Have you ever looked around you at your "friends", family members or celebrities and felt like you were being left behind? As if they were all achieving so many goals that you start to wonder: "Hey, when is it going to be my turn? Or better yet, will this ever happen to me too?"
I suffered through this complex for a better part of my junior and senior year of high school when I realized a lot of my friends got into Ivy League schools all the way in the US, or that they were taking a gap year to work. It seemed as if everyone was finally going to experience their college dreams abroad while I was in Tanzania, with barely having anything figured out.
I had fear and anxiety growing inside me every day because of this. Maybe it was because I was so used to having things planned out for me instead.
I had, and if I am being honest, still have these overwhelming thoughts that I’m probably going to just be another extra or another background character to all of my friends' stories. All of this stemmed just from seeing a few of my friends already looking successful. Some had become small but growing influencers on social media, another had started a YouTube channel, and the girl I sat next to in class had started an online business that is taking off. As proud as I am of them, I just couldn’t help but feed the hungry thought that maybe I'd never be as impressive as they were.
Like where was my shining moment? When will it happen to me? This ate me up to the point where even posting something on Instagram became hard for me and I always hit the discard button. That annoying and degrading voice in my head would taunt me and remind me of how anything I do would ever be good enough. There were so many people out there with better content than me, so why even try?
Fast forward to a few months later, I finally understood that I had a comparison complex. I constantly used to compare every single detail about my social life with people I idolized even my closest friends. I understand they would never rub it in my face to taunt me but the insecurity that I was being left behind became an obsession.
So what I did was that I decided to spend less time on the apps that I believed just added salt to the wound such as Instagram. I went from spending half my day on there to just mainly opening it at night. With Snapchat, I stopped doing streaks which ultimately led to me rarely opening it to check out peoples' stories. This small action helped immensely in building my self confidence.
If I wasn’t seeing the things that triggered me negatively, like a classmate posting their new college jersey, I wouldn't compare myself to them as much. I also reduced talking to some of the friends that brought out these insecurities in me. Not out of hate or envy, but I needed to focus more myself. To build the person I wanted to turn into rather than compare my current state to the picture of my best friend in Australia.
Just to be clear, I celebrate my friends' accomplishments but putting distance between them and me was my way of learning how to celebrate myself instead.
Now I know that a comparison complex can be triggered by other things, which might not necessarily be the need to be successful like mine was; but here’s a few tips I hope will help you through this phase the same way they helped me:
Now I want to end with this quote; “ You’re so busy doubting yourself, while others are intimidated by your potential”. This quote reminded me daily that the way I was thinking about how all my classmates were moving forward was the same way that some of them might view me. Someone could be looking up to you and you wouldn’t even know it! I hope this helped you. I want you to know that It will get better. It will take time but it will. Try channelling that obsession with comparing yourself with others to comparing yourself with who you were yesterday and who you want to be tomorrow.
Fighting could be over anything; a meet up gone wrong to losing something valuable. Sometimes it could be about feeling neglected by the other, or feeling misunderstood. Whatever the reason, fights happen. As toxic as it may sound, disagreements are inevitable. It's because we all constantly grow mentally and sometimes you don't always have to agree with what the other person does because it doesn't align with who you are anymore.
Fights tend to end up with someone leaving with their feelings hurt, regretful of what they may or may not have said, and sometimes and as much as we dont want to admit it; fights might bring an end to a friendship you thought would last forever...that's what hurts the most.
A fight recently happened between me and a close friend of mine. We had a fight about something I had said, which to be honest it was an insensitive comment on religion, I later realized and the aftermath of that comment resulted in her cutting me off, completely, and I felt terrible. Especially when it wouldn’t matter what i’d try to say to her, she just wouldn't respond to me, and some of the things she said made me feel like complete rubbish, this went on for days.
Overthinking about how I should have directed the conversation so it wouldn’t turn out the way it did, to regret over what i said, then eventually the anger set in; she could cut me off that easily? Like our friendship was really that disposable to her?
