard if you can change your thoughts, you can change your world. So that is one of my main goals this year. Here is a picture of what I am planning for 2015. Each bubble will have to be taken on one at a time. I hope you all are doing well and that if 2014 wasn’t one of your best years either, that we can make 2015 a good one!

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The Challenging Year of 2014

We all have our lowest points. Mine was Spring 2014. It definitely wasn’t all bad, but the hard times were indeed hard. I learned a lot and have been changed by it, but it did come at some big costs.

Before it started, I had had an incredibly rough first month at my new college away from home. I had a horrible roommate situation, and each day and night was so chaotic, noisy, and uncomfortable that I lost a lot of sleep, weight, and sanity. It was nearly impossible to do well in school and I was pretty distressed. And for the first time, I experienced the feeling of not having a home. I spent many nights wandering out on my own as late as possible in avoidance of the dreaded circumstances I might return to at my apartment. After a month of fighting with housing, I finally was able to move, and was very relieved.

By January, I had adjusted to my new school fairly well and had made some good friends. For this next semester, I was excited to challenge myself again by helping start up a brand new organization in addition to going to school full-time. Taking on this addition turned out to be a lot more stressful than I anticipated, however. The organization was pretty disorganized and I found this to be very stressful because I wanted to do a really good job but didn’t know what they wanted me to do. In addition, I was really worried about the programs I was expected to come up with and run. I kept imagining the worst occurring and the idea of presenting to a large group something I didn’t feel ready to present made me feel physically sick. I began experiencing intense and unrelenting anxiety throughout the semester. I couldn’t stop the thoughts and negative images from spinning about work and I felt like a prisoner to my own mind. Anxiety was rearing an uglier, more physical head than it ever had for me in the past. I felt very ashamed and embarrassed for panicking so much about the public speaking and for not being able to control my anxiety.

When it got to the point where I knew it was seriously affecting my health, I went to a school doctor and counselor. I was given some medication to try, but I started experiencing bizarre and uncomfortable effects. Then one day in class, I suddenly felt like I was about to black out. The edges faded black and I stumbled to the front to turn in my test before collapsing onto a bench outside. I wasn’t able to move for fear of passing out and was in such a distraught state. I ended up missing both of my midterms. My friend Matt came to my rescue when I called him and he helped me walk to my classes so I could explain to my teachers what happened. Even though I was thankfully able to make up my tests, it was a very scary experience and something that had never happened to me.

The rest of the semester was spent going back and forth between doctor’s appointments until it was figured out what was going on with me. My friend Elin took me so many times without hesitation and stayed by my bedside when I had to get an IV. I was extremely grateful and appreciative for her help. Ever since the near syncope, I had experienced constant pain in my head and had difficulty walking since I was so dizzy. I was told that I was experiencing vertigo and eventually it was determined that I had developed migraines with aura. I did my best to take it easier the rest of the semester, and was relieved when the job ended and I got to go home for summer break. Somehow I managed to keep my grades up even with all this going on. I did end up running my programs still, and they went great, and ended up being much more low-key than I had anticipated them being. Since then I’ve had some time to recuperate and I am feeling better.

Takeaways:

  • Sometimes you do have to remove yourself from a stressful situation if it proves to be too much
  • Anxiety and Stress is serious business and can really hurt your health
  • My anxiety got out of hand, and I need to build better mental barriers and work on controlling it again
  • You can see a beautiful side of people when you are at your lowest point

The Path is Not a Straight One

As much as it makes for a simple, happy story, the road to battling social anxiety and shyness is not a straight one. Even when you’ve had many accomplishments in overcoming obstacles, there is no guarantee that you will never face hard times again when you don’t continue to face those fears and challenge yourself.

In my year in San Diego, I definitely found myself falling backwards several times. This caused me to feel a lot of shame, because I knew I’d been able to do a lot in the past that I was now finding myself struggling with again. I am not sure why, but my social anxiety really took a physiological toll on me this past semester in particular. Maybe it was because I was facing a lot of new situations, or maybe sometimes anxiety just decides to rear an uglier head at some times more than others. Whatever the reason, it was more intense than I had experienced before, and I suffered a lot despite having a lot of amazing times as well.

Luckily the story has a happy ending, as I managed to face my fears and come out stronger through it all. It took some scary lessons with my health, but it required me to face the fact that I needed to build better mental barriers to keep myself from getting in that state again. Stress and anxiety is serious business, and I’m still learning how to keep both at a lower level, but it is something that has to be worked at continuously. You may find yourself overwhelmed at times like I was, but know you’re not alone and that it can get better if you are determined to make things better. More to come soon on what happened during the year, and please hang in there if you are going through a rough time as well.

