This time last year, I never imagined that I would interview Brad Shultz from Cage The Elephant – a band that I absolutely love, and yet that is how I wound up spending my evening on ‘Palentines Day’. My friend was stranded in London because her car had broken down; she couldn’t get it fixed in time for the gig because it was a Sunday. I had also forgotten to pick up a refill for my anti-depressants earlier in the week. I hadn’t taken my medication for two days and honestly I was in hell.
I spent most of the weekend stressfully hunched over my laptop, furiously working on articles that were imminently due. At some point during the afternoon I woke up to a flashing green light on my phone indicating that someone, who had the misfortune of being my friend, had messaged me on Facebook. It’s scary to think that had I not charged my phone so I could read that message four hours before the gig, I might have missed out on what evolved to be an unforgettable night.
It turns out she also had an interview lined up! As excited as I was, my body had slowed down to a degree that was unbearable. It took me far longer than necessary to get ready. Coincidentally one of my best friends here at university agreed to be my Palentine for the evening. He was excited at the prospect of taking photos with my DSLR camera; between you and me he wasn’t half bad!
” It’s scary to think that had I not charged my phone so I could read that message four hours before the gig, I might have missed out on what evolved to be an unforgettable night”
A year ago I would have been too afraid to interview anybody, let alone Brad Shultz. Actually a year ago I would have been ashamed to admit how terrified I was of speaking to people. Before university I was petrified of people. Truthfully I found any form of social interaction obligatory and exhausting. Whereas now, though the latter is still true, the former certainly isn’t. I learned how to overcome my fear of speaking to people to a point where I can genuinely enjoy conversations with people, and am able to navigate them with an amount of competence and confidence that I have never had before.
The interview went incredibly well considering I had never interviewed anyone before. I was surprised that Brad Shultz and myself had so much in common. The conversation felt fated. I was struck by the depth of what he had to say, and how open he seemed to me challenging some of what he said. The show that followed was spectacular. I’m still struggling to believe I was actually there. Over the next few days I couldn’t help but reflect on my interview and everything that has changed between this year and the last.
A year ago the idea of taking medication really scared me. I was adamant that I didn’t need it, and admitting otherwise felt like a sign of weakness. Out of a misplaced sense of pride I thought I was resilient enough to deal with my problems without any real help. In retrospect the toll that my depression took on my friends and my family is a lot clearer now. I have lost people I once considered as close friends because of it, and by doing so woke up to the other friendships that I had forged during my time at university that I had overlooked.
Adjusting to my medication has been a struggle, and has hindered my academic efforts over. Nevertheless I am marginally more stable than I used to be, within myself and the relationships I maintain with people around me. This time last year I only saw my counsellor on a bi-weekly basis; I now see her weekly.
A year ago I figured out that I wanted to write, but I struggled to reconcile that with the fact that I was doing a Maths degree. Of course when I told my parents the weekend before I turned 20, their initial reaction wasn’t particularly supportive. I’m pretty sure my mum thought I was joking; she’s only recently realised that I wasn’t. She is actually sweetly supportive of the idea now. My dad on the other hand still struggles at times to hide his disappointment.
“A year ago I figured out that I wanted to write, but I struggled to reconcile that with the fact that I was doing a Maths degree”
To this end I reasoned that Impact would be a great place to start writing, so I got involved. The experience of doing that has been wonderful to say the least. I regret that I was too afraid to get involved before. Had I not chosen to get involved this year, I don’t think I would have ever known what I wanted to do with my life in the foreseeable future. If I hadn’t started by writing a gig review for Impact I don’t think my friend would have approached me about reviewing Cage The Elephant.
I suppose in a way the past year is comparable to that fateful weekend. There have been more setbacks than successes, but each failure – trust me there has and there still is plenty of that – is teaching me how to not dismiss my victories as being insignificant because of how infrequent they are. I’m learning to accept that everyone has the capacity to do truly great and equally unforgivable things, which is crucial to make my peace with certain things that have happened in the distant and recent past. I have learned how to value friendships because life is so much better with them, and you can never predict when a friendship will end so it’s best to appreciate it while it is still shared. Over the past year newer and in some ways stronger, more sincere friendships have emerged. I feel privileged that I get to call most of the people I’ve met here in Nottingham my friends. Come graduation I will miss them terribly and be forever in their debt; as well as the government’s but let’s not talk about that…
Embedded image: Vladimir via Flickr. Featured image: Fredrik Rubensson via Flickr