Chasing a Dream

Sometimes, I think that hopeless wishes can ruin a person if you think too much about them. It’s something I’ve come to realise over the past few weeks: I love to dream but if I focus on them too much, I might lose my sense of what’s real.

There’s a certain form of escapism to wishing for something so painfully, with all the love and willpower you have. It eclipses everything, to become a golden roar inside your head; it sparkles yet embraces your mind with a sinuous haze. There’s a beauty and a fragility to it because it could be broken with the slightest wind and you never know if something that you’ve been concentrating on for so long will ever happen: will it be snatched away? Will the tower of your hopes be knocked down by some overactive child? Still, it lets you forget the outside harshness for a bit – it’s not a perfect solution but occasionally, it can be comforting and can let you experience a whole new imagination which won’t have the consequences of real life. God, I wish I could have that.

It all sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I certainly think so. However, if the world recedes to be replaced by the visions behind your eyelids, you can forget the very foundations that make you up as a person and that comprise the very solid world that you live in. You can become so attached to those in your dreams, the echoes that are somehow more vibrant than those in real life, that you start to equate them with each other. This is a high generalisation but think on it: if you spend time building a hero inside your head who is only a shadow of that outside your mind, discovering that can break your heart.

Some dreams are glorious yet attainable, others wonderful in their irrationality. I may run away with them; I may linger in the fog of happiness for one more second and emerge to the steel-grey of my rational mind to find that all the feelings of bliss have been forced down into a box of wishes. Your rational conscience could tell you that what you’re looking for may not happen but there will always be that insistent inferno of hopes, burning brightly with possibility. It’s not easy to separate them: I think that to mix rationale with visceral want can be the healthiest solution but how can that be done when the lines between them blur so elegantly?

You can’t be blamed for having an imagination. When you dream, you open a whole new way of thinking which can be so lovely and healthy to do. It’s when the lines of beautiful wishes and what’s really happening don’t cross that you have to take a step back and think: what’s real inside my head? Always follow your dreams, as long as they can cross into the realms of reality and as long as following them will still connect you to the world outside your mind.

I feel like a child. Desperately hoping, when those hopes will never come to fruition, I exist in a whirling reverie. After a feverish disappointment when things don’t come to pass, I – or maybe anyone – am crushed. Is that dangerous?

Really, it’s very hard to balance cold reality with the thrill of running after an elusive fantasy. I’m not sure how well I can do it.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Bring on the Summer!

Heyy!

On Thursday, a day before the rest of the school, those that hadn’t managed to find outside work experience broke up for the summer holidays. Naturally, because I’m lazy and also couldn’t find any useful outside work experience, that included me. Today would have been a half day and the teachers thought that there was no point in us coming in. How was I to complain – it was a free day.

The end of the year was bittersweet. This week was great: I’m now the editor of the newly-formed History school magazine; that’s useful for my personal statement. I may be helping to set up another school-wide magazine too so I’m basically a 100% professional journalist. Not to mention it’s fun, along with sitting on my own in the Sixth Form area. It was surprisingly peaceful: I got things done and most of all, I was happy. I’ve figured out that school only doesn’t make me feel awful when I know I’m doing something useful and I’m surrounded by people who don’t panic me. However, two of my friends – Oak and another friend – are leaving this year. Saying goodbye to them made me feel so sad because they’ve both been here since year 7 and now, I’ll be the only VI one in my year. Oak’s also become one of my close friends and so I’ll miss her so much.

Now that I’m technically “free” for 6 weeks, I want to get my life back in gear. This year has been so emotionally exhausting, in the worst and best ways possible, and so I want my summer to be a change from that. No – I need it to be a change because otherwise I may sob.

To that end, in a similar way to Jasmine, I’ll be listing what I want to achieve this summer. She inspired me to make this so thank you for that! Maybe I won’t get all of this done but I want to approach the next month and a half with a positive mindset.

Do some work

Even if summer is for relaxation, I also need to do some schoolwork in some capacity. If I don’t, I’ll put myself at a severe disadvantage next year because we’re starting A2 content for A-Levels and I need to get on top of things. That’ll include rewriting and looking over AS-Level work notes, working on English and History coursework which involves researching, reading books for school and getting myself prepared. I didn’t apply myself last year; part of my mind-set change is to fix that. Further reading is also important but I won’t be putting so much emphasis on that because more will be put on reading for pleasure.

Look at university-related things

I may want to ignore it but university application is a looming prospect; I need to start working on it. As I discussed in this post, I need to draft my personal statement and also decide which universities I want to apply to by looking more at courses and modules. Yaaay, more brainstorming and internal (or in some cases external) screaming! If I end up actually breaking a window from my shrieks of frustration, I’ll have to apologise to my parents.

Enjoy myself at a party

I know, right? Me going to a party is so funny; I’ve only been to those types of parties twice before. However, to my shock, it’s happening again: Ivy invited me to her friend’s party. I don’t know many people there, not going to the school they all go to, but I think I’ll prefer that. I’ll always be nervous but it’s time I let go and just enjoyed myself, whatever that max mean. Either when people know me incredibly well or they don’t know me at all, I feel like I can be myself because in those situations, there’s no judgement. To that effect, tomorrow, I’m looking forward to releasing some of the emotions I’ve been feeling this year in the form of meeting new people and having a good time.

Visit my friends and connect with old ones

I’m the most happy when I’m surrounded by people who love me and who I love in return. Because of that and because I want to have as many good days as I can, I want to meet up with my friends. Not only that but I’d love to connect with some old friends, such as those I haven’t seen in a while from the VI (visually impaired) community. Rapunzel, who you can read about here is coming to stay in the first 5 days of August; I’m hopefully seeing Willow on Tuesday and I’m going shopping with Rose, Poppy and my sister at some point. It’s not being used to combat loneliness any more; it’s now a way to meet the people who make me smile the most. If I can one day meet my old primary school friend, that would be beautiful but I won’t hold out too much hope for that happening. I also miss some of my friends who left from last year but if I’m proactive, I can talk to them too.

