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Image Expectations

Posted on Jul 31 by

With Fresh Faced Friday coming up on the 5th September, Bethwyn gets us thinking about image expectations, both the ones we place on ourselves, and ones people place upon us.

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You're one of a kind - that's a good thing. Image Credit: net_efekt @Flickr

During the end of Primary School, and all of High School, I convinced myself that I was ‘average-looking’. This may not sound too bad, but, for me, being ‘average’ was absolutely awful. It was a truly awful word that I hated, and yet I used it often to describe myself.

The thing was, I was surrounded by friends – both male and female (mostly female) that I considered more attractive than myself – and quite a few of them were smarter than me, as well. At the time, I felt like you were either beautiful/attractive, or you were smart. There were a few that had both, and a few that had neither. I felt like I was in limbo – not quite anything. It wasn’t pleasant, to say the least.
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Yep, you’re smokin today

Posted on Jul 31 by

Friday 5th Sept is Fresh Faced Friday where you are invited to ‘tear up’ talk about negative body image and help everyone realise it’s okay to love their bodies! In celebration of this, this blog is about a time I looked in the mirror and recognised myself as a beautiful person. I hope that by talking about it, more people come to recognise that it’s okay to feel good about who they are and the way they look, ’cause baby let me tell you: you look smokin’ today.

So a little while ago I had just finished a morning exercise class where I had gotten up at ungodly time of 5:15am to run and pull and jump and swing. I had worked really hard that morning, pushing myself until I was glistening with sweat, yet smiling in my heart for how healthy I felt. I got back to my girlfriend’s place and jumped in the (cold shower, and when I got out to dry myself, I was caught aback by my reflection. In all humility, I had never seen myself look so beautiful in all my life. I stood there for a long moment, amazed at how young and fit and healthy I was.
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Differing Signals: How to be who you are despite confusing messages

Posted on Jul 31 by

Image by Lex McKee @Flickr

I’m quite introverted. I have nothing against extroverts at all – I think it’s so great that they are able to go out and socialise so often, and to have personalities that are often described as ‘go-getters’ or ‘bright sparks’. That’s amazing. But it’s not me. I spend a lot of time either alone or just with a couple of people at a time, and I really enjoy times like that. Socialising takes energy from me, and so I spend a lot of time recovering by doing quiet things.
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Releasing Control

Posted on Jul 31 by

Image by NobMouse @flickr

There have been so many tragedies on the news lately, planes going missing, planes being shot down. Wars happening. World leaders acting less than ideally. And so many problems happening within Australia that people are beginning to question whether we are really the kind and calm people we were once painted to be.

And then within people’s own lives, there are so many worrisome things that happen. Losing loved ones, or having someone close to us get very sick – either suddenly, or gradually. Everyday stressors impact on us, too. The guy driving in front of you that cuts you off or doesn’t indicate before swerving in front of you, your boss giving you more work than you can possibly handle, your friend not returning your calls because they have a new partner and have disappeared into them. Your pet throwing up on your favourite rug, or tripping you over and making you smash your favourite mug.
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Be Kind to Yourself

Posted on Jul 30 by

“To be nobody-but-yourself
in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

ee cummings

 

We don't have to sell us, to conform to what other think we should be. Image Credit Liam Wilde @flickr

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought, “I look great; I am happy with myself”? I can say that personally, my inner dialogue fluctuates daily based mainly on my emotions (and not reality).

Our feelings are not always accurate, especially when based in guilt or comparing ourselves to someone else and/or unrealistic standards. I also find that an unhappiness with my body spreads to other areas, making me feel lesser in many facets of life.

Our generation is so stressed; information is coming at us from every direction with perfection always frustratingly just out of reach. We are expected to be advanced in many ways because we have so much that past generations did not (read: the World Wide Web, Facebook, Reddit, etc.). While the expanded worldview we gain from this is invaluable, it also leads to a consuming competition between who looks the best on social media, or does more interesting things on Facebook. We forget that posts and snapshots are momentary, often posed, glimpses not into another’s life, but into a limited view of how they choose to represent their reality. Camera angles and filters can make someone look thin/happy/fulfilled, but let’s not forget the bigger picture.

