Sunday, 5 June 2016

Ten years of running away

It's not to the day yet, but I figured I could be a little bit early. This month I celebrate 10 years of running away, or rather getting away. June 2006 was a big month for me. It was graduation time from Secondary. I was moving on to college in a new city where I knew no one, and after that university in yet another city. 

I grew up in a place that I hated. A small village (but the biggest place in the municipality) of less than 10,000 people. A thoroughly white place, where the most exciting far-away immigrants came from Poland. Thoroughly Swedish and thoroughly mainstream. If you didn't fit in the mainstream you got cut out, and I didn't fit. I had already been bullied for 6 years when I, at 13, decided to pick up studs, leather, black clothes, black make-up, purple hair, and hard rock/heavy metal. This didn't help my situation, because that made me even more of a freak. At 14 I hit rock bottom and while I was too afraid to die (I had contemplated that since I was 10), I made one single decision to cut. But the knife I found was too blunt to cut through my skin - and that was the only time I tried. After that I decided to suck it up. I moved through school like a ghost and when I came home I retreated into my favourite fantasy worlds at the time (Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Belgariad). I didn't live. I existed. I wasn't happy. I was apathic. I could spend hours just lying in bed staring up at the ceiling doing nothing. When graduation day came I didn't cry. I smiled like a fool. I couldn't stop smiling, and my only thought was "I'm free". That was June 2006. 
In August I started college, in the nearby city. I still lived in the small village, but I could spend most of my days away from there, which suited me perfectly. I had promised myself that starting college would be a new beginning for me, and true to my word I told my new mentor my entire story at our first meeting. I had never told my story to anyone. Not even my parents. I still don't think they knew how bad it was. I think they noticed I wasn't exactly happy, but I don't think they knew to what extent. I quickly got friends in my new class, and after being used to cliques and an outcast that didn't exactly fit in any clique, my new class was refreshing and absolutely amazing. Although we all had our preferred groups of friends, we could all talk and all hang-out together, all 32 of us. There was drama, of course, but generally it was amazing. Those 32 people made it fun to come to school and this time I cried on graduation. In 2009 I graduated college with 21,23 total points out of 22,5. I got a stipend as Language Student of the Year, by getting top grades in all my four languages through all three years. I still had my bouts with apathy and general sadness, but overall I was happier in 2009 than in 2006. I still lived in the village, though. 

In September 2009 I started studying Japanese at the university. That class soon became my favourite ever. Studying Japanese in 2009 (when the interest in Japanese pop culture in Sweden still was peaking) meant that the whole class was packed with nerds and weeaboos. It was perfect. In January 2010 I enrolled in the next course of Japanese, but instead of studying (participation isn't necessary if you pass your exams) I went to Tokyo for an almost four month long language course, and it was the best time of my life. I then returned to Sweden, passed my exam in the Japanese course and then decided that it was time to get serious in life. Biggest mistake ever. I started studying at the Economics program, which would eventually lead to a Masters degree, serious life stuff. I quit after two months. After two months of stressful reading, and lots of math that I couldn't understand I came to a crossroads - quit or break down. I quit. Along with the math and the economic formulas I also didn't fit in among the proper people studying Economics, which helped destroy my motivation and contributed to me crying every night because I couldn't get the contents of the literature inside my head quickly enough. I then went on to study French, and while I like the language I hate the culture, and while my Japanese class had consisted of mostly nerds my French class was all proper like the Economics program. So I didn't fit. I hated not fitting in

During my first term of French I moved out from my parents and that's when I finally left the village. I still had to come back to visit my parents of course, and while I didn't mind visiting them I hated being back in the village. I was still afraid that I'd see my past tormentors and they'd throw some slur at me like 5 years hadn't passed since we graduated Secondary. I had no hope that they had grown up during those 5 years. I still expected the same idiotic teenagers. 
I studied three terms of French, and then went back to Japanese. The ones I had started with back in 2009 were now my senpai. But it felt wonderful being back among the nerds. I felt like I belonged again. Nerdville. That's me. I graduated from university in late May 2013. In September the same year I moved north. 372 miles (600 km) north to where I live now. And now I'm starting to reconcile my past. I still visit my parents, of course, but I don't hate the village anymore. I've started seeing past the bad memories and the pain is fading. Without the pain hovering over me, I'm starting to see all the good memories, and without the pain there I realise that there was a lot of good times too. Now I visit my old village with a sort of bittersweet nostalgic feeling, and I've regained enough confidence and self-respect to not fear my old tormentors anymore. Heck, I wouldn't even care if my old fear came true and one of them threw slurs at me again. I'm over it. Life got better. Life got great. 

From a 15 year old girl who was convinced no one would even look twice at her, to a 25 year old in a 4 year relationship with a wonderful guy. From a 15 year old who never thought she'd get away to a 25 year old living 372 miles away and doing a job she really likes. Life got great and my past can suck it. To anyone reading this who's currently living in a situation similar to mine 12 years ago; life does get better. Truly. Make sure you're here to see it.

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