In which I try to recall my first visit to the Circus

I can’t remember much of my first visit to the Circus. I can’t remember what we saw or where we sat, I don’t know if there was one particular act that I was amazed by.

I do remember other things from the day though. Mostly, I remember that I had been excited and that we had gone as a big group; my parents and I, my cousins (at least three of them – maybe more?), my aunties…

I remember eating candy floss – soft pink stickiness.

I remember that after the show had ended, I had wanted to buy something. It was a red disk (kind of like a Frisbee) and came with a wooden stick. I think the idea was to balance the disk on the stick and twirl it…

I remember loving this toy and being excited to play with it.

The image that sticks in my mind most from this day is coming home and playing in my small, cramped back yard.

I tried to balance the disk, twirl it like a pro but (unsurprisingly) I failed.

My cousins took over (they were older); I remember they had been excited too. It had been a good day. But my cousin put too much energy in twirling the disk and it flew off from the stick, and over my back garden wall.

I can’t remember if it we opened the back gate to look in the alley or if it went in someones garden.

I know we never got it back.

I don’t think they were that bothered – as I mentioned, they were older – but I remember feeling disappointed.

I’d only had that disk for a couple of hours.

My mum said it was okay, we could get another one another day.

I don’t think I believed her but I didn’t make a fuss. It really had been a good day.

What I find strange is no matter how hard I try, I can’t remember anything of the actual circus show but those bits before; sitting cramped with my cousins in the car, eating candy floss, playing in the back garden… being surrounded by family, those are those things which stick with me.

Most of my childhood memories – the special ones – are similar to this; moments spent with my cousins. Squeezing through a hole in the back gates – instead of using the main entrance – being pushed extra fast on the roundabout and feeling sick – swapping Pokemon cards – going to the corner shops with our pocket money…

I was blessed enough to have a childhood filled with family, love and good memories and for that I will always, always be grateful.

 

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Learn from those around you

We never stop Learning

I can’t count how many times my mum has said that to me over the years. When I was younger, it was the kind of thing I rolled my eyes at; “it’s just mum being mum” but it is true, we never stop learning.

Sure, we may finish traditional schooling but learning never ends.

I am currently doing an internship as part of my University degree, and over the past ten months here I have learnt so much.

There’s the obvious learning; the skills I’m taught, the new areas I work in, the terminology and the software and yes, those are all incredibly valuable but the learning that I feel will have even more of an impact on me are the things I’ve learnt merely by watching others around me.

Learning how to present my ideas confidently. To believe that despite my lack of experience, what I am saying is important.

Learning how to answer questions when I’m put the spot, to think quickly.

Learning the best way to deal with difficult clients.

There are so many things no degree can prepare you for.

By observing my colleagues, who have much more expertise than me, I have learnt so much more than any book could teach. I’ve learnt that if I have an idea I should speak up and how to ask for clarification if my project manager hadn’t made my role clear.

There so many things – many of which I’m sure I’ve picked up without even realizing – that I know will help me in the future, no matter what path I choose to take.

This post is short but I guess I have three main points: 1) learn from the people around you, 2) if you’re are student considering whether you should do an internship – DO IT! I urge you to take the opportunity if you have it – it will truly be invaluable and 3) even after we leave the classroom, we never stop learning.

It’s an ‘organised mess’

If you saw my desk, you probably would not describe it as Orderly.

The papers don’t all sit in perfect arrangement. The highlighters and pens are not lined up. Neither are they standing in holders.

Instead, what you will see is strewn papers, sitting this way and that. You’ll see a black pen here, and a red one there. You’ll see books opened on seemingly random pages. And ‘post its’ with scribbled nonsense.

So no, you probably would not describe it as orderly.

But it is, I swear it is. 

To you, to my friends, to my mum (in particular) it’s a big old mess. But to me, it’s an organised mess. 

Those papers which look like they have just be thrown on the desk are in fact in a specified order. I know where things are.

I’ll know in which random, messy, overflowing pile to find the notes I’m looking for.

Those scribbled post-its? They all have meanings! Random numbers? They mean something too!

I promise! 

