“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but like everybody else, it must be in my own way.” Jane Austen
At the start of each month, my dear friend Ruth picks a quote that applies to what she’s experiencing or focusing on at the time and shares it on her lovely blog. I always enjoy reading these posts, as they not only bring me to some new, but also offer a glimpse into some of the ups & downs of fellow maker friends. So I’d like to follow suit and start each month off with a quote too.
I came across Jane Austen’s words almost ten years ago, around the time I was in my second year of University and really struggling with my health. The demands of studying for a highly academic degree in a large city far from my parents had taken their toll during my first term and I went back after Christmas on the brink of a major relapse. I found myself with two choices, both equally difficult. Change from full time to part time study, which would mean that my degree would take me six years to complete instead of the usual three. Or stop everything and return home. I chose to remain, but it was one of the most painful decision I have ever had to make. For four successive years, I had to watch on from the sidelines as dear friends made during that academic year graduated at the start of each summer and left me behind. I was genuinely delighted to see them fly off into the world, but also so disheartened each time. It felt as though life had ground to a halt and I would be an eternal Undergraduate, stuck wandering the stacks at the Arts & Social Sciences Library forever. Looking back now, of course it’s easy to see that everything has turned out alright in the end. I eventually graduated in 2012 (aged 25) with a swish of my academic robe and a First Class Honours Degree to my name. But at the time I found it hard to accept the incredibly slow pace my health was forcing on me, and the feeling of stagnation that it brought with it.
I come back to this quote, time and time again, when I need to be reminded that it is not only okay to do things in my own way, but actually the only way. Because otherwise I cannot be true to myself. Recently when I’ve felt the little niggles of external pressure with regard to pursuing this little dream, I try to remind myself of Austen’s words. If slow and steady is my way, then I should fully embrace this path, and make it my own. No one but me can live my life for me, and so ultimately, I need to work to my strengths and do what works best for me. Which surely is the whole point to working for myself, after all?