senior year advice & thoughts on starting university

Look, another personal one. Well, I hope it’s one you end up being a little wiser after reading. I have absolutely no clue if that will be the case (or if it should be that way, since I definitely don’t know if any of the stuff I have to say is to act upon). But before you skip this one right here, just let me say, I lived and I downright didn’t think I would. So, that’s something.

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetI’m a natural worrier. I over-think a ton. I’m also a perfectionist. Yet, a lot of things don’t come easily to me. I’ve always had to work a lot to do well. To some gifted humans out there it’s all quite natural, they can do well in all different kinds of fields without making the greatest possible effort. I’m not one of them. My special field is languages, no matter if it’s my mother tongue, which is German, English or French. I have a sense of feeling to rely on there, but I still worked so much for them, yet that was more due to my sense of perfectionism and wanting to do more than just well in assignments, exams or class in general. But no matter whichever type you are, if you have a special field or if you don’t, senior year can be quite overwhelming. I’ve been there, but I lived. Here’s what I believe helped me get through in one piece:

  • Don’t study with the same notes you wrote in class. I know, this might sound strange and sometimes there isn’t enough time to do it, but at least re-write your notes for an exam. I will never stop talking about how much more effective this is. If you study with the notes you took in class, you don’t have to think about the content again and you’re likely to just learn the words by heart. If this is what you do, then it’s possible that you don’t fully understand a topic, even if you’ve studied it several time. So, if a bigger exam is approaching, take the time and go through your notes again. Think about what knowledge you really need for it. Collect it, rearrange it, if it makes more sense in a different order (yes, that can happen!!). Read about it in books and on the internet to widen your knowledge or solve problems you might have with the topic. I’ve been doing that all the way through middle school and high school for almost every exam in all kinds of different subjects. It really helps. I promise. It gets you to a whole new level of understanding.
  • But I have another tip to add here. Everyone studies differently. There are people who memorize information best by listening, others by looking at it, …and far more than only these two kinds. Try to figure out which study-type you are. At the very start of high school a teacher of mine had my class turn the information of a text into little pictures, using as little key-words as possible to support them. I still have the sheet from that class and it was only a little later that I realized I was that kind of visual type. When I studied for an exam with my class notes I’d often know how the paper with the information looked like or where on the page it was situated, even if I could not remember the content. But not only do I still have that sheet of paper, I still remember the illustrations and the information they stand for. Visualization makes me study more effective, a lot faster. I need a lot of time to remember things, normally. I have to start studying far in advance to even have a chance to really get the knowledge through to me. Often times that time is simply nonexistent during A-levels. So I got back to doing doodles and it saved my life. Never would I have been able to pass my advanced history exam without it. The trick behind it is simple and you really don’t have to be a talented artist. The little symbols you come up with to remember content are for yourself and yourself only. Strangers often aren’t going to figure them out and they don’t have to. What’s important is that you do. The illustrations are something your mind can cling to while reproducing the knowledge during the exam. There are three steps to take when you want to study like this. 1) Make up the doodles based on the key-information. 2) Repeat the information to yourself only by looking at the symbols. 3) Repeat the information in your head only, going over the symbols in front of your inner eye …and there you are. (If you have any further questions about this, sure let my know and I’ll do my best to help!)
  • Take time off (even if it’s hard). I can’t say I really mastered this myself, but I highly recommend you to at least try. The point I’m trying to make is that breaks can be more effective than studying straight on for hours. Sit yourself down and tell yourself you’re going to take on one topic for thirty minutes and power through. Get something done and then go for a walk. Or read a few pages. Do whatever you enjoy, but find something that relaxes you, that takes your mind off things for a bit. My go to options during A-levels were taking a bath, going for a walk, journaling, napping, going out for coffee, meeting a friend or doing yoga, but it can be anything. Just maybe make sure to stay away from your phone, because when you spend all of your break scrolling through Instagram feeds of people doing anything except for studying that’s not going to brighten your day. Actually do something during that break, act like you’re not going back to work in a few minutes. Then sit yourself down again and study actively for another short amount of time. If you feel like you’re in a zone, keep going. You’re doing an amazing job xx.
