My love affair with pasta

I wish to talk to you today about my love for something close to my heart,

Pasta.

I cannot explain how my infatuation came into being.

I cannot convey why I prefer pasta and not resembling products such as noodles.

They’re not the same.

Always thinking of pasta. Pasta filling all my dreams. When I read words, all I see are pasta letters.

I love the many different varieties of pasta. From the simple penne to the elegant linguine, from the farfalle to the conchiglie. They are all so dear to me.

But, of course one does not simply have pasta in isolation. That would be absurd.

The possibilities with pasta and what accompanies them in the pot, now that is really limitless.

Think ricotta, mushrooms, tomatoes. Asparagus, garlic and spinach. Perhaps you could try the sweetest of strawberries or the ripest of mango. You could even try chocolate. No one will stop you living out your dream.

Lest not forget the sauce.

The creamiest of cheese sauces for one’s macaroni. The classic marinara with basil is delightful. Roasted garlic and pepper, carbonara and pesto. You may even consider chocolate sauce…

(I also like chocolate.)

Mix them up and unite cheese with pesto for something which I guarantee is exquisite.

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Pesto and cheese sauce with spinach. Get inside me.

I live for pasta. I thrive on pasta. By the casket-full I would consume it. Every day, for every meal.

The primary reason I am visiting Rome in the summer is to sample authentic Italian pasta. My mouth hungers for all the flavours, it cannot come soon enough. When I return, I shall be euphoric and filled with new ideas for pasta opportunities.

If only I could swim amongst the pasta shapes, dive in the marinara, surf on the fettuccine, feeling at last content… albeit sticky.

I love pasta.

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I haven’t posted in over 9 months. I’ve had plenty of ideas for blog posts which are currently in process. And then I decide to hurl this post at you because I ate pasta twice today…

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

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First week in a new job

Very exciting news!

I finally have a teaching assistant job in a school!

Regarding  the interview I had for the job, I felt that it went horrifically. There were so many questions to answer. Some of the questions I felt as if I gave a somewhat decent response, but most others I was not confident about.

One thing which is a frequent struggle with my social anxiety is being given a question I do not expect and not sure how to answer. My brain simply vacates the premises and words spurt out which are not completely coherent, the word ‘like’ being the word I use most. This happened too often during the interview. Either that or I repeated myself, using the same instances a couple of times. I came out of my interview feeling awful about how I answered questions and started questioning my life choices, thinking I would have to get an office job or something.

However, by some miracle, I got offered the job later that day!

I have been working at the school for a whole week now, and so far it has been alright!

As I am considering going into a career involving education, I wanted some paid experience working in a school for a year (in between graduating and going on to post-grad study next year).

I can safely say already, I do not want to teach. Despite being set on being a teacher throughout my degree, I now look back like ‘Why did I ever want to be a teacher?’ Excluding the fact that it is extremely stressful and hard work (I don’t handle stress well) and involves thinking on my feet if a lesson isn’t going to plan (Also not good at that). Excluding those reasons, it involves talking to an audience of children (Which I am terrible at!).

I think it was just something I knew would be a massive challenge for me with my social anxiety, but I wanted to help children learn so much that I was willing to take on this challenge. Although, I have learnt from my experience working in a fast food place during the summer (which I quit after 3 weeks and many breakdowns by the way) that having this anxiety makes me unsuited to certain types of jobs, unless I get some miraculous therapy.

At the present time, I am considering going to study a masters in educational psychology. This would hopefully lead into a research career, writing psych journals on educational issues and interventions in school, conducting the actual research myself. Which is basically what I did for my dissertation for my undergrad, but in more depth. This way, I feel I can make a contribution towards education, but it wouldn’t be as anxiety-provoking for me. See it as the ‘behind the scenes’ in education.

I think I have started to accept that I have a certain personality and I may not be able to change that. Therefore, I can play on the strengths I actually have and use those to bring forward something good, as well as feeling at ease in whatever I go on to do.

Back to the actual job I have now, I have mixed feelings about my time there so far. I much MUCH prefer this job to working in fast food! But then again, I think anything would be better! It’s great to be paid for something which should actually benefit children, rather than feeding them greasy burgers.

Everyone I have met at the school seem super friendly and welcoming, even the students seem mostly pleasant (although it is only their first week of school so there is time for troublesome behaviour!). Talking to the staff, and even the kids sometimes can be a struggle because of how I am as a person. Seriously, I need some training in how to have a casual conversation with someone without feeling nervous and self-conscience! But it’s a good job everyone is friendly.

My teacher who I work with is also really friendly, and very passionate about her job, and the students seem to like her. However, I feel rather anxious around her as she expects a lot from me. Since she knows about my pretty decent grade in my educational psychology degree, she wants me to give her feedback on her lessons, telling her what to do better, and just generally any ideas I may have about specific students or lessons. She basically doesn’t want someone who will just follow orders and quietly get on with things (which is what I’m best at!)

