Tag Archives: attitude

Growing Pains

Funny-Zumba-500x466

Happy Friday, lovely reader!  How are you?  Shall I stick the kettle on?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we don’t know what we’re doing.  This applies to all aspects of life, including Zumba classes (left step right step turn step jump step trip over your own shoelace step) and the bigger questions like “where is my life going?”, “how do I find happiness?” and “will I ever achieve my goals?”

I had a small meltdown this week about those questions – although it turns out that Zumba is actually a lot of fun, and it’s ok to fudge your way through the trickier moves – and turned to a friend of mine who is in a similar position, i.e. in his mid-twenties with a passionate desire to succeed but no clear idea of how to do so.  When we boiled the issue down to its essentials, we decided that no one knows what they’re doing at our age, and that we’re not really supposed to.  This made me ask another scary question: “when are we supposed to know what we’re doing?”

We have all been brought up to believe that the older, wiser and taller people around us know what is going on: teachers, parents and older siblings have all made it clear to us that they can be trusted to know what they’re doing.  This led us to believe that one day we will know what we’re doing, too.  But when is this elusive day of understanding?  At what age should we be waking up and saying to ourselves, “I’m pretty sure I’ve got the hang of this ‘life’ thing now”?

I have friends my age (or thereabouts) who are teachers, home-owners, paramedics, married, producers, in possession of a pension plan, and even parents.  They are, as far as the world is concerned, sorted.  But internally they worry just as much as people who are unattached, students, renting flats, between jobs or between life ambitions.  In many cases, their external lives have little or no relevance to their internal persona.  My own mother, who has five grown-up children and a life-long teaching career, admits that she doesn’t feel like an adult most of the time.  (I can believe that.  For starters, her ridiculous sense of humour completely belies her actual age.)

So what hope do we have, if our apparently grown-up friends and actually grown-up parents do not think of themselves as sorted, respectable adults?  Are we doomed to feel a bit lost and uncertain for the rest of our lives?

The short answer is: yes.  The long answer is: yes, but that is actually a very, very good thing.  When we have everything that we want in life, we stop looking for anything else.  We stop pursuing new ambitions, pushing ourselves to achieve and chasing after our goals.  Not knowing what we’re doing is scary, but it also motivates us to keep looking, and to keep finding things to learn about and enjoy in the world around us.  Essentially, happiness and feeling ‘sorted’ is fine, but it doesn’t open your mind or make you grow.  Uncertainty, ambition and passion make you keep going.

It almost doesn’t matter whether we find the elusive feeling of knowing what we’re doing.  As long as we keep looking for it, we will be learning new skills, travelling to new places, meeting new people and trying to be the best possible versions of ourselves.  Pursuing that feeling is what shapes your attitudes and makes you a fascinating person, and if you really think about it, being interesting is much more important than being a ‘proper grown-up’.

Right, kettle’s boiled now.  Could you grab the milk out of the fridge, please?

The Boy Scout Attitude

hqdefault

Hello dear reader, and welcome to…what day are we on now?  Thursday?  Friday?…oh.  Monday.  That’s a shame.  Anyway, how on earth are you?

Like most people, I love the idea of being prepared for stuff.  Wouldn’t it be great if we were the kind of people who always had a spare pen and a packet of tissues?  Wouldn’t it be brilliant to be able to reply “yes” whenever someone at work is pleading for painkillers? There are people out there who are reliable, dependable and always able to help.  (Writing that bit has made me realise that I’m basically describing my mum here, which is nice.)

These people seem to have all the answers, because they have thought of every possible outcome of their day before they left home.  To disorganised eejits like me, these people seem to have a prescient affinity with the universe that allows them to foresee and deflect crises. In reality, these people just have their heads screwed on properly, and they are prepared for life because they’ve learned from experience.  For instance, experience tells a British person to always, always, always take sunglasses and an umbrella, just in case.  If you are the kind of person who learns from situations and equips yourself for similar occasions accordingly, then you are a winner.

