Results

Yet again, that time of year has come around where we sit and wait anxiously for numbers on a piece of paper (or email, as the case is now). Today, at my university at least, was January exam results day.

My January exams were I mess. I was a mess. I didn’t know what happened, but I didn’t feel like I possibly could have worked hard enough, and time and time again I felt like I wanted to give up, and that it didn’t matter any more. Despite that, though, I wasn’t stressed. I didn’t have panic attacks, I slept at night, and I ate good food. It was a surreal experience for me, because that’s just not how I’ve ever taken exams. I’ve just never been chilled out about it. It was bizarre, so bizarre that I am struggling to explain.

My first exam went fantastically. I went into that exam feeling extremely prepared. I was very happy, and I came out feeling confident. That was new, too. No stress, at all.

The second was great, too. Not quite the same confidence, but still good.

The third, I was angry and frustrated about afterwards. I felt medioka before, but I didn’t think I’d have gotten a good grade. I didn’t think it would be good enough for me to stay on my course, anyway.

My last exam was a mess. I struggled to work for it, I struggled to remember the content, the exam was horrific, nobody seemed to have any similar answers, and I guessed 80% of the answers. After that exam, I cried when I got home.

I cried again a few weeks later, on a night out in a toilet with my best friend, drunk. I’d forgotten about that, it was otherwise an amazing but really very hazy evening.

I’ve had the odd thought since then, but I’ve tried to block the thought of exams out of my mind. I really and truly have tried to ignore it, and I’ve done very very well at distracting myself. I knew, especially after that last exam, that results day would ruin me. I would come crashing down, and burn, and all my hard work would be wasted, and I would feel like a failure.

This morning, I had a panic attack. This afternoon, while sat in a room with my two closest course friends, they pressured me to read the email that I had sworn that I would only read on my own.

That first exam, I got 78%. The second, 64%, the third 60%, and most shockingly of all, the fourth I got 49%. I passed them all. I averaged out at a very high 2:1, and I was absolutely over the moon. Of course, everyone wants a first, but when you are convinced you’ve failed and are about to be kicked off your degree (and I have had an extremely realistic mindset recently and know for sure that’s not just general worry and exaggeration), nobody is complaining about a 2:1. I can stay on my course, and go on placement, providing I keep it up this semester. I did really well, I shocked myself, and I was so so very happy.

My dad was perhaps not so enthusiastic. I played it down and laughed it off at the time, but later, when I was at home in the silence of my own room, I cried. I cried not only because he was less enthusiastic about my 2:1, but also because I was so shocked at myself. I did so amazingly better than I expected, and he wasn’t very enthusiastic. I’ve always relied on my parents to be enthusiastic about my grades and education, even when they couldn’t be about my other achievements. Now though, I’m not getting the 100% very best grades. University is a lot harder than A Levels, and my family don’t seem to get that. It’s heartbreaking, because everyone wants those closest to them to be proud of you.

But maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t matter so much. It hasn’t affected me as much as it would in the past. I didn’t worry about texting them, because I think (although I am a little afraid to admit it), I am proud of myself. I am proud of how far I’ve come emotionally with coping with stress, and I am proud that my work has paid off, even though I thought it hadn’t. I’d set realistic goals, and to think you haven’t achieved them is gross, but I did, and I am so very happy with that.

I guess I’m learning, at last, that paper and grades don’t define me as a whole. I want to work harder next semester to get a first. I want even more time working and to do that. But I want to do it for me, not for anyone else. My best friend has spent over five years teaching me to be proud of myself, telling me that she believes in me, and having confidence in me.

Maybe I’m finally learning. Maybe it’s time to take the self-confidence I’ve never had. It’s not easy, and I’m not there yet, but this is a massive step. She’s proud of me, and in terms of emotion and coping, I’m absolutely in shock.

I’ll go to bed tonight feeling a little confused, I will admit. I am upset that I haven’t pleased my parents, but I’m extremely happy with how I’m changing emotionally, and my results on paper. I’m glad I have friends around me to laugh and have lunch with after our results, and I’m glad that my best friend is always here for me. I can’t wait to see her again. Tonight, I really miss her. She’s done a lot more for me than she’s ever going to realise, and I just wish she was here so I could give her a hug, tell her thank you, and have a minor cry so that I can work out what the hell I’m really feeling.

Right now, I’m crying and hurting, but with a smile on my face. I don’t know if this is really me, or if I’m hiding behind a happiness mask. I’ve genuinely no idea, and it’s terrifying but liberating all at the same time. It’s new. I didn’t stress. I got 68%. It’s results day.

I think it’s okay to be a little confused today.

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Ache

Hey, you! Best friend! I love you, stupid!

Don’t forget that okay?! You mean lots to me and I miss you every single day. Last year, I used to get upset. I was afraid, I guess, that something would happen and you wouldn’t be there any more. Of course, that wasn’t true. You’re always here to stand beside me and to giggle with the morning after a night out (yep, that’s got to be the best bit!).

This year has been different. I’ve been a lot more confident, in everything. I think that a lot of that has stemmed from the confidence in our friendship. I know you’re here, and that’s it. I know that when I see you again nothing will change, we will laugh, I will cry, we will worry, we’ll dance, and everyone will ask if we are a couple (lols, just no!). When I said goodbye to you this weekend, I knew it probably wouldn’t be six months until I saw you again. Of course I was sad, but not sad enough to hurt me. We hugged, we promised to Skype, and I skipped off.

Now though, I’m absolutely aching for you. I feel as though I miss you with every bone in my body, and that’s something that I haven’t felt so far in second year. It’s a little like last year, but there’s something that I can’t quite pinpoint that isn’t the same. I’m not hurting. I know you’ll be back, and I know when I inebetably need you on results day you’ll be there (hell, my next step is to call you ‘just for a chat’ – I’d love to be spontaneously confident enough to do that, and I’d love it even more the day you called me out of nowhere!). It’s not helping though, it’s not making the aching feeling in my chest go away. It’s like I’ve realised all over again exactly how much you mean to me and I just want to share that with you. I don’t want you to be hundreds of miles away, because I’m coming down from our amazing weekend and reality and a lack of laughter is slowly hitting me, and it’s hitting me hard! I’m not hurting, and I’m definitely not afraid. I’m simply aching.

Perhaps I’m finally learning the true definition of ‘I miss you’. What do you think?

Rock Bottom

I’ve hit rock bottom. It’s strange, and it’s scary, and it’s a place that I’ve not been for months and months. I don’t like it, I don’t like it one bit.

I’ve been confident and happy since I came back to university. I’ve tried and I’ve worked and started every day with a positive attitude, and it has gone superbly. I cannot believe the change within myself, and I love being so happy and carefree. It’s been beautiful.

Last week, I started exams. Exams have always been a rocky subject for me. They’ve always been the thing that has ground me down and broken me into tiny pieces, crushed me so that I am no longer able to think straight, reason straight, or even eat straight. Balls of stress build in my stomach and take over me, and every second of every day is ten times harder when fighting back tears and forcing myself to eat when I feel the constant queasy sensation of nerves for weeks and weeks upon end. Spending time with other people is simply not an option, and I find myself slipping into a dark abyss, screaming and struggling for someone to rescue me.

But not this time. I’ve done very well so far. The positivity has reigned, and I’ve made it through with hunger pangs, heathly snacks, regular meals, lots of sleep, evenings with my flat mates and revision. I took my first two exams, the second of which I was extremely confident for. I’ve never gone into an exam feeling confident, or gone into an exam with no nerves at all. I was surprised, so surprised. I was struggling with tiredness before I got there, but I was confident and a day in bed didn’t seem to matter, like it would have ripped me into guilt before. It was weird.

