I Can’t Be Strong Right Now

Trigger warning: this post contains mentions of sexual assault and suicidal thoughts. If you aren’t comfortable with these topics or if it’ll upset you to read it, please don’t read this post. I’d much rather you stayed safe and happy.

 

I was walking down the stairs of my house today, after all of my housemates had gone to bed. Out of seemingly nowhere, I got hit with this inescapable feeling of horror and dread; everything felt like it was collapsing. As I leaned against the wall to steady myself so that I wouldn’t fall, I couldn’t think of anywhere to run to, anywhere to turn to. Then, I remembered I had an outlet all along. So now it’s time to talk about the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to talk about on this blog. Bare with me: it might take a while.

 

I don’t really know how to do this. Do I start from the ‘Incident‘? Do I start from now? How do you explain your entire fucking world falling to pieces without it turning into a jumble of screaming? Perhaps I’ll start with this – I’m in my second year of uni right now. In my first year of university, in February of this year, I was sexually assaulted.

 

It hurts every time I say it. It doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times I write it down. I was assaulted. I am a victim of sexual assault. How many times can I say it before it feels palpable and real? Even six months on, I still shudder and the sick feelings always take me by surprise. For a lot of you, reading those words will make you feel that same sense of horror. If that’s overwhelming you, stop reading now; I won’t go into detail but I don’t  want to trigger anyone who’s still recovering.

 

The person who assaulted me, I’ll call them the perpetrator, was someone I considered a friend. I let them stay over because I didn’t want them to drive 200 miles home, in the dark, after a meeting with a friend had gone badly for them. It happened when they thought I was asleep. I kicked them out the next day, early in the morning, then went to the police the day after that. God, how the fuck do I do this? I don’t know how to articulate how much it broke me to have my trust utterly shattered like that. I didn’t stop them; I didn’t say anything because I was terrified out of my mind. I didn’t talk to them at the time or ever about it just in case; I needed to escape but didn’t have anywhere to go. Writing all of this down in short sentences is just bringing it into stark relief for me.

 

The days after were a blur. I remember going to the police station and giving my statement, telling a friend about it and being totally fine, pacing round my room and throwing the clothes into a bag at the back of my wardrobe. I remember crying every night because I didn’t feel safe in my own bed or even in my own room. The one place which should have been my refuge turned into a nightmare within the space of a second. God knows how I got through all of it – I broke down a few days after with some of my friends and just started screaming out of sheer terror. I didn’t know how to carry on when my head was filled with such poisonous guilt and shame.

 

Shortly after that, I left uni for medical reasons. By that, I mean I was actively suicidal and knew that I couldn’t look after myself. Apart from the in-person interview and statements, the only contact I had with the police was them calling me to tell me that they were closing my case because there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial or anything like that; this was a month or so after. When the police officer asked, ‘You’re doing alright in your head, aren’t you?’ I replied with a yes, ended the call and cried so hard that another piece of my heart gave way. It’s one thing to know that the police aren’t good with sexual assault cases; it’s another to experience it and to feel disgusting every day because of it. Maybe I couldn’t have given evidence in a witness-type situation but I wasn’t even given the choice.

 

When I told my parents (they knew something was wrong because of how I came home), I felt horrible. I was still convinced that it was my fault and to be honest, I have my days now where I can’t breathe for fear that it’ll happen again. They were supportive but I couldn’t work or even get out of bed; it was humiliating to not be able to do basic things because I could only do the bare minimum to keep myself alive. I didn’t care enough about myself to want to live and it was only because I was around my family that I didn’t do anything about it. That scares me now, when I think about it, but at the time it was the only logical thing I could focus on.

 

I returned to uni very briefly and then Covid happened which put a real spanner in the works. Luckily, being at home (again) made it easier to survive on a day-to-day basis. Slowly, I began to pick up the pieces of just how badly the perpetrator had hurt me. Saying it out loud got a tiny bit easier but when it’s directly on my mind, I feel an oppressive weight sinking into my chest. It’s as if my attention narrows onto this incident; certain words will set me off, or being touched in a certain place. A couple of days ago, one of my housemates touched my shoulder and I completely freaked out. When you’re dealing with trauma or wonky mental health resulting from it, the reactions can sometimes be random or unpredictable.

