Being happy with yourself

Comparing yourself to others is something that just about everyone does. Some of us do it more than others. It’s an easy thing to do and we often do it without realising and it is a very hard habit to break. It can bring a confident person down and for someone with low self-esteem, it can be absolute torture.

I compare myself a LOT to other people and I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. I do it over little things, things that have no real significance like handwriting. I compare myself to people I admire and people I don’t. And I can tell you it is exhausting and painful. I can also tell you that it doesn’t help in self-improvement either at least in my experience. I compare myself to people who’ve achieved something before me and even if/when I achieve that same thing it still doesn’t make me feel any better because they got there quicker than me and that makes me feel pathetic and like a failure. If I have a crush on some guy and he chooses another girl over me I compare myself to that girl and think if I was as pretty as her or as funny as her he would have chosen me or other boys would. Thinking this way about myself has not helped with my self-esteem if anything it lowers it every time I give into it because I always find something else to compare.

However, all is not lost as there are ways of combatting this problem:

  • Be aware of your thoughts. The thing about these thoughts of comparison is that we think them without actually realising it which is how it becomes such a habit in the first place. Becoming aware of these thoughts and the harm they can cause you will help you start to break the cycle.
  • Understand that comparison is usually unfair. For example,  I can’t compare my cooking skills to a professional chef’s because they have years of training and experience that I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I’m terrible at it or that I should never cook or try to get better at it.
  • Know your own achievements.  We tend to undermine our own success when we compare it to that of someone else which is a skewed way to think about them. When you think of your accomplishments, think only about them and focus on your strengths. Remember that you have potential and you should go on at your own pace.
  • Focus on the greater things. Life is not all about money or recognition. You could be beautiful, rich and famous but these aren’t much without true character behind them. Love, kindness and empathy are just some of the greater things in life.
  • Remember that nobody is perfect. No matter how attractive, intelligent or talented a person may seem they will have their flaws just like you and everyone else. Don’t focus on your negative traits but realise that you’re human and are prone to mistakes and imperfection and learn to be ok with that. You’ve got to take the bad with the good.

 

 

 

 

13 Reasons Why Poorly Represents Mental Health and Suicide (Spoilers)

13 Reasons Why is the Netflix teen drama series that aired at all once on March 31, 2017, based on a 2007 novel by Jay Asher. It’s about Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a high-school girl that took her own life and the 13 reasons why she did it. The story takes place over 13 episodes each one outlining a reason why she killed herself. Hannah recorded herself explaining these reasons through cassette tapes which are sent out to the people she believed were responsible for her suicide. One such person was her friend and the show’s protagonist, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette).

Like a lot of people I was very keen to watch this show, and again like a lot of people I couldn’t help but notice the huge flaws it had.

First of all, I think the premise is interesting and unique if nothing else. And it was well acted even if the characters were mostly dislikable and frustrating. I quite like Dylan Minnette as an actor and I feel he was the right look and demeanour for the character of Clay. I’m not familiar with Katherine Langford but judging from her performance, I think she’s talented and I would like to see more of her in the future.

 

The main problem of 13 Reasons Why is the portrayal of mental illness or lack thereof. Hannah’s reasons for her suicide lie in being bullied, betrayed and raped. These are very serious issues and it is obvious they are causing her mental health to suffer a downward spiral leading to severe depression. Yet, this is never actually addressed in the show and that is a big mistake. The chain of events she describes and how they led to her death is missing this important link. Mental health is a much talked about subject these days and it is important that it is represented in the right way. 13 Reasons Why fails because it doesn’t actually mention it at all. While Hannah is shown to be suicidal near the end of the show that still doesn’t connect with the issue correctly. There is a difference between having depression and ending your life. The two don’t automatically go hand in hand.

