On certainty (and changing your mind)

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.

Writer, artist and occasional poet. Lover of philosophy, folklore, history + curiosities. UX writer by day. Writing a book about death by night.

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