Did My GCSE Choices Matter?

Recently I was talking to my younger cousin about what he’s taking at school for his GCSE’s. He rattled off, Geography, Resistant Materials, Business Studies…and one more I’ve forgotten, whoops. Anyway, it got me thinking about my own GCSEs, this summer it will have been 7 years since I left school (which makes me feel a little sick because, um, when did I get old?!) and I’ve never been asked for a job what I did at GCSE.

For the record, I didn’t pick the most academic subjects and by that I mean I didn’t pick any academic subjects. My choice GCSEs were Music, Drama, Art and Textiles, see not one on that list they were all creative and looking back on my emotional, misunderstood self, that makes a lot of sense. Also to me as a very creative adult that makes a lot of sense. Anyway, I’m rambling and getting away from the point. So, I’ve been wondering if what you choose at GCSE makes any difference to your life at all. I don’t think it did to mine.

Now, I know some people will be thinking about jobs like Doctors or Vets in which university admissions basically want you to know that’s what you want to do when you come out of the womb (which is total bullshit, but that’s another post entirely). I get that BUT for the majority of jobs what you choose when you’re full of hormones and spots doesn’t make a huge impact on your adult choices, you can retrain later, you can change your mind. Hell, the job I do now didn’t exist when I was making my choices.

 

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The day I picked up my GCSE results

I got good results, I went on to study at college (enough to add an extra course later on) and then got into university but do you know what? I’ve only been asked once to provide a certificate for my grades, I didn’t get to the interview but that’s one time. I’ve never been asked what I studied at GCSE, it’s never had an impact on my future.

So, did it matter? No, I don’t think it did and I don’t think it does for most people. I don’t think we should put pressure on these kids who make a decision at 14 years old about what they like. Introduce me to one person who still agrees and believes everything they did at that age. I’ve changed since that age, I’ve changed since last year!

What did you take for your GCSEs, do you think it impacted your life? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Review: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children – Kirstin Cronn-Mills

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‘This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. 

I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show.’ 

Gabe is not your typical teenage boy, his best friend is a girl,

when he’s not hanging out with her he’s at his neighbours house listening to original LPs and learning the radio tricks of the trade from an old man. Oh and Gabe was born Elizabeth, which I wouldn’t mention apart from it plays a big part in the story. Like many of us Gabe finds a love in music that can rival no other, well apart from a certain someone, but I’ll leave you to get to that yourself.

The intriguing name and bright cover is what initially drew me to this book, but I got so much more. Not only do you get a wealth of music knowledge from reading this novel but you also get a character to fall in love with, I felt so much for Gabe and almost cried at points while reading. Gabe describes himself as being ‘like a record’ he has an A side and a B side, one side is Elizabeth which is who everyone else considers him to be and the B side is Gabe, who he is truly happy to be. While the world is fighting for him to be Elizabeth, there’s a another crowd who is more than happy to have Gabe around. Gabe’s saving grace comes through a radio show that he hosts, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. 

It was really refreshing in this novel to have both sides of what being Transgender means. While some people are not supportive and as the blurb says think Gabe is ‘crazy’ there are also many people who couldn’t care less about Gabe’s transition and just see him as a great DJ. I don’t know about you but those are the kinds of people I’d rather be around. Cronn-Mills has done a great job in exploring a sensitive topic and trying to go down many avenues.

I think the real gold lies with the A-Side, B-Side idea within the novel. Cronn-Mills has found a way to connect everyone with Gabe, even if they aren’t going through transition. It’s the idea that everyone has two sides to them  one they want to show to the world and one the world sees. This is the beauty of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children with just a voice on a radio station everyone is the same and I really wish life was like that. I also adored the characters of Paige and John. They’re completely different but their support for Gabe is incredible.

I’m going to give this novel 5 stars *****, it’s absolutely incredible. Gabe is an incredible character that I dare you not to love. I also appreciated that Gabe and the people around him were flawed in different ways, it made the story a lot more believable and realistic to me as a reader. I’m really looking forward to reading some of Cronn – Mills other works as she really does have a talent in creating her characters.

Review by Chloe Metzger

Who’s that girl?

Who’s that girl I see looking at me from a magazine? She’s perfect, she has flawless skin, bright eyes and not a hair out of place, she’s thin, there are no hips, no cellulite, although despite her skinny frame her breasts are fantastic. She’s not real. Tonight I spent a good amount of time watching the above and this afternoon I was reading my normal monthly set of women’s magazines.

Now I’m not going to use this article to bash women’s magazines because I know some who really do support women, although I can’t claim to understand some of the articles. I do have a problem with advertising, because it promotes an image that none of us can achieve. I’ve said many times on this blog that I’m not always happy with my body, especially as of late. I fractured my spine, I put on some weight and I wish I could say so what but I’m surrounded by images of thin and beautiful women.

I’m not saying we ban an idea of beauty, I mean who hasn’t used a good filter on Instagram? Or been happy with a little touch up here and there? Of course we do. I also want you to think about any time you’ve felt a little bit sad looking at pictures or thought I wish I looked like that, because I know that as an impressionable teenager I had these fleeting thoughts but they wouldn’t damage me right? Wrong. In part these images added to my feelings of self consciousness and comparing myself to other women.

In the video about I heard about young women who took on teen magazines to limit the use of photoshop. This gives me so much joy and hope. At that age you don’t always know that these images aren’t real, that you can’t look like that. I remember posing like Paris Hilton (I was a young teenager, and it was the early 2000s, give me a break) in a holiday snap to try and look thinner…I wasn’t fat to begin with. Children and young people are very impressionable, especially as you hit the teenage years your body is doing things you have no control over, your spotty or greasy or whatever.

