Being Rootless

For those who know me in real life, it’s no secret I am by no means a fan of my hometown. I frequently go so far as to say I hate living there, and have been known to dub it ‘the most boring urban area in the world’ – which, in my defense, it really could be. With a population in the tens of thousands, new housing estates in the works, and being nigh on a century old, you could expect this town to have some degree of liveliness and activity.

You’d be sorely mistaken.

For most activities, you have to leave the town entirely and go somewhere else: bowling, clubbing (not that I do that anyway), even shopping – the town centre largely consists of numerous opticians, cafés and charity shops which cater to the large number of the elderly who take slow ganders there during the week. Despite the promise of brands like New Look and Top Shop and their ilk, the shops are so tiny that they’re not worth going in. Believe it or not, the largest demographic is actually young adults – not that you’d know it, because we’re all so busy avoiding the relatively pointless town centre that you never see us. Particularly because the general attitude towards those aged 13-23 is that they’re unwelcome.

So for me, coming to university, where I live in a lively student city centre, this was like discovering life itself. People exist outside after 7pm??? I can walk to a theatre from my house??? Employment opportunities?!?!

But the thrills of living in somewhere where the average walking speed is not that of a zombie, and where you can expect to see people actually smile while out and about, are not the point of this blog post.

You see, when you combine the facts that I have no desire to return to living full time in my hometown (if I can even call it ‘home’town), that I have very little in the way of friends there, the fact my parents are planning to move elsewhere in the next few years, the fact I have never planned to permanently remain in Liverpool after graduation, and the fact I have absolutely no significant other to consider – it basically leaves me rootless. As me and my dad maintain, if we were told we had to leave my hometown tomorrow and could never return, we’d be A-OK with that.

At this point in my life, I have no particular attachment to any people, place or position. And that is simultaneously daunting, liberating, confusing, exciting, and more.

Daunting, because it means that a lot of major decisions are on the horizon for me.

Liberating, because those decisions are really entirely mine to make, without considering somebody else.

Confusing, because I see other people who have, perhaps, found ‘the place’ for them already – be it their hometown or wherever it is they’ve moved to for university, and occasionally I wonder if I should have too.

And finally, exciting because for the first time in my life, I don’t have an actual plan. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to attend university. I knew from an even younger age that I wanted to write for a living. So, up until this point, I’ve always known where I was headed. Primary school to secondary school. Secondary school to sixth form. Sixth form to university. University and then…

And then what?

I’ve touched upon this before in other posts, but mostly from a place of confusion and, to an extent, apprehension. There is a lot of pressure on those graduating from university to head straight into a chosen career path. It’s the expected thing to do. But the ‘how’ is often far more tricky for those of us not entering a profession on the more science-y, engineering-y, business-y end of the scale.

The thing is, there are a lot of things I could do, and there are a lot of things I want to do. Some of these overlap, others are things I may not necessarily have planned upon but would be open to, and others are things I am desperate to avoid – though life might lead me to them anyway.

What prompted this blog post in particular was a conversation with a friend from home, who, coincidentally, does not live there anymore. Admittedly, her new place is only a 15 minute drive away, but she admitted how much better she feels for actually having left. She was considering how long she might stay in her current place of work, at a recruitment business in London – perhaps another five years. For her, that may be absolutely fine, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting the security of knowing where you’ll be working in five years’ time.

But for me? Honestly, the idea of being in the same place with the same commute, doing the same thing with the same people for five years or more makes me shrivel up a little inside. I rely on change – it’s what I need to keep me sane. It’s always been that way. It’s why university life suits me so well; I choose what to study, and that changes every three months. I choose where to study each day, I choose when to study each day, and if I want my weekend to be the second half of Thursday and all of Friday and my working week to start on Saturday, I can do that. That’s what I did the entirety of second year.

