Friday, 2 March 2012

Choose Life

Sometimes in life you come to a crossroads. You have a decision to make. Do I stay or do I go? Do I move? Try something new? Stay, persist, apply, don't apply, step sideways, step up, step down? 

Before I had my daughter four years ago all that was relatively simple.

 Really it boiled down to three main principles:

1. Did I want to do it?

 2. Could I handle it? (and sometimes I did it - whatever it was - even if I couldn't handle it)

 3. Could I afford it? (and sometimes i did it - whatever it was even if I couldn't afford it)

So in fact, one principle. Did I want to do it? You could say that things are the same now. Do I want to do it or not? Only now symbiotically grafted onto my brain I have The Other People. How will IT (the decision) affect my child? My husband? And the question which many women ask some time after having their first child - or fourth - who am I now?

Recently, I had an opportunity in my work place to apply for a more senior role. I'd be managing a team, be one of the decision makers. I'd earn more, quite a lot more. It was tempting - too tempting.

I went for it.

I should have known when I put my application in on the last possible day that I wasn't sure. I should have known when I put off preparing for the interview to the last possible minute that it wasn't right. And certainly I knew when I blathering pointlessly in the interview that it Was Not Meant To Be.

And it wasn't. I didn't get that job.

 And you know what? I felt relieved.

 Because that job would have locked me into a full time position doing something I wasn't sure I wanted to do. I wouldn't have been able to pick my daughter up from school. I wouldn't have had time to write. I would have spent that extra salary on paying for stuff that I didn't have the time to do.

What now? 

Do I jump ship and look for a job elsewhere? Funnily enough, I'm not in a rush, not one bit. I want to take my time and think and explore. The week that I didn't get that job I won two flash fiction contests. A small thing but it made me feel a million dollars. I lost myself in world building. I played unicorns with my daughter. I explored museums. I research. I felt great. And I thought, this is what I want. This is ME.

It comes down to the pernicious word SHOULD. I applied for that job because I felt I should. For a great take on the evils of SHOULD read this life planning blog post by therapist Michelle Woodall.

From the moment I did I had bad dreams. Dreams I'd put my baby on a bus to nowhere. Dreams I was in trouble with the board. Troubled dreams. Something was trying to tell me something. I'm still not sure what. But I'm going to find out, slowly and in my own time. And in the mean time I'll play with my daughter. I'll visit museums. I'll read obscure historical texts about the French Ministry of Justice. I'll write flash fiction and push along with my work in progress.

 I'll be ME.

 Not because I SHOULD but because I want to. Back to first principles, I say.

If you want a bit of inspiration on living the life you want, pop over to Rachel About Town's blog and like the lady advises just START.


Anonymous said...

Wow - I felt like I wrote this post! The shoulds of life are most certainly evil and I have been battling those since I had my second child 4 years ago. 'I should be doing this' 'I should get a part time job' 'I should' 'I should' 'I should'!!!

What a refreshing read, it really touched my heart. I dont know you at all but again, wow. I felt like I was reading about myself! Great post :)

Meg McNulty said...

Thanks Virginia -I read your blog and felt the same way! We Are Many :-) Please do stay in touch - I'd love to hear about your progress.