“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.”
– Kahlil Gibran
Am I naïve for thinking that this applies to me right now?
As I wrote a while ago, my boyfriend and I broke up. I knew I cared about him a huge amount, but never quite realised just how much until people asked how I was and I had to find a million and one different ways to reiterate ‘I’m fine’ and make it sound believable. I assume I did a good job of it because after a while people would nod and smile and say how pleased they were that I was taking it so well. I’d smile back and nod too, managing to keep up the façade long enough for them to genuinely believe that I really was as fine as I said I was.
On the outside I was openly fine about it all because we’d remained friends, and could laugh along with my friends about how bad the relationship had really been and I’d just been too infatuated to see that. The thing is, I really could see how the relationship had been, and it really hadn’t been all sunshine and roses because there were some really shitty bits. It just took that separation to realise that the shitty bits were me – my anxiety had morphed to became a lethal form of paranoia that, it turns out, was shared by my boyfriend.
We’ve had many a conversation since splitting up that has gone along the lines of ‘we’re so stupid, if only we’d said this stuff before’ and ended with ‘we can’t focus on the what ifs because we’ll drive ourselves mad’.
Anyway, having broken up and gone with the ‘I’m fine’ thing and the ‘it’s for the best anyway’ thing I realised, and properly acknowledged and accepted, that I really bloody love that boy. He’s ridiculous in all the right ways, adorable, funny, intelligent, an amazing artist, kind as anything and has possibly the most heartwarming smile on the planet. I know full well just how sappy that sounds, but in the absolutely cheesiest way possible… It’s true.
We’re friends now, strangely, because I honestly didn’t think we would be be. But lo and behold here we are, nearly two months later, probably closer even than we were before we got together. I love that.
We are also, agains strangely, acting almost as if we were back together. Effectively we are, in all but name. And that’s ok – it really is; I’m happy and so is he, and I think that’s the main thing. I never wanted a ‘friends with benefits’ situation, but in all honesty if that’s what works best for us then so be it; as long as I know he only does this stuff with me then that’s ok.
But we’re happy, actually happy, now. And that is amazing.
I’m not saying it’s some mutual romantic love and he ‘came back to me’ because of that, just that there must be something there, right? And whatever that something is, I hope it stays.
So today was one of those days where I’m uncharacteristically emotional. I hate that, because I’ve always had the mentality that crying is a sign of weakness, that emotions in general are a sign of weakness. Only in myself, though, because when other people show how they feel I think it’s pretty cool – they’re proving themselves to be alive and human and real. When it’s me, however, I hate it. As does everyone, I think.
I have exams next week, that I’m oh-so ridiculously stressed about, that don’t even really count for anything and result in grades that won’t ever make it to any official records. Because of that worry, however, I haven’t been sleeping properly and I’ve pretty much stopped eating. It’s been like this for about four days, and I feel so awful. I don’t want to go back to how I used to be, and yet all these food-related thoughts powered by extreme sleep deprivation have infiltrated my mind, or at least become more noticeable than usual.
All of that anxiety has then made it horribly easy for other unwelcome, supressed thoughts to make themselves known (again): your boyfriend doesn’t really like you; your boyfriend’s friends hate you; your boyfriend doesn’t love you (and here come all the reasons why); your friends are only there because they pity you; your grades are slipping and your school will reassess your scholarship and kick you out… I could go on but I think at this point the list would go on for far too many pages.
I should note that I know that a few of these things aren’t actually true, but on days like this the rational side of my mind manages to disappear for a few hours and leave me alone with the other side, the one that mocks and taunts and points out everything that is, and could possinly be, wrong.
I think I mentioned in a previous post that on days like this I hurt the people closest to me, and it’s true; my lovely boyfriend who I like and love and care about so much, who is also the kindest, most thoughtful, funniest and most cleverly intelligent person I’ve ever met, saw me on the stairs at the end of the day, a few very short minutes after I’d ended up crying into my friend’s shoulder in the toilets, gave me a hug and goodbye kiss and I was so close to crying again so I turned away and hot-footed it down the stairs. He laughed from behind me, at what I have no idea, but I’m so terrified that I hurt him and that was a laugh of incredulity at my awfulness. He’s honestly so amazing, and I know that if I keep doing this he’s going to leave. I’m so scared about that.