The second flaw is the representation of suicide itself and the show received a lot of backlash for this. The scene where Hannah gets in the bath full of water and slices open her wrists is graphic and very difficult to watch. There is no editing to soften the impact and the show was harshly criticised for the starkness of the scene.  The show’s producers have defended it saying they wanted to show the brutality of suicide and how it is not the answer to one’s problems which is a good intention but the show does the complete opposite of that. Not only does it present suicide as being the best solution to your problems it also makes it look like a great way to get revenge on those you hold responsible for your suffering. It does this through Hannah’s tapes. The people on those tapes suffer because of what she says on them and because they’re terrified of other people finding out about what they did. Some of them didn’t do anything incredibly awful like Clay who Hannah says doesn’t really deserve to be on the tapes but is still part of the thread. Other people mentioned on the tapes, like Bryce and Justin, did do horrible things. The point is Hannah made the choice to end her life because she thought it was the only solution she had but she did it herself. What the others did and said lead her to her mental turmoil which led to her demise but as I’ve said, this link is missing.

So overall 13 Reasons Why is a decent drama- mystery series but considering what its intended message was supposed to be it should be so much better.

 

 

 

Nice: Joy, Vitality and now Tragedy

Nice: Joy, Vitality and now Tragedy

Not a long time ago, I was preparing for my coop placement. By preparing I mean daydreaming about where I’d go. I had chosen to do an international placement which was very unlike me. I was scared, anxious and regretful of my decision. Everyone was asking me where I’d go, what I’d be doing, where I’d be staying. I couldn’t give them any solid answers, just that I’d know when I was told.

On October 16th 2015, I was interviewed for a position with a high-end lifestyle magazine called Riviera Insider. The location? Nice in the south of France. That was at about 10:00am. Later that evening I received a call from my coop officer informing me that I had gotten the job. I was shocked as it was only my second interview. But I was also overjoyed as I had been concerned that I would not get anything. So that was that. Next I had to get my contract sorted with the magazine, book flights and organise accommodation (NOT easy).

I was due to embark on this grand French adventure on January 4th 2016. As the date drew nearer and nearer my nerves began to shred themselves. The biggest question on my mind was: “Why was I doing this?” As in “what the Hell was I thinking?!” I had never been anywhere abroad by myself, I had little French and I knew nothing about Nice. I’d signed up for International Coop without really thinking about it. I just liked the idea of living and working abroad for a few months but I didn’t consider any of the possible dangers of travelling alone. They only really dawned on me when it was too late to back out. I decided then and there that I was going to hate it. I’m like that about a lot of things but I was nearly determined to hate my time there. My head filled with visions of the sophisticated French men and women shunning me for butchering their elegant language and the beautiful, model-like French girls mocking me, the tubby little Irish one. However I could not have been more wrong.

First of all, the stereotype about French people being stuck up or arrogant is crap. Now maybe its because  I was in the south which is more relaxed than say Paris or Lyon but the locals were very polite. I tried my best with the language which amused some of them and then they happily obliged me by speaking English. Turns out they don’t mind if your French sucks so long as you try. Plus the French don’t acknowledge you in the street the way Irish people often do but that’s not because they’re snobs, it’s because it’s just not within their culture. But ask them for directions and they will help you. Another stereotype is that the French love designer labels which is quite far from the truth. In Nice there are plenty of fancy clothes shops but the local folk are quite happy to buy Penney’s or H&M gear too. That assumption that the French are lovers of love is true though. The men are quite fearless when it comes to approaching someone for a date. They’d see you from a mile away and come running just to ask you for your number. And you can’t say you’re not interested because they see this as playing hard to get which just encourages them.  I was a little embarrassed by this as it is something that Irish men just don’t do. To get them to leave me alone I told them I was married which did the trick. I have to admit I was flattered as I don’t receive that kind of attention from people over here. Also the French people really, really love dogs. Like dogs were allowed in supermarkets and restaurants. Funny as I always had them pegged as cat people.