 

Half a year later, it’s still very much affecting me. I struggle to sleep and the therapy I’ve received for these issues hasn’t been amazing. Now I’m back at uni, I might try to get more help because I can’t carry on like this. Coming home for a second time would be so difficult, especially with a global pandemic happening? Most days I feel alone or hopeless; I wish I could stop the trauma reactions from showing on my face because I don’t want to bother my housemates with it constantly. The reality is, though, that I am traumatised and that’s not going away any time soon.

 

I want to get to a place where I can talk about this and be constructive. I want to help others who have been through something similar but I can only do that when I’ve got to the stage of recovery where I don’t shut down every time it’s mentioned. Next time I write about this, I want it to be with strength and not this boundless sorrow that I can’t control. I know that won’t be easy and that everyone deals with their recovery differently; it’s just always upsetting me and has affected more friendships than I can count.

 

One of my ways of ‘coping’ with it was to push friends away, either acting like everything was fine and just drifting or giving a non-specific explanation of my mental health being low. Over the next couple of months, I want to start to repair those friendships – I won’t tell everyone what’s happened but I want to be able to talk to the people I love without a huge wall blocking my emotions out. Sometimes, I don’t have the capacity for conversations even about simple things and I’m hoping that’ll change soon.

 

I don’t know if anyone who knows me in real life still reads this. If you know me and you’re reading, I’m sorry that I couldn’t tell you in person. It’s so much harder to talk about this to individual people, over and over; my heart breaks every time. But if you’re reading this then I care about you so so much, no matter how long it’s been since we’ve talked. I find this specific thing – the assault, the trauma associated – almost impossible to talk about without sobbing my lungs out.

 

Thank you for reading this; I know that it was disjointed. I needed to throw my feelings out onto a screen and this seemed like the best way, for my own, and others’, sake.

 

So much love,

From Elm 🙂

Why I’m Not Applying for University This Year

Around this time, if you live in the UK and are in year 13 or equivalent, the majority of people will be in the process of applying to 5 universities, getting their personal statement ready, getting references from teachers and finally submitting their application. A fair few people will have already applied, received some offers or even got unconditional offers. I’m not one of those people. Instead, I’ve decided to apply next year.

A year ago, I was all set to do it all this year. I started thinking about open days and in June, I went to my first one in Birmingham. Since then, I’ve gone to 4 more open days, really got a feel for the course I want to do – English Literature and Creative Writing. Although I didn’t work on my personal statement in the summer, I was going to start in September. Why, then, did I change my mind, when everything seemed to be in place?

To explain all this, we’ll have to go back a bit. The first thing to say is that I’m “Severely Sight Impaired” – in other words, I can’t see much at all, or much to be useful. My independence is very lacking; I concentrated on GCSEs so much that I think I let my mobility and drive for independence go to the sidelines. That’s a whole other issue but the point is that I don’t have much independence; just being visually impaired isn’t the sole reason because there are so many VI people who lead independent lives and are happy. For me, instead of going to a special school for Sixth Form, the idea of going to one for a year after my A-Levels finished to increase my independence was suggested to me and I finally started to realise that not only would it be a great idea but it would make me much happier and more confident.

I applied for 2018 entry, got a place on what they call a Pre-Entry Assessment and went there in October. I can honestly say it was such a great experience – I spoke to the teachers there and the people who could really help me to get funding to go. It was then that I started to truly realise that applying to university whilst I was there would be a better option, for reasons I’ll get onto in a minute. After coming back from the assessment, I got a phone call saying that I had a place (in my usual fashion, I was shocked and I think I genuinely squealed?).

