Never Forget.

You would think that on a Friday London night that most 23 year old girls would be glamming up before heading to a club, celebrating the end of the week with cocktails or perhaps cosying up next to a boyfriend (or girlfriend) for a Netflix and takeaway food marathon. I can fully assure you that I fall into not a single one of those categories. Instead of making sure I made the last ‘happy hour’ bar orders, I found myself digging up my old journals from when I was 18/19/20. It’s flashback Friday after all right?

I’ve spent a good couple of hours reading through pages of hurt, pain, depression, happiness and good fortune. I’ve cried and laughed through each different entry (not to mind that I admired the neatness of my handwriting from all those years ago!)

People always remind you to ‘focus on the present’ and that the ‘past is the past so don’t dwell on it!’ Much easier said than done. The past has effectively shaped us into who we are, how we deal with certain situations, and although I don’t condone ‘dwelling’ on it, I think it is hugely important to remember our past memories – traumatizing, good, happy, bad, ugly – each single one of them! What has happened to us in the past is relevant – many of our past experiences have taught us lessons and experience that we now use in the present.

My reason for urging anyone to not take the past for granted is due to a small letter I found in one of my old journals. What I wrote down hastily in July 2011 reminded me that as upsetting as past experiences can be, they are also experiences that I have grieved over but eventually ended up growing in both emotional strength and emotional maturity.

Everyone has a past experience that they would rather pretend never happened or never wanted to learn from in order to accept and be able to move on. For this reason, I want to share the note that I found in my journal and hope that it may inspire more people to feel able to be open about their past and never ashamed of whatever they may have done or experienced.

July 2011 (Journal Entry)

“Has it now become the legend of impossible fairy tales that one day we will end up happily married to ‘the one’, with beautiful children running around our white picket house? I have unfortunately found myself in two unlucky and upsetting circumstances. As the extent of my actions began to dawn on me, I started to change. I couldn’t escape my own taunting mind, and sadly, it reached such low points where I simply couldn’t cope with my guilt. No matter how many times my mother would hold my shaking and sobbing mess of a body, and continue to softly tell me that ‘it would have been unfair… It wasn’t the right timing…’ But more importantly, she asked me: “wouldn’t you want to have a child when you are in a truly committed relationship? When both of you are ready?” Knowing my mother and her at times, very ‘proper’ views on family/pregnancy, I only assumed from her words that the ‘committed relationship’ could only mean two things: either a relationship leading to marriage, or marriage itself.”

Looking forward or looking to fall off the cliff?

Looking forward or looking to fall off the cliff?

I know it finishes abruptly, but it’s been a a long time in which I’ve acknowledged the past of July 2011. It feels like being naked revealing parts of your past, but once you’ve done it, you know you won’t look back on it as another mistake to be added to the past. Experience, embrace, learn and live – the present is just as important as our pasts – the only difference is that we cannot change the experiences of our past, but we can do our goddamn best to let these experiences shape our present and future for the best.

C

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I

Standing at the Crossroads.

At the tender age of 23, I have now reached the end of my school/university orientated life that was filled with essays, books, exams and the soul crushing all-nighters. It feels as if I am in my car, right by the STOP sign at a set of crossroads. Where do I go from here? Am I making the right choice? Where will I end up? Millions and millions of nagging questions going round and round in my head like a ferris wheel on crack cocaine.

My first mistake was choosing the wrong degree, but I can’t blame myself too harshly as I find it very hard to believe that every 19 year old knows bang on what they want to study, and then magically come out with a job relating partly to that degree choice. I was good at English; I used to write mini ‘novels’ when I was younger and always had my nose in a book and was even lulled to sleep due to the soothing sound of Stephen Fry narrating Harry Potter books. But unfortunately, as I grew older and began to understand that the world wasn’t the happy shiny place I had seen through my young eyes. Instead I began to learn about the politics of the world and the issues of terrorism. 9/11 in particular caught my interest; I could only think one question as I watched those planes crash into the crumbling world trade centers. Instead of jumping onto the ‘all Muslim’s are terrorists’ Western bandwagon, all I asked is: “but why would these people do such a terrible thing? What angered them so greatly to cause them to react in such a horrifically violent way?” There are always two sides to the story after all. From that day forward I was fascinated by Islam, Jihad and every aspect of the Middle East.

I chose my degree because I wanted to learn and understand about what drives such a minority of people to commit such disturbing and violent crimes – this did not necessarily mean I was good at the many History or Sociology style essays that my course demanded. I had dropped History at the age of 13 (in favor of Geography) and had no real clue on how to write a successful economics or sociology based essay. With no previous experience, my many weeks and nights of research, reading and working produced mediocre essay grades. It quickly became disheartening.

Now I stand on before the crossroads, full of ambition to head out into the REAL world (and not back to the bubble of boozing, late nights and half hearted work). I want to work, I want to finally start LIVING my life. I am grateful every day that I have had an experience that showed me there is a beautiful gold lined path leading to a career that I am passionate about and also extremely good at. I used to be passionate about my degree, but that does not automatically mean it is meant for me or that I will succeed in it.

A piece of paper (a degree), does not get you any more further in life than someone with self determination, passion and confidence in what they want to pursue, and I hope many others realize that University is not the only way to succeed in what you want in life. Time, experience and passion are truly the vital ingredients to lead you onto a life that you will love and never look back on and regret.

Don’t ever let parents/significant others/friends ever try to keep you from what you truly believe is the right thing for YOU. Once you can manage that, the crossroads won’t seem as scary as you think.

From London with love,

Caitlin

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ALWAYS follow your instinct

ALWAYS follow your instinct