I Know It All

At our end of year dance, 2006. I think only one of us had a date here!

When I graduated from high school in 2007, I legitimately thought I had it all worked out. I thought I was streams above others, who were still wondering who, what, where and why. I at least had a general idea of where I would go, what I would do, and how I would contribute to the world. I never understood people saying that your 20’s would be your time of ‘self discovery’, of finding out who you truly are. Pfft. I already knew, and I was only 17! I must have been special.I had flashing images of Africa, of a life helping animals and being involved in different cultures. Of exploration, adventure, of love. I had excitement in heart of swimming with dolphins, climbing Mt. Everest, being a pirate, discovering a new species, digging for our ancestors, writing a book, being an actress, of changing the world. A real thought of how easy it would all be! Extremely heightened optimism, one may call it.Add 3 years of partying, drinking, making friends and loosing them, dating and hating, love, fights, and a university degree, and I was suddenly brought to a screeching halt with a reputation that I really didn’t like
A friend of mine and I had moved into a flat late 2010 with a few girls who we thought were absolutely fabulous friends.Life was great – I was working for a popular radio station (along with 5 other jobs), had an older ‘cool’ boyfriend (who was cheating on me) and thought I was headed for the big time.
Most of us had a few things in common – socializing, boys, the gym, and drinking. Now, this combination does not work out very well. As we were all within the same extended circle, we suddenly found ourselves in a war – my friend and I vs two others and their entire group. It got so bad that they had discussed breaking into our rooms and stealing things while we were out, that they would ‘shoot us’ and see if we still thought we were hot, and were discussing plans to add ingredients into our smoothies to make us fat. Really petty things now that I think back about it, but at the time hearing about it really hurt. They would smile to our faces and spit behind out backs.

For some reason, with all this going on behind closed doors, we all thought it would be a fab idea to all go to New Zealand’s most fantastic New Years Eve party together – 6 hours away. We all camped together, but from the start my friend and I could feel tension building. I think it’s because their two worlds collided – the one where they were smiling to us when no one was around, and suddenly, when we were surrounded by our extended ‘friends’ the other world emerged.
I’m not at all suggesting my friend and I were completely innocent, but the reason for it all was actually my friend’s personal business and involved no one else except her and her then boyfriend. It ended in a physical fight between my friend and one of the meaner girls, and we promptly left the scene and proceeded to move out immediately to ensure no further harm was done to her. The rest is history, and I’ve long forgotten the details – they just don’t matter anymore.

What it showed me though, was that somewhere along this 3 year line, I had lost my vision, happiness, optimism. I had become a shell of my former self, only applying layers of what I thought people wanted me to be. Friends from that era will remember me being a very over the top ‘happy’ person, but at the drop of the hat, I could turn upset, depressed and manic.

Why? Upon contemplating ‘woe is me’ at a Bon Jovi concert, I suddenly got a slap in the face from reality – This was because I had NO idea who I was! Despite my utmost confidence and belief that I had already had my life sorted out, I was suddenly shocked to realize I didn’t know this person engulfing me. I didn’t have morals or values because I didn’t know who I was, what morals or values I wanted. So, I adapted depending on who I was around, constantly changing to suit other people, and NEVER being my true self.
I then proceeded to make one of the best decisions I ever had, it changed my life immensely. I decided to complete my last semester of university in South Africa. Within a matter of weeks, I left my life in New Zealand and jumped into a brand new world. I didn’t know anyone except my family there, and I went with a goal to be true to myself and nothing more. The little light inside me that was so close to being flushed out suddenly grew warm and bright. I was 20.

Now, at age 23 , I sit at a round table with the same laptop that furiously typed out communication assignments within minutes of deadlines and deleted pictures I didn’t want people to see. But, instead of concrete walls and cars rushing by, I am sitting in the middle of a warm game reserve in Southern Africa. Surrounded by wildlife seen in the lion king instead of humans, and with the nearest town about 30 minutes away (and the nearest city 2+ hours away), I have been blessed with time to contemplate exactly what this life means; Why we are here, why we have each been given what we have. What we can contribute to this world, and to ourselves.

Lesson number one for me in my twenties is to never believe you know it all. No matter what your plans are, they can and most likely will ALWAYS change. You need to be prepared to be able to adapt without conflict and drama. When we are young and free, with our lives ahead of us at age 17, we quickly fail to think about just exactly how we are going to do this. Breath. Believe in yourself. You will get there with patience, kindness and determination.

Baby sitting an orphaned rhino calf in South Africa.