On the fence

Have you ever watched or heard something that gets you thinking, like really thinking? To the point where you start to question the things you currently do or believe in?

I think it’s good to feel challenged in this way from time to time. I see it as an opportunity to question things. This doesn’t have to mean sudden abandonment of everything you’ve ever believed in but it can mean further examination of your beliefs. It can also mean realising how little you know about a certain topic.

Some of us know where we currently stand as it pertains to religion, politics, what we value in life etc (even if it’s just a rough idea).

But for those of us who wobble a little, have a tendency to be easily swayed and find ourselves on the fence a lot – maybe it’s time we started being more proactive in figuring out our beliefs.

Just a few disclaimers here:

  • I’m not saying that “I don’t know” is an inadequate response. Isn’t it freeing to admit that in all honesty you don’t know how you feel about X or Y or that you’re still figuring out your thoughts?
  • I’m just saying that “I don’t know” shouldn’t be our only response to questions concerning our opinions (be they self-directed or from others). After all, no-one wants to be Bert from “Horrid Henry” right?
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Source: https://www.emaze.com/@ACRTCFF

(And this is coming from someone whose frequent response to my youngest sister’s existential questions is indeed “I dunno”).

  • It’s also not like we’re constantly being quizzed on our beliefs.

I just feel that, for the sake of our own sanity and self – confidence, maybe we should hop off the fence every once in a while. Have a look what’s on the other side, you know?

As a confused individual, some of the ways I like do this include Google searches, watching YouTube videos, reading articles. The list goes on.

Getting off the fence as it pertains to X (X being different for everybody) isn’t an overnight journey. It also doesn’t have to be a permanent state of being.

Perhaps the uncertainty we feel whenever we watch a spirited debate or we’re on the receiving end of a probing question is a nudge. A nudge urging us to acquire not an entirely stable certainty but one in which we know what we believe in and why, albeit not at the expense of open-mindedness.

A closing question to consider: When was the last time you felt “challenged” and what did it reveal to you about your current beliefs and your certainty (or lack thereof) in them?

To the single people out there…

DISCLAIMER: Firstly, this blog post is not anti-relationships. Secondly, I’m aware that not all single people want to be in relationships one day. Some of us are what social psychologist Bella DePaulo calls “single at heart”; people who are single “because it suits them” and because it’s “who they really are” . Others are waiting for the right person. Some of us are dating. Some of us don’t know what we want. Whatever category you fit into, hopefully you find something of value in this blog post.

(Inspired by Mbalenhle’s “You are the one you’ve been looking for” ).

To the single people and to the daydreamers…

A lot of us who have currently (or perpetually) non-existent love lives fantasise about one. A cute couple on Instagram, a conversation with a friend or a wedding scene in a movie can be the catalyst for a series of “what-ifs” in our head that are then the catalyst for…

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Source: http://www.saragillianne.com/2014/11/07/wedding-planners-wedding-board/

But a lot of the time, as Mbalenhle notes – that person in our daydreams doesn’t have any imperfections. The world that we dream of, the world in which you and “they” hypothetically exist is faultless; ethereal almost.

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Source: http://2dopeboyz.com/2018/05/18/sza-garden-video-starring-donald-glover/

It’s nice to dream.

But how do we balance between the fantasy and our current reality? How do we stop ourselves from adopting a ‘when I’m…’ mindset in regards to relationships? By this I mean:

the “when I meet someone, then I’ll be good” mindset.

The idea that you’re waiting around to be happy and to finally feel valued and complete.

There’s so much value placed on being in a relationship that it’s often regarded as the only true way to feel complete.

Yes, some of us find being single hard and want to be in relationships. YUMI (Youtuber) gets real about this in her “valentine’s day real talk: being single sucks sometimes” video. And yes, relationships are a good thing- fulfilling a basic human need for companionship.

My point however, is this:

YOU CAN BE SINGLE AND HAPPY!

