2018: The Year I Jumped
A year ago yesterday, I submitted my paperwork for my Canadian visa. A year ago, I was working as a receptionist out of my old university. My days were largely spent arguing with arrogant badminton players or grumbling about Christmas trees (I wish I was joking). A year ago, I felt like I was stuck. I’d been applying for jobs relentlessly in the six months since I’d graduated, to rarely even be afforded a generic rejection letter, let alone a chance to interview. Christmas rolled around and I spent the holiday at my parents’ house, wondering if this was it. If this was life as an adult. Stuck in a dead-end minimum wage job and desperately hoping for something more.
On New Year’s Eve, or thereabouts, my brother told me 2018 was going to be a good year. That he was sure of it. I shrugged. Maybe. Maybe not.
On January 2nd, I was invited to interview for a job in London. On January 10th, within the space of about an hour, I was offered the job and granted my Canadian visa. And, suddenly, having spent six months tearing my hair out over being stuck at a standstill, life was just, well, going.
Now, I’ll quickly add that 2018 was a really rubbish year in a lot of ways. The world has not had a good year. But, more than ever, I think we have to focus on the good, or none of us will ever get out of bed in the morning. And, for me, 2018 was a good year. 2018 was the year I needed, the year I saw the edge of the horizon with the unknown spilling out beyond it, and I jumped.
First, to London, quitting my job and moving 400 miles with as many bags as I could carry on the train. Three months that passed in a heartbeat, as I adjusted to being just another body in an impossible sea of people. I entered a stage of my life that I’ve been privileged to continue where people asked me what I did and I replied by saying I worked in film. Perhaps even more literal a reply than I intended, given that many of my days were spent quite literally tangled in the stuff, juggling reels of 35mm in a hip little office space in North East London.
I spent evenings wandering down South Bank with my best friend or nestled in the Picturehouse with a glass of wine. I made pancakes with my flatmate and set the smoke alarm off every single time. I went on a few dates, here and there, although nothing really stuck. I spent a week seriously considering the offer to stay in London and continue my life there beyond the initial three months. I had a good job. I had great friends. I had a city at my fingertips that invited me with the promise of all I could want to ever see or do. I had my family just a train ride away, where I could – and often did – spend my weekends making space puzzles with my nephew or taking my niece out for hot chocolate.
But I knew that Canada was a now-or-never kind of thing. So, I jumped, again.
Back to Edinburgh, first, and a jump of a different kind – an environment I knew and a festival I’d worked in for many years, but now in a new job. A job I admitted only later to my manager that I’d been worried I wasn’t ready for, that would be too much for me. And there were certainly moments in my eighteen hour days with my phone ringing every thirty seconds that I wondered if I’d get through it. But I did, and I loved it.
I called my brother as the festival was winding down and exclaimed to him about how insane it was that this was my job. That I was getting paid to do this thing that I loved to do, working around such interesting and inspiring people. And he laughed and said it wasn’t insane. He was the one, as he often is, to remind me of just how hard I’d worked to get to that role, and that position in the festival. I hadn’t just stumbled into it. I had earned it. And that was almost most confusing of all.
A summer to relax and reflect and pack. I spent a few weeks in Finland with my family and then stopped over in Stockholm for a few days and practiced my Swedish, a language I’ve been learning for two years. I came back to Scotland to a frantic mother and a looming countdown to my departure date.
As the days ticked closer, I wondered when it might hit. Back in 2014, I’d come just as close to moving to Italy for a year, as part of my studies. Even closer, really, as far as the airport when I ended up not going. In the weeks leading up to that day, I was a shell of myself. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I was irate and short with everyone I came into contact with. By the time I made it to the airport that foggy Saturday morning, my anxiety had wound itself up so tight that I looked and felt physically unwell.
I didn’t go to Italy and it’s the best decision I ever made. The second best decision I ever made was coming to Canada.
This time around, I was excited. There were things playing on mind, stresses about money and work and finding somewhere to live – these were natural. But that sense of panic, of impending doom, wasn’t there. I got to the airport and I cried saying goodbye to my parents, sure, but I made it through to the airport lounge and starting doing job applications for Toronto. As the plane came into land, I listened to Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way (because sometimes I like to pretend my life is a movie, we’ve all been there) and I was grinning ear-to-ear.
And when I think back on the summer of 2014 and the choice I made to not go to Italy, I don’t think of it as sitting back and letting life pass me by. Because the jump I took to not go to Italy landed me in opportunities I would never have had if I had gone, and have had a direct knock-on effect into the work I am able to do now.
Within one week of being in Toronto, I was on a film shoot. The film festival followed shortly after, and then it was a steady stream of job applications and interviews. It’s only really recently that I’ve settled into somewhat of a routine, with a fairly solid path for my work life mapped out from here until October. Three days a week, I work at one of the biggest film-based organisations in the world. Two or three days a week, I move some tables around at a huge tech organisation. Somewhere in between there, depending on the week, I run around a film set for a weekend and work on my novel.
When I think back on 2018, I am frequently alarmed by how fast it has gone by. But, equally, the amount that has happened over the past twelve months and the amount I’ve been able to fit into that space of time is almost impossible for me to comprehend.
2018 was the year that I needed. 2018 was the year that I jumped, and didn’t look back.