Race Through Life

I was sitting on the very back seat of a bus from Glasgow to Edinburgh today. I was tired, hungover and bored, having sat in the bus station for two hours previously, mindlessly eating grapes and French bread. A combination of lack of sleep, the warmth of the engine behind me and the lingering alcohol in my bloodstream from the night before made me feel cocooned, safe. The sky overhead became greyer as the bus ate up mile after mile of the motorway, as trees and road signs whizzed past like they were trying to grab my attention but couldn’t move quickly enough.

A song I used to love years ago – the summer of 2006 to be precise – suddenly came up on shuffle on my iPod, and familiar waves of nostalgia began to wash over me as the past screamed into my skull through my headphones. It never ceases to amaze me how people are capable of holding memories close to their hearts. Even after years, if something happens to remind a person of a significant time in their past, the emotions instantly come flooding back like water bursting through a dam, and cascading down the side of a stony rock face. Old scars are suddenly sliced back open. Jokes from years ago are suddenly just as funny as they were back then. Taking a step back (metaphorically speaking – it would have been difficult to step through the rear end of a bus doing 60 on a motorway) I was filled with mixed emotions at how much my life has changed over the past few years. I am, I suppose, fortunate to have so many privileges in life – I have a loving family, amazing friends and a place at a good university. Some people spend their lives trying to achieve what I’ve practically had handed to me on a plate.

But as I look back over all the mistakes I’ve made, I wonder if I could have played my hand any differently. I’ve lived for almost a quarter of my life, and sometimes I feel as though I was born yesterday. I have so many ongoing problems: low self esteem; depression; eating disorders; continually having to pick up the pieces as alcohol addiction in my close family tears chunks out of my parents’ marriage and happiness. I cannot motivate myself to study for my biology degree, as I’m not particularly interested in the lectures or practicals and it’s taken me a full year in university to realize that the only thing in the world I want to do is write.

I want to put words to the world around me, bring a new perspective to the struggles and joys of life. I want to inspire and be inspired, seek beauty in both the fabulous shrines and the dustiest corners of the Earth. I want to make others around me happy. I want to be remembered after I’m gone as someone who brought a smile to the faces of the people she met, however briefly. Life moves at such an alarming pace, perhaps in the present you may feel you are merely strolling through but when you look back in twenty years or so, you’ll realize that you’ve sprinted through the prime of your life without stopping for a rest.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what will make you happy. If I could choose a perfect life for myself right now, there are things I would change that I know would make me unhappy in the long term – if the temptation of being able to have them was there I wouldn’t be able to resist it. I would without a shadow of a doubt repair my broken relationship with food, and I’d stop abusing my body. I’d give up smoking, drinking to excess and all of the other invidious ways in which I punish myself through lack of self respect. I would make sure that my father never set eyes on a bottle of cheap wine again. I’d have more confidence, and I’d stop believing that everybody talks about me when I’m not there and put up with me purely because they have to. And that boy, yes that one, well quite simply: he’d be mine and I’d be his. And this time round, it would work.

There are steps I could take to change things. I know I don’t have to stay in this hole – if I tried hard enough, I could climb out and join the flow of happy, successful people sprinting at light speed towards fulfilment. I just don’t think I have the strength. To an outsider, my life is good. And I suppose I can’t really complain – it is just in the timeless echo of moments such as today, sitting at the back of the bus, I feel disconnected, as though I’m living a life which would make someone else happy but I myself am not going anywhere.

Perhaps I am wrong in thinking that a person must model their world to suit them. Maybe it would be foolish to repair things which aren’t quite broken, and if I wait, success will find me. Don’t get me wrong, I am willing to work for it. It’s just the way my life is set up at the moment, it seems almost impossible to find a niche which I could use to squeeze my way into happiness.

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