Over the years, my Dad has often tried to suggest to me that I write an autobiography.
Over the years, I've always said, "No! Seriously, there's no way that anyone is going to believe that half of this is for real! Also, who'd want to read my story anyway? From the outside it probably just sounds like one big, long, depressing whinge-fest - and there's no way that I'd want to read that story! Hell, I don't even want to sit down an write it, and it's all happened to me!"
I think now that things seem to have stabilised a lot more, and knowing that people are taking something constructive out of what I'm sharing, I feel more comfortable about it. I think that sharing my story in snippets, across various media - including this blog, and through videos, with a hint of snark and humour, make things much easier to handle. Also, I get to mix topics up every week, which is super fun.
So without further ado, here are some of my experiences from the last week, and the adventures that have led me here.
If you're in Australia, and your anything like Jordan and me, then you'll have already signed up for Netflix, and there's a high chance that you've spent the Easter Long Weekend binge watching episodes of TV shows you had to download illegally until now - or you know, just wait until forever for them to be released here.
Between episodes of Vikings and Bojack Horseman, I've spent the weekend watching Tina Fey's new series 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', and in spite of (or possibly because of) the many cringe-worthy moments, I'm really digging it so far. It's nice to watch a show which presents survivors as being more than their traumatic experiences, and smashes holes in the phenomenon of labelling women as "Victims" with cheesy comedy.
I think the thing I love most about the show - and definitely the thing which resonates most with me, is Kimmy's refusal to be reduced to her experiences, and her determination to create exactly the kind of life she wants for herself.
This whole conversation around "Victims" and "Survivors" has always been really interesting to me. I can remember the first time I introduced my eldest Kitteh, Felix the Guard Tiger to my ex. I talked the other week, about how Felix lives with some pretty intense anxiety, and is generally pretty timid - especially around men. As my ex walked into the apartment I was living in at the time, I explained that Felix probably wouldn't let him too close and that the RSPCA had rescued him as a stray from Kinglake after the Black Saturday Bushfires.
My ex spun around and said, "Oh, so he's a Victim??"
And in what was probably the most telling example of the extreme differences between us, I responded, "Nu-uh! He's a SUR-VIV-OR!"
Anyway, these ideas have been going through my mind a bit lately, not only thanks to Kimmy Schmidt, but also because of this awesome campaign called Red My Lips which seeks to combat rape culture and minimise survivors experiences of shame through speaking out, and because New South Wales now has a Minister for Women who's already come out far stronger than her Federal counterpart - after only a week in the job.
As you can see, a lot has been happening inside my head this weekend - behind all of the planning for tonight's Google Hang Out, and Easter Egg Hunting (I may be a 29 year old woman, but Jordan still hid chocolates all over The Kitteh Palace for me yesterday) - I definitely needed yesterday to just chill out and stream TV Shows.
The other super exciting thing which happened yesterday (Yes - even more exciting than an apartment filled with hidden chocolate!) was that I received the results for my final exam as part of my ICF Accredited, Coaching Certification - and I am beyond thrilled to share with you all that I scored 95.6%, meaning that I performed extremely well in ALL three of my exams!
Now, in all honesty, I've always been something of a "High Achiever". I always did extremely well at high school, and it often felt somewhat unfair because I never had to push myself out of my comfort zone, or really challenge myself to do well. I think I felt guilty about this when I had friends who really desperately wanted to do well - especially in Years 11 and 12, and they would work incredibly hard and give their absolute best.
This all got much worse when I finished high school, and went straight into studying to become a Primary School Teacher. While on the surface, I was happy to have gotten into the university course I wanted to attend, and while I genuinely enjoyed going out to schools and taking part in practicum, as well as studying ideas and theories at a deeper level, I honestly felt kind of shit for most of the time I was doing anything to do with my degree.
It wasn't that I found the work too hard, when I actually got work done, I always received great marks. But I REALLY struggled to get work done - and if I submitted assignments at all, they were always marked down for late submission.
For years, there was a lot of underlying fear and anxiety below the surface that I wasn't ready to deal with - and eventually, I ended up dropping out of uni. TWICE!
As silly as it sounds, I think I was so totally scared of actually standing out and succeeding, that I absolutely sabotaged myself. I didn't believe that I deserved to be successful or stand out through my studies - or in my career - and for years I've been hiding myself away and running around in circles in my own little world.
I don't talk about it much, but there was a whole lot of really intense shit happen between the end of Year 12 and heading off to Uni. For those of you who don't know, I was involved in a serious car accident, and then on the day before we received our final VCE results, one of our school mates disappeared under water, and drowned while swimming in the Yarra River.
For a long time, I think I felt guilty about going on to university. I felt guilty that the work seemed easy to me, and I resented the idea of regurgitating information out onto paper just to prove that I'd understood it when I'd already demonstrated a clear understanding of the theories through practice. I know, essays are a part of academic study, and writing is something I'm naturally good at, so logically I should have been able to just pump the work out, but I would sit down and jam up every time I attempted to write. It was pretty much like having a panic attack every time I tried to do an assignment.
I stuck with teachers college for three whole years - attempting to work my way through it and repeating subjects I knew like the back of my hand, until I finished my Visual Arts Major and got the hell out. I honestly think that I stuck with it for so long because it was always expected that I would do well at uni - and that I would make a great teacher. Honestly, I think I stuck with it because I had no idea what else to do - even though I was working 3 crappy jobs the thought of dropping out and getting bogged down in them - and feeling like a failure was terrifying. I think I felt obliged to try and figure it out and make it work - like I didn't deserve to have it easy anymore, so everyday life became inherently challenging.
The other week, I shared on Facebook that during that particular day, I'd published almost 4,000 words on this blog - and that since creating this blog roughly 6 months ago, I've written more words than I did during all of the 6 years I spent at university.
Granted, now I'm writing by choice, on topics I'm totally passionate about, which makes a big difference, but I've also spent years getting to know my fears and triggers, learning about what I'm truly fucking terrified of, so that I can try to work with those fears to create something better.
Another huge lesson - aside from working to accept the things that have happened in my life, has been that none of the time I spent dithering and working through the shit at university was wasted. I learned a whole lot during that time - not only in terms of academic knowledge - but also about myself and other people.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone considering going into study now - regardless of what field they're thinking about - or where they're contemplating going (whether it be a university, TAFE, or private college or online provider), is to seriously ask yourself WHY?
Are you choosing to enrol just because you think that you should?
Or because someone has told you that you'd be good at it?
Or because you have no idea what else to do?
I finished high school over ten years ago now, I don't have a university degree, I've only JUST figured out what my thing is, and I've gotten through life quite well thus far I'd say - but things didn't need to be a fucking hard as I made them for myself.
My advice to you, is to ask yourself, when going into anything, "Is this something I'm truly excited by, and passionate about?"
It doesn't need to excite you, or be the ONLY thing you're ever going to be passionate about - EVER.
But at this point in time, for me, I've absolutely loved studying with the International College of Wellness Coaches, and receiving my exam results yesterday made me feel as if I've genuinely accomplished something to be extremely proud of. Just completing my exams and feeling good about my studies has been a big accomplishment for me.
So, at this stage I'm inviting you all to really think about what it is that you truly want to achieve in this life - and to think deeply about what might really be holding you back.
Please feel free to share what you come up with in the comments below.
Until next time,
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