App Review: ActionDash

Our cell or mobile phones are hugely important in this day and time, perhaps especially so to us millennials. I was born in the early 90s, so I’m kind of in the middle of the generation. I got my first phone for my 13th birthday, or a few days before actually. My brother, who is three years younger than me, was 11 or 12 when he got his first phone. Many millennials that I know are proud to belong to a generation that grew up playing outside, as am I, but we’re also proud that we encountered technology like phones and computers at a young enough age for it to become natural for us to use them, we’re not struggling in the same way as older generations, but we’ve also not been enslaved by technology from a really young age like the younger generations. When I was around 15, one of my grandmothers said that the mobile phone was the older children’s pacifier, and when I was 17 and on exchange (and got to experience unlimited texting for the first time) my host mother said that to teenagers the phone was like an extension to the arm. I know there are a lot of millennials who don’t use their phones a lot, but I am not one of them. I’m on my phone a lot. When I’m not on my phone, I’m on my tablet or PC, or in a movie theatre – I even have to put my phone away so I won’t get distracted when reading books. I know it’s bad.

I have seen Apple iPhone users talk on twitter about how their phones are notifying them of the amount of time they’ve spent on their phone. Philip DeFranco tweeted about how much time he’d spent on Twitter specifically, that he tried to justify it with needing to use Twitter for work, but then he said he couldn’t possibly justify spending that amount of time on social media because it’s not all for work. I don’t use iPhone, or any Apple products, and I have no desire to. My phone doesn’t have a built in function to track screen time, so I went looking through the Google Play store, and that’s where I found ActionDash, a free to use app with the option of purchasing a pro version that will remove ads, among other things. The free version lets you see all the info about your screen time over the past week, so of course I went ahead and tracked it for a week straight, not restricting myself, using my phone as I normally would, so in this post I want to take you on my journey of how I’ve been using my phone for the past week!

Introducing: ActionDash

Let’s start with Saturday, March 16th. When I open the app I get the picture you see below, and I can scroll back through the past week, the 16th being the earliest day I could view at the time I took these screenshots.

I made sure to take the screenshots not on the day but the following day, so the data would be complete. And this is what we see: A wheel showing the 4 most used apps of the day, as well as “others”, number of unlocks of the phone, and notifications received, and at the bottom, a graph showing how long each session in each app has been. In this first image, the bottom two lines are missing, but we can still get the gist of what the graph shows: 1 session lasted 20-30 minutes, another lasted 15-20, three sessions lasted 10-15 minutes, 23 lasted between 5 and 10 minutes, 17 3-5 minutes, and what the picture doesn’t show is 1-2 minutes and less than 1 minute, which has been the longest bar on every day that I’ve checked the app!

On this Saturday, the app I spend the most time in was Instagram, followed by Twitter, Google, and then Pokemon GO. From what I can remember, this was a very antisocial day for me, I stayed in bed the majority of the day with the TV playing shows and YouTube, and I was scrolling on my phone the majority of the time as well. I promise, most days I do not spend 8.5 hours actively on my phone!

Let’s have a look at the following few days of the week:

If we’re being honest, I don’t remember everything about all of these days, as I’m not writing it as we go, but I do remember some things so let’s see… As we can see from Sunday the 17th, I spent less than three hours on my phone that day, which was a better day for me emotionally than the 16th, I do remember that. I spent nearly half that time on Instagram, which I can easily see, as a lot of the time I’ll be scrolling on Instagram while watching stuff, it requires little to no concentration as I just take in the pictures and I don’t have to actually read the words like I do on Twitter. But still, we can see the same few apps repeated almost daily, Twitter and Instagram are on daily, which was no surprise. WordPress was on the wheel on the 19th, because I was reading a rather lengthy article, and I kept putting my phone down, and got distracted a lot, so I probably wasn’t actually reading the whole time, I just left the screen on when I put my phone down and the screen doesn’t black out right away. Let’s see, what else… Oh, Friday the 22nd – Google was my most used app! That was a bit surprising, but I know exactly why: I fell down a rabbit hole of wikipedia articles, which happens on occasion, this time it was reading up on Russian history, starting with Stalin, then Lenin, and then the Tsars that ruled the country up until the revolution in 1917. And because it’s wikipedia, every article contains links to other articles so I end up getting side tracked and yeah, that’s how that happened! I also spent quite a lot of time on YouTube that day – I usually watch YouTube on the TV, but we had to have repair people come by and then set up a new TV, so to stay out of the way I watched YouTube on my phone in another room. Saturday the 23rd was Community Day, so that’s why Pokemon GO won first place on screen time then, as the event lasted for 3 hours, although I wasn’t actually playing it the full time…

