Alive with Ideas

Hii!
I have no idea where time’s gone. This week has been a blur: it was Monday, I blinked and now it’s Thursday. I’m so sorry for not posting in what feels like ages; I have no excuse!

Yesterday, something pretty amazing happened. No, I didn’t suddenly solve all my problems; no, I wasn’t swept off my feet by some dashing person (though that would be funny). No: I got really, really excited about work.

I’ve been getting pretty behind on all my subjects which caused me a hell of a lot of stress, not to mention the stress from all the work I have to catch up on from me being sick on Monday. I have to do a bucketload of history, Psychology and too much English to think of but strangely, positively, the English is the least stressful. You’d think it wouldn’t be: I missed my appointment for my coursework (that’s not even called coursework any more) because I was ill. I hadn’t done the preparation I’d needed to do but yet again, life proved me wrong. Everything turned out better than okay.

For our English “Non-Examined Assessment”, we have to compare two texts of our choice on a topic of our choosing. I chose to go down the line of female empowerment in Moll Flanders and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (I’ve only read the second one). Typically, I haven’t done much research on the subject, just the books themselves.

On Thursday, after a series of emails between me and my English teacher, I agreed to go and see her at lunch. Instead of stressing, I didn’t let myself think about it much: I didn’t see friends that day though and spent the entire time “working” or trying to. When the time actually came, my head started buzzing with thoughts of what I’d say and how’d I’d say it. It was the first time – because I’d never been taught by her before this year properly – that she’d really get to see what I was like when I was passionate. She’d get to see a side of me that nobody, not even I, have seen in weeks.

I walked into the English classroom with something like lightness. Despite not really knowing what I was talking about, I wanted to talk about it. I knew that here, to her, I could express my opinion and be happy about that. It’s rare for me to ever do that; I often hide behind the opinions of others because I’m too afraid to show my own thoughts. Here, it was flipped on its head and although I feel quite disconnected from everything right now, then I felt wholly with it, connected and involved with the words I was speaking.

Essentially, we refined my idea into the way female empowerment may be controlled by their relationships with men in the two novels. I remember almost shouting “OH MY GOSH exactly!” when she said a particular point I agreed with to do with Lady Chatterley. I got painfully excited when I started talking about social context, like I never am in class. There, I’m quiet or harsh when I have a point but then? I was confident and I smiled. It was surprising for me because I’m not used to myself being enthusiastic.

After we’d stopped talking about my coursework, we spoke about other literature. I recommended a book to her, honestly squealed about Jane Eyre – would you call it fangirling? Did I fangirl with my English teacher?! By the time we were done talking, we’d been speaking for about half an hour (when it should have taken only 15 minutes) because we kept expanding on topics in a part stream of consciousness.

I forgot what it was like to feel like I knew what I was doing. I utterly neglected the fact of my mind, that it can whir and bring forth ideas like any other. She let me see, through her exclamations of “I love that idea!” that I’m not just a cardboard cutout of an English student.

Yesterday, I think I proved something to myself. I showed myself that I do have feelings, thoughts and worlds of possibility right at my fingertips. Unlike normally, I showed my real, unfiltered personality. Maybe it was only a small part of myself; maybe it was only for a short time; maybe it was only to one person. It doesn’t matter.

Don’t be afraid to show your passions to people. You aren’t stupid, sad or weird for getting excited about things that others might not get excited about. If your heart sings when you think about a certain thing – books, TV shows, things that make you happy – you can show that to people. Don’t hide behind what you think people will think of you because at the end of the day, these are your feelings and they are beautiful.

From Elm πŸ™‚

My Personal Statement Failings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And… That’s it. Oops.

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

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

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

From Elm πŸ™‚

A Day of Being Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Elm πŸ™‚

How My Exams Went, According To Me

In my school, we still do AS Levels despite most of them not counting for anything. If you don’t know, AS Levels are exams you do in your first year of A-Levels which used to count for 50% of your A-Level results – we take the rest of the exams next year and they are what (usually) count towards getting into university.

