Tag Archives: growth

#3 ~ Go For A Drive

I don’t drive. Rephrase, I can’t drive. I’m in my early 20s and I don’t even have a provisional. I’m that recalcitrant clubber who whips out their passport for ID – the same passport that does not fit in the clutch bag and therefore inhibits your once-in-a-blue-moon party hard nights because you know if you lose it, the levels of poverty you will sink to in order to replace it are just depressing.

I’ve been meaning to apply for a provisional for over a year now, it’s part of my ‘get your ‘ish together‘ To Do List, but in the meantime my legs and I have become best friends, and my feet are as trained as an SAS soldier hitting his PB for the fourth time in a row.

However, saying all that, today I got a lift from a friend after some dissertation fieldwork I was doing 2 hours out of town. I’d had to power-walk, bus and train it to my chosen destination, but on the way back the motorised cruise was a welcome break to my slightly blistered feet (because, note to self, it does NOT take 20minutes to walk from my house to the station).

I have found, that like most people after a certain age, in life, especially in a life where contact is easy, one has many, many acquaintances, and very few friends. Friendships take time, heck, even well meaning acquaintances take time and ‘intentionality’. You have to want to get to know somebody more than stalking their Facebook photos and briefly catching the side of their chin across a crowded room soaked with perspiration and alcohol fumes.

And time is something no-one wants to part with – because it’s precious. But it’s also necessary. It’s necessary in order to develop you into that person that survives and goes on surviving every test, every hurdle, every fork in the road that comes into view.

During my exam term last year, I sat with one of my best friends in our canteen for a revision break. Mourning the lack of food on our plates and the stinginess of the dinner ladies, our conversation undulated between dark humour to student wisdom. In and amongst this raucously sincere conversation my friend challenged me about friendships.

“You’re someone who does a lot of stuff. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would like to get to know you, but they probably think you don’t have time for them. So they never approach you and you never get to know them.”

[insert dramatic script writing, e.g.:] He looked at me from under his young eyebrows and said in a grave voice that belied his years

“You have one more year in this place [BEAT] make it count”.

I do do a lot of stuff. This year has barely begun and my diary has been highlighted in four different colours, whilst each designated day is covered with permanent black scrawl and lead pencil possibilities. No doubt it will look like a spiders web of ink by the end of next week and a fully illustrated manga volume by the end of the year.

Yet my heart twinges when I think there are people out there, people who might enrich my life, that I won’t meet because I appear too busy.

Sure i’m getting myself geared for battle, but every soldier gets a few days of R&R. So today, as I drove home during one of those rare moments when work, internet access and urgent phone calls were not even a possibility, I had a chance to chat, more or less uninhibited, about faith, and from faith to school work, to what a carburettor is, to how a car engine works. From compliments to aspirations to affirmation and then it lead to key chains and sprockets,guitar strings and microwave meals and jam sessions and – discourse.

I might not get such an opportunity again, but that drive, those few hours outside the bubble reminded me that there was something I was moving towards that was on the other side, and it was populated with, living, breathing, growing…people. And when you get a chance to talk to those people, you get a chance to grow.

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#1 ~ How To Pass Finals (and not Die in the Attempt)

This year was the first year I returned to University and it felt like home. More importantly I didn’t feel afraid. When I was a naive fresher the journey up the motorway oozed expectant possibilities, but by second year I had become jaded, by third year slightly cynical, yet this year, this fourth year I was pumped, because the end was in sight.

When I first started this blog almost 2 years ago and confronted the challenge to write something every day, I was candid, raw, experimental and most importantly, when living in a cyber era where privacy is a euphemism for extraneous publicity, I was anonymous. I was simply the Death of the Writer and I wrote for my own pleasure and in that time garnered some kind of an audience. My anonymity provided me with a cloak that allowed me to write about experiences, thoughts, ideas and issues without implicating anyone else, or myself. Yet this blog also opened up my own creativity. It became the scrap book of lyrics and poems that I would later perform, film and publicly own as mine. It became the platform for me to begin writing professionally as a freelance journalist, once more also publicly. It was used to raise awareness for my first ever theatrical production which we then performed off-broadway and which resulted in me getting twitter (??). And it now has a declaration under the banner image with my working name and a note not to steal my work. This is my blog, and I am its writer – and I also have one final year left of university to pass without dying.