Now for most of us who are bullied and teased we grow up and shed that awkwardness, even just a little, but at the same time we didn’t have the glare of social media. I just want to educate young girls that this isn’t real and at the same time. I want the media to stop sexualising everything they can, to not cut a model like a pumpkin, carving what they want out of you.

Just preparing for a project I’m going to do and looking at the words used in women’s magazines and they’re almost as responsible as the pictures. I want to do something positive. I want to shout it for the roof tops as I remind my little sister that she is the most naturally beautiful person I know and my little cousin that just because we’re a different shape to my sister doesn’t mean were not beautiful too. I want to make people not feel ashamed to wear makeup or want to get fitter but to know that there are so many different types of perfect and not just the models in a magazine.

Book Review: The Baby- Lisa Drakeford

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1 party, 5 friends, 1 unexpected guest.

Imagine you’re in the middle of your 17th birthday party, drinks are flowing and your having a great time when you realise you haven’t seen your best friend in a while. You’re not ready for what you find. Your friend is on your bathroom floor about to give birth to a baby you know nothing about, and apparently neither did she. Olivia’s head is spinning as she has to help her best friend Nicola deliver the baby. Little does she know this baby will blow their friendship group apart. This is the start of Lisa Drakeford’s novel The Baby. The book is divided into five sections, one for each of the main characters Olivia,  her best friend Nicola, her controlling boyfriend Jonty, her gay friend Ben and her little sister Alice. We see the aftermath through each of their eyes, but all isn’t as it seems.

I’m always interested in books that focus on teenage parents and have been for as long as I can remember. As someone who stood by their best friend as they had a child at the age of 17, I was intrigued to see what Drakeford would do with her characters. It’s easy to assume that a child changes things, but I feel like there was almost too many issues with the characters and not enough novel. There are complex relationships within the group, Olivia is struggling in a controlling relationship with Jonty, Jonty hates Ben for his closeness to Olivia. The only character that isn’t involved with the group, but in my opinion has the best chapter, is Olivia’s sister Alice. Alice has no friends of her own but observes everything around her and loves helping out with Nicola’s baby at any given moment. She’s just the strange little sister but through her eyes you see more than through any other, she was my favourite character by far. As for Olivia, I felt like she was a kind of punch bag throughout the whole story and I really struggled to like her. I would have like to have seen more of Nicola and how she copes with her daughter and more of Jonty’s backstory, that was something I really enjoyed and made him a much more relatable character.

There is a big twist towards the end of the novel, which I couldn’t stand. It kind of derails the entire plot up to that point and then adds a real question mark to the end of the novel. After reading 200 pages I was beyond angry and frustrated at the twist, I’m pretty sure it’s a love or hate scenario, there will definitely be people who recommend the book to their friend on the basis of the ending, although I’m not a fan.

I’m giving this book two stars **. I really wanted to enjoy it but there really are too many issues in one short book for me to enjoy. I think that the biggest reason for my low rating is the twist at the end, it kind of ruined it for me. It isn’t that I completely loved the book throughout, but I did struggle with having positive feelings about it at the end.

Review by Chloe Metzger

Evening thoughts

I want to write every day. I’m not as good at it as I used to be, partially because I spend time outside doing things rather than staring at the same four walls nearly every night. I don’t know how I feel right now. I don’t feel great but at the same time I don’t feel depressed, just deep in thought about anything and everything. Ok that’s not strictly true, I’ve thought a lot about depression tonight.

I can’t go into detail, nor would I want to, but hearing about a young girl who is being bullied and even slightly thinks about ending her life isn’t ok with me. Ok so she might not be serious about it, but you never know. My sister’s at an age now where a lot of her friends have issues, at the age where people are very likely to develop things like depression, self harm and eating disorders. Being a teenager is so confusing and worrying and really bloody stressful.

It’s known on this blog that I have depression but I suppose on here I don’t go into detail about some of my history, it doesn’t hurt any more but I guess I want this to be a positive blog and well, it’s a very long and negativemy part of  past. I had Ali who I’m sure already knows how important he was to me in helping me carry on in some of the worst times. I still have times when I completely break down, where I scream and I can’t breathe and everything just gets a little too much… He picks me up and let’s me cry until I’m ready to talk about it.

It’s not just Ali that have seen these meltdowns (which used to be a lot more frequent), my family did and I worry the most about my sister. I wonder how she would have turned out if she hadn’t experienced me being so ill and I think that’s the hardest thing to face, that she was so young when I was so ill. I have to say though I’m so proud of her, she’s growing up to be an amazing person, she’s caring and intelligent and knows she can talk to me about what’s going on with her or her friends.

The older she gets the more she’s exposed to and that terrifies me. I wish I could just wrap her up and run so she doesn’t have to know about how hard people hurt sometimes and what can come of it. I’m as honest as I can be with her, she’s still only young, and I answer any questions she has best as I can. My main thing is that I want her to be happy and to be ok, I never want her to hurt like I did. I know my family are great, she’s in good hands but I don’t know it’s a sisterly protection thing I think. She has our parents and family but it’s like I need to know she’s ok, I need to know when she’s sad and how to help. We’ve got a good relationship, great even, and I couldn’t live without her, when I moved I think she was the person I was most worried about leaving home and part of that was out of fear and panic, all I could think is What if she turns out like me? Like in some way I’d be responsible and yes to a point I do panic that her seeing me the way I was is going to affect her in some way.

It’s not only her it’s my family, Ali. When you’re really ill you just feel guilt all the time and the better I get the easier it gets to not blame myself, to actually believe that I was ill, not horrible. I was difficult and upset, but to them all I’m eternally grateful. I like to think that with every little triumph for me my family are there with me and now the friends who I’m opening up around.

So there are my thoughts for tonight. I don’t know if they make sense, I don’t care about the grammar, the punctuation. Sometimes you just need have to write.