Thursday, January 26, 2017

Where I've been


Hi! 
It has been a while indeed. It feels very awkward, coming back to the place where my memories dwell, where I was sharing so much yet never enough, where I left so many hints and clues for no one to discover.
I've been living in a sort of limbo for the last year. Always struggling with studies and pushing aside everything else. My social anxiety has been driving me mad and I stopped taking portraits. For some reason I've been unable to put my feelings and experiences into words and I haven't been writing either . Even now it's difficult. I feel trapped in my head. There is so much that I want to share but I keep failing at doing it. I keep staring at this eternal white page unable to fill it with anything. This feels horrible. This makes me feel paralyzed. This makes me feel stupid and superficial. Can it be that I just don't have anything to share but fool myself into believing that I do? This thought scares me a lot. But then I don't really understand... Why would a person who doesn't have anything to share get this constant urge to write? This is pretty cruel.
Well, anyway. Why not focus on some brighter stuff. Because no matter how tedious routines are and no matter how stupid and lonely I feel, some quite awesome things have happened recently and not so recently. Now let's see...
I wrote my last blog post more than a year ago when I was in Sweden. I do remember writing it in my room late at night, in my bed. It was probably a clear winter night and I bet the stars were shining incredibly bright, because that's what they do in Sweden. See, the stars are always brighter on the other side. But seriously though. I will forever remember opening my window into a starry cold night and not feeling the cold because I was so high on my happiness.
So, I awkwardly poured my soul into that one blog post and in the end of December I came back to St.Petersburg. There were, of course, some tears involved but the only thing I could do about coming back to my old life was to move on. And there was a lot to do. Life certainly kept me thoroughly busy with studying, exams and doing twice as much work as I was really capable of during the next several  months. It definitely wasn't all fun and games. Luckily, there was another girl in my group who was going through exactly the same thing and, as we know,  there is nothing more satisfying for a student than to know that someone else is having it hard as well. And you know what, having a hard time brings people together. The point is, I think I've finally made a friend, which still amazes me every time I think about it. Very grateful for having this person in my life.
Well, somehow I managed to pass exams and hand in a research paper. Don't even get me started on this research paper. Writing it was sheer hell. Not to mention that I've written three of these this year. Don't get me wrong, I love studying linguistics but... research papers are a freaking torture. Honestly. They are.
Alright, anyway, after all those dreadful exams I did the craziest thing ever, at least according to my definition of craziness. I got on a plane to Sweden and went to an organic farm to volunteer there. Basically, I spent two weeks weeding, eating my weight in peanut butter and freshly baked bread ( because weeding makes you hella hungry), walking lots and talking to wonderful people from so many countries. It was honestly a dream come true, tough and challenging at times but such a fantastic experience. And I finally got to use my English, woohoo. That felt good. More on my volunteering experience coming, I promise.
In August I got to visit Greece. Went there with my mom and we had the best time. It is incredible how being by the sea makes you so grateful for your entire existence. The connection that we, humans, feel with water is so powerful, it's truly amazing. We also met a couple of the cutest little doggies ever and having to leave them there totally broke my heart (Can I, please, adopt every single dog on this planet?)
So, then September rolled in and it was one crazy month for sure. I had school teaching practice, which meant teaching English to a bunch of teenagers. Luckily, it was quite a decent school and they were not much of a trouble. But I was freaking out daily anyway. Because, you know... people, talking, getting out of my comfort zone and stuff. Oh, and preparing teaching plans. It was pretty much a nightmare and somehow I ended up extremely sleep-deprived. But, guess what, I really came to like teaching. Maybe because I got to speak English so often. But I think I could totally do it as a job (not in this country though). 
And once I was done with teaching, a new semester started and brought new challenges. As usual, there was too much stuff to be done and too little time and even less energy. I had a goal though: not to fall behind with my weekly assignments. This worked well. But I still made my usual mistake of ignoring all other subjects and having Swedish as my top priority. Not that it isn't my priority, but, you know... ignoring stuff isn't of much help when it comes to exams. 
In October I went on another quite crazy trip, this time with my dad and his colleagues. I kept saying I couldn't go and miss several days of classes but then I told my annoying inner voice to shut up and embraced this wonderful opportunity. We flew to Prague and then drove all the way to Dusseldorf to attend a huge plastics fair. It was very overwhelming. I got to be an interpreter and apply some of the theoretical knowledge that I had acquired at the university. Needless to say I was high on my emotions for about a week, feeling important and worthwhile. Then I slowly got back into my usual routine of feeling sad and lonely and life was back to normal, hehe. 
It felt kind of surreal but in November I flew to Sweden again. It was a study tour and I was traveling with a dozen of other students who learn Swedish. My comfort zone was left far behind. We had quite a strict schedule, were staying at a hostel and there was a lot of socializing involved. Basically, everything that I dislike when it comes to traveling was involved. But. I had a friend by my side and we were in Stockholm, the city of freedom and dreams, totally having the time of our lives. Honestly, every minute of this trip was magical and amazing. I may have become way too attached to some of the memories. Sigh. Hashtag take-me-back. 
Well. When we came back we got to study really hard, work on our research papers and die a little in the process (why is it always such a nightmare?) but, as miraculous as it always seems, we somehow passed everything and made it into a new year. 
I got a truly extraordinary start to the new year. I was asked to do interpreting again and this time flew to Denmark on January 2. Now I would like to make one thing clear. All these trips feel surreal to me. I honestly have no idea what I've done to deserve it all and I am filled with gratitude to the brim. So so happy to get all these opportunities. Anyway, got to visit both Odense and Copenhagen (loved it) and got me meet really nice people. 
Interpreting is fun. You don't have to come up with anything to say, you just do your job transferring someone else's message. Perfect for someone like me who still hasn't mastered the art of keeping a conversation alive. 
When I came back I had to pass a couple of other exams, nothing too difficult but it's always stressful anyway. And these days I'm having a well-deserved break from studying and pretty much everything else. I've been watching movies, listening to podcasts, sewing and... I think that's it. Living the life of a sloth. But I've been also trying to get just a tiny little bit more social and show more attention to the people who I appreciate in my life. Had a coffee date yesterday and it went wonderful. Visited a school friend a couple of days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Me, the girl who never knows what to say. I'm impressed. Also, planning a photoshoot soon and getting out of this dark hole of fears and creative stagnation. 