Up until 2 months ago, the resolution of applying and deferring held. However, I had some reservations about the whole thing. Firstly, I thought, if I got a place at the college for the year after, I could just apply there and that stress would be reduced. Going there and discussing it with them helped with that: they were supportive and one of the staff members mentioned to me that deferring might actually cause me more stress in case something went wrong. At the moment, the less stress I have, the better.

As well as that practical side of things, I have extremely bad mental health at the moment. In no way is that an excuse to not do something but many things are going on in my life, such as new opportunities but also personal issues, which means that my stress levels are off the charts. University applications have made that so much worse. I know that just delaying it isn’t the answer, that I should work on it, but for me it doesn’t feel like delaying or avoiding. It just feels like I can apply when I personally feel ready.

There are many reasons why applying now would be a good idea and I get that. First, it gets it out the way; it also gives me a goal to work towards. It puts me in the mindset of higher education and also would make my future a little more certain, yet this can all be done next year. This has all been said to me, both by others and by myself, but those arguments don’t convince me. Because I know that I’ll be able to apply next year, that I’ll have more time and I don’t feel right about applying this year, I think that applying next year will be the best option for me. It won’t be the same for many people but we’re all individuals and what works for someone won’t work for someone else and vice versa.

A lot of my teachers have told me to apply this year and defer. I’ve explained some of my reasoning to people; most understand but some don’t at all. However, I know that plans and people and lives change. Hell, next year I might decide I don’t want to go to university at all, that I want to do a different course or that I don’t like the unis I applied to. Also, it means I can apply with the results I already have: motivation of getting a certain grade has never held me up. Because of that, I’m not going to be putting that awful pressure on myself that made me collapse into myself before; I just feel that it might be better for me all round. It will probably make me feel the most healthy, the most put together and the least stressed out of my options.

I want to apply when I know I’m giving myself the best opportunities I can. My personal circumstances – where I know I’m taking a year out next year – have allowed me to do that. At the moment, pretty much everything is uncertain compared to what it was before. That’s okay. Life doesn’t always have to be about certainty.

Whether you apply this year, the next or the year after, remember that you should always put yourself first. There will be things you do, decisions you make, that people won’t understand, where they think you’re not being sensible or that you’re just taking the “easy” way out. Remember, though, that life has a thousand different roads you can go down and it’s fine if your road doesn’t run in the direction you thought it would.

Don’t be afraid of doing something that’s not “typical” of what people usually do. For whatever reason, you might decide that doing what the majority of your friends are doing isn’t for you right now. Consider all your options but most importantly? Don’t let university applications be the most daunting, most terrifying thing ever. You’ve got a life to live besides that, after all.

I hope this has helped anyone, whether that be to realise they do want to apply now or not, or just to let you think a little. I’ve done enough screaming over uni – I don’t want you to do the same if people are being shitty about your decisions.

Are you applying to uni this year? Did you decide to take a year out? Let me know in the comments!

From Elm 🙂

The Future is Alright | My Day at Warwick Uni

It came to me, as I was walking out of the English talk at Warwick uni, stumbling slightly with my eyes widened, that I had absolutely no idea what the future would hold for me. I realised then that I was far too terrified for it to be rational and that for the next 15 minutes, nothing would mean anything in a mantra inside my head and really? That was okay.

Let’s backtrack a bit to 7 AM. I’d woken up an hour before, feeling strangely energised yet exhausted; my dad and I hopped in the car on our way to the uni, the journey taking around two hours. Unlike when I travel with my mum, I didn’t feel tense and had intelligent conversation, punctuated by my usual listening to music. When I’d booked the Open day before, I’d spent about half an hour planning what I’d go and see. I double checked it, like I always do, and a curious sort of excitement grew: I’d been looking forward to Warwick for ages and most of my friends who went there said they loved it and that it was amazing. Of course, they were right.

We took a bus from the Park-and-ride service and it didn’t take long, the trees sweeping along the roof which I found funnier than I should have. We got there, got out and got pointed to the registration place. I said “Thank you!” far too enthusiastically to some helpful staff and then I took about a year to get my barcode up. That was… Significantly awkward. Once I was scanned, we walked into the campus itself and the day started. Surrounded by other students, the sounds and smells of food cooking out in the open and music, it felt so relaxed and smelled so much of greenery at one point that I almost forgot I was in a university campus.

