Reverse FOMO

A friend recently told me, completely unprompted, that she was worried for me. Specifically, she was worried my life wasn’t ‘fun enough’. When I asked for clarification, she explained that my social media feeds didn’t look particularly fun: it’d been a while since she’d seen any group outings or nights out on my Instagram, there was no drunk dancing on my Stories, and I just stopped using Facebook altogether. Twitter is the one I do use the most, but it’s mostly yelling about politics and gushing over Harry Styles, so I didn’t tell her that.

Confused, I assured her I was having a great time and didn’t give it much more thought. It was almost funny to me at the time, how she seemed to jump to conclusions based on what my feed showed – first, because this is a friend who knows me quite well in real life, not someone I talk to once a year whose only way of keeping in touch would be through Instagram. Second -because she must have known, on some level, that not posting anything for a couple of weeks does not equate staying in bed and actually doing nothing for two weeks… right?

I started to wonder, and then to panic.

continue reading on FGRLS CLUB

Dear Damsels Get Together

Anna Myers | WRITING

Abby & Bridie created Dear Damsels in January ‘16 to champion creative women, give them a voice and the best platform they could wish for. Six months later I submitted my very first piece This Is How You Start Over and last night we celebrated their second birthday (!!) with the most incredible & supportive community, women I admire and am endlessly inspired by.

It does not go unnoticed, how incredible it feels to be surrounded by brilliant, fierce, brave, talented creative women coming together to find their voices. Entering a space where you know you could fall flat on your face stepping offstage and still all you'd feel is love and support. Saying hi to familiar faces and meeting new ones by opening with 'I read your piece last month, it was amazing', and meaning every word. 

It's rare, and precious, and powerful.

 

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Maria Ilona Moore read her piece A Personal History of Remembering and Forgetting, Sinéad Gordon read Ash (A Love Story) with Ash present to hear it (my heart!!!) Tutku Barbaros read her poem Coconut, Molly Alexandra Cooper read An Extra Grating of Parmesan, Hattie Clark A Window of One's Own, and Jen Burrows Your Call.

Bride Wilkinson read a piece she wrote for The Riff Raff called Women, we must find out voices, and we all cried (I cried three times, but oh well). 

Abbie & Bridie, together with all the other damsels, championed me & my #feels like no one else, I’m forever thankful and can’t wait to see what else they get up to. Big plans coming! 💁🏻‍

Check them out!

Submit your work to Dear Damsels!

Buy the annual here (you definitely, definitely should it's so good)!

Cry with me! Let's always cry together!

the joy of pretending

Anna Myers | WRITING

She says we should go out because it’s my last night and warm outside. There’s an underground bar by the park where we used to hang around as kids, between the house where I had a very bad kiss on the back of a ratty red couch and the stretch of road where she fell off her bike and called me screaming because she thought she had a concussion, but she promises it’s not gonna be as depressing as it sounds and I believe her.

 

I pretend not to see them when I do, blame it on the wine or the dark or the fact that I haven’t seen their faces in almost six years; but I have, and I do, and soon they’re the ones approaching me. 

 

I’m suddenly hyper-aware of the fact that I’m wearing a bright yellow coat, big glasses and no makeup -which, retrospectively, might not have been my greatest idea, not tonight. I feel small, insignificant. Ugly. Sixteen. 

 

There’s only one person I would have wanted to see and I know he’s not here, which should ease my tension a little but doesn’t -because if this is how I react to them, how am I ever gonna survive that?

I say stupid things, make myself even smaller. 

They ask about work and I downplay it to the point where it sounds like I’m just hanging around doing nothing, which couldn’t be farther from the truth but makes me mad because why, why would I do that, what’s the point in pretending? 

 

I’ve spent the last four years pretending for a living, but the last two getting closer to the truth and the last six months being so unabashedly honest I could hardly believe the words coming out of my mouth sometimes. And for tonight, none of that matters. 

 

For tonight, I can only smile and nod and try my best to conceal the fact that I’m jumping out of my skin. The smell of smoke in the air is making me nauseous, and the mulled wine they’re cooking in the corner won’t be ready for another thirty fucking minutes, and the jazz music coming from the other room is slowly fading which means the concert is almost over. Applause roars over our heads and a new stream of people walk in, all in various stages of inebriation and probably, definitely, intoxication.

 

I don’t belong, not with my big glasses and bright yellow coat and all the guilt and remorse and fear of not fitting in, still after all this time. I don’t belong, but for tonight I can pretend.

 

I pretend I don’t remember the things they used to call me, all the different ways they had of making it hurt. I pretend I don’t have a home and people who love me somewhere thousands of miles away. I let my gaze linger a minute too long on the tall guy with the long hair whose name I desperately wish I could remember, and let myself wish for the kind of life I never wanted. 

 

I could still live down the road, come down to the bar for a smoke and a chat, gossip about the one who’s become a model and the one who left for Australia and the one who can’t be named. I could still run into their mothers at the Thursday market and spend balmy summer nights by the water and the castle, laughing at nothing and crying at everything.

 

I’d still be in school, probably, and I wouldn’t know what it feels like to break and heal and be reborn the way I did in the last four years. She sounds sweet, this different me. I wish I could envy her.

 

Maybe I do, for only a moment -if only because the room is dark and the smell is intoxicating and it’s always, always easier to pretend we could have been different. 

 

She asks if I want to get out of there, and I say we should wait for the mulled wine at least. She gives me a look, and we walk out hand in hand minutes later. My flight home is in less than ten hours. I’m done pretending.

This is how you start over, vol. II

Anna Myers | WRITING

It feels fitting, to run into you and your beautiful new girlfriend today of all days.

Thinking back on how badly I wanted to start anew, even back then. Even when I was completely oblivious to everything else that was going to happen, as that summer unfolded in a haze of color and stardust -part of me probably already knew. 

 

It took the rest of me almost two years longer than I thought it would, but I got there in the end. 

 

It's still a little crazy to me. I still don't know how to talk about it. I don't think I'll ever be ready for your smile changing as I listen and take my punishment. Soft and pitying, your eyes zooming right into my face as I ramble and swing my hands around like it doesn't cut a hole in my chest to be saying any of this out loud -please don't make me hide in the bathroom again. Look away, make it easy, just this once.