Now let’s have a closer look at the app itself:

This picture is from Sunday the 24th, if I’m not mistaken. Either way, it doesn’t matter, what I wanted to show you was the graph where you can see the app session length breakdown for the day. Out of 271 app sessions, 203 of them lasted less than a minute! Thinking about how that works in reality… one of two things happened: I got a notification, clicked on it, and went out of the app again, or I opened the app out of boredom and closed it again almost immediately. The first one isn’t that bad, in my opinion. The second one however, that’s the kind of stuff I want to avoid, a habit I really want to work on breaking. All those little one minute sessions, I really want to stop them.

You can also view the whole week in the same way you can each day:

Over the course of one week, I spent 33 hours and 4 minutes on my phone.

168 hours to a week.

56 hours spent sleeping, if I sleep 8 hours a day.

Sleeping and phone stuff comes to 89 hours, so let’s just say 90 hours of the week.

168-90=78. I’ve spent more than half my time sleeping and on my phone. 53%. For only 47% of my week have I been awake and not on my phone. That’s kind of scary.

Let’s have a look at some other ways you can track your screen activity using the app ActionDash.

If you click on the icons in the circle of the opening screen, you can view the stats for that app daily, showing the time spent in it over the past week, and hourly, showing the stats for the day:

At the top of the home screen, you have some icons you can click on and it shows you different things as well:

The first icon, the cake diagram, is the start screen, which we’ve already covered. Next to it you can view the stats for screen time. The next icon shows the stats for app launches. Next to that, you can view notification stats. Lastly, the padlock symbolises unlocks, and you can view the stats for that as well.

So as you can see, there is a LOT of things you can view and track in the free version of this app, which is what I’ve been doing. Like I mentioned at the start, it is also possible to purchase a pro version, which gives you the additional benefits of stats beyond 7 days, enhanced usage graphs, no ads, dark theme, advanced customisation, and the possibility of restoring manual backups. It’s a one time upgrade which will cost you about £5 (my app store which is in Norwegian Kroner says it’s 45,-). Is it necessary? I don’t think so. I don’t feel the need to track more than the past 7 days, and if I were to I’d probably do it manually every day as it goes by in my bullet journal.

Just to show you, this is what days beyond the past 7 look like:

I don’t know if these are accurate, or if they just show that I’ve spent some time in these apps. One of them shows six apps in addition to “other”, while the other one only shows three – it could be that you need to spend over a specific amount of time in the app before it shows in the pie chart, I don’t know. I just wanted to show you what it looks like if you don’t upgrade to the pro version.

Final Thoughts

Is an app like this worth it? Is there a point to tracking your screen time like this?

I think it can be useful, yes. By using an app that tracks your time, you can become more aware of how you’re ACTUALLY spending your time, and that’s not a bad thing.

When I first downloaded the app, I was a bit obsessed with checking in multiple times a day and see how the pie chart and time change. In writing moment, it’s 2.40pm, I’ve unlocked my phone 53 times, had 192 notifications, and spent 1 hour and 17 minutes on my phone. It would probably have been more if I hadn’t spent the past couple of hours working on this blog post. The obsession wore off over time, but the first couple of days… I spent a lot of time checking in on the app to see how I was spending my time!

Have I learned anything? Yes. I’ve learned that I am way too guilty of the crime of unlocking my phone for no reason, and checking in on apps for less than a minute.

Will I change anything going forward? Eventually, I would like to. I’d like to eventually blacklist a lot of the apps in Forest that I’ve had whitelisted for a few months now, to stay off my phone completely when I have a tree or a bush growing, and to spend time on my phone on purpose, not just picking it up out of boredom. Eventually, I would like to change the bars on the stats, so that the “less than 1 minute” bar goes way down, and some of the higher ones go up. I’d like to plan out that I can spend the next 10 minutes on Twitter, that I can go on Instagram in the morning and at night. That I can play Pokemon GO when I’m out on walks. Those kinds of things. I’d like to be more mindful when it comes to how I spend time on my phone, and this app helped me to see that.

Have to  ever tracked your screen time?

What do you think of it, is it useful?

