The Last 10 Years

'The Universe was telling you you cannot bring this into the next decade.'

2010 - 17/18 years old

The decade begins at Holy Trinity Sixth form in Crawley. I'm obsessed with 'indie music' and Florence and the Machine and Skins and sneaking into gigs with my friend Sophie. I discover the concept of posting online for entertainment and expression and make some pretty embarrassing moves, including a Youtube channel that people at school find and I have to quickly delete. I do a student exchange in Sweden and believe I'm truly in love with this Swedish boy named Arnes because he calls me Hermione in a terrible cockney accent. I begin to discover my first individual interests, wearing secondhand clothes, dying my hair and acting like the books I read and movies I watch, and I get called 'pretentious' a lot which is absolutely totally fair.

My best friend Harriet and I just spend our time in the library working on this fantasy novel we were sure we'd one day get published. She comes on holiday with my family, and we later go to Reading Festival with other pals and it's pure joy. We get invited to an Oxford open day for English Lit and it fully goes to my head, believing that's where I'm destined to go for Uni. I pass my driving test and the world becomes my oyster. I make quite a few bad choices with boys, including majorly crushing on a well-educated sensible boy named Mitch, who breaks my heart with his rejection because of the aforementioned choices. But toward the end of the year I meet a boy named Shaun and have my first proper relationship. Although he has a tendency to be cruel, I willingly overlook it because I believe I'm in love. I'm cast as the lead in a play and spend months rehearsing. Opening night, just before I'm about to go on stage I find out our beloved Stepfather is going to leave my Mother.

2011 - 18/19 years old

For some reason I decide to audition for X Factor without telling anyone and get through a few rounds before being told I was 'too boring'. It was the year that went on to spawn Little Mix. I spend a lot of time driving Shaun and his bandmates to practices and gigs, mostly in Brighton. After realising things are not right, I try my hardest to end it with Shaun, but he does dramatic gestures like turn up at my work with a huge bunch of flowers in front of everyone, or rip up the carpet in his spare room and paint a lover letter to me on the floorboards. I go to the doctors and they tell me I'm depressed, and Shaun shouts at me asking if I expect him to apologise for it. One day his best friend Matt takes me to one side and says he hates seeing the way he treats me. The situation at school gets very bad, and I end up running away from our Senior Prom in tears and straight into Matt's arms, thus beginning an incredibly dramatic teenage love triangle that consumes my whole summer.

I escape to my Aunt's house in the countryside to go off-grid and try and study for my exams, but it's too late. I fuck up my A Levels and end up going into clearing, accepting a place at The University of Hertfordshire to study English Language with minors in Journalism and Media Cultures, without realising it was essentially a major in speech therapy. I leave town for the first time and I'm absolutely terrified. I end up in a house with five strangers, but it ends up being such a blessing. They end up completely revolutionising my life in the best and worst ways, and we become an inseparable unit. After all the drama, I let myself get completely swept up in a new world and a fresh start, becoming someone quite far removed from who I am, but I'm fine with it. A lot of drinking and clubbing every night. The most brilliant of all distractions. I feel invincible. We are all in love. I get a tattoo to commemorate the feeling of being saved by the most unexpected of situations, when you'd thought all hope was truly lost. I say from here on out I'll always remind myself of this feeling, when times get tough. Spoiler alert: I do not remember to do this, ever.

2012 - 19/20 years old

It's weird what can feel like a dream when everything else seems to have been a nightmare. First year of uni is just a blur of nights out, a million faces and trying to drag myself to learn about teaching sign language to apes. Kony 2012 is a big deal. The absolute pinnacle of first year is going to Salou Fest, a 'sports' competition of just horrific amounts of drinking and being terrible people. I get kicked out of Pacha Barcelona for running on stage during Pendulum. We leave our beloved first year house and I return home for summer. I realise how weird and different I'd become at Uni from just wanting to fit in and not go through all the shit I'd gone through at school all over again. But it's that summer that I meet Flossie for the first time by accident, and a friendship for the ages is formed. The first few times we hang out has the fever pitch of first dates, we're just both so excited to know each other. It's the summer of the Olympics and I win tickets and watch the cycling with my mother and go to the closing ceremony of the Paralympics with Sophie, where we randomly bump into Mitch. I ending up having a strange fling with a semi-famous comedian after sliding into his DM's, who after treating me pretty inappropriately considering I'm still a teenager, goes on to win a hit reality show and write a best-selling book about being a hopeless romantic. I reunite with one of my oldest friends Harry and we spend the summer going to the pool and promising each other we're going to achieve amazing things when we're older.

