On November 21st, I officially became closer to 30 than to 29...the last foggy breath of my 20s is merely lingering in the air, about to be snuffed about the cold, harsh reality of my 30s. Okay, I really don't feel that dramatic about it. I actually like getting older. For the last couple years, I've even thrown the 30 card out like it's a source of pride.
This is around the time that women start to feel uncomfortable admitting their age, but I've never felt like I'll be one such woman. I suppose this is made easier by the fact nobody can ever accurately guess my age. I'm still getting carded for booze and lottery tickets on the regular. Yeah, lottery tickets. Apparently I look 17 or younger. Every time I get carded for a lottery ticket, I can't help but laugh as I dig my ID out of my wallet.
The thing is, even though it's kind of a compliment to look 17, I definitely don't miss being 17. I will never be one of those people who wistfully sighs when reminded of their teenage youth. High school wasn't the best time of my life, far from it. Sure my skin was smoother, my hair shinier, my triceps less jiggly, but I was nowhere near as content, confident, or forgiving as I am now. I was actually kind of an asshole back then.
My twenties have been interesting in so many unexpected ways (hence the name of my blog). I might only live 100kms away from where my 20s started, but everything has changed.
Because this is going to be long, I am splitting it into several entries.
20 (May 2006 - May 2007): The dawn of my 20s had me working at a call centre in London, Ontario. It was my first experience living away from home and being "on my own" (I was living with my ex). In 2005, I started working at a call centre doing inbound technical support for an American Internet service provider. I was good at my job, but dealing with angry people all day was extremely draining and upsetting. I don't know how people mentally compartmentalize having people scream obscenities at them all day, because I sure wasn't able to.
I had few friends, no hobbies, never cooked, rarely cleaned. I'd go months without doing laundry, days without showering. I was a mess, physically and mentally. Looking back, I was a textbook case of depression, but I didn't realize it. I just thought I was getting used to the grueling "real world." I thought all there was to life was working and dreading going to work because that was literally all I did with my time. I dreaded going to work so much that I often had such severe anxiety on my "Monday" (Saturday), I couldn't fathom leaving the apartment and I'd have to call in sick. I can remember lying in bed before work and my heart would pound so hard with anxiety that the headboard would tap the wall with every beat. I was completely consumed with hating my life, it was all I thought about. When the opportunity arose to move to Nunavut, I gathered my things and excitedly said goodbye to everything I was leaving behind in Ontario, including my depression. My ex and I got married in July and moved away 12 days later. If I'm being totally honest, I'm not sure I had complete faith in the marriage from the start, but I thought it was "good enough" at the time to get married and I thought that was the best anyone could ask.
Leaving London did wonders for my mental health. I got over my depression and fell in love with Rankin Inlet right away. I had been accepted into Fanshawe College but because I left Ontario instead, I decided to go to school in Rankin. I took Management Studies at the community college which ended up being a good way to meet people and learn about Inuit culture first-hand, something I will forever cherish. I finished up 20 by being offered a temporary position with the federal government.
21 (2007-2008): I turned 21 while on a plane to Halifax for my first vacation out of the north. When I returned from vacation, I began the aforementioned job, which I've long considered the best thing to happen to me. My job duties fit my skills nicely, and my experience at the call centre made the new job feel like a dream come true (you mean, I can go to the bathroom for more than 5 minutes and not get in trouble?!) I was often left alone in the office which was terrifying at first. After just 6 months of working there, my boss joked that I ran the place. The job and the organization were (and are) a good fit for my personality, which is why I'm still doing the same thing 8 years later.
I had been involved with community theatre as a teenager and met many wonderful people there, but it wasn't until I started this job that I really felt like my surroundings allowed me to flourish. It sounds corny, but my coworkers were so cool. They were into fitness and being all-around good, decent people. I started being more health-conscious and looking at the world in a more positive light. I also finally felt like I fit in, which I had never experienced before.
The second half of 21 was rough, and it's when things started to go downhill in the marriage. I think people thought I thought I was blameless, but I fully admit I was 50% of the problem.
For no fewer than about 50 reasons, I decided I needed to not be married. It was a very difficult decision to make; I don't know how people with kids, mortgages, etc., do it. It was hard enough being 21 and only married for 18 months. Someone I thought was my good friend completely betrayed me in the process of "supporting" the divorce. Suffice it to say, it became abundantly clear I was making the right choice to leave.
Fortunately my work pulled through for me and offered me a position in Iqaluit. A few months before turning 22, I moved to Iqaluit alone and had to start all over again making friends and starting a new job. Those first few months were hell. My boss in Rankin had told me, "the next little while of your life is going to be nothing short of a roller coaster." He doesn't know how accurate he was. I had to learn to rely on myself fully for entertainment, cooking, cleaning, and everything I had taken for granted. I had nobody to talk to about any of the stuff I was going through, and it's a wonder I didn't drive myself insane.
By the time I turned 22, I was starting to become more comfortable with the new normal.
To be continued...