Go volunteering and walking

These are some of the things that make me feel the most active and alive. I’m going volunteering tomorrow and I want to at least go walking once or twice a week: long walks around the park or by the river, with my dad or friends. When I’m doing those two things, I don’t feel self-consciousness: it’s equal parts peaceful and lively and with volunteering, I get to spend time with my two oldest friends and there’s the opportunity to be in the community where I can meet new people. It’s also made me more confident and outgoing.

Come to terms with my feelings

Recently, I’ve been feeling some pretty odd and, if I were in a bad mental state, scary things. Luckily, although I’m not happy constantly, I’m more okay than not and so I’m better able to deal with them. Over this summer I really want to understand why my brain works how it does. Going to see the GP will help with that; I don’t want to cry over them. I’ve done enough of that before. It’s okay to feel what you feel as long as you neither damage yourself nor others. I must remember that before I rob myself of any happiness.

Meet up with bloggers

As with last summer, I want to make arrangements to meet some more internet friends. If all goes to plan, I may be meeting Astrid which would be a dream come true because I’ve known her for so long. If you know me quite well and you want to meet up at any point, don’t be afraid to contact me: I’d love to meet some of you! One day, I’ll go to a blogging convention (I probably won’t mention who I am though) but that can wait until I’m more confident.

Properly organise my room

Is it weird that this calms me down? I have an old coin collection to clean and sort, CD’s to go through and give to charity, braille books to… What do I do with them? I feel bad if I recycle them. Anyhow, that’s just one house: at my mum’s, I need to sort out a proper shelving system for the year I’m still here because I’m getting so frustrated with the fact that I can never find my clothes because they’re misplaced. As well as that, I need to do something with my old Maths books. As you can read, I have so much to do but it’ll make me feel satisfied to do it. That’ll be one less thing to stress about and I have the whole summer to make my rooms my own again.

I’m excited for this. It’s rare now that I’m happy; I’ve been snatching up the beautiful feelings I’ve had the last couple of days and holding them close. Continuing that, through this list, will truly help me. I hope.

What will you be doing over the summer? How have you all been feeling recently! Let me know in the comments!

From Elm πŸ™‚

Perilously Happy

A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought I was prone to sudden changes of mood but here we are now and for a day, maybe even two, I’ve been happy. Not utterly happy by any means (I haven’t been for such a while) but if you’re looking at a scale from ecstatic to miserable, I’m slightly more than halfway leaning towards the happy side. Compare that to my last post and you’ve got a whole lot of confusion going on inside my head.

Yesterday, I got up at 6 in the morning to travel to Birmingham. It wasn’t just a random journey: my friends and I went to an annual event for visually impaired people. For once, I was barely stressed: I was meeting L, Violet (a great friend I’ve known since I was 11) and Rapunzel (my ex-girlfriend; an amazing friend) on the train after travelling independently for a bit of the way. I knew that everything would be fine. That mindset, I think, really helped me and set the tone for the day.

On the journey up there, the four of us managed to clear out a carriage with our loud voices, laughter and hug-fest when we saw each other. It took over an hour and a half to arrive and in that time, I crashed into the walls a lot, embarrassed myself and laughed so hard I screeched. To be honest, my laugh might have been one of the reasons that the surrounding people, erm, left. I’d feel bad but I was hyper as all of us hadn’t been together since February and I really needed to let my emotions out.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the event itself because I’m scared people will figure out who I am who might have gone there; I’m paranoid. What I will say is that we had to get a taxi there and one of our friends, S, was helping to run one of the stalls at the event. The original four of us (all with limited sight) eventually got sighted guide around the place because there were so many people and Violet couldn’t guided the three of us who had utterly shit sight around by herself. We got lost several times, or rather we lost each other; it’s surprisingly difficult to coordinate yourself when people want to look at different things but there was such a friendly atmosphere there that it wasn’t stressful.

My friends were the ones that made it for me. Another girl, who had gone to Paris with us in October, met us at various times, particularly after lunch. We then went and spoke to S who had had leave us to go back to his stall beforehand (I may or may not have laughed at him for it because I’m such a nice person). When we were all together, like that, it brought everything back yet it showed me that friendship is one of the strongest things there is. Our group have been through a lot with each other yet even for it, the dynamic of laughter still remained. We wandered around, me sticking with Rapunzel a lot of the time but also having deep conversations with Violet.

After leaving the place, we went and sat in Starbucks (sadly without S). When us “five blindies” walked in, apparently people started staring; I found it hilarious in a way. We screamed again; I fangirled over the cuteness between one of my friends and their crush; I also accidentally kicked L (I still feel bad for that).

Saying goodbye was the worst part. We took a selfie in the assistance room and lots of hugs were exchanged, of course. For the first time in ages, I didn’t cry. I felt fine; I knew I could see them soon. This day really instilled confidence in me; it’s shown me that not even Birmingham is beyond my limits.

My heart has so much love for my friends and the people around me. I almost don’t know what to do with it; it’s quite overwhelming. However, I’m happy that I feel even if those feelings are confusing me.

From running around M&S to unstable group hugs on the train; from answering S’s questionnaire in the most Elm way possible to yelling so loud in the taxi that the driver probably heard us, I had an amazing day. I utterly adore all the people I was with simply because they let me feel happy at a time when my mind was, and is still, ready to fall apart.

Not feeling panicky is almost making me feel anxious; that gives you an idea of how bad my mind has been acting recently. I haven’t had many self-insulting thoughts, either today or yesterday – it’s a break from the usual and I’m so glad.

I love actually being able to do things and I also love being around the people who can make me smile. It hit me, just as we were leaving, just how much I’d missed everyone. Being around them was refreshing, the 5 of us – a the end – grinning and taking a selfie that’s forever, in my mind, the one where I look tragic as ever. I mme feeling wonderful, as if I really accomplished something. Not feeling anxious is rare for me but that day was one of the ones where I honestly felt relaxed, okay – and dare I say, special in my own little way.

