I Can’t be Alone

Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been so busy. I went to Yorkshire to see my friend, who I call Rapunzel, at the end of July and had some of the best times in the last few months. I saw Heathers the Musical with one of my oldest internet friends. Another friend of mine, S, came to stay on the 5th and left yesterday. But now he’s gone, now that I’m alone, I remember just why I keep myself busy: to avoid this.

What is this? It’s the terrifying feeling of not wanting to be alone with your own thoughts. It’s doing anything possible to try and stop them from taking over. It’s not knowing whether today will be okay or not so just trying to hold off the flood but now that the flood has finally caught up, it’s fucking awful. How do I deal with these emotions when I don’t quite understand what they are?

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ve been trying to frantically do things to stop feeling. Doing things, like seeing friends, just helps to not make the feelings overwhelming. For instance, seeing Rapunzel and then S gave me more freedom and it also meant that there was someone there who could help me or talk to me if things got really rough. I had an amazing time with them but as they’re two of my closest friends, now that they’re gone (although I’m seeing Rapunzel really soon), I just feel painfully lonely. Loneliness and being alone, whilst suffering from horrifying bouts of bad mental health, is not a good combination.

Part of me wants to write and write and write until it all just pours out. I cried about how bereft I felt last night, then cried further about how pathetic that made me feel. Apparently, I can’t cope if I don’t have someone around me. It’s not like I can be eternally around people – I do need time on my own sometimes – but people being here makes it easier to cope. People being here gives me an excuse to work through my feelings, if not for me then for them so that I don’t ruin anything for them. Being alone means that excuse shatters and I have no reason, meaning that I just… Don’t care.

Then there’s that part of me that is terrified and has no energy. I hate being alone, where I feel like I have nowhere to go and nothing to do and no-one to help me. Realistically, I know people are here but that doesn’t help when I can’t even convince myself that getting up is worth doing. The thought of doing anything much, from writing a blog post I need to do to eating lunch to texting people, makes me feel so sick that I don’t end up doing those things. I’ve constantly been wanting to cry all day and I’m exhausted. Everything feels hollow and I’m always thinking that everyone hates me, that I’m making the worst mistakes and that I shouldn’t speak in case I upset anyone. God, why is this so difficult?

The bottom line is, I’m scared of my thoughts. Sure, I’ve made progress towards recovering – I’m nowhere near as constantly unstable as I was during April or May. However, sometimes it still gets so bad that I can’t speak or move or do anything that doesn’t involve me wanting to run away or slip off into oblivion. I just wish I didn’t need external reassurance: I wish I could find it within myself to feel more whole.

I’ve had moments of clarity today. I got up this morning after a few hours of alternately doing nothing and then crying. I had a shower, got changed, brushed my hair (it calms me down for some reason) and then finally ate something. Then again, now, I don’t have much energy. Later, Kel is arriving and I’m so glad of that because I’ve been wanting to see him for ages and also, it’ll help me to pull myself back from whatever hell I’ve managed to stuff myself in this time.

Until this evening, where I’m required to move (and that’s a good thing), I think I’ll try and distract myself. Perhaps I’ll watch something on Netflix (I might watch Outnumbered or Brooklyn Nine-Nine because they remind me of people that I love), or listen to music. Reading, right now, takes up too much energy; I planned to write about how I was feeling but I’m way too drained for that or to even think. Usually, I wouldn’t suggest distractions for anyone because that’s avoiding feeling but I want this to get down to a manageable level. As of now, it’s so overwhelming that I want to scream.

I’m sorry for all this sporadic and negative posting. I want to write at my own pace but often I do feel guilty for putting people through all this undirected shrieking.

What do you do when you hate the idea of being alone with your own thoughts?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Feeling Inspired

I’ve been reading a fair few blog posts today, along with various other tasks that have kept me busy. I connected with some blogs I hadn’t read in a while and began to comment again and to engage with everything. As I was reading, I started to notice something that made me smile: these blog posts were making me want to write. They were filling me with an inspiration that I haven’t felt in ages.

The thing I love about the community – I mean, there are so many things which I love that I couldn’t just list one – is the creativity. Today, I read posts that ranged from book hauls to a letter about past friendship. As a blogger, you can choose to read what you like and though you can sometimes feel an obligation to read, I feel like there’s more of a relaxed atmosphere around what you read. As there are so many blogs out there, you could never be expected to read thousands of posts but being given a variety of inspiration from all around the blogosphere and the world is fantastic.

