Social Anxiety “Update”

If you’ve read my post Socialising with Anxiety, then you’ll know social anxiety is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. Recently, changes in my life have made my anxiety manifest differently from a couple of months ago. I thought I’d write about my experiences here today, so if for some reason you want to read about a stranger’s battle with her mental health, go ahead and read on.

The main change for me is that I’ve worked a couple of jobs in the ‘real world’ now. That’s right, I’ve moved on from being an innocent, naive school girl to a fully-fledged business lady. Now, I’m working hard every day to bring home money for my family. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But I have worked in two different office environments, learnt how to use two different sets of computer programs, and most importantly, experienced dealing with two different lots of customers on a daily basis. It’s a wonder I’m still alive to be honest.

Generally speaking, I think doing work like this has been very beneficial for me. Eventually, constantly being thrown into terrifying social situations gave me less time to worry about them beforehand.  By the end of my first job, I was going into work with no social anxiety at all (unless I knew I had to make a phone call that day).

Speaking of phone calls, another change in my life is that I’m suddenly finding myself making a lot more of them. To most people, this ‘change’ probably sounds kind of silly and insignificant. However, for many people with social anxiety, phone calls are the bane of their existence. Temporarily working as a receptionist for my second job meant taking phone calls was something I had to do all day every day. Yikes. I’ll be honest, the first day was tough and involved many awkward conversations, nervous stutters, and highly ‘unprofessional’ moments. Luckily, by the end of the week I was totally calm – I’d gotten so used to making phone calls that they didn’t give me any anxiety anymore. Success!

In a way, these experiences made me feel like I’d become a lot more socially confident. In fact, at one point I was convinced I could pretty much take on the world now. After my first week of being a receptionist, I remember thinking to myself ‘my socially anxiety is GONE, I’m CURED, talking to people is easy so I can do ANYTHING I WANT NOW. FINALLY MY TIME HAS COME.’

Unfortunately, my slightly optimistic prediction didn’t turn out to be completely true. That weekend, I got invited out to dinner with a group of friends. A few hours before I left, I realised I still felt very anxious for no reason at all. These feelings didn’t really go away all night. While I was at the dinner, I also spent a significant amount of time feeling uncomfortable, awkward and shy. I didn’t feel like this for the whole night, but for a lot of it, the old anxious thoughts I thought I’d finally kicked out of my brain started peering their heads inside my mind again.

Overall, though, I think I am headed in the right direction. My social interactions around ‘proper adults’ (which is how I refer to anyone over 30) appear to be becoming easier while those around people my own age still seem pretty difficult. This may simply be because I’m spending less time around them because they’re all at uni. It does make me wonder what going to university will be like in September when I’m constantly surrounded by people my age… Will I have a breakdown? Will being ‘thrown’ into these situations help me in the long run? Will I be forced to make an impromptu trip to Timbuktu? I guess I’ll find out soon (and I’ll probably write another blog post about it).

Thanks for reading,

ranterwrites

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‘Masculinity, Men and Feminism’

Hey everybody, just a quick post here today!

A few weeks ago whilst I was wasting my life on the internet, I watched a video from a Youtuber called Hannah Witton. Hannah makes videos on sex and relationships and this particular one was called ‘Masculinity, Men and Feminism.’ It’s quite an old video so some of you may have seen it before. Anyway, normally I consider myself to be fairly ‘woke’ when it comes to gender roles and stereotypes. Despite this, at the start of the video Hannah introduced me to an idea that I’d never really thought about before. Without quoting her word for word, Hannah said that since feminism had begun, gender roles for women had changed quite a lot. Women (at least where I live) can go to work, are sometimes seen as strong individuals, and even have places they can go to discuss gender related issues they may be struggling with. Men on the other hand appear to have been a bit left behind. Male gender roles don’t seem to have evolved in the same way female roles have. Men are still often expected to be aggressive, to suppress their emotions, to be physically strong, and to conform to many other stereotypes.

I found it rather strange that I had never thought about this before. After all, I’m the kind of person who actively spends her time trying (and often failing) to teach people about hypermasculinity and how damaging forcing gender roles on people can be. I guess I’d simply failed to look at this ‘lack of evolution’ idea in the past. Weird stuff huh?

