“Third year already, hasn’t that gone fast?”

I’ve heard that line plenty of times this summer. Most Sundays at church every conversation with anyone over 40 plays out like this. And then comes the inevitable, “so what are you going to do after that?”

It’s not a new question, but the percentage of times it gets asked has gone up a lot (probably to almost 100%) now that I’m going into my last year of university.

My answer is always vague, because I still have anxieties about how to answer the question, and anxieties about the subject itself (that’s probably not good):  “something with publishing and editing”.

It’s just an area of life I want to sort out on my own, in my own time, with no questions asked. I’ve had anxieties around it for years and I nearly always betray some of it when people ask me about it.

But on the other hand, I can see that it’s just a natural path for small talk to follow. When people ask me what kind of work I want to do, there’s a social anxiety-induced voice in my head asking what do they think I’m capable of, and what if I sound too ambitious and then they look at me sceptically… and what if I don’t end up fulfilling my ambitions and then Jill Bloggs who asked me what I want to do when I grow up multiple times from 2008-2016 will see that I didn’t achieve that.

It’s not like I overthink things or anything.

Yesterday at church I had to laugh when Mrs H did the “Wow third year already” line and then followed it up with the bluntest form of this question that I’ve heard so far: “When are you going to start looking for jobs then?”

Context: Mrs H was my teacher when I was 12-15 years old at a small independent school run by this church (so a lot of the people there are my old teachers!) and was obsessed with using our “daily devotions” time to go around in a circle and ask each of us what career we aspired to on a near-weekly basis. She’s always been known for her blunt honesty which, at school, could be either entertaining or terrifying, depending on the situation!

 

Reluctantly Leading a Radio Show

I’ve been helping out on this community radio show in my home town for donkey’s years, since I was about 13 or 14. And although that sounds nifty on my CV, I’ve always figured it’s fairly simple. I just turn up and talk on the show with the co-presenters, people I already know and I do a few extra things like News and Weather… When I was younger I was even more awkward than I can be (on bad days) now, but the others could spin anything like that into humour, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Not having the responsibilities of being in charge of the show helps.

The only problem is that the main guy goes on holiday every August, and every summer since I turned 18 likes to try and talk me into standing in as the main presenter. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be on holiday at the same time and be unable to do it. Other times I just find an excuse. I led a show last year with two of the others. It worked out well; I’d maybe rate it 6/10. Having to lead it makes me quite anxious because this means that it’s my responsibility to come up with conversation starters and sound charismatic about it on air (and it’s one thing to start conversations, quite another to simultaneously be charismatic, in my case!)

In short, I had to lead last night, but it we Continue reading “Reluctantly Leading a Radio Show”

Thoughts about this Culture and Shyness

So I was just doing some research on Western and Eastern ideas on “shyness”. Although the terms “Western” and “Eastern” might be a bit reductive, as no doubt individual countries and even regions have slightly different ideas about things, the impression I’m getting is that in Western cultures we usually see shyness as anti-social or rude, whereas Eastern cultures tend to see it as thoughtf Continue reading “Thoughts about this Culture and Shyness”

Being Open about Anxiety for the First Time with Parents: Pt 1

I hinted that this post was coming here, so here we go.

Context: It occured to me that I had social anxiety for the first time when I was 16 because I was really disturbed by the amount of shyness I was experiencing and this got me doing some intense googling on the topic. The idea that my extreme shyness met enough criteria to be classified as something called “social anxiety disorder” and that this was classified as a “mental illness” was probably the aspect of this which bothered me most, and to some extent still does. I feel like I’ve been thinking and perhaps overthinking this topic ever since then (the fact I have a blog about it makes that kinda self evident doesn’t it?) but in the following five years I’ve made a big thing of not talking about it (with one or two slight exceptions). Not out of any feeling of shame Continue reading “Being Open about Anxiety for the First Time with Parents: Pt 1”

Being Put on the Spot in Class

In what’s-your-favourite-poem class (conventionally known as English Literature):

Seminar tutor asks if we’ve all picked lines of Wordworth’s The Prelude which we liked to talk about in class, as requested in an email nobody remembers from before the Christmas holidays. Up until this point I’ve been thinking I’m fairly well prepared. But no, I haven’t picked lines, poem too long to relocate the bits that stood out to me now. Try anyway. Flick rapidly through the pages of this poem as quietly as possible. Everyone else sits in silence also hoping they won’t get picked to talk about something. Creeping gut feeling she’s about to pick me.

