WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE: Pantograph Punch Edition

In anticipation of WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE, The Pantograph Punch ask ourselves that very question.

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Next Friday sees The Pantograph Punch doin' it live, with some of our city's finest young talents discussing what it means to work creatively in New Zealand: the benefits of staying, leaving or teetering somewhere in between.

We would love it if you came (you can buy tickets here): it'll be a fun evening, and it's sort of an experiment for us: We’re a young blog trying to figure out the best way to keep things running without perpetually displaying ads about singles in your area.

In anticipation of the evening, we asked each other the very same question we'll be posing to the panelists next week. We'd love to hear why you're still here, too.


I’m still here because… well, who knows? You leave high school and get a degree or two and do some travelling overseas and then return to find a job, and if you’re lucky or lazy you do it without moving far from the city where you were born. Intermittent wanderlust satiated by intermittent travel, you get to realizing New Zealand is a pretty chill, boring place. The kind of place you’d like to retire or raise a family. Not having a work visa for anywhere else is a part-time excuse not to flee immediately, but eventually everything begins to chafe, and one day you wake up and discover you’re moving to Melbourne in three months.


I’m still here because I’m stalling. Because I’m terrified of commitment. Because New Zealand is a great place to hedge your bets: It’s supportive and it’s small enough that you’ll never fail too drastically. That’s the problem too, of course.

When I was 24 I became utterly overwhelmed by the endless possibilities that lay ahead. It made me anxious. I acted irrationally and erratically. I felt like if I made one wrong move, made one bad decision, I’d ruin everything – everything! – but at the same time I had to make a decision, soon, because if I didn’t, that would ruin everything too. I had options, but they wouldn’t last forever. I eventually narrowed them down to two, but even that was too hard. I didn’t know which I wanted. I wanted both. I did crazy things. I remember having a mental breakdown in Mike Corballis’s office one afternoon. We had never met before. As it turned out, his son had done the same course I’d been thinking of doing, and his advice helped immensely.

At 26, I still feel like I’m drifting. I spoke at a medical science symposium this week. It’s absurd. I’ve never studied biology, ever, but I have this amazing job working in a field I’m hugely passionate about – science education – despite the fact my background is neither in this particular science, or education. I feel incredibly lucky and out of my depth and I'm constantly asking myself what I think I'm doing.

But that’s why I’m still here. Because it's like living at home: you’re loved and supported in whatever you do. But eventually you have to leave, to grow up, or something. Maybe.


Why am I still here? I’m not afraid of travelling by any means; as an undergraduate, I uprooted myself to Europe for half a year in an act of grim-set determination to venture outside my comfort zone (it was pretty fun in the end). I get antsy when I see my friends make the leap and prosper before a succession of international landmarks on Facebook. And boy oh boy would I like to live somewhere where there’s a decent newspaper or two. After getting my car broken into in that haphazardly developed disaster zone Cook St end of the CBD at the weekend, I looked at the yawning space on my desk where my laptop used to be and asked the question again, wondering if I’d come up empty.

And someone furnished me with a pretty good answer: despite keeping a lot of different activities on the go – work, this site, other writing, assorted extracurriculars – I still don’t know what it is I want to do. But I do know that more than anywhere else, Auckland endorses its patient and ordinary dabblers - it lets me be okay at a lot of things until I summon the diligence and attention to be excellent at one. At our age, making the move overseas also demands that you make yourself one creature and apply everything to survive in that new ecosystem. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it just pays to be sure before you put yourself through the contortions. I’ll think on it, and it helps that I have a burgeoning cultural scene to enjoy while I do so. It’s a product of amazing people like those on our panel, sure – but populated by a supporting cast of loveable if hopeless dilettantes. Here’s to us.


Friday 30 November | 7pm | St Kevin's Arcade

Tickets available from Under the Radar


{ Feature image: Maja Daniels }