Related posts: SleepTown App (stay off your phone at night) // 2018 in Trees (Forest: Stay Focused app) // A Very Satisfying Forest (Forest: Stay Focused app)

Xoxo

Julie

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ALL THE MIDANDRY MAKES ME SICK.

I need to say something, and it requires more than the 280 character limit in a tweet (do you remember when it was 140? And before the option to thread multiple tweets together before posting? How did we live?!).

Women. Recently I’ve unfollowed several of you on twitter for posting things along the lines of “all men are trash”. ALL MEN ARE NOT TRASH. Maybe you’ve had some bad experiences with some trashy ones, – cheaters, or men being dicks because you didn’t wanna sleep with them… They definitely exist. BUT SO DO GOOD ONES! But you know what? You’re never gonna meet them if you keep generalising and assuming everyone is gonna be like your ex or those men you meet on a night out or whatever.

And speaking of things we need to stop doing, as women, because we’re not doing ourselves any favours here. STOP CRYING RAPE WHEN THERE WAS NO RAPE. Yes you’re allowed to change your mind. If you’ve said you’ll sleep with someone, you can change your mind. You can change your mind at any point up until or during the act. If you’re going home with someone from the club and cjsnge your mind and you don’t want to sleep with them, LEAVE. If you’re in the middle of foreplay and you don’t want to continue, SPEAK UP. If you’re in the middle of having sex and you want to stop, SAY SOMETHING. What you CAN’T do, is go through with it, and then say you were raped when you regret your actions in retrospect!! Men and women, none of us are mind readers, and if you change your mind you need to SAY IT. You can use body language too, to signal that you’re not into doing it anymore, but unless you SPECIFICALLY SPEAK UP, you can’t expect the other person to know what you’re thinking or feeling because humans don’t work that way!

You have to realise, that if you go through the act without saying anything, and then accuse them of raping you, you’re hurting other people, people who weren’t involved in this at all, people who were ACTUALLY raped. It’s hard enough to be believed as a victim of rape, male or female, as it is, without other people hurting the cause and accusing people of rape when they didn’t say anything about it at the time. REGRETTING HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE DOESN’T MEAN THEY RAPED YOU. Rape is someone forcing you against your will at the time, not stopping when you ask them to, not respecting that you no longer wish to continue what the two of you were doing. If you went into it willingly and you didn’t say stop or no or that you’ve changed your mind, IF YOU DIDN’T WITHDRAW CONSENT at any point BEFORE OR DURING, YOU CAN’T WITHDRAW IT AFTER! You’re perfectly within your right as a human to regret doing what you did, but you have to deal with it like a fucking adult, you don’t go out and accuse the person of raping you – it hurts them, their life can be ruined by an accusation like this, and it hurts everyone else who is struggling to be believed that they were raped in the first place.

We need to do better, to be better. All of us. It’s not feminist to say that all men are trash. It’s misandrist. That’s the flip side of misogynist, which I also can’t stand. And I’m sick of seeing it everywhere, especially on twitter. Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. We are all people, all of us are capable of being horrible, or being good. And I’m seeing way too much of people being horrible. It’s sickening. I wish we’d all stop and focus on what’s good in the world, what we can do to be good people, to be better, to do better.

Thank you for coming to my rant post.

Xoxo

Julie

Human BEINGs

We are called “human beings”. Not “human doings”. This has been pointed out in at least one movie/TV show I’ve watched, although I cannot remember which, as well as on those kind of accounts on instagram that post inspirational quotes and tell you not to be so hard on yourself, etc etc. It can be kind of annoying, and kind of cliché. But it’s also kind of true.

Who we are is more important than what we do. And that’s easy to forget in a society where, when you meet new people, one of the first questions asked are “so what do you do (for a living)?” This question being asked early in conversation, makes us feel like this is of huge importance. Our answer to this question forms the person’s opinion of us. How stupid is that? People literally form opinions about us based on our answer to the question “what do you do for a living?”. They needn’t know much about us at all, perhaps you were just introduced, you say hi, your name, and they ask “so, what is it you do?” and that can colour their opinion of you forever.

Many people have impressive things to say. I’m a surgeon. I’m a lawyer. I’m working on my PhD in __. Many more people have answers such as hair dresses, mail man, I work in a food shop. These are professions that are essential to society, but they rarely make people go “wow, impressive!” in a conversation. And then there are people like me. I haven’t had to answer that question recently, but for the past six months, I would have had to say nothing. I don’t do anything. I don’t have a job. I’m unemployed. And that doesn’t feel so great.