Hastily pushing that painful topic aside, I was also supposed to have dinner at a close family friend’s house this evening. I went round after school and told both them and my mum that I’d had a horrible day so couldn’t stay to eat as I needed to get to my room and calm down. I should mention that a few tears made their hated appearance around about then because, as well as the nastiness of my day, I knew that I was being rude. Something my mum’s just come home and told me in greatly exagerated detail, having left a few hours after me.
The reason I take issue with my mother sometimes is something I should probably mention and explain here; whenever I’m having a day like this, and even when I’m not, one of her seemingly favourite things to do is mimic me, putting on a ridiculous voice and flapping her arms about while twisting the things I say and intentionally making me feel guilty. She’s even admitted to the fact that emotional blackmail is something she knowingly uses on me, which is horrible because she knows exactly how bad that makes me feel.
Anyway, I’m well aware that this post has become something akin to the content found on an angsty teenager’s blog, so I should end it before it gets worse.
I’ll finish by saying that I hope no one else feels like this, but as it’s inevitable that one or a few of you do please feel more than free to leave an emoji in the comments and I’ll find a way to contact you and try and help.
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.
‘Ah, wouldn’t a shadow boyfriend be amazing? I mean, a boyfriend made out of shadow who could hold hands and be there forever…’ – my friend, 2016
A shadow boyfriend, you say? So, essentially someone who’s there for you pretty much all the time and will hold your hand and be there, behind you, most every step of the way? Someone who is flexible and solid and dependable… Except when things get dark and they suddenly fade away. Right when you need them most.
I don’t quite fancy that now, do you? Really, though, that shadow boyfriend thing is how a boyfriend, or girlfriend, should be, minus the disappearing act at the end. Shouldn’t your, excuse me, ‘other half’ be there for you through thick and thin, dependable and reliable and there if you need them, and shouldn’t you be there in exactly the same way for them? I think so…
But then haven’t I just described a best friend? Aren’t they someone who ticks all those boxes, and more, and doesn’t ever leave unless you really push them to?
Doesn’t that, therefore, mean that your, again excuse me, ‘significant other’ be your best friend? Of course, I don’t mean for you to run up to your bestie of however long and ask them out, but shouldn’t you have that level of trust with them, that unwavering knowledge that they’re there? I think so.
It’s pretty awful, then, when you don’t have that. I suppose it can work for a while, a relationship built on something other than trust, but I think that depends on how you define ‘relationship’.
For me, my absolute best friend is ridiculous in all meanings of the word, but they’re also my confidente, ‘my rock’, and the person I know really will be there no matter what, because I will be for them too.
A boyfriend, or girlfriend, should be the same, shouldn’t they? All the things a best friend is, but slightly different.
Perhaps, then, your best friend is your soul mate and your boy/ girlfriend is the person you’re more than happy to spend your life with.
I know I’m only 17, but that’s how it seems to me at the moment, possibly because my whole relationship-thing is pretty rocky, even though I think I’m the only one that’s the case for; my best friend is that one who’s there, always, and my boyfriend is too but in a different way… I can’t talk to him about anything and everything, but I can to my bestie. I’m not sure if that means I’m doing something wrong here, because I’ve just written a post on how you should date your best friend, but for me that’s just the way it is. Weird.
Either way, I love them both a stupid amount, and whatever happens I will always be there for them both.
But I think the point of this post wasn’t to highlight the significance of significant others, but instead to say one thing: whatever you do, don’t get yourself a shadow boyfriend. It’s far better to go it alone than to go it with someone who leaves just when you truly need them.
When is the right time to say those three little words?
I think there’s a difference between being in love with someone and loving someone, but I think the distinction is often hazy, and for good reason because there are so many different ways of loving different people.
