Tuesday, 21 May 2013

My Story as a Paramour of Paramore

As a topic and portion of my personality that I had always wished to discuss, I deemed tonight an appropriate night to write about my saviour. That of course would be music. But this post is not for every song that has ever helped me, no. It is for the one band I could always rely on to produce a song to match my every emotion; to calm the storm of distress that was continuously stirring within me. The band members – Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, Taylor York. The band – Paramore.

I was introduced to the music of Paramore towards the end of my first year in secondary school. At this point, Paramore had two albums released, ‘All We Know Is Falling’ and ‘Riot’. Not that this meant anything to me back then. They were just another band that the emo girls in my class listened to. That all changed drastically when I was obliged to open my narrow mind to the world of guitar riffs and heavy drums. All preconceived perceptions I had disintegrated on hearing the melodic, circus-like opening of “Misery Business” on the Riot album. I was dumbstruck. The strength and power of the voice of this woman was impermeable and captivating. I found myself needing to hear more. I bought Riot that night.

A few months later came the release of the first single from the album Brand New Eyes. The intro of “Ignorance” is one that gives me goose bumps to this day. Within hours I was a recluse, spending every waking hour with my newfound idols blaring through my being. Earphones became a permanent resident in my earlobes, maximising my ability to process each note that played so beautifully, over and over. There is no other way to describe it – I was hooked. I had to witness these lyrical masterpieces live. And so I bought tickets to their Brand New Eyes tour date in Dublin, on the 6th November 2010. I was ecstatic. That was until I found out the morning of the show that I would not be able to attend. I was at a soccer tournament that weekend and although we were staying a mere hour away from Dublin, my managers refused to allow me to leave. I was inconsolable. How could they be so heartless and ignorant to my childhood dreams of seeing my heroes?

I was in 3rd year of school at the time and had been going through a rather tough period, with bullying and isolation taking centre stage. In a bid to prevent any further anguish, my mom promised she would take me to Manchester a few weeks later to see them. MANCHESTER?! Did she really just say that? I continued to cry hysterically as I was unable to control so many emotions at the one time.

My poster. Why did I photograph one side?  I don't know.

Before I could say “For a Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic” I was at the front barrier of the MEN Arena, anticipating the arrival of Paramore. Throughout the show I sang, I screamed, I cried, I gave a poster to Hayley, I cried, I got mushed up against the barrier, and I cried. Did I mention I cried? It was the best night of my life. All the worries of my life at home were non-existent for the duration of the show. It’s truly amazing the impact one band can have on a person’s life and I don’t think they even realise it. But that’s just them – completely grounded and humble, and a great example of how far perseverance, hard work and a “spark” can get you.

Paramore have changed thousands upon thousands of peoples’ lives, including my own. At times when not even hope could prevail, Paramore pulled through and saved me. They are my inspiration, my heroes, and the reason I survived the ordeals I went through. Behind closed doors you are alone. No-one can help you but yourself. But I was never alone because the music of this band never failed to impact me. Whether their lyrics made me smile or cry is irrelevant; they always made me feel something, and that is so crucial in times of complete despair. I owe these people so much, perhaps even my life, and they may never know that. Would I still be here without their music? It’s debatable, but I wouldn’t ever take that chance.

In just over four months I will be attending my second Paramore gig, this time in Dublin. Not only that, I will be attending it with my girlfriend who has also been impacted greatly by the music and presence of Paramore in our lives. I have never anticipated September so much in my life.

If I ever got the opportunity to meet Taylor, Hayley or Jeremy I would use that time (provided I didn’t pass out) to let them know how thankful I am for producing such awe-inspiring songs and for staying strong during their toughest hours as a group.

Paramore is not just a name of a band to me anymore. It represents a group of people who have saved my sanity and changed my life completely. For that, I am ever grateful.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

To the First Years of '08

I can still remember the words of a teacher in my first year of secondary school – “Girls, the next five years are going to fly. Just ask the current Leaving Certs”. Wow, they really have. With that memory still fresh on my mind, it’s hard to look around this room knowing that in a few weeks the people I have grown up with will also be a memory. My nightmare of a year are the present Leaving Certs. Yes, we were a nightmare. From throwing shoes into the lake at Ross Castle to making student teachers cry, and even pouring boiling hot Pot Noodles over each other. Oh, the memories. Unfortunately my decision to part ways with these wonderful beings at the end of 3rd year has left a rigid wall between my year and I. In fact, I’m not even in the position to call them “my year” anymore, which is quite a punch in the chest I must admit. Nevertheless I am writing this for the majority of you whom I will at least miss walking past in the corridors.