San Diego State, Here I Come!

After months of waiting, I found out recently that I got accepted to San Diego State.  That means that my two years of Community College will at last be coming to an end, and in the Fall I will get to experience going to a four-year college.  Not only that, but I will get to experience being 10 hours away from home and away from the people I’ve grown close and accustomed to.

Thinking of leaving to San Diego brings up mixed feelings for me.  I am sad thinking of the people I will have to say goodbye to and the distance that will be between us.  I’ve really enjoyed living in the city an hour north of my parents’ this year because I love the people, the dancing, and the general area.  I could see myself spending more time here, and feel the year went by quickly.  But at the same time, I know that San Diego State has a lot of interesting Sociology classes that I want to take, has a lot of cool areas to explore and activities to get involved in, and that I would really regret not going.  I’m likely to feel out of my comfort zone and a little lonely at first, but deep down I know that my fear makes it all the more important that I go.  I think I will enjoy living in San Diego as long as I can get involved on campus and in the community.  And I know I will still be in touch with the friends and family I am apart from.

Have you ever had to move away on your own from loved ones and start anew in a different city?  How did your experience turn out?

Peer vs Self-Validation

wreck it ralphI watched “Wreck-It Ralph” for the first time on Wednesday. The story is about a “bad guy” (Wreck-It Ralph) who deserts his arcade game to prove that he’s not so bad after all and has what it takes to be a good guy.  Throughout the movie he searches for a hero’s medal, which he believes will help him be accepted by his peers in the arcade community.

I liked the messages in the film about how we should not let others’ labels or views define or hold power over us. We are all too complex and multidimensional to be simplified or put in a box.  Ralph may play the role of a “bad guy” for his video game, but there is more to him than that and he shouldn’t be restricted to this role.  What he believes about himself and how he personally identifies is much more important than what others believe or think about him.

Of course, I can relate to this message because this story has a lot of parallel elements with how my Project came about.  I didn’t like how the “shy” label was imposed on me and how restricted I felt in my actions and pursuits. This project was my journey in shedding this label and allowing myself to discover who I really am and what I am capable of when I put my mind to it. In the end, I learned that I was much more capable than I believed, and that although I may continue to feel shy in certain situations, it doesn’t have to define me or hold me back.  Sharing these experiences made me feel very vulnerable, but the benefits were enormous and allowed me to connect with others on a much deeper and meaningful level than I had ever been able to before.  Since I could relate to Wreck-It Ralph, I especially enjoyed this story of self-discovery and breaking free of labels.  What did you think of the film and what messages did you get out of it?

First Debut in Interviewing

Although I’ve had several jobs before, I’ve never had to actually interview for a position.  I’ve always known someone who was leaving a job or have been a part of a program that led to a job. Last Friday, however, I had my first job interview.

I applied for a job at my community college as a basic skills tutor for students with intellectual disabilities.  I loved the mission of the program to help these students on their path to a fulfilling career.  As a loving sister to a brother with learning disabilities and epilepsy, I thought the work would be very rewarding and meaningful to me.  So I edited the resume and cover letter I had made for a general tutoring position in my previous Career & Life Planning class, and showed up to the junior college to fill out an application.

Soon enough, I received an email saying my application had been received and that I would be contacted at the end of the week.  Well, a week went by and I had heard nothing, so naturally I began to worry a little.  I wasn’t quite sure what I should do, but I sent a reply to check-in to make sure nothing else was needed from me and that everything I had submitted was complete.  Shortly after that, my phone rang.

I recognized that it was the tutoring program calling me, and I tried to compose myself and get my head together before answering.  After getting rear-ended and having to take my car in for a week, I wasn’t sure of my schedule until I got my car back and didn’t have a clear picture in my mind of what days I’d be free to interview.  Luckily, however, the woman asked if I could come in for an interview on Friday at 9am (a day I didn’t have class), which kept me from having to think through my school schedule. I enthusiastically agreed and thanked her for calling.

In preparation for the interview, I wrote out possible questions I thought I would be asked and detailed responses.  I made flash cards and looked them over and practiced several times.  I even had my friend Hayley do a mock interview with me 2 or 3 times, and although it was a little hard to get into at first and get over my embarrassment, it was very helpful.  She caught that I was ending some sentences without inflection, so I worked on that until I ended my sentences on a firm note.  She noted when I was looking away, and I worked on making better eye contact.  So by the time Friday came around, I felt more than ready.  That didn’t keep me from getting nervous the night before, but at least the actual day of the interview I felt fairly calm and confident.

