Invigorated. Impressed. Inspired.

Today, I walked around the streets of Camden to ask people’s opinions on a slightly controversial book, milk and honey. This is a book close to my heart, as well as a New York Times Bestseller. So naturally, I was quite curious about how it is received by a variety of people.

Upon stepping out onto the streets, everyone look quite stressed and on a mission to go about their days. Once I had reached the high street, I overheard an American couple speaking to their daughter. I approached the mother first, who had no interest in speaking to me. I could have been disheartened at being shot down straight away. However, her daughter quickly approached me and put a massive smile onto my face. She was a young woman, who told me that she was studying abroad with Boston University. She amazingly spoke out and said, “It was given to me by my sister. It brought tears to my eyes as we have both been sexually assaulted. It gives power to women even though we have suffered so much outlining everything that a woman has been through – heartbreak and such.” I was so impressed with her bravery and the strength and determination she had when speaking to me, disappointing her parents who quickly left her behind. She took a piece of my heart with her as she entered the underground station and had to depart so quickly. All I could think was that my heart aches for women helping women and that Rupi would be proud.
Next, I stepped into Urban Outfitters who I knew were a stockist of the book. Upon entering, there was a couple in the home section browsing scratch maps. I asked them what this book meant to them, to which they responded with asking what it meant to me. I said that it was one of my favourite books and the reason for my first tattoo. At this point they were more interested in speaking with me and the female said, “I have seen it on tumblr, instagram, pinterest, weheartit and other social media. It looks pretty good, I didn’t know what it was but just saw what people liked from it.” For her partner, he had seen it for the first in the store and decided to pick it up and have a browse through it. He then said, “It looks pretty deep.” and added that “It must be pretty big.” whilst looking at the text that said New York Times Bestseller written on the bottom of the book.

A male employee at Urban Outfitters was also happy to speak to me about the book. He was aware that it was sold in the store and said, “I know about it and the second book which has just come out. It’s quotes about life, positive thinking…proverbs of some sort.” He was interested in taking a further look at both books. A female employee then was also interested in me wondering around the store, with this fascinating and famous book. She said, “I haven’t read it, but I know it’s really popular. I’ve been curious though.” Upon opening and browsing the book, she added,”It’s raw, real and about issues that everyone goes through (although when I say everyone I mean women).”

There were three young German females walking along, who were happy to stop, especially as they wanted to practice their English. However one stepped back whilst I spoke to the others as she had very little English. One said, “It’s not so full and looks good because of the drawings.” with the other adding, “The sentences are worth thinking about.” I was very appreciative of people who were willing to look at and read a book that was not in their native language, with the images being what spoke out most to the three of them.

Finally, I saw a female, shop assistant who was handing out sale flyers in front of a vintage store. I approached her to ask how her day was going with people ignoring her as she attempted to lure them in to buy second hand clothes. As I handed her the book, the first thing she did was take a photo of the cover whilst saying, “I’m interested”. Upon opening the book onto a random page, she commented, “Aww, that’s good. I love the drawings as well – it’s so crude. It’s a bit selfish whilst not caring about yourself. It sort of says give me everything and I love that.” As she was very interested, I pulled out the second book to which she responded, “My friend told me about that one, it’s really good.” Our conversation flowed and I could have spoken to her for such a long time as she continued, “I love reading books about feminism that aren’t what people think feminism should be. People call me a Feminazi – but if I was, he would be dead. However, I am quite a strong feminist. But I mean I don’t go to bars in low cut tops to get cheap drinks. I hate when my friend says I’m a feminist then lets their boyfriend treat me like shit. My boyfriend treats me like a queen and I treat me like a king.”

To top this off, I walked back to Bauer Academy with a swing in my step and a smile on my face which grew and grew as I saw the Coca-Cola Christmas van with people dressed up as Santa and free cans of coke. I was invigorated, impressed and inspired.

