New Beginnings

When I was 14 my parents dropped me off at boarding school. I remember watching them as they drove away in the family car. I was nervous and I suppose afraid. Alone, in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by people I didn't know, I remember that moment vividly because I was at a crossroads. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I was in no danger at all. In fact my years at boarding school were some of the best I’ll ever experience. It was like a sleep-over at a friend’s house; night after night after night.

But at that time I didn’t know that.

I still remember that scene vividly: A white picket fence enclosing the school cricket oval and the family utility driving off down the street. It is memorable to me because of the tension I felt. It was plain old, sweaty, stressful tension. The feeling was familiar and yet unfamiliar all at once. The hard knot in my stomach like a friendly face I couldn’t place.

The feeling was familiar because I was actually well prepared for that day. It wasn’t the first time I had experienced an abrupt new beginning. I had been introduced to changes in my comfort zone at a very early age. My father’s work meant that from Grade One through to Ten I changed schools almost every other year.

Now I know that the tension, strain and fear of the unknown I felt that day was a precursor to the thrill of expectation. Now I recognise those emotions instantly. Now I know that so much good can follow from a fresh start.

Change. You could say I am addicted to it. Now I seek out opportunities to experience that feeling. Again and again. Now I thrive on change. I love the thrill and anticipation that change and a new beginning brings.

A new town, a new job, a new school, a new class. Whatever. New beginnings are like a bugle call to the soul. A call to arms. A summoning of energy and will.

I believe change and the new beginnings it brings has helped make me the person I am today. Now, I not only recognise but expect that tension and thrill every time I embark on something new. Every time I stand on the precipice of the unknown I feel familiar emotions lurking nearby. Hope, tension, fear, resolution and awkwardness can all present themselves. What makes me different, from the child in my memories, is that now I’ll always be ready for these negative feelings.

Let me be clear, you never get used to the fear. And the tension can make you almost ill at times. But those negative feelings are momentary. They will pass. And after they pass come the good times: the reward for stepping outside of your comfort zone.

And yet despite the rewards it is no wonder many people avoid change like it is a disease. New beginnings can come with an air of finality to them. There is no going back. A decision made means consequences are sure to follow. Our imagination loves to colour our fears with intricate detail.

How did I cope with so much change in my life? The key thing I do now when presented with change is to accept it. Actually, I say do more than that. Embrace it.

Look forward to the opportunities change will bring. Without my days at boarding school I wouldn’t have the memories, friends and perspective only a boarding school experience can give you.

Here at ChookScratch I am embarking on a New Beginning of my own. I am pushing my writing skills into the public realm and I can feel that familiar feeling in my stomach yet again. The unknown future is beckoning once more, and yet, I know things are going to turn out just fine. In fact I’m excited!