Thursday, 27 January 2011

Making lightning...

So, right now, in this very moment, as these words fall from my head. What do I feel? It is so difficult to explain. I feel...electric; as if every single insignificant spark of electricity that has ever bolted from my mind has returned to me. I have been recharged.

Over the past week the grades were published for the three assignments I submitted towards the end of last year. Owing to the fact that my presence had not been felt in a classroom or lecture theatre for around six years, I had fought my natural instincts and convinced myself that passing would be enough - at least until I had found my feet, academically speaking.

I am so happy with the grades that I have earned:

British Press - First Class.
Research & Development - First Class.
Theory and Practice - 2:1

THIS is why I am starting to believe in myself; after making the start that I have, I owe it to myself to believe! THIS is exactly what I was repeatedly told that I am not capable of;

THIS is what would make my grandfather proud.

For only the second time in my life, my eyes filled with tears of happiness, tears that smiled their way down a face that has frowned too often.

In hindsight, maybe there are no 'insignificant sparks'? Because every ounce of electricity that has ever bled from me has led me to here; to where I make lightning...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Resolute resolutions...

Old Uncle Anxiety; he's still around. But I don't allow him to have an impact on my life anymore. To have reached this point, a point where I feel comfortable in my own skin - well that was all I wanted from 2010. But as I have stated in previous entries, I have managed to achieve so much more.

Excuse me for one second as I blow that proverbial trumpet of delight.

As far as a lifetime goes there are still so many mountain-tops that I want to reach; there will be many more that I will want to reach that I haven't even contemplated yet. Now, for the first time, I actually believe that it is all possible. I can look at myself in the mirror, and even if the man looking back at me fails to represent the physical image I would rather aspire to, I know that he is capable of amazing things.

I am not usually one to throw myself into the gauntlet of 'new years resolutions', infact I have always thought the whole ideology of it to be more of a gateway to procrastination; so many people make these promises to themselves, only to break them. How can a person find belief in what they do if they lie to themselves on the dawn of every 'new beginning'?

This year I am making resolutions. Resolutions that I am going to stick to; resolute resolutions, if you will. My reasoning behind this is simple; the belief that I now have in myself has climbed proportionately over the past year to a point where I now know that I can say that I will do something and actually do it. I will expand slightly on this in my next post.

For now I will share my resolutions with you.

1. I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar, I have always said that I am going to and not done so. Well this year that will be different, I am going to start to learn to play the acoustic guitar.

2. I will reach a minimum of 80 words per minute in my shorthand and do my utmost to achieve the 100 words per minute. I do not want to be sailing the same ship as so many students who have made it to the third year of university, but have added unnecessary work to their load because they didn't achieve what they could achieve in the first year.

3. I am going to blog as often as I can. I enjoy writing more than I will ever be able to describe and last year there were times when I had time to make an entry but failed to. This year that will not be such a regular occurrence.

On a side note, someone once told me that I had something special; the ability to light up a room just by being there. As she put it: 'the ability to shine'. As I surrendered myself to self-pity and allowed my confidence to drain I think that I lost that completely.

I will get that back...

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Summing up...

This year seems to have been the longest year that I can bring to mind. Obviously it hasn't been longer than any other year - but perhaps the drastic changes that have swept me out of my skin have contributed to this feeling.

Many people say they will do it and do not; many people plan to do it and do not; so many people start, only to fall when presented with a hurdle of difficulty. I, personally, have been guilty of planning to completely change my life and not doing so through lack of belief in myself on a number of occasions.

But not this time.

No longer am I stuck in a job that I hate. I mean, I really hated it there at the best of times. No more do I have to sit in the rusty chair of regret and ask myself what I could have made of myself. No. Now I am answering that question for myself. It is time to find out what I can be.

So I gave up my job, a well paid job by my standards, in exchange for a life of student poverty. Despite my lack of qualifications at college level, I am now studying for a degree in Journalism at Staffordshire University.

Sticking with my policy of honesty in my blogs, I can honestly say that I have never ventured so far out of my comfort zone. I am living on my own with strangers, I am in a town that I have almost no knowledge of and so it is needless to say that I never know where I am or where I'm going!
I am writing essays, learning referencing styles and having to hand work in by deadlines. It's all just as scary as I thought it was going to be.
I could not be happier.

There have been times this year when I have contemplated giving up; I have been seconds away from throwing my pencil to the table and leaving the room during shorthand lessons. But I am anything but stupid. I know how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity and I am more than aware that thousands of students, with perfectly acceptable grades, failed to get their place at university this year.

I am not quitting.

Obviously getting my chance to study at such a high level is the highlight of my year and will probably add to my life-time highlight reel. But 2010 has been about so much more for me.

