30 x 30

T-minus 6 months (and 2 days) until I turn 30. And as such, I’ve decided to make a list of 30 things I wish to do / 30 goals I’d like to achieve, by age 30:

  1. Visit 30 new cities
  2. Do 30 minutes of meditation or mindfulness each day
  3. Learn to be kind to myself
  4. Walk 30 km each week
  5. Eat fruits & veggies 30 times each week
  6. Take time out to recharge and refocus
  7. Lose 30 lbs
  8. Work avg 30 hours each week
  9. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’
  10. Spend only $30 each week on non-essentials (movies, clothes, eating out)
  11. Put $30 in savings account each week
  12. Learn self-forgiveness
  13. Watch / Listen / Read 30 new arts / entertainment things
  14. Give Jacob 30 memorable experiences
  15. Be a more attentive friend
  16. Write and send 30 letters / postcards to loved ones
  17. Set aside 30 minutes each week to get organized
  18. Be more open and honest about my feelings
  19. Rid myself of 30 toxic habits / relationships / things
  20. Volunteer 30 hours each month
  21. Ask for help when I need it
  22. Take 30 photographs each month
  23. Try 30 new foods
  24. Take the time to reflect and appreciate
  25. Write 30 new posts / articles / essays
  26. Try 30 things that scare me
  27. Learn to be more flexible / “go with the flow”
  28. Apply to 30 new jobs
  29. Try my very best to do the 30 things on this list
  30. But don’t beat myself up should I not accomplish them all

Special thanks to Jenny for helping me brainstorm in the middle of the night ;)

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World Introvert Day

Happy World Introvert Day! For those not familiar:

World Introvert Day is held on 2 January each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to better understand and appreciate introverts. The first World Introvert Day was held in 2011. –World Introvert Day Online

I’m an introvert through and through, something that I receive wildly differing reactions to when I discuss it. The reason for this is simply a misunderstanding of what introversion and extroversion are, so I thought I’d do up a post to provide those who might be confused with some clarification.

Introversion and Extroversion are personality classifications, with most people falling into one or the other. (However it should be noted that when measured on a scale some will fall into a third middle ground classification. For the sake of simplicity I won’t get into the third.)

For me the easiest way to understand introversion and extroversion is in the way that each gains and losses energy. As an introvert I find social situations to be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I leave them exhausted and the only way to recharge is with solitary time. Alternately many of my extrovert friends are physically, mentally, and emotionally charged by social interactions. They thrive in those situations, and many find solitary time to be draining.

Extroversion and Introversion as terms used by C. G. Jung explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy. These words have a meaning in psychology that is different from the way they are used in everyday language. The Myers & Briggs Foundation

Typically in social situations introverts prefer to sit on the sidelines and observe the action, while extroverts prefer to be immersed, surrounded, and at the centre of it. There are of course other factors that affect someones willingness to engage, such as shyness, anxiety, or sensory sensitivity. There is a common misconception that shyness and introversion go hand in hand, but this is simply not the case. A person can be deeply drawn to social interaction, but too shy to engage, making them feel unfulfilled. Reversely, many introverts do not suffer from shyness and can easily engage socially. It is simply that the experience uses up their energy rather than restoring it.

More simply, introversion and extroversion can be summed up as inward versus outward force.

[Introverted] people are more introspective, attentive to internal thoughts, while wilder beings are driven by sights and soundsβ€”they crave sensory stimulation. Psychology Today

I consider myself to be an introvert who is not shy. I do not have trouble speaking with new people or making small talk. But I live more inside my head than out, and identify on the Myers-Briggs scale as INFJ. I have high sensory processing sensitivity (HSP), and anxiety. As such my limit for social interaction is lower than most non-HSP introverts, sapping my energy more quickly. And my anxiety leads to above average avoidance behaviour when it comes to social interaction. There are also correlations between my sensory sensitivity and my anxiety, but I won’t get into that!

For those interested in a good read that looks more closely at introversion, I highly recommend the book The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling. It is a humourous and truthful account of what it’s like to live an introverted life.

