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™‚

My Blindie Plans

I think I’ve finally sorted out a little segment of my future, after much deliberation – and yes it’s scary because I have regular panics over my life – but it’s about the little fact of my blindness. Lack of sight. Shit eyes. That, and what I want to do regarding certain things that come along with it.

I think – no, I know – that I want to get a Guide Dog. After years of internalised rebellion against that supposed “blind stereotype” – “HAHAHA you can just have a cane,” “You don’t want to be like all the other blind people, right?” and “Stop pletending that you can actually take care of one,” I’ve decided that all of that was ridiculous. At the end of the day, my independence is shocking and not just in my abilities, but in my confidence, and as much as some many people can get around with a cane fine, I don’t know if I’m one of those people. Maybe having a dog won’t change that, but it’s a far sight (ha ha ha) better than what I feel now whenever I have to walk in an unfamiliar place on my own.

I made contact with my local mobility team for Guide Dogs a few weeks ago, and they’re coming to my house on Monday to discuss my options. Maybe it won’t be the right thing for me, but I want to try; it’s a step I feel like I’d love to take because I’m sick of not doing anything and just floating along. Most people don’t actually know that this is going on, but on my blog I’m totally honest, and this is a reasonably big thing.

Another thing that’s pretty huge – simply because of the shift in my opinions – is the fact that I’m considering taking a year out after I finish A-Levels, before I go onto uni. Perhaps this deserves a whole post of its own, but I want to bundle it up with the rest of my updates.

There’s a college for the blind; I won’t say which but it’s pretty obvious which one it is if you’re blind or if you do research. A lot of people take a year out to go there, and my reason is that my independence is laughably bad. I have no confidence, I don’t know how to do most things, and there’s no bloody way I’ll be able to learn everything on top of studying and not breaking down mentally. Cooking, using basic appliances in the house and moving around with ease in places you don’t know – I can’t do that and it’s terrifying because if I don’t get my act together, I won’t manage university.

Because of that, I want to go to this college. It’s a proper establishment; A-Levels are taken there as well as mobility courses, and I just think I should take the initiative here because it’s my life, my happiness, my independence. I want to be the person I can be without worrying that I’ll look stupid, or inept, in any situation. I’m afraid that I’ll be left behind, because all my sighted friends will move on without me and go to uni, but to be honest it’s something I just have to get over. This is more important.

To attend, you have to get funding, and I’m worried that my local council won’t provide. It’s paranoia more than anything else, but I really want this. Considering that eghen a year ago, I was so against the idea of me going to so-called “blind college” that I’d get upset whenever anyone suggested it me, this change in opinion is kinda significant. I’ve grown up, matured, and realised that life exists outside my perception of things and that I shouldn’t be ashamed of that part of me. S moved to a different school for the blind this year and if he can do it, there’s nothing stopping me – and he learned to like it there I hope, and so can I.

Yet another thing is happening, though not so long-lasting. I’ve become involved in a campaign for young people with sight loss, and I’m going to a meeting tomorrow in the city near me. I’m nervous for that, mainly because I’m not used to my opinions being taken seriously – it sounds weird, but I’m scared that I’ll speak and no one will listen. I won’t know anyone there, I don’t think, though they’re all around my age; I’m not sure if it’s better to know people or to not. Hopefully, it’ll all go well, and I can feel like I’m doing some good rather than just slipping into the background.

In two weeks, I’m going to another blind camp with L which should be something interesting. Violet (a good friend of mine) will be there, and so will Rapunzel (my ex-girlfriend). I won’t be able to blog in that time, but mocks are coming up (I’ve done shit all revision) so that’s producing stress.

Those are all of my updates! I think that I’m taking measures to increase my independence, and for once, I’m not criticising myself for it. Above all, it’s me that has to be in control of this, and no matter what anyone says, I’m willing to be.

From Elm πŸ™‚

The Future Pisses Me Off

I’m a bit selfish/whatever for posting this, but meh, I don’t hate myself for it – so DAMN, that’s an improvement.

Today, in maths and chemistry, I was so frustrated and angry with myself that I kind of wanted to break my own hand?

… Yup. I didn’t do anything; I bent my fingers back a bit but just enough so that it was a warning to myself. I won’t lie to any of you – it got kind of bad with the THOUGHTS, but I didn’t do anything much. I’m getting better. Thank god.

Well, my THOUGHTS were awful. I kind of considered actually breaking my own fingers, and then asked myself what was the point in NOT doing that, but it’s okay now. Still a bit shaky, but I’m okay.

I just… Ugh god.

I don’t know what I’m doing any more. And by that, I mean, I don’t understand my work.

In maths, I sat there the whole lesson, and I swear I only managed about 3 questions. I couldn’t visualise it and the teacher who always sits beside me didn’t understand, and said I should have a basic way to orientate myself around a CUBOID FOR GOD’s SAKE, and I just flipped out and I couldn’t do any work whatsoever. It’s difficult, because I SHOULD know all this by now, but my mind hit a roadblock and my wrists felt so weak, and by the end I had enough.