To me, loving someone is that deep feeling of comfort and a desire to make sure they’re happy. It’s feeling absolutely helpless when they’re sad or hurt, and wanting nothing more than to be there for them in any way that makes them feel even the slightest bit better. It’s that physical ache that you feel when you miss them, and that complete feeling of content when you’re close, or even just when you’re talking. It’s caring for someone and knowing that their needs far exceed your own, putting them before anything because seeing them happy fills you with warmth. It’s never really stopping loving them, no matter what happens. It’s knowing that the idea of losing them petrifies you.
Being in love with someone is slightly different; it’s all of those things but on a different level, one that can be either stronger or weaker than simply loving someone.
When talking to my friend about this, he said that when you’re in love with someone ‘you just know’, but I’m not so sure; to me being in love suggests that one could fall out of love. That idea scares me, so I think that loving somone and being in love with someone come together in the form of ‘love’ and that really they’re just two branches of a bigger tree, but loving someone is a purer sense of that emotion.
I know that there are people who I love, in both ways, and I know that telling those people could so easily be misunderstood because of the stigma attached to the three little words.
I know that there are people I love far more than others in a completely different way to the way I love, say, my sister or my best friend. It’s strange, because the whole idea of love is terrifying to me because if it goes unreciprocated then it would hurt more than anything I can imagine, yet if it was mutual it could be the best thing in the world.
Ultimately, I think it’s one of the strongest emotions there is, and its power is what terrrifies me most.
But to answer my question, I don’t think there is necessarily a ‘right’ time to tell someone ‘I love you’ because it could be misinterpreted or meant in so many more ways than one. But either way, I think you really do ‘just know’ when you love someone, and in whatever form that may be I think it’s important that you let those people know just how much they mean to you.
So in my previous post I wrote that going to university would mean leaving everything and everyone I know, but really there is one person I’m most terrified about leaving behind.
If he ever reads this, not that he ever would, he’ll know this is meant for him right away.
I’ve known him forever, literally, and so I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t around. It’s only recently that I’ve realised just how important he is to me, I mean I’ve always known but just never quite acknowledged it, I suppose because I just figured things would stay as they are with us. Anyway, I’ve always considered him the best of all my best friends, possibly because I’ve known him so long, but only in the past few months have I properly realised that he feels the same way.
He’s like my best friend, brother and other half all rolled into one, in the least sappy way possible. I know that I could tell him all this and he wouldn’t bat an eyelid because it’s the truth, but our relationship has never been a sappy one; we’ve never needed to say the ‘I love you’s because we’ve just known, and because I don’t think a simple ‘I love you’ would suffice to express the way we feel.
If anyone is reading this and getting a niggling suspicion that perhaps we’re not just friends, let me just stop you there; we’re friends. That’s all it’s ever been and all it ever will be because that’s just us. (Plus, he’ll always be the boy who sits on me and farts, and the boy who wipes goodness knows what on me.)
He’s the one person I can trust more than anyone else with anything at all, and I know I’m the same to him, because neither of us would ever dream of judging the other. He’s also the only person I don’t doubt likes me – even if he didn’t, it’s been 17 years so we both know by now that we’re stuck with each other, and there’s no point trying to pretend otherwise so a simple dislike for one another wouldn’t keep us apart.
But yes, saying goodbye to him terrifies me… We’ve never been more than 20 minutes away from one another, and I know that there are phones and texts and Skype and I know that there will be university holidays and things, but I’m still terrified.
So I suppose this is a post that probably means nothing to anyone, but it’s also a strange little appreciation post for him as well as a way to let loose some of the ridiculous anxieties I have.
I’m having one of those depression days again and I feel awful.
I think it was triggered by a mixture of things, the most notable of which being that I am so goddamn paranoid… I hate it.
I worry that the slightest thing will make my boyfriend realise that I’m way less than what he deserves or could have. I worry that he doesn’t actually like me. I worry that we’re low-key because it’s not a serious thing. I mean, we talked about it and we are together but just not shouting about it, which is completely fine and yet I’m still worried… Part of that conversation was an agreement, initially brought up by him, that we can do whatever but no falling in love (which I don’t feel like talking about). This agreement was fine at the time, but over the last few weeks I’ve started wondering if that’s just what he wants because we aren’t actually serious. It’s horrible.
