Guest Post – Elm Appreciation Post

This is a post written by my beautiful friend Gracie which made me screech with happiness when I read it. I love her and will forever be proclaiming that NONE OF THIS IS TRUE but she’s unfortunately determined and wanted to prove me wrong with this post. I hope you enjoy this and thank you, Gracie, for being a beautiful human.


Elm and I have been friends for almost three years now (although it feels as if I’ve known her forever), and I truly believe that she is my soulmate. Without her, I wouldn’t be here today, writing this post; without her, I wouldn’t have travelled internationally with friends; without her, some of the best moments of my entire life wouldn’t have happened, and without her, I truly don’t know what I’d do. We have so many incredible memories together: singing ridiculously loudly in the shower, hitting pillows, being literally telepathic and waving at one another on FaceTime (even though we’re both seasoned members of the blind squad) are just a few. We’d be here all day if I listed everything and – to be perfectly honest – none of our inside jokes would make any sense to you (literally neither of us even know what we’re talking about most of the time, so we can’t really expect anyone else to).

My favourite thing about Elm is definitely her family – don’t tell her, but the only reason I’m friends with her is because her stepmother’s stir fry is yummy, her dad and I have formed a band and her sister is good at making very, VERY alcoholic punch. Obviously I’m joking (my actual favourite thing about Elm is bullying her for her height!), but seriously, her family are some of the kindest, most loving and welcoming people on this planet, and I genuinely feel blessed to know them. Elm is absolutely just as compassionate, altruistic and benevolent as her parents, and I know that – regardless of anything – she will always be there for a phone call or a five-day-sleepover. One of my favourite memories with her is sitting in her back garden talking, with her dad showing us tomatoes and random other vegetables at arbitrary intervals, because it just felt so natural. That was the first time I’d stayed over at her house, and – from that moment onwards – I knew that there would be no pretences whatsoever, that I could be completely myself around this family, and that – even if only for a week or so – I belonged.

Both Elm and I have struggled (and are struggling still) with our mental health, which can sometimes cause a friendship to crack and splinter. With us, though, it’s achieved exactly the opposite: we calm one another down when we’re anxious; wake one another up when all we want to do is sleep; talk over feelings and emotions way into the night when we don’t feel like speaking at all, and, most importantly, we show one another the love that we can’t always show ourselves. The brilliant thing about our friendship is that it isn’t toxic: one of us doesn’t constantly vent to the other, with our issues taking precedence, but rather we mutually support each another to grow and evolve as people, regardless of how positive we’re feeling at the time.

One thing in particular that I’m crazily proud of Elm for is her journey to independence. IN the last year especially, she has started travelling independently on buses and trains, preparing and cooking food when home alone and learning walking routes in and around her local area.To most of you, that was probably a little underwhelming, but please remember that those things are difficult when you have no useful vision. Usually, both Elm and I are advocates for not posting about sight loss at every opportunity, but I had to mention the progress she’s made (I mean she’ll never admit how incredible she is herself) because I am inspired (I USED THE DREADED ‘I’ WORD!!! CRINGE) by her determination and tenacity every single day.

There will never be enough words (in any language) to enable me to articulate just how much I adore Elm, and how much her friendship means to me. She is my best friend – the one I call when I’m scared or lonely, the person who never fails to make me laugh – and I am unbelievably lucky to know her. Elm, thank you for always letting me be weird with you. Thank you for saying the most ridiculous things in stupid voices to make me laugh when all I want to do is cry. Thank you for trusting me, for letting me trust you, for always being there for me.

Thank you always,
Grace

PS: I wub.

Falling Out of Love

On a beach in Tenerife last summer, with sand blowing in my eyes and something like joy burning in my heart, I realised that I was in love with someone who I knew could never love me back. In October, my heart was thoroughly broken when I was proven right and in November, those feelings had decreased to a painful roar. By December, they’d pretty much gone completely. Whilst realising I had those feelings in the first place was certainly terrifying, the most upsetting part was watching them fade. I want to talk about that now, when it doesn’t feel like the world is falling apart.