How I felt today, whilst sitting down and reading, was connected. Not in the manic, social-media-must-rule-my-life sense but rather, I felt connected to human emotion and experiences. I think that’s one of the reasons I started blogging – I wanted to be involved with the beautiful web of life and feelings; this was and is one of the best ways. I was stunned by some writing I read as well, the fact that someone could create such beautiful imagery from verse and their own heart.

Ideas started running around my head. I took little things from each post – a section of recollection, the euphoria of friendship, the invincibility of having your words read and understood. Seeing collaborations like The Artistics and blogger interviews made me feel like the community was interconnected and respectful of each other. That made me want to pick up my keyboard (well, just tap out some things on it) and finish posts I hadn’t touched in weeks, start on new ones and let the thoughts run free in my head.

People have such amazing stories in their heads and I often forget that I can be one of those people. In the mayhem of social media, stress and my own brain shouting at me, I forget that I’m a person and a blogger too. Engaging with people reminded me that I have my own independent thoughts and that they shouldn’t be blanked out for the sake of fear about how people will respond to them.

Of course, I try not to read posts when I feel too drained. It’d only make me feel worse but there are plenty of occasions where reading someone’s writing, that they’ve spent their time creating, can create a wish to share my own writing with you. Isn’t that the best feeling? It really reminds me why I love blogging so much.

I want to say thank you to anyone who writes. You might not know it but every word I read and every emotion captured in a sentence inspires me to keep going. I don’t know what I’d do without the community to lift me up and most times, they don’t even know they’re doing it!

Have you read any good blog posts recently that have inspired you? Have you written any that you think I should read?

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

My Thoughts on the Education System | Collab with Debbie!

Along with many other people in the UK, I’m very lucky to have a good education. However, there are still a lot of problems with the education system that those who don’t experience are quick to dismiss. In a collab with Debbie – you can read her post on her blog – we’re going to write about the issues that are closest to us.

For me, the transition from GCSEs to A-Levels was particularly difficult, an opinion shared with a lot of people in my year and the year below. With the transfer from “less challenging” GCSEs to “more challenging” A-Levels, most teachers and students alike were struggling. We had no idea what was really expected of us as in many subjects, there were either very few or no past papers at all. Those who took GCSEs recently or are going to take them soon will have had a similar problem. We were told to learn independently, to “go beyond” the subject but GCSEs, or pre-GCSEs, hadn’t shown us how to do that. It felt like we were jumping in at the deep end of a swimming pool with no markings as to how deep it was. There’s this idea that figuring out your own independent learning style is all part of the process of learning but we were expected to do that, not having done that before; we were expected to learn so much content, apply it in ways we’d never done before, all whilst battling our own anxieties and personal pressures. If we couldn’t keep up; if we learned in a different way or if our concepts of success didn’t match up to the exam board’s or government’s or the vague “threat” of universities or employers, it felt like a failure.

It’s not all to do with the last 4-5 years of schooling, in that expectations of “how we should learn” go right back to the start. We’re told what books would best suit us – you can read more about that in this post by Izzy – given “advice” on careers based on predicted grades and behaviour, and examined from such a young age that the constant banner of success is waved over people’s heads and those who don’t achieve that are automatically labelled by teachers and others as not being “academic”, when academia isn’t the only way that someone can live a life which makes them happy. I’m making massive generalisations here but often, the way in which we learn is subject to these same generalisations. People are crammed into smaller boxes of 1-9 or A-G, into “smart” or “not smart”, into “likes to read so should be good at this” or “likes Maths so should go into this profession”. That’s not even touching on the idea of “one learning style fits all”, which restricts so many people.

Blaming “the school” as a whole would be counter-productive and wouldn’t solve any problems as a lot of the time, it’s a student’s willingness to learn – or lack of it – that stops people from learning. However, people are too quick to entirely blame students’ “laziness” for the difficulties that they face. How can it be an individual’s fault if they’re never given encouragement by teachers, never shown a way to learn that fits them and never shown that their aspirations don’t have to fall in line with the academic, English-Maths-Science expectations that are pushed so forcefully onto everyone so that they can “be successful?” With the new system of GCSEs and A-Levels, it’s even harder to achieve the top grades and so those who don’t work in the way the exam boards want are more likely to feel unhappy and so less likely to work as productively.

