I met my older sister the other night. In between walking through fields, quoting vines and laughing a lot, we somehow got onto the big topic of the importance of getting outside your life bubble.
What I do like about being in a big and complex (slightly dysfunctional) family is that we all come from such different backgrounds.
I was part of a nuclear family. Then I was part of a divorced family, then a single parent family- then an extended family. I was part of a grandparent family for a while. Then when my parents re-married and fostered/ began co-habitating with their long term partner, I was part of two stepfamilies. Now I kind of live independently. It’s a complicated one.
Counting all the stepsiblings my blood sister and I have acquired; I am one of ten.
So growing up in an environment that was constantly changing made me so aware that there is more than one way of life. I got to experience different financial situations, I experienced life in different settings, I experienced different guardians and their different approaches to parenting, I saw how different each location was and the affect that it had on people. It was like an unintentional sociological study.
Needless to say, it definitely broadened my mind outside the realms of a small and familiar Ipswich bubble.
I guess you could see this from an angle which makes you a little chaotic, causing you to think very small. “I’m so ungrounded and confused, my childhood was too overwhelming to be a functional person, I don’t fit into society”. I will be the first to admit I have got some trauma from feeling ungrounded growing up. Thinking that way is so natural, but it does get you down a lot. It makes you feel like a bit of a lost cause. Being frustrated at your childhood and circumstance gives you so much energy that can be difficult to know what to do with. If you grow up like that it’s so common to want to rebel, but it’s how you choose to rebel which determines where you’re going to end up.
What me and my sister were talking about is how we came to that conclusion. It’s interesting how some people end up taking ownership of their future and others end up a bit stuck. What does it take to become unstuck?
My sister was talking about how she found inspiration in just getting out of the small town she grew up in. She is such a more rational person than me and I admire that so much, she doesn’t blame people for what happens she just deals with things as they hit her. She’s a cool person to have in your life.
She did badly in her GCSE’s and scared herself which drove her to work harder. The thought of being stuck there forever where she had all these memories snapped her out of overdoing the ‘know it all’ attitude you have as a young adult. She went to college. After that she travelled to America where she worked as a Nanny and did camp America for a couple of years, and when she came back, she decided to do a degree at Nottingham Trent university. In getting out of her small town average life and taking risks, she was able to see that her life was literally in her hands. With knowledge of what to do to get where you want to be, (which we can find through the use of google) we can quite literally do anything.
My story was a little different. I came out of sixth form and I was an angry, arrogant and angsty young girl who was very lost and scared. I decided not to go to university at the last minute, couldn’t think of what to do to fill my time, ended up getting in with a crowd who probs weren’t the best for me- and spent 4 months being completely hedonistic.
It was in doing that that I realised I couldn’t ruin my life forever because I just wasn’t getting anywhere. When I was at school and I would read all these books in English and get A*’s I used to think ‘this won’t be in vain’. When I’d argue with someone who would try to belittle me I used to say ‘the second I can I’m getting out and getting away from you’ (which is such an angsty teenage thing to say). Yet here I was, old enough, and completely ignoring younger me’s wishes. At the end of the day what was I even rebelling against? I just wasn’t coping with life. It was really no skin off anybody else’s nose if I carried on down that path of self-destruction and ended up with severe health, mental and financial problems at the age of 27.
So I went back to work and when I did that I realised that I wanted to do good. That was where I could put my energy. Through education I found so many opportunities and experiences that I wanted, and I realised that I could actually do everything I dreamt of. There’s no difference between me and somebody who has succeeded.
What my older sister and I have in common is the knowledge that life exists outside of a bubble.
I guess when growing up we saw the bigger picture of things. Through having such a ‘chaotic’ and busy upbringing we saw people struggling in life, and we saw people who enjoyed it more. We had the opportunity to see what we don’t want to be like, and we saw what we could achieve if we adopted the same mindsets/ behaviours of the groups that we aspired to be in. We learned how to socialise with different groups, and we were always aware of how important it is to get to know people from so many different backgrounds.
Growing up in a place that isn’t stable gives you this kind of vagabond spirit, determined to see that there is more to life than what you’re seeing every day.
My sister and I may come from very unique backgrounds which a lot of readers won’t be able to relate to. The thing that everyone seems to have in common is the tendency to forget that life exists outside of our tiny communities, and the limited job types and people in your little town. We can all get into a rut and feel a bit hopeless.
There are habits that you can pick up to remind yourself of this when you feel down. You can take a train and have a spontaneous weekend away. You can literally just read a book which will just make you think a little more perceptively. You can explore youtube and watch videos you wouldn’t usually be drawn to. Literally just exit your comfort zone whenever you get the chance to, because that’s your ticket out.
Basically, what I’m saying is- what I think the difference is between people who enjoy life and people who are struggling, is the ability to broaden your perspective. It’s the ability to be able to admit that you don’t know it all and that you could do better. The ability to observe, ask questions, and adapt the habits of the people you wish to be like.