Bubbles Within Bubbles Within Bubbles: It’s a Small World (and a Great Show)

Prepare yourselves for some early-morning-should-be-sleeping thoughts on life and all that jazz. I got home from watching The Greatest Showman about half an hour ago and my what an INCREDIBLE film it was. It made me very emotional, and got be thinking about lots of things, one of them being about people.

The title song of the film includes the lyrics “this is the greatest show” and bear with me while I digress but I want to try to explain the realisation it sparked in my mind. 

You know when you spend a lot of time with the same people, day through a shared experience such as a school residential or perfoming (more relevantly) in a show or something, when you spend every waking minute with them and it feels like your living part of their life for a while because everything you’re doing, you’re doing together and you make so many memories that make you nostalgic? It’s hard to explain but I used to get that feeling a lot on scout camps for example. It’s like for a few days you’re in this sort of “bubble” with the same people, sharing the same experiences and life seems great because it’s simplified and watered-down to a much smaller scale. To me these experiences feel like “the greatest show”, the greatest version of life I could be living.

When I was watching the film, in the scenes where this song is sung specifically, my mind was basically blown by the fact that everyone is inside this sort of “bubble” and that maybe the “bubble” extends over the whole world and we’re all part of this “great show” that is life. That everyone has the power to be unique and incredible and the world is a whole lot smaller than we think – it doesn’t matter if you meet someone online or in real life, we are all in this together, living alongside eachother and being part of eachother’s lives. 

I feel like I haven’t done this idea justice but I had to share it before it vanished. I want to watch the film again immediately to try to explore this idea more (and obviously because it was such a great film)!

Anyway, I should get some sleep now. If this made any sense to you please let me know, I hope I’m not going mad!

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Monthly Mixtape: Luminescence

Hello! A little while ago, Eve @ Appletaile and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages introduced a new monthly feature to the blogging world. They’ve called it “Monthly Mixtape” and I think it such a creative idea to give a “prompt” for each month to inspire fellow bloggers to make playlists. This month’s prompt is “luminescence”. 

The word luminescence makes me think of the feeling of a glow of happiness inside of you that spreads and warms you up a little. But I also feel that luminescence can sometimes be a cool sensation, of sort of lightness and airy-ness, if that makes any sense. Words are not my friend today 😂 Anyway, this is what I’ve tried to convey in my playlist, which you can listen to on Spotify if you so wish.

Who Am I – Vance Joy

Fairytale – Milky Chance

From Eden – Hozier

You Never Knew – HAIM

Lions – Walk the Moon

Forever – HAIM

Budapest – George Ezra

Brother’s Boat – Eliza and the Bear

Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

It’s a bit of a random mix of songs, and they probably don’t fit together very well, but individually these songs evoke a feeling of luminescence to me. 

Hope you’ve enjoyed and don’t forget to check out Eve’s and Evi’s mixtapes too!

The Trouble With Overthinking

Arghhh I don’t even know how to start this, or if writing this will be beneficial, but I’m going to give it a go anyway because a lot has been happening and I need to sort through it. 

The past few weeks, I really have not been myself, everything’s sort of been a blur and I don’t know how to describe it other than I haven’t been “with it”, if that makes sense. I’ve been so lost in overthinking that I didn’t even realise how much of a problem it has become. 

Without dragging up the mess that I’ve let my mind become, I will explain as well as I can, for my sake, if any, so I can reflect on this. Maybe you can relate, I don’t know, but I’ve learnt that the best thing to do is to talk about things, so bear with whilst I ramble.

Basically over the past little while, I – or rather my overthinking mind – convinced myself that I was worthless and that no one wanted me around. When I was around people – my friends, all I could think of was that they didn’t want me there and they’d be better off without me. I didn’t realise I was doing it, but I started to isolate myself from people in an attempt to cope with the anxiety that these thoughts were causing me. I actively avoided my friends and pushed people away, which of course was the worst possible thing I could have done. What’s more scary, however, is that I didn’t realise that I was doing it. I just got used to it. Avoiding people became a habit – just a part of my daily life. It would help me to cope with what was going on in my mind, because if I wasn’t around the people that were causing me to think I was worthless, then the thoughts were a bit easier to manage. I pushed my mental health aside and worked and worked and worked on my college work in an attempt to distract myself.

