“A Person of Extremes”

I suffer with anxiety and for most of my life, I have been an obsessive planner.  Someone once described me as being a “person of extremes”, which has stuck with me, and lately I’ve been noticing this about myself a lot.  Once I get an idea in my head, I obsess about it until it becomes a reality, at least for a short while, until I begin to obsess about the next thing and the thing after that.

To give an example, over the past few months I have been trying to find a hobby.  However, it seems to be quite difficult for me to have a hobby of any kind without turning into some kind of future career prospect!

I used to love art, which I gave up when I left school.  I didn’t give up for any real reason, other than I got a job, then went to college, so didn’t have much time to do it anymore. Anyway I began to obsess about painting and sketching, and for a while, I began to do it again, after I’d spent a small fortune buying all my materials and equipment.  And for a short while I was REALLY happy.  I even began to think about a career change, and began to look into art courses, so that I could become a designer and then perhaps in future move into design professionally.  I got as far as looking at an Open University prospectus and looking into finance options for beginning a part time course, when, for lack of a better phrase, the novelty wore off and I began to think about the next fad to take over my life.  All that remains from that dream is one (badly) painted canvas hanging in my living room, a half filled sketchbook and my made up company name: The Topsy Turvy Design Company.

Another example would be the time I decided to up-cycle run down furniture from charity shops and car boot sales into desirable items.  I did hours of research on Pinterest and other sites for tips on how to chalk paint and distress furniture.  I read design blogs and magazines, visited DIY shops to get wall paper samples and buy paints.  I bought my first item, came up with several designs and got stuck in. I sanded (until my hands were raw), primed, painted, and used wallpaper to spruce it up.  I never finished it.  I didn’t have any varnish or polish to finish it off – I was going to get some at the weekend but never got round to it.  Still, it looks great from the front… just don’t look too closely as I couldn’t be bothered to sand and paint the back.  I’m just glad I never bought that electric sander I watched on EBay for 2 days, otherwise it’d be sitting unopened under the stairs.  To think, if I’d stuck it out I could have been the proud owner of Victoria’s Custom Furniture Emporium!

You may think this makes for a depressing read, and clearly I hate my life.  But that simply isn’t true.  I have a wonderful fiancé, a beautiful home, and I work for a charity that is very close to my heart.  Yet sometimes I must admit I do feel a bit lost when thinking about my long term life goals.  I love my job, but charity work doesn’t offer long term job security. Also I have this notion that my life must be filled with purpose to matter.  I just haven’t figured out what that purpose should be just yet!

To name a few of purposes I thought my life should have, but have come to realise since that it probably wouldn’t work out:

  • Mother of 10 children (aged 4) – Even then I knew this one was ridiculous as I theorised several would have to sleep in the bath as I couldn’t cater for enough beds.
  • Author and illustrator (aged 6) – I could save money by illustrating my own books
  • Doctor (aged 7) – I figured this probably wouldn’t work aged 10 when I was extremely relieved I was chosen to become a prefect rather than a first aider at primary school!
  • Artist (aged 14-16) – I was sure art was what I wanted to do until I couldn’t do it at college.
  • Solicitor (throughout college and university) – I studied law at university and really enjoyed the subject. I was sure I would become a successful lawyer and work for a commercial firm once I graduated.

Post graduation I decided not to pursue my dream of becoming a solicitor.  A part of me was relieved, as I think deep down I knew that legal practice wouldn’t be the right fit for me.  Looking back I think that law became my obsession at College because art wasn’t available as an option anymore.  I enrolled intending to take art, then the course didn’t run.  I think I latched onto the next best thing, my law class.  That time of my life was not the happiest, there was a lot of turbulence.  I think I clung to the idea of getting out and moving onto better things, through being a lawyer – it would whisk me away to a brighter future. Yet when I finished my degree I was in a better place emotionally, so perhaps I didn’t really need it anymore; I had already achieved the brighter future I had been hoping for.

Being a person of extremes, focussing on one dream with such intensity, then realising I never really wanted it in the first place, has left me feeling confused about what to do with my future.  I’m not expecting I’ll find the solution any time soon – I’m just determined to enjoy finding my way to the right path.

My latest obsession: Writing a blog just for fun about my experiences.  I intend to beat the cycle and make sure that this is not just a short term craze, but something longer term.  I’m not sure what I’ll write about just yet, but I’ll start with my thoughts, feelings and observations and go from there… Enjoy!

I welcome your comments and observations.