Hmm, this is it, I guess. A quick overview of recent events in my life. Not that anyone is interested, but it was nice to put all this into words. What else has happened? Oh, I finally went fully vegan and have been for more than a year now. That was one important change for sure. Also, I've been taking driving lessons, very exciting. What else... Oh, I have been in the process of rediscovering my love for dolls and sewing. No, I'm not too old for that.

I think this will do for now. It's good to be back and even seeing the whole Blogger layout makes me feel nostalgic and excited. I will not promise to post more often because apparently I always fail at it. We'll see what happens. If you are not me but have read this to the very end, thank you! 


Oh, wait. We need pictures. And cat pictures are always the way to go, right? 































































There you go, haha. 



Love, 

Vera 
xx




Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Light of Separation

I've spent half of my life missing people and this is quite an interesting statement given that I'm a ridiculously shy introvert who hardly ever hangs out with anyone. Oh, wait. This actually makes sense. I guess other people just find each other and see each other instead of floating in nostalgia for years. I'm not so lucky. I can't bring myself to do that and even if I do, I end up panicking and over-thinking everything, so I usually decide to spare myself the stress.

Now... Is this a good or a bad thing?
From the modern society's perspective behaving like that is totally wrong. Our society wants to see highly sociable people everywhere. It is obsessed with extroversion. This is why those who don't live up to the standard feel guilty and beat themselves up for being different. This is why people keep asking whether I'm dating anyone. This is why we often see ourselves as social failures. Because no one told us that it's ok to be different. It is only through fully embracing our personalities that we can reconnect with the world. I had spent years hating my shyness and awkwardness before I accepted it and suddenly everything became a lot easier. I communicate with the world in a different way and it's ok. And yet... Sometimes it still feels very wrong. I don't know why I always have to contradict myself when I write but... Life is just so versatile. We can't really apply any labels to ourselves and claim that we only think this and do that. So, yeah, sometimes everything just feels very wrong. Sometimes loneliness hits in waves. But then again, I have to ask myself wether my desires match my needs. Because it seems that a lot of desires come ready-made into my life and have nothing to do with my personality.

Maybe I'm a coward. I admit I'm afraid of relationships. Maybe I'm afraid of disappointment. Maybe I'm addicted to melancholy and keep subconsciously attracting painful separations into my life. Whatever the reason, I always end up missing someone like hell. But don't you ever feel sorry for me. I make the best of what I get. The power of missing someone is totally mind-blowing and I'm grateful to my introverted nature for allowing me to dive deep into it.
I want to change the way we see separation. Separation is very often seen as just a part of a relationship and is rarely appreciated on its own. But hey, separation can be beautiful. You can make it beautiful, you can love it and turn it into a metaphor. And it will love you back by changing you and making you a better person. I know this. I've been there too many times and I'm about to get there again, so... A reminder is needed.





