Sorry for not posting in a while guys, it’s been one of those months where life has caught up with me and suddenly I have so much to do all at once. But I finally got around to writing for Myne Whitman’s Lost and Found Blogfest running from 25th-31st in celebration of her reaching 500 followers (wow and congrats!). The idea of the ‘fest is to tell about anything you’ve ever lost and found, whether it’s an object, a person an idea or anything else.
Well amongst my friends and family I am pretty notorious for losing things-important homework assingments, my purse, my phone, my head, etc, etc. But sadly a lot of them don’t turn up again. If only I could walk into a room and magically rediscover all the things I’d lost over the years (like the Halliwell sisters do in Charmed). I suppose I wouldn’t recognise half of the stuff there anyway, things which at the time I was so distraught about losing but which now mean nothing to me. They’re only things after all.
But once I lost something much more important to me: my confidence. It was about four years ago now, when I went away on my own to university. I had just started dating M and things were going really well, but I had to move a couple of hours away to Leeds University. Before I went I was really excited despite what I was leaving behind. I was looking forward to the lectures and tutorials, to making new friends with similar interests, to joining all the clubs on offer and living life to the full. I was looking forward to the independence of living away from home even though I was nervous about learning to look after myself. At first it was fine-the classes were great, the other students friendly enough. I didn’t really ‘click’ with anyone in my flat, but I supposed I would find someone eventually.
But as the weeks went on I began to feel isolated. It seemed to be like everyone else there was really outgoing and confident. They seemed to find it easy to talk and party with random strangers. They enjoyed clubbing and weren’t afraid to experiment with alcohol and drugs or to date lots of people at the same time. The girls all seemed to dress much older than me- wearing short skirts, tube tops and high heels to lectures. I began to feel like a child trying to mingle with a gang of ‘cool’ teenagers. I didn’t seem to find anyone like me. Sadly after a while I stopped trying. I felt like I didn’t belong there, so I started concentrating on my life back home. Instead of trying to mix with my peers at the weekend I would spend a fortune getting the train back home, and only leaving just in time to make my compulsary tutorials. At home I would spend time with M and my family, and I would almost feel like my old self again. But when it came time to board the train back to uni, I would usually break down crying because I was dreading going back to the loneliness. Much of it was self inflicted- I didn’t feel like a confident person so instead of making the effort to mingle I just kept myself to myself, even eating my meals in my room to avoid having to ‘pretend’ to fit in. It was a difficult time and my emotions were all over the place. M and my family were very supportive but it was a lot for them to handle and hard for them to understand exactly what I was so depressed about.
Eventually, after my wellbeing deteriorated I was persuaded to leave uni after completing my first year. I was proud of myself for getting that far. I returned home feeling relieved that I wouldn’t have to go away again and ashamed that I was such a failure for ‘giving up’. But I still wanted to get my degree, so I signed up for a course with the Open University, and was able to transfer the credits I earned in Leeds so I could start at level 2. I can’t stress enough how amazing the Open Uni has been. The support they gave me was fantastic, and after a lot of hard work I managed to graduate last December with First Class Honours, a grade I don’t think I could have achieved before. It made me believe it had all been worth it. It has taken a long time to build my confidence back up, but I am slowly getting there. I started a dance class three years ago and that has worked wonders and I’ve got used to performing on stage now. My relationship with M was tested by my negativity but we’ve come back stronger than ever and are building a new life together in our new house.
I’ve finally got my mojo back and I feel like me again : )
My message for others is that we all have points in our lives where our self-esteem is really low and it can be tough. But keep perservering and you will come out the other side. Just remember not to compare yourself to others and believe people who tell you how special you are. Life’s too short not to have confidence in yourself.