You’re probably saying that my upkeep of this blog must be the most inconsistent thing you’ve ever seen but believe that I have been super busy. I haven’t forgotten about you though. It’s been a while since I’ve last posted and let’s just say I became a Master of Science between then and now. Yes, I successfully finished and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. This journey has taught be about myself so much and I want to tell you how.
1. Learning about different cultures
I have said this many times during my time at IHE and I will say it here: “Every young adult should experience life outside of their comfort zone and see how the rest of the world do things.” I constantly told that to my family and I stand by it. Even the differences between myself and my Caribbean colleagues shined through and it opened my eyes. One essential trait I developed was how to work with people from different backgrounds in the same environment.
2. Losing my mother at the beginning of this journey
My cousin Rhesa sent me an article entitled, “The strongest girls have a loved one in heaven” and I kept putting off reading it. When I finally read it, it resonated with me because I felt like the author was speaking about me. I never saw myself as a strong person because I used to cry easily and I believed that crying was a sign of weakness so I always held back my tears. However, crying actually relieves you but I’ve become so against it that my tears kinda automatically go back inside (weird, I know). I said that to say that I never really knew my strength until I was faced with my mother’s death. I was able to complete something that I started while she was here with me and as carefree as I walk around, I’m finally seeing how monumental this achievement is. We are all stronger than we give ourselves credit.
I left home at 23 years old to complete this degree and for those 23 years I’d never left from under my parents’ roof. This wasn’t so strange because most, if not all, of my friends were in a similar situation. But as soon as my mother and brother left to go back home, I was ‘on my own’. I had experience with most of the stuff I had to do like washing, cooking, cleaning etc. But the biggest lesson I learnt was FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT. Every student who pays rent knows what I am talking about. Money usually burns my hand so I spend it quickly but when I tell you I had to sacrifice, you better believe I had to leave some stuff out.
4. God is REALER than REAL
The final point in this post is about my Heavenly Father. He is the reason I was even able to complete this degree as strongly as I did. He is the reason I had such an amazing support system during my time at IHE. I left home partially a believer and I finished my degree as a baptised believer in Jesus Christ. I thank God for His mercy and favour over my life and His unending grace which He continuously bestows. I learnt that prayer works but I gotta work along with my prayers. I learnt that God can send a message through ANYBODY to you. I saw, firsthand, the power of God. I am a living testimony.
My concluding two cents…
To sum up what I wrote above:
Get out of your comfort zone, it’ll be uncomfortable at first but it will teach you lessons you would never learn in your own bubble.
In the midst of life there is death. Grieve, cry your eyes out, heal. You are much stronger than you know.
Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT LISTEN TO THE VOICE THAT TELLS YOU TO TREAT YOURSELF. Especially, when you’re half-way through the month and seeing double digits in your bank account.
Finally, God can help you through anything if you just believe in Him.
I got to know me a little better and I am so happy with the woman I’m becoming.
Dear Mama, you showed affection like the lover you are.
Dear Mama, you led like the beacon you are.
Dear Mama, you taught like the teacher you are.
Dear Mama, I miss you.” – the Awkward Chemist
You are probably wondering why I am saying “are” when my mother passed away. But, I refuse to use past tense when it comes to the qualities that make up Gloria Jordan. My mother will forever live on. Her strength, her beauty, her resilience, her EVERYTHING still lives on through her family, her students, her friends. The love I have for this woman will never die.
To us there was no woman stronger, Who could be more beautiful than you? With a smile so bright We wish you’d stay a lil while longer.
This pain we feel is like no other. Gloria Patricia, the world’s greatest mother. You were an aunt, cousin, friend and educator. Thankfully, we’ll see you later.
We got eight extra years with you, After breast cancer tried to take you. But you fought so valiantly, You were determined to be cancer free.
In 2015, your nemesis came again As if, this time, it planned to take revenge, You fought and you braved it so gracefully, Until it took your power to move willfully.
Even then it couldn’t down your spirit, Even then you were never afraid of it But like a true lady, you knew when to retaliate no more, You knew there was a better life waiting at the top floor.
Mum, you have touched the lives of many a person, You have groomed and shaped an abundance of daughters and sons, I thank God he chose you to bring Ethan and I into this world And I know you’ll always be watching over dad, cause you’ll always be his girl.
