Trying to Love

I haven’t planned this post at all, except for a brief splash of ideas laid out in my head. I’ve just opened up a document; I’m going to write and write until my thoughts are expressed in some sort of capacity.

Recently, ever since exams were done, I’ve been trying to connect more with my emotions. Without the stress of work, or the lack of pressure, I knew that I could relax more. I’ve been trying to feel things, to love and laugh, to enjoy what I usually do. It’s not working and that’s scaring me.

The fact is, I’ve been feeling a little disconnected for so long that I now don’t understand how to properly process my emotions. I can’t relax; I sometimes just sit there doing nothing because I don’t know how to convince myself that doing something would be productive. I have hardly any motivation to write, blog or talk to people. Considering that I used to live and breathe motivation for it, to not have that has shocked me beyond all reasonable thought. I don’t even know why I feel like this. Without it, I feel drained, tired and more hopeless than I can fathom: why can’t I muster up the ability to love what I did before?

It’s not even that I don’t love blogging, for instance, or having conversations with people. I really do love it; it makes me so happy. However, it doesn’t hold the same weight for me as it did before: I don’t feel that same spark. Before you get scared that I’m going to stop blogging, it’s not just with this: it’s with absolutely everything. Instead of feeling revitalised, I feel dulled, wrong and rusted. The main frustration for me here is that even though I know I feel like this, I don’t know why. That means that even if theoretically, I know what to do, I have no idea how to put that into practice.

People say, “Give it time,” or “Do something every day that interests you” – but how? How do I do that when I’m scared of things not having the same feeling for me, of my heart not leaping in excitement at the thought of writing a story? I just wish I knew how to sort through my mind enough to implement solutions that worked for me when I was younger.

Hey, maybe that’s the way to do it! I know how I felt towards things when I really felt like I had emotions. Over a year ago is the clear defining line, when I was in year 11. After that, things start to blur so perhaps I’ll use the pre-exam rush of love I had for everything as a beginning point.

Later today, I’ll make a list of why I think that blogging is amazing and all the feelings I experienced. Most likely, it will just be comprised of words and little phrases but I don’t want coherency. My thoughts are in no fit state to have any semblance of structure. I may talk about it to friends too, if they’ll listen, because writing and speaking all of it may force the feelings to become more apparent.

Tomorrow, I’m going to see the GP and talk to them about my mental health because I don’t think I can cope with anything any more. This lack of feeling towards things I previously adored and still adore in my mind worries me; I need to bring it up with her. I feel so scared though. What if something goes wrong? What if I have no idea how to talk about my feelings and it ends up in a disjointed mess, like this post?

You’re the people who mean the most to me at the moment; that’s why I’m being so harshly honest with you. I love blogging but for some reason, it feels like a cloud’s descended over my mind which means that I don’t have the capacity to feel much. I now don’t even feel confident enough in my own feelings to even think about making new friends. The possibility of falling in love, once such a magical prospect to me, is so far beyond my reach right now so I don’t want to think about it.

I haven’t written like this – no structure, no rhythm or underlying, coherent message – since I shut my emotions down. That’s so sad but the consequences of trying, temporarily, not to feel and to add structure to your life is that it backlashes, turning temporary into far longer than you anticipate. Emotions are odd in that they’re so subjective, which panics me, but having an outlet – as this blog was originally intended – makes me have the barest of smiles on my face.

It’s not that I don’t have the emotions. I know that I’m capable of feeling them – I was and I will be; I’m not a robot. It’s just that currently, I don’t know how to feel them.

I’ll connect to myself again. Soon, I’ll be able to label some feelings as love, some as euphoria, some as a passion for writing and some as the happiness I get from having a beautiful conversation. Bare with me and I promise that I’ll be okay in this respect. People on here have helped me more than I even realise so that I can identify the problem and put steps in place to try, as hard as I can, to work through it.

Do you ever feel weirdly separate from your emotions?

From Elm πŸ™‚

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™‚

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™‚

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™‚

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™‚

History, Friends and Laughter: My Experiences in Berlin

Hi!

I got back from Berlin late on Monday night, having gone there for a history trip with my school. Ever since then, I’ve been exhausted but also so happy. On that trip I learned so much, made new friends and had the best time I’ve had in a very long time.