Falling out of love is just as it sounds: you fall. The strength of the sadness is shown by whether the eventual crash to the ground is painful or not; whether you’re left miserable for months afterwards or whether the very idea of feelings scares you now. It’s the slow creeping of dread when something happens that shakes your world enough for feelings to go. In short, it hurts but it’s not the sharp pain of heartbreak: it’s slow, draining and you’re left exhausted by the end of it. However, you’re left without those feelings and that can be a good thing.

I’ve “fallen out of love” three distinct times. The first was from a toxic “friendship” that was so beautiful to start off with but it turned into something I depended on in the most unhealthy ways. The second was peaceful but equally as painful; it was realising that there are some utterly right people at the wrong times. At the third, where I didn’t know what was right or wrong, I utterly shattered. I’ve been told that for months, I was blank and so unhappy; I only remember that time in the most distant of ways. However, for all the heartbreak, each separate instance taught me new things. For that reason, I’m glad that they happened: each consecutive one hurt me worse but I gained a whole lot of perspective from them.

The loss of friends and feelings showed me that processing things, for me, can be quite difficult. I realised, the third time, that I had been purposefully blocking myself from thinking or expressing what I wanted, so much so that all of it would be suppressed until it was tangibly ripped away from me. This is why things have been so horrible; I haven’t given myself time to understand how I reacted in the past, or how other people might have reacted to me. I didn’t blame anyone for it and whilst I don’t blame anyone now, I never truly spoke about things the way I needed to. This summer is about understanding both myself and others; I’ve got potentially years’ worth of events to untangle in my head.

After I came to that realisation last summer, I started to write it all down. In the notes on my phone is a specific set of thoughts, going from 22 August to 1 September, essentially documenting what I was feeling. I had no other way to let it out. When I read over them a few days ago, it brought me back to those days but I was also so shocked at how at times happy and at times confused I was. In the mayhem of losing feelings afterwards, the positive aspects of those feelings withered away so that all I could think about was the losing, rather than the love itself. That love was so beautiful and as I still have a lot of respect for the person in question, I almost felt guilty about reading back on what I’d written.

I think back to that windy August day on a Tenerife beach and feel an acute sense of sadness but also this aching nostalgia. When I wonder what could have been, I try to remember how it was to lose feelings so strong that surviving without them seemed impossible. Well – I survived – and I don’t want to have to go back to those desperate wishes to just stop feeling like this, to just please stop because I couldn’t breathe from the unhappiness. Remembering myself back then isn’t filled with regret: it’s just sorrow that the loss of such feelings affected me so deeply.

Now, I’m in a place where the loss of feelings hasn’t occurred in a long while. I still get moments where I think about situations and get a wild spike of remembered pain but it’s not a current pain. I want to have closure – even after all this time – and sometimes, it’s very difficult to let the past be the past when it’s informed so much of what I am now. Getting closure isn’t the same as “dragging up” old memories. It’s taking those old incidents and making something new from them.

Perhaps I’ll speak to the person about how I was feeling – to all of them, if I can. Perhaps I should have done that before writing and perhaps writing this will have unpleasant consequences. I can’t bring myself to mind. I’ve spent too long holding my own mouth closed that it’s time I spoke, a little, about how I felt when I couldn’t at the time.

I don’t want warped and ruined memories any more. I want to be able to look back on the times where I was in love or when I fell out of it without the accompanying fury about myself. When I think of “falling out of love”, I don’t want to think of the crash: I want to think of the happy and the bittersweet moments, without that becoming something to obsess over.

I can’t exactly pretend that I never felt anything in the first place. All I can do is understand that they happened and that that’s okay.

I wish I could have spoken about it on my blog a bit more. However, back then, I was afraid and unable to think clearly, the thoughts too fragmented. Maybe now, I’ll start to have that freedom without simply running.

Have you ever fallen out of love? How did that affect you?

From Elm πŸ™‚

A Strange Kind of Feeling

Yesterday was my last counselling session and I don’t quite know how to feel. On the one hand I’m terrified it’s over; on the other, I have this odd sense of happiness that I don’t know how to place. It’s not a feeling I’m used to.

I sent an email to two of my teachers on Tuesday because my mental health has got to the point where I’m finding it hard to function. It started with the words, “I’m finding it incredibly difficult to write this email. However, expressing how I’m feeling in person is getting increasingly more difficult.” I still wrote it, a 700-word long email that took me an hour to put together. My mum encouraged me to talk about my feelings to the school after I’d spent a while crying to her. Without counselling, I know I couldn’t have done that.

