Do You Boo

Self-esteem. Self-confidence. Self-love.

It is important for us to understand our own beauty within and our own health needs and wants in order to booth body confidence. Body confidence comes from more than what we look like; it’s how we feel and how we carry ourselves.

Weight loss/gain, relationships/friendships, work, virtually anything will lead to us losing our body confidence. It doesn’t help to live in a world with Twitter, Instagram and everyone’s opinion on the internet telling us what we should look like and how we should be living. Black girls are told to hide their natural hair, men are made to hide their feelings; these opinions and elements chip away at our confidence. We don’t want to be seen as vulnerable or make people feel awkward but there’s nothing wrong with rocking an Afro or a man crying. The moment you stop caring about what other people think and begin doing you, you gain part of yourself back. When you suffer from anxiety, depression or any type of mental illness it takes your confidence, whether it takes 9% or 90%. Some people (like I did) stop being social, stop going to the gym; some start comparing themselves to Instagram models, celebrities and what their friends are doing. Others begin to change their attitude, the way they dress or the stop wearing make-up. This is okay because these are tangible elements of us we can always get back.

When I lost my body confidence, I also lost all motivation. In order to gain it back, I had to think more in-depth about the point in which I stopped exercising and became anti-social. Once I touched on the problem, I was able to work out a solution. As a solution I would write down all the things I wanted to do. Whether it’s to try a new look or to get out of the house more and set myself a deadline to do this. If you do this note down how you’re going to do it, who with and what could be considered a barrier and why. Most importantly, try and stick to the plan. Tell a friend or family member so they can support you and give you a little push that is sometimes need.

Other ways to boost confidence is knowing your worth and loving yourself. To do this, you need to take care of your well-being. As mentioned in my first post ‘Anxiety’ fitness & travel have health benefits in terms of changing moods, behaviours and strengthening the mind. Fitness is a big influence. A few months after working out you may feel like a new person. Changing to a healthier lifestyle, again will change your mindset and make you feel like a new person.

Say it into existence. I will go out today. I will dress nicely. I will attend that birthday dinner on Saturday I was going to flake out of. Take a chance in life.

Distance yourself from bad vibes

Sometimes with mental health we tend to distance ourselves from people; usually the ones who care about us the most. We’re too fixated on our worries, stress and negativity to think about whether the people we do keep around are the problem.

I’ll happily admit I’ve cut close friends out of my life purely because I recognised they were no good. Friendships & relationships needs to work both ways. If you’re with someone who doesn’t ask how you are doing, calls just to check up on you or only talks about themselves, you need to question what’s the purpose of this. Depending on where you’re from, taking me (a British) for example, we don’t always like confrontation, dealing with frustrating situations or not being liked however, if you have someone in your life who isn’t bringing food to the table, simply send them away from your house (not literally but I think you get the point). I’ve had friends, even an ex who were so wrapped up in their own world and superficial behaviour that they didn’t realise I too was generally going through situations in which I needed support. When we are depressed or anxious we don’t want people to worry or feel sorry for us so we don’t make a big deal or say ‘look guys I’m depressed’ but someone real and meaningful in your life should be able to see a shift in your behaviour or even in your expressions, lifestyle and appearance.  Due to this, if you see a friend that is usually dressed to the nines and suddenly stops caring about their hair, or getting dressed up for a night out, just sit that person down and have a 1 to 1; see if they open up to you and trying to have a heart to heart.  

In whatsapp group chats there is usually one person in the group you’re closest too, or the loud one, the one with all the banter, the one with the gossip, the one who replies every 5-7 working days, the meme one and the one who reads but ‘forgets’ to reply. It’s very easy to act okay and to have a good time together but there’s no harm in opening a direct conversation with someone in the group if you pick up on something they said within the conversation that didn’t sit well with you. Sometimes people in group conversations can be indirect or like me quite passive aggressive. Check on your strong friend.

The thing with certain friends, especially the loud or the gossip is that you may question their intentions. The gossip could easily spread your business and the loud could easily make the situation about them. If there’s someone in your circle you don’t trust or can’t rely on, cut them out. If there sometimes there, sometimes not- cut them out. If you feel you’ve out grown the friendship- that’s right, you cut them out. Sounds harsh and rude but honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air to get rid of bad vibes. I’ve known people for many years and have outgrown friendships and acknowledge I’m better off without them. If I can’t confide in you and rely on you to help me get out my bad mood or to at least support me as a distraction then there’s really no time to entertain this. Sometimes it’s the people you’ve known for less time that become really good friends and its usually down to maturity and the stage in life you’re at.

