6 Things I’ve Done ‘Wrong’ 6 Days Into 2019

Hey,

I’m not perfect.

And neither are you.

Because, newsflash, perfection is impossible to achieve. The inevitability of failure looms over our heads, yet we are constantly striving to be the best, reach the top. But why? Is it nature? Are we biologically programmed to attempt to be the best, rising above competitors? Doing what society says and desperately wanting to be better. Or is it more superficial? Are we doing what society deems right, and not even giving it a thought?

I guess it’s the nature/nurture debate.

However, the overwhelming amount of pressure put on people-young and old- is kind of ridiculous. Maybe the intent of some of this advice our media offers is wholesome. But our daily life is riddled with the emphasis on doing the ‘right’ thing. So I thought I’d talk about what I’d done wrong.

Sorry mum!

1) Haven’t been on any kind of ‘InTeNsE dIeT’. In other words, I haven’t starved myself to lose the weight I gained over Christmas. Because this ideal that we should make photoshop a reality is vile. Girls as young as 11 are skipping meals to look like the retouched models plastered onto shop windows.

2) Skipped revision. There are many different types of pressure coming from all different directions, but the most prominent in my life is school. Long story short, it’s the bane of my life. Mock exams are coming up, and I definitely should’ve revised yesterday, but I didn’t.

3) Should probably drink more water. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but a message to self-care twitter: WATER DOESN’T SOLVE EVERY ONE OF YOUR PROBLEMS.

4) Haven’t worked out. Kind of related to my first point, but it’s a little bit different in that when I went through counselling one thing they recommended was exercise. And I’ve had the opportunity, believe me, but beds are comfy and sweaty bike seats aren’t. The pressure to go is overwhelming

5) My social media presence is literally 0. I redownloaded Instagram a few days ago, and other than the cryptic post every now and then that made me giggle, I just haven’t really been active. I just don’t want to, it’s overwhelming and really negative for me. But the pressure to post and keep posting is incredibly present, and I guess my friends who are basically unable to contact me would class it as a big wrong.

6) Haven’t made New Years resolutions. The whole ‘New Year, New Me’ trend makes me want to physically throw up. I’m not about to completely reinvent myself because another year has rolled around. And, most of the time, it’s just impossible tasks. You find 3 people in your life that have kept their New Years resolutions, and you have some dedicated friends. I’ve just set goals, or things that challenge me.

So, yep, that’s 6 things I’ve done ‘wrong’. But actually, they are totally right. There’s nothing wrong with doing what’s right for you. I’m focusing on happiness instead of perfection, and finding comfort in the chaos that is life. What are you doing this year?

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you know what? life update.

Well well well, life update time!

(It does say in the description ‘ramblings’, so if that’s what you’re here for then read on.)

On Tuesday I did my art exam. It was a whole five hours, so it meant a day off timetable (yay!). I did two A2 biro portraits of my sister, one normal portrait, and another overly edited. The first few hours whizzed by, and I thoroughly enjoyed it to be totally honest. Three hours -with a fifteen minute break- of uninterrupted art with no social interaction at all? Yes please. It was almost heaven apart from the fact that we couldn’t listen to music. Lunch went by, and the hard part came. The afternoon dragged so much, it was utterly mind-numbingly boring and my brain physically hurt from doing the same thing over. And over. And over. But, I got both of them done, so it was a productive day. I hope my grades okay.

Moving onto some not-so-okay grades, I got worst in my class for Science, and that kinda sucks. 15/50 when the average was 36 whooooooo!! Maybe I’m being too harsh on myself, because I passed and that’s good enough for me. But my relentless perfectionist mindset is like ‘NOOOOOOO LILY WHAT WERE YOU THINKING’ and I can tell you what I was thinking: not a lot. But you know what? Science sucks and I’m an English nerd anyway, there’s no chance of me taking anything but English or Art related subjects at A-level. Some of my friends are taking subjects they don’t enjoy and although I respect them I’m completely baffled, I couldn’t imagine-when given the choice- taking subjects I didn’t love with all my heart.

Today I spoke in front of my church. It was the kids and youth takeover service and I was leading. I was expecting to be bricking it, but I actually found that I was relatively calm, and it was actually quite exhilerating being up there. Some bits I really stumbled on, but other bits i thrived. I should hope so, I’ve watched so many TedTalks that public speaking should be simple to me. I’ve always liked the idea of being a public speaker, or doing something like that. I’ve always had so many emotions and so many messages I want to share with the world, so talking it out would be ideal, but because of school presentations going wrong I’ve always placed it out of my reach. Maybe I shouldn’t place it out of my reach, I need to learn that I’m capable.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and although I’m so excited for Christmas and giving out presents and midnight mass and all that lovely stuff; there is not the same childish excitement this year. And I really want it back. I have a feeling it might kick in tomorrow to be honest, but I just want that childish euphoria back in my life, where I hype myself up to silly extents and to the point where Christmas is the only thing on my mind. Because the last few Christmases I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been, and I’ve placed way too much pressure on myself to feel that same way. I don’t know whether it’s growing up, breaking up from school too late, or just simply circumstance. But I don’t feel it, and I want to feel it, but I shouldn’t be mad for not feeling it.