The first talk was why we should choose Warwick as a university and I thought, for the first time, that a place felt right in a way. It felt vibrant, the way they spoke about challenging you to think critically and not just to get the skills for a job but to get skills which you would be able to apply anywhere, for the rest of your life. That’s what I’d want for a degree: not just a means to an end but rather, something that would be truly useful and something that would make me fall in love with learning. They managed, in one talk, to make me feel like maybe, I’d get that there. If I got in, that is, which isn’t an easy feat: I’ll sit on my hope for now but not too much. If that wasn’t enough, I went and spoke to the Disability Advisor and a Postgraduate student who set up a around disability awareness after that talk ended. ⠠⠮ way they spoke about the uni made it feel welcoming. I saw the Literature Society, where I displayed a lot of excitement over the existence of it (I’d have been embarrassed if I cared) and found out that yes, there was a Writing society. Cue even more excitement. I spent about half an hour in that hall, wandering round and talk to a few societies to find out what kind of things were on offer, far more than I had at UEA or Birmingham.

The problem that didn’t even register as a problem until afterwards started when I went to the “Applying to Warwick” talk. They spoke about Personal Statements and what Warwick specifically wanted in Undergraduate students and I started to tell myself, quiet but still insistent, that I didn’t have those qualities. I’ve barely started on my Personal Statement because I have no idea how to structure it, despite all the advice and so I panicked. I panicked a lot, a cold harsh feeling in my stomach but I shoved it back. I realise now that I do have the ability to structure it, to write concisely and in a focused way and that all I have to do is start but in that talk, it turned into a raging monster inside my head because it was too big, too much. That was another mantra I repeated throughout the day, “too many things, too much, too quickly.”

Accommodation, both discussed in the talk and seen by me when I went on a mini tour of it, was really nice. That filled me with no fear because I could see myself living there, with or without a Guide Dog; it was close to everything and the anxiety of not being able to drive was stopped because the campus is connected to places around it. The loneliness was negated, too, because there would be people and a nearby city (Coventry). Things weren’t registering as much in that talk but when I went to see them with my dad, thought I’d broken the toaster in the kitchen and found out the differences in the halls, I started to feel a lot better about it all.

After lunch, we had the Students’ Union Talk; it was nothing too groundbreaking. I liked how one of the people spoke about her experiences because it was refreshing to know that loads of different societies existed. Still, it was nothing I hadn’t heard when I was walking about before.

The most important talk was the talk on English and this was where things started to really get confusing in my head. On its own, the talk was great: four sections (English on its own, then with history, theatre and Creative Writing) were really well explained as to make it exciting; there were political jokes and the lecturers who did the talks were both hilarious and thought-provoking at times. Somebody who had graduated spoke to us, as well as another undergraduate talking about a program which encouraged secondary school students to go into higher education. I loved it, so why did I walk out of the talk feeling sick?

The abbreviated answer is that I don’t know if the writing part of it was something I wanted to do. I’d lost focus in that talk, zoning out as I thought about nothing; I was unable to concentrate on the words. The future seemed absolutely bleak to me then and I sat there, shaking with the knowledge that everything felt like it was meaningless and worthless and like I was somehow broken in a stupid way. It was more than me feeling just sad; I felt desperately worried at the sheer amount of uncertainty. I kept on thinking, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I good enough?” and although I knew I was, that second-guessing shocked me. I didn’t want it there, in a room full of people who loved reading and writing just as much as I did. For a while after that, I was very silent and honestly terrified because my apathetic reaction to the talk confused and upset me. When I went into the drop-in session afterwards and spoke to a student doing the course I wanted to do, everything felt better but I presented myself as quite uninterested, bored even, despite the fact that I wasn’t. I wanted to know but the excitement seemed to have been drawn out of me, somehow.

