Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Rest In Peace Carrie Fisher

To think just 2 weeks ago, it was the midnight premiere of Rogue One - I was yawning in my seat but grinning with excitement, crying from the emotion of it all, and gasping as she came onscreen, albeit a CGI version of herself. To think just 48 hours ago, it was Christmas Day - I was happy and re-watching The Force Awakens with my brothers, smiling as she came onscreen. To think just 2 hours ago, I was watching 8 Out of 10 Cats with her as a guest star.

Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. Artist. Activist. Princess.

Star Wars has always been a huge part of my life, since I was a toddler forced to watch it by my older brothers, to a 17 year old whose frequent re-watches have become an escape from the apparent hell of A Levels.

For tiny Bethan, Princess Leia was the first strong, independent and courageous female leader she encountered. Before Hermione and Belle and Katniss, before I discovered Feminism and calling out sexism, before I understood how to form my own views and voice them, Princess Leia was my role model. She was involved in politics and fighting for good; she sacrificed herself for her friends and family; she could fight and shoot a gun and get herself out of tricky situations; she made Han Solo a better man; she had fabulous hair and sass I always aspired to have; and she stood up for what she believed in, no matter the cost. When Luke was whining about Obi Wan Kenobi's death (I mean, fair enough for the audience who knew and loved him, but mate, you've known him for all of 2 seconds, calm down), she quietly mourned the death of her entire planet - setting it aside while she fought for the greater good.

Princess Leia was everything I aspired to be as a child; she still is everything I aspire to be. Carrie Fisher was my childhood, my first role model, my inspiration.

Not only that, she was a brilliant human being. She helped countless people by being so outspoken on her mental health issues, and was an incredibly open and supportive celebrity - she told it how it was, she opened herself up to the criticisms of many in order to help those who needed it. She was witty and caring and loved by everyone. She was a game-changer in the movie industry with her frequent discussion of mental health and of the rampant sexism in Hollywood at the time the original Star Wars trilogy was made, and how she did her utmost to make Leia as unlike the over-sexualised and stereotypical female characters that were everywhere in Hollywood.

Twitter after her death was filled with tweets praising her, expressing their pain at her loss, their sadness that she was gone, and their anger at 2016 for taking her and so many other artists, creators and those who dared to be different.

I'm so angry at this world for taking her and so many others this year, but this one hurts the most. Because she gave me the foundations to become someone who was strong, outspoken, politically aware, feisty while still being kind and deeply good.

She gave tiny Bethan hope.

Rest in peace, you brilliant soul. You were and are the world's favourite princess.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Happy Anniversary

On this day, 3 years ago, I created what was then called The Teenager's Bookshelf. It was a simple blog, with one of Blogger's ready-made template designs, no real direction, and a writer with no idea what she was doing.

A swift change to Think. Read. Write. Dream. and a new blog design by someone who would soon become a good friend of mine (hi Rosie).

The beginning of Creative Thursday and the speedy realisation that I can't stick to a schedule.

A few months later and I now have two good friends (hello, Kenzie dear)

A few months after that and my content veers drastically from strictly book orientated to a big ol' mess of writing and speaking my thoughts and a dash of literature.

Fast-forward to now, Fiction and Tea, a new name, a new design (and a newer design on the way!), still the same old me and the same old content mish-mash.

It's been a fantastic 3 years. I've grown as a person; I've lost friends and made friends; I've forgotten and rediscovered my love of writing several times; I've gone through months of absence, blogged while revising for exams, written when I should have been doing homework. I've grown up with this blog, and I can't wait for another 3 years of writing and growing and loving art and literature and life through this blog.

Thank you to those of you who have been here since the beginning; thank you to those who joined me along the way; and thank you to those who've never stopped loving me and this blog and this journey. Just thank you to all of you.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

A Letter To 11, 12, 13 Year Old Me

Dear 11, 12, 13 Year Old Me,

How are you, sweet, innocent, naive child? I hope you're happy. You should be - there's no reason for you to be upset.

