Maybe a Little Too Much About Myself

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By Jay Ayer

Anxiety is a huge part of my life. I cannot remember a day when just sitting in a room and relaxing actually felt like I was relaxing.

I cannot make a comprehensive list of what makes me anxious because it is always something different. Each day I sit and wonder why I worry when I don’t have to, but I worry anyway.

Basically, no matter how happy I am or how well life is going for me, I feel this constant drag that keeps me from enjoying any situation. My mind is cluttered with thoughts of time constraints, how I look, how I sound, if I forgot something, or if I am constantly making terrible mistakes.

Each day of my life I am in this perpetual struggle that keeps me from being happy. I often acknowledge the fact that I am happy and joyful, but those anxiety-ridden thoughts I mentioned, as well as several others, separate me from those happy feelings.

This anxiety has affected me throughout my life, often making it so that I had panic attacks that kept me from enjoying life. These anxiety attacks have been prevalent ever since elementary school, and I have refrained from discussing them with anyone I didn’t trust with the information.

I used to have these attacks in the middle of class in elementary school and early middle school, causing me to cry and causing me to appear as overly-emotional and weird to other students and teachers.

Luckily I learned to suppress them on an outward level before high school. I cannot imagine how high school would have gone if I was the person known for having anxiety attacks.

I thought that this was a good place and time to tell people about how anxiety has affected me because I have already opened the conversation about my life on this blog. I also wanted to open a conversation with people because so many people, including myself, often joke about having anxiety, but a serious discussion of the topic is often ignored in my conversations with others.

I have learned to live with my anxiety by acknowledging that it exists and that it will always be a part of me. I know that refusing to talk about it and trying to pretend it doesn’t exist would only make it worse.

I wanted to be completely honest with these blog posts because I wanted both the get tough information, like my anxiety, off my chest and possibly show people that they are not alone in their struggles.

I cannot think of a better way to end a series of articles describing who I am than to for the first time ever to publicly admit one of my biggest secrets. I hope I that anyone reading this will soon have the confidence to present their problems to the world with the hope of bettering themselves.

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Another Thing About Mself

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By Jay Ayer

I have a love for entertaining people. Even though I am usually incredibly awkward and introverted, the one thing that brings me out of my shell is the chance to entertain someone.

Whether it be through comedy, magic tricks, or simple party tricks, I always feel a need to entertain the people around me in some way. It may not last long, but those few minutes where I both excite and intrigue people is a great ego boost.

This showmanship-like behavior is how I began friendships with many friends I have now, and it is a defining characteristic of who I am.

I don’t have much confidence in my daily life, and I can be nervous and anxious in basically any scenario, but the second I begin doing card tricks or reading people’s faces for party tricks I lose part of those nervous feelings, making me more sociable in the progress.

I have been to several parties where I have taken control of at least have the party for at least an hour because that’s how long I can entertain people.

I use my showmanship to help express myself and relax. I have a big problem with not connecting with people at large social events, but I can begin that connection by entertaining people.

The night of my freshman orientation consisted of me repeating card tricks for three hours for the orientation leaders until well past 2 a.m. The next day when our group was stuck inside during the rain, I found myself holding an impromptu magic show for a group of about 20 people while the weather cleared.

Not only did that experience help me make connections with individual people, I found that I had gained a small reputation as the guy who knew magic. I was able to start my freshman year here at UWF with most people already having a positive opinion of me.

Without my need to entertain people, I don’t know how I would have connected with people during parties or during my freshman orientation. I don’t know how I would have met some of my best friends, and I don’t know how I would have been able to connect with people as easily.

Even More About Myself

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By Jay Ayer

I have difficulty focusing on many things. Lectures, readings, movies, and other things that require full attention to understand are difficult for me to pay attention to. This fact, however, does not mean that I do not absorb that information.

I find it easier to passively gather information than to actively listen to a person. Mainly, if I can listen to a source without being required to look at any visuals, I will retain more information.

For example, I listen to podcasts and informational videos while playing videos games. By doing this, I basically put myself on autopilot for the game and can listen to a vast amount of information for hours on end.

If you were to ask me what I did in the game, I would have no idea, but if you were to ask me any fact from the hours of information I had listened to, I could probably recite it to you.

I employ this strategy when in school because it helps me to learn new information more efficiently and effectively. If I listen to an instructor teach and pay attention to something else like doodling in my notebook, I retain more information than if I had given my full, undivided attention.

As confusing as this method of learning may sound, it works for me. This is just one aspect of who I am, and I want people to know this because I do not want them to think of me as rude or ignorant when I appear to not be giving them attention.

I feel that many people in my life may feel that I ignore them, but that is simply not to case. I learn by not paying conscious attention to anything. I feel that if I focus on things directly, my mind is cluttered with distractions that keep me from absorbing information.

