Time is not always fair. It can make you wait, or it can make you miss. Somewhere in between those two events is what we call the present. It is right now. And now. And now. And now. It is a moving target, defined by stillness. It adds up and collects everything we do, to create everything we are.
I don’t know what it is about the end of this decade that has led to so many people wanting to recap the last ten years, but I’m assuming social media is to blame.
When in doubt, right?
Alright, I’ll play. For a bit. At least until I start sweating, or I get called inside for dinner.
Oh wait, I seem to have plagiarized that last sentence from my final blog post of the 90s. My bad. Not sure how that happened.
Let’s talk about 2010.
If you’re familiar with the professional wrestler, Mick Foley, the phrase, “Three Faces of Foley” might mean something to you. If not, it refers to the fact that he had three different personalities. Sometimes, he was Mankind. Sometimes, he was Dude Love. Sometimes, he was Cactus Jack.
In 2010, I feel like I went through the “Three Faces of Paul”.
The beginning of the year was my second semester of my first year at university. I had friends, I was comfortable, I liked where I was, but it felt like something was missing.
In February of that year, Team Canada was in the Gold Medal Hockey Game at the Olympics against Team USA. I remember where I was when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime. I’m sure most Canadians do.
I was in my dorm room, watching it by myself.
I’m sure there was a group of people watching the game in the lounge, or in the cafeteria – in fact, I know there was.
At the end of the third period, I quickly ran across to pick up dinner at the cafeteria, knowing I had about 15 minutes to get back for overtime. I saw the crowds of people watching the game, but did I want to stay there with them? Absolutely not.
I said I had friends, but I never felt like I fully fit in with the larger group of people who normally hung out on my floor. They were nice people, we just never bonded.
I remember sitting in the lounge for the Super Bowl a few weeks before this gold medal game. I had my Astronomy notes in my lap (midterm the next day), the game in front of me, and a group of people around me.
I felt like I was there, but I wasn’t there.
That summer, I got a job at a camp. I went into it taking it very seriously. I didn’t want to mess up. And then the first day of camp arrived and it felt like someone was kicking me in the face, repeatedly.
I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know my campers’ names. I was there, but I wasn’t there.
There was a point where my campers had just finished “water play” and I had to help nine, five-year-old boys change out of their swimwear and back into their clothes.
It took me exactly one hour to do that.
My two female co-councelors wondered where I was because they had helped the girls change a long time ago and were already on to snack time.
Here’s the thing, the bathroom had a changing area and a shower area. We were not to use the showers. The shower area had two entrances, which means you could run in one end and out the other. Continuously.
My campers did that. They ran in a circle for an hour, laughing their heads off because I couldn’t get them to stop.
I remember looking in the mirror and saying to myself, “If you can get through this, you can get through anything.”
We had just gone through a week of training and I didn’t want to do something wrong. I didn’t want to yell. I didn’t know what to do.
I was in hell and I was lost.
If it weren’t for one saint of a boy, who eventually stopped running around and asked me to help him get dressed, I don’t know how I would’ve gotten out of there. As soon as he did that, the other kids lost my attention, and one by one, they slowly came to get changed.
Reading what I just wrote, sounds silly. I’m aware. But I had never dealt with a group of kids before. I didn’t know the tricks. I learned quick, though.
A couple weeks later, one of the owners was walking by as I was taking my group inside and he said to me, “You’re doing a good job, keep it up.”
Man, that gave me the confidence boost of a lifetime. Eight words, that’s all he said, but they meant so much. They still do.
By the end of the summer, I felt like I had grown as a person. That’s terribly cliché and so 2019 to say, but it’s the truth.
I went back to school in the fall, feeling like a new person. And then I found myself back in residence during the first week, wondering why I could hear so many people having a good time on the other side of my door, but I was too afraid to join them.
Twelve months prior, all I ever wanted that first week was a knock at the door inviting me to join. And here I was, wanting that same thing again.
Being an introvert is a weird thing. I don’t know if I’d describe myself as shy, but I’m definitely not the type to just announce my presence in front of a new group of people and say, “Hey, can I join you?” Especially not in 2010.
I need an invite. Once I’m in, I feel like I can make those friendships.
Friday night of the first week of second year, I get a knock at the door. To this day, I attribute that knock to God.
I open my door and there is a sea of about twenty people staring at me. They invite me to dinner and the rest is history. I had found what was missing. These people quickly became my family.
I still remember that first dinner we all had. I couldn’t stop talking. I felt like a fountain of knowledge finally being tapped. They were so curious about my experience and what university was like.
Over the next few years, the family grew to the point where I felt like I had too many friends, but I wasn’t complaining. It was the best. They all brought out the best version of me and made my university experience what it was.
I said at the beginning of this post that time will make you wait, or it will make you miss. Well, I miss that. I probably always will.
Without those people, this blog doesn’t exist. They named me Captain.
There may or may not be a
lot of few tears in my eyes right now.
That was my 2010. Three Faces of Paul. I felt like I finally transitioned out of who I was and into who I was meant to be.
And so, writing about the rest of the decade doesn’t really feel important to me. Sure, maybe that’s my “out”, my escape – my subtle way of admitting that I don’t want to talk about the years that don’t measure up. But so be it.
If this decade has opened my eyes to just one thing, it’s that time is always on time. We’re all on a different path, travelling at a different speed, but when we intersect with someone else, there’s a reason for it.
Sometimes you just need someone to pull you into the next version of yourself. You never know when it’ll happen, but when it does, you’ll know.
Ten years later, I’m sitting here writing a blog post, which will be read by a bunch of strangers – many of whom I consider friends. I could’ve never expected this, but looking back, it all makes perfect sense.
Every small moment has led to this moment.
I guess that’s why they say hindsight is 20/20.
Now, so is the future.