30.1.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.

Over the next couple of weeks I will have a series of interviews up here which have been conducted with young people under the age of 25 in an attempt to give young people the  space to express their opinions and indeed challenge the negative perceptions and stereotypes that some adults have of young people.
         

Interview No. 1



What’s your name? 

Aisling L
What age are you? 
21
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Celbridge
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 
I think at my stage in life stereotypes cease to exist or at least at the same capacity they once did. If I had to say a category I guess it'd be quirky/tomboy/computer geek.
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
I am who I am and embrace it thus why I am categorised as such I'm the outgoing quirky caring smiley tomboyish girl who's mad into computers and technology and typically male dominated sports (karate) and I wouldn't change that for the world.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
Karate, lifesaving, guitar, puzzles eg Rubik's cube solving, anything to do with computers, DIY, working on my car, helping out others and volunteering.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
I helped set up the Celbridge youth cafe, I volunteer down in my local pool teaching lifesaving, I try my best to lend a helping hand wherever and whenever I can.
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
I personally never really felt like I was put in a box at any point in time growing up as I felt I never actually fitted into one per say. I think if people just embrace who they are and run with it then the idea that they're confined to a stereotype is just that nothing more than an idea.

28.1.15

A spark of inspiration

I have to confess, when it comes to keeping resolutions I tend to be extremely motivated in the beginning and slowly but surly lose interest! That's not saying I have lost interest in blogging but I think my resolution to blog more was a bit optimistic seeing as its now been 3 weeks since my last post but moving swiftly on to the good news.... I have a new post for you, actually a number of new posts courtesy of a spark of inspiration I got when lying in bed feeling sorry for myself!

Leinster Schools Competition 2012
Athletics has been a huge part of my life since a very young age, ever since I can remember I have been a member of Celbridge A.C, competing in track & field and believe it or not cross country too (I never competed in cross country by choice as such!) It has always been very much a family affair, for a time my dad was a coach, my mum was involved in fundraising and helping out anywhere she could and then there was my brothers and me, the athletes of the family, a walker, a sprinter and a thrower! But as with most things as we age sports can have less of an importance in our lives and soon enough Shane (the walker) slowly began to fade out of the club, pursuing other interests and moving on with his life. Paul and I were still very much involved with athletics until again it was time for Paul to begin to move on with his life, his college timetable and work schedule had a huge part to play in that and soon Paul (the sprinter) began to fade out of the club too but not before trying his hand at coaching! He too is a qualified Level One athletics coach.


As I said above I never really faded out of the club, Ive missed training sessions, I've considered giving up athletics and I did have a long stint where I was in a position to go to athletics (my time in hospital) but over the past year maybe two years my training has declined and I have moved from being just an athlete to an athlete and a coach. I love coaching there,s no doubt about that and like everything it has its ups and downs. Nothing compares to the feeling you get when an athlete or athletes you coach cross the finish line winning a medal they have worked hard for, nothing beats the appreciation you get from your athletes and nothing can ever be on the same par as when you see an athlete smile and laugh at a training session, knowing that you are contributing to their enjoyment and engagement with the sport on some level.

But last Tuesday, Paul (the sprinter) started back training, not back to his 3 times a week as in the past but once a week due to other commitments. It was when I watched Paul sprint around the track I realised I too miss training. I have still been training since I started coaching, there have been some Sunday morning training sessions, some weekday training sessions, there have been plans to improve my fitness and training plans have been made but to be honest I haven't been able to get back into the swing of things. When I saw my brother running I suddenly found myself missing training even if I did have to do sprints of 120 meters. I realised I miss being part of a group, I miss the socialising, I miss the fun, I miss the feeling of exhaustion after a hard training session which also makes you feel really good and I miss throwing on a regular basis!

I want to go back to training every Tuesday and Thursday night but not at the expense of my coaching and I know I'm not willing to give up my coaching, not after working hard to ensure I qualified as a coach and because I can't let the young people I coach down, its not something I'm willing to do. No matter how small a part I play in the lives of those young people, a coach, someone to talk to, someone to listen or even possibly someone to look up to I'm not willing to sacrifice that in order to fulfil my own wants and desires to go back to training full time. I think if I have learned anything over the past couple of weeks while seeing my brother train is that I am more determined to make my own training plan, ensure I train during the week, improve my fitness levels and get back to competing and not just competing for the sake of it but competing to get new PB's.

So while I miss being part of the training group on Tuesday and Thursday evenings I know I'm part of much more as a coach, I'm a coach, an athlete, a first aider, a friend and if there is one thing that I know for sure and something that has never been challenged it is that I know I belong with Celbridge Athletic Club




8.1.15

Photo of the day. :)

Lilo is well and truly the queen of the house, gets everything she wants when she wants, sleeps where she wants when she wants and does what she wants when she wants. Yes I spoil my dog but I wouldn't have it any other way because she does nothing but make me happy.

