The past is never too far, hidden but not forgotten.

Isn’t it an ugly thing when you realise that the past isn’t so distant. All those demons you thought you dealt with and let go, only to realise you never actually did let them go. You just painted over them and hoped they would go away and never revisit you. You fooled yourself and started to live your life again walking through it all blindly. But old ghosts do come back to life. They are timeless and they are waiting in the wings when something triggers your past while creating your present. Unfortunately, I’ve been having my fair share of shocks this past year, pretty much all of them ugly and uninvited. But who said the battle was easy or pain-free? Not for the faint-hearted indeed and certainly a few broken bones and sliced flesh. Well I feel it viscerally and it hits me deep, opening roughly papered over wounds; wounds that never had a chance to heal because I ignored it all and buried my head in the ground. It wasn’t intentional at all, it was just my immediate and only reaction at the time. It is how I deal with problems. Not a very good way indeed, but the only way my brain saw since the memories were too visual, too traumatic and too horrible to relive. But I am forcing myself to feel the pain and relive it, because it’s the only way I’ve realised to move forward and actually learn from it this time properly. You cannot prevent or control other people’s actions. You can only control how you react to something.

I’m going to start with a short story. Six years ago, I was sexually assaulted by my uncle. I wasn’t raped, but I was assaulted and touched inappropriately. It happened on two separate occasions and the only thing I could do at the time was freeze in disbelief. When someone you have trusted for your whole life does something so unspeakable, in my mind I could do nothing. I had no power despite my brain screaming, because the truth is, I didn’t understand how this could be happening. Only the second time was I really sure that the first time actually happened. I hadn’t just conjured it up in my mind. This probably doesn’t make sense, but I have realised that we live in a world where not all women have a voice. We have been taught subconsciously perhaps to smile, to look pretty and to stay silent. The latter is what I did. I stood still and silent, my body on fire and my mind in a state of pure confusion and naivety. He said to me that I am a loving and kind child. I didn’t know if he still thought I was a child. I didn’t have counselling, but I did tell my family and friends. My mother was furious at what her brother had done, so she turned him out. No-one wanted him not because of what happened since that remained a secret, but just because he was old and a burden. He died 2 years later. I remember the last time I saw him a year before he passed away. I held him at arms length and I kissed his cheek tentatively memories of the past still on my mind yet knowing it wouldn’t be long till he would die. In that moment, the hate subsided and all I felt was pure pity. Later, news of his death did not affect me. I was not sad, nor was I happy. I felt nothing but anger.

After that event though, I subconsciously isolated myself. I wanted a boyfriend and yet I didn’t. I didn’t want to be touched. Not by anyone and not by any man. Not long after I was assaulted again on a night bus on the way home after a night out. I was drunk, trying my best not to sleep so I wouldn’t miss the stop, I was simply sprawled on the seats. I was touched inappropriately again. I was drunk, but I still knew what was going on. I just couldn’t scream no or react this time because I was too drunk. I tried to slap his hand away but it was so weak. My mind was completely rational, but my body was paralysed by alcohol and extreme exhaustion.

Bad choices, bad decisions, young, inexperience, naivety and self-blame. I took responsibility for my actions. But again, my skin crawled. No amount of washing that day could clean me. I felt violated and completely out of control yet again. Many women have this experience and people blame them saying it’s your own fault. But that’s simply not fair. There are always two sides to a coin.

I am not sure when it began but from a moment in time, I closed myself off completely. My trust for all men went out the window. I am always weary of men. Especially the ones who tell me how beautiful and kind I am. Some people take advanatge of kindness, but does it mean I should stop being kind? I don’t think so. But I also know that being kind and saying no is equally important. Some men don’t understand no. They can’t believe no. How many times do I have to say no? Why won’t a firm no suffice?

So what triggered my thoughts?

I went on a solo trip and at the end of my trip when I travelled with one of the host members back to the main city as he was going the same place, he started to confess his ‘feelings’. He’s married with a child. He was meant to visit his child. It got awkward. It got strange and he used the words ‘special’, ‘kind’ and countless other crap I’ve heard. I don’t say that to boast, as if I’ve had many experiences. I have many negative ones so I am weary of the words. I say it because it is bullshit. The lines “Why don’t you have a boyfriend, you’re so kind and fun.” are said too many times that I know when it is not genuine or when alarm bells ring warning of interest. He insisted then that he wanted to drive me home which was a 3 hour drive. I politely refused. Said it was too kind but no thank you. He persisted and I firmly insisted I was fine. I didn’t need a lift, I was happy with the coach. It became uncomfortable. Still he insisted and still I declined. It was too far, and he admitted it wasn’t kind, it was only for me this special attention. How many times must I say no? I said it 5 times. Still before I left he said, “If you change your mind, tell me.” I ended up running as soon as I got out the car. It sounds dramatic, I was late meeting a friend and still he tried to stall for time. I was fearful because I thought he might follow me. He was so persistent, it was almost scary. So I fled as soon as I could. As soon as I got out, that was my first instinct. I think it’s important to follow instincts. I felt shit afterwards. I felt dirty. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I don’t believe there is, but I couldn’t help the feelings of disgust.

