Blind College is Weird

I started this post in the break between lessons and very quickly realised that my brain was too scrambled to finish it in 20 minutes. It’s the first time I’ve been given proper room to breathe (most of it was purposeful because I don’t want to be alone right now) and so I thought I should update you all – or try. God, where do I even start?

I moved into blind college last Saturday – you can read about how I was feeling here. Over the last week, I’ve managed to have two mental breakdowns, make a few really solid friends, actually keep on top of my work and also to go to a University of Oxford open day (what the fuck am I doing?). All in all? It’s part success and part shrieking confusion. As usual.

How it works here is a bit different to how it is in mainstream (Sixth Form). It’s residential, meaning that we stay in halls – I’m staying in the over 18s hall – and we have all our lessons on the college campus. The huge difference is how few students there are – I’d say that there are fewer than 100. Mostly, that’s what I’ve been struggling with – the small environment, the potential drama, trying not to get overwhelmed and everything else that comes along with that.

Here, I’m doing a Performing Arts course. That’s going really well – I’ve managed to understand the course, keep up with work and actually get on with the people I’m with. However, I’ve come to realise that I’m not confident at all but that I’m really good at faking it. It’s been so easy to pretend I’m fine, that nothing properly phases me but the truth is that right now, things don’t feel good and I don’t know what to do about it.

It’s not that I’m not coping. Well, I am coping but only just about. It’s so hard to juggle everything – classes, spending time with people but most of all, keeping up with my out of college friends. I’ve barely had time to think or message or anything; the main sources of my panic are coming from feeling immense guilt over not talking to people. I just don’t want to lose anyone because of not communicating well.

I’ve tried not to be alone. That involves spending time with people pretty much constantly, to the point where I now feel weak and drained. I put around 40 different faces on in order to feel somewhat put together. I’ve made a couple of really good friends and on top of the friends I already had who were coming here, they’ve kept me going. At times, I’ve been unable to function – finding it hard to eat, to speak to people or to even breathe properly – but I do have support.

I suppose, the good thing about this place is that you can’t really avoid people, meaning that somebody – at some point – is going to pick up on the fact that you’re feeling shit. Yesterday, I went to see the college counsellor who was really helpful; now I have more of a plan in place for any counselling sessions. However, I didn’t quite process any of my emotions, which resulted in a delayed reaction that I couldn’t stop. Later that day, I had to walk out of my last lesson of the day because I was wildly panicking; I went to the residential support team who are in my hall and absolutely wailed to one of them. It’s been a long time since I’ve cried that hard at somebody and it was therapeutic, to say the least. Despite that, I’ve been feeling alone and like nobody wants me here. That’s ridiculous, I know, but for some reason I can’t stop those intrusive thoughts.

Honestly, I am having a good time. I’m just overwhelmed and dealing with some pretty horrific emotions: often, around this time, I have a pretty rough time mental health wise. It’s difficult not to feel unhappy when I’m surrounded by so many things that make me hide it all until it comes out in a disjointed post like this. The fact is, I’ve been having some horrible days but there are positives.

I’ll be okay – I can’t even pretend to be functioning normally right now but the difference to the usual is that I know I have people to talk to. Coming here was the best decision; it’s just taking a while to adjust and on top of my existing shitty mental health, it’s a lot to take in.

At some point, I’ll write a better explanation post. Writing coherently takes too much energy at the moment. For now, I hope everyone’s okay – I’m sorry I’ve been so absent. Stay safe and stay happy.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

How I’m Feeling about Moving Away to College | Screaming

Today marks a week before I move away from home for a year to go to what I affectionately call “blind college”. Essentially, I’m going there to increase my independence (learning how to cook, clean, get better IT skills) and also to do a few courses. Because it’s me, naturally, I’m just a little bit terrified at the prospect of moving away because although I’ll go back in half terms and the other holidays, I won’t see my family for a while.

Firstly, I’m not prepared. How do you prepare for going away for so long? How much do you pack? What do you pack??? Should I bring anything from my room? I DON’t KNOW! I probably should have sorted that out all before but I’m a massive procrastinator and always do things at the very last minute. Oops?

