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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Saving Yourself

Everyone wants to be a superhero. We all want to be that person, the one that is universally admired for their strength in character. That dependable friend that no one could live without. The one that saves everyone in their moment of need, and is always remembered for what they did for other people, less so what they have done for themselves.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not for one second that this is a bad way to be, that we shouldn't try to help others, or save people when they most need it, but what I would like to speak about in this post, is the concept of saving yourself.

Sometimes it may seem that in society the people we consider most worthy and admirable are those that spend their whole lives saving others. Obviously, this is an incredible character trait, and something I could only hope to be like, but what I would like to focus on is that sometimes being your own hero, is the best characteristic that we can achieve.

It is when the days are rough and you need to be tough, that we should be turning to our own built up resilience and using our own will power to drag ourselves out of bed. On days like these, when all you have done is got out of bed and the bare minimum, even when you wanted to let life wash over you in a wave leaving you ignorant to that day's drama and negativity, this is what is called being your own hero.

Sometimes you need to work on your own self belief and bravery before you can go out there are save the world, and thats okay. I believe that each of us somewhere wants to save someone else, but if you take all that energy and use it to save yourself, then that is okay too.

Most people can think of a time when they were barely able to keep their head above the water, and if you were able to do this, even with the weight of life attached to your feet, dragging you down, then you deserve a medal, and if no one has told you so, then you are brave and you are beautiful and you got through something that most people could not.

The biggest reason why I write this post, is actually because I believe that we should be doing more to build ourselves up, instead of what the media and outer negative influences insist we do, which is self-depreciate.

I believe that self-sacrifice should not be glorified, but instead we need to spend more time working on saving ourselves and building ourselves, so that we are able to survive the rocky road that is life.

So save yourself, be your own hero, and then when you are ready go out and save the world, just don't leave it until it is too late for you to live a happy and healthy life, as after all, we are only here once.

LF, LR and MG xxx

Friday, 24 July 2015

Reaching For the Stars

It starts with something small, a little seed that gets planted at the back of your mind, which most of us disregard. Secretly, when you think no one is looking, you put together some ideas. The ball keeps rolling, and without even realising it, you have thought up a whole plan for that thing that just a few weeks prior, was just a seed in the back of your mind.

Even at this point, most of us laugh at our own 'delusion' and remain with our feet planted firmly on the ground, reluctant to entertain the possibility of success, or of making our ideas into a reality. Not because we don't want to, or because we have negative intentions, but because we genuinely believe that we aren't capable of doing so.

But what if I told you, that with some perseverance, planning and positivity, you could lift your feet off the ground, and truly touch the stars? When I look at myself I know that for one reason or another I have put a pin into so many things that I have wanted to do, almost always because I am not confident enough in myself to believe I can pull them off.

However, this year I have had a growth of self-belief starting with this wonderful blog, and in one thing or another, I have realised that there are some steps involved but when you do them, you really can make a successful project come to life. I would like to offer some steps into turning your dreams into a reality:

1) Believe in yourself. To be honest, I think of all the things I could say in this post, telling you to believe in yourself is most probably the most important. There will be people that doubt your idea and there will be times when you will doubt yourself, and tell yourself that there is no way that you can accomplish what you have set out to do. Ignore those doubts, because whether you believe they are justified or not, if you just look slightly past them, then you will reach your success. Self-belief is what will carry you through all the time you spend working on your project. It is what will keep you going through the process, as a constant reminder that you can do this.

2) PLAN. I would say that a big part of being able to actualise your dreams is to plan, and plan big. Work out each stage of your project, and all the mini-steps that it will take to get you there. Write down a list of all the things you will need to do in order to achieve your aims, and ways in which you can complete them. In times of doubt or when things seem overwhelming or unachievable, you will look at your plan and feel reassured that you know where you are going with it, and what you are doing.

3) Be Inspired. I think that the best projects are the ones that you are so deeply connected with, that you are going to try as hard as you can to get them going. The ones that you so desperately want to make successful are usually the ones that go the furthest because of your own inspiration and your own drive to make it happen. I think that this is the key to success and is something that you should bare in mind all the time.

