Storying Sheffield

Moving forwards to voice the sounds of the voiceless: Venturing into the academic world

Many thanks to Josie for this post which is cross-posted with permission from her blog The Scars Beneath my Skin

Today is the day I leave my humble abode in High Barnet to venture forwards to pursue my PhD at Royal Holloway.

During the past two years, I’ve experienced a turmoil of emotion from enduring the chaos of mania to wallowing in the lows of a severe depression. Throughout it all, my main prerogative was to help others and shine a light upon those who aren’t deemed worthy of a voice in society.

However, you cannot save the world if you yourself are ill. In order to move on, ‘progress’, ‘succeed’ and strive for a better place on this earth which we call home, we must be strong, well, and resilient beings.

Sadly, many times I have fallen to pieces, broken, shattered, and unable to understand why the world has given me so much trauma. Both physically and mentally I have felt split, and unable to glue myself together. It was only with the help of others and the wonderful creatures around me that I understood once again how to love, feel, and communicate.

As a young girl there was a moment in my life which summarises my ethics and central philosophy on life. Every year my family took all our gear and headed to a caravan site in the beautiful St Ives Bay in Hayle. One evening I took an interest in a group of girls who I wanted to be friends with. Stepping out of the toilet I found them there. I smiled and hoped for a signal of friendship back. Instead I was greeted with a harsh stamp to my foot; a girl smiled mockingly as I felt the pain seep through my nervous system. The next day a magician arrived on site. To my horror, I was chosen to demonstrate one of the magic tricks. The girls stared with envy — I wished for the ground to close in on me, why, oh why did I have to be chosen!

The demonstration ended and I decided to find my fellow ‘playmates’ in the park outside. They were all playing joyfully on the slide. With all my might I skipped over to them hoping they would accept me into their gang. I walked up the stairs of the slide to copy them and join in with their fun. Unfortunately, they decided it would be more of a pleasurable activity to place stones on the slide so that when I slid down the stones would graze my legs. I simply had had enough by this stage. I decided to do what all children do best: tell my Dad. A man who can provoke a considerable amount of fear within the human species, he marched down the club house stairs to protect his daughter from these attacks. The girls had decided to retrieve their Dad also. The men locked gazes. He took one look at my sturdy father and decided to retreat.

This story epitomises my persona: Despite being greeted with cruelty, I met them with a smile. Many times I have been hurt and yet I come crawling back to my oppressor in open arms. Kill them with kindness they say. The theorist Donna Haraway has this notion of ‘becoming-with’, where boundaries are broken and we enter an affective dance which unravels the construction we place in front of ourselves between our fellow beings and other animals. I no longer dance with my supposed enemies. I keep the borders intact in case I am hurt. However, I know that the cruelty inflicted upon me is always a reflection of their own insecurity. There are no enemies in the world. Binary thinking is a limited world view and antagonisms never result in any good.

So as I pack up my things and enter this new phase in life, I do so with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. I love everything about the world and its creatures, and I intend to fight endlessly so the sounds and pain of the vulnerable are heard.