A year and a half ago I was moving in with my then-boyfriend and planning a life of 7am wake-ups, a career in journalism, bills, food shopping, only drinking on the weekend, and hopefully one day marriage and children and a mortgage. I was 20-years-old, scared, excited and a bit concerned that the half of my brain shouting: “you should be spending your 20s single, living and working in London and having a generally excellent time in hipster bars and in front of the TV with an entire M&S tray-bake to yourself” was going to ruin the life plan I’d quite hastily decided on.
It did ruin it. I left that plan, that relationship, and eventually that career. I now find myself, still only 21-years-old, single, working in London, and having so much fun I barely even notice the loneliness that settles beneath the surface.
I’ve been doing a lot of analysing recently. Trying to work out what I could or should have done differently. I look back at that time a year and a half ago and wonder whether, if I’d carried on down that path, I’d be a lot happier than I am now. I wouldn’t have had the two relationships I’ve had since. The first of which I can’t remember why I got into and can only conclude was the often-clichéd but ever-real “rebound” relationship. And the second was the one that tore me apart, thoroughly and very effectively, and left me utterly disappointed in humanity, trust and companionship. To be honest, that’s putting it lightly.
If I’d carried on down the path that was so safely mapped out for me, none of that would have happened. But would I be happy? I don’t think so. I’m unhappy now, yes, thanks to some unfortunate circumstances and hurts, but changing my decision (if that were even possible) would result in unhappiness for a different reason, rather than a lack of unhappiness.
So here’s the ground-breaking life advice that I’ve settled upon: don’t look back in regret, only look forward. We make decisions, people disappoint us, we disappoint ourselves, we have successes, we stay out all night drinking rum and dancing to music we hate, we feel lonely, life happens. And that brings me to something of a full circle. After leaving a relationship and an idea of life that I wasn’t ready for, I went through some shit in my attempts to find that fit, that ideal, that match, and you know what I’ve realised? There’s no such thing as “ideal”, and there’s barely such a thing as a right decision (within reason, of course – murder would be a very wrong decision). When we make a decision, hopefully, although by no means usually, we think about whether said decision will be beneficial, and then we choose. Whatever happens next, we cope, we learn and we move on.
I did make the right choice. I’m going to find a way of being happy in and by myself and I’m going to live that 20-something life that I always dreamed about – eating burgers out of paper at 3am and having openly embarrassing breakdowns with my friends when we miss our ex-boyfriends. I am certainly no closer to finding out who I am or what I want or what on earth I should be doing, but we’re all a work in progress after all, and one can only try.