Friday, 16 June 2017

A Year Later...

This time last year, more or less, I officially came out of the closet and so today to celebrate #Pride2017, I wanted to write a little something about how my life has changed and not changed since I posted this post last year.

For the most part, nothing much has changed - as it shouldn't. I still have good friends. I still go to work. I am, essentially, still me.

But also, there has been quite a lot that has changed. Mostly for the better too! Yay!

The one thing that I can definitely say with absolute certainty is that I do not regret coming out last year.

In The Past Year:

The Good:
  • I have felt more comfortable in my skin. Knowing who I am inside and why I am the way I am has really helped to make me feel more comfortable on the outside. I may live in a society obsessed with sex but I am not and that is totally okay.
  • I find it easier to talk about my asexuality with other people - including strangers and work colleagues! Recently I've brought it up to a few of my new colleagues just casually in conversation and if they already know about it they let it slide but I did have one person ask and she was totally cool with my response. I educated someone about it which was fantastic!
  • I find it is easier to ask if conversations about sex could not happen around me. Not that I dislike talk about it but sometimes just thinking about my friends having sex makes me feel a bit uncomfortable! - Sorry guys!
  • There are a few more fun in jokes with my friends which makes me feel more included and happy - which is never a bad thing.
  • When I got so little judgement, it made me feel safe and happy. My sexuality is my sexuality and at the end of the day, if it doesn't affect your way of life, why should you judge? 
  • I've been trying to read and watch more books and shows with good ace rep. I've not been hugely successful yet but hopefully one day!

The Bad:
  • I still sometimes feel like there is something wrong with me. Why don't I want to have sex? Should I just do it to get it over with? I know these are mostly silly thoughts but society doesn't always make it easy to be "different".
  • I still struggle to see myself in a relationship with anyone because I am overly anxious about the sex side of things. I don't want to force someone to not have sex but I would also want someone to be faithful to me so how would that ever work?
  • I have recently been thinking about being a teenager and remembering that I used to want to be a nun because even though I was an atheist, I knew that as a nun it would be socially acceptable not to have sex. I still don't think it's truly socially acceptable and that hurts inside.
  • While I have come out to the internet, my friends and colleagues, I have yet to be able to face my family with the news. As far as I can tell, they just wouldn't understand and just assume I hadn't found the right person yet or that I would feel differently once I'd had sex. And I just don't want to feel so disheartened by those who are that close to me.

So it's been a rocky year but I'm hoping that those bad points will, at some point in the future, disappear entirely. 

The one thing that has not changed and will never change is that I am PROUD to be an ASEXUAL.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

We are strong against terrorism

We are all born into this world without being knowledgeable: we are brought into this world without being spiteful and we are certainly not quick to judge others. It is only as we begin to grow into adults where we learn to become prejudice, even cruel to each other. Rather than being compassionate we, as humans, tend to show more hate in certain circumstances. In light of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, I thought that it would be important and appropriate for me to write this post.

The Oxford Dictionary describes terrorism as "the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims", it is a way of dividing people to perhaps control them. Terrorists want to create widespread fear, but from the recent attacks, the UK did the contrary: we united together in hope. Whilst both attacks have caused much grief among families and friends, people in Manchester and London came together to help those in need. In Manchester, strangers were offering victims a place to stay for the night, and taxi drivers helped families look for loved ones who were at the concert - in London, people tried to save the lives of those who were either hit by the van or were stabbed. If we had let fear consume and control us all, we wouldn't run into danger helping those who are injured. These 'terrorists' think that they can divide us, weaken us even - but we stand strong. I think that this was especially highlighted in the 'One Love Manchester' concert that Ariana Grande held in memory of those who were unfortunately killed or severely injured in the attack. Even in London, everyone came together to hold a moment of silence for those who were unnecessarily killed in the London Bridge attack. Seeing people unite together brought hope back into my heart in this dark time, and hope, as well as love, is all we need - not hate.

I had briefly met one of the victims of the Manchester attack at an event in 2016. Her name was Georgina and she was eighteen-years-old when she had her future taken from her. When I found out that she was one of the victims, my heart broke - and it broke even more after more victims were announced, especially when the youngest victim was eight. All of the victims had their futures taken from them in an awful attack that shouldn't have even happened, may they all be resting in Heaven
peacefully.

But this leads me on to another thing: Islamophobia. More and more people have started to become more malicious towards Muslims, as there has been a sudden rise in prejudice against them. Just because one is Muslim, doesn't mean that they are a member of so-called ISIS or that they are a terrorist themselves. They are ordinary people who do not deserve to have insults or violence directed at them - and as Rameza Bhatti from Huffpost states "just because this man calls himself a Muslim, and probably has a beard, doesn’t mean that he is practising Islam. Just because he cries “Allah is great” before committing a bloody attack, doesn’t mean he represents (her) religion". We should all try to eradicate this prejudice against Muslims because Islam does not mean terrorism. 

