Learning a Language as an Introvert

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Introverts, although quiet, are a highly valuable type in the work place. They are known for being creatives, for being able to retreat inside their heads and come up with solutions, for working quietly and efficiently, and for being great listeners. While extroverts thrive on energy from other people, introverts gain most of their energy from alone time.

While introverts are being recognised more and more as a valuable asset in the community and workplace, education remains a place of dread for many. This was made even worse when as time went on schools began to make it mandatory for students to “participate” in order to pass a class. While I think talking is a great way to learn, and an efficient way of making sure a child is paying attention and learning, it is damning to an introverts self-esteem to tell them that they are not a good student if they don’t contribute vocally.

As an introvert, I know that I often have the answer, that I often have good ideas, and that I often know how to solve a problem. Throughout my time in school, and now in university, I have been able to develop my own way of demonstrating this. Instead of loudly announcing my ideas, I have developed listening skills, bettering my team work abilities. My constant roll of inner dialogue allows my ideas to be well-thought out, even when not totally coherent.

I  was in school when I realised I have a love of languages. This began with German and grew when I entered Transition Year and learned a basic level of Spanish. I later went on to study these two in university. Initially, it may not seem like something an introvert would excel at, considering that learning a language requires a lot of talking and interacting with people (that’s right, people. Cue heavy breathing and raised heart rates). However, my journey of learning different languages, and spending two months in Barcelona soaking up Spanish and Catalan, I feel I have learned a thing or two about the positive qualities of an introvert in learning a language.

We listen and absorb:

When you find yourself in a situation with “that quiet person” in your class, lecture, or work place, give them the benefit of the doubt. Although you may feel like you’re doing most of the talking, we introverts are absorbing, analysing, and innovating all at the same time. How does this apply to learning a language? Easy. I travelled to Barcelona last Summer to work as a live-in au-pair for a Catalan family. At this point I had only spent nine months learning Spanish four to five hours per week. I knew enough to get by but was floundered by their quick pace. However, as an introvert I played up on my listening skills and absorbed the language wherever I could. I listened to the family even when I didn’t know what was going on. I listened to locals on the street discussing everything from the weather to political issues. I listened to the radio in the morning. I attempted to exchange words with shopkeepers when I was out. Eventually, it felt more abnormal to hear English than it did to hear Spanish and I was still thinking in Spanish a few days after returning to Irish soil.

We cannot be forced:

I cannot tell you how many times I have had a teacher/friend/classmate tell me that I need to “speak louder” or “say more”. I’ve even had my opinions and suggestions dismissed simply because I have not spoken loud enough. What may surprise some people is that this fellow introvert trained in a theatre college for one year before moving to study English Literature. Believe me, I know how to project my voice, but I am not on a stage and the woman three buildings across does not need to hear me. Do you notice an introvert will never ask you to improve your listening skills? Hmph.
What I am saying is, is that you cannot force an introvert to speak when they do not want to. We’re introverts/internal. We think more than we speak and that’s okay and necessary in the world. How does this help someone who is trying to learn a language? After all, isn’t speaking the best way to learn? Theoretically, yes. However, since listening is one of our key skills we often absorb as much as we can before churning it out for others to hear. Being told “you need to speak” will only make an introvert retreat even more. So let us ponder and wait, when the moment is right we will speak. And eventually I was brave enough to speak in Barcelona. I even had conversations with strangers in restaurants and cafes. And let me tell you, if you’re understanding an elderly Spanish person you must be getting good.

Write it down:

Let that hand flow. One of the ways I tried to learn Spanish was by fusing it with my love of literature and translating Spanish poems into English. This was a really fun way of getting my brain to work and to expand my vocabulary for similar words. The same can work for songs, which the girls I was minding loved to do. When you write things down you remember them, so don’t feel discouraged if you write more than you speak. I assure you that when the time comes and you have to order that delicious croissant in your new favourite cafe by the sea that you will be more than capable.

