Dare to live, lose the fear

Last year, before I went to New Zealand, I was feeling apprehensive and worried. I had returned home with no job and to take another 2 month vacation meant I would be fully out of a job for 6 months. But that wasn’t what I was worried about. I was worried about travelling with a friend I met in Japan. We weren’t that close in Japan, but we got on, despite the lack of many common interests. Travelling for me is a thrilling adventure and I am usually always excited for it. But since Japan, I feel like I have become a strange creature of habit. I don’t feel fully comfortable and I think that is my problem. It is what fuels my fear and my hesitance. What made it harder going on this road trip was not being sure I could maintain conversation for 3 weeks without either of us getting bored.  I’ve always felt like we didn’t have a real friendship. He’s very private and even though we hang out in groups, I haven’t always been completely comfortable with him. I’m not sure why. So I did’t know how this trip was going to be as it would simply be the two of us.

Well having now finished that trip and my 2 month holiday, I have realised how petty my worries were. I’ve said it a hundred times before to myself but it honestly is true:

Don’t let the little things get you down or sweat the small stuff. Don’t let fear rule your life and ruin your chances.

If I didn’t take this chance to travel, I wouldn’t have made such incredible memories and explored so many places. I don’t know when or if I’d be able to have done the amazing road trip around NZ to ultimately discover a new country and the beauties it has to offer. What I was also really afraid of was not being physically fit to do all the hikes and tramping that I knew we would be doing. But there is nothing wrong with going slow and taking it easy. I’m not in the best of health, but I am striving to achieve that goal and get fitter.

I have no regrets going on that trip. It was so much fun. I learnt to let go a bit. I discovered more about my friend. It was all in my head, we got on perfectly well despite the lack of common interests! It went much better than I expected and we had amazing weather. NZ is a truly beautiful place especially if you love the outdoors, hiking, lakes and mountains!

Those memories of Japan still continue to haunt me (in a good way – I just miss my students!), it was nice to reminisce, challenge myself physically and mentally. For the latter, I went bungee jumping. I feel like as I get older, sadly I become less fearless! I had no qualms going skydiving when I was 21. Though admittedly that is a completely different ballgame and not as terrifying in an odd kind of way. But the point I am making is that I notice that I am starting to take less risks as I get older. It’s not always a bad thing, however, I don’t want that to stick. I want to take risks, to challenge myself. I don’t want to be controlled by fear. So here’s to daring to live fully. Take chances and don’t look back.

 

The past is never too far, hidden but not forgotten.

Isn’t it an ugly thing when you realise that the past isn’t so distant. All those demons you thought you dealt with and let go, only to realise you never actually did let them go. You just painted over them and hoped they would go away and never revisit you. You fooled yourself and started to live your life again walking through it all blindly. But old ghosts do come back to life. They are timeless and they are waiting in the wings when something triggers your past while creating your present. Unfortunately, I’ve been having my fair share of shocks this past year, pretty much all of them ugly and uninvited. But who said the battle was easy or pain-free? Not for the faint-hearted indeed and certainly a few broken bones and sliced flesh. Well I feel it viscerally and it hits me deep, opening roughly papered over wounds; wounds that never had a chance to heal because I ignored it all and buried my head in the ground. It wasn’t intentional at all, it was just my immediate and only reaction at the time. It is how I deal with problems. Not a very good way indeed, but the only way my brain saw since the memories were too visual, too traumatic and too horrible to relive. But I am forcing myself to feel the pain and relive it, because it’s the only way I’ve realised to move forward and actually learn from it this time properly. You cannot prevent or control other people’s actions. You can only control how you react to something.

I’m going to start with a short story. Six years ago, I was sexually assaulted by my uncle. I wasn’t raped, but I was assaulted and touched inappropriately. It happened on two separate occasions and the only thing I could do at the time was freeze in disbelief. When someone you have trusted for your whole life does something so unspeakable, in my mind I could do nothing. I had no power despite my brain screaming, because the truth is, I didn’t understand how this could be happening. Only the second time was I really sure that the first time actually happened. I hadn’t just conjured it up in my mind. This probably doesn’t make sense, but I have realised that we live in a world where not all women have a voice. We have been taught subconsciously perhaps to smile, to look pretty and to stay silent. The latter is what I did. I stood still and silent, my body on fire and my mind in a state of pure confusion and naivety. He said to me that I am a loving and kind child. I didn’t know if he still thought I was a child. I didn’t have counselling, but I did tell my family and friends. My mother was furious at what her brother had done, so she turned him out. No-one wanted him not because of what happened since that remained a secret, but just because he was old and a burden. He died 2 years later. I remember the last time I saw him a year before he passed away. I held him at arms length and I kissed his cheek tentatively memories of the past still on my mind yet knowing it wouldn’t be long till he would die. In that moment, the hate subsided and all I felt was pure pity. Later, news of his death did not affect me. I was not sad, nor was I happy. I felt nothing but anger.