It just takes more of a concentrated effort in a world where “#relationshipgoals” exist and you’re asked “What’s wrong with you?” after telling someone you’re single (a question usually accompanied by an array of naturally well-meaning but ultimately back-handed compliments).

So, how can you be happy and single?

  • Realise that your feelings toward being single may vary. On some days, you will be over the moon; glad that you’re free and exempt from any stresses of being in a relationship. On other days though, you may wonder when exactly you will meet “the one”. So, when you find yourself feeling disheartened, don’t fret too much. By tomorrow you’ll probably be team #singlelifeisamazing again.
  • Acknowledge the other relationships in your life. Remind yourself of your family and friends and the value that they add to your life. Relationships are not limited to romantic ones.
  • Develop a healthy relationship with yourself. Editor, Margarita Tartakovsky, at PscyhCentral provides some useful tips for doing so here.

Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of everything.

Susannah Conway (author, photographer and teacher)

A healthy self- relationship can help remind you that another person cannot be your ultimate source of happiness.

To me, a healthy self-relationship is one where you get to know and value yourself as a whole. This means an awareness of your strengths and your shortcomings. It also includes the ability to self-reflect; something that comes hand in hand with solitude, another very beautiful thing.

When you surround yourself with moments of solitude and stillness, you become intimately familiar with your environment in a way that forced stimulation doesn’t allow.

Zat Rana

  • Vent to your friends. Being single can be an interesting experience. One where a multitude of feelings are involved. Talking to your friends who are in the same or similar positions, helps you to realise that no, it’s not just you who wonders if you’ll ever be in a relationship. It’s not just you that is growing tired of fruitless dates. It’s not just you who keeps getting their hopes up only to be disappointed. It’s not just you who’s never been in a relationship. It’s not just you that hasn’t been on a date.

Whenever anxious thoughts concerning singleness flood your mind, find happiness in relating with others or in simply reminding yourself that:

it’s not just you.

Because it really isn’t. And no, there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re not in a relationship.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S Lewis

Personality is not about what we have done or even what we like. It is about how we are in the world, and this infuses everything we do. Personality is the part of ourselves we take everywhere… so it is worth knowing something about.

Meg Jay refers to “The Big Five” ; one of “the simplest and most widely researched models of personality” which measures five personality traits; openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Then there’s the Myers-Briggs personality test, which I have found to be very insightful. This test, however, has been deemed low in scientific validity. The Big Five personality test also has its issues.

A quirky quiz probably isn’t going to tell you much about your innermost essence.

With all this mind, I guess all I can say is proceed with caution.

Will I stop nodding vehemently every time I read a “20 things all INFPs (my Myers-Briggs personality type) will relate to” article?

Probably not.

It’s a matter of taking things with a pinch of salt.

Olivia Goldhill, reporter for the Quartz news website, says this:

Contrary to the popular idea that we have some inherent true self, our personality is best scientifically evaluated simply according to how we—and those around us—see ourselves.

Regardless of the methods we choose to get to know ourselves, “The Book of Life” (an offshoot of The school of Life) in a chapter called “Self” states that:

A lack of self-knowledge leaves you open to accident and mistaken ambitions.

An example of this “accident” or “mistaken ambition” as it pertains to this topic is choosing the wrong partner.

All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out.

(Source: https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/know-yourself/)

Although the “knowledge of our own neuroses is not at all easy to come by”, I’m sure that looking deep enough within ourselves and asking the right questions is a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, when we begin to know ourselves, the things we learn (the ugly things in particular) can be the impetus for a mindset where we acknowledge that if we are to improve as individuals, singleness is not a hindrance but an aid to this process. The possibility for this view of singleness rings especially true when you consider that a poor level of understanding of our characters does not put us in any position to know who we should be looking out for in the first place.

Perhaps there is happiness to be found in discovering and managing one’s own madness before another’s.

