Song: Here’s Where The Story Ends (“It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year which makes me smile inside…”)
Today marks the Second Anniversary of this blog springing to life, and it also marks the First Anniversary of my time at the cosy little cottage in the village with its flowery EVERYTHING, bunting, huge fireplace and tin of ornamental spam (don’t ask). And, for a third year running, this week has produced some huge changes in my life.
You see, this time last week I was planning a blog post about how the cottage has changed the course of my life in many ways but ultimately for the better. It has, from securing me my independence and making me act like a grownup, to giving me some of the best house parties ever and sending my social life into orbit. It has basically been a year of good times. I can vividly remember how things felt this time last year, and it was pretty fantastic, so this blog feels strange for me to write.
The big changes this week started when my housemate moved out (miss you already Clairey) – this was planned a while back, but it was still a massive change to my daily life. I knew I’d miss having Claire around, but I’d pretty much said yes to staying at the cottage until the end of February by myself, and looked on this in a “Ah, sweet freedom – my own little space” kind of way.
Except, that’s not quite how things go:
As well as being the week Claire moved out, it’s also been rather chilly for the first time in months. Our cottage is from a time before insulation, double glazing or not-having-holes-in-the-windows were invented. And, pretty sharpish, I’ve had to remember the lost art of sleeping in a woolly hat and gloves, and doing the ‘I can’t feel my arms or legs’ dance before I get out of bed each morning so I don’t fall over.
As Claire moved out, I had a little ‘let’s give myself a panic attack while I do my finances’ afternoon. All those parties have taken their toll, and it turns out I can’t afford to put the heating on this year. I’ll refer you back to point #1…
I didn’t realise how much I was used to having company. The cottage loses all of its charm as soon as you’re there all by yourself for a whole evening. You start talking to spiders on the wall or – even weirder – tidying up, and that’s no way to live your life.
This week, I was re-introduced to the lovely Chris, a fellow with whom I went to the same school for seven years and yet – despite both going on to do Englishy degrees with the aim to write for a living – apparently we both pretty much ignored each other for the duration. He’s now working in the same office as me for a few months, and I’ve discovered he’s a fellow blogger (check it out, he’s totally ace in a born-to-write way) and also dabbles in novels. He duly reminded me that November is NaNoWriMo month, and also reminded me that I’M SUPPOSED TO BE A WRITER BUT I DON’T WRITE ANYTHING ANY MORE.
- SEEKING & SCHEMING
I also caught up with my lovely, travelling-the-world-and-improving-it-as-they-do-so friends Marianne, Guy and Ashleigh. They’ve been to amazing places, they’ve done extraordinary things, and then they’ve come back and made us all murderously jealous. Not intentionally, you understand, and more importantly they’ve inspired my friend Kelly and I to remember that we have our own travel/supercoolstuff dreams.
These five things, all conveniently beginning with ‘s’, combined and made me realise I’ve sort of been coasting for too long. I like the cottage, ergo I stay there. It’s very easy to be drawn in to creating your own little ‘way of life’, spending all your expendable income on bubblebath, shoes, nice restaurants and other ultimately useless ‘treats’, ensuring you continue to cruise from year to year in a happy but ultimately settled state of being.
Don’t get me wrong – that’s awesome, but I’m just not there yet. I don’t have a job in which I plan to stay forever, I don’t have a relationshippy reason to stay in one place, and I haven’t done all I want to do before I find both of those things either. Basically: I’m not ready for the settled lifestyle I’m living, I have other things left to do and the luxury of being in the right time in my life to do them.
My problem is: ‘other things’ are a scary prospect, and I’m not very good at scary prospects. It seems like since I graduated last year and ventured for the first time into a world with no plan, I’ve been trying desperately hard to pretend there is a plan and that plan is pretending I’m too old to have adventures. This week, I realised I’m not. I’m 23, I have no ties, and I have an awful lot I want to do. So here’s the part where I start doing it.
- At the end of November, I’m moving out of the cottage. I’ve spent too long being ashamed of the idea of moving back in with my parents, convinced it meant failure. My friends have shown me what it actually means is the freedom to do anything but fail. Until such times as I know where I actually want to live, I’m living with my family again.
- I’m bloody well doing NaNoWriMo. Chris, another friend Alex and I are all diving into the abyss of writing 50,000 words in a month, and we’re going to enjoy bullying each other into making it to the end.
- I’m going to travel. Next year, Kelly and I are doing Europe. We’re going to write about it as we go, and see what happens on the way.
It’s a three-point plan, but it basically boils down to something Steve Jobs said in his speech at Stanford University in 2005. The whole thing is inspiration in the extreme, but this extract really smacked me in the face:
You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
I know I’m perhaps taking his words a little out of context here, but this week has made me realise I’m simply not ready to settle just yet.