40 days left: new beginnings

I started my day with coffee. I keep forgetting how much coffee numbs my appetite so now I’m sat with a somewhat gnawing empty feeling: a desire to eat met with the practical limitations of not having much in the house (perhaps this is the training I need to prepare myself for student life again).

The idea of counting down to things has always unnerved me a little- kind of like the reality of having a sand timer by your side and with each grain of sand descending you’re more aware of the ceaseless passing of time. For my sanity, I put a countdown app on my phone to mark when I will be finished with my job and thus embarking on this next stage of my life. Every day notifications will pop up with each one a day less than the one previous. 40 days. 

So many of my earlier posts were centred on home and identity and the complex yet symbiotic relationship between the two. Confusion and a lack of certainty seemed to be the defining features and maybe a slight feeling of resentment, “how had I ended up back here” and “what do I do to get out” being the two most pressing questions on my restless mind. 

At work, I broke down. The mixture of exhaustion combined with the realisation that I would once again be going sort of overwhelmed me.  I found myself sat in the office with my slightly bemused line manager dabbing my face with my blazer sleeve. Anyone who knows me knows I hate crying, not because the act itself embarrasses me but because I have an “ugly crying voice”; something I tell everyone when I find myself in these revealing moments. Even when I’m at my most raw I still possess the unwitting ability to trivialise myself with these cartoonish worries. Naturally, she was confused to find me in this state. One moment I had been eating my satsuma the next I was reclining in the chair with red cheeks and a stuffy nose. Rather prophetically she said maybe I was apprehensive. If we look at my journey from arriving home to working full-time at a school in the midst of a pandemic (the union between covid and education has been a chaotic union to say the least), I have to celebrate the way in which I have managed to effortlessly find my place. Eager to dismiss her comments and not admit that I am more emotionally affected by this departure – I was quick to say “no, no I can’t wait to go”. There’s no harm in admitting that you want out but that you will miss a once unfamiliar environment that you became comfortable with. 

We all victim to this idea that too much comfort can be a bad thing. We should keep moving onto bigger and better things- we’re raised in that culture of wanting more and feeling somewhat underdeveloped if we’re not constantly pushing the boundaries of our own success. The pandemic has meant we all naturally slowed down. Whether you liked it or not our fast-paced lives that we were once so accustomed to have changed. Some people may enjoy and even in fact prefer this adjustment. 

There’s a certain and justifiable fear for me at the moment as a co-worker put it: I’m leaving Wolverhampton, a relatively small city, that I have lived in throughout lockdown for London post-lockdown. Those anxieties you get on the first day of school are how I feel. Even at twenty-three, I feel like the nerves you experience as a child don’t leave you, you just become way better at masking them with confidence and a visible self-assuredness (that may or may not be a foil).

I have been in education for a year but also out of education for a year. I haven’t written essays other than on this blog that doesn’t require any additional reading other than if I choose to clip at my own words and self-edit. I feel out of the loop, I jumped off the treadmill and now I have to try and get on it whilst it’s still going. 

New cities mean new beginnings. I have friends in the city but also there’s so much unmarked territory and opportunity. The nauseating mixture of excitement and terror. I know I need this and I don’t want to stay but I somehow feel like I’m priming myself for London and trying to get myself ready (whatever that means). As though, I still feel like the unfinished product and if I’m not finalised by the deadline I won’t be able to make the best of it. 

Rationalising these thoughts as they pass through your mind at a meteoric speed can be difficult. As a fairly logical person, I’m able to unravel and attach meaning to worries when they need meaning and also dismiss when they’re unwarranted and not welcome (but it’s still hard).

So what’s the solution? 

Maybe there isn’t one.

All my life I have been raised with this pragmatic and solution-driven dogma. When you’re younger the need for this is more pressing, it prevents danger and keeps you on the right track. Where do we draw the line as adults between conformity and good choices vs. risk and slight chaos. With age, I realise I naively enjoy being a bit chaotic. The freedom to be spontaneous and not have my life mapped out but perhaps this chaos is still deemed permissible by myself because I still have money in the bank and a home to call on if I need it.  

There will always be worries and uncertainty wherever I am- these abstract concepts aren’t limited to certain places, times, or people. 

New beginnings don’t necessarily have to be built to be this grand thing and the need to put places on a pedestal can sometimes lead to an anticlimax. As much as I have been itching to leave,  I feel like this time home has been the therapy I didn’t know I needed till I got it and for that I am grateful.


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