 

Timing is a funny thing, and baby so is hindsight. 

 

I wasn't meant to stay in that flat, or the one after that one, just like I wasn't a lot of other places, metaphorical and not, that I ended up at. I wasn't meant to be brave, not with you, not that time. I wasn't meant to live the life I was living, but I wasn't to realize that until much later.

It's almost comical. But it's also real life, not some fantasy I made up at seventeen. And god, does the real thing feel better than the fantasy ever did. 

Not because it's perfect, not even remotely close -but because I've worked so fucking hard for it.

 

I had to learn how to be brave after finding every excuse not to. 

I couldn't have done that with you. 

But you see, I also think I couldn't have done that without you

 

You hold the door open with your foot as your girl looks on and our friends come calling. I've got two years on my mind and one evening at heart. It's over now and it was when it started but it lives on as it lived then. Another life, maybe.

 

(I would not make the same mistake twice)

 

This is how you start over, vol. I

leaving wasn't easy

Anna Myers | WRITING

"Low moon don the yellow road
I remember something
That leaving wasn't easing
All that heaving in my vines
And as certain it is evening 'at is now is not the time

I remember something
Finding both your hands as second sun came past the glass
Love, a second glance it is not something that we'll need"

new york, from me to me

Anna Myers | WRITING

the pink umbrella diaries: got caught in a snow storm in brooklyn, celebrated a kid's party in greenwich, got lost in tribeca, saw a lot of art, ate the best tacos of my life (sorry Nic ily), got approached by four different girls who winked and started a conversation over my 'treat people with kindness' bag, which greatly confused my dad but made me the very, very happiest, thought I could ice skate for a brief second then realized I really shouldn't, wore a lot of yellow, was very very cold, found broome and greene and cried a little, talked to a lot of strangers and cried some more, saved dad from a killer squirrel, met a dog named maisie, met a boy named Connor.

Made peace with New York.

I used to wonder how things would be different, had I ended up in NY as planned instead of London. I used to think I'd be a different person, perhaps happier, perhaps less lost -because however bad things got, I still had shiny new york as an ideal image of how life could have been. Because… that's the kind of thought an eighteen year old girl has, I guess. 

And god, do I kinda wish I could still believe that.

In the end, it wasn't the dream that died nor me who killed it --it just twisted on itself one too many times and fizzled out without a sound. Without me noticing, really, until I walked the same streets I did all those years ago and struggled to recognize them. I struggled not to compare them to the ones I found across the ocean -the ones I made my home, broken bones and all. 

I found a way to bury the dream and only keep the memories I wanted to keep. 

The smell of coffee as I walked into a gallery on 26th and 10th, the spot I cried all those tears at when I was fourteen, the bagels by the bookshop. The square where I sat for 20 minutes trying to gather myself before going into the building because I was so nervous, road signs making me laugh, brooklyn in the clouds. The people, the volume, the glitter, the gold. 

Myself at fourteen, and seventeen, and nineteen. At twenty-three, saying goodbye to a few things but also saying thank you

Until next time.

some things for the new year

Anna Myers | WRITING

Your gut instinct is almost always right. Oil on toast is not dinner. Stop making excuses for people who gratuitously & continuously hurt you. Water the fucking plants. Support your friends’ art. It's okay to struggle: that's probably what makes this whole thing worth it. Learn your favorite songs on the piano even though you’re not a virtuoso. Drink more wine, less tequila. Drink more tequila, less coffee. You're allowed to change your mind. Take more baths. Stop saving the nice candles for special occasions. Unfollow Kendall Jenner on instagram. Your mom is probably right, just accept that. Realize there’s a difference between eating an entire cake at 3AM and getting a second serving of the same cake at 10PM: one will make your stomach hate you, the other will make you very happy. Go to the cinema by yourself. Call your grandmother more. It’s okay to want what you want. It’s okay stop wanting what you don’t want. Send thank you notes. Get over your fucking self and stop sending emails two minutes before deadline. Try not to pop a coronary every time you open twitter -you really can’t live like that for the next three years. Never go months without listening to your favorite One Direction album again, that shit is happiness in a bottle and you know it. Take more bad pictures, take more good pictures. Fuck the bullshit you don’t wanna deal with anymore, just fuck the bullshit. Fuck the fucking bullshit. Delete those numbers off your phone. Listen to your body. Accept that some days you won’t have the energy to leave your bed, and that doesn’t make you any less of a good person. Eat more pasta. Wear your red boots more. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, not people who make you want to cry.

 

Keep showing up. Keep coming up with reasons to keep trying.

 

Forget your new year's resolutions on the first of january, do whatever the hell you want. 

 

Treat people, but especially yourself, with motherfucking kindness.

 

Happy 2018, baby.

 

Diamond Dust

Anna Myers | WRITING

This piece was first published on Dear Damsels.

It was a split second, barely even noticeable. One moment I’m handing my card to the woman behind the counter and trying my hardest to tune out the song blasted through the speakers. Something about a bird, freedom, driving down a midnight road. Groundbreaking lyrical genius, undoubtedly. I’m bitter, and cold, and I can’t wait to get out of there. One moment I’m counting cheese, pesto, red peppers, batteries and liquid soap, and did I forget anything? why can I never just make a fucking list, why did mother never teach me that becoming the kind of person who makes lists will solve like, 70% of my problems, why can I not just pretend I’ve got this under control. The next, something cracks and hisses in the air, I feel my knees buckle and my hands lose their grip. It was a split second, barely even noticeable. Anyone could have missed it.

I wish I had. I really do.

The drive back to the house is short and silent. I don’t turn the radio on, you don’t ask me to. You leave the bags in the back and I lock the car, we walk to the door together, but not really. You leave the light off and the living room door open, but for the first time in a long time it feels more mocking than it does an invitation. I scrub the snow off my boots, watch slivers fall to the carpet like traces of diamond dust I wish I could bottle up, like fragile unspeakable secrets that grip my heart and shake my shoulders as I listen to you whispering into the phone on the other side of the wall. Little white dust for little white lies, I think, and I suddenly can’t stop shaking. I walk up to the bathroom and turn the tap on, wait until a thick fog has settled on every surface then step under the scorching hot water, alone. 