If it weren’t for L, I couldn’t have done this; he’s such an amazing friend who has the ability to get me across the country and let me laugh whilst I’m at it. I seriously owe so much to that fabulous person.

Even if the happiness doesn’t last, I’m glad it’s here. I’m not used to it but I’m really thankful that I’m feeling it.

From Elm πŸ™‚

An Update On My Mental Health

I am so tired.

Sitting here in the evening, with everything around me silent, I can’t help but think I should feel calm or somehow rested. I don’t. I feel sad, annoyed, frustrated but yet somehow disconnected. This is how I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks and I want to talk to you as frankly as possible, in the only way I know how. For me, blogging about it is the only way I feel comfortable even thinking about my jumbled mind.

3 days ago, I had what can only be described as a mild panic attack in front of my mum. It was over something small: my sister had moved my hair removal cream and had used it. I now no longer knew where it was. I utterly flipped out at about 9 o’clock in the evening: it slowly evolved from me getting agitated about my lack of ability to understand that because my sister has a mental illness, she can’t realise that what she’s doing makes me anxious to me gasping for breath and wailing about how terrible I feel and about how, sometimes, I hate myself. I felt selfish and needy for doing it but in some ways, it was a release of pent up anger and emotion.

I honestly can’t remember all of what I said. I downplayed it but made sure to truthfully tell her that I didn’t always feel like this, that there were days where I was fine but that I did feel anxious pretty much all the time. Standing on the landing, I got upset at how my mum tried to make excuses for both me and my sister. I told her that I didn’t tell my dad much at all (a lie) and that I’d been seeing my head of year about how I felt (a truth but I didn’t tell her what I spoke about). At this point, I was miserable and whenever she tried to hug me I flinched away; I really didn’t want anyone near me, especially not her at that moment because she was so incredibly surprised that I was having this “meltdown”, as she phrased it to my dad in a text later.

My mother is incredibly difficult to talk to and so I hardly ever do; however, afterwards, she suggested I spoke to her more – I think I will. More importantly, she said I should go and speak to the GP and maybe get a referral to a counsellor, or something such as that. Bringing her own experiences into it didn’t help me as much as, I think, she hoped it would because my mind flashed back to the points where she didn’t feel sympathy for me at all and, years and years ago, treated my sister terribly. I had to let it go, though; I don’t hold it against her any more because she did help me by putting things into perspective.

The fact is, I feel like I’m seconds away from falling apart utterly. I’m so sad now that I can’t think properly but I’ll try. Here’s a list of all the things, or as much as I want to say, that are making me anxious, panicky or that make me feel numb.

β€’ I literally have no motivation to do anything at all
β€’ I haven’t read blogs and I have this irrational paranoia that I’m an awful blogger – I know this isn’t founded in truth and may look like I’m crying for attention but I know I’m acting stupidly; you guys have always supported me
β€’ I have feelings for someone currently but whenever I think about it, I want to just sob because it wouldn’t work out; trying anything would be a waste of time and would make things painful and complex
β€’ I’m scared of seeing the GP because if I’m having a bad day and am especially erratic, they may refer me to something which is too serious and if I say the counsellor or any other person, they may think it’s worse than it is – I explained this to my mum
β€’ I don’t understand if many of my thoughts are real or based on truth; I always get scared that I’m making stuff up in my head
β€’ All my work that I have to do is too much, too huge and even thinking about it is panicking me
β€’ I never follow my own advice; I’m a hypocrite
β€’ I feel bad but I’m sometimes unable to deal with people who even irritate me slightly
β€’ The self-depreciating dialogue inside my head has grown so much worse but I never know if I’m just putting it on or what I really feel towards anything
β€’ I’m so, so confused

I don’t know. I need sleep but I don’t know if this sleep will leave me feeling refreshed or if my thoughts are going to crowd in on me again. I don’t know how to write this post so that it’ll alleviate some of my worry; am I going about this the wrong way?

This evening, I also spoke to my sister about it; I’ve barely told anybody else because I just don’t want to think about it. She was great but did point out to me that with my mum, I can’t lash out because that’ll make it worse. People know how sad I’ve been but it’s so hard to go into the extent of why: that I feel blank sometimes and sad the next; that one day I won’t do anything productive for hours and hours and the next I’ll have such good intentions but only complete a few of them.

Now I think on it, writing this post has helped, if only because I’m a little relieved that I can get this out there. This isn’t supposed to make sense; my mind’s whirling and I can hardly think for the worry that I’m running out of time in every single aspect of my life.

I just want to be happy. My head of year said that I need to start actively doing something, just little things to help. On the other hand, before I do anything I have to acknowledge that there’s something wrong. I have to accept that I’m not feeling good and why – or try to piece the reasons together by writing the “stream of consciousness” that this has turned into.

Only when you truly know what’s happening with yourself can you start to implement little things to help. That might involve sorting through your thoughts – something I’m not good at so I understand – but once you have a little idea, you can start to help yourself a bit more. If you can’t do that, others can help; it’s almost good that I had the panic in front of my mum because even for the way she handles things sometimes, she can do something to help.

You can be in control of your own mind; it takes time and effort and it won’t be easy but it can be done. If you feel unexplainably bad, perhaps start trying to work through the reasons. That can be triggered by an event like I had or a sudden realisation: this is you and so I can’t dictate to you how it’ll work. Only you can do that.

Things will get better but it won’t happen overnight. I’m so exhausted but I have to give it time, effort and a willingness to get a little better, slowly. I think I can do that.

From Elm πŸ™‚

My Personal Statement Failings

From this September, I’ll be starting to apply for the university that I’ll attend either in 2018 or 2019.

WAIT, back up a second – I’ll be applying to university. That’s a scary enough thought in itself, without taking into account the fact that I’m terrible at making decisions about my future. I know what course I want to do but the university I want to go to? Not so much. I haven’t gone to enough open days; I haven’t done enough research and now I’m starting to panic about campuses, finance, making the “correct” decision and being happy.