The exam didn’t go so well, and I left in tears, my confidence crushed. That was Thursday, and I’ve still got the hardest two exams ahead of me. I feel defeated, and I’m not sure what to do. I’ve tried to carry on, but eating is getting harder, and whilst I enjoy time with my flat mates, the pit of nervous guilt I feel later has been haunting me. I’m not sleeping well, at all, and slowly but surely the familiar ache of the exam season has returned.

This evening, I hit rock bottom. I feel like I’ve fallen to the bottom of the pit. I can’t see a way out, and I know that if I took the two exams I have this week right now, I’d fail them. That’s not just the pessimist in me, that’s the whole and honest truth. And I’m terrified, because academically, I’ve never failed. My academics have been something I’ve been able to rely on, results, whilst terrifying, a strange familiarity in my often crazy life.

Now, I’m not so sure, and for the last few hours at least, I’ve not been coping. I’m not sure how to change that, and I know I won’t wake up tomorrow being the confident one again. The pit is back, the fear is back, the guilt is back, and I have no motivation. I can’t make myself work, because it’s then that I remind myself of just how little I know. I’m very very afraid, and I wish there was someone who could help me.

I’ve realised that I’m very alone. In my waves of confidence, I’ve forgotten how to speak out to those who mean the most to me. I need to talk to my best friend, and I thought I had tried but I’m not sure that I have. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, maybe she too was fooled by my recent waves of confidence and thinks this is just a wobble. Maybe she’s just busy.

I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel about this. Life isn’t as easy when your confidence is gone, and I don’t like being rock bottom.

Five days and two exams to go.

Help me, I’m terrified.

Up, Up and Away

To me, flying is a bit like goodbyes. They both make me feel the same kind of way, and I guess that’s a little bit strange.

But today, I said goodbye, and I flew.

I may have been flying home, but I was flying away from safety. That’s rather scary, too. I was flying away from my one source of trust, hope, and love. I was flying away from friendship, and flying back to my home, soon to embark on my second year of university. I was afraid, and I was upset. I miss my best friend always, and I was terrified that  the return of education may cause anxiety may overtake my life like it has done so many times before.

But that was nearly four months ago now, the day that I flew and said goodbye. That was the day that I left my best friend, and a mere few days later I started university again. Compared to last year, this semester has been more than okay, and it appears that the worry in first year was for nothing. Hell, I’ve had ups and downs. Don’t we all? But I made it, I’m alive, and another semester has been survived.

I saw that friend again today, and once more, I said goodbye. It’s strange, how each goodbye pangs in your heart a little less than the one before. I guess that with each goodbye, a hello soon follows, and I’m learning that she’s not going to abandon me. I’m okay and we’re strong and we are well and truly in this together.

Yes, I’m worried about going back to university to take my exams, but I know it will not be impossible. I’ll manage. It’s strange, but this time, I’m feeling a tiny spark of confidence deep within me that no matter what happens, it’ll be okay. People love me, people care about me, and while I have high expectations of myself and even bigger dreams, I’ll work my hardest and the exams will pass and we’ll move on. A percentage isn’t all that I’m made of.

Perhaps I haven’t worked as hard as I should have this Christmas. Perhaps I will panic and fret and get worked up and stressed, but for now I must enjoy my last night at home.

I don’t feel well and I cannot concentrate on the cardiovascular system tonight. I feel sick. I’ll do some more tomorrow, before I take my train.

Goodbye home, goodbye safety, goodbye comfort, goodbye best friend. I’ll miss you, but I hope to see you super duper soon! Stand by me, please?

I’m wishing for hopes and dreams, I’m wishing for concentration, I’m wishing for early morning text messages and silly letters in the post. I’m wishing to smile during exam season, the season that is the hardest for me.

I’m wishing that somehow I’ll get through this with more drive than I usually do, to stay happy and to not let the exams drag me down.

Goodbyes are hard. I’ll miss you.

