Spoken Word and Smiles | My Amazing Day with GracieChick!

On the last day of term, which so happened to be my blogging anniversary I went into London with my friend Swan to meet the amazing Gracie. It was a trip we’d been planning for weeks, spawned from a comment I’d left on a post she wrote asking if I could come and watch her in her Spoken Word performance. It started as a little idea and then flourished into one of the best days of my life.

After school, Swan and I went back to my house and after eating a little, prepared to go out. We were travelling to South London, not entirely sure of the route we were taking but the laughter that ensued from that was some of the most full laughter I’ve had in a while. It was raining but the journey in wasn’t bad: I was internally screeching with excitement, texting Gracie with far too many exclamation marks (as I always do).

We met outside the station, me accidentally waving in the wrong direction and then making some comment about how much of a mess I was. It took a while to sink in that I was actually there and on the short walk to the theatre, I couldn’t stop smiling, although I had my hood up from the rain so that I didn’t look odd with a massive grin on my face. It had taken some organisation to do this and now that I was finally there, it felt surreal.

Over hot chocolate, Swan, Gracie and I talked about everything. Conversations ranged from what our lives were like to me endlessly fangirling over bloggers – I spent a while exclaiming over how lovely and supportive Bri is. A big subject was identity and how interesting it can be to how a blogging name vs. your actual name. We talked for an hour and a half before Gracie had to go for rehearsal, by which time the cafΓ© we were in had nearly emptied.

After Gracie went to practice, her family offered to take Swan and I out for dinner which was so thoughtful of them. We went to a Vegetarian and Vegan Indian restaurant, perfect for Swan (as she’s Vegetarian with plans to go Vegan in the summer). Gracie’s mum, dad, younger brother and sister are some of the nicest people I’ve met – conversations were easy, friendly and made me feel so included. They’re so supportive of Gracie’s blog which I thought was amazing, as it took a long time before I even told my mum about this blog. As became even more pronounced later, I neither felt especially Elm-like or my real name-like (which I nearly just wrote THAT WAS TERRIFYING): I didn’t feel like I needed an identity just then because I was just present there; it didn’t matter what name I went by.

When we’d finished eating, we walked back to the theatre to collect our tickets. We went into the room where the performances were held after meeting Gracie’s aunt and uncle; there were so many other people there despite it being a relatively small room. By that point, I couldn’t wait to hear Gracie: I love her poetry and so hearing it being performed was going to be a real honour. As I’d also not heard much urban music before, I was seriously looking forward to the other performances too.

The atmosphere was electric, made more so by the enclosed and familiar space. With the lights dimmed and us sitting right at the front, I felt anticipation building up inside me. This was all totally knew: the setting, the people there, the feeling of utter freedom. I had my fingertips on the table in front of me, which was what grounded me.

I love new experiences. That was why the music, a mixture of rap, reggae and acapella, affected me so much. I have a weirdly strong reaction to lyrics or particularly powerful beats and when I was surrounded by it, I could feel my breath in my lungs and my heart beating. Perhaps it’s because I’m a dreamer at heart but I felt like I was floating, then suddenly getting jolted back to earth. Gracie was the second performer and so I’d already had this reaction and, as I started to feel more and more happy and comfortable, the emotions of the whole thing were on a constant loop inside my head.

Gracie’s performance was, in a word, magical. Of the two poems she performed, “Beauty” spoke to me most: her voice rose and fell like she breathed and owned the words, coming forth straight from her heart. I absorbed those words, feeling hit with some kind of overwhelming emotion. The swell of pride I felt in the breaks between lines and in the thundering applause I gave after was immense. It felt amazing to be sitting there, witnessing the passion she has for words in real life, and being able to talk about it.

Leaving was the hardest part. I gave Gracie and her mum a massive hug and as Swan and I walked out of the theatre, I felt like I was about to cry. On the way home, when we ran for the train, I couldn’t stop a pervading sense of euphoria from making its way to my brain. It felt carefree, like I’d done something for myself which I truly, purely enjoyed.

This was the perfect end to my term, the perfect celebration of friendship and the best way to step out of my comfort zone whilst feeling the most myself I’ve felt in months. Having Swan beside me made it even better because I couldn’t think of a better person to go on this little adventure with. I’m so thankful that it all turned out so well in the end – from the minute the little flower of thought blossomed in my mind to it becoming a reality, I knew that this was something I wanted to do. For Gracie, for me but most of all, to have all the parts of my life that I love the most collide. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to meet up with Gracie and her lovely family again.

Thank you for such an amazing evening and for letting me smile so much. I miss you loads, you are awesome and I’m still buzzing!

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

Happy 3 Years to Me!

Three years ago, the day after I’d attempted to make an about page that has changed over the years, I sat down to write the first post of a blog that would – at times – be the only thing holding me together. I didn’t know where it’d go, coming straight from the ashes of a failed blog, but it’s brought me further than I could have imagined. With some hitches along the way and some breakdowns, three years later, I’m still here and still very much Elm.

I didn’t know what to do for this year’s celebration post. I couldn’t have done a giveaway because I had nothing to give away and it didn’t feel like something I was comfortable with; I’ve already done a Q&A somewhere down the line; I was struggling to think of anything that would be suitably “Elm”. Then I realised: that’s the problem. I was too busy thinking about what might be received well, rather than thinking, “What do I want to write and how do I want to thank my readers?”

The idea popped into my head a few minutes ago, actually. What if I talked about what makes me Elm? I’ve gone through many identities throughout my life but there’s not one that’s as unique as “Elm” because Elm is me, yet Elm also represents something that’s more important to me than anything else. It’s a person without barriers, where it doesn’t matter that I’m blind or that I don’t understand references sometimes. It’s my store of confidence alongside my expression of insecurity and I have to remember that. Instead of just listing them, I’m going to involve you. Without my readers, without any of you, this “Elm” would not have grown into being.