I don’t believe he would have hurt me. I think he was trying to be kind. I think things got out of control because he became inappropriate. But this time I was firm. I was clear. I spoke up and still he didn’t listen. People only hear what they want to hear, but they don’t really listen. I don’t trust men. I don’t trust persistent people when I refuse an offer. I have a few male friends and off course I can’t blame all men and wouldn’t want to. I do believe there are some good guys out there. But I don’t always trust the good ones either. I have a big problem with trust. I have a lot of open wounds. But I am trying to learn and fight back.

No means no. It never means yes.

It was never meant to be a goodbye

The hardest thing for me was not leaving. That was the easy part. Goodbyes aren’t easy, but packing the bags, walking through the gate towards a new adventure, now that’s exciting. I didn’t dwell on the goodbyes. But I have realised 9.5 months down the line that the hardest part was deciding to stay. For those who need some context, I live in Japan and have been here since August, last year. It didn’t faze me quitting my well paid job for one with a much lower salary and more of a ‘risk’ some would say. But this was my dream which had come true. This is no longer my dream now that I have achieved my goal to come and live here. It is a beautiful country with kind people, but now the dream has been realised.

Five months down the line, we had to make the difficult decision to re-contract for another year. At this point it would mean 1.5 years left in this country. I wasn’t sure I had achieved all that I wanted so I decided to stay because I felt there was more to discover and a year was too short. But reflecting over my life since being here, I have experienced some wonderful things, but also my fair share of crap. I have been at my lowest and it has been a very painful journey, yet it’s not the end. I wonder when the pain will subside. I feel like I live in a bubble. I feel like I’ve lost my way. I feel like this isn’t reality. Since coming to Japan, I’ve lost sight of my dreams and goals because the cold, hard truth is that I don’t have any. I don’t know where I am going in my life and I don’t know what I’ll do, but that’s okay for now. It’s okay to be lost, I just hope I won’t stay in Purgatory forever.

I don’t regret my decision, but I do wonder what if. Being so far away from home has made me realise and appreciate what I have at home; my family, my friends and an exciting life in London. I miss them all – I’ve never felt so alone as I have here, or maybe I have and I’ve forgotten. It’s in the daily routines and simple things that I remember the beautiful and the memories come swarming back. I miss my family very much. I miss hugs. I miss the smiles. I miss the internet sometimes when I don’t have it. I miss water when I don’t have that. In times like this I think about the people I love and how I left them behind without so much a second thought, but now I am constantly thinking of them; constantly reminded.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I made the difficult decision to continue to stay here even though I am deeply unhappy. I’ve made my bed and now it’s time to lie in it. But I’m not scared. I love my children at school and I am hoping I will be able to heal and rebuild myself. “Always stay calm in any situation” – that is the lesson I am fast learning.

I hope this isn’t where we say goodbye, because to me it was never a goodbye. It was a see you soon. I just didn’t realise a see you soon wouldn’t actually be soon, but what feels like a lifetime. I’ll be home for a holiday soon; it’ll be short-lived but refreshing. I think I’ve lost those rose-tinted glasses now. I think it’ll be time to go back soon and find a new dream. Soon I’ll be saying goodbye to myself – goodbye to the past and the present. Goodbye for now.

When you’re actually going crazy…

WARNING: This is a long post.

So I wrote my last post about three weeks ago, however I lied and things have worsened so quickly in a short space of time. I didn’t publish it then hence why I published it today. In my last post, I wrote about being happy with my life here, but in actual fact, I wasn’t completely happy. Happy to write yes, but I was hurt by what my brother said and I was trying to prove that I was okay. I am not okay. Since then things have severely deteriorated. I am facing a brick wall and I can’t smash it down.

It all started with my brother cussing me, then my realisation that I had to change my attitude towards him, because we have this messed up relationship where I used to idolise him and see him as superior and myself as inferior. I knew I had to change but I also knew that change would take time, space and a lot of effort. That’s when the world decided to shit on me all at once.

After a few days battling with my emotions, I experienced my first major earthquake. I can’t tell you how that feels like when you’re driving and everything around you is bouncing and swinging towards you, including the signposts and traffic lights while your car is swerving out of control from side to side. At first I didn’t understand what was going on until my phone was blaring at me in Japanese, “Jeshin desu, jeshin desu!” which means you guessed it, “Earthquake!” I heard it before and I’d seen the warnings around school, so I knew what it meant but I never knew it would happen so powerfully. It was a magnitude 6.4 I later found out, but I was so out of it, the experience left me feeling dizzy and disorientated. So much so that I had to stop immediately after and safely park somewhere. All I wanted to do was get home, but my phone was buzzing from all the texts from everyone. I made it home but experienced a few aftershocks. My house was alright, nothing damaged so it was okay.

