All my life I’ve considered myself a writer. I’ve always felt more able to articulate myself through the written word – out loud I can be awkward, brash, anxious. On paper (or screen…) I feel more like myself.
Yet I’ve put nothing out there. Twenty-eight years and all I have to show for it is writing I’ve HAD to do. Essays, emails, cover letters, yes – but never anything more substantial than a social media post that I wrote creatively for myself. I’ve even had this blog set up for over a year, sitting here empty.
I’m going to make an effort to get some content published, challenging the spectres of perfectionism and fear of failure that hang over me. As a start, I thought I’d tell you a few things about myself, things I see as fairly defining aspects of my identity, to give you a feel for the kind of content you’ll hopefully find here over the coming months.
So, in no particular order, here are five things about me!
I’m a postgraduate student in my late twenties
Last November I turned twenty-eight. I spent the first eighteen years of my life in Leeds, West Yorkshire, where I was born and raised. In 2010 I moved to Oxford to do my undergraduate degree in English, and stuck around in Oxfordshire first for a relationship, then after that ended, for my job.
In July I relocated to Glasgow with my partner and feline furbaby. We’re here for a year or so while I complete a master’s degree in Fantasy Literature – yep, you read that right, a master’s degree in Fantasy Literature! It’s a real thing, and it’s every bit as fascinating and engaging as I hoped it would be.
I struggle with my mental health
I took a five-year break between finishing my undergraduate degree and taking up postgraduate study. After graduating from Oxford in 2014, I honestly thought I would never want to go back to academia because of the immense stress and anxiety I’d felt over the past four years.
I take daily medication for depression and anxiety, which helps me feel more balanced and in control of my emotions and mental health. I speak regularly and openly about my mental health because I don’t think there should be any stigma or shame around it.
I knew returning to study would be a challenge for me, and it has been. Relocating, switching to part-time remote work and doing everything I need to for my degree has been a major disruption to my routine and coping strategies. I regularly feel overwhelmed and have to step back and rebalance. Luckily, I have a great support network of friends and family to help me through.
I’m a fantasy scholar
I went back and forth over whether to call myself a ‘fantasy scholar’ or to try and find something that sounded a little less grandiose, but no. I AM a fantasy scholar! I’m studying, researching and writing about fantasy from an academic perspective, contributing to this evolving field.
My love of fantasy (in all media, not just literature) goes back as far as I remember. During my time at Oxford, my tutor told me she’d known I was a ‘dragon fancier’ ever since she first interviewed me. I was always looking for elements of the fantastic to discuss in class and write about in my essays.
I couldn’t quite believe it when I discovered the Fantasy MLitt existed here in Glasgow. It was just the thing to entice me back to academia at a time in my life when I had more experience and self-awareness to help deal with its pressures. I hope to start publishing some of my work and maybe even presenting at conferences as I build up my expertise and confidence!
I love cats
I’m an animal lover in general, but cats are my favourite. I grew up with cats and for me a house isn’t a home without one. When I first moved out of student accommodation and into my own flat in 2013, the most important thing for me was to find a furbaby, and I found Simba.
Simba is six and a half years old now and I’ve had him since he was a kitten. He’s great company and has helped me through some of the hardest times of my life – I can’t imagine being without him. He’s epileptic, managed with daily medication, and likes to chew through wires when he feels like he’s not getting enough attention. My phone camera reel is literally just hundreds of pictures of him being cute and fluffy.
In 2018, my partner Luke and I fostered some kittens. This is something I really want to do more of later in life when we have more space and freedom. It was challenging but incredibly rewarding. The first litter we fostered were orphans and very sick – sadly they didn’t make it. The second litter we fostered with their mum, and all four kittens as well as mum were successfully rehomed.
Not chubby, not voluptuous, not ‘a little extra’ – fat! I obsessed over my weight from such an early age and when I look back now, I wish I could give my younger self a good shake. Body positivity and fat acceptance are issues close to my heart and it’s been a joy to see more and more activists and influencers speaking out against body shaming and fat discrimination.
We still have a pervasive issue in modern society that we equate ‘fat’ with all kinds of other things – laziness, greed, lack of self-control. This somehow makes people believe that being fat, for whatever reason, makes someone unworthy of respect. I used to think that I needed to compensate for my size, either by disguising it in flattering clothes or mitigating it by being funnier, smarter, more adventurous than thinner girls. It took me a long time to get over that – I’m still working on it, really.
To sum up…
As an anxious, fat, cat-loving, dragon-fancying postgraduate student, I have a lot on my mind, and I thought I might as well share it with the world. If any of these subjects interest you, stay tuned!
Until then – so much to say, so much to do, somuchkat.