I’ve been feeling more productive lately. Not productive doing the right things, but productive with blogging and art and things that are beneficial to my emotional wellbeing i.e. not school. But blogging is really enjoyable, I love doing it and ideas are constantly whizzing through my mind like no tomorrow. Sometimes I lose my train of thought mid sentence because I’ve just had a new idea I need to write down. I’m literally constantly writing or creating and I’ve finally got somewhere where my creativity can manifest itself in blog-post form. I can’t figure out whether I like this relatively colloquial set-up, that’s more lifestyle based, or the factual news-reporter thing. I’d appreciate comments down below with opinions but I know I probably won’t get much of the sort.

Hmmmmm, what else? I’m off social media, and I have been for two weeks. I can probably pin my productivity down to that to be totally honest. I deleted it in a flurry of panic before school. Id been contemplating taking it off for a few months now, and I don’t know why I did it that particular day, but I’ve been officially social media free for 1 week and 6 days. I can safely say I’m talking to 1 person out of the 7 I talked to regularly, so occasionally I feel kinda lonely. But I think I’ve worked out I’m a massive introvert at heart, even though I’ve just about worked out how to socialise like a normal human being. This means that being a literal hermit is working quite well for me. Don’t get me wrong, there hasn’t been the radical changes I was particularly expecting, but it’s working out okay for me, and I am going to quite happily reach the day after Boxing Day, then reconsider the whole ‘permanent’ thing.

Another thing I’m considering is getting confirmed. I think I might do a whole other blog post about this. My church is running a confirmation service on the 27th of January and there is a class running before that, but I don’t know whether I’m ready. I don’t know whether I am at the point of accepting God into my life on my own terms. I feel like I sin too much, I feel like I’m not confident to be honest about my faith, I feel like putting it into practice is such a daunting thing. I just feel like everyone’s on a journey, and if it’s on a journey to the North Pole then I’m somewhere on Jupiter. But, if what they say is true, God wants me even though I’m on Jupiter, and he’s going to guide me to North Pole. But I don’t know, I’m going round and round and round in circles. I could do with some advice on that too.

So, there we go. A ranty rambly life update from me, if you enjoyed please leave a like comment or follow. Thanks guys!

replacing perfection with progress.

Pre-warning: This post is going to have a slightly different set up to the last few

I don’t know about you, but when setting my New Years resolutions I seem to follow this same cycle year after year, and I’m only 15.

It goes a little something like this:

January 1st: seven New Years resolutions all lined up, all massive changes to my daily lifestyle and under the illusion they will all change my life for the better. My litre water bottle next to my planner, my salad sat neatly next to them as I do my homework listening to a study playlist. It’s picturesque. Almost instagram-worthy

January: they start to dwindle out, some were broken the first day, some later on, but the realisation that they are near impossible has dawned.

February: keeping one at most, not even that.

March: completely forgot

April: the same

May: ditto

June: no recollection of what the resolutions even were

July: guess what? still done nothing

August: might’ve done one by accident

September: doing the exact opposite of my resolutions

October: nope nope nope

November: i had New Years resolutions???

December: and when I’m thinking about my fresh set of rules that I’m not going to follow, I tend to remember the seven impossible tasks from last year. An overwhelming sense of failure ensues, and I can’t believe a whole year has passed and I’m the same old me. No radical change, no shedding my bad habits to become an instagram lifestyle account personified.

My resolutions always, always follow this setup. And instead of doing good like they’re supposed to, they ignite the spiralling thought path of not being good enough.

In a world so focused on instantaneous perfection, the stinging feeling of inadequacy courses through everyone. Because unfortunately we can’t FaceTune our lives. No photoshop tool will ever get rid of the nitty gritty. It’s very easy to scroll through your instagram feed and look at the beautiful girls with perfect skin and perfect eyebrows and assume they have perfect lives. But whilst at a camping trip, a leader did a talk and said “Don’t let someone else’s highlight reel make you feel bad about your bloopers”

And it really stuck with me.

Why am I letting someone else’s filtered life dictate my thought process. Why am I setting 29 unachievable tasks in pursuit of perfection? So this year, I am replacing perfection with progress. I’m not expecting miracles, but I want change. I came up with three resolutions. They all have no time frame, no pressure and no intention of forcing me to be perfect, but to merely progress.

