On The Day of Love

Dear Emma,

So as I’m sure you’re aware, today is Valentine’s Day. However you’ve spent your day (even if it was alone like me) I hope you’ve had a brilliant time 🙂

Actually, I wanted to say something about Valentine’s Day. Nowadays we dedicate it to spending time with the person we love most, showing them that we love them, and it’s generally just very coupley the whole time. Is coupley a word? Probably not.

Due to the fact that Valentines Day nowadays is so coupley, (it’s a new word, I’ve accepted it) many people don’t celebrate it, and actually resent it because they’re single and alone.

That really shouldn’t be the case. It’s the day of love, sure, but the word love has such a broad spectrum of meanings, and I think that people forget that.

As I’m sure some of you know, the Ancient Greeks had six words for love. Now that’s a good idea. There probably could be even more, but I thought I’d share them with you to show that you don’t have to be in a relationship to celebrate the day of love.

Pragma – This means “longstanding love,” the kind of relationship that withstands the test of time. People experiencing pragma use patience and tolerance: they make compromises to make the relationship work for both people. Typically it refers to married couples, but it could just as easily be close friendships or family relationships. There’s a really nice quote from psychologist Erich Fromm:

“We spend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.”

Storge – This means “family love,” the love you feel for your parents, siblings or extended family. They’re usually the people you know best, and (hopefully) they know what’s best for you.

Philia – This means “deep friendship,” The Greeks valued this kind of love a lot more than romantic love. It had originated from the love and comradeship that soldiers felt on the battlefield, but nowadays I assume that it’s between friends. 

Eros – This means “sexual desire or passion,” and it’s the kind of love that we normally associate Valentines with, a romantic relationship. Actually, this is regarded as the most dangerous kind of love among the Greeks, because when you feel Eros you lose control. Make of that what you will. 

Ludus – This means “playful love,” and today it’s known as flirting. It’s the stage before the relationship gets serious. But it also could mean having fun with friends, which has apparently been rebranded banter. The Greeks always thought there should be some ludus in relationships. 

Agape – I think I like this one most of all. Agape means “love for everyone” or “love for humanity”. It’s a love that you extend to all people, whether you know them or not. It’s the feeling of empathy, that makes you have a connection with people you don’t know, because we are all sharing the human experience. 

I guess what I’m saying is that remember that love isn’t all about the Eros. Today you could be Storge’ing with your family, having great Ludus with your friends, or just reading the stories in this community and feeling some Agape for the world. 

Hope you had a good day of love, whatever kind it was ❤

Agape from,

XXX

 

 

 

 

Productivity, or a Lack Of

Dear Emma,

So tomorrow I get my mock results. Which is rather terrifying, if I think about it for too long.

Before Christmas I put so much work in to revise for my mocks, but I do know that I could have done more.

Basically, what happened was I revised flat-out for a solid month before my mocks started, and tried to get as much done as I physically could without dying.

And then we had our first exam, and I realised that it wasn’t as life-threateningly crushing as I thought it would be, and so the amount of revision that I did throughout the actual mock week decreased and decreased until I said I was “ready” for some exams just from simply glancing at a book or revision guide.

I joked about it with my friends, and we “wung” quite a few of our exams in that week, which probably wasn’t a good idea.
FYI, wung is the past tense of wing. Don’t ask.

We realised that the mocks were probably not the most important things in the world, and so we slacked off a little.

I realise now that that probably wasn’t the best idea, because the mocks are the closest things we would get to the tests we’ll have in the summer, and we should have tried as hard for them as we would have for a real exam, so we could know where to improve.

But who would listen to that, when relaxing seems so much better?

I definitely know that from now on I’m focusing a lot harder on my school work than I did in the mocks, regardless of whether I get good grades or not.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn into a revision machine, because that isn’t physically possible. I get distracted way too easily.

So I’m going to try to be more productive. I’m not sure yet that it will work, but hopefully it will soon.

If you have exams coming up, good luck! I hope you do really well 🙂

Love from,

XXX

 

 

 

Apologies and Forgiveness

Dear Emma,

Today I’ve decided to write about something that actually affects me a lot more than I thought it would. 

You see, I’ve realised that I can be a bit of a pushover. I’ve never thought that my self-esteem was ridiculously low: I mean, I’ve had bad days. We all have. But I didn’t really realise how much I used to let people push me around. I’m actually surprisingly angry about it. I agreed with people even though my own opinions contradicted what they were saying. I lied, basically. I lied just so that I wouldn’t cause a conflict.

An example, and a Segway into the second topic in my title, is that I forgive people way too easily. Almost every time that someone has done something to offend me, I’ll instantly forgive them and just continue on. And while I completely understand that forgiveness is absolutely the right thing to do, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. 

