A year from now…

I probably shouldn’t be thinking about this after less than a week of writing this blog, but have you ever stopped and wondered where you’ll be a year from now? This is generally a “New Years Eve/Day” thing I know, but we all know that: we’ll probably be drunk/hungover/with our families/writing New Years resolutions… But on any old day?

I’ve just browsed through my Facebook to figure out what I was doing this time last year. I don’t have anything for the 30th, it probably wasn’t important enough for Facebook to put it on my Timeline, but on the 24th I had my first Skype with an American friend who had been an exchange student here. Me and her don’t speak anymore, we had a silent falling out/growing apart and she moved to Korea. On the 28th I went out with two girlfriends, one had been teaching in Germany and the other was a coursemate. I don’t talk to them anymore either, the teacher moved back to Preston and we had a falling out over a guy (I tried to reconcile recently only for her to start making comments about me on Twitter) and the other friend had a mental breakdown and I believe I wasn’t helping her situation. Well, put it this way, the police ended up getting involved and agreeing I shouldn’t speak to her.

It’s sad really, it’s probably not how I expected to look back at the year. It’s definitely not how I foresaw it when I’d been looking forward I imagine. It’s been an up and down year yes, and I’ll probably go into that on New Years Eve! But that specific date, they were good memories which are almost bittersweet.

So the 30th December 2013. What I know is I’ll have (hopefully) survived third year and handed in my dissertation in April. Though I’ll be missing it to go to America for two months, in July my graduation will be held at the Guild Hall, Preston. I’ll officially finish up as a student and move out of halls in May to go to work in a summer camp in America, after completing the Great Manchester 10km for a second time. I’ll probably have cried an unbelievably amount of times saying good bye to university friends and then to camp friends. By December I should be settling down at home, which I imagine will be back in the Isle of Man. Scrounging until I find a job.

I’ll be 22 and a grown up.

Now that’ll be scary.

Advertisements

The Insanity of a Third Year

Unless you’ve been to university or are currently studying there (and by studying, I mean third year or above) you probably won’t believe me when I say what I’m going to say. Seriously. But I well and truly think I’m going mad (and I apologise now for my odd language, I’m currently watching Tim Barton’s Alice in Wonderland and it’s sticking with me!)

But back to the point…

Most people who haven’t been to university would probably assume I’m drunk, or at least I’ve been drinking too much lately. I wish they were right because then at least the mental tiredness would be worth it. But from first year, I never put in much effort. In fact, it probably started back with GCSEs: I just didn’t care.

There, I said it.

I’m not proud of it. I mean, I know I could have been a straight A student if I had tried, at least at GCSEs, but I just didn’t. For a lot of reasons but mostly due to laziness.

Then I came to university and that was all going to change. I’d missed my chance to go to the University of Liverpool (an offer I had been repeatedly told I wouldn’t get and did against the odds, only to throw it away) and I was going to make up for that. Well, that motivation lasted until the first introductory lecture in Archaeology where I quickly decided I was never going back. Sport was similar, except this time it was due to the massive 20:1 boy:girl ratio (me being the only girl.) By the second week I hadn’t attended any of the lectures, though I had managed to change half my combined honours to my current course in Education. It was the other one, the Sport, that I was currently skiving and avoiding the awful emails from my lecturer. Finally I got the Letter. My attendence had hit such a low that I was on a warning. I needed a meeting.

Yes, the girl who was never sent to the headteacher in her life was about to be kicked out of university.

Well, long story short I ended up studying BA (Hons) Education and Religion, Culture and Society (RCS). By the end I gained a 2:2 but thankfully that wouldn’t count towards my final grade, it just meant I passed into second year and could drop the RCS part of my degree.

Second year now this was where it was all going to change, time to get my head down- this year counted. This time the Letter didn’t come through until Christmas (oh, and then an email from a lecturer requiring a meeting for the same reason) and again I weasled my way out. This time I managed to scrap through with 63% (or a 2:1).

As you can see, I’ve not been the top student. So why is third year going to change me? Well, let’s put it this way: We’re now in the Christmas holidays which means we’ve been at university around 10 weeks. I am currently on 100% attendance (in all my modules) and scoring in the 70s with my assignments. I’ve managed to hand in three drafts (out of three) all at least a week before the draft deadline and even been to a tutorial. I’m the one of only three people who chose, and were able, to undertake a Double Dissertation. For the past 12 weeks (including the holidays) I’ve made it to the library at least three days a week for at least a couple of hours plus carrying a part time job where I work 18.5 hours and another job where I work ad hoc.

