When I Grow Up…

First off, anyone who even thought about the Pussycat Dolls song when they read the title should get the f out (but you get an honorary highfive on the way out for trying).

When I was younger, I wanted to be a new thing every week. It was anything from an air hostess to a mountain goat (no, really.)

This topic came up in my mind as I was filling out a section of my UCAS form yesterday. For any of you not hailing from the land of A Levels, UCAS is basically the system through which we apply to university, kind of like a huge directory, if you like.

It sprung to my mind that I was making huge life decisions based on what I think I want now. What if that changes in the next year? What if I decide to make a U-turn and dedicate my life to the conservation of a rare species of potplant? I wouldn’t have the qualifications to do so, and I have therefore shut a series of doors that would take some serious legwork to reopen.


So it occurred to me that I’ve never really wanted to be just one thing. I wanted to be everything, and in that way I’m quite selfish (I’m sure there’s a Simone de Beauvoir quote in there somewhere…)

And I still don’t know.

I’m no closer to knowing who I want to be and what I want to do than when I wanted to be a spy when I was nine, or a koala when I was five.

Obviously now my dreams of transmogrifying into an small, furry animal have been dashed (goddammit!), but even then, decisions with such large ramifications are a daunting prospect.

I don’t like the idea of being confined to one, or even a small selection of things. I want to live an extraordinary life.

Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like I’m talking about fame and fortune and worldwide adoration. I don’t want that kind of burden. All I would ever desire is a life full of small, private freedoms and joys that, if I’m ever-so-lucky, I could share with others.

In an embarrassingly clichéd phrase, I want to live fast and free and wildly and deeply and I’m not sure if the world will let me. There are so many things I want to do (as can be seen on my bucket list) and getting them done seems… unlikely.

In all truth, I don’t like the prospect of growing old. It isn’t about the appearance, about youth or beauty or vanity.

In my mind, I see it almost like an ever-narrowing tunnel of prospects: as you grow older, the prospects become more sparse, you begin to lose options and the ability to choose or go back on your choices. I don’t want to be in the position of no prospects, being a burden to others around me.

Equally, I don’t want to have to fit into the parameters set for me by common expectation: school, A Levels, university, job, marriage, children, retirement, grandchildren, death. Charming, isn’t it?

Because of all this, and I haven’t expressed this anywhere but in my mind before, I can’t see myself living past my thirties. Again, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying I’m about to top myself. I’m saying that I don’t think that kind of life is for me.

I don’t want to live my life preparing. Education as a preparation for a job, a job for a promotion, a promotion for more money, more money to pay for children and a pension, preparing children for life, preparing to retire, retire to prepare for death.


No, fuck that.

That isn’t me.

I’d rather die having lived than fade away having survived.

I sound like a belligerent teenager right now, but I’ve never been more sure about anything.

I wasn’t cut out for ordinary.

So, what do I want to be when I grow up?

Well, it’s a bit of a cop-out, but I want to be free.

Just free.


My version of individuality.

My version of individuality was a compound of lesser quantities of perfection.

My less ideal version of individuality didn’t add up to inspiration. No one took my words as gospel. No person did seek me out, professing my brilliance. No critics acclaimed. No songs were sung of my legacy, no eulogies rasped through fake tears in cathedrals. No memory of whatever part of me that may have shone through the canopy of the majority and into the spaces of legends. No story to hold on to.

My less desirable version of individuality didn’t amount to love. No hearts were damaged on my behalf, no emotions altered, no heartstrings tugged. No fantasies constructed, my face as the protagonist. Love is a fleeting notion more transient than a breath of airspace already polluted with an abundance of false declarations of love.

My less intelligent version of individuality didn’t amount to a discovery. No theory was named of me; no institute established in my name. No page in a textbook remembering my actions, no momentous phenomena holding the origin of its moniker to my own.

My less tragic version of individuality didn’t conclude in misery. It had no hardship in its yarn, no struggle plagued the continuation of its tapestry. No shocking retelling to be sold to the sadistic masses as ‘entertainment’, no ‘true story’ placard to be brandished at the flyleaves of its tale. No real sadness tore its world to shreds.

My less attractive version of individuality was never a muse to greatness. It never stood apart from a crowd. None singled me out as the one blessed with a golden ratio. I never caught half an eye in my years — never would I have tried. Never was I given the chance of a second glance. The scenery claimed me, and the walls were my refuge where I bloomed and withered, always watching, waiting.

My version of individuality did not supersede any other, neither did it come below. My version was merely a version, separated by degrees from the next.

Conform!” they said. “Be normal!” they said. What is ‘normal’ if not a method of satiating the human urge to fit in?

I was contented with my version, my edition, my attempt at something exceptional, even if it did appear to fail.

Because, after all:

Imperfection is merely unappreciated individuality.



Knowing someone is a strange concept.

Knowing someone, by definition, is made up of direct interaction on a personal level to the point where you are familiar with them.

But you never really know anyone. All that you know are the things that are made obvious, like names, or occupations, or birthdays, or hobbies, or likes, or dislikes, or physical appearance.

These are fabrications, superficialities. You never get to know what a person is truly made up of; what they are at their core.

Knowing people can also be quite a disappointing experience. The once mysterious, unknown individual that could potentially bring a dramatic divergence in a life’s path turns out to be a regular human being like the rest, with the baggage, the flaws, the backstories.