The thing is, if you are too easy to forgive, you can reach a stage in a relationship with someone where they feel like they have the power to hurt you in any way they choose to, and you will always forgive them and never “fight back”. And it is a seriously unhealthy kind of relationship. 

I reached that stage in a few relationships in the past, but thankfully I saw sense and cut them off before something really damaging to my self-esteem happened.

Now, I’ve realised that there are situations where it is appropriate to forgive someone and move on, but there are also situations where the apology really shouldn’t be accepted until an equal, fair understanding between the two people involved has been reached. Especially when there has been a miscommunication or misunderstanding, and no-one has really seen both sides of the argument. 

I’ve also realised that there are many different kinds of apology. There is the genuine sincere kind that comes from a place of caring and emotion and remorse, but then there are the obviously fake “let’s just get over it” kind of apology. The kind that come from a place of selfishness and egotism and just plain meanness. 

If it takes a month for a person to apologise, they evidently don’t care about you enough to resolve your relationship. Also, if they choose to apologise to you, but then say “but”, and list the reasons why they were right to do what they did, that’s not an apology. That’s an excuse. That’s a weak attempt at trying to gain back your friendship.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be a pushover, make sure that you cut unhealthy relationships out of your life, and only accept the genuine apologies. If they don’t know how to apologise, they’re not worth having in your life anyway. Also, there are some conflicts that are definitely worth facing, not avoiding.

And finally, as my mother always used to say, “If you have to tell someone to say sorry, they’re not really saying sorry at all.”

Love from,

XXX

Expectations vs. Reality

Dear Emma,

Ah, the brain. Simultaneously the most exciting and terrifying place in the body. You see, there are many, many perks to having an overactive imagination, but there are also a lot of downfalls.

It really helps you to pass the time during a boring class, but then it can crawl into your bed during the late hours of the night and tell you ghost stories. And not the fun kind.

In my opinion, that’s not actually the worst thing the imagination can do to you. You see, sometimes it’s too good.

Sometimes you can spend hours lost in fantasy worlds, or sometimes just the real world, just better. Your crush asks you out, you secure the job of your dreams, and get everything you wish for.

And of course that’s great. Except we can’t live in that world forever. At some point we have to wake up and realise that the world isn’t perfect. It’s far from it.

I can’t tell you the amount of times when I have fantasised a situation in my head, and then when it actually happens it is so different to what I imagined I am instantly disappointed.

I really do need to stop doing that. It is actually quite bad for me, because it stops me appreciating what I have in real life.

It’s nice to imagine, but when reality comes crashing down around you again it can be a bit depressing to realise that life isn’t perfect.

So, just appreciate the things you do have, and don’t let your imagination run away with you too much.

Even if your daydreams involve unicorns.

Love from,

XXX

Why I Can’t Finish What I St-

Dear Emma,

Do you see what I did there? Okay, bad jokes aside, today I wanted to talk about something that is actually quite a big problem in my life.

I hardly ever finish what I start.

You see, I can only do things when I have some sort of motivation, but that motivation normally runs out at the end of the day I started doing that thing. So then it never gets finished.

Case and point: I must have started about ten diaries throughout various periods in my life, and yet I could never get beyond the first page. Don’t ask me why, I am just really really bad at finishing things. I’ve never finished a colouring book or even a notebook, sadly. 

I’ve started to write a million stories, but I obviously haven’t finished any of them. Is it a valid excuse to say that I couldn’t figure out a plotline? Some of them are pretty hilarious, actually. 

To be fair, now I am a little older I have started to get a little better with finishing stuff. Actually, this blog is a great example of something that I started over four months ago (wait, has it been four months already? Oh my god) and I thought that I would have given up within a week.

So I am getting slightly better.

I think this might be because the commitments I make now carry a lot more weight than they used to when I didn’t have any responsibilities. Or maybe, just maybe, I might be maturing…?

Hahaha. Okay, maybe not.

But I have several things that I have committed to that I need to keep on top of, instead of instantly stopping when I can’t be bothered. These things are only going to get more and more important, and I really should stop procrastinating and focus on my life a bit more.

Do I have a lazy streak? You tell me.

Love from,

XXX  

The Green Eyed Monster

Dear Emma,

I’m sure you can probably tell what this post is going to be about. Unless you have a weird mental picture of a monster with green eyes standing at the foot of your bed right now. There are two ways of looking at things.

Yes, I’m talking about envy. Don’t pretend that you haven’t ever been envious. No-one will believe you. 

Everyone has a few things they get envious about. And that’s been around since the dawn of time. It’s even one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not covet.” But to be fair, back then there wasn’t much for people to covet, seeing as people’s most prized possessions were their pet goats. 

  
Actually, that’s a pretty good-looking goat. 

