Tag Archives: university

Sobriety: The first test

Being sober while living on a university campus isn’t easy. It’s been just under a week since my humiliating Saturday night triggered the decision to not drink anymore, and last night was our end of exams final bar night for the year. My first challenge.

Physically, not drinking was an extraordinary improvement. There was none of the nausea or sticky mouth taste, and best of all, I didn’t need to pee every five minutes. I didn’t feel bloated or out of control. It was wonderful. I was able to keep my emotions in check which I can’t do when drunk.
The real challenge was dealing with the social side of things i.e. the fact that everyone else around me was drinking and drinking heavily. This wasn’t an ordinary night out- this was the last big uni party of the year, the last hurrah before everyone moved out of college the next day. Exams were over and our noise curfew had been lifted, emotions were running high and everyone was looking to see out the year with a bang. Imagine being the only person not drinking in an atmosphere like that. I’m lucky I have such good friends, but it was a bizarre experience to watch everyone else dissolve into bubbling, out of control versions of themselves, trying to speak to them like normal and realising you couldn’t.

The party itself turned out to be everything I hate. Loud, crowded, and full of creeps. Two of my friends had been drinking for a solid six hours before we even left our dorm to head to the bar. I wasn’t in a great mood, due to one of my ‘friends’ acting like a massive creep and two friends of a friend who I somewhat dislike tagging along. Drunk people aren’t that fun to be around, especially when you can’t hear each other and you’re being knocked into on all sides by people hooking up or trying to cop a feel.

Which leads me to the point of the night that made me realise how happy I was to be sober and more to the point, to realise how absolutely fucking over the whole event I was. I’ve been felt up before, in clubs, on crowded dance floors, and always been so completely off my face wasted that I either didn’t care or, and I cringe and hate myself as I admit this, but even liked it. Last night I was dancing with my friend, as as we pushed through the crowd to get off the dance floor to go to the bar, some guy who I do not know, who does not know me, who I’ve never seen before and will never see again, took it upon himself to have a feel of my cunt and my ass. I was wearing a pretty short skirt and am still thanking my lucky stars that he didn’t manage to get his hand up underneath, but never in my life have I ever felt so utterly disgusted and violated.
And I was horrified by the realisation that if I had been drunk when it happened, I wouldn’t have felt that way. I probably wouldn’t have felt anything, just accepted it. Or worse, been pleased by the attention! But it isn’t attention at all. It has nothing at all to do with me. That guy didn’t see me as a human being, just a thing to be touched for his own amusement. Ugh. I feel gross just thinking about it. You may accuse me of over reacting, but everything about that moment felt so completely wrong and pervasive.

And please understand that it’s not even the fact that he touched me that I’m so horrified by. I’m more horrified by the fact that drunk me wouldn’t have cared, whilst sober me was 100% aware of how completely wrong it felt.

At the time, part of me wished I had been drunk so I wouldn’t have cared. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. But I’m glad now, in hindsight. That overwhelming realisation of how wrong it was and how bad I felt proved one thing at least: my self worth is more valuable then any drink could ever be. That same self-worth goes out the window when I’m drunk, and that’s not good. I’m not a more relaxed, less inhibited person when I’m drunk. I’m a mess who can’t feel good about herself who considers perversion as affection, as approval and affirmation that acting slutty and stupid is what I need to do in order to be valued.

It’s a hard lesson to truly appreciate and come to terms with, but a valuable one. And it’s affirmed further my resolve to no longer be a person who drinks. I’m absolutely not saying that this applies to everyone. I know plenty of intense drinkers who can shrug it off without a hangover and keep themselves composed when under the influence, but I am not one of those people. I’m not built like that. I never was and never will be. I tried to be, because especially living where I am, at the age that I am at, it makes life a lot easier. But it just isn’t right for me, and that’s that.

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University is awesome, and I am stressed

Yesterday I moved onto campus at what will be my home and place of learning for the next three years, and so far it has been awesome.

Awesome, and stressful, but more on that in a moment.

It’s been both fun and a relief to meet new people and start making friends. I like the people on my floor, and during o-week stuffings have met other cool people and done a lot of friending on facebook.
The relief stems from the fact that I was terrified that I’d show up at uni and be totally alone.

It’s been an interesting two days. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that back home, I most certainly had a serious case of “big fish, small pond”. In a year group of 36 and a town of 600 people, it’s easy to believe that you are special. Coming here to a place where I am a number, a shirt colour, and one tiny human in a  crowd of hundreds, I am very quickly realising how entirely un-special I am.

