Archive for August, 2012

Love the Journey (To Amy)

I am moving out of my parents’ house in just nine days. My parents have put a roof over my head for twenty one and a half years and now I’m flying the nest. It is exciting and scary and makes me feel all like a big proper grown-up which, doing a degree where I play dress-up and pretend to be fictional people, is not something I’m too-used to feeling.

Last year I lived in my university’s halls of residence. It didn’t feel permanent. It felt like a nice break where I got to pretend to be all big and independent. This feels real. My life is changing, everything I have learned and done and loved and known has happened in a life spent at home. Now it’s different. Sure, I’ll visit. But I will never truly live in this house again (not unless I end up with no job, no money, and give up all pride).

I have a little sister. Amy. I say little, she’d only months shy of eighteen and it’s really hit me this summer that the image I have in my head – that of a slightly startled twelve year old girl – is very out of date. I think back three years, to entering my second year at college, just where Amy is now, and I can remember only too-well how scared and fragile I felt.

I was surrounded by people telling me I MUST make decisions, that I HAD to plan for the future, and that FAILURE to do so would result in my life not being as great as it could do so now, three years older and not a lot wiser, I just want to take a second to tell my sister, and her friends, and everybody in that situation (and, when they invent time travel, my seventeen year old self) that it is all absolute and utter undeniable wank.

Do you know what happens to people who don’t know what they want from life at seventeen?

Absolutely fuck-all. That’s what.

People can go through their entire life not knowing exactly what they want or where they want to be and they can have the best time, meet the best people, learn more than anyone, and love stronger than other people.

I use my parents as examples; my mother went to teaching to college, worked as a teacher, then decided it wasn’t for her. She now does something that (I think) makes her happy and it is something that leaves her with just about enough time to devote herself to the Oldies Club; a charity she helped found that gives new homes to older dogs. Whilst it doesn’t always make her happy because sometimes things in the dog-world can be unbearably sad, she is so devoted to what she does and she seems to love it with all her heart.

My dad left home and school in quick succession as a teenager. Bopped from job to job. Learned to play the guitar, worked in a yoghurt factory, became a photographer, worked in a mental health hospital, in a school, wrote several musicals, a nativity and then moved on to work with people with special needs. He seems happy. Often stressed, often over-worked. But he does something that lets him do the things he loves.

If you have a plan, then great. Follow it with all your heart. Do whatever it takes to get to where you think you need to be to be happier. But if you don’t know where it is you want to end up, then just keep going, because the only important thing is that you do something. Doesn’t matter what it is. Try anything and everything, because that’s the only way to decide what you like and what you don’t. Never be idyll and never be bored, but never think that one step forwards is the same as landing you on a path you can’t go back on.

It sounds obvious, even clichéd, but it something we could all do with reminding ourselves of every now and then because people can get so hung-up on the final destination that they miss all of the amazing stuff that happens to them on the way there.

So, Amy, whilst you are being told you HAVE to make a decision regarding your future, maybe try asking the people telling you this what they wanted to do at seventeen. Because the answer probably won’t be “I wanted to tell young adults that their lives depend upon the decisions they make today”.

Happy Esther Day…

Esther Day always reminds me to look with distance in order to see with perspective.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Esther Day, or Esthertines, is a celebration of the Birthday of a little girl called Esther Grace Earl. Today she would have been 18 years old. ‘A real adult’, as John Green said. She died. It was very sad. It was a while ago but it is still very sad and I think that it’s only human that we are still very angry about it both within and without the little internet-dwelling community of which she was a part.

But Esther did something to counteract this anger; the bitterness her death caused with the simple unfairness of it all. When given the opportunity by Hank and John, the Vlogbrothers, to have her birthday celebrated for as long as they were making videos she could have made Nerdfighters around the world spend this day wearing trousers on their heads or pretending to be trees or whatever. She chose something which, even at sixteen, I think shows her wisdom. She chose to make this a day when everyone had to vocalise their love. I think that maybe she knew it would be easier to dwell on the negative feelings evoked by her death and forget to do this sometimes, but then I could be very wrong and I don’t presume to talk for her.

So…

To mum and dad and my little sister Amy…

To the people who have come into my life this year…

To the people who have left it…

To the people who have been there my whole life…

To the Nerdfighter community…

To Esther, her family, and her memory…

To the people who follow me on twitter…

To the people I forgot to smile at this week…

To the fandoms I have found a place in…

To the people on the internet who use it for support and not trolling…

To the people who don’t understand the power of the internet…

To the people I have hurt…

To the people who have hurt me…

To the people who will think this post is lame and a waste of time…

I love you.

 

And sometimes I am crap at saying it or, worse, sometimes I forget to show it. Sometimes I am cranky and angry or sad and self-involved and I completely forget how small I am.

This year has been quite hard for me. I’ve had to make a lot of new friends (not something I’m very good at) and say goodbye to someone who, until very recently, meant the whole world to me, which was painful and upsetting and still feels like a fresh wound. It has been a difficult year of difficult adjustments. It has taught me a lot, and some of those things were hard to learn and all of this worry and angst has wrapped me up in my own head quite a lot and I have failed to take into account the people who are still around, the people who love me and who deserve to be acknowledged as having such a huge place in my heart.

Esther Day reminds me that being small does not make you insignificant. It should just make you grateful that you are important enough to have people in your life who love you, whom you can love in return.

 

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Support the This Star Won’t Go Out foundation by buying Esther bracelets [here] or find out a little more about who she was and what she meant [here].