28 things I am thankful for

23 March 2017

1) I have a good family
2) I can go to school
3) I have a healthy body
4) Colour
5) My friends
6) I have a boyfriend
7) He thinks I'm great
9) I have a best friend in the form of my mum
10) Summer
11) The opportunity to grow mentally
12) Modern technology
13) My home
14) The education my parents have given me about living
15) Winter is going!
16) I've got a chance to start afresh next year at sixth form
17) The colour pink
18) Zara
19) Google and the answers for my homework that it gives me
20) My Claudia Tripp CD which arrived yesterday
21) The sun is shining today
22) The french language
23) Fear
24) David Tennant as the Doctor
25) Ed Sheeran's new album
26) I'm going to India
27) My FRIENDS box set
28) The number 28

 It's important to remember the good in your life, especially when you're feeling down. Challenge yourself to write a list of ten things you are grateful for everyday! There is so much good in the world, don't let it go unnoted.

// Jeani

Equals // Excerpt from a story I'll never write

14 March 2017

"ELLIE!" I froze. My reflection stared back at me in confusion as we tried to process the shout of my name from the street below. I furrowed my brows and tilted my head towards the window, hovering on the edge of my seat, heart hammering in my chest with confusion and fear. "ELLIE!" I knew that voice. "Oh no." I whispered as the flood of realisation hit me. I turned my head back towards the mirror and acknowledged my naked face and unwashed hair in horror as laughter erupted from the street. "Shit."

I could just ignore it... Defying all my instincts, I slowly rose from my stool and tiptoed towards the window in a low crouch before peering through my cotton curtains, hidden behind my bedroom wall. I drew in a breath as I saw the gang of boys on the pavement opposite my house: red caps facing backward, monster cans resting on the handles of their £10 scooters, adidas jogging bottoms hanging just a little too low. You know the type: think they're invincible, don't have a single functioning brain cell, arseholes by blood, bored and irritating. My 13 year old self was terrified.

As I stood, back pressed against the wall, I longed to hear the roar of my mum's car bump up to the drive or the blare of the television in the living room below to indicate that my dad was home, but nothing. Deafening silence. Deafening silence and the continuous, manic laughter from the boys who had now chosen to perch themselves on the curb of the pavement, waiting like crows for dead meat. Try to understand: my thirteen year old self was confused, self-conscious and a little too excitable for her own good, so when this situation presented itself to me, I was conflicted; I could just ignore them, but I knew if I waited much longer they would start throwing stones or calling me up just to freak me out. Plus, there was a small spark of excitement in the pit of my stomach that was urging me to go out and see what it was they wanted.  Ten seconds must have passed, but it felt like ten years had gone by while I stood by my window observing the boys who had chosen to annoy me on what was supposed to be a relaxing sunday morning. I sighed, dropped the curtain, sat back on my stool and surrendered to the inevitable by picking up my mascara brush and starting to apply.

In hindsight, I realise that we were more alike than we had assumed. At 13, we were both confused and frightened by a world where people judged you whatever you did. My perseverance and creativity was heavily mocked and criticised, which, despite my outward appearance of nonchalance, left me feeling scared and a little lonely. Their lazy attitudes and stupid hats were mocked but their embarrassment resurfaced in the form of anger and defiance, leaving us both frightened and confused. I knew they wanted me to be frightened, I knew they were the cause of my distress, I knew that I was an easy target, but I didn't know why. Perhaps we related to each other.

As I sat on my stool, I played over their teasing and mocking and humiliating in my mind and felt myself getting angry. They had no right to be here! I put down the mascara brush and looked myself in the eye. What the hell was I doing? I didn't need to be frightened of them! I pictured the scene: I would run downstairs and fling the door open, my face would be composed as I walk across the street, pause in-front of him then punch him in the jaw. There would be uproar. I would hear their shouts fade behind me as I walk away feeling powerful and satisfied, an equal. I smile.