I really find it difficult to speak out and give my opinions on things. Honestly, most of the time, I can’t really criticise her methods as I think they’re what I would have suggested. But telling her that I like them doesn’t convince her so I have to think of things which could be improved on. I have to learn to take more initiative as well, as she has told me this a couple of times. I find this hard too because if I do things I haven’t been told to do, I panic that I will get yelled at for it or I’m doing everything wrong. I have been making a few mistakes with things too, small things such as photocopying something wrong or doing jobs in the wrong order. But I hate doing things wrong, because I think about it for days, even weeks after, it’s so frustrating.

However, its a new week on Monday. I’m still getting used to how the school runs, I still need to know the names of a lot of students, but I have a better idea of what I’m doing this time around. I will try to be more initiative and more honest and open to my teacher. Hopefully I can really enjoy myself and make at least one child succeed at something. That would really make this all worth it.

Tattoo 

I recently did something I never thought I would. I got a tattoo!

  
I had thought about getting a tattoo for a while, and the compass designs frequently caught my eye. I am extremely passionate about travelling, and this is reflected through my tattoo. 

Although I have wanted this for a while, I never felt brave enough to actually go through with it. I think I went through the same thought processes a lot of people go through:

Will I still like it in years to come?

Will it be too painful? 

Will it come out how I want it to? 
As well as all the other worries which accompany particularly anxious people such as myself. I know I shouldn’t, but I worry about what people will think of it. I thought that if my mother did not like it then I would feel shitty about having done it. 

Despite these worries, I recently decided to commit to the idea so I could have this done for my birthday (My birthday is tomorrow, 25th). On my previous birthday, I spoke out about my social anxiety and it was one of the toughest things to do. But wow, I felt so good, and the response I got was remarkable! So this year, I decided to do something else as equally as terrifying and brave. 

I spent a large amount of time looking at designs of compasses and I ended up designing my own one, with inspiration from others I had seen. Of course, the very talented tattoo artist drew it up better and more symmetrically for me! 

I was so nervous the whole day leading up to when I had the tattoo. Mostly, I didn’t know what pain to expect during the process and the healing pains in the days after. 

I arrivied at the place. It was actually a tattoo convention at my town hall so there were basically stalls where tattoo artists from local places came, and people would get tattoos done just behind their stalls. This made me even more nervous because it meant that people who were dropping by were watching me getting tattooed. The music playing in there was loud, so I had to shout to communicate to the artist. Plus it was a hot stuffy day which worried me because I am prone to passing out if I am too hot. The atmosphere just felt bizarre.

However, I soon felt a lot calmer as the tattoo artist was extremely welcoming and friendly. He made sure I was comfortable and that I could handle the pain, always checking to see I was feeling ok. Also, watching others having tattoos with me made me feel like I wasn’t alone and we were in this together! (Some individuals turned up to browse the possible designs and then decided on a tattoo working minutes and proceeded to get it done, which made me feel less reckless for getting mine!) But honestly, as soon as I experienced what being tattooed felt like, I felt this massive weight lift off me. It was only mild pain, best described as having a sewing needle scratch lightly over my skin. Granted, I wouldn’t choose to indulge in that sensation often, but it was no where near as bad as I expected. 

Overall, I am so so happy with the result! It came out exactly as I wanted, the pain was not too bad, and hopefully I will still like it for my whole life! 

I got back home and gave my mother a huge surprise as she never expected me to ever get tattooed! I have also got great response after posting the photo on social media. So all is well. 

  
I encourage anyone to do something you have always wanted to do but have not had the strength to. Do something brave and the feeling you will receive will be worth all the anxiety. 

Summer favourites

Good day!

I thought I would attempt to blog about something different today, as I want to be an eclectic blog. So this one will be about some of my beauty favourites which I have purchased/ what I think are perfect for summer. I realise it is August now, so summer is soon to be over (if you live in Britain, then it is essentially Autumn here now), but I will share anyway!

The first products are body lotions!

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These are from the company Cowshed. I received the smaller of the two, entitled ‘gorgeous cow’ in my June Birchbox and fell in love. The scent is a combination of Madagascan ylang ylang, French lavender and Moroccan rose (how exotic!). Admittedly, when I had my first whiff of this product, I believed it to be unusual, not exactly to my taste. But I decided to give it a shot anyway because you only live once!

I now cannot get enough of the scent! It became my favourite thing to apply directly to my skin cells after a shower. The smell lingers around on you for hours and it is just marvellous.

Oh, and the texture! It is quite a thick lotion, so requires some workout on your hands to evenly rub it into your skin, but it made my skin so smooth. As a bonus, my skin feels moisturised for hours! You know when you put on a lotion or something and your skin feels great and smooth for about 4.5 minutes. Then as soon as it’s absorbed in the skin, you’re such a forgetful person that you question whether you applied your lotion or not, as there is no trace that it ever existed on your skin in the first place? Then you’re left questioning your life choices and that’s not the frame of mind you want to be in.