Most people work in different ways to each other. Some prefer group work and some prefer individual study; some need to revise in one session whereas others need to spread their revision out; some need support from teachers and their friends whereas others find that support within themselves or in other places. I don’t feel as if enough support or emphasis, on the whole, is given to those individual learning styles – it would be incredibly difficult to cater to everyone’s needs when in a large group of students but it’s too often assumed that everyone can work in exactly the same style. The good thing about A-Levels is that much more support is given by teachers as they have more time to do this but by the time A-Levels come around, it can be difficult for some people to know that they can get support if they haven’t had it before. In GCSEs and before that, those that received a lot of one-to-one or individualised support from teachers most often come from fee-paying schools. There are many exceptions but teachers in an average state school don’t usually have enough time to help the students that need it most.

With coursework disappearing and linear subjects being prioritised, there’s a huge importance given to exams. Yes, this system worked better for me in some ways but not in others and for a lot of people, examined subjects won’t be the best way to help them learn. SEN (Special Educational Needs) funding, which directly affects me and people I know, is being cut; resources aren’t being provided for SEN students in education but because of the constant pressure to get better grades, to improve your chances of getting into university, thoughts are being focused more on the students who attain more 9s or A*s. The problems with SEN deserve a whole other post and I’m not sure I’d even be the best person to write about them.

There are positives to the current education system, of course. More vocational courses are being offered at colleges; apprenticeships are being encouraged more widely and different learning styles are slowly being taken into account. Saying that, this is only the start and more needs to be done. Performing and visual arts subjects have been dropped from the curriculum of some schools which restricts those who are more creative from expressing themselves. People need to become more aware that not everything should be based on academic results and improvement of exam achievements doesn’t always mean improvement of people’s lives.

What do you think about the education system and how people learn? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to check out Debbie’s post! It was amazing to collab with her and to get my (complicated and somewhat ranty) thoughts out!

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

Dear the Boy Who Hurt Me | An Anonymous Letter

Trigger warnings: sexual assault, abuse.

This is a letter written by an anonymous person who asked me to post it here in order to help others who have gone through a similar ordeal. I have changed nothing from the post they sent me; these are all their own words.


This is my reality of how I was sexually assaulted at the beginning of this year. It was a bretrayal of a best friend. I myself have a blog that you may know of but I don’t want people to know that I’m the girl who was abused so I asked my friend, Elm, to publish it for me to help others or to help myself be able to feel a little more at ease. Just love and respect one other.

* * *

Dear boy who hurt me,
I call you a boy because that’s all you are. A boy. You aren’t a man even how much you think highly of yourself. Or how people around you feel hindered around your loud presence. Even though you’re taller than the most authority figures in my life like my father, your height doesn’t make you a man and the way you treated me made me feel like a little girl.

On several occasions, you would message me or frankly, just plainly say it to my face with this stupid and patronising smile that I was a ‘good girl’ when I gave up and froze. Good girl. It made me feel like a dog almost, like I had no significance to others apart you and your dick. Good girl. It makes me generally feel like there is a sick pit in my stomach gurgling at the word. Good girl. When I hear that word, my heart fills up with a strong emotion; sadness or guilt? I can’t tell.

The moment I closed my eyes last night, I saw your sofa. The red one where in the beginning of our friendship, we used to hang out; drink coco cola, play the PS4 and listen to each other’s worries. I loved your sofa; it represented relaxation at it’s highest. I used to feel relaxed with you.

Last September was when there was a defining line between before and after. September I felt like I had no one around me apart from you, the boy who hurt me. It was a relief to go out for our walks where we would slag off the people who hurt me. You knew I was beginning to lose what I once thought men were. Especially after what my father had done to me and my family. And in December, it was a breaking point.

After my breakup in December, I was in a pretty difficult place. I lost something which I had for a year and a half where I belonged to someone and then, he belonged to someone else straight away after we broke up. You used that. A few hours after saying a sad good bye to another boy that I loved, you would help me get through it with our late night talks in KFC where your jokes and charisma would cheer me up.

The first time is the most clear to remember. The first time when you sexually assaulted me and mentally abused me. In my dream, it went through the events again where you would manipulate me to the red sofa. The beginning of the first time started like how we always used to hang out. We would go to yours and just chill out with other friends. However, this time you pretended to invite others so it wouldn’t cause any suspicions or weirdness about me coming over. The moment I sat down on that sofa, it felt strange. You kept looking over at me with this weird look in your eye almost like a puppy but not cute at all. Sorry wrong description. It was more hunger and madness like you had to have me. Well you’re wrong. You didn’t have to have me.

When you picked me up with your big lanky hands all over me, I told you to get off. It was as simple as that. However, I had this thought in my head that I didn’t want to offend you as you were my best friend and I didn’t want to lose another person. But, however calm my voice was, it was clear that I didn’t want you. But you continued. Sometimes, I touch my lips with hate and disgust how drops of your spit was forced onto my lips and my body. How you forced my top up and grabbed my skin like it had no value.

