2017 is about to draw its final breath. 2017, of course, was unlucky enough to have to follow 2016 – which was an unbelievably sh*tty year, I think we can all agree. Everything went wrong in that year: Deaths on both a personal and celebrity level, terrible political decisions, too many kitchen appliances needing replacement…well, it was just the worst. And 2017 had no option but to be a year of reflection, a year of mending, a year of licking one’s wounds. But because of that, for me at least, I feel it was kind of a stagnant year (apart from going blonde, that was a bit of a departure for me). But then, my life has been kind of stagnant for a while… You know what? I think there’s something about being a parent; it makes you play it safe. Or at least, it really should. Those who carry on with their youthful, hedonistic, risk-taking lifestyle after childbirth are not doing a terribly good job. Having kids is partly about self-preservation; in that it isn’t all about you anymore, but you still must take better care of yourself. For one, you can’t take risks with your life or your health (your children need you), and secondly, you must live in a financially stable way (your children need to eat). And that’s all good, that’s the way it should be. Preserving yourself preserves them.
The trouble is, after a while, those children stop needing you quite so much, and you have gotten too used to playing it safe. And you can’t remember what it’s like to take a few risks – live on the edge a bit – because it’s been so long since you did. And that’s what I’ve been thinking about with 2018 looming just around the corner. My life has become a little too tame; a little too sedate. That’s fine and all, because I really rather like it that way. But the problem with a staid life is that you can get stuck in a rut, nothing amazing ever happens because you never take a chance on anything.
I have become rather too adapt at living a quiet life. I go to work, I come home from work, I cook a meal, we eat the meal, we have baths, we watch something on Netflix, we go to bed. We get up the next day and we do the same thing all over again. And that was the way I liked it. I’ve been largely very happy in life’s mundanity (stop underlining this word, WordPress, it’s in the bloody dictionary!) . So much so that whenever something comes along to break up the monotony (not that it’s really monotonous if you aren’t bored – and I’m not), I get anxious about it. I enjoy going out with friends – I really do – but the thought of it always makes me anxious. I know I’ll enjoy myself when I get there, but I worry about it. I worry I won’t have anything interesting to say, I worry I won’t be on form – or I won’t be funny enough (perish the thought!). That’s what living a safe life can do. You get scared about doing anything remotely new, or being someplace you don’t know like the back of your hand.
So, I have already made a start on spicing up 2018. As you know, I’ve joined a theatre group – and once I’ve got my head around that new facet of my life (which I haven’t, I moan about my hectic rehearsal schedule all the time), I aim to throw in a few more activities that are completely alien to my world. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not entirely thrilled with all these current and potential amendments. You see, I haven’t changed; I’m still the same person who truly enjoys living a quiet life. Living outside my comfort zone is…well…uncomfortable. I’ve never really enjoyed learning new things or meeting new people. I take an incredibly long time to grow accepting of new beings and new environments. I prefer my old friends and my own familiar surroundings. But I just feel that 2018 needs to be a year of pushing myself, even if it means pushing myself into places I don’t really want to be. Because if nothing changes, perhaps I’m not growing (apart from in size, I’ve eaten thirty times my body-weight in food on a daily basis this Christmas).
Of course, everybody needs something a little different to break up the day-to-day routine, and I suppose writing books was my difference; my escape. Not that I wanted to escape, as such. I did and still do like my calm little reality. But writing books was a way of living a different life through somebody else’s eyes. A life you can walk away from whenever you want to just by snapping shut the laptop. However, I haven’t written anything new (other than this blog) since the summer of 2017. I haven’t wanted to. I see other writers finish one book, and instantly start on a new and completely different one. And I think, wow, how were you inspired to create something else so quickly? I just want to eat cake and drink coffee. But I’d like to think that writing a new novel/play/screenplay in 2018 is on the cards. Currently, I am still not inspired to make a start, but maybe that’s because my life has become so safe that there aren’t any new experiences to write about or weave into a story. Maybe my quiet life is the cause of the (dare I say it) block. Which is a shame, because my quiet life is super secure and comfortable – and I enjoy it.
Like I said, changes in daily activities will invariably bring changes in people. But this year, I’d also like to make the most of the people who already exist in my life too. I am truly terrible when it comes to taking friends and family for granted. I, who should know better. I, who have had to learn the hard way that the people you care about won’t always be around. And yet there are still people I don’t see year-in, year-out, and I can only put that down to my debilitating apathy. Yes, that’s what it is – apathy. And another thing, my husband and I need to go out on the town by ourselves more. We have a babysitter on hand at all times (my seventeen-and-a-half-year-old), but we hardly ever ask her because we’re too lazy. And she’ll be at Uni by the end of next year, so time is running out on that score. Look, all I’m saying is I’m forty-six; I’m over halfway through my life. By now, I ought to have started doing some of the things on my bucket list. I don’t even have a bucket list! Why don’t I have a bucket list…?
To you, none of this may be classed as ‘living dangerously’. But for me, well, I’ve been playing it safe for far too long, and any change is a big deal. I’m not about to start riding a motorbike or take up base-jumping or eating cooked rice that’s two days old or anything. I enjoy being alive and I’m still a parent, and I think some risks just invite trouble. Let’s be clear, I haven’t altered my personality, and I don’t plan to. I’m still a bit boring and I make no apologies for it. I’m still going to relish those cosy nights sitting comatosed (did you know comatosed is only a word in the urban dictionary? Me either) on the sofa – we all need some downtime. But they say that change is as good as a rest (I can’t see how, rest is bloody awesome!), so maybe it’s time to start changing – living. Even if that means I’m not really enjoying myself, at least not at first anyway. Oh well, here goes. So, lastly and not leastly (not a real word), Happy New Year blog-friends. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear. Well, maybe some fear, or we’d still be stuck in our comfort zones, wouldn’t we?