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Updates, and so on, and so forth

Hello Cornerers! (I need to get better at this)

Although I’m sure that blog-reading has not been the same for you in these almost two months that I’ve been missing, it’s okay now, I’m here again.

I am kind of writing this post for myself in an attempt to de-construct what has been going on in my world but in a verbosely palatable way. If you found that this hits home with you in any way, then I am glad that this shareable was relevant to you. If it didn’t, then consider this to be my way of letting you in, and maybe when you gracefully depart from these premises, you would have taken a sweet little knick-knack that might come in handy someday. Just maybe.

So these passed two to three months have been a bit turbulent and a lot has happened, and of course, being who I am I often had a lot of semi-quality time with my own head and undoubtedly, thoughts were born. I realised that it really bites losing sight of the things that I want and think are important, in exchange for catering to and investing mental energy on things that beyond superficial, ephemeral gratification, neither serve me nor actually have my care at a profound level.

A spider diagram  drawn with a black marker on ruled white paper
A (definitely exaggerated) representation of my thought processes lately.

I am of course all for enjoying things for just what they are sometimes, and I don’t want to always think too deeply about everything; but in time, things have got to give. Putting my energies in the fleeting in hopes that they will fix what was supposed to take a bit more than a glue-on job, or that they will somehow manage to  fill  deep, specifically-squiggly edged holes, was not cutting it. Nor was swaying from one numbing and/or distracting agent to another, mostly the mental kind ( the rest occasionally came in the form of Nutella).

I think it’s a common human behaviour to put off stripping down all the all the phony layers and confronting what is really happening, head-on.  And it’s not just when it comes to the things which unsettle us, but also the things we need to and might really want to do, because of looking at the perceived enormity of the work needed to be done to do it , or that it might just be a little bit uncomfortable, even if said thing could be one of the best things you could do for yourself, or at least a catalyst to make what could be the best of things happen.

And what a way for me to lose sight of important chunks of who I am! Inevitably, detracting from the things that are the most important to me and focusing on what I see as “lesser things”  would have very well made me lose sight of who I was or what I want to achieve. The way I see it, these things that we hold so dear and think to be essential probably acquired that status because they are probably also the things that make us, well, us! A good portion of them are probably the values to which we aspire to live up or to just keep.

I haven’t exactly made any huge transitions yet, but I am definitely getting there. It’s been interesting seeing myself deliberately decide that I was going to make a move; I was going to pack my things and get away from the things I just didn’t want to linger in any longer. Thinking about it now, the decision itself is rather weighty and can be compelling, for some. I talk quite a lot about self-love here and making the best of your current circumstances and so on, and so forth, so on that same token, I also want to be the one to say that when a disconnect (or two, or three) starts to materialise, it may be time to go back to the start – home, in a way.

It’s also nice to hear from you all again.

 

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Article · Body image and body positivity · Body Positivity · Interviews · Self-love

Interview: Surviving Breast Cancer at 27

Breast cancer is an illness often associated with older women and although 8 out of 10 cases of breast cancer are those of women aged 50 and over, young women can also be affected. Lauren Bash, the vice-president of Fighting Pretty, a charity dedicated to helping women going through the illness to regain confidence and feel beautiful during or after their battle with it, speaks to me from across the pond about her own battle with the illness. The now healthy 30-year-old recalls what it was like to be diagnosed with breast cancer and having to fight it at the tender-age of 27, and talks about why she is now giving back.

A pink breast cancer ribbon painted against a black background made by paint but not fully covering the light-brown/beige surface (paper) on which it is painted
Owning it in pink.

“It felt like my world was crashing down around me,” Bash says, recalling the moment she received her diagnosis. A month earlier, Bash says that she felt a “pea-sized ball” on the lower left-side of her left breast but waited until she had her annual gynaecology appointment to address it with her doctor. The doctor sent her to get a sonogram which revealed a 10cm lump which spanned from her nipple to the wall of her chest.  At that stage, she says, the lump was still suspected to be benign. “They thought it was just Fibroadenoma,” she says.  Despite the doctor’s suspicions, an MRI was still ordered and was followed by a biopsy which revealed the result that changed her life. “I had DCIS in my left breast,” Bash says. Two days before her best-friend’s wedding and four months before her own, Bash’s diagnosis could not come at a more difficult time: “I had to give a speech [at her best-friend’s wedding] and act like nothing was wrong after finding out I had breast cancer at 27 years old.”