Well that’s not the case with this lotion! It’s the only lotion/moisturiser I’ve used which didn’t disappear straight away. So I saved up my Birchbox points (you get points from referring people, reviewing items etc) and decided to buy one of these bad boys.

Oh, but a dilemma arose. There was more than one scent with these lotions. Do I stick with ‘gorgeous cow’, which I knew I adored, or there was ‘knackered cow’, ‘wild cow’, ‘moody cow’ even a ‘horny cow’.

Can I just add that these are all brilliant names.

Anyway, I decided on ‘moody cow’, which is the larger product in the picture. This is supposed to help ‘balance’ the skin, with a blend of shea and cocoa butters to aid in toning and moisturising. The scent is a combination of rose geranium, linden blossom and frankincense. Not going to lie, I had no idea what the first two named scents were, and I had only heard of frankincense in relation to the nativity and baby Jesus, so I didn’t know what to expect!

When I first smelt it, again I wasn’t keen on it, the smell being a little… spicy is the best word I can come up with. I thought I wasted my Birchbox points on something I did not like. Do you realise how disappointing that is?!

However, again, after applying it, I fell in love with the smell and everything is alright with the world!

I think these should be re-named ‘Give me a chance’ lotions, or perhaps I just have a weird nose!

One of the best feelings is when you’ve just shaved your legs, you apply this lotion and then put on a pretty dress or something that shows off them amazing legs on those warm summer days. Just try to resist telling strangers to feel how great your legs feel (unless you’re into that).

Price for ‘gorgeous cow’ (on Birchbox’s online store): £20

Price for ‘moody cow’: £18


The next item we will be discussing is a lipstick!

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Before I talk about this, can we all just admire my photography skills here. Doesn’t it look so profesh?

Anyway, yes this is the extremely popular makeup brand MAC, which is famous for it’s lipsticks. This is my first ever purchase of a MAC lipstick and I think of course I just had to go for a classic red look.

This colour is called ‘Ruby Woo’ and it is a very matte, very very classic red. I am obsessed with red lipstick at the moment, I even wore this lipstick to my graduation (see Graduation and puppy!).

I think that for the summer, a bold lipstick is essential (for lack of a better word. Air is essential, red lipstick… not so much). I just think that, even if you’re dressed down in shorts and a vest top as it is too hot to wear anything fancier, you can apply some red lipstick and just instantaneously feel better about everything. You might have your hair messy and put up because hair on your neck in the heat is just… no. Your eyebrows, and the rest of your makeup may be gradually sliding off with the sweat, but its okay because you have your lipstick which doesn’t budge. That’s the power of red lipstick!

I say that it doesn’t budge, but I found that when eating and drinking, some product does come off, and then you’re eating some red lipstick prints on your sandwiches which is slightly off-putting.

Another down side is if you make a mistake and apply it slightly outside your lips, you cant just simply use your finger to wipe off that mistake because it smudges around like a bitch! You usually have to get yourself a wipe and just… just start again until it’s perfect!

But when it’s perfect, oh man don’t it look good.

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Here is me wearing the lipstick and being too model for you to handle. I think that being very shy and socially inadequate, having a bold lip colour give off the appearance of confidence and is brave to wear in it’s own right.

MAC lipstick in ‘Ruby Woo’ (from Debenhams) : £15.50


The final of my summer favourites is a concealer product.

DSC_0519This is Boi-ing from Benefit cosmetics, which is my favourite makeup brand.

I actually kinda got tricked into buying this. I went into Debenhams to have a browse around, and I headed over to the Benefit counter because why would I not? One of the girls working there came over to me and asked if she could help, and I said I was just looking for concealers (as I get an infestation of spots on my chin constantly). The girl said she had the product just for me, sat me down and applied Boi-ing to my face. I said I was impressed with the results (no lie), and she handed me an unopened product of this concealer and took me to the counter to pay. Me, being too polite to say I would think about it and continue looking, went ahead and paid for the product.

Although I was not 100% set on buying this product, I don’t have any regrets because it is so good! I apply it on days where I have spots, which is a frequent occurrence in the summer time. I also apply the concealer to the under eyes by  rubbing the product in between my fingers to warm it up so it glides on smoother.

Overall, this industrial strength concealer has been a life saver this summer since the humidity cause our faces to be prone to more greasiness and consequentially more spots.

Benefit’s ‘Boi-ing’ (from Debenhams): £17.50

I realise that these products are a little pricey, especially those of you who have a tight budget. Hell, I’m just graduated, I have a tight budget! But I have a weakness for makeup and lotions and stuff.

Perhaps I will do another makeup/beauty blog post with a combination of high-end and cheaper products next time

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.