Tell My Story, So Far

I thought I’d get a little more ‘personal’ than usual on the blog because, well, I love some of my favourite blogs for the very reason that the personality of the author shines through both in photographs and writing. I’ve been loving the ‘Draw My Life’ videos on Youtube at the moment, so I took inspiration from those and have written this post about my life thus far from around 13 to the present day: aged 20.

At 9 years old my parents moved us from South London to Brighton, to give us a better way of life, the ability to have a big garden, fresh air and be walking distance from the sea. At 9 I wasn’t too worried about moving and after the initial fear of going to a new school – a girls school at that – I eventually settled in and by secondary school at 13 I loved it. (I’ll slot in here that when I was 14, we moved to a village 15 minutes drive from Brighton). Yes it was bitchy, yes there were ridiculous arguments over the most petty of things but it was such a laugh. If you’ve read any Louise Rennison novels (Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging etc), Georgia’s school which was meant to in Brighton, reminds me of my own. The teachers were laid back, we were naughty in class and I made a few of my closest friends there. I got good GCSEs and unfortunately, because the Sixth Form at my school was a bit crappy and small and I wanted to experience a change, I moved from there to Brighton College, an extremely strict mixed private school that had the most insane rules and the most immense pressure to get A*s — anything less was unacceptable. I wrote about it in this post.

A quick rewind momentarily. The summer before I went to Brighton College, I had major jaw surgery. My bottom jaw had been growing in front of the top one to such a degree that surgery was the only option. On July 8th 2008 I was put under anaesthetic for 5 and a half hours and came out looking like the elephant man. I remained looking like that for about 4-5 weeks and by week 9 I actually started to look more normal. This surgery is probably the best thing I ever did (thank you Mum & Dad). I never smiled before and to this day I still find smiling for photographs extremely uncomfortable – I spent 16 years trying not to, that I still haven’t quite learnt how to. During that summer, as a way to try to help entertain myself and, well, because Mum had always wanted them, we rescued three hens from a battery farm. They were missing the majority of their feathers and had never felt wind or seen grass in their lives. Watching them get better and run a mile when the wind blew up their bottoms helped me to get better as well.

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A couple of weeks before surgery – can’t smile!!

So back to Brighton College. After my first week at my new sixth form, I sat at the kitchen table and cried to my parents. I hated it. I was being told off for the most stupid of things and because so many of the students from the high school had stayed on for sixth form, and already had established friendship groups, making friends wasn’t easy. I didn’t realise it at the time, and I guess you don’t because you just work with what you’ve got and try your hardest to make the best of a situation, but these two years were pretty shitty. I had gone to BC with one of my friends from the girls school, but we were in separate houses and didn’t share any lessons so it wasn’t all that helpful. If it wasn’t for making friends with Lily, my closest friend to this day, I’m not really sure what I’d be typing now. We pretty much instantly clicked and bonded over everything. The second year of Sixth Form was a lot better than the first, since I now knew the rules and how to work the system. We would skip games and any pointless free periods we had, and would go and have coffee at this wonderful coffee shop or walk to her Mum’s beautiful seafront flat which was 10 minutes from the school, to watch movies and drink tea.

Lily & I

Lily & I

Did I say the second year of Sixth Form was better? Well it was, but it was also a difficult time at home and with my family during that period as well. The pressure of doing well in A Levels really got to me, and as well as making me extremely stressed and horrible to be around, my parents were already having to deal with a lot (in fact, if I’m honest, that article doesn’t quite portray the very difficult side of living with someone who has Asperger’s). I fought with my Mum more than I ever have done and it made me miserable. Home life was intolerable and so was that summer really. 2010 wasn’t the best year — I did get amazing A Level results and I was so proud of myself because I worked my butt off, but I hadn’t got into any of the universities I wanted to, in fact I was only accepted into one, and I felt a little lost.

