Author: Genuinelyellie

Stay young

I am terrified of growing up; I don’t want to work 8 hours a day, pay bills, clean a house or iron my clothes! I don’t want to be weighed down by responsibilities, or have to stress about adult-y things.

However, the day will come where I will have to face these concerns, but I want to do so with the promise to always stay young from within.

I may get wrinkles on my face, shakes in my hands and clouds over my mind, but surely my heart will remain unchanged. Today, I vow to myself to never let the things that make me happy go. I vow to myself to never hold back due to fears of looking foolish, or use the phrase ‘do you think I’m too old for that?’

Because if you think the answer to the above question is yes, that means you should definitely go for it.

At the age of 17, I have just spent a day at a farm that I often visited with my mum as a child. I remember the drill: Get the animal food from the counter, feed the animals but remember to wash your hands afterwards, have a picnic on the grass for lunch and end the day in the indoor play area. I remember the sheer joy of days like this in the past, when the animals seemed so big compared to little me.

On my way there today, I was slightly worried that it would be anticlimactic. I was worried that it would ruin my views of the place, because it wouldn’t seem as wild or extravagant as it did when I was a kid.

Well guess what?

It 100% lived up to little me’s expectations.

My friends and I had the picnic (just as I would with my family many years ago), and we even managed to go in the play area despite being too old; finally a benefit of being tiny for my age! The drop slide admittedly still scared me a little, and I felt that old-time adrenaline rush of just running around for the sake of it. Why does it stop being socially acceptable to do this kind of thing when you grow up?

Socially acceptable or not, I think it would be stupid not to relive some things that you loved in the past; even just to rekindle old memories.

I can’t wait until one day I have my own children whom I can share these experiences with. But until then? I will just keep re-living them.

 

To dream or not to dream?

When it comes to dreams, there tends to be a lot of conflict.

Surely I am not the only one to notice the contrast between two very common phrases: ‘Dream big’ and ‘Do not have dreams. Have plans.’

So… to dream or not to dream?

In my opinion, dreams are essential. However, so are plans. In fact, I think the two go hand in hand.

We need dreams in order to keep that sense of hope alive- that ‘what if?’ and that strive to achieve. Constantly in the back of my mind are various dreams of a book I have written in print: Crisp pages and carefully crafted covers. Dreams of mansions and holidays, weddings and children.

If we talk literally, dreams are a figment of our imagination. They are something we ignite at night, when in reality we are lying in bed, unconscious and achieving nothing. So when talking of dreams, are we admitting to ourselves that these are things that will never be true?

Not necessarily.

To make a dream a reality, we need a plan. Dreams are dreams for a reason- they are large, fanciful and out of our grasp when initially imagined! Therefore, dreams are not things that will be handed to us on a plate (unfortunately).

For example, to achieve my dream of having a book published I need to make a plan which includes the writing of the book, as well as the editing and marketing of it to publishers. I appreciate that this dream is a long way off, and it will never become a reality unless I make it one.

I am only 17 but I know that I had dreams as a young child which I never ended up living- these being dreams which I have no desire to live now. Isn’t it crazy to think of how different our lives would be if we lived each dream we conjured up, rather than letting it pass us by?

I mean, I’d be a singer, dancer, actress, author, multi-millionaire and have wings by now.

Shockingly, this is not the case!

I truly believe that without dreams, we are not living (the irony!), however we really need to make the connection between a dream and a plan in order to achieve.

When you make a plan with your friends, you follow it through. Why? Because you made a commitment to the friend, the details were set, and you had no reason to back out.

Why is it so different with personal ambitions? It doesn’t need to be.

Make a commitment to yourself, your goals and your dreams, and then just wait to see the results.

 

A message about materialism

Before going to bed last night, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I realised that my routine was becoming too much of a routine, to the point that I wasn’t trying anything new anymore. So, I promised myself that from then on, I would wake up excited for each day and the new obstacles or adventures it may hold.

The next morning (ready for the first exciting day of the exciting new me) I sat in mushed avocado, smashed my laptop and dropped my phone down the toilet. It is clear to say that I faced more obstacles today than adventures!

At first I was devastated at the loss of my two most expensive possessions. This was especially because it wasn’t me who broke the laptop (it was someone in a lower year who ran off without even apologising). However, after the initial anger, I realised that these are material things. I might not have a fully working laptop or phone, but atleast I have my health.

I am a STRONG believer in everything happening for a reason. Lately I’ve been feeling the strain of technology, and noticing its negative effects in myself. For example, after failing my driving test, seeing a photo of someone else’s pass certificate was not helpful.

At all.

Instead of thinking of today’s events as a disaster, I want to think of it as the universe sending me a message (the hard way), and teaching me that I do not need my electronic devices in order to be happy. In fact, i’m excited to start living a life where I am not a puppet to social media, and to break the strings it has hanging over my head.

