Thursday, 1 December 2016

Little thoughts.

I'm going round in circles in my head. I keep having the same thought processes. I forget that I've been to these thoughts before and I try to act on them only to see that I already have.

I did it just now. I had an idea to write about writing and writer's block. I open my blog. I did that last week. I've stopped thinking of new things.

Actually, that's technically a lie. I'm only lacking in new thoughts I can develop and process and get something out of. I am full of day dreams and trivialities and little fears and little things. They're all little things, I think that's why I keep forgetting that I've been to them before.

It's funny, isn't it? How sometimes the mind gets stuck in a rut. It's not a dangerous rut, I'm not sinking into anything bad. It's just really very boring.

I'm hoping to get some big, juicy, fabulous thoughts soon. I'm hoping. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Lazy and afraid.

I've got this thing about writing fiction: I can't do it. I can't get myself to do it. I think I'm afraid of it being really, really god-awful. Most of my non-fiction is something I don't think about. I just do it, it just comes out because it's coming straight from my head. It is my real thoughts in real time. Fiction comes from somewhere else. I'm not always sure where that is.

I have written fiction before. I got to 50,000 words of a novel when I was 13 before I became self-conscious and wouldn't dare touch it anymore. I always think of that age as my golden age for creativity. I made short films and wrote stories and cared deeply about what I was doing and about nothing else. I didn't care what people thought of what I did, I just wanted to do it. All my ideas were tangible and I was very productive with them. I remember staying up until way into the early hours of the morning writing a chapter that had come into my head. When did I last do something like that?

I'm too scared to do it now. I care whether it's good or not. I want it to be good the minute it goes onto the page. I want immediate satisfaction from it. I've become lazy, I'm less willing to put in the effort. But the worst thing is that I'm not willing to give it up. 

I have a constant cycle of feeling guilty for not paying attention to any creative writing, putting in minimal effort for half an hour every couple of weeks and then waiting for the guilt to creep back in. I know that I am actively stopping myself from writing. I am afraid and lazy and I care what people think. How do I start to undo that? 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Dark Year.

Ah, 2016, the Dark Year of the West. I think I've had a more emotional response to Leonard Cohen's death today than I did to Trump's "victory". Perhaps because we lost another artist contributing insight and beauty to the world, and yet we continue to gain more hatred and more stupidity. I don't have much to say about Trump. I've said what I think of him. I think I repeated the words "piece of shit" about twenty times whilst watching the election results unfold. If you really emphasises the "shit" with as much disdain as you can muster then it says all you need.

Really I'm not going to say much more because he's a terrorist and I'm not going to say that I'm scared. I'm not scared because I don't live in America and I'm not gay/African American/ Mexican American/Muslim American. I'm a woman, and I lament with other women across the pond that their president hates them. But I will not say I'm scared.

I don't want to polarise, because that is equally as dangerous. I don't want to say them = bad, us = good. It's tempting to think that, and sometimes I do, but that is not a solution. There must be something we can do or say to stop this rise of hatred and fear and ignorance. Do we allow ourselves to consider why they voted Trump? Do we give reason to this madness? Yes. Of course we do. Something in that country, in this climate, made those people vote for an incompetent pig. Why?

I am contributing to the Trump pollution on our social media, I know. But we have to talk about it. We have to work it out. What just happened? What does this mean? What do we do now?

I can't make any concrete thoughts about this. I keep asking questions without any glimmer of an answer. I think we are waiting in limbo now, the western world held in suspense, floating through the air as if in an explosion and our minds are slowing it down and the sound is too loud to make a noise. I don't know what the aftermath will be, but I know you can always clear it up. We are not hopeless, we are just confused.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Toppling on the high seats of our privilege.

Sitting in a room full of white, middle-class Cambridge students discussing the issue of cultural appropriation in literature made me feel eerily uncomfortable. The discussion was lively and interesting until parts of it were dismissed as nonsense which would have only been an appropriate response if every one of us weren't toppling on the high seats of our privilege.

This is not to say that white, well-off people shouldn't discuss race issues - they absolutely should be trying to work that one out - but with a lack of any other voice the conversation feels superficial and very awkwardly distant from ourselves. None of us were going to leave the room and live the reality of what we spoke about. It was a bit like a group of men sitting in a room discussing the rights of women over their bodies and leaving without gaining anything much from the conversation. Mainly because it wasn't allowed to finish. In fairness, we were not in that room to discuss cultural appropriation because it was a lesson and there were other topics to move on to. But, when we delved into the topic of race how much were we really thinking about it? How sensitive did we intend to be? Why did I feel squirmish about it, wanting to defend the missing representatives?

I can't think of how to raise this issue without sounding like I want to ban all white groups from casually discussing race. I should point out that no one in that room was racist, I think most of us felt the same way, but it was the dismissal that worried me. I wanted more thought on it, more working out of opinions and ideas. I didn't want anyone to wave my thinking aloud off as "nonsense" before I'd worked out what I was saying.

I think what I'm trying to say is that what I was saying, and what most of us was saying, was unfinished and so we went away with an uncomfortable question mark hanging over our heads. The topic had so much weight that to wave it off without any conclusion or bettered understanding felt wrong. If we were going to lack representation then I'd rather we talked about it probably. Obviously we weren't going to change the world in that room with that conversation, but we had a chance of developing ideas. I just feel that in an ideal situation we should have stuck to that development.

I feel that ultimately there was something missing. From our high seats of privilege we could have taken away something really cool from that discussion and, well, I just don't think that we did.