To sum up, we all need to unite together in these dark times to show these 'terrorists' that whilst their attacks are immoral, we stand strong together unafraid. Be safe and be aware.

I think it is also appropriate to include this song by Todrick Hall, as I think it sums up my main feelings about terrorism, and it fits in with the message of this post.




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Friday, 2 June 2017

I Feel Like a Woman

Over the last week I started reading The Gender Games by Juno Dawson (I'll be reviewing it on my blog on Monday so keep an eye out!) and as I was reading, I was suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts and thus I decided that I needed to write them down, which is what I am trying to do in this post here.

This is NOT a review of the book.

This is NOT a comment on any of the contents in the book either.

It is merely a post that was inspired by the book. Because as I was reading it, it felt like someone was talking directly to me and telling me things that I needed to hear, for years. It is everything I have known deep down but haven't really been able to put into words myself.

And that is how I feel about being a female. 

In my bio it says: "for a large part of my life, I've felt different from the majority of the female population" - this is still so true and I wanted to use this blog to explore these feelings. And then I stumbled across this book and it suddenly makes sense.

I have always known very firmly that I am a woman. There is absolutely nothing inside me that wants to be a man.

BUT

I do not feel like a female.

And as Juno Dawson explains much better than I ever could, what I mean by this is that I do not feel like the society construct of a female. I do not fit in with the terms that are used to describe being feminine.

- girlish
- make-up lover
- emotional
- sweet
- cute
- likes dresses and skirts
- likes fashion
- likes gossip

And so on and so forth.

Instead I like to believe that I'm not exactly boyish but I do believe I have a lot of "male" qualities to my personality.

But these things are only male qualities because society says they are. They are not what actually makes you a man.

And thus I feel a little better within myself. Because maybe I won't be accepted by society but I am accepted by my friends and I now understand myself further. Having male quirks to my personality doesn't make me a man or even make me close to being a man, it simply means that I am who I am.

And I'm pretty much okay with that.

So thank you Juno for helping me to realize that there is nothing wrong with me - or anyone else for that matter.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Knowing Your Limits

They say in order to grow you should be testing your limits, pushing yourself forward, outside of your comfort zone.


But what is there to be said for knowing your limits?

For me, limits have been a tricky business these last couple of years. I couldn’t ignore my diagnosis of my chronic illness, but I didn’t want it to hold me back either. So, I would test just how far I could go without it rolling out a huge STOP sign in the way of my plans. And whilst I was on medication; that was sometimes higher than at other times. But, I learnt quickly – especially when I was under the weather, under pressure, or even just in a low mood - I would feel the full brunt of my disease holding up the STOP sign earlier than I’d anticipated.

I would test myself. I would see how far I could go. I would try and see how much I could take before the risks were outweighing the benefits. And this is something I would continue to do for years. It would be my way of playing a little game with my illness, to be so determined to not let it hold me back. But, in reality, I needed my disease to kick off and tell me to slow down or stop. I needed to control me in that particular way.

Why, I hear you ask?

I needed limits.


Whilst being on medication and without any surgical intervention; my limits became the symptoms that my disease was angry: Fatigue. Lack of appetite. Bad bowels. Joint pains. Nausea. Sickness. Depression. Not all of these things were solvable by pulling back and slowing down; they were big signs that my disease was planning a big attack in the near future, but me listening then, I would buy myself some time.

The tiredness, the fatigue; that was the worst. And it still is now; after coming off medication since surgery, I have to say, I still get the fatigue hit me like a sack of anything.

But in the years between learning to cope with my illness and present day post-operative, I’ve taken some good advice: SELF CARE.

By practicing self-care, I know where my limits safety are. I know where I feel most comfortable and where I am most at ease. It is where I can do what I am capable of and some of the extra things I like doing: like blogging, alongside something such as working. It has been about balance and compromise. It has been a listening and responding aspect on my life I never really considered much when I wasn’t chronically ill. That is one of the silver linings of being ill, I suppose.

Lately, I’ve been ignoring my limits. Which has meant that, despite all my good intentions and well laid plans, I’ve burnt myself out abit and gotten into a mess. And this particular mess has been a partial blockage. I’ve come out the other side realising that my current lifestyle needs some alterations so that I can continue to do what I love but also do what I need to do too. It is not something I feel fantastically happy about – admitting defeat is something I hate doing – but! I know it will help me fulfil my working life potential. I have realised too that making mistakes whilst living with an ostomy – and mine is not even a year old yet – is part of this new life as an ostomate. But being a good, proactive and resourceful patient has helped in more ways lately, than ever before.

So, knowing your limits... that’s important as pushing myself beyond them.



Friday, 26 May 2017

Turning 25: 25 things I Wish I'd Known At 15

In exactly a month's time, I’ll officially be a quarter of a century old. 