Go on, pretty lady. Spread those wings, We’ll be fine down here, you taught us many things. We will miss you more than we can ever say, But we find comfort in knowing we’ll see you again, one day.
Heyo! I am so happy to have the time to write to you guys. It has been a hectic 8 months and life has been tough for those 8 months.
School wise, I have been doing well with the courses (passed all) and I even went on an international field trip to Spain and Portugal. Now, we’re about to start the thesis part of this masters and let me just say that I’m particularly nervous about it.
Personal life… (long sigh) I really am taking life one day at a time. The rock of my life, Gloria Jordan, left me on March 3rd 2017 and I have been praying and trying to be the strongest I can be since then. Just trying to make her proud. I’m also growing spiritually and I am loving it.
Awkward side, still awkward and still trying to find my place in this world. Man, at 24 years old, it is really something else when you don’t know where you fit in or where you will be in the future. Trying to be okay with that.
Thanks for bearing with me for these past 8 months. Life comes at you too fast man. More blog posts to come!
“That attitude can block them blessings. Check ya self.” – the Awkward Chemist
I hope you’re all doing great and I hope you’ve been getting along well with life.
I know I’ve been away for a while but as you can imagine school got the best of me. The volume of work I was doing was something I wasn’t expecting especially in the time frame. All in all, we were taught, we were given assignments and we were tested. Let me tell you about them all… 🙂
Master programs are usually broken down into modules, so obviously we did modules 1 and 2 first. From October 31st until November 30th, we were absolutely loaded with information. Six chapters of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) (Mod 1) and 3 sub courses of Water Resources System. Along with these courses we took supplementary tutorials on Geographical Information Systems (QGIS specifically), ‘What is Science?’, Critical Reading and Referencing Skills and Plagiarism Awareness.
When I tell you it was a lot for one month of teaching, believe me. IWRM alone was HUGE and our lecturer taught us in 4 days. Just imagine condensing a semester load of work in FOUR days. Anyhow, Water Resources Systems was split into 3; Introduction to Hydrology, Ground Water Resources and Water Quality (Ecology). This was the calculation and “science” module between the two. A lot of work, yes but somehow better than Mod 1.
Assignments & Exams
For the assignments we had a total of 6 assignments, all due before exams. I am a procrastinator who works BEST under pressure. So you know I left MOST, if not all, of my assignments til the last minute. Yes, I know, it is a horrible habit. It has worked for me all through my academic life but somehow, the stress it caused me here has taught me that is has to stop IMMEDIATELY. Beyond that, I was able to finish all and submit before the deadlines so that I could have at least a few days to revise (another horrible habit of studying at the last minute).
Being a student for my entire life, I’ve always taken exams and PLENTY at that. Having said that, the only time I was ever as nervous as I was at the beginning of exam week, was probably when I took the Common Entrance Exam. I was so nervous that I couldn’t sleep properly, I didn’t eat breakfast, I was shaking. You would think I never took a test ever in life. After the first exam, IWRM, I felt a little better and was able to take that confidence into exam 2. However, exam 2 came at me like Mike Tyson and bit my resolve right out! I wasn’t looking for it to be like that. What helped me to be okay afterwards, was the fact that I had the entire afternoon and the rest of the week for myself. Praise God! Finally, I can watch my shows and relax without feeling guilty for procrastinating.
Out of Classroom Experiences
Fire it Up Friday: We took the final Friday of the intro week to visit Den Haag (The Hague) and Binnenhof (Parliament Buildings) and Madurodam (AWESOME MINIATURE ARTISTRY). We visited the Dunes by the North Sea, which was particularly exciting because we travelled on tandem bikes and heard about the history and traditions of the Dutch. Just know, the Dutch love a bell; something always happening for one to ring. After the tour, we went to a lovely hotel for the Welcome Dinner (FOOD GALORE) and right back home. It was a good day.
LIBRA: This was a game which served as an ice-breaker for the new participants and helped to open our minds to the world of stakeholders and water institutions. It consisted of different water managing authorities in a particular delta or basin around the world working together to give the best service to the civilians, farmers and municipal sectors.