Its not always friends that could be a problem. In the black community, especially within older generations (our parents, grandparents, more on) they don’t acknowledge mental illness as a thing. You must get up and continue with life, no point crying over spilled milk. The older generation believe we’re just lightweights and that they’ve been to hell and back so whatever we are going through isn’t that bad. Truth of the matter is, this world hasn’t become easier, everyday they’re constantly struggles. Culture sometimes stands in the way of treatment. In addition, seeking professional help, statically its hard to find a black professional in this field or if you do go to a Caucasian professional, would they truly understand your issues? It really depends on their experience.  I don’t think my professional understood that you can’t always just walk into a black household, sit down and openly talk about your feelings. In addition to family, your partner could have an impact.  Not everyone will have the most supportive, affectionate or understanding. How they help you deal with your mental health will determine whether they deserve a place in your life; unfortunately, you may love someone but its not always enough. Toxic behaviours and love could be one of the reasons you are feeling worried or stressed or depressed in the first place. If this is the case there are multiple reasons why you may not want to let go: fear of being alone, thinking you’ve found the one, thinking this is what you deserve, embarrassment or ending a relationship, the list goes on. However, when it comes to doing what is best for you, you need to be selfish and what’s best only  for you. Bearing this in mind, picture your life without the emotional and mental affect of this person. Think about the benefits of losing that negativity. You won’t automatically start feeling better, but you develop as a person and get to a stage in life were you will wonder why you put up with them in the first place. If you have to tell someone in your life to take a step back or to leave you for good, do you and maybe with maturity and time they will understand why.

Is this the road to recovery?

When I met with the professional, from beginning to end I was encouraged to think about recovery (clinical recovery). I did not agree with this at all but I carried on with what was required of me to complete the sessions. Clinical recovery is what professionals see as the end goal, it’s them acknowledging that they’ve helped you with your mental illness and think you are healed enough to continue in the real world without their assistance anymore. Over a year later I decided to do volunteer work within mental health; we discussed recovery and as a group of people who have all experienced some type of mental health issue, we overall agreed recovery does not exist.

There’s clinical recovery but there’s also personal recovery which is defined as building a happy and healthy life around mental health. That is doable but I say recovery doesn’t exist as I would define that as development. Not everyone goes back to being the person they once were and not everyone wants to be the person they once were. Due to bad memories or a negative outlook on life, why would someone want to go back to that headspace? Professionals never look at our goals simply as us wanting to be happy and healthy- that is it. We go to therapy, try new things, try to get out of negative environments in order to become a ‘new person’, the person we wanted to be the whole time. If someone suffers from anxiety and doesn’t like to leave their house, with help from my service, family, friends, anything that helps them change when they begin to make progress, this is not recovery. If anything I would consider it as a rebirth. The old, negative, stay at home you dies and the new, trying, motivated, getting out the house you begins to live and has a different perspective on life.

Recovery could be perceived for someone who has had a tragic experience, suffers from low moods and slowly but surely recovers back to their old self, however, after a tragic experience no one is truly the same and ‘back to normal’. When volunteering we were made to look at the Recovery Tree and think about all the elements in life that could help us improve. This is looking at strength, peer support, dreams, choices and many more.  Then we looked at relationships, hobbies, all the things we do and don’t do or would like to do. For example, I may like culture and history but not go to Museums like I would like to do. That is a relationship and social tasks I could work on in order to build on myself (confidence, anxiety, stress). The Recovery Tree is more of a development cycle.

In conclusion, don’t think of recovery as the end goal, think about what you want to achieve as the main goal. My personal opinion is we shouldn’t use the word recovery. It’s not a thing. In conversation, you wouldn’t say “Tom was depressed but he has recovered now”. I’m most likely to say “Tom was depressed but he’s out and about, looking better, eating better and I’m happy for him”. That’s not recovery, that’s healing and making way for a change…development.

How working out, works out

If it wasn’t for the gym I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t mean physically, I mean mentally and emotionally.

When seeking professional advice I had to create goals to reach within 6 weeks. I didn’t reach any of the goals within this time as I felt due to severe depression and anxiety it was near impossible. However, one of my goals was to get my confidence back and I believed that if I got my body confidence up to a certain level it would improve my confidence overall; therefore my goal was to join the gym and work on my fitness.

I would occasionally go on hikes or work out at home with a YouTube video I could relate to but there was not much consistency. I use to regularly do pilates and go on walks but over the year due to my health that had changed. In 2017 I decided I didn’t want to go to the gym and purely lost weight through healthy eating. Healthy eating is beneficial, refreshing and from evidence, I could say it helped mentally. Getting rid of a heavy carb based diet helped with mood swings. I also found adding vegetarian meals to my diet (especially during work lunchtimes) made me feel less grumpy and have more energy to get through the day.