Body image‘ is one of those catchphrases that makes many young adults roll their eyes because it’s a complex issue that often gets glossed over. However, I think that the image we internalize and tell ourselves ABOUT ourselves is so vitally important. Bigger than your body, what do you think about you as a human being? The bigger picture here is self respect.
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Why do you wear makeup?

Posted on Jul 29 by

Image Credit: MyLifeThroughPhotography @flickr

Have you every wondered about the reason why you wear makeup? Was it your idea? Or did a well-meaning parent or sibling take you aside one day and press a bottle of foundation into your hands?

The reason I’m asking this is because our society conditions girls to think that they need to wear makeup in order to be pretty or attractive. I think that there is something really wrong with that.

The first time I wore makeup was when I was 17 and in year 11 at high school. For years all the girls around me had gradually started wearing makeup until I was one of a rare few that hadn’t yet. I felt happy with my decision, knowing within me that I didn’t need to put a kind of paint on my face in order to be attractive. I valued my brains and abilities over my appearance and hadn’t even thought about makeup.

But all that changed one day when my Mum arrived home with a present for me: a bottle of foundation, mascara and an eyeliner pen. I was confused and hurt when she told me that I should start wearing makeup. She told me that “it would make me feel better” and that I would need to wear makeup when I finished school so I might as well start now.
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What I would say to High-School-Me

Posted on Jul 24 by

Inspired by the blog DearHolly, our blogger Beth writes to her High-School-Me


Image by Mikey G Ottawa Flickr

I don’t really like the idea of regrets – so I feel like either you do something or you don’t. Having said that, though, I think there are quite a few people who would like to go back and talk to themselves in High School and tell them to do (or not do) certain things.

This, I think, is why some people can feel a little stifled by their parents – your parents just want to stop you from making the same mistakes they did, but it doesn’t work that way. Everyone needs to make mistakes so that they can learn from them. I mean, I’ve never met a successful person that hasn’t made a few mistakes, have you?

If I were able to go back and advise my past self about one thing to do with High School, it would be this: romance and love are amazing and wonderful, but don’t make it the absolute main factor of your life. Now that may sound a little strange, maybe a little jaded. I’m not saying love isn’t worth it – because it truly is. And I met my fiancé in my final year of High School. I am truly grateful to have him in my life.
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Are you acting listening or actively listening?

Posted on Jul 22 by

Imge by Adriana Lukas Via Flickr

There are always going to be people who offer you advice, regardless of whether you asked for it. We do it to others, they do it to us. We want to relate, to interact with one another, and so the more logical choice when someone is telling another of their issues is to immediately search our memories for when something even vaguely similar happened to us – so we can then offer advice.

There is something kind behind this desire to connect, of course. It is usually just a simple desire to help, even if we aren’t entirely sure how to. We want to make people feel like they’re not alone with whatever they’re going through, and that’s wonderful. But we seem to have developed this inability to be present with ‘not-knowing’ – we always feel like we have to have an answer, like we always have to help somehow.

I’m just going to say right now: there is no shame in not knowing something. Sometimes we really want to help someone else when they’re going through something tough, but we don’t know how. That’s okay. Don’t be afraid to sit with it and acknowledge these feelings, or even stating them to the person you want to help. Sometimes they will react badly to this – there are multiple reasons why they might do this – maybe they are frustrated with their situation, and you saying you don’t know how to help kind of makes it feel a bit harder, or maybe they were expecting you to fix everything. Either way, as long as you are genuinely trying to help, then it’s okay to sit with that – you don’t have to have the ‘how’ in place straight away.
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DearHolly If I could talk to my 13 year old self…

Posted on Jul 11 by

We are very pleased to have a guest blog post by Jessica Barlow of the DearHolly Project

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How many times have you wished that you could hit rewind and try everything all over again? If you’re anything like me, I’m willing to bet that the number in your head is spiraling into the hundreds.