Just over two years ago, I wrote this post, about how I felt like I’d done nothing all day, and that I needed to give myself more credit for the things I did do, and not beat myself up about all the things I didn’t do. I’m still struggling with this. Since the start of the year, I’ve started to write down almost everything I do in my bullet journal, just so that I don’t feel like I’ve done nothing all day. There’s a huge focus in our world about doing things. My mum will always ask “so what have you been doing today then?” when we talk on the phone. My friends ask it in group chats. They mean nothing bad about it, it’s never anyone’s attention to make me feel bad about not doing anything. But that’s often the focus, the starting point of a conversation, what have we been up to.

But we are called human beings. The first question should therefore be “how are you today?” or “how have you been?”. I try to ask this first, especially when I talk to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. But “what have you been doing?” or “done anything fun lately?” or questions along those lines quickly follow. It can’t be helped. But as much as I can, I try to focus on the being part over the doing part, because who we are is ultimately so much more important than what we do, for a living or otherwise.

The things I do don’t reflect who I am as a person. What do I do? To mention a few, I read books, I binge watch TV shows, I play video games, I go for walks, I play with makeup. These say very little about who I am as a person – as a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, cousin, god-mother, acquaintance, colleague… I am not the things I do to entertain myself. I am not the thing I do to make money, even though that’s nothing at the moment, and I am not that either.

Maybe we should all try to focus a little bit less on everything we’re supposed to be doing, and a little more and just being, in the world, existing, and enjoying it. Maybe we should stop and smell flowers, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the crispness of it that is so typical for this time of year. Maybe we should focus on what we can be, who we can be, and who we can be there for, rather than all the things we think we ought to be doing?

xoxo

Julie

Be harmless, not helpful

When I was younger, say about 11-15/16, school was always finished at 2.15pm, and I’d always race home to put on 7th Heaven on the TV, and if I was fortunate, I’d only miss the few minutes that were before the intro music. That’s where I first came across this phrase, the title of today’s entry – I don’t remember exactly how it was phrased, I think it was used multiple times, but the gist of it was that it is better to be harmless than to try to be helpful. I think there are a few different ways to look at this and interpret this phrase that we need to talk about.

Firstly, I think we have all been on the receiving end of advice that didn’t go as planned; that made things worse instead of better. To be honest, we’ve probably all given such advice as well – the intent was good, we were trying to help, but the end result did not reflect our intentions. Sometimes trying to help can do more harm than good, and thus backing up the statement that you should be harmless instead of helpful.

Now, what do we mean about being harmless, exactly? I think this is something we should talk about, because a lot of people will say something that seems or sounds harmless to them, but it most definitely is not. Take for example people with any kind of anxiety disorder, or that are struggling with depression – many seemingly harmless statements can actually be hurtful to hear if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. One of the most well discussed things, going off of my own experience and that of friends and family, and what I see on Twitter for example, is to be told to “just calm down”, “cheer up”, or “just breathe”, or that you’re overreacting. Taking an example from my own life recently, I know, rationally, that I am in fact overreacting, but that doesn’t stop the tightening feeling in my throat, the hyperventilating, or the tears, and I most certainly do not need anyone to tell me to calm down or that I’m overreacting. I know that I’m overreacting, that there is no physical threat to me being sat in front of a computer screen looking at a programme I don’t understand, but if it was so easy as to just breathe or “calm down” don’t you think I would do it? (PS: no one was telling me anything of the sort at the time, this is just me stating what would not have been harmless in the moment). Most of the time, I just need a minute, a little while to let my body catch up to what my brain already knows; that I am fine and in no danger at all. But if someone were to tell me things like the ones above, it might have been intended as good, but cause me harm, because it’ll make me feel worthless, like what I am experiencing isn’t valid, and it might make me feel afraid, and lead to me not being able to be myself around them, it might lead to me wanting and doing everything I can to be invisible, to not make them feel uncomfortable because of what is happening to me.