At the end of summer I return to Uni invigorated and change my course, moving into a new house with the same people. They're wary of my apparent transformation, but kind of accept it. On the first night I meet three friends who'd returned from a study abroad year, and my housemate from then on refers to them as 'the interesting boys', a dumb name that sticks. They're Simon, James and Elliot, the latter of which is tall and mysterious and immaculately dressed and I unsurprisingly fall for instantly. The world doesn't end, but our house gets robbed and a load of my shit gets stolen. I meet Pete properly and we fall madly in loathe and become best friends and arch nemeses. In the last few days of 2012 between Christmas and New Year when it seems only Pete and I remain in town, with him sat next to me and a fire in my heart stoked by the summer, I decide to start a blog called 'Scarphelia'.

2013 - 20/21 years old

The first half of 2013 is completely ruled by Pete and the interesting boys. I go to Poland with them and their friends for Simon's birthday and it's trashy and great. So many drunken house parties. James takes me to Oxford University to hang out with his brother studying Maths, and a small part of me laughs I ever thought I could've made it here. I deeply pine for Elliot for months. Elliot has a girlfriend. I teach myself to play ukulele and randomly get tens of thousands of views on youtube uploading covers and I get ripped for it, but Elliot secretly tells me he's impressed. I become senior captain and social sec of the cheerleading squad and get very into it. The coaches make me a spirit stick and everything. We win second prize in a competition and I truly believe I'm in Bring It On. I tackle Uni with an enthusiasm that doesn't last, but end up finding the closest thing to a friend on my film course, an American transfer student named Ben. We just get stoned and watch American Horror Story together, and make a truly terrible 'horror' film in the woods. I sit in on Pete's philosophy lectures for fun, but more so because he's in the same class as Elliot. One drunken night at their place Elliot grabs me and kisses me passionately and I melt. We spend the night together. Elliot still has a girlfriend. By the spring, the interesting boys graduate and have to leave town and it breaks my fucking heart. I'm deeply at a loss without Elliot, yet feel simultaneously relieved to be free from under his spell.

Pete introduces me to his brother and his London friends and I begin an internship at a online fashion boutique in London. Pete organises a huge group of us to go to Glastonbury which I go to for the first time ever aged 20, and it blows my fucking mind out of the water. This is where I met Pete's brother's friend, James K. We do a lot of drugs and stay up all night to watch the sunrise on the last night at the stone circle. Nothing happens but a very spaced out lady tells us she sees great love between us. Thus begins the most important relationship of my entire life. James is everything. We go on dates around London and he shows me the world. It's around this time that I begin to discover the blogging 'community', and my blog begins to gain traction. Thanks in large part to the life that James was allowing me to live, a fact I was shamefully naive to. By this point my enthusiasm for uni and cheerleading and all that life is over, and it doesn't go down well. I move into a flat with the girls I'd lived with previously but it's a sour move, as we've barely spoken all summer. It's awkward as hell and I just try to steer clear.

On my 21st birthday I go up the Shard with my mum and my sister and I genuinely believe I am a grown ass woman as I look out on London, and believe that I am here to do something now, not just here to stop by. James organises a surprise treasure hunt around our first date spots for my 21st birthday, and when I finally find him at the end of the hunt I burst into tears of joy for the first time in my life. Around this time I receive a message on fb asking if I'd be interested in joining a band at uni, as a vocalist. I jump at the chance and meet with the group of music students who'd sent it. I don't think much of them when we first meet, and it turns out they didn't think much of me either. But fast forward a few weeks and we've become the absolute best of friends, and it turns out they'd become some of the most important people I would ever meet. One of them being Greg.

2014 - 21/22 years old

As my blog continues to grow, I start going to a lot more London events, meeting with other bloggers and agencies and living the 'luxe life'. But I also start to lose grip on reality and get completely immersed in this world where I am the author and everything that happens is to serve me or teach me. Living with the girls is very uncomfortable, and I spend pretty much all my time at band house with Greg and the boys. Greg and I instantly bond and almost immediately want to start our own side project. Pete moves to Amsterdam for a year, and he jokes that I've already found his replacement. James begins to be cagy about Greg, and tells me to be careful with him. I don't like it. I begin to work with a company called Gatherly. I go to their offices to discuss working together and out of the blue I feel a spark with an Aussie guy named Ben which throws me hugely. Flossie and I go to New York for the first time in spring, and Gatherly loan me a camera to test out and shoot a video diary with. NYC with your best friend at 21 feels a life-changing experience, but highlights a rift growing between James and I, having such different lives and being in such different places. We end up having a spectacularly messy and painful split in Kings Cross station after I get back from New York, where we decide to go on a break.

During this time, I play my first ever gigs with the band, and also the acoustic project Greg and I formed which we name 'Ambler'. Pete returns for summer and we go to Glastonbury again, and I try not to think too much about how I met James here the summer before. In late summer I finally leave the oppressive flat and into a lovely house with a guy Calum I knew through a friend of a friend, and his pal Dougie who are amateur youtbers and improv comedians and simply a joy to live with. Just before my birthday my blog hits 1 million hits. Greg and I play a few gigs as Ambler and somehow get invited to play live on air for BBC Introducing. I get shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards and sign a deal to be a brand ambassador for H&M. Tigi offers to dye my hair and I go bright red. I get invited to Fashion Week and it's a hilarious mess. I get invited to the Gleam halloween party. Everything in my life feels the most exciting and prosperous, but at the same time I'm also slowly derailing by my own hand. By the end of summer James and I get back in touch and start seeing each other again. We go to Paris at Christmas.

2015 - 22/23 years old

With my focus being solely distracted by my blog and invested in social media, I get really behind on uni work, and my mental health deteriorates a lot. I go on anti-depressants for the first time, and my lecturer marches me to sign up for therapy when it's clear I've fucked my whole uni experience. James and I fall apart again, in large part to me being so out of control. I decide to drop out of Uni after four years. My parents take it very badly, but ultimately come to forgive me and things start to look up. Greg and I travel to Iceland to watch the solar eclipse and a lady hands us these rune stones etched with the norse sun god and we immediately go and get the symbol tattooed on us, promising one another to always do cool things for the rest of our lives. In Iceland we meet the girl Pete would end up marrying and starting a family with, but we didn't know it then.

After leaving Uni everything feels a little lighter, and the spring is full of car boot sales and driving around looking for adventures. Greg and I decide to leave Ambler behind and focus on a new project, a heavy rock band. The end of the year comes and it's time for everyone to graduate. In June, Greg and the band boys move to Virginia to work in a theme park, and I move to NYC to begin life volunteering on the renovation of an 108 year-old immigrant ferry in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It stands to be the maddest thing I'd ever do. New York is impossibly brilliant, but the work is brutal and the owner of the boat is an evil, terrifying woman. I discover loneliness and discipline I never knew I had. I share a bunkbed with an NYU art student Chloe who changes my life completely, becoming one of the first people to prompt my perspective to deprogram from my self-imposed brainwash. Ikea becomes our holy land, and we dream of easy wifi and cinnamon rolls when the power cuts out every night. Greg and I keep in touch and send each other demos over the airwaves, writing songs for this new band.

Sat in a coffee shop one day I discover Matt from my teen years has got married and my whole world stops dead for just a moment before the beat passes and the city lurches into life again. I meet and fall head over heels for a guy aptly named Gregory who is unfortunately a pretty sleazy dude and ends up hurting my heart for weeks until he finally packs up and moves to LA. I have my first queer experience with Chloe's friend Anna, and it nearly ruins our friendship, but ultimately brings us closer. After 8 weeks, in a move of wild rebellion I flee the boat in the dead of the night as Greg does from the theme park, and he takes the Greyhound bus up the East Cost of America where Chloe and I meet him at Penn Station at the crack of dawn. He and I find our own apartment on Craigslist and move to Bushwick, lavishing in the full glory of a wild and ridiculous New York summer of rooftop parties, gigs and selling our art to be able to eat. We get tattoos alongside our Icelandic ones, a reminder to always keep the dream alive.