Materialism is an easy trap to fall into. Having nice things is great, but only temporarily. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the way you approach life and nurture your relationships.

So yes, maybe I will face more obstacles than adventures at times. But will this knock me down? No. The key thing to remember is;

It is not what life throws at you that defines you; it is the way in which you deal with these things. 

Surviving Seventeen

Are you 17, or going to be? Do you have a child who is 17, but can’t recall those days yourself? Here, I present you: 17 things to know about being 17. 

#1: If you can, get a job!

jobs

At this age, you juggle a lot: Schoolwork, socialising, planning the future… and believe it or not, finances come in to play. (Especially if the 17 year old drives/is learning to drive). I have two jobs- one as a sales assistant at Homesense, and one as a tutor- and I wouldn’t survive without them.  Like most teenagers, I get financial support from my parents, but without my jobs I would have no CLUE about budgeting. And, like most teenagers, I love to spend. Having a job enables me to do this (without sending my parents into utter debt) whilst still saving for things like university too. I can’t express how much more the worth of money is appreciated once you start earning for yourself. This is all without mentioning the social skills I have earned from working; I dread to think how shy I would be otherwise.

(Also, if juggling schoolwork with paid work is your biggest concern, then GREAT! You get to gain valuable time management skills too- yippee!)

#2: You’re legally allowed in front of the wheel…

To drive or not to drive? That is the question.

l plates

When I turned 17, I quite literally attacked the idea of being a driver. Within two months I had bought a car (Again, get a job!) and am currently learning. I don’t regret starting to learn so soon, but your bank account really feels the impact. I want to warn fellow 17 year olds that when you buy a car, you don’t just ‘buy a car’. You buy road tax, insurance (which is ridiculously high for youth like you and I), a tonne of petrol, a lot of driving lessons and fees for your theory and practical test. Basically, you spend more than you’re even worth. (I kid, of course.)

On the bright side, you get to drive! And, you prevent the myth of ‘as you get older, you get more scared to learn’ from coming true.

#3: A-levels, A-levels, A-levels

Must I say more? A-levels gradually become your life, and you gradually lose the will to live. But hark! I hear it gets better. Meet your deadlines, revise hard, and remember: Sixth form is only 2 years of your life.a levels

#4: The university hunt begins

If you’re stressing about this, you’re not the only one. The last stage of your education (if you choose to go to university), your first true experience of independence, and most of all: your new home for 3-5 years! Having not gone through the uni experience yet, I have little advice to offer- I guess we are all in the same boat. But, I think a key point is to visit the unis you are interested in! Websites can be deceiving.

#5: You start to see true colours

I’ve found that it’s certainly true that with age and educational stress, the claws start to come out. Steering clear of drama is always wise, and being careful with who you trust is essential! (Not to make you all paranoid humans who can’t trust or anything.) You find that some friends aren’t the same people you first became friends with, but that’s something you need to accept. Afterall: Everyone’s true colours come out eventually.

#6: Procrastination becomes your new best friend

Procrastination is the only enemy you want to make. Get rid of it; fast.

#7: People like to party

party

17. That awkward age where you aren’t old enough to go out and drink, but it becomes Year 12’s biggest craze. House parties become very common, and are a good way to socialise. And whilst it’s okay to get the drinking out of your system, steer clear of drugs. Not cool.

#8: The battle of optimism and realism begins

Do you play safe, and aim for the realistic career aspiration? Or, do you dive in for that dream job that so few achieve? I think balance between optimism and realism is so important. Obviously, if you’re predicted all U’s, then don’t be applying to Oxford or Cambridge. But, a stab in the dark is good too. All great things need a bit of risk!

#9: Smile; you’ll have wrinkles one day anyway

smile

I find it easy to fall into a trap of thinking my world has ended when one small thing doesn’t go my way. Relatable? In reality, we will be facing much more difficult challenges in the future. And if that’s what you’re worried about, then stop this instant! I’ve learnt that worrying doesn’t change anything. Live in the present, smile, laugh, and cross bridges when you come to them.

#10: Hormones go c-r-a-z-y

Laughing one minute? Crying the next? Aren’t we all! Some things we can’t control, so let your body do its thing.

#11: (Listen up parents!) Be controlled by no-one

All parents want the best for their children. And sometimes, that means they feel the urge to nudge their children in the ‘right’ direction. Unfortunately, it’s not your parents living your life; you are. Parents and siblings etc are great resources, but do what’s right for you. 

#12: Try new things, pursue new hobbies, go new places

Do you remember when you were a child and everything just seemed so much more magical? Well, we are getting older by the day and need to utilise what magic is left. If we don’t try things now, will we ever? Past experiences inspire future ones, right? So surely, the more experiences you have now, the better your future will be.