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It all starts with a conversation…

Being that today was the first day of a creative writing course, I thought I would try something a little different. So I am going to think about the impact of everything I have learnt today on my evening. First of all I wished to discuss some ideas and found a way to explore, finding a possibly very important connection in terms of my career ambitions. As today was the first time I had ever read TimeOut magazine, I felt a duty to act on the information that I had discovered about London. So I decided I would go to the Oxford Street Christmas lights switch on, despite my fairly Scrooge outlook on Christmas. I decided to go, despite the fact that the people I attempted to persuade to go with me had been uninterested. I remained inspired to fall back in love with a city that had been so cold for me and a time that had been hard previously. So off I set into the rainy and gloomy London evening, stopping all to quickly upon arrival at a couple of my favourite stores before reaching the underground station. The importance of these being that H&M always allows me to fondly remember my time in Sweden and Urban Outfitters is a place of calm and creativity for me. The clothes inspiring new outfits, events and occasions; the books inspiring new ideas, topics and areas for further exploration; the music allowing me to discover the unknown yet always feel comfortable and able to vibe with whatever is playing.

Finally leaving Camden, I set off for Tottenham Court Road station and continued an ongoing search for a black cardigan. The search is as yet still unsuccessful, however my walk was not. I find something extremely defiant about walking in the rain as though I am making a point to myself and others, that the rain need not change your walk; it can be just as purposeful, meaningful, steady and insightful. I like to walk as though the rain is a friend, showering me with gifts. I like to look around, as I would do on any other walk and not be tempted to face the ground on my walk, but rather face the world. The world showed me a lot. It showed me that Harry Potter is still as big as when there were new books and films to look forward to. It showed me that the world is becoming more open, with a mixture of age, sexuality, ethnicity etc. exploring and embracing the Christmas shopping season. It showed me that old can become new again when I saw a Matalan on Oxford Street. Most prominently, it showed me that no evening is as dark and gloomy when the street is lit with Christmas lights.

Although my feet may be hurting, my smile is wide. I stepped out of my comfort zone, allowing myself to be open to the world. Ideas entered and passed through my mind with no part of me feeling out of place or overwhelmed. In fact, I found things that I can confidently say seemed right up my street. I felt satisfied from the salted caramel cookie dough to the dancing can’t touch this poo emoji as well as all the quirky gifts scattered around a variety of stores. If anything, all that I am left to feel now is a hope. A hope that this Christmas may be unlike the others. Walking round the stores I began to think of the perfect gifts for those who are important to me. I began to think that I would like to make an effort this year, because I have someone that I love and I have an idea of a project to begin working on that would be ideal for him. I am excited for a Christmas with the family I have lost touch with and the friends I have gained. I am even excited for the shopping, but more so for the looks on faces when presents are opened. After all, one thing that Christmas has always been about has been giving. Giving to those less fortunate, giving to those I care for most dearly and giving to those I wish to show my appreciation to as the end of the year approaches. I have never been all that excited for all the time off that families spend together or the mountain of gifts or the decorations. However, I have always been excited to bake the cakes and wrap the presents and make people laugh. So I have decided that this year, in order to cope with Christmas, I will not stuff myself with food or drown myself in alcohol, but instead focus on the good.

#MeToo

To every person out there who has been harassed, groped, molested or sexually assaulted, I want to tell you that your pain is real. That hurt is real. It was wrong and it was NEVER your fault. If you can speak of it, that is so brave of you. If you are not ready to talk about it, you are still very brave for surviving it. Such incidents happen so regularly that they sometimes become accepted as a way of life. We cannot let that be so. Please do not let it break you. You are LOVED. You are STRONG. And I hope today you feel a little less alone in dealing with those painful memories. Because #MeToo

Recently, following the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, social media has begun to highlight the scale of sexual assault. Someone suggested that if all the women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted wrote ME TOO as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

I have seen so many of these messages since this was written and even I was amazed by its magnitude. I was amazed by guys who admitted that they were a part of the problem and messages I received. Some behaviour is just really not acceptable and it is not always about telling girls how to empower themselves – it is about teaching everyone, no matter their gender about respect and equality. It is about basic human rights.

