Fear of the Unknown

I am afraid of the future. I’m excited, but at the same time, it absolutely terrifies me. In some ways, that makes it even more exciting though, and I love that recently I have learnt to embrace feeling scared and turn it into a positive. When I am overtired though, it doesn’t make the achey feeling in my stomach any easier to handle, knowing that nerves can be the same as excitement. Especially not when those nerves stem from the thought of another year of teaching being over in less than three weeks, and another exam season beginning. Especially not when the fear is due to moving again in September to a new location, starting a new job, meeting new people, and learning to cope again. Especially not when I am terrified of my family this summer, and if we will remain a family with the tensions caused by my brother in the house.

I don’t know what is happening. I can’t control the future, and there are some situations that I cannot meticulously plan for like I do in every other aspect of my life, and it makes me feel a bit sick. In fact, today, it has been making me feel extremely sick, hot, and queasy, despite supposedly being in a lab where I needed to be focused.

My thoughts are no longer thought’s, they’re simply inexplainable feelings that I cannot give names to. I don’t think about what it is that’s scaring me, I just feel afraid. I can’t control my feelings when I can’t name them or reason for them. I don’t like that very much, either.

To be honest, I’m not really scared of the future – that’s the exciting bit. I’m simply scared of the unknown. That is as far from exciting as you can get. That’s petrifying.

Mental Health

They told me that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem. I nodded.

They told me that depression is a serious illness, and you can’t just ‘snap out of it’. I nodded.

They told me that the stigma of mental health needed to be broken. I nodded.

And then mental health started swallowing the people closest to me, and suddenly nodding wasn’t enough any more. This was real, and nobody ever taught us how to cope with that.

I think, I calculated when drunk last night, that there’s around 10 people who I’m not sure I could live with out. I think half of them have an issue with mental health. Eating disorders, self harm, depression, and other variations much more complicated than I’m ever able to understand. Some days, even for me, it can be a battle of fear to get up. Im terrified of a slip that will mean I lose them forever. I’m worried about them, and I think about them all, every single day.

And then, in ways much much less serious than my friends, demons started swallowing me, too. I’ve never admitted that to myself before. I’ve never accepted that in my own little way, I’m not normal. But it’s true, and I’m very lucky that right now, my life is going very well for me! This past 6 months or so has been awesome.

But mental health, especially when it concerns those who you really care about, is scary. I wish I’d written this post when I thought of it. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if not for the alcohol, and 100 meters of darkness. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if I’d had written this post last week when I first thought of it. Last week, when one of my very good friends took an overdose, and tried to commit suicide.

It’s scary. It’s absolutely crushingly scary, but I carried on with awkward laughter through my last week at university. And then I realised that I also had a million deadlines, and I wonder why I’ve had a headache for a week!

I’m lucky to be able to say that it wasn’t the end. My best friend told me, a long long time ago, that if it’s not okay, it’s not the end yet. Perhaps one day the end may come while it’s not okay, but for now, we have to live our lives with hope. I have to jump back onto the mountain that I fell off last week, stay as positive as I can, and bash out another set of exams, just like I did in January.

Sometimes you need to cry, and that’s okay. That’s human. Especially when it involves close friends and mental health. Life was never designed to be easy, but it’s a shame that school never made us better prepared for these situations, when they rolled off their facts to a classroom of nods.

Now, in my degree, when before lecturing on schizophrenia or depression, they give us those same basic facts that they told us in school, I don’t just nod. I breathe, I swallow, and I think, love and hope. It may just be facts for many of you, but it’s my reality, and I wouldn’t change my friends or family for the whole entire world.

Resolutions

It has been three months since I last wrote on this blog, and I feel like perhaps, with 2016 upon us, it is in need of a little bit of love. I have forgotten to write, banished it from my life in the hope that I would be free from the memories that this blog carries with it. I wanted this year at university to be different. And it has been, and I love it, but we can’t just forget the past, and I mustn’t forget how important this blog has been to be in times of need. As exam season approaches again, I need to find the time to blog, and to be who I am on my own, not when I am surrounded by the madness of everyday life.

A lot has changed in the last few months, and this year, I know I have achieved some of the goals on my bucket list. I’m proud of how far I’ve come this year, and I’m proud of my friends and family, too. Each and every one of them.

