Graduation and puppy!

The past week has been a very memorable one.

On Tuesday, I graduated from university with first class honours. It was such an amazing and motivating day. The tickets for family and friends to go to the graduation were limited, but I was lucky enough to get an extra ticket so my boyfriend, who is also my best friend, could come. He has been such an amazing support for me throughout my time at university.

In my first year of university, we had a long distance relationship. He was back at home, while I was over 100 miles away living in an unfamiliar place with no one I knew. It was terrifying, but I love new experiences and being in new places. Which doesn’t sound like something someone with social anxiety should say. I struggled around new people for sure, but being away from home for the first time was exciting!

My boyfriend and I remained strong despite being apart for a long time. In my second year of university, my boyfriend managed to get a place at my university! While in my final year at university, we moved in together and shared a small, cold, generally shitty apartment.

As I said previously, I struggled a lot with meeting new people. I moved in with a few girls I was living with on campus in my second year. There were times when I felt like these were good friends, but I later realised that they were not. But that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, I saw two of said girls at my graduation since they studied the same course as me. I greeted them politely and they complimented how I looked etc. I then spent the remainder of graduation day avoiding them, choosing to spend time with my boyfriend, who was the only person to stay by me and support me during my studies.


This is us waiting to get my robes! They were the most uncomfortable things to wear ever! It felt too heavy and long and the hood kept falling off (the only thing keeping it up being two small pins).

During the ceremony, I was one of the first out of a couple of hundred students graduating that afternoon. So, after the opening speeches had been exhausted in its length, I got ready to graduate. Of course this was extremely nerve-enducing for me, as it was for nearly everyone. I was even more nervous as a live stream of the ceremony was going out online, so my best friends and my grandparents could watch me.

So I waited at the edge of the red carpet, waited until my name was called and took a deep breath and smiled. I approached the chancellor and shook her hand with my clammy ones! She was saying things to me, but I couldn’t concentrate on that so all I could do was laugh nervously and go ‘Thank you, thank you.’ I then proceeded to walk straight off the middle of the red carpet, instead of walking to the end like I was supposed to. The chancellor still had my hand and whispered to me ‘No, you’re supposed to go around me!’ So I did go around her, but I went around her left side instead of her right! All this time I was terrified of falling over (I opted for wedge shoes to prevent the chance of that), that I focused too much on that and not on the actual proper procedure of the graduation. I think I must have looked really clumsy. However, I will try not to dwell on it because chances are, no one probably noticed, and if they did, they would have forgotten soon after. And who could have blamed me for messing up a little bit?!


Actual photo of me being an anxious mess (on the inside, and a little on the outside!).

So then I managed to get back to my seat (somehow. I don’t remember getting there!) and it had started to sink in that I had graduated!

The remainder of the day involved taking photographs and free food and wine, so it was a pleasant experience. However, I kept feeling really awkward throughout the day. I don’t know if anyone else with anxiety experiences this as well, but I cannot stand when I have a lot of attention on me. It is what makes my birthdays really anxiety-provoking for me because I don’t like people wishing me happy birthday and giving me more attention than I usually have. I can’t explain why, I just feel really awkward and do not know how to respond to such wishes and attention. Therefore, during my graduation, I obviously got a lot of ‘congratulations’ and it really made me feel anxious because I did not know how best to respond. My mum kept telling me to decide what to do next on the day because it was my ‘special day’, but I do not like deciding what to do with a group of people. I am happy enough just to go along with what the majority want to do. It probably sounds bizarre to some people not to like attention during an event focused on my achievements (don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of what I’ve done). I was trying to communicate my anxiety to my boyfriend once we got home and I had flopped on my bed (as the anxiety really exhausts me after a long duration of time), and we agreed that just getting my degree certificate in the mail would have been better suited for me!

It is quite a conundrum for me, as I thoroughly enjoy big events, getting dressed up and having a good time, but I cannot stand having so much attention!  Overall, I would rate the day 9/10. And I would rate my anxiety levels as 8/10!

The next day, on the Wednesday, I received a new addition to the family.DSC_0482

  

Meet Nala, my new puppy! She in now 10 weeks old and she is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a West Highland Terrier. Our 5 year old Border Collie, Dexter is still very confused as to what she is. She smells like a puppy but she’s too small and bouncy to be a puppy!

I am absolutely in love with her already, although at the moment she is in her ‘toddler stage’ so she only has two modes: Sleeping and eating everything in sight. Therefore, she cannot be left alone for very long at all! In comparison to Nala, Dexter seems like the most well-behaved dog and gets annoyed at Nala jumping up at him and nibbling his tail. Hopefully in time they will become the best of friends. At the moment however, Nala is very hard work (I am only finding time to write this post now as she is currently in sleeping mode!).

