Everything’s a Bit Strange

It strikes me as weird how there are 20 days of proper school left. Instead of making the most of them, I’m sitting here writing a blog post for the first time in two weeks and it feels… Disorientating.

I’m not sure how I feel about leaving my writing for so long. It’s a mix of guilt and just a bit of confusion. In fact, those “bits of confusion” are dominating my life at the minute. From slightly horrifying conversations with people to freaking out about dresses, to violent stabs of guilt, to fucking up friendships, to then freaking out about the potential “date” I’m going on on Sunday? There are too many emotions which contrast with one another. I don’t know.

I’ve realised something. When I don’t write, my life invariably gets way too overwhelming. I don’t know if not writing means I can’t cope and so the shitshow starts, or if the shitshow starts which stops me from writing. Thinking about that makes me panic and I leave it even longer, so that I don’t know what to say when I come back. Really, I don’t know if I can say anything worthwhile.

Last week, I didn’t leave the house in three days because I was ill and could barely move. I went to the GP last Tuesday, absolutely terrified, and got a referral to the mental health service in my area. Again. Hopefully, this time, I can get my shit together enough to be able to get somewhere. Before I went back to school, the last person I’d “socialised” with was Pearl (a girl I’ve been talking to for just over a month) which is a whole other bunch of WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? that I’ll get into, once I’ve seen her again on Sunday. Suffice it to say that I don’t know what’s happening but I’m not complaining about that lack of knowledge, at least when it comes to her.

Somehow, I submitted something for my history coursework. I cried at the weekend because I was so stressed about the entire thing; I experienced what I can only term as being so scared that I lost complete control over my thoughts. My dad was there to see it and just spoke to me; my mum has also been great for the past two weeks. So then why do I feel worse than ever? It must be because I feel guilty for wasting their time and I feel guilty for talking to nobody for ages.

I would love to be able to speak to people, to carry on conversations, but I struggle with doing so many things and even with just moving sometimes. It makes me so exhausted to talk about it that I inevitably don’t. For instance, I’m going to a party today – my friend Willow had her birthday recently – and I’m really looking forward to it but at the same time, I’m paranoid about getting there for no reason. I don’t speak about it because I’m worried people will ridicule me, or tell me I’m being too irrational for them. That’s what it’s been like: I know people wouldn’t tell me I was being ridiculous but something in me convinces itself and I can’t let go of it.

Yesterday, I tried on a dress for this party and didn’t feel awful. I felt blank, sure, but not disgusting. When I go prom dress shopping tomorrow, I hope that feeling will carry through. Today, I’m just trying to stay calm and to not have a constant mantra of “stop everything stop stop stop”.

I have to break my flow of whatever I’m saying to write that I’m frustrated. This is too disjointed and too confusing; I wish my words flowed better. I need to go back to a time where I felt fully with my words, where I could write them down as easily as speaking about something I love. It’s upsetting me and I wish it wasn’t.

Short of distracting myself with work – which I’ve done – I didn’t know what else to do. The fact that I didn’t go on social media for a long time probably didn’t help with that but I couldn’t cope with the stress of talking to people when I couldn’t talk to myself easily. All of it built into a sort of internal scream and I didn’t speak to my family for a bit, although I did spend time with them.

There are 20 days of proper school left and I just hope I can make the most of them, rather than wasting that time. There’s so much pressure that I don’t know how to hold. At some point, I’ll release that pressure in a more measured way. Just not now.

This was simply yelling onto a screen, which is the best kind of yelling. I didn’t plan this; I wrote with no coherency; I think I vaguely ranted. When I read back over this, I’ll cringe. However, writing it has exhausted me and if I’m being honest, the fear that people will think I’m blowing this out of proportion, or they’ll sigh out of irritation and think I’m bullshitting, is creeping up on me.

But at least I’m writing. At least I’m saying something, rather than shutting myself away. It feels too overwhelming now but soon, I’ll get re-used to being able to do things. Maybe it might make me want to cry at the moment but in the future, I’ll be able to write out how I feel again and to be able to savour the feeling of feeling more free. This is me at my worst, writing-wise, so surely it can only go up from here?

I’ve missed blogging. I’ve missed talking to people, even when I just felt like I couldn’t. I’ve missed interacting with the world and feeling like it’s interacting back, the support, the way it felt to unleash my thoughts in something more together than a jumble. To that end, I want to talk more. I might need time, but I still want to have that time and then invest it into reconnecting with something I love.

How are you all doing?

From Elm 🙂

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 🙂

My Period Experiences | #ThePeriodParty

Do you want to see an end to period poverty and the shame that surrounds talking about periods? I certainly do and so I bring you my contribution to #ThePeriodParty. This post might be a little different to my usual, in that I’ll be talking about my personal experiences with the wonderful “menstrual Cycle,” but that’s the point to this movement. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little to make a difference, in whatever way I can.