The diagnosis also brought back unease from the past for Bash.“I watched my mum suffer through her surgery just a few years earlier, but I never imagined at the time that I would have to endure what she did,” she says. Bash says that until this day, the shock of her diagnosis feels surreal.

The then young bride-to-be went on with her treatment which consisted of a bilateral mastectomy, and this did not come without its struggles. “My breasts were my prized possessions, so to lose them almost felt like losing an arm or a leg. They made me feel sexy and confident,” she says, “it is hard to face this at any age, but when you are 27 with hopes to start a family someday with your husband, it makes you question if you will ever have the self-confidence to do that.”  The big up-side, she says, is that she did not require chemo therapy or radiation and after having the mastectomy, her treatment was complete and she was declared cancer-free soon after. She was given the all-clear over 18 months ago.

Although breast cancer is no longer a part of Bash’s anatomy, being the vice-president of Fighting Pretty still makes it a big part of her life. She says that she felt that the only way she was going to get through the trauma the illness brought was if she helped other women who also went through or are going through the same thing: “by making other women feel strong, I was going to become stronger and be able to cope with what I had just been through.” She also says that meeting women who also went through the breast cancer is “very therapeutic”, and until this day she maintains ties with women she met who also survived the illness.

These days, Bash sees every day as a blessing and won’t let a day go by without making the most of it. “Sometimes it takes such a devastating experience to realise what a good life you have,” she says.  Bash also says that she isn’t going to let the way her body changed hold her back, and even though she has hang-ups sometimes, she strives to keep moving forward. “I survived by removing my breasts, and that’s all that matters,” she says, “I look at the scars that replaced them [her breasts], it reminds me of how strong I am and what a fighter I am.”   When feeling down, Bash says she she looks to what she calls her “support system” to bring her back up. Someone who she credits for sticking around throughout her battle is her husband: “my husband has supported everything I’ve done to survive and doesn’t physically look at me any differently.”

So if you’re a young woman and you think you have breast cancer symptoms, what do you do? Bash stressed that seeing a doctor ASAP is important and says: “if something doesn’t feel right, do something about it.  Don’t wait and see what happens.” And if you already have Breast cancer, Bash says that support is available: “know that you are not alone. There are support groups and resources out there for you.”

If you want to know more about Fighting Pretty or to contribute by sending a donation or a Pretty Package, or just want to know how to get in touch, visit: http://www.fightingpretty.org.

Article · Features

Feature: Britain’s Invisible Faces of HIV

According to the National Aids Trust (NAT), the number of children under-18 estimated to be living with HIV in the UK is around 1,200 and as treatments and awareness continue to improve, this number continues to see a decline. However, because silence persists about this invisible HIV-positive community, the stigma still remains. I investigate just what it is that is keeping paediatric HIV a silent taboo.

Image

Although it is true children make only a tiny proportion of those living with the virus in the UK, HIV can still be as – if not more – destructive  for them as it is for the most at-risk groups – men who have sex with men and heterosexual, UK-based Black Africans – to whom the majority of HIV-awareness campaigns are targeted. Darshan Baskaran, a cell biologist and PhD student researching HIV says: “the only thing I am aware of [in terms of differences between the effect of HIV in children and adults] is that the progression to Aids may be quicker in children because they have a young immune system.”

For children currently living with the virus in this country, the most likely way they contracted it was through mother-to-child transmission, according to Abi Carter, the participation officer of the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA).

“Most of the children we work with were born in the 90s,” she says, and says that they don’t work with as many younger children in the organisation thanks to the relatively new introduction of routine testing of HIV in pregnant mothers which has kept mother-to-child transmission of the virus under control in recent years.  Carter adds that these days, only around one per cent of all babies born in a year to HIV-positive mothers will carry the virus.

But despite the reality that today you can don a red-ribbon in public without attracting scornful stares, at large, attitudes towards HIV and Aids and those affected by it are far from friendly. Ideas that HIV is a death sentence reserved for the promiscuous, poor and marginalised still cloud British society, and children are not exempt from these stigmas.