1) Be nice to people. I have wrote this on my arm in tiny letters for a couple of months now. Because it is so easy to make the occasional spiteful on the kid that’s been peeing me off for the last few weeks. Or making a throwaway comment about the popular girl that bullied me in Year 8 to finally get back at her. It’s so simple to say it, yet so incredibly hard to undo the affects. So, this year I am going to be nice to people, regardless of whether they are nice to me.

2) Do what I love. One thing at a time. I’m going to try and take a mindful approach to productivity. I’ve been known to have TV, journal sketchbook music and homework all going at once, and I never get anything done. Doing what I love (which is not scrolling through tumblr and/or instagram for three hours. Come on, Lily) intentionally and methodically, and to be fearless in pursuit of what sets my soul on fire.

3) Accept my bloopers. Perfection is unattainable, despite the meaningless mantras shoved down our throats each day at school. So to truly love myself I absolutely must love my faults. I am working on loving how I hate myself sometimes because at least there’s still something to hate. Accepting my faults as my own and being authentically me is so important to me, and progressing on the journey to self-acceptance is really important to me this year.

This year I am chasing progress, not perfection. What are you doing?

Yami Kawaii

Early this year Connie Wang, a digital content creator and a personal inspiration of mine, took a trip to Tokyo to explore a subculture that many are adopting, known as Yami Kawaii.

Adult Matters

Japan is a country built on formality. Uniformity is what keeps the nation thriving. However, Takashida street in the heart of Tokyo is a safe haven for not just pushing fashion boundaries, but completely obliterating them. However, a new subculture is on the rise, an aesthetic challenging Japan’s deepest taboos.

This style is Yami Kawaii.

Yami Kawaii roughly translates to ‘sick cute’. This means the traditional Kawaii style- involving pastel colours, puppies, glitter (you know the drill)- is combined with darker, more subliminal elements. Often centered around depression, suicide, self harm and the like; it becomes extremely controversial. Can fashion break the country’s stigma surrounding this nationwide epidemic?

Connie talked to a social media star known as Kuma, with over fifty-six thousand followers. She is a pioneer of the trend, and took Connie to her favorite shop to meet another individual leading the game. Bisuko curated his own comic and shop conforming with the Yami Kawaii themes. His shop was filled with a mismatch of pastel and dark, innocent and borderline psychotic. It was stacked full of syringe necklaces on silver chains, pink bandages to go round wrists. Badges adorned with blades and broken hearts. A great example of this contradictory nature is a t-shirt, coloured with beautiful pastels. Hearts on either side, and in one heart it says ‘I love you’ and in the next ‘I kill you’. Bisuko loves the mismatched feel; the cute aesthetic with the antisocial words.

Arguably more interesting is his comic. Menhera Chan, a pastel pink heroin with a darker message. She looks like your typical anime character.

Cute.

Innocent.

But look closer. Her pale pink wrists are bandaged. There is a fuchsia noose hanging in the background. An impaled teddy. Notes saying ‘fuck you’ and ‘kill you’. And these subtle subliminal references are all affirmed by the object clasped between her dainty fingers. A blade.

You look at this as an educated individual and say ‘What sicko is capitalizing off of depression?’

‘Which immature youth made suicide a style?’

‘Why?’

Teenage Perspective

When watching the documentary, I decided it was not as twisted as I initially envisioned. Clicking on the thumbnail, I was somewhat disgusted. As someone who has struggled with mental health issues I muttered ‘what had our world come to, to make suicide stylish?’. But, as I watched, and listened to the moguls’ stories, I realised there was no harsh intention behind it. They were simply coping. They were making it a style because in a place where these emotions could not be talked out, they were expressed through fashion choices. If people wouldn’t listen, then they needed to see.

Menhera Chan was created at one of Bisuko’s lower points. He was struggling in his studies, being verbally abused and pressure/negativity coming in from all angles. Menhera Chan was less of a character and more of an escape.

Drawing his feelings in the form of an innocent anime character was his escape from the complex emotions he was dealing with. But why couldn’t Bisuko seek help?

We know Japan thrives off uniformity. That is simply how the country works. This means weakness is intolerable, frowned upon, rarely discussed. The bubbling problem is being relentlessly suppressed, and vulnerable youth are seldom heard, let alone helped. Depression is seen as weakness, and weakness has no place in the society. This incapability to discuss these issues could contribute to the extremely high suicide rates, some of the highest in the world.

Joshua Paul, an expert in Kawaii culture said (this is paraphrased by the way) ‘Kawaii is a pure happy feeling, it doesn’t have any negative undertone. You don’t look Kawaii, you feel it. Abroad depression is treated the same as an injury, however mental illness here is weakness.’

