What Even Is A Realistic To-Do List? | AKA Making Reasonable Plans For Spring Break

History has shown that planning each and every minute detail of my life is not generally a great idea. Guess what I’m doing right now? Planning out each and every detail of spring break. SOMEONE SEND HELP PLS I NEED IT.

I think I’ve been watching too many bullet journal tutorial videos during my study breaks. I don’t currently have a bullet journal and I don’t plan to keep one, because it seems like way too much effort to maintain – at this point in my life, anyway. But I love the idea. And the tutorials are actually rather soothing to watch because the people who make them seem so knowledgeable and reassuring as they flip through several hundred color-coded, precisely organized, carefully written pages. Pages filled with SO MUCH STUFF TO DO.

And it makes me want to do all the things. All it does is encourage me and my bad habit of overplanning. I actually brought up this topic in my group therapy meeting this week. Not the bullet journaling – the overplanning.

I talked about this in a #LoveMe post last month, but since this subject has been on my mind so much lately I thought I’d talk about it once again. Last Friday night I drew up a plan that would guarantee me about twelve hours of study time on Saturday. I made it about eight or nine hours into the plan before calling it quits because I was just so exhausted.

I know it’s the depression. I know that many neurotypical people would find it difficult to focus for such a long period of time. I knew I should have taken breaks.

Yep, you read that right. I didn’t build in any time for breaks because… to tell the truth, I felt that I didn’t deserve any. And then I sit there and wonder why I feel so burnt out.

I run out of energy easily due to depression. I fall behind schedule – my elaborate schedule – because things always take longer than expected. Sometimes that’s because of depression. Sometimes that’s just because there are more components to a particular school project (or whatever) than I had originally foreseen.

And I am not good at accepting that. I’m trying to get better, though. It’s hard because… well, this is where my OCD comes into play, because I’ve learned over all these years that sometimes if I can get my brain into the right state of productivity, I can push my OCD thoughts to the background. It’s as if they’re no longer there. Of course, I haven’t actually fixed the problem, but have merely pushed it aside for the time being. Still, in the moment it feels nice. Amazing, even.

When that happens, it’s really hard for me to relax. In group therapy I was basically like, “Well, I feel pretty much dead because of midterms week but I really really want to get ahead on my coursework and I guess I’m just worried because I need time to just BE, to just DO NOTHING and relax but I also want to do everything in the world even though I know I don’t have the energy for that and will just end up feeling sad and useless when I can’t do everything. What do I do?”

And so we talked about it. I’m not going to go into detail mostly because that would make this post enormously long, but we had a really great discussion of what role perfectionism plays in all three of my mental illness and how others in the group struggle with feeling inadequate for not accomplishing their own at times far-fetched plans and goals.

I’m going to try to be mindful of that as I make list upon list upon list of things I want to do over spring break. For instance, I’d like to do a lot of studying, and my instinct is to cram all of it into one or at most two days. Realistically, though, I know I would only end up frustrated if I did that because I will inevitably fall behind. Things take longer than expected! And I need to learn that, to get that in my head!

If I plan on spending three or four days studying I can work at a more relaxed pace and hopefully avoid the feeling of panic that arrives at about midday when I realize that I’m running at least three tasks behind where I wanted to be on my to-do list by this point in the day. Ditto for all my plans related to reading/writing/blogging/spending time with family.

So, yeah. Planning. I LOVE PLANNING BUT I DON’T LOVE ACTUALLY CARRYING OUT ALL THOSE PLANS BECAUSE I ALWAYS PLAN TO DO TOO MUCH.

P.S. Literally moments after I published this, I found myself reading this article on what it’s like being the girl who has a plan for everything on Her Campus UW Stout. See? I have a problem. #planningenvy #havingmylifetogetherenvy #havingalifeenvy

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First Reactions To The “Doctor Who” Series Ten TV Trailer

With series ten of Doctor Who a little more than a month away, I thought it was high time that I wrote up a reaction post for one of the recent trailers! The first episode of the next series is set to air on April fifteenth and, despite all my issues with and misgivings about the show, I can’t help getting excited all over again because it’s been more than a year since we had any significant number of episodes. (The Christmas special was definitely A THING, but it was only one thing, not an entire series, and I personally found it rather disappointing and un-festive. But that’s just me.)

Enjoy!

P.S. You can find my earlier film trailer reaction posts here.

Warning: Spoilers ahead! Read/watch at your own risk!

0:04 – Hi Bill, I’m gay. Your face is pretty. Hi.

