When I get frustrated, it’s often because I don’t understand something or am misunderstood myself. Yesterday was a culmination of both. For class I had to read Eric Hobsbawm’s text on Invented Traditions (forgive me for not looking up what it’s called), then discuss it with my classmates and the professor in class next day. The text itself isn’t horrible per se but it is quite vague when the main point he seems to be making is “there’s this phenomenon taking place in the 19th century that hasn’t been studied enough; get on it” yet for some reason he needs 60 pages to say this, inventing his own terminology in the process.
The main question we asked was what invented traditions are and how they differ from ordinary traditions. Yet no matter what everyone answered, there was no clear difference. So I kept asking because I was dissatisfied with the answer because it didn’t answer the question. However, the more we discussed the further we strayed and the more questions I asked the fewer were answered. My classmates, and even my professor, might have thought they were answering my questions but really they were rehashing things I already understood and agreed with. I don’t think they purposely misunderstood but it is frustrating that I still don’t get what the hell invented traditions are and why he didn’t just focus on the important things instead.
That’s how I ended up crying in class. Fun times. Then as icing on the cake, one of my classmates “reassured” me by telling me the text was “very intellectually challenging” so it only made sense I wouldn’t understand. Thanks, girl. Truly helpful. Instant raise in confidence. What’s worse is how nice and cool she seemed before yet the moment I opened up to her she was like “uhhhhh bye”. It’s sad. How are we ever to learn to open up and speak up about who we are and what we value when the moment we do there’s some person who will tear us down? Does she realise how hard it was to open up at all? How hard it was to trust her? And the way she said it, so sickly sweet and “understanding” or “empathetic” as if she was some kind of saint for acknowledging and finding a reason for my struggles.
Needless to say I am done with her and anyone else who thinks it’s okay to say these kinds of things. Silence would have been a much better choice. Why don’t people know when to shut up?
But the worst thing is that a few hours later I found out I failed my first class with a shockingly low 4,5 (which is lower than any grade I’ve ever received at university before) so I’m starting to think she might’ve been right. My confidence was finally up after graduating from my bachelor’s degree after all that time but then it only took this one day to push me back down.
I keep coming back to this one factor, to this same story, whenever I think about academia and that is my way of thinking. It doesn’t match other people’s. We read the same texts and while they do get some different things from them, because they’re a diverse group of individuals with unique backgrounds and life experiences, somehow they still end up thinking in the same direction, or at least following the same trail of thought, whereas I am left with conclusions an ocean away, seemingly drawn out of the blue when I mention them.
And when I ask questions I get these looks, as if I’m asking something crazy or ridiculous or obvious. Either I’m the village lunatic who doesn’t comprehend the world and anything in it or I am the ignorant child who doesn’t understand the basics you learn in elementary school. So tell me: how am I supposed to improve if asking questions is ridiculed? And why are only my questions ridiculed when other people ask far stranger and more obvious ones? Why me? What’s wrong with me that I can’t think the way they do? Am I really that different? Or is it them? Are they simply unable to burst out of their safe little bubble and see what’s out there, all the possibilities? I don’t know and I don’t get it.
I am so tempted to call my GP again and ask her to refer me to a psychologist to check what the hell is wrong with me but then I’m reminded of last time I tried and how she basically ignored my request and suicidal me was left with no one and a complete lack of trust in any doctor out there. I reached out to her last January, had a breakdown in her office, and asked her to refer me to a mental health professional, and she said “sure, I’ll call you” except she never did. I’ve seen her a few times since and she never even brought it up again. You would expect a doctor to understand that reaching out and seeking help is hard so she should be on top of things. There is no way in hell I could bring it up again myself, not after the first time. It was hard enough doing it, but getting ignored or forgotten like that really doesn’t do your image of self-worth any good. If even doctors don’t give a fuck whether you live or die, where can you turn?
And now winter’s coming again, the time when it gets dark at 5pm or earlier and everything dies. The time it’s nigh impossible to get warm, the time we celebrate stupid things just to feel less alone. And my birthday is coming up next week, which I am not looking forward to, not because I hate getting older because I actually appreciate having survived another year but because it’s always been the loneliest time, because friends always cancelled in favour of something else, because only my closest family cared to spend time with me.
