Connecting With Words

I don’t know if there’s a word for the feeling you get when you hear a word for the first time and for some reason it feels like home. Something that you connect with instantly. I’ve experienced this feeling a handful of times but often initially rejected the word that speaks to me.

The first time I was probably about 8, sat in the school hall for assembly. The headteacher (or whoever was talking) was reading a poem or story or something and mentioned the mythical Griffin. The description that followed captured my heart and to this day if someone asks me for my favourite mythical creature my instant reply is that of the half-eagle half-lion. I can still picture the initial mental image that I had of the beast flying, and the joy that it gave me. It’s a strange example, but its the first time that a word really resonated with me and claimed a place in my heart.

Another time was coming across the word ‘asexual’ on tumblr. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, only that I became aware of the concept and immediately started reading more and questioning whether this was me. I rejected the label for a good few months because it just didn’t feel like I was feeling anything different to anyone else. I find it easy to talk yourself out of asexuality, easy to dismiss yourself.

The same denial process happened when I came across the word ‘transmasculine’. It was a similar situation, coming across the term along with the definition and how transmasculine is different to transman. Instantly I was intrigued. I felt like this was something I wanted to know more about, so I did some reading before deciding it wasn’t me. The concept stayed with me though for almost a year as I started to become more and more uncomfortable with my assigned gender, until I revisited it and it felt like a warm hug.Looking back its strange to me that I didn’t take the label right away, but its a process and I think the fact that my labels spoke to me long before I incorporated them into my identity says a lot.

I feel like there’s probably a word out there, maybe not in English but in some other language for the concept of connecting with a word instantly. And thats why labels are important.

Etsy is My Outlet

I didn’t realise how soothing art was until recently. I knew that people used it as a form of self therapy but I never really got it. If I don’t have the focus to read, I’ve been watching tv and knitting to give my hands something to do, and damn its comforting.

I can knit with no background noise and it just calms my thoughts, completely neutralises whatever was happening in my head beforehand. It’s funny because I think of a guy knitting and my thoughts immediately jump to how other people would see that (hello internalised gender roles) but when I do it it feels natural- I find it hard to think of anything, I just get absorbed by the motion and the fact that my hands take it in turns to move and this thing is created in front of me.

The same when I model with clay. The tedium of making multiple near-identical blobs dissolves as soon as I start adding detail, it becomes soothing instead. It’s probably partly the physical motion of it, having to move my hands in order to achieve my goal, and the feeling of the clay/wool being shaped as I want. As well as that the feeling of achieving something at the end of it when I don’t feel like doing anything is pretty good.

It may only be temporary and fade when I stop, but I like it. It makes me feel like my job reducing its hours doesn’t equate to me wasting all of my free days.


My Etsy can be found at here. Any orientations not in my shop are going to be in there eventually, but I have no plan in terms of order of priority so am open to requests 🙂

Taking A Break

I realise that I’ve neglected my blog for the past couple of weeks. This isn’t an apology, or me making excuses. It just started off with me stepping back from everything for a few days because I was at the same place as earlier in the year where I was overthinking everything, so I decided to Not Think about anything for a few days, which included avoiding social media. And somehow those few days turned into weeks.

I say somehow like I don’t know why it happened. It’s because I had had a break so there would be too much to catch up on, and I had so many ideas for posts but no idea how I would actually write them- I had the ideas and feelings but not the words to express them. I’m back now though with several bullet pointed drafts, and I’m going to try to post every week again.

Anyway, getting out of my own head for a while has been so good for me. I feel like I’m much more clear on how I’m feeling now, and that clarity feels amazing. I just need to remember to take that step back every once in a while.

 

Dear Grandad

Dear Grandad,

Tomorrow it will be a year since you passed away. Wow, how the time flies.

So much has happened in the last year. I’ve finished my degree with a 2:1! I went to Tenerife with uni in January, wish I could show you the pictures. You would have loved it there, we saw some incredible flowers.

