Life Lessons: Things I've Learned Since Turning 30

I'm not a self-help kind of gal. I'm a bit too cynical for things such as The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People , Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience or the belief that my star sign will somehow reveal some mystical path I'm meant to take. I believe that the 'secret' to finding wealth and happiness is that it's a slog every single day and nothing is guaranteed and that the best way to make friends and influence people is to be yourself; and if that makes you unpopular then bugger them all anyway. As a rule, I don't practice the act of faith and I'm pretty sure that most of what occurs is up to chance and occasionally, if you're lucky, good planning.

Until October of 2008 my life was completely different from what it is now and then four and a half months ago it changed drastically again. In the first instance, the change included selling my house, quitting a job that I loved and leaving my family and friends to move to Cardiff in the United Kingdom. It was a huge step and I can remember how frightened and overwhelmed I felt about it and how excited I was about what my life would look like.

After moving to Cardiff I took a job that I initially enjoyed, was in a relationship and even made friends - all the things one is meant to do after moving to a new place - but I still wasn't happy. If anything, I felt even more stuck than I'd felt before leaving Canada. So I ended my relationship, began a new relationship and eventually moved to London.

It was like the children's game where one person hides something and as the others look for it they are told if they are getting 'warmer', 'colder' or 'red hot'. After this second change I was definitely getting warmer. I loved London, had some wonderful friends there and was in the best relationship of my life. But there were still things that made me really unhappy. I had some bad experiences at work with a group of mean girls (I use the word 'girl' loosely here) and was increasingly feeling stressed and unfulfilled professionally. Because of the intense negativity of that situation it began to feel like a shadow was cast over all the good things. So we decided to make a change, again. Four and a half months later I'm writing this from Melbourne, Australia in a freezing cold little room we've rented in a bustling little neighborhood called St. Kilda where we can get boiled bagels and kosher meat and see orthodox Jews walking around with their tall hats and long curls on either side of their faces. And the sea with Luna Park is only a fifteen minute walk away and there are wonderful markets. Things aren't perfect and they never will be, but so many things are wonderful and I'm so glad we decided to do something about a situation that made us both unhappy.

Image: Luna Park at Night by katclay

And that's it basically. I've learned that if you don't like the direction your life is headed, if people are unkind or going into work makes you feel sick to your stomach, you can change things and you owe it to yourself to at least try. It's scary and depending on your situation it may be more difficult and there may be greater or lesser degrees of risk you are able to take on, but it is possible to throw up your hands and say "this isn't for me so I'm going to try something different". Small changes, big changes, whatever.

Some people will try to tell you that you've got a problem, that you're afraid of commitment, that you're insecure. They will try to make you feel like you need to accept your lot and live with it. Those people are probably just as miserable as you're feeling and are terrified that you'll prove that change is possible, terrified that they'll be left behind. And some people just like being miserable and they'll cradle it for the rest of their lives. Leave them to it.

I am so deeply grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who haven't told me I'm a lunatic for traveling around the world at the ripe old age of 32: my mother, my aunt, my grandparents, my lovely friends (Jackie - I'm looking at you) and all of our clients who just 'get' the concept of what we're doing and who continue to pay us to work on very cool projects regardless of where we happen to be located in the world. Finally, I am most grateful for  Dan who is always so good to me, always an anchor no matter how bat shit crazy I'm behaving at any given moment and who keeps me warm, even in this cold little room in Melbourne in the early spring time.

Sometimes you just have to stop moving for a second an appreciate where you are. And yes, it's enough. More than enough.

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Anonymous said...

Great post, Amy. Hope you're still having fun "on the road". Sounds like it.

Coincidentally, I celebrated my 30th birthday on St Kilda beach after doing a gig the night before in Melbourne.

Elan Morgan said...

I have loved watching your life transform from afar. I have gone through a huge work/life transformation myself, although all within the same city, and it's true, there are always those who tell you that you're selfish or have expectations that are too high or that you'll fail. Screw 'em. You're in Australia!

Amy said...

@Neil - thanks! Yep, we're having loads of fun. The only crap part is that we've got loads of clients right now so instead of wandering around looking at penguins, we're holed up in a library working. Grrr! But that's also a good thing. Money is good and the work is interesting. But - penguins!

@Schmutzie - Right back at you sister! (Not the part about Australia obviously, the other part)