I hope that these three tips will help you in reaching for the stars, but most of all, I would like to share an idea that I put together a few weeks ago. I believe that you should always reach for the stars, even if you can't quite see them. That means working as hard as you can, on something you feel passionately about, even if it doesn't feel like it is being successful, or even if you feel like its not quite going the way you want it to. Working hard on something that you believe in, is genuinely one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had, something that I experience daily with this blog, and is something that I would encourage all of you to think about.

Reach for the stars, because you never quite know what magic can happen along the way!

-LF, LR and MG

Sunday, 19 July 2015

"Do More of What Makes You Happy"

As you get older, you notice that time is getting shorter. You get to the age at which you're entering secondary school, where you feel as if you have all the time in the world to have fun, so you go shopping with your friends, take your dog out for long walks and spend time on family picnics, with a bit of homework here and there. Then there are the end of year exams. This cycle progresses throughout your career at secondary school, with your free time being cut shorter and shorter without you even noticing it. Then BOOM. Year 11 whacks you across the face and you realise that your 'end of year exams' actually have an effect on your future, so for a few months you cut off most of your free time and filling it with endless revision, past papers and note-taking, before eventually spending the last remaining moments of your free time sprawled across the desk of scattered papers dozing off.

Eventually, by the time you hit Sixth Form (the last two years of compulsory education), you have a sudden realisation. All of that time you had spent with your loved ones has been evaporated. You haven't left the house aside from popping to school or the library in weeks and you feel confined to the same few rooms in your own house. That time you spent teaching yourself how to play the piano has all gone to waste, as you can't even remember how to shape a minor chord. You don't remember what daylight looks like. You haven't had a meal out in months.

This realisation happened to me two weeks ago, when we began to write our Personal Statements for university. I used to be able to speak about how I had an "ear for music" and could instantly pick out the correct chords and melody to any song on the keyboard. Now I can only remember one song. I used to love to socialise with my friends on the weekends, which rarely ever happens anymore.  Hey, I even used to win at a round of bowling against my friends and family, now I can scarcely remember which finger goes in which hole in the bowling ball.

Now, free time is almost a foreign word to me. Any "free time" is spent trying to retrace the steps of my old skills, completing my book list for university, writing my Personal Statement (just kidding, that's just not happening), organising my life and also the occasional blog post. Even then, that doesn't happen often, as seen by the number of posts by my fellow writers in comparison to me.

What I wanted to get across was that I wish that I had made myself take some more free time, as I regret letting past hobbies go down the drain. I used to look at a piano and rush over to it, desperate to lay my fingers on the ebony and ivory keys. Now, I have that same enthusiasm, but I stare blankly at the keys in wonder of how I lost the skills to play.

Please make sure that you do more of what makes you most happy, as I wish that I had.

-LF, LR and MG

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

What It Means To Be A Victim

In some ways, I believe that being a victim of something, has been romanticised. We glorify experiences that people have had. We make victims into warriors, not because we mean harm, but because we don't know what else to do. We don't know how else to react to the pain and the suffering that someone has been through, in an experience that is so completely different from our own experiences. So instead we admire them, but we don't understand them.

I would like to share what it means to be a victim, and then give some advice about how to deal with being a victim, with the hope that this post will not only give you some understanding, but it will give you the tools to deal with your friends or family members that may be dealing with the fallout of certain issues that make them a victim.

What does it mean to be a victim? 

Whilst most people think that being a victim means having survived a horrific event, I would like to explain what being a victim really means.

Being a victim means being afraid. It means being afraid of the person or people who inflicted such pain on you. Afraid of yourself and the person you might become. Being a victim means sleepless nights, bouts of depression and anxiety for things that seem unrelated but none the less haunt you for years.

Being a victim means suffering with PTSD, possible eating disorders and mood swings. It means living your life with the knowledge that other people that are in your age group have no idea of what you've been through, and will never be able to understand you. It means being confused about who you are, and doubting yourself. Being a victim means being so lonely that you are forced to turn to someone, but when you do, the empty feeling that you experience when they just don't understand makes you wish you'd just have kept quiet.

