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.


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.


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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

I'm a Feminist and Poud

Hi, I'm a feminist. 

It's not a dirty word, nor is it a bad thing to be. Actually being a feminist is one of the things that can define me the most of the time, and I don't regret it - I'm quite passionate about feminism. At my school, I've done various presentations at my school, and I've written a few guest posts on various blogs about being a feminist. 

I think I first started being a feminist when I was eleven-years-old, where I began to notice that quite a few of my peers in my year began catcalling the girls that were in my classes. When I started to speak out against it, I was laughed at because people in my year thought it was wrong for a person to do this kind of thing. There was a point in Year Seven where the girls were told that it was "wrong" to wear trousers rather than skirts, and even now the girls in my year are given detentions if their socks are above their knees because it makes us girls "look like whores" (as one senior teacher had said). I've spoken out against this, and my protests have been shrugged off. 

Whilst I became vocal in favour of feminism in school, I've also seen gender inequality in the news, and in the streets. Seeing this happen annoys me, it's the 21st Century, and yet, inequality is still happening across the world. 

The oppression both genders face is unfair: girls are often forced to live up to female stereotypes, and it's the same with guys. We need to stop seeing gender as black and white, and more of a spectrum. 

I am a feminist because everyone deserves equality, and I am proud to fight against the oppression.

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Friday, 14 April 2017

Feeling the Pressure

As mentioned in my previous post, I've just started at a new job with added hours and an added commute and I was sure I would be able to sort it all out. Sadly the first week - two weeks? - have been really stressful - more than I thought they would be. Essentially, I was sure I could deal with a few less hours a week but it turns out the first two weeks have been more of a struggle than I realise. But what I wasn't expecting was the guilt and anxiety wrapping itself around my throat when I realised how little time I had. 

I had evenings where I needed to do so much work and then ended up too tired to actually do anything but sleep. And then the work piled up and it all just made me feel worse until I felt stretched far too thin. 

Add to that the fact that although I have only reduced my hours by 3 hours at work, I've also reduced it by two days and it's hit me how much a difference being in more days make - even if those days are only a few hours long, it was still time to get stuff done and to contribute to the team. I am 100% sure that I will get used to the change in hours soon but for the first two weeks it has definitely been a little bit of a shock to the system.

So what have I done to combat this feeling?

Well, on Wednesday I had plans in the evening but I ended up forgoing the plans so that I could stay in and get some tasks completed so as to lift some of the burden currently weighing down my shoulders. It's not a brilliant plan as I cannot keep just cancelling on people or changing plans at last minute but it has helped me get through the week.

I also prioritised my own to-do list into what was the most important things to do.

Namely my PR work came top of the list, then blogging, then reading. I also need to remember that I am not to feel guilty if I cannot read as much as I once did or blog as much as I once did too - anyone notice the time this post is going live? In remembering to remove the guilt, I can relax in the evenings and sleep without worrying about what I'm not doing instead and that in turn will make this transition a little easier - I hope!

Fortunately it's the Easter Weekend now so I have a few days off to get all of my personal life stuff back into balance and I can start next week fresh and ready. I technically won't be working a full week now until the second week of May but I have other plans in the meantime but here's hoping I can either keep on top of things or at the very least stop feeling so guilty for getting a little bit behind.

How do you keep on top of things and/or stop feeling guilty? I would love to know any tips you may have! Comment or tell me on twitter!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Three Years Single and Finding Happiness

Disappointing looks, arguing and angry words are all I remember now. Ask me for a good memory and you'll get a blank expression. It's not that you were a bad person; it's that I was getting more ill as each day passed. My judgement clouded by a dark haze. Maybe you just didn't love me enough to save me from self destruction. Maybe you thought leaving was the only way to help.

When I woke up one day and found that I had been blocked by you on pretty much everything, it was a massive kick up the bum. I needed you to leave to see what was going on. I could of got on the bus and come over but what use would that have been? You didn't have the guts to tell me "it's over". I decided from that point, that I was going to get myself better. I didn't need a partner to validate my self worth. I needed to find myself.

