Sunday, 28 June 2015

On your own

They say that all we need is somebody to lean on. But be sure that when that person pulls back, you’re still standing. On your own.

Stop relying on others to determine your worth. You don’t need their winks or smiles or compliments to convince you that you can make it for a little while longer.

Let your own words convince you, instead. Be your own hero.

Take this world into the palms of your hands and hold tighter than you ever have. Grip on to the mountains and let the desert sand slip through your fingers. Let the rivers run down your arms and breathe in the ocean air until your lungs are reminded of how much they like the taste of this little thing that people call life. It can be quite nice sometimes.

Beautiful, even.

As you hold this planet, try lifting it up over your head because, guess what? You’re strong enough. Even if you forgot to go to the gym last week and lied about it because you were too embarrassed to admit that you mess up sometimes. Swallow the guilt, because we all do. And whenever you need a second chance, or a third, or a fourth, don’t wait for others to give it to you. Give it to yourself.

So I know this life might not look so beautiful right now, and I know that the stars might not sparkle quite as bright as you wished for them to, but you are still you. You’re the same skin and the same bones and the same birthmarks, dimples, and freckles. And your smile is as bright as it has ever been. The soles of your feet can carry you anywhere, climb to the highest peaks and the lowest levels, take you places you’ve always longed to go but never imagined that you could. Not on your own.

Because all those compliments you thrive off of, they mean nothing unless you let them, unless you listen.

So let the sun peel your eyes open in the early mornings. Switch your phone off for the day. Disconnect. Take yourself to a hidden coffee shop and sink into the armchairs; let your worries drift away with the thick espresso smoke. Hear the chatter around you, but don’t listen. Concentrate on your own thoughts instead. They’re more powerful. Go on a walk, lose yourself. Alone. At night. Paint constellations across the skies and let them guide you for a while. Clear your mind to make room for new plans, new goals, dreams that you’ve never felt you deserved to have. But you do.

And you always did.

Friday, 26 June 2015


It was 4:12pm when I got the phone call. The nurse’s voice was heavy, but unwrinkled, as if she knew everything that she had to say and didn’t question how best to say it because she’d done it that many times. And if there was ever a contest, if a sick-minded madman ever decided to organise a contest for the best bad news giver, I think that nurse might just get the gold.

But, it wouldn’t be a fair victory. Because see, there is no “best” way to tell someone that their brother was in a car accident, no matter how many apologies you weave into the words. There is no winning way to talk about someone’s life slipping through their own fingers – lost. 


As her voice faded, I lay down and kept every one of my numb limbs as still as possible. I pretended that if I didn’t move, time wouldn’t either. And I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I never told my brother how proud I was of him, of the person he’d become. Not because of his basketball career or his fancy car I couldn’t even pronounce the name of, but because of him. His selflessness, his charm. His determination to be the best possible version of himself, and the way he inspired me to do the same. He never knew, and he’d never know.  

Say what you want to say because, before you even realise, it will be too late. You’ll be laying your left cheek on a damp pillow and you’ll wish on every silver star for another chance. And you might think you’re safe because good things deserve to happen to good people, but this world doesn’t always work out that way. Time, it runs out. Fast.

So speak. 

Tell the girl with the thick rimmed glasses and a nose dotted with freckles that she is everything you’ve ever desired and watch her cheeks crimson at the words. Say thank you to the bus driver, and to the shopkeeper, and to your high school history teacher. Save a thank you for your mother for not only bringing you into this world, but teaching you how to live in it because, I’m pretty sure that without her, you wouldn’t have a clue how. Swallow the self-pride and stretch your tongue to tell the teenage boy in line behind you at the supermarket that the twinkle in his emerald eyes is breathtaking because, after the day he’d had, such a compliment would help to swerve the knife away from his wrist. Words can save people, you know.

If they’re spoken.

Don’t wait. Don’t wait until it is a second away from being too late; don’t wait for snow white hospital sheets and tear stained funeral parlours. Don’t wait for the nurse’s phone call. Don’t wait for the air to thicken as the world tilts a little to the left and then a little to the right and your head feels like it’s about to explode with all those words you left unsaid. Say them. 

Monday, 1 June 2015

"Do you eat?"

Once upon a time, “skinny” was a compliment. It was a word I longed to be directed towards me, one that lit the spark of self-worth inside of my exhausted body, as if “skinny” was synonymous with “worthy”. “Skinny” would tell me I’d made it, “skinny” would be the pat on the back, the hi-five, the certificate I’d always wished I could deserve.  

Not anymore.

“You’ve gotten so skinny,” they say – a dangerous fire burning through their eyes, a gaze sharp enough to scratch my bones. And as they purse their lips together, I can hear the words they’re holding in. She must be anorexic, the voices echo through my ears. She’ll probably throw up that sandwich she’s eating. Their words, or lack of them, are needles piercing through my suddenly too transparent skin. They wait for a while and, with a condescending laugh, ask “do you eat?”

“I do a lot of exercise,” I open my mouth but the words seem worthless. Just like me. Their bitter judgements are heavy metal music, deafening the ringing of my alarm clock at 7am on a Sunday when any normal teenager drowns in a swirl of sheets and dreams and I am tying up my running shoes because I want to have a reason to be proud of myself. Their eyes are blind to the platefuls of vegetables, the carrots I learnt to roast and boil, the ingredients I go out and buy to avoid my mother’s idea of a Wednesday night meal: McDonald’s. Their superficial smiles are shadowed with the assumption that starving yourself is the sole option when the thought had never even crossed my mind.

Not for a second.

And the brisk morning runs and the grass green smoothies and the extra push up when my arms felt about ready to snap seemed to vanish into air that hung heavy - tainted, just like the handful of pride I’d worked so hard to save. Because the come on, believe in yourself doesn’t mean quite so much when no one else believes in you.

“Skinny” used to feel like it would be a compliment. Once upon a time.