Two and a half years ago, I started writing this blog, mainly because I’m an attention seeker but also as a sort of mass media group therapy for the fact that I wasn’t overly happy about, well, anything. I think people enjoyed those early posts (what I refer to as my ‘Bitter Privileged Whinging’ period) because, despite the glibness and all the selfies, there was a strain of genuine unhappiness, which most people who’ve been engaged in life on this shitty planet can associate with.
I took the X90 out of Oxford today. Cruising down the High Street, over Magdalen Bridge, into the great wilderness beyond. I felt bus sick pretty much straight away, otherwise it might’ve been quite an emotional journey. Leaving three years behind; moving on to…something.
Because of a genetic predisposition towards suspicion and anxiety, I fully expected to not enjoy Oxford. I expected the work to be hard; I expected the people to be nerds and/or Etonians; I expected ‘university life’ to be just as amorphous and indefinable as it had been all my life. When my Dad would self-indulgently tell me that university would be ‘the best years’ of my life, I’d shrug and privately disagree.
And, for a few months, Oxford lived up to my expectations. I hadn’t set pen to paper on an essay in something like 18 months before arriving. I was rusty, I was bored, I was underprepared. And, for the first time in my (so far) short life, I felt old; everyone was fresh-faced with enthusiasm for this new challenge, whilst I felt like, somehow, I’d been through it all before. I did badly, I enjoyed nothing, and I started to write a masturbatory blog.
Of course, my close readers will have noticed a gradual shift in tone over the years. I neither meant for it to happen, nor wanted it to – I know that I’m at my most lucid when I’m complaining. But, slowly but surely, I ran out of shit to complain about. Yeah, some books are still boring (and always will be) but anything more substantial than yawning at Paradise Lost was all but gone. University rapidly became the best years of my life.
And now…done, dusted.
The X90 out of Oxford was a low-key departure, with none of the fanfare that the occasion deserved. Normally, my go-to Oscar acceptance speech to cite is Sally Field’s 1985 Best Actress win for Places In The Heart, but today I feel compelled to look towards Cuba Gooding Jr’s 1997 win for Jerry Maguire.
'My Nexus account, I love you! Room 16.1, I love you! Mark Atherton's boring-as-fuck guide to Anglo-Saxon, I love you! My bench in the botanic gardens, I love you! Tom Cruise, I love you brother! All the coffees in all the coffee shops, I love you! Dismal picnics in Uni Parks, I love you! Oxford SSL, I love you! My outstanding library fines, I love you!'
It’s all over and I’m more than a little bit nervous about the future. But even though looking ahead to the next few months (or next few years…) causes me the same stormy gloom that clouded my pre-university impressions, I am glad that the grim origins of this blog eventually gave way. Perhaps I would’ve accumulated followers more rapidly if I had continued to use it as an outlet for despair, but sacrificing that has been accompanied by the best months, and years, of my short, uneventful life (so far).
Hopefully I’ll be graduating at the end of July and then that’s done. My relationship with Oxford – stormy and steamy – is over (at least until they offer me an honorary teaching job, or *hint* the Mastership of a college). It’s taken me two and a half years of blogging to get here (God I wish I’d started writing this at the beginning of my first year, if only for the symmetry), but I made it out the other side at last.
And when you stumble along blindly for long enough, you start to realise that not knowing where you’re going, or seeing what’s ahead of you, is almost the best way to travel. Almost.