Oh goodness, what a week. It’s crazy to look at the date as of late and recognize that I started this blog almost one year ago. One year ago I was prepping for my move to England with absolutely no clue as to how it was all going to be managed, how it was to compliment my life, or how it was going to challenge me. What can I say is that it was an utterly unpredictable move on my part in so many more ways than one. Life as I have always known it has been unpredictable. From my dad’s passing in 1992, to my dropping out of university in 2004, to my first move to England and now to my second, life has been nothing short of a badly written novel – a good story includes foreshadowing, not constant ups and downs and run-arounds. Ever since I was a little girl I tried to have a plan for something, whether it was the next day, the next week, or the next year. But at the same time, I have exploited this aspect of unpredictable happenings and pushed them to the max, trying to never focus on their absurd addition to my life until after I’ve sought after it. My application to Durham University was something silently looming in my mind, however not concerning any specifics. When I applied to this highly reputable university in North East England, it was a challenge I desperately needed to awaken my life from where it was standing. I was going through a shit time in my life, and I was feeling quite beaten and bruised emotionally and mentally, and physically I was exhausted. I was not in a place remotely close to being considered ‘happy’ or ‘satisfying’ but rather I found that I was digging myself a hole of destructible measures. I was on the brink of ending a 6 year relationship of which was no longer healthy for myself or the other party involved, and I saw Durham University as an application metaphorically tied to the notion that I either jump into a challenge that would shake me up, or give up on defining life for myself and slug through mediocre standards.
Mentally, I have been through a lot in my life. I have always been ‘different’ from most kids and teenagers as I grew up. I never took part in, nor was I interested in a popular lifestyle, rebellious behavior, or anything remotely interesting to kids my age. I think a part of me knew that life was going to throw nothing but challenges my way, and I wanted to be ready for them. I was/am ridiculously competitive, and for a good 7 years sports were more important to me than a social life of any kind – needless to say, I was a loner and quite content with such. I have never felt pressured to pursue anything that would throw me off into a dangerous spiral of ignorance, and I’ve always stayed quite proud of that. And I have always followed my own path (trust me, I have the photos to prove as such). However, nearing the completion of my Bachelor’s degree I knew how much I lacked in pride at that point and how much inspiration I was in need of. So an application to Durham was filled out, mailed off, and somehow I ended up accepting a spot in the International Studies postgraduate program. I cannot emphasize this enough, but I have never studied politics – not only have I never studied politics, I have never enjoyed reading political theory, learning about philosophical approaches to political analysis, or engaging in political lectures. Challenge? Yes, that term is an understatement of the grandest kind. Did I excel? No, no I did not. My intelligence is measured in curiousity and inquiry, rather than immediate comprehension. I crave to know, but I am very aware that what I know is not the end all, be all of truths. How does this fit into traditional English academia? Not so smoothly in fact, and it was a struggle of immense proportions. People think I’m smart, but it has taken me a long time and road to get here, and I am still very much a novice. I am very pleased that I have the characteristics to be viewed as a smart individual, but no one understands the amount of mental and emotional strength I have needed to get here. Growing up, I was the last of my friends to be asked for homework help, and I was the one always too shy to ask for any when I needed it. I was always made fun of for who I was, how I was, what I was. My teachers would explain to my mother at parent-teacher night that I was ‘different’ and asked if my mother was concerned with this (I was an extreme tomboy in a Catholic school – if you do the math, yeah, they thought I was ringing up on their gay-dar to devilish rankings). I was told by teachers in highschool that I would never succeed at my dreams, I was given up on by a few when my dissatisfaction with my surroundings got in the way of my grades, and my good nature was constantly run over time and time again.
In my final year of highschool I accepted an offer to study at Purdue University in the U.S, and so for my first time I was moving to a new country. Within my first year I came to my senses and decided life was short, and university was a waste of time for me at that moment, because I was not enjoying it at all. So I dropped out. Eventually I move to London, UK, and then to France for the winter, and the English/Wales coast for a summer before moving back to the U.S to get that pesky degree. I enrolled in a Fine Arts Photography degree program in Indianapolis, and little do people know, but I had never seen a darkroom before my first photography course. I had never heard the terms ‘aperature’, ‘ISO’, or ‘f-stop’. The extent of my art history knowledge was taught within a 3-week period in highschool. Again – novice, although I finished being recognized as one of the top 5% of our graduating photo student body. To sum up, I have spent the past five years of my academic career introducing my brain to foreign elements in order to familiarize it with the unknown. Life is unpredictable, and I want to be in full recognition of that. I want a diversely educated mind so that the term ‘normal’ has no comprehensible definition to me.
But after all of this, I am tired. And to be quite honest, I am a little lost. Challenges have always appeared alluring to me, because the things and people I want in my life are ones I want to know were worth fighting for. I want significant memories of knowing how much I worked for things in life so that I know there was something immeasurable in its value to my life. When I was little, I had a lot. I had a father who worked his ass off for our life then and our life to come, a mother who would stand up for whatever life we pursued, and a history of diverse cultures and lessons to be learned. I never had the time to acknowledge it all then, and thus it should not go ignored now. My time in Durham taught me a lot about myself, but it also made me aware of the bruises that have yet to heal from years of no confidence, instability, and meanness. I don’t believe in being mean to heal mean, to make fun in order to feel better about my ‘lack of cool’, or to belittle to feel big. And to be honest, this belief has made for a tough road to heal, because I also believe in being cognizant of my surroundings, and ignorance is not something I dabble in. This past year has definitely succeeded in being one of the most positive challenges that I have ever taken on, but that is not to say that I am at peace with it. As I said earlier, I feel rather lost now, slightly more than a year ago and with much fewer ideas as to what’s next. I’m by no means done fighting for the quality of life I wish to attain, but at times it’s easy to wonder who is fighting with you, believing in your fight, and sincerely wishing for your success. When I take on a ‘challenge’ of sorts, I am constantly asked, Are you sure this is what you want? All I can respond with at this point is that if you merely recognize the struggle as a struggle, then you’re not with me just yet. If you only see the pain as pain, you don’t see the value. If you only acknowledge the tears, the sweat, the frustration, and the anger as being ill rewards of an impossible climb, then you don’t believe in what I believe. Because the struggle is a fight for the immeasurable, the pain is a challenge accepted for something worthwhile, and the ‘ill rewards’ are the mind’s battle for what’s true in life. When the crowd at the finish line is only expecting your arrival, they are never going to acknowledge the fight that started before the gun signaled Go!
My time in Durham is done. Dissertation handed in, all moved back to Canada. What’s next? I have no clue, but I have a feeling that no matter what, I’m in for another challenge.
Until next time,
Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo