American Love Affair

I always had high expectations of this summer - there was no doubt in my mind that it would be, excuse the cliché, 'The Best Summer of My Life', yet I feel that these many weeks have surpassed even my wildest form of imagination. These few months have taught me and have given me so much, to the point that I know I will always look back on them with the fondest memories in my heart.

I fell in love this Summer - with people, with places, with ideas/concepts - and, I guess, with life again. Thanks to my incredible parents, I was able to visit an abundance of different places - some of which feel more like home to me than the place in which I currently reside.




New York. I don't believe I'll ever be able to find the words to describe the love I now have for this place. It still feels like a dream to me, yet whenever I shut my eyes I see the iridescent glow of Times Square - a vision which I hope never fades away from my memories.

I felt whole in this city, complete - a feeling which I particularly needed at the time, yet never expected I could find in a city. Perhaps that's the problem with humanity - we rely on the wrong things to make us feel like we deserve our existence.

I looked around the streets, at the passers by, and experienced this notion that everyone there was a somebody. Everyone was striving to be something, to achieve something; for greatness. I guess my love for the city is not entirely based on the way it looks - it has more to do with the way it makes me feel.






Despite the 6am starts, the heart-wrenching numbness I felt upon entering the 9/11 museum and the grid lock traffic which turned the 'night bus tour' into what felt like a two and a half hour imprisonment in a freezer - I don't think I have ever experienced such a vast amount of happiness in such a short space of time. (My face physically aches from smiling / my legs physically ache from getting lost in Central Park because Alice enjoys giving wrong directions and then refuses to admit defeat ... ah, Sisters, hey! Gotta love them)

After having the trip planned for so long - and I'm truly not being my over-exaggerating self when I say this, but we must've been discussing New York for at least 6/7 years now - there was a slight worry that my ever-growing high expectations of the place may leave me disappointed yet, as I mentioned before, even my most obscure and colourful daydreams could ever have conjured up the city which captured my heart from the moment I stepped off the plane. I guess that's the problem with dreams, there's the comfort of having them in the far distance, yet the moment they begin to become tangible is the minute human nature enraptures us with blind panic.

I'm sure that even if you've made it this far, you're beginning to tire of the gushings and musings of what may appear to some as an atrociously smelling city built off of commercialism, but I guess that we all find beauty in different things - I mean, how boring would it be if we didn't?




New York means everything to me. At a time when I was feeling particularly lost, with things happening too quickly and leaving me constantly searching for breath, I feel like I have now been pointed in the right direction. Maybe I am being my over dramatic self when I say that this place made me figure out who I am and what I want - but it sure as hell feels like a strong influence.

There's still so much that I want to say, so many stories and little quirks that I want to share, yet it's currently 2:48am and the squiggles in my notebook are beginning to look less like words and more like incoherent shapes - which I know will prove a strenuous task once I begin to type this up.




So, NYC, I guess that's that. There's no doubt in my now fuzzy mind that I'll return to you one day - and I do wonder how different my life may be then. Maybe I'll be sat on the subway with the love of my life, or perhaps my aspirations of becoming a journalist will turn into a reality and I may find a job at the New York Times. However, I'm adamant that whatever the circumstances may be - I'll be truly happy because I am back there.

You've allowed me to dream again, to feel alive, and for that I can't be anything short of grateful.

Thank you so much for reading!

Love,
Grace x

Expectations Vs Reality

For the past couple of hours I've been sat in my bedroom reading through old blog posts, and I have been struck with so many different feelings and emotions it is appearing difficult to even begin to comprehend them. From the very start of my 'blogging' journey I've been completely honest and open about my feelings towards school, and the overpowering sense of self doubt that I have battled through the entirety of my educational journey. For weeks I have been wanting to write a post about results day, and how getting good grades isn't the be all and end all - but, in all honesty, I knew in my heart that I couldn't write that post. Not because I didn't believe in that statement - because, trust me, I completely do - but because I knew that regardless of how strongly I publicised that point and how many people I attempted to comfort by doing so, if my grades weren't 'good' then it would completely destroy me.

I just didn't want to think about it at all, and every time someone mentioned the dreaded 'results day' I would change the subject or simply beg them to talk about something else.




