that’s what she said
that’s what i’d say too.
innuendo is fun, it’s humorous. i’m that kind of a guy, up for a laugh, but always in touch with reality and what constitutes taking it too far. i’m cheery and sarcastic and i’ve got a dry sense of humour, and that’s fine.
if i’m totally honest, it’s probably because it’s the end of year 13, there’s two weeks to the day until school is over for good; the closing of a chapter that will never be reopened. and i am ready for university, on the surface at least.
but it is the past which hurts, as well as the present this time.
i started secondary school way back in 2010, and that’s one of those years i just look back on so fondly. i’m not sure what it is, but 2002 and 2007 have similar rings about them – it just seems that they were littered with so many happy memories, whether they be about individual experiences or collections of them, impulsive but memorable feelings or a much greater feeling of potential.
it’s the mental juxtaposition of tenerife ’07 and that first day in september ’10: pure happiness and contentment alongside this tangible appreciation of potential
walking up the drive, excited to learn and to meet new people, to succeed but also to grow – relishing in the challenges that keep presenting themselves as summer sun morphs into winter snow: it’s a hugely intense feeling, although perhaps accentuated by the rose-tinted glasses of the future.
‘what are you most looking forward to’
‘definitely biology, i want to be a surgeon or dentist or something – i haven’t really given it much thought but science has always had me. maybe chemistry – who doesn’t love blowing things up and conjuring up crazy concoctions?’
it’s exactly that. this dispassionate gaze into the future, content at where you are right there and then, genuinely feeling that everything will be alright, relishing in whatever is around the corner, however long the road may be.
‘i’ll be in such-and-such team, i’ll go to whatever-ford university, i’ll fix people’s brains one day, i’ll hit the school disco with my girl – maybe she’ll come say hi after school one day?’
that’s what you infer from the talks, the hints at what your future may offer. and naturally, it’s what you long to achieve, having sailed through life up until then.
it’s not school that has screwed me up, it’s not a stereotypical rant about how society has failed me – far from it – and i’m not bitter leaving after seven years or however long it’s been. i’ve met some great people and academically at least, there have definitely been some highlights.
it’s the zest for life that has gone.
it’s been three years since it’s started, and it took a good year to understand that something might be seriously wrong, although i had inclinations after a few months when it was the good times that got noticed rather than the and ones.
fast forward another few months to the start of sixth form and it’s back, a week or so’s solace at the end of a tough summer where my mind was a barrier to getting up in the morning is the harbinger to tougher times.
‘christmas soon’, i thought, but how wrong i was. a tough autumn gave way to a couple of genuinely nice days, before the indescribable pain that was the holiday period: a good seven to eight days of pure inability to think, to reason and to want to do anything at all. i’d get up, put this façade on for other people, eat, binge watch telly, cry a bit, replace façade, eat again, and sleep.
it’s so difficult to put into words how i felt. how i still feel a lot of the time, for less prolonged periods, but far more intensely. i can’t even admit half of it to myself, let alone to anybody else.
2016 began pretty miserably, and although i came out of that permanent state of misery, things didn’t exactly take off. i fluctuated in and out of being severely depressed, and it was early summer when i finally began to put it into words to my best friend – only the best part of two-and-a-half years after where i can trace it back to.
last summer was hard, two weeks on the other side of the world brought a brief hiatus but it was back within a day of returning, leaving me in and out of it until the end of august.
september, however, brought a new lease of life, thankfully.
i was a changed person. i started to run, properly – i’d done a 5k most weeks for a year previously, but i had a sudden impulse to run a 10k: by the end of november, i was running them in one go, two to three times a week.
running is such an escape, an opportunity to clear your head and be yourself to yourself: you’re genuinely free. and that buzz when you smash a pb, or just complete that 10 or 11k: it’s tangible.
anyway, the honeymoon period that was september kind of spilled over into the start of october, but from then it got harder and harder.
yes i’d started talking to an amazing girl, and yes my social life was fun, things were great with pretty much everyone, but this excluded myself. a couple of fairly large breakdowns sandwiched an awesome school trip to iceland with my mates, and littered the coming weeks.
there’s not much more painful than bawling your eyes out on the toilet for forty-five minutes.
this time around christmas was far more bearable, there was a nice break from it all to round off the year. and typically i fell back into it through the start of the year – but the big surprise was seven whole weeks of freedom: there genuinely was a fairly prolonged period of genuine contentment.
naturally all good things come to an end, and so did this, but it was god while it lasted.
it’s not that things have been hard – i’m still here – but it’s that all feeling for life and the future has gone. it’s just a bit meh.
and i am looking back, back to 2010 and the feelings of happiness and potential. back to those goals i had roughly sketched out in my mind, and i haven’t achieved a single one. i’m not doing science-related stuff at uni, which isn’t in oxford, which i’m not talking about to a significant other.
most painfully, i’m not happy.
and it’s my fault. it’s not how i genuinely feel because that cannot be put into words – the best i can muster is self-loathing, this feeling that whatever way you look at it, i’m inadequate. again that’s not the right word, but whatever.
and that’s my attitude. i still try to work hard and make an effort with people, but whatever.
it’s probably the nostalgia talking, but i would do it all again in a heartbeat, with even a single grain of hindsight. if only i was who i am, as a human being, a year ago: studies, and life in general would be so much better.
but it’s unhealthy looking backwards, i can appreciate that. even in my own very much ill state of mind. i’m ill, and it hurts.
my friends are great, my relationship with every single one of them is where i want it to be, and academically (fingers crossed) i shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
uni will be fine, they say, and i say to myself. but it’s what’s inside me that scares me the most: it’s a fresh start for the superficial, the environment and the people. i’ll be doing a different subject all day, with different people whilst in a different part of the country. yet it’s what’s in my head that will be so hard to deal with.
so as tough nostalgia is, especially when you’re as vulnerable to it as i am, it’s how i move forward that’s most important – but also so hard to fathom.