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And so I mourn the loss of my 19-year-old self.

A creative retrospective on grief & identity from our Operations Director, Jana Tobin.


And so I mourn the loss of my 19-year-old self.


For am I less fun or is the fun I seek just different?

Am I boring or have I simply mellowed?


Should I focus on myself or devote my spare time to my friends and family?

And if the former, when do I find the time to “catch up” with the latter? 

Yet, I want more than a catch-up, I want to know your soul and share the depth of your anxieties and tell you mine too.


Is it just me that feels this way or is it a phase of life; a rite of passage.


I am forever overwhelmed by the choice.


Is it that there is too much to do, or is it that I want to do everything?


Should I not want to do everything? 

Should I just be satisfied with my stable job and stable life?


Yet I don’t feel stable at all.


Restless.


Is this a quarter-life crisis?

The frontal lobe develops and all of a sudden I must decide the trajectory of my life now. Deciding who I am and who I will be.


Should I use my life savings for a house deposit like I always planned, or fuck it off on an expedition to the Atacama desert. Or buy some really niche art, or stocks in forex. Or devote my time to becoming a competitive cross-country skier or get a dog or get concert tickets to see Burna Boy again, for the third time in the past year.


And within me, the metronome of indecision rocks on and I cope by doom-scrolling. A mode of distraction. But should I be reading a book, or learning a new language to better myself for the long run?


And so I mourn the loss of my 19-year-old self.

Who knew everything and yet was still so carefree. Albeit on occasion naively careless.

She who had not yet experienced grief or realised the transience of life or the relationships we have while we’re here.


And as much as I embrace my growth, I feel myself resisting it at the same time.

I am not ready to let go of who I have been. And although she will continue to live within me, it is hard not to compare who I have become.


And I feel quietly sad. All the time. Nostalgic and fearful. Or just lacking fulfilment? 


Is my lack of fulfilment a result of passive living? Life happening to me rather than my active participation. 


‘Slow down baby’ I tell myself as I feel the anxiety scampering in my chest

‘Step back from the edge baby’ I tell myself as I feel my thoughts spiral into the wormhole of if buts and maybes.


Consistently overwhelmed.


And so I mourn the loss of my 19-year-old self. With the taste of envy in my mouth.

She who had clear checkpoints ahead of her. To submit the essay. To graduate. To get a job.

A life still littered with options, yet the weight of them somewhat less heavy.


Was it time?

Was it guidance?


Do I miss being told what to do? Not particularly. But would I like someone to hold my hand and stroke my hair while I do it myself? Honestly, yes. That would be nice.

I want to know that it will be alright. Whatever I choose. And if it’s not, will I have time to change my mind?


Must I commit to one path? Seemingly not, but how do I choose which one?


I guess it’s like skiing or mountain biking, the only two analogies I can think of to compare it to. 

You put in all the hard work at the start, and then you pick your route down. You can’t choose them all, but it’s always breathtaking. And if you’re lucky and you do have time at the end, you can go back up and try another trail. 


Is it now that I have been in my stable job and stable life for three years that I panic about whether this is it? Is this just life now?


So I ask myself again, will I have time to change my mind? 


But does it matter if I don’t, if, whatever it is I do decide makes me happy? Must I simply accept that I cannot do everything? 


And find peace with mundanity. And joy with simplicity. And realise that to age is the blessing.


And so I mourn the loss of my 19-year-old self, as I crave reliving the memorable moments she lived through. And yet, I wish nothing less than to ever have to repeat them. 


Proceeding with caution, if you will. Tentatively taking hold of the handlebars and embracing the ride, whichever the path I find myself on.


 

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