Tag Archives: self-help

Happy New Year Ya Filthy Animals. 


So I survived 2016…we all survived 2016 (unless you are some weird ghost/corpse/zombie who has somehow obtained my URL, or you are from an alternate universe where silly things like time has no meaning, in which case: Welcome!) 

Welcome to 2017, people. All that has happened is the calendar has reset itself in a supposedly significant way, the 6 is now a 7 and the 12 is now a 1 and we can all continue living the debaucherous and immoral lives we’ve been cultivating this entire time. Go humanity!

I am pleased, however, that I have managed to survive yet another routine trip around the sun, especially since this year I started driving, which has significantly increased my sense of mortality. 

My sense of morality however is still, I admit, a little shoddy. 

I spent the last few seconds of 2016 outside in the cold, walking along the streets of the Spanish town Moraira, listening to the people inside scream “Happy New Year” at each other. It was nice to feel like I was watching everybody else get on with their new year whilst mine stood still for a bit. Then I had to watch a very loud and disorganised fireworks display because NYE is full of cliches.

My first few moments of 2017 were spent in a club I have actively avoided for about a year and a half, because the last excursion ended in me puking my guts out over the side of a Catamaran into the Mediterranean Sea (holiday life is soooo hard). This time I was smart enough not to puke, and therefore I spent the night dancing awkwardly with people who were a lot more inebriated than I was. Happy New Year. 

I got a taxi home before everyone else did (because I’m old and need time for my wrinkles to reset before the sun comes up), snuck back into my dad’s house and sat on his kitchen counter eating ham by myself. We’re off to a good start if my first meal of the year was ham. 

At this point I had enough clarity of mind to consider my resolutions, or “very relaxed guidelines for the year ahead” as I like to call them, because then I feel less ashamed if I don’t achieve them. 

My guidelines for last year were as follows: 

1. Stop getting drunk on my own emotions and sending psycho messages to unsuspecting victims. 

I like to think I achieved this. I no longer send messages, I just write blogposts of subversive intent, and maybe I subtweet a little. In terms of embarrassing texts, 2016 blessed me with a few incoherent voice notes to my friends and one failed attempt at a sort of booty call in July, although I don’t think he got what I was talking about because I just kept sending weird winky faces. (Note to self: try the eggplant emoji next time). 

This success may be due to the fact that I now have a Whatsapp group with 2 other emotional individuals, so all my angst has been channelled into them (sorry gals). 

2. Actually read all my English setworks. 

I am proud to say that I read 70% of the subscribed reading material this year. I no longer skim through study guides, I actually lugged around the tombs prescribed by the English department and became that nerd who did her homework at music festivals. 

3. Write more. 

I need to stop thinking I have the diligence or the time to churn out a blog post every week. It’s just not going to happen. 

4. Actually save my money because I need a car. 

I’m really freaking proud of myself for doing this. To be fair, the fact that I turned 21 and I have a really nice and generous grandmother paid off. But at least 26% of my car came from me carrying hot plates of food to fancy rich people and heavy beer steins to sloppy drunk people. A lot of carrying for a lot of people went into paying for 26% of my car, and his name is Slartibartfast because that’s what he sounds like when he starts up, plus Douggy A is my ultimate home boy. 

5. Get my license so I can drive the car I’m sacrificing so much disposable income for
3 failed tests, 2 driving instructors, 50 hours of lessons, thousands of rands, so many panic attacks and almost a year later, I finally have that stupid piece of paper that confirms that I can, in fact, drive by myself. 

Now I really hate driving. 

6. Focus on nothing but myself because I get a little distracted and forget to look out for number 1.

I’ve done a lot of weird shit this year. I jumped about 50 metres into an old mine that was filled with water, played pool volleyball with my friends in my underpants, declared war on the neighbourhood watch because they’re self-righteous dicks who do nothing, told someone I really cared about to buzz off, hosted some really good parties, passed out in a flower bed, climbed a few campus buildings, high fived a pope, and kissed a lot of people on the forehead. 