Resolutions

It has been three months since I last wrote on this blog, and I feel like perhaps, with 2016 upon us, it is in need of a little bit of love. I have forgotten to write, banished it from my life in the hope that I would be free from the memories that this blog carries with it. I wanted this year at university to be different. And it has been, and I love it, but we can’t just forget the past, and I mustn’t forget how important this blog has been to be in times of need. As exam season approaches again, I need to find the time to blog, and to be who I am on my own, not when I am surrounded by the madness of everyday life.

A lot has changed in the last few months, and this year, I know I have achieved some of the goals on my bucket list. I’m proud of how far I’ve come this year, and I’m proud of my friends and family, too. Each and every one of them.

Today however, is the start of a new year. I guess the norm would be to set resolutions. But do I really have any? I have things I’d like to achieve this year: get my Rainbow sleepover licence, pass all my exams, have a fabulous start to my placement, just to name a few. Resolutions, though? Changes? I don’t think so. Is change really all that important? Of course, because change happens around us all the time, but equally I don’t feel like change is something that I can actively control, and I am beginning to accept that. I could make a resolution to be happier, but whilst there’s things I can do to encourage that, there’s far too many factors outside of my control.

Instead, I plan to wipe a few more things off my bucket list, try my hardest in everything that I do, and make the most of every second that I have, especially with those who mean the most to me. A new year shouldn’t be about forced changes. I don’t want to be one of those ‘new year fitness’ type people, and I won’t be.

Because as I told someone very late last night, I’m not cool. I don’t want to be cool, and I don’t care about being cool. I don’t need to be just another human clone, fitting into society as society has forced us to feel as we should.

I am me, and I’ll always be me. Nothing can change that.

Five Years

Five years, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really that long. But when you look at it that I’m twenty in a few months, five years seems much longer – a quarter of my life in fact. And five years is the amount of time I’ve known my best friend, as facebook very kindly told us today.

There’s times when I wonder how we made it though that time: how did she ever put up with me? How have I coped with her? But the answer is simple, we care about and love each other more than the other realises. That’s what friendship is about, and I love and appreciate that more than anything else in the world.

Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs. All friends do, and it’s perfectly normal. We’ve got our happy memories and laughter, and we have our regrets. In fact, I have a lot of regrets. But it’s important not to focus on the past, and instead consider the future.

There’s been times when I thought I might loose her, either through pushing her away with my own silliness, or really, actually loosing her. Forever, and gone. Dead. I hate that word. There’s been nights that I’ve been terrified that I won’t see her in the morning, or that she won’t want me to care anymore and will demand to never see me again. There’s been many many nights that I’ve worried about her.

I wish I had a magic wand and could make it all okay, for both of us.

But I can’t, so what’s important is that I’m always here for her. She could call me in tears at 3am, and I wouldn’t care. Hell, I’ve called her in tears at that time. She could call me one afternoon and tell me not to ask questions but make her laugh, and I’d try my complete and honest best to do so. She could ask me to sit in silence with her just so she knew that someone was there, and I would do it. She’s done it for me. If she needed me to, I’d happily jump on a plane and see her right now. I’d travel wherever she needed to go. I would do absolutely anything, and I truly and honestly mean that from the bottom of my heart.

I miss her every single day and I think about her every day. I worry about her every day, regardless of how she actually is. I wonder how little parts of my day would be different if she was there, and sometimes there’s nothing I can do to make myself feel okay because I just need her by my side, and she can’t be there. She’s far away now, and I miss her. I miss her more than I should, or more than I’d care to let anyone know.

Because friendship is everything to me. So here’s to the next five years, and that thought brings the escape of the single tear that I’ve been fighting back for weeks. Because I’m very very lucky to have someone who means and cares so much.

Alcohol

I’ve never been completely comfortable with the idea of drinking. When I first came to university, it was something that I had made an effort to actively avoid, and so the first few weeks were a bit of a shock. I remember standing in the queue for the main event at freshers week. Someone threw a drink over me. I was terrified. I didn’t really get drunk all week, even though I did have a bit of alcohol. I watched those around me loose control and it scared me. As the semester went on, I got more and more comfortable with the idea of being tipsy, and whilst I was still ready to come home by 1.30am, I began to enjoy going out.

