Welcome to the new, and what I hope you’ll agree is improved Aimless Wondering. For those who do not know me, I am Fred Gough, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and views in this little corner of the online world.
Many might be unaware, but this is the second coming of Aimless Wondering. Initially, I had designed and developed the blog in the last few weeks of 2016 and launched on New Year’s Day 2017. The blog, at that point, had many audacious ambitions attempting to cover a wide variety of content.
This blog post is dedicated to my parents following their support and help through what has been the most challenging period of my life to date, and every day I am thankful for that level of unconditional love.
This episode of my life begins in the early Autumn months of 2016 and explains why I am back determined to make Aimless Wondering better for all.
The origins of Aimless Wondering
I felt that the 2010s was a defining decade that oversaw changes in my life, and with it, I steadily began to feel more confident in myself from my mid-20s. During that period, I began to feel I wanted to do new and exciting things, explore new places, find out more about the world we live in, and spread out to give my life more purpose.
One of the many ideas that swirled around my mind was to start a hobby blog. So, therefore, the first thoughts of what would become Aimless Wondering were conceived.
I also began to develop different ideas for blog posts and the motivation to create the blog. Soon my head began to feel like an enlarging balloon ready to burst upon the scene, and I picked the start of 2017 to launch many new chapters in my life, which would see me explore further new avenues later that year. So in the Autumn of 2016, I laid the foundations of what I hoped to be the start of a new and exciting era for me by using my self-taught skills of web development to produce the first version of what would become Aimless Wondering.
New Beginnings (2017)
As 2016 began to conclude, I carefully planted the seedlings of a new dawn and a new beginning in my life. I knew I wanted to start the new year with a positive force of energy and use the adrenaline from my confidence to fuel me as I prepared to make new ground. Another of these changes began when I decided at the end of a November city break to the Catalan city of Barcelona that I wanted to look for a new vocational route. I had spent over nine years at the same employers, and I wanted to fly from the nest and try my hand at something which tested my abilities and continued my self-growth and development.
I frivolously looked at roles that would give me more purpose and new energy. I disclosed my thoughts with selected confidants before looking into a career in Occupational Therapy. After stumbling across the health and social care role and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website. Following seeing that I would need a degree to pursue this newly discovered direction, I was pleased to see that the University of Derby, which was a stone’s throw away, was a place I could study the field.
As I kept busy with investigating more into this vocation, I was also actively working on Aimless Wondering’s first design, my then day-to-day job, and my involvement with local politics. My mind was positively buzzing with the adrenaline from taking on all these pursuits. The main difficulty I found was keeping quiet about this exciting opportunity to further my education. I knew now was the time to do something meaningful and something which gave my life a new direction.
My hopes for Aimless Wondering from the start of January 2017 were to chart this new direction and grow my audience by discussing topics that I felt would be of interest to a diverse group of people along with covering current affairs, which affected my interests and hobbies. I would write blog posts sporadically, and I also hoped to inform my audience of my inner voice, which sometimes can be a bit shy.
Due to the fast and furious nature within the winds of change, I began writing blog posts with great intentions and to carry on at pace, but 2017 got busier, and the blog posts for Aimless Wondering became less frequently written despite it being a therapeutic way to slow my mind down.
All of this started with attending an Open Day at the university on my 28th birthday. Then there was arranging the opportunity to shadow working Occupational Therapists before my interview to confirm my place upon the course and informing my employers I was to leave. I was also working towards the campaign for the 2017 General Election and helping my parents move house while I relocated myself as well into the University of Derby’s halls of residence accommodation.
My final summer working went pretty quick as my colleagues found out I was moving on. I also took a hiatus from political activism as I saw that my time would be limited. By early September, I began living away from my parents for the first time in my life, although I had some slight experience of this when I was younger spending a night a week boarding at primary school.
Timidly I found my feet and confidence as I settled into the lifestyle of a full-time student, dealing with a new routine and working patterns. I formed new relationships and friendships within the diverse group of keen learners. The early days in halls of residence were a roller-coaster. My mood swung from high to low despite the continuing excitement, often leaving me breathless with the expectations and demands of this new journey. I had no regrets of making these choices even if Aimless Wondering lay gathering dust.
