I’m trying to say ‘yes’.
I think all my life my default has been ‘no’. ‘No, because what if?’ ‘What if I make a fool of myself’, is the usual one. ‘What if people don’t like me?’
Well, that is a risk. It’s interesting that I think that and others don’t, even though some of them undoubtedly DO make fools of themselves. But a) so what? And b) maybe it’s just me who thinks so. So that then leads to c) maybe that says more about me than it does about them?
Sometimes in the course of this careershifting process, either on the course or just generally, I find myself thinking that some of the things people are doing are naïve. ‘Tcha! Fancy thinking you can do xyz just because you think you might like it, when the people who actually do xyz have a degree in it or 20 years’ experience’. Or whatever. Whether they are foolish, or ill-informed, or not, they are certainly more likely to succeed for trying than if they sit on their bums making excuses. Like me.
I realise I have always kind of thought that I couldn’t do X unless I was absolutely and categorically the best at it. What crap. But I still fall for it. I’m never going to be Kate Moss so I may as well be a fat pig. I’m not Tolstoy, so where do I get off on thinking I could be a writer. And so on. (I wonder where all this comes from, and why, and what I can do about it.)
And, OK, I still have no money coming in and I really do need to (what is stopping me?) so take what I say with a pinch of salt, because although OBVIOUSLY money isn’t everything, it is at least something when you have none and you live in London and have children. (For now.)
But money aside (because maybe this is not going to lead me to paid employment) it’s just more interesting when you say yes. And I want a more interesting life. I know that there are people who have done things like spend a year saying yes to everything and then writing a book about it. And there are people who just, in general, say yes more often than others. It’s kind of logarithmic or exponential or whatever the word is: the more you do, the more you do, and the more interesting it is. Nothing ventured (as they say) nothing gained.
I spent years – years and years – moulding away. And I feel the pull even now. Shall I go to X? ‘OK I’ll go, because you never know’. And then somehow I kind of don’t. ‘Oops, it’s too late now’. I have a great line in inertia. And hiding. There’s a lot of ‘who do I think I am?’ I can’t imagine, for example, putting my name to this blog, in case people criticise it. I can get all hot and sweaty just thinking about the hubris involved in writing it at all. But guess what? It’s not the days you spent sitting on FB (or writing a solipsistic blog) that will sustain you later in life, but the things you did, the people you met, the opportunities that came your way because you went out to meet them, and yes, very probably, the mistakes you made. I am beginning to see that if you don’t do anything wrong, you also don’t do anything right. And that maybe it’s all very well bigging up your husband and kids, but it’s a bit cowardly if you are thinking ‘I know I am crap, but look at my family’. And it also will not help you – au contraire, mon ami – when he fucks off and then of course the kids grow up. (Indeed of all the mistakes I made, he was arguably the mistakiest, but also that experience is certainly teaching me now.)
All of which puts me in mind of Number 5. If you haven’t seen the movie Short Circuit, you should. I watched it when it came out and then, later, when I had children, again and again. He’s a robot who escapes from NASA or somewhere, having accidentally come to life. He does things like flick through an encyclopedia and absorb all the info in it, and he has a constant refrain, in his tinny little voice: ‘More input! More input!’ That should be my motto. I know it is obvious to a lot of people, but it’s only just starting to become clear to me, and I have 50 years’ habit of ‘go away and leave me alone’ to overcome.
Image: A life spent making mistakes is more useful than a life spent doing nothing. George Bernard Shaw. I have had this fridge magnet above my desk for as long as I can remember, but I never really believed it until now. I love GBS. And he was a big fan of the Alexander Technique.