Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The Key That Turns

Do you know what I hated when I was single? People telling me what I should do to no longer be single: ‘you have to love yourself, you have to stop looking, you have to give off vibes that you’re willing to meet people’. All of it contradictory
and I’d say, for the most part, it was wrong too. This isn’t a blog post about how you can get a relationship, because I don’t know what the answer is to that and I’m definitely not the authority on it even if I did. All I know, is that this is an open letter to myself for all the time I wasted on boys who were not interested in me and I’m hoping it will resonate with even one person.
            My Mum always told me ‘if someone likes you they will make it happen’, this is the same sentiment that was echoed in Justin Long’s character in the 2012 film ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’. But he changed his mind, he was into her all along and they lived happily ever after. This movie only served to perpetuate the time-wasting mentality that someone will come around, that they will suddenly realise they’ve been interested in you the whole time and they’ll sweep you up and marry you. People, don’t bloody waste your time. This is SO unlikely to happen I’d just see it in the same league as Aidan Turner realising he’s in love with me (which I’m actually not willing to accept is a fantasy just yet).
            The reality, in my experience, is that if it’s going to happen it’s EASY. Previously, trying to start something with a boy was like jamming a key that fits in the lock but it doesn’t open the door. Maybe if you push it and try really hard you could get it to turn, but it’s not made for that door, it’s probably not going to happen. Just give up and look for the proper key once you realise it doesn’t fit. When you find someone that wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them, the key just turns smoothly. There’s no games, there’s no doubt in your mind that this is the key for this lock.
            I’ve spent so much time in the past resenting people that didn’t want to be with me, wondering what was wrong with me, but you can’t force something because it’s just a feeling. Now I’m with someone who feels right, I don’t resent them anymore because it probably wasn’t about the way I looked or who I am, it just didn’t feel right. It’s also all timing, where each person is in their life and whether they’re ready to make that commitment. It’s not about whether you open yourself up to a relationship, or whether you stop looking because when it happens the reality is, it was nothing you did or looked for, it just happened. Even if you meet on Tinder, in my experience (of watching from the sidelines because I was way too scared to meet up with anyone on Tinder), you probably didn’t expect that one person you went for a drink with to end up as your boyfriend, you just clicked.
            In the same stead if you aren’t interested in someone you need to tell them. It may be really difficult and it may hurt them but in the long-run it will hurt them a whole lot less if they know they aren’t wasting their time and pinning their hopes on you. Everyone, literally everyone, prefers honesty to being kept in the dark. But honesty is a whole ‘nother blog post for a whole ‘nother time.
Like I said, I’m no authority on relationships and I don’t want to be that girl that gets a boyfriend and straight away writes a blog post about how she did it, because I have zero idea (also, I waited 7 months to write this...). Obviously if you’re going on loads of dates, you’re opening yourself up to more people and more opportunities so maybe you’re more likely to find that key that fits, but that can be soul destroying too. I just know the heartbreak I experienced time and time again putting all my hopes on guys who were never going to end up with me because I was forcing it. If I had my time again, as soon as I sensed things were getting difficult and I’d cut and run before getting my feelings hurt, if they think you’re the person for them they’ll be just as keen as you.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The journey to happiness

        This year, for me, was all about my own happiness. When you go to University, you have to start thinking about yourself and what’s good for you but most importantly, WHO is good for you. It’s easy to hold onto certain people because they feel normal, or you’re so used to fighting for them that you’ve forgotten why you’re fighting. It’s hard to cut toxic people out of your life without a trigger, but the truth of the matter is that there doesn’t really need to be one. If they don’t make you happy, and are actively making you unhappy then that should be trigger enough.

