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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Officially a Runner

At primary school, I always came last on school sports day. At high school, I used to dread the summer – the hot weather meant outdoor PE, which inevitably meant athletics. That of course meant that eventually, the 800 meters would come around. I’d be at the back again, struggling to breathe but determined not to drop out like many of the others. A year ago, when my best friend suggested a 10K run, I laughed in her face.

12 weeks ago though, I signed up for the Race for Life. Three weeks ago, I still couldn’t run more than 2K, and today was the first time I ever ran a full 10K. Today was race day.

My plan to keep on running went out of the window. Wait, no, that’s not what I mean! I ran it all, and I did it in an amazing 1 hour and 11 minutes, but I didn’t use all the tips I made for myself. I simply read people’s back signs, chatted to a few people along the way, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. A few times, I turned around to see someone just slowing to a walk, and I said ‘Come on, you can do it.’ The smile that they gave me in return spurred me on, and when at one point someone turned around and said the same to me, I smiled too.

At 8K, I began to worry that I hadn’t spotted my best friend yet. She promised that she’d come back for me, and she hadn’t. What if something had happened to her? At 9K, I got angry. She must have finished by now, where on earth was she? I’d never ever say this out loud, but all that had kept me going from the 5K point was the knowledge that she would come back for me, and we’d finish together. I was exhausted but under no circumstance was I going to let her down. With about 500m to go, I was just coming to terms with the fact that I’d have to finish without her, and suddenly, she popped up. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so hard in all my life. We did it, we crossed the line together, we crossed the line hand in hand, and we crossed the line at a sprint. I was so happy with myself and I couldn’t help but pull her into a hug.

‘See,’ she said later. ‘I came back for you, didn’t I?’ She knows. She knows exactly how much I had resting on that, and how much it meant to me. ‘You could have done if without me though, you ran it all, and you didn’t even need me!’ I just wish that I’d asked the question that was lurking in my head. I didn’t, because even now, I’m still a little afraid of what the answer might be.

‘You will always come back for me, won’t you? Always?’

Now though, I’m a runner. And you know what makes me know for sure? The thing that made me finally decide? I got back into the car, started driving home, and a few minutes later, I said ‘So, are we still running this Saturday?’

Three months ago, I would have never EVER have even dreamed of saying that.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Proud.

I heard online that yesterday was national best friend day. Of course, I don’t know the source of this statement, and although I did some research, I cannot find a conclusive statement. I’m inclined to believe that it’s not true, but I’m going to relish the opportunity anyway. This evening, instead of worrying, I’m happy. I’m smiling, I’m alive, and as I sat and watched the sun set, I decided that I think that it’s time I paid tribute to my best friend.

There is someone out there who I worry about every single day. Every waking moment I spent worrying, thinking about how I can make it better for her. I know that no matter how many times she’s made my problems better for me, I can’t solve this one for her. She’s always by my side, and she’s always there to provide a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold. For that, I’m so grateful. Because that means more than any words ever can.

I can never even begin to understand what living with an eating disorder must be like, but today, she gave me hope. There are many times that I’m proud of her, for all manner of reasons. Proud isn’t a word that I aim to use too often, because I like it to be special. I relish the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when someone tells me that they’re proud of me, and I like it to be the same for those around me. Today however, I’m feeling really proud. It’s difficult to put into words what it is that has made the feel that way. I guess it has been building for a while now; I can’t name one particular event. Today was pretty special however. We shared ice cream at lunch time. For any other friends, probably a normal occurrence. For me, a shock. For us, something to smile about. Although it took some talking through, some fast decisions, and a hell of a lot of anxiety (she would never dream of admitting it, but I could nearly see the waves rolling off her), we did it. And I enjoyed it.

This evening, she was feeling really down. She’s eaten a lot more today than she has in a while, and in one of our little text chats, I feel like she let me see the side of her that I don’t very often get to see.

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That made me feel special. That, and she said today that she’d like a hug. Normally, it’s me asking for the hugs. When she’s fighting that food related battle in her head, I want nothing more than to hold her tight and tell her that it’ll all be okay. It means a lot to me that tonight, she said that she wanted that, too. Of course, none of this changes anything, but it made me smile. And you know what? I’m so proud of her that I’m getting that same warm happy feeling inside, too.

I don’t know what, but I feel like something has clicked today. I feel like I trust her more now, and that it’ll go on forever, this friendship. No, that doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure that I can put it into words. I just feel. I’m feeling better. I’m feeling a little more alive. I feel like whatever it is, it’s a good feeling, and a positive change. Not that it really is a change.

I know that the twenty first century is a very busy place, but this evening, I ask you to take some time out. I ask you to use that time to say thank you to your best friend, and to remind them that you’re always there for a hug for the odd time that they might need one too. And don’t forget to tell them yet again that you love them to the moon and back, three times over.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw