“THERE IS A LIGHT AND THERE IS A DOOR” By Sara

Have you ever felt so empty?
That you’ve forgotten how to breathe?
So weak without resolve,
That you just buckle to your knees?

That even when you’re outside,
There just isn’t enough air.
Of all emotions rushing by,
All you hand grasps is despair?

Have you ever felt so desperate?
Like your whole world’s caving in?
So no matter how you push and strive,
It appears you’ll never win.

When the odds seem stacked against you,
And it appears there’s nowhere left to go?
When you’re surrounded all by people,
And yet feel increasingly alone.

Have you ever felt so hopeless?
And that this world has no value left?
Whereby, fighting to hold on,
Just leaves you bankrupt and bereft.

Well I’m here to try and tell you,
That I know this feeling well.
And – I acknowledge this admission,
Won’t serve to calm or ease your hell.

But what I wish you to believe is,
That it can’t last for evermore.
Although now, feeling never-ending,
There’s a light and there’s a door.

Yes, the door is hard to open,
And you can’t do it by yourself.
It’s heavy, rusted, barred and bolted,
So you’re going to need some help.

Now help is an endless resource,
If, knowing how and where to look.
I know you’re broken and exhausted,
So this will take one lasting push.

But, in perservering you’ll have made,
The first step – from darkness into light.
Yes, it may appear so grey for now,
The change won’t happen overnight.

But with help, support, encouragment,
I promise the smog can begin to clear.
And with time, and more time yet again,
The light will start to near.

The door may open slowly,
Don’t force it – or you might get hurt.
Gentle, little movements,
Conserve strength, rather than exert.

The helping hands will push,
With you, to ease and support the strain.
Now – the door may swing back sometimes,
Don’t give up, start over again.

With help and time and input,
The door can allow you to pass through.
Where things seem a little brighter,
The air less dense – more fresh and new.

You can look back and remember,
When you thought, you’d never make it there.
And know now – how very far you’ve come,
That broken parts can be repaired.

So – If you are, or ever find yourself,
Lost and feeling in this way.
Remember there’s a light and there’s a door,
And they will not be too far away.

by,

Sara xx

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Hello darkness, my old friend.

Hello again, darkness.

My old companion.

You’ve certainly made yourself known at regular intervals throughout my life.

Today was a dark day.

The peak, I hope, of a what’s been a few days of crisis with my mental health. The first crisis of note since I was discharged from hospital back in April.

No one really talks about Borderline Personality Disorder in depth. Particularly not openly and honestly and it’s the condition I live with. No one talks about the sheer intensity. There’s no black and white with regards to feelings. Everything is magnified. The inconsistencies with identity, the uncertainties around every relationship you develop and the horrendous criticism you inflict on yourself day in, day out.

This place can be intolerable at best and yet we do our best to battle each day again and again, over and over.

I’ve sort of learned to sit with darkness. To accept that it’s inevitably going to reappear throughout my life. It’s not easy! Not by any stretch of the imagination. But when I feel it creeping back in, I know it’s my body’s way of saying “Stop. Breathe. Look after yourself. Breathe”. And I’m getting better at actually doing those things.

I think for many of us, it’s normal to blame ourselves for feeling down and entering a place of darkness. We feel like we should be happier and must act immediately to change how we feel. That’s not that case. It’s natural that, as humans, we will experience peaks and troughs. Existing in those troughs and knowing that without them, we wouldn’t appreciate the peaks, is the state of mind we must work towards.

I hope I see the light soon.

Mandy @ TEWP x

Don’t be a prisoner of your past…

Something I’ve been focusing on a lot lately is to stop being a prisoner of my past. The past has happened. It’s done and it happened. There’s no changing this (unless you’ve created a time machine… in which case, tell me how because I’m obsessed with the possibility of creating one!).

You see, to say I’ve lived a colourful life for my short 28 years would be the biggest understatement of the century.

I’ve travelled, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve grown and I’ve fallen on numerous occasions.

My past is definitely a patchwork of bad decisions and less than ideal people sewn together with good intentions, huge ambition and a persistent identity struggle.

The first thing you have to do to stop being a prisoner of your past is this: take ownership of it.

Stop blaming other people. Stop casting yourself as the victim in your stories you keep telling yourself.

It’s very liberating to look back and agree with yourself that it happened. And because it happened, you are where you are now.

Look around you.

Life is happening now.

This ain’t no fucking dress rehearsal! We don’t get to make a fresh go of it once we’ve learnt some important lessons that we’d like to implement.

My second step to losing the shackles of your past is to turn your pain into your purpose. Do you see all of that negative energy and hate you have for your former self or for things you’ve done wrong in your past? Change that energy into drive and positivity to create a different present and and even better future.

The beauty of life and being permitted a chance on this incredible planet in the form of a human no less is that every single day is a unique chance to start again and to live the life you were always destined to.

Change the bullshit story you tell yourself internally. The story that you’re not good enough. The story that people will laugh at you. The story that people are judging you on your past.