Since joining the gym in 2018 (several months after therapy) everything changed. Being at the gym takes the mind off negativity. At the gym, being focused on exercise gives us time to think about ourselves; its an escape. We use this time to talk to ourselves, thinking about what we would be like if we worked more on our fitness, questioning why we didn’t join sooner.

On top of that, exercise changes moods and is an ideal start for tackling anxiety, depression and stress. Not only that but, research shows it improves self-esteem, confidence and motivation. Truth is in the pudding!

Since being more active I’ve been more social, confident and selfish, which in terms of your mental health is not a bad thing at all!

Recommendations:

  • Get on board the smoothie trend. This is a really refreshing detox, helps with weight loss and its been known ingredients such as Avocado, Blueberries Ginger and Almonds reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Join a gym or fitness group.
  • Try a new activity you’ve never done before and take a friend. I recently tried Pole Dancing 2 weeks ago and loved it (as shown on Instagram; definitely something I would continue with.
  • Lay of the snacks and fast foods; research shows this has negative impacts on mental health and moods.
  • Get a buddy. Have someone close to you who is willing to give you that extra push when you feel like giving up or lacking in motivation. In addition, click Let’s Talk.
  • Research further health benefits.
Imaged features on my Instagram account Solobutterflyy

Leaving College Soon-Now What?

University? Apprenticeship? Work? Unsure?

It’s ok to not know what your next step is. Even when I was at University I didn’t know. I didn’t know whether I made the right choice, whether I should have got a job and worked my way up the ladder or if I was good enough for the career I wanted. When leaving College you are guaranteed to have teachers, family, friends, even social media telling you what you should be doing. My clear and blunt advice to you is this: Don’t listen. Leaving Sixth Form, I was young and did what was expected of me; to go to University and leave with a degree. Especially being in a black household, University is seen as the only choice, as if it makes you elite. I always wondered what my life would have been like if I did what I wanted to do.

I strongly advise you to think about what you want to do with your future and work backwards. Sounds strange right? People around you will back off if they know you have a plan in place. For example, if you want to be an English teacher, do your research on what qualifications are needed and what routes you can go down. There’s always more than one way of getting to the end goal. Talk to other teachers and people within the education sector. University is not the only route for this role. Keeping with the example, you may look into Apprenticeships, Vocational courses, Volunteer work and Internships. Alternatively, you can take a year out and teach abroad (look at Gap 360). Spend time understanding the role and if its truly something you want to do. If you need to take a year out in order to find out what you want, that’s ok; you need to find your feet.

If you are thinking about University, think about the variety of courses around your chosen field. I ended up graduating from a Hospitality course but there were hundreds to chose from, from BA Event Management to BA (Hons) Travel & Tourism; some Universities offer more than others. Picking the right University for you is very important. You need to think about whether you would rather stay at home and commute, move out, go to University or do Open University. There’s so much out there. Whatever you choose, once you settle into it you’ll be looking for a sense of belonging. I went to two Universities. At my first, I was surrounded by people I already knew, loved the nightlife but I was commuting from home and felt no connection to the course or the career possibilities it would provide. When I changed University I found my sense of belonging. I knew no one there but left with new life long friends, lived on campus, got into the different nightlife and environment and loved every moment of it. The University you pick will shape your future however, like me and thousands of others you can transfer and put your studies on hold if you need to.

Be open to all options and opportunities. I’ll repeat again, start with research and stop listening to what everyone else wants from you. Be selfish and focus on yourself; only you can create the path for your future.

If you need a mentor/coach based on the topics above, please contact me directly via Let’s Talk or Instagram Solobutterflyy.

If you need assistance creating or changing your CV and with Interview techniques, please contact Mimi’s CV; Instagram mimiscvs or email mimiscvs@gmail.com

Graduating Soon-Now What?

Graduate scheme? Job? A black hole?

The time of the year when every lecturer and parent is making it seem as if getting a job in your chosen field is a piece of cake.

