Things haven't been great for about the past week. I mean, they really, really haven't been great. They've been the complete opposite of great. And I hated it.
That's why I'm here: for reflection. I had a short chat on the phone to Ferris. He brought up September to May... it kind of stretches up to now, though. I mean, there's a lot to look back on between September 2009 to now, rather than stopping at May. And I think I kind of forget all that sort of stuff, because it's easier to focus on the bad things. But the bad things are the things we have to overcome. So, the bad things:
- I lost my job for 9 weeks. This meant that the money I had saved, and the money I was no longer earning, got spent. This meant I was broke all summer.
- My debs was categorically shit. I didn't enjoy it at all. I especially did not enjoy the limo ride, because we had to go from the suburbs of Dublin all the way to Balbriggan and then to Kells, and I had to use the toilet. And the karaoke machine we were supposed to have didn't work.
- Jonny Havron passed on in February. By this stage, I would have known him for about three years. Rest in Peace, Jonny.
- Esther Earl passed on last Wednesday. I didn't know Esther, but her courage at fighting off cancer was an inspiration, and her wish to spread love all around the world was remarkable. May she Rest in Awesome, as the community around her have been saying.
- I had a fair few stressful, emotional times between May and...now, I guess. Right now. The past week was pretty bad. More than bad. If shit could take the form of a period of time, it would have been the past week.
- I started college. I think, overall, this is a good experience in itself. Just starting this great new journey. The lectures, the essays, the completely overhaul of secondary school society and the escape from all the people that made my life a living hell, and the halls that reminded me of them.
- I made at least thirty friends over the past year. That's not an exaggeration. The fact that I went into the college with no friends around me and that being weird seems to have been an advantage for me meant that I could make friends very easily. I talk to some of them more than others, but I still count the rest as friends.
- I was in two plays. Yes, two. And I loved both of them! Drama was a life-changing experience for me.
- I went ice-skating for the first time. I fell after the first ten feet, while holding onto the wall, but I did it. And I actually managed a lap with falling over or holding the wall. Well chuffed.
- I managed to get a lot of the stuff that holds me back emotionally off my chest. I won't really go into much more detail than that.
- I've stayed out all night twice. Once I didn't get home until about eleven the next day, and I didn't sleep that night either. The other time I didn't get into bed until six in the morning after spending the whole time hanging out at a double twenty-first, despite the fact that the birthday girls vanished for large periods of time each... so incidentally I wasn't hanging out with them most of the time.
- I've been to Offaly and Westmeath. I know that doesn't seem like much, but when you're me and you don't go anywhere, going to two different counties and actually doing things in them is a lot.
- I taught actual lessons to actual children. And I was pretty damn good.
- I passed all my first year exams. This is despite my panicking every single morning before an exam, except for the last day because I had to stay calm while somebody else panicked and swore about having left his notes at home. So I had to teach an actual human being an actual topic an hour and forty seven minutes before the exam started. And it was his second best result. I was a success as a teacher. Awesome.
- I went to the zoo twice in the space of five days. With the exception of work and college, I don't really go anywhere twice in five days. Especially not somewhere that costs as much as the zoo and requires so much walking.
- I got albums from twelve bands I hadn't listened to before, and listened to a few songs by about as many artists. Because I like music so much, this is definitely worth mentioning.
- I wrote two novellas and have the makings of a novel from what I thought was a third novella.
- I read and reviewed quite a few books. Considering I often get lazy about reviews, this is good for me.
- I started to learn to play the ukulele. I am still terrible, but at least I'm trying.
- And, finally, I accepted that it's okay to be me: this means I can be weird and loud and hyperactive, because anybody who thinks poorly of me as a result of being, technically, a non-conformist can go and swim upstream with the rest of the salmon while I fly away. It's okay to be me, because at least then I have an idea of who I am. I'm not an idea someone came up with. I'm not a line of clothing or a band on the radio. I'm not dark clothing and long hair or a shaved head. My name is Paul Carroll, and over the past year I have realised that it's okay for me to be myself, because even the friends who knew me while I still pretended, in some respects, accept me for being that person.
Next year - and my year is marked by the start of September, I might add - I will submit my novel for publication. Next year I will finish writing my novella-turned-novel. Next year I will show other people that it's okay to be themselves. Next year I will teach for two weeks. Next year I will do Drama again. Next year, I'll live the life I've always wanted. Next year I'll be happy.