It’s not like “Elm” was suddenly worn as an identity by me, that it was a layer of person put on all at once. It came about from who I was before, building up in little sections, getting progressively more defined as I made mistakes. I can trace those formations of sections, when I really started to feel like I belonged here, from the start of Three Time’s the Charm and from then on, through the journey of my posts. A thread to go alongside is that of my readers.

The first thing I started to be was supportive. I’d never really had a drive to be like that before: of course I wanted to but it was in starting a blog that I could start to express that wish. I helped people, whether through my words in my posts or through talking to them. I wasn’t powerless: I had a voice that I could use for good and I remember, one day, crying over how much that support network meant to me. I allowed myself to be supported in return and I’ve built up a close friendship with so many people here that I don’t know what I’d do without them. This blog has caused me to become more attentive to people, able to understand what they’re going through and to be empathetic. I might have learned this somewhere else but being Elm connected me to people I wouldn’t have been connected with otherwise and that made the world very real.

Right from the start, I was open simply because people who read my blog wanted to hear it. This links with being supported but it’s a whole new category; I relied (and rely) on expressing my emotions to an audience that will listen. It’s been so comforting to me to be able to vent. Although my posts aren’t as personal any more in terms of real life situations (I hope to change that), I still have this open mindset whenever I post. It’s been rare that I’ve been truly scared to write anything down because people are so welcome here. It doesn’t feel like I’ll be judged for swearing, for shrieking with terror and fuck, I’m thankful for that.

There’s a certain creativity that I’ve developed and I think it’s from meeting so many other creative people. I’ve seen people who write in so many different ways, from poetry to diaries to posts about beauty and fashion. It’s expanded my blogging horizons, to use a painfully cliche phrase. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming and panic-inducing to try and be creative all the time but it’s made me remember that my personality as a whole is imaginative. I’ve learned to appreciate the little signs of a creative mind because you don’t have to have photos or intricate designs on your blog to be considered creative. Acceptance from people all around the world has made me accept my own personality traits.

My introduction to Twitter as well as continuous emailing throughout my time here, has let me talk to people that have become some of my best friends. Kel was and is an instrumental part of that because he’s been here for such a long time and has always stuck by me. People who have known me for 2 years or two months never fail to help me when I need it and to make me laugh until I sob; people from every conceivable place have been so supportive to everyone and are always there when I need to talk. The community is what gives me faith in humanity and they let me remember that I have qualities that are good and when I’m having one of my infamous crises, I don’t feel disgusting or hopelessly needy when talking to them.

I’ve not been here for that long, if you think about how long some people have been here, but I love blogging so much. It held me up when everything was so shit, last October and the October before that and for all those times when I hate myself and can’t think without becoming hysterical. It’s let me become more honest when I’ve lied and that’s carried over into ‘real life’. To me, it’s not just a casual hobby and I could never just throw it away. It means too much to me.

On my blogging anniversary today, I went to meet the amazing Gracie and I couldn’t have been more excited! I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, ever since the possibility of it went from a rosebud into a fully-fledged flower. I’ll let you know how it all went tomorrow because I can’t wait to tell you about it!!

This might seem sentimental, overly emotional or with too much of “OMG I LOVE YOU GUUUYYSS!” but it’s true. I can’t understate how much people have been here for me and how much my blog has impacted my life. It still confuses me how I’ve managed to amass over 3500 followers through my messy wailing posts and frequent breakdowns. Thank you, so much, for not giving up on me.

It’s been an amazing three years and I hope there will be far more posts like this, for many more years. I don’t plan to leave a part of myself behind anytime soon.

You are all wonderful and I kind of want to cry because it hits me occasionally, just how supportive some people can be. I’ll stop screaming now but honestly, I could go on and on about how much I love the people that read this pile of crap I call a blog.

Looks like I’m still Elm and I couldn’t be more glad of that.

From Elm πŸ™‚

It’s My Friend’s 18th Birthday

Hello you,
The first time I met you was when you were 16 and so I don’t really have the right to be all “OMG you’re so old I knew you when you were a foetus!” but I do have the right to make you cringe so much that you no longer want to be friends with me. Prepare for it and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Unfortunately, you’ve seen the cringiest side of me so I can’t really hide it any more.

Today is your 18th birthday and I’m feeling quite emotional. Over the last 2 years, you’ve taught me so much about myself: that I can make mistakes, that I’m shit at replying but that I have the potential to grow and change and that I’m not such a terrible person after all. You’d bet to differ and I’ll probably get a message from you, after this, saying “I didn’t make you realise that so fuck off” but you’d be wrong. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have even realised that I needed to change because you’re one of the only people who points out my shit and makes me think about it.

On the subject of that, there are a lot of things you do which – if anyone else did it – it’d be weird and would make me feel grim. You can regularly make jokes about my past “relationships” that border on the horrific. Actually no, they are disgusting and I despise you but they make me laugh until I cry. Back when everything was making me upset and I honestly thought I was the worst person alive, those jokes were some of the only things that helped.

You go to a shit ton of effort for me and part of me doesn’t get why but I appreciate it. There was one time when you went totally out of your way to come and see me, which is one of my happiest memories ever. I can shriek on and on about how great I think you are, making your ego rise to the height of the Shard but I think you know all of it already. If you don’t, if you doubt yourself, I’ll consistently scream compliments at you, the assets of your personality that you forget about and make you absolutely hate me.

