Breaking out of the shoebox

Isla Cowan 3 October 2014

So, yes, when I was in Primark last week, I did buy pyjamas which say “everybody loves a Scottish lassie” on them. And, yes, it was with the intent of bringing them to University. And, yes, I am now seriously regretting those six precious pounds that I spent. What an earth was I thinking? That this would miraculously make me likeable, that I’d somehow be cool and different because I was from the far and exotic land north of the border?

I’ve come to realise that this act of impulse buying was simply a way of reaching out for something to define me ahead of the long trip to Cambridge. Having relished the thought of leaving school for years, I’m beginning to fear having to leave behind the familiarity of the place. They may not have been the best days of my life (or I really hope they weren’t!) but, at least, I had an identity. I knew who I was, who I was supposed to be.

From the early days of high school, people made assumptions about my personality and, although often accurate, these assumptions ensured that I was shoeboxed into a type of person and a role to fulfil. I was never a funky high-top or a stiletto heel. I was the sensible shoe. I worked hard and took school seriously. However, I know that at Cambridge, I will be among many other sensible shoes, and that that will no longer be my defining trait. I have always had interests and hobbies, such as writing and performance, which I am very passionate about, but, they have never been what I am, rather, things that I do, and my reputation has always been built around my work ethic– the work ethic which has brought us all here.

As cliché as it sounds, I do hope I will “find myself” at University as a whole world of opportunities is opening up to me. I think I will still bring the embarrassing pyjamas, yet, I now hope that at my college I will not remain “the Scottish lassie” for long but become a real person, who exists outwit the limitations of a shoebox. And, hopefully, in three years time, I can look back at my pyjama choice and laugh at that insecure, lost little girl.