Friday, 31 July 2015

Teen Wisdom: Piercings

Upon hitting adolescence, there are numerous things, both considered 'good' and 'bad', that are bound to attract your attention, which is at its greatest while you discover your identity on the road to adulthood: the luring power of deviant articles such as alcohol and drugs, clothes, popularity, tattoos and piercings. All of these said things contribute to establishing your very own identity - which has evolved considerably since you began to determine your preferences all the way back in your toddler years, yet this time independence has granted you more freedom to help you decide what adds up to making you who you are.

Therefore, it can only be expected that you want to dabble in different things, some as a short-lived phase while others might stay close to you for a lifetime. Yet, as all teenagers learn at one point, one of the greatest privileges of being young is that we are pretty much fearless when it comes to experimenting with our interests - and, if we use it to our advantage, that can provide plenty of exhilarating memories that can define a special period in our lives!

As a sixteen year old, I'm firmly based in the adolescence camp and shall remain so until I hit my twenties in a few years' time (though I secretly think that this cannot be possible; it only feels like five minutes ago since I spent many joyful hours playing with my Bratz dolls!). I definitely regard this as a positive because I've been granted opportunities to develop my passions, in addition to finding out what represents me - through my clothes, make-up, jewellery and, to a certain extent, piercings.

Oh yeah, how could I forget about that one? By 'a certain extent', my translation is that I'm not covered head-to-toe in studs which would not only cost me a year's worth of pocket money to purchase, but I would quite possibly not be allowed to walk within a two mile radius of my piercing-detesting school - not ideal for one who is less than a year away from sitting her GCSE exams!

Still, rules which, despite their presence, always exist for the purpose of being broken (by both students and teachers), so I'm never going to let a few words stop me from expressing myself - a quality which I believe all teenagers should have the right to develop wherever they are.

As a result of my beliefs, I didn't think twice about getting my cartilage pierced on Monday which, like both of the piercings on my lobes, I had greatly considered for a long while. Because of this, I really appreciated being able to get the piercing as I knew 100% that I wanted it; I was certainly not getting it out of pressure or lust, which has a funny way of messing with your emotions during your least clear-minded moments. Walking into a shop and requesting a piercing as soon as the idea pops into your head is a method that I don't recommend because regret could possibly be the greatest source of pain (especially if the piercing happens to go dramatically wrong), in addition to enduring a potentially agonising method of getting whatever part of your body pierced.

Besides, if you want to keep your parents in the loop as to which body parts are going to be saying hello to a fine, small hole, I doubt that you'll be given permission to go over the top with your piercings - as was the case with my parents. My mum and dad aren't overly keen on facial piercings, which I completely understand because they have never really been my kind of thing, while anything that they had never really heard of - e.g. 'tragus' is not a word that is not particularly used in my house - was off limits. And you know what? I was fine with their opinions. If they didn't express their support for me, what was the whole point in creating an uproar over a tiny, insignificant hole in my body?

Anyway, cartilage piercings are quite mainstream which, in my opinion, translates as 'normal' to most people, so I didn't particularly think that persuading my parents to let me get it done was overly hard, especially as numerous students at my school have proudly been showing off theirs for months - including my fellow prefects who are supposed to be living up to the near-impossible image of a goodie-two-shoes. Despite the popularity of the piercing at school, this didn't influence my desire to get one at all: I simply liked it. Enough said. If I want something, it would have to take a tremendous amount for my preferences to be influenced by those of others, though the fact that many others had the same piercing made me feel less like a criminal for yearning to get it - even at school, I always stick to the rules, so I was slightly on edge with regard to going against it for once!

Enough on school rules and my being a 'bad, bad girl' for once in my life - though I will recommend to all those interested in cartilage piercings to make an effort to hide their ears whilst at school so that your experiences with the naughty little word called 'trouble' is kept to an absolute minimum. Obviously! And, if you freak out at the prospect of tying your hair up in P.E., simply leave a bit of your hair loose so that you can tug it over your ears: problem solved!

What you may want to know now is, if you are going to get your cartilage pierced, where you can get the procedure done. As both of my lobe piercings had been done at Claire's, I decided to get my cartilage pierced there because I have never had any problems there, despite their use of a piercing gun attracting negativity on the internet. One of my original fears was that the piercing gun could shatter the bone in your cartilage, which would result in serious damage, but I've learnt that you ought to listen to your own instincts, rather than those of people who have probably never received a piercing at Claire's - otherwise, how will you be able to make your own decisions in life without relying on your independence? Although Claire's worked perfectly fine for me, it might not be the ideal choice for you, so I would advise that you ask your friends for reputable parlors which offer cartilage piercings. If not possible, Google it - try to find a parlor's Facebook page or reviews so that you can somewhat get a glimpse into the service you might receive. Just don't turn up to a piercing studio without being aware of its reputation; as with all people, you deserve the best possible service, so ensure that you are guaranteed to receive it!

As for the procedure itself, I can only provide a description of getting my cartilage pierced via a piercing gun, which can be only used on ears. The other method, which involves a needle, is likely to be more painful, but is recognised as hygienic and safe as long as whoever is piercing you knows exactly what they are doing. When I got my cartilage pierced several days ago, my piercer put on a disposable apron and a pair of gloves, along with cleaning the area of my ear that I wanted pierced, before she showed me the sterile earring that she would put into the sterilised piercing gun - I knew that everything was absolutely hygienic and that I was not receiving a compromised service. And the piercing itself? Like all, it hurt but it felt more like a pinch than anything else; within minutes, my piercing reduced to a gentle throb, which had literally disappeared by the time I arrived home about an hour later. Though, if I'm truly honest, receiving a free lollypop - which helps bring one's blood sugar levels up after experiencing a 'shock' to the system - probably made me feel much better!