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So if you happen to be an introvert in the process of learning a language, or you feel intrigued to begin, know that it is for everyone. It’s a challenge for any person, but particularly for introverts it contains daunting aspects. Embrace these and allow them to challenge you so that you grow. Find your strengths as pointed out in this text and allow them to help you flourish. You’ll be flying across the world in no time. Coming from queen introvert herself, it is testimony that it can be done since I am sitting here wishing I was speaking with some Spanish stranger about everything under the sun. Languages open up millions of doors for you, and you’ll definitely encounter another introvert or two along the way.

Kerryx

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Chai Musings

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I sit at the round antique table on a wicker chair and set up a little home there. The experimental Chai tea with cocoa, honey, and milk is still too hot to drink, and I can’t help but wonder why it’s in a glass instead of a mug, but I’ll assume they are the experts.

The rose lies opposite me, like a date. It makes everything seem beautiful. The gently playful music dancing around the room leads me to believe that there truly is a difference between being alone, and being lonely, and I have found it.

I gingerly take a sip of my tea – spicy, watery, waiting to taste the honey. On second sip I deduce it is perfect for comfort. It is reminiscent of the friend who will hug you when you’re sad, but simultaneously give you a kick up the bum.

I am usually the observer, the writer, but I am the one being observed here. My broken Spanish confusing them on account of my now darker skin. I could blend in if I really tried, and sometimes I succeed.

“You have very good English,” the Russian man I had helped in a train station told me.

The inside of my mouth is vaguely numb, and my head swimming slightly. I wonder idly if I have in actual fact walked into a tea headshop. After all, I don’t speak Chinese and assumed the sign outside translated to ‘tea shop’.

I look at my watch and gasp, time is escaping so quickly. Maybe it is drugs.

The group of four near-elderly people sat opposite me on the cushioned bench glance at me often. I feel as though they find my choice of chai tea and accompanying brownie an odd, uneducated choice. Jokes on you, I think, the cocoa compliments each perfectly.

“Is it the brownie?” I wonder in bewilderment. Is this in fact a weed brownie? Is that why the young waitress seemed surprised when the petite blonde girl ordered one? Well, if I didn’t before, I would surely find the Picasso Museum interesting now.

The group on the cushions are discussing Italy. I catch words here and there, the relaxed atmosphere encouraging them to speak more slowly. Calm, content voices.

I am calm. I am content.

I wonder are the two women working mother and daughter. The eldest sports a short, black, curly bob and carries a face full of wisdom and experience. Hands designed for a craft so delicate as tea. The younger presents herself more timidly, a fleshed out version of the elder.

The group beside me begin to bubble in laughter. Are we all high? I glance at the rose and try to wonder what my grandmother would think. And oh, how I wish I could know. And just then as I happen to look up, I spot above my head an ornamented bird attached to the window. I smile.

Perhaps the rose leads others to believe I have enjoyed a romantic day. No, I would apologise. I’m afraid I have romanced myself in deciding to carry the symbol of my grandmother around with me for the day.

I am so relaxed.

Does it look bad if I finish the whole brownie? I feel as though it has always been the case that I would feel bad. Here, however, they are so different. They value living, tasting, and experiencing over image. And I love it.

I wish you were here.

I take a second look.
Definitely her daughter.

The Pill, Sex, and Everything Taboo

Dear Readers,

I want to touch on a subject that, although talked about now and then, is not discussed as fully as it needs to be. The subject in question is the contraceptive pill. Cue panicked fumbling as you all remember you forgot to take your pill today…

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I would like to touch on a few issues related to taking the pill, the first being:

Asking to go on the pill:
This is an awkward moment for anybody. Whether you’re 16 or 19, telling your mom that you want to start taking the pill is basically telling her that your sex life has begun. You can officially nod your head when the doctor asks you if you’re sexually active.

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While some girls do start taking it for the positive effects some of them can have on your skin, or to have a more regular period, there should be less of a taboo around asking for the pill. I think the way the topic of sex is approached for young people in Ireland (and maybe elsewhere, I wouldn’t know) is all wrong. Girls are told they will get a period and that this means they are now majestic fertile beings. That’s it. Having attended a convent school the topic of actual sex wasn’t really covered, and when it was it was done so extremely awkwardly, or it was talked about as if we shouldn’t even think about sex. On the other hand, boys were told about sex. They were also told about masturbation, a topic that is again only seen as taboo on women. From this young age we were being told that we were not sexual human beings the way men were. If we got urges, we were to stifle them between our stiffly ironed pinafores.

