When I was 6 my favourite film was “A Little Princess”, a film adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic read, a film which follows a young Sara Crewe as she is taken to a New York boarding school, while her father is sent off to war. I remember being completely transfixed by this little girl who, seemingly effortlessly, managed to gain admirers, nay friends, with the simplest of ease. She was a girl who could not just imagine in her head a story, but convey to the rest of her class and peers a whole other world. In just the space of a few months Sara’s world was not just turned upside down, but completely shattered. For those of you who have not seen this film (and you really must!) Sara Crewe finds out that her father was killed in the war and all of his assets have been ceased by the British Government, leaving young Sara penniless and without a home. Even while facing the possibilities of being chucked out into the streets and forced to beg for survival Sara does not lose faith in her belief that every girl deserved to be a princess.

From an early age I was adamant that I would end up with morals just like Sara Crewe’s, an ambition which started off well. As I entered primary school and came face-to-face with the daunting task of making friends I was determined to gain followers much like Sara Crewe did.  Of course anyone who has ever visited the real world, and I really do try to go as little as possible, will understand that this isn’t really how life works. Perhaps in the early 20th Century one could obtain all the friends in the world by merely smiling, being polite and telling the most incredibly imaginative stories, but in the late 90s in a small town in Essex, England this didn’t work too well. Unfortunately no matter how friendly and funny I was, and I really like to think I was, it just wouldn’t work. All these people could see was my chubby little face, brown curly hair and lack of any fashion direction. (Yes, even at about 7 fashion was important to these kids)

Although my efforts fell flat on their face and I consequently spent the next 10 years of my life smiling at the people that had so quickly denied me entrance to their friendship group I learnt a lot from life at the bottom of the social heap.

I genuinely think that had I been accepted all those years ago I would not be sitting here writing this. It was probably around the age of social rejection that I turned to writing, releasing the stories which were supposed to be for the children in my class on to paper. I soon got a sense of fashion, gained more friends and realised that although it is important to be polite and social, popularity is not a necessity nor is it now a desire of mine.  I have witnessed peoples fall from grace, best friends airing each other’s dirty laundry and physical fights about what someone said about another and realised that perhaps it is not friendship that makes you popular, but an ability to manipulate.

Even now I stand by my early belief that Sara Crewe knew a thing or two about making friends, albeit in a different life it still worked.  One cannot merely stride into a room, tell a joke and gain admirers unless you are super-skinny, super-pretty and super-fashionable (sorry girls, but apparently that still matters), however by showing your true personality to the right people you can gain friends for life, something which a lot forget about.