If you're really worried about fainting, make sure that you have somebody accompanying you. In my case, Mum came with me (though there was absolutely no way I would have gotten to Claire's by walking 13 miles on a main road!), but at least having somebody who lift me off the floor if I collapsed calmed my nerves. A bit. Seriously, eat a biscuit or some fruit before visiting a piercing studio so that your blood sugar levels don't suddenly plummet when you get your piercing done - that really helps!

Now that you've accomplished the most important matter - getting your piercing - what do you do next? Cartilage piercings must be worn in the ear for at least a year in order to ensure that the hole does not close up, which would be very irritating after going through the hassle of caring for it, but you can swap your original stud for another earring within eight to twelve weeks of getting the piercing. My tips are dead simple: clean the pierced area several times a day, preferably when you wake up in the morning, after you come home from school and before you go to bed. As tempting as it might be to know that it is there, don't touch your piercing unless you've washed your hands - cartilage piercings require more delicacy than your lobes, so make sure that you are treating it with kindness!

Oh, and who could forget? Sleeping on the side with your pierced cartilage is a right pain just after you've got it pierced; I felt like a right fool for forgetting this golden rule when bedtime came around on Monday night, but one slight snuggle on my right side provided enough pain to remind me to stay off it! Unlike some things, there are absolutely no excuses: you have to avoid sleeping completely on your piercing until it settles a bit more, which can take from weeks to months. At the moment, I can slightly rest on my right side, but only if my hair has been crimped (which considerably thickens it) and I do so very gently. Still, progress is progress - as is favouring vanity over practicality (and precious beauty sleep)!

And that is pretty much all that I can tell you about cartilage piercings. Personally, I find them cool, pretty and feminine; having one simply makes me me, which is a mission that I aim to fulfil as an experimental teen - and so should you!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Spicing Up The Summer

So far, so busy - exactly the way that I like my life to be... at times when it is specially suited to my needs, of course! Well, it mostly depends on what you would consider to define as 'busy'; for some, watching TV is the height of excitement (same applies to me if something other than Simpsons re-runs are shown for a change), while others need to be outdoors in order to keep themselves occupied for longer than five minutes (or seconds, if you share my easily bored-to-death traits).

Still, I'm starting to feel as though there is more purpose in the summer holidays than there previously was a mere week ago, which presented its problems of boredom on a daily basis. As a young, near-adult, satisfying my attention span with games no longer does the job to the typical standard that would have certainly worked a treat if I was five years or so younger - such a tragedy when six whole weeks of free time are suddenly mine for the taking, yet I begin to view this once-a-year opportunity as a dreadful nightmare when I realise that I have nothing to do! Alas, I revert to my child-like self upon being overcome by the initial stages of boredom; I whine, moan and become everybody's worst dream come true to hang around. Yeah, I'm really the type of person whose blog you fancy reading...

Anyway, boredom has finally decided to leave me alone for a while (at last!), instead providing me with things to not only do, but think about. For starters, I travelled into one of the nearby towns (whose title I could possibly state, but would much rather not for the sake of preserving my oh-so-precious privacy) yesterday to get my right cartilage - a.k.a. the bony-ish curve on your ear which can have an awful habit of sticking out - pierced: such an exhilarating moment!!!

For ages, I'd dreamt of being able to wear ear cuffs which, if you browse through the internet and shopping sites such as Forever 21, are all the rage everywhere; as a lover of earrings, it seemed stupid to deny myself the opportunity of trying out the latest trends. Even though I could have easily walked into the likes of Claire's and asked for the piercing months ago (as I wouldn't require the presence of my parents to get it done because I'm sixteen - one of the few privileges of my age), I was reluctant at the time because my school is apparently 'strict' on piercings; like most educational establishments, girls can only wear one pair of studs in their ear lobes, while any other piercings are banned. Well, I say 'banned' yet this doesn't necessarily mean that other students stick to the rules - off the top of the head, I know that there are several girls with belly-button, nose and tragus piercings, while some boys also wear studs on one of their lobes, which goes completely against the rules.

Usually, when such supposedly 'strict' rules are imposed, you would expect schools to ensure that nobody is going against them - if they fail to take any action, what is the point of enforcing them in the first place? As for my school, let's put it this way: nothing is putting pupils off from wearing the piercings that they are apparently not allowed to have. And, if many of the said pupils are in positions such as mine - Prefects - and haven't lost their roles due to wearing tiny, hardly noticeable studs on their ears or wherever, why should I deprive myself of getting a piercing that I would not only take good care of, but would contribute to my ever-blossoming personality?

Like tattoos, piercings demonstrate who we are as people, providing slight yet noticeable glimpses into our characters, whilst telling the world that we are independent in making our own choices - is that not a skill which schools should value far above often exaggerated exam results? If people learn how to be true to themselves, I doubt that worrying issues such as poor self-esteem would run rife like bullying and behavioural problems in schools.

Besides, I don't see how wearing a stud is going to interfere with my learning. At the end of the day, I will still hopefully achieve the brilliant grades to which I've devoted many happy dreams, regardless of the fact that I've got several ear piercings. At around my age, young people should have the right to decide whether to get piercings or not, which is a much safer decision than choosing to smoke a joint or swig several gulps of vodka - both of which can mark dangerous descents into addiction that one may never recover from. Meanwhile, if a piercing is playing up or you no longer like it, you simply take the stud out and wait for the hole to close up!