What is #ThePeriodParty?

Set up by the wonderful Ash, this is a movement to inspire people of all ages and genders, to talk about periods, to remove the stigma around them and to spread awareness of the people who can’t afford sanitary products or who are prevented from going to school, spending time doing the things they love or from feeling comfortable because society has not given them the opportunity. You can read Ash’s post for more info and to learn how to get involved; I’ll be putting some ideas at the bottom of this post as wel.

In an effort to help those who don’t feel as comfortable, I’m going to be sharing some of the highlights or not – of my periods over the years. They make me cringe to this day but it’s good to talk about it because now, I can have a good laugh over them.

My Period

I started my period when I was 11, the age my sister started. I couldn’t tell you what happened – I don’t remember precisely what I was feeling – but what I do know is that it took me ages to properly realise how to use a pad because i wasn’t quite sure how to ask my mum or sister. Tampons were another story – I’ll get onto that in a little while.

It was a case of trial and error in finding the right products for me. On the first day of my period, it’s not that bad but for the next 2-3 days after that, it’s the equivalent of of a waterfall and it’s horrendous. That brings me onto my first story…

The Classroom Incident

I was 13, very much prone to embarrassment and still trying to figure out my “cycle.” RE, or religious education, was the last lesson of the day and I remember it being around the second day of my period. I was doing well, congratulating myself on avoiding any “accidents” when I stood up at the end of the lesson.

I was wearing a skirt with no tights on. I stood up and immediately, I knew something was wrong. Turns out that there was blood on my leg and the sheer horror I felt, knowing people could see it (because there was a fair bit of it) caused me to run out of the classroom. I actually ran because I was so embarrassed.

Unfortunately, people remembered it for a while afterwards and so I absolutely refused to talk about my period to anyone until the next one came around. Ever since then, I’ve kept pads in my bag for emergencies.

The Tampon Incident

I’d not had a very good relationship with tampons when I first started. I’d tried to use one when I was 12 and didn’t understand how so I stopped trying. That meant that I couldn’t ever swim whilst on holiday and I had the constant anxiety that the Classroom incident would occur again. When I was 16, I’d had enough. I asked my mother to buy some tampons for me because I didn’t have a clue and I also asked her to tell me how to wear one.

And it didn’t go well. I ended up crying and getting so frustrated with it that i thought I’d never be able to do it. So, what did I do? I looked it up online and when my mum went out, I tried again. It took me a while to figure out how to not stab myself with the tampon, I’ll be honest.

I followed the instructions and somehow managed to successfully do it, but then I had no idea how I’d done it. I couldn’t feel it but then I got irrationally terrified it’d be stuck inside me forever and so I took it out after 2 hours when the recommended amount of time is four. I’ve got much more comfortable with wearing them now and they’re sometimes a necessity if my period is particularly bad.

The Thailand Incident

Over the last 3 years, I’ve been getting really bad cramps. Some have been so bad that I had to go home from school because I could barely stand up. One of the worst times was in the summer of when I was 16, when I went to Thailand.

We’d gone shopping with some of my stepmother’s friends and gone out for dinner afterwards. I felt really off and I ached but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. As we were walking around and the sky got darker and darker, I started slowly to get more exhausted and then the pain started. When this happens, I feel so sick that I utterly lose control of my emotions.

I don’t remember much but I do know that I tried to curl up on the ground at one point and I could barely walk. I was crying, I think, and everything was blurring around me so that I didn’t know where I was. Eventually we got home but I still had no idea what was going on and it felt like something was scooping my insides out with a fork. Since then, it’s only been that bad once. On that occasion, I’d got 5 hours of sleep, hadn’t eaten for 18 hours and was so exhausted that it was the closest I ever got to utterly passing out.

The Crying Incidents

This isn’t a specific incident but a culmination of many. Usually 3 days before my period, the beautiful and kind PMS starts. Mine involves becoming a complete bitch, exhibiting far too much emotion and, well, crying.

I snap at my family, shut down a lot or go to the other extreme and start telling everyone how upset I feel for no good reason. If I think I’m bad now, with a long time to go before my period, it’s nothing compared to how irritating I get a few days before. I feel so sorry for my friends sometimes although what’s good about them is that regardless of whether they get periods or not, they’re so understanding.


There you have it – 4 of my “Period stories”! I hope you ejoyed them and cringed as much as I did.

how you can get involved

If this inspired you, or if Ash’s post did, there are some things you can do to get involved.
You can sign the petition which calls on the government to give those who receive free school meals to also receive free sanitary products.
You can get involved on social media using the hashtag #ThePeriodParty so that anyone – whether they have a blog or not – has a chance to hear about this campaign.
You could start talking about it offline, to people you know from school or work, so that talking about periods can be done everywhere – not just on the Internet.
Anyone can do this – any age, any gender, any period experience – this is about open discussion and spreading awareness.

