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Been talking to myself forever. And how I wish I knew me better

The lyrics had been bouncing around my head for the last two days. Some songs come and go, others stick in your brain when they happen to strike the right note and refuse to leave. This is one of those this morning. Intellectual house guests with no shame in overstaying their welcome. Hanging on until you find the right person to pass them onto. Waking up for my first lecture as a journ student, they were still kicking around, terrible at taking a hint.

Some want to be war correspondents. Others want to write fiction. One guy wants to do lifestyle pieces in the newspaper.

It’s a short walk to class in the February sun that I have no doubt I will come to miss dearly when Grahamstown’s winter arrives at some distant point. There is a coffee shop two doors up from me. The proper kind, where they grind the beans and draw the espresso in front of you. Realising I can leave my front gate and have a brand new coffee in my paws in less than five minutes, I can see habit that will be quick to learn and impossible to defeat. Such glee.

Five minutes to coffee. Fifteen to the journalism building. Exactly enough time to finish drinking without burning myself. Everything fits like it was meant to.

One by one, my classmates and I claim our seats randomly in the seminar room. Little fiefdoms from which we smile and try to learn a little more about each other. Stories are slow to be exchanged. Nerves and wondering – trying to fit little boxes onto each other, I guess. It’s the easiest first move in any room full of strangers. But it doesn’t last as the course coordinator pushes each of us for our stories in turn. Who are you? What has your journey to this room over the years entailed?

On an initial telling, each of our stories are nothing like the others; nothing like I had imagined. Some seem to have traveled half the world. Some not at all. Some want to be war correspondents. Others want to write fiction. One guy wants to do lifestyle pieces in newspapers.

It’s what is not explicitly said in the many stories of the journeys to this room, to wanting to learn what each of us thinks it is we will learn here, that is really interesting. Almost everyone has made a commitment to pursuing something different to the life they knew before. To realise some unquantifiable desire to do something that means something. It’s a particular energy lacking in undergraduate courses. In places where people are moving in a direction that they have not wholly chosen for themselves.

In this room, everyone has explicitly wanted this. Has sacrificed something to be here. Some narrate long and fascinating paths. Others say more in the details they leave out. I can see already that there may be an energy to this year that only a room full of conviction might create. When paths that people have chosen, that they believe in intersect, really interesting things can happen.

Never seen the sun shine brighter. And it feels like me on a good day.