I jumped off the stool and ran down my stairs, tripping over my own feet. I flung the door open. The shouts and sarcastic claps began to erupt as I took a few steps forward. My face was composed as I walked across the street and looked him in the eye. I stopped in front of him. For a moment, there was silence. I felt everyone draw in a breath as I stood there, frozen. I was so tempted, I could almost see the bruise and the tears welling up in his eyes. My hand itched; it would be so easy to do it, I could have the final say after all this time. Maybe I just wanted an end to this, because before I knew it, I was holding out my hand. A flicker of confusion passed across his features and he hesitated. Suddenly, he smiled and he held out his own hand. As I feel my hand hold his as we shake, the torment we put each other through is shared between us and acknowledged for the first time. Equals.

// Jeani

I hope you enjoyed this piece of creative writing based on an event from my life. Writing this put the whole situation at rest for me and helped me understand myself a little better. Thank you for reading!

River of Life // Verbal Spill

25 February 2017

So, it's nearly March. In a normal year I would probably say "blimey look how time flies, I can't believe it!" and then carry on with my day. This is not something I can do in 2017.

Every day is one day closer to my upcoming exams and that makes it very easy to feel like I'm being swept away in an ocean of paper and ink towards the inevitable. It's terrifying. It feels like I have no control, as if time is whizzing right past me and dragging me along with it.

My life is moving so quickly. I'm teetering on the edge of my future; my sixth form plans are in full motion which is leaving me excited but dizzy because the last thing I remember is walking into primary school for the first time. I'm still waiting for the day that looking in the mirror and seeing a fifteen year old ceases to shock me.

I know this is something everyone goes through, and I unfortunately know that this feeling is going to be mirrored in five years when I'm leaving university and teetering on the edge of a career. Nevertheless, it feels like I'm being pulled through rapids on a river and it doesn't matter what I try to hold onto I'm being pulled forward. I suppose that's just the passage of time.

Today I visited a wood where I used to go as a child. I reminded myself that the first time I came here was around eight years ago, which was a totally bizarre concept. The reason for that is, after all this time, everything is the same. The trees are the same shade of green, the pathways created by dog walkers remain, the length of the grass is still the same and the sky is the same shade of grey. It reminded me that although my life is charging full speed ahead, some things just don't change. This was my one thing to hold onto on my river and for one moment, a beautiful moment, this kept me stationary.

My entire life is changing and constantly morphing into something new, something different, and that's okay! My hair is darker, I'm taller, my face is thinner, my heart is full of more love than it ever has been, my life is more complicated than ever and yet it's as simple as it ever will be. But the roads I walk down, the shop I buy my sweets from, the building on the corner that was once a hairdressers but now isn't - these things will always be there. I can always rely on the world around me to stay, it might change, but it's always going to be here.

I think my message for today is this: you've got to go with the flow of your own  river of life, I know it might sometimes seem like it controls you or pulling you forward, but it's the one thing that's keeping you moving!

Maybe this post has been a ramble, but it helped me think at least

// Jeani

Lost chances // poem // Verbal Spill

6 February 2017

A never-changing photograph
Tinted so lightly with colour
But mostly monotonous gray scale
Like the crease of an old crumpled dollar

Change brought excitement and hope
My life was moving so quickly
I refused to be one who chose to mope
Then plans were painted over so thickly

Bubbling joy and suppressed excitement
Just going for the ride and the chance
But a single second of experience
Made my heart want to grapple for more than one glance

Daydreaming and thinking
Suddenly I want nothing more
How can only a week have gone by?
When it seems like years have passed over my door

I told myself I would not take the blow too hard
I guess truth be told I always knew it was coming
Yet disappointment sits lodged in my heart
The image is gone of what life was becoming

I try to convince myself of the positives
I always knew the situation seemed strange
All I can do now is accept the obvious
Life will go on as if nothing has changed.

// Jeani

High // poem

5 February 2017

Wild eyes and thrumming heart
Sounds like romance or alluring art
I smell smoke on their blatant lies
How can I help but roll my eyes?

