When I think back to that year, the lasting impression I have is how flat it was. I was apathetic, and that was certainly never something I had been before.
The world seemed to be going mad. I felt terrible for feeling terrible when people were facing life-or-death situations and there was a new tragedy every few days. What was my problem? My education seemed worthless, but it was an excellent education. I had a job – who cared if it was unfulfilling? (Was anyone really fulfilled by their work?) I had my family and a loving home and friends.
It was a reunion with some girls I had known from university that made me force a change. These girls – women, really – had all acquired a year’s experience in the industry I longed to work in. Not one of them had a position that I had envied one year previously, yet they were opportunities I wish I had now had.
The year had gone at once fast and slow, and – for me – nothing had changed. Someone said not to worry about the career, because I was probably doing well in other ways – me, the last single girl, still living with her parents. I had failed in every way. When the reunion was called off, I was actually relieved.
It is strange, or perhaps entirely expected, that I had one of the best experiences of my life against this grey background. Maybe my dreary day-to-day exaggerated its vibrancy: one month spent travelling, seeing places I never dreamed I would be able to see and doing things I never knew I wanted to do. It was the most alive I had ever felt. Most of us enjoy holidays, but to find such delight, almost belonging, in the complete vacation of your life? That’s reserved for those of us who are unhappy.
I was disillusioned, and thought I must finally be a grown-up.
It is amazing how bad things can feel when you’re living them, and how quickly you forget once the moment passes.