the difference a decade makes
1998: I am 19. I am single. I drink still water. I have been working a year after finishing school – starting at the local supermarket and moving on to a PR company. I spend August travelling in South Africa with my brother and his girlfriend. And when August says goodbye, I pack up my things and leave my parents to take a journalism course in another part of the country – a course I pay with my own hard-earned money.
University is my next step. I dream of doing literature and am unaware that I will end up choosing communication as my major. I am unaware of how many years I will be spending at university – this is a good thing, I think. I have yet to be in a serious relationship, have yet to be taken by surprise and fall in love with a friend.
I drink coffee like the typical 19 year old: Every sip is a reminder that I am concurring the world of the grownups. Every sip is, however much of it I like, prove I am no longer a kid.
I dream of a lot of different things. Plans and dreams and wishes changes on a daily basis and all that is constant is the “10 years from now” interviews with myself I play in my head as plans, dreams and wishes change. I feel as if the whole world is right in front of me and I have just to take the first bite – and if I don’t like it, I will be served something else, something with a different flavour, because naturally the world will fit my needs.
2008: I am 29. I am married. I now choose sparkling water over still. I am on my second job after finishing university. I have colleagues and a mortgage and six weeks of vacation a year – and I have a living room that may look nicer than it did three years ago, but still look nothing like I dreamed it would when we bought the place.
I am on my second journalism course. This time it is paid by work. I don’t have a next step. I don’t go somewhere new from here, I go back to work. I like my job, but I am sometimes frightened by the idea that I will stay there until I find something else, that I can stay there until I am old if nothing else comes along.
I drink less coffee. I have gone from drinking anything as long as it’s called coffee to being picky. My home has an espresso machine and I entertain.
I still dream of a lot of different things, but I have narrowed it down. More than nothing else I want a baby. I fight with myself daily to avoid planning my life around a baby I can’t be sure I will ever have. I remind myself that I also want to explore places, read books, stay up late and watch crappy TV shows.
My focus has changed. I have learned that if you don’t like the flavour of the world, you can’t necessarily expect to be served something else – sometimes you’re not even offered a bite.
And yet, however much has changed and even if it is not as often as it used to be, I still find myself interviewing the future me. I still find myself needing to go over plans and dreams and wishes in my head as much as I did a decade ago.