The message I wish to spread is simple: “If you’re someone who’s suffered through sexual assault, know this: You are worth so much. You are brave. Don’t be afraid to tell your story. You are a survivor and a warrior.” After all, they say that every time you speak out loud, that pain becomes a little less, the burden is slightly less heavy and you realise that actually you are not alone. The grip of this story on you is not as tight, because you are strong enough to speak fearlessly and empathise with others. That is something nobody can ever take away from you, because they have already taken too much. Remember to take back your body, stand your ground and never let people believe that any of this behaviour is acceptable.

Dear Me…

I am very proud of you for working so hard and achieving your goals. You have a really amazing support network of family and friends and you continue to help people everyday. I want you to always remain selfless and humble and never get ahead of yourself. I think that the best strengths you have that will always carry you through are your ambition, bravery, perseverance, compassion, kindness, helpfulness, selflessness and awareness for this world around you. Remember to always be kind and help others and you will remain as proud of yourself as you are today. Forgive people, but also remember to forgive yourself, because no one is perfect, but we learn every day from all our mistakes in order to keep growing and becoming even better.

Dear Future Me…

Right now, I want you to be proud of yourself. I know that is not an easy thing for you to do, but you are at a point in your life where you have overcome so much. You are brave and strong and I never thought that I would still be here. Despite all the struggles with depression and anxiety, you made it and you are now a university graduate. No one would believe that you were the girl bullied at school an beaten at home, who cried herself to sleep every night. You are now a positive ball of energy, who gives off an aura and helps people. You are someone who is kind, willing and passionate – there is nothing that you cannot overcome. You have an incredible group of people around you who will provide support . You should know that there is no limit to what you can do. I want you to trust and believe in yourself . I want you to know that you are enough and to have confidence to tackle any challenges and get the most out of this life. You can do it.

I will always love you.

Broken Dreams

Do you ever wonder why things get dangled in front of you, just to be taken away? When you think you are on your way out of the dark, only to be told that it is not your turn yet…that hurts. It hurts a lot, because you think that you have worked this hard and come this far – and for what? You are always being told that you are not good enough, the past is always catching up to you, haunting you. You want to prove that you are better than it, show them how much you can do, how far you can go, but it is like you are at the border without a visa. You get there, but for all your hard work getting there, they will not approve you. I wonder if this life is going to continue like this. If I will continue to pursue things that are never really mine for the taking…because if so, then this is a greater battle than what I was expecting and I am unsure that I can deal with all the heartbreak that comes along with your broken dreams.

Broken

I became scared

Because I am broken.

I know that I will be

This way for a while

Even though I try to

Slowly put myself

Back together, but

I hardly know who

I am anymore, when

All along I have been

Listening to them tell

Me who I should be.

What do they know?

I know myself – that

I am not irreparably

Broken, even though

I hear them calling me

That haunted word, I

Function with all of

The pieces that are left

Of me. They may have

Broken me, but they

Could never take what

Has been mine all along.

I am here now to claim

Back my territory

And stand my ground.

I may be scared, but you

Should be too, because

I will be fighting back

And I will be whole.

 

Fight or flight?

Fight or flight, but they forgot one. What about freeze? They cannot put themselves in your shoes, they do not know how it feels. You become weak, you become scared, you just freeze. It is a psychological reaction that has been proven to happen again and again. So they criticise you: they say why did you not run, why did you not fight? But how do they know how it feels…they were not there. They could not save you. You could not even save yourself. Once the damage is done, it is done. They all forget, but you never will. They forget about the way things affect you, a unique and individual person. They cannot relate, they cannot know, the cannot put themselves in your shoes, even though they will claim that they know how it feels. Only you know. You have every right to feel. You are a human. You get to take your time. You get to go through life fighting, because that moment when you froze, it will affect you and continue to affect you. You no longer run scared, you fight and continue to fight and stand up for what you believe in. That is what makes you so unique. That is everything that they will never know. So do not be ashamed when they ask questions and do not understand the answers. Be brave. Be strong. Be you. Do not let them tell you that you were wrong when only you can know.

