5 January 2015

Two-thousand and fifteen

2015 - a new year, a new me? I think not. We constantly look at ways of self-improvement: I’ll lose 2 stone, not eat chocolate, read more, care less, travel, accept things, get a new job, get good grades etc etc. All of these are things that I could do, and things that over time I may do. But why should a new year spark all of these things? Why does the fresh page of a diary hold more potential than its preceding 365 days and the immeasurable infinity of days ahead?

Every moment holds a new potential if you allow it to. And yes, I am suddenly feeling optimistic and this could just be another pepped up moment fuelled by inspiring lyrics and the lackluster life that I currently lead.

But there I go again. It’s like we beat ourselves up every January because of all the things we ‘failed’ at, or the dreams we ‘chose’ not to make reality. But then we beat ourselves up again months later when these often unattainable goals don’t come to fruition.

It’s almost as if we allow ourselves to get caught in the cycle of self-disappointment and disapproval. Yes, trying doesn’t always make ‘it’ happen, but it does make things happen. Every step you take you get closer to where you want to be. You don’t need to wait for a new year, month, week or even day. Sometimes it just takes an hour to change the course of things forever.

And look at that, Jemma is getting all preachy again. My bad...

23 December 2014

l o v e .2

I cannot help but think that such a love is sickly, all consuming and somewhat short lived. It’s the happiness that stabs you in the back when you least expect it; the friendly unsuspecting neighbour who murders you whilst you sleep at night.

Similar to ripping off an overly sticky plaster – the pain might not last that long, but the sticky-ness remains and it catches on things from time to time, just to remind you that it’s still there.

It is simply unsimple. A word, and a thing, that does not exist and yet explains everything. Some may say complicated. But a love like that removes the complications. Instead it simply happens because two said parties wish it to. And when it’s over those said parties are disconnected, there is no such thing as Romeo and Juliet. Yes, it’s complex but many things in life are.

Over time the unsimplicities fade, much like the plasters metaphorical velcro upon your skin.

l o v e

And just for once she wanted that all encompassing love. You know the one that wakes you up in the middle of night breathless just because you’ve thought of them; maybe you don’t know? Maybe you sleep the night through dreamless, yearning for the warmth of a lover beside you?

Spending your days haplessly romanticising about ‘the one’. In your mind he is tall, slightly rugged, but gentlemanly. He will open the door for you and tell you you’re beautiful. And whilst tucking pieces of your hair behind your left ear, he gently places his rose pink lips against yours.

He will be a family man, a lover of simple things and a hand holder – always a hand holder. Giddy with love you will fall in to each other and rest against his soft-rising chest. Falling asleep listening to the heart that you fill with so much happiness. 

And yet you still do not dream; simply because there is no need to - your heart already has all it desires.

20 December 2014

Just thank you, so much!

I won't lie I've been slightly apprehensive about uploading a new post, simply because I cannot compete with my last. But I don't want it to just stop there, I want to continue posting things that are more thought-provoking than other things I have written. But right now I have to stop and just say the biggest thank you, ever.

As of right now I have had over 2,000 views gained in just over four days. That blows my mind. I have broken personal best upon best with my daily blog views (currently over 700 is my highest). But this isn't about the numbers, it's the people behind those numbers, all of which have taken the time to read my, rather personal, piece of work about something I am incredibly passionate about. You have no idea how much that means to me.

I adore writing more than I could, ironically, ever express through words. To be able to share my work with people, have them compliment it, whilst also sharing and raising awareness of something that is so important - well, I couldn't want for anymore.

Just know that I am so incredibly humbled by each one of you who has taken the time out of their day to support me.

Lastly, I couldn't not say thank you to Giovanna Fletcher, Caitlin Moral, Katie Piper and Katie Hopkins who have each allowed me to share my story with so many more of you.

(ps, to all the twitter news-feeds I've spammed, I apologise - I just want to spread the awareness as far as possible)

I now need to stop writing because next I'll be thanking my parents, and my goldfish that died 10 years ago and it will sound like I'm accepting the Oscar that Leonardo DiCaprio still hasn't won.

16 December 2014

What's 'normal' about normality?

As children we are all taught to embrace difference, taught that there is no such thing as ‘normal’, when in fact there is. Within the English dictionary ‘normal’ is defined as “conforming to a standard; usual, typical or expected”. Likewise, ‘difference’ is also defined. This is described as “a point or way in which people or things are dissimilar”. So if we’re taught from a young age that difference is okay, at what point do we deviate from this to decide that being normal is actually all that we really want. At least, it’s all that I really want.

I’m different through no choice of my own. I have to accept that. But for some reason I just can’t. No matter how many times people tell me that being unique is the best thing in world. I just can’t seem to look at myself in the mirror and repeat their words; I simply choke on them as they stick in my throat.

I was conceived in 1993; my mum had an idyllic pregnancy and when I was born in March of 1994 both of my parents were elated. There were no signs, no tests, no indications to show that I had a syndrome that would later be diagnosed as Moebius syndrome.

Nonetheless I had a pretty average childhood. Although slightly later than most of my peers I reached milestones Specialists said I wouldn’t: my first words, steps, and full mental capabilities - all just the same as everyone else. But much to the dismay of parents I never had my first smile.

You see, Moebius syndrome has affected my sixth and seventh cranial nerves. Thus meaning that I was born with a palsy on the left side of my face, leaving me with a lack of facial movement. For example I was born without the ability to smile properly, move my eyebrows and move my eyes from left to right. Which, as you can imagine, makes me look different to everyone else.