0:05 – I’M NEVER GOING TO BE OVER BRITISH PEOPLE CALLING FRIES “CHIPS” IT MAKES ME LAUGH EVERY TIME.

0:06 – I don’t even know why but I am always 100% for the Doctor being a teacher and doing teacher-y things I LOVE IT.

0:08 – SHE’S SO PRETTY HERE AHHH HELP ME I NEED HELP I’M GAY.

0:14 – #timeywimeyspacekitchen

0:17 – Is that a futuristic version of Nebraska? Indiana? Some other godforsaken corn-filled place in the middle of nowhere, USA?

0:19 – No, Bill, you may NOT use the space toilet.

0:21 – It would seem that I am gay for girls in all sorts of historical costumes.

0:22 – Oh my god I had the volume turned down and for a second I thought she just swore on a children’s show lol.

0:25 – Me during midterms TBH.

0:27 – OH LOOK IT’S MEEEEEEE.

0:29 – I am… not a huge fan of Dalek episodes, on the whole, because there have been so many that I’ve gotten bored, but it is always fun to watch one if it features a new companion. So. There’s that.

0:30 – Also, what happened to the sonic sunglasses? I miss the sonic sunglasses.

0:36 – I am… not enthused about Nardole apparently being a companion in this series in addition to Bill because I find him boring and he mutters so much that, with his accent, I can hardly understand anything he’s saying. But we shall see. Maybe this season will make me like him more?

0:38 – WHEEEEERE ARE THEY I WANNA KNOW.

0:40 – THERE THEY ARE. MY FAVORITE GLASSES.

0:42 – YES! GOOD!

-~-

That seemed like a ridiculously short trailer, especially considering how the trailer released about a month before series nine debuted was almost forty seconds longer. But still… I’m excited! Bill reminds me of Rose in some ways, or at least her introduction does. I wasn’t a huge fan of companions such as Amy, Rory, Clara, et cetera in part because they were written to be Extra-Special and not down-to-earth characters that ordinary people could relate to.

So, yeah. I’m looking forward to seeing how someone like Bill, who works at a mundane job and looks like she’s probably in her twenties because it seems like she could be me and I could be her. AHHH AND SHE’S CUTE. And diversity! Yay! DIVERSE SCIENCE FICTION! ON A LONG-RUNNING CHILDREN’S SHOW!

I’m sad that Peter Capaldi will be leaving the show after this series, but I’m oh so excited for Bill. Also, after series ten we’ll have a new showrunner (!!!) because Steven Moffat is leaving (!!!!!!).

I’m not sure yet if I want to do collaborative reviews of this show as I have in the past… due to college, I’m always extremely tired, busy, and stressed. I never got around to co-writing and posting reviews of the last few episodes of series nine and I didn’t do that for the recent Christmas special, either. It just seems like a lot to orchestrate and organize, although I still think it would be fun to do. Stay tuned, I guess, for updates?

-~-

What’s your opinion of this trailer for Doctor Who series ten?

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The Luck Of The Irish Writing Program

Hey, everyone. I have BIG NEWS for you: I’ve been selected to study abroad this summer! I spent the past several weeks working on an application for my school’s Irish Writing Program, which is hosted each year in Dublin, and sent it off not too long ago. Well, I heard back already… I couldn’t believe I got my acceptance email so fast!

I actually can’t believe I was even accepted at all. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I applied to the same program last year and was turned down only to be offered a place a few days later since there turned out to be room for more students after all. Ultimately, however, I turned down that opportunity because I felt I wouldn’t be ready for it. Since most of the IWP students are upperclassmen, I thought my writing wouldn’t be up to par, that it would be below the expectations of the professors there.

I’m all for a good challenge, but I wasn’t ready for that challenge last summer. I think so, anyway. I guess we’ll never know for sure, will we? I was operating according to a gut instinct that told me I would be overwhelmed, not merely challenged, there.

All this means that I was SUPER anxious as soon as I sent off my application to the program last month. What if I didn’t get in?! I would feel so, so bad about having wasted the opportunity I was given to attend in 2016. I mean, yes, I could have always applied to study abroad during the summer between my junior and senior year, but I really want to get an internship or two that summer instead.

Soooooo what I am trying to say is that I feel very grateful and relieved right now! I’m so happy that I was chosen – ecstatic, even. I’ve been filling out forms and checking out the syllabi and thinking about what to pack. I suspect it’ll be difficult to fully concentrate on the rest of this semester because I’m so excited about going to Ireland!

Without a doubt, you can expect to see plenty of posts about my study abroad experience!