Prepare for a long post. I’m going to be recounting, as best I can, what happened in the four days I was in Germany. I’m still tired but I’ll do my best! My memory may be a bit sketchy because we did so much!

Friday

I was so excited on Thursday but I’d convinced myself I should go to bed at7 to get some good rest. Because I’m a moron, I got 5 hours of sleep that night: I went to bed at a stupid time and got up at 3 but the night before, I’d cleared up a situation that had been bothering me for a long time. We arrived at Gatwick at 4:30 and, upon me realising I’d forgotten to bring my Euros (wow), my dad and I did a mad dash to the shitty money exchange rate point. I was so tired even then; then I met up with my class and we went through security. It was so boring, including the fligh there despite my panic at take-off. Luckily I sat next to a girl who used to be in my old French class who has now become a great friend of mine. I’ll get onto the interesting part now.

There were 16 of us going on the trip, all of whom I liked or at least could talk to if I needed. Our two history teachers went, +a tour guide called Rob who was fantastic but walked at a ridiculously fast pace. When we were on the plane, I got an idea of what it would be like: people took the piss out of each other and laughed; that was an ongoing theme throughout the trip. One of my best friends, who I call Red, went too, as well as the other Head Girl.

We weren’t afforded rest when we landed. Oh no; it was straight into the activities: we were carrying heavy bags and had to travel to the hostel on public transport, jumping on trains until I felt faint. Perhaps that was also because I had intense stomach cramps and hadn’t eaten in ages (at one point my vision completely went, which was honestly a terrifying experience and I don’t want to think about it). After dropping our bags – it was about midday at this point – we went on a ‘walking tour’ of the city. That involved a Karl Marx statue, my friend taking out a communist manifesto which he had decided to bring, learning about the Burning of the Books in 1933 and being so tired I could barely think. We went to a museum and because I’m visually impaired, I was allowed to touch some artifacts using special gloves – for instance, a centuries-old cannon. I nearly screamed with excitement; I would have if I was able to muster up the energy to speak loudly. Usually, I feel stupid because people know more than me about historical context but I got to ask our museum guide a lot of questions.

In the evening, we got back to the hostel, had dinner and I was all ready for sleep. I shared a room with the four other girls and straight off, I made friends with the other Head Girl as we fangirled over books, discussed the day and the gruelling pace Rob had made us go at and laughed explosively. The other three were amazing because they helped me without me even asking; they seemed to understand I wanted enough freedom to feel human but that I did need help with some things and they never made me feel stupid for it. Even though we were tired, as soon as we got into bed we were utterly alert. I listened to them gossiping, managed to actually join in on the conversation and didn’t make a fool of myself.

Honestly, the first day was easy compared to the rest because it was an introduction. It made me feel at home in a foreign country and left me feeling wholly happy because I wasn’t pretending.

Saturday

We woke at 7 that day, my legs aching from the previous afternoon. However, I knew that this day would be challenging emotionally as we were visiting Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, an hour’s ride on public transport from Berlin. We arrived late downstairs but I think we all knew that this was nothing compared to the enormity of what we’d feel later.

Going to the concentration camp was so incredibly moving. It was a work camp and we walked the route of the prisoners, looking at the barracks which – by the end – had 400 or so people in a relatively small room. The atmosphere was quiet, horrified, above all when we saw the outline of what was a gas chamber, the only one in the camp, and the gallows. This particular camp wasn’t like Auschwitz: not as many executions took place. However, it was a huge concept to take in. Until you’re there, it’s difficult to realise just how awful the Holocaust was. I think that everyone should learn about it and just understand the sheer scale of the horror.

In a similar emotional idea, in the afternoon – instead of going to the Olympic Stadium as was planned, we visited two Holocaust memorials. The first was comprised of stone blocks, varying in height – all in rows, it felt like they represented the different victims and stories. I felt disconnected and terribly sad as I walked through, trailing my hand along the rough stonework. However, the one that made me feel incredibly emotional was the memorial to the Roma and Sinti. Flowers were laid on a platform in the middle of a little pond, uneven stones on the ground engraved with names of concentration camps. Birds chirped overhead and it was a memorial to something awful surrounded by nature; it made everything feel real and terrifying. As well as that, we visited the Topography of terror, which documented the horrors of the Nazi regime in pictures. The history teacher which will teach us about that walked around with me, talking to me about the photos.