Damaged For Life

As though waking up early and driving around all day is not exhausting enough, I listened to a conversation that really crushed me. I lay down to take a break and get some time to myself amongst all the craziness. In-between scrolling through my phone, I could hear the loud voices of my gran with my aunts speaking to my sixteen year old cousin. Her previous workplace had a bad reputation and they were giving advice with the best intentions, I suppose. They were telling her to be careful and cautious with men. They told her not to even let anyone kiss her, because then they will think that they can take whatever they want. She emphasised that there was no one that she wanted to kiss and that she knows all these dangers, even telling my gran that you can get herpes from kissing which was amusing, yet showed her maturity. I think that she has a better knowledge than I ever could have. For all the sex education they give you, they never mention psychological consequences. No one had these conversations with me. STIs are easily treated. I am glad that they spoke to her, but a part of me wishes that I did not have to hear. They told her that if she was not careful, that if something was to happen against her will, she would be damaged for life.

This is what has been ringing in my head ever since. Those words. Damaged for life. I keep thinking, is that what I am? Is that why I am like this? Does everything always come back to that moment? The most painful moment of my entire existence. The one that I wish I could forget, but that I instead relive when I close my eyes and fail to find sleep. Am I damaged goods? I thought time was supposed to heal. I hear it though. I hear all the judgements and thoughts that people have. They are beginning to become a reality. I think that this is for life. I think that this is a curse.

I fight it. I fight it everyday. Every time I stand up to face a world that has been so cruel. Every time I walk back into a home that never gave me a love I deserved. Every time that I am blamed. That I am told it is my fault. That I bring it on myself. That I am attention seeking. I fight. I get back up and I try again. Even though I often fail, I am a human and I have accepted my existence. I am trying to make it into a life. I am trying to forgive. I am trying to end the suffering. I do not want to be those words. Damaged for life. I cannot do it. That is not who I am. I am ruined. It is all because of one person. One moment. One mistake. One kiss. I think I have paid for every sin at this point. I think that I am more than I have allowed myself to be. I hold myself back in fear. I am terrified. I cannot just put myself out there. I cannot be open. I cannot break down many of my barriers.

I know that I will never be the same person. I will never be as trusting. My entire mindset has shifted as it had every right to do. Other people really have the ability to interfere with your life. It remains yours though. Every time that you take it back, you get to decide. You get to choose. Choose to be strong. Choose to accept. Choose to forgive. Choose to pick yourself up every single time you hit bottom. Choose not to be damaged. Say to yourself I am not damaged for life. I refuse for that to be my story. I refuse to let the demons win. I choose life.

Just Names

So I just went through all my contacts and it was pretty shocking. I guess that I can be a hoarder in many aspects of my life. It seems that I like to see the best in people and I definitely give way too many chances. I went through name after name of people who I honestly believed would always be there for me. There was a time when I was so hopeful and so trusting that I relied on people. Now, people are just poison. As toxic as everything else in this world and cause just as much pain. I cannot trust people and I have no idea who is out there for me to rely on anymore. It is pretty true that everyone is wrapped up in their own lives. No one ever seems to have the time to notice you slipping away. It just happens so easily. I always tell myself that this is just life: getting rid of the old and making way for new things. Honestly, I am still waiting for the good things that I always hoped would come. I am still waiting for someone to care about me. How pathetic is that? To cry over all the people that I stupidly hoped would be more. I know that I was always asking for too much. Life has shown me that we cannot all have what we want.