There are MANY problems that go with this. Not only does it mean talking about the pill with your mum is terrifying and you feel like you’re admitting to some awful crime, it means we knew absolutely nothing about anything. Do you remember the first time you tried to use a tampon? Were we even told where the vagina is?! No. Class 101 on how to insert a tampon definitely needs to be added to the curriculum. Cue checking ‘wikihow’ and spending at least thirty minutes with your leg hiked up on the bath trying and failing to get this God-forsaken instrument in!

This taboo also means that some girls don’t even look for the contraceptive pill, and you’ll note the handful of girls from your school-days who ended up pregnant. That could have easily been avoided if they had just been told about contraception from the time they could understand sex, and the ins and outs of ovulation, the importance of protection, and the actual pill. If we weren’t made to feel as though we were Satan’s personal minions for having sexual thoughts, we wouldn’t have felt so nervous about asking for the contraceptive pill. I really believe that no girl who has decided she is going to have sex is going to be stopped by being told she can’t go on the pill because she’s too young. Give her the pill. You may think you’re being a medium for promiscuity, but she’s going to do it sooner or later.

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HORMONES:
I knew when I started taking the pill that it would mess with my system for the first couple of months. Those first few months are the telling factor of whether or not you should keep taking that one. While I anticipated some mood swings, maybe snapping at one or two people, I couldn’t have predicted the affect it would have on my everyday. About two weeks into taking it, I felt as though a cloud was hanging over me. Think about it as putting on sunglasses and everything becomes slightly dimmer. I could tell I was more sensitive, similar to the week you get your period. I was pushed over the edge  by the smallest things going wrong, and according to my poor mother, I was a terror to be around. (I actually have no recollection of what I was doing, which is kind of scary).

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Not only was there a dampner on everyday life, the week I went off the pill each month was a scary down I hadn’t experienced before, and it got worse with each cycle. I would cry the whole week, my cravings went through the roof, and I was so tired there were some days I wasn’t even sure I’d go to college. Eventually I found myself asking “why am I so down?”, because I couldn’t find a legitimate reason for being THAT down. I only came off that one about a month ago, and aside from a few events in the past couple of months that could have assisted those downs, I can say that a lot of it (or a lot of the way I handled things) was down to the pill. I’m telling you this because it took me way too long to realise I shouldn’t have to take that one. It isn’t fair to you to have to endure a week out of each month in absolute depression, and I’m not using that word lightly. It is only as my body returns to normality am I realising just how much the pill was affecting my everyday. I feel like a different person now, as though I’m more myself than I have been in months. If the pill you are taking has this affect on you, stop taking it. There are other pills, lower dosages, and other options. You are so much more important than stopping your monthly ovulation.

The littl(er) issues:
Remembering to take your pill becomes one of the most difficult things. If you’re on the mini-pill especially, you know you cannot mess that up. There are a few things you can do to help remember. I personally use a cute little app on my phone which reminds me everyday. Just type pill reminder into the app store and you’ll find one. Some girls just set an alarm on their phone to go off every day at a particular time, and they take it then. These are just some little methods to remember to take it 🙂 pillbuying

The only other issue I want to mention is actually getting the pill. We rack up quite the bill between paying for doctor’s appointments for prescriptions and check-ups, and actually buying the pill. So much effort. So much stress. I just want to eat cookies, and it’s all your fault, Contraceptive Pill.

That’s all for now ladies (and any guys nosing about),

I’ll be blogging much more frequently about the things we don’t really want to talk about (except really really want SOMEONE to talk about), or the things we just weren’t taught in school.

Kerry x

 

 

Losing

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Dear Readers,

I like to be as honest and open as possible when it comes to writing these posts. I have many writing moods; giving my opinions, sharing stories, or giving you a bit of a laugh. Right now, I feel like telling you a story, and explaining how life has been over the last two months.