Friday, 28 October 2016

The English Student.

If I haven't already said that I now do an English degree: I am studying for an English degree. Someone said to me the other day that they were torn between history and English but eventually decided that with English they didn't really see the point. 'What is the point?' they asked. 'That is the point.' I said, not really sure what I meant but thinking it sounded clever and elusive.

Thinking about it an English degree is probably the most selfish degree you can do. For three years I will swan around reading books and making grand statements about them that ultimately mean nothing whilst my truly clever friends learn how to save lives and how to solve the economic crisis and reverse global warming (hopefully). What do I give back from learning how to read?

Reading English is selfish because you're there to improve your own understanding of the world around you, of literature and of ideas and of human emotions. Here I am trying to improve my own brain, so far for the good of only me. How do I return the favour of an improved brain?

I know I'm a first year, and worrying about what comes next is futile, and I'm not even really worrying. I think I'm just wondering why I'm here. What am I getting from this for £9000 a year? Why did I choose this course? Who will it make me at the end of it?

I bloody love reading so that's the main reason I'm here. I love Shakespeare and Donne and Spark and Larkin and all of them. I love all of them even if they're rubbish. I'm here to work out if they're rubbish. I'm here to work out why I like them. I'm here to think and think and think about it all. And that is selfish, and I haven't worked out its meaning yet, but for now I really don't have to.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Oversharing is my best flaw.

I think if I were to pick a person in my life who definitely 'overshared' their stories, their opinions, their anxieties it would be me. It would obviously be me; I write about subjects that deeply trouble me and share it on the Internet where I can never take it back. Oversharing is my best flaw. 

Is it a flaw? I get a lot from it. I connect with people and create friendships through sharing. I tell people openly about my life and the way I am because that is how I understand them. Obviously I don't tell them anything intimate, but I also don't hold anything back. If I keep things to myself, things that worry me, it makes me ill.

I also share a lot on this blog, and in other writing, because I am not ashamed of it. Everything I write about is something that I want other people to know. Last week I spent a while thinking about whether I should publish a post because I was scared that it was too much. I shared moments of real vulnerability that had happened behind closed doors with people I barely knew. I didn't want it to be whiney, either; "oh poor me, pity me, pity me." I just wanted to write about it, to express it, and to share whatever came out. I made the right decision; sharing brought me kindness and friendship and connection. I regret nothing in that post. 

I share myself with people because I enjoy the connectivity it brings me. It means I have less things in my mind to be afraid of, because I can release them easily. I don't fear judgement, because it doesn't matter. I fear rejection, because it makes me vulnerable. But still, I believe, I am better open to the world, arms stretched, ready to take everything in. 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Firstly there's panic.

I think I've written enough about my anxious disposition for it to be very clear how terrifying coming to university would be for me. I think it's terrifying for most people. Here is the room you will live in for the next year; here are the people you will be friends with for the next three years; here is the false start of your adult life. I just wasn't expecting to revert to such heightened anxiety as I would feel as a child.

I thought on the first day that the crying when my parents left (on their part too) was pretty minimal for what I could be feeling. I thought on the second day when I felt quite hungover that I was bravely ignoring the tension in the pit of my stomach reminding me of past school residential trips. I was terrified of school residential trips.

On the third day, however, I realised pretty quickly that I was absolutely not okay with being in this strange new place, with these nice but unknown new people, and I felt almost drowned with the terror that came with this realisation. Or did the terror come before?

I went to my new, strange room to experience old, recognisable panic attacks and begged my parents to come and take me home. I went to this room to sob about the horrible strangeness of it all, and I locked myself in the toilet to do the same. I rushed passed people filing into the drugs and alcohol talk, telling them I'd only be a second, whilst desperately hoping the nurse would give me a good enough excuse not to cry in front of a room full of people. I burst into tears as soon as I entered the nurse's office. I couldn't tell her why I was there for a good few minutes. All I could say was "I'm so embarrassed, I'm so sorry."

Mum kept offering to come and see me, to come and calm me down. I was too scared that if she did I wouldn't be able to let her go without me. That I'd pack up the car and demand she take me home.

Eventually, after the fourth time I called her crying that day she made the decision for me. "Don't worry about wanting to come home," she said, "I wouldn't let you anyway."

An hour and a half later she was there. I calmed down for a moment, but I'd made myself so sick with worrying that I'd entered that vicious cycle of fear = illness = fear = illness. I begged her to stay the night, I was absolutely paralysed with panic. We spent the night watching iPlayer on her phone using 3G and she coped with the noise from a corridor inhabited with new freshers late into the night and then we finally fell asleep.

And then, in the morning when I woke up and she was getting ready to drive back home I realised I was very, very calm. I didn't feel physically sick with anxiety. I was going to let her leave without me, I didn't even question it.

Now, only a week later, it feels as if none of that actually happened and the emotional twinge from the memory is more like remembering a bad dream. I actually feel happier and more peaceful than I have in a while. The sudden disappearance of fear feels almost heavenly. My chest isn't tight, I don't need to run off to cry every half an hour, I've stopped feeling completely afraid.

I'm not expecting to have suddenly cured myself of all anxiety in the last week, I don't think my life is now emptied of all emotional crises. But I'm just really, really happy that I didn't go home because I'm really, really happy that I'm here. And I'd like to tell all the crying Mollies that it's definitely 100% worth it to stick at it because the crying doesn't last. The fear doesn't last, it never does. I think I'm learning to remember that.