Thursday, 8 March 2018

To my sister on International Women's Day.

When people who don’t know us say we look alike, some have even said like twins, I laugh. I laugh because we could not be more different. 

Recently I screamed in your face, and you screamed in mine and we said we hated each other. We’ve done it before, and no doubt we’ll do it again, but that particular time was pretty bad and I am still ashamed of how I behaved.

You are the one person in the world who has said the most deeply hurtful things to me and meant it. I only know you meant it, and it only hurt so much, because what you said has always been a little bit true.

More recently than the day we screamed at each other and Mum had to apologise to our neighbour for the noise we had one of the most perfect days of my life. We got up early and I drove us to Stratford upon Avon and we queued to get cheap tickets to the theatre and we did things that you liked, and things that I liked, and I felt so blissful and so happy just to be spending such perfect time with you. 

This was exactly three days after I said, or rather shouted, the words “I don’t like anything about you”. I really, really, really didn’t mean that. 

Sometimes I worry because I see you growing up and becoming a woman and taking a different path to me. And I worry because I have no control over that path and I don’t know where it leads which is silly because I have no control over mine or where I’m going, really. 

Sometimes I worry because I watch you undervalue yourself over and over again and I don’t know how to stop that. I don’t know how I will stop you invalidating your worth with men who don’t know it. I don’t know how to teach you that even though you are brilliant you are going to have to work hard at absolutely everything. I don’t know how to tell you that if you want something you go and get it but that means hurting and that means fear and that means rejection. 

But I also know that you do know all these things, and even if you don’t yet you will learn them and you will learn them without me. 

I know that you have the ability to speak your mind and stand your corner as loudly and as clearly as I do. I know that you do not fear judgement and even when you do you look past it. You look past it better than I do sometimes.

To finish my open letter to you on International Women's Day 2018 I wish to say this. Your worth as a woman will be counted in many ways throughout your life and not all of them will be your choice. You will have to find the strength to undermine the ways in which society will try to determine your value. And you will have to find the strength to be angry - really angry - and to use that anger positively. You must use your strength to help other women at all times and you must use your strength to forgive. 

Finally, I want you to know that I love you and that I am proud of you and that you are one of the strongest, most brilliant women that I know. 

Monday, 26 February 2018

Big, fat, open wound.

I have a big, glaring problem with loneliness. I hate it. I think that I shouldn't have to go through it, that no one else is experiencing it. I think that men should just fall in love with me and when they don't, repeatedly, I feel disgustingly, horribly, painfully alone. I feel alone in the experience, I feel alone for not 'having someone', I feel alone for not being doted on.

And I let this loneliness, or this deep fear whose origins I can't quite put my finger on, swim up around my heart and my head. I let it clench my chest like a belt pulling tighter and tighter. I let it make me cry enormous quantities of tears. I let it overwhelm my thoughts with this stupid idea that by not 'having someone', whoever that someone is meant to be, I am devalued. I am embarrassing, and awkward, and I think that being nearly 20 and a half and single is something to be quite deeply ashamed of.

I have this idea of what it is I am missing out on, what I think literally everyone else on the planet is experiencing. I have this idea but I don't actually know what it is.

There's this huge open wound that I have neglected and I keep thinking that someone else is going to come and fix it and heal it but they're not. They can't. It is my wound and 'having someone' is only going to make it worse.

Sometimes I feel like people in relationships have done something right and I haven't. Like they've been rewarded with an entire person for themselves. Like they must be happier than me, and less lonely. Sometimes I actually think that even if I go through a relationship that is not equal and in love and playing out its natural lifetime that as long as it lasted more than a month or two I will have gained something. I won't be so ashamed. I won't feel so lonely.

With these thoughts I not only devalue myself but every relationship I have ever had and still have. I mean flings and heartbreaks, and I mean family and friendships. I devalue every connection with another human being; everything they felt for me whether it was romantic or platonic love, admiration or desire.