  • Try not to over-think and don’t dwell on what belongs to the past. It’s that nudging feeling going out of an exam that didn’t quite go as we would’ve wished it would have gone and then thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it. Then crying. Then thinking some more, going through all the What-If-Situation. “If I would have studied even harder, stayed up longer, this might have gone differently.” Going through all the questions in your head, counting points, googling answers. I’ve done this. Several times. It’s definitely not healthy and it doesn’t help your overall progress. It gets you right to the academic bottom you never want to hit. All you can do is write it off. It happened. You tried. You did your best. Move on. Just keep going. You’re still going to get there. It’s all going to be okay and believe me, one exam, maybe even one whole subject, or two, are never going to give your certificate the death blow you imagine right now.
  • Get organized. This is one of the basics, but it just had to make this list, because planning and organizing and writing a hundred To-Do lists partly got me through too. I even got a little note pad that says “I love lists” and I really do. To make it easier just get a nice calendar or planner you will enjoy carrying around and writing in. Keep track of everything going on. What you want to do (to relax), what you want to do if there is time (school work only due in a week, for example), what has to be done (school work due the days ahead) and what you need to do (like cleaning, going to an appointment, ect.) for example. Get it all mapped out. Make lists. Tick things off as you go. Feel achievement setting in as you get things done.
  • Take naps. Yes, I know, there’s not much time for sleep, but if you are tired take a nap in the afternoon. When I came home in senior year I took a nap every single day. Half an hour already helps. Even twenty minutes would help and if it ends up being an hour, so what? You need sleep. I was really sleep deprived during my last year of school. I only got to bed between 0 and 1 am and had to get up at 6. It was great fun, but yet, here I am. Thank you for getting me through, naps! This one goes to you! Which brings me right to…
  • Always carry coffee and food with you. Fuel your brain, fuel your body. Don’t skip eating and no, not even breakfast. Breakfast is where it all starts. Yes, I get the no time thing, but then have something simple. An apple, a banana, yoghurt, cereal, juice, toast. Or have something ready the night before! There is a genius thing called overnight-oats and it’s really good. I’m serious, please eat. And don’t get me started on coffee. I don’t think I would’ve graduated without coffee (I’m kidding, a little). No, my point is, if there is something that can accompany you while studying, that you’re passionate about then that’s to you what coffee is to me. Sitting down to study with a cup of coffee always felt better than sitting down “alone”, if you get what I mean. This brings me to my last tip…
  • Create an atmosphere you feel motivated working in. Keep your desk clean, but make it a little personal too. Decorate it, if you feel like it. Put up photos, line up your pens, whatever. You name it. This is your space. This is where you’re going to get that work done. Make it yours. My most loved study-setup will always be Ava (my dog) sleeping beside me, a cup of fresh coffee, a crisp breeze coming from the open window, a lit scented candle. Some people love studying in pajamas. I’m not really one of them. I’ve definitely done it, but if I have the time then I prefer getting a little more “ready”. I don’t get dressed up, definitely not, but putting on a fresh shirt and a comfortable jeans already does a lot for me. So, figure out which kind of person you are, what you need to have with you to get you behind that desk to get some work done.
  • But also remember that a change of scenery can do wonders if you are stuck. Or if there is just so much course work and studying to do you don’t really have time to take breaks and you’re in that non-stop working grind. I liked moving out to coffee shops once in a while. Though I was usually most productive behind my desk at home, going out to a café and taking some work with me at least helped me feel less guilty about leaving the house (yes, I was that deep in the zone). And hey, coffee shops serve coffee and food! What’s more motivating? If that still doesn’t do it for you, invite a friend. Have a study-date. I’ve had a few during A-levels and I really recommend you to do it. The presence of another working human next to you sometimes is all it takes to get you going too. Try it out.