Throughout the rest of the video, gender roles, feminism, and even some very serious issues like male abuse and rape victims are discussed. I have linked the video here as I think it is very interesting. I encourage you all to go and watch it and continue these important conversations with the people around you!

Thanks for reading,

ranterwrites


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Do Adults Really Exist???

Technically speaking, on the 10th of August 2016 I officially became a ‘grown up.’ Being the slightly dramatic person I am, I remember the moment I entered adulthood very well as I was collapsed face down on my faded yellow carpet, wallowing over the prospect of leaving my childhood behind forever.

Now here’s the thing, as my final moments of youth slipped away and I entered the scary jaws of responsibility and existentialism, I don’t remember being given any instructions on how to proceed. I was handed no certificate of congratulations for reaching this particular milestone and I experienced no epiphany where I thought ‘I know how to adult now.’ This made me start wondering ‘what is an adult anyway?’

Yes, yes, I know technically an adult is a person aged 18 or over. But why exactly does that set number of years make somebody a responsible grown up? I’m sure there are many technical answers people could give me to that question, but I’m more interested in wondering about the following:

Will I feel like a grown up when I stop living at my parents’ house and move out? Will I feel like a grown up when I start paying my own gas and electricity bills?

What about when I go out shopping and buy my own coffee machine – will I feel like an adult then? Or maybe if I purchase some decorative towels for my bathroom some grown up feelings will start to kick in.

When I’m sixty years old and tell teenagers how different things were ‘back in my day,’ will I finally feel like a worldly all-knowing adult then? Or will I just feel old? On my 73rd birthday, at long last will I be mature enough to stop craving chocolate after every meal I eat? I highly doubt it.

Maybe I’ll never feel like a grown up at all. After all, somebody once told me that no adults actually exist on this planet and that everybody is just making up their lives as they go along.

So are we all just big children walking around running companies and buying houses like we own the place? Or, when I hit 40 or 50 or some other ‘proper grown-up age,’ will I suddenly feel a different sense of adulthood to what I feel now? I guess I’ll find out when I’m 83.

Are LGBT Labels Good or Bad?

I feel like LGBT labels are seen by some as an amazing concept and by others as the worst thing in the world. Personally, I don’t feel like I’m that opinionated when it comes to labels which is surprising seeing as I’m opinionated about pretty much everything else. So naturally, rather than leaving it be, I thought I’d take a look at some of the different advantages and disadvantages of labels today. I thought it might be interesting to look at some varying viewpoints from other people. You can write your opinions in the comments and stuff and we can start a little discussion thing…if people want to 🙂
Some disadvantages of labels I’ve heard:

  1. Bullying/discrimination: Some people think labels encourage bullying, discrimination, and exclusion. This can happen when people change the meaning of the word ‘gay’ to insult someone or use nasty slurs such as ‘tranny.’ Discrimination like this can ruin people’s lives and in extreme circumstances, even put individuals in danger.
  2. We don’t need them: Lots of people think labels serve no purpose because they argue that ‘we are all human.’ They think we should be able to accept everybody for who they are without needing labels to categorise people into different groups.
  3. Pressure to meet society’s expectations for labels: Some people think assigning a label to yourself pressures you to meet societal expectations, for example dressing or acting a certain way to fit a stereotype. This pressure could potentially make individuals act differently from who they really are.

Some advantages of labels I’ve heard:

  1. A sense of belonging: Many people in the LGBT community know the feeling of being an outcast all too well. Some people argue labels like ‘gay’ introduce individuals to a group of people they can relate to where they can discuss any struggles they may face with others who empathise.
  2. Empowerment: Lots of people argue they are proud of their identities and like being able to use LGBT labels to tell the world who they are. Labels can also lead to events like Pride being organised which benefit those within the community.
  3. Labels themselves don’t cause problems, the people misusing them do: People argue words like ‘gay’ and ‘transgender’ aren’t the concern here but the people turning these well-meaning terms into harmful insults are. They argue people like this shouldn’t make us cut these words out of our vocabulary entirely.

I asked some people I know how they felt about labels and here’s what they said:

Boyfriend – ‘I don’t care for them at all, (I think the world) would be a much better place if we stopped using labels entirely.’

