Reconsider yourself/Forget what you know/Leave the past in the past/Let it rest, let it slide, let it go.
These lyrics come from a song I spent some of my darkest days listening to, back when I was living in a room no more than 15 metres squared, with a window that never closed, damp that crawled up the walls, and a housemate who can be best described as a bipolar dictator. I’m happy to say that those days are far behind me, the keys to the house long handed in, contact with that housemate long gone, but the music still stays on my iPod. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, it certainly won’t change the world, but it’s early-to-mid 00’s alternative rock at its absolute best, and I’m not ashamed to say I love it.
I’ve been doing a lot of reconsidering my options lately. I was, until recently, going to move to Germany to take up an internship, but I fell at the last hurdle, meaning that my options are all under consideration right now. The issue is that I have to decide between what seems like a step forwards, but maybe potentially fuelled by nostalgia, or what seems like a step backwards, but maybe better for the career in the long run.
I’m holding an offer to go back to my home university, to study something that I’d love to do. I’m more than capable and ready to do it. All my friends will be back in that city. I know the department really well, and the convenor’s one of the best lecturers you’ll ever meet. It’ll open up doors to get me going down the path I think I’d like to go down.
Tonight, I’m going to have to turn around and defer for a year.
It’s not because I don’t want to do an MA, like some of my friends. It’s not like some of my other friends, who’ve applied, confirmed their place, burned out, and then asked to defer. I’d love to go back. I’m desperate to get out of this awful suburb of a West Midlands market town, where whenever I tell an acquaintance I’m going back to continue my studies, I get a grunt, followed by ‘woss want study languages fer, duck?’*, or some comment about betraying my working-class roots. I’m not quite sure what being descended from farmers and miners has to do with any of this, but that goes to show what living in my town is like. You have your place in society, and you’d better know that place and stick to it.
The reason I’m deferring is because I simply can’t afford it. I’ve known this all along, and I’ve putting the deferral off all along, too, because I can’t bear to close the door on something that I really want to do.
I’m one of those that those who argue for fees complain about. Growing up in a small town, there were never many part-time jobs around, and so any money I was ever given was frittered away on simple things like bus fares and fast food. When I went to university, and got that first loan payment, I frittered it away on things like clothes and books and a TV license. I’d never had that kind of money before, and nobody had ever taught me how to properly budget. I just got the money, and mindlessly spent it, thinking that if I weren’t going out clubbing, I wouldn’t be wasting the same amount of money that my friends were on club entry and booze.
I spent my money on things I never needed, just to try to comfort myself about the fact that I was feeling like shit. What I didn’t realise was that possessions don’t mean anything. As my mother said to me, as we were cleaning out my grandmother’s house, you can’t take things with you when you go. (How I wish it were possible – it would have made that job a whole lot easier.) That shirt that you think you quite like isn’t going to stop you from feeling like your world’s falling in. You’ll inevitably stick it in with your sheets on a boil wash, and ruin it. Sometimes, although you might be miserable for a short time because you can’t afford something, you’ll be better off in the long run.
And that’s what I’m telling myself. It’s time to be a responsible adult – to accept that I’ve not been careful with my money, and now I’ll have to stay home for twelve months to get the money together, as penance for my sins (a thing my grandmother would have said).
It’s still a wrench. I’m stepping backwards in that I have to tell my mum where I’m going, who with, and when I’ll be back, all the time. I can’t roll in at half-four in the morning any more. I can’t spend the day lying in bed, doing nothing, simply because it’s Saturday. I have to accept a fact that there’s no longer a lock on my door, and the phrase please knock and wait means nothing in this house.
And maybe it’s time to take stock. To reconsider, to forget my old experiences, and to let it go. It’s time to rethink things, and to remember where I came from, and what got me here. Sometimes you have to go through things you don’t necessarily want to do, and to give up something you love, just to be able to get where you want to be.
And slowly but surely, I think I’m coming to terms with that.
*No prizes for guessing which part of the West Midlands I’m from.