But senior year is far more than just the studying, the tons of assignments and important exams. Because suddenly there is this unknown darkness lurking at the of the tunnel, the future, that time after graduation. I’ve been there, god, I probably still am in the very mid of the whole transition. Graduating was hard for me. It was an emotional rollercoaster. The day I had my last real classes before leaving to prepare for finals I lay on my bedroom floor and cried. It only took me two days to start missing class. The first Monday after I wanted to go again. I wanted my routine back, I wanted everything to go back to normal. But there was no going back. So I immersed in studying for finals. I studied and studied and then they were there and a whole month had passed. The day after my last written final I started preparing my oral one. I went all in, studied every single day for another month. The moment I walked out of that exam I was ready to burst into tears of relief. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. I took a weekend off from studying before going right back in, because I had signed up to do DELF B2, but I was downright exhausted. Time was running. A week from there I finished DELF and all of a sudden it was June with only a few more weeks to graduation and prom. I expected the emotions to hit me, but they didn’t.

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It took me almost another month to sink in. There were so many tears. I just missed class (I still do) and even though school often brought me to absolute rock-bottom I was desperate to go back. Not everyone feels like this, but this is what graduating was like for me. I just couldn’t imagine how life was supposed to keep going. I was afraid of letting things go and changes and breaking out of routines and leaving familiar surroundings. Graduating meant all of this. I’m still afraid, but I’ve come to the point of accepting that there is no going back and that it’s okay. I’m still afraid, but I know where I’m headed towards. I’m still afraid, but I know I’m going to be okay. I know that I’m going to love studying at university. It’s what I’ve always imagined myself doing. I know that I’ll grow to love the surroundings university provides, even though they are entirely new to me now. I know that it will take me some time to get there, to stop being downright terrified about the change, about having to meet a ton of strangers, getting lost trying to find a class and being late. I know that I probably won’t make the transition without shedding a couple of tears, may it be out of fear, panic or stress. But I know that I’ll get there. I know that I’m going to be more than just okay. I know that university will take a special place in my heart. I just know and I can’t wait for the adventure this journey provides. I thought I would never be ready for it, but sitting here finishing writing this, tears are stinging my eyes and just like that I know. I know that I’m ready for this.

May you live bravely.

Love to you all, Anna Xx

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the reason behind why I do what I do online

There are a ton of reasons behind why people do what they do on the Internet, but self-staging plays a role quite often and I genuinely hate that. The Internet has become, or rather always been, the one and only place where everything can easily be faked; identities, lives, looks, personalities, relationships and things far beyond my knowledge. But even if we stay realistic, most people only tend to share the positive and I can downright understand why they do. We want to share our happiest moments, memories, our best selves for the world to see, blending out the negatives. Fact is, those negatives are part of our lives all the same. Flaws make us human. Life consists of ups and downs; it’s never a straight graph. But that’s not what people see when they scroll through their news feed on social media and I, among quite some others, want that to change. That’s my reason number one behind why I do what I do on the Internet.

Ever since I started Instagram roughly around five years ago, it has been my sanctuary. I probably don’t have to go into detail about being unpopular in middle and high school, but it is what it is. It’s not really the others fault though, I guess I myself am to blame here. Growing up I became more and more shy. I was quite straightforward as a kid, always talking, always longing for attention, blabbering to complete strangers, making friends anywhere. I don’t know what changed, but I have never been that way again since I was about seven. The years around 7th and 8th grade have probably been among the hardest ones of my life up until today. I had immense trouble opening up to classmates. I didn’t behave childish, but since I have always been among the youngest, I felt I didn’t belong. At that time I would go straight up to my room when I got home from school and cry. It was only about a year later that I set up my Instagram account. After some getting used to the platform I went all out. It was the first time in a while that I felt understood. I started publishing short stories, joined group chats about books and eventually started photography. That took me about two years, but I was happy. I had people who truly appreciated who I was and what I was doing. My follower count was at 500 by then. I wanted to scream it out into the whole world, but it was a close-kept secret. I didn’t want anyone near me to know. But my account kept growing and I kept going and then I hit 1000 and I felt like I was going to burst if I didn’t tell my family and closest friends, so I did. The support was immense and I started to be downright passionate about what I was doing online. I shared simple photos of books I took with my phone, captioning them with personal words and stories or my opinions on books. After four years my follower count hit 5000. I was over the moon, started using an actual camera. Within only another year that follower count doubled. Roughly another twelve months have passed since then and here I am. Through it all Instagram has been my sanctuary.

So yes, the selfish reason behind why I do what I do on the Internet, is because it was the only place where I felt like I belonged, felt safe enough to open up. I am more than just thankful I took this step all those years back. It helped me find out who I am, and who I wanted to be all along. But that’s only the reason behind why I did what I did when I  first started my journey. The Internet, and the people behind the screens all over the world, has done me a lot of good and lately I have been trying to give something back. Which brings me to the reasons why I do what I do on the Internet today.