Interestingly, it’s something that my ego is taking incredibly well. Although one pissed off needy individual is stamping her foot and crying for attention, another larger part of me is feeing incredibly relieved that there is absolutely no pressure.
Back at home, I was feeling the heat. So many expectations from everyone you meet that you’re going to go out into the world and live this extraordinary life and do all these amazing things. All my life I’ve been driven mad by teachers and grown ups always looking at my work and giving it the praise of ‘great potential’. Or worse, ‘it’s be amazing when it’s finished!’.
In my mind, I’ve never been extraordinary. I’ve always been average, everything I do is average, everything I’ve ever aspired to do is average. But being surrounded by people who somehow have gotten the idea that you are somehow special, or you will eventually be special; it’s a dumb thing to complain about, but it’s hard. No harder, I imagine, then being told you’re worthless. But I feel almost like I’m somehow lying to people, for never correcting them and saying “actually, it’s not great potential. It’s just sheer, perfect, average mundanity”. And then there’s the added delight of becoming terrified of failure, for the simple reason of the amount of disappointment it’s going to give to everyone around you. “You did your best” echoes with “but it wasn’t enough”.

Shit like that can fuck with a persons head.

But here, I’m away from all of that. Away from anyone who knows me and seems to be under the misguided impression that I’m somehow destined for greater things. Away from any expectation of greatness or astounding success.

I am nobody. I am nothing. And it feels amazing.

I can do literally whatever I want because there is no one to disappoint and no kind of expectation to live up to.

On the other hand however, I’m also experiencing this surreal kind of, out of body-ness. It’s almost as though I’m watching all this stuff happen to somebody else. It’s almost like, I spent so much time planning and thinking and setting out this pattern, and now I’m just watching it all play out on a screen. I’ve been forgetting things, I’ve been forgetting myself. I almost don’t know how I should behave, what to say, what to do. It’s causing me a baby bit of anxiety, although the root cause of my current state of being is the fact that tutorial sign ups are tomorrow morning and I’m panicking.

But it’s okay. I’ll be okay. This week is going to be interesting.

I’m pretty keen for o-week to be over and the actual academic stuff to start. I’m keen to be back in a routine and for this new chapter of my life to start feeling normal, and not like novelty.

There’s so much stuff I want to talk to you guys about! I want to tell you all about New Zealand, and about where I’m living now, and about certain interesting developments with my online dating experiment. But right now, I desperately need to sleep.

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Stuff, and things.

Alright. So I didn’t write a post yesterday. Or the day before.

My excuse is that I’ve been super busy since getting back from New Zealand, namely, packing for uni.

Yes, that’s right.

Packing for uni.

I feel like Andy in Toy Story 3. It’s super weird.

It’s weird to me that this point is finally here. For as long as I can remember I’ve been waiting to go to uni. Ever since I was a little kid, still in primary school, from the day I found out what university was I’ve been itching to go. I started researching the course I’m going to be doing back in year 10. Through my entire school career I always knew this was where that time and effort was leading to.

It feels really weird to me that, as of tomorrow, I’ll be there.

And it’s weird to me how short a time this is actually going to be. I’ll only be at uni for three years and then what? Uh, I don’t know yet. Don’t ask me! And yet I’m so psyched after spending so much time waiting and wanting and working for this, and finally getting it.

The car is all packed up, my room is borderline empty. I’ve dealt with the traumatic event of choosing a selection of books to take with me from my collection. All I have to do now is shower and stick my toothbrush in my backpack, then tomorrow morning, I’m off!

So yeah. That’s why I’ve been delaying talking about what I got up to in New Zealand. Everything has been a bit crazy and busy and full on. Also, somewhere in that mix, I re-joined Facebook.

The next time I write to you guys, it will be from a dorm room.

Ooooh boy.

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Bad advice

I have no idea how to introduce this topic smoothly so I’m just going to jump right in and start.

You know how sometimes you’re talking to someone and you’ll say something silly because during the exchange of words, you’ve slipped into auto pilot?

For example:

“Enjoy your meal.”
“Thanks, you too!”

Or

“How are you?”
“Good, how are you?”
“I’m good, how are you?”

Bee tea dubs, I do that second one all the time!

In these situations, I think going on autopilot is okay, because when you muck it up it is pretty hilarious and more importantly, entirely harmless.

But there are other situations when going on autopilot and giving the automatic response without really listening can be quite not good at all.

And I’m talking about situations when someone asks you for advice.

See, recently I discovered one of the people I quite look up to and respect was starting a blog where they offered advice to anonymous emailers. Brilliant right! I was pretty pumped. Nothing quite so comforting as first hand help from someone I have a lot of admiration for.

So I sent then an email with my problem.