Not my place. I cannot judge
I'm leaving soon but I can't budge
It nags the corners of mind
Like moulding matter I cannot find

I put my faith in them 
Four years together like a sewn skirt hem
But they pick each sewing thread apart
As if it does not hurt my heart

I feel disgusted; their indifference!
Justification - it's just plain ignorance
Searching for the next kind of high
Not bothered by those left behind

I hold the hands of those kicked out
At risk of their incriminating doubt
But I will stand for what I believe in
Regardless of what life has been

They bring their bottles to their lips
Its all I can do to not be sick
To watch them waste our years away
As if they cannot hear the things I say

Remember blackened lungs cannot cry out
It does not matter how loud you shout
The actions of your past catch up to you
Consequences always do

I know that I must rise above it
It's difficult I must admit
Watching those I've strived to protect
So simply and easily forget

Tap. tap. tap. Each footstep further away
Sounds grow distant I know I can't stay
A new path laid out right before me
I say goodbye to those who couldn't see

I will never turn back. Not now. Not ever
Because no matter what, I will remember
The way I reached up for the sky
While they found ways of getting high.

// Jeani 

Is Gender Real?

4 February 2017

First of all, a little piece of background information for you all: today I attended a conference which involved a 30 minute talk on gender and sexuality, hence the perceivably unprovoked content of this post - it's okay, there's a method to my madness.

Foucault and Freud
French philosopher Foucault believed that gender is something forced upon you by the world, or people, around you. This belief falls under the idea of Freud's invention of the unconscious mind. Both these men essentially said that your character is formed through the storing of information in the unconscious part of your brain. Little confused? It's okay, stick with me.

Gender falls under an attribute formed through the unconscious mind according to philosopher Foucault. Society presses certain characteristics onto different sexes unconsciously through the media and through each other, I'm sure that as a child your parents either bought you barbies or car toys in alignment with your sex. If I'm wrong, please correct me, but most children I'm sure are raised this way. Without ever truly being aware of this indoctrination, children slowly become moulded into their typical gender without a single moment of doubt or debate. I hear your scream of horror at my use of the word "indoctrination" because of course, you have not exactly been deliberately raised to hate an entire race of people similar to the children of Nazi Germany, but the process is arguably similar. 

Natural or social construct?
So I bring us back to the question - is gender real? Or, is it a social construct formed over the millions of years of humanity? As brought up today in my conference, gender norms originate from our caveman days where humanity was a lot more animalistic i.e. men hunted and brought back the food while women were gatherers and looked after their children. It's shocking to think that millions of years later, humanity has only slightly altered or developed itself from its original heritage.

Of course, over the past hundred years there has been a huge increase in movement towards gender equality; however, there are still a lot of basic thought-processes instilled in us through hundreds of years that have not changed. For example, the undeniable conclusions we make when thinking of people of authority or servitude, the undeniable assumption that a girl isn't good at sport, the undeniable presumption that if a boy wears makeup he must be gay. Part of the reason these assumptions are there is because through society these ideas are enforced through media, drama, advertisement, education, family.

Genders and sexes
 There is a prominent argument that there are merely two genders, male and female, one of these will be assigned to you at birth and for the rest of your life you will follow a certain path laid out for you by people from previous generations which dictate which toys you should play with as a child, which clothes you should wear, the length of your hair. With an external point of view, it seems quite outlandish, preposterous even, to think that the shape of ones body can change the entire path of your life. 

As discussed today at my conference, there is a distinct difference between "sexes" and "genders". Your sex is your body, how you were born at birth, your internal and external body. But gender? Gender is a lot more complicated: gender is what you associate yourself with, how you present yourself, how you feel. As far as I'm concerned, the way a person chooses to present themselves is all that matters, it is certainly not anybody else's place to say whether or not that person is right about themselves.

Except, a lot of people do take it upon themselves to decide whether or not a person is right about their gender. This leads to bullying and increase in stigmas against transgendered people because people are afraid of the unusual, of what is not like them, resulting in defensive behaviour.