It wasn’t until I got to the age of ten that I started to understand that my dissimilarities from everyone else was because of my syndrome. Since then it’s only really gotten harder for me to accept, even though as I have grown older most people have become much more accepting.

I wish I had had the to choice to be different. I wish I could have chosen to step out of the of realms of normality and shove two fingers to the world and anyone who stood in my way. But I didn’t. Instead it is simply a pre-determined fact of my life that I have no choice but to live with, for the rest of my life.

As a teenager I was trying to find who exactly I was, just the same as everyone else. My peers made that near impossible though, and to some extent their words are still why I still struggle to this day to accept who I am. Even nearly five years after I have left school the constant taunts still remain: “Ugly”, “Shovel face”, “Wonky woman”, “Road kill”, “You should’ve been killed at birth”, “I wish you would kill yourself, that would be the best day of my life”.

The throwaway comments, made by people who probably don’t even remember saying them, have made me question everything. When do these accepting children cast their minds to judgment? What defines normality within their eyes, and who has that control? Why does society feel the constant need to portray an idea of aesthetic difference in a negative light?

Yes, I could have ‘corrective’ surgery, but why should I need to be corrected? Am I not good enough the way that I am? Who decided that not being able to smile, or that that fact that when I talk my face isn’t symmetrical, is not correct? Who exactly is it that reinforces this within society?

There have been times over the years where I have longed to be the same as everyone else. In fact, I still do. People often say, “But Jemma, you’re so unique and you stand out. You should be proud of that”. And yes I understand what they’re saying, but I cannot help but feel they are somewhat misinformed. I’d like them to go through what I’ve been through, for them to look themselves in the eye and not recognize the face staring back at them in the mirror, and then repeat what they have said.

When I’m just being Jemma, and I’m away from mirrors or the possible judgmental eye of a stranger, I flourish. I can laugh so hard that I snort, talk so much that words no longer make sense, smile so hard that my imaginary facial muscle aches. But then I’ll remember - even just for a split second - and I’ll retreat back to the shell of the girl that was just there.

If shooting stars really could grant wishes, or if genies flew out of lamps, then I know exactly what I would wish for. I would wish to be just like everyone else. I want to blend in. I have spent years upon years longing to see my face without my syndrome, and to show the world that what I look like is not my choice. I often wonder what I would look like if I didn’t have it? Would I be as perfectly beautiful as the rest of my family, my friends and peers? I’m not naïve enough to think that I wouldn’t still want to change things, but at least I could.

Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve grown older I’ve learnt to deal with things better and how to shrug off the immaturity of some. But why should I have to? I have spent years feeling utterly worthless, just because society has created this ‘ideal’ image. I have wanted to kill myself, I have cut my own skin, just to try and deal with a social construct that over time has been created and remodeled to encourage a ‘normality’ that for some, like myself, just is not possible.

No matter what people say, difference is still marginalized and looked down upon. The people who embrace difference often have made that choice for themselves, they don’t have to have the choice made for them.

Difference should not have to be defined as different, just like normality should not be normal. There should be no stereotypical ideal, or preconceived ideas. People should just be whoever they are. But until this, I will continue to long to be ‘normal’. Yet still forever be confined by my difference.

11 November 2014

Learning from mistakes

I am human. I have made mistakes, and some have been bigger than others. I think the most important thing to remember when this happens is to allow yourself to learn and move on from it. If you have done wrong to others all you can do is ask for their forgiveness by showing your remorse. If you do that and they still don't want anything to do with you then just move on.

Now don't get me wrong, this hurts - a lot. But, that being said, if people cannot handle you at your worst then they certainly don't deserve you at your best. For example, earlier this year I made some mistakes and I unintentionally hurt people I thought I cared about and who cared about me. I wasn't forgiven and instead any blame they harboured themselves was pushed on to me and that was not nice, at all - even more so because they were people I thought genuinely cared about me.

At the time it was the most excruciating thing I had ever gone through and I hated every second of it. Looking back now though I can see how good it was for me. Instead of being stuck in that suffocating environment I left and found something much better. From then until now I have been working on myself to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.

You see, to me it was a life lesson. It's something that I will never forget, but for the right reasons. When I look back at that time in my life later on I will be able to see that it gave me courage, wisdom, empathy and more strength than I ever thought one person could muster - let alone little old me.

That's the thing about mistakes, it takes a second to make and sometimes a lifetime to rebuild what you had, sometimes you never will get back what you had. But do you know what, sometimes things do just happen for a reason. Life is changing all the time, and that's okay. Half of the time you just need to change with it and hope that whatever change it brings is for the best.

28 October 2014

I Forget Where We Are

Are you looking for the perfect autumnal 54 minute album to fill the void in you life - look no further! If you're not, then just listen to it and you'll find a whole is now filled that you didn't even know existed. So Mr Howard, Ben, has been a firm love of mine for a good length of time now. When his first album 'Every Kingdom' came out in 2011 I fell head over heels.

Now he's back with a brand-spanking new album, 'I Forget Where We Are'. Much like his previous album, this has just the right mixture of melancholy and positivity. It's perfect for studying, or for going on long autumnal walks crunching through the orange-tinged crispy leaves. But truly, it's perfect for any kind of time. My favourites, if I had to pick, would be: 'Rivers In Your Mouth', 'I Forget Where We Were', 'She Treats Me Well', 'Time Is Dancing', 'Evergreen', and 'End Of The Affair'. The whole album is so pretty though. Gahhh - I just love it far too much! It's literally been on repeat whilst I've been writing trying to write my assignment for uni. I think I would go as far to say that it's my soundtrack to autumn - it's love at first sight, so to speak.

Do you have an autumn soundtrack? If so, let me know!