What a girl wants.

Have you ever woken up one day and realised everything you’re doing is completely fucking wrong?

I’ve wanted to own my own house for about sixteen years now. It’s been a huge goal in my life – my entire being has been geared towards saving as much money as possible. I have minimal possessions because my rental unit is only my temporary home. My garden is non-existent, because one day I won’t be living here any more.

Yeah, good one idiot.

Three weeks ago I’d found the perfect house, in the right neighbourhood, within my price range. I had enough deposit. I went to the real estate agent, made a reasonable offer…then went home and had a complete breakdown. I was panicked. I was terrified. I knew I’d made a mistake. Thankfully, the vendor turned down the offer, and it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

Sometimes we’re so blinded by what we think we want, we never take the time to reframe and assess what our inner being is really screaming out for. As soon as I smacked down that $500 to secure my offer, the fog lifted. If I bought this house, I was tied down to my job indefinitely. Β 

So on Monday, I handed in my resignation for a position I’ve held for nearly a decade.

And it felt a damn sight better than bidding on my dream house, I can tell you.

I’m not anxious about finding another job. I have four months of annual leave and long service leave up my sleeve, because I never use up my holidays. I live in the second biggest city in Australia. I have a skill set that every single business in the country needs. I haven’t seen my parents for any significant period since I was eighteen years old. I’m taking a goddamn break.

So now I find myself in a situation both dubious and emancipating. I have a clean slate. I can do almost anything from here on out. The question is, what? I’ve lost my biggest life goal – well, not lost per se, it’s just been reallocated. I have to reassess everything, and have no idea where to start.

I figure if my goal posts are missing, the best thing to do is assign arbitrary ones and start working towards them. Training of some sort? An apprenticeship? A degree? Prostitution? Illegitimate baby? Spiritual enlightenment?

I made a list of all the things that interest me, hoping the magic answer would leap out at me. It didn’t. This is the list:

  • Plants
  • Alternative therapies
  • Nutrition
  • Counselling
  • Helping people
  • Cars
  • Wine
  • Feng shui
  • Farming
  • Josh Holloway
  • Green, eco, sustainability stuff
  • Writing

So tell me…What are you all doing out there? How did you get into it? Are you happy? WHAT THE HELL IS EVERYONE DOING WITH THEIR LIVES AND HOW DID I TURN THIRTY WITHOUT REALISING WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MINE?!?




38 thoughts on “What a girl wants.

  1. I know someone who is making a fortune selling broms at markets…
    But seriously, maybe worth considering something similar. Buy cheap stuff from China and flog it at markets. There’s plenty on ebay.

    • I’m not sure I’m much of a market girl…I used to do it at one point in my life, under the tutelage of a nice old couple. On a completely unrelated note, I do know someone upon whose death I would receive a nice tract of land in FNQ. Hmm.

  2. I so hope I can keep this short, Inga. Forgive me if I can’t. I struggled with exactly the same thing and ended up with huge regrets. The key point is that most people regret not what they did but rather stuff they did *not* do. So go out there and try things.

    A great book for this stuff is Finding your Own North Star. It’s kind of hoakey but Beck is a scarily smart life coach. She’s the reason I discovered my love for Biology. Also keep a journal, seriously. At some point I was a vet tech and wanted to move on to either be a veterinarian or a biologist. So I made one of those pros and cons lists. I read it over and over, it didn’t help. Finally like the 10th time I looked at it, I noticed something. In the Veterinarian column, under pros, the very first thing I wrote: Money. It sounded so shallow. That was one of the turning points (that and an inpsirational teacher – so take classes).

    I started out studying classical music theory in school. I know it sounds weird, but I don’t like music. I really don’t. I was miserable yet when I was asked I would have sworn on a thousand bibles that music was my life, my passion. I hated it. Finally like a frigging decade later I realized this. I knew I was some kind of artist, just not sure what.

    Beck points out that whatever your true passion is, it will give you clues all the time, all day long. Painting is not my true passion but I love it, and I noticed that when I was supposed to be practicing music, I’d procrastinate by obsessively sketching. I also loved a photo of me at 4 years old painting at my easel.

    In the recent past I found myself watching hip hop videos. I was mesmerized. I figured it was me being immature somehow. Whenever my boyfriend were at an event (food fair, etc) if there was dancing, I’d force my boyfriend to drop everything and I’d drag him over there. Why the hell didn’t I realize I loved dance?

    I also attended theatre school one summer and loved it. I watch movies over and over. I’m just discovering my love for film even though it was there all along. Read the book; use those clues.

