In some ways, I want nothing more than to write off the past three months of my life, and forget they ever happened. Not because I didn’t enjoy the events of them, but because I’m allowing myself to be defined by the mistakes I made during that time.
It’s very hard to stop yourself getting caught up in thoughts of “What if?”. What if I had never met that person? What if I had never said what I said? What if I had done this one thing differently? Before you know it, thoughts like that cloud and shape every single thought, every single judgement, every single decision you make.
I started out this term with a few clear set goals for 2012; Get a 1st in my degree, win the exec elections, get healthy. One of those goals was entirely short-term, with the executive elections ending in early March. The academic goal is still partially ongoing, with exams in January and May/June, and the health goal is a yearlong project. Needless to say, I’m looking at only attaining one out of three now.
Okay, so the “1st class degree” was a little optimistic, seeing as I was on a low 2.1, with a string of relatively lacklustre attendance for first semester lectures. In fact, i’m now on a mid-2.1, an improvement on my performance, so perhaps aiming high on that one has at least pushed me in the right direction.
But the big one, and the one that has shaped this entire term more than anything, was the executive elections. Long story short, I didn’t win. It got to the final week, the big, crucial vote week, and I panicked. I turned up to campus that morning, and saw everyone else out there, preparing at the same time as me. We all sat there for our breakfast meeting, and the logical, smart side of my persona decided to take a well-earned break, leaving the confused, hotheaded emotional side to look at the upcoming week and panic. I made a very rash decision, and even turning to the one person who was trying their hardest to keep me in the running was fruitless, as I was clouded by how I felt for that person. I made a mistake in quitting those elections. I have no qualms with admitting to that.
Now I have to live with that mistake, and that’s proving harder than ever. I had successfully managed to soak every square inch of my life in union issues, and all of a sudden, the mere presence of these issues saddened me, and made me very bitter about what had happened. I even lashed out, temporarily, blaming others for my decision, refusing to accept that it had happened and attempting to fix it through vindictive means. And the one thing that I had hoped to gain out of my withdrawal, a chance at something I’d put a lot of emotion into, didn’t come to be. I thank that’s what hurts the most.
But I have to look at what I actually did gain out of those elections. For the first time in my life, I had pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone that I was actually scared of it. And what did I find out there?
I found out that people do actually listen to me. People take notice of what you do, what you say, what you’ve already achieved, what you hope to achieve, why you do what you do and they appreciate the effort you go to.
I found out that I’m not the only one who worries about the things that I do. I’m not the only one whose main reason for staying at my university is my love of the Students’ Union. I’m not the only one who wants to make a real difference.
I found out that infamy is a tough thing to cope with and dangerously addictive. When I made my appearances at the debates, the fact that people took notice of me, and were driven to talk about me spurred me on to make myself noticed more. But when I withdrew, and everyone was talking about that (albeit temporarily), I remember thinking it was wonderful that I could make such ripples. And then I realised that they were temporary. And what I gave up to make them was worth infinitely more than a brief moment of infamy.
I found out who my friends were. Messages of genuine, heartfelt support gave me faith that my friends were amazing, and actually cared. The offers of help, and the lengths people were willing to go to help me really touched me. Words cannot express my thanks to those who supported me.
I found out that I can hurt people with my actions. Sorry.
I found out that two people, who would be great friends if they weren’t forced together as enemies, can find solace in each other’s company that can not only help you through tough times, but can also shape your outlook and decisions.
I found out that it is far too easy to let your emotions run rogue and govern you, especially if you’re used to taking the logical approach.
I found someone who I fell in love with, someone who wasn’t prepared for me to feel like that, and as such, every time i’m in the same room or building as them, someone whose presence i both can’t stand to be around, but want to be there every second.
I found the dark side of student politics. I found the hushed conversations, the vicious rumours, the backstabbing and the fair-weather friendships. I found people at their worst.
I found the light side of student politics. I found true dedication, future leaders, camaraderie, and real friendships. I found people at their best.
I found a resolution to this. I can come back, bigger and better than ever, and take those elections down. As far as I’m concerned, that job should be mine. And I will rest at nothing until it is. I won’t let myself fall into the same self-laid traps that I did last time.
Yet there’s this inescapable feeling that I’ve missed my big chance. This was supposed to be “my year”. Every time I see something that relates to it, I can’t help but feeling “it should be me”. Who is to say that I’ll be at all able to come back and take it down at all next year?
There’s that “what-if” attitude again. I hate that attitude. That and “everything happens for a reason”. I don’t believe in determinism. One has to make their own chances, take their own steps and create their own life. The only reason things happen to me are because I make them happen. Good or bad, I am the only one who can truly have an effect on them. The problem with taking a non-deterministic approach is that it wakes you up to the sharp reality that, if you make a mistake, it’s nobody’s fault but your own. And that’s what I’m really struggling with right now. Because I missed this chance of my own accord.
In some ways, I want nothing more than to write off the past three months of my life, and forget they ever happened. But then I look at what I’ve found out. I look at what I’m going to do to fix this. I look at my doubts in my ability to enact that resolution. And I realise that I don’t have to let my mistakes define me. I don’t have to let my doubts get in the way of my ambitions. I don’t have to forget about the past three months. I don’t have to give up on how I feel for her.
The past term has been both awful and amazing. And it’s also been the single most important term in my life. In some ways, I never want to forget it. And that’s one goal I know I’ll be able to achieve.