Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Therapy: the blessing of the bumps

It was on one of the lazy harmattan evenings that usually have a blood-red sun hanging low. It was the December of 2012, when I met All Time Low. We were playing Scrabble on *O’s PC when my eyes caught a peculiar folder. In it; a collection of All Time Low's albums. 

I got hooked on Therapy from the 2012 Nothing Personal album. Nevermind it drove me deeper into the light episodes of depression I had during my project work, I hummed it everywhere like a potent little chant.

"Therapy, I'm a walking travesty, but I'm smiling and everything // Therapy, you were never a friend to me, you can choke on your misery"

The lyrics stung every time I processed them. They painted a picture much like my life in dark colours. They painted the fears I was afraid to share - the fears I painted over with shallow, eager smiles.

From my limited line of sight, the combined ‘trial by fire’ of my finals and project would break me. All that 'scholar' non-sense would become history. I was an impostor and everyone would know. I feared the labour market. I feared after all these years of relative success, I would be exposed for the fraud that I was. I would bungle my project and get an F, spend an extra year and lose face. No one would remember me. I would pass on like every other student - unmarked, unremarked.

I could feel my viscera rip to shreds every time I got back my project draft from my supervisor who always returned it with generous amounts of red lines and comments. I must be the dumbest, I always thought while I smiled, asked for clarifications and later shambled out of his office.

Therapy was a dark reminder of those fears and more. The sound, however, was oddly comforting - like the sound of heavy thunderstorm, when you are tucked safely in an eiderdown. 

When I began my project, I convinced myself into thinking I had it all figured out. Of course, I kidded myself, I didn't. I was no genius.

My thoughts were too simplistic, crude; Mr. P,  who was my supervisor, would tell me.

While I listened to Nickelback to stay awake studying media theories at 1 am, I listened to All Time Low (with Therapy on replay half the time) to slow down the pace of the world every other time of the day - to push farther away the final year project deadline; to slow down the blinding rate at which the exams approached. (I remember just now, I also listened to Avenged Seven Fold to the same effect.)

But it would take more than All Time sLow to keep the sand of time from shuffling along. It all happened. The deadline came, exams too.

When the results came back and I got a B on my research, I didn't quite know when I gave a loud, sharp "whoop!!" 

I had never given a 'whoop' about any result before. I had never celebrated before. It had never been a big deal. But this was different.

For the first time, I realized it  wasn't just smarts. The 'B' against my name wasn't a product of IQ, but hands and knees buried deep in the mud. I realized the exams (read: memory quiz) of the three years before my finals only required so much. The finals however was a different beast and required a change in tack - harder work. For the first time, I felt I earned my keep in that school with no walls and too many dirt roads. For the first time, I met me - the blumbering and dim me. I also met the hardworking, capable, pliant and critical-thinking me. 

Somewhere between Ma telling me: 'give it all you got, success is a bonus', and the school whispering to me; 'everyone thinks you are smart, act like it', I lost it and life became only a race to keep up appearance. I forgot success wasn't the goal, but growth.

For a brief moment after the results came, I remembered what I had heard Ma say many times before. All that mattered was to give it all it took. Not to be pathetic. Not to give up at the first bump. Not to give up. Period. But our memories have the nasty habit of failing us. I have forgotten in the months since that day in July 2013. And today again I remember.

I remember on this third day of my 'very expensive holiday' that life is a pie and the best parts are the bumps. The chewy, juicy, meaty bumps. To survive the bump is to grow bigger than the bump. And now we are back to choices.

End notes: 

- O was one of the most memorable college roommates I bunked with. He studied Geography and liked The Cranberries much. Ah! I can still hear his early-morning off-tune rendition of Zombie in my head.

PS. Not sure if Therapy saw me through that time, but noir or no, I still listen to ATL. My present addiction is Missing Out from the 2015 Future Heart album. Join me. This one is rather cheery.

Photo Credit: blinkingidiot via Compfight cc