Mine started on 15 May and ended on 26 May; I had 8 in total after dropping French earlier this year. Unlike for my GCSEs, I’ll write down my reactions to them because after my exams before, I was tired and preoccupied with my emotions going haywire. Take everything I say with a pinch of salt because I’m notorious at underestimating myself and thinking I’ve failed at literally everything you could possibly fail at.

Before pretty much every exam, I looked at the hashtags on my Twitter (shameless self-promotion I’m sorry) and tweeted under some of them. That proved to be… Rather catastrophic at one point, as you’ll read later.

Psychology Paper 1

I honestly don’t think this one went too badly: it was my first one so I was shit scared but apart from a bullshit 8 marker, it wasn’t awful. For me, the main thing that made me laugh in these exams was the jokes afterwards and also the fact that they did a last year’s AQA biology-type thing and shoved a bunch of Research Methods questions in the topic of memory. It wasn’t quite B1 though because it was actually relevant. I do think that I rambled in my answers a bit but it can’t be helped; I don’t think I’ll do terribly on this one though so that’s a relief.

History Paper 1

Oh, no, nooooo! After this finished, I attempted to expunge it from my memory with limited success. Long story short, I hated it and you know what the worst part was?

Before the exam itself, I had tweeted under the hashtag with something vaguely funny or just despairing. Some people liked it – I don’t know who they were – and I was just calmly scrolling through my notifications when my brain came to a screeching halt. Somebody from my school had liked it. From my school and not just any person, no. Possibly the worst person to like it: the person I used to sit next to in history. Just have a look at this page. It took me a while to recover from my panic at the thought of him finding my blog and taking the piss out of me for years. That’ll teach me to post under topic I know not many people do.

Anyhow, I walked into the exam and thought “Oh shit, I haven’t done enough revision,” an observation which proved to be true. The extract question was an utter bastard although everyone found that difficult; the two topics I didn’t want to come up came up on the essay question. I have extra time because I’m almost completely blind and because of that, I rambled a fair bit and started panicking. That’s never a good sign when you’re attempting to write coherently. By the end of it, I was shaking and walked out of the room feeling unconfident.

Critical Thinking Paper 1

Before you ask, I had no choice but to do this subject. Originally, I was going to do Extended Project Qualification ( EPQ), a 5000 dissertation-style project and those who wanted to do that had to also do Critical Thinking. I did the barest amount of revision for it because in this type of exam, you can’t really revise; it’s skill-based.

This was the first exam I genuinely laughed in. The people included a Fitbit employee, some kind of Road Safety Forum user and I can no longer think of Wearable technologies like Smartwatches the same way again without getting angry. This exam was all about components of an argument and credibility with an essay question at the end and unlike with any other of my exams, I got so tired of it all that I dread to think of what the examiner will think of me when they read my sarcastic responses.

I’ve either mildly passed this or failed horribly. I’m not really inclined to care; universities don’t take this subject into account normally but I still did try what I assume is my best. The skills I got are still important, even if unis don’st care, kind of showing that exams shouldn’t just be about getting into university.

English Paper 1

I could have married this paper; it was the brief respite from panic I needed. All year, I’d been preparing for this and I think – maybe, possibly, potentially – it payed off? We studied Othello and 15 poems and both the questions were glorious things. On later inspection, it turns out that I did the opposite interpretation to the Othello question that literally everyone did. I panicked about that and barely told anyone, pretending I’d done what everyone else had. I convinced myself I’d failed but after deliberation, there’s nothing I can do. Yes, I might not have done as well in it but when you think that, my best advice to it would be move onto the next one. You can’t change things and I know it’s hard but I assure you, you will have done well for you no matter what grade you get.

I loved the poetry question, too. It was on my favourite poem and I may or may not have squealed when it came up – luckily I’m in a room with one invigilator and so they didn’t care, otherwise I would have got weird looks that I wouldn’t be able to see anyway. I wrote confidently although I do think I lost my way a bit because I got confused. That’s nothing out of the ordinary though and at least I knew I passed.

