10


Royal Quarter, Buckingham Gate


What three words would you use to describe what troubled you during your adolescence?


Education, complying, and sleep.


Sleep?


It’s not the deepest thing but if I’m thinking back to what troubled me day-to-day, yeah it was lack of sleep. It took over my life in a way. In the evenings I’d start anticipating the night, because I knew it was going to be painful; I’d just lay there overthinking for hours before falling asleep. Even before teenage years it was a big problem for me. I remember going to my doctor about it when I was around 13 and them saying “it’s probably just a hormone thing” or something to that extent. That annoys me even to this day. (Chuckles) Hearing him say that was the start and end of my teenage angst.


Do you know the reason for the sleeping issues now?


Underlying stress if I had to guess.


Before age 13 too?


Yeah, all my childhood maybe. I’m not going to pretend like I was the child prodigy of pressure, but I was way ahead of my years when it came to being stressed.


What were you worried about at the ripe old age of 10?


It was loneliness I think. Where I grew up was the sort of place where there were about 20 people your age, so I had very little choice of friends. My friendship group was tight, and... I love them but we wouldn't be friends if we hadn’t grown up surrounded by just them and farms. But yeah, I mean we still see each other all the time after knowing each other for almost decades. It’s not like I don’t get on with them, because I do love them, but I feel like you need people who are similar to you when you’re growing up. And I didn’t have that. I always wanted to be an identical twin, and looking back I think that sums up my loneliness and overall stresses about being alone quite nicely.


Do you feel content with the people you have around you now? 


Yeah, in terms of friends. Now I’m just stressed about not having a romantic partner to be completely honest with you. Once I left home I had too much choice for friends maybe. Because it’s two-fold: firstly you have more people around you, and secondly you naturally surround yourself with people who are interested in the same things as you. For example when I used to work in quite an intense office-style job, everyone was roughly in the same part of their career and we all had similar aspirations. But when you’re young you get put together in friendship groups purely on age and location.


What was your friendship group like? Were you in any cliques?


That’s what I’m saying! There weren’t enough people in my area for cliques to happen.


So what sort of people do you think you needed around you at that point?


Hmm... it’s difficult to word it. I want to say intellectuals, but that’s not quite it. Or maybe it is. Actually, yeah it would be more nerdy friends, and I think I have a good reason for that. I was the most academic of my friends. I was the clever one; that was my personality. When you’re young it’s easy to put people into boxes like that - like cliques. And I think my life was dictated by that label. So having people far more clever around me would’ve made me fit in more and also feel less... obligated to take a heavy academic route. I did maths, economics, and classics at A Level, and now I’m not using any of those subjects for my career.


Yikes.


Yeah, I feel the same.


So you felt a pressure to study academic subjects because you were known to be good at them?


Exactly, yeah. It comes back to the idea of complying and conforming. Realistically, I don’t think I thought for myself until way after teenage years. I can for certain tell you that it wasn’t before age 18.


Does that go outside of academics too?


Yeah, I think I coasted through all areas of life until recently.


But isn’t part of teenage years about copying trends and following other people’s opinions until you find your own?


And I never did that last bit until my 20s. I reached independence long before I started thinking about who I was, you know?


In terms of style?


Style, opinions; as in big opinions. I feel like I finished a degree before I even started thinking about what I wanted to do for a career.


Do you wish you could go back and give your younger-self a wakeup call?


No. It’s cliché, but I needed to learn the long way otherwise I wouldn’t be myself. Was that as horrible to hear as it was to say?


(Chuckles) That was nauseating pal.


I say the long way but actually it was a wakeup call like you said. As in, I was cruising for years and then had a big event which made me realise I was on the wrong path. I think a lot of people have something like that after their teenage years to be fair, or at least at the end of their teenage years, around 18 or 19.


Would you be willing to share what that event was?


Not particularly, no. Even with this being anonymous, it was a personal experience that probably wouldn’t make much sense to anyone else. What I will say though is this: I think bad life events like being fired from a dream job or going through a break up are good for wakeup calls, but how many of those dramatic life events do we actually go through? Maybe one every couple of years? You can’t rely on waiting for something like that to happen to turn your life around if you’re not happy with yourself. My “event”, or “wakeup call”, or whatever you want to call it was very uneventful - I was just at a breaking point and needed to change my direction in life. It bothers me when people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do in life, and then go on to fulfil that. Especially when you know their life was dictated by their parents. Like when people say “oh, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher because my parents were both teachers.” Maybe it’s true, but to me it feels like they’ve been forced into a certain life path from a young age.


Is that because you see an element of yourself in those people?


Yeah, completely. It irritates me to see people blindly comply with their “reputation” or what they’ve been told that they’re good at, because that’s exactly what I was doing. 


(Chuckles) You sound like me. When people are like that I’m always in disbelief that it’s true, but I think some people genuinely want to do what they’re set up to do during their childhood.


It’s probably jealousy on my behalf. But again, I’m glad I took the long route.


Finally, what would be the soundtrack to your childhood?


Childhood Dream - Wojciech Golczewski



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