#13: Teach yourself the skills that aren’t taught in school

tax

Try to learn to cook, especially if you’re going to be a uni student. Try to get your head round taxes and adulty things like that. (Side tip: If you get a job, look out for if you’re emergency taxed. If you are, claim it back asap!) Even things like people skills aren’t taught, but are essential for your success more often than not. Use your initiative and learn- you won’t be spoon fed forever.

#14: You aren’t classed as a child for many things now…

Just remember to tone down the makeup or hair gel if you want cheaper cinema tickets.

#15: Social media is a huge influence on your life

Most of us are scrolling using facebook, instagram, snapchat and twitter almost constantly. Telling you to stop would be hypocritical (because I too use social media a lot). However, try to remember the advantages of social media (looking for opportunities) as well as the disadvantages (such as deteriorating people skills.)

#16: Keep doing the things you love

bike ride

Despite going to school, studying, working and doing whatever other things you have to do, it is so important you allow time to do what makes you happy. Don’t overstretch yourself, and certainly don’t feel guilty for keeping up with your hobbies (like I often do). This age comes with stress, but noone is expecting us to become emotionless, working machines. Well, I hope not anyway.

#17: You’re only 17 once

Make the most of it.

As a 17 year old, I am just offering advice I’ve learned along the way/ things I wish I knew a long time ago. Some may agree with these things, some may not! All in all, it’s a pretty great age. A lot happens in the year of being 17, but I reckon the feeling of surviving it is pretty damn rewarding.

Stay on top, keep smiling, enjoy life. 

Make opportunities, and they will make you…

Generally speaking, we all want to be successful, productive, flourishing beings. But generally speaking, we simply are not.

Why?

Because we are lazy. We are so used to alarm clocks waking us up, the internet providing the answers to all our questions and social media telling us the latest gossip, that we expect everything to be served to us on a fine china plate.

If you want to be average then fine, live like this. I mean, if this gives you survival and happiness, then be my guest. But deny it all you wish; you want more.

In Maslow’s theory of motivation, he suggests that the common goal of all working humans is self-actualisation. This is the idea of reaching full potential- ‘enlightenment’, you could say. However, it is also important to note that Maslow proposed that this could never be truly reached, because we as humans will constantly strive for more.

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And do you know what? I love that! I love that I have been born into this species of ambition and determination. Yet even though self-actualisation may not be fully achievable, I would at least like to have a good shot at it.

So how can this be done?

First things first: Stop waiting for opportunities to magically present themselves; make them. And, stop using excuses to protect your self-esteem and reputation; we all know you’re just lazy.

However, it is very easy to say ‘make your own opportunities’; but not so easy to act upon. Many a time, people have presented me with this phrase. And each time, I have left the conversation feeling pumped up and motivated…. but all for nothing. All for nothing because i simply did not know how to make these said opportunities.

Well, I think I finally have the sledgehammer to knock this wall down.

Before you go wandering the streets, eyes peeled for something screaming ‘SUCCESS’ to greet you, have a think about what you actually want to achieve- or even just a general idea. For example: I know that these are a few of my aims…

  • Go somewhere with my writing
  • Make a stand with human rights
  • Succeed in my exams and go to university
  • Give motivation to others

As you can see, these aims are very vague! But that’s the whole purpose of making your own opportunities; they really can take you in any direction.

So now you have these aims, it’s time to work out how to get there. I found it useful to brainstorm everything I could possibly think of to do with the aim, and then choose the ones which most appealed to me. With the aim of ‘go somewhere with my writing’, my brainstorm contained all sorts: Blogging, competitions, poemhunter, book writing, article writing… And immediately, I could see these opportunities emerging.

If I now entered a competition and won it, it would mean I had succeeded the aim. And the way I would have succeeded the aim is by creating my own opportunity (by finding and entering that competition).

It is as simple as that.

Too often, we wait for someone to give us a shove before we stumble into success. We wait for someone to grow an idea in our minds that we had actually already planted a long time ago. We are awake for roughly 720 minutes a day- if not more- and all we can come up with is a meek idea every month? I don’t think so.

It’s time to be sharp. To be innovative. To be motivated.

It’s time we say goodbye to the TV (not completely, don’t worry!) and hello to the drawing board.

And remember…

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. -Milton Berle

Next post: The little things that mean a lot

Why so emotional?

Emotions are extraordinary things; sunshine and rain, goldfish and sharks, raging riptides, looming forests, rocky mountains and unwavering waves. And the crazy part? All in the same day.

Well sometimes, anyway. (Lets not portray yourself as a complete emotional mess, Ellie.)

If we feel too much, we are ‘irritating’. We are ‘melodramatic’. We are ‘a wreck’

If we feel too little, we are ‘robots’. We are ‘cold.’ We are ’empty’.

This is all according to societies rules. Or sometimes even our own. Sometimes we construct things in our minds that don’t even exist.

