Update on me – May 2012

Update on me – May 2012

The month of May is nearly over! At the beginning of the month I gave you an overview of what I was going to do and now I’d like to reflect on the things I’ve done this month and also my general well-being. This month promised to be busy and it was. So busy that I even had to make sure to step on the brakes just a little. Just a bit of a heads up before you start reading: it’s a long post!

At the end of April I wasn’t doing very good. The combination of my busy job, uni classes, a uni resit AND the job application process ended up being a bit too much. However, the first week of May was a vacation, which left me with plenty of time to rest up and get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, due to my being tired and feeling out of it, I didn’t attend the Band of Skulls concert. I simply wasn’t up to traveling to Amsterdam to see them. The rest of the vacation was thus spent quietly with sleeping, shopping, a visit to the hairdresser and some visits to my physiotherapist as my back muscles decided to jam up again.

The rest of the month was great. I had a bit of a relapse during the Ascencion Day  weekend, but now everything is just fine again. I had friends over for dinner, where I made pancakes and the most delicious cheescake. I went to Antwerp for the first time in my life and my parents came over to visit me and I now have an amazing new desk chair. It’s all executive looking and super comfy. Apart from that I have been enjoying the nice weather we had over the weekend, I went to a 1920s party, had a BBQ with some friends, went to a birthday, read a book for the first time in months and I did go to three other concerts.

The first one was by Perfume Genius. They make dreamy melancholic music that you should just sit down for and listen to. The location of this concert was amazing. It was in De Duif an old renovated church in Amsterdam. It wasn’t a long concert. After about an hour I was outside again, but despite the short length it was amazing. The location definitely added to the atmosphere and made the music really come to life.

Another concert I went to was Tim Christensen and the Damn Crystals (TC/DC). I already wrote about TC/DC before as I have been raving about their album quite a bit. The concert was quite long, nearly 2 hours, but that’s because this band has been around for quite a long time. They played plenty of songs from their latest album, but mixed it up with some older songs. I really liked an older song which was called Time is the Space Between Us. Earlier in the day, the lead singer played a few songs in an acoustic set in my local record store so I also checked that out. Overall it was great music: fairly polished rock songs with a raw edge to them.

Tim Christensen & The Damn Crystals @ Paard van Troje

I had another concert last night: White Denim. This is a concert by a band of which I only know one song. I have one of their albums and I liked that but I haven’t listened to it enough to really know the music. I was therefore curious what they would do. As I am writing this before the concert took place, I cannot say anything on whether I liked it or not.

Lastly, work has been kind of crazy lately. Students are begining to feel the end is near and so some have started to panic. So my schedule has been filled to the brim with students wanting feedback or extra tries for final presentations. Luckily there are only a few classes left and then it’s time for exams which means grading. But I won’t have a tight schedule which I have to stick to, so that will make life easier.

University is also coming to an end for this year. In fact, I will have my very very last class this afternoon. Scary idea when you think about it. All I have to do is write two papers and then I can work on my presentation for the symposium in Berlin in August. And then I hope that I will have already worked enough hours on that paper to have finished my research training, which would mean that I only have my thesis left for next year. A whole year for writing a thesis should be enough don’t you think?

In a way I’m glad May is over, but I am also a bit sad as June will mark the end of a lot of things for me. But I have plenty of fun stuff coming up with more concerts, friends, work and school. All I know is that I will be keeping busy. How about you: what have you been up to?

Strength in numbers: Bullying & Confidence Tag

Strength in numbers: Bullying & Confidence Tag

I was tagged to do this blog by the lovely Alison. It’s been floating around youtube, but she decided to turn it into a blog. I like the idea of doing this and give my take on things. Not in the first place because I’ve never experienced any real bullying and I feel I’ve always been a pretty confident person (at least when amongst other people) which is how I explain my lack of that negative experience. Read my answers below to find out more.


Have you ever felt unconfident before and why?

I think I feel unconfident at least a few times a week. It sort of comes with the job. I feel most unconfident when I can’t answer students’ questions especially if they are English related. However, I try to view these questions and moments of awkwardness as learning experiences: I learn every day, just like my students. And since this is my fifth year as a teacher those moments of discomfort and self doubt are becoming less and less and easier to deal with.

