A Level Results Day!

So as most of you know, today many students have received their AS and A2 results. Annoyingly I woke up really early, feeling pretty worried about what I was going to get. I walked into school for the final time (which is a crazy thought!) to pick up the envelope and then opened them in the car before making my way home.

I think what is the most overwhelming thing when picking up results is not just the grades themselves, but knowing the sheer amount of work and effort you have put into them – two years worth! – and that once opened, all the stress and anxiety that has built up because of them can now be let go of. It’s a feeling you can’t really describe.

When it comes to results, I admit I really am a perfectionist; I set all these high standards for myself and then when I don’t reach them, beat myself up about it. It’s good because it keeps me motivated to do the best than I can do, but then I get frustrated when I don’t get what I think I deserve. To be honest, when I first opened my results today I got a bit upset with one of my grades. Going to study English Literature at uni in September, I really wanted to get an A or A* in English A level, just to prove to myself that I deserved a place there, so to get a B was kind of disheartening. It didn’t make any sense when I’d got an A in my coursework, had put everything into the exams and thought it had actually gone really well. And it sounds crazy that I’d get upset over it, but it’s something that I can’t help.

But then once the initial shock had settled in I realised: what did it matter? I am an idiot for getting upset about one tiny grade when I already have a place at my uni of choice. Okay yes, it does feel like some of my efforts went to waste. But hey, I did everything that I could possibly do and that’s all that matters.  

So I am now proud to say that I achieved AAB and I am really happy about it! I never would have thought in a million years that I could have got an A in maths and after all the detailed mind maps and memorisation I did for Religious Studies, an A is a really great achievement.

So for all of you out there who are in the same position, receiving your results today, I just want to say that you did such a great job, no matter what grades you got! The examiners have no idea how much strain you have put up with just to get a letter, and to survive A levels in itself is a achievement. For me, it’s literally been a two year bundle of complete and utter stress which is such a relief to finally be able to throw out the window! And I know that a lot of you are probably feeling the same!

I wrote a piece of writing a few days ago about how no matter what way you go in life – whether you go a longer route than expected, or are finding it hard to keep your positivity – you will always get there in the end. And I think this message is vital particularly on a day like this – to remember that you’re all such intelligent beings no matter what grades you’ve achieved and you will get where you want to be! I’m sure of it!

Daughter [Music Review]

Daughter is a band that I’ve known of for years but never properly listened to. I think sometimes when you hear an artist is of a certain genre or style you kind of assume whether you will like it before actually listening. However recently I’m trying to be more open with listening to different styles.

As you already know if you’ve read my blog, I predominantly listen to pop punk and post-hardcore. I play the clarinet and the piano so I also like classical music and I love acoustic songs in general – they’re just great. Daughter is kind of a mixture between all of these I would say. They may not sound remotely close to punk or rock but their lyrics are certainly devised of the same emotional proportion and meaning. And in terms of sound, they have a kind of relaxing-classical-film-music vibe to them, if you were to take away the lyrics and listen purely as a stripped back piece of music. I think this is how – despite being an indie band far from my usual taste – they have somehow made itself onto my iPod. And I really think that’s great – to have something different for a change.

Whilst Daughter have a few more upbeat songs, I definitely prefer the more mellow ones. I kind of feel like it’s the type of music that would be perfect to listen to at night in a car or whilst walking in the rain (which I actually did the other day and it was really atmospheric!)

I just wanted to share a few of my favourite songs of theirs below with some words on each:

Numbers

This is the first song I listened to by Daughter and I instantly really liked the vibe to it. I love how the title “NUMB-ers” corresponds with the lyric “I feel NUMB”.

 

Made of Stone

This one is really relaxing but also the concept of being “made of stone” I find to be really interesting – moments where things feel so wrapped up in your head you bottle feelings until they can no longer be felt. And the fear that maybe they won’t come back.