The next morning after the first time, seeing my body was difficult. In anyone else’s eyes, nothing had changed. Many a few purple bruises around my chest but nothing that would change someone’s attitude. When I managed to look in the mirror, I saw a different person. A person who was stupid. Was pathetic. Was worthless. A person who deserved it.

You apologised to me and I forgave you. I felt like maybe I gave the wrong signals and that, it’s just a misunderstanding. So that’s why I met up with you.

The second time. A time which is harder to think about. This time my other friend couldn’t make it to yours. Let’s just say this time was more aggressive. You grabbed my hands and forced them down you. It was explicit. You showed off, you thought I was impressed by your dick and that I was trying hard to get. I said no, no, no. ‘My dad is going to be here soon’, ‘Look, I’m not good at this’, ‘I’m on my period’, ‘I haven’t shaved.’ Anything to stop you. I remember the moment I froze. It was when I felt my hand cramp under the intense force of your hand and you made me touch you. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and in my head, I still wasn’t annoyed with you. I just felt sad and alone.

But I made it clear that I didn’t want to and that’s what confuses me. You knew I didn’t want to. You even messaged me saying sorry and we even decided that we would just be friends and that I won’t be going to yours any time soon.

The third time. We went to Mcdonalds. I was talking to another boy that I liked. You even said that you weren’t going to ruin that for me. The third time was a few weeks after the second time and I repeatedly told myself that the other times were my fault and that I shouldn’t have given off the wrong signals. After our burgers, you demanded for me to come over…even shouting at me in the middle of the fast food place. I said no and laughed it off…did you seriously think I was going to come over after what had happened previously?You did know but you also knew that I don’t like hurting people. You threatened to message the boy that I liked about the other times and you knew I wouldn’t explain to the other boy what actually happened because I didn’t believe myself that I was sexually assaulted. All I felt was guilt. So I went to yours.

I don’t like talking about what happened the third time. I find it agonising even thinking about it. The moment I got to yours, you grabbed me by the throat where I found it hard to breathe. You pressed down hard on my neck to force my head to go down to your crotch. You gripped my breats under my t-shirt which you commented ‘You’re skinner than I thought you would be’. You got your fingers inside my trousers. You blocked the door so I couldn’t get out. You ignored my screams for you to stop. You ignored how I cried and collapsed under you.

Even after that, I still feel guilty. Despite what my counsellor says and what my friends say, I feel like I deserved it. But I know, deep down inside, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just wanted to have a friend there with me.

You are a dick. A massive one. You think yourself as a man with your low voice and being the tallest boy in the school. You are just a boy. You know what you’ve done and now, you like to show off about it.

You’re sick.

And even though, I feel damaged. I’m getting better. I do have someone that respects me now. I, now, look into the mirror and see someone who is strong and deserves love.

Yes. I do still need to do more work. I do feel that guilt or sadness still but I understand that what you did to me isn’t my fault at all but yours; it was your cowardly act.

So, the boy who hurt me. I’m not going to stay hurt forever. And I’m happy to move on but also, say good bye to your face forever.

Bye,
The young women who you abused.

Low Point

Warning: This poem has some unpleasant themes in it and details a point I reached in my mental health today where everything felt, and feels, really awful. If you’re triggered by this type of content, please don’t feel like you have to read this. There’s help and support available and you always deserve to be loved and supported.


I hate myself
This time like it’s easy,
Falling back into misery
With little more than a shiver,
The sun setting on autumn
As it shadows into winter
A little too early.

So little do I care
That I wish to snap my own strings like thread
Through a shredder,
Little pieces of soul swimming away
Whilst no one is there
To see where weariness led.

I feel hopeless
Like it’s simple,
The worst jealousy and screams
Building up inside me and
I’m an awful friend,
A worthless girl,
Can I just fall apart,
My thoughts unfurl
Until no one remembers these perilous dreams?

Foolishly I believed
In a world where I was free of this
Gripping anxiety and shouts around me
But I am
Never good enough, never solid,
A fragile pool of starlight
That breaks apart when asked to be
Loved, to do anything when all I could do was
Fall into myself
And the message was never received.

Oblivion sounds nice
Right about now.

It is not a surprise
That people have given up on seeing
And no one cares,
NO ONE CARES
Because I am alone with nothing outside
This window of wishes and
I deserve it,
Oh god I deserve it
And I can’t do this
Anymore.

I can’t do this.

I can’t.

I hate me
And they hate me
And I’m broken again,
A cut up symphony
Where nothing fits-
What can I do to stop it?


