Who we are

Kids lean
watch the screen
keen to see the latest fad
watching but not taking it in
not thinking of something else
or somewhere else or
dream of what could be

She looks
and glares
and stares
and eyeballs herself
for hours and hours
poking and prodding
feeling disgusting
before running to the bathroom
to flush away the evidence.

He worries
and panics
‘You need to lighten up’ they say,
‘Come and have a drink!’
It’s not that easy
And they know it.
He needs to get the grades
He wont succeed without working hard
He can’t let them down again.

We stress and agonize
over grades and appearances
not thinking that in years
none of this will matter.

We’ll look back and say
‘Wow, was I really like that?’
I’m glad I changed when I did
I hope my children won’t feel the same regret

We socialise with a coffee
and over a small white screen
saying anything we want
because its different face to face

We look with our eyes
and keep our mouths shut
because the typing does the speaking for us

We need to stop this now
before its too late
before no one needs to talk any more
and before we don’t want to

Don’t look back and say
‘Wow, was I really like that?’
Live in the now
take part
look around

Be involved in the present
as who you are
as who you want to be

You never know what your missing out on.

 

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5 things I wish I’d known when I was 13…

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1. You will get your heart broken.

Unless you marry your first and only boyfriend it is inevitable that your heart will be broken at least once. It’s horrible, painful and feels like you’ll never love again, but you will. ‘Time heals all wounds’ is clichéd but very true. As never-ending as it might seem, you will get over it.

You may also break someone else’s heart, which is equally horrible, and will fill you with a horrendous pang of guilt every time you remember his name or his favourite song. If you can avoid doing this, then good. You just need to know it might happen.

2. Having a boyfriend is not the most important thing right now.

I know it seems like the most important thing in the world right now, and it sucks that some of your friends have one already, but having a boyfriend isn’t everything. It’s nice to have someone to hold your hand, but there’s a time and a place and honestly it’s kinda cringey to watch two teenagers locking lips behind the Maths block.

Enjoy not worrying about boys and relationships. Your childhood will be over before you know it, and you’ll look back and wonder why you ever had a crush on him!

3. Stop worrying about your weight. Size zero is NOT attractive!

Trashy celebrity magazines that say you’re too big and that size zero is the way young girls should look are wrong. You’re perfect the way you are – you haven’t even stopped growing yet! Stop reading them and find a better role model than the stick insects filling all those must-have magazines.

When you are older and enjoying life you will see that there are more important things in life than losing weight. If when you’re older and still not happy about the way you look, then do something about it. Just be happy in your own skin.

4. The day will come where there will be no more exams, essays or homework. And it will be glorious.

Yes, you read that right. There will come a day where you have no homework to do. At all. Long nights and alarms waking you up at stupid o’clock because you just couldn’t be bothered to finish your science homework last night will be no more!

It may seem that all your time is occupied by homework and exam revision, but it won’t be like this forever. You will enjoy the world of work, and you might even enjoy taking some work home when you’re older. I know it’s hard revising for subjects you don’t enjoy, but revising now and getting the grades means you won’t have to do it later. All this revision now means less revision in the future and more time to work on something you enjoy!

5. Your mother is right about almost everything.

I can’t believe I wrote that statement, let alone agree with it. More than ten years on I now realise all those arguments and tellings-off were most probably because mum was looking out for me. It wasn’t all her fault – a lot of it lies at my door.

Taking a coat on a night out, wearing smaller heels to parties and not wearing make-up to impress boys are all good ideas. We forget that our mothers have been through this with their mothers, and they pass on what they learnt to us. In the immortal words of The Spice Girls:

“Back then I didn’t know why, why you were misunderstood, So now I see through your eyes, all that you did was love” – Mama, The Spice Girls.

So listen to your mother! She really cares.

What I learnt at University.

University is one of the most challenging three/four years of your life, and as well as learning from books and mentors, you can also learn a lot about yourself.

If you went to University straight after leaving school, then you will know that in those three/four years you will do more growing up and learn far more about yourself than any other time in your life.

You begin your University life as a fresh faced innocent “young adult” who is determined to work as hard as possible, unaware of the temptations of very cheap drinks at the SU’s most nights and the dreaded 9am starts you are about to face! You start a brand new journey of your life, unaware that these years could change you forever. Here’s the three most important things I learnt from my time:

1. You will meet friends for life.

Of course there is plenty of studying and all nighters to finish that essay you haven’t started but is due in at 8am, but through all of this you will have friends by your side. Good friends. Friends you will argue with, scream with, laugh with, cry with, but a few good ones will stay with you and you’ll be happy they have.

