30/12/2016

The corny opportunity of NYE.

Ah New Years Eve. The one day of the year I can fully embrace my inner cringe without shame or shyness. I love it, I love it so much. Yeah, its cheesy, like really really cheesy, but oh my God is it exciting.

I'm not quite sure why, but time has always been something of great importance to me. Each period passing marking a possible turning point, a chance to compartmentalise the past and look towards the future. I often feel this way about months, even weeks, but a new year? That's an immense amount to process. It is the only evening I can look back upon 365 whole days; days, this year, of immense pain; days, also, of complete and utter beauty. The only evening I can look upon it all and just say fuck it, fuck it its over now and I can keep what I want and let the rest go. What an opportunity. What a chance to leave whatever you want behind and start afresh, with the entire concept of time spurring you on.

Yes, it is, in literal terms, just the passing of another day. But why not give it a little emphasis? Why not get a little too tipsy with your favourite people and at least try to feel it? What harm could it do? You have nothing to lose.

There's a blank slate right there waiting for you, if only you choose to take it.

Anna C.

11/09/2016

I don't know where I will be living this time next week.

I don't know where I will be living this time next week. I don't know whether I will be on a ground floor or a top floor. I have little clue who I shall be residing with. (Will they like me? I hope they like me.) The colour of my curtains and carpet remains unknown. Sure, I have the address, but I have no idea how it will smell, no idea how it will feel, and rather crucially, no idea how on earth it will begin to feel like home.

I am currently in my bedroom.

My bedroom has acted as my little haven for about 10 years. Admittedly, its been through some changes; my Cher Lloyd poster no longer decorates the walls, my garish pink bed sheets have been replaced and my mattress no longer has quite the same spring, but its mine. It's my room, my comfort zone and my private space. This bedroom has seen soggy pillows saturated with tears. It has been littered with bottles and plates and glasses. It has watched over scenes of my life that no other will. This room is the only place on earth that I ever feel truly, truly at ease. It is my home and always will be, right?

Now I'm confused. Do I even want the mystery room of next week to feel like my home if it'll take away from this one? Will the incomparable warmth and comfort of this bedroom to be simply a memory in days to come? I can't tell if I'm more afraid of moving on, of progressing from everything I know and love in this moment, or of never feeling like anything will ever compare to now.

I have no words to end this, no conclusion to come to. Only time will bring answers to all of this uncertainty.

Anna C.

02/05/2016

Exam season.

If I read over texts with friends from the past few weeks, I'm pretty sure that 'stressed' would be my most commonly used word. Snapchat shows a sea of papers and textbooks with time filters reading '02:45'. My twitter timeline is littered with countless sarcastic tweets describing emotional breakdowns in various combinations of 140 characters. We share our pain in humour and relatable jokes, but in reality, there is nothing funny about the immense weight on each of our shoulders during exam season.

Some may view the period as a good thing, indeed the current government will push the idea of challenging students and showing them the way into self motivated work, but, when teenagers are crying in their rooms and having panic attacks by their desks at the thought of an exam hall, something is going wrong. We internalise a pressure to spend every waking moment revising, feeling guilty for resting, guilty for socialising, even guilty for sleeping; all of which should simply be considered basic human activity. Exams are stripping away our ability to care for ourselves. Mental health becomes second to work, a dangerous prospect in a society where mental illnesses are stigmatised by the population and uncared for by health services.

Exam season is the time you're expected to be at your peak, but its hard to put on your best performance when you feel like you've been worked to the point of desperation before you get there. The system is, ultimately, skewed; good only for those who are superhuman, untouched by stress and perfect at regurgitating information in a way the examiners will appreciate.

With a post as gloomy as this one, I wish I had a more positive note to end on, something to say the future is brighter, but recent reforms seek only to make studying harder for teenagers, with little promise shown for respecting mental health. So instead, I encourage you to take your fate into your own hands; feel no guilt for sleeping a full night, feel no shame for spending one evening a week with your friends. Sure, take your exams seriously, but, if you can help it, don't let this system steal your soul.