Although it is uncommon for children living with the virus to have contracted it sexually, many have been subject to bullying and mistreatment due to the idea that they may have contracted it that way: “we have lots of examples of young people whose statuses have been made public and they would be called ‘slags’,” Carter says.

Because many HIV-positive children are only told about their statuses when they are older, by the time they find out, Carter says, many of them would have already internalised the stigmas attached to the illness: “a lot of them are in complete denial, they don’t want to know that this has happened.” And the mothers of these children are not spared of this suffering either; they often end up shouldering the guilt that comes with both passing the virus onto their children – which may have happened unknowingly –  and not telling them at an early age that they have been infected.

Although charity organisations like CHIVA try to create safe spaces for children where stigma is curbed as much as possible, children cannot be completely sheltered from it. “We advocate that they [the children] are told from an early age about it [their HIV status]…we advocate that it’s always named,” Carter says. But she says that children are told that their status has to be kept a secret because of the stigma they could face: “a school contacted us when the HIV-status of a child became public; they were worried about the parents’ reaction.”

The misconceptions that Carter says some children and their parents have about interacting with HIV-positive people are the kind that HIV-awareness campaigns have tried to debunk time and time again. No, you can’t get HIV from sharing food with HIV-positive people, or from swimming with them, and you won’t get it from hugging or kissing them either.

But stigma and the inevitable bout of ignorance attached to it seem to not just be limited to people’s conversations. A 20-year-old Politics student who just goes by the name “Georgia” thinks that classes like her year seven sex-education class have had a part to play as well: “they taught us that it [HIV] was really easy to catch and that it would ruin our lives, and that we wouldn’t be able to live a normal life, which is completely untrue!”

She also says that she thinks that she and the other children probably left class that day with the idea that even being around someone HIV-positive would have somehow put them at risk of contracting the virus.  She later learned, however, that HIV was not the end-all she thought it was after talking to her mother, whose close friend was living with  the virus.

After that class, she says, the word “Aids” became an insult: “I remember after this [the class] there were a few of the popular boys who if they didn’t like something, they would say it was ‘Aids’, like, ‘the class is Aids’…it was just a big joke.” Georgia also says that at that time, the thought that children could contract HIV was unimaginable, unless they had been sexually-active. But now, she says, she knows that’s not true because she took it upon herself to do some research. “It should have been taught then,” she says.

So what exactly can be done to break the silence on paediatric HIV? And how can we help those who have been affected?  “Kids need to feel like they are not alone, like they’re not the only people in the country going through this,” says Carter. She also adds: “we need the people to raise awareness for themselves. The rates of HIV are increasing among the heterosexual White population.”

Georgia also thinks that awareness is key and says: “I think there needs to be a lot more awareness, especially about the fact that it is not just contracted sexually, and I think people need to know that it is no longer a death sentence.”

If you would like more information on CHIVA or paediatric HIV, visit their website  at: http://www.chiva.org.uk

Creative

Poem: In The Valley

This is a piece I wrote at the end of December, I hope you like it!

I sometimes catch myself wavering from side to side,

Not knowing if its right to stay or hide.
It would have been a lot easier if I didn’t have to care and if my convictions were always true.
But when it comes to this, can a single thought ever see me through?
I would never have thought that I would spend my night being haunted,
After all, what was, had left me daunted.

The burning desire had made me shake and quiver.
Questions, thoughts and yeses and noes have brought to surface what I yearned to keep below.
This thing, about which I wanted to be so sure,
Had washed me up and beached me onto a point of vaguely elusive closure.

Images reeling through my head of scenes from a time certainly lived,
Recalling everything I gave and got and wanted to give.
Dragging myself to territory very much earthed,
Trying to fathom exactly what it was that I had birthed.

If only, I wonder, I just let it stay put;
If only I never what it meant for this to be understood.

But here I am now, a product of it all,
Weathered in ways never thought of before.
Conflicted and confused,
looking out for every possible clue.

Because I am now shrewd and know of what exactly the journey consisted,
And know that should I re-embark on it, it would be met with greater reservation and resistance.
Yet a part of me will go back and is naggingly insistent.