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Dear (IRL) Friends: Sorry For Being So Absent Lately

Several weeks ago, one of my friends and I had a conversation about an LGBTQ+ sorority she belongs to and I made a comment about wanting to join – despite knowing deep down that I probably never would. Not because I was lying about being interested in this group, but because I simply don’t have the time, energy, and motivation to follow through on all the things I want to do.

That conversation, as well as half a dozen others, led me to write this post. Actually, it first led me to post a status update on Facebook late last night:

Hey, everyone. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and totally drained lately and as a result my attendance at things like club meetings, events that you invite me to, et cetera. I haven’t been that great of a friend and I’m really sorry about that. When I do have energy, 99% of it goes toward homework and studying. Unfortunately, I’ve had to really cut back what I am involved in.

At the moment I’m trying really hard to sort out icky mental health stuff and get the semester back under control, so you can expect to see me out and about and participating in more things soon. (Well, probably. HOPEFULLY).

Again, I’m sorry about all of this: It’s not because I don’t care. I care so much and I feel so bad for missing so many meetings, skipping plays that you’re performing in, and so on and so forth. I would have been there if I could and I’ll try to do a better job of being there from now on. Thank you for your patience and understanding! Please like this post if you read to the end of it so I know that you saw this and understand what’s been going on.

I’ve worked hard these past few days to get caught up on schoolwork. I can usually manage to drag myself out of bed and get to class on time but on days when I don’t have classes motivating (threatening?) me to actually get up, I just… don’t. I lie there for hours instead.

Well, I’ve been trying to do something about that. I’ve repeated this process over and over again, so I know this won’t be the last time I do it, either. Multiple times a semester, I have to get my life back under control because it seems to spin out of control so easily. So what makes this time any different? I thought I would give my friends, classmates, and acquaintances an update so they understood, as I wrote in my note, “what’s been going on.”

Because I’m self-conscious about this whole business of missing so many commitments and obligations. I don’t want people to think that I hate them or have been going out of my way to avoid them. I don’t want people such as my friend in the LGBTQ+ sorority to think that, when I express interest in what they’re involved with, that I am lying through my teeth and couldn’t care less. Because I DO. I’ve just had to prioritize things such as sleeping and eating and taking my medication and then tackle college and then do extracurriculars.

This entire semester has just been SO MUCH to deal with. To be honest, ever since the election I’ve had major problems motivating myself and keeping up a happy outlook on life… and I know I’m not alone in that. I don’t want people to think I’ve gone AWOL and wonder if we were ever really friends, that’s all.

Here’s to getting better at explaining mental health shit to friends in 2017.

P.S. If you’d like to read a much more eloquent post on about a similar experience with mental illness, friendship, missed get-togethers, and the desire to get better, I recommend that you check out Please Keep Inviting Me To Brunch by the amazing Sam Dylan Finch of Let’s Queer Things Up!

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How Am I?

how-am-iI recently applied for a bunch of scholarships, including some which are awarded each year by the Honors at Iowa program of which I am a part of. This program is BIG on weird, creative projects so I really wasn’t at all surprised when I saw the essay question for this year’s scholarships: “How are you?” 

The application goes on to say, “It is a deceptively simple question which offers you the opportunity to pause and reflect on your life.” So I did. I had a lot of fun writing this and, because it was such an unusual essay question, thought it would be good to share with you. TBH I’m a little more optimistic in this essay than I am in real life, but that’s mostly at the suggestion of my writing tutor – he said I’d probably be more likely to get the scholarship that way! And I think writing this did actually make me feel a bit better… anyway, I’m rambling now. Enjoy!

How am I? Honestly, I feel overwhelmed and worried about the state of the world. Given the current political climate, it would not surprise me to hear that many other students studying the fine arts and humanities are also concerned. The new administration has proposed cutting the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which makes it even more necessary for artists and other creative types to defend the importance of culture.

At first I didn’t see the point in pursuing my goal of double-majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism if these things weren’t valued anymore, but over the past few months I have realized the skills and ideas I am learning about in college are actually more important now than ever.

Rather than being defeatist, I am excited about the possibilities of the next few years because I’ve decided to view this moment as a way to really make a difference. In the next four years, the arts will be essential.

In writing workshops, I’ve practiced my skills as a storyteller. I can now use what I’ve learned to, for instance, give a voice to people who wouldn’t otherwise be heard. This is something I believed was important prior to this November, but after the divisive rhetoric we saw and continue to see after the election, it seems more urgent than before.

Additionally, I hope to continue building the skills that will allow me to educate others about different cultures and marginalized groups of people through fiction as well as journalism. Maybe that will help us to feel more united and heal.