After that event though, I subconsciously isolated myself. I wanted a boyfriend and yet I didn’t. I didn’t want to be touched. Not by anyone and not by any man. Not long after I was assaulted again on a night bus on the way home after a night out. I was drunk, trying my best not to sleep so I wouldn’t miss the stop, I was simply sprawled on the seats. I was touched inappropriately again. I was drunk, but I still knew what was going on. I just couldn’t scream no or react this time because I was too drunk. I tried to slap his hand away but it was so weak. My mind was completely rational, but my body was paralysed by alcohol and extreme exhaustion.

Bad choices, bad decisions, young, inexperience, naivety and self-blame. I took responsibility for my actions. But again, my skin crawled. No amount of washing that day could clean me. I felt violated and completely out of control yet again. Many women have this experience and people blame them saying it’s your own fault. But that’s simply not fair. There are always two sides to a coin.

I am not sure when it began but from a moment in time, I closed myself off completely. My trust for all men went out the window. I am always weary of men. Especially the ones who tell me how beautiful and kind I am. Some people take advanatge of kindness, but does it mean I should stop being kind? I don’t think so. But I also know that being kind and saying no is equally important. Some men don’t understand no. They can’t believe no. How many times do I have to say no? Why won’t a firm no suffice?

So what triggered my thoughts?

I went on a solo trip and at the end of my trip when I travelled with one of the host members back to the main city as he was going the same place, he started to confess his ‘feelings’. He’s married with a child. He was meant to visit his child. It got awkward. It got strange and he used the words ‘special’, ‘kind’ and countless other crap I’ve heard. I don’t say that to boast, as if I’ve had many experiences. I have many negative ones so I am weary of the words. I say it because it is bullshit. The lines “Why don’t you have a boyfriend, you’re so kind and fun.” are said too many times that I know when it is not genuine or when alarm bells ring warning of interest. He insisted then that he wanted to drive me home which was a 3 hour drive. I politely refused. Said it was too kind but no thank you. He persisted and I firmly insisted I was fine. I didn’t need a lift, I was happy with the coach. It became uncomfortable. Still he insisted and still I declined. It was too far, and he admitted it wasn’t kind, it was only for me this special attention. How many times must I say no? I said it 5 times. Still before I left he said, “If you change your mind, tell me.” I ended up running as soon as I got out the car. It sounds dramatic, I was late meeting a friend and still he tried to stall for time. I was fearful because I thought he might follow me. He was so persistent, it was almost scary. So I fled as soon as I could. As soon as I got out, that was my first instinct. I think it’s important to follow instincts. I felt shit afterwards. I felt dirty. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I don’t believe there is, but I couldn’t help the feelings of disgust.

I don’t believe he would have hurt me. I think he was trying to be kind. I think things got out of control because he became inappropriate. But this time I was firm. I was clear. I spoke up and still he didn’t listen. People only hear what they want to hear, but they don’t really listen. I don’t trust men. I don’t trust persistent people when I refuse an offer. I have a few male friends and off course I can’t blame all men and wouldn’t want to. I do believe there are some good guys out there. But I don’t always trust the good ones either. I have a big problem with trust. I have a lot of open wounds. But I am trying to learn and fight back.

No means no. It never means yes.

Difficult lessons learned from travelling with friends

So here it is lessons learned from travelling with friends:

  1. Make sure you are actually on the same page.
  2. If they don’t know what travel insurance or a visa is, be worried. When I asked my friend the night before we were due to travel whether she had bought her travel insurance, her answer couldn’t have shocked me more. “What’s that?” Cue *blank face* “Are you s****ing me?”
  3. Push for what you want especially if you planned the whole thing.
  4. Be worried if they suddenly panic the night before asking if you’re taking them to a really dangerous country with terrorists. Every country has terrorists. But NO in case it wasn’t obvious, do I look like I’m going on holiday to be kidnapped, tortured and then potentially murdered?
  5. If they can’t tell you where we’re going, you’re screwed. It means they’ve done ZERO research and looked at NONE of the material you sent over.
  6. Don’t let them get away with doing jack s**t unless you’re the kind of person who likes to plan everything cough *controlfreak* cough – which is fine if it’s your holiday they’ve invited themselves to. Not that I didn’t ask for suggestions but I was given carte blanche. I did ask where she would like to stay etc. but she said she trusts me!
  7.  Turns out she didn’t actually trust me after our first hostel. Where is our 5* hotel? I can’t live among the poor! They are so different! I’m scared. No, I’m being melodramatic she’s not into 5* hotels and she’s not demanding, but she was very scared and felt the disparity between the rich and poor as well as being a tourist.
  8. Don’t trust them when they say – “You fit in more because you look more like them.” Me: “Wtf!? I’m Asian and I’m brown. I look like a tourist just like you.” Friend: “Yes, but I’m paler and noticeably more touristy.” Me: *mutters under breath* Yeah because you act so unnatural.
  9. Frankly just don’t listen to them. They are irrational and pass on their own anxieties.
  10. If they mention that they’ve only been to two other countries outside of their own, be worried. They’re not seasoned travellers, they’re newbies which is fine if you’re a newbie too.
  11. If you try to take them to historical sites, but they keep diverting you, just know you will never reach those historical sites.
  12. If you want to go on daytrips, but they don’t set an alarm and the only one you set went off but you couldn’t hear it (due to being hard of hearing), but they could and didn’t wake you up, you can be sure they’re not into going on that trip.
  13. If you want to go anywhere, but they don’t want to book anything nor do they want to just go – you can be sure nothing will materialise except wasted time and effort.
  14. Finally – my last and most important piece of advice: just go by yourself – solo travel seems so much easier unless you have amazing friends who you’ve travelled with before.

