Beginning to love yourself is difficult. It might even be
one of The Most Difficult Things. A year ago I would not have felt at all
qualified to write this, but in the past few months I have taken baby steps
towards the all elusive self-love.
There are times when even accepting yourself can be a
challenge, and liking yourself one of colossal proportions. It makes complete
sense for loving yourself to be arduous. When a couple move in together, it
tests their love for each other, but even the most devoted and inseparable
couple have some alone time; even if it is only when they go to the bathroom.
We cannot choose whether or not we move in with ourselves. We already have; and
we never truly escape. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but we are never
truly absent from ourselves. This means that being critical and getting easily
annoyed at yourself is an easy routine to fall into, but allowing yourself to
become truly embroiled in such troubles- which we are all guilty of doing every
now and then- is quite a waste of time when you could be spending those same
minutes, hours, days noticing the great things about yourself.
The first step to loving myself, for me, came from being
kinder to myself and praising myself for little things. I wrote something
today? Great. I found time to watch my favourite film? Awesome. Instead of
dismissing the things that I liked to do, I started to view them as important,
because they are important. They are
important in making me who I am, and it’s wonderful that I have such a strong
sense of individuality.
Next I looked for some people to look up to who are big on
promoting self-love. Obviously, there’s Kanye West (“I Am A God” is my anthem
when I want to feel on top of the world.) Internet famous Joanna Kuchta is also
fabulous. Of course one of the perks of being famous is all of the external
gratification you receive. When everyone else is telling you how fantastic you
are, it is much easier to believe it. However, with fame comes a lot of
criticism as well as praise. Other people’s voices can therefore battle in the
same way that our internal thoughts about ourselves do. So it’s not like Kanye
and Joanna are aliens who we can never understand. Even if you do delude
yourself a little bit and post online as if you have millions of fans, you’re
not harming anyone by doing this. Be proud of the 10, 20, 30 likes your
Instagram photos get, but remember that online gratification does not
necessarily translate into real life.
Another obstacle in loving yourself (on top of the
inevitable self-inflicted ones) is society’s attitude towards those who do so.
Coming across as conceited or egotistical is seen as something to be avoided
above pretty much all else, but I would rather be a little bit on the conceited
side than go back to hating myself. Furthermore, I have found that being around
people who perhaps are verging on the egotistical is more positive than
surrounding myself with those who dislike themselves. People who do love
themselves most of the time tend to be a lot more positive all round. Sometimes
it’s nice to pretend that you and the people you are with are better than
everyone else, as long as it’s not in an openly spiteful way.
There are no terms and conditions for self love. Don’t just
love yourself after going on a 5K run or receiving a compliment; love yourself
after eating a donut; love yourself when you’re dancing alone to your favourite
song. There is no one size fits all formula for happiness; we’re all just doing
put on her black coat and exited the theatre into the cold, damp night. She
felt sick as she tapped her foot on the ground and chewed the inside of her
cheek. Three hours prior to this moment she had texted Adam to say:
you meet me after rehearsals this evening? I need to tell you something.”
he must be on his way, turning over in his mind what could possibly be so
urgent and important. Gently, Charlize perched herself on the edge of the bench
next to the nearby restaurant. She stared at the cars as their headlights
flashed past; their passengers so near to her but so detached, so wrapped up in
their own lives.
stood up at the sight of Alex approaching. She plunged her hands deep into her
pockets and scowled at the ground. She saw his black Doc Martens stop in front
of her. He said, “Hiya” cheerfully, but this genial greeting went over
Charlize’s head as she built herself up to greet him with,
“I’m-just-going-to-say-it-straight-away-I’m-pregnant” she rushed as if the
words were poison that she needed to spit out in order to survive.
started to walk in the direction of home, still staring at the ground with her
hands in her pockets, as she waited for Adam’s reply.
followed Charlize in silence for a few minutes as they walked up the sloping,
street-lit pavement. Then he began, “Is it m-?”
course it is” Charlize retorted violently.
long pause followed, until they were walking down the road of Charlize’s
rolled her eyes at that unhelpful remark.
walked past her old school, Charlize thought about how much simple joy had
taken place there and how different things were now and about William Blake and
about Adam. Back then she could find joy in making up new games to play in the
playground or swinging on the monkey bars and bad days could be cured by crying
whilst her mother stroked her hair and told her that everything would be okay. Now,
the lack of joy in her life had to be compensated for with stupid actions like
having sex with her best friend one Thursday in November after school. And a
bad day or a bad week or a bad month or a bad year could not be remedied
because there was no one to stroke her hair and tell her that it would be okay.
Adam did not love her. He liked her. He liked spending time with her and they
had a laugh together, but he loved another.
getting an abortion” Charlize said, as abruptly as she had made her first
announcement, when they reached the alleyway by their respective houses.
you’re not” said Adam.