I'm just going to put it out there, first and foremost - you're not going to receive your Hogwarts letter, and your life will never be as cool as Hermione's. I'm sorry, it's just the way things are.

As an older, wiser, and arguably more negative and cynical version of you, I can tell you a lot of things for certain:

High school sucks for the first week, but you make some incredible, fantastic, delightful friends who you will remain friends with for the next 6 years of your life, and I hope for longer than that. Appreciate them please and thank you - they're kind of your family.

High school sucks in general, but only from Year 10 onwards. So I know you think your forgotten Art homework is the worst thing to happen to you in your life ever but it's not and you get an A* at GCSE, so chill your beans and stop crying. There's plenty of time and reason for that later on. Enjoy lessons when you're not thinking about exams and coursework and grades. Enjoy learning for a little bit. And don't be ashamed of your friendly relationship with teachers. They appreciate it, they love you, and ultimately that will work in your favour when you're older and need good UCAS references (cheers for being a nerd, lil one, this is working out great for me!)

I know you say you're not cringey because you're a cute adorable nerd, but you can be both - they're not mutually exclusive. In 4 years time, you will look back and want to die at some of the things you said/did/wore, but ultimately that's still your own opinion. Don't listen to what other people think of you - only you, and Older You are allowed to judge you. Hypocritical, because I still judge myself, I still care what others think, and I'm still a nerd, but I don't think I'm quite as cringey as you.

Enjoy the years of utter freedom. Read all of the books and watch all of the TV shows and go to the cinema and write. You haven't started blogging yet, or are just about to, but please just write. Your time just disappears somehow, so appreciate it while it lasts.

Try to love yourself through the comments on your weight. Your ribs poke out, your elbows are pointy, your knees are boney. That's just how it is, and ultimately it doesn't matter because you're a kind and awesome person, and it definitely works out in your favour - now I can eat lots of biscuits with minimal exercise and still have a flat tummy. It'll be ok.

It gets better, I promise. This is, again, hypocritical, because I'm still self conscious, my self esteem is still lower than the floor, I still rely on the opinions of others to make me feel better far too much. But you learn to love some things - you're getting better. Your curly hair that you frantically brushed out and smoothed down to get rid of the frizz? Your curly frizz is now ideal for cute messy ponytails and adorable bouncy haircuts and I now have the affectionate nickname of poodle noodle. The eyebrows that you think look like fake moustaches stuck on your face are now your pride and joy, despite the fringe that covers them now - yeah, you read right. You get a fringe again, and it doesn't look too bad, if I do say so myself, now that you have straighteners.

That said, you still have issues with self esteem. But onwards and upwards, right?

You become more negative, your cynicism develops astoundingly quickly during Year 10, and your humour becomes drier, wittier, more sarcastic and infinitely funnier. Your stubbornness is an asset when you decide parties and drinking aren't for you, and your introversion both worsens and improves - you barely go out, but you get so much better at talking to people. I'm proud of you for that.

You've still never had a boyfriend, but that's fine. You go through a period of really wishing you had a boy to like you when you don't like yourself but, right around the time you uncover the term Feminist, you decide you like being single and, linking in with your swiftly developed cynicism, you understand that all high school relationships end sooner or later - either in high school or in divorce is how you so eloquently put it to a friend. Good one, you hilarious little cynic.

Appreciate your family please. Your mum is your best friend now, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Your dad makes you feel safe. Your brothers care so embarrassingly deeply about you. They're your friends first, brothers second, your confidants, your favourite people. They've got your back, and you've got theirs, you have inside jokes and nicknames and similar interests. You make them laugh and they do the same when the tears won't stop. Your family are your safety net, your support network, your home. Thank you for establishing that bond - I will be forever grateful for that.