I feel like there's so much pressure nowadays to be top achievers with phenomenal grades - and, if I'm perfectly honest, I believe that a large extent of the blame for this is lenient towards social media. Although I'm extremely passionate about Media Studies, so should therefore (stereotypically) be in awe of the progressions the digital age has enabled society, I can't help but think in situations like this it does more harm than good.

The day before results day was horrific. I couldn't look at my phone without feeling sick to my stomach, and going on Twitter and Facebook to see everyone panicking about the inevitability of 'tomorrow' was setting me off too. (However, this was soon rectified on results day with everyone congratulating each other & showing off how proud they were of both their friends and themselves - something which, of course, I can relate to).

Now that everything has slotted into perspective, without the disastrous '17th August' hovering over us whilst we try and enjoy the longest (and, perhaps, best) summer of our entire lives, I officially feel like I can breathe again, and think about things in a proper and less terrified manner.



Obviously, I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I got phenomenal results because, truth be told, I didn't. A* A* A* was never going to be on the cards, and that's okay! For some people it is, and that's absolutely fantastic - (shoutout to my AMAZING friend Ella, who absolutely NAILED IT!) - but everyone is different and I guess that's what makes life so exciting. I ended up with AABC, which, whilst it didn't allow me to get into my firm choice University, (Newcastle, you'll see me one day I promise) it was still better than I ever hoped and expected I would achieve. (In all honesty, it hasn't quite yet sunk in).

So, the point of this post was definitely not to be me bragging, and I truly do hope that it hasn't come across in that way - I guess it's just a bundle of excitement and disbelieve combined into a complete and utter ramble (how unlike me!). Whilst I want to write about how far I have come - particularly from my post 'What are you good at?' (http://www.gracyviolet.co.uk/2016/11/what-are-you-good-at.html) in which I touched on my struggles with academia - I also wanted to send out a message to people who didn't do as well as they hoped they would.

As most people reading this will be aware, I have a sister called Alice who is the same age as me. She is honestly the most determined person I know, and whilst I could write all day about how much I look up to her, I don't want this post to turn into an entire novel (which, at the rate it's going... perhaps may not be too far off). So, as I'm sure she won't mind me saying, her results weren't quite as good as she was expecting - which meant that she wasn't able to get into her choices of University. Now, whilst for the average person this may have completely destroyed them and left them moping about, unmotivated and miserable, this was not the case for her.



Obviously, she was heartbroken - which, without a doubt, is completely understandable - but I believe her strength of character completely shone through on that horrendous day. Like I said, instead of the expected reaction, she simply got herself up, brushed herself off and proceeded to ring up different Universities and find herself a place - which, of course, she managed to do. To say I'm proud of her would be an understatement - and it truly made me realise just how little the grades you get actually mean in the grand scheme of things. Alice knew that she wanted to get into University, that was her end goal, so she gave it her all and now - here she is!

Without going all philosophical and deep, there truly is more to life than obtaining top grades. Obviously, if you can achieve this without literally destroying yourself then, of course, go for it! But in all seriousness, there is more important things you could be doing than stressing about school. Whenever I used to have my regular meltdowns about school, my dad used to come into my room, sit me down, and tell me that at the end of the day all it boils down to is character. Whilst some people may achieve top grades, that doesn't automatically make them better than you. They may be a horrible person, or they may not be able to present themselves in a way which would make them stand out to employers.



Whilst we must've had this conversation countless times, it was only after experiencing extremely difficult circumstances that I realised just how insignificant grades are, and it truly made me question why I was putting so much pressure on myself. At the end of the day, the impact you make in life and on the people you meet, doesn't boil down to how well you did at school. No one will remember you for getting good grades, they will remember you for the kind of person you were. I guess from a personal viewpoint I've always known exactly what I've wanted, and strived in order to achieve that. Yet, I knew that this time around I wanted to have fun as well as working hard. I wanted to go out and experience life, have fun with my friends, see my family yet still work towards achieving my dreams.

