Monday, 30 January 2012

Hanging Up The Mask

I do not believe in mistakes. Nor do I believe in regrets.

I haven't exactly made it secret that I've been less than content with my degree. I have bitched and moaned about its lack of structure or evidence of any decent organisation from the staff and tutors alike. That said, I think I have to be truthful and own up that actually it's just wrong for me.

For many years I chased this big London College of Fashion dream because it apparently was a beautiful marriage between my twin loves of the written word and fashion. For years I'd decided this was what I was going to do and never really gave myself an opportunity to think there may have been another option. I had this pig headed belief that perusing this career line would make me happy. So determined was I that this was what I was going to do that I didn't actually stop to actually take stock of what my gut was telling me.

I am not cut out for the fashion industry. Yes, I still have a great passion for fashion as an art form, as human expression, as a reflection of politics, history and sociology, but I truly loathe what comes with it. I was somewhat aware, though partially living in selective ignorance, when I began the course but my trip to India really brought it home. I do not wish to dedicate my life to contributing to this sector.

Whilst I have made some great friends and met truly wonderful people through my short months on the degree, I could tell that I wasn't like most. Like them, I used to believe success and status was a measure of personal accomplishment, I used to believe that I had to prove something to my family, to myself, to the world. I used to believe that because I have an element of intelligence I HAD to pursue it through academic study and doing anything other than that was a waste of any gifts or talent that I may hold. Then I gave myself a bit of a mental slap for just parroting the beliefs of others - not what I truly felt.

So many people had well wishes before I left, little half (but not completely) jokes to remember them when I'm famous/successful/rich whilst some simply mentioned that they knew I'd "go far". What exactly does that mean? Surely being "successful" is accomplishing happiness?

It is difficult to break the spell after spending most of life being an overachiever; when your head and heart do exact opposite things, it stops being a gift and becomes a curse. I had (and to some extent still do have) a great fear that I will be judged and criticised for making this decision. I know there may be talk of how I have thrown away an opportunity, for people to raise eyebrows and tisk about this behind my back - but this is my choice.

"There's a narcissism to insecurity. When you realise that you're not the most important person in the world, being perfect doesn't matter - you're just one atom in the world." - Lauren Lavern.

Is there really anything wrong with just wanting to be the average Joe?

Should I complete my degree I can see myself several years down the line working constantly to keep on top form. Such is the industry that it is a relentless game of cat and mouse, you always have to be on the ball, always working, researching and fitting the part. I can't think of anything worse than my life being all about work, I do not want to take it home with my every night, lie in bed with it, eat, sleep, live, breathe my job. Some people are driven by their careers, they thrive on working - but I am just not one of those people. For me it is just one very small aspect of life. Nobody has ever been reported on their death bed to say, "I wish I'd spent more time at work". I've realised that same life is just too short to spend even a second doing something you do not want to do through choice, to spend even a second not doing all you can to be happy.

“Well what do you plan to do?”
“I plan to write”.
– Susanna Kaysen

This is not to say that I plan to completely reject any form of creative pursuit. My Mum highlighted to me that, for now, I've "had enough of an education both in and out of the classroom". I am a writer - not a journalist. What I wish to do cannot be taught inside of an academic institution. One can either write or they can't. At this stage, development can only be a personal process, one of experiencing and living whilst having an opportunity to constantly evolve ideas. Being in university is effectively destroying my education.

I know that to build my life as a “writer” would be a luxury, like any artist we are blessed to be able to work doing something we love and as result it doesn’t come without sacrifice. I know I could not afford to keep a home through writing alone yet (here’s to hoping one day…). Depending on what Josie (my fiancée) decides to do I think I intend to return to my hometown (for financial reasons) and work a simple 9 to 5 (or stay in London and do the same), something that keeps me fed and housed but leaves enough brain capacity to really begin work on all the bits of works that I have dotted all over my brain, notebooks and life.

As I referred to earlier, as a writer life is about experiencing and I like the challenge of throwing caution to the wind for a while. Run a risk and see what comes along, save some money and see some places, begin to build a home with my beloved fiancée and make for a happy world around me.
"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim" - Nora Ephron.

The past is memory and the future is fiction.
Guess who's holding the pen...