Work in Progress

Dear Reader,

I’m feeling a bit stuck. I’m not always the best at articulating exactly how I feel as I’m feeling it, but I can’t seem to shake the sense that I need to say something, anything, in the hope that, perhaps, others feel just as hopeless in articulating this inarticulate state of mind as I do. Still with me? I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t.

If you’ve been following The Brezel Diaries for a while (despite the lack of posts over the last few months- sorry- life took over somewhat. Maybe I’ll tell you about it some time) then you’ll know I was on my year abroad up until the beginning of September. The spiel which our tutors gave us before we left for unknown lands was that coming back into our final year of study fresh from our foreign adventures would be a great thing. It could only be a good thing, they said. Students returning from a year out always got better marks than they had before, they said. We’d be motivated, refreshed. The end would be in sight and we’d be ploughing towards it, casting aside anything in our way.

It’s not like that though. At least, not for me.

I had probably the best year of my life in Hamburg. I travelled, I laughed, I loved in a lot of different ways, I met wonderful people. I learned a lot about myself, others and life in general. (Probably should have spoken more German though.) But then I came back, and that experience was cut short.

There is a lot to be said for coming back to all the familiar faces and places you’ve known and loved in the years before you branched out and found there was a different way of life out there. Equally, there is a lot to be said for finding your feet on foreign turf and going it alone for a little while. These are two extremely different things, which, due to their very contrast, I suppose do express how I’m feeling.

Were it not for some of the lovely people I have around me at the moment, I’m not sure how I would have fared so far in this fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree. I can’t speak for others but I’m fairly sure that all of us have found this first term difficult in one way or another. For me, it’s being back into that cycle of learn-panic-revise-panic-exam-more panic, peppered with the intermittent delight of stress and illness, which is taking its toll. Let’s also not forget the immeasurable joy which the (currently postponed, soon to be back with a vengeance) marking boycott in some red-brick universities is exacting on the process. It’s a barrel of laughs, do give it a google.

People keep asking what I’m going to do with my life once I’ve graduated. To be honest, I don’t really want to talk about that. So please do forgive me if I seem rude, it’s just that I don’t have my shit together enough to give you the mature answer you probably want, because I haven’t got a clue myself.

I spend my time torn between wanting to settle, and wanting to get on the next available plane to anywhere. Part of me wants that beautiful Tudor-style multiple-bedroom home one day, and the other wants a cosy apartment in a buzzing city. Half of my heart wants to lace up my trainers, whack on a hoodie and head to the gym, while the other half wants a pair of Louboutins, an LBD and an elaborate cocktail in a manicured hand while sat in a glitzy bar somewhere.

On some days I think about trying to find a place on a graduate scheme in the city with a decent wage, knowing really that I don’t want to get sucked into the corporate world at this age, and other days none of that even matters; I’d settle for less, if you see it that way, if it made me happy.

And that, I suppose is the key. Out of all of this, I just want to be happy. Really I’ve never wanted anything more, in whichever form that may take. But I am so aware of these dichotomies that it paralyses me. Instead of doing the wrong thing, I do nothing, which ultimately is wrong in itself.

I suppose the moral of the story, if you can deduce one from this ramble, is to be good to yourself. It’s ok not to know what you want, and others should also recognise that it has nothing to do with them if your future isn’t the way they see it. It’s your future after all. We’d all do well to pay a little more attention to that.

I have faith in the fact that I, and anyone else who might feel in limbo, will figure it out in our own way. Because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only way.

“We are the girls with anxiety disorders, filled appointment books, five-year plans. We take ourselves very, very seriously. We are the peacemakers, the do-gooders, the givers, the savers. We are on time, overly prepared, well read, and witty, intellectually curious, always moving… We pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible and thrive on self-deprivation. We drink coffee, a lot of it. We are on birth control, Prozac, and multivitamins… We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We never want to be as passive-aggressive as our mothers, never want to marry men as uninspired as our fathers… We are the daughters of the feminists who said, “You can be anything,” and we heard, “You have to be everything.”
Courtney Martin

Charlotte x (now back to googling wanderlust-fuelled, hypothetical flights to Bali between doing research for my Holocaust essay)

if you're 22...

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