Before I lose myself in yet another heated rant, I didn't allow my school's rules to stop me from getting my cartilage pierced which, a day on, I happily regard as a great decision; despite being worried about the piercing itself hurting, it hardly felt like anything more than a sharp pinch. And, of course, seeing it in the mirror for the very first time left me with a brilliant smile on my lips, which further justified my desire to get it!

If there were any negatives that I had to give about it, I can't ignore the difficulty in sleeping on the side on which I got my cartilage pierced; even when I lightly tossed my right ear onto my pillow, the piercing automatically felt sore, producing an ache which I wouldn't want to feel in any stronger way! As I've got a tendency to press my head down really tightly onto my pillow, I don't think that sleeping on my right side would be a wise idea while my cartilage, which is expected to take about a year to heal, has only been pierced for a short period of time. While I am able to sleep on my left side, I do love rotating from side to side when I sleep; needless to say, breaking this habit was awfully hard last night as I constantly fought the urge to move over, but I simply had to make do with staying in literally the same position overnight. Even resting lightly on my back would apply some pressure onto my right cartilage, so I really was condemned to sleeping on my left side - such an inconvenience! Still, I'm hoping that it will be only the matter of weeks before I can sleep once again on my right side because, so far, my piercing has been healing well, so I'm optimistic that this will continue as long as I care for it well. My sleep might not be great right now, but I've got a fantastic new piercing out of it - that's vanity for you!

On another topic, I went to the cinema earlier today to see Disney's latest film, Inside Out, which I absolutely loved watching; as my film and TV choices tend to be on the dark side, seeing something so bright, cheerful and endearing was a welcome relief! I'm sure that many of you are interested in seeing it because, let's face it, we look like big, tough teenagers on the outside, seemingly too grown up to watch something as child-like as a Disney film, but we are secretly taller versions of our childhood selves on the inside - therefore I won't reveal much of the plot as films are always that bit more enjoyable when you don't check out the ending on Wikipedia beforehand! Anyway, I couldn't believe how similar I was to Disgust, whose sarcasm could really teach mine a thing or two, but Anger - the red furry thing who kept erupting in flames (rather like me when I can't figure out how to use a TV remote!) - always made me laugh because my temper is just as fierce as his!

But you know what I loved most about the film? It completely related to me: feeling sad, upset or plain sarcastic is entirely normal, regardless of how old or young you are. In fact, I really understood the sense of loneliness that featured in one particular scene in the film as I had once been in such a position, yet I appreciated how Disney presented the message that such a thing wasn't to be ashamed of - they form moments over our lifetime that contribute to growing up which, despite often being recognised as an exciting time, is nevertheless scary and worrying. It was also nice to watch a Disney film - exactly the one I would have watched when I was much younger - but exactly understand the inside jokes the first time round; with plenty to amuse both younger and older viewers, I've realised that Disney films will always have a special place in my heart.

And the rest of my week? Tomorrow looks set to be busy when I help out as Front of House for a theatre production being helped out at my school, which should be fun because several of my friends should be either participating, helping out or seeing the performance. However, part of me will be somewhat freaking out because the performance doesn't end until 10pm - undoubtedly, I shall be having a bit of a late night! Luckily though, the next performance for which I'm helping out is in the afternoon, so thankfully my bed and meal times will not be disrupted. Always a relief for me, as you can see!

Now it isn't looking like such a dull summer...

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Joining The Social Networkers Club

Guys, I've got a bit of a confession to make. Judging by my usage of the fascinating word that is 'confession' in the just-mentioned sentence, I can sense that you will be doing much more than staring at your laptop's screen in a half-asleep daze. Well, I'm not kidding about 'fessing up, believe me! Yet, despite its significance, my confession doesn't represent the horrors that might run through somebody's mind while they anticipate some devastating, terrible or shocking news - mine is quite minor in comparison to several 'fess ups I've heard over the years and is quite unlikely to make its way onto The Huffington Post within the next hour. Already you can see that this is good news - there was never any reason to doubt the well-maintained status of this self-called 'goodie-two-shoes' teen! 

My confession? I've set up a Facebook account. Totally the sort of news that will be trending onto the Twittersphere within the next five seconds, isn't it? Thought so!

To many people, having a Facebook account is viewed as not only normal, but a way of life. Why? When we aren't at work or school, keeping in touch with your friends is all too tempting whilst surfing the internet - something which, after months of deliberating, I finally gave into last Sunday evening, setting up yet another me-shaped piece of internet within half an hour flat. 

Still, considering that I've always portrayed myself as being anti-Facebook - even, during the early months of Life as a Modern Teen, criticising social networking sites (http://www.lifeasamodernteen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/socializing-via-internet-is-it-my.html) - joining Facebook out of the blue must come as a bit of a shock. Even now, I can't stop myself from occasionally wondering what possessed me to sign up to the world-famous social networking site less than a week ago; just weeks ago I hadn't even thought about it!

Really, you must be dying to find out why I was abruptly seized by madness to become yet another of Facebook's users. However, the reason for my actions is rather simple and, if you lived for thrills and excitement, quite boring: I wanted to stay in contact with my friends over the summer. Honestly, you are possibly thinking, is that IT? No intentions to join for the sake of being invited to booze-infested parties or posting grainy pictures of glossy pouts?! Well, what was the whole point of Facebook being created if it wasn't to be used for real fun? 