            I don’t think I truly knew what it was to be happy until I was finally only surrounding myself with people who made me that way, when I no longer felt on edge. It was like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders; that someone was telling me to be free because now I knew I had only the people I wanted around me. It’s hard to cut off that limb, to pull that trigger, to get
rid of that person because you probably still care for them. They’re in all your photos, your memories, and you remember the good times. It’s no different to a break up with a romantic partner because a best friend is just as much a part of your life. But sometimes you have to think about you, you have to face the facts that they’re a toxic influence and the bad was starting to outweigh the good.
            This year I learnt to stop feeling bad for fighting for and debating over things I cared about. Different political and social views are a fact of life; I’m not ignorant to the fact that I will largely have to face people who disagree with me. But I’m no longer going to sit quietly and tell myself not to cause a fuss because why shouldn’t I debate over something I care about if the person is also expressing their views on a social media platform which invites people to debate? People care about things, whether they disagree with what I care about or not I still invite the debate and I applaud people who can defend what they believe in. For me, there’s nothing worse than having an opinion and not being able to defend it, because then why do you have it?
            I have got to stop living in a way that is constantly worried about what other people think of me. People wonder why I freak out so much about what I wear when I go on a night out, but the truth is I need to feel like I couldn’t have worn something better in that situation so that people only think the very best of me. Me feeling good in an outfit normally comes from whether I think other people will think I look good in it. So I wear the same outfits over and over again because I know I feel like I look pretty, you can’t see my stomach and I know other people think I look good in it. Obviously, I’m not a complete sheep, I pick clothes because I like them and feel comfortable in them, but I don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons, which I think most people are guilty of.
            But it’s not just clothes; it’s the political opinion and happiness thing too. I’m learning to not care what people who aren’t important to me think about me. I care that everyone I surround myself with thinks I make them happy and likes me but if I piss someone off who isn’t one of them, then it’s no longer bothering me. It sucks so much to feel like people don’t like you, and I’m sure there are people out there who don’t like me, I probably know exactly who and I’m not naïve. But who really cares what they think of you? Are you happy? Are you surrounded by people who are also happy and care about you still? Then there’s no need to waste your thoughts and your energy on people who don’t matter. Will they matter in 5 years? Will they matter in 10? Everyone would rather have clear air but no-one is ever going to be liked by everyone, it’s only going to get you down if you try to make that a reality. We’ve all pissed someone off and you can live with yourself, you can still be happy and they can too.
               So 2015 was the year for myself, the year I realised my body is my body and my choices are my choices. I want to be happy and I started to take real and actual steps towards that. I was happy before, sure, but I wasn’t actively aware of how much happier I could be. I see snapshots of this year, where I was at the beginning and where I was at the end. Two different people, even if I’m outwardly the same, inwardly I feel less toxic and 100x less volatile. Shit happens but every choice was my own. Political, social, physical it was all mine.

            I take this into the New Year, I want to take happiness with me and continue my journey. I want to stay true to myself and these thoughts, to stay true to what is making me happy and what is making me passionate. I want to care less about things that aren’t important and care more about what is. This is only the beginning.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

From the Diary of Chubby Girl

I’m not going to pretend that words don’t hurt me, that I don’t hear fat and automatically think ‘shit they’re talking about me’. I’m not going to pretend that I’m a strong curvy woman who has come to terms with my body and think it’s beautiful. Because every time I take a step, every time I believe I’m close to loving my body, someone gives me a reason not to. Imagine what it’s like looking in the mirror every day and hating your body. Imagine people piling on abuse on top of that. It’s not fun is it? It feels like a mound of hate constantly being mounted on yourself and it’s hard not to listen to it.
            I like clothes, I like feeling pretty and why shouldn’t I be allowed to feel pretty because I was born with a metabolism that makes it hard for me to lose weight? No-one tells someone with a big nose or a unusual looking ears to change them, so why do we feel it’s okay to do the same with people who are over-weight (or even under-weight)? Why not allow them to feel comfortable in their body if they’re perfectly healthy? It shouldn’t be okay to attack someone’s weight because it’s easy and you know it’s going to hurt because I wouldn’t do the same to your insecurity, because you can’t change it, you were born with it.
            Growing up overweight and different to the rest of your friends leads to a lifetime of feeling inadequate, of feeling like you’re not as pretty or not as confident as them. I try to be confident and to be proud of the positives of my body and most of the time I am but it doesn’t mean those insecurities aren’t there. It’s a wafer thin game of Jenga that with a few short words said by someone who isn’t thinking can topple straight down. It’s definitely not an easy thing to build back up again.
            I shouldn’t have to live in a world where if I annoy someone or I hear that things are talked about behind my back that the biggest worry I have is that they’ll tell me I’m fat. It would hurt me more to be called fat than anything else. It hurts me to know that our society is so built on looks that it’s worse to be called fat than a ‘c***t’.
            I apologise that this blog post is more serious and less in line with the others, it’s not about confidence and how to be a strong independent woman but more about the façade of it all. I am confident most of the time, but it doesn’t mean that words don’t hurt me, that I don’t have my insecurities like everyone else. I don’t look in the mirror and love what I see and I’m not the only one. Girls are criticised for their looks and worry about what people are saying about them almost constantly, no matter what size they are. No-one should be subjected to that. The worst part? Mostly it’s from other woman, it’s the person you thought was your best friend or even someone you don’t particularly like. Once women start pitting themselves against each other and saying things to hurt them, we lose it. Remember your words and imagine them said to you, women are in this together so please support and respect each other no matter what you look like.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Please don't feed the demon