Grasping at straws

I sure am churning out these blog posts recently. I can’t stop writing. Anyway, today I reached a crossroads. I am lost or should I say confused about which path to take. Each path is dark and surely paved with challenges, but the million pound question in my mind is do I stay or do I leave?

A few days ago I asked whether it would be possible to leave and go back home in July. I would have been here for a year and after the earthquake and unhappiness I felt it was time to cut my losses and get the hell outta here. I came to accept it this morning which is ironic really because in the afternoon, I am told that I can leave. I can’t tell if my unhappiness these past few months have stemmed from the earthquake or if I was unhappy before that? The truth? I was unhappy before the earthquakes. I had problems with my brother who finally won the battle to drag me through the mud. It’s the second time he’s succeeded. I’ve never cried so much than I have this year and it’s only April. Every month I’ve been cursed with some unforgettable crisis. December – car accident, January – depression, February – was okay, March – change of staff and deterioration of relationship with main teacher, April – cancellation of flight, earthquakes, car accident no.2, return to depression. This month I’ve been hit with the worst all in one go. It’s not even  my car as well – it’s my Board of Education’s.

I want to go home. I want to stay. I am a walking contradiction. I feel like that is my life.

I don’t know what I’m hoping to achieve if I stay. Is there anything for me here? I don’t think so. I guess I’ve answered my own question but somehow I don’t know why, I don’t feel right leaving. I can’t explain it. Most people ask me what my gut is telling me, but honestly I don’t know. My gut is just as confused. A few days ago when I thought I couldn’t leave, I felt outraged, trapped and finally acceptance. I can’t tell if I was a little bit relieved. But I also felt like I didn’t know how I would survive another year. Today, when I am being told that I can leave in July, I feel disappointment and sadness. What is wrong with me? Why am I having these conflicting emotions? Why do I feel like a failure if I decide to go home? Why can’t I deal with any of these problems by myself? Why does it all have to be so difficult?

One of the main reasons and one of the only reasons I want to stay is because I can’t bear to leave my kids yet. It breaks my heart to even think of leaving them. I love them so much and I’ve already formed this emotional attachment in the space of just 9 months! It’s ridiculous! It’s natural. It’s crazy. Can you believe the only thing keeping me here is my children? Most of them hate English so what’s the point of even staying? But I just can’t seem to leave them. There’s only a handful I can’t bear leaving. They are so beautiful, bright and wonderful. Everytime I think of leaving I think of their smiles. But what if I do leave? I feel irrationally jealous of the new ALT who would arrive and take over my schools. We are all irreplaceable and that is fine. But I still don’t know if I want to be replaced just yet. Would one more year hurt?

If I went home what would I do? I shouldn’t be scared to face the future. Will I regret though? I could go somewhere new. I could teach in another country. I could travel more. I could discover something else. Anything is possible. Those possibilities makes me excited and yet scared. Is it time to go home? Lord, I don’t know. I am afraid of the future, but I am also afraid of my choice. Today I found out my best friend was surprised when I announced my decision to stay in January. If I stay, my life has to change drastically. But what do I do? Universe send me a sign!

What am I clinging onto?

 

 

 

What I’ve done

So it’s not been the best of starts to 2016, but there have been some notable adventures worth mentioning. Let’s start with the positive:

  1. I visited Mt. Fuji which was just incredible – there’s nothing like looking at a beautiful snow-capped mountain and knowing your problems are minuscule in those blessed few hours. Unfortunately it doesn’t last, but the exquisiteness and memory will constantly seek to remind you.
  2. I met some great people on New Years but then there was a falling out between my best friend and one of the girls because of her passive aggressiveness and rudeness. Made things complicated, still the positive memories are worth holding onto.
  3. I returned back to school knowing I was wanted at least at my favourite elementary school. But I wonder whether I can do this for another year.

It’s only been 8 days so that’s all I have but intermingled with the positives are the negatives. Since 16th December 2015, I have been facing some challenges and going through a period of extreme loneliness despite being surrounded by my family. I suppose it happened when they started to leave to go back one by one until only one was left standing. We parted ways yesterday and I don’t know when I’ll next see them. It could be 7 months or it could be a year or even a year and a half and that’s if I decide to stay in Japan for another year.