A fan of hyperbole you say. Ironically not. Considering that during my exams last year I ended up passing out several times which disrupted my exam period and showed me my body was indeed frail, fragile and mortal, getting through this year, and more importantly coming out the other side if not whole, with as few dents in my body, and as few holes stealthily tacked up with plaster in my brain as possible, will be as much an achievement as achieving my long-awaited bachelors degree. So perhaps I won’t die in the attempt of surviving a BA, but let’s hope I don’t faint, fall ill or undergo any other kind of mishap.

This so far, is the longest introduction to a blog I have done, but bear with me, a lot has occurred since I removed my fingers from the keyboard of this so called scrap book.

Once more I throw down the gauntlet to academia and take up the challenge to write something, every day, from now until I leave these ivory towers, documenting my final year of University and all that it may entail.

But remember that note I left about anonymity. Well, perhaps this time round I won’t be able to be as candid. I’ll try and be honest, but sometimes obfuscating a situation or being dissembling can lead to more trouble – more than one person might think you’re writing about them!

So this will be an interesting attempt, because I will be documenting my year, whilst being consciously aware of documenting my year, whilst also trying not to care that people who know me away from the ether might be reading this – oh dear, the mind games have begun.

Well, here’s to scrap books and random thoughts and transformation and maturity, and expressions and fears and life. No doubt my thoughts and feelings will change as each day goes by and even after this blog has ended. I’m writing for myself and maybe for anyone out there who makes a connection, but this is a place of expression, of note taking, of learning.

And as I said all those years ago, maybe amongst the pile of shit you’ll find a spec of gold – welcome to this blog and to this new challenge to Pass Finals (and not die – or faint – in the attempt).

Walk with me this way —->

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#200 ~ One Hundred Words and a Photo: 11

Tethered. Vibrant. Her eyes locked on the shackled kite. The painted green tree spurting towards the edges of its fragile jail, hemmed in by the patchwork cloth of the border line. She turned back on herself, neck craned, eyes strained. A soft wind, luxurious in the spooling afternoon heat cupped its back, kneading out the knots, elongating the spine, stretching out the branches from below the patented sign of familial wealth. She tugged at the grip. The flag pulled against the rope. It could have been a kite flying high, but she was still trapped within her own questioning mind.

Copyright: Victoria O

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#192 ~ Dinner For Two

Italian. Sexy, but not greasy. Sophisticated… but not French. Solid, but not stodgy food. We’ll do Italian.

Tucked away in a small, wealthy English town, early evening trickling into the late night, the scent of a damp summer hanging like a sultry singer over the wire mesh of a micro-phone.

It’s that time.

Two glasses. Rose pinot grigio – light, yet fruity, fresh. Not overpowering, but seductively sophisticated.

Mature.

Spaghetti –  with calamari, mussels, herbs, could that have been an oyster? Who knows. Using the spoon- you know what to do Andre.

Not exactly candlelit, but it retained the same ambience, curling round the relaxed ebb and flow of familiar conversation.

Pepper met salt in the light streaks of rich hair. Tired eyes flickered to life behind frameless glasses. A soft smile, a furrowed brow – you know what to do Andre, this is the perfect dinner for two.

Just the two of us. Getting to know each other again. Except the roles are reversed:

This time Mum, I’m paying.

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#176 ~ Dayuuumm Guurrrl…

..you look hawt (insert numerous emphatic exclamation marks).

Every girl wants a comment like this. Deep, deep, deep down where it really really counts, even the guys want it too. It gets to another level of appreciation when someone has to physically say the words, to ensure one understands the amount of emphasis needed on the previously categorised expletive. It’s not a damn. Not even a daymn. But a Daaayyyyuuuuuuummmmm (hold the ‘M’ for as long as possible, but try not to make it sound sleazy.)

Except, the funny thing is, once you get a comment like that, it doesn’t make you feel ‘hawt.’ For a split second there’s a surprised, shocked, acceptance – someone thought that? About me?! A little glow begins to blossom in the place in your heart which deals with low self-esteem. And then you smack into a concrete wall, which, graffitied in bold spray paint, asks the rhetorical question: What the [insert unnecessary expletive that has slipped into modern communication like an eel (?)] do I normally look like??!!!

 Do I genuinely both dress and look, like an unwashed, homeless, street urchin whose suffered from the bubonic plague?

