Kicking Social Anxiety to the Curb

Happy Wednesday! I hope you’re all enjoying the first week of December so far!

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My tree is up and decorated, I currently have four Christmassy candles burning, and Elf is in the DVD player! I just love the joy, warmth, and love that surround this time of year!

However, with Christmas quickly approaching, lately I’ve found myself reflecting on this past Halloween.

I’ve mentioned before that my very best friend is a pin-up model, who’s lovely inside and out! This past Halloween, she had set up a themed photo shoot with a local photographer and invited me to go along with her. She was dressed up as a witch, and asked that I be her black cat for some pictures. Wanting to be a good friend, I summed up all of the courage I could muster and agreed to it.

As I’m quite a shy and introverted person, with a healthy dash of social anxiety, I tend to enjoy staying within the realm of my comfort zone. I just love to be at home where I can be safe, cozy, and sound. Until recently, I was even quite camera shy. For my high school senior pictures, rather than going to an actual photography studio, I had my mom take pictures of me in our own backyard.

So, naturally, the thought of dressing up like a cat and prancing around a coffee shop during business hours for some photos, horrified me.

However, I promised myself that this would be a good learning experience for me. I thought that as long as I went into it with a positive attitude and the intent to grow from it, that it couldn’t be too bad.

After a day full of sweating and a couple of panic attacks, I mindfully rejected all of the last minute excuses my nervous mind stirred up to prevent me from going, and I readied myself for my very first, actual photo shoot. Luckily, my friend very kindly volunteered to do my kitty make up. Otherwise, I probably would have had eyeliner everywhere due to the shakiness of my hands.

I’m no actress and I have a difficult time hiding true emotions like fear, dread, and panic. But in order to prevent myself from having a full blown anxiety attack whilst my pictures were being taken, I tried to clear my head as best I could. I tried my very hardest to focus every bit of my attention on my breathing and on the task at hand, which was to be a character in a scene.

I was a sassy kitty, soaking up the spotlight.

A large majority of the photos which I received back from this shoot made me cringe, but here are the few that I find the least painful to look at. lol

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Oddly enough, the whole experience honestly felt like a dream, which made it a little bit easier.

When it was all over, though, I felt empowered. In not allowing my anxieties to make a decision for me, I had conquered a great deal. I walked away that night feeling more centered and whole. I chose to leave the confines of my comfort zone for a moment, and in doing so, I gained so much. I realized that I have the strength to overpower my anxieties and that I don’t have to live in constant fear of panic attacks. I have control over my life and what I can and can’t do. The more energy I give to my anxieties, the more they’ll have.

As far as the actual pictures go, I definitely don’t see myself quitting my day job to pursue a career in modeling, but the experience in itself was worth all the worry I so needlessly gave it.

If you deal with social anxiety and panic attacks as well, I’d love to hear from you! Or, if you’re overly excited for Christmas like me and have already decorated, I’d love to see pictures!

Leave a comment or shoot me an email at roriraine@gmail.com. Also, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Bloglovin! I’m all over the place now! lol

Enjoy the rest of your week! ❤

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-A

The Juxtaposition Complex

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I have a confession to make, I have a terrible habit.

I, Aurora Raine Jones, have a horrible tendency to mercilessly compare myself to others. ‘Oh, if only I could sing like her…or if I had her hair, or her outgoing personality, my life would be amazing! All of my problems would be solved if only I had those legs, or those eyes!’ I may be exaggerating slightly, but I know I’m not alone. Coveting what others have is an inevitable pandemic in this materialistic world. From a very young age, we’re conditioned to want what others have, whether it be the loveliest Barbie doll, or the hippest new bike on the block.

Advertisements constantly bombard our consciousness from all sides, making it so that we’re rarely able to evade them. When I use my iPhone or iPad, my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds are all full of sponsored posts, with shamelessly placed advertisements thrown in for good measure. If I go for a drive, I pass billboards, unintentionally absorbing information.  If I choose to listen to the radio or watch my favorite shows on television, of course, I’ll learn all about the latest products, restaurants, movies,  et cetera, whether I wanted to know about those things or not.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with advertising as it allows individuals to make the general public aware of their goods or services. However, I do think that there is a manner of advertising, which seems to be used most frequently, that means to make observers feel lesser than the individuals in the advertisement as a way of motivating consumers to purchase a product.

Commercials, both for vehicles and clothing, are very blatant about this. The stylish young man driving the hottest new Jaguar or Cadillac is the one who gets the sexy model girlfriend; he’s the talk of the town, a go-getter, a trend-setter, and always the life of the party!

