When I think of my future it has always been clear. I suppose I am an among the few who’s raison d’etre rang out their chest like a promise. A heavy, burning promise. I’ve always known that someday, somehow, I would be a writer.
Now, this dream has taken many guises. For the longest time, I wanted to be a war correspondent. There was something very raw and real and necessary about it. I romanticised the hell of its reality: I saw purpose, I saw truth. I overlooked the broken bodies. I ignored the torn limbs.
In my personal statement before university, I mooned over ‘muted mouths’. I wanted to look deeply into the eyes of all that was awful. I wanted to put my hands on the face of all that ugliness and draw it in close. I thought I — someone who cries easily and hurts deeply — could somehow stare at all that horror and remain intact. My appetite for self-destruction and overstated sense of self-importance mixed to make a dream I wanted to think was honourable, but really was just a teenage need for chaos and rebellion.
Eventually my better judgement overtook my want of recognition. So, my dream turned outwards. I’d be a travel writer. I saw unknown lands and terra incognita. Here be lions my heart would say. I saw a sun-kissed perfect version of myself all freedom and blonde hair, smiling and swinging in a hammock. I saw rawness and exploration. I was a nomad, a vagabond, a wild extension of my literary heroes and a woman wholly at home in the world.
I still feel guilty for the routes not taken and roads deferred, postponed; but I am learning to let go of the versions and visions my younger self had for our future. I am slowly releasing those dreams. Of who and what I wanted to be. I’m forgetting the arbitrary dates and milestones I marked in my lifeline, because I can’t and won’t be held to ransom for dreams my younger selves had.
I thought for the longest time that altering course was a cop out. That this shift of direction was me giving up. But I have learnt it is okay to change your mind. You can and should readjust your trajectory. I felt tied to a path for because it was what I always wanted. It was the story I made for myself, told myself and wrote into my relationships and relations to the world.
What a beautiful and weighty thing: the ability to choose. The option to change.
And my dream is changing now. I am waking up to beauty of staying still, of taking root. Of not running so goddamn fast for once. I am dreaming of a big, bright space that is just for me. Where I’ll sit quietly in the morning drinking coffee. I’ll stack my artwork against a wall in the corner and sit on a window-ledge looking out over the city. I’ll make a jungle of my bedroom, I’ll fill my fireplace up with books. I’ll light candles and soften my edges, I’ll make a world for and of myself.
Don’t get me wrong — I still want the whole world with a burning churn in my stomach. I still can’t get through a Wednesday without getting itchy feet and that gasping feeling I get in my chest when I need to be in the forest or by the sea, I’m just not in such a rush anymore.
I have the quiet confidence of a woman who knows it’ll come to her. I have exchanged urgency for presence. I know there are so many versions of myself I am yet to meet, so I rest, I take a deep breath and break communion with myself. I suck every moment dry before its inevitable annihilation. I pull out a chair and invite the future in. The words will come. The novels will come. There is time yet, and I am not afraid. It’s that promise ringing out again — it’ll come because it has to, it’ll come because it’s what I’m meant to do. There is no other way, and there never was.