Still I Rise

Tomorrow marks my third week into my university journey. I have been meaning to blog for a while but life just took over. For a woman who rarely feels any immense sense of pride, achievement and love, these past few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. Highs and lows. Memories and future visualisations. I have never had an easy life and learning to roll with the punches has always been a strength of mine, adjusting to my new identity as a student isn’t as easy as I had believed it would be. That’s not to say I am not enjoying every bloody micro second of it though, because I am.
I have been pondering how I can explain its difficulties…. The first and main issue I personally have, is the social aspect of uni life. As stated in previous blogs, prior to my two years spent in prison, I would have described myself as a sociable girl. That side of me completely vanished for a long period of time for many reasons. For many years I didn’t want to go out partying, I had lost a lot of ‘friends’ and my lifestyle had made me so aware of the importance of choosing my friends with caution.
I don’t find it hard to make ‘friends’…. I am a happy-go-lucky spirit, I can make small talk like the best of them, I have a sense of humour (I think) and I don’t take life too seriously at all, if I did, god knows where I would be right now. With that being said, I do struggle with social interaction, maybe not visible to the eye but definitely in my head it’s a battle I have with myself every day.
As a child I had ‘friends’ at school. I played with kids, I sometimes went over to play at other kids houses but no kids could ever come to my house, if at that point we even had a house. From a young age I found an ability that I needed to survive life. Do not get close to anything or anyone because everything we have in this life is temporary. People up and leave with no explanation, people who should have protected me exploited me, abused me, beat me and let me fend for myself from the age of less than 10. In my home, what ever or where ever that may have been, the kids cooked their food, if we had any. If not, we would walk alone to another family members house to eat. We made our life work by any means. We never had another life or another situation to compare ours too, for me this self-dependency as a child was normal. Normal in a sense that, we had to do what we needed to, to live, but we always knew that other kids didn’t live life we did.
Fast forward to now and I am again a student, with a not so ‘normal’ life. What really made me have a particularly hard week, was when I considered my social struggle and wondered if the very people that gave me life, built me into such a person that I now accept struggling will always be a massive part of my life, or that I have built up so many walls, that enjoying life and new experiences isn’t an option and not viable. Letting my guard down, showing a damaged, vulnerable girl has never and will never be an option for me. I don’t know if that is the right way or the wrong way to live, but so far on my journey it has been the only way. For me, survival always priorities over living.
When I thought about and applied for uni, I knew why I was going. I had witnessed a failing criminal justice system, I had been exposed to a failing criminal justice system and I will forever live with the effects of such an unjust system. Any and every social care failed me as a child, it failed my parents, it failed my sisters. Then I had a two year insight into how it fails so many other vulnerable families, men and women and it hurt me. It hurt me to the point that I found my voice, I found my drive and I found my purpose. Many will not agree with some of my life choices, many will not agree with my opinions, many have not lived my life. Many have not been scarred by witnessing horrific trauma in everyday life.
The past few weeks I have been searching for reason and understanding. Reasons as to why I am pursuing a degree and an understanding of my past life and potential future. Yes, I have potential and yes, I have a future. For all the people who wrote me off because my parents had addiction problems and my childhood wasn’t ‘normal’, for all the people who wrote me off because I was a teen mum and I made a mistake that enabled me to see the inside of a prison cell, I thank you. I am far from perfect but I am no quitter. For as long as my legs will hold me, I will stand up for what I believe is right, just and fair and for as long as my voice will talk, I will use it to tell tales for the voiceless. I will talk with tears in my eyes and trembles in my voice to ensure I am heard. They say, it is your moments of decision that shape your destiny, today I decide I am worthy, I am proud and still I Rise….

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