Winter brings a few surprises, old and new. A frosty wind runs through the house and my frozen bones, my insides grey like mold, weak and rotten like I’ve never felt before. The car keeps stopping and starting. When we get it checked at the place in town they say it’s only old and run its course, and I feel like crying although I’ve never even liked that stupid car. I start shopping at a new supermarket further down over the hills. Their vegetables are mostly brown and they never have my favorite brand of pickles but I can walk around the neon-lit aisles without looking over my shoulders, so I think that’s a plus. I start making lists. It doesn’t solve anything, but it’s a start. The neighbors’ dog runs away and we spend two days looking for him. We find him on the third day, curled into a ball by a log near the lake, quivering and terrified and small, so small. I hold him tight and stroke him softly, thinking I know how he feels. I start working late. The phone is always ringing. You take your phone calls in the bathroom with the water running, loud, and I shut my eyes and feel my body sinking into the bed, into the floor, into the foundations of the house, deep at the center of the Earth where I won’t hear whispers and I won’t make a sound. We eat melted cheese on stale bread sticks sitting on the armchair by the fireplace, flames cracking either side of us as I dream they’d rise higher and higher and engulf us, destroy us, forgive us.

Some good things: NOVEMBER

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Hi hi hi! Well. I've always wanted to do a monthly roundup of things I've been loving, if only so that I can look back after some time has passed and cringe at my nonexistent (read: excellent) music taste, or count the number of times I can recommend the kind of books that make you want to stay in bed all day / buy a large bottle of wine before my friends start yelling at me again (sorry, guys). 

And I mean, if anyone gets recs or ideas out of this, I'll definitely be happy about that, too. I mainly expect yelling, but we'll see what happens.

So, here it goes: some things I've loved in November! Things that made me cry! Things that taught me something! Things that made me want to curl up in a ball and die (in a cool way -get it? get it?)! Things, things, things! All the good things!


I started off things in November on a very happy note (lol) by reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I carried it in my bag for a month before finally forcing myself to start it -not because I thought I wouldn’t like it but because I knew it was gonna break my heart into a million little pieces… and boy oh boy, was I right. Here’s what I wrote down when I finished it: how something could rip your soul out and heal it at the same time I do not know. What I do know is I have never, ever read anything more hauntingly beautiful, and though I might never find the words to describe what it meant to me, I can borrow Willem’s (and someone else’s, which is a whole other story) to express what it felt like: home. 

‘So tell me this: I must be absolutely sure. This place I’ve reached, is it truly Ithaca?’

 

I bought The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith at a time when I desperately needed to read it (funny how that works, isn’t it?) and I 100% wholeheartedly recommend it if you don’t know what to do with your life / want to feel better about the state of humanity (all of us, right?)

 

Everyone’s favorite thing in the entire world is currently Call Me By Your Name, and I am everyone. It is my favorite thing in the entire world. I saw the movie twice and haven’t been able to shut up about it since. I still wake up in the middle of the night whispering ‘Is it a video? IS IT A VIDEO?’ and start crying again. It’s THAT good -and if you haven’t seen/read it, I don’t even know what to say to you. If you have, come cry with me on Twitter. 

ps. shoutout to my flatmate who had to witness me bawling my eyes out in the fetal position first thing on a monday morning, courtesy of the last 50 pages of the book. André Aciman, you know what you did, you bastard. 

 

My dear friend Bianca Bass took me to see Battle Of The Sexes and MAN, IT’S SO GOOD. So!! good!! Thoughts:

1) the trailer doesn’t do it justice at. all.

2) I love Steve Carrell

3) I really really love Emma Stone

4) I FUCKING LOVE WOMEN

5) I cried so hard (in a good way… sense a theme yet?)

 

Let’s talk about this season of Crazy Ex Girlfriend. Why? Oh, it’s only one of THE BEST shows currently on television. Rachel Bloom is a major badass and ever the source of life inspiration when you feel like you’re never gonna get out of bed and do adult things with your adult life again. I’ve felt like that a lot in 2017, and a lot of my friends have too, which is why this show is so important. I’ve never seen mental illness depicted the way it is in Crazy Ex-gf, and for that I am forever thankful. 

 

Onto the Nonexistent Music Taste Section, my favorite part! Because even though I've been yelling I HATE ALL MUSIC FUCK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY since the Grammys failed to nominate my baby Harry (f u grammys), I really really love music. Some stuff I’ve been playing on repeat this month:


Recite Remorse by Waxahatchee, whom I discovered through Laurie Anne. THANKS LAURIE ANNE! I love Waxahatchee now!

mood: hampstead early on a sunday morning, coffee in hand, leaves crunching, doggies playing

 

Magnolia by Eric Clapton & John Mayer, which I’m aware is technically is a summer song, but it’s John fucking Mayer. There’s never a wrong time to listen to John Mayer.

mood: lights off, candles lit, bathtub filled, quiet paradise

 

Cherry by Luna Shadows, but listen to all her songs because she's so so good. 

mood: friday night walking through crowded London with headphones on. bonus points for views from millennium bridge

 

Miss You by Louis Tomlinson, because if you thought I was gonna get through an entire post without mentioning 1D, you don’t know me at all.

mood: HELL YEAH, THE POP PUNK 1D KING WE DESERVE!

 

Your best american girl by Mitski. Thanks for rec’ing it and making me cry, Ally, ily. 

mood: I have a lot of feelings

 

Burning by Sam Smith, because boy, the boy is good. Like, really fucking good. 

mood: I miss my ex (I don’t really, but this song almost makes me wish I did)

 

Relief next to me by MUNA because it makes me wanna DANCE and SCREAM and LAUGH HYSTERICALLY for reasons I am not gonna go into since I don’t *really* want people to yell at me  

mood: I miss 2014 / I'm not gonna open ao3, I'm not gonna open ao3, I'm not gonna open ao3

 

Landslide (cover) by The Japanese House, since my Spotify Discover playlist is A LITTLE BITCH whose only mission is to reduce me to a sobbing mess. Not that it takes much, but still. 

mood: writing and feeling like I’ve got my life together until the last chorus hits and I just stare into the void forever

 

Bye Bye Blackbird by Joe Cocker. Listen, it’s fall and I’m a nostalgic 90s baby, sue me.

mood: Meg Ryan old style rom-coms, autumn in New York

 

Visions of Gideon by Sufjan Stevens. Do I even need to explain this one?

mood: literally just crying until the end of time

 

Some other stuff:

Australia voted in favor of same sex marriage! The world is (occasionally) a very good place!

