Monday 2 January 2017

Grand Ambitions

I don't do New Year's Resolutions. My life hasn't changed overnight since the clock ticked over, and I don't have any regrets for which I want to redeem myself with the new year.

However, it's three months since I returned to Australia, and lately I've felt myself overcome with a dreadful feeling of inertia - that I'm moving with the passing of time, but nothing's really changing. Of course, I've spent most of my energy settling into new jobs, and sorting out my domestic arrangements. However, now that I have moved all my things to Sydney, and have a place to live for the foreseeable future, it's time for me to get my shit together.

So, these are not new years resolutions, so much as grand ambitions for getting my life back on track. I turn 40 years old next year, so it seems an arbitrary a deadline as any to achieve the following:

Make new friends and form closer connections. This is probably the most vital part of settling into a new place, but I find it the most difficult. I feel like making friends used to be simple - especially during my uni years. You either made friends in class, or at uni, then you hung out more often, and suddenly you have an interconnected social web of friends. And being an expat in another country, friendships were easier because most people were in the same boat - isolated foreigners who needed to connect to maintain their sanity. These days, it feels more complex. You might make friends at a choir or swing dancing classes, but you’d rarely see them outside those activities. Many people my age are coupled-off and starting young families, which takes up the bulk of their time. Somebody recently said to me that there needs to be a support group for single people in their late 30s, and maybe that’s true. I also realise that, in recent years, I’ve become a fiercely independent person, and I need to learn to let people into my life, and allow closer friendships to form. I’m not entirely sure what else the solution is, other than try to take every opportunity that I can to go out and meet new people - something I find hugely exhausting after a while.

Establish job security with a permanent job. I am extremely lucky to have two awesome jobs, which take up quite a bit of my time, but is worth every minute. The trade-off is that they are on renewable short-term contracts, which means that there is always the risk that I will be unemployed in a matter of months. I do not regret this at all - I’d much rather be in a contract that progresses my career than be in a permanent job on a dead-end career path. However, there’s no reason it needs to be an either/or situation… especially if I want to…

Buy property. I’m ready. I don’t care if it’s a tiny shoebox of a studio apartment, as long as it’s in a good location, and it’s mine. I haven’t wanted this in the past, but something that’s shifted in my mind these past couple of years, and just really want a place to call my own, that I can decorate with my own furniture and books and stuff. It doesn’t have to be much, as long as it’s home.

Keep travelling. Even if it’s just one big trip a year, I want to keep seeing new places. The IFLA conference is in Wroclaw this August, so that’s what I’ll be aiming for, with a few more weeks scheduled to explore the parts of Eastern Europe that I didn’t make it to when I lived in Kosovo.

Write a new show. In some ways this is the easiest of my grand ambitions, as I only have to rely on myself to get this done. I have a basic premise, I just need to give myself time.

And that’s the real clincher, when it comes to my grand ambitions - time. At the moment, I’m working 39 hours and travelling 16 hours a week. The time I have available for socialising - or doing anything outside of work, really - feels quite limited. Ultimately, I need to exercise more discipline in the ways that I use my time. Develop better sleep patterns so that I can get up earlier, use the time I have better, and have the energy to be awake when I need to be. Spend less time on social media and prioritise my pop culture consumption to the bare essentials (i.e. enough to remain socially engaged and informed!).

It feels like life used to be so much easier… but it’s probably just that I didn’t worry about these things as much as I should have. Now I have to play catch-up before my mid-life crisis sets in!

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