Today however, is the start of a new year. I guess the norm would be to set resolutions. But do I really have any? I have things I’d like to achieve this year: get my Rainbow sleepover licence, pass all my exams, have a fabulous start to my placement, just to name a few. Resolutions, though? Changes? I don’t think so. Is change really all that important? Of course, because change happens around us all the time, but equally I don’t feel like change is something that I can actively control, and I am beginning to accept that. I could make a resolution to be happier, but whilst there’s things I can do to encourage that, there’s far too many factors outside of my control.

Instead, I plan to wipe a few more things off my bucket list, try my hardest in everything that I do, and make the most of every second that I have, especially with those who mean the most to me. A new year shouldn’t be about forced changes. I don’t want to be one of those ‘new year fitness’ type people, and I won’t be.

Because as I told someone very late last night, I’m not cool. I don’t want to be cool, and I don’t care about being cool. I don’t need to be just another human clone, fitting into society as society has forced us to feel as we should.

I am me, and I’ll always be me. Nothing can change that.

When I Grow Up

The last few days have been a struggle. The reality of exams has kicked in and it’s hit me, like I thought it would. This year has been a little different to the last few though. I’ve lived a life of lies, pretending that I’m okay, trying to be positive. I’ve done well. Most of the time, I’ve even convinced myself that I’m okay. Clearly though, I’m not, and the tears shed in the last few days demonstrate that pretty well.

This morning, I made a decision. Ironically, that decision had me listening to Matilda again, specifically ‘When I Grow Up’. Because I’ve decided that when I grow up, I won’t be like my parents are. A friend told me this morning that the world is bigger than university and exams so it doesn’t matter if you fail.

But it matters. Of course it matters, for so many reasons. I can’t fail. It’s difficult to put into words why, and why exams have always called me so much stress. I’ve never understood why I need to work so hard and achieve so highly. I’ve never been able to voice it, or explain to it to concerned teachers.

But in reality, I’ve always understood, haven’t I? Of course I have.

But when I grow up, I won’t be like my parents. When I grow up, I won’t put pressure on my children. Of course I’ll encourage them to try, to work, to put in effort, but I won’t ever allow myself to make my children feel how my parents have made me feel. I don’t want them to feel that I am putting pressure on them. When I grow up, I want my children to know that I’ll be proud of them for trying their best, regardless of if their best is an A or an E, a grade eight music exam or scoring a goal at football, giving a speech or saying their promise as a Rainbow, going to university or working in a local shop, inventing something that changes the world or overcoming a fear. I will be proud of them no matter what, as long as they try their best. It doesn’t need to be academic, it doesn’t need to help their university application, and it doesn’t need to earn them money. Because my children won’t just be a letter or a number or a percentage. My children will be people. Just like I am.

To my parents, I may not be a person. I may be a grade, or an expectation, but I’m learning that I’m so much more than that. I am a Rainbow leader, I am a volunteer for a children’s summer camp charity, I am someone who loves to draw, I am someone who cried with happiness after getting a merit in a flute exam, I am someone who would stay up all night if my best friend needed me to, I am someone who wants to cure cancer, I am someone who wants to watch the sunrise, I am someone who wants to run a half marathon, I am someone who wants to overcome my fears, I am someone who is excited to go to turkey next year with her best friend, I am someone who wants to learn basic piano and publish a children’s book.

Yes, I want a 1st or a 2:1 in my degree. But I must not let that define me. Because I am so much more than that. I am someone who tries their best, I am someone who cares for others, I am someone who has hopes and dreams, memories and photographs. I am someone who smiles and cries, just like everyone else.

I am someone that actually felt the need to add to her bucket list ‘take an exam without stressing’. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to escape the expectations that my parents have set and the pressure that they have applied. But I’m going to try. I always try my best, and this won’t be any different.

Because when I grow up, I want my children to feel valued for who they are, and how can I teach them to do that if I don’t value myself?

So yes, perhaps I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself. But I’ve always been desperate to please my parents, and this is the only way I’ve been able to. When I grow up, I want to value myself for who I am. I want people to be proud of me for who I am, and not what is written on a piece of paper. It’s going ot take work, but I hope there’s people out there who care enough to help me.