 

I went to Emma Gannon’s CTRL ALT DELETE podcast live recording on the topic of Money x Starling Bank, found my friend Martyna there, had a very good evening and heard some very good advice on a topic that usually makes my throat close up. Stop tapping that damn card anywhere and everywhere, Anna, and learn how to budget. And for the love of god, don’t leave your taxes until half an hour before deadline like you did last year.

 

I did a photoshoot with a team very very talented women and I’m in love with the results / the side of me they managed to capture. You can see them here

 

My friend Jackie hosted a Thanksgiving dinner (two turkeys! five pies! three servings of mash! ‘MURICA!) and it was the perfect evening, complete with lots of wine and cute hand-drawn menus and familiar accents and me losing at charades but loving every minute.

 

This got very long! I’m kinda sorry but I also had lots of fun writing it, so I’m not really that sorry at all. Love you all (and by all I mean my one faithful reader, my mother, but also anyone else who bothered to read this entire thing, you’re my heroes).

 

I just realized that next time I do one of these it’ll be 2018 and now I’m sad. Bye.

 

A xx

Supernovas in your eyes

supernovas.jpeg

It starts as a lie, but it doesn’t really feel like one because you’re lying to yourself more than you are to others, and somehow that makes it okay. 

 

It goes like this, you’re walking alone and looking for a sign. You’re paralyzed with fear and shaking in anger, because everything is difficult and nothing’s the way you imagined it. You can see how it ends and it’s not the way you dreamt at seventeen. But it’s real and it’s messy and it’s always been all or nothing with you but if there ever was a time to be brave, this would be it. 

 

There’s a song in your heart and it’s one you haven’t heard in a long time. Maybe this time, it sings, maybe now. 

 

It goes like this, you walk ’til you reach the top and take comfort in the silence of the night whispering sweet nothings in your ear. The moment is fragile, almost breakable. But you walk that line, and it’s yours, and it’s glorious. 

 

It takes a song, and a hill, and a blanket of stars. Or maybe they’re city lights, asking to be seen. Begging you to remember. Shining brighter than they have in months, in years, since you last let your eyes wander and your knees buckle on this same muddy ground, because you’ve always been a sucker for tradition. 

 

All the places you’ve seen and the lives you’ve lived merge into one with every new intake of breath, and you can almost see it. How it goes. How maybe, it doesn’t have to end.

 

It goes like this, home is a foreign word on the tip of your tongue but it feels sweeter than it ever did, and that in itself is a victory. 

 

It goes like this, the life you dreamed up at seventeen is nothing but a reminder  of all the ways you’ve changed, and you’re starting to like how that feels. 

 

It goes like this, there’s greatness in small moments and big moments and in yourself. There’s supernovas in your eyes and the echo of a song worth singing, worth coming back to. 

 

It goes like this, there’s a hand helping you up and a sprint to your step; there’s four empty boxes of brownies in your bag and a black notebook with the words ‘we don’t know where we’re going but we know where we belong’ written on it; there’s candles on your nightstand, art on your walls, and the neighbor’s lilac tree is starting to blossom again; there’s an open tab on your laptop, a plane ticket you almost bought. Almost.

 

There’s the promise of it, shining brighter than anything you’ve ever known, telling stories you’ve already told but you’re only now starting to believe.

 

Maybe it’s time, it sings, maybe now. 

 

It goes like this, you stumble on the same notes you did four years ago on a sunny afternoon, and you remember to say thank you this time. You remember what they’ve done, and you look down at your feet but you’ve stopped looking for signs.

Green like the grass, the eyes and the light. Like that (and this) glorious, glorious start. 

On Enthusiasm

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I’m a big believer in sharing feelings. As an actress, it is quite literally my job description to share feelings with the world on the daily. As a human person alive on Earth, I think it's nice to do so regardless of whether I’m getting paid for it or just chatting to a friend.
 

I’ve always been an open book, and a very enthusiastic one, too: I was my High School friends' laughing stock, and have been labeled crazy by more than one ex-boyfriend because of my… eagerness, shall we say. And while at seventeen, of course, it did feel like the worst thing in the world to be different and weird and too much, what the last five years gave me, besides a lot of UTIs and a chance to truly perfect my karaoke rendition of every single one of Celine Dion's songs, is perspective.
 

And now? I fucking love it.
 

I LOVE being an open book. I love getting excited about things, getting so excited that I start crying in the middle of London or jump around my room at 3AM (come on, doesn’t everyone do that?).

 

Loving something so much that your heart starts racing and your stomach jumps up to your throat, your brain short-circuits and you just want to JUMP UP AND DOWN LIKE A FOOL? It’s the best feeling. Be it a book, a song, a film, a boy, a girl, a new friend, a puppy, an upcoming trip -anything works, as long as it makes you feel alive.


It’s a feeling I wish on everyone I love -but lately, I’ve been feeling like maybe some people I love don’t wish it on me. Not in a mean way, necessarily, just in a ‘I don't really get what you're saying nor am I interested in learning more about this thing that makes you happy' way. Which, while not mean spirited, still hurts like a bitch. 

 

I thought I’d left the "you’re so weird, Anna" years behind, which is why I didn’t really know how to react when, over the past couple of months, I started feeling like the odd one out again. Again. Five years on, still the weirdo with the big hair who gets too attached and cares too much, feels too much, laughs too hard. And I’m sick of it.


I don’t understand it, and I don’t want anything to do with it. Maybe it’s a British thing (nothing against Britain, obviously, which I love -just a note on stereotypically British reticence), which is why I’ve always felt at home in crazy-sister America, where no one will spare a second glance if they spot you jumping up and down the street in excitement -or even better, they might join you. And look, I know, America has a lot of faults. So do I, for that matter. But at least we’re trying. We might fail while we're at it but at least we're trying. And we’ll be the weird ones, we’ll be the odd ones out, but fuck it, who the hell cares.