My problem was about my impending university course on creative writing. I’ve been feeling kind of nervous about it, because I’m not sure if it’s the course I should be doing because a) it won’t make me very employable and b) I’m not sure if I’d be any good at it and c) there are other things I’m interested in studying  BUT d) there’s the other voice saying “follow your heart and do it!” and e) whether anything came of it or not, it would still be a lot of fun.

So I have no idea what to do. Change my degree to something more practical and academic (less freeform, like my current course will be) or take the plunge and just do it and hope for the best and hope things work out okay.

I asked, and the advice came back in the form of two sentences:

“If you don’t want to be a writer, don’t do a writing course! You can always write in your spare time.”

See, I wasn’t really expecting wise words from a stranger to make the path ahead clear, but come on. That’s kind of crap.

Mainly because beyond oversimplifying a more complex problem, it’s also missing the point completely. my problem was never with whether or not I want to be a writer. The problem was whether it was a sensible idea to make that desire the foundation for my entire course. Of course I want to be a writer but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be one, or that I’ll be any good at it, and therefore would it be better to spend $50’000 on something I can get a job with?
But at the same time, because I want to be a writer, should I do the romantic thing and take the plunge and hope for the best?
Which would I hate myself more for, in other words. Following my romantic side, or following my practical side?

My two sentence reply didn’t help much in that regard.

So there’s the problem of not really listening, but beyond that, making out like this is something quite simple when to me, this decision is causing me quite a bit of anxiety about my future.

But my problems really aren’t everything. And since then, i’ve decided to take the writing course part time with a couple of other electives on the side, and see how things work out. It’ll be a lot of work, but it should give me an idea of what things i really am passionate about and want to commit to studying.

The issue goes further though, because I had a look through some of the other words of advice on this persons blog and found the same problem over and over again. Every plea for help, every question and query, was met with these incredibly simplistic words of advice that more often then not entirely missed the point. There was one submission however that had a reply that went longer then a paragraph, and this caught my attention.

The person was asking for romance advice. They were sixteen years old, and had never had a romantic encounter.
Hey, join the club! They were asking the usual questions, how can I get a boyfriend, is there something wrong with me, etc.

And the response I can paraphrase down to this: “Be yourself, but not as yourself.”

They suggested the following. Be yourself, a guy will like you for you. treat guys like friends (not bad advice actually) BUT in order to not become ‘one of the guys’, make sure you’re still a bit feminine, a bit flirty. Wear girly clothes and a bit of makeup. And don’t be a afraid of putting yourself out there and making the first move.

Really?

Now, i can’t exactly talk because I am perpetually single, but that just doesn’t seem like very good advice.

First of all, and it took me a long time to make my peace with this, but sometimes there just aren’t any guys who do it for you.

Wanting a boyfriend is quite different to wanting to be with someone. For ten years I wanted to be with the LTULOML (see previous blog posts) but completely separate to that was longing for a boyfriend.

If there is a guy or girl that you’re into and who’s company you enjoy and who gives you that happy fizzy feeling inside, that’s wanting to be with someone.

That more vague, non-descript, achey feeling of wanting to be wanted and not wanting to be alone, that’s quite different. One is about another person, one is about yourself.

In high school, I saw so many girls go out with guys they really didn’t like that much for no other reason then it fulfilled the achey, longing, lonely side. It wasn’t about a person, it was about having a boyfriend.

So, in not so many words, just ‘having a boyfriend’ as much as I myself have complained about this before, is not everything, and shouldn’t be as important as waiting for that person, the one that makes you feel gooey and silly and nervous, to come into your life.

My other issue with this piece of advice, is that I think it overlooked a very important point and actually managed to subtly push quite a negative one.

As a girl doomed to be forever alone, I have to say that I feel like a freak a lot of the time. I’m only nineteen, but no ones ever even asked me on a date. It’s hard not to believe that there’s something wrong with me.

BUT, even though it hurts, I know full well there are plenty of people in the same position as I am. Perfectly normal, interesting, charming people who just haven’t had that experience yet. People the same age as me, people younger, people older.
In other words, as unhappy as I feel sometimes and as alone, the truth is that I am not a freak.

This sixteen year old asking for help was not told that there is nothing wrong with her for being single. She was told how to get a guy to like her. She was, in not so many words, told that she is not normal, that being single at sixteen is not okay.

And that is total fucking bullshit.

It’s important to listen, actually listen. It’s important to not say the expected or cliché thing. Life is too complicated.

DISCLAIMER: I still respect this person even if I think their advice is a bit naff.
Speaking objectively, it could even be a good thing to be given shitty advice, because it makes you wonder why it was so unsatisfying, makes you wonder what solution you would have preferred to hear, and helps you solve your problems yourself. But still, if someone asks you for advice, that is a time to actually listen and try hard to really understand. Imagine people complexly.

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