It’s honestly terrifying that it’s taken me weeks, if not months, to realise that getting the bus half an hour earlier to avoid my friends or hiding in the library because I couldn’t face being in the canteen at breaktimes wasn’t normal. I didn’t realise something was wrong with me, maybe because my close friends have been going through tough times so I diverted my attention to worrying about them. Either  way, it’s like I’ve been living in a day dream. Days blur into eachother. Weekends are the worst because even though I don’t have the stress of having to avoid people, I don’t see anyone at all and I feel lonely and empty and even more worthless. But I got used to it, I got used to shutting out even my closest of friends because I had let my spiralling thoughts convince me that I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s time. 

I became silent because the thoughts in my head were too much to cope with, overwhelming almost, so I didn’t talk because no one would listen and if they did I would just dwell on the fact that I was probably making their lives worse.

I talk about this in the past tense but really it’s still happening, these thoughts are still plaguing me but the difference is I am aware of it now so I can deal with it, rather than just struggling along, deliriously believing what my mind told me. 

Yesterday my friend – who means the world to me, yet I was sure I meant nothing to – helped me, a lot. I was in a panic, couldn’t think straight and was about to walk out of college because I didn’t know what to do. But she came after me, she listened to the few words I managed to say as she comforted me and, for a minute, my brain realised that someone does care about me, even if its just a bit, she was there and it mattered a lot – I don’t know what I would have done otherwise, I really wasn’t in a good mindset. 

The thing is, I wish I could have talked to her more and opened up to someone – which I haven’t properly done for years, but it was all I could do to try not to burst out in tears. However, she told me that she understands the overthinking, she gets it and she told me how she copes with it and that when I’m ready to talk about it, people will listen. Her words lingered in my mind when I eventually went home – she made me feel a bit more sane in knowing that someone understands. I somehow managed to find the courage to talk to my mum about how I was feeling – I don’t know how because usually I just put on a mask and pretend everything is ok around my family. So I talked for a bit. It didn’t all come tumbling out like I feared it would and I felt in control. 

I feel a bit lighter now, having got things off of my chest. I’m still so confused about how I let myself get to that point, without realising or doing anything about it. I kept pushing my mental health aside, believing what my mind was telling me until it became reality. 

But I think things are going to get better now. My head wasn’t so clouded today, I could think more clearly and I tried to be more engaged in conversations, tried to spend more time around my friends, talking to people in class etc. I didn’t think I could do it, and of course all the thoughts were still there, but somehow I thought through it. It’s strange really, because prior to the mess of the past few months, I was more confident than I had ever been and I’ve made so many friends since started college. I don’t know how long I’ve been pushing everyone away for and shutting them out, but it was long enough to forget what it was like to be sociable. 

Little things people did kept standing out today – in a good way. Usually my mind can’t help but fixate on the little things that people do that “prove” they don’t like me, whereas today I was able to focus on things that surprised me, that made me feel like I have some worth, such as a classmate remembering what I was planning on studying at uni and discussing it with me, my friend messaging me on the bus, people stopping to say hi as I walked around college. I was shocked, to be quite honest, to find that people actually want to talk to me. I keep wondering when my self-esteem became so bad, but that’s not what’s important now – I need to think about how I can make it better and find my confidence again.

Of course, things aren’t completely fixed. I haven’t seen some of my oldest friends for weeks, maybe over a month, partly because our college timetables are different and partly because I convinced myself that they’ve moved on and didn’t need me anymore, so I didn’t bother to contact them and as with everyone else, made an effort to avoid them around college. But as my mum said to me, all I need to do is send them a message and ask if they want to meet up, even if just for a coffee, because they may be thinking that I’ve just forgotten about them too, which is not the case – I’ve just been too anxious to reach out to them.