I also recommend reading more about theΒ Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Personality Test. It tells you a lot about what the varying personality types mean, and is quite interesting to try and determine where you fall.

Here’s a few links for those interested in taking some tests:

Are You An Introvert or Extrovert?

Are You A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

MBTI Personality Test (not exact, but no free versions are!)

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Resolutions

I’m the absolute worst when it comes to new years resolutions, but I still continue to make them. With my birthday being the same time I consider them more to be year resolutions. So, I suppose this is my list of Year 29 Resolutions:

1. Save

2016* will be the year of fiscal responsibility. I want to work on lessening unnecessary spending, as well as make and keep a personal budget. My goal is to pay off my credit card by the end of the year, and have a significant amount in savings.

*We’ll turn a blind eye to any extravagant purchases made in 2015 for things taking place in 2016… Heh.

HOW: Create a budget and keep track of where my money goes. Identify unnecessary spending and make a reasonable course of action to reduce it. (For example, spending $30 a week at Subway can be removed, and replaced with the lower cost of packing a lunch from home.) Put the credit card in a drawer and only remove in cases of emergency! And do no convince oneself that a weekly deal on Amazon constitutes an emergency.

2. Relax

I’m making it a point to insert relaxation into my schedule in 2016. I’ve already registered for a yoga class that begins in just a few days time, and would also like to look into some meditation sessions. In my outpatient program I’ve also learned several relaxation exercises that I have yet to try at home. So, I should start incorporating them.

HOW: Weekly yoga, meditation, and relaxation exercises.

3. Explore

As you know, I love to travel. Unfortunately I spent the majority of 2015 unemployed and dealing with crippling anxiety. As a result I didn’t do much jet setting. However, I did meet my set goal of visiting one place I’d never been before when I went on a road trip to Savannah over the summer. And this year I’d like to increase that number to three new places, with an added specification that these places be in three different countries. I know this sounds counterproductive to #1, but the intention is for the some of the savings to go towards the travel.

HOW: Just do it.

4. Create

I have such a desire to write and photograph, but I’ve somehow convinced myself that my lack of skill outweighs my passion. Which is unfair, because skill is gained through experience. If I want to become a stronger writer and photographer, then I need to continue to write and photograph! So, in 2016 I want to work on creative and passion projects, and perhaps even take some courses to help build my skills and confidence up.

HOW: Set a goal to blog 10 times a month. Set a goal to get out an take photographs at least twice a month.

5. Be Social

When 2015 began I was dealing with agoraphobia. I was petrified to leave the house, and would break out into waves of panic at the mere thought. Now, at the close of 2015, I’m happy to say that is behind me. But I still have a long way to go. Intensive treatment has helped me re-enter the world, and I am now able to hold down 2 part time jobs (and a 3rd casual job), all of which I am comfortable in. It’s incredible to not spend an entire day at work petrified that I will have an attack. Or better yet, not spend an entire day at work having attack after attack.

So, stage one of re-entering the world has been a success, and stage two is to work on being around people. I don’t have social anxiety, per say. But I occasionally get so worked up over the idea that I’ll have a panic attack around people that it leads to a lot of avoidance behaviour. On a good day I can socialize no problem. So I’d like to work on is learning to work through the anticipatory anxiety I experience on the not-so-good days. I need to stop avoiding, and start enjoying.

HOW: Stop finding excuses not to do something. Stop instigating negativity in order to justify not doing something.

6. Be Healthy

I spent much of 2015 working to improve my mental health, and I’d like to continue that in 2016, while also incorporating the improvement of my physical health. The goal is healthy mind, body, and spirit.

HOW: 1) Physical Health- There’s three main things that I’ve been slacking on that I need to fix: Showing up to doctors appointments; Getting required monthly blood work done; Taking auto-immune medication. 2) Mental Health- Things to continue or improve: Continue going to outpatient anxiety program regularly; Continue reading to help improve my understanding of panic disorder; Practice the lessons taught in program.

