So I was out the back of my wordpress, clearing some things up, scheduling some things, and I found a post in my drafts. It was drafted March 2017: almost exactly a year ago. I would have trashed it, but I got reading, and, surprise surprise, a lot of the themes are very similar to what I wanted to cover today, which is interesting. Considering the year I’ve had, I’d go as far as counting it as a victory, honestly. So let’s talk. Let’s talk about how going forward may not be as scary as it seems.
I graduated from my MA in December. It was… an experience. Most definitely a rewarding one, but it was definitely difficult. The learning through the year was hard enough, but I loved it. Academics had always been something I’ve found a lot of enjoyment in; I like how it challenges you and how it makes you think about things in a way you haven’t necessarily done so before.
In March last year I was feeling pretty zen about things. A lot of this was because I was generally in a good place mentally. When I wrote the draft post back then, I just had my dissertation left to work on—I didn’t know how much of a strain that last leg of my MA would take on me, because it did hit me pretty hard. Aside from the academics, I had a lot of other stuff going on outside of university, so I ended up getting pretty sick again, which sucked. I probably could have taken it a little easier on myself, but hindsight’s a bitch. Still, after all the struggles, I’ve come to a place where I’m okay again. Nothing is forever.
So the educational chapter in my life is over for now. I wrote half a novel, something I’m now working on finishing up. I met great people and I followed my passions. I did my best. I learned so much. I grew as a person and as a writer. It took me a few months after leaving to kind of screw my head on straight again, but here I am. Coming to this point has made me a little nostalgic, I have to admit.
I’ve learned a hell of a lot the past four years. Thankfully I’ve grown as a writer and as a person. As a person, I can say that I’m better at doing things that are in my own interest. I am better at knowing my limits rather than pushing myself to the breaking point again time and again. I’ve become more proactive in my approach to things, I’ve found a way to channel my ambitions, and I’ve gained a confidence and a self-belief in my abilities. It’s nice to go out in the world and not feel completely out of my depth 100% of the time. Now it’s only like 80 to 95% of the time. But it’s getting better. It’s progress.
And as a writer, well. Let’s all take a moment to be thankful for the growth there.
Four years ago I submitted a creative piece somewhere that non-ironically used this line, OK. Brace yourself. BRACE. There was a point in my life where I believed wholeheartedly that this was good writing. The sentence: “You can feel it, the heavy fingers of light cooking your skin and briefly you wonder if this is what a cake feels like in the oven.”
Yup. It’s real, guys. I’ve been laughing so hard I’ve been wheezing for the past three hours. Incredible. I’m really glad I can laugh about this today, because damn was that awful. I keep cringing just thinking about it. WHAT WAS I THINKING???
Embarrassment aside, that excerpt basically summarises exactly what I’m rambling about in this post right here. Time passes, and you grow, and you change, and things happen, and nothing is forever. It’s all about perspective.
Things that seem like a massive deal at the time might not be as significant when you look back on them, or their significance might be marked in a way that you might only recognise in hindsight. Undergrad!Hadiyah thought comparing the sunlight on skin to cake in the oven was PEAK LITERARY™ prose, but looking back on it, present!me wants to die. I still had to write that sentence on the road to my MA though. Without it, and others like it, I wouldn’t have paved the road to what it slowly becoming my first novel. Cool, right?
So I’m trying to look at things like that now. I’m not going to lie—depression kind of makes it hard to be positive. There are days, sometimes weeks, when it feels damn near impossible. But I’m putting my therapy and everything to use, and I feel like I’m at a place right now where I can look at things in this way.
See, I came to a realisation. What’s this epiphany, you ask? To put it simply… I feel like I’ve got this. ‘This’ meaning ‘life’. I think I understand it a little better now. It doesn’t scare me like it used to, because I know that I know what I’m talking about. Every day that passes I feel like less of an impostor who managed to get to my position by chance, and more like the person I’ve worked hard to become.
I know what I want for my future. I’m taking the steps to make it happen. I’m focusing more on the journey than on a fear of failure. I never would have thought that I could get there even a year ago, but now I’m just plain excited. I cannot wait to make a positive contribution to the world. You wouldn’t guess the number of internships and jobs I’ve applied to over the course of the last few months, but I promise you, it’s a lot.
Not all of those applications went well. The Harper Collins Video Interview Grad Scheme was probably the worst interview I’ve had in my life. If you’re wondering, it basically comprised of me being on film and blanking out so completely that I just stared unblinkingly right into the camera for 2 minutes. That application was SO BAD I’d expect Harper Collins to use it as a “what not to do” warning for next time’s applicants because damn. It really was that bad.
But even though that interview went awfully, I took what I learned and moved on. Mistakes can be useful sometimes. I honestly believe that the cringe-worthy experience taught me something that I can use to my advantage if I’m ever in situation that’s similar to that one.
Not bad, right?
For now I’ve got a part-time job as a librarian! It’s actually perfect, and I love it. It’s a fantastic way for me to get used to working again after my struggles with my mental health, and I’m planning to stay there for a nice long while to build up my *strength* or whatever you want to call it. My battle with mental health is still a prevalent issue, but I’m learning to manage it, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to work full time in a career job somewhere in the arts one day.
I’m continuing my work with YA Shot, of course, and we’re preparing for the festival in April.
I’m still working on my first novel.
I’m joined a small D&D group, and we’ll be having our first session soon.
I’m also in a small book club with a few of my friends.
And that’s all for now!