This post, which I’m really hoping will be as exciting and interesting as I initially imagined, was inspired by my mother, Veronica. She’s had the idea running for a while now and has said on and off for a few years how she’d like to write a book/blog based on the weird and wonderful people wandering through life on their own wavelength. I think it’d be an amazing idea, where she could take a snapshot of someone who looks particularly interesting, be it a grown man in a pink and yellow tutu in the middle of a casino, or a woman on a stroll pushing a pram full of cats, and ask them “What’s your story?” and have their image featured in the blog/book with the caption being, quite obviously, their short story.
I love this idea because I find observing people and my surroundings fascinating. I mean, I’d prefer sitting in a coffee shop and watching all the intriguing specimens of human life walk by to going out to a club or a movie. Seems normal, right? (sarcasm intended)
But it’s not all about going out with the intention to find a quirky individual purely for the sake of snapping a picture and writing a blog, it’s about taking an interest in something other than yourself and your schedule, busy as it may be. It’s about looking past superficial surroundings and having an intention to neglect and forget negative judgement. It’s realising that other people exist in this world besides yourself, and each one of them, like you, has a story.
The concept is also great in working as a distraction, and believe me, I’m all about distractions. It’s safe to assume that everyone hates being caught in traffic, yes? well, a little escape is as simple as lifting your head up and looking around. You’re not the only one stuck in the seemingly never-ending cue of cars and pollution, and yes it is most probably because of that careless individual who sped past you at 170 km/h a few minutes back and has just been caught by the police, but bitching and moaning and cursing the universe won’t make them un-speed. But, looking around at the other drivers on the road might be just what you need to help you get through it. Perhaps that 30-trying-to-look-20 year old woman who is clearly still caught up in the “Brittany Spears phase” will make you chuckle with her senseless and uncoordinated thrashing of her arms and whipping of her head to “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. Or, it could be the father of four doing the afternoon school run with a barbie hair clip feebly dangling on a few strands of hair into his face, which is a regular occurrence for him, whilst the youngest child excitedly smears the ice cream she insisted on getting, all over the window and into her hair. Perhaps you are that noble father of four, and what’s getting you through the tedious drive is the body builder in front of you singing along to Taylor Swift, his guilty pleasure. Even if the situation you witness isn’t entertaining, like someone looking a little run down after a long crappy day, it’s easy to realise that sitting in traffic may not be the worst situation to be in right now.
So every once in a while when things are closing in on you and that damn taxi driver cut you off one too many times today, change your perspective and look at the other living, breathing human beings around you. It’s not all glamorous though, I am not trying to advertise an ideal happy-clappy world of wonder here, but that’s not to say it can’t still be wonderful sometimes. For those of you who don’t do it often, or who couldn’t be bothered, or who haven’t actually read any of this… let’s hope the pending idea of “What’s Your Story?” takes off.
Thanks to my friend (and soul mate, according to a Facebook fad) I’ve decided to reopen my long-neglected, dust-collecting blog. So, Thank You, Nicola! It wasn’t really an easy decision because I figured “after all this time, who on earth would still stick around?” But for those of you who have, your loyalty will be rewarded! *virtual applause for all of you.* As far as apologies go, I’ll keep this one short. I’m sorry. I lost motivation. That’s all there is to it…
On another note… 2015. My year as an “independent” first year student at Pretoria University has begun. (I use the word “independent” very liberally because more often than not I’m looking to others for information and pretending I know exactly what I’m doing, meanwhile the only things I’m 100% sure of on a day-to-day basis are my name and surname.) “Varsity life” was a huge adjustment for me, my friends, my family and most especially, my wardrobe. Going from wearing the same old blue and white checked school uniform day in and day out, to planning outfits in my head the night before was tough, and occasionally from scoping my surroundings I get the feeling that I am one of the few who actually give my outfits head-space. On my campus there will be the rare one or two groups of people who will dress to impress, whilst others literally look like their attire was chosen for them by a die-hard Disney fan at the tender age of 3. There’s that extreme, or the other, which I quite bluntly refer to as “Stripper Attire”. Not the nicest name for my fellow peer’s outfits of choice, but there really has to be a line drawn somewhere and when someone shows up to lectures in 6-inch heels, a more than revealing crop-top, mini skirt and fishnet stockings, I personally feel that that line has then been crossed. However, all the hipsters, jocks, goths, wannabees, cheapskates, skater kids, the “nobody gets me’s” and the rest of the crowd really do contribute in their own way to creating a true “varsity vibe”.
If there was one stereotype about university students that I could dispel for you all, it would have to be the “reckless spender” stereotype which, quite obviously, implies that students blow their allowance at the beginning of every month and spend carelessly. False. Every student I’ve met so far is stingy. Very, very stingy. The word “budget” is thrown around multiple times a day between students, and sometimes I admit, I use it as my go-to excuse when I don’t want to go out. “Sorry I’m on a really tight budget” or “My bad, I blew my budget this month already on petrol” And I have a feeling I’m not the only one… which is perhaps how the stereotype came about. Spending on alcohol may not be the wisest investment for the future… but what’s wrong with cutting loose every once in a while?
Advice for those of you going to university next year, or even taking a gap year or whatever your situation may be, do not expect your life to be the same as it was a year ago or during school. Every single dynamic changes – be it your friends, your taste in music, clothes, your idea for your future, your significant other, even your relationship with your parents will change. I learnt most of this the hard way by hoping nothing would change except my daily driving route, however that was not the case. Some friends will be there for the rest of your life, but you’ll also make new ones and the new ones might not click with the old ones. If you’re studying away from home, you may notice that you become higher in demand among family members over the times you do visit home. Grandparents want a visit, parents want some attention, siblings need to be chauffeured, pretty much any excuse to see you. Which is never a bad thing. But believe me, it can be draining as hell. So really, take it all with an open mind and be prepared to experience a ton and a half new things with new people.