Being a victim means that you are strong and brave, but more fragile than you realise. It means spending the rest of your life forcing yourself to move on, and make something of yourself, even though what you really want to do is disappear. It means good days that leave you on a high, but bad days that leave you in the lurch, possibly for days after.

But most of all, being a victim means that on some days, the rain falls so hard and fast it feels as if the bad feelings are never going to go away. You feel disgusted by yourself and constantly put yourself down. However, on the sunny days, you look at all the things you have accomplished even after all you have survived, and you know that your victories outweigh all the bad things that you have suffered, a million times over. Because when you see all your victories, you know that you are nothing like your worst fears, but instead you are the person you have always wanted to become.

A few helpful tips for helping a victim: 
1) Listen!! Listen to your friend/ family member. Let them speak. Don't force what they have to say, but instead just let them say what they need to say. Most likely they will feed you bits of information here and there instead of just telling you everything straight. But if they do tell you something, know that it is because they trust you, and for them, trust is not something that comes easy, so keep reassuring them that you will not disclose this information to anyone.

2) Overreacting/ Minimising. Whilst there is literally nothing worse than you pouring your heart out to someone, and them just reducing it down to something that a child wouldn't be bothered by, at the same time, crying over what you have been told is not helpful either. It makes the victim feel even worse than they already do, and will just make them shut off. You might not realise that you are minimising the pain or experience, but trying to change the subject, laughing, making light of the situation or just trying to avoid talking about it, makes the person feel worse. The victim doesn't want you to find you an answer, nor are they expecting you to take the pain away, they just want to talk, and making them feel like a burden or like they're making a huge deal of nothing is likely to enhance any private and personal feelings they have about themselves.

3) Comparing. If your friend or relative is telling you about the time she nearly killed herself in an overdose, DO NOT compare it to the time you wanted to buy a new pair of shoes so you went to the shop but they didn't have your size, so you were so depressed you nearly killed yourself. It is not helpful, it is not useful, just don't do it!

Hope this was useful insight,
LF, LR and MG

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Moving On: Nostalgia and Change

I don't know about you, but I am certainly the type of person who finds it difficult to adjust to new ideas and let go of old ones. I suffer from terrible nostalgia and I get upset over things that once were. For example, it probably took me the majority of Year 7 (the first year of secondary school) to settle in, because I was longing to go back to primary school with my old friends and old teachers and not a care in the world. I would even try to prolong this holding onto my past by seeing only my primary school friends on Fridays after school. (I gave advice on how to cope with big changes here; this is slightly different).

I also tend to be stung by unchangeable factors. These are the worst, purely because they simply cannot be changed. I feel upset when I see people with thicker hair than me, people who are naturally smarter or funnier than me, or seeing my brother live every day of his life at an entirely different perspective to you or me due to his Autistic Spectrum Disorder. I get upset, more topically, when I do not fit into the desired category that teachers, friends, classmates and many more people may need, so I become left behind.

From these situations, I find it incredibly hard to move on. It is within my nature; I am a sensitive girl who overthinks everything and dwells on what could have been or what once was.

Though what I find very helpful is to try and reason with myself.

The first step to this is to allow yourself time to be upset. You are unhappy, unsettled or feeling nostalgic for a reason, be it rational or not. "It's okay not to be okay" is my favourite quote sometimes, as it reminds me that I am only human, and I am allowed to feel like this.

Then, I like to tell myself to stop. Yes, the time to be sad is necessary, but it should not have to change anything or get in the way of your productivity.

I then sit down alone and think about all of the positives that come out of the situation. Like how this has benefitted you, how you could change the way you do things the next time, and "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened".

After that step, I find that I am able to not necessarily move on per-say, but at least I can see a light at the end of a tunnel and I am able to resume normal life.

Or scrap all of the advice I gave you and sit in bed eating ice cream - I recommend the new Walls' soft 'Big Scoop' chocolate ice cream. Best thing on the planet.

- LF, LR and MG