Dancing in the rain

Hi guys! So in this post I wanted to talk about anxiety and making friends because it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve always considered myself to be a bit more secluded than others ever since the start of high school. And that worked out well for me at the time, I didn’t feel like I needed loads of friends. Being at university forced me to move away from the friends I had made and start living independently. It kind of forced me into making friends (as living with 9 other people would), and now I have another best friend as a result! So far I’ve made friendships when they come along my way, which has gotten me this far, but now I feel the need to seek out people to connect with. This might not seem like a big deal, in fact you might be thinking “good for you, so what?”, but for me this marks a change in my life- from going it alone to outreaching to others.

I feel like anxiety has played a big part in how I’ve made social connections in the past, and it would be an understatement to say that it’s limited who I talk to. Anxiety is very good at getting you to think about things in a certain light, and it’s a master of coming up with any excuse available to talk you out of doing something. For some individuals this revolves around people, for others it crops up in everyday situations. For me, during high school and the start of university it was clearly related to interacting with people. If I talked to anyone my mind would masterfully come up with 20 negative opinions that the other person could be thinking. Over time this essentially convinced me that nobody liked me, and so I didn’t try to make friends and generally avoided talking to people when I didn’t have to. As of the past few weeks I feel like I’m moving away from these thoughts, for now at least, and my slowly growing confidence is making it easier to reach out and form connections. This past week I’ve talked to over 10 new people and spontaneously asked someone to coffee (!!!). That’s more than I’ve done over the past year, and in all honesty it’s felt exhilarating. Right now I feel like a completely different person and it’s so bizarre to me. I always had such an anxiety around talking to people and fearing their judgement of me. Now I’ve been doing it with such ease and it’s a lot easier than I ever expected it to be. And to be able to do it without the anxiety feels absolutely amazing, to put it lightly.

I’m not expecting this to last forever, there’s no guarantee my mental state will stay this way, but there’s also no expectation for me to stay socially anxious forever. For now at least, speaking to people is giving me confidence, and I want to embrace that.  Now that I’ve experienced social interactions with no anxiety, I will be able to sit comfortably with the knowledge that any future anxiety is not forever. But further than this, I want to be able to experience anxiety and become more comfortable with experiencing it (as much as one can be). When feeling anxious, it’s very easy to listen to the voices in your head that tell you something is wrong with you. When I went Brighton for New Year’s, there was some text on the front of a beach hut, and it read:

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.

I think sometimes it is best to wait out the storm that is anxiety, it can be absolutely exhausting. Now that I’ve experienced this new confidence, I think I’ll be able to chill a bit more when talking to people (dancing!). I don’t expect this to be true for everyone- people feel different things at different points of their lives, or in different situations. But that’s okay. And accepting that is a big step. It’s okay to not dance in the rain. The point to aim for is to be comfortable, no matter how much anxiety is happening, it’s okay.

– H

Flowers

Hello world

Hi there internet! So this is where I’m going to start writing about myself, my thoughts and feelings, and just generally what’s up with my life. I feel like a lot of the time I have thoughts come across my mind that I think are worth writing down, BUT I NEVER DO! So this is an homage to that. Also, I think I’m learning a lot at the moment about myself which would be cool to document and look back on in the future. Who knows, maybe it could even help somebody else out!

Where I’m at right now: I feel like I’m about to change a lot as an individual (for the better) and undergo a lot of personal growth. I’ve recently gone through some major relationship changes that have made me reevaluate myself and who I want to be. I’m pretty sure this is normal for every 20-something-year-old as it’s an important in life and you get to find out who you are! And that’s what I’m going to start doing, I want to know myself better through the process of ‘self-dating’, and invest in myself to make myself the best version of me. That concept actually really excites me, because I like who I am right now, but I could be even better. I bet I’m going to be fucking awesome (not to put pressure on future me, or anything).

Even in the past week I’ve made some major changes in my behaviour that will benefit me in the long run, I think. I’ve been more confident in myself and portraying myself as me. Basically, I’m becoming unapologetic, and I want to completely own my labels. Woman, feminist, bisexual, polyamorous. These are the things I want to wear proudly, and the more I put them out there, the more people in life I will find who are similar to me, and that like my genuine self. I’ve alway thought that’s it’s scary to genuinely put yourself out there for who you are for the fear of being rejected. But if you don’t put your genuine self out there, then how will people know who you are and get a good sense of you? You’re depriving them of your amazing self! I mean, I’d wanna be friends with me. On top of this, feeling accepted for who you are is the best feeling. It’s a reward for being brave: you do this scary thing, and then if all goes well you get wrapped in an invisible big warm blanket. If not? Fuck them, because your opinion shouldn’t matter (and you’re still amazing)! Using my labels I’m going to seek out people who also use these labels to describe themselves (or not at all, labels aren’t necessary!). So far I’ve gone to some of my university LGBT+ society events with the hope of bringing more queer people into my life, and become proud of my bisexuality. I think up until this point, I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in with a lot of things like sexuality, gender, and political views, but now that I’ve figured that out, I need to do something with them. It’s like suddenly discovering you have a little flower patch in your huge garden that you haven’t fully explored yet. I’ve come across my little bisexual flower patch- and it’s great! I mean I’m glad that it’s there, but what do I do with it now? If I leave it there then it will stay there and maybe grow a bit over time. But if I start watering it then it will grow faster, and bigger over time, and I can put time and effort into making it something to be proud of. I’ll even show it off to people, if I want.

I really like this garden analogy, so I’m gonna stick with it. Aspects of who you are can take all different forms to grow in your garden. Some things need more care, and some take more time to grow. Some get really messy if you don’t give it the attention it needs. So for me anxiety plays a big part in my life, and sometimes depression likes to pop in and say hello. These are plants that grow in your garden too, but I imagine them more to be like bramble bushes that can be prickly and slowly overtake your garden. It’s all well and good to tend to the flowers, but it’s important to keep the weeds in check too. I might spend some time in the future talking about anxiety and depression in the future in a different post, but I don’t think now is the right time. I mean, for me it’s still a slightly unknown species and I’m still figuring out what it is and how it works!

I’ll definitely come back to this analogy when I talk about owning my labels in the future. I’m really good at overusing analogies and completely killing them. I’m not going to apologise for it though.

– H