To put it politely, you know far too many embarrassing things about me. From all my foetus pictures to you hearing me cringing at how much I repress my thoughts, you’ve pretty much seen it all. I could go from sending you crying voice messages to yelling at you about how much I’d like to visit Kansas one day and various other Oz-related things. Really, how do you put up with me? (She says, narcissistically wailing about herself)

The amount of memes I have with you is ridiculous. I don’t know who started calling them “memes” and usually, it’s not my type of thing to say but I can’t see normal memes because blind and so I like referring to them as that. It was probably you and I wouldn’t want to steal your joke. I’m not sure if you’ll be around to talk this evening but if you are, I plan to say all our memes in one conversation. I could do it, if I really tried, but nothing would come of it if I did. It’d just be the same old thing I usually do.

At the end of the day I’m a writer, so I’ve done a lot of writing for your birthday. There’s this and a few other things too. You didn’t want a materialistic present so this was the best I could do; I hope it doesn’t totally disappoint you. I may not know every single little thing about you, I may not be the best person all the time but I want to show you that I care.

One day, we’ll sit by a lit fire, looking out at a moon I can’t even see and singing Britney Spears at the tops of our lungs. It’s the ultimate thing friends should do and though I think nothing like that’s going to happen, I can dream. One of the first things you ever said to me was that you’d like to sit on a park bench one time and just talk about everything and I haven’t forgotten that.

I trust you so much. I trust you enough that I know you’d tell me if this “present” was awful. Despite the majority of people not being able to understand what I’m talking about, I’m posting this here because I don’t want your birthday to go by without me doing anything. Blogging is how we became close and so it feels right to write it here.

I just have one thing to say to you before I go: check your Twitter.

Also, I love you and you are a fabulous human. You already know that but I’m reiterating it because 1) I like to repeat myself and 2) I don’t say it enough when I properly mean it.

From the Elmitron πŸ™‚
P.S: Just saying, I nearly wrote my real name because you never call me Elm and if you do, it’s as a joke so THANKS FOR INADVERTENTLY TERRIFYING ME.

Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Hate Myself

Yesterday, I had one of the worst bouts of self-hatred I’ve had in months. It continued all day, from when I woke up until the evening, when it eventually poured out of me, nonsensical and terrifying for me because I lost complete control of myself and my words. However, looking back on it, there are reasons why I shouldn’t hate myself like I aggressively did.

I screamed all of this out to one of my favourite people and I’ll call him Reggie because it’ll annoy him. How he put up with me I don’t know: I made no sense, repeated myself and lied to myself a hell of a lot but I eventually calmed down. He helped me to see that though the fear of myself and my hatred is overpowering sometimes to the point where I can’t talk about it, I’m not such a terrible person. I’ll thank him later for basically drilling that into my skull. He’s one of the main people who has forced me to realise how bad I can get.

Here are some reasons why I shouldn’t despise myself. It’ll be difficult to write because I’m still recovering from the irrational screaming of yesterday but I need to write this for myself and to show you that the perception you have of yourself can sometimes be wildly, unhealthily wrong.

My Appearance

I do actually have quite a nice figure – being small isn’t something negative
I’ve been doing a bit more exercise recently
People have found me attractive and although this shouldn’t be a way to boost my self-esteem, it destroys my notion that I’m absolutely disgusting
I have a good skincare routine and so I can take a bit of control over my appearance
When I feel it, I’m able to carry myself with a lot of confidence

My Personality

I can make myself cringe at how much I repress things, rather than shouting at myself as I did before
I make people laugh with my weird comments – not at me but with me
I can be kind to others and I try to support them as much as I can
Although it takes me a long time, I learn from my mistakes and have become a little more patient with myself after I realised that
I’m a good actor and am not being self-centred when I say that
If I have feelings, I’m not afraid to make them obvious – that’s a strength because it shows I’m capable of feeling them
I have a painfully immature and strange sense of humour sometimes
I take pride in my singing and how I can write lyrics
I have a very weird way of talking sometimes (which involves the verbal equivalent of all capitals) and my own laugh makes me laugh

How I Treat Others and React to Them

I’ve got a lot of issues to work through which make me wary of talking to some people but I know that these issues stem from very real feelings of insecurity which I will, in time, get to grips with
I’ve got better at talking to family and friends about why I do the things I do
I’m able to laugh and have a good time with people without feeling guilt over it
I’ve started to realise that the way I treat people can sometimes be shitty but in rectifying that, my friendships have got stronger
Talking about how paranoid I get has helped me to remember that people are here for me and actually care, that they’re not just pretending and that I’m worth more than a minute of people’s time (thanks again, Reggie and Red also, you fabulous people)
If people need me, I’ll always be there to talk to them and I’d happily drop anything to help

Things I’ve Done

Not everything is my fault
Really, I only deserve about 5% of the shit I put on myself, as Reggie pointed out to me yesterday (and I only listened to that this morning)
I’ve apologised for pretty much everything I’ve done, that I’m aware of, numerous times
I’ve openly communicated with people about how I feel and though some things are unresolved, starting that communication is something I’m getting better at

It turns out that I can think of quite a lot of things that I shouldn’t hate. Thanks to my friends, I’m acknowledging them rather than ignoring them and sinking into a well of screaming self-hatred.

What’s your favourite thing about yourself?