Nevertheless I stayed at one of my student’s house for the night and returned the next day for school and home. I only got about 2/3 hours sleep as we were up till 2:30am watching the news and I had to leave at 5am. Typical Japan, we still have to go to work even after an earthquake. #thiscountrystopsfornoone. Later I went home and it was only late at night I discovered my flight to the Philippines was cancelled. I was vexed. How could this happen 2 weeks before I was due to fly out? I called my friend who I am going with to the Philippines to check if her flight was cancelled too. After I planned to call the agency but it was too late by the time I got off the phone with my friend what with the time difference I had miscalculated and their offices had just closed. It was 10 minutes after getting off the phone with my friend that I experienced my second earthquake and this time it was far, far worse. Magnitude 7.1 which caused havoc and destruction around the whole of Kumamoto prefecture. My house shook like thunder had just struck – so violently that my ceiling light fell narrowly avoiding my head which is when I was alerted to the big earthquake. I quickly ducked under the table, but my God I watched as my glasses, plates and everything came crashing out of my cupboard and smashed into smithereens around me, as the cooking oil and other containers spilled their oily substance onto the floor, the furniture all around me shaking and groaning. I screamed out and cursed because in that moment I feared for my life I couldn’t stop crying, even after it finished causing it’s havoc.

I come from a country which has zero earthquakes and during the past 9 months, I have experienced a strong typhoon, a heavy snowstorm, 5 major earthquakes and over 700 aftershocks. I ran out my house crying unable to stem the tears. It was then I was struck with the horrible realisation that I was all alone in a foreign country, I couldn’t speak the language, didn’t know where to go and I had no-one. I was wrong off course, I had my student who immediately phoned me and drove like crazy to pick me up. I was so incoherent on the phone I couldn’t even talk, but I was grateful, I had her, because otherwise I’d really have no-one. I stayed with her for two more nights but again I had a severe lack of sleep, I couldn’t concentrate. I went home after two days and got to work cleaning hoping for no more earthquakes. I didn’t get my wish. Two days later another magnitude 5 earthquake struck. More broken glass. What’s the point of cleaning? I don’t even react to the aftershocks anymore. I am on edge and anxious, but I know what to do now. But it’s almost as if I’ve become desensitized to them.

Since then, my life has gotten progressively worse, not just because of the earthquake, but because I am alone. I am deeply unhappy, I am depressed and I have to go to school every day and pretend I am happy and fine. I can’t fake the smiles anymore. I feel too much. I cry every night and I drink to help numb the pain. It doesn’t help, but I don’t care, it’s my comfort.

Japanese society can be so harsh on women, I really do feel it, especially when I am questioned mercilessly by my Board of Education. “Why were you there?” “You went to the mall by yourself? Alone?”, “You didn’t meet friends?” I know what they were saying, could see the judgement and disapproval written all over their faces, the unbelief and disgust. Why the hell should I have to explain myself to you? I am an adult, I can do what I want. I came here by myself so I can go to the mall by myself, even if it is late at night. Why is that so bad? Why do you look down on me just because I am a woman. A man wouldn’t get this kind of treatment.

I want to go home, but I can’t. I have so many problems, not all listed but I can’t escape them. I can’t take the bored, the refusal for help from my students, the stubbornness and the attitude. I don’t care. I can’t deal with your stupid tantrums because I have bigger fish to fry. Namely do I stay or do I leave? Do I stay and continue to cry and slowly go insane or do I leave and start over? I don’t know if I’m giving up and failing or doing what’s best? I don’t know anything anymore.

 

When the world thinks you’re crazy

It’s been a long time, my old friend. I’ve been busy but that’s not stopped the inner turmoil swirling around in my mind. I thought I had dealt with my problems, I had mild depression in January after a difficult winter. I was trying my best to look at the positives. Writing is the only way I can express myself and I feel like no-one understands that except my best friend. Let me explain. I write about dark themes, sexual assault, abuse, boredom, reality. They’re unpleasant topics, they’re not easy, even for me they are challenging to write, but they are what I want to write about. I’ve tried writing about other things, fantasy, romance, but the topic I always seem to come back to is abuse. I am a generally happy person, I have a loving family and nice friends. I may be a little weird, but I am not crazy. I love philosophy, I like cooking, reading, eating, watching movies and other stuff. I do think about societal problems, body image portrayed in the media, sexism, feminism, labels and other difficult topics. I am aware that abuse comes in many forms and can be carried out by both men and women and that is what I am trying to express in my book.

