Targets: Which Do You Hit?

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One of the wonderful things about human life is having choice. We – or at least those who live in countries and societies where free will and human rights exist -can decide which path we want to walk down in life. Do I want to take myself down path A or path B, since both will take me to completely different places in my life?

Using myself as an example, I am currently stuck at the crossroads; I am aiming my metaphorical arrow at a set of targets without being quite sure which I want to hit. For all young people leaving school and education, it can be difficult to know which is the right choice to make with so many options laid out before them. I had already decided to remove my ‘university target’ from the line-up, after much deliberation, yet it still lingers in the back of my mind, along with the debate of whether or not it was the right decision for me.

That can be the issue with removing a goal or a target: you remain unsure if it really was worth keeping. Surely if it was worthy enough to become an option, why leave it and put it away? What makes it more difficult is when other people stand behind you and try to help point you in the right direction.Whilst some may be helpful in assisting your choice, a conflict of opinions surrounding you can complicate things. The only simple thing to take from this is to take opinions into account but only lightly: at the end of the day, the person holding the arrow of your future is yourself.

When presented with difficult choices to make and an uncertainty of which route to follow, sometimes you have to rely on your instincts. Often people are lucky enough to have a feeling about what’s right for them, knowing deep in their heart what makes them happy. Even if it turns out to be a mistake, what’s the harm in trying?

The option to have choice should be valued. The difficult task in deciding where to go next, where to aim, can drive you up the wall, and cause varying amounts of stress and sleepless nights.

Even so, the choice belongs to you. You can pick your destiny, and take yourself where you think you will benefit and be happy the most. I may be struggling to decide what career I want to do, and whether or not I really want to study further (at least within the next five years), but there is still excitement that there are so many opportunities laid out before me, so many targets I can hit. All I need is time to think and a belief that at the end of the day, I will know in my heart exactly what I want to do.

 

Daily Prompt: Relax

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AKA HOW TO DEAL WITH PANIC ATTACKS

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 A deep breath in.

 A deep breath out.

 Surrounding myself in the room.

 Becoming grounded.

Panic attacks are often a struggle for people to deal with, with many of the techniques used to calm the body and mind failing after trial and error. The only way I knew that actually worked both in theory and during the real thing was to ground myself.

It’s all about keeping both your body and mind grounded, by ‘surrounding’ yourself in everything around you and making yourself a part of it. When having a panic attack, it can be easy to let your mind and imagination take you away, thus making the whole situation last longer whilst failing to resolve the issue in your mind. Instead, the first thing you do is look around you and take it in. Where are you? Look at the objects. Who are you with? This is where you are – whatever is worrying you is not present*. Take a moment to embrace where you are and that you are you.

This usually helps to relax my body along with slow, deep breathing, so taking a minute to yourself to just breathe and let yourself become grounded can help a lot. Once you are calm, then you can start to slowly take in whatever has set you off and help it to make sense in your mind. Talk to someone. Let your thoughts and feelings be heard by those close to you. Get an outsider’s opinion to see the angles you can’t see alone.

Once your body is relaxed, your mind can also relax, as the two are often connected during panics (as demonstrated by the physical symptoms of sweating, feeling sick, a fast heartbeat, etc.). By calming one, you can soothe the other, and soon the panic will be over and you can face the anxiety in a prepared state rather than a panicked one.

 

*it was usually things that weren’t present or physically with me (or even a physical thing – just an idea) that triggered off my panic attacks.

Daily Prompt: Moody

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 One of the signs that I (though of course this can apply to anyone) am in an anxious mood is if I am moody. When my anxiety began to rise and hit it’s peak involvement in my life, I was described by my mother as hostile, and I have faint memory of this being the case.

I suppose it was unhappiness that set me off feeling that way – there’s nothing worse than a worry or a panic attack coming back and hitting you like a ton of bricks, particularly if your mood twenty minutes prior was perfectly fine and actually quite sunny. When your feeling of safety and happiness drops to something dark and distressing, your own mood is certain to follow.

