The other night I met up with one of my best friends, and as I told of him of my new plans for this, that and the other, he suddenly started laughing. “Lizzie darling,” he said. “Do you realise you change your mind about everything pretty much once a week?”
After mock-slapping him for not taking my (latest) big decision seriously, even I had to admit that he kinda had a point. In truth, if the stereotype of womankind is that we tend to be somewhat fickle, then it’s true I do very little to refute this. I’m forever making declarations, plans and announcements, which I often reverse almost imminently. I fall in love with things (new hairstyle, new dress) in a heartbeat, then very quickly wonder what it was that I liked so much in the first place.
More proof for the pudding? Well, I’ve redecorated my flat a grand total of four times in three years, and my wardrobe boasts a somewhat ‘eclectic’ mix; a direct result of my tendency to overhaul my look on a whim - see above. Oh and then there’s the effect this personality trait has on my love life. Case in point: one of my past relationships ended when the man in question admitted that he loved me more than anyone in the world, but couldn’t handle the fact that he never knew what was around the corner. Apparently, my dramatic/erratic ways do not make me marriage material. (Personally, I think he just needed more sense of adventure, but hey ho.)
As much as I rather enjoy my non-boring reputation, dare I say - as 2018 dawns - I believe times might be a-changin’? In the twilight months of 2017 I made a few life-changing decisions, and I haven’t changed my mind about a single one of them as of yet. Could it be that I finally know who I am, what I want from life and, most importantly, how to get there?
I don’t want to get over excited (something I also have a tendency to do) but it’s certainly looking like it. For one thing I’ve enrolled to study a MSc in Psychology, beginning in two weeks time. Sure, this could be likened to another flash in my pan, but I know that this is different. It feels so right, like it’s what I should have been doing all along. Plus, to stress my point, my ‘whims’ typically don’t cost me so much money…
After that, a career change and a doctorate calls. If I win the lottery then I’ll be doing all this in New York - an American friend tells me I’ll never be out of work over the pond - but wherever I end up, friends are already teasing about their visions of me sitting beside a retro couch, pen in hand, pencil skirt at the ready. That’s fine by me, as long as I get to wear glasses every day and shake my hair out of a ponytail come 5pm. (I’ve always, always wanted to do that.)
In reality though, I know that the ‘Dr Lizzie’ look isn’t really me; serious and studious is most certainly not my style. I’m not typically known for dressing the part (just ask my ex what I wore to help him move house) - I’m only happy wearing what I want, when I want. But this is also an area where I think the past year may have done wonders for my clarity…
In a nutshell, I’ve decided to surrender to my fate as the quintessential English rose. My default style is vintage-esque dresses, light colours and florals, and whenever I try to deviate from this norm it never really works out. Take a recent trip to Germany to see the aforementioned ex, for example. Cut off from my usual shops I decided to experiment, opting for a slogan top and t-shirt dress - the latter which I chose to work with my over-the-knee boots. The problem is, general consensus was that I looked like a Working Girl. (Maybe that’s why I’m an ex - I guess ‘prostitute’ doesn't equal marriage material either? #spotthepattern)
Joking aside, in contrast to life as a wannabe escort, the slogan tee felt boring and standard, which left me facing a conundrum: if both looks are regularly seen on the street style stars of instagram, effortlessly flaunted to fabulous effect, why don’t they work on yours truly? Well, in my life I’ve repeatedly been told I look as if I’ve escaped from the Tate museum - pre-Raphaelite era, to be exact - so herein probably lies the clue. Can you imagine Ophelia lying in the lake, dressed like the above? Exactly. And so, in keeping with my artistic vibe, I figure it's time to accept that I’ll never be a t-shirt and jeans type of girl, and the hooker vibe is completely at odds with how picky I am about men. Right now the universe seems to be supporting my decision, for I’m on holiday in Australia and so many locals have commented on my selection of “pretty dresses”. I like this reputation. I’ll take it.
