Friday, May 25, 2012

Stand and Deliver

It’s crunch time here. Time to step up, to kick it into the next gear. The time when I become a man. The time when I leave cliché behind and, you know, do it right.

Except that the anxiety is crippling me and I am FREAKING OUT. It seems that when the pressure gets really bad I am not rising to the challenge but just folding like a cheap card table. I knew this time was coming and unfortunately there was nothing much I could do but try and be ready for it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got here, with this year and everything. It’s ten years since I started university for the first time and since I first made plans to do Honours in history. Back then I was planning to do double Honours – a thesis year for history, and another one in Italian. I thought that I would probably do post-grad law, probably not at the institution I was attending, and that when I did that my life would get better. Because university was letting me down.

I was the most miserable fuck at school you ever met. I know everyone says that, and it’s probably true more often than not, but I really was. I cried so easily and so often, I was that student in class that everybody hates because they know all the answers and never shut up, and the only people I was friendly with were in other years and I came to know through music. And that last bit only happened my last four years after I moved schools. The situation at the house (I never called it home) was untenable and often violent. Work was another ball game – for the first time I had friends, a couple of whom were close in age to me, but it was also the scene for some of the worst stuff that has ever happened to me.

I tell the school story only to illustrate that university, in my mind, was going to solve all my problems. I was told teachers who cared about me that university was where I was meant to be, that intellectually and emotionally it would satisfy me.  I came to see uni as a field of dreams, where I would be happy, where my classes would all be incredible, where I would have friends, where I would do well and be a success.

And of course it wasn’t like that. My subjects were either very difficult or not demanding at all. The grading scale at university was a shock to the system, I struggled with having to type all my work (I didn’t have my own computer) and I was working far too much for far too little. The trauma that happened to me two years earlier was coming back to haunt me and I was on the fence about my singing – I knew I had to make a decision about whether to continue or not. To top it off I ended up coming down with glandular fever (that’s mono to you Yanks). And I didn’t realise until after.

Uni did eventually get better. I found out in third year that it was possible to have great classes and make wonderful friends. But then my life came apart at the seams and I dropped out, never even officially deferring properly. The darkness consumed my life so completely that everything before seemed better by comparison, which of course was ridiculous. It was just that I couldn’t cope anymore at all.

And now I’m back (from outer space). And this year I am having the best classes I have ever had, mostly full of incredible people. I am making new friends and keeping old ones, I have a mentor who is making it clear that he is in my life for the long haul*, my relationship with my sister is mostly as I have always wanted it and I am getting the help I need for my illness.

So I’m trying to remember these good things even while I try to breathe again after a panic attack that I had to run out of class to give in to. I try to remember how content this work makes me even while the anxiety keeps me up for days at a time and yet prevents me from concentrating. I try to remember what my mentor is teaching me by example: that being soft and compassionate is a strength, not a weakness, and one that makes me better at what I do. 

So I’m going to do my best with what I have, in the time I have. This year is a privilege and I know how lucky I am. So as much as I hate these deadlines, I am working on things that are important and that have meaning. For the first time in a long time I have more to be grateful for than not.  I’m hoping that knowledge, and that gratitude, keeps my head above water.

*more on that another time.

This was going to be a bitchy post but I hope it became something better than that. Sorry for all the sad stories. 


  1. Ah Moz... I thought there might be something going on to explain the relative silence. I feel for you and hope that you can keep that positive voice in your head when you have moments where it all feels too much.

    Taking on such a massive task as a thesis is something I am in awe of. Keep on writing your feelings out - I find it makes me feel better instantly.

    And a virtual high five for not sounding at all bitchy.

  2. Compassion is not just a strength but the greatest one of all :) xox

  3. I'm glad you weren't scared off so much by round 1 that you never attempted round 2. A lot of it is a different set of people and a different set of circumstances, yes, but you were the driving force behind all the good turns life has taken. Even though it probably doesn't feel like that some of the time. Strength and power and emotion, good lady!


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