That email was the culmination of many things. I’d gone to talk to my history teacher before the Easter holidays, terrified out of my mind because of how behind and overwhelmed I still was. In the holidays, I tried to give myself a mental break and it might not have worked to the extent that I’d wanted but it was a start. Yes, I didn’t get much work done but the alternative was to exhaust myself again.

Jane, my counsellor (or former counsellor, now) is amazing. In our last session, when I told her about the open conversations I’ve been having with my dad and the way I didn’t feel so “desperately alone” anymore, I said that – for the first time – I was properly proud of myself. That openness and honesty was because of me, not because of anyone forcing me. I’d done it when I’d felt ready, without intense amounts of pressure. It felt real, like the results were tangible. I suppose they are, really.

I can see them in the way I talk to people. As I said in my email, “I feel ill and worried pretty much all the time” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people there. I may not be okay but actual evidence, rather than paranoid fears, has shown me that I’m capable of talking to people.

Of course, there are consequences. Because of the school confidentiality rules, it’s being shown to my other teachers and the head of Sixth Form. I knew all this before I wrote and sent the email – I think it’s part of the reason I did it. I needed people to understand, to hear it through my own words. Explaining it vaguely hasn’t been enough and trying to hint at how I feel in lessons is so exhausting that I just can’t do it.

Perhaps this will change things. There may only be around 6 weeks left of proper teaching; I may not catch up on all of my work but I at least want to make a difference for myself. I’m incredibly pessimistic so it might all go to shit but the pessimism isn’t all-consuming, all the time. Having no counselling on a Wednesday is going to be painful at first and I’ll need some kind of support but it doesn’t feel insurmountable anymore. God, 6 months ago, I wouldn’t even have been able to say that sincerely, or to wish for it!

There is hope for the future. Last Saturday, I spent the day with Pearl and two other friends and we watched Love, Simon, which was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever seen. Pearl and I got lost in the cinema and spent an hour, whilst waiting for my dad to come and pick me up, talking. I didn’t feel like she was going to hate me; I didn’t feel like I was faking part of my personality to stop her hating me. It just felt nice, and happy, and calm. Examining my emotions, not criticising myself for having a good day and letting myself feel is one of the things we focused on – without explicitly stating that – in the sessions I had with Jane.

All of this is a beginning. It won’t solve everything; it hasn’t even got close. However, these achievements – whatever they’re worth – show me I’m not the worst person alive, as I said to Jane yesterday. I’m going to go back to the GP at some point but at least I know that support is there. At least I’m holding onto that support.

I have to take things one step at a time, in my own time. The feeling of relief and the lack of violent upset that accompanies that is beautiful. At least to me.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Little Positives

In the rush of life and in the mayhem of everything, I feel like I sometimes – scratch that, always – forget that there are tiny little things I should be proud of myself for doing. It’s so easy to get bogged down with all the huge things you should be doing that we can forget that yes, we’ve done important things but there are also the things that others might overlook. They’re important too; they’re what keep me going.

I saw my Head of Year today and I cried until I felt too hollowed out for words. Seeing her wasn’t as helpful as I’d have liked it to be but she did say something really worthwhile: I’ve done small things recently that are positive. In the pit of negativity I’ve plunged myself into, there are ways of looking at the little bright sparks.

Here’s a list, for you, of a few things that you might not even think are worth mentioning. They’re obvious things but that’s the beauty of it: I’ve done them, I’m still here; I’m still going. That’s what matters.

1. I got out of bed this morning, despite not wanting to.

2. I keep up my skincare routine every day, even when I don’t feel like it, because I know it makes my skin healthy.

3. I read a page of my book for English and when I wanted to give up, I read another page.

4. I spoke to my friends this morning and didn’t make an excuse that I had to do work.

5. I replied to my Twitter messages.

6. I did a little bit of singing a few days ago, just to myself, and felt the smallest thrill of happiness like I hadn’t in a while.