From Elm πŸ™‚

How Acting Changed my Life

***Minor details have been changed for anonymity purposes***

From mid November to early December – nearly a month – I didn’t go to school. I wasn’t at home either, barely did any schoolwork, yet in doing so I created memories that will stay with me forever. I came to some difficult realisations about the future, namely that I had pushed myself to be what everyone else expected me to be. Now that I can’t be that any more, I’m almost in freefall but I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Where was I? I can’t tell you much, apart from that I was filming a small thing for something that might appear late next year. Instead of focusing too much on those details, I want to talk about how it changed my life in the best way possible. Not just temporarily but how it forced me to realise that I’ve shoved myself into a little box because of the expectations of myself and others for far too long. Those expectations have now changed and I think I may finally know what I feel.

I stayed in a city far away from the one I live in, with a train journey lasting just over 2 and a half hours. For the longest time, I’d fought with family over going by myself and finally, I was allowed to take that journey, the longest I had ever done. In total, I did it four times, sitting with my thoughts for company, reading, heart beating hard with a mix of anticipation and fear at what I knew would be an unforgettable journey. I was right.

Collectively for around a fortnight and a half, I stayed in a hotel that was 15 minutes’ drive from the place we were filming, with a chaperone because I was below the age of 18 at the time. I had my own room, could lay my stuff out how I wanted; it was exhilarating to come back to the hotel after having had dinner and to feel utterly in control of that space. The chaperone I had was amazing: she helped me to see life differently, to understand that there are far more options than the one you thought you’d do a year ago. Over dinner – where we went out pretty much every night when my schedule allowed – and breakfast in the mornings, we talked about life and anything we could think of. Walking through shops and streets, I laughed so hard that I nearly fell over at one point. The experience wouldn’t have been the same without her because I felt secure when returning back from set, knowing I had someone who I could count on to help if I got confused and just a friend who I could chat to.

Each morning of a day I filmed, I got up, had breakfast and – depending on my call time – relaxed or got ready straight away. My sleeping patterns got messed up. Often, I had 12-hour days at odd times and so I was exhausted but it was a rewarding kind of exhausting. Receiving a Callsheet was always interesting because you were never quite sure what you were doing each day, if something overran from the day before. So many times, I asked stupid questions about abbreviations but it just meant I learned, all the time.

Now, onto the filming itself. I can’t describe anything in detail really but it was exhilarating. Between takes, I howled with laughter with the other actors. The first time I properly met one of them, an hour later we were joking around like we’d known each other for months. I wasn’t afraid of truly expressing myself, breaking free of the ‘vulnerable’ stereotype, my insecurities being natural and able to be talked about. Waiting between sections of filming wasn’t difficult either: I had too many cups of tea for it to be healthy and one of the Runners – people who do jobs around set and help the actors if they need something – spoke to me constantly. I can safely say that the people made it worthwhile.

I wish I could tell you specific memories I have but I’m not allowed to reveal anything about the filming. However, highlights include shivering so hard in the cold, talking to an actor about mental health and our lives for almost an hour, learning about so many new things, chatting to the costume and makeup people and starting to use terminology that you wouldn’t understand if you weren’t in that industry. Coming back into the warmth when you were freezing felt as if your fingers were about to fall off and I took to mumbling lines under my breath and whenever I was running lines with the other actors, we’d sometimes just say the first line and run from then. I felt so comfortable around them; it didn’t matter that I looked young, that I had a disability, that I hadn’t done this much before. I felt utterly at home, able to absolutely sob with laughter and I didn’t care how I looked. It brought back my humanity and each time I came back to the hotel, I’d talk to my chaperone about how the day went and her enthusiasm for it all made me so happy.

I went for drinks after one of the days filming with some of the cast and crew. There, one of the main producers talked to me and told me I was wonderful, that I shouldn’t give up, that I should continue doing this. I beamed, heart soaring as I realised – maybe, just maybe he was right. After speaking to the director, one of the loveliest people, I started feeling a fire light deep within me. It was glorious and I got confidence I’ve never felt before or since, bolstering me like I was worth something more than I ever thought. I went back to the hotel – something I jokingly referred to as ‘home’ with my chaperone – and cried out of shock. They were happy tears, tears of gratitude and an overload of emotion.

The day I left the set for the last time, I cried so hard for hours. It felt as if I was leaving something behind and I felt horribly empty when I remembered that there would be no more Callsheets for this time, no more accidentally walking into walls and having to re-take whilst laughing, no more chatting to the director and the rest of the cast about my disability and them not caring that I was blind, just caring that I was myself. The train journey back was one of the most difficult I’ve had as it felt as if my heart was breaking: I missed it and still miss it, the simple companionship and jokes I had with people, the waiting that never seemed to be boring because I knew I was being useful. I was needed, part of it, like I’ve not really felt before.

Going to school made me feel small, powerless and so, so wrong. I’d thought, over the Christmas holidays, and realised that I really don’t know what to do about my future. It threw me: my lack of work done was piling up; I felt panicked all the time at the thought of this continuing, on and on. That snapped me back to a sort of reality. Before filming, it felt normal to feel this awful all the time and to have no respite. Now I compare myself to when I was happy to now, when I’ve reverted to feeling worried constantly. I shouldn’t have to feel like this all the time. I shouldn’t have to do a degree that will just exacerbate this.

What do I do, then? Do I still do my degree in English Lit and Creative Writing, regardless of how unhappy it makes me? Or do I look at drama schools in the year I’m taking out next year? It shocks me to note that this uncertainty, instead of making me feel terror, makes me feel less trapped. I’m less limited now. In a way, I can be more in control.

This will come as a shock to, well, everyone. It already has. Throughout my secondary education, I never went into drama; I never expressed an interest because I never thought I was good enough. This will be a surprise; I’ll have teachers and parents telling me I’m being hasty, that I should be sensible. However, in this, I’m doing the sensible thing for me.

