Let’s Never Grow Up

This year, I turn twenty. That is so strange to me. Twenty seems like it should be some kind of cut-off point. You’re no longer a teenager at twenty. It’s the age when you’re expected to start putting your teenage tendencies behind you and try to act like an adult. Legally in the UK, you become an adult at eighteen, although most of us seem to think that we’re adults on our sixteenth birthdays. The truth is, we’re not. We’re only pretending.

At nineteen, we’re more like adults-in-training than real, proper, responsibility-having adults. I mean, yes, we have responsibilities but everything that we need to worry about is still way ahead in the future. We’re only tasting freedom. Especially us students – it’s all just practise. All of the Big Things – getting our own house, having a career, kids, marriage – for most of us, are things that might happen eventually but not right now, so we don’t have to think about it. Some of us might have our own houses already. A lot of us have jobs, and most people will be at least thinking about what career they want to work in. Some nineteen year olds might even have kids or be married, or both, but in my experience for the most part, we’re still only practising.

Some people disagree. When I’ve voiced this opinion before, I’ve been told firmly that no, I am definitely an adult, there’s no getting away from it. Yes. Legally, I am definitely, absolutely, no question about it, an adult. But I don’t feel like one, and I don’t think I will for a long time yet. I’m still learning. I’m still figuring everything out. All of the things that people tell you your teenage years are for, I’m still working on now.

For example, I don’t know what I want to do in my future. I know that there are some things I want out of life, like a career that involves writing, and way, way in the future, I want to be a mum. But other than that, I don’t have a clue. I’m at university. I’m on a very industry-specific course. There are people who expect me to have chosen a path by now and be working on getting to my chosen destination, but I think I’d prefer to go on an adventure and explore all of the beautiful places I could go before I decide where to spend the rest of my life. There are so many options out there, and I change my mind all the time. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of that. The only thing that’s been a constant love of mine forever is writing.

And I still don’t know who I am yet, but I don’t think anyone does, really. I know some things about myself but they are prone to change every now and then, and the person I thought I was yesterday might be a completely different person to who I feel like today. We might broadcast one or two versions of ourselves to the world, but we’re not that person all the time. We act different ways with different people. If you could see yourself with your friends, your family, and when you’re on your own, how do you know which version of you is the real you? They all are. We’re not just one person; we’re many. We’re all growing as people with every passing day, and we learn more and more about ourselves as the days go on.

As well as that, while all of the high-flying drama that seems to thrive in the air around teenagers might be over, my life is still riddled with worries and conflicts and problems, just like everyone’s. I’ve had my fair share of teenage drama in the past. My story is really not that different to everyone else’s, except that I went to a peculiar little school in the countryside where we had to do compulsory Eurythmy every week and participated in Michaelmas festivals where we dressed up as a dragon and pretend to be slain. But even then, I know at least nine other people who have those same tales to tell. (By the way, if you don’t know what Eurythmy is, it involves robes, cloth shoes, and gracefully waving your arms in the air as you float around the room. No, seriously.) I’m more than relieved that that period of my life, when every little thing was huge crisis and I was shrouded in a dangerous lack of self-confidence, is over. But even so, there have still been dramas in my life recently that make all of that angst look like nothing.

My point here is that while I might be leaving my teens behind at the end of this year, that doesn’t automatically make me an adult. I won’t suddenly start reading the newspaper every morning, fretting about bills, and tutting at childish things like believing in magic. The truth is, the news scares me and so does money, and I would happily believe in magic for the rest of my life if I could.

I think that we carry our teenage years with us through our entire lives. We might get to ninety and look at ourselves, and still find that struggling, confidence-lacking, angst-ridden version of ourselves shining through in some way. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that, even when we’re old and have seen everything there is to see, we’ll still be learning and growing every day.

I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t have a clue where all of those winding paths up ahead will lead me. And that’s great. I don’t want to.

Let’s just not grow up. Of course, let’s keep aging and experiencing and learning, but let’s just stay the same as we are right now – expectant and excited for things to come. Let’s remain wide-eyed and hopeful like children on Christmas Eve. Let’s keep having fun and finding sparkles in shadows, and never knowing what’s around the corner. Let’s live for now, like we did yesterday.

 

Below are some carefully selected images of me throughout my teen years, from the age of 14.

