Friday, November 2, 2012

Once In A Lifetime

I remember when I started reading the blogs that most of you wrote in preparation for your weddings that there was a lot of discussion about being present, about being in the moment and soaking the experience up for all that it was worth. Weddings seem to be one of those milestones where we feel like we need to enjoy every damn minute and not let a precious second pass us by.

I don’t know about you guys, but I regularly feel like I’m missing out. Part of this stems from the fact that I don’t like to go to every event, or every party, and most of my close friends don’t live nearby. I will always take a quiet couple of hours (lunch or drinks or coffee) over a raucous house party or group outing. I am at the point where I panic if I see more than three people together, and that’s if I know two of them! But it’s not just time with friends, it’s the big milestones and rites of passage that I feel like I missed. I never had close friends at school and although I attended the big functions my last few years it wasn’t wholeheartedly or as a member of true community, even though I am glad I went. I didn’t have a 21st and I don’t celebrate birthdays much, if at all (coming from a big family does that to you). I haven’t graduated yet. I have never been married. 99% of the time all this isn’t something I think about, but it’s been preying on my mind of late because I have a very big milestone coming up: the conference I told you all about. It was something I hadn’t even considered until my mentor mentioned it casually over coffee the morning after he’d read my seminar paper. ‘I think you should do this,’ he said quietly. And within ten minutes I realised I really wanted this, in a really big way.

You know how excited I was, but with the conference smack in the middle of February it is right in the middle of a prospective work contract I was almost certainly going to get (the same as I did last year), and it also rules me out of many other summer jobs I could take, so I decided to only go for what I had to go for. I was OK with this. I would go to Melbourne for maybe two days, if I was lucky. I’d miss out on a lot of the big talks, and quite possibly those of people I have been dying to meet for years, but oh well. And I wouldn’t get to see much of Melbourne, but oh well. It’s work and life and whatever. Oh well. There’s always next time.

Except there is no ‘next time’ when it’s your first time. I will never get another chance to do this over, my first conference. I didn’t make much of this when I told you all I’d been picked, but they convenors chose my work after the initial deadline had passed. I am still just an Honours student, which they knew. The fact I was chosen is a big, freaking deal. They must have really liked my work to pick me. Plus I am not used to being picked, it’s a good feeling!

I feel like I have missed a lot growing up, either because I was working or because I was sick. I am not going to let this happen this time around. There will be other contracts, other jobs. I will never get to do my first trip to Melbourne, or my first conference, over again. So this time, I am picking what I want to do over what I should do. This is too important to miss and I have waited a long time to travel, even if it’s for study purposes, and even if it’s just to the neighbouring state.

Last Tuesday I basically emptied my bank account to pay for the registration to the whole conference. In a few weeks I will do the same over again to pay for my accommodation for the six nights I am staying. I don’t think I am going to the dinner they’re holding, as I am not sure I could cope with all that small talk and being ‘on’ all the time and meeting and greeting and partying, but the rest of it I am doing, jumping in with both feet. I want the full experience and I am not going to short change myself.

No regrets.


  1. Excellent :)
    I've missed so many things from being sick.. bands I wanted to see (and later broke up), private dinners with scholars I admired, and, yes, conferences too. There are no guarantees that 'next time' will be, so you gotta make the most of opportunities as they arise.. in the now.

  2. That's a great way of seeing this, the best! Soak up with this experience, it'll be amazing, live the present. Go you!


    I very much get that; I very much feel that feeling of being on the outside. I spent a lot of my teens and twenties pining, really, there's no other way to put it. Craving connections and happiness and the big life-defining moments I imagined all my other peers were having. Parties, boyfriends, milestone birthdays, all those experiences.

    I figured out eventually that all that stuff isn't me, necessarily, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't live the shit out of my life the way I see fit. Kudos to you for going for the full experience on your terms -- I daresay it will be enough.

    1. I know you wanted this comment to be thoughtful and, as usual, it doesn't disappoint.

      You're absolutely right (also, as usual). This milestone probably look really stupid to a lot of people in my life but it's a big freaking deal for me. For so many reasons, which I will probably talk about in detail after it's over. Don't get me wrong there are things about this that I am DREADING. But the anxieties that go along with this will have a pay off in a big way, I know that.


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