on outgrowing spaces + resettling

I recently caught up with three of my closest friends from University and I realised we were all back at home. In Italy, Brunei, Manchester and London respectively. Our graduate selves at home – so different to our fresher selves. We grinned from ear to ear. Complained about the lack of physical and metaphorical doors at home, and how we are indulging in the comfort of our parent’s food, the ease of having meals made for you, all with the quiet understanding that we had all done this on our own before, and with each other.

This blog has been with me through so much over the years, I loved coming here to write and being a part of a community that truly embodies educational accessibility with Instagram reading lists and lengthy DMs over a quote. Writing helped me navigate so much, and even when I didn’t publish, there was so much relief and clarity gained from writing with this blog in mind. Recently, life has felt busy and overwhelming, I’ve felt pulled in many different directions and a little lost here on the blog. I’ve often felt unqualified to write something or to express an opinion, this idea that I needed to accomplish x or wait y years before writing this thing. Especially as there are a plethora of opinions and critique, an echo chamber of sorts it seems, I worry about adding to that.

It has now been 9 months since I completed university and 7 months since I started full time work. Precisely at that moment in between transitioning from being a finalist to a graduate, life seemed to take this sudden turn, for us all due to the pandemic, and then this second unexpected turn for us 2020 graduates. I was interviewed for a dissertation a couple of weeks ago about trajectories to adulthood and the defining moments in which we feel like ‘adults’.

For me, graduation coincided with a new and the first grad-job and other milestones like, buying my first car, having my first article published, finally enrolling in an Arabic class, lazy weekends drinking coffee slowly, opening an Etsy shop, reading solely for pleasure…weekends without incessant studying, going to the hairdressers for the *first* time.

Amidst these changes and transitions, it felt like I had regressed, chosen places of comfort and safety, from moving back home (sooner than planned), working ten minutes from home in the sixth form I studied at from 16-18, to attending classes and networking events from home.

I guess I began to feel worried I was indulging, in too much comfort, no longer working at max capacity all the time. I worried about a lack of growth in the familiar, old and nostalgic places because I had become accustomed to and excited by change. The things that had grounded me in the past, the things I reached to for comfort have changed… from my friendships and confidantes to a kitchen drawer being switched around.

I think the idea that ‘you outgrow the spaces you had previously occupied’ is what I thought was happening. Then I began asking myself, how do I reintroduce myself? How do we exist in the seemingly same spaces as our improved, growing, developing selves? How we fit back into those spaces / how do we resettle in the same places as different people? How do we readjust the goalposts and ambitions?

In that FaceTime call, my friends insisted on reading my dissertation later, months later, when so much had changed and progressed past uni for us. They saw me, still, for the ambitious, excited and panicked at the same time by the words I need to write and have written and all the lightbulb moments. It is somewhat disorienting to be back at home, to feel like I am not doing enough, reaching high enough, surrounded by comfort and in safety with this energy around me from women I admire deeply. To be seen for all the things you struggle to see in yourself.

Months on, I no longer think these places are the same. It is a seeming familiarity. I had outgrown the former positions I had in these spaces but I continue to exist in them, thrive in them even (God willing). There is this oscillation as we return to places that ground us, accept us and allow us to flow despite how different we feel. They are anchors of sorts. And even within the familiarity and comfort I am learning so much and the challenges presented have changed. Most of all though, I am learning to be more present and to trust myself, to challenge my thinking and reframe my questions. I am no longer questioning my presence, I am finding ways to exist amidst those questions.

Some wise words that have helped me navigate these feelings recently were: ‘start planning your next dream’ and so I am planting the seeds and acting on some whims and glimpses of a life I could have, having to pinch myself at moments. I am realising I want it all.

How about you? I hope you are coping and dreaming still? What are you reading and/or listening to?

Lots of love and prayers,

Maj

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