I think I’ve started this blog post about five times in the last week, but to no avail. Writing about something you’re unsure of in your life is always a difficult thing to do. And writing the truth is even harder. However, since I’ve been using this blog as my own confession box for almost four months, I see no reason why I should stop now. So here’s a post about changing your mind and your life plan, or discarding the old one.
I used to be really good at plans, which shouldn’t be confused with good organisational skills. I was never an organised person, except when I was being paid to be organised and working in admin. I hated those jobs, but they helped me pay the bills and realise that when I died, I did not want to only be remembered for my filing skills. However, I was very good at overall life planning. Once I had decided that I was going to follow the therapy route, I had it all mapped out in my head: leave home and travel the furthest distance to go to university, study hard (ish), build up my volunteering experience, train as a therapist, and then become one. Simple.
Well, no, it wasn’t simple at all, and there were pitfalls and stops along the way, as with any brilliantly vague plan. However I got there in the end; with a shell of the person I used to be remaining, and this new, improved and much more emotionally aware person emerging. At least that’s how it was initially. I had embarked on an emotional roller coaster of a career, and even though they warn you about that before you get started, it never quite prepares you for what’s to come. And for five years, I ate, slept, and dreamt about being a therapist and everything that it entailed. Then one day, I stopped dreaming about it.
It wasn’t quite as sudden as that but it pretty much felt that way. I had been obsessing about being a therapist for almost ten years, and every job that I took, every social event I skipped, every mind-numbing essay I wrote was contributing to this one dream that I had. Seeing clients had been as difficult and rewarding and life-changing as I had hoped, but I hadn’t accounted for the fact that my life outside of being a therapist, might also change. By that I mean the kind of person I had become had gradually stopped feeling like me, and I wished desperately for a break from everything.
I could say that it was because I was heavily affected by the work that I was doing, and I had just stopped taking care of my emotional wellbeing as a therapist. I could say that I just needed a bit of a break to gather myself after heartbreak and changes to my living situation. Or I could say that I rediscovered my passion for writing and it took over or began to compete with my previous passion for therapy.
The truth is it could have been all of these things and more, but whatever the reason was, I think that sometimes we just change. I don’t mean that flippantly (although that is usually my style) as I’m not really sure that people change exactly; they just get better or worse at being themselves. Perhaps that sounds cynical? Well that’s the state of things at the moment; my intentions and my life plans seem to have changed. Plus, the fear of what could and could not be has also increased tenfold (see previous post about Fear).
I want to tell you (and myself) that it’s OK to change your mind about things. It’s OK to want something and let it drive you, and to even get it and love it. And it’s OK to also find other things you love, and perhaps stop doing that first thing you loved for a little while, to give this new (or in my case old) love time and room to breathe. I also want to tell you that you will feel one hundred percent certain once you’ve admitted that your mind has changed about something, but that would be what I like to call “a bald faced lie”.
Changing your mind is scary, and realising it and following through is a new terror all on its own. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. If anything it is a bigger reason to do it. And all of this is easier said than done, which is why I am taking the easy route and just saying it. Still, I speak from my own experience (because where the hell else could I speak from, besides completely making it up I guess?) when I say that I’m starting to think there are no longer right decisions and wrong decisions, there are just decisions. Some make you feel good, and some do not. I was (and to some extent still am) constantly questioning whether taking a break from being a therapist was a good decision or a bad decision, but I haven’t taken it back yet or really regretted it. I just became more concerned about the fact that I was throwing away a well rehearsed life plan, but you only get one try at life, right? Unless you believe in reincarnation, in which case, follow your plan and I guess the next life can be a do-over? Not ideal though…
As for me, right now with my one wild and precious life, I’m attempting to make good on a dream I’ve had since I was a child, even though wanting to be a writer does not exactly make for a secure future. But then again, neither does unhappiness, and I know which one I’d rather forge new plans from.
Image credit: Female by parkjisun from the Noun Project