It wasn't until days later when I asked her about it that I found out it wasn’t even the real problem. She was mad and cut me off because she felt like I was making fun of her over something she was explaining to me before and my religious comment was kind of the tip of the iceberg for her, which was why it made her cut me off in the first place.
Point is, I would have never even known she felt that way if I didn’t tell her how she made me feel. And even though we made up now, there's things I wish I did that could have helped avoid the swarm of emotions the aftermath of that fight had on me, and I made a few suggestions on what to do after having a fight with someone you care about, both for you and for the other person.
For me I thought I was angry at my friend for just cutting me off and making me feel irritated at the fact that if i said something to try and solve it, she wouldn't listen to me. But as the days went on with us not talking, I realised that I was more angry at the thought that she could get rid of me that easily and the thought that maybe she didn't value this friendship the same way I did.
And with a lot more thinking, I realised that I felt this way because of an insecurity I have. Well, we all have insecurities, fact, but for me it’s more to do with the thought that I wasn’t good enough of a person to be around, that I wasn’t as interesting as other people were.
Also, even after doing all of this, it's good to keep in mind that, as sad as it may be, not all friendships last forever. A lot of the time people outgrow each other, you both stopped liking the same things and maybe the other person doesn’t align with who you're becoming anymore ( hopefully for the better)/ So I would say don’t beat yourself up about it, it hurts but maybe it's for the better. Theres alot of toxic people out there, and if this fight showed who you were dealing with the whole time.
Think of it this way, the friendship you just lost shows you the kind of people you might not want in your life in the future. Whatever happens remember to be kind to yourself; even if you're in the wrong or right. Cause your friend(s) might leave, but you’ll always have you.
It is fair to say that stress affects the lives of many young people today, admittedly, myself included. I say “admittedly” not because it is something to be embarrassed by, but rather because it often lies behind a tough exterior. Students in particular have to grapple with all kinds of pressures, both societal and personal. According to a survey conducted by the Union of Students in Ireland in 2019, 23.1% of female college students stated that they felt severely stressed. Being a student myself, this is something that I can relate to. In this article, I hope to share with you my experience with stress and how I manage it on a daily basis.
I personally believe that stress is determined by two related factors: a desire to please people and a fear of failure. Despite being able to recount moments from my childhood in which I felt rather anxious, I think that my real battle with stress began when I entered secondary school. All of a sudden, I felt an enormous pressure to excel in my studies and became obsessed with the thought of failure. This was one of my many fears, and it still is today. I began to associate productivity with self-worth and self-esteem – if I achieved an ‘A’, then I was a capable and hard-working individual. This caused a lot of stress, and at times, the fear was so overwhelming that I would cry, procrastinate my work, and become irritable and withdrawn. I essentially set myself a standard that I could not always reach; a standard that few people can ever fully live up to. Where this stemmed from I have no idea, given the fact that I was a diligent student who was in no way headed towards the path of failure. Nevertheless, it was an experience that forced me to unpack my fears and realise my own potential.
Intertwined with this was the desire to please others, namely, to confirm or deny their perception of me. This was an inner personal conflict that bred stress and made setting boundaries quite difficult. I have always struggled with saying the word “no” and tending first to my own needs. This intensified in university, following various failed attempts at finding work and the pressure that comes with exams. There were times at which I felt torn between what others expected of me, and what it was that I truly needed (a break). Even now, in my daily life, I am constantly in a tussle with stress and the feeling of inadequacy. However, rather than running away from it, I choose to confront it head-on; in fact I transform it into creativity.
