Lazy Summer Days

Back when I just started reading and was still living in Bangladesh, I would get so excited about whichever new book (usually a Goosebumps one) I bought from the ‘library.’ I would cosy up on the sofa or on our king sized bed and read all day long.

While buying books will always be something I love, I haven’t felt that joy and excitement I used to feel for quite some time now. Perhaps it’s because now it’s much easier for me to get my hands on books I want. Or maybe because I have more things to keep me busy with. We didn’t have internet connection till twenty eleven and my free time was (when simplified) divided between TV, computer and books.

Anywho, I got a few books after my exams in May and haven’t gotten around to finishing any of them. I am this close to finishing The Universe In Your Hand by Christophe Galfard and I actually like the book, so I am not even sure what’s holding me back. For the most part, I read it while travelling and refuse to pick it up now at home.

I was a quarter way through Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. As much as I enjoyed it, I had to pause it in June for some reasons and proceeded to reading a poem or two from The Essential Rumi. I haven’t read from it for a while now.

The Universe In Your Hand is a book about cosmology for regular folks interested in cosmology and the origin of our universe. I happen to be one of them. If I was ever any good at maths, I would probably be studying physics and specialising in astronomy. My sister thinks I am being ‘educational’ when I read these stuff but honestly, I just really enjoy learning about these things. To each our own.

I have also been listening to podcasts when I am out and about. (Piece of advice though, take off your headphones while attempting to cross the road. Learn from my mistakes!) Castbox app probably existed for a while now but I am obsessed with it. Instead of listening to music which makes me feel low, I just listen to interesting podcasts that almost make me forget that I am in the Underground. (Subway for Americans)

A notable few podcast ‘channels’ that I enjoy listening to are The Life Scientific, Writing Excuses, History Extra, TED talks, The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly, Social Triggers and Pod Save The World every now and again.

The Life Scientific is actually a BBC Radio 4 programme where Professor Jim Al-Khalili interviews leading scientists about their lives, struggles and achievements and as a scientist on the way, (hopefully!) I just find listening to these interviews very inspiring and interesting.

Writing Excuses is run by a few authors including Brandon Sanderson, and they interview other authors to discuss their writing techniques and advice. I really like listening to these discussions and I honestly believe aspiring writers can really benefit from it.

I can’t afford to go abroad for holiday at the moment, so I have been out and about around London a lot. Mostly with my sister though after getting annoyed (for no particular reason) and losing touch with the handful of people that I used to know. I know, I am a horrible person. But my sister’s cool company to be around. We have been eating out, shopping, popping into a few festivals and leaving like five minutes later and watching movies. By shopping, I mean necessary shopping. Mostly.

We watched Wonder Woman, Despicable me 3, Spiderman: Homecoming and Annabelle: Creation so far before she left for University. One of my friends from college and I are going to go watch It on Wednesday for which I am excited because we haven’t seen each other in a while and we both like horror movies.

For someone who is no longer a teen, I watch a hell lot of cartoons. I just cannot help it! I also binge on regular series but cartoons hold a special place in my heart. Ironically, I never liked anime enough to get into it. As you can tell by now, my life isn’t that interesting. God forbid, someone I know reads my blog!

I binged on Star vs The Forces of Evil, Loud House, Harvey Beaks, Milo Murphy’s Law, and Over The Garden Wall this summer. I am now watching Daria! A little late but my God that girl embodies my spirit!

As for the series, I finished watching Reign because my best friend also got into it. Really loved Suits along with Jane The Virgin and Riverdale. I was pleasantly surprised with Riverdale because I tried watching it before but didn’t like it back then.

I also opened a pinterest account and if anyone reading this actually enjoys the content I post, ya might want to check my account out. I found a few recipes that I might actually be able to make. My skin has broken out a lot thanks to my unhealthy eating habits at home but since my second year of University is about to begin in a few days, I hope to change that.

I have my priorities straight now and chances are I am going to remain busy with work, assignments, projects, etc. so I am actually looking forward to going back. I also feel like I have matured as a person and developed more confidence in myself now compared to a year before. Here’s hoping, this year I won’t be miserable!

You know what I deserve a medal for? Joining the gym and actually using it regularly. Seriously, I did.

