men & women, boys & girls.

my parents sent me to a private, all girls school. a common assumption made about young people in these instituations is that they don’t know how to interact normally with one another, and i’ve spent a good deal of time arguing against that fact, trying to find proof. complicating these matters is the other assumption that it increases a likelihood of homosexuality, and whilst the assumption itself sounds preposterous, the fact of my own sexuality is less clear.

i can’t escape the fact that i have a history of forming strong, healthy friendships with other girls, and none with boys. i care deeply about the opinions of other women, will go to the ends of the earth for another girl. that unspoken loyalty is something that i don’t offer to the boys i know. at times i’ve joked that i’m probably quite callous with men, as though they don’t have feelings, or aren’t quite human in the same way as us girls. i don’t feel safe in opening up in quite the same way to them, or allowing myself to be emotionally vulnerable around them. holding them at arm’s length feels like a defence mechanism. they have disappointed me in the past.

i am currently in a situation where i wonder if i have gone too far on this occasion, if i have been thoughtless in my treatment of a man and will now be tortured by my conscience. and yet, whilst this anxiety rages on, i can’t help but be aware that historically men have treated women in much the same way. ‘they don’t see us as human’, ‘they don’t take our feelings seriously’, ‘they don’t see us as worthy of friendship’. these are all valid criticisms of the way men have treated women for centuries and, in all honesty, still do in alarming numbers. in asking whether this makes me as bad as them, or if it’s a fair retaliation based on the way we’re all socialised, i’m aware that the dissertation i am struggling through carries the exact same ethical question. perhaps this is why i’m struggling with the dissertation. i can’t work out the right answer in my own life, and feel terrible that i have to ask the question in the first place.

my religious upbringing, whilst a source of adolescent repression and frustration with its teachings, inescapably drilled into me the importance of knowing right from wrong, being kind, all the usual saintly stuff. and i like to think i follow these principles – i think of myself as a kind person, or at least someone whose kindness is less conditional than that of others. and underneath all the turmoil i’ve laid out above, i know that i shouldn’t take one person as a stand-in for a whole gender. and yet i feel that i need to acknowledge how my treatment of others has been shaped by my how i myself have been treated in the past.

some people would say that once you know you’ve done wrong by someone, the good, kind thing to do is to resolve it as soon as possible, to own up to your failings before the situation snowballs and you hurt the other person even more. but i’m a coward, and perhaps i’m a little too at ease with being that person, that terrible person who continues to fuck someone over because it’s more comfortable than doing the right thing – ultimately, because i’m a girl and they’re a boy.

i’m judging myself even as i write. i think this may be good subject material for my art, but i ask myself, do i really want to wallow in that? because you do have to wallow, have to swim in that feeling and let it wash over you completely in order to externalise it creatively. or shall i do what i always do, and push it down, and deal with the repercussions as and when they come up?

one thing i’ve never called myself is strong. perhaps, by default, that makes me weak, but i’ve never called myself that either. maybe it’s okay to not feel fantastic about yourself. maybe i’ve been feeling like a good person for too long, and it’ll knock me down a peg or two, if i remember that i can actually be a bad person sometimes. isn’t everyone?

healthy body, healthy dreams.

the skin on my hands is dry, and it snags unpleasantly as i rub my palms together. when i walk, i feel a twinge near the top of my thigh, the kind that used to make my mum walk unevenly and now makes me wince. i worry that i’m not looking after myself well enough. but don’t i stay clean and well clothed? don’t i give my body energy and sufficient sleep, albeit at unsuitable hours? yes, i should drink more water, i should eat more fruit, i should moisturise every dry spot, and every spot that isn’t yet dry but will soon become dry if i don’t moisturise it, and how soon into my twenties should i feel the effects of ageing, whilst my peers are getting up at six and doing their vinyasa flows, and how normal is it for this much hair to fall out when i wash it, the fist of tangles that i extract from the comb and deposit at the end of the tub in whorls, ready to be flushed and forgotten, and does it mean i am i shrivelling up on the inside like a prune, if i don’t hydrate?

this isn’t the stuff of songs, is it? it seems like it would be difficult to form a concise, poetic idea around these worries. and yet i’m sure people manage it. i might be able to, if i had to time to sit down and work on it.

a lot of people have said to me, or i’ve read in quotes, that if you really want to create music and you’re really ambitious about it, then you’ll make time. i feel bad that i’m waiting for the time and space, like i’m making excuses for myself. but past examples work in my favour – i only made music before when i had no pressures or obligations, aside from setting a bit of student work each morning. and i had the freedom to spend twelve hours perfecting a mix, staying up until 6am, out of an urge to perfect my output. now i just stay up til 6am because i can’t stop watching trixie and katya videos on youtube, and i tell myself i’m not the only one sabotaging themselves. doesn’t everyone do it just a little bit? don’t the people on tiktok (dread the thought) relate to that dilemma? sometimes it’s perversely pleasurable to revel in self-sabotage, the way smoking a cigarette consciously sabotages your health by a fraction of a degree, and leaving a deadline to 72 hours before sabotages your chance of doing quite as well as you could have with consistent long-term effort.

in truth, i only want to be ambitious about my music if i can be sure of feeling proud of it. i want that sublime eureka moment to strike (which isn’t too much to ask, as i know how easily it comes in times of rest). it reliably delivers the work that carries the sort of magic i’m looking for. there are maybe two songs that i’ve written that, when i listen to them again, i’m not quite sure how i did it. these are the songs i’m proudest of. i want to feel like, when i’m pushing the material forward, when i push myself forward as a candidate for success, that i am less of an imposter, that i belong at that table. it’s a metaphor i use quite a lot, having a seat at the table. but that’s what it will feel like. in my head i imagine the round dining tables of award ceremonies. i don’t need to win anything, i don’t need industry validation in quite the same way. and i might change my mind, feel guilty for pandering to a restrictive version of Success with a capital S – after all, what does that really look like? there are boxes you can tick – being played on certain radio stations, playing certain festivals, certain stages and venues. but great artists redefine what success looks like every decade.

maybe one day i just want to be able to play my guitar and pay my bills. that would be nice… yes, it would be very nice.