I am a very sensitive person. Yes, I live alone in a foreign country and contrary to popular belief among family and friends, I am very happy with my life here. But living all alone in another country where English is not the first language has a way of making you view things clearly, it gives one clarity. It’s given me some hard truths I’ve had to face. The more I interact and talk to people, the more I want to hide away and crawl back into a shell. Maybe that’s what I need to do, get away from people for a while.

I don’t appreciate the judgement and constant put downs from my brother. It’s not fair. Why is it okay that some people can write about murder, psychopaths etc. but I am not allowed to write about abuse? Doesn’t mean something is wrong with those people or that they are secret psychopaths. So just like that, just because I want to write about abuse, doesn’t mean something is wrong with me. I’ve experienced it, I want to write about it, I want to raise awareness and write about the challenges. It’s not easy for me to write, but it is what I write. It is what comes naturally to mind.

I wish my family would leave me alone, but I understand why they’re worried.

What I’ve done

So it’s not been the best of starts to 2016, but there have been some notable adventures worth mentioning. Let’s start with the positive:

  1. I visited Mt. Fuji which was just incredible – there’s nothing like looking at a beautiful snow-capped mountain and knowing your problems are minuscule in those blessed few hours. Unfortunately it doesn’t last, but the exquisiteness and memory will constantly seek to remind you.
  2. I met some great people on New Years but then there was a falling out between my best friend and one of the girls because of her passive aggressiveness and rudeness. Made things complicated, still the positive memories are worth holding onto.
  3. I returned back to school knowing I was wanted at least at my favourite elementary school. But I wonder whether I can do this for another year.

It’s only been 8 days so that’s all I have but intermingled with the positives are the negatives. Since 16th December 2015, I have been facing some challenges and going through a period of extreme loneliness despite being surrounded by my family. I suppose it happened when they started to leave to go back one by one until only one was left standing. We parted ways yesterday and I don’t know when I’ll next see them. It could be 7 months or it could be a year or even a year and a half and that’s if I decide to stay in Japan for another year.

Living in Japan comes with many amazing opportunities and moments, though as with living anywhere life gets in the way and tries to smack you down just when you think your confidence is increasing. That is until life reminds you it’s not you’re just living a lie.

Last year the thing I feared most when driving happened and I hit a child on a bicycle. He’s okay, but I wasn’t. Within that moment I thought I had taken a life. Oh how quick it happens, how everything can change in a moment’s notice. How horrifyingly scary and yet I immediately stopped the car and shaken walked over to the kid. He protested that he was fine, I spoke to his parents later and they assured me he was okay. It didn’t help that I couldn’t effectively communicate in the same language, but I am grateful he was okay. No matter who was in the wrong, as the driver I am still responsible and it is my fault for not spotting him until it was too late. Blind corners are the worst, but I am haunted by the memories and although I still drive, I am afraid history will repeat itself. It was an accident, these things happen I am told, but what if something worse occurred? I don’t think I could live with myself and thus began the consistent questioning ever since. Can I live this life? Can I stay here? Will others be safe from me? Will I hurt someone else? I could easily leave, but I’m not sure that’s wise. I think I’ll be forever running fearful to continue. I can’t live like this and so went my confidence down the drain. That’s the start of when my world decided to crumble. I’m not happy. I’m always angry. I hate myself. I hate that there are some things I can’t control. I hate that I get jealous when there’s no need. I hate that I have let people drag me through the mud. I hate that I don’t have the confidence I need. How can I teach others when I am completely lacking myself?

I am trying to deal with this coupled with my shaken confidence, my low self-esteem and low self-worth. I get angry so easily and it builds up inside. I let it go when I visited Mt. Fuji, but now all that remains is Facebook and it’s jealousy. Why is everyone having a ball and I’m left standing in a freezer? Why does it look like everything else that people are doing is more fun? Why do I continue to compare myself? Why do I hate myself so much? It is a bad habit and one that Facebook does not help, but instead perpetuates. It’s as if I’m looking from afar into the interesting lives of others, but I can’t reach them. I’m the outsider looking from the window but not participating or even a part of the group. The truth is I don’t like them, I don’t want to be a part of it, I just want the adventures with friends, the fun and I want a set of friends to travel with. But the world doesn’t work the way you want it to and you don’t always get what you want so I am dealing with it. I am dealing with loneliness and the fight. It’s a constant battle and sometimes I think it would just be easier to surrender and take the easy way out, but something within me can’t, because that wouldn’t work either, I’d still have the same problems.

There are too many memories that have the power to either control you or haunt you, but that’s if you choose to let them, so it’s a tricky game. They are not just memories to look over fondly or dispassionately, they are a part of you and your past whether you like it or not. They made you the person you are today.

It’s decision time soon and the clock is ticking. Will I stay or will I leave? Will I hide or will I face those ugly demons? I don’t know yet, but only time will tell.

This is me! Self-discovery alas….

So today I am writing about self-confidence and personal freedom. Last week I did something I wouldn’t usually do- I saw an offer to take up yogapilates and I grabbed it and decided to go for it. What do I have to lose right? So I was meant to go last Thursday but the timetable was changed and instead they gave me a free class of Pilates on Saturday! I wasn’t nervous and I feel like I have turned over a new leaf. No in fact I feel like I have rediscovered myself- the person I used to be- someone who had little fear and would just go for things! It made me realise that I do a lot of things by myself and I am not afraid to do it. I am independent! I don’t need a friend, boyfriend or parent to hold my hand and take me to the class. I noticed a lot of people brought friends, boyfriends or someone they knew with them to the class and I felt proud of myself that I could do things by myself. It also made me think back to all the things I have been doing by myself. It made me reflect about all those times I did things alone- the time when I was in my 2nd year of university and I wanted to join a club so I decided to join the University Club- I knew no one but I was not afraid, I travelled in the night alone (I was crazy travelling late at night in the darkness trying to find this climbing wall!) I am reckless sometimes, but I don’t feel alone! A presence is out there and I believe it to be God! Others may call it something else but this isn’t about belief- this is about taking chances. Anyway like I was saying I met new people but the point is I started it alone.

I decided to work in America for 2.5 months and then travel for another 2 months! I really don’t think things through but I am spontaneous! I don’t plan, well I do but not meticulously! I went to America naive thinking everything will be fine without little preparation and boy did I get the shock of my life! But again I reiterate I did it alone! I was not afraid to travel alone, to meet new people. It was a great experience looking back. I have been concentrating too much on the negative and now looking back I think of the positive. I am not afraid to jump into the deep end and that is something I have been overlooking for some time! I may be slow sometimes, act silly, say stupid things and talk like a baby around family but I am 21! I like to live and learn. I like experiencing new things. I like being a kid around my family and messing about. I don’t want to always be serious. Sometimes I ask stupid questions without thinking, so sue me!?!

I have no one to travel with and I would love to travel but I have always been forced to do things by myself because no one wants to join me! I ask friends if they want to go on holiday and they say yes but nothing ever comes from it. I search and then I realise they are not serious about it! I say I want to join a dance club and they agree but again if it doesn’t meet their schedule or it is just an idea then we can’t do it. I can’t dance very well and my co-ordination but I don’t care I am willing to try which is one of the most important things! Don’t kick me out because I suck- at least I am trying which is more than most people can say! (Not that I have been kicked out! 😉 I’m just saying!) The difference with me is when I have an idea I like to follow through with it! I am not one of those people who sit there dreaming- well actually I am but I also take action too! In my first year I told a friend I want more and I want to be more adventurous and join the climbing club; he laughed. Two years later I met him again and he told me that he did not actually think I would follow through because they were just dreams! But I will if I want something.

Some people may think I lead a lonely life and maybe I kind of do- I have no husband, boyfriend, but I do have friends and they don’t cling to me, nor do I cling to them. I don’t need anyone to do something I want to do and that feels great because I can just do it!!!! I can’t express the feeling but it feels like true freedom! I looked around when I went to this Pilates class and realised I am here by myself and I don’t care. I know no-one but again I don’t care. I am here to exercise and meet new people and have fun. It was a great class! you can really work out a sweat! Anyway the main thing is that if you are alone it doesn’t matter because you can do whatever you want! What’s there to be afraid of? I am re-discovering myself and day by day I feel like I am growing in confidence! This is my chance to shine- I just hope I make the most of all the opportunities that come my way! NO MORE REGRETS! I am strong and I can do anything I want! I am happy in that knowledge because I know I have come so far! 🙂

Beautiful Strangers

So it has been some time writing down my thoughts but sometimes I feel like it wouldn’t be right to say what I think. Some things are just best left inside right? Lately I’ve been feeling a little blue- well when do I ever not feel blue! I seem to go through periods of happiness, sadness, reflection and boredom. I get bored very easily with my life. But some good news to share is that I finally found a job which I have been in for 2 months but it is a temporary contract so its been extended till end of May which is great. The job itself is interesting and the work is varied though I must admit I don’t really like the prospect of staring at a computer 5 days a week constantly form 9am-5:30pm! Its just boring and it makes me lazy. I want my work to be varied in the sense I want to move around, do things not just sitting down but be active too. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful for this job especially to be at a good medium sized corporate company. I get some free lunches, treats sometimes and the people are nice enough, the work is varied so what more can I ask for in a job? Well one very important thing I’ve come to realise as a priority is communication. I want more communication with people. People are fascinating and have so many stories to share. So many lives- so many experiences and most people have substance. I like talking to people – I like making friends, but somehow no one wants to talk- no one wants to share. I find it very hard to break down barriers and walls people build. Whatever happened to those lovely people you can strike up a conversation with on the train/bus? Where did all those wonderful people go? When you bump into the most unlikely people who just lift your spirits. Those who are passionate about life and try and infuse that passion within others. I met a guy in a shop once who asked me why I look so sad? I should be happy I have friends, family and life. I smiled and he lifted up my spirits. But I don’t meet those fantastic and amazing people who can touch your lives with just a few words. You never forget the people who strike up a conversation with you. They may be pushed to the back of your minds but their memory never fades- well for me at least!