Charlize looked up for the first time that evening.
baby belongs to both of us. We need to discuss it. You’re not the only one who
gets a say in this” Adam answered.
“I’m the one who has to show all the
signs of it; who’ll be ridiculed and humiliated. And, you know, morning
sickness and weight gain, not to mention labour!” Charlize said, “And what
about Matt? You don’t want him to find out about what happened?”
pondered this for a while before saying, “Just don’t tell anyone who the father
do that, Adam! You can’t expect me to do that. It’s bad enough being pregnant
at fourteen without everyone thinking I’ve slept around so much that I can’t
remember who I’ve been with” Charlize said, trying not to cry.
someone up then” Adam suggested.
about my family? They know that you’re the only boy I ever see” Charlize said.
She could not believe that Adam was being so unexpectedly cruel.
scoffed, “You’ve been talking to loads of guys about hooking up with them.”
jaw dropped, “Loads of guys? One. I talked to one guy, and then he stopped
replying to my texts.”
say it was him” Adam said.
don’t even know why we’re still having this argument. I’m getting an abortion.
Matt will never know about us and you can go back to being a happy couple”
you’re killing a baby!” Adam protested.
killing a sperm!” Adam shouted.
Charlize burst out laughing. She prepared to make a sarcastic gibe about what a
pathetically ignorant exclamation that was, but then she found herself crying
uncontrollably. Adam continued to shout at her as she sobbed. There was no way
she could go through the pregnancy, but she couldn’t imagine life without Adam
as a friend either.
stepped closer to Charlize. “Don’t look but there’s someone watching us and
listening. We need to go somewhere else or this will become gossip.” Adam was
looking up at the first floor window of the house that they were standing next
looked up, despite being told not to. She saw the face of a girl not much older
than her leaning out of the window. Then the girl was gone.
on” Adam said softly, “Let’s go.”
Charlize said. She had not forgotten her situation and Adam’s behaviour; of
course she hadn’t. How could she? Tears still streaked her cheeks, but she did
not move to wipe them away.
don’t cry, Charlie” Adam said soothingly, as if he had only just noticed
can’t have this baby” Charlize shook, “You can’t expect me to. We’re too young.
I’m too young. It would ruin everything.”
stared at the ground and sighed.
something” Charlize urged.
right” Adam sighed again,” I-I’m such a dick. It was just- I didn’t- didn’t expect
it. I never imagined this. I didn’t know how to react. No. That’s no excuse.”
did not reply, but when Adam put his arm around her waist as they walked she
did not pull away either.
know it’s kind of ironic that this has happened whilst you’re playing Jo in A Taste of Honey” Adam quipped.
realise” Charlize said bluntly, before adding, “I’ve got the gay friend.” She
put her arm around Adam’s waist, “And the fascist mother. Now I just need a
charming black sailor to sweep me off my feet.”
walked along the road; arms round each other, and the girl in her bedroom above
watched them from her window. She hoped that they would be happy. Originally published in Pretty.
Oscar Wilde once truthfully said that ‘most people are other
people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry,
their passions a quotation.’ The search for complete originality is rather a
futile one, as people have been pointing out for some time. It is far easier to
let other people’s traits permeate into our being.
When I sit down to write I always feel stunted by the fact that
the people I look up to are so much better at writing and cooler and funnier
and more talented than I am in every way. I have stuck quotations from my
favourite people all around my room with hope that I will somehow absorb their
genius. I even wrote a Wilde quote in my maths GCSE exam. It was an impossibly
difficult question that I had no hope with even trying to answer so I simply
scrawled, “In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot
answer’- Oscar Wilde.’
I am other people. I am my parents, who raised me, friends from
the past, who influenced me, friends of the present, whose mannerisms subtly
slip into my own behaviour. However, (without discrediting those people who I
know in person) more than anything I am Coco Chanel. I am Morrissey. I am Allen
Ginsberg. I am Oscar Wilde. I am Tavi Gevinson. I am James Dean. I am Edie
Sedgwick. Just a slightly less cool version.
I have an obsession for each of these people I call my ‘heroes.’
They are my idols, my influences, the books I read, the music I listen to. And
I do not hesitate to say that without them I would not be the same person I am
However, where must we decide to draw the line with how much
these strangers influence our lives? We are constantly bombarded with reasons
why celebrities like Lindsey Lohan and Pete Doherty are negative role models
but many still idolise them and their lifestyles. Then of course there was that
ridiculous and inconceivably insensitive ‘cut for Bieber’ trend on Twitter last
year. Celebrity culture is weird and sort of messed up. With the decline in
religion people are turning more and more to their favourite celebrity to
comfort them and give them guidance.