I’m okay at the moment, just a little shaken at how fast my mental health plummetted today. There wasn’t a specific reason; after going out to London and having a wonderful time, when I was going home, everything piled up on top of me. I hated myself and thought that everyone did too; every single interaction I was having with people and seeing was proof of that to my mind (even though none of it was logical) and I felt so fucking alone that I couldn’t even let those emotions out. So, I decided on a poem.

Things will get better, for all of us, but it’s just so horrible when we’re actually going through it. I have hope but right now, my mind is my worst enemy for a few hours (as I hope it will pass soon).

From Elm

The Thing About my Identity

In September, I’ll be attending a college for the visually impaired. I’ve made no secret of that on my blog but to be honest, there are very few in this country and just under 150 people attend each at any given time. That means everyone will know each other but also that it possibly wouldn’t be difficult to figure out my ‘real’ identity.

Before, when the question of my identity came up, I reacted a little differently. I was much more defensive and worried about people finding it because I went to a school where, I felt, people would judge you or just didn’t care. Now I’m out – and even as I drew to the end of my secondary school years – I started to relax a bit more. Saying that, now, I’m starting to become quite paranoid about things. It seems silly but I’m eternally afraid that people are going to have this preconception of me that they transfer from blogging to ‘real life’, or vice versa. Does that make any sense?

I’m not so worried about blogging people finding out my real identity. It fills me with fear, of course, but there’s less chance of damaging consequences happening. Unless someone decides to unearth things about me from years ago that exist on the Internet, the blogging world won’t be my problem. I doubt I’ll reveal my identity soon but if it happens, that wouldn’t be as bad.

It’s the other way around that could be a problem. People at the college could, and probably will, find my blog. I don’t exactly do the best job at hiding it and trying to now would take far too long and would go against the openness and honesty that I want on my blog. However, the thought of people potentially discovering it and taking the piss out of me for it really worries me. It’s unlikely that they’d be so cruel but you never know: some people can be immature and laugh first before understanding.

If they do find me and only read a small amount of my posts, they could get varying opinions of me. They could look at my emotional posts and jump to conclusions about my personal life, seeming as some of the people I mention on this blog are VI (visually impaired) and might be known by them. They could find my old posts and think that’s still a representation of me. In short, they could do all sorts of things and sometimes, I’m scared about how I could react. People could really hurt me by using this blog against me and they wouldn’t even know it.

The truth is that I could react very badly. If I’m confronted with people knowing who Elm is, offline, I’d most likely freak out and if someone didn’t understand how important this blog is to me, they could trivialise it. Would that cause me to shut down? Would I then stop posting? I don’t know: I’d hope that I was mature enough to react as calmly as possible but who knows? I’m scared that if someone really drags up old memories, I won’t be able to handle trying to defend myself.

I’m afraid of becoming someone else that I don’t recognise. I’m scared that I’ll be leaving myself behind, almost, and that all my identities will be taken from me by people discovering previously unseen parts of myself. Isn’t this just life, though? I suppose it happens all the time; this is just a big change and I don’t know how to feel about it.

Don’t lose yourself in the mayhem of new beginnings but at the same time, don’t be afraid to change what you define as ‘yourself’. Your identity is fluid and doesn’t always have to be tied down by people and experiences. It’s okay if it changes.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Life is Hectic

Sometimes, things happen in my life that make me sit up and ask myself, “Is this really happening?” I’ve had some pretty surreal experiences happen to me over the last year, where my life feels a little bit unreal. It’s hectic, to say the least!

There are memories that I look back on which fill me with joy. Most of those recent ones come from Vienna, where I screamed with laughter around my friends. Walking down the streets, holding onto each other at one point and getting so many things wrong almost made me feel like life couldn’t truly get this hilariously good. I came back to England and the cold shock of ‘reality’ made me pause. To be honest, I don’t quite know what’s happening.

I was approached on Tuesday by a representative of a company, asking me whether I wanted to audition for something. I have to be vague as I can’t actually say what it is. However, when I looked up what was required I almost screamed. This was kind of unfortunate as I was in the middle of a crowded place and so shouting would have drawn too much attention. It’s the kind of thing I never thought could happen, from an industry which I never thought I’d be properly involved in. It’s doubtful that big things will come from it but I want and need that experience. I just hope it can increase my confidence.

Acting has been going well: I’ve been offered jobs and because of my crippling insecurity, it’s been surprising because I honestly thought I was shit. I’ve been in contact with my agent too (and God, that’s weird to say) and I don’t feel like an utter failure. Though I haven’t been to any further auditions, things are looking up, especially as my attitude to everything is slowly improving as my mental health isn’t as unstable as it was before.

