Slipping Into The Mindset

Just over a week ago, I moved to university, and met the six other people that I now share a flat with. One girl has cried a lot since she got here. Personally, I find the concept of homesickness after only a few days of being away a little strange, but there are also a few more unusual habits that I’ve noticed. For one, she keeps all her food and cooking equipment in her room instead of the kitchen. As well as that, she also never seems to eat that much in front of anyone. Another flat mate and I were discussing this, and her comment was ‘it’s really strange, like she wants us all to believe that all she eats is a pot noodle a day or something’.

As time has passed, I’ve thought about it more and more. At one point, I considered for the first time that maybe she has or is developing an eating disorder. I found myself, for a very split second, thinking ‘but she’s definitely not even close to skinny so I must be wrong’. It took less than a second to realise what had just crossed my mind, and to reverse my thought process. How could I, after everything that has happened, be so naive?

I don’t know her well enough yet to make a good judgement, and I don’t know what has been her lifelong norm. I’m also very aware that this could be just our own obliviousness with regards to what she is eating, or she could have one of several other physical health conditions. What concerns me about my thoughts is not that I considered the possibility that she may have an eating disorder, but the way with which my mind discarded the idea so quickly.

For some readers, that thought process may seem perfectly reasonable; for me, it is shocking. For months now, I’ve been working to try and get people to understand the eating habits of my best friend. People have written off my concerns with comments ranging from ‘I only ever bump into her in the supermarket buying food’, to ‘she’ll be fine now her mum knows’, to ‘she eats at home’. There is also the one comment that disheartened, shocked, and angered me more than any other: ‘she’s too fat to have an eating disorder’ and ‘she’s not skinny enough to need to worry yet.’ How could people have such an unrealistic understanding? Why could nobody see what I could see, and why wouldn’t they listen to me? Didn’t they know that it’s not the weight that matters?! It’s been a massive frustration of mine for a long time.

But now, I think I can understand how easy it is to stereotype a person who has an eating disorder. If I, after watching everything that I have over the past few years, can still occasionally think that, then what chance does anybody else stand? It’s so easy to presume, and often it can be difficult to remember that it doesn’t always work like that. At the time same time that it still angers me that all the people I’ve tried to tell, who I prayed would provide comfort and hope, won’t change their mindset after several conversations, I can now sympathise with their initial moment of confusion.

Initially, it can be so easy to fall into the trap, regardless of how well you think you understand. For me, it was a split second and very shocking mistake, and a mistake that I hope to never make again. Perhaps if like me you’ve just met someone, then don’t jump to conclusions either way. Never presume something that you haven’t been told, because it is not based on fact. In my case, the subconscious mind from a distance past jumped to conclusions, and I feel very guilty. In the cases of many, it’s definitely the conscious mind that comes to such a conclusion

What I think is important however, is that you’re prepared to adapt your views. This is the side of stereotypes that I really know about, because I’ve been screaming out for help for my friend for months now. Nobody listens, and slowly, it’s killing us both. Perhaps it’s not those initial considerations that really make a difference, but the later ones that matter. Listen to the people that are crying out to you, and if someone is screaming for help, please listen, try to understand, and trust them, regardless of how the situation might seem at first glance. If someone has come to tell you that there’s a problem, that probably took a lot of courage and they’re unlikely to be lying. Initial thoughts based on your own interpretations are one thing, but if you’re told there’s a problem, and THEN you decide that there can’t be because someone is ‘too fat’ or similar, your mindset is the real problem. The difference may be subtle, but that’s the mindset that angers me. That’s what ruins lives.

You can’t see an eating disorder, and please, if someone is crying for help then I’m begging you, to try your very hardest to never ever slip into that mindset. It has the potential to be the most fatal mistake that a friend, or anyone else for that matter, could ever make. It takes away hope, and it rips away the sunshine.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Finally

When something finally happens, you’ve usually been waiting for a long time, it usually brings about a sense of relief. Results day is finally here, exams are finally over, and I finally trained hard enough to be able to run 10K. Finally I understood that piece of work, finally they registered me on the leader qualification at Rainbows, and finally we made it to the train with just one minute to spare.

It’s so easy to sense that relief, grasp it with both hands, and then realise that your moment of hope was a terrible mistake. I learnt that lesson the hard way earlier in this summer, and I’m determined not to make that same mistake again with university.

You see, earlier this year, I finally did something that I’d been wanting to do for a very long time, but could never quite summon the courage to do. Initially, I felt a sense of relief. I told someone, I’d passed my worries into someone else, and I was proud of myself for finally doing something that I didn’t think I’d ever have the courage to do. So I let go, but I did it too soon. I was so relived that I was no longer alone that I felt completely free, but all too soon reality came crashing down, and I realised that I was back at square one.

