So... god, wow.
Where do I begin on this.
I began writing this with the mind that I'd list all the amazing things that have happened in the past year a half, all the wonderful experiences and opportunities and coincidences which have lead me to this point, in the hopes to inspire others to take that chance and start fighting for their dreams.
But I don't need to, or really want to.
Hell there's near two years worth of blog posts to show all that.
Besides there's something a hell of a lot more important going on here than a thinly disguised series of humblebrags stitched together with a genuine sense of overwhelming gratitude could ever do justice too.
Let's go back to the start.
It was late August, I was 19 years old and I'd just finished a late night shift in an Italian Restaurant in my hometown. I returned to the staff room to gather my things and finally head home, already sighing at the fact I'd be returning in less than 12 hours time for a morning shift. Would I have time to grab a coffee and breakfast on the way? Eh, I probably would.
I stooped to pick up my bag, when something caught my eye. There was something different about the room that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
There. That's new.
I walked over to the white poster filled with big black letters, and I began to read, my curiosity piqued.
As I read, the small frown which nestled between my brows relaxed, and my eyes widened.
"This is your life. Do what you love and do it often. If you don't like something change it. If you don't like your job, quit.
If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love. Stop over-analysing; every emotion is beautiful.
Life is simple. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart and to new things and new people; we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you to find yourself. Some opportunities only ever come once, so seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, So go out out there and start creating, live your dream and wear your passion proudly."
Oh boy did that hit me then, and it hit me HARD.
I thought about it for days, weeks.
Every time I went to work, I saw that poster, glaring at me, scolding me for not heeding it's lesson. I didn't know what the poster was, where it had come from or even who had put it there, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not escape it's judging gaze.
Because what both I and that poster had known, was that I'd become completely and entirely lost.
Skip forward, it's December 2012 and now 20 years old, I'm sat with my best friend Pete, the only two poor sods left behind over Christmas, anchored in our Uni town by part-time jobs.
He's sat on my bed playing guitar and I'm writing some thoughts in my little orange notebook as was often the case, the room lit by candles in the top of wine bottles in the pretentious way we always did. It would probably be quite romantic if we didn't hate each other most of the time in the most sibling of fashions.
I'd since discovered that fateful poster was called 'The Holstee Manifesto', but the most I'd done in way of proving myself to it was to quit my job at the Italian Restaurant.
I put down my pen.
"When I was younger, I always thought by now I would have done something with my life, y'know."
He looks up, still playing and I sigh, watching 11 year-old me scampering about my feet playfully, dreaming ten years into the future she'll become an Oscar-winning actress, a marine biologist living in Hawaii or be performing on her sold out worldwide stadium tour.
Now at 20 here I was, a failing student at a mediocre University, full of sighs, frustrations and what would probably be medically considered a borderline drinking problem.
"I really thought by 21 I'd have my shit together. Like, every year that went past, I'd think 'oh haven't done that yet... ah never mind, I've got loads of time!' with this notion that I have up until 21 to start fighting toward my dream and after that it's lost for good. I've brushed it off for so long, and now it's too late."
"You know, you really are a melodramatic son of a bitch." Replied Pete, or words to a similar effect. I couldn't help but smile. God it was true, I really did love to play the 'poor tragic me I'm so misunderstood' line.
"You actually think you have to start chasing your dream by 21 or it's lost forever?" I nodded meekly. "That's bullshit and you know it. There's ALWAYS a chance to turn it all around."
I sighed because I simultaneously knew he was right, and knew I probably wasn't really going to do anything about it anyway.
What even was my dream?
To be somebody? To do something? To somehow make a difference?
I didn't even really know myself.
"Anyway, if you're so caught up on this romanticised idea of achieving your dream by 21, newsflash for you," He returned to his guitar and began to strum.
"You're only 20."
And I swear to god, in that moment, I felt it happen.
I felt this 'one last chance' vibe physically kick in and I cocked my head to one side as I truly processed his words, and what that meant.
I always said to myself, I would do something remarkable by the time I was 21. And here I was, already proclaiming myself a failure, and I was only 20. I had one year left, one final chance to prove to that poster and the dreamy childhood me that no-one cared to listen to, that I was not going to let her down.
"I know I've been away for a long, long time, but I'm going to make this promise to you now, if this truly be my last shot, then I'm going to give it everything okay?"
She looks up at me, full of wide-eyed wonder, her brows slanted in a way in which she truly wants to believe me, she wants to trust me on this.
"Just make something you're proud of. No matter how big, no matter how small, just don't do nothing, okay?" She whispers.
That very night, as the winter snow drew in against our little orange glow, with the sound of Pete's guitar in the background and the candles flickering against the invading chill, I poise my fingers above the keyboard, and I type:
"I guess this is the end of an era. It is the end of what I shall call 'The days of Silver Uncertainty.' It symbolises the past twenty years of knowing I want to do something important, to be somebody, but having no idea what to do, how to do it, or where I go next.
But it is also the beginning. It is the very, very beginning of one hell of an adventure.
I refuse to remain unremarkable for any longer, and this will be the log of how I'm going to become remarkable.
This is the beginning of the rest of my life.
Welcome to Scarphelia."
I still struggle to find the words to express my gratitude to every person who has clicked, commented, tweeted, shared or appreciated my words and thoughts on this blog. Without you, I would still be that lost girl in her bedroom, looking down into the expectant face of her younger self only to say "I'm sorry kid, I tried."
You have all given me so much. You have enabled me to do so much. You have given me hope when I felt hopeless, you have given me motivation when I've wanted to throw it all in, and some of you have even stuck by me from those very first blog posts, and that truly does astound me.
So for once, and for eternity.