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Lessons from first year of University

Before August 2016, I was supposed to take a gap year (a year out of education, usually after completing A levels and before starting university) which was more of a gamble that I lost. My poor grades meant I couldn’t apply for medicine and studying anything else wasn’t an option at that time.

In the UK, we apply to University through an online application process called UCAS which we send off near the beginning of A2 level or Year 13. Or so it was during my time, some things have changed since then. The deadline for medicine is in October while for everything else it’s around January/February. I can’t exactly remember. After that, it’s through ‘clearing.’ A process where you call up universities after receiving your grades and see if they will offer you a place on the subject of your choice (except medicine). But you do need to have a completed UCAS application to be eligible for a place through clearing.

I applied through clearing. Once I received my my grades and realised there’s no point in taking a gap year, I completed my application in two days and started making calls. Long story short: Lincoln was the best I could do.

I came to university without researching. I didn’t even attend the ‘open day’ held for students who were coming through clearing. That’s lesson number one: visiting university during open days. That way I would’ve been more prepared, mentally at least. It would’ve probably opened up a window for me to have met more people. Furthermore, had I known beforehand, I would’ve joined those freshers facebook groups where one can meet people from their course and accommodation. It’s just easier to settle in when there’s a visible ‘support group’ around.

During the first few weeks, I dreaded leaving my room. I have a terrible sense of direction and I had no idea what I was doing. My confidence levels after the results were incredibly low and I just felt afraid of everything. Which brings me to lesson number two: that feeling of dread will subside no matter how unbelievable that might seem at that moment. 

I wasn’t in the best state of mind and didn’t have the courage to join any societies. Most people have their thing: Disney, Harry Potter, Anime etc. I just didn’t know what my thing was…or is. Lesson number three: join societies even if the plan to stick to it isn’t long term. Because attending that first social/event by a society can introduce opportunities one never saw coming.

I don’t drink and refuse to sesh (another term for clubbing/partying/raving) but literally 99% of the people around me do, even if it’s to an extent. Sometimes, I do have thoughts like maybe it would’ve made my life easier if I related to the habits of the masses. It’s not a secret that I am insecure about my personality and being in a situation of immense peer pressure didn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, the pressure in university is different than to being in high school. Most of which stems from FOMO or the fear of missing out.

That being said, lesson number four: life is too short to compromise values and beliefs that essentially make up one’s identity. It’s hard but priorities are priorities. In the end, no one’s going to look back and think: well, at least I fit in or at least those people I knew for like three years thought I was ‘fun.’ I wanted to be more involved with ‘internal affairs’ without having to drink or sesh, so I got a job which puts me at the centre of student affairs.

Another interesting thing I observed was that it takes longer than one might expect to really get to know someone. Even if things seem stable, for better or worse, things change throughout and quickly near the end of the year.

Lesson number five: don’t give up so quickly, things change when one least expects it to. Take small steps to change a situation but if something doesn’t work out, it was never meant to in the first place.

Lesson number six: for the love of anything at all, learn how to cook. Plan weekly meals to make life easier. Because I don’t eat things with alcohol or ‘meat’, I can’t just grab any ready made meal from supermarkets. Even worse, I am awful at cooking. But with practise, I’ve gotten better. I make weekly meal plans now and pin easy recipes down to try out. Pinterest recipes are life savers!

Lesson number seven: living in a private space, e.g. a studio, doesn’t mean living in isolation. There’s a fair split between people who get along with their flatmates and people who don’t. Usually, in second year people get to decide who they want to live with and have a better experience.

When I had to decide in November where I wanted to live for this year, I had only one close-ish friend and we actually considered looking at a two bedroom flat. Long story short, we are actually very different people and us living together would’ve been a recipe for disaster. Some people just need more time to find the right friends than others, nothing wrong with that.

Lesson number eight: many things will NOT go the way one may want them to. Just have patience, things tend to work out in the end. I lacked vitality and any sense of joy for the first five to eight months but things did turn out okay in the end. I don’t want to continue being friends with some of the people I’ve met. And not for any spiteful reasons either. We make different friends at different stages as we proceed through life.

Lesson number nine: not comparing experiences with others. It’s honestly pointless. Not everyone will experience the same things the same way and that’s just life.