Unlike some people, I actually want to use Facebook for the actual purpose that it was created: communicating with my friends. And, when your mind stops obsessing over crazy parties and immature selfies, you might eventually realise that speaking to your friends is the whole point for having a Facebook account - a priceless asset that I could no longer deprive myself of having. 

What with living in a village which precisely locates me in the middle-of-nowhere (though, if I manage to get a lift via Mum Travel, I have the advantage of choosing several towns and cities to go into), meeting up with my friends isn't always an option because literally all of them reside in the nearby town. Besides, some of them are going away at different times, which means that I can't plan to see everyone at the same time. Yet, as all people with friends would understand, nobody wants to feel as though they have lost touch with anybody for nearly two months by the time school returns in September, do they? My friends are most definitely not strangers - hence why I don't want to risk them becoming practically unfamiliar to me because I don't communicate or see them during the summer holidays. 

Despite having several of their phone numbers, I'm constantly worrying about running out of 400 free texts I get on my smartphone's package every month if I text everyone all the time. Convenient it might be, yet texting can eat away into your phone's credit if you go overboard with it; bearing in mind that August is a long month, I doubt that I'd manage to the eighth day without texting over 400 times! Also, who is to say that all my friends have any credit on their phones? If the answer is a definite no, I will therefore find it impossible to speak to them!

Which is where Facebook becomes my holiday saviour. Not only can I see, to an extent, what my friends are up to (asides from sharing strange images onto their profile pages), but I have the option of speaking to them privately if I want to - without needing to spend a single penny! Basically, if something is free, easy and convenient, you'll be hard pressed to stop me from joining in; once determined, very little will stand in my way of getting what I want!

To be honest, that is all that I want to use Facebook for: the rest it has to offer doesn't interest me in the slightest. In fact, I've made my profile private from the public so that no strangers can post comments on my pictures, while I'm being quite selective about which friend requests I'll accept. Already, I've received requests from people who I assume (but don't know for sure) go to my school, yet I've neither spoken nor ever seen them - though this hasn't stopped them from asking me whether I'll be their 'Facebook Friend'! Seriously, these people would never give me a second glance in school, but suddenly seem interested as soon as I join Facebook - what planet are they on?! Then again, one quick look at their friends list - which, for some, goes well into the thousands - simply screams desperation to me. 

Some people might think that they are untouchable by posting 'glamourous' pictures of themselves on Facebook, yet hiding behind a screen doesn't automatically make you invincible, especially if it is for the purpose of gaining so-called 'popularity' on a virtual universe. Even though I'm a member of a virtual website, I use Facebook as an extension of reality - which involves my friends, who I love hanging out in real life. As for certain others, I wonder whether they have gotten the lines blurred between reality and fantasy - particularly when half of their friends lists consist of people who go to faraway schools, and are unlikely to know them inside out like you would with a real friend!

But you might wonder whether, now that I've fallen for the irresistible charm that is socialising with your friends on Facebook, I'll change my ways to keep up with the ever-evolving times. My answer? No. Just don't even consider my chatting people whom I barely know - or don't know at all! And the pouting in the manner of a cosmetically enhanced Kylie Jenner in order to attract hundreds of 'likes'? Not my style either. I have no problem with anybody else wishing to do that on their profile, but my mine? Absolutely, definitely and completely no way will I be pouting for the cameras in such a public way! Though this hasn't discouraged me from taking part in the selfie phenomenon, which has so far defined my teenage years with series of relaxed, happy pictures. And, so far, no pouts (albeit such types have since been deleted!). 

With Facebook able to keep me in touch with my friends for the next six weeks, I'm glad to say that my summer is looking significantly brighter - and will hopefully keep me close to my social circle until school once again defines my life in September. Happy days!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

What Feminism Means to Me

Firstly, there is such a wide selection of things which are cherished by none other than my welcoming heart - animals, friends and even Oreo ice cream sandwiches if you really want to know - that are all important in the world I respect as my own. Undoubtedly, everybody possesses admirations for various things, which makes their lives feel more special and meaningful: indeed, I doubt that my life would be on a par with residing in a perfect paradise if I didn't have four special kitties to snuggle up to on the day I value their loving natures most, providing warmth during periods of chilling teenage emotions. After all, every one of these things contribute to establishing myself for simply being me - a status of individuality which provides strength, comfort and power as a constant reminder of how independent I am as a person. 

And also a girl. 

In addition to my list of high-valued treasures, there is one particular article that symbolises everything I am within one single, yet extremely powerful word: feminism. Heard of it? I'd hope that, as girls account for approximately 50% of the world's population, you will have come across this word at one point or another. But, like figuring out the meaning of, I don't know, fondu (a.k.a. the gooiest, chocolate-infused desert that you could ever lay your eyes on), feminism is often misinterpreted by both men and women. 

Why? I'm afraid that I cannot give you an answer for that question because, unlike some people, I haven't devoted years to analysing the meaning of feminism, whose interpretation can vary among people. But you know what? It is my belief that feminism represents different things for everybody because, at the end of the day, every human being existing on this planet owns the right to their individuality, which they can either choose to express or repress. Considering that I'm expressing myself at this very moment, you can correctly think that I'm demonstrating an example of the former: never has it been in my nature to swallow my thoughts, feelings and values, and I doubt that I'll ever change my values. 

Values. Such a vital part in our development as people because, if we cannot determine what matters most to us, what does that suggest about our nature and core beliefs? In my opinion, I think that adolescence would be a much easier ride if we figured out our values more quickly yet, like all fine things, reaching that stage takes time. But, after undergoing that awkward transition (for which, as I'm now sixteen, I'm hoping to have nearly reached the finishing line), isn't all the struggle somewhat worth it upon realising our independence? Well, I've long recognised independence as a value because learning to how to do things yourself, take care of your priorities and have the sense to know when to ask for help are vital to setting ourselves up for life: nothing makes me feel prouder than having to courage to think without anybody else's values affecting my treasured own. 

