In A World Of Shelleys, BE A SHEILA

What? I hear you ask.

Who is Shelley?

Who is Sheila?


Well, I’ll tell you. But obviously, I’ll give you a bit of a background story first.

So :

My latest weekend was spent in a place called Tarifa. Now, how do I describe Tarifa? It’s really pretty, for one. The beaches are lovely, the street art is great and the vibes of the old town are funky, young… hipster. Like super hipster. Like the kinda hipster where you’re eating your scrambled eggs – in a hipster, kinda coffee place – because they have almond milk and vegan chocolate tart – and the homeless guy outside swaggers in with a joint whilst ordering his coffee at 11am. To all you Londoners reading, it’s like a really hot (weather wise and only during the day), cleaner, prettier version of Shoreditch, where at 2am the biggest club is empty, so you and your friend take advantage by skanking to nobody on the empty bar floor – other than the bar lady who you drunkenly tell is “MUY BONITA” – but it’s free entry so you’re like YOLO (and then leave because skanking to nobody is stupid guys, don’t try this at home). You continue travelling from bar to bar and find one where you’re skanking to maybe about ten more people, and then the really nice man with only a few teeth beckons you and your friend over where he buys you tequila shots (seriously, LOVELY guy) and then leaves. I mean in London you would just NEVER have that kind of 5* treatment without some kind of favour being returned like you having to give over your number / sleep with them / talk to them. Big up the guy with no teeth! Why can’t I find more men like you in my life ?!

Anyway, I digress. BEFORE we ended up skanking to nobody and BEFORE toothless men bought us tequila shots, we were on a three hour bus ride to get here in the first place. Me and my new best friend of four weeks (yes, I’ve been here nearly four weeks .. what in the holiest of guacamole is going on) spent the time on the bus excitedly planning our fun weekend, unknowing of said adventures ahead.

– Actually I’m lying, I have no idea what we were talking about for three hours, but we spend the majority of the time laughing about nothing.

We get to Tarifa at night, and the bus stops in the outskirts of town. I’ve backpacked Mexico and I’m pretty sure I felt safer there than here. It’s also BLOODY COLD and we spend ten minutes walking and talking about how under prepared we are for sub zero Tarifa night temperatures whilst listening to remixed videos of singing goats – definitely worth a watch when you’re trying to keep positive in a random Spanish council estate ** TOP TRAVEL TIP, YOU’RE WELCOME.

We arrive at the hostel, and I’m super looking forward to sleeping. I’ve already written about how I’m struggling to sleep but it’s pretty difficult to express it in terms of how it’s affecting me. You’ll get an idea in a bit… we check in, get to our room and meet two ladies. One beautiful, positive, friendly Italian woman – for the sake of privacy purposes let’s call her Sheila – and a lady (no positive description needed) from NZ. For privacy – and not bothering to listen to the 30th story she spoke about herself – reasons, let’s call her Shelley. We all got to know each other and decide to go for a tapas dinner.

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a super friendly, outgoing person who loves meeting new people. That’s why it’s been so difficult to write about the times I’ve NOT felt so friendly and outgoing, because to me it feels fake, and sometimes I feel like if I’m not always bubbly, I’m ruining the good vibes. When I’m in a good mood, I’m grinning my big smile and I feel like the majority of people feel comfortable enough to respond positively… and people match the vibes they’re given right? What are those Louis Armstrong lyrics? “When you smilin’, the whole world smiles with you” Right, so when I’m NOT smiling, I get asked 100000 times if I’m okay, I look like a miserable teenager and the atmosphere sucks – and I KNOW it makes other people miserable, I’ve been told it before.

So, the group go out to Tapas.. and it’s worth mentioning that in my head that day I couldn’t remember if I’d taken my anti depressants or not. I knew that my doctor had instructed I absolutely cannot miss a dose, but I didn’t want to take them just in case I’d already done so earlier. WELL, I soon found out I clearly hadn’t because when we got to the table, my tiredness started to get overwhelmingly bad.. usually I can deal with that, but I I started to feel really OUT of the situation. I started to feel twitchy, I was zoning out of what everyone was saying and starting to internally panic. I was also starting to feel really low, and what’s my automatic reaction when I start to feel low? Smile and pretend everything is absolutely okay but everything is absolutely NOT okay – so I was trying to participate and force this grin on my face, not actually hearing what anyone was saying and feeling my legs start to buckle under the table.