So you see, phrases that are often intended to be helpful, and perceived as harmless by the person uttering them, can sometimes do more harm than they do good. There is a difference, in my opinion, between being harmless, and saying something you think is harmless. And the above things would fall into the latter category. Being harmless, I think, is a much more passive thing, or it can be – we’ll get to other less passive things in a bit. Being harmless, in some cases, doesn’t require the saying of things. It requires being there for the person who needs it. You should be a safe place for people in your life, a place where they know they won’t be judged or told things like “you don’t look like you have (insert mental state)”, a place where they can just be themselves, where they can rant and scream and cry if that’s what they need. Being harmless, to me, means that people can talk to you, that they can cry on your shoulder, that they can lay with you being held and feeling safe, sit next to you, have their hand held or their back stroked, knowing that no physical harm can come to them in that moment, so they do whatever they need to do, while being with someone who will ensure their safety in the process.

But being harmless can also mean other things. Sometimes, it means being the distraction someone sorely needs, the one who makes them laugh, who takes them places to look at weird stuff or walks  around the city or the country side people-watching or cloud-watching, to be the person that takes their mind off of things. This is a slightly less passive form of harmlessness, I think, where you actively try to be what the person needs, regardless of what that actually is. But I also think it’s important to make sure that this is what the person needs at the time, because they might require other things, such as what I wrote in the previous paragraph, or what I’m about to write about in the next paragraph.

Sometimes, being harmless means letting people go. It might not be forever, it might just be for a  few hours or a few days. Being there for someone, being a harmless place, means giving them what they need, and sometimes what people need is space. It might be time off from social media, it might mean them going away for a while, it might mean that you being in their life is causing them harm, and therefore giving them space is the most harmless thing you can do. This is the one that is hardest to do, this is the one that hurts the most. I can openly say that I have been the person causing harm to someone else simply by being a part of their life, and us trying to stay in each others’ lives ended up causing us both harm. Which sucked. This was a person I cared about a lot, and who cared a lot about me too, but in the end we were no good for each other and went our separate ways. It has been years, and I know this was the kind of letting go that meant forever, even if I didn’t want it at the time. I recently looked them up on social media, without them knowing about it, and discovered that, from what they have been posting, things definitely seem better in their life now, and seeing this made me really happy. It made me realise that we did the most harmless thing we could do, which was remove ourselves from each other, and that made things better, for both of us. And now I am at peace, knowing things are good for them, and I am okay with the fact that what they needed was to not have me in their life, because not all people are good for each other.

This, of course, need not always be the case. I have other people in my life in present time where we’ve taken breaks from each other, time to heal, and have ended up reconnecting after a few weeks or months, and at present time we are no longer causing each other harm. And that’s a wonderful thing. We were causing each other harm, we took a break from each other, which at least for me was hard and painful, but reconnecting and looking back on it in retrospect made me glad we did it because we are positive presences in each others’ lives now. Letting go is not always bad. It might hurt at the time, but the most important thing is that people are safe and not in a harmful place, whether that be physical, mental, or emotional. If someone is causing you pain, would you want to keep them in your life? If you’re causing someone harm by being a presence in their life, do you really want to stay, knowing that you’re hurting them? The selfish answer is, I like having them in my life and losing them will cause me pain so I will do everything I can to keep them in my life. The altruistic answer is, I am causing them pain, I need to remove myself from this situation/their life so that I am no longer causing pain to another human being. I completely understand the logic of the first, no one wants to do anything that will cause themselves harm, but I also think it’s important to consider the harm we might be inflicting on others, and make sure we do as little of that as possible – that we need to focus a little bit more on being harmless.

This entry took a very dark turn, but I think it’s important to talk about it. Dark and painful and difficult topics might be the ones that need talking about the most. But it’s important to remember that being harmless can mean many different things, and people require different things from other people around them. On the internet, where I spend a lot of my time, I see people being so mean to other people, and I always see people talking about how they hate other people, and how animals are better because they are never cruel. As humans, we are the only ones who can change how humans behave, starting with ourselves. If I start by being kinder to you and providing you with a harmless space, you can be kinder and a safe space to the next person, who can then do the same to their next person, and so on. It might be a dream scenario in an imaginary world, but piece by piece the castle gets built, you just have to start somewhere (I don’t know if that is an actual metaphor, I may have just made that up…).

What I wanted to say, above anything else in this entry, and if you didn’t read anything else and just skipped to the end for the TL;DR portion, this is it: People cannot cure other people, you just have to be there for them.

I will end this entry with one of my all-time favourite quotes, which I’ve had written on whiteboards and pieces of paper stuck to the wall and book covers and also really wanted to by a jumper with it on, which is from an organisation called To Write Love On Her Arms, and it is this:

twloha

Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll talk down below!

