The Road Ahead
This time last year, I was stood at the beginning of a road that I couldn’t be entirely sure I knew the route of. A road with a few flagpoles ready and rooted into the ground: stepping into a manager role at a film festival, to start with, and then the looming flagpole ahead of moving to Canada. But between and beyond such flagpoles hung a mist of uncertainty, of not really knowing where, or towards what, I might be headed.
There was a time in my life when such uncertainty would have paralysed me – and there are still times when that is true. There are more difficult days when the anxiety that I have surrounding that which I don’t know or can’t control is too much for me to take that step forward. But it feels as though over the course of the past year, a lot of that anxiety has shifted weight and allowed me to move again.
It might have been as a consequence of making that move to Canada. After moving five thousand miles, stacked up like a pack mule with bags and little else to guide me, maybe it just became the course that the other things seemed that bit easier. Or maybe it was just a consequence of growth and how I’ve changed over the past year.
But as I think over the past year, on the eve of my 25th birthday, it’s to think on a whole lot of yeses. A whole lot of doing things that I’ve always wanted to do but never have. Sometimes, because I just really hadn’t processed it as a thing I could just do, if I wanted to. Often, though, because the idea of actually doing said things was just too impossible. The anxiety of but what if? a constant plague to progress.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to tap dance. I’d done the requisite four year old girl’s few months of ballet, followed by years and years of Scottish dancing during my later school years. (There were medals. Did you know you can get medals for Scottish dancing? You can get medals for Scottish dancing!) As an adult, I dabbled in a few theatre-style jazz classes on spare evenings.
This year, I started tap dancing. I bought myself the shoes and I signed up to a class and I now spend my Thursday evenings clickity-clacking away at a top-floor studio downtown and my Sunday mornings tightening the screws on my taps.
I’ve always loved to sing – but singing in front of other people, by myself? Forget it.
This year, I decided why not? and got up and did karaoke in front of a bar full of strangers.
I’ve been writing for years and never read aloud at any kind of open mic session.
This year, I sat down in front of packed room on the east side and read out a handful of pages from my pirate book.
None of those are particularly big things but none of them are things I would have been able to do a year ago. Moving to Canada was a bigger thing and I did that. So, what was next?
The riskier part of how I’ve lived over the past year has been in my career. It was only last summer that I really began to process the reality that I work in film; that I kind of had been, for far longer than I’d acknowledged from the work I’d been doing. This year has been the learning curve of developing that: of discovering where I want to take that within the industry. It’s been a year of odd-jobs and contract work and freelancing. And, as a result, frequently a year of shuttling money around from my savings and worrying about the next month’s rent and an overall lack of stability.
The summer to come is going to follow in the same fashion, if a little more consistently employed thanks to festival season coming into its own around this time of the year. And beyond that, I have to start finding my feet in what I want to do and making decisions that will allow me to build a more stable path into my future.
I still don’t know what’s at the end of the road, or even the flagpoles on the way to it. I don’t know exactly what it is I’m seeking out or hoping to achieve but, as this year has progressed, I’ve felt more and more confident that I’m on the right road for me.
Tomorrow, I turn 25 years old and I’ve spend a lot of time over the past few weeks mentally berating myself for not being there yet. For not being settled into a full-time job with a boyfriend of two years and a plan for the future. But there are flagpoles and there are milestones that stretch beyond the conventional checkboxes that we search out in the meandering openness of post-graduation adulthood.
Maybe, a milestone can just be achieving something new, however small. Maybe, a milestone can be taking that class you’ve always wanted to take or being satisfied in having made a good decision in your career. Maybe, a milestone can be in figuring out that, actually, that was a bad date and you don’t need to see them again.
The mist that hangs over the road ahead hasn’t entirely lifted – I don’t suspect it ever will. But there’s something beckoning me along that I am powerless to say no to. So, here’s to 25 and wherever the next year takes me as I continue on.