From August 2013 till September 2016 I was single. Three years. Before that I had two serious relationships. In those three years people would feel sorry for me. They'd ask why I didn't have a partner. Friends would suggest I should find someone. The whole world seems to be obsessed with who's in a relationship and who's not. There is so many beautiful things in the world, but all we seem to focus on is having a girlfriend or boyfriend. Why can't people be allowed to be happy on their own? Why is it so important to be in relationship? There's too many pressures on people already without being made to feel like a loser for not having a special someone.
It was a difficult period, but at the same time it was just what I needed. I needed to be on my own. I needed to focus on getting well and looking after myself. I found who I was in those three years. I'd always felt like I needed to rely on people to be okay. Once on my own, I realised the only person I needed to be there for me, was me. My friends are a massive support but the only one who can pick you up off the ground is yourself.

I became such a different person as those three years passed and I overcame some challenges in my life due to my mental health. I was able to grow into a strong confident woman who could do things for herself. I made new friends and moved out of my childhood home.

I'm now in a stable and happy relationship. Things are going wonderfully. Getting myself better and giving myself the space to breathe in those single years, helped me to be ready for a relationship again. The right person came along and I just went for it. We've been together six months now and it's just so nice. I haven't acted the way I would of done all those years ago because I have been taught to better manage by mental health and not let it rule me entirely.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Dealing with Changes With Mental Health

There are some people who deal with change easily. Whatever life throws at them, they just deal with it and get on with it and it barely affects their life. These are the type of people who welcome change as it makes life more interesting and intriguing. It makes them feel like they are actually living their life rather than just being alive. I used to be one of those people.

It feels weird to believe this of myself these days. To remember that I used to dive head first into adventure without knowing anything about what might be around the corner. Because it is something that I find almost impossible these days. Changes now feel overwhelming, terrifying, and cause me intense anxiety issues.

After primary school, I went to secondary school on my own and everything was fine. After secondary school, I went to college on my own and it was good. During secondary school when I was just 15, I went to Denmark without an adult and with just three friends. After college, I went on a gap year to Canada with just my brother and five strangers with me. It was the first time I had ever been to Canada. After Canada I went to university on my own and threw myself into new activities I had never done before, such as Waterpolo and Journalism.

I craved change in the past. I hated it when it felt like my life was still and not moving anywhere. I needed to try new things and go different places and live life to the fullest.

I’m not sure when it changed. I wish I knew so that I could go back to that day and shake my past self. But now change terrifies me. Eating in new restaurants fills me with anxious worries, going abroad seems like something I will never be able to do again (unless it is to a country I have been to before and can orient myself into something familiar but new places is a big no-no). Trying a new activity seems daunting and bizarre.

Change is no longer easy and is something that I have to really gear myself up for. This can sometimes take me a long time just to make a decision and even then I might back out before it comes to pass. As happened last year when I kept agreeing to meet new people in new places to try and be social and meet people and always cancelled the day before due to not dealing with the anxious feelings that coursed through my veins.

So, if you follow me on twitter or on my personal blog, you might know that I actually had a very big change happen in my life this week. I started a new job. But not only that. I started a new job in an entirely new city – two hours away from where I actually live.

Now as you can imagine, this has not been easy for me.

It actually took me five days to accept the offer for which I am entirely grateful to the employer for still keeping aside for me while I took the time to decide. I then had four weeks to get used to the idea of everything.

Those four weeks were full of planning and organising. They were also full of anxiety and panic. I had moments when I wanted to go back on my acceptance. Moments where I was sure that I was making a huge mistake and that I would hate both the job and the city and my life would be entirely ruined – naturally.

There was also excitement. Something different was going to happen in my life. Someone had seen me as worth investing in. Someone believed in me.

And I think that is what really helped get my anxious thoughts in order. That and having the most amazing friends and family around to help keep me grounded but to also continually remind me how wonderful this opportunity is and how proud they were of me, and all that wonderful good stuff that filled me with hope and that bit of strength I needed.

This week has been tough. On Monday I ended up having the biggest anxiety attack I’ve had in months. For two hours I struggled with my thoughts and my fears and the panic. I ended up driving to my mums house so that she could calm me down which led to further fears about what I would do when my mum wasn’t 30minutes down the road. But I got through it and I knew that underneath it all, I was just struggling with the change about to occur.

Tuesday was actually okay. This was actually the first day of actual change in my life but I managed to get through it easily enough. Wednesday came with a few blips and my heart raced a few times and I struggled to sleep in the evening. Not to mention I got stressed and a bit snappy as well. Fortunately, those I snapped at where very aware that the next day was the day of the big change so let me get away with it without too many repercussions.

