Actually, it’s just one thing.
It’s OK to change your mind.
There’s something in those unquestionable lessons of life that seem to say know your self, decide who you are and – most importantly – stick with it. Like, choosing your career before you are old enough to drive, or whether or not you’re homosexual before you know what it’s like to negotiate whose turn it is to put the bins out, week after week. The older I get, the better I see that this is clearly nonsense. When it comes down to it, there are few hard-and-fast facts about ourselves that won’t ever change.
Take crisps, for example. I like a crisp and can hazily remember the life-transforming moment around 45 years ago when I discovered that salt ‘n’ shake is not the only flavour. I’m an adventurous eater. It felt like a one-way trip – destination taste sensation – until now, that is. The humble ready salted (why ‘ready’, do you think?) is now my snack of choice – salty, crunchy and utterly perfect, while I can’t be doing with those flurescent-flavoured, e-numbered bags of god-knows-what.
It was while pondering the crinkle-cut volte-face that I found myself looking for a shoe horn. The blasted thing had moved (unaccountably as these things always are). I have one nearby in all the places I habitually put my shoes on. Or, at least, I do these days. A couple of years ago I was still in the ‘what’s the point of a shoe horn?’ era. I’m a no-dressing-aids-required kind of person. And now I’m not however, I can’t explain why my menopausal heels require the assistance of a piece of plastic to get into my shoes. What additional hormone-cursed misery can there be? And another fundamental shift in the understanding of Who I Am.
So far, so trivial. But what about the big things we decided about ourselves: The ones where we decided to love unconditionally: to mother without tiring, to take our sharp elbows to the workplace, and to maintain our Standards throughout? Yeah, them…
Especially when we came to those conclusions way back. Back before we learned what exhausted really feels like, when we still believed ‘having it all’ was a good thing, and when we thought the playing field was merely bumpy rather than tilted so steeply as to need an ‘engage low gear now’ sign.
I used to be the kind of person who finds a snappy and uplifting conclusion to all this introspection, but, interestingly, that’s changed too. Pass the crisps and I’ll let you know when I make up my mind…