And it is so interesting to me that these distractions, when acknowledged, help me focus more than when actively trying to avoid them. This entire post is confusing, I know, but I don’t know any other way to explain it.

Some More About Myself

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By Jay Ayer

As a human I am naturally afraid of things like accidentally hurting myself, falling from a height, and getting into a car crash. And while these events may be frightening in a general sense to me, they do not compare to my biggest fear: drowning.

Drowning is the single most terrifying thing in the world to me, so much so that I get extremely scared when watching movies or TV shows where a person has to hold their breath or is trapped underwater.

This fear began in 2012 when I was swimming at Pensacola Beach and was pulled by the waves just off the sand shelf beneath me. After I lost my footing, I spent what seemed like several minutes trying to catch my breath as I bobbed above and below the waves, swallowing sea water each time I tried to catch a breath.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had drifted several feet off the shelf and ended up a good distance from anyone around me. Luckily, somebody saw me and came to pull me back in.

Even though I am able to swim, ever since that day I have felt this aversion to deep and open water. I am absolutely terrified of going past anything chest deep at a beach or any other form of open water.

The good thing is that this fear has not spread to other parts of my life. I’m not irrationally afraid of showers or anything like that; this fear only applies to really deep and open water.

I never really had any fear of water or a swimming before what happened in 2012, and even though I have made efforts to return to that state of mind, nothing has helped to remove this fear from me.

I still enjoy to swim in deep pools, but I wish I could return to a day when I could swim in the ocean without being mortified of being pulled out to sea. I still swim in pools and even in shallow water, so I hope that someday I can escape this fear.

A Little More About Myself

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By Jay Ayer

In my previous article I discussed some pretty serious subject matter regarding my personal life. To lighten things up a bit right now I want to write about something in my life that I love: films. I am a film fanatic and can cite seemingly an infinite number of facts about movies, even one’s I have not seen. My friends often challenge me to name movies based off quotes, actors, or still images from certain scenes. My love for film extends far beyond that of watching a wide variety of movies. I am more interested in the production that goes into film making and the subtexts of films rather than just the final movie itself. I find myself watching movies for the first time and not even paying attention to the story. Instead, I am looking for clues in each and every scene for an ulterior message or subtle foreshadowing just so I can predict the ending. This tendency to focus on different parts of a movie allows me to watch one multiple times without getting bored. My favorite film, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, is one that I often revisit to just analyze on my own, and each time I notice something that I have never seen before. In a previous article, “Living in a World on Demand,” I discussed the fact that I often prefer to watch a familiar movie over viewing a new one. My continual analysis of certain films is the reason for this preference. I can watch a movie scene with someone and notice even the most minute details that fly over the other person’s head: the importance of a character glancing at a bottle before using it as a weapon, how subtly a character makes a comment that holds the resolution to a later plot line, among other examples. Sometimes I annoy my friends and family with how often I predict the endings of movies midway through us watching one, but sometimes my friends enjoy it when I break down a movie we really do not like. I will never watch a movie without automatically analyzing every single aspect of it, and this can sometimes interfere with how much I enjoy a movie, but I love breaking one down to its core and knowing every single fact about it. There have been days where I watch three, four, or even five movies for the sole fact of analyzing them. I have not been able to watch any movies recently, but I can guarantee that once I get some free time I will immediately try to watch more. Watching movies is by far one of my favorite pass times, and I will probably never stop re-watching them because I am obsessed with knowing all that I can about them. My love for film is one of the most distinct aspects of my personality, and I’m lucky that this is an aspect of myself that I can appreciate.

Camp Thunderbird, Show Me Your Wings!

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By Meg Hossler and Matthew Watkins

“Camp Thunderbird, show me your wings!” Now that we have your attention, let us introduce you to what place we called home this past summer. Camp Thunderbird, founded in 1969, is a summer camp for adults and children with developmental and physical disabilities. We serve a diverse group of people who come to enjoy a summer camp like any of you would. We do everything “normal” summer camps do, like, crafts, archery, swimming, bonfires, and talent shows, but with a few exceptions. We provide adaptive activities for all our guests, we help with self-care, we provide nursing care, and we help to diffuse a wide variety of behaviors. We hope you get to see a snapshot of what camp life is like and get the chance to grow like we did.

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Welcome to Camp Thunderbird! My name is Meg, and I serve as the Administrative Lead here. I work in the office and process all the applications for camp, I talk to concerned parents, and I give tours of our lovely camp to prospective campers. I also serve on the medication administration team and pass meds to our campers every day. Some fun facts about this summer: I saved a bat my first week at camp, I wore matching flamingo shorts with one of our guests, and I made 62 drug sheets for the all the medications I passed out.

