In about three weeks, I will move out of my house and head to university.
I will leave this spacious, airy building with its floral wallpaper, mustard yellow 1970s bath tub, high ceilings, overgrown garden and big windows.
I will move into a tiny room in a house full of strangers. My furniture will stay behind and I will take fewer than three hundred items, discarding the rest.
I will have a new city within which to shape myself, my days and my relationships. Unwavering routines will be forced to shift. Familiar sights will fade away.
I could call this a fresh start and perhaps it is. That's what I called high school and later college. That's what I called moving house. That's what I called changes in my life, from haircuts to breakups, new pets to beginnings of school terms, from notebooks to shifting seasons.
Fresh starts can be addictive. The idea of total reinvention is alluring.
For once, I am not viewing this move as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. I am past the stage of despising every aspect of myself and chasing opportunities to eradicate it, to start again. With maturity comes acceptance. Self-development is a far worthier route than reinvention. I can make incremental changes, regardless of perceived time frames. Starting a new habit, or extracting an old one does not require it to be the first of the year or month or even a Monday.
I change myself in tiny ways each day, in conjunction with a fresh start or not.
There will be a new room to make my own. New people to unpack and connect with. New corners of a city to explore. New classes, teachers, modules, timetables, schedules. It is a drastic change, but a necessary one.
When I decided on a university, my boats were burnt. No backup plan was made. It was either this university or none, with the latter not being an option. I did not allow myself to dilute my desire to go there. Knowing that I would not settle for anywhere else forced me to do what it took to get in. Securing a conditional offer wasn't easy. I had chosen not to take standard English for A level, in favour of more unusual courses that let me develop wider language skills. Universities don't always allow this. Still, I got the offer and then far exceeded the required grades to be given a place.
That hunger came from a desire to grow. Self-development is the deepest form of self-love. I choose to see university as a new chapter, not a whole new book. I will still be me, though in a contrasting place.
Sometimes, the opposite of fresh is not stale.