Now, I worry that I will enter a similar situation with university. I was so relived that I managed to achieve the grades that I needed to get here. Finally, after years and years of wanting this, I’m here, and I’m so excited. Right now, however, it’s a little odd. For such a long time I’ve been aiming for this, and now that I’m here, I don’t have a new aim. I worry that without that sense of purpose, I might get lost, and the reality of where I am and what I’ve got to do to stay here may come crashing down. I also know that day could be any time, and it had the potential to be very soon.

I’m hoping the fall after the high of relief will not hit, because I for sure am not prepared for such a situation. I don’t think I can cope with another fall just yet. It would probably result in deadly consequences, as I have a tendency to get stuck in holes for quite a period of time. In a world where everything feels so new, I simply cannot afford such a slip. For now, I’m just going to keep looking for that new goal, that new ‘finally’ moment to aim for.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Trusting You To Carry Me Home

Before I came to University, my flute teacher told me a story about how her now best friend was the first person she met at induction at university. They had to sit in a circle in alphabetical order, these two sat next to each other, they smiled, and now they’re best friends. I always thought it was crazy that things could happen like that, but the more I think about it, the more I reallise that actually, it could be possible.

I arrived at university just over a week ago, and my biggest worry at that point was making friends. After seven days of induction and seven nights of partying, suddenly, it doesn’t seem half as scary. Everyone you meet smiles, shakes your hand, and introduces themselves. It’s just so easy, you don’t have to ‘try’ and make friends, it just happens!

Another of my worries was alcohol, and tonight, when a girl who I’ve barely known for a week promised to get my drunk, it’s safe to say that I was shitting myself.

What my new flat mate did however, was the exact opposite of make me drunk, and for that I am so grateful. She let me watch her make up the drinks and okay their alcohol content, she didn’t pressure me into drinking lots at prees, and gave me shots in the tiny lid of the limoncello. When we headed out, she checked I was okay, and held my hand to guide a very dizzy me through the crowds. I entered the party on strict instruction to make sure I danced lots, and we had a fabulous time. Every time I looked like I was flagging, she checked I was okay, grabbed my hand, and we carried on dancing. Later, curled up in bed, I text her to say thank you, even if I didn’t quite get drunk, I’d had fun. She said that it’s about finding your limits, and soon, I’ll trust my flat mates enough to know that they’ll carry me home.

On the way back to the flat, she told me that I was very similar to her best friend at home in all manner of ways, and that she found it really cute. Slowly, I’m beginning to think she’s very much like mine, too.

This girl doesn’t know my story, and why I don’t like to drink, but it didn’t matter. She could see it was going to be difficult for me, and approached it in exactly the right way.

Maybe one day, we’ll be close friends. I sure as hell hope so.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Is the silence really that safe?

You’re right, sometimes there is safety in the silence. Sometimes, to sit and ponder with your own thoughts can be a blessing, but many a time, it can be deadly, even if you don’t realise it until afterwards.

I read a post yesterday that got me thinking. After just a few mere words, I was questioning everything I’ve ever known, and everything I’ve done over the past years, months, and weeks.

I know, that for me at least, the silence isn’t safe. The silence is scary, the silence is dangerous, and the darkness is full of creatures waiting to jump out and grab you.

The silence isn’t about wading through the sea of emotions, because the water is too deep to wade. You think it’s okay, because you know that you can swim. The comfort that you can do it alone is always lurking, but all too soon, you realise that the current is too strong, and you cant swim in this sea. The silence is about spluttering, coughing, and even drowning in my own thoughts as I am dragged under the waves and plummet to the bottom of the ocean. Talking can often provide a lifeline. Breaking the silence is like seeing the life buoy being thrown out, and reaching up to grab it. It takes every bit of energy you have left to lift up your arms, and for a split second, as you’re stuck under the water, you think about just surrendering to the waves, but slowly you realise that it’s going to save your life. In the moment of struggle, giving up is easy, and the peace of drowning is tempting. Fighting the silence can be difficult, but taking that life buoy, and grabbing an opportunity to talk can be what saves you. Time to think is important, but it’s all too easy to be swallowed by the silence.

For me, someone who fights a constant battle to break a lifetime of silence, I know that entering it is something that I would never wish upon anyone else. It doesn’t matter if you have to because nobody cares; you want to, to be alone and left to make your own decisions; you don’t want to waste anyone’s time with your feelings; you don’t want anyone to know that you aren’t okay; or you just can’t hack talking anymore. It doesn’t matter, because each can destroy a person. Left with your own thoughts, your mind spins and the same endless pattern slowly drives you insane. Bottling it up, over thinking, they’re so dangerous. More dangerous than most people ever care to realise.

