pre/post

I have found myself recently dropping into the past. A mix of nostalgia and a desire to learn, I’m dropping back into apartments, relationships, periods of my life. 2017 was a dark year for me, and it caused a lot of reflection. I found myself seeping into the past to try and crack the code, to find that special sauce that allowed for a relatively joyful, carefree experience.

What was it about our tiny first apartment that compelled my then-boyfriend and I to count our pennies, get out more and enjoy life? When I lived by myself, I remember oozing creativity, staying up late to write, sometimes paint and to feverishly piece together playlists. I remember writing love letters (emails) that were lengthy and witty. I posted with reckless abandon to a long-abandoned blog, detailing aspects of my life that seem extraordinarily personal in today’s decidedly less anonymous internet.

Quite frankly, remembering all those sweet spots makes me wish for the simple. Wish for the nights where I’d stay up until 2am, scribbling in notebooks, eschewing any notion of a bedtime. Waking up would be hard to do, but work was also simpler then.

Life feels a lot heavier now, more complex. There is so much more to care about, worry about. Even the radio was going on about how the cost of rent is inflating so much, we all will be out of a home in the near future. Instead of posting to a blog, I’m concerned about my social media images and my domain name expiring. Bedtime is a firm time, especially when you are worried about things like “sleep hygiene” and “managing a team” and “not getting fired.”

Sometimes being a fulltime adult is the worst.

I’ve been playing with the idea of choice. Responsibility. Noticing how I play the victim card. Relishing the nostalgia, and wishing for the simpler days- the “pre”- that is me failing to see choice. Letting life just happen to me. A stark contrast between then and now, pre and present.

Pre-new job, pre-marriage, pre-responsibility, pre-knowledge of x, y, and z.

One of my coaches talked a lot about how every time you level up, your shit bubbles to the top. Every time you advance, you have to shine a light on something that you didn’t know about yourself, a truth you ignored, blissful ignorance.

For me, I know more than my 23 year old self did. Thank god. I can’t turn that knowledge off. The knowledge that sleep is really fucking important. That if I want to advance in my career, I need to take on more responsibility. That the bigger my dreams get, there are associated costs and tradeoffs that need to happen. That by sharing my life with someone, I share the ups, downs with them—I’m accountable to more than my whims.

Ugh- so responsible.

I remember one summer- I was coaching sailing during my time off from university. I could rattle off what social events took place each night of the week (Sunday was the only night of drinking rest). I was sunburnt and my hair turned golden. I was living rent-free at my parent’s house, while they were away all summer. My diet was all tortilla chips and salsa, which I would pick up from the convenience store when I rollerbladed home (without a helmet) each night. I’d crisscross the city, dancing on bars, doing tequila shots and just generally didn’t give a fuck about much, except for showing up to work on time (hangover be dammed) and making sure my Discman had enough batteries to last the rollerblade trip.

Hot damn, that was an amazing summer. I woke up with no shoes at a friend’s house. Got busted for having a major party at my parent’s place (they returned home from their trip early, I hadn’t even thought about cleaning up yet). Bailed on my rollerblades a bunch. Spent all day, stretched out in a boat, beside a pool or under an umbrella at the tennis court. I flirted and danced and laughed and drank and made money and spent money.

Now? I know too much. I am older and overthink things. That’s the experience you gather as you get older, with each story from your youth adding to the virtual bucket of exposure to the real world. Some days, I wish I didn’t care so much. That I could channel that reckless abandon and cavort around the city. But that’s where the post- the future- comes into play.

I’ve got big shit that I’m getting up to. That I want so badly, and that I legitimately care about. Through shitty 2017, I realized that I wasn’t necessarily living my best life. That I got too caught up in the rat race of caring about things that quite honestly don’t matter. That I didn’t have sit at home, thinking, “Poor me- my life is boring and being and adult sucks and I wish I didn’t have any responsibility.”
My inner coach flips all this whining on its head: “Dude, that’s your choice to think this shit all sucks.”

Choice. Goddamn you, adulting.

So that’s where I am trying to learn. Why did I have such a carefree summer? What was motivating me to live and breath such a colourful life in my mid-twenties, colouring outside of the lines. I was outspoken and spunky, fun and boisterous. Guys- I was kicked out of book club. Who does that? Such a rebel.

I’m tuning into what works, what didn’t and where I can just stop caring. How to integrate what I know now into where I want to go. And recognizing that if I were still rollerblading and eating tortilla chips and drinking tequila (so much tequila), I wouldn’t have anything I have today.

alex kelly

public health + personal wellness