Today is my last night. I have become accustomed to long summer months of freedom, where a year of stress is relieved. Knowing that there is no plan, other than the one that I have set myself, is something that you rarely have the chance or the time to do. Nevertheless, this summer has been the perfect time to relax and recollect on all of the summers that have come before.
I have always tried to make the most of the free time I have. Before it gets to July, I had already planned out how the two months were going to pan out – one week at this company, two weeks volunteering here, a few days here and there at home. I don’t stop running. I am almost busier when I am supposed to be free. So close friends of mine have always joked that I don’t really know what the real definition of relaxation is, because I seem to do the opposite.
I love it, but this year I realised that I never really took time off. When I was supposed to be just chilling at a mate’s house, I was on a week long course. When I should have been playing in the park, I was too busy organising work experience. When I should have enjoyed being a kid, I was too busy trying to grow up. Trying to prove that age was not going to stop me from walking into boardrooms or working with decision makers. And making sure that adults took me seriously.
I don’t regret any of the decisions that I made, but I wanted to give myself a chance to do the things I missed out on. And in true hyper-organised style, I wrote down a list of things that I wanted to achieve so I could cross them off. The picture of that list is at the top. And as you can see, I am chuffed with how much I have done. But at the same time, I wanted to feed my soul. It wasn’t enough to do things, but to enjoy doing nothing productively.
I started reading again for pleasure, ditching academics for storytellers. I cooked knowing that it made my happy, rather than out of necessity. I wanted to run outside because the weather was so beautiful, not just because I wanted to drop a few. I made the effort to break bread with people that inspired/scared/loved me because I wanted to spend time with them, not because I hadn’t seen them in a while. I got into designing again and smiled through the long hours of editing on Photoshop. After 19 years, I finally took a deep breath and learned how to ride a bicycle – this was one of my proudest moments. Most of all though, I made time for me.
Some of these things probably mean nothing to you. Most people are shocked when they find out I can’t ride a bike. But the truth is, there were a lot of things that I just didn’t make time for, because I was preparing for a future. Now I want to live it.
And that is the only thing that I can say to you that is noteworthy. On this last real night of my childhood, when I feel like I am finally becoming the adult I was too eager to become: I am so glad that I was a kid. That I felt the innocence. That I made the mistakes. That I looked stupid and embarrassed myself. That I believed the world could sort itself out. And that the most important people were my Mum and Dad – and they were like superheroes.
Because isn’t that what the world really needs? Child-like optimism. Through the 60 (or more likely 600) days of summer, all of these things one way or another were true and they made me happier than anything. I didn’t feel stress or frustration or loss. I just felt free.
Now I have stopped running, and I’m ready to fly.