And then yesterday. Yesterday was terrifying. But I planned and I prepared and I did everything I could to make sure I felt as comfortable as I could, including arriving at the job 15 minutes before shift started. And then the new job started and I met what seems like a very friendly and welcoming team who I am more than sure I will really like working with. I was shown the building I’d be working with and fell in love so very completely. I was also shown a few of the things I would be doing on the job and I knew that I could do everything I was asked and that I would most likely enjoy it too.

So now I still feel a little anxious about my next shift which starts tomorrow but I also feel better too. Because I did it. I made a change in my life. This is just the start. I have some more changes to make in the next few months but now I know that I can just get on with it when it happens.

I simply need to feel the fear and do it anyway. 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Changes, Welcomed Changes

I’ve always been known as someone who doesn’t do things by halves.

Some examples?

-          I have the most progressive disease my Gastroenterologist has seen.

-          In a three-month period, my colon disintegrated but I didn’t present with a flare up of IBD!

-          My GYN surgeon removed a tennis ball cyst off my ovary which should have been causing tons of problems, but wasn’t

-          When I got sick, I was really sick; without much indication.

See? Didn’t I tell you?

Things for me come all at once or not at all.

I am currently sat doing not much because I cleared my to-do list to have a couple days of down time. Why?

Well, in a couple weeks I start a new job. Almost 70 miles away from home. And this weekend, my OH and I go there to find my rental property for the first six months.

All the scary, big, life changing feels, right?

Thing is, I could have found a job closer to home. I could have found a job which would mean me and my OH could have lived together next year. I could have found a job that was just a job nothing more. And that would have been me, this time last year; pre-surgery, pre-ostomy. I would have settled for a job because it was money and I needed money. It was low risk, low responsibility and it was just a means to an end. I’ve felt like this about many jobs in the past; always thought it was safe to take a job I didn’t like because who would want anyone to work for them who was chronically ill, unable to show true commitment?

But it’s not me now.

The last six months I have felt incredibly well. I wasn’t expecting it and I admit, it was beginning to freak me out; I’ve never been that well with my Crohn’s in all the years I’ve had it so far, I hadn’t expected surgery to be so… life changing. So, by being so well, I’ve pushed myself. I’ve worked hard on my own blog, reached out to people and sought opportunities I would never have dreamed of before. Admittedly, I’ve had the free time to be flexible and explore these opportunities, and finally, it’s all paid off.

My job offer was 40% luck and chance and 60% recommendation and me, in all my gutsy glory.

I don’t mean to be big headed, I hope this does not come of like that, but jeez I still can’t believe it, all of this is happening and its happening to me.

So, in between all the stress of finding a place to live, moving to a new part of the country, starting a new job – it’s been 14 months since my last one, yikes! – I am incredibly proud of myself. I am internalising all of that so that on my first day I don’t bolt – panic and lose all confidence. And to anyone else, this is just a job and it’s not a big deal but it is to me. I have worked hard since surgery, whilst recovering, I’ll add, to figure out my plan; of what I hope to have my life be. It’s a solid picture now, instead of the blur it used to be. It’s filled with a house, my OH, some dogs and plenty of food. And it feels achievable for the first time in five years, since the diagnosis. Things finally feel stable, when I once felt so unsure about my life, myself and what I was actually doing. I don’t question things these days, my mellow attitude comes from – I hope – of years of learning to live with a chronic illness.

And maybe this will change if I get sick again – which is a possibility, a chance it could happen – but I am hopeful my ‘new’ attitude doesn’t falter if it does.

I hope this change, this welcomed change, is going to stick.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The LGBT* People I Admire

I am a huge supporter of the LGBT* Community, and it's had a massive influence on my life. In fact, the majority of my role-models are part of the Community, and every day, they continue to inspire me, and as a queer person myself, they've helped me feel more confident in my own skin. Here are my top three LGBT* people on my large list of role-models: 


RuPaul never ceases to amaze me. They are one of the most outgoing people I've seen, they honestly don't give a care in the world; I envy their confidence. The one thing about RuPaul that inspires me the most is the fact that they're proud of what they're doing, especially with their music and TV show. From seeing RuPaul on their TV show, it's really given me an insight that everyone is unique and different in their own ways.  
Ellen has always been a role-model to me because I've connected with her on some levels, and on others, I aspire to become. I've grown up to Ellen, and she is, in my opinion, one of the most kind-hearted person in the world. Her energy is so uplifting, and it's incredibly motivating.

