One thing I can say for sure, is that this year has not been dull. For a variety of very good reasons, after 15 years abroad, I moved back to Canada. Hurrah for dual citizenship! However, after a few months the wisdom of the move is precariously in question. (Update – I moved back to the UK in October, no regrets :-))
I haven’t made any definite decisions about the future (I know which way I am leaning heavily towards) but I have made one decision: I won’t beat myself up about the possibility of having made a mistake!
What I’ve learned by making good plans that worked, or went awry or by following bad plans that worked, or went awry, is that sh*t happens. You can dwell incessantly on what you could have, should would, have done and then one day you’ll have to move on and get over it!
So before jumping head long into my next cunning plan, here’s what I’ve learned from my life so far and most recently this experience:
1. You definitely learn new things about yourself. What you will and won’t put up with becomes much more clear as does what you can and cannot do. You also realise you can be pretty ruthless if you have to be. Good news is you are also incredibly kind and generous. Overall you reach a nice balance by becoming much more understanding of other human’s foibles.
2. You find out who your friends really are. Those fair weather people who just want things from you (time, money, validation etc), well they just disappear because you are not longer so freely available. Your real friends take that phone call at 1 in the morning because you just need to talk (and you screwed up the time difference).
3. New uses/ways are learned for old things. When packing up two suitcases and two boxes for a big move you need to make sure it’s really worth hauling across the globe. Yes my complete collection of House on DVD is worth it!
4. Confidence and independence increases. It’s OK to say you’re new and that things are confusing but you have to rely on those gut feelings and ensure you aren’t taken advantage of. eg. I have learned (once again) house-sharing is not for me. I will never again be seduced by a big window and a fancy desk.
5. At parties you’ll be a stellar guest with the been there done that stories. Tread carefully as here, you could easily become a bore if you over do it. Oh, you definitely add to your repertoire of insightful, funny, tragic stories. Have I ever told you the one about…..?
6. You can share wisdom as in be a good example and not a horrible warning. Don’t become the poster child for “how not to experience life”, become a connoisseur and revel in the good bits version. However no candy coating here. If something went horribly wrong and there is a point to the story then share but don’t dwell. Victimhood not welcome!
7. When you realise the error of your ways, you enable yourself to make better future choices. Because after a few “mistakes” everyone learns to avoid a few real clangers!
8. What’s really important to you is clarified. Sometimes you have to do it the hard way to find out what you really care about and what really matters to you. And it’s not stuff and things.
9. Mistakes make life a lot more interesting. I have friends who’ve had the same job for 20 something years. They’re still waiting to go to Rome, take a boat out to Milford Sound and drive across the Rockies. Sometimes I’m jealous but then I remember I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Yep also had the indecent proposal in Vancouver, the bear in my campsite in Ontario and the car break down in the Australian bush. Life’s rich tapestry.
10. Pride – you know you’ve tried. No one can ever say you didn’t give it your all. There is no shame in changing your mind but it would be a shame if you have no mind to change.
And sometimes a “mistake”, isn’t a mistake. It’s just called having a life.
I’ll let you know what happens