While my friends were getting high and chasing girls down parkway lines I was losing my mind

I used to keep a diary (and by diary I mean I opened up Microsoft Word and wrote a couple of sentences about how I felt that day). It’s been nearly a year since I wrote anything in it but I just found it and decided to have a read and see what ridiculous things I used to write about. I completely forgot that when I used to keep this ‘diary’ I was completely miserable and not enjoying college in the slightest and just generally hating everything.

I’ll take you back to semester 2 of my first year of college, around the time I started keeping track of my thoughts. My anxiety was at an all time high, I was having panic attacks at least 3 times a week and avoiding going to classes because of it, I was eating a Chinese takeaway at least twice a week (which doesn’t actually sound all that terrible but when you put on weight and you’re already miserable with yourself, it’s awful). I remember crying myself to sleep every second night until I got home at the weekend. Semester 2 of my first year of college was, as you’ve probably gathered, an awful awful time for me.

But the reason I’m talking about the diary I found is because there was one post in particular that just got to me. I wrote it on the 22nd of March last year and it has just one simple sentence;
“It’s easier to like yourself when other people like you.”
I don’t recall exact details of what was going on around then, but I do remember how I felt about myself. Like 99% of the world, I struggled (and sometimes still do I guess) with self esteem issues. If you had asked me to pick out my least favourite thing about myself when I wrote that diary entry, I honestly don’t know how long we’d have been talking about all the things wrong with me. Don’t get me wrong, I can still give you a long list of things I’m not too fond of about myself but what I’ve managed to learn in the last year is that there’s more important to just let it go and to stop being apologetic for the way I look and to start to actually like myself.

I guess the whole reason the diary post got to me was just because I can’t remember what it’s like to be that sad about things. The last year hasn’t been perfect, and it’s taken a long time to get over a lot of my own problems with…well, me, but it’s been worth it. I’ve surrounded myself with some really excellent people who have unknowingly made me feel better about myself just from really simple things that they do. I’ve become one of those people that enjoys working out (I know, I kind of hate me for that too) simply because it makes me feel better about myself. I’ve got things to look forward to, I’ve got the company of wonderful people, I’ve got it pretty good.

But the main thing I’ve learned is that it’s more fun being unapologetically happy than anything else.

There was another diary entry I found. It was written exactly a month after the other one I’ve already mentioned and it too is only a sentence long;
“Fuck anyone who says you can’t choose to be happy.”
It takes a lot more than just waking up one day and deciding you’re gonna be happy, but when you get to the point where you do want to make a change, fucking do it and don’t look back because I promise you it’s not gonna be easy and it’s certainly never gonna be perfect, but it’s most definitely worth it.

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Panic at the disco (and probably every other kind of venue you can think of)

So I suppose I should warn you that this isn’t the typical “haha look how shit Portlaoise is” kind of blog post (apologies, I’ll find something new to make fun of soon for you all). This is actually a more personal post than you’re used to (so if you stop reading now, I completely understand).

I wanted to write about this because it’s something that I thought was completely normal that everyone dealt with until about 2 weeks ago when I had a chat with a few of the gals and they informed that it was not, in fact, as normal as I had believed. So basically, what I need you to do (an interactive blog post?! What is this?!) is imagine those pre-exam nerves you get, or maybe the nerves before an interview of some sort- just imagine having butterflies in your stomach, but not the good kind. Now multiply those butterflies by about 10 and you will understand how I, and many people like me, feel about any situation that isn’t familiar…and sometimes even familiar situations.

Basically, I’m nervous in almost every aspect of everything ever. And what I’m here to do is not to help people who also get anxious about the littlest things, but to help people who don’t get anxious understand what it’s like for the rest of us so you don’t sit around bitching about how people are anti-social (or maybe you don’t do that, I don’t know, but paranoia is a common trait of us nervous folk).

I mean, I’m not gonna get into a whole big “look, do this and this and this and everything is fine”. Literally all we want is for you to understand that sometimes (most of the time) we don’t want to do certain things because we’re too nervous about it. And a lot of the time there’s no reason for our nerves – or our reason is so ridiculous we can’t bring ourselves to tell you because it’s too embarrassing to admit (one time I didn’t go to a sleep over because I was nervous their aunts and uncles would show up unexpectedly and I would have to deal with meeting grown ups…that was genuinely once a worry of mine).

But look, I could rant all day about how I get so panicked about tutorials that I don’t go sometimes or how I got really nervous that one time after the Leaving Cert when we all went to Aoife Del’s house because I was afraid the girls would be like ‘wow why are you here, when did you join this group ya loser’, but I won’t. I’ll just say that if you have a friend who is more introverted than most, don’t get mad when they don’t go places with you- it’s nothing personal, that’s just a nerve wracking experience. Sometimes I lose count how many times I have to cross the road to avoid dodgy looking 17 year old boys (I say 17 year olds, but the age usually ranges from about 8 to 40).

So just keep in mind that some people can’t call people on the phone because it’s too awkward and it makes their heart beat unnaturally fast and they’re not quite sure why. And keep in mind that some people can’t go up to a shopkeeper and ask for help because my god does that cause heart palpitations on a whole new level. And keep in mind that some people aren’t confident and outgoing enough for spontaneity.

Just try be nice to people, especially the shy awkward people because I promise we have a personality, we’re just scared you won’t like it.