Anyway as I was saying people at work hold you at a distance. No one wants to get to know you and there is that distance. When I first arrived a few came up to me and said “oh if you need anything then I sit here” but why offer something when they don’t mean it. They don’t expect you to actually come up and say hi. What happened to making people feel at home? Inclusivity! The other day half the office went to the pub but what about inviting the rest? Not even the poor guy sitting next to them was invited. You take what you get from a place and I know what I’ll certainly be taking is experience. But I certainly won’t be taking friends. People aren’t as friendly there and I think its a great learning curb for me to know and understand what’s important in a job. Maybe a corporate environment is just not for me. I want to go out after work with the office crowd to the pub! I want to get to know others who I work with. So what to do? Wait to be invited right? No I am not waiting for anyone. I already have some amazing friends. All I’ll do is continue being me and I’ll move forward with or without making new friends.

I hope I will find myself one day. I already know who I am but what I mean is that I hope I will find the right job for me- one that I will enjoy with all my heart. Here’s to the hopeful future! And here’s to all those amazing strangers who have such a positive impact on others. I hope they continue to still do that for that presence is strong indeed. They are beautiful strangers and most of their hearts are made of gold.

Change is harder than people think….

“A great writer reveals the truth even when he or she does not wish to.” Tom Bissell- This quote popped up after I published this article and I just had to include it because it was very true for this story of mine. So without further ado here is some of my ugly truth.

So I recently successfully completed a telephone interview and I have an assessment day on Wednesday but I am very scared, but  I don’t really know why. I suppose it is because of the failures of my last interviews and I am afraid of how people perceive me. But the truth is I am trying to find myself and this day is for a job in sales. Everyone says that people should follow their dreams, but this is not my dream and I know in my heart that this job is not the right one for me. I want to run and not take part. I want to ring up and say I am not interested but that is the coward in me who doesn’t want to bother with the effort or the research. I hate presentations and I don’t want to do it so I want to run. But there is always something in me which stops me from quitting- which makes me face the things I hate. Because if I don’t face them I’ll always be scared and run away. If I don’t try I’ll never know. That is the part of me I love and hate at the same time. If I give up now there’s no point because I didn’t even try. Even though I don’t want the job, the experience of the interview is good. But another part of me says what’s the point? I should save myself the humiliation! Well who knows I could meet some very nice people. I could actually learn something. I could stop running from my fears. No I don’t really want this job, but I do want to try and experience things. For me jumping out of a plane or para-sailing is far more exciting, but it is also a lot more dangerous.

That day I answered the call- I didn’t care I just went for it because I knew I had nothing to lose and I didn’t really care. But now, now that I have passed the interview I do care. Or perhaps it is that I care about how I look in front of top business people. I don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of them. I don’t want to fail. I just want to get this over and done with but at the same time I want to run in the other direction and not face this day.

Recently I have been fearing the future. I don’t know why but it was my graduation last week and I was not looking forward to the stress, seeing people, the fear of tripping over my heels. But on the day during they ceremony I felt blessed. I felt so happy- going up for my certificate I had no time to be scared because I was happy. This was what I worked 3 years for. All my hard work paid off. So why didn’t I want to face the day? Can you imagine what would have happened if I missed it? I would have missed out on such much! On such a momentous and important day for me. Granted there was a lot of people I didn’t want to see and didn’t want to talk to and I didn’t really talk to them because who says you have to? University is over. All that matters is what you achieved and who you are.

After America over the summer I have not been the same. I thought I hadn’t changed which I disliked because I wished to change- I wanted to be more confident but the truth is I had changed. I had become worse, more fearful, more reserved and quiet! I came to hate myself. Such a shame just as I was coming out of my shell after all the good uni had done! Even after these few months I hated me. I wanted to forget. I wanted to forget when people hurt me. I wanted to forget everything. I was ashamed. Why? Because I did not like me. Why did I care so much what people think? I don’t know. When I spoke to someone they said why would you want to change? You’re fine the way you are! Well I think I do need to change some things but I am fine. I’ll take that!

The problem is I let my insecurities rule me and I let fear control me. I hate it and I am trying to change it. I am trying to change me for the better. But it is no easy process. Things happen for a reason. The other day someone asked me what my dream job would be and I thought and in my head I had absolutely no idea! But because I needed an answer I said I would like to have been an author. Truthfully I don’t think I would have! I like writing stories- but for myself and for my friends. Perhaps I would have liked to have been a doctor. No maybe I would have liked to have worked for a charity. I still could- I like helping people so I could work for a charity. Maybe I will try it. It’s not impossible and completely out of my reach unlike medicine where I actually need a medical degree.