I’d like to take a moment to thank Ash for being so proactive and using her thoughtful, creative personality to make a true difference. I’m so incredibly proud of her, what she’s done and what she will do. It’s up to us to spread this message and I, for one, will be doing everything I can to help those who need it.

From Elm 🙂

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 🙂

Replaced in Stasis

I am frozen.

It’s like I’m ice, cracked, sparkling and yet breakable when dropped on the ground. It’s like I’m snow, tumbling down in little flakes, trying to be 3 at once and melting as soon as I flitter through the air. It’s like I’m dust, flailing into existence, twirling through that dance by myself with a thousand others never quite touching me. It is like I am invisible.

I am a mat, coloured in soft greens and baby blues, furrowed and nondescript. For people to pass over me is okay, to exchange me for an intricate rug, threaded with beads and starbound circles. I am content to lay dormant, only rising to be a cardboard cut-out whilst those worth more than a rusting sixpence fly. Bitterness is beneath me, stamped out by my paper hands. I refuse to feel unfairness trickling away like sand. Cardboard doesn’t feel, right?

Snow is content, time and time again, to let others fall past them with delicacy. Ice does not feel worthless when broken into the sea and replaced by sturdier, stronger, surer ice. Cardboard does not scream when it is replaced by glossy paper that understands emotions, that can be flawed but still retain humanity. I am no paper, no better snowflake, no alluring ice. I am cracked without the allure.

Reassured while my plummeting heart tries to thaw, I am told I am everything, yet shown I am nothing. Smoke falls over my hands, reaching, asking, never quite touching. The whispers of others, better, better, better, roar into my ears. They fall away. Actions cry louder than words. Therefore, my heart blanks over again, cardboard sliding over chipped stone.

I am cold, receding into thinness and terror and flawed passivity. Threads of gold stretch on into the distance, snipped half-heartedly yet not enough to sever ties. It is only enough to hurt, the sibling of fate rushing off to take care of another thread. It is left hanging by an atom, the last string of hope clinging desperately. It frosts over, hiding something explosive beneath a mirror of frozen hopelessness.

⠠⠃ I am burning, too bright, snuffed out like a spark of candle-flame. I am raging, self-contained and shaking. It is like I am a volcano, lain passive for so long, finally about to erupt.

When I break, I will leave destruction like petals in my wake. There may be a circle of my presence, trembling at the depth of humanity. When I shatter, people will glance over, never quite knowing that this is real. If I finally realise that I am worth something, I may change the world.

Before it changes me.

From Elm 🙂

BIRTHDAY BADGE: Elm is 1…8?

When a friend has something great happen to them, I have two in-built responses.
1. I smile politely, congratulate them on their achievement, and then back off to a corner to bitterly sulk as to why they are so much better than me and why they can do everything that I am so bad at.
2. I squeak in excitement, give them a huge hug and tell them – genuinely – how proud of them I am, because I care about them, and they are a close enough friend for their successes to feel like my own.

Elm – our dear Elm – is one of these amazing, close friends, and it gives me such pride to be here today, writing her 18th birthday post. Happy birthday, elm, and welcome to adulthood.
[This is the part where I give the ‘words of wisdom’, but I’m 16 and pretty thick so hahaha good luck Elm!]
I hope you are having a brilliant day, filled with fun, laughter, and your friends and family.
And cake. because cake is good.

I didn’t feel worthy of writing such a momentous post all by myself, so I enlisted the help of some fabulous bloggers and Internet pals, to wish our dear tree leader a happy coming-of-age.

Ocean
Blog
Twitter
“Happy Birthday Elm! I can’t believe you are 18, I think we started talking when you were only 15 or 16. You are such a fantastic friend and a wonderful person and I feel privileged to call you my friend. I admire your dedication to blogging and how you help so many people with what you write. Never forget how far you have come, I know some days are hard but so far you have got through every shitty day which shows just how strong you are. Happy Birthday once again, from Ocean”

Sav
Blog
Twitter
“As someone who’s kept me grounded like an anchor and kept me on the right trail, it’s only fitting you have a slightly above average birthday because of all the residue this past year has left on you”

Gracey
Blog
Twitter
“Elm, you’re absolutely definitely truthfully the worst person I’ve ever met and I hate you. By that I mean that I love you so, so much and I think you’re amazing! You’re so strong, intelligent, independent and hilarious, and I couldn’t wish for a better gal pal. I adore you, weirdo. Keep going, and a massive happy birthday from meeeee! X”

