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.
At 15 years old, all I could think about was how great it would be if I lived alone, because that would mean I was an adult, right? I could sing my lungs out without being judged, leave the house whenever I wanted and eat at whatever time I desired. The thought of having complete independence was enticing, but I didn’t quite think about the responsibilities that came with being an adult. When the day finally came — or more accurately, the days leading up to it — I was terrified, to say the least.
I’m sitting in my first-year marketing class. The term ‘sitting in’ is a bit of a stretch, given that it’s 2020 and all of my classes have been shifted to this peculiar platform called Zoom. We’re learning about the premise of cost/sacrifice value and I’m half paying attention, thinking about whether or not I need to remember this information for this week’s Moodle quiz. Yet, fast forward to two years later and now every day I live the eternal struggle of evaluating the cost/sacrifice value of my silly little $6.50 almond latte.
If I were given a dollar for every time I was told to ‘stay positive’ and to ‘keep my chin up’ in all kinds of negative situations growing up, I’d probably be a millionaire by now. I heard it from everyone — teachers, friends, family, Disney movies, and even fictional characters in books. It helped me through some tough times, I’ll admit, but somehow I always managed to find peace in preparing for the worst. I guess you could say I’m a glass-half-empty kind of girl, and whilst some may believe this mindset is to my detriment, I dare all the optimists to practise what they preach: look on the bright side.
The taxi fills with sunlight. I’ve never been to this city before, but as I look out the window, I instinctively know I’m in LA. The car pulls up in front of a bright white hotel with large circular pillars and gleaming windows.
“Ms Davis is waiting for you in the foyer,” says a suited employee while ushering me inside. My chest tightens in anticipation. Hollywood, Davis — this can only mean one thing.