The reason why I do what I do on here is to make the world just a little better, a little kinder, day after day. I do what I do on here to raise awareness; no matter if that awareness is about body image issues or social media perfectionism or mental health. I do what I do to spread kindness. I do what I do to motivate, no matter if I motivate to study or to read or to be creative. I do what I do to make the world, a few peoples lives, just a little better. I do what I do on here as a kind of thank you, to help others reach what I reached, am still reaching; self-acceptance, self-confidence and self-love. This community helped me see the power of kindness, helped me realize the value of all the small things in life. But most importantly this community was able to teach me what everyone I know personally, failed to assure me in, and that is just how worthy I really am. I do am, and always was, endlessly loved by the ones close to me, but sometimes that just isn’t enough growing up. Sometimes you’re just so lost within yourself, so uncertain because of all the people who don’t seem to be okay with who you are, you can’t believe the ones closest to you. This community had the power to prove me wrong about myself. Strangers behind screens from around the world were able to teach me that I deserve to be loved, that I deserve to love and respect myself. They showed me that there is beauty within me. I am who I am and where I am because of them, because of you. I am writing  because of you. Without this community, I would have likely lost all faith in myself during this past year. You never ceased to support me and I wish I could do every single one of you as much good as you did me. Thank you. Thank you for making me all the things I haven’t been before. Braver and bolder and kinder and even more sensible, because I swear I can feel all of your hearts beating, can see your dreams hidden inside of them. Let them out, share them. Be braver and bolder, but above all be kind. Because kindness has more power than hate.

But before I end this, let me show you that there do is hope for the Internet. That there are people alongside me, who are doing what they are doing online for very similar reasons and the world deserves to see that. We are not alone and we are willing to be here for the long run. Love, Anna xx

“I do what I do to try to be kind, to share my passion with people, to show them what I think is beautiful, because it’s always better to share beauty than to keep it for yourself, to feature the little details of life, the ones people might not always notice, and I do what I do to make my little Internet place a safe and kind and accepting place.” by Zoé Hoibian (lechoixdezoe)

“The interner is my source of self expression. I want to share my story and I want to share with people what it feels like to be a real human, what it feels like to love and give love, what it feels like to be kind and a good person. I want people to feel connected or at least like they’re not alone in this world because there is someone who goes through the same things. I want to share what it’s like to feel deeply, to feel everything. And most importantly, what a blessing and a curse it is to be human. And also to inspire people to never give up on themselves or their lives because we all have bad days, but we can start over the next day and make it even better than yesterday.” by (fromjupitertomars)

“This little corner of the Internet is one of the few parts of my life in which I don’t feel self-conscious being entirely me. I started this account without telling anyone I knew, so everyone who’s turned up did so because they appreciate what I create, not because of any sense of obligation, and that’s quite a special thing! I feel valued for my words, thoughts, and photography, and that means the world to me. I also love how easy and encouraged it is to leave nice comments or send messages to make people smile. With only a few moments of your day you can improve someone else’s, and that makes me so happy.” by (meandmagnolia)

The Future is a Room with it’s Walls painted Black

maybe i don’t want this to end, because i can’t imagine my life after. no matter how much it hurts me, i don’t want to let go. my future is a room with it’s walls painted black. it’s a place i can only but imagine missing what i once did and longing for it while my heart is still healing from leaving.

after all she was afraid, afraid of the unforeseeable, afraid of the day it would happen, afraid of having to open up to the new, afraid of finishing what had seemed to last forever, afraid of the entirety of that sensation, because she was not yet ready and maybe she would never be, but somewhere deep down, she expected that to change or maybe she did not and that was why she was so afraid, she did not know and it did not matter, because with this she did not have a choice.

it hit me right then: it was really over, it belonged to the past, a past that had me sleepless at night, drowning in sorrows, and still I found myself longing to return to it, simply out of fear of the uncertainty of the future.

Letting go of things can be hard. Changes can be. Yes, those two things might be crucial to keep moving, but that does not make them any easier. To let something go can be one of the hardest challenges life has to offer. Because sometimes it’s only when you have to let things go that you seem to see their true worth. But most times letting go is inevitable. The door of the room you came from is being closed, shutting you out, leaving you on the doorstep to a room with it’s walls painted black – an uncertain future. And now this is where you are, in a bare room with it’s walls painted black, and you’re stuck. You are afraid to move, because the lack of light makes seeing impossible. You are afraid to turn back, because there is nothing to return to. You are afraid to get left behind, because you are standing still.