In all honesty I’m amazing myself. I don’t go out anywhere near as much anymore and it simply doesn’t appeal to me. I went out the other week with a mate to the Student Union bar and everyone constantly joked at me not being in the library and I actually felt weird.  All my previous third year friends have been the types to cram their dissertations a week before the deadline, you’d suddenly see the library spilling over with stressed third years breaking all the printers. You’d then see the odd library “regular”, those people who were the reason the library has showers. They’d pull alnighters and survive on biscuits and Red Bull only leaving to go to their lectures.

I can’t say anything’s changed. It’s purely habit which is probably getting me through, which is why when I miss a few days in the library I really struggle to get any work done. But I wish it had happened earlier!

My Four Post Confession: Trichotillomania

Considering barely anyone I’m friends with know about this (or at least openly comments on it) I decided it’s finally time to push ahead and speak about it. Or at least write a blog that barely anyone reads. It’s a safe start.

According to Boot’s medical website, WebMD, Trichotillomania is:

“A mental health disorder that involves an irresistible urge to pull out hair.”

In my own terms? I’m some crazy chick who pulls out her eye lashes and eye brows when I start imagining bad things in my head.

In my mum’s words: “A freak.”

I started doing it when I was in year 6, so around the age of 11. I was sat in the class room, at the top end of the “U” shaped tables and a girl had gone up to the teacher saying something was stuck in her eye lashes. “Go and wash them out, just don’t pull at them.”

With my little sister, circa. 10 years old.

Before it was triggered

“Just don’t pull at them…” My ironic ability to do as other people are told not to is beyond belief. I don’t remember my first pull specifically, but I did go through high school with no eye brows and no eye lashes. And since I didn’t wear make up I couldn’t disguise it, in fact (silly me) I assumed no-one noticed.

Until year 11 when I had a huge fight with my best friends and suddenly they were all making “at least I have eye brows” comments on Facebook. Not that the fight itself wasn’t enough to trigger an anxiety attack and therefore the “trich”.

After

After

It was actually my mum who introduced me to the fancy medical term. Until then, she’d labelled me a “freak of nature” and I “seriously needed help”… Just want every teenage girl wants to hear. Apparently she’d been in the office at her work, my school ironically, and she’d noticed her friend doing it. My mother, the caring soul she is, turned around and said “Oh, do you get bored to?” This was a 40 year old man she’d grown up with, who’d dated her older sister when they were teenagers, and yet I can imagine that comment wasn’t too appreciate. But apparently he explained the medical stuff behind it and during one (typical) fight my mum shouted this at me.

3

 

So I was a freak, there was just a medical term for it. Wonderful.

Then I was reading a magazine one day, one of those girlie, teenager ones with real life stories thrown in. There was an anonymous entry about a girl who had no eye lashes or eye brows- she was exactly like me. She’d described all her ways of trying to stop which mainly consisted of sleeping with googles on and wearing falsh eye lashes. But that didn’t help me and I had only given in to drawing on my eye brows- there’s even a message from a “friend” in my year book to “Miss Drawn on Eyebrows”… They’d be scousebrows now, but they weren’t fashion back then.

When I was 16 I got with my boyfriend. I’d already explained my “condition” to him over MSN one day, which was nerve racking. I’d just asked him if he knew what it was and he googled it (this being the same guy who took an hour to click onto what “that time of the month” meant). He didn’t really react which was weird for me and when we got together I guess I stopped, or at least eased up.4

I can’t say I really noticed but I think that was the point. I was so used to drawing on my eye brows by this point that I hadn’t noticed my actual eye brow hairs growing back through. I guess I was happy, settled, I knew it was triggered by anxiety so it made sense. Then we broke up two years later and voliá, it all started again.

This time I took my mum’s advice and went to the doctors. From my research though I started figuring I had depression (admittedly the “anxiety” theory hadn’t settled in yet) but going to a doctor, or at least my doctor, on your own claiming to have depression wasn’t a great idea. He literally laughed in my face, said that it was a typical teenage thing and I looked beautiful with my make up on (I wasn’t wearing any.)

It took me two more years to get the guts to go again, this time I was at university and I’d hit a low point. Though I was still not as bad as I had been in high school (at any point, I had a trace of eye brows) I feared getting back there. This time my doctor was a lot more sympathetic, but said that before she wanted to give me drugs she wanted to send me for counselling. I agreed…

And then the appointment letter arrived and I threw it in the bin.