But nowadays we live in a seriously materialistic world. How many people are wandering around these days with Apple Watches and Segways and Mercedes and all those other things? A hell of a lot. And of course, that means that you want them in your life. 

Now I’m sure that there are people wondering, “Isn’t that jealousy?” Well, I actually had a look at the definitions of both (wow I am so organised) and here is the difference.

Envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another. 
Jealousy occurs when something we already possess (usually a special relationship) is threatened by a third person.

So basically envy is when you want things that other people have, and jealousy is the fear of having those things taken away from you.

I’m sure we all feel both at some point. Sometimes the things we have seem too good to be true, so we live in constant fear of them removed from our lives. That’s why in all those romantic movies, someone always says, “I’m still waiting to wake up,” because they simply can’t believe what’s happening to them.

I guess that the main difference between now and the biblical times is money. That, or technology.

Money, “the root of all evil,” has become a hugely central part of modern life. We all would appreciate more money. I mean, who hasn’t dreamt of winning the lottery? Now, people can have all these extravagant (and sometimes hilariously unnecessary) things, if they can afford them.

If they can’t, then they’ll have to keep working.

Of course I know that you should “be happy with what you have,” but there will always be those moment where something inside of me just wants a thing, and common sense and rationality get thrown out of the window.

It’s a natural human trait, one of the original “four humors.” If you don’t know what those are, then check them out.

I think humans as a species are never, realistically, going to get over their envy problem. We just have to slowly learn to appreciate our own, without desiring anything else from anyone else.

Love from,

XXX

Better than Revenge

Dear Emma,

First of all, I’m just going to point out that this isn’t a post about Taylor Swift, even though I may have stolen one of her songs as the title. It is a really good song.

On a more serious note, I wanted to talk about something that has happened to my family this week. So, I have a younger sister, and throughout the past few months she has been subjected to name-calling, backstabbing and exclusion from one of her supposed “friends”. 

This “friend” has been drawing the attention of all of my sister’s other friends, urging them not to talk to her or play with her. She has even gone to the extent of pretending that her mother has emailed all of their mothers to talk about it. And this is a child who hasn’t even started secondary school.

I hadn’t known that this was going on, and neither did my parents, or even my sister. She is one of those two-faced brats who is sickly sweet to your face and talks trash behind your back. 

I’ve never really been sure why people are like that. Since when has it been “cool” to make fun of people and make them feel horrible?

Until my sister came home from school on Friday with her closest friend, who told us the whole story. It turns out that this same child has been horrible to lots of different people behind their backs over the course of time. 

Soon people like that realise that they won’t make long-lasting relationships, because people won’t be able to trust them. How will they know who their secrets are being told to?

It just happened to be that my sister was the current unlucky one.

When I heard about what this child was doing, I swear to God I wanted to punch her in the face for hurting my baby sister. I wanted revenge.

I then realised that although violence felt like an appropriate response, due to my anger, it wasn’t the most practical or sensible of solutions. There was a way to resolve it peacefully, even though I didn’t particularly want to.

Actually, it turns out that her friends had the same idea, because they all confronted the offending child that day. They pointed out that she didn’t have control over them or who they chose to talk to, and they actually didn’t feel like talking to her anymore.

I was so proud. Even though they are nine and ten years old, they clearly know the difference between right and wrong. They stood up to a bully without any kind of violence or meanness, and now my sister has her friends back.

There have been so many people throughout history that have spoken their minds and fought for what they believed in, without any actual fighting. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, to name a few. 

I realised that plotting revenge wasn’t exactly going to help anyone, and I would just end up making someone feel terrible just to make myself feel better. I would have succeeded, but at someone else’s expense. And that doesn’t really make me better than her. 

It is always right to stand up to a bully, but it has to be done in the right way.

Love from,

XXX

P.S. And the bully? I think she’s learning what it’s like to be as alone as she caused other people to be.

Music

Dear Emma,

I’m just going to come out and say it. I can honestly say that I would never be able to live without music.

For one thing, I always have a song in my head. Even if I don’t notice it, I’ll always be humming or tapping something. Ask my friends. 

But it’s more than that. Music plays quite a significant role in my life. I play two musical instruments – piano and guitar – and I sing a lot. There are singers and people in bands that, when I listen to their music, I can vividly remember different portions of my life. 

For example, the first album I ever listened to was this really old Celine Dion album: my mother used to play it in the car on repeat for ever when I was around three years old. And then the other day one of the songs came on the radio, and I knew all of the words. Yes, I was as surprised as you probably are.

But that album was the first time I had ever listened to something with a melody and words and instruments. The Wheels On The Bus does not count, okay. And I loved it, which is probably why the lyrics were engraved into my tiny brain.

