Reflections

Hello. It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here and quite frankly a while since I’ve checked in with myself. I thought I’d take the time on this sunny afternoon to sit down and give myself space to write, let the words flow out of my head and onto the digital page. I think it’s very easy to forget to take time out to just sit and think when life becomes fast-paced and I’ve definitely fallen into the cycle of suppressing thoughts and feelings and saying I’ll ‘deal with them later’. Well, I guess now it’s time to start dealing with it.

Generally, the past few months have been great. I was determined to enjoy my second term at uni a lot more than the first and I definitely have. I’ve got used to living independently now and am (mostly) managing my workload. I’ve also done a lot of things outside of my comfort zone like applying to become a peer mentor next year, starting volunteering and applying for jobs/summer placements (I somehow managed to get called to interview in a few weeks ahhh). However, all this has come at the price of me feeling really disconnected from myself and the present.

Whilst I’m happy with how this past term has gone, it feels like my life is very quickly moving in a direction that I’m not sure I want it to go. I thought going to uni would open more doors for me, but it feels like I am constantly having to make decisions which are leading me down an ever-narrowing path. It’s probably irrational, but the more I specialise in my degree – by picking my second year modules for example, which resulted in me switching degree again from Politics and International Relations to just International Relations – the more I lose touch with myself. Part of me still feels like I’m not doing what’s ‘right’ for me, despite having changed degree twice. I think part of the problem is I don’t know what is the right pathway for me yet I’m making decisions which will impact my future career prospects.

I know, realistically, I don’t have to go into a career that directly relates to my career, but I think being surrounded by other politics/IR students all the time who do want to go into careers in governments, NGOs, policy making etc. is making me feel like I should do the same. I’ve also realised that I’m not an overly political person. I don’t have really strong views about things and politics isn’t my passion, I just enjoy studying how the world works and politics/IR is one lens through which I can understand the world. I do love my degree, but it doesn’t define me as a person and I have many other interests alongside which I’m worried are going to get pushed to the side as I get further through my degree.

Also one thing that’s always in the back of my mind is my love of languages and how studying and speaking French made me feel. I wouldn’t say I regret dropping French at uni as I know the course wasn’t right for me and that I’d like my journey with French to continue by moving to France using the language in a practical way. However I do really miss it. It’s a bit strange but since I’ve come home for Easter, I keep finding myself spontaneously thinking and speaking in French – much to the annoyance of my family who don’t understand half of what I’m saying when I respond, almost automatically, to their questions in French. I think it’s because being back home reminds me of studying French and that part of my life where languages were very important to me.

That leads me onto another thing I wanted to talk about. Coming home from uni is very strange and hard to adjust to. I mean, it’s probably my fault as I had been away from home for around two months before I came back for Easter. It feels like my life has stopped and I’m stuck in this weird sort of limbo where time is passing really slowly. I feel like my life at uni is very fast paced and because I’m settled in there now, my life back home feels like it’s stopped. I’m not sure if this is making sense, but it’s really hard coming home and trying to work out how I fit back into my old, given how much I’ve grown since moving out.

I really wish life wasn’t flying past so quickly. I always seem to be planning something or waiting for something to happen in the future, never being able to fully enjoy the present. My mind is always thinking about the next thing. I think this is partially due to the fact that every week at uni is very different and friendships in particular are constantly changing. It’s really hard to hold on to a single moment before it slips away.

I’m not sure why but I feel very uncertain about the future at the moment. And I don’t just mean the distant future but even about what will happen in the next month or so after exams are finished and I’m allowed to go home for summer break. I know I’ll be coming back to university in September, I’m just not sure what will happen in between. I’m not ready for the long summer break and feeling like time has stopped again, as I do now, but I don’t want to spend the whole summer waiting for September and missing out on the present. I think I’ll need those few months though to properly slow down and catch up with myself before I become too lost.

