On Wellington

(Where I possibly confuse you all further, make matters worse, or both …)

As I’ve said a few times, in the many and various ways that I communicate, the trip back to Wellington has been an interesting one. This is my home town, it contains many people that I love, beaches that I frequent, blinding light that you can’t find any where else in the world … but it doesn’t feel like home, whatever home means.

My memories of it over the last year have been far rosier than the reality. I feel out of step with the place or perhaps it’s more the case that I’m not ready for Wellington and Wellington sure as hell isn’t ready for me.

You’ve heard this rant already, so let me expand on it.

Dear Wellingtonians,

I realise that it’s a small place and the degree of separation is possibly a maximum of two, if you’re lucky (although if there is a separation of three, freakin miracle! This is why Facebook’s ‘People You May Know” algorithm is so annoying. Yes I do know them, that’s why I don’t want to be friends with them) … so any piece of news, rumour or gossip has a way of getting around. Quickly. But, just because it does, doesn’t mean we should stop saying what we think, when we think.

Oh, now I see what you meant by making things worse.

Yes. What we think may not always be the smartest thing in the world to say out loud, I’ll give you that. And yes, in Wellington these things tend to get you into trouble … well, anywhere it will get you into trouble but in Wellington it seems to be particularly acute.

Well here’s the thing Wellington: No one cares. Opinions are just opinions. And in this little pressure cooker of a township we like to call a city we care far too much about opinions. We appear to be worried about causing offence, of reputations being diminished or fouled upon, about what people will say about us. No one really cares, sure they may care for the first week or two if they haven’t got more important things to get on with in their lives, but outside of a field like medicine or perhaps building safety – you know, industries where it really is all about life and death, no one aside from your own self will remember, no one aside from your own self will care.

And sometimes, Wellington, I think we have a very small town mentality. It’s worth remembering that no one outside our own particular spheres of reference know who we are by reputation or that even within our spheres of reference, no one gives a shit. Never work in this town again? Bollocks. Good things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, their reputation means nothing, hell, they could have a written document detailing every person they’ve ever screwed over in the most phenomenally public way and still have a brilliant and respected career. I’ve seen it happen, many, many times over. A few names pop to mind, I’m sure a few names pop into yours too.

There are things that matter, obviously. Lying on your CV (if you’re going to fake your PhD, pick some obscure university, not the friggen LSE!) will probably end your career as a senior public servant … for this year … until after the election, I bet …

So stop worrying Wellington. Speak your mind, yes, brace yourself for the consequences, but you do more damage to yourself, to the rest of us, by self censoring. You disagree? Good. Tell me about it. I want to hear, I want to discuss, I want to debate, sometimes heatedly … and when we do argue, or stomp, or scream, remember it’s the argument or action that is in question, not you or your personality or your very existence on this earth.

Speak up, Wellington, because we used to and it feels like we don’t anymore. And I know you want to Wellington, I really know that you want to speak, but you stop yourself and that is where that bitterness (the bitterness I spoke of last week) seems to be coming from.

Say and do, don’t sit and wait for the right time and place – it will never come. Leap.

Leap without fear, stop playing it safe Wellington. I swear, you never used to …

And before you say ‘that’s easy for you to say, Sonal, you leave in a week’. Bollocks. I could stay here for the remainder of the year and it wouldn’t make any difference, I’ll be back in 8 months and it won’t make any difference. In the grand scheme of things, no one cares about what I have to say, I mean really have to say, it’s just another opinion by which you navigate your world view and you may disagree, you’re allowed to. Others are allowed to, in fact if lots and lots of others strongly disagree then chances are I will concede the point. I have an opinion but I also know how to listen and admit when I may be wrong.

And I’m not scared of admitting that I’m wrong.


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