I am writing this because I am so angry. I am so angry that I feel like this, that I keep this thought going round and round in my head to the point where it just becomes "I hate you, and you do not deserve love.". I am writing this and making it public because I need to expel this dark, negative, corrosive feeling. I need to get up and look directly into the heart of my own weakness, that big open wound, and I need to let it heal.

I need to stand alone. Away from other people's lives that I keep comparing my own to, away from social ideals I think I should have conformed to or achieved by now. And I need to say, over and over again, "I love you, and you are loved, and you can only ever be loved more not less."

Thursday, 15 February 2018

I'll be okay.

On Tuesday night I went back through old blog posts, mostly from the past year. I forgot that I would find it a difficult process, that it would upset me, but I carried on with it anyway.

It's an odd thing to revisit feelings you publicly articulated in a way that was not too personal but personal enough. Reading some of the posts made me sad because I had been sad for a large part of last year. I noticed patterns in my writing such as always telling the reader, but mostly myself, that it was all going to be okay in the concluding paragraph. I knew that I was writing those posts, exposing such a deep and unsettling emotion, because I was going to be okay.

I felt so sad re-reading my own writing because I felt so far away from the girl saying all those things. It's a good thing that I no longer resonate with that feeling, that it has become something distant, but I forgot how lost I was. I had an overwhelming desire to tell this girl, who had written all these sad things, that she really definitely was going to be okay. It would not last as long as she thought it would (it felt like it would never end), and it would not get the better of her.

In wanting to reach back to myself and show her how I feel now I know that I will never be her again. I know that I will feel sad, deeply and painfully sad, and maybe I'll write about it here, but I will never feel so trapped and so endlessly low.

Because it ends, I know that it ends. And I can come back here, to this place where I'm sharing a lot of the things going round in my head, and I can remind myself that I did it, that I'll do it again, that it won't last. And that I'll be okay.

Thursday, 8 February 2018


I didn’t delete blog posts until recently. In fact, I’ve only done it once. Most of the time I am quite comfortable with writing something very personal and posting it on the Internet. If it’s something I’d be happy telling a person I’ve just met I know that I’ll be happy sharing it with whoever cares. But there is a line, it’s a deeply personal line in my head, and I know that I’ve crossed it when I keep cringing as if I’ve told someone an embarrassing secret. Not just someone, anyone with a WiFi connection. 

I think a lot about whether I share too much on my blog. I pride myself on always being my authentic self but I sometimes wonder if by constantly publicly writing about it I lose a bit of it to a virtual space. Or to people who aren’t listening. Because I am wanting people to listen.

Does it matter who you are saying something to or is it just the fact that you are saying it at all that counts? 

I guess it all just comes down to existing. To wanting to prove that you existed as much as you can. To leave footprints with words and feelings on the people you encounter, and expanding it out to people you never will. Do those people really care? Will they really remember? 

I think of people I look up to whom I will never meet because they are too famous or too famous and dead and I think of the impact they have made on me. I have pictures of Audrey Hepburn all over my room, and I declared an undying love for Regina Spektor at the age of 12 which is yet to die out. And they have shaped me, in small ways, and they have influenced how I think or behave or look. I was never alive at the same time as Audrey Hepburn but whatever she left behind still reached me, I still benefit from what she did with her life. 

I think about books I’ve read when I’ve felt scared or sad or lonely, or films that have helped me escape, or music I’ve felt inspired by and I realise that even if I never meet or know the person or people behind those things they still reached me. They still made an impact. They still made me feel less alone, less fearful, less weird. 

If I can do that on a much smaller scale, help someone, make someone think, then I know that my oversharing is worth it. I know that my being completely honest and open is good for me and maybe for someone else. And maybe I won’t just fade, and someone will know that I existed. 

Thursday, 1 February 2018


Last night I found myself standing on a stage in front of about 100 people completely butchering my lines. No one really noticed apart from the director and my cast members, and even then they weren't sure because, God knows how, I kept in character.

I only realised that I was getting things really wrong when I looked up at my poor cast-mate's embarrassed face as I repeated words twice and didn't make any sense. She has countless more lines to remember than I do and never butchers them, I had one monologue and was messing it up.

