a young white girl, who has seen little and knows little
I feel young, because at the age of twenty-one I should surely feel young. If fate decides to deal me a bountiful hand I should expect to see many long years stretching out before me. I am still studying, learning, discovering, and dealing it seems for the first time with the struggle of real adulthood, but I hardly see myself as an adult.
I hardly see myself as an adult because I failed a tenancy background check. I am not deemed by lenders as stable enough to support myself and successfully pay my rent each month. Maybe I am not, but I believe this is the first time I have truly failed something, and it was one of the first adult milestones. I have been fortunate so far in sort of ‘young adult’ milestones- the part time jobs that I kinda wanted but didn’t really need I got, I passed by some miracle my driving test first time and although it was an uphill struggle I managed to get onto the postgraduate course I wanted. Yet, this tenancy check was something I desperately needed and if I wasn’t moving in with Ben who is apparently more secure than me then it would be a flat out no. I dislike this notion of relying on Ben. Yet, there’s is nothing I can do about it.
(Although this may seem like a dig at Ben, which it kinda is, if you know the both of us personally I would like to think that I would seem the more secure of the two of us…)
I decided after completing my degree that my parents would no longer support me, so that my decision to undertake a fourth year was firmly on my own shoulders and I would not allow my parents- who have done so much for me- to bail me out. Which is why when I’m toiling back home on my £20 bike from work on a Saturday night and I see the freshers on their way out I feel old. My hard earned money is better spent on wifi (chiefly so I can write this blog) and bicycle helmets. I want to spend my money on homeware, and slippers and books about philosophy and not on £5 club entry and fried chicken when I come home drunk late at night. And although I sound old and boring to some, I do sometimes enjoy those wild nights, but the nights where I sit on the sofa and reflect and muse and drink soda water outnumber the former. So you see I feel terribly young, and old at the same time.
This is only made worse by being back at Northern for the fourth year. I am surrounded by so many young energised faces running head first into their degree whilst I feel I am only just crawling out, only to stumble down further into another year of mounting interest accruing debt. When teaching the first years on Tuesday mornings I try to offer them my search for realism and truth in movement, but I feel like it falls flat. As I expect a concept like this would have to me three years ago. I see them staring at me with dewy eyes, trying desperately to unravel this idea to their own understanding, but they struggle to get there. They don’t have the embodiment, the growth, dare I say it the physical wisdom to understand this questioning. So I feel old, because I see how far I have come in three years.
Yet I am still wrestling with the concept of realism myself.
I feel old in the ways that I like to occupy my time and when I compare myself to those younger than me, which is of course to be expected. When I think outside of these constraints, however, I feel young for there is still so much to discover. Everyday I read about someone’s decision to travel the world indefinitely, or hear of someone I know getting engaged, getting a mortgage and adopting a dog. For someone who’s top left wisdom tooth has only just decided to rear its head above the gum I feel like I am floundering in a sea of endless knowledge and experience and I feel very stupid. Stupid and naive, for I have followed a very linear path thus far and no nothing of spontaneity, grievous upset nor of teetering on the edge of self sufficiency.
So you see how I identify myself is entirely conflicted.
I write this blog post in response to a beautiful project I was involved in recently- Paperwork. Please, please, please click on the link and read about the project, I.D.entity created by the wonderful Kerri Butterworth and Rosemary Spencer, which questions how we identify ourselves and whether this matters. In the project I was moving in a beautiful installation made of origami boxes and questioning my own approach to and understanding of identity. For someone who has never thought about my identity prior to the project, it was wonderful to fully enter into my own questioning and to get lost in this world of paper boxes.
Despite still being unsure of how I identify myself, and fully believing that it is a fluid concept that is constantly in a state of flux, I feel like for me personally identity does not matter so much. Surely the fact that in twenty-one years I have never questioned my own identity means that for me it carries little influence. Or, perhaps I am comfortable with my self image and the way I project it onto others. I am not sure, but I am thankful to Ro and Kerri for offering me this opportunity to explore this idea and to reflect through movement, text and words and to share this with others.