Maybe I’ve missed the point, and there are more types of silence than I realise, but although it horrifies me to admit it, the danger of silence is just too great. Once you’re under that wave, it’s so hard to break free into the open air once more. Oftentimes, a break to the silence is necessary, but never ever is prolonged silence important, it’s simply a death trap, always on the horizon and ready to pounce.

Just remember, it’s okay not to be okay. There’s always someone who cares, you’ve just got to find them.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Mixed Emotions

So, today was the day that I moved to Uni. How do I feel? I’m not really sure.

After weeks of excitement, the closer it came, the more scary today seemed. In fact, when I got up this morning, I was bricking it. When we eventually hurried my bags to my room, it was back to excitement.

With a couple of the others I headed to the first talk, nervous, but determined to relax, keep talking, and make friends. Since then, I’ve met the six people in my flat and whilst seeing someone drink straight whiskey intimidated me a little, I was relieved to find that on the other end of the spectrum one of my flat mates doesn’t drink at all.

I’m having fun. I took it easy on the alcohol tonight to get used to my surroundings, but then the club was awkward. I was clock watching, and generally unhappy, not even remotely tipsy enough to enjoy being cramped up in a hot sweaty room.

The midnight coffee and cake made me smile, but now, as I lie in bed, I’m not really sure how I feel. I can hear the club below, and I know that’s the end of my sleep this year. I’m worrying about how my friends are getting on and when I’ll see them again, and I’m worried about how I’ll cope this year. I’m excited for what the next week will bring, and even though I feel like I’ve got some people that I ‘know’ now, the concept of freshers still terrifies me.

It’s all just mixed emotions. Massively jumbled, and I’m not sure how to feel.

A few face times tomorrow should set my head straight.

For now, as much sleep as I can get whilst ignoring the banging below.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

I’m not ready to grow up.

I’ve given up with adults. They’re generally useless, and so I don’t want to be one. I don’t want to be useless. Useless is not for me, because I want to inspire, provide hope, and comfort.

I’m not ready to say goodbye. I’m not ready to be an adult. I’m not ready to take responsibility for myself. I’m not ready to leave school. I’m not ready to do my own washing, my own cleaning, and cooking every single day. Most of all though, I don’t want to be an adult because recently, I’ve decided that you can’t count on adults. And I don’t want to be someone that my friends can’t count on. I don’t want my friends to be adults, because I need to be able to count on them, too.

I’ve decided I won’t be like all the other adults. I’m going to be someone that you can count on, and I’m going to try my best to grab the stick, even if it is the wrong end. I won’t give up, like they all do.

As for school, letting go is hard, but we will have to learn to let go of much much more in our lives.

It doesn’t matter how many birthdays I cried as a kid because I didn’t want to get old, we will grow up. Life goes on, the sun keeps shining, and we’ve just got to make the most of every single second.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

That One Friend

You know that one friend who seems to do things that are more kind than the things that anyone else does? Who makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? How about the friend who wipes away your tears, laughs all day, and takes you out for coffee?

I have a friend like that. I have a couple of friend’s like that, but I have one friend who is more than that. That one friend who I know that even if she was dying would come and see me if I needed a friend.

The problem of course, with that one friend, is when you think the feeling is one sided. It’s not mutual. When they make your heart flip, you don’t seem to make their’s flip. It’s disappointing, because no matter how close you are and how many secrets you share, you feel as though you could loose then at any given moment. When however, you realise that you are wrong, the feeling is amazing. It doesn’t matter if you make that realisation quickly, slowly, in a time of need, sadness, or happiness, making it will always be special. The time when you realise that actually, they DO need you. You are a good friend, and most importantly, you make their heart flip, too. The little things like letters, random face times, and stupid gifts make them smile, too. They smile not because the gifts themselves are so fabulous, but because you are special. And the fact that you’ve taken even just a second to consider them and send them something or say hi means everything. My best friend has always made my stomach churn because she cares, and the things she does are special because they’re done by her. Now, I think I’d be right to say that I have the same effect on her. It’s crazy, and it’s crazier that I’ve only just realised it, but I love that.

Now, I feel like all those ‘open when’ letters were worth my time. Writing each one was special for me, because I was writing them for her. Now I hope that for her, reading each one will be special. What I’ve written is probably bullshit in a lot of cases, but I hope that she’ll enjoy reading them, because they were written by me. I’ve tried.

Yes, okay, call me crazy. I’m still not sure this is normal. But it’s how life goes, right? Nothing is really ‘normal’, is it? Not in our world, anyway.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Coping Alone

Why is it that when you suddenly decide that you want to speak, there’s nobody there to talk to? Adults make forgotten promises and give false hope, seemingly never there when you need them, or just not saying what you need them to say. I’ve given up with adults, talking to adults is pointless.