Over the years, i've lost track of how many times I wanted life to come with instructions (or a rewind button!) Since neither of these things exist... yet... I thought i'd write a brief list of things I wish i'd known at 15.

1. If you use the internet to self-diagnose, Google will insist you buy a gravestone for your mild        
    headache.
2. Don’t even try to wear high heels – your ankles will fail you.
3. Panic attacks pass. Even when they feel like they won’t, they always end.
4. You shouldn’t have to convince someone to want you in their life. Walk away.
5. Fish is rancid - why on earth do you keep trying sushi?
6. Stop buying so many books and never getting around to reading them!!!
7.  Don’t believe the whole ‘first year doesn’t mean anything’ mantra at uni – use it to get a leg up, go      to academic support, while everyone else is being scraped off the floor at Ocean nightclub.
8. Stay up-to-date with politics. And always vote. Women died so you could vote.
9. Don’t walk by a homeless person without offering to buy them a drink and something to eat.
10. Trust your gut. It’s usually right.
11. Never let someone make you feel like a doormat for being kind.
12. There’s nothing a bubble bath and a new book can’t fix.
13. You’ll feel younger and more na├»ve at 25, than you did at 15.
14. There is nothing wrong with being tee-total.
15. Write a six monthly bucket list – make sure you complete it.
16. Waxing is expensive and more effort, but it doesn’t cause really painful abscesses.
17.  Quickest way to get a guy to leave a room? Talk about periods (or, my friend Hannah’s method,          afterbirth).
18. Don’t eat at dodgy looking restaurants – you only have to look at food near its sell-by date to be          ill.
19.  Life rarely goes to plan – the more you try to control it, the more wildly it’ll veer off course.
20. Travelling is incredible.
21. Learning how to swear in different languages is fun.
22. If you’re unhappy in life, make radical changes – try new things, make new friends, leave a stale         job…
23. Don’t ever give someone the power to make you question your self-worth.
24. Tell your family and friends you love them every day.
25. You definitely won’t be married or have kids by twenty five. The very thought makes you feel ill!


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Doing Long Distance


 A couple of weeks ago, I started a new job.
And not just any job; one I was so damn excited to get and actually start. But it meant moving away from home. That was a messy feeling in my head for weeks, which included moving all my patient care for my IBD and stoma as well as packing and getting my head around being away from home. I haven’t done that since I lived at university and my year abroad in Canada. Both those times fill me with great memories so I have high hopes that this big move will fall into that category in time.

Not only am I moving away from my family but I am moving away from my boyfriend.

And it wasn’t until this weekend – the second weekend I haven’t seen him as I usually would if I was at home still – I realise we are doing long distance.




I haven’t done that in over eight years. My boyfriend whilst I was at university studying lived quite far away but we spent our weekends together. These days, I don’t have that luxury or that amount of energy to travel all the way home. Plus, we now both have commitments to work and it’s just tiring being back at work after over a year away from it all. I find myself having a lot of mood swings; going from feeling on top of the world to wondered what on earth I have gotten myself into here. But that latter part passes and I feel okay. Most of the time, I am doing okay. I just need the distractions.

My boyfriend was a welcomed and wonderful distraction whilst I was sick, whilst I recovered from surgeries, whilst I suffered, whilst I grew up and got my confidence back. He became my number one fan and I became his biggest supporter in what he was doing, what he would achieve. So now, without him, it is a new feeling. Something I haven’t felt in years.

There is no comparison between my other big relationship and this one. This one has the longevity and the commitment I need and have always wanted. I couldn’t imagine going through what I’ve done without him by my side. It hasn’t always been easy and it’s never been perfect, but it wasn’t meant to be, I don’t expect it – or either of us – to be.

But long distance makes it feel so much like before. I am trying to remember how I survived going longer periods of time without my boyfriend back then, but I can’t. I think I’ve locked that relationship away in my mind, to some degree. But how did I do it? How did I keep it going for as long as I did, when I wasn’t as busy as I clearly am now? How do I keep my relationship going with 100 miles between us and weeks apart because of our schedules?

Advice welcome.

This new job and the opportunities it is hopefully going to lead to is my choice and sometimes I am half regret moving so far away from my boyfriend. He was a huge part of my life back at home, but I am not there anymore. I feel like I need some distance from us sometimes, or at least I did feel like that. And now I have it, I don’t want it. But, I’m sure I need it. We don’t get given what we have unless we could handle it. And I have dealt with what life has chucked at me so far, why not this?

Is this a silver lining?

Is the opportunity to really discover how strong our union is?



Sunday, 14 May 2017

Exams and My Low Self-Confidence

I have extremely bad self-confidence. This is something that I rarely like to talk about but I feel like I should do more. Cut a very long story short, I was bullied quite severely in Year 7 because I had a pixie cut (yes, I am aware that seems like a petty thing to be bullied over, but it happened), and because I was one of the shyest in my year at the time. I was emotionally and physically bullied to the point that when someone compliments me, I won't believe them. 