7. I smiled at someone as they walked past; I didn’t even know them but it felt nice.

8. I had an idea for something I might write for the school newspaper and I’m planning to write it down.

9. I didn’t want to disappear much after I cried with my Head of Year.

10. When I got the urge to message someone who’s been messing with my head recently, I didn’t do it.

11. I’m writing this blog post.

12. I have a work plan for this evening – I have an objective.

13. I’m breathing regularly.

14. Things are feeling more real than they usually do.

15. I thought the words “I love you” and didn’t get scared.

If you can take a little inspiration from this; if you can be helped by this or if this makes things feel a little less like everything’s screaming in your head, then it will let me realise that words are as powerful as ever. This list won’t magically help but it’s done a little something for me and maybe, you too. Remember that you aren’t a superhero and every single little thing you do that makes you go “Oh, I’m still going” is worthwhile. Those little achievements are impressive because you’ve completed them and only you know what that means to you.

Don’t sweep over things just because they’re small. They’re still relevant; they’re still things you’ve done. Those little things are what you should be proud of yourself for. I’m certainly proud of you, for simply carrying on as yourself and doing the smallest things which build you up, day by day.

When you start to feel down, maybe have a go at creating a list like I’ve done. It helps to show yourself what you’ve achieved and how you can move forward.

Keep going. You’re not invincible but neither are you someone who gives up, no matter what you tell yourself. Small things can make you stronger, bit by bit. You aren’t stupid for cherishing the little moments. You should smile at yourself for them.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

Trying to Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you ever feel weirdly separate from your emotions?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Chasing a Dream

Sometimes, I think that hopeless wishes can ruin a person if you think too much about them. It’s something I’ve come to realise over the past few weeks: I love to dream but if I focus on them too much, I might lose my sense of what’s real.

There’s a certain form of escapism to wishing for something so painfully, with all the love and willpower you have. It eclipses everything, to become a golden roar inside your head; it sparkles yet embraces your mind with a sinuous haze. There’s a beauty and a fragility to it because it could be broken with the slightest wind and you never know if something that you’ve been concentrating on for so long will ever happen: will it be snatched away? Will the tower of your hopes be knocked down by some overactive child? Still, it lets you forget the outside harshness for a bit – it’s not a perfect solution but occasionally, it can be comforting and can let you experience a whole new imagination which won’t have the consequences of real life. God, I wish I could have that.

It all sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I certainly think so. However, if the world recedes to be replaced by the visions behind your eyelids, you can forget the very foundations that make you up as a person and that comprise the very solid world that you live in. You can become so attached to those in your dreams, the echoes that are somehow more vibrant than those in real life, that you start to equate them with each other. This is a high generalisation but think on it: if you spend time building a hero inside your head who is only a shadow of that outside your mind, discovering that can break your heart.

Some dreams are glorious yet attainable, others wonderful in their irrationality. I may run away with them; I may linger in the fog of happiness for one more second and emerge to the steel-grey of my rational mind to find that all the feelings of bliss have been forced down into a box of wishes. Your rational conscience could tell you that what you’re looking for may not happen but there will always be that insistent inferno of hopes, burning brightly with possibility. It’s not easy to separate them: I think that to mix rationale with visceral want can be the healthiest solution but how can that be done when the lines between them blur so elegantly?

You can’t be blamed for having an imagination. When you dream, you open a whole new way of thinking which can be so lovely and healthy to do. It’s when the lines of beautiful wishes and what’s really happening don’t cross that you have to take a step back and think: what’s real inside my head? Always follow your dreams, as long as they can cross into the realms of reality and as long as following them will still connect you to the world outside your mind.

I feel like a child. Desperately hoping, when those hopes will never come to fruition, I exist in a whirling reverie. After a feverish disappointment when things don’t come to pass, I – or maybe anyone – am crushed. Is that dangerous?

Really, it’s very hard to balance cold reality with the thrill of running after an elusive fantasy. I’m not sure how well I can do it.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Bring on the Summer!

Heyy!

On Thursday, a day before the rest of the school, those that hadn’t managed to find outside work experience broke up for the summer holidays. Naturally, because I’m lazy and also couldn’t find any useful outside work experience, that included me. Today would have been a half day and the teachers thought that there was no point in us coming in. How was I to complain – it was a free day.