Anna C.

08/03/2016

Equality.

To be equal, does not mean we have to be the same.

We are fortunate to live in a world where a growing amount of people believe that everyone should be treated equally. Personally,I am lucky to be surrounded by wonderful individuals who wish for a world without prejudice, whether that be based on gender, race, sexuality, disability or otherwise. However, amongst this belief, I find a growing trend of people accidentally mistaking equality, for everyone being the same; a concept I find to be hugely problematic.

I recently watched a video entitled 'I am NOT black, you are NOT white', in which a talented poet 'Prince Ea' eloquently expresses his desire for us to do away with labels and see each other as simply 'humans'. Don't get me wrong, I understood his message, his passion for equality, but I couldn't escape the feeling that this was not the way to go about it. Do we really all have to consider ourselves the same in order to consider ourselves equal? I say: no.

We should be striving to embrace our unique qualities and celebrate our diversities. We should be trying to own our identities and honour our differences. For me? I'm proud to be bisexual, I'm proud to be a girl and I'm proud of my heritage. Sure, they might be labels, but they're a part of me. No one has the right to take that away. No one has the right to strip me of that pride.

Further, if we are to be rid of 'black' as a label, what would become of #BlackLivesMatter and #Blackout? If we eliminate 'women', what would become of #InternationalWomensDay? To recognise a label and empower oneself based upon it is a strong social tool. By looking at each community, minority and culture we can recognise the individual struggles they face and try to tackle these head-on. To take away a label is to rob a minority or marginalised group of their identity, to ignore the unique hardships they face and blend them in with the rest. It is both counter-productive and ignorant to assume that simply stripping labels away would instantly create or help the cause of equality.

I indeed hope for a world where one day labels are not used against anyone, but I believe the impact of disregarding labels altogether would be to create a one-size-fits-all, 'cookie cutter human' society; dull, expressionless and without character. I say lets embrace our individuality, recognise and eventually end the struggles of the oppressed and create a multicultural, multi-faith, interesting, colourful, diverse world to live in.

To be equal, does not mean we have to be the same.


Anna C.


31/01/2016

Emotions.

I recently came to the realisation that emotion is on an incomprehensible scale. No matter how hard we try, or how much we think we know, we will never be able to truly understand how someone is feeling. It is impossible to capture quite how bad or good, how deep or vast one's emotions are. Someone else's tear might carry the weight of a thousand of another's. There is no standard scale with which we can measure emotion, no unit or means of quantifying it.

This realisation stirred up concern within me; how can we begin to comfort each other when we cannot know what it is that really needs to be comforted, what it really takes to make it better? You can heal a wound, its specific and has instructions, but there are no universal steps to healing a heart. As a person who seeks to find a practical solution to problems, with a heavy heart I discerned: in matters of emotion, there sometimes isn't one.

So what can we do? In a place where something as complex and subjective as emotions control us all, how can we begin to help? I think the answer lies in just trying. Not everything you will do and say will work, will solve or even begin to help conquer the challenge of emotion in someone else's world, but... some of it might. You do have something to offer, even if you can't always calculate it immediately, or quite put your finger on it, sometimes the fact you've even made the effort will be of comfort. Be there, keep trying, keep learning. Soon others will recognise that you are the kind of person that is there, that they can turn to when they need. 

Perhaps it isn't up to us to fully understand or comprehend others emotions. Perhaps it is instead our job to just be there, so that when someone is hit with a feeling, though they are the only one who it consumes, they certainly wont be alone in dealing with it.

Anna C.

12/01/2016

Time to share.

It's been a long time since I last wrote for this blog and I want to talk about it. Not in a 'heres a list of ferociously bad excuses for why I haven't been here' kind of way, but more in a 'wow my lack of posting has finally given me something I really want to post about' kind of way.