But how do I actually achieve this? How do I tap into my anxious thoughts and ultimately use them to my advantage? Allow me, if I may, to share with you some tips and advice on how to do this. Firstly, the biggest revelation for me was identifying my triggers. By this, I am referring to what actually prompts me to feel stressed (a fear of failure and a desire to please others). After coming to this realisation, I started filtering out certain habits from my life that were both unnecessary and stress-inducing. The biggest of these was the constant need to give an instantaneous reply to text messages (text messages that did not necessitate an urgent response). Along with this, I began practicing saying “no” to social outings and only made plans to attend them when I felt rested and mentally-relaxed. This brought freedom and serenity to me in ways for which I will forever be grateful. I began to realise that protecting my energy was vital to reducing the amount of stress that I encountered daily. I learned how to say “I cannot physically do everything at once” to myself, which in turn, led me to being both assiduous and patient. Consequently, my desire to satisfy the demands of other people gradually diminished and I created my own sense of liberation.
In addition to this, I decided to undertake various activities as a means of creatively expressing my anxious thoughts. This not only served as a calming method; it also allowed me to remain centred and combat my fear of failure. Being a writer, I take comfort in putting pen to paper and jotting down my thoughts. I believe that this is one of the most cathartic acts performed by humanity. In doing so, my stress takes on many different forms, manifesting as poetry, affirmations, and journal entries. The practice of doodling can also be calming, and I strongly encourage you to try it.
Likewise, sending myself an encouraging text message or typing notes in my phone is another means of relieving stress. If I am travelling somewhere that makes me feel anxious, for example, an exam centre or my place of work, I will type little notes for myself to read on the bus. A simple “you’ll be okay” can be quite soothing and make me feel as though I am capable and ready to complete the task ahead. I also, quite often, create a list on my phone of everything I get to do when I return home. This reassures me that even if the experience does not go as planned, my day can still end on a positive note. This activity, as well as the others that I mentioned, enables me to maintain hope and perseverance in the face of stress. After reflecting on my experience for the purpose of this article, I truly believe that such activities can be applied to the lives of other young adults and teenagers.
And so bearing that in mind, I would like to say this to you, the reader:
Stress in itself can be a wonderful gift that enables you to discover small ways to bring joy to yourself. It is a natural part of the human condition, and indeed of growing up. Do not fear it, for it can be tamed, and do not dismiss it, for it is innate. Stress is your teacher – it stimulates growth and fosters development. Rather than running from it, allow it to motivate you to finish that assignment, to attend that job interview, or to take time for yourself. Transform your stress into creativity and watch closely as it, in turn, transforms you.
I feel like I need to preface this article with a disclaimer. I have nothing against Christians; these are just my experiences and not many of them are positive. I’ve grown up with two moms and being queer myself, in the Midwestern United States. I have religious trauma that I work every day to recover from. I’ll also be talking about my experience in a cult, which will remain nameless for the sake of the people still trapped in it. There is a trigger warning for talking about religion and mild mentions of abuse. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into this.
I’m extremely pleased with where I am spiritually, but it hasn’t always been that way. I hopped from church to church to try and be satisfied in a faith that hated my very existence. Growing up in a religiously saturated midwestern town gave me a fair bit of religious trauma that I won't go into detail about because I have just come to terms with it myself.
I started in a small nondenominational church in Nebraska. I stayed here for five years until I moved to Oklahoma. While at the surface level it seemed to be a very positive environment, I only saw it that way because I was a small child. One day in Sunday school we were forced to walk around the basement carrying multiple chairs on our backs, with the justification that this is what our sins were like. Please remember that the majority of us were four to eight years old. This was one of the many times I've realized something that happened was wrong, but this is the one I've chosen to share.
Then I joined a cult. Well, it was more my Grandma joined and I got dragged along. It was disguised as a small family church run out of an abandoned gas station. It seemed innocent at first, though that was due to the way it was run. The leaders would slowly phase you up until you were either brainwashed or realized it was a cult. I was in their youth program considering the fact I was 7-10 years old. When we misbehaved or questioned what they told us, we were sent to our “spiritual guide”, who would most of the time punish us physically. That is as far as I’m willing to go into my experience there. I’m still trying to reconnect with the child I was before that experience. I left after I was told to wear a skirt and “boycott” pants or go to Hell.