How is it possible, that five minutes before this reaction, I’d been like this:

.. and then moments later I’d felt horrific.

* In my crazy sense of not being in reality, I thought of uploading this to Instagram in the hope that it would distract my mind but then I remembered I’m not like that, and that I absolutely refuse to tell a story that isn’t real. Uploading this to Instagram faking I’m happy would have been absolutely wrong *.

Instead, I tried to focus on what I was feeling and what I was feeling was this horrible sense of legging it out of the situation just to escape these people. I mean imagine that – I’ve just met these women, I’m sharing a room with them and there I would be, with my shaky legs, limping/ running off from the table. I’d personally swap dorms than be sharing my bedroom with that person so probably a good idea I thought against it, am I right?

My friend Georgia noticed I had gone quiet and asked me if I was okay, and it was at this point I turned my head, burst into tears and ran into the toilet to calm down. In the toilet I thought about everyone I could phone or text to make me feel better. I was overthinking the fact that my friends at the table didn’t run after me – but in saying that I also thought well maybe they don’t realise I need them, maybe they think I want to be alone – and then came to the realisation that actually nobody could really help me other than myself – and the way in which I could help myself would be leaving the situation. So I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath and walked back to the table, planting a smile on my face, calmly telling the group I wasn’t feeling well and I’d see them tomorrow. It was at this point I noticed “Shelley” – NZ woman in our room – raise her eyebrows, smirk and look at me like I was mad – but I thought to myself maybe “Shelley” just had twitchy eyebrow/face syndrome and tomorrow we can have a drink and laugh over how similar our jerks are. Right? Disclaimer – WRONG. SHELLEY DOES NOT HAVE JERKY FACE SYNDROME, SHE’S JUST A COW.


So, I’m walking through Tarifa, crying, not understanding why my body felt so weird, why my mind felt so weird, wondering how crazy I looked to my friends of four weeks, unable to get over these looks from Shelley – I know what you’re thinking, I shouldn’t care right? – and at this fantastic moment, I start to receive a call from Mum.

– She rings to say she actually rung me accidentally (thanks Mum) but she and my Dad then heard me crying over the phone and tried to help me calm down. I then went to bed and successfully had an even worse night than usual with the hall light (my bed was right next to the door) switching on automatically. Glaring in my face. I couldn’t sleep. The girls were still out and all I was thinking was that I’m crazy. Forget the fact I’m loving Sevilla, travelling every weekend, making incredible friends, embracing a new culture. My entire experience here, has now only been defined by what I’m feeling at that current moment – and that is the fact that every hour my leg would twitch so much that it would wake me up, so naturally I thought I was dying of undiagnosed MS (the illness my Dad has).

Is it beginning to make sense to you now..? Anxiety and Depression can literally make you lose any sense of reality – combine that with a lack of sleep, a rude Shelley and two forgotten tablets, it’s a recipe for disaster.

The following morning, Shelley had gone to Kite Surf – which naturally we were told later she was fantastic at, alongside everything else she was fantastic at other than shutting up – and I burst into tears to Georgia, Marion and Sheila (nice, Italian woman) apologising for seeming like I had two personalities.. apologising I had these issues. They were so utterly supportive I can’t tell you. They reminded me that just because I get bad days doesn’t differentiate my entire being. I AM a positive, happy, friendly person – but, just like EVERYONE else – I get bad days, just maybe a little worse than others. Depression and Anxiety are illnesses of the mind, just like anything else and they wouldn’t think of me as anything different + not sleeping most days would make anyone sad. I instantly started to feel better and we had a lovely breakfast. I ventured to the beach for time out whilst they went shopping and later, after sunbathing we got ready and prepared to go out. Shelley had invited a guy from Morroco – this was fine. What was not fine was Shelley explaining the reason she had invited him was to balance out the group as she basically couldn’t deal with the amount of girls in it.

Let me give you an idea about Shelley.

