I am an Extrovert, and I am Depressed

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I'm the type of person who likes to seem like they have their shit together. I understand on a conceptual level that my happiness matters more than the opinion of others, but I secretly get a smug sense of satisfaction when my external appearance and personality makes it seem like I have my life together more than everyone else. 

The last time I went to the airport, I spent more time thinking about how I could fabulously get through security with an air of grace and style than I did actually packing to leave. I didn't care that I hadn't slept in almost 48 hours, that I should be excited about returning home to see my family but was instead feeling scared and frustrated. All I cared about was turning heads with an awe of "that girl looks flawless in an airport, her life must be so together." 

The truth is, I don't have my life together- at all. But the truth is also that it's all too easy to make it seem like I do. And the validation I feel when another person compliments how amazing my life seems always keeps me from spilling the truth. For my friends living in the states, my life seems like the coolest adventure ever. I live across the ocean in a huge metropolitan city, I go to exclusive events with pretty people, I'm constantly seemingly doing something cool that's helping my career or my status in life. 

And for my friends here in London, it's all too easy to look in my closet and pick out an outfit that's appropriate instead of the trashy jumper I'd rather be wearing. It's part of my day to put on makeup to cover the bags under my eyes, to put my hair up in a cute twist so you can't see that it hasn't been washed in almost a week. It's all too easy to make myself so unbelievably busy that it looks like I'm doing great - I'm happy and involved and engaged with the world. Constantly ignoring that there's a point where being busy is an avoidance mechanism. You can't be depressed if you don't have time to think about being depressed. 

And my personality doesn't help either. I'm an extrovert in the worst way possible. I can hide my depression with my confidence when I speak to others. Hide my exhaustion with my boisterous voice when I'm networking in a room full of people. My personality tells me that the more I fake it till I make it, the happier I'll be when I come out on the other side. I'm constantly telling myself that my depression is fleeting. If I go to one more event, pretend for one more day, maybe tomorrow is the day I'm not pretending anymore. 

And this is not to worry you, this isn't a call for help, I'm aware of my mental health issues and I'm handling them privately. This isn't about social media, this isn't another millennial complaining about society, this isn't about making the world feel #relatable and creating a false sense of togetherness. But this is about the realities we create for ourselves. You never really know what's going through a person's mind. You're never going to feel the way they see the world, you're never going to truly understand someone's demons. But what can we do? We can empathise. We can stop judging. We can stop putting people on pedestals.

Try to keep in mind, extroverts can have depression too. And in my experience, my personality has made it so much easier to hide it. Mental health takes so many different forms, and we have to remember that what's on the surface is almost never what's going on behind the scenes. We have to forgive ourselves and accept that we will never live up to those surface level expectations we place on ourselves. But we must also try to see each other past the facade we wear to mask our demons.

Thoughts From a Museum

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I just attended an exhibit at the V&A Museum entitled "You Say You Want A Revolution". I spent three hours walking through 1966-1970, listening to music and the voices of those revolutionaries who saw injustice and stood against it, whether it was through protest or art. With that era, we saw the rise of movements which are still alive and pushing for change today- the multicultural movement, feminism, LGBT liberation. In walking through the exhibit it is impossible not to notice the similarity between that time and now, not only for the movements which it created but the dissonance which is growing around the world.

I recently saw on the news that Donald Trump and his compatriots were complaining about a protest at UC Berkeley. However universities, even specifically UC Berkeley, have been an integral and long-standing part of revolutionist ideals- this is not a new concept. Young people are the backbone of revolution in this country- the most passionate,
forward thinking, refusal to take shit from a government who never cared, type of people. To imply that they should cease their protests at the anger of a man who represents everything they stand against is laughable. In the exhibit, there was a whole room devoted to university students fighting The Establishment. Not only those at Berkeley but those at Columbia who locked themselves inside university buildings in protest while teachers threatened to resign if the police tried to invade. Those at
Kent, Ohio who were killed while peacefully protesting on campus. Universities have always been a place where political activism thrives, and I don't expect that to change in the near future, nor should it.  Universities encourage the exchange of ideas, the practice of critical thinking, and it is the first time many people experience the world outside of their comfortable bubble. 
Universities have for decades been an integral part of meeting and organising not just for students but for communities as a whole. I find it frightening the idea that Universities should be at the whim of governmental agencies attempting to discourage students from questioning the world around them. Regardless of these attempts, I don't believe it will work (unless the goal is to make University students angrier and more passionate).

While inside the exhibit I was struck when I remembered people I constantly see criticising musicians, artists, filmmakers, and writers for "being political". They claim they just want their entertainment "without all the political crap". But that's the thing- these forms of communication have always been political. The songs we love, the movies we watch, the books we read. They change us, they make us think- whether we want to or not. The music festivals you attend today like Burning Man or Glastonbury, have significant ties to the political activism of the 60's, something we can't ignore or force away. You cannot enjoy a song by the Beatles and say you don't want your entertainment to be political, it's a hypocrisy which shows the world that you would rather not think, but live in ignorance to the reality around you. For generations, entertainment has been a driving force for awareness and change, and it's not something we should ignore or push down for our own convenience. 

Politics and the arts have always been linked

The saying "history repeats itself" has always seemed so trite to me, but once you have an understanding of history, you start to realise it's not that history is doomed to cycle itself forever, but that people and society are simultaneously never changing and always changing. We repeat ourselves, take 10 steps back before we can take 3 steps forward. While we may have new technology and new fads, the issues and arguments which plague our society has not changed all that much for centuries. 