All cards on the table, I would love to move to New York City and live and work there for a year. On a broader scale, I want to write novels and screenplays and work on film sets. I want my life to consist of projects and change and different opportunities, and I want to build a career. As for where I want to live on a more permanent basis, I can honestly tell you I don’t know. I’m completely open to relocation. Elsewhere in the UK, or even to somewhere abroad. I think that’s only natural for somebody who has had the fortune to see a variety of other countries, as I have growing up, and who feels no attachment to the place they call ‘home’. I don’t see myself settling anywhere any time soon.

Maybe that will change – maybe I’ll actually meet somebody and find myself adjusting my plans in order to consider theirs. Maybe I’ll find a position and think yes, this is where I need to be for now. But the fact is, that’s not where I’m at.

It is definitely something that’s on my mind more and more these days, as my degree comes to a close, but I think, even at this stage, it’s okay to not have it all figured out. The hows or the wheres or the whens. And after this past summer, during which I learned a lot and found a lot of great resources, I see more and more opportunities come up that – while not suitable for me right this minute – would be great when the time comes.

I suppose this post doesn’t really have a conclusion. It’s just something I wanted to put into words somehow – the idea of feeling and, I guess, being rootless, and being okay with it. It definitely isn’t something that suits everybody, and that’s fine too – but I’m really not looking for somewhere to settle.

So here’s to all us twenty-somethings, who may know what we want or may not, who may be looking to settle somewhere or may not, and who basically have a lot of decisions to make.

Do you have any particular plans? Are you as rootless as I feel? Let me know.

I Moved House – Third Time in Three Years!

Ah, the university life…

I’m very well aware, as you may be, that many people, when going to university, live in halls for first year and then find some housemates and live in a house/flat/whatever for the successive two years, or however long they may be there for. Well… not me!

I lived in private halls in first year because I didn’t get offered the university-owned accommodation I wanted, and the one they did offer me was far too high a price. Instead, I was in a five-person self-catered ensuite flat, with four people I’d never met before. The staff had managed to group the five of us together as all first years at the same university (they served 3 in the area). It was an interesting year, involving far too much cigarette smoke coming into my bedroom, a melted fork in the oven, and maggots in the flat.

In second year, I chose to live with four other girls, three of whom were also doing history, the fourth doing English. It was actually quite funny as I was the only monolingual of the group – the other languages spoken were Welsh, Punjabi, Greek, and Portuguese. This was a slightly turbulent living situation – two of us preferred to be far tidier than the others, and one housemate actually moved out shortly after Christmas. But, aside from the hiccups, it was a nice house, recently refurbished, with two bathrooms and it was close to the university – though on the other side of campus to my first year, not that this made all that much difference.

So what happened this year? Well, almost from the beginning, one of my second year housemates said they were planning to live with other people in her third year. Then another wanted to live in a different area to where we were – further from the university, where we didn’t want to move to. So we were down to three, until the whole oh-wait-she’s-moved-out thing. This left two of us trying to find an affordable two-bed student rental house, preferably close to university, after Christmas – by which time most of the properties have been taken up. (Top tip: when looking for second and third year accommodation, figure out what you want as fast as you can in October and GET LOOKING!)

If we’d known it would have been just the two of us early on, we probably could have grabbed a lovely, fairly cheap place. As it is, we have a pretty small, slightly shabby house – but it’s actually a tad closer to university than last year, and the bills are included in the rent which is slightly cheaper than it was last year (though my third year loan is smaller too, thanks government).

Moving in at the beginning of this month was a bit of a nightmare, largely because the property wasn’t actually clean. Not too big an ask of somewhere you’re paying a large amount of rent to, right? For it to be clean when you move in? Well, apparently, yes it is. Spiders – both dead and alive – were everywhere. Cobwebs everywhere, too. Sticky floor. The whole shebang. It’s taken a good while to settle in here. Then there was a bit of an issue where I didn’t know where what felt like half my belongings were – at this point my things were spread between two houses in Liverpool, one in Telford, and one at home in Hertfordshire! Thus, it took a bit of time to pool everything together.

See, I actually don’t mind moving – I’d go so far as to say I quite like it. The variety suits me well, and I know it can be a hassle (thanks mum & dad), but all the same… it keeps things changing. I realise many people dislike change as a whole, but particularly when it comes to the changing of home comforts – I can’t say that’s something I find too challenging, but I understand why others do.