Xoxo

Julie

 

Related entries: Mission First, People Always

 

You can laugh, but I don’t care.

People think I don’t know when they’re making fun of me. But I know. I just no longer care.

I know I’m a bit weird. Quirky. Odd. Strange. I don’t always pick up on irony and sarcasm, I too often take things too seriously and believe stuff that’s not true. I’m book smart, theoretical, and don’t always understand right away how some of the things that are obvious to a lot of people work. With a lot of things, I’m a bit slow, and I need things spelled out to me.

But I know when I’m being made fun of, laughed at behind my back… I know it. I’m aware that it happens.

But here’s the thing. The thing is, I don’t care about it. If people have nothing better to do than make fun of me, then I feel sorry for them. If that’s what they want to spend their time on, then that’s their time being wasted, their life. I’m not gonna waste my time caring about it, because I lose so much precious time that way. Life may be long, but it might be short. We never know how much time we’re gonna get and I don’t want to waste mine. I want to focus on doing things that are good for me, that bring joy to my soul. I don’t want to care about people who have negative opinions about me.

And I want to share a poem with you. It’s one of my favourite pieces of writing, I’ve copied it down so many times, and I might have shared it on my blog before, but I wanted to share it again:

I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, Kiss me harder, and You’re a good person, and, You brighten my day. I live my life as straight-forward as possible.

Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.

We never know when the bus is coming.”

—Rachel C. Lewis, Tell The People You Love That You Love Them

Xoxo

Julie

Personal Update

I wanted to write an entry a day for all of April. I’ve been using the schedule system for that, writing when I have something to write about, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I’ve lost the will to do things. And that goes for everything, not just blogging. I feel like I’ve gone numb.

Yesterday a friend asked me to come with her to one of our uni campuses to sit and work from around noon, and I didn’t answer her because just the thought of working on my thesis made me feel tight chested and brought tears to my eyes. I feel bad for not working, but the thought of working sends me into panic, so what am I supposed to do? For now, I’m just avoiding it. When it came down to fight or flight, I fled. And I’m not proud of that. But I don’t know what to do.

I spent a lot of Easter watching Grey’s Anatomy and going on trips with my parents, visiting my grandparents and my great-grandmother, taking our car to a service shop, driving to a place in the middle of nowhere where someone’s made an American Diner where people come from far away to eat and see. And sleeping. A lot of sleeping. 8-10 hours a night of sleeping.

Since I got back to the city I’ve been hiding in my room, when I’m not out shopping. Yesterday I went and bought some stuff and walked around town for a while. After I’m done writing this entry I’m going to do that all over again.

I’m working this weekend, at the museum. And I’ve got two weekends in May, since a girl quit. I might as well sell tickets and glasses and books, and make some money, since I’m incapable of working on my thesis, right?

My heart hurts, and I don’t know why. My parents, uncle, and grandfather put my grandmother’s urn in the ground earlier this week. That might be a contributing factor…

How are you all doing, dear readers?

~ Julie

Feling Like a Failure

The truth is, only about 40% of people in my country finish their master’s degrees on time. That means 60% take extra time. I’m a part of the 60. That’s the majority. 6 to 4 majority. 3 to 2 majority. Two thirds majority. That’s not a failure. It’s common.

Then how come I feel so bad? It’s got to be because I don’t fail things. I don’t do things halfway. I never have. I once found out that I had to write a screenplay for the next day, something we could make a short film out of. My host dad told me I had two options: try like hell, or give up. So I spent the entire evening rewriting a short story I made once into a screenplay. We ended up not using it, because another guy in my group wrote one that was more doable, and we used that, but I was so scared of failing the assignment that I did it anyway. I spent all of Christmas break writing an assignment once, because the research required to do it in addition to the rest of my school work took all of fall semester, and it was due in January.

I don’t do things halfway. Not when it comes to school anyway, because all I’ve been told all my life is that school work is the foundation. I have to get good grades in middle school to get into the program I want for high school. I have to get good grades my first year because I want to go on exchange my second year. I had to get good grades there so that I wouldn’t get sent home. I had to get good grades my senior year to get into the study program I wanted in uni. I had to get good grades on BA level to be accepted into the MA program. I got good grades on all of my course work on MA level, and now I have to get a good grade on my master’s thesis to top it all off, so that I can get a good job that I will enjoy and be good at and deserve. But now, I’m not finishing it in May like planned. Now I’m not getting my degree until December.