Nothing is impossible! I just have to keep telling myself that. I need to change. I need to wake up and be positive. I need to get back to where I began. When I was a baby I had no care in the world and was not affected by any external judgements. So I can’t get back that far. But I can shield myself from criticism. I can choose not to let things affect me. It is hard to change, but I must do it. I must be the change I want to be. But most importantly I must learn to love myself.

At least I know that some people love me, my family, friends and most importantly God. That’s right me and the man upstairs are changing the rules. I will not fail. And if I do that’s ok I’ll just get right back up and start again.

Fiction or Reality? I choose getting lost in fiction any day!

So I have recently been reading and thinking. Writers usually write to allow their readers a form of escapism but also it allows them to escape in their own fantasy world. Most plots derive from our fantasies or so it seems, but some things are also mostly based on our experiences, because how can you write about something without having some kind of knowledge of it. This doesn’t necessarily have to be knowledge from the experiences one has had, but it can derive from the experiences of others- though you only see one side of their experience. Not only do you not experience the emotions of pain or happiness that they felt since you cannot feel it thus you cannot truly comprehend it. You could imagine it, but never grasp its reality. But you also only receive their side of the feelings- their words so stories end up twisted from the original truth (or original event that happened). For example if my friend broke up with a guy, I would be hearing her side of the story. How she interprets the situation may be different to how he interprets it. I would not understand how she felt because how can I if I’ve not had the similar experience of breaking up with a guy who I really loved or liked. I could imagine how it would feel, but that would be no good because I didn’t feel the raw emotions of what it is to love in that way, to feel pain or hurt in that specific way. All I would feel is pity for my friend trying to comprehend the way she feels, trying to reassure and comfort her, while secretly thinking and making the mental note never to make the same mistakes that she did. Never to fall in love so that I don’t give anyone the power to hurt me like. But that’s the problem with learning from other people’s mistakes and not learning from your own. You become too cautious to even make mistakes of your own because you are too afraid to do the wrong thing, to be caught in the hole in the ground everyone keeps digging for themselves. There is always someone who tries to lend a hand to a person stuck in that hole, but its up to you to choose whether you need help or even want the help offered or whether you drown in your unhappiness.

Anyway I have digressed, people teach you things whether you realise it or not we are all influenced by our family, friends and random strangers! Despite sometimes not wanting to be, you are. This has somehow drifted into a completely different topic that I no longer know how I got here! I can honestly say I am lost in a rabbit hole but in a different kind- not due to a relationship but coming to terms with what do I do with my life? Where do I go from here now that I have finished my studies? Who can help me? I can only help myself- I have to try, but what I always find that I do- no matter where I run to, where I go what I do- I always seem to try to escape to a different reality. To a fantasy world, to a place of fiction anywhere from the truth. But authors do that too- they try to recreate their own fantasies in their writings, they try to realise the dreams they never fulfilled through their characters giving them the happy ending they never got. Well I wouldn’t say never- just a different happy ending in life. While a book ends mostly happily ever after where the main character wins by defeating the baddie- war between good over evil conquers all. Well this is not the case in life, because there are no happy endings in life. There is no such thing as the prince saving the princess and living happily ever after. What does that even mean anyway? It’s time to grow up and learn that life’s not like a fairytale. Its been said many times but it really is true so why do people continue to read and watch these fairytales wishing they were true. In real life, that does not happen- after happily ever after aka getting married more problems and obstacles arise i.e maintaining a job, growing old, having children etc. Everyone still battles with their demons- but life goes on- no happy end except death. But then is that the ultimate end? So many debates surrounding that topic I won’t get into that now.

Society too has an impact on everything- on our lives, music, movies, books, media etc. The media seem to control what we desire and what we want trying to portray lifestyles we must attain. We try to attain perfection- perfect life, perfect body, the happy ending. But this is all poisonous if it only succeeds in hindering us, by shying away from our bodies, being ashamed. Look at the books that are on our shelves, being sold- they represent the times in which we live in and unfortunately they are all filled with crap! The desire for the superficial rich and famous lifestyle- The good girl getting with the rich rockstar living the dream! What is the dream? What is the life? Everyone is different so surely not everyone wants to be rich and famous. Books nowadays seem to have weak characters especially portraying women as weak, dependent and annoyingly stupid! Look at Twilight- Bella can’t even do anything because she’s so clumsy so Edward must be there all the time to “protect her”. The last thing the world needs is another young woman depicted as a “heroine” when she clearly isn’t! If you want something interesting to read, read the Hunger Games! Mind you it reminds me a little of Battle Royale! Anyone agree? It’s a pretty famous Japanese film! I would look it up if you enjoyed Hunger Games, though it is a lot darker.