When I grow up, I will be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to before you’re grown up. When I grow up, I will eat sweets everyday on the way to work and I will go to bed late every night. And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I’ll watch cartoons until my eyes go square and I won’t care because I’ll be all grown up.

Because even if you’re little you can do a lot. You mustn’t let a little thing like little stop you. And my kids won’t. Because they will be people. They won’t be grades. When they grow up, they’ll be exactly who they want to be and who they can be. Their best will always be enough for me, and nothing you can say will change that.

Social Decisions

I’m a bit of a social outcast, be to honest. Always have been, I think I’ve told you before. But I made a decision, recently. I decided that I don’t want to be a social outcast forever, and so through the fog and haze that has been exams, revision, and worry, I’ve found my positive mindset on one front, and I’ve tried to socialise. Lots. I don’t want to be the social outcast anymore.

Socialising, however, takes it’s toll. Until I get to know you, I’m very much the introvert. Decisions are a danger zone and direct questions terrify me, as my flute teacher must well know by now! So to be in a room with a group of people is hard. Not only do I have to think of the correct things to say, I also have to perfectly articulate answers which will be accepted by my peers and say them in a voice that is loud enough to hear. I don’t watch TV, and I don’t really listen to music, so in ‘pop culture’ topics, I’m lost before the conversation has even begun. I can’t explain exactly why it’s so hard, and once I know you, I can talk for England, but new-ish people, pressured situations, or direct questions in a one-on-one environment (particularly about difficult topics) are extremely tricky. So while sitting with those that I will share a house with next year doesn’t stress me out (I don’t overheat, which is my main sign of stress), it’s exhausting.

Working in a group is obviously bad because I’m rather the perfectionist, but even I don’t really understand my issue with just talking to new people. I don’t even think it is an issue, I don’t dislike it, I just subconsciously avoid it. Bizarre. Maybe it’s about worrying that I won’t fit in or will say something wrong? I honestly and truly don’t know.

Recently though, I’ve been trying to socialise, and I decided that if I didn’t jump head first into the deep end, I’d never get it. So, I did just that. With the people I’m living with next year, I went for tapas, stayed up really late and played cards, chatted, scrolled through Pinterest, watched movies, and played more cards. Every single night. On order to try to fit in, I stayed up much later than I would usually on a few occasions. I’ve also spoken a lot more and spent more time with my course mates now. I like them, we have something in common. Same is with the guide and scout society, they’re my favourite people at university. Again, it’s probably because we have a ‘weird’ interest, that doesn’t conform to twenty first century first world social idealism. I know they’ll accept me, and that’s important, because guiding is one of my favourite hobbies.

So I’ve tried hard, and I’ve learnt a lot. But it has tired me out, and I can’t keep it up. I’m always going to be independent and an introvert, and whilst I know it’s vital that I socialise for my health and well being at university (and to force me to take breaks from studying), I’m always going to need time alone. I haven’t had that this week. Now, I need to work on finding the balance. Making that decision can be tricky. Do I work? Do I socialise? Do I sit in my room and do my own thing? Do I run? Do I play my flute? But I can’t continue as I am, because I’m starting to loose sleep in order to be with just myself. I’m not getting the vital ‘me’ time that I need to function. I’m not able to ground myself, to completely 100% be myself, to let go, and to fully relax when I am around others.

I will strike the balance, I just need to keep making these social decisions, and keep that positive mindset. Now is the hard bit. Now, I have to make the decisions sensibly. It’ll be all too easy to slip back into my lonely cycle of work with no breaks, but however much I like it, it’s not healthy. So whilst it’s okay to say ‘no’, I need to say ‘yes’, too. I have to make those decisions. And I hate decisions. Even more than I struggle with socialising!

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

Today is national kite flying day, apparently. I think it’s more of an American thing, and I also don’t think it’s a very well known celebration, but it’s kite flying day all the same, so I should probably talk about kites.

Flying a kite isn’t an easy task. It can take years to build the perfect kite and to master flying it so it soars through the air with grace, like a ballerina. It’s even harder to harness that power to pull a buggy, or to hoist a person into the air behind a boat (the latter of which I am very lucky to have had the chance to do).

