I recently turned 28. I found myself reflecting on my first 10 years as an adult and what I had done with this time. What have I achieved? Have I changed at all and if so how?
The last question is an easy one to answer, yes I have changed, a lot. An 18 year old me who never have thought about putting my thoughts and reflection into written words. So the new question is how have I change? Both What has caused these changes and what they actually are.
To answer that question I feel a look back on the last 10 years could help.
First things first I am a Dyslexic 28 year old who has never really written so if you dislike poor grammar or incorrect spelling maybe this isn’t for you. I’m writing this for myself, to aid my reflection and to help me catalogue my memories and emotions around them all. My memories may not all be accurate and perhaps be vague in areas so please, if I miss anything or if what I write isn’t accurate, it is not deliberate.
This will invariably be the ramblings of a man in his mid twenties reminiscing and processing emotions these cause so I doubt there will be any structure. But I invite anyone reading this to join me on this journey where ever it may take me.
So here goes………… Where to begin I suppose the logical beginning would be at that first year of adulthood, my 18th year.
I kicked off adulthood in fine style with an 18th birthday party to end all party. My parents had kindly rented the top floor of a local nightclub and organised a bouncy castle to be in the club. Alcohol and bouncing, what could go wrong. As it turned out, nothing. It was a fantastic evening, even if my friend Leon had to foot the bill for the bouncy castle due to a lack of cash.
When I turned 18 I was In a stable and happy relationship. I had a great group of friends and a fantastic girlfriend. But I wasn’t settled or fully happy. This is where reflection a decade later can play I vital role. At the time I didn’t quite understand how I felt, didn’t understand the causes of some of my rather erratic behaviour at the time. At 28, I feel I now do. The causes go back a few years. Sadly when I was 15 and in my final year of school I lost my best friend in very tragic circumstances. My friend Nick died suddenly whilst on holiday abroad. Now all death and bereavement is tragic, however the suddenness and the circumstances surrounding this were so traumatic that it would shape the next few years, and perhaps the rest of my life. I was 15 years old and faced with a realisation that I truly don’t wish upon anyone else that young. Mortality. I realise now that at the time I didn’t manage my grief, I just pushed it to one side and locked it up tightly in a box, never to see the light of day.
Flash forward again to 18 year old me. I was in 6th form, not because I wanted to be there but because I hadn’t been able to see any other direction or option at 16. 6th form was what was expected in the school I went too, an I was a bright young man so to 6th form I went.
I didn’t want to be there, so I never really turned up. I think my attendance over the 2 years was around 50%
i didn’t have a job, I just did nothing on the days I didn’t go to school I just existed. I lived for the after school hours when my girlfriend finished school and my friends finished work. These times were amazing and I had so much fun but during the hours I wasn’t at school, and even the hours I was, I wasn’t happy.
I finished my A Levels and managed to somehow gain 3 half decent grades. The next expectation was university. I had enough self realisation at the time to know that that would not be for me. Ive often thought as I’ve got older that I regret not going to unit (normally when I hit that no graduate glass ceiling with work) but I do realise that I made the correct decision as I wasn’t in the right mental state to have completed it.
This left me with nothing to do, even half heartedly. I spent a good 3 or 4 months doing absolutely nothing in the day time. I couldn’t muster up the energy or desire to job hunt, I was living with my parents, I didn’t need too. I think my parents must have been quite worried about me and if memory serves me my mum found an exciting looking job opportunity that was geared towards school leavers. I think she may have even done the application.
I went to the interview within a week and was soon off to live in the isle of Wight to become a kids activity instructor. I absolutely loved it. Now my memories of the isle of Wight and working for Kingswood my have a rose tinted shade to them so ill try and see through that and be analytical.
I was swept up in the new found freedom I had. I was 18, living away from home in a house with around 70 other 18-25 year olds and I lapped it up. The job itself was great fun, teaching children various outdoor pursuits like climbing, orienteering and quad biking. I’m sure you know and may have even been to these sorts of places.
As wonderful as the job was, the lifestyle was even better. Our pay was borderline illegal, £250 a month. The hours were long and we got minimal days off but it was amazing. I formed lifelong friendships with the people I worked with, drank stupid amounts of cheap alcohol. My routine was work, party, then work again the next morning. To this day I’m thankful nothing bad ever happened to the kids at the centre knowing most of the staff had been drinking until 2 the previous morning. I even managed to complete an NVQ while I was there.
I do have regrets about my time there. As I was caught up in the exciting freedom of it all I ended the relationship I was in. I ended it really badly and was a total Dick about it all. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I realise my own immaturity now.
So here I was, 18, doing a job I loved and living a great lifestyle. There was even a very big change I would be able to progress in the organisation, when Bam, another tragedy hits. I lost my grandfather very suddenly. I don’t believe I work another day in the IOW after the phone call I received saying he had died. I went on compassionate leave, went back after a couple of weeks, then after a couple days left again. As I write on this will become a running theme, something bad happens and I make a erratic spontaneous life changing decision.
I’m 19 now and back in reading without a clue of what to do again. Lots of my friends were now at university, I had burnt all my bridges with my ex girlfriend due to my previous behaviour and I didn’t know what to do.
I had a friend from new Zealand, Alix, whom id met on the IOW come to stay for a few days while she enjoyed her last few months in the UK. We spoke about what she was going to and she mentioned a trip to Ireland she was planning, and did I fancy going along as well? It was in 2 days…… Well heck of course I did. So a few days later and I’m on an overnight coach from London to Dublin.
If you haven’t ever been to Ireland then I thoroughly recommend it. Its truly a beautiful country with beautiful, friendly people. It was also my introduction to backpacking and travelling. I was eased into the backpacker life as my tour around Ireland was all organised through a company called The Paddy Wagon. I was on a coach full of 30 something Aussies and Kiwis.
As the only Englishman on the coach I was subject to quite a bit of banter but I loved it. I met people from the other side of the world who would tell me all about their home, all this while I was away from home and exploring somewhere new. What more could anyone want. I’m still in contact with many of the people I met on this trip and have visited them and them me. Mutually beneficial friendship!!! But my eyes were well and truly opened to the magic of travelling. To the sights, smells, people and experiences on offer. I was instantly hooked.
Wow ok so I’ve emerged from my reminiscent typing state and realised I’ve written an essay and I’m still only a year and a bit into the 10 I was going to write about. So I think ill leave it there for now.
I hope anyone that has read this far will have enjoyed the first year and a half of my adult life!