Victoria’s Secret commercials display gorgeous women, with seemingly perfect bodies, strutting around in lingerie, loudly insinuating, “Hey! If you buy this underwear, you’ll look just like these models and will finally have the confidence required to make your man happy!”

Each type of commercial is conditioning viewers to want what those models or actors have by attempting to make them feel like the “odd one out” for not having such a product. This instills in the general viewer’s mind, ‘I need that to be happy’.

With so many involuntary comparisons going on in our daily lives, it’s easy to subconsciously carry such covetous feelings around with us. When I see someone with something wonderful that I don’t have, I tend to automatically find myself making comparisons and feeling as though I come up short. However, in this past year of introspection and of pushing myself past the confines of my comfort zone, I’ve learned a couple of things which have proven quite helpful.

1) We have one life, which means we have only one chance to be exactly who we want to be. As I’ve put myself “out there” more frequently as of late, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many different types of people. My favorite type of people, is the “happy” group. Whether they be shy, outgoing, unemployed, energetic, or sickly, all of the happy people I know made the conscious decision to be happy.

We all have flaws, and we’ve all failed, but the trick is to keep going. Of course we have to, unfortunately, live within the margins of reality; so I know that I will never be tall like a Victoria’s Secret model, have Amanda Seyfried’s perfect thick, blonde hair, or have a booty like Kim Kardashian. And, although, learning to accept such things might be a bit disheartening at first, once I was able to get past this, I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me. The daunting expectations that I had placed upon myself, without even really realizing it, to look more like a Barbie doll, were overwhelming. Through my acceptance of the fact that such physical aspirations were unattainable (without loads of plastic surgery), I was able to let those comparisons go and, therefore, accept my own body as it is. That’s a freeing feeling!

 2) The second tip which I’ve recently discovered is that wishing that we could be more like others is, not only a waste of time, but can be used as a “cop out” of committing to actually working on ourselves in order to reach our goals. When I was endlessly wishing away my days, dreaming about how perfect my life could be if only I had been born with different genetics, I was stuck on the thought that I would never be good enough unless I could somehow attain my ‘perfect celebrity collage’ self. I convinced myself that plastic surgery was the only answer. So, I became quite depressed (as I’m too poor to afford such alterations), and I did nothing to better my health or my physical appearance. I didn’t work out, take vitamins, or even really eat very healthily. I allowed myself to become stuck, constantly tearing myself down, wasting valuable time when, instead, I could have been working to build myself up to my fullest potential.

Remember, we are each blessed with one chance to be the best self that we can be. We are each exactly who we were meant to be. Please don’t waste your precious time beating yourself up for not looking like Britney Spears, or Ryan Gosling. Every single human being on this earth is different, and that’s the beauty in humankind. We are each unique, physically and internally.

I love the above quote by Coco Chanel which reads, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”.

Always be your own unique self. Beauty is subjective, whether we’re talking about anything from physical appearance to musical ability. There will always be critics, and there will always be admirers. As long as you’re focused on being the best “you” that you can be, while ultimately maintaining happiness, why worry about what others think or say?

Although I do still find myself comparing myself to others, I’ve found these couple bits of knowledge to be both comforting and helpful, and I hope you do too!

Have a lovely week!! Please don’t forget to find me on Twitter, give this post a like, subscribe to my blog, or leave me a comment! Thank you so much for reading!! 🙂

-A

A Blossoming Wallflower

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          I have always been soft spoken and reserved. As a child, though I was socially healthy, I always preferred playing quietly by myself. Looking back, it almost seems as though I’ve actually grown into my shyness. I was put in piano recitals and concerts from age six to sixteen, and playing for a crowd didn’t even begin to bother me until I was about fourteen or fifteen. As I grew older, I found that many social situations, rather than being fun or enjoyable, drained me of energy and left me feeling completely exhausted. I began suffering panic attacks, having social anxiety, and experiencing paralyzing depression during high school, which only made things worse. After spending the past year or so focusing on getting to know myself a bit better through observation and introspection, I’ve realized a couple of things which have helped me to navigate through social situations much more easily.

The very first thing that I’ve learned, is that it is completely okay to be a quiet, shy person. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Not being a ‘people person’ doesn’t mean that I will not be successful in life. No matter what society might tell you, you don’t have to be outspoken to have a full life. When I first began experiencing anxiety in social situations, I would be very hard on myself. For the longest time, I thought that the only way to finally find happiness was to somehow cure myself of my bashfulness. This, obviously, did nothing for my ever-shrinking confidence while proportionally worsening my depression. It quickly became a rather vicious circle of self-hatred. So, the first step that I had to take in dealing with my quietness in a productive way, was to accept myself exactly as I was.

