level up

Today, I handed in my Creative Writing dissertation – the last university assignment I will ever have to do (unless, of course, I fail and have to do a second attempt, but I’m pretty sure I’m in the clear on that one). It still hasn’t really sunk in yet that this is it. One of the perks of my course is that we don’t have any exams, so now it’s just the long stretch before my graduation in July, and then it’s all finished. To dust off a tired cliché, this chapter will end and a new one will start.

Also, apparently I started this blog a year ago today and have posted on it probably less than ten times since. Sweet! (Edit: as I posted this, no joke, I got the ‘congrats on your tenth post’ notification.)

Anyway, I wanted to spend some time just … reflecting on what has changed, I suppose. (Especially after that fucking bummer of a last post.) So below the cut is a short list of the things that have changed since three years ago – though it still feels like a week ago – when 19-year-old me set down his bags on his first day in James Watson Halls, took a deep breath, and braced himself for his first real taste of independent living (and, of course, the beginning of his Creative Writing and Film Studies course).

  1. Let’s hop in at the deep end: my gender identity and expression. This one didn’t surprise a lot of people, honestly. I came to university already with an inkling that my gender was not the one I was assigned at birth, but with no real idea what to do with that information. It wasn’t until the end of my first year that I started asking to be referred to as Brendon by close friends; now, I have more friends here that met me as Brendon than ones who didn’t. There is still the issue of coming out to my family (still working up the courage on that one) before I take the plunge into physically transitioning, but knowing for certain that I have a circle of friends who love and support me as my true self is so fucking amazing.
    • I also finally let myself acknowledge that, hey, I’m definitely pansexual. That might sound weird and like not a big deal, especially since I was already out as gay – but it was so freeing to accept that about myself.
  2. I got into my first relationship ever that isn’t long distance for the majority of it. When I started uni, I had a girlfriend who lived in California, and the distance put a huge strain on my emotional/mental health. I don’t think that relationship was ever destined to last, but coming to uni was my first real taste of the fact that I really, really need someone who is physically there that I can talk to face-to-face and get real, physical affection from. That, and he’s a treasure who makes me feel so, so loved. I don’t know how I would’ve got through the last two years (especially the last year) without him.
  3. I can cook now! Holy shit! I’ve always really liked cooking and stuff but I usually didn’t have a) the confidence, b) the money, or c) the energy, what with being all depressed ‘n stuff. Since moving in with Umby and learning how to manage my funds a little better, I’ve been trying to learn a bunch of recipes and stuff so I can cook home-made food more often. It’s super rewarding and, for me, a great stress reliever.
  4. This is something I’ve heard a lot from other people my age/in my situation but I’m gonna say it as well: I really, really prefer my family when I’m living a comfortable distance away from them. Living alone (well, living with my other half) really suits me.
  5. I started volunteering as a news writer for Casual Critic, a film news/reviews website built by some friends of mine, and it’s made me sit down and write something – even if it’s just a news article – twice a week since October. Thanks to that, they’ve set me up with an invitation to the fuckin’ London premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. That’s pretty rad.
  6. I feel like I’ve really mellowed out as a person. I had a pretty sheltered upbringing in the arse-end of nowhere with one very conservative parent and one mostly conservative parent, so uni was a little bit of a culture shock to begin with and it made me pretty prone to lashing out/getting hyper-defensive. Now, I feel like I’ve learned enough to have chilled out considerably, especially on stuff that really doesn’t affect me. I’m more willing to push past my comfort zone and try things I normally wouldn’t (a lot of that is also down to Umby, in fairness), and while I’m still getting used to that, the fact that I’ve started to reach out beyond my comfort zone at all is pretty awesome.

So there’s that.

Gonna get sentimental for a moment, too: these past three years have been genuinely incredible. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but I’ve learned and grown so much, I’ve met the love of my life, I’ve made some amazing friends – and I actually made it to the end of university without bailing out, and with good results so far. That’s wild! That’s so wild.

It’s a little weird just how peaceful I feel right now. I think it’s partly just relief that everything is done, and also it’s probably a good deal ‘calm-before-the-storm’ before I have to go job-hunting soon. The next few weeks are going to be pretty crazy – I’m going to that premiere on Monday, then to Portugal in May, then to London Comic Con (so if I make it out with any money left, I’ll be amazed). I’m going to enjoy this tranquil feeling while it lasts for now, and hopefully I’ll be able to meet whatever the world throws at me next with everything I’ve gained so far.

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