Lately I’ve felt as though I’m living life in liminal spaces, existing beyond the boundaries of my past, whilst I am yet to cross the threshold of my future. I spent the summer travelling from country to country, shedding parts of my identity like a snake sheds its skin. I was constantly moving forwards, with each new location merely becoming bricks in the pavement I walked on, rather than a final destination.
Even when I finally returned to Glasgow, I spent two months living temporarily in my friends’ spare room, whilst I struggled to find a flat. And this only continued the feeling of being stuck in the in-between. I felt like I’d never find somewhere to live, that I would constantly be waiting for something that was never going to happen. I fell into a spell of situational depression, trapped in the mindset that nothing was ever going to change.
I moved into my new flat last Sunday. It felt like a victory against the slow-motion state I have existed in for the past two months. I felt like I had finally scored a goal in the game of Me vs. The Universe. And things feel better, to some extent. I live 15 minutes away from uni. My flatmate is a final-year PhD student, so she’s hardly ever around, which gives me the solitude I like. It’s a step up, I’m closer to where I want to be. Yet I still feel stuck in the liminal space.
Perhaps it’s like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and once you have satisfied the lowest level of the pyramid, you begin to seek what lies on the next level up. Perhaps I’m the kind of person who will never be satisfied with what she has. Or maybe it’s my traveller’s heart, with that insatiable desire to constantly be moving forward.
All I know is that I feel like there’s something missing in my life. There have been so many times lately where I’ve felt perfectly happy. Whether it was swaying to music in the cold air of Glasgow Green as I watched the fireworks display with my friends, or passing the autumn days in cosy coffee shops with good friends and new friends, there have been moments where I knew exactly where I belonged in the world, moments where I felt perfectly at home in other people’s company.
And then I would walk home alone, and a slow melancholy would creep through my bloodstream, making me shiver on the inside, because I could see that everything is temporary.
Perhaps November, too, is a liminal space. There are fewer than two months left of the year, and we stand in the doorway of 2018, waiting for next year to begin. It’s the time of year where it feels like nothing will change, that life will just be routine, at least until January. And I need change, just as much as I need routine.
I entered into my second year of university with high hopes and expectations. Because I had learnt from the mistakes of first year, and I had learnt from the time I spent alone during the summer. I came back to Glasgow and invested in fake leather jackets and black jeans, dark purple lipstick… Gone was the pink-and-purple-clad girl of last year. They say “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”, so I created a costume through which I could convince myself I had the potential to be cool.
Nowadays I wear more purple. I’m not the human Ribena bottle I was last year, but I’m a balance between Old Eliza and New Eliza. I’m a little bit closer to who I want to be, but I’m still hiding backstage, still lurking in the liminal spaces, because I don’t know how to cross the threshold onto the stage to claim the spotlight.
I am a tall girl, and I speak with a loud voice even when I whisper. I take up space in this world whether I want to or not. And I shouldn’t be afraid to claim the space that belongs to me.
When I came back from my travels, I felt as though I had undone all the progress I had made within the past year, that my social anxiety was worse than ever. I found it harder to trust people, harder to believe I was worthy of other people’s time and attention. It’s only within the past few weeks that I’ve realised just how far I’ve come.
People like me. For me. People like me and love me for who I am as a person, not in spite of my quirks, but because of them. I couldn’t comprehend that for so long, because it went against everything I ever believed. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this deep-rooted belief that people secretly hate me. But now I can recognise my negative thought patterns, and begin to unravel the threads that hold them in place. I can see that the only person telling me I’m not good enough is myself, the only person making me believe I don’t deserve the space I take up is myself.
I’ve been described as “intimidating” and “full-on”, and (my personal favourite) “you’re 99 percent sure she’s not going to kill you, but there’s that 1 percent…”, and it’s easy to take those descriptions as insults, as directions to retreat into my shell and hide from the space I occupy. But what if I were to claim that space instead? What if I were to stand up straighter, and own the five-feet-and-eleven-inch flesh cage that I reside in? What if I were to decide that yes, I can be intimidating and full-on, but that that is not a bad thing? After all, doesn’t it mean that I’m powerful?
I often feel reluctant to own my opinions, even on things which are really important to me. Every time I tell someone I’m vegan I worry that they’ll view me as a stereotype. Every time I say I like Taylor Swift or YA novels I expect people to judge me for still having the pop-culture taste of a teenager (I mean, I am still a teenager until January 28th…). And I forget that all these things make me who I am.
Yesterday I met up for coffee with a vegan friend of mine, and she said that if someone is vegan it says so much about who they are as a person. And it made me think a lot, because of course it does. When I tell people I’m vegan, perhaps they’re going to associate me with kale and quinoa and high-horses, but that is not what I am defining myself as. By living a vegan lifestyle I am sticking to my ethical beliefs, I am saving lives, I am making the world a better place, I am living with my heart, I am being the change I want to see in the world.
It is time for me to step out of the liminal spaces, to shake off the old Eliza and step into the new one. It is time for me to own my identity, to claim my space in the world, and say “this is me, take me or leave me.”
So I am Eliza. I am a tall, loud-voiced, overly-affectionate, Jeremy-Corbyn-supporting, vegan Taylor Swift fan, with a posh English accent (who isn’t posh at all), who loves her friends more than anything in the world, and gets excited every time she sees a puppy or cat. I talk fast, and I wear my heart tattooed on my forehead in purple ink. I am full-on, I am possibly intimidating, either by my speech or by my silence. I am a big believer in hugs, and kissing my friends on their cheeks, and telling people how much they mean to me. Above all, I am honest, and I live as honest a life as I can. I’m anxious and awkward in social situations, I’m terrible at small talk. I say exactly what comes into my head (which is great in improv, and not so great in real life). I shout my feelings into the void of the internet, and use real people as characters in my poetry (but don’t worry, I never mention them by name). This is me, and I don’t want to spend my life lurking in the doorway, waiting for the right time to step into the space that has always been mine. So I am taking the jump, I am leaving the liminal spaces behind, and crossing the threshold into my future.