There’s one person I want to talk to right now, but I can’t. When this kind of thing is going on, and I’m hearing the news I’m hearing, there’s only one person that I want to talk to. But my best friend is currently 380 miles away, and she’s only going to get further on Saturday when I go to Uni too. It’s not like the summer, or even A Levels, when day time is sacred but the nights can be filled with text messages, sleep is too important now. She’s officially a Uni student, and she doesn’t have time for late night conversations, even if she thinks she does. If she’s not sleeping, she’s working. Every single day at Uni counts, and there is no escaping that reality.

All I want is an email, a text, a phone call, something. Yes, I Face Timed her today but that was just nicey nicey catch up. I just want someone to ask if I’m okay, and to say they’re here to listen. Out of the blue, to ask ‘how are you doing?’ I can’t ask her to do that though, she’s busy becoming a doctor. I miss her so so much, and it doesn’t matter how badly I want to talk, I can’t ruin it for her again. I messed up badly enough the last year or two, I can’t make it go wrong for her again.

Someone said today that we were so close we were like sisters. I love that. I love that we can be that close and I don’t want to loose that but I don’t want to ruin uni and it’s all so hard to decide what to do.

I just want someone to talk to, someone who won’t let me down, and someone I can trust. I don’t want them to interrupt, I just want to talk it out, to let it out. I’m hearing and feeling so much and I’m struggling on my own. Sadly, there is only one person I can think of right now that fits that description, and I just can’t ask that of them. I could write an email, but the response is never the same. You don’t get advice as you go along, and the reassurance just isn’t quite right. I’m sure I’ll be okay though, everything is okay in the end.

Really though, I just want a hug. That, I definitely cannot have.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Heartache

I decided, that since I have a lesson tomorrow, I should probably get out my flute. Of course, I jumped straight into my super difficult grade eight pieces that I haven’t played for at least ten weeks. It sounded awful. Okay Alex, warm up, play a few scales, and try again. Still awful.

Okay, scrap that. Lets try my old grade six and seven pieces. Better, still not great.

Disney book. Much better. It finally kind of sounds like me!

The more I played, however, the more I realised that the music wasn’t the problem. Of course, lack of practice is never going to help my technique, but the longer I played the more sickĀ I began to feel. The strange thing was that it wasn’t an ‘I’m ill sick’ or an ‘I ate too much’ sick, it seemed to be more of a nervous kind of sick. That’s silly though, how can I be nervous about playing some easy pieces on my flute in my bedroom when the only people in my house are my tone deaf family? I’m not nervous, am I?

It seems that there are a few issues related to playing my flute today. First, I’m worried. The fact that my practice didn’t go well concerns me because not only will my lesson tomorrow be unproductive, I will also probably be told off for not practicing. On my last lesson. That sucks.

I haven’t practiced because I’m afraid, and to be honest, that’s the real issue here. I’m afraid to play for a number of reasons. The first is because it makes me feel like I’m failing for no reason. My new music is really hard, and if I thought I could get my grade eight, it would feel like it had a purpose, but I know I can’t have lessons this year, and so the purpose is void. I’m fighting for nothing, no goal to strive for.

Secondly, I fear playing because it gives me an emotional escape, and that can trigger a lot of memories, both good and bad. They’re not all flute related, but the music allows you to ignore the present and delve into your mind, and that can often be dangerous.

Probably though, the reason that I really feel sick is because the flute is simply another reminder of what I’m leaving behind. The flute signifies my school days, my safety, and security. It allowed me to make friends, to grow up, and to become an adult. If I really think about it, becoming an adult is scary, and the flute is just another reminder of what I’m leaving behind now I have left school, both physically and emotionally. That hurts sometimes.

I only managed fifteen minutes before I found myself collapsed in a heap, tears rolling down my face. I promise that I really am excited for University, it’s just difficult to leave my routine behind, and all the things that I love. Flute has been a huge escape for me the past two years, and loosing that has undoubtedly resulted in heartache.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

The Power of the Written Word

Yesterday, I received a lot of post. I’d ordered a laptop case, and another of my Uni textbooks arrived. My dad had crossed out his name on a parcel and written ‘Miss Alex’ in permanent marker, before putting it on my bed. In that was a couple of memory sticks and a hard drive that he’s bought me. My five donation blood donor card arrived, which was very exciting! Finally though, there was a letter. I recognised the handwriting immediately.

My best friend, who has now been at University for a week, had written to me. I expected a bit of twee ‘this is awesome and I miss you’ but for some reason, what she actually wrote hit me much harder than that. I don’t wish to share the details, I feel like then it might not be as special, but it made me smile, and then it made me cry. Half way through freshers, when I write her a reply, I’m going to struggle to top that!

I always forget the power of a letter, and the importance that can be found within it. When someone takes the time to write to you, it simply makes you feel valued. And that’s a lovely feeling.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw