Conflict with Christianity

Religion. It's a subject which only recently I have found myself becoming vocal about. Whilst there's no doubt that I was brought up in the thick of it; my father's side a strong Irish Catholic, my mother's an opposing Protestant, it never equated to me being particularly passionate about it.

I had the full hog: a Christening; Confirmation; Sunday School and expected to attend the service most Sunday's. Whether it was the words which were spoken, or the fact that it was something I was forced to attend - going to Church became associated with a chore-like task, and something that I most definitely wasn't interested in.



Don't get me wrong, there was always one aspect which I truly adored - and that was the people who attended. I longed for the service to end so that I could chat to the congregation, and answer their questions of how school was going and what I was up to - not because they were making small talk or felt obliged to do so, but because they were genuinely interested in what I had to say.

It was the community feel of the Church which I enjoyed, and still to this day nothing makes my day more than bumping into one of the familiar faces on the street, and catching up on all that has changed since I last attended the 10am service on a Sunday morning.

However, then everything changed. I'm sure most of you will be aware of what I am alluding to here, and for this reason I hope this post isn't viewed as offensive - as it is simply my opinion, and one that I truly believe I have a right to have.

When people go through hard times, some of them tend to cling to God in the hope that He will help them see the light - that he has a big plan as to why what's happened has occurred. They lean on this benevolent figure to guide them through their pain and find a meaning to their suffering.

I'm not going to pretend like I wasn't originally one of those people. When I found out the news that the life of someone who was supposed to lead a long and happy one by my side was about to be cut short, I tried everything to diminish the power of the inevitable.




I prayed for miracles: I prayed for the possibility of a wrong diagnosis; for extra time - I even prayed for time reversal which would involve me being the one who was dying, and not the person who was so utterly undeserving of it. I tried everything I could, and when nothing worked I began to become very angry and bitter at the world. The thought that there was someone controlling this, and making us suffer in this kind of severity that we were, and are, led me to overpowering resentment - one that I still feel to this day.

I have been asked whether I blame God for what has happened, and my answer is simply no. Mainly because I don't believe he exists. I think it would be much more offensive for me to push the blame onto someone, as it is to not believe in them. However, because of this, the blame is pushed onto myself. Trust me, I would completely love to push this soul - crushing guilt onto someone, or something, else in order to not have to feel it anymore - but I can't. I can't pretend to have faith in an ideology when nothing about it seems like the truth, and I don't see why I should have to apologise for, or feel bad about, that.

Yet, then comes the issue of heaven. Whilst I would love nothing more than to believe that all my loved ones are reunited up in the sky, it's something that no matter how hard I attempt to conjure it up, I truly cannot be convinced. I remember sitting in a councillor's office and being asked what I believe happens when we die. Before I even had the chance to think properly, I answered by saying that I believe we live the same life over and over again, in different Universes, and in different instances of time.



Whilst I uttered these words long before any of what was meant to be occurred, it's an ideology that still to this day I take great comfort in, and has helped me so much throughout the grieving process. The thought that somewhere, in an alternate Universe, I am still experiencing the most wonderful childhood with my beautiful brother and sister is one which keeps me going on the hardest of days, and something that I know I will forever cherish.

However, on the other hand I have to address my political conflicts with the idea of God.  In a conversation with my fantastic friend Ella Baxter, I was recommended a film called 'I am Michael' (which is on Netflix, if you are interested in watching ... I completely recommend that you do).

The film follows Michael Glatze, who was one of the most recognised gay activists in America. Upon starting his own magazine for young gay men, campaigning for gay rights and speaking in Universities about normalising gay culture, he began to start experiencing panic attacks so severe that he was convinced he was going to die. As I mentioned before, the hard times are when people seem to turn to God, and this is exactly what Glatze did. As he became more invested in the teachings of the bible, he began to question his own sexuality - concluding that he's been living a lie, proceeding to very publicly announce that he has changed, and that being gay is a sin.



One thing which struck me as particularly important in this story is that Michael couldn't simply be gay and a Christian, instead he had to choose one or the other.

Whilst this occurrence was over a decade ago, and I would love nothing more than to believe that society has significantly improved since then, I am aware that it hasn't completely. Still to this day, there is a stigma surrounding homosexual couples and religion, and the thought of that exasperates me. Churches drill into us from a young age to 'love thy neighbour as thyself', yet is this only to be evokes if 'thy neighbour[s]' are Adam and Eve-esque figures; a white, heterosexual, Christian couple?

I believe what angers, and worries, me the most is that the Bible is interpreted in a way which typically projects Western values, and if impressionable figures are led to believe from a young age that this book is 'The Word of God', then we can never truly amount to social change. How are we expected to reform society when the next generations are being held back by teachings which fail to include and celebrate the minorities?



The truth is, and to put this bluntly, I don't believe in Capitalism, I don't believe in social hierarch, and I don't believe in idolisation, so I most definitely do not believe (or want to believe) that there's a dominant force in the sky dictating and controlling human life. I think a problem with religion is that people believe it provides us with answers when, really, we're asking the wrong kinds of questions.


