Ah, I’ve been very quiet here recently, sorry! Trying times at this end, which doesn’t make for great blogging!
Yesterday was my final class at Birkbeck.
Birkbeck is also clearly the best part of University of London. It has an owl in its crest.
Anything with an owl is best.
I have two essays to hand in and got a little extra time. Should I do well in those, my marks overall will be in the 70s-80s%. Hooray!
I surprised myself by getting the highest marks in my biology and physiology module. I expected to be bored and struggle with it, but I found it fascinating and easy. I love my textbook. I had forgotten how much I loved sciences. I’d forgotten that I used to be a bit spoddy and that as a child- aside from my papers and pens- my most beloved possessions were the telescope and array of extremely dangerous chemicals my dad stole from his work in a physics lab. I had forgotten, and it has been wonderful to remember again.
I’m going to miss the hell out of the place. I’ll miss its crap lifts, miss the musical Christians outside SOAS who try to entice you with free tea, the smell of weed in the air, people reading on the sparse grass, my lovely classmates and my wonderful tutors. I also can’t thank my last social worker enough. She fought for me to get the budget to study. She applied for it, it was accepted, then it was wrested away from me. I was told I would have to fund it myself, and I couldn’t. I faced being kicked out and she furiously caused a fuss so my funding was returned to me. So hooray for her, too.
It has changed my life. I now have the qualifications to study a degree which will give me a career. Before that, all I had was benefits and a destroyed CV. As much as I love to write, will always write, and will always be a writer, I never expected to be able to make a career out of it. (I do get odds and sods). This is a pretty awesome plan B.
Studying has made me feel human again. It got me into the world. As disorganised and rubbish as I am, I loved sitting with my laptop reading journal articles, I took pleasure in moaning about deadlines and essays. They are human and ordinary things when I had spent four years in the wilderness, with nothing to talk about other than what was in my own head. My own life. And now there are ideas, too. Days, things I did.
I had, until recently, scorned the idea of a university education making a person more intelligent. It used to irritate me when people crowed about their superiority to the non-educated plebs. The value of being back in education isn’t just what I learned, but how I learned it. It has taught me new ways of thinking. To be more enquiring, more open minded. When I first started writing the Secret Life, I was twenty one and I had an incredibly dogmatic view of mental illness. In my own case I steadfastly resisted any idea that I had control over it. I viewed it as a biological process and nothing more.
Learning to think more critically has helped me recover from being unwell. I realised I had a lot more control over it than I thought. That I didn’t have to be defined by it, as I had let myself be. And I was partly defined by it because it was all I had. I was a person with mental health problems who wrote about them and who campaigned about them- that’s all I was, and all I did. I have other stuff now that I think about, read about, care about, other things I do. It is very freeing. And it is right- I could not have gone into the profession thinking like that. It would have damaged my patients. It will make me a better nurse.
It’s also made me wiser to my blind spots. I need to listen more- I’d get quiteoverexcited in class! I’m good at academia and I’m friendly, but I need to work on my awkward social skills. I need to be better with timekeeping (and working full time has helped that- I’ve been surprisingly good), I need to become more organised. But I did better with it all than I thought I would. In that I got through it at all!
Next up- university, possibly. There’s a chance I won’t be able to go this year for financial reasons, but we shall see!
Yay, though! I love yer, Birkbeck. Goodbye!