travel without travelling

 

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As you may or may not know, I’m not the biggest fan of travelling. You could even say that I dislike it. This is, however, dependent on a number of factors – who I’m with, how I feel, etc. So it isn’t always awful.

One of the main issues I have with going abroad – i.e. physically travelling –  is that I don’t gain a whole lot from the mere act of seeing a new place. It does not fill a void in my soul, nor does it bestow me with the travel bug. I can count on one hand the number of times visiting somewhere new has put a bounce in my step rather than a weight on my shoulders. This unsolicited ‘weight on my shoulders’ has allowed me to delve further into the concept of travelling, and what it signifies for so many.

Why do we travel? For enjoyment? Distraction? Enlightenment? Perhaps for all of the above and more. The word ‘novelty’ itself has its roots in the Old French term for ‘new’; we are constantly seeking novelty from the daily grind. A new perspective. Or maybe we just want to get away for a while.

If travelling fundamentally consists of that which is new, why must we travel to experience said newness? Do we really have to physically transport ourselves to foreign lands in order to relieve ourselves of mundanity? To set out on a path of self-discovery?

When we break down travelling like this, we can begin to comprehend how the physical act of travelling is not necessary for travel to take place. Your mind is means enough for you to explore new realms; what’s to say that the beat of a song can’t warm you up like the blazing sun? A new city is a new story – find it within yourself instead of crossing seas to hear it.

If you travel to seek distraction or escapism, I am of the opinion that you may want to take a step back and pinpoint that from which you are running. Oftentimes the only way out is through; your problems will still be there when you inevitably return home. You are not escaping so much as you are stalling.

There is much to gain from considering what it means to travel rather than the literal act of travelling, or of transporting oneself to new places. When the concept of travelling is broken down, I would almost go as far as to say that I enjoy it; that is a revelation no plane journey could have given me.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

Latest video: https://youtu.be/AfrOSKclT5A

Twitter: twitter.com/clodaghmcginley

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acceptance over love

 

I can’t honestly say that I love myself. I do not embrace my flaws or scream ‘I am what I am’ over the rooftops. At one level, this makes me feel somewhat alienated from those who are unashamedly themselves. The people who don’t question every word they say. I don’t, however, let this bog me down; I may not love myself, but I accept myself.

There is a rhetoric floating around these days that speaks of how we must love ourselves before we love others. We must embrace our differences and eradicate self-loathing. On the surface this sounds ideal. We all just give ourselves a big hug and everything is fine! If only it were that simple.

As far as I’m concerned, it is far more important to accept yourself before you love yourself. Even if you accept yourself and you don’t end up loving every inch of your being, you’ll still be better equipped to face the world.

There is a strange guilt that comes with not expressing love for your (apparent) flaws; you feel as though your lack of self-love will inhibit your potential to love and appreciate others. You’re a disappointment to compassion.

This is where self-acceptance is key. You do not have to cherish your imperfections. You can acknowledge their presence and accept the role they play in your life, but loving them is unessential. I categorically do not love my crooked spine, asymmetrical jaw, introverted nature or tendency to assume the worse case scenario. But they’re a part of me, and that’s just fine. These things have taught me a lot, and they’ll probably continue to do so as I become older and – hopefully – wiser.

Let’s stop making people feel guilty for not ‘owning’ their flaws. You can feel lacklustre about yourself while continuing to love others. The more we accept, the more we can move on and unshackle ourselves from the impossible task of loving what we hate.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

Latest video: https://youtu.be/AfrOSKclT5A

Twitter: twitter.com/clodaghmcginley

Instagram: instagram.com/clodagh.mcginley

 

rigidity and authority

It can take a very long time to accept that you will never please everyone. Some people never accept it at all. They find themselves cornered by the opinions of others, unable to make any meaningful change in their life.

This is absolutely something I have dealt with; I can’t count the number of times I’ve woken up to searing self-doubt and non-existent self-esteem. It is no way to live, trust me.

A lot of it boils down to this feeling of never gaining approval from certain – wholly unimportant – individuals. No matter what you do they don’t seem to care. They continue to push their interests and their tastes upon those around them. It is exhausting even attempting to burst their bubble.