‘They are actually advocating to change the negative imagery surrounding mental illness. They use negative feelings everyone has and makes a statement. It helps heal.’

“I think there is a demand for the things people are avoiding” Bisuko says, and that was the pivotal moment that regardless of what people said, this was more than a syringe necklace or a pastel patch; it was a revolution of sorts, trying to make the country more open to talk about the issues that many are enduring. So let’s not see these initially alarming images and simply assume that it is sick and twisted. Instead, let’s question what problems have gone on to create this? If there was the correct support in place such as counselling and medication that I am so incredibly grateful for in my life, would this suicidal subculture even have existed? If we all became a little more tolerable-not just Japan-would we have to be writing about Yami Kawaii and similar trends in the first place?

Age Restrictions

Adult matters

The concept of rebellious, disrespectful youth has been around for thousands of years. 2,500 years ago, Socrates said:

“The children now have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders.”

Restrictions posed by adults in authority have always been used to suppress children and teenagers. These restrictions are implemented because they are fuelled by fear.

See, in 1954, William Golding wrote a renowned story titled Lord of the Flies. To put it briefly, a group of boys are inexplicably dumped on a desert island. They begin as functioning males, with sound moral judgement and seem to be all in all compliant. However, there is no authoritative figure. This means that young men devolve into boys as time progresses, as the lack of adult judgement means they are forced to establish a hierarchy and moral code of their own. As young men turn to boys, and boys turn to animals, it becomes apparent that the youth are incapable of living without adult instruction.

This haunting fear that was sparked after the chilling devolution of some of the arguably most vulnerable in society meant that adults became suspicious. This luring suspicion was heightened as youth organisations were replaced by subcultures post World War Two. Rigid, unchangeable structure that enforced strong codes of conduct and religious and/or political beliefs were being rapidly replaced by teen uprisings of fashion choices and identity.

Age restrictions are for protection against things our vulnerable bodies and brains are not capable to cope with. However, many of these laws are outdated and often very contradictory.

For example:

In many places including the UK, the legal age of consent along with the legal age to be married with parental consent is 16. Yet to watch nudity on television and in movies you must be 18.

In addition, in the UK you can join the army at 16, however you cannot vote on issues that affect you and your country until you are 18.

In the US you can fight in a war at 18, but you must be 21 to consume alcohol.

In Saudi Arabia and some states in the US there is no minimum age limit for marriage, and you can be trialled as an adult in court as young as 7.

Teenage Perspective

That was the hardest thing to refrain from including my own opinion! I was ripping my hair out by the end of that, but I need to learn to separate fact from fiction, anyway:

I believe that age limits have little to do with the physical growth of children. And I believe the older policies should be revisited and adapted before new laws are imposed, before politicians further intervene with the lives of young people. In addition young, yet morally conscious, teens under 18 should have some kind of say in their own restrictions.

First of all, there are countless contradictions in the justice system. Just one example is that a young British person can join the army at 16. Risk their life at 16. Yet, we are completely powerless to make decisions on our future, our lives until 18. I am 15 years old. I am in Year 11. By August of next year, I could’ve joined the army. My good friends boyfriend, Nathan is doing that exact thing. Yet I have to wait 3 whole years still before I get any say in which political party gains power. Any say in Brexit movements. Any say in anything. In the event of war, I can be mindlessly killed without ever getting a say in how my government is run. Don’t you think that there is no correlation between the physical and moral development of today’s youth and the outdated restrictions imposed on them?

In addition, why are new laws being imposed? Already not conforming with current standards, and the social constructs that make our world tick? Whilst the older outdated laws are either left to dictate vulnerable lives or fizzle into the background. What those in power need to do is revisit those older laws that are fuelled by fear before they begin to pose the new laws that actually do fit with today’s societal values but end up being extremely contradictory.

Finally, instead of fighting a war of attrition with the rebellious youth for once can we try to co-operate? Why doesn’t the younger generation work with the older (not just those in power) to find laws that work for both sides. How are teenagers expected to conform to this dictatorship, silenced by rules and regulations? The only voice a teenager has is to rebel. Voices aren’t heard, actions are. This is when the fear spews, and a Lord of the Flies situation becomes a reality. Let’s work together, as morally conscious individuals, collaborating to create restrictions that work for us.

Thank you for reading my first blog post of many more to come! I do appreciate any support given, and any constructive criticism or opinions are extremely welcome.

five fact intro

1. I am Lily

2. I am 15 years old

3. I spent over an hour planning an elaborate introduction

4. I didn’t use it

5. So I’m going to keep this brief

I am here to make a difference.

This is ‘adult’ matters from a teenage perspective.

Warning: sad poetry may be included.