And I did all of it, pretty much, for myself. 

Which brings us to this year. The big one-seven. Here are my very relaxed guidelines for 2017:

1. Stay away from Dangerous White Men (DWMs)

Source: Disney


My best friend Su has figured out that pretty much all the angst in my life stems from my weird interest in Dangerous White Men. The ones who are clearly up to no good and will probably tear down your land in search of gold (it’s just a reference to Pocahontas, but take it as a euphemism if you will). 

2. Get better at driving. 

It’s self-explainatory.

3. Learn to walk in heels before my graduation. 

Despite my freakish height, I really want to be one of those girls with nice calves in nice heels in her nice graduation get up. I want to look fancy and tower over everyone when I take my cliched cap and gown photographs in front of a fountain. 

4. Figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. 

Like I said “relaxed guidelines”.

5. Probably go to the gym more. 

At least I can now drive myself 600 metres to gym instead of walking all that way. 

I should probably also do more things like stop procrastinating, eat less junk food and drink less gin and tonic. But I’ll take the year as it comes. 

I hope everyone reading this has a good year. I hope you fill it with mistakes and hugs and the people you love. I hope you dance a little in parking lots and that you learn to love yourselves a little more every time you do something shameful. May you call people out if they’re being ableist, sexist, racist, ageist, bigoted or insensitive. 

Just be decent, flawed, majestic human beings. 

I love you all, 

Stay interesting. 

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Romanticising other things.

snow

Source: weheartit.com

I haven’t written anything on here in over 2 months.

I totally get that these moments of total writer’s block happen from time to time. I’m only human, my brain can only spew out so many melodramatic metaphors before it gets tired of itself. There’s only so many cliches I can avoid before I become a walking one.

I’m not sure why it’s been so long. I’ve been writing things down, obviously. Disappointed little scribbles in my journal. At one point I experimented and wrote out an entire paragraph whilst under the influence – there was a lot of wiggles and a lot of pent up angst, wow.

I lost my muse…well, my muse lost me. So I’ve had to kind of learn to romanticise other things – like the suffocating smell of festival toilets and the feeling of new socks on cold feet. But over my brief hiatus from publishing anything on my favourite corner of the internet, I’ve managed to write down a few short little blurbs.

So here it is; Harriet’s random 2am/ every day thoughts: an anthology.

On places I’d rather avoid:

“I equate places with feelings. And if it were up to me, the train station where I last saw you would be simultaneously the favourite and most despised place in my entire world.”

In an email from my grandmother:

“I went to New York when I was 20 to see if it was any different from Nottinghamshire. If it was the same, I could always come back and settle down. Instead I found your grandfather and no, New York was not the same as Notts.”

I went to the edge and found you.

On weekends that turn into melodramatic moments:

“It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.

Ever have one of those weekends? The spell-binding, soul-searching, over-the-moon kind of weekend? I am at the end of one and I’ve got this sinking feeling that I’ll never feel something so definite, so completely euphoric. I feel my youth creeping up on me, I can feel the fire start in my heart and I can feel my toes curl as I yearn for moments that last.

I don’t want to stop being 21. I want nights that beat the sun and glowing embers that don’t know how to die.

I want to carry on living this spontaneously forever.

It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.”

“I’ve had a weekend.

A destructive, ridiculous, incredible weekend; filled with sobbing and catchphrases and loving people despite it all.”

shhh

Source: weheartit.com

On people who don’t know how to stay:

“I can’t blame you for walking away. How can I possibly? We both know I burn too brightly to be extinguished. There’s a ‘no vacancy’ sign just for you hanging over my vibrant, unbelievable, explosive life.”

“Because our entire existence was me trying to hold on to what you used to be, and you trying to show me how much you’ve changed.”

“I hope when you retell our story, you describe me as ‘the girl who screamed poetry at you when you told her to run, even though she was never yours to walk away from.'”

“I’m glad you’ve found ways to smother your grief for humanity, but don’t you dare do it at my expense.”