Chemistry was balancing equations, and like in maths, a haze descended where I couldn’t concentrate and everything was a blur of ‘I can’t do anything,’ ‘I’m going to fail everything.’

I need to just… Get better. Be better. Have more motivation.

I’m constantly terrified now; it’s a continuous stab of fear deep within me that I can’t throw away. I have so little motivation now that I want to crawl into a hole sometimes and wait for something to come along and destroy me, but that’s RIDICULOUS because I have so much to live for.

I don’t want to live on benefits. I want a job. I get told all the time that disabled people have a higher chance of living in poverty and I’m scared, GOD I’M SCARED, because I want to have a future and I don’t want to feel pathetic.

Maths and chemistry are two things, JUST TWO THINGS, but this is happening throughout my lessons. I just can’t. Part of me has given up on myself and ever achieving anything, but I NEED to achieve. I need to. I need to make my own fucking money but if I can’t even get the energy to revise for exams because I’m lazy as fuck, what does that tell me about my life?

I’m so scared. The job factor plays into it because I’m SO unindependent and I would do something about it but I’m too scared. I’m literally scared of not passing my GCSEs, A-levels, not getting into uni, failing at a job interview, living on benefits, living in poverty, death when I’ve achieved nothing. It’s something I can’t quell, and it’s impacting on my lessons and it’s like a horrible cycle that NEVER achieves it’s purpose.

I want to be better. I want to have that spark of learning and I want to understand and I want to be normal and not have to worry SO MUCH about jobs when I’m 15, but I can’t help it. It’s an ongoing fear and it shouldn’t be, and I should just concentrate on PASSING MY EXAMS and not wanting to actually die in the process.

It’s not serious. It’s not serious. It’s not serious. I bet I’m making this up. I’m going to fail. I’m GOING TO FAIL. I have too much negativity in my life and I wish I wasn’t like this and I wish I was like my friends where they HAVE THE MOTIVATION to do things, because I don’t.

I’m scared. I just want to be different and I want to get off my arse and stop being so, so lazy and disgusting.

The world made me terrified beyond all reasoning.

Sorry. I didn’t mean for this to turn out so terribly. I’m trying to be positive but I’m just so scared because I don’t understand my lessons and I’m gripped at random points throughout the day with this awful, awful fear that I never do anything about because I’m too “tired” which is just an excuse for laziness.

Are you guys all okay? I don’t mean to ruin your day; I hope I haven’t. My thoughts aren’t even going anywhere and there’s not much anyone can do, but I know you’ll support me. Thank you.

From Elm πŸ™‚

DO SOMETHING, You’re Gonna Fail

I’m in my English lesson.

And I got a B plus in my homework. It was a past exam question, and I didn’t try hard enough. It makes me angry.

I’m HAPPY with the result. The result is great – if you GET that result in your homework, that’s brilliant.

Here we go with the arrogant spiel. Usually, I get A stars.

I’m not angry that I got a B plus. Well, I AM, but not because it’s a B plus. I’m angry because my grades are slipping.

I used to be able to think deeply and critically, and to UNDERSTAND what I was talking about.

If I usually got a B, I would be so upset if I got a D. If it was an A, I’d be upset if I got a C. It’s not the grade – it’s the difference.

This is happening in all my subjects. Music, which I used to enjoy so much? No. No motivation. History? I feel like I’m being stifled. Right now, every single lesson isn’t like the way it used to be, where I used to love learning.

And English? I LOVE English. And why, in this lesson, do I feel like there’s a cloud over me, like I can’t do anything?

It’s not the grades. Well, it IS – what’s more important to me is my lack of effort and motivation. I just… Don’t care, and that’s bad. That’s not how it should be, because I really want to do well in my GCSEs. That affects my grades. That affects my job, my career, my life.

I need to get my act together. But I can’t. Revision? God, HOW??!! How do I get the motivation to revise everything I know, for exams I can’t stand, for mocks I hate, for things that are USELESS? Why? Why can’t I just have motivation, and not sit here doing fuck all, listening to people around me talking intelligently?

I AM intelligent. I can deal with thinking that. But I’m just so worried, because it’s going to come to the mocks and I will have done fuck all revision unless I do something NOW, but what? Nothing works for me. Nothing I’ve done so far has picked my attitude up; that all disappeared last year. Why? Was it Ash, or everything – I don’t understand because now, I’m happy.

I want to do well. I can’t be talk and no action; I’ve got to do something. I’m worried. I don’t ever want to live on benefits or be in the percentage of disabled people who are unemployed. I CAN’T – I have to make my own money.

I’m so scared. I’m going to do something though; I HAVE to, because otherwise, everything will go downhill.

Whatever you do, do something to pick yourself up, okay? Don’t let yourself fall.

What do you think? I’m concerned, and all the anxiety and downright fear I have about the future is surfacing again, like it used to, like it hasn’t in a few months. I’m at the point of curling up and shivering in a ball, because I just don’t want to end up pathetic. I want to live.

From Elm πŸ™‚

PS: The Announcement is coming up later today.