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A Pretty Epic Year

Goodbye 2015, what a crazy year you were! Although I haven’t done a lot of blogging lately, a lot has happened in my life and I can happily say that I am leaving the year a completely different – and better – person than I entered it.

The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

March – The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

It’s absolutely bonkers to me that this time last year, I was panicking about an A-Level drama performance that felt like it was going nowhere – but that I later passed with flying colours. Back then, I was just beginning to have doubts about the Creative Writing degree I’d applied for, and the BFI Film Academy course was creeping up on me with every passing day as I remained oblivious to just how life-changing it would be. I didn’t know half the people I know now. Everything was scary and intimidating. I had no independence. I was a different person. Before, the world was too big for me but now I’ve grown to fit the world a little bit more.

Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

April – Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

Last year, I made this post about my new year’s resolutions. This year, I’m not making any resolutions because for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m completely happy with who I am. This is a huge deal for me. I’ve always been self-conscious, caring too much about trivial things like my weight and what people thought of me. Over summer, I lost a lot of weight but even if I put it all back on now, I’d still be happy, and I’ve realised that what people think of me really doesn’t matter. I am happy with how I look and who I am.

September - The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

September – The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

I think the main reason for this is university. To say that going to uni at all was a last minute decision is an understatement, and I truly believe that had I not gone, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now. I’ve only done one semester so far, but already uni has given me more opportunities and experiences than I could have imagined. Just surviving on my own has given me a huge confidence boost. When you’re forced to be independent, you have to push your anxieties and fear aside and just go for it. And being thrust into a new city on the other side of the country where I know absolutely no one would have seemed like a nightmare to me last January – or even last August  – but now I could happily walk into a group of strangers and make friends. If I ever need to, that is.

November - Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

November – Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

My last uni update was back in September, and even more things have changed since then. I moved into a different halls of residence. When I took the first accommodation, I was told that I had to find somewhere new by December as the international students would then move in. So, the race was on for us to find somewhere else to live. I literally couldn’t have made a better decision when I chose this place. I don’t know if any of my new housemates will read this but there’s a good chance they will so I won’t make this too soppy. I’ll just say that from the moment I first set foot in this place, they welcomed me like family and I’m so glad I know them now. I’ll also say that before I moved in, I barely drank any alcohol. Now, thanks to them, I can probably be found lying on the stairs most Wednesday nights. Thanks a lot, guys.

December - the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

December – the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

Of course, the year hasn’t been all smiles, laughter and drunk antics. My final few months of college brought me a whole lot of stress and anxiety, and there was the terrifying few weeks at the beginning of summer when I passed out in hospital and the doctor said I’d had a seizure. But hey, if you’re gonna have a seizure anywhere, a hospital is probably the best place to have it! Even if it was the night before one of my exams. The beginning of uni was a difficult time too, when I wasn’t sure of anything, didn’t know anyone and missed home like hell. But clearly, as things have a tendency of doing, everything turned out alright.

And there are even more things to look forward to in 2016. First and foremost, my beautiful older sister is having a baby. We’re all so excited and I can’t wait to meet my little niece in April. Our family is going to make her the most loved little girl in the world. As well as that, we’re also going on holiday In the summer, straight off the back of this Christmas’s Disneyland trip, which is a whole other blog post in itself. And, of course, there’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them coming out in November. It’s all a Harry Potter fangirl can do to stay sane for so long. Well, as sane as I already am, at least.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

All in all, 2015 has been a pretty epic year for me, and I hope it’s been just as brilliant for you. I am so grateful to my family and friends – old and new – for being there for me when I needed you. Thank you to all of my housemates and coursemates. All of you are fantastic.

Happy New Year!

Two Days at the Derby Book Festival

This week was the grand opening of Derby’s debut Book Festival. This was the first year that the city has put on the festival and they definitely pulled out all the stops. The week was packed full of exciting events, from writing workshops to performance poetry. Special guests included Rufus Hound and Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse.

I attended two of these events. The first one was ‘A Conversation With David Nicholls’. David Nicholls is the author of the bestselling novel, ‘One Day’, and also the screenwriter of many Hollywood films including ‘Great Expectations’ and the recent ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’. David Nicholls is a very funny, down-to-earth man. He told us all about how he came up with Douglas, the main character of his new novel, Us, and how one particular incident in the book was inspired by a real life event involving an angry biker gang in Amsterdam.