But I’m gonna get it. I’m gonna figure out how to write 80 pages. I’m gonna figure out how to analyze my data. I’m gonna figure out how to finish the whole damn thing without suffering from panic attacks and depression and the occasional suicidal thought. I’m gonna do it. I’m not gonna be a failure. I’m gonna be a winner. Slightly delayed, but still a winner. I’m gonna do it.

Unpopular Opinion: Daily Showers

Do you judge people when they say that no, they don’t actually shower daily? If the answer is yes, you should stop. There are many reasons why someone might choose not to shower every day.

People say it’s bad, unhygienic, smelly… but daily showers or daily baths is a fairly recent phenomenon. People didn’t use to wash their hair daily, or shower/bathe daily. I’ve already talked about my decision to only wash my hair twice a week here. But I also don’t shower every day. I shower every two or three days, depending on what I do or if it’s hot or I’m cold or I feel like it. That’s not to say I am unhygienic. I clean myself, like most other people. I just don’t like to use soap and water all over my body. My skin has issues. It gets dry and itchy and patchy, sometimes it resembles fish scales, or I get rashes. Soap and water doesn’t help. Soap makes it worse.

Just like the natural oils your scalp produces is good for your hair, and daily shampooing strips the scalp of these oils causing over-production of oil, the skin all over your body does too. No matter how many creams or ointments you put on your skin, they are outsiders forcing themselves on you, and they cannot replace the natural oils your skin produce. At some point in human history, we went from never washing, to washing often enough to stay clean and healthy and hygienic, to obsessing over showering once or twice or three times a day! I met a girl on a field trip who showered and washed her hair twice a day: in the morning because she’s slept and at night to get rid of dirt and dust. I went to middle school with a girl who said she would shower three or four times a day on days when she had football (soccer) games: in the morning, after gym class, before the game, and after the game.

Over-washing is not good for your health, just like under-washing isn’t good for your health. And most people don’t shower four times a day. Once a day is normal in the world as we know it, and people tend to judge people if they find out they don’t shower every day. Some people might be lazy. Some people might not have time to shower in the morning. Someone might have skin condition necessitating not showering on a daily basis. Most of the time you’re probably surrounded by a lot of people who didn’t shower this morning, or last night, and you don’t even know it. Because most of the time you can’t tell. But once someone says it, it’s somehow “so gross”? Get over yourself.

~ Julie

Master Depression is Real

Good morning to you, wonderful reader!

It is Wednesday morning, nearly 11pm, and I’m sat on a couch in my parents’ living room. I was supposed to go back to the city Monday morning, but on Sunday night we heard that the wind had grown stronger and found out that we were going to have a little storm, wind-wise, and although we didn’t get any notifications about the ferries being cancelled I didn’t particularly want to go out on the water in wind that strong, and especially not after my mom told be about one ferry that had a window taken out by a big wave not long ago. So I decided to stay here a little longer. Just as well, actually, because on Sunday I ordered my new phone, which I mentioned in this entry here. It said it would arrive in 1-3 working days, so we were hoping it would arrive yesterday, but when dad came home from a work trip he said the tracking said it’s in the city and therefore he thought it’d be on the first ferry out to our town today. He’s the one who’ll get the message about it though so I just have to wait… I did get a few other things done the past couple of days as well, so my time here hasn’t just been an extension of the weekend; yesterday I had a dentist appointment (and was told everything looks great), and I went with my mom to a meeting about noise reduction/isolation of houses, because our town is right next to an air force base which is getting new F35 fighter planes which will make a lot more noise than the F16s  I grew up with.

On Monday, I felt that I did good work wise. I wrote three paragraphs on my methodology chapter, and sent it in to my supervisor (it was 6 pages long, not finished, but he’s been asking for it). Then I wrote about 600-700 words more on my literature review, which still needs about 8 more pages before it’s finished, but I’m getting there, and that one doesn’t need to be finished before the end of April when my supervisor will get my entire thesis, all chapters put together, for one final reading. So I felt good! That was until my supervisor sent back the methodology chapter with his comments yesterday.