I've recently started my GCSE exams (GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education if you didn't know), and my first was Drama - one of the subjects which I want to continue studying for A Level. For this exam, I have to put on a thirty-minute play that fits into a theme that the exam board sets, and perform it to an external examiner who comes in and marks me on the spot (I am in a group for this exam). In short, I was given the role of the main character which meant that I had this very long monologue to learn. I was fairly nervous about this monologue, I didn't think that I was good enough to perform it, nor even be the character that I was assigned - so most of the time in rehearsals I would ask if we could skip the scene where my monologue came in. 

As my Drama exam got closer, I started getting more nervous over my monologue - whilst I was the main character, I had the least amount of lines meaning that the majority of my marks will come from this monologue. To study A Level Drama at my choice of Sixth Form, I need at least a B+ or an A, and I convinced myself that the way I was performing my lines was at a D, maybe an E grade. I started to get worked up over this monologue because I knew I wasn't good enough to be this character, and my marks were going to be non-existant. 

Around three days before the exam, my group, and the others, did a whole dress rehearsal to parents and teachers, and this was one of the first times I performed my monologue in front of an audience. I was terrified. Thankfully, I had a chance to run through my monologue with my teacher, and whilst she told me that I would get a fantastic grade from the way that I've performed it, I couldn't see how she could think that. In the dress rehearsal, we got to the part where my monologue came in, and I was shaking. I said my lines as best I could, and walked off stage, concluding the performance. From what people have told me, my monologue was great and I should be proud of myself. I would stand there as people were saying this to me, and I would think only negative thoughts about myself because I knew that there had to be some way of performing it better. 

The day of the exam I was a mess, I was shaking, nervous, and I couldn't think straight. I was trying to think of ways to improve myself from the time I got to school, to the time of my exam, which was thankfully in the afternoon. It got to the point that I had a panic attack - and it took twenty minutes for both my Drama teachers and my friends to calm me down. They were all trying to say to me that the lowest grade I might get would be an A, but I sat there, shaking my head, as I tried to explain to them that my acting is terrible. I was fine with my basic lines, as they were mainly one word, but it was the monologue that was stressing me out the most. 

Then the exam came, and my group was the first to perform. 

As we were all performing, I was trying my hardest to be this character. I thought that I was doing pretty well, and when I looked over to the examiner, they were scrawling down notes, and I hope that they were all nothing but positive. 

I went backstage right before my monologue and I had to give myself a pep-talk (yes, this may have been a silly thing to do, but this was my last chance to get the grade that I wanted). I walked out on stage, delivered my lines, and waited for the lights to go down. And, as soon as I said my last line, I could hear crying from the back of the Drama Studio. The moment that the examiner left the room to mark my group, my entire class came running up to me, some of them were in tears. This, of course, made me and my group cry too. 

All of this made me realise something: I should believe what people say to me more. The way my class acted after I performed my monologue gave me some sort of wake-up call - my Drama teacher was right after all, I did perform my monologue well. 

I guess I had to write this because I needed to get this off of my chest. And even though I have to take about twenty more exams, I feel just that little more confident that I can smash these exams and get the grades I want in August. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Being a Bridesmaid

So a couple of weeks ago now I was a Bridesmaid at my sister's wedding. This is something that I have both been incredibly excited about and also incredibly nervous and anxious about. Excited because I wanted to do my sister proud and help her make her wedding day be everything she wanted it to be, nervous and anxious because even though it wasn't my day, I was a) sure people would be looking at me, b) I would look so different to the other bridesmaid (my other sister) and the maid of honour (brides best friend) that I would stand out and ruin everything, and c) I would not fit in to the bridesmaids dress.

As it was, the dress fit - albeit I didn't last the whole day in it and I had painful grooves in my skin for the next few days afterwards so point c) was absolutely fine. Point b did happen and it did make me feel uncomfortable but no one actually said anything which was good. And Point a also happened but everyone only had good things to say.

What I learnt from being a bridesmaid is what I want to discuss today.

  1. I am not okay with my body. I have written a post about this before but it really came to light at the wedding that I am not happy with how I look. I do not love the skin I am in.
  2. I am envious of everyone for looking absolutely stunning. I spent the day looking at both my sisters and my mum in their amazing dresses and was so incredibly jealous of how beautiful they looked and how awful I felt I looked in comparison. 
  3. Weddings are very different to how they look in the movies but the one thing they always get right is that often something always goes wrong. In the case of this wedding, the table plan wasn't laid out exactly right...
  4. Weddings can be fun. They're a celebration and a perfect opportunity to wish the bride and groom a happy life ahead.
  5. It is difficult to stay awake until midnight when you're one of the only people not drinking alcohol.
  6. Weddings are not great places to meet new people, despite what I've heard...
But lastly, the biggest thing I learnt (although I sort of already knew)...