Putting into words the emotions I’ve gone through in just these two months is so hard. On one side, it makes me nervous to properly delve into how I’ve felt, and there’s this funny feeling flowing from my chest to my stomach that makes me want to cry, throw-up, smile, and laugh all at once. In one sentence, the past two months have been somewhat horrendous.

2016 did not start well for Kerry. All around her, doors were shutting. Doors I had worked hard on, and put my love and energy into 100% were suddenly swinging closed without warning. Everything was hit. My physical well-being went downhill, my mental health went downhill, and any feelings of positivity and security I was privileged to abandoned me. Generally, friends and family will describe me as a positive and happy girl. I like the things I like, rude people rarely sway me, and if I love you, you’ll get all of my care. I have felt like a ghost of that person for the last two months.

The best way to describe it is as though I was standing on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere, nothing to hold onto and nowhere to run to. That’s the terrifying thing about feelings, you cannot run from them. Sure, you can fake it, act like everything is okay, but then nothing will change. People are like rocks, when put under extreme heat/pressure, they break, and are forced to change. (I got a B in Geography). When you break, you do not simply stay broken. The human body is this great machine which goes into survival mode and strives and searches for the best way to get back to feeling great. Sometimes, this means sleep and rest. I’ve done a lot of this. Sometimes, it means talking to the people closest to you, and sometimes it requires complete solitude.

To me, it felt like I kept losing. There was no competition, there was no-one expecting me to run marathons, but I felt like I was collapsing at every corner. Running around trying to keep doors open that are determined to shut is an exhausting task. Sometimes you want to force them open, you might even throw a brick at some of them, but all that results is a chipped door. From a young age, my nan told me that when one door closes, two more open. I’ve clung to this with dear life. I’ve been looking around desperately for the open doors. Surely, I’m owed like ten?

I think this is the first time in my adulthood that I’ve had to face the sort of emotions that genuinely put a hold on your life for a while. Something I’ve learned from this is that allowing yourself to feel the emotions is perfectly fine. You’ve been hurt, you’re trying your damn hardest to stay above the surface, and it just doesn’t seem fair that life chose you to knock down when you were working so hard to get to where you were. So, let yourself cry. Do what they do in movies and wrap yourself up and cry. If the world is too much today, take a day off. But sooner or later, you’ll need to face it again. Shower, brush your teeth, put on that lipstick that makes you feel ten times better. Friends are fantastic; they bring food, hugs, tea, and compassion when you need it most. And if they’re really good friends, they’ll even throw in some tough love. But above all, start loosening to crutch from beneath you. Among some of my bigger mistakes in learning how to life, has been creating crutches out of people. Crutches are freaking brittle. You, however, are not. You are your crutch.

So yes, life may be shitting on you. But, that isn’t a good enough reason to sit there and take it forever. Accept the emotions, because they are valid. Understand that you feel disjointed and dismembered. But don’t let it bury you. Remember your ambitions, your zest for life, and wake up every morning thankful that you have the ability to achieve those.

Love and hugs,
Kerry

RIP Louise Rennison: “She was the unofficial author of my tweens.”

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Dear Readers,

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of author Louise Rennison earlier today. Louise Rennison; perhaps not the author you imagine an English Lit student would be most upset about, however, she is an author who I would have read at a pinnacle time in my life. She was the unofficial author of my tweens.

Louise Rennison may not have been one of the profound writers we come across as we get older, but she was there when we had nothing but books and films to teach us about life. She was one of the authors who dedicated part of her adult life to speaking to young people through books. She was there when you encountered your first crush, when you weren’t quite sure where you fit in in society, and when you experienced your first heartbreak.

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She created Georgia Nicolson, an average girl with a beyond-honest outlook on life. And we related to her on serious level. It was the first time I read a book where the girl wasn’t chosen simply because she was gorgeous – she was often the exact opposite of conventional beauty. Georgia was seen for her character, her goofy personality, and she even got it wrong a lot of the time. Much like we have, and will.

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It’s one of the first places we learned about “snogging”, and general attraction. Honestly, who here doesn’t owe their first kiss-success to the “snogging scale”?!

