It is fair to say that the last few months have been hard. Nothing particularly traumatic happened but I've been having a tough time. My cousin got married in the autumn - I'm thrilled for her happiness but it exacerbated some family issues. In September I moved from York to Exeter and it's fair to say that it has been hugely disappointing.The course was always going to be torturous as I tread water before being able to begin my PhD research but worse, I was lonely before I arrived and being here has done little to ease that. On top of all that I've been having a crisis of confidence about my academic work. So all around, not the greatest time.
In a session in late November my counsellor suggested that my problem was low self-esteem; that I ceaselessly soak up criticism whilst repelling any positive feedback or compliments. Not only do I hold on to all this negativity but I repress it. On the train home the next day, my mind spent the three hours running through a film reel of all the opportunities, situations and relationships that had collapsed because of my low self-esteem; my conviction that no-one can understand or like me for who I am and that I could never be successful beyond academia. I think that sometimes there's a tendency to perceive low self-esteem as being merely self-pity, a call for attention but I cannot explain how corrosive it has been; it has worked its way into every aspect of my existence and controls my life in ways beyond measure. I've always been shy and quiet but at 24 I struggle to maintain (let alone initiate) conversations with strangers, I share little of myself even with my closest friends and have become an expert at compartmentalising my personality.
My crippling social anxiety doesn't simply follow me around in 'real' life either. I've been a part of internet communities since I was about 13 - I started out at a ER fanboard and then moved through LJ and Tumblr with everyone else - and whilst these communities have always been a part of my life, my active engagement with them has always been a little subdued. I've mostly been a reader, I comment on the odd post and have dabbled in fanfiction and fanart but it has never amounted to much (apparently I have an artistic mind but little talent!). The thing is, that I am constantly blown away by the wit, intelligence and creativity of the people I follow around the web. I want nothing more than to be friends with them and to engage with them casually. But I don't say anything because I am my own worst enemy.
Which brings us to this here blog, a project of sorts. I joined those ER fanboards wayyy back in the day because I had a ton of feelings (largely over Carter and Abby's budding relationship which I will never get over despite the later seasons!) that I wanted share. Over time the feelings haven't gone away, the idea that I have something to say hasn't disappeared but I've become so self-conscious that I barely know how to express them any more. I've come to hate my own voice - I don't trust it not to say anything stupid or ridiculous and I don't trust that people will respond with anything but derision. In a way this blog is my way of trying to force myself to get over that. I'll write about the movies I watch and the books that I read and try to share some of the joy that these things bring me and maybe people will read and respond or maybe they won't but if I post enough maybe I'll at least begin to trust my own mind again. It's a lofty project perhaps and one which I'm sure I'll neglect from time to time but there are worse ways to spend my time than making giddy posts about YA heroines and movie romances.