Five years ago today I finished at uni and moved out of the halls of residence in Stoke on Trent which had been my home for four years and moved back to Oxfordshire. I cried my eyes out and it was really hard.
Five years. Meaning I've now been back here longer than I was there. That feels pretty unbelievable.
In a lot of ways I feel like I've not achieved much in those five years. But then when I actually stop and look beyond the surface level I know that I left university a completely different person to the shy girl who went there and today I am another different girl again to the one who left five years ago.
Fatter, yes. But also more grown up, more confident, a lot more independant. And a hell of a lot more mouthy in my quest to stand up for myself and be a true disability advocate.
Some of those things are good things. Some can only be described as bad. One or two depend on who your asking for if they are good or bad. I know most of the time I think my mouthy side is a good thing but equally most of the time my parents don't like the way I go about it. Occasionally I manage to say things and then stop and go "oh god that wasn't a great idea. That was much bitchier than I meant I'm sorry." Usually pretty much immediately if I'm going to do it but not always.
In a lot of ways I haven't done the typical just left university things I anticipated doing like some high powered full time job, or finding my lifes partner, or being a really important business woman whose using her degree. And I'm not using my degree. But I'm independant and I'm loving what I do at CAB and the writing I'm doing. I've got new friends and new hobbies and interests, some of which I would never have expected to be as big in my life as they are.
And I've learned a lot about helping people and advocacy. Five years ago I don't think I knew that the word advocacy would be one I could apply to disability rights and my fight but it's always been my dream and it is something that however small I'm achieving. And writing has always been my other dream. I'm not actively getting out there and giving my all in pursuing it but I'm chipping away at it and enjoying it.
I know that what I've been doing has had an impact on others and in some small ways has made more of a difference to people than I perhaps realise. And antidepressants are still part of my life but... I'm happy.
There are parts of my life that if I'd have been told five years ago would be here today (the medication and still on benefits) I probably would have been disappointed. But having lived the past five years and looking at everything together... it's been a great few years and again, I'm happy.
My sister got her degree results yesterday. She got a 2.1. I'm really proud of her and can't wait to see photos of her graduation. And I'm wondering where her first few years away from uni will take her and if she'll be as content as I am. Congratulations honey I love you!