It really is an organised mess. And I’m sure many people on here can admit to having one too. I recently overheard someone use the exact same words to describe their own work space and I seriously, honestly wanted to turn around and scream “I knew I wasn’t the only one!”

I’ve had occasions where people have tried to help me during exam periods by “tidying” my organised mess.

This kindness of theirs was greeted with horror on my part.

So if you have a  friend/partner/child/insert other who has a work space which you deem messy – I urge you, please, please don’t try to clear it up.

Make them a cup of tea, buy them chocolates but don’t sabotage the organised mess.

The mid-year resolution: less TV, more experiences

When I saw the prompt Countless, my immediate reaction was to think of the countless mistakes I’ve made, then I thought about the countless things I’ve learned from these mistakes but putting all these mistakes and their teachings into words would be an impossible feat.

So instead I’m focusing on one mistake I’ve made and continue to make; the countless hours of my life I let go wasted.

And by ‘wasted’ I mean – the countless hours I’ve spent doing nothing, procrastinating or else mindlessly watching TV.

And yes, everyone needs time to do nothing – to give their mind and body a rest, and TV can be both entertaining and educational but it’s the amount of time I spend doing these things that I regret.

Coming back from work, it’s so easy (especially when the weather is miserable and grey) to think, ‘yep, a nice evening in front of the telly is in order’. And so I sit in front of the TV for hours. And then I go to bed and the next day after work, I spend more hours in front of the TV. Again. And again.

Maybe some days I’ll mix it up with time on my laptop or go for a walk but I still spend a lot of time mindlessly watching the 46″ Samsung screen.

Not great.

Those countless hours could have been used so much, so much more productively – there are so many things I could do, things I could learn and experience!

So that’s it – my ‘nearly mid-year’ resolution: less TV and more experiences.

Those funny little things called dreams.

There have been a lot of dreams.

Sweet dreams, wished upon me by parents. Dreams of marshmallow pillows, and chocolate fountains. Dreams of magic and fairies and never-ending stories.

Dreams that I have woken up from with a smile.

There have been other dreams, too.

The type to wake me shivering, shaking the badness out of my mind. Dreams that have wrenched me awake.

There have been dreams that have never left me; that I’ll always remember – either with a shiver or a smile.

There have been dreams I’ve forgotten the moment I’ve opened my eyes – the only lingering evidence, a feeling in my heart of something... something.

There have been dreams which I’ve tried desperately to escape from and lucid dreams (which are very strange).

There have been fever dreams too – which are the worst.

These twist and snake through my mind. Nonsensical. Reality and fiction blur through the mind. Is that a door? Now, I’m falling through trees. These are the ones, that leave the stomach squirming. Better have a bin near by. 

There been day dreams too – these I don’t mind.

Day dreams, where my eyes are open but mind is far away – maybe it’s stuck in yesterday, overplaying a good memory, maybe it’s in a land of nostalgia ten years away; maybe it’s in a land of fantasy (another novel I’ll never write).

There are the other dreams too. Dreams of things I want to do.

Travel the world; India, Australia, Singapore. Skydive out of a plane. Drive down route 66. Eat pastries in Paris and pasta in Rome.

So many cliches. 

But what of the other dreams. Which are scary to think about – the dreams that are plans and ambitions, hopes and aspirations.

They are there – buried deep within but saying them out loud seems much too scary.

These are things I will measure my success by. Things I want to do, want to achieve.

But what if failure comes knocking. Or worse, what if success is there, only for me to realise the wrong dream has been chased.

Wish I could have a dream tonight, which will show me my life ten years down the road – these decisions I’m making right now – are they right or wrong. These choices – will they make me smile or will I just be stuck in a bad, bad dream.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

The best place to read – public transport… or under a desk?

I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember – anywhere, anytime.

But there was one particular place that I especially loved reading in as a child and that was… dun dun dun...

Under the desk in my room.

The space was small, cramped and required me to crouch with bad posture but …I loved it.

Yes, I was a weird kid.

I wish I could say I was five or under when I did this – maybe then it would seem less strange but I probably read under the desk between the ages of seven and nine… definitely not older than that (I hope…).

I wasn’t hiding from anyone when I crouched under there. It wasn’t an attempt to get out of going to sleep (I had my torch hidden under the bed for that) but instead, I think I just loved how closed off it felt to hide there.

