Progress, Updates and Next Steps.

So it’s been a while again. This job hunting thing is taking up a fair bit of time.

But anyway, this is another short update on the blog, the YouTube channel and social.

The blog is still going to be getting updated and soon it’s going to be more regularly and more consistently! Same with the YouTube channel. I’m in the middle of editing episode 2 of the Invisible Illness Human Library. You should have a look at episode 1 if you haven’t done so already. Things are changing quite a bit though. Every month we’re going to be posting about a specific topic. Those topics aren’t ready to be revealed yet but there’s some really cool stuff coming!

Regarding YouTube, a wonderful wonderful update is that I’m not alone any more! A friend of mine Lily, pictured below, is going to be creating a video for us. If you guys watch and love her stuff she might even agree to make more for us! Lily is a cracking film maker and she’s an alright person too, I guess.

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Welcome to the crew, Lily! 

Regarding social media, Twitter and Facebook will be going up in June-ish. You’ll be able to follow us and like us soon so keep your eyes peeled for an announcement! This is all really exciting and I can’t wait to share the new and improved Success In Selflessness with you all!

A

Introverts, Extroverts And The Weird Ones In Between

So I’m up in Newcastle at the moment, staying with some friends over the next few days to catch up, relax and enjoy the city that I love so much. The people here that I’m visiting are amazing. I love them like they’re my own brothers and sisters. They ground me, lift my confidence and my spirits but are also not afraid to take me down a peg or two if I’m being a knob. They’re perfect friends. I met almost all of them through my old volunteering days and those are the days that made me do a whole lot of thinking.

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Seriously, look how majestic this place is. 

As I’m sure you’ve read in the title, I want to talk about the types of personality there are. Particularly introverts and extroverts. Now, a lot of people just think that extroverts are highly social party animals and introverts are recluses who don’t mix well with other human beings. Occasionally that can be true but I personally feel like it’s a little more complex than that.

I cannot for the life of me remember where I read it (it was most likely on a random post on Facebook) but the post said that extroverts get their energy from other people while introverts get their energy from themselves. I like this way of thinking about it. Extroverts are in their element when they’re around other extroverts and sometimes may struggle to spend extended periods of time in their own company. Introverts relish their time alone and that gives them a sense of comfort and contentment, but again, they may struggle when dropped in a large group setting.

Almost all the people who know me would consider me an extrovert. When I’m around people, I’m generally very chatty, I can be loud, brash and a little rowdy (especially after a few pints). I’ve always considered myself an introvert. It may be due to my mental ill-health, it may not be. I love my time alone. I make sure that I give myself time to just be with my thoughts or to do simple little things just for myself. Sometimes, if I’m already at home, I flat out won’t make plans so I can stay at home. When someone else cancels plans with me, I’m almost always pretty pleased about it as I can throw on my pajamas and watch a film. Obviously I’d have loved to have seen the person or else I wouldn’t have made the plans but cancelled plans just means I have more me time. I’m not even a fan of texting or calling people anymore. Like, I won’t flat out ignore anyone, but I’ll avoid checking my messages for a few days at a time.

Recently though, I’ve begun to think about myself as an ambivert. A nice balance between the two. At work I’m usually upbeat and lively, especially if I’m delivering a session/working with a large group. And even though my anxiety usually skyrockets and eventually leaves me physically and emotionally drained, for a short period, I get my energy from being around those people and working with them. But then as soon as I get home, I just want to eat, play some games and sleep with no more contact from the outside world.

I’m not sure if I’m making any sense right now as it’s 11pm and I’m half asleep, but to me, being an ambivert (or at the very least, moving from introverted to ambiverted) strikes a perfect balance. It’s what I’m working towards. I am not naturally extroverted, despite what others may say about me so I’m trying to learn to be that way. It’ll allow me to meet more amazing people, experience new things. I’m also trying to stay true to my introverted roots by allowing myself to shut away from the rest of humanity.

When I was volunteering, I was super introverted at first. I never approached anyone until I got to know them. There were 100 of us at a training weekend and that terrified me. I waited for people to approach me and was even more scared that no one would approach me. Luckily I attracted amazing people, the people I’m visiting right now. They managed to start pulling the extrovert out of me and I’m grateful for it. Without them I’d not be transforming into an ambivert and to be honest I’d probably be a proper hermit by now.

There’s nothing wrong with being either an introvert or an extrovert, but for me, I am really looking forward to being someone in the middle. It’s a fine line for me, but I’m prepared to walk that line if it means it’ll help me become a better, more rounded and braver person.

Also I need people to go see films with and eat nice food with. Mainly that.

A

A Short Update!

First things first, a really important update. Work on the Invisible Illness Human Library has officially got underway! I’ve started meeting with people who are interested in getting involved and have contacted my first potential venue. It’s not a massive start but it’s a start. It’s super exciting to be dipping my toes back into running events!

I’m currently also trying to recruit a little team to work with me on this project. First and foremost, the people with the stories!

For anyone who wants to be one of our “books” the main things we’re exploring about your stories are:
– Diagnosis
– Symptoms
– Highs and lows
– Organisations that have supported you
– Tips for people to support others with an invisible illness.