 

Seventeen-year-old me? She would have cried a lot and obsessively studied the cool-girl’s moves to try and change herself, try to be quieter, more complacent, more appealing. But here’s the funny thing: twenty-three-year-old me couldn’t care less.

 

Twenty-three-year-old me is going to be as loud as she wants, and as enthusiastic as she feels like being. She’s going to talk about the books she’s reading, and the songs she can’t stop singing, and the films that have changed her life. She’s going to keep gushing about cute boybanders and that one cute puppy she saw on her way to work, all the while dramatically singing along to Celine Dion.

 

She’s done trying to appease you. She’s done trying to change you and your cold, cold ways. Wondering if she’s being too much if she should stay quiet, if she should bite her tongue, if she should pretend this song doesn’t make her want to dance when it really, really does.

 

So many songs make me wanna dance, and I want to dance to all of them. I want to talk about what inspires you, what infuriates you, what makes you FEEL something, anything. I want to spend time getting to know you and loving every minute of it, not waking up one day and realizing I never knew you at all. 


Thing is, our time is limited. And how we spend it matters. For every bad date I leave wishing I'd stayed home watching Friends re-runs, and for every coffee date with people I haven't seen in years, whom I have nothing in common with anymore, I could have been doing creative work, playing with a puppy, or eating the best pizza of my life.

 

For every conversation I have that leaves me wondering if the person I'm talking to cares at all about what I'm saying -or worse, leaves me feeling belittled, patronized and uninspired- I could instead talk to someone who ENCOURAGES, MOTIVATES and EMPOWERS me.

 

Someone who might not necessarily like the same stuff I like, but will love that I'm excited about said stuff. And in return, I'll listen to them telling me about what they love, because isn't that what we're here to do? 

 

To love people and things and places and puppies (but especially puppies), as much and as hard as we can. To cry at movies that touch our hearts and be the last ones to leave the theatre. To laugh really loudly and jump up and down and dance in the street and share these experiences with as many likeminded people as we can. Because that's when the magic happens. 


When we share feelings, instead of simply feeling them, we contribute to creating more art and inspiring more people than we would just going, 'uh, I kinda like this' alone in our bedrooms.

 

Fangirls are the ultimate proof of the power of enthusiasm and LOVING STUFF SO MUCH YOU WANT TO TELL THE WORLD ABOUT IT. Yes, they get a bad rep (wonder why, uh? Funny how it's all good and dandy when it's men caring about football, but as soon as a teenage girl likes a boy with a floppy haircut it's the end of the fucking world as we know it) but they are the prime and sometimes sole driving force behind multi-million dollar industries, providing just as many jobs. And their voices are loud, so loud you can't ignore them: which is why you all know about Justin Bieber and that guy from Twilight but nobody knows anything about sports unless they're really into sports.

 

That doesn't mean you have to like Justin Bieber, just like I don't have to like sports. What it does mean is that if your twitter bio reads 'A bit of madness is key' but you make fun of people for being too much, and make them feel guilty and apologetic about their enthusiasm, then you might not be that #mad (UGH) at all. Really, you're just an asshole.

In repair

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So, the last couple of months have been tough.

Can't get out of bed tough, like, ignoring calls and texts and deadlines and meals tough. And while I love escaping from my problems as much as anyone, this time I'm very aware that they're just gonna be waiting for me at Heathrow with open arms, looming and cruel and snarky. Oh and it's probably gonna be raining, too. 

But.

But, there's something about big skies and shimmering lights, or are those stars, or are they your eyes, something about walking for miles every day and crying whenever you damn feel like it and drinking sangria at a table for one and meeting strangers in taxis and singing along to your favorite songs together with 6000 people on a hill under the stars swaying and swaying and swaying 'til you gotta hold each other lest you all go down. 

And go down I did. 

I spent July pretending I was fine, skipping lunch and dinner in favor of an entire box of chocolate cookies at one in the morning. Every morning.

I went home and kissed my parents and brother and dogs a lot, and thought maybe, the worst was over.

At the end of the month, I dialed a number I’d been avoiding for longer than I care to admit, and thought fuck, the worst hasn’t even begun.

I spent August working working working pretending pretending pretending dodging questions invites emails worried looks and frantic phone calls from my mother. I took down pictures from my bedroom walls and bought a lot of plants in an effort to feel like an adult, but they died within two weeks because life just, doesn’t work like that. 

I cried in a tiny pharmacy in Kentish Town and a convenience store in Dalston and on Embankment bridge and at Waterloo station at rush hour where a woman asked if I wanted a hug, which only made me cry harder but in retrospect might have been the nicest thing a Londoner has ever said to me. 

I went home again because my parents’ ultimatum was “either you do or we’re getting the first plane to you” and because twenty-three might not be that young but it might just be young enough for parents to still know best. I locked my phone in a drawer for ten days and read a lot of books, ate more pizza than anybody with a dairy intolerance ever should, and smiled in pictures for the first time in a while. 

At some point I turned my phone back on and asked for help. I asked anyone who would have me, and I tried my damn hardest to actually listen, for once in my life, to accept the help I so desperately needed. 

One friend suggested I dive back in the madness, one that I go back to university, one that I move home, and one offered me a job. 

I got on a plane to California instead.

Before I left, my mother said to look for signs wherever I could find them, so I did. I looked for one in Silver Lake and Malibu, on Wilshire and on top of the Hollywood Hills, on boys’ lips and in songs and in friends’ warm hugs, in a sketchy vintage store where I found a Mick Jagger vinyl I’d wanted for months and in overspilling American portions of what could be described as “comfort” but definitely not food.

I watched the sun set in a blur of blue orange purple fireworks and cried a little, fell down the Griffith Observatory stairs, twice, got lost more times than I can count, walked out of a couple of pilates classes, sang, well, screamed every word to What Makes You Beautiful surrounded by teenage girls having the time of their lives, cried some more, mumbled something unintelligible anytime I got asked “what do you do?”, and decided that I like making signs up as I go along more than I do looking for them. 