And then, of course, healthy eating and exercise. That’s a given on everyone’s list, isn’t it?

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and stress-free 2016!

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Adulthood

Tomorrow I turn 29 and I’m honestly not too sure how I feel about it.

I’ve spent far too much time this past year obsessing over the fact that I’ll be turning 30 at the end of 2016. It’s only now that I’ve finally sat down and tried to figure out why. My best guess is that 30 seems to be the line drawn by society to separate transitioning adulthood from real adulthood. A specified point in time when it’s socially required to have your shit together, so to speak.

This line is completely arbitrary, of course. And generational. And situational.

Legally adulthood begins at 18. Some consider it to begin when they finish post-secondary. Others define it as when they leave their parents house. It could be when careers or families start, or simply when the onslaught of adult responsibility starts. But there’s no all encompassing definition that takes into account legalities, responsibilities, accomplishments, etc. So, what is adulthood? Is there a magic moment when you suddenly feel like an adult?

If there is, it certainly hasn’t happened to me yet. But I don’t feel like a child or young adult. I have credit cards, pay car insurance, and owe an obscene amount in student loans. I buy groceries, book vacations, read self-help books, and have been denied life insurance. All of these typical adult things are a part of my life.

So why don’t I feel like an adult? And why does the idea of it freak me out so much?

There are certainly much scarier things than the unavoidable reality of being an adult. Many things that I myself have done. I moved abroad at 18; I jumped off a cliff; I backpacked through 12 countries alone; and moved solo to Europe in twenties with $50 in my bank account. Twice. I’ve wandered abandoned sanatoriums, spent several nights in foreign hospitals, and driven a rental car through the terrifying country roads of Northern Ireland. All of these are legitimately uncomfortable things, but I never feared them. Yet I do turning 30?

I think what it comes down to is that I fear being a failed adult. If I were imagining my life 10 years ago I would have certainly had grander ideas of where I’d be than the reality of where I am. I didn’t imagine I’d be back living with my mother, suffering from an anxiety disorder so severe that I require an ongoing, intensive treatment program, and still career-less after 7 painstaking years of university and grad school. My imaginings didn’t include crippling debt, long months spent bed-ridden with physical illness, or a million other little things that crept up in the last decade.

When I sit back and think rationally about my situation, I know I’m doing the best I can. And that compared to a year ago I’m doing very well. I can and am working full time hours for the first time since 2014. My health is okay. My relationships are good (for the most part). Overall, things are looking up.

So maybe it’s time to just accept the fact that I’m an adult, but throw out the notion that there exists a necessity to define oneself as a failure or success. That to be alive and content in the moment is enough. That to understand your passions and pursue them without fear is enough.

Appreciate all that you are and all that you’ve done, instead of focusing on who you’re not, and what you haven’t.

I think that if I can learn that, then 30 won’t seem so scary after all.

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Feelin’ Fine By Twenty-Nine

After my last post it felt like getting myself to go back into work would be impossible. But, I did it, and it’s been fine. Rationally I knew that’s what would happen, but anxiety and rational thought don’t quite fit together.

That once incident aside, I’ve been feeling unusually optimistic these past few months. So, a few days following said incident I decided it could act as an excellent motivator for me to step up my application game. Now, I’m trying to be realistic in knowing that (a) finding gainful employment is like finding a needle in a haystack right now, and (b) I might not be ready to take on such employment quite yet. But neither of those are reasons not to try.

I’m also not allowing them to be reasons to be miserable.

In six months I turn 29, and even if I’m not working where I want to be working by that time, I want to feel a sense of contentedness with my life. I want to feel fulfilled, do things I’ve never done, take risks, get in shape, spend more time with the people I love, in the cities I love.

The past few years have been rough health-wise, which in turn made work, school, relationships, and just about everything else rough too. But lately my health has been good, I’ve had a bit of an income coming in, and I’ve been working on slowly mending the many relationships that have broken in the second-half of my twenties.

The next six months are going to be good. I’m going to make sure of it.

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