I feel like I’ve just blurted out a load of incoherent thoughts here. But that’s okay. It needed to happen, because I feel like I owe this community – and myself – an apology for not being myself and for my erratic behaviour, especially on Twitter where I have been nothing but negative over the past little while, and I’m so sorry for that. But I want to get better, I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I want to be confident in myself again, and I know that because I want to get better, I can.

So, there we go, an update, a ramble – call it what you want. As many people have shown and told me over the past few weeks, it helps to talk about things like this, because it isn’t irrational or stupid, people do care and will listen if you let them and you never know, people you know may have been through the same thing. 

Thank you for reading, and for always being there, it really means a lot. 🙂 

The Real Value of Friendship

I was looking through my draft posts as you do when you’re having a break from studying, when I came across one from almost exactly two months ago entitled “The Value of Friendship”. I thought, that’s odd, I was just about to write down some thoughts about friendships that have been whirling round my head for the past few days. So I opened up the draft and had a read. I can’t believe how differently I feel now to when I wrote that post. For whatever reason, I didn’t publish that post, but I’m glad I didn’t because it was a jumble of thoughts derived from a particularly persistent phase of overthinking.

The post I originally set out to write today by piecing together little memos of writing I made over the past few days couldn’t be more different. Everything that happened since that draft was written on the 17th November really has been a whirlwind. Last week I had to take a break from social media for a few days – not for long, it probably wasn’t even noticeable – but everything became so complex and overwhelming that I just wanted the simplicity of not having access to the online world for a few days. All my time and energy was taken up by events and people in real life, so I had to focus just on that for a bit.

On reflection of what’s been happening in the past little while, I will say that my close friends and I have gone through some very tough times. I know, however, that we have become stronger because of it and my love for them is greater than ever.

I’ve realised that in life you don’t need to have lots of friends to be happy, you just need a few wonderful individuals who care about you and have shown it. We may not completely understand each other because every human is so complex, but I know that they would walk alongside me down any difficult paths that life throws at me, and I would do the same for them without hesitation.

They haven’t been there since the beginning and it’s taken me a long time to find friends like these, but by miraculous coincidence we found each other and through our friendships I have learnt to be a better friend to myself. These friends have the power to make me happy just by saying a few words, just by being there, and I’m so grateful that they have been there when I needed them, even if they didn’t know it or if I didn’t directly ask for help. They have a comforting presence, which is more than enough to put me at ease in the most stressful of situations.

It’s hard to express my love for them through something as logical and structured as words, because as with most things in life, friendships are often illogical and jumbled. I can’t express enough how much I value them as friends – they make everything seem a little brighter and a little calmer when the world seems crazy.

Through the hard times and the good, the laughter and the tears, I have learnt the value of friendship, and it’s a truly beautiful thing.

How To Bullet Journal

Hello dear people of the interweb. I have unfortunately come down withsome sort of cold/flu thing (urghh) and although I am falling behind on college work, I don’t have the strength or focus to tackle much of it, so I decided to blog instead, because that’s still productive right?

I’ve been saying to various people that I will write a post about bullet journalling for a while now, so I’ve finally got round to it!

Disclaimer: the photos aren’t great quality because I couldn’t stand around for long without feeling dizzy this morning, so sorry about that!

My bullet journal

I’m going to start off by talking about my bullet journal. I started journalling back in September a few weeks into the new school year because I thought it might help me to be more organised and the creativity of a bullet journal would help me relax. Those two things have proven to be true, as I will explain further into the post.

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This is my bullet journal, the one with the green/blue/beige zig-zag pattern. It’s a bit smaller than regular bullet journals, as you can probably see compared to the other notebooks in the image. I bought it from TKMaxx (because they always have awesome notebook collections in store) but it was actually made by a German company (of which I can’t remember the name).