Me? I’m an overthinker. Every single, tiny, detail ticks away in my brain until confronted. If not confronted, it absolutely will not go away. Instead, a little army of these thoughts will build up and build up. Except, this army does not carry weapons, and eventually, is defeated.

Don’t overthink.

Now, if you are a overthinker, you will understand the complete and utter absurdity of this advice. That’s like saying ‘Don’t be british.’ or ‘Don’t be female.’

You are who you are, and that’s okay.

IT’S MORE THAN OKAY!

I’m a happy person. I’m a lucky person. I’m a happy-go-lucky person, you might say. I complain, like everyone else. I moan and groan, like everyone else. And yes, I get upset too. But guess what? So does everyone else.

I set myself standards too high. And these standards seem quite simple: To always be happy. But in reality, it just isn’t realistic or achievable. Being sad every now and then is natural- it makes us human! Being sad shows we can relate; it shows we care.

But sometimes we feel more down than your average glumness because someone cancelled on you or something like that. Sometimes there isn’t a reason for these emotions, which is the most frustrating thing- because it also means you can’t find a solution to them!

Spoiler alert! This was me the other day.

Every 30 minutes I wanted to cry, everytime someone spoke to me I snapped and everytime someone asked me what was wrong, my answer was ‘nothing.’ And the odd part was, that this was true. Because although I wasn’t okay, there really was nothing causing my sadness.

I spoke to the person I am closest to about this, and they said ‘Crying is like admitting to yourself that you are happy or sad.’ This stuck with me, because although I felt sad I knew I wasn’t sad. In life, things are going well! I’m close to amazing people (CRINGE), I am doing fine at school, I have a part time job and am learning to drive.. and I will be an Aunty in 2 months!

So what was going on?

I decided to concentrate on myself that day. I cancelled my plans, turned off the TV and other distractions and went on a walk. When I got back, I made a mindmap of things that defined ‘me’. I also included things I wanted to learn or hobbies I wanted to take up. (I’m a control freak and having a plan makes me feel immediately better). And like all fairytales, Ellie ended the day feeling happily ever after.


Aside from this lovely life story, there is a point i’m trying to make (hoorah!).

The point is that emotions are natural- the good ones and the bad ones! But in order to stay on top, you need to take time out solely for yourself. Why? So you don’t lose your focus on who you are and who you aim to be.

— But similarly, don’t do this ‘solely me’ thing for so long that you end up as an isolated, lonely, lazy, fat slump. —

No-one wants that, do they ;)?

 

Rights, fights and what you need to know

Before I launch into my series of posts battling sensitive topics based around the breach of human rights, I felt it was important to make sure everyone is on the same page.

In our youth, we are not taught what our rights are. And even in adolescence and adulthood, it is still not reiterated to us. Why the education system feels the need to teach us differentiation and integration but not what our simple rights are? I wish I knew.

Last year, I entered an Amnesty Youth competition for human rights. I will get more into the details of this shortly, but whilst I was at the ceremony I was given a book containing- in the simplest form- a list of our human rights: (See slideshow images below)

 

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Our issue is not just that we do not know of these rights, but also that should we know of them, they are not something we act upon. The one which most strikes me is: ‘Everyone has a right to learn.’

Initially, you may not think that among all the awful things happening in the World, this is a large concern. However, imagine each individual having an education. This would mean everyone could be educated on their rights and how to combat conflicts with these, hypothetically resulting in a slowly improving World. It also means people could be educated in a way that will ensure they do not do wrong and cause further conflict. Plus, children can then see from an early age the undesirable qualities of criminals, terrorists and so forth.

It is fair to say that an education for all could be a gateway to meeting the needs of the many human rights. In this Amnesty competition I mentioned, I begun to express my concerns on this in the form of a spoken word poem. I would love to be able to show you a video of this, however my parents were on camera duty and ‘filmed’ the whole thing without clicking record… Instead, you can see some awful photos from the event:

(If we can put the unflattering down angle and lifeless hair aside then it is a proud moment)

Getting into the top 3 for this competition and having the opportunity to perform really was one of my proudest moments. Not just for the selfish triumph, but also because I felt like I was helping a cause that really mattered.

However this year, i’d love to be able to do more. Whilst focusing on a broad range of topics, I would like to hone in on global education and find a way to really make a difference.

Somewhere, right now, there is a child- thousands of children- preparing for their life as a rice farmer. They are staring at their blistered feet and feeling their aching limbs in wonder: What would it be like to go to school, just for a day?

I understand that when living a privileged life it is easy to turn a blind eye to these issues elsewhere. It is difficult to put yourself into shoes that don’t fit and become a tailor to these needs. But i urge you to try, for all the difference it could make.

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the World.’ – Nelson Mandela

Next Post: Looking into education across the globe.