The Wish List
I was sorting out the heaps and heaps of stuff that was overtaking my writing room when I found a shoe box. It contained old letters, cards, photographs and something I wrote on New Year's Eve, 2002, almost fifteen years ago: my wishes for 2003.
It's a bit weird finding your old wishes. It's not like finding an embarrassing photograph, or a letter from a friend you've lost touch with, or a card from an old boyfriend declaring his undying love (who dumped you a few weeks later). Finding old wishes is big. Finding old wishes is scary.
What if none of them came true?
The weird thing is that I'm writing my second book, which is coming out next year. The main character, Jemima Small, writes a very important list. A list of all the things she believes she needs to change about herself. And, looking at this list of 27 wishes I wrote all those years ago, something is glaringly obvious.
Number 1: To be slim.
Number 15: Take up yoga.
Number 21: Go swimming at least once a week.
Number 22: Join a gym.
Number 26: Play a team sport.
These wishes on my list make me feel a bit sad. A lot of them are the wishes of someone who didn't feel happy with what she looked like. Most of them aren't really wishes at all. Just reading through them takes me back to those awkward teenager years when I never felt pretty or thin enough; I was too tall, my feet were too big, my teeth stuck out. Those feelings must have carried on well into my twenties. I know I felt afraid a lot then too:
Number 7: Overcome my fears.
I don't know what it was that frightened me so much. But life has always felt a bit scary to me. Somewhere along the way I must have learnt to stand tall. And I definitely don't care about having big feet now. That's the weird thing about wishes. Sometimes they just come true by accident.
Some of the wishes show a young woman with a sense of adventure:
Number 2: Visit another continent.
Number 6: Go on a protest.
Number 9: Save up a travelling fund.
Number 19: Go on a road trip.
Those wishes actually came true. I've spent a lot of my life travelling and going on adventures. Seven years after I wrote this list I sold all my belongings and moved to Singapore. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I was terrified as I got on the plane. But if you don't do stuff that terrifies you occasionally, how do you find out what it's like to feel brave? You also discover cool things like bubble tea.
The other weird thing about reading this list, is that I left the main thing I wanted right to the end. Like I added it on as a last thought, when actually, it had been in my thoughts my whole life. And definitely before 2002.
Maybe I put it last on my list because it felt like a wish that was a million years away from coming true. But there it is. Number 27. The wish that blew out every birthday candle since I was a little girl. The wish that had been beating away in my heart so loudly I barely dared to write it down.
Number 27: To have something published.
Finding this list has reminded me why wishing for the big stuff is so important. It's a way of showing your heart you're listening to it. And making a wish is the first step to it coming true.