Just a thought

I woke up before anyone else this morning and suddenly had the realisation, while considering ways to motivate myself, that out of all the people I could've been I was born as me. I could've been anyone else at all, or no one, but instead I was made as me. Doesn't that prove that I'm supposed to be here? For some reason instead of anyone else it was me that came into being at that particular point in time, and I don't know about you but I think that's pretty amazing – I'm here for a reason, we all are. Not one of us deserves any less than to be alive because we were born to live.
(Which reminds me… alive or just breathing?)

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Terrified

First off, I’m writing this on my phone so I can’t promise perfect spelling or any of that. 

Secondly, I will hear from Central Saint Martins about whether or not I’ve got onto their foundation course on Wednesday. I have a ‘backup plan’ but in all honesty I don’t like it – my second choice is a college that does a UAL approved foundation course, so it’s good, but it’s not CSM. Obviously. 

So there’s the stress of not getting in, but then my boyfriend applied for the same course. Now, his art is amazing, not even from a biased view – it’s just flipping amazing. Incredible. Fantastic. Honestly, it’s unique and interesting and just so good

I want him to get into CSM so much, and I genuinely believe that he will. However, I want to get in too. Ideally we both would but this is not, and never has been, an ideal world. 

I’m so scared that he’s going to get in and I’m not, which I would hate to sound mean and selfish even though I know it does. The idea of not being with him and not seeing him every day like I pretty much do now, given that we go to the same school, absolutely petrifies me, and I mean petrifies – I just freeze up and see panic and it’s horrible. I love him so much and the thought of him going there and meeting someone amazing and arty and perfect is awful, but at the same time I want more than anything for him to be happy. I don’t actually, rationally, think he’d just up and leave me because I have far more trust in him than that, but irrationally my brain says otherwise and that argument is far louder in my head. 

Of course, him going there and me not could also result in us staying together and everything would be lovely. 

We could also both get in and be happy there together, or both get in and break up. 

Neither of us might get in and we could stay together or break up. 

I have no way of knowing what’s going to happen and that is horrible because it means that anything could. On the flip side, of course, that means endless possibilities but right now I’m stuck panicking over all these possible futures. 

I just think that, to me, is both going to CSM would mean us staying together, as if that black and white plan is a definite. 

I realise that all of this sounds a lot like CSM is important only so that we stay together, which is actually not true at all – it’s one of the absolute best art schools in the world and has the most amazing facilities. As well as that it attracts people from everywhere, and is essentially a concentrated melting pot of cultures and lives and that fascinates me. I love meeting people and they would all be there because they love art, something I love and always have loved. To get in there would be amazing. 

In all honesty, it’s the only thing in my life I’ve ever worked for – I winged my GCSEs and really my A-Levels aren’t looking too great right now either, although I am trying with them. I’ve always had this stupid mentality of ‘what happens happens because it’s the right thing’ which is bullshit because I think, with GCSEs, the right thing would’ve been for me to have worked and got grades that were good for me, not just ok ones that reflected well on the school. I could’ve done so much better. 

But with CSM… it’s art. It’s the thing I have always done and have always loved, forever. I’ve always had drawings stuck on my walls and photos stashed in boxes or blue-tacked to my windows, mirrors, doorframe… I love making things, and more specifically making things out of nothing – old bits of stuff I’ve found along the street or in skips or something that have become actual pieces of art. I love it, and to me CSM is an opportunity for my hobby to become something more and to maybe be recognised as something more by people who actually know. 

I’ve never worked for anything, but this. My portfolio was beautifully mounted and I love the sketchbooks I showed them. I can honestly say that I tried, and not only that but I gave it my all. 

If I don’t get in and he does, I will be so proud of him and pleased for him but I know that it will hurt me a huge amount, far too much for me to actually admit to, although I think that’s partly because I refuse to think on that pain long enough to really acknowledge how much of it there is. 

I don’t really know what I’ll do if I don’t get in, and for some reason that’s hit me particularly hard with a big ol’ wave of panic this morning. I think it’s partly because I don’t feel like I’m ready for my a-levels or to leave school and my home life isn’t great and everything has just got a bit much lately, and now there’s a few days until I know whether I’m in or not, and whether I am or not determines a lot of my foreseeable future. 

I really really hope I get in, and I hope he does too (and not for that selfish reason, but because he genuinely deserves it). I really really hope I do. For now, we wait. Agh!!! 

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters

I always wondered why someone hadn’t done something about that, and then I realised that I am someone. 

It’s funny how many people mention in day-to-day conversation something that they’re unhappy with in the wider world. It’s strange that they always say that that thing is ‘awful’ or ‘sad’ or ‘unfair’ or any other negative adjective. It’s remarkable how even one person noticing and commenting on these things has the ability to change them.