Psychology Paper 2

Oh, Psychology, will you marry me? Please? I don’t want to be alone… Okay fine then, you won’t? Typical.

As you can tell, this paper was good. Probably. I don’t want to jinx it; I’m always scared that if I sing praises for myself, I may be horribly disappointed. On the other hand, I won’t sell myself short: this paper went well. The Research Methods questions – which had no elements of Memory in them – were so straightforward I could have cried and the only tricky part of it was the Application Questions, which never fill me with confidence at the best of times. Also, the exam hilarity on Twitter was just as great as last time. I live for it – okay no; that’s sad.

History Paper 2

My history teacher is a beautiful human being – both of them are. Before the first exam, the teacher who taught the unit for the second exam came and chatted to me. I emailed both teachers after the exams had finished to let them know how they went, not exposing my lack of confidence for fear that they’d feel like they hadn’t covered the material enough (they had; I’m just a fool).

Despite the relative pain of my first exam, the second wasn’t as bad: it was like its antithesis. The topics that I adored came up; I could answer the Source question quite simply although I spent ages on it. I think that my higher understanding and better preparation for this made it more bearable because I’m famous for my screaming rants of “I’m NOT PREPARED HELP ME!” As much as it went quite well, I’m still internally sobbing for lack of direction in the essay but I’m going to pretend that it didn’t exist and move on with my life. That’s always how I seem to deal with my problems… Oops.

English Paper 2

“Why?” I screamed, eyes wild with fury. “After the success of the first paper, I thought-” My voice broke as I took a steadying breath. “I thought that maybe it would go as well! No! O, the pity of it!”

This really didn’t go as well as I wanted it to and I think it was the main disappointment of my exams. That sounded awful but we’d had less time to prepare: it was a coparitive essay between Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby, in addition to a piece of unseen prose. My English teacher for these units is the best thing ever; she really lit up my enthusiasm for the novels and context of them. Even so, I felt vastly underprepared, much more so than my history.

Parts of it went well, such as the essay on comparisons which I had basically planned a few days ago. I laughed in this exam, too, because I couldn’t get over my good fortune. The unseen prose itself contained such beautiful writing – it was from Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence. The issue wasn’t the subject matter or the words and structure. It was my organisation of ideas: I screwed up. I rambled. I ranted. I was the model of what one may term “not coming up with a relevant point and spouting crap”. Am I being overdramatic? Hahaha, no way; where would you get that impression from?

Critical Thinking, Paper 2

This was the most ridiculous and hilarious paper I think I’d ever come across, mainly because I actually found it alright. The arguments themselves were brilliant in their illogical nature: one of them proposed a ban on speeding points you get on your license because crimes were “adding up” with no punishment. The large argument in the Resource Booklet said at one point that decisions should be left up to the experts because in a democracy, people expected the government to make decisions for them. Again, I laughed. Not because it was funny but because I knew I’d have to analyse it.

When we wrote our own arguments, on the subject of “there will always be crime”, I went on a ranting commentary about today’s society and how as long as there are people, there will always be crime… I don’t know. I was sensing my freedom and wanted to put my own, erm, unique spin on things. Like the first paper, I’ve passed or miserably failed; I’ll be annoyed if it was the latter because I really tried in that paper. I hope the examiner, at least, gets a laugh out of my exasperated analysis an analogy.

All in all, exams weren’t that bad. I definitely didn’t try as hard as I could and should have but there’s nothing I can do about that now. I need to remember that pretty much all year, I’ve been feeling miserable and though that’s not an excuse, it contributed to my lack of motivation to revise or do anything much”

If you have exams to go or have done them, don’t give up on yourself. Keep going and remember not to stress too much after the exam. You’ve done it and you should be proud of yourself for completing it.

Don’t scream at yourself if you think you’ve failed”. Failures are never failures as long as you can improve and make something out of them.

