Baby, I Can’t Drive Your Car…

Baby

I have an eye disorder. Keratoconus.

In brief, it is an eye condition in which the normally round, dome-shaped cornea progressively thins, causing a cone-shaped bulge to develop. The change in shape and the thinning of the cornea impairs the eye’s ability to focus properly, causing poor vision. It makes simple tasks difficult, such as watching TV, reading a book, or driving a car.

You can find the full definition here.

Keratoconus & Driving: a match not made in heaven.

A few months after I turned seventeen, I was diagnosed with Keratoconus in my right eye. But as we all know, misery enjoys company, and by the time I’d reached my eighteenth birthday, the keratoconus had progressed to my left eye, too.

Within a year, and without warning, my eyesight had deteriorated so much that I now would have to rely on contact lenses to support my vision.

Happy eighteenth birthday …

… Let’s be merry.

Like many teenagers, I had dreamed of driving my own car.
Driving meant freedom, independence.
It meant not having to rely on my dad to take me to and from places.
It meant not having to sit on slow, smelly buses with rude and impatient bus drivers, listening to the tune of noisy, chattering, crying babies, children, and mothers.

Keratoconus meant that I wouldn’t be able to drive a car.

Bummer.

However, I was not to be deterred, so I booked a driving lesson.
During my first lesson, I was asked to read a car’s number plate from the required distance. I couldn’t do it.
Being a stubborn old thing, it took two further lessons for reality to sink in.
I really wasn’t going to be able to drive.

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It wasn’t fair. What had I done to deserve this? I didn’t drink or take drugs. I didn’t stay out all night. I went to church—admittedly, my attendance was infrequent, but I still went. No other teen I knew was doing that.

What’s a girl to do?

Well, over the last nine or so years, I cried, complained, and cried some more.

I did finally come to a realisation that I couldn’t cry and whine forever. Pity parties get tedious after a while, and it wasn’t as if being miserable was helping my cause, because after all those years of tears and tantrums, I still wasn’t going to be able to drive.

So what’s a slighter older girl to do?

Adapt.

That independence and freedom I thought I’d get from driving, I now got through walking. I know, walking = independence and freedom, an original idea, I’m sure.
I also bought a bicycle, and I did try to use it. I huffed and puffed up those steep pathways, but we’re currently on a trial separation. Who knows whether I’ll return.

I no longer ask my dad to take me from place to place. When I need a lift, I ask my younger sister, or I call for a taxi.
I’ve learned to tolerate my bus journeys. Sometimes, I even enjoy them.
Instead of trying my best to zone out every conversation, I zone in to the more interesting, peculiar ones. Inspiration, if you will, for my stories.
And if I’m upset, I’ll cry along with the babies and the children and the mothers. (Only in my head, of course. I don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to talk to me. I’m an introvert, don’t you know.)

In life, you get all sorts of fun things thrown your way. Not being able to drive is tough. Really tough. I wish I could drive. I probably always will.

But, at the moment—and it’s a long moment—it’s unlikely that I will be able to.
And I have come to accept that there’s nothing I can do to change that. Unpleasant as that may be.
That acceptance has allowed me to move forward. Not in a speeding down a high street kind of way, but slowly and surely, I’ve come to terms with it.

Has life thrown something harsh your way? If so, how have you dealt with it?
Comment, and let me know.

Not Another Entitled Millennial…

Entitled 2

I Want the World…

I’ve found my passion in life: writing.

I enjoy writing fiction. I enjoy creating compelling characters and tossing them into topsy-turvy worlds that wreak havoc on their lives and then spit them out when they’re done with them.

I enjoy writing blog posts, like this one. I enjoy putting on my blogger’s hat and talking about self-esteem, self-confidence, life, death. Anything really.

“You must be ecstatic that you’ve found your passion in life,” I hear you shout.

Well… not quite.

You see, it’s great that I’ve found my passion, but frankly, most writers cannot survive off their creative works alone. In other words, they need a day job.

And that’s fine with me. I’m not the romantic writer in any sense, and I don’t feel the need to be starved and penniless whilst I write my masterpieces.

Nope, a day job will suit me just fine. That way I can write without the pressure of needing to scramble to publish and sell my work just to put money in my pocket.

So, now I need to find that day job. Should be an easy task, right?

Not when you’re an entitled millennial.

