Battling The Beast: Throwing Myself Into A Fight With Social Anxiety

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I am a hermit who is battling social anxiety, everyone who knows me personally knows that. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I really love to write. So few weeks ago when I got a Facebook notification that there was a writing workshop in town I got excited and signed up to attend but later the nerves started to set in. I would have to actually leave the house and interact with people, scary! I almost flaked a million times but my husband strongly insisted that I get out of the house and go. He even canceled a work meeting just so he could stay home with the kids.

So, I put on my blackest, most inconspicuous clothes and went on my way. I thought maybe I could blend in with the background and no one would call on me to introduce myself. So I arrive at the college where the workshop was being held. Of course I get lost inside, I have the worse sense of direction and of course I don’t ask anyone for directions because I didn’t want to look like a dunce. So I just wander around and finally see a girl that looks like the one who scheduled the workshop going inside of a classroom and follow her inside.

Inside I say a general hello to the group of about ten and pick a seat on the row with the least amount of people in it and eavesdrop on the conversation that a few people were having. God, being an introvert sucks. Anyway, the workshop conductor, let’s call her Lisa, begins as a few more people walk in and get situated. She begins by telling us to put the photos we brought on the table in groups by category. Then she says the most horrifying thing an awkward introvert could ever hear. “Ok everyone, let’s take turns introducing ourselves.” I could feel the sweat pooling underneath my pits.

The first person stands up to introduce himself. Ah shit. The second person stands up. Fuck! Everyone stand to introduce themselves so obviously I have to do the same. Why were these people trying to ruin my life?! All I wanted was to sit there and ball my fists together tightly and attempt normality but no, let’s everyone stand and talk. Ok fine. My turn comes and I stand and blurt out, “Hi, I’m Nadia and I write for a hobby.” and quickly sit down. Shitshitshit! “For a hobby?!” I should have said AS a hobby! So yeah…I’m pretty sure everyone realized then that I’m a shitty writer because I can’t even speak properly. So I just sit there and obsess while I listen to everyone else’s perfect introductions.

Afterwards Lisa tells us all to stand up and do some stretches because a relaxed body is a relaxed mind…or something like that. I awkwardly and halfheartedly do the stretches. Next Lisa tells us all to go and get two photographs of the people, two of the objects and one of the locations. We all clumsily climb over each other and return to our seats. I noticed then that the class is completely packed and some people are sitting on the floor. The girl sitting next to me, Farrah (not her real name) kicks off her shoes, digs around in her bad and throws a couple of aluminum foil wrapped sandwiches on the desk. She asks if anyone wants one, I do but I say nothing. I just stare at her from the corner of my eye wishing that I could be so cool and open with everyone.

The main exercise for the workshop was basically to write about the people, places and things in the photographs.  My pen flew across the paper and I wrote whatever came to mind. For the most part I was just dicking around because It had been so long since I’d done free-writing without a plan. I’ll link what I wrote [here].

When the time was up Lisa asked if anyone wanted to share what they had written. The first was a middle-aged English professor. She said even though she was an English professor she didn’t really have a talent for writing. As I was listening to her read her work I looked down at my own paper and inwardly cursed myself for not taking my writing seriously because her work was incredibly brilliant. The next volunteer read their work, brilliant. The next, brilliant. The next, bone chilling and brilliant! Godfuckingdammit! I was in a room full of genuine, raw talent and felt like crawling in a hole and dying, just me and my inadequacy.

“Anyone else?”, Lisa asked as I shrunk down in my seat  and adjusted my glasses pretending not to hear her. No one else volunteered. As she closed the lesson she mentioned that she a few others were going to a nearby bar to hang out and talk a while and that anyone interested could join. I really wanted to but I told myself that i needed to hurry back home to the husband and kids. Really I just felt a bit shy and awkward so I just packed up my stuff and left without saying goodbye to anyone. I see how that came off rude especially since I didn’t even thank Lisa. I wish I had gone out with them now. Social anxiety really does suck.

I’m trying my best to overcome it though. I’ve been speaking more to the other parents at the kid’s school. Just small talk, I really hate small talk but baby steps, right? I’m even considering holding my own creative writing workshop. I guess it makes me feel a little better when I’m in charge of the situation. I think I can make this work and I’m super excited about it!