From Elm πŸ™‚

My Brain Can’t Handle the Future

When I actually post this, I’ll be in the middle of wandering round stalls that different universities are at – over 150 of them – with one of my teaching assistants, not socialising with other people because of it, panicking at the sheer amount of unis and, as usual, having a minature crisis about what the hell I’m going to do. Really, I should have at least an idea by now…

For context, I’m in year 12, studying my AS levels – they’re History, English Literature and Psychology so after having dropped French around two weeks ago, I’m doing 3 which is much better for my mental health. I’m also blind, which heaps a bunch of stress onto me: not only tomorrow – today technically but I’m writing this the night before – will I have to think about universities, but I’ll also have to think about whether they can meet my needs. Wooo, sometimes being disabled is a tad inconvenient at times.

There are some things which I know. After I finish Year 13, I want to take a year out to increase my independence at what I nickname “blind college”; I’m already making preparations to start that process, having planned over a month ago to go and visit there in the Easter holidays. In my mind, it’s set in stone as I have to consider how I’d actually survive studying, plus looking after my health: even if I feel worried about being ‘left behind’, there are more important things for me.

The next few years are kind of blurry. I know I want to do a three year ‘undergraduate course – if I get into uni – and that I want to be on a campus rather than having Lectures and things like that spread across a huge area like a city. Where and what course is still a mystery to me; I was searching things up earlier today and stressing so much because there were too many options, to which I got a headache and couldn’t do much.

English is my passion, and always has been; I love both reading and writing: creating ideas but also seeing how others create theirs. That’s the thing: I don’t think I could do either exclusively because I’m indecisive and need a variety. However, anything not related to English might bore me: I could do History but that might make me despise it; if I do journalism or media, I’d most likely realise that wasn’t the career path I wanted. At my heart, I don’t think journalism is for me, although I’d love to work in publishing. I’m keeping my options open.

So, English it is, but what? English Literature would be great but I don’t know if I love it enough to do it on its own. I want to combine the two things I love – reading and writing – to do a degree that I want to do; I think that’s one of the most important things. I’m either going with English Lit and Lang, or English Lit and Creative Writing. I have no idea if I should do a combined course but what I do know is that only doing one thing can leave me feeling stifled.

With the former, I know that it would get me good employment and it’s got high qualifications, ordinarily, that you’d need to meet to start the course – I think I can do that. I’m just worried I’d bail halfway through or realise that language was dull, despite me being fascinated with how language has transformed, both spoken and in the written text. With the latter, I adore creative writing but I’m not sure if I’m good enough; I haven’t been writing much recently except on here and the occasional poems but that’s certainly not dedication to it. As well as that, I don’t know if it’s as prestigious as Lit and Lang; I know that I’d love it but I have to balance with getting a new job because employment figures for disabled people worry me and I want to have a good job – is that shallow? I don’t know.

Not only that, but there’s the issue of where to go. If I manage to select the course I want to do, there’s also balancing which unis are good for it – the qualification is a BA Honours for most courses and I’m just terrified that I’d pick the wrong uni. I think that I’m overthinking as usual but it’s so important that I get good results and balance that with my mental health and happiness because if I’m miserable, what will I achieve? I kind of feel overwhelmed.

I know that there are a thousand people I can talk to, both blind and sighted, who can help me with every aspect of it. Going to open days is a big priority, along with getting advice from people at school, people at the universities itself and friends. How will I know which advice to take? How will I know what’s right, what’s good for me and how do I connect with my emotions and worries enough to do that?

Tomorrow, I’m going to be okay but I may be even more tense than usual. I just want to sort out my life but I also have to deal with A-Levels, the history coursework I’ve barely started and unpleasant feelings of stupid guilt to keep my health in check.

If you’re thinking along the same lines as me then do let me know; if you also know of any good unis for English especially, as well as open days, then drop me a message. We can go through this together because this is a huge step for the majority of people around my age.

From Elm πŸ™‚

A Really Speedy Quick Update

Hey hey, I’m running on a rare burst of adrenaline because I had an exam today.

