Tuesday, 6 September 2011

College and ... friends??

I started college two weeks ago. It was a little nerve-wracking, being among people again, but I've been watching how the other shop employees interact for a few months now, so that lessened the worry a bit. My Dad gave me some generic advice about "being myself" and "not feeling I have to make friends straight away" and all that. My Mum was a little more helpful, teaching me about tact and appropriate conversation topics. Her manner made me a little uncomfortable though. She seemed to be worried about me. I suppose it's reasonable. The last time I was in a learning environment I only lasted a matter of weeks. This'll be different though. I've grown up (a little) and college is a much more mature environment than school.

It took me a while to get used to calling my lecturers by their first names. I'm used to addressing people  (especially adults) by their title and second name. It feels nice though, makes them seem more approachable.

So anyway, the induction day was the week before I started. I was a little nervous that I might have to talk to people, but they crowded us into this tiny lecture room and nobody was talking to each other. Some of the lecturers stood at the front and introduced themselves. They told us a bit about the course (shouldn't we have already known that?), what to expect from "the college experience", and some general rules and guidelines. Then I had to wait about an hour to get my student card, because they decided they were going to take everybody's pictures one at a time in one mass photo-taking operation. Once I finally had my card I was taken on a very short tour of the college with a few other students. Then I was free to go home, and I stopped in town to get a bus card on my way back.

Day one was pretty uneventful. Apart from having to get up at half-past-five in the morning, everything went great. There were the inevitable ice-breakers at the end of each class, but I managed to keep my cool. I think I even got quite good at it by the end of the day. Something I've noticed is that my class-mates don't seem to change much from subject to subject. It's strange. I didn't think there would be that many young people who are interested in sciences. Of course, not all of them are young. I think the oldest person in my class is nearly forty. He said he's looking to change careers. Good luck to him. Given the current economic climate it must be hard for people to give up a stable job to go back into education.

Something I knew I'd be good at was Maths. Before my Mum decided to become a psychiatrist, she was training to become a Maths teacher, or so I'm told. She's still really enthusiastic about it, though, and I think I might have picked it up from her when I was young. As far as I can remember I've loved Maths. But anyway, back on subject. I keep finishing early in Maths. The lecturer has some extra problems, but I keep finishing them as well, so he just lets me do my own (quiet) thing once I'm done.

The first time it happened, I started drawing a picture of the eleventh Doctor being chased by a Slitheen, which was in turn being chased by a Dalek. But then, I saw Pete at the door, watching me. I checked to see no one was looking and I beckoned him in. So he sat down next to me and started talking. I couldn't talk to him, for obvious reasons, so I just wrote my responses and rubbed them out. I tried to be quiet, but sometimes I just had to chuckle. That's what we've been doing ever since.Whenever I have Maths, he comes along near the end and we have a little conversation.

Among my regular classmates there's two other girls who, for lack of a better term, are a little less conventional than most. They sought each other out and immediately started getting along, and then they started talking to me as well. It was a relief to me that I wouldn't have to go find someone and initiate first contact. They're pretty cool people. I won't tell you their names, but I'll call one A and one B. A likes alternative rock and metal. She's also a massive fan of Doctor Who, so we've got something in common there. She's got light blue hair, and wears sort of gothic clothing. B is a fan of techno and dubstep and stuff like that (which I don't personally mind, but I prefer music with more context), and she's really into comic books sorry, graphic novels. She's even recommended a few good ones to me. I'll maybe try to track them down if I get some spare time. (She borrows hers from her local library, which is why she can't lend me any.) B's hair is a violent shade of purple, and is very long indeed. I asked her if it was expensive to get her hair done like that. She told me she has a cranberry bush in her garden and she mixes the berry juice with some red cabbage water and uses that as hair dye. She may have been winding me up.

And we all love Star Wars! Only we all love different things about the series, so we never run out of things to discuss.

But anyway, yesterday, something amazing happened. On Mondays I have lunch just after Maths, and we were walking along to the big supermarket to get some food. Suddenly, A asked me what I was doing after I finished my Maths work. I didn't want to lie to them - after al, we were becoming friends - so I asked them if they could keep a secret, then I told them about my "mental illness". I was half expecting them to say they didn't want to be friends with a crazy person, but they didn't. At first they laughed. Actually laughed! And not in a derogetory way, either. B said she'd thought there was something different about me.  A said if that was who I am, then she was fine with it. I'm so happy that I'm crying right now.

For once in my life, I actually feel accepted.

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