By Samuel Lopes
Watching the Olympics over the past two weeks, it has been hard to escape the tales of athletes falling apart. Chief amongst them was the story of figure skater Kamila Valieva, who, 48 hours after performing the first quadruple jump in Olympic history, failed a drug test for banned heart medication. With the world watching on during her individual event, she fell and did not place on the podium. It was a tragedy on many levels — not only the cruel and heartless response from her coach but the fact that she is only 15 years old. In the eyes of the world, her sporting career is already over. It has not been a triumphant Games for many.
Elite performances at the Olympics can reify the performative aspects of our own lives. The delicate performance spun over the past two years – the careful managing of risk, the forgoing of daily life — often seems liable to fall apart at any moment. New shocks always appear to be looming over the horizon; whether it’s the developing crisis in Ukraine, ongoing strike action or something more personal. It is easy to buy into the narrative that we are all lurching from crisis to crisis, desperately trying to pirouette our way to some sort of stability. The media has a role to play in this too; we as journalists — even amateur ones — have a responsibility to report on the world as it is, and not fall prey to telling sensationalist stories.
As many students enter yet another summative season, it can feel like the coming deadlines are something of a performance, especially when existing within the ‘Durham bubble’. Weeks and months of learning and study must be distilled into a few essays or problem sets, the judgement of which can decide your whole degree. Whatever summative season has in store, it’s important to take stock and remember how far you’ve come, and how much of our lives are still yet to be lived, bristling with possibility. Failure is not the end.
In my view, life — at Durham and beyond — is not and should not be viewed as a performance. It’s not something you can ‘win’ or ‘lose’. What may seem like a failure now can be a valuable learning experience later down the line. It is an unfortunate stereotype about Durham students that we were all rejected from Oxford or Cambridge, and although this is the case for many (including myself!) that is not what defines us. What does define us, however, is how we respond to failure and setbacks. How we learn and grow as people is more important than circumstance.
In this edition of Indigo, Style explores the musical choices of something that has become more of a performance than a sporting event – the Super Bowl (Page 13). Books gives a fascinating analysis of the tropes commonly employed in chick-lit covers (a genre, which, I must admit, is something of a guilty pleasure of mine!) (Pages 6 – 7). Interview delivers some very interesting discussions with Callum Robson, a street photographer, and DUCFS fashion director Eleanor Pritchard.
At a time when stress levels are reaching their termly peak, I would like to express my thanks to all the editors and contributors that made this edition possible. Our vision for Indigo is to publish thought-provoking articles written for students by students, and I hope that our work provides some interesting perspectives to distract from upcoming deadlines and half-written essays. Know that whatever the outcome of summative or exams, there will always be more opportunities, more chances. The next Olympics are only four years away.
Illustration: Verity Laycock