I am not famous or a world class doctor. Nor a world class anything, really. If anyone asked me to sum up my life in one sentence, it would be this:
Nothing has gone according to plan.
Of course, nothing ever does. When I was ten, or sixteen or even twenty, I still clung to a belief that yes, things can go according to plan. I can have it all. I can be a super rockstar opera singer bestselling author cartoonist. (The idea of medical school fell away for me shortly after discovering how badly I sucked at maths.)
|Me, aged 23. And I thought I was fat and ugly.|
At the time, I was concerned that my career as a journalist had stalled as a result of my traipsing. I worried what people thought of me. I weighed 44kgs less than what I do today and I was ashamed that I was 'fat'. I cried bitter tears that my dreams of being an opera singer had been scuppered and I was an angry, bitter bundle of nerves that lacked self-esteem and confidence. (This lack of self-esteem and confidence ended up inspiring some spectacularly bad life decisions.) And just for shits and giggles, I battled with ongoing depression, a genetic legacy that I inherited from my mother's side of the family.
Life, I believed right up into my early thirties, was something that happened to me, that I had no control over. Given the track record I had with life, she was a colossal Bitch who wore a 14 inch strap on and who took great pleasure in fucking me really hard in the butt on a regular basis.
It took a long time, but eventually I learned that I was what was happening to my life. This revelation was both liberating and frightening. I was responsible for my life. I was responsible for my decisions and their consequences. Once that particular curtain had been lifted, it was not possible to let it drop back down. It was like taking the red pill in The Matrix.
The only thing that has changed in my life is that I have changed. (Also, I have been able to spot the spectacularly bad decisions before I make them these days. And I am fatter.) I am something of a writer, a bit of a cartoonist, a touch of an artist, a some-time sing-for-fun singer, and as far as the healing arts go, I found a home in the 'alternative medicine' scene. If nothing else, I have discovered that I have a hippy's soul.
I am still navigating my mid-life transition. I am stronger than I was in my twenties. I have more confidence and self-esteem and I have a big tool box filled with stuff I can pull out to help me move forward. It's true that life really does begin at 40.
And it's okay that none of it goes to plan.