Another musical moment was when I stopped listening to the various CDs and tapes (yes, tapes) that my parents had and turned on the radio for a bit of pop music. I’m talking “Fight for This Love” and “Hallelujah”. Those songs are also stuck in my brain, simply because they were the first “current” songs I heard at the time.

My third and final little musical anecdote is quite possibly one of the most special. When I was 10 years old I entered a talent competition that was run by my school, and that was open to various other schools in the area. I wanted to sing, and it was something I’d never done before. I considered singing to be something you do at home, not in front of hundreds of people.

But standing on that stage and opening my mouth to sing, it just gave me this incredible feeling. And when I reached the end of the song, the whole theatre was clapping and cheering. For me.

I guess that’s when I discovered my own voice.

From then on, I realised that I loved singing, and that it was something that I can actually do. It happens to be one of the only things I’ll admit pride in. 

Music gives me the power to express things that I wouldn’t be able to say otherwise. I’m pretty rubbish at explaining my feelings to people, but singing about them? About a million times easier.

I owe certain artists and bands a debt of gratitude for being here with me throughout my life, putting up with my drama and helping me find ways to tell people how I feel.

Okay, maybe I won’t go up to people and start singing at them, but thinking in the right way is a good start.

Love from,

XXX

Competition

Dear Emma,

So this week I entered a competition (for the millionth time). I guess it’s just a psychological thing, because no matter how many times I enter and inevitably lose a competition, I will always do it again if I see another one.

Unfortunately I then allow myself to get incredibly excited about whatever competition I have just entered, which usually leads to disappointment further down the line. As much as I try, I can’t help my brain thinking about what would happen if I won the competition. I know: bad decision.

The logical part of my brain sits there saying, “You know you’re going to regret this when you lose.” But the rest of my brain pushes that part to one side, as it often does, and continues fantasising about what could happen.

This may be the reason why I get so disappointed when I lose, because I’ve realised what could have happened if I won.

That might be where people go wrong. They think so much about what could happen, what could make them happy, if only this and this happened. Maybe they’ll be happy without all of that happening.

Most of the things that have made me happy have done so without me thinking that they are ever in a million years going to happen. Usually when I think about things they don’t end up happening.

Oh crap, that means I’m not going to win the lottery. Definitely thought about that.

The lottery aside, what I’m trying to say is don’t turn life into a competition. You don’t need to base your happiness on “I just need this to happen.” Base it on what actually does happen, and then you’ll be a lot happier than you were when you were thinking of what could be…

Love from,

XXX

Secrets

Dear Emma,

Can you keep a secret? Probably not.

Most, if not all people have got at least one secret in their lives. I do. I bet you do. It’s just a natural part of life, having things that you don’t want anyone else to know (well, my parents don’t think so, but that’s a story for another time).

Apparently the number one reason for keeping secrets is “to keep the peace”. We keep secrets to make people happier – protecting them from a truth that could maybe hurt them. And I understand that. There’s definitely some things that I really wish I didn’t know.

But then there are two types of secrets. I guess it’s the same with lies. There are two kinds of lie – the white lies and the massive horrible lies that no-one likes to hear.

With white lies, it doesn’t really matter if you reveal that they’re lies. For example, you could say something like, “Oh yeah, I saw that movie” even though you haven’t (don’t worry, I do that ALL the time – mostly I just hear other people talking about stuff and then I kinda understand what it is enough to talk about it) and then you could admit that you haven’t seen it and people wouldn’t mind too much. It might be a bit embarrassing for you, but it won’t be life-changingly horrible. I guess secrets are the same. Would they be called white secrets? Probably not.

Wow. Did that last paragraph even make sense?

But then there are the big secrets, the ones that are truly crucial to someone’s life, the ones that, if they are revealed, it would make a big difference. And not in a good way.

I guess that schools are the worst places for secrets. Especially seeing as social media makes it so easy to share something that you maybe shouldn’t share. For example, I know a friend who had a crush on a guy, and then she told another one of her friends. By the next morning, pretty much everyone in the school knew.

For future reference, that’s not cool. In any way.

If someone you know has told you a secret, it’s because they trust you enough to not tell anyone else. Breaking that trust… it’s one of the worst things  you can do.

I only feel like there are a few people who I can tell my secrets to, and even then I’m scared to because I don’t know what they might think.

For example, this blog is a secret. I have only told a few people that I write it (most of you don’t know who I am) and that did feel good, after I did it. But before I did I was so scared to.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t tell people your secrets unless you trust them not to tell anyone, and do not under any circumstances share people’s secrets. 

Sorry. It’s just a sensitive topic.

I’m just going to leave you with this sentence about trust.

Breaking someone’s trust is like crumpling up a perfect piece of paper. You can open it out and smooth it over, but it’s never going to be the same again.

Love from,

XXX

P.S. Wow, it’s my tenth post already! Thanks for all the support guys 🙂