Actually, it’s possibly more accurate to say that this is predominantly for those of you who have impacted my life in some way, shape or form. Seeing as I cannot name anyone directly, I will leave it up to you to decipher which paragraph is about whom, and so on. For the purpose of this post (and my own sadistic enjoyment) I will write paragraphs per person for those of you have impacted me the most, for good or for bad reasons. Let the guessing game begin.

Your laughter can brighten up anyone’s day, while deafening them at the same time. Your personality is like gold and your strength is beyond me. We grew apart for unfortunate reasons but I will always smile when I see photos of the good times we had.

Once upon a time you terrified me. In fact, you still make my bones tingle with fear on occasion. But I admire that about you, oddly enough. You do and say anything you please and people respect you for that. I respect you for that. We had a few run-ins and you were out of line. But that’s you – love or hate, all or nothing. Your attitude is hilarious, as is your humour. Your presence will be missed, now and again.

Our relationship, if you could even call it that, was one that was so strange I am yet to fathom how it actually came about. I did trust you, I genuinely did. You knew a hell of a lot about me, more than most of my closest friends at the time. I was horrible to you. I really am sorry for that. You didn’t deserve to endure the treatment I gave you. I’m glad you’ve been able to forgive me and I’m so glad you’ve become the person you are today.

Personally, I’ve dreaded writing this paragraph because to keep it to just a paragraph is impossible. I could write a whole book about us. You will, in my mind and heart, always be the one person that stands out of the crowd of blurred faces when I think back on my years in secondary school. Gone but never, ever forgotten.

We’ve always gotten along very well, haven’t we? There’s something about our humour that just clicks when we’re together. You’re one of the few people I still like and have respect for from my old group of friends. You’re going to do a brilliant Leaving, I’d put money on it. I think my fondness of you has been recognised so even when you’re long gone, a relationship with one of your kind will still remain.

You disgust me. You’re whole demeanour is revolting. You try too hard and for what? Status? Boys? Popularity? In my opinion you have none of those. And you’re not the easiest on the eyes either, God love you.

Can I just say, you’re amazing. Literally you are one of the nicest, most genuine people I know. I love your personality. I love spending time with you. I love that you are one of the few people that understand and can handle my sarcastic nature. I really believe you are a diamond in the rough and you don’t even know it. I’m going to miss you more than almost everyone else, please believe it. I love you.

I dislike you so much that I refuse to give you a full paragraph, though I most certainly could. You miserable bitch.

I have known you for so long that I have become immune to your annoyingness.  That’s a lie. Your personality can penetrate any material. Yes I just referenced your personality to a penis and a condom. But hey, that’s our relationship. Serious conversations don’t exist with you 97% of the time and when they do, you go all crazy-ass on me, which is quite an enjoyable experience. I love you and I hate you. I’ll miss you, perhaps.

You were never a friend. I disliked you from the moment I laid eyes on you. I never could have imagined the amount of anguish you would end up causing me, especially in such an indirect manner. I got my revenge. Very immature revenge but revenge nonetheless. You have always reminded me of a Warner Bros. character actually. I greatly anticipate your departure from my life.

You are one strange girl. I fear there is something about you that I have never understood, nor will I ever get the chance to try to understand again. At one time you were everything to me. Then you were nothing but a reminder of regrets. Now, finally, you are someone I can have a normal conversation with, without getting nervous or trying too hard. You are the foundation on which my writing has grown and for that I am ever grateful. I never imagined saying goodbye to you would have become this easy but I can only see it as a positive that it has. You deserve happiness and I hope that smile of yours continues to light up peoples’ lives just as it did to mine.

You have been the dark horse this year in terms of who I have grown close to. You never fail to make me laugh. The atmosphere your presence creates is one that no-one else could ever compete with. I am going to miss you very much but I know there’ll be no getting rid of you over summer. Something I look forward to very much.

Oh my days, where do I begin with you. The memories I have of us are insane. Who does that stuff in school?! It’s a pity we grew apart. When I think back on all the stupid shit I did as a teenager I’m sure the majority of them will involve you. You were a good friend at times. The distance between us has probably been for the best.