Friend 1 – ‘I think labels are good because they tell people where they stand or what they go for but they are by no means necessary. It’s okay to still be figuring things out. I think especially at uni labels aren’t the best because people are still very closed minded still and rely heavily on stereotypes in my experience which frustrates me A LOT.’

Friend 2 –  ‘I do not like the idea of labels because I feel like assigning yourself in a particular box will always cause controversy from people who may not understand what it means. I also feel like for people discovering themselves as LGBT in a traditional household may not feel as though they are comfortable ticking a certain box. For a lot of them the way they feel is a lot more than just a word, and I feel like that very label may isolate them because of the stigma related towards it whilst growing up in such households. They may think it’s a crime to act like the way they do when it is perfectly normal!’

If you have any opinions on labels, write them in the comments below as I’m sure there are many points I haven’t included in this particular post. Hope you found this interesting!

Thanks for reading,

ranterwrites

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Why My Cat is Better Than Everyone Else

You might think you’re pretty cool – you have a great job, lots of friends, and you’re relatively happy with the way your life is going so far. Unfortunately, your ego is about to disintegrate as I tell you about the creature whose standards you can never live up to.

Objectively, Harry Hill (my cat) is cooler than anybody else in the world. Don’t be mistaken, as he’s much more than just your average pet. Not convinced? Here are five excellent reasons why my cat is an inspiration and a blessing to us all:

  1. He never gives up. Harry is somebody who knows exactly what he wants. Whether this be killing a piece of string, eating dry cat food forever, or spending an entire day licking a plastic bag, Harry’s persistence impresses all who meet him. We see his determination reflected as he pulls rubbish bags out of the bin, refuses to eat anything remotely moist, and sabotages my mum’s emails by jumping on the iMac keyboard.

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  1. He’s more hygienic than you. How much time have you spent washing yourself today? Probably not as much time as Harry. Even without the fancy toiletries available to most privileged humans, Harry invests more time in cleaning himself than most people do. We should all take a leaf out of his book.
  1. He effortlessly looks amazing. Harry always looks as if he’s spent hours in the bathroom and has just put on a new tuxedo. What most people don’t realise is that Harry simply wakes up wearing a matching suit and tie. That’s right, on top of everything else, Harry just happens to look naturally fabulous too.
  1. He doesn’t care what people think of him. Although Harry knows some people are jealous of him, he never lets his haters bring him down. Admittedly, sometimes my family will laugh when they see him vigorously chasing his tail, falling off a chair, or literally not moving for seven hours straight, but Harry doesn’t care. At the end of the day, he knows he’s living his best life and that he’s spectacular regardless of what anybody else thinks.

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  1. He brings joy to everyone he meets. Harry has lived with us for five years now (and what a blessed five years it has been). During that time, apart from a few cat scratches and sabotaged emails, he has never emotionally or physically hurt anybody in our home. He has never said anything spiteful or insensitive or even started a mildly petty argument. Whenever friends and family are lucky enough to see him, they always greet him with a smiling face and a scratch behind the ears (if he hasn’t chosen to run away from them because he simply doesn’t have the time). Usually, guests in our house seem more interested in talking to Harry than to us! We can hardly blame them though.

So there you have it – now you can see why Harry is better than anybody else you know. Do you have a pet that you think is amazing? Tell me about them in the comments because I’d love to know!

Thanks for reading,

ranterwrites


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My Thoughts On Transgender Bathroom Bans

As you may know, a few days ago Donald Trump revoked a law issued by Obama allowing US transgender public school students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. Here are my thoughts on laws preventing transgender people being allowed to use bathrooms they feel safest in:

One of the main arguments for bans like these (used by people who aren’t claiming transgender people are ‘mentally ill’ or ‘don’t exist’) is that cis males will take advantage of this situation. Many advocates of the ban say cis men looking to sexually assault women will dress up as females and pretend to be transgender in order to enter girl bathrooms. They fear this will give sexual predators the chance to sexually assault, rape, or carry out other inappropriate behaviours towards women. In a world where one in five US women will be raped during their lifetimes (2015), of course these concerns are legitimate fears for females to have. Trust me, I am in no way trying to undermine that. However, we can clearly see that transgender women using female bathrooms aren’t the problem here. The concern revolves around cis men looking to sexually assault women.

