Of course I was lucky. I was born in an age when, for the first time in history, being a girl was not a disadvantage. Likewise I was at school and more importantly university when education was free. And I was lucky that things came easily to me. Schoolwork, music, sports, friends. There was no reason for me to think I couldn’t do things, because to be honest, there weren’t a lot of things as a child that I felt I couldn’t do. And I dreamed. Of owning and riding a horse. Of living in Wellington and meeting the Prime Minister. Of exotic travel, of glories. Winning Olympic medals and being in the Silver Ferns (the New Zealand netball team). Being Billie Jean King, as I hit my tennis ball against our house. Of money and good clothes. Of an exciting life.
Then you start getting older. You realise your dad is never going to buy you a horse. And even in your teens you start narrowing your options. I knew early on I would not be Miss World. That’s not something I regret, I’m pleased to say. Then gradually the other dreams fall away. The Olympic medals were never an option – winning school sports events was good enough. I knew too I’d never be a concert pianist. That was okay too, as I got tired of practising.
Then you graduate from university and start working. I realised some of my dreams were too small, but some were too big. I realised there were a lot of other talented people out there, and I would need to work hard.
Now in my forties, there are a lot more nevers, and they stack up more each day. Some of them are regrets. I’ll never have children. I’ll never see my dad again. These ones I deal with every day.
But there are definitely some nevers I can live with, relish, embrace:
I won’t be Prime Minister or a politician. I’ll never run a marathon. Thank God to both.
I’ll never own a private jet, but will never have to feel the guilt of such elitism, not to mention environmental impact.
I’ll never make my fortune on the tennis circuit.