Thursday evening, 10/03/2016
For a few days at the start of this week, I really struggled for the first time since arriving here. While I know some of the other guys here have had to cope with various amounts of homesickness, I’ve felt largely happy and excited since arriving, and find it pretty easy to just never think about Sydney.
In general, I’ve got compartmentalising down pat – appreciating the things that are in front of me which give joy, and lying to myself about the things that don’t. Periodically though, something snaps me out of mindless contentment, chucking me right into a brief but intense pit of anxiety that is a legacy of how much I struggled in younger years. It’s usually via some epic fuck-up (or close call) that really jolts me into realising that I can’t just go about some things as carelessly as I often do. In short, I did something I now regret and feel pretty dumb about. The anxiety over how badly things could’ve gone has subsided now that they’ve turned out (mostly) okay, but that’s more down to luck than anything.
From this I realised that in essence, I am still here on my own, and that things aren’t the same as they were in Sydney. When you’re with your best friends, your people, your fuck-ups aren’t fuck-ups in isolation. They’re fuck-ups that relate to those of your friends, who appreciate the hot mess you are but know that you’re still a good, whole, mostly-rational person. Your mistakes aren’t just symptomatic of character flaws, they’re part of why they love you. No one ever becomes best friends with someone totally infallible. But in a new city, you can’t be as reckless – people don’t know you as a whole, together(ish) person yet, and can only judge you on what little they’ve seen. I guess you kind of have to earn the right to be a fuckwit before going about it.
Anyhow, while reflecting on my mistake I really missed my friends – a similar situation would’ve played out differently with them. To comfort myself, I stuck up the Polaroids I’d brought over onto the closet door next to my desk. I stared at the little images of all my favourite people. Yes, I may also have pressed my face against some of them. It was a rough night, okay. It’s not my fault you guys are all so good and make living without you so undesirable.
There’s undoubtedly a lot of pressure on those going on ICS to have the best time of their short lives. We anticipate it for the first three years of our degree, and people around us – teachers, other students who’ve come back, friends, family – are constantly talking up what an amazing time we’ll have. We all leave our jobs. Some leave their partners. All the sacrifices add up, and there’s a need for it to count towards something significant in the end. No one wants to tell their friends and family back home that they’re not wildly enjoying themselves every minute of every day. I know people who are having the most unimaginably good time in their new home cities, and others who are just getting by. So far, I’m somewhere in between, but having fun figuring it all out.
I have the attention span of a puppy who’s a bit special so three days later I’m back to being happy and excited – but I’ll readily admit that not every day is so easy.