So now I linger in this valley as I am slowly dragged closer to the mountain better climbed and I keep looking back.
As I wonder and visualise just what it would be like to climb the other mountain yet trying not to stumble on my tracks.

Two articles soon to follow!

Body image and body positivity · Body Positivity · Self-love · Women's issues

(Slightly Edited) What having a body while being female means + loving thy body

In this over two-and-a-half month long hiatus, this whole  “predicament” of bodies and body image has been constantly ringing in my mind and contrary to what you all might be thinking because of the way I’ve worded the first clause, it wasn’t really a bad thing .I’ve been able to yield a lot of conclusions and semi-conclusions, ask questions and  end up with thoughts pretty much still in the embryonic phase too. This post will be about the things fitting into the conclusions/semi-conclusions category.

Throughout my late-childhood and adolescence, I have pretty much grown up with the idea that as a female, it’s important for my body to look good. And no matter how body-positive members of my family were I couldn’t help but internalise a lot of that twaddle. I know what you all are probably thinking “oh no, here we go again, another clichéd body image post on the blogosphere” and you’re right, it is exactly that.

But with something like this, with so much negativity surrounding it accompanied by a very real course of toxicity served alongside, looming around every day, I’d like to say my piece. As I have managed to successfully internalise some hackneyed tat about what my body should mean and how it is expected to be, I’ve lived on for a long time as though my mind and body were almost two entities independent of each other. Like my mind and body needed to feel different to one another and to be treated that way, and in effect, nurtured exclusively from each other and that my love of one can be detached from my love of the other.

I didn’t look at my body as something that was gifted to me, equipped with all the tools I needed to function, do all the things I love and fulfil my purpose, just like my mind. Instead, I saw it as something which needed to look good and something which can be compared and scrutinised. It was only when I became ill one way or another did I realise that these fully-functional parts were not to be taken for granted.  I noticed how beautiful it looked and how comfortable it felt to have the whites of my eyes actually remain white and not be a shade of red and inflamed as it was when I had conjunctivitis. Spending a week over two years ago with my right foot blown up and gulping antibiotics after a trip to the mangroves had left me teary and vulnerable had led me to remember the blessing it was to be able to use both feet to walk. Soon of course, the sweetness of those essential reminders was rather overtaken with thoughts floating around the realms of “it looks/I wish it looked/it should look/ I am glad it looks a bit like this.” I was covertly re-directed to the idea that the focus on the way my body looked was key and inevitably, having it look as close to “right” as possible was currency I needed to pay for having it.  Although I started to grow less inclined to that idea, it often felt called-for to return to old patterns of thought.  Years of chomping down (and occasionally being  force-fed) ideas that deviating from what is “right” by an ounce, inch and even a shade sometimes, is a green-light for people shout all sorts of abuse or dish-out unwarranted, “friendly” advice and is a validator of negative self-talk and body hatred was not going to be undone easily .

Because don’t forget this women of the world, it’s essential that you stick to that vaguely-elusive, ever-changing, semi-amoeba like brand of beautiful because you need men to okay your appearance and let you know that you’re allowed to take up space. Men are monolithic creatures who cannot see beyond what you look like and only like deem very limited qualities as beautiful and you need to trap them like honey because later on, you need to fulfil your most important mission and marry one of them.  This is of course until you realise that you need to be preserved in amber for all the years to come to keep him interested with your looks. If you couldn’t detect the sarcasm in the last three sentences then I fear that you and I suffer a slight communication deficit, anyhoo….

It’s just a little bit disturbing that such a large, wonderful system which carries out amazing and barely quantifiable functions is made to stand up against other equally-wondrous systems to be valued and judged on its appearance alone. And when signs of all the wonderfulness God had allowed this system to muster up show on its surface, they’re suddenly “ugly”. Like those scabs on your knees made to protect those wounds you got after a rugged adventure at the park, or those stretch marks which are a sign that your skin was saved from exploding after you put on a bit of weight during that summer spent with grandma after an intense academic year, where you barely had to lift a finger. And I am not encouraging getting wounded and being sedentary, but I am also not standing for body-shaming and tailoring people’s values and worth solely to the choices they’ve made about what only clothes the parts of them which are really amazing – even if the clothing itself is pretty fantastic. And besides, has no one ever made a choice that wasn’t the best (or even a series of them)?

