Hi Everyone!

In June 2014, I turned 16 years old, and
 started building what has become Changing Perspectives.
 I didn't know a single soul. A year on, a year older;
Here's what happened in between.

Every so often, I like to edit together all the memories I've collected over a certain period of time. With my seventeenth year beginning today, now seems the perfect time to debut this post of exactly one year in my life. My 16th year. One very full -- yet very quick -- year, where I changed so much. I learned so much. Grew so much. Laughed so much. I was introduced to some of the most incredible people I've ever known. And, yes, there were some really really really really hard times. A lot of them. Times that tested my strength in ways I never thought imaginable. Times that pushed me to do a whole lot of growing. 

You won't see those times in this post, though. Not because I don't want to admit they existed -- to me, the harder times are represented in this post right next to the easier ones. The reason those times aren't evident to the outside eye is simply because I'd never let them wipe the smile from my face. No matter how hard life gets, you've got to keep going. You make the best of every situation, taking each as it comes, and knowing that it's all a learning experience. That's what life is. You have the choice to make it fun. Why choose anything but

My sixteenth year was one of the most hectic, intense, beautiful, fun chapters I've experienced thus far in this life. It brings me to the verge of tears when I think of how crucial this time period has been to my life; how many wonderful memories were created. It changed me in so many ways, and I will be forever grateful for every single thing -- every single person -- it's given me. 

I honestly didn’t think I’d be writing another life post; but when I started putting together the images for this post and began to write a paragraph encompassing this year of my life that I realised it wasn’t enough. The words just started flowing from me. I’ve realised that the more honest and open we are, especially with the raw parts of ourselves that we normally hide, the more we all realise we are not alone. That we’re all flawed and fighting battles and none of us really know what we’re doing and that is okay. Deep down we’re all the same. We just have to keep on growing. And so I find myself sharing my own journey again. My joy and my struggles.

Twelve months has passed.

A hundred feelings, a hundred faces, a hundred places. I am living lifetimes inside single years. I am strong, powerful and brave. I am confused, alone and afraid. I am lost but I am finding myself. I have come so far but I still have so far to go. I nurse my broken heart and broken dreams lightly, often forgetting they are there at all. I escape my past by embracing my present. When the dark quiet of night washes over the world sometimes nothing can distract me from my pain. But then the day comes and sets everything alight, reminding me of all there is to be grateful for. Everything is going to be okay, better than okay.

Sometimes in the middle of the night I will reach out for them and my hands will find no one. Sometimes I am worried and I long for someone to hold me and tell me they will take care of everything, that I don’t need to worry about a thing. But it is just me right now and I have to be strong. There are times when my shoulders buckle under the weight but they don’t break. I’ve got this. Then there are times when I will pass old familiars, people I no longer know so well. I see them through different eyes now. In some ways I can’t recognise them any longer. Their arms no longer hold the safety they once did, their eyes no longer hold the affection they once held for me. We are all different people now. It’s strange how someone can be your world one day and almost a stranger another day. Once upon a time I would have done anything to be back in those days, where I believed everything was going to work out, that our friendship was invincible and everlasting. Not now. I'm so happy now that those days seem mediocre in comparison. But that chapter is long finished now, leaving space for new chapters to be written. And these new chapters are beautiful.

You see I was torn apart by fear twelve months ago. The future  that had built up around me, like a bridge built on dreams and love and hope, was destroyed. The ground was pulled from beneath my feet and I was hurtling through the unknown. It took a lot of pain before I realised I didn’t have to fall, I could fly and that what was torn down could be built up even better than before. Speaking my lines from the script just right. Those nights were some of the hardest of my life. Over the years we’d collected enough memories to keep me up all night reliving them. After a while I stopped romanticising the past and began to see things clearly. We weren’t the same people we were in the beginning and our friendship had changed along with us. I stopped fighting the situation. I accepted it, and I even started to see how this was all for the better. It was something I had known would happen deep down before we had fallen apart. I found solace in the arms and loving words of the girls I suddenly found around me. I hadn’t had many friends before,  and I was learning how important it was to have their perspectives and support. I knew it was only the beginning of the lessons I would learn on my own.  I look at the people who surround me , studying their features with endless fascination. My friends this year are some of the most beautiful souls I've ever met.

My home is full of people, all eagerly anticipating the wedding in less than a month. I make sure to spend as much time with them all as possible, because I know how quickly it will be over. My dress is ready and it hangs beside the all important white one in my closest. My brothers are three of the best people in my life, even more now than ever before. Their hugs swallow me whole and I am safe. These nights we sit beneath stars and tell stories, pausing in between sentences to appreciate the bond we now share. My siblings aren’t children any more and at times it is as though I barely know them. Still I feel a sense of love and protection for them, and the grown ups they are becoming. I felt like curling up and closing my eyes. Drifting in the warm, slow flow of their  words and letting their stories come to life in my mind. “I can’t tell you just how proud I am of you,” my eldest told me sincerely, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Our hugs last forever but end too soon. I should spend more time outside. When I am out there things are simple and clear. It is easy to be present. I will forget those nights I stayed up late watching Pretty Little Liars, but I will never forget the night I was with them.  Life has a cinematic quality. The kind that new experiences bring. I remember being here as a child, and more memories come flooding. Such joy in little things.

Sometimes it is strange being with people who know me already from my blog, they know my most personal thoughts and have their own ideas of who I am. But I never am who they think I am. People expect someone serious and insightful, but in reality I am so silly and goofy. Constantly making bad jokes and being childish. I am just real, no more special than anyone else. This time is all a haze now but as my mind wanders backwards I grasp at feelings and they fill me again. The painful memories feel the strongest, but each time I remember the pain is less, and eventually it is just a dull ache in the pit of my stomach. I've met some incredible people this past year.

 A year can change so many things. So much is different. So much has changed. I leave for Spain in a day or two, and I'm so glad.  I have all this free time that for the first time in a long time I am not sure what to do with . I already miss having something to work towards.  I know Spain will distract me. Memories hit me hard and I've not even arrived yet. I have spent a lot of time there, a lot of things have happened. The memories crowd my head as I make sure I've packed everything. My mum reminds me to pack sun lotion and I remind her that when she booked the flight she booked hand-luggage for me, so I couldn't possibly take such a large bottle with me. She sighs and I tell her I will buy it when I'm out there, and remind her that it would be a miracle for me not to come back any paler.  I reassure her by pointing out my pale face in all our holiday photos. She smiles, and offers to check my case. I let her, because I know she'll do it anyway, and she is a much neater packer than I'll ever be.

I am seventeen years old today. I have lived for seventeen orbits around the sun, and exactly 6,205 days. Isn't it strange? For me being seventeen seems quite old, but to the rest of the world I'm still so young. I feel like a slightly different person already. Do you ever feel like that? I put on my uniform (I'm still young enough to have to go to school on my birthday!) and suddenly it doesn't seem to fit quite the same as it did yesterday. Yet I realise this is the last birthday I'll ever have in high school. By this time next year I'll have left school. One more year. Sometimes when I think about that I cannot wait, but sometimes, like today, it makes me quite nostalgic. Usually we're not aware when we do something that we are doing it for the very last time, but I am so aware of this today. I am so aware that this probably also the last time I'll have all my family surrounding me when I wake up a year older, and I'm so grateful that wedding preparations have brought us all together again. I am grateful to have been here for seventeen years. Today will be an emotional day.




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