It’s strange how much impact a parent’s words can have.

I’m an adult about to leave the nest. I haven’t cried in front of someone for years –

Until today.

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I’ve had an online presence in some shape or form since I was in primary school. There has always been an online platform for me to express myself, to make virtual friends and to read other’s opinions of me. I think that I first made online friends on a pokemon game, then I moved onto Bebo and advanced with technology from there. Today I have accounts on facebook and fanfiction that account years of life, of friendships that came and went, of events and people that mattered to me.

I remember it used to be really popular for people to write: “Like this status for my opinion of you.” I usually liked them, felt my heart jump when I received the notification that they had written on my wall, and read their post with nervous excitement. They were my peers on a public platform; they were never going to write anything terrible and they were never going to write anything heartfelt. Everything was done for the ‘likes’.

I think we do like attention. I think that we were raised in a culture where people were looking at what we were posting to each other and judging us based on that. Our popularity can be judged from our friend count, our personality from our statuses, our social lives from our photos.

Maybe it is ironic because I use this site to express my true opinions, but what I’m sentimental about isn’t wall-posts or photos that I can trace on my timeline. I have a virtual history that I don’t hold high in regard. What I do like to look at from time to time is sentiments that have been written – on paper in pen by someone to me. Cards from teachers wishing me personally well, hard copies of photos from my childhood, scraps of paper from passing notes in class. Those are genuine messages that were written for me for my eyes only; those are what I would never like to lose. Yet unlike my internet presence which appears to be immortal, these are scraps of paper that can very easily be lost or destroyed.


In work we’re told to smile at every single customer. At school people ask if you’re okay if you frown outside a maths classroom. When did smiling become the norm? If you ask anyone that has ever met me, they’ll identify me as the girl that’s always smiling. That doesn’t mean that I’m happy.

I do live a very blessed life; I have an amazing education, a stable family and enough money to afford Simple skincare. Things have happened to me of course – bad things that I had to face alone, and because of that I’m a very independent and self-reliant person that smiles. Its easier to hide a few scars than reveal to or remind friends that they weren’t there for me when I was injured.

I want to meet someone that doesn’t identify me as the girl that’s always smiles and makes jokes every other sentence. It would be nice to meet a person that doesn’t already know me and hasn’t heard of me before. I don’t know whether its because I’m getting more comfortable with myself or because I recently invested in some very snazzy perfume, but I’m almost certain my barrista was flirting with me this morning. In my caffeine-deprived state, there was no smile on my lips as I ordered a skinny cappuccino with an extra shot, but there was one on his. I don’t want to say I felt validated by some random hipster’s possible interest in me, but it was nice to be in one of my favourite places when someone I don’t know took a few minutes to chat with the real me.


I really don’t need a boyfriend. There are so many reasons for that. I don’t have time for one because I have to study and go to work and drama and driving lessons and volunteering. My last, only and I-don’t-even-know-if-I-can-call-it-a-relationship relationship was three years ago and ended with four other girls being involved, and my best friend deciding my boyfriend was more important to him than me. I can’t pretend though that I have a queue of boys lining up or anything. I can’t say im particularly attractive: let’s just say I use a lot of spot cream, sob into too much Ben and Jerry’s and watch too much Netflix.

I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. I don’t need to put myself down because I’m not in one.

But other parts of me disagree. Maybe it’s the hype for formal or the general grouping off of my year or the fact my ‘friends’ are being pretty mean with me at the moment and I just want someone who will at least care if they’re nice or not … So I have a completely unrealistic crush on this incredibly smart guy in my chemistry class. He asked me who I’m taking to formal today and whilst I know it was probably just general small talk, conspiracy theories are flying.

Where did my head go? This must stop before my thoughts surrounding our chemistry lower my grade in chemistry.


Call it teenage melodrama, call it life-altering career decisions – it’s been five days and I’m already stressed.

I’m a person that quite simply wants to help people. How does that entail aptitude tests and personal statements of 4000 characters to describe myself in a manner that will maybe differentiate myself from all the thousands of other applicants? How does my entire life, the entire process of choosing a career and the reasons why – fit into a page? 

School, prefect responsibilities, the clubs I’m in, personal statements, aptitude tests, work … Why is it that every year life gets harder? 

 

 


People are born from their mistakes. 

I know I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it wasn’t for decisions I made at crucial turning points in my life. What I don’t know is if I am better or worse as a result. 


Every year, around this time, I almost starve myself with the goal that the next year will be different. I look back on the times when I was mocked, ditched and alone, and I vow that I will change so that I won’t have to repeat this again next year. Because no one wants to eat lunch in the toilets. But sometimes I wonder whether I am the one that needs to change. 

I used to say that the best thing about me is that I am unique. 

Now I say that the thing about me is that I am a socially awkward incredibly sarcastic fat loser that studies too much, has acne, and has no friends. 