It wasn’t until this summer I properly spoke about my condition with my peers as such. I went to Ibiza with a friend and her two friends and they wanted to give me a make over. Like I said, I don’t wear make up so this was pretty exciting- until they mentioned false eye lashes. I freaked inside, but managed to calmly say “But I don’t have any eyelashes, will they stick on?” I impressed myself to say the least but the most impressive part was that when I explained why I didn’t have any, one of the girls actually named the condition. She had it to, with her arms.

Wow…

Besides my mum’s friend, I’d never even know of anyone with it never mind met them. Suddenly I knew what it was like for people who asked me, I was shocked and probably didn’t act in the best way but it was more of the “there’s others!” reaction to the “ew, you pull your arm hairs?”

When I came back to university my best friend began asking me, I can’t remember why it came up. I think it was discussing self harming (since some do class trich as a self harming method… weirdly enough) and I told her. She got so excited, apparently her dad has the condition to and she’d always wanted to ask someone about it. I then explained it to a colleague at work who simply started discussing her own anxiety. Suddenly, I realised I’d stopped doing it again, or at least to a lesser extent (I can’t honestly say a month’s gone by without me doing it slightly).

Personally, I found speaking about it to people who wanted to know really helped because as long as they tried to act normal about it I was happy to explain. That was my problem with counselling, I don’t think I could deal with someone digging into all my old problems when me thinking about them is the trigger. But there is comfort online, especially in blog’s like Beckie0 who I actually discovered through Youtube on this fantastic video fully explaining the condition in her own words:

So I’m not afraid of the condition anymore. It is me. I don’t particularly like it, and I can’t say I’m proud of it. But if there’s one common thing I keep hearing about it is that the only way you’ll defeat it is by accepting it. That stops the anxiety and therefore stops the urge to pull.

Now just to get rid of all the other triggers!

What are you without a past?

Growing up has made me realise one thing for sure: that I am proud of where I’m from. Not that I particularly cared for the Isle of Man when I was younger, in fact, the endless annual trips around the local tourist sites became tiresome. And endless (seriously, in ways of history and culture the Manx do it well!) Every summer my step dad would buy an annual family ticket which allowed you access to all the Manx Heritage sites: Peel Castle, Castle Rushen, the Laxey Wheel and all the rest.

When you hit 16, you grow out of it.

But coming to university is usually the clincher. University, or generally moving away off the island, proves the Manx from the “come overs” and the inbetween:

The Manx: These are the ones who can trace their ancestry back to… Well, let’s just say there’s no “come overs” in their blood line. They could have a slightly snobbery side to them- or at least an alcoholic islander’s version of snobbery- like my grandad who put up a fight every time my mum dated someone who wasn’t a Manx. Otherwise they could be like a few of my friends who just didn’t know how to live off the island. Those who chose to attempt university generally ran back home straight after Freshers and began courses at the Isle of Man College or with Open University. It’s the smallness of the island that they need, their family around them and simply knowing everyone one. We don’t do “meeting new people” well.

The Inbetweens: This is where I count myself. When you talk about those who take advantage of the Isle of Man Government paying our tuition fees, it’s generally in order to escape. For us, there’s nothing left on the island that we haven’t done/seen/heard and we want to see how the other half lives. Add into that the select courses the College is able to offer compared to the vastness of the degrees available across the water and we’re hooked. However we don’t just get up and forget. Just today I had a conversation with a guy at work who was once stationed at Jurby airfield and wow, did he get the “come over” label shouted about wherever he went. I wasn’t surprised, in fact I told him the island hadn’t changed very much since them. We’re still very much stuck with our values. And I know that in a few years I’ll move back, but first I want to establish myself, and my career, where the opportunity is.

The Come Overs: Now, I don’t use this label as the one that I named in the above paragraph. But it’s a similar concept. A “come over” in the Isle of Man is someone who isn’t Manx and moves to the island. For us, that’s a big change- like I said, the Manx are stuck in their ways. Not that we’re not nice or anything, but it might be a shock to the system depending on who you are, what you’re like, where you’re from… Typical for anywhere I guess. But in this case, I refer to someone who literally does escape off the island. And this is actually quite rare. In this case, I mean someone who leaves and never mentions their heritage. In fact, if say they were half Manx and half English, they would refer to themselves as solely English as I would refer to myself as solely Manx.

