“People always talk about being scared of change. Me? I’m more afraid of things staying the same.” So says Nick Cave in ‘Jesus of the Moon’. It’s a line that’s always had resonance for me, but never more so than this year.
It’s a funny thing, we can coast along for years, doing the same things, thinking that we’re making progress, but actually we’re not, and sometimes it can take something terrible to shock us out of this state.
This certainly has been the case for me.
A confirmed workaholic, I was always busily working towards the future — many years of long hours, long commutes and working into the night, often sacrificing time with family and friends, as work was ‘so important’ and simply couldn’t wait.
Life seemed good, though, and it was all going to be worth it in the end. My long-suffering partner would hear me talk of ‘jam tomorrow’ — hang in there, dude, honestly, it’s going to be good. Until earlier this year when my beloved younger sister died at just 40 years old.
There are no words.
In amongst all the horror and the roller-coaster of emotion came a sense that all of the pieces of my life had been tossed up into the air and, if they ever did land, would do so in a completely different place. And so I realised that I should take stock and really look at what I was doing.
It wasn’t a pretty picture. The more I looked at my life, the worse I felt. I was doing the work I thought I ‘should’ do and really couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I wasn’t happy, wasn’t doing what I loved. When I suddenly stopped what I was doing, I was shocked to find that it didn’t actually cause the world to end. In fact, it became clear that none of those things I’d thought so crucial really mattered that much.
And that there was only one person who could change this, and that was me.
One of the many gifts that my sister gave me was a determination to live life fully and not to put up with things if they’re not right, and so that’s exactly what I’m doing now. (She loved that Nick Cave line about change, too.) So, I borrowed some of her fearlessness to say, “Fuck it, I’ll make a life that I love right now”. But overwhelmed with grief as I was, and trying to re-adjust back into my old life, for a long time I didn’t know how to do make any changes. So I waited. And at some point I realised that the old status quo was never going to work for me. I had to be way more radical. I decided to walk away from it all and start again.
In any other circumstance this would have been terrifying, but this time it wasn’t – it just felt right. And incredibly liberating.For the first time in my life I had a completely uncharted road in front of me, and not only was I not frightened of it, but I actually relished it. I’m now working for myself. I’ve cut my hours. I spend way more time with my amazing partner — we’ve chosen to have ‘jam today’. Did I mention taking time to see family and friends? I’m loving it! It’s early days, yes, but I know I’m doing the right thing.
It’s still a roller coaster – I sometimes hear the bad voices telling me it’s all going to go wrong, but, deep down I believe it will all be good – because it’s up to me to make things good and I know I can change again if it’s not working out.
Oh, and I’ve changed my name too. Previously, I’d always used my proper first name for business (a sort of business persona) but was known by my middle name by friends and family. Now, my middle name is what I use for everything, and it feels good. Turns out that ‘business persona’ just wasn’t me. I’m even dressing differently, too — the way I really want to, just being me and not putting on a ‘corporate’ front. Goodbye Elizabeth; welcome back, Jane.
Scared of change? Not me. From something dreadful can come something good. So, if you don’t love what you do right now and you’re waiting for it all to get better in future: change it right now. Today. Don’t wait.
Get some jam today.
(There is one thing I can’t change, and I dearly wish I could… I wish she were here.)
Growing up in the dark and brooding streets of Edinburgh and graduating from the finest rock ‘n’ roll schools, Jane developed an unhealthy obsession for music and all things dark and brooding. And she reckons it’s time to turn on the bright lights. As a creative communications specialist, she works with people who want to find new ways to communicate and do things better. Technology plays a key part and can provide cool, interesting and more intuitive ways of communicating, but it’s what you really want to say that matters. Now living by the sea on the South coast of England, Jane is considered a menace to rock ‘n’ roll elders. She also makes a mean Old Fashioned. Find her here, here, and here.