 

Doing the Right Thing

This song is from the perspective of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s and so it has really become something quite personal to me as my granny used to suffer from it. The concept of “losing children” and “losing love” merely within one’s mind, despite them being physically there, is just something so awful; having to sit in front of a television and none of it soaking in because there’s a limit to the capacity of remembering; the cyclical structure of everyday replaying knowing there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. And I think this song really captures this moment perfectly.

 

Smother

I think of all the songs mentioned here, Smother has the saddest undertone – it just feels so raw; full and yet completely void of emotions simultaneously. But I absolutely love it for this and it’s possibly my favourite of the list.

 

Touch

This song is equally as relaxing but I love the echoing of drums almost like a heartbeat in the background – irregular, just like the emotions expressed. There is quite a dragged out sound to Touch which I really like – the idea of having to impatiently wait to “feel something” – and this is reinforced with the lengthened end even after the singing has ceased.

 

Shallows

I love the build up on this song – from the initial sombre start to the introduction of the drums on the second verse. It fluctuates a lot between these two different modes and so whilst you can appreciate the light strumming of guitar chords, you also feel the intense emotions, just as any other human being who finds themselves within changing moods.

 

Daughter have a new album that is being released later this year for a video game so I am interested in hearing what that will sound like, but for now I hope this was something a bit different to listen to on my blog. Let me know if you’re also a fan 🙂

You can do this. [flash-fiction]

I walked through the fields in the middle of the day in the middle of the week in the middle of the month and I thought: where has this year gone? it’s like we waste a whole glass of water just to drink half of it. it’s like we walk all the way round the field just to get to the middle of it. there is no easy route to finish off this day and finish off this week and finish off this month but eventually we’ll get there. once we walk round the field and drink a whole glass of water, we will get there. it may take longer, but we will get there. 



Answering “big talk” questions!

A week ago I published a blog post about why I hate small talk and why we should “big talk”. I gave you all a list of questions and some of you answered them which was really great and I enjoyed looking at it from a different perspective. Here I will be sharing my own answers in response to the questions so you can learn a bit more about me in return 🙂

1. Do you believe in life after death? How would you want to live on in the afterlife? How do you think you’ll live on?

To be honest, I’m unsure of whether there’s a life after death. I’m the kind of person who needs proof to completely believe in something and so I have no real conclusion about it. However, it does scare me to think that when we leave this world there is a void of nothingness, so I like to think that there is some sort of purpose. Ideally, I think it would be cool to be reincarnated and live again in another body. I find it quite hard to comprehend at times – the idea of not remembering a past life is a confusing thought – but I still like to think that it will happen, just so that I have some sort of purpose or that I can come back and change things I would have liked to have done before.

2. Do you think there is an alternate reality and if so, how does it correspond to this world?

Again, there is no proof of an alternate reality so I am neither a believer nor non-believer, but I love thinking about the concept of one. Sometimes we all have days where we feel happy or down for no reason and perhaps that corresponds to an alternate reality where we feel the opposite of our other self. The idea of there being another version of me is pretty weird, but also kind of exciting. I don’t know. Maybe it exists or maybe it doesn’t. But maybe someday we’ll find out!

3. Do you believe in soulmates or having more than one?

I’m not sure I really believe in soulmates, however I do believe that there are some people you have an instant connection with – whether that is as friends or as a relationship. Some people you easily click with and others you don’t. Some people you become closer too quicker than others who you may have known for ages. It’s unpredictable. Therefore I think if you considered these connections as “soulmates” of some sort, you can have more than one, yes.

4. Is anything in this world real?

To be honest, it isn’t guaranteed that it is. This is all we’ve known so how we would know otherwise? We could be part of a video game. We could be a made up dream inside someone’s head. Maybe I’m the only person who exists in this world and everything else, including all of you guys, is a figment of my imagination. But either way, to prevent myself going insane, I have to pretend that it is all real. And after all, it is real enough. If we haven’t known any different, it has to be considered our reality.