Secondly, I’ve learned to always try to be understanding of other personality types and how my energy might be perceived by others. As an introvert, I have found that there are a couple of personality types with which I have a difficult time meshing. This isn’t because I’m rude, or because the other party is malicious. I am truly a benevolent person, if I may say so. I’m always sure to smile and am fairly decent when it comes to small talk. I never open my mouth with the intention of putting someone else down. Being quiet my whole life, I was often pushed around and picked on. So, I never want to make anyone feel bad because I know how horrible that feels. I am a huge believer in positive energy. I feel that if that’s what I put out, more often than not, that’s what I’ll receive.

The truth of the matter is that there are so many people out there in this world and, therefore, an array of varying personalities. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, not all personalities are going to fit together equally as well. As sad as it may be, I had a very hard time accepting this fact. As I mentioned, I always try to be super friendly with everyone I meet, so for the longest time, I just couldn’t accept the fact that someone didn’t like me. I’d almost obsessively wonder, ‘what reason could they possibly have?!’ The more people I meet, though, the more this has happened. There are a couple of people in particular with whom I come in contact on a daily basis, who I really feel don’t like me, despite my very best efforts. It’s an unsettling feeling! I don’t need to be loved by everybody I meet, but if I’m always pleasant with someone, it’s hard to accept the fact that they don’t like me.

However, I recently sat down for a chat with one of these specific people with whom I seem to clash, and found that she shared similar feelings of non-acceptance on my part. In speaking with her, I learned that, despite the fact that I had always been polite with her, I apparently have a defensive barrier up whilst around her. As I am an introvert with anxiety issues, I was able to easily understand what she meant. Although I can make small talk with acquaintances, to strong personalities, I may come across as being superficially nice. Those who aren’t quiet about what they’re truly feeling or what they really want might not easily understand my personal insecurities, and subsequently, may not understand why I’m a bit more reserved in conversation. To this personality, as in this situation, I come across as a bit aloof, rather than warm and inviting as I have always intended.

The moral of this long-winded life-story? To understand ourselves more thoroughly as individuals, it’s vital to better understand how we are perceived by others. We can learn about different aspects of our own personality when we meet and speak with a great diversity of people. As I don’t take anything for my depression or anxiety (I’m highly allergic to such medications), I find that the next best thing is to delve deep into myself, while remaining open to others. This way, I’m able to better understand my anxious and depressive triggers, as well as my personal strengths. It’s taken me twenty-three years to realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being introverted or quiet. Every single person on this earth is different and that’s okay! We all have different views and different journeys, but as long as I remain open to others while always trying to exude positivity, I know that I’ll be just fine. 🙂

Thank you so much for reading!! If you can relate at all, please give this post a “like”, leave a comment or find me on Twitter, Facebook or shoot me an email at roriraine@gmail.com ! I’d honestly love to hear from you guys!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! ❤

-A

Thirty Random Facts About Me!

Hello!! I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend so far!

I thought that since I’ve recently gotten a few more followers, I would do a bit of an introduction of myself in the form of a list of thirty random facts. So here we go! Let’s start with a couple of awkward selfies!

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  • I’m addicted to gummy bears, pizza, and coffee.
  • I have a 9 year old maltipoo (Maltese, toy poodle mix) named Lucy. As I’ve had her since she was just a puppy, she’s been with me through everything, and she’s my very best friend.

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  • I’m a very passionate vegetarian.
  • I’m the oldest of four girls, and though I love my sisters dearly, I always wished that I had an older brother as well.
  • My absolute favorite time of year is autumn, especially here in Michigan. It’s beyond breathtaking!
  • I’ve been struggling with social anxiety, panic attacks, and depression since high school.
  • I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when I was thirteen years old and didn’t start recovering until I was almost fifteen. At my worst, I weighed 63 lbs at 5’3”. It was a really scary time in my life.
  • Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve been watching it since day one and can’t get enough!
  • I’m obsessed with the 1950’s sitcom, I Love Lucy. When I was a little kid, I would watch that show every chance I got! I now own every season on DVD, and have watched every single episode at LEAST 6 times…I might need help. lol
  • I’m obsessed with candles and purses!
  • I love dabbling in DIY haircare and skincare.
  • When it got time for me to go to college, I couldn’t decide between English or Psychology so I jumped back and forth a couple of times. I’ve finally chosen to major in Psychology but still have yet to decide exactly what I want to do with it. Ugh!
  • My very first job was at a cute little flower shop where I was taught how to properly care for and arrange flowers. Unfortunately, this experience has yet to prove useful in my daily life as I cannot seem to keep any sort of plant alive. This makes me super sad as I love having plants and flowers all around my apartment!
  • I have both a horrendous sweet tooth and hypoglycemia, which don’t tend to mix very well.
  • I love learning to play new instruments! I’ve taught myself to play the saxophone, flute, trumpet, trombone, French horn, drums, and guitar.
  • I had braces on my teeth for exactly eight years of my life; the entirety of both middle school, and high school. I even had a palate-expander at one point, which was quite painful. 😦 I must say, the day I had all that metal extracted from my face was truly one of the happiest of my life!
  • I drive a black 2009 Volkswagen Beetle. It’s the first car I’ve bought on my own, and I love it!