The thing is, with universities you have to write a personal statement which is part of your application. It goes to the 5 unis you apply to so you don’t write individual statements for each university. Luckily, my course will be the same for each university but if you apply for different courses at different unis, you need to balance carefully what you put in and not mention specifics.

You’d think it would be easy to write one, right, especially for a subject which prioritises organisation of ideas in a coherent form? No. I’ve got the summer to write a few drafts but today, in school, we’re starting to think and write about it: we had a talk this morning about what to include and afterwards, we were in a classroom brainstorming for 3 hours. I’ve already been brainstorming in my head but when I tried to write stuff down, I realised something. I really don’t have much to write.

There are some questions on a sheet we were given and I’m going to do my best at answering them here. Not, of course, in a literary style; I have little energy to do such a thing at the moment. That “literary style” will be saved for when I actually get to writing the thing. These are just my initial “ideas”, hahaha, like I have any of them!

Why are you applying for your chosen course?
I really like the idea of combining the creativity and originality of creative writing with the innovative analysis of texts based on the times in which they are set and the interpretations which you can bring forth from them. You can also discuss your ideas with others – something I’m not so good at but that I enjoy (I won’t put that bit in my Personal Statement though). Also, I like how they compliment each other a lot in that you can transfer skills read in books, poetry and scripts into your own writing. Ooh, this is one thing I can talk about!

Why does this subject interest you?
I really love reading but that’s a generic answer. The Canterbury Tales as well as Jane Eyre got me interested in literature, along with my beautiful human being of a previous English teacher. Last Friday when I (sneakily) went into his lesson as he teaches my friend, they were looking at Chaucer and I literally squealed. I’ll be honest, my blog really got me interested in writing as a profession and something which I adored. I presume here I can talk about how much my blog inspired me to create new ideas without filling up the character count too much.

Include evidence to show that you understand what’s required to study the course.
With English degrees, you can get an average of 6 hours a week of contact with lecturers or professors. That means that you’ll have to do a lot of independent study, as well as doing a lot of wider reading which is part of it. I’m also guessing that you’ll have to research historical context; because I’m fascinated with that and the effect it has on writer’s technique, presentation of characters and the attitude towards certain groups, this will be fine. I think I’ll mention my interest in doing further reading in the statement because it actually shows I can vaguely do something… Maybe.

Why do you think you’re suitable for the course?
What I’d like to say: “Lol hi I’m A MESS I’d be shiiit; don’t accept me!”
What I will actually say and should believe: I’m able to work effectively in a group which is useful as we’ll be evaluating the work of others; I can… Um… I have a lot of enthusiasm… But everyone will put that! NO! I am able to effectively combine the disciplines of a writer and a reader – nooo, that’s too pretentious and awful! I’ll just think about that later when I feel more positively towards myself.

Do you have any particular skills and experience that will help you to succeed on the course?
Summer schools? NAAAAH oops… Same with Uni taster days oh god. However, wider reading and writing for a magazine may help, such as a school newspaper I want to set up (although it was my friend’s idea but shhh).

Do your current or previous studies relate to the course you have chosen?
Well I’d bloody hope so, seeming as I’m studying English Literature at A-Level. History will inform me of wider historical contextualisation of the themes. However, don’t they already know what subjects I do? The woman this morning told us not to write about the subjects because of character count and it’s needless information… Right then. That’s another one to go on the “think about later” pile, along with the 100000 other things.

Have you taken part in any other activities which demonstrate your interest in the course?
NO. The blog? Still nope; that’s not specific to the course itself. I wish I wasn’t so lazy and that I’d applied for summer courses early.

Personal Skills
There’s an A B C we were told about which is basically a model which lists the activities, the benefits of it and how it relates to your course. Here we go – or not!
Volunteering: punctuality which means I will be good at deadlines; organising people which means that I have good skills when working with people; encouraging others which means that I will be self-motivated for independent study as well as spreading positivity (yes, that doesn’t relate but it’s a good thing!).
Blogging: I’ve done it for 2 years which shows I have dedication, meaning that I’ll stick to an idea or a project; I’m able to share ideas with a large audience which will be helpful in group discussions when our work is being evaluated; I’ve become more open to ideas within society, meaning that I’m able to take in new interpretations and expand on my own thoughts.

And… That’s it. Oops.

At the end of this, I realise that I had more to write than I thought. On the other hand, there are still a lot more things I could do and could have done. However, there’s still time for me to do things. Speaking to a school in September will further add skills to my meagre list.

Perhaps I’m mildly angry that I don’t have much to say; I don’t have any leadership roles in the school and have little responsibility therefore. I’m what you may term average but that just means I need to find qualities and experiences within myself that make me unique. Even if you think you’re dull as hell, no one is utterly, 100% boring. Start listing skills you know you have first and don’t panic; there is still time.

Are you writing a Personal Statement at the moment or have you written one and got offers? What are your best tips? Any help would be really appreciated, especially because there will be plenty of people in the same position as me who don’t know what to write. I think this can benefit all of us.

From Elm πŸ™‚

A Day of Being Myself

When I got up at 4:30 yesterday morning, I wanted to crawl back into my bed and cry but for once, I had something important to do. On Saturday, I went and visited the University of East Anglia – the second Open Day I’ve been to (the other was Birmingham). After that, and it possibly the highlight of my month, I went and met Ocean – a blogger I’ve known for 2 years.

Driving to UEA took about 3 hours but strangely, by the end of the car journey, I wasn’t angry/exasperated at my father/exhausted from being in the same place for ages. Far from it: I felt full of energy. That didn’t fade as we stood in the queue for half an hour, waiting for the coaches to take us to the university itself. It was around 9:30 then and I managed to actually speak to someone my age in front of me in the queue. Typically, it was the kind of conversation which comprised the “what subjects are you doing?” questions but it was still something and I didn’t turn into a stuttering mess.

