Friday, January 25, 2019

The Sensitive Brain

Hey, Dragonflies! 

So I'm on a bit of a typing high - I just wrote a whole essay in a day and don't want to stop the writing process. Being a student is weird, I swear. One day you can't find motivation even if someone offers you a million dollars, the next it's like work is your favourite thing to do because it just feels so productive! 

In any case, I posted a poll on my Instagram this morning about whether or not people would like to see me write a post about mental health. I had a lot of voters and 100% approval, so let's get to it shall we? 

This is cheesy but I had it in stock from a book I read so yeah!

So why talk about mental health? 

Because it affects everyone. Not just those of us who went to see a professional to figure out why we feel different, or those who have more serious issues. If you don't have a mental thing, it's likely that you know someone who does. If you do, you (hopefully) told your family, a trusted friend, or anyone who can sit and listen when needed. (I strongly suggest you do so if you haven't, it truly helps!). 

Many people see mental health as a big, scary topic. I hope that one day it becomes more approachable, and that more people will know how to help each other in this case. 

What do you think about mental health in literature?

If it's done right, I love it.  A recent favourite has been The Shock of the Fall, by Nathan Filer, about schizophrenia. However, one of my least favourite books of 2018 was Finding Audrey, about (mostly) social anxiety. 

I always think that authors are brave to take it as a subject, and always appreciate it. But I do understand why it receives a lot of dislike, especially from people who hoped to see themselves within the book, especially when it's romanticised. 

OK, sure, but why would you talk about it specifically?

Uhm, because it affects me too? I know that I am way too sensitive - I'm not talking about being someone who can 'sense the universe' or who 'finds things so beautiful she starts crying' - forums about highly sensitive people drive me crazy with people who say that it's a blessing to feel the souls of those around you. I swear some people on them get it, others seem to disregard people's discomforts just to tell the that 'sensitivity is a blessing, other people don't get the chance to see the world as we do!'

I'm sorry to those who think that, but HS sucks. 

On a bad day, sounds will be too loud, and colors too bright. Light will give me headaches, and then the overthinking starts. It can be about anything - am I making the right choices at uni, am I in over my head... those sorts of questions. It usually makes my day grey and tiring. Yesterday was a a bad day for this. 

However, today is an awesome one! Since it started becoming a problem, it's kind of fluctuated day to day, to the point where I'm not super sure what controls it anymore, aside from the fact that a trigger can make it go from 'meh' to bad just as easily as it can go from 'fine' to absolutely incredible! 

I also feel strong emotions stronger than I would like on such days. It has happened where a minor inconvenience sent me into rage, or a super good day gave me so many good vibes that I was so happy that I couldn't sleep. (It's weird I know!) Saying bye to people always takes me a moment more than it should and some books and movies hit my soul like a ton of bricks. As one of my friends helped me phrase it a few days ago, I tend to see things like exams and socialising as a hurdle, when it's just something normal to do. 

Most of the time I'm fine and I don't feel crazy. There's just some days where my sensitive brain gets the better of me. Thankfully they don't often build up, they're quite separate :)

Oh that doesn't sound fun... 

It's not, but it's doable. I'm not here to complain, I'm here to lay out the facts and feels. I sometimes get comments like 'maybe you're overreacting' and 'you need to take the time to relax'. And lately that has struck me as something I need to work on. (Yes, I know you guys have been saying it for months, but these months have been hella busy with school!) So, I decided to work on it. 

Thus, I made myself a plan. I'm calling it Operation Chill. It's a 7-'step' plan, which I won't totally elaborate on here, but I can show you a bit of it. 

1. Stop procrastinating priorities, just get things done
5. Breaks are good when they're well-taken
6. Emotions will fluctuate, don't try to stop them, but just breathe

Do you think that will help?

I don't know! Hopefully it will! I wrote it all down and have it up on my wall as a reminder. Just a list of 7 little things I can work on to make my daily life easier and less over-think-y! 

So what's the point of all of this? 

I'm no expert on how to deal with brain stuff. But just formulating a plan for how to appreciate things has helped me feel like all of this mess that's been bothering me for a year or so can be resolved. I was hoping that this little text might help people see that they're not alone in this mess of mind. I believe that there are ways for people to feel better even if it's just writing a list. 