It’s an Aquarius thing. 

It’s also a stubbornness thing -the stubbornness I’ve inherited from my father and two out of four grandparents, how we just can’t accept that sometimes you try and you try and you plan and it’s all for nothing, because when you think you’ve finally got it down life shuffles all the cards and finds a way to bring you right back to start. 

So from that start you’re gonna have to come up with a new plan, and fail at that too, and fall on your ass so many times that you’re never gonna want to get up again. Until you do.

And like I said, go down I did. 

But I'm also luckier than most, surrounded by so much love it makes my heart burst, and looking down at the city of angels with supernovas in my eyes as my plane takes off towards rainy Heathrow, right and wrong turns, real life. 

It sings back to me, you're in repair. Not together, but you're getting there.

On success, and choosing a life for ourselves

Lara Angelil Portrait

The first time someone told me “You’re going to be very successful”, I was eight years old. All big hair and pink velvet trousers, I was a loud, chatty and sometimes bratty overachiever with a heart of gold and a lot of plans for her future: from princess to teacher to queen of the world, and occasionally, President. Of course.

 

I wasn’t shy nor silent about my plans, either, which is why adults would always take a shine to me. They’d give me a big smile together with a pat on the back and repeat, “You’ll go far, kid”. I would smile back and store the moment in my ‘happy thoughts’ mental folder, where one after the other they’d start accumulating. But the more people told me how great my life was going to be, the less it began to feel like a friendly auspice, and the more it did a weight on my shoulders. By the time I graduated High School I’d lost myself under a pile of responsibilities and too-high expectations I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to meet, and I loved but simultaneously hated the idea of success.

 

Success no longer felt like a shiny gold thing to strive for, but instead a burden weighing me down. Suddenly I was no longer sure I even wanted to be successful, but I had no clue what else I could be since all I’d been told for the better part of a decade was that I was going to “make it” -whatever that meant. I tried to sabotage myself and my scholastic career, then when that didn’t work, tried the opposite strategy: aimed higher than everyone else, higher than I realistically should have, higher than anyone I know. And while I don’t consider myself by any means a failure of a (young) woman, I am just not as successful as everyone thought I would be.

 

Which prompts the question: who knows better? Is it the people looking in from the outside, the ones who will never know my feelings, struggles or path? Is it them, with their futile advice and uninspired opinions?

 

Or maybe, maybe I do. Am I not the only one who can decide what success should look like to me?

 

Whether I want to be the CEO of my own company by the time I’m 30, or move to Spain to grow tomatoes, is my own choice. I am the only one who knows what will make me happier -and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a CEO, we need to start asking ourselves whether that’s something we actually want, or if we’ve just been conditioned to believe we do.

 

Having been born and raised in the western world in a post-capitalist society, I do not know what it feels like to grow up without hearing every single day of my  life that ‘if you want something badly enough, and work hard for it, you will get it’ -which is a great idea in theory but works to my disadvantage if maybe, just maybe, I don’t happen to want what everybody else wants.

 

My grandfather is still convinced that simply graduating from University -any University- is enough to qualify for a great number of the highest-paying and most competitive jobs in the country: not out of naivety nor stupidity, but because when he was my age, that was in fact the way things worked. Of course, that’s not the case anymore. We all want more, we want better, we need to have it all. We have raised the bar so high that landing a nice, secure job is now practically considered the bottom of the ladder, a starting point from which to start climbing up to the top. Higher, always higher.

 

Sleep deprivation, impostor syndrome and stress-induced illnesses are rampant, while less and less of us consider themselves truly happy -and no one even really knows where we’re going with any of it! What happens when we’re all multi-millionaire CEOs with the perfect Instagram feed, but overworked to the point of needing hospitalization?

 

We need to stop idolizing successful but possibly miserable millionaires (American politics, I’m looking at you), and instead start looking at the great number of happy people doing perhaps small but beautiful, important work. We need to ask ourselves what it is that we truly want to dedicate our lives to, and dig deep into the why behind that. What that why is, and where it comes from.

 

Because hey, if it turns out you do really want to be CEO of a company, all the better. But if you should find that what your heart desires is to grow tomatoes in Spain, please, allow yourself to start accepting that, too. And maybe book that flight. 

To the ends of the earth

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I’d been eighteen for less than three days when I first said it out loud. I’d been thinking it for a long time, but eighteen is when it came to a head and I was forced to lay my cards out on the open. Saying this is it, this is why, can’t you see? This is why I’m leaving. Why I can’t stay.

 

I think it must have always been at the back of my mind, a voice I never managed to shut up completely -half for lack of trying and half because eighteen is when the voices get louder, not weaker. 

 

I couldn’t tell you when it started -maybe when a High School teacher suggested I pick up Chinese as it would have been ‘a terrific advantage to my introduction to the job market’, and I had to push my nails deep into my thighs to stop myself from screaming. Could have been earlier, when I sang louder and moved faster and laughed harder than all the other kids at my school recital because I’ve always wanted to make an impression. Maybe somewhere in between, when my name was on all the boys’ lips even though I wasn’t the prettiest or the smartest or even the one who’d let them win at class games but because I was loud, loud, loud, and they had no choice but to remember me. 

 

Somewhere along the line, recognition turned to validation and I wanted more, more, I wanted it all. I was powerful because I was the most, and I fed off it, I thrived off it, clutched to it like a lifeline and forgot how to live without it. Then I said it out loud. 

 

Three days into it, eighteen was bad until it got worse. Eighteen was slammed doors and skipped meals and loud headphones and heartache like I'd never known before. It was a single phrase, uttered between gritted teeth then repeated louder just to see my mother cry. “I’d rather die than be like you. Do you hear that? I’d rather die than be ordinary, live a wasted life”. In the words of Avril Lavigne, anything but ordinary please -and say what you want but if there’s one thing Avril Lavigne knows how to do, that’s teenage angst. 

 

Teenage angst, which is in great part what my outburst was about. But also: fear of being anonymous, being forgotten, being one of many. Interchangeable. If not her, a hundred others just like her. Fear of everything and nothing, of not leaving a mark, of empty days and drunken weekends and the monotony of tick tick tick, blink and you’ve missed it. My heart shrunk and twisted on itself, screaming not if I get a say in this. Not on my watch.

