I’ve been struggling recently – feeling vulnerable. Getting better has been a long, and difficult, process and a few months back I felt ready to take on some new challenges, to make a change. But it isn’t easy. Starting a new course has reminded me of those early days of University, and I can’t help but look back on them and be surprised by how strong I was. I packed all my stuff up and moved more than a hundred miles from my family – where I knew no one – and I survived. Not only that, I enjoyed it. I don’t think I could do that now.
And then, I did it again, almost a decade ago – quit my job and decided to train to teach, moved all the way down to the south of London (albeit with beloved housemates in tow). How did I do it? Could it be that I was stronger then? And, if I was, what can I do with the pain of my breakdown? If I can’t say “I’m stronger now”, how can I explain it?
People have spoken to me a lot recently, about what strength there is in being able to speak openly about how you feel; what strength there is in being able to feel as quickly as I do. A lecturer on my course told me that the other students would learn a lot from me, by listening to how I feel. That wearing my heart on my sleeve was my blessing (though he didn’t use those words). It made me angry. I don’t want to be a case study – I don’t want people to learn from me at the expense of my sanity.
But maybe there is something strong in being so openly vulnerable. Maybe I can find a way to live with this emotional honesty (something I can’t seem to control anyway). And, perhaps, I was only stronger back then because I was pretending to be someone I’m not. Someone who cared less, and hid behind a made-up personality. Maybe being me (the real me) is something I should learn to embrace, even if it means being open to heartache.
It scares me sometimes that I am in my thirties and still only just learning how to be human, but maybe that’s the whole wonder of being human in the first place.