On Loneliness…

One of the most private things I’m willing to admit is how much my personality leans to the lonely side.  Travel has done much to both exacerbate and relieve this.

With only yourself for company, in the right light it seems easy to entertain, to comfort and to enjoy yourself, and solo travel is just perfect for that. You can see the exhibitions you want, go to the shows you know you’d enjoy, look at the architecture you love, all without having to consult another person. Self-contained entertainment. Responsible for only yourself.

And yet…

Life is better when it’s shared. Laughter shared is laughter squared (I just made that up, but I think it’ll catch on – bear with me). My best memories are the ones I can share with the people who were in them, and we can reminisce, shaking our heads at our brilliance, or often our folly.

I’ve made a conscious decision (in part as a result of moving to the other side of the world and the reality of “starting over”) to live as much as I can, to enjoy life as much as I can, and to surround myself with people who make me feel joyous. My decision to leave Australia has meant that I forfeited a tribe. Not the only tribe I will ever have, but the tribe I joined by osmosis. I didn’t have to try so hard to make friends when I was at home. I went to university, I was thrust into friend-generating situations without much effort on my side of things, and there they suddenly were: people with whom I had a shared history, shared memories, and a shared future.

In England I’ve had to cultivate that. It’s taken three years of a concerted effort to reach. To reach for others and say “Here I am, come get to know me. Let’s have some fun”. Which I can honestly say is really bloody hard. It does get easier, and it does make you more resilient. But the loneliness is there, in the spaces between. Not always, admittedly, and to be perfectly honest I have engineered a life where the spaces are few and far between. I keep myself busy.

But in the spaces between, like this bank holiday Monday, where I’ve got odd jobs to do, but no one really to do it with, my friends and lovely partner living their own lives, I really feel that creeping loneliness. If I ignore it, it just makes it bigger and stronger. That’s a lesson to learn. Today I’m feeling lonely, but I’m going to accept the hell out of it. That’s how I conquer, by knowing it’s a part of me, but it passes.

 

Has My Traditional Education Done Me a Disservice?

“I love learning”

That’s something I can say with ease, although the last 12 months (changing into a trickier role at work) have shown me that I prefer learning when I’m able to really grasp the point quickly. I’ve found to my dismay that my enthusiasm for endlessly pursuing difficult theories is very limited. I don’t think I’m totally alone there.
Back in Australia, the high school leaving exams used to be called the Tertiary Entrance Exams (TEE), and you had to study TEE subjects to sit the exams (no surprises there). I remember hearing that the Dux of my primary school hadn’t taken TEE subjects and seeing my headmaster be visibly silent with disappointment. When I asked my mother if I had to take them, she was shocked and replied something along the lines of “abso-bloody-lutely”.  Five years later the same headmaster, now retired, sent me a card six months before my exams telling me that success was founded on proper preparation. I’ve kept that card, although I heed its advice far too infrequently.
“I’ve had a great education”
That’s also something I’ve said easily. If you asked me the days when my education was best, I could say categorically it was in year 7, at the ripe old age of 12. My teacher (the headmaster) was old school, and we’re talking seriously old school. I remember vividly how all our tests were handwritten in the most perfect cursive. We learnt well. We knew our stuff, that’s for sure, but we learnt by rote – memorising a rule, just because it was the rule. That was of learning has stayed with me to this very day, and I’m beginning to wonder if, instead of giving me a solid basis to work on, it has actually held me back.
Whilst writing has become a great joy of mine, initially I had terrible trouble learning to write essays. The topic of “personal voice” totally stumped me – how exactly were you supposed to give an essay personality if you weren’t allowed to use “I”? My contemporaries from other schools seemed to understand better, or at the very least be more comfortable with not understanding. I feel so frustrated when, after an afternoon attempting to learn, I’m still no more competent than I was before. My analytical skills are underdeveloped, which still makes my life difficult on a day to day basis – it’s totally absurd!
It hit home especially hard after watching this TED Talk by Eddie Obeng.
The world where I learnt how to learn, is over. It’s gone. I better get me some new skills, and get them stat. Things are moving fast, and the adaptable, the inquisitive, the analytical and the dedicated are going to reap the benefits. My early education was structured for the old world, and for that world it was a fantastic beginning. A solid foundation.
Having said all this, I can’t deny that there have been some benefits – a freakish ability to memorise lines from a film, phone numbers (sadly not birthdays), lyrics. You name it, I can memorise it. I’d also venture to say pretty accurate spelling 88.3% of the time, which is a boon. It’s not all bad.

Missing You

Every single day at the moment I think about writing. So much is going on right now, a lot of it incredibly interesting, and I’m yearning for the opportunity to process it all by writing it down.

I have four draft posts ready to go, none of which I have been able to finish because of lack of time. In my other life as a bunting enthusiast we have had a massive order for a well known British retailer, and every spare moment I have (apart from this sneaked one!) is taken up sewing. It’s lots of fun, but I miss writing!!