Between the ages of 13-15 if I was being kept awake by general teenage-isms, I turned to one of her books. No matter the issue – heartbreak, self-esteem, being a moody teenager, and genuinely believing that men were from Mars.

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While all of this emotion seems very extreme, when someone who was very attached to your childhood passes away, it brings to the surface all of those memories and emotions you experienced thanks to them. Here’s to Louise, the writer who shaped us from a young age, and here’s to our childhood, which seems so far in the past, and still so easy to tap into ❤

Kerry

Dear Males…

 

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Dear Males,

In light of recent events, it has come to my attention that some males feel they have been grouped into a stereotype they bear no relation to.

Dear males, it is not that we do not want to dance with you, it’s that the last male we let do that felt he then had a right to touch our bodies in ways we had not consented to.

Dear males, we’re sorry for those of you who have ever felt violated, it’s not that we want you to experience what some of us have, we just want you to understand.

Dear males, we’re sorry for the times you feel you weren’t given the chance to consent and nobody listened because you’re a man. You have every right to say no and mean it just as much as us.

Dear males, we’re sorry that it seems like you’re always being shamed by society. We know it’s not all males, we just can’t take chances.

Dear males, we’re sorry for seeming rude on the streets when we don’t salute you. We’ve been conditioned to keep our heads down when it’s dark after too many catcalls, or groups of men shouting at you when you’re alone.

Dear males, I am not going to apologise for what we have been through as a gender. I will, however, apologise for the repercussions it has had on the innocent ones. You’re not all bad, and we don’t want it to seem like that, but the conversations surrounding consent still need to happen.

I am not going to apologise, because I’ve comforted too many friends who have been taken advantage of, too many friends who have said “no” and all that was heard was “negotiate with me until I say yes”.

I am not going to apologise, because I’ve been told too many times that wearing revealing clothing will attract “unwanted attention”. I want to be able to wear what I want without the fear of someone taking it as an invitation to my body.

Dear males, please join in the conversation about consent and rape culture with us. The only way to move forward is to work it out together. We want to be able to socialise without the barriers that have formed over years of conditioning due to gender stereotypes. We need to talk.

Sincerely,
(most) Females.

Sincerely, A Confused Writer

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Dear Readers,

I have been thinking a lot over the last few weeks – mainly because that’s my main source of procrastination – about the title “blogger”, and all that is associated with it. I follow many bloggers on various social media platforms and the one that appears to dominate is trusty old Instagram. The blogger phenomena that has risen over the last few years, thanks to smartphones, has an extremely broad range of writers – beauty, fashion, travel, culture, food… But to name a few. Lately, I’ve been struggling to put myself into this category…

I’m generally quite inconsistent with posts, mainly because when I’m not trying to crawl my way through college, I’m napping, or trying to squeeze in a social life. Not only this, but I feel that with the “blogger” title comes a responsibility to platform my life in perfect snaps and daily anecdotes – something that is difficult to keep up with in a sea of thousands of others. I love make-up, but I’m no MUA, and I’m in no position to give tips when I blind myself on a daily with my liquid eye-liner. I love to share snippets of my life, but only those which I feel will be of any benefit to readers, like mental health or fitness. I imagine you have no interest of the inbetween moments of me drinking copious amounts of tea and running to lectures (running, always). I love to write, but only about the things I am passionate about (or think will give people a laugh when it comes to my life’s unfortunate incidents). For every writer this is different. The things that have often stirred me enough to write revolve around gender equality, mental health, and anything else that may jump out at me at any given moment. These are all inspired posts, something I cannot and will not force because it just ends up with a very disgruntled writer lying on her belly wondering why she can’t get one drop of a thought onto the page.

Where does this all leave me? I’m just an English student learning the best way to lay my thoughts out on a page in hopes of stirring some conversation, or even just a thought. So, this is my apology for being the world’s most inconsistent – *cough* lazy – “blogger”. I simply cannot whack out blog posts weekly that have been done one million times already because I want more from writing. Saying this, there are about three posts in my drafts at the moment being worked on continually, and I will continue posting when I can.

Until then,

Kerry x