And thus we come to the issue. Why is their ‘bubble’ of what they deem to be ‘good’ or ‘worthy’ so definitive? It is a well-known fact that taste is purely subjective. What I hate, you may love. And vice versa. We all agree on that.

It is also a well-known fact, however, that it is very easy to present opinion as fact. It is disgustingly easy to convince someone that ‘this is better than that’ just because you say so. In short: rigidity of belief can translate to authority of belief if we are not careful.

Do not let this happen. If you like what you created, that’s the most important part. Whether or not other people like it is (unfortunately) not in your control; from a more positive angle, this also means that what other people like is not something that you are in charge of. This means that you are under no obligation to pay attention to what somebody says is good or bad. Something just ‘is’.

In no way is this post unique or groundbreaking, but it’s phenomenal how easy it is to forget that rigidity does not equate to authority. You will never, ever please the whole world at once.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

life gone by, life to come

Ah yes, another one of those ‘sorry for being so awful at updating regularly’ posts. In all seriousness, I am very sorry for being so bad at sticking to a schedule, or even making sure to post at least once a week. I’ve been incredibly busy with college and life in general. This ‘college and life in general’ stuff includes:

  • Completing my final year dissertation, which was literally months in the making
  • Preparing for final exams
  • Coming to terms with finishing education for good (it feels stranger than I thought it would!)
  • Recording on the Motherfoclóir podcast
  • Attempting to make plans for the summer
  • Dealing with goings-on in my personal life that take up a lot of time and energy

It may not sound like much, but it’s a lot for two short months. And there’s no real end to it all! I haven’t even begun my final exams yet, and life is… life.

That being said, there is plenty more to come for The Electric Oracle. I genuinely love doing this, and I love interacting with you all.

A few things to expect:

  • Regular posts (as in, once a week minimum) from the end of May onwards
  • The return of videos (!)
  • lot more structure
  • A documentation of my life after college, rather than just ramblings about anything and everything (but there’ll still be plenty of rambling, don’t worry)
  • A variety of people to feature, rather than just me and my face the whole time. Even I’m not that vain…

Anyway, thank you all once more for you patience and kind words, even when I’m not online as much as I should be. Plenty more to come!

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

optic (iv) | melting mazes

Would you believe it, the snow has returned to Ireland! This happens so rarely that I had to document it.

This period of time also marks the beginning of the end of my college career; perhaps the title ‘melting mazes’ has a double meaning. I hope that this is the end of so much confusion, doubt and entrapment. I didn’t enjoy my chosen degree at all.

I know that leaving college will probably bring even more uncertainty my way, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it…

And, of course, happy belated St. Patrick’s Day! Or as we say in the Irish language, ‘Lá ‘le Pádraig sona daoibh’ (law leh paw-drig sun-ah deev).

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

security lulls and shouts all at once

The future used to be my happy place. A place where I would be free to dream, achieve, and prosper. A place I would propel myself at the grand old age of 15, having come home from countless awful days at school, wishing it was all different. Fast forward seven years and things are not how I imagined they would be. For want of a more elegant phrase, life comes at ya fast.

What I am experiencing now is the future of 15-year-old Clodagh. In some respects, it’s exactly how I wanted it to be, and many of the worries I faced at that age are a thing of the past. I have, however, gone through excruciating psychological pain that I didn’t account for in the slightest. Pain that seeps into all elements of my life, tainting everything I love and live for. It’s been fun!

The changes I have endured mean that the future is a very, very different place now. I don’t dream of liberation so much as I crave security and long for contentedness. What’s more, seven years from now I’ll be 29, which is terrifying. To be frank, if I don’t have my life in order by then, I know that I’m going to feel like a complete failure. Mainly in terms of my career.

There is a simple remedy to this problem; settle right on down into a cosy, secure career and make peace with my life as it is. It almost sounds seductive. Certainty, approval, and financial security. What more could you want?!

This is where the lulling comes into play. I feel as though security is a kind of sleep you can fall into, blissfully swaddled in the rhythm of life – not dissimilar to the philosophy of Gurdjieff, who believed we all live in a kind of waking hypnosis.