What we are seeing today has been coming for decades. It's the culmination of thoughts and movements, of the pull between freedom and power. It's not a new concept, it is one which is traced throughout history over and over again in different times, different places, different styles. This won't be the last time the constant tension between people in our world comes to a fight, as it certainly is not the first. A revolution is coming, the proverbial writing is on the wall. And while I fear what that may mean, I take solace in the notion that we are entering an age of creativity and innovation. An era where new ideologies can take flight and change the world. I know many people are fearful that we won't win this fight. I realise that it will be difficult, however, the past few weeks alone we have proven that we do not stand alone, but next to millions who are also ready for change.

Someday it will be our story in the museum exhibition, and I hope we give them something inspiring to write about.

New Year, Not a New Me?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

I'll admit it, I'm one of those people. You know the ones. The people who always make New Year's resolutions and then proceed to break them and forget all about them until December 31st rolls around and they throw it back on the list because they didn't get around to doing it this year. Yeah, that's me. I will say, I did actually make a video for the New Year last year, in which I asked questions to my future self (feel free to watch it I'm actually really proud of it). I had planned on making a sappy sentimental video answering the questions and making new ones, but then I was just too tired and too depressed with 2016 so I ditched the entire idea and opted to stay in bed. 

Does this mean that I was finally free from the New Year's resolution cycle? Can I now live my life free from the never ending disappointment of another failed resolution?

No, of course not. Instead, I have opted to set some slightly more reasonable goals for the year, one of them being 'continue setting goals'. What I mean by that is to stop trying to change my whole life all at once, to have these fantastic goals to integrate (and continually do) for my whole year, which just isn't realistic. Instead, I'm opting to make one of my resolutions to set goals each month, goals that are accomplishable within a month, and can help me work toward bigger goals. It's almost like I'm slowly figuring out how to be an independent adult (I hope this gives me some serious brownie points...and that I don't have to make the brownies....or do the brownie dishes).

I've also realised that it's not enough to set a goal and try to achieve that goal. I have tried and tried and tried again, and at some point, you will always fail. Something will inevitably happen that causes you to have setbacks in a goal you were shooting for, or to miss the goal entirely. And in the past, it always made me want to give up, it made me depressed and angry at myself. But as I move into 2017, I've decided for myself that there is too much hate in the world right now for me to add to it by hating myself. So, at the advice of a beautifully written blog post by Jesse Cale about weight loss, I've started to tell myself 'it's okay, I love you' every time I mess up or do something that's not helping toward my goals. 

It's actually been quite liberating, and it's allowed me to recognise the accomplishments I have made and stop trying to mico-mange every aspect of my life to the extent that I stop enjoying living it. I've found that some days I have really high motivation while others it's hard to even get out of bed. It's been almost a month and I have a new appreciation for those days when I accomplish so much, and a new understanding with myself that it's okay on the days that I don't accomplish anything. 

While I'm on the subject of failed resolutions, one that I have had for years is keeping up a daily planner. Something about the beautiful pages and all of your responsibilities spread out nice and neat in front of you in colourful pen has always appealed to me for some reason. And every year, inevitably, I buy a way too expensive daily planner convincing myself I will actually do it this year, I fill in the first three weeks, and then I don't find it again until July when I'm cleaning my closet. 

And this year, was going to be no different. I marched to the Westfield right before Christmas, I walked into the fanciest Swedish print shop I've ever seen, and I bought the beautiful fancy daily planner. This year (I'm telling myself) is going to be different. You see, in past years I just left it up to my daily tasks, which arguably I didn't have stuff to do every day and forgot. This year, my daily planner is so much more, it is an amalgamation of all my thoughts, dreams, successes, failures, and goals. I am doubling my planner as a private diary as well, documenting each day of my 2017. 

So far, I've filled in every day, and I've been excited to work on it and put it together. I hope I continue to document my year and work toward these hopefully more reasonable goals, but even if I don't it's okay; because there's too much hate already going around and I'm not going to add to it by hating myself any longer. 

*We will not be talking about how procrasination has been on my resolution list for years and I am only just writing this almost a month into 2017. It's off the list because it's one of those 'unreasonable goals' I mentioned. 

Pictures of the Women's March: A Collection

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Yesterday I marched with an estimated 80,000 people in the Women's March London, joined by hundred's of thousands of others in 70 countries around the globe. I find something simultaneously calming and empowering about peacefully marching against racism, sexism, homophobia, inequality, and religious intolerance. This is a collection of my favourite pictures from around the globe from the protests, I hope you enjoy and are inspired as well. 

My own photograph standing in Trafalgar Square 21 January 2017
My personal favourite sign I saw today. Photo Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Proud to see this from my home state, Nashville TN. Photo Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean
Another beautiful shot from Tennessee. Photo T. Wilson. 

The amount of diversity and voices lifted up today is inspiring, change is for all. Source Unknown. 
This woman may be my hero, amazing. Source Unknown.

Some of the most hilarious and amazing signs out in full force. Source Unknown.

New York City, Source Unknown

Even protests in Antartica and I'm living for it. Photo @lindazunas 
I absolutely love seeing visibility for those with disabilities, let's work to normalise not stigmatise. Source Unknown. 

Source Unknown. 

One of my friends protesting in my hometown, her dance moves are contagious. Photo Paris Woodhull.

Build Bridges, Not Walls. Source Unknown.

Another bridge in London #BuildBridgesNotWalls. Source Unknown. 

One of my Internet friend's marching in her hometown. Photo @sophiamarsh. 

Brilliant throwback, I saw many of these signs out today. Source Unknown.

Source Unknown 

If you made it all the way to the end, I hope you enjoyed this collection. While it may seem that things are snowballing downhill fast, it's easy to see the passion and commitment of so many around the globe. We have work to do, and I don't know about you, but I'm ready to get to it. 

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