|Looking into the abyss: looking over the edge of Smeaton's Tower in Plymouth, 2015.|
Two pink shoes peaking onto the edge of a curved metal pipe. Above is the ground: grass, path and pebble stones. Bird's eye view.
I've never told you all why I write this, apart from the mere fact that my second cousin Amy dropped to me in conversation that I should start writing a blog a good 18 months ago now. It's not just Amy's fault I write, although her encouragement to get me started has not gone unnoticed and without her telling me "I'd read it" in response to my "no one will read it", I would have not been challenged and would have not thought that I'd give it a go. I've always found writing an enjoyable task when it is self-directed and chosen. I hated English at school where I was made to be "creative" for this "creative writing" task for my GCSE English... I was always more comfortable with dealing with absolutes and detached things, things not including I or me in the construction just because I've never liked sharing things. It felt too personal. It also felt forced. It felt like I was sharing something too private. It wasn't something I was, or am, passionate about. I really didn't like it. Not helped my the "boring" books we had to read (MacBeth and Pride and Prejudice were never my cup of tea) and analyse to death without any guidance on how to do this in my mind... I even asked my English teacher how one analyses a text at my year eleven parents evening which I remember flummoxing her a bit. I got it in the end... at university three years later just by being given a bit of time and being given a bit more context to what we were studying.
I write because this is therapeutic and it gives me a voice. I seem to be quite good at giving an earful in a written manner. My vocabulary seems much larger when I write to when I speak. I also get time to sit and actually think what I want to do. I don't always need it to be honest - I get an idea and I don't even need to plan. I don't do this freestyle nature during my academic work, don't worry! I'm not sure freestyling would get me far to be honest in there - I'd go off on a horrendous tangent. I write because I can make sense of things by putting them in front of me. I write because not everyone is very good at listening when I try to speak - they place their agenda on my words and can place me in the wrong when that was not my intention. I write because I do not get interrupted. I can just go for it and end the sentence with a full stop when I want to, not when someone else wants to or feels it appropriate. It gives me this technical word called "agency".
I get a sense of freedom when I write too and I have found I can develop my own ideas, my own writing style and my own opinion through writing. Yes we do learn from others, I find great benefit from seminar style learning and listening to others. But I am cautious not to pinch too many of others ideas, but rather find my own and really own them. Something I'll need to do over the next 5 years or so. I can use my rote memory and I can use it very well, but creating and giving nuance to ones own thoughts and trajectory is so much more exciting. I get bored easily. I didn't get on with a 9-5 job, my brain felt it was wasting away. Having this allows my brain to keep going.
This is also a safe space. A space where I can express myself in the words that I need at that time. It allows me to reflect and figure out why I am scared of people, why I get anxious, what stake depression and anxiety have in my life and communicate things I think people ought to know. It's, I hasten to say it, my space. Linking back to being free - it's somewhere that is my playground with words. My gym where I can figure things out but also in a way where it's not just all in my head. I'm not good necessarily at advocating for myself or for explaining why some things I need are necessary. But through writing I can share this. We monopolise verbal communication too much and yes, as much as I love to talk about my research area, autism and other bits and bobs, having the comfort to not always have to talk is nice. Having the confidence to sit in silence and reflect (and not always create noise pollution as I would have said when I was much younger) is a skill that I think we often miss on developing and we don't always see as valued in an extraverted society. It's truly okay to do this.
I'll end on not communication is verbal, well, because it is not. This is not. It's words, but written. My words. We get it hammered into us at university, but it is very important just to consider full stop.