A friend once told me that she was glad that I was obsessed with
Coco Chanel and James Dean as opposed to Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj. However,
Coco Chanel was allegedly a Nazi and was constantly embroiled in affairs with
married men. James Dean had an often unpredictable personality and, somewhat
ironically, was a dangerous driver. Hardly ideal role models, right?
There’s admiration and then there’s imitation and sometimes I
worry that I’m slipping into the latter category. It was Morrissey who penned,
“If you must write prose and poems, the words you use should be your own” but
it is sometimes so tempting to want to fully become the people you look up to.
I even managed to paraphrase two Morrissey lyrics into my English Literature
exam last year. Morrissey himself wrote the anti-plagiarism line in response to
being harangued about using the line, “I dreamt about you last night and I fell
out of bed twice” in an early Smiths’ song ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ as the
line originally came from Shelagh Delaney’s play ‘A Taste of Honey’.
I love the idea of escaping myself to become somebody else. Coco
Chanel once said “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something
but to be someone.” I cut my hair to imitate Coco Chanel. I sometimes find
myself daydreaming about styling it in a quiff like the teens imitating
Morrissey in The Smiths’ ‘Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One
Before’ music video. I want a bongo drum and perhaps a motorcycle like James
Dean. I want a collection of fashion books as vast as Bill Cunningham’s. I want
to dress like Tavi Gevinson. I want to write poetry like Patti Smith. I want to
make witty quips in conversation like Oscar Wilde. I will just have to live my
life with the worry that one day I may perhaps be serenaded with the song
‘Lighten Up Morrissey.’
I am definitely other people and my life is mimicry, my passions
a quotation. However, I have not altogether lost my individuality because I am
yet to find another person influenced my all these exact same people. Sometimes
I feel like I am having a complete identity crisis but, at the end of the day,
aren’t we all a product of the things that we love? The things we like can be
just as telling about a person as what we are like and because of this I think
we should move forwards and imitate whoever the hell we want to.
The silence was interrupted by the distant
sirens, breaking up the imagined harmony of the night. The sky was black and
the pavements were wet with the sweat of nightfall.
A young man peered out, pushing aside the
pale pink organza curtain. The sky was black and the empty pavements were wet
with the sweat of the night. He shook his head.
“It’s too small. None of us will fit through”
he observed with a defeated sigh, “Not even her.” He pointed at Edie, a skinny
young girl who had drawn her knees into her chest in order to appear smaller.
Shelagh lent back and raised her eyes to the
broken leather ceiling. “I cannot believe
this is happening.”
“I only came here for a good time” Cal
contemplated morosely, staring into space.
Shelagh leaned forwards, “Oh yeah? And I came
here to get stuck in a room with you wasters.” She rolled her eyes and let out
an exaggerated sigh.
“Does nobody have any signal on their
mobiles?” Justin asked half-heartedly.
They all shook their heads. They would have
been released already if the answer to that question was yes.
“Who the hell is hosting this party anyway?”
The room’s occupants shrugged.
“So not one of you knows the person who’s
hosting this party? No one knows whose house this is? No one was invited here?” Shelagh asked.
“It’s like The Great Gatsby” Cal said, in
“At what point in The Great Gatsby is anyone
stuck in a room with a whore, a stoner and a mute teenager?” said Justin.
Shelagh and Cal frowned at those labels. Edie
did not move.
“You think that just because you’re sitting
up in that chair reading a goddamn book that you’re better than us?” Cal said,
addressing Justin, “It is like a
Gatsby party though. I come here all the time and I’ve never met the host.”
“Why are you guys here anyway?” Justin
enquired, “For kicks, or what?”
“Sure” Shelagh laughed a husky laugh, mocking
Justin “For kicks.”
“Is this going to be one of those things
where we all open up to each other and find out that we have loads of
interesting and life changing secrets to share?” Justin asked, ignoring
“Like The Breakfast Club” Cal said,
“God, no, that’s so overdone. Besides, I have
no burning secrets to share” Shelagh contemplated, “No tragic past that will
change all your outlooks on life.”
“Good” said Justin, “Then let’s just sit
tight until the host finds us.”
Quiet fell across the room like a sheet of
air filled with uncomfortable dampness. Only one thing broke the soundlessness.
It was a drumming from Cal’s fingertips against the wooden floor. He was
tapping quickly and silently mouthing words.
“For fuck’s sake, will you cut it out?” Edie
spoke for the first time, with incongruous anger.
Cal stopped tapping. The silence resumed its
heavy place in the room.
“This is the
shittest party I’ve ever been to” Cal said with passionate, drunken
“I am so
bored” Shelagh pondered aloud.
“It’s not like there’s nothing to do. We’re
locked in a library. Whoever this guy is, he has lots of books,” Justin said,
turning a page of the book resting on his lap.
Shelagh rested her chin on her fist and
looked at Justin defiantly, “So, you suggest that we read until we’re rescued?”
