I spent yesterday viewing flats in various parts of London. Rich and I have decided that 2018 is the year we will finally move into our own home, having been renting in North London for the last few years and what feels like forever. At last we have cobbled together a deposit and have started looking ‘seriously’ – as opposed to my usual hobby of hours combing through Zoopla for ‘fun’ and continually upping the budget filters ‘just to see’ what sort of fantasy home we could live in if we had a million pounds to spend! (The results are actually really depressing thanks to London prices – sob).
Since we can’t afford to live anywhere very central, we found ourselves exploring some new areas further out, some of which I’d never even been to, and this got me thinking. In the past when I’ve had to move (usually because the landlord has decided to hike up the rent), I have always prioritised my work when choosing flats – is the commute okay, is there space to have my home office etc.
Not knowing what is happening with my work this year, and in the sprit of putting my own needs first, I found myself looking with fresh eyes at the range of possibilities in front of us. In fact, the budget limitations which prevent us living as centrally as we had initially hoped became a real positive, as they forced us to explore new and different options we would never have considered otherwise. I found myself feeling genuinely excited and actually motivated about the potential changes in environment, area and ultimately in lifestyle.
For the first time in ages, I realised I have possibilities.
The other day I was listening to an interview on Radio 4, of a 40-something man describing his midlife crisis. He said that when he was a young man in his 20’s he had felt that the world was his oyster and that his life ahead seemed full of possibilities – perhaps he would have numerous careers, perhaps he would live in another country, become a world-class pianist or even play for England. Then as he grew older he realised these possibilities were gradually slipping away as, one by one, doors closed, until finally the chance of ever playing for England, however much of a stretch it may have seemed in the first place, was definitely a goner. This realisation was what triggered his sense of panic and the onset of a midlife crisis.
Although I could sympathise with this man’s story, I didn’t share his experience because even in my 20’s, I never allowed myself to think I had possibilities. I thought that moving to another country, running a marathon, or starting up a circus… these were things other people did. (Incidentally, I have friends who have done all these things and they are heroes). The sense of duty which I have talked about in this blog meant that if ever a fleeting thought about, say, moving to New York would come into my head, it would quickly be dismissed by my chatterbox as nonsense. That’s not an option for you stupid. You have to stay put and focus on your work.
But yesterday as I stepped inside a crumby old 60’s flat with peeling paint and an avocado bathtub, and looked at the view of fields outside the window, for the first time I knew in my heart that I do have possibilities, and they are here for the taking. Far from a midlife crisis, just maybe my post-burnout life could be full of adventures…