Friday, November 13, 2015

A Week Off Social Media (Diary)


02-11-2015

It's Monday and today is my first day without social media. No Instagram, no Tumblr, no YouTube. No mindless scrolling, no posting,no fangirling, no likes, no comments.
I wake up and have breakfast. It feels a bit weird: just eating my breakfast without simultaneously consuming news and updates. Funny.
During the day I often find myself reaching for my phone to check Instagram or something else. No, not today. I do have enough willpower and I begin to like this challenge.
You never realize how addicted you are to something until it disappears from your life. God, I'm addicted. I'm saying it out loud and it scares me but I'm determined to confront my addiction. Addictions are never healthy.
Towards the end of the day I begin to feel some sort of panic. I am so alone. I suddenly see how alone I actually am. And I don't know who this person is. Who am I? No idea. Suddenly it feels as if a part of me is missing. It's scary. I don't feel any connection with myself.
I realize that most of my thoughts are circling around social media and the people that I follow and it terrifies me. So, I basically live in a two dimensional world? It's crazy.
It's evening and I'm listening to music. For some reason melancholy hits me and I experience a strong longing for something. I actually begin to cry quietly. I don't know why, I'm just filled with emotions and crying seems to be the only way to let them out.


03-11-2015

Tuesday. I wake up and it's been more than 24 hours since I last checked any social media. I feel calm. My mind is still chattering but not as much as it usually does. Usually it's a complete mess: weird thoughts and different languages colliding.
I used my iPhone to check time and then I accidentally opened Instagram. Holy shit. My finger can find that Instagram icon without me consciously telling it to do so. Wow. Addiction on all levels. I got terrified, panicked and closed Instagram as soon as I realized what my hand had just done. The whole experience was so brief that I didn't really see any updates. Haha, the panic was real though.
During the day I often find myself wandering around not being entirely sure what to do with my time.
I read a lot. The first book is Introvert by Linus Jonkman. Another one is The Power of Now. I bought the books when I was at a railway station waiting for a train and being a perfect example of an introverted person according to Linus Jonkman. I want to thank this man for writing the book: it's a must-read for all introverts out there, seriously. Just admit you are an introvert - welcome to the club! Spare yourself years of self-loathing and seeing yourself as a complete social failure. We, introverts,are just very different. It's ok.


04-11-2015

Observation #1: I can't start my day reading anything serious and deep. I need something that wouldn't challenge me too much. Usually I scroll through Instagram in the morning and it does the job. This week I tried magazines and even news programs on tv. It wasn't as time-consuming as scrolling through my newsfeed, not quite as entertaining as scrolling, I guess.
On another note, I feel a lot better. Less anxious. There is a new feeling of stillness.

Observation #2: my procrastination has nothing to do with social media or web surfing. I successfully procrastinate with my books and even spend an hour practicing Tengwar.


05-11-2015
Thursday. I wake up and I don't feel the need to check anything. It's an amazing feeling.

06-11-2015
Yay, it's Friday! But the wonderful thing about Ingesund is that I actually find myself looking forward to Mondays, haha. It's a really nice feeling. Less waiting, more life. Right here, right now.
So... Social media? What about them? I can proudly say that I'm doing very well without them. But apparently my fingers aren't. They keep opening apps. But I keep closing them before I get to see any updates.
For many years I've been suffering from too much mental noise. I've always complained about the overload of information in the modern world. It's scary that we often don't even realize
what effect social media has on us. We think that it's we who consume information but what if it's otherwise?


07-11-2015
Today has been a surprisingly productive Saturday. I made a plan in the morning and managed to stick to it. It's nice to know that I haven't spent the day scrolling. Whenever I feel a bit bored I just start doing assignments or I just sit and think.
I'm so glad I decided to try this experiment. I suddenly discovered a whole new world of being more present.



08-11-2015
Sunday. Walks by the lake, reading, doing assignments and watching operas online. Playing with the thought of continuing this experiment because it feels so freeing.



Вера набирает сообщение..


Вера набирает сообщение..



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sunset Magic









Coming to the lake every evening has become my little ritual.