My grandma is extremely spiritual and was desperate to find another church, so after a while, we found ourselves in a Catholic Mass. I was ushered into the youth group, where I started crying asking to not be taken to the guide because I was in pants. The youth pastor then looked at me with a puzzled expression, whispered something to her assistant, and I was ushered off as sobs racked my body and I had my first ever panic attack. I was dragged to a separate room where I was told to step into the small pool, and I was forcefully baptized to “get rid of my demons”. We went to that church for about a year where I was baptized a total of ten times because my mental illness and trauma were seen as demons trying to possess me. I was 11.
After the constant torment, I was done with religion. I was an atheist for a good two years, with pent up anger and trauma. But then one of my friends invited me to her church, and I sucked in a breath as I saw a gas station up ahead and we turned into it. It was the cult. Her mom parked the car and I tried to say something, but nothing came out. What was said to me that night was unforgettable and traumatic.
I cut her out of my life and I never went back there; in fact, I moved right after that happened and was dragged to another church. This was a megachurch, and I’m sure anyone from Oklahoma can guess which one it was. I went for a year until I broke down to my mom, who is agnostic, unlike my grandmother who is ultra-Christian. I was told I was a sin for existing because my mom had me out of wedlock, and their homophobia and transphobia had become apparent. That was the last time I stepped into a church or looked towards the Christian faith. I’m happily a Pagan witch and I’m healing from what organized religion has done to me. So here’s a list of signs I’ve compiled of when a church/religion is becoming toxic:
As for leaving your parent’s religion, there are a few things to consider. If your safety will be in danger, don’t do it until you are independent. By independent, I mean financially withdrawn from them, moved out into a place you rent or own, and fully prepared to cut them out of your life. If you won’t be in danger, start with excuses to miss religious services and break them in slowly. If you are accepted then feel free to practice your new religion freely.
Please remember that these are just my experiences. If you are happy in any of these religions, please don’t take offense to this, it’s just my experience. Religion means a lot to many groups of people, which means it is one of the easiest ways to be manipulated. Be safe and love yourself no matter what and you’ll be fine.
They say study hard and you’ll have a good life,
You’ll be successful and have a good wife.
They say stay at school and don’t have fun,
You’ll get a nice car and know how to run.
They say don’t cry and let it out
Just keep it in and go workout.
But what they don’t know is that I want to break free,
I want to laugh and sit under an oak tree
With my friends by my side as I break down
And let the mascara make me a clown.
I want to worry about the little things
As I consider them important and they give me wings.
I want to fly as high as I can, but mom and dad, don’t worry
I won’t go too far and I’ll be back in a hurry.
“In case of a cabin pressure emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.” We always hear this sentence every time we take a flight. It is a good concept to apply to our lives. We need to remember the importance of helping ourselves first before helping others. Putting yourself doesn’t mean you’re choosing either your or another's life. It means putting yourself makes you function better and strengthens you to support your loved ones better. Even a therapist can ask guidance from other therapists. It doesn’t mean they’re not credible. It helps them prepare and recharge so that they can help clients as well.
One way of self-help is self-love. Loving yourself is different from being a narcissist. A Narcissist needs professional guidance because Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. They lack empathy and therefore rarely make friends with others. Different from being narcissistic, self love is an act to appreciate and care about oneself.
Self-love is a journey and everyone should have a trial and error method to find the best way to love themselves. In order to help our self, here some ideas that I’ve tried and you can apply them too:
No screen day
Due to online situations, life is attached to the screen. Sometimes, I’ve gotten very anxious about things on social media. I couldn’t bear to look at notifications on my social media. So, reconnecting with nature instead of the screen, would be very relaxing.
Hugging someone with no context
This gives me another level of satisfaction. When hugging someone, I feel calm and relax. Also, my negative emotions go away. It may be because the stress hormone is released.
I’m not sure with the actual method, but it is kind of staying still and being aware of nature’s sounds. Nature’s sounds help release my anxiety and stress.