So all in all I enjoyed my time there. In fact I more than enjoyed it I loved it! France had never been a place I had been very keen to visit but after spending 3 whole months there my feelings have changed completely. Nice with its vibrancy, its relaxed and friendly natives, it’s many beautiful buildings and most importantly, the atmosphere. In Nice there was just a general feeling that everything was good and easy-going. That this was an untouchable place of peace and happiness. That even if things weren’t so great right at that moment then they would be sooner or later, that everything would be okay in the end.

20160116_142052
Place Massena

 

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Promenade du Paillon

That was until the tragic event on July 14th, Bastille Day.

On that day of celebration, a man took to Promenade des Anglais in a truck and drove through the crowds at high-speed killing 84 people and injuring many others, a lot of them children. This vicious act of terrorism took place on the night when the people of France celebrated what they believed in. Liberté, égalité, fraternité. This hit me so hard. Even though I had left the country a long time by then I was still shook by the fact that the street where I had taken many a long and peaceful walk was now the site of a horrific and devastating attack. The people I had gotten to know over there were marked safe, thank God. However the image of Nice being a happy,easy-going city had been shattered. I don’t want the people of Nice to lose their vitality and their warmth of character . I know that the city will be forever altered by this heartbreaking event but I also know that French are not the type to be held down. It is my hope for the people of France especially the ones of Nice that they will take this tragedy and use it to make them stronger and better than ever. Will the city ever regain that sense of  happiness and calm? One can only hope.

 

Summer Woes of Job Seeking

Summer Woes of Job Seeking

 

Ah the summer time. Long days, the scent of freshly cut grass, blue skies and not a care in the world. Or that would be the case if you are about 12 and lived in L.A. or some other area of the world that seems to be constantly bathed in sunshine. Here in the Emerald Isle, however, it is a rather different story.

If you know anything about this little island I begrudgingly call home, you’ll know that it rarely sees the sun, the sky is mostly made up of off white cloud and that the Heavens piss down on us every chance it gets. But I’m not here to complain about the weather. Instead I am here to rant about a particular summer niggle that nearly every third level student knows only too well. I’m talking about seeking a summer job. Dun dun dun. Now I don’t want to seem dramatic or over-reactive and I am very aware that this issue does not affect all students. I merely wish to vent about my own experiences.

My summer job struggles began back in June 2013 after my Leaving Cert exams finished and I would never have to discuss mitochondria or solve for x ever again. I was 18, the perfect age to enter the world of work. C.V.s  at the ready I was set to find a cafe or shop that would occupy my summer break. Alas no such luck. It was the same thing everywhere I went. “We’re looking for someone with experience”, “We don’t hire students”, “We’re not hiring anyone”. Well damn. Like first of all if every establishment on the block wants someone with experience how am I ever supposed to gain any when no one will give me any?! Kind of a quandary that. Secondly, while I do understand that students are not readily available once summer ends due to their obligations consisting of essays about the characteristics of Gothic novels and house parties where one of your four crushes might be attending, we do really need the money. College ain’t cheap y’know. I’ve seen some textbooks worth 180 quid. And the SUSI grant? A pittance. Not to mention the crushing boredom and the general feeling of worthlessness. Thirdly, yes some places are up to their eyeballs in staff members already but maybe give some of them a break and let me do some work.

So summer of 2013 came and went with me, jobless and strongly considering leaping out the window for want of something to do. Then 2014 came around. I started handing out C.V.s in March in both my hometown of Nenagh and around Limerick city. While some places showed some interest I knew they were just fobbing me off. “Oh we’ll give you a call if anything comes up”. Yeah right. It was all basically a repeat of the previous year. It was seriously disheartening. Then in December that year,  I had a breakthrough. Dunnes Stores in Childers Road were hiring extra staff for Christmas. I was nervous and excited as it was my first real part-time job. It was tough work and the hours were long but I loved it. I felt like a useful member of society cheesy as that might sound. I had money to hand up to my mam and to buy Christmas presents with. And I finally had experience. I regarded the following summer with a little less dread as I believed that this season in Dunnes would give me a better chance of obtaining work. Oh how wrong can a girl be?!