I do not want to have a wedding.

I'm not even sure at this stage if I want to get married but if I do get married, I don't want a wedding. There is absolutely no way I could have that much attention on me. Or that much stress. I know some people might be upset with that so I might have a party if the time comes but I just do not want a wedding - and certainly not a traditional princess wedding like my sister had!

So I think I learnt quite a bit. The whole day was absolutely lovely and I'm so happy for my sister and my new brother-in-law. But I'm also quite glad that it's all over...


Sunday, 7 May 2017

On Feeling Left Behind.

I’ve talked a bit on here about my decision at 19 to drop out of University and then at 20 to enrol again at a different one. Long story short, I dropped out of University after only one semester because my mental health got really awful really quickly and I couldn’t cope living on my own, with the pressure of assignments over my head and nobody I was really close to yet to talk to about it. I worked for a year and a half at a couple of different jobs, and started University again somewhere else on a different course in September.

So, I’m 21 and just finishing my first year. It’s gone okay. University definitely isn’t what I’d call the best time of my life as it is for so many (at this point I actually in some ways preferred working full time in customer service … only in some ways though), but I’m coping and getting decent grades and have some good friends. I have no current plans of dropping out, and the end of my first year is within reaching distance.

However I’ve been feeling a bit shit about my whole situation recently. My Facebook feed, made up predominantly of people around my age group, obviously, has been filled for the last week with pictures of people handing in their dissertations and final papers, I’ve had conversations with many friends about graduation dates and going out into the world. And I guess I’ve just been feeling left behind and feeling rubbish about myself for not being in the same position they are.

Now I know on a level this is silly. Even if I had stayed at my original degree, I wouldn’t be graduating this year because it was a four year course (I would actually currently be in the USA on a year abroad right now, and to be honest I’m kind of thankful I’m not). I know that my decision to leave and take care of my mental health was the right one for me, and that taking care of myself is the first priority. I know that there are loads of people who take years out or drop out and go back after a few years. I know all these things, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling rubbish about myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy for my friends and I know I’m where I need to be. But there’s this feeling that as my friends are embarking on their Masters or going to work abroad or just out into the working world that I’m being left behind a bit. I won’t graduate until I’m at least 23 or 24, and even though I know I’ve had experiences they haven’t had and it’s not my fault, it just feels a bit crap sometimes. I know I shouldn’t compare my experiences to others, and despite all these rubbish feelings right now, I know in the long run I’m on the right track for me.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Respecting a Person's Gender, Sexuality, and their Personal Choices

A while ago somebody I know came out as transgender at my school, and whilst many people congratulated them, there was a small minority of people who decided to bully this person. They subjected this person to threats, and even some quite horrible comments – one person had actually said to this person that "(they) are not transgender until (they've) had the surgery, and (they're) only saying that (they) are transgender for attention". Quite a few people stood up for this person, including myself, but in the end, the bullying had gotten so bad they had to leave the school.  This got me thinking: why do some people care so much about another's choices about their identity? If a person feels comfortable identifying as a boy or a girl, we don't maliciously attack them for their choices – but when it comes to people identifying as trans, or even non-binary, some people try to make them feel like their choice is wrong.  

I identify as non-binary; I go by the they/them/their pronouns. I don't feel entirely comfortable identifying fully as a girl, nor as a boy. Not a lot of people know that I identify as non-binary, as when I've told some people who are quite close to me, they've told me that I "can't identify" with the they/them pronouns because I'm either fully a girl, or fully a boy. Even though I've told them that identifying as non-binary makes me feel more comfortable as a person, their response to me was that "I'm never going to feel comfortable because that's how the world works." And they also mentioned that they're not going to use the right pronouns, which, of course, made me feel miserable. People seem to be making this big deal over one choice, me asking people just to respect something that makes me feel comfortable about myself is only small. The world isn't just boys or girls: gender is on a spectrum, and I think people need to realise this more.  

A person's sexuality also doesn't have a major, and detrimental effect on another person. We live in the 21st century, and, yet, we still seem to act like opposites attract each other, and nothing else matters. A person can love whomever they want, so why do we slander people if they express their love for another? I've mentioned before that I'm queer, and I have had homophobia directed towards me – although when I have stood up for myself, and presented arguments saying why we should respect everyone for who they are, they have backed down.  

Our world thrives on diversity, but we often suppress certain elements of it. If we truly want to live in a peaceful world, we need to start acting kind and respect each other's decisions. Honestly, if we do this, the world will a much better place. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Coming Out: Sometimes It Doesn't Go To Plan


Coming out is monumental for anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people write letters, others bake rainbow cakes covered in sprinkles. How I came out isn’t nearly as well-planned or delicious. 