Then again, it could also have been defensiveness. Everything annoys you, everything sets you on edge, as you’re dealing with something that may be invisible to everyone else surrounding but a huge, planet-sized deal in your own mind.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when someone is having an anxious episode: though outwardly, many people seem fine, there is a still a war going on inside the mind. There are still unsettling questions that keep you from relaxing – is everything okay? How do I deal with this thing that made me anxious? How long will I feel this way? The questions that frustrate and sometimes anger those who question themselves, as they don’t have the answers when their minds are too busy asking.

Daily Prompt: Discover

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It’s the time of year of reflection – December and the impending New Year often bring that pensive side of an individual out to question if their life is going in the right direction or not, and at the age of seventeen, I am also at the time of life where I discover who I am. What kind of person am I? Which people are in my life and who will stay? What do I want to be when I begin my life-long trip into adulthood?

The last question is something that has been lingering in the back of my mind for the last year and a half, and I am only left with a variety of options for my future career rather than a settled and definitive job to pursue.

The first and most important to me is to enter a career where I can help someone, whether with social work, counselling or as a teaching assistant. I am generally a caring person, and the idea of giving help to those who need it is incredibly appealing, particularly with how rewarding it can be. However, many of these jobs within the social care spectrum require university education, and I don’t feel fond of the idea of going to university – I am anti-social, terrible with deadlines and revision and would much rather not put so much money into something I am certain to do badly in.

The second future job idea is to work within the media – either screenwriting or directing short movies or music videos. Music brings out my creativity, so to use it as a tool to make visually appealing videos would be a lot of fun. But, alas, the drawback of this is I studied the social sciences at A-Level rather than media, so trying to go from the one set of subjects I am knowledgable about to one I have distant memory of (as I studied media at GCSE) would be a silly decision.

The third, and my personal favourite, is a career where I can write. The dream to be a well-known and successful author, or a magazine column, or even just making some money with freelance, often brings out a passion in thinking ahead to the job for the rest of my life. Though not always practical, it would be a fun possibility, as writing is something I have done my entire life and still do every day – even away from this blog.

The best thing about that is no matter what career I have, I will continue to write and express myself with words, which is a comfort: doing something I love for the rest of my life makes my future look positive at least in some aspects. It is my hobby and where I feel the most pride, and I refuse to live my entire upcoming life without putting my writing out into the world and making a name for myself.

Daily Prompt: Calm

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Calm

 Anyone with anxiety will know the struggle of trying to become calm: it’s almost an untouchable dream to be calm at the height of feeling anxious.

For me, I spent three long months at the beginning of 2016 trapped in an anxiety bubble, where the state of being calm seemed to be a million miles away out of reach of me, and almost impossible to achieve. Every action was tainted with fear and every thought was a catalyst to add to my distressed state – the complete opposite to how I feel now.

Though I still have my moments of crushing worry and an unsettled stomach, I find it easy to be calm, without even thinking about it or trying to force myself to be comfortable in my mind. Looking back on that period is impossible to believe and almost terrifying to consider that that was the way I lived for three whole months, though at the time it felt almost like three years, with each day dragging out like an endless ocean of jagged, choppy waves that never settle.

Daily Prompt: Fishing

via Daily Prompt: Fishing

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 My automatic response to seeing the prompt word ‘fishing’ is to remember the phrase ‘fishing for compliments’, where an individual dangles their attractive traits on a metaphorical hook and faux-criticises them in order to receive a compliment in return – something they are searching for as much as fisherman look for fish (I have said fish too many times, I apologise).

The ‘lake’ where people can often go to bait the complimenting people is often, nowadays after technology has squirreled away into most aspects of a human’s daily life, found within social media. A person – the ‘fisherman’ – may decide they either want to flaunt their positive aspects (the physical, in this sense), or perhaps wait for validation that they are ‘perfect’/’pretty’ etc. (aka a confidence boost). In order to get this the fisherman could, for example, take to Instagram and post a photo of themselves with a sly dig at their own looks before sitting by their device and waiting for the likes and comments to start rolling in – friends denying that they are ‘ugly’ with cries of “im jealous of how pretty u are!” or perhaps a heart eyes emoji.

It is ridiculous to me that young people (in this case, as it is typically 53% of 18-29 year olds using Instagram) take to social media and try to bait the compliments with a thinly veiled insult at their own looks – some even caption photos about things like a new hairstyle or nail varnish, but the photo itself is their full-length body posing provocatively while they pout, just in the hopes that someone will notice their attractiveness and tell them how “stunning!” they are.

