The Bubble

You often hear about the comparison made between school and prison and to an extent it is true, except if you’re in school, you know, you get to go home at the end of the day.

Secondary school (high school) is a very unpleasant place to be for some people. Understandably, you have to get up early every morning, put on a uniform and spend the day stuck in a building with people from all walks of life, whose personalities can clash with your own meaning you don’t like everyone in your class let alone your year group. It’s like being stuck in a job you hate with homework instead of a salary.

Fortunately it’s only temporary, unfortunately it’s still a part of life everyone has to go through but while you’re there, try to pick up on a few things;

  1. You are not going to like everyone you meet and as fabulous as you are, not everyone you meet is going to like you either.
  2. You are going to be good at some things and bad at others. There are going to be people who are better than you and people who are worse than you. Be proud of your achievements while knowing how to handle your mistakes.
  3. Everyone is winging it, no one knows what the hell they are doing so don’t be so hard on yourself. Just work on your acting skills like everyone else so no one knows you’re absolutely sh*tting it.

There are a number of things I would change if I could go back but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to change a thing because of who I am now. I think it is important to take into account that you are not in control of your surroundings but you are in control of how you handle yourself. It is difficult to take control of a situation in which you feel you are the victim, as helpless as you feel about it you need to look outside of the “poor me” mentality and view the situation with an open mind and figure out how to solve it. One of my biggest regrets was letting insecurities get to me which lead to a “what’s the point?” type of attitude, you need to find the solutions to your problems, talk about them with friends and family and take on any advice that they give but ultimately it comes down to you.

School is tough because although it is a place of learning in the academic sense, you learn a lot about society and how people work too. No matter what is going on around you, you are there to learn, being able to regurgitate all of that useless information after six years is what will get you to where you want to be (not). You are not a passenger on this journey you are on which is life, you decide where you want to go if you want it enough and if you’re not sure then explore your options. Doing well in exams is something you do for yourself, if you can say that you’ve done your best then that’s enough. Everyone wants to do well, you want to have something to show for all these years but at the same time these grades will not decide your future or represent just how intelligent you really are.

My fondest memories from my years at school were not actually made at school. I made friends in the city and also hung out with people from school outside of school. It was fun while it lasted and I will remember those couple of years and smile because I learned and I laughed and I looked like an absolute nutter half the time but I had fun. I don’t regret any of it no matter how difficult it was sometimes because the good stuff outweighed the bad always.

Another thing you need to remember is that not everyone you meet will always be in your life and that’s okay. We outgrow each other and sometimes we just don’t fit, if it ends badly learn from it, don’t wallow in self pity because someone decided they didn’t want to stay. It is also important to understand that some relationships just aren’t healthy and you need to go with your gut, if a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend is not bringing out the best in you, you need to consider your options.

You may meet friends for life but chances are you won’t. However, there’s still time after school,  like college or work, wherever you end up because those are the places where you learn what to do with your new found freedom and you are all screwing it up together. Everyone is finding themselves and learning some hard lessons that no institution can ever teach you, we’re all just learning about what’s beyond the bubble.

Take control, not offense

“Oi you! C’mere ya fat bitch!”

Standing alone in a car park as I waited for my mother to finish work, this is what I hear coming from a a beat up light gold car. The four men in it had walked passed me a few minutes earlier, laughing, shouting and swearing. I wasn’t surprised by what they had said, cat calling and having abuse shouted at me isn’t exactly new. I was however, surprised at myself for not being in the slightest bit offended by what he had just said. Why didn’t it upset me? Why was I not horrified that a complete stranger had the nerve to shout something like that at me?

Let’s look at this way, we are our own worst critics and I can say with absolute certainty that there is nothing another person can say to me or about me that is worse than what I have already thought about myself. My teens were spent mostly looking in the mirror and pointing out every single thing that needed to change because it was ugly and disgusting and when I was done outlining my physical flaws, I would move on to my personality. I am embarrassed to say that I wasted all that time, what was the point? It wasn’t constructive, it didn’t lead to productivity and it didn’t make me a better person.

I know what I look like, I know I have a lot of imperfections, I know more than anyone else what my body looks like and the remarks made by a complete stranger who has only been aware of my existence for a matter of minutes is not going to change how I see myself. I am fairly comfortable with who I am as a person and am fully aware of the fact that change is inevitable and that I will change as time goes on, I know all of this, that man does not know what I know and does not know any of the others I saw him shouting abuse at. If this had been said to me a year ago, I probably would’ve taken it to heart and had a little cry to myself when I got home but not now.

Now, I couldn’t care less. I know that it’s nothing personal and the most anyone will get is an eye roll. Have you ever noticed how rare it is to see people shouting abuse at others by themselves? It’s done mostly in groups because when someone is in a group, they have more confidence and feel like they can get away with anything because someone else is there to back them up. No one is going to act out when they’re alone but they will if they’re in a group thinking that they appear to be more intimidating than they actually are it’s pathetic, so pathetic that it’s laughable. Words said with false confidence should not have a profound effect on you, you should not look at yourself negatively just because some muppet decides to show off in front of their friends, chances are, at least one of the friends is absolutely mortified to be in their company.

You know yourself better than anyone else, accepting criticism is what helps us to grow and become better people but if someone says something negative to you or about you that doesn’t quite fit with who you are, then I would suggest tuning it out. A complete stranger is incapable of summing you up in a matter of seconds so don’t make them feel like they can get to you. A nasty comment is like a piece of gum on the footpath, you can step over it and carry on with the rest of your day or you can step in it and let it ruin your day. It’s insignificant and only an annoyance if you allow it to be.

Where words are seen

For such a small city, Limerick has a lot to offer when it comes to music and literature. Poetry is one of the most beautiful aural forms of art you will find here.

Walking down the steps to the basement of Hook and Ladder, a homely café on Sarsfield Street, I am trying my hardest to make each step quieter than the last. It has begun, on time as usual, and I as usual, am not on time. As I enter, I can see that the place is lit up with fairy lights and furnished with wooden tables, chairs and booths, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, as are the people. This is where you will find me, every month, here at Stanzas.

This month, the theme is ‘Still’ and there’s a twist, the poems are portrayed in the style of short films. A strange concept when you think about it, the idea that poetry can be acted out, but it works in an unexpectedly brilliant way. It was a truly incredible thing to see, a perfect example of what young people are capable of creating when given the opportunity to think for themselves and are left to their own devices. For those who are interested in poetry but feel that they cannot put their ideas in the traditional format, this a great way to get your work out there, particularly for those who are more gifted when it comes to working with technology than they are at writing.

Stanzas started in a café called Cellar Door. The event started out with only a small number of people and has grown over the last two years or so with over ninety people attending the event every month. The event is run by Jared Nadin, Dan O’Malley, Shane Vaughan and Caleb Brennan, a diverse group of young men whose enjoyment for what they do is truly inspiring and instills happiness in a captivated audience.

Stanzas is not just an event for poets, it’s something anyone can attend. Any age, any job, any level of education. (Maybe not primary because it ends relatively late and involves a trip to the pub!) It’s a night of laughter, relaxation and learning and for any readers living in Limerick I would highly recommend going to check it out.