Sunday, 17 June 2012

walk away, let the fear fall away

It feels like it's been months since I last wrote on here. It hasn't really, but since leaving college and finishing my exams life seems to have slowed down a little and my days feel longer.

At the moment, I feel a sort of contentment that I hadn't felt in a long time before leaving college. I titled this post using lyrics from a Josh Groban song that I love (and it's embedded at the bottom of this, so you can now love it too) because I was listening to it earlier and the lyric that caught my attention describes how I feel about leaving college perfectly.

I haven't talked about my college experience in too much depth because it's a tricky subject to delve into - especially online where so many people could read about it and misunderstand what I mean or read into what I say - but I'm going to test the water a little because even if it serves no other purpose, writing is therapeutic.

Having said that, I should add a little disclaimer right about here in which I place great emphasis on the fact that what I am writing about is not one specific event and I am not referring to individual moments (or even people), but my general thoughts on my college experiences and what I've learnt from it/them. My intention with this post is to release some thoughts and feelings that I have, nothing more. :)
I didn't adapt well to starting college at all, and this is something that I'm definitely not exaggerating about. In the first few weeks/first couple of months, my tutor had me keeping a list of everything that I was struggling with and it was ridiculous. It ranged from workload (all I'm going to say about that is DO NOT take AS Spanish if you think it's going to be easy - everything you learnt at GCSE is basically useless knowledge) to struggling with friends and being in such large crowds almost all of the time when I was actually in college. It was pretty much a classic case of tons of small things joining forces to make one huge problem - and for me, the problem was ''I'm at college''.

So, fast forward to about March 2011 and I'm feeling a bit better for this next paragraph or so... The winter was rubbish, like the sort of rubbish that has made me hate winter, but seen as this is my blog I can stick some nice, shiny gloss over that and pretend the winter didn't exist. I did my January exams with some serious self-confidence issues going on, and my grades definitely reflected that (I did two exams and came away from them with two very average B grades, which aren't bad at all but I'll explain...) - I may not have been particular surprised due to the fact that I was hyper-aware of quite how miserable I was, but my teachers were surprised and it was difficult trying to explain precisely what I thought had 'gone wrong' in the exams to get lower grades than my teachers had expected. During this time, I was becoming particularly fond of the college choir, and to this day it is one of the best things I have ever done. Because of my involvement in the choir, I met CT (major props to you if you know who that is...or indeed if you are CT!) and in March we went out into the town centre with a bunch of friends and, wait for it, busked for Red Nose Day. Yes, we stood in a shopping centre and spent a day singing. Were we mental? Definitely, but it was pretty damn fun and if you can't be ridiculous for charity then when can you? Choir was an amazing confidence-booster and even though I can't really sing, that's not the point - why would I choose to avoid something that makes me feel good just because I'm not the best at actually doing it?

Around this time, I started to gain back tiny bits of the confidence I had lost and began preparing for the summer exams. It was also around this time when I spoke to my teachers about what had been going on all throughout the winter and January exams and we sorted out 'strategies' for the summer exams. I walked away from my first year of college with two A grades and two B grades.

This year (second year/Y13) has been much the same in that it's been a mixed year with even more extreme high points and low points than the first year of college. It's a strange one, because while there have been some absolutely horrific moments this year that I would not wish to a) repeat or b) happen to anybody else, there have also been some amazing moments this year that have helped me to leave college with a positive outlook on things.

There were lots of things that really affected me this year, and looking back over everything I now know that a lot of it is due to the fact that I never really got over all of the stress and anxiety of the first year. I also had a new tutor (technically, my form had three before they could pick one for us...) this year which did not help matters at all (but having said that, she is lovely and I'm glad that of everybody, I was in her form).
Throughout Y13 I think one thing I really begun to notice was that as much as you need a wonderful group of people to patch you up and stick you back together when you start to fall apart, you then need to reach that point where you can take care of those wounds yourself because you have found that strength within yourself in order to be truly capable of getting over things. I'm lucky to have figured this out, because this year I experienced real anxiety and it was not pleasant. When I say 'anxiety', I'm referring to things like having to walk around college with at least one other person in order to avoid an all too familiar feeling of shaking and being unable to breathe properly until I was safely in the one place that I truly liked and felt comfortable and safe in - the language lab. This started probably around January again (and yes, one of my exam results suffered as a consequence again) and lasted until probably the end of April.
The language lab people are a truly wonderful bunch of people (S, J, B, W, H, C and L to name/initialise just a few) who were all so patient and caring with me when I was going absolutely insane and really struggling. Two moments that stand out were 1) walking out of a Spanish lesson and crying at S while the whole room was concerned and 2) crying hysterically at L who sorted me out and ended it all with 'we're not bothering with English, it's not important). I found myself relying on those people and that room (and also the SOS team [C, N/D and K] because they too were amazing people) and slowly but surely, reached the point where I'm at now.

I think the one thing that I've learnt from college is actually one of the most important life lessons I've learnt so far, and it is summed up brilliantly by a quote from both my favourite book and my favourite comedian:

There are no easily quotable sayings about just knuckling down and getting on with life in all its inconsistent and unfair glory, and if there were, they wouldn’t rhyme or have witty wordplays so people would choose to ignore them.

Life is unfair. It's bloody awful and you can try as hard as you like to change your circumstances but sometimes you just can't. But, that's not to say that you can't change yourself and live through your circumstances until you can indeed see both the light at the end of the tunnel and that much-desired silver lining. At the end of the day, we are all capable of letting both ourselves and other people down by the way we behave, and we are all capable of doing things that we are not happy doing, but we all have so much more potential to do wonderful things with our lives and we are only harming ourselves by choosing to wallow in our own self-pity instead of embracing all of the good in the world.

Maybe I'll talk more (if that's possible, apologies for the length of this by the way!) about things in the future. We shall see. I know there are some of you who will read this who know about things in a bit more detail, so please let me know if you think I should.


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