 

So I did. I left and I tried and I lived by that, anything but ordinary please. 

 

Then I had a change of heart. 

 

Last week, I read an essay by Zosia Mamet about success, in which she says: ‘We are so obsessed with "making it" these days we've lost sight of what it means to be successful on our own terms. Having a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and heading to work isn't enough—that's settling, that's giving in, that's letting them win. You have to wake up, have a cup of coffee, conquer France, bake a perfect cake, take a boxing class, and figure out how you are going to get that corner office or become district supervisor, while also looking damn sexy—but not too sexy, because cleavage is degrading—all before lunchtime.’

 

Safe to say it resonated. Deep, deep within, it struck a chord.

 

Then I went to Brighton, where rhythms are slower and smiles kinder, warm like the sun rays I soaked up sitting alone by the beach one afternoon. And I went to Italy, where rhythms are even slower and whatever had been worrying me in London suddenly seemed so insignificant, as small and artificial as all city life troubles do when examined from a solitary bench overlooking a lake in the north of Italy, swans and dogs making small noises in the water while German tourists take pictures of their gelatos. 

 

Suddenly I was hit with a thought: what happens if I get there and nothing’s the way I dreamed it up? What happens then, when I’ve used up all my cards and every trick up my sleeve, but the promised land just won’t turn to gold. When there’s no promised land at all. 

 

A change of heart, maybe in plans. Maybe.

 

Arms Wide Open

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This post was first published on Dear Damsels.
 

We wake up early on our last day, and fittingly, it’s a Monday. It’s also uncharacteristically grey and cloudy, which might be San Diego’s way of saying Don’t go. I like to think so.

While she’s in the kitchen, I sneak into her bedroom to leave a couple of boxes of tea on her nightstand, together with her favourite chocolate digestives – because having a friend who lives in London has got to have some perks – but then she goes back in to look for a necklace and my surprise is ruined. It’s the thought that counts, I tell myself.

We make a gallon of coffee and drink it in the car. We listen to a podcast I haven’t heard of, complain about traffic, stop to get petrol. My coffee’s cold by the time we pull into the station, so time must have passed even though it feels like we only woke up minutes ago. Maybe I’m still dreaming. 
 

She helps me get my luggage out of the trunk, and we walk to the platform in silence. It’s sunny now. Don’t go.
 

We hug but don’t speak. Touch but don’t move. Then:
 

‘Come back soon, yeah?’ she says.
 

Yes, I nod.
 

‘Thanks for the visit. Love you always,’ she adds.
 

Miss you already, I think. Or maybe I say it. I think sometimes with us, there’s not really a difference. And then I blink and she’s gone, so I stand on the platform with my eyes on the car park and my heart in my throat.
 

We’re lucky, I think while I gulp and try to hold back tears. We’re lucky to have this, something good, and we’re lucky we met because the way we did is so improbable that it could easily not have happened, and then we’d have been robbed of moments like these. Years like these. 

We’re lucky, I tell myself. I just fucking hate goodbyes.
 

‘There’s nothing quite like sisterhood, is there?’
 

I turn in the direction of the voice and find a woman’s eyes on me. She’s sitting on the bench by the vending machine, shielding from the sun, and looks like the kind of grandmother you’d love to have over for a drink, or two; a warm, kind smile on her face and a big red poncho covering her shoulders. 

‘You ladies have something special. It’s beautiful,’ she says.
 

I smile a big smile, full of teeth and teary eyes, and she smiles back like we’re sharing secrets. 

‘I’m going to see my daughter in LA, and from there flying to New York to visit my sister. We’re very close, me and her, very close.’ Her hands move with her mouth, her long silver strands are in her face, in front of her eyes, still she smiles big. Secrets. ‘Are you going to LA, too?’
 

‘Yeah,’ I nod. ‘Going back, actually, I was just visiting.’
 

‘So you live out there, uh?’ she asks.

‘No, I— I live in London.’ 
 

‘Did you have a good time?’
 

‘It was wonderful.’ 
 

‘What was your favourite part?’ She looks at me like she wants to know, like she’s actually interested, and I haven’t seen that in a while; not in London. 
 

I guess for all its faults and cars and false bravado, America’s still a place where people ask questions like they want to know the answers. Funny.
 

My favourite part?



When we hiked while listening to a 2010 playlist and laughed ’cause we still knew all the words to that one Owl City song. When her parents had us over for dinner and made pizza from scratch because, ‘It’s in your honour, Anna’. When we saw a movie under the stars, and I met her friends and ate a burrito so big it took me 45 minutes to finish it but by the time I did I was smiling so wide you wouldn’t even notice that I’d spilled sauce everywhere and got pieces of rice between my teeth. When we sat on her couch and watched The Office all afternoon, because real friends are the ones you can spend an afternoon doing nothing with, and still have the time of your lives.
 

‘We saw some seals. That was really cool,’ is what I settle on. Then, ‘But I think— I think just being here was my favourite part. She always comes to me, you know? This was different.’ 
 

‘It’s very different. I love it over here. I’ve lived out East, too, but I never . . . I guess it depends on what you like. What you need. It can be everything, you know. Do you know what I mean?’
 

I nod. I do. It is everything.

‘What’s your name, dear?’ she asks, eyes wide open. 
 

‘Anna.’
 

‘Oh, my grandmother’s name was Anna, too! She was so beautiful. Like you, you’re very beautiful.’
 

I smile another big smile. I knew it was coming. This is California, after all.
 

Welcome home.

When The Big One Hits

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Still I dreamt of garnering all rave reviews

Just believably a little north of God's own truth

He's a national treasure now, and here's the proof

In the form of his major label debut

A little less human with each release

Closing the gap between the mask and me

 

So I never learned to play the lead guitar

I always more preferred the speaking parts

Besides there's always someone willing to

Fill up the spaces that I couldn't use

Nonetheless, I've been practicing my whole life

Washing dishes, playing drums, and getting by

Until I figured, if I'm here then I just might

Conceal my lack of skill here in the spotlights

Maya, the mother of illusions, a beard, and I"

 

-Father John Misty

 

This is how we slip away

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First, it’s a missed phone call. You’re distracted, on your way somewhere, it’s rush hour and raining and it’s only a missed phone call. But you stare at the screen until it stops ringing, and only then look away. You will call back. 