The interview went well.  The questions weren’t what I had expected, but I was able to use the answers I had formed in my mind about similar questions in response to these questions.  I wish I had been asked some questions that had allowed me to talk about some of my accomplishments or personal traits, but the interview was very skill-focused as it came to tutoring.  I left feeling good about the interview, and relieved that it was over.  Hayley and I each got a donut to celebrate.

On Monday, I found out that I didn’t get the job.  I was disappointed, but considering it was my first interview, I didn’t feel too discouraged.  My head did begin to spin as to what had gone wrong though, making me wonder if I hadn’t appeared confident enough, if my voice had come off too soft, or if I hadn’t done a good enough job with the mock tutoring portion.  I thanked the woman for letting me know, and asked if she could give me some feedback on how I could improve for the future.  Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with my interview, as she said I interviewed wonderfully.  She said they had a great pool of applicants but ultimately decided to go with someone with a little more experience with this population and a little more teaching experience.  I thanked her for letting me know that, and felt better knowing why I hadn’t gotten the position.  It does seem like a bit of an oxymoron to me that to get experience we have to have experience, especially people around my age who are still very much in the learning of skills stage, but that is how it seems to go.  I plan on checking out some other possible work and volunteer opportunities, as I would like to go through some more interviews again and gain more experience in this area.

If any of you have any thoughts on interviewing or any experiences you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!  As some of you may know, I just started a Facebook page here if you would like to follow me.  Also, I just got an article published on Susan Cain’s Power of Introverts website here that you may like to read as well. Thanks again for reading my blog and making this an interactive space.

I’ve Been Missing In Action but I’ve been Growing!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and have been on WordPress, as you all have noticed I’m sure.  In my last post I discussed how I was wrapping up my first year of community college.  Well, it’s November now and I am in my second year of community college and have been living away from home in an apartment with friends as of a few months.  In this short period of time I have grown a lot and have become more independent, and have faced some of my fears and learned that they weren’t as bad as I thought they would be.  For one, I’ve been driving a lot more on my own than I used to.  Granted, it’s been a lot easier because I have a GPS I can use now, but I’m a lot less hesitant to go out somewhere I’ve never been before.  I’ve gotten lost a few times, but I’ve managed to turn myself around and find my way even when the GPS loses reception.  I’m proud of myself for that, and I do feel a lot more independent and capable.  Sometimes I really enjoy driving even, especially when the songs are good on the radio.

Living in another city for the first time has been a learning experience as well.  I only moved about an hour and a half away from home, but considering I’ve always lived in the same small town for the past 19 years of my life, it’s been a significant experience for me.  Thanks to swing dancing, I already knew a lot of people here, but I’ve also made some new friends and overall I’ve been very happy.

I also entered my first full-on relationship several months ago, which is something I didn’t think I would be ready to do because I had had some bad experiences with dating in the past that had made me hesitant to get involved.  Even though it is over now, I had a great experience and learned a lot from getting to know someone on that deeper level.  The experience showed me that dating could be fun and that your friendship with the person can still be maintained afterward if you ended on good terms.  Dating can certainly still be a little scary, but I definitely have a better perspective on it than I did before. On reflection, I think it’s amazing how much our initial experiences can shape our views, and I’m glad that my perspective has finally shifted in this area.

Again, sorry for not keeping this blog up-to-date these past few months, but I hope you all have been doing well and have experienced some personal growth over this time too!   If you’ve learned anything new or feel like you’ve improved in one area of your life, please tell me about it in the comments or in an email as I’d love to hear about it.  Enjoy your week!

Second Semester of College: Almost Complete

Well my second semester of college will be completed in less than two weeks.  2012 is certainly flying by; I can’t believe it’s May already.  It’s been an emotional and stressful year so far for me, but I’ve learned a lot from it.

I gave a presentation in women’s history class last Thursday which I was nervous about since I hadn’t had to do much of any public speaking in months, but it went really well.  Somehow I managed to not get panicky before my turn to present and spoke with ease and confidence, and made the class laugh too.  I’m glad that my speaking ability hasn’t diminished since I haven’t been up in front of anyone in a while.

