…now that high school had finished — had finished forever! — it slowly began to dawn on him that the future was not a straight linear path but a matrix of permutations and possibilities, offshoots from offshoots. The map of the future was three-dimensional–that thought had literally never crossed his mind before. School had made him blind to the truth. The school years were flat, two-dimensional: sleep, school, study, sleep, school, study and some holidays. That world was splintering, and no longer made sense: and that, more than anything, that filled him with both a ferocious excitement and an anxious confusion; he could never go back to that other world again.
“The Slap” – Christos Tsiolkas
University is well and truly over for the year, for me, and results are slowly trickling in. In my last post, I gleefully spoke of my newfound free time, and the abundance of blog posts this would likely produce.
…We’ll ignore the irony of the fact that now, in said “free time”, I’ve had a longer gap between posts than I ever had during the university term. Woops-a-doodle.
But here I have a post that truly is more of a rant. Or perhaps not a “rant” — that implies a degree of anger. No, this is more of a despondent diary entry, I suppose. Because, like it or not, I am finding myself feeling rather morose and in need of getting some things off my chest.
As you can see, I started off with a wonderful quote from Tsiolkas’ The Slap. The quote is from Ritchie, a young adolescent who, in the face of his high school graduation, finds himself questioning the frightening, exciting, splintering world that faces him.
I experienced no such dilemmas of self at my high school graduation. I was going to head to university – -that was my decision early on in life, and though I still waffled around the different ideas and important questions (What will I study? Where will I attend? Stay home, go to college, find a share house?), I was certain enough in my life’s path that I felt no trepidation for the future.
Now, though, things have changed.
The realisation of this change came to me in a sudden moment. You read about these “moments” in fiction, where the character feels the earth being pulled from beneath their feet; their heart races; time stops. What a load of nonsense, I’d often scoffed.
But, lo and behold, last Tuesday, I felt the earth disappear, my heart pound and time screech to a halt.
And it wasn’t even a dramatic “moment”. It was actually a rather normal, humdrum sort of “moment”.
I had gone to have dinner with some friends. Once upon a time, these catch-ups involved a fair crowd — all those who’d graduated with me, and a few folks from the year below us. But time goes on, as time tends to do, and now, the crowd has thinned.
Last Tuesday, dinner included only me, and two schoolmates (I’ll call them J and M, shall I?). Three of us who remain still in our hometown, while others have long since departed to larger cities. We’ve joked about this — about being the remaining trio from the flock, the lone rangers flitting through old haunts — and never allowed it to faze us.
But throughout the dinner, I experienced several small realisations on the build-up to my “moment”. Realisations like the fact that I hadn’t seen one of my closest friends since she moved, nearly two years ago. Like the fact that most of the people I knew were now in relationships, with people I’d never heard of. Like the fact that J had gone travelling to visit friends in different cities. Like the fact that M was moving in with a girlfriend I’d not yet met, and was doting on a child I’d not known she’d had.
I guiltily acknowledged that, as I’ve been known to do, I’d closed off a little from my dearest friends, and their lives had gone on without my knowing. And this is not to say that I desire any kind of voyeuristic insight to their lives; these are simply details that many people already knew, and that I could certainly have found out, had I only asked. Had I only made more of an effort to keep in touch.
By this point in the evening, you might have guessed that I was feeling less than my usual chipper self, but I hid any sadness behind a pasted-on smile, and tried to enjoy our long-overdue catch-up.
Then J mildly announced that next year, probably in the first few months, he would be moving. Not sure where, yet. But moving away, certainly.
Earth shifting; heart racing; time stopping – I had my “moment”.
The night ended soon after. I hugged both J and M, amidst declarations that we would have to do this again in two weeks time. I got in my car. I went home, crawled into bed, and lay there.
My world was splintering.
J would soon be gone from my little hometown. That would leave just M and me, and it already felt like M was drifting away, enraptured by his newfound love and the five-year-old child he was growing to love like his own son.
Somewhere deep, deep within me, a warm ball of empathetic joy bloomed. Here was M, practically with a new family, happier than I’d ever seen him, and I was glad for him. And J, having struggled to find his calling, seemed finally content with the path he was taking, ready to leave this town and find better things. And I was glad for him.
But simmering on top of this amiable happiness was an unhealthy dollop of self-pity and fear.
I’ve finished my degree — a Bachelor of Media and Communications. Next year, I embark on the Honours course, in the field of creative writing (and don’t even get me started on trying to get the Honours ball rolling — so much paper work and so little helpful information to be found; somebody throw me a life-preserver, ’cause I’m drowning here!).
And so, I have one year. One year until the studying portion of my life is over, and already, my world has begun to splinter.
And I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of the fact that I haven’t had a job in over a year.
I’m afraid of the fact that I still live at home, with absolutely no experience on how to cope on my own.
I’m afraid of the fact that my studies are coming to an end, at which point I will have to fight tooth-and-nail to get into an industry known for its challenges with regard to finding employment.
I’m afraid of the fact that I have no clue where my life is heading. Heck, let’s be brutally honest: I’m shitting myself.
But I don’t want to be afraid. Who does?!
So I will not dwell endlessly at the centre of this self-pity-party; I refuse to. I’m feeling down — that’s a fact — but sitting here won’t help me… right? So I’m pushing against the dark demons that have come home to roost. I’m writing this post, forcing myself to admit to the despondency that I’ve tried to hide for so long. I’m printing out my résumés to kick-start my job hunt. And, God help me, I’m even tentatively looking at rental properties, trying to decide if I should stay at home throughout my Honours year and then take the terrifying plunge, or whether I should ease myself into solo-living by moving out now, while I’d have the support of my family in my hometown.
My world is splintering… I can either let it fall apart, or take hold of it with both hands and see what new shape takes form.
…Welp. I actually do feel a little better. Who needs a diary when I can throw my trepidations out into cyberspace for all to see? Thanks for joining me through this lil’ pity party, readers.
And to those of you who came to my blog today, perhaps hoping to find admiration of bad guys or dark, twisted short stories, and instead found this monster of a post, I apologise. Furthermore, if you found this monster of a post, and thought, “Holy shit, there is no way I could be bothered to read this whole thing,” I don’t blame you. I’ll just tell you that it was a bucket-and-a-half of self-pitying waffle, written to make myself feel happier.
And this blog always does make me feel happier, so I hope to return with some much less “gee-thanks-for-the-downer” posts soon!
- Love The Bad Guy [Even When You're Feelin' Down]