I want to do what makes me happy, to do what feels right. I don’t want to feel as wrong as I have; feeling so terrified and unhappy about the future and believing that to be healthy is harmful. I’m having a huge re-think but maybe that was necessary to make me remember that my views for the future are not the only path I could take.

There are always options. It’s far better to be happy and to feel confident in yourself than to go along with what people tell you you should do.

I don’t want this to be the end. I don’t want to go, “That’s it,” and force myself to be content with a future that has never felt wholly “me”. I don’t want to be told I’m being a child about this, that I should just do the degree because it’ll give me a good future.

I want to make a future for myself, not anyone else’s version of my future. I will create amazing memories and the ones I made last month and the month before, though fading a little, have made a lasting impression on me. They’ve shown me that I won’t just fit into a little box.

A lot of changes are happening in my head. I’m behind in my schoolwork, desperately stressed, losing control of some of the things in my life and breaking away from the things teachers want me to be and from the studious person I once was. However, I was only that because I needed to be. It was the only thing I thought I had. I’ve been proven wrong. I’m still insecure, worried I’m running too far and too fast but for once, thinking about this doesn’t make me feel like I’m climbing a mountain that never ends. Maybe, I can be happy.

Not maybe. Definitely.

Have you ever had a complete turnaround about what you want to do in the future?

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

Where I’ve Been

As I’m writing this, I’m on the phone to L, listening to him singing and rambling on about old blog posts. Really, it’s a great way to start my first post of 2018, the first post or second – after I became an adult – and my first after my unplanned, temporary, panic-stricken ‘hiatus’. Typically, I’m having trouble writing, either because I haven’t written in so long or because I’m scared that if I start writing, I’ll have that thing I had in the counselling session yesterday where I couldn’t stop.

I’ve realised I haven’t written properly, about my day, my life, in about a month. I miss it. So perhaps, casually, I’ll start screaming about mocks and worry and counselling and wow, here we go!

Just a note – this turned out quite negative. I want you to remember that if you ever need anyone to talk to or any support, you can find links at the bottom of this post. Alternatively, find a family member, friend or someone impartial who you can speak to.

On Monday and Wednesday, I had mocks. Monday was Psychology – the best one; then English – from Hell; History – which blessed me and cursed me in equal measure and English again – which I wanted to burn and turn into fire whilst I ran away screaming. So, that went well.

My counsellor asked me yesterday to explain how I’ve been feeling over the last week: it was my first fixed session of 12 and I had a fair bit of trouble talking then too. She was lovely and helped me to feel relaxed, like somebody really cared. Talking about it chronologically helped. I’ll start from there because right now, I feel very disconnected from everything and everyone because I haven’t been talking. This will be unstructured and mammoth; it’s mostly just to tell you how I’ve been feeling. You could probably read each paragraph separately; it’ll be that disjointed.

Since about Friday, possibly even earlier, I worked 6 hours – even more sometimes – each day. I went to bed so late because I started working late as I couldn’t get up the motivation. I kept on getting distracted and when I sat myself down, I worked and worked until I felt like I’d collapse. I couldn’t think afterwards, bone-tired from thinking too hard, copying out too many notes, being too unproductive. I disappointed myself at the end of the day, trying to be pleased with what I could do under pressure, forgetting that this – as I said to the counsellor – was more work than I’d done in a year.

I started lying to teachers, so desperately afraid of what they’d say if they found out how behind I was in their class. I started thinking of myself as an awful person, deep down despising myself, not realising that it was understandable and that leads me onto my next paragraph of shouting about how confused I am. What else is new?

I’m having a huge crisis over the future. Tomorrow, I’ll be writing a post on it but long story short, I’m questioning what I want to do on a huge level. Being in year 13, this puts me in a difficult position but luckily, I’m not applying to university this year so it gives me some time. However, I still feel kind of cut loose and directionless; I wouldn’t change that for the world though.

I talked about this all with my counsellor yesterday in the 50 minute session we had, words tumbling and exploding out of me like I’ve not been able to speak for years. Perhaps that was true: I’ve always spoken about how I feel, but not why. It’s mostly me blocking myself: I ignore reasons behind my feelings, knowing I feel panicked because of work but not understanding how to solve it because the reasons all go back years. Like now, I’m shouting onto this post with no sense of understanding how I feel and I know this will come with more counselling sessions but it makes me feel like everything stretches into the distance but I can’t move forward. Unstructured, like these sentences and all of my words and the fact that I’ve come back to blogging and all I can write about is panic.

I want to fill this space with positivity; I’ve not been so good at that lately. Positive, beautiful things have happened but because of my inability to process them, I can’t talk about them here as much. Maybe at some point later, when I can think about something other than work; maybe I’ll truly come to terms with the fact that not everyone thinks I’m ridiculous, still a child, small and directionless. Perhaps they’re partly true but I’m far more than just that.

This has been a mess but I didn’t want to come back and tell you all a lie. In good conscience, I couldn’t have told you that all my structures of thought were neat, tidy, orderly. I may be an adult but “adults” still make mistakes and don’t know how to process their emotions (like I’d know, only having been one for 12 days). Anyhow, I feel almost guilty for making you read this cluttered “thing”.

Maybe nobody will read this – and maybe I’m being attention-seeking in saying that. I think I’ll post this, humming along to terrible music, breathe and calm down until I can organise my thoughts. I’ll read posts, talk to people – and it’ll be okay.

I think, in a way, this has got me back into writing. I end writing this post whilst still listening to L singing and occasionally screeching along myself. This is what friendship is; this is what I deserve; I need to stop holding myself back for fear that I’m not good enough.

You’re only not good enough to yourself if you don’t let yourself be.

How have you all been this last week?