Mental health spans many levels, types and degrees. It should always be taken seriously. 

I wanted to write this out because a, I wanted to write a blogpost and b, writing this stuff out helps me clear out my thoughts. They've been good today, but I've found that typing it out makes it clear longer! Does that make sense? 

Anyway, the comments or my email is a perfectly safe place if you want to talk - this is also the case for my instagram messages. I will always listen and do my best to help <3 

Stay bookish! 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, by Cassandra Clare et al

Hello, Dragonflies! 

I just finished reading all of the Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy novellas! This review will be spoiler-free and quite short, so easy to read :) 

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fireleft him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

I haven't read a Shadowhunter book in a little while now, but it was so refreshing to go back into this world! 

In this series of novellas, we follow Simon as he goes through his training to become a Shadowhunter, while learning life lessons from various people from various eras. This helps him grow immensely, and proved to be a true emotional rollercoaster! 

These novellas were written by Cassandra Clare with the help of 3 other authors - Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman. I really liked the fact that you could hear the style of the other authors just as much as you could hear Cassie's voice. Now I didn't like each novella equally - some were a drag to read while others caught me in such a way that putting the book down for any reason felt like a betrayal - but all together, they formed an awesome whole that is a true to-read for any fan! 

However, I think it's best to read this after TMI and TID, but before TDA. TDA definitely spoils these Novellas! 

The Shadowhunters series has some characters that mean the world to me - the TID trio, Jace and Alec (and of course Simon!) are all ones that I particularly liked reading about, and having them back in all of their glory was incredible! A story centred on Alec and Magnus made my heart absolutely melt, I was so happy for them! 

When I read a book - old or new - by Cassie Clare, there's a feeling of homecoming. It's super comfortable to know the characters inside-out, to know their stories and to be able to feel the emotions they do. I don't have many authors that have this effect on me, one other is Rick Riordan, but most other authors don't have the same effect. I thought authors like Sarah J Maas might be like that, but for now the closest competitor is, for sure, V.E. Schwab! 

I'm going to leave this review here, I hope all is well and that 2019 started off the way you wanted it to! 

I gave this book a 4/5 feathers! 

Stay Bookish, 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Why I Reset my Instagram

Hello, Dragonflies !

2019 is a new year. 


I'm not one of those people who'll flaunt around promising 'new year new me!' to everyone I can. But I do take it as an opportunity to check back on my past year, it's good times and mistakes, and to see what I should keep doing, and what I should try to change. 

Some of these changes are slow: they might start in the spring, or only happen once a week (eg sports). But some changes can be more immediate. 

For the past few months, I had found a sort of frustration when it came to one of my favourite platforms - Instagram. 

Now I luuurve coming up with photos for my instagram page and meeting people who has the same passion for books as I do. I had over 3 years of experience and more than 6000 followers. I had made a lot of friends and it became a steady hobby of mine. 

But in the past months, I noticed some changes. It wasn't fun anymore - I became tied to numbers when I really didn't want to be, because one thing confused me like you would have no idea. 

That out of 6000 followers, only about 200 would only ever see what I posted. That's about 3%. And I kept trying to work to increase that because, if 6000 people decided they liked my photos, then why were only 3% of them seeing what I did? 

Now I never did this for the numbers, but in the end, I used them as a way to figure out how to progress in my hobby. Soon after some analysis, I started finding things I definitely did not like about my 'position'. 

The Algorithm
I see you people shivering in fear of the simple word. Whether you're a youtube fanatic or instagram lover, you would have heard about the algorithm changes, making it impossible for some content to go recognised - some accounts get thousands of followers in a few months, while others with comparable quality go unnoticed. And once people think they found a way to counter it, it changes again. It's maddening. 

Follow For Follow
This one drove me nuts. People tend to approach you and ask for you to follow them, for you to 'gain their follow'. Sorry but screw that! If I like your content I'll follow you. If you like mine follow me if you want. What is this new bribery game that people think works? It's just like following and unfollowing within 2 hours to 'be noticed'. I just want to see what I want to see on my feed, guys! 