I knew immediately that I had let myself down through lack of focus. I had let myself go into autopilot and forgotten to be in the moment. I could have told you it was going to happen before I got on stage when I was silently panicking that the emotion I had brought to focus the night before wasn't there. And I could have done a lot more to stop my mind from wandering but I got so caught up in feeling scared and believing, before it had happened, that I was going to mess up my performance that I did.

I keep doing that a lot in various parts of my life recently. Believing that I can't do something and subsequently not being able to do it. Paradoxically I know that I can do whatever it is I'm trying to do, and that I have the potential to do it really well, but it's almost like I self-sabotage as if to prove myself right, or wrong, depending which way you look at it. Perhaps I do this as an excuse not to do things that scare me, or in an attempt to avoid failure. Perhaps I'm just being a coward. Perhaps I just need to stop pretending that I don't believe in myself.

Saturday, 13 January 2018


I still cry every time my parents leave me at university. As if it's something that never happened before, as if I don't relax into my other life after they've gone. Me and Mum cling to each other right before she leaves because it's hard for us both. I get caught between wanting to watch them walk away down the long corridor or hiding in my room to make the experience go faster. It is always at this point that I cry.

I'm not entirely sure when being an adult and living independently is going to stop being a bit lonely and a bit terrifying because it certainly isn't easy. I keep feeling quite a paralysing fear that I've started doing it all wrong. I haven't been brave enough, I keep... feeling scared. The feeling of wanting to hide and escape means that sometimes things don't get done. I don't write because I'm terrified of it, and I find more comfort in watching a film with the family or doing every single bloody thing to avoid the feeling of dread at an empty page.

I cry when my parents leave me because it is my comfort shrinking to the far end of the corridor, down the stairs, into the car and onto the M11. I have to be big and grown up and walk briskly towards an unknown, exciting, frightening future. I have to be brave. I can be brave.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018


I realised, about a year or two ago perhaps, that I was transphobic. I realised that I had let other people's prejudices influence my own because it suited my world view at the time and I did not understand what being transgender really meant. But I never voiced my prejudice, thank God, because I knew deep down that I was wrong.

My previous transphobic views were made known to me when I started watching the series Transparent on Amazon Prime. Suddenly I had access to a positive narrative about a transgender woman who after an entire life of living as a man with a wife and family made a decision to transition to what she always had been. An earlier recognition of my flawed understanding of gender came from  Laverne Cox's role in Orange is the New Black but I still lacked sympathy or proper acknowledgement of the validity of being transgender. 

I am ashamed to admit that my conscious transphobia was influenced by radical feminists and Second Wave feminists some of whom believed that transgender women were not real women and were just men in disguise here to take our roles and rights all over again. Okay so a white woman who can present as a man can still take advantage of white male privilege but that really, really isn't the point. To argue that transgender issues are not a part of feminism, a movement which endeavours to provide equality for all women, is, I realise now, wrong and absurd. 

I think that some feminists and women are afraid of the concept of transgender because it challenges what it means to be a woman. It's not just having a vagina that qualifies you for womanhood. I think that feminists fear that the attention will be taken away from reproductive rights, which are so important to women and to their womanhood, including mine, and that part of themselves will be diminished. But transgender women do not make the struggles of being a woman disappear. It is a different type of womanhood, and who are we to say that is wrong?

In fact what learning more about what it means to be transgender or non-binary through art, writing or otherwise, has taught me is that my own gender has been confined to a box and I am now understanding more about what it means to be me. I have learnt that I am more feminine than I am masculine and that I should celebrate my femininity because society is always trying to disempower it. I have learnt that my female body is important to me and my womanhood, but that it does not define it. I have learnt that I know that I am a woman simply because I just do, and I don't need to know the reason why, it is just instinct. I have learnt that I know nothing about what it means to be transgender and I am trying to understand it more everyday. 

I've realised that I was completely wrong, and I am very sorry for that, but I am also very grateful to be able to love and feel empathy for more people in this world than I did before.