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I am still alive &, for all of those that care, may be found - in my saccharine, insecure & bumbling glory - at footpaths.
Tomorrow is my last day of school. In many ways, today was nondescript: uninteresting, uninspiring and unmemorable. I don’t know if there will be much I’ll remember about today in a few weeks’ time but it would be nice if I could remember something of tomorrow.

French was a little bit of a haze. My mind wasn’t there and my heart really wasn’t in it while I took down notes as we listened to grainy recordings of Frenchmen and women talking about everything from public transport to DVDs. It was, truthfully, a little tedious and I found it hard to focus. Some days I just want to switch off.

All my good intentions to get on with some work in my only free lesson today were spoilt when I was accosted in the sixth form block and presented with a few girls’ leaving books to sign. I wrote a few good-hearted messages (“It’s been wonderful to be in lessons with you!” and “Good luck at university; I know you’ll do brilliantly!”) though I mostly felt rather uninspired and disingenuous. The whole experience simply served to reinforce the reasons why I do not have a comparable notebook. There are, in fact, two books sitting in the third drawer of my desk that would’ve been perfect: one was a gift from Rachelle for my birthday and the other is covered with black beads. The latter served as a diary for a few weeks a year or so ago but I found it again the other day and tore out all of the pages without reading them so now it is empty, which is how I rather like it.

I am possibly overcome with misanthropy or malevolence but having a few pages filled with tepid run-of-the-mill comments from people I’ve hardly spoken to for years seems a little counterproductive to me. Perhaps there are some people who would like to write to me in such a way but I feel I have a pretty good idea how all of the people I truly care about feel and, when I’m lonely at university, thinking of them is going to bring me a great deal more solace than reading a few rushed comments from vague acquaintances ever could. It would be lovely if I could simply embrace the idea in the spirit in which it’s intended but I seem to lack the capacity to accept anything at face value.

I distrust what other people would write because I distrust what I have written. I haven’t written anything I do not believe but Phil said to me today, upon reading what I had written in Jessica’s book, “You write like a teacher.” Clearly, this is a way of saying I’m so emotionally closed-off that the best I can do is hide behind long words and flowery phrases; this is perhaps true. I’m not the most affectionate of people. I’m not terribly vocal in my feelings. I rely on a supposition that people know how I feel about then and, in all honesty, I believe those I care for the most know that. Perhaps I am a little narrow-sighted but to most people in the sixth form I’ll be little more than “Charlotte who was going to Cambridge”, “Charlotte who lent me her history file” or “Charlotte who we only ever saw occasionally”; what these people have to say to me in the form of polite pleasantries is inconsequential and of no interest whatsoever. I only care about what the people who really know me think.

I spent break time in the library, feeling a little fed up and light-headed, doing my history homework. I didn’t manage to finish it all so I told Mr Watson that I’d left it at home and would drop it in tomorrow morning. I’ve still not even glanced at it and, upon reflection, have ascribed completely the wrong school of thought to one of the two interpretations so the fact I have to start all over again is putting me off picking it to finish. Charlotte Williams and Ben seemed to only do theirs in note form so I see no reason why I shouldn’t follow suit and do the same; it’d certainly save time and maybe even make things a little easier. I seem to get awfully confused by the structure we’ve been told to abide by.

I don’t quite remember the course of events in French just before lunch though Mr Goss told us that his father was a plumber.

I felt a little fragile and on edge at lunchtime too but that had, thankfully, passed by about one o’clock and this afternoon wasn’t quite so bad. I rather regret answering, “Not really!” to Mr Watson’s question about whether or not I had anything else to add on the topic of revisionist historians. True to form, he asked me why not and I quite plainly said because I wasn’t sure of what he was asking. When he clarified, I dutifully answered though I had a palpable sense of simply going through the motions. The bell went almost immediately afterwards and I felt a little bad for being so curt. I shall give him a card tomorrow thanking him for everything and that shall, hopefully, be a form of absolution. He apologised at the end of our last lesson for “not believing in parties”.

Dr Cownie, on the other hand, proved herself to be a big believer in parties, providing us with cloudy lemonade, chocolate cake and Blackadder (which I find impossible to like on the grounds that it stars Rowan Atkinson and he will forever be Mr Bean to me). She even let us leave at quarter past three, which was nice. I walked home feeling oddly deflated and a little disagreeable but that passed quite quickly too. I feel like I’m continuously hitting into brick walls at the moment but, so long as I keep finding ways around them, I don’t think it’s a cause for concern; it just turns out that stress manifests itself in various ways. There is a lot of pressure on me at the moment, most of which is born from the standards I set myself. I just really need quiet, calm and control at the moment and all three of them seem impossibly elusive.

