Sunday, 11 February 2018

On Believing in Yourself

The air was harsh. Bitterly cold. The kind of cold that there aren’t enough layers in the world to protect you from. The kind of cold that rattles your bones straight through to your soul. Outside is cold. But, it can’t even begin to compare to the frozen over shell of a person I am since I’ve become a graduate. I’m walking to my car after a long day of working a job I hate to pay off student loans I’ve seemed to have amassed for no apparent reason.

I can’t afford to pay for parking in the building I work, so I park across the street at a mall. Of course, when I walk up I see the bright flashing lights of mall security. He’s in front of my car as I’m walking up and he says, “I have a surprise for you.”

In his hand there is a yellow slip. I don’t react. Didn’t have it in me, not after this eight-hour day.

My world paused for a second. The moment’s when you’ve truly stopped feeling and the times you need to stop and reflect on where you’re at. And what let you get here.

Time began to move at a normal pace again and he said, “This is a warning. You’re not allowed to park here more than 4 hours at a time. You don’t want to get another one of these.”

I take it, and get in my car waiting for him to move his, so I can leave. I run the engine, unmoving.

Of course no one lands anywhere by accident. At least, I don’t think so. Every step we’ve made was a purposeful one. One that we decided to make. Why did I walk here?

I seemed to be exactly on a path I’d desperately tried to avoid. Working a job I hate, with people I hate and feeling no sense of accomplishment at the end of my 40 hour weeks. And now, life wasn’t even making it easy to do this job. Where the hell am I going to park now?

I think if I’d believed in myself a little more, I wouldn’t have gotten here. I’d have been somewhere I belonged, with people I belonged. But I never felt deserving of that.

You might know, not know or never know exactly what you want to do with yourself and your life. But, make the decision based on the abilities you believe yourself to have. Not the fear that you might not be able to do that. Because, that’s where they’ll die.

Inside my car isn’t much warmer than outside of it. Because, I’m all that’s in there to warm it up. The petrol will warm it up eventually, but for now I’m alone. It’s me.

The four years I spent accumulating the debt that now holds me captive to the job I walk so grudgingly from every day, went by in an anxiety coloured haze. I met some cool people, had some good times, but the ever present existential crisis constantly over the horizon of graduation followed me around a bit like a tail. It followed us all around like a tail.

We had good and bad days. We had people cry and storm out of exam rooms. We had career counselling, which often led some of us straight to the bar shortly thereafter.

But what makes the experience isn’t anything external. Before, during or after. It’s never about the environment, as much as it is the moment within that space. I sat in one of the final lectures of my university career, with my friend of four years, whom would soon be cruelly left in the world with me. A student went up to the teaching assistant. She said she was going to drop this class, because she just couldn’t do it. He’d replied, “You need to believe in yourself. If ever you convince yourself that you can’t do something, you’ll never be able to do anything.”

I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know if I agree. But, I know he has a point.