15 Jun

You left school with dreams of becoming a monumental social activist: a journalist who would change the world with their startling representation of the truth and a musician who would get people thinking, not only dancing.

You were going to stand on stages. You were going to be happy all the time. You were going to be as full and colourful as you had been in high school, when your lectures were the size of tuts and feeling like you were doing something with your life was as simple as being elected house captain of the house that happened to win that particular year; getting up an hour or two before school to scribble up a design for the Matric jacket; understanding e.e. cummings a little bit better than old-fashioned Mr. Burton did.

When, upon exiting the school gates for the final time, you felt the shock of the world that had been yours since you were small enough to cry when you were scared no longer belonging to you, you told yourself that the emptiness was so big because there was so much coming to fill it. So much excitement, you wouldn’t even look back.

The first thing they taught you at the university was that objectivity is a myth: that meaning is constructed and chosen, not captured, and even activists are biased. They point out to you, little eighteen-year-old ignorant blissful you, that Racism has not left the building, but walks around openly with Sexism and Megalomania, constructing walls for people to crash into and collecting ammunition for the benefactors of the Free Market. Only you: the privileged few, a small enough number to be told to feel proud about having made the academic cut – and to be outnumbered by advertisements – can see them.

You suddenly feel small. You find yourself going out at night more and more and more: seeking thrills from music so loud that it drowns out your thoughts and forces you to dance until it’s difficult to breathe.

You feel alienated from your friends because you don’t like the idea of chemical escapism and you refuse to support the alcohol industry’s shameless marketing of destruction of – but not limited to – the self.

People tell you you’re making a stupid decision in saving your virginity for someone you’re sure you’ll spend the rest of your life with, but if you tell them they’re stupid in not doing so it’s bigoted; closed-minded (an idea of no financial benefit to multiple industries whose marketing campaigns propagate ideology normalising promiscuous sex).

Your music is too slow and contemplative to dance to, too thought-provoking for the background-music gigs whose lineups you manage to push into. Your covers are too raw as well: it seems many would rather hear the polished, electrified, mass-marketed original.

Your laptop gets old and slows down, making it extraordinarily time-consuming to edit and publicise your photographs, so you don’t. Ideas in your head for art pieces stay ideas. The internet in your digs is too unreliable for you have posted on your blog in nearly six months, and none of these things seem to matter anymore.

You’re no longer perturbed by ballet and its unnatural bodily shapes. Nothing feels natural anymore, and when you’re dancing and constantly telling yourself “head up, shoulders back, back straight, stomach in, thighs taut, legs straight, feet turned out” there’s no room for any other thoughts. Your calves begin to ache all the time because you dance so much, even alone in your room sometimes, and sneaking strings of pirouettes down the university’s brick pathways at night when no-one (you know) is looking.

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One Response to “”

  1. brettfish 23 May 2013 at 4:21 PM #

    wow Michelle great post. i guess it all depends where you go from here. most of us get hit in the face by the realisations and analyses you make here and most give up or give in or surrender i think. but it’s up to you to take the fight you have and the spirit that got you this far and the hopes that are looked down upon as ‘idealised’ but are in fact truthful and completely hopeful [the world just isn’t ready to recognise that kind of hope] and so i encourage you to push forward, hold strongly to those values you have and hold to and fight the good fight and keep on keeping on and know there are people cheering from the sidelines as you do…love the look of your blog!

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