I don’t think writing this has made me feel any less like I’m living in a whirlwind, but I guess it’s a start to slowing down a bit and trying to experience the present without worrying about the future. I think I just need to have a little faith that hings will work out in the end and I don’t need to be so worried about what the future holds. I really hope you’re having a lovely bank holiday weekend if you’re in the UK and hopefully I’ll be writing more frequently soon. 🙂

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//Heart & Mind; anchor and sail//

Yesterday I visited my nan and something she said sparked off a whole chain of thoughts in my mind about emotions and interactions between our minds and our hearts and just about life in general (nan-spiration at it’s finest 👌). We were discussing ageing – or rather the feeling of ageing – when my nan mentioned that although her body feels old, her brain still feels active and young and just…not aged. Being a young person myself, it’s never something I really considered myself, the brain not ‘ageing’. Obviously, as the brain is part of our body it does age, but the mind itself ages differently. 

Whilst our bodies age in years, and as time goes on, we can notice physical changes to our bodies capabilities, our brains age in intangible units: memories, knowledge, attitudes, opinions etc. Our minds are maps of our pasts, guides to our presents and stepping stones to our futures. What lies within cannot be determined by a numerical value of days, months or years, cannot be given an ‘age’. 

This got me thinking about the relationship between the heart and the brain, not in a scientifically way as such, because my brain isn’t scientifically inclined, but more in a sort of philosophical way. About how the mind and the heart act equally and simultaneously as anchors to our roots and values and as sails, leading us off in different directions, wherever the heart, or mind, chooses.

Sometimes, when our hearts are full of emotion, of love and happiness, we become lighter than air, propelled along by this force like a sail billowing in the wind. Suddenly the horizon is in plain view; we know how to get where we want to be and have optimism for what lies ahead.

Other times, our feelings may be clouded with sadness and sorrow, knocking the wind out of us as it were and we become disorientated. When the wind drops, there is nothing to propel the boat along. We can’t see the way forward because the ‘now’ is obscuring our view. But, just as quickly as the wind drops, it can pick up again and we can get back on track with our lives. Emotions are very fluctuating, especially as a teen, and although this may seem a nuisance, it’s just part of life and it’s important to remember that just like the boat out at sea, our feelings are not trapped in one state and will change, just as the tides do.

Just as the heart can be described as the sail of our lives, leading us off down the various routes of life and carry us over calm and stormy seas, the mind can be seen as the anchor, tethering us to our core beliefs and values yet allowing us to venture safely into the realms of our hopes and dreams. Our minds hold all of our memories after all, everything we’ve ever done, thought and been. Like the archives of our lives, something we know, something true and something we can hold onto. Sometimes, our minds can not allow us to drift as much as we want to and restrict the power of our hearts too much, but that’s only because they remember the outcomes of all our actions and want to protect our hearts and emotions from suffering. But also, our minds can be the driving force behind our hearts. All our hopes and dreams, all the knowledge we learn everyday,can inspire us and propel us on through life.

So it can be said, that the heart and the mind work in conjunction with each other, like the anchor and the sail of a boat. They both contrast and compliment each other to guide us through our lives. Without each other, they would be left to flounder in the open sea and although they may sometimes disagree with each other, we’d really be lost without them.

Artwork inspired by Bastille’s song ‘Laura Palmer’ and ‘The Anchor’ and also by the conversation my nan. The paper planes flying between the brain and the heart are meant to signify communication between the emotional and logical parts of our brains, the heart symbolises our emotions and feelings, metaphorically speaking, as obviously our emotions are part of our brains. I decided to make this artwork symbolic rather than scientifically accurate!

(Disclaimer: I don’t really know anything about boats or sailing so might not be qualified to make a boat analogy but this is just for metaphorical purposes and the imaginative part of my brain was on a roll so I didn’t exactly want to stop it! Also I feel like my writing style has changed recently? Might be because I haven’t really written imaginatively in a while, but hopefully it’s interesting to read! I’m trying to get back into blogging again because I’ve really missed it and I don’t really have an explanation to why I’ve been writing so intermittently lately. Anyway thank you for reading ☺)