“Snowstorms are coming, the heart is cooling”

→ My first day back at university was not as bad as I was expecting. It wasn’t good, either. It just was. It was terribly anticlimatic, really. I had two introductory lectures- one on safety, and another talking about the structure of third year. Both were dull and a lot of it I already knew. Socially, it was of course awkward. I got through the first lecture unnoticed, thankfully, but at the start of the second lecture I caught the eye of someone who I’d met in Malaysia, who is now taking a year abroad at my university. I remembered a close friend’s advice and did my best to ask questions, and listen to the response and ask more questions to keep the conversation on their side, unfortunately conversation does require that the other person also ask questions sometimes, and it is in trying to talk about myself or my feelings that I fail miserably. I have a habit of misinterpreting what people are asking, mostly because I have a habit of never catching the full question, and I have a habit of saying one thing when I really meant another, or wished to say something else.

After about 5 minutes of this fumbling, awkward excuse for conversation I caught the eye of someone I never expected to see – my close friend, the one who is now in fourth year. My friend from Malaysia had just asked me about my friends here, in the UK, (aka why I was sitting alone) and I was more than relieved to catch my close friends’s eye then, so I did not have to answer that question (I don’t have any friends in my year, is just such a awkward thing to explain to people) My close friend came over and we talked, then she left, and thankfully the conversation with my Malaysian friend moved on, although it was no less stilted and awkward. The second lecture passed, we attempted conversation some more, then parted. I thought about all the things I could have said as I walked home. How much better I could have presented myself. Isn’t that always the way?

→ I really cannot remember this guy’s name. My Malaysian friend. It’s right on the tip of my tongue but I just cannot remember.  I’m really terrible aren’t I?

→ This year, a large part of my marks is coming from a group project. an unsupervised group project. The enormity of undertaking something like this only hit me during that second lecture today and it is now on my list of things to fret about.  I am praying that I get my first choice project. It’s all simulation based, and I think I could manage that. I struggle to remember my other project choices, and I’m to scared to look, least I was idiotic enough to choose anything with a practical aspect. I know, I’m an electrical and electronic engineering who cannot solder. It’s a bit not good.

→ I joined a society this evening! I was talking to my Father on the phone, and he reminded me that I’d said I was going to join the rambling and hillwalking society at university. Of course, I had remembered that I had wanted to, but by this point I had already convinced myself not to sign up. My father encouraged me though, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised I really did want to join. I’ve climbed two mountains this year and I loved it, but I also struggled. I needed a lot of support from my father to get through those climbs. So I’d like to walk more often- just long treks through the countryside, up hills, to build up some confidence when it comes to walking, which will hopefully translate to having more confidence and independence when hiking. I’d really love to climb another mountain next year, I don’t know which one, but I want to climb something. I say this hesitantly, but I think I may have found something active I actually like.

I hope joining this society doesn’t ruin it for me. I’m worried about the social aspect, of course, and I’m also worried about how the walks will work- I’m anaemic, I get out of breath, sometimes I need to slow down for a little bit before returning to a more normal, brisk pace, sometimes I need to stop, just for a moment, to catch my breath and take a sip of water. It’s one thing being sweaty and out of breath, or needing to stop, or tripping up/slipping when you’re with family, its quite another around strangers. I’ve signed up for a walk this Sunday anyway (really, I have no idea where this burst of confidence and assertiveness came from tonight). I’m thinking I’ll just choose the easiest walk option, just to get a feel of it. Really, I’ve climbed hills before. I’ve climbed mountains. I can do this. Maybe.

→ I find I grow to hate things when they become too serious- I grew to hate music when it all became about passing exams, I grew to hate archery in first year when it all became about competition. There are things which I don’t want to be about competition, or getting a grade, but about enjoying it for its sake. I’m not competitive by nature, I work hard at my degree and strive to do well, but that’s all. And that’s my degree. Yes, that’s maybe also a reason I’m worried about this. I’m worried it will become too serious, and will stop being a relaxing thing I do every now and then, and become a chore.

→ On the subject of walking, I was talking to my father on the phone and he tentatively agreed to walking with me in the peak district in the winter! When we went to Japan we attempted to climb Mt Odake up in Aomori, despite terribly snowy conditions and it went terribly wrong. Of course it went wrong (I should really get around to writing that entry, because the story is pathetic, but the pictures are stunning). We weren’t prepared for those conditions, had no experience climbing in them really. I was scared the whole time, and both of us gained minor injuries from slipping. So why on earth would I want to put myself through this again?

I just think it would be good to do something I am afraid of.

This time, I want to do it properly. Proper equipment, an easier walk (i.e. flat). I think it could be much more fun if done properly, and I’d like to conquer the fear that Odake put in me when it comes to walking and hiking. It was the first time it hit me that actually walking/hiking is fairly dangerous. Once you’ve realised that, there’s no going back. The fear doesn’t leave you – that things can go wrong, very, very easily. I don’t want to be afraid. I want to do this dangerous thing, and realise that it can be done, despite the dangers. (Admittedly, once we got down from Odake I felt exhilarated. I’d been lost, injured, afraid but I’d gone ~300m up that mountain, and ~300m down it, in conditions I was in no way prepared for and I’d survived. There is something to be said for that feeling. Perhaps that is what I’m seeking out. Maybe its not about conquering fear, but about adventure. I’ve never considered myself adventurous though, so I’ll stick to my fear theory.)