Too close for comfort: being back home

Week two of this whole blog thing and I can feel myself itching towards procrastination.  I promised myself I would organise future posts but like all well-meaning plans they don’t necessarily get executed as you would have hoped. A large Sunday dinner and wine has left me somewhat in comatose feeling quite tired but also with a crippling anxiety surrounding the idea of sleep. Sleeping means, I have to admit that tomorrow is Monday- right now ignorance is bliss although each passing minute takes me closer to that 6:30 am alarm.

With talks of a new local lockdown for Wolverhampton and the once again familiar feeling of entrapment, it feels apt to discuss how being back home has unearthed this feeling of being trapped. I have a tendency to overexaggerate so describing how I feel as being “trapped” seems kind of unnecessary but since I don’t drive and live in a built-up estate in the middle of Wolverhampton- my exaggeration feels justified.

 The months since I came back home in February have rolled steadily on and I find myself (scarily) feeling very comfortable in my little patch of the city. Wolverhampton is not the most interesting of places but whenever anyone takes the piss out of it, I am always quick to defend the accent (Wolves ay we), the fact that the city is not Birmingham (quote Londoners saying “Oh Wolverhampton, basically Birmingham yah?) and on a more personal note my slightly less than Country Files area of Wolverhampton that once saw a man pushing a microwave in a pram. Much of my anxiety towards being home stems from my own discomfort surrounding my identity and how I fit here- even as a child and teenager I knew I didn’t really fit into the city and that I wanted to get far away.

I am proud to be working class and the first in my generation to go to university but with this pride comes a sort of imposter syndrome now I am back. This is not helped by my unfounded belief that I am far behind friends that are now living and working in London or that have stayed in Bristol pursuing further study. Being back home feels like I have admitted defeat. Although this is definitely not true there’s nothing like an old childhood room and incessant nagging from your Mom to make you regret your decision to stay back home- especially when you have wafer-thin walls and no personal space making arguments impossible by virtue of the two-bed semi-detached house layout.  

 I write this to anyone who like me is living in an area they don’t identify with or working in a job that isn’t perhaps part of their five-year plan. Use the time to get closer to this part of your identity to get a bitter taste of reality. For me, this is made all the clearer now the rose-tinted lenses of avocado on toast brunches in Bristol have been swapped for challenging work in a secondary school and a city where drug addiction is debilitating, not glamorous.

Here everything that matters to me is cheaper: alcohol (single g&t £3.50), Uber and charity shops. I have never felt so out of place but also so liberated by facing all the things that I struggled with growing up. University granted me with so much but I realise that my background can and does empower me, it makes my achievements (in the least pretentious way) all the more significant because I have had to go against the current to obtain them. Why should we feel shame? I grew up in a single-parent household, live in a lower socio-economic area- no I didn’t have a private education. I bypassed being taught Latin and playing lacrosse but with my arguable setbacks, I built resilience, networks, and experiences myself through hard work.

I feel as though this post is more of a prologue- there are definitely topics within this that I have very casually touched upon but that do require more thinking in terms of execution. I recently started a new job and so my brain is slightly fuddled having spoken constantly to students between the ages of 11-16. Nonetheless, I am happy to have written something even if it does feel like post-alcohol drivel.

Before I continue rambling- I say what my Grandad always used to say to me the “girl done good”. That girl is me- I have done good. Good might not mean living in my edgy flat in North London (cannot believe I actually typed that) right now, good right now means building up savings for my travels and being grateful for the chance I have been given in my new job (6:30 am starts are worth the experience even if I pry my eyes open with pens). Whatever “good” is, it isn’t a fixed concept- circumstances change and dealing with the ebbs and flows of life with an open mind I think is probably the best way to be.

Weekend love from my desk,

Ebm x

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