The body, like the mind, needs to be treated with love and nurtured properly, and just as we need to be in tune with our minds’ needs, we need to be in tune with our bodies’ needs as well. How can you be expected to maintain a healthy relationship with or make changes to your body if you loathe it? Loving your body doesn’t always mean that you think it’s perfect, but it does include realising and being grateful for what it’s giving you right now. If you can read this at all and have been able to scroll down your window to get this far, then you are blessed with a lot already.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying what you have at the moment and being confident with it and grateful for it; even if you do know that you need to make a change. The two thoughts can coexist and when they do, they harmonise in a beautiful way which would not only bring about a physical change, but intellectual, emotional and even spiritual changes.  And yes, that does include the outside too! You don’t need to wait until you lose/gain a stone to start acknowledging that you are good enough and that there is beauty in what you have now and treating yourself on that basis because it can even be the start of your journey to self-improvement.When you start having relaxing bubble-baths or rubbing on velvety lotion, or even getting out of bed to style your hair and put on dangly earrings just for a day spent lounging at home, the desire to be more mindful of well-being in other areas kicks in too.  And all because you knew you were worthy of that unconditionally from the start. When you also start seeing your body for the amazing machine it is with the capability to do and learn extraordinary things, it might be just a bit more likely that you’ll want to explore what its muscles have to offer you and to use them to move in ways you enjoy and maybe learn a new skill.

I remember near the beginning of primary school when I was learning about my body I was taught how important it was to have a nutritious diet so I can grow up to be strong, and little was said about appearance. I wish that discourse stuck throughout the years .  I would rather feel need to take care of what God gifted me and serve my body so it can be healthy and strong and not so I can conform to some expectation for which I don’t think I genuinely care. And  sometimes, juuust sometiiiimes, taking care of yourself and having a healthy relationship with your body can mean not depriving yourself of that bar of chocolate you really want.

Body Positivity · Growing up · Islam · Self-love

Reflections last week, empathy, beginnings and time, oh my!

So I know, I didn’t post on Wednesday and I know that the gap-long week between this post and the one before it is rather abhorrent, if you will, so my apologies to you.

Despite all of that, I still have the audacity to try to clue you in on the happenings of this past week, and you know what? I’m going to do just that.

Between this week and the last, a very long game of ping-pong was taking place inside the mushy mass of stuff inside my head that common-folk like to refer to as “brain”, and in the midst of thinking about too many things, I feel like I have learnt a lot about the way I see things and picked up some gems (I hope) along the way.

We all, and let’s admit it, have things that we are too embarrassed/feel too uncomfortable to admit to ourselves, or we’re in denial about something that’s not exactly going the way we think it should. Either way,  we’re not being very truthful to ourselves sometimes and it’s pretty understandable. We have a set of principles we to which we ascribe ourselves, and even at the smallest scale, for example, when we tell ourselves that something is “cool” to be/think/feel or not. And sometimes, just sometimes, we flout them and then we beat ourselves up about it.

Well, during this whole week that just went by (hello Monday!) I realised that there were emotions that I had that I tried to gloss over in my thought process, and I was doing things in ways that I actually don’t think are OK. And I needed confrontation and so I confronted myself, and I realised that my thought process is a lot healthier and deal that I deal with things a lot better when I am truthful to myself, because let’s think about it, I can’t really find solutions to problems that I refuse to acknowledge. And could  I really get the whole picture of something that I’m refusing to look at? Not really.

So my conclusions about related things had come to these: it’s okay to admit that you’re not completely okay with something you’re trying to convince yourself that you are. It’s okay to admit that there are issues you haven’t worked through yet and that you need time. It’s okay to admit weakness or defeat. It’s okay to admit that things are not going as planned/that your thoughts aren’t going as planned/that circumstances aren’t as linear as predicted/that you might have to change your game-plan. It’s also okay (albeit many people see this as taboo) to admit that there are parts of our character that need work. And it’s okay to not get it right from the first time.

