today is a day for trepidation and celebration.

Well. Despite having to cut nigh-on 1000 words from it (including the entire idea of society’s fear of women’s sexual agency being linked to the sublime, alas I am still not over this), my Gothic essay has served me well and I have passed the module with flying colours. I’m a mite worried about my other module – Modernism – but the grade for that is in the pigeonholes at uni so I will have to fret about that until I can go get it tonight. How well I’ve done overall this year mostly hangs in the balance of a piece of work I only submitted recently and whether a) it’s as shit as my anxiety thinks it is, and b) whether anxiety with a doctor’s note is good enough for the mitigating circumstances board. I don’t think I have a hope with it, but other people do, so we will see. I would hate to have fucked up my academic career because I was too afraid to hand in a piece of work I considered sub-standard (but was of a higher calibre than others in the class…)

I am now prepping solidly for next year – I have a stack of books, have ordered an even bigger stack of books (you honestly don’t want to know my expenditure on German poetry and Enlightenment philosophy this month – nobody should be spending that percentage of their income on Kant and chums), and made myself a bullet journal tailored specifically to the needs of my dissertation. I have begun my reading with Terry Eagleton and a new history of Germany and am making notes of everything I find interesting in the hope that a question or theme will present itself to me.

To-do

  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for some level of leftish success in today’s GE (if Cthulu wants blood to take away Theresa May, he shall have it)
  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for DREAM JOB to interview me (they said they would announce shortlisted candidates this week)
  • Stay away from the television, news and all but the most superficial social media until tomorrow. It’s not worf it, mate.

Descriptors I Would Never Have Used For Myself

Last night, one of my friends called me a perfectionist. It made me stop and look around for a moment, and realise that maybe sometimes other people see me with more clarity than I see myself.

ferris bueller

I began to understand that when I was in therapy – my therapist made me see myself in more complex ways than I did before I saw her, but that’s her job. When one of your friends says something that reflects on behaviours that they have seen enacted multiple times, and therefore know as an aspect of your personality, it makes you stop and take stock of who you are. Your identity can be as much tied up in what other people think of you as how you define yourself, and I think her assertion was fair as well as surprising.

Here is a list of things I would not use to describe myself, but other people would definitely say about me.

A Perfectionist

I just like things to be as good as they can be, OK? But when you decide to flunk and redo uni modules because you think one of your essays is a 2:1 rather than a first, or massively freak out because your rice is cooked but your stir fry isn’t going to be done for a while then maybe you have to accept that your obsession with things being the best is coming from a different place than most people’s.

A Picky Eater

I would not have called myself picky. I love food! I love to cook, and I love to eat different cuisines and foods I haven’t tried before. BUT. There is a long list of foods I don’t like or won’t eat (from meat to mushrooms and from cucumbers to capers) and some of my requirements are quite specific (I like cashews but I don’t like their texture so they have to be cooked, I only like lemon in sweet things and never eat it savoury). I have been called picky before, and may have to accept that I am at least a little picky.

An Extrovert

This one is difficult. I do not believe for sure I am an extrovert, but I am definitely extroverted – I smalltalk well, I make friends quite easily, and usually show myself to have a lot of energy. Sometimes, though, I just don’t have the energy to deal with other people, and I usually recharge by myself or with one or two trusted people. It’s most noticeable in a morning – I like mornings, but if I have to speak to or engage with anyone for the first hour I am awake it makes me disproportionately grumpy. The whole introvert/extrovert thing is complicated by my anxiety – am I an extrovert with social anxiety? Am I an introvert with extrovert tendencies? Maybe it depends on the day. But you would be justified in calling me extroverted.

An Animal Person

I definitely wouldn’t call myself an ‘animal person’ – even though I (really) want a cat, I am more pleased by animal gifs than most people, love to walk along the portion of the canal path that goes through London Zoo, and follow more cat pages on social media than somebody who does not like animals would do. In addition – I’m a fucking vegetarian! My thoughts on vegetarianism are more complex than just ‘aww the floofies’ (I support the rights of Mexicans in America too, without having much curiosity regarding Mexican culture or defining myself as ‘a Mexican person’ – you don’t have to be interested or invested in something to want there to be less suffering in the world), but it adds up to the reasonable inference on the part of other people that, yes, fine, I might be an animal person. I don’t think they’re very interesting, though – just cute.

Lion-cat-cutest-cat

Anxiety is beginning to make me feel sick.

I will not have this, not right now.

I’m not going to accept having to ‘eat over’ the pit in my stomach that tells me I’m not hungry, feel sick, don’t need water.

I’m not going to accept my body’s craving junk food.

I’m not going to accept the overwhelming urge to go straight home to sleep after work.

I’m not going to accept that I don’t care about my job, because I do. I’m not going to accept that I care about all of the irrelevant things, because I don’t.

I’m not going to accept the urge to shout at people, because I don’t actually want that.