Evidently, I haven't written a thing for months, but its certainly not because I've had no ideas - my brain is quite frankly full of rubbish I could happily tap away at a keyboard for hours about - my absence is rather due to my lack of faith in the way I am able to express things. My mind is a whirring machine, constantly thinking, analysing, creating; desperately trying to make sense of my surroundings, desperately trying to find ways to share this with others. But it's also the very thing that repeatedly tells me that anything I try to do will fail, anything I try to create will not capture the hearts of others, any insight I begin to find will be futile. It's a battle against myself and I fear I have been allowing the wrong side to win. But I refuse to let that continue to happen. I refuse to let my thoughts remain thoughts. So here I am, for the first time in a while: sharing.

I feel it important to share. Not in the material sense, (though if Bill Gates wanted to start sharing bank accounts with me I wouldn't complain) but rather from a personal perspective. It's so very easy to keep things to ourselves. Whether this be an idea in class at school or a fundamental aspect of our personality, if we never let it out then no one else can see it and if no one can see it then no one can judge us for it. So we keep it in. We don't share the the fashion sense we wish we had the confidence to rock. We don't share the piece of art we spent hours crafting in the early hours of the morning. We don't share our take on the meaning of our existence. We don't share for we are scared, petrified even, because from the moment we are born we are conditioned to feel that way. Told over and over that we wont be good enough until we are sold. It was only recently that I figured out, in actual fact, that we are. We are all more than good enough.

With every minute that passes, with every person that comes and goes, the world is missing out on new ideas, thoughts, policies, plans, discussions, individuals and perspectives; losing out on so much beauty, so much art - and for what? Fear? Fear that something will go wrong, someone will disapprove? Fuck that.

The time has come for us to start to believing in ourselves. We must unlearn the lessons that have been taught to us. Teach ourselves that we are good enough, that anything we have to offer is worth sharing, no matter how big or small. Equally, we must begin to accept the ideas of others, inspire those around us that we are here to know, understand and accept anything that they have to share too.

It's been a while since I wrote and the struggle of self confidence inside my mind is far from over. But I'm ready to start fighting for myself, ready to try and release the fear I've held for so long and encourage others to understand that it's okay to do the same. I hope you can begin your own battle and fight for whatever it is that you're holding back. We have so much opportunity to share. If we just had the confidence to, imagine how colourful the world could be.

Anna C.


16/09/2015

66 year old man scares David Cameron into panic tweet.

Something big happened on Saturday, something that threw the Conservative Party into panic, something that lead our Prime Minister to claim (on Twitter) that our country was under threat. Yes, on Saturday, 66 year old Jeremy from Wiltshire was elected leader of the Labour Party. Scary Stuff.

Let me take you back to 1983. Uptown Girl, Karma Chameleon and Billie Jean were taking the charts by storm, leg warmers were a fashion must-have and a younger Jeremy Corbyn was elected as an MP for the first time. But it wasn't until 1984 when his antics truly began: Corbyn was arrested for protesting against the apartheid in a time where demonstrations of this kind were banned.



His controversies weren't exclusive to outside the Houses of Parliament either. As a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, Corbyn had always been on the left of the Labour party and often voted against what his party advised in order to stand up for his own beliefs. Rebel Jeremy has, in the past, voted against wars and discrimination based on sexuality, even when his party colleagues told him to do otherwise.

More recently, during the 2009 expenses scandal, in which many MPs were found to be claiming excessive amounts of taxpayers money to fund their luxury lifestyles, Mr Corbyn was found to be going against the norm again, having claimed the lowest amount out of any other member.

Jeremy Corbyn - National Threat & Five times of the winner of the Parliamentary Beard of the Year award.

For his future as leader of Labour, Jeremy is again going against the grain, outlining unique policies that include instating a 'National Education Service' similar to the NHS, scrapping tuition fees and reinstating grants, stopping austerity cuts, improving the lives of women, improving mental health services and cracking down on tax evasion.

66 year old Jeremy from Wiltshire has been going against the tide for years now and he has just been given more power than ever. I agree, Mr Cameron, that Jeremy guy is a huge threat. But I wonder if he has shown us something over the past years... Just maybe, he threatens everything that needs to be.

Anna C.