On what they never taught me in school:

“In 5th grade English class they told us to write down everything with as much detail as possible. They told us that parts of speech were imperative, adjectives meant something.

They never told us that, in reality, adjectives are just as superficial as their intentions. And some people will say anything just to gain a piece of your soul.”

On how much can change over several months:

“I am not the person I was last November. I am nowhere near the girl who blushed electric at your empty cosmic promises.

I am not who I was last November. I got ripped from that body by circumstance and change. I got pummeled into this shape by disappointment. I am not who I was last November.

I am not last November. I haven’t written poetry in months. I don’t believe in shutting out the world any more, I let the cold seep in to wake me up and chill my bones.

I am not who I was last November. I am not a Mississippi sunset, I am not burning up as I race down a wooden dock towards you. I am not superlunary, I am not yours.

I am not who I was last November. I have run out of time; you wasted it. You, and all those after you. I have run out of time and sand and clock hands.

I am not who I was last November. I have an iron soul that can’t be thawed and eyes that flash sunlight. I will burn you up. I will make you miss me. I will drive you insane, kiss you catatonic and then leave you to combust.

Because I am not who I was last November. I am not who you pretended to love. I am not even myself.”

On how much better everything has turned out to be:

“If I end up living a life that is anything short of vibrant, I won’t survive. Tonight I braided a man’s hair whilst sitting on the floor of a bar. I drove around my neighbourhood yelling promises at strangers, I kissed my friends goodnight and flopped onto my bed. I am blissfully surprised at how wonderful everything has turned out to be.”

The bit about festival toilets:

“There’s nothing more carnal or cathartic than finally having a poo in a festival porter-loo.”

And despite all these ridiculous metaphors, here is my final WTF moment:

“Squeaky swings sound like children screaming.”

(What the fuck, Harriet?)

Think of this as a farewell to all the moody posts about something that is now a nothing.

There you have it. The sneakiest peak into my drafts folder.

Not much else to say, except goodbye.

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Filed under Brain Poetry

I will find my way out.

image

Source: weheartit.com

“i have dug my way
out the ground
with palm and fist many times
my whole life has been
one burial after another
i will find my way
out of you just fine”

– rupi kaur

I love rupi kaur. I wish I’d known about her in matric when I was a little more sad than I am now. Her words would have pulled me up by the ears out of the ditch I had made for myself, sat me down and told me to get a grip. There were days in the middle of my 18th year when I woke up unable to breathe. I had my lights punched out one by one by someone who hardly deserved my illumination and it took months for me to set myself alight once again.

I’ve been slowly building up a repertoire of demons to avoid. Self-involved, crazy, cowardly demons that hardly compliment mine. With each blow, it gets easier to move on. I cry a little less, I pull myself together a lot quicker, I stop myself from falling into the disastrous black hole inside me that spews out really shitty feelings. Instead, I get new piercings, dye my hair severe colours, cut six inches of him off the ends.

I do everything I can to avoid the devil on my back that whispers soft doubts into my ear. And somehow, it works.

Recently I took a day, I had my first quiet moment in 2 weeks and the feelings that came with that silence were so blindingly angry. I’d been suppressing them with laughs and nights out and studying, I’d been holding them down with assurances that they weren’t there – they don’t exist, I’m okay.

So when they finally boiled to the surface, I took a day. I went for a run just to feel the ache of my muscles instead of the one in my soul. I got home and sat in scalding hot water, kissed my bruised knees and told every single scar and freckle how lucky they are to be so unique. I sat in my lemon-scented towel and traced the lines of my palms, committing to memory the pattern of my fingerprints. I acknowledged that although some people only have the privilege of knowing me for 7 months, I get to have an entire lifetime. I am lucky enough to be in the presence of my own company for every second, I am lucky enough to love myself.

“i will not have you
walk in and out of me
like an open doorway when
I have too many miracles
happening inside me to be
your convenient option”

-rupi kaur

I have too many miracles happening inside me. There are going to be so many late night giggles, hair cuts, existential musings, star-gazings and barefooted sprints through the rain that you don’t get to be privy to. There’s a million wonderful things that are going to happen to me; I am not shattered – I can not break.