5. Is evil born within someone or does it grow with age?

I don’t think that anyone was born evil; I’m pretty sure we were all born somewhat pure. Society and other people’s influences on our lives is what shapes us into a good or evil person. Everyone has the potential for goodness and everyone has the potential to be evil. Some are just unlucky in the path of life they’ve taken and things have caused them to become a worse off person than they could have been. However I do think that some people are more susceptible to becoming evil than others, depending on their personality. This is not something that can be helped and so really the person themselves cannot be blamed, but there are certain traits and attributes which might make someone more vulnerable to aspects of life, and thus lash out in different ways. Considering this, I therefore believe that no one is actually born evil, but some people are born with a higher susceptibility to become it.

6. Does true freewill exist?

Again, this is something that is pretty debatable because there is really no way of knowing whether we have actual freewill. We like to think that we do. When we make decisions we are pretty sure they are coming from our own brain. But really, how can we prove that they are? Perhaps our future actions are already determined and there is a higher being that knows exactly what route we will take – has chosen what route we will take. It’s inevitably impossible to know how free we really are.

7. What is considered art?

This is a difficult one because in some sense, everything is art. When I think of the concept of art I see it as something that I can extract a meaning or story from. It expresses an emotion or an experience in perhaps an abstract way. Holistically, anything can do this. You can take a meaning out of anything in this world and give it a life if you choose to. However I think what makes true art is something that someone has created from within the realms of their head, rather than something that is natural. It goes against the laws of nature and becomes a mind-process rather than a physical process. This of course rules out nature, but for those who believe in God, nature may be believed to be designed by Him so surely that is art too? Even a bottle of hand soap, for instance, was designed by someone so isn’t that art too? This makes it quite complicated to draw a line between what is or what is not art. Therefore I think it is conclusively a subjective concept. What you think expresses meaning is meaningful enough to be art for you. It may not be art to someone else but it is still art. Really, there is no way of proving otherwise.

8. Does complete happiness exist or is it just an unobtainable concept?

Without trying to sound completely cynical, I don’t think complete happiness can ever really be achieved. I think happiness as a concept exists – of course it does – and there are many things in this world that make people smile and cause a sense of enjoyment. However the fact that the opposite of these things exist too – that we are also weighed down by sadness and stress and tragedies – means that there is no way to completely clear our head of what is “bad”. And without clearing our head of what is “bad”, how can we be completely happy? We can become close, but we can never actually reach it.

9. Is there ever a right or wrong? Is anything really objective?

There are lots of things in this world that are seemingly objective – government laws and educational grades – however when you really think about it, these aren’t really objective at all. If they were initially created by people, they were initially created by an individual thought which in itself is a matter of opinion. Not everyone has the same opinion – it is impossible to – and so really the creation of laws were a matter of subjectivity. We have been forced to follow them objectively despite their roots and have become accustomed to not do otherwise. We can even think about language itself – it is objective as in there is a right and wrong way to use it, however it was once created by people just like us who made it up out of nowhere. It was merely a sense of imaginative thinking. Everything that exists today originated from a sense of subjective thinking and so can anything really be considered right or wrong if it all stems from human intuition?

10. Can we really believe anything anyone says when we have only experienced our own conscious reality?

This last question kind of links to the previous one in that it questions the strength of a sense of duty in this world, however it also mentions our own conscious reality and how we see things. I find it really interesting how we can never really see anything from someone else’s perspective, no matter how hard we try. We can come close to it, but it will never be the same because, as the question says, we have only ever experienced our own conscious reality. This makes it difficult for us to believe in what people say because ultimately we can’t really trust anything when we have no complete proof. However I think that we have to trust to some extent because that is the only way to move forward in our lives. We may not ever understand the reality of others but we can get to know them from an outsiders perspective and for some, this is enough. Whilst I often wish I could delve into the lives of others to know what it’s really like, I know it’s not possible (or not yet, anyway) and so we must make do with how things are. Maybe some people are not genuine but that’s just how life is.