I think this might be why I find an obscure kind of solace in being in large crowds of strangers. None of them know of my baggage, my flaws, my backstory, and I their’s. All they see is a uniform ocean of humans. It’s this kind of anonymity that I find comforting. A sort of transient freedom from the constraints of everyday that transforms me into a blank canvas to be drawn upon.

Then, in a way, anonymity is an anaesthetic to familiarity: it does not permanently eradicate the memories or the people that know, but it palliates the symptoms briefly; like rubbing a hand over a chalkboard, it blends the outlines, though the words are still present underneath. It blurs the colours for a while.

It makes the world liveable for a while.



This post was sparked by me reading an old diary of mine from a couple of years ago. I was leafing through it and it seemed alien to me, and yet distantly familiar; like seeing a postcard of a far-off country I’ve never visited but feeling a strange déjà-vu sensation anyway.

The diary accounts a time when I was in a low, low place. The world seemed grey and what colour remained inside me was slowly fading. Self-esteem was nonexistent in my mind, and whenever I looked in the mirror, all I felt was revulsion. I couldn’t fathom how I was worthy of friendship, worthy of love, worthy of life. I felt as if I was in some kind of dream state, experiencing a faint detachment from myself, wandering without purpose or cause.

And within me, somewhere beneath it all, my core felt like pure resentment: for others around me for not understanding; to myself for being so damn unworthy; to whatever ultimate being – if there be one – for making me as I was; to whatever inside me that was making me feel so angry. Every single minute stimuli felt so amplified that at times I wanted to implode; I felt like there was an infinite amount of matter squeezing itself into the finite space in my ribcage, pushing out until I wanted to tear down every single wall that surrounded me. But still, I felt empty. I felt cold. I felt utterly alone.

Whenever I tried to open up to someone, even my closest friends, it felt like there was a gulf between us. If someone said I know how you feel, I’ve been there too, that did not feel like consolation; I would never, never want anyone to feel like I did then. There didn’t seem to be anyone who could fully comprehend whatever was in my head, including myself.

There wasn’t a definitive point at which everything stopped being like this. I still have issues with myself a couple of years on. The truth is, it never gets better, you just learn how to deal with yourself as you are. The emotions that were once red raw dull themselves, like a bloody wound congealing. It never fully heals, the scar tissue will always be there (mentally and physically). And this is the ultimate cliché, but being in that state makes you more grounded as a person. The amount of perspective you gain is huge.

The main message, I guess, of this is that if anyone who is reading this feels even slightly like what I have clumsily and dumbly described, what you are feeling is not your fault. You are not unworthy. You are not inferior. You are not stupid, unattractive, undesirable, weak, childish or pathetic for going through this. This is you. You know yourself better than anyone, and somewhere, somewhere inside you there is a flicker of hope, a spark of something that you can draw on to stumble through this.

You’re doing okay. Just keep doing okay. Okay is good. Okay?




When someone asks you, “Who are you?”, how do you reply?

A name? An occupation?

But if that questioner could peel back the layers, the walls, the masks, and peer into your mind/soul/spirit, what would they find? Names and job titles are not branded on your brain, they are constructs created by humans to give themselves parameters for comparison.

So, who are you?

Are you a product of your experience? (This platitudinous phrase perpetually regurgitated by supposed ‘deep thinkers’ seems too clichéd to hold any actual sense of profundity, but the idea is still there.)

Or is a person defined by their actions? However, something I have come to learn is the fact that some individuals who present themselves as selfless are in fact only interested in ameliorating their self-image, and so this cannot be depended on as a measure of character from a third party’s perspective.

The point (to which I have taken an overly loquacious and circuitous route — sorry) is when I, myself, try to reflect my thoughts inward and deliberate on my own psyche, me as a human being, I draw a blank. I consider my experiences, I contemplate my actions, but nothing comes.

Simply put, I don’t know who I am.

Is this a symptom of the fatal condition called being a teenager, or is this something else?

Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

But where’s the joy in being normal, right?



This is something I’ve had tucked in my drafts for a while now, and I’ve only just had the courage to send it out into the wide world. I have no idea if it’s poetry, a monologue or a piece of crap, but I feel as if it should be thrown out there.

taking less time for myself
talking about
pipes and relative pipes
stars on your iris
dilated pupils
smoke inhalation
sleep deprivation
cave wall shadows
seeking eldorado
taking less time for
each time i try to try
to stay on feet and ground
that’s level
level up
walking high rise cities
low rise jeans
rebel by any means
taking out more time
than i have
left behind to stay
stay to grow away
apples and trees, falling
two seeds to go away
taking more love
than i have saved
growing to
leaning to
towards so-tolds
nebulous kaleidoscopic
visions of your façade
masqueraded gowns
cloak and needle street battle
taking more luck than i had
subsidiary entities
that you call ‘youth’
taking less care of myself each
sun’s rising
moon’s waning
trying to get my head on straight
straight and narrow
gone curves and open
curving of your silhouette
calling me ‘woman’
like my name has never
met your lips
taking less thought for
myself each day
mirrors are bending
my reflection is sending
shockwaves down
my spine
reading my body like open books
you leave like the others
rip pages out of me
taking less damns for the world
each day
fusty rooms
tobacco plumes
studying me
looking like you’re chewing jaborandi
taking less respect than i was told
when i was
taking more time
to find
the space in my mind
more than i can give
myself to be a stigma
to the world