We're seventeen. It's our last year of school and we're all so inexplicably excited to get out into the big, bad world.
Everyone's applied for uni, jumped into a full-time job, or taken a gap year and are already busy showing off their European summer photos.
"What about you, Racquel? "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
Write? Be a photographer? A classic creative, I think to myself.
Then again, we are always told that they're unrealistic careers. I can't
make a living out of my hobbies. It also doesn't help that I picked accredited so I'm not heading to uni.
Fast forward 6 months and I'm submitting my application to UC with the aid of a Principal's Recommendation to study Early Childhood and Primary Education.
This will be a good career for me; I love kids, and at least I'll have a stable income and there'll always be an opportunity for work. Even if I have to work and live somewhere remote, like Wilcannia, I convinced
"I knew you'd end up going to uni," friends would laugh.
Haha. Was this a question of my future, or my worth? They were making me feel like I was doing something right, when really I was putting myself into incredible debt for a piece of paper and a career I
wasn't even sure I wanted.
"What are you doing with yourself, Racquel? Your travels looked amazing. Have you moved back home from Sydney?"
You got that right, sista. A whole different life lived within a life. Within the five years since school, I had my comfortable, happy, typical life pulled out from under my feet.
Mum passed away from the big C, so I was forced to learn how to use a washing machine (surprisingly easy), properly iron a shirt (still haven't quite got that one down), and cook a meal for six (that will be spaghetti bolognese and stir fry for the rest of our lives, thanks).
A multitude of years of throwing tantrums, having dinner taken care of, clothes washed, ironed and put back in my cupboard, worrying over boys and shitty friends, all boxed up and put at the very back of my
shelf, right behind my birthday cards from over the years that I just simply can't bear to get rid of.
People get this idea in their head. They get this idea of who you should be, and they get so confused when you don’t follow that path. That they paved. In their head. It took me four years to realise that I don't have to be the same person I was at 18, at 20, or even last week.
It took me four years and only half my degree to realise that the career I'd picked out wasn't for me.
A seven-week trip to Europe to make me want to get out of my comfortable life at home.
An 8-month stint living in Sydney, working in sales; even contemplating a career in sales, to realise that the 'unrealistic'
dream was mine for the taking with a little (lotta) hard work.
Scraping by to pay rent, eating the bare essentials, the 7/11 guys getting to know me so well because of my daily $1 coffee fix and the lady at the general store letting me get off with only paying $9 for my $10
'grocery shop'. Moving back home to embark on a brand new venture (of not having to pay rent again), a second crack at Uni. You need the experience to get the job but you need the job to get the experience, thus living the good life of funemployment because your pride is just not quite ready to take back your casual job at the pub.
We're the younger counterparts of a generation scrutinised by the baby boomers; just scraping by, riding on the backs of our older comrades, still just claiming the '90s kid' status. A generation chastised for doing things the 'wrong way', choosing to travel ahead of saving for a house deposit, changing career choices like Britney changed boyfriends. Focusing on the things we want to do, rather than finding someone to do them with. Putting career, travel, life ahead of love lives because it's more acceptable now than it ever has been to be single. To take charge of your own happiness.
Not afraid of change, nor challenge. To hell with thinking I have to take a comfortable job, to drive a comfortable car, to live in a comfortable house with my comfortable life. This time, when people say, "Racquel, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I won't shy, nor lie. I am going to be a writer, and hey, possibly even a photographer. I've got a whole lotta years to make it happen. Sit by for the day that it's no longer a dream.
If there is anything I've learnt from being a millennial, it is this: be relentless, the future is ours.