Now I know that I am luckier than a lot of people, in that I have the freedom to work only when my finances dictate. And given that I have no dependents and, when I do work I am paid well, they don't dictate as often as they might. I am fully aware that we are living in desperate times and a lot of people are suffering dire financial hardship after losing their jobs, whilst yet more can't even get onto the first rung of training for a job. It seems to me then that it's even more imperative that I don't squander my choices, when I am so fortunate to have them.
When I was fifteen, my friend and I in the spirit of being punks, although in reality we were more wannabes than the real deal, allowed her brother to tattoo our arms. Like all things punk, it was a bit of a botch job and we both ended up with a permanent reminder of her crazy brother, who last I heard was either in the army or prison, nobody ever seemed all that sure on which one.
The tattoo was irrelevant, a few years later I had it covered up by a very nice tattoo artist in LA who, whilst horrified at his predecessor's handiwork, applauded the sentiment behind it. You see, at fifteen years old, my friend and I had no idea what we wanted to do with our lives but we knew exactly what we didn't want. Looking around at the lives of our mothers and other female role models, the worst thing our simple adolescent brains could come up with was ending up as bank manager's wives and so we tattooed our arms, in a sort of ritualistic promise that we would always be true to ourselves and not settle for less than we hoped for.
Fast track a few years and I found myself in a twenty year career, as conventional as any other but, all the while, I felt like a stranger in a strange land and could never quite shake off the feeling that I was wasting my life. It took seeing someone die, someone who desperately wanted to live and still had so much that they wanted to do, for me to realise that I couldn't afford to waste another day.
And so I walked away and have spent the last few years drifting through life but happy doing so. However, with the recession nipping at my heels, I began to feel increasingly nervous, thinking small and wanting to play it safe. I wondered if maybe I was being foolish, leaving so much to chance, when all around me so many people are desperate to find jobs. I was all set to knuckle down and take a permanent contract when fate stepped in and slapped me in the face.
You see my week from hell made me see sense. The world may be a precarious place at the moment but that doesn't mean that my life has to be defined by that uncertainty. I don't know what the future holds and maybe in a years time I will be financially destitute, moaning about having to sell my house and move into my mum's back bedroom. All the that I do know for sure is that my choices aren't going to be determined by a fear of the unknown or even economic ruin.