Thursday, 29 January 2015

Prom queen

The crown they handed to me when I won Prom Queen felt kind of like my heart – weak and plastic. The glare of the lights burned, exposed every inch of my tired skin. But that’s all there was to see. Skin. The outermost layer of my body, the mask that I started wearing the day I entered into popularity and hadn’t taken off since – a way to shield everything that I was on the inside. It wasn’t a mask anymore. It was what I’d become. I was nothing more than a dark and empty hole with bronzed cheeks and silk strands of straightened hair. Empty because all of my energy had gone into making my name familiar, recognised for all the wrong reasons. Dark because I gave up everything that I once was. I gave up the paintbrushes, messy buns and Penguin classic paperbacks.

I gave it up for Friday nights being deafened by music that everyone pretends to like, a pathetic excuse to drown your sorrows in glass after glass and live through another night you won’t remember. When really, it’s your status you want to forget. I gave it up for red pom-poms and a crown that didn’t even fit. Or maybe it was me that didn’t fit. I might have moulded myself into the cookie cutter shape of a popular high school senior, the girl who holds the strings to control others like puppets, when she can’t even control herself. The girl who points and laughs at the outsiders, the ones with thick-rimmed glasses and gleaming metal braces who are too afraid to come to school when really, she’s no less afraid herself. I might have fit into popularity but I didn’t fit into who I was, who I wished I could be.  

I stood on the stage as Prom Queen, listening to the drone of the applause until it made my head ache. They thought they envied me. But all of the expensive makeup, branded clothes and endless party invitations, all of that was worthless. They envied what I was on the outside. Because on the inside, I was nothing. Dark and empty. Weak and plastic. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Guide to social media

Let me tell you one thing about social media. It’s all a lie.

It’s a black hole and you’re on the edge. And when you fall in, there’s no way out. It’s blinding. When you present yourself, be sure to be wearing a mask. Because God forbid you don’t add enough effects to a picture and actually reveal the ocean blue colour of your eyes. Don’t let them see the real you. That’s not what it’s about.

You might want to take the money you’ve saved and hidden in your sock drawer and spend it on the newest, most overpriced phone because, if your pictures are bad quality, you might as well not even try. Your thumb will ache from pressing and refreshing, your mind numb from constant comparison. Their life will always look better than yours.

And, remember, if your newest picture doesn’t reach one hundred likes, you might as well delete it. The embarrassment should be crimson on your face. Your video didn’t get enough views for society to let you be happy. You don’t deserve the pride. It has to be earned. Your self-worth will depend on the comment with the most emojis and the number of followers you have will roll off the tip of your tongue you’ve checked it that many times. It’s what matters most, right?

It’s all about the image, the mask you wear, the way that people view you is more important that who you are. This is your life now. This is it. You’ve fallen in. You’re trapped. And, before you know it, you’ll forget everything that you once were and will be living a life that will guarantee you the artiest picture. How many likes did you get?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tick tock

So, here’s the thing. Life doesn’t start the minute you leave high school. That diploma isn’t a key that opens the cage to let you run wild and chase the dreams you’ve let cloud your head and blur your vision. Your life started years ago. Stop wasting it. Stop wishing away the weekdays, eyes fixed on the clock, waiting for the moment you can drown your stresses in alcohol. The only thing ticking away is your life. Stop counting down the days and start making the days count. Stop hating on Sundays, sinking under the covers into a dream that seems to outweigh your reality. Start living that dream. Wake up. Get out of bed. Breathe through sunrises, eat chocolate for breakfast, step on a bus you’ve never heard of before and get lost in the magic of it all. Lose who you used to be and find someone better. Look for inspiration where you never saw it before and you might find something that makes your skin tingle. A sign that your heart craves. Grasp Monday mornings as if they were your last because, one day, they just might be. Don’t wait. Don’t wait to graduate, don’t wait for the day that someone else nods to give you permission to start feeling like you’re alive. Because that day won’t come. And, before you even have time to blink, you’ll be drowning in sterile sheets and x-rays and countless appointments where doctors tell you that time is running out. The ticking is getting faster. And you’ll bite your tongue to force back the tears and silence the voices that are screaming that you should have done it sooner. Your life started years ago. When are you going to start living it?  

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Broken strings

It was 3am when his slurs and stumbles sounded. He was early tonight. Mum’s lonely snores echoed through the tired walls of the house. My mind wouldn’t let me sleep. Words caught in my throat, song lyrics I’d lined countless notebook pages with, thoughts that seemed only meaningful enough for the depths of the night. I let go of my guitar within seconds. A few seconds too late. He’d heard.

“What did I tell you about your dumb music?” His words were knives slicing through me. My heartbeat accelerated with his footsteps. Vodka lined his breath, his eyes red as the blood that stained his left cheek. I closed my eyes but couldn’t avoid the way my body shook beneath the covers. They couldn’t protect me. Nobody could.

My vision blurred as he reached for the guitar. Pieces of wood flew through the air as if they were meaning to escape. I wished I could. The final strums of the strings echoed against my bed frame as the instrument shattered. I wanted to scream, but Mum did that for me. Evil burned through his fiery eyes. “Now I’ll never have to hear this sound again.”

I watched him rip the songs I’d spent hours writing, bleeding tears about his absence, his alcoholism. I lost myself in the words like he lost himself in bottles. I only wrote songs about him. Because there was a part of me, a part smaller than the guitar picks I hid in my t-shirt drawer, that was still hopeful. Hopeful he’d realise, hopeful he’d change. Hopeful he’d choose his family, he’d choose me. But, in that moment, when splinters of my guitar dotted the floor and his laugh deafened my tears, I lost all hope for my father.  

Friday, 2 January 2015


Other people are not medicine. They should have told me that before I found myself drowning in your words, craving the compliments you spoon-fed me with. They didn’t sound like lies when you said them.

It was January when I fell in love with you. March was when I realised I needed you. I needed the rasp of your voice to force me out of bed, to prise off the cover that I used to hide from my reality. I needed the twinkle in your eyes to guide me through the darkness that would otherwise consume me. You became my anti-depressants, the pills that burned through my body, ignited a fire inside of me that I thought could never go out.  

But it did. It went out when you left me standing alone on that bitter November night, suffocated in thick layers but naked inside. Empty. My bones were weaker than your apologies. And that twinkle that used to keep me going, you let it shine for someone else. I fell into a black hole when you left me, sunk deeper than the scars that wound their way up my wrists, around my ankles.

I wound up in hospital weeks later, echoes of pills and broken vodka bottles piercing my mind. You weren’t holding onto me anymore, so I didn’t need to either.

It’s been a year since the night I woke up to Mum’s cries of relief. You’re alive, she sobbed into the sterile white sheets. And I am. For the first time I can breathe. Alone. Without you.

I thought I needed you. I thought I needed a hero. Someone who could save me from myself, shield me from my own thoughts. It took me seventeen years to realise that the only person who could do that was me. Other people are not medicine. You shattered the glass I’d been made out of, but you couldn’t pick up the pieces to put me back together. I could. And I did.