Those tips may work for some people but not others. Hopefully, they can help some of you guys. Enjoy your journey to a fulfilling life!
Islam has been wide-spreaded religion for centuries. One of the countries with the majority of muslims is Indonesia. In islam, there is a month called Ramadan, where Muslims around the world must refrain from eating and drinking from morning before sunrise to falls at sunset for 30 days. Muslims also must refrain from doing bad habits, because this is a holy month. Instead they are encouraged to do considerable good deeds, because of the huge rewards will be given. While it may seem ordinary, Ramadan is a most awaited month. It is common for nonmuslims join to enliven the month.
Every Muslim around the world has unique habits or traditions only during Ramadan. Here, I’ll explain several traditions that make Ramadan very meaningful to its people.
Those are several traditions or habits during Ramadan. There are still plenty of traditions Indonesians do that aren't enough to write. Also, during pandemic, there are several traditions restricted to avoid any burst covids’ cases in certain places, such as visiting extended family.
In the last few weeks, the UK lockdown measures have eased in ways that a lot of us did not think were ever going to happen. Pubs have opened back up, we can eat inside restaurants, and the queues to get inside a clothes shop are the longest that I have seen for a long time. Living in a small town means that it is nice to see local, small businesses opening up again and serving members of the public. However, the anxiety that some of us are feeling makes the idea of going out to casually eat a meal again difficult to deal with. As someone who has definitely felt this stress and anxiety, I thought I’d collate a short list of things that have helped me in return to normality and might help some of you.
A couple of ways to help ease the anxiety you might be feeling:
For more information about how to combat feelings of stress and anxiety about the easing of lockdown I thought I would provide some links to further reading that some of you might find helpful. These are websites that I’ve personally visited time and time again whilst looking for advice, therefore having no association or sponsorship with Teenagers with Experience. I think the Mind charity does a really good job of explaining a plethora of feelings that individuals may be experiencing, not only stress and anxiety. In addition to Mind, is Rethink Mental Illness. Their website takes you through a series of scenario-based questions about returning to work, the ever-changing rules and the fear of catching or transmitting to vulnerable friends or family members.
It’s easy to think that you are the only person struggling with lockdown easing, especially when scrolling through social media and every other photo is of a person in a bar or with their friends they haven’t seen for months. Remember that social media is not an accurate representation of people’s lives, it’s a highlight reel of their personal best bits. The person who went out the night before may have extreme anxiety about going out in three days time.
Here’s hoping that some of this advice helped, don’t forget to share your opinions or advice. Helping each other is how we’ve made it this far over the pandemic.
Along with a large number of students, I am about to become a university graduate; something that both excites and terrifies me. After speaking to a lot of my university friends I have realised that this seems to be a universal feeling, especially brought on by attempting to navigate graduate life whilst still in the swings of a global pandemic. To go from living independently for a minimum of three years with people in a similar age group to you, whose priorities are extremely similar to your own, to potentially moving back into your family home can be an overwhelming idea to process. However, it can be just as overwhelming to make the decision to continue to live independently and attempt to get a graduate job. Therefore, I thought I would not only share my experience but also some of the advice that my fellow university students have imparted on me as the process of leaving university begins.
Take a break
Ask anyone close to me and they would be able to tell you that I have never been particularly good at taking breaks, even when I’m at work I’m not a massive fan of sitting around. However, the long nights of studying and writing my dissertation took a toll on me so when I completed studying I crashed. This was not healthy, something that I can admit now, but what it allowed me to do was rest my body and my mind to the point that I felt comfortable moving away from university work and turning to a new adventure. Giving yourself time to rest is necessary, not even necessarily after university. Allowing yourself to sit and process any big achievement in your life is important, even if the emotions you have surrounding this are not always positive. If you feel like you’re struggling with processing leaving university, make sure to speak to someone. Whether this is a parent, a friend or even a GP, talking through your emotions is vital to keep up a good physical, emotional and mental health.
