The Witching Hour

We have all heard about the witching hour: rumour has it that when the clock strikes midnight all things supernatural come to life, taunting those in the earthly realm out of their tranquil slumber.  To an extent this is true; at some point in all our lives we wake up at the chime of midnight with our hearts racing, drenched in sweat, and with the awful sensation that we are being haunted. I have a sneaky suspicion that these ghosts that haunt me at midnight are not the ones I have afraid of as a child, instead I think these are the ghosts I am now afraid of as an adult; the witching hour is the hour where all the ghosts from ex’s past appear, all the bad mistakes, all the money problems, all future decisions waiting to be made, and all the stupid comments you wish you never said. They all come in full force to wake you up from your slumber and haunt you for the rest of the night.

 

This damned hour has come back to haunt me ever since I returned to university; I can’t sleep, staying up late into the night to work on essay plans, watching entire tv series on Netflix, and on the weekends forcing my poor boyfriend to stay awake with me. Much to his annoyance. Even when I finally fall asleep I’m woken up by either my extremely noisy neighbour above (who apparently holds salsa lessons during this hour) or by the useless worries of career decisions and the extortionate price of cheese in Tesco.  Why do we panic about the things we cannot change and all the things we cannot foresee?

 

An estimated 6 million citizens of the U.K suffer from some form of anxiety or depression; all, no doubt, also lying awake in the witching hour, exploring the deep, dark corners of their mind of things that can or have gone wrong.  Anxiety is the silent villain; it erases all logical thinking, and some days it can even imprison you in your own bedroom or living room or even the bathroom floor. We all suffer from anxiety on some level, and even though it seems impossible to beat, we cannot let it win.  We must beat this witching hour at its own game, replacing the usual ghostly ritual of reruns and mind games by creating our own: the goddess hour, which comes in three specific parts.

 

Breathe: This is the first thing you must do, you must remember to breathe. I know, it’s sound ridiculous because we all know how to breathe but I’m not talking about rapid, short breaths but the deep, long breaths. Start by just stopping whatever you are doing and halting whatever it is you are panicking about. Take a few breaths, each one inhaling deeper and deeper until it fills your entire lungs right to the bottom, and every time you exhale let those heart palpitations melt away with the air.

 

Relax: Now you have calmed your body, you must calm the mind. Shut your eyes and picture a moment in your life where you felt calm, and happy, and at peace. It doesn’t have to big a huge moment, it might even be a morning lie in with a loved one, it might be night under the stars, it even might be a laughing session with your friends in KFC. Whatever it is you choose, let that moment soak in like sunshine on the brain and replace all the fears of the unknown.

 

Live: Now this is the hardest one to try and conquer, even though we supposedly do it every single day. Find adventures in the little things, do something you have always wanted to do, take a walk somewhere new, just be brave!  Don’t say no because you are scared, but yes because you are scared. Embrace the unexpected and find blessings in new beginnings; a rare ability we must all learn to empower.

 

One day soon you’re going to see that world on fire, so don’t let the anxiety diminish the drive and passion and excitement of the future by imprisoning you in the now. Send the ghosts of the witching hour back into the darkness and let yourself have a good nights sleep.

Battle of the Bitches

 

Katharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, two women lost to history as tragic victims of the oversized ego of an overweight King, indulged too long in pleasure and power; an easy fault to lay at the feet of a patriarchal society. But if we look a little closer it is clear to see that this is no war of religion, no fight between husband and wife, this is a battle of the bitches.  One was Queen of England from birth, raised to believe in her divine right of royal blood, while the other, a genteel woman who figured early on the power of sexuality and seduction; both powerful, both stubborn, both proud.  It was not Henry who signed their death sentences but in fact, their egos, that would not break or bend – even with the threat of the axe – in their quest for the crown.

As a feminist – a title given to me during my university years – I have always believed in the power of the female and capability we possess to rule the world (think Elizabeth I).  However, once upon a time I was swarmed by a group of girls I barely knew at a party, who proceeded to inform me that I was “alright” in person but did not photograph well. From that day onwards, I realised that contradictory to popular belief we, as women, are in many ways our own downfall.  Strong words, I know.

 

Ladies, our egos are our ruin.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I wish all the best to the girls who feel like a real- life Beyoncé, but the problem begins when we target our egos at one another.

“Girls compete with each other, women empower each other.” Isn’t that the quote that we all aspire to? I don’t know why we do it. I don’t know why I compete with other girls, or why I compare myself, or why I stalk the most ridiculously good-looking girls on Instagram. (There shall be no judgment, I know you do it to.)  Like enemies at war, we look each other up and down; from the perfectly pedicured toes to the head of highlights, we scope our challenger out, identifying any flaws or any signs of weakness to numb our own insecurity. It doesn’t even matter who it is; the ex-girlfriend, the one-night stand, the best friend, or the girl on the street. We study them with questions burning in our brains; is she better looking than me, funnier, smarter?  Is she going to take my man, take me down, or take my handbag?

I have often questioned if Miss Trunchbull was actually a misrepresented character, a villain forged from the competitive fire of female societies, burnt with criticism whispered in corners of parties and comments on Facebook. Perhaps, she began as Miss Honey, with all the positivity in the world, but the years of failed relationships, fad diets, zenless yoga sessions, and natural size 4’s turned her into this monster everyone runs from. Maybe we will all turn into Miss Trunchbull if we allow the negativity to dilute us.

It isn’t men keeping us down, or social media, or societal expectations, it is our vanity and belief that we are better than the person standing next to us. We compete with other girls because we are jealous of the things we believe we don’t have, whether that be long blonde hair, or washboard abs, or an abundance of natural confidence.  I could sit here and preach female empowerment, but I won’t.  Instead, tomorrow I won’t see a pretty girl as a rival, and I won’t see an ex-girlfriend as a threat, I will stop seeing girls as competition and more as allies.

 

As women we have enough on our agenda to fight for, why add each other to the list? Think about it, if Katharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn had discarded their pride and joined forces, who knows how history would have been written?