Conclusion - Is gender real?
So is gender real? Perhaps, there is certainly evidence to show that it is natural to label and categorize people into different groups. After all, animals are male or female and there is no questioning the gender of horses or puppies, are we not mere animals?  On the other hand, humanity has evolved from simple animal characteristics into creatures with complex minds and personalities which certainly have capability for release from perhaps unnecessary labels.

You tell me, leave your comments below!

// Jeani

L'importance d'apprendre

22 January 2017

The importance of learning... Being a teenager sometimes leaves you slightly overwhelmed as one can learn so much in a day, in a minute, in a second. At this age, there is so much that I haven't seen or experienced. Sometimes months can go by without anything new entering my life but then one day I can be bombarded with so much information that I just have to pause because of my miniature existential crisis, such as the realisation when I was twelve that "blush" is a contraction of blood rush and I had to spend the afternoon analysing about every word in case it would result in another existential crisis two years later. I'm still finding words which do that to me.

I distinctly remember turning twelve and suddenly I came to the realisation that I had the opportunity/obligation to create a whole new identity or persona. I spent hours recreating outfits using clothes from my wardrobe and spending hours watching videos on how to find who you are. It's so confusing when you are suddenly launched into a sea of new, also very confused, people and you just don't know who you're supposed to be! What no one tells you of course is that that's okay and that learning who you are is a long, exhaustive process because, after all your hard work, you realise that the person you are is the person you have always been and you don't need a new set of clothes to prove that. I enjoyed learning that.

School has shown me how much I love learning in a more academic sense. I love the taste of new words, both english and french, I love the focused mindset when attempting to solve an equation where suddenly your mind goes clear except for the numbers, I love learning new chords and stringing notes together to create the not-so-perfect melody, I love contributing my opinions to class discussions and that feeling when your hand is in the air because "yes! I know the answer!!!". I love collecting little pieces of knowledge and trying to form comprehensible paragraphs with them and reading the final result with a feeling of pride in my chest.

I think school inspires to us to prepare for our future. Something that we don't do for each other. School almost gives you the push to want more for yourself, to want to do something amazing with your life and more than that it gives you the qualifications you need to do that, which is a wonderful gift in itself. My dreams are more advanced than perhaps I am capable of but I will deal with that when I come to it, but for now I wish to work as hard as I can and I will continue to do everything in my power to learn more about myself, my rights and my opportunities.

There is definitely a culture within teenage society against learning and against the love of learning. Beyond that, I have noticed a lack of desire to do anything and a significant amount of laziness circulating among us. These teenagers give the entire teenage society a bad name. These teenagers are the ones who are complained about by 60 year old women because they're afraid. These teenagers are the ones which hold the rest of us back. I understand. I do. I understand how easy it is to not want to learn, technically I am procrastinating right now by doing something almost equally academic in order to satisfy the guilt I feel in my stomach at not revising. So I understand. But I wish it were not this way, because I think we, as a teenage society, are worth more than disapproving glances.

Reading "I am Malala" almost a year ago now really inspired me.  It really shocked me to learn about the girls who were not as privileged as we are to go to school. In this country, we have so many opportunities just given to us and we take them for granted. In fact, many of us which we did not have these advantages which would be horrifying I'm sure to the girls in Africa or under the Taliban who just don't. It feels so selfish to complain about my workload when I am so lucky to have it. I am so lucky to be able to go to school for free and earn qualifications which will act as a safety net for me throughout my life.

What I'm trying to say really is that I know it can seem really hard when you're in school. Perhaps I can say that because I'm clever and I do the grades that I want so maybe it's not so hard for me. But I promise you that you can do this. Whatever exams you are facing you really can do this. It is amazing that you have been given this opportunity. Learning is a gift. It really is. It allows us to expand our minds in ways we didn't think possible even 50 years ago. Don't dismiss it out of indolence. I believe in you.

// Jeani