Failure

Writing 101: Your Personality on the Page

What am I scared of?

Failure. Feeling like I have failed myself, or-even worse- others. I have always been one of those people that tries to please everyone. I used to get upset when things went wrong, when I caused a problem, when someone didn’t like me. But I have learned that some things you can’t control; you can’t expect everyone to like you! Still, I can’t help but feel like I have to make it up someone that doesn’t seem to like me.

When I say failure, I don’t mean little mistakes or accidents. I can cope with that. I mean flaws that were caused by me, that give me the responsibility for a downfall. I fear failure because of pressure to succeed. And it’s mainly from myself. My parents were never pushy or pressuring, or even that strict. Whenever we got reports at school, my mum would laugh because she didn’t need to put any pressure on me to do well-I always pressured myself. And I did do well. I’m one of those dark horses, always in the top set/class but quietly forgotten, until I shock everyone on results day. Nobody knows that to do so well I did so much revision my eyes spun, I went through several meltdowns and didn’t see my dad for months.

It’s not just school, though. I tend to be a perfectionist in most of the things I do. My idea is that if you do something, you have to give it meaning, and that usually means working hard. One of the reasons I love writing is because there are no right answers; you are free to express yourself with only the barriers you set yourself.

Fear dictates my confidence level. When I feel I have failed something or someone, it convinces me I am not good enough. I fall to a low that takes up to weeks and months to get out of. This is a vicious circle, making me fear failure even more because I don’t want to lose MORE confidence.

I used to have a huge fear of forgetting the memories I had spent my life making. Part of that fear was being a worrier, and I mean a really big worrier. I used to worry about every little thing. I’m not as bad now, but of course, I’m a teenager-there are plenty of things I worry about.

Growing up scares me, too. This time next year I will be seventeen. I could be driving. I will be applying for the university that I have visited and picked. I will have done my AS level exams. Some of my friends will be turning eighteen. It’s scary enough thinking a year ahead, never mind any further! I don’t know what I want to do with my life when I leave school. All I know is that I want to write.

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How I Cope With Stress: Exams

It’s the night before an important event: a big exam, a major presentation, your wedding. How do you calm your nerves in preparation for the big day?

I’ve had a lot of nerves to cope with this year: 21 exams, a speech at prom to around 250 people, doing a summer program with new people I’d never met before, starting sixth form. So, I can say that I have developed a few different ways of coping with stress the night before. Most of these ideas are for during an exam season.

For each exam, I would compile a summary of all the notes at least a week before the exam, and I would spend no more than half an hour reading through these notes the night before the big day. This seemed to reassure me that I had learned everything, as each point I went over I would think ‘oh, I know that!’. Any more reading would make me worry and panic that I hadn’t revised enough (when I REALLY had!).

I must admit that I didn’t do this enough, but going for runs or walks really helps to physically deal with nerves, or any negative emotion. I don’t have a bike, but bike rides are just as good for you. Don’t overdo it, though, 10-15 minutes a couple of times a week is fine.

Staying healthy always helped me because it gave me a positive attitude, which made me more confident in myself. So, I like to have smoothies and try to stick to 5-a-day. A lot of people my age don’t have breakfast, and it is something I still struggle with, but forcing myself to eating something, anything, rather than nothing at all often helps. Attempting to do exams or the like running on no energy is going to be really hard, so I think this is one of the most important tips.

But, in terms of the night before, eating a filling dinner means you’re more likely to sleep well. A treat like chocolate or biscuits can’t hurt either, and is a nice comfort to help relax. I usually go for cheesecake, ice cream or Oreos.

A long bath soak with a book or music, or both, always seems to help me. I usually do this before I go to bed because I feel relaxed so I’m less likely to stay up worrying.

Doing something you enjoy can distract you from nerves. Personally, I write in my journal or a blog post, watch youtube videos or TV, read and listen to music.

I learned that during the exam season, you have to be selfish. Friends become a lower priority, and that’s ok because you have plenty of time in the holidays to make up for not seeing them as much. My advice is to avoid social media, especially Facebook the night before an exam. Talking to people in the same situation can stress you out more if they are struggling to cope. Also, don’t feel like you have to reassure everyone else; just focus on yourself. This is what I mean about being selfish. It’s not being mean, it’s just allowing yourself to do the best you can, which is what you deserve.

Though, if you’re feeling so nervous that it’s making you upset you must talk to someone. Let it out to a family member, teacher or a friend. Make sure you don’t suffer in silence if nerves are severely affecting you.