Therefore, I reached the conclusion quite a while ago to recognise feminism - a social movement to establish equal rights for women - as one of my core values because it basically sums up one of my many beliefs in life: everybody, regardless of their sex, age, social status, race and sexuality, should be treated as equals. Why do I think this? I have always felt so strongly about wanting to treat everybody with the same level of respect that I'd expect to receive in return; in fact, I cannot stop myself from wondering whether so many wars, trouble and problems would occur if everyone was willing to show the respect that all people, along with animals, deserves. It saddens me to consider that lives are ruined because of a lack of respect or, indeed, equality towards women - even though I'm fortunate to reside in a country where woman are supposedly treated as 'equals' to the opposite sex, I cannot run away like a scared cat from facts such as women still not receiving equal pay to men (despite the Equal Pay Act being introduced nearly half a century ago) and being discriminated against because of their gender. Unless you pride yourself on being a sexist, I firmly believe that everyone would agree with me in saying that such examples are absolutely wrong: why should one sex be favoured over the over? 

Before this point transforms itself into a full-blown rant, I want to point out that I'm not trying in any way whatsoever to influence anybody's values: instead, I'm simply giving you an insight into one of my most treasured beliefs, with an aim to explain why I think and feel as I do. As I believe in the concept of feminism because of the respect and equality ethos it maintains, I like to demonstrate that respect by being considerate towards other peoples' beliefs. The reason for my thinking this? Obviously, I wouldn't like it if somebody bothered me because of the way I think - would my doing this to another person be appreciated? Not at all. 

In fact, I'm making a point about a movement which has existed for many decades, thriving on the purpose of making women's voices heard in a world which has yet to establish the equality we have long strived for. For me, feminism symbolises pride in being a girl, showing that I'm capable of doing whatever I aim to achieve in my life - without my gender supposedly holding me back from leading a successful and satisfying life. It also reminds me that I'm not the only girl in the world who feels so strongly about these values; somewhere nearby or far away exists another girl whose beliefs are similar to my own. Even while I'm constantly developing a sense of independence in my life, my love of community still remains within me; aren't life's challenges seemingly easier to conquer when you feel as though you aren't the only one banishing them? 

Yet, most importantly, I feel that feminism has taught me to love myself, regardless of my 'flaws', 'imperfections' and typical teenage awkwardness while I still walk along the long, exhausting path towards adulthood. Despite my efforts to avoid believing in stereotypes - which are often misinterpreted, offensive and untrue - I can't fully shrug off the one stating that girls tend to feel more insecure than boys. Well, let's get the facts straight: girls do feel insecure, yet this is known because girls are more likely to express their emotions than boys do. If boys stopped paying attention to the well-known image of 'being a man' - e.g. showing off their six-pack, never crying and devouring as many Mars bars as their favourite footballer - perhaps society would make one important step towards equality. 

Nobody, regardless of their gender, is immune to insecurities about their appearances, behaviour and personalities: for starters, worrying about covering up spots is a problem which affects all teenagers, even boys who supposedly snort at the idea of wearing 'girly' foundation! However, when I occasionally feel that teenage life is becoming too big a deal for me, I have the comfort of knowing that other girls - and boys - can identity with me. After all, nobody loves the erratic emotions that come with the package of being the 'odd one out' - even more so during adolescence!

Now you know why I care about feminism - or, as I've come to think of it, a means of being fair to myself, which can be difficult during the stressful times that occur when you're growing up. Equality means the world to me - and I hope that you can acknowledge it too, but everybody's identity varies. Well, isn't individuality such a prized gift? Hope you recognise the value of it. 
 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Holidays Are Here!

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

If I really could be bothered to do so, I would probably never lift my finger off the exclamation button on my laptop's keyboard, but there are much better things that I want to do today. Well, I don't know - maybe actually getting on with writing a new blog entry? 

In case you still believe that LikeATeen has been seized by a cruel little enemy known as insanity on this beautifully bright Saturday morning, I am sorry to disappoint you with the news that I am indeed well, only wishing that I hadn't wasted so much time browsing the internet on my phone in bed earlier. As always, I'm feeling quite tired, which I've gradually accepted is the norm on Saturdays as I refuse to give up my late nights - an appreciated treasure when my whole life seems to revolve around going to bed early during the week. 

However, if you dared to glance at the calendar on the bottom right of your Windows desktop (for those oh-so-lucky Apple users, I haven't got the faintest idea on where you should look), you will find that today is 18th July. So far, nothing very special; like yesterday, it's pretty much the same as any other day, is it not? For most people, I'm sure that the answer would be an absolute yes, yet I'm fortunate to be in the position to declare that no, today is unlike yesterday, the day before that and beyond the day I just mentioned (as you can see, I've already lost count!). 

To you, it might not make much sense, but it represents so much more in my lovely little world - pleasure, excitement and plenty of spare time. Haven't grasped it yet? Hmm, maybe there is somebody out there who is sleepier than me for once!

OK, I'll stop beating around the bush and reveal the juiciest bits to you - I broke up for the summer holidays yesterday!!! 

