Life brings many adventures along the way. Credit card debt, broken hearts, misplaced wallets, keys and the never ending adventure of “if I put 6 socks in the washing machine, why do I only ever find 5 when the load is done?”
Recently I’ve had the time to reassess my life. What do I want to be when I grow up? Will you still love me when I’m old and saggy? Why has no one invented bacon toothpaste?
In yesterday’s post I touched on the issue of abandoning Plan B but I thought today I’d discuss it more. Plan B, or as pretty much everyone I know calls it “the safety net, just in case” is in interesting if somewhat volatile subject.
Life is expensive. There is no two ways around it. Between paying your debts, paying your mortgage or rent, buying food and putting clothing on your back it seems to me that we live only to pay other people.
Now I’m not adverse to that. I’ve spent most of my life making other people rich. Just the other day I went to pay for a purchase and I was asked by the shop assistant “is that savings or credit?” My response was a somewhat nervous “I think you mean outgoings, I’ve never had savings.” I stood at the register with a clenched gut, just waiting to see if the purchase would go through. I’m happy to report it did.
But it got me thinking, how is it a person can work for over 20 years and still be living month to month, day to day. I look around at what I “own” and it’s not all that much. A decade ago I had a bit of a breakdown. My life went to shit and I lost everything. I thought then “Well, this sucks. When I get back on my feet I must do better.”
Ten years – or thereabouts – later, I’m still at my parents house, with everything I own wedged into a bedroom. Coming home was supposed to be for six months, just till I got on my feet. Somewhere in there it became decade without me even noticing.
I was raised in a family that seemed to specialise in ‘One day, when….”. It didn’t what it was, there was always a magical day in the distant future where everything would come together. When you’re older, when you’re more experienced, when you’ve got no debt, when you’re more established.
The fact I’ve carried that forward into my own life is no one’s fault but my own. The other day in a conversation with a friend I said “I’m sick to death of celebrating everyone else’s achievements.”
Be it weddings, children’s births, first home purchases, great new jobs, new relationships it doesn’t matter. It was after that conversation that I began to realise all those things are on my “One day, when…” list.
I was once accused of being a perennial man-child. Never having to stand on my own two feet, always knowing I had parents who’d pull me out of the mud. I was horrifically offended by that comment. It’s true.
By relegating my life to the “One day, when….” list I’ve absolved myself of responsibility for when the mud hits the wall. Over the past few years I’ve had some great jobs. I hated the way they made me feel trapped. I hated the way they left me feeling as though I was a soulless robot or a guinea pig in a wheel. There was no creativity in them. They didn’t resonate with my soul, there was no music.
But all in all it was okay, because “One day, when…” and everything would miraculously change and I’d be “Someone.” Being someone who achieved their goals, who achieved their own accomplishments worth celebrating.
It hasn’t happened because, quite frankly, I’ve made my life Plan B and the day to day grind has been Plan A. Honestly, the fantasy of reaching “One day, when…” became more important to me than “Right now, today…”.
Yesterday I discussed making my life important to me. Concentrating on those things that I want out of life and doing what I need to do to place my writing centre stage. One of the biggest items on my “One day, when…” list is to be a novelist. Be that professionally published or self published doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I sit down, do the work and tick that off a bucket list.
I’ve never been one for goals, mostly because they’re not for today they’re for “One day, when…”. It all happens in the distant future.
When I was 36 I explore the idea of studying a university degree via correspondence. I weighed up the pro’s and con’s. I examined the cost. I examined the time commitment and I decided I wouldn’t do it. I chose against it due to;
The length of time it would take – I would be 43 when I finished. I didn’t want to commit to that, it would mean putting my writing career on hold for six years. It would mean putting my life on hold for six years; no time for relationships, no time for travel, no extra money to go towards buying a house.
So here I sit in July 2015 and in a little under a month I turn 42. I’d be almost finished if I’d started the degree when I first thought about it.
So, how has the list of “much more important things” gone?
Written novels – No. Written a novel – No. Travelled the world – No. Travelled anywhere not on a work trip – No. Great relationships – No. Had a single relationship – No. Bought a home – No. Saved a deposit – No. Bought an investment property – No.
Turns out, even when I make a list of “I can’t do without achieving this” that it still manages to end up on my “One day, when…” list.
This blog post is coming across like I’m being pretty hard on myself, but I don’t think I am. You see, if I don’t speak clearly to myself I’m going to be sitting here about to turn 52, and I’ll be writing the same useless things.
Having a safety net is not a bad thing, unless it becomes an all encompassing, get of gaol free card. When the safety net becomes a list of broken dreams or pools of stagnant water that you make no effort to achieve any longer, you need to make some real time changes.
So I’ve done some shuffling around in my brain vault to figure out what exactly is important to me. As I made clear yesterday, the only thing that matters to me is to write. It’s where I am happiest. It’s where I feel that music that makes my soul sing. Be it a blog, a piece of marketing copy, or a story idea, the only thing that ever puts joy into my life is the world of my imagination, captured on paper.
I need to make some firm decisions in the next couple of days as to what I am going to do for an income. I’ve been toying with a couple of ideas, but I don’t want to discuss any of them right now.
My biggest goal that I do feel comfortable discussing however is the removal of having a Plan B. No more “One day, when…”. That doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and buy a house, or a mail order husband. It does mean that if I set a goal, it begins “today.”
Waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect alignment of stars means it will never happen. So to my past life, waiting for Plan B to eventuate I say, “It’s not me, it’s you.”