Things are very different this Fall. I have started a new degree in Psychology and Sexuality Studies and I have decided not to work, most of my income coming from governments funds and loans that I am now eligible for being a Canadian permanent resident.
I feel very empowered by the opportunity of being able to dedicate myself to studies and by allowing myself to be flexible enough to accept that my film degree was a big mistake and that I feel that more than expressing myself through art, I need to define first what it is that I am trying to express. It is also to be noted that filmmaking in the way I was taught here at York University was hardly art, and more of a competitive strive towards having the best portfolio to enter the film community upon completion of the degree, something I am not interested in.
I will be 25 in November and sometimes I wonder whether the choices I have made thus far in my life are the best way I could have taken advantage of the privilege of being alive. At the same time, I am trying to reach a less judgemental and prescriptive attitude and let my decision being guided by a mix of instinct and focus on enjoying the present moment, something I have always had problems doing.
I will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship in a little more than one year, so it makes sense I spend the next year here and that I stop making any plans but instead focus on getting more grounded with myself and my own existence, no matter what my environment is, the only environment I will ever be surrounded with is the one that is currently present, I cannot live in the future or past.
Sometimes I wonder whether I am too old to be starting another degree, and if I am simply lacking direction, but I am also conscious that I should allow myself exploration and now that I enjoy a lot of privileges of being part of a first world country, allow myself to make mistakes.
So far I have been thoroughly enjoying my classes, even though I have to admit that it is harder to tame my perfectionism now that I am studying something I feel strongly passionate about. Before it was easy to dismiss faults and shortcomings in my films, I did not give a shit about them, but this time around I feel personally invested in what I am doing, every class having a major impact on me.
I've just come out from my Group Dynamics lecture, in which we are weekly engaging in group activities to better understand the course material by basically observing our own dynamics when within a group. I am in awe of the self-discovery process that observing myself within a group offers. I think I have always been of the opinion that one's identity and self can only be identified in relation to others, but never did this concept become so clear in my direct experience.
I have realized that I am extremely socially anxious even though I usually consider myself pretty confident and not having problems with public speaking. I think that my reaction to group situations has obscured me from understanding how I really work within them. Instead of assuming an avoidant behaviour and retreating away from groups or staying passive and in silence, my preoccupation with the potential of harm a group can inflict upon me takes shape in an extreme level of control that I seem to be exerting and often disregard for other people's contribution. The fear of being walked upon and taken advantage of is so overwhelming that I turn into an extremely defensive controller, which of course does not create liking from other group members.
How I have usually been able to cope with this patter, is by preferring interaction in dyads and establishing a strong emotional connection with the other person, thus minimizing potential for competitive behaviours in the group, and by consequence reducing the opportunities for being deemed inadequate, which is how I usually feel about myself.
All of this seems to have been present for most of my life, and simple aspects of my approach to groups have prevented me from having many meaningful friendships, especially in a group setting, and have contributed to my feelings of isolation and loneliness, which in turn fed my defensiveness and guardedness towards new people.
Now, out of the class, I found an isolated corner of the campus, and I writing this on my new laptop (which is helping me immensely in my studies (another privilege from becoming increasingly a first world citizen), enjoying the last few days of sun before the first frost which will not be long from now, and will mark the beginning of the Canadian 6 months long winter.
I did not know that I was this impacted by social anxiety. This is an eye opening experience. I like learning about the world by means of having a deeper understanding of myself. I really like this degree, even though it is not always pleasant.