I read the email, and then all the comments on the chapter. Then I started to cry. My 16 pages long literature review needed to be restructured (which actually means rewritten, because most of the parts had to be changed as well, not just moved around), and rewriting makes it shorter, but it needs to be about 20 pages long, so I need to write more. That should’ve taken about 2 weeks, he said, and I’m sure I could have done it if each day consisted of about 40 hours instead of 24, but it doesn’t, so I’m not finished. And now my methodology needs to be rewritten, clarified, a lot of stuff needs adding and explaining… a friend of mine told me to remember that I’d written it in a hurry so of course it wouldn’t be great, and another told me to just go into robot mode and get stuff done, and my ever-supporting boyfriend told me I always react like this, I just need to remember that I’ve always been fine in the past and I will be fine this time too, it just feels like I won’t because it’s my master’s thesis. My mom told me that it sounds like I just need to sit down and work.

And here I am, blogging. This entry has passed 600 words by now, so I know I am capable of writing lots of words fast, so how come everything on my thesis is going so slow? I think I know the answer to that. I don’t want to write it. I don’t want to do the work. I just want to get the degree so I can move on with my life. I’ve been in school for 19 years, that’s 3/4 of my life, and the 6 years before that I can barely remember, apart from some glimpses here and there. They say that university, the years spent as a student, are supposed to be some of the best of your life. But they’re also the most stressful. I constantly have the feeling that I’m not quite done for the day because there’s always something that needs doing, because you’re never done, but you can’t spend all your awake hours working, either. But when I’m not working I feel guilty. And then I struggle to work because I feel so bad about myself. And then I feel like I’m stuck in this vicious circle that I can’t get out of, I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, everything is just black, the air is black, and it’s pushing down on me and I can’t breathe and I just want it all to end.

I never thought it was possible for me to not want to live. I’ve always been the person who looked forward to growing up, to being my own boss, in charge of myself, able to go wherever I want and do whatever I want. And at 24 I’m supposed to be able to do that. And in a way, I am. No one forced me to do this. I did this to myself. I chose to do a master’s degree because I didn’t feel adult enough to start working at 22, almost 23, when I was done with my bachelor’s degree. And I wanted to spend more time with my friends. But now I’m sat here, it’s March, spring is on its way, I have 9 weeks until I should be done with my thesis and send it to print, and everything feels so undoable. Like I’ll never be finished. Like no matter what I do, I’ll never get done, because something will always need restructuring and rewriting. There are days where I wish I could just quit, run away, but I can’t, because I have half a million of student loans to pay back because I chose to study instead of finding a job. And because of that, there are days where I just wish I could end it all…

sometimes the day just ends

Invisible Illness

I will gladly admit that I am a little more than just slightly upset in writing moment. Someone close to me just posted online that they have gotten negative comments in the shape of “don’t do that” on the fact that they can go for a walk and share pictures online even though they’re on sick leave from work and have been for nearly 6 months now.

If a doctor has put you on sick leave because you’re not in good enough shape to go to work, then there is a reason for that. YOU may not see it, but a doctor did study medicine for years before even being allowed to look at a patient, and there is a reason that it is the longest lasting program of study in most countries! If a DOCTOR has said that you are not able to work so you should stay home and rest, but live your life as normally as you can, then that’s going to include things such as going for walks and sharing pictures on social media! That’s the normal part! That’s what everyone does these days! Regardless of health and the life you have chosen or not chosen to live!

You don’t actually think that everyone who’s on long term sick leave lies in bed for months on end, do you? You don’t actually think that they would rather be exhausted and in pain than doing the job they love, do you? Because if you do, you’re damn lucky I am sat in a far-away corner of the world typing this on my laptop and not stood in front of you screaming at your face because I don’t think I’d be able to prevent myself from slapping you!

If you’re on sick leave for a week because you have the flu, then fair enough. You’re supposed to be in bed and drink plenty of fluids and rest and recover, because your body is under attack from an outside force, and you should NOT be outside doing everyday stuff and sharing pictures of it. But if you’re on sick leave because your body is attacking itself and there are no medications for it, nothing that can be done, then all you can do is take one day at a time and live life as normally as you can. Something that used to take a couple of hours, like cleaning the house, might now take you a week or two to complete because you have to lie down due to pain and exhaustion. Going for a walk one morning might mean that you’ll be laid on the couch for the rest of that day, and the next day. Going to the store might seem like a terrible chore one week, and something you look forward to doing because it gets you out of the house the next.

Someone who is living with an invisible illness has enough to deal with, being at war with their own body and mind. They do not need you to open your big fat mouth, telling them how they should be living their life according to you, a healthy person, who has no such struggle to deal with.