7.1.15

All things come to an end

This evening it was announced by the current organisers of the Blog Awards Ireland that they will no longer be organising the event. The organisers, two fantastic women, Amanda and Lorna today wrote about how it was time to bring the awards to an end. I have to say this was a sad moment for myself as the blog awards have been something that has had huge importance in my life. Over the past 4 years my blog has made it to the final, 3 of those years I attend the awards, the first year however it was not organised by Amanda and Lorna but the following two years were. It was with great disappointment that I could not attend last years awards but I followed very closely on twitter and was kept updated with a minute by minute account of the awards!

Every year for the past 3 years I have looked forward to the blog awards, I'm excluding the first year on account of it being run by different people and it being know as the Irish Blog Awards as opposed to Blog Awards Ireland. I would really hard on my blog, especially coming up to the time the nominations would open, I'm not going to lie, I wanted to be nominated because it’s a great achievement and it gave me a sense of pride. It’s like being part of an online community but with the added advantage of getting to meet the people offline too! The blog awards also helped me focus on my blog, it helped prevent me from letting it fall to pieces, I know the last few months haven't been great but that was for different reasons. I wanted to make it to the final, I wanted to have a good blog and most importantly I wanted my blog to get recognised for two reasons, 1) because I wanted my story to be shared so people would be given a glimpse of hope when they're going through a tough time and 2) because I have worked hard on my blog over the years, content wise anyway, I'm not all that great with the design side of things.

Getting to the final was always a huge achievement for me and going to the awards always brought a sense of pride and happiness. The atmosphere was always something else at the blog awards, it was something magical in many ways, it was unique. The best thing about the blog awards was without a doubt the amazing people that were there! Below is a video of me winning the award for the Best youth Blog in 2012 and notice the two people sitting directly opposite the camera, we (my family and I) actually had no idea who they were but there were amazing and even just the support that they gave me during the night was pretty awesome! Excuse my lack of a speech because well I guess I didn’t learn from the first year!


Not only were the people amazing, it was pretty cool to actually get to meet some of the people behind the blogs I love so much. Making connections, getting hints and tips and really just getting to know people in person and not just from their blogs was great. The one thing I will miss most about the blog awards is that it is the only place I have ever been where it is socially acceptable to tweet while eating your dinner and not tweeting was a bit odd!

The Blog Awards Ireland were without a doubt the highlight of my year for the past 3 years and while it’s a shame to see it come to an end I would like to say a huge thank you to Amanda and Lorna, both women have bone a fabulous job in the organising and running of the event of the past 3 years. It has been superb and there not nights I will soon forget, from playing human angry birds to racing on stage with odd shoes they awards have been fun filled, entertaining and filled with enthusiasm all through the night. So while I will miss the competition, meeting new bloggers and the fun of designing my own name tag and dancing with random people I am glad to have those memories and I am glad to have got the chance to meet Amanda and Lorna and no doubt meet them again in the future!

5.1.15

Photo of the day. :)

Some moments last a life time and swimming with dolphins with my family is one of those moments. After two of the hardest years of my life, spending time in hospital and doing my leaving cert, swimming with dolphins on a family holiday made me forget everything and really live in the moment.

4.1.15

You're going crazy!

I was recently watching a documentary on Netflix about bipolar disorder and during the documentary a young women mentioned how a friend told her she was going crazy which then led to her questioning what it means to go crazy. As many of you know I don't agree with labels, especially labels placed on people suffering from mental health issues and by labels I am not referring to a diagnoses such as Borderline Personality Disorder because personally when I was diagnosed, not straight away but with time, I found myself being relieved to have this name, knowing that what was I was feeling and my self-destructive actions were caused by something, I just felt better having something to identify with as it allowed me to focus on treatment options and inevitably work towards recovery. When I speak about labels I speak about those that feed into stigma, those that cause more harm than good and those that cause many people to hide how they are feeling and not seek help when needed, I speak about labels such as crazy, nutter, loony and so many more. Having myself been subjected to bullying as a result of my mental health issues I have an obvious dislike for labels which contributed to the beginning of Label Jars Not People but in all the years I have struggled with mental health issues it is only now after watching this documentary that I have ever thought about what it means to go crazy.

So what does it mean to go crazy? I spoke to some friends, done some googling and self-reflection and to be honest I struggled to come up with a well-formed answer that makes sense. 

My first port of call with trying to develop an answer to this question was to ask to close friends of mine. One friend spoke about it being in relation to people who are out of the social norm or medically when a person is totally out of control of their life while another friend spoke about it being an expression rather than an actual thing and people use it when referring to something someone is doing which can be considered dramatic. Next I turned to Google which presented me with more questions rather than answers, however these questions then contributed to my own self reflection as to what it means to go crazy.