Lily Madigan

Lily is a transgender teen who was sent home from her school for wearing the girls' uniform. Her school told Lily that she would have to wear the boys' uniform instead. Lily wasn't happy with this, and she started up a petition in her school, and drafted a letter to her head teacher. Eventually, Lily was able to wear the uniform that she wished, and everyone, teachers and students, began to call her by her preferred gender pronouns. Lily's courage demonstrated throughout all of this has proven to me that if I want to go for something, I shouldn't give up - much like how Lily didn't with the uniform policy. 

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Friday, 31 March 2017

What Makes Me, Me - Kate

Like most people, as soon as I'm asked what makes me, me, my mind goes blank. I forget all my habits, qualities and quirks. It's like that horrible job interview where you're asked to stand up, introduce yourself to the rest of the group, and tell them an interesting fact about yourself. Suddenly, I'm a boring, empty canvas. I can't recall my favourite place, a phrase I say too often, or why I crush egg shells before I throw them away – (EDIT: it's a super cool superstition – Google it).

For a while, I stared at my blank screen, desperate for anything to say. A few things eventually did come to mind.
  • I overthink everything (proven by this blog post)
  • I look like a frug – frog x pug
  • I care too much about what people think
  • My feet are odd – some say deformed, I like to say further evolved
  • I trust too easily and love too hard
  • I really need to stop talking in that strange goblinesque accent to everyone but my dog
The list went on, and reading back over it, I realised that every bullet point was self-depreciating. Even my (attempt at) wit couldn't disguise that. Society has raised young women to feel uncomfortable with every aspect of their being – their opinions, their bodies, their intelligence, their sense of humour, their appearance, their sexuality...

Too often, we, as young women, are told what is wrong with us. Not what is right with us.

It's become such an epidemic that I, like many others, feel uncomfortable verbalising what we like about ourselves. It's much easier (and more socially acceptable) to list our flaws and pitfalls when asked to define what makes us unique.

Despite this realisation, I still didn't really know how to answer that simple question – what makes me, me? I reached out to my closest friends to see what they thought, after all, they know me better than I know myself. They see through my deflective wit, barrel through my walls, and make me laugh until my crudely applied eyeliner is no more.

This is what they had to say...

Marriam – cat lady / expert colour coordinator:
'Kate is my travelling partner in crime. Her retreating back is a regular feature in my photos of historical monuments, usually because she's grown bored of waiting for me to absorb every little detail. We've spent a lot of time together since she cornered me before a uni lecture on Renaissance literature, so I know a few of her tics and habits. She rubs her hands together like a fly when nervous. 'Mhm' usually means she's stopped listening. She likes her toast burnt and cold, and obsessively brushes her teeth. She also always has to sit in the seat with the best 'feng shui' at a restaurant or coffee shop.'

Jaz – 60's throwback / hater of orcs and dragons
'Kate is on WhatsApp around the clock, which is great when I need her advice or to send her memes. She underestimates herself, but she's a brilliant writer, and an even better friend. She's quick-witted and intelligent, and she makes amazing cakes (which I will hopefully be rewarded with for writing this testimony!)'

Ruth – football fanatic/ despiser of food with flavour
'The most prominent quality that springs to mind is Kate's attention to detail, whether it be in conversation or just general observations in day to day life. She often uses this to comfort a friend, or to do the complete opposite, and spin a wild tale that inevitably becomes a ridiculous story and treasured in-joke.'

So, hello Safe Space. I'm Kate & I can confirm that no friends were harmed in the making of this blog post.  I'm a twenty four year old Cancerian, who is part frog, part pug, part fly, it seems. I'm a YA junkie who moonlights as a Commissioning Editor. I eat ketchup with everything, have watched Dexter a grand total of eleven times, and dream of crushing patriarchy. Pleased to meet you.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Deadlines and Disappointment

So I’ve nearly gone two months again without posting – I’m sorry for that. Between assignment deadlines and a stint of work the last month has been pretty stressful and it’s not letting me off yet either. My next deadline is tomorrow but luckily when you’re reading this I have already submitted my piece. I did spend a good deal of last week pissing about *not* working on it because I’m scared of my story. Which was really stupid of me because my last assignment deadline was an insane scramble at the last minute so I shouldn’t want to do the same thing twice in one month.