When I got home, I had time to think. Yes, I was feeling unhappy and not thrilled at the prospect then but now, I see what a great course it actually is. I love the university and people there were passionate about their subject and where they were studying. Only when I look back can I understand that although I can’t quite remember what was said in the talks, I know that I enjoyed myself.

Perspective doesn’t make it “all better.” Even for my more positive attitude, I still feel desperate and sad and very panicked, for various reasons. Things are looking up though, in at least one aspect of my life – the university aspect. My work ethic and personal issues are weighing me down but my future’s a little less scary. That counts for something, right?

Was it my fearful reaction to me being emotionless that marred the English talk slightly? Is Warwick really the right place for me? Will I have a definite idea of what I want to do in the future, without feeling panicked? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I think, though, that I don’t to know just yet. I still have time ahead of me.

Have you been to Warwick and what did you think? Do you know what you want to do in the future?

From Elm 🙂

My Personal Statement Failings

From this September, I’ll be starting to apply for the university that I’ll attend either in 2018 or 2019.

WAIT, back up a second – I’ll be applying to university. That’s a scary enough thought in itself, without taking into account the fact that I’m terrible at making decisions about my future. I know what course I want to do but the university I want to go to? Not so much. I haven’t gone to enough open days; I haven’t done enough research and now I’m starting to panic about campuses, finance, making the “correct” decision and being happy.

The thing is, with universities you have to write a personal statement which is part of your application. It goes to the 5 unis you apply to so you don’t write individual statements for each university. Luckily, my course will be the same for each university but if you apply for different courses at different unis, you need to balance carefully what you put in and not mention specifics.

You’d think it would be easy to write one, right, especially for a subject which prioritises organisation of ideas in a coherent form? No. I’ve got the summer to write a few drafts but today, in school, we’re starting to think and write about it: we had a talk this morning about what to include and afterwards, we were in a classroom brainstorming for 3 hours. I’ve already been brainstorming in my head but when I tried to write stuff down, I realised something. I really don’t have much to write.

There are some questions on a sheet we were given and I’m going to do my best at answering them here. Not, of course, in a literary style; I have little energy to do such a thing at the moment. That “literary style” will be saved for when I actually get to writing the thing. These are just my initial “ideas”, hahaha, like I have any of them!

Why are you applying for your chosen course?
I really like the idea of combining the creativity and originality of creative writing with the innovative analysis of texts based on the times in which they are set and the interpretations which you can bring forth from them. You can also discuss your ideas with others – something I’m not so good at but that I enjoy (I won’t put that bit in my Personal Statement though). Also, I like how they compliment each other a lot in that you can transfer skills read in books, poetry and scripts into your own writing. Ooh, this is one thing I can talk about!

Why does this subject interest you?
I really love reading but that’s a generic answer. The Canterbury Tales as well as Jane Eyre got me interested in literature, along with my beautiful human being of a previous English teacher. Last Friday when I (sneakily) went into his lesson as he teaches my friend, they were looking at Chaucer and I literally squealed. I’ll be honest, my blog really got me interested in writing as a profession and something which I adored. I presume here I can talk about how much my blog inspired me to create new ideas without filling up the character count too much.

Include evidence to show that you understand what’s required to study the course.
With English degrees, you can get an average of 6 hours a week of contact with lecturers or professors. That means that you’ll have to do a lot of independent study, as well as doing a lot of wider reading which is part of it. I’m also guessing that you’ll have to research historical context; because I’m fascinated with that and the effect it has on writer’s technique, presentation of characters and the attitude towards certain groups, this will be fine. I think I’ll mention my interest in doing further reading in the statement because it actually shows I can vaguely do something… Maybe.

Why do you think you’re suitable for the course?
What I’d like to say: “Lol hi I’m A MESS I’d be shiiit; don’t accept me!”
What I will actually say and should believe: I’m able to work effectively in a group which is useful as we’ll be evaluating the work of others; I can… Um… I have a lot of enthusiasm… But everyone will put that! NO! I am able to effectively combine the disciplines of a writer and a reader – nooo, that’s too pretentious and awful! I’ll just think about that later when I feel more positively towards myself.