At night, we had dinner outside a lovely restaurant and in contrast to the heavy emotions we’d felt earlier, we lightened the mood by the best medicine: laughter. I was literally crying at one point because of various innuendos that were made; a bird landed on my tray; I managed to get food on me and it was genuinely so nice because I was on a table with the people who were quickly becoming friends of mine if they weren’t already. I felt so close with everything. After that, we went to the Reichstag – the government building, rebuilt after it was burned down in the 1930s. I spent time walking with my old French friend, as I like to call her; we got so fed up with the audio guide at one point that we just walked around the dome, taking in the atmosphere of the whole place with the historical context owe had.

Before we went to bed, we had an impromptu disco – the teachers had gone to bed, exhausted probably from the events of the morning when a drunk person had spoken at length to one of the history teachers and Rob had set the pace even higher. They put music on in the basement for about 5 minutes, after I came back in awkwardly after having been left by one of my friends by accident. It was certainly more tiring than Friday, for sure, made better by the yells of music of my friends.

Sunday

Sunday was really, really hot but that was probably because we were walking around all day. I wore light trousers and so was sweltering; we went to an art gallery outside Berlin in the morning. Red described everything to me, taking a picture of me outside in the garden – I think I smiled; I just found it all so beautiful. The house in which the Final Solution was planned was heartbreaking though; we learned about the stories of individual people, in addition to the fates of those in attendance at the meeting, who weren’t prosecuted for their part and after the war, often remained civil servants.

In the afternoon, we visited Potsdam; I went on a tram for the first time. Even though it was hot, we took a walk in the park and saw Kaiser Wilhelm II’s childhood home, as well as Frederick the Great’s castle – one of the people in my class is obsessed with him, something which I find hilarious. Walking up so many steps took a toll, yet the fountains, shade and resting places added a lovely touch to something so historically significant.

By that time, I was more tired than I cared to admit. We went bowling after having had dinner, the meal filled with the laughter that I felt was now customary. I came joint last (5th place according to him) with Red; I acted very strange because I was so exhausted and I felt emotional because it was our last night. For example, I screamed when I knocked down all but one pin, yelling “YAAAAS!” on various occasions. The teacher who teaches us the English Revolution section helped me to refine my “technique”. I adored that evening, even if we got back to the hostel at 10 and didn’t sleep until 12, a security staff member knocking at our door to tell us to shut up.

Monday

The last day was focused on the Cold War. When I woke up, I was surprised to note that I didn’t feel as tired as I thought I would be. I had packed on Sunday; we left the hostel at 9, the banter of the people in my class increasing as the day wore on. In the morning, we visited the Stasi Prison, one of the most moving things I’ve ever done with the only amusing thing being that Red got stuck in a rose bush. There were two prisons; one was reserved for physical torture and one psychological. It was horrifying. When you’re told about people who now work at the prison to do tours who have gone through Hell, imprisoned for crimes against the state they didn’t even commit, it fills you with this crawling sense of terror and sadness. I admire the people who can now go back to that prison to educate us, the younger generation, on what conditions were truly like. No sugarcoating. No hiding how it was.

We went to Checkpoint Charlie near to lunchtime, the seriousness in the morning then being balanced by shopping. The girls and I, as well as one of the boys, went to Zara and when we ran out of time, we went to get food. I managed to eat it in 10 minutes whilst running back to the meeting point, which made me feel more sick than ever. I laughed, shouted and gasped for air when the heat was too oppressive.

Going home was a sad affair. I didn’t want to, most of all because I would miss how free I felt and also because I didn’t want to return to the dreariness of school. We collected our bags, me complaining about how exhausted I was – luckily not wracked with cramps. In the airport, I discovered that someone had hand-written the word “blind” on my passport but had missed out the I, the pun pointed out to me. As I laughed so hard that I had tears in my eyes, people must have thought I was crying.

