It’s time to get serious. Today I want to talk about risk. That’s what this whole project is about really. Yes, this blogathon is about trivial risks like experimenting with fashion and rediscovering style but it’s also about bigger risks, the kind we take to make our lives better, bolder, richer.
When I was younger, I took risks as a matter of course. We probably all did. Because, like all young people, I was pretty ignorant of all consequence. Let’s not mince words: I was a raging idiot. There I was, rampaging around spouting half-formed, half-baked and half-hearted ideas about anything and everything. Things I had absolutely no authority on, no experience of and no understanding about. But that’s the privilege of youth, right?
But back to the risks. I’m not talking about the adrenaline-junkie kind – don’t be silly! You wouldn’t catch me anywhere near a bungee rope (unless that’s what they use in Spanx…then I’m all over it) but I was pretty game for risks of the life-changing kind. Moving across the country to go to university at 18, moving to Malta on a whim at 22, emailing editors and asking: “Hey, I’m dead good at writing…give us a go!” (and, unbelievably, they did!)
Don’t get me wrong, I loved teaching – I practically came out of the womb an English teacher – but I was starting to get disillusioned. And even admitting that is a risk. I need to go back to teaching on supply, and I promise I’ll be ‘dead good’ at that too, Mr. Gove – honest, but teaching is a vocation and admitting you no longer feel called is akin to a nun giving up orders. Everyone knows that puts me on Gove’s hit-list. The trouble is, dear Mr. Gove, it’s hard to slog your guts out when you feel vilified at every turn.
Another tangent. I’m good at those! Let’s get back to the beaten path. When I took all those risks as a youngster, I was scared. But I was bolshie. It didn’t matter if I fell; I’d jump anyway…and a couple of bruises were proof I was alive. Then, somewhere along the line, I found a safety mat. I became well-schooled in consequence and, just like a frightened teacher with a risk-assessment, I suddenly understood the leap I was taking. No conkers on this playground anymore. When you’re making good money, you’ve got a lovely house (and lovely mortgage), you don’t make such huge decisions on a whim. And, besides, they’re no longer just your decisions to make.
But I would often wonder (and habitually complain to my husband) about what might have been if I’d just gone into freelance writing back then when the momentum was with me. Like most people who hanker after a long-gone dream, I’d complain but I’d do absolutely nothing about it.
Then, two years ago, and thinking of starting a family, I just knew – if I didn’t jump ship and try to write now, I never would. That’s when I went back to university and found my inner bolshie-vik (?) again, retraining as a journalist. I did it for me. But I also did it for the example I want to set. I used to tell my students at school that confidence was nothing but a trick – you just pretend you have it and, after a while, it gets to be a habit. That’s what I want my daughter to see: a woman who’s not afraid to try (even when she is terrified tro try).
So, that’s how we got where we are today. And that’s why I’m finally donning my one pair of Boden jeans, muffin-topped and all. I will not be afraid to fail at my career…or at wearing denim!
I’ve discovered that, if I tuck in my shirt all haphazardly, the muffin doesn’t seem quite so well-baked! And a good blazer always hides a multitude of sins, I find.