I’m writing for you today because I want to let you know about a mail art project I’ve started online. It’s called DearHolly and I’m asking people of all ages to write a postcard addressed to either ‘Holly’ for girls or ‘Olly’ for boys, detailing advice, stories, regrets or successes relevant to life as a teenager.

Every week I publish all the postcards that arrive online so we can all check them out. So far there have been postcards from as far away as Asia and from people as young as 11.

The idea is that instead of having to live through your teenage years before you can look back on them and wish you had done differently, or listened to ‘that advice’ etc, you can now look back on and learn from the teenage years of other people. Best of all, these people come from all walks of life, countries, ages and eras, so you most likely would never have had the opportunity to hear from them otherwise.

By sharing our own experiences with DearHolly we can help other teenagers and young people around the world to navigate teen life, as it’s happening. And let’s face it, there is a LOT of drama, challenges and identity issues that happen from 13-19!

I’m 22 now but I sure wish something like DearHolly had existed when I was a teenager. I baulked at the idea of asking my parents for advice (are you kidding me? As if they have a clue what life is like for me!) So I mostly bottled up my problems and questions and hoped for the best.

With DearHolly, I’m hoping to change that scenario for other young people who, like me, didn’t/don’t feel comfortable asking their parents or families for advice. The beauty is that you never know what topic of advice is going to come through or if there will be a funny story to make you laugh. It is completely random and representative of not just our generation, but also those who have come before us.

So what are you waiting for? Do you have a goal for your teenage years? Do you have a regret to share that might help others avoid having the same regret? Do you have a funny story about your time as a teenager? Have you received some awesome advice that simply must be shared?

To submit to DearHolly you need to:

1. Grab a postcard or envelope

2. Write, draw, include a photograph etc

3. Sign your first name, age and gender OR remain anonymous

4. Post to: DearHolly, Knox City Centre Post Office,
 PO Box 4180,
 Knox City Centre,
VICTORIA, Australia, 3152 OR email a picture of your postcard to: dearhollyproject@gmail.com

To check out the past 3 weeks worth of submissions visit the website here DearHolly.
You can also Tweet to DearHolly at @dearhollymail or visit me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dearhollyproject

I’d love to hear from you – don’t be shy!


A Guide to Not Complaining

Posted on Jun 23 by

"hi, how are you" by sheeshoo

I would like to start by remarking on an observation I have made. Previously when people have asked me the generic opening line “Hi, how are you?”, I made it my goal to give them an honest and unique answer rather than the generic “I’m good thanks”. I would pick some part of how I was feeling and comment on it: “A bit tired”, I would say, or “I’ve been better”, or “Not bad considering I’m at work on a Sunday”. But I’ve recently discovered that these lines, innocent and honest as they may be, are layered with a subtle negativity. I have found that when you talk about things that are going wrong, the people you are talking with will respond in one of two ways:

They might start to withdraw from you and avoid getting into a discussion of an unpleasant topic by brushing you off with something like a “Oh, right. That’s too bad”.

Alternatively, they might start to feed into your negativity with a well-meaning response such as “Oh, I’m so sorry. What sort of sickness do you have?” While this might initially seem like kindness, it is feeding into the cycle of I believe I feel bad – this person believes I feel bad – I continue to feel bad. When you see that person again, they are likely to open with “Are you feeling any better today?” And you might think to yourself, “I don’t know, am I? Maybe I am still a little under the weather.”
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Helping those with mental wellness issues

Posted on Jun 16 by

Today we have a international youth guest blogger who is currently working in Australia, sharing her experience of the support group SARDAA.

"Worries" by Ronny-André Bendiksen from Flickr

As a volunteer for several mental health organizations, I have observed many approaches to helping those with mental wellness issues. Although these organizations have the best intentions, the many options can be overwhelming. I have thought about how amazing it would be to integrate groups with the same goals in mind to create a coherent starting block for people looking for help.

I am here to let you know about one Texas, USA-based organization that has many resources in one place, and trains and supports Schizophrenics Anonymous (SA) groups across the country and world. Schizophrenia is not an easy disease to converse about, let alone to unite and support those who struggle with the illness.
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