  • Pursue your goals. It’s not like being single is this time period where you just wait around for somebody. All of us have goals, activities we want to try, things we’re interested in, projects we’re working on. Remind yourself of the things you’ve wanted to do for a long time.Keep working towards your goals. Imagine getting into a relationship and asking the person “So what you do in your free time?”, only for them to say “Oh, nothing, I was waiting for you”.
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“Well then…”

Beyond the occasional aches concerning singleness, contentment can be found in pursuing your dreams even when the outcome is uncertain. Considering where the completion of your goals can lead to in life is exciting; a destination that is not reliant on the presence of a partner.

  • Delve deeper into your spirituality/faith. To those of you who are spiritual or follow a specific faith, use them as a tool to find contentment whenever you’re feeling unease about your singleness. Robert Puff, clinical psychologist, examines the link between faith and happiness in this article.

How does developing a relationship with God or strengthening an existing one play a role in your life as a single person?

  • Remind yourself that being single is great. The lyrics from Jorja Smith’s “Teenage Fantasy” come to mind for this last point:

When we are young, we all want someone
Who we think is the one, just to fit in
There’s no need to rush, take your time
Life’s a big old ride, sit back and enjoy the vibe

Contentment is what I think of when I hear these lyrics; practicing gratitude for where you are right now:

#SINGLEBUTNOTALONE.

The practice of this gratitude can come through reminding yourself of the perks that come with singleness. Use videos or articles like the one previously linked to do so.

In addition, consider the following:

What are the perks of being single pertaining to you and your life right now?

Regardless of all the tips I’ve listed above, I realise some of you may be thinking “well this is all well and good but…”

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us8cN_GAukU

To those of you who feel more #SINGLEANDALONE, a reminder that your feelings are valid. Check out this post on dealing with loneliness when you’re single.

For now though, to you. Yes, you, you fabulous human being. To freedom, daydreaming, emotional fluctuation and to contentment.

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Source: https://gph.is/1he7IP1

Send help please (on productivity and the lack thereof)

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My inner monologue: “Again? Really? I thought you said you had things to get done. ” (Source: https://youtu.be/y94V6S9Q0BM)

I’m trying. We all are.

I write to-do-lists for each day. Maybe you do too.

The question is do you manage to tick everything off your list when the day is done?

I don’t.

Do you often feel swamped at the mere thought of all the things you need to/ should be doing?

I do.

Summer’s here, which means no university for a while and long, beautiful days which at times lack any sort of agenda.

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Source: http://idiam0nd.tumblr.com/post/93330924650

And so I try to give myself an agenda; asking myself what I should do with all this free time. I remind myself of the things I couldn’t pay much attention to/couldn’t be bothered to do when uni assignments screamed to be written. E.g. exercise.

I begin the day, enthused, ambitious and ready to take on the world.

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Me @ me (Source: http://gph.is/2d2pldm)

“Champion” by Kanye West plays in the background as my eyes excitedly scan over a to-do-list written the night before…

And then all of a sudden it’s almost midnight. And I realise how pathetic I am.

On a good day, three out of maybe like five things on my list have been ticked off. But usually it’s one or none at all. Some days I “forget” my “to-do” list even exists.

Blame over-ambition. Blame waking up late. Blame it on a proclivity for procrastination. Blame siblings (like mine) whose hilariousness is a perpetual distraction.

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Me on a daily basis (Source: https://gph.is/2qGSOO4)

Blame whatever.

Ultimately, I want to do better. You probably do too.

To do lists are helpful as life coach Kirstin O’Donovan notes in her “Why “To-Do” Lists Don’t Work, and How to Change that” Lifehack article. It just depends on how we use them:

“To-do” lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. The same with “to-do” lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

In short the article suggests that one should:

  1. Make different “to – do” lists to work from. E.g. a list for ‘side-projects’.
  2. Estimate how long each task will take. I, as my sister notes, appear to have a warped perspective of time so I’m really bad at this. For those who can relate, O’Donovan suggests practicing this skill on a daily basis.
  3. Prioritise. Try and spend the most time on the tasks that fit into one of two categories: a) Important and urgent and b)Not urgent but important.
  4. Review. Let the list go beyond being just a “to-do” list. O’Donovan provides the example of reviewing the list and using it to plan the week ahead.

