It’s no accident Muriel’s Wedding is a favourite film. I saw myself in Muriel — stuck but dreaming of a better life.
“I’m gonna get married,
I’m gonna be a success.
… I’ll show them all,” Muriel’s Wedding, 1994.
A supposed friend once called me a ne’er do well. School reports always said Myles is bright but could do better. A no hoper. The boy with promise became the boy least likely. A grifter, a drifter.
I’d start degrees but never finish — Science, Commerce, Journalism.
I worked dead end jobs I hated. My life was a Groundhog Day of benders, hangovers and chaos.
This was not the life I imagined. It was not living, it was surviving.
I knew I would never have anything resembling peace if things didn’t change. Worse, I’d end up dead.
Two things happened around the same time — I discovered a talent for photography and I got sober.
But this was no quick happily ever after. Another 20 odd years of false starts, periods of darkness, restarts and hard, hard graft to get where I am now.
I took a cold, hard, sober look at myself. I was entitled, a victim. I grew up surrounded by success and somehow thought it was owed to me. I blamed everyone and everything for the life I had. From a sense of entitlement and victimhood to acceptance of my failings and willingness to do better.
An acknowledgement of my selfishness and a realisation the world does not revolve around me. Owning up to my wrongs and a promise to do better. And not just words. Actually do better.
The next stage was to put in the work and try and let go of the outcome. Easier said than done. This I have struggled with, and still struggle with.
Now? My photography business Photoform* is thriving. I’m 13 years sober. I have healthy relationships with my friends and family. A success? Not my words but how some now describe me. Success is simple for me — to be able to work full time in a career I love.
I’m in a magical phase of my life. I live the joy of someone who has spent a lifetime in hated jobs and life but now they get to live the life of their dreams. But I try to take it with a pinch of salt. I know too well the impermanence and fragility of anything in life — success or failure.
I also want to acknowledge the advantages I had. It’s not easy for anyone to transform a life but my burdens were of my own making or because of my own shortcomings. I started with a loving family, a good education and robust health. I’m well aware a lot of this planet does not get that.
I will never judge anyone who is not able to lift themselves up. The homeless alcoholic, the meth addict or people with mental illness.. People who have stumbled for whatever reason. I will always try and look at them with empathy and love. I won’t ever forget their humanity. But for the grace of God go I. Literally.
Sometimes I don’t even recognise myself. From someone with zero self esteem to a quiet confidence. Ok I’ll be honest it’s not always quiet, haha. But professionally it’s the confidence of working through failures, of never giving up.
And why did I write this? Because I know there’s a version of me reading this right now.
Stuck in a life you hate and dream of more.
Start working towards your new life today.