Thankfully my parents had not moved too far away and were supportive as could be as I kept them updated with the busy life I was creating as I took the opportunity to be one of the cohort’s student representatives. I threw myself into as many opportunities and still had plans to discuss all of this on the Aimless Wondering blog. However, I had become much busier than I initially expected to be.
By the time the first anniversary of Aimless Wondering came around, I had written roughly a post a month, which I felt was not good enough. Many of these had been in the Spring and early parts of the Summer. My Festive break over December saw me spend the most time back with my parents since before taking the plunge, however, my energy was too low to write blog posts. So I pushed away from doing so.
Going through hell and back (2018)
January 2018 saw long, cold nights and wearisome minds as I learned extensive physiology and psychology, more technical than I had done via my Sports Science A-Level done a decade before, along with attempting to improve my interpersonal and communication skills. These modules would continue to help build knowledge ahead of the first chance of placement. Which would take place in the Spring, blogging on Aimless Wondering would have to one thing continuing to wait for me to return to along with my social life outside those I had befriended at the university either on my course, the lecturing team or other students.
I returned home for my birthday weekend at the end of February, somewhat tired from the first three-quarters of the academic term complete and feeling under the weather. However, a rest and recuperation time spent with my parents meant I could start work on the final push of assignments. A trip to the dentist followed caused anxiety and intrusive thoughts as my mental well-being began to slip behind the mask. My parents once again attempted to give reassurance as I worked diligently for the final push of academic work and awaiting news of where I would going on my first placement.
During an Easter break, I found out my fate in the final assignments and where I would spend ten weeks between mid-April and late June. Again, my Mum and Dad helped me feel as confident as I could be in this new environment by helping me decide what bus to catch from the bus station and where I should get off. Following a pre-placement visit, I felt relatively calm about what my time would be like in the real world using the obtained knowledge.
It was encouraged to document our reflections throughout the experience; I felt this would be a perfect opportunity to revive Aimless Wondering. My first proper day wearing the uniform I had been measured for weeks before was the day before my Dad’s birthday, thankfully, it was a steady start. I returned to my accommodation fatigued but determined to write about my first day.
Unfortunately, I forgot to be confidential about information relating to the patient I visited with my educator. Once the post went live on Aimless Wondering, I was encouraged by lecturers who had been hawk-eyed to my social media presence, to remove the blog post which I apologetically did so. The day after did not go as well, either. As my addiction to keeping in contact via phone with others saw me evaluated, and saw me reprimanded about my professionalism.
Following that, I focused upon the job in hand; however, the tiredness and meeting new faces, both of patients and members of the team, made my mood sink. I felt completely out of my depth, and by the time of my half-way report and face-to-face consultation with a member of the lecturing team came to visit, I was not hitting the expectations of me. I burst into tears, fearing failure.
Additional things knocked my confidence further down, such as one morning the bus I was on broke down, causing me to worry about my arrival time. After eight grueling weeks and only briefly showing glimpses of the ability to beat social anxiety, I was informed that I had no chance of passing the placement. I felt very bittersweet and started to get myself for what my next actions would be.
After talking through the options with my parents and the lecturing team, I decided to get back on the metaphorical horse and attempted to go back out on placement during my summer break. Life back home was stressful due to my parents leaving the rental property they had called home since the Autumn and looking to move to a permanent residence. This moment was no time to blog and start-up Aimless Wondering again. I also attended some brief counselling sessions and visited my local GP and looked to pursue a diagnosis for Autism.
One week before I was due to start the placement, I found out where I would spend my next attempt at an Occupational Therapy placement. The news felt heavy, but I had no choice. I accepted it and made the sacrifices to spend my summer in hospital accommodation. I moved in two days before starting the second attempt. The first five working days went relatively smoothly despite the hot, humid weather outside. I had agreed to return “home” for the weekends, so I got some social time outside of the working environment. As temperatures outside increased further, so did my anxiety, and on two mornings, I accidentally locked myself out of my room following my early morning shower.
