Someday; A Change is Gonna Come.

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When I heard this prompt, the first thing that came into my head was Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’. This song reduced me to tears when I first heard it when I was young and it still remains a poignant and important message. My dad’s always been an activist and from a young age, I too was involved in marches and protests. My views aren’t perfect and I don’t believe I am ever able to comprehend the struggle some people go through. 2016 was a shitty year. I think that’s a relatively universal viewpoint. Going into 2017, my white privilege continues to protect me. The rise of the right puts us back to square one where we need to fight again to give the voiceless a voice. There has been so much pain and helplessness. It’s easy to think that a change someday is an unobtainable goal but someday, that day, is ours to make. In a time where the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, black lives are still not protected and members of the LGBT+ society are still victims of hate crimes it’s crucial that we stay hopeful.

Maybe 2017 will be the year of change but maybe not. Someday things will change and it’s not impossible. Hope is stronger than fear and hate. Trump, Brexit and the Alt-Right will change this world in unimaginable ways but it is not irreversible. It won’t be easy and good doesn’t always win but together, we are strong. I promise you now someday, as Sam Cooke once sang, “A change is gonna come, oh yes it will.”

via Daily Prompt: Someday Someday

Someday; A Change is Gonna Come.

#ProjectLiteracy

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I was recently catching up with my missed youtube videos when an advert popped up on my screen. I must admit, I’m normally a fast skipper when it comes to adverts. However, this one completely captivated me and by the time I had finished watching I was eager to get involved. Project Literacy is, as stated on their website, “a global movement convened by Pearson to make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy so that all people – regardless of geography, language, race, class, or gender – have the opportunity to fulfil their potential through the power of words.”

I have been in a position of privilege for the majority of my life: I am white, middle class and come from a comfortably well-off family. However, I still do struggle with my own experience of oppression in terms of sexuality, mental health etc. and I truly cannot imagine not having literature as a crutch. Representation is something I think is truly crucial to have a functioning and well-run society. I’m studying Comparative Literature at University and getting the opportunity to read widely for a degree is my ideal. Books have the power to change lives. I know this because they’ve changed mine and the idea that someone could miss out on that simply because of their race, language, geography, class or gender is saddening. Project Literacy are pushing for a change to not only literacy rates but the wider state of literacy in general.

I’m in the position where my local library is only 10 minutes down the road and due to the internet, everything is easily accessible but this isn’t the case for everyone. There are over 757 million people in the world (and the number grows) who can’t read and therefore are outcasted from a society that increasingly relies on being able to read. It is seen as being a flaw and a trait of being unintelligent however if you don’t offer people the tools, how are they expected to reach their potential.

Project Literacy really is a great project to back. It’d be great if you could help in any way you can, there are volunteer opportunities all over the world, donation pages and infographics to share on social media. Here’s their website if you’d like to get involved: https://www.projectliteracy.com.

 

#ProjectLiteracy

The Benefits of the Library  

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With libraries becoming more and more equipped, it’s time to accept that they are moving with us into the new age. Numerous computers are installed, millions of research pages are only a click away and of course, the original USP remains the books. Personally, one of my favourite things about the library is the silence. While that sounds relatively sinister, it can be really hard to study in peace at home or even at a university library. There are a large amount of people that come purely to have a sheltered chat with their friends, which I have been guilty of myself but now library’s have introduced ‘Quiet’ or ‘Silent’ floors, you are guaranteed a place to work to your heart’s content. Also, there are now numerous cafes built inside libraries so you do not even have to leave the building in order to get a caffeine fix!

Another great aspect is the installation of computers, printers and photocopiers. I will never forget the fateful few days of no electricity in my house where I felt like a cavewoman searching for a meaning to life beyond having wifi. The library was my beacon of hope for studying and gave me the opportunity to work efficiently and in warmth. I also don’t own a working printer, so the 5p sheets of paper are what get my essays in on time.

I’ve heard arguments that libraries are now obsolete. This argument back and forth has been happening for some time and while I understand that we are taking a massive leap into a world with smart watches, robots and holographs, libraries still have a valid place in society. They have tried their best to remain modern and accessible to the masses which is what libraries have always tried to do. They offer a place of shelter, not just for printerless people like me but for people who are looking for jobs, for homeless people to sit in warmth and for people to meet and plan events in the local communities. Libraries are staples in our society. They encourage us to read and to educate ourselves further. They open their doors to anyone and everyone. Places like this in society need to be treasured and appreciated not replaced in order to make room for another Starbucks or fancy Apple Store.

I’ve not always been loyal to my library (the fines were a low point, okay!) but from being eight years old and feeling ecstatic that I could borrow books to spending hours upon hours studying for exams in my late teens, the importance of the library has always been evident to me. We should all try and support our local libraries a bit more.

The Benefits of the Library  

Falling Out of Love With Writing.

