My first week of classes is done. I suppose I am a proper postgraduate student now.
I spent most of my first week sick and in bed, wanting to be outside. There’s that early anxiety when you first arrive somewhere that if you’re not as busy as humanly possible that you somehow will cease to exist. The last thing I want to be right now is invisible. I’m content to be in the sidelines, never the center of attention, but I don’t want to be alone. And yet even in a thriving university with 40,000 students and a city with many, many more than that, that’s how I’ve felt these first couple of weeks — desperately, depressingly alone.
It’s not Manchester — I think it’s me. The older I get, the fewer excuses I have as to why I can’t be happy with myself in any given situation. I ask myself now if I’ve always been this insecure or if I can lay the blame at how things have turned out for me. Have I always been so paranoid, so fragile?
That’s not to say I haven’t had my good moments — let’s take my classes themselves. I’m only taking three, two of which are mandatory core courses with mostly the same people in both. The other is an optional module I’m really looking forward to. I’ve been wondering if I was really making the right decision with Social Anthropology. No, it’s more accurate to say I’ve been dreading my classes because I’ll be revealed as a huge fraud. Fortunately — with the exception of a rather terrible Archaeology class I had registered for and proceeded to drop immediately after it was over — I’ve enjoyed my classes. I love being back in school. I love being a student. I love to learn. I love to challenge myself. I love to interact with other people in a class setting. I love that feeling of satisfaction when I make a good analogy, when a peer or professor is pleased with something I’ve said, or when something really clicks for me the first time. There’s no doubt in my mind, at least, that I’ve made the right decision in coming back to school. And I don’t doubt anymore that I’ve made the right decision to do something new. Maybe Social Anthropology won’t be “easy” for me, but have I ever been the sort to choose a course because it’s easy? Not really. I think I can say I’ve always tried to push myself even when it’s seemed impossible.
I’ve made some lovely friends, most notably my American flatmate, and I’ve had the pleasure of being surrounded by a great group of Man United fans. I can’t understate how wonderful it is to be in Manchester where my club is. It feels so right, so comfortable.
If it’s not any of those things, then — what is it? What is stopping me from letting go, from starting over? Some old insecurities at play — with myself, with my ability to make friends. I just want to be liked. I want people to want to be around me. I want my classmates to feel they can approach me. I want my name to not be the last on someone’s list, for people to think that I bring something unique and worthwhile to a gathering, to a friendship. I’ve always been such an introvert, so shy — even though longtime friends find this hard to believe. I don’t think this is a bad thing, per se — certainly nothing unusual. I just wish this natural state of introvertedness wasn’t accompanied by so much insecurity, such low self-esteem, such self-doubt.