Kirithika
Blog
Twitter
“You know Elm, I don’t know you nearly as well as I’d like to, something I’m hoping to change in 2018! But from what I do know, I know that you’re so kind and selfless and always there to voice your support for people however big or small the issue. And beyond that, you show your support for happy things too! It’s easy enough to chuck out some heart emojis under a sad tweet but it requires authenticity to go ahead and share your joy under a happy tweet. I really do like that about you. You’ve shared a lot of struggles with us over the past few months and I’m proud to see the progress you’ve made, I only hope that you find more happiness over the next year and beyond! Happy Birthday Elm :)”

Em
Blog
Twitter
“Elmm!! Welcome to the 18 (or 81 😂) club – we’re all old here and have to take several naps to get through the day, but it’s all good fun! Thank you for blessing the blogging community with your beautiful writing, but most importantly thanks for being such a kind and caring friend. I hope you have the loveliest birthday – you really deserve it! xx”

Astrid< a href=”https://www.hideawaygirl.com/”>BlogTwitter “ELM I LOVE YOU SO MUCH- I hope to Skype with you more and to have a massive catch up 🙂 thank you for always supporting me and other people who are in such hard times and when you write about your experiences, you’re helping people massively as they know they aren’t alone so thank you Elm 🙂 I hope you’re gonna have an awesome 18th birthday, you’re an adult now; I have an adult friend OMFG!! Haha, I wish you the best year and I LOVE YOU :)”

Dziey< a href=”https://dzieyy.wordpress.com/”>BlogTwitter “Happy birthday Elm! You’re the star of WordPress and I hope you have a very very awesome birthday!”

It’s so heartwarming to see the lovely things that everyone has to say about Elm: she is such a key part of the blogging community, and a foundation in so many friendship groups both on and offline. I’m honoured to be classed as Elm’s friend each and every day, and it always makes me smile when something great happens to her, because she deserves it more than anyne else I know.

Bethany< a href=”https://bethanyandbooks.wordpress.com/”>BlogTwitter “Happy birthday Elm!!! It’s crazy to think that you’re 18 now, an adult. Sorry, I didn’t want to make you feel old in any way, whoops. Anyway, I just wanted to say a huge thank you for always being there for me this year. I always feel like you’re my mini cheerleader which always makes me smile and also convince myself to keep going with this blogging thing and to even start expanding that next year! I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for you and I hope I can come along for the ride, if only through a screen. Happy birthday!! Xxx”

Eve< a href=”https://www.twistinthetaile.com/”>BlogTwitter “Elm – I am so lucky to know you, I can’t believe we have been blogging friends for so long. You always write beautiful & relatable posts, many of which have really helped me. You support others so much and are genuinely just super wonderful. GO YOU ❤️ Happy birthday, I hope you have a great day!”

JasmineBlogTwitter “ELMMMM – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! A year ago (oh my gosh i’ve known you for a yearrrr) when I was just starting out blogging and you commented on my posts, I had no idea you would become a person I trust and respect so, so much. You’re such a lovely, kind and supportive person that puts absolutely everyone above yourself. Your caring nature has made you practically a role model figure in the blogging community, even a motherly figure! (which is a compliment I promise😂) It’s an absolute pleasure to know you Elm, you’re an amazing human, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!! Have the most AMAZING 18th full of fun and laughter, you deserve that and more Enter adult life with a blast!! Xxxx Elm: you have achieved so, so much in the first 18 years of your life — as a child. The rest of your life lies ahead of you, waiting for you to take charge of it. I know you will, and I know you will have every success going in the future, and I simply can’t wait to observe that for myself. You’re strong, caring, funny and so, so much more, and I can say with every certainty that those who are lucky enough to know you are just that — lucky. They are lucky, like me, because you are the most fabulous person I know.<br<br
ohol nowww LOL

This year, it can be your birthday.<br
t;

How I Write my Blog Posts!

A long time ago, I said that I’d write a post about, well, how I write posts. (It kind of makes my blog feel self-aware and now I’m creeped out). Finally, I present you with this mismatched pile of ideas so that you can get a look into how I write and what I do to get the best blog post possible that I’m satisfied with. That’s why I say “form” because there’s a lot more work than just writing the words. Usually.

This post is inspired by Jasmine and another one by Smiling Dreamer. If you haven’t read their blogs before, DO IT because they are such amazing people AND I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!

Inspiration

Usually, inspiration comes to me from a random thought I have in the middle of the day. Whether it’s to do with my personal life, the people around me or something poetic I’ve heard or thought of, it makes my brain spin in a whirl of ideas. If I know I’ll forget it, I write it down on my computer (I wish I could write in a blogging notebook, honestly). However, I’ll usually be thinking about it all day, formulating little ideas from that first snippet of inspiration. It’s a literal mind map.

Planning

For very long posts or posts that I find especially difficult to write, I do a lot of planning. The posts like that are ones about events I’ve been to, very emotional posts or posts where I give advice to you because I’m LITERALLY AWFUL. I write down initial ideas, often phrases or words that I really want to include. After that, I organise it into vague paragraphs (because I’m a disorganised child and never stick to it). When I’m done with initial ideas, I check through it and add anything else. (God I wish I had a notebook because I can’t use one)

Actually Writing the Thing

After I plan it, I spend about 5 minutes thinking about how I want to write it. It’s to organise my thoughts mostly but also to not stress myself out. I write below my plan – hardly ever in the WordPress editor itself unless I’m feeling rebellious and just want to write. When I write, I usually write constantly until it’s done; if I get distracted I’ll stop writing. When that happens, I come back to it later in the day when I’m in the mood to write. An important thing is to never force your words out: make sure you’re enjoying the writing or if not enjoying then you’re enthusiastic about it. If blogging turns into a chore, you may end up feeling unhappy with your finished post because it’s not what you wanted to write. (I wrote write too many times and now it doesn’t feel like a word)

Proofreading because My Grammar is Terrible

I never used to proofread but ever since I realised that I loved writing more than I loved most things, it’s become an important step in the way I write. Embarrassingly, I’ve made some painful spelling mistakes in my old posts that I didn’t even notice so now, I use spell-checker to catch the big mistakes. Then, I proofread once in depth and then once to check that it flows nicely and actually sounds intelligible. The worst thing is publishing and realising that you’ve written a run-on sentence that sounds horrendous when you read it back to yourself. Whilst I’m at it, I add any formatting like headings and italics in the editor because although I can’t see it, you guys can and I want to emphasise some words or make things organised. If you don’t proofread then don’t worry; it’s not an essential part of blogging but if it makes you feel better then do it! I think blogging should be doing what you want rather than following too much advice that you don’t actually think will help.

Tags and Categories and All That Jazz

I think this is one of the most important steps for me personally because it means more people interact with your work. After I’ve put my post in the editor and formatted it, I get into the tagging part. Call me shallow but getting comments really makes me happy and tags means that more people are likely to enjoy your writing. I usually do a lot of tags (but no more than 12 or so because it doesn’t appear on the tags themselves if you do more than 15 plus categories). I also categorise my posts so that they’re more organised and if readers look at my blog itself, they can actually find things without trawling through pages of blog posts. I’d get bored, too. Also, because I’m paranoid, I check the spelling of tags twice just in case I overlooked it the first time.

Sharing is Caring Right??

I publicise my blog to Twitter so that it posts automatically: I usually add a message to the tweet that’s either supposed to be funny (it never ends up being) or it explains a tiny bit of what the post is about. As well as that, I write excerpts if the beginning of the post doesn’t summarise the post itself. I only started really using excerpts recently so I’m still figuring out how they work. Someone help me???

Publish!

Is it just me that gets mildly terrified when I publish a post that’s particularly personal? I also get a bit worried if I’ve worked hard on it and it turns out to be crap. However, if I have worked on the post for ages, I know I’ve put my all into it and there’s nothing more I can do. Well I mean, I could write for a billion hours but there’s that little thing called life…

Although I say I have a long process, I don’t always stick to it. It no longer stresses me out when I don’t; I’ve learnt that flexibility is really important and that if I change my routine a bit or leave one small step out, it doesn’t make me a bad blogger.

If you write posts in a different way, I’d love to know about it! Everyone writes differently so it’ll be really interesting to see how you do it – or if you don’t have a system.

From Elm 🙂

Small Goals for This Year | Back to School

On Tuesday, at 11 o’clock, I’m going back to school. I’m officially starting year 13 – the second year of A-Levels – and I couldn’t be more shit scared. Why? Because I can’t let this year be like last year.

I’ll set the scene of what might happen: me, in a boring outfit, frantically attempting to find what will probably be my new form room. When people speak to me, I’ll be either shriekingly hyper or monosyllabic. Then, I’ll sit like a zombie for 3 hours whilst the obligatory start-of-year notices, admin and people complaining about how much they don’t want to start lessons go on. If I get little sleep the night before, I’ll be dead tired as usual. There’s apparently a barbecue for years 12 and 13 after school ends that first day and if I do end up going, I’ll be actually socialising for the first time in weeks. When I go home, I sincerely doubt I’ll do much apart from freak out about how much work I haven’t done.

No. Fuck that. That was how last year started and I won’t let this year start that way: there’re too many important things going on for me to let that happen. Take, for example, university applications, positive mindsets, looking after my mental health: I can’t let myself retreat back into that pit of numbness that has been my thought process since last October. If I do then bye-bye, good grades!

Last year, I made a big list of pretty admirable goals. Unfortunately, because I’m unmotivated and a month after school started my mental health crashed, I completed none of them. I know it wasn’t my fault but I let that severely affect me. This time, I won’t make that mistake: here are some tiny goals for first few days of school. If I complete them, great; if I don’t then it’s no big deal because I still have a lot of time to try.