 

My First Adult Writing Workshop

I attended my first writing workshop as an adult a few weeks ago. I began my love affair with the written word when I was thirteen years old and signed up for an after school poetry slam team. After middle school ended and the team disbanded I continued to write on my own but have never attended any sort of group writing since.

In this particular workshop we had to bring six photographs with us, two photos of a person, two of an object and two of a place. When I got to the workshop the conductor told us to place all of the photos on a table in their separate categories. She then told us to choose two photos of the people, one of the places, and one of the objects. After we had chosen our photos we had to free-write and incorporate each of the photos into whatever we decided to write. I chose a photo of a blond girl wearing a huge haute couture coat, a geeky looking guy with curly hair and glasses, a notebook and an aerial photo of the inside of a cafe. Here’s my work.

A.

 

I sat there in the warm cafe waiting. The manager is going to think I’m crazy for wearing this goddamned winter coat to my first day of work. Hell, he’ll think I’m stupid anyway once he finds out I lied on my job application. Hmph, five years experience, I’ve never worked a day in my life.

“Anna Wintour?”, a tall, lanky man approached me. He was dressed in a crisp white shirt and severely creased black slacks. I almost snorted at the contradiction. I may have a heavy wool coat on in the middle of spring but it’s called fashion. I know my fashion and I definitely know that if you’re going to wear a nice, clean, crisp shirt then you should also put the same care into the rest of your outfit. My father died in a car accident while driving to a hotel to meet his mistress. A mistress who my mother and I never ever knew existed until she showed up at his funeral. I remember like it was yesterday. Father’s mistress arrived to the funeral wearing the exact black gown that Gloria Swanson wore in Tonight or Never. The only thing I could think at that moment was not of my father’s corpse lying in the closed coffin but of the mistresses outfit and saying to myself, “One day, I will look like that.” I can’t remember her name but can remember what she wore clearly.

“You can put your uh…coat in the back. Here put on this apron, we have customers waiting.”, the lanky manager said snarkily, breaking me out of my memories. I wanted to address his tone but I remembered that mom wasn’t paying my bills anymore so I forced a smile and did what he said.

 

D.

“One large cappuccino, please.”, I tole the barista and I placed exact change on the counter. I glanced around the cafe to find a good place to sit and write and I waited on my drink to be made. This place was notorious for taking forever to make drinks. There were plenty of seats outside but it was drizzling a bit and chilly , even for the middle of spring. I planned to write Emily a letter while I sat with my drink and there was no way I’d risk getting my notepad wet. She’d think I had been crying over it or something.

“Cappuccino for Dan?”, the barista called out my order snapping me out of my thoughts. As I grabbed my drink my hand brushed against hers. She was cute. I wondered what he body looked like naked under that apron. I shrugged to myself as I turned and back over to my chosen table by the window. Sitting down I cracked open my notepad and began my letter to Emily.

Dear Emily, I can’t believe I ever liked you. I would have loved you forever but you just had to destroy everything. Your a fuckin bitch! I have been trying to be with you for the past year and all you did was constantly friendzone me! Who was there to help you move into your new place? Me! Who brought you lunch to work because you you were too busy to go yourself? Me! I was there for you when no one else wasn’t and you go and fuck Brian?! I hope you both get herpes, fuck you!

You cunt,

David

There, short and sweet. Satisfied I folded the letter, carefully placed it in the envelope from my pocked and wrote Emily’s name on the front surrounded by hearts.

My Natural Hair Journey: Month 1-5

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This was me last summer in all my long-haired, relaxed glory. I’m not one of those women who decided to go natural because of some big movement or because my relaxed hair started breaking off. I’ve been relaxing my hair for 17 years and I absolutely loved it. It continued to grow long and thick and never failed me. I’ve only gotten my hair relaxed at a hair salon once ever in my life and that was my very first at the age of 13. My dad decide to get my two sister’s and I relaxed for the first time one weekend. However, I’ve been generally doing my own hair since age 11 because my mom was not very hair savvy at all. I don’t do hair salons because I don’t like the idea of a person who doesn’t know me or my hair touch, cut, dye, fry, etc my hair. That and the countless horror stories I’ve heard. Namely the ones about going to the salon for a trim and the stylist cutting several inches off.