In relation to the above, another thing that I have been getting huge doses of lesson-things from is empathy.  And honestly, when looking at things from a more empathetic lens, I feel that they just become a lot easier to work through. When you’re being empathetic,  you’re not necessarily succumbing to a circumstance, but you understand it a bit more, and that can save you heart-break. I’m not saying that it’s wise to go out there and scratch everything raw trying to find out why things worked out the way they did in a bid to “understand” them, but a bit of understanding can be a strong guiding light which will be there when you need it. And this applies to ourselves as individuals. I realised that many a time, when we are empathetic towards other people’s behaviours and ideas, we forget about our own and we go on to senselessly punish ourselves for thinking and behaving a certain way.

While I am a strong patron for self-improvement and I do believe in bettering oneself, I wholeheartedly believe that approaching yourself with understanding can clear so many things up and finally give you a kick-start on changing things for the better. No change, to my knowledge, has ever been fully effective if it came from a place of shame. Shame brings anxiety, which brings high expectations, which bring even more anxiety, which brings shame. I think you catch my drift.  If you understand yourself and work through your issues through a loving lens, you can only serve yourself better. May God Grant us all understanding, Amen.

Of course the product of that  sense of understanding towards will differ from person to person and situation to situation, and those products are up for modification as well. But, you won’t really know any of this until you actually start looking for solutions that way. Now I am not saying that what I say is the best, and I certainly won’t tell you to take it wholesale, but this is just my showing you what conclusions I have come to about certain things, and I would certainly love to hear yours.

It’s quite ironic how this post has come about now, Glory be to God, seeing that the Islamic New Year began just yesterday (I’m Muslim, in case you haven’t got the memo), and it seems like everything is coming together to show just exactly at what rate things are changing. I’m not, nor have I ever been one to have New Year’s resolutions of any kind, and I think that everyday is good for a new beginning, but this does give me a bit of perspective on time and how fast things are happening and effectively, how I must make use of it in the most efficient way possible because it’s not really waiting for me. I don’t think it’s really waiting for anyone, for that matter.

I hope you all keep sticking around for more updates and posts on this blog because soon, I’ll be doing more of the “journo” stuff that I know a lot of you want to see. I will be talking with people who do cool things around the interwebs so you’ll be getting a lot more than just my ramblings, God Willing.

Watch this space!

Body image and body positivity · Body Positivity · Growing up · Self-love · Women's issues

Poem: I want to breathe, I want to be free

Hello *insert appropriate adjective and/or newly-coined noun to describe/identify my readers*!

First off I want to apologise because this post was supposed to be published a few hours ago when it was Friday where I am but of course my intended end of the week hour-and-a-half nap had turned into a six-hour slumber. All in all, I bring to you, my second post! *Applause*

This is the latest edition  to a poem I wrote a year-and-a-half ago when the subject matter had a strong grip on me, and because it still resonates with me, I’ve decided to share it with you all here; I hope you all like it:

I want to breathe; I want to be free,

But I am told I can only do something if it results in an aesthetically pleasing me,

I don’t want to be bound to the labels on my shirt, trousers or bra,

But it’s as if no one wants to look beyond that far,

Why am I more beautiful if I am bustier, slimmer or taller?

Why can’t appreciation transcend beyond that border?

Why can’t anyone look beyond what’s skin deep, and for once, stop me from crying myself to sleep?

My reflection is ever changing and temporary, so I am going to cultivate what is preliminary,

Profoundness, zest and quirkiness,

These define my happiness!

I will only let those things affect my smile,

And if you beg to differ, I suggest you run a mile!

Everything is exactly what it’s supposed to be at the moment and is great and perfect,

And even if you really want to change, you should still live, love and work it!

For once, give your mind a break from your waist-to-hip ratio,

Play, write, draw or call a friend to say hello!

Beauty and everything that makes you never fail to amaze,

Do not depend on your body shape or face,

The shape of your heart and the contours of your soul are what truly matter,

So none reserve the right to take your feelings and toss them to a scatter.