Typically, I wouldn't get so excited about breaking up for the holidays (even though, deep down in the dark, blackened pit that is my heart, I do still dance around like a six year old high on Haribos) because, even though two weeks off here and there over Christmas and Easter is great, you know that the time is going to speed by quicker than a motorbike racing down the street. Therefore, holding onto that excitement doesn't last a long time because, before you've even placed your head onto the pillow and transported yourself to Dreamland, you're back in the classroom, wondering whether you were away from it for a week or whatever within seconds of returning. 

Meanwhile, the summer holidays are another story: for six or, in my case, nearly seven (the so-called 'lucky' number - perhaps it represents some good fortune for the new year ahead?) weeks, I'll have all the time in the world to relax, revise and enjoy myself in whatever ways I want. Now that's why I feel the ultra-strong urge to celebrate! 

Well, unless you have been keeping a close eye on my activities of late, you might not be sure as to what I'm celebrating, some of which is crazy, beautiful or just plain boring (but strangely seems very fascinating to me for whatever reason). Therefore, I'm being overcome by the powerful feeling of reliving this past school year to you in hopefully one paragraph - depending on whether I can restrain my fingers from typing too many words! Here goes...

Weeks after introducing myself to a secondary school environment, I was tossed into the lion's den - a.k.a. GCSE studies which, despite being slightly nervous about whether I'd be up to it or not, I was determined to complete as my future relied on those oh-so-important grades. Although I hadn't had much time to realise my abilities, I knew that throwing myself right into the sheer craziness was the only way forward which, to this day, I still do - if I can do it once, why not adopt that view for everything else in life? To cut a long story short, I immersed myself into my studies, absorbing information like a sponge soaks up soapy water, yet I couldn't shrug off this sense of deep unhappiness; it irritated me like a nettle, stinging me with its sharpness and careless cruelty. At the time, I was attending a school where I didn't feel as though I belonged and was appreciated, which forced me to ask myself whether that was all that I was worth - as no escape seemed to be within reach. And, for a short while, I truly believed that I would never get out the prison that was my school...

Then, like magic, I was transported to another environment, containing classrooms, fields and hundreds of pupils: in many ways, it shared the same elements as my previous school, but I instinctively knew from the moment I walked on its grounds that my future was destined to be a brighter one. Within weeks, I had set up home there, catching up with all that I had missed, in addition to discovering skills whose existence I had never previously known - or perhaps had never allowed myself to realise. And, probably most importantly, I stopped feeling like I didn't belong because there were people who shared my values, believing in the precious power of staying true to yourself, regardless of what other people - blinded with ignorance and stupidity - thought. With those matters sorted, I could finally breathe - and focus all my heart on everything I was determined to achieve. 

To be honest, I've completed the hardest work by now: breaking the ice that, if left unshattered, could have prevented me from developing the passion I've reserved for learning, affecting my confidence, happiness and, vitally, my overall performance. By banishing my worries over having no time or doubting my abilities, I can truly be happy, which I appreciate more than the best words in the world could ever describe. And you know what? Happiness is only really achievable if you work hard to obtain it - hence why I never let myself to do anything less than 100% in everything I do. From school to friendships, there are no excuses for not making an effort; since when has laziness ever brought people good fortune and respect from others? If I know that I'm trying hard, I will hopefully not become complacent and lose my appreciation for what I have, which will certainly help me to keep my head screwed on during the rare occasions when it might come off!

Therefore, I can't help but feel so relieved that the summer holidays are here because I'm truly going to appreciate not having to get up before 10am until September, in addition to doing plenty of fun things for myself. All year, I've felt as though I've had to put off certain things because of a lack of time; over Easter, I revised quite a bit for my mock exams which kicked off on the day I returned to school, so I never really let myself 'slack off' for long as those exams kept playing at the back of my mind! However, I'm now going to apply myself the challenge of learning a bit of Spanish - a language which I have long been interested in studying - along with catching up with certain TV shows (cough, The Vampire Diaries), which will be made much easier when I sign up to Netflix soon. Something is telling me that Netflix will revolutionise my life this summer...

For now, I've got several things to do, most notably helping out backstage for a junior production of High School Musical in the nearby town's theatre tonight, which I have been doing since Thursday evening (definitely not the best way to finish off a day spent on a trip, but it could not be avoided!). I'm hoping that I might be able to do similar work during the holidays because these experiences could boost my Performing Arts coursework grade, especially if I write about it - Little Miss Blogger will certainly love to discuss it, wouldn't she? Considering that I've been getting home after 9pm for two nights running - with tonight left to go - it is hardly any wonder that I'm constantly dreaming of being in bed, is it? 

There are almost seven weeks for me to enjoy as I wish - here's hoping that I'll know what to do with it!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Returning with a Lesson Learnt

In case you haven't been keeping up with the latest news (especially the type associated with my life), I have been distancing myself from Life as a Modern Teen for several weeks. Usually, when one distances themselves from something, the reason might be that they are ashamed of it or cannot bear to be associated with it - which definitely does not apply to this blog! Firstly, I'm so proud of this little gem which I can call my own on the internet, something that has proven that I can do so much as long as I put my mind to it. Obviously, this doesn't fall into the 'must-bury-my-head-under-the-pillows-because-it's-oh-so-embarrassing' category but instead, I recognise that its precious status must be protected. After all, if we lose our appreciation for the finer things in life, how can we cherish anything else, regardless of its value?

Well, that has been a matter which I've been pouring myself over since deciding to go on a mini hiatus from blogging several weeks ago, when it finally dawned upon me that I. Didn't. Have. Anything. To. Say. Clearly the worst scenario for any writer, isn't it? The moment that I logged into my Blogger account and realised that no ideas were attempting to burst through the ceiling that is my brain, I knew that I needed a break from LLAMT. Otherwise, what would be the point of expressing thoughts, opinions and values which meant literally nothing to me? If I forced myself to resort to such desperate measures, I would have felt like a liar, producing as much trash as dishonest lies do. 

