“Welcome to Rhodes – I hope you enjoy studying here”, said the man at the counter. I grinned like an idiot. I don’t think even first years grin with such an overpowering glow of stupidity. Yes, in part the glow emanates from the place in me that likes the fact that Rhodes – a tiny little town-university in the Eastern Cape – actually feels like a cosy little university. Like a community, where my alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand never did. But the truly stupid part of my glow was coming from somewhere else. From the thrill of taking a tiny, but terribly significant, step in my life.
For those who may only know me via this blog, I have enrolled for a Postgraduate diploma in Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University. Years ago, I finished an honours degree in Computer Science and Archaeology (yes, Archaeology) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and have, in the intervening time, worked as a freelance website developer – fueling a growing enthusiasm for travel and exploring the world.
So many reasons to stay put in Johannesburg, settle in for a long-term routine and hope for material success. There was only one reason to go.
In recent years, though, I have been trying to reconcile a growing sense of being pulled towards the parts of my life invested in writing, travel and photography – something which my professional skills have blessed me with the flexibility to pursue increasingly often. That growing tension, though, between the aspects of my life I wish I could invest more of myself in, and the responsibilities that I feel I have towards those I work with and a society whose values largely measure importance in bank balance and the things you control, have been the subject of countless posts on this blog over the years. Until that moment at the counter, those forces had kept me perfectly frozen in a bizarre place. Able to articulate what it is I want to feel from my life, but not-yet-able to act in real accord with those thoughts.
I needed, I think, to be tipped.
It is thanks to Katherine for giving me a taste of life in Rhodes, and the courage to believe that you can adapt a life to pursue dreams. It is thanks to Alinka for planting the specific seed somewhere along the line, of converting a love for stories and photography into the PGDip qualification, specialising in photojournalism. Neither of you, despite my endless offers of assistance, have blogs. So you don’t get to have the customary name-as-link thanks. But you are both precisely the strange little perfect storm that made me, eventually, get my papers together and go to Grahamstown to enroll.
This is why I was smiling like an idiot. I was intoxicated with the crisp, fresh freedom of making a grand change of direction for myself, by myself. Sure, I can continue working productively from Grahamstown – the internet is good, and, if anything, I suspect I may be even mildly more productive – but its the idea of changing so much about my physical and social surrounds which is such a rush. There were so many reasons not to apply. Not to pursue a new and enriching direction. So many reasons to stay put in Johannesburg, settle in for a long-term routine and hope for material success. There was only one reason to go.
Because I really, truly, deep down in my heart of hearts, want to pursue this thing that I enjoy so much into the places that it must take me.
And so I went.