Living in Japan comes with many amazing opportunities and moments, though as with living anywhere life gets in the way and tries to smack you down just when you think your confidence is increasing. That is until life reminds you it’s not you’re just living a lie.

Last year the thing I feared most when driving happened and I hit a child on a bicycle. He’s okay, but I wasn’t. Within that moment I thought I had taken a life. Oh how quick it happens, how everything can change in a moment’s notice. How horrifyingly scary and yet I immediately stopped the car and shaken walked over to the kid. He protested that he was fine, I spoke to his parents later and they assured me he was okay. It didn’t help that I couldn’t effectively communicate in the same language, but I am grateful he was okay. No matter who was in the wrong, as the driver I am still responsible and it is my fault for not spotting him until it was too late. Blind corners are the worst, but I am haunted by the memories and although I still drive, I am afraid history will repeat itself. It was an accident, these things happen I am told, but what if something worse occurred? I don’t think I could live with myself and thus began the consistent questioning ever since. Can I live this life? Can I stay here? Will others be safe from me? Will I hurt someone else? I could easily leave, but I’m not sure that’s wise. I think I’ll be forever running fearful to continue. I can’t live like this and so went my confidence down the drain. That’s the start of when my world decided to crumble. I’m not happy. I’m always angry. I hate myself. I hate that there are some things I can’t control. I hate that I get jealous when there’s no need. I hate that I have let people drag me through the mud. I hate that I don’t have the confidence I need. How can I teach others when I am completely lacking myself?

I am trying to deal with this coupled with my shaken confidence, my low self-esteem and low self-worth. I get angry so easily and it builds up inside. I let it go when I visited Mt. Fuji, but now all that remains is Facebook and it’s jealousy. Why is everyone having a ball and I’m left standing in a freezer? Why does it look like everything else that people are doing is more fun? Why do I continue to compare myself? Why do I hate myself so much? It is a bad habit and one that Facebook does not help, but instead perpetuates. It’s as if I’m looking from afar into the interesting lives of others, but I can’t reach them. I’m the outsider looking from the window but not participating or even a part of the group. The truth is I don’t like them, I don’t want to be a part of it, I just want the adventures with friends, the fun and I want a set of friends to travel with. But the world doesn’t work the way you want it to and you don’t always get what you want so I am dealing with it. I am dealing with loneliness and the fight. It’s a constant battle and sometimes I think it would just be easier to surrender and take the easy way out, but something within me can’t, because that wouldn’t work either, I’d still have the same problems.

There are too many memories that have the power to either control you or haunt you, but that’s if you choose to let them, so it’s a tricky game. They are not just memories to look over fondly or dispassionately, they are a part of you and your past whether you like it or not. They made you the person you are today.

It’s decision time soon and the clock is ticking. Will I stay or will I leave? Will I hide or will I face those ugly demons? I don’t know yet, but only time will tell.

The next steps are sometimes the hardest

So imagine you’re sitting in an office, in a comfortable job surrounded by lovely people and the relaxed hum of work. Everyone’s busy, except you. Instead you’re bored stiff trying to find something to occupy your mind before you decide to run around screaming with a gun to your head. The work you do is menial and completely soul destroying, but everything else, the perks of the job, the money, the commute and the colleagues, they’re all lovely. There’s just one catch – the work is utter crap with no challenge or hint or progression. How long do you think it will take before you go insane? For me, it took 1 year and 4 months counting down the days and wondering when I would get off my arse and find something else. But everything was just so convenient. I didn’t need to take the busy packed tubes, I could take the trains which were less packed and quite reliable. If I was ill, I would be sent home to recover, if I took holidays, it would be okay because at least I actually had paid holidays on a fixed term contract. When I did get sent out the office it was to a flashy all paid for conference once a year. How could you possibly complain? Champagne on Fridays, treats and sweets practically every day and the knowledge of your hopeful departure to another country if you’re successful. So how long do you think it would take you? It’s easier to stay believe me and I didn’t have as many responsibilities as most people such as children to consider and balancing family life. But I decided to leave. When I handed in my resignation I was euphoric, but then after a week or so, I was distraught. What the hell did I do messing up a perfectly good job just because I was bored? All I had to do was stick it out for a few months, but here I was giving up a great company, great benefits and excellent colleagues. Ironic that the joke was on me.

On my last day, I was terribly sad because I was giving up so much. The week before I left I found out the company was merging and therefore increasing the opportunities within the firm to learn new software and meet new people. I was terribly annoyed to discover that this was the worst kept secret which was concealed from me from every person I asked who knew, when it was quite blatant everyone in the company knew except me. I was unfortunately the last person to find out and by that time I had already handed in my resignation. It was too late, a replacement had been found, my new job was waiting for me and yet I felt cheated somehow. I couldn’t turn back time, but I lost a lot. If I knew, perhaps I would have reconsidered and stayed, but then I would have had to say no to this new opportunity. I cried when they did the leaving speech, but my dear colleagues promised they would see me for my leaving drinks the following week. So I left with a heavy heart, but little did I know that business is simply business and I was just a meaningless person in that company. But did you know? I was like a dog within the company – the lowest of the low. I knew something was going on, but no-one trusted me to tell me. While everyone knew and gloated about that knowledge, I was left in the dark. I was never privy to news because I was junior.

