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Montag, 4. März 2013

Being Down

Everybody always stressed how hard the first few months are.
Barely anybody mentioned how incoercible [unbezwingbar] the middle stretch would be.
In all honesty?
Without the San Francisco Trip in April, I would fly home around Easter.

There are of course a couple of reasons for that, and now that I have at least managed to eliminate one of them, I feel better instantaneously.

One reason, for sure, is that right now everything has become normal.
Everyday activities that seemed so exciting and enticing at the beginning of the year are familiar, mundane by now.
That is not to say they are boring - because they aren't, seriously - but rather that they've lost their shiny sheen.

Add to that my annual winter depression, and you have a really bad mixture.
It's the same every winter, but even knowing that didn't make it easier.
I start feeling tired, almost burnt out. I get reclusive and stop caring about my grades so badly. At least on the surface, I believe that underneath it, the stress keeps building up.
Although not as badly, as I have heard from multiple sources that I have become way more relaxed.
I believe I have caught myself again out of that phase, but it is too soon to really draw a conclusion - I might be struck down by the smallest thing tomorrow.

And one of the things pulling me down that I could change, I changed:
I switched out of Spanish.
As much as I enjoyed the language, I didn't enjoy the lesson for a multitude of reasons.
There was the way the teacher treated the students differently.

She seemed abrasive and cold, terse towards me, but warm and joking towards another student.
You never realize how bad it feels to be left out of such joking - even though more than half of the class was left out - until you've been included in it.
I am used to being the "studious", "serious" one. Teachers don't joke with me.
Or at least, they don't usually.
Mr Derksen - well, he jokes with me. He teases me, just like his other students.
I am just another student in his class, not some role model or perfect student. Because I'm not. I'm no less perfect than any of you out there, just as you are no less perfect than me.
But since I like to learn new things and like to participate, teachers have either raised me onto a platform, or ignored me completely.
To me it felt like this Spanish teacher did the latter.

Then there is the way she teaches: She is young, relatively inexperienced, if I may say so, and her lesson isn't structured. She seems to have several ideas of what should teach the students, but she ends up jumping from one exercise to the next, without a clear picture in front of her eyes, a goal to achieve. I'm sure, though, that this will come with time, and only with time.

The last straw was the class.
Nobody is there because they want to learn the language. They all are sitting in the classroom because they need a grade 11 language for university (some unis require a second language).
It was a horrible atmosphere, and all in all I felt really not-challenged.

We had a project presentation today, and I was half an hour late, because I had been at the counselor's to get the course dropping form.
I did the presentation without any notes - and then she wanted us to hand in our scripts.
I had written one, but left it on my dresser at home, so I had improvised and told her I didn't have a script.

After the lesson I went to her and told her I needed her signature for dropping the course.
She looked at me and asked "why?," because of course teachers want to know why a student doesn't want to take their course anymore.

I didn't feel comfortable with saying "because you confuse me and are a bad teacher and that amounts to a lot of stress for me," so all I said was "I'm having real troubles sleeping -  I only get 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and so I need to drop a course."
I told her about my other workload, and then it was revealed that that approach had been a wise one:
She looked at me, really concerned, and told me she'd been the same when she entered university and had burnt out really quickly.
She looked at my replacement course, and said "Good choice, Julia."

What is my replacement? Mixed Martial Arts.
So I finally get a bit more sport!

After I had gotten her signature, I went to see the teacher outside in the portable, and he gave me his signature - the only problem: The class is an all boys' class.
Well, and now me.
But you know what? I don't really care.
I'm sure we'll get along somehow, and if not, I can still go to P.E.

All in all, that was a great day to take away that stress factor, and I've been feeling really great.

That enthusiasm though was diminished by the afternoon: I finally got the owner of the Del Buono Dance Studio here on the phone and asked him about Ballroom lessons.
Group lessons are only for couples, and I don't have anybody to go with, and private lessons are $65 per hour.
Waaaay too much.

Tanya gave me a booklet with activities for the spring and early summer here in Glenmore, and I have put my eye on two courses:
One Tai Chi course on Saturday noons, and a Boot Camp that starts in April.
Tanya will register me tomorrow, and I really hope I get into it!

Both sounded pretty awesome, to be honest!

So, I'm pretty happy again - and maybe I can even use part of this stuff up there for my Creative Writing project! :D

Doubly useful!

Hmmm... I just realized I didn't finish the arch I started to span... Okay, so here is the rest:

But this chance was, as so often, not solely my choice. Or at least, it didn't start with me.

I was too blind, too close, to see the root of the problem - or at least one possibility of a root.

But, as I mentioned, I skyped a lot the past weekend.
It started out with Lydia, who's been a great help throughout all of this - and the only one of whom I actually know that they read my blog regularly, aside from my beloved Doro and my Mum, so all the more kudos to her!

So I was skyping with her - and I have to mention that by that time I was already feeling vastly better, if not great - and she said to me "If I'm honest with you, Julia, I think the best thing would be for you to come home now."
Now I didn't react scandalized or angry as some of you might think I would. I just looked at her calmly and maybe a tad tired and said "That's not an option. I don't think I could live with myself if I cut it short."
The thing is, I don't feel anything particular about this subject. I feel indifferent.
I have learned so much, broadened my mind a considerable but, have learned so much about myself, I'm just tired.
I want to go home. As in, go home to the sanctuary I have built up over the last 15 years, with the impregnable walls and my long-time friends and everything I have always known.
I am vastly out of my comfort zone, here, something that I tend to forget as long as I am in good spirits.
But, "I know I can finish this. I know I am strong enough to actually see this through til the end."
So we devised a couple of plans I need to follow to be more happy.
The first one is "Stand up for myself."

Now you might think "But she's always so outspoken, she actually says what she thinks..."
Yes, I do.
But I only speak my mind if I know it won't affect anybody.
I have unlearned to say 'no'.
I bottle up all my anger and disappointment, and am happy.
But the anger and the emotions aren't just gone. Not in the least.
They are there, locked away deep inside me, slowly gnawing away, eating me up inside out.
They erupt in panic attacks and break downs, but never in a truly healthy fashion.

The first step to standing up for myself, not just on the behalf of others or knowledge, but for my feelings, would have been to call off Spanish.
But I didn't think so far, didn't make the connection.

So when I was skyping with Dorothea, she said to me "I remember in the first semester how excited you were about school, how you could hardly wait to get there, how you loved it.
And from what I've seen from your blog, that is gone now. For god's sake, you won't even go to bed because you know that in the morning, you have to drag yourself to school!"
I was backed up by my parents, who both said, "If it makes you unhappy, drop it. You're over there to enjoy your year, not to torture yourself" (okay, I didn't ask for their input so much as I said "I'm dropping Spanish" and watched their reaction...).

I can't yet say anything about the long-term meaning of my choice. But for now at least, I feel unbelievably free and cheerful and great.
So I really hope that it stays this time! :)


  1. Well done!
    Enjoy and relax ♥

  2. I'm proud of you!
    You can to this! <3

  3. I'm deeply touched - continue doing and saying EVERYTHING JULIA !
    Thanks for sharing,
    guess who :-)


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