I can almost guarantee you that everyone else you’re worried about are too focussed on their own lanes to give a shit how quickly or slowly you are progressing.

So take a leaf out of their book.

Focus on that lane of yours which lies ahead. Even if there’s a little bit of fog in the way, as long as you are looking forward, I promise you that with the right energy and attitude, that will clear.

Let me know how you stop yourself from being a prisoner of your past.

Mandy @ TEWP x

 

Charlotte’s story.

Hey, I’m Charlotte and I’m a 22-year-old university student. Whilst trying to navigate the stresses of being in my 20s like keeping up to date with the latest ASOS sale, never knowing when’s appropriate to message the guy I like and remembering to actually eat vegetables, I’m also the leader of 80 people. In the roles’ 16-year history it has been filled by two women before me, so right now I find my 22-year-old self-feeling the pressure to prove that the female race can lead.
The first thing which has been hard has been to actually recognise and call myself a leader. Looking back, it is easy to see why I never aspired to leadership because my whole life I have, like most of girls & women, have experienced a double standard.

Growing up I was always called ‘bossy’, when I was being assertive. I came to university and someone called me ‘fierce’, when I was just giving an opinion. On a leadership course, after giving the best lead of the day my feedback from my all male group was that I needed to ‘chill out’. On the dating scene I’ve been told that being a leader is ‘unattractive’ and ‘intimidating’. As a result of this double standard, it is extremely easy to see why I and so many other women don’t want to be leaders. The running narrative across our whole lives is basically to ‘keep our opinions to ourselves’, ‘not to make a fuss’ and to ‘smile because we look prettier’. What a rubbish message.

So after dutifully ignoring societies’ message to not be a leader, now being a leader, I would love to say that it is wonderful. However, in reality it can be pretty hard. It is hard because numerous times I have felt like the biggest hypocrite. Whilst pushing to try and inspire other young women into leadership, the reality is that I’ve cried three times in three weeks. Messaged friends thinking that I’ve failed. I’ve made mistakes and then felt like I had let down the whole female race. I’ve consistently questioned confidence in myself and I feel massively out of my depth and underprepared.
After reading about the progress of women’s movements, I naively had an idealistic view that when I became a leader, I would be treated like any man. Unfortunately, at the moment, that’s not true. We have to figure out and play by the rules set before us. Well-meaning people will undermine you, question you and scrutinise you more than they even realise. It can feel pretty exhausting and overwhelming.

Luckily for me, my mother keeps reminding me that Hilary Clinton didn’t have it easy either. She has also taught me that I, like all female leaders, will be okay. Whilst being a leader in a male dominated environment can be incredibly frustrating, you will find your feet. There will be a lot of moments of despair, frustration and loneliness, but there will also be great moments of success. You suddenly have this amazing platform which you can use to create positive change – how cool is that ?! There will be many amazing moments and changes you which you will make and they will remind you why you set out to lead in the first place. Remember them all because they’re important

My advice to any aspiring female leader, is firstly that you are absolutely capable whoever you are. Being able to call yourself a leader should not be defined by age, gender or any other category. You can do it – from my experience the world needs more female leaders regardless of whether you are 15 or 50. You will get great satisfaction consistently surprising yourself and others around you what you can achieve.

And secondly, whilst at times it may seem like you are fighting an uphill battle to be heard, you do have a voice. A voice which is important, valuable and worthwhile. Show the world that you have something to say and that you deserved to be heard. I’m pretty confident that if you remember those two things, you may get off to a better start than me.

TEWP x

Let’s talk about cat calling…

I asked a few questions last week on the project Instagram about cat calling and how many women had experienced it or if they had anything they’d like to add. I had so many responses that I’m only just getting round to curating them for your reading now.

The results were varied but did show that an alarming number of women still feel harassed when just walking around or have been cat called in a way which makes them uncomfortable. So let’s look at some of the responses.

I asked the question… “how would you feel if a stranger would whistled at you?”..

Sarah in Scotland said:

“Would NOT feel flattered. Would 100% be inclined to reply with a middle finger or a FUCK OFF.”

Carla in New York said:

“It makes me feel like I’m on display. I just started a masters program at NYU and the week before school, I was on campus a lot for orientation and I was excited to be in a new space, learning new things, meeting new people and in general being valued for my intellect and what I can bring to the program. The first day I was on campus, I are lunch in Washington Square Park and was INTENSELY cat called at.

I ate my lunch in the park every day the rest of that week and was cat called at, to various degrees every single day. Since then, my perception of that space, a space I thought would be a place for me to grow intellectually, has changed. I haven’t had lunch in the park since.”

Caroline in England said:

“I think it can absolutely feel flattering, because everyone likes knowing that any work they’ve put into their appearance is appreciated. That said, after surviving sexual assault, I personally felt very uncomfortable and found it somewhat threatening – if a person (often a man, in these cases) feels like he’s entitled to provide unsolicited comments on my looks, what else does he think he’s entitled to do?”