Before I tell you more about camp, I need to give you some background on Matthew Watkins. I met Matt when I was a freshman in the Kugelman Honors Program, where we became instant best friends and began dating shortly after. In the past, we’ve worked together as youth directors at a few local churches. This summer, I convinced him to work at a special needs summer camp with me, something he has never done before and had zero experience in. To say I was impressed by the end of the summer would be an understatement. Matt was a rockstar at Camp Thunderbird. Every week, Matt managed a cabin of 15-20 mentally and/or physically disabled guests with ages ranging from 45 to 80. I had the amazing opportunity to watch Matt care deeply for each of our guests and develop relationships with each of them. I watched Matt change adult diapers, pass medications, manage extreme behaviors, and comfort guests during emotional breakdowns. After last summer, it is clear that Matt will be a great social worker after he graduates this fall. Camp has solidified Matt’s desire to pursue a career in the school system, where he can continue helping students of all abilities.

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Welcome to the Gator Cabin! My name is Matthew, and I am the Cabin Lead. It’s my job to spend the day with the guests, ensure all their needs are met, lead a staff of 10 people, make schedules, and report to the camp director about everything going on in the Gator Cabin. The Gator Cabin is one of four and houses the older male guests. Some fun facts about this summer: I went to New York City during my week off, I played banjo at the opening bonfires, and I served on the safety team at camp.

Meg was looking for an Orlando job this summer and found Camp Thunderbird. After applying, she called eagerly and ended up getting an interview with the director, who offered the Administrative Lead position on the spot. Meg did an amazing job in the office getting the applications through, working with guardians and group homes to meet the financial needs of guests, and gathering all the medical documents needed for campers to come. She also showed enthusiasm interacting with guests and giving tours. Meg’s position was new to camp, so she faced some adversity with it. However, she made positive changes at camp that not only made this summer better, but will also improve camp in the long run. During the last week on the job, Meg stepped up as camp was short staffed and worked with guests in the cabins on top of her normal job responsibilities. Without Meg going above and beyond this summer, camp wouldn’t have provided such an incredible experience for our guests. After last summer, Meg has decided to continue pursuing her passion for working with special needs, and she has joined the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association, and she plans to get her nursing certificate in developmental disabilities nursing, while also getting a doctorate in the future and pursuing research in this area.

A Little About Myself

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By Jay Ayer

It has come to my attention that, although this site has posted multiple articles about the past of several staff writers and members of Infinite Wisdom, I have not yet written anything too personal about myself. My bio exists on the Staff page, but that is only a cursory overview of who I am as a person; so I thought that I should cover several aspects of who I am over a series of articles. I guess I should start with one of the most prominent aspects of my life: my picky eating habits. People in my life have often compared my eating habits to those of a child’s because I constantly eat the same things each day while refusing to try most new foods. Now, I understand that being an adult and not being comfortable with most foods is strange, but that’s who I am. I wish I could say that my eating habits make life easier because I only have to buy and eat certain things, but this is sadly not the case. My entire life is a series of explaining my habits to people, with my embarrassment only getting worse as I grow older. There have been hundreds of occasions where I have attended events or visited someone’s house and I had to try to not act hungry when food is offered to me. I am not actively avoiding certain foods; they just never seem edible to me. This problem has extended far into my personal life because my family and friends could never take me places where foods I liked were served. I have on multiple occasions only eaten appetizers at restaurants because I cannot stomach what’s on the menu. I as well have a history of sitting through meals with friends and family, only to ask them to stop for me to buy myself food on the way home. The feeling of knowing that I drag people down like that with my eating habits is exhausting, and there are people in my life that do not understand the severity of my problem. Certain foods make me sick to look at. I cannot look at foods like onions, chili, and rare meat without having the urge to throw up. My habits have angered family members when, at restaurants, I send my food back to the kitchen if it has even touched food I don’t eat. They always said that being picky was not an excuse and that I was being childish and should just eat the food. Even though my family has lived with my habits my entire life, they still do not understand that I am not just picky, that there is something fundamentally different with the way I look at food. I have lost friends who thought my habits were too high maintenance, and I have caused several arguments between people who defend my eating habits and people who do not defend them. It is safe to say that my eating habits have not made my life any easier in the slightest. I encourage every reader who knows an adult picky eater like myself to offer understanding for their behavior instead of opposition towards it. I know my behavior is not healthy nor ideal, but I am trying to change. I have significantly cut down the list of what I do not eat, but the list still remains. I do not expect every reader to understand how much this problem has affected my life, but I do expect every reader to challenge their original thought about picky eaters.

Thank you for allowing me to share a little about myself.