I’m not going to accept the urge to not speak to anybody, because I will be energised by their encouragement.

I’m not going to accept that I can’t take the pressures of life, because I can. I’ve done this all before.

I’m not going to accept that this is me.

To Do:

  • Finish essay 1
  • Watch The Love Witch
  • Eat food

Four Weekends.

I have four weekends until my next uni essay is due in. Two bank holidays. One evening of plans in all of that, and yet… I am irrationally worried that I won’t get my work done. The anxiety is creeping up on me like a sitcom kiss, present in all my conversations like a season finale, making the hairs on the back of my neck rise at the slightest thought of anything I ought to be working on.

The problem is – and that is if this can be called a problem – I care. This is the first thing in my life that I have felt really driven to succeed at, the first that I have felt that it is possible to succeed whilst actually wanting to. In my mind, that has manifested as a demon that whispers ‘if you fail it’s your fault‘. I know I’m capable, but I’m scared of finding out I’m not. When that’s combined with ambitions for a top grade, normal job/social life pressures and the fact that everybody else I know graduated years ago, it stops being just about procrastination and getting my fucking act together, it feeds off my poor brain chemistry to cause crippling inertia and several interconnected and irrational fears.

meta-chart

Essentially, what anxiety is telling me to do is cancel all my plans and curl up into a ball. That part of my brain wants me to cancel my plans so that I can work on my essay, whilst knowing full well I will not be able to work on my essay in this time due to mind being all over and regrets and fear of failure and mania. Fear of incorrect citations is new, and I’m not super sure what to do about it, other than ignore it and check it at the end.

Usually what I do in this time is go to the library – you can’t watch Drop The Dead Donkey re-runs in the library because people would glare at you, and it’s much more compelling to work than it is to stare off into space so I end up getting (some) work done, even if I’m not in the right frame of mind. But the library is closed for Easter, and it’s cold in my room and easy to be distracted.

If anybody has any motivation tips, I would really appreciate it. This is my big bug-eyed first-world-problem demon, and I need to stab it in the neck.

darth-mauls-death-o

Whilst I was writing this, the friend I was supposed to be seeing tonight cancelled our plans and gifted me a free evening. To work! At my nice clean desk that I tidied yesterday! Yes! Work! I wanted to see the friend not the theatre production anyway.

Everyone glamorous is pretending. For sure.

What do you pack when you go and see your parents? I always have to make an effort when I go back to Leicester as you never know who might see you. I always sort-of hope that after my years ho-ing with no-hopers and the (obviously) small-town bullies of my youth (b27693fbfcc0322d045d706d193829b3_sparkly-snowflake-clipart-1-snowflake-clipart-gif_420-300) I will run into somebody – anybody – I know, whilst looking like The Girl Who Lives The London Life. I want to be smart and distant and distinctive and too good for people who thought that was weird for those exact same reasons in the past, and Leicester is a small enough town that it might actually happen. So what I pack is a full arsenal of makeup, my nicest (distinctive) clothes and some niche, difficult books. Also stuff I want to leave at my folks’ place, as I very rarely go back, and I invariably forget something major and have to go to Superdrug (this time – deodorant, last time – tootbrush). I am not the queen of packing.

Glamour is hard – my back is bloody killing me from sitting in the back of my dad’s Jaguar, and it was so windy my Grand National hat kept nearly blowing off my head. My skin is bad now and I already have a noticeable chip in my nail polish (did I seriously used to paint my nails every two days? Eurgh, what grotesque effort). But the glorious thing about the times I do this is that being petty like this is marvellous for imposter syndrome: when your only aim is to look like the platonic form of you, it’s easy to remind yourself of everything you want to be, all of the aspects of your own personality that you’re proud of, all the weird knowledge unique to your interests. Damn, you thought my interest in old movies was something to make fun of? Check out my film-noir hat. Oh, you thought I was too intelligent for my own good? I hope you see me reading academic interpretations of difficult poetry. You thought I was a loner? The truth is I was always aloof, and I’m more interesting than you ever were.

The truth is what, though? Achievement of the day (possibly of the week, not sure, it’s early days yet) is coming to work. The fact that I’m here sticking labels on Holly Bourne novels is a fucking miracle. But there’s also a fucking dope photo of me that I made my mum take, though, so I’ll count the week as a success. As long as I look like I’m glamorous, nobody knows my life is held together with double-sided sticky tape, and in that moment I didn’t care, because I was showboating everything I wanted to be to people who didn’t appreciate me when they could have. Hot damn.

You should try it.

TO-DO:

  • Clean makeup brushes
  • Listen to an album that sounds good to somebody that wasn’t a teenager when I was
  • Apply for more jobs
  • Put one foot in front of the other

(In case you do want to listen to a band that was cool when I was 15 and never since, try this. They’re also on B&Q adverts. I’m not sorry.)