There’s no easy way of saying this so I might as well get straight to it. I hate you. When I see you my stomach turns and I have to look away. I treated you like one of the Royals and I am deeply ashamed of that. You deserved no apology that day. What you said to me I will never forget. I have forgiven you, yes, though I cease to understand why or how. I shan’t waste anymore ink on you.

So that’s it. Job done. Finito. I have little else to say about you all. In total honesty, I dislike a lot more of you than I have included but if I was to write a paragraph on each of you, I would be repeating myself. Thank you all for contributing unknowingly and unwillingly to the creation of this post. Five years has finally been worth something, eh?

Friday, 3 May 2013

We Are All a Wreck

The inspiration for this post was ignited quite some time ago. However, tiny sparks have been catching and holding my attention lately and I have been unsuccessful in brushing them aside. A movement, a conversation, an uneasy look – that’s all it took to provoke this writing session. Something that may be deemed small to others has become the nucleus of my thoughts these days.

We hear so often of people whose personalities are overshadowed by their brash egos and their audacious arrogance. We find them intolerable. Out of sight does not always mean out of mind for these painstakingly infectious louts. My knowledge of physics is not the most in-depth, but is there not some law along the lines of “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”? Don’t quote me on that, it is based on unreliable Transition Year recollection. But couldn’t that law also be said about us humans? If there are people who are simply submerged in this impudence surely there are those who are equally as submerged in insecurity and self-consciousness. So when are these individuals ever the topic of discussion?

Unfortunately, many of us experience these feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth due to our own personal ordeals which we may not be comfortable discussing or sharing with others. I’m not suggesting all case of low self-esteem arise from a past experience; many people feel this way for a number of reasons, some of which may not be possible to explain. One thing I’m positive of is that each of us, no matter who we are, has been in situations where we have felt doubtful and unsure of ourselves. Not even Cristiano Ronaldo is perfect all the time. Most of the time, but not all of the time.

The effects that those personal insecurities have on us can be devastating and extremely degrading. The worst part, though, may be that the majority of people closest to you may not even be aware of your fragile state. Sadly, people with low self-regard are both vulnerable and isolated in the most drastic of ways. For example, they may feel reluctant to engage in conversation if there is even one dominant voice to be heard. Similarly, they may find it difficult or even impossible to express themselves in the manner in which they had hoped to if they feel they may not be accepted for who they are.

Confidence is vital, especially during teenage years. However, real confidence is a rarity for most. By ‘real’ I mean the kind of confidence where a person’s opinion would be easily disregarded, even if it was that of Mr Simon Cowell.

My own encounters with these feelings were never too severe, though my memory may possibly be jaded. Yes I have been in situations where I was lacking in confidence. Yes I have felt isolated beyond what I imagined possible. But these brief encounters have been, as the adjective suggested, brief. By that I mean none have ever lasted longer than two years, give or take a few months. This may seem like a long time, but it is nothing compared to those who have battled those demons for the entirety of their lives.

It is a never-ending struggle between what one knows and what one believes. A person knows their own strengths. They know their talents. They know better than anyone the potential they have to be successful in life, whatever that may incorporate. And therein lies the problem. Society has us all brainwashed into believing that only a certain type of person can be successful in life. Those that play the piano and aspire to be surgeons, they are the people that will succeed in life. What utter bullshit.

Now that may be easy for me to say, but what about those whose confidence may not be as disposable as mine. They have no reason to believe any form of praise or commendation they receive because in their eyes, they are never worthy of it. Is it really okay for these people to live their lives in the shadow of who they could have been? Of course it’s not. But is there even a way of combatting this issue? I believe so. I may not have the answers but at least I am aware that there is a problem and that there should be help available for those that need it.

Can I just put it out there, a meeting twice a year with the guidance counsellor in school is by no means sufficient personal support within an institution. Firstly, no-one wants to pour their heart out to someone one day and then have to discuss career options with that same person the next. That’s not right and students shouldn’t be expected to do that. In my opinion, it should be made compulsory for schools to employ a personal counsellor in addition to having a guidance counsellor. Young people, especially in today’s society, need that option available to them at all times. I was blessed in that the one year that I needed professional help my school had a full-time counsellor. That should not be a blessing, it should be a standard.

This post has taken over a month to put together. Not because of its contents or how deeply I thought about what to say, no. Simply because I found it so hard to write about something I hadn’t fully experienced myself. This is mostly based on my observations of the people around me. This was for the people whose voices are permanently on mute. So if you haven’t been affected by this and have read it with ease, be grateful. Others aren’t that lucky.