As I did with Birmingham, we went and saw the Student Support services first to find out about what kinds of ‘reasonable adjustments’ (as it’s called) they can put in place for me, such as extra time or maybe provisions for a Guide Dog if I end up getting one. That sent us to the Accommodation stand and I awkwardly explained my ‘needs’ to them. Although they haven’t had a severely sight impaired student for about 4 years, I was really pleased with how they were extremely open to putting in place measures to help me; all the staff in fact were very friendly. It eased the anxiety I felt considerably about the whole process.

During the course of the day, I went to four talks and an accommodation tour. The latter experience was very positive: I liked the feel of the buildings and it all seemed very centralised; there’s a village about 15 minutes walk from the campus itself but seeming as I’d need to concentrate on learning the campus in my first year, I thought it might be best if we looked at the accommodation on campus instead. We saw three buildings and I liked them all; the nicest, newest (and most expensive sadly) was my favourite simply because it seemed very spacious. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a good criterion for measuring whether I would like it or not but an important thing for me is that I hate feeling trapped.

At one point, whilst my dad and I were walking across the campus, I had a minor crisis about the amount of followers I had. It’s so weird to think that over 2000 people have clicked the follow button – it’s incredible to me that so many people have read my words, in whatever capacity. My dad listened to my ramblings and it felt great because I knew what I was talking about.

The best talk I went to was the one on Personal Statements. All but the English talk was held in a small hall and each person wore headphones so that they wouldn’t have to project their voice. This didn’t detract from the experience and actually made it feel more personalised. Afterwards, and without fear, I walked straight up to the woman who held the talk and asked her if I could put my blog in my Personal Statement. The answer was a resounding “yes” and she clarified that I didn’t have to say the name or anything that could identify it. This means that I can talk about what I love so much, which directly relates to the course I want to do. I left that talk feeling so much better about my opportunities!

I really did like the sound of student life and the amount of societies; it was presented by two students who spoke to us like we were human and not children about all the different things we can do. I really felt like it connected us to the idea of getting involved in student life. After having had lunch and seeing the street with shops and bars (it was adorable), I went to the English Literature and Creative Writing talk with my dad. The interesting thing about this course is that there are no end of year exams; all your modular grades and pieces of writing are added up which comprise your degree. The Creative Writing part is roughly a third of the degree. Sadly, I couldn’t talk much to the lecturer afterwards but I honestly felt more confident about everything despite the prestige of UEA as a Creative Writing university.

I really liked this uni, overall. I’ve got to be honest: the course didn’t thrill me as much as I’d like but perhaps that’s because I have high standards. The campus was more to my taste: I could tell where everything was and I knew I wouldn’t get very overwhelmed. I’ll have to give it time; I loved it but I have no idea if I loved it enough to study it. What made it so worthwhile to me was the enthusiasm of the lecturers and the people who spoke; I felt as if they loved the place and it made me fall in love with it that little bit more. Who knows? I need to see more universities before I decide on anything.

At around 4, we travelled into Norwich to meet Ocean. Because I’ve known her for 2 years and she was one of the first blogging friends I had, I didn’t feel that nervous. Of course, the excitement grew and grew as we got closer to our meeting point and I kept smiling because finally I was going to meet one of the people I admired the most. Honestly, it’s always a dream come true for me when I meet an internet friend because they n have any judgements; about you save for what you show them which, in Ocean’s case, was always my true self.

As soon as we met each other we hugged and spent a while absorbing that this was actually happening. Unfortunately, we only had an hour but it was an hour I won’t forget in a hurry. We walked round the high street and went to CafΓ© Nero: she’s really good at guiding me and unlike when you meet someone you don’t know, she knew how to help me almost instinctively which was so lovely. By the way, raspberry lemonade exists (I found that out yesterday) and it is utterly glorious.

All throughout this, we talked. She’s so funny and sweet; I think I laughed more than I have in the past few weeks. Conversations ranged from Jeremy Kyle to the hell of A-Levels, from serious to funny topics and I loved it. I didn’t have to try and find topics to talk about; sitting across from her at a table was so freeing because I wasn’t pretending, hiding or faking anything.

I hate saying goodbye. It’s especially difficult when it’s someone you respect so much but luckily, I didn’t cry. She isn’t worlds away; next year when she goes to university, I’m sure we’ll be able to meet more which makes me smile when I think of it.

All in all, Saturday was wonderful and writing about it brings all the memories back. From wandering around a street and listening to buskers to laughing over the stupid pose that Jeremy Kyle adopts, I felt like me. Plain and simple with a passion for English but also someone who is undoubtedly a blogger and a writer. I never want to limit my options and that’s why I do what I do: that’s why I want to visit so many universities and meet so many people.

It’s beautiful to feel like that. Have you felt so very like yourself recently?

From Elm πŸ™‚

The Mystery Blogger Award!

It’s been so long since I’ve done an award and I’m sat here mildly disgusted at myself for being so bad at this!

I was nominated by the lovely pair at Findthebeautyy to do this! I found their blog recently and think they’re fantastic; check them out if you want a wonderful variety of posts! Thanks for nominating me; it means a lot.

Although I’ve done this award once before, I thought I’d revisit it because I remember loving it so much. Created by OkotoEnigma, it’s described by her as “An award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.” I think that this perfectly captures the essence of blogging!

The Rules

1. Put the award image or logo on your blog.
2. Thank the person that nominated you and link their blog in your post.
3. Name the creator of this award and link their blog in your post.
4. List the rules.
5. Answer your nominator’s questions.
6. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
7. Nominate 10-20 people.
8. Ask your nominees 5 original questions of your choice.
9. Share links to your best blog posts.
10. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
There’s so much variety in this and it makes me happy! Right, here we go.

Findthebeautyy’s Questions

1. What is your reason for starting your blog?
I needed a place to vent my feelings out – an outlet – and I wanted to help people with their feelings too because everyone deserves to be heard. After the end of my last blog, I wanted to start again and I thought Elm was the perfect name and way with which to do it. Turns out I was right and if I can help at least one person through this, I’ll be happy.