The Loop
I wrote about this in one of my posts. We're all stuck in a loop of trying to make photos that'll 'make it', all while trying to figure it out, day by day. 

So what I did...
I didn't want to be stuck in this loop anymore. I wanted to post what I wanted when I wanted, no matter the colours or 'obligations' that come with responsibilities like being a rep. I didn't want to obsess over why none of my numbers matched up. 

I downloaded an Instagram cleaner app, which showed me all of the 'dead' accounts. I unfollowed/blocked and unblocked over 2000 people that way. A few months later, I checked for ghost accounts - all but about 300. 

After 3 years, I wasn't even surprised. I had lost motivation at this point and it showed in my photos. 

So I deleted my account, and re-started it from scratch. 
I completely got rid of everything that was once Just Another Bookish Blog on Insta. I re-opened an account a day or so later, and have been posting what I want whatever I want. You can find it at @justanotherbookishblog_

I'm really really happy with this decision! It's become a lot more casual for me to take photos when I want of what I want - I have lots and lots of backup so on busy days I can just decide not to post or to just work with those. I have some friends who re-followed me but otherwise I've been meeting a whole new audience with who I can fangirl! 

I can do whatever the hell I want, and it feels great! 

Since I re-started, I have noticed some changes... 

- In my attitude - I honestly barely check for likes or follows anymore, but for comments and other forms of real communication! I've met some cool people this way! 

- In my quality - I've only been posting photos I'm either very proud of or that I can say a lot about and it makes it all soooo much easier to post!  

- In my motivation - doing something because you want to is a lot more entertaining and personally rewarding than doing it because it's 'routine'! 

So that's my little ramble about my recent Instagram changes. Some aspects might sound counter-intuitive, but all in all I am glad I made this choice :) 

Stay bookish! 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

2018 review, 2019 wishes

Hello, Dragonflies, and Happy New Year! 

I hope that 2019 bright you and your loved ones a lot of joy, and, if any major difficulties come your way, I hope it gives you the strength to come out the other side of these difficulties stronger :) 

2018 brought a lot of ups and downs and was, generally, a complicated year. With two moves, the end of a degree, family occurrences, the start of a new degree, writing a thesis, finding out about HSP... It's been quite a ride! I barely managed my Goodreads goal of 40 books (most of which were re-reads!), but I took more time to purely enjoy the reading process. 

I know I'm late to the new year bandwagon. We've had a lot of people over! But I still wanted to take a little bit of time to wish you all good things in 2019! 

For this year, I've set myself a Goodreads goal of also 40 books. There will still be many re-reads, because I find a certain comfort in them when times are crazy. I want to read more books that I choose for myself as well. This means there will most likely more talk of  books that are not YA - I have some general fantasy books and some nonfiction high up on my TBR for 2019! I'm currently reading the Trials of Apollo and am loving them, so I might also just purely binge all things Rick Riordan! 

I'm not going to set any big reading or blogging goals. Sure I want to blog more often, as there is something wholly therapeutic about writing thoughts and opinions down in this way. But I don't want it to become a pressure like Instagram became at the end of the year. I'm going to start posting what I want to post, rather than try to follow a schedule of any sort. 

However, I do want to do one thing this year, and that is to spend more time on my other hobbies. This has been difficult for travel and weather purposes - archery is difficult when the only day the range is open is on Saturdays during which you usually visited friends. But most of my friends will be gone across Europe for the rest of the academic year, so I'll be travelling less. I want to shoot more and get better. I want to take the time to bake cakes and take care of myself by doing the things I enjoy. Some things I want to take up include better photography and nail art! 

2019 has already introduced me to some things I'll be facing: full-time internships, operations for people I care for, and some of my best friends leaving to study abroad... but I'm going to do everything to make the best of every moment I have. 

And finally, I need to learn to just do it. Stop putting things off, or hesitating, or being scared of mathematics that come across some of my courses. I need to reduce my hesitations this year. 

Well this ended up being more of a diary entry than anything else! 

Do you have any specific goals you want to achieve this year? 

Stay bookish!