I’ve been putting off writing this post because it requires some self-analysis, and let’s face it, that’s never pleasant. I found an old journal from 1998 / 1999. 1998, people!! I have no idea where it washed up from. I have no recollection of writing ANY OF IT!
Let me set the scene. I graduated in the summer of 1999 and after several months temping and armed with my student loan (oh, weren’t those the days!) I headed off on my travels. The journal starts with ten goals that I hoped to achieve during my ‘year out’ followed by various uncompleted short stories, quotes and other cringe-making 22yr old reflections on life.
The ten goals that I thought noteworthy enough to record have made a big impact on me, as if a ghost from my past has tapped me on the shoulder and quietly whispered, “boo” in my ear.
I thought I’d reply to some of them from seventeen years on…
- To Stay together with ***.
I have to say I’m disappointed already. Number 1, number bloody 1 – the world is your oyster and all you want to do is stay together with your boyfriend. Well, in that case I would have to say, don’t be scared of being on your own! Follow your own path, and don’t be afraid to break your own heart. You’ll do this much later when you’re brave enough, anyway – but think of all the men & fun you could have had in the meantime!
2.To broaden my mind and make me wiser.
Oh, dear, dear, dear. You are still young enough to think that the world has all the answers, it’s just a matter of finding them. You probably think that ‘old’ people such as parents have all the answers and that because they are ‘old’ or are parents they have worked out the secret to life. WRONG!! No one ever understands this sh*t! I am, now, what you probably consider ‘old’ and I’m a parent and I still haven’t got a fu**ing clue. And I know loads of people even older than me who still don’t know! You will always need to keep broadening your mind and you will always feel as though you know nothing. (But I think it’s kinda sweet that you put this on your list.)
3. Loose 1 stone and come back slim.
WTF! You have never had a weight problem. Your development stopped around fourteen. You’ve more or less maintained the same dimensions ever since. Your nicknames have included ‘pocket-pal’ so the what the hell are you doing talking about losing weight as you’re about to set off on the trip of a lifetime. This is so disappointing. The only thing I can think is that you are referring to a little ‘university spread’ due to too many pints in the student’s union, but COME ON! You need to appreciate your young, healthy, strong, body; every single imperfect cell of it. Because it is amazing and it’s going to do some miraculous things for you in the years to come. You need to look after it, respect it and be grateful for everything it allows you to do, NOT berate it for what it weighs. Silly girl.
4. To have been scared and conquered my fear.
Well done you for including this one, but I hate to say, you are probably the least scared you will ever be, right now. As you get older you will have a family of your own and the thought of anything happening to them will terrify you beyond comprehension. You will see danger in places that are invisible to a 22yr old. You will love more than you ever thought possible and that is scary enough in itself. You can never truly conquer fear because then there would be nothing left to live for, at 39yrs you’ve at least worked this much out.
5. To find a direction and be able to follow it.
What did you mean by this vague sentiment? I think perhaps you meant passion – find your passion and be strong enough to follow it – is that it? Well, it took some time, but eventually at 30yrs old you will start to take your writing seriously and you will write you first book. Nine years later you are still writing. So, I think perhaps we can tick this box, I just wish it hadn’t taken you so long. The pages of writing and short stories throughout the rest of this journal are testament to your fledgling ambitions. Keep writing, years from now opinions will multiply, people will read stories on their phones, you will be posting stuff on the internet for the whole world to read. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to admit that you want to write. Make more writing friends, hang out with other people that ‘get it’ and don’t stop trying. And you have TIME now, so much TIME! Please use it wisely. Later your days will be consumed by children, a home, a husband, a dog, work; all wonderful additions to your life, but each one takes a part of you away and leaves you with the exhausted left-overs.
6. To live everyday to its full potential.
What a grandiose statement, but I’ve got to love you for making it. You optimistic young thing, you. In 1999 you had the best of intentions to grab your opportunity and make the very most of it. Did you do it? Kinda, but you certainly gave it a good try. You’ll do some amazing things, meet some great people, travel to places beyond your wildest dreams and have memories to cherish forever. However, this is a hard one to maintain when the mundane and ordinariness of ‘grown-up’ life rules. But I hope you’d be pleased that seventeen years on, your 39 yr old self is still trying her best to uphold it.
I dare you to hunt out any old journals and share your old-self with me.