When I was small, my only requirements for my future job were that I would never have to get up in the dark, and I would never have to wear a suit. I loved dirt, skateboards, mountain bikes and loud music. I loved baggy trousers, bike chains worn as bracelets, and the outdoors. I was messy, arty, creative.
But then, ‘real life’ started to happen. GCSE’s came along and I was steered to ‘proper’ subjects. A-levels followed and I failed most of them, thoroughly fed up of being in education by that point. I remember writing my name on the front of re-sits and just walking out, time after time. Still, clearing gladly existed, so I did the ‘normal’ thing and went to uni and watched as parts of that young person started to peel away. Little by little, the alternative mindset washed away, the creativeness became buried under layers of normality.
I graduated and got a job in a shop. I got promoted, promoted, and promoted again. I became sleek and styled, missing biking and replacing it with commuting, missing art and replacing it with spreadsheets and figures. I wore a suit every day, got up in the dark and came home in the dark. I’m glad to say my love of loud music stuck with me, although now the loud beats masked a stressed out mind.
I became so buried under what everyone thought I should be doing that I could no longer remember who I was underneath. When I left management, I spent 3 years floating, in the shock of the stress, with no direction and no memory of what I enjoyed. I was a shell.
But now it’s returning, slowly, quietly. I remember the love of mud, of rainstorms, of a thumping bassline, of climbing trees and long summer days.
I remember who I was before the GCSE’s, the person who loved the other view, the nature lover, the person who ran 4 hours for fun and rode bikes through quarries rather unskilfully.
What’s strange and wonderful is that at 32, I’m coming back. The person who I thought was a distant memory is real, alive, and getting stronger every day. I feel like I took a detour but I got here in the end. I’m sitting in my bedroom 18 years ago, smiling at myself in the future, knowing I got here eventually, even though it took a while longer than I thought.
Life happens to us, but we can remember that the person we thought we’d lost is always still there, sometimes louder, sometimes quieter, waiting to come back.
I faded out but now I can turn up the colour…and the volume, of course.