Berlin was more beautiful than I could express. The thing that meant the most to me was the help and support I got from, well, everyone. When I asked the girls to help me with something, they always did. I was treated like a human, like I belonged – it was a shock to come back to school and to not feel so complete: I even missed walking fast and the joking of the people around me. Everyone in Germany talked to me with no filter. Even the teachers relaxed, telling me at the end that it was amazing to have worked and talked with me. I was near tears.

I’m never going to forget it. Even if the specifics fade, I’ll always remember the kindness, laughter and the feeling of togetherness. When some of the boys were being their usual selves, I grinned and laughed and smiled. When I wanted to contribute something to a conversation, I could.

Sometimes, taking a chance and putting yourself out there can help so much with your confidence. It has for me and despite the fact that I was tired and irritable at some points, I wouldn’t have changed anything about those four days. They were worth every penny.

Have you ever been to Germany, or to a historical location that changed how you feel about things?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Why Telling the Truth is Good

When you’re in a difficult situation, where your brain convinces you to lie to someone because you think it’ll hurt less (it doesn’t) and because you’re scared of them thinking worse of you, telling the truth after that can be extremely tricky. It can hurt both yourself and others but there are a lot of positives to doing it and getting over your fear. On Wednesday, I told two of my best friends the entire truth about a situation that I had experienced three months ago or so and though I sobbed like a child in the nearly deserted common room, it was worth it and it needed to be done.

Upon explaining everything, both to them and another friend before, I came to rather, lise that I’ve been lying to the point where it’s damaged relationships. Telling the truth may be hard but it’s necessary for you to feel happy. If you’re struggling over telling someone something, I want to explain some of the positives to you.

It strengthens relationships
Admitting you lied to someone is really nervewracking and they may be annoyed at you for it. I’ve certainly experienced that but what I found, above all on Wednesday, was that people much prefer it when you tell them the truth. If you’re honest and tell them how much you fucked up, it shows them that you trust them. Trust may be broken at first because they may believe that you didn’t trust them enough to tell them the truth in the first place but when you admit that to them, it can add a level of understanding to your friendships. I won’t lie: it could go the other way but the gamble of honesty is worth it.

Things aren’t so complex
Not only does lying upset other people but it can leave your head in a mess as you try and remember who knows what; it’s a horrible state to be in because you can end up manipulating people. It is only natural, therefore, that you should remove those feelings as soon as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to tell as many people the truth as you can who you’ve lied to; it clears it up, lets people in on how you’re feeling and makes your head less cluttered. People have asked me why I’ve been feeling so awful but I haven’t been able to explain it properly until I told Wren and Red everything that went on. The simple act of explaining it caused my mind to relax a little from the painful twisting state it had been in; the first person I truly told[q~@]- who I’d lied to – started that relieving; my other friends carried it on.

You feel happier and less awful
Guilt is a central part to lying and it’s one of the worst consequences of doing something horrible. By owning up to it and telling someone, it doesn’t weigh as heavy: it’s still there, especially because of the disappointment that is (rightfully) displayed at how you lied, but at least some of it goes away. You also feel happier because for me, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to hide or pretend and if I hadn’t told the truth, I would have fallen apart. I was already doing that and it took me explaining shit for me to understand just how bad it was.

You can show people you’re able to move forward
If you’ve got your own thoughts for company, wherein only you know how you’ve been feeling or what you’ve been doing, it means you can’t move on. If you’re good at sorting out your own feelings then it’s okay but if you’re like me, the thoughts spin round and round in your head with no resolution. It hurts and does me no good. On the contrary, sharing things with other people helped me to face up to it and understand what I’d done; it really allows you to move on from the situation by forcing the results of it to become apparent to you.

You can understand who your true friends are
Lying is only an okay thing when it will have no consequences for anyone. When it does and you then tell someone the truth, it’s natural and understandable that they’ll be upset with you. In fact, I’d want people to be angry with me for misjudging their personality enough to lie to them. It absolutely wasn’t fair of me to do that. However, when I told Wren and Red, they explained that they still loved me, always have and always would and that this wouldn’t change that. I figured out that the people who are my real friends, who – whether sensible or not – would stick by me are the ones that can see the reasons why I lied and let me make up for it, as well as move forward. Some things are unforgivable and I don’t blame people for being upset with me because I would be but I know that if such trust is lost by lying, perhaps it would be best that the person distanced themselves from me.