Yeah, only I could get an adrenaline rush from having a mock – did I forget to mention I have three mocks this week? Whoops…

Said mocks are why I haven’t been posting, replying to comments or reading blogs for a few days. I’ve been revising – erm I mean trying to revise, crying and going through a few bouts of self-hatred – and today was my first exam. All yesterday I was freaking out, for no good reason, though I didn’t do enough revision in the same way I haven’t done enough for my mock tomorrow. Well done, Elm.

Today was English; tomorrow’s History and Thursday is Psychology. English ITSELF went well: we had a question on poetry, and one on unseen prose; the former went much better than the latter. It was mainly because in the middle of writing a great first paragraph, my fucking computer froze; I had to write that paragraph three times and by the end of it, I got sick of it and started to write crap. That was even more noticeable in my prose analysis, what did I actually write? Who bloody knows – I spent 2 and a half hours writing, because of extra time and the fact that my computer took half an hour to gets its shit together.

I’m dreading the History tomorrow; the English Revolution and Germany from 1871-1914 has never caused me such anguish. From Bismarck to Bethmann-Holwegg (how do you spell that UGH) to screaming about Caprivi’s New Course, I’m very done with the past.

Have you guys had mocks yet? I’m so bad at revising, because no one will revise with me and people from other schools are doing different courses.

Oh, and I had a minature breakdown today because of French which makes me want to lock myself in a very small room and never come out, but I’ll talk about it once mocks are done. God, I’m tired and so behind with everything.

From Elm πŸ™‚

I Should have Known This Would Happen

Right. I’ve had it up to here with my bullshit.

When I started to feel bad at the beginning of the week, I should have suspected that things would go downhill, and so should have prepared for the fallout of my thoughts. In the time when I was more okay, I should have done more work, in preparation for the time when I just couldn’t. That time has come, I haven’t done enough, and I’ve realised that this could easily have been prevented. Or… Could it?

Today, I had horrendous stomach pains, and was so physically and mentally exhausted that when I woke up, I felt hopeless and awful and like I couldn’t face the day. So, I took the day off school, exaggerating my stomach ache and downplaying my mental exhaustion because I was just too tired to explain it. I felt – and feel – ashamed, and angry at myself, as if I’d given up – which of course I haven’t, but it felt like at the first sign of weakness, I’d just… Stopped.

When I woke up again after four hours of sleep, in the weird darkness of my room that felt wrong because it was so late, I felt… Okay. Still not good, but more okay, not as if I was about to break into pieces like I had this morning.

I took time for myself, relaxing as best as I could, trying desperately not to panic or hate myself to a large degree. After taking care of my skin a little, eating and listening to music, I did some work. Not enough, but it was a little victory.

I got lost in the reading of Jane Eyre, where words just flowed over me. They were beautiful, and when I read, I go into a quiet space where only the descriptions and I exist. Though I didn’t read much more of Othello, I looked over my notes on it, remembering about all the characters. I don’t even want to think about the disaster that is my notes for The Great Gatsby, which I wrote last term in my phase which I like to call “Elm Wreckage 2.0.”

That, unfortunately, was it. I emailed my history teacher to sort out the work, cried a bit when I thought about my French essay, and shed some further tears on the fact that I felt I was useless. It feels like a never-ending spiral, and if I tried hard enough, I could just get out of it. I could do more work, could get the motivation – because I’m doing less than is even required by the class teacher.

It sickens me that it’s taken me this long to even start to smash myself back together. This has nothing to do with the state of my love life, or anything to that effect: this is just me, all me, and my mental health which is becoming unchecked and wild. However, I think I’m blowing this up in my head to be worse than it is, as I tend to do; if I just TRIED, I could do this.

I don’t try enough. I become overwhelmed, get distracted, and then do nothing. It breaks me when I remember that I can’t help the girl I’m mentoring tomorrow, because I won’t be there as I have an annual review about my statement (disability thing) and she, someone who needs me and wants me to help her, is one of the people who holds it all together in her own little way. I need to do something, to get help or to figure out my thoughts before they run away with me.

