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)

Jealousy, insecurity and acknowledging worth beyond physical appearance

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Recently I noticed a deep pang of insecurity and jealousy that would accompany a scroll through my Instagram feed whenever I saw a pretty girl or even in real life when I saw or heard something particularly insecurity-inducing (i.e. a recent headline where a four year old kid had managed to complete a university degree, start up a million dollar company, buy a house and not make his parents want to disappear into thin air whenever they were asked what their child did for a living).

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Trying to become more self-aware has its pros and cons. A pro would be the ability to monitor our actions and thoughts more consciously. A con, on the other hand would be the self-denial that often accompanies trying to pretend that we didn’t just think something like ‘OMG woe is me, I’m so inferior to this pretty girl on IG’.

And so I wrote about my thoughts in my journal. And I began to connect some dots.

Yay to self-improvement.

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Have I bought into the idea that my sole value as a person= my appearance? What is it that causes some girls to compare themselves aesthetically to other girls?

How many times have you heard the ‘she’s not even that pretty anyway’ line be spat out by someone in a tone so infused with bitterness/jealousy you have to wonder…

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Karly Randolph Pitman, founder of the ‘growing human (kind)ness website‘ provides excellent remedies to deal with this tendency to feel insecure and jealous in the presence of pretty women. A particularly profound observation in the article is that:

This competitive drive, this need to label – am I beautiful? am I pretty? how pretty? where do I fall in the beauty spectrum? – keeps us from honoring our unique beauty. It squelches our individuality. Instead of enjoying our beauty, and trying to be our best selves, we act like junior high girls who all have to dress alike, talk alike, and look alike.

Pitman encourages the unleashing of our unique styles and beauty. She seems to acknowledge the weight that appearances can hold, citing the authenticity that comes with individual fashion choices, i.e. her friend’s “courage to wear a skirt and knee high boots in the middle of a Montana winter”.

This got me thinking.

On this journey of becoming more secure in ourselves, there seem to be two sides to the coin (or at least I think there should be). The one where we can find our own “aesthetic” and accept how we look and the one where we remember that looks are not everything, i.e. with a similar zeal to how Shia Labeouf screams…

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,we should remind ourselves that THERE IS WORTH BEYOND PHYSICAL APPEARANCE!

It’s all about balance.

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Now in saying all this cute stuff about looks not being everything etc, I feel it is important to acknowledge that in our society there is value placed on appearance.

In other words, it matters.

Look around you. Look at yourself even.

A lot us care how about we look. Some of us see our fashion choices as a form of self-expression. Some of us spend a considerable amount of time putting together the perfect outfit. We have skincare routines. We wear make-up. We style our hair. We spruce up for events.

People are judged off of appearances.

*A more extensive list of our superficial tendencies follows*

We take selfies.

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We hype up our friends when we think they look good and hype ourselves up when we feel we look good.

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I feel like more examples of this “value” in appearance include the fact that some of us, when we deem someone to be attractive will either think it or say it out loud.

Another example is the fact that the modelling industry wants models of a certain height and body frame.

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Looks also play a role in the job interview process, first impressions and more.

And regardless of our opinions on the previous phenomena, they happen and will probably continue to happen.

My point, however, is that there should come a point where we remind ourselves of our worth and value beyond physical appearance.  I say remind because I feel like it’s easy to forget there is more to us than our external appearances.

Pitman even acknowledges this when she states that:

Jealous feelings can arise when we’re being inauthentic – silencing our style or our beauty, or, on a greater level, the very things that bring us happiness – and we see another woman who is expressing her style and beauty.

I feel that the introduction of “the very things that bring us happiness” here emphasises the inner part of a person. The part that goes beyond style and beauty.

The way I try to remind myself of this worth beyond my physical appearance is by turning my positive affirmations into questions on the basis of the assertion that they encourage you to probe for answers as opposed to just making a declarative statement. 

For example, instead of saying ‘there is worth beyond how I look’, I’ll ask myself ‘is there worth beyond how I look?’ and then I’ll ask myself ‘why?’