“Don’t worry. I’ve thought of something
better” Cal grinned. He felt around his pockets for a lighter.
Minutes later marijuana smoke danced around
the room. Hazy images registered in the minds of them all.
The dread of
captivity was replaced by the happiness of a dreamlike fantasy.
“I’ve killed a man before” Edie said, coldly,
waiting for their reactions.
“No you haven’t” Shelagh laughed.
“I have” said Edie.
Cal scowled, “When?”
Edie ignored this question.
“You’re too young and sweet to be a murderer”
Shelagh said, pragmatically, as if she could expel the idea from Edie’s mind
with a simple statement about her character.
Edie took a knife out of her pocket. She
stroked the blade delicately, as though she was frighteningly aware of its
potency. She raised her head, “Oh really?” The smoke seemed to part and
everything was very real once more.
“Shit” Cal said, cowering backwards, further
away from Edie and the demanding metallic power she held in his direction,
“Where did you get that?”
Edie’s answer echoed with a defensive nature
and a sense of the psychopathic, “It’s mine” then she spoke softly and they all
listened, in obedience triggered by fear, “It’s better this way. Better than a
gun. Better than poison. More lingering. More controllable. Do you kill fast?”
Edie waved the weapon quickly through the air, “Or do you kill…slow?” She rose
to her feet and sat down again, closer to Shelagh, “It’s an art, you know? A
real fucking art.” Edie lightly brushed the knife over Shelagh’s cheek. Shelagh,
meanwhile stayed in a paralysed state of terror. “You can choose how neat or
messy you make the killing. How much admiration you gain, which, of course
everyone has to hide with disgust.
Truth is, we’re all fascinated with the insane. Hmm, who should I demonstrate
“Someone could come in at any minute” Justin
Edie laughed, “We’ve been waiting for someone
to come in all night. No one’s
coming. God, you’re so fucking pretentious, up in your armchair with your
books. You don’t know better than me. None of you do. I have all the power in this room now” Edie’s eyes glittered, “As
far as you are concerned, I am God,” and she plunged the knife into Justin’s
He coiled over and Shelagh screamed. The
scream rang in their ears. It rang in Edie’s as she continued to force the
knife repeatedly into Justin’s chest. It rang in Cal’s as he hid his face in
his hands and shivered profusely. It rang in Justin’s as he slipped from life’s
grip into another world.
It rang in James’ ears as he paused the
recording and dialled 999.
“Shit shit shit shit,” he repeatedly
whispered under his breath as he paced up and down the room and waited for an
14 hours previously
James was a writer and at this time he was alone
in his South London home, making the final preparations for his party. He went
into the library and adjusted the camera so that it was concealed by the small
ornaments on top of the bookcase. There it had a clear view of the whole room.
James wondered who would be coming to his party tonight. He hoped to see some
strange and interesting faces. Then, he would talk them into visiting his
library through some means or other. There, he would lock them in and the
camera would film the interaction between the captives.
James sat down in his burgundy leather
armchair and rested his chin in his hand. His mind danced with endless
possibilities. Who would he trap tonight? Perhaps a drag queen and a teenage
runaway. Or a starving artist and an old man with a terminal illness. Each of
those could make for fantastic plots if played out right.
This party would be the same as all the
others: as guests arrived in hoards, the majority of them unknown to the host,
James always had a plan. He would make his way round the party and stop at the
most interesting looking people. He would give them directions to his library
and tell them to go there, using whatever advertisements necessary. Once James
knew that four or five people were inside, he would look the door. In the
library was a hidden camera. When the party ended, and before he went to sleep,
James liked to watch the recordings of what the people got up to. Sometimes the
events would inspire his writing and sometimes they were purely a form of
entertainment to light up his drab life. In the past James had seen everything
from confessions, to musical performances, to orgies. Never before, however,
had there been a murder.
Later that day, three bodies were escorted
from James’ house and Edie was arrested. Later, when on trial, she would say
that she had seen the cameras in James’ library and that was why she did it. It
was performance art. Her defence was that she lived in a culture dominated by
surveillance culture and obsessed with reality TV. She only wanted to make
something a little more interesting for people to watch and the library had
been the perfect chance.
I am a person & I get jealous as fuck; Everyday, every night, trying my luck. Let's change, let's drive, drive, drive. Sit wiv me & wait for our dreams to arrive. Let's live our lives, let's feel alive. Onwards, onwards to where Reality meets Dreams. Perhaps, perhaps then we'll know what it means Or maybe I'll stay in these walls, so sad. Every minute, every hour not lucid but mad. But do not wait, my feelings turn bad. A final verse, final dream, final thought, final breath Who cares? We're inching closer to death. But alas, alack! I must not go. For every low there's a high & every high there's a low And I'm still here; this I want u to know