I haven’t published my thoughts in just under a year.
There was a time when I would cherish the times spent pressing the buttons of my laptop, each tap, tap, tap of the keyboard, a cathartic release of the mind.
I told myself I was good at it, too. That people wanted to hear what I had to say. I thought that maybe I had found a career path for me, something I enjoyed that I could also make money from. So I enrolled into a journalism course. It all felt right.
and then it felt wrong.
For my first assignment I wrote about the safety of the LGBT community in Sunderland. I tackled my anxieties and I spoke to strangers. I stayed up till the early hours of the morning perfecting my final draft, with a black coffee to keep me company. I’ve never been good with deadlines. Yet I had a piece of work I was proud to submit, so I printed it out and gave it to my tutor.
But it was wrong.
This isn’t relevant, they said. No one knows what LGBT means, they said. Why would you include quotes from people who want to remain anonymous, they said.
It hurt that the topics I felt so strongly about were irrelevant in the media world. As naive as it may sound, realising that the things I’m passionate about isn’t what I should write about if I want a career in media, or at least a degree anyway, was hard to swallow.
So I did what all good students would have done, and I started writing about the things that better fitted the university news site. Local nightclub events, the best outside activities, a report on Liam Neeson, that sort of thing. Despite choosing sleep over thrilling lectures on how the 1712 Stamp Act affected early newspaper publications, I started getting 2:2s and 2:1s.
Then one day I sat in a lecture hall. I sat and listened to a lecture all about the Madeleine McCann case, and about how it made for great news coverage because she was white and her parents were middle class, and because she was pretty because she had big blue eyes. People don’t want to read about things happening in other countries either, they said. Ebola isn’t important when it’s killing people in third world countries, they said. It only becomes a newsworthy epidemic as soon as it becomes something that british people need to worry about.
I looked around the lecture hall, at all the other people in the room sat on uncomfortable green chairs furiously scribbling down notes on books resting on their knees. It all felt so wrong.
I started sleeping in a lot more after that. Until eventually I stopped going to university altogether, and that was that.
I left education with nothing more than a piece of paper to say I failed, a lifelong looming debt, and a disdain for writing.
I started working full time waitressing in my local airport, and when I say full time I mean over 70 hours a week. During that time a lot of people told me it must be so interesting to work in an airport, everyone must be so happy and cheerful, an innocent assumption. But let me tell you I have never in my life been spoken to the way I was spoken to by people who simply didn’t enjoy their overpriced burger whilst they waited for their flight to Tenerife.
I think I lost a part of myself during my time at the airport. I certainly lost a lot of sleep. Sometimes my shifts would start at 3am, no public transport ran at that time and taxis cost an upwards of £30, so I’d get the last metro in and attempt to sleep in the departure lounge, kept awake by the security announcements that sounded over the tannoy every five minutes. I can still recite them.
I know it’s bad form to slate a former employer, and I don’t have any resentment towards the people who employed me, but the shifts I worked didn’t only break laws, they broke me. I remember an 18 hour shift, I started at 3am and worked until 11pm. Including the travel time and the precious hours spent sleeping on a Starbucks armchair, I was away from home for over 24 hours.
I cried a lot during my time there. I cried behind my till, I cried whilst clearing dishes, I cried whilst picking up the possessions a customer had dropped as he screamed in my face, I cried because I was tired, I cried because my feet were bleeding, I cried because I had walked so far my toenails had fallen off, I cried because I didn’t have the mental capacity to do anything else, I cried whilst laying on the floor of the bar and got sent home so I cried some more.
Then I had enough of crying so I handed in my notice.
I told myself this was a clean break, I would have time for hobbies I once loved and maybe even learn to enjoy writing again. But I didn’t, because I didn’t really know who I was anymore. I didn’t have anything to write about. I was just a tired girl who cried a lot.
It didn’t take me long to find a new job, a really nice job. Serving lovely food, to lovely customers and working lovely hours with lovely people. It took a long time, and I’m still a little bit lost in life, but I’m much happier now, and I think it’s time I write again.
I’m not sure what fueled this long and quite frankly dramatic post, but it was therapeutic. I want to feel good about something again, for myself. Not for the grades, or the comments in Disqus. I’m happy to shout the euphoric release of words into the empty void of the internet, just for me.