When I get back from school the first day or two, I’ll spend 10 minutes away from literally everything to try and calm my mind down. It’s a bit like meditation but I’ll put myself in a place where I have nothing to distract me because sometimes, when I got home from school, I’d be so unhappy and tired that I’d do no work. Hopefully, after I’ve done that, I’ll feel a bit more relaxed, enough to do something with the rest of my day.

I want to read every single night. Whether that be a tiny bit of my book or some blogs, I need to make my brain more active rather than slipping into exhaustion. Ugh, it’s going to be difficult but I love reading so it should make me happy? I bloody well hope so! I already started two nights ago so it should make me more dedicated.

Oh yeah: I need to work on improving my mindset. After a panic attack I had on Results Day because of emotions I’d experienced the day before, I’ve agreed to speak to my old Head of Year to try and sort stuff out. If I forget, I’ll look back on this post because I need to get that done quickly. I really don’t want people to have to see me terrified out of my mind in school like that again.

Before school, in the first few days, I might go and sit by myself for a bit so that I don’t jump straight into talking to people. Because I often miss out mentally preparing myself for the day I can get snappish and internally very very exhausted. I was told by some wise person or other that if you start your day off well, it’s more likely you’ll feel good in the rest of it. Yayy positivity! (Can you tell I didn’t get much sleep last night?)

Blogging. I need to get better at that but in a more relaxed way. At the weekend after school begins, I’ll write some blog posts: part of my reading will be blog posts from other people. Only then will I allow myself to go on social media because it can often serve as a huge distraction for me as well. It’s all about dividing up my time with the things I love vs. what I have to do but not so rigidly that I get stressed when I deviate. I love blogging with everything I have but I won’t let it turn into a chore: you guys have helped me so much that I know not to get stressed about it any more.

If I think that this year will go as badly as the last with many internal breakdowns and terrified evenings where I did nothing, it will be. I need to approach this with a positive thought rather than the idea of everything being doomed. I’ve always been a worst case scenario thinker but if I start to change that in a little way now, maybe that can transfer to it being the case in all parts of my life. It’ll take time but I’ll be on this blog every step of the way. I may be scared constantly but I can turn that fear around into something positive.

I forgot just how much writing my unplanned thoughts out helps. When I started this post, I had the vaguest idea of what I wanted to write down but it only formulated into small goals as I was typing. It’s funny how much connecting yourself to the best parts of your life can make you the happiest.

If you’re stressed about starting school, honestly take it one day at a time. Don’t think too far ahead into the future right now because it can make you even more panicked. Also, remember that things are going to improve. This year isn’t going to be easy because of all the things that may happen but you know what? I can manage. I will get through it and I won’t just do that: I’ll succeed and be happy.

If you’ve started school already, how’s it going? If you haven’t, how’re you feeling about starting again?

From Elm 🙂

The Mystery Blogger Award!

It’s been so long since I’ve done an award and I’m sat here mildly disgusted at myself for being so bad at this!

I was nominated by the lovely pair at Findthebeautyy to do this! I found their blog recently and think they’re fantastic; check them out if you want a wonderful variety of posts! Thanks for nominating me; it means a lot.

Although I’ve done this award once before, I thought I’d revisit it because I remember loving it so much. Created by OkotoEnigma, it’s described by her as “An award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.” I think that this perfectly captures the essence of blogging!

The Rules

1. Put the award image or logo on your blog.
2. Thank the person that nominated you and link their blog in your post.
3. Name the creator of this award and link their blog in your post.
4. List the rules.
5. Answer your nominator’s questions.
6. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
7. Nominate 10-20 people.
8. Ask your nominees 5 original questions of your choice.
9. Share links to your best blog posts.
10. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
There’s so much variety in this and it makes me happy! Right, here we go.

Findthebeautyy’s Questions

1. What is your reason for starting your blog?
I needed a place to vent my feelings out – an outlet – and I wanted to help people with their feelings too because everyone deserves to be heard. After the end of my last blog, I wanted to start again and I thought Elm was the perfect name and way with which to do it. Turns out I was right and if I can help at least one person through this, I’ll be happy.

2. What motivates you?
Motivation has always been a struggle but the main thing is when I know it’ll help me or someone else. Also, my life experiences give me motivation to either do something or not do something: when doing work, my main motivation is that I know that in the long run, it’ll have a positive outcome. Then again, I do have short bursts of that motivation; I need to work on it.

3. What is the most important thing to you?
This is so painfully cliché but it’s making people happy and helping them. I thrive most when helping others rather than myself and I think it’s so important to make other people smile. Of course I’ll look after myself but for me, I’m happy when others are too. Luckily, it’s a principle that has remained constant for me.

4. Who’s the most important person in your life?
Ahhh I’m not sure; I can’t name one specific person. My dad is very important to me as well as my friends and someone I was previously in a relationship with as all of them shape me as a person. It’s so difficult to choose – nope, I can’t do it. I’m so indecisive!

