Chapter 24

Chapter 24 of this book of life has had me reminiscing (in a positive light) on what is easiest to describe as ‘part one’ of my life. I’ve found myself thinking about how 2018 Haylee totally would have just thrown the drink in his face, done the uncool thing because well it’s my cool thing, and just ate the damn second piece of Toblerone cheesecake. But that is not entirely true, it depends where I am in the world. Wait, what?

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My twenty somethings have often landed me in rooms full of new faces, rooms full of new stories, of new perceptions and new friendships. With people from different walks of life, never having heard my story before. When the introduction and eyes turn to me, unfamiliar compliments and questions are soon to follow.

I would say that since moving away from home those ensuing conversations have become somewhat familiar, though that isn’t the case. Coming from a small(ish) town, where even if you don’t know someone, you still ‘know’ them, I’m constantly surprised about how people abroad perceive me. It’s quite a luxury meeting new people, and not being defined by preconceived notions.

I mean, when you’ve been to school with a majority of the people sitting at the bar (metaphorically speaking, I don’t go out much at home) it’s almost like there is an internal narrative that shadows who you are today with who you were way back when… When I was extra-extra-introverted, when I had yet to discover my passions, my purpose… my voice.

My Mum will be the first person to attest that I am currently the polar opposite of my teenage self, since she has landed herself a front row seat on the receiving end of my new-found voice (sorry Mumma, I love you). But hey at least I’m testing you in ways other than begging for an extra pack of cruisers for the weekend…progress.

Now realistically, I know those people sitting at the bar could not give a tinker’s damn about whether their old class mate had changed or not. Though I must admit that at first it was hard being myself, knowing that they knew me as someone I no longer knew myself. It wasn’t until during the few months I spent at home this year that I came to accept this.

I hadn’t spent more than a weekend there in longer than 6 years, and I was terrified to return to somewhere I know so well but doesn’t know me.

Cue the epiphany…I am still me, it’s just now I have a few extra (a lot) toppings. My teenage memories hold life lessons that did foster the path I chose. While I say leaving all I knew is what has shaped me into who I am today, it can’t have all the credit – home played its part as well.

Though to me, I found my true self by meeting new and likeminded people. I felt like I was given the gift of being able to reintroduce myself to the world, wiping that slate clean, I could quite literally be whoever I wanted to be.

So, I stand before you today as an avid traveller, bookworm, strongminded woman and writer, because I have made my life mean and be what I want it to – and you can too.

– Haylee x

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