Friday, 11 September 2015

Gadding About in Oxford

It’s always satisfying to see work come to fruition. Over the last few months, there’ve been plenty of projects I’ve quietly spent my time on – writing and shoots and other exciting ways to creatively fill my days. I’ve passed plenty of afternoons hunched over my laptop (drinking an awful lot of caffeine), had the occasional very early morning, and indulged in the odd half hour of obsessively refreshing my inbox.

Occasionally it can feel like there’s some sort of gap between putting in all the hours and assembling stuff, and then waiting for the point where you can share it with others. At times, it’s a nice kind of anticipation however - one where you know that good things are waiting just over the horizon. Right now, there are still various bits of work hovering out there that I’m excited to see come to light soon-ish.

In the meantime though, here’s one I can share. It’s a lovely little project I worked on with Jack Wills. Fabulously ace, inventive wonder-woman Jenny came and hung out with me in Oxford for an afternoon. I sprawled on my bed reading books, wandered around the city and stopped off at Quarter Horse for a natter over coffee and banana bread. The aim of the day? To gather some thoughts on all the things I can’t live without. We snapped pictures a-plenty and I darted around my room finding stuff like my essential item (it’s a corkscrew, by the way) and my lucky token (an owl necklace I’ve had for years). All of this was assembled into an entirely delightful collage, alongside a feature that you can go and read over on the Jack Wills blog. Includes mention of Kate Bush, Virginia Woolf, lipstick, and lace skirts, as well as lots of other images.. 

The whole collaboration got me thinking about where I am right now, this month, standing on the edge of my third and final year at Oxford. Earlier today I had a piece published on the NUS blog where I talked about how it’s ok to not be ok when you first get to uni. I talked there about how I initially struggled, saying: 

“There were lots of other unexpected things to negotiate too: a creeping feeling of my own inadequacy (in various ways); deeply missing family mealtimes and my dad’s laughter; anxiety over how I viewed myself and how others viewed me; questioning what I used to define my character and sense of self; frustration at not immediately finding some marvellous new friendship group, as plenty of others seemed to have done. I felt uprooted and at odds with myself.”

It feels pretty special to look back on that time, and recognize how far-removed it seems now. All of those anxieties and moments of upset have dissolved since. There’s no more pacing around the park crying on the phone to my parents. Well, at least, it’s very, very rare now… The loneliness is long-gone, and I feel privileged to know a wonderful bunch of people in this city of all ages (moral of the story being: make friends with the people who serve you coffee). I have my favoured hangouts and hidden spots – the best places to swim outdoors, the charity shops most likely to yield up gems, and the cafes, oh the cafes! I've also recently moved into a flat that looks like a proper home inhabited by adults, rather than a slightly grotty student property where you’re not surprised to see the odd slug in the bathroom. (Side point: my new household is so delightfully on the margins of pretentiousness that we really do actually have a blue vintage typewriter in our living room. Visual evidence here).

On top of all that, there are so many glorious snippets and golden memories to keep a tight hold of too. Adventures, escapades, languorous afternoons, raucous nights, endless conversations, new encounters, early morning walks, huge communally cooked breakfasts… the lot. There's also been laughter and books and cocktails and intensity and plenty of evenings where I was meant to stay in and work, yet somehow ended up spontaneously dancing until the small hours.

It has not been an easy two years either, for all sorts of reasons.  In fact, at times it’s been bloody horrible. The image assembled in the previous paragraphs has a sort of sheen to it – constructed as it is from all the cherry-picked glittery ‘best bits’. To acknowledge a true and whole image I’d have to balance up good and bad side by side. Yet I feel overwhelmingly privileged on the whole. There've been challenges, but I have stability, community, friendship, and, you know, some really great additions to my wardrobe. I also have lots of looming academic deadlines, so now I’m off to the library. Essays are calling…

Thanks to Jack Wills. It was a blast. Clothes credits over on their blog. 



Closet Fashionista said...

I love these photos of you! Especially the second one, beautiful!
And yes, secret projects are so fun! I just finished up one myself and it went up a couple days ago. (Redid a friend's podcast website. We had many late nights working on it and even stayed up ALL night one night to finish it....sheesh!)
Can't believe it's almost your 3rd year at Oxford, I remember reading when you first got in! :D

Lally said...

What a lovely ode to your time at university. There is so much pressure in first year what with trying to fit in both socially and academically. I think I didn't really find my feet until late on in my second year and by the start of the third I felt truly at home. Then it was gone as quickly as it had started so all I would offer you in the way of advice is to treasure every fleeting moment even if it feels terribly stressful at times! Third year was glorious for me in so many ways and I'm sure it will be for you too! XXX

Vix said...

Your third year? Where does the time go?
These are wonderful photos, your hair looks particularly beautiful. xxx

Melanie said...

Already? Third year? I read your piece for NUS - I hope lots of students find it because it's settling to know you're not alone, especially when someone who looks "put together" on the outside is in fact trying to find solid ground.

As for Jack Wills - stellar photos. Out of all of them, my favourite is the one of you at your desk. The best part is when those projects start to fly. Hang on! Buy yourself some goggles.

Sofie Marie said...

oh dear, I'll have to wait to read your NUS piece, just because I'm also working on a piece of writing about my first year troubles and reflections!! I'm almost jealous that you've won me to the race :P (I joke, I imagine hundred have already wrote good stuff about this anyways....!!)


good luck with third year :)

Ivana Split said...

University time....lots of challanges, sometimes so many that we forget what a privilege it is to study and to able to let our mind wander and grow. It is a privilege that many don't have, so all of us who had this opportunity should be grateful.

I absolutely loved these photographs of you. Working on creative projects can feel isolating at times, but it can also make us feel like we're in a magical place of our own.

Suzy said...

I love reading your blog!
Just wanted to say keep writing because you're doing a great job!
Also, you are very beautiful! ♥

Have a WONDERFUL weekend!
With love,
Suzy ( ˘ ³˘)♥



Wow, it's been two years in Oxford already? You've managed to sum it up
in such a thoughtful, vividly descriptive, and real way. Of course, I adore creative little projects, and a bit secretive, all the better. I also like that you are aware of your privileges, yet still allow yourself room to grow/learn through your uni experiences. Congrats on the flat, and what a great set of photographs here, and feature on the JW blog as well. :-)

Lola Byatt said...

Oh how I wish I discovered you in my first year of uni and how great it would have been for blog post you wrote for nus to have existed during that first, lonely, confusing year. I would miss my mum and my sister so much! and there were times when I felt so desperately alone. It's hard for me to believe that someone as brilliant and amazing as you went through similar sort of feelings which is silly because there are no rules as to who can feel a little alone/miss their parents. I did eventually make some really brilliant friends who stuck by me through everything, who turned my weaknesses into my strengths and would always, always make me laugh (and still do!)

I really enjoyed reading your post with Jack Wills and I absolutely LOVe the white blouse you're wearing xx

Danielle Olavario said...

Gorgeous photos! <3

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