The futures feels that way sometimes. Sometimes it takes just a bit of time and waiting until it reveals itself. Until night ends and morning light fills the room with it’s walls painted black through a small window. And sometimes it takes a little courage. Sometimes you need to step out into that room, roaming, until you find that window. Because in this room, curtains are preventing the sun from enlightening it. Only you can fix that. So be brave. Step out there and draw back the curtain. This is your future, even if it’s a room with it’s walls painted black. Even if that means you have to open up for changes, if it means you have to let things go. If you don’t, you never know what you were set out to do. This is your future. You might as well re-paint those walls, make them look whichever way you want them to look. Paper them with the pages of all the books you’ve read or the photos you took or tear them down and forget all about them, letting the sky be your only limit. Because this is your future. It doesn’t have to be a room with it’s walls painted black. It can be whatever you want it to be. But that room is where you start. You leave, you let go, change happens, inevitably, and a door is closed and you have to step out into that corridor. And there you are. On that doorstep to that room with it’s walls painted black and it’s okay to be afraid. I am too. I am stuck here, at the edge of that room waiting for the morning sun to light it, waiting for fate to do the job for me so that I don’t have to be brave, because I’m not. I’m not brave and right now that room, my future, doesn’t feel like it can whatever I want it to be. It just feels like a room with it’s walls painted black and I’m afraid I won’t be able to change anything about that. I’m afraid I will be stuck here in darkness, unmoving, getting left behind. I’m afraid I won’t be able to choose. Afraid, that room holds a plan someone else chose for me, one that I have no say in. But I’m also afraid that I do have a say in this, because I know I do. I’m afraid I’m not brave enough to take the opportunity, to tear down those walls. I’m afraid I’m stuck here forever, because I’m too afraid to get moving, too afraid to take actions for myself. But I know I will have to. I know I will have to somewhere find the strength to do just that, just as I have to accept the few things that I might not have a say in. Because future is just that. It’s yours, you get to decide, you will have to stand up for it, but there will always be things you won’t be able to veto. That’s what life is like.

But in the end, there is nothing to be afraid of. The future is yours and yours only. So what are we even fearing? Yes, at the start, at the edge of that room with it’s walls painted black, because that is where it starts, the darkness seems intimidating and the letting go will still hurt and the change will be as strange as suddenly seeing the world upside-down, but once you enter, that room won’t be just a room with it’s walls painted black, it will be your room. It’s your future and it will be okay. That room will start to grow dear to you. It will hurt less, feel less strange. But in that corridor, between those two closed doors, it’s okay to be afraid, to feel blue. But a few steps from there, behind that door ahead, is a bright new future even if at the start, it might just look like a room with it’s walls painted black. I promise.

body image issues

To get this straight at the very start of this- this is going to be a little different from what I usually post, but then again, maybe it actually isn’t. This belongs into the category “fledging or coming off age”, but it’s an issue far beyond the process of just that. This is about what is going on out there these days. This is about something I feel passionate about, about something I think I have the right to a say in. It’s about something I personally struggle with, something that a lot of people struggle with, something too may struggle with, in my opinion. I am talking about body image issues, body shaming, and anything that is only vaguely related to it.

Body shaming isn’t “new”. Most think that it is, but it isn’t. It has always been there. It’s been there ten years ago, when I was eight years old in third grade and was picked at for being chubbier than others. It was there when I was in seventh grade and was chosen last for group activities in sports. It has always been there. It’s been there from the first posters and ads on tv, from the first fashion shows. So no, body image issues aren’t new, but body shaming is worse than ever before, primarily because of the media. It was bad back then, but today it’s getting worse and worse every single day and it pains me so much to write this and I think I actually have to stop writing for a second, because I can’t even see what I’m typing through the tears of anger and downright grief that are burning in my eyes.

I feel endlessly emotional about this topic. Every single time I re-watch “Killing us softly” by Kilbourne Jean I can’t hold back tears and by now I’ve seen it at least five times. The difference between then and now is that today there are body images wherever you look. They are everywhere, but what’s fatal is that most times, people all look the same in them and they have been actively manipulated. They simply are not real. They teach us a perfection that in reality does not exist or simply cannot be achieved. I used to tell myself, like most people still do, These images have no effect on me. and that is the absolute worst mistake one can do, the biggest lie one can tell oneself, one can believe, because no matter what you think or how sure you are about your shape and size, when you see those images you experience them and they effect you, even when you don’t think they do. So because there is no way around taking in those images the only thing we can do is to make them change. This change is going to be a hell of a fight, I know that, but I hope that some day I can look at a billboard and think Wow, this woman is a fighter. I wish I’d get to know her. instead of Wow, this woman’s body is perfect. I wish I’d look like her. We need representatives of all kinds of body types in ads, on tv, on the internet, in the model industry. We need this change. We need it in order to move something, to make a change. We need to see what is real, we need it in order to accept our bodies and the imperfections we see in them. But how did we get to this point? How is it possible we got carried so far away from the representation of reality in the media?