Here’s how the conversation typically goes inside (and sometimes outside) my head:

Responsible Me: “Why don’t you become a primary school teacher? You’re currently working as a teaching assistant, so you know what to expect from the job. You enjoy working with children. You’ll receive a steady income, and there is the opportunity of moving into more senior positions. Job progression, if you will.”

Millennial Me: “But teachers work sixty hours a week, don’t they? A lot of it is UNPAID. They work in the evenings and at the weekends. In addition to that, there’s so much interference from government agencies. And talking of politics, school politics is the pettiest politics there is. And what about those pesky parents?!”

Responsible Me: “I didn’t say that teaching was the perfect option, but it is an option. You must remember that you’re not choosing your dream job here. You’ve found your passion in writing. What you’re looking for is a steady income that will support your writing aspirations…”

Millennial Me: “How am I supposed to write if I have no time to write? Sixty hours, remember? I’ll be too tired to write anything meaningful. Isn’t it a well-known fact that teaching is one of the most stressful occupations?”

Responsible Me: “Okay, fair point. How about an admin position, a 9–5 job that doesn’t require you to work in the evenings or at the weekends? You’ll have loads of time to write, then.”

Millennial Me: “But what if the job is too boring, and I’m not able to get anything out of it? At least I could use some of the stressful situations in teaching to inspire story scenes. What is inspiring about an office job?

Worse still, what if I am not successful as a writer? What if no one reads my books, my blog posts? I’ll get no satisfaction from the day job and no satisfaction from my writing. At least with teaching you get some satisfaction from helping children reach their potential. You feel as if you’re making a difference.”

Responsible Me: “But surely the satisfaction comes from the writing itself?”

Millennial Me: “It just won’t do.” (pouting)

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Responsible Me: “Why don’t you train to be an occupational therapist? You’ll have to complete another degree, but it’s a very rewarding job, as you get to make a vital difference in people’s lives. It’s a varied role with the opportunity to go down many pathways, including mental health, paediatrics, or working with stroke victims.”

Millennial Me: “It will take three years for me to complete that degree. Plus, I’ll have to do 1,000 hours’ worth of work placements. Where am I going to find the time to write?!”

Responsible Me: “You’ll find the time. You can write in the morning—for an hour, perhaps—before you head off to uni. Just like you do now…”

Millennial Me: “But what if after spending three years doing an occupational therapy degree, I realise that I want to become a teacher… I think I’d prefer to be a teacher…”

Responsible Me: “Argh, I give up…”

This is just one of the many ‘problems’ I have. (I’m sure I’ll share many others with you in future blog posts.) But it’s something that really shouldn’t be a problem at all. Yes, nobody wants to be stuck in a boring job, and, of course, I don’t want to do something that consumes so much time that I won’t want to write. But…

That’s life. Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do.

And if my writing means so much to me, I will do it regardless of how much time I don’t think I have.

Many a millennial has been accused of being entitled, of expecting too much.

Can’t think where people get such an idea from…

I want the world. I want the whole world.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that Millennials expect too much from life? Too little? What is too much anyway?

Being Shy: Is It Such A Bad Thing?

Because Life's A Gas Template

Let’s see…

Intro

Shyness in a nutshell: feeling nervous and uncomfortable in the company of other people. 

I used to hate being shy. I hated feeling like I was unable to contribute to a conversation. I hated that my shyness prevented me from going to parties and hanging out with my friends more often.

I hated it when people used to comment on my shyness. “Why are you so quiet?”
An all too familiar question that shy people are often asked. And what can you say to such a question? I couldn’t tell them why I was so shy because I didn’t know.

Could it be because my parents were aloof and distant?
Maybe their attitude toward me made me more reluctant to speak to others in case I received similar responses.

Could be. We all like to blame our parents, after all.

Was it because I felt inadequate?

Could be. I didn’t think I was good enough, so I didn’t feel confident talking to other people.

The Well-Meaning People

In primary school, around the age of seven or eight, one or two times a week I was taken out of class to spend some time with a teaching assistant. Her objective: make me less shy.

I must admit my memory is a little hazy about those sessions. I can’t remember exactly what exercises I was given to liven me up and make me more social, but suffice it to say, none of it worked. It may have even made me shyer.
There’s nothing worse than being “the only one,” “the different one,”’ especially when you are already overly self-conscious. I think all it did was confirm my suspicions that I was different and that it was an unwelcome difference.

