When I look back at how I’ve changed, sometimes it’s hard to look beyond what I’ve lost since then. University, believe it or not, was a time of hope for me. It was a time of possibility and despite living in a small city, nothing felt out of grasp. I did everything I wanted to.
Now don’t go expecting my list of things to stagger you, but I used to leave the house on a whim but have no idea where I was headed, just to clear my head. I would call a friend I hadn’t heard from in a few days. I would walk all the way to a bridge just so I could read by the water for an hour or so. And I took great advantage of discounts on beer at a nearby roadhouse.
I took a chance on people, made friends, had some fallouts and every day, I took the bus to school with a different mood. I walked the same trail with about six people on different occasions because it was the only one I could walk to from my house never having owned a car. I read so much and I don’t mean school readings. These were more self-assigned, if you catch my drift. I used to work on my mental health through some intermittent counselling when I needed to screw my head on straight.
And I spoke. I was part of a Toastmasters club and I like to think that I spoke my heart out.
But so much has changed now and to highlight all the ways in which I abandoned the person I used would make for painful writing. Like most of you, I’ve picked up a few demons along the path to adulthood. They might be the same ones you have. I dread Mondays. I worry about money. I haven’t finished a book in weeks. And my writing has been scattered, to say the least. And I go on a walk by myself maybe once in a fortnight and there haven’t been many bridges.
It all sounds so bleak, and I’ll be honest, it feels that way too. To leave some parts of you behind and wonder if they were the best parts of you.
“You do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do” – is perhaps a sound description of adulthood. But a fatal flaw I’ve found is that doing what I have to do leaves me so tired and aching that I no longer spend much time doing what I want to do.
But I thought of an exercise where I would ask that person I stopped being for advice. And channeling myself from a different, possibly pre-covid age, I would reply – “Of the many things we do, there are some that we are truly meant to do. Our selves are sewn into the fabric of existence because some books need reading, some paths need walking and some people need believing in. There is no grand purpose, except the one where you find your way back to doing the things you were always meant to do. And should you stray from these acts, you recognize that you are lost and try to find your way back. Try and try again because being yourself is and will always be your most important act on Earth”
Despite the changes I’ve made in adulthood, that past-self still exists within me. Unburdened by everything I carry now, he had had some life changing advice under his sleeve. He just didn’t know he’d need to give it to himself down the road.
It is no longer as easy to walk to a bridge and read. But I will try. And when I find a bridge I will sit by the water and read. And passers-by will see a bearded young man reading by the water and have no idea that they are looking at a small part of the universe correcting itself to what it was always meant to be.
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