2. What motivates you?
Motivation has always been a struggle but the main thing is when I know it’ll help me or someone else. Also, my life experiences give me motivation to either do something or not do something: when doing work, my main motivation is that I know that in the long run, it’ll have a positive outcome. Then again, I do have short bursts of that motivation; I need to work on it.

3. What is the most important thing to you?
This is so painfully clichΓ© but it’s making people happy and helping them. I thrive most when helping others rather than myself and I think it’s so important to make other people smile. Of course I’ll look after myself but for me, I’m happy when others are too. Luckily, it’s a principle that has remained constant for me.

4. Who’s the most important person in your life?
Ahhh I’m not sure; I can’t name one specific person. My dad is very important to me as well as my friends and someone I was previously in a relationship with as all of them shape me as a person. It’s so difficult to choose – nope, I can’t do it. I’m so indecisive!

5. What makes you happiest on a bad day?
Having fun with friends which lets me remove the sadness. I really like positive atmospheres and so when I’m laughing, I’m the most happy even when I’m miserable. Smiling makes everything better, I think.

3 Things about Myself

1. I hate the feeling of sand on any part of my body apart from my hands.
2. I hardly ever watched TV when I was younger; I just listened to audiobooks and played outside.
3. When I laugh too hard I cry and then people often ask me what’s wrong; also my laugh is one of the most obnoxious things you could ever hear.

My Nominations

1. Sunset
2. The Anonymous Girl Writes
3. Formerly Myself
4. Maitreyee
5. Astrid
6. Smiling Dreamer
7. Indiesonglyrics
8. The Small Quiet One
9. Just A Blank Space
10. Rainbow Girl
11. Elsie LMC

Whether I’ve found these blogs yesterday or two years ago, all of them have beautiful writing styles and are unique in how they express themselves.

My Questions for You

1. Have you ever been in love?
2. What’s your favourite instrument and why?
3. What do you admire about yourself?
4. If you could take one lesson you’ve learned from blogging away with you, what would that be?
5. At the moment, what’s the thing you most want to do?

My Best Blog Posts

I critique myself a lot so this will be really difficult.
My Blog in the Real World
I’m Not Scared to Say What my Fears Are
Why I Write How I Do

I hope you enjoy answering those questions and if you don’t know any of the bloggers I’ve listed in my nominations, check them out! You won’t regret it.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

I Felt like I Belonged

On Friday, I was involved in a music competition for school. In our school, we have five ‘houses’ and on Sports Day and other such activities, we compete to see who will win – which my house never does. I never got involved in Sports Day by doing sports because I’m lazy as hell; I only volunteered this year to help the younger years with non-sport related activities. As a result, I didn’t have much involvement with the house system before this year. For the second year in a row, a House Music event was held; it was the first I performed in and it couldn’t have gone better.

Although I sing, I hardly ever sing with school or in a group of people at school; I used to belong to chamber choir but I quit and because of that, I haven’t been asked to perform at concerts. I didn’t use my initiative to volunteer even this time: one of my best friends, Pine, who has been friends with me since the very start of year 7, is a music leader – a sixth former who helps organise concerts and gets things in order. She, along with the other music leaders from my house, suggested that I get involved because they knew I had a history of singing and performing. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the guts to want to be part of it.

When I was in choir, rehearsals were a weekly event for me; ever since I left, I had all days free. However, with house music, one day a week – mostly – was dedicated to rehearsing. I tried to turn up for every one and thanks to the house leaders’ brilliant organisation, things ran smoothly except for one piece – Skyfall – that had to be scrapped which was really sad. We had three other pieces apart from the song I was in, all of which I hadn’t heard before the day of the show.

You may be asking, “Yeah yeah but what was the song?” If you’ve ever heard of Walk Off the Earth on YouTube, we did a similar thing to their Shape Of You cover but instead performed Locked Out Of Heaven, using instruments that wouldn’t ordinarily be used as instruments. I was the main singer and another girl did some beautiful harmonies (she has a wonderful voice). The dynamic (excuse the pun) in the rehearsals was amazing: we laughed; we joked around; we tried things and if they didn’t work then they didn’t and we tried something else. It really instilled confidence in me because nobody thought I was shit. I also knew a bunch of people who were performing – Pine, Laurel and others from my year to name a few.

When the day of the competition arrived, I didn’t feel nervous. I had told my parents three days before and all my friends knew but I didn’t make it into a huge deal because if I had, I would have been terrified. In the last lesson, we went to a sound check and I heard the other performances. Along with Pine, I chatted to a friend in another house and I’ll call her Coral. We used to sit next to each other in music last year and that day and evening, we got so much closer – it made me happy. I was stunned by a girl in year 10’s voice; it took about an hour to run through our house’s pieces which all sounded incredible. The excitement I felt after the successful rendition of our song was nothing I can describe; I felt empowered. What made it better was that I found out that the blogger who goes to my school was going to be there. She’s a percussionist and I briefly spoke to her when we went out to see if the xylophone had broken. She’s the only person who I feel happy with calling me Elm in real life and so I always know it’s her. It really made it hit home that I was doing this and that someone who read my blog would also be hearing me sing.

Coral, Pine and I went back to Pine’s house to get ready: I hadn’t been to hers since Prom but I absolutely love her house and family. We ate pizza, bitched about people and cried with laughter; her sister did my makeup because I’m utterly useless and would end up looking like a walrus if I tried. Pine’s sister and I bonded over the fact that Pine shrieks when her sister tries to put eyeliner on her and is even more resistant to fashion and beauty than I am and that is why she’s my favourite thing ever. I got incredibly angry at one point whilst recounting a shitty situation that had happened to me and they were so supportive AARGHH I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! Sorry, I’m getting emotional…

As soon as we got to school, around 6:15, I started to feel jittery. As we’d gone into a random technology room, it was filled with people who I didn’t know, playing and singing and warming up (I may have done a cheeky bit of screeching – erm I mean singing – just to get my vocals vaguely in gear). After Pine and Coral had gone to tune their respective instruments, I did some breatheing and then talked to my ‘blogger friend’ for ages. It was so nice just to speak to her about everything and anything – I had heard from Pine that her piece was fantastic and so was excited to hear it because I’m a weird person who fangirls over music DON’t JUDGE ME!