Growing up, there was an aunt who I really like, but when we went to visit her, she would never fail to give me lectures on why I shouldn’t be shy. Her reasons, I must admit, were convincing, but it never seemed to convince me enough to overcome my shyness. Again, it felt as if I was being singled out. After all, nobody else seemed to be receiving these lectures.

It’s hard being told, especially as a child, that there is something wrong with you that you need to change, that there’s something wrong with the way you behave, and that you need to be more like the other children—the ones that, you know, talk.

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The Attempts

Sure, I tried to be “loud.” Loud to me meant talking nonstop even if I had nothing useful or relevant to say; it meant interrupting others and being obnoxious. These attempts to be “loud” never lasted longer than a few hours at a time, mainly because I ended up annoying myself. Still, year after year, and in many different ways, I would try to be “loud.”

This was my way of trying to conform to what is universally liked. All the loud people were popular. They had all the friends, all the boys, and were adored by everyone. Simply put, you weren’t interesting unless you were loud.

Being Bullied

Being shy makes you an easy target. Bullies know that you aren’t going to respond to their taunts, to their vicious comments, to their smirking sidelong glances, so they pick on you.

My bullies tried and succeeded to increase the discomfort I already felt at school. They would whisper and laugh whenever I was in earshot. They stared at me, knowing it would make me feel uncomfortable, and would then turn away when I looked up, pretending that they hadn’t been looking at me.

Because I was very self-conscious, I would sometimes walk with my head down to avoid looking at others. Of course, they made fun of that, too.

The Social Events

I never went to parties. I didn’t even go to my prom after-party. I always had an excuse for why I couldn’t go.

What would I say or do? What would I do if a guy I liked approached me? What would I do if a guy I didn’t like approached me?

With questions like these left unanswered, I avoided going to parties at all costs. The problem was that hours later I would become angry with that decision. I was being silly. There was nothing to be afraid off (not much, anyway.) Yet, the next time I was invited to a party, out came all the familiar excuses.

In Conclusion

Is being shy really such a bad thing?

I think it depends on the individual. Some people will absolutely hate being shy and will want to change it. Others will have given up trying to change and will accept who they are, shyness and all. I think I’m in the middle—as I often tend to be. Like I said before, I used to hate being shy. I hated that I was made a target by bullies because I was shy and that I couldn’t stand up for myself because I was too afraid. I wanted to be the complete opposite.

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on my character and explore my personality, I’ve found that I like certain aspects of my shyness and have no real desire to change them.

For example, I can be quite a cautious person, a trait often associated with shy people. I tend to observe someone, studying their interactions with others, before I let them in or open up. I don’t wear my heart or any other organ on my sleeve, and I’m happy that I don’t. I’m okay with that.

I also found out that I am an introvert. I didn’t enjoy going out for the sake of going out, and I learned that it was okay for me to want to be by myself, that there was nothing wrong with that. 

However, there were some things I felt I needed and wanted to change. Low self-esteem and self-confidence are traits associated with shyness, and I knew that these were the things I needed to work on if I wanted to make real change in my life, feel less self-conscious, and feel good about myself. (I’ll discuss self-esteem and self-confidence in more detail in later blog posts.)

I spoke more. Go figure. Hadn’t people been telling me to do that for years? Yes, but before, I hadn’t learned to appreciate that very common but not so commonly practised phrase, “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I learned that I didn’t have to speak all of the time. In fact, some of the best car journeys occur when the people involved know each other so well that no talking is necessary. They get it. You get it. No small talk allowed.

I realised that every social occasion needn’t be perfect, and that has enabled me to relax and be myself rather than focusing on not messing up, saying the wrong thing.

I stopped caring (so much) about what people thought. This issue will never completely disappear, but I’ve learned to deal with it a lot better. For example, when I get those “You’re so quiet” comments, sometimes it can rankle and rile, but I’ve given up on trying to adapt into who they might want me to be. Not everyone will feel comfortable with my quietness. They’ll find someone who is more compatible to their needs, and I’m sure I’ll do the same.

I think I’ll always be a bit shy. And although I’ve finally accepted this, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when I wish I was more extroverted, more charismatic—whatever that means—but such is life, and so it must be.

What are your thoughts?
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If you struggle with shyness and/or social anxiety, check out this website: http://overshyness.com/