The teenage years are generally considered to be transformative. A right of passage in which our bodies and brains develop and change until we hardly recognise ourselves. They are complicated, and confusing. The 20-teens have certainly lived up to this reputation. It may sound glib, but a ‘decade of extremes’ would be putting it lightly. Soaring highs and devastating lows became recurring themes. My life has been flipped upside down and turned inside out on more than one occasion.
In the space of ten years, I found a new career, cheered on my partner as he pursued his dream to make his first feature film, and tried, with every fibre of my being, to fend off the demons that process subsequently brought. We got engaged. I brought the most special person I’ll ever know into the world, and I lost my soulmate. In the space of just 3 and a half years, I registered my marriage, the birth of my daughter and the death of my husband at the same registry office. Three times I took the 10 minute stroll from my house to put the best and worst days of my life on public record. Two months after my wedding my parents separated, and subsequently divorced. Two years later We welcomed their lovely new partners into our family. My income has doubled, halved, doubled and halved again as I have sought a career with purpose, stability and convenience. I’ve travelled to 3 continents, stayed in plush 5 star hotels and creeky old motels.
Change is natural, essential and inevitable. A decade can flash by, but we are always altered by its passing. And yet Change is something most people fear. We like the familiar, an environment in which we know every nook and cranny – the dark corners to avoid and the ones that are cosy enough to nap in.
It’s a blessing that I am not one of those people. I relish change and generally look forward to it. Perhaps it’s something I learned from moving house regularly growing up – as renters we became used to changing homes every year or so, and were expert movers. We could pack, transport and unpack our belongings in 48 hours. By the time I moved in with Omid, I had lived in 14 houses. He, ten years my senior, had lived in two (Ava had equalled that at 18 months old). He was incredibly resistant to change – It took me a decade to persuade him to change the colour of the scatter cushions on our sofa (from cream to grey). With an unpredictable career, familiarity in this case bred stability. While his success and income fluctuated, it was essential that the rest his life be consistent. He spent hours each day weaving stories from threads of genius, hiking across a desert, escaping a hijacked train, fighting god-like aliens on Mars, so at the end of the day he grounded himself with routine and consistency.
As the new decade dawns, I am trying not to place too much importance on it. It is an era that Omid will never know – another barrier behind me through which he cannot pass. But, a decade is a social construct. Something we all agree to acknowledge. In reality it’s just one moment in the continuing passing of time. Nothing is expected of an oak tree because of this ‘new era’. It’s just another day. And so I will try not to expect too much of myself or of life in the next ten years – if the past ten years have taught me anything it’s that life is utterly unpredictable. It will throw things at you you cannot possibly prepare for. So rather than set myself goals, I will try to appreciate each moment as it comes, count my blessings each day, and hold on tight to those I love. More change is undoubtedly in store, and I will endeavour to embrace it, learn from it and grow, just as the oak tree does.