However, in spite of all of that, my main grievance at the moment is our milk. My mother bought some this morning as we’d run out but it’s semi-skimmed so it’s so thick and completely foreign to me. I can barely stand to drink it. Drinking skimmed milk (albeit in coffee and with cereal) is a much easier task to surmount and I am unprepared to listen to my father forewarning of osteoporosis if I were to cut it out altogether. Similarly, as much as I dislike the idea of eggs, I persist in the eating them for fear of not getting enough protein and, as long as I don’t hear a story about a child putting an egg from a supermarket in the airing cupboard and hatching a chick a few weeks down the line, they are easy to rationalise. My vegetarianism, which is now approaching its fourth month, is going well though my attempts at healthy eating are not (having been completely ruined by the chocolate cake and innumerable other things this past week). On a good day, I manage quite easily four out of the recommended five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables; on a very good day, I make it to five. Today, however, is quite easily defined as a bad day and that makes me feel a little sad as I am fed up of all of my “achievements” (insofar as healthy eating can be classed as an achievement) are confined to academics. I look after my brain so I should look after my body (hence the reason a gym membership is firmly on the cards this summer).

I had my final notification regarding student finance through yesterday. Through the combination of loans, local education authority grants and the Cambridge Bursary, I should just about to be able to cover all of my costs quite comfortably. I’ve got a little bit saved too and I have an incredible amount of determination to work all summer long so I am hoping to be in a good position in October.

I met a boy from Gowerton School yesterday called Josh. He’s got an open offer for Chemistry in Oxford and seemed very pleasant. We had the Oxbridge photograph taken clumsily by Mr Crabb in the library as Mrs Simpkins complained we looked “miserable” and “wooden” and then Jenny and I showed him around Olchfa little bit (skipping a bit of politics in the process). Angelina gave him her ‘phone number just before he got into his taxi, causing me to make a little joke at her expense; she’s lovely though and it’s nice to get back at her sometimes because she often has the ability to make me feel like a naïve, quaint little girl. A few minutes ago, she asked me where I saw her in ten years’ time. This is one of the two questions from the yearbook questionnaire (the other options asks who you wish you had kissed). I provided a very positive description of how I saw her, which seemed mostly accurate as her vision was similar (though she emphasised the “evangelising” aspect a little more strongly than I did). In return, I posed the same question to her and was told that she sees me “in politics” and, after a telling moment, perhaps “contemplating marriage to a nice gentleman”. It’s interesting how people see you and how your priorities are different to those of other people; without a shadow of a doubt, Angelina’s faith is the most important thing in her life. What is the most important thing in my life?
"This world, such as it is, is not tolerable. Therefore I need the moon, or happiness, or immortality, I need something which is perhaps demented, but which is not of this world."

-- Albert Camus

I am happy. I am slowly realising that the next few months before I leave for university do not have to be spent waiting for my real life to begin. There is, of course, an element of that – of wanting something exciting and grand to happen – but I am becoming increasingly content with the way things are at the moment. Things aren’t perfect and everything’s a little rough around the edges but I’m starting to think that maybe that how it’s meant to be for now.

I’m still a clumsy little girl who can’t make it through a day without knocking something over or being struck by the familiar feeling of uncertainty or doubt but I’m beginning to become the person I am meant to be. It was unrealistic of me to expect that I would leave Swansea in October and transform overnight into someone else entirely – someone a little bolder, a little wittier, a little less inhibited. These things take time to develop and I am finally prepared to give myself that time.

I am still anxious about the future – I want to make new friends and learn new things and see new sights – but I am developing an appreciation for what I have at the moment. I have friends who make me laugh, who entertain my strange thoughts every once in a while and who remind me that I don’t suck as much as I think I do. It’s not so much about wanting to know better people these days as wanting to know more people.

There are people I know now that I probably won’t know in a year’s time and maybe before I took that as a sign of the shallowness of our friendship, an articulation of my inability to connect with people on a basic human level, but today I simply regard their presence as a transitory comfort. It is not a failure to admit that you’re not always going to be compatible with the people you were friends with when you were awkward and fifteen and more than a little wet behind the ears. You’re not always going to be the person you were at fifteen.

It’s less about time – the number of years I’ve accrued or the number we’ve accrued together – and more acceptance. It’s awfully hard to accept someone for the person they are three years on when in your mind they’ve not moved on at all. It’s even harder to accept that maybe they’ve not changed and it’s just your perception of them that has evolved. I don’t think accepting these things means anything but not accepting them means a lot.

Maybe you’re not meant to be friends with everyone forever and maybe you’re just meant to take what you can and give them what you can while you can and hope that, at the end of it all, you’re still in one piece. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Do I want to look in someone’s eyes twenty years down the line and see reflected in them me as I am now? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t but maybe it’s okay either way.

