I would say for the most part that I’m an introvert. I like my own space. I like to keep to myself in public situations. I usually end up being the quietest member of the group. Often I find myself craving time alone to ‘recharge’ after socialising. I like to keep my social circle small. And god forbid you’re able to get a timely reply should you try and contact me (potentially a little more to do with being disorganised…). Take these traits and judge them as you will but one thing I’m recognising more and more, is my desire to be fiercely independent, a desire that isn’t exclusive to introverts, extroverts or ambiverts.
There’s one side of me that didn’t think twice (until actually stepping on the plane and it was too late) about heading to Dubai for a month for the sake of an internship. Somewhere where the culture was completely different, where I didn’t know anyone bar my godmother and her family, to start a new internship in a field I hadn’t ventured into yet (even though I had been dreaming of it for years) – in hindsight, pretty independent. There’s also the side of me that gets my mum to check all of my emails, to approve many a decision and to help financially support me while I hop from internship to internship (thanks, mum). That side of me? Still grappling with the concept of independence.
I had never really considered myself to be independent until last Christmas. We were playing with that little plastic fish that’s supposed to be able to predict your mood by lying in your hand. We all gave it a go and once said little fishy reached me, I was predicted to be independent. I remember my Mum snorting and saying “You got that right!”. Honestly, I thought she was being sarcastic. To this day I’m still unsure if she was being sarcastic or not (Mum, if you’re reading this, please feel free to clarify in the comments below. It would save me a lot of overthinking time.) But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In the last few years, while I still have a huge issue of constantly seeking the approval of others (insert eye roll), there’s been a lot of marching to the beat of my own drum. This blog for instance. Dropping out of university to follow a less conventional route. Interning in London. Living in Dubai. Moving to Dublin. Admittedly, a lot of these things came about by completely chancing my arm, not actually believing they would happen but they did and here I am.
The moving around has obviously boosted my ability to be independent. I shop and cook for myself. I’ve discovered that actually, I really enjoy cooking. I do my own washing. I clean my own bathroom. I manage to get myself from A to B without too many disasters. With a busy housemate, I live alone a lot of the time. Now, you may be reading this thinking – “Niamh, you’re 21. You should be doing these things anyway.” And you know what, you’re 100% right and yes, 500 words is far too long an intro into a topic but if my rambling writing still surprises you at this point, you’ve got some catching up to do (I could do with the extra stats so please feel free to scroll through the archives. No, really. Do it.)
As I sat and wrote last week’s blog post all about getting back into blogging and writing (link included to make the archive research easier for you) I noted that I was writing the post in Nandos. On my lunch break. By myself. Going back to the introvert thing, I find by the time lunch time comes around I’m exhausted by being surrounded by others within a busy office and in desperate need of some time alone to recharge the batteries. Most of the time I can’t even handle virtually spending time with people and turn to my book or writing rather than scrolling through social media. It means I spend most of my lunch breaks by myself unless of course it’s the designated day for a lunch date with the other interns, a lunch break I actually look forward to spending with others.
Once again, I’m rambling.
So, as I sat and wrote the post, head buried in my notebook, I looked around and suddenly questioned just how socially acceptable is was to be in Nando’s, alone, writing. If it was Costa, Starbuck’s or the library, I wouldn’t have questioned it for a second and wouldn’t be feeling the sudden wave of self-consciousness that I felt as I sat in my booth.
Imogen of YouTube channel Imogenation recently put up a video about how she gained confidence. She talked about how comfortable she is within her own company and how she went from being so dependent on others, unable to be left in her own company to feeling comfortable enough in her own skin to do things like going to the cinema alone. Then as I was catching up on my snapchats this evening, Michaela O’Shaughnessy of Life of a Lady Bear was chatting about her plans after work to go to The Weeknd’s concert alone. On both of these occasions, I’ll admit to turning my nose up a little, thinking why on earth would these girls do that?! But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that these were my own insecurities and issues speaking. Insecurities and issues that I shouldn’t project on others that are comfortable doing those things alone. If there’s a movie or concert you want to go to but have no one to go with or would just rather go alone, then why shouldn’t you? It’s funny how I have no qualms whatsoever about taking my laptop, a book or a new notebook to a coffee shop by myself and settling in for the afternoon. No issues with eating lunch alone, going shopping alone, travelling alone but anything more ‘adventurous’ than that and I’m completely out of my comfort zone.
The only reason my initial reaction to Michaela going to a concert alone and Imogen, to see a film alone is because I envy them. I envy their confidence in themselves to be able to do those things and while they’re only small things in life, someday I hope my independence levels match theirs and slowly but surely, we’re getting there.
Once again, over and out. Hope you enjoyed another little rambling insight into my daily thoughts.
P.S I’m aware of the controversy and memes this dress caused when first released last year. It’s a guilty pleasure but I’m going to own it, thank you very much.
Photos by Lucy
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