TTTS Week 7 – A Letter to My Preteen And Future Self

… I’m terrible. I know I am. I’ve only done ONE TTTS PROJECT POST UGH PLEASE DON’T KILL ME! I don’t even have a bloody excuse…

So, for week 7, we had to write a letter either to our preteen or future selves – and I’m doing both, because I’m living on the edge like that. Here we go.

I don’t know how old you are right now – I’d guess 11. And if I’m right, please listen to me.

You’ve got some difficult years ahead, but when things happen, don’t regret any of it. You’ll learn from your experiences.

Elm, I know it’s difficult now. Something’s recently just happened, or is going to happen soon, that will fuck you over – get used to the language. You say worse.

That’s what I want to talk about now. No matter what, it’s okay. You might not know what happened, or what’s going to happen fully, but I know you had a pretty good idea. There’s just one thing: if you can help it, don’t tell too many people. I told too many, and that’s the ONLY thing I regret.

It’s so difficult. Even now, I find it difficult, but it’s okay. Nothing about it is your fault – in fact, don’t blame yourself for anything. Nothing is ENTIRELY your fault.

You’re strong. I know it was difficult to find friends in primary school, but it gets easier. It gets SO much easier, and you should have realised that. Realise it now, instead of trying to fit in; people love you for who you are.

Three years or so from now, you’re going to fall in love. It sounds strange, right? But you will have the happiest and worst moments of your life because of that boy; don’t change a thing. Let it run it’s course. You’ll be hurt, but it gets better. I promise.

Speaking of, loving anyone is okay. You’ll go through some pretty stupid “crushes”, I can guarantee that. But seriously, just be yourself. I can’t stress that enough.

It’s going to be difficult, but you have so many friends now. It gets better; I just wish you knew that. I’d never change a thing, so please don’t wish you could.

Stay strong for everyone, okay? Right now, they need you. Usually, I’d tell you to look after yourself, but you can do that once this is over. Never forget that.

There’s so much more I’d like to say, about how you can be amazing. You’ll only keep one solid friend from primary – I know you’d be glad to hear that. I wish that it was two, but you can’t change the past; who knows, maybe you’ll see him again.

Always be yourself. Your dad and sister – and hell, even your mum – love you. They always have.

It’s difficult now, and it’s difficult in the future, but it gets worse before it gets better.

Love from you

* * *

I don’t know how old you are now. 20? 25? Does it even matter?

You’ll look back on this and think, “God, I’m immature.” Or “What was I thinking?”

Or I bloody well hope you won’t. Are you serious? We worked so damn hard on this blog and this life.

Is Ash still around? I’d laugh if he was. You know how paralysed with fear we’d get at the thought of him talking to us again. It’s difficult, right? I know, right now, that there are still things left unsaid – knowing him, he’ll say them.

Did you ever reconcile with Palm? Oh, what happened with S – do you even REMEMBER S? And Palm, too; it was only a 2 week relationship, but things stick in your mind like that.

I wonder what we’re like now. I dread to think. If you’ve got married already, I’ll kick you. Joking – or am I? Did you go to uni? Did you ever meet up with Cassia again? If you didn’t, I’ll kick you, and I mean that.

I have questions for the future, and advice for the past. It’s weird, isn’t it?

Do you still love singing, and songwriting? Bloody hell, I hope you’ve at least got 10 or 15 more songs done by now. Knowing you, you won’t, but there you go.

If I read this letter in 10 years, I’ll laugh. Or will you, maybe?

What name do you go by now? Do you even GO on the internet any more? For blogging, I mean; if you’ve abandoned this, I swear to anything I believe in (which is nothing) that I willhit you.

Sorry, sorry…

Love from your younger, 15-year-old, irritating-as-hell self.

I prefer the first letter, but the second letter is genuinely how I’d talk to myself.

You’ve probably noticed that in the first letter, I talk about an event that happened when I was 11. That’s… Very complicated and I really don’t want to get into it right now. Perhaps one day, I’ll talk about it, but it’s difficult. I just wanted to say that because you may ask questions.

Merci for reading!

From Elm πŸ™‚

The Future Challenge!

EEK. Oh god, I haven’t been reading blogs. 😦

Thank you SO much to Rei for nominating me for this challenge; you’re great! πŸ™‚

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Share 5 things about your future (jobs, kids, marriage, travel etc). Then one day you can look back and find out how psychic you really are.
3. Tag 5 bloggers and put them up to the challenge.
4. Link back to the challenge creator, Dreams and Movie Screens so she can track your progress.

My 5 things about the future:
1. If I could, I would love to be a professional singer-songwriter. It’s my dream, really.
2. But I’ll probably end up working with something to do with writing, like journalism, which I’d ALSO love to do. Either that or working in a publishing house.
3. I want to go away somewhere to university that isn’t close to my house.
4. Having kids is in NO way on my priority list until I get settled, but even then I just don’t really want them. (Remind me to write a post on that).
5. I haven’t got it figured out as to if I want to see where life takes me, or if I want to plan.

And I tag:
1. Odd

2. Tosin

3. Bhramori

4. Keelin

5. Curious Teen

If you’ve done it already, you don’t have to do it again πŸ™‚

From Elm πŸ™‚