So…I got my last relaxer on Christmas Eve 2014. On Jan 25, 2015 I was ready to touch up my new growth (yes, I touched up my roots about every month or so). Looking in the mirror and combing my hair through I thought to myself, “Hmm, wonder what would happen if I just let it grow.” And so I did. Instead of putting that relaxer in I decided cut off two inches (don’t know why I did that), flat-twisted my hair and went to bed. These are the results of my twistout the next morning.20150125_111538

 

Every few days over the next month I continued to flat twist my hair at night because I just absolutely loved the look. However I noticed something that I didn’t like. While twisting my hair wet my natural hair held strong but the relaxed part kept tangling really badly and I noticed the telltale snapping sounds (my relaxed hair breaking off) as I detangled it with my fingers mid-twist! Oh HELL no! So…when I noticed this I came up with a solution. Twist/braid my hair dry, tie off the ends, spray generously with water, smooth on leave in conditioner, roll ends up with flexirods or perm rods. Worked like a charm, no more of my precious hair breaking! 😀

Feb 21, 2015, wash day! For the first time I noticed my hair growth, I had little S’s and O’s! I was beginning to get excited.20150221_173228

 

After my wash I  set my big chop date for  New Years Day 2016. I also decided that I was going to gradually cut off an inch of relaxed hair with every inch I grew out. That way the big chop wouldn’t be so traumatizing for me. This day I cut off another inch. Next I flat ironed my hair for the first time since starting my transition. It didn’t even last an hour because I’d started to sweat. Total fail.20150224_110616

 

*sigh* It was good while it lasted.

Mar 20, 2015 I decided to try to flexirod my whole head. Why does no one ever talk about how uncomfortable it is to sleep with flexirods in your hair????20150320_233059

 

And tadaaaa! I LOVE the flexirod look! It was a major hit!20150321_141534

 

 

Apr 6, 2016 I realized that I was quickly approaching the awkward stage of my transition I had a good 2 inches of new growth and since I sweat a lot flat ironing my hair would be pointless so I decided to braid it up in Senegalese twists.20150406_11083620150418_213054

Now unfortunately I have a very dry scalp that flakes if I don’t wash it every week or so. Oiling it only seems to hold the flakes together better haha! I don’t know what the deal is. So, for that reason I am only able to keep braids in my hair for about two weeks at the most.  After I took them out I wanted to try bantu knotting my hair. It was my first time doing it and I ended up knotting them way too tight and had a terrible night of sleep and even more terrible headache in the morning. But the results OMG!20150428_091243

 

And after more separating and more fluffing! 20150430

 

 

So far so good! I will keep updating as I progress further!

 

-Nadia

Duo Chocolate Chunk Cookies

 

 

Blah blah blah, fluffy introduction. Let’s get to the recipe!

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Pre-heat your oven to 185 Celsius/ 365 Fahrenheit.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.


In another bigger bowl aggressively and angrily (or nicely whatever) blend the butter until light and airy then blend in both sugars well. (You can also use a stand mixer but I don’t have one so a regular blender is fine.)

Add one egg and a time and vanilla extract and blend it all together for about 2 minutes.

After blending all the wet ingredients together slowly begin to mix in the flour/salt/baking powder mixture ONE THIRD at a time until well combined.

The dough with be very thick like this.


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Set aside the cookie dough and begin coarsely chopping the white chocolate. I chopped each square into fours.


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The dark chocolate will be a bit harder to chop and tends to break off into big shards instead of neat squares so I separated each square to make it easier. You might end up with a few big shards anyway but it’s OK who doesn’t love finding big shards of chocolate in their cookie, eh?

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Put both chocolates in a bowl.

Try to resist eating handfuls of chopped chocolate OK!

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Fold in your chocolate chunks with the dough with a big spoon. (You can try to briskly mix it in if you’re a body builder.)

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Cover a baking pan with baking paper and put 1 1/2 inch dough balls about 2 1/2 inches spaced apart.

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Bake for about 14 minutes.

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You’re welcome.

Nadia

5 Songs I’m Obsessed With

For those who know me know that I just LOVE music. if you were to ever bump into me on the street there’s a 99% chance that I’ll be wearing ear buds. I just can’t get enough. Here are some of the songs I’ve been obsessed with this week.

I really love this song because it puts me in a good mood every time I hear it

 

I ,usually, am not exactly fond of slowed down music or as they call it in ‘down south’ USA “Screwed and Chopped”. However; to be fair this isn’t exactly…well, that. Anyway, I digress, you’ll have to listen to know what I mean.

 

I’ll have to admit, this next one makes even ME blush. Ah well, sometimes a girl needs to unleash her inner stripper.

 

Can you tell by now that I’m a bit of a Soundcloud addict?

 

Seriously, quit playin’! THIS is my JAM! I’m not even joking. I once had this song on repeat for like 5 hours.

 

There you go. You’re welcome!

-Nadia

Mama’s Upside Down Apple Cake

 

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Hey guys! I LOVE to cook and swap recipes so I thought I’d share my wonderful mother in-law’s delicious apple cake recipe. Every time she comes to visit she always makes us one and my husband and kids can’t get enough. it’s always gone within 10 minutes of hitting the table. So, give it a try and I hope you like it!

 

Ingredients:

800g  Apples (about 5-6 apples) peeled and cored and quartered

100g Butter (room temperature)

100g Sugar

120g Flour

2 Eggs

1 Lemon

16g  Baking Powder

20g Extra Sugar

about 15 ml Water

Materials:

1 sheet of parchment paper

1 30cm round baking dish

1 vegetable slicer (or you could just use the knife)

1 knife

1 whisk or a fork

1 spoon

2 medium sized bowls

1 citrus shredder

Instructions:

Cream together the butter and 100g of sugar in a bowl. Add eggs one at a time and stir until well combined. Set aside. In another bowl mix together the flour and baking powder and also set aside. Wet your parchment paper, squeeze out excess water and line your 30cm pan with it. Using your vegetable slicer (or knife) thinly slice the apples into the lined baking dish like this:IMG_5743

 

Make sure they’re all flat and even in the pan like this:IMG_5747

Sprinkle the remaining 20g of sugar over the top of the sliced apples. Then shred the rind of the lemon over the top of the apples:IMG_5755

Using your fingertips, drip a few drops of the 15ml of water on top of the apples (you don’t have to use all of it). The purpose of this is to add a little more moisture to the cake while it’s baking:IMG_5760

 

Add the flour and baking power mix to the bowl of butter and sugar mix, whisk it until well combined making sure it has no lumps. The batter should be thick but not stiff. Spoon the batter on top of the apples and gently spread it over the top. Spread the batter only until about 1 1/2 to 2 cm away from the edge of the pan because once it’s in the oven it will melt down and cover the rest of the apples:IMG_5778

Bake for 45 minutes. Afterwards remove it from the oven, flip it upside down onto a serving dish and let it sit for about 5 minutes with the parchment paper still on:IMG_5792

Keep all prying fingers away!IMG_5797

 

After 5 minutes, gently remove the parchment paper let it cool for another 15 minutes and serve warm.IMG_5839

 

Enjoy!

Nadia

I Feel Like Nick and Mariah’s Divorce Child

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I usually don’t follow celebrity news and gossip but….no, I’m lying, I sometimes indulge in the latest Kardashian news. Anywho, I was reading about the news of Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey getting a divorce and I was really shocked and a little sad for them. It’s like only yesterday I saw Nick giving an interview about feeling lucky because Mariah was his dream girl and he’s loved her for years before they started dating. I was super happy for them when they had their little twins and was genuinely rooting for them as a couple. I remember another interview where Nick mention that Mariah felt like he wasn’t there for her while she was pregnant with the twins and Nick said, and I quote, “”No matter how much you do I guess you could have always done more.” and I thought, “Oh ok, lot’s of couples have this type of disagreement at some point in their relationship, right?” I guess Mariah felt like Nick should have been home more. I don’t know. It’s no secret that Mariah is worth a gazzillian dollars and people labeled Nick as a ‘trophy husband’. Of course that can do major damage to a man’s ego so I partly agree with Nick working to earn ‘his own’ money but I also sympathize with Mariah wanting him home more, especially since he really doesn’t need to work so much.