Buying a Bike: That was an experience. I hadn’t touched a bicycle in years and it felt so foreign to be riding especially a bicycle with back breaks only. However, it was a very welcomed move because walking to school wasn’t the business. The goal was and will continue to be getting to and from places a quickly as possible to get out of the cold.
Nile Water Lab Launch: Studying at IHE means knowing the Nile back to front, or source to mouth. EVERYTHING is based on the Nile, every single class I hear about the Nile. From the High Aswan Dam, to the conflicts between the countries it feeds, to the ecology, to how it has been affected by climate change other human influences. So I wasn’t surprised when my MSc group (Water Management) was invited to the Nile Water Lab Launch. This is a website which aids to shed light on the social-economic side of the Nile plus giving information about the projects going on. It invites you to contribute and it is quite the interactive site (Nile Water Lab).
Church: I joined the Redeem Christian Church of God Mount Zion International Parish Church. Everybody that knows me knows I hardly go to church in Barbados, but here I go every Sunday and I’ve even joined the choir. This was one of the best decisions I made since it was only because of God I made it to Delft or even heard of this opportunity. We were talking about blessings at Bible Study and I can tell you that it was NO MISTAKE that I’ve been brought here. Everything happens for a reason and I am especially happy & grateful that God touched my life in this way.
Dutch Family: the Meet the Dutch program is something I was hesitant in signing up for but I did anyway and I was paired with a lovely woman by the name of Franca De Vos. So welcoming and her family too. Having a family here to lean on is something anyone would need and I’m glad it was Franca and hers.
Friends: The mini-world that is IHE has brought light to so much darkness in my mind, it showed how ignorant and even self-centered I was. It showed me that I have a lot to be thankful for and how proud I should be of where I come from. The Caribbean family I have here has been a vital part of my time here and I am sure it will continue to be. The others have taught me culture and have opened my eyes to life outside the west. I am so grateful for that.
Overall, my first month in Delft and at UNESCO-IHE has already done so much for me and has really urged me to re-evaluate my life. The many practices I had at home can’t and won’t work here and maybe I needed to shift some of those habits anyway. I am so happy for this opportunity and I pray I make my loved ones and myself proud. At first I was sad and confused but now I’m determined and just focused on finishing strongly. The lecturers at IHE are some of the best in the water sphere and for them to be teaching me, inviting me to their project launches and treating me like one of them, and not an outsider, is all a young black girl from Rock Dundo, St. James BARBADOS, could ever want.
I never guessed my life would turn out this way and it makes me so emotional to look back at where I was and compare to now…Thank You, God. Thank You for blessing me with an understanding family, with amazing friends and countless messengers who brought your messages to me.
– the Awkward Chemist
P.S – I’m not saying that everything is all roses and glitter. I have to work my behind off to get the results I’m looking for but it is the experience, the people, the change of scenery. It was NEEDED and I will not forget nor regret this.
“To embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli
“Erin Jordan in de Netherlands…” I told my mum that the day we made it to Delft. I even told her me saying it sounded weird. However, I’ve made it and I kinda like it. I won’t lie to you, I’ve never been away for such a long time from my family and I must admit that I’ve shed some tears (and a few bawls). Yes, I will miss them and yes, sometimes I will wish I was home to celebrate certain events but this is all for the betterment of my future.
Before I got to Delft, I stayed a while in England to do some shopping to get cold clothing. I wanted someone to go with me to help me settle in so I invited my mum and brother to come along. Ethan LOVES international cultures so when I found out I was going to two big European countries I HAD to invite him. We toured London on the 14th of October and it was amazing! My uncle Mark took us and we did some major tar slamming (walking). We dined in a pub, we saw the London Eye, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, rode on a double-decker bus, the Tower Bridge and the Shard. All of which Ethan knew before we got there (lol). The next day we left for Amsterdam.
The London Eye
Journey to Delft
We landed at Amsterdam and travelled to Delft by train ( 40 minute train ride). After leaving the train station we got a taxi and it took us to the hotel my brother and mother would have been staying at. Sunday was the day I arrived at UNESCO-IHE for my introductory meeting as well as the key for my accommodation, identification information and appointment schedule. I didn’t know to walk with my luggage the initial time, I was thinking I had to get there on my own…obviously my brain wasn’t ticking. We ended up going back to the hotel to get the luggage. On our way back, Ethan insisted we see the new Church in the City Centre of Delft (a REAL BEAUTY). After seeing it and taking a few pictures and a video, we restarted the back pedal. Guess who got lost? You got that right! Eventually we made it back and we lugged through Historic Delft with heavy suitcases – Delft has brick roads so just imagine how much noise the ONLY 3 black people in the city were keeping.
