When I was 18...
I lived in
I turned eighteen just as my mother, sister and I were in the process of moving from Canberra, where my sister was born and where I'd lived since I was three, to Sydney, my mum's hometown. This was something Mum had been wanting to do for a long time, and that summer was the right time to move: I'd just finished school, and my sister was at a point in secondary school where a move wasn't going to be massively disruptive; if Mum had waited four more years, it would have been difficult for her to establish herself.
Technically, there was no need for me to move with them — I could just as easily have stayed in Canberra and studied at ANU, but I had no desire to move out of home, and had decided that moving cities was going to be less emotionally disruptive than moving into a share house or student accommodation, or in with my dad.
I promptly got depression, and it never really went away until I moved to Cambridge five-and-a-half years later. Looking back, I don't know if things would have been easier if I'd stayed in Canberra, as the whole thing seems to have been sparked by my deep inability to cope with the transition from childhood to adulthood and my perception that everyone around me, old school friends and new friends at uni, were thoroughly well adjusted and somehow knew something I didn't about finding happiness in adult life.
My feet! I had no intention of learning to drive. The whole thing terrified me, and I was actually very lucky that I'd moved to Sydney, where not having a car made no difference, because in Canberra it would have been a real hassle.
I was in a relationship with
No one, and bitterly resentful about it. I'd been locked in this weird unrequited crush on someone at my high school, couldn't seem to extricate myself from that, and had somehow got it into my head that if someone wanted to be in a relationship with me, all my problems would go away.
Unstructured social interaction. Being alone. That I was boring and that people were just humouring me by being my friend.
I worked at
I was in my first year of full-time uni. I studied Arts at the University of Sydney. In the first year, you took four subjects, and you chose your major(s) in the second year. I studied English Literature, Linguistics, Arab and Islamic Studies, and Jewish History and Culture. (Also, while depression absolutely destroyed my social life, I did really well academically and ended up getting great marks and winning an award for one of my subjects.)
I also had three part-time jobs. After a disastrous start at a bakery/cafe where the owners treated me like shit (and who were using it as something of a front for dealing drugs, for which they were ultimately caught and threw their chef under the bus to avoid prosecution), I moved into a deeply frustrating job at one of the major supermarket chains in Australia. I also had a regular babysitting job looking after the newborn twin boys of my dentist and his wife, which I loved, and I had just begun writing freelance book reviews for a newspaper.
I wanted to be
A newspaper book-reviewer or journalist. (Which, knowing what I know now, makes me laugh bitterly. Oh, 2007 and my year of actually working full-time in this field, I do not miss you at all.)
Twelve years later
I live in
Cambridge, where I've lived for just under seven years. This is the place where I found one of my tribes of people, where I realised it was possible to stop looking back with yearning nostalgia and actually enjoy what I was doing at the time I was doing it, and where I felt like an adult for the first time in my life, and enjoyed that. It's home.
Still my feet! I still have no intention of getting a license, and have no intention of ever living anywhere where that would cause a problem.
I'm in a relationship with
Matthias, my favourite philologist. I love him to bits.
The rise of the extreme right in European politics. Refugees and immigrants (and yes, I am very much an immigrant) being treated like a political football and blamed for every social ill. Politics driven by selfishness and a desire to stay in power, rather than any genuine compassion for others or planning for the future. Men treating my younger sisters badly, and the world blaming them for it and offering no support.
I work at
'I AM A LIBRARIAN!' (Well, technically a library assistant.)
I want to be
A library assistant!
It was really great to do that meme. A lot of the things that caused me great distress at 18 had obvious fixes in retrospect, but I wouldn't have lived any other way. It makes me happy to see how far — literally and metaphorically — I have come.
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