I am resilient and free and wild.

I am not your miracle. I am my own.

image

Source: weheartit.com

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You are so much more than this.

flower

Source: weheartit.com

Friendships are complicated webs. Two people decide they like each other slightly more than they like other people and therefore they entangle their lives in joint memories, shared secrets and a blur of complimentary character traits. As soon as the web is spun, glistening and dewy in the morning light, it’s difficult for it to unravel without someone getting trapped in the chaos of cut strings and unpleasant emotions.

Relationships are slightly trickier. They are more fragile, require more maintenance. Relationships, at least the ones I’ve been in, are made of a more brittle kind of silk than friendship, they’re tenuous and devastating.

Both kinds of interaction are as disastrously beautiful as they are lovingly crushing. They represent the pleasure and pain of what it means to be truly human, I’ve been hurt by both.

The worst thing to deal with, besides for the fall out, is when friendship and relationship blend in a delicate and confusing emotional masterpiece. Especially when circumstances allow for only friendship to grow, where does the lust stop and the platonic begin?

Yesterday I had a leisurely post-lecture, pre-devastation chat with my friend Su. We discussed the positive traits we see in each other and how important they are to our lives, a bit of an uplifting tête-à-tête before exams crush our souls. She told me the one thing I willingly and selflessly give to people, is my time.

I’ve always understood that time for another person is the best thing to give them. I’ve never been the type of person to buy affection – I don’t demand attention with sad stories or gifts. I’m not exactly rolling in cash money. I could be eating 2-minute-noods out of a rusty tin can, or trying to diabolically take over the world with lab rats and soggy cheese rolls and I’d still take 10 minutes out of my day to remind the people I truly love that I am still a happy presence in their lives.

That’s the thing. That’s the snare in the web of friendship/ relationship/ weird hybrid of emotions, I give and I give and I give my time sometimes to people who don’t have a minute to reciprocate it.

That’s the hamartia of this whole thing. The fatal flaw in an otherwise devastating fuck up of fate. My love language is time and the people I waste it on don’t understand that they’re taking the most precious thing I can give them, for granted.

 

I tried to type out the story of why I’m writing this blog post, why I was angry crying at 7 o clock this morning, why it feels like a scalding ball of rage and disappointment has settled in my chest – but I still deeply care for the person this is about, regardless of the imbalance of energy we invest in each other, so I won’t.

I’ll leave it at this. I’ve waited months for a phone call, and the one I got wasn’t nearly as wonderful as I thought it would be. I did a happy dance in the middle of a crowded bar when I found out it was going to happen. I clutched my phone to my chest and beamed around the room whilst assuring the people I was with that I wasn’t getting in too deep, that we’re just friends, that my emotions were not dangling on the promise of a ringtone.

Then everyone around me got to see the heartbreaking plummet of my emotions from ecstatic to disappointed. There was no more happy jigs, my heart stopped clawing its way out of my chest, I stopped beaming and got angry. I’ve never been so angry at someone I care about so much. I never expected to be hurt by someone I put so much faith in.

Su sent me a message about it. She has a wonderful way with words and what she wrote to get me to stop crying made me weep like a small child. I’m talking big fat ugly tears, foetal position, howling.

Forgive her if it does the same to you.

You are so much.

Not too much, but so much.

You are light and rambunctiousness and serendipity with dashes of serenity. You are more than a horny slur at night when someone is too lazy to be decent any other time.

You are a muse. Worth more than dirty words in dark hours and worth more than just a thought.

You deserve the love of legions. And one man who has behaved so cruelly (it is cruel) does not deserve that honour. He doesn’t get to make you feel this way and then let you down so hard.

Darling, you’re more than this and even if he forgets, everyone else remembers. You need to remember that also.

I am so much. I give my time to the people I love. I would spare 10 minutes in the busiest of days if it meant I could add value to my favourite humans on this planet.

