Dobrý den once again readers.
This post is going to be a bit different from my last. I've had a lot of different things go through my mind in the last 10 days. I would say that in general for everyone in my Remote Year group that this first month is a period of discovery. We're learning more about who we are, what our tolerances are, and what we really care about in life. We're also learning about each other and forming new relationships. This is exciting but can also be somewhat troubling. In this post I plan to cover some of these things as a series of short thought-blurbs/essays, but I also don't want to make it too serious so I'll be sharing some more photos I took around Prague. To head it off before someone takes my comments the wrong way, I don't mean my thoughts below to be taken as a negative of my experience. I just think it's important to be honest with myself and the world about who I am and maybe I will help put to words something that others in my group are feeling too.
During our “Big Day” one thing that struck me as interesting is when the group was asked to stand if they described themselves as an introvert, about one third to one half of the group stood, including myself. Afterwards I found out from several people that they were surprised that I considered myself an introvert due to the fact I've participated in many group activities and have generally attempted to be outgoing. One of my personal goals for my Remote Year journey is to form deep and meaningful relationships with others. There's many different ways that this could come to be, but in all of them it requires me to put myself out there and meet my fellow remotes, which is exactly what I've been trying to do.
I think in some ways, many people misunderstand what it means to be introverted or extraverted. The terms come from Jungian psychology and in the words of Jung: “Extraversion and Introversion are to do with the direction in which an individual's energy habitually flows; whether outward toward the object - as in the case of extraversion, or inward toward the subject - as in the case of introversion.” In my case, I tend to be a very contemplative person, and I find that I am energized by interesting and intimate conversations or by being alone with my thoughts. When I am in a large group for an activity, even if I enjoy it I will find the activity mentally draining and may need several days of alone time afterwards to recuperate.
As to being outgoing, I guess I've always been somewhat outgoing and definitely a bit loquacious, but these things don't stem from extraversion but rather from effort on my part to not let my introversion hold me back from forming relationships and my confidence in myself. So, I suppose you might classify me as an “outgoing introvert”, if there is such a thing. At any rate, I hope to continue doing group activities with my fellow remotes, but I will definitely be slowing things down a bit as time wears on to try to find my balance point. I've definitely gone far past my balance point in the last couple of weeks, as I think many other people in our group have as well.
On Anxiety and Zones
The image above is not the same one, but very similar to one that was shown during “Big Day”. It is important because it helps to describe the state of mind and being that we are in as part of the program and within this journey. Our goal is to break out of our comfort zones and put ourselves into the learning zone while trying to avoid the panic zone. As someone who suffers from social anxiety though, I must say that the last couple of weeks just getting to know everyone and participating in large group activities has definitely crossed the threshold a bit for me. I think this will relax as things move on and smaller groups form within the larger as is already somewhat happening.
I've been self-managing my social anxiety through meditation, self-reflection, breathing exercises, and situation avoidance for many years and for the most part have been successful. The newness of everything though has been somewhat overwhelming, although in a good way. Nonetheless, on three different occasions in the last week I've suffered a minor panic attack. My anxiety in particular is mostly brought on by social situations in large groups, closed in environments with lots of people, et al. So a week packed with daily group events, including dancing in an underground night club last Friday has been a bit out of the usual for me. Very cool, but something I need to take a lot more care with going forward. I think everyone in our group are currently trying to find their rhythm with work, play, sight-seeing, and trying to avoid the feeling of missing out (FOMO). I'm no different in this regard, it just may be that my rhythm is a bit more work focused, and a bit less outgoing than I tried to be my first couple of weeks.
A passerby took a photo of myself and part of our group outside Lucerna, the nightclub we visited in Prague.
I really got back into photography only about a year ago, but have found it to be a hobby that is both relaxing and revealing of both myself and my photographic subjects. One way in which it's already changed me in some ways is that I used to not be a fan of insects in general (putting it mildly) and after getting a macro lens and taking photos of insects I now find them fascinating rather than creepy. During this trip I've had another such transformative experience with photography. I've heavily resisted taking photos of people or sharing any of the photos I've taken of people in the last year as my focus has been on wildlife, landscapes, birds, and insects. During the trip though, I've had several great opportunities to do portraiture, and I've found I'm not half bad. So with the permission of my subjects, I'd like to share a few of the portraits I took this week.
A group of us went to Reigrovy Sady, a park near where we're staying in Prague to watch the sun set on Thursday June 9th. We brought some good wine, some cheese, and other snacks, and it was a blast. While there, I tried my hand at getting some portraits of a few of the participants.
Here's a candid portrait of Alicia, laughing while talking with someone.
Here's David, posing for his photo, looking like a baller.
A group of us had gone earlier in the same day to watch the sun rise from Charles Bridge, which affords us a view of the Prague Castle and other parts of the skyline very nicely. Of course no sunrise watching would be complete without mimosas! Here's a group photo from that morning:
Here's a smaller group photo with Prague Castle in the background:
During our sunrise party on the Charles Bridge, I asked if anyone wanted to pose for portraits. Several people took me up on that offer. First up was Angela who posed perfectly to get the entirety of Prague Castle in the frame.
In this one, I had just told a joke and got Meera laughing which is when I snapped the photo. I think it turned out pretty great :)
By the time Dhivya got into place for her portrait, nobody in our group could stop laughing. Somebody had told a real thigh-slapper right before this photo was snapped, hence the full-body laughter. Great moment.
Here's Meera and Angela together with the tower at the entrance to Charles Bridge in the background.
More Photos From Around Prague
Prague Castle as seen from the Charles Bridge near sunrise:
As promised some photos of subway/metro stations I took on my return trip from the sunrise at Charles Bridge:
I still have to process the photos I took from the top of Petřín Lookout Tower, but you can look forward to them being on Flickr or here at some point in the near future.
What's Up Next?
I've spent the last few days pretty much staying in the apartment and working so that I'd be able to go out and do some things this weekend and next week. I went out with a small group tonight to a tapas restuarant which was pretty awesome. In preparation for later this week, tomorrow (Sunday) I'm going to head out and find a traditional barber shop somewhere in Prague so I can get a hair cut and a clean shave. A guy on the subway with a nice beard that I complimented gave me a tip on a good barber shop that hopefully takes walk-ins. I also need to find a good pair of dress shoes, a tie, and a dress shirt for the symphony.
Wednesday the 15th
I'm going to be attending a showing of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, Op. 55, “Eroica” by the Prague Symphony Orchestra with a small group of remotes. We got really good tickets for cheap ($4 USD per person for front-row seats) since we're going to the 10AM “dress rehearsal” showing. I'm taking off work this day to attend since I love going to the symphony, and hopefully by this point I will have found appropriate clothes to wear.
Wednesday is also the last day for my fellow remotes to submit their talk proposals to me for next Sunday's mini tech conference.
Sunday the 19th
I'm hosting a miniature tech conference at our coworking space, K10, with open attendance. Since several other activities are planned over the weekend and this first month in particular was pretty packed with things people needed/wanted to do, I don't know that attendance will be great the first time around. At the very least, I will be giving a talk entitled “Basic InfoSec for Business Travelers” with an accompanying blog post when I finish my slides. Several people have expressed interest, but have mentioned they'd probably only be able to do it next month, so I anticipate that when I repeat this in Belgrade we'll have a larger group. My hope is to have one of these mini tech conferences monthly in each location and give 4-5 people a chance to get up and present a topic, both as a way for people to get used to presenting and build their portfolio and as a chance for the technical folks in our group to cross-train and learn from each other as we have so many disciplines present within our group.
Until next time, hezký den.