I thought about this for some time, I thought about what it really means to me and I also thought about whether or not the truth in this situation was suitable to share on my blog but after some time I came to the following conclusion:

I sometimes think of myself as crazy, I sometimes fall into a trap where I remember being admitted to hospital and when people found out being called crazy and I believed them, I believed that I had gone crazy. I believed that cutting myself are me crazy, I believed that feeling suicidal made me crazy and I believed feeling the way I was feeling, sad, lonely, hopeless all made me crazy but that I was then, that was when I had people telling me I had gone crazy but now what do I believe going crazy means? I now believe crazy means living on the edge, doing all those things you never thought you would, doing the things that scare you half to death. I don't think of crazy in relation to mental health, yeah I hear it all the time but I choose not to let it define me, and every once in a while when I do see myself as crazy its because I've gone and done something that scares me half to death that I never imagined possible. I remember saying to myself in Florida that I must have been crazy to go on some of the roller-coaster because they made me cry due to fear, I wasn't crazy because of my mental health issues, I was crazy because I did something I never thought I would do, I did something that scared me so much I cried and most importantly I was crazy because I let go of everything and went for it. I dont think of crazy in a negative light anymore and I certainly don't see crazy as being a way to describe someone with a mental health issue.

So if you think going crazy is a way to describe a person with a mental illness I will challenge you, question you and encourage you to change your thinking but if you believe crazy or going crazy is doing things that scare you, put the fear of God into you or living your life to the full not letting things stop you then I agree with you, support you and wholeheartedly hope you find the courage to go a little crazy!

3.1.15

Photo of the day. :)

Almost four years now since my school trip to Poland, it was truly a once in a lifetime trip. Not only was the country amazing, the food, sights everything was amazing but so too was the company I was in! I have never felt so comfortable being away from home, If I could do it all again it would be with the same amazing people!

2.1.15

New Years Resolutions

I'm not one for making new years resolutions and should I feel the need to they are usually unrealistic and most certainly unattainable but this year is different and not in the sense that it is going to be a new year, new me kind of thing but in the sense that I want more from life and now is as good a time as any to try and achieve my goals. 

Doing something I never usually do I have come up with a short list of new years resolutions all of which are attainable should I committee 100% to achieving them. These new years resolutions are much more than just words on a piece of paper, more than just thoughts swimming around in my head, they are things that will contribute to me beginning to find out who I really am, they will allow me to continue to seek out my potential to live a happy healthy life and most importantly they will allow me to work on living my life to the best of my ability. Now in saying that some of these resolutions are just things I would like to do to improve things like my writing but all in all they all somehow contribute to me living a life that is worth living!

No.1 is the most important in my opinion. After surprising my friends by arriving at a house part on new years eve something which I don't usually do, something which often scares me and something which I avoid on the account of the present of alcohol consumption being at a maximum, I found I actually enjoyed myself. I really did. Not wanting to go originally but somehow finding the courage to go, I went, spent longer than expected and I actually really enjoyed myself. So on account of my friends being so supportive, patient and committed to our friendship I have realised I too need to me 100 % committed to our friendship. So my number one new years resolution is to initiative conversations and activities with my friends and just spends time with them and be the friend I once was!

No.2 DBT, having started the 6-month therapy programme designed to teach me how to cope in a more positive way other than self-harm in September I was committed to the programme. Unsure in the beginning, especially around the group work aspect of the programme but I knew that if I ever wanted to live a life free from self-harm I had to do it. Beginning in September I was motivated, not exactly 100% motivated but motivated enough to turn up to each session on time, complete any homework given and motivated enough to make an effort. However as the weeks went by my motivated decreased, I'm not really sure why but it did and attending the group session once a week became more of a chore than anything else. I was late a number of times and even missed a group session and eventually I got to the point where I considered dropping out altogether. With the help of my individual therapist, and by help I mean influence because she played a huge part in my decision in a positive way, she encouraged me to see out the end of the programme and that is what I have decided to do. It finishes in March with this next module being important for me to help me with my interpersonal skills I have made it a new years resolution to try and give the remaining time on the programme 100%, I made a commitment, and I need to follow through with it.

No.3 Get back into the swing of blogging. Last year my blog was lacking in content, I went from posting almost every day in 2013 to posting maybe once a week in 2014 with now posts at all from October to the end of December. My blog is a space for me to express myself and share my story with mental health issues with the aim of showing others that things do get better, I may not always be extremely positive but I feel that my blog is a positive space. I’ve missed writing, I really have so this year I'm hoping for a post a day, be it a written post or a photo it is my goal to have a post a day. Not only do I want to write everyday I want to ensure that my blog is more than just an online diary for me, I want it to be a resource for people, especially young people goring through a tough time but I also want it to be inclusive, I'm hoping that having achieved resolution No.1 I might have more everyday kind of posts

I have a few other little resolutions, things like eating better, spending more time training not just coaching, reading more to improve my use of language but the three resolutions are the most important. I also don't want to have to many otherwise I won't be able to achieve them all. 

So you know what my resolutions are, what are yours? 
 

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