Early last year, I found myself falling in love for the first time. I didn’t see it coming. We’d been friends for a while, but literally overnight, something shifted in our friendship. I found myself on a crazy, passionate and utterly terrifying roller coaster with another girl.

Before her, I’d always identified as heterosexual.. But I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I’d never been curious.. With her, it became crystal clear that I definitely wasn’t straight.


She was witty, talented and beautiful. Sometimes I felt like I’d won a prize to stand next to her. Neither of us were ready to be out, but for the first time, I had to accept a side of myself that I’d ignored. 

Months passed and the more sure I became of her and our secret relationship, the more doubts seemed to creep into her mind. Eventually, she broke my heart.

At first, I tried to hide my heartbreak from my family and friends. It was 3pm on a Sunday when I knew I had no other option than to tell them - I wasn’t coping and I couldn't hide it anymore. Before I could change my mind, I stumbled into the kitchen and tried to tell my mum the secret that had been hanging over me for months. I choked on the words. For the next half an hour, she just held me until I could whisper what was wrong:

            I was in love with a girl.
           The girl had just shattered my heart.
           I was sorry for lying to her and dad and I hoped they still loved me.

What happened next is something we all hope  for. My mum smiled and told me whoever I decided to spend my life with would never stop them loving me. In fact, she’d guessed months ago and had been prepping my dad for the revelation. I went to bed that night knowing how unbelievably lucky I was. 

I came out to my friends next. Some were extremely hurt – they felt like I’d lied to them, and didn’t trust them. For a while, our friendships were difficult and rocky. I felt huge amounts of guilt because of this. Maybe if I’d come out ‘properly’, when I was ready and had planned to, they’d have taken it better. Despite their feelings, they still dragged me out for coffee, bought me bath bombs and told me it’d get better.

And it did. Happiness seeped back into my life. But this notion of not coming out 'properly', in the way I wanted, kept tormenting me. As the time passed, I started to realise something important. No, I didn't get to come out the way I hoped to, but that really didn't matter at all. In all of this, I had missed the most important point:

Coming out, for any reason, in any fashion, sets you free.



Tips for coming out:

  1. Beforehand, binge watch every gay or semi gay tv show – OITNB! The L World! Queer As Folk! When We Rise!
  2. Only come out if it's safe to do so - your safety is more important than anything else.
  3. If it isn't safe, bide your time. Make plans, start saving money, and know that one day, you'll be able to. 
  4. Don't let anyone pressure you into coming out.
  5. Expect to feel elation, followed by surrealism, followed by exhaustion.
  6. You might find it easier to come out to strangers at first, rather your friends and family. Don’t feel guilty – it’s a practice run.
  7. People will ask a lot of questions. Don’t feel that you need to answer anything you’re uncomfortable with.
  8.  If you’re like me and don’t ‘look gay’, you’ll have to come out again, and again and again. That’s okay – you’ll get super creative with your methods!
  9. If your family and friends truly love you, they’ll keep loving you, even if they struggle to understand it.
  10. You’ll find life is suddenly a lot lighter and brighter when you’re not hiding anymore.
Finally, don’t feel bad if you’ve read this blog post and you’re worried you won’t ever be ready. A year ago, I’d have said the same thing. You’ll know when the time is right.


         Advice Websites:
   

         
          Stonewall Youth





Monday, 24 April 2017

You Don't Have To Label Your Sexuality


I'm not gay, I'm not straight, I'm not bisexual. I'm a person who loves a person and that is all there is to it. I don't think anyone is really one thing because you never know who you are going to fall in love with. I'm not saying you don't know who you're attracted to but things and people change. I'm not attracted to body parts or the way you look. I like the way you make me smile and the words you tell me. The stories you have to share. The quirks that make you, you. There are people who define themselves as non-binary and genderqueer. I don't need to assign myself to loving a particular gender identity. People are just people.

My partner has a penis. If they had a vagina I'd love them all the same. It doesn't matter about the outside because I fell in love with the little things that make them, them. If they changed their appearance in any way they would still be them... right?

Saying this, if you label your sexuality and are comfortable doing so, there is nothing wrong with that and I think you're fine to. It's just that I feel like I don't need a label as I don't think any apply to me. I've always felt like I needed to pick a label but the truth is you haven't got to. Hopefully people will understand my view point just as I try to and perhaps do understand theirs. If you do label yourself, it only becomes a problem when you think you have to always be that label. Because you don't.

What I'm trying to say is that your sexuality does not matter and that you should just love whoever the hell you want to, regardless.


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Friday, 21 April 2017

Fashion Failure

I am not a fashion expert. It is one of the things that I am very, very aware of. In fact, I am probably the opposite of a fashion expert - whatever that makes me! It is the one thing about my personality that has always made me feel like I was lacking in the feminine department. Because girls love clothes and shopping, right? And I hated both of those things. I wear clothes because I have to but I never really know what to wear.