Lesson number ten: no matter what happens, things will get easier. Including things like cleaning, cooking, adjusting to a new style of education etcetera etcetera. Some people are so focused on the social aspect, they forget the main purpose of being at an university. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time, it’s so important to realise that education is the main focus and it costs a lot too.

Personally, I don’t think my experience is a particularly relatable one. But when I was going through it, if I had found something like this it would’ve helped me cope. Most people have a fantastic time and I am sure if any student is reading this, you will too.

A letter to myself

If you write this on a piece of paper, you will never get around to reading it again. You’re lazy like that. You were never any good at revising things. Maybe, that’s why you failed so much.

But you know, failure doesn’t have to be a permanent state and success doesn’t mean rich and famous in your book. You know that you have to go with the flow of life but never settle for anything less, as contradictory that may sound. To give it your hundred and ten percent and if it still doesn’t work out, let it be.

You have a bizarre sort of obsessive nature unlike that of inventors and them lot. Periods of dormancy and demotivation followed by euphoric visions of achievement. Sometimes, you don’t even know what that achievement you are working towards even is. But you feel so motivated and being productive the whole day feels so good that you forget. You forget that this feeling will not last long. Those periods of productive outbursts are shorter and fewer than those of demotivation and burn outs.

Back in the days, you were so clearly delusional. Even today, looking back you can’t believe that you actually fell for the lies (of unrealistic ambitions) that you told yourself. It’s difficult for you to have a clear image of what you are doing and why, when you are so into it. That it being your obsessive nature surfacing, telling you to push yourself not just to your limits but beyond which you will break.

You forget. Not everyone has the same skills or the same dreams. The breaking point differs between people. You think, if others are able to do it then why do I find it so difficult. One good thing about yourself, however, is that you stick to somethings. Not all things, sometimes you run away. But, while the things you stuck to were never a success, it made you more skilled in those areas. So, when you start something else, you have an idea of what to expect and rough skills too. Thank you for that. For not completely backing away and going above and beyond your comfort to make things easier in the present and the future.

You want to do something great. That’s what once motivated you to study medicine and do humanitarian work around the world because you don’t believe you have other useful skills. Not to be known, neither to make money. Perhaps, it’d make you feel worthy in your own eyes. Or maybe, you inherited a somewhat altruistic nature. You are rather selfish, can’t deny that.

Before your obsession to do everything takes over, remember this: at this stage of your life, your education is more important than the things you are doing besides it. You worry a lot about financial matters. Not out of greed, sometimes out of a desire to help and sometimes out of superficial reasons. Whatever you may feel, you know, money won’t buy you the redemption that you seek.

You want to be helpful in your community but you were never that great with autonomy. At the same time, you are taking steps on changing that. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Why are you always so hard on yourself? So many days, feeling down about the silliest of things.

You really dislike reflecting on your AS level year. Because after that, you realised you had some degrees of the inferiority complex. Always so insecure about your personality, forgetting how fundamentally it makes you, you. Some days, no one can stop you from feeling so very alien. You know, you’re as mediocre as they come but you feel as though no one will ever understand your life experience, your taste, your interests, the way your mind works. You never cease to feel guilty about it though. How self-centered it is wanting to be understood.

All of that aside, you must remember not to take on too much. To stop yourself, take a step back and re-evaluate what you are doing and why. You have to stop this desire to compensate for the lack of common experience you have. Not going on holidays every single summer, not being able to swim or bike, not feeling like you are a fun enough person, not doing useful work and so on. So bloody first world problems. But you feel so guilty about these feelings, maybe that’s why you want to do something for the people who aren’t lucky enough to be plagued by first world problems; A redemption for all that petty bitterness you never wanted and are never rid of.

Before you go, here’s the few things you need to remember from your past mistakes:

  • Don’t get fixated on the future and focus on the present. It’s okay to not know what you want or where you want to be. If life seems uneventful, have some faith in it and go with flow. Because either ways, you always ended up going with the flow.
  • Notice when you feel overwhelmed but never let fear hold you back. If something isn’t working out, it was never meant to be. Just leave it be and move forward.
  • Don’t let somethings you see and hear make you bitter. Focus on the things you have rather than the things you don’t have. Improve your eating habits and lifestyle for vitality.
  • Never forget how much you enjoy learning for the sake of it.

 


Featured image collected from musings of a poetic soul via facebook.