My last deadline turned into three-day period of frantic drafting and eye-bleedingly brutal editing so I could get my short story submitted only five minutes before the end of the “12hr grace period” which I have exploited far too frequently in my OU career. It wasn’t meant to go like that. I had a plan to get a first draft of the story done in mid-Feb, so I could tell myself the story without caring about the word count. Then over the next 2-3 weeks before my deadline I could work on revising the story until it was within the 2,500-2750 word limit that this assignment called for, and get it submitted early – all chill and relaxed y’know?

But that plan got shot to shit when my mother asked me if I could do some cover work for her company – for two weeks out of the three before my deadline. At that point I was dangerously close to having absolutely no money in any of my accounts so I couldn’t not say yes and that’s without my unwillingness to disappoint my mother. I thought that I could manage working full-time for two weeks and still get my writing done – I mean I wrote around 50K in the first part of 2014 while I was working full-time as a TA *and* doing two different study courses at the same time so surely I could manage a couple of thousand words over two weeks??

Turns out I couldn’t. Despite barely being busy for about half of the time I was working as Reception Cover I only got about 900 words written over those two weeks. I emailed myself the word document back and forth so I could work on it during quiet times at the office – I had periods of several hours where the phone wouldn’t ring and I had nothing else to do but I just couldn’t get myself into a good writing flow to churn out a draft of the story. Then when I got home my brain checked out and I wasted the rest of my day catching up on all the internet stuff that I couldn’t access at work.

So I ended up have only three days to somehow clobber out the rest of this short story then rein it back to within the TMA word limit as well as writing a commentary about my creative process that sounded like I had actually bothered to use the module’s textbook as anything more than an oversized paperweight. By the night before my deadline I had a complete draft of the story that I really liked – it was unfortunately 4,000 words too long.

Now obviously I was tad worried that I wouldn’t be able to get the draft edited down to the right size in time without completely rewriting it, yet I didn’t email my tutor to ask for an extension. Why? Because I hated feeling like I’d failed and that I needed to ask for more time. I should have been able to get the assignment done well ahead of my deadline so I was basically punishing myself for not meeting the goal that I’d arbitrarily set.

As I mentioned above I did manage to get my story edited and submitted in time but there has been a particularly frustrating development to this tale which I never expected when I started writing this post. I should have got my mark back in 10 working days, so by the 23rd at the latest, yet I’d still got nothing on Monday. Until I got an email from my tutor at 11 o’clock at *night* as I was about to go to bed, that sparked such rage I didn’t get to sleep for another 2 & a half hours.

It turns out that my tutor managed to misplace my story on her own computer drive and thought she didn’t have it for over two weeks! It only occurred to her on MONDAY THE 27th to email me to ask where it was despite not having any contact from me telling her my submission would be late (cos you know that would be standard academic practice to INFORM SOMEONE ABOUT A DELAY). Needless to say my email back to her strongly expressed my distinct displeasure with remarkably no expletives.

The most hilariously ironic part of all of this is that when I got my mark back yesterday afternoon, it has somehow transpired that this short story - which was the most difficult to complete out of all the assignments I’ve done this year – has ended up with the best mark. It is the *only* TMA that I’ve got a First on from either of my Level 3 modules. What the fuck do I even *do* with that? I mean seriously?

I’ve spent the last two weeks worried as hell that my tutor was going to hate my story and that, despite the glowing endorsements from my wonderful friends who read it while I was frantically hacking it shorter, that it was actually shit. I’m honestly not sure if this mark is validation I actually deserve.

Is it strange that I still feel like I’m a disappointment by having fluked a great mark *yet again* when the majority of my effort only came at the last possible moment and even then I feel like it wasn’t the most I could’ve put into it?

At least I only have one deadline left then if all things go like I hope, this degree I’ve been dragging myself towards for the last 8 years will finally be done. Thank gawd.

Monday, 27 March 2017

What Makes Me, Me - Charlotte

You can try and change who you are millions of times, but you're always going to be you.