On Tuesday night, my heart crashing with emotion, I finally got closure from a situation that had been running round in my head for 8 months. It was the most freeing I’d ever felt and at one point I actually screamed, “I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM HAVING THIS CONVERSATION!” The person in question was amazing about it (I honestly don’t know how I thought it could be any different) and the honesty was refreshing. As it was a huge part of my life and I didn’t want to talk about it on the blog until I got closure, I need to dedicate a whole other blog post to it. Maybe then, I can finally start to process it all.

Friendships have been going so well too, ever since I crawled out of the pit of A-Levels. It’s been surprising to me that I can still be a good friend, that I can still be an interesting person to talk to. Not only have I gained closure as I said above but I’ve also had some pretty honest conversations with some friends about how my actions in the past affected them but also, how they affected me. Very recently, I’ve become friends with Connor and there are some people who you click with immediately and after a day of knowing them, you just know that they’re going to be a part of your life: he’s incredibly kind and inspires me so much; it shocked me that I could still form those connections and not feel like a fraud for having them.

Today, I’m going to a sort of induction at the college for the visually impaired that I’m attending next year. There will be so many people there and in a way, I’m really excited but also fucking terrified. I’m desperately scared that people will hate me and that I’ll make the worst impression but this is a huge new chapter of my life that I want to experience as fully as I can.I don’t know where any of this will go. But really, I’m excited. I’m excited to see what life, with all its crazy turns and “WHAT IS HAPPENING” moments, will show me.

Have you had any weird things happening recently?

From Elm πŸ™‚

I Went to Pride!

Yesterday was such a brilliant day. To be honest, it was the best day I’ve had in such a long while. Why? Because yesterday, I went to Pride in London for the second time (the first time was two years ago). The sun was shining (a lot); my voice is still a bit rusty but I feel like I truly made memories that will last a lifetime.

It took a bit of organisation, first of all. Originally, it was going to be a group from school – me, Wren and our other friend who’s moving abroad in a week or so for university. Then, I invited one of my closest friends, Lu, because she’s a fabulous bean and I haven’t seen her in months. Pearl – who I talk about here – was added to our group too, along with her two sisters and I was so hyped for that that I did a lot of screeching. My other friend who I’ve known since I was 4, Ivy, would also be at Pride and so we planned to meet her as well. In the morning, Lu and I met at a train station, then met her friend, before I went off to have a really early lunch with someone I hadn’t seen in months. As you can tell, there was a lot of “And then we met this person!”

The friend I hadn’t seen in months was actually a woman who had been my chaperone in the filming I did in December last year. Her name’s Chris and I hadn’t seen her in six months. Despite that, as soon as I saw her, I immediately felt just as I had when I’d seen her last – we joked, insulted each other, laughed and almost cried. We went to a cafe, spoke about our lives and had such a lovely time. I forgot how much I got on with her but hopefully, we should be seeing each other soon – I think there are some people who will remain in your life, no matter how much time goes between you seeing each other. Saying goodbye wasn’t difficult, simply because of that.

I sometimes get an attitude where planning isn’t so important. That was why, after having met Chris, we then met up with the friends who we’d originally organised the day with. Waiting outside Leicester Square station, it took a while for them to find us but when they did, I full-on screamed and rushed at Wren. Our other friend from school (who is a genuine icon) was there too so our group, who now numbered five, wandered off to find the parade. Along the way, Lu and I got rainbow flags; Wren helped me tie it to my cane (and by helped, I mean did it for me because I’m pathetic). Again, I screamed a lot as we neared the sounds of music and cheering.

Eventually, after much walking through crowds and stopping to see people going past us, we found a spot by some railings in Trafalgar Square. The parade would be passing directly beneath us – we were one of the first people there and so we stood right by the railings. As soon as the parade started, a huge cheer went up: people blew whistles and screamed and the whole square was a mass of noise and celebration. That continued as everyone passed us – I honestly roared at one point. After a lot of attempts, Pearl and her sisters found us and then Mit (another friend I met through blogging) arrived. Everyone was there and because I couldn’t see the parade, what filled me with joy was all my friends being there as the celebration and cheers swirled around us. It was so beautiful; Lu and I were yelling; I tried to hug everyone: it felt like I was on top of the world for a brief moment.

