I just got out from an eighteen year relationship, and this is our story.
I was five when I first met you. I look out of the window and the sky’s just beginning to brighten. I ask my mother why we have to wake so early to meet you; she replies that I have no idea what early means and that I’ll soon find out. Waking up in the morning for something you didn’t sign up for is an unfair thing in a six year old’s mind, and I grumpily stomped off to school. Before I know it, my day ends and I return home to watch Tom and Jerry. Life’s good.
I am twelve, and I am lulled into thinking I am well-acquainted with you. PSLE is a piece of cake – I’m told I’ve been given enough preparation unlike the other kids at school. Assessment books are too easy for me, and my mother “upgrades” to Top School Practice Papers. I don’t even recall taking the papers – muscle memory kicks in as I mechanically regurgitate everything I had written in my Top School Practice Papers. I think I love you, but I feel nothing as I opened my results slip. I don’t even remember how the rest of the day went.
I am twenty two, and we go through a rough patch – everything is not going well. I put in time and effort just for you only to feel the sting of rejection time and again. I keep trying, but I’m not even sure what else I can do to help you, or help myself; I feel entirely useless and worthless, my existence pointless. The semester trudges on, a wounded soldier in a losing battle holding on to blind faith that maybe everything will work out in the end. It was the longest year of my life.
I am twenty three. What a difference a year can make! I feel an irresistible attraction towards you, and we are connected, mind, body, spirit. Everything clicks and I excel; thirteen weeks of the school semester fly past without me even realising. I attend networking sessions and hand out name cards, I send out CVs and cover letters, I sign off every email with my fancy new e-signature; I am young, hungry, and ready to put in the effort others do not or cannot; I am a madwoman driven by semesters of moping and negativity. I’m not usually an emotional person, but I cry as I get my first A+, my first job interview, my first job offer. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a flood of uncontrollable emotions.
I am now living on a precipice and the clock is ticking. My days of a full-time student, with other full-time students, are swiftly ending, and all I am left with is an empty, silent, gaping pocket of time; it feels like forever at first but is quickly speeding up towards the impending Starting Date of Adult Life.
And now I am reflecting.
Saying goodbye to an eighteen year relationship with my student self feels like a lot like a bad breakup. Breaking up is feeling a grudging nostalgia when you hear the most inane of sounds – the click-click-click of the scientific calculator and the soft flutters as someone rifles through the pages of a textbook. Breaking up is a teary but resolute acceptance of what must be, will be. Quiet yourself, even if we had lots to say to each other. Quiet the voices in your head planting seeds of doubt, quiet the people around us blindly steering us towards the path of what should be. It’s time to leave my self behind. It’s time to let my life roll out before me.