I could enter the world of whatever book I was reading and completely forget that anything else existed. I loved it down there. The desk is still in my room – I no longer fit under it of course (no, I haven’t tried it…yes, okay, I admit I have considered trying it) but I wish I did.

My ‘reading place’ now is public transport. Bus journeys. Train journeys. They both fly by with a good book but although I do still get lost in the words (so much so that I’ve once missed my bus stop…) it doesn’t feel the same reading in public as it does in a comfy secluded place.

Take yesterday, for instance; train had stopped (signalling failure of some sort), my book was out, it was funny – I was ready to laugh out loud but after the first short giggle, I realised that I was in fact on a crowded train. So what was supposed to be a loud, stomach clutching laugh, turned into suppressed smile.

And after that, although I did get back into my book – I was also acutely aware of the people around me.

Maybe if I wasn’t chronically shy with bouts of social anxiety – this wouldn’t be such a big deal but as it was, it took a bit of the fun out of reading.

That’s not to say I don’t like reading on public transport or that I will stop – no way! Public transport is my savior: without it, I doubt I would have the time to read fiction at all. So I appreciate it, yes.

But I miss my little crouched space too.

And I’m sure I can’t be the only person who misses place like this… right?

 

Of homes, relationships and building walls

Home is where the heart is

We’ve all heard it before and for me at least, it’s true. I love our small terraced house, the bedroom I grew up in, the kitchen we spent so many countless family meals in but without them – without my family, this beautiful house, our house, is just four walls.

We build our homes whilst building our relationships – one Brick at a time. Our friends, our partners… each time we forge these relationships we lay another brick around us. Until slowly through the years – we build our home. These are the people who are my home. These are the people who I will make the time for – no matter how busy and crazy life gets. These are the ones I will visit because I want to not because I feel I have to.

As we get older the people who are allowed within these walls grow fewer. At 21 I’ve already begun to experience it.

“We should catch up sometimes” has become a staple phrase for some of my old friends. Inevitably, the catch-up never happens; either I or they have other things on:

“Oh, I can’t – I’m working then”

“Dammit – I have coursework due that week”

“Sorry, I already made plans a while ago”

Until we realise that it’s been one-year, two-years… three-years since we’ve made the time for each other….

But then on the other hand, there’s the other friends who somehow, although you are both busy with University and work and life in general, you always somehow, somehow make time for. And these are the people within your walls – who are a part of your ‘home’ – who you believe always will be.

We form these relationships – these tight nit ‘always there for you’ relationships – without realising it. You just click. And through shared experiences, laughter, warmth… you build a home without noticing.

It’s easy to build these homes.

But what’s also easy – stick with me here, please- is building high walls. Not the type to surround you and your loved ones but the type which are straight up barriers between you and someone else.

Maybe they hurt us. Maybe it was a misunderstanding. Maybe it was stupid, stupid fight.

But to protect ourselves we say – no, enough. We lay the bricks down, fast and hurried. We put all our strength into it, shout words we may not mean, solidify it.

And just like that a wall is built.

And these are damn strong walls.

Maybe we’ll be glad for a while admiring our work. Burn with self-righteous anger.

And then time passes. A week. A month. A year.

And suddenly, it’s hard to remember exactly what happened. You feel wronged. They feel wronged.

Perhaps, you’ll see each other in the street, a family gathering, a wedding and you’ll be polite enough but… that’s just about it.

And then maybe, maybe one day you’ll wish it could all change. That the walls could break down. That you could discuss it. Properly this time. Or perhaps, just leave it all in the past and move on..mend the relationship.

We see it all the time. Families forging walls over an inheritance or friends laying down the bricks between each other over miscommunication.

And sometimes – yes, walls need to be built to protect ourselves from those who will hurt us.

But sometimes…

Our anger is just to quick to flare…

Or there are misunderstandings after misunderstandings that we don’t take the time and effort to clear up…

Or ‘I’m sorry’s’ that we want to say go left unspoken because of pride or fear or embarrassment…

So the wall is built up and when we finally decide we want to see the other side, we find we can’t because from experience, tearing those bricks down is bloody hard.

Photo credit: krosseel