It starts tomorrow. I don’t give a shit if I feel crap tomorrow: this has gone on long enough. Healing starts with me, and it’ll only start if I truly want to get entirely better. I’ve been languidly floating along until now, shoved along by a vague purpose, but that purpose snapped and broke and so I have aro create a new one.

Though it upsets me that I’ll have to do ! so much just to get my crap together and even more to succeed, I have to do it. Where will I be if I don’t? Today wasn’t me giving up; I realise that now.

Today was me giving myself a break, whilst simultaneously coming to the conclusion that I’m very lonely and sad and will remain so for a long time, the only thing changing being my motivation levels. It was almost me accepting that I’ve got to a state that’s separate to my crisis of mental health over the last three months – which wasn’t even that serious. Oh, it’s linked and caused by the low mood I was already in, and the lack of motivation goes back very far, but this time I know it’s me.

Because it’s me, I have to sort it out. I have to be brave enough to tell myself that enough is enough, I’m able to do this, and existing isn’t just enough any more. For my own sake, and for the sakes of people who I’m not sure even care about me any more. For those people, I’ll prove I can be closer to the person I was – filled with the true will to live.

Now, I just need to take my own advice, and put things into action. How, when I feel so panicky? The state of my notes is atrocious, I’m finding it hard to organise myself, and that’s all from before Christmas; I kicked myself into shape over the holiday, then regressed back to this. How am I supposed to clear up the myriad of crap from before then?

I’ll do it. I’ll stand the fuck up and try, try, try, and even if I fall again I’ll get up; even if people don’t understand what I’m doing, I’ll get up, because this is for me.

If you’re going through something similar, don’t forget that you can’t get better in a night. It takes time, and yes it’s hard, but I’ll be struggling right alongside you. There’ll be times when we’ll give up, and cry, and scream because we just don’t want to do it any more. I’m getting scared just thinking about those times, and I’m trying to stop one of those from approaching right now.

I knew this would happen, but after writing this, I know that I couldn’t have done anything. Being too emotionally sick to go to school was the spark that caused this: without that, I’m sure I would have got worse. Maybe I still will, but maybe I won’t.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Even if They’re Good, Some People Aren’t Confident

Today, I let onto my English class that I don’t feel at all confident in my work. At the time, I felt like sobbing but now? I realise that it’s taught me something.

English has always been my favourite subject. I know that I’m at least good at it, because of my GCSE results and the fact that I get alright marks in the stuff I’ve done so far. Because of that, both my class and I didn’t understand why I was so… Down about the work.

We had to write an essay on how marriage was presented in Chapter 2 of the Great Gatsby. I did it for homework, putting effort in but not making it concise or linked enough: I got a B.

For my first essay for that teacher, I KNOW that’s good. At A-Level, at the start, you aren’t expected to get good marks – I got a C in my last english essay because I didn’t round it off enough, and the only reason I got an A in my history essay was because I spent so long on it (longer than you have in the exam) and because the grade boundaries are low.

Still, I know it was good: I know, though, that I could have improved. Listening to the flawless (or it seemed so) paragraphs of some of my classmates, the points they produced effortlessly, made it seem cheap. Shit. We had to go round the class and read out a particular passage that we were proud of, and I was last to do it.

Now, that was a bit of anissue for me. I was all set to read my introduction, but as other people started reading, I began to compare myself. “GOD, you could have written that more concisely,” or “Toooo many quotations, read that instead – your points aren’t linked enough!” It was ridiculous, but I couldn’t help it.

Then, it got to me, and I felt myself freeze. All the rest of the class had had similar issues: they complained, saying that there work wasn’t good enough, and one girl (who had an amazing essay) @refused to read it herself. I understood. And then it got to me.

“Miss,” I said, as the class went silent. I KNEW what I was about to do, that I would take this to the extreme and show my emotions on my face. “Miss, it feels like it’s at GCSE level. It’s just so… Basic, not what you want at A-Level.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s fine!”