The thing is, I know that I don’t doubt him even if it seems like it; I doubt me because I know I’m not good enough for him.
Obviously, there’s also the whole panic about grades which I could probably eradicate by some revision, but over this past three week holiday I’ve done none. Sure, I’ve sat down with my books and all that but none of it’s stuck – I have a brain like a sieve, as I’ve probably said before.
Linked to that is the stress of university; I don’t have to apply til later this year unless I go for Oxbridge, which I don’t think I want to do. It’s just the whole future thing, I think, and the distance bit and the fact that I’ll be leaving behind everything I know. Bit scary, really.
On top of all that I’ve got strange little problems at home, and I’m just as paranoid about my friends as I am about my boyfriend, again because I can’t see why I’d be even slightly interesting to them.
All of this has come crashing down today and landed me with an awful migraine, one that came with all the symptoms of flu; in short, my depression has taken today as its day to remind me that it’s still there, as loud as ever.
I wish I could get rid of it, because I know that it’s the reason for my paranoia and anxiety and everything else, or at least I know that the three go hand in hand. I hate the fact that everyday I have to fight my own head, with my head, and that every time I wake up on and after days like today the phrase ‘won the battle, lost the war’ seems oh-so relevant.
I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. It’s like this muffler stretching over my nose and mouth and a weight on my chest that makes breathing really hard, as well as this ache in the back of my head and a mixture of guilt, anxiety, paranoia and so much else biting at something deep inside my chest. Ohmygod I hate it.
I’m currently 17, meaning that the time has come for me to seriously start looking at, and visiting, universities. Because I haven’t found any personal articles written about any universities, no blog posts or videos or anything, I figure I might as well be the first. So I hope this is useful.
EDIT: I live in London and have done my whole life, so everything regarding university is written from that perspective. The course I wish to study is Anthropology, ideally a combined course with Philosophy.
From London to Leuchars station, 10 minutes by taxi from St. Andrew’s, took about 5.5 hours by train. As I travelled with three friends this wasn’t such an awful amount of time, but alone it would be tedious to say the least. On the way back home it took longer, about 6.5 hours, which really was a long time.
St. Andrew’s town itself is, predictably, small, with a population of 20’000, of which 8’000 are university students. This size means that, as we were frequently told, the students ‘make their own fun’ as there isn’t exactly a mutlitude of clubs or pubs or the sort of social things that usually come with the idea of university.
This problem appears to be solved by the fact that students seem to visit Edinburgh, about an hour away by train, and Dundee, about half an hour away, when they choose to properly go out. Obviously, this would be an expensive night out as the cost of train tickets, admission, drinks etc. would be rather a lot, particularly for an in-debted university student (something I will come to speak about a little further on).
Despite my previous paragraph of social woe, St. Andrew’s isn’t without a night-life; the student union bar is an apparent social hub, and because the university takes over the whole town there are many places to hang out and enjoy being a student. There are also the university halls of accomodation, all with common areas and decently sized rooms with all the utilities one could require. There isn’t really a need to visit either Edinburgh or Dundee unless you want shopping malls and clubs, and the hours journey to Edinburgh isn’t actually much longer than travelling from A to B in London.
Meeting people would be easy; of course the size of the university means that the student body forms a close-knit community, and the fact that you can walk from one end of town to the other in 25 minutes means that you’re always in close proximity to friends, and other people full-stop.
According to Which? University, St. Andrew’s has the overall student satisfaction rate of 89%, nearly matching those of Russel Group Universities such as Cambridge (90%), Oxford (91%), and Durham (90%). This means that the whole small-town thing clearly isn’t a problem.
Perhaps now would be the time to talk about the aformentioned small-town; St. Andrew’s is located on the East Coast of Scotland, with beautiful architecture and beaches, the biggest of which being West Sands Beach, a huge stretch of flat sand with rock pools and shells and all the charm of a picturesque, if chilly, coastline.
The beach is an area of town that most everyone mentioned at some point, as was the ruined castle, the rich history, and the abundent traditions.