Other reminders of this worth beyond physical appearance include YouTuber Marian Ali  who hilariously discusses her quest to pursue what she describes as ‘the finest black dude she has ever seen’ on her campus only to find that ‘there was not a lot going on upstairs’.

What else can you bring to the table besides how you look? Are you a brick wall when it comes to holding a conversation? What kind of energy do you bring? Do you have any hobbies? Do you have any future plans or are you silently rotting away in a state of refined apathy?

Before you feel attacked, don’t worry, I’m talking to myself too. These are the questions that keep me up at night.

I’m going to close this blog post with a quote from a book called Psycho-cybernetics by Dr Maxwell Marx- referenced by Sean Cooper in this article:

You are not inferior, you are not superior, you are simply YOU.

He adds that ‘one’s value comes from their uniqueness’ and I think this uniqueness can and is definitely reflected externally for some people (I for instance like to wear my jeans inside out) but my point is, let’s remind ourselves of our worth beyond how we look in the midst of what they’re calling the age of social media.

Also I’d really recommend this article- https://growinghumankindness.com/jealous-of-pretty-women-turn-your-envy-into-inspiration/.

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On accepting reality and the magical world of daydreaming

To the daydreamers. To the ones who constantly find themselves zoning out in the middle of an important task. To all of us because all of us do it, albeit some more than others. I include myself in ‘us’ and I hope you can relate to my musings on the matter. I hope to communicate that the delightful nature of daydreaming should be used to propel us forward rather than allow us to remain comfortable or stagnant in the pursuit of our goals.

We all ‘space out’ and for a lot us, these momentary lapses in attention are filled with thoughts that pertain to what we’d rather be doing in that moment, i.e. succeeding in our future careers, travelling the world, having fun or even eating some good food later.

In my humble opinion, there are many types of daydreams. There are the music induced ones, the daydreams-before-sleep and the boredom induced ones where my mind strays so far I wonder how I got there and how I’ll get back and make it look like I heard everything my fellow interlocutor just said. There’s also mind-wandering whilst working on an important task like a revision or a university assignment.

In case you found my subjective account of the types of daydreams unsatisfactory, Dr Jerome L. Singer (a specialist in research on the psychology of imagination and daydreaming) has differentiated between three styles of daydreaming.

1) Positive constructive daydreaming (identified as containing wishful and playful imagery as well as planful, creative thought). I strongly feel that music-induced daydreams would fit into this style of daydream because what’s not playful and wishful about imagining you’re in the back of a car on a road trip, hands held in the air basking in the radiance of the sun?

2) Guilty-dysphoric or guilty-fear-of-failure daydreaming (identified by obsessive, anguished fantasies)
3) Poor attentional control (characterised by the inability to remain focussed on either the ongoing thought or the external task) – boredom induced daydreams anyone?
(McMillan, Kaufman and Singer, 2013).
The world of daydreaming is a vast one. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to concentrate on ‘positive constructive daydreaming’ which has been associated with being open to experiences, curiosity, exploration of ideas, feelings and sensations (McMillan, Kaufman and Singer, 2013). These are all pretty positive associations and do not reflect the slightly more negative ones that come with styles two and three, i.e. low levels of conscientiousness for ‘Poor attentional control’ daydreaming’. I can relate to this and yes it’s slighlty concerning but hey, another topic for another day.
I make the assertion that the specific type of daydreams I will discuss here (those pertaining to one’s real life goals) belong predominantly to the style of ‘Positive Constructive Daydreaming’. This is based on the positive connotations of this type of mind-wandering. I believe that these are the daydreams grounded in the potential of a reality that may come into fruition.

For me, in the same way that psychologist Carl Rogers proposed the idea of incongruence between your ideal self (what you want to be) and your self-image (your actual behaviour) (McLeod, 2014), there seems to be a discrepancy that exists between the ‘me’ in my daydreams and the ‘me’ right now. This can feel frustrating at times.

Translation of the previous paragraph in 3, 2, 1…

Why can’t I skip to the part when all my goals are accomplished?

Wouldn’t my life be so much better if things really were like my daydreams?

Why this? Why that?

These are the questions that can accompany said frustration.