During my teenage years I was able to express myself the way I wanted to. Lucky, really. Towards the end, though, I didn't want to be that person anymore.

Quite a few years ago, I took my entire comic book collection and shoved it in the bin. Goodbye Batman, won't be needing you again. Changing who I was seemed to be the only way I could escape the person I didn't want to be associated with. Myself. Running away was obviously the best tatic.

Step one: Dye your hair.

Step two: Get new clothes that aren't a pacman hoody and bright coloured jeans.

Step three: Do I need a new personality?

I started to grow up and become an entirely different person. However, lurking underneath was always the 'old' Charlotte. She always shone through. No matter how hard I tried to hide her, she was always, always going to be there.

Maybe I wanted her there really. Maybe I just needed to accept who I was. My past is part of me and I shouldn't hide away from it. I should say "I've survived this far and I can go a hell of a lot further". Charlotte Postings is a woman who has become independent and strong. I like reading comics, being at home having bunny cuddles, binge watching my Netflix favourites(Peep Show I'm looking at you), Harry Potter movie marathons and hugs. I'm a complicated mixture of mental health issues and too many cups of tea.

Defining who I am is one of the hardest things. I'm not really sure who I am or who I'm going to become, but I'll always honour the person I've been and currently am. Sometimes it's hard to be proud of the person I've become. Like, really hard. Then I sit back and look at all the things i've faced and all the things I've achieved. I've stopped comparing my beginning to other peoples middles and started living MY life. I am a person who needs to realise her self worth because I know i'm capable of a lot more than I think I am.

What makes me, me, is my past. Instead of trying to leave it behind, I let it be there as a reminder that I can overcome difficulties and grow into a person I have come to love. Yes, okay, so some days I wish I was more successful and doing better at this life game, but I'm trying my hardest and that's what counts. Everything in my past is what made me the person I am today. All the funny memories and heartache and interests and friends. I wouldn't be the person I am now if I hadn't of gone through what I've been through. Good and bad. If I didn't have my past, what stories would I have to tell?


Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mother's Day Without Mum

Today is the seventh mother’s day I’ll be spending without my mum. For me, it’s arguably the worst day of the year. Days like the anniversary and her birthday are difficult but they’re private. Nobody outside of my family takes notice or even knows. I can usually be a bit sad, grieve in private, and get on with my day.

Mother’s Day on the other hand is a massive kick in the gut. And it’s not like it’s just one day either. As soon as Valentine’s Day ends, shops change overnight to their mother’s day stock. Every year I am caught off guard, and there have been several years I’ve come home crying because it’s everywhere. A constant reminder of what I don’t have. ‘Treat your mum this mother’s day!’ about 10 different shops have in their window within 100 metres. Except I can’t.

Some years I struggle fairly overtly. I’ll cry a lot, I’ll actively avoid any and all conversations about the topic. I’ll pretend it doesn’t happen and stay off social media a lot around the day, because seeing everyone’s Instagram and Facebook posts is just too damn hard. This year hasn’t been so bad – I think it’s partly because I no longer have to go through a shopping centre every day and so I just haven’t had the opportunity to be bombarded as much. Living in halls at University, I don’t have a TV and so I don’t have to watch advert after advert going on about it. But it’s affected me nonetheless.

I was doing fairly well with my anxiety, it had been months since I’d had a major panic attack. And then about three weeks ago I had a terrifying panic attack, and since I’ve been far more anxious than I normally am. Last week I was sick, which was partially due to the stress of imminent deadlines and living in a building with 60 other people, but I also think it was partially due to being stressed about Mother’s Day.

I know I’m very lucky to still have many maternal figures in my life. My stepmum is great most of the time – she’s friendly and looks out for me without trying to be my mum. And I still have both of my grandmothers, although my relationship with my maternal grandmother has always been slightly stilted.

I’m not sure how this Mother’s Day will be for me. I was luckily able to visit Mum’s grave on Friday and lay some flowers there with my brother and dad which made me feel a lot better, getting to spend a little time with her in my own way. The main thing I’ve learned to try and do is just let myself feel my emotions and not bury them – that’s not helpful at all. And maybe staying off Facebook and Instagram for the sake of my mental health.

Mother’s Day is always tricky, but I’m hoping that it will be okay. And I hope that whether your mum is still with you or not that you have a lovely day wherever you are.