I don’t know if we talk enough about this. If we give enough credit to the fact that no one really, truly, knows what they’re doing. That this is everyone’s first time going through life. Making choices. Real life proper decisions that will categorically have a profound effect on our future. And just, hoping they stick.
I’ve written this piece a bunch of different ways and not been happy with any of them. They all turn into some bildungsroman of my life which is a sorry road no one wants to go down; I wanted life to go one way, it went another, I’m sure there’s a point to this but it 100% got lost along the way.
So let me try again, from a different tack.
For the past ten years, or there about, I’ve felt very lost. It always starts when you’re 16 doesn’t it. I guess that’s when you become aware, when you move into that next phase, when you start having school classes on ‘deciding what to do when you grow up’ and people actually have a kind of idea.
I don’t know if I’ll ever know what I want to do. I’m in my final year of my BA: Writing and English Literature / Modern History, and people often ask what I’ll do once I graduate. Like I embarked on this very expensive four-year long experience knowing where I want to end up, and how I should get there. If someone doesn’t walk up to me at graduation and say, ‘Taylah, we’ve been keeping an eye on you (for some unknown reason) and we think you’d be perfect for this incredibly niche job that you’re going to love wholeheartedly,” I am screwed. I love my degree. And I’m very lucky to be able to say that. But damn knows what I’m going to do with it. (Legit, if anyone has any ideas, please hit me up).
And that just kind of sums me up. Graduating at 26 with a BA, having no real direct line of employment. Actually no, the story I really like to tell that sums me up is this. And this is just a full flaunt but I don’t even care:
I love James Acaster. Love love love. I think he’s just the funniest person in the world and I am kicking myself that I got on that bus so late and missed out on getting any tickets to both his Australian and English tour. Anything I currently reference comes back to him. I yell ‘no more jobs’ before I go to sleep every night. I am a devout fan.
So anyways, I’m in London AND HE GETS ON THE TRAIN I AM ON, IN THE CARRIAGE I AM IN, AND SITS SO SO CLOSE TO ME. I happened to already been sitting with my back against the windows, facing the aisle, so it wasn’t weird that I continued to sit this way and therefore try my absolute hardest ESP to get him to look at me. Which he did. We had some real nice eye contact and I smile. It’s going on my gravestone. Anyways, so I’m hyping myself up to go over and say, ‘kudos on existing in a particularly funny way’, but want to give him enough time to settle in so that I seem less fangirl more hot girl on the train I should 100% ask out. Turns out the next station was not far down the track and there were A LOT of humans waiting to get on. So now there’s maybe 50 people in about a 3m2 space between me and old James. During this busy time, he falls alseep, cap pulled down, headphones on, head resting on that flimsy little tray. The majority of humans get off, he stays on the train. But he’s still kippers so both the moment and opportunity is gone. But then, to my absolute luck, an elderly couple get on the train. She sits next to me. He sits opposite and one behind, next to him. They’ve got travel documents they need to sort out. WELL LET ME COME TO YOUR RESCUE. DO YOU WANT TO SWITCH SEATS SO IT’S EASIER FOR YOU GUYS. NO, I DON’T MIND AT ALL. IT’S A HUGE IMPOSITION, BUT I’M A NICE GUY. I am now seated next to James Acaster. The current love of my life. The person who I said was, if I could see one famous person in England, this is who it would be. Sorry Idris, you’ll always be my No. 2. Talk about meant to bloody be.
THE DUDE SLEEPS THE ENTIRE TIME. A whole hour we were sat next to each other. Didn’t rouse once. Sneezed the loudest I’ve ever sneezed in my life. Didn’t come close to saying ‘bless you’. Listen to Thom Yorke’s Anima the whole time on the oft chance he’d wake up, be astounded by his good luck, ask me what I’m listening to as a way to start conversation, and then by astounded by how cool and with it I am musically. But no. I have never in all of my life been so close to greatness and then been so monumentally stitched up. This is definitely the story that sums me up.
So, luck is clearly not on my mate. I get that. And if he had been awake it probably wouldn’t be a huge meet-cute and I probably wouldn’t be living in London right now after a hasty green card marriage, cause who wouldn’t want Boris Johnson as their leader. And because he was a sleep I now have a funny anecdotal story, plus a slightly weird video that I took. There is a reason for everything I’m sure.
