Saturday, 11 January 2014

Growing Up | "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."

Growing up is never easy, no matter who you are or what sort of life you have. If you say you had it easy, I will say you're lying. It's crazy to think that I've been alive for 21 years and every year there has been one thing or another that stopped me in my tracks. Childhood is where we learn the basics of the life we are heading into and we spend the majority of the first 10 years of our life being force fed information on things we really don't understand. All we want to do is pretend to be planes or draw on walls. We don't care about how to join up letters or how Moses parted the sea. It's so important to be told that it's okay to make mistakes and that it is an essential part of growing up. Learning from mistakes when you're younger can only give you more time to develop and remind yourself that what you did didn't work out. 

Primary school for me was just 7 years of having religion shoved down my throat. That's the problem with going to a catholic primary school, I suppose. We aren't given the space and opportunity to have our own opinion. From such a young age we are being encouraged to think about our futures and we shouldn't be. Childhood is for innocence and being silly - not for deciding you want to be an accountant. I'm in my second decade of life and I don't even know what I want to do yet. 

I was one of the early developers in my class in school and that made it really difficult. Being the oldest sibling, I had no-one to talk to about what I was going through. I didn't know what was happening with my body and it confused me. People would make fun of me because I wore a bra and I was taller than most people in my class (unfortunately I stopped growing that year and I'm stuck at 5'2). Instead of playing with my 'friends' in the playground, I would sit in the reception with the women and draw pictures because going outside, not knowing what people would say was terrifying. I was only 10 years old and there was already people telling me what I looked like was 'wrong for a girl'. It was upsetting. What kind of person would tell an impressionable young girl that having meat on her bones is wrong? We don't all look like Barbie, and nor should we.

I couldn't shake what people had said to me for a long time. Self esteem was something I was hardly aware of and already I had none. I wore baggy clothes to hide my breasts, a jacket to hide my arms and I would be dead before I was seen in a skirt. I put on weight and even though I hated how big I had become, but I would keep comfort eating. It was a vicious circle. Sad because fat, eat because sad, sad because fat. 

Going into secondary school, I was nervous about what was ahead of me. I made sure I had the biggest uniform and looking back now I realise it made me look bigger than I was - not a good move guys. I was ginger, had braces and was fat. Not exactly the best way to start a new school, I guess. The nicknames soon began. There was tin teeth, boing boing, carrot top… They say that sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. They were wrong. They hurt. 

Moving into the higher years of secondary school, it became apparent that something was wrong with me. I was making myself sick so I didn't have to go to school, I felt empty and regretfully, started self harming. Fortunately, I was aware that I needed help. I started going to a counsellor and she helped me a bit, but I felt extremely patronised by her and decided that it wasn't for me. Trying my best to get on with life, I knuckled down and got good grades in my GCSE's. The feelings of emptiness and worthlessness never went away, I just managed them. Sometimes it seems like it is impossible to put them to the back of your mind, but I promise you, it will get easier.

Something that really affected me in college was a set of 'awards' given out at the end of our time there. Luckily enough I found out that I had won 'biggest attention seeker' voted for by all my year. I never thought people could be so cruel. Needless to say, I didn't attend the ceremony and have barely spoken to any of them since. 

School wasn't all that bad though. I had some amazing experiences and I wouldn't change them for the world. Learning a new language, meeting some amazing people, getting to go to a different country, writing songs that people would then cover and performing numerous plays and pantomimes (I actually got to be the female lead once and it made me feel incredible. I never thought I was good enough until that day). Experiencing bullying and depression in school has only made me into a stronger person today and as much as I would have liked to have enjoyed my time at school, I cannot thank it enough for the lessons it has taught me. 

The working world is much more mature environment although there is aspects that feel like you're still in the school playground. Earning your own money and accepting a responsibility is the one of the first steps you take being a proper 'grown up', unless you went to uni which I refused to do, but I'll pick up on the topic of uni another time… I've worked since I was 17. A year was spent in McDonalds which was actually great fun and then moved to Wetherspoon. You learn a lot working in a pub, meeting so many different people and all with different stories to tell. I hope that when I am old and grey, I'll be the one with the stories. I am still pretty new to this stage of my life, so I don't have too much to say on the matter but I am the happiest I've been in a long time. 

We come into life as a blank canvas and everything we experience is written in our skin. The bruises and scars we accumulate over the years are just signs that we had a tough time and we got through it. We are strong. YOU are strong. 

I really don't want this blog to come across as self centred and all about me. You are not alone in what you have gone through. My thoughts writing this were that if people saw that I had gone through rubbish, they would feel more comfortable talking to me about it if they thought they had no-one.  Please, please, PLEASE, if you feel the way I (and many others) have, do NOT hesitate to contact me. My facebook and twitter are at the top of this page. 


  1. People can be and are cruel. I went through years of bullying at school, and it's sad to say that it doesn't always stop at that point. Some adults don't grow up, I have experienced workplace bullying, but I'm stronger now so can deal with it.

    I love how you're speaking out about it in the hopes that you can help others x

  2. In life we learn so much and a common theme I learn over and over are 'people can and will be dicks'. Growing up is hard for everyone and we have wade through all the shit to get out the other end. I was hugely surprised at how different adults can be (some are still dicks, it can't be helped) and life will change for us all.

    Good for you for writing this post! I admire you honesty and how you wrote this. It's brutal and honest, just the way life makes you.

    ~ K

  3. I'm really sorry you had such a negative view of your body given to you at such a young age. It's crazy at how things stick with us. I was made into such a wall flower after being picked on in school that when I got a job at mcdonalds, seeing and talking to hundreds of strangers came as a shock, but it helped me come out of my shell. Thanks for sharing and I love your header by the way! x