Summer of 2015 was just as fruitless as the previous two had been. The same old excuses from everywhere I went. Summer time had become a time of sleeplessness, frustration and ugh. Even though I got another season in Dunnes in December I didn’t have the same hope about the following summer as I did before. And now it’s the summer of 2016. This year I was supposed to be spending 6 months in Nice, France for my coop. I actually only spent 3 months there due to unforeseen circumstances but I absolutely loved it. I was working as a journalist for a  fancy magazine  and I mean it was the epitome of swanky. They advertised yacht insurance for crying out loud. Still it was amazing as I was doing a job I loved and I was getting paid. Perfection right? Right! And it gave a huge boost in self-esteem, like I felt really good about being me. Even when I was in a second unpaid placement back here I still felt good. Of course that all went to Hell when June reared its ugly head saying “Hey! y’know that great feeling you had when you were working and earning money? Prepare to kiss it goodbye ’cause now it’s over and you won’t be able to find a measly summer job despite your experience!”.

I’m trying to not let this get to me but it’s hard especially when some of your friends actually managed to get something. And you might be thinking “Well if they could find something why can’t you?!” Good question, why can’t I? I’m hardworking, I have experience and I am willing to do anything an employer might ask of me. Want me to clean the toilets? Done. Want me to clear out the storage room? Done. Want me to scrub between the floor tiles? DONE. I’m not proud or fussy about where I’d work. If they want me I’m there. And while I know that this is not a reflection on me and is basically the luck of the draw, it’s really hard to feel good about yourself when you can’t even get a part-time job in a fast food restaurant. At this stage I’d settle for just an interview even if it went no where, just to feel like my efforts have been worth something.

To end this rather lengthy rant all I can say is roll on September when I’m back in university and have something to take up my time again.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

I consider myself to be a religious person. Although I don’t like to actually call myself “religious”. The way I see it is that religion is what you practice and faith is what you believe. Though I don’t like to call myself a “faithful” person either. I was born and raised a Catholic. However now I just say that I am a Christian. Why? Well because I don’t agree with everything that the Catholic church teaches.

My faith is important to me as it is for a lot of people. I believe in God and the story of Adam and Eve. I believe in Jesus Christ. What I don’t believe in is using religion as an excuse to deny people their rights. People have long had the bad habit of using their faith to hurt others and to defend the hatred they bear for people of different sexualities and of different religions. By doing this they become hypocrites. All of the major world religions share one golden rule: love each other. Yet it is the rule that we break often without realizing it.

http://meetville.com/
http://meetville.com/

People who are against same-sex marriage say that in all religions marriage is about the procreation between a man and a woman. They are hanging onto this for dear life. They know this yet they don’t know that in every religion it says that we should love one another. There have been wars over religions and it hasn’t proved anything. Its like we’ve taken something that was meant to help us and we ruin it by using to hurt each other which is the opposite of what we’re supposed to do. I know it’s not easy to love the human race but it’s not supposed to be easy. People have killed thousands in the name of their faith and in doing so have damaged the meaning of it. It doesn’t help that they often try to force others into believing that their faith is the right one. Live and let live is what I say. Another thing I don’t understand is why everyone is always so quick to blame a higher power every time something goes wrong. Sometimes its our fault. This is hard for many of us to accept. It is easier to just blame God or some other deity for the world’s problems. It is hard to understand why people do the things they do especially when it causes pain and suffering. The only explanation that I can give is that all humans have “original sin”.  It rules some people and dictates everything they do. In other words, some people are just evil and can’t be saved.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/