I would also argue that there is something to be said for creating and consuming art for art’s sake, separate from any specific aims such as advocacy and education. Art enriches the human experience and livens up our daily routine. I believe that our sharply divided, troubled country needs to find and create beauty in order to heal and be whole again.

My ambitions of becoming a journalist have also been renewed as of late, as I observe everything going on in the world around me. Without journalism, without freedom of the press, there can truly be no democracy: The concept of the Fourth Estate is clear about this.

Although I am a student now, I will graduate soon enough and enter the workforce during the last few years of the current administration’s time in office – and I can make an impact now, too, as a student journalist. Journalism is necessary in these times in order to make sure that we have an informed populace and are able to have a dialogue with each other. Additionally, the work journalists do allows both citizens and legislators to know what each other’s interests and goals are.

How am I? I was worried about the state of our country, about how divided and full of vitriol it seems to be. And I still am. I’m getting better, though. As clichéd as this may sound, I know I can’t stand by and do nothing. I’ve always enjoyed writing and now I can put this skill to greater use than ever before.

So I am hopeful about what I can accomplish through my writing both during and after my college years. Without writing, and without the arts in general, I believe it will be difficult for people both in this country and across the world to express ourselves – and, consequently, to bridge the differences between us – with understanding and tact.

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The #LoveMe Challenge | Day 28 | What I Have Learned From Doing #LoveMe These Past 28 Days

header-image-for-lovemeThis February, I’m doing #LoveMe, a challenge designed to help you learn to love yourself! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder and more gentle to myself, so I’m trying to be as positive as I can possibly be in 2017 and hope that doing this challenge will be good for my mental health and overall well-being. Check out my previous #LoveMe posts here!

Today’s prompt is:

What have you learned from doing #LoveMe these past twenty-eight days?

I can’t believe it’s already the last day of #LoveMe! I’ve had so much fun writing these posts and sharing them with you. I definitely think I have a much better sense of who I am as a person from having to think seriously and intently about how to answer all twenty-eight prompts. I’d just never really spent much time thinking about some of these subjects before, and probably would have never thought to think about those subjects either. (Did that make sense?)

I’m so glad I did #LoveMe.

Here’s what I’ve learned these past twenty-eight days:

Day 1

Why I’m Doing #LoveMe

Loving myself is hard and sometimes seems impossible.

Day 2

A Photo Of Me

There aren’t many photographs of myself that I like, but there are a few that make me happy to see and transport me right back to the time in my life when they were taken. As I said about the photo I chose – a senior year portrait – looking at it made me remember “feeling proud of myself for graduating, and excited yet anxious about heading off to college just a few months later.”

Day 3

A Word That Describes Me

I am A DREAMER. I have always been a dreamer. I have my head lost in the clouds, constantly. I think about my own stories, or someone else’s stories, and so sometimes I don’t pay attention to what is happening all around me in the here and now because I’m so concerned with the hypothetical and the imaginary.

Day 4

A Person Who Loves Me

New self-love goal: Love myself like I did when I was little.

Day 5

A Note To The Past Me

I wish I could go back in time and reassure the past me that I didn’t have to worry nearly so much! I mean, I don’t know how much it would help since I’m still an anxious mess these days, but sometimes just hearing reassuring words helps me to get through those difficult worry-filled days.

Day 6

A Note To The Future Me

I can’t wait to see who (and what) I become someday!

Day 7

One Thing That’s Just For Me

I need alone time. I NEED it! Without it I feel drained and can’t function. It’s a hugely important part of my life as an introvert and something I look forward to enjoying in small increments all throughout my days.

Day 8

A Scar

Scars tell stories. Tell me yours!

Day 9

Something Beautiful

I find beauty in many stories – and particularly in fantasy and science fiction – but Lord of the Rings is one source that I keep returning to, over and over. Whatever mood I’m in, it reminds me that humans are capable of creating incredibly beautiful stories… which then gives me a reason to continue writing my own stories!

Day 10

A Secret

It’s been hard to open up about my struggles to function, especially since as an honors student it often feels as though everyone else’s days are always effortless and successful. But I also believe it’s important to be open and honest about mental health, so I keep trying.

Day 11

A Smile

I don’t smile very often because it feels fake, forced, and awkward. So when I do, it really means a lot.

Day 12

A Flaw

“The way I see it, if I can’t wildly succeed at each and every thing I do, I may as well not do anything,” I wrote on day twelve. I have a HUGE problem when it comes to making realistic plans because I want to do everything under the sun and usually (…always) forget to take into account things such as poor mental health, a busy college schedule, et cetera.