The Nieuwe Kerk
Being Photobombed by The Nieuwe Kerk
When we got back, I attended the introductory meeting where I received all of my important documents and I received a UNESCO-IHE jacket. The shuttle was taking the students to their new accommodation and I asked if my brother and mum could accompany me. They said yes and when we got to the van it was too full and only one of us could fit. I told my mum I would go and they could come back later during the day. I gave her a kiss and I hugged Ethan. My mum started to cry. For anybody with a fortified bond to their mother, when she starts to cry, you start crying too. Imagine me, a 23 year old woman, in a van with adults crying. You would know who was silent and looking out through the window; Erin. The next day I would say goodbye to them and shed all the tears I need to. After those tears, it will be business as usual.
I came here to complete my Master’s Degree in Water Management specialising in Water Quality Management and I will. These same tears I’ve shed will mean so much more when I successfully do.
“I think the bottom line of everything, even when we talk about healing this colorism issue in the world, is that it starts with healing yourself. Because really you’re the only person you can control. Work on yourself and treat yourself, talk to yourself the way you would talk to somebody who you’re trying to heal.” –India Arie
Many young black girls have a hard time accepting their skin colour. Either because their peers or family members make fun of them or they just don’t think they’re the right shade. I had this same experience and it is only now that I am beginning to embrace myself.
I must admit, I am not fully there but I am on my way! Recently, I have found that more and more people are endorsing melanin and I love it. Many might scoff at this but I have Tumblr to thank for my surge in confidence. I have never seen black women praised as much, celebrated even, as on Tumblr. It was then I told myself that if they can do it and “SLAY” then I can do the same. What do we have to thank for our skin’s chocolaty goodness? MELANIN…That physiological brown SHIGGAH.
How many of you know about it though? Besides the obvious? That’s what I’m here for; to educate and hopefully to inspire.
You’re probably looking at this molecule and thinking of clicking away from this post. I promise you I won’t beat you with the chemistry of the molecule. All I intend to do is shed some light on Melanin and its business.
What is it?
Melanin is the pigment responsible for the skin, hair and other physical attributes of animals. For this article, we’re gonna focus on human beings. Melanin is produced by cells in our bodies called, melanocytes, which are found in every human being. There are two forms of melanin, Eumelanin and Pheomelanin. The production of the melanin, however, is dependent on some external and internal factors.
What are these factors?
Exposure to UV Radiation: Melanin production occurs to protect the DNA in the outerlayer of the skin. Hence, a person exposed to vast amounts of sunlight is expected to produce more melanin.
Genetic Make-up: Your ancestry dictates the shade and amount of melanin your body produces. This is one of the markers used to determine the race in populations (HELLO RACISM).
Size of the Melanocytes: Melanocyte size differs from person to person and could lead to a variation in melanin production.
Disease Conditions: Vitiligo (progressive loss of melanocytes) and the genetic condition of Albinism (inability to produce melanin).
This form of melanin is found in the hair and skin of most humans and it colours the hair mainly black and brown. Moreover, there are two forms of Eumelanin: black eumelanin and brown eumelanin. When present in large quantities, black eumelanin produces black pigments while in smaller quantities, grey. For brown eumelanin, the level of abundance ranges from brown to blond.
This form of melanin produces reddish colours and is more abundant in the skin of women than men. Pheomelanin is mainly responsible for the colouring of ginger hair. In the image above, you can see where there is a small amount of Eumelanin, Pheomelanin is the dominant pigment which determines the end result and vice versa. Pheomelanin is also responsible for skin freckles.
As we move through this melanin journey, we have to touch on some topics mentioned earlier…
This is a genetic condition which reduces the amount of melanin produced in the skin and it can affect the hair, skin and/or the eyes. There are two main types:
Oculocutaneous Albinism – This involves the eyes, hair and skin.
Ocular Albinism – a rare form, where the eyes are only affected and the skin and hair may appear to be slightly lighter than that of the kin.