A Challenge:

I hope to incorporate some, if not all of the aforementioned tips into my daily planning and I challenge you to join me!

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Source: http://gph.is/1hAWPrm

How it will work:

The challenge will run every day over the course of four weeks (beginning when you want it to).

First off, it will help to have a list of goal(s) you want to achieve or have a rough idea of what these goals are before you begin the challenge:

  • Every night, identify the categories necessary for your to-do list for the next day and write down the tasks belonging in each. These will differ for everyone but one of the examples provided in the article is a “follow-up” list.

(Note that there should be no more than 7 or 8 tasks in one category in accordance with O’Donovan’s observations).

  • Then, estimate how long you think each task will take and note it down, e.g. two hours to edit a piece of work.
  • Following on from this, add a “priority” section to your list. Here you will need to divide your task into four categories:
  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

I plan to assign a number to each priority level, e.g. ‘1’ for ‘Important and Urgent’ and ‘2’ for ‘Not urgent but important’. Then I would write ‘1’ next to ‘Edit work’ for example.

(Note: Try to ensure that the majority of your tasks fall into priority levels ‘1’ and ‘2’, as these are the categories O’Donovan suggests to focus most of our time on).

Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar.

  • (Then repeat).

In summary: The challenge = incorporating some or all of the tips provided into your life on a daily basis.

The goal = Productivity in the following forms:

-to actively begin working towards your goal(s)

and/or

-increased productivity in reference to the goal(s) you’re already working towards.

The questions to ask ourselves after these four weeks include:

  • How much progress have I made toward achieving my goal(s)? – e. g. “I’ve finally started learning guitar”

  and

  • How do I maintain the momentum I’ve built (or lack thereof… we shall see) in the pursuit of my goal(s)? – e.g (as it pertains to the previous example) “By practicing 5 times a week”.

I’ll try my best not to procrastinate on making these changes and after the four weeks are up, I’ll update you on whether or not the tips were helpful as well as any other productivity related stuff I learn during this period of time.

In the meantime, feel free to share any productivity tips that you’ve successfully applied in your own life in the comments section!

Check out the full article referenced here.

P.S. The internet is FULL of tips on how to be more productive. The above is just one example. 

Also, of course the attempt to be more productive will not end after the 4 weeks are up! I just thought it was an adequate time frame to see how things go.

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Peace out

20 things I’ve learnt at 20

This blog post is inspired by several videos on Youtube that I saw; this one in particular – where Youtuber lindseyrem shared what she learned at 19 years of age.
Without further ado, my own list, addressed to myself but hopefully something here resonates with you.

  1. Be your own biggest fan. In the quest and I suppose well founded expectation for loved ones to support your dreams, don’t forget yourself. As Craig Jarrow notes, “If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will. Don’t look to others to define your confidence, you get to make that for yourself”. giphy2. Don’t stay stuck in your comfort zone. As a previous mentor said ‘your comfort zone is only there for resting in’. Once you take a step out, it’s always there waiting for you so don’t be afraid to venture out. giphy (2)3. Start to know your “why”. When it comes to the areas of life you value; be it education, faith, future career, you name it, look into the “why” behind them. Are you just going with the flow? Letting life happen? Living according to other people’s rules and expectations? Examine the reasons behind your actions, beliefs and goals. tumblr_p4le7m0SLh1ultyueo1_500.gif

4. Consistency is key. If you take the time out each day to work towards a specific goal you will achieve it. It will then come to the point where (fellow procrastinators can relate) you question whether actually following through on a task was a figment of your imagination or your reality.

