A Month Of Being A Socialite

At the start of September I decided to set a challenge for myself: Sociable September. You may be thinking psssh easy,  but I’m here to tell you I’m quick to choose solitude. I’m usually a home body, swapping the flirtatious nights out for a book, or a chance to write.

What did my Sociable September endure?

I set a goal that I was to say yes to any, or as many, outings I got invited to. I started the month off strong by going to the pub after finishing work at 10pm, and ended September doing my sociability proud by getting home at 6am aka on a Saturday morning aka 5 hours before my 12 hour shift started. Shivers. Going. Down. My. Spine. However, to be honest, I walked into work Saturday morning chuckling my head off with my colleagues at how ridiculous we’d been the night before; my hangover aching with laughter. Sociable September also included other non-drinking events – meeting up with friends, going to art galleries, spending time writing in central London. The goal was to get out of the house and make the most of living in this amazing city I’m proud to call home, and I think I did a pretty good job.

22221784_1432387780202200_1291060817866517067_n-e1507381819424.jpgWhat did I get out of Sociable September?

First and foremost I found liberation in saying YES more. I’m definitely not a timid soul, but I am known to pass up things for more solo adventures. I wouldn’t say my Sociable September forced me out of my comfort zone, but it did make me appreciate my friends – and being spontaneously crazy – a whole damn lot.

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” ― Bill Watterson

Did socialising give me more energy?

The main reason I usually say no to going out with people is to preserve my energy because a typical work week for me can long and tiresome. So, heading into Sociable September I had intially predicted that I would end September exhausted and ready for a week long snooze. Funnily enough, it didn’t because I surrounded myself with energetic people. I got swept off my feet into a whirlwind of wine and laughs, resulting in ending September with a lot of good-mood energy and a desire to join in more often.

What are my thoughts going into October?

I’m definitely excited about another month and a different goal. Going forward I will definitely aim to continue to say yes to things, and enjoy what my London life has to offer. I do, however, feel that during this last month my writing and reading have been put on the back burner. I want my October to include more time to get back to what truly makes me happy; my blog and my book writing.

“If I could read while I was driving, showering, socializing or sleeping, I would do it.” –  Elizabeth Gilbert

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The Verdict

  1. My friends make me happy, but so do I. Any one of us will deflate if we overdo it, it’s about balance.
  2. I’m sitting here in the members room at the Tate Modern, thoroughly enjoying my book (and my solitude).

I thoroughly suggest these smaller, challenge type goals. What will be your October goal?

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Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

The Motion of Graphs

I haven’t always been a confident person, and I most definitely have days where my usual confident structure breaks away from itself. Quite often I try and analyse what confidence truly is, and why this complex demeanour fluctuates.

Confidence is technically described as:

“A feeling that is due to self-belief and acknowledgement of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

This word acknowledgement, at the heart of this definition, is what interests me the most about confidence. Throughout a discussion with a good friend (Instagram: simon_walsh14), an extremely interesting point was unearthed. I would like to share and discuss this. Confidence, as much as it is within oneself, is due to, and in majority because of, external stimuli. Therefore this acknowledgement may not necessarily be your own, but someone else’s acknowledging of your talents or exterior that creates confidence within yourself.

All individuals, admittedly or not, appreciate compliments as these are the words that assure us most; assure us that we are strong enough, good enough, beautiful or handsome enough; these structured words allow us to keep moving, and delay us from having time to descend and self-doubt.

After this new aspect of confidence was introduced to my already over-analysing brain, I was bemused at how Simon’s external stimuli opinion resonated within me. I always thought it was about self-belief and that you just have to accept and believe in who you are – this is definitely a part, but how can we do this without assurance from someone else. If we are the only ones convincing ourselves we’re strong enough, soon enough we say it to ourselves even when we are vulnerably weak. This self-belief and confidence then has the opportunity to radically weaken to self-doubt, self-doubt to anxiety.

Explaining how confidence turns to self-doubt and anxiety is hard to explain in precise detail. I have, however, experienced this feeling, so the easiest way to put this to word is to use an example from my life. Try and picture my words in the form of a graph on a page. The last 500 days of my life going horizontal, and the three notches going upward on the y-axis being anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. As my London dream began with saving and planning; I began midway somewhere near the level of self-doubt:

 ‘Will I be able to save in time?’, ‘Will I really go through with this?’ 