I don't like myself much, but I've never not liked you. You are the happiest, purest, most self-assured version of us since we were a toddler. There are ways in which we've developed that I love, but there are things we've lost that I miss dearly. I miss our innocence, our pure joy, our free time and endless hours for sleep. I miss not understanding - well, not really understanding - what terrorism and mass shootings and bombings and world suffering was. I miss not seeing the hatred in this world, I miss not feeling this burden on my shoulders, I miss not suffocating from the pressure placed on me to do well in exams, in school, in life; placed on me by me. I miss feeling at peace, content, satisfied with where I am in life. I miss knowing that whatever I do, I am still a genuinely good and kind person, because that certainty that I am sweet and kind and likeable is gone now. I miss not feeling like I'm bitter and mean and a burden to be around, to have as a friend, to have as a daughter. I miss the lack of change, I miss having my most felt feeling being happiness instead of this grey emptiness, this numbness to life and all experiences, this constant clouding unhappiness that only seems to go away in the presence of a small number. I miss never having experienced a panic attack, never knowing what anxiety is, never feeling this constant sickness, lump, hole in your stomach.

You are an incredible human being. Keep being witty, sweet, generous, kind, adorable. Keep giving first and taking second. Be as selfless as you can, as caring as you can. You become an incredibly flawed character - I'm living with that right now. So just enjoy a life without pressure. Keep dreaming big, laughing loud, crying unashamed.

You do you, kid. I love you.

Older You x

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Time Likes To Run Away From Me

Time has a rather unfortunate ability to keep going while I continue to drown under school work and pressure. Bit annoying, can't be helped - I'm ever so sorry.

Things that have happened since I last posted:

I turned 17 and that scares me a lot (that actually happened before my last post but I didn't mention, so I thought I'd pop it in here).

I've started to learn how to drive and it is just as terrifying as I imagined, but I'm keeping a lid on the panic and AAAHHHH so that I don't do something stupid like crash or just never drive.

A Levels have started to suffocate me and I'm not entirely sure how to stop them.

I've made new friends! I had no intention of making new friends when I started sixth form, but I don't think anybody ever decides they're going to make friends. They are exceptionally lovely and hilarious and nerdy and I have already given my heart over to them completely.

Speaking of friends, I saw Anna again (link to her blog is here, link to her instagram is here). I met up with her in Bath, along with her friend Emily who is wonderful, and we went to see Sarah J Maas at the Bath Kids Literature Festival. I had a great time and I miss her a lot a lot a lot a lot.

This was just before we saw Sarah J Maas. Can you see the pure joy in my face?

(left to right) Me, Anna, Emily all looking suitably smiley.

This is us conquering Bath. Obviously.

I haven't been ill, which is incredible because I have an infamously poor immune system and my friends have been ill 3+ times. I honestly have no idea how I've done it, but I'm very proud of my body for not giving in to the colds floating about - A Levels are tough, I really can't afford to miss school because I'm a tad sniffly.

I cut my hair shorter, dealt with triangle hair for a week and then I loved it. And now it's grown again, so it's more of a lob than a bob. I also toyed with the idea of growing out my fringe, but decided against it - A Levels have meant many late nights, which means I wake up later and groggier than usual, which means little to no time spent on my appearance minus a splodge of concealer and a dab of powder, which means ponytails every day. And nothing makes a ponytail look more deliberate and cute than a fringe. (shoutout to past Bethan for getting a fringe; you've saved me from continuous bad hair days these past 7 weeks)

Things keep happening and time keeps running away from me like an idiotic 4 year old that doesn't understand that the last time I said ok stop it now I was being serious. It keeps running and I'm too tired to make an effort and it's too busy laughing at me getting frustrated and annoyed that it doesn't see the rock before it's grazed its knee and is crying and blaming me for not stopping it.

A lot has been and gone since I last posted. I'm sorry it's been so long - it's never a deliberate absence, I promise. Time is an annoying thing.