I have recieved an apology, it’s going to take time for me to sift through the carnage of the web I got caught in. I’m going to have to figure out how I expect people to treat me and the minutes I give them.

I am complex and caring and a light-stained street of emotions. I can’t afford to settle for less than I deserve.

Neither do any of you.

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I promise this time will be different.

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source: weheartit.com

I am not going to cry when you leave.

I know that’s what you’re expecting, I don’t blame you. All my actions leading up to this point have been emotionally raw. The last time you left we sat at the train station for 45 minutes with my head on your chest, trying to pull ourselves together.

I promise this time will be different.

When you leave, when I finally stop smelling your sweater, stop running my hands through your hair, stop leaning over to kiss you gently on the cheek; I will allow myself one minute to let despair catch up with me. I will clench my fists, breathe deeply and then choose to be happy.

I am going to miss you, my god, I am going to miss you. But as I’ve learnt, my dear, I can not afford to burden you with the responsibility of my happiness. You are a small part of my joy, but you are not the force holding me together. I am my own little hero, I am saving my own little heart.

When you leave, when I stop living in the golden haze that comes with you, I am going to continue studying for my test tomorrow. I am going to wake up early for class, celebrate my birthday with the people I love and read books that I will clutch to my chest, laughing until my breath stops.

When you leave I am still going to sprint down boulevards, yelling after all the devils I’m chasing. I am still going to dance around my bedroom to aggressive banjo solos and obscure bands. I am still going to grin maniacally at absurdities.

I am my happiness, darling. There may be a place for you in my ribcage, but I own my soul.

And my soul has decided to be euphoric.

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Filed under Romance or something like it

Sexual Harassment is not a joke, I’m not laughing.

body

Source: weheartit.com

When I was in high school my teacher redefined the terms “rape” and “sexual assault” to mean “a forced invasion of someone’s personal space” and everyone laughed. Of course we laughed, we were not yet 18, still living in loving, sheltered households and it was funny to walk too close to your friend and make a rape joke. What comedians, we didn’t know about the impact of our own naivety.

I went on to university, still not fully understanding the concept that lesson had placed before us, yet knowing that I needed to be wary that nothing of that definition ever happened to me. Since moving away from home, I’ve had to endure varying degrees of personal space invasion; men grabbing me in nightclubs, trying to steal kisses without even caring about my name, men standing too close to me at ATMs so I’ve had to yell at them to back off, one of my own contemporaries, drunk and needy – stroking the back of my neck and holding my waist, despite my protests that I didn’t want to be touched.

Society has taught me that as a single woman walking by myself to class that I need to carry pepper spray in my hand. It’s taught me to shrink away from groups of rowdy men in supermarket aisles or on the street. Watch your drink girl, don’t walk home at night, use your house keys as a weapon, be aware of your own weak, victimised and objectified body and what it does to sick men’s brains-because the way I dress is apparently now an invitation for someone to attack me.

And then it happened. In the broader sense of the definition of sexual assault, it happened- multiple times, yet I only recognised it for what it was at the last minute.

I went out with this person for drinks last week, simply because he’d been hounding me for months, having difficulty taking “no” for an answer and I was mad at someone who deserved it a little bit. We went out and he bought me drinks and I got drunk, then he tried to kiss me. I pushed him away the first time, he played it off like a joke and I went along with it. The second time I succumbed and then told him it was never going to happen again. I didn’t want it to happen again. I didn’t like it.

He assured me that it was a once off thing, he wasn’t going to try and kiss me again, he wanted us to stay friends. I went home early and didn’t tell my mother because I was scared of the look she’d give me.

“How could you be so stupid Harriet, going out for drinks with men you barely know and letting them kiss you when you weren’t so sure you wanted it? You idiot.”

I kept it a secret, put it in my pocket and went back to university.

Then he showed up, wanted to take me out lunch. I said okay because despite the slip up I liked his company, I had nothing else to do and I knew he’d hound me for months if I didn’t.

At lunch he made jokes about how attractive I am, how he only has 20 more days to “get with me” because when I turn 21 I won’t be the youngest he’s ever had, then he leant in to kiss my cheek.

