As I tipped over into my thirties I began to wonder where I was going wrong in life. I hadn’t had the confidence or drive to really pursue a career in journalism and had drifted into a vaguely publishing-related office job instead (albeit with the wonderful addition of getting to edit The Book Monster for a couple of years). I was recently divorced after making the mistake of marrying an alcoholic. I was rapidly approaching the ovary-shrivelling ‘geriatric’ stage of fertility and living out a rebound relationship which never really had any chance of making it in the long term.
I’ve made some compromises and had to search for love the hard way (internet dating anyone?) to get to where I am now. And whilst I am very happy and feel very lucky to have two beautiful, healthy children in my life, sometimes I look at the lives of others – people who have set up successful businesses, known what their true vocation was from the word go (and how to make it the centre of everything they do), met and married their first love and had children at the ‘right’ age, created their own dream home (something I don’t even have the energy to aspire to), even people now who have set up a blog with such professionalism and knowledge of what they want out of it – that I’m stunned at what a failure my life looks in comparison. And I wonder if, over the years, I’ve made mistakes – taken the wrong fork in the road, given in to self-doubt, settled for less than I was worth.
But then I realise that my biggest mistake – the one I’m constantly in danger of making time and again with the help of all the many and varied social media platforms – is comparison itself. As the saying goes, into every life some rain must fall, no-one gets away with a life of ups (and by the way Cheryl Cole, being ‘on a rollercoaster, but it’s only going up’ is, in my humble opinion, a bit of an oxymoron, sorry love). The trick of it is to celebrate the ups and, for me, to realise that life is a learning experience and I’m still only half way through.
Perhaps being happy in the present moment is enough to cancel out any number of dodgy past life decisions, because I truly believe that everything we do in life is simply a quest for happiness, whether or not we’re aware of it and no matter how subtly we identify that feeling.