Do you have any particular skills and experience that will help you to succeed on the course?
Summer schools? NAAAAH oops… Same with Uni taster days oh god. However, wider reading and writing for a magazine may help, such as a school newspaper I want to set up (although it was my friend’s idea but shhh).

Do your current or previous studies relate to the course you have chosen?
Well I’d bloody hope so, seeming as I’m studying English Literature at A-Level. History will inform me of wider historical contextualisation of the themes. However, don’t they already know what subjects I do? The woman this morning told us not to write about the subjects because of character count and it’s needless information… Right then. That’s another one to go on the “think about later” pile, along with the 100000 other things.

Have you taken part in any other activities which demonstrate your interest in the course?
NO. The blog? Still nope; that’s not specific to the course itself. I wish I wasn’t so lazy and that I’d applied for summer courses early.

Personal Skills
There’s an A B C we were told about which is basically a model which lists the activities, the benefits of it and how it relates to your course. Here we go – or not!
Volunteering: punctuality which means I will be good at deadlines; organising people which means that I have good skills when working with people; encouraging others which means that I will be self-motivated for independent study as well as spreading positivity (yes, that doesn’t relate but it’s a good thing!).
Blogging: I’ve done it for 2 years which shows I have dedication, meaning that I’ll stick to an idea or a project; I’m able to share ideas with a large audience which will be helpful in group discussions when our work is being evaluated; I’ve become more open to ideas within society, meaning that I’m able to take in new interpretations and expand on my own thoughts.

And… That’s it. Oops.

At the end of this, I realise that I had more to write than I thought. On the other hand, there are still a lot more things I could do and could have done. However, there’s still time for me to do things. Speaking to a school in September will further add skills to my meagre list.

Perhaps I’m mildly angry that I don’t have much to say; I don’t have any leadership roles in the school and have little responsibility therefore. I’m what you may term average but that just means I need to find qualities and experiences within myself that make me unique. Even if you think you’re dull as hell, no one is utterly, 100% boring. Start listing skills you know you have first and don’t panic; there is still time.

Are you writing a Personal Statement at the moment or have you written one and got offers? What are your best tips? Any help would be really appreciated, especially because there will be plenty of people in the same position as me who don’t know what to write. I think this can benefit all of us.

From Elm 🙂

A Day of Being Myself

When I got up at 4:30 yesterday morning, I wanted to crawl back into my bed and cry but for once, I had something important to do. On Saturday, I went and visited the University of East Anglia – the second Open Day I’ve been to (the other was Birmingham). After that, and it possibly the highlight of my month, I went and met Ocean – a blogger I’ve known for 2 years.

Driving to UEA took about 3 hours but strangely, by the end of the car journey, I wasn’t angry/exasperated at my father/exhausted from being in the same place for ages. Far from it: I felt full of energy. That didn’t fade as we stood in the queue for half an hour, waiting for the coaches to take us to the university itself. It was around 9:30 then and I managed to actually speak to someone my age in front of me in the queue. Typically, it was the kind of conversation which comprised the “what subjects are you doing?” questions but it was still something and I didn’t turn into a stuttering mess.

As I did with Birmingham, we went and saw the Student Support services first to find out about what kinds of ‘reasonable adjustments’ (as it’s called) they can put in place for me, such as extra time or maybe provisions for a Guide Dog if I end up getting one. That sent us to the Accommodation stand and I awkwardly explained my ‘needs’ to them. Although they haven’t had a severely sight impaired student for about 4 years, I was really pleased with how they were extremely open to putting in place measures to help me; all the staff in fact were very friendly. It eased the anxiety I felt considerably about the whole process.