Mum and Dad aren’t together any more, when Nanny was told she said that you would have been so pleased to hear that because you always thought that Mum deserved far better than your son. So I’m writing it here. You know, just so you know.

I’ve cut my hair really short, I bet that’s a surprise! I wonder what you’d think of it. I’m looking for jobs at the moment, trying to be an adult. But I’m thinking about the advice you always gave us which was to put your happiness first. I’m going to go to visit my friends in February/March in Australia and New Zealand. I’m going to travel by train around Europe with a friend at some point but haven’t got any proper plans yet. In the meantime, I’m saving up and working as much as possible at my current job.

You missed a pretty miserable summer and this year looks like it’s going to be the same. It rained at your funeral but cleared up for the wake. There’s something poetic about that I think. Your funeral was beautiful, everyone cried. You had, and have, so many people who love you. I want to be like you when I grow up. I want to be as caring, as funny, as in love with nature. I love that you chose “Always look on the bright side of life” as the closing song of the ceremony. It was a very You thing to do, trying to cheer everyone up. All of us got lost on the way to the wake, you would have found that hilarious.

It was weird sitting in your chair. Did you ever think of it as your chair? It was pretty comfortable though, I see why you liked it. I wanted to touch the windchimes hanging from the hall light as I came into your house, how I always used to even when I was tiny and you had to lift me up, but the light had changed and the chimes were gone. I missed that.

We saw a red squirrel run across your lawn on the day of your funeral, but didn’t see any in the woods. We went there with Andy and his kids and they went running about. You would have loved them, they would have loved you. On second thought, maybe that’s why we didn’t see any squirrels.

When Dad and Katie went to visit you because you were deteriorating quickly I wanted to come with them, I really did. I just didn’t want to see you like that. I changed my mind and I was going to come to see you the weekend after with mum, but you didn’t make it. I’m so sorry. I hope you understand. I think of you every time I see a British Heart Foundation sign.

I’m sorry I’ve been brushing off your death. It honestly hasn’t felt real until now. It’s not that I don’t care, I do. I love you so much. I just want you to know that. I hope you’re doing OK, wherever you are. I hope there are plenty of gardens for you to tend, and greenhouses full of orchids.

All my love,

Your Little Princess

 

Leaving the EU

I feel sick.

The leave campaign used scare tactics to win votes- promising that if we left we’d “have our country back” and be fully in control of making our own laws. They said that they would solve the “immigration problem”. They said that the £350 million a week we’re spending on EU membership would go towards public services like the NHS instead. There are so many problems with this. By leaving we’re not going to suddenly gain control, we’re still going to have elected politicians making choices for us,and we’re going to have to comply with outside regulations in order to trade. Immigration is not the problem it’s made out to be. It’s been 12 hours and Nigel Farage has already denied that the Leave campaign promised to spend the money on the NHS. Our Prime Minister has resigned.  Other EU countries have started talking about having their own referendums.

Almost immediately after the results started to be released the value of our currency dropped, reaching a 31-year low. The graph is depressing, it just plummets.

Waking up at 5am to the group conversation first celebrating a Remain lead, then cursing as Leave started to edge ahead was enough to keep me from going back to sleep. But the gap grew and grew, with the final result being 52% Leave, 48% Remain. It’s frustratingly close.

Looking at the ages of voters and how each group voted, theres a clear link between age and vote. The younger voters were far more likely to vote Remain, the oldest to vote Leave. So the Baby Boomers have caused this result, but they’re the ones who it affects the least. It’s not their futures who might be impacted.

My dad and some of my friends’ grandparents wanted to vote Leave but either changed their vote after considering the impacts on their children/grandchildren, or didn’t vote at all. My dad was one of the non-voters, he strongly believed that Britain is strong enough to exist outside of the EU (as well as his racism), but couldn’t bring himself to vote Remain even after hearing how leaving might affect me and my sister, so out of respect for us he didn’t vote. He’s so smug right now.

It’s a strange atmosphere out today, I think everyone is slightly shocked. Remain was expected to edge it (although it was going to be close), so the people who voted to Leave are feeling attacked by the attitudes of the Remain voters along with a good helping of smugness at their victory. It’s tearing families and friendships apart- and I’m not exaggerating. The older generation want to go back to the “good old days”, despite being warned about the economical consequences of leaving.

I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m scared.

 

 

I’ve Finished My Degree

There are so many milestones at the end of university. The last assignment, the last lecture, the last exam.

After all of these ‘lasts’ there come the big milestones- getting the results, graduation, moving out of the town you’ve lived in for 3 years (on and off).

Yesterday I got my results. I got a 2:1 overall with a first in my dissertation, which I’m really pleased with. Of course there are things I wish I’d tried harder in, but overall I’m really pleased with how I did.

But now that I have my results the end of university is feeling a lot more real. There’s a kind of deflating feeling that comes with the realisation that soon the friends that you’ve been surrounded by aren’t going to be as close any more (one’s moving to literally the other side of the world).

It’s strange to think that this is the last results day I’ll ever have, that when I graduate in just over a month I will really have left education. Forever. That’s scary.

I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I’ve met some amazing people and grown a lot as a person, and although I won’t miss the education aspect I will miss everything else that comes with being at uni. I’m so grateful that I’ve finally found friends who (I hope) will be around for a long time. I’m grateful that the experience gave me the chance to explore myself and get to know myself better. I’m grateful for everyone and everything that has shaped me during the last 3 years.

It’s a really bittersweet feeling right now.

Seal Release!

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On Tuesday I spent the afternoon at Gwithian beach on the north coast of Cornwall. It was a beautiful day, warmer than we had expected and with little breeze making it perfect weather for paddling in the sea and seeing who could get skip stones the most before they sank. Our record was 5, the Guinness world record holder is 88!

We’d been to this beach before during a field trip in our first year of university but that was during the winter, so the wind and rain made it a pretty unpleasant experience.

I find that there’s something extremely relaxing about standing in the wet sand at the edge of the waves, feeling it move between your toes as the waves flow back and forth around your ankles- especially once you’ve been there for long enough that the coolness of the water doesn’t shock you with each wave.

 

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Eager to be free!

One of my friends had been speaking to someone she knew from the seal sanctuary and had been told that 5 juvenile seals rescued over the winter were going to be released, but we managed to get the wrong beach twice! The seals were supposed to arrive at 2:45 and as the time approached we started to think that we’d got the wrong time or place again. At 2:50 we decided to leave, and noticed a small crowd of people waiting together- among them the person from the seal sanctuary that my friend knew!

The seals arrived about 20 minutes late in a trailer that bumped slowly across the stony beach. One was clearly keen to be free, standing against the side of the bars to look out at what was happening. I guess that after being rescued as stranded pups it would be completely different to what they were used to. They were the only actively inquisitive one though, the rest huddled together in a pile at the other end of the trailer, regarding us all with wide eyes.

 

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First tastes of freedom
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Good luck guys!

Seals can move surprisingly fast across land, so we had to keep our distance to stop them from running directly into us. A couple emerged from the trailer before having second thoughts and returning to the safety of the familiar, while others headed straight for the sea with increasing speed. It was awesome being so close to the seals without a barrier or fence and witnessing their return to their natural habitat.

The first ones in bobbed around in the bay, swimming along the length of the beach investigating the lifeguard training and paddleboarders at the other end. As the rest of the seals entered the water they joined their companions and swam as a group to explore their new surroundings.We watched them for a while, just heads appearing above the water every so often to have a look about before they slowly made their way out of our sight.

 

 

The seals were released from the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, which is well worth a visit to see the work they do rescuing and rehabilitating stranded seals from around the Cornish coast. Unfortunately the last time I was there was in the summer after all of the juveniles had been released so it was only the resident seals living there but this more than made up for it!