Throughout this year I have gained many friends, but a couple of people have decided they don't want to be associated with me anymore, people who I previously considered close friends. I cannot hide the fact that I was distraught at the prospect of losing them. But if something is going to happen, it will just happen.

I am a little raft floating along the big beautiful stream of friendship; at some point I was bound to shed some dead wood.

But months ago I made a statement that I stand by to this day; my door is always ajar. For anyone.

I will have been single for exactly one year on new year's eve. Since the age of seventeen I have never really spent such a period of time on my own. It has probably done me the world of good. I have had chance to reacquaint myself with certain friends, address my own insecurities and, most importantly, make the decision to go to university. It is not a choice I would have made wearing rose-tinted glasses.

So to the girl who left me one year ago: Thank you, I hope you are happy and whoever you find love with can give you everything that I could not.

To summarise this year; I am growing into a person that I am comfortable being.

And that is pretty amazing...

Friday, 24 December 2010

Banking and Gardening...

When is it OK to be in love?

Not a particularly orthodox question, but one I have found myself asking recently.

Is it OK to be in love with someone who will allow you to bend over backwards for them, to drop anything that you are doing to be with them at any time of any day knowing that they will never love you back and only to repay you with blatant exclusion when you need them?

Is it OK to be in love when it presents an inconvenience to someone else?
Should you bury your feelings just because someone else is uncomfortable with it, even if you are perfect for each other?

These are two scenarios which I have seen in my world.

You don't choose love - it chooses you. Sometimes these feelings appear as if by magic, almost as if Cupid himself had been up to his old tricks. If you are not responsible for these feelings in the first place how can you be wrong to posses them?

It may well be that you are not in emotional debt to the person that loves you and they most certainly are not a bank, however, make one withdrawal too many and a higher price could be paid. A friendship with the potential to be amazing could falter. Account closed and no notice given...

Bury your feelings and, like a seed buried in the ground, they will grow into the most beautiful orchid. Bury them deeper and only the strongest roots will grow. It would be wrong to even attempt to quell something so natural and wonderful when such flowers are blooming world-wide. But there are people who try.

This garden is not for them...

Thursday, 23 December 2010


Have you ever noticed how we live in a culture so flawed that nothing but our shortcomings are noticed? For example...If one person labels you a paedophile, then you are a paedophile; equally if just one tiny voice whispers that you are a failure, the echoes are heard far and wide. You are a failure.

Should one person appreciate anything that you have done, should one beacon of praise emerge from the masses and roar with amazement at your talent, then you have achieved nothing.

There is much I have done in my life that I am proud of; there are favours that I have done for people that many would shy away from because of the effort involved. I have defended people when nobody else would and I have battled against armies of doubters to turn my life around to the point where I am today.

Six years ago I was expelled from college for fighting; Four years ago I was convicted of criminal damage, for which I paid a hefty fine. On top of this I gave into anxiety, which in turn led to me becoming less and less reliable and, eventually, costing me some key friendships.

All of this is what will define me in the eyes of others for the rest of my life. It's almost irrelevant that, since then, I held down a full time job for four years, I helped people when they really needed me (not just wanted me there to make up the numbers)and, knowing full-well that I may not get another job in the foreseeable future, I gave up a job with a decent wage to go to university in an attempt to make something of myself.

For those of you who don't know me, there were so many people who told me I wasn't good enough to go to university. Certain friends told me not to bother, Universities told me that I wasn't intelligent enough to study with them, even my own mother told me that I didn't have the drive to get there.

To the doubters, the abandoners and the users I present the proverbial middle finger.

I know what defines me. I know exactly what has shaped me into the person I am today and what will continue to shape me; everything. It's just a shame that the rest of the world is too busy picking fault out of itself to realise.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Hello cruel world...

Waking up can be difficult at times.

Today the sunlight of truth prised open my eyes, waking me from my sleep of ignorance as I discovered that in 2008, 5706 UK citizens took their own life.

Initially I took a moment to contemplate why someone would wish to pay the ultimate price to pass through a toll gate into a brick wall; this curiosity was, however, short lived and rapidly replaced with gratitude that my own outlook on life automatically steers me down a different road, albeit on a congested motorway flooded with car wrecks...of the non-proverbial variety.

In keeping with my own flawless ability to ruin a perfectly good day for myself, I, somehow, managed to drive my car into the back of the car ahead. In truth the driver in front of me had just been stopped in his tracks by another driver who adopted a bull-like characteristic and accelerated at the sight of a red traffic signal.
Realising what he had done, and clearly in no mood to face the consequences of his actions, the coward who caused the accident drove away before anybody else’s senses had returned.
Maybe old uncle Karma will fancy paying him a visit soon? It would be nice to get him out of my hair for a few days at the very least!