Yesterday I was watching a programme and a moment happened where a dress was made for the female teenager and she was happy with the dress but the grandmother refused to accept her happiness because she was crying for joy. Adjustments were made but still no tears. So the girl explains how she doesn't know who she is or what clothes she likes or how to describe who she is but that she loves x, y, and z. The next time you see her open the clothes bag, she physically cries of happiness. Inside her grandmother has created a pant suit of perfection and it is exactly what the girl wanted.

I have never felt this way.

I wish I have. I see things on the clothing rails and I love them but they aren't me. I love clothes on other people too, and love when they look super comfortable and lovely in them too. Always wishing that I could feel that way too.

But I don't.

Last summer I brought some dresses and I really liked them. I wore them out and felt happy that I was wearing dresses for the first time in a very long time. But deep down, I didn't feel comfortable in them. I know that I looked nice and I liked how I looked in them but I didn't feel like they showed who I was.

And I think the biggest problem is that I don't know who I am. I don't know how to dress myself because I don't know what my style is. I wear jeans and hoodies the most because they make me feel comfortable but as I am growing older, I feel that soon I need to ditch the hoodies because I'm too old. But once they go, where do I go from there?

In all honesty, when shopping for clothes these days I mostly just look for things that fit and cover up my hideous skin and do my utmost best to find longer shirts to hid my "builder's bum" because I seem to have a horrible problem about keeping my trousers up. - I am someone who is almost always between sizes and belts help only so much.

So I'm hoping that one day inspiration will strike and I will know exactly what kind of clothes I want to wear.

But for now, I will cling to my jeans and my hoodies and hope that I don't age too quickly.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Last Year of My 20's


It's here. The final year of me being in my twenties. 

The last couple years, I've hardly noticed the age I am. Mostly because my age hasn't really been on my mind or if it has it because people don't quite believe my actual age when I tell them. Being sick since I was 22 meant that my birthdays weren't really celebrated like the used to be. I didn't go out drinking or clubbing like I did in my university years, I felt too unwell to do that or I didn't want to risk being sick afterwards. And as my IBD developed and became harder to treat, I was just too damn tired to want to celebrate. 

This year, well, I want to do something.


The thing is, I don’t know what.

I always felt pressurised to want to do something on my birthday, every year, since I can remember. And whilst sickness got in the way, I was glad I was too unwell to do anything huge and planned and ‘epic’. That specific pressure has gone – meaning that I don’t let it control me as much as I used to; a silver lining cloud to living with a chronic illness, I guess – but it’s been replaced with an age specific one.



NEXT YEAR I WILL BE THIRTY.


Thirty; when I was a young eighteen, felt like a million years ago. Slowly but surely, time ticked on and its next year now.

I feel the pressure to have my life together and settled down by then.

I feel the pressure to have a plan on what I am going to do and everything like that.

I feel some pressure to make a life with my partner now; it’s been five years already.



And whilst some of those things definitely spur me on to get on with my life – my new life now with my ostomy makes those things ‘achievable’ – the others make me sad.

I don’t feel close to thirty. I don’t feel or look my age. Why is that a bad thing, again?

Thirty seems to be the age when your life should be sorted and you’re working towards later life. But I’m only just now starting to find my career path. I am only just moving away from my family home. I am only just beginning my life with a new sort-of anatomy. For me, life is beginning now and it is not going to be sorted and settled by the time next year rolls around. But still, there is the pressure. It’s a dull throb in the back of my head. It mostly goes away but when it is right up there, causing me metaphorical pain; I listen to it. When I know I shouldn’t.

What is perceived to be ‘normal’ and ‘done by this age and time in life’ is bullshit. I spent my twenties unsure of myself and my life, then sick and wondering how on earth I was going to get my life back together again. I would compare myself and my lack of achievements to those of all my university acquaintances. It did not make me feel better, but it was a hard cycle to break. People kept achieving big life goals – marriage, buying houses, kids, new careers and promotions – and all I did was bounce from pointless job to pointless job with some stints in hospital in between.

What I do know now is that it takes some personal strength and resilience to stand up for yourself and not let other achievements get you down. You have plenty of your own goals to set and smash. You have plenty of time to figure things out, it doesn’t happen overnight, there is no quick fix. But! Hard work, determination and belief will get you far. They will help you go far.



And so what, if by the time I’m thirty I’m still not ticking all those big life goals?

I’ve got my own goals. Smashing them in my own slow and steady way.

It was the tortoise who won the race, after all.



Monday, 17 April 2017

Spring Clean Your Life

It’s that time of year again when the winter disappears and spring steps in to take its place. The time when people start de-cluttering their homes, re-sorting their gardens and as such, letting their lives have a bit of a fresh start - sort of like at new years but different. So today on Safe Space we are talking about how we recharge and refresh ourselves during this time of year. Or well… at any time of year when we really need it. Today, we’re going to tell you all about how we Spring Clean our lives.