We’re looking for each person’s story to last between 5 and 10 minutes.

We’ll be doing a physical event (the human library bit) but I would also love to record your stories and upload them so that we can show that it’s okay to talk about invisible illnesses.

 

Next up, a little life update. It’s been a really tough couple of weeks recently. I’ve found myself feeling physically and mentally exhausted. Luckily, I’ve had lots of people very kindly making sure that I don’t lock myself away and wallow in my own mad mind! I also received the nicest, most thoughtful gift of all time. I was taken to see Eliza and the Bear which was absolutely amazing and then I was given an incredible, heartfelt card and this beautiful wooden Success in Selflessness guitar pick. It’s really hard to stress how important it is to have amazing friends around you. Try your best not to shut yourself away, even if you’re feeling extremely anxious or your depression is hitting hard. Even send a text to say hi to someone. It will help. I promise. 20161128_231753.jpg

A

3 Things I Appreciated This Past Week

Every day is not good, but there is something good in every day.

In turbulent times like these it’s really important that we learn to appreciate the people and the things in our lives that we’ve really appreciated. It’s often the little things that we overlook easily. I find it really useful to seek out these little things to make ourselves remain positive and to prevent us from becoming cynical and angry at the world.

While it may feel like hate has taken over the world, love still exists and it’s still a powerful thing. The quote above is a powerful one for me and I try to find that something good in every day. Here are some of the good things that I have experienced this week.

1. Reconnecting with an old friend and with music

Years ago, I met a girl at school and we chatted rarely and sang together once in the music room at school. We pretty much never hung out and never really spoke much but we recently reconnected after 8 long years and being thousands of miles apart. I knew very little about her when we were in school but the person she’s become is wonderful. Kind, fun, accepting, really flippin smart and also very talented. We got together and chatted, listened to music like the old days (like where you’d buy a few new CD’s and bring them round and listen to them together) and also sang together. This is the product of our re-connection! Mara, thank you for being you!

2. The kindness of strangers

So as you know, I’ve recently started making videos for this blog as well. If you don’t, check out the channel, watch some videos, subscribe (shameless plug, I know, video below). What I really appreciated though, was someone who was established as a YouTuber and someone who’s videos I watch every week, took the time out to watch some of my videos and give me feedback. She’s undoubtedly really busy and she still helped me out! She was in the last blog post and she remains one of the loveliest people online. So, thanks, Ana Marta!

3. My job

Tonight is my first night home for 3 days. I spent two days in St Helens and one day in Leicester. Leicester is the day I want to talk about though. I got to see where one of my young people had got to after knowing her for three years. She’d organised an event for 500 students to encourage them to get into STEM. She was confident, calm and assertive throughout the day. It was so wonderful to see what she’s achieved and how successful her project has become. I’m proud to do what I do and I’m so proud of her for supporting other young people who have been told they’re not good enough to get into STEM. They can and will and they’re going to pioneer innovative new ways to make the world a better place. 🙂

Hostile Takeover to Hospitable Communities: Thank You!

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, this year we had a referendum on whether or not the UK should stay a member of the EU. Sadly, we as a nation, decided to leave the EU. In the wake of that, racist, religious and homophobic attacks (physical and verbal) has increased drastically.

One group who have taken a lot of the brunt of this has been the Muslim community. They’ve been taking shit from people for years and years and have always responded with respect, dignity and love, even to those who are cruel and abusive to them. I have always loved and admired the Muslim community for how unconditionally caring they are and tried to help raise awareness about and demystify Islam with the help of some friends. You can read about that here.

Time and time again, they’ve shown me compassion, love and friendship when I need it most and when I’m, quite frankly, a terrible friend. And it’s not just me either. (Side note: I shouldn’t have to say this, but that doesn’t mean my other friends from other faiths aren’t equally as nice.)

Recently, some friends of mine took over my Facebook and posted that I’d converted to Islam. And while that wasn’t true, it did, once again show just how wonderful the Muslim community is.

While lots of my friends thought this was true, I had loads of calls from my Muslim friends. Every single one of them was so happy to hear that I had converted to Islam. I had to disappoint them all one by one but the love and acceptance they showed me while they thought it was true was incredible. They offered me help, invited me to their mosques, invited me for food and offered to teach me about Islam. They welcomed me into their community with no questions, no judgments and with positivity and love.

Even when I did my Fast for a Friend thing, one of my friends bought me dinner for iftar all the way from Bury. I was invited by so many of my friends’ friends to iftar at their houses. They were willing to welcome a complete stranger who wasn’t even Muslim, to eat with them and pray with them and learn with them during Ramadan. I even got a few tweets from SuperSaf showing support (one of my favourite tech YouTubers).

I am constantly blown away by the Muslim community and their welcoming nature. I really hope that you can experience Islam the way I have, from an outside perspective but with the same love that I’ve seen.

Do NOT let mainstream media and pieces of shit horrible people like Trump convince you that Islam is evil. The greatest threat to the world isn’t Islam. It’s horrible, closed minded, racist, religiously discriminatory people. They’re the greatest threat to the world.