This is a long-term condition that causes pale, white patches to develop on the skin due to lack of melanin.Mostly the skin exposed to sunlight is affected like the neck, face and hands but it varies among persons. White patches range in size from small to very large adjoining over big spaces of skin and they are usually permanent.
The disease isn’t contagious neither is it caused by an infection. There is no known reason for the cause of lack of melanin but experts have linked it to autoimmune conditions and nerve endings in the skin. If you have family history of the disease, it can increase your chances of development.
My Two Cents
Imagine putting all of this work into making something then almost everyone hates it. How would that make you feel? The biosynthesis of Melanin comprises amino acids, intermediate compounds that can go off and make something else, and utilises enzymes needed elsewhere but, it chose to protect your skin. I am in no way forcing you to accept your melanin; if your mind is made up, then so be it. But, just internalise the information; study it. As much as I may have made this post educational, the biggest aim was to help a young black girl struggling with self love.
I want you to know you are BEAUTIFUL, regardless of your shade…never forget that.
“Ocean Acidification is just the evil twin of global warming…” As if global warming isn’t evil enough…
Being from a country where glass bottom boats, snorkeling and coral reef exploration are parts of tourism, Ocean Acidification is one of the global warming effects we need to discuss. Before we dive into that, let’s first understand pH, acids, bases & indicators, and the importance of pH balance.
What is pH?
pH is the measure of the hydrogen ion concentration of a compound. It is a logarithmic scale which ranges from 0-14 where 7 is neutral, >7 is basic (alkaline) and <7 is acidic.
Acids & Bases
From corrosive and sour to soapy and bitter, acids and bases make up the world as we know it. They are many different types of acids but for the simplicity’s sake, it can be defined as a chemical substance that neutralises bases, dissolves some metals, and turns litmus red or a molecule or entity that can donate a proton or accept an electron pair in reactions.
Bases (a.k.a Alkalis) can be defined as a chemical compound that neutralises or effervesces (bubbles) with acids & turns litmus blue. Also, by being the opposite of acids, it is subsequently a compound that accepts protons or donates electron pairs in reactions.
These are compounds which change colour and structure when exposed to certain environments. Litmus, mentioned above, is an example of an indicator; it is the first indicator you will ever learn about in science. There are many other indicators which are used in chemical tests such as methyl red, phenolphthalein (common), methyl orange and many more.
For every biological system, pH plays a very important role in keeping the balance. The slightest change in pH can have adverse effects. For this post, I will use aquatic environments as an example. The pH of most aquatic environments ranges between 6-8 and in these conditions organisms, both at the top and the bottom of the food chain, thrive. pH can determine how well some organisms carry out their regular day-to-day processes with said water and unsustainable changes result in decreased numbers and in extreme cases, death. For other organisms, they grow to levels which may continue to inhibit the ones already struggling. This is why keeping the balance is paramount.
What’s there to know about the Ocean?
Ocean pH, seawater composition and the general equilibrium of the ideal ocean would help to show how different things can become or are becoming via Ocean Acidification. As Caribbean natives, we tend to just go to the beach and never think about what we’re stepping into. I think it’s high time we changed that.
Unaffected by anthropogenic (man-made) emissions, the pH of sea water was a basic 8.2. After the rise in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, it has decreased to 8.1 thus, increasing in acidity. A 0.1 change in pH may seem so minuscule but the pH scale and the Richter Scale are alike in that a change of 1.o is actually 10 times that of the original value. So, this change represents a considerable decrease in the comfort of marine life.
“What is seawater even made of?”, you ask?
Table showing percentage composition of the Dissolved Ions
Ions found in seawater originate either from inside the earth (seismic/volcanic activity), the atmosphere (gases floating around in the atmosphere) or from the many organisms (coral reef, excrement or decomposing) which call the ocean their home. It is because of these above salts that the ocean tastes ‘salty’.
“How does the ocean maintain a basic pH?”