Every single person on the planet has the ability to change something for someone, and everyone is capable of making a positive difference in the world around them. If you stop and think about that for a moment or two it becomes a pretty powerful thing; ‘changing the world’ doesn’t have to mean going out to some far flung place you’ve been told needs help because ‘the world’ includes where you are right now, and where you are right now is somewhere you can have a direct impact upon.

For me it took a while for that notion to sink in, because I’ve grown up with charities and programmes that stress orphanage- and school- building in countries far away that don’t have the same facilities as we do here, so for a very long time I thought that the only way I could ‘change the world’ was to leave my own but try and replicate bits of it elsewhere, but that’s really not the mentality needed to succeed in world changing…

We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are. 

Think about a remote village somewhere a world away and think about the fact that this hypothetical place has amount of uneducated children and adults. Now imagine you have the chance to visit this place and do with it what you will. You take up the opportunity and are now all set to go and change this place; (working on the assumption that you have the means to fund this) you’re going to go and build a school and train teachers to teach this community, and as far as you’re concerned that’s that and you can go off and put this plan into motion.

When you get there, you do this and within a period of time you have a school and teachers and students, all of whom are pleased with this change in their community.

But, what does this education system do to the rest of their world? If it suddenly limits the amount of time spent culturally enriching their community, or decreases something imperative to that community’s well-being, then was this project for better or for worse?

If you think about it, when you imagine going off and doing something like this its likely that you picture something familiar, like a standard school for your area, mentally photoshopped into different surroundings. That’s normal, I think, but it’s not quite what we should all be imagining; just because something is how it is here doesn’t mean that it must therefore be like that somewhere else, because whatever it is is how it is because of the community it’s in.

My point here is that we need to consider what the people and/ or place we want to help actually needs to be, rather than trying to mimick our world in someone else’s – just because something seems like it should be a certain way because that’s how we’re used to it doesn’t mean that that’s the only way it should be.

In essence, I mean that we need to really think. What is it that will help? Where can I start? And how? And when? 

Well, I think now is as good a time as any to start looking around and talking to people, to start conversations that matter – I mean, talk about the things that are difficult to talk about and plan and do something to change those things for the better. 

Start a conversation that matters. 

Ask yourself, if not me, who? If not now, when? – Emma Watson  

Tattoos

SO

I’ve booked to get a tattoo at Vagabond studios on Hackney Road, after extensive research, and am so excited. I’ve wanted one for ages and thought the semicolon would be a perfect one for me, but then for various reasons I don’t think that would be so appropriate anymore. I’ve therefore given it some thought and decided on a minimalist design of sand dunes/ a mountain range.

Of course, when I told my mother she went off on one about how I should get a meaningful tattoo – which this is, but I can’t tell her why. She and I don’t have the best relationship at all, so I can’t tell her that this tattoo is simultaneously a representation of where my father (who I’ve never met) is from (somewhere I can never visit) and of a mountain range (about as far removed from the sand dunes as you can get, and as high as you can go on foot). There’s the added (cheesy) bonus that it looks like a heartbeat, which I love because it points towards the father bit but also to the reminder that I’m still here, despite everything.

I can’t tell my mother this as ever since she found out the meaning behind the semicolon she has slipped into conversation the fact that ‘all teenagers feel depressed’. It’s taken all of my resolve to not turn around and snap back that it’s things like that, and people like her, who cause that ‘feeling’ to become a very real, very scary mental health issue that results in far too many teenagers ‘feeling depressed’ and ending their lives, and I can’t tell her that I was almost one of them.

But this tattoo! I am so excited – I’ll post a photo of it when I get it done.

I will not let him die.

A few months ago I began speaking to Daniel, a homeless man who often sits at the end of my road. He told me about the split in his relationship with his wife, and the ‘amazing’ 18-year-old daughter he has who lives with her mother. He has a dog called Poppy who also lives with his wife in Palmers Green, who he wants ownership of when he finds somewhere to live.

I’ve spoken to Daniel pretty much every time I’ve seen him, and if I haven’t stopped for a chat then we’ve always said hello. He knows me as ‘the girl with the photographs’ because I approached him with an idea for an art/ awareness project; I gave him a disposable camera and asked him to take pictures of his daily life. I’m now waiting for them to be developed so I can put them on display somewhere, and honestly I’m really excited because whatever they turn out to be will be an insight into the life of someone who is massively stigmatised by society. The point of my project was to humanise homeless people, something that is so important – when I first spoke to Daniel and asked his name he stared at me and went ‘no one ever asks’ and then ‘no one sees us’. It was then that I promised him that see him, and that I will make others see him, and other homeless people, too.

Lately, Daniel has begun looking awful; he’s hunched over and almost comatose most times I walk past him, and when I say hello there is less and less recognition in his eyes. I know that the world sees the homeless community as druggies, violent and dirty people addicted to mind-altering things. I cannot deny for one moment that this is the case with some, but just like with any stereotype it is the mistakes of the few that taint the many. I hate that, and I hate that Daniel may now be slipping into the stereotype.