Over the summer, I didn’t drink. There was the odd glass of wine with a meal, but nothing more. I was happy with that, I can’t see a point in drinking really unless you’re going to get drunk and go out. I came back here last week feeling very much like I was out of practice. More confident with alcohol still, but lacking understanding again of what my levels are, and when I should stop and how much to drink.

I came back to a night out with pre drinks at ours. I was ready to go out that night, but we crashed on the sofa. Nobody else wanted to go, and I was gutted as I’d been very excited and was perfectly tipsy. The Friday, I skipped. I had a Skype meeting that night anyway. Saturday was my first experience of a house party. I feel like they’re half of the problem. There’s people everywhere, there’s no fun social drinking games to keep me distracted, and I have to make a super effort to talk to people, which is something I struggle with anyway, never mind when I’ve just started drinking alcohol and so am feeling uncomfortable. I let a friend pour my drinks, and I was brought home at 11pm unable to remember most of the evening. Last night was another house party. I poured my own drinks, it was going okay, and at about 10.30pm I was an excellent level of drunk. The problem: we didn’t go out until midnight and the last two drinks tipped me over the edge. I didn’t fancy a thirty minute walk to the club and I came home in tears, in the dark and on my own. I hate the dark. I tried to call my friend to leave her a message like I always do in the dark, but her answer machine had changed and I panicked that I’d gotten a wrong number. Maybe I just need to choose a drink that’s not vodka, something that has a little more of a gradient between ‘I’m enjoying this’ and ‘I hate this’. But what? I’ve no idea. Peach Schnapps? Sure, but with what? I’m a novice at this, and nobody out there seems to get that, so I just copy the crowd and get the vodka back out.

I’m not sure how to approach the issues. Alcohol is the social life here at university. Yes, there’s societies where alcohol is less of a focus, and chilled out coffee’s between lectures with course friends, but if I want to stay in touch with those who I lived with last year, I simply feel like I have to drink. I’m not enjoying it, I’m struggling with what’s the right level, and when we have been out so far, I’ve not felt safe.

And perhaps that’s what it all boils down to, safety. I need to be safe, and I need to know that those around me are safe. That nobody will do anything stupid and that we’ll all get home. I don’t enjoy the rash decisions that people make when they’re drunk, because I like to think thing through and consider the outcome. It’s difficult, I know. I’m someone who often doesn’t feel safe, but there’s not many people, and certainly none at university, who know that.

I’ve woken up this morning with an overwhelming desire that I just want to go home. Whilst I’m not going to, and I know that’s probably just as much about the amount of work I need to do today as it is the alcohol, I wish there was someone I could talk to. I need a friend to hold my hand and let me go through everything I feel about alcohol. Because I can’t go on like this forever, university is meant to be for fun, not for unhappiness.

Regrounding Myself

I’m one of those people who finds social situations difficult sometimes. Equally, I’m someone who loves to be busy, and never to miss out. And of course, that leads to a girl who is always sleepy. I’m trained into early nights, deep sleeping, and naps. I can sleep through almost anything. I self regulate really well. I get nine hours of sleep per night, and I’m generally really good at making sure I keep on top of it, because I know that if I don’t, I simply won’t cope, and then I won’t achieve anything.

There’s some times though that it doesn’t quite work that way, and the result usually goes one of two ways – either I find the free time early enough to sleep for a long time and catch up, or I just power through for weeks and months until I am mentally and physically about to break from exhaustion, and the first second that I’m left alone with nothing to focus on, I break down.

That’s what’s happening right now.

I’m lucky in that tonight, I’m simply overtired from a very non-stop summer and now four days of constantly being surrounded by people who I haven’t seen for months, and thus needing to be social 24 hours a day. I’m not a naturally social person, and so long in the company of others is exhausting. But I’m not shaking uncontrollably or sick with worry, because there’s nothing to be worried about right now. I just need to cry myself into an early and deep sleep, let myself go a bit, ground myself, remember who I am, and I’ll be okay tomorrow.