I arrived to my leaving drinks and I waited. I waited and waited painfully aware that one by one the colleagues I thought were friends palmed excuse after excuse and I was left standing alone in a packed bar. Only two people attended, though I only really count one of them. The first to arrive was my lovely replacement who only stayed for less than hour, but I was embarrassed to find only one other colleague who I worked closely with came along soon after. The two of us went along to another bar and while she regaled me with all the new treats they were being given, I felt a stab of envy burn brightly. Trips to abroad for a conference, fancy parties at London hotels, new Ipads for every staff member not to mention at least 2 bonuses in store. Well you can imagine how much I wanted to kick myself. Until I walked away and I thought. No one really cared I left. I thought I had so many friends, but in the end I had only one. I was clearly living on another planet. It hurt. Have you ever had one person turn up to your leaving drinks? It really hurt, if it wasn’t for that one person I would have felt so alone. But you learn fast and boy did I learn. Business is business. Colleagues are not friends, they are colleagues. Work is work and that is the way of the world. Don’t get too emotional, don’t get too sentimental. All the false promises of keeping in touch – everything it wasn’t true. Don’t hide beneath those rose-tinted glasses. Don’t expect to see those people again, because expectation will only seek to disappoint. I am missing out on so much and yet I am not. I have moved on to a new job at an international excellent firm with new challenges. My colleagues so far are very nice and the work is different and new with room to progress and develop and opportunities to shine. I am moving forwards and the lesson that I will bring to the new place? To make sure I stand out and shine like I did in my first job. There will not always be people who want to push you and make you do better. You have to push yourself. If you’re bored you should consider leaving because even though materially it sounds amazing, its not worth it if you’re writing a book as well as working.

If you don’t leave you’ll never leave. If you stay, you’ll be missing out on all the new things you could have learned, all the new people you could have met. Sometimes I still wonder, but I reckon if I turned my current opportunity down, I would have regretted and played the what if game then too. It was one of the most difficult learning curves of my life, but necessary. I will continue to fight for my dreams and I will not let anyone put me in a box again. Don’t let fear get in the way because that is exactly what I am letting prevent me from my future by holding onto my past. But I am trying to let go. Every day is a new reality check. Every day is a battle.

Staring at the person trapped in the mirror – I see you but no one else does

It’s a funny thing thinking about what you look like and actually seeing your reflection in the mirror and seeing someone else. It’s also strange when you meet new people and realise you’re not actually like the people in your books that you’ve been reading and the films you’ve been watching. In fact sometimes it may distress you to realise that you are nothing like you want to be. This is not true for all, since some people are exactly who they want to be, but I am not talking about those people and perfection. Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me? Must I pretend that I am someone else for all time? When will my reflection show who I am inside? Because I am too dependent on the opinions of others and I am too afraid to act, to be me. Why? I can only assume it is because I am afraid rejection. I must admit though I cannot conceal myself and I don’t try anymore, but I am still finding it hard to be confident in me.

When we meet people we see traits in others that we like and wish to emulate. This can have either two effects on us a) you feel jealously towards that person and resent them or b) you feel awe and appreciation. I love reading books and it is so easy to get lost in those fictional worlds living the life of that person for a few hours or going on your own fictional adventure. That’s why it can be hard to come back to reality when you’ve always got your head stuck in a book. Losing track of time is the usual, not feeling hungry just completely immersing yourself in the world of another character and their tumultuous journey. When you get caught up in these images and stories you start to live them as your character and can sometimes believe that you have those certain brave, courageous and strong characteristics. However, when you are faced with the reality it can be a shocking surprise to see yourself as not yourself if that makes any sense. You see yourself not as you thought and suddenly the truth looms nears and blinding. You are not like the characters in your books no matter how much you would like to be. This ladies and gentleman happened to me one fine day when I walked into a new job. No one could know how much I noticed the difference and how it doesn’t come to you subtly oh no, I don’t do subtlety! No if you want someone to know something, especially if that person is me it’s always best to say it loud and clear.  Like this revelation came loud and clear on my first day temping. The way I spoke was soft spoken, quiet and almost afraid of myself and my abilities. You could tell I was oozing a lack of self-esteem, control with a self-deprecating nature and shaky confidence.  The way I acted, cowering away from people, shying away, squeaking and hiding. Is that me? I thought could that really have been me? Why was I acting so timid? What did I fear? And then it hit me, I am not that person who is completely confident in myself and I never have been. I am hesitant and I may not realise it but other people do. They know instantly when they meet me that I am a hesitant person. I find it hard to trust my own judgement even when I know that I am right. I find it hard to make decisions and this is not a good sign. I’ve always felt the need to question myself and my actions since I was little.