    In college my mom said, you ought to take a dance class. I watched some of the student dancers, tried some dancing at home and decided I was ambivilent = not interested. Nope, it was because I didn’t have the perfect body (actually I could have worked up to it) but I told myself I didn’t care, not admitting I thought I wasn’t good enough.

    So if your parents suggest something you do for fun, don’t ignore them. They know you. So do your friends. Ask them what they picture you doing. Most importantly, try things. And if you hate it, try it again somewhere else. Volunteering is the obvious choice but every place is different. And dive in. Don’t take baby steps. If you want to do this quickly, go out and have a blast trying that stuff on your list.

    *Sheesh, sorry for the sermon.

    And keep a journal!

    • Thanks for your thoughts Amelie, I really appreciate it! Lots to think about there.

      I looked up Beck’s blog – she seems like she has a sense of humour too, which is nice in a life coach. It’s an interesting idea that our true passion will keep cropping up even if we don’t immediately notice it – I’ll have to think about that one. I’m a gemini, we have a new passion every five minutes.

      Ooh I forgot astrology! I like me some astrology.

      Gosh, you have tried some stuff! You seem to have found your passion with civets – maybe you could do theatre remake of Cats, only using a different type of cat… πŸ˜‰ I don’t think you should have any regrets at all – if you make the best decision based on your knowledge at the time, what’s there to regret? We’re all here to learn and grow, no matter how convoluted the path. Of course some of us are more convolutey than others…

  3. I ended up working in a hospital laboratory. I wanted to be a veterinarian, too, but didn’t get in to vet school on my first try and quit trying. That was dumb, I could have gotten in if I had tried more than once. But, I searched for an alternate major and medical technology was there. It has turned out just perfect. I love the lab work, but probably wouldn’t have enjoyed working with sick or dying animals, or with the public for that matter. Although I may have learned to love it. I guess one doesn’t always know, and a lot of times people just have to make a living so they can’t always find their dream. But, just having the opportunity to try some things….you have confidence! I never had that when I was younger. You’ve got some freedom now and that’s fantastic!
    You did the Big Sister thing, and I see you have “helping people” and “counselling” on your list. I like Amelie’s idea of volunteering. You may find out some things that way.

    I also discovered that I was happy with my leave-at-work job, so I could come home and nurture my animals, then kids, and now animals again. It may sound trite but my favorite time was when my kids were here. That’s when I felt the most fulfilled.

    Oh, traveling! I did get in a LOT of traveling in my life. That has been very rewarding. France, England, Ireland, India, all over the Caribbean, all over the US. Going hiking in Oregon in a couple weeks with some girlfriends! I am so grateful that I have able to travel.

    Have fun! This will be quite an adventure!

    • Ah, see that’s why sometimes I’m envious of my friends with kids – it’s such a worthwhile and fulfilling project to focus on, for a guaranteed number of years. You don’t have to wonder about your purpose in life when there are teeny midget people whose lives depend on you. Then they turn into adults, and you get even more satisfaction because you made ACTUAL PEOPLE. That’s pretty cool. Having said that, Viggo Mortensen himself couldn’t convince me to have children. No desire at all to be a baby-mama.

      I think you’re right, you do learn to love what you’re doing – or at least enjoy it. I absolutely adored my job for several years, even though it’s just bookkeeping and paperwork.

      Adventure indeed…we’ll see what I have to say for myself in twelve months when I’m living out of a cardboard box!

      • So true, and when I see the things that he has to do and does without flinching, I am glad to be safe in my laboratory.
        Also, it tears him up to have to euthanize animals, but he does it. Well, anyone would…it’s part of the job, but it would still be difficult for me.

  4. So, I’m browsing and come across your blog, Firstly – hilarious! Not what you write about, just the way you write it. Sense of humour meld there! Now for the boring serious bit; when I was trying to move from renting to owner-occupying I did what you did – saw the place, had a complete fit then binned it. Tried again, saw a place, decided it was the one, put the offer in, did the haggling, secured the deal – no tears, no ‘phoning mother, nowt. Just had to put up with the lawyers forgetting who was paying their wages – but as I was buying from a scary Marine that didn’t take long to sort out! πŸ˜€ The point is, when you find the place that’s for you, you’ll instinctively know it – you won’t feel stressed, it’ll sing to you, the only aggro’ will be the sodding paperwork (and in the UK, there’s paperwork to say you’ve done the paperwork to say you’ve done the paperwork – it’s almost as bad as India!). Moving on to the job thing; ditto – I had a job in Controls and Automation where I was undervalued, under-appreciated and definitely taken for a massive arse-invading ride. Then they went bust because the MD was a w****r with ideas bigger than his business loan and more interest in fornicating with the company admin behind his wife’s back than paying attention to the business – a complete poseur. So we’re all binned and my Dad says, “Join me in hydrography – you can drive AutoCAD and AutoCAD is what we use for cartography.” Fourteen years on and I’m still bluffing my way through being a fully-fledged data processor/map-making genius as an agency punk on survey ships – not bad for an engineer! I work when I want, I don’t have to wear a suit and there’s no stress (well, apart from when I open my mailbox and there’s a brown envelope labelled “Taxman!”). Well, there is a bit but it’s mitigated because you look at the calendar and think, “In x days I walk down the gangway, get on a ‘plane home far away from this s**t and never have to think about it again.” Point being: go where your head takes you. Don’t be pigeon-holed, sell what you have to the highest bidder, be content and happy. Find your niche and exploit it. Since I got away from the nine-to-five cycle I’ve started living properly instead of being a slave to the grind. If you’ve got something someone wants then pimp it; get the highest bidder with the most favourable terms. Then ride it and enjoy existing. I’m living proof it can be done! πŸ™‚