No, I thought. It might be fine for you, for the class, but it’s not fine for me. I wanted to do more, stretch myself, reach for those amazing points and truly achieve what I KNOW I’m capable of doing. I CAN improve, I WILL improve, but making me face up to what I haven’t done in front of everyone makes me feel terrible.

The comments I got from the rest of the people around me were actually not very helpful, which makes me sad. Then again, I would have been in their position too – assuring them that I KNOW their essay would be great. How can I be upset with them when I know that they WERE trying to help?

“It’s like what I’d write at GCSE – there’s no development to it. It’s just not good enough,” I said in a bitter tone, feeling like my embarrassment was choking me because I’m not used to airing my problems with so many people who don’t understand me.

A girl to my right muttered, “Yeah, like what at GCSE with your A star…” in a not quite scathing tone. She didn’t mean it nastily, but I felt my eyes watering, my face flaming.

The teacher: “… Yet you still got a B.”

“That’s not the point!” I wanted to scream. Yes, I’m happy with a B and I know that at the moment, that’s a really good mark to get. What made me the most sad was the fact that I felt as if my feelings were being undermined, JUST because I’d done well at GCSE. I did well today, but it still doesn’t stop me from feeling a bit inadequate, and no one should make you feel like you can’t talk about it.

“Aww, Elm, you look so disgusted!” said a girl across the classroom that really, didn’t know me. I murmurred “Well I am,” so that only my friend Swan who sat next to me could hear. All of it – people who didn’t believe me when I said I couldn’t stand my work, the teacher who couldn’t understand the fact that my self-confidence was shit, and the boy who ALSO didn’t get why a lot of people find it so hard to say good things about themselves – built up to a roar inside my mind.

That boy was the last straw. He was confident in what he wrote (and it was good); I’m glad he was because I Suppose that gave people more confidence to read theirs. What I didn’t like was how he didn’t seem to take in that other people DO NOT find it easy, and maybe they didn’t voice it so much, but me and the other girl did. I did, to a point where I’m most likely viewed as the girl who hates her work.

It IS difficult to tell people why you like what you wrote, to pick it apart and not criticise it, and I failed at that today. I failed at reining in my pure loathing for my work, because as much as I don’t think it’s an awful piece of writing, the fact that people wouldn’t take in that I thought I could have done better really hurt. It’s not their fault, because everyone gets unconfident when they have to read things out to the class, but I just wish I didn’t present that side to the class because it’s something I don’t want them seeing.

Something like feeling inadequate is a private thing. For me, it’s not how I want people seeing me – there’s more to me than that. Even I don’t understand why sometimes, I tell people that my work is awful when realistically, it’s the best I could have done. My old English teacher would have sat me down, explained to me what I did wrong, but then said: “Look. You WON’t be expected to get an A now, Elm. You have to work up to it, and you’ve already got a good foundation.” He knows how my mind works, how I can be so hard on myself.

I learned today that you should never try and dismiss someone’s feelings, just because YOU think they’ve done well. To them, they’ll be comparing themselves and beating themselves up: supporting them is good, but think a bit before you make a judgement of them. Sometimes, you being in the same situation can help because they need to know they’re not alone, but if it gets to the point where you can see disgust at themselves on their face, stop. I hope I’m not being patronising: I’ve done what people today did too, so I get it.

I love my English class; the people there are amazing. However, today made me think that maybe, it’s ME that has to get confidence in myself.

Just because someone’s ‘good’ at a subject, it doesn’t mean they’re proud if they read something out. It just means they’re human, with human flaws and insecurities. I’ll try and remember that, next time I hear in someone’s voice that they’re in the same situation as I was.

From Elm πŸ™‚

A “Poem” About Bitterness and Other Fun Emotions

It’s okay
When you look the other way
As I walk past, so that
You can’t see me.
We all want to be blind sometimes.

It’s alright
When you gaze in awe
At the fractures of our friendship, never
Knowing how much I hurt-
I can’t see your story,
Too.

