Well, if ever there was a post I didn’t foresee, this is it.
I’ve spent my life so far reading about people having adventures. The only books I’ve read in which living at home is a fixture for young women are books set in other eras. I exist in a time and place where moving out before marriage has long since become commonplace, but I have yet to use my liberty.
I had an odd time of it at university, since everyone I met there had left home behind. They marvelled at things I had grown up beside, and talked into the small hours whilst my internet shut off at eleven. Catching the bus into the city, I stepped out of the door at 7:30 and arrived on campus forty minutes later. I would sit with my book and wait for my classmates to roll in at nine. Few ever arrived more than a minute before necessary.
To say I found it difficult to forge a connection with my fellows is an understatement. I left university with the same two friends I had at school, and a handful of acquaintances, most of whom I do not anticipate ever knowing well.
In short, I spent much of my degree feeling like a puzzle piece in the wrong box.
From the word go I knew I would not study my MA in Winchester. I spent three years set on the idea of attending the prestigious University of East Anglia. I avoided extensive social commitments, went out once or twice a week at most, and grafted. I had zero days off for illness, and when I missed lectures for travels I always made sure to get the notes. I was, I say with some pride, as hard-working as a young person can expect to be, and honestly believed myself to be the author of my destiny.
I sent off my application to the UEA, complete with glowing references and a sample creative piece that I had worked on for six months, and all was well.
But then, the unexpected plot twist. Scarcely two weeks went by before I got an email opening on that awful phrase ‘we regret to inform you.’
The week that followed was one of the most depressing of my life. Young and soft, you must forgive me if it seems that I was floored by the lightest of blows, but there is no taste more bitter than failure.
I moped more than I’m proud of, and kept the better part of my pain bundled up inside myself until it sank into my bones. I was, to be dramatic, little more than a sad, confused child whose world had been unpleasantly rearranged.
However, if there’s anything that can give you an appetite for success, it’s a good kick in the teeth.
After a week I made efforts to sort myself out. I lifted my chin and took my personal statement into university, where I asked my tutor to help me improve it. I browsed for another place to study, and refused to cry. After a month of polishing up a new creative sample I was ready to apply for an MA in Creative Prose Writing at the University of Kent, Paris campus.
Having been rejected by the UEA, my faith in my ability was shaken, and I had no real expectation of getting a place elsewhere. I made provisions for another failure, and spent my time drafting applications for Exeter and Derby, without much hope of being accepted by them either. My parents told me ‘everything works out for the best’ and patted me on the shoulder, but I spent my nights staring at the ceiling, trying to fathom the chasm of fear and self-loathing that had opened up inside me. The idea that I had done what I could was no longer satisfying, but worrying.
I had never given my all and been found wanting before.
But now I’m in a position to say that I would take that blow again. I would open my arms to it and smile, because the first disappointment was worth it.
I, Deanna, am going to Paris for my MA.
In August I shall be packing my clothes, a few books, and a handful of keepsakes. I shall hug my parents at the airport, and begin the next chapter of my life with a suitcase in my hand.
Like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and pretty much every famous artist ever, I am going to the City of Love to pursue my passion. I shall (if my luck holds out) be working as an au pair, living in servants’ quarters. I shall be poorer, more frightened, and further from my depth than I have ever been before, but amongst it all I am going to be a writer in Paris.
My goal when I started this blog was ‘to see what the world is made of,’ and if this doesn’t constitute, I don’t know what will!