Graduation seems like a lifetime away during your first year, but before you know it you’ll be ordering your cap and gown and stressing out over which dress to wear and which heels will be both comfortable and ooze a little sophistical now you are a post grad.

Goodness knows how many pictures are taken on graduation, but I know that the people in those pictures were good friends, and still are. It’s true what they say, boyfriends and girlfriends come and go, but friends are with you for life, and I am so happy I can look at those pictures and smile knowing these wonderful people are still a big part of my life!

2. Yes, your student loan is wonderful, but money isn’t everything…

Ah student loans, I do miss them. Receiving a lump sum every term is lovely, but I learnt that money does not buy you happiness, your friends provide that.

We all know student life means cheap drinks and cheap food because after our student fees and accommodation are paid off, there’s not that much left over. And so we are left to our own devices.

I remember spending many evenings in the University’s music studios trying to play instruments and singing along (badly) to classic songs with great friends. We didn’t need money, we had found good company and enjoyed our time together. Little did we know our carefree years would fly by us and we would soon be facing grown up life will of responsibilities and never ending bills, where money is more of an issue than we’d like.

Maybe it would be nice to go back, to live an easier life, but I suppose we all need to grow up sometime. *Sigh*.

3. Life.goes.on

University life is full of ups and downs, and I’m afraid that post-grad life is just the same. It may seem that there are more downs then ups, but life throws challenges at you, and the best thing you can do is to deal with it as best you can.

Life goes on after University,but it is a different life. A life we must enjoy and appreciate and one where we do not dwell on our past. The past is full of great memories, but that is all they are, memories. We must live in the present and look to the future, and be grateful for the friends we have made, the memories we can look back on and the excitement of the unknown that is ahead of us.

‘Isn’t that just kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic?’

Ah, Love. That pain in the ass feeling that can put you up on Cloud 9 making you feel so high and happy with life, or can be so gut-wrenchingly painful that you wonder why you ever let your heart fall for him in the first place!

We are told time and time again to follow our hearts and to tell people how we feel before its too late, because life is too short and we should but its not that easy is it?

We aren’t all living in a fairy tale where love at first exists or us girls are merely waiting for Prince Charming to appear and ride off into the sunset and of course live happily ever after!

Now I’m not trying to be pessimistic. Honestly.

I think when it comes to love I’m a realist. I want to believe in soul mates, and there’s that one special person out there for everyone, but what if you don’t find that person? What if we don’t find them or even worse, we do find them and we mess it up! What happens then? Are we done? That’s it, you had your chance. Forever alone?!

If Sex and the city taught us anything (apart from that Brooklyn is the new Manhattan of course), is that love can surprise you. Just when you think you have fallen for the right man, something happens and all of a sudden he’s gone. Just like that. You have to get used to not seeing or speaking to that person every day and it can be really hard. I mean, who honestly thought Carrie would end up with Big?

The man broke her heart time and time again and even married a ‘stick insect with a bullshit name’ before realising that Carrie was ‘the one’.

In real life, would this actually happen? Surely if the man you once loved moved on and married someone else, you would call it quits, right?

While writing this, I could not stop researching into facts and figures about love.

I read that a huge 73% of people ‘settled’ with their current partner because they couldn’t be with their true love, but 46% of them would leave their relationships to be with their true love!

So why do we settle, why don’t we take that risk follow our hearts?Personally, I think we are afraid. Afraid of rejection and hearing what you really don’t want to, and kicking yourself for thinking you could have prevented it but you thought you’d try the whole ‘listen to your heart’ line!

Love is out there. I know sometimes it feels like it doesn’t. And it can be the worst pain in the world (no exaggeration) but when it’s good and real and true( yes i said it) it’s so worth it.

Let’s not stop believing because, despite everything, your heart knows what you want. And you can fight it as much as you want, it will win in the end.

Our ‘Big’ Issue

As simple enough as it sounds, a lot of us know it is not easy to feel comfortable in our own skins, to look in the mirror and think ‘Yes, I’m happy with that.’ I’ll admit that I do envy those who say that and actually mean it.

