A Farewell, A Thank-You, A Confession
When I first set foot in Falmouth I was a moody, naïve, 18-year-old. My life in Essex was a bit of a mess. I had just been uprooted from my home, forced to move in with my then-boyfriend. My world was small, quiet and boring. Nevertheless, I loved it. I thought that my life would never expand beyond an amicable relationship, trips to Lakeside Shopping Centre and Sunday lunch at 1 o’clock on the dot. I was actually happy with this, for a while. My mum dragged me to Falmouth University kicking and screaming, all the while insisting that it 'would be the making of me'. At the time I didn't realise that she was doing me the biggest favour a parent can do for their child. She forced me into a new, exciting world that proved to me that life can be a lot more than just agreeable.
I came to Falmouth already in a long-term relationship with a man who I was certain was going to be my partner for the rest of my life. Without knowing, I was hiding behind the relationship. It acted as a safety blanket, a buffer between my old life and my new, an excuse for not fully jumping into student-life and Cornwall. I made safe choices and didn’t push myself in any particular arena. I wasn’t engaging with my studies and passed with half-assed essays. Cloaking yourself in safety and comfort, hiding yourself from the world, is ultimately detrimental to your well being. I had to learn that the hard way. For the first year and a half I ghosted around Falmouth, only really half of myself. It felt as if I was rotting away. I could see all the new experiences around me fading into distant memories and I felt guilty. Guilty for wanting more than an amicable relationship, trips to Lakeside Shopping Centre and Sunday lunch at 1 o’clock. Guilty for suppressing myself, for not grasping this opportunity and being brave. A life half-lived makes you sick. You have to allow yourself to make mistakes, pull all-nighters and fall over pissed as a fart in Falmouth high-street.
Funnily enough, it was poetry that helped me come to this realisation. At the start of my third year, I started going to Poetry Presents on a Monday night. Every week I enjoyed a night of beautiful poetry, talking to creatives and found my way to the pub where I made friendships that cracked me open and allowed me to finally experience that aspect of life I was craving. These small interactions, that didn’t feel particularly ground-breaking at the time, created an image of a life I could live and thrive in. I met new types of people who had something new to offer me, who helped me piece together exactly why I was feeling so unhappy. For the first time in years I felt like I was stepping out from behind the cotton wool. I was heard, I was seen.
It was after one of these remarkably ordinary evenings that I sat in my back garden at 2am and forced myself to admit that I was no longer happy with the way I was living my life. Once you acknowledge that, there's no taking it back. That confession hangs in the air. It suspends above you, wraps you up in a ball of anxiety and restlessness until you set yourself free by being honest. As heart-breaking as this was, it was kind of refreshing to have all my stability crack and fall away from under my feet. I was left alone, held together by a few good friends and complete stubbornness on my part. Despite this, and many other events that happened over my final year, I graduated with a First. My friends and I survived all our heartaches by sharing cups of tea in the Lighthouse, curating playlists and making a joke out of everything. I am continuing to live in Falmouth with my best friends for another year. I am going to relish in a lost year; flitting from part-time to part-time, upcycling clothes and furniture, sitting on the swing chair chain-smoking and doing the small 'meaningless' things that I neglected for far too long.
So finally, I need to say thank you to my wonderful friends for making me feel like myself, to my lecturers for nurturing something in me that I couldn’t see and to Cornwall – for the starry nights and soothing sea (otherwise known as Cecilia). These wonderful experiences ruined 'easy life' for me and made me strive for more. To anyone who resonates with these feelings: don’t ignore yourself, find people who make you feel like yourself, allow your heart to break (because that’s what your 20's are for) and never underestimate the power of poetry because it can transform your life. This isn’t a goodbye to Falmouth but instead a goodbye to the life I used to lead. It’s a goodbye to a life half-lived and a goodbye to the future I almost settled for. This doesn't feel like an ending, only another beginning.
by Honeysuckle June Troubridge