Body Positivity · Self-love · Women's issues

What my first year at university taught me

Around this time last year as a fresher at university, I was still a bit doe-eyed and giddy from the whole university experience. Remnants of the dream of the well-rounded young woman who swipes a first-class for every assessment, keeps an immaculate flat, takes part in and super-humanly excels at every sport and still manages to be a social butterfly, turn up to classes before time looking exquisitely prim and proper, and stay in touch with old friends like  she never left secondary school, had surely lingered.  And sure enough, I was disappointed when I realised that I couldn’t smoothly surf through the tides that came (a few being courtesy of my institution, of course) like it  was something I’ve been doing ever since I was mobile. And certainly, I didn’t nail a first-class for all my coursework and exams (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to), my flat was not always spotless, I was too tired to even be involved in some of the activities in which I was enrolled sometimes, ties were severed, and lateness and/or un-ironed clothes were not very uncommon themes either.  I would also like to add that although my diet wasn’t bad enough to make me wind up with scurvy, I wasn’t exactly eating a macro-biotic/raw/whatever-people-are-doing-that-makes-their-bodies-feel-like- the-bee’s-knees diet.

And indeed, for my ridiculously high standards for myself, it went pear-shaped, in other people’s eyes, maybe not that bad, more like a sometimes slightly bottom heavy potato, but definitely the way things went sometimes, yep, pear-shaped was quite the way to describe them.

A large potato which is wider at the bottom and has a bit of a scratch or scar on it, it's placed on a dark grey kitchen counter which has light-grey specks on it.
A slightlyish bottom-heavy potato like this specimen.

And if I am honest, it wasn’t just about life at university and whatever surrounded it, it was the time in general. I can safely say that I felt like I was thrown in the deep end and had taken a 180° turn, and of course, nothing was going to be the way I had intricately planned it. Expecting myself to be a gynoid of a university student, daughter, sister, friend and citizen from day 0 was setting myself up for defeat, and did I crack? Absolutely! (<– in unison, please) one of the  tolerable  lovely people  that I met in my course last year who goes by the name Ariel enlightened me with this beautiful gem where she said something along the lines of: “ you expect change to happen, but you want it to happen the way you planned it.” And this, my readership that consists solely of people with an amazing taste in blogs, was exactly what bore a chunk of the responsibility for the sandpaper-feeling rough patches I was put through in my first year.

As expected, when things got ugly, they were horrifyingly ugly. But, although thinking about some of those experiences still feels raw enough to make me shudder, I still stand by the fact that they weren’t the worst and were probably not the most difficult to overcome, even though I didn’t know exactly how they could be overcome or that it was possible for that to even happen. But sandpaper scrubs things nicely and makes them all shiny and pretty and (cliché alert) it pretty much did the same for me. I would not, despite some things being very hard, change the course of things because they’ve moulded parts of me into aspects that I like very much about myself. Despite turbulent circumstances, I had an amazing time and fantastic learning experiences because adversity showed me that nothing was going to come handed to me in a silver-platter, sugar-coated, with those extra-drizzles of treacle, just no. And pushing for things to happen when they seemed out of the question and persuading myself to do things when I just didn’t want to was quite fun as well, and I don’t think I would have known that I had any fight left in me if things went otherwise. Even if I did little of the brave fighty-stuff, because at least I know now that I can do them.

What I think I am trying to say in this long-winded post from part two of my “you’re an actual adult now and things have to change and you are responsible for them” cave, is that my dear fresher-sapiens and those transitioning  at large, it’s pretty likely that you will have your fair share trials and tribulations. You might even have to face some of the uglies that you had hiding away in dormancy head-on and work your way around them, but you will learn so much. And learning about yourself will be bittersweet too, but the sweet outlives the bitter. The best part of this all is that you get to decide what direction to take, what you’ll discard and what you’ll take with you from all of this.

Wherever the next stop this metaphorical train of change will drop you, I hope you have a great journey! I have a feeling it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Thanks to all of you who had tuned in for this post until the end (well done you!), I hope you’ll be stopping by to visit me here pretty often ^.^ A special thanks goes to a very special peer and general crazy person, Kristina, who induced this blog’s delivery and helped me  make the birth of this post a bit quicker! You can check out her newest blog which she devotes to chronicling details about life out of the comfort-zone here.