    And what’s behind you is ALWAYS behind you – the past is a foreign country; things are different there.

    Move on, move up, live. And the breast of duck, wherever it takes you. πŸ™‚

    • Hi and welcome Simon, cheers for the compliment. It’s funny how house hunting is the best fun over, while the actual buying process is a complete nightmare. I know when the time comes to hand over my cash to a lawyer for the privilege of having some words read, I’m going to die a little inside.

      Thanks for your story. It sounds like you have the ability to sell yourself, and that’s a great skill to have…one I’ll have to work on I guess! I’ve never been pimping myself out. My theory has been if you can’t see how awesome I am, then I’m not going to tell you. Which is why I’ve been in the same damn job for a third of my life, I guess!

      I had to think about ‘breast of duck’ for a second! Thanks πŸ™‚

      • Yeah – pommie rhyming slang can be a bit weird if you’re not used to it. Actually, the house-hunting was a complete bind, too, but the internet saved going to see a whole raft of places that I’d have wished I hadn’t. Dunno about selling myself – I’ve just got a good agent! πŸ˜€

  5. If you figure it out, let me know. I’m 47 next month, and I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

    I have no ambitions or goals. What I like doing has nothing to do with work.

    And we were never really encouraged to have career ambitions anyway. We were girls. What do girls need with careers? πŸ˜›

    • “If you figure it out, let me know. I’m 47 next month, and I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up.”

      My mum keeps carping about when I catch up and enter my second childhood. I keep pointing out it’ll never happen, since I’ve yet to leave my first… πŸ˜€

    • Hi Auntie Bellum…yep, right there is one of my other thoughts – what’s wrong with working just to make a living, and using your spare time to follow your heart? Nothing, I say.

      Do you know how much bloody easier life would be if everyone just married their daughters off to some bloke when they turned 18, to cook dinner and make some babies?

  6. I think you’re a very good writer and wonder if you could combine that with specialist knowledge – plus any point in using your skills to train people to do it rather than do it yourself? And given your ‘big sister’ work you’d probably do really well in some sort of helping/caring role although the money is often worse than fuck all. Counselling would be good but may be expensive to train.
    good luck. I changed my direction when I was 30 and it was good

    • Thanks H, that’s very kind. I’ve found that any sort of study is going to be prohibitively expensive – yes, I probably could move into a share house and live off ramen, but…no. I’ve been thinking about social work for a while, actually.

  7. I didn’t want to do what I’m doing now for the rest of my life, and still don’t. It pays the bills and allows me to live my REAL life … it’s allowed me to purchase and (mostly) renovate a house I’ll live in forever (and I’m okay with that), and I’m as happy as I can expect to be. The JOB, by the way, has nothing to do with that happiness. It’s like driving to Disneyland … the highway is not the “happiest place on earth” after all.

    It’s funny that you mentioned that you realized buying a house would tie you to your job “forever.” I had that very same conversation with a coworker the other night. He was looking at houses to buy in the little town I live in (he lives in the “city” 30 miles away) so that he could save gas money on commuting to work. It dawned on him, though, that by buying a house here he was saying, “I love my job so much that I’m willing to make major alterations to my life for it” … and that he really didn’t feel that way about the job.

    Well, I tried to make this comment as long as Amelie’s … but she’s younger than me and has more stamina …

    • Thanks GOM. See, that’s the other angle to my issue, the whole “work to live” thing. I guess there’s no right answer – you can chase a career you love and make that your life, or let your job be a JOB and live your life in other ways. I wish someone would just give me a damn handbook.

      I’m glad it’s not just me freaking out about the house hunt/job condundrum.