Some might argue that men who assault may be the problem, but that transgender women being allowed into these spaces will still allow these men to put women in danger. The thing is though, this argument completely prioritises the safety of cis people over that of transgender people. Transgender people are put at risk when denied access to public bathrooms.  As I previously said, sexual assault is a legitimate concern for cis women, however transgender people are the most likely group to experience sexual violence, with 64% having been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.  Those who say transgender people are the ones posing a threat to people’s safety are labelling the most vulnerable group as a dangerous one.

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Police, school officials & sexual assault and domestic violence organisations say non-discrimination laws allowing transgender people to use bathrooms matching their gender identities haven’t seen ‘a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues.’  One police department spokesman stated ‘I doubt [non-discriminatory laws are] gonna encourage the behavior. If the behavior’s there, [sexual predators are] gonna behave as they’re gonna behave no matter what the laws are.’

The National Press Secretary for The Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Mcbride, notes that if sexual assaulters were waiting on ‘loopholes’ like this to appear, they could be entering female bathrooms already.  Laws preventing transgender people using the bathrooms based on their gender identities state that everyone must use the bathrooms matching their ‘biological sex’ instead. This is defined by the sex on people’s birth certificates. Mcbride points out that transgender men are likely to have birth certificates which state they are ‘female,’ and that a lot of the time they are indistinguishable from cisgender males. So in places where it’s the law to use bathrooms matching the sex on your birth certificate, men looking to sexually assault could ‘skip the trouble of dressing up and go into the women’s room, pretending to be a transgender man.’

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Time Magazine also points out that sexual assault remains sexual assault regardless of your gender identity. Many advocates of the ban work on the assumption that if a male sexual assaulter enters a female space by posing as a transgender woman, their actions will have no consequences. However, if a woman claims she was sexually assaulted, the gender identity of the assaulter doesn’t change the fact that this is a crime. Human Rights Campaign attorney Cathryn Oakley points out: ‘If you are a man who dresses as a woman and goes into a bathroom and commits a crime, whether you have a non-discrimination protection on the basis of gender identity or not, that behavior is illegal and criminal and you could be arrested and go to jail.’

The last and rather ironic point I am going to make is that Donald Trump, the person who revoked Obama’s guidelines based on ‘the safety of women ’ has infamously bragged about getting away with sexually assaulting women because of his fame. This is the man who has set an example to millions by trivialising sexual assault and sexualising women. As president of the United States, his words have real consequences when it comes to the attitudes of people towards these topics. Does this man really care about preventing the sexual assault of women? Or is this just, as many have claimed, an excuse for prejudice and hatred?

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The Trump administration rescinding protections for transgender students means these children and teenagers are in more danger now than they were under Obama’s rules. In order to fight this prejudice, we need to educate people about these things. Whatever your gender identity, do your best to teach people, write blog posts, write articles, post on social media, go to peaceful protests, support organisations, etc. Basically, do whatever you can to spread the message that transgender people deserve better than this. I’m a cis female, so obviously I can’t understand how terrible these restrictions must be. But, if anyone reading this is transgender, then what I do know is that you’re strong as hell and that there are tons of people out there that completely support you. And I’m sorry Donald Trump is such an asshat.

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My First YouTube Video! – Feminist Lenses

Hey everybody,

Today I uploaded my first ever YouTube video – how exciting! It’s a poem called ‘Feminist Lenses’ which looks at the ‘struggles’ socially aware people can face going about their day to day lives. I think this is a perspective that isn’t talked about that much so I thought it’d be interesting to write about (hopefully some of you do too!)

As you may or may not know, I am a huge supporter of feminism so this video isn’t meant to  mock feminists for being ‘oversensitive’ in any way. I think it’s extremely important to be able to recognise injustice in this world. I just wanted to show that sometimes being opinionated (for lack of a better word) can be hard work!

Please let me know if you liked this video or whether you think I should make any similar videos to this in the future! If you’re feeling extra generous, feel free to subscribe to my channel (; (only if you want to of course).

Thanks for reading/watching,

ranterwrites


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