Louise
I definitely use this time of year to actually clean - throw away things I don't need anymore, donate clothes that don't fit, find new homes for old books, organise the space in my room better - but when it comes to spring cleaning myself; it's abit more difficult. Whilst rearranging my room can certainly help clear my head, I also try and use Spring as a new start. I don't really like NY and it's pressurised attitude for a "new year, new you" vibe. My birthday falls in Spring, so I look back on my past year and see how I can improve. I also reflect on what I have achieved. It might not be huge things but the small things have value too. This helps me refocus on the next couple of months.
I make lists on what I'd like to blog about, what I'd like to do, things I wanna see or places I want to travel to. I find time to read and rest; because who knows when they next get the chance to! I usually throw some baking in there too; it's all hungry work.
What is helping me focus this spring time is moving out and away from home and relocating for a new job. Nothing like that 'pressure' and excitement to help you really clean.



Faye
I very much believe in the expression, tidy kitchen, tidy mind, because every time I clear my room, I feel rejuvenated and refreshed, ready to tackle whatever is next on my to-do list. But I am also a busy person and so actually tidying my room does not happen as often as it should. Meaning that I often actually have a very messy room and a very messy mind. I’ve never really been the kind of person to use a time of year to re-fresh my life but this year I definitely have. I’ve got a new job, cleaned my room, tidied my bookshelves and am actually trying really hard to re-prioritize and re-organise my life so that I feel better both mentally and physically.
I don’t really have any tips on how to do this. For me I have just been looking at what is most important to me and focussing on those things first, letting things that I maybe haven’t looked at or done in a long time to be “let go” as such. It’s a new notebook and a plan to try bullet journalling, a physical to-do list that I can continually tick off. It’s also been an actual spring clean of my room so that I can feel more open when I am in my room. But who knows if it’ll actually help?
All I can say is that the one thing I love about spring is going outside. I love being at one with nature and this, this always makes me feel happier and “fresher”.



Lily 
Winter is my least favourite season and Spring my favourite so I always find there’s a massive shift in my mind-set around this time of year. I start to realise how messy I’ve let my room and life get. I definitely feel better, re-charged and more in control with a tidy room, and everything is neat and has a place or is thrown out. Something I do periodically to ‘spring-clean’ although I’d say I do it about once a season is go through all of my books (there are a lot) and get rid of any I have no interest in anymore or the ones I don’t like and give them to a charity shop so they can find a better home. As someone who is a massive introvert, re-charging for me absolutely means spending time by myself. Whether that’s a long walk, sitting in my room watching YouTube videos or parks and rec, I absolutely have to have me time. I find with Spring and Summer I tend to be in situations, whether on holiday or staying at friends, where I’m surrounded by people a lot more than in Autumn and Winter and so finding that ‘me time’ is essential, otherwise I’m a horrible grumpy mess. Despite being a city girl at heart I do love going out into nature during Spring – there’s something about the sun and the birds and the blossoms that really revitalises me.



Kate
I think it’s fair to say I’m stressed or worried around 90% of the time. Quite often, I just need to down tools and step away from everything to reassess what’s important. I’m a real believer in feng shui, so the first thing I do is remove any items that trigger negative thoughts or memories from my personal space. Fresh bedsheets and a furniture switch-around will follow. I love to fill my bedroom with fresh flowers - usually two or three bouquets - you can’t help but feel happy when you look at them. Finally, to recharge, I just do things that make me happy. I go to the gym or for a swim, take day trips and sing along to terrible music with my best friends, have a deep bath filled with Lush products, plan my next big holiday abroad, and drink rancid vegetable juices until I feel sick.



Georgia
When I’m stressed I tend to grab a glass of herbal tea (usually peppermint) and a blanket, and I just sit back on my couch and try to relax. Sometimes, I quite like to binge-watch shows on Netflix, just so I can take my mind off of some things. However, I also like to meditate, the breathing exercises help me calm my nerves and it helps me focus.

Recharging, however, I take a nap and afterwards, I drink some more herbal tea.



Charlotte
Life in Charlotte land can get very hectic sometimes. I try to take a small chunk out of each week, sometimes even each day, to have some relax time. Time to give myself a little break. I made a relapse box a while ago, which I use mainly for times when I’m getting distressed and need to focus on something to stop the thoughts becoming out of control. The box is full of stuff that makes me smile and stuff I can do to calm down. Recently i’ve started getting the box out more regularly, so that it gives me a chance to wind down and have a breather. I take out the strawberry tea and pop the kettle on. I put the CD, which is forever being changed, into the stereo. I look at all the pictures of good times with friends and family. I lay out the colouring book and pencils. I spray the raspberry mist around me. It’s nice to just take some time out for yourself. This helps me to think more clearly and then I can start to plan things and make positive changes.