Tuesday, April 15, 2008

looking back

So tomorrow is my birthday, and I feel like indulging in some reminiscing about the last year. Because I can!

It's weird, I feel like I've never actually been 22. about 8 months ago I though I was 23 for some reason, and have been preparing to turn 24. Except that I'm still 22. Almost exactly a year ago I took my first long trip that I drove on (previously the furthest I had ever driven was a 150km field trip), taking myself 950km away from home all alone. I spent my birthday at Augrabies, the most beautiful place in the world, and spent the day watching some pretty awesome lizards. I drove home the next day. On the way down my CD player stopped working, so I ended up spending 11 hours listening to OFM (the sound of central south africa), with their million repeats of Justin Timberlake songs, and weird adverts for butcheries ("Manny's meat, waar goeie vriende...MEAT!"). On the way home I listened to it again. That was the day of the highschool shootings in the US, so I had a rather unpleasant trip back, thinking about violence, and kids, and what it all means.

The day after my birthday I also got my first ever ticket, for running a stop-street in a tiny town in the northern cape. The sign was almost hidden, the lines on the road were faded and it was raining. The people in front of me didn't stop so I didn't know it was there. Unfortunately, coming the other way was a van full of policemen on their way to lunch!

22 was the year when I came to grips with being a PhD student, and learned a lot about friendship and the incredible support I got in a decision to start a doctorate at 21. I still have days when I feel like I'm just pretending, like a little kid dressing up in adult's clothes that are waaay too big, but I also know that I ahve a supoprt system for days like that, and I'm eternally grateful!

I started geocaching, which has shown me exactly how much we walk past every day without knowing that its there! I went to the Wild coast for the first time and had my first real holiday in years! My brother got married (ok, I was still 21, but it was a big event!) as did a lot of my friends. I got tickbite fever for the first time! and sunstroke for the millionth. Elvis began his travels, after I got him in an experience where I laughed so hard I couldn't stand up!

I did my own fieldwork for the first time ever, and realised a lot of what was gonig on while I was a field assistant and I didn't necessarily understand why people reacted they way that they did. I learned to spend time alone, and take long walks when I got frustrated. I leanred to love the simplicity of waking up every day witha simple task, and working non-stop to do whatever needed to be done. To be the one who has to make the decision when things go wrong, and to make a plan to stop any other mishaps. To get back to Joburg has never been harder!

There have been a lot of firsts in the last year, and a lot of times that I didn't feel like I was coping. Which meant that I learned a lot about how much I can actually deal with, when to stop and give up, and when to keep going. I learned about support systems, and how when you leave friends behind for 3 months at a time, you can pick up right where you left off, as long as you remember that they didn't stop living when you weren't there.

So much happened that I can't explain, or write about properly. I guess I'm scared, with so much happening in one year I'm not quite sure I can handle any more in the coming eyar. But if nothing new happens... I don't think I could handle it either! But I guess I will, because I always do. And that's a good thing! I think.