Day 13

A Quote

This was my favorite post to write all month! “Stay afraid, but do it anyway.” I adore that Carrie Fisher quote and blogging about it just reminded me to repeat it to myself every so often. It really does help when I’m feeling “stuck” in my fear!

Day 14

A Fear I Overcame

Getting better can be terrifying when you’re so familiar with mental illness that it’s hard to picture yourself living your life any other way.

Day 15

Something I Have Done Right

On bad days, I feel like I shouldn’t even be in college. Lately, however, I’ve been feeling inspired by this post and have been trying to remind myself that there IS proof that I’m succeeding here: My grades were good enough to allow me to make the Dean’s list multiple times!

Day 16

Something I Like About Myself

While I’m on the subject of bad days: When I feel down about my writing, I remind myself that at least ideas come easily to me! I can figure out things such as working up motivation or finding enough time to write later.

Day 17

Something That Feeds My Soul

Iowa City satisfies my soul. I’m so grateful to be here. Some days when I’m waking up or falling asleep I think of how amazing it is that I wasn’t even aware of half of the things I now adore about this town, which then makes me feel infinitely happy that I chose to attend school here.

Day 18

Something That Feeds My Brain

Double-majoring in English & creative writing and journalism was one of the best decisions I ever made! I love seeing how my writing skills and interests grow and change over time.

Day 19

Something I Feel Strongly About

LGBTQ+ rights are important to me on both an immensely personal level and a much larger global level.

Day 20

Something I Love To Wear

I LOVE STRIPES, OK? I don’t care if they make me look short. Or fat. I’m not nearly as confident about some of my other clothing choices, but I do have some clothes that just feel so “me” and I love it.

Day 21

Something I Am Proud Of

I love being a writer who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community! Writing is an integral part of activism and I’m happy to contribute in any way I can.

Day 22

What Makes Me Unique

I’m the only me who has ever existed.

Day 23

My Best Feature 

My eyes allow me to do everything I love and care about.

Day 24

What Makes Me Laugh

Spending time with my friends makes me so happy that I actually made it part of my New Year’s resolutions for 2017! And so far it’s going pretty well. I’m getting much better at knowing when I need to take a break and seek out other people to talk to.

Day 25

What Makes Me Happy

I’m just a very punny person.

Day 26

What Makes Me Feel Beautiful

Self care is not only essential; it is beautiful. AND I DON’T CARE HOW CHEESY THAT SOUNDS. It’s what I’ll keep reminding myself on my worst days.

Day 27

What I Have Accepted About Myself

All I have to do is my best: I don’t have to do my perfect, because aiming for my perfect only leaves me feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and disappointed.

Day 28

What I Have Learned From Doing #LoveMe These Past 28 Days

Although it’s still hard, I now know that there are many reasons to LOVE ME.

-~-

Why do you love yourself?

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The #LoveMe Challenge | Day 27 | What I Have Accepted About Myself

header-image-for-lovemeThis February, I’m doing #LoveMe, a challenge designed to help you learn to love yourself! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder and more gentle to myself, so I’m trying to be as positive as I can possibly be in 2017 and hope that doing this challenge will be good for my mental health and overall well-being. Check out my previous #LoveMe posts here!

Today’s prompt is:

What have you accepted about yourself?

I guess that what I’ve accepted about myself is that I’m trying my best. As I’ve mentioned in previous #LoveMe posts and in, well, plenty of other past posts on this blog, I love making lists and plans and goals.

And sometimes I don’t actually achieve everything I set out to do. Sometimes I don’t even come close.

There are days/weeks/months when it seems as though, despite all my good intentions, I can’t seem to do anything right. I study for hours and am still behind. I get enough sleep and am still exhausted every morning. I set up a weekly tutoring appointment at the writing center to get ahead on school projects yet still struggle to produce any workable pieces of writing during that hour on Wednesday afternoons. Et cetera.

But I’m trying. And that’s what matters, right? In my most recent group therapy session one of the things we talked about was how it often seems as though everyone else has their life together when in reality… they probably DON’T. In actuality they’re just as worried as you, me, and the rest of us – trying their best and then berating themselves when they feel that their best still isn’t good enough. Isn’t as good as everyone else’s supposedly is.

Trying and failing is still better than nothing. I need to remember this on my most depressed days, instead of contemplating giving up because I can’t seem to do “enough.” It’s hard to have depression and be a perfectionist at the same time! But I can’t let myself forget that what really matters is doing my best, even if it’s not everyone else’s best or my perfect.

What have YOU accepted about yourself?

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