Reflections on Liminality

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Marta Zarantonello (she/her)

photography by Kieren Mehta (he/him)

Whether it’s a new haircut or moving to university, everyone has experienced change. Change affects each and every living person, and it seems we love talking about it too. I personally define myself as a professional complainer. I’ve always tried to be grateful for what life has given me and all the opportunities I’ve had so far. However, sometimes I can’t help but wish that time would just slow down and stop throwing all these adjustments my way. I can guarantee that my friends are sick and tired of hearing me go on about how things have changed since I moved to Scotland. Tomatoes are not nearly as good as the ones back home, I have developed a vitamin D deficiency, and the wind messes up my hair to the point where birds could effectively use it as a nest. Complaining is just an easy way of letting this unsettling feeling out of my mind, in the hope that one day someone will finally ask me to join them in buying a van and living off-grid with a cat.

When I moved from a small town in Italy to Glasgow, I thought I had my priorities straight. I was ready to leave my hometown behind, the degree I was about to study was going to lead me to my dream career, and experiencing a new culture firsthand had always fascinated me. After a month of living alone and in lockdown, I found myself searching my flat for the comfort that made my family house feel like a home. My mum almost shed a tear as I told her I had taken up knitting and that I was excited to clean the whole kitchen before going to bed. However, these superficial comforts quickly wore off. As I distanced myself from home, I found my own set of values and began to feel like my life was in my hands. It took a while for me to realise that things were actually changing, and not in the ‘I cut my bangs for the first time’ kind of way. Change makes you perceive your surroundings differently, as if they are in limbo, covered by a blurry layer making you feel dizzy.

Whether we seek change or we actively try to avoid it, it will most likely result in feelings of uncertainty and ambiguity. I can’t even begin to emphasize how stressful everything has been since I became aware that I was an actual person living on Earth. It’s been a constant battle between sanity and desperately losing it all when things don’t go my way. In times of change I have always miserably attempted to take the reins of the uncertainty that was lingering in my life, only to realise how untamable it actually is. Stress takes over the plans you made with friends, the hobbies you planned on maintaining, and the general comfort that used to surround you. When the overwhelming feeling of disorientation won’t cease, I find myself reminiscing over the sweet time that was my childhood. With no worries in sight, my friends and I used to hang out at the local playpark sipping pear juice and playing way too many outdoor games. What happened to going to bed peacefully at 9pm after having watched your favourite cartoon on TV, anticipating another day of learning the alphabet and playing with cars at school? 

Transitional periods of your life can really change you.

The excitement I felt when the plane landed in Glasgow airport was a sign of anticipation for a new beginning. During the span of a year, this original cause of happiness was the root of all-nighters and nervous worry clustering my thoughts. Feeling like the solid ground you’ve walked on all your life is slowly breaking under your feet is undeniably terrifying. The status quo can be far more comfortable. Change can often be destructive and tough to process but it’s up to us how we perceive it and react to it. The ideal situation would be to cause change on our terms, but its disruptive nature annuls this possibility. I haven’t yet discovered the magic formula I can apply every time things get stressful, but I have definitely improved my ways of getting about it.

The inevitability of constant progression and serial turning points can be quite staggering, yet it gives character to your life, withstanding any kind of monotony that would otherwise drain you in an extremely oppressive way. All things considered, I sincerely don’t think there will ever be a time when life can be stagnant. Who would want a boring life anyway?


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