Getting a good night’s sleep is often really hard to do because nerves keep you up, but it’s vital to do well the next day. So, some light exercise like I mentioned is good to wear you out a bit, so you’re more sleepy. Then, I like to listen to music for a while and read in bed. It’s very tempting, but going on phones or laptops makes you less likely to sleep because of the white light. If I want to do that, I try and finish browsing the internet or whatever earlier in the evening. I read until I feel pretty tired and then I turn off the light and try to go to sleep. If I’m honest, this doesn’t always work and I lie awake for a while. But reading before is better than spending hours lying awake, stressing about the next day.

Often thoughts that keep you up at night are negative and depict the worst case scenario. Tell yourself this and focus on something else. I usually try to imagine a happy, peaceful scene, like an ideal holiday or an event I’m looking forward to.

I hope this helps anyone with a big day coming up!

Was that really four years ago?

Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths

Branches and leaves, spiders and ants.I’d found a little haven, tucked behind the shed. A faded plastic ledge offered a small, but welcoming seat to be concealed by the thick tangles of bush.

Past the shed and it’s belly of books-which seemed to always be over fed- was the tiny garden. A circle of grass and pebbles and a neat little stack of potted herbs. Only just enough space for three cartwheels. Maybe a couple of handstands.

The sloped roof with my bedroom window jutting out mirrored the rest of the street. Inside, my cabin bed only just managed to fit in my minute room, with a little space on the floor for me to lie and contemplate life and existence. One of my favourite twelve year old pastimes.

My bedroom used to belong to a baby, with thick wooden shelves, designed for nursery rhyme books, and little wardrobe handles to match the walls, which had been painted over in lilac at my request.

My next favourite place was the loft. Though horribly cold, it was the only place where I could get lost for hours with my dollhouse. No, I didn’t ‘play’. I decorated, I planned, I organised, until I would have been the top interior designer of the doll house world.

The long, laminated floors of the living room, although unknown to my twelve year old self, would be the space for hours of blanket gliding at Christmas time. And the front garden home to a trampoline, which would eventually be eaten away by ice and rust. Years of laughing in the dining room at my sister’s face covered in spaghetti. The wall of photos smiling at me in black and white would accumulate more and more of my smiles.

In the small village, a bus journey from the world of school; a walk from my best friend’s house and a an even shorter walk to the shop. And in the shop was over-priced chocolate. Chocolate!

After-school Sherbet

Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.

Clusters of schoolchildren swamped in the greens, blues, blacks and whites of their uniform huddle around the string of shops. The buzz of chatter is like the low-pitched rumble of a swarm of bees. Sherbet-coated smiles reveal blue-tinged tongues and the children delve into their edible treasures. Bikes lie at awkward angles, looking almost broken, awaiting their owners’ return. But as the crescendo of chatter arrives, bikes are forgotten amid the gossip. A few slumped shoulders enter the shop alone. Probably looking for something to perk up their senses. Tired, or sad, lonely or just alone, the contrast between their solitary silence and the buzz of buddies slices the groups apart.

Lips are licked, blue faded from tongues, and an abrupt urgency arises. Fluttering, the crowds disperse. Bikes regain their pose as noble steeds to the green-shirted gentlemen. Thoughts of tea and homework and football practice emerge in the young minds, quickening their pace. And within minutes the clusters are gone. The shops look bare with just a sparse collection of passers-by. Weary signs flop from age and posters on the windows tremble in the breeze.

Just Writing-Discoveries

I have discovered a few things today. First is that I am finding it very difficult to be an optimist. I feel like the pessimistic side of me is tearing me up and today it ruined my state of mind.

A levels are hard. I properly understood why people say there is a jump between GCSEs and A levels. It’s not a jump. It’s a leap over a gorge with only one leg. As you can tell, I need to work on my analogies.

I need to work on a lot of things, I feel. When I imagined starting sixth form, I saw myself striding in wearing a pretty outfit, scribbling away in notebooks and enjoying the free periods. Well, no. I can only blame myself, but every day I have felt self conscious and ugly about my clothes, my makeup or my hair. I even bought myself some expensive makeup brushes to cheer myself up and so I could do my makeup better. Then, in lessons I have begun to feel weak and useless. There is a simple answer to all of this; not to care, or to put it even more simply, not give a shit. But as usual, I care too much. I give too many shits (metaphorically speaking, of course). How can I change the way I think without changing my personality?

Basically, I feel inadequate. I keep getting stuck in the frame of mind that whatever I do, it will never be enough. Trying to do homework and revision while feeling like that is just impossible. So I’ve climbed into my bed with my laptop and am listening to upbeat songs. It’s kind of worked. I think that hopefully, if I get a good night’s sleep tonight and don’t dream about someone trying to murder me, I will wake up and start afresh with a better outlook on the day.

So there you have it. My feelings, my thoughts poured out. I think I might do this more often because I am starting to feel better already.