So yes, I’m in this place for a little under a year – I don’t plan on going home for all that long over Christmas and Easter this year, probably under a month in total, so I’ll probably be here until the end of the tenancy at the end of June 2019. Then, of course, I’ll be graduating from university and moving back home… which I’m just thrilled about, by the way (sense the sarcasm – next weekend’s post will address this a bit further). In consequence, this is probably the last time I’ll move house (aside from moving out) for a while, which makes me a little wistful, to be honest. But I suppose if I don’t have to spend months searching for where to live for the following year, I might have to put that time into pursuing other, possibly more productive, pursuits… we’ll see.

One thing I’m infinitely glad about, though? After this year, I’ll never have to deal with student landlords again! If you’ve experienced it, you know. If not… be glad.

Have you got any moving-house stories? Let me know!

10 Unusual Things About Me Tag!

Recently, the ever-friendly Ross from manvsadulthood.com tagged me to complete the 10 unusual things about me tag – so here we go! Let’s launch right in…

  1. I have had plastic surgery, but you’d never know it from looking at me. It was emergency plastic surgery when I was ten, because I flew spectacularly off my bike on my mother’s birthday, and landed chin first at the bottom of a hill (sort of blacked out for a moment). Let’s just say: visible jaw bone, lots of blood, hospital transfer, surgery.
  2. My stomach may or may not be in the wrong place. I’ve always struggled with acid reflux, and this could be the reason. There’s no point finding out whether it is or not as long as I can manage the condition through my diet and lifestyle! I’d definitely rather put off the camera-down-your-throat thing for as long as possible.
  3. My name and birthday basically define my personality. I say this because I have a very literature-infused name, and was purposely named after 2 Jane Austen characters (my surname was a coincidental 3rd Jane Austen character drop). Then I managed to arrive in the world on the anniversary of the end of WW1, and now I’m at university studying English literature & history – two subjects I very much enjoy.
  4. I hate my birthday. Yes, I am one of those. My birthday, in my opinion, is rubbish. It’s mostly to do with the time of year, rather than the actual fact of  getting older – mid-November is a miserable time, it rains every single year (I dislike rainy weather), I spent my 16th birthday in silence all day because I had mock exams that week, I have never been able to go on holiday over my birthday… I could go on.
  5. I would like to believe in ghosts, but I’m not sure I do. My family has a joke about our friendly house ghost, who seems to have followed my parents from their first flat together to their first house together to the house where I grew up. From hiding a packet mix to dropping a shoe in the hallway to tapping us on the shoulder when we’re the only one in the room, there’s been a fair few inexplicable ghostly moments over the years. We like to joke about it because it’s never anything horrible, so it’s like we have our own version of Casper the Friendly Ghost who just likes to remind us of his presence every now and again. Having said that, I don’t know if I actually believe in ghosts in any other circumstance.
  6. I’ve never had a pet, but I am friends with a stray cat. At home (i.e., not where I live at university), there’s a very muscly stray black cat. Over the past five or so years she’s become a regular visitor to our house – she didn’t understand the idea of being stroked at first, so she’s always liked to jump and headbutt us instead.
  7. I get hayfever – but not consistently. I can spend 6 months of the year needing hayfever tablets, or I can spend the entire summer absolutely fine with no symptoms at all. It makes no sense.
  8. As a baby, I never crawled. I was a bit of a late walker, but I basically went from hardly moving on my own to just getting up one day and walking off. NBD.
  9. I looked younger age 19 than age 12. I blame a really bad haircut & acne for this.
  10. I have a minor weird fear of things that are a lot bigger than me. Really tall buildings, whales, that sort of thing… Just makes me a bit uncomfortable really.

Well, thinking of ten was remarkably more difficult than I anticipated it would be – but thanks to Ross for the tag! Here are my tags: Nele, Katie, Dani, Luke, Jess, Ellie, Claire, Sophie, Amy, and Morgan. Enjoy the challenge!