As a child I never worried about weight or how I looked. Or so I thought. A few days ago I found my dusty old diary in our attic and an entry I’d written as a young teenage girl really surprised me. I wrote that I was not happy about my weight and even added “must lose weight immediately!” I thought back to that age and realised that was actually a little underweight back then. That entry actually made me feel really sad – clearly body image has been a personal issue for me since I was a young teen, a time when it shouldn’t have been an issue at all!

The perfect body?

I was never the slimmest, the quickest,or the prettiest in my school, but I worked hard and was happy with my grades. At the age of thirteen I thought the perfect body were those of Kate Moss and Rachel from Friends. Women like them were always plastered on the front of magazines full of articles promising that you, too, could lose weight in eight weeks and feel so much better for it!  When I was growing up I can’t ever remember seeing a front cover girl who wasn’t stick think, blonde with a perfectly tanned and toned body. Of course, at the time it didn’t occur to me that these women had to look like this for their jobs, or had personal trainers to keep them in shape, that they felt the pressure to look good when the paparazzi unexpectedly turned up.

If these images are embedded in our minds from such a young age how are we meant to know what a good body image is? How are we meant to feel good about ourselves when the media is telling us we need to look a certain way to feel good?  Is it these women in magazines or is it normal, real-life women that we should look up to? It’s no wonder we are a nation obsessed with our bodies!

According to UK Feminista online, a recent Ofsted survey revealed that 1 in 3 girls said their bodies were their main worry by the age of just 10 years old.

I often wonder if these perceptions will ever change. If we’ll manage to ignore the media messages telling us to look one way, and feel good and happy about the way we are.

Saying this there are many sportswomen, singers, and actresses who do believe that our body image is not the most important thing in our lives. These women are trying to tell us to be ok with who we are, and to ignore what the media perceives as ‘perfect’.

“I want women to know that it’s okay. That you can be whatever size you are and you can be beautiful inside and out. We’re always told what’s beautiful, and what’s not, and that’s not right.”

 – Serena Williams, Professional Tennis player.

“You shouldn’t be pressured into trying to be thin by the fashion industry, because they only want models that are like human mannequins.”

– Rihanna, singer.

These women refuse to let others dictate how they should look and are a brilliant inspiration to everyone who feels insecure about themselves.

90% of women see their bodies as 25% bigger than they actually. It’s shocking but believable, but something needs to change.

We may adore these famous women, look up to them, but can we really take their advice and believe in what they are saying? Will we ever realise that we are OK as we are and do not need anyone or anything telling us otherwise?

The problem with Carrie Bradshaw…

Dear Carrie,

I’m writing as a fan and more importantly a friend.

I have followed your struggle for love in New York and have studied your love life since day 1, and I would love to share my thoughts with you over a Cosmopolitan or three, but this letter will have to do the trick.

First of all, you are fabulous Miss Bradshaw, despite what others might say, and you are lucky to have three best friends who have proven they will stick with you through thick and thin, and more importantly, they will not judge. Good friends never judge.

I think on some occasions, you should have put them first, and forgotten about your problems for a while, because your friends definitely had bigger problems than you on certain occasions!

I’m pretty sure that babies, marriages, cancer and cheating are all vital issues that could have been easier with a friend who’s not so wrapped up in herself!

Your fashion taste is a little extreme on times, but hey, if you like it, go for it! There aren’t many people out there who can say they are true to themselves, you, my dear, are the exception.

Now, I’m not one to tell people how to spend their money, but I really don’t know how you can justify paying £4,000 on a pair of shoes, when you struggle to pay the rent. Those shoes in particular were very nice but are they worth losing a roof over your head?

And please STOP complaining about the space of your closet and how you’re going to fit all your clothes in it! You should have made it bigger/bought less clothes/ spent less money or even realised that there are more important things then where you’re going to get your Louis Vuitton’s!

Aiden OR Big. You don’t get to have them both. Yes, they are both charming and good looking guys and I realise you have history with both men, but I hope you’re happy with your choice now, because there is no going back.

Carrie, I admire you as do thousands of other women. But try being a little more sensitive/caring/thoughtful to others. And under no circumstances, do not ever send a boyfriend to help your friend when she has fallen in the bath! That was a big NO NO!

Carrie, you have come a long way but keep in mind that you are an inspiration to thousands of women!

Stay fabulous!

Your friend

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