Needless to say my entire weekend was ruined, as was my mood. Owing to the accident my seat was vacant at the West Brom game (I hate missing the football) and I had sustained two injuries; a lower back pain and a severe fracture to my pride. Both will heal much quicker than the imminent £500 hole in my bank balance caused by the pending shovel of insurance excess!

I saw Sunday as an opportunity to take a few steps towards repairing my outlook of the weekend. So I went to play football. I hadn’t played in any given capacity for around three years but it always used to cheer me up so I figured it couldn’t do any harm to give it a go.

As it so happens I was awful. Kicking a piece of inflated leather is a lot harder than I recall. Regardless of the obvious lack of skill, I was actually having such a good time! The process of running myself into the ground, physically speaking, really had the desired effect and before long the memory of my accident was pushed right to the back of my mind.

That is...until I hurt myself.

Somehow I swung my leg to kick the football and kicked my friend instead. Don’t worry, he was fine, although my ankle did swell to the size of a small apple. A really small one, like a crab apple.
Again, I reverted back to feeling sorry for myself. This couldn’t be old uncle Karma, what does he have against my ankle?

So in hindsight last weekend was one I would rather forget (which does bring an air of contradiction to the whole point of looking back in hindsight). If I could return to last Saturday and catch the train instead, I would, but I can’t and that low is one I’ll have to deal with.

One thing I have learnt over my brief 22 year stint on this planet is that the low moments are well worth dealing with because the highs, however few and far between they may be, are too amazing to not capture!
Sometimes you may just need to seek the highs while the lows land in your lap. But could I ever take my own life and starve myself of the next high?

OK, so last weekend highlighted that this can be a cruel existence that we live and has caused me to take a new stance; this world can throw whatever it likes at me.
It can put me through as many car wrecks as it can muster because if I was ever presented with the choice of this life or no life at all, I wouldn’t even need a second to consider.

Hello cruel world...

Monday, 15 March 2010

The art of giving up...

May 7th 1945, German troops finally laid down their arms after six years of bloody, hell bent warfare.

I would wish anyone, trying to pinpoint a more significant example of surrender, good luck.
Although I join the mass ranks of individuals who are eternally grateful for what was sacrificed during the Second World War to maintain our great nation’s liberty, my focus today is set solely on a much less significant mark in the history books.

In my opinion, the foundation for a real friendship is the ideology that you never give up, regardless of material circumstance. Of course, the beautiful thing about friendship is that there never has, and never will be, any written laws but given the chance there are certain shores that you naturally would never intentionally swim to...

So many waves to ride, such a small surfboard.

Recently I found myself laid flat, face down in the shallow, salty waters of regret as I failed to attend the celebration that had been planned for an old friend’s birthday. Granted, this was due to my own lack of sobriety at another friend’s gathering, which led to me spending my night with them instead. The next morning I promptly apologised for my no-show and offered to buy my old friend dinner. Never being the type to buy anyone dinner, I had made this offer simply for one purpose; to see my friend.

My offer was ignored and before long I realised that under the shallow waters, where I currently resided, lurked an ominous pit of quicksand. No, Craig, you’re not going anywhere just yet.

The entirety of the conversation I had with my ‘old friend’ is unimportant. What I will highlight was her apparent need to hurt my feelings. Perhaps she took pleasure in mocking personal battles that I have had to deal with over several years, or maybe her response was simply a product of the ‘tit for tat’ culture that seems to have engulfed at least part of her personality.
Either way I was greeted with a torrent of abuse, underlined by several strongly negative interjections.

Finally, with her white flag of surrender waving frantically, it was suggested that we would never be friends. The quick sand dissolved and there has been no contact since.

Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.

When it comes to words I am anything but tone deaf, so when I stumbled across the above definition of ‘Art’ a chord was struck that has since been playing its way around my thoughts.

You see, I can’t help but feel that an unfair, perhaps even distorted, picture has been painted here. In fact, if this was the work of Van Gough I believe his other ear would be subject to the bread knife any time now.
Has the person in question convinced themselves that I am just a bad person? Have they conveniently pieced a jigsaw together made of entirely misconstrued circumstance?

I am sincere enough to place on record how sorry I am for my mistakes, all of them, which have affected anyone.

You will be spared the speech of my sudden realisation as to who my real friends are. I’ve always known exactly who they are.

As far as my friendship with my ‘old friend’ goes; Gingerly, my door will always be ajar.

I guess I just haven’t mastered the art of giving up...