“Did you pick anything Charlotte?” Gut feeling confirmed.

Me: “I remember seeing lines that I liked…” flick even more desperately through The Prelude, hating the uncomfortable class silence, ‘I’ll find something…’

Keep scanning pages for something, why do none of the bits I annoted earlier on the bus seem verbalisable to me? Dilemma what to pick. Th Continue reading “Being Put on the Spot in Class”

To be Open

So a year and a bit ago I wrote this blog post  about having a dilemma regarding whether to open up to people about having social anxiety. That was just before I started uni. I’ve been at uni forever and a day now. So update time it is.

So I started uni and everything was surprisingly hunky dory with that. Not that social anxiety went away or anything, it just was a lot better than expected. I also went to the counselling people as I had been planning to do once I had moved away to uni, and I went there for 10 weeks.

The first time I opened up about social anxiety with someone in my everyday life was shortly after starting this, because I was meeting up with the pastor’s wife from my new church in my university town every week to study the Bible and pray. So when prayer requests were being bashed around it seemed fitting to mention anxiety, which really didn’t turn out to be that painful a thing to do. I was objective and undramatic about it, I just said how it was and she completely understood and prayed about it.

Then in the summer just gone I was talking to someone I’ve been friends with since school days on snapchat and she casually made a comment about her social anxiety and fear about this phone call she had to make. So I asked if she was serious about having social anxiety, and so she said how she had Generalised Anxiety which included social anxiety for her and she’d just been put on medication for it. So I shared about my own social anxiety too and we had a really long conversation about both our experiences. We talked about it some more recently. She is starting to work towards a career in politics so mental health is one of the things she wants to campaign for, so sometimes she asks me for ideas, and I love to try and contribute these. We’ve been friends like 10 years now so it’s pretty surreal to find we both have these experiences with anxiety and can share both our points of view with each other (that sounds like I’m pleased she has anxiety though, I’m not I swear).

I haven’t opened up to the entire world about having anxiety like I envisioned in that earlier blog post. The thought is still tempting at times but I haven’t deemed it necessary so I haven’t done that, so far. So far I’ve opened up about it to 3 people. The third happened like last week, that was much more of a big deal and incredibly challenging to do, so recounting this episode is something I’ll talk about in an upcoming blog post I think 😛

Anyway, hooray. I must do coursework now so TTFN.

 

I saw Family at Christmas and it was Interesting

So we got invited to meet up with some extended family for what I realised was the first time in my life around Christmas/ New Year’s (let’s start the post on a melodramatic note, why not?).

I feel like I’m still adjusting to actually knowing these relatives. I only saw them a couple of times before Age 12 and in the nine years since then, I’ve only seen them very occasionally. After this age and especially after age 16 I was of course getting very socially awkward. I’ve had social anxiety around this lot in particularly quite badly, and that’s possibly because I’ve been so anxious for them to get a good impression of me. And they are a family of ten siblings while I’m awkward penguin only child.

Anyway, this is how it went.

We went first to my cousin C’s farmhouse where she lives with her husband and kids. At first the three of us were stood in her kitchen talking to her. My mum and C get along really well. To her and and the other relatives this side my Dad is regarded as an oddball (that’s the main reason I’m aware of for aforementioned fallouts) when in fact he has mild Asperger’s and an intellectual, quirky personality that just contrasts dramatically with their practical, straight-thinking personalities. And from their perspective, I must be the Continue reading “I saw Family at Christmas and it was Interesting”