Forever a small fish in a big pond

Thursday, 15 February 2018

I was a little girl in a very big city!




One promise I made to myself when I first started University was that I would take every opportunity I was given. Considering the journey, I have taken to get to this point- I want to embrace it. However, when an opportunity arose to travel 350 miles across the world and experience life in Belgium for a week, I was tempted to break my promise. 4 months into Uni life, I was still faced with the weekly battle of commute, the travelling still hurt, the train journeys still daunted me, life away from home even for a couple of days a week still filled me with anxiety- so how on earth was I to prepare myself for such a trip.

In the weeks leading up to our departure, my doubt grew more each day, as did my jealousy of my fellow classmates, to them it was a free holiday, a chance to explore and discover the world, a trip of a lifetime... I wished for it to be that for me to, I wished that the nights it kept me awake was due to excitement not fear, I wished that the conversations had about it filled me with joy, not dread. I wished that for once I could just do and be like everyone else. As they planned their trip I heard them talk about the things they wanted to see, what they wanted to buy... They had so many questions, like where's the nearest bar? What's the food like? My questions however, were a little different...

Where are we staying- Can I access our hostel facilities independently? Can I reach the beds? The showers? Door handles? Light switches?
How far are we walking-Will I be able to manage the distance each day? How high are the pavements? Are they flat? Are there stairs? Will I be able to keep up walking with the rest of the group?
What is the culture like? Has Belgium people ever seen dwarfism before?
CAN I EVEN PHYSICALLY MANAGE TO GET ONTO THE COACH TO GET US THERE?!

That's it. I'm not going. I had decided. It wasn't worth the hassle- and besides no one would want to be burdened with me. Now don't get me wrong, my classmates, my tutors, they're lovely and have accepted me unconditionally since day one, however, they had yet to see me outside of student life, they had yet to see just what life with a little person entails, so far, they had only seen the strong me, the confident me, the me that didn't let life get in her way... I finally had a network around me where no one had belittled me, no one pointed the finger, no one saw me as anything other than just myself. After 12 years in education, never quite fully accepted, I finally had it. And I was going to let nothing take that away-So no, I'm not going.

But by this point... it was a little too late... we were well on our way.... 350 miles away from home.... 350 miles away from everything I had ever know and more to the point had known me. As we stepped foot in Bruges I knew I was about to embark on a journey that had ever potential to break me if I let it.

But I didn't.

Fast forward two weeks as I write this, and still I am trying to take in what was a whirlwind of an experience. I find it hard to put into words... (See my vlog- "A Belgium babble" for the in's and out of my emotions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUzUshSSnm), However two do spring to mind... Life. Changing. In some ways Belgium was everything I feared it to be, physically I exhausted myself each and every day- I pushed myself to my limit. But whilst doing so I also realised that my limits weren't what I thought they were. Despite the pain and the physical weight, I felt on my shoulders, I still got up and embarked on each day's adventure, despite anxieties I mixed with people I'd never met... despite my desire to stay in my comfort zone, I grabbed every opportunity Belgium gave me. I fulfilled my promise.



And ok, I had to ask for help every now and then... But doesn't everyone? Ok, granted, my class mates may not ask me to reach stuff for them (If they did we'd be screwed) but I'm pretty sure in the next three years I'll come in useful for something. One day they'll look to me in a time of need... when they drop a pen on the floor for example...😜 My point is, we can't all do everything, we all have different skills, different talents.... reaching things off tall shelves or climbing 20 flights of stairs just happens to not be one of mine! But that doesn't make us any less of a person than those next to us, and maybe yes, my trip required a little more planning than my class mates, perhaps I did have more to consider than they did. But despite what I first thought, the trip was for me, everything it was for them and in fact was even more.

Because I didn't just get to discover the world, I also discovered myself.





Dedications: A few special thank you's...

To my USW girls,
For being the best bunch of friends, I could ask for. Thank you for making me feel 6ft tall!💗💗

To my tutors,
Mick... For such a fantastic opportunity, which taught me more than I could've ever anticipated
Hannah... For helping me spread my wings but also for being there at times where I forgot how to fly

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