Life In A Nutshell



It's been far too long. I feel like I haven't had a chance to catch up with myself recently, to allow myself to freely express the feelings and thoughts going through my mind, while also sharing little snippets of my life with my blog, which also happens to be one of my favourite things to write about. So this is it, this is my life lately, grab a cup of tea, pack of biscuits and settle down into some place comfortable.

I finished my first year of university. It feels like the year of the fresher has absolutely flown by, until I think back and remember just how much I have achieved in the short space of 9 months. Attending university begins as a huge change, you suddenly find yourself in this foreign city, surrounded by strangers and with this new found responsibility and independence to actually survive on your own. The saying that you never quite realise how lucky you until you lose something that you take for granted until it's gone has never been more true when you take into consideration all of the washing, cooking and cleaning that you now have to juggle along with studying, exercising and socialising. Things can seem a little daunting, but the independence that you gain from this experience will help you huge amounts to further yourself in life. I have come out the other side with a First class grade, better cooking skills, the actual ability to iron, professional moaning about coursework skills and a really close bunch of friends as well as some amazing experiences and memories that I can hopefully extend upon going into my second year.

Work Work Work. Since finishing university I have gone back to my little part time job working as a waiter at a little country hotel nearby to where I live. Although I think it is perceived as an 'easy' job, I think a lot of people can underestimate how difficult being a waiter can be sometimes, especially due to the physical as well as mental challenges of the job (being on your feet all day is exhausting)! Also having to employ 'the customer is always right' even though 99% of the time the customer is most definitely not right, can become rather tedious. On the positive side, I feel like this job has given me the self confidence and ability to properly speak to new people, without feeling shy or reserved, purely down to the practice and throwing myself into that awkward situation of making conversation with someone that I will probably never see again, so it doesn't matter if I happen to mess up! 

I'm learning to drive. Finally, after 20 years of existence as a human, I actually had my first driving lesson today and you'll be happy to know that it went so much better than I expected. I try and go into each new challenge or experience in life with an open, positive frame of mind and find that it really helps me to learn new things quickly and have the confidence to push myself where others may hesitate. We started off going through some of the basics within the car such as adjusting the seat and getting used to which button or pedal performed which function before setting off. The gears are quite hard to get used to to begin with (such as not accidentally changing into forth instead of second and stalling) but with a bit of practice, you eventually get the hang of it. I actually picked it up so quickly that we decided to try the main road, junctions and even a roundabout it my first lesson (roundabouts are a lot less terrifying than they may seem, trust me) which I was honestly quite proud of myself for. Watch out world, you'll be seeing a lot more of me on the road in the future!

I have been saying yes to a lot more opportunities recently. I do, like so many other people out there, suffer from this FOMO (fear of missing out) but it is usually overwhelmed by a lack of self confidence that stops me from trying new things or seeing new places as often as I would like to for fear of leaving the safety of my comfort zone. Recently, I have been trying to push myself out of this little shell that I have constructed around myself and see more of the world around me, experience things that I never would have considered before, while constantly reminding myself that life doesn't go on forever, however much we may want it to, and that I will regret later those opportunities that I turned down while I am young and free with less commitments holding me down. I have lots of plans to travel and I really hope that I am able to attend some form of blogger event in the near future which, although waaay out of my comfort zone, will allow me to meet loads of new and like-minded people!

I have become addicted to Marvel: Agents of Shield. I have recently become a TV series junkie, plowing through episode after episode of each series and finishing them within a few days to the point where I have to start rationing myself episodes so that I don't finish them too quickly and get sad. It all started with The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, both of which satisfied my love for horror, before moving on to Game of Thrones and now Marvel: Agents of Shield. I am self a self-confessed superhero and more specifically marvel geek, pretty much being able to quote each film, own posters and even have a collection of marvel socks *hangs head in geeky shame* so finding out that there was more of the marvel universe to sink my teeth into brought me endless amounts of happiness. I highly recommend all of these TV series, but watch at your own risk, addiction is pretty much guaranteed!

I hope that you are all enjoying the beginning of summer, I have lots of exciting blog projects coming up, but always love to go back to reading and writing these personal, informal and relatable little update type posts.