5. What makes you happiest on a bad day?
Having fun with friends which lets me remove the sadness. I really like positive atmospheres and so when I’m laughing, I’m the most happy even when I’m miserable. Smiling makes everything better, I think.

3 Things about Myself

1. I hate the feeling of sand on any part of my body apart from my hands.
2. I hardly ever watched TV when I was younger; I just listened to audiobooks and played outside.
3. When I laugh too hard I cry and then people often ask me what’s wrong; also my laugh is one of the most obnoxious things you could ever hear.

My Nominations

1. Sunset
2. The Anonymous Girl Writes
3. Formerly Myself
4. Maitreyee
5. Astrid
6. Smiling Dreamer
7. Indiesonglyrics
8. The Small Quiet One
9. Just A Blank Space
10. Rainbow Girl
11. Elsie LMC

Whether I’ve found these blogs yesterday or two years ago, all of them have beautiful writing styles and are unique in how they express themselves.

My Questions for You

1. Have you ever been in love?
2. What’s your favourite instrument and why?
3. What do you admire about yourself?
4. If you could take one lesson you’ve learned from blogging away with you, what would that be?
5. At the moment, what’s the thing you most want to do?

My Best Blog Posts

I critique myself a lot so this will be really difficult.
My Blog in the Real World
I’m Not Scared to Say What my Fears Are
Why I Write How I Do

I hope you enjoy answering those questions and if you don’t know any of the bloggers I’ve listed in my nominations, check them out! You won’t regret it.

Love from Elm 🙂

I Felt like I Belonged

On Friday, I was involved in a music competition for school. In our school, we have five ‘houses’ and on Sports Day and other such activities, we compete to see who will win – which my house never does. I never got involved in Sports Day by doing sports because I’m lazy as hell; I only volunteered this year to help the younger years with non-sport related activities. As a result, I didn’t have much involvement with the house system before this year. For the second year in a row, a House Music event was held; it was the first I performed in and it couldn’t have gone better.

Although I sing, I hardly ever sing with school or in a group of people at school; I used to belong to chamber choir but I quit and because of that, I haven’t been asked to perform at concerts. I didn’t use my initiative to volunteer even this time: one of my best friends, Pine, who has been friends with me since the very start of year 7, is a music leader – a sixth former who helps organise concerts and gets things in order. She, along with the other music leaders from my house, suggested that I get involved because they knew I had a history of singing and performing. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the guts to want to be part of it.

When I was in choir, rehearsals were a weekly event for me; ever since I left, I had all days free. However, with house music, one day a week – mostly – was dedicated to rehearsing. I tried to turn up for every one and thanks to the house leaders’ brilliant organisation, things ran smoothly except for one piece – Skyfall – that had to be scrapped which was really sad. We had three other pieces apart from the song I was in, all of which I hadn’t heard before the day of the show.

You may be asking, “Yeah yeah but what was the song?” If you’ve ever heard of Walk Off the Earth on YouTube, we did a similar thing to their Shape Of You cover but instead performed Locked Out Of Heaven, using instruments that wouldn’t ordinarily be used as instruments. I was the main singer and another girl did some beautiful harmonies (she has a wonderful voice). The dynamic (excuse the pun) in the rehearsals was amazing: we laughed; we joked around; we tried things and if they didn’t work then they didn’t and we tried something else. It really instilled confidence in me because nobody thought I was shit. I also knew a bunch of people who were performing – Pine, Laurel and others from my year to name a few.

When the day of the competition arrived, I didn’t feel nervous. I had told my parents three days before and all my friends knew but I didn’t make it into a huge deal because if I had, I would have been terrified. In the last lesson, we went to a sound check and I heard the other performances. Along with Pine, I chatted to a friend in another house and I’ll call her Coral. We used to sit next to each other in music last year and that day and evening, we got so much closer – it made me happy. I was stunned by a girl in year 10’s voice; it took about an hour to run through our house’s pieces which all sounded incredible. The excitement I felt after the successful rendition of our song was nothing I can describe; I felt empowered. What made it better was that I found out that the blogger who goes to my school was going to be there. She’s a percussionist and I briefly spoke to her when we went out to see if the xylophone had broken. She’s the only person who I feel happy with calling me Elm in real life and so I always know it’s her. It really made it hit home that I was doing this and that someone who read my blog would also be hearing me sing.

