image courtesy of Microsoft Office clip art
A few weeks ago I got on the bus. I was on my way to purchase an inordinately expensive pair of shoes for my impending 50km walk.
Two young girls got on at the stop after mine. One carried a bus pass and wore an ultra chic hairdo, the other lugged a folder and had a cigarette balanced between her lips, presumably so she was ready to smoke it at the actual second her foot hit the pavement. The girls recognised someone they knew further back on the bus and they giggled loudly. I was sitting a couple of seats back trying to guess their ages while waiting for Instagram to load. We were just a few stops away from the University and I guess I had assumed that’s where they were headed. The man perched next to them asked a question I didn’t hear but was met with raucous giggles and the second young lady announced that no, the two of them had dropped out. Again, I did not hear what he said next but I did hear what she said next.
“We’re both seventeen. Yeah, it’s not like we’re, like, twenty-five or something. Heaps of time.”
A jolt stuck me like lightening. I said those things too, more than ten years ago. Now, more than ten years have passed me by and I have very little to show for them in terms of education or career.
I wanted to tell those girls: you do not have heaps of time! Life will happen, shit will go down and that heaps of time will fall in a heap before you even realise it’s happened. I wanted to encourage them to get on with it, apply for a degree if it’s your bag or just get qualified in any capacity, to go to Europe while you’re still okay about sleeping in dorm rooms, to kick back and have a good time and not worrywart your youth away.
But I didn’t do any of that. I stepped off the bus at my next stop and I looked back at it. Where will those girls be in ten years? Successful and driven, or living week to week, flipping burgers to make rent? Or at some grey place in the middle, like I am? Wherever they end up, and whatever they end up doing, I hope they know that it’s okay.
Because it is okay. It’s rich of me to say that, because I do not think it’s okay for me to be where I am. I think I should have tried harder, whined less and generally taken more opportunities when they arose.
By chance, a few weeks ago I read this post from My Pajama Days. Although it’s author doesn’t know it, hers is one of the first blogs I started to read and the one that really pushed me to start blogging. I find comfort in that blog. I like reading about coffee and salt and vinegar chips. I have *some* experience with anxiety and I sure know what it feels like to fear a break in. And I find a deeply raw sense of self and a beautiful blend of reality and magic. And I completed something this year too. I walked that 50km walk through the night and the rain for Coastrek and the Fred Hollows Foundation. And sure, I am proud of my achievement… but it isn’t or wasn’t my goal. I realised I had to make a change. In 2012, I want to run the race I’ve pictured.
So I am. This week I am lifting the veil and facing the world.