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At Sixth Form Graduation

It wasn’t until my gap year, that things started to get better. In fact, I like to think that the moment I stepped on the plane to Bangkok, right at the beginning of my adventures with Lily, was the moment things started to get better. I had worked two jobs solidly for four months (October-January) to save up enough money and now I had freedom and I had choices. No one was telling me where to go or what to do and being away from home, although I’m extremely close to my parents, was the best thing I could do at that point. I changed as a person whilst travelling – cliché but so true. I became braver, more confident and accepted who I was. During Sixth Form, and before, I had always tried to be somebody that I wasn’t. I hadn’t had much success being myself and making lots of friends, so I thought that being ‘me’ wasn’t good enough. While travelling with Lily, I realised it was. *Don’t worry about the popularity contest that is ‘school’ – you don’t want to peak early! Honestly, those who were the dogs b****cks at school are nobodies when you leave*

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I can’t quite believe we went travelling two years ago. Those three and a half months were some of the best of my entire life. I’ve never laughed so much, seen so much, felt so content and alive being so far away from all the sources of technology that we seem to depend upon in day-to-day life. I loved every second and wrote in my diary every single day. Everybody should go travelling – it awakens the senses and gives you a new perspective.

While  I was travelling, I was waiting to hear back from UCAS about which universities I was getting into. I was absolutely desperate to go to Kings College London and bawled like a baby on the phone to my Mum when I read the words ‘Rejected’ on the computer screen in a tiny internet cafe in Thailand. Of course, with hindsight, I realise that those were the best words I could have read. I was accepted into York and Leeds and had to choose between them. Of course while I was away, every single person I came across was saying “Leeds! Why would you go to York when you’ve got Leeds as an option?!” — I guess the Dorky York reputation travelled all the way to South East Asia, but deep down I knew I was going to choose York. They are slightly better for English Lit and as I had spent virtually every waking hour revising for my A Levels I decided that I was going to go to as good a university as I could get.

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Drunk at approx 9am, ready for the Royal Wedding

I returned from my travels the night before the Royal Wedding and due to jet lag, couldn’t sleep a wink. Another great reason for going travelling? Being away makes you realise how bloody lucky you are and how special your family is. I was so excited to come home and being with my Mum and Dad was wonderful. My Mum had organised a Royal Wedding Party at the local football club and we started drinking champers far too early to be acceptable in ANY timezone! I remember that day as being filled with such happiness.

For the rest of the summer, before university, I worked at a local cafe and didn’t want to go to university at all. York had never been in the game plan, I didn’t want to go somewhere so far from home and I felt settled at home and had made great friends where I was working. We had also just welcomed a new life into our family: Bertha the pug. Again, it’s often the things we’re hesitant of – change – that makes us happiest or brings us great new adventures. I started university two years ago this October (Jeez, where does the time go, seriously??) and love it.

I have found friends that aren’t judgemental or superficial and are as crazy (some crazier) as myself. I began to write at university, for the university newspaper and while I’ve been there I started blogging properly, bringing a whole new dimension to my life which I absolutely love. After thinking I was going to end up a mad old spinster because I seemed to always be the only single one of my friends throughout school, I ended up going out with someone who is crazy and kind in equal measures and we’ve been together since the start of uni virtually.

University fun

University fun

Of course there’s been ups and downs but I’m so pleased I went to university after feeling very unsure about the whole thing. I think I know what I want to do with my life, or at least I feel a little more certain, and I’ve made wonderful friends and had such a laugh while I’ve been here. It’s true what they say about coming to university and experiencing university life, as well as the studying. It’s a few years that will be unlike the rest of your life.

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San Francisco

I am still very close to my parents, some of my fondest memories are our trips together, particularly in New York City: our favourite place in the world.

Blossom in NYC

Blossom in NYC

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Right now, I am one week away from going back to university. It will be exams, essays and then once that’s all over it will be summer and just one year left of uni until my entry into real adult life and the big wide world. What have I learnt so far? To try and be true to yourself *corny* – the way you are is okay and you will find people who love you for that, honestly. I have learnt that by and large school is shitty. You’re lucky if you love it, and I did enjoy some aspects of it, but for the most part it sucks and although it feels like an eternity, before you know it it will be over. I’ve learnt that change is good – it seems that sometimes the things I’ve wanted least have actually been the best things for me. As they say, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.

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