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  • I’m a huge lover of music. I was classically trained in piano for 13 years, during which time I competed in, and actually won, quite a few competitions.
  • I listen to everything from folk music to jazz to rap and hip hop. I’m not a huge fan of country music, though, I must admit.
  • I love to cook, and I’ve come to be quite good at it (if I may say so myself!). 🙂
  • I really enjoy organizing, reorganizing, and decorating my home.
  • When I was younger, I dreamed of one day becoming a Forensic Anthropologist (like Temperance Brennan on the show Bones). It wasn’t until I reached high school and realized that in order to pursue such a profession, I would need to passionately delve into the world of advanced mathematics, which I was not prepared to do.
  • As sad and pathetic as this may be, there hasn’t been a single math class that I’ve taken during which I didn’t break out into tears at one point or another.
  • I love the water and have been blessed enough to grow up in a town situated right on a gorgeous lake.
  • Growing up, I went everywhere from public school, to charter school, to homeschooling, and back to public school. Homeschooling was my favorite because, not only could I move at my own pace, but I had a bit more free time to spend on music, freewriting, and sports (soccer, softball, swim team, and tennis). Woo!
  • I’m a night owl who’s obsessed with the moon.
  • I consider myself to be a bit of a late bloomer as I didn’t really learn to do my makeup, do my hair, or dress myself to actually look cute until after I graduated from high school. Now, I can’t get enough of hair and makeup tips, and I love fashion!
  • I’m not the best at painting my nails, but I have a huge collection of polishes and gels. My favorite brand right now is Essie, as they have amazing colors and the polish lasts quite a while without chipping! 🙂
  • My favorite flowers are peonies and sunflowers!
  • My current celebrity crush, besides Ryan Gosling, of course (he’s always a given), is Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington (who plays the seductively sulky John Snow).

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So there we have it! I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a bit better 🙂 I’d love to hear from you guys and get to know you better as well! If you have any questions, or can relate to me at all, please leave me a comment! You can also follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RoriRaine or give me a like on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/RoriRaine

I look forward to hearing from you guys! Enjoy the rest of your weekend 🙂

-A

The Paroxysm

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I was asleep, enveloped in a placatory warmth, completely oblivious to the world beyond my own tranquilizing dreamland. It seemed as though not a single worry could penetrate my cozy complacency.

Then, a scream, or a…a crash? Was it human? Thoroughly disoriented and horrified, I found myself jumping out of bed, without much thought. I ran, following my boyfriend who had obviously heard the same shrill noise that I had, out to the living room. The dark apartment seemingly spinning, rushing around me.

We found our cat, Louis, angrily glaring out the glass door, vehemently hissing and meowing at a stray cat who stood, tauntingly, on our patio. Relieved that he was okay, I giggled, but the excitement proved too much for my nerves.

I felt the blood leave my face and I bent over, desperately grasping my hands to my knees. “My sugar”, I exhaled.

Blackness. I was back in bed, but why am I so cold? I could see Dexter, the serial killer from that television show, above me. Am I to be his next victim? I felt the world drop from beneath me, dread encased my very soul and I was forlorn. My thoughts were flying through my mind at such a speed that I could not fully comprehend anything.

Then, another scream. This time it was much louder, it hurt my ears it was so loud. It wouldn’t stop.

I can’t breathe! I think I’m dying. Am I having a panic attack?

I opened my eyes to realize that I was the one screaming. I was on the ground, still in the living room, with my back arched. I couldn’t stop screaming, it was uncontrollable. Why am I kicking my legs? My boyfriend tried to console me, I pushed him away in utter terror. I can’t breathe! I’m dying! The feeling was one hundred times worse than my normal bouts of panic, all compressed into what seemed like only a few seconds.

Finally, it all stopped. I’m so tired. I think I might be sick.

My ears were ringing but I could hear the bedroom fan down the hall, it was drowning out a muffled voice.

“You’re okay, calm down, you’re going to be okay.” It was my boyfriend, his face flushed with tears and worry.

