“I’ve always had a crush on you” I said to the girl whom I’ve always had a crush on.
A year ago, no, three years ago (the amount of time I’ve had a crush on that girl), I couldn’t have done it, even if I was drunk. It would almost certainly have resulted in a weekend-long panic attack and shutting myself off forever because who says this kind of stuff.
And I was drunk. I was hit with some end-of-uni courage and I went for it. Obviously, it didn’t go anywhere. She thanked me and I left to find my friends who I’d lost in the party crowd.
So me graduating from university is officially a thing that happened. And it got me thinking of the last three years, about how I’ve grown and changed. Do I even know who I was when I started university back in 2014?
Eren three years ago was a complicated person. She was a traumatised social justice warrior. She wasn’t a great writer, but she made up for it with motivation and a powerful urge to improve. She despised watching movies, but burned herself out on anime. She played a lot of bad video games. She tried to be social, but was awful at it; there were many unfunny jokes. She wanted nothing more than to make friends, but during her lectures she was too shy to talk to anyone. She had a personality, but no way of expressing it.
And now? Where do I even begin? I’m not sure who Eren is anymore, though I don’t mean that in a bad way. Her personality is a mystery to me, but perhaps that’s how it’s supposed to be. She writes every day, and I like to think she’s improving with every word. Going to the cinema is in her top five list of activities to do, and she’s an avid film and anime critic (like, she spends most of her time writing reviews that no one reads). Even now she plays bad video games, but she’s given up trying to defend them. She’s still not funny but she can laugh. She’s talked to so, so many people over the years, made some friends (and enemies), and she’s better at it than I give her credit for. She’s still shy, but ask her about anime or writing and you’ll never hear the end of it.
I’m endlessly grateful for the past three years. I’ve walked a lonely road, battling depression and social anxiety, at times thinking there was no way I’d be able to complete my degree. But I did it. Despite the obstacles I faced, despite the panic attacks and the loneliness and the breakup and the continual existential crisis, I pulled through it stronger than I ever imagined I could be. For every new challenge I overcome, I grow better. Every time, I think this is it, this is the one that’s going to break me, but it never does. I always win.
I’m not where I want to be. But I’m a lot closer than it sometimes feels, and I know that. As long as I’m writing and talking to people and watching anime, I am happy. I just spent £50,000 plus interest on an arts degree and it was so worth it. Because I had the time of my life, both the good and the bad, and I graduated with a first class honours degree and I love writing and that’s all there is to it.