I will try to keep updates on what Nala is getting up to and how she is growing into a potentially good girl.

Struggles of an introvert in an extroverted work environment.

I recently started a job intended just for this summer. I work in a fast food restaurant at  what is best described as a theme park/zoo. The basic layout of the restaurant works the same as McDonald’s and other fast food chains, just that the food is more expensive.

This is a social anxiety post because working here for the last 6 days in a row (the pain in my lower back is unreal by the way), I have had to meet a lot of new people as well as conversing with customers.

First of all, I am one of the oldest workers at my restaurant, the majority of the employees still being at school or college, so already there are differences between us. Don’t get me wrong, everyone I have spoken to thus far have been incredibly friendly and helpful, although it is slightly bizarre being trained by someone almost 6 years younger than me!

However, most of my colleagues are very outgoing and loud, which makes me feel very much aware that I am the opposite of them. They will all chat to each other and have a joke around, whereas I prefer to just get on with my work in almost silence, enjoying something to focus on. I have tried to talk to some of my colleagues, I have asked questions about what they do outside of work, what they hope to achieve in the future etc. I feel I am getting more confident about asking questions about people, although when they respond, I never know what to say other than ‘Yeah’ or ‘Okay’, therefore the conversation dies pretty quickly.

Another aspect of the job, is having to let the kitchen staff know how many burgers are left on the slidey display thing and to request orders which are less popular. I don’t have much issue with doing this, but the issue comes when the kitchen staff do not hear me over the noise of everything else going on. I have been told countless times to shout louder to them. However, I have found I physically cannot shout very loud. The best way to describe the feeling is to imagine that there is a belt tightly fitted around my voice box. When I am in my own company, the belt is pretty loose and I can choose the volume of my voice. However, when I am in the company of a lot of people I am not yet comfortable to be around, the belt constricts tighter around me, making the volume of my voice quieter as a result. This is evidently something I need to work on.

Yesterday, I was placed in an annexe just attached to the main restaurant, which only sells drinks and jacket potatoes. I had this sixteen year old boy help me out for a while, how to cook the potatoes and the toppings etc. After that, I was left alone for the remainder of my shift. The small place was no where near as busy as the restaurant (because who goes to a theme park to have a jacket potato when you can have a burger?). I did not have many customers at all, but when I did, I quite enjoyed preparing the potatoes for those few customers. When there were no customers, I would stand and watch the world go by, do some light cleaning and as an added bonus, I had a view of some giraffes in the distance! I absolutely loved this more relaxed atmosphere, where I could have a break from having to fake my confidence to my colleagues and not be stressed when the customers were not served straight away. I had a lot more responsibilities in there because I had to pretty much run the place myself, but I am sure with more shifts there I would gain more confidence with that.

But apparently the jacket potato place is despised by most other employees because it is too lonely for them. I think I may be the only person who would willingly want to work there and not have to make small talk with others! It felt like I was on a break most the day.

Oh, but breaks are absolute bliss! I get to sit in the break room, where there are other people, but it is perfectly socially acceptable to just sit in silence and think about life for 30 minutes. No one tries to talk to you. No one judges you for trying to have a nap. It is absolute heaven for other introverts like myself however I have been told by my colleagues it is ‘depressingly quiet’ in there!

Eh, I guess depressingly quiet is a good way to describe me!

Job interview

Tomorrow I have a job interview for a Learning Support Assistant, working in a high school. 

This would be my first graduate job if I were to get it. My plan is to get a job as a teaching assistant or just generally working with special needs individuals for the next academic year. Therefore I  would have more experience and chance to get onto either a teaching course or to study a doctorate in Educational Psychology from 2016. 

I am extremely nervous since I get so anxious for interviews and I hate when questions are spontaneous that I haven’t prepared for them. I applied to 3 universities for a teaching course and was fortunate enough to get interviews for all of them. I even got an interview at one university which is in the Russell Group (Britain’s equivalent to Ivy League). But after my interviews I got rejected from all of them. I always come across too nervous. One of the many reasons I despise having social anxiety because I have the knowledge and ability to do what I want, but my lack of confidence holds me back (and who wants a teacher who is not confident?). 

So I am preparing my butt off for this interview tomorrow. I am writing down possible questions and my responses to them, researching the school and all its policies, and I will practise my body language and eye contact. I even bought a new dress for the interview (I wanted to wear black trousers but decided against it since England is having a horrendous heatwave at the moment). 

 
My Pusheen cat approves of the pretty dress! 

Anyway I am currently still in bed, reluctant to begin interview preparation again. 

Hope you have a nice day.