I’ve made a start on sorting out all my clothes, ready to get a lot of them packed. It’s only now that I realise just how many clothes I have and more specifically, how many of them I don’t actually like. Buried in my wardrobe are a whole Narnias-worth of t-shirts that I haven’t worn in months, possibly years. Not to mention that’s only at my mum’s house and at some point in the next 7 days, I have to transfer all of my clothes to one house to sort them out there.

The fear about change and that kind of thing is starting to set in. Of course, I don’t expect to be exactly the same at the end of the year but I’m so worried that I’ll accidentally get myself involved in drama, or that I’ll start being toxic to people, and not be able to get out. One of my friends who I call Robin, who went to that college for 3 years, has helped me to rationalise how I’m feeling. Another, S, who went to a similar school, has been a massive support as well. It’s still so nerve-wracking though.

I am really looking forward to it. It’ll be so different – a chance to express myself; a way of becoming more confident; a way of meeting new people. Right now, having done my exams and having received the results, it feels like I’m in a kind of limbo.

It feels like I’m on the cusp of something but not quite at the point where I know where it is. It’s almost, really, like I’m still waiting. Whether that be for the punchline or for the surprise that cements in my head that I can do this, that I’m capable. I just hope it’ll arrive before the week is out.

It’s not that I’m scared or soul-crushingly nervous. Rather, it’s that I’m anticipating a change, with no way of knowing how deep that change will run at the end of it. Maybe I’ll stay the same; maybe I won’t. All I want is to continue to be there for people – for the core of myself to stay the same.

I want to document it, as much as I can. My thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, without it becoming too confusing. Will I succeed? Again, I don’t know.

I just hope that this blog can remain my safe space.

Next Saturday, things are going to change but I’m as mentally prepared as I can be. This is a new beginning and I’m determined to make the most of it as I can.

If you’re starting University, Sixth Form or another year at school, how are you feeling about it?

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

I Cried at my A-Level Results

On the morning of Results’ Day, I woke up feeling so ill that I couldn’t do much. I say “woke up”, it was more like “got up” because I’d hardly got any sleep the night before. It was a mixture of sheer panic and the inability to quiet my mind; I procrastinated sleeping by wailing about how scared I was to the friends that would put up with it.

My dad, Mum, a friend I call Rapunzel who’s been staying for a few days and I travelled to school by car because I live around 40 minutes away. On the way there, I had to listen to music to shut my brain off. I got into school, after being unable to function in the car, and I could barely breathe. The fear was unbelievable, especially because I was one of the first ones there.

We got into the hall and I just remember hearing this awful ringing in my ears. It was like nothing else mattered and I felt so weak that I had to hold my mum’s arm really tightly. Because we were pretty much first in line, my results were given to us quickly in an envelope (which of course I couldn’t read).

When my parents opened the results, my immediate response was “how bad is it?” For weeks now, I’d been setting myself up for failure, telling myself I’d do terribly. I was so afraid of disappointing people that I told my parents and everyone that I’d done awfully and I believed it myself. I can’t stress how much I thought I’d fucked up.

Turns out, I got amazing results – far better than I ever could have dreamed. When I found out my English result, I screamed so loudly that I felt like the whole hall went silent; Rapunzel picked me up and I was so happy – like I couldn’t believe. My friend Swan also got her results and we ran at each other, shrieking. I’m just so proud of all of my friends because they did fantastically, after having worked so hard. I hugged so many teachers, finally able to congratulate myself, with concrete evidence that my brain couldn’t disprove.

Afterwards, Rapunzel and I went to Swan’s house. There, we watched hilarious videos, relaxed and screamed a lot. The day had such an unreal quality to it, yet everything felt a little more vibrant. We met up with some friends and had lunch; it was so much more chilled than anything I’d done in school because I properly felt – and feel – free.

It’s been almost surreal, these last few days. At the weekend, I went to one of my best friend’s houses to stay and there, I felt lighter than I have in months. I’ve come to terms with a lot these past few weeks and that’s really shown in how I even react to myself. Sure, my mental health has really dipped recently but it feels as if there’s a massive weight off my shoulders. Now I’m not quite sure what to do with myself, though I’m still keeping busy as a distraction.

Whether you got the results you wanted or not, you should be proud of yourself. A-Levels were some of the hardest things we’ll ever do and we got through them: that counts for something. No matter what happens, there are always options and you will always have choices – that might not help right now but just hold onto what you can do rather than what you’ve done. You aren’t a failure.

