Choosing Myself


Verity Johnson, centre, went to Australia for a fresh start. Me with the fellow Kiwis in college in Melbourne

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At 18, I moved from Auckland to Melbourne for university.

Normally I hate moving from the couch to the toilet. I need a sack they give hospital patients … So moving countries was a big deal to me.

Everyone talks about the freedom of university. It’s true. You can wear PJs in public. You can wear bed sheets in public. You can wear twigs and a garden gnome. But apart from freedom from normal oppressive, bourgeois, gender thingy dress styles, there are two vital freedoms – The freedom from old you and the freedom to become a new you.

Until uni, I was a child. My life was pleasant, dependant, and decided by my parents and school.

But when I moved to Australia, I suddenly had to make basic decisions. I had to in order to be a socially acceptable human. Should I buy food? Should I wash this? Should I go to this random’s flat to see his goldfish?

The sudden necessity of basic decisions made me think how I’d never made decisions in my emotional life either.

I had never chosen my identity. I started to ask: Was I the person I wanted to be? How did I want my life to be in 10 years? Why was I friends with a person who made me want to pour bleach in my eyes?

In my old life, I was a blob of plastecine, moulded by circumstance. But now the constant need for decisions freed me from passivity; it woke me up to the need to choose myself.

Australia was a fresh start to do that. No one knew me, or my previous sweating disorder, or my habit of google stalking Pitbull. I could create a new Verity; one freed from childhood. Now I realised that I had to, and was allowed to, decide who I was.


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