Friday, 12 August 2011

Learning Curves

As a student, stereotype states that I am pre-disposed to lie-ins, laziness and lethargic living.

Now, I will freely admit that I can sleep as well as the next narcoleptic when it suits me, but I seem to have built up this group of friends who regularly greet the world well before 9am, entirely through choice. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not entirely averse to an early start, sometimes even when they’re not compulsory, but it strikes me that I’ve never liked worms anyway, especially early in the morning, and I’ve got this far without it causing me too much harm, so why should I change now?

On the other hand, maybe that extra hour or two could make all the difference. Maybe if I sprang out of bed at 6am every day, I could learn another language, or finish that pesky novel a few years earlier. Perhaps those hours between sunrise and civilisation could be the key to solving the world’s problems! In reality though, the only chance of me actually being capable of springing out of bed at hell o’clock, or 666am, would be if you actually set my bed on fire. Even then I’d probably turn over to give myself another 5 minutes, just to make sure I was scorched right through. I am one of those slaves to their body, who, when they don’t get exactly the right amount of sleep that the mother ship requires, becomes what is affectionately known as “a grump” but upon closer inspection, can be more accurately described as  a she-beast from the 7th circle of Satan’s fiery headquarters.

The same mutation also occurs when my blood sugars get low, which makes being me pretty much a full-time occupation. I don’t know the scientific reason for why sleep and glucose seem to fuel the reasonable part of my brain, but I do know that when there has been a drought of either, your only options are to either throw food at me through the bars, or just push me over and run.

The past few years have been a massive learning curve in terms of understanding myself and my actions. From going to university, and being plucked from my 2-parent, no-sibling bungalow and thrust into a flat of 6 strangers (who thankfully turned out to be lovely) in a building of 11 other similar flats, to then being turfed out in to the real world and an actual house on a proper street, with bills and cleaning rotas, and queues for the bathroom, and then circumstance prompting the decision to plant roots in a 2-bedroom flat with the boyfriend, it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve become a bit of a mongrel, in the sense that living with all these different people, you pick up habits and quirks, both bad and good, and your norm is nudged and tweaked until it is almost unrecognisable compared to when you first started out. For example, there are those that start their days with the lark (or the cockerel, I’m not here to judge) and have pretty much solved the political crises of small countries via email by the time you’ve located the orange juice. Then there are those that, away from the parental constraints of social convention, pretty much become nocturnal, and do all that stuff that nocturnal people do in the ungodly hours. From the flatmate who watered down his orange juice, to the housemate who ate dry pasta, all via the veritable soul mate who has taught me that people with little legs just need to take bigger strides when they walk, it really is all part of life’s rich tapestry. (That last one was born from necessity; else I’d have walked almost everywhere alone and talking to myself for the past few years)

Moving away from your parents and family opens you up to a world of possibilities and the realisation that there are different ways of doing things. For instance, upon moving back home for this Summer I realised that I now pair socks differently to how I used to, which is, fairly understandably, how my parents still do it. Despite not entirely feeling, or even looking like the same person who flew the nest a few years ago, it still holds true that if you were to chip away at the newly-acquired outlooks, borrowed linguistic foibles and the amalgamation of accents that now coats my words, I am still me, just with more experience, and my new challenge is fitting back in to past situations without ripping the seams.

My good friend, no, scrap that, my wonderful, marvellous, talented friend (gemmalouise) who I even have the pleasure of knowing in actual real-life reality, recently posted a piece about parents which got me to thinking about all of this and is why my initial post idea has morphed in to this rather lengthy missive.  Now, I have to be careful what I say here, because my parents are actually readers of this blog (Hi Mum, hi Dad) but hopefully my next post won’t be about the trials and tribulations of being homeless!

It’s amazing how your relationship with your parents changes, or at least mine has. There was that time in my teens when it felt like a day couldn’t go by without some sort of argument or heated exchange and looking back, I probably wasn’t as innocent-a-party as the teenage me would have protested. I often get this overwhelming urge to apologise when I think back, but I’ve heard countless times that most, if not all children go through this horrible stage, and most make it out relatively unscathed, with only some laughable wardrobe choices and an ill-advised “forbidden” tattoo or piercing or two to show for it.

What I’ve come to realise, is that as I’ve been growing up, my parents have been growing right there with me. It’s got to that stage in my life where I’ve finally realised that my parents are human, perhaps even only human. I mean that in the most appreciative, respectful, gracious way possible, because I know how incredibly lucky I am to be their daughter, but the fact is that as I have started to grow into my own identity, I have also come to realise that they are their own people behind the labels Mum and Dad. Sometimes, this dual discovery has been fractious, but I also feel it has strengthened our relationship. Parents used to be this homogenous entity that you tolerated and placated in order to try and avoid altercations which, when it was the two of them against one, were, like, just so massively unfair. Even being able to tell my parents about this blog, and let them in on this part of my life, which is getting bigger and bigger by the syllable, has helped enormously with communication and honesty on both sides.

I know that some people don’t have the ideal relationship with their parents for a myriad of reasons, and there have been plenty of times when my parents and I have barely seen eye to navel, but in some situations, where you see parent and child stereotypes seemingly reversed, it can be frustrating and disheartening even from the point of view of an outsider. It is in these cases that it’s important to remember that the parent-child relationship is a complex one, and while I can think of a fair few wrong ways of going about establishing one, I certainly can’t think of any definitive right ones. So, in the future, when having babies finds itself near the top of the “To-Do” list, that will be another steep learning curve, and yet another moment of self-discovery, and is one which we’re probably all already sub-consciously preparing for.


  1. Sometimes I find myself in a moment of complete surprise at how different I feel in certain areas of my life since moving away to college. In other ways, I feel the exact same way I did when I was younger, when my parents still controlled everything I did. This freedom...I'm not sure what to do with it...I haven't fully taken advantage of it at this point. My parents are still learning to let go and realize that I'm my own person now, and I'm still learning how to make my own decisions without them. I find myself wanting to call them to ask questions that, after I think about it, I realize I need to answer for myself.

    In a way, I'm scared to grow up...I'm scared at the thought of having a career, maybe getting married, maybe having children...There's so much for me to potentially screw up. I guess this is the point where we have to take that leap of faith, because the alternative is staying in the nest forever.

  2. I know exactly what you mean about feeling like there's so much to potentially screw up, and being scared of the future, but I've finally decided that life's too short to let that stop me, and I have also realised that other people are just as scared and unsure as me, as us, even if they don't always show it, or are perhaps better at putting a brave face on it.
    Like I said, there's not always a right or wrong way of going about something, it's actually about finding your own way.