 

 

25 Things I Learned at Uni

On Thursday I did my last exam. It’s a strange feeling, it still hasn’t really sunk in that there’s no more; that this isn’t just a weekend; that these last 17 years in education have been building up to this moment (well, graduation. But at this point I’ve done all I can). The last few weeks have been so intense with handing in my dissertation and revising for my final exams that it’s just nice to have a break. I’ve been thinking about what I actually gained from this experience, aside from a BSc- so here are 25 things that I would tell my past self if I could:

  1. Once you’ve lived alone, living with your family again is hard
  2. Online banking is a lifesaver
  3. Jars of change are incredibly useful (even if it means occasionally paying someone back £1.20 with 2p coins and enduring their frustration)
  4. The people you will meet are amazing. Don’t be shy.
  5. Don’t be embarrassed about buying sanitary products and end up having to make an emergency trip to the supermarket in the middle of the night. Nobody cares.
  6. You cancel plans and say no way too often
  7. But it’s ok to not say yes to everything, don’t do things you don’t want to do
  8. Don’t you dare pick up those scissors, you’ll regret it. Please talk to someone instead.
  9. Or those pins. Just don’t.
  10. The LGBTQ+ society seem cool, maybe you should join them
  11. You don’t have to dress feminine to make friends
  12. When your friends tell you to do something about your mental health, don’t insist that you’re fine. You’re not.
  13. In your third year you’ll have a multiple choice/short answer quiz. It’s not as easy as you think it will be. Revise.
  14. You don’t think so, but you’ll really enjoy working with the beetles for your dissertation
  15. You’re a pretty good cook
  16. That book you read last summer and loved? Your friend is going to lend you the rest of the trilogy. You’re going to end up buying all that the author has written
  17. Get to know your flatmates better, you’ll only have a couple of months with one of them
  18. When said flatmate is no longer here, you’ll have to go to court. It’s not as bad as you think it will be
  19. Your housemate doesn’t hate you, you’re both just socially awkward
  20. You’re going to grow up and change a lot
  21. Pay attention in lectures even if your friends arent
  22. Not going to any of the uni-hosted parties doesn’t mean you haven’t had the full university experience, there is no single way to do uni
  23. Don’t be so shy, everyone is really nice
  24. It’s ok to question your identity. It’s ok to be confused. Take it slow
  25. These 3 years are going to be great

Presentation time

Tomorrow I have to do an 8 minute presentation for my dissertation about what I’ve been looking at and what I’ve found. I’m feeling pretty prepared (or as prepared as I’m going to be) but freaking out slightly. Here’s a quick rundown on what’s happening:

  1. I’m last. The sessions are split into morning and afternoon, and I’m the last person to present before lunch. It could be worse, and I’m glad I’m tomorrow and not Friday, but having to sit through two and a half hours of presentations is going to stress me out big-time.
  2. My graphs are a mess. Well they make sense, I just can’t talk about them. I seem to get my words muddled each time I try and explain what they show. This is made worse by my lab partner (and housemate) presenting half an hour before me, and she’s so coherent in her explanations.
  3. I’m worried my pillow will make me neck hurt and I’ll wake up in the night again and then be exhausted in the morning.
  4. I don’t know what to wear. I’m going to wear something smart but I’m going to stress-sweat a lot. And the stress is going to make me feel hot and cold and clammy and gross, so I don’t want layers. Also my name is feeling wrong and feminine and not me and I hope that’s gone by tomorrow because I don’t want to feel wrong being seen as a girl. I’ll probably go with a shirt and nice black jeans. Maybe a tie if I’m feeling brave.
  5. We’re drinking tomorrow night to celebrate and a) that kicks off my social anxiety because what if I’m not acting right? What if I do or say something stupid? and b) I might just want to come home and sleep instead of going out (but it will only be friends so thats not too bad, and I’ll have fun when I’m there).
  6. I’m worried I’ll forget my memory stick with my slides on it even though its safely in my bag ready for tomorrow.

And the ridiculous thing is, as soon as I start talking all of my stress will disappear. It’s just the build-up I can’t handle.