I have an active mind. Perhaps, I sometimes wonder, if that is part of my downfall. I need stimulation and I need a challenge in order to be happy, feel satisfied and achieve a level of fulfilment. This has often led to my needing a career in which I can reach this fulfilment. Even if not in the short term, but I have always been needing to work towards a bigger picture, a stimulating picture, a picture that I can create for myself in my future. I have wanted to be a writer for a long time, and still have the ambition to write a book, or two, or perhaps three.
I used to write for magazines and remember the thrill of first being published. Me, my name in the credits, my name next to those features. I did it. A magazine article isn’t quite a book though, and that is the ultimate ambition. Writing aside though, and back in the real world, I need the same from a paying career.
When I was unwell, I postponed my final year at uni. Then I had to postpone it again, and then again. Fortunately I have since realised that fashion isn’t quite the world for me, but in all of those postponed years I was too unwell to work. I tried volunteering, I tried applying for jobs, and I attempted internships. Each time though, my mental health got better of me and I couldn’t manage it. I had to keep dropping out. The girl too stubborn to take a break became a perpetual drop out for 3 years.
Finally, I started to look into a career change for when I managed to become well again. I am now an aspiring dietitian and I’m at college on an Access to Medicine course that is part time and flexible, but intense. The major point being is that I am at college. I am studying again.
To travel there, and swipe my card gives me a sense of purpose and belonging that had been lacking in my most unwell years. The going into class and being challenged, learning about thought provoking topics such as biology and chemistry really gives me a sense of well being that makes me feel proud. I am proud to have come so far that I can sit in class and learn about genetics. I am proud that I can sit in a classroom and learn about the properties of chemicals and be so mentally stimulated that I am tired after class. My thirst for more knowledge, my desire to get good grades keeps my fire burning.
Most of all though, I am grateful. I am grateful for my second chance, and grateful that there is a college to go to. I am grateful to be well enough to travel there most days, and sit in a classroom full of people, whilst navigating jammed corridors also full of people, who, even worse for my anxiety, I don’t know.
I am grateful that on my days off I can spend time reading and learning, and to get the satisfaction of sitting a test to prove to myself that no, I am not stupid. I am not so stupid as all those years in my high school would have had me believe. I am not so stupid that I cannot do this. I am bright enough, and for that I am also grateful because it helps my need to be challenged and stimulated.
My gratitude extends further. I am grateful that I am now able to talk to people in class. I can make small talk and conversations about nothing too much. I can smile at people, and say, “Hello, how are you?” We go for coffee, and we smoke rollies together. We talk about work and about how our days are: a moan about people on the underground here, a laugh about study skills there and a talk about the different cultures people come from in between.
From this I feel an overwhelming drive to try my hardest to manage my mental health. From this I feel an overwhelming sense of pleasure from being in class and learning again. From this I feel proud, proud that I did it, proud that I got into my college and that my grades have been good so far.
The gratitude goes further, I am also grateful that I can allow myself to feel pride. I can allow myself to feel enjoyment without guilt, that I can focus on my studies and not what I ate for lunch for the past 3 weeks, if I ate lunch that is. This is thanks to therapy, but within that, I am also proud that I managed to engage enough to manage these positive feelings about myself.
As it turns out, I am not as stupid as they would have had me believe. I am not so much of a waste of space as I was taught to think. So for my journey from there to now, I am grateful, and grateful for the tiniest achievements that many take for granted. So when I go to class, even if I am in a grumble of a mood, inside I am smiling overall.