Shelley was in her late 30s. A woman who told me she lived in Spain on a boat/cruise/something with a captain and lived a life at sea whilst telling my friend she lived in France. She was – according to herself – incredible at everything she ever tried once and could have been a Physio if she had wanted to – well my friend who is actually a Physio realised she was speaking rubbish and had only completed a year of Sports Science.

I tried, I really did to include her. I spoke about the time I went sailing and how much I enjoyed it and somehow that was turned round to suit her. That’s fine – in life you get people like that right? Shows more of an insecurity on their behalf than ours, HOWEVER where I draw the line is with the bitchy comments and looks we were getting to anything we’d say. We’d ask her to take a picture and she’d raise her eyebrows, smirk at us like we were little immature girls and make a comment about how she finds it stupid to take pictures. She insinuated I was a slag about three times, asking how much I was on Tinder, whether I was on the prowl that night and as soon as someone good looking walked past, said “Emily! You got your eye on him yet?!” The way she tried to take control of the table, the orders, mentioning she wasn’t included in a picture insinuating she was left out when she had CHOSEN not to stand next to us, the looks she gave me when I asked her anything, the constant eye rolling – and yet even though we, as a group clearly pissed her off, she still chose to hang with us the entire night, like a weird, bitchy, awkward presence. Towards the end of the night, I felt like this:

The following day, she didn’t say a word to us and we didn’t attempt to make conversation. She sat with the Moroccan guy in Reception loudly asking “where are we going for breakfast then?” – clearly unaware that usually when you make no eye contact or conversation, you don’t always make group breakfast plans…

It was at this point that Georgia and I were looking at each other, reading each other’s minds that we didn’t want to spend our last morning with someone who belittled us – equally why would she want to spend it with us? Why, as much as she seemed to preach being independent, did she feel like she had to cling to us and assume we all had to do everything together whilst rolling her eyes if we so much as said Hello? So we legged it.

– And then forgot we’d not checked out and ran back to the Reception – to which she said to Georgia “so, are we actually GOING to breakfast together?”

Needless to say, we did not go to breakfast with her. We met up with the lovely Italian ladies (we befriended yet another Italian babe in our room) at the beach after – the Italians that were younger than Shelley and still incredibly managed to do their own thing with no bitchy comments -before returning to Sevilla.

Why have I gone into such detail about Shelley? Well, because I think it’s important for me to realise that whilst the majority of people are friendly, loving and kind, you’re not always surrounded by characters that can make you feel great about yourself – and sometimes I let their insecurities define what I am. I’m annoyed about the fact that I let myself, on my first day, feel bad – from someone else’s, single, sarcastic look. I spent my entire night down, anxious and depressed and actually added her bitchy look to my mental head space – like I actually had space in there to fit that in!Also, there I was thinking she was singling me out, and yet she was obviously facing some deep rooted insecurity by acting condescendingly to everyone else! – either insecurity or maybe she was just a bitch who knows.

Shelley and someone else I learn Spanish with – let’s call him Joe Bloggs – have both in the four weeks made me feel some kind of silly, crazy or not good enough in some way. Joe Bloggs and I were friends in class before I realised he was speaking about me behind my back, telling my friends I’m annoyingly asking too many questions in class .. which might be the reason he still sucks and I’m doing so well right? And yet, I let this person make me feel inferior too.. NOT again.

I am over people making other people feel small and insignificant due to THEIR own problems. Unfortunately, I guess people – no matter WHAT age – can still be nasty, and even a small look or a comment can make you feel small. You can trust people really easily and then feel really disappointed when they’re not the person you thought they were. But there are SHEILAs around – like Georgia, like Marion, who made me feel OKAY for being me, like the lovely, lovely Italian girls in the room who were warm and honest and kind from the get-go, and I guess maybe the trick in life is to be aware that not everyone is perfect (including yourself) but to try your hardest to not let the imperfections of people tarnish what you know about you. As long as you can be aware of your own faults, try your best to iron them out, whilst at the same time try to be a good, trusting, kind person then no one else should make you feel any less than that, burst your bubble or make you feel ashamed to be you. Because maybe the YOU that you know better than anyone else, is actually good enough.

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