For starters, photoshop. That’s what got us here and that’s where we are right now and we’re stuck. Right at this point. Everywhere we look we see unreal images of inexistent perfection and all over the world real people suffer to reach that perfection, a perfection that doesn’t even exist. But how are they, how are we, to know? Who is going to tell us if what they are sharing, what they are spreading throughout the whole world, is real or actually the product of an hour-long session behind a screen? There are only a handful of people who do. Who share what is going on, who raise awareness, but that awareness should have been raised years ago. That awareness still doesn’t reach enough people out there. It doesn’t make up for all the lives lost due to body shaming. It simply doesn’t and I don’t even think we have yet reached the top of this, I think this is still becoming bigger, becoming worse every day. We should have started to act on this long ago, but we haven’t or maybe I should rather say we haven’t done enough, because I know, things are moving. They have to, but for the first time I feel like something is actually changing and maybe we can turn things around. Maybe it’s us, this generation right here. Maybe we have to finally pick up the pieces and save the ones after us. Because when I look at my thirteen year old sister my heart stops beating and some days all I can feel when I look at her is fear. Fear of what society, what the media, is already doing to her and what is still to come. When I was thirteen I played with stuffed animals, I watched Disney movies all day, if I could, I ran around the house with her, play-pretending anything. I gave a damn about what I wore, I didn’t even know what I weighted and I washed my hair once a week. I was never one of the popular kids, especially not at that time, but I was okay. Whatever, I was just a kid, I didn’t know a thing, but that, that’s what’s changing and that’s the worst part. Because that generation is suffering. With the amount of media there is so much social pressure, I would never be able to handle it, but they do. They have to. Those teenage years are hard on everyone, no matter which generation they are a part of, but it’s getting harder and most times no-one even realizes. People give a damn about it. People say it’s their fault, sharing everything and anything on the internet, putting themselves out there like that, but it’s not. It’s what they have to do, because if they don’t, they’re out-casts, they don’t even exist. It’s what they are influenced by every single day. Those generations grew up or are still growing up looking at the unreal images of inexistent perfection of strangers from all over the world thinking that’s what real life is and imitate that, striving to reach what it seems like other already have. And that’s what’s most toxic about this, because if we aren’t able to stop this, those young people are going to wreck themselves about it and it’s going to end badly, it already is ending badly in a lot of cases.

So if not for ourselves, we need to make something change for those people and I’m willing to, I’m going to try my best and if I have to, I’m willing to stand in the streets naked, if that means something is going to change for them. I’m willing, I’m trying, to share that I am imperfect, that imperfection is real and the most beautiful thing about a human body there will ever be. I have been willing to share photos of my back, raising awareness on scoliosis, because that’s what it is. That’s imperfection. I have a curved spine. I won’t be able to unsee how crooked I stand when I look in the mirror, how one of my waists is smaller than the other, how rounded my back is due to bad posture. I won’t be able to unsee that my breasts aren’t the same size, that my knees have a strange shape, that I do have a tummy, that four years ago my hair thinned out and will never be as thick as it used to be, that I have, dark, visible hair all over my arms or that my skin actually has pores and isn’t clear. I am aware of all of this. Some days more aware than others, some days some imperfections bug me more and some less. But usually, I am the only one who sees them and in the future I am going to keep quite about them. I will not complain, but praise them, because if we want to change something, this is where each and everyone could start. By spreading love about ones insecurities, because there is at least one person out there who your body is similar to and if you keep calling out it’s imperfections, or the things you see as those, you make that one other person aware of them too and that’s the worst thing we could possibly do. So if I could I would turn back time and erase every single negative comment I made about my body in my sisters presence. I really wish I could do that. Because that girl has seen me naked and has told me I am beautiful without hesitating, has told me, she wished she’d look like me. I just wish I could have shown her how to be proud of her body, but I was too focused on myself, we all were, and we will have to look out for our daughter and sons. We will have to move focus away from us, because society is going to be just as hard on them, maybe harder. It’s about us now if we can make a change about that, no matter how small in the start.

For example, this is a start. Spreading this will be a start. Just talking about body shaming and body image issues will be a start. Being real and honest on any social platforms will be a start. Dealing with the influence of the media on the body in schools or simply reading about it for oneself will be a start. Anything is better than what we are doing now, because yes, we are stuck and if we don’t make a change, if we maintain silence about this, it will stay this way, if not get worse, and we can’t just let that happen, not for the sake of us nor the sake of all the generations after and still to come.

[I apologize if this did not make any sense. All I did was ramble on about something I feel passionate about, hoping that someone somewhere someday cares about this, listens up about this. If you feel the need to share this, I very much welcome you to do so.