Anyway there must lie some truth in a book- yes in the sense they are based on some kind of experience. The characteristics of the protagonist resemble some person or other. The main character normally resembles a person who the author wishes to be- who the author and sometimes reader wish to have the same strong characteristics that make the character strong and likeable who will fight for justice. No one likes a weak character, likewise in this cruel world no one likes a weak person. I wish I could say that I have learnt a lot from my experiences but sometimes it takes something twice as bad to hit you round the head for you to take notice and by then it may be too late. But then hopefully there is never such a thing as being too late. Better to have tried later than never.

Camp America is not all it lives up to….

I am back from four months of being away and you would think I have learnt a lot and grown up. But I have not. I am still pretty much the same person recalling how I thought I would somehow change over the summer. But then some people are just too stubborn to change and that someone might just be me. It’s not that I don’t like change I don’t mind it unless it is change for the worse in my personality or something.

Anyway I went to work in America for 2.5 months at a camp in upstate New York. They say that not all camps are the same and the experience is different at each one, but I doubt I’ll be doing this again. I came out unfulfilled and not impressed with camp. I thought I would love it and have the most amazing summer of my life, but I just came back sad and extremely tired from all the hours they worked us. We were not really allowed to get ill and clogg up the health centre but that is what happens when you overwork people and treat your staff in such a way. The amount of hours I did would be illegal in the UK and certain things make you appreciate the UK a lot more such as the NHS. Though the infirmary was free, we were dissuaded to go. One day, it was visiting day where the parents come to visit the children they dumped at camp for one month or two months. I worked as an Outdoor Adventure Specialist and had to work in the burning sun (heatwave in the US) for 6 hours straight with 20 minutes for my lunch break. I had to run to get my lunch, scoff it down and rush back so that we could manage the unlimited amount of kids choosing to go on the adventure course. it was a manic day which resulted in us closing 1 hour earlier than planned due to the heat. I convinced the head of Outdoor Adventure that my fellow friend (who also worked on the adventure course with me) was sick but refused to get help. She finally ran to the bathroom to be sick.  While I too ended up with heatstroke as I finally choked on some water and collapsed. It sounds dramatic and in fact it seem dramatic at the time, but it was just fuss made over nothing- I was just too tired.

No one can understand what I experienced- everyone think that camp is amazing because despite the hard work you make friendships for life, you looks after children and discover your life dream. But for the tiny percentage that don’t like camp which includes me- I discovered I hate working with little brats and can’t stand working with children who don’t want to learn but just want to be selfish and do whatever they want.

The social aspect was great meeting new people and adapting and facing new challenges, but we lived in a camp bubble with no privacy, no respect for personal space. I came to camp prepared to give up drinking for 3 months to work with kids, but when I got there I discovered that we were allowed to go to the bar and drink. On our days off, everyone would make out with each other, get stupidly drunk and sleep with people without having a f””””” clue what they were doing. I was told of “goggle eyes”- which is when in the beginning you are not attracted to a person but having to be forced to live with them for 2 months you eventually find them attractive. Well I sure wouldn’t like it if a guy at first thought I was ugly and then after a month found me more attractive because of the limited amount of girls left to hump. Some people are just superficial!

It was not all bad I did have some fun, but I found it insulting that my camp director told us at orientation that we should get to know our fellow staff because who knows it might be the person you’ll end up “making out” with over the summer. I didn’t think a camp could have such crappy and fake values than the ones espoused. The children were spoilt rich children who had no idea what pain and suffering there was in the world. People complained about the food instead of being grateful they were at least being decently fed and had a bed for the night to sleep.

What’s more I underestimated how much I would miss my family and though some people did not. Being away made me realise the importance of looking after my family and treasuring my good friends who actually love me for who I am and who actually want me back. During my travels I discovered that my aunt, my uncle and a family friend had passed away this summer. These events have made me realise that so much can happen in just 4 months and we must not neglect the ones most important to us. We must treasure and make them feel like the most important people in the world so that they don’t have a reason to give up on life. RIP- may you finally be happy and never alone.

Anyway I hated camp and I never want to return. Though I do remember the fond memories of the people I met and of the fun things I did before the children came. I will never forget the bitchiness, the cruel people who would gladly step on others to get to the top. In fact I am pretty sure that is life- the horrible people somehow manage to climb to the top while the soft and quiet get trampled underneath. It’s time to get a voice, but I sure won’t resort to mean ways to get ahead. Its sad because on my travels I met some very nice people who went to different camps and they were very friendly! Much friendlier than those who went to my camp. It’s a shame really but at least it will give me pleasure when the company who helped find my camp ring me up to ask whether I will be going to camp again, I can gladly say a big fat “NO! Never again”. I’m not one for tormenting myself as much as it is all the rage now since Fifty Shades of Grey!