You aren’t superhuman. You’re going to make mistakes, lie and upset people. It’s alright to do that. However, as terrifying as it is, telling the truth can make things a lot easier. Not in all cases but in a lot of them, honesty can be the best solution.

If you’re hurting right now and don’t understand why someone did what they did, think about it from their perspective. That can apply to those who lied and those who are angry because you lied. There are always more than two sides to a story.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Guest post – What does feminism mean to me?Β 

Hi everyone! 

I’m Lizzie from Lizzie’s Language and I’m really pleased to be writing a guest post on Elm’s blog, as she is such a talent writer. She is also writing a post on mine! I’m going to talk about feminism and what it means to me. 

I am constantly told that I’m over sensitive because I call people out over their racist jokes. Or I’m told that women have enough rights all ready so I should just shut up and go back to the kitchen. When I am alone on the streets or in a shop, even if there are a million people around, I am terrified when a man comes too close. Or rolled eyes are given when I try to explain why our bathrooms should be transgender friendly and that gay is not an insult.  

That is why I need feminism. 

I am constantly asked what feminism means to me and I would say that it means a voice. It gives me a voice to speak out to the world. My feminism however is not just for white women, it’s for everybody, no matter what race, sexuality or gender. The other day a boy asked me why I was defending trans right when I was a feminist and I told him that my feminism cares for everybody. And he said, ‘But feminists are only fighting for women’s rights’ and I think people confuse what feminism is because of its name.

All the time my friends tell me that they would be more on board with feminism if it was called something else. I’m sorry but isn’t the whole of the history of human beings called ‘ManKind’. And it’s called feminism not equalism because it focusing on raising females up to the same place as men and not tearing the men down to a lower level. Plus, who cares if it’s called feminism because it all started to try and give better opportunities to women and then it has evolved to help everyone.

Feminism also means so much to me because I would say that it is the thing that I’m most passionate about and how much passion I put into it never fades. I love dance and trialthons but sometimes I’m really passionate about it and then a month later I still love it but it doesn’t quite mean the same thing to me. Whereas feminism is something that I always have fire for and I’m always ready to fight for. The problem that I see now is that it is everywhere. Racist, homophobic, sexist comments and even subconscious acts don’t go unnoticed to me. Sometimes I call people out but I seem to notice it all the time and I just store my anger away. Recently I’ve watched my old favourite tv shows, like ‘How I met you mother’ and realise while I watch it that there are just so many comments that make me wince. 

Feminism is something that makes me who I am. People think of me and probably think of the feminist who writes slam poetry and is educated on most topics. I hope that the people reading this are either call themselves feminists or support the movement because we need all the help that we can get. 

I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Elm for giving me this amazing opportunity to write on her blog! 

Much love, 

Lizzie xxx

I Am Not

Writing a post whilst upset and hurt is never a good idea but perhaps it can be as I need to let these emotions out. Excuse any confusing sentences or strong language.

I am not a slut if I do things that other people find “questionable”. My body is my own and if I feel comfortable doing something, I’ll do it: the consequences may be difficult to deal with but that’s okay. I don’t need people who don’t even know me questioning my decisions and thinking that I have no morals, just because I did something I wanted to do a while ago.

Conversely, I’m not a prude if I don’t want to talk about things. Sometimes I feel fine discussing everything, sometimes I don’t; with some people I’m okay with it and with others, I’m not. One day I may be perfectly fine talking about everything that happened and another I’ll feel unpleasant about it and just not want to. If someone asks me a question and I don’t want to answer, that’s alright because I still have boundaries.

I’m not oversensitive if I get upset because of a situation. I may portray that I’m not bothered by anything but that’s a complete fucking lie; I’m still human and still have feelings. I don’t know how I feel the majority of the time so if I stop talking, it’s usually because I just don’t want to talk; it’s nothing against the person, it’s just because I want to get out.

