Category: Passion for Life

A little life; my thoughts.

It is truly remarkable that upon turning the cover of a book, one has no idea what they are yet to discover; not really. They may be equipped with a synopsis, a blurb, some reviews… but one can never predict the emotions a piece of work will invoke until the act is experienced firsthand. When I picked up ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara, this was exactly the case. I did not expect to fall into one hundred ditches, fly one thousand heights, or to have emotions torn and tossed like KitKat wrappers one million times. I did not expect for my vision to improve, my brain to haze or my heart to ache. I did not expect to feel beads of sweat prickle from my hot skin in moments of tension, or for that to turn to hungry, furious steam at every turn of a page. I did not expect for it to resonate so inexplicably strongly with myself, as though it was something the world had wanted me to hear for a long, long time.

The character of Jude is tormenting to read. You cannot help but fall in love with his kind hearted yet vulnerable nature. This is consequently infuriating when you discover his innate self hatred, and how he views himself through a tinted, skewed, smashed mirror. There is so much more I wish to discuss within his character and his relationships with others, but I think key points would be his relationship with Willem and Andy. His main struggle when being with another person comes from his sense of undeservedness, which is deeply saddening and somewhat maddening. Seeing cracks appear in a seemingly perfect relationship, however, teaches the valid life lesson that no relationship is smooth all the way. And most importantly, that this is okay. The writing is deeply intricate about his romantic life and how the protagonist’s past affects his present and future. I suppose it is true that your past will always haunt you. It made me feel nauseous with the realisation that some people in life truly feel this way- that however much they trust a person and trust their love, they will never feel secure or worthy. This has to be what produced one of the largest emotional responses in me. His relationship with his doctor, Andy, is also intriguing though. The reader watches an emotional journey of trust develop- which is a huge milestone for the character of Jude- however it reaches a point where their emotional investment intrudes on Andy’s professional decision making skills. Equally, professional decisions would not be able to be made as effectively by a doctor who did not know all of Jude’s past in the way that Andy did. It really is an ethical debate! As much as i’d love to, I will restrain from revealing too much incase anyone has not read this book yet.

What I can discuss, though, is the open nature in which Yanagihara discusses ‘taboo’ topics. I loved this beyond words (although it has faced much controversy). I think that the way sexuality, relationships, abuse, illness and suicide was explored so freely made it a liberating read. It is undeniable that most families face one of the above at some point in their lives, so perhaps such conflict arises from self denial. However, I personally embraced the way they were approached not as controversial topics, but as things that affect the best of us; things that need to be spoken about.

A book has never had such ability to produce tears from me as much as this one did. It was so easily forgettable that the writing was fiction, because it was packed with so much truth and wisdom that one cannot muster from nowhere. It taught me to talk about issues, to accept flaws, to stop asking and start doing, and most importantly to be myself. It sounds exaggerative to go to this extent, but my view of the world really did change as soon as the back cover kissed the front and my heart strings snapped from its ending. I think it bought me out of a drunken perspective of the world and really sobered me up a little, and I also think that a few more of us could do with a read like that.

Below are two poems I wrote about the protagonist Jude, when in emotional turmoil surrounding his suicidal thoughts:


Sullen winds whispered through

Window pane cracks;

Frost lining the sill and sitting,

Sometimes spitting,

Through dense air and

Minds so confused.

Eyebrow hairs stood on end

From the tug of war between

Myself and I;

a stress response of the

Naive and unknowing.


Refreshing was the mind when

Kissed with new oxygen,

Slathered with inspiration and

Assaulted with new ideas.

Refreshed was the mind

When not dampened with the past

And soiled with the present.

Refreshed was the mind,

With the freezing of the future.

And with that,

The freezing of fate.


It rung in the air like a bell;

Supported by an untiring arm and

Awakening the tales that taunted my tongue.

I bit to taste the tinny treat

Of simultaneous reward

and overdue revenge.

How this fate was obtained,

I did not know,

But I did know

That each rustle of the branch

mocked my past

And each clip of a heel

predicted my future;

An undeserving soup of

Regret, redemption,

Trust, turmoil;


Self-pity enveloped my body and

I tear myself free;

A letter to never be posted-

Nor received.


Chapters of change

Many are skeptical when it comes to the concept of change, and that includes myself. As someone whom is stubborn and so set on loving the way life is right now, I struggle to picture myself in a way that isn’t the current me.

But, it isn’t just us humans that are constantly changing. When I looked outside my window this morning, I saw the sapling that I planted 6 years ago, which is now a thick-trunked tree with fire red and orange leaves tumbling to the ground; waiting to be crunched upon. The beauty of the autumnal scene had me not only in awe of the colours, but also in awe of the way in which nature operates so seamlessly. I looked at the tree again, but this time pictured the branches bare, in a dressing gown of cobwebs and iced with frost from a cold night. I cannot wait for winter and the changes in the environment that will come!


On these thoughts of change, I started to think about the future. Yes, I smashed down the walls of stone I have around the topic and actually invited it in for a while. It is mind-blowing to think of the amount of people I will meet in the future, the amount of places I will travel and the amount of new things I will try.

If my 12 year old self could see where I am now, never would she expect to see me at a different school for sixth form, with a drivers license, or to have a niece, or a bearded dragon. But hey, it happened! Change is fun, because it near enough translates to the phrase: ‘Expect the unexpected.’

From these few moments of intense thought, I have a new outlook on change. The more things change, the more you can say happened in your life. And that’s pretty great. I want my life, in retrospect, to be so full of twists and turns that I feel travel sick just looking back on it.

But whilst it is vital to believe that change is good- so you can move with the flow and more importantly against it- it is also important to remember that some constants are great too. Of course some people will be a constant in your life, and the same goes for places and events. I’m not saying we should get rid of the constants- for this is what we find utter joy in- but to invite change every once in a while wouldn’t be a terrible idea, either.

From now I want to seek to embrace change, rather than fear it. I want to live in the moment, accept opportunities and of course, make my own.

Think of change as a chapter of your life, not a challenge of it.


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.


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.


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.


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