sea spray and waves on rocks

Dear Alys, you’ve changed…

Dear Alys,

Everything has changed; you’ve changed. Not in any linear way. There’s no visually-sensical brick wall of life events documenting a clear pattern of change. I couldn’t really tell you what’s fundamentally different because it isn’t a tangible thing. But I’m certain there has been a celestial shift of some kind over the last year; tides still rise and fall, but in new patterns.

Don’t get me wrong, you are still very much ‘you’, whatever that means. You still hold the same dream eight-year-old you had to put your writing out into the world. You still get anxious on the phone. You still love Marmite and hate icebreakers. Everything’s changed, yet nothing’s changed.

You’re feeling more…capable? Is that the adjective? No, that’s not quite right. You have days and weeks in which simple tasks still overwhelm you and all the things that have to be done rise in front of you, insurmountable. But somehow you feel more okay with the fact that sometimes incapability rises to the forefront. Maybe this is what it means to be an adult?

I don’t know if all of this is just a narrative I’m telling you – myself – to make sense of what is happening in your life. I guess we all tell ourselves stories to piece together the events and emotions we experience. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There’s progress to be found in the creation of these coherent narratives. So I guess ‘adult’ isn’t really a state of being, but an act of becoming.

Adulthood isn’t a destination; it is not somewhere you arrive at with a suitcase full of everything you need for the stay. Rather, it’s a verb – adulting, a continuous state of flux. Constant storytelling and problem-solving: riding, and sometimes struggling for air beneath, the proverbial wave. We create the meaning of it all as we go – that is both scary and empowering. We’re not always in charge of our own story; wrestling with this lack of control is part of figuring out adult life too.

I don’t know if many people ever feel like a capital letter Grown-Up, a static status they’ve unlocked and now bathe in. I don’t know if that’s even an ideal we should be aspiring to reach. There’s a lot I don’t know.  About life and the future and my ability to commit to one project or another, about me and my feelings. But there are things I do know for sure, or at least there are things that feel solid to me at this current point in time.

One of these is that change can be uncomfortable and often distressing. Change, though, is healthy. A learning experience, a necessary part of becoming adult. It isn’t something that just happens to us, we initiate it too. All these things you once thought were fixed are actually fluid and dynamic and active. And there is beauty, wonder, growth – whatever you want to call it – to be found in the tension of change.

Without unrest, we wouldn’t see the breath-taking arc of waves; I’m not telling you to romanticise struggle, but to be able to distinguish between shifts that contribute to the working of the tides and those that lead to storms. Be proud of the hard changes you’ve weathered and the positive ones you’ve influenced. Recognise yourself as the moon sometimes.

Love from Alys xx

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