After a bit of time, when the heat was increasing and we felt our energy declining, we decided to leave the parade. Instead, we walked to a cafe and then to St. James’s Park, the sun beating down as I almost melted. Going through the streets whilst laughing and then finally arriving at the park, finding a place to sit and then just chatting was just as special as the parade. It was calm: some of us talked; some of us watched the football game “FOOTBALLs COMING HOME) and some of us decided it would be a great idea to climb a tree. Pearl, her sisters and her friend had to leave early to say goodbye to some kittens they’d been fostering (which was sad because seeing them again was so wonderful) and after that, Ivy arrived with a friend of hers. By the end of it, we were pretty much sitting in a circle, with two or three conversations going on at once as the weather slowly started to become less humid.

At around half 5, Ivy, her friend and I went back to her house. I felt quite emotional saying goodbye: I hugged Mit until it was painful, wailed at Lu that I loved her and told our school friend that I was proud of her – as she’s moving abroad and I may never see her again. A day was over that felt important, where I was entirely present and loved by people.

I smiled, or felt happy inside, all day which is a rarity for me. Not only was the atmosphere electric and amazing but I was surrounded by people who I love and who have become special to me in their individual ways. We laughed and I screeched and it lived up to a day of acceptance for me, where my identity – whatever that may turn out to be – was alright because people around me loved me. I felt like I truly connected with everything.

That’s what I live for. And I want to repeat those kinds of days for as long as possible, save up the snapshots of memory from Pride and love and beauty to hold with me, to remind me that though my identity can change, I’ll still be marching forward in the parade of existence and no one can stop me from feeling that euphoria.

From Elm πŸ™‚

When Writing Becomes Stressful

Recently, I read a post by Michelle that shocked me because of how much I related to it. That post essentially said that even when you want to write, you sometimes don’t and one of her reasons was that she was scared. Whilst there are other reasons why I’m finding writing difficult right now, the notion of being afraid and not understanding why struck a note with me because it was putting into words what I’d felt for months.

Most of my friends know that writing is what keeps me going a lot of the time. Blogging and broadcasting my thoughts is a point of stability for me, where sentences and emotions can flow out of my head and onto something tangible. It’s said to “come naturally” but of late, words don’t have the same impact. I often feel trapped in my own head, despite desperately wanting to write, but not finding the right way to express that. For someone who is sustained my words and dreams, it feels like a huge blow that it just doesn’t seem to be cathartic for now.

Here comes the fear that felt so relatable when I read Michelle’s thoughts. I constantly compare my present self to my past self, where I have this idea in my head that I need to act exactly the same as past Elm did. That is, I become afraid when my thoughts about writing and the way I write drastically change. The fear also comes from disappointing people: I’m scared that if I don’t write, my “one” talent will be gone; I’ll just be wasted and no-one will ever want to read my words again because they’re different; they’re not like how they were. I think this ties into the pressure that most bloggers face, where a change of style causes worry that your readers won’t read any more. Of course, your blog is yours but at some point, the wish for people to like your content can win out and engulf you, making you scared when that content transforms.

It’s also that I’m afraid that the posts I do write won’t come out right. I hold myself to an unbelievably and sometimes unreachable high standard, where I think that everything has to fit together nicely and that I’m not good anymore if that standard slips. That “standard”, though, is massively subjective and change doesn’t mean getting worse. However, I still have that nagging feeling that my content will be unoriginal. Because of that, I lock myself into a circular argument, where I’m paranoid that I won’t write anything decent so I don’t write but then I think that makes me a failure and that I’m incapable of writing, etc, etc. It continues until I don’t know if I’m telling myself the truth or not.

A relevant example is two posts which I’ve been meaning to write for a week and a half and three days, respectively. The first was a recap and update post on how my Austria trip, with two of my friends, went (it was absolutely breathtaking, by the way); the second was a post on my Prom experience on Monday (also fantastic and it taught me a lot about my own personal limits). I’ve not written either of them. As time went by and the days stretched out, I felt guilty and almost ashamed of the fact that I’d not got it done. Who was I if I couldn’t write these important posts? Would I slowly start to share less and less of my life, until I didn’t at all? That genuinely distressed me.

The reality is, I built up those posts into a huge block of “YOU MUST DO THEM NOW” inside my mind. They became benchmarks of my writing: if I could write those lengthy, update-like posts, I was dedicated. I was good. However, I started to get really panicked about writing the actual posts. Though I wrote outlines (they’re still on my computer), every time I thought about sitting down and putting my words onto a screen I just felt upset. Why? Why would I feel upset when what I was writing about made me happy?

Was it just that it was too much work? Does my inability to put that much effort into a post make me lazy? Am I then worse than everyone else because I don’t do enough? These kinds of questions kept going round and round in my mind, poisonously, until I couldn’t bare to sit down and write them.

