Forever a small fish in a big pond

Monday, 30 March 2020

COVID-19; A change in plan.



March started off so exciting and positively overwhelming for me, I handed in my last academic essay of my degree; finally after three years the end was in sight. I was finding my feet within my first contracted job role, loving getting stuck in and exploring how I could contribute to the growth of our organisation; and then of course, the big one.... masters... I made the decision to apply for my masters degree, something which a year ago was never on my radar. I decided that my life in Wales was not something I wanted to pack up and leave just yet, and my journey at USW wasn’t ready to be over. So I applied.... and I got in.
I was starting to have a plan. For the first time in a long time I was starting to look beyond the next 3 months. I had aborted the idea of rushing back to my home comforts at the end of my degree, and I was beginning to shape life as I wanted.

Thursday 12th March; I got my official offer to study my MA degree in Working for children and families.
A week later: The UK confirms lockdown.

Wait. What?

Back it up a minute. This wasn’t part of the plan.


In a 7 day period, my life went from signing up for an extra year at university, to my time at university (for this year at least) ending without me even knowing. Where I was starting to plan the next few years, suddenly I don’t know what’s going on in the next few hours.

Anyone who's known me for a while... knows.... I thrive off a plan. My life has always involved the need to plan. Since a young age myself and my family have had to plan... if there was something I couldn’t reach? Plan how to reach it? If there was something that didn’t fit. Plan how to make it. If I knew my parents were going out for the day; I knew I had to plan everything I needed from the moment they left, to the moment they came back so that they could reach it for me before they left. If I go-out, I need to know that I could reach public facilities and get wherever I’m going safely. The height of public toilets. The height of ticket machines. How big the curbs are on the road; are they manageable?
Everything has always needed a PLAN.
Well let me tell you one thing.... COVID-19; doesn’t cate about your plans.

One week on from accepting to be a MA student, I was now left accepting the fact that my final semester of university; is going to take place in my home. Something which I don’t think anyone could’ve envisioned. The first few days; admittedly consisted more wallowing than working; I didn’t even know where to start. I made a semi-timetable to try and stick to the same working schedule as I would be having, had I still been at university, but by day 4 I had already missed half of my to-dos.
I was beating myself up. Big time. Caught up in how I had gone from feeling so positive about my studies; to not even being able to get my head down to write a sentence. The concept of everything was overwhelming... and not for the reasons March had started off as! And with each day in my schedle that I didn't stick to; only came a even smaller motive to attempt the day after. I wasn't getting anywhere, I wasn't any closer to achieving anything; but you know what was getting closer- DEADLINE DAY.

But after realising that walloing in my self-pity wasn't going to get me anywhere, nor was beating myself up about the situation, I took a deep breath and decided each day, I only had one plan: and that was to try. That's it. 

Try to stick to my homelearning plan
Try and make sure I get out for a walk
Try and make sure I sceduled a work post
Try and get a little bit closer to the end goal, than I was yesterday. 
but more importantly; TRY and not beat myself up if I don't.

and you know what? It worked. Elimintated, was the pressures. Gone, was the fear of not meeting deadlines. Removed, was the fear of not having a plan. And instead, I took it one day at a time..... (I mean I'm still human, this isn't the case everyday... but you get my jist)

Somedays work a dream, essays get written, books get read, dinners get cooked, targets get met.... other days.... I eat.... that's about it. And I count that as an equal achievement. 

In a time period of 2 weeks, life for everyone has been turned upsidedown, for me; my whole way of learning has had to change. I no longer have the comfort of my classroom to help me achieve my degree, or the ability to jump on a train home whenever I want. Everything changed, for everyone. 

So who cares if all you've done is eat today. Or if you've written 1 sentence instead of 2. If the washing up didn't get done or homeschooling lasted 20 minutes.. We're doing good. Doing good working under pressures that even the most detailed and well thought out plan, wan't prepared for. We've been faced with the impossible.

Yet we're all still trying.

That's an achievement in my books. 
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Wednesday, 11 March 2020

To the girl who’s moving away.... the things I wish I heard someone say.




To the girl who’s moving away...... (The things I wish I heard someone say.)

This is your story now. Every day will be new to anything you’ve known before. And for sure every day will be different alright! Some days you’re gonna feel independent, strong and loved and other days you’ll feel forgotten and confused!


Nobody’s told you how emotionally and physically hard this process is, even though nobody is telling you it’s easy either. Everyone is so excited for you. You’re being reminded constantly how this is such a big decision, and you made it. But that doesn’t make the pain any less. You choosing to walk away doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to cry when you leave. 


The phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, and FaceTime calls... they can only do so much on the days you’ll need advice, the days you crave a hug, or you just need someone to vent to. You’ll miss their smell. Their voice. Some days you’ll worry that you’re forgetting all of that.... and on the days they don’t call, you’ll wonder if perhaps they’re living happily without you. Perhaps that they’re forgetting too.


All the birthdays, and holidays you miss, and the photos you follow that you aren’t in... you may click, but inside you’ll resent them. You’ll look at it over and over. Imagining how different the picture could be if you were in it too. Imagining how different the bigger picture would be too.... if only you were there... Some days you’ll wish you could drop everything and go back. And others you’ll wish they’d come to you. You’ll wish you could just run home, you’ll wish you could hug your best friend, your family... even your dog, but that this time you’ll have no time limit to how long it can last. You wish your mum would lecture you time after time again about the things you once moaned about.... and that your friends would have a sleepover with you... or even just sit in silence over a coffee... because it wouldn’t matter what you did..... Just that you were just present.


That you were back.


