14 March 2014

Panic & Confidence

Today, I've decided to sit down and write about these contrasting topics - panic and confidence. Yes, they're both difficult topics to share with hundreds of people, but I wanted to share my personal experience with these two life-changing mental states.
Please don't jump to the conclusion that I'm trying to 'show off' what is essentially a mental illness; all I want is to do through this post is to convey that any ordinary person can accomplish so much.

Flash back to a couple of years ago when I was in primary school. Nearly every one of my reports would conclude with the same comment- "Alissa is a quiet student and should participate more in class" or even "Alissa is a delight to teach, although confidence is something she could work on". You can imagine that each report for me was like being pushed to the ground or punched in the face and I could never take these comments as just critical feedback. Throughout my entire 7 years in primary school, I saw myself as the quiet one and therefore, so did everyone else around me. This carried on to high school, where I genuinely dreaded the constant need to participate in the endless peer building activities. This is also when I began to really suffer from Panic, but at the time I brushed it off as just being a combination of nervous and shy.

High school for me was the best and worst 6 years of my life. I made amazing friendships and felt like I was part of one big community that was my cohort but, I did endure through strange experiences that I was not prepared for. I remember one particular time sitting in Business class, where I had to ask my teacher for some sort of assistance. Although I had a friend right beside me, I started to panic - I remember my friend constantly telling me to 'calm down'. I never took symptoms seriously through high school because I experienced them so frequently; I always brushed it off as just being nervous.

Job hunting, job interviews, job trials and anything that has to do with jobs would always worry me. Like many people, I got quite nervous whenever I was introduced to a new workplace. I'm 18 and I've never had a job, which I'm totally okay with, but when I was a little younger and looking for a part-time job, I would spend a bit of time updating my resume, go on a huge applying spree, get 1-2 interviews, agree on a time and date and then... back out last minute, all because I would conjure up so much worry and panic that I would over think the situation and talk myself out of it. 

For the longest time, I was the youngest one in my family amongst my siblings and cousins and Aunt's and Uncle's. Although I have grown up, I've always been treated like I'm stuck at 10 years old and I think that the condescending manner that everyone speaks to me in, essentially brings down my confidence and boosts my negative thinking and as a result, to this day it's rare that I am taken seriously by my family.

January 2014 I was at Boracay, Philippines waiting beachfront at my hotel lobby for a day of Island Hopping. I was prepared and took my motion sickness medication beforehand, but as soon as someone mentioned 3 hours on a boat I went into full on Panic mode. I had never experienced anything like it before - my heart was beating at a ridiculous speed, I became extremely hot, I was shaking and found it hard to speak - I remember trying to tell my Mum that I absolutely could not go anywhere and it took me no time at all to head back to the hotel room. At this point I was so lightheaded that my vision was impaired and an endless stream of tears were running down my face. I literally did not know what to do so I tried to sleep it off, when I felt a tingling feeling in my hands and feet. You can just imagine what was going on in my head...

When I discovered a new found interest in a movement called Feminism, not only did it open my eyes to the existing gender inequality, but it taught me how to appreciate me and how I perceive myself. I learnt to accept my body, my appearance and how I am overall. Around the same time, I discovered 2 particular influential Youtube personalities - Zoe Sugg and Lauren Skager - both primarily fashion vloggers, although they occasionally speak about anxiety, panic, confidence and being comfortable with yourself. This will no doubt sound cheesy, but I don't think I can thank Lauren enough in particular. She is so easy to get in touch with and she's inspired me (and I'm sure others) to wake up every day, be whoever you want to be and be 100% confident about it.

Over the past few months, I have been given amazing opportunities and accomplished quite a bit. Last year in my final year of High School, one of my artworks was exhibited at the Director of Schools Office, where I was invited to a morning tea with the Director of Schools. I was also a 2013 HSC High Achiever, where I scored a mark of 90 or above out of 100 for an exam, along with some of my best mates. We were also invited to a Mayoral Reception later this month. I remember setting myself a plan for after high school, which was to get into University, do an Internship in my chosen field while at Uni for experience, which then will lead me to a job straight after I graduate. Since I set that goal, I am 3 weeks into my University course that I wanted, and I scored myself an Internship interview this week, while the company Evil Twin is in the process of looking at some of my design work. Even if I don't get the Internship this early, I am actually so proud that I did not back out of the interview and did not panic. It's a milestone for me.

I did a previous blog post on going into University that briefly touched on making new friends, but it's crazy to think that I was in the same situation in Year 7 when I was a shy and unsocial teeny. I've known this new group of Uni friends for 3 weeks (less for some people!) and they never fail to make me laugh every day that I get to see them.
In terms of my blog that you're reading right now, I was given the opportunity to work with an Events company Chic Petite, where I attended a networking night in Sydney, which you can read about here. I've also just recently started to work in conjunction with one of my favourite makeup companies Australis and later this month, I'll be giving out details on how you can win vouchers for Boohoo! I've also been planning a makeover for my blog, which involves a URL change - so keep an eye out for that!

Panic attacks are not fun and it's sad to think that they're in actual fact, quite common. I've never liked that fact that people use the term panic or anxiety as a joke because it's far from it. I found that the best thing to do after experiencing one is to just relax and get it off your mind. Get a massage, take a bath, whatever helps you to just relax
I'm absolutely no expert on panic attacks or on confidence for that matter, but all I'm saying from personal experience is, work towards goals, be who you want to be and know what drives you towards your own success. You are literally in control of your own life and you shouldn't be living in fear - go out, wear whatever you want, be happy and be the best person you want to become.

Please visit Beyond Blue if you would like further information. This site is also a major help if you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness and would like some helpful advise.

- AlissAMR


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