Thank you for reading,

Love,
Grace x

University: The Honest Truth

I haven't written on here for what feels like an eternity, and instead of conjuring up an excuse - I'm just going to be brutally honest ... life got in the way. I'm not going to act like I haven't missed this, in fact it's been soul destroying and there have been many occasions where I've grabbed my laptop and tried to force myself to write something - yet ended up staring at a blank screen for what felt like hours until I admitted defeat and gave up.

On September 17th 2017, I started a new chapter in my life; otherwise known as University. If you remember my previous posts, you will be aware that for the longest time I 'ummed' and 'ahhhd' over whether I wanted to take this direction, or whether I wanted to be thrust into the working world - following my dreams through experience and graft as opposed to the academic route.

However, after much deliberation - which involved tears, stress and finger nail biting (disgusting behaviour, I'm sorry) - I finally decided that this was the option for me. And, on that hideous day in August, I was accepted into a Leeds University - and, truly, I don't think I've ever been happier.

So, fast forward a month or so - and here I was! The day before had been traumatic, we had dropped my sister off (which, if it wasn't bad enough that my best friend of 18 years was being torn apart from me, we were leaving her in HULL *shivers*) (if anyone who is reading this is from Hull, I can only apologise).



My mum and dad came to drop me off, and instead of the emotional goodbye that they were expecting - I practically kicked them out the door. I was finally independent - and boy, was I ready. A large glass of wine later, and I'm knocking on my flatmates doors - ready to suss out the kind of people I was going to be living with.

The first few days were weird, I have to admit. I had high expectations, yet reality didn't seem to fulfil them. Don't get me wrong, I met some absolutely lovely people - and the fresh start was truly what I needed ; yet I completely underestimated how homesick I would actually be. This was the first time I have EVER felt truly alone, and without being all doom and gloom - for the first couple of weeks I didn't know if I was ready to be.

What made it worse was seeing how much fun everyone else seemed to be having - and for this sole reason, alongside many others of course, I believe that social media truly is a curse. Here I was sat in my room, feeling completely lonely and - to put it lightly - down, whilst scrolling through Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to see everyone else having the time of their lives.



My mum must've been completely sick of me - I would ring her almost every night asking pointless questions such as 'What've you had for tea?', 'What've you done today?' and 'What are you doing tomorrow?', and she was most definitely having a better time than me - gallivanting around Cheshire with my Dad which they referred to as 'Date Nights' yet most definitely was covering up the fact that they were celebrating as they had finally gotten rid of us.

So, like all bad times - things did begin to get better. Once I stopped EXPECTING to be having the time of my life, I finally began to. My course started, and I fell in love with it - further reinforcing that this truly was the decision for me. I began to make new friends, start doing things I truly enjoy and go out ... a lot. And as I got speaking to various different people, I realised that everything I had felt during Freshers Week was completely common and normal - which truly was a great relief to hear.



Throughout this period, if there's one thing I've realised - it's that you can't be friends with everyone you meet. Sure, you can have a good attempt at it - but you're not going to click and find a connection with every person you encounter, and that's just life. Eventually you will meet your kind of people if you're patient and put yourself out of your comfort zone - I promise you.

Things may also surprise you too - you may bump into old friends in the most unlikely of places. One thing that I most certainly never saw coming was being reunited with a group I had met in Magaluf on a girls' holiday (classy, I know) - it truly is such a small world.

The September - December semester was one which I thought was going to feel like a lifetime, yet whizzed by and instead felt like days. However, the mass alcohol consumption, daily list of chores and chronic fatigue meant that I was ready to come home and be treated like a Princess by my family (yet, admittedly, I am still waiting for this to happen.)

But, once I was home - it wasn't how I expected. Don't get me wrong, seeing my family and friends again was everything I had hoped for and more ; but it just felt kind of ... strange? It's amazing how quickly you become accustomed to a certain way of life, a new list of habits - and to have all this flipped upside down was a weird dynamic. When you're at Uni, you're missing your home life and your loved ones - but when you're at Home you're missing your Uni life and friends ... there really is no win-win situation.



So, to sum up the past 4 months or so of my life - there have most definitely been some extreme lows, but many extreme highs. I have learnt so much about myself, things that I hadn't realised prior to this experience - the main one of these being that no matter how much I often feel like I'm not; I am strong, resilient and capable of getting through some extremely shitty (pardon the french) times.

I am always hopeful of a better future, and although these Christmas holidays have been heart wrenching, emotionally draining and brought with them a fresh set of grief (due to family circumstances), I know that like all negative aspects of my life, if I'm patient I will get through it.

This post was most definitely not written to scare or put off anyone who is yet to embark on their University experience, instead it was my way of showing that feeling homesick, lonely, frustrated and fed up - no matter how ready you think you are - is all completely normal. People don't realise that it's a lot of change coming all at once - and for it to be a shock to the system is natural. (And for those people who haven't experienced any of this - you GO GIRL (or boy) ... you must have balls of steel).



Thank you so much for reading, and I really do AIM to have my weekly blog post schedule back (if I don't, you have full permission to shout at me!).

Love,
Grace x













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









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