First of all, Happy 2015 and long time, no write. For that, I apologise, no-one should ever stop writing because excuses become habit and it's not a habit I want to get into. I'm afraid I had writer's block but the new year comes with new thoughts and new ideas.
         So, the real reason I had writer's block is because I wasn't being true to the subject of my blog. How can I write about being a Strong Independent Woman and help others be that, if I'm not feeling like one? It's not the first time I haven't listened to my own advice but I'd lost my way and I didn't want to hear obnoxious, happy and strong Tilly in my ear so I avoided her. It's not bad to have times where you fall down, where you don't feel strong anymore and it's something that happens to the best of us. How can women feel beautiful and strong all the time when what is defined as beautiful and strong is always changing? Why can't we be our own role models? Answer: we can. Old Tilly,happy, strong and Tilly who felt sexy IS my role model. I want to get back to that. That feeling that I am beautiful and I can achieve anything. And I think I'm getting back there. See, it's fine to lose our way and feel down, as long as we feel like we can get back there.

                I got into the horrible mindset that I wasn't happy unless someone liked me, I was actually defining my happiness on a guy, which should never ever happen. This New Year and the time away from my new friends and life has made me realise how many things I have to be happy about. Okay, so one aspect of my life isn't going the way I'd hoped but THINK OF ALL THE OTHER THINGS. I have an amazing family, wonderful friends (new and old), an education that only 50% of people in England get to have and when I'm at Uni or at home I'm surrounded by beautiful things. How can I flitter between Canterbury and Oxford and still feel bored and crappy?!
               This is why my New Year's resolution is to discover something new at least once a week. To get out of my bedroom and experience the city I'm in. Whether it be Oxford, Canterbury, wherever. I feel like this is a realistic goal. To focus on the positive in my life. I'm not saying that we're not allowed to feel down sometimes and that you need to pick yourself up immediately, because it's not always the case, but I am saying...don't stay down for too long and don't let the one wrong thing get you down because there will be many other things that are good in your life.
               In the words of Amy Poehler: 'some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head of bed for love'. Whatever your demon is, don't let it consume you like I did. I was 'feeding my demon' and allowing it to 'get really strong' which should never happen. Listen to the angels, not the devils and rediscover why you are the amazing person that you are.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Dust Yourself Off

‘Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement’ – C.S. Lewis

I’m coming up to what might be my last singing performance at school and I felt it was finally time to sing a song that actually meant something to me. That’s why I chose ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free’ by Nina Simone. This song is my Desert Island disc every time because it’s the song my parents played to me when I didn’t get to be school officer in sixth form. When they first played it to me years before to get me to sing it, it didn’t mean anything; I didn’t understand it and I didn’t think it was any good. But suddenly, it meant something to me and I understood what she was singing about. She may have been singing about black civil rights in America, but the sentiment was the same: failure. It was failure to be equal, failure to be noticed, failure to succeed at school, failure in whatever you were attempting.
        I listen to this song whenever I fail at something I really wanted, which is more often than I would like to admit. My parents have found me crying listening to it on numerous occasions: when I didn’t get through to the next round of a singing competition, when I got rejected by York University, after another shit driving lesson. It doesn’t make it any less painful, it just makes me more willing to get up and keep going. I’ve had these failures because I’ve persisted in trying. If I ever stopped trying then I’d never get that moment of success that I crave.
        I know I’m not the only one that feels like most of the time they never get what they want or try for, but it often feels like I fall down more often than most. It makes it really hard to just get up and keep going, to try again. It feels like I’ll never get there and I’m lagging behind everyone else. There seems to be certain people who get everything, who never even have to try, and I am definitely not one of them. But I can’t look at them and consider myself to be below them or I’ll never get there. My other favourite song is Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen’ and in that he says ‘don’t waste your time on jealousy, sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind; the race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself’. This quote gets me through every moment of my life, especially in sixth form when you’re actually judged against each other in grades.
        The Baz Luhrmann song is one that I was also played before and just wanted my parents to shut up and leave me alone because I was FINE. But like Nina’s Simone’s song, it suddenly made sense when I needed it. I think with the ‘Sunscreen’ song you have to be ready, you have to NEED it. If you don’t need it or understand it, you haven’t experienced failure or feeling inadequate. In this way, I think that song is magical, because it doesn’t work if you aren’t ready. But if you are ready, it will change your life.