As the line progresses horizontally it also slowly begins to peak vertically towards the level of confidence; this came with the physical growth of sterling but also the kind words of commendation and encouragement from family and friends. These external stimuli pushed the line to level out for several months. These months were easy, I was so confident within myself and had sureness in my plan to move alone. Then the news of my departure became old amongst my family and friends, it became accepted that I was leaving, so discussions lessened. Negative and doubtful comments stopped my ability to move away from this doubt. Small, unintentional things people said – people doubting the extent of my planning or the level of accumulated savings – all made that line waver around self-doubt. The lack of encouragement and assuredness then caused my brain to self-doubt: forcing the line to descend. I was too ashamed to discuss these feelings with family and friends because I wanted to still appear like the brave being everyone described me as. This absence of conversation then allowed my brain to plummet towards anxiety. I began to have this gut-wrenching fear of failing. As the timeline sped on, the time until I was to leave New Zealand diminished in front of me. Conversations increased with the hype of 18-year old Paige leaving friends and family for a foreign place. This resulted in a vertically increased line levelled midway between self-doubt and confidence. I had assurance in my abilities but I still lacked complete confidence of success.  From those days, to now, my line of confidence has continued to fluctuate.

My line will continue on in that fluctuating motion. So will yours. Such is life.

Reading this blog you may think I’m trying to say that confidence is solely reliant on external compliments, but it most definitely is not. This external stimuli fact is purely a minuscule part of what makes our brains tick. Confidence comes from a range of things – from validation, self-acceptance for who we are, remaining mindful, grounded and humble, amid others. These are the things that increase or decrease our levels of confidence.

So think before you speak, you’re making a bigger impact than you might think.

Mantra

When I say the word ‘home’, I am no longer referring to New Zealand. I am speaking of my flat, my town, London – London has officially become my new home.

It feels like more things have happened since I arrived than the combined endeavours of 2014. I have achieved so much since leaving the warm, Summery land of New Zealand, and I couldn’t be more proud. In my first blog post I quoted my favourite all time quote, or in my own opinion, more of my personal mantra:

“The more you live for yourself, the more you end up living for.”

And I still wake up every morning and live by it.

It’s rather interesting becoming so liberated so quickly; I had to quickly understand that the only priority I have now is my own survival. From the small concept of traveling alone and being able to see whatever I want to see, to the priority of my day to day life schedule, I have to make every single decision for myself. The small things of an adult life, that I now have had to do on my own, are building me into a more confident and independent individual with every passing moment. I find this new life of organising bank accounts, finding my flat, remembering to buy groceries, and forgetting to do my washing until I literally have run out of underwear, all overwhelmingly exciting. Yes it is more responsibility, but the freedom that comes with living for yourself is such an empowering thing.

I live in a house with, let’s say, a fair few other young adults – from a tall Irishman to a bunch of Kiwis and Australians. I have made some good friends living with a larger household than the usual, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. Of course there are things you have to give up, like a bit of privacy and space, but the added bonuses of living with a full house outweighs those petty negatives in a flash.

I have good conversations with my housemates on a regular basis, and we all agree that the social aspect of where we live is all a part of the London experience. Due to the amount of people, you can almost guarantee someone, somewhere in the house, will do something with you (if they haven’t already invited you out). I go out to dinner with a person one night, and go running with another the next morning; I can wake up at 2am and join someone watching a movie, I sometimes even get home from work and everyone’s going out partying; I literally have the opportunity to socialize 24/7. The best part about it is that people know people, so you end up making friends through friends. Coming here, you just need to realize that London is a huge scary place if you are too fearful of mingling.

I never have been a huge drinker and in New Zealand if I was to go out with friends I would either be a one drink sort of girl, or the sober driver home. However, my own choice to stay clearheaded hasn’t stopped me from going out with a group from the house; I still go out to have a laugh with everyone – even if it is only lemonade or soda water in my glass. Being so venturous towards being confident with new people and socializing makes all the difference when it comes to truly living out an experience. You have to step out of your comfort zone, and I know I say this a lot, but it’s the complete and utter truth. If it wasn’t for my ability to put myself on the line, I would not be where I am today.

“Paige, want to come to Amsterdam with me and Pip?” – Um, do you even have to ask?

I guess where I’m taking this is back to, and 100% based on, the idea of my mantra. Of course, I have friends and family, and the most beautiful home, back in New Zealand, but because I decided to live for myself, and move here, I now have so much to live for. I have a city and Europe waiting to be explored, I have a new healthy lifestyle – which has allowed me to drop the pounds faster than I thought possible – I have new friends who share the same passions, and I have a new found respect for myself.

I know the quote is accurate, and I will endure to follow its meaning in my life as much as possible.

So should you.