After a moment or so, I was able to come to the conclusion that I had just passed out. As I am hypoglycemic, this isn’t a very rare occurrence. But why was I screaming? I studied the hallway around me, it didn’t look familiar at first.

I gradually came to. “How long was I out?”, I eventually managed to ask.

“Just a couple of minutes”, was the slow, unsteady reply. “you were gasping for air, your eyes were rolled back and you were shaking.” He fell to the floor to hug me, he felt warm.

Depleted of any energy, I was weak, shaking from what I knew was low blood sugar. My boyfriend ran over to the kitchen to get me some jam and peanut butter to help correct my levels. Something about this isn’t right.

After a spoonful of the sweet, refreshing strawberry jam, I said, “I’m normally out for at least ten minutes, and I’ve never, ever woken up screaming.”

A spoonful of rich, tacky peanut butter was then brought to my lips, “and I’ve also never woken up flat as a board before. I normally wake up in a ball, as I just tend to collapse when I faint.” The more alert I became, the more frightened I was by what had just happened. Then, I felt it. Something wet between my legs. I looked down, “what the?!”  I was lying in a puddle; I had wet myself while I was out.

I used to pass out nearly every single morning when I was a kid due to low blood sugar, and I had never wet myself before. This isn’t right. “I think I just had my first seizure.”

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This just happened a couple of weeks ago, a few days before I left for my trip to North Carolina. It’s still so vivid in my mind that I felt the need to write about it. As I mentioned, I’ve been passing out from low blood sugar since I was a kid, but I had never had a seizure before. Probably the thing that I found most horrifying about it was the absolute panic, dread and hopelessness that seemed to paralyze me. I suffer panic attacks quite often too, unfortunately, and that’s really the only thing I could liken this experience to. However, a panic attack is usually an hour or so of I think I’m dying, while my seizure was that same amount of panic, but crammed into a few minutes. I hope that I never have to experience this again, and I can’t imagine what those who actually have epilepsy have to go through on a regular basis. One of my young cousins has been suffering from seizures for the past few years, for unknown reasons, and she has described feeling the same level of terror as I felt.

If anyone else suffers seizures, I’d love to hear about your experiences, if you wouldn’t mind sharing.

Thank you so much for reading!!

-A

Post Vacation Blues

Happy Wednesday!

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As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, last week my family and I went to Topsail Island in North Carolina for our yearly “bonding trip”. As my sisters and I grow older, we seem to be spreading farther apart with each passing year due to college, and well…life. Also, I live a couple of hours away from my mom and step dad and rarely get to see them, so it was super nice spending the entire week with all of them, especially in such a gorgeous place! This was our second year visiting the island, and I hope to have many more opportunities to stay there in the future. The landscape is beautiful, the weather is perfect, and the people are always friendly! Despite the fact that it takes us twenty hours to drive down there, it’s always worth it! Here are some pictures from our trip:

Driving through the Virginia’s was absolutely breathtaking, especially this time of year! The mountains were painted all the colors of Autumn!

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The view from my bedroom at the house in which we stayed

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Under the pier 🙂

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Last Wednesday, my mom drove my sisters and I over to Wilmington where we spent the day shopping. Here’s a shot from the River Walk there.

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Each day, we would walk along the beach searching for shark teeth and cool shells. I’ve found bits and pieces of sand dollars before, but never a whole one. This is my absolute favorite find!

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Me, my sister, and her boyfriend in shadow form 🙂

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Me 🙂

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The first day we spent there, they were having an Autumn Fest on the island where local vendors set up tents to sell their goods. I picked up some cupcake, cotton candy, and raspberry scented bath fizzies, as well as some amazing smelling “Rosewood and Vanilla” bath salts with actual rose petals. I’ve already used all the fizzies and they were lovely! I’m saving the salts for a pamper night 🙂

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Raspberry Button cookies and Sparkling Moscato on the first night to celebrate 🙂

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This is called a “horseshoe crab”. I had never seen one before; it was actually quite big!

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Sand dunes on the south side of the island

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THE best fudge I’ve ever tried! Chocolate Raspberry, Blueberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Oreo, and Cappuccino. Thankfully, when I run out, I can reorder online. Woo!

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Lastly, me enjoying the sun that rarely seems to visit Michigan.

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So yes, after a perfect week in such a lovely place, spent boogie boarding, reading, taking leisurely walks on the beach, and soaking up the sun (with plenty of sunscreen, of course), it was quite difficult to come back home to forty degree weather and daily rain storms. Honestly, I haven’t even finished unpacking my bag yet. However, though it was amazing to get away for a while, I do love living where I do, and it’s nice to be back home.

-A