In the day since I last updated I have completely reprioritised my schedule. I have been typing up my notes for the reflective journal – or rather, staring at them and trying to figure out what I meant. I’m going to finish my workshop’s zine next term. I am going to change my presentation to an issue I feel uncomfortable talking about, but it’s something that’s in my mind a lot. And probably something I need to address.
At the moment, I’m struggling to be professional on my course. I am feeling a lot of emotion in the sessions and I’ve been regularly triggered since the start of this month. However, I think I have also done a lot of healing and made a better effort of acknowledging my need for self-care.
Reading through my notes, I recognise things I have written while I was depressed or anxious. I recognise that if I’m feeling low when I am reflecting on my course experiences that I frame them in a very negative way. For example, I see my fear of saying goodbye to the Rocket artists this week as a sign that I’m not equipped to work with people and I probably need to climb back into my data entry hole and not engage with other humans. Which, when you read this, looks like an overreaction but that is just the way my brain is working.
Another thing I’m noticing is that my train of thought does not stop until it goes to negative places in my past. A passing comment about grammar and punctuation I overheard from another conversation outside my group reminded me of how I used to find the shape of ampersands so pleasing that I used them whenever I could. I knew that I was using them incorrectly, but I loved them and I didn’t think using them would bother anyone. But a colleague from an investment bank decided one day to dictate words to me when I was writing emails during our training sessions. She would not let me use the ampersand, she keep saying “Write the word and. It’s A N D… A N D. C’mon you can do it.” But I was freaking out because she ruined the consistency of my email history and I wanted to challenge her tone but I was too afraid.
I wanted to challenge her because I get fed up of people assuming anything I do is because I don’t know any better – I know things I do are atypical but I weigh these things up. I do these things when I feel safe to do so. I used the ampersand in an email because it was an informal email – to a colleague I get on with from my personal account. When I emailed a client I used “and” and I sent from a group email address. When I write an letter, of course I am as formal as I can be. I could not bring myself to say any of these things to her. And this frequently happens, it’s easy to keep quiet because explaining my reasoning feels too overwhelming.
I frequently talk/write about how proud and surprised I am that I am studying at university. This feeling hasn’t changed. I don’t think it will. And for that reason, I often feel displaced. I thought I’d eventually begin to feel like I am entitled to be in the place I occupy but any setback just makes me question how I managed to get here. I still have the words my family ringing in my ears; “University is not for the likes of us.” I constantly feel like I’m in a sushi bar. I remember reading about a sushi bar opening in one of my sister’s teenage girl magazines back in the 1990s and I remember thinking that only fashionable successful London-based career women would go there with their friends. So whenever I go to a sushi bar I feel like an imposter in a royal court. Obviously I now know that working class people can to university and sushi bars! But knowing and feeling are completely different things.
I’m taking time and care when I reflect on my failures now. I’ve had a few bad weeks now and I feel it when talking to people – I feel like I’m so far behind everyone else and it makes me reluctant to keep pushing forward. I know I need to shake off this mindset. Am I failing? Or am I looking to be a failure because it gives me an excuse to give up?