Learn a new skill or hobby
With the addition of free time from not having to write a 10,000 word dissertation, it can be difficult to know what to do. For the first couple of weeks after I finished all my coursework I definitely felt like this which meant I turned to Netflix and other streaming services to catch up on all the programmes that I’d missed. However, this didn’t make me feel like I’d accomplished anything in a day. In order to combat this I made the decision to spend a couple of hours a day doing something new. Recently I’ve taken up learning a new language, I will admit that I’m not great at it but it’s a learning curve, as well as taking up scrapbooking seeing as I seem to have collected a lot of memory driven objects from my time at university. Doing something new might not even be necessary, maybe you used to have a hobby that you haven’t taken up in a while because of the focus towards studying.
Try not to compare yourself
Although learning about what your fellow classmates or housemates are doing when they go back home can be exciting, it can also be extremely daunting. It can often feel like you should be doing exactly the same thing as your friends in relation to getting work experience, interviews and eventually a job. This was definitely something that I struggled with at first. Making the decision to take a year out to work before going back to do my master’s degree is what is best for me, something I acknowledge now, but was difficult to come to terms with. Understanding and learning that going with the crowd is not always the best just in order to conform is difficult. It feels like the standard, however, in the current climate there is no standard. There never has been, students do different things after they graduate, it happened in high school and it will continue to happen in all forms of education. To not compare yourself is difficult but if the path that you take after you graduate makes you happy, that is what is most important.
I hope that this was helpful to my fellow soon-to-be university graduates and that some of the advice that I’ve shared has eased your anxieties about what is next for you. Remember that not everyone is at the same stage in their process but that does not mean you are any less successful than your friends. Take some time to breathe and rest, after three years of hard work, we all deserve it!
I, like many people, love animals; I always have. Because of this, I’ve always loved having pets and obviously, I’m not unique because of that. Millions and millions of people around the world have a pet, the most common being dogs and cats. But, sometimes people rush into buying a pet that they aren’t ready for, and this can be really harmful.
It’s important to do your research when buying any animal. Realize that it’s a commitment, and although your pet will just be a part of your life, to your pet, you are their entire life. This is especially true for animals that show more affection and need attention.
I have had experiences with a wide variety of animals, but before I comment on my experience, please remember that every animal is different and unique. They are all individual lives that have personalities formed by both their natural disposition as well as the experiences they’ve had. Please also note that I’m from the United States, and this means that the pets available to me are different than what may be available in other countries.
Okay, so now that all the disclaimers are done, Let’s get to it!
Dogs: Dogs are very popular pets, and for good reason. If the dog was raised right, they’ll be loving and even protective of their owner. There are a lot of different breeds and mixes, making them have some very unique looks and personalities. It’s the dream of many children to get their very own dog, but there’s plenty of responsibilities to consider.
Cats: Cats are also very popular pets and, like dogs, they have a wide variety of personalities. Some are very cuddly, and some are very playful! Cats are different than dogs, however, in that they don’t always want to be with you. They tend to have more of their own will, and if you aren’t prepared to respect their wishes, you probably shouldn’t get a cat. It can be said that cats are like an exercise in consent, because they’ll make it clear when they feel that you’re being overbearing. As I mentioned earlier, they have a wide variety of personalities, so if you want a cat to cuddle with, make sure to meet different cats and find the best fit. Responsibilities for cats and dogs can be very similar, but there are some key differences as well.
With both cats and dogs, adopting from a shelter could give a home to an animal that really needs one. And, although you may be tempted to get a cute puppy or kitten, getting an adult animal means that you already know their personality and you’re adopting a slightly less adoptable animal. The same goes for cats and dogs with disabilities. These animals will almost always make just as wonderful a companion as abled animals, but they aren’t adopted as often and go large parts of life without a loving home.
With all this in mind- knowing your goals, knowing the responsibilities, and being ready to give a home to a cat or dog- I’m sure you can make the right choice.