        So overall, the message is about failure and the drive to get up and keep going. Sometimes when you get messages about failure and you hear stories about Oprah Winfrey or Thomas Edison, they don’t really translate because they’re not relatable. My problems at 18 are not life or death, they’re not always career driven either; they’re just little daily grinds that push me down. I put myself out there constantly, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing that because one day you’ll be rewarded for it as long as you KNOW that you’re doing the right thing and you're going in the right direction.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Shoshanna Shapiro Stage

Like every GIRLS (HBO) fan I find Shoshanna Shapiro hilarious and think she comes out with the best lines in the show (I am also bitterly disappointed by how neglected she's been this series, but that's another subject for another time). However, I found her the least relatable of all the characters. I don't know if that's because I'm very English and they don't really make them like her here, or whether it's because I'm most definitely a Hannah. As everyone does with a girl group on TV, my friends and I each relate to a particular character. But none of us quite fit the bill for Shoshanna. And this, I've now realised, is because the Shoshanna in us only comes in various stages in our life, as Shosh herself is now realising, being Shoshanna is not sustainable.
                As I approach my 18th birthday still the Hannah in the group, the frumpier one, the one that's not quite the most intelligent but is quite good at bullshitting that she is; I now understand Shoshanna and I get her. I've realised, I am now in the Shoshanna Shapiro Stage of my life. The time when I've done a Mindy Kaling, a Lena Dunham, a Kat Dennings and realised: damn, I am mighty fine. Yes, it took a lot of failed diets, Instagram stalking of Mindy and many a night dancing in my underwear to Beyonce, but I'm there and that's what counts.
         It's like I'm seeing the world in a whole new light. I used to think I was confident, but now I actually feel it. I live in a small town and have repeatedly gone back to the same boy because it seemed he was the only one who liked me. I constantly told myself 'there's no-one here I want anyway', and to a certain extent that's true, but to a greater extent: there's no-one here who I'm willing to settle for. Why give away my virginity because I think there's a stigma? I'm a SIW (Strong Independent Woman for non-Beyonce disciples) and ‘I don't need no man’ to define me as beautiful.

         Now I can go out and I can meet men elsewhere, I realised that I don't have to be the ugly chubby friend who gets comments like: 'when you get back from University all the boys who said mean things about you are going to be all over you because you'll have lost loads of weight and you'll be as thin as your sister', or 'wow, you've defo lost weight Tilly, your stomach used to be so much bigger than that'. I'm now the Shoshanna in our group, meeting men, testing the waters, don't hold her down. I've rid myself of my 'Ray' and I'm ready to discover myself. It's not sustainable and it probably won't last forever but I'm enjoying it whilst it lasts. I'm now not afraid to admit that the cute guy at the off-license smiled at me because I think my friends are going to go 'really? Her? Girl is delusional'. Yeah, he smiled and waved at me and that's because not all men want every woman to look the same. My advice to any young girl who thinks she's inadequate because maybe boys her age don't seem to like her: you are wrong, they are wrong and be confident, be assured and when the time comes and you get away, it'll happen. Don't wish for it to happen constantly, it'll only get you down. And my advice to Hannah: stop pining over Adam, go on a SIW independent woman mission and get rid of that idea that no-one but Adam likes you because you're chubby. Any man who is worth his salt likes a Mindy Kaling, Kat Dennings or Christina Hendricks, they like having a woman who loves themselves as much as any man could. In the words of Danny Castellano (World's Greatest Man) 'you're a woman, look like a woman'.