I have contemplated writing this post for a considerably long time. Naturally, the over-thinker I am, I thought that no one would be interested in reading another lamenting post. But the process provides a form of cathartic release that is otherwise hard to come by.
Then I realised that it honestly matters very little if anyone shares an interest in reading my sorry tale. I just need to tell it. While deliberating all this, I actually missed a special anniversary for which this post was originally going to be written.
So where does that leave us? I’m not sure. Perhaps another rambling, ultimately pointless entry? It is entirely possible. But I guess that is exactly what I will be doing.
I have been feeling incredibly lost for some time now. Empirically, all is well. I reached an important milestone this year in spite of the chaos that the world has descended into over the last 18 months. As to the chaos, both globally and personally, there really seems to be no end in sight.
I graduated from university. That’s right, you are reading the wise words of a BA(Hons) English graduate. I did pretty well too, if I may say so myself. So what chaos am I banging on about? In all honesty, there is very little (or no) chaos at all.
I should be living the dream. My future prospects are blown wide open, and I get to gloat evermore about this achievement to anyone willing to listen. But here I am, only a few months later, visibly saddened and uncomfortable. I don’t even really understand why.
It is a remarkable achievement on several accounts. I arrived at university three years ago at a very low point. I have spoken at length in a previous post about the impact that the pressures of academia have had on my confidence and self-worth.
Indeed, the very same pressures and its consequences extended into university life. While for the most part things were vastly different to what I had previously experienced, I very much still felt the need to prove my worth through good academic performance.
It sustained me for a very long time. I believed that it was truly the route to contentment and a sense of fulfilment that I felt was lacking. It actually worked for a short while too and I was happy being unhappy if it meant that I would eventually achieve my goals.
I did achieve my goals. I even surpassed expectations, both mine and those of my family. So much so that I was awarded with a long-awaited pet. I am now the proud, if somewhat concerned, owner of a young budgie, Rishi.
But the truth is, Rishi is somewhat of a compromise. I had initially wanted a puppy. Actually, I have wanted one since I was a little girl. Yet as any good parent would, my parents knew not to give into my whims at such a young age. We weren’t ready and times were tough that we didn’t need another child to look after.
Before I left for university, my parents made a promise that they would get me a dog if I achieved a first-class in my degree. Now it was personal. I knew it was intended as an empty promise to appease me, but if I got a little companion out of it then the achievement would be all the sweeter for it.
We compromised and got a bird. Our family was once the owner of a lovely little parakeet named Lalu. Unfortunately, this was a few years before my time, but I loved the idea of having a little bird roaming around our house.
It is now coming up to a week since we first brought Rishi home and, predictably, it is causing a good deal of pain having him around. I am being the typical pet-owner and over-worrying for him because I desperately want to make him happy and keep him healthy.
With any new pet, it is a process of adjustment. You would think primarily for the pet, but I have learnt that this is also true for the owner. I thought I would be incredibly happy to have him around.
For the most part, I am. But I am also overcome by worries and anxieties about his health and wellbeing. In a rather poignant way, he represents a tangible manifestation of the struggles that have hounded me the last couple of years. I have what I want, but I must persevere to keep it.
The moral of the story (if there is a moral) is that I knew I was never going to get a dog. In fact, my parents never expected me to do so well in the first place, let alone good enough to give me what I had been asking for.
Surprisingly, that comment didn’t affect me quite so much as I first expected it would. People have always had a history of underestimating my capabilities. I have been guilty of it far too much myself. Let’s face it, I don’t exude confidence in such matters.
My mantra through university has always been that I must keep pushing. I must because I have things to prove. I must because I have more at stake. I must because I am not good enough.
I have to admit that such self-deprecation drove me to different levels of attainment. It pushed me because I was constantly fighting to prove myself wrong. It provided a greater incentive and made for a sweeter victory when things did go my way.
But maybe I didn’t realise quite how damaging it was. I realise it now as I sit here writing this. I’m more unhappy right now than I was at the beginning of this tumultuous journey. I have earned everything I wanted and more, but I would trade it for a bit peace in a heartbeat.
It isn’t all bad though. It is incredibly easy to focus on the upset when you’re in the eye of the storm. I have done just that for the last 2 years and it has not done any favours for me. But I realise the long way I have come and the long way that is still to go.
If I had told myself 3 years ago that I would be where I am today, I would have just laughed in my future self’s face. Typical of me to not believe even the most conclusive of proofs. But it is sadly true.
Yet, I am extremely proud of what I have done. I kept on going even when things were taking a turn for the worse. I may not quite yet appreciate just how hard I had to work to get to where I am right now, but I hope that with time I begin to see it clearly.
Now for all those patiently waiting for a glimpse of the handsome hunk himself, I will be sure that he makes an appearance soon!