Love from Elm πŸ™‚
P.S: I can’t work out if this is the most “unprofessional” thing I’ve ever written Probably not – my 2015 posts were quite something.

She is Me | Who I Used to Be

There was a girl once that was afraid of saying “I love you” but after a while, she got over her fear and revelled in the blooming exultation of wanting to say it. That girl said it to someone, happy, smiling because it was correct and there was no fear attached, no turning back from the gaping yet welcoming truth. The idea of a feeling crashed inside her chest as waves on sand, shaking with the enormity of it; she carried it in her heart, a glorious gift of secret longing. Solid and golden, it was just beyond the hand of someone else, flittering; they kept it, shared, forever. Until it wasn’t.

There was a girl who loved writing. Words poured out of her, like expelling a breath; they tangled together in waves and shadows and created pictures she couldn’t see. She tasted the air and it echoed with words: there were letters in her smile and the solace she got was from creating a story. With eyes shining with new life, she took the whole world in as if it was hers to rebuild – as if she could change the world with a grin. She was poetic and altogether too whimsical, sharply realistic yet also prone to fantastical dreams in her spare time.

This girl devoured music, floating along with pianos and guitars yet grounded with her voice. Singing, not bird-like but nature-like, connected her to reality in the same way that writing let her explore it. She would spent time smiling over songs, heart swelling as the individual notes gave her some identity. Now, that view is glorified – perhaps she just listened – but to me, she was beautiful in it.

Despite her protests, she adored learning – it lit a spark in her as she ranted over books, characters growing and being shaped inside her head. It was as if she herself was a book, filled with little nuances that only came to light after she didn’t know herself much any more. They were good traits, solid, dependable – she was motivated, a steady pulse of resolve thrumming round her body.

Loyal, strange, sometimes wild, heart fluttering at the touch of a hand and when she kissed someone for the first time, her heart would warm whenever she thought of it. There was a little basket of memories she kept inside there, of people who loved her and called her beautiful – of the people she believed when they told her, even if she said she didn’t. Looking at her now, you wouldn’t think it; she doesn’t think it. Was that how she really was? Is she pretending she was more? When I think of her, though, I think of someone who, though still within me, was far more open and happily honest.

As her heart broke, that girl became more herself; she had morals and a complex, wonderful mind that loved her friends more than her own happiness. She was not happy, yet she was slightly content; she had a wealth of emotion among her shattered love that rose to the surface with an easy push. She was respectful, heart clanging painfully yet flowering with blossoms of hope and closure and expressed mourning. She was a whirlpool, except the foam rose high into the air, still holding hands and wishing fervently, a string-tether to her heart, for any kind of happiness.

I say this because this girl didn’t realise what was right in front of her until it had moved on. In living life, she didn’t know how much she cherished it until she wasn’t she any more, until she was replaced by someone who is more of a blank. The vibrant colours and personal identity, once so flourishing and silver, became bronze and duller as she grew smaller. She’s still there, in a little cavity called Hope, in a little drawer called Please Remember Me.

That girl is buried somewhere. I’d really, really like it if she came to the surface one day. Maybe she will; maybe I’ll remember that she is me. “Please Remember Me,” she whispers, after all. I just have to wait.

From Elm πŸ™‚

I Wanted to be like Everyone Else

On Thursday, a prizegiving event is being held at my school and I can’t make it. Not because I’m staging a wild protest – although that’s something I would do – but because I’ve got a prearranged appointment for something exciting. Even if I didn’t have that, Ow still wouldn’t go because the prize I’ve been ‘awarded’ has not only upset me but it’s hurt me, more than it would seem if you look at it on the surface. Will that make me sound arrogant or ungrateful? Perhaps but I’m willing to take that risk to show how sometimes, well-meaning actions can have the opposite effect.

Prizegiving is huge here for years 12 and 13; parents come, there are guest speakers and it’s held in a Church. Especially for year 13, it means a lot because it’s our last year here. You can get achievement prizes, academic prizes for a specific subject, attendance prizes and that kind of thing. Last year, I won a prize for achievement which I was so so proud of myself for because I worked so fucking hard on my GCSEs I knew I deserved those grades.

This time, from my Head of Year, I’ve been awarded a prize for ‘overcoming adversity’. That’s all I’ve been told: ‘overcoming adversity’, overcoming a difficulty, achieving despite your difficulties – and the only difficulty they know I have that could restrict my education is that I’m blind. Yes, it could be something else, like the fact that I struggled with mental health last year but that was nowhere near bad enough, or rather nobody saw it get bad enough, to warrant a prize for ‘overcoming adversity’. If they’d awarded it on the basis of mental health or external circumstances, hands down, somebody else would have got it – someone who deserved to get it.

It’s not that I’m not grateful. I’m happy they thought me worthy of a prize, when for the last year I’ve been thinking I’m either stupid or that nothing I do is worthwhile. It’s the prize itself: it feels like they’re awarding me for surviving the education system with a disability. It feels like they’re awarding me for existing, for ‘beating the odds’, for being disabled and still succeeding in education. And that would be fine, if I deserved it; that would be fine, if my disability affected every single thing I did to the extent where the act of going to school was difficult; that would be fine, if there weren’t so, so many other people who would deserve it more than me – who have had it much worse than me.

That’s the first reason I’m upset or angry. The other reason is much more personal and is the reason I cried earlier when I found out. I cried instead of being ecstatic and the “why” is quite simple.

The reason I came to this school was to get the best possible education I could. I didn’t want to go to an entirely mainstream school because the ones around my area weren’t that good and couldn’t have supported me anyway, such as preparing my work. I didn’t want to go to a school specifically for visually impaired students because I didn’t feel like that suited me, as I wanted to be surrounded by a lot of people and didn’t want to feel trapped. In short, I came here because I wanted to be like everyone else, without my education being thrown to the curb if I didn’t get good support. And, for the most part, Ow succeeded.

