As I was putting together my lovely new desk I got to a point where the thingy had to be put in the whatsit, but it really didn’t want to fit. So I just pushed it harder. And then, begrudgingly, it did eventually fit. But then I reliased that it wasn’t actually meant to go there, and I had to remove the thingy that I had managed to jam into the whatsit pretty firmly. Silly, Miss Best! Double silly Miss Best as this happened twice. It was only after the second time that I realised that I had accidentally skipped 2 pages of the instruction leaflet. Figuring this out made it much somewhat easier to get things into place as they should.
But while I sat there on the floor, surrounded by bits and bobs, and tools and packaging, I couldn’t help but compare my little flat-pack project to a bigger project called Life. It reminded me of a time in my life when I thought I wanted something. I had to struggle really hard to get it, and obviously when I did get it, it did not make me content as it wasn’t the life for the real, authentic me. And so I had to deconstruct my life, and start from scratch. That was during my twenties, and now I am 32 and finally feel that I am beginning to live the life I want and need, but I do feel like I have missed 2 pages in the instruction leaflet.
I was brought up with a slightly mainstream attitude to education, work and life, and it took me many years to figure out that mainstream life wasn’t for me. I know that part of life is the journey, but I do almost wish that I had been saved those non-authentic years so that I could have more joyful living behind me. Of course, I can console myself by saying that if we don’t have those painful times to compare with, we don’t appreciate the good times as much.
I am, however, hugely consoled and inspired by young people who can see that their lives lie along a less ordinary path and have the courage to follow it. I recall reading about a teenager who had been home educated and instead of sitting GCSEs (the exams that are sat in the UK around the age of 16) she chose to follow her joy and studied to become a massage therapist. So while her peers were stressing about exams, university, jobs, she already had the skills to earn money doing something she loved. Fabulous! And of course she is free to sit exams, and go to university should she change her mind. But she (and her parents) could see that there is not just one way and that we are all different.
So let’s not pass on our fear of being ‘different’ to the next generations. Let’s encourage them to develop themselves in the areas they really enjoy. Oh, and if any of them end up making instruction leaflets for IKEA, please ask them to design them so that the pages don’t stick together so easily!