WHAT'S REAL WITH MAGDA KACZMARSKA
What’s your favourite color?
Right now, it has to be green.
What’s your favourite ‘go-to’ recipe?
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with a couple of my own small twists - it's so simple but so damn good!
What self-care habits do you intertwine into your daily routine?
Small frequent breaks, whether it's from work, being on my phone for too long or if I'm immersing myself in a project and I need to step back for a breather. Also, I'm drinking a lot more water!
What's your favourite book and what book had the largest impact on you?
I can't pick one, but I'm currently reading A Little Life and it's already up there with one of my favourites. As of books that have had the largest impact, I'd say Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses series. I started reading it as a child, and I would properly compare it to what was actually going on in the world at the time, and it made me think about and question society through these previously very naive eyes. I think, without those books I wouldn't have had those profound thoughts which helped me want to learn and understand things that weren't really spoken about in my family and school at such a young age. Another book that has helped me learn a lot about black oppression is Why I No Longer Talk to White People About Race. I read it over a year ago and I've probably referred back to it on an almost daily basis.
Who can you talk to when you need to get something off your chest?
My boyfriend and my sister - they're basically my best friends.
Where’s your safe place?
My everyday safe space is just my bedroom (I get a lot of privacy there), but there's one place in the world where I feel my absolute most calm and that's the Isle of Scilly (I've been going there every year since I was little). I can't describe how content I feel when I'm there.
Have you ever dealt with anxiety? If so, what triggers it and how do you calm your mind?
Yes - it gets crippling! I still don't think I know how to properly deal with it - usually I just have to ride it out and try and rationalise my fears and worries. Talking about it helps - I have some go-to friends who I contact if it gets bad. The triggers are very varied also; a lot of it is social, for example things on Instagram, my work life or friendship worries and dramas. I'm also terrified of flying and that can trigger many other irrational fears. The list does go on but I've definitely learnt how to work around it on the day to day basis. There's no one way of dealing with it either, and I think I'm still very much in the process of trying out new ways of calming my mind and taking myself to an even safer space than I have right now. Maybe that safe space is completely imaginary - a world only I know. That's something I haven't explored yet!
Have you or someone you love ever been in a dark place? If so, what were the steps taken to get out?
Me and many of my loved ones have. And it feels like the world is crumbling around you and there's no way out - but then you get out, look back and realise how much better things can be even though you didn't think it at the time. Building support systems is crucial, whether it's friends, therapy, family etc. I think it's also important to know that there is another positive side to you away from the darkness, because you've been that person before so you can be that person again. Sometimes, I find it useful to try and separate those two sides of you as if they're two completely different people, and try and make those two people interact and help each other. What would your positive self say to someone who's feeling low? At the end of the day, the person who needs to fight off that darkness is you; your support systems are only there to help you through it. Which is scary at first, but when you do it once you know you can do it time and time again. There's always strength somewhere within, even if you're especially struggling to find it.
Do you think social media affects your mental health or has any other negative impacts on you? If so, how do you best deal with it?
As much as I dislike admitting it, as I spend so much time on it, it does definitely have some negative effects. There are pressures I feel that would be completely eliminated if I didn't have Instagram, but then again, I can't deny that there are enjoyments and satisfactions I get from it too. I've built a small following and it's given me a wider audience where I can bring up issues and possibly educate, and I can also share my passions with those same people. There's a beauty in that, so when I'm feeling anxious and low about Instagram, I remind myself that I am allowed to switch off and be quiet for a bit, I don't need to document everything, it's not real life and I'm also using it as a positive platform.
What’s the biggest change you can identify within yourself in the past year?
I think every year I get a little more sure of myself; what I want, who I want to be and where I want to be in the future. I've definitely found myself to be much happier with where I'm going in life surrounding my career, friendships and relationship comparatively to previous years.
What changes do you want to see within yourself in the coming year?
I want to be healthier, both mind and body. I want to read more, sleep better, eat better and process difficulties in a healthier way.
What’s one of the hardest things you’ve had to go through in life? How did you get through it?
I don't think there's just one event I can pinpoint, because when I was 15 things felt harder because I was so much younger and naive, and when bad things happen now it can also feel like nothing could ever be worse. At the moment though, I think one of my biggest battles has been losing a close family friend to mental health. It happened nearly 2 years ago and I'm still trying to figure out how to find peace with it.
What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
I don't think I'd say anything. Giving advice to a teenager rarely works anyway haha. But I definitely had to figure things out for myself and grow some independence, and I think the troubles and traumas I experienced when I was 16 had a vital part in shaping my current beliefs and approaches. I wouldn't want to get in the way of that.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt?
When I was 14 my friend kept telling me 'when you smile the world smiles back' and I used to hate it because it didn't seem to make any sense (I was struggling with depression). But after some time, I finally got it. By spreading positivity, even when you're feeling crazy low and even if it's in the smallest doses, that positivity comes back like a boomerang. And it feels great.
If you could change one thing within society, what would that be?
Less change and more get rid of: Racism.