I’m so grateful to my Muslim friends. You all teach me how to be a better person and I do not know what I’d do without you all. I’m going to try to spread as much joy and goodness as all of you. Thank you!

A

The Power of a Smile

I talk a lot about how the little things in life can really help people get through a day, a week, a year. It could be something as simple as a good song or bumping into an old friend or even something silly like tidying up the mini zen garden on your desk. All of these little things can make the tough days just that little bit easier and even though sometimes you don’t acknowledge them, they’re there if you look for them.

I made a new friend recently. For those of you who know me you know I’m not a huge fan of meeting new people. It often makes me feel physically sick. People often tell me that they’d never guess that I’m not a fan of meeting people because I seem so friendly and confident. Truth is, I’m just a very good actor. Meeting people, as I mentioned, makes me feel very sick. It makes me brain function at 1000mph and leaves me considering every single possible social interaction that we’d have in the next few seconds, minutes, hours and days.

However!

This particular person walked up to me with her friend (who I already knew and who all of this also applies to when I first met her) and came over beaming. Smiling like there wasn’t a thing wrong with the world and that made me feel significantly more at ease than when I saw her coming over.

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A simple smile made me feel significantly more comfortable with this new person. She came across as friendly and accepting. Luckily, she was actually friendly and accepting. She’s absolutely not the only person with a winning smile though. Most of the people I know and love greeted me with a smile. Whether it was at the first ever volunteering residential I went to (where I was unable to bring myself to approach anyone), at work or through other ways I’ve always had wonderful smiles around me to calm my nerves.

So I’d always encourage you to smile at that stranger you see on the train every morning, smile at your partners, your friends, your families. Whether it’s a polite smile, a toothy grin or a good ol’ hearty cackle it could be a huge thing. You never know when someone might need that small gesture of kindness.

If you’re in need of a smile, my glorious friends from all over the place have sent me photos (or let me trawl through their Facebook photos) and are here to provide a smile for you as they did for me.

 

Thank you to Jacqui, Deepan, Taz, Sarah, Zahrah, Amira, Jenny, Shaun, Emma, Rob, Victoria, Kate, Scarlett, Kishan, Cat, Zahra, Monet, Emmeline, Jack, John, Naomi, Amy, Katie, Louise, Reema, Sarah and Rosie and many many more for sending in photos, helping me to spread a little joy and for bringing so much joy into my life. I ended up receiving more photos than I could fit but here are just a small fraction of them!

Keep smiling, all.

A

A Successfully Selfless Sunday

So as many of you may have read, it was my birthday at the weekend and my friends and I thought we’d do something different this year. Every year I end up going to a bar, drinking more than is usually responsible and regretting life choices for a long time.

This year we planned something a little different. You can read about the plans here.

Due to some questionable planning on my part, we didn’t make it through the whole list, but what we did achieve made me really proud. Proud of myself for making such wonderful selfless friends. Proud of my friends and my family for being so willing to get stuck in and for giving up their Sundays to make other people smile. Proud of the public for not only taking part but paying it forward.

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Some of Carl’s best cards!

The main thing that we did for the day was writing out lots of positive, motivational and inspirational messages and hand them out to people along with a flower and a few chocolates.

I knew from the get-go that we weren’t going to change the world with this small act of kindness, but it brightened an otherwise very grey London day, for us and the people we were handing gifts out to.

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My beautiful team of volunteers for the day

One of the most exciting things that I’ve seen is that friends who live too far to join in in person carried out their own acts of kindness wherever they were as well. I’ve been getting letters, texts, messages from people all over the place telling me about their random acts of kindness for other people. You can see some of the examples below! One thing, that I know is the case for lots of my friends, is that these random acts of kindness aren’t unusual for them.

So many of my friends spend all their time and energy trying to make other people’s lives better but it’s really rare that a truly selfless person will list out all the things that they’ve done other people.

They rarely  get to see the impact that they have on the world and that breaks my heart a little bit. So my final birthday wish is for you to be a little bit selfish so that you can make sure to spread more selflessness. I wrote a whole post about it ages ago and it’s important to me that you recognise the amazing things and impact that you have on the people around you and the world.

Good deeds don’t always get recognised, but they deserve to be. Often they do, of course and that’s great. But sometimes people won’t notice that you’ve held a door open, or paid them a really nice compliment or helped them in any way.

So to all of my friends and family, the worlds teachers, campaigners, activists, doctors, engineers, youth workers, fast food servers, bus drivers and everyone in between, celebrate your contribution to the world, give yourself a pat on the back sometimes. If you’ve helped someone smile today, you deserve it. Kindness deserves recognition, even if it’s from yourself.

Recognition today goes out to all of my friends and family who helped me to spread some cheer. Those who came on the day, those who donated items for us to use, those who carried out their own acts of kindness in response to this all deserve my gratitude and appreciation, as well as all my birthday well wishers. You helped give me the perfect birthday!

Every act of kindness will be appreciated. I appreciate kindness wherever it’s come from. I want to celebrate kind acts that you’ve carried out. Comment them on here, or tweet me. Have yourselves a wonderful, kind week.

A