I had to give a little presentation in my cinema class the week before too, which wasn’t a big deal to me either.  The girl behind me though came in late to class as we were watching a movie, and at the end the instructor asked her to give her presentation.  I could tell she was caught off guard and I heard her voice shaking and trembling like she was about to cry or have some sort of anxiety attack so I turned around quick and said, “Hey, would you rather do it next week?”  She nodded, so I called over to the professor, “Can she do it next week?”  He said sure (he’s a nice guy and a lot of people have been giving their presentations later than planned) and asked if she could give it Monday at 9 and she whispered, “Yes sir”, but he didn’t hear her so I told him that would be good.  She looked relieved and the instructor seemed to pick up on what was going on too and seemed glad that I was looking out for her.  It’s cool to be on the opposite side of things now and to help people out who have fears of speaking in front of the class.  Hopefully she will be ready to give her presentation this week and she won’t skip class because of it, but I had a feeling that if she had to give it that day that she might burst into tears up there or have some kind of anxiety attack.

Other than that I’ve been doing good.  I’ve been learning more about myself this year and am getting a better idea about what I want in life.  In August I’ll be moving out on my own with some friends to take classes at a different community college, so that will be exciting.  I think it will be a great experience for me.  Hope you are all doing well!

Swing Dance Crazy

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of swing dancing.  I was first introduced to swing dance when my brother Andrew took me to a dance in Golden Gate Park when I was 13 or so.  I remember I only danced with two other people than my brother then, because I wasn’t as comfortable dancing with others and didn’t know as much about the dance as I know now.

Recently, I went to San Diego for my brother Andrew’s wedding.  At his wedding, we did a lot of swing dancing because Andrew and a majority of his friends are all really talented swing dancers.  I had a blast and I had the time of my life when Andrew, Liz, and Dewey and I took the stage and did an impromptu lindy dance in front of everybody.  At one point my brother picked me up and spun me around, and other times I was jumping in the air as he kicked between my legs.  The dance was intense because it ended up being to an 8 minute song called “Bill’s Bounce”, which wasn’t intended to be played during the dance session, but it was really fun.

I went swing dancing the following Wednesday and Friday with my brother’s best friend Jack as well, and had a great time.  I made some new friends, and learned some new dances.  I was sad when I had to leave on Saturday because I had enjoyed dancing in San Diego so much and meeting the people there.

Swing dancing is a great way to make new friends.  It’s a social dance, so you dance with as many people as you can and will meet lots of people.  And several of the people who are swing dancers tend to be pretty cool people from my experience.  There seems to always be a few creepy guys at every venue, but you learn to spot them and set your boundaries with them if they are bothering you.

I think whenever you find something that you are passionate about and get involved in it boosts your confidence as well.  The trick with getting involved in any type of dancing is being ok with not being good at it at first.  This is a hard thing to accept sometimes because you’re dancing with other people and want to do well, but with anything it’s going to take time to get better at something.  A lot of people try it and give up right away because it seems too hard, but if they would stick with it a little longer they would see that each time they practice they are getting better.  I’m very glad that my brother introduced me to swing dance when I was young, and I know it will be something that I will continue to do all my life.

To see what kind of swing dancing we were doing, here’s a video.  This style of swing dance is called lindy hop.

Random Acts of Kindness

When you feel down and are going through a tough time, it can be hard to get your head together again.  I was struggling with a lot of doubts and uncertainties that suddenly arose, and my mind was not giving me a break. Suffice to say I wasn’t being a good friend to myself for once and was slipping into a place I’d never been before.

But I don’t want to be in that place any longer.  I have to accept uncertainty and difficulty, and keep trudging forward.  I have to see the positives and not just the negatives.

I read a few of the recent posts on the blog, Year of Kindness, this afternoon after a long and dreary day at school.  Let’s just say that the posts touched my heart and I think it’s wonderful that Cat’s doing random acts of kindness for strangers.  It lifted my spirits reading about her generosity and thoughtfulness, and I thought of how I would feel if I had been one of her recipients, especially if it was during a time when I was feeling down like I have been.  I’m sure it would have brightened my day.

I think doing kind things for others can really be helpful for when you aren’t feeling well yourself.  It brings you a sense of human connection and reminds you of the little differences you can make each day. I feel inspired by Cat to be more active in my random acts of kindness now too.  I have done random acts of kindness in the past for strangers as well as people I know, but I haven’t really done any lately.  I feel like doing some now though, even just little things.  I know there are many people out there going through tough times themselves, and I hope I can make their day a little better so they can be given a boost of hope like Cat’s blog did for me.  If you want a boost of hope yourself, head on over to Cat’s blog and read about what’s she been up to!  You won’t regret it!

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