However, I’ve always been known as the “blind one”, or my year sometimes treat me with caution like I’m a doll or something delicate. People don’t often know how to act around me which hurts so much. I’ve always wanted to be recognised as more than my disability, with the blindness being a side thing: “Oh, there’s Elm, she’s short and takes the piss out of herself for it; she writes.” I’ve tried so hard to break free of stereotypes set for myself and others and again, for the most part and majority of people, it worked but the thing that hurts is that the school – the place where I’ve got such a good education – sees me as their blind person and as the one who did well despite a disability, not did well and that was the end of it.

There’s a silver lining to this. I was in the atrium, talking to two of my friends who I got close with when I went to Berlin about this and started crying out of anger and just general sadness. I told them that I felt like I wasn’t really getting an award, that people still viewed me as different when I wanted to succeed just as much as anybody else. They hugged me, sat with me for about 20 minutes and just talked everything out; chatting to people who don’t know me as well but are willing to put the effort in helped to make me feel more included. I love them for that; they took time out of their day to comfort me, along with another girl who didn’t know me at all yet said that she’d never viewed me as “the blind one”.

I’m still angry, still upset that after all I’ve done to try and stop my disability being the first thing people see, they would award me a prize that’s either focused on my disability or something similar. However, I do know that at least some people in my year besides those I’m with at break and lunch, who’ve known me since year 7, don’t view me as separate. I might not be able to stop the teachers from thinking that I’m “so brave” for coming to this school and getting good grades, but I have proved to some of the people around me that there’s more to me than the eyes. The others don’t matter because they never tried.

I’m only here until May and then I’m out. Then it won’t matter how the school see me. I’ve been here 7 years almost and I haven’t managed to prove to them that I’m successful not despite my disability but for my own merit. However, I’ve managed to prove to myself I’m strong-willed, more than that blind girl and I’m respected for myself, to the people that matter.

From Elm πŸ™‚

What I Can’t Say | A Letter

Last night, I had a dream that you actually cared about me.

When I woke up, feeling ill and shaking with something a little like fear, I cried because I realised the dream was just that – a dream. Over the next hour, it hit me that not only did you not care but there was nothing I could do to make you care. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it give a shit about the water, after all.

I could send you a thousand messages, do everything possible to get your attention but that’s what they call “attention-seeking”. I could tell you if I felt miserable in the hours when I wasn’t sleeping; I could let you know just how sad I’m feeling; I could tell you that when I spoke to you, it calmed something within me but no matter that it’s true, even if you believed me, you still wouldn’t care. There wouldn’t be much use in exhausting all avenues of communication if it’ll just go unanswered. It wouldn’t be of much use if it’d just make you hate me.

Now, I don’t think you hate me, just that you don’t care. We’ve gone through too much for you to hate me; you’ve said it countless times. However, the ceaseless paranoia I feel in the cavity of my stomach makes me believe that you just don’t care: that you’re tired of caring. It’s like all my attempts to talk to you, instead of bringing you closer, have pushed you away. Maybe it’s my fault, for being odd and scarily attached to people, but sometimes, it just happens.

You may think that I write this in anger that you wouldn’t care but the truth is, I’ve come to accept it. Yes, it breaks me a fair bit that the beautiful friendship I suppose we still had will be marred by me, where I constantly seek reassurance, but it’s part of things which I have to come to terms with. I’ll change that part of me but for now, I know that when I next speak to you, I’ll be filled with the terror that I’ll say something that’ll make things worse. That doesn’t mean I’m angry or resentful; it just means that I’m both scared of myself and of having direct proof that I’m losing you.

I’m a jumble of thoughts. I want you to care but I don’t want to show you that because I can turn into a pathetic mess. I don’t want to be misconstrued as attention-seeking when a small part of me wants a crying sort of assurance. In short, you make me become a juxtaposition, like I want to shove you away in case I screw things up but I also want to still have you here because no matter that you don’t care, I still care. Will that tear me apart? Perhaps but I must stop lying to myself and I have to stop pretending that I don’t have a heart.

You’ll never read this and that’s why I can say all these things, all of the confused strands of paranoia and loneliness spilling out onto a screen. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe you do care but I don’t want to waste energy wishing. In time, you’ll prove to me that you care or that you don’t and then I’ll know. I’ll just have to wait and try not to lock myself into a loop of wild hope and crushing disappointment.

People stay in your life and people leave; people are there for a short time and a long time and often, you can’t predict what it’ll be. I couldn’t say what you’ll be to me in 5 years because you may have cut off all communication with me by then. It’s okay to do that but what I can’t deal with is this uncertainty: I know that you don’t care as much now but to what extent is still not known to me. Time heals all wounds, they say, but how much time are we willing to give each other?

If you do end up reading this, I might get a message telling me I don’t know you at all, that this just shows that I don’t understand you. To that, I’d say “I’m sorry but in order for me to understand you, you have to let me.” Or I may just leave it. You may say, “Why would you think I don’t care – I have a lot going on so I’m sorry for that.” Or you may never send me a message at all.

I’m not sad now; I’m not angry. I’m neither resigned nor hopeful. I’m just here and so are you and that’s, really, what matters. Beneath all the confusion and torn up thoughts, silent wonderings and spoken happiness, we’re still here.

I’m glad of that. Maybe, at some point, I’ll get my answer but if not? I’m still here.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Parties, Dogs and Getting my Life Together | A Life Update

The title of this post is probably a bit odd but honestly, it was the first thing that popped into my head to summarise what’s been happening for the last week. In my typical disorganised style, I’ll be updating you on the hopelessly boring life of Elm. Apologies if you fall asleep.

