what do you really want?

In John Lennon’s song Beautiful Boy there is a line ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’. I’m sure this is true for many people and it is absolutely true for me.

For the last few years, probably since year 11 or 12 at high school, I have been eagerly pushing towards the Next Stage. In year 11 and 12, hope for the future was the only way I could survive the present. I pushed my mind, my body and my soul so hard. I was desperate to finish high school and do well enough that I could go to university. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m glad that I did find it within myself to keep going during some pretty rough circumstances.

However after school, I really needed to take stock and slow down. Initially I didn’t, for a number of reasons. I moved to a new city with my boyfriend and his family. I couldn’t find full time work quickly enough and I wanted to be around people my own age so I could make friends. So I started uni. After six weeks of denial and viciously fighting the inevitable, I collapsed. I deferred my studies and went to live with my dad for four months. In that four months I was forced to be with myself.

At first I hated it. I hated myself and I didn’t want to be left alone with my thoughts. But then I went to see a brilliant counsellor who listened and encouraged me and soothed my soul. I also joined an art therapy class for young women at the local women’s space. I created, crafted and drew. For those two hours each week I was totally at peace with myself in a caring environment, free of judgment. Those four months certainly weren’t easy and they didn’t erase the years of trauma that had preceded them. But it was a start. And it was good.

Fast forward four and a half years and I realise it is time once again for me to slow down and re-evaluate. In true Linsey style, I have been in denial about this need for a while. During the last twelve months a legal scare, a broken shoulder and a hashimotos diagnosis all failed to stop me in my tracks. Sure, I decided not to work over summer so I could do last semester’s uni assessment. But really, I still fully intended to go hard once the uni semester began.

Go hard or go home! Right?

Right?!

Maybe not…

During the last three weeks I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on a holiday, totally remove myself from my day-to-day life and re-evaluate what I want. In the last four and a half years I have been running towards the completion of my combined arts/law degree. No, not just running. I have been hurdling, pole vaulting, karate chopping, even parkour-ing towards that certificate. Anything to get past the barriers and obstacles that come up along the way. Because life is full of mountains to be climbed and all that jazz. Just. Keep. Going.

However about halfway through my trip away, I had a sudden realisation in the car on the way up a windy mountainous road (don’t worry, I was in the passenger seat whilst philosophising!). What if, instead of being there to test our determination and resolve, obstacles come up right at the time we need to evaluate what we’re doing and why. What if an obstacle is a good place to have a rest, take a look at the view and figure out whether what we’re doing is worthwhile and if it makes us happy and fulfilled.

Being in the position to evaluate the value of what we do and change direction if we need to, is an immense privilege in life that many people, especially those born into economic disadvantage, don’t have. Therefore if we have it, I believe it’s imperative that we appreciate this privilege and make use of it. We should aim to do something with our lives that gives meaning and worth to our short time here.

So in the last week or two I have stood still at the obstacle. I have looked up from the path and out at the view. And I have come to an important realisation. My law degree doesn’t hold the meaning for me that it used to. In fact it is making me desperately unhappy. Law is an incredibly important and worthwhile vocation and power to those who do great things with their law degree. I wouldn’t take back what my law degree has taught me. But legal practice is not the direction I want to move towards anymore.

Writing makes me happy. Writing is what I want to do. I will endeavour to complete my law degree. However I am no longer in a rush. I am no longer worried about getting the highest marks and aiming for first class honours. I am no longer worried about legal internships, clerkships and standing out from the throng. So I will do what makes me happy, I will slow down and I will live my life in the present.

Does any of this resonate with you?