During the course of the day, I went to four talks and an accommodation tour. The latter experience was very positive: I liked the feel of the buildings and it all seemed very centralised; there’s a village about 15 minutes walk from the campus itself but seeming as I’d need to concentrate on learning the campus in my first year, I thought it might be best if we looked at the accommodation on campus instead. We saw three buildings and I liked them all; the nicest, newest (and most expensive sadly) was my favourite simply because it seemed very spacious. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a good criterion for measuring whether I would like it or not but an important thing for me is that I hate feeling trapped.

At one point, whilst my dad and I were walking across the campus, I had a minor crisis about the amount of followers I had. It’s so weird to think that over 2000 people have clicked the follow button – it’s incredible to me that so many people have read my words, in whatever capacity. My dad listened to my ramblings and it felt great because I knew what I was talking about.

The best talk I went to was the one on Personal Statements. All but the English talk was held in a small hall and each person wore headphones so that they wouldn’t have to project their voice. This didn’t detract from the experience and actually made it feel more personalised. Afterwards, and without fear, I walked straight up to the woman who held the talk and asked her if I could put my blog in my Personal Statement. The answer was a resounding “yes” and she clarified that I didn’t have to say the name or anything that could identify it. This means that I can talk about what I love so much, which directly relates to the course I want to do. I left that talk feeling so much better about my opportunities!

I really did like the sound of student life and the amount of societies; it was presented by two students who spoke to us like we were human and not children about all the different things we can do. I really felt like it connected us to the idea of getting involved in student life. After having had lunch and seeing the street with shops and bars (it was adorable), I went to the English Literature and Creative Writing talk with my dad. The interesting thing about this course is that there are no end of year exams; all your modular grades and pieces of writing are added up which comprise your degree. The Creative Writing part is roughly a third of the degree. Sadly, I couldn’t talk much to the lecturer afterwards but I honestly felt more confident about everything despite the prestige of UEA as a Creative Writing university.

I really liked this uni, overall. I’ve got to be honest: the course didn’t thrill me as much as I’d like but perhaps that’s because I have high standards. The campus was more to my taste: I could tell where everything was and I knew I wouldn’t get very overwhelmed. I’ll have to give it time; I loved it but I have no idea if I loved it enough to study it. What made it so worthwhile to me was the enthusiasm of the lecturers and the people who spoke; I felt as if they loved the place and it made me fall in love with it that little bit more. Who knows? I need to see more universities before I decide on anything.

At around 4, we travelled into Norwich to meet Ocean. Because I’ve known her for 2 years and she was one of the first blogging friends I had, I didn’t feel that nervous. Of course, the excitement grew and grew as we got closer to our meeting point and I kept smiling because finally I was going to meet one of the people I admired the most. Honestly, it’s always a dream come true for me when I meet an internet friend because they n have any judgements; about you save for what you show them which, in Ocean’s case, was always my true self.

As soon as we met each other we hugged and spent a while absorbing that this was actually happening. Unfortunately, we only had an hour but it was an hour I won’t forget in a hurry. We walked round the high street and went to Café Nero: she’s really good at guiding me and unlike when you meet someone you don’t know, she knew how to help me almost instinctively which was so lovely. By the way, raspberry lemonade exists (I found that out yesterday) and it is utterly glorious.

All throughout this, we talked. She’s so funny and sweet; I think I laughed more than I have in the past few weeks. Conversations ranged from Jeremy Kyle to the hell of A-Levels, from serious to funny topics and I loved it. I didn’t have to try and find topics to talk about; sitting across from her at a table was so freeing because I wasn’t pretending, hiding or faking anything.

I hate saying goodbye. It’s especially difficult when it’s someone you respect so much but luckily, I didn’t cry. She isn’t worlds away; next year when she goes to university, I’m sure we’ll be able to meet more which makes me smile when I think of it.

All in all, Saturday was wonderful and writing about it brings all the memories back. From wandering around a street and listening to buskers to laughing over the stupid pose that Jeremy Kyle adopts, I felt like me. Plain and simple with a passion for English but also someone who is undoubtedly a blogger and a writer. I never want to limit my options and that’s why I do what I do: that’s why I want to visit so many universities and meet so many people.