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Sometimes I feel as though I have words spilling out of every crevice and at other times, I revel in my safety with academic writing as I don’t truly have to give all of myself to it. I reckon 10-year old me wouldn’t be able to comprehend this sensation. It’s a completely foreign feeling to stare at a page for days willing myself to simply write something I enjoy. I wonder if it’s the case of losing my writing voice, whether the mix between reviews, blog posts and academic writing has merged into one big mess of words.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who spoke about feeling this too. That often school can squash imagination in the most terrifying of ways. We spoke about whether you can ever truly get it back. I think we both are so in love with literature and language that the thought that we can’t access or understand it anymore is frightening. A lot of this has to do with being busy and often, during times of stress, you lose sight of what is important to you.

I know this is important. My words often feel like my defining factor and if I don’t feel as though they represent me, I worry I don’t know who I am. Also, in September I will be embarking on a literature degree which has been my dream since I was 14. I hope I will be able to find the balance between learning to love words again through blog-posts and poetry and exceling at academic writing. There’s something therapeutic in writing for me and the thought of not having that crutch is scary.

I’m not entirely sure how I become the writer I was last year, last month or even last week. I don’t think I ever can. But that loss doesn’t have to be a negative. Yes, I feel nostalgia and a little bit of pain but the change could ultimately be good. I am not 16 year old me anymore and my writing parallels my growing up.

I do feel as though I have lost my way but I don’t believe it’s irretrievable. There are golden moments where I truly think I’ve stumbled upon writing that sums me up. I’m making the conscious choice to work for this. Poetry prompts and all. I think that’s the most important part. To work for this. I stumbled upon a quote that said “If it’s really true love, it will find a way to come back to you.” but this, this I am willing to chase.

Falling Out of Love With Writing.

The Media’s Attack on Teenage Girls

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I remember listening to the radio shortly after the One Direction ‘break’ was announced and the first thing I heard was a woman telling parents of fans how to approach the situation with their children. It completely and utterly moved me. This woman spoke compassionately, sincerely and with the upmost respect about the aftermath of news like this coming to light. There was no mockery in the broadcast but simply information and advice.

As a young woman, the first thing that sprung to my head when I heard this was that it was strange not to be under attack. Normally, these reports begin and end with ‘hysterical’, ‘crazy’ ‘obsessed’ etc and focus mainly on demonising and mocking things that young women relate to or like. I feel that I face the media’s perception of young women with a relatively thick coat of armour. I have witnessed every form of ridicule in relation to things that young women like. It’s easy to feel as though there is no way to win with stereotypes ranging from being One Direction obsessed to being glued to our front cameras. The odds are undoubtedly stacked against us.

I was only about fourteen when I realised that the media wanted me to believe that being a teenage girl was inherently a flaw. I sat surrounded by my posters, nail kits and CDs and wondered if I was simply a stereotype. I thought about whether it would matter if I was outgoing or smart if the first thing people saw when they met me was my boyband hoodie. The truth is, I did fit the stereotype perfectly and that’s why the media’s portrayal of the teenage girl is so damaging. It is so easy to fit into the stereotype if you are surrounded by the culture of being a 21st century teenager and therefore there is no escaping that sinking feeling that you are the punchline in every joke. This is still true today. It still aggravates me that the first thing I feel when I listen to someone speak of teenage girls compassionately is shock.

How long will teenage girls be the punchline of every joke? The truth is: I don’t know. I personally believe that a large proportion of the aggressiveness towards teenage girls stems from people feeling threatened. If they think something should inherently be beneath them, then viewing the teenage girl as anything more as a punchline is difficult. For some, the thought of the teenage girl being three diminutional is terrifying. The idea that someone can be smart, funny, successful and still love boybands is seen as a myth.

The teenage girl, as a force, is extraordinarily under-appreciated. There is a really wonderful quality that runs throughout all the things that young women are ‘crazy’ about and that’s love. An unabashed, pure and loyal love. This shouldn’t be made out to be a weakness. Instead, it is, and continues to be, a real strength in learning how to be compassionate and understanding about the world around you. Boybands give the chance for young girls to grow and prosper with the help of a love that won’t let them down.

And when it feels like it does? When they feel like they need somewhere to turn? They can switch on the radio and listen to someone validating their feelings with every ounce of respect they deserve.

The Media’s Attack on Teenage Girls

Is Halloween the New Christmas?

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Here we are again: neck-deep in the Halloween spirit as skeletons truly come out of closets and sweet bowls begin to get filled to the brim. Halloween, for me, has always been the holiday to beat. The ghost stories, the costumes and of course, the sweets always created a sense of enchantment for me. The whole month of October is encompassed with holiday cheer. So this is my list of my top seven favourite things about Halloween.

1. The Movies

While Miracle on 34th Street may be a tear-jerker, nothing has yet to beat ‘Hocus Pocus’ for holiday film. It continues to scare the life out of me every single year. It follows the story of three reincarnated witches who are brought about when a young boy tries to win the girl of his dreams. It’s frightening yet humorous and about as scary as I will go with movies. Definitely one to watch!

2. The Costumes

It’s time to admit that no matter the age, there’s something oddly freeing about braiding a black wig and claiming to be Wednesday Adams. Not only do you get to dabble in homemade costumes, you get to see the creations of others and of course, the real prize: the dog costumes.

3. The Jokes

“Why did the Ghost go to the pub?” “He was looking for BOOs”  Do I need to say more?

