A little more than a month ago, I posted “First Week Reflections” where I described the happiness of remembering who I really was and regaining some of my lost interests after just a week of living in seclusion in the outback. Five weeks later and this feeling is more intense than ever before. So often in life society defines who we are by where we live, our occupation or how much we earn. We are constantly told by our parents, our peers and the media, who we should be, who we are and who we are not. Unfortunately it is all too easy for us to fall into the trap of letting this definition of us become how we see our selves and loosing sight of who we really are inside.
Looking back to my school days, I felt constantly frustrated that the way others treated me was not the way I thought I deserved to be treated. Unfortunately, after years of being the victim of quite serious bullying, I well and truly believed that I was stupid, unattractive useless and not worthy of love. I lost my friends, I pushed away my family, and my grades slipped to the line of failure. In turn, this reinforced my feelings of self loathing and pushed me into depression. I gave up all my hobbies, stopped doing things I used to enjoy, and completely lost sight of who I was and what was important to me. I have struggled in this vicious cycle for many years and I still have my moments even now, ten years later. I have, however, noticed a pattern emerging in my life that I would like to share with you. I feel that, at least for me, being, having and doing what I want is all about confidence. The more confidence I have, the more I seek out what I want. The more I seek out what I want, the more confident I get. Think of it as building blocks. I’m building my ideal life.
The first block…
After graduating high school in America at 17, I decided that I had to break this vicious cycle as all I could see for my future was a long, downward spiral. I took control of my own life, for the first time, and moved back the the UK to pursue a career in events management. I worked full time as an events administrator at a city office for just over a year. I loved my job, my new life and the new start gave me just the boost in confidence I needed to apply for university. At the time, 90% of my reason for applying was to prove my critics wrong; to prove that I wasn’t a failure. The other 10% for me, because I wanted to go to university. I applied in secret because, to be perfectly honest, I was terrified that I would struggle in the same ways I had in school or worse, that I wouldn’t even get in. My UCAS letter arrived and it turned out that I had, in fact, been unconditionally accepted into all five universities that I had applied to. I quickly accepted my place on BA(Hons) Music Industry & Live Events Management as a bid to meet some like minded people and get on track to who I wanted to be.
Half way through my three year course I realised that I perhaps wasn’t making the most of my time at university. I noticed that others were getting internships or top marks on their coursework… things that I wanted for myself but I was too scared of failure to even try. As the end of the calendar year approached, I started building block number two. First, I broke up with my boyfriend of three years who, although very nice, we had nothing in common which made it difficult to support each others interests and goals. I spent three days moping, two days deciding that I needed to do something for me and one day…. I applied for a full-time, six month internship in London with a well known music festival. I knew that hundreds of other people had applied, including some of my friends and the top students on my course so I was convinced that I wouldn’t get it but as they say, you have to be in it to win it so I applied. To my utter surprise, three days and one interview later, I had the job! I was over the moon. Unfortunately, as well as commuting to London every day and working full time, I also had to do all my university coursework and exams as well as take on a night and weekend job to cover my expenses. The university told me they would excuse me from classes but I failed my exams then there was nothing they could do, I had no idea how I was going to afford it and my family and friends told me it would be too much of a struggle. Enter block number one… I remembered how I had had feelings of doubt about moving to the UK, about applying for univeristy and how I had proved everybody wrong before so why should this be any different. In truth, I had no idea logistically how I was going to manage/survive but I made the decision that I would take on the challenge and that I would not fail. My confidence sky rocketed, I jumped up on this new building bock and a week later I had a new boyfriend, the guy I had secretly fancied for the past year. Despite my fears, I didn’t fail. I well and truly succeeded at working 20 hours a day at three jobs while maintaining high marks at university. Oh yeah… and that guy I started seeing, he’s now my fiancé! We’re getting married next year in Australia!
Graduation day came. I stood with my family, my future husband and the upper second class honours degree I had dreamed of in my hand (not to mention the first class honours degree in his hand!). I felt a great sense of achievement, I felt proud for us a couple, and I also felt a sense of relief. Relief from the stigma that comes with being a student. It goes something like this:
Person: “Hi, what do you do?”
Me: “oh, I’m a student and a free lance events manager”
Person: “oh, so my tax money is paying for you to just sit around all day binge drinking, live in a filthy house and party all night. You don’t care about the environment, live on junk food and don’t want to get a job.”
I got well and truly sick of these assumptions as they couldn’t be further from what I actually did or thought. I made my decision that no longer was I going to let other people define who I was. How could they possibly know who I am? I will be the one to define that thank you very much. Fast forward a few months and Rich and I have moved to Australia. While we still don’t have any money, we live and work on a farm (I’ve spent the past week working in construction) and while I’m not made to be a farmer/construction worker, I love the freedom that comes with it. I can be completely, 100% who I am without being judged or criticized. Perhaps the most valuable thing is that I have the weekends off. Once the washing and cleaning is done, I spend each weekend doing what ever I want. I have started cooking for fun again. As can be seen in the ‘food’ category of this blog, I will be making a variety of edible Christmas gifts such as Turkish delight with roses from the garden, coconut fudge, and bottled rum cocktails. 😀
Moral of the story, You’ve got to be in it to win it. Take a risk on yourself, you might just be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
If anybody else feels like this or wants to, please share!