He will die. There is little point beating about the bush and denying this because honestly at this point I think it’s the truth, unless someone can help him. But there seemingly exist no charities designed to help the homeless get back on their feet that truly help – sure, the YMCA can offer accommodation but hostels are on average around £8 a night and people like Daniel simply do not have that money. I am well aware that that might be ‘because they spend their money and drugs on alcohol’ but so what? An addiction is an addiction, and it’s terribly difficult to stop, and near impossible to move past without the right kind of help. Charities that do exist are hard to find and even harder to approach if you are in trouble, particularly because those who need the most help are most often those who cannot ask for it.

I don’t know how to help Daniel now, because talking to him cannot get rid of his problems, and buying him food and water cannot make up for the other things in his body.

He can’t die. He is a person, just like you and I are people. He has a family and friends, and I know that this was not the life he chose; he was happy, and it took one small thing to cause a snowball effect that has led to this. I refuse to let him go without a fight, but I don’t know how to help him. If anyone sees this and has any ideas of where to look for assistance I would be eternally grateful because Daniel is my friend. I have seen him change from alive to a shell of the person I met a few months ago, and it is heartbreaking because this is not what he wanted.

I am not asking for money, I am asking for help. I am asking for awareness to be raised of the horrors of homelessness and for the stigma to be lessened. Just because you do not have a home does not mean that you do not deserve one.

That Time Of Life

So I’ve been lying here for the last few hours staring at my phone screen waiting for my boyfriend to reply to my messages because he’s sad and isn’t ready to talk about it yet, so I’m worrying that he’s sad and worrying that I can’t help him.

I’ve also been lying here getting deeper and deeper into my Pit Of Despair, because I was talking to my ‘brother’ today about universities, because all of a sudden we’re nearly 18 and have to think about these very Grown Up things that I for one am not nearly as ready for as I thought.

He and I have never actually sat down and had a proper conversation about unis, other than a brief ‘oh I wanna go here’ months ago before any of it was really real. But now it all suddenly is, and so we had that conversation and he’s been accepted to all of his uni choices and none of them are here in London and suddenly it’s real that he’s moving away and won’t be close by anymore and suddenly we’re Growing Up and I am SO not ready for that because we’ve never lived more than 20 minutes away from each other and we’ve known each other since we were 2 months old.

So that was rather a scary thing to realise at lunch time, and then became scarier as the day went on because all of my friends are moving away for uni to and I’m just kinda sorta… here. I’ve applied to do an Art Foundation at CSM, and at a local college, and I’d love that, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to be left behind because, realistically speaking, I am well aware of the fact that my getting in would be the most amazing and unlikely stroke of luck out there, somewhat akin to being struck by lightning. 3 times.

I also can’t shake the feeling that I actually just want to be let loose and be free for a bit, travel and help people and do something meaningful.

But I am also well aware that I significantly lack the funds to do so. And the courage.

If I am being completely honest, I don’t know what I want to do. I know I don’t want to get left behind, and I know I don’t want to lose people, and I don’t want to break up with my boyfriend because I love him an absolutely ridiculous amount, and I didn’t realise it was possible to love someone as much as I do him and to lose that is a terrifying prospect.

My friends keep saying, when I talk to them about not knowing what I really want to do, that a) it’s normal to feel like this because it’s scary and b) I actually do know what I want to do in some way because I know what I love – art.

a) I know it’s normal, and I know it’s scary, and I know everyone feels like this.

b) I do love art, but in the end you can’t make a career out of it alone, and (again if I’m being completely honest) art is amazing but I genuinely do not believe that I have enough of it inside to make anything worth looking at or paying the remotest bit of attention to because one thing that studying art so far has taught me is that all of it is a copy of something else, and originality is basically all gone, and I want to make a difference and not just blend in to a mishmash of other things and people, even if blending in provides safety.

I don’t know, I just feel more than a little bit lost rn, and as much as I keep telling myself that that’s normal and what makes things interesting blah blah blah I’m actually shit-scared because I have no idea what’s going to happen next (and not in some romanticised ‘anything could happen’ way but more in an ‘holy hell anything could happen. help’ way).

So that’s that for now.

‘A Single Moment In Time’ – Nina

Yesterday was the opening night of my A-Level Art show at a little gallery on the edge of the forest near me. It was beautiful, and pretty amazing to see mine and my class’ pieces hung on the walls of this scenically placed building.

My piece, entitled ‘A Single Moment In Time’, is a copy/ response of a collage piece by David Gores.

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A Single Moment In Time – Memories and events are the ephemera of history; for years they have passed across its stage, barely noticed before they disappear into the darkness, the void of ‘then’. Every moment, however fleeting, lights up some shadowed corner or broad vista of history, illuminating with its intermittent flare of being. This idea is one the artist has explored in this piece through the use of used paper and photographs, capturing a single moment in time through an accumulation of unconnected articles.