When someone asks are you sure? Am I really sure? No always that seed of doubt. It’s a difficult journey and it’s a difficult task relearning and reprogramming yourself to think differently, to be certain and try and make decisions. Too much thought can be lethal and too little can be reckless. Let’s not be overcautious now. I’m trying to be more confident, more forward and less hesitant but sometimes its hard to break old habits. Habits that have been there with you for a lifetime.

Perhaps it is the way one views oneself they are a harsher critic- adamant not to admit they are confident and good. This self-sacrificing and subservient image of bowing down to authority and being trampled upon is wrong and perhaps too ingrained. It is an image we all seem to have, a part of us within us, but it just depends how much control you give it. If there was a fire alarm and a few people ran to one door assuming it was the exit, whereas one person ran to the opposite side knowing that it was the real exit shouting to be heard over the commotion. Who do you think people will follow? Will they follow the crowd? Or the one person running in the opposite direction shouting to be heard that he knows the way. It seems logical to assume you would follow that one person, but when your life is in the fate of one person and everyone else is running in the oposite direction it seems hard to resist and follow that one person. After all I’m sure people would prefer to die together rather than with one or two people. It is almost sociological that we would run with the crowd when the truth is the crowd is following someone else- always someone else but just someone who looks like they are in control.

When I speak to some people they say oh your presentation was great you looked really confident and you did really well. But when you examine my thoughts you understand that I felt nothing close to confidence. If you asked me how I felt I would tell you the truth. It was completely nerve-wracking and scary but I did it. When thinking about it I’m not sure why it is scary when people are there to learn when you give a presentation and training for others in the company.

So to the person trapped inside – how do I reflect you? How do I get you out? Time I guess and perseverance. Right now I keep staring at my reflection and keep wondering when I will win, when will I be set free and given a chance? Rather than locked away waiting for a chance to shine. I wear a mask but I am not fooling anyone except myself clearly. The time is nigh….

For now I leave you with a song which is close to my heart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8GUCQQZS64 Christina Aguilera – Reflection

The importance of self-belief in me and you

I always get little spurts of inspiration from my driving instructor funnily enough because he talks some sense! He should but he’s rather philosophical too. What he says makes sense but I was telling him how I have 3 weeks till my theory ends and I am unsure about time and whether I’ll be able to take the test. He said to me that he could give me a million lessons but if I don’t have self-belief then I won’t be able to do it. He’s right off course, I’ve been through 2 tests already and I could do it, but my confidence and self-belief was shattered second time round. This is true in anything in life though self-belief is very important. If my doctor doubted his skills and doubted himself then I would probably not have much faith in him to carry out my operation. I would reject his help. We take risks in people who are worth taking the risks in because they believe what they can do and they believe they will do it. We put so much of our faith in people who persuade us who can fix the world.

When a person believes in themselves, anything becomes possible. So what stops us from believing in ourselves? What stops us from doing the things we want? Well its simple really, it’s a mix of fear and self-belief and sometimes these have such a powerful affect on us, we don’t even know we are affected. When they are coupled together they make the greatest force and also the greatest enemies.

A little thought I had was that:

If you ain’t got self-belief you’re playing a lost man’s game

This is the truth, because how can you go in the game to win, if you have no confidence or trust in yourself? You won’t win, not because you can’t but because you don’t believe that you can. It’s all in the power of positive thinking, or so I’ve been told, and it’s true, but sometimes we don’t want to accept the truth. We just want to find reasons not to, reasons to run or reasons not to do something again. I hate public speaking, so when I was at school I used to run to the back of the line whenever I came to the front, just so that I wouldn’t have to speak. Or I used to stay quiet when the teacher said who hasn’t delivered their presentation? She forgot about me because a) teacher wants to move on to the next task, and b) there’s more than 30 pupils in a class and I was very quiet and easy to miss which worked very well in my favour. However, this fear stopped me from developing on my skills, and it also stopped me from facing my fears. But this isn’t the only thing which stopped me, because fear does not work alone. It is founded on an irrational pre-existing belief and coupled together makes the worst form of hate. Lack of self-worth or lack of trust in the self damages self-esteem. Just like years of trust can be broken in minutes. It takes years to build relationships which can be destroyed so very easily in a matter of seconds. We build things up but we crumble beneath the weight of consequences. Why did I have a fear of standing up in front of people and talking? It’s not just because I was afraid, it was also because I had the stupid notion that I would be rejected, that I would somehow fail and people would laugh. I had the crazy idea that what I said was not ‘right’ or of any significance and I wonder how a person can get to such a low ebb at such a young age? Maybe because I never had a voice, I don’t know. It’s complex but the reasons are there.

To succeed in life, is to think I can do something, but it is also to believe that you can do it.

So this is the answer then, this is what stops me. It’s not just fear but it is self-belief. So why do I keep fighting myself? Why is everyday a battle in the mind? Where did this self-destructive mentality come from? Years of bitterness and feelings of self-worth, of being walked all over, trashed and stepped on and it time to get up, dust myself off and walk away.

I can understand where it comes from and I can understand how subtly it develops and affects me in everyday life. I can see it now and I can understand how its roots take shape and develop and grow as you grow so when you’re older you can feel constricted when you try to spread your branches. The tree of my life and how seeds take root and develop. Tiny seeds of doubt, tiny seeds of hate and self-loathing. Years of torment from cruel children, put downs by loved ones and rules by society. They say seeing is believing and I suppose that is true to an extent because it is only now I see. These all inhibit progress and you can’t progress till you let go of the past. Why do we hold on tight to the past? to the hurtful things people say? I realised that we keep the negative things that people say rather than the positive. We take it in and it cuts us a little bit, only a small cut, but after a while the cut deepens. It’s a vicious cycle and now it’s time to break from it. I admit it’s hard to break from a habit and it’s hard to break from such a long held mentality. It’s hard to break free, but it has to be done if I want to succeed and if I want to live. It can be done but it takes time and effort and perseverance and I’ve got all the time in the world.

So I leave you with my parting thoughts:

To not believe is to reject the self and who I truly am. It is ultimately self-denial and this must no longer win in my life because I need to accept me. It’s my turn to win in this game and to succeed and fight till the battle is finally won.

This is me! Self-discovery alas….

So today I am writing about self-confidence and personal freedom. Last week I did something I wouldn’t usually do- I saw an offer to take up yogapilates and I grabbed it and decided to go for it. What do I have to lose right? So I was meant to go last Thursday but the timetable was changed and instead they gave me a free class of Pilates on Saturday! I wasn’t nervous and I feel like I have turned over a new leaf. No in fact I feel like I have rediscovered myself- the person I used to be- someone who had little fear and would just go for things! It made me realise that I do a lot of things by myself and I am not afraid to do it. I am independent! I don’t need a friend, boyfriend or parent to hold my hand and take me to the class. I noticed a lot of people brought friends, boyfriends or someone they knew with them to the class and I felt proud of myself that I could do things by myself. It also made me think back to all the things I have been doing by myself. It made me reflect about all those times I did things alone- the time when I was in my 2nd year of university and I wanted to join a club so I decided to join the University Club- I knew no one but I was not afraid, I travelled in the night alone (I was crazy travelling late at night in the darkness trying to find this climbing wall!) I am reckless sometimes, but I don’t feel alone! A presence is out there and I believe it to be God! Others may call it something else but this isn’t about belief- this is about taking chances. Anyway like I was saying I met new people but the point is I started it alone.

I decided to work in America for 2.5 months and then travel for another 2 months! I really don’t think things through but I am spontaneous! I don’t plan, well I do but not meticulously! I went to America naive thinking everything will be fine without little preparation and boy did I get the shock of my life! But again I reiterate I did it alone! I was not afraid to travel alone, to meet new people. It was a great experience looking back. I have been concentrating too much on the negative and now looking back I think of the positive. I am not afraid to jump into the deep end and that is something I have been overlooking for some time! I may be slow sometimes, act silly, say stupid things and talk like a baby around family but I am 21! I like to live and learn. I like experiencing new things. I like being a kid around my family and messing about. I don’t want to always be serious. Sometimes I ask stupid questions without thinking, so sue me!?!

I have no one to travel with and I would love to travel but I have always been forced to do things by myself because no one wants to join me! I ask friends if they want to go on holiday and they say yes but nothing ever comes from it. I search and then I realise they are not serious about it! I say I want to join a dance club and they agree but again if it doesn’t meet their schedule or it is just an idea then we can’t do it. I can’t dance very well and my co-ordination but I don’t care I am willing to try which is one of the most important things! Don’t kick me out because I suck- at least I am trying which is more than most people can say! (Not that I have been kicked out! 😉 I’m just saying!) The difference with me is when I have an idea I like to follow through with it! I am not one of those people who sit there dreaming- well actually I am but I also take action too! In my first year I told a friend I want more and I want to be more adventurous and join the climbing club; he laughed. Two years later I met him again and he told me that he did not actually think I would follow through because they were just dreams! But I will if I want something.

Some people may think I lead a lonely life and maybe I kind of do- I have no husband, boyfriend, but I do have friends and they don’t cling to me, nor do I cling to them. I don’t need anyone to do something I want to do and that feels great because I can just do it!!!! I can’t express the feeling but it feels like true freedom! I looked around when I went to this Pilates class and realised I am here by myself and I don’t care. I know no-one but again I don’t care. I am here to exercise and meet new people and have fun. It was a great class! you can really work out a sweat! Anyway the main thing is that if you are alone it doesn’t matter because you can do whatever you want! What’s there to be afraid of? I am re-discovering myself and day by day I feel like I am growing in confidence! This is my chance to shine- I just hope I make the most of all the opportunities that come my way! NO MORE REGRETS! I am strong and I can do anything I want! I am happy in that knowledge because I know I have come so far! 🙂

What does it mean to be in the unknown?