At the end of the day, what I value above everything else is being true to myself. Unlike parents or friends, I can't actually hide the truth from me because I would definitely know it - and the fact that I was lying would linger on my mind like the stench of fried bacon long after you cooked and ate your Sunday morning fry-up. Guilt is another factor which also played a part in my decision to say adios to blogging for a short while; unless I feel that I'm producing my best possible work, guilt eats away at me, possessing teeth miles sharper than those of a playful kitten. It might sound strange to you, but that is yet another aspect of myself whom I've learnt to respect as I've gotten older; if I didn't reserve any self-respect, I dread to think what kind of person I would be. 

Anyway, you are probably curious as to why I've suddenly made a return to LAAMT, especially as it seemed that I was settling into a blogging-free existence of late. Seriously, it felt somewhat bizarre that I wouldn't switch on my laptop and start writing away on a Saturday morning; in its place, I would clean my en-suite, which is basically the only disgusting secret in my life. Why I don't bother rinsing the shower and scrubbing away the remains of sweetly scented pink shampoo more regularly is a mystery that I doubt even Jessica Fletcher could solve. Well, uncovering the secrets within a teenage brain doesn't strike me as a simple task, even though I should have the answers!

Yet, at the back of my mind, I realised that I wasn't going to give up on blogging - it was never my intention to stop something that I had started. Why? Nobody likes to be thought of as a coward, let alone myself. There are much harder things in the world which deserve to be given up; and blogging, something that people often regard as an enjoyable hobby, is certainly not one of them. Instead, what I needed to throw away like an empty bag of marshmallows was unnecessarily giving myself a hard time if I felt that I didn't get something 'right' - or, at least, up to my so-called 'standards'. 

Undoubtedly, we can be our harshest critics. I think why we unleash the worst criticisms upon ourselves is because hearing negative comments from others seem to be harder to accept and, in a way, are more offensive as we like to conceal faults within our personalities and abilities. OK, there are occasions when listening to other peoples' opinions are useful, particularly if you've never considered that point of view before, but I absolutely hate it if I'm told something which I already know. It makes me feel as though people underestimate my intelligence which, as most teens like to get a kick out of being independent, is perceived as quite an offensive insult. No one likes to get annoyed at all (unless negative emotions are your kind of happiness) and, for some reason, it seems to be easier when somebody else winds you up! Therefore, I find it easier to criticise myself because I'm less likely to fly into a strop worthy of being nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. 

Well. How wrong I was! 

Just look at the four-worded sentence above. Have you dared to consider how agonising it was to admit to a fault of my own? As I aspire to being as perfect and untouchable as possible, recognising my mistakes automatically bring me back down to Earth - because I'm no longer invisible to my faults. In life, everyone threatens to get eaten up by pressure on at least one occasion: from exams to relationships, pressure presents itself in numerous situations which, depending on your feelings, can attract plenty of attention. Of late, I've been feeling quite stressed out because of being determined to achieve good mock exam results, passing assessments and keeping myself happy at the same time. Usually, I joke that girls are better at multi-tasking than boys - for example, talking to my dad whilst he is watching a football match on Sky Sports is near enough pointless unless I'm uttering the words 'football' and 'goal' in every other sentence - but now I'm wondering whether that famous phrase has any truth in its meaning. 

Does my gender honestly make any difference to my ability to juggle so many things around at the same time, or is it all a lie? If it was true, I wouldn't wake up on Saturday mornings and let my weekend chores be the first thought to pop into my head or worry about how to get from A to B within a certain amount of time. Like the Internet, my mind never seems to stop working, yet I fear that I'll reach a certain point which I'll never get over - and I don't know how to avoid making that disastrous crash landing. 

This entire year has revolved around work. Work, work, work - how my stomach lurches when I hear that word! Yet, despite what it tends to represent, work doesn't just relate to revision and whatever I'm doing in the classroom: it also involves the effort I've had to put into making friends, establishing a good reputation for myself and getting settled into a way of life which was completely alien to me over a year ago. Typically, I love keeping my mind occupied with things because being bored is one of my worst nightmares, yet responsibilities are definitely something more important than activities to pass an afternoon by. And, as I get older and my exams get nearer, my responsibilities are stacking up like a pile of boxes, constantly towering over me. 

I just want a break from responsibilities. From feeling as though the weight of the world is resting on my shoulders - and that the world, my existence, would be destroyed if I lost my balance. 

Therefore, I've forced myself to undergo the most excruciating lesson yet: discovering how to give myself a break. Like learning how to wean oneself off whatever they are addicted to, gaining the ability to be kinder to me hasn't been easy - but I know that it would benefit me in numerous ways if I did so. For months, I had been trapped in airtight bubble that only gave me some breathing space from time to time - my whole world seemed to revolve around work, which I sometimes loved or hated with a vengeance. But, with all things, finding the perfect balance is essential to keeping oneself sane - and safely away from exploding like a burning hot volcano!

As a result, I decided to go off blogging for a while in order to find out how I wanted to relax and, well, give my fingers a break from typing and writing - as one of my Performing Arts evaluations consisted of 4000 words, I didn't feel the need to write all about it on here afterwards! Also, unleashing my inner lazy chick is the opposite to how highly charged I am during the week, so I love exploring the different parts within my nature - though my mum still forces me to clean my en-suite, which somewhat puts a damper on being as lazy as I want!