Ultimately, when I wriggle my way out of the colourful world of my daydreams, reality has a tendency to seem dreary and astonishingly bland in comparison.

The content of my daydreams (the bright colours, the happiness, the success) doesn’t seem to be mirrored in my daily life and sometimes in all honesty, my behaviour isn’t even conducive to some of these dreams.

I haven’t set deadlines for my goals. I’m not taking any tangible steps towards them. Empty boxes waiting to be ticked stare at me from where they’re hung on my wall, as well as a gazillion bookmarked pages on my laptop waiting to be read and a vision board that once seemed like a good idea appears sickeningly idealistic upon second glance.

For me, in moments like these, accepting my reality can be a way of escaping this frustration. Accepting that I have a 4000 word essay due in two days (4000 words of which only a shambolic introduction has been written). Accepting that it feels like my shift has only just started even though several hours have passed. Accepting that it’s 4am in the morning and I’m sat at my laptop eating (insert extremely unhealthy food item here) whilst knee deep in the weird side of YouTube. Accepting that I’m not where I envisioned I would be having zealously written a to-do-list the previous night.

Acceptance.

Now, not to contradict myself but some of you may be able to relate the following. As much as accepting our current reality is good, for me, when I accept what could be a relatively mundane or disheartening reality, I also acknowledge the comforting role that daydreaming plays. Daydreams remind me that my current reality will not or does not always have to be a certain way. They help me create a mental picture of my goals. Further benefits of daydreaming are substantiated by the following observations,

“We mind wander, by choice or accident, because it produces tangible reward when measured against goals and aspirations that are personally meaningful. Having to reread a line of text three times because our attention has drifted away matters very little if that attention shift has allowed us to access a key insight, a precious memory or make sense of a troubling event.

(McMillan, Kaufman and Singer, 2013)

Nonetheless, I also feel that it is important for those of us who find ourselves lost in our daydreams to realise that our dreams don’t get accomplished by just thinking about them. Well at least that’s my personal experience. You might have superpowers.

There is definitely a euphoric sense that accompanies the painting of the perfect mental picture. But I’m sure it won’t compare to the feeling of transforming a dream into actual reality as opposed to something that just exists in my weird little mind.

I also think it’s good to remember the importance of being present (something that I honestly find quite difficult). For example, sometimes I feel excused for, say, daydreaming about my future career whilst writing an essay. And then I remember that if I don’t ‘come back to earth’, hours will go by and the essay will unfortunately remain unwritten.

“Focus on the task at hand and return to the dream later, not just to dream though but to think about what you can do to make the dream tangible”. –A quote by me.

I would hate to grow old and regret not having taken any tangible steps towards achieving my goals. Can you imagine?

TEN YEARS FROM NOW:

Person (insert name of someone whose opinion you hold somewhat dear to your heart): So what’s your proudest achievement?
You: Erm, becoming the world’s number one ‘chubby bunny’ competitor.
Person: Oh cool.
You: (suddenly plagued by the fear of appearing disingenuous) I mean I never actually accomplished it. But I dreamt about it.
*tumbleweeds blow across the plains of an empty desert*

Let’s dream and do people.

References
McLeod, S. (2014). Carl Rogers | Simply Psychology. [online] Simplypsychology.org. Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/carl-rogers.html [Accessed 11 May 2018].

McMillan, R., Kaufman, S. and Singer, J. (2013). Ode to positive constructive daydreaming.Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 4. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00626/full.

The curious case of telling someone you study an arts & humanities degree

This is going to be a fairly short blog post, just on what I’ve noticed recently. Some of you may be able to relate…

The small talk at the end of a church service or a social gathering, or perhaps a relative, maybe a family friend is round your house. They’re preparing to leave and then from the mouth of a friend of  a friend, a family friend, an uncle, an auntie (the list goes on), comes the question,

‘So, what are you going to study?’.

So, depending on the person comes either a reaction of praise and respect or one of disdain that artfully morphs itself into an ‘ohhh’ and a forced smile that’s not quite convincing  enough to mask the confusion, disapproval or even judgement in their eyes.

