"This world, such as it is, is not tolerable. Therefore I need the moon, or happiness, or immortality, I need something which is perhaps demented, but which is not of this world."I am happy. I am slowly realising that the next few months before I leave for university do not have to be spent waiting for my real life to begin. There is, of course, an element of that – of wanting something exciting and grand to happen – but I am becoming increasingly content with the way things are at the moment. Things aren’t perfect and everything’s a little rough around the edges but I’m starting to think that maybe that how it’s meant to be for now.
-- Albert Camus
I’m still a clumsy little girl who can’t make it through a day without knocking something over or being struck by the familiar feeling of uncertainty or doubt but I’m beginning to become the person I am meant to be. It was unrealistic of me to expect that I would leave Swansea in October and transform overnight into someone else entirely – someone a little bolder, a little wittier, a little less inhibited. These things take time to develop and I am finally prepared to give myself that time.
I am still anxious about the future – I want to make new friends and learn new things and see new sights – but I am developing an appreciation for what I have at the moment. I have friends who make me laugh, who entertain my strange thoughts every once in a while and who remind me that I don’t suck as much as I think I do. It’s not so much about wanting to know better people these days as wanting to know more people.
There are people I know now that I probably won’t know in a year’s time and maybe before I took that as a sign of the shallowness of our friendship, an articulation of my inability to connect with people on a basic human level, but today I simply regard their presence as a transitory comfort. It is not a failure to admit that you’re not always going to be compatible with the people you were friends with when you were awkward and fifteen and more than a little wet behind the ears. You’re not always going to be the person you were at fifteen.
It’s less about time – the number of years I’ve accrued or the number we’ve accrued together – and more acceptance. It’s awfully hard to accept someone for the person they are three years on when in your mind they’ve not moved on at all. It’s even harder to accept that maybe they’ve not changed and it’s just your perception of them that has evolved. I don’t think accepting these things means anything but not accepting them means a lot.
Maybe you’re not meant to be friends with everyone forever and maybe you’re just meant to take what you can and give them what you can while you can and hope that, at the end of it all, you’re still in one piece. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Do I want to look in someone’s eyes twenty years down the line and see reflected in them me as I am now? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t but maybe it’s okay either way.
The wonderful thing about today is that there are a few people I want to know in twenty years. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily want them to know me but I want to know them. I want to be able to send them e-mails beginning with, “Remember that time when we were eighteen…” I want to be able to laugh at myself as I am today, thinking I have some of the answers when I’ve not even worked out what the questions are yet, and perhaps I’ll even want acknowledgement that I’ve moved on. I want there to be someone there who will be able to see that I can hug people without being intoxicated, that there are boys who want to kiss me when they’re not drunk and that I’m no longer the girl with too many dreams and ambitions but rather the woman with too many achievements and too many failures.
There are a lot of things I want at the moment but seldom few that I need. I have everything I need for a comfortable life. I still want an extraordinary life but I am at peace with the way things are now and, if things stay like this forever, that wouldn’t be the end of the world.
I made myself a promise a few days after my eighteenth birthday: I have resolved to try my hardest to be happy. I have resolved to allow myself to wish my skin were better or my hips narrower or my smile a little broader but to accept that falling short of my own expectations doesn’t necessarily translate to falling short of others. There are days when I hate myself, when I feel downtrodden and discouraged, but the days when I like myself are beginning to outnumber those.
There aren’t very many people you’re able to rely on in life but the realisation I’m not the only one makes things a lot more bearable. I’ve not believed in anything for a while but I’m starting to believe in myself and, perhaps more importantly, other people. They’re fallible, they hurt your feelings and they sometimes make your head spin dizzyingly out of control but you do exactly the same things to them and, if not to them, to others like them and you’re all just trying to do the best that you can. It’s strangely liberating to think like this.
I’m so tired of thinking everything’s meaningless and that there is no purpose. Everything’s absurd and unfathomable and indecipherable but the possibilities are boundless. It probably doesn’t make any difference if I go to Cambridge or if I don’t in the grand scheme of things but it makes a difference to me, and maybe to a handful of the people I’ll meet there, so maybe it’s worth striving for. History feels like a fundamentally fruitless subject to study but maybe it’s worth studying because everyone likes to think that they’ll be remembered and maybe I’ll be able to give some people that immutable sense of eternality that they were never quite able to attain in life. Maybe I’m meant to study history – albeit not with the romantic overtones I’ve just described it with – and realise it’s okay that my life doesn’t make any sense to me because no one else’s does either. I can cope with that. I can maybe then allow myself to think having children is beautiful and wonderful and amazing rather than cruel and unnecessary and predicated on obscure notions of boredom or legacy.
There were lots of things I thought I was ready for this time last year that I really wasn’t. I’m ready for some of them now. Companionship isn’t as daunting. Romance isn’t as alien a concept. Who I am isn’t such a bad thing. I’ll probably forever be self-deprecating and find it a little insane that anyone wants to be my friend but maybe, in some instances, I can trust other people’s judgement and accept that I don’t always know best. I shall endeavour to stop expecting nothing from others and everything from myself and seek to even out the balance between my thoughts.
I shall seize all opportunities presented to me. I shan’t let my sense of awkwardness or quietude prevent me from going to the pub with friends when they ask again - if they ask again! I must be exasperating. I shan’t be afraid of drinking alcohol, of letting it course through my veins and ruddy my cheeks, but equally I shan’t be afraid of being different. I shan’t change but I shall be open to change and new experiences, more so than I have been in the past.
I will admit that I actually really want to pass my driving test next week and not be afraid of what people will think if I fail. It’s easier when people don’t think you are much bothered by events but it’s much more gratifying to be honest. I won’t be ashamed of the fact I’ve not been kissed for over a year and that it bothers me a little. I won’t place more importance than is due on the kisses I have given and received. I will accept things for what they are and realise that wanting things to be different isn’t necessarily an indication of some massive personal flaw that I must conceal at all costs. I understand now that wanting things to be different and doing things for them to be different are diametrically opposed ideas that can, in fact, be reconciled.
Most of all, I’m realising that it’s okay to have feelings: attraction, anger, hate, excitement, jealousy, contentment. It’s okay to care about people. It’s never okay not to care about people but it’s okay not to like them. I don’t have to like everyone. I don’t have to try with everyone but I shan’t let myself get to the stage when I feel like everything’s too much of an effort again.
Nevertheless, things don’t change with the immediacy I would perhaps like. It’s going to take time before I can let a cute boy at the party know I think he’s just that or before I can be friends with a boy without fearing I’ll have a crush on him or that he has ulterior motives. I’m willing to give myself time because I’m young and I’m carefree and there’s plenty of time left to be immovably stuck in my ways. If I’m just a little bit more secure with myself, a little bit more confident, by the time October rolls around, I will feel like I’ve achieved something and I will be pleased.