Callan In Scotland said:

“I don’t think a cat call or wolf whistle is a compliment. It’s a way of exerting power – no matter what tone response is, it’s never right. If you say something angry, you’ll invariably be called a slut / bitch / frigid and I’ve even known of people to be physically hurt. If you ignore it, you’ll get some kinda shitty response or be followed until you respond.

There’s no winning, and it’s just a way of reinforcing that there’s not a damn thing you can do to be in an equal position of power in the exchange.

I think it should be made illegal as it is in other countries.

And I think it should go the same way for women doing it to men!

A lot of my male friends who work in hospitality have to deal with groups of older women groping etc, which again is excused as a joke or flattery.

Just because you see something you like, does NOT mean it’s your prerogative to fuck with someone’s autonomy and invade their space.”

Jo in England said:

“I think you just have to learn to take it as a compliment. People are always going to do it unfortunately and I think part of the reason we get embarrassed and anxious is because we aren’t used to taking compliments. I think if you take it as a compliment and allow the compliment in, you will slowly love yourself more whereas if you reject the compliment, you’re never going to believe it.

Hannah in Scotland said:

“I think it all depends on the person being whistled at.

Me personally, I don’t mind it! I give a cocky remark back. I work in the construction industry and have heard EVERYTHING so nothing shocks me. You just need to know how to hold your o n and if you get whistled at, it’s probably a genuine compliment. But I understand others may feel the opposite.

How did people meet before the internet? They usually approached others and started a conversation! Now it’s frowned upon for a male to approach a female and start any kind of convo workout coming across as “only after one thing” or automatically seen as hitting on them.”

Stacey in Colorado said:

“I’m not a dog. I don’t respond to whistles. I wouldn’t even respond to amoeba like that.”

Katy in Scotland said:

“I would probably feel a wee bit flattered but at the same time I’d think, “Get a grip pal, how embarrassing!”

Holly in Israel said:

“I hate it! It makes me so angry that these people think it’s OK to bother me or that I may find it flattering. I totally think, who do you think you are?”

Meez in England said:

“Absolutely shit!

It’s because of the internalised misogyny that some women find it flattering which is inherently sad. Women don’t exist in public to be gawped at and judged on our apparent attractiveness by random men. It’s sickening that they feel entitled to yell at people on the street.”

It seems that their are varying views and outlooks but the overwhelming word which kept cropping up is: Entitlement. We don’t like that men (and women!) feel a sense of entitlement to act in a certain way.

Thank you to all who contributed!

Mandy @ TEWP x

From Millie, age 16.

Dear Lauren Goodger, Chloe Ferry, Marnie Simpson, Kylie Jenner… I could go on.

Let’s just say I’m envious.

I’ll go through your Instagram pictures, looking at your body photos desperately wondering how I can get an hourglass body and curves like that. I cannot get surgery as I’m 16 so:

1) I’m underage

2) I don’t have the money

I’ll sit staring at your photos then do numerous uncomfortable poses in the mirror to try and replicate and look even remotely like you. Sometimes, tears will roll down my face. It disheartens me that I can’t have a body like that within a matter of hours. I’ve bought a waist trainer to try and help me look like you. I wear it three times a week all day, sat uncomfortably at school. People actually think I’m pregnant because of the positions I sit in to get comfortable.

But I hope that, in time, it will make me have curves like you.

It disheartens me that I cannot buy skinny coffee club, boom bod or skinny revolution weight loss injections as I don’t want my family to know I’m buying these things.

I desperately want to look like that.

Chloe and Marnie, I haven’t been insecure about my nose at all, and I actually liked my nose until you started frequently posting more side profiles. Now I just want a smooth curved nose like you.

I’ve wanted lip fillers but I hadn’t been overly bothered about my lips until you started posting side profiles and your lips are there, unlike mine. Your pout is effortless and you can smile without having your top lip disappear.

Why can’t I be like that?

Why can’t I take photos without filters covering my nose?

Why can’t I take photos without pushing my lips out to the maximum to try and make them look bigger?

Why?

Millie for TEWP, age 16 x

The Circle… of Narcicissm?

The Circle is a new reality TV programme comprised of 8 people who are all put up in an apartment block.

The only interaction they have is with each other and via Social Media, there is no face to face contact.

The game promotes players doing whatever necessary to be the most popular including portraying themselves as someone they are not!

Currently, there is a gay guy pretending to be straight, a 40 year old woman pretending she is 34 and an oncologist when she isn’t, a guy pretending he is a girl and a girl who is pretending she isn’t a parent.

The rest, thus far, have opted to be themselves. The aim of the game is to be the most popular and you can win £50,000.

This may seem funny but what is it teaching us? It’s teaching us that popularity is more important than being ourselves, that insta followers and likes are ultimate representation of who we are!

How is that right?

In what planet is this normal?

It’s promoting cat fishing, lying, being fake, it’s sending all the wrong messages and encouraging an array of negative behaviours in an already narcissistic highly impressionable society.

Claire @ TEWP x