Sometimes we can’t help but be equipped a certain way, because of who we are and what we do.  For example, I am a writer, so odds are I’ll have loads of pens and at least one notebook on me.  One of my friends, who is a child minder, always has plasters and formula in her handbag.  A friend of mine who works with animals always has hand sanitiser and antihistamines with him.  Where we go and what we get up to dictates how prepared we are for daily life, and to a certain extent this is true of our personal lives, too.

Where you’ve been in life prepares you for emotional situations.  Just as the sensible girl takes a pair of flat shoes along on a night out because she knows that her stilettos will fail her, people who’ve had their hearts broken a few times tend to equip themselves with caution when entering a new relationship.  If you have been brought up to be emotionally expressive then you will be well-equipped to offer someone support and a hug when they are sad.  If you have ever embarrassed yourself on national television, you will be perfectly able to comfort your child if they mess up a line in their school play.  That’s a bit of an extreme example, but you know what I mean: what happens to us equips us.

We have to learn to be Boy Scouts about bad stuff that happens: think of each experience as a badge you’ve earned, which equips you to deal with similar situations next time, and to help other people going through the same thing.  Be prepared.

On that note, I’m off to buy some wellies for a camping trip this weekend.  Have a glorious Monday.

The Upsides to Unfair Truths

tumblr_m8z22mK6Do1rbrd8uo1_500

Good morning, and happy Thursday to you!  I hope you are feeling very well-rested today.

I’m a very lucky girl.  Yesterday I got to spend a sunny afternoon in a kids’ playground, chatting to my lovely mates and escorting my friend’s eighteen-month-old son on his (many, many – seriously, millions of) excursions down the climbing frame slide.  Apparently, some things are not made boring by relentless repetition.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we grown ups still found utter delight in something as simple as going down a slide?

I think that one of the reasons we don’t necessarily have the same capacity for joy as a toddler in a playground is that we know something the little ones don’t: life is full of hard truths.  Here are a few of the most annoying/inconvenient/unfair, each with a little optimistic upside to help us recapture some joy:

Television Shows End
I feel very sad for the people who watch Community, which I hear was cancelled recently.  It sucks to fall in love with a show, invest in the characters, get emotionally involved with the storyline and then discover that the big, bad L.A. producers don’t agree with you.  How very dare they.  The upside here is that new shows come out all the time: when Friends ended, nobody could have predicted that something as fun as How I Met Your Mother was on its way from the same brains.  So don’t panic, Community fans: you never know what’s around the corner (of the television executives’ board room table).

Justice is Unfair
Bad people hardly ever get what’s coming to them, terrible things happen to the loveliest people, and the theoretically just concept “freedom of speech” means that the BNP Youth are allowed to upload horrible campaign messages to YouTube.  We just can’t win.  the upside to this is that our instinctive “that’s not fair” reaction leads us to have interesting debates, learn lessons from bad situations and work out which horrible people to avoid in future.

Feelings Make No Sense
You can know what you love or hate about a person – their sense of humour, their attitude, their hair style – but you can never know exactly why you feel that way about them.  We fall in love with the least suitable suitors, and we cannot bring ourselves to fancy the people with the best emotional prospects.  The upside here is that the lack of logic makes love more exciting, romantic, weird and wonderful.  Wouldn’t it be horrible (albeit slightly more convenient) if a physical trait plus a personality characteristic automatically equalled love?  We’re not robots.

Life is Short
Scratch that: time is short.  I mean, it’s Thursday already; how did that happen?!  As we get older time seems to go by faster, and our to do lists get longer instead of shorter.  We forget to text people back, we miss birthday parties and there is always at least one household task that we’re just never going to get around to.  (Mine is hoovering the stairs.  It just isn’t going to happen.)  Here is our upside: the diem is ours to carpe.  Go on that holiday, take up that hobby and tell that person how you feel about them.  Go on, I dare you.

Wasps Exist
I can’t think of an upside to this one.  Sorry.  Wasps are just mean.

Have a brilliant Thursday.  I hope that this day goes down in your personal history as Unbelievably Delicious Dinner Day.