All the love, Anna xx]

saying my goodbyes to high school

Here I am. It’s almost 10am on a Thursday. I am sitting at my desk at home with a cup of coffee writing this and it feels wrong on many levels. But what bothers me most is that I feel like I should be in class. I should be at school; taking notes, listening to a tutor, studying, busying myself with assignments until midnight, bringing my coffee to class, chatting about weekend plans cancelled due to the workload, but I’m not. I’m home with a cup of coffee writing this, trying to figure out how to make this feel less wrong and saying my goodbyes to high school.

For thirteen (or twelve) years school is one of the steadiest variables in a persons life. In those thirteen (or twelve) years there is a nearly endless number of changes. But when you looked close there was always one thing to rely on, that (almost) no matter what, the next day one would have to get up early, dress, have breakfast and go to school and then come back home. For those thirteen (or twelve) years life situates around this steady variable. Most people like maths for it’s directness. Most of the times there is right or wrong. With a variable it’s different. X might be 6, but there are different ways to get there. X could be 3 + 3 or it could be 4 + 2 or an endless number of other variations. The outcome is the same, but the ways there can differ a great deal. X in life is the steady variable. For the past thirteen (or twelve) years X was school. The experiences with school differ for each person, but X, in the end, always adds up to school. But school ends and with that X is situated in a different equation. Each persons equation differs and now X doesn’t add up to the same thing for anyone anymore. There is an endless number of possibilities for the meaning behind X now. School ends and while the endless possibilities spread in front of ones eyes, life doesn’t feel so steady anymore. Well, at least this is how I feel about it.

Most people are looking very forward to saying their goodbyes to school. I’m not one of them although I feel like I should. Within those thirteen years I have changed, and changed again and then again and changed a final time. School is a personality shaping tool, no one can deny that. It made me grow, but it made me feel a lot of pain all the same. During my school time I shed so many tears I could fill hundreds of water buckets. When growing up finishing school is one of the events that feels a million years away. It sounds like a particular joke, but against all odds, here I am and I can tell you, it happens, almost inevitably. One starts year thirteen blinking, looking away for a second and suddenly ones sitting at ones desk at home with a cup of coffee writing this and one feels empty and a little useless, but a little grateful too. Here I am; taking a first sip of the coffee long gone cold. Here I am; saying my goodbyes to high school, heavy-heartedly. But that’s what goodbyes are like. They hurt a bit and they leave behind a bitter-sweet taste just like coffee does. They are a part of moving on and since life is irresistible, we say our goodbyes to prevent from getting left behind and X adapts a new, but non the less beautiful, shape.

Anna Louise, May 24, 2018

eighteen years

On December 9th, 2017 I turned eighteen years old. A date about which I had some strange feelings. All around me a lot of people were really hyped about their eighteenth birthday. Friends who never went out to party suddenly became the kings and queens of clubs and even the ones who never had the slightest bit of alcohol planned on getting drunk, having the time of their lives, a night to remember, etc etc etc. I was freaked out to the point I didn’t want to do anything for my birthday. While my friends were planning their ‚special‘ night of joining adulthood almost half a year in advance, I kept putting everyone off by saying I didn’t know yet or it was supposed to be a secret. Actually, I didn’t plan on doing anything aside from being in my room at home shedding a few tears. But it wasn’t only that. I was afraid of turning eighteen, because from eighteen on, one is officially an adult, where I live, and I did not [and still don’t] feel as if I am prepared to be accepted as that, and yes, I am indeed trying to come to a point, so this is for all those out there who felt and feel the same way.

what follows is a mixture of random shots of the days around my eighteenth birthday and some of my favorite quotes of the book ‘eighteen years’ by Madisen Kuhn, which accompanied me on the journey of realizing and accepting that nothing is going to change and that that’s okay. Basically it’s a mix of a lifestyle blog & a book review. Hoping it’ll turn out as enjoyable content.

 

 

i feel trapped inside of my feverish skin

and i wish i could escape it,

because i don’t want to be myself today

 

i don’t know why i’m so different,

why i feel so lonely and tired of living

yesterday, i was so happy and hopeful,

inspired and alive

i lit candles and sang along to the radio

and grinned and felt completely intact

but today, i’m in pieces

i feel hollow and meaningless

i don’t get why my feelings change so quickly

it’s like once i’ve wrapped my arms

around them, the wind picks them up

and carries them away, leaving me

with a heart full of unfamiliar emotions

i don’t understand

i just wish

i could figure myself out

sometimes

Madisen Kuhn, birthday eve

 

 

one of the poems that spoke to me, really putting those emotions into words. Since my family knew how I was feeling, on the night before my birthday my mom took me out to the movies. Full program. Smuggling fast food inside the theater, big box of fresh popcorn. The rest of the night I spent decorating and cleaning. I rang in my birthday alone at midnight by taking a bath before I went to bed.