The main street, Market Street, is just a normal long, cobblestoned road with all the shops you would need; New Look, Phase Eight and H&M to fulfill high-street fashion needs, Superdrug and Boots, Subway, Nandos and lots of little coffee shops and independent restaurants, the ones we tried having served delicious meals with lovely staff.
Parallel with Market Street is North Street, where the admission ‘block’ of the university can be found. Just like Market Street, North is cobbled and lined with beautifully designed buildings, a theme that runs throughout the town.
Now, I think the time has come to discuss the debt issue; as St. Andrew’s is a Scottish university 1/3 of the student body is made up of Scottish students who don’t have to pay to attend. EU students also have discounted fees, I think, so together that’s a substantial percentage of the students who have no or less debt than those from England and Wales. This means that they would have extra spending money compared to, certainly, me and people in my position. This would also explain how they would manage to go into Edinburgh and Dundee for a night out. I can’t pretend that this financial issue doesn’t worry me slightly, but I don’t think it would be as noticeable as I think I’m making it out to be.
Courses-wise, St. Andrew’s manages to strike a middle ground between the English university system, where students pick a course or a joint course meaning that at most they can study two subjects, and the American college system, where breadth is valued more so students study a range of subjects. St. Andrew’s is much like the American system for the first two years of one’s course in that students study three or four subjects and then cut it down to two in-depth ones in the last two years, like the English system does from the start. Personally, I like this method of teaching as it would mean that I could study Anthropology, Philosophy and Film all at once for the first two years, and so even if I didn’t get a degree in it I would have some kind of a background in film, the industry I wish to go into.
The students and professors that we met were lovely – very welcoming and easy to talk to, as well as happy to discuss their worries before attending the university.
All in all, I found St. Andrew’s to be an absolutely lovely university and town, and highly expect to be applying there later this year. My only real worry is that, for me, it’s a very long way from home and, since I’ve only ever known London, my entire life is here. Of course, the finance side of things worries me too, but there are plenty of scholarships and bursaries to apply for and really money-worries will crop up with all universities, as is the nature of higher education.
I hope this little post has been educational and helpful, and if you wish to know any more about my visit to the university feel more than welcome to drop me a comment.
I’m not going to even begin to attempt to hide the fact that I am rubbish when it comes to revision; for my GCSEs I read my English texts the night before each exam, barely picked up a Maths textbook, didn’t even try to try with French, winged Latin, flunked History, glanced maybe twice at my sciences, and tried a bit (the most) with Art. Obviously, it showed in my grades which were, predictably, nowehere near what I know I could’ve achieved.
I think my problem is, and it’s the same for many people, that I was ridiculously clever in primary school; I was that kid who could ace a test in a few minutes and would always move onto the extension work. Because of that I was praised so much so that when I moved to secondary and found myself at a more average level I floundered around, terrified at the prospect of not being top but unable to work to get back there because I’d never needed to try before and so had no idea how to try.
Now, at A-Levels, I’m still in that position. I’m average, perhaps even a tad below it now, and I’m still lost when it comes to studying. It’s not that I haven’t asked for help, it’s just that my brain is rather like a sieve now.
Obviously, this is a realisation that has caused me no end of grief because, hell, the exams I have coming up are ones whose grades are given to my prospective universities, so to say that they’re a big deal is on a whole other level of understatement.
Right now, I’m sitting at my desk having just got up from lying on the floor scrolling through Buzzfeed quizzes and articles on ‘How To Motivate Yourself To Revise’. Shouldn’t the fact that if I don’t study I won’t go to university be motivation enough? You’d think so.
So I suppose the point of this little post is to say to all those other people in the same state as me that you’re not alone! But that that’s not a reason to stay the way we are, because really we won’t get anywhere by Googling motivational inspiration.
Really, I think we need to set ourselves a goal, an achievable one that’s just far enough away that we’ve got to actually try to reach it. For me, that’s getting into a good university so I can move out. For you it might be the same, or different, but whatever it is, focus on it because if you’re anything like me you’ll be kicking yourself in a few months if you didn’t try for it.
So good luck, my fellow perfectionist procrastinators, I know you can do it.