I have two really good friends who I cherish very much. One will FaceTime me for five hours straight as we talk about the minor inconveniences we experienced that day in immaculate detail. The other calls me and we talk about career crises and trips to London over the summer holiday. I try to catch up with them often, but when life gets in the way and we don’t see each other for weeks, it feels like I have a gaping hole in my heart. For me, these two are my biggest soulmates. And this piece is dedicated to all the things I hope will come true for them.
December 2019. I’ve made plans with my friend, Tom, for a very late celebration of my 18th birthday. 18 doesn’t feel all that different from 17 — I am pleased with the prospect of being able to drink, but a little disappointed that I will no longer be able to scream the lyrics to ‘Dancing Queen’ with as much personal conviction.
The last time we saw each other, your feet were perched on the seat as you smoked a cigarette in my car. I tried to hide my grimace as the lights of passing cars played shadows on my face. The tobacco was bold and all-consuming. As I spoke about the turmoil of my schedule, I caught your bored gaze, wandering eyes and pursed lips. You wanted to keep talking about yourself. A heaviness latched inside me as I realised that I was not your friend, but merely a confidant. A sister. A therapist.
Unfortunately, we can’t all be forced into karaoke at a New Year’s Eve party with a stranger and have that person move to our school when the term starts. Alas, life is not an excellent musical film by Disney Channel, but anything can happen when you take a chance.
I write to you today in a flurry of tears. It is with my deepest regret, that I must abandon my post, and respectfully and woefully step down from the minimum wage retail job that you kindly gifted me so long ago.
As I write this on a gloomy day, it’s hard to stay positive with such dull weather, with the state of the world, in this economy in crisis. The world as we know it is always in flux. Conversations around the climate crisis, a recession and a never-ending array of diseases that seem to prolong the pandemic. The resulting rise of the cost of living, inequality and discrimination seem to have set root in our public consciousness — and become so normalised and trivial. It is true that in these trying times, much remains beyond our control. Society is as polarised as ever, causing many to seek validation and acceptance as they feel left out and unheard. The question is then, how do we find hope? Can it even exist in such dire circumstances? What is all this talk about hope anyway?
Sometimes when you’re in need of a little hope, you might be inclined to venture outside for a walk or to enjoy a fun night out. Other times, you may simply want to retreat to your room, withdraw from the outside world, and enjoy some alone time.
One thing we can all relate to is the inevitable highs and lows that life offers us. I think sometimes it seems as though every win is matched with three losses. As soon as you feel like you’re climbing the ladder of victory, there’s a strong, mighty wind that swoops around to knock you down a few pegs. When I’m feeling positive, I like to see it as character-building. When I’m revelling in pessimism, I feel sorry for myself and like to blame my own actions for things not going the way I wish they did. Really, it’s a horrible feeling to be down on yourself. But what’s the key to being resilient through our ongoing misfortunes?
I think my love affair with the bright side of life started when my dad and I watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian — we’re the only two people in our family of six who loved that movie. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Brian is mistakenly believed to be the messiah, despite his protests that he is just an ordinary guy. He is then sentenced to death and while all his followers and his girlfriend have the chance to save him, they instead vow to preach his teachings and form a new religion in his name. So, as he is hanging there after being crucified, his buddy the next cross along tells him to “cheer up you old bugger, give us a grin” and launches into song. Needless to say, the joke never fails to get a good laugh out of me.