In other news, in the latter part of 2017 I also finally settled on the decor for my flat after leading it through several incarnations. First it was multicoloured, then it was all about the statement walls and boldly patterned paper, then… Oh I forget. On the contrary, today it is pristine white; all pared-back and bohemian-inspired. A friend recently described it as ‘beautifully arty’, which I could have kissed her for. I’m finally very, very happy with what I have - and no fancy interior magazine can convince me otherwise. I’m now so ridiculously proud/in love with my home. (Given I just acquired a giant silver star in my company’s sample sale, £65 reduced to £3 no less, how could I not be?)
I honestly feel like this new, calm/content-with-what-I-have me is largely due to my decision to go back to school. Sure, this means studying again when I swore I was done with all that. It means taking out a (thankfully small) student loan less than 18 months after I finally paid all my previous ones off. And it means one helluva busy year ahead. But it also means using my brain again, something I don’t feel I’ve had to really do too much of in recent times. (Input blonde joke here: don’t worry, I’ve heard them all.)
Funnily enough, my brother has long expressed his exasperation that I ‘play up’ to a ditzy blonde persona - but it isn’t an act. I am ditzy. I walk into walls. I fall over invisible objects and trip on stairs, but I’m also pretty damn smart once you get past the bumps, bruises and occasional gems that come out of my mouth prior to thinking. (“Is Egypt near Africa?” is one of my best friend’s personal favourites.) I need to feel challenged again, learn something new and see where it goes. The brother apparently thinks I’ve made an “excellent decision”, with approval from him undoubtedly the weirdest part of this ‘life overhaul’ to date. He’s refusing to ever call me ‘Dr’ though, so at least the stereotypical sibling dynamic is still ticking along, live and well.
At the end of the day, there’s a reason why they say you can’t be happy with anyone else until you’re happy within yourself which, flighty behaviour and slutty dresses aside, is probably the real reason for any exes in my life. I’ve felt for a couple of years that something big needed to change and, now that it is, maybe this is why all my ducks feel as if they’re lining up in a row. In the past I know I’ve made decisions based on others’ expectations or my own misguided notions but, at 36, I’m finally being honest about what happiness is for me. And the weirdest thing? The realisation that I don't want my life to be all about me anymore…
Confused? Me too. You see, in 2017 my family values changed, with no one more shocked than me. There I was, future happily mapped out as the quintessential single girl. Sort of. Yes, I saw a man in my future, but never children. When I imagined my career as a freelance writer it involved sipping wine on a beach, no strings other than those of my bikini. Now that I’m opting for life as a therapist, that has flipped on its head. Doing a ‘9-5’ type of job, I can’t imagine coming home to an empty house at the end of my day, and am subsequently more open to ‘filling’ it than I previously thought. It's bizarre, for I’ve never, ever been that girl. Indeed, if it ever does miraculously happen, I’ll completely be Miranda from Sex and the City - only loving my own, still baring my teeth at any other kids who happen to cross my path.
Funnily enough, recently I had a ‘scare’. When I suddenly started randomly throwing up my food and feeling dizzy, rather than evoke concern my best friends started hypothetically ‘raising the baby’, each finding it hilarious that pregnancy was a possibility. (All except one that is, who instead began enlightening me as to the many ways one can apparently self-abort - charming.) Of course I saw their point: me with a baby bump is akin to a Victoria’s Secret model having a bad body, no one expects to see it, but maybe this new me isn’t as vain as her predecessor. (Who am I kidding? I’ll do Pilates every day, ignore food cravings and constantly rub Bio Oil into non-existent stretch marks.) And maybe she won't even mind being wine-free for nine months. To be honest, that last point will probably prove more difficult than giving birth. Pain I can handle, but a prosecco-less existence? #help
Thankfully, Mother Nature has assured me I’m not actually with child right now (which is great - things to do, people to see and all that), but who knows what the future holds. Actually, if I believe in fortune tellers then I already do know, for I had mine told last week and the results were… interesting. But that’s another story, for another time. For now, I’m just really happy about what I know is coming up around my corner.
But maybe check back in a week or so, just in case I change my mind…