During one of many Covid-safe walks recently my brother Greg told me that I am one of two people he knows who hasn't had a set 'vision' for life. I jokingly asked if he sees me as a loafer with no aspirations but I knew what he was saying was positive.
We were talking about the past year and how it has affected so many people's plans. It goes without saying that 2020 has turned the world upside down and that, understandably, many have struggled with lockdowns, job changes or losses, relationships or illness. More time spent considering personal situations and futures seems to have been a common thread among people I work with and know personally, with many people making quite drastic changes to jobs and home life. As we talked further Greg explained that he sees my lack of rigid planning as a good approach and that it seems to have made me content in life. I'm aware that I do feel content but I've never considered that this may be, in part, because I failed to make firm plans in my younger years regarding my future. In fact on reflection, much of my life has taken me by surprise. Engaged at 20, married at 22 a baby at 24, another at 27. A third baby never came but maybe that was OK because I didn't have an ideal family in mind, I'm just so grateful for the two children I have.
Aspects of my career have surprised me too. I always knew I wanted to provide care but at the last minute changed from midwifery to nursing. I never expected to be practice nursing at 23, I just didn't think I'd be taken on for lack of experience. Following on I've worked in parish nursing, school nursing and am about to embark on counselling. Again, none of this has been planned, instead I have just grabbed opportunities as they've become available. I never thought to meticulously schedule my life. And now I've had a bit of time to contemplate this, I'm glad I didn't! I've always seen life as a huge jumble of varied experiences. Not all of them good but those are the times that shape us. I never expected to develop a lifelong lung condition at 32 but to quote Ronan Keating 'Life is a rollercoaster, just got to ride it'. Not my taste in music but I agree with the sentiment!
Perhaps a lesson to learn from the pandemic is that a fluid approach to life is key. If we pin hopes on a certain lifestyle or timeline without acknowledging it may not work out, the effects might be damaging to our mental health, our relationships and future choices. If the last nine months have taught us anything it's that we are not really in control. Life can be wonderful. Be gentle with yourself and enjoy all that's in store.
Merry Christmas and here's to a promising year to come 🎄