Ideal Ocean Equilibrium
You were probably thinking that a body of water should be neutral but by now I’m sure that has changed and wondering how it is basic and how does it stay basic. The answer, a Carbonate Buffer (a solution that resists pH changes when volumes of acid or alkali are added to it). A buffer usually consists of a weak acid and its salt; the carbonate buffer consists of carbonic acid (H2CO3) – formed when carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater – and the bicarbonate ion. Since carbonic acid is unstable, it breaks down into the bicarbonate and carbonate ions which are now responsible for the buffering/pH regulation of the ocean. The percentage presence of the bicarbonate ion (HCO3– ) and carbonate ion ( CO32-)make up part of the “other” percentage. Even though their percentages are scanty, they play the most important role in the ocean. All aquatic life is sensitive to the pH of the ocean therefore the buffer must be supreme.
“So! What is Ocean Acidification?”
Ocean Acidification (OA)
Now that you have enough knowledge on the Carbonate Buffer, we can now take a look at the acidification process. Buffers are usually resistant to additions of acids and bases but given enough of one, the equilibrium will definitely shift. Since the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased over the years due to industrialisation, more and more carbon dioxide has been dissolving into the ocean. Therefore, the abundance of carbonic acid in the ocean is increasing, causing the buffer to become unbalanced thus, lowering the pH.
Before, the absorption of carbon dioxide by the world’s oceans was seen as natural mitigation to our climate change issue. But now it is proving to be yet another head of the hydra.
Calcium Carbonate Breakdown
Remember that carbonate ion which is formed in more basic conditions? Well when it reacts with the calcium ions in the ocean it forms a salt called calcium carbonate. This compound is one of the building blocks used by organisms to build shells and coral reefs amongst other things. When it reacts with the carbonic acid, it dissociates causing a weakening of the shells of snails, clams and any other like organisms, as well as the destruction of coral reef. The coral reef cannot use the calcium carbonate to keep their skeletons strong, therefore they dissolve. In Barbados, damage to our coral reefs will impact on our eco-tourism package. Imagine the larger world renowned reefs. How will they survive?
Collage showing the degradation of an organism’s shell due to increased acidity.
Then and now comparison of a section of coral reef in Jamaican waters.
With calcium carbonate out of the picture, there is the problem of organism survival. Some juveniles of aquatic organisms have hard shells to protect them making them extremely vulnerable to OA. When the mortality rate of juveniles increase, the rate of survival decreases thus, an overall decrease in populations. This causes a domino effect in the food web. Where there is a shortage of food, a shortage of feeders arises.
As I mentioned before, coral reefs are a part of many tropical destinations’ eco-tourism. With them being destroyed by OA, economic problems come to the light. Not only are the coral reefs gone, but the fish that frequented them are gone too. The big fishing companies that catch the mussels and shellfish for restaurants and supermarkets can go out of business if OA goes on long enough. Jobs, livelihoods and maybe even communities could be lost taking a toll on the economy causing it to tumble, yet again.
My Two Cents
“In the last 150 years or so, the pH of the oceans has dropped substantially, from 8.2 to 8.1–equivalent to a 25 percent increase in acidity. By the end of the century, ocean pH is projected to fall another 0.3 pH units, to 7.8.” (ScienceDaily, June 2014 )
We have discussed what pH, acids & bases and indicators are, everything you need to know about the ocean (for the purpose of this blog), and what is OA as well as its consequences. You have read for yourself, the situation is a serious one. I cannot stress enough how dangerous climate change (& its family) is to the planet and how much we have taken for granted. A step in the right direction would be to become more aware of what’s going on around you. There is no such thing as too much information when it comes to something as serious as this. Once you know, you can always do better.
– the Awkward Chemist
“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist: the threat is rather to life itself.” –Rachel Carson
“You never know what’s hiding behind a beautiful smile.” – Anonymous
Most of the people who’ve been around me can tell you I love a laugh and I love to make people happy. I care about people a lot even when its to my own detriment. I know for most of you reading this right now, this is you. You spend countless hours being there for people without taking care of yourself and when you least expect it, you lose it ( I don’t necessarily mean a mental breakdown). Before you go jumping to conclusions, this isn’t an article about fake friends and disloyalty or a bad break-up. This article is about inspiring someone who may have “lost it” and needed confirmation that it will get better because I am living proof.