By the turn of autumn we have to leave and crash land back in the UK, with me moving back to my childhood home for first time since my teens. Greg very quickly moves to Brighton and gets a job, as per our plans. I turn vegetarian. An old friend from blogging puts me in touch with someone looking to hire a copywriter, and I find myself back in London, working in a professional corporate environment for a man named Kevin at a marketing start-up. It's a whirlwind I'm not used to, a far cry from the summer I'd just had. Greg and I continue writing for this new band. In a miraculous twist of destiny my mother and our beloved stepfather reunite and he returns to our family. Being back in London brings James and I back in contact once more, but it's a mistake. We go to Rome in the winter and it's beautiful and I'm grateful, but it's clear we're just like old friends. When we return we finally agree to call it a day for the last time.

2016 - 23/24 years old

Greg and I visit New York again in January to see Chloe but it's cold and unfamiliar and we find out on Greg's birthday that David Bowie has died. My dad takes my sister and I to Thailand and again, whilst I'm very grateful, it's a pretty surreal experience and I feel I'm not doing life right. I feel alone and very distant from myself. Working for Kevin I ghostwrite a book on the events industry and we have a book launch for it which I just feel weird about, never imagining that would be something I'd end up doing. I'm still living at my childhood home in Crawley whilst working in London, plus frequenting Brighton to hang with Greg and try to start a band, and feeling incredibly torn between the lot. I have no home, no base and no sense of community, and I feel directionless, lost and lonely. I'm invited on a trip to Lanzarote with a bunch of bloggers, which turns into a nightmare experience, and it's the final nail in the coffin for me when it comes to blogging. I can't take anymore and decide to finally quit blogging.

In May, Greg starts teaching me how to play the drums, and I begin to remember what's it like to look forward to something. In summer I start working at vintage shop Indie Rag at the weekends, and slowly begin to make a few friends. In September after months of trying I finally manage to find a place to live and move to Sillwood Road with three artists who shape me a lot, furthering this wave of metamorphosis in me, the seed of which was first planted by Chloe. James sends me one final card on my birthday and I cry walking along the beach reading it. I never hear from him again. I get pretty good at drums, and Greg and I start planning what our next steps will be. I start a scrapbook, determined to document every single step of our band journey. We play our first proper gig as our new band Sit Down in December, but it's marred by Greg hooking up with an old blogging pal of mine in my bed and I'm deeply hurt and traumatised by it. It's the first time he ever does something which hurts me. I'm happy to be finally in Brighton and that things are looking up, but I can feel depression creeping back in.

At the end of the year Ben from my old film course at uni invites me to come to LA. I'm nervous as we haven't really spoken in years and my mental health is in the gutter, but it's an offer I cannot refuse. It's both a stressful and revolutionary experience. He works at a movie studio and takes me to to a premier at The Bruin Theatre and I sit across the aisle from Danny DeVito. I meet Ben's best friend Jen, who only ends up being the boss of Gregory, the guy I'd been heartbroken for in New York who'd move to LA. I take a selfie with her and send it to him. We go to a club in Hollywood for New Years Eve, then Gregory sends a car to come fetch me. I spend the night with him and regret it, driving past a burning car on the highway that I probably should've taken as an omen. My first act of 2017 is going to CVS to get Plan B. I get fired from Indie Rag when my flight gets delayed upon my return.

2017 - 24/25 years old

I'm still working for Kevin but thinks aren't going well, and he suddenly has trouble paying me, and I don't have a job to fall back on. I randomly start talking to an artist named Kieran via instagram and we become very close for a number of months, even though we never actually meet. Things with Greg are still fraught and then he starts dating someone, cutting me off in the process which completely undoes me. Situation with Kevin gets worse and I end up in bad financial troubles from him not paying me, and have to quit on messy terms. I have a mental breakdown and a friend from Indie Rag, Millie, essentially saves my life and makes me call Samaritans because all I can think about is throwing myself in the sea.

I can't really afford to but I need to escape, and go to Dubrovnik with Flossie which is incredibly restorative. I go back on anti-depressants again, and work through some shit, getting a tattoo of the sun over the sea to remind myself that even after the longest night, the sun still rises. Things with Greg and the girl end. In early summer we go to Primavera with pals and all of a sudden Greg and I become a couple. I start working at Dirty Harry vintage store and meet Clio who is a very positive impact on me. She's one of the only people I know that's my age in Brighton, and she's fierce and strong and inspires me a lot. Greg and I start playing a whole load of gigs in Brighton and start to gig in London, and things start to really look up for the first time in a while. Ben comes to visit briefly and it's sweet.