4. Carving Pumpkins

I reckon there’s not many things that are as satisfying as unleashing your inner Picasso  while carving a Jack-O Lantern. Your friends will all look green-eyed as you carve Starry Night across the orange base. Or, more likely in my case, laugh as your Jack-O Lantern looks more like a failed lesson in primary shapes.

5. The Sweets

As the big supermarkets stock up on their fun-sized chocolate bar collection, there’s truly nothing better than collecting mass amounts of them to stock up for Halloween. Also, the next day is discount sweets galore!

6. Trick-or-Treating

While I’ve sadly just outgrown the acceptable age to knock on people’s door begging for sweets, the whole idea of trick-or-treating is a really lovely one. You get to swap smarties for bad jokes (a true weakness of mine) and also get to see other people’s costumes. I remember once when I was younger, I went trick-or-treating to the students next door. One guy, rather intoxicated, opened the door with a grin and gave us all £5 after we sang our song. It was a complete and utter success! However, I’m guessing it was probably something he regretted the morning after.

7. The Parties

Halloween parties are always really fabulous! They are, undoubtedly, the only place you can walk into a room and see Chewbacca and Marilyn Monroe having a chat. The themes are always really inventive and it truly gives you the chance to scope out which one of your friends isn’t afraid to go all out when it comes to fun.

While I do love Christmas, with the promise of presents, I do feel that Halloween is a holiday that encompasses much more fun. You get to do numerous things that wouldn’t be entirely acceptable if it wasn’t October and who really needs Santa when you have Jack-O Lantern anyway?

Is Halloween the New Christmas?

Celebrity Culture: Death, Addiction and Mental Illness

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As the news poured in about the death of Terry Prachett this year, I sat in silence as I mourned the loss of someone I’ve never seen beyond a picture on a screen. I’ve never read Terry Prachett’s books but he was always a man I admired from afar after seeing his documentary on Euthanasia and yet I still feel shaken up from his death. Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson in popular Fox TV show Glee, died in 2013 and I remember that day vividly. I remember feeling like I’d lost a sense of youth and innocence as I’d eternalised their characters. It can be hard at times to remember that celebrities are simply human and therefore things like addiction, mental illness and death still happen to them. The fact that we sometimes have to be reminded of this  is definitely unhealthy though and increasingly the attitude of putting a celebrity on a pedestal has shattering effects for both the celebrity and their fans.

I want to focus in on mental illness in particular as it is a major thing the mainstream media and a large proportion of the general public seem to forget exists in celebrities. Often, even after someone has spoken out about their experience with mental illnesses, they still get copious amounts of abuse and insults thrown at them. There is a certain idea that they should uphold the image of being ‘perfect’ and ‘pure’ and to admit that, like every human being, they have bad days is not allowed. The mania surrounding some celebrities at times can seem overwhelming even if you’re simply watching it from a youtube screen and the thought of your every move being watched and analysed makes my skin crawl. When you pair that with not being allowed to speak out about it in fear of being seen as ‘ungrateful’, you create a society packed full of celebrities who are at breaking point. If you look closely, the life they live is not all that glamorous and luxurious. For example, countless singers and bands say that when they come back from touring, they find it incredibly hard to adjust to everyday life and it is not easy to fall back into a routine. It also must be exhausting and yes, while the idea of traveling around the world sounds glorious, a lot of them will not see much but the back of a tour bus. From being sexually harassed to stalked, numerous celebrities have faced some really arduous situations and then had to relive them through the lime-light as wide-eyed spectators gawked at them.

I’m treading carefully with the topic of celebrity culture as I do believe we all play a key part in the dehumanising of these people from the top companies that manage them to the fans that buy into the mania. Also, Social media completely breaks the barriers down when it comes to interaction between the celebrities and the fans. For some, it can make them feel like they can say or do anything to their idol because they’re only a tweet away and reinforces a level of “friendship” rather than simply idolising.

It’s a vicious cycle. We believe an image that is sold to us, an untainted palatable image, and when the humanity shines through and the person we thought was perfect turns out to be flawed, we shame them mercilessly in the media. Furthermore, we don’t often think of the effect of the image projected on the celebrity instead reckon that we know them because we follow their Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat religiously.

It’s easy to be surprised when something like this happens, Amy Winehouse in 2011, Cory Monteith in 2013 and Terry Prachett in 2015, because we believe we see these people purely as they are. However, we have one image and more often that not, it is exactly the image the media or professionals want us to have. I mourned Cory Monteith because it was a shame he died young, it was a shame his girlfriend was hounded by paparazzi where a smile was written about poisonously and a frown was met with aggressiveness, it was a shame he had a problem with drugs. It always is. However, I do not believe I mourned Cory: the man his family, his friends and his other half knew. It’s confusing and hard to grasp especially because society is positioned in a way where automatically these people are idolised and placed upon a pedestal.

I suppose this plays a part in the bigger discussion of Celebrity Culture in the modern day which could go on for pages and pages but quite simply my overall view is neatly summed up by a John Green quote: “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person” and it is. It truly is.

Celebrity Culture: Death, Addiction and Mental Illness