What I’m trying to do these days is not be so easily swayed by the reaction that ensues my answer to the ‘so what are you going to study?’ question. Because, as with any or most arts and humanities degree students, you’re either met with a response of appreciation, maybe even a little ‘ooh’ or people who inadvertently tell you that your degree is useless.

So the next time you have to answer this question, don’t pay too much attention to the reaction – whether good or bad. Because this temptation to care too much simply makes us even bigger slaves to the opinion of another person who’s (let’s be honest now) essentially calculating how important or smart we are on the basis of our degree choice.

Don’t take it too seriously.

Let’s just see how far we get with these ‘useless’ degrees of ours.

 

 

 

THE CONSTANT CHATTER AROUND BLACK HAIR AND WHY I STOPPED CARING:

We (black girls) never seem to win.

It’s not like this wasn’t apparent to me before… but on that particular Friday when I had left my earphones at home- a particularly interesting conversation between a group of black girls and guys caught my attention. They were arguing about hair. According to some of them, weaves and wigs were simply for insecure girls too ashamed to wear their real hair. Others argued that weaves were a blessing for those of us with “the more tightly curled hair”.

Sorry what?

Opinions on black hair within the black community are divided. From the strange look you get from a ‘concerned’ relative when you decide to rock your fro to the debate of natural versus relaxed.  There is always a point of discussion.  There is always something to be said. Like a tweet I read, which mocked natural girls on the premise that being natural was for broke people. Or- if we flip it around- the black women who argue that fellow women who wear weaves are basically “trying to be white”.

There seems to be a kind of pompousness that has trailed behind the wonderful going natural movement. This pompousness has caused some members of the movement to look down upon any other black woman who are not natural. It’s almost as if being natural comes with a sense of enlightenment which means that any woman with a wig, weave or the like is instantly seen as a problem.

This is where I have a problem. It is one thing to acknowledge that some black girls may feel insecure because of their hair and it is another to link this insecurity with simply experimenting with your aesthetic.  To assume that all girls who wear weaves are insecure is too broad a generalisation (IMO). Because, let’s be honest, when it’s cold outside, some of us would like to keep those ends wrapped up and look good whilst doing so.

To clarify, we should not ignore the fact that some black girls feel insecure about their real hair, NEITHER SHOULD WE ASSUME THIS IS THE CASE FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US.

I know for a fact that some of us may use wigs, weaves and braids not as a protective style or simply as an aesthetic change but as a ‘cover-up’. I know some us cannot get our heads around the fact that *Jane* over there is rocking her tightly curled hair up in a high puff. I know some of us may agree with the girl who said being natural equates to being broke because you can’t afford to buy any “inches”. But I also know that for some of us, wearing wigs and weaves is not a reflection of our insecurity.

And for the black women and the black men who criticise those of us who wear our natural hair out… Well then. Remember that your comments may affect the woman, who, on the basis of your words decides to “go natural”; only to become subject to even more negativity.  Let’s take, for example, the guy who asked a friend why she doesn’t just “do something with her hair” as if the flat twist out she’d spent her morning perfecting was not “done” enough.

Sorry, but I beg to differ.

The focus, in my humble opinion, needs to be on the maintenance of the health of our hair– as opposed to shaming and condemning others for the styles they choose.

I love my natural hair. I love the tight curls. I love how I can experiment with its texture using bantu knot outs or twists. I love how I can rock a fro if I feel like it. And I also love the fact that if I wanted to get a weave or braids I could- provided my bank account isn’t looking a lil’ bit…

So there is no team this versus team that debate in my eyes. This means that you do not tell me that my natural hair looks “nappy” or “too bushy” nor can I assume immediate superiority over another woman rocking a wig.

Choices will always be criticised or ridiculed. A black guy once told me my hair looks like pubes. Well, let me just add in the adverb “cute” there…  A black girl once asked another why she wears weave. But in reality, her enquiry was more like an inquisition. When there are already numerous ways in which black hair is discriminated against- externally– there is no need to perpetuate these attitudes against ourselves.

Just remember that when we take out the braids, the weave and the like- what we are left with is what we should love.

 

And with this realisation comes the ability to justify exactly why I stopped caring.