But the hard thing about all of this, is there is no going back. You’re there now.. There to grow, there to provide for yourself and your future. It’s your job now.... to remember all those moments and cherish them as much as you can, and never take any moment for granted when you get to do any of those things again. It’s a rollercoaster but one that will turn your life upside down for the better.... first you just have to cling on for the ride.


Some days you’ll be in your bathroom breaking down, and other days you’ll miss the phone calls from home as you’re so busy embracing life. One day can feel so different to the next. One hour even. It can be anything... the smell of a sweatshirt, a song on the radio... the photos you find as you’re clearing out your bottom drawer. It’s ok. Ok to feel the feelings. And ok for them to change. There’s no deadline. No point where they’re no longer allowed. No one expects you to switch off and forget. You may be fine for months- and then a tear will fall when you least expect it. Allow it. With no explanation. No one thinks less of you for missing the comfort of your own bed even if you haven’t been back to visit for weeks. It comes in waves. And the painful thing is that you can’t stop them. But you can ride them. And you will.


But as you do remember why. Remember why you packed your bag in the first place. And all those who were excited for you.... and still are! Remember that they didn’t leave you, they didn’t forget you. They’ll always be there. As happy when you’re back as you are. They have to get on with their lives as much as you do yours but it’s ok. Ok for you all to be happy in different places. But ok that sometimes you feel sad about that too.


It’s okay to miss home,

Home misses you

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Monday, 2 March 2020

Being the dancer with a difference


Dance was always something I loved. For as long as I could remember I always recall dance being part of my life. I was a quirky, fun loving child, and I loved being part of my after-school dance club, taking part in multiple showcases and competitions. I wasn’t really aware of my difference back then, I was just having fun, doing something that I loved to do.
But when secondary school hit, my love for dance was pushed aside and replaced by insecurities. Due to my dwarfism, the size difference between me and my peers was far more apparent than what it had been before, and as I became older, the dance moves I was being taught got more and more complex. I was falling behind, I didn’t feel very good at it anymore. Suddenly the thing I loved to do, was becoming something that instead was making me feel rather lame about myself. The world isn’t always kind when you’re different. Society has expectations of how we should look, and when you don’t reach those expectations sometimes the reaction of others is a bitter one. It was this, that took dance away from me, the words hurt too much too outweigh the passion, and the thought of all eyes on me on the stage, gave me a feeling of fear, not fun.
So at age 11, I gave in, hung up my dance shoes and tried to live life, drawing as little attention to myself as possible. I didn’t want the limelight anymore, not when I was attracting the negative opinions and comments of others just by walking down the street. It’s fair to say that any quirk I had, had now gone, and instead I was starting to believe the things the bullies would say. I went from standing in front of a studio mirror all day, to not even wanting to look in one at all.

But this wasn’t to be forever….

Fast forward to 2016, my self-confidence was slowly starting to improve after moving on from secondary school and finding my feet in the real world. However my spark was still dim. But that was soon about to change, when I was invited to the Dance Sway Nationals in 2016 as make up assistant for a dance crew called ‘Audacity’. As I watched their performance from the side-lines, I saw in them, the same enjoyment and fulfilment as the 10 year old me had once had. I saw people doing what they loved, for fun, and feeling rather good about themselves for it… something which I didn’t think I’d find in dance again… that is until my boss looked to me and said ‘Come on, Why don’t you give it a go’….

So I did.

A year on, I returned to the same competition, with the same crew, but this time they didn’t rely on me to do their make-up…. but instead to dance alongside them. Until then I don’t think I ever thought I had the courage to perform again, but there I was, back doing something that I loved…. something that was becoming fun again. Was it easy? Nope? There were many tears, many times I wanted to quit, times I would compare myself to those dancing beside me, and be jealous of the moves that they picked up so quick… times I wish I could just do it as easy and as well as they could… and many times I thought to myself was I really good enough for all this after all? It had been almost six years since I had last performed, I had gotten much older, and therefore the moves which I was expected to be able to deliver, were far more intense than the Disney songs 8 year old me used to jump around to. The physical challenge this had on my body, presented me with a huge mountain to climb.
I still had the same body as 8 year old me. It wasn’t any bigger or stronger than it was back then… But if I was going to peruse my passion and keep up with the almost grown adults I was competing alongside, then I had to find a way to be stronger than the challenges that were in front of me. And the only thing I had stronger than the challenges, was my passion. That and a little bit of stubbornness too!!

Some days were hard..

Somedays I would fail to keep up, and other days I would watch from the side-lines whilst my body dealt with injury and pain. But every time, I got back up. Every time, I tried again. And every time, I pushed through the barrier of doubt tormenting me. Okay, I’ve never been the best…. I’m not the quickest or most skilled dancer, and to this day there are things which I can’t do, and probably won’t ever do. But that’s ok…. why? Because I may not be the best, but I am doing my best, and above all of that, I am doing something that I love, and something that I want to do, and no one, is going to take that away from me again.
For so long I used to be afraid to step back out there… to have all eyes looking at me because in the past, never once has that been a positive experience. I let the words and opinions of others hold me back. But I’ve come to learn that those who stare, those who laugh…. they’ll have two minutes of my life… but the confidence, motive and purpose that comes from when I dance…. that will stay with me for a lifetime. I will never be able to change how some people may see me, but I can change how I see myself, and you know what, some days, I don’t even notice my difference anymore.

If I could say anything, to anyone who may be being held back, at the fear of feeling different, or the fear that perhaps you may not be good enough. It would be, to be brave. Take the leap of faith. Be bold enough to step out there. And be the version of yourself that you want to be, not who anyone else expects you to be. We are only held back by the limits we set ourselves, and when I let go of those limits back in 2016, my life was opened to a whole new world of opportunity. I found my spark again.

Third place at the UK Welsh Street Dance Nationals
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