I pushed him off, he said it was a joke, I wanted to go home, so he took me there.

This is when it gets scary, this is the part I keep reliving- bile rising in my throat every time I think about it.  When I said goodbye to him he said he wanted a kiss for good luck. I refused, told him I didn’t want to, but he held my face and did it anyway. I told him it counts as harassment, told him it was too far before he grabbed me from behind and pressed himself against me.

body 2

Source: weheartit.com

I’ve never pushed someone away so hard, walked so quickly through my gate and into safety, felt so confused – standing in my bedroom, trying to make my brain work.

“Sorry, the joke got out of hand” he texted.

What joke? It wasn’t a joke. Trusting this man with my company, having him abuse it, ignoring my no’s, invading my personal space to the point where I felt physically sick and uncomfortable. Where is the joke here?

I sat on my bed, texting various friends to make sure I wasn’t overreacting, that this wasn’t normal. And then I cried. For 2 hours I lay down and sobbed, feeling dirty and used. My best friend phoned me from Grahamstown, she knows how I feel, she understands how tainted a touch can become and how quickly intentions can turn sour. She let me cry into the phone, told me I was probably always going to carry a part of the incident with me- like a devil on my back.

I haven’t told my mom yet. I don’t know how to. She’ll read this post and phone me and I’ll probably cry all over again.

Everything has changed. I’ve started calculating people’s intentions, watching my back constantly, and if I go out at night I know I’ll see the shadow of him in every corner, behind every villainous smile and feel sick.

Assault is a spectrum, like most things in life. There’s no black and white- there’s a very real grey area that some people think is okay to cross into. In the broader scheme of things he didn’t touch me inappropriately, he didn’t place his hands anywhere deemed “private”. Yet I still feel dirty, waves of nausea come over me every time I picture this man’s face. I’ve received so many hugs and messages from the people who care, and they aren’t okay with what happened.

There’s something about this grey area that’s stripped me of my fearlessness. The girl who sees good intentions in everybody, who trusts so willingly played with matches and got burned.

This person has been blocked, from everything, from my life. If I ever see him again I will yell until the sky falls down. I will beat my fists and scream “no” until he and the rest of the world realises that abusing someone’s personal space like that is never okay, that sexual harassment is not a “joke”, no means no and I’m not playing around when it comes to my own safety.

I’m not laughing.

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Filed under So important

My god, please stay.

stars

My head’s a little fuzzy from all the positive reassurances I’ve been feeding myself since 11 last night. They’ve managed to fill my cranium with white noise, bumping into each other every few seconds, trying to squeeze themselves into tight spaces to make room for the demons who are hosting them.

Hello. It’s been a while. I’ve been busy, trying to fill my days with as much thought-numbing joy as possible before all the monstrous thoughts come back. I’ve been happy, so happy. I’ve shaken my fists at gremlins and run down stormy avenues in rain boots – shaking poetry out of my hair and out-sprinting every anxious pang I’ve ever held captive in my chest.

But happiness has a nasty bite. It roars and shakes it’s dreadful mane, daring me to beg it to stay.

My god, please stay.

I don’t want to be left alone with this terrible wave inside me, let me cling to you for a little longer.

I’ve had this pounding ache since 11 pm, a precariously explosive bubble of emotions that I’ve weighed down with an iron anchor.

Don’t you dare escape, do you want to expose us? Stay still and quiet, don’t erupt, don’t scream, don’t show him or anyone else how much you’re hurting. Shut up.

“I am spectacular, I am smart, I have worth, I am not falling apart, I am going to tackle this with the tenacity and stubbornness of a mother-freaking grizzly bear.”

No matter how this turns out, whether the raging winds and torrential rain tear me apart or leave me just a little battered- there is still life within my veins. I will rise, I will eventually thrive, I will guard my heart with an iron casket next time something like this happens because I can not afford to let hurricane emotions whisk me away again.

If you’re going to go, then go. But if you want to stay then please, please do.

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Filed under Brain Poetry