I am not disgusting for being a liar. I think that about myself every single day and so others thinking that of me just reaffirms it. There are many reasons why I might lie: I don’t know what other people know, I don’t know if I’m about to be made fun of, I don’t trust the person or I don’t want to talk or think about it. Lying is not a good thing but sometimes it’s necessary, except when you get caught out and want to scream because you’re panicking too much to breathe.

I am not pathetic for being paranoid that information is going to get out to everyone. It makes me feel ill because I’ve told different people different things and yes, that’s awful, but some things I really need to stay private because everyone will know what goes on in my life, including people who just could not understand and who have never spoken to me. I’m not in the slightest okay with that so I shut myself off to everything.

I’m not over-reacting if I feel dirty, disgusting or sick. Occasionally, I want to wash all of it away; I stood there shaking earlier because I didn’t want to face the reality of everything. I felt horrible, like things were crawling on my skin, like I was something to be despised and someone to be disgusted at. In my head, the thoughts were screaming and I couldn’t catch my breath but I just. Felt. Awful. Some people would say that’s blowing things out of proportion but when you feel that creeping dread, you know that you can’t shake it.

I am not a coward for wanting to run away from everything. Avoiding your problems won’t solve anything but I want to try sometimes. I’m tired of potentially getting judged and of feeling like that people believe I’m nothing but a slut. I’m tired of refusing to defend my actions and I’m exhausted at the possibility of conflict.

If people call me these things, I’ll tell them that I’ve already called myself them more times than they can count. People’s opinions and actions towards you should never influence your self-worth. No matter how many times people twist it, your thoughts are yours.

Thinking positively about yourself is so hard, I know, especially is you believe people are making assumptions about you. If you’ve been in a situation which makes you hate yourself, remember this: you can always learn and if people judge you on one thing you did, it’s them that can’t understand you. Only you truly know what you’re thinking and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

When things start to get too much, tell yourself this: I’m strong. I am not a terrible person.

I’m not what they say I am.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Small Confessions I Want to Make, Part 2

As with the first time I did this, I’m going to be writing little sentences to explain complicated thoughts in my head. Sometimes, expanding on a point makes me tired so these will have to do. Remember if you feel like any of these, I understand and you can always talk to me about it.

I get scared when I feel strong emotion and so have blocked it out for the last 3 months and now I don’t understand how to un-block it.

Having people be disappointed in me or not trust me any more really hurts but I brought it on myself and I feel like I deserve it.

I’ve lied to so many people that the thought of having to tell the truth – which I started to do yesterday – terrifies me because where do I start?

The longer I refused to admit things to people, the worse it got.

I’m going to repeat the same mistakes I did before because I said I wouldn’t in the summer and then did: I don’t know how to stop myself or if I will.

I have so little trust and faith in myself and others as a general rule that I feel lost a lot of the time.

I avoid my problems to such an extent that it makes them worse and causes me to lose friends.

I’ve missed a few blogging opportunities because I’ve been too stressed to reply to emails, when I know that blogging is the one thing I truly love.

Distracting myself is the only way I can get through days without screaming but I don’t know how to stop distracting myself now.

Last night, I stayed up until 2 AM because I was miserable and for the first time in a while, thought concrete thoughts without shying away from them.

Yesterday evening, I got so angry with myself that I wanted to punch through my window and it terrified me.

When I’m lonely, I do stupid, irrational things and now I’m known for that; it makes me sad.

If I get paranoid that people will hate me or never speak to me again, I don’t tell them things that I should which is so damaging to everyone involved.

The feelings I discussed here have grown and I really don’t like it; it’ll end in tears for me.

I’ve really fucked up and the magnitude of that has been hitting me all day, leaving me shaking and disgusted with myself.

Over the next few months, I want to feel like I have some kind of purpose rather than feeling listless.

I’m worried that when I go abroad later this month, my classmates will think I’m weird and won’t speak to me.

I still feel lonely and as much as it’s okay, I hate it.

Good days are what I live for.

Apologising is a scary thing for me because I can’t get the words right and if I screw this up, I won’t only upset myself but it’ll impact at least two other people.

I’m scared but I need to do something; I need to fix all of this.

I need to fix this now otherwise it’ll never be sorted.

If I can make other people happy, if I can swallow my pride and just say sorry without any justification for my actions, everything will be alright.

From Elm πŸ™‚