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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Twenty-One: The "Everything Happens For A Reason" Year

All right.  Before I even get started with any attempt at a story for today, I want to draw your attention to something.

Today is the official fourth anniversary of this blog!  Four years I've been doing this, and for four years, I've probably learned a lot more about myself than I ever thought possible.  Whoever said that blogging really opened your mind up to new possibilities really wasn't kidding!  Writing about things that have been bothering you, or talking about happy moments certainly makes one appreciate themselves more.  It allows me to put perspective and reflection in a lot of things.

Which is good, since my twenty-first birthday kicked off a whole year of perspective and reflection.  I had just left university after discovering that it wasn't for me.  What else was I going to do?

Surprisingly enough, given all that had happened - leaving school, having to move back home, no job prospects - 21 should have been a rock bottom year for me.  But, yet, it wasn't. 

(Seriously, nothing will ever be worse than sixteen.  Nothing.)

Yeah, twenty-one wasn't my best year.  But it allowed me to do a whole lot of thinking about things, and why everything had gone so pear-shaped.

But first, let's talk about what was big in pop culture around the time I turned 21.  Let's go.

#1 SONG THE WEEK OF 5/18/2002
"Foolish" - ASHANTI

Oh, what an appropriate song title!  I certainly did feel very foolish trying to figure out what I was going to do with my freshly derailed life.  At least Ashanti had a decent singing voice.  Whatever happened to her anyway?

"Star Wars II:  Attack Of The Clones"

I suppose it was inevitable.  All one has to do is mention the words "New Star Wars Movie" and everyone seems to pop out of the woodwork to see it.  Myself?  I've only managed to see the original trilogy that ran from 1977-1983.  And, from what I hear from other people, that's really all I need to see!

"CSI:  Crime Scene Investigation"

Sigh...the CSI that started it all.  After fifteen seasons, the show aired its last murder case.  But back in 2002-2003, the show was in its prime.  I remember it being television that you couldn't miss back then.  I think Warrick's death in Season 9 made me stop watching the show.

So, twenty-one was the year that I came back to the place that I so desperately wanted to leave with my tail between my legs.  Good times.

Better still.  I came home with $14,000 in debt and hardly any jobs to be found because the town was so small.  Woo-hoo! 

Can you say...epic fail?  I can.  Twenty-one was my epic fail year.

However, twenty-one was also my "if I can survive this, I can survive anything" year, not to mention my "things happen for a reason, so don't try to understand it, just live it" year.

Sure, I had absolutely nothing going for me...except for the fact that it allowed me some much needed time for myself that I could use at my own disposal.  Time that I needed to think things out.  If I had turned 21 in 1969, I would have made the perfect hippie, come to think of it.

You see, it was at the age of 21 that I decided that I wanted to fine tune my writing style, and really become serious about writing everything down that was going through my mind.  Even though money was incredibly tight that year and I couldn't afford a computer (and there were no iPads or tablets in 2002), I always had paper and Papermate pens at my disposal.  And over the course of my twenty-first year, I wrote everything down and filled up entire binders full of thoughts and feelings.  Sometimes they were short stories, and other times they were random thoughts.  But it served as a bit of therapy for me.  It helped me stay calm through some really tumultuous times, and it allowed me to get my mind off of the fact that things had gone pear-shaped.

Of course, this did not pay any bills or supported myself, so I took on some odd jobs during this time, such as babysitting my niece and three nephews, and things like that.

But while I was trying to figure out what my future was possibly going to hold, at the same time, I was trying to work out why I decided to come back home - and why I was so desperate to leave in the first place.

Obviously, it was really easy to figure out why I left in the first place.  My town was a small town - 21,000 people in 2002 - and it was being marketed as the ultimate retirement community.  It was no secret that city council wanted to get the majority of the youth out of town so they could move in retirees from all over the world.  By the time I left home at nineteen, I had felt that people my age simply weren't welcome in town any longer - and this was my hometown!

And certainly the economy was (and still is) a factor behind why I chose to leave town the first time.  The focus on retirement meant that a lot of businesses were reluctant to invest in the community, and this meant that not a lot of jobs were available.  People tend to go where the jobs are, and back in 2000, jobs were almost non-existent in my town.  But a huge city like Ottawa surely had more opportunities.  Hence why I moved.

But even those reasons weren't the only reasons why I wanted to get far away from town as possible.  And while this confession may make me sound like a coward, I don't really know how else to word it.

Basically, I wanted to leave town because I wanted to run away from my past.

I mean, let's face it.  My reputation around town was that I was a victim.  I was constantly bullied by people who thought they were better than me because they grew up in better neighbourhoods than I did, or because their fathers had more glamourous and high-paying jobs than mine did.  I never really felt like I was a part of the community, and nobody really ever told me what I had to do to be able to feel like I belonged there.  Everyone else in my family seemed to amalgamate themselves into town society and carve out their own place in the community, but I had such a difficult time doing that.

I guess when you remove yourself from the community for so long - the two years I was away in Ottawa, as well as my entire teenage period where I hid away from people - it would be hard for anyone to try and get back into the swing of things.

But, since I had come back home, I figured that there had to be a reason why.  Obviously, the main reason was finances - I couldn't really afford to stay in Ottawa, or anywhere else for that matter.  But I couldn't help but think that there had to have been another reason why I had no choice but to come back home.

It was almost as if I had unfinished business to take care of.

Granted, I was never a big believer in fate and the cosmos and destiny.  I figured that if there was such a thing, it happened to other people.  Fate would have nothing to do with a blue-collar, working class family like mine. 

But there had to be a reason why I came back (and as of right now, still stayed).  And, while I didn't quite have the answers that I was looking for at twenty-one, over the next thirteen years, that answer would become crystal clear.

But, I could only reflect for so long before I got bored...and at the age of twenty-two, I made the first steps to get more involved with the community - with some good and bad results.

In the meantime, happy 4th birthday, "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE".  Believe me, it's been great!

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