 

You forget. 

 

Nothing’s wrong, is the thing. You have a lot on your mind, it wasn’t intentional. Why would it be?

 

You’re busy. 

 

Next, you reschedule a coffee date because something came up, but the truth is you woke up in a foul mood and just want to stay in bed and cry a lot. It’s not her, it’s not, it’s just -life. 

 

Raincheck? you ask. Sure, she says. 

 

But you don’t set a date, and neither does she, and it doesn’t happen.

 

Nothing’s wrong. 

 

You leave town for a day, then for a week, and send a picture of a sunset because you think she’d like that. She replies with a smiley face, and it’s fine. It is.

 

You start saying things like, I think she went to some party last weekend, and, I guess she has a new boyfriend. You’ve deleted Instagram but check her profile on the web version every day, which is something you wish they’d have warned you you’d start doing because, wow. 

 

You wince when you see new pictures with new friends in new places laughing at new jokes but maybe that’s the whole point of Instagram, really, so you let it slide. It doesn’t mean anything anyway.

 

You get mean and jealous and stroppy, and it’s ugly. You hate the words coming out of your mouth but it’s too loud in your head to stay silent. You repeat it doesn’t hurt enough times that people start believing you.

 

You hear about her big promotion and wish you could text but it’s been so long you wouldn’t know what to say. You hear about her breakup and wish you could call but you still hang up after the first ring. 

 

Nothing’s wrong but everything’s on fire.

 

Someone asks you about her weeks later and you catch yourself in time, but it’s a close call. You smile a good smile and say she’s doing fine, and it’s believable, really, it is. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you didn’t miss her at all. 

 

You find a note she wrote on a napkin months ago, tucked between the pages of a book you haven’t picked up in a while, and it falls out as soon as you open it but your breath doesn’t hitch, it doesn’t. You’re just surprised, that’s all.

 

You’re my best friend and I love you a lot, the note says.

 

Your breath doesn’t hitch. It doesn’t.

How It Should Have Ended

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On their last night before the party 

she locked herself in the changing room

ate four arancinis one after the other,

like an animal, 

heart racing and cheese dripping,

and her hands losing their grip,

her legs shaking with the force of it, 

and she cried.

 

She cried tears of desperation

for the months she’d spent pretending

for the weeks she’d tried to hide it;

hidden like oh my, 

look at this mess 

look they’ve made a spectacle

now.

 

Things would’ve been different, 

if she’d heard him come in.

 

Her dress was itching 

and she tried to make a joke,

when he put his hand on her leg

and the arancinis threatened to come up.

 

Things would have been different.

 

She ran out on the street but November’s a real bitch

and she almost froze to death trying to shove two fingers down her throat.

 

Not very glamorous, 

but that was their goodbye;

that was how it died

with a hiss and a clash,

in the clamour of the night

in the cold,

in silence.

 

 

 

November Love

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It started as a fantasy, like all the best stories do. It started with a promise, long nights conversations / summer breeze sweeping us up in temptation.

I had a dream we’d move away, before my chest started aching / before your song started fainting / and your hands lost their touch while you played and I laughed ‘cause I was young but I wasn’t stupid.

It ended when it came to be the realest thing I’ve ever felt, because I’ve moved two cities and lived five lives but I think loving you was still the bravest thing I’ve ever done. 

There was a red light blinking in the distance and there was me playing a different song, counting mistakes / but when the tide washed up you hadn’t changed much anyway. Much like I couldn’t tear my eyes away, while you were looking over, much like I dreamed of a different life. What’s a little pain, anyway, what’s ripping your soul out, anyway. 

I got in the tub filled with lukewarm water and thought back on bike rides and goodbyes, not forever, but for a night / how you held my hand under the table, and asked to be excused ‘cause we were being so obvious. 

You picked me up and I laughed like a kid, I laughed in their faces, ‘cause more than anything I wanted them to see. The way your fingers digged into my naked thighs, the way your brother cheered as we ran through the crowd, freezing and soaked and young and so in love we couldn’t breathe right.

You gave me your sweater because I was shaking, one you’d found in a forgotten drawer / and I say I’ve forgotten but still I hide in the bathroom, sit on the floor, and think about the fabric on my skin, your lips on my skin, that knock on the door when you were gonna ask me to stay / and I smile like the actress I told you I’d be, I grit my teeth and I think, the sun can’t touch me here.

//

I have a different name, now, one you haven’t heard of. I move to different rhythms, move to foreign cities, find myself pretending. Sometimes for a living, sometimes for the hell of it. 

There’s arms ‘round my shoulders and fingers in my hair. There’s eyes on me now, there’s an ache in my chest / persistent, like it wants me to listen. 

He takes my hand and drags me through the crowd, through the mass of bodies stuck together by sweat, and music, and the fact that we’re all out here looking for something, staying for nothing, crying for everything. 

It's hurried, and frenzied, and there’s nothing romantic / about it. But it’s real and it’s happening and it’s better than the three before him.  

I’ve changed my tune, too, you wouldn’t believe. 

I breathe in and out a couple of times, and I start shivering because my legs are cold and my face exposed. One, two, three buttons. Let’s make it all up, pretend we were out there all along, there in the lights where the magic happens. 

“Are you staying?” He beams, bright and hopeful.

“I’m going.” I say, before I can regret it.

“Let me walk you out. Strange city, wouldn’t want you to get lost.” 

I tell him, “You don’t sound like you’re from here yourself.”

“Seattle, moved a few years ago.” A pause. Then, “It’s the place to be, isn’t it?”

Four, five, six buttons. This is where the magic happens.

“I guess it is. Maybe next time I’ll see you on the big screen.”

Something flashes across his eyes, and I almost ask about it. Almost. 

“When was the last time you had an epiphany?”, you asked all those years ago.

I think I knew all along. Even though it hurt, even though I couldn’t see, even though she was staring right at me / while you kissed the side of my face and I prayed for closure when all I wanted was another day.

You felt like butterflies in my veins. And home, you felt like home.