The wonderful thing about today is that there are a few people I want to know in twenty years. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily want them to know me but I want to know them. I want to be able to send them e-mails beginning with, “Remember that time when we were eighteen…” I want to be able to laugh at myself as I am today, thinking I have some of the answers when I’ve not even worked out what the questions are yet, and perhaps I’ll even want acknowledgement that I’ve moved on. I want there to be someone there who will be able to see that I can hug people without being intoxicated, that there are boys who want to kiss me when they’re not drunk and that I’m no longer the girl with too many dreams and ambitions but rather the woman with too many achievements and too many failures.

There are a lot of things I want at the moment but seldom few that I need. I have everything I need for a comfortable life. I still want an extraordinary life but I am at peace with the way things are now and, if things stay like this forever, that wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I made myself a promise a few days after my eighteenth birthday: I have resolved to try my hardest to be happy. I have resolved to allow myself to wish my skin were better or my hips narrower or my smile a little broader but to accept that falling short of my own expectations doesn’t necessarily translate to falling short of others. There are days when I hate myself, when I feel downtrodden and discouraged, but the days when I like myself are beginning to outnumber those.

There aren’t very many people you’re able to rely on in life but the realisation I’m not the only one makes things a lot more bearable. I’ve not believed in anything for a while but I’m starting to believe in myself and, perhaps more importantly, other people. They’re fallible, they hurt your feelings and they sometimes make your head spin dizzyingly out of control but you do exactly the same things to them and, if not to them, to others like them and you’re all just trying to do the best that you can. It’s strangely liberating to think like this.

I’m so tired of thinking everything’s meaningless and that there is no purpose. Everything’s absurd and unfathomable and indecipherable but the possibilities are boundless. It probably doesn’t make any difference if I go to Cambridge or if I don’t in the grand scheme of things but it makes a difference to me, and maybe to a handful of the people I’ll meet there, so maybe it’s worth striving for. History feels like a fundamentally fruitless subject to study but maybe it’s worth studying because everyone likes to think that they’ll be remembered and maybe I’ll be able to give some people that immutable sense of eternality that they were never quite able to attain in life. Maybe I’m meant to study history – albeit not with the romantic overtones I’ve just described it with – and realise it’s okay that my life doesn’t make any sense to me because no one else’s does either. I can cope with that. I can maybe then allow myself to think having children is beautiful and wonderful and amazing rather than cruel and unnecessary and predicated on obscure notions of boredom or legacy.

There were lots of things I thought I was ready for this time last year that I really wasn’t. I’m ready for some of them now. Companionship isn’t as daunting. Romance isn’t as alien a concept. Who I am isn’t such a bad thing. I’ll probably forever be self-deprecating and find it a little insane that anyone wants to be my friend but maybe, in some instances, I can trust other people’s judgement and accept that I don’t always know best. I shall endeavour to stop expecting nothing from others and everything from myself and seek to even out the balance between my thoughts.

I shall seize all opportunities presented to me. I shan’t let my sense of awkwardness or quietude prevent me from going to the pub with friends when they ask again - if they ask again! I must be exasperating. I shan’t be afraid of drinking alcohol, of letting it course through my veins and ruddy my cheeks, but equally I shan’t be afraid of being different. I shan’t change but I shall be open to change and new experiences, more so than I have been in the past.

I will admit that I actually really want to pass my driving test next week and not be afraid of what people will think if I fail. It’s easier when people don’t think you are much bothered by events but it’s much more gratifying to be honest. I won’t be ashamed of the fact I’ve not been kissed for over a year and that it bothers me a little. I won’t place more importance than is due on the kisses I have given and received. I will accept things for what they are and realise that wanting things to be different isn’t necessarily an indication of some massive personal flaw that I must conceal at all costs. I understand now that wanting things to be different and doing things for them to be different are diametrically opposed ideas that can, in fact, be reconciled.

Most of all, I’m realising that it’s okay to have feelings: attraction, anger, hate, excitement, jealousy, contentment. It’s okay to care about people. It’s never okay not to care about people but it’s okay not to like them. I don’t have to like everyone. I don’t have to try with everyone but I shan’t let myself get to the stage when I feel like everything’s too much of an effort again.

Nevertheless, things don’t change with the immediacy I would perhaps like. It’s going to take time before I can let a cute boy at the party know I think he’s just that or before I can be friends with a boy without fearing I’ll have a crush on him or that he has ulterior motives. I’m willing to give myself time because I’m young and I’m carefree and there’s plenty of time left to be immovably stuck in my ways. If I’m just a little bit more secure with myself, a little bit more confident, by the time October rolls around, I will feel like I’ve achieved something and I will be pleased.