I need some time to just be me, not the social butterfly that I need to be in order to make the most of and enjoy my time as a student. I need to enjoy the silence and listen to my own breathing because the real work starts next week, and I can’t afford to have this much stress built up in my system.

I can’t afford to bottle, and I’m feeling more and more every day like that is what I’m doing now. I’m starting to bottle again, and that beginning to worry me a little.

It’s nights like tonight, when I’m having my moment, that I really miss home. Most of all, I miss my best friend and her words of advice, and warm hugs. I miss my old life, when I got tired and stressed but I wasn’t worried about my friends from home telling me they are okay when they’re not, because I saw them every day and knew when they weren’t okay. And I didn’t have to be social quite so much and exhaust myself quite so much because more people accepted my need to sometimes be alone. 

But then I remember how hard things were that year, and I don’t want to go back.

But it’s nights like tonight if I question if things are any better now, or if I’m still ignoring the truth and keeping it all closed inside me?

And then maybe I’m just overtired, and that’s why I feel like this. 

I appreciate time alone though, I know that much. I have to ground myself, and whilst a small pang tells me I’m missing out by not going out tonight, I know in my heart that this way, tomorrow night will be so much more fun when I’m well rested. Alcohol and stress are shit, because nobody wants to watch me cry all night, and I want to have a good time if I get drunk, alcohol causes enough anxiety as it is.

Sleeping tonight will make tomorrow better. I’ll be so excited!

Contented

I feel easy, free, happy, warm and fuzzy. I’m content, and it’s beautiful. I always feel awesome after time with my best friend, it’s like a complete detox from the world. I think her awesome-ness just rubs off on me a little, and it makes me feel all glowing inside. I absolutely love it.

Despite an afternoon of a nagging brother, a very stressful day ahead tomorrow, and feeling very tired, I’m coping well with the world. I’m noticing little things today. I’m appreciating the little things, and I’m taking the time to float around on my little happy cloud and to just be. No expectations, no anxiety, just being.

I did a good deed today. I went to the supermarket, and as I walked from the far end of the car park, I watched the people climbing into and out of their cars, busying themselves and going about their day. Being such an introvert, I love to people watch. It helps me to figure out the world and to learn a little about people, to try and understand people, and what makes us who we are. To understand what makes my best friend so caring, and some other people so disgusting. Sadly, it’s something I don’t often get time to do. I lead a busy life. But today, on my happy cloud, I found time. I noticed, whilst walking through the supermarket carpark, two ladies. One, elderly and struggling to walk, and the second presumably her daughter. They’d just loaded the shopping into the car and whilst the older woman struggled to climb into the back seat, the younger one was trying to negotiate two trolleys into some kind of organised form so she could transport them back. ‘Hey,’ I said ‘Would you like me to take those for you?’ She was speechless. I took them, and as I walked away I heard them discussing how nice it was. That made me smile, that I could make someone else happy, and just prove to one more person that not all teenagers are the same. We’re not all the stereotype.

Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band. I’ve fallen in love. It’s not the only thing I’ve fallen in love with this week – look at this, it’s not surprising that I’m chilled!

 

But my best friend is awesome. Nobody else on earth makes me feel this good about myself. She’s looked after me again, and taught me that people will always care about me. She’s reinforced my ‘okay-ness’ and I can’t thank her enough. She’s a shining star, that girl, I only wish she could see it.

I owe her a thank you. Her, and her flat mates. They made my time full of laughter, and made me content that I can socialise if I try. The world is fairly safe.

In my content-ness and warmth, I’ve been thinking. Thinking about supporting myself through the enevitable stress of second year; and also trying a variation of something I saw online. Every week, I’m going to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. Idea for challenges are needed, I’m going to write the list best week and I only have two or three things so far! Sometimes that’s going to terrify me and there’s weeks when I’m sure the task won’t end well, but even from 500 miles away, my best friend stands by my side.

And I’ll stand by her. Forever and always.