20 years later…

Do you ever wonder what you will look like in 20 years? If you’re going to be a totally different person? Or maybe you hope to see the same person, just slightly differently clad?

Today, I was looking at pictures from when I was like really young. You know, the “obnoxious years”, haha! I was interested in checking them out, because soon I’ll be starting my job and we’re supposed to find a clever way to introduce ourselves. The UK Team is thinking about doing a “then-now” sort of thing, so I set out to look through old albums. And I found… This:

"3 years old"
“3 years old”

This is me, exactly 20 years ago, during the summer of 1994 in the area of Bretagne, France. And when you get done laughing at the epicness of that picture – I mean, what’s not to love? The cutesy hairstyle? The pink sandals with white socks? The glamorous sunglasses? The stylish tracksuit? Or the old doll I’m holding like it’s a prop? …
Okay? Are you done now? With the laughing? Alright, perfect. So then I can continue what I was going to say, which is this: not that much has changed over the years.

Sure, I’ve gotten better at dressing myself, a skill which I started developing around age 11. And my blond locks are a bit darker now, tinged with some red when the light catches it just right. It was a dark day when I understood from my friend that wearing socks & sandals at the same time is a big no-no, but I’ve moved on and I’m better for it, I believe. But other than that… I still have an epic pair of sunglasses like that. My prop isn’t a doll anymore, but has turned into my phone or perhaps even my laptop. In addition, I will forever be in love with the color pink – though I did lose it for a while during puberty; being rebellious & whatnot – and sandals are cool at any age. “Free your toes!”, or something like that.

For me, it’s not about what I’m wearing in this picture… It’s about the way I looked when I was freakin’ 3 years old! I’m sorry, I’m so not the bragging type, but this is just an epic picture. I was cool when I was 3. I mean, come on! That’s just awesome :’). And while I’ll have changed plenty over the past 20 years, I’m still the same girl who likes doing her own thing and won’t apologize for it. Which is, I guess, exactly how I look in this picture.

So, I don’t know. I’m going off soon, off into the deep, taking the plunge and hoping the water will carry me back to the surface. But if I was able to pull off a ridiculous tracksuit at age 3, I’m feeling confident in facing this next adventure. An adventure, which will begin across from where this picture was taken 20 years ago. Wish me luck!

Breathless

It’s the calm before the storm. It’s the moment before the wind will pick up speed, making the waves crash against the cliff walls. It’s the time where I hold my breath, knowing there is no other way to go but with both feet forward, taking a plunge into the deep. I feel like I’ve been running for so long and now I’m at a standstill. There’s no way back. And the way ahead may prove to be filled with some tricky waters. I can’t do anything but wait a little longer, until I’m breathless and I have to swim my way back up to survive.

Everyone has good days. And everyone has bad days. You need to experience both in order to distinguish between the two. Perhaps most staggering of all is when they follow up on each other at a breakneck speed, but perhaps it’s only normal. When you go high that fast, you will fall down in equal measure. And that’s okay.

These are the days I will remember. They are the days I will memorize in my mind, in my heart, in writing, in music, in whatever medium I can find. Whether good or bad, it’s the intense days that remind me of what it means to be alive. I’ve had too many flatline-days: days that don’t make a difference in the grand design. Days that don’t make your heart skip, but where it keeps flatlining at a steady beep. A dime a dozen, I suppose. Days that you’ve forgotten before the clock has struck midnight to announce a new sunrise ahead. They are not the days when inspiration will hit. They are not the days where my mind will soar, for better or worse, and bring with it all that I have pouring out.

*

Today I will remember. Today I know that I am breathless. I am immobile. I am in hiding. And I am trapped. Because I know what lies ahead. And yet I have no clue at all. There is a vast landscape ahead of me, filled with uncharted territories. In some I may find joy, others might bring grief and worse, some could forebode danger. For all intents and purposes, I suppose that is what growing into adulthood feels like. In the past I’ve acknowledged fears about it, as well as the excitement coursing through my veins, but never my inability to make it feel real in my head. I don’t how to make something feel real when I’ve never, not once, experienced it before. Again, this is a day where the range of the human emotional spectrum astounds me. To be honest, if I could, I would draw up a cocoon around me and let that be my safe world. Like a safe blanket, which ruffles softly against my toes and can be held close without fear of suffocation. I’d be alright living life as a caterpillar. Not everyone is meant to be a butterfly, least of all me. But there is no return ticket on the clock that is otherwise known as life.

I’ve read that some cultures see time as a circular motion. That’s in stark contrast to here in the West, where time is linear. There is a beginning. And there is an ending. And you can only go one way. Perhaps my lungs will kick in again if I familiarize myself with a circular way of viewing time. Perhaps that will take the pressure off and my chest can rise once more. Yes, this Western world of ours might have all the technology “inferior worlds” are still lacking… But we have a terrifying notion of growing older. And in that respect, we could learn so, so much. Because not only do we radically judge all human beings at the first sight of wrinkles, but we teach our children that there is a limited amount of time where you can “live your life to the fullest”.

When you are a kid, you cannot wait to be tall. When you are a teenager, you cannot wait to be taken seriously. When you reach your twenties, the full weight of adulthood hits you like a flatiron against your skull. But in your thirties you already start feeling like your best years are behind you. By the time forty looms around the corner, you’re due for your midlife crisis, because that’s when you’re deemed “old enough” for it. And anyone past fifty is considered old, in mind, body and spirit. A fate worse than death, I think. So I say… I say we revolt. I say we yank the rug out from under society’s norms and values and choose our own. I say we choose our own damn fate. Our own damn path. And I say we do not wait too long, before it is too late. A final statement, which I hope will be seen for the irony it depicts.

*

I am not going to divulge my secrets today. Not here. Not to the world. I will not spill the details on the innermost workings of my soul. Not today. Whether high or low, today will be remembered only by me. And through my experiences, I grow. Through my memory of those experiences, I learn. And today, I have learned many a thing. Maybe the most important one being that you can never go home again. Not that home is unsafe or unfamiliar, but it holds no more new experiences. Which translates in a standstill once more. So I will go forward soon. And I pray that the dreams I chase and the doors I choose are the right ones. But in all fairness, the world isn’t perfect. And my life has never been a fairytale. So I can only hope that, when I do start breathing again, I will feel my pulse quicken once again.

From down in the valleys below, anyone with enough willpower can rise. So here I go. Any minute now…