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When it turns out to be the latter, this confusion eventually wanes and hopefully acts as a heartwarming reminder that if you really want to you can.
5. Friends are important; friends you can laugh with, friends who add value to your life and friends you can be vulnerable with without fear of judgement.

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6. It’s okay to be honest. When a friend asks for truthful advice, don’t hide under the sweet guise of a sugar coated reality. And as much as the truth hurts, wouldn’t you want the same?

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7. Youtube is a goldmine for good advice. An example particularly fitting for this post is Youtuber’s Nneoma Ike’s video on surviving one’s 20s.

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8. Keeping a journal is amazing. It’s a good way to stay on top of your emotions and an excellent way to turn tangled thoughts into a somewhat(though not always) coherent form. Check out more benefits of journaling here.

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9. Sometimes you need to choose which emotions to acknowledge and which to ignore. e.g. Fear when it creeps in whispering about the comfort of hiding away in a corner and never actually acting on any of your goals because OMG they may never actually work out and so why put yourself out there in the first place right?

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10) Self-pity is not the solution to your problems. Acknowledge your feelings but don’t wallow in them. There’s only so much a “run-away-from-all-your-problems” nap can do.

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11. MUSIC IS LIFE.

12. You don’t have to know exactly where your life is headed. What matters is the fact that yes you consider your future and begin to take steps in the right direction but don’t stress too much about the specifics. In a recent career meeting, my career advisor spoke of planned happenstance- a theory put forward by Professor John Krumboltz of Stanford University which states that “even if you don’t know exactly where your actions will lead, just by being active and doing the right kinds of things, great things can and will happen.”

Source: https://everydaythingsetc.com/2011/09/18/success-reality-vs-fantasy/

13. You’ll probably always be a daydreamer; don’t fight it. As much as you may find yourself frustrated at your tendency to mind-wander, try and focus on turning the tangible daydreams into a reality as opposed to saying you’ll stop daydreaming all together.

Source: http://elizabeth-dunn-with-you.tumblr.com/

14. Becoming self-aware and getting to know yourself is an ongoing process.

It took me thirty years and more to learn,
And I’m still learning who I really am.

-“Finding Myself” by Esther Spurrill Jones

(excerpt from https://writingcooperative.com/how-to-write-a-poem-got-rhythm-29c42cdb3ec0
15. The things which you deem to be negative about yourself (and feel compelled to change) cannot be changed overnight

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/jesserobbins/devops-change/33-Change_takes_timesorry_about_thatFriday

16. Don’t take things too personally. From the people that read messages and don’t reply to the people that see you in public and all of a sudden become oh so fascinated by the tarmac on the floor. It’s probably not always a good idea to use such instances as a catalyst for impassioned self-interrogation. E.g. What did I do wrong? Are they mad at me etc. It’s not always about you and besides, you’ve probably done one or both of these things before. Keep it moving.

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17. Own who you are. If you’re firm enough in the decisions you’ve made or in your truths, it’s harder for people to use them against you or attempt to belittle you. This goes hand in hand with accepting yourself as you are.

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18. Care more about how you perceive the goals you’ve set for yourself rather than how other people perceive them. When you make your goals, they’re for you, not for other people’s critiques. You determine how valuable your goals are and are then able to modify (or not modify) them accordingly.

How To Actually Stop Caring: …the solution to being sensitive to what people think is NOT to care less… but to care more about what you think of yourself. The people who seem to “not care” the most are actually just firmly rooted in their own values.

Source: http://shynesssocialanxiety.com/inferiority-complex
19. Remember your mortality. Let it be your impetus to live a purposeful and fulfilling life.

Source: http://mywordart.co.za/product/teach-us-to-number-our-days-psalm-9012/

20. You have so much you’re yet to experience. Even though you’re officially an ‘adult’, don’t feel any pressure to act differently. Take it day by day. Be patient. Just keep learning and growing as you enter what clinical psychologist, Dr Meg Jay, terms the ‘most important decade of your life’.giphy (7)