Today I am struggling with quite an interesting topic but which I would like to reflect objectively but will also try to keep a positive reflection on it. I am grappling with many ideas after reading a psychic reading and not because I am convinced that I want to find out what my future holds and pay $80 because I am unconvinced. Although a lot of what was written seemed to be true- I did not necessarily view my life as completely negative though I can be negative sometimes. But mostly I try to be optimistic. I am not materialistic and I do not care much for money except to have enough to enjoy a good life. I don’t need fancy phones or fancy gadgets. I just want happiness but obviously happiness is not a continuous state. It is constantly in flux.

What struck me about the psychic reading was that the woman was trying to convince me to buy her services and let her help me. The examples she used of not knowing what the future holds and how we must not walk in darkness really hit me. That is how I live my life- I take each day as it comes. I don’t expect anything to happen. I just live. But is that wrong? She makes it sound wrong. It reminded me of my brother who always said “what are you going to do with your life? You can’t keep walking around waiting for something to hit you.” Life is not like that. But the thing is I continue to walk in the unknown- I continue to wait for something to hit me in the face. The psychic gave an interesting example about a series of doors and how if we knew what was behind the doors we would avoid the bad and stick to the good. We wouldn’t just pick random doors in the hope of catching the good. Its not right to walk into the unknown unprepared. But truthfully I find it more exciting. You never know what could happen and you never have expectations. I mean how can you know what is the best choice until you make a choice! It is so easy for someone to say you should plan and prepare yourself. Well yes you should for quite a few things but life is unplanned.

I don’t know if life is planned. I don’t know if I believe completely in destiny. Saying that I suppose I contradict myself when I say that I believe that “Everything happens for a reason” because I truly do believe that. So perhaps then there is such a thing as destiny and a planned life. Though I would not consider myself a hard determinist nor would I consider myself a libertarianist because I do not believe we have complete freedom to act. Our choices are limited sometimes by external factors. For example if I wake up in the morning and I want pancakes- I can’t have pancakes if I have no eggs or flour. In that sense I am limited to act. Though one may argue I have the choice despite that and I have the choice to go out and buy eggs. But then I don’t have that choice if I am in a rush and I am restricted by time constraints. I consider myself a soft determinist because honestly that is the one that seems to make the most sense to me. We do have some freedom though it is limited. We have some control though some things are out of our control. It is like the example Hobbes gave about a flowing stream of water that is constrained to flow one way which is downwards- it cannot flow up, however it can flow in different directions downwards. It is limited by not being able to flow up, but is still has some choice to flow freely downwards. This is the same with life- we do have some control over the present and what we choose to do. I could potentially quit my job but I may not want to. I could go on holiday if I have the funds, but I am scared. Things such as external factors limit us and that may be fear, time, money, people etc. We have no control over death- not really. We can’t control our death- though some may argue that we could- we can choose when we want to die by choosing to kill ourselves. But not really. We don’t know what fate or destiny has in store for us. We don’t know how the future will pan out and it would be great to know but it would also be pretty crap.

How can we learn from our mistakes when we already know what they will be? Yes I walk in the darkness and I have no idea where my life is going. I find it hard to climb out the rut and my future is completely unknown because I have no idea what will happen tomorrow. But I can’t control that and I can’t change that because plans change. You may think you have a plan but it all changes because of circumstance.

I would love to pick the right doors and avoid the evil, hurt and pain. But that is simply to easy. The game is never easy! People always say “Oh if only I had known better!” “If only I did that instead of this…” But the thing is how could you know? You made a decision based on the evidence you were presented with or based on your feelings. You made that choice so when you make your bed you have to lie in it. You can only become wise by learning.

No one can protect me from the unknown. No one can tell me what the future holds. I mean psychics probably could and I could heed your warning and even if they are telling the truth I am making a choice right there and then. Some people would call me foolish to follow the psychic and some might say I was right if everything turned out well. I won’t blame anyone for my mistakes except me because I made them. I won’t heed your warning because even though I am completely afraid of the unknown, it is the best thing I have right now. Surprise me.

Life never forgets to surprise you! It happens more than once! The psychic tells me I will be happy for 6 months and I must sign up to find out more- but I don’t want happiness for 6 months! I want happiness for life! 🙂 But most of all I need to learn by myself and make my own mistakes. I need to exercise the right amount of caution. But I need to be positive.

So I ask you what does it mean to be in the unknown? Does it mean to be lost? Am I lost now? Maybe. I don’t know but somehow I’ll find my way out the darkness. There has to be a light and there will be a light. Life might just throw something in your way!