But some people just seem so freaking not similar to me. Just so bloody lucky, living the good life, having clarity on their job, doing something they both like AND are good at. What are the odds of that. Plus, with a life partner that genuinely loves and cares for them and they both find each other attractive and they’re both on a similar enough intellectual level that they have stuff to talk about and similar interests and principles and life goals and whatever. HOW TO PEOPLE GET ONE OF THOSE I AM SO CONFUSED.
All my life I wanted to be married at twenty, kids by twenty-three. Loving mother, devout wife, 100% a product of my very conservative Christian upbringing by that’s another story. And when twenty came and went that was fine. Then twenty-one. Twenty-two. Twenty-three hurt a lot I am not going to lie. Most people I was friends with are either married, engaged, or in serious relationships. I apply to go on exchange. Amazing copy mechanism. Definitely not the cheapest.
I went over to England and was a twenty-four year old hanging out with a bunch of nineteen to twenty-two year olds. It was the greatest time. First time in a while I hadn’t felt behind. (Aside from being sometimes quite a bit older than people who were at the same stage of life as me, but that is neither here nor there.)
I’ve never been in a relationship. Never come even close to a boyfriend. I’m sure there’s a reason for that. Not sure if I want the answer. But with this perpetual singledom came the misconception that people in relationships are further ahead in life. (That misconception can be furthered by people in relationships, but that is not the point of this piece, and not all the blame can go on them). And while we are different, there is no denying that, one is not better than the other. I put being in a relationship on a pedestal. It defined my early twenties, wanting to get one, lamenting not being in one, cursing the good fortunes of those who were. I spent those years just waiting for one to happen to me. Waiting for life to happen to me.
I defined myself by my relationship status (or lackthereof). I compared myself to people, always feeling I came up short. I’m at UNI a couple of years later, still working in hospo, not sure what to do with my degree, not knowing what to do with my life, not having someone currently to share it with. To be fair, I did get out of the sharehouse life, so there has been some personal growth.
But, this year, I’ve had a real breakthrough. I don’t know what it is. Maybe they were right, travel really does change you. God, I’m so cultured now I’ve just seen the world and what it can do. Which really just means I’ve eaten Maccas in multiple countries.
Maybe I’m watching the right movies, the right TV shows. Strong female leads (Fleabag) and interesting storylines. But also, Bachie. Or maybe I’m reading the right books, strong female leads, well-written fiction, interesting memoirs (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Everything I Know About Love), educational readings – thanks uni.
I know for a fact I’m surrounding myself with the right people. I’m very very lucky on that count.
But, for the first time in what feels a long time, I feel really and truly properly happy with myself and where I’m at. I’ve stopped comparing myself with others. I have always been happy for others, I want to make that known. But I’ve never been able to make it not at the expense of myself. And that’s on me. I’ve got issues. That’s old news. But, I’m at peace with where I’m at.
There’s two quotes that have been stuk in my head. The first is from Fleabag (I just binge-watched S1),
” … either everyone feels like this a little bit and they’re just not talking about it, or I am completely fucking alone …”
And the second is from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize for Literature Acceptance Speech,
“I’ve been emphasising here the small and the private, because essentially that’s what my work is about. One person writing in a quiet room, trying to connect with another person, reading in a quiet – or not so quiet – room. Stories can entertain, sometimes teach or argue a point. But for me the essential thing is that they communicate feelings. That they appeal to what we share as human beings across our borders and divides … But in the end, stories are about one person saying to another: ‘this is the way it feels for me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it also feel this way to you?’
I guess I have said all that to say this.
I write purely so that people can read something and say, ‘hey, you put it into words. It feels that way for me to.’
I have spent years comparing myself to others and feeling like less of a human because of it. But, once you come out of it, once you have that epiphany, life is good. Age is just a number, time isn’t real, this is all definitely just a social construct.
And with that has come the realisation, that everyone else is in the same boat. No one is on their second time round, handling the tricky turns like a pro. Everyone here is a rookie. Hoping the degree the chose is what they hope it’ll be, that the date their going on next Friday might finally be ‘the One’. That the boy she says yes to marrying allows for the future she’s always dreamed.
Life is full of these huge decisions we make on a whim, that have profound domino effects on the rest of our existing. And everyone every day is walking around, doing potentially life-altering things, like it’s no biggie.
I think things in life happen for a reason. I’m beginning to see my reason.