Whilst it is of course a positive to give and receive compliments, there is always the fear of ‘too much of a good thing’: what happens when no attention is received on social media when the self-esteem is built so high on these compliments of friends or followers? Self-esteem in young people can be fragile, especially in a Western world where physical attributes are often criticised, even becoming the topic of discussion in media (magazines, etc.). When self-esteem becomes threatened or broken, it can lead to disastrous consequences, though the threat of this happening has, I believe, become more common over the years as more social media apps are created and used.

Holding physical attractiveness in high regard as a personal quality to get you status or love is not good when it overshadows the other qualities that are far more useful in an individual – such as intellect or selflessness.

And once again, I fail to know how to end this properly.

 

Florida Kilos [Lana Del Rey]

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 It would take you less than a week to catch on to the fact that I deeply adore Lana Del Rey and her music if you were to know me in real life, so of course there would come a moment where I write about her songs. I have already attempted three posts on other muscians I love (Tom Odell and James Bay), so it would only make sense (to myself) to write about my favourite artist.

Florida Kilos is a fairly random place for me to start when beginning to write about LDR, as it isn’t a single that has been on the charts – instead it is a bonus track on her album Ultraviolence, and one that I didn’t find until over a year after its appearance. However, there are hundreds of Lana songs that are unreleased, many of them difficult to track down, so discovering many of Del Rey’s songs is like stumbling upon a fiver you didn’t know you had in your back pocket.

Florida Kilos fits quite snugly on Ultraviolence – an album of dark and pictureqsue lyrics and clean instrumentals. It begins with a simplistic, lonesome guitar that brings a plucky American vibe, later joined by a quietly beating drum paired with a sharp kick that makes the track a snappy, summery tune. The music itself, as a whole, is swaying, the kind that helps one invision the high and free people of Miami dancing along in joy for their drugs.

One of the things that help create this summery feel is Lana Del Rey’s voice – sweet and babyish as she sings of her “daddy” and uses innocent, pretty terms to describe her drugs – “turnin’ diamonds into snow”. It’s this paired with the youthful “yayo” following each chorus, almost a sing-a-long, sway-a-long tune, that adds to the carefree vibe of the song – possibly a reflection of today’s drug culture where it becomes the norm within social groups to take drugs for recreational purposes, all part of the fun.

Del Rey’s voice has often been used in this ‘youthful’ way to demonstrate her Lolita-based character – a young woman who is in love with an older, more powerful man (or ‘daddy’) who can control her with just as much ease as she can seduce him with her innocent charms. Other songs that have included this theme have been Off To The RacesLolita and Diet Mountain Dew – though many of her songs include this storyline, echoing the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (her lyrics occasionally reference.

This is fascinating to me, the way she portrays a character in her songs, using her music to tell a story. Though this ‘character’ seems to appear in Florida Kilos, there are certainly people who relate to the thoughts, feelings and actions described in the song – the taking of drugs, the idea that Miami is the place to be if you want to live fast and free, the thrill of doing something illegal (lyrics include: “Prison isn’t nothing to me”).

As someone who does not take drugs and has a negative opinion of them, I don’t feel the connection between myself and the song, but I do enjoy her lyrics – in all her songs. Del Rey has a way with words, using visually pleasing words that create stunning imagery mentally when listening, and it is easy to see she is a woman who is keen to share beauty: she used to make her own music videos using cinematic clips, and her newer music videos are admirable.

However, back on the topic of the Florida Kilos lyrics, many stand out to me as being simply beautiful, for example: “Guns in the summertime, drink a Cherry Cola lime” or “White lines, pretty baby, tattoos”. For a theme I don’t agree with (drugs), I find the words she uses to create the vivid and attractive mental images inspriring.

Lana Del Rey is a wonder at writing lyrics – again, most likely due to her own possible inspiration of old-fashioned Hollywood movies and noir – and this makes me love both her and her music even more. As a writer myself (though it’s more me *wishing* I could make it as a talented one) I admire the way she uses her words, even on a topic I don’t agree with.

I’m still new at this review thing, I don’t know how to finish it.