I guess this is also where this 'blogging' thing comes into place. I know I mention it a lot, and please believe me when I say that I don't do it for sympathy - but I do have a hard time in believing in myself, and that is the God honest truth. I can't pinpoint why, and when it started, but it is a constant battle which I'm unsure will ever truly be resolved. However, through doing my blog alongside revision, it truly spurred me on and motivated me. My mind has the most annoying habit of wandering in the most inconvenient of times, and even if I had a text book in front of me - or was reading through revision notes - sometimes I wouldn't even be properly focused on the words, all I could think about was anything BUT what I was supposed to be.

By having this platform, I was able to just release everything onto the page, getting it out there so I didn't have to think about it any longer. And, when people began to express that they enjoyed what I was doing, it encouraged me even more. To be told I was good at something which I genuinely loved and was passionate about acted as the motivation I needed, and the extremely stereotypically (yet one of my all time favourite) quotation 'She believed she could, so she did' began to be incorporated into my life.



I can hand on heart say that you will only achieve success, and get where you want to once you begin to believe in yourself. Your harshest critic will always be yourself, and once you begin to break down those barriers you are capable of just about anything. Whilst I feel like I'm being paid by my school to endorse their 'Dream, Believe, Achieve' statement, I can't help but feel that however cringey it may be, it really is the truth.

"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts"

I hope you're having a lovely Summer and that, if you got results, everything has worked out well for you. I promise you that everything happens for a reason, and if things haven't ended up in the way that you expected they would, then be patient - things will soon become clear again.

Hopefully see (speak to!) you very soon.

Love,
Grace x



The Importance of Memories


I'm not going to lie to you, I've been in a bit of a rut lately. Whilst I promised myself that this summer I would be writing more than I would be breathing, which acted as motivation to get me through revision, I never factored in that maybe I would be stumbling across the keys - desperately trying to conjure up something to write about. Although for a large section of the year I've managed to find a topic to write about pretty much every single week, it's proven difficult when I've finally had all the time in the world to do it, yet found myself unable to do so.

You may wonder what it is that's got in the way of this, and whilst I'm scrambling my brain trying to come up with a good enough excuse - all I can really find is that sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes all you have to do is blink, and then the day has passed. and the next. and the next.

I've written before about my infatuation with time, and the speed at which it passes. It never fails to baffle me how sometimes you can feel the full capacity of an hour, yet others you can completely lose track of the clock ticking round. Thankfully, my summer so far has been entirely based on the latter of the two. It has been pretty much non-stop, and for me that is the greatest.

Whilst I'm pretty certain that anyone unlucky enough to have me across various social media platforms may be sick to death of me banging on about my 'girls holiday' to Magaluf (or Palma Nova, depending on who I'm discussing it with), I just wanted to mention it one last time. This was a week in my life where I was genuinely the happiest I have ever been for that length of time, and I cannot even begin to find the words to describe what an amazing time I had. I know it's cliché to use the expression 'I never stopped laughing', but it is honestly the truth - I laughed so much I think I may have damaged my body completely (alongside the copious amounts of drinking, too - lets not ignore that).



Whilst it doesn't sound particularly exotic or fancy (and trust me, if the food we consumed was anything to go by - it most definitely was not) but I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my entire life. Now, although I would enjoy nothing more than to sit here and type out the countless stories I have of this trip, I am going to refrain from doing so - whilst I love nothing more than embarrassing my friends, I think this would be going a step too far (plus, Georgina, I think your life would be ruined forever). 

I guess what made this trip that extra bit special was the escapism from reality for a bit. How you could be anyone, do anything - no matter how stupid or embarrassing (ahem, Georgina) and just live life without thinking about the stresses of the mundane life you lead back home. How you could wake up in the morning, feel the heat and the sunshine on your face, and know that today would be a good day - and completely different from everything you could ever experience back home.

However, not to turn things all doom and gloom, but coming home was when things started to go a bit pear shaped. Whilst my heart is full of the happy memories I have of the trip, sometimes coming back down to reality can often hit me hard. For a full week, I could be care-free and not think about anything other than which cocktail (or two, or three or... lets not go there) I was going to order that evening. I could escape in the sense that I was a nobody, and everyone who I met it was based on first impressions - something which, I'm going to be honest, was a breath of fresh air.

I felt more myself that week than I have for a long time, and I can't help but smile every single time a memory pops into my head, or I hear a song which reminds me of the nights we had there. And, I guess as the title of this post goes, memories truly are the most important thing. Not only do they comfort you in the darkest of times, they also exert masses of happiness too. I'm not going to act like this experience was life changing, because - lets be honest, I wasn't building homes in LEDC's or doing charity work, but, in an entirely selfish way, it was exactly what I needed - and I know that if my summer carries on being just as fantastic as it is so far, then it will truly equate to being 'The Best Summer Ever'.



Thank you so much for reading my silly little ramble, and I can't wait to get back on track with my writing again.

See you soon!

Love,
Grace x 

p.s. If you have any topics or suggestions as to what you'd like to see on this blog, then I would be over the moon to hear from you! xx


My Sister Alice

Hello there!

It's been a while, hasn't it? I know I always said that I would never let anything get in the way of my weekly blog posts, yet this statement was made before I realised the impact A levels would have on me. So, after that rocky and horrendous journey, I am now back and ready to write until my hearts content - and not in the form of essays or revision packs; Oh, how I have missed this!

So, here goes.

Alice always make jokes about me doing a blog post about her, and whilst I've always told her to 'get lost' (or something along those lines), the horrific events which have unfolded over the past few months have really taught me and made me realise many things - one of the main ones being to tell every person in your life just how much you love them as, unfortunately, we now live in a world where absolutely nothing is certain. Whilst that scares me beyond belief, there really is no other option than to learn and evolve from these tragedies, and I am trying my very best to remain positive in a world which is constantly being infiltrated with horrendous outcomes.

If you're not in the mood to cringe over me confessing my undying love for my favourite girl in the entire world, then I urge you to click off this page right now.

Alice,

I can't really remember a time when we've not been joined at the hip. We have spent pretty much every single day together since we were brought into this world 18 years ago - and whilst I haven't really made a conscious decision to allow you into my life, I know that if I was given the choice then I would 150% choose for you to be here (well, 99.9% of the time anyway).

Despite the fact it's inevitable we argue - and believe me, we have had screaming matches over the most ridiculous things (a favourite of mine being over who is making the cups of tea that particular evening, which happens way more than I'd care to admit) - we're laughing about it after 5 minutes, especially when one of us comes into the other ones room with their tail in between their legs, clutching a hot beverage as a form of apology.

Although I snap at you ever so often for the annoying things that you do -e.g. singing ALL the time, or having the most disturbing habit to squeeze me or cling to me when you're nervous - I have absolutely no doubt in the world that when we embark on our new journeys come September, I will miss you more than I ever thought possible. Thinking about us not seeing each other every day, and not going in your bedroom in the morning to see you cuddled up with that stupid stuffed Olaf that clings to your side, breaks my heart into a million pieces.



Although you often joke that I'll be FaceTiming you in a frenzy over how to cook pasta or wash my jeans, I know that I'll be coming up with any old excuse just so I can spend five minutes talking to the person who I genuinely don't believe I could go a day without speaking to.

We've always been close, yet this past year has brought us together in a way that no one could ever begin to understand. We lost the third member to our special team, and I can honestly say that your complete and utter strength in the hardest of times was, and still continues to be, the inspiration that I needed to get me out of the darkest of places.

You're powerful Alice, more so than I think you realise, and I truly wish you could see what I see. Nothing hurts me more than when I see you doubt yourself - you are truly the most beautiful person in the world to me. Not only are you utterly gorgeous (after Friday night, I think we have established that you're the best looking one ... when a guy approached me to say 'You're almost as pretty as your sister' ... thanks mate x), but you make me laugh in ways that no one else will ever begin to compete with.



Living in a house with someone who you share the exact same sense of humour with can sometimes be dangerous, especially during the exam season (I think we spent more time singing along to 'Our Songs' than I would ever care to admit) but if there's one thing we do well, it's working as a team. We only want the best for each other, and push each other to be the greatest versions of ourselves - and when I'm being lazy and need a kick up the bum, you're always the first one to offer that assistance.

My favourite time of the day is when we wash the dishes together after dinner - with the music blasting and us singing along slightly out of tune - (on my behalf, obviously) alongside a good old gossip session. I can honestly say it's times like this where I am my most happiest. You seem to bring all the joy in the world to every room you walk into, and despite the fact you can often appear shy when you meet new people, everyone who truly knows you thinks the absolute world of you.

One of my worst fears is losing you, and it's a terrifying concept what the world has come to - just being in the wrong place and the wrong time is proving to be indescribably dangerous. I wish I could wrap you up in cotton wool and spend every waking minute with you, but I guess we need to learn what it's like to be apart. We need to figure out what it's like to live without leaning on each other, without being defined as a twosome instead of as individuals.

However, that's not to say that I'm not always going to be here for you, you know that I always will be. Forever and always, you know that. Anytime, any day, any where. You're not only my sister, you're my best friend - my everything. I owe you everything, and I love you more than I will ever be able to explain. I truly hope you realise that.




To Anyone Who Is Currently Struggling


This week marks mental health awareness week, and I'm scrolling through various social media sites and being inundated with countless posts from brave, strong and inspiring people sharing their stories on the battles that they have faced/are currently going through. Some of these people are my friends, and some are strangers - yet I find myself hurting for all of them, regardless of whether I personally know them or not. I have this fixation on wanting to help every single person in the world, and the sheer inevitability that I can't genuinely destroys my soul. I find my happiness through making others happy, and whilst that's all well and good in my own circle, I unfortunately can't do that for every single person who is currently existing on this Earth.

Mental health is a topic which has always been regarded as taboo, yet lately there has been a massive shift in the way people have decided to communicate and share their personal experiences. I for one cannot begin to express my gratitude for this - firstly, for the general fact that the stigma surrounding the subject matter has ever so slightly started to ease and secondly, because I feel it gives me a better understanding of how to approach/talk to/attempt to help the people I love who are going through similar things.

Throughout the past year or so, I've had this fixation on writing letters - writing down the things I wish I could say to the people I wish I could converse with. Due to evident circumstances, I am unable to post them - instead leaving them lingering in various files on my laptop, or inking the pages of a notebook. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, there's a level of comfort I find from writing things down, that I am yet to find elsewhere - and whilst I will never get to send these letters, it sure as hell doesn't stop me from writing them. As human's we are filled with regret - always for the things we never got the chance to say - and I guess this helps ease this pain into something a bit more manageable.

I apologise for this waffling introduction, what I mean to say is that today I am going to write a letter that I will actually send, or publish, or however you want to interpret it. 'A letter to anyone who is currently struggling' - here goes.

You,

You may be reading this with the toxic mindset that things won't get better. Whilst everyone around you seems to be thinking about the future, you're unsure as to whether you really have one. The emptiness fills you up, and you are unable to look beyond it. You are starting to lose focus on pretty much every aspect of your life, and the interests that you once had no longer exist. All you know is that things can't get much worse, and that they may not ever get better.

There's a constant feeling of loneliness which never seems to subside - no matter how many people you surround yourself with. Everything you thought you knew is no longer, and it's the scariest thing you will ever have to face. Simple things become a chore, and you will feel so far removed from reality that you begin to question pretty much everything in existence. You may start to look for distractions elsewhere, and at the time these may seem like a good idea - but ultimately, in the long run, they won't be. Allow yourself to feel, no matter how hard that may be. Everything that is happening to you is real, and raw, and painful but you have to allow yourself to feel it all before you can begin to conquer it.

Confide in people. I can't express the importance of this. Tell at least one person how you're feeling - no matter how scary this may be, it's the first baby step into making this all go away. It may seem easier to face it all on your own, because when you share it with someone then that's when it feels real. You can exist in your own mind, yet its once you begin to let others in which makes others worse. If you struggle to vocalise how you're feeling, and you feel that you may stumble and stutter upon your words - not being able to string together a sentence without messing it all up - then send a text. Use this as a starting point, and once you begin to gain courage you'll be able to talk about it. A sit down counselling session doesn't work for everyone - and it's not weird or pathetic if this doesn't work for you. Being in a room, one on one, with someone who you barely know and being expected to pour out your heart to them is especially terrifying, and giving up on that doesn't make you weak. Conversing with a friend, a parent, a family member, a teacher, a doctor (etc) can sometimes be just as helpful - I know that I always feel much better after a good cry and chat with one of my loved ones.

There are people who love you - please don't forget that. Whilst you may think you're worthless or that you don't matter to anyone, I promise you that you do. You may be the reason someone is currently smiling right now, the reason for someone's laugh, the reason that they are who they are. You have more power over people than you think, and your importance isn't something which is passing by unnoticed. Your loved ones will be hurting because they know that you are, and they would do anything possible to help you - but in order to do this you have to let them in. Your natural instinct may be to push them away, using the utterances 'I'm fine' or 'I'm just tired', yet if they care about you they won't leave your side. Here is where you will begin to find out who you really want in your life, who you know will stick by you through thick and thin - who will be there for you throughout the good times, yet also the bad. You will lose friends, yet the important ones will always remain by your side.

Things do get better. You just have to believe that they will. Persevere with it, telling yourself that with each passing day you are going to do one thing which makes you happy - and whilst this may be the longest journey you'll ever go on, I promise you that it will be worthwhile. Once you change your mindset, you will begin to look at things from a whole different perspective. You'll learn to focus on the good things, not letting your mind linger on the bad. You may begin to realise that certain things which once consumed your entire being no longer inhabit your mind - and that's okay. Change is a good thing, and sometimes its time for that.

You'll begin to feel the kind of happiness which you once believed only existed in fiction and other various forms of popular culture. You'll laugh until your stomach hurts with tears pouring down your face. You'll sit on a beach with the people who you love most, listening to the sounds of the waves and feeling the sand between your toes. You'll begin to see life as an experience instead of as a challenge. You'll wake up one day, and whilst things may not be as you imagined, they're better than the dull ache of sadness which is currently haunting you.

Hang on in there. It gets easier, I promise you.

Love,
Grace x









Why I Started Writing

One of my all time favourite YouTubers is Dottie James - if you haven't heard of her then I truly recommend you look her up. Instead of the conventional vlogs or challenge videos, Dottie produces beautiful videos of her spoken word poetry - an ultimate guilty pleasure of mine. This morning I stumbled across her most recent video titled 'Why I Started Writing' (you can find it here), and it sparked an idea for what I was going to write about today. Whilst her video vocalises her reasons in a beautifully poetic manner, I know that it wouldn't be as successful if I attempted to replicate that - so, my deepest apologies, I guess I shall stick to my boringly literal drivel. 


So, I guess I shall start from the beginning. For as long as I can remember, I've always had an interest in books. My parents always encouraged us to read, and a bedtime story at night was my favourite part of the day. Although I have vivid memories of the bed being cramped, and of us all arguing over who got to sit the closest to mum - I truly did enjoy it. I loved how words could string together in a sentence and form an instantaneous image in my head - how I could close my eyes when listening to my mum read and picture exactly what she was talking about. 

Creativity has always been a massive part of my life - and my imagination has always been a force to be reckoned with. For most of my childhood I had an utter infatuation with fairies, with most of the books on my bookshelf being coherent of this subject matter. I adored how something fictional (a fact I have only recently come to terms with) could be made to feel so real - making me truly believe that the trees at the bottom of my garden were inhibited with these beautiful mythical creatures. Whilst the illustrations in the books were always stunning, my main focus was always on the words. The intricate details being described, enough to make my wildest dreams inherent a sense of reality. 

As I got older, creative / personal writing became more encouraged in English lessons, and I began to gain a real sense of enjoyment for it. Whilst school has never been something I can. hand on heart. say I enjoy, it was in my English lessons where I finally found a sense of sanctuary - where I could express my thoughts, desires and opinions in my own personal way. As I've mentioned before, science and maths were subjects I completely and utterly struggled with - I guess my mind just isn't programmed in that way, and as I developed a clear interest for English, I began to realise that that was okay. 

I will always remember when we moved on to studying poetry. If I hadn't realised I loved the subject before, I definitely knew I did now. W. H. Auden's 'Stop All The Clocks' is the first poem I remember being introduced to, and even to this day I get chills when I read it. I loved how words could be used to imply exterior meanings, as opposed to the literal denotations that are attached to them. How the stars could be used as a metaphor, how anthropomorphism existed heavily within works of literature. So, when the teacher set us the task of writing our own poems - I took it, and I ran with it; returning in on Monday morning armed with the longest poem I believe has ever existed. Heavily inspired by 'Stop All The Clocks' and a One Direction song ('Moments' - if you know, you know) my page became flooded with words I had no prior knowledge existed inside of me. I still remember the first two stanzas of that poem, yet seem to have lost the original copy (:(). 

Shut the door,
Turn off the lights,
My world is in darkness,
My days are now nights

Why does everyone seem to think
They have suffered as much as me
They have not felt this pain inside my heart
I am in such agony

If I'm perfectly honest, this poem haunts me. I wrote about losing someone close to me before I had even realised that this would later become the case - like all works of literature, I was heavily foreshadowing. Yet, I wasn't foreshadowing the lives of the characters included in my poem, I was foreshadowing my own. 

Like all teenagers, I began to keep a diary - something that I believe helped me through some extremely difficult points. I have this irrational fear of opening up to people, so instead of turning to a friend or family member, I began to turn to my pen and notebook. On nights where the concept of sleep was utterly non-existent, I would sit in bed and just write down every single thing that was on my mind. Whilst the paper couldn't give me a hug and tell me that everything was going to turn out okay, I got such a heavy sense of comfort from it. I was expressing myself, and everything that was going on, yet I was still keeping it extremely private - and this worked well. If I was to give one piece of advice to anyone who is currently struggling, I would tell them to keep a diary. Not only for you to turn to when you're lost, confused, angry, upset or hurt - but also for all the feelings in between. There are moments when I've stumbled across old diary entries, and felt an overwhelming sense of pride - I would write about times when I thought nothing was going to get better - and, I am living proof that it did. 

Then, came the beginning of my blog. I started it in the Summer after GCSE's, where I would write a post about every place that I had visited - perhaps posting once every month or something along those lines. This mainly was created because it was at this point I realised I wanted to be a Journalist, and I knew that this would be a good thing to include in my personal statement. After the Summer, I neglected my blog for a bit - only posting whenever I had the time or energy to do so. Whilst it was something I truly enjoyed, it took a back seat for a while as I began to struggle massively at school and knew that all focus needed to be paid towards my studies. 

However, then things started to go downhill - and I'm not going to go into details, but I'm sure many of you will be aware of what I am referring to here. I began to become extremely fearful of my own words - not wanting to put pen to paper, because I didn't want to come to terms with what would come out. I didn't want to know how I truly felt. Anything that I did write in this time was private, I don't think I'll ever be comfortable showcasing it to the world. Yet, I knew that this wouldn't be the end of my writing forever. I made a promise to someone I love with every part of me to never give up, and whilst it took a long while for me to stick to my promise, I knew I would get there in the end.

'Finding Happiness Again' was the post whereby I reintroduced my blog. (If you want to read it, you can find it here). This post will always hold extreme sentimental value to me, as it was at this point where I felt that I was truly beginning to heal. For a couple of weeks, this post was kept on the notes section of my iPhone, yet I was finding myself re-reading it whenever I needed encouragement or a bit of motivation, and knew that I simply had to post it. So, after deliberating it for hours, I finally pressed the 'Publish' button, and I haven't looked back since. It was one of the most terrifying things I can say I've ever done, as I felt I was sharing a part of me that I was unsure would be accepted. 

I'm pretty sure I mention this in most of my posts, but without the support and encouragement I have received, I know for a fact that I wouldn't be doing this. These posts would perhaps only exist in my notebook, or maybe not at all. People often ask me how I manage to write one every single week, and all I can ever reply to that is that I simply love it. This brings me such happiness, and whilst I often stumble across subject matters which are uncomfortable and difficult to talk about, it helps me more than anyone can ever truly understand. 

The truth is, I don't know where any of this is going. All I know is that I love doing it, and can't ever imagine myself not. Writing has become a massive part in my life, and I never want to give it up. So, to finish this off I'm going to quote the iconic David Bowie, as I feel that it sums up everything I have just spoken about.

 "I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring." 

I hope you're having a fantastic day, and I will see you next week.

Love,
Grace x 

What It Means To Be A Woman



She stands in the mirror, her eyes casting over her short skirt - wondering whether she can get away with it, or whether this will be perceived as an invitation. Her eyes cast over her make up - is this okay? Does this conform to the preconceived idea of femininity? Is she wearing too much, is she not wearing enough? It's a constant battle. She leaves the house, walking with her head down when she spots the men walking in the opposite direction, hoping and praying that for once she'll get a night off. For once she will be able to simply walk past and not be subjected to the cat calls, the wolf whistles, the lingering looks. But she is a young woman wearing a skirt, and somehow this is implied as her giving her permission - she should've expected this, right? Why else would she dress this way?

If anything was to happen, she knows immediately the response she would receive - "What were you wearing?" and "How much did you drink?" are questions which would be asked, and she would instantly be made to feel that the wrong-doing and pure delusion of a male was entirely her fault.

Because it's a well renowned fact that we are responsible for the actions of the opposite sex. We are told to cover our shoulders and to wear longer skirts because they may not be able to control themselves. We are given a strict dress code, and told to adhere to it in order to remain protected. In order to remain safe. Yet, I don't see the safety in that - do you?

It's been stated that if we shout "FIRE" instead of "RAPE", then the chance of someone coming to help us is significantly more likely. The idea of a house burning down is apparently more scary than someone's life being ripped apart, for them experiencing indescribable pain and living with the awful memories of what has happened to them. Or maybe it's the fear that stops us. It's easy to sit here and say how we would act in a certain situation, yet we have no definite way of knowing what we would actually do.


I guess what sparked this post was the show that everyone and their dog seem to be talking about - '13 Reasons Why'. Whilst this series has sparked an abundance of controversial opinions, it has definitely got people talking about the subject matter that it concerns. There are a number of scenes included in it which are uncomfortable and hard to watch - one in particular being the harrowing hot tub scene. Without going into too much detail, here we see the stereotypical 'jock' that is often present in American popular culture, taking advantage of Hannah - your, again stereotypical, 'girl next door' kind of character. Every time I shut my eyes I think about that scene, and it hurts me to think that this act is a version of reality that some people have faced. This feeling of helplessness is one that haunts me, and thinking that at this very moment something similar could be happening is tough and uncomfortable to think about.

The truth is women have come a long way - we can vote, there's no stigma attached to us going out to work, and many dominant figures in our society are indeed female - yet there's still this feeling of uncertainty and inequality that I can't help but pick up on. Obviously I'm going to be biased here, as I have no idea what it's like to be a man *waits for someone to make a 'witty' comment*, but I can't help but feel how women's looks tend to be the deciding factor on their worth as a person. At the end of the day, everything tends to come down to image and I am so utterly sick of it. Yes, it's nice to be told that you're 'pretty', but exhilarating to be labelled 'intelligent', 'quick-witted' or 'genuine'.

We sit and watch a film, and are introduced to archetypal representations of women - and we are expected to enjoy it. Yet every film we watch follows the same structure - the passive female longing for the dominant male - and I am bored of it. I am surprised when I watch a film that doesn't conform to this pattern and, if I'm perfectly honest, I don't think that's how it should be. I love being immersed in a text which follows the story of a strong female character, or at least includes one - and this is harder to find than you would necessarily think. Yet, isn't this damaging for the young girls growing up in this digital age? We are taught to settle, to be passive in our own storyline and to rely on external forces in order to get what we want. Every time I think about this, I grow a little fonder of J.K Rowling - for creating the character of Hermione Granger for young girls (and boys!) to admire and aspire to be like.

I love being a woman, and I'm more than proud to be one - but there are challenges that we face due to our gender that really shouldn't exist. However, that being said, I know how lucky I am to live in a society where things aren't as extreme. There are hideous and soul-crushing stories that are shared on the news, or on social media, and it's at times like this when I realise just how bitter and twisted our world is. The same way that I believe race and sexuality shouldn't be used to dictate a person's worth and rights, gender shouldn't either. When you think about it, it really is entirely absurd to think that our genitals determine our superiority - so why is that the case in so many countries across the globe?

Sorry for this little rant, it's probably jumbled, messy and may not make sense in some areas, but I've just been thinking about it all for a little while now. I hope it's made you think, or even ask your own questions - because I guess that's what we ultimately need; a discussion.

So, I guess I'll see you next week!

Love,
Grace x



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