Bullet journal set-up

When I started my bullet journal I had to do some research into the general set-up of a bullet journal (what pages you need, what layouts you can use etc.). I started mine off with an index page as you can see below that I add to as my bullet journal grows. I just write the title of the page/section and then put the page numbers in brackets.

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Next I have my future log, which is where I write down events/plans for the future in a list so I remember to add them in to my weekly spreads. Once an event has passed, I cross it off.

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I should add that after the index and future log, I left a spare blank page in case I need more room to add to them.

Then I have my “year at a glance” which spans across two pages and has each month laid out like you would find on a calendar. I’ve highlighted national holidays in one colour and birthdays in another, just so I can have an overall view of what’s happening this year.

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These three sections are the basic set-up for a bullet journal, and after that there are a variety of different things you can do. I decided that I would do a sort of “month at a glance” page at the start of each new month, where I would write out all the dates and fill in things I have going on on each day. This is my January one, which is next to my “Hello 2018” page. I haven’t got much going on this month as you can see, but some months are busier than others!

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I also use the month at a glance page to set out the colour scheme for the month. January’s colour is red, so I used red pens/pictures to decorate the page. This means that all the weekly spreads in January will have a red theme too, it helps me keep structure to my bullet journal and when it comes to making the spreads, it’s a lot easier as I know I just need to find red materials to make the pages.

Here are some of my weekly spreads from previous months that show the different colour schemes:

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September and it’s orange theme.

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October was blue.

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November was purple.

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December was red/green (alternate weeks) for Christmas.

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And as you can see again, January is also red.

Using symbols

As my bullet journal is mainly used for academic purposes, a lot of what I write on the weekly spreads is homework or revision, so I use a square symbol to signify that it is something that I need to do and when I’ve completed that task, I’ll tick the square or if I haven’t managed to do it, I’ll put a cross in the square so I know I need to reschedule it.

I also use a triangle symbol to signify events such as birthdays and meetings. I tried using heart symbols for memories, but I didn’t keep this up very long as I decided to use my bullet journal mainly for college.

Bullet journal materials

To be honest you can use any sort of pens and pencils for your bullet journal, and it can be as artsy or basic as you want. Sometimes I don’t have time to do complex weekly spreads so I just take a biro and do a basic set-up.

There are some pens I do tend to use in my bullet journal though, including Stabilo Pastel Highlighters, Zebra Mildliners “Cool” Pack, Flying Tiger Brush Markers (£2 for three double-ended markers is a bargain let’s be honest) and Staedler Rainbow Ball Point Pens.

This is just stationary I’ve accumulated over time and most of it stays in my pencil case so I use it on a daily basis for college and revision, but they do come in handy for bullet journalling too!

Alongside stationary, I also cut out pictures form magazines and newspapers that fit with each months colour scheme or I’ll use post-it notes or paint colour swatches from the local hardware store to decorate my pages. Occasionally I’ll draw or paint something, but that is very rare!

Fitting bullet journalling into your life

The ironic thing about using a bullet journal to organise and schedule your life is that sometimes your life is too busy to find time to journal. I have to admit, if you want to make some really creative weekly spreads then it can take a lot of time, but ti doesn’t have to! I usually set out my weekly spread for the following week on a Sunday afternoon when I’m having a bit of a break from college work. Typically it’ll take me about 20-30 minutes to do a spread but it can be less if I do a really basic one. If I have enough time, I’ll try to do the spread for the week after as well so I can have a weekend off if things get busy.

It can take a lot of commitment to stick to it – to be honest I’m surprised I’ve managed to keep going for so long! But it really does pay off because I feel so much more organised since I started bullet journalling and doing something creative for half an hour a week is really relaxing!

I think that’s just about ti as far as my guide to bullet journalling goes. If you have any questions and tips, please leave them below! Otherwise, happy journalling!