The one person I met who introduced me to that type of person claimed he hated the island and he was planning to move to New York, and if someone is planning that big you know they want to escape. He managed to make it to the south of England last I heard. But in my head, it surprises me; you hear some people saying they “hate” their parents and families, their “friends” have ruined their lives, that’s not uncommon for such a small island… But the fact it is so small means that either it’ll blow over as soon as the next bit of gossip hits the stand (which’ll most likely be the next day) or you can let it destroy you. But by denying that, to me, is denying who you are.

And in my opinion, the last person you should regret being is yourself.

Growing up: It’s exciting!

The funny thing about growing up is that belief that everything will just work out… When we’re older, we will just understand. We were told it by our parents: “I’ll explain when you’re older.”

I’m starting to think they never knew.

Well, I’m 21 right now. I’m a third year at university studying a degree in Education. Basically, I’m learning about learning itself. And you want to know something? I don’t think I’ve ever felt more lost.

I guess graduation is one of those times in our lives when everyone panics. Whether you’ve followed a specific career path all your life such as being a vet or a lawyer, or you’ve done a degree which will guarantee you a nice lifestyle like business or accountancy (my friends words, not mine!) up until graduation you spend your life being taught. Suddenly, you’re on your own.

We should be prepared of course, that was the whole point of that three, four, five year degree. But 90% of us much prefer learning the theory to putting it into practice, and that’s why many could argue that a degree is pointless. I mean, I do know people who’ve dropped out of university and gotten themselves their dream career, or scrapped a third and still gotten onto an amazing graduate scheme.

Personally, I’ve been working since I was 14: first it was in my local’s kitchen, then the fruit and veg section of a supermarket, followed by being a Saturday girl at a pharmacy, working in a clothes store and back to a pharmacy. I’ve worked on a switchboard, on a reception, as a student ambassador and as a student mentor. Work itself doesn’t scare me, in fact I’m more confused without a job. What do people do with their day?

But a degree was supposed to set me up for a career.

And that’s where I’m losing it now. Without already being in an “educational setting” my degree is pretty much pointless without further study. The majority of my fellow coursemates are applying for PGCEs- now that looks like a bloodbath with all those returning to education types choosing the same route. Personally, I want to go into the psychology side of it all, but even that’s just as competitive with my competition coming from those who’ve already survived the PGCE route, been a teacher and experienced the classroom.

Merry Christmas World!

The funny thing about Christmas for me is the different sides of people it brings out. Personally, I love handing out presents. Not that that’s especially surprising in my case, I’m always happy to buy a round when we’re out and spend some money. But I enjoy the stress of choosing the perfect present and even the horrors of wrapping those awkward presents.

In fact, I love giving more than receiving but this year I’ve had other commitments which has meant that going home (two weeks before Christmas) was my present to my parents.

Many might say that Christmas is when you realise your real friends: those who buy you presents. Unless you’re doing Secret Santa of course. I remember my first (almost) experience of Secret Santa, I refused to take part because no-one wanted to select me and instead got called greedy because they were “forced” to buy me individual presents. It’s not a great high school memory.

That’s besides the point of course.

But now it’s almost five years later. I don’t speak to those friends anymore. In fact, I don’t even have them on Facebook. I’ve come to university and met new friends- and yet, still, the drama ensues.

This year I’m staying at university on my own since work wouldn’t allow me to have enough time off to justify going home; the biggest problem of going to university in England when you’re from the Isle of Man. Instead, I went home two weeks ago (and even that was enough effort!) and brought all my presents back with me. I didn’t get anything massively expensive, my big present was a Kindle Fire with a pink cover which I got to open at home. The rest consisted of a new dressing down, bed socks, money, PJs and alcohol. But when people hear that you’re spending Christmas alone, even those people you don’t consider yourself particularly close to, start inviting you to spend Christmas Day with them and their families. For most, Christmas really is the time for giving.

I really did hope that not going home would mean I’d be cut out of the traditional Christmas drama. Instead, though I did avoid any family drama and even got a “Merry Christmas” Facebook message off my little sister, not everyone is quite as forgiving as I’d imagine at this time of year. In fact, they choose this time of year to be particularly aggressive by using the likes of Twitter to bring up old issues. Issues I made the mistake of thinking had been forgiven and forgotten.

So I guess they’re right: Christmas is a time when you realise who your real friends are. But it’s not from the presents you get, it’s not wanting the tech-iest, classiest, top of the range, new gadget on the block. It’s a time of coming together with friends and family, whether you’re lucky enough to be spending time in the same room or not. It could be about that simple “Merry Christmas” text/Facebook status/Twitter message.

So Merry Christmas everyone, and don’t let any petty drama ruin your day!