Sometimes, friendship is a lot like a kite. Letting go and allowing distance to come between you can be difficult. Saying goodbye can be hard, because you don’t know what’s going to happen when they’re so far in the air. To let go of their hand is hard, because you don’t know if they’ll fall, if you’ll get tangled into a tree, or if the wind will break the line and take them away forever.

But a good kite flies well. Whilst you maybe a little nervous to set the line running, a good kite looks beautiful in the sky, and dances with grace. A good kite has all that it needs to soar through the air to the delight of the person flying it. A good kite has pretty colours, and was often hand built with love and care by the flyer. They love that kite, and so they made sure that the string was strong so it could not be lost. A good kite flips peacefully back into the arms of it’s owner when the wind dies down. Yes, there may be a bent pole or a little fraying at the edges, but it’s nothing that isn’t easily fixed.

Eventually, we must all learn to fly alone, just like the kite. We must learn to let go of our friends, and to let them soar, too. A kite that takes years to build is still no fun if it never leaves the house. One day, they will fall, and when they do, we will be there to catch them, as they will be there to catch us. But while the wind is strong, and you have the chance, soar through the sky together, at a distance, and relish the beautiful view. Appreciate the rolling hills and the blue sky. Let the wind take you, and let go of their hand for a while. You might find that you both learn, and that when you come crashing to the ground, you appreciate each other more than ever before.

Everyone has to learn to fly. For some, it can take years, but we will get there, so long as we have a crafted kite maker to help us along the way, and treat us with care. And when we do fly, it’s beautiful, and it’s something that we don’t ever want to forget.

Things Happen

Life doesn’t always treat you kindly. In fact, often it can seem like life has it in for you. Life doesn’t want you, and you deserve nothing, because life is evil. Life can leave you broken, torn, and dying. Life can leave you suffocated by pain, and it can seem impossible to escape from the past.

It doesn’t matter though, because the world goes on, no matter if if is with, or without you. It’s taken me a very long time to realise that. You can stop, you can stress, and you can take your time away with tears and worry, but it doesn’t stop anyone else. They will leap ahead of you, and jump the gate. You will be left behind, drifting further and further away, until you are no more. And I wasn’t put on this earth to waste away. I have a bigger purpose than that. I have dreams I want to pursue, places that I want to go, and hopes to strive for.

That’s why love is important. Things happen, people die, children are born, people do wrong, people are hurtful, and people are hurt. But love keeps us grounded, and trust can keep us moving on, one step at a time. It allows us to keep up with the crowds, even if just for a while you have to be dragged along. It may take fifty years, but one day, you’ll realise the power of love and trust. You’ll realise that living in the past is only wasting the world, and you’ll realise that you must move on with your life. Things happen, and you don’t want to miss the happiness and laughter because you are trapped by the chains of pain.

But without love though, you will never be released from those chains. You may love those around you despite your pain, but it’s not until you can realise that someone loves you back, and loves you with every part of their soul, and maybe, just maybe, you deserve that love that you can trust them. Even then, trust can seem scary, but if you can leap over the gate and take that step, love will guide you. Soon, you’ll catch up with the others, you’ll be in sync with the world, and I’m told that it’s a much easier place to be.

And now, I’ve realised that love. I’ve allowed myself to trust. And I’m ready to start climbing the mountain. For now, we both struggle, and we drag each other in dribs and drabs, but if we can get stronger, we can help those around us. If we can achieve our hopes and dreams, we can save lives. You can be a doctor. I can cure cancer. She might save the starving child, and he may keep the heart of the baby kitten beating.

All we need to do is remember that things always happen. The world always turns, so let it happen, let the past be the past, and let’s strive for a better and happier future.

Contented

Today was always going to be hectic. I bag packed for four hours this morning, and had a flute lesson straight afterwards. I was met at my flute teacher’s house by a friend, and we went for a very rushed coffee. It’s been a day involving a lot of standing up, forced smiles, and encouraging words for the small people in yellow who I was helping at the supermarket. It was a little awkward, and I’ve been feeling a little emotional as of late. I knew the leader at bag packing is having a hard time, she told me twice today that I was awesome and someone to be relied on, and when I said goodbye, she said she would miss me. I really wanted to give her a hug and say thank you, but even though I’m eighteen now, I didn’t feel like I could. A similar thing happened when I left my flute teacher’s house. It was a little strange. My flute teacher knows most of my life happenings, but it’s just one step too far.