The most unconfident I ever felt also relates to teaching. I was only 23 when I started teaching 12 – 18 year olds at a high school. To me, high school seemed like only yesterday and therefore it made me doubt whether I could actually do it. The fact that I look younger than I am and am only 5 feet tall didn’t help. However, I quickly learnt how I had to assume my role as a teacher and I still benefit from that now. I learnt that it doesn’t matter how tall, pretty or young you are: as long as you do the right thing you can be accepted by a group.

I don’t recall any moments of unconfidence when I was in school. I’ve always been deemed a bit weird and was therefore used to getting looks from a very young age, and I just stopped caring or being bothered by THAT sort of thing way before I even went to high school. I recall an old friend of mine saying: “I still remember the day you walked in the door and you were introduced to our class (I moved schools halfway through the school year when I was 9). You wore dungarees and had your hair in two pony tails at the sides of your head like Pippi!”

Well, that’s me for you: when it comes to clothes and the way I look I try to do my own thing, which usually means I’m doing the complete opposite of what everyone else is doing. Most 14 year-old girls are wearing make up and what not. I cut my hair short and wore boys’ clothes. Most people at my job dress very casually and I’ve had several colleagues remark: “your wardrobe gives me a whiplash, you wear completely different outfits every day! One day you look all sassy and lady like, the other you look like a guy. What’s up with that?”

Do you lose confidence when you don’t feel ‘pretty’?
No. I don’t lose confidence, but I get extremely cranky. Generally when I don’t feel pretty it’s an indication there’s something larger going on and I’m not doing good overall. That usually just makes me pissed off at myself (as that means that I haven’t taken proper care of myself yet again), rather than a loss of confidence.

What makes you feel confident about yourself?
Success in life, compliments from students, colleagues who want me to stay at my job, compliments from my professors, getting what I want. Wearing that one dress and a pair of nice high heels and walk onto the platform in the morning. I feel that as long as I still turn men’s heads, I have no reason for not feeling confident.

Have you been bullied?
No. If I have been, I don’t remember. People can never really pinpoint me, which is what I like. I don’t like the idea of being put in a box, but people do, so they try to box me and just when they think they’ve got it right, I change things right back up again. That makes it  harder for people to pick on me. I was never a full blown nerd, nor was I ever deemed ‘alto’, ‘gabber’, ‘popular’ or anything like that. I never fitted into one group, which made for people to generally leave me alone. At least that is my explanation.

The only time I came close to being bullied was when I was 15 or 16. I had short hair, the only girl in my school it seemed, and that made me a great target of course. I think they chanted something twice. I acted like I didn’t care and it stopped within a day. One of those girls even introduced me to one of her friends in a club once (long after they had started and stopped calling me names), explaining to him how they talked about me in school, while I could hear them. He looked at me and said: you really don’t care do you? I said no and he ended up buying me a drink leaving my class mate looked aghast at his behavior.

Did you every bully someone?
Nope. I was always on the fence for people who were. If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s bullying.

Whether you were bullying or being bullied, how’d it make you feel?
Bullying is one of the lowest human acts in my opinion. Together with lying. If you want to get on my wrong side you should do either of those. It makes me incredibly pissed and that’s something, because it takes a lot to make me angry.

How do you deal with bullying?
Like I said, I tried to help those who were. I believe that I was the only person in my group of high school friends who had never been bullied. We all banded together over the fact that neither of us really belonged with any of the in-groups in school. So yes, even though I was never bullied, I generally hung out with people who were. I tend to have some sort of build-in radar for sensing people who are going/ have been going through bad times. I also notice it in students. Give me some time with a group and I can tell you exactly who is doing okay and who isn’t. I won’t know what’s going on, but I know something is. 

Do nicer people seem more ‘beautiful’ to you?
Absolutely. If the wrapping is pretty, but the present is crap, I don’t want it.

Does makeup make you feel prettier?
In a way it does. It makes me feel more confident though. I think it makes me look different from my students and it helps me to make me look somewhat older. It’s actually the reason why I started wearing make up: to look more professional and have people view me as a teacher.

What do you think of the expression ‘beauty comes from the inside?’
I think it’s true. I generally pick up on nasty people very quickly and it’s a total turn off. Like Alison said in her answer: the outside matters in initial attraction, but if you don’t have anything else to work with past that, relationships (romantic, friendships or otherwise) are very short lived.

That’s it! Those are my answers!

If you want to do this tag too, be my guest. Both Alison and Kimberley have tagged everyone I pretty much know in the blogosphere, so if you are inspired by this post to also do it: go ahead! Leave a link in the comments when you do! I’m curious about your answers.