I began week three with determination to do the right thing, and my Dad decided to spend the Monday evening with me as he was spending the night roughly an hour away. During an innocent conversation, my confidence mask slipped to the ground, and once again, I was crying this time uncontrollably. My Dad did not want to leave me to go to his place of rest for the night, but I promised I would call him before starting the next working day to inform him of my sleep. I didn’t sleep. I lay in the bed rigid and unable to move, focus, switch my mind off, dreading my alarm.
At 5 a.m., I called my Dad; he had expected this. He came to the hospital and my room following instructing me to shower and wait in my room. While in there, we made the decision I had to walk away from this living hell. It was apparent that my mental health was too fragile to carry on.
He kindly helped me get all arrangements dealt with on my behalf. He spoke to those within the team I had been working with over the past fortnight. As well as those back at the university of what mindset I was in and what we had agreed. It was the hardest metaphorical pill to swallow, but it was the only one I could take to make the pain go away.
We made our way back home, quietly, before seeking solace in my bedroom. Several weeks went by without my mind paying much attention to the world around me. Short bits of exercise got me up and out of bed, but my determination for self-care was low. Eventually, I decided to try and transfer to a new course at the university; however, I had no idea of which one. This thought wave led me to contact different lecturing teams.
Regaining confidence in myself (Late 2018 to Present Day)
Eventually, after several meetings with various programme course leaders, I settled on moving to the first year of an undergraduate degree in Writing and Publishing. I said my goodbyes to the Occupational Therapy cohort, explaining I had withdrawn from the programme and received some touching messages of support and with many wanting to remain in close contact despite the change of direction.
Shortly before commencing on the next pursuit, another blow to morale affected my balance. Student Finance England would not offer a tuition loan. After all, I had been through; this felt like another weight to carry. Thankfully my parents and I agreed on how we would operate as I was persistent that I wanted to get a degree.
As the term moved forward and my life began to get back on track, Following sessions with clinical psychologists, I received the news I expected, and this confirmed my diagnosis of Autism and Dyspraxia. Getting diagnosed with these neurological conditions has offered me support for the remaining years at the university.
Another trip to the dentist and learning new concepts in my academic journey evaluated my determination to rebuild my confidence and my application to putting time aside to develop Aimless Wondering when I had the time.
I still believe I am in the recovery of this significant episode in my life. At the same time, my mental health is steadily returning to a suitable level of normality, but I am thankful for the support network I have around me for making me believe the future can be a better place for me.
What to expect from the new Aimless Wondering? (2020 and the future)
It is now July 2020, the world is a strange place at the moment, but I have now completed my second academic year in Writing and Publishing. It also has been my third at the University of Derby at this current stage of my life. If things had been different, I could have been starting the Occupational Therapy vocation as a qualified graduate. Nevertheless, I am now for the first time in many years; I feel ready to devote time to Aimless Wondering.
Overshadowing this time is the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting most other pursuits. Including the opportunity to find part-time work and my ability to travel freely, therefore, I aim to get blog posts out regularly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during the remaining weeks of my summer break from my studies.
Once I am back in the routine of lectures and assignments, then posts for Aimless Wondering will have to take a slight backseat where content will less frequently published. Aimless Wondering will focus upon some key categories and themes; however, hopefully, offer a variety of topics that you, my audience, will appreciate. These categories are:
- Book Reviews,
- Opinions on global issues
- Personal Reflections
- Personal Top 25s in different pre-selected categories
- Personal Travel Experiences
I sincerely hope that you all enjoy reading my future blog posts on Aimless Wondering. Please let me know what you think of the new design.
All posts on Aimless Wondering will have a comments section at the bottom of the page, which allows you to interact with the content I have produced. Please take note of the House Rules I have devised for commenting. You can read these on the About page. These rules are in place to make this website a positive and enjoyable environment for all to hopefully enjoy the content.
I fully appreciate that this was a challenging read about my mental wellbeing, but I have wanted to share this story fully on Aimless Wondering for a long time.
Alternatively you can contact me privately through the Contact page without these publicly appearing on Aimless Wondering and for the rest of my audience to view.