Knowing me, I’ll forget what happened this week – and a lot did – so I’ll write it down for myself, too. I’ve missed chronicling my cringy exploits for you to laugh at. I should start doing it more often. So, here we go: I’ll start from exactly a week ago.

Last Thursday, I went to a party in London where I only knew one person. It sounds like a stupid idea but really, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done, as is most of my spontaneous and adventurous plans. It was my friend Silva’s birthday: she’s a girl who goes to school in Dorset and who contacted me a few months ago about me going to speak at her school – you can read more about her here. I went into the city by myself, met her and all her friends and went to her house. Not only was she lovely (and her puns are something special) but all the people she invited, as well as her parents, made me feel so comfortable that I forgot to be scared.

First of all, her house is huge and actually has a hot tub. I’d brought a swimming costume for the hell of it and it was great because I didn’t feel self-conscious about the idea of showing that much skin. I think that not knowing many people really helped with that, although throughout the evening I made friends such as a girl who shares my love for LGBTQ YA books, a girl who’s been trained as a sniper and a guy who honestly owns a lake. I sang at the top of my voice, had painfully deep conversations within 15 minutes of speaking to a girl and got dehydrated at one point so that I nearly fell over. It ended up with me sitting on a sofa at 3:00 in the morning, singing my heart out to a Taylor Swift song with 3 people I’d known for a grand total of 9 hours. Because it was so late, most of us stayed the night (someone slept in a cupboard) and in the morning, I was driven back to the station by Silva’s mum with another girl. It was honestly fantastic and, unsurprisingly, has increased my confidence: it turns out that I’m able to be myself around people who didn’t know me before.

Friday was spent recovering and I can honestly say I did nothing that day apart from complain about how tired I was. I’d got about 3 hours of proper sleep and couldn’t really interact with anyone without yawning. Saturday was a little more eventful: I went into London, yet again, for a meeting on a campaign in which I’m involved. The other two people that were there are amazing and before we got into organising anything, we had a 10 minute conversation about the woes of school (as I always do). It was great to meet up with them again and hopefully, we’re going to get the campaign underway: I can’t reveal too much about it because of anonymity. After that, I went home to my dad’s house and exhaustedly read some of the book that I was supposed to read for English ages ago. Oops… Sunday was pretty much the same as Friday: dreadfully boring with no excitement at all. I mean I wrote a post but that was about it!

Monday was the day of my mobility lesson. If you didn’t know, I’ve been having some mobility lessons over the summer – learning routes round my local area because I’m blind and had not much independence until now. My mobility officer is amazing (the amount of times we go off topic is brilliant) and she works with Guide Dogs, the charity, because at some point I really want to get a Guide Dog of my own. One of my best friends, L, has one and you should really go and check out his blog because it’s amazing. Anyway, it was what I thought was my last mobility lesson with her on Monday and we went to a bust depo, explored a bus, talked to two bloody lovely bus drivers and got driven around town. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a while, dealing with the confusion of the public who saw a nearly empty bus driving past, having conversations with the bus drivers and wandering around. After that had ended, I spoke to my mobility officer and I may be able to get a Guide Dog sooner than I thought!!! As you can tell, thinking about that makes me so so happy because it would be a huge step forward for me, confidence-wise.

One time, I’ll write a whole post about why I really want to get a Guide Dog. I think it’ll really increase my independence and give me a lot more confidence which is, at the moment, the main thing that’s blocking me from doing a lot of things. However, it is a long process and isn’t as simple as saying “Oh hello, here’s your dog, byee!”

On Monday evening, I prepared for school which was to be the next day. I had a bit of a cry that night because I was honestly terrified, not of school but of the coming year as last year was so shit. Even so, on Tuesday morning I got myself up and spent a while getting myself ready because I could feel the nerves getting to me. Sadly, it was a bit of a pointless day: we went in at 11, had a half an hour assembly and then an hour of form. We then had a barbecue to welcome the Year 12s which was run by our Student Reps (two of them are Wren and Red). I loved it but I don’t know if it was worth me going in, although I caught up with Pine who I hadn’t seen all summer, Wren, Red and my other friend Swan. The day ended with some of the Student Reps doing the Cha Cha Slide and Wren and I catching up and having one of the deepest conversations I’ve had in weeks. That bit was fabulous!

It turns out that I’m not at school until next Monday, where my timetable starts properly. Because I’m now allowed to have my Guide Dogs mobility officer instead of my local one, I’m going to organise which day I’ll have a lesson on. That’s made me feel a little more productive but still, over the last two days, I’ve had nothing much to do. All the work I’m supposed to do seems a little pointless: I know I have to do it but I can’t get the motivation to do it. I’m almost at a loose end but the thought of getting back into a routine, despite the bleakness of everything, has helped me through things.

At some point this weekend, I’ll do the Psychology work and English work that needs to be done. I also need to sort out a couple of worrying things to do with both my mental health and with some of my friends: it’s mostly trying to alleviate some awful paranoia I’ve been feeling. I just need to try and get as much negativity out of my life as possible because I get enough of it from my own mind anyway.

All in all, it’s been a hectic week. From parties to screaming over my new timetable, from periods of complete inactivity to hours where I’ve been reading non-stop and from thinking that I’ll never be independent to having that door thrown open again, things aren’t too bad. I’m honestly a little disgusted that I didn’t update you on it sooner; I’ve been painfully unmotivated recently as I mention in every single conversation.

How has your week been? Let me know in the comments!

From Elm πŸ™‚