Free Speech and Verbal Abuse

The freedom of speech is the political right for one to communicate their opinions and ideas. Seems simple enough right? Right, except so many people have the wrong idea. We’ve all seen it. We’re on YouTube watching a music video of our favourite band and for some reason we decide to take a look at the comment section (never a wise move). Someone has posted a comment insulting the band or the genre of music in the video and now everybody else is mad. It’s the main reason I usually avoid reading the comments as there is always some big fight between two members (or more) and each one is as stubborn as the other. In these arguments there is no winner.

www.marxist.com
http://www.marxist.com

Look everyone is entitled to their opinion even if it’s stupid. You shouldn’t apologise for giving your opinion. However if you are rude or aggressive in the way you express it then you should apologise for it. Also free speech has been used as an excuse for people to be verbally abusive towards others and I don’t think that that’s okay either. Of course this has been debated before. I know if someone says or writes something offensive we can just ignore it but sometimes we can’t. It seems as though a lot of people are using their right to free speech to spread hate and not use it spread awareness.

youthvoices.net
youthvoices.net

Lets look back to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Charlie Hebdo was a satirical magazine. Satire can often be taken the wrong way. In the case of the Charlie Hebdo massacre it was taken very much the wrong way. It caused a group of armed men to attack the magazine’s headquarters. These gunmen were Muslims, the magazine had printed a joke about Muhammad and they didn’t like it. Now its well-known that Muslim extremists don’t like anything that makes fun of Muhammad. It’s a big risk to make a joke about him and jokes can always backfire. This one backfired big time. Charlie Hebdo didn’t deserve this attack, they mean no harm in what they write. There are so many people who do mean harm in what they say or write. They are the ones who abuse their freedom of speech.

news.softpedia.com
news.softpedia.com

Is the Media to Blame?

So we hear a lot about media content and how it affects the minds and behaviours of the young people in society. I want to talk specifically about music. If we think about popular music today a lot of it is about relationships, partying and ignoring haters.

I have a fairly broad taste in music but my all-time favourite is metal. Now there are many misconceptions about this particular genre. Some of these are:

  • It’s Satanic
  • It takes no skill
  • It’s sexist
  • It’s just screaming

Okay a lot of metal music does involve screaming but not all of it. The band Breaking Benjamin doesn’t involve a lot of screaming neither does Halestorm or Disturbed or Five Finger Death Punch. Take a listen:

It takes an awful lot of skill to perform any metal song. I don’t even know why this stereotype exists to be honest. In fact it’s one of the more difficult genres to do. There is no synthesized material. It’s all real. The percussions, the guitar riffs, the powerful vocals. All real.

It’s not as sexist as it once was. In fact majority of metal doesn’t really go onto the topic of women or sex at all.

It’s not Satanic. Not to say that it’s particularly religious either but it doesn’t promote Satanism. I’m not exactly sure why metal is associated with the Devil anyway.

3tags.org
3tags.org

Usually when a young person or a group of young people commit some horrible crime society blames it on something they saw or heard in the media. Like the group of two 12-year-old girls who stabbed a girl 19 times stating that they did it for the fictional character Slenderman. The two girls claimed they were followers of Slenderman and that he had told them to do this.

http://www.independent.co.uk/
http://www.independent.co.uk/

Many people blamed the Internet for this horrible crime. I can’t deny that the Internet certainly played a part but in no way is it completely at fault here. These young girls were clearly influenced by the story of Slenderman but they were probably very troubled long before they discovered him. Think about it, millions of people read about Slenderman and play the online game and how many of them have actually gone out and brutally killed in his name? Not too many.

Then there was that grave robbery back in 2006 where a sheet containing lyrics from a Slipknot song was found. Slipknot tends to get bad press because of their reputation and this certainly didn’t help. Again they can’t really be blamed. There songs are pretty hardcore and I can’t blame people for finding them intimidating but they’re not bad guys and their songs mean a lot to a lot of people. Some of their fans take the messages too far or get the message completely wrong but Slipknot aren’t to blame. The way I see it we need to start taking responsibility for our own actions. Certainly we can be influenced but at the end of the day we are the ones who commit the deed.