I'm Officially Youthful... Again

It all began about two months ago when I received an email from my gorgeous editor. "How would you like to go to Frightfully-Exotic-Destination-Far-Out-Of-The-Country?" (She actually called the place by its proper name, of course. This is just me, up to my usual amateurish writing tricks.)

My reply was probably half-incoherent as usual, but I DO recall that I said something along the lines of: "AREYOUKIDDINGME? Of COURSE I do! I want to go ANYWHERE!" (Yes, I always yell at her on email.)

Unfortunately my hysterical over-enthusiasm and willingness did not make it a done deal. Not by far. We had to actually enter a global competition first. This required us to complete a flurry of virtual application forms, answer almost 200 questions, write some essays, take pictures (UGH! WHY do people need to see what a writer looks like?!?), submitting all of it on time and crossing our fingers until they turned red then blue then black.

Being my usual 'optimistic' self, I decided not to get my hopes up at all. So I tried my best to forget about the contest (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Right, because I don't fixate. At all) and just carry on with my no-life life. Two weeks ago, Ms Gorgeous Editor and I both received emails informing us that we had made it through to the semi-finals. (I wasn't surprised about her success. I've been telling her all along to just pack her bags already.) One step closer to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I still didn't dare to think about it.

Thing is, as always when I forbid myself to do something, my lack of any self-discipline results in me hardly thinking about anything ELSE! I even went as far as joining the contest's Facebook page, Googling the amazing destination, reading travel articles about it and losing myself in the photographs. But then I'd crossly remind myself to yank my hopes back to earth in order to protect myself from sure, heart-shattering disappointment.

But yesterday morning really early, LONG before my usual wake-up time of round about the crack o' noonish, I got up and obsessively calmly checked the website to see who had been selected. The press release stated the usual "everyone was amazing, but sadly we couldn't pick you all" consolation. (Don't they KNOW that stroking your ego before brutally crushing it just makes the horrible news even WORSE?) Then they said that the chosen ones include the likes of Olympic medalists, beauty queens, Harvard grads... and that one guy even received a personal endorsement from his country's head of state, and I knew right then and there with such a crystal clear certainty that I was out. So I climbed back into bed, curled into a ball and told myself that not being picked isn't the end of the world.

I was just drifting back to sleep when a text message notification on my phone woke me up. It was Ms Gorgeous Editor and she told me that she has made it!!!!!

And... she told me... so have I.

SO HAVE I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On August 12, her and I and two other Saffas will be jetted off to Taiwan for two glorious weeks to attend the Republic of China (Taiwan) International Youth (! According to the Taiwanese, I'm still youthful!)  Centennial Homestay celebrations with 246 other people from around the globe. We will be staying with host families and all we have to do in return for being handed this amazing adventure is to tell the world (or, in my case, my three imaginary readers) about our experiences on our blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook, or whatever other social media platforms we have available to us.

I honestly still can't believe it! I keep on staring at the list of names, expecting my (horrible) name to disappear from it when they realise their terrible mistake at including the likes of me. (I'm just kidding, judges! Please don't get any ideas?!?)

One thing is certain: I would NOT have this to look forward to had it not been for the help and encouragement of many people, from former and current employers, fellow bloggers and co-workers writing me the most lovely references, to family, to the few other people I had confided in about entering. My Gorgeous Editor has my eternal gratitude for telling me about it and inviting me to enter in the first place. I know she has told me to stop thanking her already, but wow... how can I ever thank her ENOUGH?

There is Elaine, the fabulous lady from the Taipei Liaison Office in South Africa who bent over backwards for me and graciously answered all my queries during the application process.

Then there is my darling friend Lemony, who patiently sat up with me until the wee hours (while she was ill, no less!) to listen to me stress and vent and moan and cry, making me cup after cup of coffee and just generally calming me down and jotting down my answers to the questionnaires faster than I could even dictate it! I guess you'll be getting that souvenir from Taiwan after all, Lemony!

And of course, none of this would be possible without Alice and the rest of the SayTaiwan Homestay organisers and judges.

Although I am definitely walking on clouds, my joy has been a tad subdued and bittersweet. As some of you know, this year has been particularly awful for my family. Three months later, we're still reeling from my brother-in-law's murder. I'd be lying if I said that I don't feel guilty for having this thrilling opportunity land in my lap at a time when my sister is hurting so deeply.

But bless her, for despite her grief, she is so genuinely, unselfishly happy for me...

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9 Comments

Giovanni said:

Amazing news Red! Well done! I hope you have the best time!

Redsaid Author Profile Page said:

Aw, thanks dear friend. As I've said, though, I would NOT have this chance had it not been for that amazing girlfriend of yours.
P.S. Sorry I didn't make contact yesterday. Was a bit of a hectic day, but you've been on my mind the whole time.

Lemony said:

Thats fantastic! So so so happy for you Red! Congrats! You think I've got time to lose enough weight to fit into your bag??!! Hehe!

Redsaid Author Profile Page said:

Lemony my darling! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!? I still can't!

And oh, puh-leeeze! You are already skinny enough to go as hand luggage. Your bones are already poke eyes out!!

I keep on thinking that my name is going to vanish from the list, because surely they will realise they've made a mistake in including me? Everyone else seems incredibly accomplished. The average amount of languages spoken looks to be about five per candidate!! (Many speak seven!!) I am barely coherent in one! I am going to be so intimidated. But hey, AT LEAST I'M GOING! Hahaha!

Thank you, girl. I was so down and out, I NEVER would have completed the application had it not been for you egging me on and helping me. I was so ready to give up. Thank you for not allowing me to give up. x

wow. that's awesome. congratulations!!! and not immediately STOP the "i'm not good enough" talk/crap because clearly (!) you are (!) and you make all the people who decided that you should be part of this look like idiots by questioning their decision. YOU DESERVE THIS! xoxoxo

okay make that "NOW" immediately stop...

thanks.

Belated congrats... I'm not surprised at all because you rock!

disabilitysolutions@gmail.com Author Profile Page said:

Well done, and well deserved Red & Charmed!! I look forward to reading all about your trip (and then hearing about it over the coffee you will buy me!!).

Well deserved as you both have the ability to write excellent blogs. Can I give you a list of electronic items I would like you to buy me while you are in Taiwan??

Guy

Malani said:

Hi Ragel, is it possible to send a pic of yourselfve. Die Burger (daily newspaper) is doing a story about the competition. Will appreciate it if you can send one today to mventer@dieburger.com.
Kind regards Malani Venter

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
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comments
  • Malani : Hi Ragel, is it possible to send a pic of yourselfve. Die Burger (daily newspaper) is doing a story ... [go]
  • disabilitysolutions@gmail.com Author Profile Page: Well done, and well deserved Red & Charmed!! I look forward to reading all about your trip (and the... [go]
  • Aunty Helpful Dictator : Belated congrats... I'm not surprised at all because you rock!... [go]
  • kim {notcrazy} : okay make that "NOW" immediately stop... thanks.... [go]
  • kim {notcrazy} : wow. that's awesome. congratulations!!! and not immediately STOP the "i'm not good enough" talk/crap... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Lemony my darling! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!? I still can't! And oh, puh-leeeze! You are already skinny... [go]
  • Lemony : Thats fantastic! So so so happy for you Red! Congrats! You think I've got time to lose enough weight... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Aw, thanks dear friend. As I've said, though, I would NOT have this chance had it not been for that ... [go]
  • Giovanni : Amazing news Red! Well done! I hope you have the best time!... [go]
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