The end of the year was bittersweet. This week was great: I’m now the editor of the newly-formed History school magazine; that’s useful for my personal statement. I may be helping to set up another school-wide magazine too so I’m basically a 100% professional journalist. Not to mention it’s fun, along with sitting on my own in the Sixth Form area. It was surprisingly peaceful: I got things done and most of all, I was happy. I’ve figured out that school only doesn’t make me feel awful when I know I’m doing something useful and I’m surrounded by people who don’t panic me. However, two of my friends – Oak and another friend – are leaving this year. Saying goodbye to them made me feel so sad because they’ve both been here since year 7 and now, I’ll be the only VI one in my year. Oak’s also become one of my close friends and so I’ll miss her so much.

Now that I’m technically “free” for 6 weeks, I want to get my life back in gear. This year has been so emotionally exhausting, in the worst and best ways possible, and so I want my summer to be a change from that. No – I need it to be a change because otherwise I may sob.

To that end, in a similar way to Jasmine, I’ll be listing what I want to achieve this summer. She inspired me to make this so thank you for that! Maybe I won’t get all of this done but I want to approach the next month and a half with a positive mindset.

Do some work

Even if summer is for relaxation, I also need to do some schoolwork in some capacity. If I don’t, I’ll put myself at a severe disadvantage next year because we’re starting A2 content for A-Levels and I need to get on top of things. That’ll include rewriting and looking over AS-Level work notes, working on English and History coursework which involves researching, reading books for school and getting myself prepared. I didn’t apply myself last year; part of my mind-set change is to fix that. Further reading is also important but I won’t be putting so much emphasis on that because more will be put on reading for pleasure.

Look at university-related things

I may want to ignore it but university application is a looming prospect; I need to start working on it. As I discussed in this post, I need to draft my personal statement and also decide which universities I want to apply to by looking more at courses and modules. Yaaay, more brainstorming and internal (or in some cases external) screaming! If I end up actually breaking a window from my shrieks of frustration, I’ll have to apologise to my parents.

Enjoy myself at a party

I know, right? Me going to a party is so funny; I’ve only been to those types of parties twice before. However, to my shock, it’s happening again: Ivy invited me to her friend’s party. I don’t know many people there, not going to the school they all go to, but I think I’ll prefer that. I’ll always be nervous but it’s time I let go and just enjoyed myself, whatever that max mean. Either when people know me incredibly well or they don’t know me at all, I feel like I can be myself because in those situations, there’s no judgement. To that effect, tomorrow, I’m looking forward to releasing some of the emotions I’ve been feeling this year in the form of meeting new people and having a good time.

Visit my friends and connect with old ones

I’m the most happy when I’m surrounded by people who love me and who I love in return. Because of that and because I want to have as many good days as I can, I want to meet up with my friends. Not only that but I’d love to connect with some old friends, such as those I haven’t seen in a while from the VI (visually impaired) community. Rapunzel, who you can read about here is coming to stay in the first 5 days of August; I’m hopefully seeing Willow on Tuesday and I’m going shopping with Rose, Poppy and my sister at some point. It’s not being used to combat loneliness any more; it’s now a way to meet the people who make me smile the most. If I can one day meet my old primary school friend, that would be beautiful but I won’t hold out too much hope for that happening. I also miss some of my friends who left from last year but if I’m proactive, I can talk to them too.

Go volunteering and walking

These are some of the things that make me feel the most active and alive. I’m going volunteering tomorrow and I want to at least go walking once or twice a week: long walks around the park or by the river, with my dad or friends. When I’m doing those two things, I don’t feel self-consciousness: it’s equal parts peaceful and lively and with volunteering, I get to spend time with my two oldest friends and there’s the opportunity to be in the community where I can meet new people. It’s also made me more confident and outgoing.

Come to terms with my feelings

Recently, I’ve been feeling some pretty odd and, if I were in a bad mental state, scary things. Luckily, although I’m not happy constantly, I’m more okay than not and so I’m better able to deal with them. Over this summer I really want to understand why my brain works how it does. Going to see the GP will help with that; I don’t want to cry over them. I’ve done enough of that before. It’s okay to feel what you feel as long as you neither damage yourself nor others. I must remember that before I rob myself of any happiness.

