‘The Biggest Mistake’ I Will Never Regret.
It only takes saying ‘yes’ to what you really want once, for the rest of your life to fall into place.
A little story…
Have you ever used Hinge? If so, you will remember their clever prompts, designed to elicit insightful answers from the users and in so doing, ‘spice up’ their bios.
One of these prompts has stuck in my mind and become something I try to return to, whenever I feel lost or stuck.
‘I know I’ve made it in life when…’
The answer to this question is likely to change depending on our life circumstances, shifting priorities, and values. But I bet there are one or two things that will remain stable over time.
For me it’s always been — ‘I know I’ve made it in life when… I’ve got a dog’.
Getting a dog should be easy enough, but in my mind it tied with having a spacious house with a garden, being in a long-term relationship, and settling down in one place for long enough to provide a stable environment for the dog.
I, on the other hand, lived in a one-bedroom flat in London, had just split up with someone, and was dying to leave the UK and throw myself into a year-long chain of travels.
There was no way I was in a good place to get a dog.
But then when the pandemic hit us this time last year and I got flooded with an undeniable feeling of impending doom, I decided to just ‘go for it’ and get a dog.
If I was going to go down, at least I would do so with a loving four-legged companion by my side.
When I told my parents that I’d decided to get a dog — and not just any dog, but my most beloved breed, Australian Shepherd — they didn’t take it seriously. At the end of the day, I swore to do it many times before (every two years or so, to be precise…), but never actually did it. Plus, who gets a working dog when living in a one-bedroom flat in Central London?
I’ll tell you, who. Someone who’s decided to finally do her part in manifesting a life she’s always dreamed of, irrespective of whether the world would deem it ‘wise’ or ‘rational’.
My family and the majority of my friends, including my newly-baked boyfriend, tried to politely suggest that perhaps I should wait. That getting a dog at this stage of my life would make it infinitely more difficult. That I didn’t really know what I was signing myself up for.
And they were completely right. I had absolutely no idea what I was signing myself up for.
Waking up every day for the next 15 years at 6 am on the dot (this is how punctual my dog is); finding poo bags in the pockets of literally every jacket I own; saying goodbye to clean floors and spotless walls; doubling the cost of any holiday that I take, with or without my dog; having to hold her screaming at every Vet’s appointment; potentially losing some friends who aren’t that keen on having a Velcro dog following them wherever they go…. the list goes on.
And yet, I wouldn’t change it one bit.
Yes, there were moments when I thought I’d made a mistake. When I cried my eyes out, as my dog splashed mud all over my bathroom walls, realising that it was me who willed it on myself. When I felt so lonely, as I knew I didn’t have the right to complain or ask for help.
At the end of the day, they did warn me it would be the biggest mistake of my life.
But even if it is the biggest mistake of my life, I will never, ever regret it. Every day I get to wake up in the morning to a creature that is happy to see me just because we can spend another day together.
I get to see her, running free in the park each morning, reminding me of an urge for freedom that my comfortable 9–5 big city life conveniently silenced over the years.
And more importantly, she showed me that I am able to handle the effort and committment that pursuing one’s dreams inevitably takes.
And that has spilled over into all areas of my life.
The bigger lesson…
But of course we’re not here to talk about my dog.
We’re here to ponder a much bigger question — that of individuality, authenticity and courage of self-expression.
How many of us day-dream about a life that seems so different from the life we’re currently living? How many of us deep inside feel sorry that quite likely we’ll get to the end of our lives, never really finding out what we’re truly capable of?
My guess is that many visit these thoughts from time to time.
The problem is that more often than not, it ends with a thought.
If only I could quit my job and be my own boss.
If only I could move somewhere sunny and warm.
If only I could do this degree I’ve always dreamt of.
If only I could do do x, y, z for a living.
If only I could prioritise my health and feel fresh every day.
If only I could have a good night sleep.
If only I could get a dog.
We go about our daily lives, conditioned by somebody else’s opinion of what’s possible or worth pursuing.
Most of the time we’re so preoccupied with everything we have to do to uphold these standards, that we forget to stop and question whether the life we’re living really is the best it can be. Not in accordance with generic indicators of success, but the best for us.
The energy we create when following a standardised path prescribed by society and/or those who more or less directly raised us (including the media), can never attract what our soul truly wants.
But I believe that the Universe is a clever and benevolent creation. It doesn’t want us to feel stuck or unable to express who we really are.
And so, once in a while, it will present us with a stimulus that will make us question everything. A painful break-up, hardships at work, a deep conversation, or a global pandemic; that stimulus is your window of opportunity. To either carry on living as you’ve always lived or take a path less travelled by.
Sadly, we often silence that voice inside and just carry on, on the unsatisfactory but at least well-known trajectory.
But if you dare to take a plunge and go toward something that could indeed turn out to be your biggest mistake, but that your soul has been calling you toward for a long while…
Well, that’s where the magic lies. And at the very least, it will make a damn good dinner story.
When things fall into place.
As mesmerising and wonderful as this world can be, it is often a very chaotic and unloving place. There are rare moments, I believe, when we feel that things are in their appropriate place. Most of time, something is missing or we feel we’re not quite where we were meant to be.
Most of the time, we just wish that things fell into place.
But have you ever wondered what the process of ‘things falling into place’ actually feels like?
You might think that it’s pure bliss and peace, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
Things ‘falling into place’ is a messy, painful process. Often, it requires a few brutal realisations, difficult choices, a lot of willpower, perseverance, and committment in turning things upside down, for ‘things to fall into place’.
But once you make that one choice, to go against the grain and take the path less travelled by… there’s no way back.
It might take you a few days, weeks, months or even years, but once you beging to see, you cannot un-see.
You can silence the discomfort of the status quo for some time, but at some point it will become too loud to ignore.
That is when things will begin to fall into place, even if it will be the most unpleasant, uncomfortable process you will ever go through
I haven’t got there yet, but I believe that what awaits, is far greater peace, authenticity, and comfort with the prospect of one day looking back at your life and being proud of how you lived it.
And it starts with just one decision, often as mundane as ‘getting a dog’.
The big question is — are you ready for the storm to begin?