I created this blog space to write about things that matter to me, and so far I have brilliantly avoided doing that. I hate lies. I hate being lied to. I can always handle the truth, but lies only breed discontent. So why do I lie to myself?
This summer vacation from university has been a huge period of change, expression and discovery in my life. I spent hours and hours and days and weeks and months preparing for my end of year exams. I have done exams before but these ones mattered more than any of them. They are a mile stone that goes towards determining the classification I will receive for my degree. Getting a first in my degree felt like the most important thing in the world. I felt like I had so much to live up too and so much to prove. Anything less was proof that I am not good enough.
The exam results came earlier than I expected. I was on a road trip from Miami to Florida when a friend messaged and asked how my exams went. I hurried to log on and see what results awaited me. A risky thing to do on holiday, but I naively thought they would be good and then I would have all the more reason to celebrate. They were not good. I felt sick as my eyes glanced down the list from results in the 50’s to the better ones in the 60’s. No 70% grades. Not even one. I was so disappointed in myself. I felt so ashamed that I haven’t even told anyone what results I got and have completely avoided talking about it to anyone other than my fiancé and one select friend who didn’t ask any painful questions. Mostly I felt like all the pain, the momentary break downs and the months of my time invested in it all was a complete waste of time.
I didn’t know this at the time, but I invested so much of my self-construct in being “good” at psychology. It was so important that studying, and stressing about studying was all I did for the whole of my second year at university. I stopped reading for fun, I stopped writing for fun, I stopped making new friends and discovering myself and just grew more and more frustrated at the system and at myself for falling short. I felt like I was wasting my time, because I was. Psychologist was the only role I had lined up for myself, so of course it was important. The reality that I only just scraped average made my only role pointless, unsatisfying and shameful. I wish that I could write that I got over it quickly and decided to study harder and totally boss my third year.. I mean that is what people want to read isn’t it? About how I overcame a set back and came back stronger. That is what quotes are written about – never giving up on your dreams. Third year is the year that counts the most right? There is still time to buck up my act and do better.. But that is not how my story goes. I cannot write that because I decided to stop lying to myself. I am still avoiding starting my final year project. The one that counts for a massive 40% of my third year grade. I should have started it weeks ago. I intended too, yet I just haven’t felt prepared. I haven’t felt ready to give up on this yet – whatever this is. It feels like freedom, it feels like happiness. Every time I have thought about starting that project, I find myself paintings, drawing, reading, writing a blog post or just making something.. Making anything. I will start it soon, because the psychologist role is still important to me, but it is not all there is anymore.
My experiences this summer have caused me to look inwardly, to put it figuratively – do some ‘soul’ searching. I decided to stop wasting my time and my energy in places that felt unfulfilling and instead spent it rediscovering myself. Rediscovering what it is that makes me tick and creating little pockets of thriving. One of the major differences I have made is to just log off. At one point I realised I checked my Facebook at least every hour, sometimes every 5 minutes. I wrote a status about what I was up to or feeling instead of sharing it with a friend. That felt entirely unfulfilling to me, because although 10, 20.. 100 people might like it (okay, I’m not that popular), I never got to express or create beyond that. I felt lonely because I didn’t have the level of interaction that I craved. Since I made a conscious effort to log off and live in the moment, for the moment, I feel much more connected.
My partner is my rock. We are a team and we support each other through the ups and downs of life. We also support each other in our journey of discovery together and individually. To me that is what a partnership is about. This summer he has been brilliant in supporting my rediscovery. From the little things to the big things like helping with the more heavy duty aspects of my art, taking me to art shops, carrying an easel through Barcelona for me, teaching me how to do gardening and never moaning about the mess I make. Even taking me on adventures to places for inspiration. When I started the summer holiday I had never potted a plant, painted on a canvas, painted with oil paints, or carved my name into wood. I have experienced so many “I have never” moments and I feel myself feeling lighter for them.
I read a blog post earlier today written by a soon-to-be author. The post was about her publishing process. She took 2 years contemplating a book in her head before she put it on paper. Then she re-wrote the first few chapters like 10 times. Then she finally sent a 30,000 word draft to an editor and it was rejected with a note that there was a major character fault. So she re-wrote it again and again and eventually when she got an editor she then had to keep developing aspects for a further 2 years and now finally she has been given the go ahead and she will be published in upcoming months.. Reading that has made me realise that it is okay that a month ago I admitted to myself that what I really want to be is an author, that I have never felt good enough for that and I agreed to hold my own hand as I figure out how to do that. A month has already passed by and I haven’t written a plot down yet. I haven’t figured out my characters yet, or if I will narrate from first, second or third person. I feel weirdly comforted by how long the process of publishing a book can take and how many re-writes might occur. I feel comforted that it is normal to not have a fucking clue what to write about or how to get the burning desires inside of me onto paper in a way that the book does not just read about my life, but goes beyond that, to the lives of people who don’t exist and yet do.
Over the summer I have created various roles for myself. I am not just a psychologist anymore, and getting a first in psychology doesn’t actually help me much with the direction I want to steer my life in. I do not want to be an academic. I do not want to publish research papers. I just want to be, and to guid other people on their pathway of being. I still want to train as a leader in a particular type of therapy that I believe in, but now I return into my third year of university as an artist and a writer too. So you see my story doesn’t unfold as the girl who tried harder to be good at something, it tells as the girl who wasn’t perfect at something, and in the end, her imperfections set her free.