        • Nah – I was being flippant. And mildly inebriated. As I recall, the JWs claimed the world would end on a date in the late ’90s and they’d all be taken up to space whilst us atheists and sundry religious adherents would be destroyed with the planet. Last time I checked we were still all here (apologies to believers but in my view it’s all bunkum – fairy stories invented to control people. Science be praised! Oops – here come the sea otters! Only South Park fans will get that,,, πŸ˜€ ).

  8. I’m currently working running Horsham Laser Tag on the weekends and being a house husband during the week. For someone who has been in IT forever it has been quite a surprise.

    I loved working on PC’s but now that it all seems to be contract work and working for dodgy Indians, it doesn’t have the appeal it once had. Made me quite ill in fact.

    The good news is that working with kids is an absolute ball. I never would have picked it but getting the kids running around yelling their heads off is a real blast. The Boss doesn’t exactly enjoy working with kids and especially doesn’t like them being noisy but I love it. He stays out of the way and lets me get on with it.

    I must say I have never been one for long term plans and probably just as well. When opportunities come up it’s fun to try out new things.and have a crack at it. I once met an accountant with a 20 year plan. I felt very sorry for him.

    Mind you, having a Missus who works and prefers me to be home gives me the financial backing to keep living this way.

    Cheers and good luck on your continuing adventure. Making a list gets you thinking the right way.

    • Oh my god, I don’t think I could handle the laser tag kids either! Kudos to you. It’s always interesting to hear how people end up doing what they’re doing. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two people I know who are doing the jobs they trained for straight out of school, everyone else fell into their jobs (or you know, got pregnant).

      A 20 year plan seems a bit like overkill – I’m aiming for five years, but as you say, who knows what opportunities are going to present themselves in the meantime?

      Thanks for your input Peter πŸ™‚

      • When I left school after Form 5 (now year 11) and went off to do an Electrical Fitters apprenticeship, most of my mates went on to engineering and a high percentage dropped out to become trainee managers at Pizza Hut for a year or two.

        I’m not putting them down for their decision because we had no experience to base our decisions on but it would have been easier to have a gap year while thinking about it.

        Btw the pregnancy really cuts the options down. I hate it when the media do stories about 16 year old girls who “Only ever wanted to be a Mum.”

        • I would certainly advise most young people to complete a trade before deciding what they want to study at university. Essentially we’re telling 18 year olds to make a decision that will cost them $30K – $100K, before they’ve even been out into the world.

          They’re almost better off becoming parents, for that amount of cash… πŸ˜›

  9. Looking at your list, I would suggest, right off the bat, an internship with a naturopath or holistic doctor. My other thought is, consider going into business for yourself. That way you’re never beholden to an employer again.

    Writing just kind of fell into my lap. I had that bad experience with proofreading for a scam company called Ozio Media, and wrote a scathing blog post about them. I get lots of people reach out and thank me for that post, that I saved them a lot of wasted time. One day, I got an email from the president of an SEO company. He’d been looking for ghost writers, and was researching Ozio when he found my post. Asked me if I was interested in a job!

    My other writing gig came to me when I applied for an editor position for a website. I didn’t get the editor job, but was offered a writing position instead. Now I make enough money to work exclusively from home.

    • I think I’d love naturopathy or holistic counselling – I’d like to read more about it. School fees are astronomical though, so I’d want to make sure it’s something I want to do before I fork out thousands.

      I remember that Ozio post; I’m glad it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. You’re so lucky to be living up in the mountains with all the creatures, doing your own thang – well I shouldn’t say lucky, it was probably just good management. πŸ™‚

  10. Hi Inga! I’m an online friend of your father’s, so when he linked to your your post I wanted to stop by. The building that we live in, whether rented or mortgaged, should not define who we are. If by living in a building it becomes a positive reflection of who we are, and we are happy, then the building has become our true home. Otherwise, I think you were wise to not waste your money, and even more so, to not lose your freedom.

    The best part of my life began at age 30, so you’ve got lots of time to sort things out. I’m almost 56 now, and I STILL don’t know what I want to do with my life – because it’s an ongoing lifetime journey in which my wife and I have collected and treasured many experiences… not all good, but we’ve had many experiences that enable us to say that we are happy, even if not as well established as some people are.

    Wishing you the very best of a life well lived on your own terms. I have a feeling you’ll do very well.

    • Hi Chris, thanks for dropping in! I think you’re absolutely correct that it’s all ‘ongoing’ – I hope I never get to a point where I decide I have nothing left to achieve. And yeah, happiness is a big bonus πŸ™‚

      Thank you for the vote of confidence, appreciate it πŸ™‚

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