A time to reflect

Cambridge Girl Talk committee

With the new year around the corner and all of its traditional self-renewal expectations, we thought we would sit down individually and jot down a few thoughts on what we have learnt or been thinking about in our personal lives or selves these last few months of 2018. These reflections are not really meant as strict resolutions or agendas, but ideas which could help to clear our pathways.

Here are the first few by three of our committee members.

Anna, artist in residence

There is something I can’t get used to about the rhythm of a year punctuated by sporadic Cambridge terms. The dramatic change in tempo, the moving in and out, the need to create a home in two completely different types of environments. The post-Cambridge term hangover is something I still can’t figure out how to solve. Every time I return home after term I spend a few weeks in a strange state of high anxiety, completely unable to get used to the lack of structure, stimulus and need for self discipline which is so characteristic of Cambridge life.

I think part of the uneasiness of returning to life at home comes from an inability to feel like I can build a coherent picture of what my life in Cambridge actually is. I am completely unable to come up with a summary of my term. I remember general manic busyness, a few highs and lows here and there but the moment I leave Cambridge the whole place and experience feels like its own self-contained and make-belief world. A lack of time to reflect and record during term (I’m terrible at even taking photos) reinforces this disconcerting impression that my life is split into two distinct halves.

My aim for next term is to place the Cambridge world firmly within the context of real life. Cambridge should not feel like its own planet where it is expected that one moulds one’s values and ideas about what constitutes a good life in order to fit with the institution’s. I hope that by spending a little bit more time recording and reflecting during my next term will help to put the Cambridge bubble into the proper perspective of a wider world and therefore reduce the jarring unease of leaving for holidays next term.

Phoebe, co-events coordinator

For all that Christmas and the end of the year is ‘the most magical time of the year’, I’ve always found it a bit melancholy. It’s a time to reflect on memories of the year: the successes, friendships, trips and things gained, but also the things that was lost. To me, this year feels like the fastest a year has ever passed, but last Christmas also feels worlds away.

As I think about the person I was, I am grateful for the wonderful people that I still have in my life – now close in ways I could not have imagined. I am proud, and lucky, to have recovered from things that were dragging me down. My actual degree doesn’t feel like torture any more (most of the time). I’m more confident, more focussed, more self-reliant.

I am also possibly less soft than I was, with less time to spend really caring for the friends whom I love. I am probably a bit more of a pessimist than an optimist, now aware of the limits of what Cambridge is and who I can be within it. I also remember the friendships I’ve lost; some naturally, some due to a lack of effort, some disrupted by various events.

It’s both the good and the bad that form a year, and in a sense it’s healthy to remember a mixture of both. Let’s hope I can be as profound as this in 2019.

Bea, co-director

To reflect on this year I thought I’d share some moments I’m proud of, some rather trivial ones and some moments I wish I could correct. I also want to acknowledge the fantastic people in my life who have made my year enjoyable and the tough bits bearable.

Firstly a couple of glory moments, the obvious one for me being passing First Year Natsci, a horror story in itself. I’m also proud of myself for being braver and taking the time to start conversations with strangers and engaging with them. I’ve tried harder this year to carve out more time for my friends too and to try and be more thoughtful to others.

A few mistakes – one being cycling to 3 miles outside of Cambridge just to buy myself a more exciting potted plant for my Uni room (her name is Titania and she is almost worth it).

I wish I had taken more time to relax, to wind down fully and be present for a few hours simply watching a play or Netflix.

There have of course been a few more substantial mistakes, most of which could have been avoided if I’d taken a few minutes to breathe before speaking, (especially to my family to prevent arguments) something I’m still working on.

The thing I’m most proud of, really, is getting involved in Girl Talk. I’ve already learnt a lot – especially those “soft skills” people always talk about – and its been overall incredibly fun to collaborate with some truly inspirational women and make other women’s voices sound a little bit louder.

Christmas is traditionally a time spent with family and I’m so grateful for mine. They are some of the funniest and most loving people I’ve met and without them I would probably be a mess.

Reflection has reaffirmed my adoration for my friends; home, uni, lifelong and new, they have all filled my year with laughter and I am so grateful for them.

Most of all reflecting on this year has made me excited for the next and everything it has in store.

If you would like to be involved in writing, creating, reflecting for Cambridge Girl Talk, please do get in touch with us.

(Featured image designed by Soli Rachwal, source: femmagazine)

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