At 22 you are meant to be in the prime of your youth. You are meant to be very happy like a modern-day Mary Poppins, fun is meant to ooze out from your back pocket, people are meant to smile at you while you skip down the street to a tune you made up in your mind like they do in commercials, all things perky are meant to stay perky for at least another good 8 years. So when I felt at 22 that none of that was happening (except for the last bit) and the stars were rudely wiped from my eyes by the reality of life and for believing in dreaming so much, I was really confused.
I wasn’t sure if I was in a mid-life crisis or in my case a quarter-life crisis or maybe I was just demanding too much out of life too soon. Thinking back right now, I couldn’t possible tell you, but all I know is that back then I wasn’t happy and I wanted more from life than what I was reaping at that very moment. All the things I wanted to achieve for that time in my life, I wasn’t even dangerously close to achieving and that deeply concerned me.
I was 22 working for a great company with great staff and a lovely manager who later became a very valued friend in my life, I was helping out like an adult at home, my responsibilities had become neck high but I enjoyed it. I had great friends and a supportive family structure it looked like things could go on forever on this pace and it would all be ok.
Some how, for some reason it all just started seeming very mundane to me. All I remember thinking before I took action was that I finished high school at 17, I went to varsity and know I’m working, and then I will work some more, finish studying, then buy a car and do my bit for society and my family, buy a house, study some more, then work some more, then start a family then work a little bit more, go on a few holidays then retire and work a little more ( because lets face it your pension is a joke unless you’re Irene Rosenfeld). Then dutifully daisies will start smelling so much clearer during those years, then I would probably start having dreams of tunnels with bright lights then trumpets will sound and my good Lord will whisk me away to a real first class, five-star V.I.P. party.
You see? I’m hoping you agree that the way that last paragraph looks is not slightly appetizing and I definitely didn’t sign up for it (though truthfully I don’t remember ever being given an option and the sequence of events doesn’t really go the way I described it but you get the point ok!). However I sat at home and weighed my options and thankfully there had come an opportunity for me to travel through a friend of mine, and though it wasn’t how I envisioned I would travel I just literally went for it without even thinking about it.
And there ladies and sort of gentlemen (times have changed no one opens doors these days) My First Time travelling alone abroad came.
Taking the step to move to England was not even a concern, I was so excited, I hadn’t planned much besides the necessities of what I was really going to do there and everything seemed to have been organized for me already by the family I was going to stay with. It took a matter of months or weeks really to plan and notify people who I was going to be m.i.a in the motherland for a bit and some people couldn’t even believe it was happening until I landed at Heathrow (my mother included).
And boy did I feel grown up, I won’t bore you by mentioning the itty bitty details of boarding the flight but I can tell you something, although it was almost half a day travelling, it was the most memorable time of my life. Not the actual flight but the possibility and hope that was attached to it. I know understand why some people think it’s best to leave a place. Whether it be from a broken heart, some embarrassing situation you found yourself in if your life is public to others or merely just to travel and see Gods beautiful playground, it’s not so much the place you are going to, although that counts for 80% of the reason as to why your African posterior is being flattened for 11 hours by a supposedly luxuriously cushioned seat but it’s that feeling of renewal and new hope.
It’s almost like being baptized again, you have that chance to redo, to explore. The stars are definitely in your eyes again, you definitely are a little girl in a big world with a suitcase and a teddy looking googly-eyed and hoping to conquer in your own way. And all the rough rides and knocks you were scarred with while growing up are somehow dismantled because at that moment you are your own Christopher Columbus. The thought of a new place, new people, new scenery and finding your own way in that little society and making your own life even if it means eating canned water (if there is such a thing) for the rest of your days is a MasterCard moment. It’s so priceless and rewarding it sends butterflies in your tummy that metamorphose into dancing fairies.
That was me in August 2009 sitting on Virgin airways just thinking and thinking and thanking and thanking God.
I look back now almost 2 years later back in South Africa. And although things didn’t go according to plan as they never always do with a life that we don’t control, I’m back where I was in an office desk, 9 to 5 scenario, composing this. And you know what? it’s ok because I couldn’t have it any other way. My life is at a place where it’s meant to be, I’m planning my work schedule for the next week and researching courses to study some more and I’m not entirely happy but that’s somewhat a bit overrated sometimes. (The truth is, my little kiddies, is there are bills to pay that don’t even make sence on your pay slip, for all you know under the UIF fee that you pay and may not fully utilize is your bosses golfing lessons named special deductions or skill development fee that you’re too scared to ask about hence why you’ll never be fully happy) I have lived although not fully, I have loved although not wholly I have seen although not clearly, I have conquered although not entirely but I have experienced and that’s been the best moment of my life not the travel or the work or the money or the status but the experience and every fulfilling decision and mistake I have made have been worth it because they are apart of that experience which makes me know as I am and will continue to make my many first times to come.