During summer I notice one of the musicians I worshipped as a teen/at uni recruiting members for her new band. On a whim I DM her offering my rudimentary drum and vocal skills, meet up with her and in a mad twist end up joining RLT in Self Esteem, an entire whirlwind of dreams coming true. We spend weeks rehearsing with this other instagram recruit Kelli, having sleepovers, jamming, going out for dinners and drinks and meeting all these industry people. RLT becomes one of the only people I feel confident in confiding in about my issues with my sexuality/being bisexual in a straight relationship as she herself is queer, and it's the first time I voice concerns about myself in this  relationship. We bond, and I feel like I've truly gained a friend. Sit Down continues to go from strength to strength and we host the Neon Rodeo which feels like our first big statement as a band. Elliot reaches out to me completely out of the blue saying he's going to be in Brighton and asks me to meet him for a drink. He tries to hook up with me after all these years but I resist, however hard it is. I send him packing and it feels liberating. Then out of the blue RLT fires me and it tears me to bits. But I do my best to take it in my stride. I think Greg is secretly pleased.

2018 - 25/26 years old

Renewed focus on Sit Down and it feels like it's ramping up and up. Pete surprises me by turning up at one of our London shows, bring with him James from the interesting boys. It's quite an insane throwback. I quietly tell them about Elliot and they're not surprised. By chance we get selected to do a local BBC Introducing session on air, like all those years ago with Ambler. We self-release our first EP 'Cheap Luxe' and host an alien-themed gig The Roswell Rumble, to announce we'd actually be travelling to Roswell to shoot our debut music video. That summer we head out to LA to hang out with Ben, then fly to Albuquerque, hire a care and I drive us to Roswell and back in one day to film our music video for Mothership. I'm terrified of driving in America but it's actually okay. The drive back through the pitch black desert is a trippy headfuck. We spend the rest of the trip around LA dreaming of a future that feels so possible. We return home and support Drenge the day after, our biggest ever gig. RLT randomly pity-invites us to play her gig in Sheffield which is surprisingly fun and profitable, and we get to play Manchester too.

Greg moves into my room, which is a bold step, but suddenly we have a lot more money to spend making our dreams come true. I don't know if this is a wise move and I start having freakouts about my burgeoning queerness and our relationship, but I bury it deep down. In August we find out we've been selected to play Reading and Leeds on the BBC Introducing stages, and I have to pinch myself considering I only started learning drums two years prior. I buy a sewing machine and start to design and sew all our stage outfits from scratch. In October we open Dead!'s last ever gig, another 500 cap venue and we feel invincible, releasing two more songs. Clio leaves Dirty Harry and the place as good as falls apart, and I too depart without another job lined up which is a huge risk. Greg and I release a joke Christmas song and decide to start a whole host of bands under our fake Trashtown label. Beloved venue Sticky Mikes closes, the place where we had our first gig, and we play their final night.

2019 - 26/27 years old

We ring in the New Year in the French Alps on a ski trip with my family, where we film a music video for Teeth, the song we'd written about that time I'd been so depressed I just wanted to throw myself into the sea. After such a prosperous year it feels we have ever-increasing expectations to live up too, but it doesn't quite get the interest we'd hoped. We start to have concerns for the direction of the band. Being jobless begins to really nag at my mental health again as I struggle to find something when we come back. There's a strain on the two of us, creatively and relationship-wise. In February I finally get a job at a busy bar/venue and suddenly nothing is the same again. That's when I meet Jo, a queer non-binary person, and we quickly become very close friends. They manage to get me a job at their family friends' fabric shop to help me with my dressmaking. It's not long before Jo's influence takes over my entire life and the inevitable happens. I find myself in a horrifically painful situation. Jo tells me they want to be in a relationship with me, and I can't hide it from myself that my heart is there. My entire life implodes in on me and every day feels like a living hell. I cannot hide from this queerness anymore. I keep having to go and stay with my parents as they try and help me through this crisis, and I actually have to come out to them to explain it all. They're understanding and I'm incredibly lucky that they offer to pay for a few weeks of private therapy to begin immediately, as they can see I'm at rock bottom. Therapy helps, and one of the things that comes out of me is about failure. An incredibly poignant phrase comes out of me one session:

'I feel like ever since I was old enough to make my own choices, I've fucked everything up since and I'll never be able to escape that curse.'

