What am I doing?

Scolling down my ‘Blogs I Follow’ reader on here (admittedly for the first time in months…) has got me overwhelmed by how everyone’s lives have changed.

Babies have been born, books have come out, YouTube channels been created. Everyone seems to be going somewhere! What about me?

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I’ve put all this aside this term to do my first year exams at university, which was absolutely the right choice for me. This blog isn’t my main project, or even something I’ve done consistently, and the longer I’ve been away the more I’ve forgotten about how much I love it on here, just reading about other peoples’ lives and pouring my own out.

It’s okay that my blog isn’t really going anywhere, isn’t it, because I enjoy it and there are other things in my life that mean a lot more to me. I’m excited to be back though, and will soon be able to write a lot more. Hopefully we can look forward to a lookback over my last year, which is the most exciting year I’ve ever had, my best and worst moments and what I’d do differently, a lot of travelling over summer (again hopefully!) and much more.

So even though the things I’ve done this year aren’t as tangible as they have been in the past (my degree leaves little room for anything else!) they are there and it’s alright that they’re not online for everyone to see! But they will be soon…

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Finding yourself

I always wondered why people thought they needed to go away travelling or on a weekend away to ‘find themselves’. How could you possibly lose yourself- you’re right there!

I’m beginning to understand now. The university way of life (at least in my case) involves nearly every hour of every day with other people. This is particularly true since I started a new relationship, and I spend all of my free time either with him or other friends. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement and swept along with what friends are doing, rather than having some time to yourself.

In the midst of this, it can become quite hard to remember how you used to act by yourself. To notice yourself and your interests gradually changing. Even to remember your inner dialogue.

Over Christmas it surprised me that the YouTube videos I liked to watch have changed dramatically since I left for university. I used to enjoy watching makeup and clothes videos, but my new friends tend to watch more comedy and spoofs, and now I prefer them. I’ve also let a lot of hobbies that I enjoy slip, simply from not being willing to make the time, like painting and reading as much (other than textbooks).

I haven’t been allowing myself to have time by myself recently, making sure I’m doing what I enjoy and that I’ve done everything I want/need to do. I never really understood the idea of me time, but now I think I’ve reached a point in my life when it would be good to let myself have a few minutes a day reflecting on life, and time alone in my room just being me.

An evening walk

I’ve been ill for the last few days, and so I decided it would be a good idea to go for a walk to clear my head yesterday evening. I didn’t have anywhere planned to go, so set off from my house through my nearest village and then wandered into a housing estate. I walked for about an hour, following the road round its bends and turns until I realised that I wasn’t where I thought I was and that this wasn’t going to be a round trip back to my house, so I turned round and made my way home.

But it made me think about the parallels with my own life. All my life I’ve followed the main route that just about everyone takes. Playgroup, nursery, primary school, high school, college. And now I’m taking the expected and predictable next step: to university. And then onto a job and a new home and starting a family until I retire and eventually die.

And I think it’s fine to follow that path that so many people follow. But if we unthinkingly follow that path how do we know that it’ll take us to where we want to be? How do we know whether to follow the path onward and (I assume) upwards, or to take a side road and open hundreds of new unknown doors, or to simply turn back and go back where we came from?

I think at this stage in my life, it’s expected that we do all three. I’m supposed to move out and go to university and do the work set there – following the path set by my lecturers etc. I’m expected to open new doors for myself by getting involved with clubs and societies, and by meeting hundreds of new people. And I’m expected at set intervals (or more often) to pack up and go home.

I think that will be really hard. Missing home when I’m away at uni, and missing uni and my new friends when I go back home. Maybe the trick will be, like when I was out on my walk, to ignore all that, and just enjoy the view.

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The trumpet: A lesson in perseversance

When I was seven years old my primary school offered us the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. We were given a form listing the instruments which the school had teachers for, and had to tick three that we wanted to learn, so that the school could allocate lessons. I ticked the cornet, the clarinet and the piano, because these were the three instruments in the house.

My school decided I would learn the cornet and the keyboard. I quit keyboard lessons after the first class, due to my mortification at not knowing ‘Doe a deer’ from the sound of music to sing along with the other students while the teacher played it on the piano (we didn’t actually play anything all lesson…). I later regretted that and took up piano outside school, and wished I’d learnt earlier.

My first cornet lesson was with a group of five other people from my school year. We were shown how to make a sound on the cornet (by blowing a raspberry) and told to do it down a solitary mouthpiece which was passed along the row. I was cripplingly shy and wouldn’t even try it, but for some reason I carried on.

I struggled with the cornet. I found it frustrating and difficult and embarrassing. I hated that my parents made me practice for ten whole minutes every single day! I hated my lessons, which were embarrassing and not very encouraging at all. Playing was painful and upsetting but I refused to quit!

When I went to high school I got a new teacher. I was still painfully shy, and she made me act as much as she made me play. She made me stand as if I had the confidence and skill to play anything, and talk about emotions and feelings and arrrggghhh! Without that I never would have learnt the confidence I have now.

I joined the school windband and was eventually was asked to join the orchestra (for grade 6 and above). I started to really enjoy playing with other people. I started to want to be better, to want to practice. I even went on a weeklong summer course just to play in a windband, which I enjoyed immensely.

Just before the end of my senior six year (the last year before university in England), I took my grade 8 exam. I was devastated as I came out, thinking that I’d failed and my 10 years of practicing and working so hard were all wasted.

I actually got a distinction!

Relieved, I didn’t play the trumpet (very similar to the cornet, just my teacher preferred it, despite my protestations that it wouldn’t fit in my locker) for a month. But an invitation to do another summer school next week made me realise how much I actually missed playing, and I’ve practiced every day since and loved it.

I don’t know if I’d do it all again. Maybe I’d pick an instrument more suited to my personality. But as I progressed it became obvious to me that there was no turning back. And I’m so glad I didn’t.

Summer work

I’ve been really lucky this summer – I was desperate for a job to keep me occupied for a few weeks and also for a bit of money for university. I tralled through every shop, restaurant and hairdressers in my small village, being fairly limited as to how far I travelled (I can borrow my mum’s car but not on that kind of time frame). Unfortunately, I live in the sort of place where summer is pretty much the same as every other time, so noone was hiring.

Just as I was giving up hope, my dad managed to find me a job working for him. This is definitely the easy way to have your first job! I didn’t have to interview (he said the last 18 years of my life were enough to go on!), I could ask my many questions when I thought of them (what to wear, my hours, wage etc) and to someone I’m familiar with, and while I’m working I can go to ask questions as frequently as I want without embarrassment and in the vagueness only a family member would understand. Plus this job is related to the degree I want to study so will be valuable on future CVs.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired though! Which is strange because I’m getting more sleep than I would on a school night. I suppose it must be the constant flow of new facts and proceedures and how different it all is. Hopefully in a few weeks that’ll get easier!

Learning from our failures

Today I failed my driving test.

I knew it was coming. It’s just that learning to accept failure is harder than we imagine.

I’m obviously not saying that I’ve never failed at anything before, I’m just saying that for me this is the first big failure I’ve had not just by my own standards, but by everyone else’s too.

I’ve always been the sort of person that has to be super prepared for every little thing. I didn’t really feel prepared for my test (which is how I knew it was coming), but still it’s hit me a little harder than I expected.

I think what I feel most of all is anger at myself. I can’t think what more I should have done, but still I can’t help but think I should have done it. I’m also disappointed and upset (and quite a large part of me’s thinking what a waste of money it was!). To start with I just wanted to give up driving and go and hide in my bed, but I guess all that’s really left for me to do is try again soon.