Four Year Finance Freak Out

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to view a flat that seemed too good to be true. Turns out that it was better than I ever imagined, so I took it on the spot. It was back at the estate agent’s that I first felt it: a slight twinge in my chest. Dismissing it as a lack of lunch, I signed the contract and stated my conditions, one of them being a six-month break clause in the twelve-month contract.

The next day, the estate agent got in touch to say that my offer had been accepted and that every one of my conditions had been met except the six-month break clause; the landlord wanted a me to commit to a year. That was the second time that I felt it: a definite twinge in my chest. Desperate for security and sanctuary, I agreed, and after a while felt fine. More than fine – relieved, excited, and as if I was finally on the way to getting my act together, as per the elaborate life action plan established on my 25th birthday.

What followed was what can only be described as an adrenaline induced surge of suburban fantasising: Laura Ashley, Victorian style screen-prints, and useless home decoration, such as a bouquet of paper roses crafted from the pages of Pride and Prejudice or Mills and Boon – your choice. Hours of browsing, wish lists, catalogue requests… I was really getting in to it.

Then it happened.

I started looking for sofas and armchairs, and navigated my way to the DFS website. A colleague mentioned that he had bought his sofas there on four years interest-free finance and paid less than £10 a month for them – rather appealing to the administratively salaried. I found a couple that I liked, viewed them in Pistachio green, stuck them on yet another wish list, and proceeded to calculate the monthly cost on finance.

I started to feel the twinge return, this time over a sustained period of time. Initially, I attributed this to the mathematics that I was attempting, but after definite palpitations realised that I was having a minor panic attack. Four years. FOUR YEARS. I had not even been in a proper job for more than ten months, let alone four years. The past eight months I had been living out of cardboard boxes not knowing whether or not I was moving to America, temp job after temp job, singleness for five years, and… and…

The commitment was all too much. I slammed my MacBook shut and went foetal.

After some horizontal processing, it dawned on me that ‘this it it’: I am now a grown up. You would be surprised if I told you that I had never really felt like one until that moment, but it is true – despite the whole foetal position thing. If I ever wanted to leave behind my second-hand, temporary Ikea furniture, then committing to proper furniture, and potentially a finance plan, would be part of that. If I ever wanted to build a proper home for a season, then I would have to stop waiting around for the next get-out-clause and commit to being in one place for a longer period of time. And to afford all of that, I would need to leave behind my positively teenage mentality to the world of work and commit to my job for an indefinite period of time.

Then I remembered the profound words of a wise and beloved friend sent to me but a couple of weeks beforehand:

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Maybe, just maybe, a couple of armchairs, a steady job, and a year-long lease could be anchors. Perhaps the task now is to put the next voyage, wherever that may be, on hold and dock in the harbour of Smallesville for a while. However, the question circling my mind late at night is: do I really want to?

Too Good To Be True?

I sat in the winter sun enjoying brunch with one of my gorgeous girl friends. We were reflecting on the past year and how much things had changed for us both since last December. She looked radiant; her face lit up as she filled me in on her job, love life and her life in London, all three of which had changed dramatically over the past year – and for the better. “It…it feels too good to be true, Jules” she said.

I shared that I had found a property on my dream street in the new town I had just started working in. It was (fairly) affordable, within walking distance from walk and the town centre. However, the bathroom and kitchen had not been photographed. I was due to view it that Monday, and I was completely stressed out. “There must be something wrong with it. The kitchen’s probably going to be a mess and I bet that the bathroom won’t have a shower,” I fretted at her, “it’s just too good to be true.”

When did we become conditioned to expect bad things to happen and to be suspicious of goodness? As children, we approached the world with open arms. Yet somewhere along the line, we got burnt. We experienced a bad thing. Life got difficult. We got older. We grew cynical and ‘learnt’ that “all good things must come to an end” and that “if it sounds too good to be true, it is!” But what our relentless search for the catch is the thing that ruins it? What if our disbelief that something could be good, might work out, run smoothly, or be a fulfilment of a dream prevents us from the real truth – the truth that sometimes good things just happen?

What would life looked like if we lived a bit naively and took things at face value? Would we be more frequently disappointed? Probably. Would we be more happy? Maybe…just maybe…

What should I do with my life?

The other day I asked my father what I wanted to be when I was little. He told me that I went through stages of wanting to be different things: a teacher, a vet, a marine biologist, an artist, a dancer… the list went on. I asked him in the hope that I might find a clue as to what direction I should be heading in life, as for as long as I can remember, I have not had a clue. I panic when I get asked ‘so what do you do?’, or even worse: when someone asks ‘so what do you WANT to do?’ My CV reads like a multiple personality disorder. However, the more that I discuss, the more I have come to realise that most people in their twenties do not know what they are doing with their life. I had a fair few teachers at school who had been teachers since day one. My Dad’s had the same job all of his life. My current boss has been running his own business for 17 years. I think the longest job that I have on my CV to date is around 10 months…

Any of this sounding familiar?

If so, here are a few challenging, inspiring, and/or helpful links that I have come by recently.

First up: Enjoy Your Life

A great starting point: with your heart’s desires. What would you do if money were no object? What do you desire?

Secondly, the eternally popular and extremely emotive: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (more formally known as the Last Lecture) Note: at 1hr 15mins this is a long one but worth every minute of your time.

Randy had specific childhood dreams that he wanted to fulfil. But what if, like me, you cannot identify a list as clearly as this? Perhaps Donald Miller’s blog article What if You Don’t Know What To Do With Your Life? might be what you are after. Donald had to ‘discover’ his passions and offers four very practical suggestions to do so.

Some other things that I have found helpful:

  • Mentoring – Finding people further along in the journey of life than you who have been there, done that, and know what you are going through; professionally, personally, whatever it is that you are struggling with. They are hard to come by and you will have to put some effort in to finding one, but the right mentors are worth their weight in gold. Mine have changed my life.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean  –  No, seriously. Sometimes when I think about the future, I feel as if I am a compass with the needle spinning round and round frantically trying to find north. If you recall in the Pirates of the Carribean films, Captain Jack Sparrow has a compass that does not direct north, navigates to the explorer’s heart’s desire – “True enough, this compass does not point north.” “…Where does it point?” “It points to the thing you want most in this world.” Knowing what you want to do is really a matter of the heart. We can think about it, take as many aptitude and character tests as we like, but ultimately they will not tell you want you want to do – only your heart will.
  • A glass of red wine – Worrying about what to do takes up so much energy and can distract you from just getting on with things. Breathe… and trust that things will figure themselves out at some point. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

You will be alright, poppet.

jacksparrow

P.S. If you are wondering more widely about the meaning of life, try an Alpha Course: http://www.alpha.org