Whilst the above is a humorous, sketch, it made me really question my sense of perspective, especially my sense of self. Sure, one looks in the mirror every morning when their face is lopsided, at night when it needs to be detoxed, and occasionally before a night out when it “needs” to be painted, but generally, at least for me, I believe my features remain the same. Same nose, mouth, eyes, eyebrows (depending on them being plucked or not). The skin is pretty much the same colour, the facial likes and dislikes seem to have settled – so it’s surprising when other people are surprised at an image of you. On a superficially vain level, I was mildly concerned that, to elicit such surprise and shock from friends, I genuinely both dressed, and looked, like an unwashed, homeless, street urchin who suffered from the bubonic plague. Now, I know my style of dressing is [insert most elaborate euphemism: uncoordinated, unique, individual, poor…], and I’m not a slave to make-up, but I had assumed I was at least recognisable. That my potential shone through irrespective of whether my MaxFactor with reflective pearl droppings had lubricated it or not.

On the other hand it was a beautiful and surprising compliment, that reminded me of the potential I often forgot lay hidden. Whilst this may seem like an extremely facetious and self-centred musing on one’s external being, it does have a message that isn’t just skin deep (ah yes, extended metaphor, the degree is coming in handy).

Daaaaaayyyyyyuuuum  girl, you look like [ faeces].

I take this physical experience as an allegory for mental, emotional and spiritual situations. Having finished my first year of University, I can look back at myself and recognise my many failings, just as flicking through old Facebook photos really made me aware how much the above statement of flattery could have been inverted into a: Daaaaaayyyyyyuuuum (no long M, this is not a tasty appraisal) girl, you look like [ faeces].

Yet at the same time, I took a slow joy in realising aspects of myself that had really grown, and on occasion, flourished; the petals radiating the light and potential that had always been there, but which I only noticed in retrospect.

To have the strength to look at oneself critically but not in a judgemental or in self-deprecating manner is a true skill. To be open to allow other people to guide you into that perspective can be both a shocking experience, potentially eliciting a wave of doubt, but also a humorous way of beginning to recognise the image that is forming in your reflection.

Daaaaayyyyyuuuuuummmm guuurrrll, you’ll get there in the end.

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#170 ~ The Measuring Wall

Bohemian hipster parents always had that wall. It was a specific wall that rested adjacent to their bohemian kitchens where cakes and flapjacks were always in mid-bake, vegetables and home cooking melding together to create a gently domestic aroma. The wall was often stripped bare and painted white. You know the style, white walls and wooden furnishings with ethnic art hung elegantly, worn middle-eastern rugs covering well walked, uneven and permanently unpolished floorboards. That kind of decor.

This wall, stripped bare, was always tattooed with the graphite from a primary school students pencil-case. Dash marks were the introduction to a neatly scrawled name which was followed by a height. This formed a measurement chronology. One could chart their growth, literally from the floor upwards, as each year, each annual party, new measurements were placed on the height wall.

The desire to grow became a competition. You wanted to out-grow the tallest person on the chart, who inevitably happened to be a 6″7 giant who probably has painful joints for all their success in the height-winning competition.

The trick, however, to finding contentment in that chronological measurement test, was to, year on year, strive to beat your previous height. To ignore the scrawled names that decorated your honoured positions, and just strive to grow and get taller. Because the physical height was really an external expression of an internal, psycho-emotional growth.

When you reached a growth plato, that wasn’t a signal that you had stopped improving and had begun to regress. Really, it was a deeper sign – one that slyly hinted at you to recognise, the competition had ended. Hopefully, by that time, the desire to compare had been lost or at least transformed into the desire to just live your life, as you are, in peace, knowing intuitively, that you were growing, improving in yourself.

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#152 ~ Stepping into the Spool

I began University with an arrogance. The protagonist in my own self-inflicted tragedy, my A-level grades formed a part of the hubris that set me on a trajectory for rapid disappointment. The arrogance that breeds when one’s ego is gently and regularly massaged doesn’t help to prepare one to learn. It helps to prepare one to be audacious in thinking they are Stevie’s Misstra Know-it-All.

The ego grows a brittle shell-like skin, fragile at the gentle crack of a reproof, comment of improvement, or just down-right criticism. The yolk of self-confidence dribbles out, messy, unsightly, premature without form. If someone doesn’t care enough or isn’t fast enough to catch it, the melee of yellow and white fluids congeal and drizzle onto the kitchen floor, to be mashed, squished, and pressed into the faint cracks that line the grime covered tiles.

Yet, that calcified shell needs to be cracked in order for the nutrients, the potential for either life, or a well fried egg, to be born. The hubris that would led to one’s harmatia needs to be corroded away through the gruelling process of real teaching, in order to, one day, after many spillages, premature bursts and half-boiled constructions, be mixed with the milk of maturity, seasoned with the salt of humility and filled with the mushrooms, cheese, peppers and meats of critical potential, to produce a humble, delightful, inspirational student who wants to learn, and therefore, one day, will be able to teach.

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