Luckily, Coral and I went into the audience to watch some of the acts. On the way there, I bumped into Laurel (one of the two people I have feelings for, I don’t even know). We hugged and she grabbed my hands when I said I was nervous; I totally overreacted afterwards and then told Coral I might have a ‘crush’ on Laurel. Coral was totally cool with it (turns out she may be bi too so we had a bonding moment over that). I saw Laurel at various points throughout the evening too, most notably backstage where we sat together and just talked.

Everyone was so brilliant in their performances! My blogger friend’s piece was genuinely so lovely; I smiled the entire way through and cheered especially loudly at the end. Other great things included a fantastic guitar solo by a guy in my english class, someone singing who had the exact same range as me and a girl with the most adorable voice ever. Seriously. I was mildly sobbing. None of it made me feel intimidated; I just enjoyed people having a good time and I revelled in the atmosphere.

By the interval, I was a wreck. If you’ve ever seen me in my real life get nervous, I was rubbing my hands together and trembling like a leaf (again, excuse the pun). Because we had to be backstage whilst the house before us was performing, I was standing with some people like Laurel (we touched hands, hugged and sat near each other) – who had a break from organising things – when Willow turned up. I hadn’t seen her in months: she’d left last year to go to college and so when we saw each other, we screamed and ran at each other. She updated me on everything that had happened in her life within 15 minutes and at one point I screamed “NO NO NOOOO JUST DO IT DO IT!” and tried to convince her to do various things I won’t repeat; it ended with us practically sobbing and telling the other that we loved them. Lots of hugging was involved, too, until we had to stop because she had to go and sit in the audience. Even then, we hugged one last time: I love that girl; she’s amazing.

The buildup was horrible. I was listening to the first act in my house perform (I didn’t get to hear any of the performances really in the house before us). Standing behind the door of the stage, I tried to keep my eyes focused on the lights and listen to the drums to focus myself. Either that or I thought about Laurel and how much I was confused just to get my mind off of shit. If anyone says I’m confident I’ll laugh in their face.

Up on stage, all my worries seemed to flow out of me. It was bright and noisy and beautiful; I sang as if I couldn’t have cared what people thought of me. I had to check the position of the microphone a few times (I can’t see it because I’m almost completely blind) but apart from that, I was utterly enthralled by the sounds and feelings around me. I’d been singing this song quietly before but with a mic, I felt like I could do anything. Nothing went wrong and when the applause came, I think I smiled – I felt happy.

“You have a beautiful voice, Elm!” said Laurel when I was guided off stage. It’s a blur as to what happened then – I know she was with me and had her arm in mine, saying that I was shaking but seeming so pleased and as happy as I was. I emerged into the backstage area and grinned, giddy to the point of gasping. It’s been so long since I did any of that. Coral was there and we spoke for so long after, telling each other we were talented but refusing to believe it.

There were four categories in which we were judged – best solo, best duo and trio and best ensemble. We won 2nd place for the latter AND I WAS SO HAPPY!!! Granted, I was incredibly confused when I was pulled up onto the stage, blinking in the light. Previously, I had been talking to Coral and the blogger friend, not knowing what was happening because we couldn’t hear, cramped at one point in the backstage area with a bunch of people screaming and the music teachers yelling at the screaming people.

Also, we won overall??? I have no idea how that happened either but our music leaders were fucking amazing. I’m irritated that the xylophone group – in another house – didn’t come first for ensemble because they deserved to but I will always remember how amazing that was. That night was about talent, beauty and showing people you could really get out there.

I got home late but the sleepless night was worth it. The next day, I went and saw L, going on the train by myself and having the best time ever which I needed after a stressful week. You can read all about our misadventures here because he’s a much more articulate writer than me. All in all, I’ve had an amazing weekend where I’ve felt like myself. L very much helped with that because I hopped on a train with very little nerves and travelled across London without falling over or screaming.

Coral said something to me that evening. “There are so many powerful voices but sometimes, people need to hear the pretty voices. You need to get out there and show them.” She’s right: when I did, I felt beautiful, alive and like I had a purpose.

It was one of the best days in recent memory. Do you have days like that?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Speak Up for Yourself

One thing I learnt today was that sometimes, letting things slide and being passive isn’t healthy. You need to put your foot down and shout, “No, this isn’t right!”

If a situation happens to you that makes you feel awful – a friend says something hurtful, you get treated badly or you don’t want to do something – staying quiet might make things worse. Yes, it can be good to compromise on situations and to forgive but you shouldn’t do it all the time. That’s detrimental to you. It’s not fair on you either.

Say someone says something about you behind your back and you hear this from a friend. Another example is if your friends want to do something but you’re utterly averse to the idea; either that or you hear a passing mean comment about you in the corridor. Do you walk on and block your ears? Do you let it slide because you hate confrontation? A lot of people would do that and that’s totally understandable (I hate arguments or the prospect of them too) but think: should you stay silent? In a situation where your life is in danger and you may be hurt, the consequences can be a lot more serious and you should talk to someone immediately if you need help. However, in every day situations, let your mind remember that being passive shouldn’t be your default option.

Like me, if you’re ordinarily someone who doesn’t like confrontation and so doesn’t speak up, breaking that cycle can just emphasise the importance of your point. Whether you’re known for directly saying what you think, it can give you a measure of power over the situation. You’re telling the person that you don’t accept this; you’re letting them know that you won’t just roll over and let them control how you feel. If it’s serious enough to make you speak about it, then they should take note of how much it took for you to say something and therefore realise what a shitty thing they did.

If you’re worried about the consequences – as I always am – let me reassure you. In most cases, you telling whoever you need to tell how you feel won’t result in a permanent falling out. Don’t worry about hurting them although I know that won’t stop the anxiety. My sister, who is one of the most sensible people when it comes to this thing that I know, told me that sometimes people need to know they’ve been petty or awful. There may be some disagreement if that happens, know that it can actually make them think about your point of view and treat you better in the future. If they don’t listen and an argument ensues, maybe they aren’t such a considerate person after all. It’s not your fault if you want to voice your opinion. It’s not up to you how they respond and if they respond negatively to you standing up for yourself, I have to say it bluntly: think about whether you really want to be as close to them as you thought. I understand how hard it is, especially when you’re paranoid about losing friends, but you can’t push your happiness aside in order to appease someone else or avoid an argument.

The fact is, you’re human and can only take so much before you break. I know it’s difficult but it’s far better to break and show someone else just how upset you are than internalise that sadness and anger. I speak from experience when I say that misplaeed anger is one of the worst things that can happen to you because it leaves you feeling hollow and empty, without any kind of closure. Your humanity makes it really understandable as to why you’d want to say something: listen to your instincts.

You aren’t a doormat. You aren’t to be controlled; you aren’t someone who should be trodden on or victimised. Don’t let yourself be victimised because otherwise, people will think it’s okay to treat you like that. My Head of Year told me, today, that I should start to speak more and assert myself: I’m giving that advice to you too because you should never be treated like some kind of object or something to be thrown around.

Find your inner voice and use it in the real world. You’re strong enough to tell even the closest person to you that no: you’re not okay with this.

Speak up.

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to speak up but couldn’t? How about in the reverse: have you ever spoken up in a situation and had good consequences stem from it? How did it make you feel?

From Elm πŸ™‚

I’m a Little Bit of a Mess

Hi,
One thing that people start to realise about me very quickly is that I hardly ever do something someone tells me to straight away. It’s taken me months, for example, to be able to understand I need help and to properly implement that, with the encouragement, logic and screaming of my friends. It takes me a while to do absolutely anything because I try and reason why it would be a bad idea but finally, finally I did something.

This is a really quick post to just say, well, sorry for vanishing off the blogosphere for a few days. I know that this is my blog but I care about you guys and so not reading your blogs or not having the motivation to do it has wrecked my mind a little.

Truth be told, I don’t feel great and I’ve been ignoring it, yet again. I’m still unsure as to exactly why; it’s partly stress and partly that overwhelming terror you get when everything’s too much and you feel cold; you can’t breathe from it. I don’t know. I’m sad when there’s no logical reason why I should be.

Last week, I spoke to my Head of Year and cried my eyes out for 20 minutes. I wasted a bunch of tissues, sobbed, shook so hard that I violently panicked and was utterly unable to articulate what was wrong. We eventually came to the conclusion that I was sad, it was okay but that I was thoroughly unused to not coping publically. I’m going to see her this week too; I’m scared because I know I’ll panic and repeat the words “I don’t know,” “I can’t” and “I have no idea” a lot. I don’t like it. Not having a proper channel for my worries is making me skittish.

I hide things. On the surface, I tell people I’m not feeling good, I’m tired and that I’m not okay but I don’t often say why. It’s a coping mechanism because if I start talking, I won’t be able to stop but it’s also because sometimes it’s effort to trawl through my mind’s complicated maze-like thoughts. I never know what I feel or don’t feel and I’m so desperately sad sometimes that I want to scream, so lonely with no explanation that everything feels hazy.

Everything with which I used to gain enjoyment is now less fun; it’s worrying. I still sing, write, blog, talk to people but it doesn’t have the same fire for me. In my mind, I know it’s temporary, that it will pass and I’ll get that spark of life but for now, I don’t feel happy and I don’t feel like I have a purpose with it. It makes me sad as I want to truly love the things I do.

Luckily, I have something now with which to get this out. My head of year isn’t the perfect solution – she’d tell my parents if she started to worry a lot, which she inevitably will. My dad knowing about my fears is okay but with my mum, she treats it like it’s nothing and like it’s normal, like it’s your average teenage phase. Is it? Am I making this all up? Am I just being an overdramatic lazy bitch? I hope not.

I told her about my blog. I felt like I had to: as it’s a huge part of my life, it’s something that will come up in conversation in order to let her properly understand what’s been happening. As well as that, she’s emailed all my teachers to tell them I’m feeling anxious, all the time because as I said to her, “I feel sad every day.” For now, I’m going to talk about the shallower things to her but when I feel a little more comfortable, I may get onto the paranoia, self-hatred, anger and insecurity. That is, if she’ll properly listen and not brush things off – she has never done that, though, so it’ll be okay.

There are still things I’m happy about, like my friends and the laughter that still comes easily. I’m going to write about the open day I went to on Saturday which made me feel more connected to everything. It’s not all ‘doom and gloom’, as my mother likes to say. It’s just that at the moment, I’m trembling, my eyes are watering and I feel freezing.

If this is the first thing you’ve ever read from me, I’m not even going to apologise and say ‘this is not the usual me’. It is the usual me sometimes and that’s alright. To know a person, you have to know all their parts: good, bad and things in between.

Never apologise for feeling how you do and expressing those feelings; I feel more free and liberated. I didn’t plan this and haven’t thought much about what I want to write. I’m writing this at night, meaning that all my filters are down and I can post this tomorrow without feeling intensely guilty. What is there to feel guilty about, though? There isn’t a thing wrong with helping yourself by telling the people who mean the most to you a little of what’s really wrong.

I still don’t know how I properly feel. Sometimes, you don’t have to know. However, I’m on my way to analysing those feelings. Even though my friends forced me into it, going to see my head of year might just be the thing that forces me to acknowledge that I do have feelings and that I should deal with them, rather than pushing them aside and running.

You’re human. A human can only take so much until they break from the strain of trying to keep things together. Breaking is okay and natural; you aren’t pathetic for it. Telling people you’re an unexplained mess is something you can do. You don’t have to have reasons; you just have to feel. Remember that.

From Elm πŸ™‚