I hadn’t quite reached my teens when a stranger first asked me ‘what are you?’. In those days I wore eye-liner like it was going out of fashion, which, of course, by my corresponding chains and striped tights, wasn’t something I was evidently following. ‘Are you a goth?’ ‘Are you an emo?’ In a town populated by few residents, most of whom belonged to this ‘backwards’ parameter of England, it was inevitable (as my mum would often caution me) that a young girl experimenting with styles would garner a little attention now and again.
I didn’t and still don’t know how to respond to questions like this as I am sure most people can’t and wouldn’t care to fit entirely into a single ‘box.’
“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”
This quotation, I feel, perfectly encapsulates my inner and outer conflicts. I have rings through my nose but I also smell of Japanese Cherry Blossom; I often trade my shark-tooth necklace for a string of pearls and a black dress can be a white dress the next day.
But of course this isn’t entirely an inner turmoil dealing with merely the trivial issue of aesthetics. I am conflicted in so many areas of my life that it’s not even a matter of not wanting to explain ‘who I am’ to a stranger but more that I couldn’t, even if I wanted to.
Whilst I desire to be a character of morals and impeccable integrity, I simultaneously don’t want to live a life bound by contrived edicts of what is deemed correct or otherwise immoral. In a world that couldn’t deny its propensity to judge and label, it seems that ‘who we are’ is a question of limited answers.
I want to be so many things but, at the same time, nothing at all.
In Summer, many people decide to embrace its corresponding sun by taking a cool, well-deserved dip at the seaside. However, the only dipping I’m doing this season is in the parameters of a sink where the waves are soapy and the seaweed is actually left-over cabbage.
Despite my recent upgrade in obtaining full A-Levels, there is no better place to start the path of careerism than at the bottom and in my case that bottom is a plug hole.
Though it may not be exactly glamorous or requiring much in the way of skills, I feel that I have, nonetheless, acquired a great deal of wisdom during my shifts as a washer-upper and this post will disclose these nuggets.
#1 Whisks are now your mortal enemy
With all those small edges and tight corners, these otherwise essential kitchen tools are a profound nuisance to wash. Needless to say they don’t only succeed in stirring soup and Yorkshire pudding batter but also a great deal of anguish during my soggy duties.
#2 Bubbles become a hair accessory
If you have ever imagined that a certain white foaminess would bring out the colour in your eyes then this is undoubtedly a plus! It is impossible to escape the stray suds so one must learn to embrace this otherwise unique and acquired look.
#3 Wrinkly hands
By the time my shift is over my hands look more like the ruins of a tiny volcanic eruption than actual human limbs. Forget face-lifts, if only my tips could afford a permanent ‘hand-lift’!
So perhaps my hours of labour haven’t exactly left me tremendously enlightened, but it is an experience nonetheless!
Writing poetry is, for me, the sweetest form of expression.
In what could have been an ordinary English lesson I sat down in front of a small pile of paper which my teacher had already set out for the class. Thinking it was another addition to our ‘wider reading’ I took a quick glance and was immediately dumbfounded when I realised the scripture wasn’t the fine work of some Victorian classic or contemporary genius, rather, it was mine! In turns we analysed my poems as a class and individually- they were otherwise anonymous- and it was one of the finest moments of my life.
Not only was I flattered that my teacher had chosen my poetry to analyse that lesson but because all those lines and words that hold bitter (and even painful) shards of old memories which I had tucked away under the screen of a poem now didn’t bare those burdens. They belonged to a subjective pair of eyes and it was so relieving in a way.
I can remember every reason behind every poem I have ever written- the feelings which had stirred it or the events which inspired it. They are indeed clinchingly haunting in that sense. But in that lesson the words weren’t mine any more… to the people in my class they did not bare the heartache or memory- they were a blank canvas of infinite interpretation and such a transition was alleviating.
It appeared the general consensus from the class was that the poems were written by a hopeless romantic female so perhaps I may need to work on my poetic guise!
Nonetheless, my teacher took a grand risk that lesson as my poems could have received unhesitating criticism; my self esteem as a writer (hah) was undoubtedly, therefore, on the line. I will always be eternally grateful for this.
During exam season it’s always easy to feel as though life is being put on hold. Instead, it is replaced by a monotonous string of revision and sleep that grows so cyclical life becomes more of a recurring nightmare with nothing but brightly coded time tables and towering revision cards to keep you from waking up.
Consequently I find myself forever adding to a list of things to do ‘after’ exams; which, this year consists of mastering the impossible ‘F’ chord, pouring myself into Sims 3 and starting an appreciation society for elbows.
During the past month I have drunk enough energy drinks to give even the sturdiest cardiologist a heart attack. I have somehow managed to turn three essays across all of my subject exams into feminist rants where the paper became the victim of the only woman who, perhaps, shouldn’t have received the rights to wield a pen. I also befell a very Cinderella-esque situation with a doomed sock.
Clearly I’ve been keeping on top of my madness despite my nagging educational commitments!
I would estimate that I have least 43 epiphanies everyday. Some are inevitable insane like my decision to take maths at A-level or waking up at half 6 each morning in order to see more of the day. (Both of these, as you can imagine, didn’t end too well!)
I find it very difficult to trust myself. A thought entirely formed in my frazzled head doesn’t always feel like one I should go by, not least dedicate time to.
Yet, on the rare occasion, my leaps of faith turn out for the better.
For example, one of my new years resolutions (yes, I occasionally conform to society’s trivialities!) was to start only drinking water and whatever the date is today will be the number of days I have stuck to it.
Although that means I have given up my beloved cranberry juice and my bladder appears to take great joy in waking me up at crazy hours in the night, I have already started to feel better for it.
Not so long ago I had a potentially life-changing epiphany. I spent many hours and days arguing with myself, trying to convince myself that it was just another of my crazy ideas spouted from a mind that isn’t always the most solid. But, there was no talking myself out of it.
After the reassurance and even encouragement of my family, friends and teachers my one-off epiphany I had at 3 in the morning has now turned to reality.
Although it may not seem like a big deal, in fact the more I think about it, the less big it becomes, I have decided to spend another year in my home town before leaving for uni.
This isn’t because of my grades nor is it due to some aspiration of mine to see all corners of the world before my nineteenth birthday.
I’m doing it entirely for myself.
Before I leave my home I want to be the best person I can be and I know what I need to change in order for that to happen. I want to undo my mistake of taking maths and complete an A-level in art, amongst other things.
I now feel a lot less pressure and I’m happier for it.
Just don’t be afraid to occasionally trust your early-hour epiphanies, even if you know that they will seem even a little crazy the next morning.
It’s that time of year again…
The time when you start to regret all those nights spent doing everything except revision. The time when stress becomes piled up so high that you could metaphorically reach the Moon. The time when it becomes severely appealing to just give up with life’s aspirations and go to work at McDonalds.
(Of course I mean no offence to people who work at McDonalds; having my own intentions of doing a degree in literature puts me in a good chance of eventually working there myself!)
16 days marks the start of my exams.
It’s because of this I wont be posting for a while, (you want me to do well, surely?!) but I wish all the luck to those of you doing exams as well.
I just hope that the piece of paper at the end will be worth all this infernal suffering!
(That is, of course, a joke… an entire forest of paper could not be worth these nerves that I’m sure are determined to consume me!)