Meet up with bloggers

As with last summer, I want to make arrangements to meet some more internet friends. If all goes to plan, I may be meeting Astrid which would be a dream come true because I’ve known her for so long. If you know me quite well and you want to meet up at any point, don’t be afraid to contact me: I’d love to meet some of you! One day, I’ll go to a blogging convention (I probably won’t mention who I am though) but that can wait until I’m more confident.

Properly organise my room

Is it weird that this calms me down? I have an old coin collection to clean and sort, CD’s to go through and give to charity, braille books to… What do I do with them? I feel bad if I recycle them. Anyhow, that’s just one house: at my mum’s, I need to sort out a proper shelving system for the year I’m still here because I’m getting so frustrated with the fact that I can never find my clothes because they’re misplaced. As well as that, I need to do something with my old Maths books. As you can read, I have so much to do but it’ll make me feel satisfied to do it. That’ll be one less thing to stress about and I have the whole summer to make my rooms my own again.

I’m excited for this. It’s rare now that I’m happy; I’ve been snatching up the beautiful feelings I’ve had the last couple of days and holding them close. Continuing that, through this list, will truly help me. I hope.

What will you be doing over the summer? How have you all been feeling recently! Let me know in the comments!

From Elm πŸ™‚

Speak Up for Yourself

One thing I learnt today was that sometimes, letting things slide and being passive isn’t healthy. You need to put your foot down and shout, “No, this isn’t right!”

If a situation happens to you that makes you feel awful – a friend says something hurtful, you get treated badly or you don’t want to do something – staying quiet might make things worse. Yes, it can be good to compromise on situations and to forgive but you shouldn’t do it all the time. That’s detrimental to you. It’s not fair on you either.

Say someone says something about you behind your back and you hear this from a friend. Another example is if your friends want to do something but you’re utterly averse to the idea; either that or you hear a passing mean comment about you in the corridor. Do you walk on and block your ears? Do you let it slide because you hate confrontation? A lot of people would do that and that’s totally understandable (I hate arguments or the prospect of them too) but think: should you stay silent? In a situation where your life is in danger and you may be hurt, the consequences can be a lot more serious and you should talk to someone immediately if you need help. However, in every day situations, let your mind remember that being passive shouldn’t be your default option.

Like me, if you’re ordinarily someone who doesn’t like confrontation and so doesn’t speak up, breaking that cycle can just emphasise the importance of your point. Whether you’re known for directly saying what you think, it can give you a measure of power over the situation. You’re telling the person that you don’t accept this; you’re letting them know that you won’t just roll over and let them control how you feel. If it’s serious enough to make you speak about it, then they should take note of how much it took for you to say something and therefore realise what a shitty thing they did.

If you’re worried about the consequences – as I always am – let me reassure you. In most cases, you telling whoever you need to tell how you feel won’t result in a permanent falling out. Don’t worry about hurting them although I know that won’t stop the anxiety. My sister, who is one of the most sensible people when it comes to this thing that I know, told me that sometimes people need to know they’ve been petty or awful. There may be some disagreement if that happens, know that it can actually make them think about your point of view and treat you better in the future. If they don’t listen and an argument ensues, maybe they aren’t such a considerate person after all. It’s not your fault if you want to voice your opinion. It’s not up to you how they respond and if they respond negatively to you standing up for yourself, I have to say it bluntly: think about whether you really want to be as close to them as you thought. I understand how hard it is, especially when you’re paranoid about losing friends, but you can’t push your happiness aside in order to appease someone else or avoid an argument.

The fact is, you’re human and can only take so much before you break. I know it’s difficult but it’s far better to break and show someone else just how upset you are than internalise that sadness and anger. I speak from experience when I say that misplaeed anger is one of the worst things that can happen to you because it leaves you feeling hollow and empty, without any kind of closure. Your humanity makes it really understandable as to why you’d want to say something: listen to your instincts.

You aren’t a doormat. You aren’t to be controlled; you aren’t someone who should be trodden on or victimised. Don’t let yourself be victimised because otherwise, people will think it’s okay to treat you like that. My Head of Year told me, today, that I should start to speak more and assert myself: I’m giving that advice to you too because you should never be treated like some kind of object or something to be thrown around.

Find your inner voice and use it in the real world. You’re strong enough to tell even the closest person to you that no: you’re not okay with this.