It’s over now – you’ve done it; all that adrenaline isn’t needed for being afraid. Results Day was the final obstacle and now you can go on to live your life. God, I feel like I need a year-long sleep. Start again, if you want to, because you deserve that.

I’m proud of myself and I can really say that now. When I was going through shit in the middle of the year, my Head of Year told me that I would be and she was right. I bloody well did it, got through, survived, and no-one can take that away from me.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

It’s Results Day Tomorrow WHAT

In less than 24 hours, I will have got my results for A-Levels. The very thought of that makes me feel ill. Fuck, oh God, I’m getting my results tomorrow.

If you don’t live in the UK, A-Levels are exams you do at the end of year 13 – the last year of high school, 12th grade, your last finals if you will. They’re the culmination of 2 years of work, in 3-4 subjects. They determine what university you go to, if your placement is dependent on grades (a conditional offer). Because of the new system of education, most of our grade is down to 2-3 exams – only a few subjects had exams that counted for the final grade a year before.

I did 3 subjects – English Lit, History and Psychology. In a way, I’m lucky because I didn’t apply for university this year (I’m applying in my year out) but that just means that whatever grades I get, I’m stuck with. It was certainly less pressurised when I was doing the exams but now it’s approaching results, I’m feeling more than terrified.

Around three weeks before now, I started getting the obligatory Results Day nightmares. At first, it was fine: I dreamt that I got all B’s in my subjects, which would have been good. Then, it jumped to E’s: I remember in that dream, it felt so incredibly realistic; everyone was disappointed in me and I woke up crying. Next, it was that I’d got all G’s. You can’t actually get G’s in A-Level as far as I know, which just shows how much my fear of failure was manifesting itself. My final dream was a couple of days ago: I’d got A*’s in everything but English, in which I’d got a D. That was kind of a problem because I want to study English at uni. Honestly, at this point I don’t know what to expect. I have no idea if I did alright or terribly.

On GCSE Results Day, I was nervous. I felt really ill and couldn’t sleep as much the night before. However, I knew that it wouldn’t be too bad if I didn’t get the grades I wanted. I also knew that I’d done reasonably well because I was able to put my all into those exams. With A-Levels, I’m not so sure: it means more if I don’t do as well but I also don’t have the certainty that I will have done well, at all. In my exams, my mental health had deteriorated to such a point that I could barely function in the months leading up to it. I did my best, given the circumstances, but is my best good enough?

I don’t know. So many people have said that there’s ‘nothing I can do about it now’ but they’re mostly relatives or much older adults who haven’t gone through this new system. I’m just so afraid that I’ll be a failure – not really to others but mostly to myself. Oh well – I know I’m going to have to deal with the consequences regardless; it’s just the lead-up that makes me want to sob.

To everyone getting results tomorrow, good luck. We’re going to get through this and no matter what results we get, those letters won’t define us. I know it’s scary but in a day, it’ll be over and we can breathe.

If I can’t believe in myself, I can at least try to help others believe in themselves. We got through these 2 years in one piece and we’re nearly there. That counts for something and you should be proud.

Good luck, everyone. We can do this.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

That Incomplete Look at My Life

Today was tiring but amazing. I travelled for a lot of it, going to Cambridge with Kel to visit a good friend of ours before going home: I’ve had a wonderful few days with him, filled with laughs and far too much alcohol for comfort. When I got home, I was exhausted and decided to spend a ‘short time’ going through my old emails for nostalgic purposes. That ‘short time’ turned into nearly an hour of trawling through the little bits of my life I’d shared with people so long ago, when I actually used my email for personal purposes. As you’ll see, it was surprisingly… Eventful.

It’s often the case that when I’m feeling slightly emotional or just need a way to distract myself, my old emails are a good way to centre myself. It’s partly because a lot of them are just confusing or hilarious but it’s more to do with the fact that it always reminds me of bits of my life that I’d forgotten. Not only did I find my old emails but I remembered that I’d forwarded some of them to my friends a few years later, commiserating over how awful they were. My younger self was almost painfully cringe at times but it gives my older self a way to look back and reflect. Now, I’m not sure how much of those emails represented how I truly felt.