It’s beautiful to feel like that. Have you felt so very like yourself recently?

From Elm 🙂

My Brain Can’t Handle the Future

When I actually post this, I’ll be in the middle of wandering round stalls that different universities are at – over 150 of them – with one of my teaching assistants, not socialising with other people because of it, panicking at the sheer amount of unis and, as usual, having a minature crisis about what the hell I’m going to do. Really, I should have at least an idea by now…

For context, I’m in year 12, studying my AS levels – they’re History, English Literature and Psychology so after having dropped French around two weeks ago, I’m doing 3 which is much better for my mental health. I’m also blind, which heaps a bunch of stress onto me: not only tomorrow – today technically but I’m writing this the night before – will I have to think about universities, but I’ll also have to think about whether they can meet my needs. Wooo, sometimes being disabled is a tad inconvenient at times.

There are some things which I know. After I finish Year 13, I want to take a year out to increase my independence at what I nickname “blind college”; I’m already making preparations to start that process, having planned over a month ago to go and visit there in the Easter holidays. In my mind, it’s set in stone as I have to consider how I’d actually survive studying, plus looking after my health: even if I feel worried about being ‘left behind’, there are more important things for me.

The next few years are kind of blurry. I know I want to do a three year ‘undergraduate course – if I get into uni – and that I want to be on a campus rather than having Lectures and things like that spread across a huge area like a city. Where and what course is still a mystery to me; I was searching things up earlier today and stressing so much because there were too many options, to which I got a headache and couldn’t do much.

English is my passion, and always has been; I love both reading and writing: creating ideas but also seeing how others create theirs. That’s the thing: I don’t think I could do either exclusively because I’m indecisive and need a variety. However, anything not related to English might bore me: I could do History but that might make me despise it; if I do journalism or media, I’d most likely realise that wasn’t the career path I wanted. At my heart, I don’t think journalism is for me, although I’d love to work in publishing. I’m keeping my options open.

So, English it is, but what? English Literature would be great but I don’t know if I love it enough to do it on its own. I want to combine the two things I love – reading and writing – to do a degree that I want to do; I think that’s one of the most important things. I’m either going with English Lit and Lang, or English Lit and Creative Writing. I have no idea if I should do a combined course but what I do know is that only doing one thing can leave me feeling stifled.

With the former, I know that it would get me good employment and it’s got high qualifications, ordinarily, that you’d need to meet to start the course – I think I can do that. I’m just worried I’d bail halfway through or realise that language was dull, despite me being fascinated with how language has transformed, both spoken and in the written text. With the latter, I adore creative writing but I’m not sure if I’m good enough; I haven’t been writing much recently except on here and the occasional poems but that’s certainly not dedication to it. As well as that, I don’t know if it’s as prestigious as Lit and Lang; I know that I’d love it but I have to balance with getting a new job because employment figures for disabled people worry me and I want to have a good job – is that shallow? I don’t know.

Not only that, but there’s the issue of where to go. If I manage to select the course I want to do, there’s also balancing which unis are good for it – the qualification is a BA Honours for most courses and I’m just terrified that I’d pick the wrong uni. I think that I’m overthinking as usual but it’s so important that I get good results and balance that with my mental health and happiness because if I’m miserable, what will I achieve? I kind of feel overwhelmed.

I know that there are a thousand people I can talk to, both blind and sighted, who can help me with every aspect of it. Going to open days is a big priority, along with getting advice from people at school, people at the universities itself and friends. How will I know which advice to take? How will I know what’s right, what’s good for me and how do I connect with my emotions and worries enough to do that?

Tomorrow, I’m going to be okay but I may be even more tense than usual. I just want to sort out my life but I also have to deal with A-Levels, the history coursework I’ve barely started and unpleasant feelings of stupid guilt to keep my health in check.

If you’re thinking along the same lines as me then do let me know; if you also know of any good unis for English especially, as well as open days, then drop me a message. We can go through this together because this is a huge step for the majority of people around my age.

From Elm 🙂