We’ve had friends staying the last few days. Very good friends who have visited us on Rum many times and we have spent time with them too. This is the third ‘home’ they have come to visit us in – a static caravan off grid on a remote island, a quirky rented house in Eire and this rented house here in mainland Scotland.
Our lives are very, very different to each other in many ways. We are both happy families of four still living with two parents and two teens, similar in age with a cat and a dog. We share plenty of common interests but the list of ways in which we are startlingly un-alike would cover many more pages than they ways in which we are the same.
It is our little family which is the unusual one – our children have never been to school, none of us work full time or even have any one particular job title, our hobbies and interests tend to be on the quirky side. Our most recent move from Rum to here marked one more move in a list of several changes in address, all of which have been remarkable in their own way.
The conversations my friend and I have shared over the many years we have been close often follow a similar path with her wanting my take on something to better understand how our approaches can be so very different, on how the things which would keep her awake at night worrying about are either of no consequence to me, or are actually motivation for doing something in the first place – risky? unknown? probably a bad idea? untested? just so very different to how everyone else is doing things?
For my 40th birthday Ady bought me a bag with the slogan ‘ignoring advice since 1974’ – I posted about it at the time remarking that most of the best choices I have made in my life so far have been as a result of ignoring advice. Settling down very young, moving away from family and friends with a very small baby, not sending children to school, jacking in jobs and heading off around the country in a small campervan, moving to a remote island, dragging a caravan up a muddy hill…. all of my favourite memories, happiest times, things that make me smile, decisions I am most proud of have come from doing things differently to how most people do them.
During this particular visit we were talking about the various jobs we have found here, the new life we have built for ourselves since arriving in March when we had a house rented but no jobs and no friends yet. At least half of the various things the four of us are finding ourselves doing did not even exist as jobs before we got here, some of them were not advertised.
In my 20s I must have applied for 100 jobs. I must have attended 25 interviews, I had 10 different jobs. In my 30s and 40s I have come to realise that what I was doing wrong was applying for jobs that already existed and trying to make myself fit them. Where I am succeeding now (and by succeeding I mean paying rent, finding things to do that I find rewarding, worthwhile, enjoyable and fit around the other things in my life that I want to do, both in terms of actual hours I have to work, when those hours are, the rate of pay, the flexibility, the people I am working with and how well I am actually doing them) is by seeking what suits me rather than attempting to change myself to match a job spec.
Parenting taught me a lot of those skills, home educating taught me even more. WWOOFing topped them up massively, life on Rum honed them, moving here is fine tuning them. I fully anticipate plenty more twists and turns in my future to continue shaping them, adding to them, growing them.
Starting over is exciting. New things to learn, new ways to present yourself, new opportunities to find where your strengths and previous experiences may be useful and what you need to learn and develop that you didn’t already possess. Starting over means new people to get to know, new rules to understand. I love the constants in my life, they are what enables me to feel secure enough to thrive on a big dose of changes. Working out what should be the constants and what can be let go in favour of a shake up has definitely been key in all the startings over we have done so far.