Michaelmas term #1 is over! I am reporting to you from the comfort of my home, in front of the same monitor which I conducted the research rabbit holes of the first COVID lockdown on. Home is a contentious concept. I currently view it as the place where I can be at peace with myself and enjoy my own company. Where I can read novels and poetry, write these blog posts, watch films that aren’t very palatable to most. It is where I can be my most genuine me. Concisely I conceive of home not as a place rather a state of mind.
Following my previous blog post life got very tumultuous. The waters surged, and the seas got choppy. Most of my issues this term weren’t really to do with work, for better or worse I guess we’ll see in next month’s mocks. Rather they seemed to center on my identity and social relationships. Living in college is great. It’s wonderful to have your friends at such short proximity where you can arrange impulsive late night tea evenings or lunch at the riverside ( of which there are many picturesque exhibits in Cambridge)- or as my last day availed a nighttime tour of Magdalene College! However it had the effect on me of becoming very- almost hyper- aware of how others perceived me. Generally, I am quite comfortable with myself. I’ve come to accept that I’m not a lot of people’s cup of tea, and at times I can come across as a little strange. This is me as a human being and I’m immensely grateful to those who accept me however I am.
Yet, illogically, my ‘abnormality’ in my ability to converse about ‘normal’ things and interact in a ‘normal’ manner really shone through. I try hard at most things because I have a genuine desire to improve- including in the social realm. However with that it felt like a downward spiral, people could tell I was trying; no matter how hard I attempted to make them feel comfortable they knew I was different. Some people see this in a positive light, others not so much. I’d been through this all before, flashback to secondary school, and back then I’d told myself its better to stay in your own lane comfortable in your own world. From week 5-7 it felt like I had been transported back in time to a weaker more insecure Aatqa. I think here it should be noted that COVID most definitely made its appearance in my experience- I was in self isolation for 2 weeks and the second lockdown lasted for half of the term which restricted what little freedom we had.
But towards the end of term, almost inline with the lifting of the second lockdown, something shifted the flow returned when previously it had come close to drying up. I could internalize what my friends and logic had been telling me, when previously there had been a mental barrier. I don’t know why it happened, perhaps the strange workings of time and place. My friend put it very nicely saying that ‘all the negative parts of term where blunted and only the positive stuck out’.
I’ve grown so much in such a short space of time. I’m willing to make mistakes and pick myself up again, and face the hard truth of reality without crippling from its pressure (yet). I asked my mum when I came back if she thought I had changed- she said I’d become more calm and collected. Human beings are funny creatures we all traverse the same path with minutely different permutations. Yet we all want to feel ‘special’- ‘beloved’ if Carver would allow:)
So many positive things happened during those 8 weeks. Driving back to London it seemed so surreal leaving the universe of the small town of Cambridge where I’d lived so much in such a short space of time, to return home. It was disorientating. Cambridge engulfs you whole. At first it was melancholically sad to leave the comfort of college but now I look forward to returning in Lent to an escape in my room waiting patiently for me overlooking the Sunken Garden. Right now home is what I need, to recentre and recalibrate in preparation for another intense term filled with 8 weeks of new social and academic experiences.
At the moment a quote by Elif Safack stands out for me:
I hunt everywhere for a life worth living and a knowledge worth knowing. Having roots nowhere I have everywhere to go40 Rules of Love