Back To What We Know

“When everything fails, we always go back to what we know.”

It’s been five years since the mass hysteria about the end of the world occurring. For those who might have forgotten, 2012 was the year where apparently the Mayans had predicted the apocalypse. It was our version of Y2K, where torrential storms, a meteor and other various things was meant to wipe out life as we know it. And even if you were a skeptic, it was hard not to be inundated by cries of our demise. People built bomb shelters, prepared for zombies, declared their love to another and a lot of other fantastically reckless things. The thing about the end of the world is that it begs the question about what anyone would do if they knew their lives were over.

2012 was the year where a lot of relationships ended for me. Where I dealt with death of a dear friend. It was the first year of being forcefully inducted into the world of adulthood, a year away from the cosy environment of legally binding education. It was one where if the end of the world happened, the life in which was placed in my hands was going to be taken away. It was the year after high school – apparently the time where I was able to control my future. I wasn’t immune to the hysteria, although it was difficult not being trapped into the cycle of things I would never be able to do. Still filled with uncertainty but untainted by the clutches of committing myself to an identity, a role that would define me through monetary sustenance, but rather through the confusion, I went back to what I knew. I went back to school.

At the time, it was the only thing I knew how to do. I knew how to be present in classrooms where I’d actively be avoided (I’m an innate silent pariah of the party, so if you need people to leave you alone, I’ll be happy to provide you my services). I knew how to pretend to know what I’m talking about and pretend knowing all the answers to everything. Thankfully. I’d be left alone most of the time – so I was basically human wallpaper than an actual person everywhere I went.

My parents, despite not being open to discussing our impending doom, covertly prepared for the worst by gradually stocking up a plethora of canned food, containers of fresh water and ensured our house looked as un-presentable as possible, so people would not naturally target our residence as a mugging site. Okay… to be fair only my father does that and it happened before our awareness of the Mayan Apocalypse… If the Mayans wanted something to be fearful about – they really should look at where I sleep. That’s the real apocalypse right there (I’m pretty far from the neat-freak part of the spectrum).

There would be some days where I’d think, is this how I’m spending my final days on Earth? Is this my life right now?

I was going to university, originally going to get a double degree in economics and arts. Things didn’t get easier when I was pretty much cheated out of passing a subject and needed to repeat a subject through unjust means. It had gotten to the point where I contacted and was in frequent contact with the Ombudsman, and where I had learned that money speaks more than education. A little black cloud seemed to follow me everywhere I went – it was an unfortunate year. It rained often I decided to go out (true story – it got to the point where it was so often, I was sure I would be the bringer of the floods). A silver lining was when I had met someone that didn’t make me feel so alone in the world. He believed in me and I enjoyed his company. A small spark of light in the vast emptiness of space, my Alpha Centauri when nothing could possibly shine bright through the vast darkness and the light pollution that drowned out any semblance of the light I wanted to permission, or even just a capacity to shine. He saw through it all, and gave me the belief I needed. The world could be ending, but I didn’t care. Throughout the second half of 2012, where some close relationships had died, when I had learned the truth about those that didn’t have my best interests, where the world made it quite obvious I didn’t truly belong, and when it felt like what I went back to now wasn’t enough. An unlikely saint, and most likely one without the self-awareness of his impact. He is now, just a distant memory. But one I value immensely.

Where many predicted the end of the world, I had received many articles from New Age and Spiritual sources that said rather than it being a cataclysmic event, it would be a transformative one in which we would be crystallized and then awaken to powers due to a higher being and unite through a common conscience. Sad to say, apart from my frequent hits with coincidences and my occasional ability to read into things – neither the end of the world nor the gaining of powers occurred (as far as I know). As someone who’s dreamed and used every birthday wish on being a superhero, wanting to save the world with a band of amazing friends and getting superpowers – I will admit I feel a little bit cheated by these prophecies. I’ll be the first to admit – that I’d be an amazing superhero.

There’s an adage that used to be said around the staff rooms where I had worked as a placement teacher. When everything fails, we go back to what we know. It wasn’t just at the schools we worked, but it was also during my classes training to be a teacher. As a teacher, you’re inundated with constant research, policy and curriculum telling you how to teach or pretty much coerced to try the latest fad that’s meant to help your students achieve the very best they can (or fill someone’s wallet who’s selling these programs to you). You’re bombarded with so much theories, but to skeptical teacher – most of them will completely fail. Dealing with people is difficult, but dealing with at least 100 every day in the classroom alone and 1000s in a public school setting, not including the staff and other stakeholders – is another kettle of fish.

So when your back is against the wall, not only in teaching – but in any situation, people generally go back to what they know. For us teachers – it’s the way we were taught when we were younger. When you’re in a dangerous situation – you hold your ground or you run – depending on how you were raised. And when you’re seeking meaning in your life – or feeling sad – you go to what you are most comfortable with.

Sometimes, you don’t reap the rewards you want. Actually, most of the time – all you get is just a slow, lull sense of solace that gives you that little bit of time not caring about what you’re really afraid of losing. And then you stop to realise that, once you’ve become addicted to trying to give more time to yourself – you’re letting go of the time you could’ve used in order to get what you really wanted.

It’s been almost five years since the end of the world, and it’s only really now I’m starting to realise I need to start picking the pace up, getting out of this dark tunnel.

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