 

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After sleeping in just a little and spending some time with my family I then headed out to the city, just like I had planned. I just knew I had to go for a walk through the streets of Berlin on my birthday, because that’s what I have been immensely enjoying the past year. On the way to the city I started reading ‘eighteen years’. Some of the pieces that really spoke to me will follow [I had tears in my eyes while reading all of them]…

 

who are you,

really?

you are not a name

or a height or a weight

or a gender,

you are not an age

and you are not

where you are from

you are your favorite books

and the songs stuck in your head,

you are your thoughts

and what you eat for breakfast

on saturday mornings

you are a thousand things,

but everyone chooses

to see the million things

you are not

you are not

where you are from

you are

where you’re going

and i’d like

to go there

too

Madisen Kuhn, who are you, really?

 

she buried her face in books

so no one could see

the emptiness of her eyes

 

she filled her mind

with fictional fantasies

and hoped that one day

they would become real

 

but because her head

was always stuck in a book

she never got the chance

to have adventures of her own

Madisen Kuhn, cover to cover

 

i think the world

would be a nicer place

if we stopped pretending

we knew everything

about everyone

Madisen Kuhn, truth

 

every individual

is son intricate,

yet we rush to peg them,

to label them,

to tell them who they are

[…]

the more i meet people

and flip them inside out

to run my fingers along

the cracks of their beating heart,

the more i realize that

no one really is

“normal”

Madisen Kuhn, depth

 

In the hours following that train ride I met two of my best friends, went to a photo booth to turn memories into paperweight,

got Starbucks to pay for my venti iced coffee, because that’s how nice they are when it’s your birthday and you have a Starbucks card [everyone was really cute, i’m being honest, they wrote ‘happy birthday anna’ on my cup with flowers and hearts and all of that, i guess], laughed a lot, met my cousin, had serious, but very good conversations while wandering the city and crashed at Coffee Fellows to flee the cold. The remaining hours of my birthday I spent at home with my family again. Pizza and Grand Hotel [one of my favorite series] were included.

The following morning, a Sunday, my family and I went out for a post-birthday brunch at Coffee Fellows, which meant bagels, warm beverages and time well spent. Took a short walk around the near-by christmas market with my cousin and sister afterwards. Then I went home. Trouble was over and I had spent almost three full days trying to keep everything as it was with an almost feverish effort, spending energy I could have easily saved, because after all, everything that has changed since is the second digit of a simple number in my info box on social media. nothing has changed and that’s fine. I hate changes anyways.

Before I end this somewhat very personal, yet probably boring piece of writing, I have a few more words on ‘eighteen years’  by Madisen Kuhn and one more poem. Something to remember, a message, to those of you reading this, a sort of reminder…

Madisen, your book got through to me in so many ways. At a time that I felt troubled it had the words I needed to hear to be able to calm down. ‘eighteen years’ is the most honest, most real and most beautiful collection of poetry I have yet read. In the past year poetry has become the tongue of my soul, the safe heaven I can always come to. Before your book I would have never dared to believe that there is poetry out there that puts my deepest thoughts into proper words. You did. I found myself with tears in my eyes, heart hurting. You literally speak the same tongue my heart speaks. In a world of so many I feel I have found the one person who is able to translate my soul into words, the one person to be the interpreter to fill the gap between me and the rest of the world. I thank you from the deepest depths of my heart.

To everyone reading this, ‘eighteen years’ is “[The] book [which] is meant to be bent and worn, written in, tear-stained, and loved. This book is for you.” to put it in Madison’s own words. ‘eighteen years’ is the book of first and following loves, of life and coming of age, but to be downright honest, there is no way to do this book any justice listing a few of it’s topics like this. If you want to know what it’s like then there’s no way around just reading it, experiencing it with every cell of your body. To do so, clicking here marks step one [no worries, it’s the link to get your own copy]. Now all that is left to say, is this…

 

Don’t forget to get away every once in awhile,

To lose yourself in a book

Or in the woods behind your home

Ride your bike into the sunset,

Sit on your front steps and count the cars passing by,

Lay on your roof and gaze up at the night sky,

Drive along backroads with the windows rolled down

Listening to nothing but the sound of rushing wind

I hope you take the time to be alone,

To sort through the cluttered shelves of your heart

I hope you take the time to be silent,

To close your eyes and just listen

I hope you take the time to be still,

To quiet your mind and experience the beauty

Of simply Being

Madisen Kuhn, breathe