Anyone who knows me, knows I love a list. I also take pessimism and risk-assessment to award-winning levels. If there was a yearly trophy for ‘Most Likely To Find 100 Obscure Reasons Why Something Will Go Wrong’ I’d have a cabinet full.
Whilst that particular skill comes in handy in my work as a television producer (“Watch out for the moving vehicle/rain-bearing cloud in the east/man making V signs in the corner of the shot/imminent presenter meltdown”) it has on more occasions than not, also made me miserable. And (as I’m sure my other half will testify) a bit of a pain in the arse. I might yearn for a life full of arthouse-inspired passion, but when you can shoot down even a walk to the corner shop within milliseconds (“What will we buy, how does that fit into the eating plan and should I take a jumper?”), it rather kills the spontaneity.
I’ll be 39 at the end of October, and with the encroaching birthday comes the realisation that I’ve probably spent half of my life governed by an over-arching need to stop everything going belly-up. In jobs, houses, relationships…I’ve stuck it out with the mantra of “it might be grim, but imagine if it got worse.” Ironically quite often it has – I’ve lost jobs, boyfriends and houses anyway – but even when things are going ok, I’ve managed to find something to fret about. I’ve had dream jobs (filming all over the world for MTV, spending all day thinking about colour palettes as a Creative Director, chatting on Facebook in the name of Social Media Strategy), and I’ve had a fairly dream salary bracket too. I’ve still found something new to worry about - what my boss will say if I take a day off, whether my shiny new laptop will get stolen, whether that mark on the leather sofa will cause me to lose the deposit on my flat. In short, I’ve built some very gilded cages for myself.
When I met my boyfriend, he was planning a six-month sabbatical, a trip across the world to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And whilst our relationship developed, and the prospect of missing him loomed ever larger, another less-romantically-admirable emotion was building too. I was jealous. I’d watched friends, family members and exes follow their dreams (or even just a whim) and head off to foreign shores. And they all seemed to be doing ok. And yet I was still tied to that sofa, watching my bank balance, sniffling into my tissues (I have a real talent for colds) and muttering “Well, that’s great for them, but there’s so many reasons why I couldn’t do it.”
I don’t know why or how or when, but there was a moment where I just got bored of myself. It was probably less “Carpe Diem” and more “For Pete’s sake, how long is this game going on for?” but I came to the realisation that a few potential mistakes have to be better than a lifetime of feeling mildly disgruntled.
At the end of the day, it was just a decision. Right or wrong, I am going to put trying to control everything on hold, and just live a bit.