I really, really, really do not want to succumb to security. This, however, is where the shouting takes centre stage. In order to live, we do need security of some kind. Financial security, a roof over our heads, etc. For this to happen, it goes without saying that stability in your profession is a huge help, if not essential. The worry that I could one day be struggling to keep a roof over my head yells at me every single time I think about the future. It ain’t fun.

There’s no real conclusion to this post, other than the fact that I know how hard I’ll have to fight both my instincts and the naysayers to prevent myself from falling asleep. I’d rather be painfully aware than blissfully unaware of what life could be like.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

(e)motion

Something I’ve only come to realise in the last year or so is the importance of feeling. No matter how crushing, you have to feel something to move on. To keep in motion. If you deny an emotion its breathing space, it will stop you in your tracks, entangling you in a numbing rut. Life stops.

Recently my personal life has taken an unpleasant turn, and to say that I am upset is an understatement. I have no idea what the future holds, nor do I particularly want to know at this point. The sheer anguish of uncertainty is awful, and I really hope things turn in my favour soon. But for now, I am sad.

On paper, this sounds grim. And it is. However, there is an unexpected positive amidst the grief. I am feeling again.

For a long, long time, I had convinced myself that emotion and resilience did not go hand in hand. In my mind they were poles apart; if the two came together it could only mean the destruction of resilience. The flow of tears washed away any and all effort to live through challenging times.

It is this idea of ‘living’ that has become clear to me. In order to live, we must experience. We must feel. If resilience allows you to ‘live’ through adversity, resilience must involve emotion. In truth, we feel our way through life; in order to be happy, we need to know what sad is. When we numb emotion, an experience gets lost in time. Our course of life is stalled and we don’t move as we should – or as we could. We cannot move on from sadness because we didn’t acknowledge the sadness to begin with.

Of course, the opposite is also true. If we stop ourselves from feeling happy, we cannot progress to sadness. Although derailing the course of emotion is tempting, it is an unhealthy coping mechanism acting under the guise of ‘resilience’. Unfortunately, this is a trap that I have fallen into.

Under no circumstances am I ‘grateful’ for this sadness that has taken hold of my life, but being able to comprehend the course of my life is something I am absolutely grateful for. I feel as though I am moving again. The true nature of resilience is clear to me now, and with a little bit of luck, this will only serve to benefit me in the future.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

missing in action…

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t posted on The Electric Oracle for two weeks. Two weeks! I think that’s my longest break thus far. I’m very very sorry, but I’ve been incredibly busy with college / uni, mainly to do with my dissertation. I’ve also been doing other bits and pieces on the side; I’ve been helping out on an Irish language and culture-based podcast called ‘Motherfoclóir’, and I’ve been preparing for Christmas.

Realistically, I won’t be posting as much on The Electric Oracle between now and Christmas, much and all as I would love to. But I deplore the idea of churning out posts for the sake of a posting schedule; if something isn’t up to par, I won’t put it out.

In the meantime, you can watch my latest video for The Electric Oracle here, you can find Motherfoclóir wherever podcasts can be found (iTunes, that little podcast button on your iPhone, and this link right here), and you can pray that I make progress with this dissertation!

Thank you for bearing with me.

Love and luck,

Clodagh x

personality and language learning

Today’s post actually comes from an essay I put together a while ago on the impact of personality on language learning. Part of the essay focused on the impact of Introversion and Extraversion on how we learn languages; personally I found it to be an intriguing topic, I hope all of you do too!

Extrovert Language Learners: Extrovert language learners tend to engage in conversation and employ intercommunicative learning strategies when learning a new language. Group work and active environments (i.e. environments with adequate levels of stimuli to keep the extrovert engaged) tend to work best for extrovert language learners. It has also been shown that extroverts tend to use more visual learning strategies than introverts (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988). This tendency towards visual language learning strategies relates to the extrovert’s preference towards external stimuli; “visualization is a way of making connection between elements of outer-world experience and the symbols of which languge is composed” (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988 : 8). Use of interactive materials such as powerpoint presentations and picture-association may therefore be effective for extrovert language learners. Teaching methods that require much interaction and communication would also be effective; extroverts are arguably more suited to an immersive environment due to their tendency to focus on external stimuli in everyday life. Total Physical Response (or TPR) may also suit extrovert language learners due to the emphasis on external stimuli. In an academic setting, an extrovert is more likely to feel comfortable in an environment with plenty of social interaction, such as an oral language class. This isn’t always the case however, and is dependent on the confidence of the extrovert language learner in question.  If, for example, an extrovert scores highly in the Neuroticism element of the Big Five personality inventory, the thought of making mistakes when practicing language aloud may deterr them and make them feel uncomfortable in such a setting. An extrovert’s level of Openness To Experience, another factor of the Big Five personality inventory, may also have an impact on how comfortable or capable they feel in a largely interactive environment. If an extrovert has a relatively low score on the Openness To Experience scale, they will be more conservative in their language learning technique and less inclined to participate in conversations on wide-ranging topics or place themselves in situations where they are surrounded by people outside of their peer group.