I’ve always been the girl who smiled before she cried, who laughed before she bashed or who walked away before she blew up. Whatever I went through, unless it was unbearable, no one knew and I liked it like that because I dealt with it and moved on; I even forgot that some of these trials existed. I made it through Combermere quite alright even though something major happened when I was fifth form. I may have lost some weight but I quickly got back on my feet like nothing ever happened. Even my grades reflected a stable student. While I was in cadets, nothing ever fazed me because I loved cadetting since it was one of my happy places.
Before university, I was living a happy-go-lucky type life and I was fine with that. Everything was unicorns and rainbows and every one was trustworthy and had my back. Obviously, I was wrong and it was during my time at University that I came to this realisation. First year, almost my entire grad class stuck together. We all hung out under the tree by Roy Marshall and we painted Cave Hill blue and yellow during Combermere Week. We had classes together, we went to interschool sports together, we just had a good time. We weren’t really bothered about life, per se.
(At this point, you’re probably saying I had a cake walk through my first year but nah. I failed a course and I had hell doing lab write-ups and other projects. But, I made it through).
Then Summer ’12 happened…
I met someone who I instantly fell in love with. His physique was nice, his smirk was like a magnet and he seemed like a nice guy. Majority of the people in my life told me to leave him alone and of course I didn’t. Long story short: I had mountains of drama and I was left with a broken heart and a magnificent case of acid reflux. This “relationship” spanned second year and the first semester of third year. My grades declined, my relationships with friends got sketchy, I started doing things I never thought I would have done. Then I finally walked away and never looked back. But by this time it was too late and along with my acid reflux came depression & anxiety. I had never felt like this ever in my life and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Going to school on mornings was a struggle because I would cry all the way there. I couldn’t be around people because the anxiety would kick in and I would instantly start to feel sick. I would skip classes in small rooms because I hated being cooped up. I stopped smiling and I lost all of the weight I gained during first year.
Being home at night was worse because I hardly slept and I would just sit up and cry fearing the next day because I felt no better and I had to act like nothing was wrong. Like, my life was a mess. At the beginning of the second semester [third year] my grades were horrible and I wanted to give up so badly. This was my penultimate semester and I can remember calling my friend, Daniel crying to him telling him I can’t go on. I can’t do it anymore, I give up. He tried his best to console me. I messaged my mum and told her I wanted to take a break but she quickly told me I can do it and I am not a quitter. I honestly thought I couldn’t make it. Richell-Ann and Shakelia sat me down and just told me to let it out, release all of my emotions and don’t hold back. Stefan was my listening ear and he too knew what I went through because he went through it. Many other friends inquired and we spoke with the usual encouraging ending.
All in all, I completed that semester with the best grades I had ever gotten at university. I was bewildered, I couldn’t believe it. During exam time, I said a prayer. It was the first time I had prayed since secondary school and it worked. It wasn’t an immediate improvement because I still fought with my demons throughout the summer but eventually life got better. I prayed more often, I started going out more, I believed in myself more and I graduated University. I did it. I made it through University. I endured. There is no better feeling than the one you get when you make it through a hardship you thought you would never survive. You feel like you can take on the world and nothing scares you as much as it used to.
All of this could have been avoided if I had just thought about me, for once. I gave all of me to the wrong cause and it showed. I lost myself, I lost my personality and I lost the will to carry on. I was never alone, even though it felt that way, because my family and friends had my back. God sent them for me a long time ago & it was through my rough patch I found out why they were there. So many people, unnamed, came to my rescue and I have them to thank. They gave me words of encouragement and they showed me that even though we weren’t as close as we used to be, they still cared.
DO NOT GIVE UP. It may seem like you are having the worse time ever and there is no light at the end of the tunnel but, there is and you’re going to get there. Even if you think you have no one to talk to or that will understand what you’re going through, you’re going to make it.
I am still dealing with my problems. Every now and again my anxiety raises its head and I am able to push it down. I don’t let it get the best of me and I try to push myself past my fears so I can enjoy life. I am not fearless, though and I still prefer being home. However, I refuse to let life pass me by.
I choose to live.
“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” -William Wallace
– the Awkward Chemist
P.S. – talking to someone helps a lot. Especially someone who is neutral and has no affiliation to you or what may be troubling you. They see things clearer and they provide you with unbiased advice that is sure to help you. For me, that person was Dr. Badenock who was my Organic Chem lecturer. She showed me the bigger picture and that motivated me enough to get my life back on track.