And who put those words in my mouth? Why are we so concerned with vanity? What does it matter if I’m slightly more shy than you, if I have spots and you don’t, if I’m slightly heavier than you – does it mean that I’m not an interesting girl, a good person, a great friend? Of course not – but it does mean that a lot of people don’t want to know me as much as say, Kourtney Kardashian. 

Perhaps the problem is that I am horrifically shy around people I don’t know. Or maybe it is because what I love about myself others don’t – I love my enthusiasm to learn everything I can about anything until the day I die, I love the odd way my mind works sometimes and I love that I am much more of a listener than a talker. That’s my nature; it cannot be changed like my appearance can to a degree. 

I would like to be skinny with clear skin – it has been the wish on my breath as I extinguished my birthday candles for years, the goal of my diets, the aim of my exercise. I am just as bad for conforming to this vanity – by asking others to give me a second chance based on a new look that hides the old me. But to experience a year at school where I don’t walk alone through crowded corridors, where I don’t sob over lunch in the toilets, where I’m not mocked with new words based on old ideas that I have heard a thousand times … that would be justify every birthday wish. 


No one believes it when they’re children; everyone says it when they’re older. I wished away my childhood and yearned to be older because why would I want to drink coke when my parents drank out of fancy wineglasses; why would I want to go to bed early while my older siblings stayed out late; why would I play with teddy bears when I could sleep alone like a big girl.

Exams are being marked; medical aptitude tests have been scheduled; universities are being chosen.

Now I miss it. I miss the feeling of running away screaming in the playground during a game of chasies, feeling like I was faster than the wind that beat against me, and returning to the classroom panting with bloody knees and a grin on my face matching that of a triumphant warrior returning from battle. I miss the innocence of perceiving God as an old man smiling down at me from the clouds and the comfort of my guardian angel at my side. I miss having decisions made for me; of who my friends were, of where I would go to school, of what extracurriculars I was involved in.

I am seventeen; I know I am still I child and I remain ignorant in so many ways that I am sure anyone forced to read my whingings will find them simultaneously hysterical and grammatically incorrect.

One of my teachers frequently described school as a train that got faster and faster as the years went on. I feel like the train is forcing me down a route that I haven’t fully chosen but it’s so fast now that I cannot safely jump out. I feel like I started off the year at a crossroad between medicine and writing, and everyday has had me hurtling further and further away from the latter to move towards the former. Money has been sent on medical aptitude tests, conversations at home are peppered with tips on applying to medical universities, and it is now expected that I will pursue medicine as a career. No one mentions an alternative anymore; as has been emphasised for the past several years an English degree in this economic climate is considered idiotic and a waste of money. I feel like a bride contemplating jilting her fiance at the alter because I keep wondering if it is too late to back out. I want to save lives, but – as pretentious and arrogant as it sounds given my limited grasp on the English language – I also want to provide people with reason to live.

In many ways I feel like I am standing alone on the shore as a tsunami wave rises. I have only a month to decide whether to remain standing and allow the water to sweep me up and carry me like driftwood along the existing current towards medicine. Or I could run fast far away from the flow of water and play with fire instead.

But tonight I do not chose to fight or flight; tonight I look back to the happier easier times of childhood when inconsequential decisions were made for me. Yet remembering that blissful feeling of freedom makes me wonder whether I should allow my parents to make one final life altering decision on my behalf by closing my eyes and welcoming the tsunami that is already hurtling towards me at a horrifying rate.


My house was built at the turn of the twentieth century, and hints of the fading class system are evident within it. Things have changed of course; there are only the remains of fireplaces, the service bells remain but the maid does not, and my sister now lives in the room reserved for servants. 

I sometimes wonder how many and who occupied my room before me. Were they boys or girls; happy or unhappy; lonely or loved? I wonder whether they frequently rang the bell for the maid, or whether like me they yearned to be independent. I wonder whether they were the cause for the window in my room to be painted firmly shut. Most of all I wonder whether they used to close their door, enjoy the silence and look out the window to see a small part of the world that they could be part of – if only they were invited. Perhaps they too felt stifled by rules, claustrophobic in the room they felt was both their prison and their sanctuary … or maybe they were happy, loved. I wish I knew. 

I do know I must seem awfully strange sometimes; looking out my window at the changing constant of the clouds to reflect, to plan, to cry. Perhaps those before me were more confident, but I am gifted with the awkward clumsiness of a teenager and the fear that by imposing myself on others I become a burden. I do like myself – sometimes – but I prefer the safety of home over the cruelty of the world. 

 

 


Wonderwall: ‘someone you find yourself thinking about all the time, the person you are completely infatuated with.’

I wish you didn’t work right down the street from where I live. Then it would be easier to forget what we shared, alone in our haven of bliss, before the barriers of social popularity were renewed once more and became all the more constricting.

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