What would you give up for your relationship? Me personally, I feel like I’ve gone through something similar. Before I moved overseas I was a single mom and sole provider for my two kids. Then I got married and my husband and I both decided that I’d be a stay-at-home mom. My ego took a major hit going from breadwinner to dependent but I pushed through anyway Why? Because I love my husband and kids and I knew that this was the best thing for our family. because sure I don’t earn money for the family right now but having the privilege to be here and fully offer my time and love and care to them is priceless. I know for men it’s completely different but if I was Nick and I had the opportunity to live happily ever after with my dream girl and my little kids and frolic in the sun all day you bet your sweet ass that’s what I’d be doing, not nursing my ego and spending days and maybe weeks at a time away from my family because society says a man should be bringing home he bacon. Fuck what society says!

 

Nadia

You’re Really Big!

So yesterday I went to buy an appliance from a woman selling in in a Facebook Buy/Sell group. I’d been having a very good day so far. I’d been to the Albert Cuyp Markt and found some gorgeous fabrics to work with. I had a brunch date by myself and I was having another great hair day.

 

I get to the woman’s house and ring the bell and she tells me to come on up. Now, I’ve you’ve ever been to a few Amsterdam flats then you know that most times the entrance is a bit narrow and it can already be difficult for a person, let alone two people, to get through without bumping into something. So the woman says to me, “Sorry for making you walk all the way upstairs, I’m 7 months pregnant and I get tired really easily.” I nod and she goes on to say, “Come on in the living room because there’s not so much room here, I’m big but you are really big…if you don’t mind me saying.”deanwhat

The first thing that came to my head is, “Bitch! How dare you!” I decided not to vocalize my distaste so I shrug and ask where the appliance is. She goes on and shows it to me and puts it in the box, all while complaining to me how difficult pregnancy. I’m beginning to get super annoyed. I give her the side-eye and say, “Yes I know, I have four kids and two of them are twins.” I roll my eyes behind her back because she probably wouldn’t want to tell me the appliance if I was rolling my eyes and telling her what a fucking bitch she was. I was getting more and more agitated by the second. So I give her the money and rushed away making some excuse about making dinner for my four kids.

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Walking down the street with the box was a bit difficult. It was huge and heavy and one of the bag straps popped halfway to the bus stop. I get on the full bus all sweaty and out of breath with my huge box and try my best to go to the back with it hitting people’s limbs on the way. People were staring. I know they were thinking something like, “Damn that’s a big box.” But yesterday at that moment I was full of anxiety, sadness and embarrassment. At the moment I believed the people on the bus were thinking something along the lines of, “Ugh look at this big, sweaty bitch with this huge fucking box on a crowded bus! She needs to lose some weight and lose the box!” I had to give myself an internal pep talk to make myself believe that I don’t care about what other people thought of me, they were just people like me.

Finally the bus came to my stop and I got off and walked towards the grocery store angry. Angry that I forgot to get ingredients for dinner, angry that I didn’t tell that I didn’t tell that woman off and angry that I was still obsessing over this bullshit. Anyway, I haul the big box into the shopping cart, grab the ingredients and get in line. There were two kids buying groceries in front of me and they were only getting a few things so I was relieved. The sooner I could get home and relax the better. The little girl’s card didn’t work in front of me and she couldn’t pay for her food. I told the cashier I’d take care of it and paid for the girls bill. I instantly felt better.

It was then that I realized that it really doesn’t matter what size a person is or what they look like. All that matters is if you’re a good person or not. I consider myself a good person because I enjoy doing nice things for people and helping out whenever I can. Most of all I’m not some idiot going around insulting people for no reason.

 

Nadia

 

TIL (Today I Learned)

Today I learned that you should always say how you feel.

I get anxiety sometimes. I used to have panic attacks a lot but not so much anymore. However; I’ve been having this really heavy feeling in my chest for several days. I thought that maybe it’s because I’m exhausted and need to get more sleep or maybe I gained weight in my already huge boobs (goddamnit). Welp…might as well go on as if nothings wrong.

Well, a few nights ago I was having a conversation with my sister about letting unsaid words fester inside of you. She told me she used to lie awake in bed at night and think about how much someone had hurt her. Then one day she contacted that person and let go of all the things she’s ever wanted to say. She’s been sleeping like a baby ever since.

Today I did what she did…my chest no longer hurts.

 

Nadia

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