James 


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Space - Dream, Imagine, Wonder



Every little kid seems to want to grow up to be an influential world leader, famous celebrity, renown Pok√©mon master or even a power ranger, but when I was younger it was my absolute dream to become an astronaut, to embark on my own space missions and undertake a voyage of the stars, becoming the Christopher Columbus of space and discovering new worlds, alien races and find answers to those age old questions that have pondered the minds of some of the greatest thinkers in history, still remaining unanswered to this day. I think that it is within the human nature to have a burning fascination with the unknown, spending our lives craving and gaining knowledge, learning about the world and universe around us and bettering the mind in the most incredible ways.

As a kid I would use my imagination to build spaceships out of cardboard boxes and make space helmets out of plastic bags (which in hindsight probably wasn't the best idea) and I still love reading space novels about the future and science fiction movies, both of which allow me to escape the reality of every day life and live this childhood dream of exploring space, even just for a fraction of time. I hope that I live long enough to witness at least the beginning of space exploration and the abyss beyond, I was even a little tempted to apply for the controversial and highly unlikely 'Mars mission' not so long ago, which may seem like such a ridiculous idea because who wants to throw themselves into a one way mission to a barren red rock in the sky, taking 2 years inside a tiny spacecraft, and putting yourself millions of miles away from civilization, breathable air and your loved ones? I think this leads back to the indescribable burning feeling of wanderlust and the need for adventure and exploration deep within myself combined with the thrill of danger and the unknown. I think it would be incredible to make history as the first adventurer of space, being the first human being to set foot on another planet, maybe even the first of many in the future.. You would be required to start a whole new life, create a whole new civilization, plant crops, experiment, explore and pave the way for space exploration in the future.


By this point I think that it is fairly safe to say that I have a little fascination for space. I sometimes look up at the sky and wonder what is actually out there. Are we alone? Is there somebody else out there millions of miles away on another planet looking up at the same sky and pondering the same question? I still get that feeling of young and captivating joy when thinking about how absolutely incredible it is that every single little glowing orb carpeting the night sky is in fact it's own huge gas giant of a star, billions of light years away. Every single one of these unique stars has an important place in the universe and contains it's own little complex solar system, surrounded by huge masses of space rock that we like to call planets, consisting of all shapes, sizes and chemical make ups. Now that is a lot of planets, sitting there, waiting to be discovered and explored. I am one of those people that does believe that there must be some form of life out there in the vast universe other than ourselves, if it has managed to happen once, against all odds, then surely it has the potential to occur again in the same perfect conditions right?! It may not be intelligent life with complex ecosystems, an economical system or even basic knowledge of the universe, but simple organisms is exactly where we began too all those millions of years ago here on planet Earth.



The two things that make me the most sad is that my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut will most most probably never come true and even the human race as a whole will not explore space for many more years to come, perhaps never venturing beyond our own solar system.. at least for the long foreseeable future, due to physical restraints on technology and the relatively short human life span compared to how long it would take to travel millions of miles across the universe. Until then, I guess I will just have to make do with looking up at the sky and dreaming up my own theories of what the dark realms of space beyond our little atmosphere is like. Sometimes finding out the truth doesn't live up to our high expectations, so maybe it is better that way, leaving the imagination to run wild.




How To Become More Confident



A lack of confidence is something that pretty much everyone has struggled with at some point in their life, young or old. I have experienced what it feels like to have absolutely zero confidence as I used to be the most socially awkward person possible, mostly due to me having no self confidence in myself and retreating into my own little shell. I would tend to avoid confrontation with people unless it was absolutely necessary and prefer my own company over that of others. This lead me to ultimately be lonely and feel rather depressed, not to mention all the opportunities I missed out on as I would just turn down amazing life experiences all the time, not because I didn't want to try new things or go out. I wanted to more than anything. I just felt trapped, like I couldn't. There was one particular day where I was struck by a sort of enlightenment moment and it really hit me hard to think that life is too short to keep missing out on these opportunities to enjoy myself and that I wasn't making the most of life as it was flying by. I was determined to become more socially active and to improve my confidence and nothing was going to stop me. The little secret is that absolutely anybody has the ability to be forward and confident, you just have to find it within yourself, and I spent a lot of time researching the best methods to be confident and feel generally more happy and I really want to share this to help as many people as possible to find themselves, and realise that you can love life without self-confidence holding you back.