Introvert Language Learners: As a result of their internal rather than external focus, introvert language learners benefit more from independent learning strategies. Working alone in a quiet, potentially isolated environment where there is little room for distraction tends to work best for introvert language learners. Introverts also learn language better when they are given a chance to absorb what is being said in relation to context and meaning rather than diving straight into conversation like an extrovert would; this ties in with an extrovert’s aforementioned tendency to be more risk-taking than their introvert counterparts. According to Ehrman and Oxford, “the introvert is defined as being concerned with the inner world of ideas” and “tends to look for meaning and context before acting” (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988 : 8). Although interaction is essential for language learning, introverts may benefit from more passive learning methods; something as simple as overhearing a conversation can enable the introvert language learner to absorb what is being said, piece together grammatical structures and learn new vocabulary. This is in contrast to the extrovert language learner who, by nature, would be more likely to join into the conversation without hesitation than passively listen to it. (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988). Teaching methods such as the Grammar-Translation method may be of benefit to the introvert language learner due to the lack of emphasis on oral language. The structural approach may also be effective given the introvert L2 learner’s tendency to find meaning and build systems in language learning rather than going straight into language practice.

Generally speaking, we all tend towards either introversion or extroversion, even if the distinction is marginal. In some cases, however, it is possible to be classified as an ‘ambivert’. An ambivert, as defined by Mercer in Psychology for Language Learning (2012) is someone who “exhibits the traits of both an introvert and an extrovert” and may value time spent alone or in solitude just as much as spending time around other people (Mercer, 2012 : 248).  An ambivert scores exactly 50:50 (or shows extremely marginal preference) between Introversion and Extraversion. They are therefore lucky in the sense that they can benefit from a wide range of language-learning strategies should they choose to make use of them. They are capable of working both with large groups of people and on their own, can focus on both internal and external stimuli to equal extents and can give equal amounts of attention to the written form of a language versus the spoken form. Depending on other subfactors such as attitudes towards language-learning or motivation for language acquisition, ambiverts can make the most effective language learners due to their capacity to be flexible in their language learning techniques. Contrasting techniques such as the Structural Approach and Total Physical Response could be equally effective for the ambivert depending on the other aforementioned subfactors of the language learner in question.”

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

P.S. – Watch my latest video here!

learning to construct

Something I’ve hit upon of late is the benefit of construction. Of making a point to construct rather than destruct. It can be easier said than done, but bear with me.

We all go through destructive periods in life. Times where we almost want something to be torn apart for the sake of it. Personally, I have found myself almost wanting to fail my degree just so I can feel something again. Indifference is hell.

When you start to feel like this, it is essential to make a conscious effort to construct. If you feel like destroying, put your mind elsewhere and create something. It can be as simple as tidying your room, or baking a cake. Really.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find that when I’m making an effort – albeit unintentional – to keep my life in check, I am sending a message to my brain that now is a time to construct rather than destruct. So my brain stops hitting the big red button that sends everything to pieces.

Slowly but surely things will come together again. Your autopilot will put things in order and keep you safe rather than forcing you down the horrible path of self sabotage.

This advice isn’t as simple as ‘bake a cake the next time you feel your life is falling apart’; if only it were that simple! No. Baking a cake is a baby step, perhaps even a symptom of a constructive mindset, one that can be cultivated over time should you make a point of doing so.

Lots of love and luck, and apologies for the lack of writing last week!

Clodagh X