Of course, as is with everything right now, my best friend *cough, we’re retitling her ‘big sister’, asap* changed things. You may remember that back in March, I wrotethis post about lighting a candle in the church with my best friend. Tonight, we went and did that again. This time, we lit two candles each in the church. I don’t know what her two candles were for, and she doesn’t know what mine were for. I’d tell her if she asked, but there wasn’t a chance. I don’t know what it was that made tonight feel any different from any other time that she’s comforted me when I’m having a tough time, but today just was really special. I could see it in her eyes that she really meant everything that she said, and that every hug she gave me, when she held my hand, or gently touched my arm, it was about love, friendship, and nothing else. In a strange way, it kind of upset me more. She wasn’t doing it because she had to, she was doing it because she cared. She essentially had to carry me out of that church, and walk me back to the car with her arm around me and my head resting on her shoulders, whispering comforting words once more. She’s given me her ring again, the one that says ‘believe’. She’s told me to keep it until January. It’s one month until I see her again. It’s going to be a loooong month, and there’s going to be battles to fight. But I’ll do it, and then I get three whole days of her time, and that’s so exciting!

I’m lying on my bed now, my eyes still stinging from the tears, but I’m strangely content. I let music back into my life today, and a couple of days ago, I let my best friend back into my head, too. And breathe. I’m safe now. She tells me it’ll be okay, and that she’s always here for me. We may fight, but we’re essentially family, so it doesn’t change anything. I believe her. Christmas is a time for belief, and a time to be content.

Fear of the Future

I’m paralysed by the memories of the past and fear of the future. I’m afraid to step forward and move on, to concentrate and to apply myself, because I’m absorbed by less than happy happenings. I’m ready though. I’m ready to talk, I’m ready to let go, and I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to ace this university course and make the most of the future.

I just need someone who will listen to me, and they don’t always exist. They’re busy, they’re in pain, and they’ll probably let me down. They might not have the time, and I’ll be left to wait again. But I don’t know how much waiting I have left in me. I don’t know if I can wait another day. My hopes are built, and I’m not sure how I’ll react if I’m let down this time. Now I’m afraid of trying to let go, and surely that’s backwards?

Time Passes

I’ve been thinking about time. No matter how hard we try, time is one thing we cannot change. Each moment ticks past at a steady pace, never getting faster, or slower. It doesn’t matter how hard you wish, you can’t go back to the past, or make the future come quicker. Our lives are governed by the passing of the seconds, the minutes, the hours, and the associations that we as humans make with them.

Ten years ago, I was just a little girl, attending primary school, brownies, swimming lessons, and generally having the time of her life. I used to spend a lot of time with my nan and older cousins, and laugh the days away. I was bright, I loved (was perhaps a little obsessed with) school, and always worked hard, and had good friends.

Two years ago, I was just starting my A Levels. These were the hardest years of my life, and I found the pressure unbearable at times. At the start, two years ago, I was ready to drop out. I didn’t think I could pass, and I was convinced that I couldn’t achieve. I had my design teacher, my flute teacher, and my best friend on side, but it felt like the whole world was against me. I was worried about exams, I was stressed with the workload, I was trying to balance too many plates, and I also had my best friend’s eating habits to worry about on top of everything else.

In two years time, I want to be doing a placement in Australia. I want to swim in the Great Barrier Reef, and I want to have crossed some more items off my bucket list. I want to have a fabulous time at Charnwood, I want to have visited Turkey with my best friend, and I want my degree to be going well. I want to have finished my ALQ for rainbows, and I want to be on my way to getting my Queen’s Guide. I want to be an ATE monitor.

In ten years time, I want to be curing cancer. I want to be doing everything in my power to make lives better for those around me.

In fifty years time, I want to be happy, married, with children. I want to feel like I’ve made a positive impact on the world. I want to have friends that I’ve known for years and years, and I want to know that I’ve got people that I can rely on, always and forever.

We can hope, we can dream, but we can’t change the past. Time must be accepted, and we must live for today, because you don’t know what might happen tomorrow.