LOOKING CONFIDENT


One of the main causes of people lacking confidence is not being happy with your appearance or the way you look, leading to an overwhelming feeling of self-consciousness. There are some simple tips that can make you feel a little better about yourself and therefore improve how confident you feel.

Dress for confidence
You may think that this is so simple, but you would be surprised how much of a difference wearing your favourite, comfortable clothes can have on your mood and having confidence to speak to people. Ideally, you should choose clothes that make you feel confident and portray your personality, instead of wearing the clothes that other people wear just to fit in.

Positive posture
It has been proven that your posture is always one of the first things that someone will notice about you. Sometimes faking confidence can lead to you getting used to the feeling and naturally becoming naturally more confident as a result. Keeping your head up and shoulders back, while walking along with a sense of purpose will help you to look like a confident person on the outside and feel like one on the inside, trust me.

Eye contact
Possibly the most important indication of how confident somebody is, you can instantly tell someone is comfortable talking to you if they maintain constant eye contact during conversation. This is something that I really struggled with, being shy and reserved I would often look at the floor or off in the distance when talking to people, even my family. Start easy by trying to make eye contact with people and just smiling, then moving onto trying to encourage yourself to look people in the eye during conversation as much as possible and eventually it will come naturally. Chances are the other person is just as shy as you are about eye contact!

THINKING CONFIDENT


From experience, I know that a lack of confidence can leave you feeling down, isolated from everyone else and alone. It is important to know that no matter how bad things seem, they will always get better, you are not the only one and you are most definitely never alone.

Think about the obstacles that are in your way, stopping you from feeling confident and write them down. The majority of the time these obstacles will be false little assumptions that you have made about yourself. Don't let those assumptions determine your self-worth and keep you from enjoying life. I know it is so much easier said than done, but maintaining an open mind and finding positives within life will help you to feel an enormous amount better about yourself.

Just remember that you are not the only one that struggles with self-confidence, pretty much everyone does or has done, some people just hide it better than others. Most people will be too preoccupied with their own image to worry about judging you on yours. Stop comparing yourself to other people and be yourself. People are going to like you more for being your original (complete weirdo) self than trying to be like someone else. Nobody is perfect, we all just have to learn to love our flaws and appreciate that they make you who you are.

BEING MORE CONFIDENT                                     


Talk to strangers
This is something that has improved my confidence an amazing amount. It’s great because IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU MESS UP. Chances are you're not going to see that person again so there's no pressure, it’s like practice for when you start a conversation with someone you actually want to talk to. Start off easy again with something like eye contact with a smile, building up to a polite 'hello' or 'good morning' and finally into a full conversation.

Breathe
Sometimes putting yourself out there will get a little overwhelming, making a situation impossibly awkward and uncomfortable. Remember to BREATH. Stepping back and taking a few deep breaths will help to calm the mind and remind you that you are in control of your body and the situation.

Leave your comfort zone
One of the most effective methods of improving your confidence is throwing yourself right into the deep end and taking risks by leaving your comfort zone. Having a job where I have to speak to customers every day has allowed me to break out of my shell and forced me to get used to speaking to people. Experiences like talking in front of a large audience may seem daunting, and chances are you will mess up somewhere (even the most experienced of public speakers do), but you will feel so good about yourself afterwards. I've always been taught that its not your ability to succeed that matters, it’s your ability to fail and pick yourself back up again.
                                                    
The honest truth is that there is not really a secret formula to guaranteed instant confidence, it's not just something that happens overnight and it takes a lot of effort, patience and practice, but trust me, it's completely possible and you will get there eventually. Whatever happens keep at it, don’t give up and believe in yourself.

I am always here for anybody that needs advice, reassurance about a situation, a confidence boost or even just someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to send me an email at james_bickle@hotmail.co.uk


James 



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