One question remains: have I found the ideal balance yet? To be honest, I don't think so, but I'm making a start. Acceptance is the greatest barrier to get over, yet I'm sure that I'll get to where I want to be within time; while I'm at it, I might try to develop some patience! Hmm, that might be a step too far... 

As I reach the end of this tale, I'm almost 99.9% certain that you want to know whether I'm going to reappear on LAAMT anytime soon. The truth? I probably will as my school breaks up for the summer holidays next Friday - the first school to do so in the area!!! However, I'll be volunteering to help out at a stage production being held at the local theatre from Thursday to Saturday evening that week, so I might be trying to catch up on my sleep in the meantime! 

Still, what with having more spare time and nearly seven weeks of play time to use up, I think that I can make an exception for this beautiful blog that I regard as my virtual home. Unlike real houses, at least no rent needs to be paid... Till the next time!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

An Oh-So-Quick Note!

Usually, I don't like to write notes on Life As a Modern Teen because 1) they totally do not cater to my style of writing - a.k.a. writing thousands and thousands of words within what is probably within the space of five minutes - and 2) I'm so unused to writing very little that I feel somewhat out of my depth when I force myself to cut down on the amount I write. 

Still, today definitely requires an oh-so-quick note, as this entry's title suggests: I need to make my point as clear as a spot-free face very quickly. The reason why? Time is eating away into everything that I hold dear, displaying a greediness more profound and noticeable than my brother's penchant for devouring a bag of Haribo wine gums as a so-called 'snack'. Within days, I've suddenly found myself wondering where all my time is going because it keeps slipping through my fingers like a greasy deep-fried chicken wing; play time has to be sacrificed, while hard work takes up increasingly more of my time. 

This seriously winds me up because I honestly assumed that all of my hard work - or at least the worst of it - would have been completed weeks ago, back to when I was simply living to survive my two awfully stressful weeks of mock exams after the Easter holidays. But no, I've been blessed with the honour of sitting yet more exams, all of which will be taking place next week - now the panic shall begin in full flow!!!

Right now, I'm trying in vain to keep my cool (even though the humidity here certainly doesn't help, making it harder for me to actually cool down) because getting stressed out won't change the fact that these mocks are quickly approaching: unless I disappear off the face of Earth for a week, there is very little way that I will avoid the nightmare which is about descend on my world. Although it is likely to be one of the most stressful ones because it is among the subjects that I'd like to study in sixth form (which requires me to obtain at least a B grade), I'm nonetheless glad that my Performing Arts mock will last all day next Friday because I'll get out of sitting one of my Maths mocks - and acting is definitely much easier than calculating the probability of which flavoured yoghurt Katie ate! 

Sadly, all of these mocks require preparation, which means that I'll be devoting quite a bit of my weekend to facing up to the extraordinarily exhausting week ahead of me - obviously not my idea of fun, but it cannot be helped! As a result, I shall be keeping an even lower profile on LAAMT for a while until everything calms down - which shall officially be after I get home on Friday afternoon, producing the best feeling that I could possibly experience after a full week of school! 

In many ways, I suppose that I'm coming to terms with the fact that all of these mocks I'm preparing for - which I take as seriously as watching each episode of The Vampire Diaries in order - are mere obstacles before I sit my actual exams in less than a years' time. Without a doubt, I've overcome my fears of sitting exams thanks to practising how to cope with my mocks, yet I have had to acknowledge that I need to put my priorities in order - including how to keep myself sane in between the stressful bits!

As much as I love blogging, I'm finding it increasingly impossible to juggle it with other activities, all of which require a decent amount of time and effort to get it right. If I can't produce my best work because time is pressurising me to write whatever I can for the pure sake of it, I really don't see the point in posting anything until that pressure has been relieved from my shoulders. And, with my calender being filled with numerous things at the moment, I need to appreciate the time to relax and breathe.

Before I waste another paragraph beating around the bush, I'll finally force myself to get to the point: I'm cutting down on blogging duties. Sob. Sigh. Break down into hysterical tears. Why, you plead upon stumbling onto your knees, do you have to leave ME?, you might be asking, yet I think that I've already made my point clear. I don't want to give up something that I'm really proud of yet, at the same time, there are other things in my life which also provide me with such a strong sense of pride. Forcing yourself to cut back on your loves is definitely not easy, but I've realised that it's better to do so now before I endure a mini breakdown in the near future - when any mistakes cannot be afforded. 

Besides, I feel as though I've reached a point in my life when I'm leaving one part in search of another. I'm now sixteen, no longer a young teen but not yet an adult: where in this world do I fit in? I'm too old to mess around like an innocent eleven year old can, but I'm not deemed mature enough to experience richer cultures and travel around the world in search of a fresh adventure. When I set LAAMT up at the age of fourteen, I had a stronger sense of who I was because I fell into a category which I knew completely represented me but, two years on, I'm not so sure. There are so many questions that I keep asking myself but don't know the answer to: what are my interests? Who do I care about? What do I value in a person? Yet these questions can only be answered once I've gained more experience in this life; until then, I have little to say asides from complaining about my eternal love/hate relationship with algebraic equations! 

In the meantime, I shall be enriching myself by getting out there and gaining new experiences which will hopefully serve to inspire me on those boring, depressing rainy days when I can't be bothered to do anything apart from writing. By then, perhaps I'll have plenty more to say - and stop feeling as though I've said all that has needed to be said. That might be the case for one part in my life, but definitely not in the new chapter upon which I'm embarking. 

Until then, see you whenever I'm around!