The other event was on publishing – both the life of a publisher and how to get published. As someone who one day dreams of being published, the information I learned from this event was invaluable. The speakers – Julia Murday, a publicist at Penguin; Karen Ball, a publisher of children’s books; and Diane Banks, a literary agent – were fantastic. They explained what they look for in an author, and also gave advice on how to self-market your books. For example, we were told that as long as you’re careful with what you put out there, being active on social media is a huge help to your career, as it enables you to prove that your have contacts and potential book-buyers. They also stated that it’s incredibly important to keep an eye on the ever-moving trends, so if the time for bestselling sci-fi novels has passed, hold onto that manuscript and wait for the trend to come back round. Publishers are much more likely to choose your book if it fits in with the bestsellers at the time.

I highly recommend visiting a book fair to those of you who enjoy writing and reading. There are so many opportunities out there to meet and network with other people who one day might just be the contact you need to take a leap into your career, as well as all of the events that are held to teach you everything you need to know about the industry. There are over 350 book festivals in the UK, and the number keeps growing as they become increasingly popular. This was my first time attending one, but I know it will not be my last. I can’t wait for next year’s!derby book festival1

From Buses to Broadway to BFI BFFs

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Three months. It’s been three months since I last wrote to you. It’s unforgivable, I know, and I apologise profusely from the bottom of my heart. However, I do have an excuse: I’m a filmmaker now.

Since January, I have been attending a BFI Film Academy at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham (a lovely place by the way, with delicious cakes in the café – you should go there if you’re ever in the area). I honestly don’t know how I got onto this course. I remember my Media Studies teacher telling me about it after I moaned about the fact that I didn’t know what to do with my life, and then the next thing I knew, I was filling in an application form. I think I knew this was going to be an amazing thing when Ella (a tutor on the course), replied to thank me for the application and wish me happy birthday for the next day.

And then I got in! And so began the panic. I had only been to Nottingham maybe once in my life before, and my memory of getting the bus then didn’t go too well (cue lots of running and panicking and no money and no time and it was the last bus, and I didn’t know where I was or who I was with and gah! But that’s another story). I don’t know why I always panic about public transport so much. It’s not like anything bad has ever happened to me on a bus (touch wood!), but never mind. It turned out, as I was on the bus on the way to my first day of Film Academy, Dom, a guy from my drama group, was also heading to the same course. So I didn’t have to worry after all. Who’d’ve thought it?

I was so nervous on that first day, surrounded by a bunch of strangers (and Dom) who I was going to be working with for the next three months. I remember we had to write something down and I already had a pen in my hand, but Ella was handing them around and in my panicking, blustery mind I tried to take it from her, fumbled and dropped it, and wanted the ground to swallow me up. I was weird back then.

On that first day, I also met Shannon, who it turned out also went to my college but I’d never seen her before. We had to film a three-shot silent film with only one character and one prop, on a mobile phone. Guess who ended up as the actor. (Me.) Shannon was filming it. I think it might have been the scene where we left the lift and I had to turn dramatically to the camera that might have been the moment we clicked. Or it might have been the unstoppable laughter that came after that.

Over the next few weeks, we were given various lessons on things such as how to use the equipment, how to structure a story, how to dress a set, and many others. I don’t think I was particularly good at any of these things, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. And before every weekday session, in the time between college and Film Academy, we would gather in Broadway’s café and take advantage of our magical free teas. Those were the best.

The actual production project happened all of a sudden. One moment, 10968036_1069429213082493_1286670538_nwe were learning how to turn on the camera. The next, six of us were in a small, hot, smoke-filled room full of equipment, telling actors to make life difficult for each other. It was actually amazing to see the script that I had written be brought to life. I also brought in some props, which included a disgusting yellow blanket to go over the back of the chair. If you ever see the film, please ignore the continuity errors that occurred because of this prop from hell.

We had so much fun shooting this film, and our group was brilliant. Eleanor, Ben, Jordan, Finn and EB – if you ever want to make a film, these are the people to call. And the actors were amazing!

After the shooting was done, so began the editing process. As far as I know, the film is still being edited as we speak, and then the sound will still need doing afterwards. But once that’s done, the film will be all finished and shiny, and that’s when we’ll have our premiere.

The premiere is what I’m looking forward to the most. Not only will it be our chance to show off all of the hard work that everyone at BFI put into these films, the group will also be reunited.