The uncertainty after University is real. As soon as University is over we are expected to find a role within the subject we have graduated in. If you graduate in Business Marketing, you are expected to at least be a Marketing Assistant; if you graduate in Hotel Management like I did, you are expected to run a Hotel because apparently, it’s that easy. It is so easy for every adult to say what you should be doing because it sounds like a good plan to them. Well, let’s just say, even at age 24-25, 90% of graduates I know are still trying to find their place in the world. Some have chosen gap years…that have lasted 3 years, others chose to push back adulting and do Masters Degree due to not finding work or not knowing what to do. I started applying for work and graduate schemes two months before I left University. I believe I applied for well over 200. Unfortunately, no Advisors/Staff on campus informed me or my intake that we were applying for graduate schemes at the wrong time. In my head I thought ‘ok it’s March, if I apply now I could start in the Summer’ but that wasn’t the case. By the time I started looking at graduate schemes I had missed deadlines and would have had to wait another few months to apply for the next group intake.

Point– Research graduate schemes and find out the opening and closing times for applications.

Fortunately, I was pretty confident back in University and instead of waiting for opportunities, I emailed companies directly. This led to me finding paid work experience in Central London, starting the very next day after completing University.

The truth we need to take into account when searching is: the location we are looking to work in, the economy and timescale. We must also question what level/role we want to start in. Even today, with all my qualifications and years of experience I still tend to pick entry-level roles because rejection plays heavily on my mind; entry-level roles provide a sense of security.

I advise you to start thinking about your career towards the end of second year. Gain knowledge, base your dissertation on the area you are interested to go into. The research you find for your dissertation we show how you actually feel towards the role you are looking into; whether you are passionate, find it boring, find some hidden statistics. Make use of your career advisors on campus and network amongst lecturers and students. There’s always one lecturer that you click and have banter with. Question them. Ask what they have done in their career, who they know, what they think about your career plan or lack of career plan so far. Network on social media as there are always people looking to hire or collaborate.

You don’t have to go straight into a career. Think about travelling, work experience/internships or simply combine the two and work casually abroad. Give yourself enough time to work out what path you want to go down and write out your plan. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty to change/amend the plan multiple times.

If you need a mentor/coach based on the topic above, please contact me directly via Instagram (Solobutterflyy) or the Let’s Talk button.

If you need assistance creating or changing your CV and with Interview techniques, please contact Mimi’s CV; Instagram mimiscvs or email mimiscvs@gmail.com

SPEEDY EXPERIENCE

So we went speed dating for the 1st time…

As this experience includes a close friend who did not want to be named, she’ll be called Miss X.
Me: What words would you use to describe our speed dating experience?
Miss X: Just weird.
Both: (Laughter)

Surprisingly for an unsuccessful first time, I would try it again, just not the same one. It was a strange experience but I went not expecting it to be anything other than awkward and left feeling socially confident and with that warm feeling of accomplishing something new.

The event was located in Brighton and hosted by a local organiser I called Love Doctor (purely because I forgot his name and I’m sure he said people call him that). The concept was to spend 6 minutes with each guy and after 6 minutes, we had to text the Love Doctor yes, no or coffee; coffee meaning, hmm I’m not too sure but about you, maybe we should meet again. Unfortunately, when we entered the room there was only two other women and seven men. Being a small group we could tell this would be over soon but looking around the room the saying ‘the sooner the better’ came to mind.

Before the event Miss X and I agreed we would make this into a fun social experiment and write down 1) Who we both would like (to see if we liked the same guys) and 2) Words we thought best described the experience. As you can tell from the beginning of the blog, the only answer I got was ‘Just weird’ and I agreed. Once all was over and done we both looked at each other, laughed and called an Uber as soon as possible. Sadly, none of the guys left a memorable mark. Miss X found a few cute in an ‘I feel sorry for you way’ whereas, due to my blunt personality every guy was a straight NO for me. Some came dressed very casual and didn’t seem very interested in holding meaningful conversations and others seemed like this was a night out for them and somewhat full on. I personally wasn’t attracted to anyone there physically or mentally and felt as if I had to drive all the conversations just to give through every 6 minutes.

So, you are probably thinking, Nadine why would you go through this again. Well, never let one experience prevent other experiences similar to it. Maybe if we went to a speed dating event in London, hosted by a bigger company, had a different target audience or a different theme it might have been more interesting and successful for us. We didn’t meet anyone we would have liked to meet again but we felt happy knowing we put ourselves out there and gained confidence, speaking to people we would never speak to in general. Mentally it was a success.

I would 100% recommend leaving Tinder, Bumble, your multiple boyfriends/girlfriends for the night and have some fun speed dating. You might not leave with the person of your dreams but you will leave laughing with your best friend and making memories. You never know, you may find someone you like and end up exchanging numbers or continue drinking throughout the night.

Little Note! I know people who have done speed dating with a twist by going to a Dating Against Humanity or Jenga event – give these a go! I will be next time.

Preparing myself.