So yeah, this is a bit of a pity party but it’s also all these buried feelings resurfacing, old wounds being scratched open, getting salt poured into them once more, because nothing got better with time. Everything still sucks. Nothing that needed to change has. I have tried so hard to become a better person but apparently I’m just not likeable, not someone who should be heard, not someone that can be noticed. And I don’t know what to do because I just can’t seem to make any meaningful connections. Is it me? Am I the problem here?
You know, I just finished reading Arthur Japin’s Vaslav the other day and while I could strongly relate to Peter, what worries me is how much of myself I see in his portrayals of Nietzsche and Nijinski, both of whom went crazy in the end. So I don’t know whether to take their path and just love people regardless of who they are or how they see me or if I should do the opposite, start living life for me and me alone, attempt to stop caring about people who are “unworthy”, whatever that means. I just don’t know. But I am done crying over this. People can suck all they want, they don’t deserve my tears. I’ll try to do my thing, write some books and some more poetry and just surround myself with good people, even if I have to resort to old videos online because they died or are far away.
Oh and if I fail the resit of this class I failed, I will have to drop out and redo the whole year next year. Not gonna do that. I decide this is going to be my last year at this university. If I fail, I’m dropping out for good. I will either find something else to study elsewhere or I’ll start looking for a better job but I am not restarting this programme next year if I fail. I said so last night and my mum agreed so it’s decided.
I did remember the advice my mum’s weird friend gave me last week at a party we threw. She told me I should write down everything I like and then see what jobs might come out. I did. It made me feel a bit better. I ended up with 10 potential jobs, and only a few of those are ridiculous but they had to be written down. I got author, translator, embassy (worker), travel guide, English teacher (abroad, though I hate teaching but being elsewhere would help a lot), poet, content creator (intentionally vague), world leader, monarch (I’m sure this is the most realistic option here but it might be too easy so I’ll leave it on the backburner for now and focus on something that would take a little more effort on my end).
I’m sure after this shitfest of feelings you’re all super stoked to read more stuff I wrote. Here goes.
Another time, another era
When he painted he was free. This was something he’d known from the moment he dipped his fat finger in the little jar of paint as a toddler in pre-school. Nowadays he used brushes and sponges and other tools but every once in a while a painting called for some finger action that he was always happy to provide.
He took a step back and observed his creation. He’d started on a portrait but somewhere halfway through he abandoned the idea. The result was an abstract work with many bright colours, yet it had something sinister, as if the paint was about to melt and something dark would appear from behind it, something that remained hidden, that should remain hidden.
It was his heartbreak. Ever since that summer his paintings had a haunting quality, seeming cheerful but feeling rather sinister the more you observed them. He wasn’t sure how others experienced them – he refused to read the reviews – but every time he looked at his work he got scared all over again.
She was there beside him, always, to comfort him if he needed it. She saw through his happy façade and pushed him forward when all he wanted was to look back and remember those blissful days.
She understood. Her own girlfriend had abandoned her in favour of a loveless but conventional marriage to a man of decent standing, some banker who would spoil her and satisfy her family. What could she have expected? Women were not allowed to be together like that, she knew that, yet she couldn’t help her rapidly beating heart, the warmth that gathered in her chest at the sight of those crimson lips, that soft jaw, that sharp nose. Johanna. She was in love.
He could sense her sadness, her longing, as it mirrored his own. It was kind of pathetic, how much they had given only to have it all thrown back in their faces, to see the resentment in their lovers’ eyes.
“You seduced me,” Markus had spit at him as if their moments together had meant nothing. “I never would’ve strayed without you.” His usually warm eyes now seemed icy, all tenderness long gone.
“I wish we’d never met.”
It was too much to bear. He dropped down on his knees and let his tears flow freely. Why had he left? Were they not in this together? The new legislation had even decriminalised sodomy; things were finally looking up. Why now?
It was getting hard to breathe. He curled forward and slammed the floor with his fists. Why wasn’t he good enough? Wasn’t love enough?
He started to shiver. If only he’d been born a woman. If only…
He couldn’t finish his thought. Would things be better in the future? If he’d been born a hundred years from now, would they have been able to lead a quiet life? Why was it so wrong for him to love a man?
She found him like that an hour later. She looked at the envelope in her hand once more, then at him, then back at the envelope. It was pretty, his name written in ornate golden writing. She put it away. There was no reason to hurt him more. He would read about it in the newspaper tomorrow anyway.
She kneeled down and hugged his limp form. If only she hadn’t introduced Johanna and Markus.