I don’t mind
When you’re cold as winter frost,
Then warm as the sun’s rays-
My heart will heal in a broken cage
As I do the same.

Don’t worry
When you hate me, fire burning
In your soul,
Yet you wear the mask of love
As if it could fit you.

But I don’t think
Of the hours wasted, tears
Falling in the darkness, hands holding
The sky: I never
Fall twice, into the sea of you.

I still exist
Despite your words, heart beating
For myself, shattering as I
Let your strings maneuver me.
No more.

You can’t hold on
To my trust, when you so trampled it
Your truth, when you saw fit
To crush and break and tear
My happiness.
Did you know?

Let go of it,
Spinning, running, lost,
When I say I hate you,
When I say goodbye,
Give me freedom to say:
It will be okay.

I hope you liked that. This really isn’t about one specific person, but rather a way to release the pent up bitterness and sadness I sometimes feel.

If you feel like I do, constantly looking at the actions of others, I have one piece of advice: yes, they’ll do the things they do, but it’s up to you to tell yourself that though you care, it’s okay that they do them. It’s okay because THEY are the ones digging themselves into a hole of anger, not you. Be strong enough to remember that you CAN be the better person, rather than giving into the shit that people throw at you.

It’s so hard. Not to feel angry at how people hurt you, not to want to scream and cry about it and tell them that they’re disgusting. What I’m trying to do is admit my own faults, that I AM sad, but that in the end – it’s fine to feel that way.

It’s good to exist and feel and love and cry. God knows I do it. Think about what people have done to you, all the misery you feel because of something, and then release that somehow. You can do it in any way you want, just as long as you don’t punch/kick the person.

I’ve been given a lot of advice recently that I haven’t listened to as much as I should. I realised that’s because I’m very scared of shutting people out, letting the bitterness and irritation control me. I find it very difficult to forgive people, but still find myself UNABLE to let go – do you know the feeling?

You’ll always feel bitter and upset because of SOMETHING – I still do, and that’s part of being human. However, you don’t have to let that rule your life. You’re bigger than it and you need to go out and LIVE so that you can come back and say: “I may wonder why they do these things, but I’m the one enjoying myself.”

From Elm πŸ™‚

She’s Writing A… HAPPY POST?! What’s That?

I think that English lessons are what keep me together. I’m serious.

This blog has taken a very depressing turn recently, and I’m sorry for that. But as I promised in my last post, this one will be relatively happy. YAAAAY!

My English teacher is fab. Literally, he is the best thing ever. He read An Inspector Calls – the play – today, with such expression and hilarious commentary throughout that I cried with laughter.

One of the highlights of the lesson was a boy in our class, who had the part of Mr. Birling when we were all reading. Mr. Birling is often depicted as having a Northern accent. This boy was Scottish.

And his Northern accent was so shit and so funny that I was sobbing by the end of it, and the majority of the class couldn’t function because we were all in hysterics.

But I think the best part of that GLORIOUS lesson was, when, well…

The door was open. Sir was in the middle of reading some lines from the play when, from down the corridor, we heard clapping coming from one of the classrooms.

And because our class is amazing, we joined in. You could just hear it echoing off the walls, and the funny thing was – Sir didn’t even protest. He found it funny.

A few minutes later, we heard the clapping again. And AGAIN, we joined in.

“Shall we cheer?” asked Sir. Like the enthusiastic specimens we are, we started whooping and yelling. We paused.

A few seconds later, we heard identical cheering coming from down the corridor. The whole class was laughing so much that we barely got any work done.

As soon as we got out of the classroom, Fern came up to Wren and I. “Was that you clapping?” she asked.

“Yep.”

“Oh, we were too!”

“That was you?”

Pine came up. “Did you hear the clapping?”

“Yeah – that was us!”

“Oh my gosh! We were clapping too!”

Turns out at LEAST three classes were involved.

It was the best. Feeling. Ever. Honestly, I felt so, so happy afterwards.

It was like when we’d all joined in on clapping in the playground. I had the same feeling of community as I had then.