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If I had to choose a word to sum up the beginning of the year so far, it would be ‘glum’. It is cold outside, dark, and damp. All memory of Christmas has been swept from the house; decorations packed and pushed back into the loft, cards taken down and recycled, Christmas songs and films removed from radio and TV circulation. I detest the relentless commercialisation of this time of year – ‘buy this for Christmas’ turns to ‘buy this in the sale’ and the switch is flicked from ‘3 packs of party food for 2’ to ‘lose weight, get fit, become a ‘new you’. The pressure to think about change is inevitable, not only because of the tradition of resolving to do new things, or do things differently, but because once all of the Christmas excitement is gone you’re left with the bare bones of life. Christmas brings family, lie ins, days out, a break from reality; for me, two weeks of bliss. A taste of what life could be like without all of the things that hold us back; work, commitments, a ceiling high pile of ironing.
In many ways I have a very priveliged life. My own house with a lovely boyfriend and a fluffball of a dog, in a lovely part of the world. A couple of holidays a year, good food, good friends, a loving family. I am happy and healthy and with a bit of luck I have a nice, comfortable life ahead of me. I love to plan and am a creature of habit so shouldn’t I take comfort in the fact that, if I wanted, I could duplicate one week with another, pick up my 10 years’ service award at work in four years’ time, then 20, then 30 and so on, watching my government pension slowly build up and then enjoying 10 years (if I’m lucky) of freedom before the inevitable? I’m just not sure that’s living.
It probably sounds a bit juvenile; the proverbial child stamping his feet, not wanting to go to school because he wants to stay at home and play with his toys. But we teach our children to have big dreams, to have goals and visions, to go out and seek adventure and to follow their hearts, when in reality very few are able to fill their lives completely with the things they love. We can do that a little bit, when we’re not working, doing chores or sleeping (or talking or thinking about work) but instead the great majority of our time is spent making money or doing work for someone else. A friend said to me recently, “True prosperity is finding something you love, and getting paid for it” and I guess that’s the crème de la crème, to do something for those 37 hours a week that doesn’t feel like work. I wish I knew how to do that, or had the courage to relentlessly pursue it. When I dream I dream of adventures, of living in different countries, of travelling the world, of weeks away in the campervan, of ticking restaurants and cities off a list, of duvet days and reading every book I own. I’m already 28, which isn’t old, but is the age when I feel like you’re supposed to have figured it out, be settled, and have cleansed your body of itchy feet. The realisation that I can’t fill my life with these things is a bitter pill to swallow and one that is currently playing havoc with my gut. Please tell me I’m not the only person who feels like this? … I’m sure it will pass soon.
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