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loving your surroundings

As a child, I loved where I grew up. All the neighbours knew one another, you could speak to anybody and there was always something interesting going on. My parents are still together, but I spent my childhood between two estates as my grandparents and extended family were based on the other side of town. Growing up was never a bore, I was never bothered by what went on around me or the people I was surrounded with, and then I hit secondary school.

As soon as I hit around fourteen, I got slapped around the face by reality. In a conversation with one of my friends, she asked why my parents didn't simply buy another house seeing as myself and two siblings were required to share a room. When I stated my parents didn't own our house, she proceeded to ask if they privately rented, and with the idea that I lived on a council estate becoming apparent, her reaction changed. Watching the expression of a person you are talking to change is intriguing, and I was especially interested in the reason of which her reaction was less than savoury.

It was simply because I grew up on a council estate. Somewhere that everyone thinks low life, benefit scrounging, alcoholics spent their days doing nothing but causing havoc.

I stopped loving where I lived.

As I previously mentioned, I was never bothered by went on around me. Having the local drunk walking down the street at 11 am with a cider can singing You'll Never Walk Alone was amusing. Watching the next door neighbours having a full on fight on New Year's Eve due to the fact someone ate all the chocolate gateau made my evening. Being able to walk to the chip shop down the road and coming out half hour later with chips, a sausage, a drink and a lift home for a pound was something I loved. Yet, apparently, this isn't what everyone experienced. Living on a council estate was somewhat frowned upon and this minor hatred rubbed off on me.

Now, I must admit it wasn't amusing all the time. When its four in the morning and all you are trying to do is sleep but over the road are having a house party it isn't great or when you're trying to walk to your aunties house but the road is closed because someone is taking a relative hostage isn't all that fun. Yes, there was low life, benefit scrounging alcoholics that spent their days doing nothing but causing havoc, especially on the estate where my grandparents lived. There were people that you knew to stay away from because they were complete bad news, whether it be because they would pick a fight or try and sell you drugs. So I stopped. I stopped going out, speaking to the people I had spent my whole life having the funniest time with and I stopped feeling comfortable at home.

Then I reached sixteen, and I started loving it again. When most people think of council estates, they think of the stereotype I have already mentioned. Yet, it isn't like that. Of course, there was those unsavoury characters and days where all you wanted to do was move but, life wasn't like that all the time. Life was walking down the road in your pyjamas to get a cup of sugar from the lady who always had some, or being able to stand at your front door laughing and singing along with the local drunk who always had a can of cider in his hand.

It wasn't always like that either. Some days it was just normal. Now, I don't know how you define normal, however, some days nothing happened. Some days I lived on an estate like the rest of my friends, somewhere quiet and boring.

I began to accept where I lived again.

I think the council estate stereotype is dangerous because on the grand scheme of things the majority of people who live alongside me are completely socially normal. The lady that lives over the road from me runs her own business, my next door neighbour is a little old lady and the guy up the street only has a house party every three months. We are 'normal'. Although I don't know what living on a private estate feels like, I am sure the people can't be that much different. Yes, they may have a little more money, or they may have just bought the house twenty years ago when it was cheap as chips. The stereotypes encourage people to feel bad and ashamed of where they live. If you hammer into a child that because they are a council estate offspring they will fail at life, they will begin to fail. Not because they can't do it, but because you've encouraged them they can't. Living on a council estate doesn't hinder a child's life any more than living elsewhere do, children learn. They can be taught the difference between right and wrong, they can be made aware of what is dangerous, of what not to do and how to correctly behave. Looking down upon people because of where they grew up has no useful reason.

I grew up where I did, on a very stereotypical council estate. Yet, I know what is acceptable and what is not. I have ambition in life and I am following the dreams I made for myself. I have seen multiple people bleeding, I have had nights where I haven't slept because it has been so noisy and I have had to stay inside because it's not safe to go out, but that is life. We don't all have the privilege to live a perfect life, and honestly I don't think where I live hasn't hindered me in any way. If anything, it has taught me a sense of community. It has allowed me to get to know people from different end of the spectrums, from people with no money (where I lived) to extremely rich people (I went to a grammar school with a lot of rich people), and learn from both sides. It has taught me what the world is REALLY like, not some sugar-coated version. And in no way am I trying to dampen private housing or estates where all houses are bought because I don't know what that experience is like, all I am trying to say is that your surroundings do not have to shape you completely. You can be you.

No matter where you live, whether you like it or not, it is you. It has shaped how you grew up, but it does not have to keep you in that mould. You still have the opportunity to do what you want and to push yourself. However, if you spend your life wishing for a better home or hating where you live, you will simply fall into the trap of forgetting the positive things you have gained. We spend so much time focusing on the negative aspects of life, we forget that somewhere, positive things exist as well.

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Comments

  1. This is super such interesting read Elise! I completely agree with the fact it doesn't matter where you're from, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to Xx

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  2. I doesn't matter where we come from but where we are heading to. I really enjoyed this post, very well written:)!

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    Replies
    1. That is definitely true! Thank you so much X

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  3. What a brilliant post, found it really interesting and definitely makes me think about where I grew up and how I should appreciate it more. Xx

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  4. Such an interesting blog post, Elise! And the picture of you is so cute! 😊

    Xoxo
    Shirley | https://shirleycuypers.blogspot.be

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  5. Thanks for sharing, it frustrates me when people look down on any aspects of society, and I think your upbringing makes you who you are today - it's given you a well rounded view of the world which can't be a bad thing!


    www.mjw.wales

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  6. I love this post! Something I can definitely relate to. It's funny that people can easily turn their noses down to people on council estates but mine was filled with a great community, we all knew eachother, as kids we all played together. It was a time of my life I loved growing up in. 💕

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed where you grew up X

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  7. This is a great post Elise. I actually found I was quite jealous of people who grew up on council estates and got to hang out with other kids all evening. I grew up in a very quiet road and my siblings were the only other people my age, luckily I had a lot of fun with them though!! xxx

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  8. Lovely post, definitely one I relate to a lot! Xx

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  9. Such an interesting read, Elise.
    Sophie x | eyesofowls.org

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