Some of them were unspeakably unbearable to read, simply because they made me physically recoil from wincing so hard at my younger self’s actions. There were emails to my ex-boyfriend when I was 11: ‘love u sooooooo much!!!!!!! xxxxxx” and emails to my friends about how ‘upset’ I was: “Don’t tell him I said that” and “I just feel so heartbroken because he wouldn’t talk to me!!!! *screams*”. Alright, some of them were exaggerated but you get the picture. I was prone to massive bouts of drama back then and thought that documenting it was somehow helpful.

The thing is, it is helpful. Only because I know a little of how I thought when I was ‘going through’ what was apparently the ‘worst point of my life’. Now I know, of course, that it was nothing compared to what I actually have gone through but some of the things I wrote were hugely reflective of the issues I’d face in later life. Oh shit, that makes me sound so old.

On the other hand, though a lot of it I can make fun of, some of it was genuinely emotional. It was around the age of 14 – 4 years ago – that I experienced my first heartbreak which wrecked me for a long time afterwards. Reading my words on that, where I had an inability to understand, jolted me right back to how it felt. Reading funny emails between me and my ex-girlfriend was simultaneously painful and smile-inducing because we’ve gone through a lot together. Finding situations where I’d been the toxic person, some of which I didn’t even remember, was a little jarring as well. If I’ve forgotten that, what else have I forgotten?

There was a recurring theme in those emails, especially the ones when I was older, where I began to go through some really unpleasant things. I would constantly be paranoid that my friends were talking about me; I’d sometimes shut down conversations – presumably because I thought no one cared. As I still do, I used to take any kind of rejection to heart and blamed myself for pretty much anything, which was broken up by these awful spells of anger that I rarely get any more but they still happen. Seeing all of that so far back reminded me that there are bits of my life that still feel like a puzzle with a few missing pieces.

It’s like looking at my life through a bit of a haze. For the things I don’t remember so clearly, I only have those emails to go on because back then, before the age of 13, I barely used social media to communicate because I had the shittiest phone that I could barely use. It’s half funny and half horrifying to realise that I’ll never get a complete picture of some parts of my life – all I’ll have is some badly worded explanations to friends, or rants that end with too many exclamation marks to be legible. Saying that, it makes it a little mysterious. How much was I really heartbroken that Rowan was looking at another girl who wasn’t me? Will I ever find out?

I don’t think I can ever know just how many different things I don’t remember fully in my life. Isn’t that just memory, though? It’s fragile and confusing but can pop up in the most unexpected of places to show you a section of your life that teaches you something, or provides you with a bit of laughter when you need it most. Some things in those emails were upsetting; some were just weird but most of all, they were small parts of myself that make me remember that those layers of experience make me up as a person.

That’s what I want to remember. Not how many pieces I don’t quite understand but what the pieces I remember can show me. In the end, this was a good way to end a hectic day: by some sort of mixed-up reflection on who I am.

Do you sometimes feel like this too?

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™‚

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™‚

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™‚

Some Thoughts About My Identity

I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks. Though that’s never a good thing, because me thinking usually results in a catastrophe, this time it’s been about my identity. Along of bemusement and a heavy dose of yelling to my friends about how confused I am, I might have started to piece together a bit more of who I think I am.

Because my thoughts are quite jumbled, I’m going to try and organise them into sections. They’ll overlap, but that’s the beauty of life, right? (I honestly have no idea how this post is going to go, so bare with my strange ramblings).

Sexual Attraction

In terms of who I’m sexually attracted to, I know it could be any gender. I know that I can get incredibly strong sexual and physical attraction to people. It’s happened many times before, even if I don’t necessarily know them. However, the sexual attraction becomes stronger the more I know somebody. Saying that, I am honestly afraid of intimacy with anyone I don’t know very well and even when I do know somebody very well, I still can become really nervous. I think this is because I was emotionally damaged from situations before that I become wary of people that I trust, in case they do something similar. In addiN to that, I am afraid of losing control in a situation where I might embarrass myself. The attraction, as well as the fear, builds up over time but I’ve found that attempting to repress this attraction can make it a lot worse.

