It’s been a while, friends. Life of late has been saturated and oozing with things like exams and paperwork and scary phone calls (I’m much more articulate in writing. If you’ve both met me and read this blog, this is not a surprise to you) and the wonderful world that is the Christmas season.
You may or may not have noticed, but there’s been quite a lot of silence on the airwaves of Radio Jasmin. Earlier this year I realised that my life online had come to feel more real than my life offline. Naturally, spending most of my days bedridden and lonely played a big part. Having many friends who live across oceans is a factor, too– but how many of us exist online in a bigger way than we do in the real world? The more I thought about it, the more I realised how much of myself existed in cyberspace, and how little I was existing in my body. I think, during the seasons of my sickness, this was a coping mechanism, a way to occupy my mind while my body was in so much pain. The longer I sat with this understanding, the more uncomfortable it became. I have a terrible habit of burying my head in the proverbial sand, but the reality was that I spent so much time talking to my friends in the UK and elsewhere because I hadn’t been able to make that many meaningful connections in Toronto and at Glendon. Or was it that I hadn’t made many meaningful connections because I spent all my energies keeping up with my friends in the UK? Chicken or egg, it came down to this: something had to give.
And so, I deactivated several social media accounts and deleted a few apps from my phone. My ever-serendipitous best pal sent me a message that I took to heart:
Life unplugged has been interesting. I try to only check social media once a day, and instead of scrolling endlessly through one timeline or another to kill time, I sit with my thoughts; I make lists; I people watch. I try to reach out to friends to let them know that I’m thinking of them instead of simply liking their selfies. There’s nothing wrong with showing appreciation for them working their angles: life gets busy and social media often gives us a chance to have low-maintenance interactions with long-distance friends. But when do convenience and complacency intersect? And how can we avoid that? I still have Twitter, so if you have an answer for me, hit me up @JasminElyGL.
In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to:
- Uni. So far, so truly amazing. Last year was such a struggle and I never really felt well enough to enjoy life, let alone enjoy my studies. This year I was determined to get my passion back. Last year, I was registered with the Counselling and Disability Services for my health issues, meaning that I was considered a full-time student with a reduced courseload. It was an option I might have never known was available to me, and as it was explained to me “this is a way to level the playing field. Some students are equally, if not more, capable– but their circumstances are holding them back. And they shouldn’t have to”. It gave me the breathing room I needed at the time, and if you’re having any issues I can’t stress enough how supportive the counselling services were. Go see them (also, there’s often a really good dog in the office). This year, I decided to ease myself in: this semester I took three courses, next semester I’m taking five. After taking Case Studies in Aboriginal Languages, I wanted to write a Maya Chacaby appreciation post, but Juan, Sonia, Sienna, and Macleans Magazine (!) beat me to it. Maybe I will, when the time is right. For now, just know that this course changed my life in small, very powerful ways. It is taught by a remarkable woman. It means more than just a mark on a transcript; it ignites more passion than any other class I’ve ever taken. Being a transfer student from good old Blighty I sadly never really got much further than basic passé composé in school, so I’m doing FSL. Funnily enough, I’m really enjoying it. Maybe it’s my inner languages nerd, but I find it really interesting. I’m also taking a Creative Writing class, and though it isn’t what I was expecting, the prof is a fantastic poet, and we’ve had a couple of very interesting guest speakers. I’ve got a lovely circle of friends and I’m loving getting to know #TeamAwesome (also known as #TeamOctothorpe) better. I promise you, they are all just as wonderful as their blogs portray!
Ultimately, it’s just wonderful to walk into the campus every day and feel like I belong there. People stop in the hallways to say hi en route to class, and I recognise more faces, but the real change is in myself. I walk taller. I take up more space. I claimed Glendon as mine, this semester. I think I’ve finally accepted that I deserve to be here, and now I can enjoy it.
- Health. This semester kicked off with a trip to the emergency room and a 40 degree fever. For those of you who have never had pylonephritis, it’s incredibly painful. Imagine how jarring it was to go from that bone-rattling, soul-wrenching pain, the last two years of chronic pain, to feeling almost normal just a few weeks later: because that’s what happened. I started treatment with an osteopath, and within weeks I started to feel better.Now, my bad days are equivalent to what six months ago would have been a good day. Recovery is slow. It’s nothing like the victorious crossing of a finish line like I always envisioned. It’s more like climbing a mountain barefoot and bloody. It comes with grief– something I didn’t expect or know how to deal with. I effectively lost two years of my life. I had to sacrifice my independence, many of my friendships changed or ended, and I had to adjust my expectations of myself. Things could always be worse, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that it was horrible and I never want to go through it again. I’m so grateful that things are improving– it’s just that now that I’m higher up the mountain, I can see all the way down. For the first time, with the summit in sight, I realise how hard the climb has been.
- Love. This month marks three years of Mel.
I don’t wish to bore you with the sappy romantic details, but it’s important to cherish the people who uphold you. Basically, this man is A Good Egg. I like him lots.
He is a dazzlingly intelligent person who challenges me to think bigger, a person who inspires me to be kinder and more giving. He is painstakingly respectful, and honours his family above all- as do I. This semester has been so hectic that often it’s felt like it’s impossible to get everything done AND have a boyfriend, and yet his general attitude has been “School comes first. Get your work done and I’ll give you a prize. I’ll see you when you’re done”. Three cheers for Mel.
- Life. Life is pretty great, overall. I’m quite liking the real world. I’ve made some wonderful connections with some very important people, lately. Someone recently told me that they had a really good day because I was in it, which tells me that I’m being the person I’d like to be. I’m very aware of how happy I am to be living in Toronto: for the first time I’m content with how my present is that I’m no longer stuck in the past or waiting around for a far-off future. 2015 started out like a nightmare and it’s finishing up like a dream. To those of you who helped it turn around, I owe my life to you in a small, but very important way.
I don’t think I’ll ever vanish from social media completely. It’s such an important and powerful tool, and used sensibly can magnify the beauty of life. But for now, I’m happy living with one foot in and one foot out.
And now to celebrate FINALLY getting a post done!