Trains of thought

We just walked my sister to the train station to see her off one her way back to uni. I love going to the train station – it reminds me of the endless possibilities of travelling and leaving my home behind me for a little while. Over the past year or so, I have waved my sister off on the train many times. The best times are when the sun is blazing between clouds, the sky is blue and everything feels all summery and cheerful. The suns rays merge into little sunset-coloured drops in the corners of my glasses. It makes me feel optimistic and gives me a tiny glimpse of how beautiful the world really is.

The sun is setting as I’m typing this away, but I’m listening to a “2016 summer hits” playlist on Spotify to keep the sun alive. 2016 was a good summer for me and it’s nice to listen to the music that accompanied my many hours of studying for GCSEs and the various places I traveled to.

It’s weird thinking that in less than a year it’ll be taking the train off to uni. The thought of living somewhere new is both exciting and scary but hope I can hold onto this feeling of optimism and longing to explore to get me through all the stress that the coming months will hold.

It may sound stupid, but the run up to summer is one of my favourite times of the year. Sure, revision and exams are stressful, but when as the days get longer and less-cold, I feel more motivated to study, more productive and generally more happy. I’m looking forward to that!

I should probably get back to doing my homework, but I just wanted to document this little collection of thoughts beforehand.

Goodbye for now!

(Do you like my title though, I tried to make a pun)

This Year I Will Be Me: Who I Am, Who I Was and Who I Will Always Be

This year I won’t set resolutions, because I don’t want to be a “new year, new me” kind of person anymore. This year – I’ve realised – I just want to be me. Wholly, un-apologetically me.

Of course, there are various things about myself that I would like to change, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from last year, it’s that you can’t force yourself to change. I’ve tried to make myself more sociable, confident and outgoing, I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but no matter how hard I tried, I always fell back to being my usual quiet self. I’ve realised now, however, that is just how I’m meant to be, and how I want to be.

Changes in our personalities and our lifestyles don’t happen because we want want them to, or because we list them as goals to achieve, alongside doing more exercise or studying more for example. It’s true that it is possible to change small things about your personality, but these changes can’t just be ticked off a list or scheduled in to our busy lives. Changes in who we are happen through the things we experience, the actions we carry out, how we think and feel. I have changed a lot last year not because I set my mind to it, but because of everything I experienced – the good and the bad – and how this opened my eyes to the world around me.

This year, I will give myself the space to grow, to experience new things and to allow these experiences to shape who I am and give me a better understanding of life and all that it entails. Last year I lost track of myself too many times – I was too caught up in wondering why I couldn’t be like everyone else, trying to fit in to places where I didn’t realise I had fitted in all along, as me. The only reason I didn’t  feel like I fitted in is because I was always trying to be like someone else. But the truth is, I can’t be like anyone else – and neither can you – because I am me, you are you and we are all unique and wonderful in our own ways. I’ve learnt that my friends like me for who I am, not for who I was trying to be. Through all the clouded thoughts and confusion last year, I forgot this. I forgot how to accept friendship in its purest form, I forgot how it felt to feel loved and appreciated. Those feelings became buried under all the overthinking and mind-trickery. I don’t want to lose this feeling again, which is why I need to be me, and let others see me for who I am.

Of course this year will be hard – there are numerous significant things that will be happening to me, such as taking my A Level exams, finishing sixth form and leaving behind some of the best friends I’ve ever had and moving to the other side of the country for university.  But I am ready for these challenges, I’m ready for the new adventures, all the good times and hard times. I’m ready because I know I can tackle them as me, just as I always have but now I know that throughout my life I have picked up my broken pieces, dusted myself down and fitted them back together, albeit with the help of others along the way, but if I’ve done it many times before then these challenges will not break me beyond repair, that I am certain of.

So I’m not going to say this year I want to be more healthy, happy, confident or whatever else I was planning to, because all I really and truly want is to be myself. My honest self – no pretending to be anyone else. So what I offer to you, 2018, and whatever you may bring, is me. This is who I am, who I was and who I will always be. Just…me.