There’s this unpleasant point that you can get to where you think that people will abandon you if you don’t do a certain thing. It’s happened to me a few times over the last 3 years but never has it invaded my life so harshly. It surprised me: I always tell people that “your blog is your own” and “only write when you feel like it” but I’ve not been following my own advice. I took the thing I adored and made it into something pressurising, the act of “failure” that isn’t even failure turning into this monster and couldn’t, and can’t, shake. It’s upsetting simply because I want to follow my own words. Right now, I’m not.

I think I need to step back a bit. Writing has become so stressful that I’ve warped it in my own head; it feels too draining. I need to reconnect with why I’m passionate about it and I think that actually comes from not writing, only for a small while. I’m putting myself under too much pressure, when it’s not necessary; I’m done with school and work-related pressure shouldn’t be a feature of my summer.

This only means that I need to evaluate how I approach blogging and how I approach writing. I want to be as honest as possible here; this whole thing has been increasing over the last few days, making me unsettled and more irritable, less responsive to people and generally a bit of a bitch. I don’t want to hide that side of me and I think that I need to think about why writing is important to me, without forcing myself to write. I may have wanted to write about happy, positive experiences but I built that up to a stressor in my head, which turned the writing of the posts into some kind of negative force.

I’ve always loved writing but I think the expectations I set myself are too high. I can’t write if I’m not confident in the effect my words will have on me. It’s neither fair on me or you: I don’t want my worry to shine through in my words all the time.

I just need to relax, really. Writing isn’t a chore or a necessity. It’s something I do when I want but most importantly, it isn’t my enemy.

From Elm πŸ™‚

It’s Prom Today!

Today (although I’m writing it the day before because rebel) is our Year 13 Prom. It’s being held in a quite fancy venue, our year-group – or as many as bought tickets – together for the final time before Results’ Day. I don’t know what to expect but considering that before Year 11 Prom, it was really hectic, I’m guessing it’ll be even more hectic this time.

My dress is a medium blue, with little white and pink flowers on it. After it got adjusted, it fits me really well and I’m happy with how I feel in it. As for makeup and hair, I have no idea what I’ll do – I think I might have my hair down but who knows? I’m attempting to be more relaxed about this. It’s failing.

I can’t help but be a little nervous. Unlike my Year 11 Prom, I’m not getting my hair or makeup professionally done. My friends are helping me with it and I think it’s a testament to how much I utterly love them and how much more I’ve opened up that I trust them enough to help with my appearance. However, I’m still worried. It’s not a reflection on my friends but rather can be explained by my wild insecurities that won’t – excuse my language – fuck off.

Perhaps it’s a bunch of internalisation talking but I know I still look like a child. I don’t want to look like that when I’m at the Prom but at the same time, I still want to look like myself. It really upsets me when people dismiss my appearance and treat me differently, or less seriously, because of it. It makes me feel hideous, the constant belief that I look far too young to be 18, that I look ridiculous, that I’m putting on a show of adulthood when really, I’ll always look fragile and small. This may all seem ridiculous and I’m trying to get rid of the frustrated scream that’s caught inside my throat. Time with friends will help that to diminish.

Before Prom, we’re having a pre-Prom at my friend Swan’s house. Three of us – Swan, someone who I’ve decided to call Owl and I – are getting ready together because having photos with some of our group, then going to school and finally to the venue itself. It’ll give me a chance to calm down, I think, from all the nerves.

I know that I’ll have a wonderful time, surrounded by people I genuinely respect and love. This is the final celebration, if you will, of my secondary education. Or, in less formal terms, a time where I take the piss out of myself and everyone else, dance horribly, stave off mental breakdowns and say a last goodbye to people I won’t see again for ages, or possibly ever.

After Prom, I think that a lot of the year are going into town, potentially going clubbing. I’ve never been clubbing before so it should be interesting at best and disastrous at worst. Me drunk is horrifying, to say the least, and I expect by the time I get back to my friend’s house, I’ll be exhausted. If I do end up wearing heels, I may fall over which would complete the disastrous blind stereotype I’m going for.

It’s just a shame that the majority of my year are still strangers to me. Now, it feels too late to start to get to know those I haven’t known before. Saying that, maybe I can show myself for one final time before everything changes that I can make an impression, that I’m special in a little way, that these 7 years haven’t been for nothing.

I want to do that. I don’t want to be scared. Most of all? Selfishly, perhaps, I want to be beautiful to myself.

Have you had Prom yet? How did it go?

From Elm πŸ™‚