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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