Oh hey there January blues, I knew you were coming – what took you so long?
So, we’re nearing the end of January now, but I’m still in a reflective mood. Much of this month has already been spent away from home. I spent the new year back in Berlin, drinking champagne on a balcony and watching Neukölln explode, whiled away the first week there and headed off to Dublin for my birthday on January 10th. Now that the first month is almost out, I’m still not sure where this year is going. I had plans for 2014. New years resolutions. Goals. Determination. Energy. Ambition. I was going to make this year the year. The year I did it. Made it happen. The only problem was, and is, enduringly it seems, that I have absolutely no idea what it is.
Is it the perfect job I’m after? The one where I get to make the most of my talents and creativity. I would probably get to do lots of research and writing on art, business, culture, the economy, maybe take some photos, do something crafty, hone my Photoshop skills. This would be the job in the right city, the right country. The one where I am challenged to improve constantly. The one where I get to meet interesting and intelligent people who inspire me. The one where the work feels satisfying and fulfilling rather than grinding. The job I really believe in, instead of towing the company line. Is that it for this year, is that what I want?
Is it the enviable travel plans? I didn’t do too badly in 2013 after all, I made it to 4 different countries, and 2 new ones. I talked the night away in Copenhagen, swam in the lakes outside Berlin, I soaked up the culture in Vienna, the scenery in Salzburg. I took an alpine train through the breathtaking Brenner Pass on my way to Verona. I experienced a full turn of fortune’s wheel in Florence, and finally ended up in the autumn mists of Venice where my errant lover and I experienced some ill timed food poisoning. Bellissimo! I was soul searching throughout, but beyond the immediate of ‘this!’ ‘travelling!’ I still couldn’t come up with an answer for what I wanted to do with my life. So maybe that‘s it for 2014, I should do everything I can just to scrape some money for the next adventure, go further away, set more ambitious travel plans. Make that my goal.
Is it the big move to a new place? I had a go at this in 2013 as well, but surprisingly enough Berlin was a riddled mess of problems that I had no scope for before I actually got there. The catch 22 bureaucracy, the language barrier, the difficulty in meeting people who might be sticking around, the difficulty of finding somewhere to live, playing chicken with my finances, and really wondering if I was better off spending my time and money just travelling after all. Ooops. I would do it completely differently if I made the attempt again . . . but should I? And should it be Berlin again, or somewhere else? Where? These exact same problems are just waiting in the shadows of the next place I ‘move’ to, but of course the alternative of staying in England seems worse. No easy paths here my dear, so is it the difficult road abroad again in 2014, previous lessons carefully considered?
Is it progression in my own work? By this I mean writing, drawing, creating artwork etc. Now that really is a tricky one, since it’s difficult for me to establish how ‘progression’ might be measured in this sense. Could I aim to have something published in a magazine, or on a website that isn’t my own blog? Could I try to sell my crafty bits and pieces at a craft fair? Do I really need that sort of validation and feedback, or is it ok for me to just quietly get on with the things I like and take pleasure in? Last year I did the latter, and I aim to put plenty of time and effort into developing my skills this year. I can’t help but feel I could ‘exploit’ them more to my advantage somehow though. But how?
Is it time to go back to school? Being an arts graduate having a life crisis I get asked quite often if I have considered teaching. WHAT AN ORIGINAL SUGGESTION, YES I HAVE CONSIDERED TEACHING, AND NO I DON’T WANT TO DO IT AT THIS TIME, OTHERWISE I WOULD BE DOING IT. I’m not saying I won’t ever, just not right now, thanks. I have quite a few friends at various stages of becoming teachers, and it looks like mighty hard (though very rewarding) work. Something you really ought to show some love and commitment for, probably something that fits in with your life philosophy and calm, patient, child friendly temperament. Not something you do on a whim because it seems secure enough, and you don’t know what else to do.
What I’m really talking about here is becoming a student again myself. A masters is completely out of the question since I can’t afford it, but I would, perhaps, like to go to language school. This was one of the things-I-should-have-known-to-do items off my Berlin list. I can speak basic German, but a spot of intensive language school wouldn’t go amiss. Learning languages is fiendishly hard and not particularly fun in my experience, but it’s a pill I’m willing to swallow. Language school is not terribly cheap though, which brings me back to the question of . . . would I be better spending my meagre money elsewhere, like on travel? Argh. I would also like to learn a little graphic design, since I have hunch I would probably be pretty good and it would fit in nicely with my current skill set. Same financial puzzle applies.
Is it time to find the right person to settle down with? HA. Ok, I laugh even writing that since you can’t flick a switch and just make that happen. Of all the musings on my list I really believe that’s the one you can’t make a goal. Sure, I can learn InDesign and take an immersive course in German, I can save up to go to Peru or scrub floors in the alps if I’m single minded enough. But I can’t magic up a special someone. My facebook feed would suggest otherwise though. Screw you facebook feed. Babies, weddings and settling is nowhere on the agenda, but maybe a partner in crime for everything else is about to appear from the ether in 2014?
I suspect what will happen this year will be a mixture of all the things I’ve outlined here. All things considered I felt like I did achieve a lot in 2013, even if things rarely turned out at I expected . . . the trouble was that much of last year was plagued by indecision and I was constantly second guessing myself, and trying to work out what I was ‘really’ supposed to be doing. I was hoping I’d shake off that feeling, but it’s still hanging around, I’m still stuck in the same rut. I have plenty of ideas, a lot of fear, and not much money. And I’m making it up as I go along. Again. Always. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?