Well hello there strangers! It has been almost 2 years since we last spoke. Let me fill you in on where I’m at since my last few blog posts.
I have finished my undergraduate degree in Education, Psychology and Counselling with a 2:1 which I am partly majorly disappointed in (as a 2:1 is not the best I could have got, and if it is not the best IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH) but mostly ecstatic with, as (in no particular order):
- Whatever the grade, I have a degree – which after dropping out of 2 universities before starting at Sheffield Hallam is something I and my family never thought I’d achieve;
- The 2:1 has enabled me to receive an unconditional offer to study for a MA in Education, which I start this week;
- The logical part of my brain is aware that the grade I have received is actually the most insignificant part of finishing my degree, as I have loved the learning process and grown and developed as a person throughout studying in ways I could never have imagined, and;
- I know deep-down that I deserved that 2:1, which is a very respectable degree that I really am proud of. There are a million cogs in the learning wheel beyond your academic capabilities and I did my best with the hand I was dealt. Maybe my ‘best’ IS something that isn’t quite perfection. And maybe that’s ok.
As I mentioned, I enrol on to my Masters degree this week and I couldn’t be happier. People keep asking me what my plan is and to be honest, I still do not have one. No, I am not studying to be a teacher or for any other particular profession. I want to study a MA in Education because I adore learning and am intensely passionate about educational opportunity and social justice. If I could go on to do a PhD I probably would. I hope to study for as long as I possibly can and feel I will have to eventually be dragged out of university kicking and screaming at the age of 82.
I have been social media-free and vegan for over 2 years… and trust me – no one is more surprised at that than myself. Both are up there with the best decisions of my life and I can’t see myself ever again spending an evening scrolling aimlessly through Facebook while munching away on a big, greasy cheeseburger.
Do I miss social media? Not one bit. Once in a while I think about all the acquaintances and old friends that I have not been able to contact (or at least stay up-to-date with based on their online posts) and wonder how they are getting on. Are they happy in life? Are they doing what they said they wanted to do all those years ago? Do they ever think about me too? But that’s ok. My social circle has massively decreased in numbers but increased in quality. Those that really wanted to stay in contact with me have done so. My mental health and wellbeing has skyrocketed (which I do not put solely down to deleting social media, but I believe it has a big part to play). I don’t take 713 painful ‘selfies’ anymore before narrowing it down to one picture that I hate a little less than all the others and posting it online with a candid caption hoping for likes and comments and the subsequent pleasure that boosts my self-esteem for 0.1 seconds before it plummets back down lower than ever before. I haven’t wasted time worrying about how I come across to others, whether people like me, whether I am interesting or intelligent or funny enough compared to all these other individuals. I no longer suffer the stresses of playing the ‘game’ in the online ‘society’ that these sites have cleverly created to keep users active online.
Oh, it’s so-and-so’s birthday today. 46 people have posted on their Facebook wall so far. Should I post happy birthday? I haven’t spoken to them since school. But they DID say happy birthday on MY wall last time. So I suppose I have to post something, really, or how would it look? They would notice, wouldn’t they? So would everybody else. If I don’t post happy birthday on their wall they won’t post happy birthday on my wall next year. And then that is one less person posting happy birthday on my wall, and I have hardly any people posting happy birthday on my wall compared to so-and-so as it is. People will think I have no friends. We can’t have that. I’ll post happy birthday on so-and-so’s wall. It is the courteous thing to do, now that I have been notified of the date by Facebook. I can’t un-know this information and carry on life guilt-free with not posting happy birthday. Now…what exactly do I say in this post? Just a simple: ‘happy birthday so-and-so!’? No, that clearly isn’t enough effort. We used to sit together in the library for god’s sake. I need a few more hours to contemplate the best way to go about this.
Since no longer being able to blurt out my raw thoughts and feelings in a Facebook status and removing my social media ‘voice’, I have allowed myself time to think about what I want to say and how best to say it. Yes, some things ARE best left unsaid. Everything is so much more peaceful and simpler now that all I have to worry about it what is going on in the real world – meaningful things that actually, directly affect me. I can’t even fathom how I used to have the time to use social media and now spend my days having real conversations and doing productive things. Honestly, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders in more ways than those mentioned. I would encourage anyone who relates to my social media experience to try and give it a break, although I am aware most people are capable of using it in a positive and healthy way. Despite being genuinely happy with my life and who I am for the first time, I know I will always have those niggling feelings of not being good enough deep down inside because that’s what I was brought up to know. I have to be careful who and what I surround myself with – social media is unfortunately one of those things that triggers all that negativity for me.
Do I miss non-vegan food? Fuck yes, constantly. I am not disgusted by or outraged with the smell of meat cooking which I assumed would happen eventually. I crave dairy products almost every day. My decision to be vegan is a moral one (I think it is the ‘right’ thing to do ethically) and in a way it is still difficult to prioritise that over those unexplainable ‘wants’. However, veganism is simple in that it has now become part of my lifestyle and everyday routine. I know what I will and won’t eat and I know what I like and where to get it from. With the countless vegan options available nowadays I rarely feel like I am ‘missing out’ on anything and can stuff my face to my heart’s content as I always have done. And trust me, I do.
Sometimes I think about how easy it would be to just grab anything from a supermarket or shop and not have to consider the ingredients or processes involved – which is something I definitely used to take for granted. Being alert in this way to what goes on with my food, clothing, toiletries and so on has enabled me to develop a sort of ‘mindfulness’ across all aspects of my life. I exercise (somewhere between occasionally and as often as I can), I wake up early and spend time doing things I gain something positive from, I try to challenge or expand on my own views with books and YouTube videos and documentaries. I am often researching what I can do next to reduce my environmental footprint, help those in need or do whatever small thing I can for this earth that we are rapidly destroying. Because if you aren’t striving to be better or make things better, aren’t you simply using up resources and basically just… existing?
Anyway, this blog post has ended up a lot longer than intended. I had forgotten what it feels like to just sit in my pyjamas and spill my thoughts out onto a page (satisfying, rewarding, therapeutic). I do have some actual interesting blog ideas lined up but I thought it would be weird to just jump right in and post about something else when I have been M.I.A for the past 2 years. So yeah – this is me. Where are you guys at? Leave me a comment, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to catch up with you all despite my non-social-media-ness.
Until next time.