Romantic Attraction

This one’s a bit more tricky. A lot of the time, I get romantic and sexual attraction confused. However, I know that I do experience strong romantic feelings for people; I’ve “fallen in love” three times as far as I’m aware. This attraction is normally only strong when I know somebody really well. To people I don’t know so well, I can get attracted but it’s only often a surface attraction that easily fades. Like physical attraction, I also get scared of my feelings most of the time. This causes me to run away from them, or try, which can then block me from feeling anything.

How They Interact

This is where all the confusion starts. When doing anything intimate, if there isn’t any kind of romantic subtext, I can feel a little sick afterwards. This “sick” feeling also happens if I’m only romantically, and not sexually, attracted to a person. I will never feel entirely invested in someone if I’m just physically attracted to them but nothing else; this doesn’t stop me from being involved with them but it can cause me to panic somewhere down the line. As well as that, if I’m involved with someone in one way, it can progress to the other way as well: for example, if I just had romantic feelings for someone, I could then develop physical feelings and vice versa, the latter having occurred more than once.

I DO NOT HAVE A CLUE

All of this comes from experience, where I can relate every single thing I’ve said in this post to a situation that has happened. This means I don’t know if the same patterns will continue in the future. I know I’m scared of things and that to some extent, I’ve always been way, way more attracted to people who I know but recent experiences that have happened mean that I don’t fully understand how to commit to even those people who I adore with all my heart.

There isn’t much clarity here but I knew that, even as I began to write this post. I’m still extremely confused and there isn’t one way of saying, “Oh! This is me then.” I’m hesitant about committing to anything, just in case my indecisive brain decides to do a U-turn. However, as I said earlier, I’m very sick of having to pretend to not feel things.

All I know is that my thoughts on feelings and sexuality are complicated and can’t ever be fully explained with a simple few words. Part of it’s always been there but part of it’s to do with past experiences that have shaped my personal thoughts on what I’m comfortable with. Finding the different parts that fit into those two – or more – categories is going to be tricky and I may never fully figure out which might be which. Isn’t that what life is, though? Not always being sure of how things fit together?

I’m not going to attach a label to it right now, or maybe not ever. It might change – in fact, it probably will. If I commit to a label now, I might have further panic if that then changes again.

I want to live and fall in love again but I also need to work through a bunch of identity troubles first. Or rather, I want this to be a slow process because I’ve rushed things before and that is vastly unpleasant, to say the least.

Have you ever had confusion about your identity? What did you do to help yourself figure it out?

From Elm πŸ™‚

How My Exams Went, According to Me – Part 2

After that cathartic and weirdly contemplative post I wrote yesterday, I had time to calm down and think. How did my exams really go? I wrote that they went from ” alright to soul crushingly terrible in a pit of fire” and whilst that may be true, I wanted to write about them in a more constructive way. So, for your viewing… Horror, here is how my exams went: Elm style.

Psychology, Paper 1

It’s your AS content, they said. It’d be easy, they said. (not really, I’m just trying to make people pity me.) Being my first exam, I naturally started to feel nervous as soon as I left the house; it only increased before I got to school. Before an exam, I do this thing where I frantically revise until literally no more information could go in. Content-wise, I didn’t really need to do that because excluding one other exam, this was the one I was most prepared for.

The exam itself would have gone okay. I had to draw a graph at one point; some of the applying questions were disgusting but I vaguely knew what I was doing. Except, oh dear, I missed out an entire 9 marks worth of questions. How???!!! How the hell did I do that? I wrote about that content in one of the essays! Was I just half asleep or something? I have no idea. When I got out of that exam, I began my yearly wail on Twitter and that was when I found out. Honestly, I still don’t think I’m over it. Apart from that, there weren’t any terrible mishaps (although now I say that, I bet I’ve done something really foolish).

History, Paper 1

In shock, I came out of that exam feeling okay. I hadn’t done anything that warranted a shouting tournament with myself on twitter and unlike last year, no one from my school had liked one of my “I’m going to fail this exam” Tweets. The questions were… Okay – at least the essays; I actually had content for them. The interpretations questions weren’t as good but I had wildly revised the exam technique before. It was bearable. “Two down,” I thought. “I can do this.”

English, Paper 1

This one certainly wasn’t awful: the question on Jane Eyre was wonderful and the Othello question made me nearly shriek with happiness in the exam. The unseen poetry was the worst simply because I misinterpreted it. Maybe they’ll give me marks for technique?? Ah shit. I don’t want to be quick to say it went ‘well’, because I did that last year and this was the exam that pushed my grade down. I emailed my english teacher, who has been a genuine role model for me, to let her know it hadn’t gone too badly. For this one, I’d prepared and the practice essays – sorry, the one essay I did, went as well as I wanted it to. All in all? Not awful.

Psychology, Paper 2

It was on Friday of the first week of exams that I realised I hated Maths, Graphs, pie charts and all research methods. I fucked up this paper. I’m almost completely blind so I get extra time for exams and this time, I used all of it. Part of it was because I was drawing a graph but most of it was because I was trying to hold back tears. It’s really hard to estimate values in a pie chart and to understand the worst diagram I’ve ever seen and my mind went blank. Despite revising the day before, I screwed up a question on content analysis; I just lost my thought processes completely. This wasn’t even the worst exam because there were moments where I felt confident, if you can call it that.

English, Paper 2

You know how I just said that Psychology Paper 2 wasn’t the worst one? That’s because by far, this one was. Having had the weekend to revise and calm down, I thought it’d be okay and I’d prepared even more for this one than I had for the other english. On the morning of the exam, my family and I had had a massive argument and though it didn’t affect my performance, it put me in a terrible mood which, after the exam, came back full force.

The Handmaid’s Tale question was honestly beautiful because I had done almost exactly that question in a revision session and so I felt confident with it. What was awful was unseen prose as I could barely structure my answer and because it was on the same theme, the Streetcar and poetry question; I’d never prepared ‘conflict’ as a theme properly before. I was so upset coming out of it because I’d spent so long doing prep for it and I panicked in the middle of it. Luckily, it didn’t screw up my confidence but it made me feel so shit about myself. There may be nothing I can do about it now but it doesn’t stop the disappointment from affecting me.

History, Paper 2

MY NAME IS, MY NAME IS, MY NAME IS CHARLES THE SECOND – and before you ask, yes, I had that song going through my head on repeat during the exam. If you haven’t heard it, listen to it because it’s amazing.

After the crap that was English, I set to work again. I’d spent so, so long preparing for this exam and it paid off, finally. Even if the source question was really difficult, the essays were good because our teacher had gone through almost identical ones in class before. At one point I really did shriek “YES!” when I saw the question that I’d been revising the night before. It made my confidence climb slowly back up.

Just as I was about to go home, my history teacher found me. When I told her about the questions, I’ve never seen anyone so happpy and so relieved that they were questions which people had prepared for. It was so odd to finally be done with those topics; I’d spent a long while understanding them, so much so that I missed thinking about them when I had to move onto the next exam.

Psychology, Paper 3

Oh, fucking hell. The night before this exam, I realised that I knew very little and that I was the least prepared for this exam out of all of them. In the middle of running over concepts, I started crying, the only thing stopping me from utterly losing control being the conversation I’d had with my friend Robin which reassured me on one topic. For the others, I was a mess and the crying quickly transformed from sobbing over this exam to sobbing over the fact that I’d been suppressing all my unhappiness, trying to be so stably-stable and it was all catching up with me.

Consequently, I got very little sleep and had to wake up at 6 the following morning. Once again, I was revising before the exam, my whole body shaking. However, the exam itself didn’t go as awfully as I thought. It was really upsetting but I got through it; I remember freaking out over more maths content but then feeling this triumphant happiness in my chest as I got to the last question.

When exams themselves were over, because I word process (type), I had to sign all the pages on one of the copies of the exam. I’d forgotten how exhausting writing could be; I honestly can’t stand it. Because I don’t write in ‘print’ normally (I write in braille), I have to individually think about the letters when I’m writing them. As soon as I wrote my last signature, I felt weird – relieved, but it was almost anticlimactic. I was done and well, that was that.

All in all, they didn’t go as badly as I expected. I’m just trying to forget them now, as much as I can. Maybe relaxing, writing and living is the key to doing that. I managed it, somehow.

If you’re still doing exams, whether that be GCSEs or A-Levels, there isn’t long to go. You can do this. You’ve got through the majority of your exams already and you should be proud of yourself for that. The exam mountain isn’t unscalable.

Good luck, everyone. How’re you feeling about exams?

From Elm πŸ™‚