Speak up.

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to speak up but couldn’t? How about in the reverse: have you ever spoken up in a situation and had good consequences stem from it? How did it make you feel?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Why Telling the Truth is Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Elm πŸ™‚

Why I Love Me Tag!

I’m a culprit of disliking myself sometimes. I find ways to criticise parts of my personality, without restembering that there’s plenty that I do actually love about me. So, this tag – created by Tash is perfect to remind me.

Thank you so much for nominating me, you beautiful human. You honestly brighten up my day because you know exactly how to make me feel better: you spread positivity, something that all of us need right now. Creating this tag is just the start of that positivity.

The Rules:
1. Post the award on your blog
2. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you
3. Leave a link to the original tag creator (ThoughtfulTash) to get a bit more info about WHY this tag has been created!
4. Write 10 things you love about YOURSELF and WHY
5. Nominate at least 5 other bloggers
6. In the comments of the blog post, spread more self-love with compliments to each other!

WHY I LOVE ME:
1. My laugh
I love how varied it is. My quiet laugh is soft; when I try to stop myself from laughing it turns into a wheezing giggle and the best part of my laugh is when I lose control of it. I sort of screech and can’t stop; I love it because it makes other people smile and makes me feel unaccountably happy. It’s neither restrained nor forced.

2. My weird phrases
As the people who have spent enough time around me will know, I sometimes come out with the weirdest things. It’s part of what makes me me – I’ve said “Awww diddums!” too many times recently; “Ohh nooo I feel so sorry for you your life is so hard oh dear” in the most dead and sarcastic voice ever; I’ve also said “I’m going to burn your house down!” even though I’m scared of fire. It’s an original part of my personality and isn’t changed by anyone: it’s the true me and when I say things like that, I know I’m utterly being myself and not hiding behind anyone else. Also, they’re just funny to say and it shows I don’t care about what people think of me.

3. My singing voice
This is another thing that hasn’t been changed by other people. My voice is strong and I can hit the notes in my register: it’s improved and I love singing so much. The main thing I love about it is that I’ve retained my accent; even if it makes words harder to sing, I almost sing how I speak. It makes me feel more genuine because I’m not trying to put anything on and I know I’m not faking anything.

4. My writing style
I have a great vocabulary and I can utilise that to express my feelings. My writing flows naturally: I can tell when to be formal and informal. I also know how to help people with my writing because for me, writing goes hand in hand with helping.

5. My kindness
Whatever happens, I always strive to be kind to people. Even if they’ve been awful to me or hurt me, I’ll always try to be the bigger person. I know that I’d always lend a hand to literally anyone that needs it: I feel positively about my personality for it.

6. How I look after my health
I may not do much exercise but I look after my skin and body – I do stretches because my muscles are tight and I wash my face every day, as well as having a routine. It makes me feel positive and grounds me in place if that makes sense – I love it because I’m taking control of a part of my life.

7. My love of books
I love all types of books: fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction – anything. When I talk about books, I feel happy and become animated; I could rant about a good book for years. In fact, I’ve been known to cry because of how happy a book has made me. People don’t see this side of me often but when it does come out, I go into full fangirl mode and it makes me grin.

8. My hair
Though I don’t have a perception of what the colour is, I’m told it’s a lovely shade of brown. It’s thick, going down to my mid-back and when I brush it, it feels so smooth – it’s naturally straight too. I love it because it’s something that I’ve never criticised: feeling it being blown by the wind is a glorious feeling and brushing it calms me down.

9. My music
Not only do I love how I don’t restrict myself in my music taste, I love how I can write songs. When I get inspiration, everything just fits together: I know how to get my meaning across in lyrics; it’s a form of poetry to me. I combine art and writing well and I know I’m good at it: I won’t sell myself short.

10. My dedication to my blog
Through all the turbulance of life, I’ve kept to this blog. Even when I felt like giving up, I persevered – I really admire that about myself. I never stopped and never truly wanted to; it’s something I love with all my heart.

My nominations:
1. Lu

2. Cheyenne

3. Kate

4. Aspen

5. Mahriya

I hope you enjoy doing this and spread the love, everyone! You’re all brilliant. Never criticise yourself for something that other people adore about you.

From Elm πŸ™‚