28, a Self Portrait
So, no big deal but it was my birthday on Tuesday!
I’m not sure how old most of you are (or how old you feel) but I’ll state straight out that you shouldn’t expect a wallowing type of post from me; I am absolutely not someone for whom getting older means anxiousness or a feeling of urgency. Let me explain and draw a portrait of my life so far.
I was a super bookish child and teenager, a little bit of an awkward kid with an extra vivid imagination who wanted everything from the world, and right away. I took up hundreds of hobbies to abandon them one after the other and despaired at not finding a calling or something that would be my own, an identifier. I was adventurous and romantic at heart but had such a hard time translating that into my social life.
A lot of the time, I ended up pushing people away for no reason at all. I lost a lot of friends because I couldn’t keep up with the intimacy and efforts that friendship required and I lost boyfriends because I was fickle and aloof. I hurt people’s feelings, starting with my own, because I would keep making choices, regretting them, changing my mind.
I’m not sure if it’s the French blood in my veins but I have always felt things so strongly! I can navigate from fury to sadness to utter joy in the space of an hour. I can block out people talking to me and loud music and construction noises without the help of headphones because I’m thinking. I can remember precise details about things I’ve seen or heard years in the past but will not recall going for a coffee with you last week and what we talked about. I have always had a hard time finding a balance between being with myself and being with others.
I don’t think there’s necessarily anything striking or peculiar about the above, and perhaps a lot of kids go through something similar, especially if they are creatives and introverts who haven’t found a way to express themselves and channel their emotions. But I also think that a lot of them outgrew this quicker than I did.
Almost up to 20 years old, I was happiest playing make-believe with my younger sister, being alone in the dark at the cinema of the small town I grew up in, reading, writing or listening to music I picked at random at the library. Even the only sport I stuck with was dance and arguably, even in a group, that’s something that is quite solitary.
Where I’m going with this is: I was a late bloomer and it took me a while to be at ease with myself and with others, to not feel like life and relationships (with my family and friends and boys) equaled a complicated board game to which I did not know the rules.
What changed perhaps in my early twenties, is that my life was shaken up.
Away from the middle-class cocoon of my upbringing, I went to a university where I did not know anyone, travelled in Europe with no money, lived alone, stumbled, studied halfway across the world, worked jobs, learned music, buried a long dragging relationship with an emotionally-crippled boyfriend, had a band, had friends, made some daring decisions, had great successes and great failures and learned to pick myself up from anything.
Basically, I learned not to be so scared that every little decision I made would have a tremendous impact on my life. I learned that not making a choice is very much making a choice and that mistakes don’t really matter as long as you have something to take away from them. I learned to trust my intuition more and to let go of what I can’t control. I learned to give things my best shot.
But I also learned that no one and nothing in life is really worth it, if you don’t enjoy the ride.
So I’m raising a glass on the blog today:
Here is to 28 years of puzzling those around me, giving them all that I can give, and ageing gracefully.
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