Greg and I break up, and the band crumbles between us. We find out we have to vacate the house we're in, the house I've lived in my entire time in Brighton, and it seems a poignant coincidence. We find separate places, but they're on opposite sides of town from one another. Jo leaves work and becomes increasingly controlling and oppressive as I try and prevent my entire life from unravelling. Greg and I at least try and keep things civil, and we go to Glastonbury with my family, that had been booked since last year. It's a very sobering experience, as all my memories of it are steeped in very nostalgic and precious memories, with Pete, with James, and a me that is a completely different me to who I am now. I feel desperately anxious and uneasy the whole time and struggle to engage with truly being there. This is also the first time we've been to a music festival since we started this band, a band which may now be lost for good, and it weighs so so heavily on me the entire time. I break things off with Jo entirely when we return. Therapy helps a lot during this very dark time. Greg and I agree we need some time properly away from one another. Slowly I begin to integrate more with people at work. In a twist of fate, Chloe from NYC comes and stays with me for a few days and it's actually the loveliest thing and we have a blast. A desperately-outdated essay I wrote back in 2016 about university and blogging and mental health gets published in and anthology and I got to the book launch with Flossie and Chloe. The sun starts to shine again.

It's then that I discover the most incredible group of friends at work who truly save me. Most notably is Esta, who becomes such an incredibly close friend in such a short space of time, the continuation of these influential women who have shaped me. She says to me once, 'You know, you get to an age where you think you've met everyone you're ever gonna meet in life. Then I met you.' At only 22, she doesn't even realise what those words mean to me. We develop a close group of friends and fully escape into a summer of dreams. It feels like the kind of friendship I'd always been searching for in Brighton yet has always been just out of reach. Life becomes a blur of drunken nights, beach days, cycling to the marina, deep chats, playing rounders in the park, doing dumb stuff like jigsaw puzzles and board games and watching trash tv. Silly things made all the more fun because of the people involved. It's a careless simplicity I haven't known in years, and it seems every day brings a new unexpected joy. It allows me to fully escape the pain of being not in contact with Greg for the first time since we met, the loss of my creative outlet, the uncertainty of my future, and whether everything I've staked my life on has been lost.

A guy in the group and I become closer than the others and a sweet and secret unexpected romance occurs. It isn't lost on me that I'm still in the aftershock of this life-changing double break up, but it just seems so natural and unchallenging and wholesome I decide to just roll with it. He, Esta and I become an inseparable trio. During this time Greg starts a new job and I'm comforted by the idea of he also finding a new group of people to bond with and is finding his own joy too. But summer begins to draw to a close, and in a move we always knew was coming, Esta and the object of my affection both have to leave town at the end of summer. A chill creeps in the air and the leaves start to change and suddenly I'm about to be 27. Knowing I'm beginning to freak out, on her last day, Esta presents me with a scrapbook full of photos of our summer together, and for only the second time in my life I burst into tears of joy. Flossie and I go to Barcelona for a few days and it's a lovely reunion but my mind is so distracted, and I recognise the beginnings of something familiar. With the loss of two core members and then later a third, the group becomes just a bunch of work friends again and my heart aches terribly. I find out some horribly uncomfortable truths about what I thought was my sweet pure romance and the illusion is shattered. For what feels like the hundredth time this year, my heart breaks. Then I find out James has got engaged, and the whole world stops but this time it doesn't start again.

Thankfully around this time my good friend Molly moves in with me, bringing her sweet dog Bambi and her love of all this mystical, and she enlightens about tarot and astrology and even the power of crystals. And then on the 11th of November 2019 I decide to start a list of everything I've done in the last ten years. Because deep down I am suffering and I'm suffering bad, and it's all because of my own choices and mistakes. And I know there's a lot I need to understand and recognise and forgive myself for in the past, if I truly want to be able to head into this next decade and flourish.