So overall, this post turned out a lot longer than I expected. I’m sure most of you won’t have read through all of that but I am going to post it anyway as I think it’ll be nice to look back on this in a few years time to see if any of my views have changed.

I hope summer is going well for you all and I wish anyone who is getting A level results on Thursday a lot of luck! I hope you all get the grades you deserve! 🙂

granny. [flash-fiction]

they tell me you’re gone and i don’t know how to feel. it’s hard to know how to feel when you’ve been sitting in a puddle of suffering for too many days. it’s such an incomprehensible thought – that someone that was once here is now gone. it’s such an incomprehensible thought – that you were here and now you aren’t. and i wish you could come back as your former self, as your body 10 years ago who knew how to speak and would remember all the little things before Alzheimer’s stole it. and i like to think that you’re okay now. i hope that you’re okay now. and that when i put my fingers to the piano i can play all the notes you left me in this world…

and all the notes that i will remember in your name. 

Trip to see Phantom of the Opera! (and Waterstones of course)

Today I took a trip into London to see Phantom of the Opera which was seriously cool! I love going to the theatre so this was something really fun to do over the summer (although it feels like winter with this weather).

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Phantom of the Opera has been in the theatres for a long time now and although I’d heard of it, I never really knew much about it. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the music score and I really loved it! I recognised the main theme song so it was nice to hear something familiar, but I loved hearing the other songs too. The guy who played the Phantom was really exceptional I thought and suited the role well, however it is hard to fault any of the actors really! I love how they sing with so much expression.

I tried to predict the ending however I didn’t get it quite right – I won’t spoil it for any of you, just in case! But it was a really good show and I enjoyed watching it. There was even a little girl who screamed when one of the firework things were set off on stage so that was pretty entertaining in itself.

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Before the show, I also took a trip to Waterstones because if you’re in Piccadilly Circus and you love books as much as I do, taking a trip into Waterstones is an absolute must. It has 5 floors which is literally insane and I found this really cool section full of stationary and notebooks and little gift-like things which is my new favourite place. I bought this cute book to the left in the attempt to practice some drawing, which is split into sections with a random object name for you to sketch.

So overall it was a pretty good day 🙂 How is everyone’s summer going?

Why I hate small talk – let’s “big talk”!

The idea for this post stemmed from a video I watched on YouTube a while ago – the idea that some of us out there are more interested in what is known as “big talk” rather than “small talk”. This is the concept of approaching someone and asking them deeper questions which revolve around us and our existence or the personal experiences of someone else, rather than the everyday questions of “how are you?”

This is something that I’ve contemplated for a while, being someone who finds the overused conversation of “hi, how are you?”, “yeah I’m good, how are you?”, “I’m good too, thanks” really irritating. I find that if you don’t know the person well enough, then the likelihood of you actually opening up to the question to give a meaningful answer is very low, so what is the point in asking it?

The woman in this video puts together a selection of clips where she asks strangers deeper questions and I love the idea of this. It gets people to actually dig their brain for a suitable answer and think beyond the realms of everyday thinking which is a lot more beneficial than replying by reflex. So I thought, why not bring the same to the blogging world?

I will ask an array of questions below that are considered “big talk” and it would be great if you could pick one (or as many as you like) to answer in the comments and we can have a discussion! Similarly, if you have a question you’d like to share, feel free to share it too as I’d love to answer 🙂

  1. Do you believe in life after death? How would you want to live on in the afterlife? How do you think you’ll live on?
  2. Do you think there is an alternate reality and if so, how does it correspond to this world?
  3. Do you believe in soulmates or having more than one?
  4. Is anything in this world real?
  5. Is evil born within someone or does it grow with age?
  6. Does true freewill exist?
  7. What is considered art?
  8. Does complete happiness exist or is it just an unobtainable concept?
  9. Is there ever a right or wrong? Is anything really objective?
  10. Can we really believe anything anyone says when we have only experienced our own conscious reality?

You can now read my answers to these questions here.

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