It began one day when I felt really miserable and lost but dragged myself out for a walk anyway, hoping that it would clear my mind. It was a bit windy but the wind was quite gentle and didn't irritate me at all but it caused waves on the lake and for a moment it felt like being by the seaside again. So I just stood there listening to the comforting sound of the waves and it felt really good. Breathing in the chill air of autumn. Trying to be present.

I'm teaching myself to live in the moment. I've spent years longing for something different, wishing to be somewhere else, constantly looking forward to the right moment to start living. Longing for relationships. Trying to live up to someone's expectations. I forgot that the only thing we own is the moment. I forgot how important it is to be content on my own. Our world has been turned upside down and our values have been messed up. When I think about my life I subconsciously try to plan it out according to what's considered to be normal: school, university, job, family... I'm sorry, but life is so much more than that! I was taught to think that this simple scheme defined life. There is so much pressure in our world. We are constantly expected to do certain things that would make us "fit in" yet the only way to really fit in this world is to find connection with the universe and just be. I no longer want to follow the path blindly, hoping that some day I'll be happy. Somewhere, with someone, doing something. I can be perfectly happy right now. I'm here to experience this life, to embrace the moment, to accept myself. I might want to share this moment with someone but I don't need anyone to experience it. I am enough. I am alone and this is how it's supposed to be. Just me and the world. I'm teaching myself to like the idea. Because I've always thought I needed something else or someone else to enjoy this life but I was oh so wrong.

I stood by the lake and I watched the sun go down and the sight of it filled me with endless happiness. I think I had an epiphany moment there. The world of colors, sounds and smells unfolded in front of me and I breathed it all in.

For a moment I thought how amazing it would be to become a part of this wonderful country with all it's lakes and sunsets, but then I realized... I am a part of this! How weird is the idea of the world being divided into countries? I am a part of this beautiful planet and no borders can prevent me from enjoying a wonderful sunset.
I'm trying to change my perspective on this. Once upon a time I was happy in Sweden watching the sun go down. Sounds good. But not good enough, because I know I'm not a swede and I really wish I were. But how about a sunset that I once watched on this planet? Aren't we all earthlings?
See, it's all about the approach. Choose to be happy now.













Lots of love,

Vera
xx



Friday, September 18, 2015

Hello from Sweden




Today marks a month since I came to Sweden. Time flies.
One month ago I was freaking out and had no idea what awaited me in Sweden and now this small town in the heart of Scandinavia, Arvika, totally feels like home.

What have I been up to? Attending classes, reading, traveling, exploring, having Skype talks with my family... Actually just living. I don't remember the last time I felt so alive and grateful for the sheer fact of being. I've been very happy here. Do you ever have those moments of overwhelming happiness? It's like the very air here contains molecules of happiness: you take a deep breath and...

It feels amazing to appreciate every single day here. Every morning I wake up feeling motivated and just positive about life and I feel much better mentally than ever before. This whole studying abroad thing is like a perfect well-deserved escape for me. It feels really good to be on my own having all the time in the world to reflect on my feelings and let the bad stuff go.
The last several years have been very challenging for me: I suffered from anxieties of all kinds and from an eating disorder, I felt miserable and lost, I felt as if I didn't have any control of what was going on in my life. I probably looked like a completely normal person but all those small issues were driving me crazy deeply inside and my mind was a mess. So, things aren't perfect now but I've already noticed a lot of improvements. Being in a totally new environment can do wonders when you want to clear your mind.

People keep asking me if I feel lonely here. The answer is no. Not at all. I'm perfectly fine and I actually enjoy being on my own more than I thought I would. Of course I talk to people every now and then but I haven't made any friends, which is ok. Everyone is different and I don't want to force things. Besides, I'm a very introverted person. I might also be a bit antisocial but I don't really care: I love being alone.

I've always been terrified by the idea of traveling on my own though. I have these weird phobias of losing my keys/money/passports and most of all - getting lost myself or missing a train. Ugh. But all these fears (ok, most of them) disappeared once I gained more experience. Traveling is not as complicated as it might seem: there are always people who can help you, there are timetables, there are maps... All those stupid fears just don't let you relax and enjoy exploring new places. So... I think I'm getting better at letting my fears go.

Well, I'm sorry my ramblings are so chaotic: my life in Sweden is just so overwhelmingly different that I have no idea how to write about it. But huge thanks if you've made it to the end of the post :)












Lots of love,
Vera

xx