Day 26 – Think back to how you were five years ago. How have you changed since then?
Firstly, for fun… Here’s me. Five years ago. Give or take a few days.
I remember drinking a fair amount of vodka around the time of this photograph, which was taken in the first few days of us moving into our new flat in Grahamstown.
Five years ago would have been February 2007. Wow. That’s a long time ago, and much has changed. Honestly, I’m hardly the same person I was back then. Although, if there’s still some old Candace, she is buried quite deep.
Some context. Five years ago, my father had been lying in a coma for almost five months. There was still hope (to me, at least) that he might wake up and come back to us. He was still in the ward in Jwaneng. I had just returned from Botswana where, despite all of the awful stuff that had been happening, I managed to have an amazing holiday.
And then, I was back in Grahamstown, in my first flat with M. For a number of reasons, I was angry, terrified, hurt. I had just hooked up with the person that was going to define my life for the next three and a half years. That is all a very different story, and not what the question was.
Five years ago, I was wild. I drank a lot – we all did – and I made a number of bad decisions. I was in my third year of university, was the Features Editor of the varsity newspaper and was a dedicated journalism and English major. I still had a family, relatively intact. I still believed that the world could be a good place, that it would all work out. I had absolutely no understanding of the definition of pain. I thought I did. That would all come much, much later.
I was proud. Of myself, of my father, of my family. Of what we had been through and who we were. I still am, I guess. Proud of my family. I’m almost never proud of myself, anymore.
I spoke my mind, I made bold choices, I charged through life – not recklessly, just at pace, with force. Now I am more reserved. Maddeningly so, I would imagine. I agonise over decisions. Am terrified of saying the wrong thing. Fret over things I say that could be misinterpreted.
I am much more responsible now. For myself, for my brother, for my mother. Somewhere along the line I became the pillar for my family to lean on. My defining characteristic is that I’m scared, of everything. And that has defined and destroyed a few things.
But, there are good things, too. I have a kick-ass job. And I do wish my dad was here to see it – though I shudder to imagine trying to explain this weird “Facebook” thing to him. He could barely figure out how to turn on a computer, and it took him an hour to type out the one and only email he ever sent me.
I also have a few of the same life dreams. I want to travel. I want to write and publish a novel. I want to do some good in the world, changes some lives. I have changed two, already, I know. Definitely. But that is another story, for another day.
My standards are much higher. I am more generous now, less selfish. More quick-tempered and demanding. I am still infinitely loyal, willing to drop anything and everything to help if I can. I grew up somewhere along the way.
Like I said. Sometimes I’m not sure who this new girl is. Sometimes I’m not sure that I like her. But it is fascinating trying to get to know her.