Our last Film Academy session was pretty epic, and I think it stands to show how much we all loved this opportunity, because Joe Dempsie was just down the road giving a presentation at a local college, and no one ran away to meet him. Well, Jordan did, but he came back. One of the best moments was when, because we had bought a thank you card for the tutors, we all had to sneak out to sign it, but instead of going to the ‘toilet’ one at a time like normal people, we all went at the same time. As all of the girls crammed into a tiny public bathroom to sign the secret card, the boys were left to cover for us in the workshop. I’m not exactly sure how or why they chose this story, but they decided that when we came back in, we all had to dance. I did not.

But Sophie and Finn did! With a few of the classic dance moves (the shuffle and ‘reel him in’ included), they successfully distracted from the fact that we were blatantly doing something secret. The best part was when they began to feel awkward and decided to ‘teach’ us like Al and Roger, our tutors. Sophie snuck away in the guise of Roger by saying, “Roger would sit down and stroke his beard,” and she did just that. And then, of course, there was pizza and drinks, and lots of hugs and a little bit of crying, as we all departed from BFI for the last time.

Until the screening. Has it really only been three months since I didn’t know these guys?

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Ending Old Journeys and Starting New Ones

Well, this year has definitely been a journey. My 2014 resolution was to publish something, and thanks to the encouragement of my friends and family, I did just that. Granted, it wasn’t the book that I’ve envisioned in my future, but we’ve got to save something for this year, right? Nevertheless, seeing my theatre reviews in print in an actual magazine that people buy, gave me a feeling of pride that I’ll never forget. It was a huge moment for me. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me achieve this, especially Artsbeat’s editor, Amanda Penman, for giving me the opportunity to get my foot in the door.

I got through my first year of college this year. You may or may not know that I’ve found college to be a rather difficult challenge and have come close to giving up more than once. But I got through it, passed all my subjects, and so far my final year has been much better.

What else have I achieved this year? Well, this blog for one thing. Over the years, I’ve started and restarted so many blogs that I’ve lost count, but this is the first one that I’ve held close to my heart. And I think that shows because you have been so supportive of it. Thank you, everyone, for reading all of my mundane ramblings, putting up with my rants, and being interested in what I have to say. I wouldn’t be here writing this if it wasn’t for every single one of you.

I am so proud of all of my friends and family for what they have achieved this year. My dad’s football reviews are being published in the club’s magazine, my mum’s beautiful paintings are selling better than ever, my older sister has started a new (extremely busy) journey to midwifery, my brother has been promoted, and my little sister performed stunningly in her Class 8 Play before going off to Iceland with her friends at the beginning of summer. I can’t begin to describe how proud I am to have a family as kind and talented as them.

And what do I have to look forward to in 2015? In January, I’m attending a film course with BFI that could lead to all sorts of exciting things. I’ll be taking my exams and finishing college in summer, which will lead to me taking a new path into the unknown world of Adulthood, wherever that may be. Whether I start university or take a year out to focus on writing, I know that next year will be full of opportunities. And then, to celebrate my parents’ 25th anniversary, we’re going to Disneyland! Remember, this post from way back in May? Well, it’s finally happening! I guess publishing reviews was good enough. (Not that I’m giving up on the book front.)

I don’t truly believe in ‘resolutions’, as the word seems to discourage people to stick to them. But I do believe in making plans and goals for the coming year. So here are mine.

1. Write a book.
I’m not giving up on this. It will happen this year, I swear. I’ve made my first steps towards it, and nothing’s going to stop me now.

2. Write more, in general.
I’m going to write everything. Articles, blog posts, book reviews, theatre reviews, poetry, scripts, music, everything. If there’s something that I haven’t tried writing before, I’ll do it this year.

3. Learn guitar.
I’ve always wanted to be Ed Sheeran, but my chances of that were greatly diminished when I stopped my guitar lessons at five years old. Now, with a renewed sense of music, I will finally begin to achieve my dream of becoming a musical sensation (ha!).

4. Face my future.
I’m terrified of adulthood. Now, at eighteen years old, I’m not going to be scared anymore. Honest.

5. Eat healthier and exercise more.
This one is not a promise.

What are your New Year’s resolutions/plans? Let me know in the comments.

Merry Slightly Late Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Lots of love, from Beth.


Listening to: Wrecking Ball by Jasmine Thompson
Watching: Thor: The Dark World
Drinking: Schleur
Eating: Christmas chocolate