It was a last minute decision, as always. End of September and I was catching up with my tutors to decide on a dissertation topic for English Language. I didn’t hand in a dissertation proposal before the summer, because decisions and I -well- our relationship is more than complicated.
Once I sat down to think, I came up with a lot of ideas: I love poetry, so why not look at translation and meaning? Then I thought about the blogosphere and twitter: maybe I could write about how we make our own sweet slang in internet spaces? I was pumped to go the library and find some books on translation and language and group identity, you know when you get like a caffeine rush without the coffee? Is it just me? Yeah…I’m too academic.
Anyway, I get myself to the library, pick out a good 5 books on each topic, try and make notes, pick out further reading and realise that – this shit’s really boring. It’s not what I want to do.
I do a joint honours- that means my uni work and grades are split 50:50 between English Language and Creative Writing. At the end of second year I got the option of doing a either a portfolio or a dissertation. The dissertation was my obvious choice. I’ve always been academic and I love spending some time alone in the library with a latte, snacks and books. It’s like a puzzle for me, to try and find the right quotes for an essay. As soon as I had the opportunity, I chose the dissertation as a module.
What I realise now is that I wasn’t picking it because I’m good at the academic stuff, but because I was trying to prove myself. You probably understand what I mean, if you’ve had parents or grandparents, or even close friends who put pressure on you to “be your best.” If you’re like me, you might have been too busy trying to do that. Trying to make someone else happy.
Throughout life, I’ve always asked for advice in decision making. Like I mentioned at the start, I’m not very good at making them. It’s because I, like so many of us, am afraid of the consequences. My university constantly bombards me with “making the right choices” and all forms of social media are screaming out for me to “have a plan” and “go out and achieve your goals.” The news reminds me of how difficult it is to get job, let alone buy a house. I get lost in all that. When I try and follow it, I’m not me. Do you feel the same sometimes?
I do and it’s the root of a lot of stress. Having to make the right choice, constantly having to race for the best life possible and fit into the ideas others have about you. You start thinking that your friends like you because of your achievements and the idea of who you are. Not who you actually are.
So, I ask for advice, and as with everything, everyone has their own idea of what’s best for me. I realised this when I was at the library, researching my dissertation. What was I doing? Everyone was trying to tell me their idealised version of myself. All their advice was useless, because they weren’t me. I had to “toughen up” and make decisions for myself. I have before, but this time it was life changing and I needed to do it for myself.
I knew I did the right thing the moment I turned up into my portfolio meeting. A weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was doing what I wanted to do what I loved. I was around people with similar goals. If you’re into anything creative, you know the feeling of relief when you don’t find one, but many people, who see the world your way and want to live creating, contemplating and appreciating.
This academic year is gong to be filled with writing poetry. Something I love to do, and something that I might never get to do to this extent again. What’s better, I’m not loosing out on employment opportunities. I still have an academic essay to write along side it. The portfolio is still a long term project, with it’s own time management, note taking and research that also has a creative angle.
It took me a long time, but I can finally say I’m making my own decisions in life and I’m not afraid to take risks. As cliche and over used as that sentence sounds. I wish you find the power within yourself to do the same. If we have this on life, it’s worth trying to achieve our goals in no other way than by being yourself. How do you find and become yourself? Part of it is making your own decision, but the rest is an idea for another post.
Here’s what to think about when making decision:
All of my thoughts summed up in a more palletable way:
- Never stop yourself because you’re afraid of failure
- Failure in your eyes might be success in another’s
- Live your life for yourself and nobody else
- Don’t give into the scare tactics of the people and media around you
- Don’t do anything just to impress
- Don’t follow something you don’t enjoy.