Coral, Pine and I went back to Pine’s house to get ready: I hadn’t been to hers since Prom but I absolutely love her house and family. We ate pizza, bitched about people and cried with laughter; her sister did my makeup because I’m utterly useless and would end up looking like a walrus if I tried. Pine’s sister and I bonded over the fact that Pine shrieks when her sister tries to put eyeliner on her and is even more resistant to fashion and beauty than I am and that is why she’s my favourite thing ever. I got incredibly angry at one point whilst recounting a shitty situation that had happened to me and they were so supportive AARGHH I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! Sorry, I’m getting emotional…

As soon as we got to school, around 6:15, I started to feel jittery. As we’d gone into a random technology room, it was filled with people who I didn’t know, playing and singing and warming up (I may have done a cheeky bit of screeching – erm I mean singing – just to get my vocals vaguely in gear). After Pine and Coral had gone to tune their respective instruments, I did some breatheing and then talked to my ‘blogger friend’ for ages. It was so nice just to speak to her about everything and anything – I had heard from Pine that her piece was fantastic and so was excited to hear it because I’m a weird person who fangirls over music DON’t JUDGE ME!

Luckily, Coral and I went into the audience to watch some of the acts. On the way there, I bumped into Laurel (one of the two people I have feelings for, I don’t even know). We hugged and she grabbed my hands when I said I was nervous; I totally overreacted afterwards and then told Coral I might have a ‘crush’ on Laurel. Coral was totally cool with it (turns out she may be bi too so we had a bonding moment over that). I saw Laurel at various points throughout the evening too, most notably backstage where we sat together and just talked.

Everyone was so brilliant in their performances! My blogger friend’s piece was genuinely so lovely; I smiled the entire way through and cheered especially loudly at the end. Other great things included a fantastic guitar solo by a guy in my english class, someone singing who had the exact same range as me and a girl with the most adorable voice ever. Seriously. I was mildly sobbing. None of it made me feel intimidated; I just enjoyed people having a good time and I revelled in the atmosphere.

By the interval, I was a wreck. If you’ve ever seen me in my real life get nervous, I was rubbing my hands together and trembling like a leaf (again, excuse the pun). Because we had to be backstage whilst the house before us was performing, I was standing with some people like Laurel (we touched hands, hugged and sat near each other) – who had a break from organising things – when Willow turned up. I hadn’t seen her in months: she’d left last year to go to college and so when we saw each other, we screamed and ran at each other. She updated me on everything that had happened in her life within 15 minutes and at one point I screamed “NO NO NOOOO JUST DO IT DO IT!” and tried to convince her to do various things I won’t repeat; it ended with us practically sobbing and telling the other that we loved them. Lots of hugging was involved, too, until we had to stop because she had to go and sit in the audience. Even then, we hugged one last time: I love that girl; she’s amazing.

The buildup was horrible. I was listening to the first act in my house perform (I didn’t get to hear any of the performances really in the house before us). Standing behind the door of the stage, I tried to keep my eyes focused on the lights and listen to the drums to focus myself. Either that or I thought about Laurel and how much I was confused just to get my mind off of shit. If anyone says I’m confident I’ll laugh in their face.

Up on stage, all my worries seemed to flow out of me. It was bright and noisy and beautiful; I sang as if I couldn’t have cared what people thought of me. I had to check the position of the microphone a few times (I can’t see it because I’m almost completely blind) but apart from that, I was utterly enthralled by the sounds and feelings around me. I’d been singing this song quietly before but with a mic, I felt like I could do anything. Nothing went wrong and when the applause came, I think I smiled – I felt happy.

“You have a beautiful voice, Elm!” said Laurel when I was guided off stage. It’s a blur as to what happened then – I know she was with me and had her arm in mine, saying that I was shaking but seeming so pleased and as happy as I was. I emerged into the backstage area and grinned, giddy to the point of gasping. It’s been so long since I did any of that. Coral was there and we spoke for so long after, telling each other we were talented but refusing to believe it.

There were four categories in which we were judged – best solo, best duo and trio and best ensemble. We won 2nd place for the latter AND I WAS SO HAPPY!!! Granted, I was incredibly confused when I was pulled up onto the stage, blinking in the light. Previously, I had been talking to Coral and the blogger friend, not knowing what was happening because we couldn’t hear, cramped at one point in the backstage area with a bunch of people screaming and the music teachers yelling at the screaming people.

Also, we won overall??? I have no idea how that happened either but our music leaders were fucking amazing. I’m irritated that the xylophone group – in another house – didn’t come first for ensemble because they deserved to but I will always remember how amazing that was. That night was about talent, beauty and showing people you could really get out there.

I got home late but the sleepless night was worth it. The next day, I went and saw L, going on the train by myself and having the best time ever which I needed after a stressful week. You can read all about our misadventures here because he’s a much more articulate writer than me. All in all, I’ve had an amazing weekend where I’ve felt like myself. L very much helped with that because I hopped on a train with very little nerves and travelled across London without falling over or screaming.

Coral said something to me that evening. “There are so many powerful voices but sometimes, people need to hear the pretty voices. You need to get out there and show them.” She’s right: when I did, I felt beautiful, alive and like I had a purpose.

It was one of the best days in recent memory. Do you have days like that?

From Elm 🙂