On Wanting to Start Over Again

Yesterday before bed I wrote in my notepad, "I want to start over again." That's all I could think of writing; that's all I could cogitate as my last words for the end of a long week. Maybe it's because I'm feeling fed up of living in Canada. Maybe it's because my personal life sucks. Maybe it's because I haven't been working (at a paying gig) in over a month and it's starting to get to my head. Maybe it's because I'm broke. Maybe it's because my writing hasn't been going as well as I'd hoped. I'm only a few chapters into my book, and when I read those chapters back I see them as mediocre. Or maybe I just need to get over myself and work harder.

I had been going through some boxes, stuffed in a closet at my parents house that I leave for years on end because I never have a home of my own to put them in. I came across a series of textbooks from Cegep (college). They were from a course that was a requirement for my program, where we studied the basics of arts, history, and current events from the Mesopotamia to the present. I loved the class. By memorizing lines from the Decameron and analyzing the ideas behind Gin Lane and A Modest Proposal, I thought that it would equip me to take on the world. That's what we're told, right? Study what you love, study hard, and good stuff will happen. Well, not always. I reflected on all that I've learnt and all I've been told and I realized: My life just doesn't add up. So I sighed and said to myself "I want to start it all over again."
Maybe my life has been so awesome that I just want to live out my 20's again. I just want to go another round before I turn...30. Maybe it's because when I'm at the coffee shop writing I am surrounded by students cramming for their exams, I see a glimmer in their eyes that I just don't have. This shouldn't be the result of getting older. This shouldn't be the reality.
I want to go back to the time when everything was in front of me. When I was surrounded by young minds and crazy teachers on a daily basis discussing important issues, rather than sharing our mundane plans for the future. I don't care that you just bought a house...what can we do to solve the global financial crisis? How can we work to make our city more like Copenhagen? What do you think of David Sedaris' latest?
As I was re-reading my text book late at night, I realized that over ten years have passed since college. I've worked, traveled, gained and lost a ton of friends, fallen in love, volunteered in different countries, accomplished things that I'm proud of, lived in many different apartments in a few cities. My faith has grown, my knowledge of the world has too. When I look back at the things I've been fortunate enough to have been a part of and my head tells me that I shouldn't whine and complain. I can't help but feel like something is missing.
I don't want to live in a world where the way up, is down. Myself along with many other people I know have comprised their values and dreams for jobs. A brother of one of my good childhood friends recently purchased a house with his long term girlfriend. Doesn't this seem like a happy life event from an outsider's perspective? A year ago he left his receptionist job at a gym for a cubicle in a bank. A gym job is not the kind of job that buys big bills, especially a mortgage in a suburb, and it's not the kind of thing that impresses at family gatherings and reunions. His response when my good friend offered her sympathies when he complained to her about the bank, and she reminded him that he should maybe return to the gym, to an environment and a job he liked, was this: "It's too late for me." He owes one bank. And he needs to get paid from another. There's no turning back.
This is my biggest fear. My second biggest fear is having no idea and no prospects into some sort of professional career for myself by the time I'm 30. I'm about to have my second biggest fear realized because of the intensity I feel towards Fear Number One. This is another reason I miss school: You're biggest fear is that you might fail an exam or a paper. When the crutch of school is taken away, you're biggest fear becomes that you might fail at life.
Perhaps I'm being melodramatic. I'm aware of this. But I'm sure some of you must feel this way too. It's a fickle world out there , and every week I'm hearing new sad stories. Acquaintances I have who don't settle for low pressure love, end up on a slew of horrible first dates with disenfranchised and deluded men who think they deserve supermodels. Friends quit good jobs with horrible bosses to start companies with good values that end up going practically nowhere. People commit years of their lives to organizations that suddenly fall, and they're supposed to pick up the pieces and make a new life for themselves. Living with passion and ambition doesn't pay off a lot of the time. "Do it anyway," Mother Theresa wrote. Sadly I'm beginning to doubt this phrase.
What I'm wondering is this: If in Cegep I knew how stressful it would be at 29, would I have made the same decisions? Would I have made "safer" ones, instead of hasty ones? Would I have just picked a trade and stuck with it? I wouldn't have seen as much beauty or met as many fantastic strangers, but at least I wouldn't be losing my hair by my late 20's. When we feel this way, sometimes the only thing to do is breathe and reboot. Well fine, can I reboot to the first day of college? Books in hand and hope in heart?


I took this picture while wandering around a botanical garden just north of Seoul one rainy Saturday afternoon with some good friends. It's a nice thing to think about.

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